Tuesday, May 30, 2006

TW's Blog

I had a lovely afternoon with Nicki and Anne this afternoon. We talked about stitching, blogs - and how much stitching time we spend reading them - and a whole host of other things.

I mentioned that I had just discovered that Teresa Wentzler has started a blog. Neither of them knew about it, so I figured I'd share the link, both with Anne and Nicki (hi ladies!) and anyone else who doesn't have it and would like it.

Artistic License - Teresa Wentzler's Blog

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Layout - Monkey Swing

Dave's parents were in Auckland for the day yesterday. They had been on a cruise around some of the Pacific Islands and the ship docked here at Auckland. So we picked them up from the quay and got to spend several hours with them before taking them to the airport for their flight home.

We had lunch at a cafe over by the airport that is part of a complex with a butterfly house, childrens' farm, train and playground. We only had time for the food and the playground; the food was good and Marcus had a wonderful time.

He has absolutely no sense of fear and will head for the big kids' equipment if given half a chance. We conned him back onto the smaller climbing fort and slide, but he still managed to prove that a plain old slide is just too basic for him at the advanced age of two and a third.

Butterfly Creek
27th May, 2006
Torn edge from Kim Hill; stitching from Simply Stitching Imperfect Frames and Corners by Christine Nash; everything else from Monkey Doodle Doo by Robin Carlton and Christy Lyle.
Font is Century Gothic.

Layout - We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea

Again for a challenge. This is just a fun one. The words are the title of an Arthur Ransome book in the Swallows and Amazons series. I have to admit I've never read the book, but I just love the sentiment.

The photo was taken at Wenderholm Regional Park just north of Auckland in October 2005.

Layout - A Real Hero

Another Scrapmommies challenge. This one was for Mother's Day and the prompt was "mothers as everyday heroes". Being kind of warped, I went off on a tangent again. I'm really pleased with the result.

The hero phrases are:
Puts bandaids on skinned knees
Knows how to jump in puddles
Can kiss everything better
Mends ripped clothes
Wakes up at the slightest sound
Gives kisses without warning
Insists on hats and sunscreen in summer
Can whip up a fancy dress costume in minutes
Gives the best cuddles
Doesn't mind a bit of mess
Loves finger painting
Watches sports games in the rain
Loves unconditionally
Can help with maths homework
Can sweet talk the mosters under the bed
Gets up in the middle of the night without complaining
Makes hot chocolate on cold days
Will read the same story over and over as if it was the first time
Knows how to soothe a scared teddy
Hasn't had a sleep-in in years
Can turn a saucepan into a musical instrument

The superhero was created with Hero Machine. Background and elements from Bliss by Kelly Shults. Fonts are Sara Elizabeth and Milk and Cereal.

Layout - Children's TV

This was for another challenge over at Scrapmommies. The theme was television and this was what my brain, already scarred by too much kids' TV, came up with.

Font is punch label. I did everything else. All the caps where photographed directly from the TV screen because straight screencaps wouldn't have had a high enough resolution, so they came out pretty well really.

Another band sampler

Here's my addition to the friendship band sampler for another member of my Embroiderer's Guild round robin.

I did the last row. It's a fairly simple stitch called Chessboard Stitch, but I think it looks really striking and I'm very pleased with it.

I've almost decided what I'm going to do for the next sampler I have sitting beside my chair now, calling to me.

First some news - we're moving

Enough things are official now and all the need-to-be-told people have been told, so I can announce that the Dustins will be moving house at the beginning of July.

We've been very happy where we are now and we have a great landlady, but when we decided to take it we didn't know we had a Marcus on the way. It's one house of two down a shared drive with a very steep driveway on a hilly street. It has some grass, but none of it is in a safe location where Marcus can play with minimal supervision. It also has the master bedroom upstairs and the other bedrooms downstairs, which isn't perfect either for a small child.

The new house has a fenced back yard that's close to flat by Auckland standards. All the bedrooms are on the same floor, with what will be Marcus' room right next door to ours. It has a workshop for Dave and a lock up garage as well as a big living area. It may or may not have a pool, depending on what decisions are made about repairing it or filling it in. It's also in a much flatter area that where we are now.

It's one of those opportunities you have to take when they arise, so that's exactly what we're doing.

More catching up

I have such great intentions to keep up with this regularly and then it all gets away from me. I have the idea of what I want to write in my head, but somehow the job of actually doing it feels so enormous that I put it off instead.

I have a bunch of layouts to add - mostly the ones I didn't get done before, but I've also got a couple of new ones.

I decided to do two week's stitching on Dawn Star (atlhough I haven't done anything for the last four or five days) so today is the last day for that and I'll take a photo soon.

I have a picture of my band on another of the Embroiderer's Guild friendship band sampler.

I also have at least one book review, but that's stuck on my PDA right now and I need to figure out how to get it off as my autosynch is working like it is supposed to.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I had stitching friends around today - they come most Thursday afternoons and are part of the reason I'm still vaguely sane. I showed Leigh my miscounted new project and she offered to pull out the stitching for me. She says she doesn't mind unpicking it it isn't her stitching. Sounds kind of crazy to me, but I'm not going to complain. So I have my fabric back again ready to begin over. Frustrating though that is, I think it's the best solution. I'll make sure I put in guide threads this time.

I'm actually getting some stitching done this week, which is very exciting. I'm working on Dawn Star and I now have a dodecahedron (or some other multi-sided three-dimensional polygon). I was really worried the shape wasn't going to show up against the background, but it really looks rather neat. I'll have a picture of my progress at the beginning of next week.

I still have a couple more layouts to upload as well as my band on a canvas work RR. I'll try to do them as soon as I can, but I make no promises.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Layout - M is for Marcus

Another challenge, this one was for the letter M.

M is for Marcus
Mirror Baby
Mummy’s Boy
Monster Feet

Background from Windswept by Kim Liddiard; Circles papers from Backyard Explorer by Lynn Grieveson (Scrapbook Elements); Stitching from Simply Imperfect Frames and Corners by Christine Nash; Letters from True North by Anna Benjamin/Paper Moons; Font is Black Jack.

Layout - Frog Prince

I've known I was going to scrap at least once, if not several times, some of the "frog boy" photos we have of Marcus. When I saw this kit, I bought it pretty much on the spot (it helped that it was on special) to use later for just this.

Scrapmommies were having a scraplift challenge (where you make a layout of your own, copying the look of someone else's layout). Mine quickly turned into something individual, so the scraplift part was a bust, but I'm really pleased with the result.

Because you were attached to so many monitors
it was safe for you to sleep on your stomach in your incubator
You liked to tuck your legs up under your tummy
like a little frog so Daddy and I called you our frog boy
You were so tiny and so very precious

Everything is from Frog Prince by Mirranda Reinhardt (www.yesterday-remembered.com). Fonts are Aqualine, Corabael and Helena.

Layout - Kangaroo Care

This is another challenge from Scrapmommies. The idea was to do a picture of you and your child. This is the first time I've actually gone back through my livejournal and used an original journal entry from the day of the photo. This page will go in Marcus' album when I actually do it. So one page down and who knows how many to go.

Journaling is directly from my Livejournal of 3rd February, 2004
Wow, amazing!I got to hold my little boy today. It was my first cuddle and words fail me when I try to describe it.
He was still attached to all his monitors and wires, but he was able to come off the CPAP (which helps with his breathing) for a while which meant I could sit beside the incubator with him cuddled on my chest.
They call it "kangaroo care", where he lies on my chest with as much skin to skin contact as possible and then gets wrapped up so he's all warm and snug.
He rested happily, and even dozed off to sleep.

Credits ~
Beads from Butterfly Kisses by Jeanelle Paige (Sweet Digi Creations); Background paper from Green Elephant by Joana Carvalho; Journalling Paper from Note This by Gina Miller (Scrapbook-Bytes); Tuesday flower from Bloom of the Week Club by Amanda Lacey for www.sweetshoppedesigns.com; Flower stamp from Aqua Dreams by Gina Cabrera for www.DigitalDesignEssentials.com; Photo framing from Edges Pack by Lauren Bavin; Word art and ribbon from Baby Baby! Preemies by Michelle Raine; font is Jayne

Layout - The Road Goes Ever On

I recently discovered a scrapping site called "Scrapmommies". Since I'm still mostly obsessed with doing layouts of Marcus, this has turned out to be a great site. They runs heaps of challenges every two weeks and these keep creeping inside my brain and giving me good ideas. I had this photo from going down to Palmerston North at Easter and thought I knew what I was going to do with it. Instead, it turned out like this thanks to a sketch challenge and I like it much better this way.

13th April, 2006
It's a long way from Auckland to Plamerston North, especially when you're only two. We went to stay with your grandparents for Easter and you couldn't stay awake for the whole trip, no matter how hard you tried. You saw lots of interesting things on the way, but you fell asleep in your car seat for some of the time as well. Don't worry, I went to sleep too and poor Daddy had to stay awake and drive while we were sleeping.

Background from Construction by Melany Violette, Road from Vroom Vroom Beep Beep by Melany Violette; Stamp, frame and brad from Little Prince by Lori Barnhurst and Scrapsy Daisy; Journaling Paper from Journaling Paper Biggie by Valerie Randall; Fonts are A Little Pot, Golden Script and Da Vinci Forward

Dark Demon

I can't help myself. I keep going back to Christine Feehan's Carpathian books, even though some of the recent ones have been less than stellar. (I gave the previous one 6/10 and wasn't exactly bowled over by it.) I still like the basic premise and I like the way she's been developing an overall story arc lately. I like the addition of the wizards and now there are dragons as well, which always gives a story or series extra points in my book. So I read the bad ones, enjoy the good parts of those and keep hoping the next one will be good.

I had high hopes for Dark Demon. More for the heroine - we met Natalya briefly in Dark Destiny where it was clearly indicated that Vikirnoff would be her lifemate - than the hero, who seemed to be a typically over-alpha male such as Feehan writes regularly and really needs to tone down. Happily, she did. Vikirnoff had some nice, steady character development as he discovered that he hadn't really had a clue when he's imagined the perfect lifemate and that Natalya is exactly what he both wants and needs. Natalya too moved steadily from seeing him as an enemy to loving him. She also had a good and sensible reason for disliking and distrusting him at first, that dissolved as she got to know him. Too often, Feehan's heroines move from "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you" to "I love you" over the course of about a page and without any truly sensible reason for doing so beside the fact the author deems it time. Dark Demon escaped this common problem and was a much better and stronger book for it.

Natalya is part Carpathian, part mage, part tiger - the granddaughter of a Carpathian woman stolen away from her lifemate by a dark wizard to bear his children and thereby make him immortal. She has been indoctrinated since childhood to hate the Carpathians, seeing hunters and vampires as the same kind of evil. She has come to the Carpathian mountains under a compulsion she doesn't understand, aware she is followed and hunted all the way. Virkinoff is one of those following her, determined to find her for reasons he doesn't fully understand himself since seeing her picture back in his brother's book, Dark Destiny. Their meeting shows him she is his lifemate - something she's not convinced about - and from there the story takes off, mixing romance, vampires, dark pasts, Carpathian history and a whole lot of potential disaster. While the immediate problems are solved within this book, there's clearly still evil out there with plans against all the Carpathians and especially the prince.

We're clearly building towards a major confrontation here, which may or may not take place in the upcoming reunion book Dark Celebration. Like I said, I can't help myself I keep reading the books and hoping each time I'll get a good one rather than the opposite. I hope Feehan can stay with the tone and set up she produced in this book. It was a good self-contained story and a good step along the overal story arc as well. Keep it up, Christine. Please don't backslide again.

Oh, and I loved the revelation of previously unknown elements to the long time alliance between Mikhail's family and Gregori's family.

Stitching Dilemma

I started a new cross stitch project this week. It's a gift, so I'm not going to show a picture (sorry but you know how that goes) but I have a problem. I totally miscounted when I started stitching. I'm going to have about 5 inches of spare fabric at the bottom and only an inch at the top.

Now I don't know what to do. Considering that stitching tends to go very slowly for me this days, part of me wants to keep on going and hope. However, the perfectionist in me knows it may well drive me nuts and keep me worrying as I go along. I've only done about three days' worth of stitching so if I'm going to restart, this is the point to do it.

I'm stitching it on 32-count Glacier Lugana from Countrystitch. I had a full fat quarter and I only needed half that, so I have a whole second piece of fabric available if I do decide to start again.

That'll teach me to be lazy and skip putting in centre guide threads. Clearly I still need them!

Oh no, not again

Here we go, my next spate of "catch up" posts. There should be a book review, some layouts and a couple of stitching posts. Sit back and try not to be too bored.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Latest Layout - Little Yellow Digger

Journaling ~
20th April, 2006
A little yellow digger came to our house today, to dig a trench for the new stormwater pipes. You watched in fascination as it rolled carefully down the drive, then settled by the window in the sunroom to watch the digging. You are such a little boy - you love all sorts of machinery and vehicles and you were very lucky to have a digger come to visit you.

Credits ~
Letters from Ronnie’s Antique Typewriter Alpha by Ronnie McCray; Background from Boys and Toys by Melany Violette; Truck sticker, Caution ribbon and decorative plate from Construction Zone by Melany Violette; Road ribbon from Vroom Vroom Beep Beep by Melany Violette; Postcard from Journalling Paper Biggie by Valerie Randall; Stamp edge from Stamp Templates by Anna Aspnes; Date Stamp from Digital Date Stamps Volume 2 by Katie Pertiet; Metallic brads from Sand and Sea by Melany Violette; Fonts are Civilian and Dear Joe; I can’t remember where the staples came from – sorry

You can see why I needed some time to get all the credits together. The "real" layout, which I'll be getting printed, has our address on the postcard where the two blank lines are so that it really does look like a postcard to Marcus, but I'm not putting that out on the Internet, so I've smudged out the details. I looks much more balanced in reality as a result.

Defender of the Kingdom

I didn't feel up to stitching until Friday this week, so I didn't get a huge amount done on Defender of the Kingdom, but I'm still very happy with my progress. It was all filling in with navy blue and now it's looking a lot less messy than it did when I started.

(I'm adding larger versions now, so click on the image - I'll stop telling you about it soon so get into the habit)

I'm very tired (finally figured out it's because Marcus won't take a daytime nap on the days he's home, so I've lost four days' rest a week) so everything is going very slowly.

I've also got a new layout done that I'm very pleased with, but I pulled elements from all over the place and I still have to do all the credits. My brain doesn't feel up to it right now and I can't post it online until that's done, so it'll have a wait a bit.

Friday, May 05, 2006

So I still have issues

I learned something interesting today.

I still have issues over Marcus' birth and early days. I discovered this in an interesting way.

I've jumped right onto the digital scrapbooking bandwagon and I've been spending a lot of time on the various sites, forums, blogs etc. One of them, digiscrappin.biz, is holding an ultimate scrapbooking challenge. Apparently about 300 or more people are signed up for the first round and they will gradually be whittled down to a winner. I've been keeping an eye on all the entries being posted for the first week (here if you want to look) and there are a lot of layouts featuring people's children.

This isn't surprising - I started doing this myself to do layouts of my child - but I'm finding the various newborn baby ones hard to take. I'm not sure if I'm jealous - yeah, okay, I'm jealous. In fact, to a degree they make me cross, although not with the people involved. With fate maybe? Or wondering if people know how lucky they are? Or something.

Here are these people and their cute, chubby, newborn children going on about how wonderful it was. (*)

I don't have that. I will never scrap "cute" baby pictures in the same way these people can. My cute boy is tiny and skinny and covered in tubes. Sure, he was still cute in his own way, but if I was to place a layout of my own beside these people's, mine would stand out as different.

There are plenty of words I could use to describe Marcus' birth - amazing, terrifying, unbelievable - but wonderful and the words like that don't go on the list. And sitting here and typing this I could easily cry about it. I can feel the tears building up.

Then I feel like I'm being totally ungrateful.

My son is a miracle. All children are miracles, but mine got in a few extra degrees of miracle. I can hear him now in the kitchen doing something I should go and check on, but I really don't want to know what mischief he's up to now. How can I not be grateful for that?

But part of me is still grieving for the things I missed out on. I wonder if part of me always will.

(*) If you should happen to be one of those people - your layouts are beautiful, and I do not mean to demean your or your experiences in any way. It's just that seeing evidence of them has brought up issues of my own I didn't know I still had.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What am I going to do with this?

Today has been a really, really hard day.

At one point, I sat there, thinking about retail therapy. I realised I couldn't think of anything to buy that wouldn't stress me out more.

Food would be bad because I'm trying to eat well and I would have chosen chocolate.
Books would be bad because I already have so many lined up to read that more would only add to the stress.
Stitching stuff would be bad for the same reasons as books.
Clothes would be bad because I absolutely hate clothes shopping.
Jewellery would be bad because I never remember to wear it.

After that I ran out of ideas.

So I went and bought myself a digital scrapbooking kit that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it, but I couldn't think of what I could possibly do with it.

Ronnie's The Mad Scientist

Technically, I guess I'm not even a scientist any more, but I will always at heart consider myself one. I think like a scientist still and I see the world like a scientist.

I love this kit. Still don't know what I'm going to do with it though.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Latest Layout - Granny's Gumboots

What else can you do with Granny's gumboots except try them on?

I set myself the challenge of doing something with just one photo and several papers like I've seen other people do. So far I've really only used a single paper and added photos and elements on top. I was going for no elements at all, but the little flower was perfect and finished everything off nicely.

Everything is from Gracie's Garden - Forget-Me-Nots by Amy Knepper of Scrapdish.