Monday, January 31, 2011

Coming the Fall of 2011 - "Moonlit Midnight"

Okay, I do know it is a little early to release a Halloween design...but here is a sneak peek at a new design that will be coming in August of 2011. It is called "Moonlit Midnight" and the chartpack will contain charting for the entire sampler - along with finishing instructions for making the ornaments (or scissor fobs) shown below....and finishing instructions for making the pins/magnets with yo-yo backs, also seen below. The pieces were stitched on 32-count Tundra hand-dyed linen from Lakeside Linens with Weeks Dyes Works cotton floss. This piece was originally designed for a special Halloween event, but the coordinator didn't think it was a good fit for their group - so their loss is your gain - I will be releasing it to the general public later this year! You will have to be patient for the won't be available until the fall needlework market...but since the stitching is complete, I thought I would share it now - a little something to look forward to...

A couple more things to share...
I have updated my website with details and supply lists for the two new designs being released in February at the Nashville Needlework Market...

Exciting news - I will be releasing my 100th design at market (can you believe it?! - and that is not counting magazine or teaching pieces) I will be having a giveaway in the coming weeks to celebrate....

One last thing - I see my blog has reached 400 followers - WOW! - thank you so much for reading, commenting, and encouraging me! I will be having a milestone giveaway for my faithful followers in the very near future....check back soon!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In The Kitchen

As a young child, my grandmother Neine was a huge influence on me - not only did she get me interested in needlework...she taught me the joys of cooking/baking, the value of a clean/organized home, and the importance of sending handwritten correspondence. Often when I am in the kitchen, I think of my time in the kitchen with Neine when I was growing up - although we lived many miles apart and my time with her was limited, I still have the most vivid memories. This morning as the delicious aroma of Sticky Buns filled our home, I couldn't help but think of my time with my grandmother and our time together in her kitchen.

Today I thought I would share another favorite recipe with you...and although it is labor intensive, it is worth every minute...

Sticky Buns

First, make your favorite sweet dough recipe - I like to use the "60-minute Sweet Dough" recipe from the old Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book. (If you don't have a favorite sweet dough recipe or a "go to" cookbook, do a Google search for Sweet Dough Recipe, you will get many to choose from!)

Sweet Dough
1 tablespoon softened (not melted butter)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Roll out prepared sweet dough on floured surface to approximately 12" x 7" (you may have more/less dough depending on your recipe and may have to slightly adjust the measurements), then spread with 1 tablespoon of soft butter. Next, sprinkle the dough with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Roll up lengthwise and cut into twelve slices each approximately 1" thick. At this step, you could bake and have wonderful cinnamon rolls, but I continue on and make sticky buns.

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 pecans pieces

Mix the three above ingredients and then pour into the bottom of a greased pan - you may use your favorite baking dish, but I like to use 9" round pans. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan; place the the dough rolls on top leaving a little space between each one. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden brown (about 20-25 minutes). When baked, turn your baking pan upside down onto a serving plate. Serve with your favorite coffee or tea.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Holiday Helpings" - NEW Stitch Starter Sleeves

As the Nashville Needlework Market quickly approaches, I have been busy finishing up the details for my two new releases. This one is called "Holiday Helpings" is a new set of Stitch Starter Sleeves all with holiday themes. The chartpack (being released in February at the Nashville Market) will contain: one stitch starter ruler tool (seen right), charting for all six holiday "Stitch Starter Sleeves" (seen below), stitching instructions, complete finishing instructions, and an alphabet/numbers for will also contain instructions for using the Stitch Starter Ruler tool. The model sleeves were stitched on 32-count Lakeside Linen (Chantilly Creme) with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss. As you can see from the photo below, I chose Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas....and as an added bonus, a St. Patrick's Day complimentary chart will be posted on my website after market release. I had a lot of fun charting these seasonal "pockets" for the Stitch Starter Ruler - I can envision each of these designs being stitched as an ornament or the cover of a needlebook - maybe even a floss ring tag...wouldn't they be cute for holiday stitching exchanges?! More information will be posted soon - but until then, visit my website for information on the first set of Stitch Starter Sleeves, details about the ruler and instructions for use...

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Tree Made For Me

I am actually giggling as I write this post...
Many of my close friends and family...and my faithful blog followers know my biggest "dirty little secret"....even though I have designed well over 100 Christmas ornaments, I have never had a tree. Every year, I say the same thing, I *have to* get a Christmas tree....I have hundreds of stitched ornaments to fill one. Well, I finally found a wonderful tree - I know it is a little unconventional, but it is so "me". I have quite a bit of Longaberger wrought iron furniture and wrought iron candle sconces leading up my staircase and over my fireplace - this tree (although not Longaberger) works perfectly!! I knew right when I saw it, it was coming home with me (at a great after-holiday price too)...and last night my husband assembled it to make sure all the pieces and parts were there. I want to decorate it right now...isn't it fun?! I know it isn't the best photo and it looks a little bare with out decoration, but it really is is 88" tall and looks like it will hold multitudes of ornaments - so next Christmas look for my first blog post with a decorated tree...

And on another cross stitch Christmas ornament note - I am excited to share I have been invited to design an ornament for the 2011 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue...along with one for the Ornament Preview next winter I will have two more ornaments to add to my new tree!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Sweet Valentine Treat

Last night, while I was in the middle of one of my model stitching marathons, the "frog" paid me a frustrated me beyond belief and I knew at that moment I needed to take a few moments away from my needlework. I decided to try a little machine embroidery project that has been in my pile since last Valentine's Day...some In-The-Hoop Heart Pop Wrappers - a fun and simple machine embroidery project from JesseKate Designs...and if you have an embroidery machine, the digitized file is available for free (yes, FREE) at I thought these were totally adorable! You need minimal supplies - wool, sewing thread, scraps of ribbon, pinking shears, and your embroidery machine....and oh yes, the miniature lollipops (at first, I tried regular size Valentine BlowPops and they are just a bit too big to fit). In just over a half hour, I made 10 of these fun lollipop covers that will make a nice Valentine's Day treat for friends and family! It was thoroughly enjoyable to take a few moments and work on something with instant gratification. I have several other neat Valentine ideas I would really like to try, so hopefully after market preparations, I will be able to make a little more time for sewing and quilting....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quiet Quilting

I finally made time to do a little quilting this evening. With my husband away on a hunting trip and my head spinning from Blue Ribbon Designs deadlines, I needed a few quiet hours in my sewing studio. I have a GIANT pile of sewing projects I *really* want to work on, so it was hard to choose only one...I decided to finish piecing and quilting this Double Dutch mini quilt. I have to admit, I was a little worried about the very small flying geese units, but was thrilled when they fit together rather nicely....a definite improvement for me! I have really been enjoying this series of mini quilts and finally purchased a 12" standing frame to display will be fun to change the quilt each month and I look forward to having each one on display.

I have a couple really adorable Valentine sewing projects I would love to machine embroider and sew up, so I will be working extra hard to meet all my deadlines...I definitely *need* more play time!

As far as needlework, I am still working on the "Holiday Helpings" Stitch Starter Sleeves...they are stitching up just as I envisioned and I can't wait to share them with you! I am stitching as fast as my little fingers can handle...and since I have a quiet house tonight, I should be getting quite a bit more accomplished...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Turn The Page" Bookmarks

What does one do when they are snowed in??...needlework, of course!

As the snow continues to fall here in Iowa (and most of the country), I have been curled up inside as much as possible...finishing up my two new releases for the Nashville Needlearts Market in February. I gave you a sneak peek of "Turn The Page", my new bookmark sampler, a couple weeks is currently being framed (I picked what I think is a fabulous frame molding)...and the last several days, I finished up the stitching of the sample bookmarks. Today, I completed the finishing work...there are four different styles - finishing instructions will be included in the chartpack...and each one of them is quite easy to put together. I had fun picking coordinating fabric for the back of one (birds)...felted wool for finishing another (bunnies)...and the other two (grapes, hearts) use linen for the backing. I am so excited with how the sampler and the bookmarks turned out and can't wait to release this chart next I am ready to put my new bookmarks to use!

I am now focused on "Holiday Helpings", my other release for market, which is a new set of Stitch Starter Sleeves (and will include my Stitch Starter Ruler). It was a treat picking each of the holidays to represent and charting each one...and I will share a photo with you soon...

Winter is definitely here...and while I love the cozy stitching time inside, I dread the shoveling and snow blowing that needs to be done a couple times a day. I am already dreaming of spring! I hope you are staying warm and dry...and you have been able to "dig out" if you are in the majority of the U.S. with snow on the ground...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sunflower Serenade - A Teaching Piece

Here is a peek at what I have been working on while trying to get over my cold/flu (which is much better now!) is called "Sunflower Serenade" and is the sampler for the the Heart's Desire (a needlework shop in Wichita, KS) Cross Stitch Camp held at the Rock Springs 4-H campground near Junction City, KS. This year, the event is being held April 14th-17th. This teaching piece will also have a matching scissor fob, which we will plan to stitch/finish in is stitched on 28-count Jobelan (Bone) with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss. Debbie had asked me about possibly designing something with a Kansas theme (which at first seemed like a HUGE challenge) I did one of my signature samplers with a bit of Kansas - after doing some research, I incorporated the state flower (Sunflower), the state bird (Western Meadowlark), the state insect (Honeybee), and a barn representing agriculture (a major industry in KS) a touch of spring, as the camp is being held in April. I am definitely looking forward to this Midwest event in several months! Again, before I get bombarded with questions - this special design will not be available to the general public until at least one year after the retreat is if you can not attend, you need to be patient. Please contact Heart's Desire for more information and details....

This morning, I made a trip out into the winter weather to visit my framer...where I dropped off a pile of pieces including "Sunflower Serenade", "Turn The Page", and "Moonlit Midnight". Then, I spent the afternoon working on my state sales taxes and preparing my 2010 tax documents for my CPA (fun, fun, fun). This evening, I have been working on some of the bookmarks that coordinate with "Turn The Page". I am slowly working through my GIANT to-do list, while trying to stay warm and completely regain my health. I have a couple more teaching designs to prepare, along with two market designs to complete/ready for printing - it is going to be a VERY busy month...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fun and Funky Refrigerator Magnets

It has been a while since I have posted a machine embroidery project, so I just had to share these fun and funky refrigerator magnets. These bright and cheery magnets are done completely in a machine embroidery hoop and are a great beginner project for those learning how to use an embroidery, as a bonus, they are great for using up small bits of fabric. These magnets are basically machine applique with added embroidery; the base of each magnet is cutaway stabilizer...fabric is then machine appliqued on top...followed by the embroidered elements...and then finally, the satin stitch border - excess tear-away stabilizer is then removed, leaving you with a completely finished magnet, all done in the embroidery hoop! These great, inexpensive digitized designs can be found (along with TONS of others) on the Embroidery Library website - just type magnets in the search box and you will find all sorts of fun ideas. You can also visit the Embroidery Library's project section for a complete tutorial with color photographs on how to make these great magnets. With minimal supplies and a little time in the sewing room, you can brighten-up any kitchen....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

My New Year's Eve celebration was filled with good friends, food and beverage, and lots of laughter! We attended a party put on by our neighbors and close friends with lots Mexican food and plenty of Margaritas...and we had a delightful fun-filled evening. Everyone was asked to bring a snack or appetizer, so I decided to bring my Mexican Cheese Ball - which is always enjoyed and pretty simple to make. I thought I would share my recipe with you - your first taste from my kitchen in 2011...

Mexican Cheese Ball

2 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 green onions, finely chopped

1/4 cup taco seasoning (I use Penzey's Original Taco Seasoning)

1/4 cup picante sauce (I use Pace)

2/3 cup crushed tortilla strips or chips (I use Chili Lime Tortilla Strips)

Mix first five ingredients until thoroughly combined. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours . Before serving, roll in crushed tortilla strips. Serve with crackers and tortilla or corn chips.

I saved just enough for Travis and I to enjoy while watching football this afternoon (Go Blue!). I hope you enjoy what is left of your New Year's Day...