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For 2022 we are focusing on our grocery spending and trying to find ways to reduce it despite all of the price increases. In January we completed a pantry cleanout challenge and in February I focused on eating through the odds and ends in our […]
Cross-stitching is something I picked up many years ago when I was having some health issues and forced to rest for periods of time. If you know me, I hate sitting around watching TV and I love to keep my mind/body busy so when I heard I would have to rest for a couple of hours every afternoon I decided to spend my time doing something that I could measure the progress on. I love the feeling of accomplishment with working on a project, pulling back and seeing just how far I have gotten while I was focusing on a small area. My first few projects were small but then I discovered the Heaven and Earth Designs website and fell in love with their massive projects that did not include any of the dreaded backstitch. I quickly downloaded a free pattern, bought my 90 colors of thread and started in on it. I did not make it very far on that first pattern but I did work on my technique and I am reusing the thread for other projects. I may finish it eventually but for now I am focusing on all of my other projects that have been started since then.
One of my favorite HAED (Heaven and Earth Designs) artists is Randal Spangler. I have several patterns and officially have two in the works. The first and biggest one I started was Computer Wizard several years ago. I posted my progress in my last stitching post update and honestly I haven’t worked on it since then but at some point I hope to finish it. My current WIP (work in progress) is QS Literate Dragon which I started in 2015. I picked it up again this year and I have been making slow progress. This one is a Quick Stitch (QS) so it is much smaller than other projects. I think I was hoping to finish it in a calendar year but that clearly didn’t pan out. My goal is to make significant progress this year. I was aiming to finish the first page this month while I was on leave. I am about half way done with it and my leave should be ending next week so I don’t think I will make that cut off. I need to use the magnifying light to work on this one since the stiches are so small and I can’t work on it for more than an hour at a time before my eyes get tired. I will keep posting progress on my Instagram page (oscoeyzamph) and with further stitching updates.
Protip: write your start date on the back of the first page of your HAED so you can track how long it takes to complete.
Another project I have been trying to finish this year is my Alphabet Block project I started for my soon to be eight year old’s birth. That’s right, I started this when I was pregnant with her and although I have made significant progress in the last year I am not finished with it yet. I might start working on this again soon but I am in a groove with the Literate Dragon piece and I don’t want to stop and lose my mojo. This one is a kit from Dimensions and honestly I am not a fan of kits. They don’t usually provide you with enough thread or fabric and it is not as high of quality as the DMC you by in a store. This kit is ok and I am hoping to have enough but I have been burned in the past. This project also requires a bunch of backstitching and even if I finish all of the regular crosses it will take be forever to finish the backstitch. Once I finish this one I will probably have to start another one for my son and hopefully he will want something much simpler to stitch.
Another project I have been working hard on is this Kitty in a Flower Pot freebie from a cross-stitch magazine. My daughter picked this one out of several freebies I have and I am almost finished with it. I just have a little bit of backstitch to do around the pot and add French knot eyes for the bird and the cat and I will be done. Maybe I will get this one done this month. I loathe backstitch (I really do) and I don’t have much motivation to finish it but honestly I just need to finish it. If I do finish it I will put together the card kit it came with and mail it to my daughter as a surprise. She has been watching my progress and she loves mail so it will be a fun surprise for her to have. I may also make her a bookmark for her birthday but I am not sure how I will hide that from her so I have to think about that. She is very observant and it is tricky to hide much from her.
Speaking of freebie patterns, I have quite a few of them that I need to work through. The ones pictured above are not all of them even. I know I have more in my large bin of cross-stitch items stashed in my closet. I didn’t dig through that for the picture but these six are more than enough to work on this year. The fox and hedgehog ones look more complicated than I like to complete so I may just give them away but the others look fun. One of the hard parts of starting a hobby is accumulating more projects/components than you can ever use. I haven’t bought any supplies for cross-stitching in many years besides replacing my lost seam ripper last week and I probably could get away with just completing what I have for the next decade aside from filling in a few thread colors as I run out. I unfortunately discovered when I got my new laptop last May that I lost most of the HAED patterns I downloaded over the years at some point during one of the many old laptop repairs. I do have a couple that I printed out but I may need to replace the others if I have time to stitch them. Lesson learned though. Save your files to the cloud and print a copy of your patterns for backup just in case.
One of the charts that I have been very excited for and fortunately printed out was Amulet and Emmeline by Lesley Anne Ivory. I love the quilt pattern and it looks fun to stitch. One of my favorite parts of working on HAED is seeing a wall of symbols in the pattern, working on it for a while and then when you step back the design pops out at you and looks amazing. If you have ever worked on an HAED you may know what I am talking about. There are so many colors with these patterns and they are so spread out that you can be working for hours on one stich here and there all over the page and it seems like a jumbled mess until suddenly everything falls into place and you can clearly see an eye or a significant part of the pattern. This quilt piece seems like one where that magic will happen quite a few times and I am excited to start it. I have bought thread for it although it has been so long I forget if I bought all of it and I need to start kitting it up. I am hoping to start this one after I finish the Literate Dragon piece. I want to finish my WIP and start getting them framed on the wall. Maybe, if I focus and spend a few nights a week on the Literate Dragon, I will be able to finish it by the end of 2021 and have a clean start for 2022.
The last piece I thought I would show progress on is my Cat Butt one that I started a while ago for Mother’s Day. I have made progress on it since my last update but clearly I haven’t finished it. I really need to finish this one and my work on it again after I finish my Kitty in a Pot project and wrap it up for my mom for Christmas along with her other present. This pattern is from Etsy and is by Freudian Stitch who is one of my favorite pattern makers. I love browsing Etsy for patterns. They are usually simpler than HAED and don’t have the dreaded backstitch. I also love supporting artists that are making a living from their craft! One thing to be careful of is copy cats though. Pattern makers have an issue with people copying their patterns and selling them as their own. It is a huge issue for most crafters and one way we can help prevent it is to never post pictures of patterns.
I am excited to keep working on my projects. See links below for where to find the ones I am working on and a bonus project at the bottom that I feel like embodies the heart of the FI movement. The debt quote from hardcorestitchcorps was one of the very first cross-stitch patterns I completed and I love it!
Who are your favorite artists and what are you working on right now?
We are about 10 months into dealing with Covid and things don’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I was looking back over pictures from the year today and I was struck by how sudden everything was last Feb/March when everything shut down. […]
As the nights get cooler and the days shorter our summer 2020 garden is winding down for fall. This summer our vegetable garden stepped up a notch and I planted way more than previous years. We also had a huge pest problem with rodents, ants, […]
This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means that after work I put on my garden clothes and take the kids outside for some sunshine. My workplace is closed for until the fall and even then they are only allowing a few people in the office and things are up in the air as far as going back to school so I have planned an ambitious vegetable garden this year.
I started out this spring with sprucing up our front garden bed. We share part of it with our neighbors and our side needed a bunch of work. Every fall/winter I am good about cutting our monster hydrangeas back so that was taken care of this year. They grow so much over the summer that if I don’t cut them they will cover most of the garden bed! In late February and early March I pruned back the sword ferns, redid the edging, weeded aggressively, pulled out a bunch of salmon berry and then mulched the whole thing with a thick coat from the stuff that has been hanging out on our driveway for far longer than I would like to admit. The mulch is not super great quality but I needed something to make it look more uniform. The front bed looks fabulous and it was so uniform at first that people were walking in it as if it was empty so our asparagus was slightly trampled this year and we did not get more than a few spears before I decided to let it grow. We have since installed a small fence where the asparagus is and I am hoping that will keep people and dogs out of it in the future.
I was a little bit late starting my seeds this year. I am not the only one upping their gardening game and many of the seeds I wanted were on backorder or were out at the first couple of places I looked. I ended up ordering from Territorial Seed Company and they took a while to get here but the quality was fabulous and we had a very successful germination rate so l ended up ordering way more seeds later on for my fall gardening. For the spring I planted Napa cabbage, two different green cabbages, a red cabbage, bush peas, pole peas, pole beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes (from a bag in the pantry), watermelon, cucumber and several varieties of squash.
I may have planted too many potatoes. I planted a bunch early from a bag in our pantry that had started to sprout. A couple of weeks later I noticed squirrel holes all over the bed so I planted more, and some in another part of the garden. Then a couple of weeks after that I replanted more potatoes to fill in even more squirrel dug holes and planted some potatoes into the potato bags I found in the garage and we somehow ended up with about 20 plants which is way more than I wanted. I keep running out of soil so I have not been great about mounding dirt up around the potatoes but if things go ok we should have enough potatoes to last us a little bit. My kids don’t really like potatoes except when they are made a couple of ways so I may end up donating some of them to the local free pantry if we have too many.
This year I decided to put our plants into garden beds instead of directly into the ground. Our soil is not that great and I wanted to mulch around the beds to create a path and reduce the mud. In the past I planted directly into the ground with squash varieties but since we are doing more than squash this year we got some raised beds off of Amazon. We bought three total and used some landscape fabric underneath to reduce the weeds. Our older beds need a soil refresh and but I discovered that after I had done some planting so one of my plans for next fall is to add a bunch of soil and plant some cover crops for the older beds.
Over Mother’s Day weekend the family got together and planted some seed starts from the store of tomatoes, pumpkins and cantaloupe as well as the Brussels sprouts and artichokes I started in March. I should have planted the seeds I started earlier but honestly I ran out of space in my main vegetable garden and we had to buy both containers and more soil. We had some issues transplanting two of the pumpkins and the cantaloupe and as of right now our cantaloupe won’t make it and the pumpkins might recover. In order to use up more of the empty space in the tomato planters I also sprinkled some lettuce seeds in there and so far we have a few plants coming up.
One part of our garden that is thriving is the cabbage bed. I totally over planted this one with nine or ten cabbages but they are doing great. These seeds were started around the 14th of April and most of them should be ready to eat around the first week of July. This year I got smart and I wrote the day I planted them and the days to maturity from the package on the popsicle stick labels. I already have another set of seeds planted under these ones so we shall see if those do ok with the larger cabbages in there as well. If not, I plan on starting more seeds indoors with our grow light just in case although I have heard that Napa cabbage will bolt when the weather turns so I may try something else here over the heat of the summer. Cabbages are just starting to form and it is really cool to see. I have not grown cabbages before and honestly I didn’t do any research ahead of time but I view the garden as a gigantic experiment so if these don’t work out I will have a better idea for next year.
We have always had good luck with zucchini and yellow squash in our garden. This year is no exception. This bed has three zucchini plants in it as well as some bee attracting flowers. They are probably too close together but that was not a problem for us last year and we fertilized this soil so there is plenty of nutrients. Our male flowers are already blooming but I have not seen any female flowers yet. We have about 8 total squash plants so I am sure we won’t have any issues with pollination. Usually we do three or 4 plants and it has never been an issue for us. We have a really healthy bee population which helps tremendously.
We have been harvesting quite a few strawberries off of the plant I threw into a pot a couple of years ago. For some reason it does really well in the spot that it is in and has strawberries on it weeks ahead of our actual strawberry plot. I think this spot is more sunny than the other and even though the bees have been pollinating away in our main strawberry bed the berries are still super immature and won’t be ripe for another week or two.
One fun thing we tried this year was releasing ladybugs into the garden. I ordered them from Territorial Seeds a couple of weeks ago along with my fall planting seeds and some garlic starts that will ship in September. My kids were a little scared of the lady bugs at first but by the end of it they were picking them up gently and letting them crawl around for a bit before asking for the grownups to remove them. We will definitely be doing this again next year or maybe even later on this summer since we had such a good time. I would have loved to do praying mantises as well but everywhere was out so we haven’t yet. Ladybugs only stick around long enough to lay some eggs and then they move on to the next area. I am hoping in a few weeks we will have lots of little lady bug larva crawling around eating up any aphids on our plants. So far the weather in the PNW has been mostly gloomy and wet and I haven’t seen many aphids but I know that as soon as it warms up a bit we will start to see them more.
We are having a great time in the garden this year and hopefully in a few weeks we will be able to start eating most of our vegetables out of the garden instead of buying them at the store. Below are some resources for your garden with no affiliate links, just sites we have used and liked. Happy gardening!
Out last post detailed the first half of our Victoria, B.C. trip last year when we went to Butchart Gardens. June was definitely a great time to go and see all of the flowers in bloom and it seemed far less crowded that it would […]
Last April we took a road trip to Walla Walla, Washington for a kid-friendly attempt at doing a bit of Wine Weekend. We have been saying for many years that we would love to go to Walla Walla to pick up wine and this year […]
Mr. Oscoey and I have always loved San Francisco. We went there once many years ago by ourselves for a whirlwind 18 hour trip and had always wanted to go back but never found the time or money. Last fall (while I was laid off mind you) we heard about a screaming deal on plane tickets out of the newly opening Paine Field in our area. Our little kids had never been on a plane before and we figured that leaving from a smaller, much less crowded airport would be a good introduction and test of air travel. Our kids get overwhelmed in crowds and with all of the new experiences they would have with flying we thought taking off from a small airport with less people would help them get used to the idea. Unfortunately the government shut down at the beginning of 2019 and some of the airport permits did not go through in time so we ended up flying in and out of the much busier Sea-Tac and it ended up working out. Our kids were very excited and even though security lines were so long we almost missed our outbound flight, there were no dreaded airport meltdowns and our first plane rides were a success!
We stay fairly close to the waterfront and were able to walk to a lot of destinations. Since we were close to everything the hotel was a little bit pricey but we continued our tradition of finding a place to stay with a kitchen and after stopping at Trader Joe’s we had some pretty inexpensive meals ready to go. Our kids get up at 5:00 in the morning and not many places are open at that time so we bought some milk and cereal for them to eat before we left in the morning. We also bought snacks and some bacon and spent about $30 total for 6 days worth of breakfast and snacks.
The plane ride and following shuttle went smoothly but I was pretty disappointed that the kids were not more interested in watching the plane take off. They were too busy watching Octonauts…which I am grateful kept them busy during the flight. The first place we stopped was the Ferry Building where we ate the most delicious gluten-free pastries ever and walked around seeing the sites. We walked out onto a pier and got a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge. The kids were very excited and walking around got most of their wiggles out. One of the ways we saved money was by buying a Citi-Pass. With that we got into the California Academy of Science, bus/cable-car rides, a cruise of the San Francisco bay, into the Aquarium of the Bay, and into the Exploratorium. Our son is three and he was free at most of those places so we only needed three Citi-Passes for all four of us and it ended up being a good deal.
The second day we spent most of our time at the California Academy of Science. We loved the aquarium on the lower floor. It was so big we had to stop mid-way for lunch! Our kids love fish and the way the aquarium was organized it was easy for even my three year old to understand that they came from different places around the globe. We learned a lot about our oceans on this trip for sure!
My absolute favorite area was the underwater Amazon Rainforest area. You can’t tell from this picture but these fish are seriously 8 feet long and it was amazing to watch them swim around overhead. I had no idea that freshwater fish could get that big!
Part of the gigantic Rainforest Exhibit was a sphere similar to the Amazon Spheres we visited last fall only with way more plants and animals. It was much cooler and we got to see so many things with great displays that taught my kids about how coffee grows, where in the canopy different animals live and how we can protect the rainforests for the future. I am a plant person so I loved looking at the plants and got some ideas for how to lay out a garden.
We spent most of the day and explored a large chunk of the California Academy of Sciences, including the amazing roof but we still did not see the whole thing. We definitely want to go back next time we are in San Francisco!
Our second full day we took a boat tour of the bay. This was something that was out of my comfort zone and honestly if we hadn’t bought the Citi-Pass we never would have gone on it. I get really seasick and boats are something I usually avoid but the water ended up being pretty calm and besides being a little bit cold we ended up having a great time. Our kids loved looking out at everything and seeing where we had been from the water. We went under the Golden Gate bridge and it was eye opening to see how big it actually is up close. We also went past Alcatraz and got some great views.
After the boat tour we went to Aquarium of the Bay which was right next door to the boat dock. Although it is a little bit small (you can do it in about an hour) it was jam packed with fun and we ended up going through the entire Aquarium twice because we loved it so much. Our favorite part was these two long tunnels that went under different types of fish. The coolest one was the shark tank! You can see sharks up close and they are swimming all around you which the kids loved. They also had a great area where you could feed rays and our daughter got to feed one which was super cool. We would definitely go back here next time we are in San Francisco!
We made a stop in the evening at Ghirardelli for some ice cream. The kids loved it! They got to eat sugary treats and we picked up some chocolate as gifts. There were shops to explore and most importantly a fountain to jump around.
Our last full day we had coffee with a friend, went to the Exploratorium and rode the cable car. The Exploratorium is basically a gigantic warehouse with tons of science experiments. It was a lot to take in and we let the kids wander and look at what they were interested in. There was no way we would be able to do the entire thing in one day. It seemed to be geared towards a little bit older children. Our 5yo had a great time but there was a ton of reading to do to be able to do the experiments and although our 3yo had a great time I think he would have gotten more out of it if he had been a couple years older. Our favorite part was the outside exhibits where the kids could run around. The inside was pretty crowded and echoey which my kids had a hard time with. There also wasn’t a lot of room to run around since it was packed with experiments. We would definitely go back but probably not until the kids are older. ‘
That evening we rode the cable car and it was fun but we were super tired from a long week and we ended up cutting it short and heading back to the hotel to sleep. We packed a lot into our trip and even though we took naps every day we were pretty exhausted by the end of our trip.
Our last day we had some time in the morning so we went to the beach and hung out for a while before driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. Our kids are early risers so we were able to get there early enough that we had the beach to ourselves. We walked around, looked at the bridge from another angle and then drove over and looked at the city from across the bay. It was a nice way to end our trip reflecting on where we had been and what we had seen.
We had a great time in San Francisco and I am really glad we decided to rip the bandaid of air travel off with our kids. We are excited for more plane rides in the future and we are already talking about going back to San Francisco possibly next year. It is definitely one of our favorite places to go!
I don’t have any affiliations with the places listed below but here are links if you are curious:
It has been a while since I have done a gardening update so I though I would take a few pictures and talk a little bit about them. Our family has been super busy with travel, kids, work and the frequent birthday parties that happen […]