Feb 10, 2017

Perserverance Pays Off

Here we are... almost halfway through February.... and another month closer to Spring... warmer weather.  Ahh!  I cannot wait.  Even though, my area has not had much snow this year (thank goodness)....

In addition to having the perseverance year after year to deal with the cold and snow, over the past few months I've been dealing with a challenge of my own stupidity making.  I came across a recipe that called for apple molasses.  I'd never heard of it before, so of course I Google'd it.  Ten dollars for a small jar... are they crazy?  In retrospect, it may have been cheaper if I'd just paid the $10.  Why you ask?  Read on:
Long time readers know how I'm into DIY.  Again, Google was my friend.  I found out I could make my own apple molasses by boiling down apple cider. Growing up, my Dad and uncle made maple syrup by tapping maple trees and boiling it down so I knew what was involved.  Piece of cake.  This journey started last fall.
As I was boiling down the cider on the stove, my brother called me and said he had time to replace the brakes on my car.  When bro calls and says he has time, I have to go.  I decided to put the cider in the crockpot and let it boil down -- safe enough and I didn't have to "babysit".  The next day was a Monday, so I had to go to work.  The cider was soooo close to being done, but not quite.  Since I had a doctor's appointment that day, the plan was to let it cook in the crock and stop at home on my way back to work to shut it off.  Well..... I forgot.  When I got home that night, I found this:
What surprised me was that when I left the house in the morning, there was only about 3" of liquid in the bottom of the crockpot.  When I got home, there was an expansion of crusty, crunchy, sponge-like blob in the crockpot!  Ewww.
It was all I could do to get the solid part out of the crockpot. Then I soaked it. Guess what?  No amount of soaking will remove burnt on apple cider!  Barkeeper's Friend... Nope.  Softscrub... Nope.  I tried all the obvious cleansers to get the stuff off to no avail.  I Google'd burnt crockpot and found a blog... Yes, a blog! Vinegar and baking soda.  It took a long, long, LONG time (perserverance) to get all the burnt out of my crockpot, but it worked!  Big thanks to The Acid Truth

What else have I been up to?  I've been stitching, but there isn't anything I can show since both projects are for exchanges.  What I can show is my finished "masterpiece" watercolor painting.  I kind of chuckle when I say masterpiece because it's far from, but that's what the instructor for the class I took referred to our project as.

This painting is based off a photograph I took in 2002 of the Pecatonica River near where I live.  I don't think I did the photograph justice, but I'm pretty happy with how the painting turned out seeing as I'm still a newbie.  I'm a much better photographer, lol.

Until next time....


Jan 3, 2017

Out With The Old, In With The New

Recently, I had a really nice surprise come in the mail.  My stitching friend, Deb, asked me if I would like an adult coloring book featuring Japanese Woodblock Prints.  Yes!  Japanese artwork is so beautiful.  Most of my long time readers know that I have an Okinawan (Japan) heritage so this coloring book was right up my alley.  This isn't just any coloring book, though.  It shows a color print of the actual artwork and the history of the artist as well as a corresponding coloring page.  It's VERY cool!
Thank you so much, Deb!

The end of 2016 brought several finishes. 

Handmade Charlotte kit by Buscilla
Wood ornament stitched with cotton threads

Designer: Alita Designs
Fabric: 14ct Cream Gold Lurex Aida
Fibers:  Cotton threads leftover from misc kits
Embellishments: Ricrac, Grosgrain Ribbon, Gold Seed Beads
Woolly & Cosy Ornament
Designer: Valentina Sardu 
Fabric: 28ct Antique White Cashel Linen 
Fibers: Cotton threads leftover from misc kits
Embellishments: Ricrac
I ended 2016 with a total of ten finishes. Not as many as I'd like, but a stitch is a stitch, right?  My finishes can be seen HERE.

The beginning of 2017 started off with stitching on Japanese Garden.  You heard it right... I pulled out JG.  The last time I worked on it, it looked like this:
As of today, I finished all the gold brackets and most of the purple Jessica stitches.
After having 11 PTO days off work, today was my first day back.  Talk about busy!  Tomorrow will be just as busy.  I don't know if I mentioned it... a few months ago, I took over project billings for the office I work out of.  It has consumed my days at work.  It's challenging and I seem to learn something new every day. I thought it was ironic that the first day back for the new year is Festival of Sleep Day. LOL
How many of you made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, exercise more, blah, blah, blah?  I joined a gym a few months ago... a nice perk provided by my employer.  I had been going 3-4 times a week until December hit... holidays and cold weather have thrown my schedule off.  I seem to do better when I go to the gym directly after work. Zumba classes, weight training, swimming, stationary bike, and elliptical are the things I do in rotation.  Tonight was my first night back... weight training, biking, and elliptical.
I'm going to leave off by saying that I wish all of my readers the very best 2017. May the new year be everything you wish for.

Dec 25, 2016

12 Days of Christmas

I'm participating in a 12 Days of Christmas gift exchange coordinated on one of the Yahoo cross stitch groups.  I received 12 wrapped and numbered gifts from Pam K in TN.  It seems I've known her forever online, but this is the first time I've been in an exchange with her.  :)  Without further adieu....

Day one brought me a pack of highlighter markers in neon yellow.  I love office supplies so I'm sure these will come in handy.

Day two brought me a bright, flower pin cushion made of felt.  It brings a little spring/summer into the day as the temperatures here are in the negatives and the ground is covered in snow.  This will come in handy when I sew as I usually just throw my pins on the table, lol.

I'm not sure of the other gifts since I haven't opened them yet, but with the first two gifts there were handwritten notes from Pam.  Very nice touch!

Day three brought me a pretty peacock thread organizer. I've not seen one like it... very pretty.

On day four, I received two mini flashlights with a note about never having too many.  I'd have to agree.  I'm going to put one in my car and one in my bedroom.

Pam taped the note on the outside of the wrapped gift for day five. I was excited to unwrap it... a sparky infinity scarf made by Pam!

Day six brought me a wooden owl stitchable kit.  I've always want to try one of these!  Owls are so in vogue now, too.

I have always wanted one of these!  Whenever I went to Harbor Freight, I thought about getting one, but never did.  Now, I have one. Yay!

Earlier this year, I involved myself in yet another creative hobby... adult coloring.  Day eight brought me two new coloring books.  How fun is that??

The smell of lilacs brings back loving memories of childhood. I had to LOL when I read Pam's note about how difficult it was to find "anything" that had the scent of lilacs.  At this time of year, I imagine so.  :)  I already have the gifts in use. The house smells great!

DAY 11

This day brought me the letter "M".  I'm looking forward to personalizing it and hanging it in my craft room.

DAY 12
Imagine my surprise when I opened this gift and found Victorian Pansies kits... I did a couple of these years ago: a needlebook and a scissor fob.  I am so excited to have more matching accessories. I didn't even know these existed!

I had so much fun opening these gifts.  Pam did a really great job of choosing gifts that fit ME.  I loved the handwritten notes that came with each gift.  Thank you to Pam for everything!

Dec 13, 2016

Christmas is in the Air

This will be the third Christmas without my parents. For some reason, this year is bothering me more than the previous ones.  My Mom loved holidays... especially Christmas. She was like an excited little kid opening her presents.  My Dad was the grumpy sort on holidays... even though he didn't show it, he liked opening gifts and having family there.

I managed to get my Christmas decorations up early this year.  It's nice to come home and turn on the lights to the tree and mantle.

In my last post, I mentioned I participated in two ornament exchanges this year.  I received the second one shortly after my post.  Here's the one I received from Sharon S in NJ.


Reindeer Card
by Lesley Teare

I was hoping that my giveaway question would elicit creative responses, but alas ::sigh:: no one took the bait.  As my readers may recall, I asked what does an Ott light, screwdriver, needle nose pliers, wire, and a lighter have in common.

They all assisted me with this problem:

The starter cord on the snowblower broke on my first pull during the first snowfall.  Luckily, "Little Blow" caught and stayed running until I got the driveway and sidewalk clean.

According to Google, the starter assembly above isn't made to be repaired. The manufacturer would rather you buy a new assembly for $45.  What's a girl to do?  YouTube it, of course!  The video wasn't quite as easy as the guy made it look.  An hour later and a bit of frustration, I finally got it fixed.  Saved $45 and I was so proud of myself!  I'm my Dad's girl, for sure.

There was one winning guess to my giveaway question.  Drum roll please.....
Pam in IL
"As for the screwdriver, pliers, lighter, wire and Ott light -- I think they were used for a snowblower repair project."
Pam -- I'll be getting something out in the mail to you soon!
Until next time...

Dec 5, 2016

Marvelous Monday Update 12/5/2016

On December 4, my area was greeted with the first snowfall of the year.  Mother Nature decided to bless us with 5.3" of very wet, heavy snow.  I went out twice to clear the driveway.  The second time, it took me two hours.  Welcome to winter!

I've participated in two ornament exchanges this year. Both of the ornaments I created for my partners turned out so good I wanted to keep them for myself.  Anyone else have this problem?

Design: Woolly & Cosy
Designer:  Valentina Sardu
Fabric: 32ct White Opalescent Linen
Fibers: DMC threads
I finished it into an ornament using a green fabric with tiny Christmas trees and swirling silver dots.  Red felt was cut with a pinking rotary cutter and sandwiched between the stitched design and the green backing.  A green satin ribbon topped off the ornament.  It was such a quick stitch, I'd like to do a couple more.

Design: One More Stitch
Designer: The Victoria Sampler
Fabric: 28ct Natural Linen
Fibers: DMC
Embellishments: Beads, Buttons, String Pearls
This design was featured in the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue.  I took some creative liberties with finishing it.  Both the front and back are stitched on the Natural Linen.  The back is personalized with the recipient's name as well as mine.  I sent it to Deb H in TX as a Christmas Ornament Exchange.  Doh!  I just realized I didn't stitch the date.  Buttons and beads are on the front and back.  The edge is trimmed with string pearls and topped with a satin ribbon hanger.
Next up is what I received from Deb. It's called Snowy Owl Snowman by Jim Shore.  It's absolutely beautiful... both the stitching and the finishing!  She has a blog that shows lots of her other gorgeous finishes. If you're interested in eye candy, click on over HERE.

Thank You, Deb!

I've been practicing my watercolor skills (or lack thereof) using YouTube videos. I recently did this barn painting using Shinhan Professional Watercolors. One of my classmates bought a set when she was in Korea. The paints work really nice and are very vibrant.

I wasn't real happy with how it turned out so I gave it to a friend who thought it "is awesome".  I am going to do another one and adjust the color values a bit.

I've made a bit of progress on the "masterpiece" as my instructor called our projects.  Once I get farther along, I'm going to set up an appointment to get some critique from him.

Even though my photo shows the dark bank on the left side, I'm not really liking how it looks. I'm going to try to scrub some of it out of there to make it lighter or a different shade.

I'm going to put together a package of things from my stash for the person who can answer this question:  What does an Ott light, needle nose pliers, lighter, and wire have in common?  (Hint: a project)  Leave a comment with your guess.  Giveaway open to U.S. residents, only.  Sorry!



First Snow by The Drawn Thread
Click HERE.