Belle and Boo Windy Day Finished and More

Well, life did get busy as the semester started, but I’m still carving out time for myself here and there for stitching and other self-care activities. I’ve even started exercising again, which is a major accomplishment. I haven’t been active since my diagnosis almost 3 years ago now. Treatment and surgeries and various complications usually meant that anything other than light walking was out of the question. But I’m doing aerobics again and some light weights and a little yoga, and it feels really great to be able to move again.

I also finished the Belle and Boo “Windy Day” cross-stitch project. Woo hoo! Here’s the finished piece:

Belle and Boo Windy Day cross-stitch project

It still needs to be washed and ironed and all that, but the stitching is done, and I love it so much, and I can’t wait to get it framed.

After I finished Belle and Boo, I needed a quick project to work on; something that won’t take me three years to finish. So, I dug through my stash and found this cute Lizzie Kate kit, “Hip Hop,” which is perfect for spring (which is coming soon, I hope; as I write this it is snowing outside…again).

I’m a little annoyed at myself because I stitched the carrot one square too far to the left, so it is touching the basket. There’s supposed to be a space there. I’m waiting until I finish the rest of the stitching before I decide if it bothers me enough to cut/rip it out and re-stitch. Re-stitching it wouldn’t be a big deal, honestly, because it’s such a small pattern, but still…grrr.

Links Roundup

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More Progress on Belle and Boo Windy Day and Links Roundup

I, along with my students, survived the first week of spring semester. Beginning of the semester stress, coupled with an overcommitted schedule this past week, meant that I did not have as much time to stitch as I would have liked, but I did make some progress with Belle and Boo’s “Windy Day.”

Here’s where I am at now:

Belle and Boo Windy Day cross-stitch project

The leaves are all done, and I’ve completed the backstitching around Belle’s boots and her pants. You can see I am working on her mitten and the cuff of her sweater now. That mitten has a crazy amount of backstitching for such a tiny area.

It would be fun if I could complete all but her head by next week. That’s a doable goal, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t make it. I feel like I’d be jinxing myself if I start making promises about how much stitching I’ll be able to do this week.

In other news, I’ve started saving links again to share, so here are a few stitchy, crafty, bookish things I found noteworthy this week:

Finally, I have been telling everyone about this new song and video by Jon Batiste:

Have a great week everyone!

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Belle and Boo Windy Day Progress and Links Roundup

I managed to do a fair amount of stitching this past week which makes me happy because I feel like I’m getting back into the groove of stitching as a habit again. I lost my desire–and even ability, during some stretches–to stitch for a couple years, so stitching again makes me happy because it feels like a return to normalcy. And, couldn’t we all use a bit of normalcy in our lives right now?

Spring semester starts this week, so I hope I don’t get so busy that my hobbies don’t languish again until summer. Keeping my fingers crossed for now.

But, I made some real progress on the Belle and Boo “Windy Day” cross-stitch pattern. Pardon all the fold marks in the fabric. You can see how I abuse my projects while stitching, lol.

Belle and Boo Windy Day stitching progress

I finished Boo the rabbit, including all the backstitching. Then I started on the leaves blowing in front of the figures. I will likely finish those off, including backstitching, and then finish Belle last. Most of the backstitch details in the piece are in Belle’s hat and hair, so I may start with her boots and work my way up, leaving the most difficult bits for last.

I’m excited because I started this project 2 1/2 years ago, and the end is finally in sight!

Links Roundup

I haven’t done a links roundup in a long time, so here are a few things I found interesting recently:

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January 2021 WIPs

I have two cross-stitch projects in progress that I would like to finish this year. The first is an Autumn Belle and Boo pattern that originally appeared in the Christmas 2012 issue of Cross-Stitcher magazine.

Here is what it will look like when finished:

If you can’t get the back issue of the magazine, you can buy the pattern as a PDF download on the Belle and Boo site: Windy Day Cross Stitch Pattern.

Here is my current progress:

Belle and Boo Windy Day Cross-Stitch project progress

So, you can see I’ve getting close to finishing the full stitching. Then I’ll just have lots of back stitching to do.

This is the third Belle and Boo project I’ve worked on. I really love these characters. The last one I completed a few years ago and shared the finished piece in this post.

The second project is a wedding sampler. I purchased this pattern not long after I got married and then never started it. I finally kitted it up last year and started with the idea that I would finish it for our tenth anniversary (!). Yeah…that didn’t happen either…

The pattern is “Together” by Imaginating. This is what it will look like when completed:

And, here is my progress so far:

I’ve completed about two thirds of the full stitches? Maybe a little more than that? But, there will be even more back stitching to complete in this project than in the Belle and Boo. Sigh. Backstitching is not my favorite thing to do, and yet I seem to be drawn to projects with lots of fine backstitched details…Maybe I will finish it in time for our 11th anniversary in October…

I’m not setting any other stitching goals for now, although I’d like to work on some smaller, quicker projects in addition to these bigger projects.

Do you have any stitching resolutions for this year?

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Creative Projects in Review

As we begin a new year, here’s a look back at creative projects I’ve completed over the past year (and beyond). Seeing what I’ve accomplished gives me hope and inspiration for completing more projects in the future. I will post a WIP update and goals and plans for 2021 in another post.

The award for oldest project completed goes to “Fear Not” by Little House Needleworks:

I finished this piece in 2018, but never shared the final project here. I started stitching this shortly after my cancer diagnosis and found some comfort in the fact that the pattern was inspired by the designer’s own cancer journey.

Second, is this little “Christmas Birdhouse” ornament by Country Cottage Needleworks:

Sorry for the blurry photo. It’s a really cute pattern, and it’s a quick project. I have not yet turned it into an actual ornament, but maybe it will hang on the Christmas tree next year.

Next up is this beautiful “Winter’s Night” counted canvas project by From Nancy’s Needle.

I love counted canvas needlework. This project was so much fun to stitch. I love all the specialty threads it uses. The photo doesn’t quite capture it, but it is very sparkly in person. This is the third or fourth design by From Nancy’s Needle that I’ve done. The kits from her website are great (link in image caption).

In addition to a little stitching, I also took a couple online classes through the Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. The center started offering online classes because of the pandemic, and I could not have been more grateful. I hope they continue to offer some classes online in the future.

In the fall, I took an Understanding Color class that used oil pastels. Although I learned a lot about color and color theory, I didn’t quite master the use of oil pastels during the class. I struggled with layering colors without muddying things up and getting enough coverage. Here is one project example from the class:

We were copying “Sahurs Meadows in Morning Sun” by Alfred Sisley. You can see the original here.

I got the placement of things mostly right, but you can see how I struggled to build up enough layers of color. But, it was a good class and a good learning experience.

Finally, I took a Sewing with Commercial Patterns workshop through Lillstreet because I have always wanted to sew my own clothes–or at least some of them. The workshop helped me gain the confidence to sew my first pair of pants! Here I am modeling them:

They are a wide-leg style with an elastic waistband, and I used a chambray fabric I bought online from Mood Fabrics in New York. The pattern was Simplicity 8299. This was a huge accomplishment for me, and I’m looking forward to my next sewing project…

So, that’s it for 2020! I’ll post some WIPs and plans for 2021 soon!

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What I’m Reading — August 2020

I like to share what books I finished last month and what I’m reading now. I also love to hear what others are reading. Share your own book recommendations in the comments or friend me on Goodreads!

Finished in July

I read several novels in July, none of which I loved. So, it was a disappointing month, book-wise. I thought I wanted some fluffy, non-challenging stories, but not all fluff is appealing to me.

Here are a few titles worth mentioning:

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. This steampunk/alternate history/fantasy series starts off with a strong premise: Imagine the Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, but instead grew into a global power that controlled all access to information. This book was fun, fast-paced, and original. But…

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine. Unfortunately, this second book in the series fell flat for me. The characters did a lot of running around, but nobody was getting anywhere. I finally lost interest and had to put the novel down even though I was only 50 pages from the end. I doubt I will pick up the third title in this series.

Gone with the Whisker by Laurie Cass. This is book 8 in a cosy mystery series about bookmobile librarian Minnie Hamilton and her cat, Eddie. Although I have enjoyed the other books in the series, the appearance of Minnie’s whiny teenaged niece, Katrina, threatened to sink this novel. But, I most likely will pick up book 9 because the residents of Chilson, Michigan have grown on me.

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber. This is the first in the wildly popular Blossom Street series by Macomber. She is such a popular novelist that I have been wanting to read one of her books for a long time. In this story, Lydia Hoffman opens a yarn shop on the titular street located in Seattle. And, it tells the stories of the eclectic group of women who sign up for her first knitting class. I finished it, but I did not love it.

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider. This collection of illustrations about the creative life was easily the best book I read in July. I have enjoyed Snider’s Incidental Comics for many years, and this collection did not disappoint. I plan to pick up his most recent collection, I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf, soon.

Reading Now

The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein. New age self-help guide. Although the advice is overly simplistic at times, the subtitle — “transform fear into faith” — describes the kind of comfort reading I’ve been needing in these pandemic times.


Links in this post go to The Book Cellar, one of my favorite Chicago bookstores. Indie bookshops have been hit hard by the pandemic closures this year. Try to support your favorite indie shops.

What are you reading right now? I’d love to get your recommendations in the comments!

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Survivor

In April 2018 I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I was a few weeks shy of my forty-third birthday. For a while I thought I could continue to live my life and post here as if nothing unusual was happening.

I made it through the initial doctor visits. I went through all the scans–the CT scan, the MRI, the PET scan–all those lovely machines they put you in so they can tell you how bad the situation is.

I somehow convinced myself that I was going to be one of those cancer patients you hear about who just sort of breeze through treatment and never take a day off and everything is fine, just fine, thanks.

But, that’s not what happened. Three weeks into radiation and oral chemo, and I was in tears from the pain every night. By the end of radiation and chemo, I thought I had experienced the worst. Then I had surgery.

The great news was that the tumor was gone. There was no evidence of cancer in the parts they removed or the lymph nodes they tested. Thank you, God!

But, I ended up spending nearly six weeks in hospital after my surgery because my system did not want to get started again. “You have an ileus,” the doctors unhelpfully explained. I couldn’t eat. I lost weight.

After being discharged and then back to the ER and discharged again and back to the ER over and over, they put me on TPN which meant I was getting liquid nutrition through a tube going into my arm. I had to carry a backpack with a giant bag of liquid in it around with me everywhere. It was both a literal and emotional weight on my shoulders. Our refrigerator was full of these bags. They were delivered once a week by a home health service. I had a nurse who visited the house, too.

I also had a temporary ostomy that was giving me a lot of trouble. The ostomy was placed to allow my body to heal from both surgery and the radiation. But, I was getting constant blockages and having a difficult time staying hydrated. Most of my ER visits were for blockages or dehydration and low potassium.

I got off of TPN in time to start chemotherapy. The real chemo. The hard chemo. I had the port placed. I threw up during the very first session.

My oncologist wanted me to do the full chemo treatment because of my original diagnosis. Even though the tumor was gone by surgery, chemo was the insurance policy to ensure the best long-term outcome. We didn’t want it coming back.

But if I thought radiation and then surgery were the hardest things I had ever done, they were nothing compared to chemo. I lost my appetite. I experienced nausea. I was bone weary all of the time. I couldn’t concentrate. I had a tingling numbness in my hands and feet. My hair thinned. I lost more weight.

The side effects took months to wear off. I finished treatment in May 2019, and it was around Thanksgiving that I noticed that the pins and needles feeling in my feet was finally gone.

In January 2020 I finally had the surgery to reverse my temporary ostomy.

Post-reversal surgery has come with its own set of challenges as my body adjusts to its “new normal.” I no longer have all the parts I did before. I am finding new ways to adapt.

But, I am eating again. I am at a healthy weight again. I have energy again. I am feeling more like myself again.

I am so grateful for my family and friends and co-workers and everyone who sent a card or cooked a meal or visited me in the hospital or called to say hello or took me to an appointment over the past two years. And, there were so, so many who did. Too many to name.

So, here I am. I’ve made it through to the other side of my cancer story, and I’ve lived to tell the tale. My life will never be the same. There’s no going back to the “old me.” But, I am a survivor now.

And, hey, I’ve started stitching again, too! If you’ve made it this far, expect some stitching posts again…

Happy to be back! :)

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WIP Update and Friday Finds for 6/29/18

I did not do a lot of stitching this week, but here is my progress on the cross-stitch pattern “Fear Not” by Little House Needleworks:

fear-not-lhn-progress

If you compare it to last week’s post, you’ll see that I finished stitching the little fence that runs along the bottom of the grassy hill. Next I plan to tackle the rest of the border on the right and then start stitching the rest of the verse which appears in the bottom half of the project.

Friday Finds

And, here are a few things I thought were worth sharing this week:

Video of the Week

Yes, you’ve probably already watched this, but if not, it is a must-see. Grab some tissues before pressing play. Also, Fr. James Martin has some great thoughts about the whole encounter, too.

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Current WIP, Friday Finds, and More!

The spring semester ended on May 12 with final grades due May 15. Teaching two sections of Art Appreciation while also working a full-time librarian job really kicked my butt, but I’m so glad I did it. I LOVED teaching the class, and I can’t wait to do it again in the fall. I am also teaching Art History I in the fall, and I have already put a draft of my syllabus together and have started working on course materials for that class.

I have so many ideas about what to do! I am trying to incorporate active learning activities into the course, which is completely different from the way I learned art history in college, which was the then-typical “art in the dark” lecture classes. But, now I am developing in-class discussions, writing assignments, group activities, and more. So, I am keeping busy this summer.

But, I am also making sure I get plenty of downtime, and I have been stitching this “Fear Not” pattern from Little House Needleworks:

15-2363

I was gifted this pattern a year or so ago along with all of the variegated threads by a very kind lady I met through Instagram.

Here is my progress so far:

Fear Not cross-stitch pattern by Little House Needleworks

It has been a nice, low-stress stitch. I’ve been working on it while I binge-watch Supernatural on Netflix. I’ve started with the first season. We’ll see how far I get.

I haven’t done a “Friday Finds” in a awhile, so here are a few things worth sharing this week:

 

Video of the Week

This brought a smile to my face.

 

Have a great weekend, and happy stitching!

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Friday Finds–04/13/18

Feeling under the weather today. Stayed home from work and spent half the day napping. Last night I put together the final PDF of my first new cross-stitch pattern in many months. It’s the first of a series, and I can’t wait to share it.

Spring is coming slowly. Today was warm, but now the temperature is dropping, the rain is moving in, and parts of the Chicago area may see snow this weekend, although it likely won’t stick. In the meantime, the daylilies are starting to come up, but the tulips have been re-frozen so many times, I don’t know if we’ll see any flowers.

But, let’s get down to business. Friday Finds is my weekly round-up of book, art, embroidery, and textile news from around the web.

friday-finds-2017-template

Here are this week’s links:

 

Video of the Week

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We need to support the arts in our schools.

 

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