Thursday, December 29, 2011

CCN and SG Ornament Finishes

My intention was to have these finished before Christmas but I got a little side-tracked with making the girls doll blankets and bags. But that's O.K., I got them done before the new year so it's all good. Merry and Bright is from Country Cottage Needleworks. This particular pattern was in Just Cross Stitch Ornament Collection 2010. I love every single CCN pattern there is! Love the designs, the light colors, everything!

Good Tidings to You is designed by The Sampler Girl and can be found in Just Cross Stitch 2011 Ornament Collection. Once I saw it I knew I had to make it. Like CCN, The Sampler Girl is another of my favorite designers. I have quite a few patterns from both designers that I'd like to work on over the next year.
I've been thinking a lot about what projects I'd like to complete and others I'd like to begin in the new year. Just thinking about them all makes me smile! What are your needlework plans for the new year?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

As I've watched my little ones redecorate the tree for the last several weeks, I realized we all enjoy the tree in different ways. For me, my husband and older children, it's memories through the ornaments, remembering Christmas' past, while for the younger ones it's playing with the ornaments, restringing the beads, watching the twinkling lights and anticipating with excitement the coming celebration of Jesus' birthday. May this Christmas season bring you much joy, love and peace. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies!

Seeing that my kids ate all the cookies from the Christmas Cookie Swap, I needed to make a few so I would have a platter come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Here's what I came up with:
Linzer Cookies, those pretty ones with the raspberry peeking through, Homemade Peppermint Oreos, those chocolate sandwich cookies, White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread, the pretty pink ones there, and Pineapple Turnovers, the ones with the red sparkly sugar on top.
I've made Linzer cookies before but may have used a different recipe. This one was good, but next time I'll cut back on the lemon peel. A little too lemony for my taste. Otherwise they're good. The Peppermint Oreos are yummy. I didn't have any peppermint extract so I improvised with Creme De Mint that's been sitting in my 'fridge since last Christmas. The White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread are delicious and the Pineapple Turnovers are good too, although I should have rolled the dough much thinner. Next time, I'll cut them into squares and fold in the corners. They'll be much prettier, will allow more filling in each cookie and won't be so doughy. So it wasn't the recipe, just my need to learn how to make them.
I'm going to make Raspberry Swirl Cheese Cupcakes for dessert, too. I made those last week to take to my cross-stitch group Christmas party and they were really good. Really good! And the usual jelly rolls will find their way onto our table, too, just like they do every year. Goodness, once this feasting is over I'll need to walk and exercise extra!
As I was uploading the cookie pic I saw this one. This is my oldest daughter, Kaleigh, and my oldest son's dog, Billy. Billy is a hound/mix and as lovable as can be. He's a great guard dog, too, and now that my poodle, Cookie, is 14, blind and deaf, he watches over and takes care of him every time they go outside.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm Sewing As Fast As I Can

I had all my shopping pretty much done and wrapping under control, but still was falling behind some with a few handmade gifts I wanted to do. Not homeschooling this week has been a great break and has allowed me to indulge myself in some cooking, baking, embroidery, cross-stitching and sewing.
This little doll quilt was made from scraps and fat quarters I had in my stash. I thought this little scottie dog would be cute for Kierra's new doll she'll get for Christmas.

Caressa will get a new "baby", too, and seeing as she loves kitties, I thought she would like to keep her new doll warm with this one. I googled in for free patterns of cat and scottie dog and found these. This was a two evening project for each. They were a fun little project and I think my little ones will like them.

We've had a stomach virus visiting our house the last couple days so once I came home from Mass yesterday morning we didn't go out again. (Gee, it sounds like we go even if we're sick, which isn't the case; one was sick and stayed home, and the next one got sick over the course of the day) Anyway, seeing that I wasn't going anywhere too soon, I thought I'd make these two cute little bags for my girlies to carry around their little itty-baby dolls they'll get. I tend to go overboard a bit on the doll buying every year, much to my husband's teasing. I just can't help myself. Ah, well... as you can see I used the same scrap fabric found in the little quilts. I found the sweet embroidery pattern by seeing another blog and just free-handed the pattern. I thought it would be O.K. seeing I'm not selling the bags, just making them for my own kiddoes to enjoy.

Here is one of my favorite gifts I came up with this year for my brother: a man's chocolate basket! I filled it with Munson's chocolates, Starbucks Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix and a few nippers; Khalua, Chocolate Liquor and Irish Whiskey. I almost want to keep it for myself!

Lots of cookie baking going on, too. These were my contribution this year. I made twelve dozen. Out of the eleven dozen I came home with plus my dozen I now have one dozen left. My kids nearly went through the entire tray of cookies. Little piggies! This is a really bad picture. The cookies really are quite beautiful and festive. I'm just a terrible photographer... I'm in the process of baking more cookies so I'll be back with more pictures and recipes.

Along with cookie baking, we made pierogi on Sunday! This is a tradition we do each year and I corral in anyone that's willing to help. They are a lot of work, but oh, so worth it! Here is our family recipe. I make 3 double recipes:
1 beaten egg
2-1/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk - hot
2 TBS butter
Melt butter and milk together - cool 'til warm. Add rest of ingredients and mix with hands to make a nice dough.
Potato and Cheese
Boil four peeled potatoes, mash. Add butter and 1-1/2 lbs of Farmer's Cheese. Mix.

Saurkraut Filling
Brown salt pork til crispy. Toss salt pork and to the grease brown chopped onion. Rinse saurkraut (I usually use one large can and one small bag of saurkraut). Place in bowl and mix kraut with grease. I know, not the healthiest thing here but hey, it's only once a year!

How to Make pierogi...
Roll out dough nice and thin; a little thinner than a ravioli. Take a glass and cut circles. Dip your finger in some water and trace around the edge of the dough to help it stick. Fill with a small spoonful of filling and fold dough over itself and stick together. Use the backside of a fork to press down the edge. Once all the pierogi are made, place in boiling water for 10 minutes. This step needs to be done in batches and takes awhile. We do it on a propane cooker in the garage. One year we broke a glass 9x13 by cooking them on the stove. Another year we burned out our microwave from the steam from the top of the stove going up to where the microwave is (over the stove). So... we learned our lesson and do it out in the garage!
Once all the pierogi are made (and yes, you'll have some "blow-outs" as we call them, where the edges come apart and the filling leaks) it's time to freeze them or put in the 'fridge.
When it's time to actually eat them, we like to brown them in a bit of butter.

We ended up making over 12 dozen. I stopped counting after that. It's always an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gingerbread House and Mittens

We're just finishing up a bit of schoolwork this week and will be at our half-way mark for the year! Time for a much needed break! The girls decided to make a gingerbread house one afternoon this week. It turned out very cute!

I've been busy with several projects that I hope to have done by Christmas. The brown mittens are for my sister-in-law. I used Red Heart yarn (which, quite honestly, I snobbishly have refused to use in the past) and was surprisingly pleased with the feel and outcome. I think they will be warm and very durable; they can be thrown in the washer and dryer without worry! I am making the cream colored pair for Kierra out of Loops and Threads Impeccable. Surprisingly, this yarn is a pleasure to work with too, and I think they will be a very serviceable pair of mittens for her. I'm using my favorite pattern, here, although I do change the top of the pattern so it doesn't come out quite so pointy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Birdie Sling Bag

Busy days have taken over, lately. As Christmas nears, it seems there's so much to do, and normal life keeps beating away too, making the days fly by. Every day this week was filled with one outing for some reason or other. Schoolwork and planning a surprise birthday party for my husband tomorrow have kept me going. Yesterday morning was spent at the bridal shop wedding gown shopping with my soon to be daughter-in-law. These things are so very enjoyable and are truly what makes life exciting and fun!
My husband was out this morning, rare on a weekend morning, but very helpful! I was able to bring the little ones to a Breakfast with Santa which was ridiculously delicious! We live in a small farming town; the sausage and bacon was from a pork farm in town, the maple syrup was from the Maple Corner Farm up the hill, and the milk was from the dairy farm down the street! We were able to eat our oh-so-fresh breakfast and then go into the next town over and get what we need to make appetizers for my husband's birthday party... all on the sly! The kids are so excited.
Because I don't want to get run down, I stop every night after the little ones are snug in their beds, to sit down with some cross-stitch, knitting, or lately, some sewing. I really wanted to get this Birdie Sling Bag finished for Kaleigh for Christmas. She's getting a snowboard, boots and bindings as her 'real' gift, but I wanted her to have a few other things to open without spending too much more. Knowing she loves my sling bag, I thought she'd really like one of her own, so this is it! I think she'll like it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sew Happy Sew Along Christmas Banner

My Sew Happy Christmas Banner is hanging across the mantle! This was an eight week sew along; each week was a redwork pattern and the last week was the finishing instructions. Although it was free, now the pattern is offered for seven dollars (I think).

As you can see, each square is happy and delightful!

It wasn't hard to complete each week because it wasn't overwhelming.

My time is pretty limited, so it took me two evenings during the week to complete each square.

I looked forward to each Friday to see what pattern was next!

My kids even looked forward to see what vision of Christmas I was working on.

I can't believe how quickly the weeks went by. Before I knew it...
the last pattern was up and the following week the instructions were given. I was very impressed with how clear the finishing instructions were and how nicely they turned out. I especially like the covered buttons and the red and white gingham! It just enhances the country(ish), childlike look I was hoping for.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Season of Advent & A Trip to Vermont

Today, the first Sunday of Advent; could it be, already? Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord! Last year we were told to Wait... this year we are told to Watch!
I decided to make a new advent wreath as our old one was looking rather tired. I went to Michaels and purchased a new container, some floral foam, moss and candles. Frugal, easy and oh, so pretty...

I made this wreath for my sister-in-law this year. As I was heading out the door today, I thought I would hang it up on my front door to snap a picture before delivering it to her as an early Christmas present. To keep the wreath reasonably priced, I bought the bulbs last year and put it together the other night. This is a very easy wreath to make as all you do is shape a coat hanger into a circle, wire each bulb using florist wire and slide onto the hanger. When it's nice and full, twist the hanger top back so nothing slides off, make a pretty ribbon using wired ribbon and you're done! I made one last year for myself in blues and pinks. It looks very pretty above the mantle.

We recently took a trip to Vermont...

What a beautiful state Vermont is! We visited The Vermont Country Store. What a fun trip that was!

If you ever get a chance, go there! It's a walk down memory lane, that's for sure!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Knitted Bottom Drawstring Pouch

I have long wanted to make one of these pouches that I've seen on other blogs. I couldn't quite get the right measurements or pull the method together, myself. I ended up asking one of my friends from my cross-stitch group (who knows how to do every kind of needlework and has mastered them all!) how to make the bag. Just as I thought, not only did she know how to do it but gave me step-by-step instructions to make it! She surely didn't let me down!
I had this piece of embroidery from quite awhile ago. I did it on some monthly embroidery group but never put it together with the rest of the blocks. So, it didn't go to waste! Now that I tried my first one, I'd like to make a few more. Next time I'm going to use some of the vintage bureau scarves I've collected over the years. I think they are lovely and this project will showcase them well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stitchiing, Baking, Daytripping and Relaxation

One of my current finishes, Jane Austen Love Letter by The Sampler Girl
is finally hanging on my husband's closet door. I wanted to complete it for our 28th anniversary in August but didn't quite make it. Well, the intention was there... as well as the sentiment. I changed up the linen and colors a bit to better match our room. It's a bit dark but pretty just the same.

Just before bed, I've been reading quite a bit. I just finished Excellent Wives by Barbara Pym. I liked the book a lot; very Jane Austen(ish) written in the English style I love so much. Just thinking about it makes me want to make myself another cup of tea. The book is quite funny in the usual English, dry humor kind of way. It is a bit anti-Roman Catholic as a the characters are Anglo-Catholic but I found the degrading references rather funny. Nothing too bad, mind you, but to someone else more sensitive it may be annoying. If you can overlook that it's surely worth a read; very relaxing and funny. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

I've been promising my little girls that they could Ding-Dong-Ditch the neighbors with some kind of treat. Saturday morning we made the delicious baked doughnuts using this recipe.

They turned out wonderfully and were delicious. My neighbors really enjoyed their unexpected treat and the surprise game of ringing the doorbell, running away and finding a treat at their doorstep. My girls enjoyed the game immensely. All my kids have played this game about twice a year with our neighbors wherever we lived. We always pick neighbors that do not have children living at home any longer. It teaches my kids good will toward others and brings happiness to those that enjoy a little child(ish) humor now and then.

Sunday brought another beautiful day so we headed out to Marlborough, CT for a picnic and stroll through The Old Country Store. What beautiful things they have in there!
Today brings lots of sunshine and cool temps which equals a good incentive to get our schoolwork done early so we can go outside this afternoon and soak up what's left of fall. Mixie, our kitty is enjoying the sunshine on the windowsill right next to the little ones work table. Let the sun shine in! Hope your day is sparkling, too!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Storm Pictures

That nasty storm didn't stop my three littlies from Trick or Treating last night; all four houses! LOL... they came home with lots of candy though; our neighbors are pretty generous!

Playing cards on my bed by the solar lights we normally have lighting the walkway... they make great "candles".
A big tree down in our backyard, just barely missing the pool house...

but it did take down my clothesline. :( Luckily it didn't hit the snowmobile!

Gary and the boys had some fun cutting it down. They still have a lot more work ahead of them.

A line of traffic trying to get your 7 gallon ration of gas...

Someone's front yard with downed trees... Apparently they have a lot of work to do, too!

Trees down in the road...

Not fun trying to get around...

This is the main road going into town... we ended up coming back as the road was getting worse as we went...

Yea... it wasn't getting any better...

as you can see...

Lincoln doesn't seem too bothered by the snow...

Kyle's Jeep is as a bit buried.

One more shot from the van... this man was trying to cut some of the tree to let people go by, or maybe to get the firewood... either way, it was a help!
Well, things are not quite back to normal but it's getting there. Still no gas to be found but at least we have our power back!