Friday, May 30, 2008

May Goals Assessment

It is time to assess my progress on May's goals. I have always had a problem with overestimating my ability to get things done but I am trying to get a handle on setting manageable and achievable goals. I am getting better at it but haven't quite mastered the skill.

--finish the Sue Hillis' Charmed Santa #3 [Noah's Ark] - a left over goal from April and currently more than 2/3rds complete. Okay, managed to achieve this one.
--start and complete Sue Hillis' Charmed Santa #4 [stitchery theme]. Finished 5/24/08.
--start Sue Hillis' Pair Tree. Started 5/25/08. Made considerable progress: the tree and pot are stitched as well as 22 of the stockings and/or mittens. That leaves just 3 more stockings and/or mittens to stitch as well as the backstitching and outlining and the charms to take care of. Probably another 6 hours of stitching.
--frog error from Crabby All Year April block and complete April & May blocks. This will be carried forward to June.
--complete the pocket from the Mystic stitcher's retreat - goal that has been hanging fire since November 2007. Another goal carried forward to June.--complete the M-Designs Name Tree for Sean - another goal that has been on the list for more than a little while Yet another goal carried forward to June.
--do some more sewing finishes: the LHN pillows, 5 Christmas ornaments, and stitch up the crochet needle case using the completed 2006 Hershey CATS samplers. Nada.
--blog every other day. Not quite, but getting closer.
--master Photobucket and send picture of Pine Glen ornament in to their online door prize competition. Obviously, not yet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Secret Sisters are phenomenal

Yes they are. Mine just sent me three great charts: Workbasket's Quaker Cow/Sheep, Prairie Schooler's A Farmer's Almanac & Blackbird Designs America the Beautiful, a lovely scarlet handled embroidery scissor with a fob some wonderful WDW threads [regular and perle cottons], two little wooden hoops [great for Christmas ornament finishes], some note cards, a memo pad and a reveal card with two skeins of Dragon's Blood silk. I will finally get my own package to my own secret sister in this exchange in the mail today. .. I have been carrying it around for a week but I keep adding stuff to it ... I think it is finally ready to go.
I will probably send my reveal card to Sharon next week since I made up a small blackwork mermaid [one of her favorite subjects] suitable for including in a card ... all I have to do is mount it on a relatively stiff backing bvefore inserting it in the card.
I have also been working away at the SH Pair Tree: the count is now up to 7 stockings/mittens stitched and 19 to go. What with the backstitching/outlining and the remaining cross-stitching I figure I have roughly 25 hours of stitching left to do on this piece. Then, I'll take a break from Sue Hillis for a while though I do have her First Steps to do for Liam in time for his birthday or whenever he actually does take his first steps, whichever comes first.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Time to relax, to kick back and do a moderate amount of catching up with housework. But best of all, time to stitch.

Finished the last of my Sue Hillis' Santas the yesterday and started on the Sue Hillis Pair Tree this morning. What with stitching on and off throughout the day, I have the "tree", the pot, three stockings and one mitten done. What with all the fussy color changes, I estimate that each stocking and each mitten will take nearly an hour to stitch. By my calculations, that's another 22 hours of stitching before completing this chart. When I got bored with stitching on this piece, I turned to a small blackwork mermaid that I will use to make some sort of token [fob, needlebook, pin] to enclose in my "reveal" package to my secret sister. The mermaid is done ... now all I have to decide is which "finish" I wish to use.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Nearly there

Didn't get as much stitching done yesterday as planned ... though I did finish all the cross-stitching of the Santa figure and began the backstitching/outlining. This morning I stitched for an hour and half before getting ready for work and completed all the DMC 3371 backstitching in the Santa figure. Now all that remains to stitch: backstitching in face, hands and hair; the button motif in the upper right corner; and the long-stitched pine boughs in both upper corners. It shall be finished today or tomorrow and then on to the Crabby All Year project for the holiday weekend. I also hope to find tinme to do some sewing finishes during the holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ah! A day off again

I am so looking forward to next year ... when my days off will become Friday and Sunday instead of Thursday, half a day Saturday and half a day Sunday ... working for the Catholic Church wreaks havoc with sensible scheduling. The general effect of my current schedule is that I feel like I only have one real day off a week and I am fairly beserk by the time it rolls around each week. The other built in advantage of next year's Friday/Sunday schedule is that anytime we have a Monday holiday, I'll have a mini-vacation of four full days since we don't schedule classes on the Saturdays within holiday weekends. Oh, happy days.
As for today, I am looking forward to getting as much stitching as possible done on my last Sue Hillis' Santa - the end is actually in sight with just the stitchery basket's contents, the button in the upper left corner and Santa's head to stitch, the upper third of the design to backstitch/outline and the pine boughs in the upper corners to long stitch. Then it will be on to the Crabby All Year project during the holiday weekend ... if I can catch myself up to May by frogging back to my mistake in the April box and then stitching the April & May boxes, I shall be a happy camper. Of course, there is housework, yardwork and shopping to fit into the weekend as well ... so, we shall see what we shall see.
In any case, at least one of my May goals is coming closer to fruition ... I am blogging more frequently ... not yet up to the every other day or inserting pictures standard ... but maybe I can tackle Photobucket arcane processes and learn how to navigate that area this weekend as well. One can hope, at least.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finding my stride again

I feel like I have regained my equilibrium ... at least as far as stitching is concerned. I made very satisfactory progress on the Sue Hillis' 4th Annual Charmed Santa this past weekend. All the spools, the pin cushion, the background half stitches, the cat and the stitching stand are cross stitched. In addition, I have backstitched/outlined all the cross-stitched areas that are complete. And I have made a good start on the border. My plan today is to finish the bottom and side borders and the little ball of wool in the lower right hand corner. Then all that needs to be done will be Santa's hands and head, the basket filled with stitching stuff and the top border. So I figure I am 3/5ths of the way done with this chart ... not bad when you consider that I only started it May 9th and have been very busy with work these past ten days. As to my other May goals, we shall see! If I spend a good bit of my Memorial Day holiday relaxing with my stitching, it may just all come together. I do have some housework and gardening to catch up on but there should be time enough for stitching as well.
On the professional front, all the sacraments are done for the year. I have sketched out a working model of my calendar for next year's program, I have begun registration for the coming school year [spent 5 1/2 hours taking walk-in registrations this past Saturday]. Tonight the 7th graders will take their 4th quarter exams and I should have all 75 of them graded by Wednesday. Tuesday night I have my last catechist meeting of the year and pretty much have everything ready for that as well - the bonus there being that the Msgr. over-ordered refreshments for this Sunday's reception and I get the leftovers for my meeting. I do have some regional and diocesan tasks to finish up but there's always next week. Pacing is everything. I'll be busy every minute but at least I no longer feel like I am running a losing race. Indeed, I can actually find and read my desk blotter calendar these days ... just a few days ago I would have needed a major excavation just to uncover it.
On the homefront, I'll need to get my car inspected tomorrow morning and I still have the two front rooms to organize [in other words, clean up all the husbandly pack-rat's debris] before I can bring contractors in to give me estimates as well as catching up on ordinary tasks like laundry, vacuuming, refrigerator & oven cleaning, polishing and dusting ... all of which have been neglected during the past few weeks madness. Then there is the yard & garden work. Oh well, maybe I am not as caught up as I thought but still, I no longer feel like it is all hopeless. Things are getting done and visible progress is being made.
It is nice to see some progress at last ... at work, at home and with stitching.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Frazzled and frustrated

Today, my one day off this week, has been devoted to laundry and stitching. I have continued my work on the Sue Hillis 4th Annual Charmed Santa, completing the stitchery frame, the two darkest shades in Santa's pajama bottoms and some of the inner border. My goal for the rest of the day is to finish both borders and the pajama bottoms. But since I still need to shop and vacuum, we'll have to see just how far I get. I had thought my May goals were reasonable but the pressures at work are mounting ... the sacraments are done but I have registration for next year, end term exams and progress reports, and staff recruitment to deal with this month ... not to mention two diocesan meetings and one regional meeting and the usual diocesan paperwork to deal with. Then there is the last catechist meeting of the year and the end of year catechist dinner and the diocesan Communion breakfast and the regional luncheon. All very time consuming. The summer months will be spent reorganizing the building as a catechetical center now that the school is closing its doors. Then there is what I shall call the Monsignor Factor. Things are getting so bad that the remaining staff fantasizes about quitting en masse and at the very same moment ... just to see how the Monsignor will deal with the workload all by himself. One wonders if he would make the same unreasonable demands on his own time as he does on ours, whether he would insist that he himself accomodate bullying parishioners as we are expected to do, and would his defintion of his own job description vary from minute to minute with each passing whim but always result in putting himself in the wrong as is the cases with our rather fluid job descriptions.
Ah, well, at least stitching relaxes and soothes the frazzled psyche ... I simply wish I had more time to devote to it ... Lord knows, I need it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Plugging along

Again, the pressures of work have kept me from accomplishing a great deal in the way of stitchery but I have managed to finish the "sampler" within the Sue Hillis 4th Annual Charmed Santa this morning before heading out to work. I also plan to get my Secret Sister exchange in the mail today having selected a Miribilia Mermaid chart, an appropriate Silkweaver linen and a few other goodies for the exchange. I am enjoying the Secret Sister Exchange ... I have received some very nice materials and am satisfied that I am sending quality materials to those assigned to me. It's a win-win situation so far as I am concerned.
I am a bit concerned that I will not manage to meet my May goals since the month is nearly halfway through and I haven't even finished the first item on the list. I really thought I had managed to set some reasonable goals this month. However, I still seem to be overestimating the amount of time I can spend on stitching.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Communion Day

I stitched an hour and a half this morning on the "sampler" within the 4th annual SH Charmed Santa ... while the dress I wore to the two First Communions today went through the wash & dry cycles. I have been preparing children for sacraments for thirteen years now and I can't quite get over the changes I have seen. More children are unchurched for all practical purposes ... oh, their parents send them to religious education classes to keep the grandparents happy or to satisfy their own sense of duty ... but it is clear that many of the children rarely attend Mass ... they have no clue as to how to participate in the liturgy ... or even how to behave during it. But today's second ceremony hit a new low ... the pastor had to actually call the congregation to order after the communion so that Mass could continue ... the adults were talking so loudly that Mass came to a halt. I guess the "main event" that everyone had come to see was done and they all felt free to socialize. The number of cameras used at church was disgraceful. There was no respect for the Mass at all, at all. Why send your children to religious education if you have no intention of practicing the faith yourself or of encouraging them to practice their faith. Superstition??? Ticket-punching ... the "I-must-get-all-my-sacraments" mentality??? Spiritual "insurance"???
Oh well, it's been a demoralizing day ... no energy or interest in anything but napping or reading now that the Communions are over. My husband did take me out to a late lunch after the two ceremonies and the pina colada was soothing but I hadn't the appetite to finish my lunch. He even bought me a Carvel Black Cherry Sundae with chocolate ice cream on the way home ... it's a treat from our dating days of nearly 4 decades ago ... and reserved for those days when either one of us seriously needs a lift ... a symbol of enduring love and support. Okay, so other couples think diamonds and roses and champagne are romantic ... but I rather like our little reminder of young love with all the hope and joy that it implies.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Back in the saddle again

Yesterday was a day off and I used it to return to my stitching routines. I even stitched for two hours this morning before work ... something I haven't done in several weeks as a result of my professional workload. As a result, I made real progress on the 4th of my SH Charmed Santas, completing Santa's pajama jacket and the outer edge of the "sampler" in the floor stand behind which Santa is standing. My only disappointment was that I didn't get to work on any sewing finishes yesterday but maybe in a few days I can work that into the schedule as well. I do have some serious frogging to do on the Crabby All Year piece ... I have been avoiding that ... but if I am to meet my goals for this month, I had best get to it. For the first time in several months, I feel that my monthly goals are reasonable and that I stand a very good chance of meeting them.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Another Sue Hillis Finish

What with First Communion rehearsals added to the regular office hours and class sessions, I haven't done nearly as much stitching as I usually do ... I have been averaging only about 1/2 hour a day this week ... until today, my first day off in 15 days!!! I finished the third Santa in Sue Hillis' charmed series this morning and began the fourth ... and so far as I am concerned, the last, for a very long time ... These Santas are very attractive and not the least bit difficult but I am definitely ready to move on to a different designer, a different level of complexity and a different color way. Though I will very much enjoy making these into flange pillows, I am becoming a little impatient with the sameness. On the other hand, there is a certain satisfaction in progressing through a fairly big "project". Once this Santa is done, I will pick up my TW Autumn Faerie again and put it into a rotation with Crabby All Year and the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway projects from last fall. I do have the Sue Hillis Pair Tree chart close to the top of my "to do" pile ... since I want to make that into a pillow as well, I'll probably add it to the mix fairly soon. I figure, at least it's not another Santa. But speaking of Santas, I did prep and grid the fabric for three of the Prairie Schooler Santa cards. I don't know how soon I'll get to them. They have an entirely different look than the SH Santas but a very similar color way ... lots of DMC 355 and 356.
I also did a bit or ordering this morning from Nordic Needle: a gentle cleanser for antique needlework, some more Piecemaker Tapestry 28 Needles [I truly love these], some John James Petites #28 [great for beading] and the NN Perfect Needle set [just to try], some more huck towels to use in making Christmas gifts and three DMC flosses on which I am running quite low as a result of the above-mentioned Sue Hillis Santas.
I should make a token effort to get some laundry done but after that I am going to try to get the sewing finishes done on a few ornaments I have on hand.
All in all: a very stitch-y day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Nearly done SH Noah's Ark Santa

In spite of a brutal work schedule this week ... only one day off and four late nights ... I have managed to finish stitching the Santa, the top border and half the stitching on the top corner motifs. All I need to finish is the backstitching/outlining of the Santa from the ark up, the corner motifs and the tiny dove with the olive branch. I should be able to finish that when I get home from work tonight. Then, on Monday, I will start work on the last of the Sue Hillis "Charmed" Santas ... the one with the stitcher's stand. It'll be another brutal work week what with First Communion rehearsals, registration mailings and assorted other chores but I hope to get a good start on it. These Sue Hillis Santas are taking me on average a steady two weeks of stitching each. But I'd like to catch up on my Crabby All Year Long SAL as well this month. So, I'll try to put in a little extra time stitching in the mornings before work.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Goals

Didn't quite manage to meet April's goals ... a 10 day bout of acute bronchitis and the attendant meds [serious codeine] made it inadvisable to do much stitching ... unless, of course, I wanted to spend all of May frogging. All I managed was to finish Sue Hillis' Charmed Santas #1 [with Gingerbread Men] and #2 [with birdhouses] and get a good 2/3rds of #3 [with Noah's Ark] done as well as the Pine Glen online show doorprize ornament [stitched but not "finished"].

In keeping with my 2008 Goal to set manageable monthly goals, I resolve to
--finish the Sue Hillis' Charmed Santa #3 [Noah's Ark] - a left over goal from April and currently more than 2/3rds complete
--start and complete Sue Hillis' Charmed Santa #4 [stitchery theme]
--start Sue Hillis' Pair Tree
--frog error from Crabby All Year April block and complete April & May blocks
--complete the pocket from the Mystic stitcher's retreat - goal that has been hanging fire since November 2007
--complete the M-Designs Name Tree for Sean - another goal that has been on the list for more than a little while
--do some more sewing finishes: the LHN pillows, 5 Christmas ornaments, and stitch up the crochet needle case using the completed 2006 Hershey CATS samplers.
--master Photobucket and send picture of Pine Glen ornament in to their online door prize competition

I am hoping this will be more doable. Two of the projects [Santa with Noah's Ark and the Mystic Pocket] are very near completion. The Name Tree ornament is about 1/5 of the way done but it is very fussy work and rather slow going. Simply starting the SH Pair Tree is a pretty open-ended goal ... no pressure to get a lot done. The Crabby All Year piece is amusing, at least it will be again once I have frogged back to the point that I stitched over one thread instead of two, throwing my count all to hell. As to the sewing finishes, if I can just manage to devote one of my Thursdays off entirely to sewing, I should be able to make a very large dent in those projects ... two Thursdays devoted entirely to sewing should complete them ... well, we shall see.

Received Quaker Turtles from the SilverNeedle yesterday ... they are very tempting but I am going to set them aside until I work through the charts in my CURRENT ROTATION binder.