Friday, March 26, 2010

My Latest Obsession – Essential Oils

Over the past couple years I’ve been learning about essential oils and herbal remedies. In fact, on Saturday my sister and I are going to attend an all-day class where we learn about ancient Egyptian oil blends. We’ll also be studying eight essential oils in depth, including frankincense and myrrh (yes, the very gifts the magi brought to baby Jesus). We’ll learn about their physical, emotional, and spiritual healing properties, as well as their history. We’ll also have a 30-minute aromatic foot soak using salts from the Dead Sea – just like Cleopatra might have done. It will be a fun and interesting day!

If you aren’t familiar with the use of essential oils, I must say that I’m a believer. I diffuse them in my home for their aromatic properties, but I also use them directly on my body (extended with some grape seed, almond or coconut oil) for their healing and emotional properties.

When I get a headache, I place either peppermint or wintergreen oil on my temples, below my nostrils, on my forehead, and at the back of my neck. Instant relief! I also keep peppermint oil in an old-fashioned plastic inhaler and can breathe it whenever I need to wake myself up a bit.

Every night before bed I put lavender oil on a cotton ball and place inside my pillow case, and rub a soothing blend of relaxing oils on my feet. I’ve been doing this since Christmas and have slept better for the past 3 months than I have the past 3 years! I’m even able to sleep well in hotel rooms while travelling for work. My niece does this with her one-year-old and it definitely calms her down so she can relax and go to sleep.

I add a drop of one of my oil blends designed for building up immunity to my toothbrush (with the toothpaste) morning and night. Helps with gingivitis as well as overall health. I haven’t had a cold for several years, although I can’t attribute it specifically to this since I’ve only begun doing this.

In fact, I just realized that my diffuser needs some replenishing. For a Friday afternoon, I wonder which would be better – something to stimulate my brain so I get busy and productive for the next few hours, or something relaxing to get me in the mood for stitching this evening. Such a dilemma!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Creative Energy

Physical energy and creative energy are very different animals. Perhaps you’ve noticed this as well.

I often wondered why some days, weeks, even months I am totally driven to make quilts, stitch, paint or even try out new recipes – but there are other times when it’s all I can do to even read a book. I’m not talking physical energy here, but rather creative energy. There are even times when I’m physically spent, but I keep on sewing or stitching because the creative urge and energy is so present.

I believe that we can exhaust our creative energy just like we run out of physical energy. This realization finally dawned on me after one period of time when I really wanted to be in my sewing room doing something creative, but all efforts were futile even though I had plenty of physical energy. Why couldn’t I get into one of the many projects I wanted to work on?

What I’ve discovered about myself is that when my full-time job (as VP product marketing for a $100+ million line of business within a multi-billion dollar technology company) has me doing lots of creative work (rather than spending a lot of time in meetings or putting out fires), I have less creative energy at the end of the day – even though I’m raring to go physically. It seems that there is a limit to creative energy just like there is a limit to physical energy.

For me, I guess the best of all possible worlds is when I am creative at work -- but still have creative energy at the end of the day for fun projects.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update to A Family History in Stitches

I've continued tweaking my Family History in Stitches design.  Only one square -- for my Mayflower ancestor, John Billington -- left to design. [Edited to add: I've now designed this square, and it's in the design below.) This sampler design honors my mother's father's family line. He (Albert Lee Fisher) and his wife (and children) are represented by the center rectangle. They were humble dairy farmers in southeastern Idaho.They both lived into their 90s and have a tremendous posterity that now  numbers in the hundreds. We gather at their homestead in the small Idaho town (of about 60 people) every summer for a family reunion -- and basically triple or quadruple the population while the reunion is underway.

The 2nd square in the top row shows the ship and dates when Albert Lee's grandfather, Thomas Frederick Fisher, immigrated to the US from Liverpool. The 2nd square on the bottom row honors Thomas Frederick's work on the Bountiful Tabernacle, and recognizes my grandfather's great-grandfather on his mother's line who was in the Bountiful bishopric when the tabernacle was dedicated in 1863. The last square on the bottom row represents my grandfather's two uncles who were Pony Express riders (Thomas' two sons), while the 3rd square on the top row recognizes Thomas' young daughter who died in 1854 on the trek west.

The right-hand square in the middle row honors Sarah Ann Smith, who immigrated from England in 1856 and crossed the plains in the Hunt company. She married Thomas Frederick Fisher the following year. The square in the upper left is for Sarah Ann's grandmother who planned to immigrate with Sarah, but she died leaving Sarah to immigrate by herself as a 22-year-old young woman.

The remaining squares are all ancestors through my grandfather's mother's line -- Elisha Pace, his wife Eliza and their son Edwin lived in Nauvoo, IL. Elisha died in the fall of 1844, but Eliza and Edwin crossed the plains in 1848 (I think). Eliza's grandfather was Elijah Kingsley, a minuteman who was at the battle of Bunker Hill early in the Revolutionary War. And Eliza's other notable ancestor was John Billington, of Mayflower and Plymouth Rock fame (or rather infamy -- he was the first person executed by the Pilgrims in the new world.)

Lastly, Eliza's line also goes back to King Henry the 2nd who reigned over England from Dover Castle in England (remember the move Lion in Winter), and through their son, John "Lackland" who eventually became King, "signed" the Magna Carta (and was Robin Hood's nemesis). We are descended through an illegitimate child whose descendants didn't inherit land or riches and became commoners.

This is how much stitching progress I've made so far.  Slow work on 40-count fabric, especially because of my bad eyes! I look hilarious with readers in front of my glasses (and yes, my glasses do have bifocals).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quickie Quilt

Lately I've been doing more stitching that quilting, but I did recently finish an easy quilt top. Here's my finished quilt top:

The fabric is the Williamsburg American Heritage collection by Windham Fabrics. LOVE IT! I've got enough fabric to make another quilt using the same fabric. I knew I just had to find the right pattern. And wha'd'ya know? I was looking at one of my quilting magazines and found a darling quilt that uses these same fabrics. It's from the Feb. 2009 McCall's Quilting Magazine, and is called Proudly We Wave, designed by Susan McDermott.

It's unusual for me to find two quilts in the same issue of a magazine that I want to make, but over the holidays I had made the quilt that was featured on the cover of this issue of the magazine. Somehow I had totally missed this patriotic quilt -- but it's now on my list, especially since I have the fabrics already.

Here's the magazine cover quilt, called "Nana's Nine Patch", designed by Lynn Lister:

And here's my version (I used black sashing strips rather than navy blue):

I absolutely love the borders.

This quilt was so fun to make! And I love the rich colors and contrast in the blocks. 

A Quilt of Quilts

Yes, this really IS a quilt. Be sure to visit Laura Peterson's website to see details about the quilt -- including how she made it, the inspiration for the quilt, and more.

Truly amazing!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All Things Americana

I'm thinking it's time to pack up all of the Americana.

In the late 80s I began decorating my guest room in
red, white and blue. 

I was also big into decorative painting, so I painted a ton of stuff -- Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, and more -- to match.

It moved from Utah to Pennsylvania with me -- and I continued to paint things to match. It moved back to Utah with me -- and after 7 years hereI'm thinking it is time for a change.

I remember painting each and every one of those pieces -- but I think the trend has long since ended.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stitching Miscellania

I  noticed that DMC-USA became a follower when I wasn't paying attention. Then I noticed a lot of people coming to Bountiful Heirlooms from DMC. So I discovered that Emma over at DMC-USA had referenced a post I wrote a while back with some of my stitching tips and tricks.  (Thanks Emma!) There are lots of great stitching hints and valuable floss information over at DMC, as you would expect -- so definitely check it out!

Over the weekend I also finished a couple long-forgotten WIPs.

The small liberty design needed only about 15 stitches in the border to finish it up, while the Shepherd's Bush Summer design needed only the backstitching completed and the buttons sewn on. So that is now done as well. Unfortunately, now both of these projects are in the pile of completed stitchery waiting to be "finished" into something else.

I continue to be amazed at how looking at a photo of one of my stitched designs seems to uncover the boo-boos! I was looking at the photo in a previous post of the Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers piece I finished -- only to realize that the lower left corner is scooted out too far to the left. How in the heck did I make that big of a mistake and not notice it while I was working on the project?

Upon closer inspection, I realized that I added an extra zig to the little green zig-zag filler to the left of the words "their songs" and that threw everything off because that was my reference point for starting the bird, followed by the flower stem, etc. Good grief! So now the dilemma. Do I pick out the bird, flower, leaves and stem stitches and restitch -- or stick with my mantra that "finished is better than perfect".

Welcome Baby Emrie Belle!

Baby Emrie Belle came into the world on Saturday at 2:38 pm. She weighed in at 7  lbs 2 ounces and 20 inches long.  Congratulations Jake and Whitney! Mom and baby are gorgeous -- even though Jake looks a little shell-shocked! But that's to be expected -- especially after working all night. And congratulations to proud Grandma Pam!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Next Vacation

Yippee!  I finally know what my 2010 vacation will be.  I thought I probably wouldn't do a vacation this year, but a few weeks ago a friend at church asked if I wanted to go on a November cruise with her that includes a couple days in Israel.  So today we finalized our plans to join a bunch of others from Bountiful, UT. A professor from Brigham Young University, who has lived in Israel and travelled extensively in the eastern Mediterranean area, will be our guide and give lectures on the sea days.

I did a cruise in the Mediterranean in November 2007 -- Turkey (3 ports), Greece (2 islands), Cyprus, Egypt, Sardinia, Tunisia, Mahon (Spain) and Barcelona.  This trip starts in Venice and ends in Athens. New ports for me will be Dubrovnic, Patmos, Port Said (Egypt) and Athens, with repeats in Alexandria, Kusadasai (Turkey), and Venice.  Technically the two Israel port cities are new to me -- Haifa and Ashdod, but I spent a week in Israel when I was in college so have been to Nazaraeth, Galilee, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem.

I love cruises -- unpack once and not have to schlep suitcases everywhere you want to go. And even though I love eating at fun restaurants in the places I visit, it's nice to not have to worry about it. Just get back on the ship and enjoy their yummy food. Finally something to look forward to in order to get through the next few months of intense work at my full time job!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Home Again

Busy work week! Back-to-back meetings on Monday,  Tuesday and Wednesday, and all-day meeting on Thursday. 7:00 am flight on Friday. Sheer exhaustion by Friday night.  Thankfully I was upgraded to first class both directions, and had a window seat so I had good light for stitching.

I finished Homespun Elegance's "Home is Where You Hang Your Needlework" on the flight east, and finished Blackbird Designs' Loose Feathers "Their Song" on the way home.

I loved working on this piece. I think it was the silk floss because it was fun to see how the variegated color would end up on the piece.  I was deliberate in some of the color value placement, but other times I just started stitching -- and come what may! It still is amazing that only two colors were used. I've been wanting to redecorate my TV / family room in brown, red, and black so this just might become the starting point for stitchery to match that color scheme. I bought a new coffee table and end table last year, but think it's finally time to replace the sofa (still in good condition, but I bought the teal / mauve sofa in the 80s and it's definitely time to get something new).  I also want to find the perfect chair for comfy stitching while watching TV in that room.
Note: Edited to insert a better picture -- one that shows the warmth in the colors.


I even had time to work on Little House Needleworks' "Needle and Thread" Sunday and Monday evenings. A couple more hours and this one will be done.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were spent with different co-workers at dinner.  The first night was at a restaurant named El Vez -- the food was OK but the guacamole was fabulous. I guess living in a state with a large Latino population has spoiled me for eating Mexican food east of the Mississippi. Wednesday night, however, was an amazing experience at Iron Chef Jose Garces' Chifa Restaurant. The 20 or so people who would be involved in the all-day Thursday meeting all ate at a communal table with a lazy susan for every 4 to 6 people.  We had a tasting menu which meant being served about 15 mini-plates of unique Latin-Asian fusion dishes. All were good -- but a few were spectacular. I almost felt like one of the judges on Iron Chef because of the unique flavors, ingredients, creativity and presentation.

It's nice to be home for a few weeks -- but my next two business trips are already planned for the first half of April.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Quick Note...

Off to the airport in about an hour.  I'll be traveling for work this week, so this will probably be my last post until next weekend.  I hope to be able to report back that I have finished a couple WIPs during my two 5-hour flights, and hopefully from some stitching time in the evenings in my hotel room.


All that's left are one big leaf, some backstitching, and my initials and finish year.


I'm shocked at how quickly this one has gone.  I guess it's because there are only two floss colors.  Just a few more letters (to finish the word "needlework"), my initials, 3 or 4 motifs, and backstitching.

I picked up my taxes this week. I was fully expecting to have to pay a huge boatload of money to the IRS, but to my surprise I'm actually getting a row-boatload of money back. WHEW! So I splurged on a lot of silk floss for my Family in Stitches sampler. As soon as I finish these WIPs, I'll allow myself to begin that project. 

That's all for now. Philadelphia here I come.  I hope the weather stays good!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beautiful Dinkey-Dyes Silk Floss

What a treat to go to the mailbox today and be greeted by a wonderful and kind gift from Jo Mason, the owner of Dinkey-Dyes hand-dyed silk floss. Her company and line of floss was new to me and I am so excited to try them out on a project pattern I bought on Saturday.

Thanks so much Jo!

I am traveling next week for work, but hope that I can fit some stitching in. This is definitely the project I'll work on if I have time. 

If you haven't stitched with silk, you MUST do it. It feels different while you're stitching -- the threads just glide so smoothly through those little evenweave holes. And the touch of the finished stitching is just luscious! Jo's silk flosses are beautiful.  The two skeins shown above at the far left, called Araluen, have such a wonderful range of colors -- from moss to tan to brown to red. I can't wait to get this into my needles!

Please check out Dinkey-Dyes online to see everything that they have to offer. 


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