23 June 2017

Adventures in Low-Carb Baking

Guess what I got in the mail this afternoon? A big box of Carbquik baking mix that I ordered from Amazon. Think "Bisquick" but low-carb. I decided to try it for the same reason I wandered into the world of tiny baking: we're in our 40's, we need to manage/maintain our weights... but I love to bake. Tiny baking has been a wonderful success, but the goodies still have a gazillion carbs, so they must remain an occasional treat. I wondered if Carbquik would be a solution for more frequent--if less decadent--baking, like biscuits.  Supposedly, it can be used cup-for-cup like Bisquick, with adjustments of liquid to account for it being a drier product. I went in search of a Bisquick recipe to experiment with, preferably one with only a few ingredients, to limit waste just in case it was a disaster. 

It was anything but a disaster.

Behold! Chocolate Chip Biscuits!

These little biscuits are very light, slightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and very slightly sweet. Here's my adaptation:

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

2 1/4 c. Carbquik baking mix
1 Tbsp. granular Splenda (optional)
1 c. milk
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix Carbquik and Splenda; add milk and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on cooling rack. 

I used a small, level cookie scoop and got 24 little biscuits.

The original recipe using Bisquick is here.

So, I've only made one recipe using Carbquik, but I have to say I'm delighted with how these turned out. Hopefully future experiments will be just as successful. 

20 June 2017

I'm back! With finishes!

I'm back! Thank you for all the inquiries as to my whereabouts and welfare! It's nice to be missed! Things went a bit sideways around here a couple of weeks ago, and my unsupervised stitching marathon week didn't go as hoped or planned, but I'm getting back on track. If you've emailed me and haven't had a reply, I am working through my emails and will get to you soon. 

I do have a couple of Texas basket finishes to show! This one is Bluebonnet Blooms by Redbird Designs on mystery linen. This design is still in print, as far as I know. I stitched the stem in the medium green (instead of brown) and brightened up the red a bit.

And this is the Alamo, from The 12 Days of a Texas Christmas by Redbird Designs, also still in print, as far as I know. I made a couple of slight alterations. The design calls for Weeks Terra Cotta, but my skein was a vivid orange, so I substituted GAST Woodrose for a more faded look. The fabric is "Muffin" but that's all I know about it. It's from a big box of stash my dad scored at the flea market and my mom gave to me. (Yay, dad!)

I also left off the evergreen Christmas-y bit in the top right corner, and the word "Texas" running along the bottom.

For more info about Redbird Designs, click on the Redbird Designs Catalog label in the right sidebar.

10 June 2017

Saturday Sampler: Stash Update Edition

Thank you all so much for all the kind comments about my Sleeping Fox finish! After I finished him, I had a slow stitching week, but a very busy mail week. Let's see what arrived!

Abbie Jean in Iowa sent me some beautiful threads...

...and some handmade lovelies! A grime guard, or as I call them, a "Q-snap cozy", and a sweet little needle book. Aren't these wonderful? Thank you so much, Abbie Jean!

I got this little gal from the Missouri Star Quilt Co.

My fabric hoarding continues apace with some Babbling Brook and Moss Green Jobelan. Isn't that a smashing blue?

And these and a few other charms arrived from Two Purple Pandas. Y'all know what these are for.

Made a quick trip to my LNS. I've been resisting LHN's Early Americans series, but when I saw Martha at Mt. Vernon, I caved. So now I'm all caught up. Because another series is exactly what I need.

Not stashy, but foxy! Found this little treat among the new fall goodies at Hobby Lobby. 

And for the past day or so, I've been back at my Texas basket stitching. BIG NEWS on that front: Tiger Lily and I will be unsupervised again next week! Mr. Wonderful will be away, and y'all know what happens when we're left to ourselves: stitching marathon, finishing frenzy, tiny baking... 

Because I have my priorities in order, I decided not to use the time to clean out my closet. Instead, I've decided to see just how much stitching I can pack into five or six days. I'm having a fit to get my Texas basket finished, and I've got about five more smalls I'd like to get stitched up for it before it's ready to display. We'll see how it goes. Come back next week and see how we're doing!

Bonus Tiger Lily!

05 June 2017

Sleeping Fox is finished!

This little guy was weighing on my conscience so I decided to finish him up before I got completely engulfed in my Texas Basket project. Here he is, all done! 

Sleeping Fox by Leaf Blown Designs (Etsy), stitched on 28 ct. Bittersweet Lite hand dyed Jobelan with DMC.

And now, a flurry of Texas stitching!

30 May 2017

Further Adventures in Tiny Baking

Over the long holiday weekend, I did a little more tiny baking. If you're new to this concept, see this post or just click on the "food" label. Both of these recipes are from the sadly out-of-print magazine "Baking for Two" that America's Test Kitchen issued last year. Full-sized versions of both these recipes are available to members on their website.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake in a 5" x 7" baking dish (fork is to show scale... also useful for eating)

Cream Cheese Pound Cake in a 3" x 5" loaf pan

Aren't they adorable? Look at that tiny slice of pound cake! 

24 May 2017

Summer Reading: Reviving a Tradition

I am a voracious reader. I read every night before I go to sleep, first my Bible, then whatever book I'm devouring. For a long time, I had an annual tradition: at the beginning of every summer, I placed an order with Dover Publications. I read year round, but for some reason, that box of books that arrived in time for summer was special. In recent years, I've let my tradition lapse, but this year I decided to revive it. My box of books arrived last week. I now have a little basket of new books right beside my bed, ready and waiting for summer reading. I suppose it's possible that at some point in the future, I'll get something like a Kindle, but honestly? I can't see myself doing it. I love books, not just reading. I loved seeing my box of books on the doorstep. I loved finding a basket for them, so they could neatly wait for me. I love looking at that basket, and wondering if there's a treasure in there that I'll read over and over. I love my bookshelf, books arranged by color and ranging from Viking history to archaeology to vintage cookery to mysteries.

I must admit that I'm a bit of an odd duck when it comes to reading. I don't read modern fiction. I prefer my books to be older than I am (I'm 45), and the older the better. This is why Dover is my favorite place to shop (also, very good prices). I've also recently discovered a book warehouse in our area that stocks new editions of old books, including a lot of Golden Age mysteries, for $4-5 each.  In my summer basket, the most recent book was first published in 1962, the oldest in 1778, with most of the rest falling between the early 1800's and the 1940's. Delicious. The usage of the language is almost as much of a pleasure as the stories themselves. And there's a marked absence of the coarseness that characterizes much modern fiction. 

Here are a few favorites from summer book boxes of years past (all from Dover). This 1917 cookbook/novel is absolutely charming. I confess I have a weakness for vintage cookbooks, and I've been known to read them like novels, but this one actually has a story woven into it--or should I say, there are recipes woven into a tale about a new bride's first year of marriage. It's a fascinating time capsule.

The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896): set in Maine; a bit melancholy, but so beautifully written and engaging that I forgave it for making me cry (only book that's ever made me cry). 
Cranford (1851): adorable, funny, charming, poignant. 

Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, and this is his 1923 account of his discovery. Absolutely fascinating. Reminds me I need to read this again. I think I'll pop it into the summer book basket.

I'm a history nerd, so I love old travel journals. This one, published in 1785, is like being transported back to the 1770's and traveling with Johnson and Boswell. And of course, there's Johnson's writing. 

If you've never treated yourself to a little stack of new books, give it a go. It's like sending your mind on summer vacation, and who couldn't use that?

20 May 2017

Saturday Sampler: Late Spring Edition

It's been too long since we've had a Saturday Sampler. Let's look around and see what we can find.

First, a very special finish. This little Texas sampler was designed especially for my Texas basket by Holly DeVivo of Misty Hill Studio. It depicts some of the state symbols of Texas: the guitar, the jalapeño pepper, the Ruby Red grapefruit, and the Monarch butterfly. Check out this cool website to see what your state symbols are. Thank you, Holly!

And speaking of my Texas basket, more stash!

Gorgeous Texas wildflower fabric to be used for backing my finishes. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Primrose, Mexican Hat...

Here's what's blooming around here. This is Scotch Broom that I planted the first year we lived in this house. Seven years later, it's huge. I didn't know they got this large when I planted it by the sidewalk! 



A beautiful, soft, late spring evening...

Have a lovely weekend, y'all, and happy stitching!

17 May 2017

We need to talk about The Russians.

"The Russians" is what I call my ever-growing hoard of Russian kits. I've never been crazy about kits, partly because the designs usually don't appeal to me, but mostly because I'm always changing fabric and thread colors and it just didn't make sense for me to buy them. I would occasionally buy one if the design really grabbed me, but it wasn't often. However, several years ago, some Russian needlework companies started popping up with US distributors, mainly Riolis and RTO, and more recently, Panna. It was the beginning of the end of my resistance to kits.

So far, I've managed to contain my madness to two main subjects: foxes (!) and Russian themes. I spent all of my college years studying Russia, Russian, and Russians, so I have a weakness for Russian themes. My hoard is growing. Now, I haven't actually stitched any of these kits yet, mind you, but I do have a plan for that. I always have a plan. But first, let's pull out all of The Russians and see what I have!

Lurking in a big box, under the sewing room chair...

First, the foxes. Riolis:



And not Russian, but I'm throwing it in anyway. This is by Luca-S, from Moldova, and I absolutely love it so much I can't stand it.

And in the general Russian themes category, we have these. The street scene reminds me of Sherlock Holmes.

The matryoshka on the left is one of a set of four (this one is winter). I love the Russian domestic scene on the right. It's such an unusual subject for a design; I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.


Russian woman in beautiful traditional dress.

And the jewel of my collection. It doesn't get any more Russian than this: a winter wolf hunt with Borzoi. 

This was a total heart-over-head purchase. It was ridiculously expensive (even on sale), and it's huge, but I was a goner the minute I saw it. We all love everything in our stash, and we intend to stitch everything we buy, but there are those rare projects that if you die without having stitched it, you've cheated yourself. This is one of those projects. 

So, about that plan. Since my stitching plan for this year is a smoking ruin, beyond rescue, and since I've wandered off in a completely unexpected direction and have taken on creating a Texas basket, I decided to look ahead to next year. I'm considering having a "Russian year" in 2018. Wouldn't that be cool?

09 May 2017

Redbird Designs Catalog: General

After receiving a lot of questions about Redbird Designs, I decided to put together a photo catalog of the designs as a reference for stitchers who are looking for them. Since my collection is far from complete, I'm being graciously assisted in this project by several stitchers who are sharing photographs of their Redbird Designs stash. 

As far as I know, the two shops that carry these designs are Stitches From the Heart in San Antonio, Texas, and 3 Stitches in Spring, Texas.

As far as I know, these designs are still in print.

I'll be updating this post as I receive photographs.

Bluebonnet Blooms, 2011

All Around Texas, 2012
Texas Rider, 2012

Texas Wildflower Fields, 2012

Gathering Bluebonnets, 2013
My Texas Shaker Sewing Box, 2013

Texas Market Bags, 2014

Bluebonnet Needlebook, 2016

Texas Impressions, 2017

Texas Bluebonnet Country (2011; photo courtesy of Joyce)

Banadana Blues (2012; photo courtesy of Joyce)

Texas Signs of Spring 1 (2015; photo courtesy of Joyce)

Texas Signs of Spring 2 (2015; photo courtesy of Joyce)

Texas Boots (2017; photo courtesy of Joyce)

A Texas Valentine (photo courtesy of Linda)

Texas Friends (photo courtesy of Linda)

Houston is Super in 2017 (photo courtesy of Linda)

Redbird's Spring Pinkeep (2014; photo courtesy of Kerry)

Deep in the Heart of Texas (2015; photo courtesy of Joyce)