31 December 2017

Someone's ready for New Year's Eve!

Wishing y'all oodles and oodles of finishes in the coming year!

26 December 2017

So Much Stitchiness!

It's my favorite week of the year: Stitchy Planning Week! If you're new here, you can read about my annual tradition in this post and about the thoughts behind it in this essay I wrote a couple of years ago.  

*waits patiently for everyone to get caught up*

Ready? Let's look at stuff! 

First, I have to show y'all a new piece of fabric I got last week. This 30 ct. fabric is Snowfall from The Primitive Hare. I don't know what I'm going to stitch on it yet, but when I saw it I knew it had to come live at my house!

I have some finishing to do this week. You'll recognize these as some of my JOY finishes from when Mr. Wonderful was away. 

These are the supplies for a tiny project I started Christmas Eve. I love gray and was so excited to find this beautiful gray/white trim at Hobby Lobby. I already had this project in mind, so when I found the trim, I knew it would be perfect. But let's not kid ourselves. I would have bought it anyway. I love gray! Speaking of which, I mentioned a while back that I was so happy to see DMC adding some grays to its range, and I'm happy to report that the new #04 is exactly right for working on Wichelt's petit point gray/white linen. 

Supplies for my next start. This is a project I've loved for years and years, and I've decided I really need to get it done. It's small, but very detailed. Really looking forward to it.

And here's a WIP that I pulled out to finish because I felt sorry for it, Let it Snow by Blackberry Lane (on the recommended fabric). I started this last winter, and quickly decided I don't like stitching over one. I don't mind a little bit, but the snowflakes on this one were driving me nuts. I'm particular about how my stitches look, and those teeny tiny stitches just never look--to me--as pretty as the chubby little full stitches. So I put it away because I was mad at it, but now I feel sorry for it, so I'm going to finish it. I have a solution for the snowflakes...

From my newest piece of fancy fabric to my oldest: this is my very first piece of hand-dyed fabric, which I've had for years and years (PTP Crystal DaVinci). When I bought it--oh so many years ago--I had no plan for what to stitch on it. I just thought it was a stunning piece of fabric. Back then, hand-dyed fabrics were just catching on, so this was really a novelty. I carefully put it away and "saved it." Now, if you're a regular reader, you'll know that these days I'm the curator of quite a hoard of fabric, but this piece remains special. I get it out now and then and think about what to stitch on it, then put it away. But I may be close to a decision. Stay tuned...

And here's my big decision. I've decided to take the plunge and start Russian Hunt. It's huge, y'all. But my plan is to just let it be what it is: a huge, ongoing, leisurely project with no finish date goal and with no pressure. I'll be stitching whatever else I want, and I'll work on this when I feel like it. At least I will have started it. When I was pondering this decision, I had the chart spread out on my sewing room floor, and Mr. Wonderful walked in and said, "Wow." Yep. That about sums it up. The size, the gorgeousness. Wow. I have to stitch it.

So that's what I'll be doing this week between Christmas and the New Year. I'm excited. I look forward to this week so much, and I hope that whatever you're up to, you have a wonderful week, too!

25 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!

22 December 2017

Flavors of Christmas Kitchen Wreath

When I had the idea for a Flavors of Christmas Kitchen Wreath back in the summer, I knew I had to have a brown wreath. I wanted the whole wreath to have a golden brown, "baked" look. I knew brown wreaths existed; I had seen them at some store at some point in the not-too-distant past. I started looking... and looking... and looking. Brown wreaths were not to be had. If I had wanted a lime green wreath, or a hot pink wreath, or a purple wreath--no problem. Brown? Nope. After scouring the internet, I finally found one, ONE, O-N-E source for brown wreaths. Which were out of stock. To make a long story short, I got some great customer service and ended up with a few of these wreaths. I bought several because while these are "work wreaths" (skimpy), I wanted my wreath to be full and fluffy. I simply disassembled a couple and combined them to get the look I wanted. Here's one wreath:

...and here are three combined. 

The ornaments are tied on using an 18" piece of ribbon glued between the front and back of the ornament during finishing.

The really nice thing about this project is that you can do anything with it. Choose your own favorite flavors... and use an evergreen wreath if you want! Make a wreath that celebrates your favorite meal, your favorite holiday, your favorite cuisine. You could make a Thanksgiving wreath... an Italian wreath... a BBQ wreath... a Family Favorites wreath. You can use any font (there are tons of legal alphabet freebies online), any fabric, any embellishments, any decorations. I'm pretty sure at some point I'm going to need a Tex-Mex wreath!

Or... instead of a food theme, use any theme you like! All you're doing is stitching some words, finishing them flat, and attaching them to a wreath. How about Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23)? Or your kids/grandkids' names? Or characters from your favorite book? See? You really can do anything with this project. (I'm so doing the Fruits of the Spirit one, y'all. Someday.)


Wreath: Carolina Pottery

Fabric: 30 ct. Irish Cream linen (not sure this is still available)

Baking charms: Karen Foster Design baking charms (I got mine from 123 Stitch but apparently they sold out after I began posting my Open House. Also available at Amazon.)

Cookie cutter embellishments: Shelly's Buttons and More

Orange slice decorations: Etsy

Peppermint decorations: Hobby Lobby

A note about the alphabet I used: It's a freebie alphabet I've had for some time. I tried to find it again before I started posting my Open House so I could link to it, but I couldn't find the original website it came from. You may be able to find it on Pinterest, but I wouldn't want to link to anything but the original source on my blog.

UPDATE: I finally found the original source for the alphabet. It's a freebie available here.

Thanks for visiting my Christmas Open House and for all the kind comments you've left. I hope you've enjoyed sharing this Christmas tradition with me. Merry Christmas, y'all!

21 December 2017

Flavors of Christmas: Vanilla

Today is our fifth and final Flavor of Christmas--vanilla!--but be sure to come back tomorrow to see the Grand Finale!

"Vanilla" is stitched on 30 ct. Irish Cream linen with Weeks Angel Hair. The measuring spoons charm is available at 123 Stitch and the heart cookie cutter is available at Shelly's Buttons and More.


Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows

Poor ol' vanilla. In my opinion, vanilla gets a bad rap. It's synonymous with "boring," for some reason I can't fathom. I can only conclude that people who think vanilla is boring have never encountered vanilla in it's most divine form: The Bean. One day when you have some spare time, read about how vanilla is grown and processed. It doesn't get much more exotic. In addition to that, it's in practically every goody we bake. Vanilla deserves respect! Since I am a fan of all things vanilla bean, I went on a search for vanilla bean cookies. I came across this recipe, which I'll share as written, along with how I made these. (If you look closely you can see the tiny black dots that tell you you're about to eat something scrumptious.)

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean (I used 2 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste)
1 c. cold butter, cubed
1/4 c. vanilla sugar* (I sprinkled with regular sparkling sugar)

In a food processor combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cover and process until combined (I just whisked these together).

Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds from pod. Discard pod. Add vanilla seeds to flour mixture; add butter. Cover and process with several on/off pulses until mixture starts to cling. Shape dough into a ball. (After I added the vanilla bean paste, I used a pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour, as I would for scones. When the butter was well cut in, I used my hands to finish incorporating it and shaped the dough into a ball.

Shape dough into 1" balls and place 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. (If you've used your hands, you'll want to chill the dough for a bit before popping it into the oven.) Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, or just until the edges start to brown. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool 5 minutes; roll warm cookies in vanilla sugar to coat and cool completely. Yield: about 2 dozen

*vanilla sugar: cut a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Stir seeds and bean into 2 c. sugar. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

20 December 2017

Flavors of Christmas: Peppermint

No celebration of the flavors of Christmas would be complete without that most Christmas-y of Christmas flavors, peppermint!

"Peppermint" is stitched on 30 ct. Irish Cream linen from R&R Reproductions with Threadworx #01087. The cookie jar charm is from 123 Stitch and the Christmas tree cookie cutter is from Shelly's Buttons and More.


Peppermint Meltaways

If you're a peppermint fan, you must not miss these! So soft and lightly pepperminty. Delicious. I don't like the texture of crushed peppermints on cookies, so I used finely chopped Andes Peppermint Crunch candies. They are softer and don't get sticky like crushed  peppermints sometimes do.

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 c. crushed peppermint candies (or the Andes candies I mentioned above)

Cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch and gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well.

Shape into 1" balls and place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

For frosting, beat butter until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar, milk, and extract and beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies.

19 December 2017

Flavors of Christmas: Orange

Day three of my Christmas Open House and today's flavor is orange! Now, I suspect there might be some confused looks out there. "Orange? Orange isn't a Christmas flavor." Well, perhaps not at your house, but at my house I always like to have some citrus-y sweets as a refreshing follow-up to some of the heavily seasoned dishes I serve on Christmas and Christmas Eve. I think I've mentioned before that being from Texas, our Christmas Eve tradition is tamales, and if you click on the Christmas Open House 2014 tab you'll find my menu for our traditional Christmas Day brunch, including the Lemon-Orange Rolls I make. We like spicy food and citrus is perfect afterward. I also have to say that oranges at Christmas always make me think of much leaner times in our history when citrus was such a winter luxury that it was special enough to appear in Christmas stockings.

"Orange" is stitched on 30 ct. Irish Cream linen from R&R Reproductions with Weeks Persimmon. The spatula charm is available at 123 Stitch and the heart cookie cutter is available at Shelly's Buttons and More.


Orange Snowballs

These are a variation of the Mexican Wedding Cookies you can find in my 2014 Christmas Open House. They are ever so slightly orangey.

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar, divided
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. finely chopped pecans (or walnuts, or whatever you prefer)

Cream butter and 3/4 c. confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in orange peel and extracts. Combine flour and salt and gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in nuts.

Shape into 1" balls and place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to racks to cool completely. Roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. Yield: about 3 dozen

18 December 2017

Flavors of Christmas: Gingerbread

Welcome back, everybody! Today's flavor is gingerbread! 

As I mentioned yesterday, there's no chart for this. I just selected an alphabet I liked and went to work. "Gingerbread" is stitched on 30 ct. Irish Cream linen from R&R Reproductions with GAST Gingersnap. The rolling pin charm is available from 123 Stitch and the gingerbread man cookie cutters are available at Shelly's Buttons and More.


Gingerbread Cookies with Lemon Frosting

I wouldn't say I'm wild about gingerbread; I'd say I'm picky about it. There is so much going on with gingerbread spice-wise (and molasses-wise!) that it's easy to get proportions a bit out of balance for my taste. But a well-balanced, mild gingerbread is hard to beat at Christmas time, and when I saw this recipe that paired gingerbread with lemon--I'm crazy about lemon--I had to try it. These little gems are delicious.

1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
2 eggs
1/4 c. molasses
3 c. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. salt

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
(I added 1 drop of yellow food coloring to make them extra pretty!)

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and molasses. In a separate bowl, whisk together the next eight ingredients. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. 

Shape into 1" balls and place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 until tops are cracked, about 8-10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely. 

For frosting, beat cream cheese until fluffy and then beat in remaining ingredients until smooth. Frost and store in the fridge in an airtight container. Yield: about 4 dozen

More tomorrow!

17 December 2017

Flavors of Christmas: Cinnamon

Welcome to my 4th annual Christmas Open House! The theme this year is "Flavors of Christmas" and my sewing room and my kitchen are open! Y'all come on over!

This week I'll be sharing some little ornaments I've made celebrating my favorite flavors of Christmas, and of course, cookie recipes! Make sure you stick around until the end of the week to see where we go with this...

There isn't a chart for these ornaments as all I've done is chosen an alphabet I liked, charted the word, and stitched it up. "Cinnamon" is stitched on 30 ct. Irish Cream linen from R&R Reproductions with GAST Cinnamon. The muffin tin charm is from 123 Stitch and the star cookie cutter is from Shelly's Buttons and More.


Cinnamon-Sugar Crackle Cookies

For me, there are few kitchen aromas more pleasing than baking cinnamon. It's warm and homey and welcoming. These little cookies are very simple but so good with hot tea or coffee.

1 c. shortening
1 3/4 c. sugar, divided
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Cream shortening and 1 1/2 c. sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes. 

Combine cinnamon and remainder of sugar and set aside. Shape dough into 1" balls and roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely. Yield: about 4 dozen

Hope everyone is ready to stitch and bake... see y'all tomorrow!

15 December 2017

It's Coming...

My annual Christmas Open House starts Sunday, 17 December!

If you're new, check out the Christmas Open House tabs right under the header picture. See y'all on Sunday!

12 December 2017

Little Elf Girl

I was all set to stitch one more JOY project before Mr. Wonderful got home, but a fellow stitcher shared this adorable freebie and I got distracted! In my defense, the design is called Christmas Joy, so I'm counting it!

As you can see, I "edited" this design, which I talked about in this post. I also added a candy cane in her left hand, gave her stripey stockings, and fiddled with the tree quite a bit, filling in a lot of green and moving the berries and the bird. She's stitched on 32 ct. petit point linen with DMC Blanc and 3773, GAST Buckeye Scarlet and Bayberry, and CC Bramble Bush.

09 December 2017

Saturday Sampler: Homecoming Edition

He's home! Thank you so much for all the well-wishes for us while Tiger Lily and I were on our own.

First snow!