Dec 16, 2017

12 Days of Christmas Exchange

Each year, I participate in the 12 Days of Christmas Exchange hosted by one of the Yahoo groups I'm a member of.  It works like this:  12 small gifts worth $2 are purchased, wrapped, and sent to the assigned partner.  On December 1st, one gift is opened each day and posted to the group.  It is a lot of fun!

On the first day of Christmas, my partner gave to me... three skeins of beautiful Mandarin floss and a scissor keep kit.  I see a new start in my future.

On the second day of Christmas, my partner gave to me... a beautiful jar of homemade apple jelly.  I cannot wait to try this.  Yummo!!

On the third day of Christmas, my partner gave to me... a limited edition Cherished Heart kit, two cards of Wisper floss (lavender and yellow), and two cards of Fuzzy Stuff floss (blue and pink).  Ideas are swirling in my head as to what I can do with this.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my partner gave to me.... Miniature Christmas Ornaments kit and a pair of Little Gems Scissors.  Look how TINY those ornaments are!!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my partner sent to me... a jar of homemade applesauce.  I can't wait to try it!  Having made applesauce for the first time this summer, I know what goes into canning it!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my partner sent to me... four skeins of pearl cotton, three more cards of Mandarin floss, and one card of Nordic Gold.  Look at those pretty colors!  I love them.

On the 7th Day of Christmas, my partner sent to me... the LARGEST bag of hot cocoa I've ever seen!  It's the Swiss Miss Chocolatier Series Dark Chocolate.  I've included one of my coffee cups to show the size of the bag.  The beverage was quite tasty, I must say!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my partner sent to me... 28ct hand-painted Jobelan fabric by Jar Designs and two skeins of GAST.  I've never used hand-painted fabric so I'm so excited to find a project to try it on.  And the GAST.... so pretty!

On the 9th day of Christmas, my partner sent to me... a book called, "Threads of Grace" by Kelly Long, a Mary Engelbreight bookmark, and LOTS a tea.  There are several flavors I've never tried so I'm looking forward to it.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my partner sent to me... lots of good stuff!  Several designs in the April 2004 Stoney Creek magazine caught my eye.  Wild Adventures has lots of gorgeous animal designs.  I also received two other charts that can be adapted into smaller designs.  As if it weren't enough, my partner also sent three skeins of Belle Soie silk floss.  I've never used these before so I'm looking forward to trying them out.  How fun is this?!

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my partner gave to me... four packages of beads, two packages of crystal treasures, one skein of Caron Waterlilies silk floss, one skein of Dinky Dyes silk, a package of needles and a bunch of DMC plastic bobbins.  What a great gift package!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my partner gave to me... more tea (Can you ever have too much tea?!) and a cute little Kreinik Ornament of the Month kit... so, so CUTE!

Because my partner thinks of a dozen as a "Baker's Dozen", she sent me a 13th gift package.  How sweet of her!  The Baker's Dozen gift package was filled with lots of goodies:  Two stocking leaflets, a Christmas Treasures leaflet (all by Stoney Creek), two skeins of Gloriana floss, and MORE TEA!  I have all sorts of new tea flavors to try.  I can't wait!

I have truly been spoiled with this exchange.  I've been so busy at work that each day's gift was truly a highlight.  A big THANK YOU goes out to Shirley in KY.  I appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into my packages.

Until Next Time...

Dec 5, 2017

Just Around The Corner...

... old man Winter awaits.  We received our first snowfall on November 11th.  It didn't last long and here in the Midwest, we've had a roller coaster of unseasonably warm weather, rainy weather, and today bitterly cold weather.  Yesterday, it was was 61 degrees with gusting southerly winds.  Today, it's 29 degrees with bitterly cold northerly winds.  Yep, Winter is a-coming!

First Snow of 2017 at The Homestead

I went to a retreat in October where I had two finishes.  One is an FFO (fully finished object) that I can show.  The other isn't finished yet, so no photos (sorry!).  The stitching fits beneath glass.  To finish the fabric, I had to learn the nun stitch.  It wasn't bad once I got the hang of it!  I really like how this turned out.

Design:  Full Moon
Designer:  The Drawn Thread
Fabric:  32ct Linen
Fibers:  DMC, GAST, WDW

The box above is one of the finishing alternatives shown with the chart.  It's by Cottage Garden.  If you are looking to use this box for finishing, SHOP AROUND!  I bought two of these on Amazon for $12 each.  The next day, the vendor increased the price to $20.  Some LNS sell the box for $28.  Prices on Amazon range from $15 to $20 and come in a variety of colors (black, white, brown).

I had another finish besides the two mentioned above.  I had a piece of pretty blue aida that I thought would work perfectly for this design.  Originally, I had intended to make an ornament but it turned out larger than I anticipated.  Hmmm... where have I heard that before?  That brings me to another thought:  Has anyone noticed that a lot of the ornaments in the JCS issues are way larger than one would expect for ornaments?  Anyway...

Design:  Outside My Window
Designer:  Diane Graebner of Lynn's Prints
Magazine:  JCS Ornament Issue 2005
Fabric:  14ct Baby Blue Aida*
Fibers:  DMC
Embellishments:  Handmade Cording, Pearl Rice Beads

Originally, I'd posted a fabric toss on Facebook asking for opinions whether I should use a red fabric or a blue one.  Overwhelmingly, the consensus was red!  However, one person suggested I use blue and put a red cording around the blue stitched fabric.  I took it a step further and chose the red of the birds and the silver gray of the stars to make coordinated cording.  It turned out so nice... I'm very pleased.

*I don't use much aida anymore although I have a boatload of it.  So every now and then, I pull a piece out and stitch something on it.  Stitching goes faster and it's easier on the eyes.  And, look!  I made a cute pillow... with aida!

Until Next Time...

Dec 4, 2017

Ornament Exchanges

I participated in two Christmas Ornament exchanges this year.

This one went to Marina in Canada.  I received the sweetest 'thank you' email from her telling me she has it hanging in her kitchen for all to see.

Design:  Let It Snow
Designer:  Casey Buonaugurio
Magazine:  JCS Christmas Issue 2008
Fabric: 28ct White Cashel Linen
Fibers: DMC
Embellishments: Handmade Cording, Mitten Button,
Wood Snowflake Ornament

This one went to Christina in FL.  It turned out a bit bigger than I anticipated, so I made it into a little pillow instead.

Design:  Love and Dreams
Designer:  Jan Fate of Angel Stitchin
Magazine:  JCS Christmas Ornament Issue 2007
Fabric:  28ct Linen
Fibers: Carries Creations, GAST
Embellishments:  Gold Beads

I received two beautifully beaded ornaments from Marcy in WI.  I really am impressed with those who do beaded projects as it's not my forte.

Thank you, Marcy!

Kim E. in IA also sent me a beaded ornament.  I stocking with a little snowman embellished with a star.

Thank you, Kim!

Until next time...

Painting and Stitching...

... not necessarily in that order.

Summer and Fall has flown by so fast... reminded by my brother who I hadn't seen since March.  It's been a really busy summer. Every weekend, I've been off on little adventures that I have yet to blog about.  

I set aside my Etegami endeavors for a bit.  My aunt went gaga over the sunflower etagami I did in class.  Apparently, I'd promised to do one for her and forgot.  She reminded me the other day...  Instead of doing an etegami, I did an actual painting for her.

About half way through doing the painting, I had my doubts it was going to turn out.  The dark spot in the middle was a combination of yellow, red, and violet.  I did not like it at all!  The bottom seemed like a mottled mess.  The only part I truly liked were the petals.  I continued on because if there's anything I learned from the watercolor class last March it's that you never know how it's going to turn out.  Plus, it's only paper and paint after all.  So, moving forward I was really happy with how it turned out!

I'm not sure what brand of watercolor paper I used as it was laying in a pile of scraps I had.  I used Staedtler, Qor, and Daler Rowney watercolors. India ink.  7 x 9 3/4"

I did a second one. I like the leaves better in this one, but like the sunflower better in the first one.

I have a finish! I visited my second Mom in Virginia earlier this year (I also have to blog about this, too!) and she stitched this same design while I was there. Then she let me borrow the chart to stitch it.  We both changed the colors from the original design.  Here's my rendition:

I found the perfect frame while thrift store shopping.

I can honestly say, "I'm abundantly blessed."

Until Next Time...

Aug 18, 2017

Etegami 絵手紙

::hangs head in disbelief::

I cannot believe I forgot to write about Etegami!  

Back in June (Yes, June!), I took an Etegami art class taught by the same instructor who did the Chinese Brush Painting class.

Etegami is Japanese postcard art containing simple painted images and heart-felt words.  To complete etegami, the card is then mailed to a friend or loved one.  Etegami literally means "Picture Letters".
e = picture, tegami = letter.

The fun part about making etegami is that it doesn't have to be perfect (something I struggle with in the creative process).  In fact, the phrase "clumsy is good" is an important thing to remember when doing etegami.

Class was an all day event in which we learned and practiced etegami skills.  

My work space for etegami class
 It was such a fun day!  The fruits of my labor:

Peppers and Bok Choy
Carrots - These were fun to do!
Ink Only - Orchids
Orchid - Painted from Still Life
Panda - Painted from Photo
Sunflower - Painted from Still Life
I posted these on my FB page and asked if anyone would like an etegami from me.  Since most of my FB friends are stitchy friends, I was overwhelmed with happiness that so many wanted one.  So, I've been busy making and sending Etegami!

So far, six of the seven I've sent out have made it to the "catcher" (the person receiving the etegami).

I sent the bird one I made in class to my aunt.  She has it on her refrigerator -- she says several of her friends just "love it".

The first wave of etegami sent out
 One of the catchers said she liked cherry blossoms so I tried my hand at them.  In return, she crocheted me a kokeshi doll. Love those things!

Another friend liked his so much, he sent me a photo and later said he taped it to his computer workspace.

I have sent out the next six. Where shall they land?  We shall see?

Until next time...

Aug 9, 2017

Tale of Two Fitbits

A few years ago, thanks to my previous employer's healthy lifestyle program, I got more active and started using a Fitbit Charge fitness tracker.  As a numbers person, I really enjoyed seeing my progress and stats.  Within a year, the band started coming apart at the seams and then one day the button control on the side fell out. 

It was still under warranty, so I contacted Fitbit and they sent me another one.  I thought.... Great customer service!

Again, less than a year later, the replacement Fitbit started having issues.  First, the band started coming apart at the seams (around the 9 month mark) and then a few weeks later, I was driving home from work and the band broke and fell off my arm!

This is just one side.  Both the top and bottom edges on the face of the tracker also came loose and there was bubbling under the band.

I went to the Fitbit website to communicate via chat with a customer service rep.  Word to the wise... the "year warranty" does not apply to a replacement Fitbit.  The warranty starts from the time you get the first Fitbit.  As such, the rep offered me a 25% discount to upgrade to a new Fitbit because I was past the one year warranty period.  WTH? If they send me a brand-spanking new Fitbit, it should have a warranty.  The rep wrote his offer with such enthusiasm!  I told him a product so expensive should not fall apart within a year, not once but twice and that there are hundreds of documented cases online.  He assured me he'd accelerate my "case" to a supervisor and follow up in an email with my 'options'.  I had an inkling of what was to come so I insisted on waiting for a supervisor answer.  After repeated attempts on my part, the rep told me no supervisor was available and he wasn't going to re-discuss it.  Really?

The next day, I received the email as promised... and as I thought, the email contained the 25% discount offer!  Peturbed at the run-around, I responded back: 

"As I stated in the chat I will NOT be spending money on another Fitbit replacement. This is a well known issue and a company such as Fitbit should stand behind their products especially since this has happened TWICE on two different devices.  To give me the run around in chat about how I was going to be offered 'options' in email is abhorrent customer service!  Valued Fitbit member indeed."

A few days later, I received another email from Fitbit.  Key points included:

•  Appreciation for speaking my mind (LOL)
•  Fitbit trackers are made to last (What?  A year?), especially the Charge model (which is why it is being replaced by another model)
•  When anomalies such as band peeling occurs, the engineering team is informed so that improvement can be made which is why we have launched new Fitbit models (Apparently, they missed the part where I said my band broke!)
•  They stand behind their product and want to keep me in the Fitbit family
•  After carefully reviewing my case, they will make an "exception" and send replacement 'options' (Isn't this what was offered in chat?) in another email.

True to their word, another email arrived with 'options'.  This time, the options included a 50% discount on a new Fitbit product -or- a replacement Fitbit Charge.  I'm torn between being pleased they upped their offer and irritated that I had to send an email stating my displeasure before they sent the latest offer.

Finally, I gave in and decided to get the replacement. Okay... if a company has access to your history (and yes, they do!), one would THINK they'd look to see what size I've had and check to see if they have THAT size.  I received a third email stating the Charge is being discontinued (I know!) and inventory is limited to size XL in three colors.  I'm not an XL.  ::sigh::  The other alternative is to be relegated to a Fitbit Alta.  Why not just send me the latest Charge 2?

I agreed to the Alta.  Two weeks went by and no confirmation of shipment, so I emailed them.  It does not surprise me that immediately after I contacted them, I received confirmation of shipment.  My guess is they probably hoped I'd disappeared.  I received the Alta in a padded envelope wrapped in bubble wrap. No other packaging, no instruction book.  ::sigh:

While I was going back and forth with Fitbit about the defective Charge,  I did some research regarding how I might fix it (in case Fitbit wasn't going to honor a warranty) and found a YouTube video... Yes, YouTube is my go to for fixing things!  For less than $3, I bought an Alta band and a Charge slipcover on eBay.  I removed the broken band from the Charge and put the other band and slipcover on.  It's not pretty.  It's not water-resistant.  But!  It works.

The silver square was covered with black paint.  In the short time I've had it, it has rubbed off.  Shipped from China -- Can't expect too much.

When the Charge finally stops working, I'll use the Alta.  Meantime, I'm doing research for a different brand of activity band.

Until next time...