Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Blog is On Hold

I regret to say I must put my blogging on hold for a few weeks.  My grandmother is very ill and will not be with us much longer.  FH, Gus, and I are getting ready to make the drive back home to New Mexico so I can spend some time with her before she is gone.

I will be taking stitching projects to work on, but I won't be posting pictures until I'm home.

Until we meet again!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Second Complete Snowlady!

I finished the caroling snowlady this week.

So far I have baking and caroling.  

Next up: ice skating!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Stitching and Minis

I'm still recovering from our trip south last weekend, but I've been busy with projects.  Here's a look at the American Goldfinch.
 All that's left is the background.  I've got less than three skeins of the background color left to work with.  It shouldn't be long now.

While we were on the road last weekend, I wanted a stitching project that was small and easy to work on in the car or while seated with others.  I dug out six small kits for ornaments and got started on one.  This snowlady is baking gingerbread cookies here.
The same snowlady is/will be caroling in this ornament.
Whilst not stitching, I had to start making some minis for my sick friend.  The same friend who is loosing her battle with cancer.  She's been working on a holiday store... not just Christmas, but all the holidays, and hasn't felt up to finish stocking the shelves.  So I decided to give her a hand.

There are lots of teddy bears, six wall hangings, two Halloween pull toys, and two Easter baskets.

I've got some other little things for her holiday shop in mind.  Once I get them figured out I'll be sharing them here.

That's it for this week.  See everyone next time!

Monday, September 2, 2013

No Post for September 1

FH and I just arrived home from a long weekend down south.  No post this week due to complete lack of pictures.  I'll see everyone next Sunday with at least two projects to show off.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Food for Thought

Tuesday evening I played with my favorite autumn side dish: apples 'n onions.  I decided to ignore the entire way I'd been taught to make them and instead work with the ingredients as I would with the skills I have now.

Here's the result:
Caramelized Apples 'n Onions:

1 large Videlia onion, French cut
3 medium to large apples, cored and French cut (I used Kikos)
6 Tbls. butter, divided into 1 Tbls. chunks
a good pinch of Kosher salt (to taste)
3 dashes of cinnamon (to taste)
2 dashes of cardamom (to taste)
3 c. apple juice (you will need enough liquid to cover the apples in your skillet)
1 Tbls. dark brown sugar

- Melt 2 Tbls. butter in a large skillet and saute onions until a few of them begin to brown.

- Add 2 Tbls. butter and the apples and cook until a few apples start to brown.

- Sprinkle cinnamon, cardamom, and salt over the apples and onions and pour enough apple juice over them to just cover the piece.  Raise burner heat to high and bring the juice to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat until apples are cooked through.

- Either use a slotted spoon and remove the apples and onions from the liquid or use a strainer to separate solids from liquid, returning the liquid to the pan.

- Reduce the liquid until only 1/3 volume remains, stirring in the dark brown sugar.  Remove from heat and stir in the last 2 Tbls. butter to finish the sauce.  Pour sauce over apples 'n onions.  Enjoy!

Sometimes it's worth revisiting old recipes and recreating them using new skills and knowledge.

On Wednesday and Friday I took the apples 'n onions a step further.

I started with store bought pizza crusts... I didn't have the time nor inclination to mess with making my own.  Then I made a b├ęchamel sauce and threw in some mozzarella cheese to make it lovely and gooey, a bit of dried chili flake for a kick, and a bit of salt.

Once the sauce was in place I added some apple and onion slices, carefully removed from their caramel sauce.  Then I added some of the smoked pork butt roast from Sunday's dinner.  I topped it off with a 12-year aged white cheddar cheese.

Wednesday's results showed us the idea was good, but it needed more coverage from the toppings.  For Friday's pizza, FH suggested that I cut the pork finer to give better coverage and spread the flavor around more.  We didn't skimp on the cheddar cheese on Friday either.

That's all for this week.  My store-bought pastry treat on Friday didn't agree with me.  To be blunt, I've been recovering from a suspected case of food poisoning all weekend.  Luckily, FH didn't share my treat and was spared being ill.  I think next time I'll just make my own dessert too.

See you next week!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The goldfinch's body is finished!

All that's left are the brown sections on the cattail and the rest of the background! My new skein of brown came in this week, so I can make sure I keep the dye lot the same.
I modified the eye so it would stand out more from the black cap on his head and added more white to his tail and some where his legs meet his body. After years of staring at goldfinches I kept thinking something was "off." Then it dawned on me that at this angle, I should see the white feathers on the legs and under the tail. 

Also, I may have decided on how I'm going to finish this piece, but that will require a conversation with my other favorite enabler, Brad, aka the guy who lets me play in his woodshop.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Busy Week...

...means very little crafting got done.  Ah well.  Having lovely company for a few days was worth it!

I did manage to finish the green section on the American Goldfinch needlepoint.

As you can see, I also removed the incorrectly stitched section of the cattail.  I'll have some new pearl cotton for that section in a few days.  It won't take long to restitch.

That's all for this week.  I'm hoping I'll have more time this coming week to work on fun things.  Here's hoping!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Minor Progress

Not much to report for this week.  It was fairly hectic with meetings and social events, so I wasn't home much.  No real time for either minis or stitching.  But I did get the black cap on the goldfinch done and finished up another skein of the background color.  I've also started in on finishing the cattail leaf.  
I decided I am going to remove the woven stitch on the cattail and redo it so the white doesn't show through.  However this means I can't redo it until I get another skein of the correct color and size of pearl cotton.  I'll either have to order it on line or drive to the next closest city to get it.  Paying twice the cost of the single skein for shipping is still cheaper than the gas to drive, but it doesn't sit well with me.  Besides, this way I can browse my favorite needlework shops.

I did figure out a color for the interior walls of the Peach and have one coat in place.  I have overnight company coming this week, so I need to get the second coat in place, paint the trim, and move the shop back to the dresser.  If I have time after cleaning the house, I'll get the windows and door worked on.

That's all for now.  I hope everyone has fun this coming week!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Projects and Classes

This past week really few by!  I spent Monday to Wednesday in classes taught by Susan of Foxview Needlepoint.

Monday saw myself and ten friends learning new needlepoint stitches for this American goldfinch.  Each canvas was hand-drawn by Susan.  It might take a while, but the stitches are not overly complex and the subject is something I enjoy.  This is how much I managed to complete during the class period:

Tuesday morning, ten of us (a different mix of ladies) learned the technique of rug hooking.  Most of the students chose a sheep design, two others worked pumpkins.  I brought my own kit that I found at one of the local quilt shops, a Christmas stocking ornament.  I managed to finish the hooking Tuesday afternoon at the guild meeting.

Wednesday there was a lecture on choosing colors for our needlework designs.  Nothing to really photograph for this class.  But I did get more of the Goldfinch done.  I also thought to get a picture of my canvas with the sample picture.

Somehow through all this I managed to get a second coat of paint on the Peach's exterior.  I also got the trim sections and bay window primed with gesso, and got one coat of paint on the bay window's top.

Currently Goldfinch looks like this.

I decided to change the eye section, so the two white stitches that were there are now gone.  I also decided I don't care for the more open weave on the cattail, so that's all coming out and I'll stitch it again with a tighter weave once I get a replacement skein of the correct pearl cotton.  But I did finish up 1 out of 7 total skeins for the background color!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bolts and Quarters

Happy Sunday, folks!  I'm still not feeling as great as I felt prior to Joe's untimely death.  Truthfully it's been a rough couple of weeks.  But I'm hanging as tough as I can.

I wanted mindless projects this week.  Things I could do whilst listening to the television.  So I made 24 more bolts for the quilt shop.  By the by, I've decided to call the shop "The Patchwork Peach."  Anyways, some of these fabrics came from another "scrap bin" that I'd totally forgotten about... to the tune of I discovered it in the workroom closet.  The other fabrics were given to me by two ladies in Guild.

I've started figuring out what types of fabric I'm still looking for.  It's mainly tiny holiday prints, specifically Easter, St. Patrick's Day, and Thanksgiving.  I've got a few for Valentine's Day and several for Halloween, Independence Day, and Christmas.  It would really be cool to find some for Hanukkah!  I'm also looking for prints that would be found in the "kids" section.  A few more micro ginghams and small homespun prints would also be nice.  Half the fun of making these bolts is the hunt for the fabrics!

I thought it would be fun to show all 262 miniature bolts in one photo.  Making bolts is only partially mindless, since I like to name my fabrics.

The really mindless project was folding  and gluing min fat quarters.  I doubled the amount in this bin.  I've still got a few thousand to go before I can really get started making my bundles.  But I did make it through the last part of "Waking the Dead," series 5, and all three series of "Wallander" while I worked.

I have to go back to concentrating tomorrow.  I'm taking a needlework class from 9-4pm Monday.  Then rug hooking workshop on Tuesday and attending a seminar on using colors in needlework on Wednesday!  By Thursday I'll be ready for mindlessness again.  

See you next week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Working on the Quilt Shop

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I've gotten most of the interior primed and ready for painting.  Not sure what color I'll choose, but it will probably be something neutral.

I also spent a bit of time cleaning in the workroom.  No, I don't have photos.  It's just too cluttered yo see any improvement.  However I did find some minis that I plan on using in the quilt shop.  These are all gifts from friends and family over the years.

Here's a closer view of the bunny doll and turkey decoration.  I might figure out how to make more of these.  Might.  It depends on my mood.

Also I took a picture of some furniture Aunt Pat me for the shop.

I think the table on the left will look nice with some sort of table covering and some samples and/or fat quarter bundles on it.  The cabinet needs some work, but may end up with a runner draped over one of the doors.  They are both going to stay in the attic room.  The two smaller tables will be put where ever they'll fit on the lower floors.

That's pretty much all for this week.  I've been reading some neat books on needlework I found at the library, which is taking up lots of time.

See you all next weekend!

Monday, July 8, 2013

All of the Things!

I started out moving structures around the house in the attempt at making room for a new printer when we finally get one.  The building for the quilt shop was moved upstairs, which is nice since it's currently sitting where I want it to live.
  Artie "helped."

Then I finalized my sketches for the shelving I need to construct to hold the fabric bolts.  

 I also worked on bolts for my quilt shop and cut fat quarters... lots of fat quarters.  Here are the bolts: 

Then I started making birthday gifts for my mini friends in St. Louis:

- One friend has a HUGE dollhouse that has a wonderful sewing room.  I thought some mini fat quarter bundles would be a nice addition.

- Another friend has been painting miniature watercolor landscapes for a couple of years.  I thought she might like to start her own mini artist's studio.  The portfolio is made of card and covered with a piece of real-life wallpaper that had a neat texture.  The darker "leather" is a football texture scrapbook paper.  I modified the handle from the original by wrapping waxed linen with the scrap-booking paper.  The directions are in Dolls' House Details by Kath Dalmeny.  Same for the watercolor paper with proper deckle edges.

- A third friend had missed two years' worth of birthdays and Christmases, as she was on a mission trip.  She'd been working on a mini quilt shop, so I thought some more fabric and some fat quarter bundles would be a nice addition.  She got three bolts and three bundles, plus one each for each of her last three birthdays and two Christmases.

- I designed a special piece of stitching for Aunt Pat's birthday, but I'll talk more about it further down.  It didn't get finished until Saturday.

Tuesday I woke up late to the news that a friend of ours, Joe, had passed away suddenly on Saturday and his funeral was to be Wednesday night.  That sort of derailed my train of thought for a bit.  FH came home early Tuesday and we cried for a bit.  Joe was 31 years old and it's still unclear as to why he died.  The coroner hasn't released a final report.

After going out for comfort food Tuesday I wandered over to my favorite quilt shop and spied a brilliant blue fat eighth that reminded me of Joe.  he favorite color was blue and this fabric was in the specific shade of his favorite shirt.  It begged to become a bolt of fabric in my quilt shop, so I bought it... and 15 other fat eighths that were neat.  After we got home, I made these:

As I tried to sleep that night I decided we should wear some blue to the funeral, so on Wednesday I made these pins.  They are forget-me-not flower yo-yos, made from the same blue fabric as the miniature bolt.  FH  wore the singleton on his suit jacket and I wore the group of three as a brooch on my shrug.

Then I didn't do much for the rest of Wednesday into Thursday.  Friday we drove south to see friends and I slept for most of the day.

Saturday I finished the last of the stitching on this birthday gift for Aunt Pat.  Originally I was going to turn them into cushions (1.25" square), but there isn't much room in the scene for cushions.

However she needs wall art, so whilst she's in Tuscon, AZ for the N.A.M.E. convention, she's in the market for gilded frames of the correct size.  Aunt Pat gets to visit The Mini Time Machine Museum while she's there.  I'm jealous!  I told her to watch out for witches named Tessie whilst she was there.  I'm afraid if they met there would be more work for me to do for Pat and for Casey to do for Tessie!

Anyways, the design is modified from a piece of embroidery I found in 18th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh.  During the 18th century it was popular to work designs completely in chain stitch, usually on muslin garments.  In 1759 (according to Ms. Marsh) the tambour method of embroidery was introduced in Europe.  The differences are mostly visible on the back of the work, but tambour allows for turning curves and corners better.

Aunt Pat's current roombox is set in 1755, so I used plain old chain stitch for the piece.  I chose the colors to coordinate with the doll, who is dressed in pale peach silk.  The foundation fabric is fine cotton lawn, basted onto muslin.  I will probably be the one to frame them once she gets her frames bought.  That will be on another trip south.

We got home late Sunday night.  Then I had to deal with all the unpacking, laundry sorting, oil changing, grocery buying, etc that gets done after a trip.  Happily our neighbor had invited us for dinner tonight, so there wasn't a need to do any cooking.

That's all for now.  I'm working on the quilt shop this week.  We'll see how far I get with any of that.

Running Behind

I'm late again this week for a couple of reasons.  I'll be back later this evening to actually post with pictures, etc.  See you then.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Smile for a Friend

Some people might be wondering why I've started making quilting themed miniatures all of a sudden, with no project idea mentioned.  I couldn't say before, in case a friend stumbled onto this blog, but they were gifts for a dear friend who is slowly loosing her battle with cancer.

She's both a miniaturist and a fine needlewoman, and she belongs to the same stitching guild that I'm a member of.  When I saw her in May, she told me she was thinking about making a quilt shop.  That's when I decided to create a tutorial on mini fabric bolts to share with other members of our guild so they could have some fun making bolts for her.  The plan was to also create a few other tutorials like: bags of batting, rolled fat quarters, quilt rulers, and maybe even a few tiny quilt blocks.  We'd spend all summer making her little things and then give everything to her in September.

However we were all given the bad news... the chemo isn't working.  So I sped things up by quite a bit and focused on the basics: fabric bolts and fat quarters.  The first group of ladies went to work two weeks ago on bolts.  That's when a friend came up with the adorable fat quarter bundles.

I spent the next several days basically kitting up the supplies for more people to make bolts and glued/folded close to one thousand (or more) mini fat quarters to be made into bundles.  FH helped lots with the fat quarters.  He even made two bolts of fabric.

Here is the result of this labor of love:  221 bolts of fabric (many are signed by the ladies who rolled them), 107 fat quarter bundles, a basket of fat quarters and scrap basket (made by me), and a "store sample" quilt and mini hanks of fibers for embroidery (made by the friend who created the first bundle).  The collective work of 21 people is in these pictures.

Another mutual friend who is both a stitcher and miniaturist made some lovely minis on her own, but I didn't manage to get pictures.  She did 12 fabric bolts, 12 rolls fat quarters, some adorable storage boxes, several quilting magazines, and three "store sample" quilts.

Most of the fabrics we used came out of my stash... or I went and bought some, but seven other ladies raided their stashes or went and purchased fabrics after seeing examples of what would work.  Two more offered to scour their stashes as well, but the quilt shop will already be overflowing.

Everyone had a wonderful time making the minis, and our friend was so happy and surprised that we thought of her.  I will admit she got a bigger smile on her face when I told her that two of our stitching friends now want to make their own miniature quilt shops.  So I'll be coming up with more tutorials after all.

I'm hoping to get them started on their shops soon, so our friend can watch their progress.  She's having a hard time seeing fine details now and can't use anything sharp (x-actos and saws), so I'll be helping her build her newest dollhouse kit on the days she feels well enough to order me around.  I'll also be working on my own quilt shop.  Something will need to be done with the results from creating the tutorials.

I also need to buckle down and finish the Panda Nursery, even though it's future is unknown.  I stopped working on it when my dad fell and broke his hip... followed by my mother needing emergency surgery... resulting in many trips down south to help them take care of things.  Then Tempie passed away and I started falling into a deep depression.

To make things worse, Shirley informed me that her daughter-in-law, the baby's mother, was divorcing her son and was preventing her from seeing the baby.  I honestly didn't know how to proceed after that point, in fact I was unsure of even asking Shirley about the project for fear of upsetting her.  Enough time has passed now that her hurt is less raw and I'm in a better mental and emotional state to handle finishing everything up.  It bothers me seeing the unfinished room and the boxes filled with the wonderful minis from people all over the world just sitting there.

I'm not sure what Shirley will want to do with the nursery when it's done.  But I'm going to finish it anyway.

So the projects on the horizon will be:
- creating tutorials for more quilting miniatures
- the Panda Nursery
- my own quilt shop
- helping three ladies with their quilt shops
- gifts for my StL mini group folks' birthdays and Christmas
- the Black Bear cross stitch
- the Aragon Blackwork
- whatever else strikes my fancy