Friday, July 25, 2014

Coming Attractions & an Enthusiasm!

I hope everyone is having a good July!  Our weather has gone from way too hot one week to cool, no
down right cold :) the next week with blessed rains. 

In addition to working on stitching 'Violette' I've been designing the next two patterns for the Vintage Textile series.  I've been notified that a cross stitch magazine in the UK will be mentioning that series in their August edition, so I'm going to go ahead and give a sneak peek of the next designs though, as usual, they won't go on sale until I've stitched them.  No matter how hard I try to make a pattern perfect in the design stage there is rarely one that doesn't have to have a correction or tweak in stitching and I don't want them sold until I know they won't need any further changes.

The first is 'Alsace', an area of France that has been known for its wonderful textiles, especially red ticking fabric.
Vintage Textiles ~ 'Alsace'
And the second is 'Seville'.  I've wanted to do a lace piece since I love lace in all its lovely forms.  In fact I hope to do a band type of sampler similar to Back in the Day with rows of lacy motifs.

This pattern I placed on a sunny tangerine background to give the feel of Spanish lace.

Vintage Textiles ~ 'Seville'

Both of these pieces are done in the Assissi style of stitching the background and leaving the design unstitched unless you want to stitch it in needlepoint then just stitch the pattern in a white or off white color to achieve the same effect.

These two will definitely keep me busy stitching and don't let the Assissi technique scare you, the patterns are easy to follow.  In fact I find that patterns in Assissi stitch faster for me.

And now an 'Enthusiasm' I'd like to share!

If you've read the blog for very long you will know that one of my loves are Korean Dramas and that has only increased as we've watched so many great ones through Dramafever, Hulu Plus and online at places like Gooddrama.net   It seems they are only making better and better dramas with one of the best yet airing this year called 'My Love from Another Star'



A mega hit throughout Asia, breaking records in China, this gem is a super love story, mystery, comedy and all around perfection.  The story of an 'alien' from another star who comes to the Joeson era Korea and saves a young girl's life and in doing so gets left behind when the others leave.  Fast forward 400 years later he is still young, gorgeous and very rich (all those land deals before modern Seoul was built paid off) and he's been a doctor, lawyer and is at the present time a professor of Psychology who doesn't believe in what humans call 'love'.  He is also getting ready to leave since his 'star' that only approaches the Earth every 400 years is about to pass by.

A movie star who has become a suspect in a murder moves in next door and what ensues is pure fun.  It made us laugh, cry and gasp at its terrific plot and unparalleled acting.  

Warning!  After this drama aired the amount of chicken and beer sold in China went up several hundred percent, watch it and you'll know why you'll suddenly crave such things.

And one last topic, Jasper, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy has been enjoying trips to the Pend Oreille river and each visit he has gotten up his courage and gone from wading to swimming and here is his first dock dive.  This won't appear in the newsletter, you'll have to visit the blog to see it.



Happy summer, happy stitching!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Violette Progress, K2 Framed & Madeleines Baked


We've had a wonderfully very cool wet spring, and everything seems to be late this year, even the does seem to be having their fawns later than usual.  Here is one  mom with her newborn fawn -
Brand new Gracewood fawn


Another 'baby', our Chessie, Jasper, is 10 months old and is already firmly embedded as guardian of Gracewood. Here he is 'guarding' the Madeleines cooling on the counter.

 
K2 is framed in a midnight blue distressed frame. 
 
 
I'm making some progress on 'Violette', using Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss in shades of violet, pistachio and a bit of gold in the floral centers.
 
 
 
And on these cool wet spring days we often stop for 'elevensies' and you just have to have some little something to go along with that cup of tea or coffee.  I've always wanted to try the definitive French treat called a Madeleine and finally got my confidence up enough to try baking this notoriously difficult cookie/cake. 

The various cooking blogs and forums that mention making Madeleines invariably say they are tricky to bake and certainly difficult to get out of those shell shaped baking molds.  So after lots of reading I decided to begin with the 'classic' recipe and also to use the authentic tin type of Madeleine mold and found a lovely vintage one on ebay.



I'm happy to tell you that this was not only a successful and delicious attempt, but it is so very easy!  With only a few tweaks from my original baking, here is my recipe for some really scrumptious treats to dip in your cuppa.

You can make different flavorings and I made this batch orange.

Orange Madeleines
Makes 24

Ingredients

1 stick of butter, melted (slightly browned adds flavor) and slightly cooled
2/3 Cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 Tablespoon Orange Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring
1 Cup unbleached Flour
Pinch of Salt

Use an electric mixer and beat the eggs until frothy, slowly add sugar, orane juice, zest, honey and vanilla and continue beating at medium speed for about 8 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and sift the flour and pinch of salt into the batter and lightly stir until combined.  Add the melted butter and fold in gently until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap or put into bowl with lid and refrigerate.

I found that the key to making these successfully is to refrigerate overnight before baking.  I made a few batches and it made a huge difference, not only in how well they baked but how easily they came out of the pan.

Prepare the Pans

If you are using a tin mold this is how you prepare them.  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and cool slightly then stir 1 tablespoon of flour into it.  With a pastry brush coat the molds with the mixture being sure it is well coated then be sure to freeze the pan for at least an hour but overnight is fine as well.

Baking

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into center of each mold, do not spread it, the oven heat will melt it nicely.  Bake 8 minutes, turn pan and then bake approximately 12 - 15 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven, cool on rack for just a minute or two and then turn out onto cooling rack.

These can be served with just some powdered sugar sifted over them or you can make a glaze with some powdered sugar, orange juice and if you like some orange honey mixed to a dipping consistency.  Dip each Madeleine in the glaze and let cool. 

Serve immediately or they freeze beautifully.  Place cooled Madeleines in freezer bags and freeze.  They reheat really well in a microwave for a few seconds at a medium power.

Hope you'll give these a try!
 
One more tip about the tins, don't wash them with soap or put in the dishwasher, just a good rinse with hot water and wipe with a sponge and then I pop them back in the still warm oven to dry.  They soon develop their own non-stick type of surface.

Friday, May 30, 2014

2nd Kaleidescope Done & New Nouveau Panel Introduction

Kaleidescopes ~ K2
Yea, Kaleidescopes ~ K2 model is stitched and now up for Sale

It was a fun stitch and I love the effect the jewel tones have with the tumbling feeling of the motif.  It is a small piece, stitch count is 109 x 109, and was a really easy project.

~ ~ ~

I love so many things violet, from the flower and all its shades of purple to its fragrance captured so gloriously in my favorite perfume, Violette Fumee by Mona di' Orio.  Spring is when our wild violets appear in the forest and they inspired the next design, 'Violette', which will be the second in my Nouveau Panel series.

Violette



Considerably larger than K2, Violette is going to take a good bit longer to stitch, but once again I'm facing a summer with a cast on! 
 
Thinking I was done with them after the last two summer's bouts of foot surgery, I was looking forward to actually being able to walk around Gracewood this season.  Then last week I took a step off of the back porch promptly stepped on an uneven area and rolled my ankle completely over and am now sitting here with an air cast on my leg. 
 
So this time it is a badly sprained ankle with a bone chip that is going to give me more stitching time, lol  Oh well, man proposes but God disposes and I'll enjoy working with all the colors in this one.
 
And to think I was once considered graceful :)





Friday, May 9, 2014

K1 Framed, K2 Progress & a Gracewood Spring Video

K1 Framed

I chose a distressed lilac colored frame for K1 and I'm happy that I did, it really pulls the shades of violet to the forefront over the strong blues in the piece.

And I'm making good progress on K2, about a third stitched it's bright jewel tones are making it a joyful design to work with.

K2
The camera is making the red more orange than it really is, but the other shades of Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss I'm using are pretty true.

Spring is just now making its presence known here on Gracewood with leaves emerging on everything to just the hint of buds appearing.  Several days ago we had our first good spring storm come through and I taped a few minutes of it from our porch.   I hope you'll enjoy the bit I captured on video.

 
 
Wherever you are I hope you are enjoy the changing season, Spring or Fall if you are down under!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kaleidescope~K1 Model Finished & K2 New Design Introduced

Kaleidescope~K1 Model
K1's model is stitched and even with a VERY active Chessie puppy vying for my attention, I was able to stitch it in stolen moments in about two weeks.

I'm really pleased with the Splendor silk floss and since it used less than one skein of only four colors the supplies with a 14"x 14" square of antique white Aida cloth came to less than $16.00.

The design is now for sale for $8.00 on my website,  and will soon be available through my publishers - Crative Poppy  and ICG.

Since it was a fast and easy stitch I thought I'd follow with another Kaleidescope pattern and this is "K2" -

K2




Stitch Count - 109 x 109

I wanted to use jewel tones in this design and will be using Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss again in vibrant shades of the primary colors, blue, red & yellow.


I also chose these bright colors to remind me it is spring!  We had an inch of heavy snow yesterday morning, rain by noon and bright sunshine by late afternoon - a snapshot of springtime in the Rockies! :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wimsey Framed, K1 Progress & a Recipe for Spring




Wimsey in its new frame from the Frame Guys in their 'Leafy Green' color.

 


Kaleidescopes K1 about 2/3 rd stitched


K1 has been a very fast easy stitch.  Just two weeks into it and with a growing pup and more to do since spring is arriving I'm not having half as much time as I had during the winter.  I'm really happy with how it is looking.
 
Strawberry Muffins cooling on the counter

It is far from strawberry weather here on Gracewood but we made it to a store that finally had some good fresh produce available and stocked up on all the fruit we were hungry for including some nice strawberries!  And one of our favorite ways to use them is to make strawberry muffins.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

Yield 1 dozen (and I usually double them since they freeze great)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped Strawberries

Streusel Ingredients:

1 cup Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 stick Butter

For Streusel - Pulse flour, sugar and butter in food processor till crumbly, store in jar in freezer.

Heat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit, line 1 dozen muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl, add egg and beat well.

Sift flour, baking power and salt and add vanilla to milk, alternate adding the dry mixture and the milk mixture to the batter, till incorporated then fold in strawberries.  Spoon into liners and top with a sprinkle of streusel. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool on rack.


Hope you'll enjoy this taste of spring!


 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Design!

Kaleidescopes - K1

It is time to introduce my newest design, but first I have to give some explanation of its inspiration.  I don't know if people in this digital day and age can understand the charm of looking through a kaleidescope, but they have always held a great deal of charm for me. 
The ever changing patterns and colors of a well made kaleidescope are fascinating and I loved this excerpt on "kaleidescopes" on Wikipedia -

"..A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection off of the mirrors. Coined in 1817 by Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster "kaleidoscope" is derived from the Ancient Greek   (kalos), "beautiful, beauty", (eidos), "that which is seen: form, shape" and (skopeō), "to look to, to examine", hence "observation of beautiful forms."


Beautiful forms they are indeed and I've wanted to create patterns that give the feel of a kaleidescope frozen in its lovely mirrored image.  So I am happy to introduce the first pattern of what I hope will be a series, "Kaleidescopes".
 
K1 Floss Palette ~ Violets & Blues
 
I'll be stitching the model on 20 count antique white aida evenweave fabric, using Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss in shades of violet and blue.  Stitch count is 145 x 145 and will measure a little over 8 inches square.
 

What do you think, does it look like a fun stitch?