Saturday, January 3, 2015

Alsace Stitching & January Colors

The new year has begun and it is looking a lot like winter on Gracewood.

Looking east towards the mountains you can see the well house and how much snow we've gotten and we are under a winter storm warning for another 10+ inches from tonight through Monday.  Anyone who knows me know this is a 'good thing', lol 

Definitely stitching weather, and 'Alsace' is proving a pretty fast and fun stitch.   I do have a fondness for red and white patterns and that was part of why I chose to do the ticking fabric for the Vintage Textile collection using the red ticking that the Alsace region is known for.  Hopefully, I'll get more done during the coming snowstorm!


We have some more beautiful 'red' on Gracewood at our bird feeding station.  We've never had them before but this year we have had several White Winged Crossbills.


We know they migrate in our area but had never had any come to the feeders.  It is so pretty to see them alongside our gorgeous blue Stellar Jays.  The bird feeders are in a sheltered area and with the approaching storm it is a very busy area at the moment.  Terry stocked it up with suet and seed early this morning and as usual, the birds know when a storm is coming and are frantically 'filling up' before retreating under the snow covered boughs.

And an update on our pear vinegar making. 

Here are a few half gallon jars with varying stages of vinegar development.  We've strained out the fruit peelings after several days of bubbling away and these are now getting darker and stronger as the 'mother' develops.

Vinegar 'Mother' Developing
I wish I could send along how fabulous they smell!  We're looking forward to using the vinegar in everything from salads to sauces.

Hoping your New Year will be a blessed one!  Feel free to post comments about what is going on in your 'neck of the woods' :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Know When to Fold 'Em & New Free Pattern


What is true in life is true in design, when something isn't working it pays to know, as the old song says,  'when to fold 'em'!  I had put 'Violette' on hold while I stitched the model of Seville for Just Cross Stitch's May/June 2015 edition and when I went back to stitching it I kept seeing things that I thought could have been better done.

This is why I like stitching my own models.  I get a feel as I stitch if the design is achieving the vision I had for it.  With Violette I kept seeing places I thought would be better tweaked a bit so at a little over the halfway point I couldn't ignore that voice in my head and I stopped stitching, went back to the design software and redid the pattern.  I'm much happier with the changes I made which included reducing its size, adjusting some motif placement and also added more highlights and shading. 

And because I don't have the time to begin the model again, too many new designs to accomplish, I've decided to put it up as a free pattern.  So please help yourself if you'd like to stitch the new and improved art nouveau panel inspired pattern, 'Violette'.

Click Here to Download Violette

I've begun stitching the fourth design in the Vintage Textile collection, Alsace and the happy red colors are definitely helping the Holiday feeling.

I'm sending my hope from Gracewood that this be a blessed Christmas and very Happy New Year for you all!  May it be a stitch full year for us all :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Design amid Pears, Pears & More Pears!

It has been longer than I like between posts, but I gave myself a bit of a break after the marathon session of stitching Seville for Just Cross Stitch magazine.  It is also a busy time on Gracewood since the buckets of pears we harvested (one Taylor's Gold Comice tree and one Conference tree) have been in cold storage for a month and we can bring them out a batch at a time to ripen and do something with.  A break was also needed after tubs of oven baked apple butter we made.

In the midst of it all I just had to sit down and bring a design to fruition that just wouldn't let me alone till it came out :)  After the 'Twilight' ornament for the magazine I have had one rolling around my brain that would reflect my other favorite time of day, so here is 'Daybreak'.

On cold frosty mornings it is especially rewarding to be up early to see the sky just before the sun appears on the horizon.  Suffused in shades of pearly grey, lavender and mauvey pinks and looking at it through frosted windows gives an impression of a fragile beauty that will soon disappear.  I hope you like it. 

I haven't finished stitching Violette but hope to complete it soon and begin stitching Daybreak.  It will be smaller than some I've done lately, about 8 1/2" x 8 1/2".

Back to recent activities, I LOVE pears and I don't think there is much you can do with them I wouldn't like so we've done everything from making pear vinegar, pickled pears, and all kinds of recipes from pear pudding and deep dish pies to something completely wonderful and decadent, Roasted Pear & Chocolate Scones!  Recipe below!

Here are a few photos of some of the pear activity -

Half gallon jars of pear vinegar


Pickled Pears

The Roasted Pear & Chocolate Scone recipe is from though I found their recipe might be incorrect in the amount of flour used.  It calls for 1 1/2 cup, but I had to add so much flour to the board to shape them I'll make it 2 1/2 cups for the initial recipe next time - which will probably be made tomorrow since they are so great and freeze so well.

The photo is also from smittenkitchen since they went so fast here I didn't even get a photo of them, but they looked exactly like this -

Roasted Pear & Chocolate Chunk Scones
Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones
Makes 6 generous scones; you can absolutely make these a bit smaller and reduce their baking time accordingly
3 firmish pears (about 1 pound or 455 grams)
2 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated or coarse for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) table salt plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chips)
2 large eggs, 1 for dough, 1 for glaze

Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core pears. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment paper with pear chunks onto a cooling rack (or onto a plate in the fridge or freezer to speed this up) and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.

Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Toss in cooled pear chunks, bits of butter, heavy cream and 1 egg. With the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until it just comes together. Don’t overmix. Add the chocolate chunks and mix for 5 seconds more.

On a very well floured counter, pat out dough into a 6-inch round. Cut into 6 generous wedges and transfer to baking sheet at least two inches apart (do as I say, not as I did here!). Whisk remaining egg in a small dish with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush each scone with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve, and pat yourself on the back for your excellent host skills.
Waiting for a pear!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

'Seville' Done! & More Magazine Mentions


It took seven weeks but Seville's model is stitched and in Just Cross Stitch magazine's hands.  They are going to make it into a pillow and it is scheduled for the June edition.  It is Assisi technique so only the background is stitched and it really was a fun and relatively easy stitch.

And this is the mention of the Vintage Textile collection that appeared in the September edition of the UK magazine 'New Stitches'

And finally, here is part of the Gracewood Stitches piece in the special Christmas Ornament 2014 edition of Just Cross Stitch Magazine
Another UK magazine features Log Cabin~Winter among their 'must have' winter patterns, but I haven't gotten a copy of that one yet.  I'm grateful for all the mentions :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Winner is Drawn! & Fabulous Fall!

Congratulations, Lorene Frischknecht, you have won the draw and if you'll send me an address I'll get the magazine off to you as soon as possible.  Thanks everyone who left a comment, I'll have another giveaway soon.

Ellison's Orange Apples

 Fall is arriving in all its glory here on Gracewood.  This is the first picking of our Ellison's Orange apples.  They are described as having an 'intense, rich, aromatic flavor with a taste of aniseed.  The flesh is crisp, yet soft and juicy'.  Now it is time for apple crisp, apple pancakes, apple kuchen, apple... fill in the blank!
A pair of twin fawns are getting big and will lose those spots soon as all of the deer are getting their darker thicker winter coats right now.  They just finished some of the windfall apples in one tray and are having a good lick at the mineral/salt block afterward.
Jasper loves deer too!
Jasper loves the deer for another reason, look what he brought home from a walk in the woods recently.  This is why I have a washable sofa!


And I am working as hard and fast as I can trying to complete the model of  'Seville' to get it to Just Cross Stitch magazine by the October 15th deadline.  What do you think?  It is going to be made into a pillow.
I've been notified that another magazine in the UK is going to feature Log Cabin~Winter in their next issue.
I hope everybody is enjoying whatever stitching project you are working on right now, it is that time of year when it becomes even more enjoyable to pick up a needle whenever time permits.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gracewood Stitches in Magazines & a Giveaway!

'Twilight' Christmas Ornament

It was my pleasure and honor to be invited to contribute a design to this year's Just Cross Stitch special Christmas Ornaments edition.  The magazine has just been released and is available at your local stores now.

Jam-packed ornament issue to ensure your Christmas tree is decked out this season!

Filled with 75 cross-stitch ornament patterns, this annual issue from Just CrossStitch magazine will bring instant Christmas cheer to your hearth and home. There are a multitude of unique and original designs, from Santas and angels to snowmen and birds.

Also included in this special edition:
  • Designer biographies and memories from holidays past
  • Recipes to share with your own family
  • Ornaments suited for every decor and skill level
  • Large charts for each pattern
  • Full instructions for completing each ornament
  • And much more!
My contribution, 'Twilight' was inspired by our beautiful winter evenings here in the northern Rockies.  I hope you'll pick up a copy of what has become a much anticipated edition each year.
Gracewoods is also being mentioned in the newest edition of New Stitches Cross Stitch magazine, a publication from the UK.  I have the summer edition of the magazine that I'll giveaway by a draw!

Just leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite colors are for your cross stitch projects.  I'll draw a name next week and ask the winner to contact me with their mailing information.
Stich on!!! :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Finally Fall! & an Interruption

Hydrangeas Drying
Fall is a busy time and I am SO glad it has finally arrived.  Our mornings are extra blanket on the bed worthy and the afternoons are intoxicating with its longer shadows and soft breezes.  Our Annabelle hydrangeas outdid themselves with huge blooms this year and I've hung some to dry to decorate our house through the winter.

Teasing Georgia roses
The roses that give repeat blooms in the Fall are heavy with blooms that are always a bit deeper in color and richer in scent this time of year.

August was busy on Gracewood as Terry opened up a large area to the west of the yard, thinning out trees that were badly needing it, and now he is working on filling up the woodshed.  We also had family visit that we hadn't seen in more than 30 years!  It was good to see the next generation and share making some good new memories.

In the midst of all this I received a request from a magazine that wants to feature 'Seville' in a spring edition.  Which means I have to have the model stitched and to them by October 15th!  So I've had to break one of my rules, the one that I try never to stop one project to start another.  'Violette' has had to be put on hold.


It won't take long to finish it after I get 'Seville' off to the magazine next month. 

Thankfully, Seville is proving to be an easy and relatively fast stitch!  The magazine is going to make it into a pillow and I'll be looking forward to seeing it.

Now I'd better get stitchin :)

Jasper 'helping' gather hydrangeas for drying