Saturday, December 31, 2011

With Needle And Brush

In October 2010, while on a teaching trip for Stitcher's Hideaway, I was blessed to be able to visit the "With My Needle and Brush: Schoolgirl Embroidery from the Connecticut River Valley" exhibit on display at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT. This exhibition was on display from October 2, 2010 - January 30, 2011 (exhibit program seen right). The guest curators were Carol and Stephen Huber and their marvelous display included approximately seventy embroideries, watercolor sketches, and portraits - most were from private collections (rarely seen) - and all in excellent collection. I was in awe as I studied the various techniques and read the histories - the use of silk was incredible and I was quite surprised at many of the materials used. Although no photography was allowed in the exhibit halls, I still have a clear vision of many works in my head, as they were absolutely breathtaking.

At the time of the exhibit, I was able to pre-order the 112 page book that featured this amazing exhibit - With Needle and Brush: Schoolgirl Embroidery from the Connecticut River Valley, 1740-1840 by Carol and Stephen Huber, Susan P. Schoelwer, and Amy Kurtz Lansing (and this wonderful book was finally released in late October 2011). This is the first book to explore schoolgirl needlework of the Connecticut River Valley - identifying the distinctive styles developed by teachers and students at schools from New Hampshire to Long Island Sound. This gorgeous book contains 89 illustrations - 80 of which are in color - and is definitely a lovely complement to any sampler book collection. Each sampler plate contains detailed information and object entries by the Hubers, making this a wonderful historical research/reference book for those interested in historical needlework. I purchased the cloth hardcover edition, but there is a paper cover version available, as well.

For more information and details for purchasing this extraordinary book, visit the website of Stephen & Carol Huber...if you have an interest in historic needlework, then this brilliant reference will not let you is a gorgeous representation of a phenomenal needlework exhibit.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sewing For The Kitchen

I have one final handmade gift to share with you - it is a kitchen set. One side of the apron and the center of the pot holders came from a fabric panel (Potpourri by Grace Pullen licensed to South Sea Imports)...and with a little help from my friend Merry, I was able to pick a great coordinating fabric for the other side of the apron, the border and back of the pot holders, and the hanging tabs for the kitchen towels (Saltbox Harvest by Deb Strain for Moda). The fabric panel started the ideas flowing and when finished I had this fabulous kitchen gift set. I like a heavier apron, so I oped to make the apron reversible, with the printed panel on one side and the coordinating fabric on the other - I like that you can choose the side you want to wear on any particular day. I also added a border and hanging loops to the printed panel fabric for the pot holders - it made them a much better size at 10" square (plus I thought the added border gave them a more professional finished look). Finally, my mother-in-law has been wanting a good set of hanging kitchen towels for quite some time - she has mentioned it to me on multiple I decided to make a matching set. I tried to find a close matching kitchen towel, cut it in half to make two finished towels, and made hang tabs...I opted for a button and buttonhole to make them easy to hang up and take down for laundering - I was very pleased with the results and now need to make some for my own kitchen.

This last gift is being delivered this afternoon - we are having dinner with my in-laws at a local restaurant to celebrate should be a nice relaxing evening. I really enjoyed making my Christmas gifts this year - I found joy in the creating and even more joy in the giving. I hope you are on the giving or receiving end of some handmade holiday gifts - they seem to make the season just a little more special....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Christmas...

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves” - this quote by Edna Buchanan comes to mind as I type this post today. I am so very blessed to have an amazing small circle of friends to call family. Today was Christmas with my two very dear friends, Merry and Kimber...we had such a wonderful afternoon. We met at a local cafe for lunch to celebrate the holidays - and what a marvelous time we had! If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know the three of us tend to go "overboard" each time we get together...and Christmas gives us yet another excuse to spoil each other with gifts! Lunch was delicious and filled with conversation and giggling...and I enjoyed every minute of it...Merry and Kimber truly inspire me and always lift my spirits and encourage me. After lunch, Merry ordered a trio of desserts for us to share that was "sinful" to say the least - it was a lovely sampling of sweet treats...and then it was time for our annual Christmas gift exchange. I have to tell you, this post might be a little long, as there were so many gifts to open...the restaurant host was wise to put us in a corner booth, as it seemed we were there for hours!

I always make a special gift or two for both Merry and Kimber...and then I like to give them some small purchased items...and I always like to give each of them a nice hardcover book to add to their shelves. This year, I made Merry a knitting needle case (which was much more labor intensive than I anticipated, but I was thrilled with the results when it was finished) and a matching large, lined drawstring bag (both were made from the retired fabric line Madeira by Blackbird Designs for Moda - one of her favorites). For Kimber, I made a personalized quilted journal cover and a matching large, lined drawstring bag out of some pink/brown owl fabric that I know she loves (Life's A Hoot by Tammy Anderson for ADORNit). I had so much fun filling their drawstring bags with wrapped goodies (I brought each of them items back from CA and NH) and choosing the books for this year's exchange!

Now - get ready to be inspired, as I share with you the unique items they gifted me this year!

I started by opening Kimber's gifts - and first, I have to share her wrapping paper and decorative box with you - both were adorned with owls! I had to carefully open my presents to save the paisley owl Christmas paper...and the LARGE Chinese takeout style box is one of the cutest I have ever seen - I have to find a fun use for it...

Kimber has the very best taste and finds the most unique and personal gifts - I was just blown away when opening the packages from her! The box was filled with tiny treasures - a special Fiskars paper punch, decorative adhesive tapes, vintage wooden spools, a charm pack of fabulous fabric (Full Circle by Kathy Schmitz for Moda), a lovely notepad, and a package of pretty floss bobbins!

In the large bag, there were several incredible gifts - check out this FABULOUS sewing bird - I LOVE him (or her). This pincushion is about 6.5" H x 9.5" W...and the wings are pockets. Kimber put a package of vintage rick rack in one of the pockets...and the other had vintage look needle packaging. The tag tied on the side says "The Early Bird Gets The Pins!"... and there is a round tag on the front that says "Sew Prim"...isn't it just the coolest??! Oh how I adore this...can't you see me with an entire flock??

Over the past months, I have been asking Kimber all sorts of gardening questions (after-all, she is an expert) that all the outdoor work is done on our home, I am ready to start planting this spring. Kimber was thoughtful enough to give me a book on perennial gardening - which is perfect, as she knows I want to plant perennial flowers!

And look what else - this wonderful holiday scrapbook of sorts - it is a canvas covered journal with blank brown paper pages, perfect for writing down my Christmas memories....

Merry did her absolute best to spoil both of us, as well. You all know how multi-talented Merry is...she can stitch, sew, bake, cook, knit, crochet, and just about any other creative thing you can think of...and she does them all SO WELL! Many times you have seen her stellar kitchen skills on my blog - I really am blessed - she makes me goodies all year long - for absolutely no reason - she takes very good care of me. Here is a photo of some holiday treats she made for me....five (yes, FIVE) bags of homemade Biscotti -plain (anise), gingerbread, snickerdoodle, chocolate, and almond chocolate....and see the little house in the photo - it is filled with her homemade Butterfinger Bites (I put a couple in front of the house for the photo) for my husband (and I will definitely be trying one!)...and in the back is a large bottle of homemade Black Raspberry Liqueur (which she "forced" me try and it is delicious)!

...and although that was more than enough - Merry had piles of other special presents for me...she makes me the best these gorgeous socks she knitted especially for me....

and this unbelievable beehive pincushion/tape measurer with homemade pins (yep, she made the pins using Shrinky Dinks!)...this seriously brought tears to my eyes. It is so adorable and very tiny - it is only about 2" tall...and it is incredibly Merry knows my grandfather was a beekeeper and the sentiment this gift would have for me. It is amazing...

She also made me a quilted craft pouch for my paper piecing materials and supplies - how awesome is this?? It will hold my tiny cutting mat, small rotary cutter, my add a quarter rulers, plus all sorts of other supplies!

Before I share the last item she made for me, I just have to share a photo of a special box that was in with my gifts - it looks like a book and is decorated with birds, crowns, butterflies, and birdcages...way cool! The photo all shows additional gifts that she slipped in the gift bag - a couple adorable round magnets she made, a metal reindeer ornament, special lip balm, swankie hankies, and the cutest owl stamp set....

and lastly, I have to share this AMAZING magnetic needlework tray she is a small vintage tray/plate (3.25" H x 6" W) - she placed a very strong magnet on the bottom that holds the gold scissors in place (along with pins and needles) and added a handmade wool biscornu pincushion with a gold vintage button in the corner...then she added three crystal pins. I thought this was ingenious and strikingly beautiful - it is so very special!

I truly hope today's post has inspired you and you have more ideas for gift giving!

I have had the happiest of holidays and feel so very blessed. To my close circle of friends (you know who you are) thank you for being my family - I love you all and thank the heavens above for your friendship.

"But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snowman Love!

The weather here in Iowa has been mild this winter (knock on wood) - temperatures have been cold, but not bitter...and there is not a drop of snow or ice on the ground (totally unbelievable) fact, I have still been walking Simba over 2 miles a day - I just bundle up. So, today when this snowman pincushion/scissor holder arrived in my mailbox, it gave me a nice touch of winter! Isn't he adorable??! He was sent to me by my dear friend Terri in IL - Terri and I met over our love of stitching, when she emailed me years ago about a design idea - we quickly found out that I have relatives that live in her hometown (small world) - and we met face to face shortly we are the best of friends and keep in touch weekly....and whenever I visit my relatives, we make plans for a day. Our friendship now goes beyond our love of needlework and I can't imagine my life without her! This week she sent me the most adorable holiday package with a snowman theme - the pincushion/scissor holder, a pair of scissors, a snowman hat pin, a snowman needle nanny, and a snowman trivet...and each item was wrapped and placed in a wonderful Christmas box....very fun! The snowman pincushion was made by Kathleen at Fat Cat Crafts - I was not familiar, so a quick Google search led me to her Etsy Shop and blog. Her pincushions are super adorable...and Terri asked her to add a scissor sheath to the back of my snowman, which is perfect! How is that for a wonderful Christmas surprise??

Also arriving in my mailbox today was a wonderful book that I must share with you. It was sent to me from my dear friend Sue in NY - Sue and I met at a Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat in 2010 and then again at the New England Stitcher's Retreat this past October. Sue's smile is contagious and her loving personality make her a true joy to be around - I love her fact, I can't wait to see her again next October! This book was a complete surprise - I had no idea it was on the way...and it is absolutely perfect for me. This book is from The Workbasket magazine and is called "Sewing Workbook" is full of handy hints, helpful guides, and place to log all about your sewing projects - kind of like a diary for a seamstress. This workbook provides places to sketch, plan projects, log inspiration, file away fabrics, and keep track of all the projects you make...and it is filled with vintage illustrations and suggestions from vintage Workbasket articles. It is a nice size at 6"W x 8.5" H - perfect for carrying along on a shop hop or quilting trip. I plan to make great use of this handy little book!

So there you have it, several more wonderful gift ideas, brought to you by two more members of my close circle of friends - I hope they spark an interest and inspire you!

I will be getting together with my two BFFs, Merry and Kimber, on Wednesday for our annual holiday get together. I can't wait to share with you the projects I made for them this year and tell you all about our luncheon...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A "Happy Day" Quilt

Last month, I shared a similar quilt with you...that particular one was made for my mother's birthday...this one is a Christmas gift (I can't tell you who it is for until they receive it). Truth be told, I adore this quilt so much, I would love to keep it for myself...but I have a much better plan in mind (it's definitely going to a good home) - plus I do have enough of the motif fabric left to make yet another, that I might just keep for me. It is relatively small at 18.5" W x 22.5" H...and I put a sleeve on the back and added one of the wooden hangers my husband helped me make, so it can be easily hung on a wall. I didn't use a pattern - I just fussy cut the motifs/sayings into 3" squares (2 1/2" finished) and used my AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter to cut 1 1/2" strips for sashing (1" finished). The fussy cut motif fabric is Martha's Vineyard Watercolor by Susan Branch for RJR Fabrics (retired) and the sashing fabric is Dilly Dally by Me & My Sister Designs for Moda...and it was chosen especially for the recipient. One more gift completed and I am down to just a couple small things left to finish up for the holidays. I have been finding so much joy in my sewing studio - happiness in the making and happiness in the giving! I hope you have been enjoying this holiday season by finding happiness each day...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friendship Across The Miles

One of the rewarding "perks" of my chosen profession, is being able to travel and teach...I have been so blessed to go out on the road and meet the most creative, talented, and kindhearted needleworkers....I lovingly refer to all who take a class with me as my stitching family. I have built AMAZING friendships that have filled my life with joy and endless inspiration.

Robin in Virginia and I have been online friends pretty much since I released my very first design (years ago). I was ecstatic to finally meet her and her mother at a Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat in 2010...our friendship withstands the miles and we manage to keep in touch regularly throughout the year. This week I received the most wonderful surprise from Robin - a Christmas package with not one but TWO cross stitched ornament and a pincushion! You can tell Robin knows me quite well, as both have bird motifs and she used one on my very favorite colors of red floss (Weeks Dye Works Garnet). This sweet surprise seriously brought tears to my eyes, as the cross stitch gifts I have received over the years are few and far between. I truly adore both of these pieces and they will be treasured for many years to come! Both of these designs look familiar to me, but I am not certain of the designers or if you are interested in that information, hopefully (wink, wink) Robin will post a comment with that information. Thank you dear Robin - these will be on display year-round!

...and look what else arrived in my mailbox this week...a fabulous surprise from my stitching sister Ruth in New Hampshire. Ruth and I had the chance to meet in 2010 at a Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat, as well...and she was most recently at the New England Stitcher's Retreat this past October. I'm pretty sure Ruth and I were separated at birth - I'm yet to find anything that we don't have in common - I love her dearly. Ruth's package was a holiday delight, with not only some pressies for me, but a couple treats for Simba (seriously thoughtful and sweet)! On a side note - we just taught Simba to do "high five" (so adorable!), so he will be working for these grand cookies. Ruth is good at keeping me longing for New Hampshire, as she sends me goodies from her neck of the woods...a lidded basket filled with a Santa moon pin (made in NH), a gorgeous Victorian tag ornament, and a bar of "Christmas in New England" soap made in Alexandria, NH (which smells over-the-top AMAZING). Yep, you can say it, I'm a pretty lucky girl!

If all that wasn't enough, I also received a box from Elizabeth in Georgia (soon to be Alaska) this week. I met Ebeth at the first New England Stitcher's Retreat in the spring of 2010 and her warm and kind spirit immediately touched me - her gracious/giving attitude and unique humor make her a very special person - just the thought of her makes me smile - she makes me immediately happy! At the stitching retreat, I had admired a special tool that several stitchers had brought in their arsenal of needlework are all aware I pride myself on knowing all the great gadgets on the market, but I had never seen one of these is called a "Sew Taxi" and it is made by Fiskars. This convenient and compact "taxi" is twelve tools in one - it includes: a thread cutter, magnifying glass, seam ripper, piercing punch, punch needle, stuffing tool, knit picker, tweezers, safety pin, measuring tape, needle threader and long needle threader - all in a clear, shatter-resistant cover that keeps everything organized and protected. Elizabeth was kind enough to surprise me with one to keep in my stitching bag (and wrapped in the cutest Christmas paper) and I couldn't be more thrilled! Seriously - how cool is this?!

Yes, my blessings are many and I am extremely thankful (each and every day) that I have such a wonderful circle of friends! It's that time of year when we find joy in unexpected places - a season of surprises - I hope you are enjoying some surprises this holiday season...or sending a few yourself! In all the crazy holiday madness, make sure to take a few moments see the beauty and joy that surround you...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Especially For You

Today, I want to start by thanking all of my blog followers, friends, and fans; thank you keeping up with my blog, your comments, your support, and your encouraging words! Although I don't leave comments for all of you, I want you to know, I do keep up with your blog posts and find so much enjoyment reading about your projects and creativity. Over the last several months, I see I have quite a few new followers - WELCOME - I am so thrilled you found my blog.

If you are a regular reader of my Blue Ribbon Designs monthly newsletter, then you may have caught the fine print towards the end of the December said I would be posting a new complimentary cross stitch chart soon...and to show my appreciation to all my wonderful/creative/unique needlework fans, followers, and friends, I just posted it on my website a few minutes ago! This ornament design (shown right) may look familiar to some of you - it is called "Cardinals For A Cure" and was designed last year for Attic Needlework (Mesa, AZ) for use in the fundraiser cookbook "Recipes For A Cure" with net proceeds being donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. To those of you who supported this fabulous cause and made a donation for the cookbook, you are appreciated! I never did receive my copy of the cookbook, so I have no idea how it looked in print - but I certainly hope those of you who donated to receive this special recipe book were pleased. Since it has been over a year since the release, I thought I would share this complimentary chart with all the Blue Ribbon Designs fans - it is my holiday gift to you! I hope you have someone special to stitch this design for...or maybe you will splurge and stitch this design for still have time to complete it before Christmas.

So, how do you get this complimentary cross stitch chart?? Simply visit my website: and click on "Freebie" in the left-hand menu - you will see a photo of the "Cardinals For A Cure" ornament at the top of the webpage - click on the statement "CLICK HERE FOR CHART" (directly under the photo) - a new window will open containing the design in PDF form (you will need Adobe Reader to view/print the chart). Please do remember, this design is protected by copyright law - thank you for respecting my copyright.This is a large quality file and will take a moment to load. If you are receiving an error message when trying to open the chart, most likely, you are using an older version of Adobe Reader - you will need to update to the newest version to open the file. Still having difficulty? - make sure your virus protection software recognizes as a "safe site".

I hope you enjoy this special design - my holiday gift to you for your continued support, friendship, and encouragement...and if you haven't stitched any of my designs before, I hope this complimentary chart will entice you to purchase some of the larger designs in my catalog from your favorite needlework shop...

Thank you for bringing me joy - your support means the world to me...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunshine On A Rainy Day...

It may have rained all day, but it didn't dampen my day was filled with blessings. I accomplished some very large items on my to-do list and got a ton of errand running done...but (most importantly) I took a few hours to meet my dear friend Lorrie for lunch and a holiday gift exchange - it was a delightful afternoon and put a smile on my face for the rest of the day! I always feel right at home visiting with Lorrie - seems we have an endless list of things to talk about and so very much in common - I had been looking forward to our lunch all week. We met at a cozy little local restaurant, which we both enjoy...and we had so much fun catching up we completely lost track of time...all of a sudden we realized it was 2 1/2 hours later....

We were excited to exchange gifts, as we both like to give gifts from the heart and had put a lot of thought into what we made for each other. I knew months ago I was going to make Lorrie a friendship quilt and I had the fabric picked out even before it was available for purchase.

I know she loves the color blue, so I had chosen the fabric line Blueberry Crumb Cake by Blackbird Designs for Moda. I decided to use a small tumbler block (which happens to be one of her favorites - I had no idea) and put my AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter to good use to cut all the pieces. I had the quilt top done a couple weeks ago, but had to wait for the yardage in this fabric line to be released before I could quilt and bind it - luckily I received it last week and was able to get it finished in time.

I put a label commemorating the holiday on the back of the quilt...along with a sleeve and removable hanger, in case she wanted to use it as a wall hanging. I was so pleased with the outcome, I decided to make a matching drawstring bag...which I used as a gift bag for a present I picked out for her while I was in California.

I had absolutely no idea the treasures Lorrie had in store for me - I am actually still a little speechless. I will share them with you in the order I unwrapped them...and it all started with the most amazing card - amazing because she wrote me the sweetest note that truly touched my heart. Lorrie totally gets me, as she wrapped everything individually...and I loved opening each and every gift! The first gift I opened was a FABULOUS project bag she made out of sampler fabric - it is a jumbo size - big enough for an entire project with q-snaps and pattern and all the supplies - it is perfect (a word you are going to get sick of hearing in this post) - and even more special because she made it. I then opened several smaller packages - some lovely handkerchiefs (she knows I like to collect them)...a couple quilt themed notecards (which I think need little frames)...a great little snippit jar from the Amanas (which I plan to use next to my sewing machine)...and a set of bead storage containers (which Lorrie shared an idea to use as bobbin storage)....are these great gifts or what?! I was so blown away...but wait, there's more....

I then opened a large drawstring bag she made from holiday fabric (she even tied jingle bells to the ends of the drawstring!)...inside was one of her absolutely GORGEOUS knitted scarfs - the color is perfect, the style is perfect, her knitting is perfect - yep, it is perfect in every way - I love it - and WILL be wearing it right away....

There were still two gifts left and by now I was already awestruck by her kindness and thoughtfulness. She asked me to save the red wrapped gift for last, so I opened the other - in this package, yet another gift she made for me - two wonderful pillowcases. Lorrie then shared with me that she has a pile of "pretty" pillowcases - when she has a bad day, she grabs one, puts it on her pillow, and curls up in the living room with a good book or a movie (or even takes a nap) - she calls them "special pillowcases". I just adore her cozy idea and will definitely be using these when I need a good boost!

After all this, I had no idea what could possibly be in the package she wanted me to open last - I felt completely pampered - I really was not expecting all this fuss - but it was such a treat to have so many treasures to open! I can't even express how touched I was when I opened the last gift - it is breathtaking. She stitched a piece especially for me and mounted it in a Sudberry box and it is "TO DIE FOR" - it really is....

To find a chart with my initial that has needles, a thimble, a button, a spool of thread, and a pair of scissors...really, what could be more perfect?! After opening it, she shared a lovely story with me of what she envisioned I would keep inside of it and I couldn't think of a better use. Oh...and did I mention she put several little goodies inside the box? - yep, she sure did! I am just so extremely touched by the thought and time that went into each of these special gifts. I honestly felt like it was Christmas, my birthday, and every other special occasion you could think of all rolled into one. Lorrie - your friendship is a true blessing and your talents are limitless - thank you.

After such a wonderful lunch, I finished up my pile of errands and hurried home to clean and organize my studio...after all, I still have a few last minute sewing and crafting projects for the holidays...and yes, I still have to get my Christmas cards in the mail (if I don't finish them up soon, they may have to say "Happy New Year" - or better yet, "Happy Valentine's Day")....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Baking Marathon

Saturday was a full day - I headed over to my mother-in-law's house at 9:00 AM for a twelve hour baking marathon. I sure didn't know what the day had in store when I left the house - I figured I would be over there for a few hours...but it turned into an entire day in the kitchen. My mother-in-law does TONS of baking every year for holiday gifts - she had called me earlier in the week and asked me to join her....when I arrived, she had over ten labor-intensive recipes ready to prepare. She had done some dough making throughout the week, so my first task was to cut over 100 sugar cookies and get them in the was a giant double batch and I was able to use every Christmas cookie cutter under the sun! While they were cooling, I rolled and shaped 75 candy cane cookies...baked them, then sprinkled the warm cookies with crushed peppermints sticks. I helped with the preparation of several of her famous candies, then it was time to frost and decorate all the sugar cookies - it seemed an endless task - I started out being all clever and decorating each one specially, but by the end of the day, I (admittedly) was just frosting and shaking sprinkles on each one. While I was doing the frosting, she was baking pumpkin bread and banana nut bread. By the time I left, we had made ten different candies, cookies, and breads - double batches of each...and we were both exhausted. After a very full day, we cleaned the kitchen and I packed up two small tins of treats to bring was a lot of work, but very fun to spend the day baking with my mother-in-law. I hope you make time to do some holiday baking with family and/or friends...

To assist with your holiday baking, here is a favorite cookie recipe from my kitchen:

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.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gifts and Giggles

Today was a good day! - I was able to have lunch with my friend Mary - it had been a while since we had seen one another, so it was marvelous way to spend the afternoon...we also did our annual Christmas gift exchange and a little shopping. I had a fun gift bag of goodies prepared for her...including a sock monkey drawstring bag and twelve little sock monkey ornaments that I had made especially for her...(Marsha - I apologize for this post - I know sock monkeys "creep you out"). I showed you the drawstring bag several days ago...but I wanted to wait to show you the ornaments until after Mary received them. I found a great sock monkey fabric (Santa's Little Helpers by Erin Michael for Moda) that was perfect to make feather tree size ornaments - each is approximately 2" square. I fussy cut twelve squares for the fronts - used a fabric from the same collection for the back (dark brown sock monkey knit texture fabric) - and used 1/8" red and white ribbons for the hangers. These twelve little ornaments fit perfectly in the matching drawstring bag!

Mary had a wonderful assortment of gifts for me, as well. Check out this adorable wool runner - it is SO "me" - it is 8" W x 18" H and will work perfect on the Longaberger end table in my living room! I just adore the red birds on the black wool...

...and check out this pile of goodies - including a pincushion and sweet pea lotion (two of my favorite things!)...and a beautiful Hugging Heart and snowflake magnet by Isabel Bloom.

We had such a fabulous time...and a lot of laughs...and I just have to share this funny story with you:

I LOVE books - I have three large bookcases full of sewing, quilting, stitching, crafting, needlework, "you name it" creative/artistic books in my studio. Many times I will give my dear friends a book or two for Christmas or a birthday. This year I decided to give Mary the book "Cute and Easy Quilting and Stitching" by Charlotte Liddle for Christmas. It is full of adorable projects that incorporate both sewing and needlework...and I thought Mary would really enjoy it and feel comfortable creating the projects. When she opened it, I could tell by her face that she may already have this book in her collection - when I asked, she said she did not, but she had admired a copy of it - she then told me to open one of the packages she had for me...and guess was the same exact book! We had both picked out the same book to give each other...what a hoot! We laughed so hard....of all the books in the world, we both picked the exact same one to give as a gift. I am actually REALLY excited to have a copy, as there are several projects I can't wait to bring to life - including a super cute embroidered bird brooch that incorporates wool and silk fabric with beads, sequins, and pearls....

So, there you have it, a rundown of my very fun day. I have a little sewing to do this evening - then I am off to do more model stitching on "Redwork Garden". Tomorrow will be another full day, as I am headed to my mother-in-law's house to help her with her holiday baking and cookie decorating.

Wishing you a fun-filled weekend - I do hope you make time to do something you enjoy...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Up For A Challenge

I worked on a bit of a sewing challenge yesterday...something my husband asked me to do last week. Yep, wouldn't you know it, I am knee deep in BRD models and making holiday gifts and my husband comes to me with a sewing project he needed done (of course) by this weekend. Our conversation started by him bringing me the following hunting item:

Now, for those of you who aren't sure what this is, it is a blaze orange handwarmer muff - it has a strap that you use to hold it around your waist (like a fanny pack for warm hands). He says it is his favorite and it is the best for keeping his hands warm. So what is the problem, you ask? Well, he wants it to be camouflage for when he is sitting in the timber bow hunting...but also wants to have to option to have it blaze orange for gun hunting. Okay, I am up for a last week, while out with my friend Merry, I picked up a yard of Realtree camouflage fabric (I took a photo of his camouflage clothes with my phone, so I could match the print in the store). Last night, I finally got around to measuring the muff and getting my plan together - at first, I planned to use Velco to hold the camo fabric around the muff, but as I began sewing, I got the idea to use a zipper. I still had to figure out how I was going to accommodate the straps, but I decided I would get the fully lined fabric sleeve prepared first. After the fabric sleeve with zipper was complete and fit perfectly, I decided to use two buttonholes for the straps...the end result was this:
I was happy to use the fancy schmancy sensor one-step buttonhole foot on my sewing machine and it worked perfectly (I did a couple on test buttonholes on scrap fabric first). I had to mark the strap placement, as it was different on each side, but that wasn't a big deal...and I had to make the largest buttonhole my machine allows to accommodate the large buckles on the strap. It actually worked perfectly - even better than I had planned - and here is the end result:
It is easily removable and covers all the blaze orange. My husband was so happy and it was exactly what he wanted - he can now use it for both types of hunting and his hands will stay toasty warm! Several years ago, I never would have dreamed I could tackle this project - but today I feel quite confident in my sewing skills. Yes, challenges can be a good thing....