Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Stitching Review

Let's recap 2008. Over the next day or so I'm going to be thinking about what I need / want to accomplish in 2009.

2008 Completed:

Suz Christmas Pillow


Mirabilia’s Titania, Queen of the Fairies

Oriental Poppies

12 Beau Geste Vintage Ornaments

Cranberry Sampler


Dimension's Christmas Stocking

Victoria’s birthday present (no picture)

3 Catherine Coleman Ornaments

Heirloom Drawn Thread Sampler III

Pat Mazu Stocking

Sue Reed's Get to the Point ***Of note because I haven't had a framed picture up until now.***

I also completed several projects for my ANG Master Teacher Program, including designing and stitching two sizeable designs and designing some others. :-)

Goals to carry over to next year:

Finish the Lavender Gift Box.
Work on machine embroidery Christmas village.
Continue work on the MTP. There are two large designs that I have to finish designing and stitch, as well as all the continuing education.

I'm going to look through some of my patterns and see what else I have that I want to stitch. Very exciting!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog testing...

Ok - ALL that work just to add a Category area on the right. Whew!

The gist is I can't have an auto-updated labels area because I host my own blog while using blogger software. I figured out a workaround, which is basically adding links to the categories I want to highlight. People can also use the above "search" bar if they want to read about something in particular.

What a pain. Hours of wasted stitching time. *sigh*

A Stitch Each Week - Nobuko


This fun little stitch gives a beautiful smooth woven look to the canvas.

To easily shade the design, the darker areas were worked first. Where the darker stripes jut down into the lighter areas the stitch was worked down into the area. Next the medium areas were worked in horizontal rows while skipping across the back of the darker areas. Occasional stitches were skipped to allow for lighter shading. Lastly the light thread was used to fill in the purposely missed stitches to give that extra shading.

Sample stitched in one strand of Appleton's Wool on 18 count canvas. Design from Amanda Lawford's Royal Santa with stitch guide by GeorgaDee MacLeod. Stitch diagram by Summer Truswell.

A Stitch Each Week - Beaty Variation

Years ago (really, YEARS) I published a weekly column called "A Stitch Each Week". The name has always stuck with me... I still love neat stitches so I'll start it up again.

A new stitch diagram, a stitched sample, and some color ideas. I'll try to do one a week. :-)

Beaty Variation -

This quick stitch is stitched with a row of five diagonal Gobelin stitch over five threads, followed by a column of five tent stitches.

In this sample the "fold" in the cloth is purposely compensated along the line to break up the pattern, as well as being stitched in the extreme shades of purple. When shading, focus on blending the colors in a single pattern rather than compensating the stitches along the color variations.

Sample stitched in one strand of Appleton's Wool on 18 count canvas. Design from Amanda Lawford's Royal Santa with stitch guide by GeorgaDee MacLeod. Stitch diagram by Summer Truswell.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Amanda Lawford Santa...

I so want him. He would be SO MUCH FUN to stitch. Look at the cute snowman! And the gingerbread cookie! And the lovely wreath! The scrollwork on the cloak! 18 mesh means he would take a good long while to stitch, too. :-)

Even with their Christmas sale he still would come in at over $300. *sigh*
I'm making progress on my Royal Santa, which is why I've been eyeing the others in the series. I stitched the staff pole yesterday and worked on some of the red opening in the cloak. It's lovely!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

The children have had a great day. We had a nice dinner yesterday and they went to bed around 10 p.m. Brad and I stayed up and watched Disturbia, some Hallmark movie, The Family Christmas, I think, and also I watched The Dish. I love the Dish. All my reality TV and celeb updates (that I shouldn't care about but are funny) in 23 snarky minutes.

After we were sure that they were asleep we set out all the presents that have been in the corner of the garage, and also stuffed the stockings. We went to bed around 2-ish.

Alarm goes off at 8 and no kids are awake! I felt sure that they would be up before us... We made coffee and read until they got up around 9. They were thrilled with their presents. Each child received lovely gifts and lots of fun things to play with. Madeline and Victoria traded a few things. ;-)

Hallie and Greg arrived around 11. They played with the kidlets, opened a few gifts, and we had a lovely lunch. They are so good with the kids (which is good, because they get them if Brad and I both kick the bucket). Travis was thrilled to give Greg lots of fake shots with his fake Doctor kit. I found that particularly ironic.

After they left I read some more... the kids are playing and I think Brad is dozing on the couch. It was a long night! We're having leftovers for dinner and I am NOT going shopping tomorrow. We have at least a foot of snow on the ground and it's going to take forever to melt. My poor plants! I'm wondering how many years of this "unusually cold weather" we will have before Sunset starts changing people's zone recommendations for planting.

Exercise update...

Exercise update:

  • Wednesday the 24th I did 25 minutes of Fitness TV: cardio, strength, abs. Some 3-2-1 video that is actually difficult for me. No weight lost but my abdomen and arms are sore!

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #4

Stitching update:

Yesterday I finished stitching the blue cloak. Whew! I've been working with this Appleton wool for what seems like weeks.

Last night I went ahead and stitched the gold on one cuff. It is a combination of tent and Blanket (buttonhole stitch) with three plies of gold Soie d'Alger silk thread. The gold is #16 Kreinik in 002. This has great texture on the curves.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting ready...

About 10 days ago I made the yummy Cappucino Pecan Nuggets that I make yearly. I packed up lovely boxes and gave them to friends. Brad and I inhaled at least a dozen (each!) On Thursday I had a small Christmas party for the homeschool friends at our house. The kids did crafts and played... and Crystal asked me what happened to the chocolates. Oops! I usually give some to her every year.

So, last night I made another batch, this time just one batch. I'll pack up most of these for neighbor gifts, some for Crystal, and hopefully will still have at least 4-6 on Christmas day for Hallie and Greg (sister-in-law and her husband). :-) Because I *can't* make another batch.

I've gained 8 pounds this last month. EIGHT pounds! Now, I try not to freak out about weight... I know that women range five pounds on average. But, when pants are shrinking and one has nothing to wear... one needs to lay off the chocolate. And perhaps start exercising again?
  • Saturday I went to the gym and did 55 minutes of running, weights, and stairclimber.
  • Sunday we had too much snow so I found the Fitness TV category on comcast and did 10 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes of legs and bum, and 20 minutes of cardio.
  • Monday I was sore so I did stretches.
  • Tuesday, this morning, I did 10 minutes of yoga and 25 minutes of combination weight, cardio, ab. Again, on Fitness TV. I enjoy the yoga but my balance is terrible (I get vertigo intermittently probably due to recurring middle ear infections.)
I feel better than I did last week... so if I keep it up perhaps my pants won't get tighter through the holidays and I'll be able to slim back down to my normal weight before we go to Utah in April. Because have you *seen* my sisters-in-law? They all have kids, too, so it's not comparing apples to oranges.

Anyway, in stitching news I am still working on Royal Santa. I've almost finished up the blue and will take a picture when I do so. I am mailing off my Master Teacher stuff today and when I get approval on those line drawings I will switch over to stitching on that. I have two sizeable projects to stitch before July so it's good I stitch fast. :0

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Victoria's room repainting...

I haven't had time to post this yet... Since we've been here in this house for five years it's been needing repainting / heavy touchups.

I repainted all the baseboards last month, earlier this year I repainted Madeline's room, and of course the constant touch-up on the main living area. I repainted Victoria's room earlier this month. I let Victoria pick the paint colors for her room (with a bit of guidance) and together we picked out a wallpaper border and new curtain for the window. It looks lovely, very grown up, and it's not baby pink any longer! The cross-stitch bunnies and flowers were in her old room.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stitched *and* Finished...

This is my stocking that I finally stitched this year. It was a Dimensions Kit. I did add a bit of blending filament for fun. :-)

I worked on it through the year and finished it in December 2008.

More Christmas stockings...

These are all full sized. They are backed with velvet and lined with satin fabric. The tassels are made from leftover stitching threads. Each is trimmed in three-color custom twisted cording.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rain, snow, sleet, snow...

The last few days have been a lesson in poor weather here in Washington. I am NOT a snow fan. Cold, cold, cold! Since the weather has been bad I spent yesterday on a 550 piece puzzler, drank lots of Trader Joe's holiday coffee (with ginger, it's delicious!), and finished off the last of the Cappucino Pecan Nuggets.

I just received news this morning that one of my good friends will be moving, in about 9-10 months. Her husband is military and while the do move around a lot, they had thought that they would be here for at least another 3 years. It's very upsetting. Her children and my children are best buds. They have a choice of cities but none are close... we'll see what happens. Brad calls it "my curse"... every friend I made will be here for a couple of years and then move on. It happens over, and over, and over again. The Seattle area is very transient. :-(
Last night I worked on the line drawings for a couple new projects for the ANG Master Teacher Program. I pulled threads last night. This morning I line drew the stitch squares on the canvas and I'll be stitching them this evening. I have a few more stockings to do finishing on tomorrow and will mail it all out on Saturday.
Off to stitch - I love starting a new project, even if it is a bitty sample!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First snow of winter...

It does make everything look lovely for a few hours.

Then the children get out there and you end up with lots of pathways, tumbledown snowmen, and strips of green grass. They enjoy it though! The roads on Monday were awful - very icy with people going to fast. I've really glad I have new tires on my van! The girls are still doing gymnastics and are enjoying it a lot.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Chocolates...

I only make these once a year. They're delicious, but very time consuming.

I've made a couple of small changes to the original recipe, which is from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook, and also found on their website. My changes are in the recipe.

Cappuccino Pecan Nuggets

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground coffee (medium roast, espresso grind)
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
11 ounces Nestle white chocolate chips (1 bag)*
12 vanilla caramels (use something like Farley's that doesn't have Vanillin or food colorings)
1/4 cup Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon whipping (heavy) cream
72 large pecan halves (1 1/2 cups)
11 ounces Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips, but buy an extra bag just in case
1. Line square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches, with aluminum foil, leaving 1 inch of foil overhanging at 2 opposite sides of pan; spray with cooking spray.
2. Heat brown sugar, 1 tablespoon coffee and the milk to boiling in microwave (2-3 minutes); remove from heat. Stir in white chocolate chips until melted. Pour into pan. Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until firm. Remove mixture from pan, using foil edges to lift. Cut into 36 pieces (6x6)
3. Heat caramels, chocolate chips and whipping cream in in microwave, stirring frequently, until mixture is melted and smooth. (1.5-2 minutes) Refrigerate uncovered at least 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until mixture holds its shape and is cool enough to handle. If it's still tacky put it back in the fridge.
4. Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil. For each nugget, roll 1/2 teaspoon caramel-chocolate mixture into ball; press between 2 pecan halves and flatten slightly. Return to fridge until firm.
5. Shape 1 square coffee mixture evenly around pecan cluster. To do this pick up the square and gently flatten in the palm of your hand, place pecan ball in center, fold coffee mixture around, roll between hands to form ball. I wash and dry my hands about every 12 balls to help alleviate stickiness. Place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until firm. I usually refridgerate overnight.
6. Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Melt baking chocolate in microwave 1-2 minutes until almost melted, stir until smooth. Dip 1 nugget at a time into chocolate mixture. Roll around gently, pick up with fork, tap fork on side of the bowl, and scrape off the excess on the edge of the bowl. Move the chocolate to the cookie sheet and use a second fork to gently move the nugget to the cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle chopped up pecans over some of the nuggets. Drizzle remaining melted chocolate over some of the nuggets if desired.
7. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or just until set. Serve at room temperature. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
Today I made a double batch, in side by side bowls, for a total of 72 lovely chocolates. This are my "neighbor and friend" gifts, placed in Christmas paper muffin tin liners and adorable little gift boxes.

*In 2010 we determined that the Ghiradelli and Everyday 365 Organics doesn't work for the white chocolate section, but the Nestle does work.

Ornaments finished...

More lovely ornaments to ship out tomorrow...

This is a gift box from Kathy Schenkel. The red ribbon and heart came with the design. I curled that ribbon and then added more colors to make a really poofy box on the top of the cube. It is lined with acid free foam core for firm sides.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gift tag ornament...

This cute ornament tag is finished with a hard back and padded front, and trimmed in two colors of floss and white pearl blended with metallic.

The grommet in the corner was added after finishing. A grommet that would have went all the way through the layers would have been too wide in diameter, so I used two grommets, blue on the front and red on the back to match the velvet. Very fun!

Miniature Christmas Stockings...

These miniature stockings are just so cute. Here are a pair of soft booties, backed in pale blue ultrasuede and lined in blue satin. The twisted cording is in two shades of blue.

Next this football stocking is backed with black velveteen and lined in a striking red silk dupioni. The twisted cording is made of red cotton and gold metallic.

Mr. Crabs now has his own home! This miniature stocking has three colors in the floss that match the fun little Christmas bulbs. I love all the found attachments.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Miniature Bargello Stockings...

These four miniature Bargello stockings are finished with a blue velveteen fabric and dupioni lining. Custom twisted cording in two shades of blue and one shade of white finish the edge, while the gold ribbon matches the little gold stars. Very fun and the perfect size for a ring, bracelet, necklace and a pair of earrings. ;-)

Christmas stockings finished...

Every year I lots of Christmas stockings, and this year is now exception. Dark red velvet is so lovely. It is both traditional and striking at the same time.

These three stockings are all finished with self-welted cording on the sides and twisted cording around the top and for the hanger. Very fun!

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #3

More stitching on the coat - this is in 1 strand of Appleton's Wool.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

I'm sorry Travis took a swipe off the frosting before you got a chance to blow out the candle!