Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bento Box!

I’ve been quite forgetful lately about posting about things I wanted to share with everyone! Before Christmas, I had bought several bento boxes for my friends as part of a Japanese-themed gift for each of them. While doing so I purchased a cute bento box set that is decorated with pink strawberries! The set came with a two-tiered bento, a single bento, a cup, a fork and holder, a set of chopsticks, and an onigiri box!

LOL I’ve used everything in the set so far except for the cup, chopsticks and onigiri box. The cup is quite cute, but I couldn’t imagine using it at work while eating lunch?! I can use chopsticks, but when I do so I concentrate too much on using them and eat rather slowly. I’ve been using my bento boxes to carry my lunch to work, which has usually been salad, a variety of veggies, or tuna.

I haven’t had an opportunity to make any rice balls. I think I might purchase some rice molds online eventually. I realize that making rice balls by hand isn’t that hard, but I’m a disaster in the kitchen unless I’m baking so any extra help, like rice molds, is much appreciated!!! I’ve seen some good recipes online for fillings to place inside the rice balls.

If I’m not mistaken, onigiri is made with a type of rice called sticky rice, which is also used in sushi. If you are a bit hesitant about trying sushi because you don’t like the idea of consuming raw meat, you can always try the vegetarian types. I love vegetarian sushi since I am one of those people who are hesitant about raw meat. While I was in Egham, the local Tesco store sold packages of vegetarian sushi for 99p. Yummy!

Speaking of sushi, sticky rice, and the like, I read an article online that said that the Japanese actually have something called rice burgers! Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Especially with lots of vegetable toppings!

While writing this post, I was trying to think of a word and checked Merriam-Webster’s website. They have a wonderful feature called an ‘open dictionary’ where you can submit your own words. I quite like the word that was featured today:

forgetful speech syndrome (noun) : the time when you think of something to add to your conversation, but the person you're having a conversation with is talking so much that by the time you get to speak, you completely forgot what you were going to say.
"Stop talking or I'll forget what I was going to say. You know I have forgetful speech syndrome!"

LOL I am guilty of the ‘forgetful speech syndrome,’ especially when my sister and I start talking! I definitely think this noun should be submitted into the English dictionary for the sheer fact that everyone has had this happen to them at one time or another!

Have a great rest of the week ^____^

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A tricky situation…

Yesterday, my sister and I were walking towards my car in the parking lot of our local Target store when a lady and her daughter came up to us all of the suddenly with a bunch of fake flowers. My sister started to tell the lady that we didn’t have any cash on us, but the lady said, “Excuse me,” and my sister stared at her for a fraction of a second and said, “Go ahead.” The lady then proceeded to tell us that she didn’t mean us any harm, but she needed money. Again, we told her that we didn’t have any cash on us and she said ok and bee-lined in the direction of a woman putting her cart away across the parking lot.

If she startled us by coming seemingly out of nowhere, I’m sure the lady putting her cart away was going to have a shock, especially since she was by herself.

I was only in England for a year, but I rarely came across a situation where someone came up to me and begged for money. Sure, I gave money to individuals who were playing their instruments in the corridors of the Underground and occasionally to the Poppy Appeal when I saw a jar for money, but I never saw individuals begging for money in parking lots. The only time I witnessed someone begging for money was while I was on a return train to Egham from London with the rest of the five o’clock crowd.

A disheveled looking man was going through our car and saying, “Merry Christmas everyone! I don’t mean to bother anyone, but I need some money to pay for my next train fare. Merry Christmas!” Ok, I’ll say it, maybe I’m a na├»ve Yankee, but I started to pull out my coin purse and get some change for the guy when I noticed that no one around me was doing the same. Everyone was avoiding the guy and hastily putting newspapers in front of their faces or burying their noses in a book. By the time he got to my section of seats, I looked away and pretended not to notice the man asking for money.

Not ten minutes later, the conductor’s voice sounded over the intercom of the train and announced that if we see a beggar on any of the trains, we should report them immediately since they usually don’t have a ticket in the first place. By giving money to these individuals, it only encourages them to board trains and beg from one car to the next. Talk about being reprimanded by someone, I didn’t know what to think. On one hand, you want to help the person, but on the other, you don’t want to encourage them to break the law by boarding trains without tickets.

Unlike my stay in England, I never have cash on my person in the U.S. I’m convinced that it must be a cultural aspect of my generation, we either have one or the other, but hardly ever both. We are definitely a ‘plastic’ generation.

So my question is, what do you for people in these situations? You would love to help out, but you also know that it is unlawful for these people to be panhandling in parking lots. And whether you like to admit or not, part of you is thinking that they might be using the money people give them for something other than the necessities of life.

I wish there was an easy answer to my question, but I don’t think there is one. If anything, it would be nice if when security guards see panhandlers in parking lots, they suggest to them any of the local shelters, churches, or food banks in the area that could help out. What do you think? Would that work? Hmm….

Book finish….almost!

Well, I thought I would be able to finish stitching on my LNS Bookshelf design by Friday and have the gold thread stitches done over the weekend. LOL I overestimated my stitching abilities and had less time to stitch then I thought on Saturday. Needless to say, I had everything finished on Sunday but the gold stitches on the books, which reminds me that I need to go by Joann’s Fabrics this weekend and get the thread I’m looking for.

Design: Little House Needleworks, The Bookshelf
Thread: DMC colors
Fabric: 28 ct Cashel Zweigart
Finished: 4 weeks, 1 in December, 3 in January

What do you think? I took this photo this morning before heading off to work. Sorry about the dark photo, not much you can do with natural light when the sun is barely up in the sky! I will have to stash this design away until I can save up the money to get her framed.

I was going to take photos of my stitched design yesterday, but I had a terrible headache that refused to go away regardless of the Tylenol I took and the food I ate when I got home. It was definitely one of those headaches that you need to just lie down and sleep away. I finally gave up watching The Tudors season one and went to bed.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to stitch on my Elements sampler this week. It has been neglected since I’ve was madly stitching away on the Bookshelf design. As much as I love monochrome designs such as the Element sampler, it is nice to stitch on something that has other colors in it.

With my mind on books, have you guys seen the new design by Blue Ribbon Designs called Read Between the Lines? As much as I would love to buy it in order to stitch up some bookmarks, I’m determined to stick to my stitcher’s resolution and only work on designs in my stash.

Also on the subject of books, have you checked out Jane Austen’s World lately? The lovely lady who writes this blog wrote a post about some amazing jewelry that features miniature vignettes of some of the original illustrations for Ms. Austen’s novels. The lady who makes these fabulous bracelets and purse charms is very talented! She has photos of her creations online! My favorite is the Persuasion bracelet! I am sorely tempted to email her and ask about prices for her various pieces.

LOL Enough rambling about book-related nonsense, I don’t want to bore the lot of you with my giddiness over Jane Austen-themed jewelry, especially if you aren’t into her books.

Happy Stitching and/or reading ^____^

Friday, January 23, 2009

A bee….

....must be in my bonnet because I’ve been stitching like a madwoman over the last couple of weeks since the New Year started. I decided to put my Elements sampler aside in order to stitch up a design by Little House Needleworks that I had started before Christmas. As a booklover, I fell in love with their Bookshelf design a couple of months ago when I saw it at my LNS….I had to buy it.

I must say that I can see why Nicole loves their designs so much, they are quite fun to stitch and very pretty. I have stitched everything, but the top portion of the design with the potted plant and the rows of books. Hopefully, I can have it finished by tonight so on the weekend I can run by Joann’s Fabric and pick up the gold metallic thread for the book binding stitches. I couldn’t find the thread when I went by Hobby Lobby several weeks ago to buy the threads for this design.

With those few stitches completely, I’ll be able to take photos of my finished design and post it!! My aunt tells me that there is a framing store in Saraland that everyone in her office who crafts has been raving about. Supposedly, the framing is excellent and the prices are a lot cheaper than other stores in the area. My aunt and I have made tentative plans to take a trip up to see the store in the future.

If you have ever seen The Bookshelf design you will notice the little gate beside the Secret Garden section, I would love to find a frame that is arch-shaped!!! I think it would be lovely beside my bookshelves at home. It would symbolize not only one of my favorite books of all time, The Secret Garden, but also symbolize the essence of books as gateways into other worlds.

Speaking of books, I am awaiting the arrival of a book that I purchased on eBay called A Cut and a Kiss by Anthony Hope. I loved his book The Prisoner of Zenda and couldn’t resist this book when I saw it on eBay!!!

Happy Stitching everyone ^___^

Inauguration Day!

I was lucky enough to have a boss that would allow my fellow coworkers and I to stop for a moment and watch the swearing-in of Barrack Obama and Joe Biden on Tuesday. Can I just say, ‘Wow?!’ It was an amazing sight to see the first African-American in our history become the 44th President of the United States, not to mention a transition in power to that of a Democrat after eight years.

While the moment was indeed historic for African-Americans throughout the United States, it was also a much-needed change in our politics when our country is looking for a way to stabilize itself. With Wall Street’s recent plummet, unemployment on the rise, foreclosures on almost every street in America, and the auto industry failing, our country is sorely in need of guidance. Hopefully, Obama and Biden can help the American people find a way forward into a brighter future. While Obama cannot possibly fix every problem in America by himself, I think he can turn our country in a new direction from its previous course with the help of his cabinet and the cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Congress.

On the same note of positive thinking, the fact that Obama was elected president opens up completely new possibilities for future presidential hopefuls! I hope one day to see a woman in the Oval Office. It is shameful that a country which promotes the idea of equality and endless opportunities has not had a woman as president; if the rest of world can have women in the roles of power throughout their histories, why can’t we?!

Enough rambling for the day! Good luck President Obama and Vice President Biden!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Semmes branch - Mobile Public Library

A dreary day of rain to go and see such a welcome sight to the town of Semmes. After 20+ years of going to the Moorer/Springhill library branch and others in Mobile, the residents of Semmes finally have a library branch of our own to browse and frequent!

I woke up early this morning to make my way to the new Semmes branch of Mobile's public library. Despite the dismal rainy weather, I couldn't help but grin in a goofy sort of way when I drove by the library, making my way into their parking lot. A large sign on the side of the building with the lovely words "Mobile Public Library - Semmes Branch" greeted me and the twenty other patrons and their children waiting for the library to open this morning. For many of the smaller children, this would be the first time they had ever gotten a library card. For some of the older children (10-11 year olds), it would be the first time they would get a library card to check out books that didn't belong to their school libraries. As the librarian volunteer for the day greeted us at the door, she talked to our small crowd and asked who had library cards, only a few children had them.

"Will you be signing up for one today?" That question was answered by a chorus of children screaming 'Yes!' Through I was sadden by the fact that so many parents had not thought much of getting their children a library card before now, I was glad that at least they had showed up today to sign up their children.

As I've mentioned before, my mother signed up my sister and I when we were pretty young. We would frequent the Moorer/Springhill branch in Mobile every other Saturday to get armfuls of books to carry home and devour. Honestly, I don't know how our mother kept up with all of our books without incuring a million library fees for late books that were buried in the chairs and couch in our home!

To know that children were getting a chance to enter new worlds through books today was uplifting for a community that had refused a library branch in their town because it wasn't needed. As I stood in line to check out my books, every patron walked up to the librarian who was checking them out and exclaimed, "Thank you for opening this branch!" I did the same as the library's manager checked my books out. A lady behind me in line said that many people protested against a library in Semmes. It is a happy thought that other people in our community realized the need for a library for the enjoyment of the community and the education of hundreds of children going to school in the area.

Even though the library is a bit small, I'm glad it is part of Semmes' community, especially since we have four public schools around the area who need something to supplement their own libraries for their students. The library building is actually a refurbished old Wal-greens building so it is a little bit bigger than the public library in Egham, Surrey where I sought refuge in while researching for my thesis when I couldn't think in the crowded study areas of Royal Holloway's libraries.

The selection was small, but the surprise was the fact that the library was allowed to buy all new books!!! As a book nerd, new books are lovely, even if I miss the musty smell of old ones :) Hopefully over time, the library will be able to expand their collection and the library if need be ^___^

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Forgotten post!

I realized last night that I never posted about the two egg-shaped ornaments that I made for my mom and aunt for Mother's Day last year!!

Design: Prairie Schooler, Farm Fresh
Thread: DMC colors
Fabric: 18 count Aida
Finished: LOL Don't remember! Before Mother's Day 2008

My finishes on these eggs weren't the best. I definitely need to practice on my finishing techniques!

I do like these egg-shaped designs ;) I made the rabbit design for my mother since my nickname is bunny and I thought the design was cute with a rabbit giving out flowers. I made the house/chicken design for my aunt Snowbird because she loves country chickens and roosters!

Hopefully, I'll be able to stitch up some items that have neat finishes this year!

In other news, I've been stitching the border around my Elements sampler this weekend. I know I probably won't have it finished by the end of the day, but at least it's a start. I've decided to work on the Air block after I finish with the border because the silly dragon in the Feu block is driving me insane!! O_o"

Hope everyone is having a great New Year's so far :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year’s!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday away from work, school, etc. Our Christmas tree was simply decorated with plastic ornaments since my aunt’s cats are notorious for knocking ornaments off the bottom of the tree and trying to play with them. Our Christmas tree was not as loaded with ornaments as it was last year. Mostly because we could not find the icicle and twisty ornaments from last year until we were already done with the holiday! My aunt and I made them after seeing the ornament kits at Hobby Lobby.

I promised myself this Fall that I would not buy any more cross-stitch patterns until I had made a sizeable dent in my stash. Of course, it isn’t as large as other bloggers, but I bought the patterns with the intention of working on them, so why not now?! I love working on my Elements sampler when I have the time and energy to do so. With that in mind, I was browsing through French Needle’s website and found a lovely design called Les Arts by Anagram Diffusions. I really didn’t think I was going to get the pattern for Christmas, but I accidentally saw it before the holidays! My aunt and I had gotten home from work, I went to check her mailbox, and there was an envelope from the French Needle. It didn’t ruin the surprise though since I didn’t know what pattern she had gotten for me!!

The only downside to having yet another French pattern in my stash is the fact that it measures about the same as Elements. Yikes! Not that it matters since I would have gotten it anyway regardless of the size. Don’t you think it’s lovely? I have to be good this year and finish my Elements sampler first, which I haven’t been stitching on as of late. Bogged down by the holidays, craziness at work, housework, being sick on and off with head colds and helping to take care of my grandmother…..really doesn’t lend much time to stitching!

My mother bought me a book on cameos that I have been eyeing for awhile at my local BN and a very nice book on collecting costume jewelry. I’ve already been browsing through it and it has an amazing chart of designers with their various dates and monograms.

With my love of period dramas, my mom and sister bought me several BBC dramas: Persuasion (2007), Bleak House (2006), and Wives and Daughters (2006). My mother and I have already watched the newest version of Persuasion; my mother prefers this version to the 1999 adaptation with Amanda Roots. I have no preference towards either one, they were both good…though I much rather prefer Anne’s sister Mary in the previous version to the new one. I thought the actress performed the part of a hysterical hypochondriac quite well compared to the newest version of Mary, who was annoying, but not as much as you would wish her to be!

My sister told me that under no circumstances could I ask for anything ‘Jane Austen’ next year. You know what that means, right? Freedom to splurge on any films I have not received and any books related in some form or fashion to Jane Austen! Woohoo!
Continuing with a historical theme, my sister found a beautiful hand mirror for me at an antique reproduction shop in Birmingham. This gift was definitely a surprise since I wasn’t excepting anything not on ‘my list.’ Sadly, I have no place for it right now so it will stay nice and safe in its box until I have a place worthy of it!

My sister and I both received several gift cards to our favorite venues, Starbucks and Target! We aren’t coffee drinkers, but we love frappuccinos. (laughing) We’ll blame it on the South’s ever-changing climates between pleasant and unbearable for our love of cold drinks.

We each were gifted a Hallmark ornament from one of our aunts who loves anything and everything Hallmark-related, a digital picture wallet, and a Barack Obama coin.

The highlight of Christmas morning wasn’t my gifts, but the look on the faces of my aunt and mother when they opened their presents from me. As you know, I was stitching throughout the Fall on several JBW designs. I didn’t let on that the fruit designs were a gift for my aunt; she assumed I was stitching them for myself. She had been looking for a nice oil painting of a still life for her dining room, but everywhere we went, the prices were exorbitant. So I thought to myself that I could stitch up several of the designs and get them framed as a gift.

While I was at Needle Delights, I also got Christmas Tea and the JBW Dog design framed. Right now, my mother has the dog design sitting in a stand beside the television in the living room and Christmas Tea is hanging up in her room. As much as my mother loves that design, I think it would have been better if I had the right linen color for the pattern. Nicole finished her Christmas Tea before the holidays and the colors are gorgeous. I think from now on, I’ll probably order what fabric I need from my LNS if they don’t have the recommended color in stock.

With my mind on framing, does anyone know of a good blog with a tutorial on framing? As much as I love the way my pieces turned out, it would be far cheaper to do it myself. I’ve noticed that several of my favorite bloggers frame their own work. Does anyone have suggestions? Hmm…

It’s amazing how fast a year can by without you noticing it. Only last Fall, my aunt was showing me how to cross-stitch after I professed an interest in it after coming back home from graduate school in England. I started out with one of the easiest ‘learner’ kits at Michael’s and worked my way up from there. I am quite indebted to the Internet for having such amazing stitcher blogs, which opened my eyes to designers I didn’t know existed outside the world of Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. My first linen project was my beloved Elements design, which I am slowly, but surely finishing. With my hands on good quality linen, I now prefer that type of fabric compared to Aida, which I learned to stitch on with my learner’s kit.

I think my stitcher’s resolution for next year will be to try my hand at new finishes after seeing the wonderful work of BeckyBee, Carolina Dreams, iStitcholic, and Be Happy. Those ladies are so talented with their stitching and always amaze me with their beautiful finishing techniques. My second resolution is too learn some specialty stitches after seeing Yuko’s lovely biscornu with her specialty stitches. I am always hesitant to try new stitches because I’m afraid I will ruin whatever I am stitching on, but I just have to remember that I can always take a spare bit of linen and work my stitches on it until I can get them right :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!