Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Proper Training

"Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

We are trying to take Proverbs 22:6 literally, and therefore, some training happened this last weekend...

Entered into quite willingly by all parties in question...

We must be doing something right.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

If I Could

I would Curtain your windows with Cherry Blossoms.

and Spice your air with Hot Apple Pie.

Friday, March 26, 2010

5 Sweets and 1 Silly

Sweetly primitive Velvet Carrot by Patti...

Sweet cheeks...

Sweet new treat, introduced to me by Dora...

Sweet bouquet of Spring flowers from Merrie...

Concrete stepping stone made by my Sweetheart several years ago (and just unburied from its weed-y place in a flower bed)...


And now for the silly...


Wishing you a Sweet and Silly weekend!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Busy, Busy...

My, it has turned out to be quite a full week. So sorry I have been playing blog hooky... I feel like one of those little bees that have been buzzing around in the orchard lately... I promise I'll be back soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Little Dose of Spring

Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"



The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.
~Gertrude S. Wister

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.
~Beverly Nichols


Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.
~W. Earl Hall

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
~Mark Twain

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Buttercream Frosting

I was asked to bring the dessert to our home group's weekly meeting yesterday, for we were having a potluck dinner, and it was to be St. Patrick's traditional fare. And I was stumped. I know that corned beef and cabbage are the usual dinner items, but what on earth could I make that would seem Irish and desserty? Don't they just drink beer for dessert over there (grin)?

Then I had a vague inner-brain nudge... isn't there such a thing as a chocolate cake which uses Guinness as an ingredient? After some searching online, I found a vast number of recipes, all claiming to be the best, and all looking like they probably WERE the best. But I needed quick and easy... I had waited until the afternoon, and if I made a cake from scratch and it flopped, what would I do?

So, I turned to my trusty friend Anne Byrn, and the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook that I have used and abused for the last several years. Taking cues from a few of her recipes, this is what I came up with...


Easy Chocolate Guinness Cake with Buttercream Frosting

1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder (I used Hershey's)
1 Cup Guinness Draught Beer (Brewed in Dublin!)
1 Cup Sour Cream (I used the full-fat variety)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla (use the real thing if you can)
3 Large Eggs
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 eight inch round cake pans.

Put all ingredients into the bowl of your mixer. Mix well, scraping the sides of your bowl to make sure all items are incorporated. Turn up the speed to high and blend until the batter increases in volume and is more fluffy than runny.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester when inserted into the center of the cake, pulls out clean.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out onto cooling racks.


Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 Cups (3 cubes) Butter at room temperature
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Pound Bag of Powdered Sugar

Put all ingredients into the bowl of your mixer. Mix well, scraping the sides of your bowl to make sure all items are incorporated. Turn up the speed to high and blend until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Snow

It wasn't much...

but just enough to make some Saturday morning pre-breakfast sledding possible...

just enough for a 2 year old's first spin around the yard...

just enough to fulfill the winter-long wishes of a certain 4 year old...

just enough for some snowball tossing...

just enough... barely... and then it was gone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Cleaning Sale!


The official start of Spring is just a week away! In celebration, I have marked down nearly everything in my Finished Goods shop... and if the actual price of the item hasn't been marked down, then most likely the shipping has been deleted. Won't you stop in and do a little shopping?

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Pattern Release... Great Grandma Pearl's Birth Sampler

This sampler is the first in a series of four, which have been designed to honor my Great-Grandmothers. To read more about the life of Pearl, scroll down and read yesterday's post.

I included some snapshots from her life in the cover photo, and the little doll quilt that serves as backdrop is one that Pearl made and gave to my Mama when she was young. The young woman sitting on the barrel in front of Pearl in the lower photograph is my Grandma at about 15 years old.

Included with the pattern is a complete upper and lower case alphabet so that you can customize this sampler to honor the life or death of someone you love.

There is also an instruction sheet telling you my method of inserting a photograph into the finished sampler.

Stitch Count: 226 x 134

Model stitched over-one on
Zweigart 28ct. Cream linen
which was then stained upon completion.

Using DMC flosses:
167, 221, 223, 225, 842, 926, 3100, 3790, ecru

The lovely frame is an antique.

You may purchase the pattern through my etsy shop, but if you aren't an etsy user, you can contact me directly via email: beth@heartstringsamplery.com

You can also wait and buy from your local needlework shop. My distributors will receive their shipment early next week. If your LNS doesn't carry my designs, ask! I am still so new to the market that there are many out there who don't know about my work, and I am counting on you to help spread the word.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Great Grandma Pearl

As I have grown older, the stories of my ancestors have grown increasingly of interest to me. And most especially of the women that have gone before me, living their lives, caring for their children, making their piece of the world softer and more beautiful in small or large ways.

I am blessed to have people on both sides of my family tree that have compiled many countless hours worth of information from which I can glimpse traces of who they were, these people from whom I am made. I hope to continue their work, carrying the torch forward so that generations that follow me can also know a little about the people from which they are made.

Therefore, I have endeavored to create a series of birth samplers honoring my Great-Grandmothers. The birth samplers will be released one at a time over the next four months, starting tomorrow. But before the unveiling of the first sampler design, I wanted to share a little with you about the woman for whom I have made it.

Eunice Pearl French was born in 1887 in Kansas. Her mother died when she was just five years old. One year later, her father left home to take part in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893. Pearl’s first residence there was a sod hut, where she was tended by her older brothers while she in turn cared for her younger brother who was three.

Raised on neighboring farms & having attended the one room school together, Pearl and August Ray Wooley knew each other well. They were married on Valentines Day in 1906. They built a home and began farming, just as their parents had before them. They had 9 children, the first born in 1906, the last born in 1931.

They were hard-working farm people and did all they could to maintain a good life, but, as many others during that time, they saw the railroad cut across their land from corner to corner, then watched, during the Dust Bowl as their top soil literally dried up and blew away. By 1937 they had had enough, and they packed up the three children they had remaining at home (including my Grandma), as many belongings as they could fit into their car, and headed West to Oregon. Caravanning with them on their journey were 22 other family members, including most of their children with spouses and grandchildren.

Pearl loved to have family around her. She had a loving spirit and good sense of humor and was very fond of her grandchildren, of which she had some in her home nearly every day. She died in 1965 at 77 years of age.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Silly March

Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!

~Wallace Stevens


It was one of those March days
when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:
when it is summer in the light,
and winter in the shade.

~Charles Dickens


In the spring I have counted
one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather
inside of four and twenty hours.

~Mark Twain


Feisty Miss March has been toying with us lately, as you can see. All photos taken by me between Sunday and today.

And here is what one does when snow is threatened after baby veggies have begun to sprout in the greenhouse...

Baby chick warming lamps and a propane heater!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Burn Day

Every year, for a month or two, there is an open burn season out here in the country. We pile up our windfallen branches, dead Christmas tree, scraps of wood from projects, and even accept offerings from our town friends (I think one year we had at least 6 dead Christmas trees on the pile!). Burn day is a big deal around here, a chance to gather up the refuse of the winter and have it all be gone in just one afternoon without the expense of hauling it away to the landfill.

The initial "WOOF!" of the pile bursting into exuberant flame happened while the kids were safely napping in their rooms, but once the flames were significantly smaller and much safer to be around, they were happy to join in the fun.


Carrying boxes to be burned up...

Resting in the warmth of the flames...

Who can resist!...

Friday, March 05, 2010

While My Batteries Charge...

I can't take photos of the framed pieces just yet... I let my camera go too long without a recharge... so here, instead, are scans of the four scherenschnitte that I finished today...

"Heart of My Heart", a departure from my usual style of white on black, I used old and naturally aged scrapbook paper at the back and added love poetry torn from a badly damaged book that was printed just after 1900, together with my hand-cut silhouettes of a man and a woman... who just happens to be holding the sweetest old pressed flower in her hand...

"As the Deer"...

"Plumage"...

"Little Girl in Paradise", her silhouette is affixed to a print of old caligraphy embellishments...

I hope to get these listed in my shop this evening or tomorrow, but I'll also gladly make them available before hand if you are interested.

Happy Friday to you all!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Just Now

Tired, after a night with three interruptions due to a certain 2 year old with a stuffy, runny nose, I just now took a little stroll outside to see what I could see.

Trusty camera around my neck, and a favorite mug in my hand...

kid-free and independent (its naptime!), I breathed the fresh air and feasted my eyes on...





and WHAT, you ask, was in my mug?

This will creep some of you out just a little...

death by chocolate... what Peep could ask for a better way to go?