Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where Does A Year Go?











Hello there,
My oh my... where does a year go?

I can hardly believe it's been a year since my last post, how is this possible? Where have I been and what have I been doing? Well, quite a lot actually. A few days after my last post, I turned 40 years old young, and boy, what a year it's been. Forty seemed to be a magical number, a big number, and big changes.

A couple of months after my birthday, I saw my gynecologist and started the ball rolling for the next big change in my life, hysterectomy. I had a total hysterectomy two weeks before Christmas. Although everything is fine now and I'm quite recovered, the surgery didn't go as planned. I had hoped for the minimally invasive, robotic, partial hysterectomy that would allow me to keep my ovaries, and have me back on my feet in a couple of days, but it was not to be. I ended up being off of work and recovering for 8 weeks and I have another nice big scar across my abdomen to add to my collection. Forty may seem young for total hysterectomy, and perhaps it is, but my cycles, which have always been unpredictable in arrival, strength and length were getting worse and worse. It was time. As it turns out, probably exactly the right time as my doctor explained to me later, I had stage IV endometriosis, the worst she'd ever seen. I have pictures! Believe me, you don't want to see them.  Abdominal surgery... not for sissies. This is an experience that I hope never, ever, ever (EVER!) to repeat again, twice was more than enough.

One week after my surgery, a very good thing happened, we closed escrow on our very own little cabin in the woods! It's old, it's small, everything needs to be replaced and I could not love it more. We scrimped and saved and worked at buying our cabin, mostly in secret, for months & months. T'was was a test of patience to be sure! We've spent nearly every weekend there since I was able to be up and walk around. A place to run away, to disconnect (and boy have I!) and reconnect. It is wonderful and I hope to share more about it soon. So many projects!

When I returned to work from my surgery I knew I needed to make some physical changes so that I could better enjoy our time in the mountains. I'm so drawn to nature, I always have been but boy, I was I out of shape and the surgery sure didn't help. Hiking?? More like sucking wind. I had work to do, and I'm still doing it, better and better all the time. I've made some big changes over the last few month and I'm seeing the results, it's encouraging!

In late May I got to take a trip to see my very dear friends and visit a new part of our country, Montana! Stunningly beautiful, those Bitterroot Mountains. I can now attest that it's true what they say, the sky really is bigger there. I'm not sure how that's possible, but it really is.

At the end of June, another new adventure, my first backpacking trip! A ladies only backpacking trip in the high sierras, we hiked carrying all our equipment on our backs from Luther Pass (near Lake Tahoe) along the Tahoe Rim Trail to Carson Pass, which is on the Pacific Crest Trail. To say "obsessed" might be a little bit of an understatement. I learned a lot in preparation for that trip, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. It was maybe one of the physically hardest things I've done, and one of the most rewarding by far. Ironically, all my photos look like we're walking through flat meadows... I surmise that this is because when you're hauling your big booty (ahem) and probably 40+ pounds of gear and water up a steep trail, breathing is more important than photo documentation. Truly though, it was a great lesson. Many lessons, actually.

Most recently, the next big change, this time for my dearly beloved husband; a new job! Changing jobs after you've been with one company for over 12 years is daunting and intimidating and he did it with aplomb. His former employer is closing their mighty doors in a few months, the end of an era of sorts in our small town, 450 jobs will be lost. To stay until the end, then have to compete for jobs against your former coworkers and friends just sounds like a complete bummer so my guy started looking early and found a good fit and a new career. I'm very proud of him. 


Craft and embroidery projects? There have been a few, although as you might imagine, not as many as in years past, my hands have been a bit full this year, but I have picked up needle & thread a time or two. As always I have more projects than time, so my list of to-do's grows ever longer, especially with all of the projects at the cabin and my reignited wanderlust for the trails and forests.

There have been lots of other little adventures along the way, too many to tackle tonight. I hope that this post will be a fresh start for my wee blog, I never intended to be away so long. The more time that passed, the easier it was to ignore the nagging little voice that says "you need to". But I have always loved this space and sooner or later, I think I'll always return.

I hope you've been well, my friends! I'm so glad many of us have stayed in touch via Instagram. That is where I'm most active, it's just so easy and fast. I have a link up there on the right side bar, if you're interested. 


My best until next time.
oxo,
Lisa

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sassenach

Greetings friends,
Just a quick pop in post to see what you thought of the premier of Outlander? I know there are a bunch of you out there who are Outlander fans -psst! you're safe here, come geek out with me! If you're not a fan, please pardon my indulgence. This might not be the post for you because I'm about to go full-on fangirl.

My friend Lorna hosted a little mountain shindig, and we watched the first episode, Sassenach on her ginormous, awesome TV, felt like the actors were right in the room with is, too cool! We had a great night chatting about the stories, we'd all read all of the books and several (if not all) of the shorter novels and supplementals, or as Diana calls them, "the bulges" and they go deep! There are SOO many layers. Anywho.. we munched, we discussed, we drank whiskey! It was a good night...

Just touching on a few key points here mixed in with the few pictures I took at the party...
I'd love to know what YOU found interesting, please share!


How great was the opening scene, Claire during 1940's wartime, under pressure, fixing someone? Claire is grace & ruthless efficiency under fire - over and over again through out these stories. What a woman!

I put together a little goodie basket for our Outlander evening, a sort of thank you gift for my friend since without her prompting I probably would have never read these stories and happily sunk so deeply into Diana Gabaldon's world. I am forever grateful. ♥
Whiskey, ale, short bread and jam - and more importantly, JAMMF! I made Lorna a Pocket Jamie of her very own. I was also given a few small Outlander posters from a lovely gal in an Outlander FB group I belong to so I passed a couple of them on to Lorna. And neatest of all, I snagged a couple of hankies which were given away as swag at ComiCon this year - eBay is still awesome - sometimes.

It all began with a reuniting-honeymoon WWII was over... Claire & Frank.
I know lot of folks don't like Frank, I do. I think that like all of Gabaldon's characters, he's human and therefore flawed, and that's part of what makes these stories so amazing. He's not a perfect man, but I do believe up to this point (and maybe ever after - I have mixed feelings - but we'll find out more about that later on...) he's a good man. That's just my opinion. I know others have different opinions... bottom line, he loves his wife. What happens further on in the story gets complicated...

Let's go see the witches! Druids, actually...
I liked this scene, it wasn't how I pictured it in the books, it was better!

Here's a little picture of our spread! I popped into my local cheese shop (my town has a cheese shop, ha! So fancy.) and picked up a couple of nice cheeses (a sharp English cheddar and a lovely little herb chevres) , to go along with the fresh oatcakes that I made for snacking. I used this recipe and this one. Each of these rendered VERY different results. I wish I'd taken pictures... generally speaking, I think the second recipe was more enjoyable and versatile. 

 Claire, can you hear the stones?

You're not Frank! Uh-oh, here comes trouble! 
Black Jack Randall, what a cad. I thought Tobias Menzies has started these two very different roles with a bang! To my eyes, these could be totally different actors, although related generations apart, Frank and BJR are nothing alike.

Look what Lorna made for desert, a Craigh na Dun cheese cake! The standing stones were made out of rice crispy treats! 

Here we are in the little cottage where Claire meets Dougal and Jamie for the first time - great scene! Nearly word for word from the book. Loved it. 

On the road with the McKenzie clan, after being unceremoniously dumped from a horse, Claire makes a break for it.

But of course Jamie finds her and gets his first taste of her feisty willfulness. 

And Claire's first taste of the famed Fraser stubbornness, I liked this scene too. Actually, there weren't any scenes I didn't like. I know I'm going to love the entire series!

And before we know it, we've arrived at Castle Leoch and the end of episode 1! 

*wistful sigh*


Episode 2 is this Saturday - which incidentally is my birthday, what a great pressie! I'm so glad that this story is being made into a beautiful, visual feast, and so grateful that the people who are making it are doing so with such love and devotion. We're in for a rollicking good time!

So tell me! What are YOU looking forward to? I have a whole list! I'll answer in the comments so we can all be a part of the conversation!

oxo,
Lisa

Friday, August 8, 2014

Poodle Party!

Hi Y'all, happy Friday!
Today I thought I'd share another little stitchy with you, this one a pet portrait (my first!) for a friend & co-workers birthday. The likeliness of her two boys, Griffin & Riley. These two playful poodles are the light of their mama's life so I thought it would be fun to make her a little hoop in their likeness, and what's more fun than poodles in party hats?! Nothin'!

Party Poodles by Lisa Leggett

I used some of my wool stash to make their little hats and the polka dots on them and trimmed two small craft pompoms down to about half their original size to top the hats. I also stuffed some wool roving under the party hats before I stitched them down so they'd be a little bit puffy since the rest of the portrait would have a good bit of texture.

Party Hats

I used turkey work stitching for the tops of their big poofy heads. This was the first time I've ever used this stitch on a project and oh my gosh, I love it. It's a little fiddly but really fun!

Side view of Griffin - Party Poodles by Lisa Leggett

As you can see the turkey work does stand up nicely off of the fabric.

Side view of Riley - Party Poodles by Lisa Leggett

I used big French knots for that curly texture on the boys' soft, floppy ears to great effect, what's more, I think that the perle cotton that I stitched them with enhanced the texture even further.

Griffin the Party Poodle by Lisa Leggett

This is Griffin.

Riley the Party Poodle by Lisa Leggett

And this is Riley, such cute brudders!

Party Poodles by Lisa Leggett

I enjoyed making this piece, I think it's really unlike anything else I've ever done before which is cool, and dang it, it's cute!

Now I want to stitch ALL THE DOGS. ALL OF THEM.
Kitties too. I love animals! Animals are awesome.

So what'cha up to this weekend, folks? You DO know that Outlander is premiering on Starz tomorrow night, riiight? Grrrl, you better recognize! Jamie Fraser, the King of Men, right there on your TV screen, eeep! My dear friend, the person who I blame thank for my Outlander obsession is hosting an Outlander Sleepover. Her hubby has even promised to wear a kilt and be our waiter for the evening, yeee! So cool! If I haven't died of happiness I'll report back soon.

Watch this show you guys, watch it!
oxo,
Lisa

Monday, July 28, 2014

Foxy

Hello Friends!
Not so long ago I participated in an embroidery swap on Craftster, the theme of the swap was "Twinchie". What in the heck is a twinchie, you ask? Well, it's a little embellishment, a piece of art, in this case embroidered, that is less than 2" square.

For this swap I was lucky enough to be partnered with my friend, Crystal and so I was also lucky in that I knew exactly what I wanted to make for her, love that! No fretting this time around like I usually do, wanting to make just the right thing for my partner. This time I knew... I was gonna get FOXY! 

Mama & Baby Fox Embroidery Hoop by Lisa Leggett

Crystal loves foxes as do I, all woodland animals actually, so this was really going to be a pleasure, I just needed to find the right fox and when I stumbled on this image I knew it was the one. Crystal is a wonderful mama, her little boy Baxter is a cutie pie, who just turned two years old, I feel lucky to get to see him grow into a little boy, it's astonishing how time flies though, seems like he was just an infant yesterday!

Picking the colors, I love this step.

Picking colors for this sweet, nestled mama & baby fox was fun, russets, burnt oranges, browns and creams, a fox has all of those colors and more. As soon as I had a good mix I started right in. Stitching was a dream, some projects just flow and this was definitely one of them. Even though it was early summer when I started this project this snoozing autumnal duo had me dreaming of fall.

A twinchie is less than 2" square.

See? All nice and little and confined to two square inches. Yay twinchies!

Stained Embroidery Hoop by Lisa Leggett

I did hit one snag when it came to hooping up this mama & baby, I'd ordered some special tiny 2" hoops, so that this could be an embroidered pendant necklace but alas, two inches was the size of the outside of the outer hoop, poop. My foxes didn't fit. Plot twist! I grabbed a 3" hoop from my supply (yes, I actually keep a supply of a variety of hoops at all times as evidenced here) and was back in business.

Mama & Baby Fox Embroidery Hoop by Lisa Leggett

To add a little sparkle, I embellished the hanger with a couple of gold & amber beads.

Back of the hoop

This is how I've been finishing the backs of my hoops lately, card stock glued to the back of the hoop with Fabri-Fix. I finally, finally have found a way to finish these hoops that I really like and gives me a neat, consistent result. I've done this a couple dozen times now, love it. I've tried lots and lots of different methods and for me, this one is best. Usually I use plain brown card stock, but for Crystal's foxy pair, I wanted something a little different.

Mama & Baby Fox Embroidery by Lisa Leggett

I was very pleased with how this mama & baby came out, my favorite is the baby paws, eep! So little! And his (or her) tiny face.

Crystal knows me so well, look at what she made for me!!
A Vespa, with rainbow toots! Lol, I'm sure they're not toots, but the thought of a tooting scooter makes me laugh and laugh.
Rainbow Scooter by crystal-fiberartsy.blogspot.com

Seriously though, how sweet is this? I love mint green, I love eyelet, I love rainbows and lawdy, lawdy do I love me a red Vespa! It's so perfect. Thank you, Crystal!!

This was a really fun swap, I'm so glad I got in on this one.
What about you, are you participating in any swaps this summer? There are a LOT of them going on, I wish I had time for all of them! There are a lot of stitch-a-longs going on as well, I'm doing two of them, I'll post about them soon, promise!
oxo,
Lisa

Monday, July 21, 2014

Little Birthday Things

Greetings Bloggy People!
Wow, this summer is zooming by, I have so much to tell you and so much still to do! Before I get too scattered thinking about aaalll that other stuff, let's back up a minute and and look at some cute (if I do say so myself) little things I made for my pal Pam for her birthday, some I made, some I just tjuzed up a bit.

Like I mentioned in my last post I am woefully behind in birthday making this year, like seriously, a few months behind. Actually, if I'm being honest I feel behind in just about everything right now, Lord help me, there's never enough time to get it all done, so many balls in the air... At any rate, I personally don't mind a bit if I receive a giftie some months after my actual birthday, but I sure don't like doing that to other people (sorry Melissa, sorry Dez - I haven't forgotten your milestone birthday's, I promise, I swear.). For my dear Ms. Pam, her birthday coincided with our vacation to her home town of Portland, Oregon and there was no way I was turning up empty handed on her birthday, I do have some couth. But still, right to the last minute I was working on her pressie, on the train and my hotel room the morning of her birthday. Last minute Lisa, that's me!

In fact, these photos were taken in the window sill of the hotel room right before I packed them up and met her for a really nice day spent futzing around together along with my sweet hubby (who's birthday was also the the purpose of this trip, more on that later). And can I just say, the light there in Portland, it's gorgeous! I don't get pictures like this here at home... sigh... So! On with the goodie parade!

A few months ago we were having a conversation about mini's and Pam's desire to create a doll house, in particular we were both gaga for these rugs. Ah-ha, inspiration! So I set about making a punch needle mini rug. Somewhere along the way I thought, "wouldn't it be neat to start a room for her?" and since we're crafty friends I thought a craft room was a nice start so I expanded my initial idea a little more...

Mini Craft Room Things by Lisa Leggett

Here is the finished rug, a whirling, swirling sea of blue accented with little French knot roses in shades of mauve & pinks. I've only ever done punch needle once before and it was a looong time ago and a stamped pattern at that, which I vaguely recall was similar to coloring within the lines but with a needle. I don't remember much about it though and was surprised at how much floss punch needle takes, this little rug which is approximately 3"x 6" took 5 skeins of DMC for the base. Round and round and round I went. I enjoyed the process once I got the hang of holding the punch properly. Once I got the rug to a size I liked and stitched in the flower sprays, I cut it out of the fabric it was stitched on (14 count Aida), glued it to some wool blend felt, then blanket stitched the two together. I kinda like it!
Punch needle and embroidered rug by Lisa Leggett

Good lighting is essential for good crafting so Pam's little room needed a light! I made this one out of things I already had in my various crafty stashes. Beads, washi tape & a pretty little button are all you need to make this mini lamp. I used this tutorial. I genuinely love it, it's stinkin' adorable.
Miniature Lamp by Lisa Leggett

A crafter also needs a comfortable chair, preferably a pretty one. I bought a simple plain wooden chair and painted it as best I could (be gentle, I'm no painter), I also bought the little craft basket, it was already put together but the basket was also plain so I painted that a sunny, mellow yellow - much cuter.
Mini painted chair & craft basket by Lisa Leggett

Anyone who crafts is *always* short on space, so I also gave Pam a craft cabinet. Purchased in plain wood I also painted this little cabinet inside & out and make a teensy bunting with washi tape to decorate the front.

Mini Craft Cabinet with bunting by Lisa Leggett

Just for kicks I wanted to make a couple of things to go in the cabinet, since Pam and I love embroidery so much I had to make her a tiny skein of floss (tutorial here - not in English, but you can manage with just the pictures). Look how dinky it is! 

Tiny Embroidery Floss by Lisa Leggett

And lastly, maybe my favorite tiny thing, a wee stack of fat quarters! I used the smallest prints I could find in my little stash of 30's repro fabrics from this project (still in the works). I think they're so cute all tied together!

Mini Fat Quarters stack by Lisa Leggett

Just for scale here's another picture, see how little? I love little things! I used this tutorial to make the fat quarters.

Mini Fat Quarters stack by Lisa Leggett

So there we are, a few little things to start out a miniature craft room. Nothing too matchy, but they all kind of go nicely, don't you think?

Mini Craft Room Things by Lisa Leggett

Mini's are fun. I have very very little experience with them myself, but I sure enjoyed making these little bits, even if they aren't perfect, they sure are cute!

Mini Craft Room Things by Lisa Leggett

In a happy turn of events, guess what Pam got for her birthday? A dollhouse kit! So now she'll have a few things to start off with and I'm so pleased I could be a little part of it. Pam has the touch for mini things, just look at her new beach themed fairy garden, so I just know her doll house will be darling! I can't wait to watch it come together slowly but surely.

I hope not to be away for so long between posts this next round, I have so much to share with you guys! It's becoming difficult, sometimes a downright challenge to keep up with blogging, but I'm digging my heels in, I will do better! I started this blog in part to remember and document all the different little things I make and right now many of those things are stacked up in my computer and need to get out, so I'm hoping I can find my rhythm again and be more regular about posting. I so love to share these things and seeing what you all are up to as well, the blogging community is a great one and I definitely want to stay involved!

SO! What have you guys been up to? Do share! And let me know what you think about my little foray into the world of mini's! Have you done mini's? Point me to them, I want to see!
oxo,
Lisa

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ana's Mermaid

Hi Guys,
Oh, the eve of a three day weekend, is there anything better? Yes! A three day weekend that starts off with fireworks! Happy Independence Day everyone! Do you have any plans this weekend? We have a little and a lot to do, does that make any sense? Kind of a weird weekend. Me personally, I have A LOT to do, like stitch, stitch, stitch! Next Friday I am going to be the featured artist at The Rowan Tree for Lodi Arts Commission Art Hop! Eeeep! I'm stitching like a mad woman to have enough to show, plus making a display and a sign, eeegads! Where does the time go?

Speaking of time, it's time I finally shared about this lovely lady! This Urban Threads Dark Fairy Tales Mermaid is something I stitched for my niece, Ana. It was meant to be for Christmas, and it ended up being for her birthday 5 months later. Oh, the shame...

I am *SO* behind with my birthday gift makings this year. There are a couple people who probably think I've forgotten them. I haven't peeps! I'm just notoriously late! I need to replicate myself so I can stitch twice as much, so many ideas so little time... 
Dark Fairytales Mermaid stitched by Lisa Leggett

Rather than hoop this embroidery up once complete, I decided to stretch the fabric over an artists canvas, I really like the clean, contemporary look.

Hair Detail of Dark Fairytales Mermaid stitched by Lisa Leggett
Hair! An embroiderers favorite thing to stitch! I jest. It's really not that bad, just tedious, but I'm generally happy with the results, I did all of this mermaids hair in stem stitch. You can see some other hair stitchery I've done here & here.

Dark Fairytales Mermaid stitched by Lisa Leggett

Her body is also stitched in single strand perle cotton, simple backstitch.

Gallery Corners

As I mentioned I stretched this piece over artists canvas, I did gallery corners at each corner and was very pleased with how neat & tidy they came out.

Back side of finished piece, trimmed out with ribbon & hanging hardware

I trimmed the back with some lacy printed black ribbon just to make things look more finished and I had the hanging hardware added at Aaron Brothers, they do that you know, for $5! What a bargain.

Dark Fairytales Mermaid stitched by Lisa Leggett

Ana told me that she loves her Little Mermaid and has hung it in her house, yay! I love to hear that kind of thing as does anyone who makes handmade gifts, you want the person to love them as much as you loved making them and sometimes that comes with a risk. This risk paid off, woo!

So what are you all doing this weekend? Do tell!
oxo,
Lisa