2/27/13

simple deer cross stitch

After this cross stitch project, I was longing for something simple and easy - a one or two sitting kind of project. I remembered a deer head silhouette pattern in Issue 259 of Cross Stitcher magazine and knew it would be the perfect project to wind down after that last one.


This took a couple of hours of stitching while I watched Downton Abbey. I finally got into that show after about three tries. Everyone was talking about it so I knew there had to be something good despite the first couple of episodes that I found boring and tedious. Once I got familiar with the characters and what was happening I fell in love and watched the first two seasons in about 2 weeks. I just started season 3 today, so no spoilers! I have been avoiding any posts or facebook statuses (statii?) successfully so far. Also I keep saying Mr. Bates in my head over and over again. Mr. Baaaates. If you watch the show you know exactly what I am talking about.


I love this simple little projects just as much as I love the big complicated ones. Ok maybe not just as much, but close. 

The stitching project I am thinking about for March is another big one and I'm excited to pick out colors and get started. Have you been stitching lately? Share a link in the comments - I'd love to check them out!

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2/19/13

book review and project: anna maria's needleworks notebook

Remember when I posted my January goal results? In true Allison fashion, here I am two weeks later to finally share pictures. Two weeks isn't that bad, really. I was just trying to build anticipation. Let's go with that.


Here it is, in all it's colorful glory. Oh, I love it so much. We are in the midst of a living room re-do and this is literally the only thing hanging on our wall right now. I don't know if it will stay where it is, but I had to hang it up immediately after I framed it.


The pattern is from Anna Maria's Needleworks Notebook. This is the biggest cross stitch project I've ever taken on and I was a little scared of it. I'll be pretty honest, it was not the easiest project to get started on. I'll explain why.


This book is beautiful. So beautiful. I have flipped through it so many times just to take in all the beautiful pictures and ideas. The projects are unique and lovely, and there are so many good ones to choose from. I love Anna's stitching tips as well as the stories of her personal history with needlework. 

Having said all that, I have a few nit-picky issues with the pattern. The thread colors listed are for Anchor brand threads and I use DMC. That's not a big deal - just a brand preference and I understand that. I found a conversion chart that compares Anchor/DMC and chose my colors accordingly. However, I have seen a lot of cross stitch patterns that list color charts for Anchor and DMC, which is nice and I wish it would have been done here.


My bigger issue is with the pattern itself. The picture above is a piece of the actual pattern. There are no symbols in the pattern where the colors are. A lot of other cross stitch patterns have symbols in the pattern so you can tell not only from color, but also from the symbol which thread you should be using. For patterns with only 3 or 4 colors this is not a big deal, but for patterns like this one with over 20 colors, it matters. There were like 6 or 7 shades of pink and red and purple in this pattern, sometimes right next to each other and it would have been helpful to have those symbols to tell me which color to use. I had to decipher which pink thread was supposed to be which shade of pink in the pattern and it took a lot of analyzing the pattern and the pictures in the book to figure it out.

I know. Whiney McWhiner.


 Once I got the color situation worked out, it was enjoyable and challenging. I probably put over 40 hours of work into this and the feeling of accomplishment after finishing something so big is pretty awesome.


So, despite the challenge and my problems with the pattern, would I recommend this book to others? Yes. It's just that beautiful. Just be ready to do a little leg work deciding what colors go where if you're going to work on this particular piece.


 Now I say something motivational about how you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it but I'm running a half marathon this weekend (what?!) so I'll save all the inspirational quotes for after the race. I'll probably only speak in inspirational quotes for a week after the run. Something like this...

How'd the race go?
"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it."
How do you feel?
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."

No but seriously. Pick a project that challenges you. Do something hard. Then finish it and feel awesome.

(The book link above is an Amazon affiliate link. Read more about what that means here.)

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2/13/13

february happenings

I feel like I have just been barreling through life lately. When I try to drum up a mental picture of what I look like most of the time, it’s not with a calm, graceful confidence that I see myself taking on life. I see myself running Phoebe style trying to get from one point to the next. Work, Gym, Home, sleep, Store, Work, Home, sleep. Back and forth, wildly flailing from one thing to the next. The thing is I don’t feel bad about how my life is or like I am doing a bad job, like desperate that things are too busy or I’m missing out or whatever else you are supposed to feel as a working mom. I feel fulfilled and purposeful. I am good at my job. I am good at being a mom. Our home is not a health hazard. Everyone eats. Everyone is clean. I am pulling this off. Of course I have my moments of self doubt and sheer exhaustion, but for the most part I feel like I am kicking some boo-tay. As a result of all the general life dominating things have slowed down here on the blog, but seasons of life and it's just a phase and all that stuff people tell you when you realize there aren't enough hours in the day.
In case the blog world hasn’t thrown up enough hearts and pink and red your way to alert you to the impending holiday, tomorrow is Valentine’s day. While my home is not all decked out, I have tried to make some time to at least acknowledge the holiday. Maybe I’ll even pick up a card for Anderson on my way home from work. Romantic!
I made heart garlands – one for me and one for a friend. I kept the yellow one and sent away the pink one. The crochet pattern is from Heloise V, and I used this tutorial to walk me through how to make one. It was a fun, relaxing little project. 
I’ve also let Sawyer make some “Balentimes.” He is such a clever train obsessed child that he decorated his hearts with train tracks and more hearts glued onto the train tracks to make a heart train. Then I bought him some scissors at Micheal's and any civilized balentime making went down the drain. He has since shredded every piece of paper in sight to bits. 
I also pretended to be a fun mom and made Sawyer's valentines to take to school for his friends. Just search Pinterest for "heart crayons" and about 1,000 links pop up. I used cheap heart shaped ice trays from Target to make the crayons. I melted them at 185 degrees for about 10-13 minutes. You just kind of have to watch them and maybe use a toothpick now and then to push the half melted crayons down. I made a little card in PicMonkey, glue dotted the crayons to the cards, and wrapped them in little plastic bags in the hopes that these would actually make it home to the kids. We’ll see.
That’s all the crafty stuff I have been working on lately. We are in the middle of a sort of unplanned living room redecoration project. I bought a new couch and chairs and then decided that everything in the room has to change. That's how it works. 
We had the living room repainted a light grey color and since I am going to for a more modern, clean look, I also decided the chair rail has to come down. I’m not a fan of chair rails and they are especially unnecessary in the living room. I removed one section and am sort of dreading all the sanding, spackling, and repainting I will have to do to be chair rail free. I considered hiring someone but 1.) I don't even know what to search for to find someone. Chair rail remover? and 2.) I'm a control freak and I don't want anyone but me making a mess of my house. So. It's up to me to get it done.  
After we are chair rail-less I want to build a full wall shelving unit because I am nothing if not crazy/ambitious/unrealistic about my time. I’m hoping to have this done by May, so we’ll see. I’m even considering taking a couple of days off work just to get it all done while Sawyer is in school. 
I also have my big cross stitch project to share but I haven’t been able to get any good pictures. Coming soon, I promise. It looks so good hanging in our living room, especially since we have literally nothing else on the walls, missing chair rails, mismatched furniture and no curtains. It's the highlight of the room!
That’s all the crazy happening here.  I’m feeling busy and blessed and hopeful. It’s a good way to feel
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2/1/13

2013 goals: january results

Remember my 2013 goals? I mean, I barely do. No wonder New Year's Resolutions fall by the wayside so quickly. I can hardly remember what mine were. Good thing I have this blog to remind me. 


 Click here to read the original post. 
January was a success! Here's how we stacked up:

Our Goals Together:
1. One date a month. We were total overachievers and went on two dates. For our first date we just went to dinner and then I tormented Anderson by dragging him to the antique mall. The look of total desperation on his face every time I said "Just one more aisle" was so cute!

 
I got this cute little printing press drawer to hold some miniatures I have. Anderson was so excited to find it. ha. For our second date, we went out to dinner again and then went to Best Buy to use some rewards dollars that were about to expire. Although our dates were nothing exciting, it's been good for us to learn how to eat a meal without a kid in tow. 

2. Host a dinner once a month. We rocked  this one too. We had some new friends from our church over for dinner one Saturday night. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made the whole meal - chicken, salad, corn casserole, garlic roasted broccoli, and a pasta salad. So I made boxed brownies for dessert but let's face it - boxed brownies are amazing so there is no point making homemade. It was a fun night and it felt uncomfortably good to let people in my house-sized personal space bubble. Also, I hosted book club this month so twice in one month we had people over. I am being serious when I say that is a big deal for me.

My Goals:
1. Read 2 books a month. Done. I read The Book Thief and The Light Between Oceans. I am not a great book reviewer so I'll spare you any lame/cheesy/weird insights I have, but I would recommend both. They were both interesting and thought provoking and heartbreaking. I cried like a baaaaby at the end of The Light Between Oceans. It was so good, besides being a little dry at the beginning.

2. Finish one embroidery/stitching project a month. Guys. This one. I finished a huge cross stitch project literally on January 31st (it's the same one I shared my progress on a couple weeks ago). I haven't shared it on the blog yet because I cut it so close finishing this and haven't taken proper pictures yet, but here's a little sneak peek courtesy of my instagram feed. 


I can't believe I finished. I've neglected housework, my blog, sleep, and Pinterest for the sake of this project. Totally worth it. For the record, February's project is going to be much simpler. Much. 

3. Run 30 miles a month. I ran about 38 miles this month. That's awesome, but the number should be much higher since my half marathon is next month. It's been really cold out so I've been running at the gym and not really enjoying it. I was bad and skipped a couple long runs because there is nothing worse than an 8+ mile run on the treadmill. February's number should be much higher because I can't afford any more skipping. I've got 13.1 to run in just a few weeks! 

4. Complete one craft book project a month. I shared the string art I made from You Are Awesome: 21 Projects to Make You Happy earlier this month. Read all about it here.

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One fully successful month down, 11 to go. I'm liking this monthly goal thing. I think I've gotten more done this month because I had these little goals to keep me motivated and accountable. I'll try to be better about blogging, but I'm also kind of enjoying just doing and enjoying.

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