Here you will often find my thoughts of the day, with the occasional vent - but first and foremost this is where I can share my passion for stitching.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Back to normal again

My last lot of visitors have moved on, and I have my wee flat to myself again - it was a wonderful wonderful visit with them, and so nice to see them again. If I wasn't going back home again next month for a visit, I would have been extremely upset to see them go last night - they're some of the closest family friends we have, and I've known Tracey since she was a toddler ... it almost feels surreal that they were actually here in Melbourne, though. We ate waaaaay too much over the last two days, and managed to help keep the St Kilda cafe economy afloat, having breakfast and coffees out etc. I tuckered the poor things out on Friday, as we enjoyed our time in St Kilda then Queen Victoria Markets - we were supposed to go out for dinner to Lygon Street (the Italian quarter) at their request, but by the time dinner came they were too exhausted, which I totally understand ... so we just ordered pizza and pasta for home delivery, and sat and had a couple of drinks and caught up.

Yesterday we indulged ourselves in an antipasto feast with items we'd bought from the markets - hummus, tzatziki, spiced capsicum dips, three different pesto/nut dips, Turkish pide breads and crackers, semi-dried tomatoes, caperberries, artichoke hearts, dolmades, and bell peppers stuffed with fetta cheese ... it was glorious! Only 3 weeks to go, and I'll be seeing them again, which will be wonderful.

They kindly brought my L&L charts over with them, so I can sort through them and work out which ones I want to put up for trade etc - I've decided I need to be realistic and get rid of those ones that I know I'll never ever stitch, and most of the angels come into that category now.

I stayed away last night up the coast at a suburb/town called Seaford - where I enjoyed the company of friends Bernie and Ali from work ... Ali out-did herself with dinner and we had cheese and crackers, salami and olives while supping white wine, then we had braised lamb shanks and mash for dinner, followed by a fresh plum tart, all washed down with a couple of bottles of red wine ... we could hardly move after all of it, but it was a wonderful night of girlie chat and work gossip :)

I've come home to seeing 412 unread posts in my blog subscription list - I may have to just gloss over some posts and not comment on everything in order to catch up ... I hate doing that, though. I do have to admit to reading everything, even if I won't be commenting, but hopefully I'll be able to catch up during the week by doing a bit each day. In the meantime, though, it's time to get my laundry etc done - the weather is very wintry today with a lot of rain and grey cloud, and the clothes will take quite some time to dry, I think, so better hurry up and get cracking.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend :D

Thursday, April 27, 2006

It's the weekend again ... for me anyway!

Yup, today is Thursday officially, but for me it's Friday, as I have the next three days off. I'm up early tomorrow morning to head off to the airport, then off socialising for the weekend. Tonight I'll be having an early night due to only getting 4 hours sleep last night ... oops. Fraze came over to stay last night, and we headed off out to dinner to a new place that was recommended to me quite some time ago - it has a special "steak night" Tue/Wed each week, and their scotch fillet steaks sell for AU$12, where it's usually AU$18, and it's a great meal ... well worth the drive, we thought, anyway. The venue is The Grace Darling hotel, 114 Smith Street, Collingwood - nice atmosphere, and pretty good tucker (crikey, I sound more like an Aussie every year I live here! haha). We enjoyed it so much, we're thinking of making a repeat performance next Tuesday before I go back to shift work.

We cracked open a bottle of red wine when we got home, and made a ceremonial toast before doing "the deed" ... the "deed" in this case was to cut up my gold Amex card into itty bitty little pieces - that gave me such an amazing amount of pleasure, it was awesome! I've had nothing but grief from them since I moved to Aussie (it was a NZ credit card), but one of my key reasons for getting debt consolidation was to pay the sucker off, and cut it up - and boy, oh boy, it felt good! :D

Unfortunately no stitching done yet again, as I was out all day/night, and tonight I'm a bit overtired to stitch (we sat up watching TV and chatting until 2am ... not clever when the alarm is due to go off at 6.30am!) The great news, though, is that my batman chart arrived in the post yesterday, so I can stitch that quilt block next week :) I also now have one more exchange that's been added to my May stitching calendar - a scissors fob for an exchange on the StitchNZ Yahoo group. I'll start thinking about what to stitch next week some time.

Thanks for your suggestions on my biscornu exchange - I have to admit, I'd already decided to add the initials etc to the bottom, but I was hoping to include a border or something ... I had one idea at the start, that I'll probably end up doing, and hope it won't take me too long to stitch. Mind you, with luck if I get home early enough on Sunday I could get a bit of stitching done then, which would be great.

Thanks also for your lovely comments on the frangipani ... I think it's one of the most beautiful flowers in the world - but apart from looking beautiful, the scent is amazing! It's very heady, and very tropical. I didn't have any luck growing one in Auckland - unfortunately frangipani don't like frosts, and we used to have a lot of quite harsh frosts turning the entire garden white ... it might be OK here in Melbourne, but I have nowhere to grow one ... bummer! The weather in Melbourne at the moment is far from tropical - but very very stunning! It's been a glorious couple of days with blue skies, moderate temperatures, and the autumn leaves giving a wonderful display of reds, bronzes and golds while driving around the streets. I went for a wander at lunchtime today with my camera to try and capture a couple of shots before all the leaves fall off (unfortunately a lot have already disappeared since last week), and thought I'd share a couple with you. It seems strange to think most of you are in the northern hemisphere and enjoying the throes of Spring as we speak, whereas those of us down under are batting down the hatches for the arrival of winter weather ... :) The bottom photo I've posted is the street I've been parking my car in for work - I love scrunching through the leaves in the mornings ... makes my heart sing! :D

If I don't get chance to blog again over the next few days, I wish each and every one of you a wonderful weekend :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another great day of stitching

I managed to stitch for an entire day again today, and got the front of my biscornu completed ... I'm struggling with what to do on the back - I was originally going to echo a lot of the front design, but it's taken me two days to get the front finished - and literally all day today - so I'm starting to change my mind, or I'll never get it finished. Today is my last free day for stitching for a while, so I might have to leave it plain just to meet the deadline :(

Back to work again tomorrow (it was a public holiday today for ANZAC Day), but it's only a two-day week for me this week, as I'm taking Friday off work to pick Glenn & Tracey up from the airport - then on Saturday they head off somewhere else, and I head up the coast for the night ... hence no stitching planned for the weekend. Then next week I only have Mon/Tue to work as a day shift worker, then it's back to real shift work again. I have to admit, my body has loved having the regular bedtimes and hours, and mealtimes, but it won't be long before it's getting assaulted by weird hours again ... my bank balance will be happy, though haha.

Seeing as I still haven't got stitching piccies to share again, I'll post yet another photo from my collection ... there aren't many left to share now, as my photo collection is back in NZ - it would be nice to have some of them here ... perhaps I'll have to pick up some more on my visit home next month :) This photo is of one of my favourite flowers - frangipani, taken in Fiji a few years ago :) This flower will always bring back special memories of my time in Fiji - I have a silk version of frangipani flowers on a tall stem in a glass vase here, as well as a painted plaster of paris type ornament (just one big flower) ... one day I'll eventually get around to stitching my Just Jude XS kit too ... one day ;P

Monday, April 24, 2006

A small happy dance & an apology

Firstly I want to apologise that I haven't been reading blogs for a few days - well, since Easter in fact ... truth is, I really want to make the most of my stitching time at the moment to get my deadlines met - and I know when I sit in front of this PC I'm here for hours, and my stitching time goes out the window! So, I'm make a real effort to start stitching pretty much as soon as I get up, after I've had brekkie ... I feel bad, as it's been a voluntary decision, and not circumstances that have stopped me reading - but I hope to catch up on Wed/Thu after work before I start socialising for the weekend :)

I managed to get a few more stitches into my 'trial run' biscornu ... which might end up being the 'real thing' for my exchange if my other idea doesn't translate well in the stitching. The trial run one is from a chart I bought a while ago, and really wanted to stitch, so I thought it was a good opportunity. The exchange one, fingers crossed, is a collaboration effort from about 3 different charts ... I'm just not 100% how it's going to work out - it looks great on paper, but it's always a different story when it's stitched! Anyway, hopefully today I'll get a good amount of stitching done on both ... and tomorrow is a public holiday, so one more chance for stitching before I have to put the needles down the for the week.

Gina, now I'm on a permanent roster, and I know exactly what shifts I'm doing until approx November, I can work out which Sundays I can get to the Guild - it would be lovely to see you there too :) I'll send you an email once I've sorted it out, if you like, and we can go from there :) Have to admit, I thought of ringing you yesterday morning, but it wasn't much notice to give you ... plus I have to admit, I only really bit the bullet at 10.08am and got moving (I'd been um-ing and ah-ing for 2 whole hours!!).

After coming home from the Guild, I managed to finish my ornie last night while watching The Biggest Loser (Australian one) - it's the Golden Garland design by Paw Printings from the 2005 JCS ornie issue. This might end up being my ornament for the ornie SAL on the FGBB as well ... I'm not sure if I'm going to get time to stitch my Noel one as well - but I've said that before, and still managed to meet the deadline, so who knows? haha.

Rightio, now I'm off to put in a book on tape, grab some brekkie, and make a start on the day ... I'm currently 'reading' H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton, which will be closely followed by Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs - makes a change from DVD's ;P

Sunday, April 23, 2006

2nd post today ...

Well, I did it!! I'm no longer a Guild Guidance Group Virgin!!! Yup, I bit the bullet and dragged myself along today to the Blackwork/Counted Thread group, and I'm very glad that I did. As well as other reasons, one of the ladies brought in her finished Mermaid Treasure Box (Chatelaine design) - wow, what a stunning piece, and incredible to see it in person!! There were about two ladies there similar to my own age, with the others a lot older, which is pretty standard for most Guild groups, I know - and I love listening to the older ladies discussing embroidery, as they have so much experience to share :) Anyway, I was made extremely welcome, and actually managed to get some stitching done ... managed to do a LOT of frog-stitching on my Marine Elegance piece - so I gave that up as a bad job, and put it away again.

Luckily I also took some other pieces along to stitch 'just in case', and popped across the road to Spotlight at lunchtime for some ribbon that looks OK, so I could finish my pinkeep - I just ADORE the colours of this pinkeep, and now I'm thinking of using the same design to make a needlebook or a pincushion to go with it. It's an online freebie chart by Indigo Rose that I downloaded ages ago, with some modifications of my own ... and I'm pretty pleased with it - especially since this is the first pinkeep I've ever tried to make. It's stitched with Jewel of the Nile Needle Necessities thread, which is so so scrummy :) I wasn't sure how to finish the top of the pinkeep off, so I may end up changing it a bit, but that's all I could think of while I was out ...

Aside from that, I also managed to get a bit more stitching done on my Christmas ornament RR piece - I figured I might as well try and get some more of my 'commitment' stitching pieces done so I can tick one more thing off my list for this month, and this one was nice and portable. Only one more project to go after this one, and I get to receive my leftover threads etc ... which is great, because I need the red Kreinik braid for another ornie. For once I haven't got my Christmas ornie stitched for the FGBB ... I have everything more or less kitted up ready to go, just haven't gotten around to stitching it - I think the exchange pieces have taken up every priority at the moment.

Anyway, I'm now going to sit down and do a few more stitches while I'm in the mood - I might try and get the Christmas ornie finished, so I can get back to starting my next exchange piece :) I just couldn't wait until tomorrow to post my piccies ;P

Yippee - part 1 all finished!

(Updated to add this comment for Jenn ... just noticed your comment about the PINN chart - if you click on the link here, you can see a clearer piccie of it. I'm happy to send you the chart once I've finished with it - but it might take a while before I get around to stitching it as it's for a charity block that I might want to stitch in the future, ie no deadline as yet. Anyway, let me know, and I'll put it to one side for you.)

I managed to get all the stitching done on my Melanie's Exchange piece yesterday ... with just a few toilet and sustenance breaks - the finishing won't take very long, so the pressure's off a little bit now. I just have my biscornu exchange to stitch now, then my first ever exchanges are up-to-date. Sorry but no piccies for a while :(

Unfortunately not quite all my commitment stitching is finished, though - I still have my Batman logo to stitch for my final charity block that needs to be received by 15 May ... hopefully the chart I'm going to be using isn't far away from arriving from the good ol' US of A - I just didn't get around to charting it myself, and found it easier to buy one off Ebay (due to lack of time and lack of motivation) - fingers crossed it arrives this week so I can get cracking on it. Then my next charity blocks aren't due until 15 July and 15 August, so I have a bit of a breathing space before then.

Once my Batman logo's stitched, my main focus is on starting my Bunnies in my Garden SAL - we're already into week 3 and I haven't even started yet (partly because my threads didn't arrive until last week). I know it won't take me long to catch up, though, as I can be a speedy stitcher when it's needed (and when I have the time available) - then I want to get back into stitching my Marine Elegance. After that it's back to my rotation again, and starting a new SAL with Carol - the Mystery Bordeaux Sampler ... she's tempted me with her progress piccies, and I finally broke down and decided to join in.

On a different note, my debt consolidation came through officially during the week, so yesterday I spent the day paying off various debts to cut down my monthly repayments - it's still not going to be 'easy street', but it will be a lot less stressful each payday, especially when I'm back on shift allowances again :) I'm hoping now that I can actually put a bit of money away every month that can go towards having a holiday or something ... it would be so nice being able to make more use of my 4-day breaks etc by popping off for a night or two and seeing some more of this beautiful country. But it's early days yet, and I need to work out how much difference it's going to make to my monthly budget, and I guess it'll take a couple of months to work that out yet. I've told Mum if it all works out OK, I'm going to treat her to a holiday for her 70th birthday - and we're going to pop off to Singapore for a couple of nights if I can afford it ... otherwise we'll pop off somewhere locally, as there are a few places on my list ... Coffs Harbour, Mildura, Perth, Darwin, Port Douglas etc. She's said if we go overseas she needs to know for her travel insurance, but if we're staying locally she'd rather not know where we're going, and that it be a surprise. We wouldn't be going until Jul/Aug so there's plenty of time to work that out ...

Anyway, nothing else to report today ... and no progress piccies ... so, rather than waffling on about nothing, here's another old photo I took of some gannets during a visit to Napier, New Zealand - just to add a bit of colour to my post ;P

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I'm still alive ...

Just haven't been in a blogging mood for the rest of the week ... and today this is just a quick post before I go sit down in front of a DVD with my stitching - my mission today is to get the majority of the stitching done on one of my exchange pieces, 'cos I realised I'm seriously running out of time - next week is a really busy one, as Fraze is coming to stay on Wed night, and I have close friends coming over on Fri morning from New Zealand to stay the night, and I'm then heading up the coast to Seaford for the rest of the weekend with a couple of girls from work. So, I'm not allowing myself to be sidetracked with anything else today ... that means, of course, I'm behind on blog reading yet again - but only by a few days, so it shouldn't be too hard to catch up ... that's my job on Monday, if I don't manage it before then.

Before I go, though, I'll quickly post my Ebay spoils piccie ... here is a HUGE display of my daylight robbery last week - I'm almost embarrassed at the price I got some of it at, although they were through businesses not individuals. The funny thing is that the business I bought the Shepherd's Bush needlerolls from (as well as all those VS charts very cheaply), is where I'd seen the SB needlerolls here in the flesh ... and in the store they were AU$42 each - ridiculous, for what's actually in the kits! Anyway, I'm very happy I could get my hands on a couple for a reasonable price, to help satiate my current needleroll obsession :) Some of the VS samplers I'll never stitch in their entirety, but I thought of using parts of them to make up needlerolls ... see, totally obsessed!! Most of the other little kits were for use in my charity stitching.

Right, off I trot to my stitching chair - I think the weather is even going to cooperate today and give us a bit of blue sky and sunshine, so I might drag my chair back into the sunlight for a while to save me having to use my daylight lamp at 10am!

I'm tossing up whether to go to the Guild tomorrow, as it's the guidance group for my favourite technique - Counted Thread ... I figure if I haven't managed to get my exchange piece finished, I could take it with me tomorrow and finish it off ... plus pop into Spotlight (sort of like Hobby Lobby, I think) which is nearby, and hopefully get the ribbon I need to finish off my pinkeep ... then I can finally post a piccie of it yippee :) Of course, I've never managed to get to any Guild guidance groups since I became a member, and it's a huge undertaking for my psychologically, due to my shyness in 'social' situations ... but we'll see if I muster up the courage or not tomorrow ...

OK, enough gabbing, off I go ... hope you all have a wonderful weekend :D

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's been a great day today

I don't know why, but I feel really positive today ... maybe because I've finally beaten those revolting bugs I've had - apart from being a bit headachey and sinusey (but only in a small way), I feel on top of the world. I've been receiving the FlyLady emails for approx 8 months, but today is the first day I actually put the 'zone' work into action. I've also planned my menu for tomorrow in advance, including lunch and dinner. I used to do this religiously in the old household, to the point I think the guys thought I was a bit anally retentive about it - I had the whole week's menus planned out in advance, had most of the food shopping done, and made lunches for us too ... since moving out I've been very lazy with my home chores and just haven't bothered just for me. I also only spent a quick few minutes online checking my incoming emails, then walked away from the computer to get my chores done - I've got a really bad habit of sitting plonked here for hours, then getting too tired to get anything done ... including cooking dinner!

One of my girlfriends at work today commented that perhaps it's because I have 'certainty' in my job now, that all the clutter that's been in my brain has disappeared, and I feel more settled and in control ... I think maybe that has a lot to do with it. For the last year or so, especially, I've been 'on call' with work, and haven't been able to plan anything due to shifts changing every few weeks, sometimes with just a week's notice - now I know I have a stable roster happening from 3 May, it's wonderful. I've also managed to face a few demons regarding my old living situation and come to peace with a few issues over the last few months. You might remember that over a month ago I joined Weight Watchers through work - I still haven't lost any weight on it ... partly to do with the fact I've had visitors every couple of weeks, and partly the fact that I haven't been motivated to count my points or plan in advance, and haven't been eating enough each day ... I feel back on track in that way too - I just hope it will continue.

Perhaps this is the new phase of my life on the whole becoming more 'in control' ... the only thing out of control is perhaps my embroidery stash LOL. Mum said to me the other day, "you have enough" ... Mum, I said, you NEVER have enough! She couldn't understand what I meant, until I said it's like your fabrics (she does dressmaking) - it doesn't matter how much you own, there's always another bolt of fabric that you just HAVE to have ... the penny then dropped, and she understood what I meant ... for me part of the joy is just poring through my stash of charts - even if I never stitch a 10th of those charts, the sheer enjoyment of flipping through them is immeasurable. When I head home next month, I'm looking to flicking through all my folders and working out which charts to bring home next ... but I also might cost up how much it would be to freight them all over here, including my Inspirations and Embroidery & XS magazines and embroidery books ... perhaps then is the time to have a throw-out session - I also know I want to chuck out/put up for trade some of my L&L charts, as I'll never stitch them in this lifetime.

The great thing as well, is that Mum found my duck charts I'd been desperate for - I really want to have a duck-theme for my RR that Renee's organising, and these charts are a perfect size (designed for an afghan) ... woohoo, I have DUCKS coming!! (Yes, hard to accept, but I have even more duck charts than those Mum posted last time - duck mad? Yes, certified duck fiend!!) :D

Can you tell I have no stitching progress to report? Yup, 'cos I'm rambling on again ... it's already 8pm, and I still have a few things to complete for tomorrow, so I'll sign off. Tomorrow night there is a Guild meeting on in the evening that I could go to ... I wonder if I have the courage/inclination ... I guess tomorrow I'll make my mind up. I can take one of my exchange pieces to stitch there ... hmmm, decisions decisions ...

I'll leave you with a photo of the Twelve Apostles, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia (my current 'home turf' ... but one of the rocks has since disappeared, so I guess it's now the 'Eleven Apostles' LOL).

Monday, April 17, 2006

SBQ and Ebay is my friend ... (updated)

Just realised, I hadn't answered last week's SBQ, so here goes:

Today's SBQ was suggested by Carol and is:
"For those of you that stitch while riding in the car or on the train, how do you cope with the bumps and the motion? Do you have any tips for others?"
Um, that's easy to answer - I definitely don't stitch in the car, and never tried it on the train ... mainly because of motion sickness. I've stitched on a plane occasionally, but that's it ... so I can't share any tips, I'm sorry.

Well, last night I managed to get some stitching done while watching rubbish DVD's ... ended up with a bad headache, which carried over to this morning. It's now 3pm, and I'm only just starting to get moving on the day, after blobbing out in front of the computer for an hour. Still no stitching progress to share, as I was working on one of my exchange pieces - I've been doing a dummy run of something I pieced together from different sources, and it seems to look OK in the colour I'm using at the moment ... fingers crossed it'll look OK in the threads I've been given to use - I'm about to find out! Yesterday I also put together my first pinkeep, but I don't have any ribbon yet, so I'll wait until it's totally finished before showing the piccie of it.

Rightio, nothing else to report, so I'll toddle off and make a cup of tea to liven me up, and get a bit more stitching done while it's still daylight.

Kali, the graphics for the progress bars are just static ones, as you say ... I've got them saved so I just have to change the % number in the data coding, and it automatically picks up the correct image, as they're all listed in 5% increments - pretty simple, really :)

Thanks for the comments for my sidebar instructions - hopefully they make sense, and I look forward to doing a blog browse soon to see what you've come up with ;P

And I'll finally finish with some Ebay wins I had over the Easter break, for an unbelievably nominal amount! I feel almost embarrassed at the price I won these for, and the majority of my wins are from one seller here in Melbourne, who charges AU$5.00 regardless of the number of items you win - yikes! I've been avoiding Ebay like the plague recently due to finances, but I succumbed to the temptation when I saw just how cheaply they were going for - and a few of them are for my charity block stitching. So, here were my biggest steals, along with the price (in Australian dollars - and all hyperlinked to piccies I found on the 'net):

Purple Heart - Welshy (dragon) (kit) $2.00
PINN - Beautiful Thai Salutation (kit) (to stitch for a gift) $12.50
PINN - Little Mermaid (kit) $5.50
PINN - Tibetan Mastiff (kit) $4.25
PINN - Yorkshire Terrier (kit) $2.00
PINN - Pixie Bob (kit) $2.00
Victoria Sampler - International Hearts Ireland (kit) $2.00
Victoria Sampler - International Hearts New Zealand (kit) $2.00
Shepherd's Bush - Millennium needleroll (kit) $6.05
Victoria Sampler - Good Friends (chart) $2.25
Victoria Sampler - Rose Arbour (chart) $4.76
Victoria Sampler - Crowning Glory (chart) $2.25
Victoria Sampler - Antique Lace (chart) $2.25
Victoria Sampler - Heart to Heart (chart) $3.76
Lorri Birmingham - A Stitcher's Needleroll (kit) US$3.99
DC Comics Super Heroes (chart - with Batman logo - I was REALLY keen to get this for charity stitching) US$7.67

I only went on Ebay to see if any needleroll charts were on offer ... perhaps a good thing I did ... or perhaps not, considering I'm not supposed to be buying any stash! LOL. But I figure for such a paltry sum, it was too good a bargain to miss, and I especially love Victoria Sampler charts - but I've paid approx $20.00 in the past for one Thea's designs locally, so this was an absolute basement bargain! After this lot, Ebay is going back on the banned list for a while LOL.

Have to admit, though, thanks to Katrina starting the monthly needleroll SAL, I've been searching designs for needlerolls, and I've fallen in love with a number of charts I wouldn't have otherwise seen ... I also found some charts online today by Paw Printings - wow, is all I can say! Some of their band sampler/egg designs are exquisite ... heck, my fingers had better get cracking and getting some stitching done so I can justify another splurge later in the year! LOL. Talking of which, back to it again for the night ...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sidebar photos and progress bars

OK, it seems there are few of you out there who are wondering how to put the piccies in your sidebar, along with progress bars - so I thought I'd share how I did mine. Bear in mind, though, that I have absolutely no HTML or computer programming experience, so there may be a better way of doing it ... but this way (as cumbersome as it is) seems to work for me.

The first thing I came across in my quest for setting up my sidebars when I first started blogging was
Melanie's blog - here Melanie has given us all the use of her progress bars, in blue. If you click on this link it will take you to the right page in her archives, where the graphics are kept. You just right click with your mouse over each progress bar and save each one to your own computer files. You may notice that my bars are a different colour - when I had my blog revamped you couldn't see the paler blue anymore, so my good pal Jenna did me some new ones - thanks Jenna! :D So, that's step one out of the way ...

Step two is to get the progress bars to a hosting program for photos/graphics that lets you post to websites - I use
Photobucket for this. You just create an account (it's free) and start uploading your progress bar files.

Step three is to upload them into your sidebar. I'm not sure if you want to know how to upload piccies as well, so I'll cover both just in case ...

First thing you need to do is to go into your template settings in Blogger ... and work out where you want your progress piccies etc to be in your sidebar. My template, for example, shows the following (I had to type the title heading info as well, to give me a separate 'in progress' section):

(h2 class="sidebar-title")In Progress(/h2)
(center)(li)(a)Dolphins Domain(/a)(/li)
(li)(img src="" alt="Image hosted by")
(li)(img src="" alt="Image hosted by")

You just have to remember, when you use the above codes, you must replace every single ( with <, and each ) with > ... that's the only way I could type it without it turning into an actual command and posting the pictures in the middle of the paragraph - I have soooo much more to learn yet! A good thing to do if you're going to try this, is to save your template before you start (I always did a backup copy and paste into a Word document so I could reverse everything later if I really stuffed things up).

Where I've turned the text red above, this is the file code from Photobucket for one of my progress bars. When you upload a photo/graphic to Photobucket, there are three different codes generated underneath the photo - Url, Tag or Img. You just click on the 'tag' code, alt-C (copy) ... then go back to your template and alt-V (paste) into the template as above, after (li). You do the exact same thing for both the photo and the progress bar, as they're both saved in Photobucket. Does that make sense ... kind of? I'll colour in green above the Photobucket data for my actual photo, that might make more sense. Any time I want to add another progress piccie etc, I just copy and paste inside my template with the new file names.

The one thing you have to be really careful of is the sizing of the photo/graphic - if they're too big, it throws the entire layout of your blog out. There must be a simpler way to how I do it, but I don't know about it yet ... the way I do this is to save a smaller version of the photo especially for my sidebars, and I've set up a separate album for my sidebar photos in Photobucket. I use MS Paint - and basically open the file/photo I want to change ... I then use the Image menu - go down to Attributes and see what size the file is ... the example I'll use below is actually a file in my PC that has it's 'real' dimensions of 19.70cm x 24.83cm which is obviously wayyyy to big for the sidebars. I try to get my dimensions down to approx 2cm wide, and it doesn't matter to me what the height is, as I know 2cm will fit nicely in my sidebars. For this piccie it means I need a file that is only approx 10% of the whole size to give me the right width (1.97cm for example).

So, now I go to the MS Paint menu for Image ... Stretch/Skew - and I "stretch" my horizontal measurement to 10%, and my vertical measurement to 10% and hit OK. My piccie miniaturises instantly. Then I check my measurements are OK by going back into Image ... Attributes, and it's now 1.98cm x 2.49cm - perfect! All I need to do now is to Save As ... then upload it into Photobucket, and I can copy the image data code as we did above. And here's the result ...
Image hosting by Photobucket

Like I said, I'm sure there's a much simpler way to do things - but this is the only way I've worked out how ... and it works, so that's all that matters to me for the time being. One day I'd like to do a basic HTML course, and work a few more things out. Hope it helps you out, though ... if it doesn't make sense, scream out and I'll try to make it clearer ... likewise, if someone knows how to do it much more simply, I'd love to know! :D

Quick post

Just a quick note to welcome my latest commenters - nice to see you, Artstitches and Judith ... thanks for taking the time to comment :)

Going by my stat counter, there are a lot of people reading but not commenting - I'd really love to know who you are, and perhaps find some new blogs I'm not aware of ... if you have time, I'd LOVE it if you could make a quick comment just to say "hi", and perhaps where you're from :) ... um, pretty please? :D

Judith, I'm happy to help you with the progress bars in your sidebar - if you're familiar with adding things to your sidebars, I can tell you where to find the progress bars for downloading ... and if you need more help with laying out your template, I'm happy to copy mine for you to explain how it's done :) If you drop me an email, I'll help you out as much as I'm able to (my email is shakatak at iinet dot net dot au - obviously just replace the "at" and "dot"s etc with real dots). I'm not an IT person or anything, so it would be very basic :)

Well, I said there would be stitching progress today ... not much to show for it, though (mind you, it is only morning here yet, so I have a whole day ahead of me LOL). I thought I'd do some stitching after dinner, but had a glass of red wine, and had the exact same reaction as I did the other night ... feeling really squiffy and dizzy, and I ended up going to bed at 8.30pm! There's something in that red wine that's not agreeing with me, so the last glassful is going down the sink today hmmm. I'll just have to open a bottle of chardonnay instead ;P haha. Or perhaps I should just stick to the orange juice in the fridge ... it might be more conducive to stitching! :D

Hopefully I'll have another piccie to show by the end of the day ... but in the meantime here's the sum total I got stitched last night - impressive huh? haha. This is the latest ornament I received in my Ornament Round Robin with the Ornament RR BB. If nothing else, it probably won't take too long to stitch up ...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Miserable weather

We've had torrential downpours for the last 48 hours here in Melbourne (well, in my neck of the woods, anyway), and a definite drop in temperature again. It would be very conducive to stitching, except the light in my flat is appalling when the weather's like that ... but at least it's helped give me an excuse to continue kitting a few projects up from my stash, as well as getting some housework done, like stripping my bedding etc and getting my laundry washing done. I also got a leg of lamp all de-boned and chopped up and marinating in yoghurt overnight yesterday - so tonight I have to cook it all up, for my new favourite curry recipe ... this version of Rogan Josh became an absolute fave in our old flat when I made it for a dinner party for friends ... just divine, and the meat just melts in your mouth! In fact, seeing as I don't have any stitching progress to post yet again (but hopefully that'll be changed tomorrow, as that's going to be my main stitching day!), I think I'll share the recipe here ... rightio, here goes:


1kg diced lamb
1 cup (250ml) yogurt
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons ghee
4 cardamom pods, bruised
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium onions (300g), finely chopped
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1) Combine lamb, yogurt, vinegar, half the garlic and half the ginger in large bowl; mix well. Cover, refrigerate 3 hours or overnight (I always do it overnight).
2) Heat ghee in large pan, add whole spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant.
3) Add onions and remaining garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until onions are browned lightly.
4) Add ground spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add lamb mixture, stir to coat in spice mixture.
5) Add stock; simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover; simmer about 30 minutes or until lamb is tender. Just before serving, stir in garam masala and fresh herbs; heat through.
Serves 6 to 8

Actually, I think that'll be perfect for dinner tonight - something warm and hearty to fight the winter chills that are in this flat! Unfortunately the ducted heating flame has gone out, and I need the landlord to come and fix it (gas heating scares the hell out of me, and I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm not touching it!) - so my flat is like an icebox today, and I'm wrapped up in my trackpants and warmest sweatshirt and furry slippers ... definitely won't be winning any fashion awards today, but it's comfy ;P

And the finish the post, here's another travel piccie - this time of Government Gardens, Rotorua, New Zealand. Hope you're all having a lovely Easter :)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Squishy mail and Happy Easter to all!

My red wine celebration saw me in bed by 6.30pm last night haha ... perhaps a little too much reflection and celebration, coupled with still getting over my virus and too little food LOL. Oh well, if nothing else, I got a great nights sleep!

A quick note for Nicki - have to admit, my parapenting was getting me ready for a parachute jump (the photo is us almost ready to start running to the 'cliff' edge to jump off). It was a really rough day weather/wind-wise, and when we first got airborne, my stomach was flip-flopping really badly and I absolutely hated it (I get travel sick, and it was an awful sensation) ... eventually my guide spun us round is a 360deg circle, then it felt OK, and I enjoyed it immensely from then on ... when we landed it was a big hairy, and we hit a pocket of air and plummeted then got dragged a bit when we hit the ground as a wind gust grabbed the chute - the main worry was when the ground crew came over, and said "that was a bit scary, wasn't it?" ... "what was" I asked? ... "When the 'chute collapsed" came the reply. So now I know what free-falling feels like, and parachute jumping is definitely out of my list of things to do ;P Bungy jumping is also on my 'never' list. As for the Auckland visit, I've already told Mum I'm going to try to catch up with you, so she knows one night I won't be at home - might even try a get-together from StitchNZ 'generally' as well. I'd offer our house, but the lounge is tiny - if it's OK it'd be safer if I come visit you, as I'll have Dad's car ... but I'll chat more about that via email. As soon as I work out which days I can take off work as annual leave, I'll be able to plan a bit more - looking forward to catching up :D

Rightio, here's my squishy mail photo I promised last night - all fabrics from Silkweaver ... from the top, and each line from left to right, there is - 40ct Meadow Rue Lakeside Linens (for Quaker Bulb ornie), 40ct Summer Khaki Newcastle linen (for Perfect Gifts ornie), 2 x pieces Cream Belfast linen (for my Stitching Leporello), 32ct Raw Opalescent Belfast linen (for Sweetheart Tree bellpull ornie plus some other SW ones), 36ct Sand Edinborough linen (for Drawn Thread Halloween scissor pocket and fob), 40ct Autumn Gold Lakeside Linen (originally a gift for someone, but it didn't turn up on time, and has been on backorder for a few months now), and my last Silkweaver FOTM (I cancelled my membership at the end of the last month ready for living in the 'extreme' poor house) a 28ct Parkland Cashel linen - I have no plans for the Parkland linen, but thought the shade might come in handy 'one day' ;P It means I can now continue kitting up some more projects for the upcoming months (especially my Xmas ornies).

I was just talking to Mum for a couple of hours today (again), and I've been planning the whole coming weekend out with her - it's amazing how uncluttered my mind feels at the moment ... mind you, that's not to say the fog won't return in a day or two teehee. I feel like I've got the head space and energy ready to get back to my routines again ... feels good :) Talking of which, I'd better hurry up and post this, as I have housework to tend to before I'm allowing myself to sit down and stitch. I had a bit more of a think a night or two ago about my Melanie's Exchange piece, and I just have to put it down on paper to see if it will work, but it's a step closer to getting it actually done ...

I'll close by wishing everyone a safe and Happy Easter, and hope that wherever you spend it, you're surrounded by love :)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sitting on a cloud ... cloud #9 to be exact!

Can't begin to tell you how I feel tonight ... I got told today that the Supervisor job had been officially announced, so I could move back to shift work as from their starting date, which is 3 May - I hadn't realised how much the uncertainty of dates had been weighing down on me until I got given the news ... I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders - a weight I hadn't realised was there! I am incredibly happy and just about giggling like a schoolgirl ... it feels as though I'm finally "there", wherever "there" is :) I am sat here supping red wine at 5.30pm in celebration - so it might end up being an early night for me as I haven't eaten anything except muesli and yoghurt and it's going straight to my head haha. I've always been happy about the promotion, but there was always this niggle at the back of my mind about the loss of money etc being on day work, that I'd been trying to ignore ... but at least now I know I'll only have two pay-days coming up where the money is appalling compared to normal, then it's back to the real world again. There's no other way to describe it ... I feel ecstatic!!! The other great news, is that I can now definitely travel to NZ for my Mum's 70th birthday - I would have been soooo disappointed if I had to miss out on it ... if I was on day shift then I would have had to stay home ... I'm still going ahead with the debt consolidation, as it will give me so much more freedom to do as I please, and not have to penny-pinch day to day ... it's hard to explain, but I feel as though life is for "living" right now.

I've thought a few times of telling the blogging world about my earlier days in moving to Australia, which was a bit soul-destroying and emotional for me, and I may one day feel it's the right time to talk about it, but right now it just seems as if my world is finally coming together for me ... even Fraze said the same thing in an email today, that everything is really happy for me at the moment - and he's right! Life is GOOD!! :D

It's funny ... as I was driving to work the other morning, I was reflecting on something that my Mum said to me years ago ... that in the short time of my life so far, I've done and achieved so many things - I'm never one to sit still and let life pass me by. In 30 years I'd done so many more things that she had done in her lifetime twice that age ... and it got me thinking about it - I really do feel truly blessed in so many ways. I've had so many opportunities to try and experience new things - I've travelled quite a lot, I've done a few adventurous things that have pushed me as a person, and I've had some interesting jobs that have helped shape the person I am today ... I've also been very blessed with the people I've met along life's highway - admittedly, not every one of these relationships has ended pleasantly, but it's all taught me something along life's journey, and brought me to where I am today.

I've always been a very shy and private person ... I don't know what made me do it, but I got a part-time job as a barmaid at a rugby club at a young age, where I stayed for 3 years - Mum reckons that's when I finally came out of my shell (and also what formed the basis for learning my very foul language haha), and I began to open up and stand up for myself. Even though I'm rather large in size, I have an adventurous spirit, and it hasn't stopped me doing some extreme adventure activities, such as white water rafting (on a grade 5 river, but I didn't know that at the time!), tandem parapenting (jumping off a cliff with a parachute - don't want to do that again, as the 'chute collapsed hmmm), jetboating, gliding, and my favourite tandem hang-gliding (which I ended up doing twice 'cos I loved the rush so much). I still have some 'wishes' for the future, the main one being hot-air ballooning - my ultimate would be to do that in France somewhere, sheer heaven.

Heck, I hadn't expected this to be a waffly post, and I'm obviously getting side-tracked, so I think I'll stop there - I'll just summarise saying "I feel good (na na na na na na na.....)" :D If I feel like continuing rambling about my life story, I'll post about it later ;P

I'll leave you with a photo not of Greece this time, but of me hang-gliding at Queenstown, New Zealand :D I got some stitching-related squishy mail today, but I'll leave that until tomorrow when I can take some piccies :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Awesome stash haul !!!

And the best part is that it didn't cost me a cent! Well, OK, it did if I include the cost of the postage ... I mentioned that I wanted to do some more charity stitching, but a lot of my old charts were still in NZ, so I gave Mum some of the themes from the Quilts4Kids site, and she hunted through my charts for some options for me ... as well as sending some duck charts I asked for. Unfortunately the actual duck ones I wanted were missing in action, so Mum has been sent on another hunting mission into the garage ... a place that lesser women would quake in fear of! It's not a mission that Mum's looking forward to, but I really really wanted those specific charts for an upcoming round robin (my first one ever) ... if they don't turn up soon, I guess I'll have to choose another theme, and goodness knows what that will be. I have to have my piece ready to ship by at least 1 July, so my decision will have to be made soon. There are a few charts among this pile that won't be used for charity blocks, but it's nice to have them here 'in case they're ever needed' :)

This is just a short post, as I'm pretty wrecked tonight ... dunno why, but I just feel a bit run-down still. I survived my first day shift today, every last 24 minutes of it LOL - wasn't too bad, I guess ... the job is the same as I've been doing for months anyway, so the 24 minutes extra is the only difference really. Haven't heard from my friends that are supposed to be arriving this weekend - in fact, haven't heard from them since early February ... who knows if the visit is still happening! To be honest, I'm hoping it isn't, as I could really enjoy the 4 days of Easter off all to myself so I can concentrate on some stitching etc ... ah, bliss indeed! I guess time will tell whether I get a surprise phone call saying they're 5 minutes away from my doorstep ...

And in keeping with the Greek theme this week, here's my final photo for the week (you're probably grateful just about all my photos are still in NZ haha). Do you get the feeling I love the blues of Greece? LOL.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rotation woes

I've been looking at all the projects I want to start, and struggling how to include them in a rotation ... I think I could just about have a separate section in my rotation and have enough rotation slots to fill an entire year, without having to start from the top of the list again! So, I've been trying to work out which rotation slots I should work with, and which projects I've got in the wings for each slot ... there are probably too many at this stage, but I guess it's all a work in progress and it gives me somewhere to start. So, here goes:

* Focus piece - currently Dolphins Domain
* Smalls/Ornaments/SAL's
* Charity blocks
* Canvaswork/Hardanger/Specialty embroidery & new techniques
* Focus piece
* UFO's (selected at random)
* Smalls/Ornaments/SAL's
* Mirabilia/L&L - currently Winter Queen (then Angel of Love)
* Focus piece
* Band samplers - currently Le Jardin Silk Sampler
* Finishing items (putting needlebooks together etc)
* Smalls/Ornaments/SAL's
* Focus piece
* Kits & class projects
* UFO's (free choice) - currently Nature's Resting Place
* Quilting/Stumpwork
* Free choice

OK, I have to admit, there are a heck of a lot of slots in there, and it might not pan out to be viable - but I figure if I include regular slots for stumpwork, for example, I might actually get some of my old UFO's finished (rather than just having them in the UFO slots). I also have a block of the month quilt that I need to stitch, but I've never really tried quilting before, so not sure how quickly I'll start working on that one ... probably after I've finished all the stumpwork haha. As for the different slots, following are some of the projects I feel will fit into the various areas - there are LOADS of projects on my wishlist, so it might take me 5 years of this rotation to actually see some get finished LOL. Here goes:

Focus Piece: Egyptian Garden Mandala, TW Noah's Ark, TW English Garden Sampler (pretty much any of my 'larger' projects)

Smalls/Ornaments/SAL's: There are loads that fall into this category, hence I've allocated every 5th slot to these to give me plenty of stitching time - my monthly ornament SAL with Friends Gather BB; SAL's with Stitching Smalls Yahoo group (Folding Cross Needlebook by Indigo Rose, Bunnies in the Garden and Strawberries so Faire by With My Needle, Lavender Thistle Collection by Twisted Oaks Designs, A December Box by Cherished Stitches, Secret Garden by FMNIS); my new needleroll SAL with Katrina and 'the gang'; plus my own personal projects, of which there are too many to mention.

Charity Blocks: I'll look a couple of days before I'm due to start this slot to see what designs are required by Quilts4Kids, then I'll get stitching it straightaway.

Canvaswork/Hardanger/Specialty embroidery: Canvaswork pieces by both Jen's Jems and Orna Willis; Garden Sweet Bag by FMNIS; plus I want to start trying hardanger again, especially Walk the Gentle Path by Cross 'n Patch. There are also some projects from Inspirations and Embroidery & XS magazines that I'd like to try out. I could probably include beading in this category too, as there are a couple of Mill Hill samplers I want to stitch.

Mirabilia/L&L: Angel of Love, Titania Queen of the Fairies, Enchanted Mermaid, Queen Mermaid, Royal Holiday, Deco Spirits.

Band Samplers: Bordeaux Mystery Sampler, Crimson Fire sampler by Victoria Sampler, Lily Pond sampler by Just Nan.

Finishing Items: Christmas ornaments, Summer into Autumn into a bellpull, Stars are Shining Brightly into a flat-fold, Pansy pillow into its little magnetic pillow, Merry Christmas by Bent Creek into a quilted wallhanging, hardanger needlecase, towel borders to be stitched onto towels, And Many More into a needlecase, Apricot Elegance (once stitched) into its needlecase and scissors fob, Dena into a cushion, tapestry irises into a cushion.

Kits & Class Projects: Class projects from Embroiderers Guid of America - Beginners Hardanger, Options in Hardanger (coming in a couple of months), Schwalm, Gracie (stumpwork), Casalguidi &amp; Lavender, Ukrainian Whitework; From Heart of XS, Sacramento - class projects by Jodi Merusi, Martha Beth Lewis, Moss Creek Designs, Martha Schmidt, plus one more whose name escapes me right now. Add to that a huge list of kits that I've bought over the years from various holidays and locally (too many to list).

Quilting/Stumpwork: Block of the month "The Blue Collection" (quilting); Stumpwork all by Jane Nicholas - Needlework accessories (thimble pip, scissor keeper, bag, pincushion wheel, needlebook), Honesty & Heartsease, Oriental Poppy, Dragonfly, Pomegranates & Beetle.

UFO's: Considering when I first started my list of UFO's a few years ago there were 44 projects on the list ... as of right now there are now 30 - including the Jane Nicholas stumpwork projects above. I won't bother listing the other UFO's here, as there are way too many.

So, quite a challenge ahead to get all these projects stitched! Perhaps it will help me to fill the need for more challenging/varied stitching projects, though, and stopping me from going off the rails from my rotation. I guess time will tell. As for the moment, I still have a couple of commitments to go before I start my rotation for 'real' - my two SBEBB exchanges (due 12 & 15 May), Batman logo charity block (due 15 May) ... the other commitments are more relaxed timeframes, ie Bunnies in the Garden SAL is happening as we speak, but I can easily slot that into the Smalls/Ornaments/SAL's slot, the same with my monthly ornament SAL ...
Actually, it really helps just putting it all down on 'paper' :D I now just have to make sure I've got enough scroll bars etc for each slot ... thank goodness I have some little Q-snaps coming soon, which will help out :D

And just 'cos there are no piccies this post again, here's another fave piccie from Santorini, Greece (Oia village, to be exact) :)

Stash splurge and 'stuff'

Thanks for the supportive and caring comments over the last few days - they've all been very well received :) Sounds like we all have some horror stories to share with GP visits over the years! I have to admit, I've kept going back to this GP/Medical Centre ever since I went to her with high blood pressure about 1 1/2 years ago, as she had a really professional and efficient manner, and she was the one who diagnosed my gallstones after a few years of pains and no-one ever diagnosing it ... so I try to go back and see her. It means I have to drive 1/2 hour to get there, but for 'important' visits I'd rather have her treat me, with a good knowledge of my medical history, than some quack like I had on the weekend - she doesn't have bulk billing, so we have to pay for our visits with her, but I haven't found a decent bulk billing GP since I moved here ... I'd rather pay the money myself and get a decent diagnosis. All the GP's I've had there have been really good, until this last one - I guess I should look locally for a Dr in my area for those 'quick' visits.

I have to admit, my day back at work on Sunday was a bit rough in the morning, as I still felt a bit 'crook' ... but it was such a hectic and full-on day with unusual and time-consuming scenarios to fix, the day flew by and after lunchtime I felt a bit more 'normal'. I'm now on my final day of my 'weekend' and can't say I have much to show for it ... I went back into work yesterday for a free 'flu shot, then called into a LNS to pick up some extra threads as options for my exchange - I especially loved a Silk 'n Colors thread, but put it back again when I found out it was going to cost $12.95 for one skein! Still struggling with what to make for these exchanges, but I can't post 'why' as it will give the recipients away ... oh well, still plenty of time to go yet :)

Even though I'm on a tight budget, I have had a bit of a stash splurge this week, though, thanks to Nicki's generosity, plus the generosity of my last two houseguests ... I was going to hold their money as 'emergency money', but I ended up splurging on some stash (you can start getting the lecture ready now, Mum haha). I ended up using some of the money to order the Stitching Leporella kit of threads and beads from European XS (I already have the fabric coming from Jenna's gift certificate), which still gave me some money left over. So, thanks to Nicki, I've managed to have a wee stash splurge on some other items that I really wanted from SB&B ... the Judy Odell finishing book for the Stitching Leporello, some small Q-snaps, some Drawn Thread charts, Floss-away bags, LHN Coffee Menu chart, and Quaker Friendship Sampler by Samplers & Such ... phew! And boy, oh boy, it felt good!! My clicky finger has been suffering from serious un-use, but it finally got a good workout haha. I'll post piccies when it all arrives. I decided to get in quick with my order, as there is a 25% sale off at the moment.

I have to admit, I also did spend some of my own money too, as I had 9 hours of overtime coming in last payday, so I treated myself (that was before I had the option for a big splurge-fest) ... after seeing them on other blogs, I ordered some thread keepers from Jodi ... they're just magical!! I'm sure no-one will be surprised when they find I ordered one in the shape of a bird! haha. It's not a duck, but I've already told Jodi if a duck one ever becomes available, I'll be first in line! LOL. I was originally going to post some of my fave piccies of past holidays overseas, seeing as I can't post piccies of my stitching progress for a while - but then the thread keepers arrived, so at least I can post something stitchy-related :) My fabric also arrived from my FOTM with Country Stitch - this is the only regular shipment I didn't cancel, as the benefits are too good (all existing customers got automatic 20% off any fabric purchases, without having to work up to that level of loyalty - too good to resist!). This month's shipment is a 32ct linen "blue ice" ... pictured with last month's shipment I forgot to post about, a 28ct linen "haystack" (I think this could be perfect for my Coffee Menu sampler).

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to start the needleroll SAL with Katrina et al this last weekend due to total lethargy, then work, but I've been scouring the internet for different designs, as it's starting to become an obsession to find new ones ... since I made my first needlerolls last year, I'm dying to have a basket set aside just for needlerolls ... I just have to find some more charts first - I have a few sitting in my future wishlist now for a splurge some time in the far future, and in the meantime I've managed to find some Sweetheart Tree ones to start working my way through. So, next month, I'll be able to join in properly, and I'm getting my first two all kitted up ready for starting :) My first three candidates are Summer at the Ocean by Jeannette Douglas Designs, Strawberry needleroll by The Sweetheart Tree, and Sun needleroll by M Designs.

OK, time to sign off and get some errands done - it's finally a beautiful day outside with blue skies (had started to forget what that looks like!), so I might take a walk up the bay to get some fresh air after getting some mail in the post. It's my first official day as a day-shift worker tomorrow, so I have to work an extra 24 minutes each day, and fight the peak-hour traffic, so I think I might have use of public transport if it's fine weather - it means I get extra exercise to/from the train station (about 10-15 mins walk each way), plus I get chance to read a book on the train (it's only a short trip, so my travel sickness is relatively safe - but it's not long enough to try stitching, plus the train is sometimes standing room only) ... I want to make sure I make the most of my last day as a shift worker haha (fingers crossed it won't be for long, as the Supervisor job is being announced either today/tomorrow, and I can hopefully moved into their spot if it's a shift Hotliner that's chosen for the job).

Geez, I've waffled on in this post - so much for 'not much to say' ... or so I thought! I'll finish with a fave piccie of mine from Santorini, Greece from about 7 years ago :)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Weekend GP's suck!

A very juvenile thing to say, but pretty much how I feel right about now. I just drove 1/2 hour away to my not-so-local GP for a doctors certificate for work, and to get checked out, only to see a different GP I've never seen before. When I called up to make an appointment the Receptionist seemed reluctant to make an appointment with him ... now I know why! What a jerk!! The last thing I felt like doing was jumping in my car and driving for 1/2 hour just to be told I should get back to work tomorrow (it's my last working day before my 'weekend', which is Mon/Tue this week), as I should at least work for one day ... then if I still don't feel well I'll apparently have to take some more time off work and I have to go back again and get some blood tests done, because "we've had to rush you through tonight" ... what the?!!! I just drove all that way just to be told the equivalent of 'take an aspirin and call me in the morning' - I'm disgusted! The whole time I was talking to him about what my symptoms have been he barely looked at me. My mutterings to myself on the way home weren't particularly complimentary! Can't say I'm looking forward to my 6am shift tomorrow ... Oh well, only one more then two days off again, I guess. I do have to admit, my muscle aches are a lot better than they were - but I haven't eaten properly for two days, so I'll try to get some proper food into myself tomorrow.

But today hasn't been all bad - I still have my coat on from walking in the door, as I had to reply straightaway ... I just came home to find an email from SB&B saying my pal Nicki has sent me a gift certificate in celebration of my job promotion - wow!! You could knock me over with a feather! What a wonderful email to come home to - I've sent you a personal email, Nicki, but thank you thank you thank you once again for such a generous gift - you're a real sweetheart! And it really cheered me up after my GP visit :D And there just so happens to be a sale on at the moment ... :D I've said it before, and I'll say it again ... blogging has really introduced me to some of the nicest people in the world! Thanks Nicki! :D

On the blogging front I managed to catch up on about 60 blog feeds today, but got fed up sitting in front of the PC, so tried to get some more stitching done ready to get my exchanges finished ... but I found my stitching last night was out by one thread on the border - I couldn't bear ripping it all out (over half of it!), so I just found a different thread and started a new one ... this time I'm 3/4 of the way finished so I can try the finishing method I have in mind - and also see if the design will work OK with the thread I'll be using for the 'official' exchange piece ... have to admit, I love it in this new thread, it's definitely very "me" - can't show and tell yet, though, so it won't ruin the surprise for the recipient ... I'll show you later, though.

Well, it's soon going to be bed time for me if I'm going to have a 5am wake-up call, so I'd better start getting things ready for the morning. At least I can be comfy in my jeans at work tomorrow ... ;P

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend so far :D

Friday, April 07, 2006

Stitching Bloggers Questions

For some reason my Yahoo group emails keep bouncing, and I'm not receiving a lot of posts, including the SBQ's, so I just remembered to go get them from the website ...

Been off colour the last two days, so took the day off today, and probably will tomorrow as well - I feel like I've been hit by a Mack truck ... I don't have a head cold yet, but I've had really bad chills at work, and my muscles really hurt especially in my thighs, along with a mild headache, and my concentration was appalling at work yesterday ... after calling in sick to work today I managed to finish off 11 hours sleep! Crikey!! To say I've done no exercise whatsoever this week, my muscles are killing me, and I'm walking around like an old geriatric. I couldn't even bear to put on a DVD to watch, so I obviously am not well in the slightest! LOL. I tried stitching for a couple of hours later tonight, trying to work out what to stitch for my Melanie's Exchange gift on the SBEBB, but haven't had much inspiration yet ... it ended up turning out to be a great project for a biscornu, but that's a different exchange ... back to the drawing board again. Maybe I should leave that one until my head is back on my shoulders properly!

Anyway, I thought I'd jump online and check emails, and just remembered the SBQ's, so here goes ...

22 March - Today's SBQ was suggested by Carol and is:
"Have you ever participated in a needlework mystery (ie, a design that you started before knowing how it will look in the end and by which you receive parts of the design via the internet, magazines, or leaflets at spaced intervals)? If so, why did you decide to do the mystery? What appealed to you about it? Did you enjoy it? If you have not done a mystery, would you ever do one?"
I can honestly say my first ever mystery I signed up for was Chatelaine's recent Sea Quilt - I signed up for the first 4 squares, thinking the description sounded perfect for my best friend who's a fish nutritionist (among other things) and loves diving ... but I'm sorry to say I was definitely disappointed when I saw a glimpse of the whole project, and it stopped me signing up for any more - it was totally different to what I expected ... I expected everything to be 'underwater' things, but there are ships wheels and lighthouses etc, and not an actual fish in sight. It's still very nice, just not what I want to stitch. No doubt I'll make one or two of the squares up one day, and probably turn them into pincushions for my smalls basket maybe. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about mysteries on the whole - I do like the idea, and as long as the outlay isn't too bad for the materials, I'd be keen to try another one. I love the idea of receiving a set amount of stitching every month, or at a specified interval - and I love seeing everyone else stitching the different mysteries ...

5 April - Today's SBQ is:
"Do you stitch "on the go?" (On the commute to and from work, during your lunch break, waiting for the kids, etc) If so, do you have aspecific "travel" project or do you just grab whatever you happen to be working on and take it with you?"
Unfortunately I only get 30 minutes lunch break, so I don't get time to stitch during the day as I take the time to walk down to my PO Box to get my mail on weekdays, and I drive to work so don't have time during commuting either - I also get really travel sick, so stitching during a commute probably wouldn't be a great option anyway. The only time I can get away with stitching at work is on the overnight shift, ie 9pm to 5am - if the calls are quiet, I can take a small project into work to put a few stitches into it - I usually have a small project in a plastic pouch that's ready to be picked up and taken with me, but I rarely have the opportunity to stitch it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Thanks for the nice comments

The feedback on my echidna is very much appreciated. It's amazing how many wonderful creatures are only in Australia - when I first started looking for XS charts to stitch, I was astounded at all the weird and wonderful critters out there in this huge land.

Well, today was a very challenging day in more ways than one ... in sympathy with Isabelle with her migraine, I started to get one too - thankfully a few tablets knocked it on the head, and it didn't worsen to a full-blown migraine. It did keep me off work, though, which gave me chance to eventually get quite a few things done ... especially two chores I hadn't been looking forward to. I managed to put Mum out of a job, and got about 4 weeks worth of ironing done - I absolutely detest ironing with a passion ... and the only reason it got done tonight, is because I was running out of clothes for work! LOL. I was joking to Mum on the phone yesterday that it was time she came back over 'cos I was running out of clothes ... Mum adores ironing, and it's definitely one thing that didn't get passed down the gene pool!

The second onerous chore was to apply for debt consolidation - I really hate discussing finances etc, but found out I could apply online, and got the response back immediately. Turns out I have 'preliminary' approval for a personal loan, so I could pay a few things off and just have to make one payment - which will make things a LOT better for me financially ... I'll probably end up paying more in the long run, but at least it won't be as crippling in the short term. I've had to 'make do' for so long now, it will be nice not to have the same constraints around my shoulders ... but I shouldn't be counting my chickens before they're hatched, as I still haven't go the 'official' approval yet. Fingers crossed I'll find out in about two weeks time ...

I was going to drag out an old UFO tonight, but it's 9pm already, and I'm pretty wrecked, so will have an early night so I can try to keep this headache at bay. I think perhaps I may have overdone it with stitching that echidna yesterday hmmm.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Echidna happy dance

Woohoo, managed to get my little Echidna square finished ... but it took me all day, literally!! I was exceptionally lazy today, and didn't even get out of my PJ's all day ... and spend the day superglued to my recliner and my needle :) I just have my Batman logo to chart up and stitch, then all my current charity blocks are all finished. I'll stitch some more later, but I really need to get back into my rotation again. It's gonna be hard to give this little guy away ... he's so cute! :)

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments, as always :)

Stitching progress

It was nice to pick up a needle again yesterday, and see some progress at the end of it ... I managed to get amost halfway through my charity quilt block for Dylan H with Quilts4Kids. His theme is Australian animals and sites, and thanks to Sharon and Gina I had a few to choose from after sharing their Aussie stitching books with me - I opted to stitch an Echidna from "Sourcebook for Australian Cross-Stitch" by Vivienne Garforth. I hope to get it finished today, and I'm ignoring the much-needed housework today in order to get it done ... and Fraze's staying for a few nights this week again, so he says, so it'll only need doing again afterwards, so probably better to leave the vacuuming etc until later ... see, I can find a good excuse for anything! LOL.

I'd like to keep doing charity stitching when I can - and I've included a spot in my new rotation for just that ... it might be only every couple of months I get to that rotation slot, but I figure every little bit helps - and there's nothing stopping me adding another one in every now and then, as the rotation police won't call around and arrest me for breach of rotation ;) Unfortunately a lot of my charts that are perfect for this sort of stitching are still back home in NZ ... so Mum had a phone call from me on Friday asking her to flick through my chart folders to see if there are any charts in there suitable for the latest group of quilt themes, and I'll pay for the postage for them to be sent to me. You have no idea how much I miss being able to flick through my old folders! It's not that I don't have enough here to keep me in stitching projects for years to come, just that I love to flick through them for inspiration - and for 'quick stitches' like these charity blocks. One day I'm going pay for the whole lot, along with my Inspirations magazines etc, to be shipped over by freight ... one day ... :)

Carina, I'll send you an email shortly - it would be great to see you in August :) I wondered how you went about getting your ticket changed - at least when I get to my 'proper' shifts on the new job, I can tell months in advance what days I'm actually working, so we can slot something in. I'm not sure about Luna Park - I know there's one in Sydney, so perhaps it is just owned by the same people? Not aware of any others in Aussie, but then again I'm not an Aussie, so nothing would surprise me! haha.

OK, back to my stitching again ... it's a grey overcast day, and a bit chilly, so a perfect day for sitting inside stitching! :D

Sunday, April 02, 2006

It's finally the Weekend!

For most of you your weekend is already started, but Sunday is Saturday for me this week, as it's my first day of two days off, yippee! Just went and spent some time with Roseanne and Laure before they headed back to Auckland again - it was lovely to wander down to St Kilda and have a leisurely brunch and coffee ... and managed to watch some fighter jets doing acrobatics in the sky, no doubt entertaining the Grand Prix audience just up the road - gave us some added excitement for the day! :D I just decided to give you a little piccie of Luna Park, a well known landmark in St Kilda, just for the sake of showing a picture in my blog ... I certainly don't have any stitching updates to show this week :( The photo was taken when Mum was here over Christmas - today it is quite overcast and I had to drag the winter clothes out, as the temperature has plummeted overnight ... one day the weather is 30C, the next 15C - go figure!! I guess that's just life in Melbourne! :D

On a stitching note, if any of you are interested in canvaswork, you have to take a look at this piece on the ANG website ... it's just stunning! Called Bargello Symphony by Loretta Spears, it's to die for ... it's even in pink, and I still love it haha.

Nothing else to report, really ... I'm planning to start my next charity block this afternoon/evening, as I really want to get my commitment stitching out of the way so I can get back to my rotation - I've also just added more and more things into my rotation, which might work out to be totally unmanageable, but we'll see ... Fingers crossed I'll have some stitching to show you tomorrow - I've got 3 DVD's on hand from Homescreen ... hopefully something will be worth watching this time - and if not, it'll aid with my stitching, I guess LOL. OK, off to start kitting it up ...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Silkweaver is redeemed

Silkweaver are very kindly completing a small order of plain fabrics that I'd been wanting for some upcoming ornies - I approached them, thinking there would be fat chance of it happening, but I'd already had a partial list ready for ordering, just never got around to it thinking there was 'plenty of time yet'. Looks like my backorder from the middle of January is finally on its way too ... so my first birthday stash from Jenna's certificate will be on its way soon, along with my backorder - as soon as I know what the final cost is, I'll make up the balance on some hand-dyed fabric :) What I've ordered so far:
  • 40ct meadow rue Lakeside Linens (13" x 18")
  • 32ct opalescent raw Belfast linen (fat 1/4)
  • 36ct sand Edinborough linen (approx 12" x 15")
  • 40ct summer khaki Newcastle linen (9" x 13")
I was also very very bad last week ... I shouldn't be spending any money at all with the new job starting in a week and a half (well, actually I'm already doing the job, but I don't move to day shift until then) ... but I slipped up! I have a NZ Amex that I've been trying not to use, so I can get it paid off - but I put something on it to celebrate my promotion ... I was going to buy flowers, but Mum agreed they would just die quickly in our heat ... then we thought about a plant, but I'm not really very good at keeping them alive! ... then Katrina mentioned the Chatelaine Stitching Leporello on her blog ... well, I've been drooling over this ever since I first saw it when Mum was here - and I've signed up for it! I just thought it was the perfect design to commemorate this occasion for me ... mind you, I want to stitch it using the silks, and I won't go that mad just yet and get them ... I'll get the kit later on when I'm back on shift work again, and the credit card is looking a bit healthier. The first instalment arrived in the email inbox today and it's just gorgeous!! It would be lovely to be able to stitch it each month, but it's not going to kill me ;P And I'll just content myself with seeing every else's progress :D