Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Anime Christmas

I can't believe I haven't posted since the 11th of December! Busy with work and life in general! Yesterday after work I went by a friend's house for our Friday anime night. LOL We didn't get around to watching much anime, just talking and enjoying the company of friends. I've got a few pictures of the gifts that I gave this year. I went with an Japanese theme of course :)

Just a group shot of all the gift bags, a gift card for Books-A-Million, and 50 Things We Love About Japan book! Everyone with the gift bags got the same book in addition to the items below. I didn't get the one guy in our group the same gifts, just a gift card because I knew he wouldn't like the girly-ness below ^__^

For the girls' gifts, I got each of them a different colored/themed Hello Kitty bento box filled with Japanese fruit gummies and hard candy. Don't you just love this cute bento box! It is two-tier and small; perfect for snacks or a small salad and veggies! They all got a box of strawberry Pocky, the same book, and a cell phone charm. Each cell phone charm was different depending on what anime they favored :) The cell charm in this photo is a cute Totoro with an acorn; it is from the anime My Neighbor Totoro. I love Studio Ghibli films, Hayao Miyazaki is a brilliant visionary when it comes to Japanese anime.

One of my friends absolutely LOVES Sailor Moon anime/manga series! She collects anything dealing with SM. It's a pity that the series' license expired in the U.S. and it is no longer in print! I found a lovely cell charm on eBay that has a picture of all the Sailor Scouts on it. Her bento box has Hello Kitty in front of a castle :)

LOL My other friend loves D-Grayman so I got her a cute charm with the character Allen Walker. He is always eating so I thought this charm was perfect! The manga for this series is good; hopefully a U.S. company will pick up the anime series! Her bento box has Hello Kitty in front of a little town ^__^ Too cute!

A picture of my stash of gifts from the girls in my anime group! I got the latest issue of the Gothic/Lolita Bible put out by TokyoPop in the U.S. and a lovely antique-ish brooch with amethyst and diamond-like stones from one friend. A beautiful statue of a Japanese geisha holding a piece of embroidery in her hand! The girl that got it for me also cross stitches so it was a thoughtful gift. My other friend got me a keychain with the character Irvine Kinneas from Final Fantasy 8, one my favorite FF games and some stickers from the Clamp series Magical Rayearth.

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Temperatures changing constantly, a rain cloud or two, and you have the perfect recipe for the common cold. This is the second one in the space of a month that I’ve come down with so far and I’m blaming it on changing temperatures inside and outside. I’m lucky it isn’t what I usually come down with during the months of November or December, bronchitis <-- very evil!!! I think my only saving grace from bronchitis this year is the fact that I’m no longer in school and don’t have to worry about catching it from someone sitting near me during class! LOL Now all I have to worry about is the spreading of office germs!!

So with all these silly colds, I haven’t been stitching much lately if at all. I’ve heard of people who can still stitch or knit while being sick, but I’m definitely not one of those people, though it depends on the type of cold. I think in my case, it is the medicine I’ve been taking….makes me sleepy all the time. At the end of the workday, I just go home and watch TV or a movie and go to sleep. I have no energy to stitch, which is sad because I would love to finish my Elements sampler this month. I tried to stitch on it over the weekend, but the dragon I’m working on……was overwhelming. There are only two thread colors on this sampler, but the dragon has both of them together and I shouldn’t have tried to read my chart after taking cold medicine. All the squares kept running together so I put my cross-stitch away!

Despite my crazy cold and the sleep-inducing medicine (I think they mislabeled it non-drowsy), my aunt and I were able to go by Pensacola to my LNS on Saturday and get a few pieces framed for Christmas. Kathy at Needle Delights was very helpful about giving advice for mat colors and showing my aunt and I how those mats and certain frames help to make colors ‘pop out’ in my stitched pieces. We were very much indebted to Kathy for taking our order for the frames. Somehow I had missed the email about the framing deadline, but she was nice enough to put us in the order that she was making that week to get pieces framed for Christmas!!!!

I can’t wait to pick them up this weekend! They will cost a small fortune, but it will be worth it to see Christmas Tea and the JBW dog design framed!!! By the way, did you guys see the amazing job that Carolina Dreams did on her Christmas Tea pattern? She had the right color linen, unlike my platinum linen, so her colors really ‘popped.’ I also like the frame she painted for her piece.

Oh, by the way, I was actually good this time when I went to Needle Delights. My aunt and I talked to Kathy about frames and then we browsed the store. I promised myself that I would not buy any more patterns until I had finished what was in my stash at home! LOL I kept my promise! My self-control actually worked this time! I only bought some light mocha cashel linen by Zweigart for two Little House Needlework designs that I want to work on next year after I finish my Elements sampler. I also bought a few skeins of thread that the patterns called for that weren’t your average DMC colors.

In other news, I am almost done with my Christmas shopping. I still have one aunt to buy for and an uncle who never gives anyone a list for Christmas. I’m totally at a loss as to what I should get him. He has been talking about wanting a Kindle, but they are so expensive, and luckily sold out on Amazon so none of us has to even consider it as a Christmas gift!!! <-- That would have definitely been a joint gift with several people chipping in to afford it!!

Now what? I still don’t have a clue. LOL Typical gift-buying dilemma, you always know what to get for your aunts/mothers, etc., but never the guys in the family. Well, I’ll think of something, especially since my sister and I are going to Pensacola on Saturday to pick up my framed pieces. We were thinking of going to their mall and looking for Christmas gifts. Pensacola’s malls are so much better than Mobile’s malls, which contains more jewelry and shoe stores than should be allowed! Though I will say that at least we have the Eastern Shore Centre across the bay that is nice. Reminds me of Staines’ outdoor shopping centre in England!

Happy Stitching or Shopping!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book geek!

Guess what I got in the mail today?

Emma goodies!

As I mentioned in previous posts, one of my favorite manga/anime series is Victorian Romance Emma by Kaoru Mori! I found these animation guides on eBay from a seller in Japan. Of course, the text is in Japanese, but I couldn't resist these books. They feature scenes from the anime series and drawings from the manga!!

My sister and I went by Target this evening and we picked up the newest book by J.K. Rowling, which isn't really new when you think about it being in HP 7.

I love the fact that the proceeds from this book's sale goes to charity! The same goes for J.K. Rowling's other smaller books, Quidditch Through the Ages and The Monster Book of Monsters!

Books were on my brain today apparently because I finished reading Mansfield Park on my lunch break at work ^___^ It was the only book I hadn't read of Jane Austen's books!

What am I going to read next? Well, for starters, The Tales of Beedle the Bard and then maybe Polite Lies, a Japanese memoir.

LOL And yes, I will get back to stitching soon!! This week I've been getting house work done after I come home from work. Good way to get things done now and not let them pile up for the weekend!!

Happy Stitching or Reading ^______^

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A flurry of snowflakes :)

I finally got around to finishing Christmas Tea by Plum Street Samplers!

Design: Plum Street Samplers, 'Christmas Tea'
Thread: Belle Soie threads, DMC Perwinkle?
Fabric: 32 ct platinum linen
Finished: 7/26, 29, 31 and 8/10-11, 12/1-2/2008

The Vanilla Pudding color was nice, but it didn't show up on my platinum linen so I decided on a blue color for the snowflakes :) I never got a chance to go by Needle Delights and chose another color of Belle Soie so I decided last night to just go with a DMC color :) I chose a light blue, I'm thinking it is a perwinkle color....I'll have to look it up and see what the number is O_o"

Now I just have to make a trip to Pensacola to get my stitched pieces framed!!!

Happy Stitching ^___^

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving stitching :)

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving with their families. We had a good Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house. My aunts and uncle joined us for our crazy spread of goodies. LOL One of my aunts made some non-traditional items for our dinner in addition to everything else such as stuffed mushrooms (yummy), deviled eggs, and two desserts, cheesecake and chocolate cake!!!

With a four-day weekend I managed to get a lot of stitching done!

Almost finished with my Feu block!! Just a few more motifs left :)

Sorry about the dim lighting!!!

LOL My stitching movies ^___^

Since the past few days have been dismal in terms of weather (lots of rain and wind), I sat in the dining room and stitched away while watching a few period drama film/series!! LOL I'm a period drama geek, which my family can attest to with the Christmas list I came up with this year O_o"

Speaking of period dramas, one of my favorite film companies, Sullivan Co. in Canada, had a Black Friday sale online!!! I bought the entire series of Road to Avonlea for $ about a deal because the set of them usually goes for $280!!!! The same company produced the Anne of Green Gables series, another one of my favorites (the movies and books)!!

I know I shouldn't be spending money on myself, but I thought if I'm going to buy one big thing for myself this year it was going to be this series. My sister and I used to love watching this series on the Disney Channel when we were kids. We didn't get to finish the series though :( We didn't have cable when we were little so we had to wait for the channel to be 'free' for a month or so and we would watch what episodes we could before the channel wasn't free anymore. I love how the Disney Channel is a free channel with TVs now ^___^

I can't wait for my dvd sets to come in the mail!!! It will be something nice to watch while stitching on my Elements sampler. I have two more small motifs, a bit of the alphabet, and a large dragon to finish in the Feu block and I'll have that one done :) I'm hoping I can finish this sampler by the end of the year. I think I'll be able to do so as long as I stitch everyday :)

I want to work on some small-sized patterns next year in my stash instead of starting on my other French sampler by Anagram Diffusion called Saisons. I have a few Little House Needleworks patterns I would love to stitch up :)

Happy Stitching everyone ^___^

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feu update and mags :)

I haven't stitched that much this week. I got a cold last weekend while mowing the the cold air. I'm finally getting over it after a lot of cold medicine, Kleenex, juice, and soup.

I did get some stitching done on my Feu block while watching my grandmother this weekend.

Feu block! Sorry about the wrinkles, I just removed the Q-snaps when I took some photos O_o"

I had a chance on Saturday morning to go by my local bookstore and buy some craft mags :)

The Cross-Stitch and Needlework magazine for January 2009 has a lovely Christmas biscornu pattern that I would love to start stitching. I need to go to my LNS and get some nice fabric and threads for it :) The latest issue of Piecework has an interesting article about the history of Oriental embroidery/cross stitch. It also has two charts that can be reproduced for personal use!!!

Happy Stitching ^___^

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Safety first!

I just got an email from a friend of mine who lives in CA to let me know that her family is ok with all the fires in southern CA. She said she and her mom had things packed up in case they had to evacuate the area.

I hope everyone is being safe with these fires. Personal possessions can always be replaced, human lives cannot. If you live in area that might be at risk of fires, kept photos, etc. in a box along with your important papers that can easily be picked up and put in your car when you evacuate. If your local law enforcement officers tell you to evacuate, please do so!!

Wishing safety to all those in CA who are dealing with wildfires!


Last weekend I bought several holiday baking magazines from my local bookstore. I was hoping to bake something that weekend, but didn't have the right size pans?! LOL So earlier this week, I had to make a stop at Target to pick up a 9 x 5 pan in order to make some yummy bread :) It wasn't overly sweet; it is definitely more of a breakfast bread than a sweet dessert bread.

Pardon the crazy drizzle!! LOL My aunt had to tell me the proper way to drizzle icing O_o"

White chocolate blueberry loaf!!

I used the blueberries we froze from our bushes in August. We didn't keep any pecans from our tree so I had to go buy some from the store :(

The Pillsbury Holiday Baking magazine has many great recipes! I might even try to make banana peanut butter bread next time :)

Happy Baking and/or Stitching ^___^

Happy Birthday!!

Today is my aunt's birthday!!! Woohoo!!!

What's in the bag? It's a surprise :) Happy b-day Snowbird! Love ya!!

Hope everyone is having a good Sunday!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Baking goodies!!

I had to go by the store today after we got our grandmother back home to get some groceries for dinner. Look what I found!

Mini-bundt baking pan!

I can never find these types of pans throughout the rest of the year. All the fun baking pans seem to come out during the holidays. Well, unless you make a trip to your local Williams-Sonoma store, which would probably charge you an arm and a leg for the nice baking pans. Not to blast Williams-Sonoma, I love that store, but I can't afford them that often unless I save up some money. If I won the lottery I would buy the whole store!!!! ^___^

I can't wait to make some holiday goodies with this pan. I've seen some yummy recipes that use this type of pan, but haven't been able to make them since I didn't have the pan to do so....and now I do :)

Happy Stitching/Baking!!!

Feu block :)

I'm so glad that I've gotten a good amount of my Feu block stitched this week. LOL I'll blame it on the presidential election since I started stitching that night and have been doing so the rest of this week too :)

Not bad for a week's worth of stitching! Like I said, I love the small designs so I can usually move through them quickly.

In other news, my mother and I were planning on going to Pensacola for some shopping, but got sidetracked. My grandmother fell while at church. Luckily it turned out to be just a small crack in her pelvis and not a broken hip, which would be devastating at her age!

We've got her home and she's been told by the doctors to go on bed rest for three days and two weeks of rest around the house. I know she would love to be up and doing her daily routines, but in order to heal she's got to follow the doctors' orders :)

Happy Stitching!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween decorations and the Costumes of Nerd-dom

I meant to post earlier about the Halloween party I attended on Friday night, but never got around to it O_o”

It did not help that my aunt picked up our computer’s tower on Sunday in order to get it fixed. It was a shame really, because it has been making the same noise for a couple of years and we never found the time to take it and get it fixed. I do not know if it was a glitch in the programming of our tower’s fan, but it would make the most awful noise while the computer was running. It sounded as if we had a small airplane in our living room!!! Luckily, my mother had bought a replacement fan for the tower ages ago in the hopes of installing it herself so the person who installed it for us only charged $35 for his time and labor.

You would not even guess it was the same computer now because it is SILENT!!! Amazing! With our computer back, I can finally post about the Halloween party with the pictures I took of the decorations. To be Internet conscious, I will not post pictures of my friends though they had some fabulous costumes. I will try to find the pattern my aunt used to make my dress so you can at least get an idea of what I wore to the party.

My sister and her friend did a marvelous job with the decorating, inside and out. The front yard was home to several creepy foam gravestones with spider webs attached. To decorate the solitary tree in their front yard, they had cut wooden square boards and nailed them into a step formation up the tree. They carved out several pumpkins and placed one on each board. It was very nice! I give them props for the inventiveness of carving a pumpkin to resemble Jack from the Nightmare before Christmas!!! The backyard had no decorations, but did have a nice area set aside for a small bonfire later that night.

My sister and her friend chose voodoo as their theme for Halloween decorations. With that in mind, they decorated the dining room table with the most amazing assortment of voodoo-ish items and candles.

The rest of the house was decorated in white sheets, used candles, and cobwebs to give the impression that the house had been neglected except for voodoo magic in the dining room.

As I mentioned earlier when I posted pictures of the Halloween invites, the guests to the party were nerds whether some of them wanted to admit or not. (Techies are nerds too; I do not how much you argue against it!!!)

With that in mind, along with those of the party who were movie buffs, we had some interesting costumes!!

Anime Club Costumes

1. Marie Antoinette from The Rose of Versailles = I went as Marie Antoinette even though my costume was actually colonial American. It fit the type of clothing seen throughout America and the Old World during that time so I went with Marie Antoinette. One of my favorite Japanese animation series is a shoujo storyline from the 1970s called The Rose of Versailles. When I saw the pattern at Joann’s Fabric a couple of years ago, I thought the dress would have been something that the character would have worn in the Japanese series when she first came to Versailles and was not yet influenced by the need for latest fashions. The dress was indicative of Marie’s simplicity, innocence, and youth.

2. Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist = Another girl in our anime club went as Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist. I have never watched the series, as I am not a fan of action series. I am definitely a shoujo girl. My friend’s costume was very good. She even had a yellow wig to complete the ensemble.

3. She-Ra = By far one of the nerd-est costumes we had at the party. My friend’s mother had made it for her when she in high school and wanted to go as She-Ra for Halloween that year!! LOL Complete with headband and gold boots!!

Nerd Herd Costumes

1. V from V for Vendetta = Our host’s husband has a ‘nerd herd,’ which is our affectionate term for his D&D group. This group is also a bunch of movie buffs so the costumes were great. I have yet to watch this movie even though my sister swears it is amazing. One amusing story of the night, ‘V’ answered the door wearing his mask and one of the trick-or-treaters asked who he was. He kept trying to explain who he was, but it was lost on the minds of seven year olds :)

2. Construction worker = Nerd herd guy wearing jeans, muscle shirt, and a hard hat!! LOL Spur of the moment costume, I think ;)

3. Sky pilot = Most inventive costume of the night. The construction worker’s girlfriend loves the Dr. Who series on BBC so she went as a sky pilot. Complete with goggles and a tattered Victorian-like skirt and blouse to suggest that she had been flying around forever!

Techie Costumes (more spur of the moment)

1. Plastic surgeon = Our late guests did not have costumes so they had to go and pick up materials to make theirs!! One guy came as a plastic surgeon with green scrubs and head cap. He also brought a fake stethoscope and a pair of gloves.

2. Risky Business' Tom Cruise = The funniest costume of the night. White shirt, shorts, socks, and sunglasses. He actually ran and slid across the dining room floor to the amusement of my sister and her friends!

Hostesses’ Costumes

1. Pirate captain = My sister went as a pirate captain with a cute dress she bought online. She also wore an eye patch :)

2. Magician assistant = My sister’s friend dressed up as a magician’s assistant with black pants, white shirt, and red tie. It was cute!

Non-nerd Costume (Artist, does that qualify as nerd-ish?!)

1. Spartan = One of my sister’s friends from work showed up to the party. He dressed up as a Spartan in a crimson chit┼Źn with gold edges and sandals. I do not where he got the idea to go as a Spartan, but it was a great costume.

I think a best costume award should have gone to She-Ra. It was by far the best costume just for shear fact that it was a throwback to our childhoods in the 80s and we could all relate to it.

LOL I am not sure if our Spartan friend got the reference because a) he is Canadian (his words, not mine!) and b) a child of late 80s. He told my sister that he had never heard of Rainbow Brite or the Care Bears. Granted, he’s a guy and probably wouldn’t have been interested in watching those cartoons, but come on……surely he should have known who they were!! I definitely do not blame it on him being Canadian either; I couldn’t believe he would bring that up?! I think he is just too young to relate.

So overall, we had a great time passing the time amongst our fellow nerds. Where else can you get a diverse conversation ranging from BBC films, Japanese animation/culture, Dr. Who, amongst other things?!

A Historical Day

What a day! My sister and I got up early this morning to cast our ballots before heading to work. The amount of people waiting to vote when we got to our local polling place at 6:30 am was amazing. Of course, it does not compare to the crowds in NY, CA, and other big states, but for Mobile, AL it was quite a line. In 2004, it only took me a couple of minutes to walk in, cast my ballot, and leave, while this time it took my sister and I an hour to vote.

My dear aunt Snowbird and her husband arrived at the voting place earlier in the morning and we saw them leave after casting their ballots. As we were leaving, our mother was waiting in line since she had to be to work later this morning.

I will not begrudge the time I stood in line to vote, it was definitely worth it to see the masses of people who were ready to change their state and/or country one way or the other tonight. Several issues on our county’s ballot were of importance to our education and transportation systems and I was glad to see people in line reading up on them in their newspapers or on the mock ballots before voting.

It definitely makes you think that many issues go unchecked when it comes to our ability to decide on them. I will readily admit that I am guilty of not voting in the everyday elections of our county. We automatically assume that enough people of similar mind will vote for us. It is quite a bad way to decide our state/county’s issues when you think about it. However, there have been several times this year when I would have voted on issues pertaining to annexes in our city, but could not do so because of voter districts. I have to say that politicians can be sneaky when it comes to drawing up those boundaries and declaring who is ‘affected’ by the issue and so gaining the right to vote on the issue. I will not go into specifics because I am sure every county does the same sort of thing to ensure that their issue is passed whether it pertains to the citizens voting or not.

In other news, I have been working on my Elements sampler. I have gotten one motif stitched up and almost a centaur with his crossbow finished in the Feu block. I am sure to get more done tonight while listening/watching election coverage on CNN.

Happy stitching everyone!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Japanese yumminess :)

My favorite seller on Ebay had the most recent volume of Stitch Ideas! I instantly purchased it and have been waiting impatiently all weekend for it to come in the mail.

I got home tonight from work and it was waiting for me :)

LOL I haven't even looked at it yet!! With that said, I gotta go and look at the yumminess!!

Happy Stitching everyone!!

An Utter Disaster!

What a devastating night for fans of Terry Goodkind’s fantasy series Sword of Truth when they sat down to view his world through the eyes of Sam Raimi, the director of the series’ TV adaptation called the Legend of the Seeker.

I got into the Sword of Truth series a couple of years ago when I was an undergrad. Debi, a friend I worked with, had gotten me the first book for my birthday. She told me that her sister had read all the books that had been published up to that point and that she loved the series. Her sister was trying to get her to read them, but since Debi did not have the time to sit down and read them, she bought the first book for me.

At the time, I did not have time to read them. I was in the midst of almost graduating and trying to get through my last couple of classes. I did not pick up the Wizard’s First Rule until a few months later after I had graduated and had time to devote to reading for pleasure. Granted, it took me a bit to get into the book, what with all the descriptions of the woodlands, but once I got into the lives of Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd, I could not stop reading.

I just recently finished reading the final installment in the series entitled The Confessor and I have to say that I wish Terry Goodkind had continued with the series, but on the other hand, I am happy to know that he has decided to write another fictional series, if not fantasy-based.

I actually got my mother to ‘read’ the books, which is to say, I bought the books on CD for her. With two jobs, she doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to reading even though she loves to read (which she passed on to her nerd-ish daughters!) so books on CD are great for her to listen to while driving to work :)

So with our love of Terry Goodkind’s fantasy world of the Midlands, D’hara, and Westland, my mother and I sat down last night to watch the two hour premiere of the TV adaptation, praying that it would live up to our expectations.

To say that the adaptation was disappointing is only the beginning. For me, this adaptation is on PAR with the Eragon movie, which means it was terrible. While yes, you can enjoy the Eragon movie by itself as a stand-alone film, if you have read the books it does not compare in the slightest. (Yet another rant I could go into, but won’t!)

From the start, our expectations were dampened slightly by the lead actor they had cast as Richard Cypher, the main character of the entire series. While the actor they chose was handsome, he was too young and willowy for the descriptions of Richard. The leading lady who plays the character of Kahlan Amnell didn’t live up to the ideal of a Mother Confessor. If it was my decision, I might have chosen Cate Blanchett because at least she would have portrayed the leadership and command qualities that are evident in the novel. Honestly, she isn’t meant to be a temptress running through the Westland woods, looking sexy. Her life’s mission is to protect the citizens of the Midlands from the threat of Darken Rahl’s rule. Her sole purpose in braving the Boundary, a magical wall dividing the Midlands and Westland, is to seek out Zedd so that he may name the Seeker, i.e. the only person who can defeat Darken Rahl.

With temptresses in mind, the plot of the book was changed considerable for the TV adaptation in order to lure more viewers into the series. While my mother and I could have overlooked the actor/actress choices for the series, we couldn’t take the plot changes!!! (sigh) Richard’s father hasn’t been murdered yet. His brother already knows that Richard isn’t his brother, but an adopted orphan. The Book of Counted Shadows exists and Richard has never seen or read it before. Zedd is a total stranger to him.

Points to be made:

1. Richard’s father had already been murdered. The book, a much better version by far, starts out with Richard wandering the woods of Westland looking for a vine that his father had placed in a bottle before being murdered. Richard assumes that the vine (a plant not native to the Westland) might be a clue to whoever murdered his father.

2. His brother, Michael doesn’t know of anything unusual about Richard; he assumes he is his little brother. Michael is running for Council of Westland and does not share Richard’s thoughts of pursuing the murderer.

3. Kahlan isn’t meant to be a sexy temptress; she’s the Mother Confessor. Richard runs across Kahlan by accident while walking back towards the town of Westland. Kahlan Amnell is being chased by a Quad (a group of four men, sworn assassins of Darken Rahl) because she is the last obstacle in his way to ruling all of the Midlands. He helps Kahlan eliminate the Quad and persuades her to allow him to take her to Zedd.

4. Richard has known Zedd since he was a child. He was like a second father to him while his own father was away on business trips trading/selling oddities to the rich. Zedd is a bit of oddity himself; he passes himself off as a strange old man who knows about herbal medicine. In fact, he is First Wizard and has been molding Richard for his role as the Seeker since childhood.

5. Oh, and the Book of Counted Shadows doesn’t exist. As a child, Richard’s father made him memorize the book and recite it back to him over many years until he could finally recite the entire book by memory. At that point, his father built a fire and destroyed the book. Richard was told never to reveal the contents of the book to others.

I won’t go any further about the plot differences between the TV adaptation and the book because it makes my brain hurt just to contemplate the silliness of directors. I guess they need the Xena and Hercules audiences to approve of this series so they’ve changed many things, but I would like to point out that those same audiences have many devoted readers of various types of books. While we realize that you can’t always stick to the plot of books line by line, you could at least do us the courtesy of sticking to the main points and changing the minute details. We would appreciate it!!

So to wrap up this long-winded post, if you haven’t read the books, you might enjoy the Legend of the Seeker, but if have read them you’re in for a disappointment!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Hi! I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween ^____^

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween mishaps!!

What a night!! I got my Halloween goodies baked....except for the sugar cookies (I didn't have time!!). Then all sorts of mishaps occurred while trying to assemble everything!!

I baked my brownies in a 13 x 9 inch pan with the intention of cutting them into various Halloween shapes with some cookie cutters I bought from Target. Turns out they were too big and I only got 10 brownies out of that pan!!!! And of course, I didn't have another box of brownie mix!! O_o"

A few are stacked on top of one another! Aren't they cute, though? Despite my big cookie cutter mishap!

I was ever so thankful that I still had my cupcakes to decorate since the box said it would make 24 cupcakes if 2/3 full....LOL so I got 22 :)

Adorable little spider toothpick decorations!!!

Very cute, don't you think? Yes, I thought so too until I tried to put the top tray over the bottom one on my Chefmate cupcake carrier and they got in the way!!!

My spider-less cupcakes :*(

I bought the Chefmate cupcake carrier earlier this evening at Target because I had nothing to carry them in and I was getting tired of the old plate covered with foil method!!! I like my carrier, but I wish it had more head room.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a fun time getting ready for Halloween tomorrow :)

Happy Stitching/Baking :)

Halloween :)

Tomorrow's Halloween!!! Woohoo :)

Tonight I will be busy baking up a storm. As I mentioned earlier, my sister and her friend are hosting a Halloween party so I'm baking some yummies for it :) It will be a hectic night with cupcakes, sugar cookies, and brownies to make. Jeez!! LOL This is when I need a kitchen like Paula Deen's with two ovens!!!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!!! Happy stitching :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Elements update, 50% finished!!

I promised you I would get my Eau block finished by today!! I just stitched the last rows of the the water carrier :)

Sorry about the dark bit on the linen! I had a damp cloth over it while I was ironing it and it hasn't dried yet ^-^"

Close-up of the Eau block!

I think tomorrow I will start the Feu block :) I'm feeling optimistic about possibly finishing this sampler by the end of the year! I just have to keep working on it. I love stitching on the small designs, the larger ones bog me down a bit! It's all good though :)

In other news, I found a neat Jane Austen blog, which is a sister site to Jane Austen's World. The same author writes another blog called Jane Austen Today! I just happened to see it on her sidebar today! I'm so clueless sometimes. I read her blog and didn't notice the sidebar extras?!? Jeez! I can't wait to read through her sister blog. It discusses movie versions of Austen's books and contemporary authors who have started an 'Austen' revolution by writing 'sequels' to the original books and characters. It is quite neat!

Happy Stitching everyone :)

P.S. Yes, Yuko! The Bienvenue design would make a lovely baby gift!! It's a cute design! I stitched it because I love bunnies ^___^

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A welcome from two generations :)

I just remembered yesterday that I promised to take a picture of my aunt's 'Welcome' sign in my grandmother's foyer! I'm so forgetful sometimes O_o"

So pretty!!

My aunt cross stitched this welcome sign in the 1980s, possibly earlier. I quite like it, especially the fabric border! My modern version of a welcome sign is Bienvenue and the French bunnies :) I haven't decided how to frame my stitched piece yet :*(

Who would have thought that as a child I would wander pass the welcome sign for years and later take up cross stitching as an adult?!?!

In other news, I went by our local Fresh Market and instantly met a temptation in the form of gingerbread goodness!!

They were right by the checkout lanes too!!!

These yummy chocolate covered gingerbread cookies come out during the fall....and I can never resist them!! (Sigh)

Happy stitching everyone! Hopefully I can get my Eau block finished on the Elements sampler and have some pics tomorrow :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Long live the Fall season :)

A nip in the air, leaves changing colors, pumpkin patches, and Halloween bliss!! I never want the Fall to end!

But it's Fall?!

Don't you just wish retail stores wouldn't rush us into the next holiday before the last one is finished?! I realize that Halloween is next week, but my local stores have already started to put Christmas items out for sale?!

(Sigh) It makes me miss England. You weren't rushed into a holiday. Halloween wasn't a big deal; a small section of candy at Tesco and a few costumes at Woolworth's, but otherwise it wasn't the big retail opportunity that the U.S. makes it out to be. Christmas, however, was a big deal in the stores, but you didn't have the rush of customers like in the U.S. Maybe it had something to do with living in a small town like Egham where you just had the High Street shops. The only time I saw people frantically out buying presents was in the nearby town of Staines at their outdoor shopping mall or in London if I dared to brave the crowds of Oxford Street!! (Believe me, it isn't a good idea during the holiday season!!)

Despite my complaints about seeing Christmas displays up before Thanksgiving has come and gone, I look forward every holiday to magazines that have recipes or gift ideas for that season's holiday.

I bought these two magazines recently while I was at my local bookstore and Target. For some reason, I can't resist Martha Stewart special edition magazines during the holidays! They draw me to the magazine section every time even if I'm a couple of feet away...I see Martha Stewart goodness on the cover and I pick one up!!

The magazine Victoria started up either late last year or earlier this year, I don't remember, but I do like to flick through the magazine when it comes out to see if they have any good ideas! I bought this issue of Victoria because it had some nice cookie recipes in the back :) Every year, my family bakes a whole bunch of different cookies and other yummies and pack them in Christmas tins. We send them out to our relatives in Michigan. Needless to say, we are always on the hunt for new cookie recipes to try ^___^

So in my denial of the changing holidays, I bought brownie mix, sugar cookie dough, and cupcake mix today so I can bake goodies for my sister and her friend's Halloween party on Friday!!! Take that evil retailers!!! Mwahahaha!!! ^___^

Have a great weekend!

Antiques yet again!

It's that time of the month again for the antique show at our local Shriner's temple and you know I would be there in search of more brooches!!

I was actually quite good this time. I only bought a few brooches from one of my favorite vendors since she had a booth set up this month. Only 2 brooches for myself, one for my aunt, and another is a Christmas present :)

Adorable, don't you think? I've been on the hunt for a cute dog pin as a Christmas gift, but hadn't seen any that caught my eye. I found this one today at the antique show. He has a little frown on his face and patches of mud on his fur. He reminds me of our dog, Sam, who is a crazy chocolate lab puppy! He loves to dig and get dirty after we have given him a bath?! I absolutely love this pin!! Hopefully, the recipient thinks so as well ^-^"

When I purchased this brooch from the vendor she said it was one of her favorite finds. I told her that I had been eyeing it since the August show, but didn't buy it at the time. I promised myself if it was still available I would purchase it :) It is an older brooch with a Oriental dragon above a purple stone. The brooch has a C-clasp. I will not say that the pin is Victorian in date, but most likely a turn of the century brooch.

Cross-stitch stick pins?!?!?!?! WOW!!!!

I know all my fellow cross stitching readers will like these pins. The vendor had about three plastic tubs full of brooches that she didn't have out on display. I asked if I could rummage through them and found these two pins!!

A close-up of the yellow flower design. I want to say that both pins are stitched on 18 ct Aida fabric over one, but I'm still learning the look of various count fabrics so I'm not entirely sure! If anyone can tell me by looking, I would love to know what count the fabric is!! I would have never thought that cross stitch could be used as jewelry pieces. Just goes to show that you learn new things everyday ^__^

Another close-up, this time of the red flower with petals. Unlike the yellow flower pin, this one seems to have some browning on the fabric, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase these unique pins. It was only $10 for the pair. As soon as I got home, I went over to my aunt's house and showed them to her. I let her pick one for herself since she loves to craft as much as I do. She picked the yellow flower pin :)

In other news, I have a wedding to attend this afternoon. One of my aunt's friends from work is getting married so we are driving across the bay to attend. It should be lovely considering we have beautiful blue skies for the first time in a couple of days. My aunt's friend is a crafter as well. Whenever I go to visit my aunt at her workplace, this lady will be either knitting, crocheting, beading, or cross-stitching. I only wish I could be as talented!

Happy stitching!! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

P.S. Many hugs and love going out to my blog friend Yuko!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

North and South

North and South is perhaps one of my all-time favorite historical period dramas produced by BBC films. Oddly enough, the film came to my attention while I was in England. I was bored one night and ran across a video on Youtube, which featured clips of North and South with John Groban’s song ‘Remember When It Rained’ playing in the background. I had to wait half a year until I returned to the U.S. to see the film. I received the dvd as present for Christmas from my mom, who despite her half-hearted complaints, loves period drama films as much as I do.

The story follows the lives of Margaret Hale (one of the novel’s protagonists) and her family as they move from their small southern town in Helstone to the industrial city of Milton in northern England. Her father resigns from his duties as a clergyman because of lingering doubts with himself and the church. His decision to uproot his family and move to the entirely different city of Milton was motivated partly by his friend’s opinions of the city and the fact that Mr. Hale could seek employment as a tutor to wealthy, working class men who wanted to continue with their education.

Whilst there, the Hales have to come to terms with the fact that life in Milton is drastically different from what they had seen in Helstone. While the sorrows of the working class in Helstone were mainly concerned with farming and the land, Milton’s working class dealt with different issues and their working conditions, arguably, were even worse. The lower classes took up various types of employment in the city’s main industry, cotton mills. The hours were long and the wages had been frozen for a couple of years due to the costs of running the mills. The work itself could be potentially dangerous depending on what area of the mill you were assigned to work in. Everyone took a terrible risk by working in the mills because of the ‘fluff,’ i.e. strands of cotton that flew up in the air from the looms and wheels. When ingested, the fluff would settle on the lungs and cause the person to have fits of coughing and difficulty breathing.

Margaret Hale befriends several members of the working class including Bessy Higgins and her father. Bessy had worked in the mills since she was a child and contracted the illness attributed to swallowing fluff. Her father works hard to support his two daughters since their mother had passed away.

Mr. Hale and his family, while appalled by the poverty around them, try their best to provide food and money to poor families in the community when they can afford to do so. In order to provide for his own family, Mr. Hale tutors men in the city who wish to continue their education after having to give up their studies to pursue careers as ‘masters’ or owners of the mills. Mr. Hale is introduced to Mr. John Thornton, the master of Millborough Mills and the novel’s second protagonist, by their mutual friend, Mr. Bell.

Despite the differences in upbringing, temperament, opinions, and social standing, Margaret and Mr. Thornton begin to fall in love and eventually through many obstacles acknowledge one another’s feelings.

After watching the film version with Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage playing the lead characters, I immediately ran to my local bookstore to purchase the book version by Elizabeth Gaskell only to find that no one had the book in stock. As typical of classics, you either find them with ease because high schools or colleges are reading them or not at all because bookstores (sadly) do not carry every classic title in their inventory.

I checked by local libraries including my university’s library and no one seemed to have the book. I did find some of Gaskell’s other books like Mary Barton, Cranford, and Wives and Daughters, but not the one book I was hoping to read! In the end I ordered my copy from Amazon and set out to read it when it finally came in the mail. Of course, I got sidetracked with life’s everyday issues and didn’t get back to the book until a month later, but at least I finished reading it eventually!

I found the endings to the film and the book to be perfect. While noticeably the film version ending showed the physical side of the characters’ passion more so than the book, it still captured the idea that they still had more to overcome to be together, especially with their families. The end of the book while giving a satisfactory ending to the main character’s romance also described the two families’ doubts of a marriage between two people of very different social classes:

‘ – but what will she say?’
‘I can guess. Her first exclamation will be, “That man!”’
‘Hush!’ said Margaret, ‘or I shall try and show you your’s mothers indignant tones as she says, “That woman!”’
North and South
, Oxford World Classic edition, p. 436

My favorite lines:

From the book:

Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!’
‘Not good enough! Don’t mock my own deep feelings of unworthiness.
’ p. 436

(Mr. Thornton shows Margaret some roses he picked from Helstone)
I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.

From the film:

Margaret: “I believe I’ve seen hell and it’s white, snow white.”

I felt this was a poignant statement on the working conditions of factories during the Victorian period. While the factories provided citizens with the opportunity to gain employment and wages to provide for their families, it came with a heavy price of long hours, sometimes low wages, and dangerous working conditions.
Overall, the film version follows the original book quite well. I highly recommend the book to anyone who loves a good classic with social tensions between the classes and a bit of romance. If you’ve read North and South, you would probably like another Victorian classic in the same vein, David Copperfield (yet another one of my faves)!! It calls for a future post so I will not ramble about it this time!

Happy reading or stitching!!

P.S. Thanks, Snowbird, for the spell check :) I don't always catch my mistakes ^___^

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Elements update

I've been working this week on my WIP Elements sampler since I've finished with the French bunny pattern.

Once I finish the lady with the white pitcher, I'll be finished with the Eau section of this sampler and 50% done. I think I will start the Fire section of the sampler next :)

Happy Stitching!

Ah, the British

A couple of days after I finished reading Dewey I made another stop at Barnes and Noble and picked up a book that I thought might be interesting called The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall.

At certain points in the book I was laughing hysterically at some tidbit that I had experienced firsthand during my year in England, I recommend the book to those individuals who have already been to England and just want to enjoy some of the sillier aspects of the British.

Just a few odd things I learned from her book about the British:

1) The members of Parliament amble on about anything that crosses their minds, including discussions on whether aliens exist, their involvement in our planet, and if they are coming back any time soon.
2) Apparently a great many people are drunk in England and like to travel abroad because the beer is cheaper hence the need for the British Embassies to rescue British travelers, i.e. ‘Distressed British Nationals.’
3) The British show false modesty all the time even if they have just won the Nobel Prize for the second time.

While I am sure that America’s government has never had a debate on the existence of aliens, I would say that perhaps our Congressmen/women and Senators would love to have one just to break the monotony of the workday!

America has its share of excessive drinkers though I do not know if our Embassies are nice enough to send rescue parties!!

I will disagree with Lyall’s statement about British modesty being false modesty. I do agree, however, that their modesty comes from upbringing. The idea that Americans are up in your face about their achievements may be true in some people’s cases, but I have to say, on the whole, that we are just as modesty as the British. It all comes down to how you were raised. My sister and I were not raised to brag about our achievements. I cringe at having to talk about my education and experience when asked about them; I downplay them because I feel they are not as high as others. To my family, my achievements might be the ‘greatest thing next to sliced bread,’ but to me, they were just things I wanted to do in my life. I think the British are the same way in doing they own thing in life, LOL and if they want to be modesty about it then let them be.

Overall I think Lyall’s book was a good read, especially if you’ve been to England and have experienced some of the crazier aspects of British life like waiting for a train to move after the conductor apologizes for the delay because of ‘branches falling on the tracks from every which way.’ Or reading a newspaper over a man’s shoulder and suddenly being confronted with a topless woman because apparently nudity is not such a big deal to the British unlike their American cousins who are considered prudes (They should blame it on the Puritans!)!

(sigh) It makes me miss England, LOL not the crazy newspapers, just the culture. It is hard to explain, but for me, the country was a retreat away from the fast-paced world of the U.S. I realize that such a notion is bizarre considering that both countries are relatively on par with one another in the world’s economy, etc., but life just seemed slower and somehow beautifully simplistic compared to my life in the U.S.

The town of Egham, smaller than my own hometown, was one of the nicest places I have had the pleasure of staying in. The locals were friendly despite their town being run over by students from Royal Holloway.

View of Egham during the annual Magna Carta day

So to end this rambling post: If you haven't visited England yet, you will like this book with its generalizations on British culture, and if you have been amongst the British, you'll like it for its funny insider look into the British psyche.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Best of Both Worlds

My sister and I were at our local Barnes and Noble a week ago in search of something new to read (as if we didn’t have a dozen books at home to read!). I was searching the craft section for any new cross-stitch books. To be honest, I always have more luck in the cross-stitch magazine section for something new than the craft book section. The bookstores in town rarely get anything of note in the realm of cross-stitch. If, by chance, they get a new book in stock, it is usually a beginner’s technique book. Of course, that is not a bad thing per se, but I would love a bookstore that had just as many cross-stitch books as say knitting or croquet books!

After wandering away from the sad state of affairs that is the cross-stitch/embroidery shelf of the craft section, my sister comes flying around one of the shelves in search of me. “You must read this!” I glance down to see what book she’s holding and I see an adorable orange kitten staring up at me. I didn’t grab the book from her hands until she said, “He’s a library cat.” LOL I was sold from the moment on; you can pass up cats and libraries in the same sentence, can you?

I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World in the space of two days. It is a heartwarming story of a kitten that had been shoved into a return book bin at the public library in Spencer, Iowa and consequently rescued and raised by the library staff. The librarians named the little orange ball of fluff, Dewey Readmore Books. The book tells the story of how the cat won the hearts of the library’s patrons and in the end, the whole town of Spencer.

If you love cats and libraries as much as I do, you’ll pick up a copy of Dewey at your local bookstore or you might even try to see if your local library has a copy yet!

The Duchess

Well, I finally got to see The Duchess in theaters. I was quite surprised to see that the movie theaters in town actually got this film. There are many movies that we miss every year due to the disinterest of our local theaters. I will not claim to know what criteria the theaters use to gauge their audience’s interests, but apparently, Mobile’s interests lie in the blockbuster films.

I am not sure if The Duchess would be considered a ‘blockbuster’ in Mobile just by the sheer numbers in attendance. I was the first person in the theater for the movie and gradually….perhaps what you would call a snail’s pace, people started to show up for the movie. In the end, only twenty (including myself) people showed up! A young couple and I were the minority, i.e. under 60 crowd.

Judging from the reaction of the young couple, neither of them had read the biography and clearly, the girlfriend dragged her boyfriend against his will. My bookish heart hoped that at least the other 17 older individuals in the theater had read the biography like myself and were anticipating the film version of Georgiana’s life. How would the director/producers portray Amanda Foreman’s biography? Would they focus on Georgiana’s political involvement during the late 1700s? On the other hand, would they focus on her role in influencing the fashion of England? Or perhaps take the typical view of Hollywood and choose Georgiana’s gambling debts and rumors of her lesbianism to portray as her life’s main points and completely bypass her involvement in politics?

Instead of focusing on just one of those elements, they chose to portray all those points in some form during the course of the film. The director/producers main element was the love affair between Georgiana and Charles Grey. An element that I wouldn’t have chose to portray if it was my film to produce. While surely, the love affair between Georgiana and Charles was a great episode in her life, she wasn’t known only as Charles Grey’s lover, but an influential force in the world of the ton and politics.

Hopefully, I am not wrong on this point, but I think the author’s point in writing a biography on ‘yet another member of the upper classes’ in England was because Georgiana wasn’t just ‘another member’ of her class. She transcended her gender and class’ expectations for that time period. In truth, she wasn’t the only woman during that time to participate in politics, but she was by far the most successful of her contemporaries.

The influence of aristocratic women in politics would not be duplicated again until the 20th century. Women during the 19th century had little involvement in politics due to the attitudes of their male contemporaries. They considered a woman’s role in society to be that of the home and family. Georgiana and her contemporaries would have been a cautionary tale that politicians of the 19th century spoke of in hushed voices.

Despite the film’s producers taking the road of drama/romance with Amanda Foreman’s biography, I could enjoy the film as a stand-alone period piece (once I stopped checking the film against the biography in my mind!) with endless amounts of eye-candy in the form of gorgeous dresses, outrageous hairstyles, and historical settings!

Every art historian should see the film in order to see the costume designer’s reproduction of the Gainsborough hat. After seeing Georgiana’s portrait at Gainsborough, women flocked to their nearest millinery, desperate for what they called the ‘picture hat.’ Likewise, every historian should see the film for something I thought was priceless: the Duchess of Devonshire and Charles Grey lying in bed, reading a newspaper in Bath and commenting on the illustrations that were mocking Georgiana’s role in politics!

What can I say about the historical settings besides beautiful? One of the Duke of Devonshire’s residences was a magnificent estate called Chatsworth in Derbyshire; it is shown in the film. Just the word ‘Chatsworth’ makes me giddy. One of my local museums in town had an exhibition on Chatsworth and its collection of artifacts. It was breathtaking; I saw it twice!

While I was in England, I did not have a chance to visit Chatsworth. I was taking courses at the time and a weekend trip to Chatsworth was a bit of a hassle with finding a good time to take a train from Egham to London and then on to Chatsworth. While you could probably see all of it in a day once you arrive (assuming you’ve spent the insane amount of money on an early train to get there), it makes more sense to stay a day or two in order to really take in the experience of the estate and the town. Needless to say, I promised myself that when I go back to England in the future I would make arrangements to stay in Chatsworth for a couple of days.

With its vast amounts of historical eye-candy, is The Duchess worthy as a period drama? Can you watch the film without having read the biography? Yes, to both questions. I am rarely disappointed by the creative team at BBC films. If you like your period dramas with star-crossed lovers, an evil tyrannical husband, massive amounts of historical eye-candy, and a not so-conventional ending you have come to the right theater for a movie!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lovely Halloween invitations

This year my sister and her friend have decided to host a costume party for Halloween. Everyone has ransacked their local stores in search of costume ideas. My sister has ordered hers and is impatiently waiting for it to arrive in the mail. I ordered a hoop skirt and Marie Antoinette wig and they have already arrive through the mail. I decided to 'recycle' a costume that I wore a couple of years ago to the first Halloween party my sister and her friend hosted.

It is a colonial dress made of pale blue satine fabric and creme-colored lace. My sister and I pestered our aunt to make our Halloween costumes that year and I chose a pattern from Simplicity's historical patterns. My sister chose Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I will have to take a picture of the dress! I wish I knew someone who owned a dress-form. It would be great to show off the dress. One year I was hoping to get my aunt one for Christmas, but they are extremely expensive. I think it would be more economical to buy an antique dress-form instead of the modern expensive ones! O_o"

My sister and her friend have been planning their Halloween party for two months now! They have bought decorations for the party and a few to adore the front yard. My sister and I have helped with the budget by helping to buy some of the candy for the trick-or-treaters that will show on Halloween :)

In addition to the decorations, they have outdone themselves on the invitations for the party. Everyone invited has a mask invitation.

This is my invitation for the party! Isn't it gorgeous? I love it.

Another interesting creation! This mask is an invitation for the anime club I belong to. Yes, I will admit that I belong to 'anime club.'

What is an anime club, you ask? Well, a friend of mine hosts an anime night every Friday and we meet and watch an anime series or a live-action series and continue every Friday until we finish a series. The girl who hosts these anime nights lived in Japan for three years while she worked for a branch of an American bank in Tokyo.

I hope everyone likes the invitation masks! I can't wait for Halloween. I'll have more pics of the decorations and the costumes!

Have a great week! Happy Stitching!