26 May 2020

Time for Tea Update

May block is finished!

Info on this design in this post.

21 May 2020

May Flowers

My favorite flower, Tiger Lily.

11 May 2020

Prescription: Chocolate

It has been a week, y'all. Mr. Wonderful messed up his back getting off a plane last week. If you've ever taken care of someone who can't move you know what my week has been like. He's finally better and able to get around by himself, slowly. No stitching at all from me, but today was a baking day, because today had to be a baking day, if you know what I mean. I tried two new recipes and am happy to report two successful bakes! 

The first one I made is Impossibly Easy Brownie Pie. This is a low-carb chocolate pie. The batter whips up almost like a mousse and it puffs beautifully in the oven. As it cools, it settles to a thin pie with a very smooth texture. It reminds me a little of my Grandmother's old fudge pie recipe. A few notes on how I baked mine:
*I am not super strict about carbs, so I use regular chocolate chips in my lower carb baking, but you could use 1/2 c. sugar-free chips.
*I omitted the optional molasses.
*I omitted the walnuts (didn't have any).
*I baked mine 20 minutes and it was perfect.

This one I made for Mr. Wonderful, who tries to watch his carbs more closely than I watch mine (at least right now)...

...and this one I made for ME. It is most definitely not low-carb or lower carb or whatever, but it is small. And it's lovely.

This is a Chocolate Snack Cake and what a nice little recipe it is. I made it according to the recipe but I would add one note: make sure to cool the melted butter mixture before adding the eggs. Mine took 30 minutes and turned out deliciously moist. I wanted to taste it as-is before fiddling with the recipe, and I'm glad I left it alone because it's very good plain. However, you could add a little cinnamon or espresso powder or chocolate chips. Or you could frost it. It's just a very versatile, very quick, very easy little cake recipe. A keeper.

That's my public service for the day... testing chocolate recipes and passing along the good ones. Somebody's gotta do it. 

06 May 2020

Spring Stash Update

The cherry tree in our front yard is doing its thing and smells heavenly. We have been having some ridiculously gorgeous weather and it's making me want to get out and do something about my front flowerbeds... provided Mr. Bun is off doing bunny things and not in his spot. Wouldn't want to disturb him. 

I lost my head and went on a bit of a spree at about the six week point in our voluntary lockdown. Among other things, I did some stash enhancement. I have been wanting to try Cosmo's metallic embroidery floss for some time, so I finally got a few skeins from one of my favorite Etsy shops for stitchy goodies. I haven't stitched with it yet, but it is gorgeous and has a lovely texture. The weight is between Kreinik #4 and #8 braid: just a wee bit heavier than #4, but not as heavy as #8. I also got a small piece of the newish Zweigart 32 ct. pink Basalt Splash fabric. It's a very pale (not rosy) pink, pretty close to DMC 225. I stitched Winter Train on the dark grey Basalt Splash and just loved it, but I hadn't seen the pink. 

From the same shop as the thread and fabric, a new pair of scissors. I couldn't pass up this soft, fresh green.

And from various shops, some new charts. With Thy Needle & Thread: Project Quarantine: Stay Home & Stitch. For each purchase, the designer is making a donation to charities assisting those hard hit by the pandemic. 

JBW: Rabbits in the Round and With Thy Needle & Thread: Spring Serenade. Can't have enough buns in the springtime. 

A relatively new designer that is really growing on me. I fell in love with her big sampler release at this year's market (Huckleberry Farm) and I've had my eye on Sleeping Bee for a while. I also picked up Winter Valentine. 

So that's the stash that has recently come to live at my house. My spree also included a set of vintage cooking magazines that was such a bargain I practically stole it. When I finish looking at all of them I'll photograph them and do a blog post. Y'all will love it. They're wonderful.

I'm hoping to be able to get out soon and visit my favorite small businesses. Most are open and have been open to varying degrees throughout these last couple of months, but I have only been going out once a week for groceries. We have never been under a stay-at-home order here, and most businesses that could do so safely have remained open, but I know they're hurting.

Hope everyone is still safe and well and getting as much stitching done as needed. Don't forget to be good to yourself.

01 May 2020

Time for Tea Update

All caught up on my Time for Tea calendar! Here are the "March" and "April" blocks.

You can find info about this design in this post. As you can see, I'm stitching the Russian version, but it also comes with an English version. 

I thought about pushing ahead and getting the May block stitched, but I really need to get going on... Christmas Open House! Yes, you read that correctly! It's already time to start stitching for Open House. Spreading the projects out over the whole year allows me the freedom to stitch fall and other Christmas stuff in season, instead of frantically stitching Open House projects September to December, like I had to do last year because of our move. Yuk. So, I'm off to put the first stitches into my 7th annual Christmas Open House. 

Happy Stitching!

27 April 2020

If you have to wear a mask...

...you may as well be cute.

Slight detour from my spring stitching to whip out this adorable little freebie from Brooke Nolan. Stitched on yellow linen with DMC and sprinkled with sparkly butterflies and baby hearts from Jo Ann Fabrics. Because why not?

Happy Stitching! 

23 April 2020

Bees, Please!

I love this design. It just makes me smile, and that made it a must-stitch. We used to say this all the time when we were little! It's available in this Etsy shop and if I remember correctly, it's charted for DMC but I stitched mine with GAST Apple Cider, Brandy, and Soot on PTP Sand.

Speaking of bees, remember that very cute tiny bottle with the fox in it that I shared back in January? There's a link in that post to the shop where there are lots of other really neat bottles. I recently got this one:

There are a couple more on my list. Wouldn't a little collection of these finished individually and standing on a tiny shelf be too adorable for words? 

Happy Stitching!

20 April 2020

Spring and Summer Thoughts

A very springy finish to share! This is Just Nan's Flowering Crown stitched with the recommended threads (except one) on the recommended fabric, 32 ct. Angel Blush. I swapped out the GAST Pine for CC Weeping Willow for a softer look in the greens. This one has been on my to-do list for a long time and I'm glad to finally have it stitched.

At the end of my last post I mentioned being in the unusual frame of mind of looking forward to summer. I'm a fall/winter kinda girl--though spring is growing on me as I get older--and summer is at the bottom of my seasons list. Last December I hit upon my "Summer of Halloween" idea and I've been looking forward to it ever since. I haven't stitched much Halloween in the last few years, but when we moved we discovered that Halloween is a very big deal in our new neighborhood. We were swamped with hoards of adorable trick-or-treaters and it really was a fun evening. It made me want to get out my little pile of Halloween designs and just plunge in. So I decided to have a "Summer of Halloween" this year, and stitch all Halloween all summer. I have my charts in a little basket in my sewing room and every time I see them I feel a little surge of anticipation. 

Years ago, I wrote an essay about the aspects of stitching that I find most valuable for me: looking forward, planning, and work. I've been thinking about that essay for a few days. It's odd to re-read it now, in our current situation, but for me it still holds up. There is a real benefit from being able to think about something enjoyable, and plan for it, and then work on it, even when--perhaps especially when--other aspects of life are so challenging and feel so out of control. 

If you're feeling down, may I recommend getting into your stash and planning a "Summer of..." for yourself? It doesn't have to be Halloween. It can be any subject or theme or holiday you want. It doesn't even have to be that. It could be just that one project that you love but have never started. Make it your Summer of... Christmas. Or flowers. Or sheep. Or that Mirabilia you adore. Do that for yourself.

Indulging yourself with a "Summer of..." isn't going to fix all that's wrong right now. Neither is watching your favorite show, or going for a walk, or baking yourself a treat. It's not supposed to "fix" anything. Those things are there to soothe. They are there to comfort. They're there to get us through to the next day. The moments that seem too big or too serious to allow ourselves to sit down and rest our minds with some needlework are the moments we most need to do just that: allow a cherished hobby to get us a few hours further down the road. 

I'm not starting my Summer of Halloween until the beginning of June, so I'll be stitching spring til then. Or trying to, when I'm not distracted by all these cute freebies that keep appearing. When I finished Flowering Crown, I decided to take a quick detour to stitch one of them up. I was pulling my supplies, and thinking about a fabric color (something cheerful) and I thought, "Yellow. I haven't stitched on yellow in... ever?" So yellow it is!

Stay safe. Be good to yourselves. And happy stitching.

17 April 2020

What is this nonsense?

Y'all, it is nearly May. May. Our first winter on the Great Plains was rather underwhelming, which was a welcome change for the locals since last year was brutal. We had some intense cold, but very little snow. Until yesterday. I think we got 7 or 8 inches. Just look at this ridiculousness.

Anyway, I got Snowflakes and Scissors framed (link to freebie and stitching info in this post). Very appropriate for a lovely spring... snowstorm.

Meanwhile, here is a tiny bun:

I'm stitching spring, spring, spring right now and gradually working through the finishing/framing pile. Oddly enough (for me), I'm looking forward to summer. I'm not a summer person in any way; I look at it as the preparation period for the best season of all, autumn. But I think this year I'm looking forward to it because, psychologically if not practically, it stands for a turning point. This has been such a difficult spring, and while I don't think the challenges will be over by the summer, I hope and pray we will have returned to some level of normalcy. It won't be like the old normal, but perhaps it will be familiar enough to relieve some of the stress so many are feeling. We're all waiting for the same thing, a vaccine, but that will be a while. Having some normal activity and familiar routines will help with the wait. I'm also looking forward to the summer for another (stitchy) reason, and I'll have a post about that in a few days.

Hang in there, y'all, and Happy Stitching!

14 April 2020

One Month & A Dozen Posts Later...

One month ago, in this post, I decided to do my best to post more frequently, in hopes of making my tiny corner of the interwebs as cheerful as possible. It felt like we were in for a long haul of this staying-at-home business, and a month later, it looks like we've got a way to go yet. I always want to make sure this blog is a calm, happy place, and I especially wanted to be more present now during this extraordinary time of stress. I hope you're finding this a bright spot to stop for a minute during your day, because I am definitely enjoying sharing my days more often. Let's just keep going, shall we?

Today we have the four food groups of a stitching blog: a framed/finished piece, food, freebies, and a feline. What could be better? Up first, my finally framed Garden Sampler by Karen Kluba. I stitched this beauty a couple of years ago and I'm delighted to say it's still available! I used the recommended Valdani threads and stitched it on PTP Valor, my absolute favorite fabric color. I stumbled across the green wood frame on clearance a few years ago and squirreled it away and it happened to be perfect for this sampler.

I snuck a tiny fox into the garden!

I spent a while in the kitchen today, trying out a couple of new recipes: Cappuccino Cake Brownies and a tiny lemon pound cake. Happy to report they are both keepers!

Tiny Lemon Pound Cake (5 1/2" x 3" loaf pan)

Whisk together:
1/2 c. cake flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

In a separate bowl, whisk together:
1/3 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Gradually add flour mixture into wet ingredients; combine but don't overmix. Pour into greased and floured pan and bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. To glaze, combine sugar and lemon juice and microwave about a minute, stirring once, until sugar is completely dissolved. Using a toothpick, poke holes in the top and sides of cake and brush with warm glaze. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

I've been posting a lot of freebies lately, most of which are from designers participating in the "Be Well and Stitch" project. If you've missed any, just click on the "freebie" label at the end of this post and all of my posts containing freebie links will pop up. There are tons, and there are still a few trickling in. The latest entries that I'm aware of are:

Lila's Studio, an adorable bunny

Shepherd's Bush, a sweet sheepie 

Well, now. That was some pretty good stuff, wasn't it? New stash, new recipes, new freebies! And there's more to come! The kitchen is cookin' and the sewing room is hummin', so stay safe, stay healthy, and stay tuned! We'll be right here.