Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas is almost here

I can't believe how fast the last few months have gone. It seems like we just survived the Online Needlework Show, then it was time for Thanksgiving and our family to visit, and now it's almost Christmas! 2011 will be here before I know it, and it seems I can barely remember to write 2010 on the checks now. Home schooling is going well and I'm still amazed at how much the munchkin is taking to reading.

Last month we did a lot of updating to My Big Toe Designs inventory. One of the major change overs happened with our kits. We had two lovely kits, both directed at stitching groups, shop events, and retreats. They are easily customized with group names and a lot of fun to create. In the interest of time and ease of inventory, both kits are now available as charts.

Other MBT news is pretty slim. I've been working hard on new designs, one of them is a new Building Block, and just trying to keep up with inventory. The scissor chatelaines are doing really well and I hope to have new pics of them added to the website this month. I've also been updating the Gingher matching scissor fobs and have plans to take pictures of the new ones tonight. I love beads :-) They sparkle.
Lately I've been spending a lot of time listening to good music. The truck had to be left at the shop for repairs and they gave us a loaner. It was quite a surprise when we found a forgotten CD in the player. The CD was by Michael Boggs, an artist we hadn't heard before, and it sent us on the hunt to find more of his songs. We now have both of his CD's, and the newest one is incredible. Another new favorite of mine is by Matthew West, called The Story of Your Life. His song, My Own Little World, is what drew me to it, but Strong Enough is what I've been playing over and over again. The lyrics are incredible and it has been a great help to remind me that I don't have to be "strong enough".

On Monday I figured out that it is fun to dip things in chocolate. Our Bible Study group had a Christmas pot luck on Monday. I decided to make Oreo truffles to take. Once I started dipping them in chocolate, I couldn't stop! I had to open the pantry and dig for whatever looked good to dip. Vanilla cookies, graham crackers, marshmallows... Yum!

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Releases for September 2010

It is hard to believe that it is already after Labor Day. The summer has gone by so fast. The watermelons in the garden are getting bigger each day, and we have lots of blackberries and raspberries that are ripe for picking. Our fruit trees didn't do much this year, they're still new, but we did get a half dozen white fleshed peaches that were the most incredible thing I have ever tasted. I never knew how sweet fruit could be! The apples are small, but just about ready to pick, and the pears tended to be favored by the birds. A new batch of grapes is growing and should be ready in a couple of weeks. We've got potatoes, onions, and carrots everywhere. It's time to start making some stew!

My Big Toe Designs has three new designs for release. These will be our last for the year. We're starting a homeschool curriculum this week for the munchkin, and with the online needlework show, then the holidays, I'll be lucky to stitch for all of an hour in the next two month :-) We need to find a new balance with work, home, and school. There are quite a few ideas squirming around in my head, and I never know when something will *have* to make it to fabric and thread. We're still planning on early 2011 for the next batch. Here are some pictures and details for the three new designs. Each one is unique and was a lot of fun for me to stitch.
MBT-100 He Holds Tomorrow
Stitched on 32 count jobelan, "Star Sapphire," with Weeks Dye Works Thread
"I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow"
MBT-101 Dirty Little Words
Stitched on 32 count jobelan, "Waterlily," with Weeks Dye Works thread and Just Another Button Company buttons
"Four dirty little words: Dust, Iron, Cook, Wash"

MBT-102 A Woman of Noble Charachter ~ Selections from Proverbs 31
Stitched on 30 count Weeks Dye Works linen, "Linen," with Gentle Art Sampler Threads

There are DMC/Anchor conversions listed where possible. These have already started arriving at your favorite needlework shops.

Also added to our line this month are new accessories! We have created fobs to match the "Steweb" scissors from Kelmscott designs and to match the "Ella" scissors from Gingher. The Ella's were released recently to the Joann stores. There are also "Sonia" Gingher scissors that are arriving now at the local needlework shops. I have a pair arriving this week and will make a matching fob as soon as I have them in my hands and can accurately match some beautiful beads.
God bless you on this day of rememberance.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Back from vacation

We spent five glorious days in northern Idaho this past week, visiting family. It was so peaceful in the mountains. I did experience a few withdrawals since we had very limited cell service and no internet access. Each day we were able to go ATV riding, play on the lake, hike, or just sit on the porch and read. I spent a lot of time on the porch. The view was spectacular and I loved taking in all that God has created. The munchkin went tubing and managed to return home without any serious injury. We had our first experience with a tick, one attached itself to her arm, but we caught it early. This is what I spent the time admiring:

Recently we did something that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Make home made marshmallows. There is nothing better than a fresh marshmallow. My whole life I lived thinking that the white fluffy goodness was only to be found in a plastic bag on the shelf at the store. Not so! We used Alton Brown's recipe from the Food Network. It was super easy, totally delicious, and very ooey gooey. The hardest part of the whole recipe was waiting four hours for them to set. These are not good for S'mores, just as a warning, they wouldn't stay on a skewer to roast, but they are incredible in just about everything else. We've shared them with friends, neighbors, and everyone has loved them.

I haven't stitched much in the past week, but I have design ideas flying through my head and found a beautiful new thread color while visiting Haberdashery. This was my special vacation treat! We had to drive into Spokane to pick up family at the airport, and any time there's an LNS within 60 miles you can bet that I'm going to visit it. The owners were wonderful and the shop was amazing. There were models everywhere, so many creative finishing techniques, and the SCISSORS! Oh, my, the scissors. It was embarassing that I owned most of the pairs they had in there, but there were dozens and dozens of styles to choose from. The fiber selection was one of the best I have seen in a shop. The variety of colors and lines was more than I had thought I'd see in one place. Their charts were easy to sort through, there was lots of room to walk, and the stitching tables in the back were well lit for anyone to sit, stitch, and have a great time. I can't wait to go back! The picture just shows a very small front part of the shop, but you can get a good idea of their organization and space.

As for work, things have been busy. The new designs have started shipping out to shops on my auto ship and should be arriving in the next few days. I have run out of assembled froggy fobs and will spend the evening making up a new batch of those. They're hopping out of here! I've got new threaders to package, an older design to re-stitch the model, and lots of printing and packaging to do. All is good.

Tonight we're making home made pizza and root beer floats. Mmmmmmm. Hubby makes a great pizza crust and we'll be canning our own sauce this fall, made with San Marzano tomatoes that are growing (hopefully) in out backyard. All of our errands are done for the weekend and we can just enjoy our time as a family. The blow up pool is all set for the munchkin and I know she will find hours of fun splashing around.

Friday, July 2, 2010

These past few months have practically been a blur. The online show was a great success and I met a lot of new-to-me shops and stitchers. The froggy fobs and needle threaders are doing better than I ever expected. Summer is already here, the weather is turning hot, and we are enjoying time as a family. We've gone camping, worked around the house, planted oodles of seeds in the garden, and now it's time to work on stitchy stuff.

A lady at EGA asked how much I stitched. After careful consideration I answered with "four hours". She got the impression that I managed to do that every day with a business, home, and child. She thought it was wonderful. I laughed for a good minute and corrected her that four hours was my stitching total for the month of May. That has changed. I thank her deeply for making me realize that I had strayed from what I love so much - stitching! I made stitching more of a focus for June and it was easy to do with new designs to work on.

For My Big Toe Designs there are three new releases this month! I had planned on waiting until September to send them out, but they're done and I have no patience when I'm excited about something. I knew the moment they were home from the framer that I could not possibly wait two whole months to share them. No will power whatsoever. They're printing now and I'll be working hard to get them into chartpacks in the next couple of weeks. The designs are "Pray," "Enter His Gates," and "Peace." The one for "Pray" is my favorite of the bunch. Don't get me wrong, I love them all, but this one touched my heart. As I was stitching on it I had some struggles, and was reminded though the little x's that I needed to let go of the frustration, let go of the pain, and just pray.
As the weather has warmed I've been outside more and more each day. I have learned a few things while working out in the garden.

1.) If you are using the weed whacker and get a song in your head - don't dance to it. Bad things happen when that plastic twine hits your shins.

2.) Whoever said gardening wasn't a "cardio" activity hasn't seen the creepy crawly nasties that jump out from everywhere. I can guarantee my heart rate was WAY up.

3.) A child will learn naturally not to eat fruit straight off the vine when it's not ripe. As many times as your warn her, she will have to learn it on her own, and you should definitely have the camera ready for the sour face.

4.) Neighbors cannot see the snake that you're running from in an irrational fit of fear. All they see is the crazy screaming neighbor doing zigzags across the yard.

Our trees, vines, and bushes are all starting to get fruit on them. We've got the cutest little baby apples, pears, grapes, and strawberries. I never knew produce could be so precious! The tiniest little bunches of grapes are on the vines and I could stare at them for ever. The lettuce in the garden is doing well and we are using it at mealtime. With a little fresh chives and tarragon, shaved parmesan and balsamic dressing... mmmmm. Very tasty. I can't wait until the tomatoes are in full season and we can eat those with every meal.

A couple of nights ago the munchkin saw fireworks for the first time. We were able to pull some chairs out into the middle of the yard and watch the show from over the neighbor's trees. The beautiful display was only about a mile away and it was stunning. We all loved seeing the night light up, and it was worth having a cranky child the next day after staying up so late.

Mostly life right now is peaceful. I'm learning that the house doesn't have to be vacuumed as often as it was, the dust doesn't really matter unless it's dated, and weeds will *always* be there. I've figured out some things about myself that I never ever ever thought would happen. I like to camp. I like to kayak. I like to fish (as long as I don't catch anything, have to touch a worm, or get in the water). My most peaceful time is in the kitchen, making new dishes and treats. It's a strange new world ;-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Release Time!

The month of March has been a whirlwind so far. My mom visited for three weeks and stayed with the munchkin while I joined hubby at work in Tacoma. The stitching group there adopted me like I was one of their own. My first night in town they hosted a potluck for me with more than a dozen ladies at the church where they meet each week. The next day I was treated to the local LNS, ThreadNeedle Street. Her fabric and thread selection is amazing! There were a lot of new stitchers at the Wednesday LNS trip and again I felt right at home. I always get nervous when meeting a new group of stitchers and after the first five minutes it was like I had known them my entire life. I then had two blissfully quiet days at the hotel to work on needle threaders and read. I could do without CSI being on three channels at one time for all day marathons, but I am now up to date with my forensics.

The munchkin showed her true colors for grandma while we were away. Mwahahahaha. I laughed so hard when I heard her call the munchkin by MY name!!! The nerve! LOL. She is her mother's daughter. We had another hair cutting experience and I can only be thankful that she did it over the bathtub and with her head angled down. It looks like she has some nifty layering now. There's not a malicious bone in her body, but the mischief one is growing. Swim classes are great and she is going fully under water now and is not afraid of the sprinkler in the kiddy pool. It's only taken three months to get to this point. Music classes will be wrapping up next week and then we will switch back to gymnastics this summer. I can't wait until the weather is nice enough to be outside every day, running around and playing in the dirt.

There will be three new chart releases and one new accessory release in April. The charts are "Blackbird's Garden", "A New Day", and "Cast All Your Cares". The newest accessory addition is the most precious little froggy fob! The pictures will not be on my website for another week or so, but the shops have received their newsletters and can start ordering them in a couple of weeks. This gives them time to get all of the fabric and fibers that are needed to have on hand. This batch has been a long time coming, but I really like each one for a uniqueness that it brings to my line. The printers are going a mile a minute as I type and I will spend the next couple of weeks packaging and making fobs. It will be a nice break from the painting.

Have I mentioned how much I don't like house painting? I don't. I'm grateful that we have a home that I can care for, walls we can paint, but I'm ready for it to be done. Just a couple more windows, the laundry room, 1/4 of the family room and a closet door and I'm done. Then it's outside to garden. This year we are going to try the Square Foot Garden method. I'm tired of weeds and this seems to be a very organized way to stagger harvests. Plus I want to grow squash vertically and have a 30 lb. watermelon hanging from mesh, 5 feet off the ground. Little amusements. The lawnmower is already calling to me and I'm excited to be riding it again. Call me strange, but I totally and completely understand the draw and appeal of lawnmower races. I found cruise control on that thing and it has been nothing but happy days ever since.

On the technology front this is the error I found on my printer. I have no idea what buttons I pushed or what happened. A quick restart and all was right again, but I had to say that there were no nice words for the HP programmers in my mind at the time. There was no way that hubby would believe me without proof, so I grabbed the camera for evidence (more of that CSI stuff coming in handy!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home alone

It's weeks like this that give me a completely new respect for single mothers. I was flying solo with the munchkin while dear husband was out of town with work. It doesn't happen often, but when it does we find all new challenges and adventures. This week she used her bath time cup, filled over and over again, to soak her comforter from pillow to dust ruffle. She was 'cleaning'. The bright spot to the alone time is that I get a LOT of stitching done while I'm not sleeping. The end of the week left me caffeine dependent. Life is now returning to normal. The water thing was still nothing compared to finding the cat/walls/floor/hallway/closet/comforter covered in Sweet Pea scented lotion.

My stitching bug has returned with a vengeance and I'm designing and stitching up a storm. One project is in hold, waiting for new thread colors, but what has been stitched with Aged Plum by Thread Gatherer is gorgeous. The design is for the Just Cross Stitch October 2010 issue and I hope to have it done by the end of next week. I finished up a series of designs this weekend and hope to pull threads and fabric for them tomorrow when the sun comes out. It's a Federal holiday for MLK day and we have a long weekend for work and play as a family.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holiday survival

A new year is here and it's finally time to get back to stitching. It has been a few months since I've done any x'ing and it has been missed. I have been working on an ornament for the 2010 JCS issue and am nearing the home stretch of the finishing. The fabric I'm using is Weeks Dye Works linen and I can't tell you how impressed I am with it. The 35 count has been a delight to stitch on and it is the same count horizontally and vertically, which is fantastic for a linen! I have only been able to stitch with really good light on the Kudzu fabric, the dark color has definitely challenged my eyes, but the end result has been well worth the time. I'm restitching it on a lighter fabric, Dove, and will decide between the two when they're both completely finished. I had purchased 9x9 cuts of the linen from Stitchville USA this past summer and have been in love with the fabric ever since.

Our Thanksgiving was one of joy spent with my parents, who were visiting us from Texas. The days that they were with us were priceless. There isn't enough grandparent time in the world! We managed to pull off a full feast, turkey and all the trimmings, for our family and some friends. Christmas was very quiet with just the three of us, but it was peaceful and we enjoyed the time as a family. My mom will be up to visit again in March and the munchkin is definitely wanting Grandma to be here again.

last weekend we made our annual tamale batch. Each January we make up 12+ dozen tamales and freeze them to use for quick dinners throughout the year. It takes a few days to get it all done but the end result is very tasty. Some of the pork we saved and used with barbecue sauce for sandwiches. Lately we've been trying to make meals last and see how many times we can reincarnate a protein. It's amazing how creative you can get with a 15 lb. turkey!

Tomorrow morning I hope to spend it digging through fabric and threads to find something for a design for next October's JCS. Once that's pulled I can finish up some stitching on a few other projects and get new releases ready for the April online needlework show. Yesterday I made an accessory set to go with the Elena scissors and I really like how it all turned out. It was a special order through Stitches N Things and I liked it so much I had to make one for myself. The colors are all a bit funky, and there are a LOT of them, but the scissors are unique and there was no way to narrow down the palette. I only wish that the colors in the picture were as true and vibrant as they are in real life.

Now it's time to go sit, stitch, and watch a bit of the Canada vs. US Olympic hockey game. It was days ago, I already know the outcome, but I still want to watch the game and enjoy the skill displayed by the players on both sides. I am a hockey fan and wish we were closer to an NHL team. Locally we have the Steelheads, and we went to two seasons of their games, but now that the munchkin can repeat words we think it's best not to go to the live games. At least on TV I don't have to worry until she learns how to read lips. She is a fan in training and cheers right along with daddy and I.