Tuesday, March 29, 2016

April A to Z Challenge Prep Work

I know today is Tuesday and I should be doing a Top 10 Tuesday, but since this week's topic is bucket lists and I've overexhausted that topic with my now-defunct Bucket List Fridays, I'm gonna skip this week's post. And, unfortunately, I'm going to bow out of April's Top 10 lists as well because of the A to Z Challenge. As always though, go over to Kate's and Tiff's blogs to see their Top 10's (or Top 5) for the week and if you want to join in, just let Kate know!

On the A to Z front, I've finally decided on a Disney subject for my second topic...My Disney Collection. There is no rhyme or reason to the way I collect Disney stuff (although there are definite themes) but there is enough that I can do a whole alphabet on it.

I've been collecting Disney things since I was little...well, until I turned 10 when my parents deemed me an adult and gave all my toys to my baby sister (there is a fine line between "toys" and "collectibles" in my book), but I've told that story numerous times and there is no need to stab a dead horse (although I may have to jab it a couple of times because that's just how I roll). Once I left home, I started re-collecting all the old toys I use to have, as well as started acquiring new stuff.

Some of it comes from Disney World, but most of it comes from the likes of eBay, Wal-Mart and even Dollar Tree. If it's Disney and I've got a couple bucks in my pocket, I shall have it! Thankfully, my family knows that when giftable holidays come around, the best gift is always the Disney gift.

I'm notorious for buying things "new in box" just so I can open the box myself, so I doubt the value of my collection is worth the material it's made with. I don't collect to re-sell or trade (the thought literally makes me sick), but just for my own enjoyment (besides, my Asper-ness won't let me lose any of it anyway). I don't have any expensive pieces (because I'm poor), but boy would I be in trouble if I ever won the lottery! There are also very few things I collect in their entirety, I tend to just get the pieces that correspond to my favorite characters, so their lack of completion also degradates their value.

For years, I had just a "duck room" (can you tell who my favorite character is?), but eventually it spread out in my tiny little mobile home until almost every room has been taken over. I doubt I'll ever be able to afford a "real" house, but if I did, I would need a humongous duck room because I miss having everything together. There is still and order to the collections (thanks OCD!), but I'm way to old to have toys all over my bedroom (and bathroom, and kitchen, etc).

I'm not going to show everything I have, mainly because it would take too much time to photograph everything, but also because I do occasionally use items as backgrounds for other blog posts, so I need to keep a bit of mystery (and also a tiny bit because I don't like to touch or rearrange stuff too much). We'll see how it goes, but I think I'm more excited about this section than the actual stitching!

For the stitching part, prep work has begun. I've gathered all the supplies:
Austen Alphabet00a
I had to make some tough decisions, specifically which fabric to use and I'm still not sure I picked the right one, but everything is in order now. I went with Picture This Plus's Jazz 18ct Aida.
Austen Alphabet00b
I'm just waiting to get started! See everyone Friday!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March WIPocalypse 2016


This month's question is: "Do you use hoops, stretcher bars, lap stands or Q snap frames and why? (viaCathieJ)"
I personally use scroll frames mounted on lap stands and have as long as I can remember. The stand frees up the project and I can easily stitch two-handed (which makes it go twice as fast). I have a floor stand too, but I tend to hunch over too much and it hurts my back. Upon occasion I will use hoops for smaller projects, but I have to stitch one-handed and it slows me down. I will often unknowingly grip the hoop so tightly with my right (I'm a dominant leftie so that hand gets to do all the stitching), my right hand cramps closed around the hoop and I literally have to pry it off. I've never tried stretcher bars (the logic escapes me), but I have a Q-snap frame (still in the package) for me to use on a supersized HAED. I've never tried to stitch without some sort of support. One of these days, I'm going to invest in a proper set of scroll frames and stands, but definitely not with my current budgetary restrictions. My smorgasbord of sets will have to do me for a while!

On to the stitching...because of vacation (the prep time, the actual vacation, and the recover time), my stitching progress this month is very minimal, but I do have something to show. I left off Cinderella Castle here:
cc09
And last week I finished it for a total of 53.38 hrs:
cc18
Now that both castles are finished, I'm going to get them framed together:
cc19
The only other project that got a bit of love since last month's post was Suteki. I'm a hair further now, but I can show what I posted on last month's A New Stitchy Start Blog. I left off here:
suteki008
And made it to here:
suteki012
Obviously, I have to save the new stuff on her for the end of the month and the other blog, but it's really not enough to make that much of a difference.

I'd like to say that next month will be better, but it won't because of the April A to Z Challenge. May should be back to stitch-normal (hopefully).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top 5 Things I Love That Are French


As always, go over to Kate's and Tiff's blogs to see their Top 10's (or Top 5) for the week and if you want to join in, just let Kate know and sorry for the late post, I almost forgot!

Back in the day (in a galaxy far, far away), the only foreign language choice we available in school was French. I had three years in high school and then another two in college (before I quit). Granted, I still can't speak a lick of it to this very day, but I can watch a French film without reading the subtitles, so it wasn't all wasted education. Other than a very unhealthy obsession with Notre Dame when I was younger (I'm WAY older than the Disney Hunchback, so it couldn't have been that), I don't really have any access to French things nowadays unless it's Disney-related, so forgive me if the skew here tends towards la maison de la souris (I'm not even sure if that's correct, but it's what came to me when I thought of "house of mouse").

#1: DISNEYLAND PARIS
Never been there, but the desire to go is always there. Now that I've been to Disneyland in California, Paris is my next check-box for Disney park variation destination other than Disney World (which will ALWAYS have priority). Kate's been there a couple of times and she loved it, so I probably will too!

#2: MACARONS
Since I really have no other frame of reference, of course I'm talking about the French macarons you get in Disney World (ignore the beignet, that was my sister's).
And my absolute favorite, the Mickey ones (although we didn't see these this past trip):
2014-1025

#3: CHEFS DE FRANCE
Located in Epcot's World Showcase in the France Pavilion, we had never eaten here because of my innate fear of "different" places. Besides, when I think of French food (well, other than desserts and beverages), I think of snails and raw fish eggs and other equally disgusting things. But to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was here could quite possibly be the understatement of the year! We LOVED it! Since I haven't touched our trip pictures yet (let alone done my reviews), here's just a little preview of my entree, Gratin de macaroni:

#4: NOTRE DAME
I'm not sure whether it was my art background or my obsession with Gothic architecture, but Notre Dame has always been a fascination of mine (well, OK, obsession, but that's neither here nor there). I wrote numerous papers on it in college (for both French and Art History class) and was probably well on my way to becoming an expert until my collegiate fall from grace. I'm not big on stock photos and since I've never been there, guess I won't be able to post a picture, but you guys have probably seen a picture before, right?

#5: LES HALLES BOULANGERIE PATISSERIE
I live in bum-fudge Arkansas, so the closest we have to French pastries is the bakery section in Wal-Mart, but I like to imagine I'm in France when sitting in Les Halles in the French Pavilion at Epcot (that is when we can find a seat). It's so much nicer than it used to be and the food selections have probably doubled from it's old location, I just wish the Disney Cast Members (the name for Disney employees) were nicer in this pavilion. It's probably one of the worst when it comes to CM's.

Monday, March 21, 2016

April A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal


First off, for those that have no clue what the April A to Z Challenge is, you should definitely check it out here and sign up! It's great fun (or a semi-maniacal exhaust fest, depending on who you ask), and I find a lot of great new bloggers every year. I am always amazed at the wide variety of topics and even how varied the similar topics can be (and who can forget the year when there were at least 10 bloggers A to Z'ing hamsters...who knew there was so much to learn about hamsters?).

I've known the theme reveal day was coming up, but I'm still not prepared for it because I'm only 100% sure of one part of my blog challenge. For the past couple of years, I've done two challenges - a random theme and a Disney theme and I'm still wavering on the Disney theme for this year. About the only thing I know for sure is that I will be doing the FanGirl Stitches Jane Austen Alphabet and I WILL NOT be doing two stitch challenges...it's just too much!
Austen Alphabet00
As always, my previous challenges have their own page here and good luck to everyone who is participating! Also, this is my fifth year to do the challenge, so happy fifth challenge anniversary to me! Let's just hope I decide on a Disney theme BEFORE April 1st. I would say that I am skipping the Disney theme this year, but I've tried that before and it didn't work...darn Disney withdrawal symptoms!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March IHSW

I totally sucked this weekend when it came to stitching. I was so excited when I saw the International Hermit and Stitch Weekend was up and running again, I signed up before I remembered that my stitch mojo is still suppressed by post-Disney depression. But on the plus side, I got the house cleaned, the laundry done, the last of the new Disney memorabilia put up where it belonged, especially the pins:
Untitled
and I still ended up with a ton of extras (damn those mystery pins!)
Untitled
I completely forgot about the cross stitch pin set I bought...it's nice to see that someone in Disney merchandising knows stitching Disney fans exist:
Untitled
but most importantly, the little man got his hair cut. He went from hippy:
Untitled
to hottie:
Untitled
But I did manage a bit of stitching today at least when I remembered that I needed to finish Cinderella Castle so that I could use the scroll frame for the April A to Z Challenge which is fast approaching. I left off here:
cc13
and made it back down to the bottom of the project:
cc15
I'm still not finished, but my lazy hands need a bit retraining to get back up to speed.

Speaking of the April A to Z, tomorrow is the theme reveal and I'm still on the fence about what I'm going to do for the challenge. I am sure of the stitch project that I'm going to do, I'm just not sure if, or even what, I'm going to do on the Disney front. Guess I need to get to thinking pretty fast!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 5 Stores/Shops I Love


As always, go over to Kate's and Tiff's blogs to see their Top 10's (or Top 5) for the week and if you want to join in, just let Kate know. Since Kate is still in the wind, I'm not sure if she'll be posting, but she'll get you on the list for next week for sure!

It's no secret that I am classified as part of the "poor" class by the government and I do pretty much fit the bill...I live in a trailer, scraping by paycheck to paycheck, etc, but I'm also one to spend like there is no tomorrow as evidenced by the Disney merchandise that has consumed every square inch of said trailer. Shopping, at least in my family, is an inherited weakness, I just ended up on the low end of the financial ladder to do it properly like my relatives, but it doesn't mean I don't strive to keep up with them!

#1: AMAZON
Be it Amazon US or Amazon UK, I've gotten so bad at using it, that I even bought socks and underwear for my last Disney trip from Amazon instead of going to the store! Amazon is the perfect place for anti-social people to shop and I feel sorry for the people who refuse to use it on principle (there are several in my office). When I shop the US store, I do use Amazon Smile instead of the regular and, for those that don't know, Smile donates a portion of every purchase to the charity of your choice. My charity is Arkansas Southern Dog Rescue, the angels who brought Bam into my life. I try to donate to them directly every payday, but on the weeks that I can't, at least I know they get something from my shopping addiction.

I buy from Amazon UK for my British DVDs (and I've been known to buy the occasional CD or book as well). Because of country coding on DVDs, it's impossible to get some of my favorite British shows in a US format, so it's nice to know that there is a place for me to get my Brit-fix. All you need is an all-region DVD player (about $30 on Amazon US) and you're in business! For the record, you can also shop at other countries Amazon shops, but there are shipping restrictions, especially when it comes to third-party sellers, so be careful.

#2: DISNEY STORES
Bet you thought this would be #1 and, considering the amount of dough I just dropped in about 50 park stores, I still think I utilize Amazon more. It's hard to pin this down to a specific Disney Store, so I'm not going to, but rather just the highlights (and for those that thought the Disney Store was your only option, prepare to be educated!).

We don't have a local Disney Store in our mall, but a trip to Memphis (1.5 hrs away) finds a couple and then there are Disney Outlets in both Nashville (4hrs away) and Gulfport (7 hrs away) and I'm sure elsewhere.

When in the parks, the possibilities and the stores are endless, so I'm not going to try to name all of them, but my favorites are probably The Emporium on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, Mouse Gear in Epcot, and the Art of Disney Store in Disney Springs (it used to be World of Disney at Disney Springs, but their recent changes make the store borderline sucky...more to come on that when I get around to Disney reviews).

When I'm home, of course there is the online Disney Store, The Disney Movie Club Store (the DVDs cost more, but the exclusive merchandise makes it worth it, especially the pins) and, a relatively newcomer to the Disney shopper (and the best invention since sliced bread), the Shop Disney Parks app. How I've lived without this app is a miracle and I hope to never have to go back to those "dark years" and the park crumbs that the Disney Store gives us. Granted, it still has its limitations (especially when it comes to pins or event merchandise, most of those are "in store purchase only"), but pretty much everything else that can be found in Disney World, Disneyland or any other Disney park can be found on the app and all without the expensive trip to Disney World! I actually used it the first time on a Disney bus and I was instantly obsessed! Ever regret not buying a particular item when in the parks (story of my life) well, NEVER AGAIN!!

#3: CROSS STITCH STORES
Again, I'm going to generalize this too much because there are numerous stores I buy from, but I do have a couple of favorites. I love to browse most of them more than anything. When in need of fabric or thread in a pinch, I will often just head over to 123 Stitch. I've never had any problems with them, their prices are reasonable, and the merchandise arrives pretty quickly compared to other stores. I have also been known to buy fabric from Stoney Creek because I can get what I need in larger sizes, but a lot of people hate their store...I've never had an issue.

Way back in the day, before online stores were a staple and, if you wanted something different, you were stuck scouring eBay for hours, I bought all my kits from Cross Stitch World via eBay. Once they opened their online store, I just kept buying from them. Granted, I rarely buy a kit nowadays unless it's a Disney Dreams kit, but they are still who I order from.

I do travel a bit upon occasion just to hit a cross stitch store but, for the most part, I'm stuck with our local Hobby Lobby for immediate supplies. I HATE HATE HATE going there because of their lack of "hobby" supplies and their politics, but that's a discussion for a different day. There is a cross stitch store in Memphis, but they aren't very nice there (besides being incredibly expensive) and it's usually just more of a novelty visit than a predetermined shopping extravaganza.

#4: WAL-MART NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET
There are several reasons why I haven't been able to go to the SuperCenters for years, none of which are important for this post, but when it came to groceries/household items, I've been relegated to buying groceries at one store and household items at another for as long as I can remember. Then we got two Neighborhood Markets in our town and I haven't looked back since! Granted, I still have to make the occasional trip to Target for certain things (and this would be a different title if we had a Super Target, but alas, we don't), but I can mostly skate by just going to the Market for the weekly stuff. It's small, not too crowded, safe (at least for now), and I'm happy going there (and that's the most important thing of all).

#5: ETSY
Since this is only a top 5 list, my last choice was a little difficult, but not impossible. I've been spending a TON of time on Etsy lately. I buy cross stitch patterns, needle minders, dog collars, designer Scentsy fragrances (usually Disney related), and pretty much anything else that strikes my fancy (and my fancy is easily struck). There was a time I spend quite a bit of time (and money) on eBay but, since Etsy's come along, I rarely, if ever, buy from eBay anymore.

Given a choice, I would obviously do all my shopping online, hence the online-dominant picks on this list, but since it's not always possible, I like knowing that I still have visitable options (unless they come up with something better online in the future...I'm always on the lookout!).

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I'm back!

Sometimes the stars align properly and all is right...even in my unlucky world. Last week was one of those times. I had an absolutely amazing Disney World trip, quite possibly tied for the best trip ever! We had perfect weather, perfect food, and perfect shopping! Although the crowds were high thanks to a cheerleading competition and there were little issues like resort problems, contact issues, and swollen feet, it was still quite manageable and the good far outweighed the bad!

I've got a lot of prep work to do for the April A to Z challenge and, of course, April will be booked solid, but hopefully I'll be able to wrangle my way through thousands of pictures (about 9000 this time) and have some new reviews up sometime in May. I also haven't started back stitching yet...I needed a weekend to re-coop. I did read a book, something I haven't done in a couple of years, so I must be pretty relaxed overall to focus on reading. Makes me kind of wish that I hadn't given away a lot of my unread books.

I'm going to focus on catching up on everyone else's blogs this week and hopefully get started back stitching. I hope everyone else had a great week as well!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Top 5 Female Role Models


OK, I promise I'm not bowing out of this week's Top Tuesday because of vacation, but rather because I just don't "do" role models. Maybe it is a side-effect of being an Asper, but other people just don't have enough of an influence on me to affect how I behave or strive to behave. Someone might have a cute outfit or hairstyle that I might copy, but other than that...nada. I'm not even sure I believe in the concept that one should be a "role model". It sets too high a standard for humans, probably the most fallible of creatures. Even Mother Theresa had her faults. Besides, with the likes to today's role models, parents should teach their kids the Asperger way...I'd hate to think that the likes of a certain ex-Disney star or the plethora of reality stars are influencing the next generation...help us all!

So, head on over to Kate's and Tiff's blogs to see their Top 10's (or Top 5) for the week and if you want to join in, just let Kate know. I'm sure both of them left out the aforementioned examples (or at least I HOPE they did!).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top 10 Tuesdays-Things I Love That Are Welsh


As always, go over to Kate's and Tiff's blogs to see their Top 10's (or Top 5) for the week and if you want to join in, just let Kate know.

Yea! Another easy topic! I wasn't sure what to do about the logo and title since we are switching to a Top 5 list for only a couple of months, but I decided just to go with it. This is a topic that I can easily do a Top 10 on, but alas, I'll stick to the rules.

#1: TOM ELLIS
Surely Kate knew that this would be my number one. I've always had a thing for British actors and, for quite a few years, Tom has been on the very top of my list, mainly due to Miranda (one of the best TV shows EVER), but for numerous other shows as well (Monday Monday, The Gates, Bedlam, Sugartown, The Fades, and about a half dozen others). . We're lucky enough to have him in the states now in Lucifer (before that Hitch and he was also the first Robin Hood on Once Upon A Time), but honestly, I miss Gary and Miranda, so how about a fan video from my favorite show:
And, since I'm at hit, for my American brethren who have not yet watched Lucifer, you ought to check it out because it's a pretty good show (WAY better than Hitch):


#2: DAWN FRENCH

One of the first British shows I ever got attached to was The Vicar of Dibley, long before another one of my great British actors came on board (Richard Armitage...most Americans will know him as Thorin Oakenshield in the Hobbit movies). Dawn was exceptionally funny, but most of all, she was very easy to relate to, and the more I went through the rest of her film catalog, the more I loved her. To this day, when I've had a bad time of it, I always pull out the Dibley disc with The Handsome Stranger and A Vicar In White to make myself feel better. There are rumors that a new Vicar special might be in the works, and I would just LOVE to see Dawn and Richard on screen together again (although it's doubtful because he's a big movie star now). A girl can dream, right?

Most Americans will know Dawn from here:


#3: GAVIN AND STACEY
Long before James Corden was well known by America, he was on a fantastic little show called Gavin And Stacey. Nessa (played by Ruth Jones...which would have had a number of her own if this was a Top 10 list) is what made the show for me and, to this day, I still try to find excuses to use the phrase, "where to...", "what's occurin'" and, who could ever forget "ooo, ooo". It took me FOREVER to find a clip of it (guess I should have just put Nessa's best moments in the search box instead of searching for the exact phrase...could have saved me some time). Rather than an actual show clip, I thought this comedy sketch of Ruth and James was pretty dad-gum funny and incorporated everything I was looking for:

But now I'm feeling guilty for not showing a show clip, so here ya go:


#4: STELLA
Speaking of Ruth Jones, another favorite show of mine is Stella. It's such a shame we don't have access to these shows here, so many people are missing out on good TV. Even though I don't have kids, I still find myself relating to Stella because no matter what she does, she always gets the short end of the stick...story of my life.


#5: RAREBIT

I'm not a world traveler per se in that I've never actually been to another continent, but I do go to Disney World practically every year and I've traveled and eaten my way around the world at Epcot (so that's got to count for something, right?). During the fall, Epcot has an annual Food & Wine Festival and, in addition to their UK Pavilion which has a lot of British cuisine in its own right, there are individual booths for various other countries. They've never actually had a Wales booth (although they have an Irish and Scottish), but once upon a time they had a general UK booth and that's where I got my first taste of rarebit. I wasn't going to touch it with a 10 foot pole if I was going by its name alone, but once I found out it was basically just a cheddar cheese sauce on toasted bread with a bit of mustard and worcestershire, I was totally down because cheese is my greatest weakness! It was absolutely amazing and a new favorite was born! Unfortunately, they never had it again, but you can sometimes find it at the Rose and Crown Pub in the UK Pavilion. I found numerous recipes online, but this looks to be the closest to what I had in Epcot all those years ago:
And for anyone interested, here is the recipe. Some people just consider cheese toast to be rarebit, which is a bit ironic for me because I've been eating that since I was a wee one. I now call it rarebit instead of cheese toast and people look at me like I'm nuts...I just like to think that I'm more sophisticated and worldly than they are!