Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Christmas Project ... and a Promise for Next Year

So the day after Christmas was just as exciting for me as the holiday itself. As many of you know we brought back a variety of items from my father-in-law's house after cleaning it. Most of the furniture went to storage after I made a detailed list so I'd know what we can get rid of here before consolidating (do two people really need 6 TVs?)

So in all the turmoil of the recent weeks and the holidays on top of it, my precious (though small) craft closet became a catch-all for anything that my husband didn't know where it went or what I would deal with "in a minute." So, day after Christmas I decided to takle this former haven of solice here at Rose Manor. This is what I was greeted with after I opened the door (I was lucky to get it opened!) ...

My poor closet looked like it had contained Hurricane Ike for a week! My close friends were amazed that I hadn't lost my sanity with my OCD tendencies. I too wondered how I hadn't lit a match and started over.

I completely emptied it out and after 4 hours of sorting and disposing of trash, I loaded my Tahoe (after removing ALL of the seats) with stuff to be donated to the post Thrift Store (which provided scholarships for military spouses and children). I reorganized and after threat to my husband resulting in promises to get rid of the old printers and relocating his guns within the month, this is what I walked away with ...

After all that cleaning I found quite a few half finished projects in there. I'm hoping in 2009 that I will get a good number of them marked off. SO after a bit of organized chaos, I've managed to make a list of what needs to be done. There is no promis that I won't start anything new, but hopfully the "to be done list" is smaller by the end of 2009.

I'm not really one to make New Year's resolutions, because I really don't think you have to wait until a certain time of year to make choices that will make your life better. However, this year, I decided (not resolved) to get some projects finished this year. Mostly cross stitch, but a few others as well. So here it is ... my mighty list of procratination.

To be Sewn:
□ Pink and Blue Baby Blanket
□ Pink and Blue Doll Quilt
□ Freedom Wallhanging
□ Purple Quilt Block
□ Christmas Wreath Pillow
□ Blue and Gold Heart Quilt (new project I will tell you about soon)

To be Stitched:
□ Army Seal
□ Daisy Tabletopper
□ Rose Quilt Blocks
□ Rose Pillowcases
□ God Bless Me Pillow
□ God Bless Me Blanket
□ Stuffed Lion
□ Lindsey Stained Glass
□ Easter Bunny and Egg-Mom
□ Easter Bunny and Egg-Me
□ Roly Poly Santas
□ 12 Small Christmas Ornaments (former SAL)
□ Love, Honor, Cherish Centerpeices/Placemats

Needless to say, I have more than enough to do without starting any new projects, but we'll see. There are a few things that I'd like to do for the house such as ...

□ Christmas Stocking George
□ Christmas Stocking Michelle
□ Christmas Stocking Sgt. Major
□ Mistletoe Tree Skirt
□ Kitchen Towel- Christmas
□ Kitchen Towel- Thanksgiving
□ Kitchen Towel- Halloween
□ Kitchen Towel- 4th of July
□ Kitchen Towel- Easter
□ Kitchen Towel- Valentine’s Day

I'll post my progress periodically, but please feel free to inquire at anytime, it may motivate to get some of these projects done.

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our First Christmas ...

Well maybe it wasn't our first Christmas, but it was our first Christmas at home. For the past 7 years we've been together, we've spent our holidays traipsing from one Family event to another. Usually 3 a day. It was so exhausting and left us very cranky and lacking any holiday cheer.

This year we stayed home. Christmas Eve we had a candlelight dinner. George had marinated some steaks and I cooked some veggies and we had a nice bottle of wine before watching a movie. I had to wait for him to fall asleep so that the neighbor could bring over the Craftsman tool chest I'd gotten him. It seemed like it took forver to get it across the street and every noise sounded like a cannon. He was alseep in the livingroom so I was sure he'd hear the garage door. But I got it safety tucked in the garage and then woke him up to go to bed.

Christmas morning we woke up and I made pancakes. Actually first I prepared the ham by marinating it in Bourbon before cooking it in a brown sugar and Bourbon glaze. As you may imagine, Sgt. Major was VERY helpful ... all the way to the fridge ... as seen here ...

Then we opened presents. Puppy first ... we got him this oversized bone and a stuffed animal with squeaker. That damn bone turned him into Cujo and now, two days later we still cannot walk into whatever room he is in without him growling an lunging at us. {sigh} He was such a nice boy before that bone turned him eveil. George and I have decided to take it to the garage. We try this every few months. but those stupid bones turn him into an evil pup. Here he is guarding his treasures ...

What a rotten dog, But I digress.

Next it was our turn to exchange gifts. George got me an 80G Zune and new cell phone, both the same color as my computer. I am so excited that all my electronic toys match! (I know, I'm a total dork, but whatever!) I'll post a pic as soon as I am willing to put them down long enough. He also got me 3 of my top 5 holiday movies ... White Christmas (ultimate favorite, I love Bing Crosby!), Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life. I grew up without a TV and my stepmother never let us help with any decorations, she'd put up the stockings and IF we had a tree while we were all sleeping. So when I grew I kind of reverted to trying to recreate those Christmas memories that most people get when they are children.

George got a BlueRay player, two movies to go with it (something about Star Wars Clones and Tropical Thunder), the Craftsman tool chest, a hat from our college to replace the one he lost and a Texas hitchcover for his new truck (Oh, yeah, I'll have to post a picture of that soon too!)

After than we watched movies and ate luch (ham, green bean casserole and yams) at about 1 p.m. After that we just hung out about the house and played with out new toys while trying to stay out of Cujo's way. For desert we had Port (that is some SWEET tasting stuff) and pumpkin pie. It was an absolutely great day!

Until our next visit ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas ....

Merry Chistmas from Rose Manor and a very disgruntled Santa!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmastime at Rose Manor

Christmastime has arrived here at Rose Manor. It's such a wonderfully peaceful time of year. Since I make my holiday list in January and start gathering gifts in February, by November I only have last minute gifts and the planner I get my niece every year (she's as organized as me, which is a given since she shares my name.)

The tree has been decorated ... twice and gifts are being wrapped. This will be the first Christmas we spend at home and to be honest, I am very excited. I tire of the frantic traveling from one relative to the next. It's so stressful making sure no one's feelings get hurt, that gifts aren't forgotten and that somewhere in all that craziness we don't forget to spend a little time with each other and the puppy.

But, back to Rose Manor and it's decorations. Each year I try to make a new set of ornaments. Our tree is all red, white and gold, so the ornaments, all in a Victorian theme follow that color scheme. Here is a sampling of some of those treasures:

This was made from white and gold cording that I hot glued to a styrofoam ball. I made two different sizes in this cording and red and gold cording.

I made a variety of these by rolling them after putting paint inside. Every few hours I'd turn then and two days later, this is what I got. I did a variety, but word of advise, the red and white may turn pink, but it's still pretty.

Here is a gold version of the same ornament.

This is one of my favorites, but a bit of a sad story, many of them turned yellow. I'm guessing it was the fabric stiifener not doing good in storage. This is the lone survivor. Any one have ideas to keep them from turning? I am hooping to find more round doilies so I can make more.

Thiis our current tree skirt. Many years ago my made these for Christmas gifts and I got to help stamp them. When she stopped putting a tree up I got this one. I recently found a monochromatic poinsettia cross stitch patternt that I want to use to make a tree skirt with. Maybe it will be a project for 2009 and I can debut it next year.

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Join me for a cup of tea ... part 7

Thank you for joining me for today's tea party ... pull you chair to the table and pour yourself a cup of tea or fill your plates with sweets - today, I will tell you about a group of people who inspire me.

Their dedication and devotion are immeasurable. Despite criticism and disrespect they endure, some even to their faces. I am talking about America's service members. It must be so hard to defend the rights of people who picket the funeral of their fallen comrades and welcome home ceremonies. I can't imagine what it must be like to deal with that kind of hate and continue to fight for their freedom of speech.

They leave their families behind while they fight to help others achieve the freedoms that many take for granted here. They fight for what they believe in, regardless of what others think or say. As Lt. Col. Hal Moore said in the movie We Were Soldiers …, “American soldiers in battle don't fight for what some president says on T.V., they don't fight for mom, apple pie, the American flag... they fight for one another.”

They are honorable men and women who ask for nothing in return.

This week I debut (on this site) a special treasure. My husband brought this marble tea set back from Afghanistan.

When his bags arrived in January 2006, a month after he came home, he said he had a surprise that he had been carrying around for a few months. When I opened it up, I was stunned. It was breathe-taking and beautiful. I was like a kid at Christmas. I cleared off the glass table in the kitchen and put it on the top. Not satified, I moust have moved it three or four more times before returning it to that table.

I love haw the little cups and the decanter sit on a little serving plate. All snug and perfectly. George said they drank a lot of tea over there when visiting with elders, Chi specifically, but like a true Texan went back to his coffee shortly after coming home. My drink of choice depends on my mood and the weather.

There were two places that pieces broke off during shipping, but you can’t even tell.

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Join me for a cup of tea ... part 6

Welcome to another Saturday tea. This week I preview a new teacup.

This teacup has a bit of a funny story behind it, but in order for you to find the humor I must explain something. My mother is one of those people you cannot just buy a gift for. Despite something she might like (such as fabric for a quilt or a cute goat item because that is what they raise on their farm). You have to wait for her to tell you what to get or else take trip with her when she returns it. She is also a woman who believes if it did not come from WalMart, then she does not need it. With that in mind ...

Sometime in 2007 my husband and I were in Houston visiting our families when my mom said," Hey! Maybe when you come to visit you can help me go through all of the kitchen cabinets and get rid of stuff." (That is the sort of thing my mom plans when we visit, but it is better than helping worm nearly 100 goats!)

"Um ... o.k.!" I replied without much enthusiasm.

So the day came and there we were in our stocking feet in the kitchen (no shoes allowed on her hardwood floor!) with boxes spread out and my stepfather safely hidden upstairs as not to be asked to assist. One cabinet at a time, I climb up on the ladder and hand down all of the containers, cups, bowls and other items she miraculously crammed into those wooden hideaways.

When cleaning out one of the top shelves, I pulled down this hummingbird tea cup and saucer.

"This is pretty," I said handing it to her.

"Then you can have it," she said.

"Where'd you get it," I asked absently, as I placed in aside on the counter.

"I don't know," she replied. "It couldn't have been important if I don't remember."

"I guess not," I mumbled as I climbed off the ladder. "I think it look familiar. I might have that in a cross stitch pattern."

"I think it's kind of ugly," she replied absently.

I moved the ladder and started on the next cabinet, forgetting about the pretty little bird in flight.

After a few hours of working we had cleared all of the counters and boxed up the donations for a local charity or something, I boxed up the few things that I wanted and headed back to my father-in-law's.

Days later I unpacked the cup and saucer with the other items and put it on a shelf in the kitchen, making a mental note to put it on display later with the others in my small collection.

Fast forward, a few months later, my husband was deployed and I was looking for some bowl that had disappeared as they often do and I came across this set. Suddenly, it clicked. I knew where I had seen the set at. I finished what I was doing and opened up the laptop. Going to one of the flower pages visit for special occasions, I searched and quickly saw it ...

Yep! Plain as day. It was part of the floral arrangement I had sent my mother the previous Mother's Day. I guess once the flowers had died, she put the cup and saucer in the back of the cabinet and forgot about it. So there it was, a cup and saucer that I thought was so beautiful eventually made its way back to me ... maybe I should have told her to put some flowers in it before she gave it back ...

Until our next visit ...

Monday, December 1, 2008

What is pink and blue and has four paws?

Apparently, my half finished quilt!

This is part of a quilt I started on about 7 years ago. I thought that this would be a good project for the new year's list of projects to finish. (It is NOT a short list either!) On top of it is our 64-pound English Bulldog, Sgt. Major who (I guess) feels that the carpet is not soft enough and the quilt blocks remedied that!

I started the quilt when I found some fabric my mom had. For those who may not know, my mom is an avid quilter ... or was. A few years ago she bought a quilt supply business from a friend and now barely has time to make the quilts for display. Kind of sad, I think, becasue she used to get so much joy from it. Although she still enjoys it, she doesn't get to labor over it like she used to or rotate on projects depending on her mood. (She can tell you a story about working night and day to finish a quilt in like 3 days while my stepfather was left to fend for himself for dinner. He just went to his mom's after work!)

Anyway, I really liked these two fabrics and he thought of making a quilt from triangles sounded fun. Unfortunately, I think I made it harder on myself. A few months into the project my mom was looking it over wheile I ironed it one day and said, "You know you could've done the same pattern using squares..."

Great! I was making it twice as hard on myself so I started to make squares. Later I realized that I couldn't just switch in the middle of the project unless I changed the pattern somehow. Besides the sizes were all ). A little overwhelmed, I put it away and no doubt started another project or two or three.

So now, I revisit it. I don't know if there is anymore fabric than the remaining pieces that I cut. Maybe my mom has more, maybe not. But looking at it, I think I can make a small lap quilt from the pieces I have of the triangles and another wall hanging size from the squares cut. Or a crib sized blanket and matching doll blanket ... I kinda like that idea. Especially since we are ready to start a family.

Here are some options. Any suggestions?

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Join me for a cup of tea ... part 5

Welcome to another Saturday tea. Thanks for joining me. Sorry that I was absent again last week, now that we are finishing up with my father-in-law's estate things should be back to normal soon ... whatever normal is!

This week I have a beautiful six-sided Rose Saucer on display.

I got this beautful pieces the summer of 2006. My father came to visit with my niece, Stephanie, shortly after George deployed the first time. We went shopping Natchitoches, LA a beautiful place for anyone who loves that small town charm (and happens to be where the movie Steel Magnolias was filmed). At a Christmas/resale store (that is open year-round ... Yeah!) we were exploring all the crevises and corners when I found this lonely little plate. The saleslady said she had found it when she was going through some boxes and thought she'd put it on the shelf to see if anyone wanted it. She had planned to throw it away but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I had to have it with such a sad story, so $2 later, I had added to my collection. How could I not!?! It didn't just have roses, but PINK roses ... It called to me!

Has anyone seen this pattern before? I woud love to find a cup, but hadn't had a chance to do extensive research.

Until our next visit ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Holiday Rose

We have so much to do to finish clearing my father-in-law's house before visiting Family them heading back home to Army Life this weekend, but I wanted to share this with you.

This post will be short and sweet, but it seemd so appropriate for Thanksgiving. This rose reminds me so much of Fall each time I see it I think of how beautiful life is regardless of whether it is cheery and bright or dark and sad. This rose, in all its beauty, was part of a floral arrangement for Dad's funeral. (It's actually a very deep golden yellow and vivid orange.) Beautiful yet sad. But I chose not to dwell on the sadness, but rather the celebration of his life, just as this rose lives on in ths photo, so does Dad live on in our hearts. I'm sure the holidays will be hard for us as well face them so close to losing him, but George and I are thankful we have each other.

Until our next visit ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Celebration of Life

This week I wanted to take time to celebrate the roses that my recently passed father-in-law brought into my life.

These are the roses on the bush in the back yard. It was planted by my husband's grandmother and cared for by his dad long after she passed away. I love the variations of pink against the yellow house. He had a yellow rose bush in the front of the house too. But I missed the blooms this year since we were at the hospital so much the past few months.

This was a beautiful painting of roses that we found when packing the house. I fell in love ith it the minute I saw it. George thinks it was something his grandmother had in her house, before she passed away. It was tucked back in a closet at the back of his dad's house.

When I was cleaning the kitchen and diningroom, George and I found a variety of beautiful glass serving pieces and such. It took me about 4 days just to go through those two rooms, but towards to end of it I found this single plate with a beautiful pink rose on it. I'm not sure what to do with it, but it will be a pretty serving plate or something.

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Join me for a cup of tea ... part 4

Welcome to another Saturday tea. Thanks for joining me. Sorry that I was absent last week. With my FIL's passing we had a lot to do in settling his estate and we are only just beginning, but for now, let's have tea.

This week's addition to my collection comes all the way from across the world, Afghanistan to be exact. On Dec. 4, 2006, George and I came home from shopping in Lake Charles and the post office had delivered the trunk George had mailed home with his extra stuff from his deployment. (He'd returned a few days prior.) As he unpacked it he said he had a surprise for me. I tore open the packaging to reveal this beautiful, tiny marble pitcher followed by six tiny cups and resting plate. Sure enough, my husband found me a tea set in Afghanistan. (Click on photo to see larger.)

He said, "You said you had a tea cup collection, so I got this for you. I didn't know you collected teacups."

Really, what did he think was on the glass shelves for the past few years!

What do you think? DO you have treasures from other places in the world? Please feel free to share.

Until our next visit ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seal of Approval ... Closing in on the finishline

The past three months I have spent a lot of time at the hospital while my father-in-law was sick. Try as I may, concentrating on homework was difficult, but stitching was something that I could drop at a moments notice or take with me when we went for tests in other parts of the hospital. I have a long list of unfinished projects and as soon as I verify it, I'll post so you can see just what I have on my plate.

When packing for Houston, I chose three projects, the Daisy tabletopper was one project, but the Army Seal that I have been working on for over 5 years was another. Both large projects, both high on my priority list.

When I started Oct. 23, this is where I was:

When I put it down and started fresh on a new project a week ago, this is where I was:

Really close to finishing, aren't I?

I first saw the pattern, summer 2002, when I was was in North Carolina completing my internship. (Yes, same one where I got my green and rose teaset.) I started the following fall. A few months into it, I was working on completing the outer circle and realized I'd miss counted and it didn't meet correctly and was too far off to "correct" with altered counting, so I started over. Trust me, I was MUCH more careful the second time.

I chose 22-count fabric and for those who don't know, that means 22 squares per inch ... yep, that's small. So it's taken me a while. I've just got a few letters and backstitching, which is my least favorite. I'll post pictures as I continue.

Until our next visit ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Paisley Parade

I thought all week about what I would post, and thought that I would actually skip it this week, since we got the news of my FIL's rapid decline in health. But sitting in the hospital room in these last few days with him I needed something to remind me of the beauty in life. So this week's post is dedicated to him.

As I've said before my mother owns a quilting company, mostly patterns and supplies. When I was in college I used to travel with her to various shows. In a community such as crafts and quilting you meet others who live the gypsy life and see them throughout your travels. Most of them knew me as Veronica's daughter and I quickly became accepted as one of them, thought I cross stitched (gasp) rather than quilted. It wasn't that I didn't like to quilt, I did, I just needed to stay busy at all time and it was much easier to stuff a stitching project in my bag versus quilting.

On one of these trips our booth was across from Husqvarna-Viking who was introducing a new embroidery machine. All day long they made samples and at the end of the day either packed them up or if there werew multiples, threw extras away. They asked if I wanted one at the end of the conference and this is the first one I chose. They also gave me a "sister" sample. What do you think? Pretty huh!?!

The pink paisley matches my dinningroom, so I will have it matted and framed to hang in there, but I hadn't decided what to do with the other one. I'll let you know what I decide.

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Join me for a cup of tea ... part 3

Welcome to Saturday tea ... sorry I am late, I guess it'll be an afternoon tea this week. Please a enjoy a crumpet, scone or whatever treat you'd like as you join me in the sunroom and we continue to talk tea. Let me tell you about my third piece in my collection ...

Now where were we? Oh, yes, I had just gotten my first teaset in North Carolina ....

At the end of the summer I packaged everything up for the 19-plus hour trip back to Houston. There is the front seat of my purple Fort Ranger sat the carefully boxed tea set and the two original matching tea cup and saucers. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to my new college apartment and unpacked my "collection." I placed them on the only counter in that small efficiency apartment. I had my stepfather's gold fabric "college" couch, a day bed and no room for a kitchen table, but my collection was proudly displayed.

Following graduation in May 2003, I again packaged my treasures and headed off to my first "home." I was renting a beautiful four-bedroom house that my grandparents had bought to renovate and I promised to help when I moved in.

First things first, out came the collection. Now that I had room, I saved my pennies (literally) and bought a brass table with three glass shelves to display my growing collection. It was actually a towel rack for the bathroom, but it was all I could afford and it worked. Its the table which the teaset was on in last week's tea.

Helping my grandmother go through her "Christmas closet" that year, we found a pretty blue tea-for-one set that included the teapot that steeped on top of the tea cup and had a pretty dessert plate with it. She offered it to me, probably after seeing my humble collection when she visited.

So I took my newfound treasure home, thinking about all of Christmases I had helped her go through that closet and placed it on the counter. There it sat for nearly 8 months until my next adventure came ... marraige ... but more about the next peice at tea next week!

Until our next visit ...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween! Hopefully ghosts, goblins and ghouls will be in full form tonight.

For me this is a new thing. Until my husband and I married 5 years ago, I'd never celebrated Halloween.

When my husband learned I'd never dressed up, trick-or-treated or carved a pumpkin he set about to remedy that. My first pumpkin carving was in 2005. I had so much fun. This (pumpkin on left) was my first attempt.

That year we also dressed up Sgt. Major as ... a Handome Devil! Obviouly that first year he wasn't happy, but he got used to it when he realized he got more treats ... no tricks!

This was last year, Halloween 2007. Much better participation!

This year will will hand out candy, but we are spending the day at the hosptial with my FIL (story on other blog), but we did attend the Texas Ren. Festival last weekend and I found a drunk pumpkin and thought my cottage visitors would love to see him! Click on the picture to see his droopy eyes! I loved it!

Until our next visit ...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photographic Florals

I love everything rose ... some of my first projects as a photography student were of roses. No matter how many times I've photographed these beutiful flowers, I never seem to get tired of it. In fact, some have been featured in gallery showings and the installation newspaper. Many of my teacups have roses too, but that is a story for another post.

Today I want to share some of my floral photography. There are a variety of gardens and such near the installation that I visit. I haven't been but plan to visit the American Rose Society Rose Garden in Shreveport, LA. But until then, here is one of my favorites ...

This is a photograph of roses that my husband got me for my 29th birthday (or as I like to say the 7th anniversary of my 22nd birthday!)

I changed them a little using Photoshop, as you can see here, there are actually red. Ah, but I do love pink ...

More of my natural photography can be seen here and here.

Remember to take time to smell the roses!

Until our next visit ...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Join me for a cup of tea ... part 2

Welcome to another Saturday tea. Please pull up a seat, help yourself to a treat, and lets chat.

This week I will tell you the story of when I started my tea cup collection. Though I previously had two cups and saucers, it was not a collection yet.

We left off the summer of 2002. Actually, let me back up a few months.

At the beginning of 2002 my mother asked me to accompany her for a quilt show/convention where she spends about 48 weeks a year for her company, Bear Thread Designs. So I packed my stack of internship application and a weekend bag and headed to Cleveland.

I was anxious about getting a journalism or PR internship for the summer, so I would still be able to work a paying job during the school year. As fate would have it, sitting next to me on the flight was a VP of Marketing for a Home Improvement Loan Company. She noticed me filling out the applications and after talking for nearly the entire trip she offered me a position as a PR intern, which led me to spending a summer in North Carolina.

So five months later, I moved into a house Cary, NC, with 3 others who were students at the local North Carolina University. We got along well. One day, a few weeks before I returned home to Houston, I went shopping with one of my roommates, Holly, at a Tuesday Morning. I found this tea set with raised pink roses and it took little prodding from her for me to purchase it. It includes teapot with lid, sugar and creamer with lid, four tea cups, four saucers and four dessert plates.

I was so excited to get it back home and display it in my next apartment. Even now, it is one of the first things I unpack when we get to a new home.

Until our next visit ...