Friday, September 28, 2018

Autumn House Freebie

Hi, stitching friends!

Heavens to Betsy, it seems like I have been working on this forever! I mentioned in May that I was working on a series of seasonal houses to release as freebies.

A few hours ago, I finished my autumn house stitch into a beanbag--technically, a rice bag! I've been wanting to try using crushed walnut shells as pillow filler, but I saw a YouTube video by McKenna of Stitching in Sequins where she used rice. Since I had a brand-new bag of plain old white rice in my pantry, I thought, Heck, yeah! And it worked like a charm. It has a nice weight to it, and I did not have to stress about getting fiberfill stuffed tightly into the corners and seams. Yay! I did not add a hanger since this will sit in a tray with my other autumn stitches.

Can you believe I found that lace in a secondhand store in my hometown this summer? Three to four yards for twenty-five cents! The volunteer who rang up my purchase said, "How did I miss seeing this? Oh, this is lovely." I gave her as much as she wanted and still had plenty left over for lots of projects of my own.
I'll show you a few more photos of the finished pattern. You can use any neutral color linen. If you don't have the over-dyed threads I've called for, substitute anything you have and it will be beautiful. I do recommend using "Autumn Leaves" by The Gentle Art, rather than substituting for that color, though, because the variegation of the yellow, green and orange is perfect for the leaves and leaf piles.
The pumpkin vines spell out "Love." This is my love note to my favorite season.

The finished size of the design, if stitched over two on 32-count linen or evenweave, is 3-3/8" x 2-3/4", so it's a perfect project to use up a small scrap of linen you can't bear to waste.
I hope you enjoy stitching this as much as I enjoyed designing it. I used the artwork of Charles Wysocki as a jumping-off point for my sketch, but as I sketched and stitched the final piece, I made it my own.

You can download a PDF of the pattern here.

Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Good Day to Have a Good Day

Hi, stitching friends!

I have recently fallen in love with the music (and especially the lyrics) of Kacey Musgraves. Her song "Late to the Party" is one of my favorites. "I'm never late to the party if I'm late to the party with you."

I am definitely late to the party. I promise... I have NOT dropped off the face of the earth! No excuses. Since my last post, one week became one month...two months...and then nearly three months....

But here I am! Thanks for hanging in there and not giving up on me.

Today was a good day to have a good day. I have been a homebody lately, which, truly, is who I am. But today I felt like getting out and enjoying some retail therapy.

Here's how my day went.

8:45 a.m.: Got up and ate a bowl of cereal while watching The Price is Right. I freakin' love this show, and have since I was little. Do you?

10:00 a.m.: Cross stitched a little bit, working on "Peace House" by La-D-Da.
10:30ish a.m.: Dyed some linen from my stash using Priscilla and Chelsea's tutorial for coffee-tea-dyed linen. I wasn't using these pieces of linen because I didn't like the original colors. They were either blah or just a little too plain. I thought, If this doesn't work, I'm not in love with this fabric, anyway, so what have I got to lose? Well, let me tell you, I love the result!

The photo above shows my dyed pieces drying in the sun outside. After they were dry, I ironed them and put them back in their packages so I would remember what count they are. (I took good notes beforehand to help myself keep this straight.) I can't wait to use these! If you would like to give this a shot, you can't go wrong. Their tutorial is wonderful.

1:00 p.m.: Went to Barnes & Noble to pick up the 2018 Halloween and Christmas-ornament issues of Just CrossStitch magazine. I found the Halloween issue right away, but they didn't yet have the Christmas-ornament issue! Drats! So I was sitting on a nearby bench flipping through a few stitching magazines when an employee holding a stack of magazines said, "These just came in if you're interested."

The lady sitting next to me scoffed and said, "Uh, no thanks."

I looked up and what did I see, but the new Christmas-ornament issue. "Yes! I'll take one, please! That's what I came here for!" I said.

"Well, you waited just long enough," he said, and handed me my issue. I don't know if you've seen it yet, but there are some darling ornaments in it. I already have plans to stitch "Joy" by Livia Rovaris. (It's on the cover.)

When I paid for my magazines, they gave me a coupon for $2 off a drink in the café, and I haven't had Starbucks in sooooo long. When I was working full time, the Starbucks on my way to work was a fairly regular stop for me. My husband says he has no idea how they have managed to stay in business since I stopped working.

1:45 p.m.: I needed a skein of DMC floss, so I stopped in at Michael's. For just that one thing. Honestly.

Sixty-five dollars later, I left the store with a full cart.

3:00 p.m.: I had some very sad-looking bananas to use up, so I made some banana bread. My go-to recipe lately is King Arthur Flour's Whole-Grain Banana Bread. You can find the recipe here. It's very good and very healthy as far as banana bread goes. No wonder they named it their 2018 Recipe of the Year!

4:00 p.m.: Time to start dinner. I had some leftover deli chicken in the fridge, so I made one of our favorite soups: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. Another thing about fall... I love, love, love soup, and fall's chilly nights are perfect soup nights. What is your favorite soup?
I found this recipe on originally, but I have modified it, so I will share my version of the recipe with you. It's so good.... so creamy and wonderful and soul-satisfying.


Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
4 cups deli chicken, cut into bite-size pieces or shredded
1 package quick-cooking long grain and wild rice mix (we like Uncle Ben's or Rice-a-Roni)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups milk
frozen mixed vegetables

In a large pot over medium heat, combine chicken broth, water and chicken. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, reserving the seasoning packet. Cover pot and remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in contents of seasoning packet until mixture is bubbly. Reduce heat to medium-low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons to form a roux. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook and stir until thickened, 5-10 minutes.

Stir white sauce into broth-rice-chicken mixture in pot. Add frozen vegetables. Cook over medium heat until heated through and rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


6:00 p.m.: My husband and I watched The Greatest Showman, which I had seen before and he had not. When I saw it the first time, my friend Jacquie took me. She had seen it six times already (!!!), but wanted to see it again. If you have not seen it, the music is wonderful.

8:00 p.m.: We baked some ready-to-bake, gooey Rhodes cinnamon rolls for dessert. We don't usually do dessert, but dang, they just sounded like a good idea. And they were....sooo good.

9:00 p.m.: I started taking pictures and composing this blog entry. Finally getting to share my day with you is the perfect end to a perfect day.

And now to the stitching!

I have been working on a lot of projects lately, but I have two I want to show you today. Both are little Halloween pillows.
The first is "Brew Haha!" by Plum Street Samplers. It's a freebie, and you can find it here. I stitched it over one on 25-count mushroom lugana, substituting overdyed threads for some of the called-for DMC threads (I used the called-for DMC 3021, ecru, 3863 and 3826, but substituted Gingersnap, Pumpkin Harvest, Endive, Gold Leaf and Brandied Pears for the rest).

I sewed it into a very simple little pillow, topping it with a natural bow and a little pumpkin charm. I love this little guy! He looks like I do when I have my caffeine for the day! As I was stitching the pumpkin body of the little fella, I stitched in a circular pattern so the variegations in the thread would go round and round, rather than in stripes across his body.
The second is "Owl-O-Ween" by Barbara Ana Designs. I bought this pattern online at Creative Poppy Patterns. I stitched it over one on 25-count vintage country mocha lugana. Isn't he cute? (He looks like he has had some caffeine, too!) I love the bright colors. I do not love the spiders (yuck!), but they are perfect for Halloween, and I have to admit, I like their beady red eyes. Creepy!
I finished Owl-O-Ween using Staci's beaded edge tutorial that Carol over at Stitching Dreams shared a while ago, and I added some sparkly black-velvet ribbon for a hanger. It was a lot of fun (although time-consuming), and I plan to use this edge-finishing technique a lot in the future. For one thing, it was all hand sewing, and I feel more in control of my finish this way. My sewing machine is a 1960s hand-me-down Singer Fashion Mate from my mother-in-law, and I am a little afraid of it, to be honest. My mom taught me some very basic stitches when I was young and wanted to make simple clothes for my Barbies, so for me, hand-stitching just feels more natural. I'm an odd duck, I know.

As always, friends, thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you so much!