Monday, May 20, 2013

Pups

We've been so busy with our spring clean-out that I haven't had time to update how our family is doing since Bam's adoption.

Bam has completely changed from the quiet, raggedy-haired kid I adopted! His hair has completely grown in (although he still scratches a lot...he just has some really strong allergies we'll always have to deal with). He's filled out quite a bit and his floating rib is barely noticeable now that he has some meat on his bones! As he's gotten comfortable, his true personality has come out! He's a hoarder of everything that belongs to Zach, he's got a mean streak (but luckily his teeth don't hurt!), and he's very rambunctious, but I absolutely adore him and can't imagine life without him now!!!
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Even Zach has come around (much faster than I thought he would)...you can't even tell one pup from the other when they sit in my lap (which they do A LOT...one of the reasons why I haven't been stitching much lately):
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It is really amazing how much Bam reminds me of Zander! Whereas Zach is a lot like a cat in that he lives in his own space and doesn't like to be bothered, Bam is always in my face (in a good way) and wants to be held constantly. He just looks at me ALL the time!
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They both are in desperate need of haircuts...so more photo ops are on the horizon!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May TUSAL-better late than never!

I did take the pic of my May TUSAL on time, but I'm just now uploading the photo. I haven't been stitching lately, but I have been redecorating and the moment I set up my new shelves in the duckroom, bells started going off. There was so much orange thread in my ort jar this month, I knew the perfect location was between my orange bird stuff!
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Yiota's Cross Stitch - A Review

I have totally blown this IHSW. I have been working on the house like crazy and have just used this weekend to relax. But I did get a new present in the mail on Saturday, so I wanted to take time to go through it and give my thoughts. Those who have been around for a while know how I feel about built kits. I'm still reeling over Mickey And Friends; the material ripped (and was just overall crappy), Donald's face has way too much pink in it...the list goes on and on. Needless to say, I swore I'd never do another kit that wasn't store-bought again...I might have to eat those words now.

I had seen Yiota's Cross Stitch kits reviewed on other sites, I have even looked through their catalog, but I just couldn't bring myself to take the plunge (the horror that was Mickey and Friends will never go away). The opportunity presented itself for me to get a Yiota's Stitch, I picked the kit I wanted, and it arrived yesterday (a very fast ship from the UK I might add)! I was a bit miffed at the mailman for sitting it on my very wet front porch mat, but it was packed very well and nothing inside was affected, which was a very good start!

Here's the opened kit:
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I chose Monet's Garden Path because I'm a big fan of Monet and I thought that the impressionistic style would lend itself quite nicely to cross stitch (plus, as a former artist, I'm just a huge fan of impressionism). Monet was known for painting his garden at Giverny hundreds of times, often the same location at different times of the day or week or even month and year. It was nice to see that someone had created a kit for another study other than his typical garden view (and they have a very good Monet selection to choose from). The lily pad/bridge versions might be popular, but they are not my favorite (I personally adore his London studies...they are a far cry from his bright and colorful garden studies!).

The kit comes with chart, instructions, material, thread, and even a needle.
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The material seems to be a very high quality (you can choose either 14, 16ct aida or a 28ct evenweave - I went with the evenweave). It also looks to be cut straight...a rare find in a kit!

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The Madeira thread that it comes with also looks really high quality. I have never used this thread before, but just from its appearance, it looks really appealing. I do worry a bit about the sticky stuff used to adhere it to backing paper. I know it looks good all lined up (and probably makes the kit take up less space in the enclosing plastic), but I don't know what the long term effects of the sticky stuff on the thread. I may have to wash the thread first-something I've never had to do before...I will have to ask them about it. It is pre-measured which also worries me a bit...I've always had bad luck with kits not having enough thread to finish the project, but have always had good luck with companies sending me more (hopefully it will be the same with Yiota's).

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The chart is printed on a good paper, but it's double-sized and sort of glossy. I always make a copy of the original on to my preferred paper anyway (usually a copy cover or light cardstock, makes for more sturdiness and an easier surface for marking done areas with a highlighter - glossy paper and highlighters don't mix and thin paper leads to highlighter bleed through). I have had to split up a double-sized paper chart before, so I'm no stranger to it, but it definitely ain't easy getting the chart set right as well as finding and marking the overlap areas! Besides, I think it's easier to work with charts that are on one sheet of normal-sized paper anyway. The bigger sheets tend to not do well in paper props and get mangled faster.

But other than the paper issues, the symbols are a good size for us blind folk and they are easy to see and read! There are no backstitches or half stitches, another big bonus...but until I actually start stitching it, I'm not sure how easily it will flow. It is very confetti, but I would expect that from an impressionistic stitch (and would encourage it). I can't speak for how confetti their non-impressionistic stitches are (but I will probably find out someday).

I'm really excited to start this stitch (although it's in a long waiting list)! Good job Yiota's! I have very high standards and no kit, other than one I have built myself, is gonna get an A+ rating. I would definitely give them an A on the material and thread with a B+ on the chart (strictly due to paper issues), but, overall, I would say the kit gets a solid A-. The problems I did find were minimal and probably only another OCD brain like mine would be bothered by them anyway.

If you'd like to look through their catalog and choose your own, just go to their website at www.yiotas-xstitch.com. They are a UK based company, but that shouldn't scare off the American buyers, it just means that, with the currency difference, we will be paying a bit more than the list price (since it's in British pounds instead of dollars). There is a very wide selection, which seemingly gets added to quite often! I look forward to seeing any of Monet's London-series they add in the future (hint, hint!).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Liebster Award!

Dy Saturday over at (parenthetical asides) has given me a Liebster award! As per usual, I've been offline resting up after the A to Z Challenge, and I'm still not ready to get back in the full swing of blogging and/or stitching yet. But I will definitely answer his questions and give my own awards in the very near future.

Something else is hogging my attention right now...I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!! I'm still in the early planning stages, but the trip is booked and there is much to do before that magical 180 day mark hits me square in the face. This is going to be a strange trip to plan because of the logistics of it. Of course Am and I are going, but this trip is for Mother and she wanted to bring a friend as well, so it's two separate rooms and all the issues that come with it. Disney always insists on putting the park hours out only days before it's time to book dining and it's always a race to come up with several viable schedules in preparation for dining complications. When the passholder discounts come out, I'll have to change things around again. But far be it from me to succeed control of Disney planning to anyone, so I must rise to the challenge! I'm not good at a lot of things, but I am definitely a Disney planning expert!

Plus, planning the next Disney trip makes me finally break down and make our photo DVD from the last trip. You wouldn't think a photo slideshow would be that big a deal, but by the time you go through 5000 pictures (not an exaggeration-you'd think after all these years I wouldn't feel the need to take so many bloody pictures), edit out the bad, merge them together with Am's while editing out whose duplicate is better (sorry Am, it's usually mine!), going through each picture and de-noising or straightening or auto correcting, naming and re-naming to keep them in the proper order while you are dividing them into separate days, then actually making the DVD and creating special menus for the year, picking the music, yada yada yada...long story short (too late, I know), it's a pain in the backside and I usually put it off as long as possible.

It's pretty hard to go through the pictures when you get back because of the condition known as WDW-Withdrawal Syndrome...it's just too much of a reminder that you are no longer at Disney. This syndrome can last weeks for some, months for others (like me) and can be quite crippling from a picture editing standpoint. I did actually start on the pics not long after we got back, so the duds have already been cut and I managed to get the total down to 3200, but it was just too painful and I had to stop for a while. This weekend I started back up again and finished the merge of mine and Am's, the dividing into days, and the renaming and am now in the process of editing each individually (the longest stage of the entire process). Once I get to the DVD building stage, it will all be smooth sailing once that first menu is created. I'm sure it will take two DVD's again this year, the bigger the pixel size gets in cameras, the more space they take up!

On the home front, life is pretty good in the Keebs house! Bam and Zach are finally starting to get along and I just can't get over how much Bam loves me already! Truth be told, I'd much rather hold and snuggle him than stitch right now (and I think it's safe to say he feels the same). But he is definitely not the little angel he played at being when he first came home...dude got an evil gene (just like his dear old mum)!

OK, enough rambling, I've got work to do!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A To Z Challenge Reflections Post - 2013

Once again, it's time for a "Reflections" post for the April A to Z Challenge. I went about this years challenge completely different. I decided very early on that I wanted to branch out and not do Disney this year. Since my second passion was British television, it wasn't too hard to come up with the new subject matter. I have a very large collection of British DVD's and I thought there was no better place to plug the best British shows in my collection and possibly learn about new ones! I mapped my strategy months in advance, picked my shows, and even re-watched a few to remind me why I loved them. I managed to write all the posts in the two days prior to startup (which saved me from writing them every single night like I tried to do last year) and I was all prepared to sit the month by reading other people's posts and work on my "secret" stitching project!

But after the very first day, the Disney bug caught me bad. I felt like I was "cheating" on Disney and thus a second bonus challenge was born! I didn't want to do an entire full second challenge posting (since that would be just crazy), so I chose one Disney character (most days) that I personally love (even if they weren't mainstream) and went from there. Problem solved, even if I had to spend a few more days writing 26 more posts.

Each series attracted different readers (which I thought a bit strange...no one else shares my love of Disney and British TV?), but hopefully ya'll enjoyed them! And a truly massive holla out to Kate over at The Suddenly Kate Show, for helping me to come up with my British television blog title!

I've already admitted I'm a horrible commenter, both on other blogs and even responding on my own. That's the Social Anxiety Disorder "not" talking as it were. I read all the ones posted to me and new items were added to my Amazon.uk wishlist constantly (thanks everyone!), even if I didn't respond back. Maybe someday I'll wrap my head around the proper commenting protocol.

I made it completely through the list of all the A to Z Challengers, and although there were a lot of really good ones, they weren't on topics that spoke to me, so this year I only added a handful of new blogs to my follow list (and commented on even less, not because I didn't like them, I'm just not a commenter). I tended to lean more toward the supernatural and/or geek-type challenges this year. I was very surprised that I could find only one other Disney Challenge...last year there were dozens! But Cathy over at Tales Of The TCKK Family ended up being my favorite series of the whole challenge (that could have had something to do with the subject matter)! But really big kudos to her for stirring up my want to go back to Disney World (OK, so that's a lie...I always WANT to go to Disney, but I may actually get last years pictures put in DVD format before the next trip because of her wonderful pics!). I was also very surprised at the number of people who dropped out this year (including my bestie Kate...missed you girl!).

The Challenge organizers once again asked us to leave comments and put links to our blogs in the comment section, and again, as with last year, I HATE this practice and didn't do it! I comment on a blog because I want to and I sure ask heck ain't gonna use it as a marketing tool. I had numerous "Your blog is great! Read mine at blaa blaa blaa". That just guaranteed I wouldn't go anywhere near their blog, no matter how good it was. Those comments were posted en masse on every blog on the challenge list just to drum up followers and I have said numerous times, that's not why I blog or participate in the Challenge. I'm not in this to get more followers, for the challenge or just for blogging in general. I've always seen the Challenge as a way to push myself to, not only come up with subject matter for every letter of the alphabet, but to complete the challenge with my sanity intact (too late, I know). But I've never hid the fact that I see things from the "me" point of view anyway...welcome to the wonderful world of Aspergers!

For anyone who actually cares enough to go back and read both of this year's, as well as last year's posts, I now have the A To Z Challenge page updated with all of them for your reading enjoyment! The pages are listed at the top, or just click here.

Anyhoo, I think I will play it safe next year and do Disney again (to save myself the hassle of doing two separate challenges). I just have to come up with a different Disney idea! Not hard, right? I do actually already have several different ideas brewing...so watch this space!

Again, thanks to everyone for your support, welcome new followers, and welcome to the new blogs I'm now following! I'm sure most of the newbies will drop off after they see how mundane my day to day actually is (and what a horrible writer I really am), or even worse, get offended by my numerous Asper-rants, but no hard feelings when you get ready to bow out...I'm a hard person to understand (or so I'm told). I've said it before, even if I had no followers I would still be doing this because it's my world and I do it for me...therapy, if you will, Keebles style!!