10 August 2019

Important: A Recipe and a Seasonal Update


I've been tinkering with this recipe for a while. This is the third time I've made it and I think I'm finally happy with it. If you've been visiting for a while, you know I love small-batch baking, or tiny baking, as I like to call it, and that I like to experiment with a low-carb baking mix called Carbquik. (If you need to catch up, just click on the labels at the bottom of this post.) This is a Bisquick recipe that I adapted to be much smaller and much lower in carbs. I don't remember now what it's actually called, but I'm calling it...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

1 1/4 c. Carbquik (available on Amazon)
3/4 c. Splenda
1 egg
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste (I get this from King Arthur flour; you can use vanilla extract)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (I use regular; you can use sugar-free)

Stir everything together, spread in a greased and floured 5 x 7 baking dish, and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

This little Pyrex dish is the perfect size for just the two of us. We get six servings out of it, or one piece for each of us for three days. So whether what I've baked is low-carb or not, it's gone in one weekend. No leftover temptation!

A few notes about Carbquik, if you decide to try it. 
*You can use it in any recipe that calls for Bisquick. I've made all kinds of stuff with it, mostly successes, but a few duds, but that's to be expected.

*It browns faster than Bisquick, so just be aware (especially with something like oven-fried chicken).

*It's very dry. You'll almost always have to add extra liquid, but that's easy. Don't just splash in liquid, though. I stir up a recipe as written, then if it's too dry, add measured small amounts of liquid until it looks/feels right. That way, if the finished product is to my liking, I know exactly how much extra liquid it needs.

*It does have it's own flavor, and you can tell when you're eating it. If you keep to a low-carb diet, you'll know that you have to make sacrifices when it comes to baked goodies and you're probably willing to put up with that, but you can mask it pretty well by being generous with seasonings/flavorings. In my baking, I've found if I max out the vanilla I'm happier with the results. And really, it's hard to get too much vanilla. Don't be afraid to double it.

*It's expensive. Again, if you eat low-carb and miss baked goods, it's worth it. Two things: I halve almost every baking recipe I use, since it's just the two of us. So that makes the box last a lot longer than it would otherwise. Also, the price on Amazon fluctuates somewhat. If you're thinking of trying it, keep an eye on it for a while and catch it when it drops.

Seasonal Update:

Tiger Lily has a seasonal migration route of sleeping places that she faithfully follows every year. 
Winter: baskets, donut
Spring/summer: the bed, the floor, the couch
Fall: her beds, donut

I must report that this past Wednesday, she took to one of her beds for the first time since last winter. She does this, like clockwork, every year in late summer. It's always my first visual reminder that fall is coming, even if it will be warm for weeks yet. I love it. I love that animals know things that we are too busy or too removed from the natural world to know anymore. It always gives me a little surge of happiness to see this first sign that fall is coming, and I thought I'd share it with y'all.

07 August 2019

Anyone for pie?


I've already begun work on my 6th annual Christmas Open House projects and am close to my first finish, but I can't show you that because no peeking 'til Christmas. Instead, have a look at this delightful Autumn Sampler I found on Etsy. I've been up to my ears in Christmas stitching and I was in the mood for something fall-ish, and I stumbled across this little gem while browsing autumn patterns. Isn't it wonderful?

I'm stitching it on 28 count hand-dyed Cornflower Blue evenweave from Wichelt. Only a few of the blocks are fully stitched, and I wanted a fabric that looked like a gorgeous autumn sky peeking through the rest. 

It's been challenging since we got here, and my hoped-for summer of stitching and relaxing hasn't materialized, but I keep hoping! 

22 July 2019

Little Things

"It is by studying little things that we attain the great art
 of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible."

~Samuel Johnson







11 July 2019

Does this face look familiar?

When it's bedtime, but Mom is still stitching.

Happy Stitching!

10 July 2019

Explorin'

I finally got a chance to go exploring all by myself. This wasn't the kind of looking around you do in a new place when you're trying to find all the things you need. This was the kind of looking around you do in a new place when you're trying to find New Happy Places. This was "explorin'." I'm happy to report the expedition was a success, and I returned with spoils.

Hobby Lobby never disappoints. I found this pretty paperboard box that I'm now using to hold floss for several summer projects at a time.


I found a quilt shop, and I was absolutely thrilled to discover they carry Cosmo embroidery thread! I have never, ever been able to walk into a shop and buy Cosmo, and now I can. Their variegated threads are just beautiful. I restrained myself and only chose a few fall colors, but I intend to build my Cosmo stash as quickly as possible!

I also found a local craft store that's sort of a cross between a big box craft store, an old Ben Franklin's (remember those?), and a dollar store. I wasn't sure it was my kinda place at first, but then I found the fat quarters. Oh my. Oodles and oodles and oodles of lovely fat quarters. I brought home a few. 



I was delighted with my finds. I've now got my route figured out, and can do a "craft crawl" in a nice, efficient loop that also includes my new LNS. There are also corn dogs on my route, so it's pretty awesome. I think I need to do this about once a month. For mental health purposes.

Maybe sometimes twice a month. Depending on how things are going...

06 July 2019

Saturday Sampler: Christmas Ornament SAL Edition

I'm all caught up! Wooooooo! Good job, me! 

So, by way of review: In January, with a move halfway across the country only three months away, I did what any other reasonable stitcher would do, and... 

...joined a SAL.

Yes, I did.

I was on track from January through March (click the Ornament SAL label to see my finishes), but predictably, I derailed in April when we moved. But I'm all caught up and I'm so happy! One more thing: these ornaments are for a Christmas tree that will be in my pink/green sewing room, so that's why they're not in traditional Christmas colors. 

MAY, from the 2001 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue

Fabric: 28 ct. white opalescent linen
Threads: DMC Perle Cotton #8 Blanc, Kreinik braid #4 and #8 Aspen Green 089
Embellishments: Mill Hill beads #00479, Mill Hill Glass Treasure #12052


JUNE, from the 2018 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue

Fabric: 28 ct. Valor (PTP)
Threads: GAST Bayberry, DMC Blanc, Kreinik Braid #8 Aspen Green 089


JULY, from the 2006 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue

Fabric: 30 ct. 18th Century Stone (R&R)
Threads: DMC 315, 316, 778, 3051, 3052, 3726; DMC Perle Cotton #8 Blanc, Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid #60
Embellishments: Mill Hill beads #3005

*****
Off to decide what to start next! Happy Stitching!


26 June 2019

Christmas Ornament SAL April Finish (and other stuff)

Settle in... I got stuff.

I finally have a finish to show! Cookies for everyone! This is my April choice for the Christmas Ornament SAL, from the 2002 issue of Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments. (Click the badge in the right sidebar to check out the SAL, or the label at the end of this post to see my other finishes for this SAL.)

Doing the fringe on her scarf was fun. I just winged it, but I like how it turned out.

As you can see, I did a color conversion from green to a rosey pink. She's stitched with DMC in 3687, 3688, and 3803. Her scarf is DMC Coloris 4504, and I gave her white skates instead of black. I don't have the backing on her yet but I was getting a little desperate to show a finish!

I've had a couple of questions about the Rosemary fabric I showed in my last post, specifically, what shade of DMC it is closest to. Here it is with 523...

...and with 524...

...and with both. Unfortunately, this is one of those fabrics that is nearly impossible to photograph accurately (at least for me). I've found that some fabrics just don't show true in photographs; I have no idea why. Anyway, it is a grey-green, but more green than these photos show. I'd say it's smack in the middle of 523 and 524: not quite as green as 523, but not quite as grey as 524. Now check out the very next photo after this one...


Do you see that the Rosemary is slightly more green in this picture than in the one immediately above it? This is as close as I can get to its true color. Here's a tip: if you're having trouble getting a fabric or thread to photograph true, sometimes it helps to throw in other colors to give the camera more to work with in interpreting color. And now you're all wondering about that gorgeous lavender-blue fabric!

I picked this up at my LNS a few weeks ago. It's 28 ct. linen by a new-to-me and relatively new fabric dyer called Colour & Cotton. This is Pixie. Don't know what I'll do with it, but it's such a lovely color, and I'm not usually a fan of blue fabric.

I also just got some more Russian stash. Is this not the cutest bat you have ever seen in your life? (By the way, speaking of photographing fabric, the background fabric in this photo is the same as in the photo above. *shrugs helplessly*) I was smitten with that little face, and that little bowtie. Too, too adorable.

And some wee Russian dollies. Both of these kits are from this Etsy shop. From shipping to delivery was about two weeks, much faster than I expected.

Also from another Etsy shop, this beautiful fox mandala. I want to start this yesterday. I stitched a color block fox design a few years ago (picture in the right sidebar) and it was such a fun, relaxing stitch. This is a bit more detailed, but the same general idea: simple, well-defined sections of color. Very enjoyable to stitch.

And finally, very important news: I have a new friend. This is Mr. Bun. He visits our flower bed on warm days and rests in the cool dirt. He's a very relaxed bun, and doesn't seem to mind our comings and goings at all. There are bunnies everywhere here. But this one is ours.

So that's all the newsy stuff. Otherwise, it has been weird. Or more accurately, I have been weird. I was killing myself to pull this house together as quickly as possible after the move, and dreaming of the day when I could call it done (the move, the house, everything) and just plop down in my sewing room and stitch the summer away. But when I got to that point, I... couldn't? Couldn't stop. I would sit down in my sewing room, stare for a few minutes, then get up and go find something to do. I couldn't settle to anything. Mr. Wonderful says I have to slow down before I can stop, and I guess that's been the problem: full power to full stop. It didn't work. Kinda like stopping a battleship. It takes a while.

But I think I'm finally getting there. I've been puttering around in my sewing room a bit more, and in recent days have been bitten by the fall/Halloween stitching bug, which is strange. I love to stitch fall, but don't stitch much Halloween, so I don't know where that came from, but I'm going with it. I'm not a fan of the modern, adult-oriented Halloween, with all the body parts and gore and other stuff. I call my Halloween taste "spooky cute" (thus, that precious little bat I showed above). So I pulled a few things from my stash that I may incorporate into my summer stitching. We'll see.

And now, even while basking in the triumph of finishing a tiny ornament two months late, it's time to decide what to stitch next. I need to catch up on the Christmas Ornament SAL, but I'm feeling a little rebellious, so who knows? Stay tuned!

06 June 2019

Stash Update and Summer Plans

Happy summer, y'all! Stumbled across a couple of sales and found some great goodies!

Top to bottom: R&R Iced Cappuccino, Rosemary (don't know the manufacturer), and Wichelt's Natural Brown Undyed, which is my go-to neutral. I was thrilled to find a scrap of the Rosemary. It's one of my very favorite greens (slightly obsessed with green fabric, for my new readers) and naturally it's been discontinued for years. Every once in a great while, somebody digs out a scrap from their stash and puts it up for sale, and I snap it up. It's like Christmas. It's a bit more green than this picture.

With Thy Needle and Thread goodies from the sale...


Plum Street Samplers Christmas Tea on sale. I considered buying this and stitching it up for my Christmas Open House last year (click on the Open House 2018 tab at the top of the page for tea madness!) but I was too pressed for time. 

The longhorn pin pillow is for my Texas smalls collection that you can see in my last post. The alphabet sampler is destined for a color conversion. I've never done an alphabet sampler but something about this one struck me. I just like it. So now it lives here.

And speaking of things I've never stitched before, this is my first Long Dog Samplers design. If you're a regular reader, you'll know this is gonna be in color! Prepare for a story: We have our library downstairs in this new house, and there's a wall that desperately needs needlework on it. I've got two pieces chosen for it, but I needed a third. The other two pieces are Twelve Days of Christmas and Antique Beasts and Birds. Both are my own color conversions I stitched on the Natural Brown Undyed linen I mentioned above, with Caron Wildflowers. I thought it would be cool to do a third piece on the same fabric, using the same threads, so I went looking for a design and found this one. I have a color scheme in mind, but y'all know what it's like trying to get the right colors online without being able to see them in person. It may take me a while to get what I want, but I hope to start on it this summer.

So in addition to (hopefully) starting Carrelage, catching up on the Christmas Ornament SAL, working on my Christmas Open House 2019 (!!!), finishing, and framing, I'm thinking of doing some vintage cooking and sharing the results. I've got a treasured collection of vintage cookbooks dating back to 1879 that I love to read like most people read a novel. The other day, I was pondering what kind of mischief I could get into this summer, and it occurred to me that I read these cookbooks as history books but have never tried any of the recipes. Then I thought, "Hey! That would be kinda fun for the ol' blog!" Some recipes adapt well to modern methods and ingredients, and some don't, so I'll have to choose carefully, but I think it would be neat to try a few and share them here.

As if all that wasn't enough, I also have my eye on a set of felt Christmas ornaments that I might make for my (pink!) sewing room Christmas tree. But we'll see. There's a saying in the military that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, which is 1,000% true. All of my lovely summer plans may be derailed by who-knows-what, but at least for now, I'm enjoying being able to make plans that don't involve moving. 

I hope y'all have a nice summer planned, and don't forget, you're warmly invited to drop in any time and see what I'm up to. Fingers crossed, I'll have a lot to share.

24 May 2019

Summer Dollhouse






I had to skip displaying my spring dollhouse because of moving preparations, so I was anxious to get my summer dollhouse up as soon as possible, if a tiny bit early. These are all my little Texas finishes (if you remember the Texas basket I did a couple of years ago). If you'd like to see my other seasonal dollhouses, just click on the label at the end of this post.

21 May 2019

Remaking a Home






I am aaalmost there, y'all. The house is pretty well put together, so I was able to start on my sewing room yesterday, and hope to finish it today. It's quite a bit smaller than my previous sewing room, so I've encountered some challenges, but I also have some ideas! 

We got our shipment on 18 April and I set a goal for myself to have the house finished by the end of May. I think I'm actually going to make it. There may be a few odds and ends left, but all the major stuff will be done. 

I have a big summer planned, in which I do...

NOTHING.

I have been in moving mode--planning, prepping, moving, unpacking--since December and I am done. Done, done, done. I want to spend the next three months playing in my sewing room, stitching, finishing, framing, and just generally enjoying not having moving hanging over my head.  If nothing comes up and I actually get to do all that, I'll have lots of stuff to share here on the ol' blog, so stick around. 

It's going to be a nice, quiet, slooow summer.