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.

12 April 2020

Blustery Easter Greetings!

Happy Easter, y'all! I hope the Easter Bunny found all of you!

Our Easter Sunday began at 6 a.m. with thunderstorms and hail! It's been cold and blustery and snow flurry-y all day. We've been worshipping at home since mid-March, so after our service and lunch, I made some piping hot Percolator Punch and got to work in my sewing room. Oh my stars. Y'all. The framing and finishing that has piled up. I've been wanting to work on it for some time but I've found it so difficult to settle to it. I enjoy it, but at the same time, for me it's very absorbing and intensive and I just haven't felt settled enough to devote that kind of focus to it. Four weeks into lockdown, I finally feel like I can tackle the pile. I guess it has just taken me this long to adjust to this "new normal."

For my first framing project, I pulled out this very old Brooke Nolan finish from the March/April 2010 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine. It's stitched on 28 ct. Water Lily with the recommended DMC. I am completely dotty about hats of all kinds and have... I don't know how many I have. Forty or fifty? Most of them are "church hats" of varying degrees of fancy, so when I saw this adorable design and everybody wearing their Easter bonnets, I had to stitch it (and then fail to frame it for an embarrassingly long time).

Look at this sassy ladybug. She is wearing that hat.

Isn't that the most cheerful design? I thought it was perfect for this cold, blustery, stay-at-home Easter day. My own real little Easter bunny, Mr. Bun, was in his place as usual.

I have more stuff to share this week, so if you need a break from the news you're always most welcome to drop in here and see what we're up to. As always, thank you for all your kind comments. We'll get through this.

09 April 2020

My Favorite Chocolate Cake, Tiny Version

Behold, the adorableness of a tiny bundt cake! This is my favorite chocolate cake ever, my mom's Scotch Chocolate Cake (full-sized recipe in this post). I halved it and baked it in my little 3-cup bundt pan. I grew up with this cake, so it's serious comfort food, but I didn't want to make a large one just for the two of us. Well, I did, but you know what I mean. Happily, tiny desserts turn out so stinkin' cute you really don't miss having the large version. You get to enjoy a little taste of something home baked, without the guilt of single-handedly plowing through a dessert that's supposed to serve you and all your friends.

Scotch Chocolate Cake (mini version)

Sift together:
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Bring to a boil:
4 Tbsp. (1/4 c.) butter
1/4 c. Crisco
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c. water

Pour boiling ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon. 

Allow to cool a bit (you don't want to cook the egg!) before adding:
1 egg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix well; pour into a greased 3-cup bundt pan or other small baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (depending on the pan/dish you're using). You may have a tiny bit of batter left over if using a 3-cup bundt.

Allow to cool 10-15 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.

If not overbaked, this is a very moist cake and doesn't really need any glaze or frosting. My mom never used it, but feel free to drizzle your favorite recipe over it, or dust it with a little powdered sugar. 

I found my 3-cup bundt pan at Wal-Mart (it's Wilton), but when I get another one it will probably be Nordic Ware. The tiny cake stand (8 1/4" w x 3" h) is a Michael's springtime find from a few years ago. I've also seen them at Hobby Lobby.

The absence of baking ingredients in the grocery stores means a lot of folks are baking, or attempting to bake, or intending to bake, and if you're one of those folks, I would highly recommend experimenting with smaller recipes. It's a lot of fun, and since we're all probably at least a little concerned about emerging from lockdown ten pounds heavier, it's nice to feel you can still enjoy something you baked without feeling guilty about having so much of it. Now is not really a time for guilt. Baking is enjoyable and comforting, and we really need that right now. Click on the "tiny baking" label at the end of this post to check out all my previous posts on this topic, which is near and dear to my heart (and my tummy). 

07 April 2020

Honeybee's Big Adventure

But first, a message from my cough drop:

Big day today! I actually went somewhere! Whoah. I haven't been anywhere (except for a couple of short car rides with Mr. Wonderful) in over three weeks, including the commissary. I stocked up back in February, so we've just been relying on Mr. Wonderful making a quick stop for a few items on his way home from work. It was time for me to go, so I donned my little mask and off I went. Shelves were in much better shape than the last time I saw them on 15 March. Everything was pretty well stocked, except the elusive toilet paper, which has been hunted to extinction and is now rarely seen in the wild. However, I did make a stop at Wal-Mart and managed to find some. My theory about the toilet paper shortage is that at first it was panic buying, but now it's a result of people just using more. The whole family is home all day, every day, instead of kids being at school and parents being at work. So of course home usage increases. I bet there's a huge corresponding surplus on the commercial side of the tp business. I've also noticed dishwasher powder is always absent: more cooking and eating at home, more dishwasher runs. Yeast has been scarce. Apparently everyone is rediscovering baking. As a career homemaker, it's really interesting to me to see what happens to supply and demand when everyone is suddenly at home all the time. I've read that lots of needlework shops and craft suppliers are flooded with online orders, which is wonderful, not only for the businesses, but also for everyone rediscovering the joy and comfort of making things.

Speaking of which, I have stash to share. I stumbled across a new-to-me designer a few weeks ago, Serenita di campagna. She has an Etsy shop where I purchased these charming, old-fashioned designs. I looove the calico kitties in this Halloween design. 

Look at the little fox trailing along behind!

These are the kinds of designs I remember from when I first started building my stash many years ago: cheerful colors and plenty of detail. Nothing drab or austere about these sweet designs.

In the spirit of charming, old-fashioned stitching, here's another freebie in the Be Well series. It reminds me of the designs my Grandmother worked. MAKE A NOTE that the correct stitch count is 71 x 60. You can see finishes on their Facebook page.

I hope y'all are doing well. I think we have a way to go yet, but it seems all of our efforts at social distancing and hand washing and mask wearing may be starting to show up in the trends. Keep up the good work, everybody! You're literally saving lives!

And don't forget to be good to yourself!