Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Quarry, Part 2

Wow, three posts in as many days...I think that's a record here at Snapdragon : )

I know I said castle pictures but it's the end of the month and that means it's time for progress pictures on my Scarlet Quince stitching projects!  Woohoo!  Oh, check out their two newest designs, both with umbrellas--very pretty.  Anyway, I was a very busy little stitcher this month (which explains why I haven't worked on baby books in a while, although I did finish all those wedding invitations) so here's what this month's project will eventually look like:

I did a bit of Googling on Julian Onderdonk, the artist who painted this work, and found out he was an Impressionist who lived in San Antonio, Texas, which explains the bluebonnets.  Reminds me and Ree of home, I love bluebonnets.  So without further ado, here's how far I've gotten (click for a larger view):

Lots of progress since Part 1!  I admit, the first week and a half were pretty boring this month as I was just working with that off-white color all over the top.  Sure it goes faster than a lot of color changes, but it's not as much fun to do especially since it's such a pale color.  For some reason I feel like I get more progress done on the butterfly fairy since the big swatches on that are in black.  At any rate, I did finally get to some more interesting bits (I was so excited to get to some blues and greens) and I managed to put in a whopping 10,766 stitches this month.  I'm now at a total of 12,166 and 9.29% completed (only 118,802 more to go!).  I worked hard to get the entire first page completely finished, and I've got about half of the second page done as well thanks to the sky going so fast, plus bits of three other pages.  I also worked with *lots* of different symbols once I finished the sky:

I ended last time with just one lonely needle on The Quarry's needle board, and now it's the most crowded of the four projects.  This is also why every time I go to the craft store I buy a bunch more needles...luckily they're only $1.30 for a pack of five.  I think my biggest problem is going to be keeping all the floss untangled, though so far it's worked out okay.

This piece is different from the other three I have in rotation:  it's Impressionist whereas I tend to favor the Pre-Raphaelites (I read some about them on the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia), it's the only horizontal one, and it's the only landscape where the other three all have people in them.  It's kind of fun though because at first it doesn't look like *anything* and then suddenly you can see a tree.  I'm thinking of working down and then across on this one so it won't take twelve years before I get to work on any of the bluebonnets.  For now, I'm dusting off the butterfly fairy once again and preparing to work with lots of black.

If you're curious, while I was stitching this month I watched (well really, kind of listened to while stealing occasional glances) the rest of Veronica Mars season 2, seasons 1 and 2 of NCIS (plus part of season 3, I watched all of the Kate episodes), a few other shows on TV, and a variety of movies including both Ghostbusters, Goonies, Robin Hood (Prince of Thieves *and* Men in Tights), A Knight's Tale, and Superman IV.  That one was on TV and we couldn't help but watch it (ignoring the fact that we have it on DVD and I don't think I've ever seen it before).  Lee and I both laughed uproariously when Supes repaired the Great Wall of China by staring at it and all the bricks flew back into place.  Good ol' fashioned '80s cheese, I love it.  Lee isn't quite as fond of it as I am, but we're both game for a good action flick.

Enough yakkin' from me, I'm going to go take my kiddos for a walk and hope they are less crazy than yesterday.  Cheers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leeds Castle, Part 2

K, so you guys liked the Leeds Castle photos more than the Hawaii photos, I woke up to 3 comments this morning : )  And I noticed in my sidebar that I've got some new peeps and even more amazing to me, these are people I've never met IRL...I'm honored you guys think I'm entertaining enough to read my lil old blog!

Since I know Mom has seen the last blog post thanks to her comment, I'm gonna move forward and post the rest of our Leeds photos.  Well, not all of them, but the second batch of the ones I do want to post.  So after we went through the dog collar museum (yep, still weird), we walked through the garden a little bit and you KNOW I took some more flower photos.

Here's a thistle, one of the emblems of Scotland.  I got the new Stampin' Up stamp set Nature's Pace mostly because it has a thistle in it...haven't used it yet but I will.  Lee thinks this looks like a weed.  I was surprised how tall it is, there were some thistle plants that were taller than I am.

Cheery sunflowers.  Or daisies that look like sunflowers.  Whatever, they're still cheery.

I liked this one because it kind of reminds me of a powder puff (not the PowerPuff Girls, a powder puff).

I took two pictures of this flower...I liked the vivid color on it.  Above is my shot, below is the one Lee suggested.

After we perused the garden a bit, we went to the maze and wandered around it for a while.  Lee will tell you that I stink at navigating but I was just wandering around for the fun of it and trying to avoid the puddles.  Lee got us to the center by cheating (looking *through* the hedges).

There was a French family in the maze at the same time, so I was kind of listening to the mom who was already in the center as she gave directions to the kids.  My French is still terribly rusty, but at least I could tell what she was talking about.  There's a big grotto in the center of the maze so the French maman was on top of that, also where I took this picture from.  I tried a few pictures inside the grotto but with the low lighting and lack of tripod none of them turned out well.  They had a recording of a guy reciting lines from Rime of the Ancient Mariner playing in the grotto; I remember studying that in school (and not liking it overmuch).

We left the maze just in time to see the bird show.  The last private owner of Leeds Castle, Lady Baillie, had a thing for birds, so the castle has its own aviary (we didn't go through that though).

Lee's favorite bird was the Macaw.  I think it's fun to watch birds but I've never had the yen to own one myself.  Anyway, after the show, we finally went inside the castle.  I didn't take hardly any pictures in there, but here's one I did grab:

Lady Baillie's shoe collection : )  I liked her yellow dressing room too, it was a nice warm shade of yellow.  I think Lee is slightly afraid of my liking yellow walls as I told him once I'd like to have a yellow kitchen with white cabinets.

We were just about ready to head back to our car when it started raining heavily again, so we hung out for a few minutes and Lee took my picture so that I have proof that I own a totally awesome Goonies shirt!  Then Lee led us down the wrong path and we walked through a ginormous sheep pasture before we turned around and walked back to find the correct path back to our car.

On the plus side, our detour gave the weather some time to clear up a bit so I got one more nice shot of the castle exterior:

And we saw the peacock again, who was busily preening its feathers.  We tried whistling at it to make it look towards us, with some small success:

And then people walked behind us and looked at us like we were crazy for whistling at the peacock.  Whatever, people.

After our visit to Leeds Castle, we drove down to our hotel in Folkestone and settled in for the night.  Fear not, I have more castle pictures to share soon!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Leeds Castle, Part 1

Well, my last batch of Hawaii photos didn't exactly set the blogosphere on fire, but luckily I have some new photos to share for the next week or so : ) Lee had a 4-day weekend so we took the opportunity to take a little trip to explore southeast England for a couple of days.  This was a Missy-Approved Excursion (R) as there were stairs and hiking and climbing galore.  We always invoke Missy's name when we have to climb more than two flights of stairs...k, while I complain about climbing so many stairs.

So anyway, our first stop was Leeds Castle near Maidstone.   We hit surprisingly little traffic even when we skirted London on the way down, so it took us less than two hours to get there.  Somewhat unfortunately, this weekend was full of your stereotypical English weather so we got rained on several times, but we still got some good photos anyway.  To get to the castle, we first had to traverse part of the rather extensive grounds, and it turns out that Leeds hosts several bird colonies, including some black swans:

Once again, Lee insists that I take almost all of the photos since he's trying to force me to learn how to fiddle with the settings on the camera.  What that means is that probably at least 90% of the photos I'm going to share for the next couple posts were taken by yours truly : )

I love the look of weeping willows, and they look even cooler when reflected in water.  They also remind me of a Patsy Cline song, "I saw a weeping willow cryin' on his pillow, maybe he's cryin' for me..."  My great-grandmother introduced me to the music of Patsy Cline.  My favorite song of hers is "Stop the World and Let Me Off".  But I digress.

Lee requested I take this shot.  They had a few fountain-y type things around the grounds but we didn't really walk too close to any of them.  Still, we both liked the bright orange leaves of that one young tree.

Another denizen of the castle grounds...we saw a sign when we first came in that mentioned the peacocks so I wasn't surprised to see this one.  There were actually two but we think maybe they were both peahens as they didn't have the big fantastic tails.

We (mostly I) took about 120 photos at Leeds, including LOTS of photos of the exterior of the castle.  Parts of it date back to the 1100s, after William the Conqueror, but for once here's a castle that was *not* built by Henry II.  It was extensively remodeled in the 1800s and looks much more like a country estate with castle-y features than a defensive keep, although it does have a moat.

Lee liked the reflections of the arches : )

And the castle, kind of fun how it's a mirror image.  We were wishing the skies weren't so overcast, but I do have to admit that it was funny how Lee followed me around with the umbrella while I took pictures.  Not to keep me dry, but to protect the camera, ha!

Finally getting up towards the keep itself.  Since we took our time on the way up, it was pretty close to lunchtime when we got to the castle itself, so we decided to take a break and eat lunch before we explored the grounds more.  Plus it rained pretty hard while we were having lunch, so it was a good time to be inside for a bit.  Everything on the menu at the restaurant where we ate was locally sourced; Lee and I both had gammon (ham), cooked carrots, and potatoes and it was totally delicious.  Seriously, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, YUM.

After lunch, we went across the courtyard to see what has to be the weirdest thing ever:  the dog collar museum.  For reals?  Who has a museum of DOG COLLARS?!  I mean, I totally love Sadie and Vader, but a museum of dog collars seems a bit extreme even to me, yet here it is.

Some of them date back to the 1700s, pretty crazy huge affairs made out of brass or silver and they looked like they'd be rather uncomfortable for the dogs to wear.

These spiky ones are really old, and they're for hunting dogs; the spikes were to protect the dogs from bears or wolves which would attack by grabbing the dog around the neck.  They also had some more recent dog collars made out of plain ol' nylon from the UK's version of the ASPCA or Humane Society, an organization that promotes the adoption of pound puppies like my two sweet lil doglets.

In an effort to drag this out as long as possible (haha) that's all the photos for today.  I'll post some more in a day or two with more Leeds Castle shots, and I should have enough pictures left for several more posts before I have to resort to the last of the Hawaii pictures.  Meanwhile, it's back to work for Lee tomorrow and I'm getting back to the baby books before Tiana and Sarah have their babies.  No rest for the wicked!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hawaiian Flowers

We had a very low-key weekend...went to see Cowboys & Aliens (kind of...meh) on Saturday and did a whole lotta NUTHIN' yesterday, which was fantastic.  I spent a lot of the day cross stitching and watching DVDs:  Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters, and several episodes of NCIS season 2.  I may have overdone it with the NCIS though, I had a dream last night that I worked for Gibbs.  And as much as I love Gibbs and Tony on TV, I think if I knew them in real life I'd have to strangle them : )  That said, in my dream, Gibbs said I was smart so that's something.  At least he didn't smack me on the back of the head.

So anyway, since we didn't go anywhere interesting this weekend and I don't have any more baby book pages to share yet (which will hopefully change this week), I thought I'd go back to more Hawaii photos.  What I'm going to post next time I don't have anything going on, I don't know.  But for today, here's some pictures of the flowers in the garden of our hotel in Honolulu.

'Cause I love purple : )

I think this is pink ginger.  I just think it's cool-looking.

The bird of paradise is an elegant bird, it likes to be seen and it loves to be heard...and now I have the Tiki Room song stuck in my head, heh.

And there's a gecko.  Why is it that I'm totally terrified of spiders and bugs of all kinds but geckos don't bother me at all?

Well....I like pink ginger.  And I had two good pictures of it : )

And there's us in Hawaii!  I wanna go back to Hawaii sometime.  Lee didn't get to go see a volcano the first time, that means we've gotta go back again, right?

K, I'm off to do something productive in my craft room.  And do more laundry.  And hopefully next time I'll have something new to share, 'cause I've only got enough Hawaii pictures for one more post, ha!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Playing in the Dirt Pile

So a couple of weeks ago, the Dirty Dozen on Splitcoast hosted this year's Dare to Get Dirty challenges and I played along in a few of them, but since I got that cold I never uploaded what I made.  Well, better late than never, so here's some stampy goodness for you today.

K, so this one wasn't for the DTGD challenges, this is the card that I posted a while back saying I thought it needed something I added the flowers : )  Much better, although still not my most favoritest card ever.

I've had the French Foliage stamp set since last fall and this is the first time I've used it...oh wait, don't tell Lee that : )  Anyway, I think I'll make some more fall cards with it this year, it's such a pretty set.  On this card I used the gold Shimmer Spray that SU sells, first time I've tried that too.  I really liked the effect on the card, not quite so much on the bathroom wall where I accidentally sprayed it, hehe.  Luckily the wall is tile so it wiped right off.

I love these mermaid stamps.  I tried a new-to-me technique called marker layering to color them in; I like how it looked on their hair but not on the tails.  I think this technique is better for smaller areas.  The one on the right I colored with blonde hair and a reddish tail so she looks like Madison on Splash (which I had just watched when I colored her in).  I tried to do red hair on the middle one but it turned out much browner than red...she's kinda supposed to look like Ariel.  And the black-haired one on the left was just for funsies.

One of my friends here just found out she's pregnant, so I made this for her.  Also not one of my favorite cards, I think the sketch was just too fiddly for my taste.  I'd put some punched-out flowers on here but hated it, so ripped them off and put on a Prima instead.  The button was actually cuter than it looks in the photo, it had just a bit of glitter in the center.

Unfortunately, this one is for a friend whose dog just passed away.  I hate making cards like this, but I think this one turned out very nicely.

And here's what I've been working on today:  Kelly's wedding stuff.  The invitations are practically done (I ran out of ribbon for the last 10 or so, but that will arrive tomorrow) and I just emailed Kelly this picture to see what she thinks of the medallions for centerpieces and the tags for favors.  The eyelets are actually a muted gold color,  not sure how well that shows up in the photo, but it looks good with the fall colors on here.

As soon as I finish the wedding stuff for Kelly, I'm going to attack the baby books again.  I got some new patterned paper and a few stamps in the mail last week so I'm rarin' to go!  Y'all have a great day out there on the Interwebs.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Random Star Wars Funnies

I got a souvenir when we were in Nottingham, but it wasn't anything to do with Robin Hood.  Nope, at the Nottingham Museum gift shop, I found a magnet that looks like this:

Which cracked me up and I had to buy it.  I found this picture on the Internet 'cause I'm too lazy to go downstairs, grab the magnet, and scan it.

Today I'm wearing a shirt with the galaxy's most rockin' band ever.  The guy at the post office really liked it.  I got comments earlier in the week for wearing a Goonies shirt to the grocery store, and last week a little girl started talking to me about my Ghostbusters shirt.  All of which means I have an awesome collection of t-shirts.  And that 80s movies are where it's at.  I need a Princess Bride shirt.

Just because Google knows everything.

Kind of what today feels like.  We had a miserable night last night...I went to bed after midnight, then Vader woke me up less than an hour later when he got sick all over the floor in the study (which is the only room downstairs that is carpeted, WHY does he choose THAT one?!) and then Sadie refused to come back in the house after I let them outside to go clean the carpet, so I was chasing her down in the backyard at like two in the morning.  And Lee hadn't even gotten home from work yet, so I think his week kinda trumps mine.  But anyway, I've had a headache most of the day and I'm tired.  And maybe a little cranky.  So I bought some chocolate when I was out today.  Chocolate makes everything better, except the number on the scale, which I don't step on anymore anyway.

Wonder how much it cost Boba Fett to get THAT on a plane.  I'm sure it weighs more than 50 pounds.

This would be even funnier if it said "Resistance is futile", but that's a Star Trek line so that would mean crossing the geek streams and universe-ending paradoxes might ensue.  But it would be funny first.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ooh, SHINY!!!

So guess who's getting that cold now?  Lee tried really hard not to share it with me, but I started to feel the effects on Sunday night.  Luckily I haven't had it nearly as bad as Lee, probably because as soon as I started to feel crummy I rested a lot and took it easy.  I think I spent all day Monday on the couch watching movies like Goonies ("HEY YOU GUYS!!!") and then yesterday it took me most of the day to go to the doctor (more thyroid stuff {thyroid is fine, so now we're going to try me taking vitamins to see if that helps with the fatigue issues}, not my cold, although I also had my right wrist X-rayed since it's been hurting me more and more lately, the X-ray tech refused to take the last picture 'til I said "cheese" and this is a really long parenthetical aside), eat lunch, and do the grocery shopping.  I kind of putted around and didn't get home until almost 3 in the afternoon.  Waiting at the doc's office gave me time to start re-reading one of my more recent favorite books, Percy Jackson and the Olympians:  The Lightning Thief.  I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again:  FABULOUS book.  Way better than the movie.

So anyway,  on to some photos.  When we were in Nottingham on Saturday (and really, I think it's so cool that we got to go to Nottingham!!) Lee was teasing me that I'll be walking along and suddenly it's like "Ooh, SHINY!!!" and I've disappeared to go check out said shiny object.  Saturday's shiny objects were flowers (big surprise, huh?), specifically the most magnificent group of hydrangeas I've ever seen.

Maybe it doesn't look so magnificent in this picture, but this was only about half the bushes, and they all had flowers in different colors.  You can alter the flower color by controlling the alkalinity of the soil, so someone has obviously worked very hard on these hydrangeas to produce a veritable rainbow of flowers.

I've been partial to hydrangeas since my wedding.  The day that Lee asked me to marry him, I bought my first bridal magazine (and we also went to see The Santa Clause 2:  The Mrs. Clause, wasn't that appropriate?) and in that very first magazine I found the inspiration for my bouquet.  The original photo had sweet peas, not hydrangeas, but sweet peas weren't in season in October when we got married, so my bouquet was hydrangeas and it was beautiful.  So now you know why I like hydrangeas so much.  Plus, you know, *purple*.

Anyway, when I saw these hydrangeas, of course I had to go take lots of pictures of them.

The colors ranged from really pale (one almost white, you'll see it further down) to such saturated colors you'd think that they were painted, Alice in Wonderland red roses style.

Love this color of blue, isn't it pretty?

I have a bitty potted hydrangea on my kitchen windowsill, and when I got that Lee looked up how you can make the flowers change color.  The blue and pink are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum so I'm kind of curious as to how the mysterious gardener could have changed the soil chemistry for two adjacent bushes so significantly.

Yeah, I like purple.  I took lots of purple flower pictures : D  I had purple hydrangeas in my wedding bouquet, but the florist had to paint them to get them really vibrant purple.  Maybe she shoulda talked to whoever grew these.

I like this one with the fuzzy hydrangeas in the foreground.

I didn't mess with the color at all on this photo, so you can see how bright pink the flowers were.  Pretty amazing.

See, here's the white one I was talking about.  I have no idea how you make a hydrangea turn white.

So here you can get an idea how tall some of the bushes were, and how big the flower heads are.  I'm standing up, the ground is more or less level, and that bunch of hydrangeas is on a level with my head--I'm 5 foot six or so.

All the hydrangeas were next to the Museum of Nottingham Life (we didn't go in) at the base of Castle Rock, except this one--we walked back around and up the hill to go back to the "castle" and I saw these on the way (Lee:  "There you go again, ooh SHINY!!").

Well anyway, I think I'll go clean up my craft room so I can actually find my stamping space.  Why is my craft room always in disarray?  Oh yeah, that's right:  it's creative clutter.  Ta-ta!