Maneki Neko + giveaway

I'm not content these days unless I have at least one stitching project in the works. Embroidery is so much fun to me--it's like coloring, but with thread. When I stand in front of the DMC floss display at the craft store, I have a tough time not drooling. All those soft skeins of floss aligned in every color of the rainbow...It's like candy! How can I not want one of each?!

For inspiration, I've been following the monthly Stitchalongs hosted by the very lovely embroidery blog Feeling Stitchy. June's Stitchalong calls for us to stitch up any free pattern of our choice, so I went with the Maneki Neko pattern from Badbird. Never heard of Maneki Neko? I hadn't either.

But due to the magic of Google...

I found that this pattern was perfectly apropos, since I just returned from Las Vegas. I guess I could have used the lucky beckoning kitty BEFORE my trip...

I must point out that I did not do the pattern justice. In my stitched version, the kitty's raised paw pad looks sort of like butt cheeks and the background fabric is a bit puckered at the top. Steven claims the whole thing is creepy and he anticipates it giving him nightmares.

In an effort to alleviate his fears and give him a good night's sleep, I'm going to give this little kitty away to one lucky reader.

Just comment on this post if you'd like to offer my stitched version of Maneki Neko a  loving home, and I'll pick someone at random to be her new adoptive parent. (I'll be finishing off the hoop before I send it, so this piece will be ready to hang and display right near your bed where she will bring you many riches in your dreams.)



Chuffing down the track.

Yesterday Steven and I took Eliot to Monticello, where there is a railway station that offers train rides every weekend. One weekend out of the month, the train is pulled by a steam engine. It's pretty super cool, especially if you happen to be a four-year-old boy who loves trains.

The ear to ear grin in these photos speaks for itself.

"Take Eliot for a train ride" was number one on my uber-list this year, so it's kind of ridiculous that it has taken me this long to do it. I still want to take him on AmTrak at some point, and I'm sure he'd love the El or the St. Louis Metro...all adventures that await us.

But the steam engine was just right for our maiden railway voyage. We sat in an elegant old passenger car at first, and then moved to the caboose for the return trip. It was probably a 45 minute ride, total.

Eliot still wants me to hold him and carry him around, and he likes to sit on my lap whenever possible. Yesterday, his perch atop my knees was particularly important because it gave him just the right amount of extra height to gaze out the window of our train car as we chuffed along the track. I love this photo. I know when I look at it years from now, I'll still be able to feel the cool breeze and smell the watermelon shampoo scent lingering on his short, big kid haircut. I will remember the two of us looking out together at the same sights, and I will remember how his perspective allows me to see old scenery with new eyes.

It was a good day.


Guilty as charged.

It's 4:20 a.m., I can't sleep, and I have a few things to get off my chest:

1. Over the past few years, I have completely neglected to write thank you cards. There's really no excuse for it. My momma raised me better than that.

2. Sometimes I have orgasms in my sleep. The last time it happened, I was dreaming that I was eating a really good piece of cake. Yes, I like cake that much. Apparently.

3. I don't like dogs. I don't care how cute they are. I just can't respect an animal that has no respect for itself. And if your puppy is wearing a sweater with "I'm spoiled" spelled out in rhinestones, and you are carrying it in a purse...that kind of makes me want to kick your puppy.

4. I feel guilty about sometimes throwing away items that are recyclable, but I do it anyway, mostly because I'm lazy.

5. I truly do believe that my own kid is the coolest kid in the world. I realize that makes me that Mom. I don't care.

Okay, now that I've gotten all that off my chest, perhaps I can get some sleep. Thanks a million, Internet.


Ms. Kitty

I rarely keep anything that I stitch for myself. Handmade gifts are too much fun to give away. Ms. Kitty, though, is gracing our wall for now, and I think she just might stay. She was kind of a pain in the ass to stitch, frankly.

pattern: Ryan Berkley via Sublime Stitching
This was also my second try at finishing off a hoop for a nice looking backside. (Everyone loves a nice looking backside.) The first time I tried finishing a hoop, I used glue, some of which bled through to the front and pissed me off. So this time I used only fabric tape for adhesive.

It still doesn't quite suit, as the patterned fabric is a bit bunchy in the back. Oh well, perhaps the third time will be the charm...

I attached a bit of ric rac for hanging, just because it seemed kittenish. Although, clearly Ms. Kitten is much to sophisticated to do such a thing as play with ric rac. She has more dignity than that.

Don't worry; her permanent home isn't outside. Just better lighting for pictures. She's currently overseeing all important goings-on in the living room.

I've really caught the stitching bug lately. Check out my Flickr stream to see most of my completed projects to date.


This house needs more estrogen.

It's so true, what they say. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone." (Well...I don't know if they say that, but Joni Mitchell certainly says it, and I believe her.) I grew up in a household full of women. At one point during my adolescence, there were five of us living together, my mom, two of my sisters, one teenaged friend of my sister, and me. No men. It was paradise. And then they paved it. And put up a parking lot.

Now I am the sole female inhabitant of my home, and sometimes, it's lonely. Don't get me wrong, I love my boys. But...they're such...boys. All the time. Day and night. So much video game playing and wrestling/punching, and sarcasm, and dirty feet.

Tonight, Eliot is at his dad's house, so I figured I could sneak in some super selfish girly me time. I was going to watch Muriel's Wedding, work on some embroidery, take a long coffee break with a good book. Ahhhhh, bliss. Quiet. Quiet house. Peaceful.

I failed to factor this into the scenario:

The remaining Y chromosomes. The ones to whom a childless house means a house in which one can play marathon M-rated video games, trash talk one another, and be generally loud and obnoxious.

Please know that these photos were not taken at the same time. It's just that these two have occupied the exact same space for hours. Hours. The exact same space.

And the running conversation goes something like this:

M1: "Any good guns? The surplus rifle? Oh, yeah! I'm buying the surplus rifle.
Oh my god, instant kill! This gun is amazing. I'm dealing 40 damage to this mo-fo.
He regenerated!"
M2: "What? We killed him!"
M1: "Kidding. I just wanted to scare you. Is this level eleven? How do you throw grenades?"
M2: "R1. I leveled up. Did you?"

Their voices are punctuated by explosions and gunfire and video game person screams erupting from the television. And so on. And so forth.

So much for Muriel's Wedding.

The thing is, I'm not a girly girl, by any stretch of the imagination. I don't wear makeup. I don't wear perfume. I don't "do" my hair. I usually don't shave my legs. I'm domestically challenged. I can't cook. I'm lazy about keeping things clean. My inability to perform my assigned gender does not mean I revel in "boy" things, however. Sometimes (tonight especially), I dearly miss the smell of perfume lingering in the upstairs hallway. The co-mingling scents of lotion, hairspray and floral or fruity shampoos in the bathroom. I miss the freshly washed lingerie hanging over the shower curtain to dry. The high-pitched laughter. The hum of my mom's sewing machine, and the smell of whatever wonder she had in the oven. The routine of getting ready for the day, squeezing past one another in the hallway, hoping against hope there would still be hot water for the shower, raiding my sisters' closets, finding someone willing to braid my hair.

No one ever yelled, "I have an incendiary shotgun!" or demanded, with a snarky grin, "Pull my finger!"


I think my best bet is to barricade myself in my craft room with some sewing, plug in my earphones and turn on the Florence + the Machine Pandora channel on my phone. I need to find some female companionship soon...