Friday, September 28, 2012

Getting There

It feels like it has taken forever... and, well, in comparison with most other gardeners it HAS taken at least half of forever.
But the tomatoes are really and truly ripening at last.

At least some of them. Enough for a batch or two of salsa.
I'm afraid most of the kazillion bushes will remain green though.
Too bad I'm still stocked up on Green Tomato Chutney from last years' crop.

Methinks a hoop house is in our future.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Princess Dress

A certain someone received a hand-me-down Princess Dress not too long ago. Handmade with love for another little girl, who has now sadly grown too tall.
"Don't look at the seams!" We were told. "Its just an outside-play-dress!"
We didn't have to look at any seams. We didn't have a chance, actually.
No sooner was that Pink Swirly Concoction out of the bag, than it was on her body.
So fast, as a matter of fact, that she didn't bother to find out which was front and which was back.
But when it comes to Pink Swirly Princess Dresses, who really cares anyway?

The best part? She didn't choose a Disney Princess to emulate. Not my girl... "I'm Pwincess Weia! Get back Dark Bader!" Then she turned a pirouette and made a "balneria move", ending with invisible lightsaber in hand.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


To help fuel the growing excitement in our household, I gave a little assignment to the kiddos: write a letter to your favorite Disney character, letting them know that you'll be visiting soon.

The 4 1/2 year old chose Snow White (even though she hasn't seen the movie yet). I thought her artistic rendering of her favorite princess was pretty amazing. Not to mention her letter formation... I gave no help with placement or penmanship, only guiding her letter choice to make sure it was at least readable.
The First Grader was planning to write his letter to Lightning McQueen, but changed his mind at the last minute.
When I asked why he had changed his mind, my sweet boy said, "Well, I thought maybe Mater didn't get as many fan letters as McQueen".


Please, world... let my little boy grow up to be just as sensitive to others' feelings when he's 16, 26, 36, 46... well... forever.

Monday, September 24, 2012


It would seem that Summer's hold has at last been broken.
Although September in truth is warmer in our corner of the nation than June, making the days feel as though the sun will stay awhile longer... the nights are downright chilly, and mornings are becoming damp and foggy.
I had candles burning just a few days ago, to help ward off the gloomy outdoors.
Meanwhile, I'm up to my chin in cucumbers and green beans, and therefore have been spending lots of time picking, cleaning, preserving for winter.
Yearning for soup and sweater weather, yet still holding out hope that the sun will stick around long enough for the tomatoes and pumpkins to ripen.
We're settling into our new school-time routine, parting ways each morning, having different adventures throughout the day, then enjoying each other all the more in the afternoon for having missed the time together.
I've been blessed by my Mama with a promise to watch the littlest once a week while I lend a hand in the First-grader's classroom. It has been a bit exhausting, spending so much time with all of those energetic bodies, but I couldn't be more thrilled to share in a part of his life, and do as much as I can to help the teacher and staff.

You might notice that I've been a bit less wordy, and have missed more days than usual here on this blog. My routine has been turned on its head, but I'll find a new groove soon, I'm sure. I always do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Italian Plums

For several years, we have been tenderly caring for an Italian Plum tree. It started its life as a healthy sapling, but was severely damaged its first winter by ice and snow.
Every Summer, I anxiously check for what is perhaps one of my very favorite tree fruits... and every year, I have been disappointed.
But this year... ah... this year, at last... my wait is over.
Just a few more days, two weeks at the most, and they will be ready to eat, every meal of the day.
How many ways can Italian Plums be eaten? I plan to find out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Reading Books

I'm not sure how I got so sidetracked, but I very belatedly realized that I neglected to answer one very important question, hailing back to my Q and A post...

"Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite books?"

The short answer... YES! and... YES!

The long answer... I grew up with my nose almost constantly in a book. I read while brushing my teeth, tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to read at the dinner table, I read while sitting up in a tree or cozy on a couch. Reading was my primary and favorite entertainment during my growing up years and into my 20's.

Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series, Richardson's Grandma's Attic series, any sort of Fairy Tale book I could lay hands on, a favorite being a collection of Grimm's.
I later advanced to Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series and Walter Farley's Black Stallion series. Then there was Caddie Woodlawn, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Pilgrim's Progress, and Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.
In my late pre-teens I discovered JRR Tolkien, and from there forward became an ever-after and eternal fan of Middle Earth, and the Inklings, which lead me to read CS Lewis' Space Trilogy, which lead me to a search for more well-written fantasy books, which led me to discover Steven Lawhead.
In between, I read a bajillion other books by Janette Oke, Michael Phillips and Judith Pella, Brock and Bode Thoene, George MacDonald, Corrie Ten Boom, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, even a little Jane Austen (although I have to confess that I'm much more a fan of the movie versions than her own writing style), Louisa May Alcott, and many of the classic poets.
I'm not the sort to buy books like crazy. I tend to check them out at the library first, then, if I love a book enough to know that I'll be reading it again, the next time I want to read it, I go out and buy it, or watch for a good sale and buy it in advance. That way I'm not buried in books that I'll never read again.

There are a few series that I have read at some point that I plan to add to my collection, one being Laurie King's Mary Russell Series, another being Jan Karon's Mitford series. I also plan to stock up on Elizabeth Gaskell's entire collection of books. If you haven't read her yet, she's the creator of Cranford, writing just a short time after Jane Austen was writing, but with a more village-level view of life in the England of the time.

All told, I would say that Dickens, Gaskell, Tolkien, and the Bronte sisters are my very favorite classic authors. Current day favorites are still to be discovered.

Because the truth of the matter is... I don't read much these days. Ever since having kids and starting my needlework design business, all of my sit-down time is either spent reading children's books or stitching. I have grand plans for catching up on the last decade of best-sellers, but it will be a long while before I find time to do any serious reading again.

Currently on my bedside stand are the books that I pick up from time to time, all time favorites and curiosities should the mood strike...
I also pull very often from my healthy supply of craft and diy books, which live in my studio...
My current guilty-pleasure, squeeze-in-a-few-minutes-each-night-in-bed-before-my-eyelids-droop, is a series by Robert Jordan, that I've been reading since 1994. The author passed away a few years ago, leaving the series unfinished, but with a detailed summary of how it would be completed. His family then interviewed and chose an author to finish the series as close to the original voice as possible. I'm working my way through the entire collection of 15 books (including a prequel), trying to time it so that I finish book 14 when the final volume is released in January.
In summary, when it comes to books, I would much rather read science fiction and fantasy over any other genre, can find satisfaction in historical novels or stories about the 18th and 19th centuries, but don't ever give me a silly romance or story that will make me cry.

Because if you do, I will hunt you down in the night and put ice cubes between your toes before forcing you to eat soggy cereal while listening to that Macarena song.

Oh... I'm also reading this:
What do YOU like to read?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This One is Pretty Sweet Too

My kids see me stitching and sewing all the time. After repeatedly showing interest, I got them both started on a project of their own a few years ago.

While Little Miss has a short attention span and is still working on her first attempt, my Boy has advanced to project number two.
And this time a larger hoop, dangling thread tail (instead of looping it through the eye for him).
He has been given full supervised access to the colors in my DMC organizer, carefully choosing what he thinks is just the right shade for each section.
AND... he is stitching one of his own designs! I transferred (by tracing with a pencil) his favorite drawing of Mario onto plain white cotton material.
This is how we spent a few Summer afternoons together, just enjoying each others' company.
Sitting under a shade tree on our picnic quilt, chatting about nothing.
I hope he doesn't grow out of his interest in stitching with me any time soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sweet as Can Be

I think you all probably know by now just what a man's man I'm married to...

He splits logs into fencerails by hand!
He builds greenhouses and kennels and chicken coops!
He operates heavy equipment!
He likes to shoot things with guns!
He chops down trees and turns them into firewood!
He hunts! He fishes! He has a beard!

He ... paints ... toenails?
When it comes to a certain little girl, I guess he'll do just about anything.
Now that I think about it, he's painted mine a few times too... back when my belly was so big with babies that I couldn't reach.
What a guy. Tough and sweet... just how I like 'em.

Friday, September 14, 2012

*NEW* Christmas Band Sampler

This is one of two brand new Winter/Holiday designs being released today... now doesn't that make you happy? It makes me happy... but mostly because I already finished stitching mine, and now all I have to do is wait a few months until its time to start displaying them. But don't worry, they're both very quick designs to stitch up, each taking me just under a month to finish, so you have plenty of time! *wink*

A few years ago, I purchased a very old and worn-out band sampler all done in reds and greens. With a little research, I’ve decided that it is most likely Scottish in origin, and perhaps from the late 1700’s or early 1800’s. I’ve often thought of it as my Christmas band sampler, just because of the colors. This year, I decided to chart the antique, missing stitches and all, then used it as a springboard to create a truly festive sampler just right for holiday decorating.

I filled in the missing stitches, did a little re-arranging, added a bit here and a bit there, using other old Scottish samplers for inspiration, then finally, embedded the classic American phrase, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” within the classic layout.

This sampler is stitched entirely with cross stitch with the exception of the large capital V, and the words MERRY CHRISTMAS and YEAR, which are stitched with eyelet stitch.

Stitch Count: 120 x 295
Model stitched on DMC 28ct. Natural

Using flosses from The Gentle Art: 0350 Mulberry, 7019 Pomegranate, 7061 Caramel Corn, 7080 Endive,

And from Weeks Dye Works: 1240 Dirt Road, 2202 Bullfrog

This design is now available in my etsy shop, and will be going out to my distributors and the shops on my automatic shipments list soon. If you prefer to bypass etsy and order directly through me, you can send me an email:

*NEW* Baby, Its Cold Outside

This is one of two brand new Winter/Holiday designs being released today... now doesn't that make you happy? It makes me happy... but mostly because I already finished stitching mine, and now all I have to do is wait a few months until its time to start displaying them. But don't worry, they're both very quick designs to stitch up, each taking me just under a month to finish, so you have plenty of time! *wink*

I have always liked the classic Christmas tune, “Baby, Its Cold Outside”. Its a playful tune, festive and perhaps a little bit naughty, but conjures up images of crackling fires and cozy rooms protected by stormy weather. Written by Frank Loesser in 1944, it was originally sung as a duet with his wife.

When I designed this little pattern, I was aiming for a piece that could hang on your walls not just during the holiday season, but also afterward, through the duration of the winter season. A little something winter-y to connect Christmas and Valentines Day. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The entire model is worked with cross stitches, using one thread worked over-two.

Stitch Count: 159 x 103Model stitched on Picture This Plus 36ct Ale

Using flosses from The Gentle Art: 7019 Pomegranate, 7025 Shaker White, 7033 Harvest Moon, 7060 Picnic Basket, 7082 Piney Woods

And from Weeks Dye Works: 1092 Grits

This design is now available in my etsy shop, and will be going out to my distributors and the shops on my automatic shipments list soon. If you prefer to bypass etsy and order directly through me, you can send me an email:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ode to Corn

I know a few people that would call what I'm about to say heresy...
I like taking pictures of the sun shining through my corn patch even better than eating it.
Fresh from the cob, grilled, steamed, slathered in butter and sea salt, whichever way you prefer... capturing its textures with my camera is so much more delightful.
There aren't many places more magical than a corn patch at sunset.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hearts on Fire

Do you remember my firewood end-wall from last year? You know, the one with a heart embedded right into it?

Well, by the end of last winter, it looked like this (minus the mound of freshly cut wood, of course)...
I didn't like burning up my heart. Made me sad.
So I decided to make another one this year. This time better, I told myself.
And with more stacks on the other side to keep that greedy woodstove from burning it up so fast.
Actually, we have a new woodstove this year, bound to be much more efficient and frugal, so perhaps this time my heart can wait to be burned up in next Summer's firepit.
A slightly more romantic demise, in my opinion.