Sunday, June 26, 2011

Soccer and Tequila

Yesterday was a great soccer day! There was a West Virginia men's soccer tournament and Madre and I went to one game. I haven't seen a soccer game in person in about seven years, since I was at college. This happened to be a pretty good game, though one team was lazy and scattered and only had a few players who seemed to really love the game. They also had a couple players who were fouling really badly and I hate seeing that.

Then at 9 pm we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant to watch the Gold Cup final. This is the tournament for the teams in north and central America and the Caribbean. Last Gold Cup, 2009, Mexico beat us 5-0 which is really embarrassing. Last night was absolutely brilliant though. First off, we got to watch with other fans who were just as loud as me, and second I got a bit drunk which I haven't done for about a year. I haven't even just had one drink is a few months. 

So Mexico came out pushing really hard, had three shots on goal really soon and then the US came out of nowhere and scored off a corner. Then they scored again! It was insane! They also subbed someone in around like minute 10, which is just another example of Bob Bradley being a twat (there are many such examples). Mexico tied it up before the half with some great goals. Then after the half the US came back disorganized and not pushing nearly hard enough. Mexico scored twice more, one of  which was just one of the more beautiful goals I've seen in a long time. It was literally a perfect game. Very few fouls, great goals, good offensive playing. Fabulous.

Started a new blackwork project using a quote from the Terry Pratchett book Maskerade (which is about opera). I happen to love opera, so it's one of my favorite Pratchett books. The quote is long so I'm doing it in a very small font which is one square wide and a maximum of four high. I'm about halfway done with the text and it's turning out better than I'd hoped.

Friday, June 24, 2011

a fine day for sailing

So Go Sailor is happy, snappy, bubblegummish sort of band with some lyrics that have sinister tones. I like that in my music. It's like my needlework, traditional and sweet but with sinister/snarky quotes. Really that's basically me in a nut shell. So sweet and young looking (people mostly assume I'm no older than 19) but also a bit sinister.

Granted when I showed this piece to my mother she just sort of made a noise and gave me a look, but being a sinister young lady I'm used to that. Instead of selling this piece it will go into my bank of items for my eventual perfectly decorated dressing room. You know, for when I have a dressing room. It will be in the grand Addams Family style of things.

I also finished my cross stitch pattern of the Liverpool Football Club crest thingy. It's not the full huge giant affair with torches and the "you'll never walk alone" nonsense, just the basic shield design and founding date. I don't have any particular reason to support Liverpool but my dad always did, so I always do. Anyway, the pattern will be up in my store in the next few days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Gardens

The garden tour thing is going on in my city. This year you can just wander around people's yards (those that have a garden tour sign) at will, which is fun. Some friends of my mother have the most amazing garden. They fill up their front yard with vegetables and flowers and the backyard is almost completely full plus paths and numerous seating areas.
We went by the other day and my favorite thing is that they've put up numerous large mirrors on the back fence. You don't notice the mirrors until you're right up close to them. Just glancing through the yarn they extend the garden so perfectly and make the tall back fence more appealing. They also keep the compost pile and other utilitarian things tucked inside the garden where they're accessible but half hidden among other plants.
It is really my idea of a perfect garden and makes me think of childhood. We always had a big garden with lots of vegetables, and while it wasn't so organized and prettily laid out, it was quite full. Plus we were always being dragged to various country greenhouses when I was a kid so most nice gardens remind me of those places as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

hours of flowers

I came up with a set of flower motifs and geometric but somewhat floral looking things. Two irises and two pansies which I prefer to roses, but I think the rose turned out better due to the half stitch filling. I should use that more, as I always like the effect.

Anyway, this set of motifs is now for sale in my Etsy shop. There are nine separate designs, all fairly small with the largest being no more than 2 1/2 inches in either direction (probably not quite that). It would be fun to do a huge score of pansies in different colors hanging in clusters on a wall.

I just recently re-read four of Juliet Marillier's books. She writes fantasy novels but they're very different from the usual fantasy rubbish. There are no pet dragons or unicorns, it's not an alien world, and the romance is limited and is not the main plot device. They are set in ancient Ireland and Scotland and are historically accurate as far as it goes (we don't know all that much about the Picts, honestly). The fantasy element is that you take for granted that most of the folklore is true. 

I don't really like most fantasy books and I don't generally seek them out.  However, Marillier is one of my favorite authors ever. There aren't very many authors who are writing in the same sort of genre and I highly recommend reading her Sevenwaters trilogy and the two Children of the Light Isles books (which are set/based in Orkney, the first being about vikings coming to Orkney).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Watch out!

One of my favorite things in TV shows is background jokes. In A Very Peculiar Practice the doctors offices are full of strange posters, one of which is, I think "How can another woman get you pregnant?" I notice these things and I love and adore them.

Still Game is one of my favorite shows ever. I about died when I first saw it. It's hilarious and it's geared to appeal to people in their thirties and older. It seems like in the US everything is geared toward teenagers and twenty-somethings.

Anyway, in one episode of Still Game (series 2 episode 3) there's a poster in the background that shows a picture of a banana with the words shown on my cross stitch piece. Hilarious! I crack up just thinking of it. I think my banana looks lovely. I used Andy Warhol's banana as a guide. Maybe I can sell it to a local restaurant or green grocer!

If anyone is interested in the banana pattern (or the entire pattern, really), just let me know and I'll send it to you or post it here if there's enough interest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dinosaur City

Dinosaurs are the best. They were the best when we were kids and they still are. So I came up with four cross stitch patterns for the some of the most well known of dinosaurs: the apatosaurus (commonly but mistakenly known as brontosaurus), triceratops, stegasaurus, and pteranodon. 

The pattern set is for sale in my Etsy shop. I might do some of them on a flimsy even weave to use on a quilt. Well, okay, I probably won't. I could certainly do the cross-stitching and give the squares to my mom or sister to make into a quilt though. That could work.

Got the appointment dates for two of the procedures the new doctor ordered. Both are for the same day, which may or may not work. one is an MRI, which isn't usually so bad but if the timing isn't right it could be awkward. Going home with an hour before next appointment means only really going home for half an hour, which won't do much but sitting upright for another whole hour won't work either. On the other hand, it would be better for everyone to do them in one day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Revolting Old Soak

I quite like how this piece turned out! I realize I say that a lot but I like most of my work, to be honest. Needlework is what I'm good at and I don't think there's anything wrong with being proud of my talents.

The appointment today went much better than I'd originally expected. On the other hand he wants to me have a bunch of tests that I already had some years ago. One of them, an EMG, is extremely painful and he wants me to have it in all my limbs on the same day. It's not just painful, it leaves you physically weak. When I had it on my arms before I couldn't buckle my seat belt or hold a sandwich. Having it in all my limbs on one day is a recipe for disaster. It's also stupid since EMGs check for nerve damage and the disease I have doesn't cause nerve damage, and all my EMGs were completely utterly normal before.

Hopefully I can convince the doctor doing it to spread it over two appointments, but doctors, in my experience, tend to have no talent for empathy or compassion. It's so wrong. They're doctors, they should be extra empathetic, that should be a requirement! Blugh.

In other fabulous news my car died. So now I get to return to being literally trapped in my apartment and relying on my mother to take me to run errands.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Nothing cheers me up like an early Chip and Dale cartoon, either vs. Pluto or Donald Duck. I love them getting the best of Pluto because I never liked him. Or Mickey really. I'm a Donald Duck girl, always have been. They still make me roar with laughter, perhaps even more than when I was little, in a way that my dad may have found worrying.

I need a lot of distraction lately. I have a doctors appointment early tomorrow morning. While I dislike most of the appointments if only because they put me in so much more pain, this is a new doctor which is even worse. I suppose it doesn't sound bad to most people, but it means retelling my whole story all over again. Six and a half years worth of pain and different doctors and treatments and bullshit and stuff that makes me cry.

Anxiety was never a problem for me. Life never scared me, people never scared me. Even when I first got sick the doctors didn't bother me. I got upset at appointments and cried a lot, but that was because no one could tell me what was wrong with me. The doctors just got worse and worse though. They didn't listen, they didn't answer questions, they didn't have even a tiny sliver of comprehension for what my life was. 

So now appointments make me quite anxious indeed, to the point where my blood pressure and heart rate shoots up stupendously and needlessly worries everyone. If I didn't have my mom to go with me I don't know what I'd do. Sometimes even talking about these things will just make me weep uncontrollably and once I start crying it's difficult to stop, and doctors don't look well on crying twenty-somethings with chronic pain.

The only thing to do was listen to a a Terry Pratchett book and now to pick up a nice familiar read to empty my brain pan. So I recommend you pick up a Pratchett book as well, they're some of my favorites ever. I started out with Hogfather which is a great one to begin with, I felt. The audio editions are amazing!

Monday, June 13, 2011

tea cups and the Vicar

All right, folks, I am now up to four embroidered matchy-matchy tea napkins! That means I can now have a very gloating and prideful tea party. I'm not sure which tea cup pattern to work on next, the others that I want to do are a bit more difficult to translate to cross-stitch so I'm nervous about starting them. Though I have a lovely geometric teacup that would be really easy to do, so I might do that one next.

Otherwise I started work on my first quote from the show The Vicar of Dibley: "revolting old soak." I did the text in an uncial font which adds a certain something. I'm not really sure whether I want to add a border or not. We'll see.

I think I have reverse SAD. I much prefer winter for many reasons, and it being crazy bright out until 8:30 or later is just getting on my nerves. I keep looking at how light it is and grumbling to myself about it. Blugh.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When it comes to humility, I'm the greatest!

So, putting aside humility, I will say that I'm a quite good cook. My specialties are desserts, bread, and cocktails. My lemon rosemary vodka drink is celebrated by all. A few summers ago I got really into making up sorbet recipes. Sorbet is so easy (I have an old ice cream maker that we've had since the early 1990s) and so perfect for the hot summer weather.

One of my favorites that I devised was apple cider sorbet. I crave fall, and I miss the nice, crisp, long falls of my childhood. So this is a great sorbet for when you're sick of summer - which I already am. If you want something more summery, I suggest lemon rosemary - you can make extra sorbet mix to use for cocktails or a spritzer!

Apple Cider Sorbet

**ALL ingredients must be chilled for at least 8 hours before they are put in your ice cream maker. The colder they are the most quickly your ice cream or sorbet will set.**

1 1/2 cups mulled apple cider (heat cider on stove for 20 minutes with cinnamon sticks, orange peel, cloves, etc...)
1 cup simple syrup (with a 2-1 water to sugar ratio)
1 T lemon juice
2 T canned pumpkin (add after the other ingredients are mixed and well chilled, just before you put it all in the machine)

Let work in ice cream maker for 45 min or until it reaches desired texture. Then freeze for hardness.

Recipe created by moi. For I am a mad genius of sorbet! Bwahaha! My fennel sorbet was misunderstood but I have a feeling those Iron Chefs would appreciate it for the palate cleanser that it is.

Tomorrow I'll have at least one and possibly two finished tea napkins to show you! I'm also working on a new pattern which says "revolting old soak" and could be gifted to many members of my family.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Great website find!

So I had to reformat my computer and my good graph paper file was accidentally lost. In searching the internet I found this awesome site where you can specify the size of paper and square size and even the color of the lines. It spits out a pdf file which you can save and then use in Photoshop or Gimp or convert to JPGS or whatnot. 

It's a great tool for those of you creating counted embroidery patterns. Check it out:

I finished another tea napkin cross-stitch! It's a small one so I might actually add a second flower in red just to give it a bit more life and busyness.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New item

There's a new pattern in my Etsy shop. It's the one for this Assumption is the Mother of All Fuckups piece, which I quite like. 

My Miyazaki pattern set is done and will be up for sale in a few days. It's different from my other patterns in the shop because I haven't stitched all of the designs. In looking through Etsy I found that loads of people just sell patterns without an example of how they look stitched and they all seem to do fine. So we'll see. I did stitch my Totoro who is quite cute. 

It's not loads and loads of designs, just a sampling. The set includes Kiki, Jiji, Calcifer, Porco Rosso, Totoro, No-Face (a large design and a smaller design), a couple small tree sprites, and a soot (though I'm not happy with him). I'm happy with it, in any case. I don't really want to do larger full characters, though I might try to slip in the scarecrow from Howl's Moving Castle quickly, but maybe not.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black Books fan piece is fini!

Well here we are. Another day, another hand cramp. I did some minor grocery shopping with my mama and then she very kindly brought me lunch after her hair cut appointment. There's this great little restaurant right by apartment. They make gyros and reubens and fried eggplant sandwiches and all sorts of good things. My mom knows the people who own it and we give it more patronage than anywhere else in town.

So I finished my big piece with the Black Books quote and I must say it looks marvelous. I put the pattern up for sale in my Etsy shop and the border makes a good frame for all manner of quotes, quite long ones too if you use a more space-conscious font. In the next few days I'll be posting more patterns in my shop including a Miyazaki motif set, flower motif set, and the Chicks Before Dicks and Assumption is the Mother of All Fuck Ups patterns.

The weather is giving me problems. First it was difficult because it went from hot to chill too quickly, and now the heat oppresses me. Something about the pressure or I don't know what, affects me even when inside a well air-conditioned apartment. Unless it's about to rain it mainly just makes me tired. The kind of exhaustion that you just can't fight. Also my mom has my car while hers is getting repairs so even if I had the energy I couldn't go see my sister and her brood. I miss my nephew and how easy it is to be happy when I'm with him. He's my curly-headed angel and he loves his auntie, luckily for me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

One of those nights...

**I've made some progress on my current cross-stitch (and I've done a lot more since I took this picture), so here it is. Here's me rambling too. I'm having a bad night, and sometimes I need to get it off my chest.**

It's one of those nights where I would do anything to fend off sleep. Since I got sick I have a lot of nightmares. Some are weird, like nightmares about my plants dying; some are familiar, like the horrible driving dreams that I've had since I was nine or ten. I dream the brakes don't really work, that the gas and break pedal shift back and forth, that I'm driving from the back seat and can't see, that something serious happens and I don't notice compounding the problem. It's part of why I really didn't want to learn to drive in high school.

Then there are nightmares about my family. Last night I dreamed my dad got a really bad concussion, woke up scared and sweating. Add to it that I've had a number of prophetic dreams. I know that sounds crazy and new agey or whatever, but it's true. I've dreamed about people before I've met them, I've dreamed conversations that happen almost word for word, I dreamed the plot of the last Harry Potter book (that was creepy). So when I dream about my family being injured or dying it worries me. 

I dream about a girl I love so much it breaks my heart. I miss her more than I can say and I still dream about her a few times a week. It is painful and sometimes beautiful and generally heartbreaking. I write letters I can't send her, impossible dreams make it seem so easy but I feel my back up against a brick wall.

I'm rambling. It's one of those nights. One of those days really. I woke up early expecting to see my mother but she had her own plans. I'm bad with changing plans, so I rattled around my apartment, did a good bit of stitching, but felt restless and empty and unable to settle back into 'work.' So I reread some old books, silly cheap fiction, only I remembered that the first time I'd read this book was on a bus going to see that perfect girl. "The Only Girl in the World" in the fashion of Sherlock Holmes and Poirot, the best match for me but out of reach forever. It always comes back to that.

When I get my time machine I'm going back to being three years old. That picture was a good Easter. Plus I was adorable.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Movie etiquette

So I often think back to my childhood and the extreme puzzlement that plagued me. Due to having very sarcastic and teasing siblings I stopped asking questions and trusted my instincts instead, which were generally wrong. Sometimes I reveal these things to my parents and they tend to stare at me for a while and go away mumbling to themselves.

Tonight I'm thinking about the movies I saw as a child. I was a kid in the early 90s, which was quite a heyday for stupid horror movies that were becoming more and more grisly in nature. I would go to kindergarten and hear the other kids talking about watching the Child's Play movies and those types of things. This was confusing. These were parents who thought it was appropriate to show five-year-olds a graphically violent movie but would then object to a bit of swearing or light nudity. 

My parents had a good handle on things, I feel. They examined movies on a case by case basis, not just blindly going by a rating system. I grew up with Young Einstein, a movie with some nudity and light sexuality, probably swearing, and lots of drinking. I also grew up watching the Blues Brothers from at least age six. That movie has plenty of swearing, crime, violence, and insanity but also great music and jokes. These were movies we could all watch together and all enjoy but wouldn't give me nightmares and wouldn't cause bad behavior since I actually listened to and obeyed my parents (they were fair and I was the youngest).

I wish more parents examined movies and TV shows on a case by case basis, instead of not monitoring what their kids watch and only getting upset later on, or painting everything with such a broad brush that there's no point.

My favorite movie as of late is Defiance, a movie based on the story of the Bielski brothers, a Polish family who start a haven in the woods for Jewish escapees during WWII. The movie is quite faithful to the real story and the real story is simply amazing. It wasn't a small band of 30 people, this woodland haven  harbored over 1,000 people at some points. I high recommend either renting it or watching it on Netflix.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Black Books: Great Show or Greatest Show?

I talk a big game when it comes to hilarious British shows, because I grew up with them and now make it my mission to expose my lazy family to new ones. I still recall fondly the first time I saw Black Books, back when BBCAmerica actually showed funny shows and not just endless hours of Cash in the Attic and How Clean Is Your House (this was a couple years ago, so maybe they've gotten better again).

Black Books is possibly my favorite of them all, partially because I was assistant manager of a book store. I know everything there is to know about frustrating book store customers and how much it saps you of humanity. I also know a fair bit about drinking, especially when I worked in the bookstore as that was the heyday of the drunk fests that me, my sister, and her husband had.

So this is my first Black Books cross-stitch, but not the last. It's also a good excuse to rewatch lots of episodes to find other good quotes. 

Also, I'm almost done with my Hayao Miyazaki motif set and I can't wait to get it in my store. It yielded some super cute designs and I think it will be popular.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

new projects

Well I decided to leave the Horsefeathers quote without the yellow filling in the center of the flowers. It just ended up looking odd. So that project is all done and I'll be moving on to something new.

My next big thing is a large cross-stitch project around a quote from the TV show Black Books (one of my favorites ever). The quote being "Don't make me get sick into my own scorn," which I've framed with a nice vintage border. I had to alter things a bit to make them symmetrical, but I that's par for the course.

The border and font are both from vintage patterns found on this website, which is about the best resource ever! The layout is a bit confusing because that square chart with the numbered links always stays at the top of the page, but you just have to scroll down to see the patterns. It's fun to explore even if you're not interested in stitching such things. So that's what I love this Thursday!

I also love Miyazaki movies and I'm trying to make a set of cross-stitch patterns around some of his characters and themes. Should be a challenge!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wide eyes and bright colors

Yesterday was a bit odd. I had my eye exam appointment at 9:00 am, which was okay, though I didn't like the office. The exam was way shorter and less extensive than any other I've had. Enough to show that my prescription hadn't changed drastically but not enough to show small changes.

I had numbing drops in my eyes for the first time, which was so weird, then had my eyes dilated, which I both love and hate. I hate not being able to see or focus on anything up close but I like the look of dilated eyes (I associate it with doe-eyed sweetness having never really been around hardcore druggies). When I got home at 10:30 I fell asleep almost immediately and slept off and on (mostly on) until 7 pm! I hate days like that, as I'm not a person who enjoys sleeping, and I hate the feeling of literally not being able to stay awake.

So the good news is that I'm not going blind, the bad news is that I'll have to see my GP so they can check to see if I have a sinus infection. It seems likely, as the symptoms fit. I hate doctors, but maybe they'll give me amoxicillan and I can request to have the liquid which tastes so good - or it did when I was a kid anyway.

The new blackwork piece is almost done. I'm just putting the yellow in the center of the flowers, which I would have done yesterday if I hadn't had that sleep marathon. My brain stayed fuzzy the whole time so I didn't attempt to work on it. Instead I watched Rescue Rangers and decided that the next time I'm getting a cat it will be a big lazy male cat, preferably a ginger, who I'll name Mepps after a cat in Rescue Ranger. Or possibly I'll be a bit dada and name it Mole. You never know.

Do you like fantasy books but find them to be basically repetitive and tedious? Well I know a fantasy author who's much more fun than the rest. Juliet Marillier is the lady and I love her books. She has two trilogies and one book duo already out, plus two young adult books, one stand alone, and she's two books into a new trilogy. The first set, The Sevenwaters Trilogy, are some of my favorite books ever, and her duo which are about vikings is super crazy awesome. The first book of the Bridei trilogy was so amazing but the second two were a bit disappointing by comparison, though still good. Her books always involve a bit of magic and folklore but it's not over the top. It's basically the past as we know it with most of the attached folklore being true but no pet dragons or magical teleportation or anything.