30 December 2022

A Year of Winter

So here I am, watching a heavy tropical rain fall on the palm trees in my yard on a nearly-70-degree day, drinking our traditional hot punch and really missing winter. Y'all know I am a fall and winter girl. If you've been here a while, you also know that the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is my Stitchy Planning Week, a week when I leisurely play in my stash and plan my projects for the coming year. A few weeks ago, I decided I would stitch winter all year next year. Shortly thereafter, this Winter Sampler (which I've been anticipating from the designer for several years) came out, and I was so thrilled with how beautiful it turned out. I took the timing as confirmation that next year is, indeed, a Year of Winter for me. I figure it will either be a source of comfort, or I'll get so sick of winter I'll be able to cope with its absence better. Either way, I win.

I collected half a dozen other winter designs I want to stitch and organized them into one of these presentation books that I use for everything, including my inventory. My Stitchy Planning Week has been somewhat abbreviated, what with travel and wee ones and such, but Mr. Wonderful is on baby duty so I do have some time to get things together. Hopefully I'll be able to have a brand new start for New Year's Day.

If winter is not your cup of tea, never fear. I'll still be sharing my stitchy finds, good recipes, and of course, kitten pics. And you never know when I'll get distracted and have to stitch a spring bunny or a fall pumpkin or something. I may even actually have some non-winter finishing and framing to share at some point. I've also kicked around the idea of just blathering about what I've learned in 35 years of stitching, why I do things the way I do them, why I break the stitching "rules" I break, why I'm still blogging, etc. (Topic suggestions for my blathering welcome!)

Speaking of blogging, this post closes out 10 years for me. I don't plan to go anywhere. It seems blogging is fading away, as people choose faster and shorter means of communication over slower and longer. That's how we lost letters. But as long as the platform cooperates with me, and I'm able, I intend to just muddle along, showing my stitching and my cats and whatever else takes my fancy. I appreciate those of you who appreciate what I do, who value slower and longer, and take the time to read, and look, and comment. I haven't been able to keep up with blogs other than my own this year, but hopefully the new year will be a better one. It feels like we're just off over here in a cozy little corner, doing our own thing, while everyone else races by. I intend to keep it cozy as long as I can.

Wishing you many blessings in the New Year, may it be better than the last, and may you have oodles of finishes! 

28 December 2022

Over the River and Through the Woods

To Grandmother's house we go! First big road trip to Texas, heading out at zero dark thirty.

Butterfly is not a fan of the carrier. It took her a couple of hours to begin to settle on the way out, with intermittent fussing the rest of the way. She wore herself out and napped fairly well. On the way back she did much better. Began to settle in about an hour and napped most of the way home. Marigold is a champion traveller, and helped calm her sister with an occasional ear wash. So cute. Overall, they did much better than I had dared to hope.

On the way home. So sleepy.

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement before our trip. They did well!

24 December 2022

Heaven and Nature Sing! Christmas Eve

Thank you all so much for joining me this week and for all your sweet comments. Thank you for being here with me through such a trying year, and for helping me close the door on it in the joyful, peaceful way we have done together for nine years. Though there was no stitching this year, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you could feel how personal this project was for me, and how much I enjoyed creating it and sharing it with you.

As always, from our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

PS: Next year is my 10th annual Christmas Open House. Ten years! Theme is chosen, and we're goin' big!

23 December 2022

Heaven and Nature Sing! The Sixth Day

Last day of birds and critters, but there's one more day of Christmas Open House tomorrow that you'll want to stick around for!

Is the Tufted Titmouse the cutest bird on Earth? Why yes, yes it is. If you've never seen one, do yourself a favor and have a quick google. Adorable overload.

We couldn't have all these critter friends and not have a bunny, so now we have a lovely, round, pearly white Snowshoe Hare.

And a black squirrel. Why is this squirrel black, you ask? Because when we were stationed outside of DC, we had a small population of black squirrels. I'd never seen one before, and I just loved them.

The wee Wren. So small and chubby and cute. My aunt always had wrens nesting on her porch.

And finally, the Downy Woodpecker. These are quite small and pretty. We had several varieties of woodpeckers, but these are my favorite.


This last recipe is one I use when I'm too pressed for time to make these Lemon-Orange Rolls, which we always have at Christmas. I've mentioned before that for me, citrus is a must at Christmas. Not only is it traditional, the sharp, bright flavors are a perfect balance for all the sweet and savory flavors of the holidays. This Orange Loaf Cake, which I tweaked a bit to be more like the rolls, is easier and faster and just as delicious. My changes:

For the 3 Tablespoons of orange juice, I used half orange juice, half fresh lemon juice.

For the Tablespoon of orange zest, I used half orange zest, half lemon zest.

I did the same with the glaze ingredients and baked mine in a tea loaf pan at 325 for 50 minutes.


The final freebie is a very sweet, soft little Winter Bird. I must stitch this.


Twenty-two birds and eight critter friends later, all that's left is the tree. Oh, this tree. Come back tomorrow for a Christmas Eve treat!

22 December 2022

Heaven and Nature Sing! The Fifth Day

Y'all didn't think we'd get all the way through this week without a fox, did you? Here he is, in all his sparkly, coppery glory!

Oh, the Sandhill Crane. These birds were overhead, seeing us off as we left our last duty station. It made me cry, as we didn't want to leave. I'll always think of them that way. Hope to see them again some day.

Bonus critter friend! The adorable skunk! Somehow it seems right that skunks should sparkle.

The Snowy Owl. This is another example of using scrapbooking scissors for markings, as I mentioned Sunday. I simply trimmed the squiggles apart and glued them on separately.

A lovely, graceful Swan. She has her own little pond to float on. 

A TIP for making easy stands for your birds and other critters. Simply bend a pipe cleaner into a "U" shape, bend the "legs" of the U, and glue them to the ornament.


One more side recipe, this one goes with everything I've posted so far. Very quick to whip up, super buttery, slightly sweet (which you can adjust to taste), it's more like a corn cake. Because it uses baking mix, you can also use Carbquick and Splenda to make it much lower in carbs: Buttery Bisquick Cornbread. (I always reduce the sugar/Splenda.)


Speaking of owls, check out this magnificent 100 Owls freebie. Isn't it lovely?

Final day of birds and critters tomorrow! Come see who made the cut (I had to quit at some point!)

21 December 2022

Heaven and Nature Sing! The Fourth Day

Everyone is grey today! I love grey. I don't decorate my house with it because I find it a bit cold, but I love stitching with it and on it and I love wearing it. So of course, my favorite birds are grey: the wee Chickadee I showed on Monday, and here, the chubby little Dark-Eyed Junco. These little fellows always showed up for winter when we were stationed on the East Coast, and I loved them.

The Mockingbird, state bird of Texas (and several other states). We have a lot of them where we live now.

Miss Mourning Dove. I don't know why I always think of them as female. Perhaps it's because they look so soft. And then there are those hot pink boots!

If you've never seen a Nuthatch, these little guys zip up and down tree trunks. So busy and so cute.

Today's critter friend continues the grey theme. Mr. Raccoon, with his fancy sparkly mask, looks like he's fixin' to get up to something.

You may not decide to make as many of these birds and animals as I have, but if you do, you'll need a convenient way to store the pattern pieces so you can make more at some point. I just bought card-sized envelopes, taped the picture of the pattern to the front, and labeled it. Then I got a cute Christmas box to hold my entire collection of patterns.


Here's a side dish I do two ways. When I was growing up, my mom would frequently "put on a pot of beans", just like her mother had, and probably her mother, and on back. Beans were (and still are) an inexpensive, filling, nutritious staple. This is how I make a basic "pot of beans" that we eat as is. Great with that flank steak I shared Sunday.

Pinto Beans

3 c. dried pinto beans
1 onion, peeled and halved
4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
7-8 c. water

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high about 8 hours, adding water if needed. If more than 1 cup is needed, temp is too high.

And this is the other way I prepare them, as refried beans. Obviously, they're not actually refried, but close enough. They're good with the taco recipe from yesterday, or as tacos themselves. Bean and cheese tacos are a thing in Texas, not sure if they are elsewhere. I also put them in my chicken taco salad, but that masterpiece will have to wait for another time. 

Refried Beans

To the above ingredients add:
1 can chopped green chilies
1/4 tsp. dried minced garlic
pinch of cumin

Mash with a potato masher when done. *If you're making refried beans, don't add too much water.


Today's freebie is the prettiest, plumpest, purplest Partridge you ever did see! I imagine her stitched up with maximum glam--Kreinik and beads and the works!

Stay tuned for still. more. birds.