Just a thought not fully formed…

I’ve been thinking about cultural appropriation specifically about food after some comments I’ve seen on curry and avocado toast. And a trip to Spitz that didn’t turn out well.

My grandparents were newlyweds during WWII, they didn’t have access to crops from “enemy” countries. Same with a lot of spices. They were suspicious of “foreign” things because that’s where the war was.  Some of the recipes from women’s magazines at the time warn against using Asian spices.

They didn’t share any of those “enemy” things with their baby boomer kids who discovered a lot of things like mangoes and spices when refugees came after the Vietnam.  Refugees bring great new things with them, but if you’re suspicious of refugees, you also don’t try the new things.

As more immigrants move into areas, more ethnic restaurants pop up to meet community needs. You can tell who the racists are when they start complaining about not having any “good” or “normal” places to eat.

But immigrants can’t always get the same ingredients in the US as they got at home (any other Finns smuggle in makkara?) which leads to adaptation to get a similar flavor or texture to what you had at home.

Children going to school with more diverse people discover new foods and flavors (Rosemary Wells Yoko, anyone?). The more diversity children experience growing up, the more they can bring those experiences back to their parents, and both generations learn (as long as there is a growth mindset, but that’s another topic).

I personally love discovering new flavors. But I’ve also run into situations where I’ve been told that hot spices are sinful (still looking for the scripture on that one). It’s got me thinking of Anthony Bourdain and how he tried to reach and learn about others through food.

It’s also got me wondering how society has used food to enforce racism and systemic discrimination.

Was there a food you were told to avoid without being given a clear reason? Also, how has food changed over time for you?

That last question comes up because I was looking at a museum piece from the 1800s, and they talk about the lobster and oysters being a succulent meal. But at the time period, when it was painted, those foods were poverty and prison fare. No one with money would have eaten lobster. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that lobster became a delicacy instead of the cockroach of the sea.

It also reminds me of the cottage cheese and yogurt industry. In the 1970s, dairy manufacturers and women’s magazines began advertising cottage cheese as a way to lose weight (anyone or their mom do the cottage cheese diet?). Then, manufacturers discovered yogurt was cheaper to make, and now yogurt is the diet breakfast of choice.

Now, I’m hungry. I think I’ll go fix something to eat from a forbidden food list.

The First Mirabilia I ever Saw

Mother’s Arms by Mirabilia

The first Mirabilia lady I ever saw was Mother’s Arms. There was something about it that I fell in love with immediately.

In 1995, 8.50 was a lot to pay for a cross stitch pattern but I did it anyway. And then I stitched Scent of Old Roses instead.

And then so many other of Nora’s ladies and pixies, the latest being Tiger Lily

Every now and then, I would pull Mother’s Arms out of the filing cabinet and gaze longingly at it because I still love it. Then, last year, I pulled all the fibers for it. It moved from the filing cabinet into a project bag and found space on the kitted but not started shelf.

And then finally, this year, for my birthday start, I pulled it out and started it.

Now, if I can just remember where I put the beads for it, since they aren’t in the project bag.

A word of intent for 2022

In 2020, my word was focus and it helped as there was much distraction and redirection in 2020.

In 2021 I went with Flow because if I learned anything in 2020 it was that plans change and anticipation and foreplanning create anxiety when what is doesn’t match what you want things to be. And Flow worked – even if it never made it onto the focus board to be viewed in the morning.

But 2022 needed something different for it’s intent. Something for me to manifest and work toward. So I took quizzes designed to help find your word for the year and I looked at other people’s words and I looked at goals.

Then one of the responses to a quiz smacked me hard in the face. It told me I was in Warrior mode and gave me a list of Warrior affirmations. What hit me is that I have been questing and battling for so long, I forgot to slow down and look at the roses on the path. I forgot about the joy in the journey. I forgot about checking the rear view mirror every now and again to see how far I’ve travelled.

But gratitude didn’t seem like the correct word.

Abundance, however, did feel right.

I can work on my health and losing weight because I have an abundance of food. I can exercise because I have an abundance of options and can prioritize my time to do so. I have a new job which also gives me an abundance of opportunities to learn, grow and develop. I have an abundance of family members to improve relationships with and practice emotional intelligence. I have an abundance of stash to work on my hobbies.

This year I will recognize my ABUNDANCE and I will be a good steward of what I have so the universe can use it to make room for even more.

Some statistics for 2021

Total number of stitches for the year 109,358 this is short 10,642 from the goal of 120,000.

Number of projects worked on 44

Number of WIPs on 1/1/2021 – 30

Number of projects completed – 17

Number of WIPs on 12/31/2021 – 28

Average stitches per Day – 300

Median number of stitches per day – TBD

All but 2 of the projects had at least 3% progress completed during the year. Of those 2 – one had 2 page completions the other had 1% completed.

Lowest stitching month – June 6355 stitches average 212 per day

Highest stitching month – November 12,243 stitches average 408 per day.

2 projects were re-homed during the year

No correlation exists between number of projects worked on during the month and the number of stitches. Average number of projects worked on in the month is 13, median is 11

Month with the most projects finished – September which also correlates with the Semi Sane Stitchers Domino challenge.

November’s highest monthly amount corresponds with an event in Ultimate stitches where I really pushed myself to get the high numbers and with figuring out that at my current stitching speed, it would take over 10 years to finish all my WIPs

Thinking for the new year

So Facebook just reminded me that in 2016 I posted about what a great year it had been. I remember doing a similar post about 2020 not being 100% horrible. Then I started thinking about this year.

I can’t say that 2021 was a really great year. I think in will be one that just fades to nothing in my memory but if I had to pick out a few highlights.

1. I have stitched every single day of the year with the low point being a day I put in 8 stitches total for the day.

2. FanX occurred and I volunteered and met a new agent I had never worked with before. It was so good to see my FanX family but it sure felt like way too many people to be around.

3. My parents were able to come home from Finland

4. We were able to hold the reception for my kids who got married last year.

5. The temples re-opened and I’ve been to the temple several times

6. I have a Covid vaccine and booster.

7. I have season opera tickets and have been to the opera this year.

8. I met some great recruiters and signed an intent to start work as a full time employee ending my 2 years as a contractor.

9. My 2020 taxes were not as bad as they could have been and they are paid.

10. My kids were all able to come home for Christmas.

My word for 2021 was FLOW and I have flowed with the year.

I also learned that when I am bored, I will find ways to entertain myself and that I should find more productive measures and less time wasters to alleviate boredom. However, I have also learned that my new stress release is to create fiber art or play video games. Fiber arts are fine but no one cares about my Animal Crossing island or where I am on Merge Mansion or how many gardens Lily redecorates. Something with more permanence would be better.

11. I’m starting to have to admit that I’m not as young as I once was as cringe as that is to say it.

So 2021 wasn’t a really productive year. I wasted a lot of time, I didn’t learn as much as I could have but I did what I did and I need to get back to the small habit changes that will lead to big differences in the future. Now where did I file that backlog of things I wanted to accomplish in 2020? I’m thinking that would be a good place to restart.

Last minute stitching goals for the year.

So after seeing that Light had built a Melee fight in a sheets workbook, I started playing with my spreadsheet. I figured out that I have completed at least 3% on all but 13 of my WIPs this year. The total of the missing stitches is less than I’ve stitched in October. So, I’m thinking, I can stitch on these projects and meet the stitch goals for the year and I probably even have space to work toward completing the Christmas projects I have started. So the stitching plan for the rest of the year, is to work on the 13 pieces on this list and complete the 3%.

The interesting thing is that 5 of these pieces live in my parlor. My main stitching chair is not in the parlor. So something to think of for an improvement for next year is to set up at least one day a week to not watch TV and plan to stitch in the parlor. As for November and December, I plan to spend more time in the parlor. That’s where the Christmas tree will be after all.

So have you looked at your stitching goals for the year? Did you accomplish them? What could you do to accomplish something toward them in the last two months of the year?

Go forth and Conquer…

I finished a book!

Just so you know, I finished Jolene by Mercedes Lackey. Now for those of you who knew me before the Pandemic Lockdown. This would not be a big deal, I was reading 1-2 books per week.

However, just before lockdown I had a soul crushing year and was one week into a new job when lockdown occurred. I had great lockdown plans, I was going to finish writing my book. I was going to read everything in my TBR pile. I was going to stitch and finish all my WIPs and start all the previously kitted projects on my shelf.

And then it hit. A paralyzing stress reaction where all I wanted to do was deny that I was stressed. My kids actually insisted I go find a switch (ended up with a Switch Lite and Animal Crossing).

And so I numbed my busy mind with building a 5 star island. Come August, I held a virtual get together with some local stitchers and agreed to stitch a model for a very busy designer. That woke me up a little and I started stitching again. I’ve now managed to stitch at least a little every single day since Sept 22, 2020.

But reading and writing have not returned. I have 2 maybe 3 of the Louise Penny Detective Gamache novels ready to read. I have a stack of business books on my Kindle and Google Play account ready to go as soon as my reading desire returns. I’m hoping that the reading bug is off playing with my writing bug.

See, I’ve put together a boatload of slide decks but no actual writing is required for that. It’s just a matter of finding the right pictures. Blogging has not been happening and YouTube filming is still halted.

So, you see, finishing a book is a big deal right now. It’s a step back to normal for me. True during lockdown I listened to several books but only Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky which convinced me that I will never give another penny to the March of Dimes again.

So let me tell you about Jolene – It’s an entry in the Elemental Masters series by Lackey. The publisher would have you believe it’s the first on American soil but they weren’t the publisher on Fire Rose which preceded the current list of Elemental masters.

Jolene is an adaptation of The Queen of Copper Mountain. And yes, there is a part where the Dolly Parton song is paraphrased. The setting is in the hollers of coal and copper mining areas just after the civil war.

I am motivated now to go read the Annie Oakley Elemental master book which I have missed reading in the series. Or, I could go restart the Phantom Tollbooth that I started and didn’t finish when lockdown first started.

Some odd statistics

The oldest WIP on my spreadsheet was started by my Grandmother in 1946, assuming that she started it the year the kit was published.

The newest WIP was started 9/24/21 when I needed a new start for a challenge.

I have 3 WIPs started before 2000.

The oldest WIP started after 2000 is Fortunate Traveller started in 2003.

The year with the most WIP starts, five, is 2017 with 2 of those being annual SALs that I fell behind on.

The Largest WIP was started in 2015 and hasn’t seen much love because I signed an agreement not to share pictures on the internet.

The smallest WIP was started 3/1/2020 and should be finished this month now that I have the silk lame I ran out of.

Only one piece is on perforated paper.

Three of the pieces are on Aida

Two are embroidery, one is Blackwork, 3 are needlepoint, the remaining 26 are cross-stitch

Five pieces are over 30% complete, 15 pieces are at 15% or less completion

Two designers have 4 slots each on my WIP list, Teresa Wentzler and Nora Corbett/Mirabilia

I usually put 500 stitches into a new start before moving to another project.

Stitching Olympics

Back in the days of bulletin boards, we used to have stitching Olympics. We knew what was coming and we prepped for it ready to race. I won a spool of Krenik one year for my sprint finishes.

One of the other things that happened on the bulletin boards was every February there would be an implosion of some sorts and people would get feelings hurt and leave the boards.

I should start this next section by saying I’m not really a fan of Facebook, the only reason that I’m there is to stay connected with stitching friends some of which go back to the days of the Bulletin Boards. That said, this morning I belonged to several stitching groups which have friendly competitions, probably too many as more than once this month I’ve lost track of which start pictures I had where.

For the past couple days, I’ve had 2 friends who are feuding. I’ve been stuck in the middle and the only good part of it is I was kicked out of some of the stitching groups without notice. It made the decision of which games to quit much easier – they quit them for me.

I like both friends and have tried to maintain neutrality but being Switzerland is hard when one is asking me to turn on the other and the other is my dealer and pimp.

Part of My Stash from my German dealer

See, I am a scissors whore and I am a Kindertoy junkie. Since Solingen Steel is cheap in Germany and Kindertoys are not available for import I need a partner in crime who can supply me. Luckily, back in the days of bulletin boards we held a world wide get together for the Theresa Wentzler bulletin board. My German dealer joined us in Vegas for that event. We’ve exchanged packages ever since (I will admit I’ve received more than I’ve sent). So with this kind of habit to support asking me to take sides is a futile effort.

I’ve done my best to not post about the behind the scenes battle publicly but getting kicked out of groups with no warning or message from admins I DO NOT KNOW AND HAVE NEVER EXCHANGED A CONVERSATION WITH made me want to state my desire to remain neutral. I enjoy playing stitching games but I was stitching before games and I’ll be stitching long after they are gone and something else has replaced them, unless my fingers or eyesight goes.

See, one of the things that no one tells women is that a lack of estrogen can impact the joints and tendons. Luckily, my UK friends at the Semi-Sane Asylum did know about this and were able to suggest some lab work for my doctor to run which led to me getting bio-identical hormones which have been amazing for my hands. I’m so grateful for the friends at Semi Sane Stitching who told me about this problem. My doctor says that I can safely do about 10 years of the hormone treatment so I have a lot of stitching to do and limited time left.

So with lots of stitching to do, I don’t have time to be involved in drama or get stuck between people. Besides, I have my own stitching group where I’m trying to figure out how to fairly give away stuff that I am too lazy to sell on eBay because I don’t want it anymore. I would be happy to have suggestions on how to get rid of the BBOS – Big Bag of Stuff.

Just some data

So for my Data Geek Stitching Friends: collection period 2016 to 2020


4 Large,

13 Medium,

25 Small

431,237 stitches

Project duration
Large avg 6.5 years,

Med avg 3.72 years,

Small avg 44 days

My oldest WIP is from my Grandma and was started in the 1940s

My oldest WIP which I started is older than my kids

My 4 oldest cross stitch WIPs are designed by Teresa Wentzler

I have unstarted fully kitted projects that are 10 years old.

The goal this year is to finish more things than I start, lower the average age of completion, and stitch at least 120,000 stitches.