Sep 26, 2011

Marvelous Monday Update 9/26/2011

Marvelous indeed! I became a Great Aunt over the weekend!! Six weeks early, what a tiny little bundle he is. Mom and Baby are doing well.

As you can see, he has his Daddy's first name and his maternal grandfather's (my brother) middle name. Since he's so tiny, no one is allowed to hold him yet. He's being fed through a feeding tube, but everything is developed and he breathes on his own.

In other good news... I finished my term paper! It's a huge relief to have it done-done-done. I also got 100% on my quiz. The "only" schoolwork I have this week is two chapters of reading, homework, and two postings. Two more weeks to go for this semester... Woo Hoo!!

Aurelia of Eglantine Stitchery is hosting her first ever Christmas-themed giveaway. Stop on over and check it out. While you're there, also take a look at her beautiful stitching!

I gave Celeste part of a cracker and look what she does:

She walks around the house with it hanging out of her mouth. I think eventually she ate it. If not, I'll find a cracker somewhere.

I finished Part 5 of the iStitch SAL. We're at the halfway point now.

I also found a bit of time here and there to put a few stitches into Blossom Splendor. So far I've done almost 90 confetti stitches.

Until next time,

Sep 21, 2011

Confessions of a Stitcher

A recent question on one of the Yahoo groups prompted my confession. The question was asked:

"We all have WIP/UFO'S, all the best stitchers do.
How long have you been stitching each project?"

Now I do realize that I don't have as many WIP's and UFO's as some of my stitchy acquaintances, but the ones I do have are getting up there in age. Time does fly, doesn't it?

Without further adieu, I confess. My name is Meari. I have the following UFO's/WIP's:

Elegance of the Orient -- started 2001 or 2002
Japanese Garden -- started in 2006
Simply Elegant -- started 2009
Blossom Splendor -- started 12/2010
iStitch SAL -- started 08/2011


This was the first Dimensions kit I'd ever used. Prior to this, I kitted up my own projects. The threads had to be sorted. The fabric is 18ct aida. There is a fine gold thread which is a pain to work with. It was also my first asian-inspired piece. As I stitched it, it just wasn't looking like I thought it should. Over the years, it got pushed aside for other projects while I tried to decide what to do. I lost the chart not once, but twice! Luckily, Dimensions has sent me replacements both times. I am probably going to start this over on evenweave. Does it still count as a UFO if I'm going to start it over? LOL What it's supposed to look like is HERE.


Lorri Birmingham is the designer of this kit. I've always thought her elegant designs were really pretty. I used to take this kit with me to do during my lunch hour whenever I worked out of town in another office. I stopped working out of town in December 2009. And stopped working on it. (LOL, that just happens to be a coincidence.) I am not fast at specialty stitches -- they are not my favorite either. I love how they look, just don't like doing 'em. With that said, I have to really have time to concentrate on the stitches, hence why it's taking me so long to finish this tiny project.


I was so excited to start this piece back in 2006. It is the first project I'd ever used evenweave on. It is stitched with silk threads, has specialty stitches, and beaded -- also all new to me at the time. It is one of those pieces I really have to have a big block of time to be able to work on because I have to read the directions several times to figure out what goes where and how. Once I do get going, I find I really do enjoy stitching it. All the WIP pics can be seen HERE.


Ever since I saw her on the cover of a magazine, I wanted her -- to stitch her, that is! In 2009, Viv granted my wish by RAK'ing me the magazine. After hand-dyeing the fabric myself, I started this project in December 2010. Working on it steadily since, my plan is to have it completed by the end of this year. Progress pics can be seen HERE. It's amazing to see a project come to life!

iStitch Mystery SAL

I've been a reader of Carol's iStitch blog for several years. When I saw that she was going to open up her Mystery SAL to an additional 25 people, I jumped on the opportunity. It's a pretty tiny piece, only about 3 1/2 x 5". I'm stitching it over-one on an unknown brand of linen. I'm using a varigated Anchor thread called "Flame". I will probably re-stitch it once the SAL is finished because I'm really not liking how big the holes are on the linen... and I'm not sold on the color. Love the design though!

So there you have it... My secrets exposed, confessions out for the world to see. Now, what's YOUR confession?

Sep 19, 2011

Marvelous Monday Update 9/19/11

This past week was the easiest of weeks since the semester started. The next three weeks will be busy with homework, quiz, term paper, and finals. This week, I need to register for my LAST class. Woo Hoo!

Different kind of stitchy finishes, but fun nonetheless. It's been ages since I pulled out the sewing machine to do anything other than clothing repairs. To actually "create" was a lot of fun!

Baby Bibs!

One side is cotton, the other side is flannel. Aren't they the cutest? I didn't have a live model, so I opted for the next best thing:

Now, don't laugh at her. She's been "well loved". My Dad brought her home when I was two years old. As my Mom tells it, she was taller than I was. Can you picture a two-year old dragging around a doll bigger than herself? It's no wonder the poor baby doesn't have hair on the back of her head! I still remember her new in the box. I don't remember the clothes she had on, but she came with regular clothes and pastel orange footie pajamas and a bottle that she could hold. Over the years, I lost her clothes and substituted real baby clothes. I used to have an entire suitcase of clothes for her and my baby doll baby. As you can see, at some point I decided she needed a manicure.

This brings me to a question: Do you have any toys from your childhood?

During my sewing escapade, I had to dig through my tubs of fabric.

Some of it is vintage, some is yardage, some are fat quarters. I realized (yet *another* project) that I need to get it more organized so that I can see at a glance what I have if I want to finish a stitched project, or sew something. I got as far as this in organization:

These are folded into fat quarter size (and is only a small portion of my fabric stash). Does anyone have good ideas for storage? I store my fabric bins in an unfinished basement in sealed tubs to keep out creepy-crawlies and protected from water seepage that sometimes occurs.

Jenn from This Witch's Stitches sent me a dragonfly chart. I am thinking about stitching it as a scissor fob. Thank you, Jennifer!

Over the past couple weeks, a few of my readers have asked about the color floss I'm using the the iStitch SAL. It's a varigated Anchor floss (1315) called "Flame".

Carol sent out Part 4 on Friday and I stitched it up last night.

I stitched a bit on Blossom Splendor, too. Soon, I'll be starting another page!

I did have a stitchy finish, but I can't show it until it arrives at its new home. I finished the "Words of Christmas" HOE ornament.

If you've made it this far, you're probably wondering "Who's the winner?!?" I used the Random Number Generator thingy (so much easier than putting names in a hat!). The winner is Lynn in TX!

On September 15, 2011 Linda said...
I don't know....3 years? I could go back and look I guess. I love the weekly updates, love your writing style, and especially loved the Boyfriend's always an upper! Keep it going.

Congratulations, Lynn! Please email me with your address and I'll get the package out to you. Thanks for being a reader all these years! (P.S. I think it's been longer than 3 years, LoL)

Sidebar: The first person to comment on my blog when I started it six years ago, still reads and comments on my blog today. :)

Until next time,

Sep 12, 2011

275 Followers Giveaway!

As promised, here is a photo of the giveaway:

As you can see, it's a "Purple" themed giveaway. Unfortunately, I didn't take a very good photo since you can't really see the scissors! Here's what's included:

3 Purple Flower Pushpins
14ct Purple Hand-dyed Aida (Hand-dyed by me!) - I think it's 12x18, not sure tho
Purple Memo Pad
Purple Tape Measure
Cadbury Milk Chocolate in Purple Wrapper
3 skeins of Purple DMC
1 Pair of Purple Embroidery Scissors
Purple Scissor Fob (I stitched this a while back for the giveaway)
1 Spool of Purple Blending Filament
Package of Needles - Not purple, but who can't use needles?

To get an entry for the drawing, leave a comment on this post only telling me how long you've been reading my blog. Easy as that. I'll draw a name on Sunday, September 18th and announce the winner on my next Marvelous Monday update.

So stay tuned!

Until next time,

Marvelous Monday Update 9/12/11

... continued from last week.

I did get the clogged pipe issue resolved in my bathroom without having to snake it. Just the thought of what may have come out: Yuck! Since the water was draining s-l-o-w-ly, I decided to try another go round with chemicals. I poured Liquid Plumbr Pipe Snake down both the sink and the tub. The product *does* say multiple applications might be necessary. Second time? Score! Both tub and sink are draining normally again, and I saved about $70 from not having to call a plumber -and- didn't have to perform a real snake job. Yay!

Some of you may already know (because I was practically shouting from my rooftop!) that Midterms are over. After taking the 3 hour online exam, I scored an 84. Woo Hoo! I was so exhausted afterwards, that I took Sunday off from studying. It all starts back up today after I get done with work.

Just some updated photos of my planters and sunflowers. Aren't they gorgeous?

Other gardening/floral pics can be seen HERE.

I received Part 3 of the iStitch SAL on Friday. I wasn't able to work on it until yesterday afternoon. I finished Part 3!

I also did a bit of stitching on Blossom Splendor. There were a TON of confetti stitches in this section. Here's what she looks like now:

Deb over at Cranberry Samplings is hosting a giveaway that ends TODAY! Hurry on over to see what it's all about.

Between Stitches is hosting a giveaway also... In honor of 100 followers.

Speaking of followers... Last week, I finally reached 275 followers! And, I did it the organic way. I didn't ask readers to become a follower in lieu of a giveaway -- they all followed on their own. *big grin*

I would like to take a moment to thank all my readers, and those who comment -- You really do pick me up when I need it, encourage me on, and just plain make me smile. So thank you!

In celebration of reaching the 275 milestone, I will be hosting a giveaway. I've had this giveaway in mind for months, so stay tuned! I will be posting about it shortly.

Until next time,

Love It? Hate It?

What do you think of this fabric?

Love It? or Hate It?
(Leave a comment!)

Sep 8, 2011

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap - Really?

Anyone who's read my blog for any length of time knows that I'm a sucker for DIY.

So what am I up to now???

Liquid Laundry Soap!

Over the years, I've read about women who've made their own laundry soap with great success. It looked easy, so I figured since I'm close to running out of the commercial stuff, I'd give it a go.

I gathered the important "stuff":

Cost: Less than $7

I shaved 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap with my food processor. Btw, it took me longer to get the thing out and put it together than it did to shave the soap! It took like 5 seconds.

See what a good job it did?

Meanwhile, In a 2qt. saucepan, I heated approximately 5 c. of water to a boil on the stove. I added the soap shavings *after* I reduced the water to a simmer and covered with a lid. Once in a while, I stirred it up.

While the soap was melting, I filled a 5-gallon bucket with about 3 gallons of hot water. A 2qt or gallon pitcher works great for this. Then I added 1/2 c. of washing soda and 1 c. of borax. A wooden spoon works good to stir it all together. I could've put in some sort of scent (essential oils) at this point, but I don't have any so I didn't.

After the soap is melted, I added it to the bucket and this is what I got:

Cover and let it "brew"!

I just happened to have a frying pan lid that perfectly fits the top of a 5-gallon bucket. Who would've thunk it?? Incidentally, I did this on my lunch hour. At 9pm, the concoction in the bucket was still warm! I did stir it occassionally.

Different websites varied on what the consistency should be. I think it depends on the amount of borax and washing soda put in, but don't quote me on that. The soap may be watery or gel up in areas, or may be slightly lumpy in areas. Some said theirs came out like pudding. In any case, it's all normal!

24 hours later... Again, on my lunch hour I got to see the fruits of my (15 minutes) labor!

Smells like laundry soap!

Using a measuring cup and funnel, I transferred it to gallon jugs that I had in the basement, complete with directions label. (I'm sooo proud of myself! *giggles*)

Looks like MILK, doesn't it?

It actually made 3 1/2 gallons, but who wants to see half a jug? No one.

If you're like me, you'd be wondering: "This is great and all, but what's the cost breakdown?" (The accountant in me, ya know? Can't help it! Shush.)

Cost break down: (as of 2011)
• Borax: $2.98 for 76 oz. Cost per batch: 63cents (16 oz. needed for recipe)
• Washing Soda: $2.99 for 55 oz. Cost per batch .43cents (8 oz. needed for recipe)
• Ivory Soap: $.99 for 3 3.1 oz. Bars. Cost per batch: 33cents (1 bar of soap needed for recipe)
• Or Fels Naptha $.97 for one bar. Cost per batch: 32cents (1/3 bar needed)

Cost to make: approximately 1.38cents

Yield: 464 oz.
Cost per oz. = .00303

One-half cup (4 oz) is what's needed to wash normally soiled clothes. That makes it 1.2 cents per load of laundry!! How many loads? About 116!

As soon as I finish up the rest of my commercial laundry soap, I'll be trying this and let ya'll know what I think. I've been using borax as a laundry booster for a while, and Fels Naptha is a good stain remover so I'm guessing it'll work just fine.

P.S. This is a low-sudsing soap and works fine with top loading, front loading, and HE machines.

Sep 6, 2011

Yes, I'm Surviving

another week of school. Last week, I had 4 homework assignments, 3 chapters (87pgs) to read, 2 online assignments to post, and 1 paper to write. It was tough, but I made it! The grueling schedule isn't getting much easier: Work, Homework, Sleep. Rinse. Repeat. How many more weeks to go in this semester? Oh yeah... 4 more. That reminds me.. this week is midterms.

She sure has my readers fooled, doesn't she? Looking like she poses all cute and pretty for the camera. Actually, my little snot adorable furbaby hates having her photo taken. She will see me coming and as soon as I put the camera to my face, she will turn her head! I always have to catch her off guard, or use my long zoom lens so that she doesn't know it's her I'm actually photographing, lol. You can see a chronicle of her life HERE. Wasn't she a cute baby??!

Last week, I finished stitching and beading HOE "Words of Christmas" ornament. All I need to do is finish it into an ornament. No pics -- It's a surprise!

I also got out Blossom Splendor and finished up one page and started another. She now has her other hand and all her hair. The page I'm working on now has a ton of those blue and purple flowers... and lots of confetti stitches.

Other WIP pics can be seen HERE

Lots of repairs going on at The Homestead. Over the weekend, I had to fix one the shelves in my spare room closet. I built these last year. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to put the grain of the shelf perpendicular to the brackets. Even though there wasn't much weight on it, the shelf split right down the middle. Solution? Wood glue and supporting bars underneath.

The best part? New Tools!! Actually, I didn't need new tools. I *could have* used screws and my cordless drill. As fun as that might be, I opted for door #2! I'd been wanting a small air compressor for a while, and Menards had a Tool Shop brand on sale for $50 off the normal price. Yes, I *know*. Cheap! Cheap price, cheap made. For what I'll use it for, it'll do.

It came with a stapler, brad nailer, and finishing nailer. I HAD to try them all out when I got home. I ended up using the brad nailer to fix my shelf. Worked great! OK, so one project down.

Back in May, I bought a new laser printer. I replaced my 17-year old HP laser printer. I've only used the new printer a few times, and it's planting thumbprint size spots on the paper. After contacting Brother (that's the brand, not *my* brother, lol), they emailed me a few things to try. The first one didn't work. The second one involves cleaning the drum... Haven't gotten that far.

What else could go wrong? Umm... Last night, I decided to soak in the tub since my back has been bothering me. As I dried off, I heard the tub draining and then... I heard it stop and the sink started gurgling. Water came up about 1/4" in my sink! Not what I wanted to deal with at 8:30PM! So, off to the store I go to get some clog stuff. Did it work? Nope. At least it's draining... albeit s-l-o-w-ly. I did try the plunger on the sink -- black, yucky stuff came up. I think I'll need to snake it.

Stay tuned for next time...