Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Know When to Fold 'Em & New Free Pattern

Violette


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'.

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 smittenkitchen.com 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

'Seville'

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!

 

 
Seville
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.

Violette

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

Seville
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

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, orange 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 (skopeĊ), "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?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wimsey Model Finished

Yeah! Wimsey's model is stitched.  Even though it was constantly interrupted by a large Chessie puppy head being poked onto my lap, it was a fun stitch and I'm happy with how it looks.  The photo shows it still on the stitching frame but I hope to find just the right frame for it soon.

Wimsey Model

This week, Lord willing, I'll be introducing the next design.  I'm waiting for some floss to arrive in the mail to make final color choices, but I'm really excited by how it came together.  Something I'd been wanting to achieve for awhile :)

Winter continues on Gracewood, this was last week looking out the front door and the snow you see is above the porch!

Looking out the front door at all the snow that has come off the roof and piles up higher than the porch
And looking out to the west porch towards the bird feeders isn't much less snow. However, the thrush and robins have arrived so spring can't be too far away.

Getting to the bird feeders and firewood becomes problematic this late in winter.
I can't help it, I'm already trying to fill my eyes with winter and snow, it will be gone soon and I won't really be content till it is back again in November.  No bugs, no heat, no dryness, no wonder I love it.

Ah well, spring has its pleasures too though I won't have as much stitching time, I'll look forward to open windows with mountain breezes and blossoms from the orchard to the forest.