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Cats – A story of love

Sorry people.  This one’s going to be a long one 🙂

Our story begins a little over 23 years ago with the birth of a beautiful baby girl who is the light of my life and has grown up to be my best friend.  Her name is Kayla and she makes me smile every day with her existence.

We fast forward 20 years from that date to 2012 and I start to think about what I would like to do for her 21st birthday next year (2013).

I had recently given up smoking and had begun stitching again to ‘give my hands something to do’.  In the course of this I rediscovered my love of stitching and had produced a couple of smaller pieces from the Cross Stitch Collection magazine.  An ad in the back of the mag led me to a website http://heavenandearthdesigns.com/.  I could not believe my eyes at the beauty of the designs.  These are works of art transposed into pattern for stitching and they are stunning.

Within a week I had a wish list of over 100 designs and had picked out one for my first HAED (Heaven and Earth Design) project.  I had picked Cats by Stephanie Pad-Mun Law as I thought it might be something Kayla would love and I would make it for her birthday.

Bear in mind here that the most intricate work that I had ever undertaken were Mirabilia’s and Lavender & Laces, only one of which hangs in my home.  They usually took me around 4 months to stitch and I always stitched on 32 count linen, 2×2 (that’s 2 threads over 2 holes for those none stitchy people) but always elected the 1×1 option for the faces.

So off I went, ignoring the written instructions, and purchased some 32 count Belfast. I sat with stitching and 15 pages of pattern in hand and began. 2×1 (2 threads 1 hole) was how I thought best to tackle this one. About 2 weeks in I found that I really didn’t like the way it looked.  2 threads over 1 square was too bulky for my taste. So I tried to frog (rip it, rip it) it out. Turns out that this pattern which is high in confetti (multiple colour/thread changes in short spaces) and removing it is not as easy as one would think. After a short time I realised that I wasn’t getting these stitches out without ruining the fabric.

So off I went again to purchase a second lot of 32 count Belfast.  I stitched away for about a 2 months, 1×1 this time, before giving up.  I found that stitching on 32 count Belfast when going 1×1 makes me go severely cross-eyed.  I was constantly making mistakes and, quite frankly, not enjoying myself at all.  I hadn’t even completed my first page in those 2 months! So I threw it on the ground and did the Mexican hat dance on it.

I walked away from her for a month.  At this stage the only person who knew about this present was my husband so I could have easily given up and nobody would have ever needed to know about it.

But I couldn’t.

Something about this one called to me and I really believed that Kayla would like it.  Her taste in art and things is very different from mine so it was not without trepidation that I started again.  This time on 28 count Lugana.  Finally it started to come together.

It was now February 2013 and I knew the chances of getting her done in time were pretty remote.  As she has 100,575 stitches in her I was going to need to stitch about 500 stitches a day.  When you work full time this is a bit of a big ask but I figured oh well, I will get heaps stitched before August and just show Kayla and it will be done when it’s done.

Little did I know our lives were about to become rather topsy turvy.

My beautiful mother-in-law was battling terminal cancer.  By March 2013 we started to realise that her time with us was drawing to an end and we needed to devote more and more time to her.  Her hospital stays were becoming more frequent. I spent my lunchtimes with her when I could. Doing her chores, getting some groceries etc. and by the end of June she went in to a palliative care for the final stretch. First in Hamilton then in Matamata.

July rolled around and towards then end of the month I got a phone call to say my mother had seen a new doctor that day and was rushed into hospital in Tauranga.  She had cancer but they didn’t know where or how bad so she had to stay there for diagnostics.  For a couple of weeks there my husband and I kissed each other goodbye beside a car and each ran off to a different hospital.

August arrived.

My mum was out of hospital and awaiting surgery for the stomach tumour that they had found and Fay was getting sicker.

And my mojo was gone.

I had managed about 3 or 4 pages before all this but had reached a point that I could not pick Cats up.  I was attempting to go with smaller projects and some Hardanger but I have never finished any of those. My attention span was in the toilet. It was all I could do to juggle work and parents.  Stitching was a disaster.

So Kayla’s big day rolled around. I didn’t have a finished project for her but I put together a box of bits and pieces.  I made her a cooking journal.  I got all the nana’s and one granddad to write their favourite recipes in it and I covered it in donut material. I also gave her my high school ring and my 21st ring. We also gave her a 21st charm for her Pandora. At the bottom of the box I put the stitch and a picture of what it was going to be completed.  She cried and gave me happy hugs so I guess I picked the right pattern lol

My husband and I were alternating nights at the hospital with Fay. As we live in a different town we would take turns spending the night at her flat but stay with her till around 10 at night. It meant that we were on hand if the phone call came but it meant more than that as well. It meant that I only saw my husband for a coffee in the morning and half an hour after work. Eventually, in September, Fay passed. In October mum went into hospital for surgery.  After a little healing time mum then began 6 months of weekly chemo.

Of course we were there with her the whole way through.

My mojo was still gone.

Mid 2014 and I had not picked up Cats in about 9 months apart from a day here or there.  It took 6 months for one page completion.

That’s when I started doing cushions and some other small but fun projects.  It took a couple of months but by the end of 2014 my stitchy bug came home with avengeance. It helped that I managed to cause myself a major knee injury that took 7 months to get operated on so I was stuck on the couch a lot 🙂

Finally, on October 6 2015, I put the final stitch in. Dinner was about 2 hours late and we celebrated with bubbles 🙂

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Kayla sent a message saying yay and get that wine off my cross stitch 😀

Sadly she has 2 major flaws, or learning curves if you prefer, that are hard to hide.  I have discovered how much a colour can change between batch lots.  This very noticable between pages 2 and 3.  Also, because of her size, I used gridding for the first time with a washable pink marker.  Turns out that the washable part was not entirely factual and you can see it a bit through the stitching.  I am hopeful that will fade out over time but reality says, it is what it is.

I could beat myself up over those 2 things but at the end of the day what would that achieve? She is beautiful and the flaws just show that she was made by hand with love.

So after that epic story of her creation I expect you would like to see a framed and finished photo so here she is.  Cats by Stephanie Pad-Mun Law, also know very affectionately as 50 shades of Beige. The photo does not do her colours any justice at all but she is beautiful.

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#stitchinglife

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Food

I love to cook.  I love to create meals that make people smile.  I love to share my food with anyone who wants to come to my home and sit with us. My door, and table, is always open.

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Its a fold out table so heaps of room and if we do manage to run out there are the two outdoor dining areas that we can utilise so see, heaps of room 🙂

This week I made a couple of new things.  We love salads and have them with most meals.I love Best Foods Mayonnaise but despise the price of the stuff. Seriously? $6 for a jar that lasts about 2 weeks if we are lucky. So I googled the copy cat recipe and boy am I glad that I did 🙂 I was super delicious and I made it at the counter using the stick blender.  Took about 2 minutes all up so not a huge time thing.  It is now a part of my day to day makes that will always be to hand. I took a photo of the recipe off the computer so I wouldn’t lose it 😉

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All stuff that we have in the cupboard and almost good for you 🙂

As I am currently off work after having had my knee surgery I have been making myself poached eggs for breakfast. They are just not the same without Hollandaise Sauce.  I usually have a jar of it in the fridge as I had heard that it is a bit of a drama to make from scratch but am currently out.  So I googled it and found this recipe from http://www.theshrinkingviolet.co.nz

To make this Hollandaise (which serves two generously!), you will need:

An egg yolk
A tsp of lemon juice
A tsp of water
Pinch of Salt
100g butter, melted.

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Halloween

Hi All

Sorry it has been a bit longer than I would like between postings.  I had surgery on my knee last week and mobility has been a bit of an issue. Healing fine now and enjoying my time out as it is such a wonderful time to catch up on my projects.

But more on them tomorrow 🙂

Today I want to show you my Halloween house.

I live in New Zealand and we don’t really celebrate Halloween.  For starters its the wrong time of year for us.  We are going into summer and Halloween, or  Samhain if you prefer, is about celebrating the end of summer so spring is the opposite of this.  Also we have just turned our daylight saving on so it doesn’t get dark till 9pm which is awfully late for little ones to be out trick or treating so our kids tend to do this in broad daylight.  This tends to take the spooky out of the day.

I have always envied the Americans and their Halloween celebrations.  It looks like such fun! And as a horror movie addict I have always wanted to flash my house up. As Halloween fell on a Saturday this year we, my husband and I, decided to have a few drinks with our neighbors and decorate just a little 😉

As we don’t really celebrate it decorations are a little hard to come by so I took to Pinterest  and created a board.  We built an awesome Grimm Reaper.  The little fella was about 6’5″ and, as I am not, rather hard to spray-paint his head 🙂 but I had a huge amount of fun making him and I was really happy with how he looked.  He was built the weekend before so he would dry in time.  Not bad for a broom, umbrella stand, couple of sheets and about 25 miles of duct tape.

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It left my hands a bit of a mess

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From there we decided to build a dancing ghost circle.

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We were going to light the fire but it was super windy and we didn’t want to end up with the house being burnt down so just settled for the illusion.

I laminated a sign and included Bayley the Bouncy Bunny in our decorations

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She seemed to appreciate the sentiment.

On the day we decorated the table

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And then there was us 😀

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After all that we had a fantastic night and served exactly 0 trick or treater’s.  We have a sneaking suspicion that they got frightened off by the Sangria drinking Zombies on the deck as people down the road were getting visit’s 😉

Still a fantastic night was had by all.

Till next time xxx