Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve Day

Hello friends and followers! Thank you for hanging out while I took a little break from my blog posts. Like most, the holiday season has been a little hectic for me, as I struggled to balance family/friends, holiday plans, and my business obligations. I sure could use a "sewing day" to clear my head and regroup. I have been frantically working on two teaching designs for 2010...stitching so much, my fingers are bleeding. I have also been trying to get several new designs "in-the-works" for the Nashville Needlearts Market in February. Things here have been insane to say the least, and I am starting have a short fuse. I did have a lovely Christmas holiday, made so very special by my good friends and family....and it was definitely a white Christmas, as snow has continued to fall here on a daily basis.

Speaking of snowfall, I wanted to share this beautiful ornament with you! This snowflake arrived in my mailbox yesterday, all the way from England....and let me tell you, the photo does not do it justice. This lovely hand-beaded ornament came from Lindsay and it is gorgeous! Lindsay posted on an earlier blog entry (December 5th) that she would like to do a snowflake ornament exchange with I sent her some machine embroidered snowflakes and she sent me this beautiful work of art - thank you Lindsay!

As 2009 comes to a close, I would like to thank all of you for supporting my blog journey and Blue Ribbon Designs. You continue to inspire me with your creativity, kindness, and generous spirits! 2009 has been a successful year for me (and my business) and that would not be possible without each and every one of you. As we prepare for 2010, take a moment to reflect on the past year and all the many blessings you have in your life...look at all the beautiful stitching and/or sewing projects you have accomplished. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2010 filled with joy, laughter, and creativity!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Wrapping - Do You Foof??

Here is another one of my favorite things...this holiday season, I have been glossing all my gifts!
If you haven't heard of the FoofQueens or GiftGloss, then you must visit their website: "Foofing", also known as "glossing", is a great new way to spruce up and embellish your gifts...and I warn you, it is highly addictive! GiftGloss is a clear, tubular wrap that comes with its own can slide your gift into the GiftGloss alone (as a clear wrap)...or roll/wrap your gift in tissue paper before sliding into the GiftGloss to conceal the gift. You can tie each of the ends with ribbon (these are called "piggy" tails) or you can pull the excess to the top and tie a "pony" tail. My favorite part is finding the perfect tie-on to embellish the gift. The FoofQueens website has all sorts of inspiring photos and will be amazed at the creativity. I have been enjoying my first "foofed" Christmas...finding fun ways to wrap my is also a fabulous way to cover baked gifts and treats!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Trio Giveaway Winner

Happy holidays all....thank you for reading and following my blog...and thank you for your fun giveaway entries! I wish there could be more than one recipient, as I enjoy ALL of you. Remember, there will be more giveaways in 2010 (I promise!). The random generator chose lucky number 23...which is Kellie....Kellie, I will be emailing you.

I still have a few holiday things to post I will be back with more...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Teacups & Tiaras

First of all, my final giveaway of 2009 is still going on...see my blog entry from yesterday (December 17th) to enter for your chance to win...

Last night was our local EGA (Valley Junction Chapter) holiday party...and what a nice evening it was! I was disappointed not all of us could fit in one room, so several of us were left to sit in an adjoining room; this made it very difficult to be involved or hear the festivities...but I didn't let that ruin my night....our little group made our own fun! The holiday party committee did a fabulous job...and planned a special tea party at one of my favorite spots in Historic Valley Junction called Teacups and Tiaras. The entire evening had a tea party theme...each place setting had a teacup pincushion and a goodie bag...including a specially made laying tool with teacup and tiara charms...and a hand folded teabag with counting pins inside...all made by the talented committee members. The dinner was delicious...and I kid you not, the dessert was one of the best I have ever tasted (think Oreo cookie crust, peppermint ice cream, with a chocolate fudge frosting - garnished with a dab of whip cream and crushed peppermint candies)! Each year, for those who want to participate, we do a handmade ornament exchange...pictured below is the ornament I stitched (Lizzie Kate's "Noel Squared") and the ornament I received - stitched by member Sharon B. (Blackbird Designs "Peace" from the 2009 JCS Ornament Issue)...I absolutely LOVE my ornament and it will make a nice addition to my nonexistent tree (I know, I know, I really need to get a tree....I hear you!)....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Giveaway - Trio Of Gifts

I promised yesterday I would be back with a share my group gift...and to have another holiday giveaway, so here I am!

We all know I love to play with my sewing machine, so yesterday as my gift to each stitcher in our little group, I brought a basket full of zippered pocket tissue cases...all made from holiday fabric. I had so much fun spending some time at my sewing machine and making all of these...but even more fun giving them away! I featured these fun little pocket tissue cases in my homemade holiday gift ideas (number four), so if you would like to read more about them see my post from November 21st.

Now on to my final giveaway for the year...and I think it is a pretty good one! If you have been reading my blog and following my gift ideas, then you will recognize each of these items. One lucky recipient will win: a pocket tissue case (with tissues), a holiday pincushion, and a humbug bag (the three pieces shown in the photo)! ...and yes, I made all three of the pieces with my own two hands. Here is what you need to do to be eligible for this prize:

Simply leave a comment to this post (you must leave a comment, email entries will not be accepted) telling me your favorite Christmas carol or holiday song...or favorite Christmas story or TV special...and you will be in a random drawing to win the final giveaway of the year. I will post the winner Sunday, December 20th; I will use the random generator to choose one lucky recipient from all the entries. PLEASE leave your email address or make sure it is in your profile - entries without a valid email address will not be eligible. Check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner - I will be contacting the winner by email - if I have your information in time, your prize will go out in Priority Mail on Monday - in time to receive it before Christmas (an overseas winner may have to be a little more patient with the post)!

Good luck to all...and thank you for reading/following!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Feeling So Blessed...

Today was my local stitch group's holiday gathering...and what a delightful time we had! I hadn't been in the most festive of mood this year, but that changed today - there is nothing like stitching and sharing with friends...add to that good food, hot cider, and special gifts...all in a fabulous holiday atmosphere...I feel completely refreshed and much more in the Christmas spirit! I have some of the most talented, creative, and generous friends. You all know I absolutely love opening tiny presents...could be a pencil or a toothbrush, but if it is wrapped, I am "over the moon" - so what a surprise today when we all found out each of us had brought gifts for the whole group...we had so much fun stitching, exchanging packages, laughing, and catching up...what a joyous way to spend part of my day - I am feeling so very blessed! To my stitching friends - thank you for making this day so very special...

Shown in the photos - lovely treasures from our gift exchange: top right - a handmade prairie point (fabric) pine cone ornament...below (L to R) - Red Raspberry Jam, Mill Hill Holiday Pin Kit, Handmade Tapestry Threader, Handmade (by 10-year-old child) Beaded Ornament Hanger, Handmade Scissor Fob, Tweezers (the most unique ones I have seen), DMC variegated floss, and Vanilla Chai drink mix.
Check back tomorrow to see the gift I brought for everyone...and for your chance to win one in a new holiday giveaway!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number Seven

Today's homemade holiday gift idea is a quilted journal...and although, these may look complicated to make, they might actually be easier than you think! I have shown a couple of these to you before, but yesterday I made four more for gifts. The ones shown below have the recipient's name embroidered on the cover; therefore, I have chosen to "white out" the names until the gifts are received. The cover actually fits over a composition notebook that can easily be found at any office supply store - it measures 9 3/4" h x 7 1/2"w. The supply list is minimal...this is a great project for using up scrap fabric...and they can easily be embellished with all sorts of trims, buttons, and/or embroidery. Best of all, there are two FREE patterns available online! The pattern used for the samples in the photos is from an older Quilts and More Quarterly Challenge and can be found in PDF form on the website. For a slightly smaller version (made to fit a spiral bound A5 art diary 8 1/4" h x 6 1/4" w) visit the Moda Bake Shop Blog for an excellent tutorial called "Journal Covers". These journals are the perfect size for making a list, taking notes, or writing down your personal thoughts....and make a lovely holiday gift!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Something Adorable, Something Elegant, Something Sweet

Today I have three fun things to share with you...something adorable, something elegant, and something sweet! Let's start out with the "something adorable"...
This special Christmas Ornament is so totally awesome...the photo just doesn't do it justice! It is called "Willy's Gift" and was designed (and stitched) by Michelle Lutzen of Stitchy Kitty. This ornament was part of The Busy Needle Diabetes Ornament Tree, a yearly fundraiser benefiting local diabetes charities. This is the 10th year Sara has hosted this increasing popular fundraiser...and each year, she outdoes herself. This year included the "always talked about" ornament tree (with a cross stitch freebie packet available with donation), an eBay auction, and raffle items...and the festivities continue through December 31st...visit The Busy Needle webpage for more details on this fantastic cause. I was lucky enough to be the high bidder on this fabulous ornament...signed on the back by the designer! If you are not familiar with Stitchy Kitty designs, please check out Michelle's website...her fun and whimsical designs always make me smile....and she even has some freebie treats just for stopping by! (I know what you are thinking...Belinda, you really need to get a Christmas tree...)
Next, "something elegant" gorgeous are these beaded needlework accessories?! The were made by Tommye at TJB Designs...and I absolutely LOVE them. Check out the TJB Designs Etsy Store for more of these great pieces in the photo include a scissor fob, counting/marking pins, and three needle threaders...and I love them all! Tommye does a fabulous job...the craftsmanship was top notch and even the packaging was special...and as a nice surprise, she included a brand new shiny needle with my order! For an additional treat visit her blog (she gets more stitching projects done than anyone I know!)...I have been having fun following her holiday list and seeing all the amazing gifts she has been making...

Finally, "something sweet"...last night we had a holiday party to attend and of course I brought a tray of cookies. These are one of my favorites (and my husband likes them too!)...
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Star Cookies
1 bag chocolate stars
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar (for rolling dough before baking)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate star into the center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. This recipe makes about 4 dozen "yummy" cookies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snowflake Recipients

Thank you all so much for your entries in my snowflake holiday giveaway! The holiday memories and stories were all uplifting and fun to read...and I am so thankful I have the random generator to pick the winners, as I honestly could not do it on my own (there were so many wonderful posts!). I have had a difficult time getting in the holiday spirit this year and I appreciate you reminding me what the season is all about...

So, without further ado...the grand prize winner is:
Post #1
Catherine, you will receive 6 of my large specially made snowflakes!

Now what fun would it be to only have one winner...your stories put me in a holiday mood, so I have chosen three more "runner-up" winners, each of who will receive one large snowflake! ...and these lucky recipients are:

Post#37 Mare

Post#22 Lisa

Post#4 Tommye

Congratulations to all! Recipients, you will receive an e-mail from me. Thank you again to all the participants - I enjoyed each and every one of your stories and memories. You know I love to give things away, so there will definitely be future giveaways...stay tuned...

Thank you for reading and following my blog!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snowflakes...and a Holiday Giveaway!

If you are on my Christmas card list, then chances are you have seen one of these snowflakes before! As you know from many of my previous blog posts, I love stationery, note cards, and sending letters in the mail...and Christmas is no different! My husband and I send out just over 100 cards each year...and many include one of my lace snowflakes. I start early in the season and make well over 100 of these snowflakes, then tuck them inside of cards and tie them on packages. These are made on my embroidery machine...and are technically called "free-standing lace"...they are made entirely of thread! For those of you not familiar with an embroidery machine...using digitized designs, the machine embroiders the snowflakes on water-soluble stabilizer...once the design is stitched, you put it in water and the stabilizer dissolves, leaving you with a beautiful piece of lace made completely of embroidery thread. I like to put a piece of white ribbon through the hanger on each snowflake before placing it in a card or on a gift. Shown in the photos...a small selection of embroidered right are mini snowflakes (average size 1 1/2" - 2" square)...shown below are larger snowflakes (average size is 3 1/2" - 4" square).

Now for the fun part! How would you like to win some of my embroidered snowflakes?? is your chance! How do you enter?? - simply leave a comment to this post (you must leave a comment, email entries will not be accepted) with a holiday idea, holiday story, or something about the holidays you would like to share with me and my readers...and you will be in a random drawing to win a set of six large snowflake ornaments (of my choosing). Next Saturday, December 12th, I will use the random generator to choose one lucky recipient from all the entries. PLEASE leave your email address or make sure it is in your profile - entries without a valid email address will not be eligible. We may have multiple winners depending on the amount of entries....

Good luck....and Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

From My Kitchen...

We all have those "go to" recipes...the ones when you have a family gathering or a potluck that everyone wants you to bring...the ones that everyone asks for the "go to" recipe is for stuffed mushrooms. I started out years ago with a basic recipe and have continued to make changes...years later, I have finally tweaked my own recipe to (what I think is) perfection. So, here is my original recipe...from my kitchen to yours...happy holidays and enjoy!

Blue Ribbon Stuffed Mushrooms
1 Pound of mushrooms (washed and stems removed)
3 tablespoons margarine (softened, not melted)
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (I like to use a red pepper)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup Feta cheese (crumbled)
2 strips of cooked bacon (crumbled) (real bacon bits make it easier!)
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs (I like to use moistened Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing mix)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (fresh ground is best!)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon thyme

Mix all ingredients except mushroom caps in a bowl - blending ingredients well. If your mixture seems a little dry, add some chicken broth or stock (or water) to the mixture to moisten. Fill mushroom caps with mixture. Place stuffed mushrooms in a lightly greased baking dish, then bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Stuffing mixture can be made and refrigerated a day early for stuffing the mushrooms the day of your event. ...and of course, the measurements don't have to be exact, this is just a guideline for ingredients - I usually just "eyeball" the measurements! I always make these during the holidays and they are a BIG hit...

Thursday, December 3, 2009


A trip to Williams-Sonoma last weekend (I love this store!) found me with new cookie cutters...and high expectations. I had read about their exclusive new Message-in-a-Cookie Holiday Cookie Cutters and couldn't wait to try them out! I really enjoy being in the kitchen and especially baking, so these were right up my alley. They come with words and letters that allow you to personalize your holiday cookies...and they actually worked with ease. It takes a little time to insert the letters...but they work like a charm. I followed the recipe and the directions included with the cookie cutters and had no issues with dough sticking...and they turned out delicious! The kit comes with three cookie cutters: a gingerbread man, an ornament, and a snowflake...and there is a huge assortment of letters and multiple words included. Clean up is easy - the letters come with a mesh bag that is safe for the top rack of your dishwasher. Now I just have to brush up on my decorating skills...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Dirty Little Secret...

My close friends will tell you, I love Longaberger....baskets, pottery, furniture, you name fact, one might say I am a Longaberger addict. So when I saw the new Collector's Club Wrought Iron Tree (made especially for their Backyard Bird Ornament Collection), I immediately thought it would be fun to use for displaying my seasonal handmade ornaments. I was so excited when this tree arrived in November - just in time to display some of my many Christmas holiday ornaments! Shown in the photos: my tree with a small collection of ornaments (my designs)...and a photo of it's intended use with the Backyard Bird Ornament Collection. This tree is a great size at 24"l x 6"w x 20"h and the base can easily be removed to hang on the wall. It is definitely one of my new favorite things!

Another thing my close friends will tell you...although I have designed over 100 Christmas ornaments and have a HUGE collection of stitched pieces, I am yet to have a Christmas tree. Each year I think will be the year I finally purchase a tree. I have fond childhood memories of picking out a tree each year and having our house smell like pine...I would love to have a freshly cut tree...but alas, I don't think that is the best option for a tree full of linen stitched I have toyed with the idea of getting a GOOD faux tree (for six years now) and just haven't jumped in and purchased one. I get so busy around holiday time and it just never seems to happen...each year I have the best intentions, and yet our house is still "treeless". So there you have it, my dirty little secret...I love the holidays...I love designing for Christmas...and just maybe, one day I will have a tree to decorate....