Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bravo, Downton Abbey!

A muuuuch better finale than last year's, don't you think? I loved it! The costumes, royalty, intrigue, a ball. Oh, how I love a ball!

I've been a bit under the weather so I didn't actually watch DA until last night. I was only going to watch half of it, and get my sick self to bed, but I was rooted to my spot. I thought it was a wonderful wrap-up of several issues, with a few new characters and story lines to look forward to next season.

Now, a few thoughts for a few characters (in no particular order):

1. Harold. I was not prepared to like you, Harold, from the moment you arrived in London. To my surprise, I found myself looking for your face, hanging on your every word, hoping that you and that adorable Madeline would run off together in wedded bliss! I look forward to seeing you again.

2. Rose. I hope this little letter-scare of yours has managed to scare some sense into your beautifully coiffed head. I love everything you wear! And, you got to dance with the prince!!! Eeek!!!

3. Mary. I don't even know what to say about your embarrassment of riches (Blake, Gillingham, etc., etc., etc.). Thank you for not turning in Mr. Bates. I'm not in favor of murder but, come on! Anna did you quite the favor in Season 1, remember? Burning the ticket made more sense than turning him in.

4. Cora. I love watching you coast through life, all beautiful and serene but, would you stop a minute and consider your daughter, Edith.

5. Edith. Oh Edith. I'm glad you are bringing your daughter home. Do we really trust the tenant you have chosen to raise her and share your secret with, though?

6. Tom. Oh Tom. You make me shake my head, Tom. Watching you with that school teacher, taking her through the house, letting her go upstairs. Come on! It was like watching a horror movie and seeing some girl, in a dark house, deciding to look for the source of a strange sound in the even darker basement. Come on!

7. Mr. and Mrs. Bates. Go forth in happiness! But lets stop breaking the law, Mr. Bates.

8. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Watching you walk hand in hand in the surf was a lovely way to sign off.

What else? I loved the card sharp, purloined letter, flirtatious prince, slight of hand interlude. That was a fun way to bring history into the fiction. There was quite big, royal upheaval about to occur in Great Britain. It will be interesting to see how the inhabitants of Downton weather that.

I have always found that time in history quite fascinating, especially the effect WWI had on the world. There were so many changes in all areas of life. I've always wondered if people living at that time noticed the rush of change, invention, improvement, and loss. The differences between the Americans and the British were interesting to see. Poor Harold, trying to introduce himself to Edward. (Who hasn't had a conversation go all sideways like that!)

Well, as you can clearly see, I loved this episode. There were no tears or recriminations (Matthew. Oh Matthew). Just costumes and a ball and romances and witty banter and a beautiful day at the beach!

Monday, February 10, 2014

My 2014 Challenge

Last year, I decided to not buy myself any new books. I didn't consider this a resolution. I saw it as more of a challenge from me to me. Don't buy new books. Read what you have. Go to the library.

I succeeded in my challenge last year- no new books (unless they were a gift). I have decided to 'challenge' myself again this year, but how? I didn't want to do the same thing because I feel like last years' experiment made a good impression. Let's not push it!

So the other day, while wanting to rest my shoulder but needing to keep my fingers busy, I pulled out my stash of unfinished cross stitch projects to see what I could work on. I caught myself thinking, 'Maybe I should start something new?'

That was when the Challenge came to light. For 2014, do not start any new cross stitch projects until I all of the ones I have already started!

Why do I never finish what I start? Well, I have finished plenty, usually around Christmas time, for decorations and gifts. What I love about cross stitch most is not the finished product but the process. Making those little x's. Watching words and images emerge. It is soothing and comforting as I work on a sampler. (And it does not make my sore shoulder hurt!)

First up...

This is how I found it. It is a larger sampler, perfect for February, which will say 'I Love You More'. I will show you the completed sampler when it is finished. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Briar Rose Begins

Speaking of Downton Abbey....

For my next fairy tale portraits I am using 'Briar-Rose' by the Grimm brothers as my guide. And Downton Abbey! I've decided to give my subjects a 1920's wardrobe to choose from. (It's been a wonderful excuse to look at endless pictures of Downton Abbey costumes.)

Sketches are made. Fabrics are picked. Specifics are being nailed down.

First up is a sleeping Briar-Rose. Here are some pictures...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Downton Wins the Day

Ah, Downton Abbey. My refuge. My oasis of calm and beauty. You wonderful, schizophrenic show, you!

The first Sunday night in February for the past couple of years has provided me with a bit of a quandary, Superbowl vs. Downton Abbey. This year, not only was the choice simple, by nine o'clock that night, it was obvious. My "Can I change the channel now?" was answered with a "Yeah, go ahead."

The Abbey and its' inhabitants saved the day!

What a lovely episode!
Alfred got his place at the Ritz and Ivy got put in her place. About time on both counts!
The Downstairs group got to inch their way a little bit further into the 20th century thanks to Roses' jazz band.
Mary was zingin' this way and that.
Isobel put the Dowager in her place.
The Dowager put Isobel in her place.
Cora put that glorified waiter in his place.
Anna and Bates loved on each other.

All was right with the world! (Except for Edith. Oy!)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dryers & Shoulders

I have decided to designate this day as 'Administrative Catch-Up Day'. I will also be playing the part of my Executive Administrative Assistant. Because, not only do I deserve to be an Executive deserving of an Administrative Assistant, but I also deserve the title of Executive Administrative Assistant. Which is to say, I'd rather be wasting my time typing out the words 'Executive Administrative Assistant' than deal with all of the administrative work I have let go by the wayside this past week.

This day will be filled with a lot of organizing, scheduling, planning, and loud sighing. So far the loud sighing part of my day has gone splendidly.


These past two weeks have been overshadowed by two Major Events which have resulted in the need for an Administrative Catch-Up Day. Event the First is 'The Betrayal of the Clothes Dryer'. (Volume 2 is titled, 'Please Fix It, Darling Husband'.) My dryer quit working last week when I had one load left to dry. I was able to take the wet clothes to my parents empty apartment, to dry in their laundry room. I picked up McDonald's for lunch on the way and brought a book. No big deal.

The dryer proved itself to be beyond a quick fix (thus Vol. 2) and is in need of a new motor. My husband will be replacing the motor tonight but, in the interim, I have still had to do laundry. I wash the clothes at my house, load my car with baskets of wet clothes, drive them to my parents apartment, and dry them there. Times two. In much Snow. Dealing with Major Event the Second.

Event the Second is 'I Hurt My Shoulder' (read in a whiny voice to get the full impact). I don't know how I hurt my shoulder but I did. I won't go into to the details of my pain: when it hurts, how much it hurts, etc. Suffice it to say...IT HURTS! It wants to get better, this painful right shoulder-neck-collarbone-arm-elbow combo of mine. Unfortunately, there is much that conspires against my recovery. Things like washing my hair, drying my hair, getting dressed, getting undressed, putting on heavy winter coat, taking off heavy winter coat, driving through snow and ice....Well, you get the idea. The most devastating activity that hampers my shoulders recovery is...CARTING BASKETS OF WET LAUNDRY ALL OVER LANSING, MICHIGAN, US of A!

What I have discovered while dealing with these Major Events is that my world will only successfully turn if my dryer is working and I can move the upper right quadrant of my body without whimpering. Who knew?!

All of this shameful yet therapeutic venting is to say that I've been a bit off my game. I finally decided on Tuesday to 'take it easy', as much as possible. A lot is not getting done, which frustrates me, but this shoulder-area of mine has got to get better. That is why I figured I'd use today to get caught up on my 'paperwork'.

Perhaps followed by a cup of tea while watching 'Now, Voyager'. For my Shoulder.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snow-White & Rose-Red portrait series (Fairy Tale series #1)

I know I was going to wait until Monday to release these but, with Valentine's Day coming up, I thought I'd get a jump on it. So, without further ado, Snow-White & Rose-Red (two portraits and a box)...

And who better to introduce them than the Grimm Brothers.

There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white, and the other Rose- red.

They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her housework, or read to her when there was nothing to do.

The two children were so fond of one another that they always held each other by the hand when they went out together, and when Snow- white said: ’We will not leave each other,’ Rose-red answered: ’Never so long as we live,’ and their mother would add: ’What one has she must share with the other.’

 A short time afterwards the mother sent her children into the forest to get firewood. There they found a big tree which lay felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was jumping backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could not make out what it was. When they came nearer they saw a dwarf with an old withered face and a snow-white beard a yard long. The end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the little fellow was jumping about like a dog tied to a rope, and did not know what to do.

 The children tried very hard, but they could not pull the beard out, it was caught too fast. ’I will run and fetch someone,’ said Rose-red. ’You senseless goose!’ snarled the dwarf; ’why should you fetch someone? You are already two too many for me; can you not think of something better?’ ’Don’t be impatient,’ said Snow-white, ’I will help you,’ and she pulled her scissors out of her pocket, and cut off the end of the beard.

It happened that soon afterwards the mother sent the two children to the town to buy needles and thread, and laces and ribbons. The road led them across a heath upon which huge pieces of rock lay strewn about. There they noticed a large bird hovering in the air, flying slowly round and round above them; it sank lower and lower, and at last settled near a rock not far away. Immediately they heard a loud, piteous cry. They ran up and saw with horror that the eagle had seized their old acquaintance the dwarf, and was going to carry him off.


 The children, full of pity, at once took tight hold of the little man, and pulled against the eagle so long that at last he let his booty go. As soon as the dwarf had recovered from his first fright he cried with his shrill voice: ’Could you not have done it more carefully! You dragged at my brown coat so that it is all torn and full of holes, you clumsy creatures!’ Then he took up a sack full of precious stones, and slipped away again under the rock into his hole. The girls, who by this time were used to his ingratitude, went on their way and did their business in town.

{In the midst of the story, the two sisters met a lovely bear, who became their friend. He spent the winter with them, in their warm home, but when spring came, he went away. Snow-White was sad to see him go, but a small piece of his fur was left behind as a memento.}

The girls had run away, but the bear called to them: ’Snow-white and Rose-red, do not be afraid; wait, I will come with you.’ Then they recognized his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there a handsome man, clothed all in gold. ’I am a king’s son,’ he said, ’and I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf, who had stolen my treasures; I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment.

Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-red to his brother, and they divided between them the great treasure which the dwarf had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for many years. She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window, and every year bore the most beautiful roses, white and red.

 The End


Both portraits measure approximately 8" x 10", the box is approximately 6".
All pieces are hand-sewn, hand-drawn, and hand-painted. The box is a re-purposed Whitman's Sampler Valentine's box.

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