Saturday, March 30, 2013

WIPocalypse March 2013

As per usual, I'm a bit late with this month's WIPocalypse. It was a pretty slow stitching month, but I did get my new one started, The Princess And The Pea. I guess there is really no need to show a blank canvas, so here is where I made it to (which is not nearly as far as I wanted to be):
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I also did a bit on A Summer Ball - it ended here last month:
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and I got to here:
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Hopefully next month will be better, but I haven't been in a stitching mood lately, so no promises!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A to Z Challenge Theme

After the rambling of last years Disney inspired fest-o-fun, I knew another Disney-themed Challenge probably wouldn't be a good idea. You see, since Disney is the love of my life, I can't shut up about it. I was really getting bent out of shape because I couldn't cover all the topics I wanted to. I was afraid that I wasn't portraying the magic that is the attractions and parks and resorts and shops and restaurants and food and...well, you get the point, in the right light. But, worst of all, I was getting "home sick" for Disney way too soon before my annual Halloween trip...bad juju! I needed to find another topic this year for my sanity as well as yours, so a different plan of action began to take shape.

About a year ago, I discussed different region codes and how easy it is to watch DVD's from other countries along with a brief (well, brief for me) description of British TV in general. Here is the link to that post if you're interested. Most Americans, when they think of the British, think of period dramas that air on PBS like Downton or comedy like Monty Python or, for us lucky BBC America viewers, the annoyance that is Top Gear and Gordon Ramsay (which air approximately 15 bloody times a piece every single day!). I also discussed (aka ranted) about how American television has become extremely stagnant over the past several years. We are bombarded by reality TV (which I am NOT a fan of), dramas consist of basically the same show with an added moniker of "New York" or "LA" or "insert any big American city here", and don't even get me started on comedies or family shows, they are practically non-existent. The ONLY American show I watch faithfully is Once Upon A Time, and is that a shock to anybody?

So this year I've decided to go a different route with the Challenge and highlight this other passion of mine, British television. I want to share with my fellow Americans a whole new world of tele (yeah, can't really get away from the Disney, can I?). Each letter will take us through a list of the shows from my personal collection (which has grown exponentially over the past couple of years) and a brief (well, brief for me) description of said shows. It's probably not going to be the best of British television from the eyes of a real Brit, but merely from the eyes of a jaded American with a really bad case of Anglophilia. I do, however, have "connections" across the pond that recommend shows to me all the time and have introduced me to shows I wouldn't pick for myself, but have become some of my favorites.

Coming up with a theme title, however, was a lot harder than deciding on the actual theme, hence the delay in this post...every title I came up with was complete rubbish! In the end, I begged help from my friend Kate over at The Suddenly Kate Show and she, as always, had the perfect answer!

Without further ado, I give you this years A to Z Challenge Theme....

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV

for those that don't know, the definition of anorak is:
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

You might want to prepare yourself for a month of highly impassioned descriptions of my favorite shows along with off-topic ranting and raving. Hopefully, you will all walk away with some new television viewing choices and maybe even a new favorite show!  And don't forget to stop by Kate's world as well, whose Challenge posts are guaranteed to be far more entertaining than mine!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Better late than never...

Here is this weekend's stitch progress...I started here:
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and ended here:
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Confetti is really amazing...one minute you have blobs of spots then, before you know it, you have a bouffant head!!

While I'm thinking about it, I'll be revealing my A to Z Challenge topic in the next couple of days. Exciting stuff until about the middle of April when I'm pulling my hair out and ready to quit!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Crazy Week!

I forgot how taking care of two puppies wears you out...but I wouldn't have it any other way! Little Bam ended up back at the vet's this week for his skin issues. It was a pretty quiet spring break week at work, which was good considering the home front hasn't been so quiet. First my all-region DVD player died (a devastating blow), then my plumbing went bonkers. Needless to say, not a lot of stitching got done this week in the Blair household. But what would life be without it's overly abundant and often painful hiccups?

Bam is doing a bit better today with his new food and meds. I replaced that crappy Philips player with a Sony (which just happens to have a hundred times cleaner picture with its composite connection than the HDMI of the Philips...god I love Sony!). The plumbing is temporary fixed until Monday. All and all, I'm looking forward to a nice, quiet, stitching weekend while watching the complete first series of Ripper Street!

So as I sit here finally able to watch the new Gary Barlow concert on DVD...a pup by my side and another asleep behind me, I'm inspired to post yet another Take That video. I won't burden you with yet another clip of Shine (at least this time, anyway), but rather Gary and James Corden (who I absolutely LOVE) singing Pray. James is surprisingly rather good actually! Enjoy your weekend and the video...hopefully I will have a stitch update come Sunday!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March IHSW

I spent so much time avoiding stitching this weekend, it made it hard to keep up with any progress...but here it is starting here:
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and finished here:
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There is a heck of a lot of confetti and my heart just wasn't in it. I wanted to play with my puppies (and did a whole lot)!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Suddenly Kate Show Blog Tour

I am not a writer, as you guys can probably tell. I am a very scattered, passionate, grammatical nightmare who rants continuously about silly things. My bestest friend Katy over at The Suddenly Kate Show, on the other hand, as emerged in a big way, self-publishing her own ebook of two short stories (as well as a prequel of her upcoming novel) under the pseudonym of Marjie Myers!  It is available on Amazon here.

Marjie Myers

The first, a romance called 12 Days - the official description being:
A romantic comedy; a man, a woman, a dog, a challenge, romance, laughter, memories, love & hope.

And the second, Young 80:
A horror; a young woman, a foggy night, a race home, trapped, scared, confused, crazy, an old woman, an empty room, a lost love and hope.

So let's get on with the questions!

Ok, let’s start off with the blandest question of all, but one that has popped into my mind more than once…where do you get your inspiration for your characters from? Is it all imagination, or do real people around you influence an idea for a character or have their actions influenced a storyline? Has anyone ever recognized themselves in your work (or thought they have)? Or is it a case of writing being an escape from everyone and everything you know, creating worlds and scenarios in your head and putting them on paper so that others can see what you see in your head?
The inspiration for my characters comes from the story itself in general but the main character usually has my moral compass or the exact opposite. It may sound odd but once I start writing the story the character sort of appears. I think subconsciously that people around me do influence some of the minor characters more and this is probably because I write as if I am the character, I envisage myself as them or in their heads at least, although I’m not quite sure why I still write in the third person. No-one has recognised themselves because I have yet to write about them, but my family recognise me in Millie (GBF Series). I think it’s her haphazard nature. When I wrote the scene about the lost bag people asked me if that happened when I took the trip. I think mainly its total escapism.

On to the stories… you decided to put together two completely opposite genres, romance and horror. Was that deliberate, as a sort of counterweight of light and dark? Or was it a simple matter of the first story being a beginning of love and the second an ending to love? How wrong was it I found the second story just as much a romance as the first? Or did you mean to make it that way?
When I decided to publish the eBook I knew that I wanted to include 12 days, and I did think what did I have or could I write that could go with this. I chose Young 80 because I thought as a reader it would be nice to get two genres in one eBook. Once I decided that I thought they made a nice balance and it made sense (at least in my head) to have a sweet and sour. I think because its two short stories I wanted variety. I hadn’t really thought about the theme of love in the stories but I think its inevitable for me as I am a romantic at heart. You saying that made me realise that Act of Love (novel tbr) is about love too and its many guises, yet it’s a murder mystery, so I must be channelling it.

I once read an interview possibly on a blog and the writer was talking about how he had been through a really traumatic experience at the time that he was writing his novel, and that it wasn’t until he had finished it and had read it in its final state and his wife had said to him how it had themes running through it related to the trauma, and which at the time he hadn’t noticed. I think I am very much like that. I don’t notice these things until I take a step back.

Which story came first, the romance or the horror, and what do you think that says about your views on romance…is a good thing turned to bad, or can good things come from the bad?
The horror came first because I had started it at Halloween and then the romance which I wrote at Christmas. I think it probably says more about my feelings on love and that it can conquer all, and now I sound like a cheesy movie or a hallmark card or something, but I do believe that love is blind to imperfections and if anything makes them reasons why you are more lovable. I think my own experience of romance in terms of gestures (12 Days) that they are few and far between. Good things can always come from bad, good conquers evil after all!

Then again, there were many other opposite themes between the two stories, togetherness and loneliness, light and dark, home and big bad world, I could go on. But both had a very common theme…varying tones of fear, fear of not knowing if the woman you loved was willing to spent the rest of her life with you and fear of not being able to spend the rest of your life (however short) with the man you loved. Was this the common link between the two…fear?
I think this is a really telling question and maybe says more about our outlooks than anything because where you saw fear, I saw hope. Both stories are connected by that common theme. Life without hope is no life at all. You say ‘fear of not knowing if the woman you loved was willing to spend the rest of her life with you’ but he hoped she did and that’s why he carried on, you say ‘fear of not being able to spend the rest of your life (however short) with the man you loved’ and yet she hoped that he would ‘see’ her. I think that fear and hope are synonymous with one another and fear would always win if you didn’t have hope.

In the end of Twelve Days, boy gets girl and the end of Young Eighty saw boy also getting girl, just the wrong one. I think this is the reason why I enjoyed Young Eighty more, there is another story there waiting to come out, what happens when boy figures out girl isn’t his true love? Does he go after her and save her? Did he ever really love her in the first place? It really left me wanting more! Did you feel the same, or do you see wedding hijinks in the future of Twelve Days?
I can see wedding hijinks in the future of 12 days, but I am not sure if it will have a future. My imagination did wonder what would happen after the end of Young 80 but I couldn’t allow it to go there or the eBook would never have happened. I don’t know that I will continue either of them but themes in them will undoubtedly reappear.

On to other things, as a fellow stitcher (and this is going to be a strange question, so bear with me) I find myself doing this and I wondered if you did the same…have you ever found yourself working on a cross stitch project (which takes up months of our lives sometime) and found yourself imagining a storyline based on the subject matter? I guess basically what I’m asking is if a cross stitch project has ever inspired a story? As I worked on my little Highland girl, I saw myself in her, small (in the metaphysical sense of course, I’m the size of a house), childlike, eyes filled with fear, surrounded by a world of nothingness and completely alone, all the while holding on to a source of protection that I couldn’t physically wield if I wanted to, but holding on for dear life anyway. My mind wondered to what different things could happen to her and how she would handle each obstacle. It helped pass the time getting through the project, but I won’t ever try to write it out.
I have not finished that many long projects, but I do think about various things when looking at the stitching. None have inspired a story…YET! I have seen other peoples stitching and thought less about what they were stitching but more about the life of the stitcher. Particularly with older samplers or those that people have stitched intermittently over the years, I wonder what life they had and what influenced their choice and why it took so long. I could definitely write a story about a stitcher and I am unbiased obviously when I saw that stitchers are such great people. All of those I have met online through my stitching have been at least and so talented and patient.

I think when life gets hard and we feel like we are drowning that we reach out for something to hold onto that will provide an anchor and some stability and I think stitching provides this routine, it never changes and it can never disappoint…..unless you have to frog!

And that's it!  My first ever interview!  Thank you so much Katy for putting up with me yet again and every one else go out and get Kate's ebook from Amazon...you'll be glad you did!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March TUSAL

It is very apropos that March's Ort jar pic is this:
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The only other mid yawn shot I ever got was Zachary. We are a very happy family!! Thank you everyone for wishing us well!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The most exciting news ever!

My stitching lagged this week for another reason. I've mentioned we were on the hunt for an addition to our family. I got denied rather quickly from the first rescue group I applied to, never got an answer from the second, and even my own local pound never responded to me. I broke down and went to the puppy store, only to be shot down there too because they didn't have any Shih Tzu's in stock! I decided it was fate and gave up.

I have a co-worker/friend who got her rescue pug about a year ago and she contacted the woman who handled her adoption to see if they had any Shih Tzu's. They didn't, but they knew of another rescue group that dealt with more "fru-fru" dogs (which I think is hilarious since that is what I always called the popular people in high school). She gave me their name, Arkansas Southern Dog Rescue, and off to Google I went. But one little guy in particular caught my eye within the first 20 seconds of looking...it was definitely love at first sight!

His name is BamBam (yeah, I know...Keebles and BamBam, either life's cruel joke or a match made in heaven). He was a breeder dog that got thrown outside because of an ear infection! He's very tiny, only 8 lbs, about 3 years old, and was in desperate need of a haircut.

I dreaded filling out another application, but I kept finding myself heading back to their website and staring at his picture most of the day. I just couldn't stand the fact that he had been abandoned and I eventually got up my courage. I had an email response from Debbie pretty quickly! She wanted to talk to me in person, my Asper anti-social genes kicked into high gear, but I agreed and even left work early so I could clean the house before she called (don't ask...it's an OCD thing). I managed to scrub the house spotless, mount and partially frame two stitches, and just basically waited (surprisingly more patiently than I'm capable of) for her to call. But eventually call she did, and shock of shocks, I GOT APPROVED!!

She told me all about Bam and we agreed on meeting halfway between my house and hers on Sunday. Zach and I slept horribly Saturday night, but off we went Sunday on our hour long journey through wind and heavy rain. Zach wasn't in the best of moods, and it worried me a bit:
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We got there early, had a couple of Xanax, and waited. But it didn't take them long to show up! Bam is extremely docile and has the best personality ever! I recognized the skin condition as the same that Zander had, and he had a protrusion on his side that I was afraid might be a broken rib. Other than that, he was perfect and we decided to be his new family and he seemed OK with it! He slept almost the whole way home. Zach wasn't too pleased at first:
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But by the time we got close to home, they were best of friends:
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I didn't want to give him a bath and a haircut right off the bat. It's always such a chore with Zachary and I didn't want Bam to hate me from the get go. But he was scratching a lot and I was afraid he was having an allergic reaction to something in the house, so I had no choice and the torture began. We started here:
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and ended here:
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He stood absolutely perfectly still the entire time I shaved him and didn't splash water all over me trying to get out of the tub. I can't even begin to tell you what a change THAT is! I have never had a dog that didn't fight me the entire time! It's at least a two hour ordeal with Zachary, and don't get me started on how horrible Zander was!

Once he was shaved down, I realized his skin is much worse than I originally thought. I actually managed to get a vet appointment first thing this morning (I think the possibility of a broken rib was what did it). The good news is his rib is not broken, it's just a "floating rib" and he was born with it (yeah, I've never heard of it either). They called the vet that gave him his shots to get more information faxed over, but they didn't even have a fax machine! I wouldn't have thought even in Arkansas there would be somebody so behind in the times. But my vet went ahead and ran the complete battery of tests, including a more detailed heartworm check and they checked his skin for mange (which it's not, BTW). He has an absolutely perfect bill of health (although the actual bill was an entirely different story).

He is definitely part of our family now and already loves me! So much so, I'm gonna do something I never do...post a picture of myself with my new son!
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So please be upstanding for BamBam "Bammers" Blair!!! Looks like I need to create a new banner for my blog!

And for anyone that would like to help out the rescue group, go to their website here...you can donate through PayPal.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stitch update

I started the week pretty good, but didn't end it so good due to other reasons I'm saving for the next blog post. I spent most of the last two weeks getting my threads in order because I got a new system. Some of you may remember I used to keep my thread like this:
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I've been looking for a better method, and after reading numerous reviews on Amazon, I decided to go with a small parts container. I could put my second full set of DMC's in it as well with room to spare and excitingly spent an entire week wrapping bobbins. Other reviewers had said they had no trouble with their bobbins, but I wonder if; a) they are talking about the same bobbins I am; and b) they didn't fill the drawers as full as I did. Problem was, although the bobbins fit, they were a bit too tall and would fly out everytime I opened a drawer.
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I couldn't go back to the old system now that I had double the number without adding five new boxes. Then there was the issue of what happens when I finish a project and needed to add even more bobbins? So I went on the search again, and found bigger bobbin boxes that are double sided. Each one is supposed to hold an entire set of DMC's, but I got three just in case and for growth purposes (and am very glad I did):
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I guess I'm just a bobbin/box person, because I'm very happy now!

On to the stitching...I managed to get Mickey and Friends framed:
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But didn't have enough mat board for A Walk Through The Highlands, so that is a pic for another day.

But the real update is The Princess And The Pea...despite the dismal work toward the end of the week, I made it to here:
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I substituted S5200 for the Kreinik, and although it's better than a filament or even E5200, I still HATE it! That's pretty much where I'm stuck right now. I just don't want to work on it. But I'm close to the end of this section, and if I can make it through, it will be alright!

But I do have to add how much I absolutely LOVE using Monaco instead of Lugana! It's so much easier to work with and the stitches look so much cleaner! I don't have to worry about the threads tearing through and restitching areas. It's like a very soft, very tiny aida!

Stay tuned for the most exciting news ever!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

It has begun!

I have started The Princess And The Pea! Funnily enough, I swear I started on this one with the same color I started my little Highland girl with. But without further ado, this weekend's work, starting with Saturday:
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to tonight:
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I also worked a bit on A Summer Ball, but I absolutely HATE working on it...HAED's have spoiled me forever! No fractionals, no back-stitching, just straight cross stitch. But I guess I should show where I made it on that as well (although it isn't much):
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And that's it, another very short weekend has gone. No news on the puppy front either. Chalking that up to fate right now and just letting it be.

Just a short side note, for my inner Whovian...BBCA has been airing a special series on each Doctor for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who (as well as tons of other specials). It seems as though they are airing one Doctor special a month, January was William Hartnell and February was Patrick Troughton. Which means, at this rate, it will be October before we get to my Doctor, David Tennant. But I couldn't wait, so I've started rewatching the series DVD's again. Plus, with the 7th series continuing at the end of March, I'm hoping it will make me like Matt Smith a bit more (and get me through series 6, which I still haven't watched in its entirety). But then again, watching David cry, "I don't want to go" might be too much for me to handle for a second time.

Which reminds me of another thorn on my side...of all the Doctor specials they have been airing, not one single show has made mention of the human Doctor and Rose. It could just be my love of David as the Doctor, but is the human Doctor not the perfect way that David and Billie could return to the show? Did the human Doctor change when the real Doctor regenerated? Are David's Doctor and Rose still happy together in their parallel universe? Do I have WAY too much time on my hands and an unfocused brain or what?

But as an exit to this post, the absolute best scenes of the Doctor and Rose, with a little help from my favorite band, Take That: