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Slow going…trouble focusing…

I say “slow going,” but really I’ve been doing a lot. It’s like adding one more thing to my plate (the ducks) has watered down the amount of time I spend elsewhere.

It’s actually a good thing.

But now Spring is here, and I’m having trouble focusing. Yesterday was so beautiful, all I wanted to do was be outside. Since getting the ducks and warmer weather arriving, I have spent a lot more time outside.

Yesterday it was 90. Today it might be 70. We’re supposed to get rain…tomorrow? That would be great. We need a good soak.

See? Trouble focusing…anyway…

This was 3 weeks ago:

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I can’t even remember them being that little.

This is today:

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My, how they’ve grown…and fast! They are now as tall as their water container. (Which reminds me…they need a newer more duck friendly one…another thing to do today.)

Here is their new pen…

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It is not as big as I had hoped, but it was free, procured from H’s parents. It used to be their dog’s, who passed away last year. H was grumpy when he brought it home. It was, apparently, covered and tangled in weeds. And, it was hot outside. AND, before they could go get it, he had to wait 30 minutes while his dad put on his shoes…And then the truck’s battery was dead. Haha…poor H. But I do appreciate the pen.

A pen means duckies can go play outside. It means they can get used to being outside and being around cats and the cats can get squirted with vinegar and told NO! when they get too curious…so they also get used to being around ducks and understanding they are not prey.

And, as we have many predators…hawks, foxes…and I heard an owl screeching way too close for comfort last night…it is my job today to wrap the pen in chicken wire to assist in keeping predators OUT.

I am not actually looking forward to this. However, it must be done.

On the stitching front, I have managed to get some work done on a log cabin block…

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And here’s Prairie Girl on Path…

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Cats and cloth…

Today is mostly about cats…again.

Perhaps it’s that there is a lot to say about them, and perhaps this is indicative of the fact that they take up such a large space in my world.

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This is a rare cuddly moment with Matty. She loves to cuddle, especially first thing in the morning. But now that she is nearly grown up, she is often out the door and more interested in exploring the world outside than snuggling. I am actually ok with that because I have four others waiting for attention. Some days Olive won’t go outside until she’s had some petting. She seems to think when she jumps on a particular kitchen chair that means she will instantly be petted…and usually it does. She’s hard to disappoint. She lands there and looks at me expectantly. I’m here! Ready for petting!

Chicky won’t eat until he’s had a good head scratch. He’s always been like that, probably because when he first came to us he was completely wild (like Olive) and I began petting him while he was distracted by food. It worked. And, anyway, it is adorable and sweet.

Buggar, like Matty, loves the morning petting, which basically involves me holding her on my left shoulder (ugh! she’s heavy!), petting her incessantly for 15 to 20 minutes (I’m not kidding), allowing her to drool all over me- yuck!, coating me in cat hair and then bounding off of me (using claws!) with absolutely no notice, often scratching me or snagging my clothes in the process. After 7 years of this I’ve begun telling her NO…I’m not holding.

This morning, in a rare moment of being only cat as the others were outside, Weanie spotted my empty lap, giggled and came right over. I actually don’t pet Weanie for extended periods of time very often as, in this regard, too, she is high maintenance. She won’t sit still and tends to wiggle and hoist her girth around  – maybe searching for the right spot to be massaged? I don’t know, but it’s really annoying. But, knowing she’s had a rough go of it lately, I humored her and let her coat my new blue velvet jogging suit with a great deal of her plush, although shedding, cat hair. (It’s spring, so they’re all shedding…ugh.) Perhaps I sound unkind, and I’m sure they think that of me, but these are some of the most spoiled cat beasties you will ever meet. Don’t forget, their Dada is around in the evenings for petting, too. They do get plenty of hands-on attention, even if it is just snippets here and there.

However, this morning I loved on Weanie for a good 10 minutes, even holding her in my arms for half of that, until she tried to do her thing and start flipping onto her back to allow me a better angle. (Keep in mind she weighs at least 20 lbs.) I quietly told her no, that’s enough, and set her down beside me and continued to pet her off and on. But these cats are pushy. And a bit of petting is never enough. Finally, I had to make her get down. At which point she nastily wahed! at me. And I was reminded how cats are, by nature, ungrateful.

As if that wasn’t enough drama and I hadn’t been clear enough that I wasn’t petting, five minutes later she started all over again, noticing my empty lap (translation: you’re available for petting) and making a beeline for it. I told her no, go get in your place, and pointed to her bed (their places all have fresh blankies that I keep washed for them on a regular basis – hmph!) on the back of the couch. She went there and last I looked she had her back – and her big rump – defiantly pointed in my direction.

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This was taken yesterday when we were all enjoying the spring green and cool temps together under the flowering bush. H says Buggar has RBF…resting bitch face. And, she does. Although in this photo I think she was mainly squinting as she looked up, but that’s basically it, the RBF. When I wouldn’t pet/hold her for a droolfest this morning, but tried to make it up to her with a little petting, she actually whipped around and hissed/snarled at me. Yep, that’s the thanks I get. And that’s a good shot of Weanie’s backside, the one that was on view just a few minutes ago. Just imagine all that packed into a tight objectionable ball.

Now, Olive, who has the sweetest disposition of all the cats, has become our snake catcher. It started this winter. Now that spring is upon us, it seems there has been a hatch of garter snakes. I found one playing  ‘possum that she’d caught (she loses interest when they don’t wiggle about – a great defensive mechanism! Except of course for that dead one this winter that she kept carrying around – blegh.) I took a stick and hoisted it up on some brush away from Olive’s notice. The next few days we kept seeing it in the yard – H recognized it because it had a tooth mark – and we kept chucking it out, hopefully to safety. It kept coming back.

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Ewwww…

We thought maybe it had a death wish, coming into a yard with so many cats. But later, when Olive found another snake…this one about the size of a large earth worm, we realized the original one was Mama snake…trying to get back to her babies.

Here’s Olive with the baby snake. She also lost interest in this one when it went limp and wouldn’t respond.

I have more Olive stories I will save for a later date, but her garter snake adventures made it onto the word cloth last night. I had a lot of words I was considering for placement on the cloth, but they all centered around the garden…

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It seemed appropriate. And, there were these lovely stitchings from the other day…

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It’s cold again today, and I will have to cover my lettuce starts again. But subsequent days are meant to be warmer, and I am so looking forward to that.

In a few minutes I am off to the thrift store for another look around. It’s not that I need anything, but that I might find something that wants rescuing. You know how that is.

 

Cool days…I love them…

It’s cool and damp today, as was last night.

I love weather like this. I always have. I think I was made for living in the UK…or Oregon.

But, here I am, in Kansas. I do love the natural environment here, and have lots of wonderful memories of my time on a farm not too far from here. Before I leave here I’m going back to the farm to see if the current residents will let me take pictures. Last time I was there…maybe 8 years ago? No one was home and I drove up the longish drive just to see things. Everything seemed different, the way things do when you were around them when you were young and haven’t seen them since. Everything had shrunk.

I was very impressed with the neighbor’s front yard, though. When I was about 15, a large family moved in there and the parents planted trees everywhere. Now those tiny saplings are a tall, mature, beautiful forest. Maybe if I time my visit right they will be leafed out.

I had been lamenting the fact of not having a good enough camera. My cell phone takes ok photos, but they could be better.

This morning when I woke up I threw on pants, a long shirt, made tea and headed outdoors. Cool and damp…I couldn’t resist. I took the ipad, too. The one I’ve been using for months…and took this:

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Now, doesn’t that look like you could just reach right through the computer screen, snap off a fresh lettuce leaf and chomp on it? I know! I’ve had this ability to take much better photos all this time…harrumph!

I’m currently making crostini…or trying to. It doesn’t want to brown, but I have to go check on it. In the meantime…look what I have to do to keep the cats out of my new vegetable beds…

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The crostini is still not brown…dripping with oil, crunchy, but still not brown…and, yes, Olive would be right in the middle of that soil…doing you-know-what…if those sticks weren’t there. Still, they get as close as they can.

If I leave here, the garden will be my biggest disappointment. I have so many plans for it.

However, the stitching will continue, no matter where I am. Here’s the latest on In Nature. I practiced a few faces before stitching one on. It was the only drawing I did all week…and my next class is today. I will have nothing to show Mr. DeBeverly.

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I’ve been wanting to do a critter for a while now. Jude is so talented and her beasts are such an inspiration. But my critters will always look like my critters…and I am ok with that. This piece has been a lot of fun…and I’m not finished yet.

Today is the last day for stitching any more February words on the word cloth. And I have several I’d like to do. I will probably start on this instead of drawing. What a bad student I am this week.

Speaking of other places, I like a lot about Oklahoma. I love the wild green cedars dotted across the rolling burnt red landscape. It is truly beautiful.

Norman, which is a good-sized college town, also has better food than we do. My favorite store discovered on our weekend trip was Sprouts where we found these white rose potatoes:

They were so creamy and delicious, simply sliced and baked with a red onion and oil. Half the bag is already gone. I ate last night’s leftovers for breakfast.

The crostini has now been in the oven forever. Last time I checked it still wasn’t browning. I’m going to take it out anyway…I’m tired of waiting. And then I’m going to take a grapefruit outside and eat it and enjoy the cool and damp…and perhaps I’ll ponder some more about the near future. H told me last night we will know if we are moving sometime in the next 10 days.

In the meantime, look what’s happening outside:

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They like the cool, damp, too.

Crostini update: slightly golden brown, sprinkled with Fleur de Sel…and cooling.

 

Cat calamities and other nonsense…

This little number has been progressing nicely…

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She did, indeed, go with me to Oklahoma this weekend. I stitched on her whenever time was available. We stayed fairly busy, even though we had little planned.

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H went to the Laker’s Game in Oklahoma City with family Friday night…I opted out and instead went to the Air BnB room (a condo) to get us settled. I had about two blissful hours where all I did was lie on the couch and read a new (to me) blog I am following, The Kitchens Garden. I have gone back to when the author first began the blog, back in July 2011. I am enjoying it immensely. Having already read through Hazel’s blog, I was looking for new blog material. I have a lot of interest in farming/permaculture, so the garden blog is really appealing.

I’m hoping to get outside today and do a little gardening, myself. Although I have sewing I want to do as well. It is always a push-pull kind of feeling, trying to decide what to do with my day. I also need to work on getting a place ready for chicks and ducklings! I have decided (more or less) to just go for it: whether we stay in this house or not, whether we move or not…bah! Just do it! The only sad bit is I will probably have to kick Chicky out of his shed. He does love it in there, but it’s really the only place I have to safely keep the chicks.

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We arrived home Sunday evening to…cat calamity. Weanie and Olive had somehow (I know exactly how!) managed to trap themselves in our home office, which also serves as H’s bedroom. (I have my bedroom, he has his…not every couple can or wants to share a bed! Anyway, it works for us for various reasons.) Besides being thoroughly traumatized by the event, (she was howling under the bed) Weanie had the horrible experience of actually being trapped WITHOUT FOOD in the same room with the dreaded little girl…Olive. Horror of horrors!

And, what you might think would happen, happened. I don’t know how long they were cooped up, but it was enough time for each of them to poo…yuck! Olive discreetly and respectfully tucked her butt into a corner to do her business while WEANIE chose to poo right in the middle of…did you guess it? No, well, right in the middle of her Dada’s BED! Double yuck. She used his comfy blanket to go on AND to use for covering up. Blegh.

In her efforts to avoid said disgusting younger kitty, Weanie had also managed to knock all the photos off H’s display shelf – including his new Two Hearts piece…hmph!… a racy photo of yours truly, and a group shot taken of H with famous rapper Nelly! How disrespectful!

Frazzled and nerve-wracked from her ordeal, Weanie darted outside once she was done wailing under the furniture where she proceeded to gorge herself on the cat food H had just put in the outside food bowls. After few minutes of shoving food into her pie hole faster than she could chew it, she promptly did an about-face and puked…right on our welcome mat.

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In case it’s not clear by now, Weanie is high-maintenance and high-drama. I could tell she was thoroughly ashamed of herself. (The girls – even the little ones – are so good in the house and never disgrace themselves, or us, in this fashion.) This on top of the fact something else has been bothering Weanie lately, so she’s having a rough go of it. I have noticed today she is studiously avoiding the home office – refusing even to look at it or really acknowledge its existence – which is so fascinating as up until the point of being trapped in it, the office/bedroom was her favorite haunt…day and night. She is currently curled up in a tight ball on the couch with her back to EVERYONE.

It really wasn’t the kitties’ fault they got trapped. I should have thought of that possibility. I made the decision not to sequester the little girls to their space upstairs, as I was worried they would go stir-crazy. They have been behaving well enough I thought I could leave both upstairs and down for them to enjoy. The office/bedroom is, also, H’s domain. Before we left I almost said…hey don’t you want to close off the office so they can’t get in there? But, the truth is, I have grown tired of making helpful suggestions only to have them totally ignored.

Things like…hey, if we clean the garage out a little more we could squeeze the car in there and it won’t get any hail damage…Nah…it’ll be ok…or hey, maybe you should wash that apple before you eat it, after all, they are the most heavily sprayed of the fruits…Nah, I never wash my fruit before eating it, hahaha…

You get the drift.

The latter comment was made last night at dinner. I told H that was the exact attitude that got his bed pooped on. And then I laughed. hahaha…

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A bit of this and that…

I don’t have much to write about today. I’m mainly sharing pictures.

Why?

Because it’s sunny and gorgeous out, I slept late so I am missing a chunk of the day, and I’m itching to go here and stitch:

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Hey, don’t laugh. It is a very redneck set up, but it works! I made this discovery last spring when I was desperate to be outside but tired of baking in the sun. I kept eyeballing that piece of lattice and thinking…I wonder if it would work? On hotter days I throw an old sheet over it for enhanced shading. Is that called make-do ingenuity? I don’t know, but it works.

That’s my word cloth pictured above. I’ve got a few words to get on there. And my socks are already off in preparation for some grounding. The grass is greener since taking this photo, thanks to all that rain. Earlier I found a ladybug in the kitchen and took it out. I have more gnats than usual and a few moths in the house. I suspect the plants upstairs are hatching things. It’s that time…

Jude has been putting together log cabin blocks. I have admired them for a while now. They look so easy and fun I wanted to try it. It was a good excuse to start using some of that fabric I dyed last year.

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Jude has a video she posted recently where she talks about the stitches she uses on seams. I found her method actually creates a beautiful decorative stitch, so I went with it using perle cotton and some bamboo silk thread, which sews like a dream. The stitches remind me of a Morse code pattern…dot dash….dot dash… After all, we are communicating with fabric and thread…

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I enjoyed putting this block together so much, I started another one. Here I’ve used thicker thread again to make the invisible stitch visible. I like the effect. That magenta thread is soy silk.

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On the drawing front, I showed this sketch to my instructor yesterday.

He helped me understand what was wrong with it…the eyes are off a bit. He explained how eyes need to be level with the tilt of the head. However, he said it was too good a sketch to change anything about it. That was nice to hear.

As far as kitty shenanigans, not much to report. I suspected it wouldn’t be long before Buggar started playing with the little girls. I have been enjoying their antics in the back yard.

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They do love the tall grass that grew in this little garden plot, Buggar especially. She loves to hide in it. That’s her poofy tail on the right and Matty (aka “Noodle”) laying in wait on the left. As Matty grows older it gets harder and harder to tell them apart. They are so alike in coloring…and personality…you’d think they were related.

Everyone has behaved pretty well lately, even Bully, although there has been more chasing of Wienie, which I really dislike. She has always been chased by the other cats. I don’t know what that’s about, but I’m going to look into it. Everyone also came in right away last night, except for Matty. She giggled above my head on the roof for a long time. She loves to get up there. Finally, I directed her to the top of the shed, where she jumped down and then finally ran inside, as if she hadn’t done that by herself a million times. Cats…

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Birds, bees and…ducks…

The past week has felt like spring.

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I’ve had a few bees buzzing around me in the backyard, likely in search of blossoms. (That’s a photo from last spring.) The only thing I’ve seen blooming so far is shepherd’s purse which is an herb that has a little white globe-type blossom. But after nearly an inch and a half of rain last night I suspect early flowering plants will be popping out all over.

It seemed like it was possibly building up to rain when I was on my walk around  Path last night. (I got 3 miles in!) But I don’t pay attention to forecasts, they change so much anyway, and I wasn’t expecting it. It had been so long since I had heard thunder, I didn’t recognize the storm rolling in a few hours later.

Last year H was not allowed to mow in the backyard for a long time…not that he minded, as he is not a fan of mowing. But I wanted to see what all would grow there and what all would bloom. I couldn’t believe how many dandelions and other flowers we had…it was like a carpet with the bees swarming all over them. This year there will be even less mowing, as I am using more space for gardening. We’ll see if any of it comes to fruition…H is looking for jobs elsewhere.

The birds and bees signaling spring have me thinking about…ducks. I’m getting some! I wanted some last year, but I stalled. Actually, I bought 9 beautiful ducklings last spring when visiting a former acquaintance, but in a very complicated situation in which I had to leave quickly I was unable to take them with me. They were all left behind, and I was very sad about it. Once home, I couldn’t find the kind of ducks I was looking for: Muscovy. I’m hoping to get a few here when the local farm supply starts selling chicks and ducklings. I might get a few chicks, too.

Here is Buggar, surrounded by the dandelions…

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Even though the groundhog said 6 more weeks of winter, we’re obviously marching along towards spring. I don’t listen to those silly predictions anyway. I listen to the birds. They are singing about spring all over the place. I have the front window open and have been listening to their delightful songs this morning. Now, if I could just beam myself to the country some place and be surrounded by those song birds, that would be ideal…

Stitching was completed on Two Hearts and gifted to H. He promptly ran out and purchased a frame for it. I thought that was very sweet.

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I got the red linen backing on after the bulk of the stitching was done. I don’t have a lot of that lovely red, so I removed what wouldn’t show.

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Even though I had pinned the decorative bit down, when I put the edge stitching around it a sort of bubble was created. Once I got the final backing on I had to invisible stitch the front down, sliding in between layers. Halfway through the second edging I realized the thick perle cotton thread I was using was just too bulky. I’m not a big frogger (ripping stitches out) but this had to go. A thinner thread looked much better.

 

A couple closeups…

It didn’t take too long to get it framed. I decided to use fabric for the backing. I had plenty of that shiny red/blue to spare.

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I wasn’t sure why I included the silver silk shantung, other than it was a nice contrasting bit of color. It did make sense in a sort of I Love You way…and then H pointed out how it looks like a “KU” theme…his favorite basketball team…which happens to have these colors. It really does look like KU sports gear. Kindof funny how that turned out.

As usual, the weekend went by too fast. We did, however, enjoy some good meals. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, which was nice. But this meal at home – pasta with sweet potato puree – was a highlight.

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I really didn’t have a plan going into it, but suddenly a pasta dish sounded really good. Here’s how I made it:

I boiled 1/2 a package of Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (250g/9 oz) with 3 cloves of garlic. I grated just over 1/2 cup of Piave Italian cheese, similar to romano or parmesan. I chopped up a handful of fresh basil (from my plants I wintered over upstairs…I’m so glad I did that!) I drained the pasta, removed the garlic and mashed it in a large mixing bowl, then added 1 Tbsp butter along with the other ingredients. Plus about 3/4 tsp. pink sea salt.

I had warmed up a very large sweet potato earlier, which I had with butter for breakfast, so I scooped out the rest and in a separate bowl I mixed it with a little salt and 1-2 Tbsp goat cheese. I kept thinking it would go really well as a topper for my pasta… and it did! We drizzled olive oil over the top, which added a wonderful nutty flavor.

The combination was really lovely. We enjoyed it immensely…along with a bottle of San Pelegrino mineral water, which seemed only fitting.

Wishing you good meals with true loves…

 

 

 

Getting it wrong…

I read a blog post recently which gave new bloggers tips for how to do things right on a blog.

It went something like: post at the same time every day, have a detailed explanation of exactly what your blog is about, respond immediately to every comment (not to do so supposedly shows you don’t care about your readership), only take photos with a professional camera…etc…

I don’t do any of the above.

I guess I’m doing it all wrong.

I’m actually pretty ok with how things are going on my blog so far. Considering it was really started as an online diary, to have a following at all is pretty sweet. Having an excuse to write about myself and a venue to put it on is even sweeter. I’m having a lot of fun with it. I hope any readers who happen by here are enjoying it, too.

To start things off today, I’d like to share a Kansas sunset…

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Nice, isn’t it? Blurry, through the glass, on the road, only half a grain elevator-pictured photo and all. I like it.

Sunday – two days ago now – I finally got to mostly stitch. It helped that I refused all the errands H suggested, which were really just ADD-type excuses to go and go and do and do. He complains every day about being tired, but won’t rest. Both of us were “going to bed is boring” kids, so sometimes it’s hard to make ourselves go to bed.

And he likes to go do things, but I have projects – he doesn’t. Maybe I will start making him a list. There is so much to do here, things in which he never participates. I have, honestly, never understood that about him, although I’ve mostly been fine to see him do what he wants when he wants. He is a really hard worker.

Staying home allowed me to stitch. Mostly it was finishing up the seed names on the wordcloth, although I started a new project which I am really loving.

First, the seeds:

Aren’t the names beautiful? Five Color Silverbeet is Swiss chard. I bought it at the local Farmer’s Markets last year in big bunches and juiced it. It was one of my favorite ingredients. Feher Ozon Paprika is a mild pepper.

And then, there was the Strawberry Spinach. I was SO excited to stitch this one, had a lovely idea for it at all, but this happened:

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I got the “font” sizes wrong so that Strawberry looks much bigger and completely separate from Spinach. I’m not sure how that happened. I was also SO excited to stitch the berries on Spinach, but I grabbed the wrong red, instead of the red I used on Strawberry, so the berries, which were supposed to unify the two words of the name, don’t. *sigh*

Still, the stitching is nice and, overall, the cloth is just looking so beautiful. I’m really pleased and every day I’m amazed at how pretty it looks. I’ll try to take a photo soon that encompasses all the stitching.

There was also some work in the rose garden…

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Adding a little outline stitching is really bringing this rose patch to life.

I also discovered what I was doing wrong (specifically on Ukranian Purple) with what I am calling a running back stitch, although I don’t think that’s the name. I’m not being too hard on myself for not remembering since, technically, it has been nearly 40 years since my Grandfather’s wife showed me how to stitch it. It’s also been about 8 years since I was heavily into embroidery, and I guess I’ve forgotten some of the basics. I have books upstairs. At some point I will look it up.

Anyway, what I found was: keep the working thread under the needle; work left to right with the outline (in this case words) vertical; don’t travel beyond the previous stitch (if you do, the stitches stack up); take smaller stitches on the curves and tack them down if necessary to keep them from drooping; and, start work at the bottom of the letter, stitch to the top and then begin again at the bottom. Most of this is pictured below.

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These guidelines kept my stitches flowing together much more eloquently.

I also remembered how tough it is to do knots – French or otherwise – without a hoop. You need both hands on top of the surface of the fabric to make them accurately, and some switching positions back and forth to get them just right. I’m guessing this was some of the inspiration behind Jude’s thread beads. The dot over the “i” in Silverbeet is a thread bead. Thread beads can be made without disrupting the flow of your stitching, because the stitching hand stays on top, and the support hand on the bottom. You just keep going. I’m using a lot of thread beads in the new project. They quickly get better with practice.

Here’s a look at the preliminary stitching:

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I think I’m going to give it to H as a late Valentine’s Day present. I would have finished it today…I still might if I have the energy…but we were gone most of the day. H had some business to attend to and I had my art class. And…speaking of getting things wrong…we drew people today…it was a rough one. I won’t be sharing any sketches.

We had just two days in the blissful 70s. Each of those days I whipped around Path and easily got in 3 miles. The following days have been crappy and cold. It was a strain to do 2 miles, but I did them. No walking Path today…too busy.

But I did catch another photo of Matty playing in the water. She is fascinated by it.

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Sleep cycles have shifted again and I have had some earlier mornings. I went out to feed Chick and saw a quite beautiful silver moon, framed in pink and blue. H’s iPhone captured it the best.

We began with the sun…I’ll leave you with the moon.

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