Weekend Wrap-Up: 4/13-4/14

Double fair weekend preparation number two! This weekend was, of course, filled with will several trips to Joann and Michael’s as I attempted to restock all of my used up floss and to clear San Diego County out of all wooden embroidery hoops available. I would like to take this moment and platform to bring up a grievance that I have regarding what people call the store shown below. This fine chain of stores is called Joann Fabrics and Crafts; the acceptable shortened version of this being Joann. But nearly every single individual on the face of the planet calls it Joann’sThere is no “s” and it is not possessive, it’s not referring to the fabrics and crafts of dear Joann! It is just Joann (Fabrics and Crafts). Got it? Good! Thank you for letting me vent.


My primary shopping goal for the weekend was to gather the items needed for my Queen Bee Market display. That meaning that I needed many, many crates… to build a barricade! Yes, I felt very Les Miserables (and a tad bit Miss Saigon; however only extreme theatre geeks will get that reference). In total I was able to use several coupons and buy six crates at a fabulously discounted rate. What other store sends you 40-60% off coupons nearly weekly? None! I made the most of those coupons by using them on the $12 crates, woohoo!


As you can imagine, the rest of the weekend was spent sitting on my booty doing lots and lots of stitching. Oh, and sewing! I did actually use my machine quite a bit, just so that it knows that I still love it.


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Sunday, as always, began with worship. We even witnessed the ordination of new elders and deacons.

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Post worship, we headed to a nearby “health” store. I use the quotations because there is plenty of unhealthy crap that can be found here and I find that people think that everything found in stores like Sprouts and Trader Joe’s is healthy. Um, it’s not. Their food is generally a better alternative to the garbage found at most nation-wide chains, but you still have to look closely at what exactly your purchasing. Husband and I don’t eat any processed foods, dairy, sugar, or grains so there you go. I do, however, eat loads of almonds! Like an embarrassing amount; I’ll level with you and say that I can easily finish off 1.5 pounds by myself in a week. Nothing is more yummy than roasted, unsalted almonds. Yum yum!


And you’ll never guess what I found there… a barricade of crates! They were following me!


And to further bore you with the mundane details of my chores, we had to buy more food for Jackie cat! He too is on a strictly protein and fruit & veggie diet. But for some reason, this particular type of Ideal Balance Science Diet did contain brown rice. Oh well!


And is it not the worst thing in the world to see caged shelter dogs right in front of a pet store entrance?! I hate this because it makes me want to take them all home with me, only I have absolutely no space for any of them! Lord help me if I lived on a ranch!

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Brownie baking (http://jenniskitchen.com/2012/01/23/grain-free-brownies/), stitching, and quality time with Husband consumed the remainder of the day.Oh, as well as my complete love with the color pallet below! I first came across this pallet here: http://laybabylay.com/quilt-giveaway-candy-apple-delight/ while playing on Pinterest one day. It was pretty much love at first sight! And the funny thing was that Husband actually like it too.


And I could not resist adding the Les Mis felties to the barricade for one final shot! Happy Monday, everyone!



What is a Ramin Karimloo?

broadwaytobluegrass So just what is a Ramin Karimloo? A spicey food; an exotic destination? No, he is the third cast member of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert that I am going to see perform live! On April 21st, Husband and I will be driving up to North Hollywood to see the incomparable Ramin Karimloo perform his the first show (of the US leg) of his Broadway to Bluegrass tour! Woohooo, I am so very excited! I’m going to restrain against my instinct to share a clip of him performing Les Mis and instead let you listen to him perform the best song from Love Never Dies (the theatrical sequel to Phantom of the Opera). Have a listen:

I could listen to that song over and over again! Ramin is Iranian by ethnicity, Canadian by nationality and has been living in London  playing in both The Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis as the lead roles. He also originated the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies in which he starred opposite the very lovely and talented Sierra Boggess! Sierra is probably my favorite American musical theatre actress; she’s brilliant. And the two of them together were absolutely dynamite!


Look at that passion…yikes! There is a whole #TeamRierra movement happening among theatre junkies, but I’m straying off topic. (But I’ll indulge myself by sharing one photo…!)


If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll remember that I declared my theatrical admiration for Mr. Karimloo back in January: https://leftylex.com/2013/01/20/do-you-hear-the-people-sing/ so I am highly anticipating his upcoming concert.

Wanna know a secret about him? This is hiding underneath his costumes! Crazy, right? A straight man with a wife, two kids, and abs like these actually excelling in musical theatre…wow!


If you’ve stuck with this post long enough to reach this point, I guess I’ll show you my little stitched nod to Ramin & Sierra… watch out, super geek alert!


Les Felties: Jean Valjean

image And last, but certainly not least, we come to Jean Valjean the gallant main character. Les Miserable tells the tale of the many stages of Valjean’s life and this hoop has captured his turning from hating towards goodness. He is a very internally conflicted character and I feel that the film version of LM is able to better portray that torment due to the camera’s ability to really get up close and personal with the lovely Hugh Jackman.

He did a superb job! However, while many an actor have played Jean Valjean, none have been more vocally impressive than Alfie Boe. Check out this snippet from the 25th Anniversary Concert where Alfie is performing along with three others who have played the role. But right around 0:25 is where Alfie proves that his powerhouse vocals are not to be outdone!

I love, love, love, love Alfie! Want proof? See those crazy eyes in the photo below? Um yah, that’s me hardly containing my excitement when speaking with him after a concert; hardly being the key word here.

me&alfie Yup, that was a great night! I could literally go on and on and on about Alfie, but we must discuss our little felt Jean Valjean.

imageOkay, back to this little guy. Here he appears in his chain gang garb donning his prison number for those long nineteen years, 24601. I was so excited when I found this felt because it very closely resembles the actual color of Valjean’s costume in the stage performance. In his hand he holds a gift from the Bishop, a silver candlestick which he must use to alter his wretched state and become an honorable man. Spoiler alter: he succeeds!

Jean Valjean sends you off with this bit of wisdom (actually the last lyrics that he sings in the film/stage production): And remember, the truth that once was spoken; to love another person is to see the face of God…

Les Felties: Fantine

image Time to meet dear Fantine! In a nutshell, Fantine had a short whirlwind romance, conceived Cosette from that relationship, the guy took off, and she spent the rest of her life doing whatever was needed in order to provide for her daughter. This of course included prostitution and selling her beloved hair; hence the reason she’s donning a choppy boy cut in this hoop. Although her screen/stage time isn’t much she does have the most memorable and popular song of the entire musical: I Dreamed a Dream. (I believe that everyone in the English-speaking world is familiar with Susan Boyle’s performance of the song, right?)

Let’s have a listen to a snippet of Anne Hathaway’s Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning performance from Les Mis the film:

There is no way that she is not going to win the Oscar for this as well!I have seen/heard dozens of actresses sing this song but Anne’s performance had be balling my eyes out in a matter of seconds! Wow, she was good! And for extra fun, let us now watch a small cut of the song as performed by the best stage Fantine ever… Lea Salonga!

If you’ve been following this Les Felties series, you’re probably thinking to yourself: didn’t we see this chick a few days ago? And you’d be correct. you can see Lea in the role of Eponine right here: https://leftylex.com/2013/01/29/les-felties-eponine/

And did you like that little PBS plug at the end to purchase the DVD? Well, I did and I got mine signed by Lea herself! I know that I’ve shared these before, but perhaps you have never read my blog before, so share again I must!

securedownload  DSC05078 (2) I still can’t believe that actually happened! Now the signing off the photo/blu-ray and the photo on the right happened on two separate nights after performances of Allegiance a new Broadway-bound musical that is set to open sometime this year. It was absolutely amazing, but we’ll discuss that musical at a later time!

image I digress!  This is my stitchy take on Fantine’s song. This hoop went through many revisions, but I did not like the look of the entire title so I stuck with the key word: dream. This is a super simple hoop made of French knots and split stitches but I really like it.

image Fantine’s lfe was a tragic one but in the final scene she does appear to be an angel, of sorts, that guides Jean Valjean to heaven, so we can assume that Hugo’s fictional afterlife treated her better than her time on Earth. All’s well that ends well!

Les Felties: Marius

image I love this little feltie! Don’t tell the others, but he might be my favorite. He does have a rather large head (we’ll have to change that next time) but his cute little outfit and French flag more than make up for his giant head. Marius is the love interest of both Eponine and Cosette, a student, and a revolutionist. On the stage, he has been played by several very fine actors but none as wonderful as the original, Michael Ball. Check out this clip of Ball performing at the Les Mis 10th anniversary concert.

He is excellent! And although I do not believe that Eddie Redmayne (Marius in the LM film) has the same impressive vocal ability that Ball has, his rendition of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables is spot on, he had me balling! I’m a little angry that I could not find the clip to show you. I know that the film is still in theatres, but you would have thought that someone might have sneaked a camera in and filmed this scene. Oh well, I guess you’ll just have to go see it for yourself. It’s a very powerful scene!

Les Miserables the movie: Samantha Barks as Eponine and Eddie Redmayne as Marius in one of the two moments in the two and a half hour movie that made me cry. Here’s Marius (Redmayne) holding a dying Eponine (Barks) after she took a bullet for him. Poor girl. He’s not shabby to look at though so I’m sure she’s not too sad.

image This is my take on Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. This is the largest hoop of the entire Les Mis song collection at 7″ (which makes it difficult for me to store it with the others!). But the title is so freaking long that it mandated a larger hoop to house all of those running stitches.

And for comic relief:

 Oh, so mean! I really have nothing against Jonas, it’s just that he should have never, ever been offered the role of Marius. Pinterest is flooded with little nasties like this in reference to Jonas’ performance as Marius. I guess you can’t have it all.


Les Felties: Cosette

image And we come to Cosette. I highly doubt that she’s anyone’s favorite character in Les Mis, but she’s not evil or vindictive; she’s just sort of blah. Has a sad childhood, saved by a rich man, falls in love with Marius upon first glance, etc. etc. I actually did not mind this character until about the second time that I watched Les Mis the movie and became super annoyed with Amanda Seyfried’s portrayal of Cosette. Now let me preface my my critique of Ms. Seyfried’s performance with this statement: I have no musical ability whatsoever! I played piano for 3 years when I was a kid but aside from that, I have no further musical history therefor the following statement is purely based on personal preference. She sounds like she’s singing in the highest key she possibly can while running out of breath, and shaking uncontrollably while doing so . I understand vibrato, but hers is a little extreme. That is purely my opinion, I don’t buy her as Cosette (loved her as Karen in Mean Girls though!).

Katie Hall (Cosette) and Gareth Gates (Marius) #theatre #lesmis #musicals www.lesmis.com I much prefer Katie Hall as Cosette, she might not be the beauty that Seyfried is, but the chick has chops! Listen and compare the difference:

That is how A Heart Full of Love should sound (sans the whole Nick Jonas vocals)! Note that Katie Hall does not start singing in this song until 1:49; prior to that the female voice you are hearing is Samantha Barks’ (Eponine). I would have also loved to see what a young Kristin Chenoweth might have done with this role; killed it I’m sure!

image And this is how A Heart Full of Love should be stitched: with a little felt heart bursting with fly stitch love! This is not a sad, broken heart but rather a heart so full that it is exploding with love! While Les Mis does have an awful lot of doom and gloom, the story of Cosette and Marius is at least one that ends in happiness.

image And now you have been properly introduced to Cosette, we’ll meet her beau tomorrow!

Les Felties: Javert

image Oh Javert, all law, no grace; no heart, no forgiveness! While he is a stiff and an extreme source of turmoil and torment for our main character in the book/musical/film, he is rather cute in this 7″ hoop. Before we discuss him further (and if you’re not familiar with the character), let’s listen to this clip of Stars…

The fact that I can find videos like this on Youtube proves that I am hardly the only Les Mis obsessed person out there. This must have taken some time to make as well as knowledge of who the best/worst actors to have played Javert were/are. So, who was your favorite? If your answer is Russell Crowe, then you’re wrong (he puts no emotion into his performance). I will accept either Philip Quast (the other white guy) or Norm Lewis (the black guy) as the correct answer. While I love both, Norm Lewis wins this for me. He is amazing! And I know that I Dreamed a Dream is suppose to be everyone’s favorite song from this musical, but truth be told, my favorite is Stars. 

image And this, of course, is my artful depiction of Stars. I actually did lip sync this song (to the Norm Lewis version) on my birthday and I’m pretty sure that my sisters would tell you that this tiny hoop is much prettier that my actual Stars performance (but equally entertaining, I’m sure).

image So what do you think? He’s kind of hard to dislike when he’s only about 6″ tall and composed of felt and French knots with one tiny stitch as a smirk. Don’t tell anyone else, but I rather like him.

Les Felties: Eponine

image At long last, I am ready to reveal my first musical collection! I have had so much fun creating this line and hope you enjoy it as much as I do. We will start our introduction to the Les Mis felties with sweet, sad, love-struck Eponine. She is my favorite character; I think that this is largely in part to the fact that both Lea Salonga and Samantha Barks have played Eponine on the stage (and film) flawlessly. Do yourself a favor, watch both clips below and judge for yourself who played the better Eponine. (There is no wrong answer here!). While I love, love, love Lea (and have met her twice), I am inclined to say that I prefer Samantha a tad more when it comes to the Eponine role. Eponine’s two highlighted songs are On My Own and A Little Fall of Rain; I spared you and am sharing the Lea Salonga/Michael Ball version of the later as the only Youtube clip of Samantha I could find was with Nick Jonas and I do not want your ears to start bleeding! Now have a listen.

Who did you prefer? Tough choice, right?

Lea Salonga as Eponine  Eponine. Lea Salonga is "the best", however I more closely relate to and favor miss Samantha Barks. My favorite Eponine. #lesmis image As you can see, my little felt Eponine’s garmet choice mirrors the stage (not the film) costume. I would have loved to make her a tiny felt trench coat, but that didn’t happen, perhaps for the next go around. For now our little Eponine is housed in a 7″ wood hoop wearing a hat, bodice, belt, skirt, and a frown as she, of course, is mulling over the fact that she will never have her beloved Marius. Oh, so tragic! At least she is gifted a glimpse of happiness as she dies in the arms of her beloved while singing A Little Fall of Rain. 

image This was actually the starting point for my Les Mis collection; I made this one way back in November. I used around 8 different shades of blue and grey and many, many running stitches to create my “rainfall” effect. Do you like? This 7″ hoop is felt on felt and I love the feel!

image And that, my fine folks, is our tribute to Eponine. Don’t feel too sad for her, it is a fictional story after all…

Do You Hear the People Sing?

I’ve already confessed to having a severe case of Les Misérables obsession. It began about two years ago while watching the 25th anniversary concert that aired on KPBS. At that point I was already a fan of musical theatre, but had never seen Les Mis. Up until that day I was pretty obsessed with Wicked, which I still love just not as much as Les Mis.

Once I saw it for the first time I was hooked! I began listening to the Les Misérables station on Pandora nonstop, while at work, and in a matter of about 2 weeks I had memorized every lyric to every song. I then began falling in love with each of the actors (minus a few) who performed in the concert. I especially loved Alfie Boe (who played Jean Valjean), Lea Salonga (Fantine), Ramin Karimloo (Enjorlas), and Samantha Barks (Eponine). Nick Jonas played Marius and he was terrible, definitely the worst cast member!


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Then it took an even greater turn for the worse and I started cyber stalking checking their official websites to see when they , the touring company, might be performing in Southern California. I lucked out! The touring company came to San Diego in September 2012 so Husband and I went to see it and loved it! Yes, both of us loved it. Most people think that I drag him kicking and screaming to the theatre, but he genuinely likes it. And if you asked him, he’d say that Les Mis is definitely his favorite.

Then just a few short weeks later Mr. Alfie Boe (Valjean) himself came to San Diego as part of his first ever US Tour. Score! I was beyond excited for the concert and had I known just how great it was going to be, I would not have been able to sleep the night before. Long story short, best concert of my life. I was called on stage (with a few others). He put his arm around me as we sang a song. It was awesome, plain and simple. No concert will ever top this.

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Then just 6 short days later I was able to see Lea Salonga (Fantine) perform in a new Broadway-bound musical called Allegiance. It is an absolute must-see! From the moment that Lea stepped on stage I was mesmerized; wide-eyed and smiling from ear to ear. Her voice is flawless. Even if you don’t know her by name, you’re familiar with her voice as she is the singing voice of both Princess Jasmine and Mulan. We waited by the stage door after the performance and I got to meet her! I even stitched a little something which we used as a prop. I will cherish this photo until the day I die!

securedownload DSC05078 (2) If you can’t read the stitching, it says “It’s frickin Lea Salonga”. She cracked up! (Note: I have yet to meet Ramin Karimloo or Samantha Barks, but you can be assured that they are on my bucket list).

Are you beginning to see how this mad obsession with Les Mis came about? It only grew further once Les Miserables the movie opened on Christmas Day 2012. Since then I have seen it four times! Crazy, I know. And of course, I bought the soundtrack and listen to it repeatedly in my car whenever I’m driving. I can only imagine you sitting there shaking your head as you’re reading this, thinking something along the lines of: this chick has a problem. And you’re right, no denying of that here. But it is what it is for now. So the whole reason for this extended explanation is not for me to wave my freak flag wildly, but rather to entice you for next week’s collection reveal. Any idea of what it might be?