Saturday, July 28, 2007

Halloween Stitching

Not long ago I mentioned that I'm doing lots of little counted cross-stitch projects. Here are pictures and links to the designers. I'm also challenging myself to stitch on something other than plain old white Aida cloth, so I'm stitching each chart on the colored fabric pictured with it.

I love Meowy Halloween (I'm stitching all three and they glow in the dark!), Halloween Kitty Moon, Christmas Kitty Moon, and The Cat Did It (customize with your pet's name), all by Stitchy Kitty. I used 16 count fabric for Meowy Halloween and 14 count for everything else. This was the first time I used 16 count and I really like it! Note for non-stitchers: this refers to number of squares per inch. Each cross-stitch, which looks like a little x, is one square.

I found Ursala Michael's Bewitching Banner in the September issue of Cross-Stitch and Needlework and couldn't resist stitching it! (Don't they remind you of the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter? :)

This will be the first time I've used DMC Light Effects floss (fluorescent colors, but there are now more than the 2 colors pictured on the DMC site). I'm stitching this pattern on 28 count Opalescent/Raw Belfast Metallic Linen by Zweigart. The pictures don't do it justice! It's pretty with a hint of sparkle. Note for non-stichers: when using linen you stitch over two squares, so this design has 14 stitches per inch, not 28.

Merlin Max is one chart in special series by A Kitty Katz Originals. This chart came with all the charms you can see in the picture (spiderweb, spider, "Halloween," key, witch shoes, witch head, moon and stars, and candy corn) and was the same price as most charts without charms! This is a good deal since charms can be expensive.

I couldn't find fabric quite like that pictured with Merlin Max, so I'm using a really pretty, sparkly fabric by Laguna called Rainbow Sparkle. The picture on Herrschner's web site (click and scoll down) doesn't do it justice! It's a pastel blend of blue-ish, purple-ish colors on a light blue/gray background with sparkly rainbow metallic thread throughout. I will try to take a picture when I'm done stitching. If it shows the fabric well, I will post it here.

I don't recommend Herrschner's, by the way; I didn't spend anywhere near what they charge for Rainbow Sparkle! As always, I buy my supplies at Stitches 'n' Things in Fenton, MI. which has much better prices and service than any online site!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

#$%& Ragweed!

Summer's here and the time is right for Ragweed pollen. Crap. I hate this stuff! The mold level has remained relentlessly high all summer, now there is also Ragweed. I don't need to see an allergy report to know it's here. The first clue was when I woke up earlier this week with swollen, itchy eyes -- and that's with prescription allergy medicine and central air conditioning (my friend, the big pollen filter).

SIGH. Only two more months until my friend Jack Frost shows up to kill the Ragweed. October seems unbearably far away right now.

Harry Potter Links

My friend Jason Fisher posted some cool Harry Potter links on his blog (Lingwë - Musings of a Fish) yesterday, including these Scholastic links:
Explore Cover Art: See the HP covers and deluxe covers up close.

Pronunciation Guide: Learn how to pronounce Hermione, Scrimgeur, and other unusual words — includes phonetic spelling and audio clips.
While I was exploring these sites, I noticed that Scholastic also has an HP Glossary. Who knew Scholastic has so much cool HP stuff?

Be sure to visit Jason's blog. He has lots of interesting HP entries on word origins and other linguistic topics.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weather Radio

I bought a Midland WR 100 Weather Radio (only $30 at Kroger). I've always wanted one but had the impression you got every county in the state, not just your own. This radio was easy to program. You can set it for up to eight counties, but I set mine so I only get weather alerts for Genesee County. This radio has a battery back-up so it would be great for camping (not that I do that any more!).

According to the manual the National Weather Service sends out a weekly test message every Wed. It's text only (and the yellow light comes on) so I missed it. I guess I'll find out if the audio alert works when the next thunderstorm hits!

UPDATE: July 27.
We had a severe thunderstorm warning tonight and the alert never sounded on my weather radio! I double-checked the programming, took out the batteries and re-programmed it, and had a friend (who is familiar with weather radios) double-check it for me. Neither of us could find anything wrong. It works fine if you want to listen to a weather report any time, but doesn't give alerts, even when it's set to give alerts for all counties, not just Genesee. I'm going to return it and get my money back! If I do get another weather radio, it won't be this model and if I can find a different brand, I will buy it instead.

Festival of Flags 2007

Today is the first day of Davison's annual Festival of Flags. A parade on Main Street, an ice cream social at the fire hall, and fireworks in the park kick off the activities. For a complete schedule of everything that's happening between now and Sunday refer to The Davison Index or the Chamber of Commerce web sites.

The festival is one of the many things I like about living in a small town. My only complaint it the timing. Since it's the the Festival of Flags and Davison is the City of Flags, I think the festival should take place on an appropriate holiday, like Flag Day or Independence Day.

The Festival used to always be on Flag Day until some wimp complained that it was too cold in June to sit in the beer/entertainment tent at night. In June! That person must no longer live in Michigan if he or she think June is cold. Now the Festival is at the end of July, when it's always hot and humid. Hope the whiner is happy now that the rest of us are miserable in the hot, sticky weather!

Even if it's hot and humid, the Festival of Flags is always worth attending. I can hardly wait for Art in the Park this weekend.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Wow! I won't post any spoilers but I was very pleased with the book. It lives up to the hype, it wraps up every loose end in the series, and is very satisfying. I especially like the climactic battle(s) and the Epilogue.

I'm just sad that it's the last book. Oh, Jo, please change your mind and write more!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Two More Days...

Just two more days until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! I'm so excited I can hardly wait. Muggle Net has a clock counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds to midnight Friday night/Saturday morning. (I'm surprised The Leaky Cauldron does not have a count-down, too!)

Need something to tide you over until book 7, but you've re-read books 1-6, and re-watched all the movies? Check out the Harry Potter Wiki or J. K. Rowling's web site. I expect both will be quite busy over the next few day!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer Vacation

I’m really enjoying my summer vacation. Every day I wake up and I think, "Wow, I don't have to go to work or grade papers today!" I really needed this break.

Yesterday I finished physical therapy for my tendonitis. I’m doing everything they tell me (a LOT less typing, daily strengthening exercises, medication, etc.) and hoping for the best. To keep away from the computer, I’ve doing lots of needlework (counted cross-stitch and needle punch) while watching DVDs and TV shows Mom or I taped during the school year, and reading.

I've also had time for several visits to my favorite needlework shop, Stitches 'n' Things, in it's new location (Fenton). God, I miss having it just a few blocks away! It's worth the drive though, since they have the best products and service in the state. It's fun to look at all the new patterns and see what everyone is working on. Of course, I've bought quite a few new patterns and all kinds of supplies.

You may be wondering why doing needlework doesn't aggravate my tendonitis. It's because I have two cool stands so I can work without holding the frame in my left hand: a floor stand for larger pieces and a lapstand for smaller pieces. (I'd link to the company but their site is down. I hope they are still in business because their products are excellent!) Right now I'm working on lots of little projects involving my favorites things to stitch: cats, Halloween, and Christmas.

The cats are great about keeping me company, especially when my husband is at work. Sophie likes to lay on my lap (when she’s not bouncing around like a kitten!) and will do so even if I’m doing needlework. She likes to get under the frame and bat at the thread! Saffron has never been very cuddly, so when she is in a cuddly mood, it’s special. She likes to stay where she can see me and some days doesn’t want to me out of her sight. On those days she even follows me to the bathroom!

I’m also working on some long-awaited research projects. I'm expanding the Frodo paper I presented at last year's Mythcon (the annual conference of The Mythopoeic Society). As part of my research I'm reading part of Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth (12 vols. of his father’s notes and drafts of everything); Vols. 6-9 are the drafts of The Lord of the Rings. I’ve found a few things that apply to my Frodo paper, but it’s just fascinating watching JRRT’s writing process and watching the story develop from the children’s-book-sequel to The Hobbit into the book we know and love. Some weird bits from the early drafts:
  • Frodo’s original name was Bingo Bolger-Baggins (thank God JRRT changed that!)
  • Aragorn was originally a Hobbit ranger called Trotter
  • Treebeard was an evil giant who was responsible for Gandalf’s delayed arrival in Rivendell
  • The Riders of Rohan were servants of Saruman
  • Aragorn married Eowyn
Weird, eh?

Speaking of books, only a few more days until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know what I'll be doing this weekend! :) I can hardly wait to see what happens, and if I guessed correctly (refer to my post on HP).

Books, Cats, Needlework ... life is good.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Hula Chair

I recently saw a commercial for the funniest weight loss product I've ever seen: The Hula Chair! You sit and the base of the chair moves in a circle, simulating a hula dance, and no doubt leading to tight abs. I can't believe anyone would buy this thing!

For specs, video, etc. on the Hula Chair and other hilarious products, refer to Weight Loss Gadgets for the Lazy and Unmotivated.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Funny Ads

I got these old ads from a former student and they are so funny I had to post them here! (Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

My mom-in-law remembers the "More Doctors Smoke Camels" ad but we aren't sure the others are real. They are hilarious, not to mention politically incorrect, whether they are true or not!

How times (and ads) have changed, eh?

Friday, July 06, 2007

R.I.P. Captain America

Have you heard the news?! Captain America Buried at Arlington National Cemetery. What is wrong with these writers? They can't kill Cap! He symbolizes our country, so what are they saying about our country?

They didn't even kill him heroically: "He was headed to court after refusing to sign the government's Superhero Registration Act, a move that would have revealed his true identity. A sniper who fired from a rooftop was captured as police and Captain America's military escort were left to cope with chaos in the streets."

If he's going to die, Cap should die saving the President or doing something equally heroic. Apparently the writers are more interested in writing about the grief, depression, etc. caused by the death of a beloved American superhero.

My husband tells me to be patient because the comic industry is notorious for undoing stories like this. He's right but it still frustrates me. Many comics are very well-written with complicated and sophisticated story lines that enjoy, but I quit reading them when the writers had Silver Age Green Lantern Hal Jordan go insane and kill the entire Green Lantern Corps. He then redeemed himself by sacrificing himself to save Earth but it made me so mad I couldn't wait several years for them to undo the story, so I stopped reading.

At least I know Cap got a really good funeral and he'll be back ... eventually.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! Celebrate freedom and remember our troops today!

God Bless the USA - Lee Greenwood

Courtesy of the Red White and Blue - Toby Keith

America We Stand as One - A Tribute