Monday, January 19, 2015

"Around the World in 80 Days" by Little House Needleworks

I did make some changes in the speciality threads, substituting what I had in my supply that was similar or using a different color to show better on the fabric.  Instead of Crescent Colours Desert Mesquite, I used Poblano Pepper. My dye lot of Desert Mesquite was too close to Weeks Dye Works Juniper to have any contrast with the grass. The dye lot I had was much different than what was shown on the model. Instead of Crescent Colours Eggshell, I used Weeks Dye Works Parchment. Instead of Crescent Colours Manor Red, I used Weeks Dye Works Brick.

This pattern also had quite a bit of errata, probably the most I've ever had in one pattern. Luckily the corrections can be found on Little House Needlework's website.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life Changes

I was a bit embarrassed when I came back to this blog and realized I hadn't posted in nearly 18 months. Those months have been chaotic and unsure at moments, but wonderful and uplifting at others. Regardless, I've made some major life changes that I've been quite happy with.

I made a decision nearly three years ago to change the course I was headed on. I had a wake-up call in the form of two very dear friends who called me on my BS right before Christmas break. I went home, spent time with my family, but more importantly spent time with myself, rethinking my priorities. For a long time I let my job as a high school teacher in a low-income area define my worth as a person. I'd go months without seeing my family who lived three hours away, on the other side of the state. I was unhappy and isolated. I received very little validation from my job and much criticism on little things I wasn't doing right (like submitting lesson plans five minutes late). I took out my anger on those closest to me, and they were finally fed up with me.

Of course, once I made the decision to move, that wasn't the end of the matter. I still had a house to sell in a market that wasn't the best, and I am a Planner. I am not spontaneous. I think too much. So, I decided that I was going to move in 18 months--finish out the remainder of that school year and one more so I could pack and sell the house, save some money. Even with that decision made, I still had fights with depression. It would take another moment, in my home-town Cracker Barrel, to realize that just making the decision wasn't going to be enough, that I'd need help, and I made the decision to find a therapist to help me set my mind back on the path forward.

I won't say that the last year at that particular job was easy, because being a high school teacher is never easy. I went about writing a resume, applying for jobs, and networking online to find a social studies position closer to family all while trying to sell an unsellable house. Not signing a contract that year was a load off my shoulders in regard to one job, but it was also scary. I had never been unemployed in my entire adult life. I spent ten years at that school, collected some wonderful memories (I don't want to appear that it was all miserable, because it wasn't), made some wonderful friends, and learned a lot about people and my profession.

So, in August of 2013, which was my last post here, I was at a crossroads. My house had not sold. Despite interviews, I did not have a job. I was disheartened, especially after an interview where, ten minutes in, I realize that the principal had already picked his candidate and I was just there to fill in numbers. (The clue was that he didn't want to talk about my teaching philosophy, but my time spent in England. Did I go to soccer games?) My friends were going back to work, and I was not. I had a house, but in the wrong town.

Finally, my dad calls and asks when I'm moving up, forcing my hand. (Someone had to.) I moved most of my belongings to my brother's house, where for a month I did nothing but cross-stitch and watch television. I visited friends I hadn't seen in a long time. I spent time with my family, especially my niece and nephew. I applied for substitute teaching jobs, thinking that would get my feet in the door. Eventually I landed in a long-term teaching position in a middle school, which could have turned into a permanent position if only I had been English certified. At the end of that job, I ended up interviewing in another district for the position I currently hold.

The last three years have been full of ups and downs, but I feel like I've finally landed on my feet. I have a job (albeit teaching eighth-grade varsity--9th grade), I have a new house, and things are looking up.

I hope to post more, especially my many finished projects from 2014.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Finished Object: Sarah Ann Wilcox Sampler

Lately I've been motivated to finish some cross-stitch projects before I begin any new ones. I'm not always successful, but after two years, I finally finished this one!

Yes, two years! Two years ago I last posted my progress here after five weeks on the Sarah Ann Wilcox reproduction sampler. This is the finished project:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Genealogy: Storing Negatives

For the past several years I've been sifting through old family photos and trying to make some sense of them. I've scanned them into the computer, labelled them, and made a spreadsheet of information. For the most part, I've tried to keep them in the books in which I found them. In most cases, I have duplicates spread across three books, but I know from experience with my own photos that my descendants are going to be having the same problem as they sift through my boxes.

In the digital age, negatives are no longer an issue. Film is no longer an issue. Anyone can print a photo  on their home printer, or they can share it through any number of social networking sites. When dealing with pictures from the 1920s through the 1990s, negatives are just a fact of life.

I was blessed with a grandmother who was meticulous in labeling photographs. Most of the photos have her handwriting on the back, with names, dates, and locations. Duplicates were given the same care. She placed negatives behind the photos in case a copy was ever needed, and most of these negatives were the same size as the picture.

In an effort to preserve some of the pictures, I've moved them to better albums with acid-free paper. The negatives I've moved as well, labeling them with the number and placing them in special, archival-safe plastic sleeves.

Much better! (The label colors have no meaning.) I found the negative sleeves on They come in different sizes for differing types of negatives. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Genealogy: What Not to Do When Making a Photo Book

About two Christmases ago I received a promotion from Shutterfly for a free Photo Book, 8X8, hardcover. These can generally run $29 for a basic book, so of course I took advantage of the opportunity. The first one I made for my dad included pictures from his family. Appropriately, I named it "Cook Family Album." 

Except in one place. Do you notice it? 

That's right. THE SPINE. According to the spine, we're part of the Johnson family. I didn't notice this until I had placed an order for the third copy of the book.

So, word to the wise, when you go to make your album on any site, make sure to check the spine.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Update: Paula Vaughan's "Thoughts of Spring"

I just noticed that I never updated my progress pictures of "Thoughts of Spring." I finished it in time to gift it to my mother for Christmas 2012.

I'm currently working on another Paula Vaughan for this Christmas.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Remakes: Star Trek and Jane Austen

I've been a Star Trek fan since I was in middle school. Equal blame falls on my mom and my best friend: my mom bought a boxed set of the movies on VHS, and my best friend was a big The Next Generation fan. I thought TNG was silly (I still do, at times). But The Original Series (TOS)? That was a different story! It was so... cheesy. I liked the special effects that had once been cutting edge. I liked that it was pushing an agenda before the age of political correctness. By the time of TNG--well, I can thank Wil Wheaton for his rather snotty Wesley Crusher in the episode "The Final Mission"--I eventually came to dislike the pushy PC agenda of the show as well as the cruise ship design. The Enterprise-D looked like a space-worthy Caribbean cruise-liner.

As a result of watching TNG and the movies, I got back into watching TOS. To this day it is my favorite of the series, and that's probably due to my background in history. I was excited over the first TNG movie, Star Trek Generations, until I saw it. Since the movie came out years ago, SPOILER ALERT is all you will get, but the movie lost me when they killed Kirk. I was done with the creators of this movie, and I was correct in thinking that because, with the exception of Star Trek: First Contact, the other movies were weak. I was sick of the action around Data and Picard. Ooh, Geordie has new eyes. Riker and Troi? Yep, still taking bubble baths together--and I wish I was making that up.

Imagine my excitement when I heard a new Star Trek movie was being made in 2009, a reboot of TOS! Everything was so secretive, like who was going to make a cameo appearance (Nimoy) and who wasn't (Shatner) because JJ Abrams was directing it. Of course, die-hard Trekkers (I considered myself a Trekkie, which seems to be a less-serious fan) were aghast. Since I never understood the techno-babble and the science, all I required was a good story and a good Doctor McCoy.

And this is what we got. A younger crew, younger even then the characters were when TOS first aired.  And how do we explain away the canon? A rift in the time-space continuum, and they didn't even have to sling themselves around the Sun! And Karl Urban's Dr. McCoy? Yes, please. (He's a doctor, not a physicist.)

The characters are slightly different due to that time rift in the 2009 movie, Starfleet is slightly different, and I find that to be perfectly fine. In fact, this summer's Star Trek: Into Darkness pays the perfect homage to an earlier, classic Trek movie. (Spoilers!)

So, where does Jane Austen come into this? Well, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and the 1995 adaption with Colin Firth is my favorite production. It's perfect in every way, from the language, to the costuming, to Colin Firth in a wet shirt... so I was not too thrilled when I found out Keiera Knightly was going to play Lizzie Bennet. No! She was all wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

I couldn't help but compare it to the 1995 version, which was a mini-series. It's hard to pack that entire book into roughly two hours, but I was appalled when I saw that Bingley was allowed into Jane's sick-room. That would NOT have been tolerated in Jane Austen's time, and I didn't tolerate it, either.

And this is where Trek comes in. My feelings for this inferior Pride and Prejudice is similar to some people's distaste for the Star Trek reboot. I can more easily understand their intransigence at accepting it, much like I have difficulty in accepting how Matthew MacFadyen's wooden Mr. Darcy could fall for a toothpick with hair.

[You can check out Wil Wheaton at his blog, WIL WHEATON dot NET.  I look forward to each of his appearances on The Big Bang Theory and have forgiven him for looking like Wynona Ryder in one of those Tiger Beat magazines from when I was in ninth grade. We all make mistakes. ]