Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, friends! Thank you for joining me on the blog this year! I treasure each one of you!

Love to all of you,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thank You, Pioneer Woman

I love Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. But, today, I really love Ree Drummond! I watched her Christmas special on the Food Network last weekend and was immediately inspired to make her cinnamon rolls. I had read about them on her blog and read the recipe in her cookbook numerous times but never could commit to actually making them. Until yesterday and today.

Yesterday I made the dough and refrigerated it overnight (not necessary but it fit my schedule). Today I rolled out the dough, slathered melted butter on top, and sprinkled lots of sugar and cinnamon all over it. I only made a half recipe and, when all was said and done, I had enough for four pans of rolls.

I quickly learned that I had not rolled the dough tightly enough, but when they cooked you would never have known that I had not mastered the "roll". I wish I could describe how my house smelled during the 15 minutes or so it took them to cook. Heaven should smell so good!  While the rolls cooked, I made the icing.

I didn't follow PW's recipe for the icing mainly because I couldn't find the maple extract that she called for. I looked at two grocery stores and neither one had it. I added vanilla extract instead and eliminated the little bit of coffee that she also called for. I wasn't convinced I would like the icing with coffee and maple extract anyway.

In no time, the rolls and the icing were ready. The icing is poured over the warm cinnamon rolls and it just oozes into every little spot it can get to in the rolls.

This recipe is so unbelievably delicious and fairly easy to make. I can't recommend it highly enough! In case you think you might like to make these delicious rolls for Christmas morning, here's the link to the recipe: (Not my spelling of cinnamon)

As I said, I only made half of the recipe. I don't know what I would do with eight pans of cinnamon rolls (well, I do, but I would never fit in any of my clothes again) unless you are giving them away to family and friends. It would make a very welcome gift!

How tortuous will it be to smell these tomorrow for four hours in the car as I drive to Jacksonville? I'll be sure to put them out of reach on the back seat where I can't get to them!

I hope your holiday baking is all finished, the gifts are wrapped, and that your holiday travels are safe ones!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mystery Solved

I posted on Sunday a photo of the sheep canvas that is part of my Melissa Shirley Nativity series. I want something small to stitch and I settled on this canvas which I have had forever.

As I was sorting through the stash for threads to use on this piece, I realized that I had no idea what the object(s) are on the back side of the sheep. I asked for your help identifying what I was looking at. I appreciate everyone's suggestions. It's hard to choose threads and stitches if you don't know what the object is that you are stitching!

I decided that no one would know better what is painted on the canvas than the artist herself. So I sent Melissa a message on Facebook and asked for her help. She very kindly replied to my question yesterday and enlightened me with her response. The large brown object is a basket with a domed top with a tassel that hangs from it. The smaller red object to the left of the basket is a bota bag or a wineskin. Makes perfect sense now, don't you think? Melissa even offered to touch up the painted canvas if I thought it would help. How nice is that? I don't think the canvas needs it but she was so kind to offer!

So, the mystery is solved! I just thought you would like to know.

Five days until Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Countdown

The gifts are bought and wrapped and ready to load into the car for the trip to Jacksonville later this week. That leaves time for some guilt-free stitching.

This week I finished the beading on the "C" pear. I love beading and find it very relaxing and especially love watching the beads line up in a nice, even row. For the most part, I've also finished Step 2 of the background around "C" and look forward to working on Step 3 this week which will be adding brackets of fly stitch. Amy has chosen a beautiful, pale icy green Kreinik for this step. I can't wait to see how it completes the look of the background. There is still the stem and the leaf to complete. The leaf has some ribbon work on it which I may leave to be stitched until the banner is almost complete.

I've been looking through the stash this week for something small to stitch and finally settled on the sheep canvas that is part of my Melissa Shirley Nativity series.

I pulled some threads out of the stash yesterday and actually found all that I needed. I can't quite figure out what the object(s) is on the right side of the back of the sheep. Is it a box, a bag and lantern? If you know what it is, please tell me!

Can you believe we're only a week away until Christmas day? I can't wait! I'll be spending Christmas with Andrew and Anna and then will look forward to them coming to Augusta for New Year's. I hope all of you have a wonderful couple of weeks ahead with memorable times spent with your family and friends. Enjoy your stitching time this Christmas! Hope Santa brings you something fun to stitch!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Can you believe that Christmas is just two weeks from today? I went to the mall this morning for my one trip of the season and, if I were a merchant there, I would be wondering where everyone is. Of course, I arrived at 10:00 AM when they opened so I had no problem finding a great parking place and plenty of sales associates to help me. There were so few shoppers! I hope for the merchants' sakes that all the shoppers are heading their way this afternoon and in the next two weeks ahead.

I promised you a picture of my Melissa Shirley Nativity figures with their new backdrop.

I found this mirrored cathedral-type window backdrop on a Christmas show on QVC a couple of months ago.  I added my grandmother's Boehm angels to the grouping and some handcrafted sheep as well. I need to add some greenery or straw but haven't quite figured out what to do to bring it all together.

The "C" pear on my banner has been so much fun to stitch this week. I was very pleased with my progress. I finished the Helen's Lace background stitch and the snowflakes. Amy did a beautiful job with the snowflakes. They were perfectly diagrammed to follow the painted canvas. Even my background stitching worked out well around the snowflakes.

Last night, I moved on to beading the "C.

I hope you are finding some time for yourself and your stitching in the midst of this crazy/wonderful time of year. Take some time in the evening and find a good Christmas movie on television and settle in with your stitching. This week I watched The Polar Express and Elf - two of my favorites. I haven't watched Love Actually yet and have only seen parts of The Holiday - my two favorite romantic Christmas movies. I never miss either of those movies at Christmas.

There's a little more shopping ahead for me this afternoon so I had better get to it. Have a wonder-filled week ahead!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The First Pear of Christmas

I eagerly anticipated the arrival this week of the threads and stitch guide from Amy's for the first pear of the Christmas banner. I wasn't disappointed! Amy sent a beautiful selection of silks, metallics, ribbon, and beads to stitch the pear and begin the background.

I completed the entire border just in time for the first pear kit's arrival so I have been able to turn my entire attention to stitching the pear this week.  The first step of the background pattern was my starting point. It was just an evening's work to stitch the framework for this composite stitch background. I like the pattern just as it is with just the boxes but there are still cross and oblong crosses to add within the boxes and then a French stitch to complete the design. It looks complicated but each component taken separately is quite simple.

The pear is stitched using a subtle, hand-dyed Gloriana stranded silk. I'm finding the Helen's Lace stitch that Amy chose for the pear to be a challenge. For me, it isn't a stitch to work on when there are any distractions around me. I spent a few frustrating hours on Friday starting and stopping and ripping out. I tried Amy's tips for working Helen's Lace but even her tips couldn't help me. I finally took a break and set the canvas aside and decided to decorate my little Christmas tree. Evidently, a break is what was needed and when I came back to the canvas, I stitched a nice diagonal row that set me up for much easier stitching on subsequent rows. I worked steadily on the pear yesterday and made good progress. It just requires a lot of concentration - at least for me.

More work on the pear is ahead this afternoon. The "C" will be beaded and the leaf will use the Gloriana ribbon included in the thread kit. The snowflakes will be stitched in "Marshmellow" Kreinik and the red Hi-Lights I used in the border. Lots of work still to come on the first pear!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It's hard to believe that it was only a week ago that we were still eating leftovers. I had a fun stay in Jacksonville over the holiday weekend with Anna and Andrew. When we weren't eating leftovers or watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and football, we drove down to Ponte Vedra on Friday evening to the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse for their Christmas tree lighting.

It was a festive evening in a sort of tropical fashion. The temperature was mild so people were dressed in shorts and sandals and many of the children were dressed in their Christmas finery. The clubhouse was beautifully decorated with a variety of themed Christmas trees throughout. Once we made it out to the large lawn outside overlooking the 18th green, we saw "snowflakes" drifting through the air. Actually, a bubble machine on the roof was blowing very tiny bubbles our way that gave the illusion of snow falling. The carolers sang, the hot chocolate was served, and the tree was lighted. It was a very nice evening!

I finished my Christmas decorating yesterday. I'll take some pictures this week of my Heritage series needlepoint ornaments on the tree. They are so pretty! I'll have to stitch more of them. I finally found a backdrop for my Melissa Shirley Nativity figures. It isn't a creche but it has a sort of Renaissance feel to it that I really like. I'll get some pictures of it as well. I have a sheep canvas that I have never stitched that accompanies this group of figures.  I really need to get it out and work on it. There are also some shepherds I could add to the grouping. Future projects for 2012? Hmmm....

Hope you avoid any Christmas craziness this week and find some time to stitch. I know I will. Have a good week!