Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Too fast, too fast

Once a year, a few of us get together to stitch, knit, goof-off, bitch, and just enjoy ourselves. The last couple of years we've used my parents' house in WVa. It has the convenience of being close but private enough with no tv or internet that we can really just cut ourselves off from the world.

This year was no different. Five of us (Sue, Cindy, Debbie, and Catherine) headed off on Friday evening stocked with a WHOLE bunch of junk food. My awesome mom had also made us some korean bbq beef, and ingredients for Bi Bim Bap (basically mixed rice with meat and vegetables). With our stash of food, there was no need to leave the house for the entire weekend.

We all set up our stuff in the main room and just had an amazing time. There's nothing quite like wonderful friends who can really talk to each other and be relaxed. I think this was the best time yet for me. We did our various crafts, played some multi-player DS games, trash-talked a lot (OK, I trash-talked while gaming....it's a weakness), and enjoyed being silly.

I loved this weekend, it gave me a chance to just relax and get away from work mentally for a while. I got to just concentrate on stitching, knitting, gaming, and gabbing. The weekend did go by too fast though. I think we all agree that next time we've got to make this a 3-day weekend at least.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dogs & food

Our dogs love food, any kind of food. As Scott can attest to, on our daily walks Pete will even try stuff on the roads that just looks edible. One of my favorite activities involves tossing bits of food and watching the dogs grab it from the air (ok, so I entertain easily). While watching them, I've always wondered what a high-speed picture would capture since Pete looks like Jaws when he catches food. A couple days ago the circumstances came together so that Mike was able to take some good shots of the dogs while I tossed treats at them. Below are a few of my favorite pictures from the session:

Stay on target...

Stay on target...

Aw, nuts. There it goes!

And another miss (Don't worry, Max got lots of treats)

And obviously Mom can't throw very well.

Here's Jaws


Caught it off the side!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Daily Grind

For the last two and a half years I have been happily unemployed. Mike and I had left AOL together and spent about a year together just enjoying traveling, friends, xbox, working on the house, etc. Mike went back to work after the year and I put out some resumes at that time. I did get a couple of interviews but nothing panned out. I did use that time to get my PMP (project management professional) certification since that seems to be hot thing for project managers recently. After the certification, I kept my eye out for jobs but most were looking for specific qualifications I didn't have or else the job was in DC. I'm in one of those incredibly lucky positions that I didn't have to get a job, so I got to be picky on what I was looking for.

After some time, I decided I liked staying home. I chose my own hours, worked on the house, made dinner for us, took care of the dogs, etc and still had the afternoons to just relax, stitch, read, knit, and vegetate. Mike loved it because the house was pretty darn clean, the dogs were taken care of, dinner was ready, all the various chores were finished.

A couple of months ago I saw a PjM position on the aol-alumni group that I'm part of and thought it sounded interesting. I honestly turned in my resume as a whim, I didn't really think they'd call me. After all, I haven't worked for 2.5 years, the job market is depressed, and there are a LOT of applications out there. I did get a call and interviewed with the company which is located in (yep, you guessed it) DC. The people, culture, and job sounded fantastic and they offered me the job.

I start on June 1st and I've decided to take public transportation instead of driving so my commute will be the exact length everyday and I get to do something else (DS, read, knit, podcast, audiobooks) during the commute other than get road rage. Mike has mixed feelings about the job. He's glad that I'm doing something new, (hopefully) fun, and getting out of the house; however he really liked all the things I took care of while he was at work. I'm really excited and can't wait to start working again. Wonderful Scott and Sue have volunteered to check in on the dogs during the day for walks and company so Pete and Max will be ok while we're gone all day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I broke 100

We bought bikes a few weeks ago and I've been enjoying some fairly good rides with Mike, Scott, Sue, and the girls. I've been keeping a bike journal of the stats for our rides so I could see the trends. Mike also has some cool stats he gathers from his iphone here. Today I've hit over 100 cumulative miles on our various rides and I'm quite pleased at how it's going.

The nice thing about bikes is how far you can go. A 2 mile walk with the dogs takes me about 45 minutes while a 15 mile ride will take about 1.5 hrs. I've also noticed that my endurance appears to be getting better. I'm able to increase the average speed on our rides and also stay in higher gears for much longer.

My biggest hope is to have buns of steel by the end of the year however there may be a small snag to that wish. I've been finding that I tend to overeat after the bike rides (ice cream, milkshakes, burgers, junk food) which puts me in a positive calorie range, not negative. I need to change my thought process so I don't put so much food/junk into my body after our rides.

I think Mike and I have gotten bit by the bike bug. I hope we continue to keep up with it especially when the icky humid summer comes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rain, mud, friends, food

Every year there's the MD Sheep & Wool Festival at the Howard County fairgrounds. It is probably one of the largest events for needlecraft folks in this area. There are lots and lots of yarn, fibers, fiber animals (sheep, alpaca, bunnies), and fun stuff to buy.

This year we convinced two newbies to come with us to experience the stashing awesomeness. The five and a half (a miniature person) of us headed up to the festival on sunday. Unfortunately it rained the entire time we were there, starting with our drive. Thankfully since we knew it was going to rain all day we had our raingear (did you know strollers have raingear too? It's so cool!) so we stayed (mostly) dry. Fortunately the rain meant there were a LOT less people on sunday than saturday. Many of the vendors said saturday was literally full of people elbow to elbow in the booths with very little space to move. I'm a grumpy old person (mentally) and I hate crowds so I was just fine with the steady rain and less people.

We all trekked around, watched Noah (the mini-person) have a grand time with the sheep and alpaca, ate lots of carnival foods (YUM, one of the best parts!), and bought some fun stuff. Ok, so everyone showed some restraint with purchasing but I decided to go all out!

I ended up buying some cool ribbon yarn and a tank-top pattern. I saw the tank top last year at Stitches East but didn't buy it. It was still calling to me this year so I figured that meant I really wanted it. I've also made a fair number of socks but I've never tackled fair isle (multiple colors) before. I love the bright colors and since this came as a kit, I had to buy it. I also got a sock blank dyed in a neat pattern. I'm very curious to see how it looks after being knitted into socks. Lastly Sue noticed a great swirl shawl that I had fawned over at Stitches East (but didn't buy) so she enabled and bought me the pattern! Now I have to find cool yarn to go with it. Course I have to hurry up and finish some of my other projects so I can add these to my queue (HA, that's funny, I'll probably just start these without even finishing my other stuff first).

All in all I think we had a really good time. Purchases were made, new crafts were discovered, bunnies were lusted after, and lots of great food was consumed. Oh, and did I mention that the rain stopped RIGHT as we were leaving the festival?

Friday, May 1, 2009

It was a slaughter

Jen got us great Washington National (baseball) tickets for tonight. Nats were playing against the St. Louis Cardinals. We had such a great time the last time we watched the Nats that we were looking forward to tonight's game. We still got kick-ass parking (literally inside the stadium) and seats about 12 rows behind the home dugout (on the first base line).

(there's a red circle around the area we were seated, almost directly opposite the picture)

The evening weather turned out perfect even though it had rained through most of the day with weather in the high-60s with clear skies. We wrestled through friday DC traffic and made it to our seats by the bottom of the 1st inning.

I should have known it was a bad sign when the score was already 0-1 Nats vs Cards when we sat down. Basically it was a massacre. By the 7th inning stretch, the score was 0-6 with no signs of comeback by the Nats. We decided enough was enough so we headed out. By the time we reached the parking garage, the Nats had batted a triple followed by a home run so the score became 2-6. We gave some thought to watching the rest of the game but decided against it and headed home. That ended up being the right decision since 2-6 was the final score of the evening.

Don't get me wrong. We really enjoyed being out in the nice weather, watching a free game from really great seats, eating ballpark food but it would have been SO much more enjoyable had the Nats made an effort to win!

The best part of the night was a brief conversation Mike and I had during the game. I noticed there seemed to be a large number of Cardinal fans in the stadium tonight and mentioned that to Mike.

His response, "That makes sense, they are awfully close to here". I gave him a puzzled look after his response so he said, "Aren't they just north of here?"

I told him, "No, those are the Baltimore Orioles, the St. Louis Cardinals are from Missouri."

Mike's response? "Oh! Well, Orioles, Cardinals they're both birds." Boy, and I thought I was bad with sports!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Very large dog doors

I finished the world's largest dog door for our back door yesterday. The dogs often like to go out to sun themselves or explore the backyard but also like to come in and see what we're doing. When they get bored, they want to go back outside. Since we get tired of opening and closing the backdoor, on nice days we just leave the door open so the dogs can go in and out as they please. Unfortunately that means we've had flies, bees, wasps, and birds (!) coming into the house.

I always wanted to just put a screen mesh or something so the dogs could come in and out since a doggy door wasn't an option but I wasn't sure about the logistics. Then Cindy had a fantastic blog post about a companion screen that she created for their boat. I really liked that idea but would need to make a few changes for our backdoor. Our screen would have to be temporary with very little hardware needed. Then I didn't give it anymore thought since it was getting chilly and no longer an issue for us.

This spring I have to replace a few screen windows that have holes so I bought a very large roll of screen mesh. I thought this was a great opportunity to put the screen in place on the backdoor too but still wasn't sure about the logistics of it all. Then the Google answered my prayers. I found this site that sold something that was exactly what I needed. After looking at the pictures I knew I could build this easily. I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a tension rod and some magnets. When I got home, I measured out the screen I needed and started sewing the edges and top with the magnets.

The whole process took about 3 hours to finish but I'm very pleased with how it worked out. The dogs were a bit hesitant to go through the screens but I think they're getting used to it. I'm looking foward to using this for the spring and fall.

Curse has been lifted!

I'm finished Finished FINISHED!!! Hee hee the garage doors are completed after so many issues! Back in August we had a small oops with our garage doors and got new ones. We found really nice garage doors at Costco so we got them within a month after the incident.

(original doors before the incident)

After we got the doors installed we wanted to paint them to match the house. Unfortunately I had a hell of a time finding the right grey color to match the house (the right grey color was too light to see as an accent on the doors) so I went a little darker. Then I painted the interior squares of the garage door to match the trim which is an off-white. Unfortunately the off-white paint looked WAY too yellow so I left the other two doors with their original bright white and painted the grey accents. So that part was easy.

(new doors, pre-painting)

After the grey was finished, I had to go back and repaint the interior squares of the first garage door, easy right? Unfortunately straight white paint was too white (since the doors are steel with white paint meaning the overall tint is slightly grey-ish). After painting one square and realizing it was too light, I got the lightest grey paint and found that was too grey! So I started mixing the two paints together to try to find the right mix. It took me about 3 tries then I just decided whatever color I had is the one that was going on. By this time winter had reached us and it was time to quit.

Spring finally came back so I tried again. While I was painting this time I ended up spilling half the paint on the driveway! Since I needed that paint (custom paint now) I started scooping the paint back into the can. My hands coated in paint, I headed back inside to clean up but ended up leaving paint on the entry rug (my sneaker had white paint on it). I cleaned up and headed outside to hose down the driveway. While hosing it all down, I accidentally sprayed my ipod and speakers so I had to clean that up. At this point I'm just fuming cause nothing is going right but I continue and finally get most of the paint cleaned up. I cleaned everything up, and shut down operations. While I find the whole thing amusing now, I was so frustrated at the time that I called it quits for a few weeks. If Mike would mention the incomplete paint job I would shoot him an evil look and ignore him. The weather and frustration level finally worked out so I finished the garage doors yesterday while it was beautiful outside.

(finished doors)

I love the garage doors and the colors but I think I'm finished with garage doors now. (Oh, and for those smart-alecky friends, the grey accents are the same colors for all doors, it's simply the angle of the shot)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Who knew the outdoors could be fun?

A few weeks ago a bunch of us headed to W&OD trail so I could try out my Landrollers on more than our neighborhood streets. I got to have some company from Scott/Sue/kids and Mike. Mike borrowed Scott's bike while Scott roller bladed with me.

Well the trip turned out to be a success. Mike enjoyed the bike ride, I didn't fall on my butt (or anything else), and all had a great time. Unfortunately blading is a lot more intensive than bike riding so I decided to get a bike to keep up (I plan to keep blading but practice on my own). Performance Bikes is having a sale so Sue, Mike, and I bought entry-level Fuji bikes last weekend for pretty good prices. I took my bike in on wednesday for some further tune-up and instead upgraded to a better bike for $34 (little bit of haggling and other bonuses got the price down).

Today we took the bikes on the W&OD trail out by Rt28 and headed west. We made it all the way to Luckstone quarry in Ashburn (about 6 miles) before heading back. Round-trip took us about 1hr 15 min (way back was MUCH nicer...downhill with the wind at our back). It was a good relatively leisurely ride ending with really good food at Cheeburger (have you noticed how wonderful food tastes after working out?). We really had a great time biking and the trail is relatively flat and easy to handle.

Now that we've got the momentum going (HA, one bike ride so far, that's momentum?) we're trying to bike more often at least until the weather gets ridiculously hot and humid.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toxic friendships

This blog is encrypted. Email me for the key.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More flitting from project to project

We had a fantastic time in Aspen but I was rather surprised at the jet lag I suffered after coming back. I mean, come on, it was only 3 time differences away and the flight was only about 4 hours! I think I'm just a wimp about traveling as I get older.

Since we've gotten back from Aspen, I've been a total slack-ass. I need to get started with our landscaping outside but we ended up with about 4-5 inches of snow earlier this week. That makes it a bit tough to get to the weeds so I had an excuse to stay indoors. I have to also get back on painting the interior of our house but I had a ready excuse for that too. We're watching our friends' chocolate lab, Jackson. He follows us around everywhere and I don't want to paint while he's here since it could get a little hairy. So instead I tidied the house a bit and spent a lot of time just stitching and knitting (yes, I am spoiled, yes, I know it, yes, I love it).

Right before Aspen I did more work on Cirque du Cercles but I didn't get a chance to post my progress. It's a fun one to stitch since it's just one variegated floss with a lot of bright colors.

Also I had worked on Frises & Alphabets before Aspen but had to frog the whole thing out due to color bleeding into the fabric so I restarted the whole thing. I got a little further than my first attempt. Sue helped me choose all the colors on this one (it's usually monochrome) and I love the choices she picked! It's another fun and easy one to stitch.

I also continue to work on some baby knits and I've started a toe-up sock. All the socks I've previously knitted have been cuff-down so I figured I'd try something new. I've definitely got shiny object syndrome since I can't seem to stay on one project for too long recently.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aspen Day 4

We woke up this morning with the expected aches and pains, but ready to do some more skiing. We headed back to Buttermilk, but decided to skip additional lessons, and instead focus on practicing what we learned yesterday and just having some fun on the easy and intermediate slopes.

We got there shortly after 9am. At the base of Buttermilk it was raining pretty steadily all morning, making things cold and uncomfortable. Once our lift was halfway up the mountain, the rain turned to big heavy snow flakes. It was a pretty different experience than the previous two days. For one thing, we could barely see, with the mountain top covered in clouds, and the snow coming down pretty hard. Each time we went back up there was a LOT more snow on the ground. Within an hour or two there were several inches of fresh powder covering the top half of the mountain.

Skiing in fresh snow was a bit harder than we expected. For one thing, it's slower, meaning we had to work harder to push ourselves along the occasional flat area. Also, the powder masks the underlying terrain, so an area that looks smooth might actually be bumpy or rough. Once the snow got deep, it was also harder and more tiring to steer and control our skiing. After a couple hours we both decided we were done for the day. The combination of the declining conditions and our tired muscles convinced us to "end on a good note" rather than push ourselves too far. Most people appeared to feel the same way since Buttermilk was just about deserted all day, we had each slope almost completely to ourselves.

Mike and I headed back to the condo to clean up and relax while our friends continued skiing at Snowmass today. Once they got back that afternoon, we unanimously agreed to get food delivered to the condo instead of making dinner or going out (three of them had tackled Longshot, a 5.2 mile long ski slope that afternoon). We all noshed on pizzas then played poker until bedtime.

Overall a fantastic vacation. Aspen has some breathtaking views, especially while on the chair lifts. The skiing is a lot of fun and the weather is gorgeous. Strangely 35 degrees in Aspen (with the sun out) feels a lot warmer than in VA. Aspen is small enough that you can walk to just about anything around town. Unfortunately it is also not a cheap vacation spot (Course we already knew it was going to be expensive so we just enjoyed ourselves and really had a great time). The restaurants are expensive but the food is mediocre. The rentals, ski lift tickets, and lessons aren't cheap but with the type of skiing available in Aspen it shouldn't be a surprise. The lessons were great since the groups were so small and our instructor really did help each of us improve our skiing.

I'm hooked, I'm ready for more west coast skiing now. Course I'm eager for East Coast skiing too (preferably New Hampshire or Vermont).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Aspen Day 3

Mike and I are really enjoying Aspen so far. The weather has been absolutely wonderful this week: mid-30s with sun (it actually feels close to 60 degrees when the sun is out), it hasn't been crowded, and we've completed adjusting to the altitude change.

Today we headed to Buttermilk Mountain (smallest mountain here, a lot of greens and blues, couple of blacks, no double blacks) for our lesson. We signed up for a full day lesson (10-3) at Level 5 (Levels 1-9, 9 being double-black). Our friend Dan suggested taking lessons at Buttermilk instead of Snowmass Mountain since Buttermilk has better slopes to learn on and it's a lot less crowded. There were a fair number of skiers taking lessons this morning but the school provides a lot of instructors so each little group was no more than 4 people (ours had 3 people).

The class ended up being a huge benefit to both Mike and myself. My biggest issue with skiing is not turning or edging but slowing down properly on steep slopes without doing an emergency brake/turn. George (our instructor) said it best: "On the black slopes you're not skiing, you're surviving". I wasn't finishing my turns properly and instead of turning and edging together, I would turn sharp, edge, then speed up. The lessons taught me how my feet needed to feel, the proper way to edge, and how to complete the turn. By the end of the day I had made huge improvements to my skiing and I was very happy with my form. Mike learned how to turn properly and edge so by the end of the lesson, he looked very confident and quite good at his turns and stops. The lesson ended up being pretty much a private lessons, since our third person only did a half-day so after lunch it was only Mike and I with George.

We both had a fantastic time today. We started on greens and did a few blues through the day. If we do another class tomorrow, it would be concentrating on tighter narrow turns and going on some black slopes.

The view at Buttermilk is quite breathtaking. One of the chair lifts passes right by Pyramid Peak through the valley and a fantastic view of Aspen Highlands (another ski mountain in Aspen). Unfortunately I ran out of space on the camera right before we went through the valley so I wasn't able to get a picture of the view.

Tomorrow is our last day of skiing, we're not sure what we're going to do yet. We may head to Buttermilk Mountain again since there are a lot of intermediate slopes, it's not crowded and we might do another lesson. Otherwise we will go back to Snowmass since it also has a fair number of blue slopes, while Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands are definitely for more advanced skiiers (not for us).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Aspen Day 2

If I had to put our Day 2 into just a few words, it would be: huff huff, puff puff, ow, Ow, OUCH!!

Now for the longer version. We started our day pretty early at 6:30am, rest of the group was up by about 7-7:30. We did an informal breakfast of carbs, fruit, and coffee in the condo and headed out to Snowmass mountain (the furthest mountain from Aspen). The weather was absolutely gorgeous today with a high of 38 degrees at the base and about 28 degrees at the high elevation. There was very little wind and since it was so sunny outside, it was fantastic skiing weather. Snowmass' base elevation is 8,100ft and the summit elevation is 12,500ft. We were already having some issues adjusting to the Aspen altitude so we knew skiing would be quite a challenge.

We got our lift tickets and rentals for the next 3 days (whew, Aspen is not cheap), got fitted for our stuff, and headed straight to the top on the high-speed chair (14 minutes to the top). Our experienced friends started with a blue slope while we headed for a green slope. Since the mountain is so tall, there are a lot of mid-point chair lifts so you only go down half the mountain, then go back up. Right after the green, Mike and I ended up taking the lift to the blue section (very few greens at Snowmass, especially at the top of the mountain) and skiing those until lunchtime.

Skiing in Pennsylvania/W.Virginia vs Colorado is quite a difference. First big difference is that all the slopes in Aspen are snow, real snow as opposed to the man-made snow/ice created on the East Coast. Second is the height of the mountains. In Aspen, it takes us much longer to ski down the hill than waiting in line and riding the chair back up to the top. In our area, it is the exact opposite. Aspen's green slopes are comparable to blue at home, and their blue slopes are comparable to the black slopes at home. Lastly, the views at the bottom, top, and skiing are breathtaking in Aspen.

We met our friends for lunch at the top of the mountain and relaxed for a while. After lunch, both of us were pretty tired due to the thin air and amount of skiing we've done. My feet were also pretty painful due to blistering under the ankles. We decided to do a green slope down to the rental place so I could get a more comfortable pair of boots. Unfortunately the way down took a VERY long time and I ended up in a fair bit of pain. We made it back to the rental place with Mike chivalrously taking my skis for me. I got another pair of boots to try for tomorrow but we decided to call it an early day for today since my ankles were pretty sore.

Our friend Dan (his parents own the condo) had been here for a week with his family already. Earlier in the week he took a skiing lesson to help weed out some of his bad habits. He really liked the class, so Mike and I have decided to take a skiing lesson tomorrow at Buttermilk (the smallest mountain in Aspen) to help us improve our skiing and make sure we're doing everything the right way. Mike hasn't had a skiing lesson since he was a kid, and I've never had a skiing lesson so we're both interested to find out the correct way to do things.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Aspen Day 1

The parents of a friend of ours owns a condo in Aspen and he invited us (with a few other friends) to spend about 4 days there so Mike and I jumped at the chance to do some real snow skiing.

With Scott acting as our chauffeur, we headed to Dulles this morning. We were shocked to find Dulles was almost completely empty on a Friday morning. We zoomed through check-in and security and our plane took off on time, it was a red-letter day for traveling!

Once in Denver, we took a quick food break and got on a very small plane to Aspen. The trip only took about 30 minutes but the view from the plane was quite amazing. We could see the ski slopes as we started our descent. From the air the slopes didn't seem so overwhelming but once on the ground Kathie realized how much difference perspective makes.

The condo is a nice 2-bedroom suite with pull-out bed couch. There's six of us staying but since Mike and I are the only couple here, we lucked out with the master bedroom (king-sized bed w/NO DOGS!!) From the balcony we can see one of the gondolas going straight up the mountain.

Surprised to see how small Aspen is overall. There are four different mountains to ski on and the village at the bottom. We can walk to a fair number of places in Aspen and the condo transport will take us pretty much anywhere else.

Since most of us trickled into Aspen this afternoon (and one comes in close to midnight tonight) we won't start skiing until tomorrow at Snowmass mountain (good to start here since it has more green slopes so we can warm up). The weather here is supposed to be wonderful tomorrow too, about 35 degrees and sunny.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stitching pictures

I've said it before and I'll say it again. My blogging has seriously lagged since I've discovered Twitter since it's just so easy to do quick updates there instead of blogging. While twitter is great for microblogging the daily stuff, the blog is good for pictures and updates, especially regarding stitching. I do hope to have more to blog about in about 2 weeks. Mike and I are headed to Aspen to try our hand at west coast skiing (ok, not really west coast but definitely not east coast skiing). I'm really excited about doing some skiing on "real" snow and I think Mike is just pleased to go on vacation.

Since my sister is pregnant (yay!), I've been doing some knitting for the baby but I don't plan to show those pictures online since Jen is one of the few who reads my blog, so those will just have to wait for a while. I have been alternating between knitting and stitching so I've finally been getting more progress on my cross-stitching.

Naughty Sue enabled me (she is good at it) to buy Frises & Alphabets from Nouveau Encore as a reward to myself for making it a month sweets-free (LONGEST month of my life!). She even helped (& supplied) me choose fantastic colors for the sampler. I LOVED stitching on it and got the corner border, A, and B finished. Then I realized I miscounted somewhere and frogged out the part I screwed up. Unfortunately the silks I used bled into the fabric so I tried to spot-clean it which made the whole thing worse. The water travelled to the other floss on the fabric and that bled everywhere so I had to rip it all out, wash the fabric, and start over again. Needless to say, I have NOT started it again yet but I still have the urge to work on it soon.

In the meantime, I've also been working on various other works in progress so I'll just post those pictures here:

Celestial Dragon (TW) has been hibernating for a while but recently I had the urge to work on it so I pulled it out. I finished the left corner and lettering and I'm very pleased how it's turning out so far.

Spanish Bleu (Sampler Cove) is also quite enjoyable to stitch. It's very different for me since I'm only using one strand of floss so my tension has been be really light.

Red Velvet Inscription Sampler is another fun one using Belle Soie silks. So far I've finished A-E and G-K (each one of those blocks contains a letter disguised in the design).

So those are my stitching updates so far. Hopefully I'll have some great snow pictures in a couple of weeks to post.