Saturday, December 5, 2009

Home for the Holidays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now it sure is a grey raw day here in the UK but that's OK cos I'm getting ready to fly out to my Big Sis for the holidays - YAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Three glorious weeks of hanging out, chilling, laughing, movies and food - oh yeah and stitching!!!!!! I'm packed ready to go, just need to defrost the crumpets I'm taking over, otherwise I'm ready!!!!! We plan an EXTRA good time this year and our list runs to two full pages - we have a long list for Blockbuster as well as the movies we've bought and of course Big Sis's extensive movie collection!!!! A Harry Potter marathon is a must along with MAYBE a LoTR marathon . . . it's SOOOOO cozy to sit stitching looking out at a snowy day with a couple of good movies and sipping hot chocolate, maybe a casserole in the oven and some sourdough bread proving slowly on the counter!!!!! We have SOOOO much to be thankful for and we both are . . . you don't need to go very far these days to find folks who are worse off than you. Having said that, Big Sis and I do donate to charity in recognition of appreciation for what we do have. And some folks have said to me how come I still get excited about flying over to my Big Sis . . . well I AM excited!!!!! I'm bouncing around here and it seems to me there would be something wrong if I wasn't!!!!! I LOVE flying out to be with my Big Sis and it's such a HUGE wonderful thing!!!!!!! I wish everyone a happy and peaceful holiday season and especially happy stitching!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Soggy Saturday & Comfort Food!!!!!

Now the UK does like to make a deal of its weather although it could be forgiven cos of the torrential rain and high winds - 100mph off the Needles at the Isle of Wight!!!!! Despite the weather Mand & I visited Avebury and wouldn't you know there were a few US and German visitors there - I think the only day it doesn't have overseas visitors is Christmas Day!!!! The farmer who owns the sheep who were among the stones needs a kick in the proverbial for not taking them inside a barn!!!! The poor things were huddled against a fence and looked most unhappy!!!! This isn't misty-eyed sentimentality but basic animal welfare concern - if the farmer can't look after his animals properly he should give up and go do something else!!!! The same goes for so-called "pet lovers" who put their cats out at night and before anyone jumps up and down getting all excited this is just my view and this is my Big Sis's and my blog kids and we can have our say - so there!!!!! OK - rant over!!!! We got a few early presents in the Henge and Nat Trust shops then retired to the Nat Trust cafe for a much-needed slice of cake and hot chocolate . . . good but I have to say not as good as the Allington Farm Shop cafe last week, and I'm sneaking back next Saturday for a return visit as Mand has to work!!!! And I have a list . . . !!!!! Today I've made roast pork with veggies and hard cider gravy for meals in the week and threw in a rhubarb crumble to use up oven space. For very little effort I've got YUMMMM homecooked comfort food - I don't say this in a smug way (well . . . maybe a little!!) but sad that folks don't seem to cook all that much, preferring what I think is inferior readymade stuff. OK OK - I know there are folks out there who (a) can't or won't cook and (b) don't have the time but I feel they miss out. Still each to their own and I'm just saying what works for me - and my Big Sis come to that!!!! We both like comfort food and it doesn't have to be gourmet, just simple basic food cooked well!!!! Our vacation list is now two pages long and we can't wait!!!! We've declared this weekend a Stitchalong and White Star is coming along very nicely although I'm still stuck in confetti hell but gradually stitching my way out!!!!! Stay warm and dry and keep those brollies handy!!!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Trip to the Farm Shop!!!!

This was real neat today . . . Mand and I took a trip to our local farm shop which has sure grown in a good way. Both of us remember it years ago as something and nothing but now it is REALLY something!!!! It is run by a local farming family and supplied locally . . . gourmet pantry goods and deli/fresh meat/dairy as well as Somerset eggs from hens allowed to run and scratch and do what hens do naturally. There were beautiful duck eggs too which are excellent for cake-making as well as a very gourmet fruit & veg section with stuff that you don't see in the regular grocery stores - Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac as well as old variety eating apples, all very fresh and good. The little cafe was doing a roaring trade - everything homemade and its homemade cakes were also available in the store as well as homemade frozen casseroles and pies - I bought a beautiful chicken & mushroom pie which will only need a few veggies to go with it to enliven a dark Winter evening!!!! Mand and I treated ourselves to a full English breakfast AND large mugs of hot chocolate. The cafe's menu covered lunch as well as cakes, muffins and brownies along with scones together with a very good breakfast menu. The food was first class as was the service. This is definitely on our list for a return visit and I know my Big Sis would love it!!!! We're almost at our day countdown now for our Grand Christmas Vacation and our list runs to 2 whole pages!!!!! Right now for meals this week I've made cottage pie from scratch with veggies as well as a rather good rhubarb crumble (or crisp for my US readers). Big Sis and I are also having a stitchalong weekend and stitchy readers do feel free to join us!!!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stitching and recovery

My recovery from surgery has been way too long, for my liking. I know, I didn't stay home and rest as long as I should have, but I needed to be at work and couldn't do it from home. I'm almost completely healed now though. The other disturbing thing was for the first month I didn't want to stitch. That's never happened in 20 odd years. It was just too uncomfortable to stitch. I finished a little project Sis had started and gotten frustrated with. She asked me if I would complete it. I should take a pic, but it's really not mine to claim, as she did most of it.

Then I started back on The Sistine Chapel Ceiling I'm doing. It was just too much, so I had to let it go. I went back to work on Pompeji Garden. This project is taking forever to get done. It's just beautiful, make no mistake, but every section is repeated 4 times and it gets quite wearing. Well, I've now completed 3 sections totally. I just have the top left portion to do the trees and columns in, along the the scrolls in the corner. Then....all the beading. I can't even count how many beads I have to sew on. Maybe yet this decade I'll be able to post a finish in this one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Trip Out on a Soggy Saturday!!!!!

Yes folks it's another soggy Saturday in the UK - cat-on-your-lap and crumpet weather!!!!! Mandy and I braved the rain to visit the Courts Garden at Holt and the wonderful tea room there run by Jackie and Richard. Jackie's food is truly memorable; all homemade from best ingredients and made with care. Yes, it's a tad expensive but then this is a treat and you're paying for the whole experience and service. Although having to pay to get in as it's a National Trust property (£6 per adult entrance charge) does make a trip there expensive but we're lucky in that Mandy has a pass and we get in free!!!! My view is the National Trust tends to overcharge on everything then whines that visitor numbers are down . . . slashing entrance fees to its many properties across the UK by £2/£3 would bring visits into the range of a lot more families but then what do I know!!!! However, a large field mushroom baked with Stilton cheese served with a little salad and granary bread along with a steak & mushroom pie topped with mash and a side plate of carrots, savoy cabbage and leeks went down a treat along with coffee milkshakes, then we managed to save room for chocolate-orange bread pudding and icecream and hot chocolate fudge cake with icecream AND a second round of milkshakes on the house!!!! Our hosts work very hard and deserve their Winter breaks . . . the season finishes next weekend and they are away to Cyprus then spending a month in Antigua before opening up again in mid-February. I've attached a pic of the house and gardens although it was a grey rainy day and does not do the gardens justice. I SOOOOO wish Big Sis was there too - it's the kind of place she would enjoy and not just for the wonderful food!!!! The gardens have little paths that lead into different "rooms" and have quite a number of old-fashioned apple trees as well as a couple of medlar trees which you don't often see now. The medlar is a quaint little fruit, needing to be almost rotten (bletted) before being edible and has a taste quite unique, although it has been likened to apple sauce. I have made medlar jelly years ago and it is equally good on crumpets or to give flavor to stirfries or casseroles. Big Sis and I are having a stitchalong weekend and of course the UK clocks go back tonight, with the US

Summertime ending next Saturday. Happy stitching everyone and stay snug!!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunny Fall Saturday

And it's real Fall now both sides of the pond. Today is kind of chilly although bright sunshine and that iceblue sky peculiar to Fall. I was out and about in town today having a haircut then heading to the bank. I see in the High Street there is a new milkshake bar offering all kinds of gourmet shakes . . . not quite sure how well this will do given it's two doors down from Starbucks and hardly the weather for milkshakes but you never know. I'll give it a whirl next time I'm in the High Street although I did have my usual treat this morning - a hotdog from the market lady and a caramel latte from Starbucks. Big Sis and "our" Mom are having a trip out this morning involving lunch which is real nice for them - I don't think Big Sis has had lunch out since recovering from her op and they both work very hard and deserve a treat - LOL!!!!! I plan on stitching this afternoon . . . I have meals for the week done - cauliflower cheese with onion as well as peppers, tomatoes and onions roasted in olive oil with a little thyme and seasoning over couscous AND roast chicken. All this with plenty of fruit and good bread will be meals for the weekend and in the week leaving me plenty of time for stitching!!!!!! Of course we are on countdown to vacation and I bought the first Christmas present today - go me!!!!! My grocery store is already stuffed with Christmas goodies, never mind Halloween!!!!! And at my hair salon today I have only one appointment now at the start of December before vacation - YAAAAAAAYYY!!!!! It is a treat to have a hair trim . . . the salon I go to is very professional yet very friendly and my stylist knows what suits me and doesn't try to make me change from this. Head massages are standard after washing and I could easily drift off to sleep having one of those!!!!! Fortunately I keep to a short style and it only takes my stylist moments to snip and snap this into place. They had Halloween decorations up and it looked really good with bats and ghosties fluttering here and there!!!!! A good professional cut means that when my Big Sis picks me up at the airport I don't look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards!!!!! Of course some travellers don't seem to care - I've even seen a few arriving at US Visitor Immigration wearing PJs and wrapped around with an airline blankie which I think is a tad excessive but each to their own!!!!! Now back to stitching and hot chocolate!!!!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Greetings!!

A Happy Stitching Saturday to all stitchers out there!!! Big Sis and I have declared this to be a Stitchalong Weekend and I'm just taking five for a snackie, drink and a blog post. It's a real chill damp Fall day outside in Darkest Wiltshire . . . the kind of drizzly rain that gets into your bones if you're not careful!! My friend Mand and I visited an old market town near to where we live and treated ourselves to a full English breakfast in the Polly Tearooms!! Very old-fashioned and wonderful!!!! The town itself is old-fashioned and the stores reflect the fact that the town is in a "moneyed" area and near to racehorse breeding country which means folks who live in and around the town have ooodles of dosh. There's a real nice old-fashioned butcher's shop in the High Street which, although the prices are somewhat eye-watering, the quality of the meat is first-class and a little will go a long way!!!! There's also a high-end grocery store for more treats and quite a few interesting little stores for clothes and other stuff. If you cut through a little alleyway and walk past where I used to work you end up in the watermeadows behind the High Street and can feed lots of ducks, moorhens, cootes and other wildfowl as the River Kennet winds its way leisurely. In many ways it's a timeless place - my parents enjoyed visiting and the Polly Tearooms has been in the High Street forever and its Cream Teas are legendary!!!! Years ago when I was small there was an old-fashioned sweet shop in the High Street which sold the best sugar mice in the world but now this is long gone although you can still get sugar mice in the Polly along with lots of other cookies and cakes and candy - all homemade!!!! However our visit today was short as the drizzly chill rain was not conducive to window shopping or feeding ducks!!! Big Sis has the same weather and we both agree this is cat-on-your-lap weather and just perfect for stitching!!! Dinner tonight was comfort food courtesy of one of Nigel Slater's supper recipies . . . leftover roast chicken with couscous, chives and peas in a dressing of lemon, orange and good olive oil plus a little seasoning. He used pea shoots in his recipe but I had peas and it's all about making use of what you have on paw!!! It was very good and I think some of my sourdough bread would go well another time. It was also quick to put together which is what I wanted . . . sometimes you need something good but which doesn't take ages to make!!! Enjoy the weekend folks and happy stitching!!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another Sunday . . .

And here we are dear readers at another Sunday . . . as I write it's getting dark in the wilds of Wiltshire and Fall has well and truly arrived. Beautiful blue-sky Fall days - the sunshine having that peculiar Autumn quality about it along with a smokey mushroomy scent that follows you as you crunch your way through the already drifting leaves on the sidewalk. Big Sis and I are just over 10 weeks to vacation and we can't wait!!!!! I'm very happy to report that Big Sis is almost fully recovered now and for that I am SOOOOO thankful!!! No sourdough breadmaking this weekend as I had to sign up with a new opticians in town yesterday for contact lens supply and today I had a new fridge/freezer delivered as my old one was due for replacement. Over here these appliances seem to have a life of around 7-8 years and I wanted to replace mine before it died on me!!!!! Of course what I really wanted was a proper half-and-half fridge freezer but have had to settle for a little less than that as I was told half-and-half ones "aren't made any more madam" - what utter tosh!!!! The icing on the cake was the delivery time I paid for (paid for note!!!!) wasn't met and the thing was delivered almost an hour late with no apology. However when I raised hell with the store's customer services I was grudgingly informed I could get a refund of the delivery charge (a whopping £25) by trolling back to the store and presenting my receipt. It nearly didn't get through my front door till one of the delivery guys had the bright idea of turning it on its side and jiggling it through - don't they train these guys before they let them loose on an unsuspecting public????!!!! The store's delivery paperwork refers to our highly trained delivery staff which really is stretching a point!!!!! OK - rant over but I fear we'll have to go through this all again when I replace my little under-the-counter size freezer in a couple of weeks' time!!!!!! Sourdough breadmaking will recommence in a couple of weeks' time. I managed some stitching today but could really have done with a restorative in the spiritous liquor line - cheers!!!!!! One of my adopted stepfather's killer G&Ts would go down a real treat right now . . . he makes the best G&Ts going you know - stuffs the glass (tall, it's no good having a G&T in a tumber!!!!) with ice, proper slices of lime and generous measures of good gin and tonic - bliss!!!!!! Of course anything is much nicer when it's made for you and presented on a tray!!!! He is a generous host and I recall one time he kindly gave me a glass of Irish whiskey - I'm not keen on whiskey as a rule but Irish whiskey has a certain smokey something about it. It was a generous measure and for the rest of the evening I could feel myself getting comfier and comfier in the chair, while knowing I had to make it out to Big Sis's car when it was Time To Go Home!!!!! Big Sis says I was smashed but even though it was a shock when the cold air hit me (it was Winter and slippery underfoot from snow) I could still walk unaided and didn't require pouring into her car!!!!!! Here's to our readers *raises glass of fizzy mineral water* and check back next week for updates!!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Bread is Done!!!!

Now I'm here to tell you dear readers that I had another go at sourdough breadmaking today and what a difference!!! I made one loaf with my own starter and the other with a bought San Francisco culture - just check out the pix!!! Very satisfying crisp crust and a YUMMMM taste!!!! I did tweak the recipe to make it my own and this is Little Sis's Coldwater Canyon Sourdough Bread!!! Big Sis and I are definitely making this over our December vacation and it will be SOOOOO good with chicken noodle soup and casseroles. She's making bean soup tomorrow and I wish I could send her some of my bread for real to have with that. We both find it real satisfying to cook from scratch although we find it strange that a whole generation seems to have lost the skill and knowledge of turning leftovers into tasty meals and cooking from scratch generally. There's a cookery program on over here right now - Nigel Slater is showing how to make the most of suppers using what he grows in his small garden and also leftovers. It's all common sense that my mom and grandma did almost in their sleep and Big Sis's mom did too but it seems hardly anyone these days knows how to either shop on a budget or possess basic cooking skills. I don't write this in a big-headed way but rather sadly as it seems to us that a lot of illnesses could be alleviated by less junk food and more good homecooked stuff. And yes before you start throwing rocks dear readers and complaining you work all day and don't have time, etc, etc I do know ready meals have their place but just ONCE a week maybe make something - for me it's a great stressbuster!!!! And on to stitching now - it's a stitchalong weekend and both Big Sis and I plan to stitch up a storm!!! Have a great weekend folks and make the most of the nice Fall weather!!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sourdough Update

Now as I'm sure you recall I have been nursing along some sourdough starter and this weekend made bread with it. Not a complete success cos I didn't read down to the end of the instructions page but at least I've learned a couple of things!!!! This type of bread is different in that it has to have extra kneading time first off and only one rise - I gave it two risings as in yeast breadmaking and as a result the dough was extra stretchy and sticky, needing to go into a loaf pan rather than be a freeform one. I baked it and it had a good crust but the other thing I learned is that the loaf pan needed extra oil as I've just had to break the loaf in half to get it out of the pan - GRRRR!!!! The instructions weren't very precise as to actual baking time but I gave it my usual bread baking time and I think it needs just an extra 15 mins to be perfect. The taste is good - you can certainly tell it's sourdough bread - and the texture was good (it should have been with all that kneading!!!!). I'll try again next weekend - the starter is sat happily in the fridge and just needs "feeding" once a week. In other news the seasons have for sure changed now both sides of the pond and Fall has arrived!!! Big Sis and I are counting down to our December vacation and looking forward to homemade sourdough bread and chicken noodle soup - not all the time on vacation of course, we have a LONG list of other goodies we plan to make!!!! We both plan on stitching today and just recharging - Big Sis is feeling much better and for that alone I am truly thankful!!!! Watch this space next week for proper sourdough bread!!!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We Are Back!!!

Now apologies for being away so long but I was with my Big Sis across the pond after her surgery to have her gallbladder removed. I am very happy to say she is making extremely good sustained progress and I like to think I helped out in a small way by being with her and taking care of food and day-to-day issues to allow her lots of naptime!!!! I am truly grateful she had the best medical care and that I was able to fly out. Flying back to the UK was not much fun as I spent most of the time wishing the aircraft was flying the other way but I am next with her for Christmas and the New Year which is not long away - yes, I hear groans from our readers!!!! And for all the airlines wailing that passenger numbers are down, I saw no sign of this, as I pass through two of the world's busiest airports - Heathrow and O'Hare. What IS annoying is the cutback in flight scheduling which does nothing to endear passengers to their chosen carriers. Fortunately my flights were more or less on time and I arrived safely both sides of the pond which is, after all, the point!!! While my Big Sis rested and recuperated I whizzed around in her kitchen and left her freezer stuffed with homemade goodies (soups and veggie pasta) all portioned up and easy to reheat. I also managed to squeeze in some stitching as well as driving to the grocery store although my Big Sis did supervize by riding shotgun!!! It was strange this morning doing the grocery run now I'm back in the UK, having run round my Big Sis's grocery store a few times!!! Needless to say my checked bag was stuffed with goodies I can't get back here, including some rather YUMMM coffee creamer (chocolate eclair) and some pots of applesauce. I brought out crumpets for my Big Sis and these are very nice toasted with a little strawberry jam or nonfat cottage cheese and fresh strawberries - just right for breakfast!!!! So today in my part of the UK it started off a bluesky Fall day but we now have wall-to-wall grey clouds . . . my Big Sis tells me it's 80 degrees and sunshine with her!!!! But the seasons have definitely changed early both sides of the pond - some of the trees are just starting to turn here and in my Big Sis's street a few of the sugar maples had a faint color change right before I left. Her folks have just returned from cruising in Alaska and brought us presents - mine was a cookbook filled with recipes from the pioneer time right up to the present day and we are now planning on trying our hands at sourdough breadmaking!!! I used to make my own bread a few years ago and today I set a batch of sourdough starter going following instructions from a dedicated sourdough bread website. I want to make sure I get it right before our Christmas vacation such that I can make up a batch of sourdough bread and homemade soup for us on a cold Winter's night!!!! Well . . . that's the plan!!!! What I've started now should be ready for breadmaking this time next week and I'll let you know how it goes. Right now it's back to stitching and dinner!!!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Weekend Update

It's been a somewhat manic week with my Big Sis and I dealing with some pesky RL issues - please forgive us for being away this long but I am happy to report that things are slowly settling back to normal - or at least what passes for normal for us!!!! Just what IS "normal" these days???!!!! Our September vacation has been brought forward (for various RL reasons) such that I fly out this coming Friday - in my head I'm already on that plane!!!! My case is packed and by the front door and packs of crumpets are in the freezer to be defrosted the day before I fly and stowed carefully in my carryon!!! My Big Sis loves English crumpets - for my US friends who aren't familiar with these gorgeous goodies, they are a yeasted dough treat, round with lots of holes, which are popped into a toaster then spread with most anything you like - in the UK butter and raspberry jam are favorite!!! They are primarily a Winter treat and used to be toasted on a long metal fork in front of a real fire. You can also make a kind of crumpet pizza with savory toppings, or for a nice lunchtreat top a toasted crumpet with a poached egg and a little shredded cheese then brown under a broiler for a few moments. That along with a little side salad is a surprisingly filling lunch!!! I always bring crumpets over which are always well received!!!! This time I'm also bringing some rather nice "gourmet" ground coffee from my local grocery store - a Nicaraguan blend which is strong with chocolate overtones - along with some malted milk cookies. These have been around a long while in the UK but go very well with a coffee for a mid-morning break. Now sadly I haven't got around to doing much stitching this week but hope to do some this morning. White Star will be carefully pressed then folded into a clean plastic baggie and placed in my carryon for my Big Sis to see when I'm over. An update pic will then be posted on her Fine Art Cross Stitch site. For those of you who haven't yet found your way there, I urge you to take a peek - among many other things it offers a refreshing change from cute charts - nothing wrong with those at all but it's good to have a wider choice for stitching projects. Oh - my pinger has just pinged to inform me that it's time to wash the color from my hair . . . I want to look my best for my Big Sis!!!! Later, gators!!!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Wet UK Saturday . . .

Now here we are again and just for a change it's raining! Yes that was a note of sarcasm there due to the fact our Met Office cannot get even the simplest forecasting right and from loudly proclaiming at the start of June it will be a "barbecue Summer" whereupon after a two-day heatwave it has rained and rained and rained some more, they have now agreed this will continue for August and most of September!!!! This is because apparently the Jet Stream is locked above Scotland in the North Sea and won't come "unstuck" until Fall . . . I think that's a clever way of saying oh gee we got it wrong and don't really have a clue!!! OK - weather rant over!!!! So today we're cooking comfort food for dinner . . . this means baked chicken (a proper one that was raised on a local farm and allowed to run and peck and be happy for its short life and yes it's expensive but as I freeze the carcase to turn into stock later in the year for soup it works out good value) along with roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, carrots, runner beans and marrow. This last for my US readers is a giant zucchini which is steamed in chunks then finished off in the oven with a little shredded cheese . . . all this and gravy will provide dinner for me this evening (and my Big Sis via the magic microwave although we haven't quite worked out how to send ourselves yet!!) as well as meals for the week. Dessert will be English strawberries with none of this fancy sugared balsamic glaze or general messing about that TV chefs seem to think is necessary. Fresh berries in my opinion need nothing more than themselves and MAYBE a light dusting of sugar along with a little cream if you need extra pampering!!! My fave TV chefs are Delia Smith who is the UK equivalent of dear Ina Garten in the US. When I visit my Big Sis I'm agog at the Food Network Channel as we have nothing like that in the UK. I'll watch Giada and Paula Deen but Ina is my fave US chef. Jamie Oliver is very enthusiastic but he has "gone Hollywood" a tad and as for that Gordon Ramsey - no thank you!!!! *fans self and munches a restorative strawberry* Now both my Big Sis and I have declared this a Stitchalong Weekend which means getting comfy in our PJs and stitching!!!! Happily the food will look after itself pretty much and a good thing too as I don't want to hop up and down every five mins to pray over it!!! And I know perhaps I shouldn't grumble about our weather here cos I know folks in parts of the US are experiencing hard droughts with extreme high temps . . . I'm grateful my Big Sis has a picture-perfect day and doesn't have to run the AC!!! It's back to stitching for me along with a few strawberries till dinner is ready!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sunny Saturday in the UK

Yes I know it's kind of strange but at last the UK is seeing some sunshine - or at least this part of the West Country is!!!! Let me explain. For the last week or more it's been wall-to-wall thick grey clouds, strong winds and bucketing down rainstorms. Not nice to look out at, even worse to drive in on the freeway. However today has been sunny (although a bit breezy) and I'd almost forgotten what that blue stuff behind the clouds is - oh yeah, sky!!!! Now today my Big Sis is celebrating a family day - I would have travelled over but it's just too long a hop across the pond for a weekend!!! *grumps* Never mind, I've been stitching up a storm as well as making a lemon meringue pie for my friend Mandy who visited this morning - Big Sis isn't keen on lemon meringue pie. If I say as much myself, it was seriously YUMMM!!!!! I must say both Big Sis and Mandy are very rewarding to cook for - when Mandy arrived this morning I was elbowed aside with a cry of "You've been BAKING - wonderful!!!!!" Her (large!) slice disappeared in a wink and it never ceases to amaze me how something as simple as a homemade goody can bring such pleasure judging from her blissful smile!!! As well as entertaining this morning I've been stitching AND made a sausage casserole for the week with mashed potatoes. That along with salads should see me through the week for dinners - believe me after a day's work then half an hour's drive on the freeway I have to use to get to/from where I work I do NOT want to turn to and start cooking!!!! Apologies to those readers who travel farther to their place of work but it's all relative!!! Um . . . green melons were on sale today at the grocery store - these are pielo del sapo green skinned ones, a little like the honeydew variety but bigger and extremely YUMMM. I got two and feel very smug gazing in the fridge at the large bowl of melon chunks. As you may have gathered, good food is very important to me along with stitching!!!! Which reminds me, time for some more strawberries then back to stitching!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A change to my blog

As you may have noticed from the post before, I've added my sis to the blog. She's a bit shy about having her own blog. She was worried she'd have a bad day, go on a major rant about her job, and get fired. I promised her I'd moderate her posts so that won't happen! (It wouldn't anyway, but now she won't worry!)

My Sis. Now, so no one gets confused here, let me explain. She's not my biological sister. She should be, though. Our theory is the stork had a bad night, and got a bit off course. She was left with a very lovely couple in England, but she was supposed to be left with MY parents. Well, done is done now. We've found each other and my folks have 'adopted' her. While we don't live in the same place, we talk and email every day. She even visits me in Michigan 3 times a year. (I know, I'm bad for not visiting her, but I don't fly.)

So, when you read our various posts, so you don't get confused, read sis' posts with a British accent, as she will post from England's west country. Read mine with a Mid-western accent from the United States. Trust me, it will all make much more sense that way!


Inroducing Little Sis

A very big HI *waves* I'm Sheri's little sis and she introduced (or should that be induced????!!!!) me to cross stitch a couple of years ago with a Lavender & Lace Angel project. I've done a few since then and am proud to be a model stitcher for my Big Sis but cannot boast the experience and number of projects Sheri has!! Once I'm comfy with my feet up I stitch away, little tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth and would be happy stitching all day but pesky work tends to get in the way!!!!! Of course I know it pays the bills and stuff but it would be wonderful to stitch away or cook up yummm food or just hang out with my Big Sis!!!! Today's menu features chicken stock made from scratch to be portioned out and frozen, sticky chicken wings which if I do say as much are seriously yummm and gourmet burgers with all the fixings!!! Sheri is a mean cook and her coconut chicken with salad is the best food in the world!!! Right now it's back to stitching for me - I'll post a couple of pix next time - along with some stitchy snacks and a big glass of iced coffee!!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A new finish

Forest Light is finally finished! She took exactly 100 days to complete (using tent stitching which is much faster than full crosses) and every spare second of my time. Now, after 5 years and 6 finished charts of over one stitching I think I've got that out of my system. (for now at least) My next project is started and I'm back to more traditional stitching of 2 x 2 and it seems nice to see those neat little squares all line up in both directions.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Update time

I know I've been neglectful of stitching updates. So, here are two of them. In the first, you can see I finally have the woman finished. It was a lot of confetti stitching, but turned out well, I think.

This one is the last pic I did. I didn't want to completely unroll the fabric on the scrolls, so you just see the current section. Just one more row of pages and she'll be finished. I can't wait to see her framed and in my living room.

On a personal note, I had some much needed time off last week. My sis came to visit and we just hung out, cooked yummy food, stitched, in short, had a girly week. Giggle, we even had a spa evening. No, no pics of us in the little spa booties on our feet, with mashed avocado and strawberry smeared all over our faces while we watched a movie, sipped pink champagne and nibbled crackers with soft goat cheese on them! I can tell you, we were visions though!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Never Stop Learning

I used to make my pictures for my works in progress on a scanner. Then I started stitching on a scroll rod. That was such a huge problem to take it off, and maneuver it onto the scanner that I bought a new camera to take pictures. (see how my mind works, scary, huh?)

Now I had a brand new digital camera and didn't know how to use it. I tried several settings, but the pictures were never very good. I decided to start taking a picture every night after I finished stitching to practice.

OK, now I had a bunch of pictures. Then I learned how to make a cool slideshow in photobucket, and just now have learned how to post it to my blog! (see left hand side for said slideshow).

I must say, there is a sense of accomplishment there. So, may I present the slideshow that takes my stitching to the half-way point with Forest Light. The original artwork is by Jonathan Earl Bowser.

The pictures still aren't the best, but I think they are getting better. I'm still practicing every night and will do another slideshow when I finish the next row of pages.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back to my blog and some serious stitching again. I've been wanting to do this piece for ages. The artist is Jonathan Earl Bowser and the piece is called Forest Light.

I've been stitching on it at this point for 30 days and am almost 1/3 of the way finished. It's being stitched on 28 count Laguna fabric, 2 x 1 and using only half cross stitches. There is a lot of areas with the same color in them, so it's stitching up very fast.

That's good because the stitchers I hang out with on the internet were having a conversation a short while ago. The question was asked, "if you had unlimited money and time, what pattern would you stitch?" There were some beautiful patterns for answers, any of them I'd love to do. My ultimate pattern though was, well, extreme to say the least. There is this lady named Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts who has charted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This chart is 564 x 1114. That's 628,296 total stitches. Now, I love large projects, but this is huge, even by my standards.

I was answering the question, not intending to actually stitch the chart. I don't know what happened, but the thread took on a life of it's own and now these friends and I are planning to stitch our dream charts. I guess why not? Life is uncertain and when I'm 80 and maybe not able to stitch any longer, if I didn't at least try, I believe I'd regret it. So..... the chart is purchased. The fabric ordered. It takes over 600 skeins of floss. I'm using my master set of DMC to get it started, and now need to go through what I do have to see what I still need.

This chart will take me a good long time, but I've always loved the art on the ceiling of the chapel. I remember when National Geographic did a layout of the restoration of the art, I wore the mag out looking at the pictures. I can't wait to get to know this wonderful art, one stitch at a time.

I also, briefly toyed with the idea of charting this art myself, since I do chart historic art to stitch. I looked long and hard at Joanna's chart and truly believe it can't be improved. To that end, there is no reason to even try. I'll stitch her marvelous work. I'm starting a new blog just for the project. I'll post a link to it when I have it ready.

I hope anyone who stumbles onto this little blog will join myself and the others that will be stitching their own dream charts to keep my company in our journey.