Apr 30, 2006

Ladies Spa ... Ahhhh... Day

Are you overworked? Do you wish little Johnny would quit saying, "Mommmmm, I'm hungry." or "Mommmmm, Where's my.... ?" Ever take a break just for you?

Yesterday, I attended a Ladies Spa Day sponsored by the local hospital and YMCA. Well-deserving ladies could choose from several sessions to soothe the body, mind, and spirit. Sessions included such things as: Yoga, Cycling, Toning with Toys, Women on Weights, Pilates, Yarns of Today, Habits of Highly Effective Weight Loss, Cardmaking, Container Gardening, Massage, Manicure, and Facial. This is the second year I've gone and let me tell you... It's the best $35 you could ever spend if you want a day of relaxation, pampering, and creativity. We started out our day with a nice breakfast that included bagels, fruit, danish, coffee and/or juice. Then we all went on to our different sessions. I started out with a "For Your Body" session called Toning with Toys -- For 45 minutes, we were taught how to tighten and tone our muscles using hand-held weights, resistance tubing, and stability balls. Then I went on to a 45 minute Pilates session. I don't really care for Pilates -- It was hard on my joints and the mats are not thick enough. But hey, you never know til you try it! (Btw, I am sore today! LOL) Now that I had my body in order, I moved on to my "For Your Mind" session: Container Gardening. It was taught by an Illinois Extension Office Master Gardner. I didn't really learn too much, but I did get to share some tidbits that I knew with the class. Wouldn't you know that several others in the session has had problems with the cute furry critters I wrote about a couple weeks ago! My last two sessions were "Simply To Pamper". The fun part! Ahhhh.... First, I had a 20 minute facial. These were given by the Cosmetology students at the college. The girl I had was VERY good. Then I went and had a 15 minute seated massage. There were 4 massage therapists from the area there. The lady I had is actually a massage therapist at the salon I get my hair done at. She was very good, too! Now that I had my body, mind, and spirit in order -- It was lunch time! We were given a simple lunch and afterwards they gave out doorprizes. I actually won a card that offered $ off of various products at a pizza joint in town. Not something I will probably use, though. Last year, they had a motivational speaker which I really liked. They didn't have a speaker this year, so I was a little disappointed in that. It was well worth the $35! In talking with one of the other ladies, she said that she talked to several women who drove over 40 miles just to attend the Ladies Spa Day! Women everywhere should have something like this! We all deserve a partial day to ourselves!

Apr 26, 2006

The Icy Fingers Of Old Man Winter

Old man Winter isn’t quite ready to let go of his grip just yet! Yesterday morning, not only did northern Illinois get rain... But, we also got sleet and snow! The temps last night also got down to freezing. Here it is the end of April and I had to scrape ice off my windshield!

Finally finished reading “The Grapes of Wrath” for Lit class. I actually read the ending twice because it was one of those where you think: Did she really do what I think she did?!? A bit of trivia – When John Steinbeck wrote the novel in 1939, a lot of it was based on his experiences and observations of how the 300,000+ emigrants from the southern plains states were treated when they arrived in CA on the premise of a better life and jobs. You can equate it to the Mexican/Hispanic problems of today, only these were people who actually were FROM the US. In the original manuscript, Steinbeck used a lot of F-words. Both the F-bomb and the ending were very controversial at the time. The publishers wanted him to take out the F-bomb and change the ending. Steinbeck struck a deal in that he’d take out all the F-words if the ending was left as is. Did you also know that the word “Okie” in CA back then was offensive like the N-word is? Or, that one of the characters in the book was intentionally made to be a Christ-figure in the novel? Or, that the movie ending had nothing to do with anything in the book (since the ending is pretty controversial)? Things that make you go “Hmmmm......” I have a 4-question essay quiz due for next week. Last night I started reading “The Color Purple”. It’s really easy and fast to read. I’m about 2/3 through it already. It’s the last book of the semester. Tonight, I’ll rent both the movies for Wrath and Purple.

I think I did an insane thing last week. I talked to my college advisor and he suggested I take Music of the USA during the pre-summer session. It’s for one of my Gen Ed requirements. Well... Pre-summer classes last 3 weeks. This class is for 3+ hours Mon-Thur nights. I’m hoping the instructor doesn’t keep us the entire 3 hours, otherwise I’ll be up until midnight studying! The good news is: After next fall I’ll have only one class left before I obtain my AS in Business Administration. After that, I’ll probably transfer to a 4-yr institution to work on the BS degree. It’s still a year away, but I’m excited!

Boys and their toys!! I’ve been putting stuff on Ebay for my brother. He’s got this lawn tractor he restored, and each day he gets *at* least 100 hits. 36 people have it on their watch list! It’s insane. LOL, I’d like to take some credit since I photograph all his items and I DO know how to make them look as good as they are. He’s very adamant about being very, very honest about the quality of the things he sells. Isn’t that admirable?

I’m almost finished with “To the Moon” bookmark for one of my nieces. I’ve changed some of the colors and added metallic threads, as well as her name. Really haven’t had much time to stitch this past week.

I almost forgot... I completed my 2nd certification in QuickBooks software. I’m considered a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. What is THAT, you ask? Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors help you get the most out of QuickBooks, so you can spend more time on your business and less time on your books. ProAdvisors are experts in helping small businesses learn, use, and customize QuickBooks. Many, like myself, are accounting and tax experts. After working with a ProAdvisor, many business owners are more satisfied and comfortable with QuickBooks, and feel hiring a ProAdvisor is a valuable investment. LOL, Do I sound like a walking, talking billboard??

Apr 23, 2006

How Does Your Garden Grow?

If I only had a dollar every time someone has said to me: Meari, Meari, Quite contrary, How does your garden grow? Oh, how I SO despised that as a kid! LOL, and here I am stitching it up. It took about 4 hours (give or take) to stitch it up. My sister has already claimed it for herself! This is my version of the Lizzie Kate freebie. I've changed the varigated colors and added the buttons. Isn't the little ladybug cute??

I'm thinking about double matting it and using a rustic frame with twine as a hanger? Does anyone else have a unique "finishing" idea?

Apr 13, 2006

Bookmarks Finished!

I finished stitching the last two bookmarks for the RR I coodinated for ILCS. Here they are:

Here are the bookmarks I received stitched for me:

Apr 10, 2006

OK, You cute furry rodent! This means WAR!

I was proud of the fact that I planted all my flower bulbs over the weekend. I live in a rental unit so 95% of my gardening is done in containers. I lined my nice pretty containers on along the edges of the steps. Watered them, just waiting for them to sprout up. I come home today on my lunch hour and GUESS WHAT?!!!

My friendly neighborhood squirrels dug up EVERY SINGLE pot! I hope they had fun. I hope they had a good laugh at my expense! I can just hear them now, rubbing their little paws together: "Dig in boys! Look at all this nice soil... and Look... Treasures!"

Anyone have humane ways to save my container gardens? I read somewhere and my Dad suggested sprinkling with Cayenne Pepper. So I did that. I am welcoming any and all suggestions as I will be planting vegetables out there, too.

Update: Since sprinkling cayenne pepper and garlic powder on top of the dirt, I have seen no evidence of the cute lil PITAs. Let's hope it stays that way! Here's a couple of websites with tips on deterring the the little critters:

Ask A Master Gardner
Squirrel Control
iVillage Garden Web
Thrifty Fun #1
Thrifty Fun #2

... and for all you Sciurophobiacs out there (and you know who you are!), click HERE.

Apr 7, 2006

Cold, Rainy Friday Morning

Hey everyone, It’s FRIDAY! Did you all have a good week? Let’s see, what up with me?

For Lit class, I’m now reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I’m 10 chapters into it. I have to read 5 more before next week. I like the descriptors used in the book. I can actually visualize the scenes as I read it, even though it does seem drawn out at times. I also have a 4 question essay test over The Great Gatsby. I must say that I was not impressed with the book, or the movie. I just don’t have the insight as to what really makes this a literary work of art.

I finished the second floral bookmark for a RR. (No, it doesn’t stand for railroad. RR = round robin.) If I do this design again, I will NOT be doing backstitching in the center of the flowers. I think they looked much better without it. However, after I did backstitching on 18ct, I wasn’t about to rip it out. As much as I’ve enjoyed participating in the bookmark RR I coordinated for ILCS, I’m looking forward to completing the last one so I can get back to stitching my other projects. I started the final bookmark the other day: a dragonfly bookmark. The design is by Joan Elliott. I have a bit of backstitching to do and one dragonfly will be done. Three will fit on the bookmark, I think. The design is actually for a towel and I adapted it to a bookmark. Once finished, I can send the package back home to it’s owner. Yay! (I hope she likes them)

I won a trivia contest this week. The question was: What does B.I.D. mean on prescriptions? Answer: Twice a Day What did I win? $15 gas card at Exxon Mobil. That will take a dent out of my next fill up!

Can you believe it’s almost time to register for Fall semester classes? Yikes! I have two science courses and one humanities course left to take before I attain the AS degree. I’ll be registering on Mon for an Intro to Ecology course. Science is not one of my stronger points!

I’ve been on a movie rental kick lately. Like I said earlier, I watched The Great Gatsby (yuck). Other movies I watched this past week:

The Terminal with Tom Hanks
Closer with Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman & Jude Law
Beautiful with Minnie Driver

Out of all of them, I'd say Beautiful was the best. I got teary eyed at the end. I had a coupon for a free rental at Blockbuster and with my movie membership I get 2-for-1 if I rental Mon-Wed. So I got 3 movies for the price of one this time.

Apr 4, 2006

To Bathe or Not To Bathe

That is the question. I bet I got your attention, didn’t I? Were you thinking “Ewww… Not bathe?”

Relax! What I am talking about is: Washing your cross stitch projects! Have you ever teetered on the fence... To Wash or Not To Wash?

Unless your project is stitched on a hand-dyed piece of fabric or you are using hand-dyed floss, it’s perfectly fine to gently bathe your babies. One of my current projects, Japanese Garden, has hand-dyed silks, beads and crystals – I won’t be able to wash it so I am being very careful to keep it protected and clean while I stitch.

I’ve laundered all my pieces stitched with cotton floss (DMC, Anchor, JP Coates) and have never had any problems in the 25+ years I’ve been stitching. Even if you can’t see dirt or oil... It’s still there!

What strikes me as a bit funny is that over a decade ago, Woolite was recommended as the “soap to use” when washing stitched projects. I did that and guess what? All my projects are fine. Now, I use Dawn dish soap – because that’s what I always have on hand.

I wash my pieces one of three ways:

1) Using cool/lukewarm water, I put a drop of Dawn dish soap on my hands and rub them together. I wet the stitched project and rub my hands (gently!) over the front and back sides. Then I rinse under the water until all the soap is gone, and then a few more minutes just to be sure.

2) I put a bit of cool/lukewarm water in the sink or a shallow container with a tiny bit of Dawn dish soap and swish it around. I put the piece in and swish it around. Then I rinse under running water until all the soap is rinsed out.

3) I’ve bought pieces that have seemed unusually dirty or stained, so I’ve soaked them overnight with denture tablets and cool water. Then I rinse really well under running water. All the stains came out.

Speaking from experience, NEVER wring out your stitched project after washing. You will have so many wrinkles that may never come out. Luckily, my experience was with an unstitched piece of Aida and I didn’t ruin a stitched project.

Let your project dry naturally. Most of the time, I lay a fluffy towel on a table and put the newly bathed project on top face down. Then I put another towel on top, pressing gently to soak up the water. Sometimes, I let the project drip dry hanging in the tub.

When the piece is slightly damp, I use an iron on the backside pressing gently until it’s dry. If you’ve used beads, or specialty threads that may melt, be cautious about using a hot iron.

There you go... You now have a clean precious! It’s ready to be laced and then framed, but those are topics in and of themselves... for another time.