I love samplers. I especially love early American samplers, and find a lot of inspiration in the projects from 18th and 19th century New England.
One aspect I've always really liked was the way people were stitched. Of course they have a very primitive look, but I appreciate that the proportions and colors are hardly close to perfect. It makes them unique and personal, and gives insight into the stitcher.
The Scarlet Letter has some great examples:
Since I've had an empty block I've been meaning to fill at the start of my cloth, I wanted to try a semi-self portrait with a similar feel. As I suspected, the similarities pretty much end at my hair and eye color, but I dig it.
Aside from cross stitch, I used satin stitch, back stitch, and tent stitch which continues to be a nightmare on 45ct.