Thursday, February 27, 2014

Coverlet Birds and Finishes

The Scarlet House
Coverlet Birds

The words of Grandmother Bessie ring in my ears, "well child, are you going to let this get the best of you or are you going to find a way to make it work?"  According to the surgeon, he is pleased with the surgical results and the way my eye is healing, he even smiled during my last exam.  The swelling has subsided considerably and my eye remains closed.  A kindred spirit told me "your eye is the constant wink position."  A kind and gentle way of acknowledging things are not back to normal.  AppleJack continues to be the best nurse ever.  I am making progress, like most things in life, healing will require time.  

In the meantime, work continues on the Coverlet Birds.  For someone who is stitching with a one eye handicap, I am pleased with my progress.  Rain is in the forecast for the weekend which will make for good stitching time.  I was reading on Dying to Stitch blog, the second installment of Colonial Gatherings is due to ship the end of March.  My goal is to complete the Coverlet Birds and have her to the finisher prior to receiving the second shipment.  (My local quilt shop had some Farmers Fancy fabric which will work nicely with the Coverlet Birds.  The fabric has the same blue, red and green colors as the design).

Colonial Gatherings
Kit 1
Plum Street Samplers
Colonial Candle Pocket

Turkey Trot
NotForgotten Farm
From Autumn at Notforgotten Farm

I had wide rick rack in my stash and wool the same color as the big  yellow house--this will be such a fun piece for fall and Thanksgiving.

Pineberry Lane
Mehitable Wright aka Miranda Price
(1885 the year Great Grandmother moved from NC to TN)

Hard to beat Civil War reproduction fabric for backing Great Grandmother projects.  Thank you Betty the finisher, you are awesome!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Red Velvet Cake at The Picnic Cafe

AppleJack and I always look for the silver lining.  In the midst of my vision challenges we re-discovered one of our favorite eateries--The Picnic Cafe.   (The Picnic is located in the same block as the doc's office).

Located in the Hill Center at Belle Meade, the twenty six year old Picnic Cafe is decorated in blue, white and yellow with flowery blue tablecloths, yellow walls hung with blue and white dishes and a white picket fence which wraps all the way around the restaurant.

The menu consists of Southern luncheon favorites:  pimento cheese sandwiches, potato salad, cheese wafers, chess pie and the Picnic's signature punch.  While our tummies and taste buds love eating at the Picnic, our waist lines do not.  The food is delicious and loaded.

As our Valentine's Day this year was spent with me recovering from eye surgery, we treated ourselves to a late Valentine's Day lunch at The Picnic.  One of my favorite desserts from The Picnic is the red velvet cake.  Yum, yum.  Here is the recipe for Red Velvet Cake from The Picnic Cafe.  (By the way, if you are ever in Music City during the lunch hour this is great treat.  Arrive early--the place is always packed.)

Red Velvet Cake from The Picnic Cafe

One-half cup shortening

Two eggs

One and one-half cups sugar

One-fourth cup red food coloring

Three tablespoons cocoa

Two and one-fourth cups flour (sifted three times)

One cup buttermilk

One teaspoon vanilla

One teaspoon vinegar

One teaspoon soda

Make paste of cocoa and food coloring:  cream with shortening, sugar, and eggs.  Combine sifted flour and soda.  Alternately add flour and buttermilk to the creamed mixture.  Cream well and add vanilla.  If using an electric mixer, remover mixer blades and fold in lightly the vinegar.

Pour batter in equal portions into three 8 inch round pans, greased and floured.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Cream Cheese Icing

Two packages (three ounces each) cream cheese, softened

One half cup butter, softened

Four and one-half to four and one-fourth cups powered sugar

Beat together cream cheese and butter in a bowl until well mixed.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar to make frosting spreadable.

Delicious!  Wear your pants with the elastic waist band and enjoy a meal at The Picnic Cafe.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

In the spring there is a flower

Mother Nature and Old Man Winter finally let go a portion of their  grip on winter and Music City has enjoyed warmer temps.

Winter of 2014 has been challenging for the Lenten Rose.  There is much leaf burn and fewer blooms.

It is not uncommon for the daffodils to bloom and then be dusted with snow.

One of our cat gardening guardians.  She is surrounded by leaves which will need to be cleared from the flower beds.

AppleJack cleaned out the bird houses, making ready for spring robins to build their nest.

At long last, the water in the bird bath is not frozen.  

Buds on the flowering dogwood, AppleJack, Miss Callie Mae Calico and I are longing for spring 2014 to arrive at Thistle Manor.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Filing System

There are so many things which I enjoy about needlework.  I especially enjoy those who have shared their stitching places.  Seeing the creative spaces gave me courage to get out the pick and shovel and share my stitching space.  I also  enjoy reading about filing systems.  For those of you who need a good belly laugh, now would be the time to grab your tummy and belt out a good laugh.  By the time you finish reading about my filing system you will be scratching your head and saying to yourself:  a).  what filing system?  b).  no wonder this woman is never able to find anything

Designer Name
   Most of my charts are filed  alphabetically by the designer name.  For example:  Blackbird Designs, Carriage House, Chessie and Me.  

Adam and Eve
   I have not given up on my quest for an Adam and Eve wall.  Adam and Eve designed samplers which have appealed to me, I have grouped together.  When I am needing an Adam and Eve fix, I pull this file and study them:  the colors, the linens, the overall design.

Seasonal Charts
   Since Grandmother Bessie taught me to appreciate each of the seasons, I love stitching seasonal pieces:  spring/Easter, fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving, winter/ornaments, patriotic pieces of Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Labor Day.

PhD's or UFO's
   I keep my projects half done together.  Sometimes when I am feeling the need for a completed  project, I look through this file.

Grandmother Bessie Themed Pieces
   As the Grandmother Bessie sampler wall is more of a reality than the Adam and Eve wall, when I find pieces which will fit into the Grandmother Bessie theme wall, I group them together.  For example:  La D Da's Margaret Cottam is part of this grouping and Mecklenburg by Little by Little.  

The Traveling Basket File
   I am a terrible passenger, just ask AppleJack.  I am easily bored, and yes I am one of those children who keeps asking "are we there yet?"  When we take road trips, I bring along my traveling file so I can read charts.  This file usually consists of unfiled charts which I have recently acquired and have not taken the time to file.

Completed Projects
   I am one of those hoarders stitchers who keeps completed charts.  No judgement please.

There's my system and I'm sticking to it.  Yes, there are times when I waste spend time looking for something I know I have (usually its fibers).  I am always open for suggestions and a better way.  One of the most helpful things for me is having all "my stuff" in one room:  charts, fibers, linen, embellishments, backing fabrics and wools.  While we were working on the all-purpose room, my needlework was stored in a couple of different places.  This was a terrible system for me, having everything in one space is much more workable.  In addition to having everything in one space, when things get messy, I can close the door.  

Enjoy your belly laugh and then share your filing system.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coverlet Birds

After I finished stitching the first Colonial Gatherings Club Kit, I knew I wanted to stitch more coverlet designs.  Digging in my stash I found three coverlet designs:  Coverlet Birds by The Scarlet House, Overshot Heart by Barrick Samplers (Carriage House Samplers) and Harry Tyler's Lion by Heartstring Samplery.  I started stitching Coverlet Birds on Sunday afternoon.  Tanya (The Scarlet House) had finished her coverlet birds into a pin keep and in looking at the finished pin keep it looked like she had used some over dyed trim for the edging of the pin keep.  More stash digging and I found some hand dyed bamboo chenille by Crescent Colors.  Finding the right linen became the next challenge.  More stash digging and I found a remnant of what I think is Birds of a Feather linen which closely matches or at least does not clash with the over dyed  chenille.  I did not have the Needlepoint Inc blue fiber Tanya had used, I substituted with another blue in my stash--one in the Williamsburg blue family.

On Monday my life took an unexpected detour.  I was diagnosed with a detached retina and scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.  You can thank me later for sparing you the details.  At this point, there are more unknowns than knowns.  The docs do not know if or when or how much of my vision I will regain.  There will be a second surgery for more repairs and the docs will begin treatment in my left eye hoping to strengthen the tissues and prevent a detachment in my left eye.  What caused the problem?  Being severely nearsighted for years and years finally took its toll on the tissues of my eye.  "You can only stretch a rubber band so far before it starts to develop tears and breaks."    

Yes, I have shed more than a few tears both of the controlled and uncontrolled variety.  I am a firm believer in things can always be worse.  No matter how bad my situations have been at times there is someone who is always so much worse off than me.  There are thousands of people who function with vision in one eye and thousands who function with no vision.  

Someone at church recently commented to me about the depth of my faith.  There are situations in our lives that are totally beyond our control, only the Great Healer can make things whole again.  This is one of those situations.  Kind thoughts, prayers, humor, helpful hints are always appreciated.  

This piece will be stitched!  It will serve as a humble reminder to appreciate the gifts I have been given.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The All Purpose Room

Much to my delight and enjoyment, several of you have chosen to share your stitching area.  Seeing the creative spaces of others always fills me with a kinship and gives me creative ideas for my own working space.  The tour begins here behind closed doors.  Que the music to Jaws.  The all purpose room as we call it is located upstairs above our garage.  Having the room upstairs means, the door can be closed when things are not so tidy, which is most of the time and guests rarely know about the creative mess.  The tour begins with a pick and shovel.  The pick to chip away the ice and the shovel to clear a path.  Warning for all those with neat and tidy spaces--this isn't one of them.  AppleJack often enters the room and asks if a bomb has exploded.

The room has an unusual shape--more rectangular than square with a sloped ceiling, built ins on one end and a knee wall.  The built ins make this room one of my favorite spaces.  The downside to having built ins and a knee wall is the lack of a quilt design wall.  My "design wall" is the floor, which works great except when Callie Mae decides to chase a few dust bunnies across the floor and "rearranges" the design.  

This is the knee wall, another favorite part of the room.  We met a gentlemen who recycles wood.  When buildings are being torn down or destroyed he salvages the wood.  The bead board for our knee wall came from an old school.  We elected to scrape the boards of the old paint and not repaint them.  The floors are also recycled wood.  Much to the dismay of Brent the wood guy, the floors are unfinished--totally unfinished--no sanding, no staining, no finish--just the raw wood.  

Between the two built ins is a window and window seat.  This is one of Callie Mae's favorite spaces.  She is often found here napping while I stitch.  Callie Mae like most cats is an avid bird watcher and she loves to watch the birds in the trees just outside this window.  

On the other end of the room, tucked into a corner under the sloping ceiling is a napping bed, another favorite Callie Mae space.  

My work space or as AppleJack calls it "the store."  Charts, fabric, patterns, fibers, wool, beads, trims, hoops, frames boxes and whatever else I think I might need for a project are stored.  The table is great for cutting fabric.  

Remember I shared with you, I come from a long line of postal workers?  This table came from an old post, my Father salvaged it thinking it might be useful.  

These bins came from Hobby Lobby scrapbooking department.  They are perfect for quilt projects--I keep the patterns, fabrics and completed squares in them.  Yes, I have more than one quilt project in the works.

These are my stitching chairs.  AppleJack and Callie Mae sometimes join me when I am stitching, quilting, hooking, ironing, writing letters, paying bills, reading or watching television and they need a place to sit.  

These chairs face the window and built its.  Callie Mae isn't the only one who enjoys watching the birds.  This is the end of the tour--hope everyone is still intact--never know when the next fabric, wool, fiber bomb might explode and wreck havoc.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Colonial Candle Pocket

Colonial Gathering Club
Plum Street Samplers--Kit 1
35 ct Olde Towne Blend (R & R)
NPI Silks 

My first club project, my first finish.  This was one of those delightful designs I couldn't resist starting and once started, I just kept going.  A fun design, fun linen and fibers and Betty, the finisher will work her magic and turn this flat stitch into a candle pocket.  I have a couple of pieces of Farmer Fancy quilt fabric with coverlet designs which will make their way into some of the finishes.

I did some stash shopping and found these other coverlet designs:  Harry Tyler's Lion by Heartstring Samplery, Coverlet Birds by The Scarlet House and Overshot Heart by Barrick Samplers.  To maintain my coverlet stitching mojo, I hope to fill in with these designs between kits.