Cross Stitch & Stuff

I just added a “Hand Sewn” page to the site, and am working on rearranging things a bit. I think the “Felt & Wool” page will go away… so things are a bit in flux right now. I have already added three of my hand sewn projects to the page, but still need to move my hand made felt stuff over.

This hand sewing thing has proved to be a lot of fun; I am really enjoying it. I think Sean is annoyed though, since he got me a really nice sewing machine for Christmas. I really do still use the sewing machine though, I am just… broadening my skill sets. Yeah, that’s it. There are plenty of things to make that combine sewing machines and hand stitching, like the Totoro I made, and the Summer Love quilt. Admittedly though, my projects are leaning more heavily towards the hand-stitched currently.

The last project I completed was a cross stitched Geisha portrait. This was made from a cross stitch kit that has been sitting in my closet for years. I think I got it when we lived in Cary back in 2005? Or maybe I have even had it since Greenville. Cross stitch was always one of those things that I liked doing, but lost interest in quickly once I actually started a project. It just takes too long to complete anything! So between that and the fact that I didn’t really like the pattern, it got shoved in a closet and nearly forgotten.

However, I finished all my hand sewing projects and was hankering for another… so I dug this one out and decided to make it. As usual I was pretty bored with it halfway through, but I powered on and completed it. Now I am once again wanting for a hand sewn project, but not for lack of trying.

Geisha
Close up

Had this frame lying around, so why not?
Had this frame lying around, so why not?

I ordered everything I needed for some other projects, but when I went to pull the threads out for one of the projects I discovered they hadn’t sent one of the pearl cottons I ordered. Blarg! At least they shipped it out fast enough when I told them about it, but it won’t be here until Tuesday. I also have been trying to get the thread kit for my Geranium Baskets since early August… it finally shipped a few days ago. While I love Primitive Gatherings’ products, I decidedly do not love ordering from them.

Although, I guess it is good that I have to wait on those threads though. It forces me to work on my Elegance quilt, which I am way behind on. There are some updates on that page as well, including pictures of July and August’s blocks. Normally I don’t add photos of the blocks to that page until I have completed all of them for that month, but since I was updating the site I decided to go ahead and update that page.

One Year!

Apologies, I am falling down on posting again. I will try to be better! Life has been busy (as always) in the past month, so I haven’t had much time to sit down and post. There also hasn’t been all that much to post really. I will try to find time to update on my crafty stuff soon, as I have finished a couple small projects. My Elegance quilt is woefully behind schedule though, and I have honestly lost interest in the Thangles quilt even though it is still cluttering my workspace just waiting to be worked on between other projects.

The exciting news it that Anna is now a year old! I can’t believe it. It seems like only a few months ago we were bringing her home from the hospital. It almost felt like we must surely have the wrong date when we were planning the party, but no… she is really a one year old.

It was a busy busy weekend. I am so grateful that it was a holiday weekend; if I hadn’t had a half day on Friday and a holiday Monday I might not have survived! The half day Friday let me take care of some overdue errands and get a head start on our usual weekend shopping, which was great since the rest of our weekend was packed with baby related stuff.

Saturday was Anna’s first Tumble Gym class. There is a Tumble Gym location a few miles from home, near Rex; we were surprised to learn that their classes started at age “walking” so we decided we would sign her up when she was walking well. They don’t charge a monthly fee for the “Tumble Babies” class, so we figured it was worth the $35 registration fee to get her some socialization with other babies. We honestly don’t expect her to get too much out of the classes, but hopefully she will have some fun.

Anna was among the youngest there, although I didn’t catch the ages of the other children. It looked like maybe two others were about her age, while the rest were around two years old. The older kids really took to the place, while Anna and the other young ones were a bit unsure. In the 45 minutes we were there, Anna varied between smiles and tears. I think she was also tired, which didn’t help. By the end she did seem to enjoy bouncing (with me holding her) on the trampoline though, and she did have fun playing with cones and balls. Hopefully as the weeks go on she will warm up to it and get excited about it.

Tumble Gym is also responsible for her first cold. The second I stepped into the place I had a feeling she would end up sick, and that thought was only reaffirmed about halfway through when a two-year-old-ish child ran up to me with snot pouring from her nose. And sure enough, Monday night Anna woke up with a runny nose and looked fairly miserable for a couple days.

Sunday was the big birthday bash. We had always said her first birthday would be a small thing with family only, and we weren’t going to go all out like some people do. In the end though, we ended up renting a room at Dave & Busters because there was no way we could fit everyone in our house. I am not sure of the final count, but we had twenty some family members come to celebrate Anna’s birthday. We never expected so many! It was great to have everyone though, and Dave & Busters was awesome. Totally worth it.

I have a feeling all future parties are going to be similar affairs. It was so easy… just call up and set the date and food order, and then show up. The only thing we really had to bring was the cake and the birthday girl. We did end up picking up some balloons and a birthday banner, but other than setting those up Dave & Busters took care of everything. It was great not having to worry about cleaning anything up before or after, and we had a host of waiters to bring food and drink refills. It was practically worry free. Plus the manager was super awesome. The birthday kid is supposed to get a t-shirt, but the manager instead brought us a big stuffed Minion toy from the prize room when he saw she had Minion cup cakes. He said he didn’t think she really needed a Dave & Busters shirt, and I agreed. And, at the end, he washed the cake serving utensils we had brought with us so that we didn’t have to worry about taking the messy things home with us (they were covered in chocolate frosting) without us even asking.

I hope everyone had a good time. We tried to provide enough game cards for the folks that were interested to go play games, and I think all of the ones that wanted to play were able to. It seemed like people enjoyed themselves at least, and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a card that didn’t get one. We were also able to send leftovers home with people, so we must have provided enough food. I am always worried about things like that when planning a party, so it was great to know that even if we did fall short it would be a simple matter to get more.

Anna was perfect the whole time. At first she just snuggled with people she knew, but quickly warmed up to the situation despite being surrounded by twenty some people. We had a big chocolate cake for everyone, and some Minion cupcakes for the little kids so that they could each have their own. I think the Minions were a hit! I will have to remember that next year, although we will probably pick some new character(s) for it. Maybe Sesame Street or whatever she is into at that time. This time it didn’t really matter since she doesn’t know a Minion from a mushroom. Despite having her own cupcake to destroy, Anna still managed to swipe a handful of chocolate frosting while Sean was helping her blow out her candle. Everyone had a good laugh of course, and Anna was super adorable and clapped her chocolate covered hands when everyone else clapped after the candle was blown out.

After the cake it was present time, which Anna seemed to thoroughly enjoy. Pulling out the tissue paper was great fun, and some of the toys and clothes were fun too.  She walked around waving her tissue paper prizes about, gave hugs and kisses (with help of course) to everyone as she opened their gifts, and generally seemed to have fun digging into the gift bags and being the center of attention.

Shockingly Anna never took a nap after the party.  I guess there was just too much excitement for her to settle down and sleep, and all her new toys were just too much fun not to play with. By her bed time at 8:00 all three of us were thoroughly exhausted. We went to bed right after she did, and slept soundly until she woke us up at 7:00 something the next morning.

So, now we officially have a one year old on our hands. It has been a great year that has passed much too quickly. It truly is amazing to watch this little person grow up and learn new things every day. Thanks again to everyone that came to her party, it was great seeing everyone!

 

 

Shoes!

Anna has officially been walking for three weeks now. Before that she took a few steps here and there, but on July 7 she took her first “real” steps. Over the past few weeks she has gotten steadier on her feet, but still plops on her butt pretty often and does better on carpet than on hard floors.

Just in the past few days Anna has started walking more often than crawling, but will still drop down and crawl when it suits her better. I even saw her stand up to walk from a sitting position the other day, where before she would have crawled if she was already on the floor. Luckily she is still pretty slow at this point, so she is easy to keep up with. It won’t be long before she takes off running though.

Over the weekend she even walked around a little in a couple stores when she got tired of being held. That lead to us taking her for her first real shoes yesterday. She won’t be walking on pavement anytime soon, she falls too much for that… but if she is on grass or in a store, I feel better with her feet covered. So, yesterday we stopped at Stride Rite. The selection was pretty slim, but I found one pair I liked and one that I didn’t hate. While she has had some soft shoes before, these are her first real shoes.

Anna was pretty good while we measured her feet, and then shoved her feet into shoes. I wonder if they make baby shoe horns? Of course when we got them on her feet, Anna didn’t want to walk at all at first, so we spent a several minutes encouraging her to walk. It wasn’t long before she was off toddling around the store getting into trouble though.

Anna hasn’t spent much time in her shoes yet, but she does seem happier to be barefoot so far. I can completely relate, plus I think it is better for her to be barefoot as much as possible while her feet (and her balance) are developing, so she will only have to wear shoes when she is going to be walking around outside the house. If she keeps them on her feet anyway. It took her about two seconds to figure out how to undo the velcro closure, but at least she didn’t pull them off her feet… I am sure that is coming though.

Aside from walking, she is also picking up a few other skills lately. Sean got her one of those buckets with the differently shaped holes for various blocks months ago, and she is just now starting to put the blocks through the holes. She still doesn’t know how to match up the shapes, but if you turn it to the right side for her she can get the blocks in the bucket with minimal assistance. Anna is also starting to understand simple commands, even though she doesn’t always choose to follow them. It seems she might be starting to try out some words too, but I wouldn’t say she is talking. She might be close though!

Anna often says “ah-buh,” “mama” and “dada” as well as a few other sounds that we can’t quite line up with what they might mean. “ah-buh” is often said repeatedly when she is playing with her books, but she will sometimes say it other times as well so we aren’t sure there is any meaning there. There are times when she elongates that sound so that we wonder if she is trying to moo like in her favorite book “Say Moo.” The closest we have gotten to a moment where we thought she might really be saying a word was a couple days ago, while FaceTiming with her Nana. She looked right at the screen and slowly and deliberately (in a way we haven’t heard before) said “Nah Nah,” which is also a sound we haven’t heard her make before. Of course she never repeated it, so who knows.

Back in Black

Kid, Cars, Gas, House, Bills. I would prefer not to skimp on #1, so #2 and #3 needed to change so I can keep a #4 over my head while paying #5. Every time I hit the gas pump in the truck it really bothered me how much gas it sucks up. So yeah, the car bug bit me pretty bad and I started justifying all the reasons why a different vehicle would make sense.

I decided to sell the truck and use the equity to get a trash car, and thankfully Robyn talked me out of that. From there we decided to look at smaller economy cars that could still baby. I test drove the Kia Forte 5, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and a Ford Fiesta ST. The Fiesta ST is a fun, growling little nimble beast of a hot hatch; I would have bought it that day, but with the car seat installed my knees were on the dash. I also looked at the FR-S, but it’s just too small for baby, and sitting in one made me realize that a 2 door sporty car was just not going to cut it. Lots of people make do or even choose to put babies in those cars, but for me it was kinda nice to be over a sports car and feel great about wanting something to haul my lovely family in.

I was not really excited about any of the options I had, and we gravitated back to the Mini dealer sites, where Robyn pointed out a few examples of used Countryman as the back up baby hauler. I drove over to Mini, and after wistfully looking at Hardtops decided a used Countryman was the way to go.

So this happened…

day1

It’s a 2012 S All4 manual 6spd with only 10k miles. A few scratches, but it’s a really tight find. All black… black body with black roof, black wheels, black out lights, and black interior. It is pretty much how I would have configured one out for me in 2012; with the cold weather package, no sunroof, and HID lights. We are pretty satisfied… lower payment, better gas mileage, more warranty, while still keeping one AWD vehicle with the ability to baby. Driving a more driver-focused vehicle again is great! I let Robyn drive it home after she signed the papers and she thanked me for her new car :)
-Sean

Tonari no Totoro

I am really enjoying this felt thing, but I am in need of more good felt (cough… um, Aug 6…cough… just saying). I got that stack of six-inch squares at the sewing expo, but I need to build out my stash with larger pieces and a variety of color groups. The squares were mostly darker colors, I really need some bright and pastel colors as well.

My latest creation was a stuffed Totoro. Someone shared a tutorial for it (Aimee I think) months ago on Facebook, I can’t even remember when. At the time I bought some cheapo felt to make it, but it got put aside and I nearly forgot about it. After making my little felt birdies though, Totoro was on my mind… so I pulled out the felt and made him over the long weekend when I decided I needed a break halfway through piecing my mini quilt.

Totoro came out okay, but he could have been better. I might have to make another one with his trademark open mouth grin using good felt.. and if I do I will definitely make a leaf to put on his head. Maybe I will even see if I can give him some little buddies too. And whiskers!

Next, I think I want to make this Yeti Monster! Or maybe this owl garland. But alas, I lack the right felt colors. See?? I need to build a felt stash! Although the next thing I am truly itching to work on is my Geranium Basket table topper, for which Sean has promised me Valdani threads as a birthday gift!

The lessons learned when making this guy include:

  • actually read the directions (should have left a seam allowance when I cut some parts, so ended up trimming other parts to compensate)
  • cheap felt sheds and just doesn’t feel nice like the wool/rayon blend felts
  • when using poly pellets as a filler, be prepared to vacuum immediately afterwards and work over a large bowl
  • needle nose tweezers are hugely helpful in stuffing tiny pieces like ears (tweezers were a relic of my model-making days)
  • I dislike rayon embroidery thread
  • look at a picture when making a stuffed critter because Totoro’s nose should be higher up and it is going to bother me forever
  • while I never used it for its intended purpose, this formula dispenser makes a good funnel for poly pellets

Here is a video of Anna playing with Totoro for the first time… she seems to like him.

Totoro... I should give him a leaf. He is made with cheapo felt though, so maybe I will just make another one with the good stuff and give him a leaf.
Totoro. He is made with cheapo felt though, so maybe I will  make another one with the good stuff and give him a leaf and try making some whiskers as well.
Totoro's backside
Totoro’s backside

 

Anna – 10 Months Already

Shopping Buddy

(She kept turning to hold the diaper bag’s handles, so Sean put it in the front with her… seemed to make her happy. I think she is going to be a purse girl.)

It has been a month since my last Anna update, so I thought I should write something. She still isn’t walking, although she has taken a few steps on her own here and there. Her record is four independent steps, but we keep expecting her to just take off and go any day now. Most of the time she just takes a step or two and plops down on her butt though.

We can definitely see a change in Anna’s steps lately, as she cruises around holding on to things. Every day she is becoming more surefooted, and just in the past day or so she has started shuffling her feet a little and keeping her knees bent in an attempt to stay upright when she lets go. You can see the wheels are definitely turning trying to figure out this walking thing, although half the time it seems the ease of dropping down to crawl still wins when there is nothing to hold on to along her chosen path.

Eating real food is now old news for Anna, but she is still limited to soft mushy things. Eating out has become a bit more of an adventure these days, as we are always finding new things to give her from our plates. In some ways eating out is a little easier now because she can occupy herself with finger foods while we eat, rather than us having to spoon feed her and then keep her hands entertained so she doesn’t pull everything off the table. In other ways it is a little harder, as she only seems to get about half the food in her mouth while the rest lands on the floor or in the high chair. Plus we have to be a little cautious about what we feed her since she is just as likely to put it in her mouth as she is to smear it in her hair. Last weekend we did pick up some of those bibs with a pocket to catch food, and that has helped tremendously with the blast radius of dropped food. Still, we have to pick up a pile of tidbits at the end of every meal since we refuse to be those people that leave a massive mess behind. A little mess is okay… we just don’t want it to look like a food fight took place.

Eating at home is also an adventure of course, but it is one that we can have more fun with since it is easy to take her directly to the bath tub. Most days we leave the messy things for dinner, since she gets a bath before bed anyway. However, some times we get a little messy in the mornings too. A couple weeks ago for instance, I gave her some banana for breakfast. An article I had read suggested dusting foods with baby cereal to make them easier to pick up (so they don’t stick to trays or fingers)… so I tried it. At first it seemed to work well, but as soon as she started to get full the bananas became more fun to squish than to carefully put in her mouth, as she had been doing. We were doing pretty good until all of a sudden Anna squished several chunks in both fists, then spread her fingers and wiped it gleefully back and forth on the high chair tray just before she put her open hands to her mouth… smearing it all over her face as she tried to shove the goo in her mouth. And then ran her hands through her hair. I had the thought, “well that escalated quickly.”

At that point there was no going back, so I just let Anna have fun with the rest of the banana until she was full. She did eat more, but by the end she (and the chair) was absolutely covered with squished banana. I called Sean to help clean up; when he saw her he had to laugh, and said he could see why I needed help. Sean graciously took care of cleaning the gooey chair while I took the gooey baby upstairs for a bath. Needless to say, I gave up on that whole dusting with baby cereal idea.

In the past couple weeks she has also started to catch on to “sequences” of events, which has lead to her finally figuring out some of her cause and effect toys like her keyboard and a couple other toys she can bang on to trigger sounds or lights. It may also be helping her figure out her sippy cup as well. For a while we have been giving her a cup off and on with water in it, just to see how she did. She seemed to be getting closer to the concept over the past week, so we started giving her one a little more regularly. Today she did pretty well with it, although she still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of getting it at the right angle for the liquid to reach the spout. As long as the cup is pretty full though, she was having success with it today. Anna has also figured out her snack cup, which has a soft lid with slits in it to keep snacks (mostly) in the cup until she reaches inside for them.

I am sure that by the next time I post an Anna update she will be walking, drinking from her sippy cup, and starting to “use” a spoon to feed herself! I can’t believe she is already 10 months old… It is hard to believe she will be a year old at the end of next month.

New Toys for Me

Today we went to the annual Sewing Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center. I know I have been sewing for a year now, because last time the Expo was in town I was picking up material for my first quilt (the one with the owl and hedgehog). Since I was just getting into sewing last year, I didn’t go. Although this year I was looking forward to it, and had even thought about taking some of the workshops and classes offered at the Expo. It turned out that all the classes I was interested in were during work hours though, so oh well. I didn’t want to do any of them badly enough to use up vacation days for them. I would rather use my vacation days to spend time with Anna during the holidays.

The atmosphere at the RCC was definitely different than the last time I was there, visiting Sean while he worked at Animazement last month. Last month the place was so packed you could barely walk for all the people, and there were protestors out front telling everyone they were going to hell. Today it seemed deserted in comparison.

Sean was awesome enough to go with me, even though he really didn’t want to. He took care of the baby for me while I walked around for a couple hours looking at all the different vendors’ offerings. Sean hates shopping, dislikes crowds, dislikes being bored, and has very little interest in sewing… yet he came anyway, that is how great he is. And not only did he have to deal with all of that, but when you get a baby around a bunch of [mostly old] women you are constantly stopped by people wanting to coo over them.

There were so many cool things! It was hard not to buy everything that caught my eye. I did end up with some good loot though, and some notes of things I want to look for online later. I was happy to see several booths that offered felt stuff, which is my latest interest. There were several things that were very difficult to leave behind, but I keep telling myself there will be more opportunities in the future and I really need to curb my growing back log of projects.

Anna was pretty good for most of it, although she was getting tired and grumpy and hungry by the end. Sean had dressed her in the little dress I made for her last week; I am not sure if it was intentionally because we were going to a sewing expo, but of course everyone there can spot a handmade item and it got several compliments. As usual she charmed everyone she met with her smiles, waves, and her baby talk.

There was one old lady at a booth that lit up the moment she saw Anna, and reached up immediately like she wanted to take her before she realized she shouldn’t and dropped her hands looking a little abashed. Other people working the booth saw, and told her she had to stop trying to touch strangers’ babies, so I guess it is a running thing LOL.

The lady proudly told me all about her seven grandkids and one great grand baby while Sean took Anna off to find a changing table. Upon his return he reported there was no table in the mens room, so I went to try the ladies room while he paid for the appliqué files I was purchasing from them. I didn’t find a changing table either, so when I got back the lady quickly cleared a place on the table and said to change her right there. Of course Anna immediately started trying to grab everything within reach, so the lady gave her a small stuffed snowball with an embroidered face to play with while one of the other ladies was telling Sean tales about diapers she had to change when no table was available. As thanks for letting us change her on their table, we let the lady hold Anna. When we asked to purchase the snowball Anna was so enamored with, she said the cost was holding one baby. So Anna scored a dry diaper and a new toy! Later, Anna played with the snowball the whole way home.

In all, I left with a pack of 65 six inch squares of felt in various colors to jump start my felt stash; a white marking pen to use on felt; some needles made specifically for wool appliqué; 32 new cute appliqué files (these, these, and these) along with a starter pack of some pearlescent mylar to use in a new appliqué technique they were demonstrating; a couple patterns for mini wall quilts; a kit for another mini quilt; a kit for a felt ornament; a kit for a wool table topper; and a kit for yet another mini wall quilt that also has some wool appliqué in it. I have no shortage of things to keep busy with!

After the expo, we walked around downtown until we found a place to eat. We ended up at The Oxford, which was surprisingly good for a pub. I definitely recommend it! After that though, things went a bit downhill. We were walking back to the car when I grabbed my phone to check the time. Or at least I tried to grab my phone. I fumbled, tried to catch it, and just ended up prettying much throwing it on the sidewalk, where it landed flat on its back. The screen shattered. Thankfully we have Apple Care that covers this, so I was more annoyed than upset. I scooped the phone up and had an appointment at the Genius Bar before we made it out of downtown.

Unfortunately, as soon as I got to the Apple Store I discovered my iCloud backup was somehow disabled. I assume this happened at the same time all my other iCloud stuff was mysteriously turned off a month or so ago, but I hadn’t noticed. So my phone hadn’t been backed up in 5 weeks! Ugh. So no new phone for me today, since I wasn’t willing to loose 5 weeks of data. It is backing up right now, but right now our internet connection is lagging so badly for some reason so it says 15 hours remain. Hopefully it will finish before my appointment, otherwise I guess I will be kicking it old school and syncing to the computer with a cable.

Despite the phone thing, it was a great day. And to top it off Sean went out and brought me ice cream and cookies after the baby went to sleep. So I have some fresh baked cookies waiting for me right now!

Here are some pics I snapped mostly to just take notes, so they aren’t that great… but it will give ideas of the nifty kits and patterns I got.