Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Robin's Eggs in December

Good evening, friends!

My current stitching project is still in the works and won't be ready for a couple of weeks at least. I'm working on "Olde World Traveler" from the 1991 Leisure Arts book Christmas Portraits. Can't wait to show you!

In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy baking some holiday cookies. Emphasis on trying to enjoy. When that cramp in my neck says, "Hey, take a break," I remind myself why I do these things. Fun! Right.....? But when my son comes home from school, sees the spread of frosted cookies on the table and says, "Now that is my favorite part of Christmas," it's all worth it.

I want to share a unique recipe from my mother-in-law—Bird's Nests. I hadn't made them since she first gave me the recipe 20 years ago, and that was for a little cooking column I used to write for my hometown newspaper. You can color the fondant eggs any color you want, or you can leave them white. I chose blue because right now in Boise, we are stuck in an inversion (cold air trapped under warm air). It's dreary and cold outside, and I could use a little thought of spring right now.

Bird's Nests

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
chopped nuts (or crushed cornflakes if you have a nut allergy)
fondant eggs (recipe to follow)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat well. Add flour and mix well. Chill dough about an hour.

Preheat oven to 300° F. Roll dough into small balls, about 3/4" in diameter. (You should have about 35.) Dip each ball in reserved egg white and roll in chopped nuts, pressing the nuts into the dough so they stay put. (If you have a nut allergy, you can use crushed cornflakes.)

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and press an indentation in the center of each with your finger. Bake for 8 minutes, press the center of each cookie again, then continue to bake for 10 minutes longer. If necessary, press the center of each cookie again lightly. Cool and fill with fondant eggs.

Fondant Eggs:

1 egg white
2 teaspoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2-3 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
food coloring, optional

Combine ingredients, adding a couple of drops of food coloring if desired, until mixture is very, very stiff and does not stick to your fingers. (The amount of powdered sugar you need will vary, depending on the volume of your egg white.) Roll into tiny eggs and fill nests. You will have a lot of fondant left over.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you! Thank you for your encouragement and friendship since I started this blog. I'm so grateful for the time you take to leave comments!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Framed! (Better Late Than Never)

When I began cross stitching in the early 1990s, I often stitched big projects. When I finished something, I would trek to a big-box craft store framing department and shell out $100 to $200 to have it framed. That was before I owned a home and had a kid. These days, I look for more economical ways to finish my projects (first, by stitching smaller things), or I let them sit...*sigh*... unfinished in a box in my closet.

I'm trying to get over my perfectionism and intimidation when it comes to finishing things myself. I'm lousy at sewing, and even worse at framing, but I'm working on it. Thankfully, there are lots of blogs out there with great tips.

Today I finally framed my December cottage by Country Cottage Needleworks. Only a few days late! I think I am obsessed with little houses. I just love them! I followed a tutorial I found here for the framing, using straight pins to "stretch" the linen on foam core. It was really easy! The only thing I'm still unsure of is how to tape down the extra fabric in the back. Does anyone out there have a super-sticky, archival tape they like? Or another way to do this? Most framing blogs just say "tape down the loose cloth edges," but so far I haven't found any tape that sticks very well. I've been using archival linen tape with mixed results.

The December cottage is stitched on 32-count lambswool linen using Weeks Dye Works and DMC threads. I've been reusing the same simple black frame each month.

November's cottage is also stitched on 32-count lambswool linen. The yellow overdyed thread in this one, "Harvest Moon" by Weeks Dye Works, is just yummy. It worked perfectly to give the leaves that golden tone they have in fall.

October is stitched on 32-count linen, but I don't remember what color or brand - it was something I had in my stash. The big flowers next to "October" look like fried eggs, don't they?

Have a great week, everyone. I am trying to stay sane during these last few weeks before Christmas, although I admit to spewing a few F bombs while driving. My gift shopping is DONE (!!!) but there are always those last-minute things to take care of... buying stamps, a trip to the post office, groceries, stocking stuffers... and it seems that everyone behind the wheel is in a hurry and distracted. Take a deep breath and do something you love. I'll be stitching!