Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thriving on Neglect

Jackmanii Clematis

The events of the past few weeks have kept me from tending the garden, Next Year.  Am thankful Next Year is a hardy garden and survives and thrives on neglect.

Oak Leaf hydrangea--these are blooming all over town and they are glorious.  

I bought these last year at the end of the season on the half price sale table.  Man on man, if I had known they were going to be this spectacular I would have purchased more.

The first of the day lilies--they survived a very long cold winter.

Yarrow--so pretty to dry and use in arrangements

Thyme--such delicate blue flowers.  Hmm, is that a weed I see?

Will we have home grown tomatoes for fourth of July?

Thank you Next Year for thriving on neglect--you bring joy to this neglectful gardeners heart.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I've got the HST Blues

 Seven hundred sixty eight one and three quarters inch half square triangles--I think my eyes are crossing!

I started this quilt in June 2013.  It began innocently as a wall hanging.  One of my goals is to reduce my fabric stash and since there was lots of red white and blue fabric I kept stitching half square triangles and the quilt kept growing.  

Work on the quilt stopped when weeds in Next Year needed to be pulled, or my schedule did not include quilting time or I just grew weary of making half square triangles!

On Memorial Day I had planned to work outside in Next Year--Mother Nature had other plans aka rain.  With the red white and blue half square triangle flimsy approaching its one year birthday, it seemed like perfect quilting time.  

Now just need to add the borders and off to the long arm quilter she goes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Colonial Gathering--The Strawberry House (Academy)

Colonial Gatherings Club Kit #2
The Strawberry House
Designed by Tanya Brockmeyer
35 ct Mink Linen by R & R
Gentle Arts Fibers

One of the items on my annual letter to AppleJack Santa was a membership to a stitching club.  AppleJack Santa was very generous and gifted me with a membership to the Colonial Gatherings Club.

This is the first time I have participated in a club and I promised Santa and myself I would commit to stitching the projects and not let them become a part of my stash never to see daylight again.  Strawberry House was the second kit and I am two for two.  Whoo Who!!!!It is almost time for the third kit to be shipped and I desperately wanted to be finished with the second kit before the third kit arrives.

While I am waiting the arrival of kit #3, I am going to start stitching Harry Tyler's lion.  I am so enjoying the colonial them, I decided to add some projects of my own.

This coverlet design by The Sampler House was stitched between kit one and kit two.  

Tanya had finished The Strawberry House into a pin keep.  I have seen a couple of finishes and someone from the Prim Sisters society had finished theirs on a box top.  I really liked her finish and I had a box and have decided to finish mine the same way.  The box will be lined with the Jo Morton backing fabric included in the kit.

My color consultant aka AppleJack was very struck with the colors used in The Strawberry House.  He especially liked the Piney Woods color used for the strawberry vine.  When I asked him to critique my work he said:  "the house has a lot of windows."  Yes, the house does have many windows which started my mind and imagination thinking.  I think the big house with lots of windows was a female academy.  Girls in Colonial America would have attended Strawberry House Academy to learn the skills necessary to run a household.

The third kit will be a second design by Paulette Stewart of Plum Street Samplers, am hoping she will give a sneak peek of the kit before it is shipped.  While waiting for the third kit, I will be stitching on Harry Tyler's lion and weed the dianthus where a wild strawberry vine is growing rampid.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

For the history books

A heartfelt thank you for the sweet and kind words of encouragement for my surgery.  Stitchers, quilters, hookers, bloggers are just the best!

With a grateful heart--the surgery went well. Am so thankful to have this behind me.

Nurse AppleJack has been wonderful!  Oh, the garden bench--an early birthday gift from none other than AppleJack.

Because of my extreme nearsightedness, I have been placed in the highest risk category for more eye challenges.  There are more procedures in the near future.

As I go down the primrose path of life, I am thankful to have a husband who loves me and  friends who find the time to offer sweet words of encouragement.

Thank you Next Year for the beautiful blooms and giving me a reason to work toward recovery.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Retail Therapy to Countdown

There comes a time in a girl's life when retail therapy is the cure for her ailment.  The Nashville Needlework Market was four days after my eye surgery and this put a damper on the market for me.  However; I have had time to surf the web, read sites, look at postings and photographs and take advantage of some sales.  Whoo Who!  The excitement and enthusiasm of the Needlework Market always seems to bring out the best in the designers and this year was no exception--so many wonderful, awesome designs, new linens and fibers.

It's official--I'm in countdown mode.  Next Wednesday, May 14 is eye surgery #2.  To keep my mind off the surgery, the details, and the recovery, I have had to find ways to keep my mind occupied to keep from obsessing and playing the "what if" game!  I have no favorite designer--I have many favorite designers.  There will always be a special place in my stitching heart for samplers and there is also room for seasonal designs (Christmas, Easter/Spring, Patriotic, Fall/Halloween) primitives and folk art.  I have a big heart for needlework.  Some women, like Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City fame had a passion for shoes.  I have a passion for needlework and can shop with the best. 
In the booklet, Vintage Inspiration, the Blackbird girls write:  "I am attracted to antique and vintage samplers.  Each has a tale to tell, each has something that catches the eye."  The Scarlet Letters sampler from the Vintage Inspiration booklet certainly caught my eye. 

Rosy Morning
Loose Feathers
Abededarian Series--Nine

What caught my eye?  The funky pomengrates and rectangular shape.

Wrought by my Hand by Pinebery Lane was quickly dropped into my shopping cart.  The sampler is stitched on Weeks Confederate Grey, which is one of my favorite linens and I love the primitive simplicity of this sampler.

Nikyscreations has started a monthly series called the animals.  The rabbit seemed perfect for spring. Love the primitive design and so creative displaying on a pretty piece of china.

Samplers Not Forgotten is a new to me designer.  The beautiful border and oversized flowers of the Mary Shepherd sampler are what drew me to this sampler.  In reading the instructions for this sampler, I fear it might be above my skill level.

Who could resist Nan Lewis and the Beggers?  Not me.  Another Begger has joined the group--Beggers Fourth.

Spring must be on my mind and Brenda Gervais got my attention with her Easter Parade design.  A big old rabbit making his entrance on an Easter chick with a red tulip in his hand just screams whimsy and spring.

Emilia Poole with her sewing basket and journal jumped into my shopping cart.  Oh, the colors, the linen (Weeks Dye Works, Dolphin), the primitive.  Emilia will most likely get slightly modified to Great Great Grandmother's name:  Elizabeth. 

There are a couple of designs enroute:  Birdy Stitching Roll by La D Da and Mary Cotton by Kathy Barrick.  With all these wonderful new designs added to my stash, it is now time to shop for some fibers.  Shhhh, don't tell Miss Callie Mae. 

Am hopeful surgery #2 will be less involved than surgery #1 and the recovery time will be shorter.  The surgeon has said there should be a gradual improvement in my vision (might take 12 months).  I have many great projects in my needlework stash to give me motivation to work toward recovery. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Museum Glass

With Thy Needle and Thread
The Sampler House

Glass?  No Glass? Museum Glass?  Some frame with no glass, some with glass, and then there is museum glass.  This is my first and only piece of needlework framed with museum glass.  WOW! I never realized what a difference it makes.  Not sure it is in my budget to frame with museum glass, but I could sure get spoiled by it.

My framer and I choose the frame color to match the color of the door in the house.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What's Blooming?

It was a long cold winter.  I promised myself when spring and warm sunny days came, I would spend time in Next Year, the garden.

The bearded iris is the state flower of Tennessee.  It is very hardy.  It can withstand the cold freezing temps and the hottest of days.  Almost all the iris in Next Year has been gifted to me--some from Mother's garden, some from Uncle Karl's garden others from Andrea's garden.  The iris was looking challenged and there were a few days when I thought it was a goner.

The Tennessee bearded iris are very disease and pest resistant and they are sometimes called the poor man's orchid.  

I have been looking for a plant/flower for the rock pathway, these primrose just may be the one.  They are also hardy (and invasive).  Don't let their delicate looks fool you--they are tough little boogers.

AppleJack says Next Year is my therapy.  Pulling weeds is good exercise and a great way to work off stress.  Ahh, the rewards!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Saturday morning television is the best!  The air waves are filled with cooking, sewing, quilting, gardening and woodworking shows.  I failed to mention Book TV in this list.  The shows are filled with new recipes, plants, books, tips and ideas.  I have an endless list of favorites.  One cooking show I especially enjoy is America's Test Kitchen.  Christopher Kimball, the host of the show, is constantly testing new kitchen equipment and gadgets, tasting products on the grocery shelves and searching for the ultimate over the top recipe.  On a recent trip to the grocery store, I stopped in the magazine section and found Cook's Illustrated:  Comfort Food Favorites.  The magazine's founder and editor is Christopher Kimball.  This issue of the magazine takes basic comfort food like meatloaf and macaroni and kicks it up a notch.  The format of the magazine is similar to the television show:  testing, tasting, tips and techniques.

One of my favorite recipes from the magazine is Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies.  Cook's takes basic brownies, a comfort food, and takes them over the top.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) of sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


2/3 cup (3 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup raspberry jam (Cook's recommends Smucker's Red Raspberry Preserves)
1 1/4 cups (3 1/4 ounces) sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 350 degrees
  • For the filling:  Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds
  • For the brownies:  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Microwave butter and chocolate in large bowl stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 1 minute.  Whisk in 1/4 cup jam and let cool slightly.  Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla to chocolate mixture, stirring until combined.  Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated
  • Microwave remaining 1/4 cup jam in small bowl until warm, about 30 seconds, stir until smooth.  Scrape half of batter into prepared pan.  Dollop filling over batter and spread into even layer.  Dollop warm jam over filling and, using tip of a knife, swirl jam through filling.  Spread remaining batter evenly over filling.
  • Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few dry crumbs attached, 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Let Brownies cool in pan on wire rack for at least 2 hours.  Cut into small pieces and serve.
Cook's recommends making a foil sling to line the bottom and sides of the baking pan.  Make a foil sling for an 8-inch baking pan by folding 2 long sheet soy aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide.  lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan.  Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush in pan.  Using this aluminum foil sling helps remove the Brownies from the pan and they can be cut more evenly.

These Brownies are very rich so cut into small squares.  Yum Yum!  Comfort food Brownies kicked up a notch.  America's Test Kitchen or Cook's or Christopher Kimball have never heard of me, I'm just a girl who enjoys comfort food. (I am quiet confident this recipe is not recommended by the American Heart Association as heart healthy.)