Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh yeah, I found it.

You all know a lot about me, but one thing you probably don't know is that I'm an avid cross stitcher, always have been. I pick it up and put it down every now and then, as with most hobbies, but it's something I've always enjoyed. As my Dad's illness progressed, my interest increased again and I've been stitching like crazy.

{Prepare for sudden subject change}

Any Mad Men fans out there? I know, I know, I'm waaaaay behind on this one. Everyone's told me how much I'd love the show, but I just never never had the time to watch it, until recently. I finally picked up season one from the library and, of course, was instantly hooked. I spent 11 years in advertising and design, and have always felt like I should have been spending my prime in the late 50s/early 60s, so aside from all the smoking (sheesh!), that totally could have been my life.

I plowed through seasons one and two in less than a week's time, but it was during the finale of season 2 that my little heart skipped a beat. Anyone remember this opening shot of the scene with Betty at the doctor's office?

It was much clearer on the TV but that's a cross stitch. A mighty big one, too. And really, could it be any darn cuter?

From that moment on it became my goal to find that pattern! With the beauty of the internet these days, I figured I could do it with no problem. My hunt proved to be a little more difficult than I first anticipated but after three weeks of super sleuthing, I had that little number in my crafty little hands!

When you think about, three weeks to find a pattern from the 40s is pretty darn amazing. But we're so used to instant results that it felt like an eternity. It did take quite a bit of detective work, but it was really fun. All that matters now is that I'm ready to start stitching!

The original piece was 2 feet wide, but was stitched on 7 count fabric! I generally use 16 or 18 count fabric, so my finished piece will be quite smaller, but still big enough to really be a stunner. Best part is, this pattern has a partner, a matching buck! You bet I'm making both.

They will definitely take me some time to complete, but I'll be sure to share some progress photos and, of course, the finished pieces!

So aside from my Mother and Fawn obsession, I stitched up many cute pieces for holiday gifts using patterns I found on Etsy and am also currently working on a few for myself, with a long wishlist to follow.

I purchased this fox pattern from andwabasabi on Etsy and stitched it up for my cousins out in Seattle.

I stitched this home sweet home up from a ChezSucreChez pattern I also found on Etsy.

I'm a big fan of single color work and silhouettes, and these entomology patterns by What Delilah Did are just too cool! I purchased the bee pattern but haven't tackled it yet.

She has some fabulous photos on her flickr page here of her pieces on display. Definitely inspiring!

I also purchased these patterns a little while back from kattuna on Etsy. I've been working on them to hang in my workspace, but I've only finished the bird so far. In mustard yellow, of course :)

I stitched a couple initials from patterns from andwabisabi for holiday gifts as well. You really can't go wrong with simplicity! The one shown above is a photo from her shop and you can find patterns for almost the entire alphabet there.

These flower patterns from Artecy are on a whole different level, but something I can't wait to take on. Aren't they beautiful?

A few of my other favorite pattern sites outside of Etsy are:
Cross Stitch Art — I absolutely love their art nouveau patterns. I have four in my to-do pile.
Stitch Alley — They have a fabulous collection of letter monograms.
Pinoy Stitch — They have a huge selection of anything under the sun! This pattern is also in my to-do pile. Crazy? Just a little.

And last but not least, I have two favorite books I have to recommend for nature lovers. The first is Roses and Flowering Branches in Counted Cross Stitch. Amazing! It's on the pricier side because it's hard to find, but totally worth it. I want to stitch every pattern in the book. (I have some photos if anyone wants to see more before purchasing it!)

The second is a book I picked up from the library yesterday, Four Seasons in Cross Stitch. I don't love every pattern in the book but the four images on the cover plus some adorable mushrooms inside make it worth the $4 for a used copy.

So, who else shares my passion? And, more importantly, did anyone else out there have the same reaction when seeing that piece on Mad Men?!

happy weekend, everyone ~ xo

Thursday, February 24, 2011

nine days without dad

It's been nine days since I watched my father take his last breath. The one thing I've heard almost as much as I'm sorry is that it will get easier with time. But that's not the case, at least not yet. It's just been getting harder.

It's 4:03 a.m. as I lay in bed typing this. I haven't slept in over a week and don't feel it coming anytime soon. Maybe this is normal. Maybe this is processing. Whatever it is, it just sucks. What are those five stages of grief? I can never remember how they go, but I'm pretty sure I have them out of order. I started with acceptance. I had so long to consider the possibility that my Dad would lose his battle, that finally accepting it felt so easy. Though I'm realizing now that once I accepted it, everything happened so fast and I never really processed it. Looks like acceptance will be coming back around again.

Denial and Isolation. This is the first stage, and I'm guessing a lot of family and friends may think I've been at this stage for some time, but I haven't and probably never will be. I'm just not a public crier, I prefer to cry alone, on my time, when I can truly process the feelings weeping from my eyes and get through them in my own way, rather than because someone in front of me is telling me how.

I'm starting to feel anger creep in for the first time. I've done pretty good focusing on all the amazing years we had as a family, feeling lucky for having 32 good years with my dad rather than 75 mediocre ones, but now I'm angry that he is gone.

I don't think I ever did any bargaining, though I have found myself looking up and asking my Dad to take the pain away.

4:12 a.m.

I need a kleenex. I had so much more to say but lost it somewhere on the way to the bathroom. It makes me sad to think that so many of you reading this right now can relate. It's not fair. Which may be the single most popular phrase in the world, but it's true.

I've been internally debating about taking this into religion, but that and politics are two things I purposely try to avoid here, and I just don't have the strength right now to delve that deep.

Am I going somewhere with all of this? No. We all work through things in our own way. I type, and it helps. I also buy shoes and eat peanut butter, but we won't go there.

I promise my blog won't be this depressing forever. I have this huge void in my soul but I have so much to fill it with. I will be back again, back to the person who smiles as much as my Dad did, the person he raised and the person he loved with all his heart and soul. Without even knowing it, he gave me the strength to get through this, so I damn well better.

4:30 a.m.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

saying goodbye

It was almost two years ago exactly that my Dad discovered what he thought was a bug bite on his leg. He was diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma just shy of two months later. I officially gave up my hope that he would win the fight this past December 23 and he finally lost his battle today at 7:20 am. He was 59.

The house was quiet and dark. My mom and husband were sleeping, I was at his bed side holding his hand as he took his last breath. The last two years have been hard. The last eight months have been harder. The last two weeks have been the hardest and there just aren't words to describe the last few days. But it's over, and that's what we've been hoping for. Once you know you're out of options, you just want the pain to end.

I've had a long time to prepare for this moment, and I know it's helped immensely, but it's still harder than anything really should be. I know there will be times I forget that he is gone. I'm sure to hit speedial 6 on my cell phone at least half a dozen times before it really sinks in. This has been the focus of my life for so long now, I know I'll feel some confusion in the weeks ahead. It will take some time to get into a new routine, but I have lots to keep me busy and so much to look forward to.

I have nothing but good memories though. My Dad was a super cool guy and no one would protest that. It's been really nice to get messages from school day friends remembering how cool he always was to them. I've always been thankful to my parents for helping to mold me into the person I am. They set a perfect example for me to learn the important things like a strong work ethic, how to be a good person, how to cook and how to love. Most importantly they let me figure out who I was going to be, and then let me be that person.

The services are Thursday and Friday at a beautiful memorial park near my house. Dad said he wanted it to be a party, so I hope we can make it one. I'm wearing a yellow dress, figured that was a good place to start.

I honestly would have fallen apart through all of this without the amazing support from all of you. You saved me, and I think about that every day.

I'll be back in action full steam ahead once the dust settles. Soon though. I'm ready.

xox ~ nicole

My Dad and I, 1980