30 December 2015

Our 2015 Ornaments

Every year Mr. Wonderful and I choose our ornaments from the current Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue. We've been doing this since our first Christmas, so we have quite a collection (which can be seen under the Christmas Open House 2014 label).

Here are this year's ornaments! His (scroll down to the 23 December post for information on the color conversion):

 And mine:

Here's a close-up of the fabric. I wanted to show it because it's very unusual in that it is flecked with silver instead of having a silver thread woven into the linen, as with other silver/natural linens. Unfortunately, I don't know the manufacturer. I picked it up from the scrap basket at my LNS some time ago and it was just labeled as 32 count silver/natural. I love it because it looks like falling snow.

25 December 2015

24 December 2015

The Fox Tree

There are way too many ornaments on this tree to show each one, so I've just chosen a few. I'm not thrilled with my photography, but I've had a lot of requests to show this tree, so hopefully you'll be able to get an idea of how it looks. The pictures aren't great, but the tree is beautiful! Click on the Fox Tree Project label to see more pictures of the ornaments I've made for this tree.

Here's the tree topper, in her warm wool dress, cozy sweater, and furry boots.

This Jim Shore Santa ornament was a gift for my tree from Mr. Wonderful this year. The china fox with the mug is from Williamsburg, Virginia.

This one is a souvenir from Maine.

Here's an adaptation of Country Cottage Needleworks Snowy Foxes.

This little red fox was a gift from a sweet friend. The Arctic fox and snowman ornament is from my mom.

This glass fox is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The white fox in the background is from Wal-Mart and cost me a whole dollar!

This was a $1 kit that I spiffed up. 

I got this fancy girl from Hobby Lobby.

Here's another $1 kit.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

23 December 2015

A Christmas Ornament Color Conversion

If you've been here for a while, you know that I love to play with color, sometimes just changing one or two, and sometimes doing a complete color conversion. For me, being comfortable with changing colors opens up so many more designs as potential projects because I don't look at a design and automatically rule it out because I don't like the color. I suppose I would have less stash if I did rule out designs based on color... but where's the fun in that?

For his ornament this year, Mr. Wonderful chose "Plenty" by Hands on Design from the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue. And being a very traditional guy, he wanted it stitched in more traditional colors. Here's what I came up with:

My color choices:

fabric: 32 count Chestnut
deer: DMC 3862
swirls, antlers, letters: DMC 3031
leaves, border: DMC 4045
poinsettias: Weeks Dye Works Turkish Red
red and gold beads

Off to get some more stitching and finishing done.

Happy Last Minute Christmas Stitching!

22 December 2015

Mr. Wonderful's Tree

Here's Mr. Wonderful's pond hockey tree, a collection of hockey players and other wildlife.

Top to bottom: Mario Lemieux (white jersey, no head... sorry Mario!), Alex Ovechkin (red jersey, right), Patrick Kane (red jersey, left), and Wayne Gretzky (white jersey, bottom).

Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr (black jersey, on the right), Alex Ovechkin.

Bobby Orr, and Ryan Miller (goalie).

And who else would be atop the pond hockey tree but The Great One (Wayne Gretzky, for all the no-hockey humans)? That silver thing is the Stanley Cup, and you can also see Gordie Howe peeking through the branches down there on the right.

We are both huge hockey fans. I actually converted Mr. Wonderful to the most awesome sport in the world, not the other way around. I kept telling him he needed to see an NHL game in person to really appreciate it. In 2010, we went to his first game and he was instantly hooked. It gets pretty wild around here when Washington is playing... Tiger Lily stays upstairs!

20 December 2015

Christmas At Our House

I've been getting a lot of requests to see our Christmas trees. I'm not wild about Christmas tree photography, mainly because I just feel that photographs never do justice to the beauty of Christmas trees, but I've decided to give it a whirl and over the next few days I'll be sharing some pictures of some of our trees. 

Here are a few shots of our living room, where we have three trees. On the left is the tree with all of our annual stitched ornaments and on the right is Mr. Wonderful's pond hockey tree. If you'd like to see all the individual stitched ornaments, click on the Christmas Open House 2014 label on the right sidebar. The peppermint afghan on the couch was made for me by my mom.

In the background, the stitched ornament tree; in the foreground, the fox tree.

By day:

The stitched ornament tree:

The fox tree:

Later this week I'll post close-ups of some of the fox ornaments, and of Mr. Wonderful's tree.

18 December 2015

Christmas Crafternoon: Stitcher's Necklace

Well stitchers, here we are. Friday already. I hope y'all have enjoyed the week, and I hope y'all are settled in because this is the Grand Finale of my Christmas Open House 2015 and it's gonna be looooong! 

Just like all of the other projects I've shared this week, this one isn't difficult, but it is a bit more involved and requires more stuff. And just like my other projects, this one can be adapted in so many ways... colors, themes, occasions, seasons, holidays.

I've had the idea in my head for at least a year, and finally got around to translating it into a real object. The concept behind the Stitcher's Necklace is an accessory that allows me to have my main tools attached to me so that I can move around, get up, etc. without having to find a place to put things where they won't go missing. Now for stitching at home in your favorite chair, this is probably not much of an issue. But when traveling--in a car, at a hotel, at a friend's house--or sitting at the hospital, or even at a stitcher's retreat, it's nice to be able to wear your scissors and stick your needle to yourself, safely! And if that accessory is cute, cute, CUTE... well, so much the better! Let's get started!

Stitcher's Necklace

What you'll need:

*spacers with relatively large holes (the silver things in the baggie in the pic below)
*beading nylon
*bead board (not absolutely necessary, but a big help)
*plastic floss bobbins
*measuring tape
*retractable badge reel (office supply store)

The first thing you need to do is unstring all your beads and design your necklace. Honestly, this is really the most time-consuming part of making this necklace. A bead board is very helpful for this step. Mine is just flocked plastic and was very inexpensive. 

The top part of the necklace is formed by a length of measuring tape with small holes punched in each end. I did this for a few reasons: 1) it's handy to have a measuring tape! 2) it makes the necklace lighter since it requires fewer beads, and 3) it also makes it a bit less expensive to make (again, fewer beads). If you keep a look out, you'll frequently be able to find beads on sale for half-price at any of the large craft store chains. I used a 12" length of measuring tape for my necklace, but you could certainly make yours longer if you like. I wouldn't go any shorter, though. It needs to slip comfortably over your head. Position a plastic floss bobbin just below the measuring tape on both sides. Make sure the spacer is at the bottom center of your necklace.

Once you have your necklace the way you want it, string the beads, making sure to leave plenty of nylon on both ends to work with. It's better to have too much than too little.

Cut a strip of felt about 3/4" wide, or to fit the bobbins you're using. Set aside.

Thread the nylon through the hole in the top of the bobbin. Making sure the nylon is centered on the bobbin, and making sure the bobbin is snug against the bead below it, secure the nylon on the back with a small piece of tape. This is just to hold the bobbin in place while you finish working with it.

Hot glue the strip of felt to the bobbin, wrap it around a couple of times, and hot glue the end of the felt to the back of the bobbin. 

With the excess nylon, make a little knot at the top of the bobbin. They should be nice and secure now. Add a couple of small beads above each bobbin. You'll need them when attaching the measuring tape.

To attach the measuring tape, thread the nylon up through the back of the measuring tape and out the front. Then thread the nylon down through the top bead, then down through the top bead again, and then down through the bottom bead. Tie off the nylon below the bottom bead, at the back of the bobbin.

The front should look something like this:

Attach the badge reel to the spacer at the bottom center of the necklace. You want to make sure when purchasing your spacers and your badge reel that the badge reel clasp will fit through the spacer. Also, you don't have to decorate the badge reel, but I just happened to find a snowflake charm that fit perfectly. Badge reels can be a bit pricey, so I designed the necklace so that if you make more than one necklace, you can transfer the badge reel from necklace to necklace. That would be a good reason not to decorate the badge reel, so that it will go with more than one necklace.

In this close-up, you can see how the clasp of the badge reel fits through the spacer, and can be easily removed from the necklace.

And here's the finished necklace!

For the last recipe of my Christmas Open House 2015, I'm sharing my Grandmother's recipe for pound cake, because it just wouldn't be Christmas without pound cake!

Pound Cake

3 c. sugar

1 c. butter
1/2 c. Crisco
5 eggs, beaten
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract

Cream butter, Crisco, and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Sift flour with baking powder. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture. Add flavorings. Spray pan with Baker's Joy. Place in a cold oven and heat to 325. Bake about 1 1/2 hours or until done.


Thanks for visiting my Open House! 

Tiger Lily, Mr. Wonderful and I all wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

17 December 2015

Christmas Crafternoon: Needle Packets and Needle Vials

Back in the spring, I shared a tutorial for homemade needle packets, which you can see here.
For one of our projects this week, I decided to create a couple more, this time with a Christmas-y, wintery feel. These are nice for stockings, favors, or to tuck in cards.

Do you save orts? I've noticed that a lot of stitchers do, but I don't. I do, however, save old needles. I'm not sure why, but I do. Did you know there is a tradition in Japan called the Festival of Broken Needles, when old needles are "laid to rest" after their faithful service in needlework? You can read about it here. I'm not inclined to stick my old needles into tofu, but after all their hard work, they probably deserve a pretty resting place! So for our next project, we're making needle vials.

Needle Vials

What you'll need:

*small glass vials with cork stoppers
*embellishments of your choice (just make sure they're not too big; you don't want the vial to be top-heavy)
(all supplies from Hobby Lobby)

Pretty up your vials however you like. There's no need for a tutorial because these are so easy! Here are a couple of ideas:

Quick, easy, inexpensive... and pretty! Combine a set of homemade goodies with a common theme for a really cute little gift set: needle packet, needle vial, needle magnet.

If you love chocolate and coffee, this recipe will knock your little wool socks off! These are my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE cookies. Favorite. If you don't like coffee, you could leave out the espresso and still have a pretty delicious chocolate cookie. 

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

3 (1 oz.) squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 c. butter
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. espresso powder (instant espresso)
1 c. flour
3/8 tsp. baking powder (I know, weird... trust me)

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt together the baking chocolate, 1 c. chocolate chips, and the butter. Heat at 50% power, in 1 minute increments, stirring between each heating until completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

Beat eggs and sugar until thick and light, about 3 minutes. Stir in the espresso. Add the chocolate mixture and stir well. Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the egg/chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining 1 c. chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough at least 30 minutes.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2" apart on prepared cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. WATCH the cookies carefully and remove them when they begin to have a crackled appearance. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets. (I use a small cookie scoop and bake 12 minutes exactly, yield is 3 dozen plus a few.)

One more day to go... come back tomorrow for the Grand Finale of the Christmas Open House 2015!

16 December 2015

Christmas Crafternoon: Floss Bobbin Ornaments for a Stitcher's Tree

We love Christmas trees. This year, we've got three in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one in my sewing room. Even if you're not a multiple tree household, you probably need a little stitcher's tree all to yourself. There are all kinds of things you can put on a stitcher's tree... scissors, needle packets, skeins of floss, spools of thread... anything sewing or stitching-related. You can put together a really cute tree without having to make a single thing! But if you want to make something, here's an idea for some quick and easy floss bobbin ornaments.

Floss Bobbin Ornaments

What you'll need:

*plastic floss bobbins

*glitter paint, glitter, sparkly stuff (the sparklier, the better)
*small Christmas/sewing embellishments, charms (the tiny scissors are from Hobby Lobby)

First, glitter up your bobbins (just the ends that will show) and anything else you want to sparkle. I used a glitter paint, and then because that just wasn't sparkly enough for me, I added glitter to the wet paint. Allow to dry. Super sparkly!

To attach charms or jingle bells or whatever, thread a snippet of floss through the charm and hot glue it to the bobbin. Trim the excess floss. Wind the rest of the floss onto the bobbin as you normally would. 

For variety, glue embellishments to other bobbins. My sewing room, which you can see here, is pink and green, so I wanted my ornaments to match.

And here's my tree!

Tree topper! One of these days I may get something fancier made, but this will do for now.

Photographs never do justice to a Christmas tree, but hopefully you can get an idea of the possibilities for your own stitcher's tree!


Today's recipe is a quick and easy mix that's nice to have on hand for yourself or to give as a gift. I make the low sugar version (you can't tell!), but you could easily substitute the real deal.

Vanilla Cappuccino Mix

1 1/3 c. Splenda

1 1/3 c. sugar-free French Vanilla powdered coffee creamer (8 oz. jar)
2/3 c. powdered instant dry milk
2/3 c. instant coffee

Mix well and store in an airtight container. For cappuccino, use about 1/8 c. of mix per mug of boiling water, or to taste.


Have a great day, everybody!