Friday, January 30, 2009

Seeing the States on a Shoestring

If you've never read any of Patrick McManus' works, you really should. Just not while drinking soda. According to McManus, there are several different types of panic. Of special interest are the Full Bore Linear Panic (FBLP) and Modified Stationary Panic (MSP). Go to the library and read about them. Trust me on this one.

Last night, I experienced what we'll call Sudden Onset Mom Panic (SOMP). It occured to me that, if we're lucky, we only have about 10 more years left with both of the girls at home with us. That's only 10 years to teach them everything we want them to know. 10 years to share all of the things we want them to experience. 10 years to read books, try new foods, visit new places, and laugh together.

Life does not end when the children leave home. I understand that. I also willingly admit that on a small percentage of days, the very idea of an empty nest causes me to start rehearsing the dance of joy in my mind. Yesterday was not one of them. Today is not either.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could find a way to take our two girls to see something in each of the 50 states before they left home? Just let that idea soak in for a minute. Images of historical landmarks and the wonders of God's creation immediately fill the imagination. Followed closely behind by the nightmare of travel exhaustion, a van full of fast food wrappers and the sinking feeling of hemorhaging money.

My parents went to Mammoth Cave on their honeymoon (therein lies a funny story for another time), mostly because my Dad had already been to most of the other typical sightseeing places on family vacations. My husband also has seen a number of the interesting things this nation has to offer. My own travel experience has been a little different. Yes, we did go on family vacations. I distinctly remember more camping than I care too (Sorry, Mom and Dad.). And I have been fortunate to visit a number of places on my own, including a two month trek in the jungle of Venezuela. So I have not been deprived in that department. But I've never seen the Grand Canyon (airline flights don't count), Mount Rushmore, the giant Sequoias, or Washington, D.C. I've never even been to Springfield.

All of this rambling has a point, I promise. DH and I have been discussing the how, where and when of helping our girls to experience a little bit of this great country of ours. All 50 states is probably out of the question. But if we could take one trip during each of the next 10 years, it would be a start. This is where you come in. I very much want to hear your suggestions. So, in the comments, please tell me the 2 or 3 things that you consider "must see" items in your state. We'll figure out the how and when.

Expect more on this topic. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On Your Marks...

Just in case you didn't get enough yesterday, here are some more Norwegian Hardanger Embroidery bookmarks. Incidentally, both letter "As" in the word hardanger are pronounced with the "ahh" sound. The "G" sounds like the g in girl, not gym.

The ivory bookmark on the left is another of my own designs. White on white and ivory on ivory are the most traditional styles of Hardanger. We named this one "Kelly", after my niece, because it has a lot going on just like her. It contains buttonhole, satin and cable stitches. Satin stitching can take on many different shapes; from straight lines, cloister blocks, and other geometrics, to the fancy ship's heads pictured in the blue and sherbet pieces below.

The blue, as yet unnamed, bookmark is an original design worked with the silk thread. Below is a close up of the same design done in different colors.

All of these designs are still fairly simple because none of them contain any open work, like the pieces pictured yesterday.

The ivory and blue bookmarks are done on a 22 count fabric, while this sherbet piece is done on a 28 count Jobelain fabric. That's 22 or 28 threads per inch. Typical cross-stitch fabric is 18 threads per inch. This would explain why I get headaches if I work on it too long!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Norwegian Hardanger Embroidery

If you ever take a class on how to write a letter or an essay, one of the things that they will likely teach you is never to begin your piece by saying you're sorry. However since this is the second time that I am going to bore you with the intricate details of a fading art, I feel the need to apologize up front. I am including pictures, but that should only dull the pain slightly.

Norwegian Hardanger Embroidery, as discussed here, is yet another hobby of mine which includes the use of sharp, pointy objects. The above bookmark is one of my own designs, done in ivory (in spite of looking lavender in the picture), and will be part of an off line order that I received last week. I'm telling you all of this as an explanation for why I am not hard at work carving one of the remaining Rainbow Pixies. In truth, I'm a little tired of fairies at the moment and glad for the break.

This lavender doily was a lot of fun to work, even though I really don't like the metallic threads. I framed it and gave it my Grandmother for Christmas. The stitching took a little more than 22 hours.
On my little shopping spree in Minnetonka, I purchased a number of varigated fibers, and Oh, are they fun! One of the things that appeals to me about Hardanger over Cross Stitch (which I don't know how to do) is that you aren't constantly having to change your thread color. The varigated fibers allow you some interest without that tediousness.

This is an ornament design that I played with before the holidays. Unfortunately, I didn't get it done in time to find out if it would sell or not. I'll probably make a number of them for next year though. They'll make nice gifts if they don't sell. I also have a big Poinsettia doily that I didn't quite finish. Ah, well. There is always next year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chicken Licken

The second card in the Fairyland Playstage series is Chicken Licken. The pictures don't quite do it justice, in my opinion. The front of the card is the stage, or just a simple oak tree and pretty background. Incidentally, this oak tree stamp gets a lot of use around here.
From inside the card, all of the characters can be pulled out on translucent ribbons (similar to the 3 Billy Goats Gruff card) and the story can be acted out. Included with the card are the acorn that started the whole thing, Chicken Licken, Ducky Lucky, Turkey Lurky, and Foxy Loxy. The King is represented only by a small stamp image on the back of the card (not shown).
There were no add-ons for this card.

I have one other card in this series planned, but am having a booger of a time finding images that I want to carve. It's not that they don't exist. It's that they don't match what I have in my mind's eye. Humph.

Owls and Turtles

More spoilers! But if you haven't figured out not to look yet...

This first card is just something simple and fun that I put together when I needed a break from the Pixies. This stamp was created when working on photos for a carving tutorial that may make it's way onto AQ at some point.
Awhile ago, someone did a ring called Then & Now. I thought it was a great idea to create cards that featured an older carve and something new, but I could not participate at the time. Just before Christmas, I made these cards. They feature my Letterbox Turtle stamp, which was my very first carve ever and another turtle that I carved just for the card.

That's all for now! The rest of the Pixies are still forthcoming, but I got an order for some embroidery that I need to finish first, so it might be a couple of weeks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

High Maintenance Pixies

Caution: This post contains LTC spoilers!

Several weeks ago, the six year old discovered some pictures that she decided simply must be turned into stamps. That was the beginning of a project that I fear will never end. These trading cards have been more trouble than any of them that I have ever done. The carves take what seems like forever and there have been snags at almost every stage. Paper issues, adhesive issues, coloring issues, fairy etiquette issues, illness....

Currently, only 4 of the 7 stamps/cards are done, when I would have liked to have this project completely behind me by now. Below is a picture of the four that are done. We made two versions of each card: one that needs to be colored by the recipient and one that is pre-colored according to how she saw them in her head. I attempted to color a couple of them my way and was reprimanded. Apparently, soft peach is the only acceptable skin color for fairies (although I thought the silver looked kind of cool). I should also note that I am not allowed to call the blue one a pixie because it doesn't have wings~in spite of her acknowledgement of the fact that butterfly wings probably wouldn't work too well in the water. Somebody has become an overnight expert in all things fairy-ish, and it obviously isn't me.
I wonder what she'll cook up next?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Laundry Funnies

One of the highlights of my day is when DH arrives home from work. I could get all mushy and say that it's because I love him so much and am happy that we are no longer apart, but the truth is that it's because I get to switch from a Zone to a Man-to-Man defense. That and he brings me the Chicago Tribune comics every day.
For the last year, I have been clipping funnies that reflect how much I relish doing the laundry. I'd like to share a few of them.