Homespun Gathering

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Vacation and Stitching Paradise

  Today ended up being absolutely beautiful with highs in the low 70s and sunshine.  This was very welcome after the last several days.  There was an annual local living history demonstration yesterday.  Most of it was indoors, but I've been under the weather for the last few weeks and just didn't have the energy.  Hopefully by the next event (music) I'll be able to go.

I am feeling much better after seeing my chiropractor for my regularly scheduled appt. on Friday.  He's a holistic provider, so when he suggested a couple of nutraceuticals I took him up on it.  

"No, I'm not gargling with salt water, doc.  Yes, I will start immediately." 

 It really isn't just for sore throats, but I never think about it for anything else.  Old habits die hard.
I could already tell today.  The hoarseness is going away and the lungs improving.  Never been so happy my MD's office couldn't get me in that day.


I will not inundate you with pictures from the Leaders' Trip.  Just the highlights.  Honestly, neither Mr. HH or I took many.  This trip was one day shorter than normal, and other than one meeting Mr. HH had the day after we got to Jamaica the time was basically ours to do as we pleased.  The excursions were something we either weren't interested in or didn't want to do again.  I was hoping to go to a working plantation with yummy fruits, cocoa and spices (think nutmeg).  Sadly, Sun Valley Plantation would have to do without us.  A two hour bus ride away was more than we could handle.

So what did we actually do?  We slept in until our bodies woke up and went to bed when we were tired.  Now, that is luxury.  

view from our room the afternoon we arrived

Typically, the company has a meal on the beach the first night after cocktail hour.   Not this year.  It POURED, and the dinner was canceled.  Fortunately, the meet and greet was under a roof but definitely not much room.  Let's just say the bottom of my full length terry cloth dress was soaked.  I met the wife of one of the former company owners.  What a pleasure to talk to her.  We have similar interests and backgrounds.  We went back to the room at 8:00 to order room service.  It arrived at 10:00 p.m.  As we had not eaten a real meal since 7:00 that morning we scarfed down our food and passed out.

But who can complain when you wake up to this?  David had a breakfast meeting with the new and and outgoing CEOs and a couple of others the next morning, so more room service it was.  

Aaaaaaaaaah, entire pot of coffee I didn't have to share.  I must have still been pretty hungry considering everything I ate.  The oatmeal came with grated coconut and a banana, but it was the unexpected nutmeg on the oatmeal that caught me by surprise.  Man, that was good :-). 

Typically one side is nicer than the other at these resorts, but not here.  This was the Eastern side as we walked out of our third floor room.

As I said this trip was all about relaxation, This resort is on a peninsula that is quite small, so the annual beach walk was extremely short before we chillaxed in a beach lounger for two.

Every year the company drops a gift in the room.  It's typically something related to where we are staying.  In Costa Rica we received a cutting board and a cookbook with healthy and simple local dishes.  This year a bottle of Jamaican rum with Jamaican coffee and spices.  

Normally, I would have been a little bummed about the alcohol. but if I can bake with it then I'm okay.  Okay, this is something I can work with.  Judging from the size of the bottle I'll have it for a very long time.  Just think about how long it would take you to finish a bottle of vanilla this size.  Then multiply it.  I don't know about you, but I can just taste the smoked jerk chicken this summer.  That smoker I got the hubs last Father's Day is really going to pay off.

The one night we went to a resort restaurant I play with my food.  I swear, y'all.  You just can't take me anywhere.  You can't tell by the picture, but this lemon pastry cream 
and puffed pastry (mille feuille) was delicious.

Okay here is the segway to stitching.  Please tell me I'm not the only one looking at that glass of juice and seeing over dyed fancy floss.

I decided to bring my car project on the plane.  I just wasn't getting very far in the car anymore.  Not a huge fan of stripy animals, so I went in circles with the floss.  I couldn't help but think of you, Babara.  No, this is not the sophisticated stuff you usually see.  On the flight down I worked on the pork butt, and by the flight home I was on the Boar's Head.  Now, I happen to know that's not really the pork butt (shoulder).  Just a play on words for humour.

Whoopsie,  I forgot I had to finish the leaves on this first.  Lots of starting and stopping on the flowers, so I left them for a time I wasn't on the plane.

Here is what I was stitching.  The linen is mystery linen from my tiny stash.  I've cut it to the right size for a sewing book, but the jury is still out.  Stacy's directions can get me stumped.  I'm definitely looking forward to the heart. What will it be?  A needle book?  A scissor keep?  A bowl filler?

FlossTube Got me again.    Caroline of Stash Sisters showed An 1840 Biedermeier Sampler by Needlework Press.  I immediately fell in love and got the pattern ordered.  With the help of Kim at Sassy Jacks I was provided with a overdyed conversion in cottons instead of silks.  The only color I switched out after the mail arrived was the green already in my stash.  You can do a lot over a cell phone, but color is hard.

I live 5 hours away from Sassy Jacks, but Kim's is my chosen needlework shop (CNS) after mine closed in 2008.  It will be October before I ever place my first step inside her shop, but more on that later.

Here is where I was when I realized I was going have to unstitch everything but the wreath.  "Why?" you ask.

It was when I began using one strand of fancy floss on the 32 count that I realized two strands was just too much.  No wonder it looked like I was stitching with yarn.  DMC is clearly thinner--lesson learned.  But, boy, is she going to be gorgeous.

The double border lines have to be filled with satin stitch, but we are coming close on Sarah Braizear 1829.

Since the unrolling I've finished both pots of flowers, the four birds, a few crosses and two sets of butterfly outlines.  I'm a bit two tired to fill those in tonight.  Will I finish this by Gathering on the 18th?  Only God knows.  I'm not pushing anything as stitching should be fun.

I'm grateful for:
  • coffee
  • nutmeg
  • being home
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Spring and Catching Up

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.  Here it has been warm with bright sunshine  and green everywhere.   

But last time we talked it was Christmas, so let's get caught up a bit.  This might take a minute so grab something delicious and come right back.

Here you can see why I no longer store WIPs on the Shaker shelf.

Yes, Abigail, you've been spotted.

And here is the completed project from last time.  I had a counting error in my tree making it too short.  I was NOT going to rip anything out so I found some motifs that would work and stitched them in.  I can't help but think the yummy delicousness in the bottles is eggnog.    I love eggnog. :-)

I haven't got a clue how I'm going to finish this, but there is plenty of time before Christmas.

Merry Christmas Pillow and Pincushion
SubRosa Designs

Every year I like to make a coconut cake.  My cousin Christine (by marriage) used to make my grandmother one every year.  Mom will eat any kind of cake, but really all she wants is chocolate.  Every year I just want coconut cake for Christmas.  This is a 1950s style three layer cake from Phyllis Stokes on YouTube.  You can find it here.  So good.

 Of course it's not Christmas without Cranberry Sauce.  I have some cranberries in the freezer for this summer when I'm craving more.  I love finding notes on recipes, and not just mine.  I even leave notes of what never to make again and why.  Those are probably my favorite kind of notes.

No notes needed on the next recipe.  My grandmother's angel biscuits please every single time.  It's been a while since I made them though.  I had no idea how many angels this recipe made.  This is probably a 1.5-2 gallon container and we took quite a few to Mom's while this cooled in the fridge.

Every year I get one present for Christmas.  It must be a good one . . . but only one.  I like it that way.  It's kinda how our whole family rolls.  The gifts are meaningful. and the Christmas gift hangover never comes.  

This year I struggled finding something until I remembered never knowing which part of the house certain rolling pins were in.  Eureka!  I needed a 6 gallon crock.  Yes, indeedy.  That's exactly what I needed.  So I found one on Etsy and bought it.  I'm incredibly happy with it, but it may need little friends so it doesn't feel lonely. 

Mom gives us money for Christmas.  Again I was having a difficult time figuring out what to invest in.  Then it occured to me "pie safe".  So I took her money, added it to other money and went over to The Old Mercantile.  I had this pie safe made so the bottom shelf was a bit taller than the other two.  It also accommodates the taller photo albums.  I had wanted a pie safe from here for several years but couldn't figure out a color scheme.  I decided on blue and grey.  Mom is a Tennessean.  Dad was from Michigan.  It's a bit of a Civil War Reference, but I mean it in the most positive of ways.  This safe has family photos and three generations of cookbooks on Mom's side--now all in one place.  Of course now the rolling pins in the crock are on top.  :-)

As far as color goes, it's more of a Navy even though it's showing far brighter.

At some point at the beginning of the year I saw Jenny Doan making this Starburst Quilt on a MO Star Quilt Company tutorial.   Hey, I think I can do that, but I really don't care for the color scheme.

No worries,  I just bought a layer cake of French General Fabric and got started.  This top is made in four quarters all facing a different direction.  After I made the first quarter I took a picture of it and put it in my Layout app to see what the whole top put together would look like.  I think I like it.

This is a lap size quilt, but perfect for stitching on cool evenings.  That is if I ever stop stitching long enough to quilt it.  It's going to take a minute though.  I'm insisting on doing this by hand just like my mom and her mother before her.  Boy, I sure am glad they were no strangers to machine piecing--lol.  If I had to hand piece these things we probably wouldn't have a quilt top.

Starburst Quilt
Missouri Star Quilt Company
French General Fabrics
La Vie en Rouge
It's not often I want to go see a movie.  It has to be good enough not to want to stitch through it.  I really enjoyed this book brought to life.  After finding out how the bathtub scene was filmed old school I like the movie even more.  I imagine some will think the music isn't as good, but I say how in the world is a movie score going to compete with a favorite of over 50 years?  The music was wonderful if you ask me.  I imagine it will be just as popular as time goes by.

A little more French General La Vie en Rouge fabric to make a project envelope.  This one will barely fit in my luggage for an upcoming trip.  Sheesh!  It's only a 24" Rolaframe.  That suitcase looked so much bigger than that.  I already have the French General Fabric for the 36" Millennium frame.  I just need to make it.

Oh yes, just guess who had to claim the envelope while I wasn't looking. 

If you don't follow me on Instagram you may not realize the progress I've made on Sarah Brazier 1829 from Hands Across the Sea Samplers.  

To say she's required focus is an understatement.  Here is where I was off by one or two and realized as I was stitching in Mister Squirrel.   It used to look like a Mario Bros. game but no more.

There has been constant checking and rechecking.  this column was only off by one horizontal row of stitches.

Look closely and you will see how accurate things have to be.  Motifs butt up against motifs.  One stitch really does matter.

It felt so good to finally be at the top of this sampler.  We are nearly 7 months in today.

Here is where I left off last night.  If I were to use one word to describe my experience with this sampler it would be "tenacity".   She really has found a special place in my heart.

But as we finish up Sarah there are other things in the wings.  I ordered the wrong size linen for His Eye is on the Sparrow sometime back.  I've been looking for a while for the right design to cover my mistake. Merrily, Merrily We Welcome Spring takes up nearly all of it.  I've also been looking for a larger spring design, so this is the best of both worlds.

While surfing FlossTube a few weeks ago I stumbled upon an interview Gary Parr did with Nicola Parkman at the Attic.  I'd seen it before, but paid little attention to the tutorial book on the Montenegrin Stitch.  I had no use for it then.  I have great use for it now, and so glad Sassy Jacks had a copy.  In that same order I ordered some smalls from Heartstring Samplery.  Beth has graciously showed how she does all these in real time on her FlossTube videos.  To balance out these smalls, you know I had to order another large sampler right?  HATS did it again at Market.  Elizabeth Weston is a stunner.  A big thank you goes to Sandra Moffitt who charted and stitched the model.  Y'all, these cards don't do the model I saw on FlossTube justice.   I can only imagine what she'll look like stitched.

Carolyn's latest Stash Sisters FlossTube had my jaw drop again.  An 1840 Biedermeier Sampler is going to be just stunning.  I needed a spring design to go above our front door, but I was really constrained by size.  There isn't a lot of vertical space, and I'm only putting one nail in that wall.  I don't mind silk, but I do mind having silk I won't use again, and everyone seems to have their own favorite brand.  Fortunately, for me Sassy Jacks came to the rescue and did a color conversion to Classic Colorworks and Weeks in cotton.  I only had to switch out one color--the green.  I needed the green to look green instead of tan.  If I weren't 5 hours from my LNS then this wouldn't have been an issue, but I'm so thrilled to have them do the kind of things only a local shop will do.

More fun from FlossTube today.  Valerie from Stitching in the Barn posted a second video from her friend Kay's house.  This friend has over 100 samplers in her home.  If you love antique samplers and haven't already seen these videos I highly recommend you run, not walk, to YouTube.

Of course, there was lots of squirrel chasing during the video.  In the process I found a wonderful 18th century reproduction that will go really well with Sarah.  I have some Norwegian roots in my past, so this sampler will be really fun.  I've printed out the order form.  There is no way to purchase from The Essamplaire online, so the paper route I go.

I think I've mentioned cutting down the aging ornamental crabapple in our front yard.  Of course, I want its replacement to go in the same place.  This means stump work.  I know it will be faster with a chainsaw, but there are almost as many rocks as dirt clods, and I'm not really interested in spinning one out or dulling the blade.  So it's me, my trowel and a long handled ax.  At first I had a hand saw, but the ax it working much faster.  Just think of  a complicated web of roots mostly covered by dirt.  This is going to take a month of Sundays to complete.

Here are just a couple of the stubborn little buggers.

Fortunately for me the Prairie Fire Crabapple replacement came in a bucket of soil and is doing just fine.

The beautiful flowers are now gone and the fruit is developing.

Last fall Mom had asked me to take down this weeping cherry my grandmother had planted about 60 years ago.  I had hopes of  having a master carpenter from church turn the trunk into a dough bowl.  Judging from the large hole in the heartwood the bowl is now off the table.

Mom wasn't ready to let the tree go anyway.  So we cut off all the dead limbs and made her as pretty as we could for the time she has left.  I still say this is a sweet ending to the story.  I love that tree too.

My husband knows me to find animals in food ALL THE TIME.  Turns out I made a duck the other day when using the vegetable peeler to get ginger for tea.  I didn't notice until later.

There is nothing like learning about a new plant.  I found this butterweed in my yard about a week ago.  It seemed like a good idea at the time to bring it in the house.  Then the scent got so strong I had to put it across the room.  Of  course, when I noted the dropping pollen I flung it into the back yard, but it sure was a good idea at the time.  :-)

I am grateful for
  • our son
  • coffee
  • leaves on the trees
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Monday, January 7, 2019

The History of the Homespun Gathering

In the early 1980s a LNS opened locally.  Anne named her shop Homespun Corner.  The shop was beautiful—wood floors, lots of space to move around, gorgeous threads, a beautiful selection of linens, inviting rotations of displays, an antique cash register and a welcoming spirit.  Classes were offered and monthly stitch-ins were held—the Homespun Gathering.  Women would do all sorts of needle arts, and among all the cross stitching there was wool appliqué, punch needle, rug hooking and quilting.  One Saturday a month women would gather from near and far, bring a dish to share for lunch and, of course, whatever they were stitching on.  But, of course, all good things must come to an end and Anne needed more time to spend with family, so in 2008 she closed her shop to do that.  Believe me the shop is still sorely missed.   The shop may have closed but the Gatherings continued.  At the beginning the Gatherings were at the local library, but the rules changed for reserving rooms, and we decided to move to a local church where one of our members attends.  This Saturday was our first meeting, and we love it. Not only do we have a new place, we decided to meet 6 times a year instead of four.  I can’t tell you how that blesses my heart.  The wisdom, talent, and sweet spirit in that room is way more than I ever dreamed of.

I should mention that while the Gatherings were held at the shop I was too shy to attend.  A few years ago I finally mustered up the courage to go after Lynne, my framer, mentioned the ladies were still gathering at the Library.  It took me a year for my life to settle down, but since then I have attended every single Gathering.  We share finishes, enabling, stories and lots of fellowship. I am truly blessed.  

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Greetings, everyone.  I just wanted to pop in and wish you a very Merry Christmas.  It will be quite simple here at Halland House--just the way we like it.

Below you will see a small little Christmas design I started today for a birthday SAL.  I'll share when finished, but for now here she is in her current state before I begin making the three layer coconut cake.  You know.  The kind you used to be able to get in the 1950s . . . or so I've been told.

Merry Christmas Pillow and Pincushion
SubRosa Designs

Things for which I'm thankful:
  • packages of pre-grated coconut
  • ovens
  • refrigerators
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sunday Stitches

Today has been glorious after the two days of rain we had and a high dew point.  Bright sunshine and gusty winds have been abundant.  Normally, I'd be taking advantage of the 33° dew point to roll Springerle out, but today I just don't have the energy.  Tomorrow is promising with the cold front coming in.

Springerle are a pressed cookie made traditionally with wooden molds carved by hand.  Once baked they have a dense cake-like texture.  These cookies have enjoyed by many for around 500 years.  I have a resin/wood composite mold . . . just one.  Just not the same, but I do love the walnut shape in this mold though.

My hand carved molds have always come from Gene Wilson with the exception of that one.  He's pretty awesome.

To preserve the impression, the cookies must dry for 12-24 hours.  Some bakers cover the pans with a thin layer of food safe wax.  I just use parchment.

Once dry the cookies can bake at a low temperature.  Time and temperature both will depend on the size of the cookie.  The springerle's traditional flavor is anise and my favorite.  Not a fan?  I make this cookie in vanilla, orange, raspberry, chocolate and one new flavor for this year--rootbeer.  If a girl wants tasters so she can practice she has to branch out.  I did assure my first ever taster her favorite flavor (anise) would always be the first of the season.

Here is a photo I forgot to include in the last post.  Walking around the farm with Mom a few weeks ago I couldn't help but think of Adam and Eve samplers.  We have the serpent.  Now, all we need is Adam and Eve.

Did I mention the tree in our front yard was finally down.  I didn't realize it was a golf tree.  There it was a hole in one. :-)

The dog days of summer have passed, but are still at Heidi's back door.  Poor puppy has had difficulty with bladder control.  The first vet visit sent her back home with an antibiotic for the UTI and a medication to help tighten up her sphincter.  It wasn't long before she quit eating and drunk enough to still swallow.  Well that didn't last long.

Back to the vet we went.  Right now were trying some hormone replacement since our spade sweetie doesn't make her own anymore.  It might be working, but I'm waiting till the box is gone.  Seems like the worst side-effect is constipation.  

Bless her heart.  We'll get there.

Speaking of our beloved pets . . . 
Abigail has started being my stitching buddy from time to time.  Do you see the rubber band behind my ort box?  I initially put that on so I could secure the top for travel.  The bonus is the rubberband helps keep the box from sliding around when I stitch in the car.  No, I'm not driving at the time.

I did learn the rubberband has to be pretty tight.  Cutie Head removed the last one and was about to be in my fancy floss trimmings.  

I've noticed she's not as interested in my DMC.  Judging her resting place I rest my case.

Our Homespun Gathering always has good food, fun and show and tell.  Sometimes it also has items that need a new home.  I'm really embarrassed at my reaction to Cathy's items.  She brought in some items from her old house for us to take if we wanted.  That's all the encouragement I needed.  Here is where I lost me ever lovin' mind.  Beeline straight for the box.  Grabbed the quilt and almost went out the door, before embarrassment and some guilt seized me.  Before walking out the door and putting the  quilt in the trunk I at least opened it up to show the other stitchers.

This quilt had been left behind in her house years ago by the prior owner.  A little pull on the seams revealed hand piecing.  The basting stitches used for the hand quilting and the many knots on the outside of the quilt would never won any blue ribbons, but I just love this quilt--cotton batting and all.    Someone was just trying to put together a quilt that would warm someone they loved.  Nothing mass-produced or produced in a day or two.  I love this kind of quilt.

And a couple of days ago I realized Abigail was ready to claim it too.  She wouldn't look me directly in the eye.  Maybe if she didn't move I wouldn't make her leave.  

Sorry, kitty, not today. :-)  lol

I hope y'all had a very blessed Thanksgiving.  Family gatherings for us have changed over the years.  We used to gather at Mom's at first, we brought nothing.  Eventually, we brought more and more sides/desserts.  

For the last few years we have had holiday meals at home before visiting with Mom.  She just can't put a large meal together anymore.  She won't let us pick her up, feed her and visit before bringing her home.  Okay, but we're coming.  We refuse to let her be home alone on a major holiday.  We bring the dessert and enjoy her lovely company. 

Like Santa I have a list for the meal.  Unlike Santa I check it about 12 times.

After 23 years of marriage I've come to a dressing compromise.  His side gets nothing but butter and stock.  Daniel's and my side keep that company with delicious onion and celery.  Everyone was very happy. :-)

Here is my sad little attempt for my food not to touch.  I ask every time to make sure no one's favorite foods are left out.  To be honest, I'm happy with it all.  Daniel has never been a fan of sweet potatoes so I made him carrots.  The sweet potatoes, still in the skins, went into the fridge for later--yummy.  

Bacon drippings (the good kind) enriched the green beans and the mashed potatoes. My mom's dressing (Pepperidge Farm) is an iconic memory along with the rolls my grandmother made, and my mom and now me, my sister and other family.

But along with tradition there are new traditions.  Cranberry Relish was originally made in my house with a hand cranked metal meat grinder that was mostly used for this relish.  A few years ago I decided to try homemade cranberry sauce.  Oh. My. Goodness.  So good.

The turkey gave up 13 quarts of stock the next day.  Most of that, of course, is in the freezer.

So there you have it . . . Thanksgiving Dinner

My DH loves all things pumpkin and all things pie, so there was no question what dessert would be for him.  Mom loves all things chocolate, and these Mexican Mocha Balls are a true time-tested favorite.  I'm pretty sure we've been baking and eating these since the 70s.

It really is true what they say about moisture in the air and baking.  I thought I'd be making drop biscuits with my children this week.  It was so dry that without any extra milk they were roll-out-ready.  Ten biscuits portioned out with an ice cream scoop later we had yummy biscuits.

We have an oven at school, but I've never had to sign up for it.  I think I'm the only teacher at my school who bakes with her kids.  This is a little sad, but it makes scheduling a breeze.  Seven out of ten children liked the biscuits, and the other three aren't usually bread eaters anyway.  I call that success.

Saturday my husband took a woodworking friend over to Mom's her table was falling apart after about 70 years.  It was made from a black walnut tree from the family farm.  After decades of games, holiday meals and regular meals the glue was beginning to fail between the planks.  We now have a plan, but on the way out of her driveway look what they saw after a day and a half of rain.

Double Rainbow

I love how the rainbow expands at the bottom.  Just beautiful.

I'm not sure I've shown you the extent of this Sarah Braizear "table cloth sampler" on 36 count.  Design size is right around 27" square.

So here is where I finished last night.  Does anyone else see the sleeping snowman on my shelf?

Yesterday morning I woke to a Nicola Parkman post with her Christmas releases.  Yes, I know I need another Hands Across the Sea Sampler like I need a flat tire.

I also remember missing out on the Uffindell sister samplers because I waffled and hesitated too long.  The Hariet Hartland 1782 sampler reminds me so much of this one, so on a shopping spree I went.  Sarah M. Larkworthy I've liked but never bought because I was distracted with the un-mottled linen.  I have ideas on that one, and she's going to be beautiful.  Jane will fulfill my desire to create a beautiful band sampler.

Mary (Stitching Friends Forever), this next one's for you.  I have never eaten cheddar on apple pie.  Scared me to death.  Today, I was brave.  I baked off some Granny Smiths added a couple slices of cheddar with some nutmeg for good measure.

Well, well, what do you know?  Not bad.

Thanks, Mary.

Things I'm thankful for:
  • fresh produce
  • medicine at the ready for headaches
  • cranberry sauce
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.