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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

RAK Registry

Thanks again for your support in the creation of our little list - hopefully it will be a useful tool when we want to send a small something to our fellow stitching bloggers ... and a way I can give something back to my stitching pals :)

At this stage I have questionnaires filled out by Cindy, Wendy, Nicki, and Su ... and emails have gone out today to those who are definitely keen to sign up, ie Melissa, CathyB, Cathy (mamacruz), Carina, Margaret, Carol, Christine and Isabelle. More emails have gone to those of you who think it's a good idea, ie Von, Barbara, CathyMK, Karen, Judith, and Katrina.

Others who registered an interest, but I can't locate your emails are Vonna, Annemiek, Sylvie, Meari, Tracy Baby, Coral and Michelle ... if you could drop me a quick line to I'll get the email questionnaire sent off to you to fill in :)

Now a couple of answers to recent questions:

For Whyme - the photo of the roses were taken in Hong Kong itself on a recent holiday there (in the flowers markets, not far from the bird market).

For Julie - the Pacific Pohutukawa is by a New Zealand designer, and can be bought through Nancy's Embroidery in Wellington, New Zealand. They also sell the black canvas for it too, and they do mail order. Their website isn't the best, but they're great to deal with :)

Just a quick post this morning before I head off to work. Dinner was great last night, and very uplifting ... it was nice to discuss 'general stuff' and have a moan about work issues and just generally hang out. That was followed by a phone call from Fraze wanting to catch up for dinner - the first date that was possible in the evenings during the week was 22 December! haha, the joys of shift work! ;)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Coffee Menu & RAK's

My feet were tapping in a small happy dance late last night ... I managed to put the final stitches into Coffee Menu, which is not bad going seeing as I didn't start until Sunday (not Friday as I mentioned yesterday - it was Friday to me, as it was the last day of 'my' weekend so that was a bit of a Freudian slip haha). I really enjoyed stitching this one.

Coffee Menu by Little House Needleworks
Stitched on hand-dyed 32ct Pipi Belfast linen by Country Stitch
using recommended threads

Next up will hopefully be Sapphire Star canvaswork by Laura J Perin, although I'm not sure it's worth starting it yet, as the one thread I have on back order seems to be the main thread in both the outside border and the inside ... I'll make a decision later, though, as today is going to be spent tidying the place up and getting more Christmas decorations out to cheer up my little flat.

I got paid this week and just have enough for Mr Taxman if I don't spend a single cent for the next fornight, but seeing as I have petrol to pay plus a couple of extra essentials for shopping (think female monthly items), he's going to have to wait an extra fortnight now until next payday. At least I now know I will definitely be able to pay him then, which is a big weight off my shoulders. I'm also spending non-essential money tonight by going out to dinner ... this has been planned for at least 3-4 months with girls from work, so I really want to go - I've turned down over 4 dinners and social occasions recently, including the big Christmas party next weekend, due to lack of money, but I think I really need this ... I just have to choose something cheaper on the menu, and by driving I won't be drinking - the night out will do me good, I think! :)

Thanks for all the positive comments about the 'RAK Registry' ... if you like, for all those who comment they think it's a good idea, I'll pop an email out to you with all the questions, then if you want to have your preferences added you can email it all back to me and I'll start loading them up next week some time.

Until the next time, enjoy your week :D

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Just a Thought ... and Selfish Stitching

This is something I've been thinking about for a number of weeks, and wondered what you all think about it. There are times during the year when some of my fellow bloggers are down and I'd love to pop a small RAK (random act of kindness) or pick-me-up in the mail, or even a 'just because' small gift, but they don't have a wishlist etc on their blog, or I don't have their address details etc. And trying to wade through past posts in the archives to work out what their favourite colours and designers are is time-consuming and sometimes not fruitful. Well, I started wondering about having a 'central register' of those small details.

A lot of times when you join up with a new online group, especially for exchanges, you'd complete a small questionnaire, with your likes and dislikes etc - and other BB's such as The Wagon have a wishlist section, and things for 'small RAKs' that you'd enjoy receiving. Anyway, if people are happy to join in, I'm happy to set up a post on my blog where everything will be listed in one place with all the information for my fellow bloggers. The only thing that wouldn't be listed would be the full name and address details ... but I'd keep a central register personally and you can email me for those details if you want to send a RAK to someone. This is just in the early planning stages right now, but what do you think?

The sort of information I'm thinking of collating at this stage are: (updated with Cindy's suggestion)

First/screen name:
Blog name/URL:
Fave colour:
Fave designers:
Fave styles of designs/stitching styles:

Fave thread types/brands:
Fave fabrics:
Any dislikes (eg colours, design styles etc):

Wishlist URL:

Any small RAK's that would be enjoyed (eg tea sachets, stationery, chocolate, etc):
Fave Holidays:
Holidays not liked/celebrated:

Anyway, like I said, it's just a thought I've been having recently. If you
don't think it would be useful, let me know - likewise if you think it's a good idea and you'd like to join in, also let me know (and if you think there should be any questions removed/added). If you'd like to go ahead and sign up for it straightaway, just drop me an email to shakatak at iinet dot net dot au, and I'll start loading them up (don't forget to include your full name and mailing address for my records). I'll pop a hyperlink in my sidebar to where the list will be located permanently for easy access :D Eventually I'd like to build a website with the info, but that's a wee way away just yet, seeing as I need to work out just how to do that :)

Now onto the selfish stitching part of the post - on Friday afternoon I started stitching Coffee Menu by LHN, and making pretty good progress so far. After stitching on and off all day yesterday (I had a 3-hour 'nana-nap' in the afternoon), I'm just over halfway now - I just want to change the wording of "Hazelnut" to "Macchiato" ... I don't know why, but Hazelnut coffee just never sat well with me, so Nicki gave me the idea to change it to something else - one of the guys at work always drinks Macchiatos, so I thought that would be a good choice, and it would be similar in word size too. Hopefully I'll get this finished on my days off (today and tomorrow), then I'm picking up Sapphire Star to start on.

I must say I feel a lot brighter these days - still not quite firing on all cylinders, but a lot better than I did. The thing that sent me 'over the top' misery-wise last weekend was that was the weekend my best friend was in Australia, and I was absolutely miserable that I couldn't see her. She had brought her new baby Jayden with her who I haven't had chance to meet yet, so all-in-all I was super depressed about it all. It just means I have to make an extra effort to try to get to Nelson next time I go home to visit - which will mean flying to Christchurch and hiring a car, so I'll have to save up big time for that!

Anyway, that's all I have for today - hopefully the next post will be to show Coffee Menu all finished! :)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Photo Hunt - Time (& Wet)

Grab the photo hunt code or join the blogroll.

This week's theme is "TIME" ... I was originally going to pop up the road and take a photo of a local building with clock face and flag flying, but the weather has been awful today, so it wasn't worth going (and during the week I didn't have shifts that were conducive to being home in daylight hours either). So instead I came up with the following ...

Very wise words said many many years ago ... "Take time to smell the roses" (Russian Proverb) - over the years I've come to realise how important it is to take time to enjoy the simple things in life, and everything that each day brings ... These roses were from the flower markets in Hong Kong - I just adore how every single bud has it's own protective packing!

Then just for fun, here's my Dad dressed up as "Old Father Time" ;)

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." Carl Sandburg

Now here is one from the archives again ... this time the subject is "WET". I didn't realise I'd brought this photo with me when I moved to Aussie, but sure enough I just found this during the week ... a very VERY old ph0to of me when I was about 17 - on Christmas Day in NZ, wearing my brand new dress I'd bought for the occasion (I was working full time back then as a typist) - my cousin who was visiting from the UK very kindly threw me into the swimming pool, then to add insult to injury made Mum throw a bucket of water over me while he took photos ... have to admit, it's a great action shot! ;)

The next photo is me being stupid - sitting waiting for a bus at Nadi bus depot ... in the middle of Nadi being flooded! I think I was in for a looooong wait! :P

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What a day ...

It's been an emotional rollercoaster today - I spent the morning getting quite teary-eyed from all the gorgeous comments and personal emails I've been receiving (love you all!) ... then at work I had a stressful 6 hours, which ended up turning my entire mood into almost fits of giggles!

I've been involved with a big issue at work that I initially dealt with two nights ago - that was a huge involvement and ended up with me and another girl off the phones for a number of hours trying to fix something. I emailed a spreadsheet of all those bookings that were affected etc to our Head Office before I went home at 11pm ... then they continued to work on the problem overnight. The next day the problem was still not resolved, so they asked the morning shift to continue the same way that I had the previous night, and to send new spreadsheets every 4 hours so they could continue to deal with them. I was called at home at 8.30am yesterday morning, after only getting to bed at 2am (not impressed), then again at 10.30am, just before I was getting ready to come into work (and I still can't work out why the phoned me, 'cos we didn't discuss any of the procedures etc) ... anyway, when I get to work I find out they'd found my original spreadsheet, and added all the new problem bookings to the list (rather than making a new spreadsheet which had been requested) ... to add insult to injury they then put the entire list in alphabetical order ... and saved the files ... so when I came in I had to spend almost 4 hours comparing the old file in my email, to pull out all the new bookings - and because they hadn't processed the 'fixes' properly, I had to go into each and every new booking and fix them up as well. Another office then topped it off yesterday by not ignoring these particular bookings on the queues, and queue-delaying them until today, which means we had to wait until this morning for them to pop up again, then start going back through the queues to find them all and starting again today.

Well, the final straw when I came in at lunchtime today for work to see if they'd managed to find them ... I'd ended up having to stay an extra hour at work last night fixing the problems before emailing the entire corrected list to our Head Office - then left an email plus a printout of a spreadsheet, with lines wide enough for someone to write on them, asking for someone to write up any new bookings (the queue-delayed ones) onto the forms, then to fax them to head office for the final tally. What do they decide to do? They said among themselves, "that's really silly, when we have this great spreadsheet already set up, let's just do the same as yesterday, and add them all into the old spreadsheet, then sort them alphabetically again!" ... My face when I came in today to be told that was a total picture!!!

So, today I spent another 4 1/2 hours cross-referencing through the same lists yet AGAIN (of over 300 bookings), and having to go into every single new booking yet AGAIN to fix them up ... only to get a call from Head Office from an extremely apologetic manager saying not to worry, as the company we're dealing with had finally managed to pull their own report from their own system, so they'd just use their own data ...... aaaaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the loooooong version ... anyway, the upshot of all this, is that I've had a shitty few days at work just because of sheer incompetence of other staff members, and tonight's call just sent me over the top - I couldn't do anything else but crack up laughing and got the giggles. Two of my work colleagues have given me "Luv Ya Work" awards 'cos of everything I've been doing for the last 3 days ... here's hoping the smile will be here to stay for a while longer ;) If nothing else I got some great compliments from the manager in head office I've been dealing with for 3 days :)

I had a good talk to Mum on the phone before work too, and she agrees with me that I should basically forget Christmas (stitching-wise particularly) until after Christmas, and just treat myself to some selfish stitching "just for me" - so that's the plan ... I've listed three projects that I'd really love to stitch, even if it's just making a start on them (I'm still missing a couple of threads/beads), and that's what I'm going to focus on until after Christmas ... then I'll get back on track and get stitching ornaments again ready for 'whenever' and back to my rotation. As Mum says, that way it takes my mind's focus off the negatives of what I can't do for Christmas, and puts it back onto something more positive :D Thanks to everyone's suggestions on that score - they've all been taken on board :D

This weekend I'll be doing a list of the entire contents of the freezers - which won't take very long going by what I saw yesterday LOL - and a bit more menu planning to get me through the next three weeks at least. I've just cooked up the 1kg mince I had into spaghetti bolognese sauce, so that'll last about 6 main meals - and I made beef stroganoff in the crockpot yesterday (I only had half the meat required but I still made the full recipe), so that'll go into the freezer for another 3-4 meals (I just have to add a bit of sour cream after it's been reheated). There are still 3 chicken breasts in filo pastry left ... so that's pretty much covered two weeks of meals ... I'm just not sure what else is in the freezer.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a more positive post for a change - thanks again for all your lovely comments and support, and thanks for hanging in there while I'm going through my less than positive phase :D {{hugs}}

Now I'm off to start kitting up one of my projects ... the four at the top of my list for starting are (in order of preference):
  • Coffee Menu - Little House Needleworks (I have everything, just have to choose which fabric to use)
  • Sapphire Star - canvaswork by Laura J Perin (I still have one thread on backorder from Dragonfly Dreams, but otherwise ready to go)
  • Fire sampler - The Victoria Sampler (pretty sure I have everything)
  • Angel of Love - L&L (have everything, I think, except I only have one packet of each of the beads, and from memory there are about 3 colours that need more than one packet ... if I get time to start this one I'll just stitch as far as I can until I run out ... by the time I get to that stage I should be well and truly over my 'poverty line days' and should be able to pick the last few beads up from Spotlight or somewhere)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanks for the comments

Seriously, thanks for all the support - it's very unusual for me to get so down for this long ... it's just a case of riding the storm until the weather calms, which will hopefully be by Christmas ... hopefully. I'm very lucky in that Mum's taught me to be a packrat where food's concerned, and I have a tall chest freezer for bulk meat etc, so at least I haven't gone hungry so far, even if my menu has had to be substantially altered for a while.

For Alison - I don't have a monthly budget, in that I automatically pay bills as soon as they come in, and know what's normally due to come out ... so whatever is left at the end of the month is technically 'free', and things are not usually this bad. Unfortunately, though, I had $1000 sitting in the bank and blew it on our Hong Kong trip, so I don't have a 'back up' for emergencies any more. Even that would have been fine as there should be sufficient to pay the bills, but having my car keep breaking down and costing about $300 overall, plus a very unexpected $500+ tax bill all of a sudden due (not to mention the $120+ parking fine - and extra money spent on a dinner party), and "I'm screwed" to put it very bluntly. Normally paying bills are fine - some pays I have a small bit left over, other pays I have some extra spending money ... but all this lot came totally out of left field, and I was unprepared for it.

It also means I'm gonna be frugal for a while longer even when things do even out a bit again, so I can get some emergency money behind me again, then next time I won't be so desperate :( So when I can get back to decent grocery shopping, I'll still be eating cheaply for a while longer.

For Maria S., KarenV & Nicki - I have to admit I probably will continue to make my ornies for those special people, but I may now wait until after Christmas and continue stitching them again ... and I might take on the suggestion of a "cheer me up" new project. I've been seriously itching to pick up LHN's Coffee House Menu, so perhaps that's what I should do - and take my mind off ornaments and my rotation for the time being. My ornies will eventually be posted, just not in time for Christmas this year. Maria, your comment about not eating while stitching gave me a smile this morning :)

Nela - Thanks so much for your beautiful words, they are so much appreciated :)

I've even been looking at other areas to cut back this year - I've thought for a few years now that I don't know why I bother sending Christmas cards etc to most of my UK rellies, as I never hear anything from them in return - I'd rather spend the postage on people who actually give a damn about staying in contact ... that'll be a decent saving in itself over time. So this year is the last year I send to 'everyone' (in fact I might make two lists of rellies, and may not send to everyone this year either), and no longer will they get the colour family newsletter on photo paper that I take care to publish and send every year - those with email will be getting it as a .pdf file this year, and any of my UK rellies that don't send me a card this year will be removed from the future mailing lists ... Mum's doing the same thing too. With the cost of the cards, photo paper, colour ink cartridges, and postage it costs $100-$200 each year to send them out, which is just ludicrous, and I'd rather spend the money on those that I want to.

I even said to Mum perhaps I should go back to dial-up, as well, to cut the costs - but that will be an absolute last resort, as my computer access is my life-blood at the moment ;) It's a shame I can't do it without a home phone, as I barely use that at all, and that'd be a $40 saving every month - I could survive on just my mobile hmmm.

What hasn't helped is the news saying the lack of rental properties in Melbourne is likely to see up to a 40% increase in rental fees next year, which really cheers me up no end ... and I would be well and truly beggared then! It's been depressing me thinking I may also have to consider moving into shared accommodation if this happens ... for those of you who know some of my past experiences here with flatting with Fraze's mates, you know how much that scares and depresses the pants off of me. Add to that the news reports mentioning a possible takeover bid for our company, and that doesn't fill me with positivity about job security either ... admittedly that's very very new, and it may not have any initial impacts even if it did go ahead, but in our industry nothing is ever safe and speculations have already commenced ... perhaps you could have waited until after Christmas to drop that little bombshell on us all, management team :(

Anyway, even with this loooong post tonight, it's still likely that I won't be posting quite so often for a short while - I'm very aware that my blog isn't full of the joys of spring at the moment, and I don't want to come on here and moan about everything every day ... I hate being so down in the dumps in my posts, and I'd rather put those thoughts to one side for now. Aside from that, I've had stress headaches every single day for the last couple of weeks, and sitting at the computer screen all day, then again at night, doesn't really help matters much.

Thanks again for your words of support ... I promise to be perkier before Christmas, honest! :)

Christmas apologies

Just a quick post to apologise that I won't be able to send any Christmas ornies in time for Christmas this year - I had high hopes of getting 6-10 to some very special online people, but I just can't afford to do it post-wise. After paying my bills this month there still isn't enough left over for the tax-man, and next payday is a smaller one with no weekend allowances with the month's rent taking almost all of it ... which means 12 Dec pay will be used for paying the tax-man now. It also means I still can't have a good shopping day food-wise until then, and I'm starting to get to the bottom of my frozen foods etc and need to keep every cent I can at the moment to put some semblance of food on the table. This truly breaks my heart, and it's put me in a bit of a stitching slump too - my whole month was planned around stitching these ornies, and it's put a real damper on the month knowing now that I just can't do it.

Sorry if I haven't been online too much - just don't have too much to say at the moment ... to be honest it's taking me all my energy just to get up and go to work - I'm trying to catch up on a bit of blog reading every now and then, but I won't be posting much unless there's any stitching or photography to share for a while.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bordeaux Update

Carol and I have both been working on Bordeaux this weekend - here's my latest update piccie. I've managed to get all of the grape borders done for band #2, and I'm ready to start stitching band #3 next time round. Sorry about the crappy photo quality yet again :(

Saturday, November 18, 2006

SBQ & Photo Hunts

I'm not really in the blogging mood of late - too much going on in my head, I think. I have a tendency to internally smother my emotions, especially with stress etc ... and have been known to make myself physically ill due to it - apparently this has happened ever since I was a child. I've been trying to repress all the financial stress, and I've been managing OK, but it's also put me a bit in 'zombie mode' because of it this last week. Yesterday, though, my car was looked at and nothing major is wrong, which is a huge relief. Now all I have to do is sit down today and pay all my month's major bills (including Mr Tax Man hopefully), then I think I'll settle down a bit emotionally again. I ended up working again last night due to a stuff-up in the roster, and they were desperate for someone to cover "my" shift (I'd taken the day off to go to Sydney), so I offered to help them out again and work. I hate the 6pm-2am shifts, and that probably hasn't helped my mood over the last few days, as it really affects my sleep patterns. Oh well, I'm sure I'll perk up in a couple of days time.

"Do you stitch Christmas ornaments? If so, how many do you stitch each year and for whom? If not, why not?"

Actually, it's only been through blogging that I've learnt how beautiful home stitched ornies are - and I made my first ones just in the nick of time for last Christmas. This year it was my hope to make some for gifts, but I'm not doing too well hmmm (plus my financial situation is putting a damper on my plans too, and that's probably part of the reason I haven't stitched as many as I'd planned to yet). Perhaps next year I'll be more organised! I did make and finish one for Mum this year, which will be an ongoing tradition for us now. I still don't feel very confident at finishing them, so I need to make a few more to get more confident, I think.Now on to this week's Photo Scavenger Hunt ...

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code. Photo Theme.
Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Today's theme is "Plush" ... this photo taken months ago fits the bill for me this week :)

An archival theme was "Cold" ... I couldn't choose between two photos, so here they both are - first J & V (my very best friend in NZ) learning how to snowboard, and second the snowy mountain ranges are compliments of the South Island of New Zealand, I just love that photo! :D

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Just for a change, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon of the weekly Photo Scavenger Hunt. I first saw this on Vash's blog, and it sounds like fun. Unfortunately almost all of my photos are still in Auckland, but I've rummaged through the few I do have here, and have been coming up with photos that match the themes (at least in my eyes haha). I've decided to select the current theme's photo each week from now on, but I'm also going to add one photo from the oldest themes each week as well until I'm all caught up :) You may already have seen some of the photos, but there will definitely be some new ones coming up ;)

This week's theme is GROWTH. I chose this photo because it means from a 'personal growth' perspective for me - every now and then I push myself to do something that thrills me but scares me a bit as well, and is something that I've never done before ... hang-gliding pretty much tops the events to date!

The first theme of the Hunt was WHITE ... there were a few different photos for me to choose from, but I ultimately decided on my frangipani flowers - I just love those creamy white petals, not to mention their fragrance ... they will always evoke strong memories of my many visits to Fiji, and the friends I made over there, not to mention the many new life experiences.

As you can tell, there are no stitching piccies today ... it'll probably be like that for a few days now - back to work again tonight for two nights of 6pm to 2am shifts. I'll pack a small project in a bag as well 'just in case', but it's quite likely I won't end up taking it out of the bag ... but better to be prepared :D

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Toyota Commercial

We were just talking at work the other day about our all-time favourite commercials ... this has got to be mine! I still crack up each time I see it ... and it's changed my vocabulary for ever! ;)

No stitching today

No stitching being done today, as it's finally time to clean up a bit and do some housework. I'm off into the city later this afternoon for a small treat to have dinner with Fraze - we had to put it off a couple of weeks ago due to the fact I couldn't even afford the train ticket to go in, let alone dinner. This week I'm still sitting on an unused train ticket that I didn't end up needing last week, and dinner is dirt cheap at about $7 each where we're going, so I can justify this one as a little cheap splurge. While I'm in there I'm also going to pick up a couple of fresh veges from the Queen Victoria Markets for some upcoming recipes (mainly mushrooms, but also capsicum and courgettes). My car won't now be going into the garage until Friday morning, so I'm still limiting myself to almost zero spending until I know how much that's going to set me back ... then I'll know what spare money I have (if any) from this pay for a bit extra food etc.

Last night I did a bit more stitching - and I now have two half-finished ornies ... the Just Nan one I need to the over-one stitching, but after doing all the grapes yesterday morning, I couldn't face it last night. Then I just have to add the beads and Kreinik braid to the Elizabeth's Designs tree and that's finished too. No more ornie stitching now until I get my gift piece finished ... plus I really want to make up a couple of pieces into their 'finished' items ... these last few days have been really uplifting with all this stitching and creativity - definitely just what the doctor ordered!

Monday, November 13, 2006

SBQ and a bit of Bordeaux

Thanks for all your wonderful comments about Su's scissor fob - I'm still blushing from all the lovely words of praise :)

Last night I decided I still wasn't happy to put the needles down for the night, so did a couple of hours on Bordeaux Sampler - seeing as I didn't do my stitching on it before Friday, I figured a couple of days late would be OK ;) For the life of me I can never get a good photo of this one - but I just have the bottom band left and the two sides, all of which are a combination of backstitched leaves/vines and Rhodes stitch grapes, then band number two is completely finished. I've been looking ahead to the upcoming bands and my heart is sinking already at the sight of all the over-one grapes coming up {heavy sigh} LOL. I'd really like to get this piece finished by the end of 2007, if possible.

It's finally time to answer the week's SBQ before the next one comes out! Today's SBQ was suggested by Jan and is:
"How many different brands of "complete" embroidery floss sets do you own? How do you keep track of it? (ie, spread sheet program, indexcards, palm pilot, etc)"
That's very easy to answer - the only "complete" collection I have is of DMC. I'm slowly adding to my over-dyed collections as I come across colours I need for projects, but I'll never bother getting the entire collections, as I simply won't use them all. I used to keep an up-to-date inventory on my Cross Magic database of my DMC, but since I gave about 80+ skeins to Mum as a gift to start up her own collection, I haven't updated things ... maybe I'll get around to that again ... one day ;) Other than that all my other threads are catalogued in Cross Magic - it makes it very very handy when kitting up new projects, as I can see at a glance what I have/don't have.

On a positive front, today is finally pay-day, and I'm sooooo grateful! I've only spent $15 on groceries over the last fortnight (and that was only recently seeing as it was close to payday and no more working days left, so I knew I could go without any further spending), and I'm looking forward to getting my car checked out tomorrow, and my tax bill paid, so I know what money (if any) I have left over for the next fortnight. I'm no longer stressing over it - I figure if the tax bill has to be paid in two hits, so be it ... it would be really nice to get some fresh food this week, though :)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

2nd post today ...

I've been on a stitching roll (no pun intended), and managed to both start and finish the stitching of my needleroll for this weekend's SAL. I stitched Summer Solstice by Eventide Designs. I changed the wording, though, to cover the summer months 'down under' - instead of stitching June, July, August, I recharted the wording to be Dec - Jan - Feb (after checking out the Winter Solstice chart online) :D I wasn't too sure what else to put in place of the 'American' flag on the top band, and I quite like it anyway, so left it as it was designed. I've been really keen to stitch this ever since I bought the chart, so I'm thrilled to finally have it completed. I'll wait to do the actual finishing when I have a few needlerolls to make up. Anyway, here's the stitching piccie:

Summer Solstice by Eventide Designs
Stitched on 28ct hand-dyed dried thyme Jobelan
with the recommended threads

That also means finish number 11 off my 50 projects challenge list - only 39 left to go woohoo :D

Next up is to get a few more stitches into a birthday gift - now my Kreinik braid is here I need to get cracking and get it finished. Then I need to get a few more Christmas ornies stitched. Housework? ... What housework??? LOL.

Scissor Fob Exchange

Phew, Su has received her scissor fob exchange from me, so I can post a piccie. For a beautiful close-up of the stitching you'll have to pop over to Su's blog, as mine is just done on the scanner and much less artistic ;) I was majorly stressed over this exchange, as Su's stitching and finishing is so awesome, and I had the huge delays with SB&B with the 'extra goodies' arriving. Anyway, it's finally reached it's destination safe and sound, and I'm very happy! This is my last exchange for a little while, though - and putting the stress factor aside LOL, I've enjoyed each and every one :D

Silken Roses Scissor Fob by The Sweetheart Tree
stitched on 32ct Lavender Mist Belfast linen
with the recommended threads
but omitting the eyelets on the back and personalising
with our initials and the year

Rightio, time to have brekkie then it's back to my stitching corner ... I've decided to stitch Summer Solstice by Eventide Designs for my needleroll SAL, and if I have time I'll also try and finish my Snow Fall needleroll from last month too ... oh dear, I guess that means no housework again today, that's too bad hahahaha :D

Saturday, November 11, 2006

RR and Turbo Needles

It's been a very busy day in my household ... for my needles! Absolutely nothing else has been done, but my needles have been flying since 8am until 10pm and I totally finished Wendy's RR piece woohoo!! :D It means I should be able to get it in the post next week, well and truly before the Christmas rush. Here's a scan of my winter block, as well as a very poor photo of the whole thing finished :)

I should have been stitching a needleroll for this weekend's SAL, but I just couldn't put the RR down until I'd got it all finished. Now I have to decide which needleroll to stitch tomorrow ... it's a choice between Summer Solstice by Eventide Designs, or a freebie on Classic Stitches website - ooh, decisions decisions.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Blue Collection

All the blue fabric from yesterday's post is actually for all the applique parts of the Blue Collection quilt - I've had this sitting in a cupboard for about 10 years (all kitted up, as I bought a block of the month with all the fabrics as well), and in my current phase of stitching from stash decided it was time I finally pulled it out and learnt how to do applique and stitch it up. All the washing yesterday was for the two big bags of yellow background fabrics - but now they're all washed and ironed and ready to go. I've decided I can't really wash the applique fabrics as some of them are only a couple of inches square - hopefully they'll be OK if I don't. I have to admit it probably is a bit daft to do this as my first quilt - it does seem quite complex, not to mention huge, but I keep telling myself I just have to take one block at a time, and once I've got the technique learned it's just taking it slowly and working through each packet of blocks ...

Last night I managed to pick up my needle finally, and put a few stitches into Wendy's RR piece while watching the new series of The Amazing Race (which is already finished in the US, I think) - I'll do a bit more on my days off, and hopefully have it finished within the next couple of weeks so it can be posted off to Canada well before Christmas :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Quilting and 'stuff'

Are things looking up for me or what today?? This morning I found $10 hiding in my rain jacket pocket that I didn't realise was there ... woohoo!! And what did I do with that $10?? I was very very naughty and went shopping and blew the lot! Not grocery shopping, though (I actually already spent most of my last $20 in my wallet at lunchtime on essential items) ...

I called in on the way home to pick up my car dashboard cover that was ordered (and thankfully paid for) a few weeks ago, and while I was there called into Spotlight to see if they had any freezer paper. They didn't, so I called into Amitie in Bentleigh, who had also just sold out ... Never fear, though, they made a quick phone call for me to this little place, and they had rolls of it in stock:

I couldn't believe my eyes - and I'll definitely be returning there when I have some free cash ... all-American goods, including some of the 'weird' items that I'd never heard of in my recipe books. Aha, now I'm going to look back into some of those American cookbooks and check it out ... plus if there's anything else in those books that I've never heard of, at least they'll be able to tell me what the local equivalent is, if there is one :D Here's the website if anyone's interested, as they also do mail order it seems ... AND they have ALTOID TINS woohoo!!!!! And I have to say they had those Halloween candy corn lollies I've never ever seen before - and Lipton iced tea in cans etc ... I'm in heaven! ;) (I LOVE trying new stuff where food's concerned ... it's a whole new treasure trove to explore!)

Oh yeah, back to what I splurged my new-found wealth on ... a roll of freezer paper :D So that means I'm now all set to start thinking more seriously about my applique quilt. I'm about to go and soak all the yellow background fabrics and the blue fabric from the first block ready to start sometime soon. It will be really nice to have a light quilt on the bed for during the summer months ... of course, I'm not saying exactly WHICH summer this will get finished, but hopefully some time before I retire - so I've got about 25 years to get it done LOL.

Other than that, I've got a real pep in my step today - I love the 6am starts (strangely enough, 'cos I'm not a morning person), 'cos I can still do a few chores such as shopping straight from work and still have plenty of time to do a bit more when I get home in daylight ... LOVE it! Back to a 10am start tomorrow, though, which is not so good ... BUT it's day 7 of work tomorrow, which means the last one, which means I then have a 4 1/2 day break YIPPEE!!!!!!!! Haha, you can tell I'm definitely more like my 'old self' today can't you? LOL.

And on that note I'm dragging myself off to the bathroom-cum-laundry to get these fabrics washed :D Here's the whole kit and caboodle laid out on my bed ... that's if you can see them on the blue of the duvet cover already on the bed LOL. Seeing as I literally have everything to start this thing, it's criminal to leave it festering in a box.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A bit of allsorts

A few days ago, during my crisis days, I started to finally start scanning chart covers in readiness for posting on Ebay - however KarenV has a great idea, to start selling via blogging first, and I think I'll steal that one soon. Even if only a few sell via this method, the rest will get dumped on Ebay for 'open slather'. Anyway, it might still be a few days away before I get around to scanning them all, as it's a HUGE task - there's a lot of rubbish in that pile, but someone may find something they like ... and if not, there's nothing lost.

It's been an interesting few days recently, that's for sure - surprisingly enough now that I don't have spare money to buy groceries etc (only one week left to payday thankfully) I'm actually eating healthier ... go figure! Admittedly I'm not eating fresh fruit etc at the moment, but that's just an interim thing until my funds are OK again, but I'm actually being really conscious of what it is I'm putting in my mouth! I'm planning meals again, and not eating junk because it's quicker and easier ... oh boy, it feels really good :D I used the timer on the breadmaker last night for the first time, and woke up to the smell of fresh baked bread this morning - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! :D

I'm not really stitching at the moment ... I'm halfway through a Christmas ornament that I started at work on Sunday (to try to take my mind off things), but don't have the motivation to finish it yet - I'll snap back into stitching mode again this weekend, though, I'm sure. I'm slowly starting to get my energy levels back again ... earlier in the week it was taking all my energy just to get up and go to work :( Now I'm on day 5 of working days, with only 2 left to go, and starting to get my 'pep' back. I spent a lot of the day today like my old self laughing my head off with Lucien - it felt really good to be back to normal at work, that's for sure!

The other thing I did was to look at re-doing my 101 Things list ... I've gone through and removed all the pricey items, as it's just not feasible and realistic - it'll take me the full 18 months to pay off my new lounge suite, and there's not much left of the challenge time then, so I've found challenging items that are within closer grasp - I have a number of embroidery classes that I've signed up for (correspondence classes) that will challenge me as a stitcher that I have all the items for, so it makes more sense to include those as items to complete. While it makes the other items no less worthy, it's just a simple case of being realistic and getting back to the basics :D

I'm hitting the hay earlier tonight, though, as I'm now on a 6am shift tomorrow to cover someone who's off sick, so I only have an hour before I have to be fast asleep. Dinner was some fresh soup from the freezer (Pumpkin and Potato) with fresh baked bread ... yummo. So now it's time to get into 'unwind mode' ready to drop off to sleep quickly hopefully.

Yet again I'm far behind on reading blogs, but I hope to remedy that this weekend too ... it's a good job I have 4 days off LOL.

Seeing as there are no stitching piccies to post today, here's something totally different ... if you're ever in the Adelaide region, and want to visit a good vineyard, I can honestly recommend Hugh Hamilton Wines in the McLaren Vale wine region - they're a small boutique winery that only sell from the cellar door, but their wines are wonderful (especially the reds - love the Sangiovese mmmmm) ... they're a bit on the pricey side, but oh so worth it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back to being normal again

Thanks again for all your love and support over the last few days ... I must say today is the first time I've laughed properly in a good week at least, and I feel much much better. I was telling my colleague Lucien at work today why I was so upset on Saturday, and said after my car breaking down yet again and with all the stress I had a major headache on Saturday ... well I had to take some Nurofen and didn't have any food to line my stomach with, so I spent part of that last $10 I had before payday on the vending machine ($1.70) after much to-ing and fro-ing with should I, shouldn't I? ... Only to put the money in and have the darned muesli bar stick on the bottom shelf ...

Well, today I got the tummy rumbles (probably a good sign too, because my appetite's been so-so this last week too), and couldn't sit at my desk with my rice and tuna salad lunch ... so seeing as my horse got scratched this morning (typical! but I get my $2 back) I opted to head back to the vending machine and spend another $1.70 for another muesli bar ... only to have the same thing happen ... it's stuck in the machine!! Well, I had to drag Lucien out to witness this little phenomenon as I'd just finished telling him the story, and he absolutely killed himself laughing for about 10 minutes!!! I just thought it so ridiculous and unbelievable that I couldn't help but start laughing as well ... let's just say I WON'T be buying a Lotto ticket this week! ;)

I have to admit, the pressure is off a tiny bit too as I'm now halfway through to the next payday, and my car has been behaving itself which is a major relief. I've been leaving the car alarm off, and just locking the door manually with the key, and it's been starting fine. I've just been granted Mon/Tue off work next week, so I'll take it in to an auto electrician and get them to disconnect the alarm ... I just have to find the old Nissan remote, and I'll be all set to go again just using the built-in disabler etc.

Anyway, all-in-all I'm feeling relieved a bit financially - the car shouldn't cost much to disconnect (I hope), and with the extra money coming in for working today (plus I've also worked two Sundays in a row as well in the same pay week), fingers crossed I'll be able to survive the next payday OK and get that tax paid etc. It'll still be tight for a few weeks, but I'm in a better frame of mind to handle it again now, and the horizon doesn't look as bleak as it previously did :)

I've got a few long weekends coming up which I'm going to fill with selfish stitching ... I have a 4-day weekend this weekend due to getting my car fixed, then a 6pm start on Wed, so that makes it almost a 5-day break - then I'm at work for two nights (Wed/Thu) before having another 4-day weekend, as I'd taken two days off work to fly up to Sydney to see Vicki and Brenda for their birthdays (but of course I can't go now) ... then the following week I get a 3-day break due to my actual roster - gotta be loving that! :D

Geesh, I can tell I'm back to normal again ... I can't stop waffling!! ;) I'd better sign off and put this new-found energy to good use and get some dinner cracking ... Thanks again for putting up with me, and offering those shoulders and comments of support, the last few days - it's meant a lot, and helped me to keep my head above water :D {{hugs}}

Monday, November 06, 2006

RR & Exchanges ... and stuff

Thanks for all your comments and emails of support - I'm still feeling a bit 'blue' (which I would normally be happy about haha), but I'm getting there slowly. Anyway, I won't dwell on my current issues now, as I'm trying hard to keep them from my mind and not brood on things. I just wanted to post a few piccies of the fantastic exchange I just received today.

I received my scissor fob exchange from Cari, and I'm seriously blown away by her generosity ... not only did I receive the most exquisite fob in my fave colours, but also a pair of "Julia" Gingher's scissors, no less, and a VC silk in the most glorious blue ... I've been shaking my head like a stunned mullet (there's an Aussie saying for you) ever since I opened the envelope at lunchtime - and 6 hours later still feel gobsmacked by it all. The fob is absolutely gorgeous, and Cari's stitching and finishing is awesome ... I definitely don't feel worthy ... I just LOVE everything, and it will all be treasured for years to come - thanks again so much Cari!! :D I've taken piccies of the whole kit and caboodle, as well as trying to take a close-up shot of the front and back of the fob, so here goes:

On top of that I remembered to take a photo of the recent RR's I've been participating in ... this one is Lynn's RR so far, with just one more stitcher left to go (I stitched the Winter square earlier - sorry for the out of focus photo).

And this one is the latest RR I've received - this is Wendy's ... and I just have to stitch the Winter square on this one before it gets returned home to Canada. I'm hoping to get some quality stitching time over the next weekend, so I'll concentrate on getting some of this stitched up then (as well as finishing a gift piece now my missing Kreinik braid has arrived). Anyway, I thought Wendy might like to see how it's looking so far - hopefully I can whip through the stitching quickly so it can be posted back before hitting the pre-Christmas rush.

Tomorrow is a public holiday here in Melbourne - the only city I know where the entire city has a holiday for a horse race! I loved the description I just found on this website (actually the rest of the page is quite a fun read - and some of the Aussie slang is great):

"Melbourne is famous for Australia's premier horse race "The Melbourne Cup" held the first Tuesday in November at approximately 3pm at Flemington Racecourse. It is a public holiday in Melbourne, and in the rest of Australia and now in many parts of the world people stop work just to listen to this race. Horses from all over the world come here to participate.
The Queen entered a horse in this race a few years ago - it did not win. Generally it will be won by a horse that has been bred in New Zealand."

Personally I won't be having the day off, as I'm working (and I'll be very grateful for it when payday comes, as it's a double-time day which will be exceptionally handy this coming payday!!). I do have to admit to spending $2 on a non-essential item yesterday, which in 7 days isn't bad going :) It's pretty compulsory that you get involved with this infamous horserace and I joined the throng for the work sweepstake ... very high roller this betting chick ;) Apparently the horse that got put against my name is a relatively good one, not that that will make much difference - but it's all a bit of fun and the entire office gets behind it. My horse is called "Efficient".

Anyway, that's all from me tonight - just wanted to post those couple of piccies ... and say thanks for all the support - it has really helped to keep my spirits up :) {{hugs}}

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Going offline for a few days

I've finally reached the end of my 'emotional rope' today, and decided that I just want to go away for a few days and act like an ostrich, stick my head in the sand, and let the world go by. I'm OK, really, but just feel emotionally drained from all the stress I'm under at the moment.

Today was the final straw when I went out to a dead car before work - another $67 that I don't have later, I reinstated my RACV membership and got my car kickstarted again, but obviously things are more serious and I have to take it to a true mechanic and get it looked at. It's possibly either the starter motor or, hopefully, just the car alarm system playing up and draining the car's resources. Today at work I just used the key to lock up and it's been starting up fine ... fingers crossed that's all it is. Anyway, I'm not taking any chances and I'm taking public transport to work for the next week. Luckily I'm on 'normal' shifts for the next 8 working days, so that's an option.

I burst into tears this morning before the RACV man came ... then every time someone asked what was wrong this morning at work I got all teary again - all highly unusual for me. The financial stress has finally worn me down. So, if I'm not online for a few days don't worry - I just don't feel like blogging right now, and I hate being miserable online ... I'll be back again when I've perked up a bit.

See you again soon :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

SBQ with Chicken

Today I'm cooking a roast chicken for dinner ... shhhh, don't tell Fraze, or he'll be round on the double ... this is by far the easiest roast chicken recipe ever, and without a doubt the most delicious I've ever tasted. Called, funnily enough, "Easy Roast Chicken", we nicknamed it to be "Salt and Pepper Chicken". Here's the recipe:


1 small fryer or broiler chicken (basically just any frozen chicken - I prefer Inghams)
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh ground Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F (210C). Rub chicken inside and out with sea salt and pepper. Roast in oven 45-55 minutes, basting frequently with its drippings. Chicken will be golden brown and very juicy, and leg will move easily when it is ready.

See what I mean when I say it's easy? And it's divinely yummy!! And the great thing about it is that this will do me for about 3 days of eating, both lunches and dinners ... woohoo!! I've also made up a big pan of brown rice today to go into the freezer ready for lunches - one of my fave meals is rice salad with Tuna Tempters with a few chopped veges like celery, corn etc. There's no excuse not to take lunch to work when it's already half made up! :)

No stitching piccies today, so here's the last two SBQ's:

Today's SBQ was suggested by Carol and is:
"If you were to come across a sampler chart that caught your eye and appealed to you, would you or would you not stitch it if it had a morbid or "creepy" saying on it? If not, why?"

That's pretty easy, if I still love the design, I'd just remove the saying. If we're thinking about HOHRH that whole design doesn't tempt me to stitch it and has nothing to do with the saying. In fact, I'm not really into 'historical' style samplers etc and that's where you'd find most of the morbid stuff, so there's no chance I'd ever have to worry about it ;)

Today's SBQ was suggested by Lee and is:
"How did you decide on the title of your stitching blog? Was it random, or does it have a special meaning to you or about you?"

Initially I started off struggling with a blog name, and just came up with "Stitching Shack" just because Shack is part of my surname and often a nickname at work ... when I sat down and started thinking about it more a few months down the track, I wanted something that would include my love of ducks ... ideas that got tossed around was "On the Pond", "Shack by the Sea" (due to my new location here) ... in the end I came up with "Feather Stitching", as well as being an actual stitch itself, it refers to the duckie side of me ... and I think I still like it as it's quite simple, a bit like me ...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A quick finish

My decision to start something new was a good one ... although I didn't end up starting the actual stitching last night, just kitting up two things - a Christmas ornie for me, and Wendy's seasonal round robin. Today I spent a short time stitching, after a bit of clearing out with the boxes in the spare bedroom. That poor room now looks like a war zone, but I did manage to finish my ornie while watching Jamie's Kitchen-Melbourne. I'm loving that show, especially knowing it's right on my doorstep. Perhaps my treat to myself once I get out of this financial tight spot will be to have lunch out there at Fifteen Restaurant ... hmmm food for thought.

Anyway, just a short post, as I'm not really in blogging mood ... here's the ornie I stitched - it's Starry Starry Night by JBW Designs, from the 1998 JCS ornie issue. Complete with the Mill Hill treasures I bought earlier in the year, this is one expensive little ornie ;) It's stitched on a mystery hand-dyed 28-count linen that I think came from Silkweaver in last year's Halloween trick or treat bag. That also means one more project crossed off the 50 Project Challenge, yippee - 9 down, 41 to go :D

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Where does the time fly?

I can't believe it's November already!! I've been looking at all my planned stitching goals for 2006 and realised I've hardly touched them ... oops. Can't say I'm in a major hurry to complete many of them before year end, and will just push them into 2007 for stitching 'whenever'. They'll get placed into my rotation at some stage, I'm sure ...

Well, today was the first day of the new pastime of packed lunches - I used to take a home-made lunch every day, but got out of the habit months ago. Last night I made a loaf of bread in my breadmaker (Wholemeal Beer and Mustard Loaf ... yummo), and had a bit of a 'ploughmans' thing going today - I slapped some crumbly cheddar cheese and piccalilli between a couple of slices, and it was scrummy. I'd forgotten how satisfying it is to eat something that you've totally made from scratch (ie the bread, not the rest of it) ... it's quite a good feeling :)

When I parked my car this morning it made a funny noise again ... and I noticed my dashboard clock was out of synch - I'm pretty sure I readjusted the clock yesterday before driving home, but can't be 100% positive. If I did, then it means my problem still isn't resolved, and it could be something to do with the wiring or alarm that's draining my battery ... I'll have to check it again over the next couple of days. Mind you, if there's anywhere I need to go to before Saturday I'll be doing it on foot to save on the petrol! I'll be acting quite the miser before month-end ;) Anyway, this photo is especially for Mum - it seems the breadmaker is working just fine, and the last disasters were obviously related to the recipe itself ... this one turned out gloriously!

As for my stitching, I managed to get the final stitches put into my Halloween freebie before bed, but was too tired to make it into an ornie ... oh well, there's always next year ;) Now I'm off to scour the recipe books for something that uses tinned tomatoes (I have about 8 cans in the cupboard from a cheap sale months ago, so it's finally time to find a good use for them) with either chicken breasts or tinned tuna. Then I'm settling in with a glass of wine straight from the fridge, with my stitching, to watch ER ... a bit of personal pampering is in order (and hey, it's all free!). I might even do something very very decadent and start a new project!! Rotation? ... WHAT rotation??? LOL.