Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow in Darkest Wiltshire!!!

Yes it's snowing here - despite the confident predictions of the Met Office which shows just how much THEY know - NOT!!!! About a couple of inches and nothing that would really get in the way of shopping or the usual weekend activities but all week the local forecaster has been saying we won't see any snow till the middle of next week!!! Of course Brits being what they are there will be panic-buying at sight of the first few innocent flakes, bread and milk will fly off the shelves only to end up in dumpsters a few days later and before anyone jumps on me about this I've seen it happen SOOOO many times - so there!!!! And anyway this is my Big Sis's blog and my post - if you don't want to read, go somewhere else!!!! Yes you can tell I'm just a tad ticked this morning . . . I've had a doozy of a cold and lost my voice only to find from a lady I see regularly at the grocery store that it was allegedly a bad batch of flu vaccine from my local surgery that is the culprit!!!!! She was telling me she and a whole gob of other folks had flu jabs the same time I did and ALL - without exception!!! - have had similar symptoms to me!!! It seems I've got off lightly as loads of others had upset stomachs as well!!!! Talk about the NHS saving money by allegedly using an outdated vaccine batch. Quite honestly if you get sick in this country the medical profession are just as likely to misdiagnose or give you the wrong drugs!!!! A friend's mother-in-law has pancreatic cancer and the consultant missed the not insignificant fact that her blood sugar might be way up as her pancreas had stopped working properly - DUH!!!!! My father used to say he'd be happy to be treated by our cats' vet who was a nice man, very down-to-earth and knowledgeable with bags of common sense. Ho hum!!!!! On a brighter note I've got a pot of onion soup simmering on the hob and the barrista in our local Starbucks gave me a freebie this morning - I went in for a very nice cafe mocha and bought some of their jasmine-orange teabags and got a free teabag to try later today!!!! OK it may be a small thing but nonetheless it was kind and she didn't have to do that!!!! The girls in there are always bright and cheerful which is saying something given some of the miserable types that show up for coffee and yes I have served the public having done bar work some years ago and I know what it's like!!!! I sat in the window watching the market stallholders setting up and reflected that in small towns across the UK the weekly market has been the same down the centuries - just the wares have changed!!!! It's also comforting to reflect that Starbucks is at O'Hare Airport and I pass it every time I head to my connecting flight to visit my Big Sis although I have to say the Starbucks at the entrance to the G concourse is better than the one in the food court on the K concourse - much friendlier staff!!!! Why that should be I have no idea!!! White Star is almost done and I'm on the last half page - WHEEEEEEEE!!!!! Giverny is next up and is sat on my craft table next to my stitch frame all ready!!! I hope everyone stays warm today both sides of the pond and my US readers aren't suffering too much from a surfeit of turkey!!!! Happy Stitching!!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Grey November Afternoon . . .

It's a grey November day here in the UK and I think folks are sweeping up after the high winds earlier in the week!!!! Fortunately where I am there was minimum damage for which I am very thankful!!! Still it wasn't fun driving to work on the freeway and my little car sure was buffeted about by the wind - not to mention the idiot drivers (mostly male!!!!) who seem to think they can whizz by at 96,000,000 mph in treacherous wet conditions . . . !!!! It's a cold grey November day too where my Big Sis is and I think it's crumpet weather all round!!! All very conducive to stitching in a warm cozy living room, something good on tv and something good baking in the oven!!! Today it's roast chicken with good old mash, gravy, buttered carrots and savoy cabbage - may seem pedestrian to some but it does me all right. With my Big Sis's patented apple salad for dessert - crisp slices of Cox apples mixed with dried cranberries and either pecans or walnuts then bound with either plain yoghurt or creme fraiche - this is a cheeringly YUMMMM meal. I've watched a few of the Nigella Kitchen episodes but I don't really take to her style, being more of a Delia Smith/Ina Garten cook with just a dash of Jamie Oliver!!!! I'm happy to watch Michael C on the Food Network when I'm visiting my Big Sis as well as Giada (although she does harp on about chocolate a tad too much!!!!) but that Robin Miller can be a tad scary but just my two cents!!!! When cooking for my Big Sis I have a tendency to say things are "gettin' happy" in the pan which means I've been watching too much Emeril!!!!! White Star is almost finished now and I can't wait for my Big Sis to see this then we have to decide what kind of frame it will look best in - whatever, it will be BIG!!!! I think more folks should stitch - it gets rid of a shedload of stress and you have something decorative at the end of it and a sense of achievement. Happy stitching to all the stitchers out there - we need more of you!!!!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Been A While . . .

Yes it's been a while since I posted in July following a trip to The Courts Gardens in the Summer sunshine!!!! Real life has a habit of getting in the way, as does work, although I know Big Sis and I are truly grateful to have jobs and for everything that we do have between us. The UK seems gripped by a somewhat grim mood which I can only describe as something approaching wartime, and this is from what my parents told me of that time when of necessity austerity ruled and "make do and mend" was one of the key phrases, as was "Keep calm and carry on". Yes, there were actually posters of that phrase put up in public places at that time!!! The old skills of utilising leftovers in the food line and minimising waste as well as making over where clothes and other things are concerned are being rediscovered and in some cases hailed as new ideas . . . these are skills my grandma and Mom had and passed down to me; likewise my Big Sis was raised the same way. Just my observations and not meant in a patronising way to anyone at all. On the happy side Big Sis and I had a wonderful vacation recently and as usual crammed in a whole lot each day, as well as stitching, hanging out and laughing, movies and food!!!! I think I trucked back half her local grocery store in my luggage and of course brought out with me a whole Waitrose bag full of crumpets for her freezer!!!! Yes I'm sure some online import stores carry crumpets but at an exorbitant cost and at least she gets them fresh from my local Sainsbury's where the bakery manager is intrigued that some of his stock finds its way across the pond!!!!! And as usual on the flights to/from the US, there were the usual number of idiots trying to bring on luggage as carryon then wondering why there wasn't space in the overhead bins!!!!! There's me with my regulation size carryon and personal item (crumpet-stuffed Waitrose bag) all stowed, watching folks get tied in knots then having to give up their bags to be valet-checked - and this is at Heathrow!!!!! It's selfish and wastes valuable time - as it was the plane was 10 mins late pushing back from the gate because of these idiots but of course the airline should enforce the carryon size rule . . . !!!! I know folks are trying to avoid the extra bag charges but come ON!!!!! Get real!!!! OK, rant over!!!!! I got to and from safely and reunited with my luggage which, after all, is the whole point!!!! AND I got a second breakfast too as the outward flight was only half full . . . the airline sure didn't make any profit on me that day!!!!! But then a couple of days after returning, I had to invest in a new cooker or stove as the element blew in my old one. This was NOT cool as it was a Belling and in the UK this is supposed to be a good make but hey what do I know. My friendly electrician sucked his teeth wisely and even though it was only six years old we agreed it would make more sense to bite the bullet and get a new one as parts for these are not readily available over here and labor costs high. I am now the proud owner of a new cooker to be wired in tomorrow evening. There's never a good time to buy high-ticket items but I'm grateful I am in a position to be able to do that. And from what the delivery guys said my old one can be "reconditioned" by the store in some way and reused. Next weekend I plan on making chicken & mushroom pie from scratch in my new pie dish to christian my new cooker!!!!! However today is StitchAlong Sunday and I'm pleased to say White Star is almost finished now - I'm on the last row GO ME!!!!! Happy stitching!!!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

High Summer II

Now this post and the previous one show pix of my visit to the Courts Gardens today. You can see the scarecrow in the veggie patch and the display of wonderful desserts in the tearooms there!!!! Here too are pix of my strawberry mousse and amaretti gateau that we had after YUMMMM ham with old fashioned English garden salad, homemade coleslaw and new potatoes. It's High Summer now or Dog Days which last until August 11. Everything pauses now, quietly ripening in the hot sun. Now we are past Midsummer, the days are starting to draw in, albeit imperceptibly, but already it's darker in the mornings now. The Courts Gardens are all betwixt and between like all gardens, big or small, in the UK and we saw tall hollyhocks their blooms like colorful floppy cotton skirts, as well as a raft of other old fashioned country garden flowers and shrubs. There were quite a few folks visiting today as well as a lady artist who had her work on display and was painting in a shady corner. The waterlily looked just gorgeous and the sound of the water spilling into the pool was very cooling. We saw a Bat Evening advertised for next week when a bat expert would talk visitors through the bats they would see in the twilight with the tearooms laying on nibbles and fruit juice cocktails. The gardens were very peaceful even with more folks walking around and we could have stretched out in the shade and slept off our full tummies!!!! My stitch frame is wonderful and I'm making good progress with White Star now. Giverny is kitted up as the next project and I can't wait to see White Star framed!!!! Meals for the coming week will be based around nice lamb leg steaks baked in pear cider with some sweet onions, redcurrant jelly, seasoning and thyme along with mashed potatoes, runner beans and gravy. I have a couple of pints of English raspberries for desserts along with some thick Jersey cream as a treat!! Happy Stitching folks!!!!

High Summer

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stitch Frame!!!!!

At last I've assembled my wonderful stitching floor stand (thanks to Hearthside Crafts in Canada and my family LOL!!!!) and White Star is on the scroll rods!!!!! It sure makes a difference as it was getting very heavy to hold on the Qsnaps. I'm still waiting for my recliner to be delivered and have a little chair to use right now. The recliner will go right next to the armchair and I just won't know myself!!!! I have to say when assembling the floor stand you do need two people so that you can hold the pieces properly and get them flush with each other before tightening the screws, etc. But otherwise it was a breeze!!!! I have a tiny apartment (someone once called it a bijou shoebox!!!) but that's OK - less to clean and more time for stitching!!!!!! Here in this part of the UK it's sunny with a few clouds but a chilly breeze!!! I know my Big Sis's weather has been hot and humid - they had lots of rain recently and standing water gives rise to mozzies - EEEEEKKK!!!! While we have a few of these pesky critters over here, nothing like what other places have. Yesterday I made my version of my Big Sis's cherry chicken in the crockpot . . . skinless boned chicken thighs diced along with half a can of pitted morello cherries and a handful of dried sour cherries. To this I added a packet of dried onion soup mix and about half a pint of chicken stock along with a little seasoning and a pinch of dried thyme. This was YUMMMM although I wouldn't use canned cherries again. I put runner beans with it and of course mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, noodles, couscous or rice would go very well!!!! Today is Little Sis's burger day . . . good quality beefburgers with thick grilled onion slices on toasted buns with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and good blue cheese mayo and nice burger relish or pickle (although I know "pickle" in the US means dill pickle or sweet pickles which are something different to UK relish). Some nice seasoned oven fries will go very well too!!! I wish we could get wonderful two-tone fresh corn that I've had when visiting my Big Sis - all we get in the UK is yellow corn which is tough and not very sweet even when bought from a farmstand!!! Big Sis thinks this is just field corn and we're being shortchanged!!!! The caramel macchiatto creamer I brought back has all gone now but I'll be bringing double back in September now that I know it survives the trip!!!! Right now it's back to my stitching frame - happy stitching everyone!!!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Overdue Update

Yes I know it's been a while since I posted but I was kind of busy with a much-needed vacation with my Big Sis then recovering from the jetlag on my return AND having to head back to work!!! We're on countdown for September now and in the meantime I thought I'd update with some food items. First up is the pic of turkey lasagne - nice lean ground turkey quickly sauteed with red onion then mixed with some rather good tomato-chianti pasta sauce then layered up with pasta sheets and store-bought
three-cheese sauce to which I added some extra ricotta then the whole lot dusted with parm. It sure smells good in my kitchen!!!! I also tried out a bean & tomato salad from the Eating Well mag/site. This should really be made with heirloom tomatoes but I had to make do with good quality grocery store ones - slice up the tomatoes, mixed with blanched green beans and add a drained can of whatever beans you like if you want along with thinly sliced halfmoons of red onion. Whisk up some cyder vinegar, runny honey and a little olive oil and seasoning, pour over and chill and run it up the flagpole!!!! As I like beets (Big Sis doesn't) I made a beet salad with toasted pecans and crumbled soft goat cheese with just a drizzle of sweet aged balsamic dressing. Again this should really be made with yellow and red beets but all my store had today were red but it sur tastes YUMMM!!!! *drum roll please - DRRRRRRR!!!!* Now I am VERY happy to announce I am now the proud owner of a crossstitch floor stand - GO ME!!!!! This is the same as the one Big Sis has and I've hummed and haaaed about getting one for the last year or so. It's from Hearthside Crafts (thanks to John and Helen) who are based in Canada and is handmade, designed to fit over a recliner chair. Delivery was extremely quick given that it was from Canada and I'm just waiting for the recliner I bought to be delivered then it will be fitted together and away I'll go. This will be brilliant for White Star as this project is getting very heavy now on a Qsnap. Of course I hope the recliner isn't too comfortable else I might be tempted to snooze instead of stitch!!!!!! I hope wherever you are the sun is shining and you're enjoying a well-deserved restful weekend - happy stitching!!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Countdown to Vacation!!!!

Now Big Sis and I are very excited to once again be on our vacation day countdown - YAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!! What with one thing and another since the start of this year we both think we've earned an extra special vacation - our list is on two pages already!!!!! That's OK cos what we don't get to cross off just rolls over to the next vacation!!! Yesterday the UK had a picture-perfect bluesky Spring day and today is almost as good but with a little hazy cloud. Everything is out now - that first shy fresh green that fades all too quickly then when you look about yourself in the dog days of August, the color seems kind of used up and dusty. But right now everything is eager to get on with the business of flowering and bursting out!!!! Birds are singing away and I've shook out lots of crumbs for them cos snacks are appreciated any time of year!!!! My friend Mand visited this morning and I made us fresh lemonade - an old Cranks Restaurant recipe. For my US readers, Cranks was a vegetarian restaurant in London's West End which started in the sixties, managed to make it through to the nineties but I think has now fallen by the wayside. The emphasis was on healthy organic fresh veggie food and I have one of the original recipe books. I visited several times when I worked in London and can attest to the high quality of the food. The lemonade recipe is simple - just lemons, raw dark brown sugar and water. You are meant to steep the mix overnight but I cheated and squeezed the lemon halves hard before straining into my new decorative jug over lots of ice and lemon slices. It sure was good and very refreshing on a hot day!!!! You can of course cut it with sparkling mineral water and it does make a good base for a Pimms or Long Island Ice Tea - for the latter you'd need to add in tea bags with the lemons and boiling water. I also made us blueberry muffins which disappeared in a wink!!!!!! Dinner tonight will be homely - good quality pork sausages baked with a little hard cider and red onions along with mashed potatoes and baked beans - comfort food any time of year!!!!! My grocery store predictably had burgers on sale along with burger buns and salads and all the fixings and I have some of that for weeknight meals. The store also had specials on icecream and chilled drinks and I think they are a little optimistic given we're still in April!!!! I'm whizzing ahead on White Star now and only have one and a half rows left - each row is three whole pages worth of stitching though!!!! The next question of course is framing and where to hang it!!! I'll be taking it across the pond in my carryon for vacation and once pressed it folds nicely into a plastic baggie and sits behind my travel papers folder. I'll also be bringing crumpets for my Big Sis as these freeze very well and even in High Summer a toasted crumpet with some cottage or cream cheese and a scattering of raspberries makes a YUMMMM breakfast!!!! This is a Stitchalong Weekend and happy stitching!!!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Easter!!!

Now I sure hope everyone had a great Easter with lots of chocolate eggs and plenty of stitching!!!! Over here it's the first big holiday since Christmas and it marks the start of the UK tourist season - kinda strange when you think the weather is never all that great around this time!!!! Right now it's chilly and overcast - you need a jacket if you're outside!!! But that's the UK for you and it'll start to warm up now *crosses fingers*. We have Good Friday and Easter Monday as public holidays and I happen to get the Tuesday off from work also which is a welcome break!!! I've been stitching up a storm and White Star is progressing very well *looks around and whispers* I might even finish it by Summer!!! Today I plan as a Stitching Day then tomorrow morning early my friend Mandy and I will visit a small market town near us for a little shopping, starting with a good old fashioned English breakfast in the tea rooms there. This little town has lots of good quality old fashioned stores - butcher's, greengrocer's and a very upscale grocery store. If you know where to look you can get some very good stuff at reasonable prices and I'd rather save my pennies and buy just a few good quality treats sometimes cos everyone deserves treats!!!! I'll be stitching in the afternoon too. We'll be getting some Marks & Spencer longlife pouches of Jersey cream custard as I plan on bringing over a couple when I visit my Big Sis in May - M&S food is the most upscale you can get in the grocery store line (we'll leave aside Harrods and Fortnum & Mason in London!!!!) and she's tried a couple of their cakes and cookies before now. Longlife custard may not sound all that gourmet but trust me this stuff is the REAL deal and as it's sealed and longlife, there won't be any tedious questions asked by US Customs!!!! One time a Customs guy did ask just what WERE crumpets and I showed him a pack (I usually bring over about 8 packs and there are 8 crumpets to a pack). He grinned and waved me through!!!! I hope everyone has a peaceful relaxing day and if you have to work then give your boss an extra large smile cos bosses are people too (well most of them, I've known a few where that statement could be highly suspect!!!!!). Happy stitching!!!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Spring NOW!!!!!!

Yes is sure is over here and not before time!!!!! All the Spring flowers are out now - daffies, crocus, grape hyacinths - although the snowdrops are over which is a pity but they are the first herald of Spring and only last a short time. My Mom always called them "white ladies" which is a very appropriate name for a delicate yet hardy flower. True to form the UK is having lots of showers - like the April showers have arrived early!!!! The various water companies better NOT try to say there are drought conditions later in the year!!! I know across the pond folks are little behind the UK Spring-wise but it IS here and you can feel the welcome change in the seasons - everything eager to grow and be done with Old Man Winter who has trailed back to the North Pole!!! The apple tree outside my landing window almost overnight has fat pink buds waiting to pop!!! Our tastes change too . . . there is a need for somewhat lighter food and only a century ago country folk in the UK would turn to herbs as a tonic after Winter, using purslane and tansy and dandelion leaves in cooking and salads. What goes around comes around and I hear in some fancypants restaurants in London these are now making a comeback at eyewatering prices!!!! Stitching is coming along a little better now that lighter evenings beckon and of course today in the UK the clocks go forward and we join you guys in the US for Summer or Daylight Savings time - there will be some unhappy folk around tomorrow morning at losing an hour in bed!!!! Today's menu is roast chicken (some fresh thyme, half a lemon and onion up its bottom) along with mashed potatoes, new season carrots and the last of the Brussels Sprouts along with flavorful gravy - some chilled flame grapes and a little Brie drizzled with honey will be dessert. My Big Sis and I are now in single week figure countdown for vacation and we've really earned this one!!!! This coming Easter weekend will give more opportunity for stitching although I do have one or two household projects to take care of but nothing that will get in the way of the serious stitcher!!!!! Happy stitching and I hope the sun shines a little everywhere today!!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

And Spring Is Here . . . Well, Just!!!!!!!

Now I think Spring has finally woken up both sides of the pond although he's kind of elusive right now, just teasing us with little sightings here and there of patches of warm sunshine and in the UK, crocus and snowdrops and daffodils all ready to burst out. Even the buds on the trees are fattening up, ready to pop in another three weeks or so when the warmer weather really arrives!!! I know where Big Sis is it's grey and cold today, despite the mild weather and sunshine they had last week - with snow on the ground!!!! Now I love Spring . . . they said when I was a child that I'd change and love the Autumn cos you can wait for Spring many a weary day but Spring holds such promise and is SOOOO welcome after Winter's dark cold days. It is a renewal in every sense . . . folks are badly in need of warm sunshine and seeing some color around, not to mention a change in diet from heavy Winter comfort food to something lighter . . . something to cleanse the system and act like a tonic which is where fresh herbs added to salad greens are very effective - fresh marjoram and chervil if you're lucky enough to get hold of some, along with fresh chives and good old parsely!!!! Big Sis and I have been beavering away on our stitching projects and these are coming along nicely!!! She tells me that a lot of crafters are concerned that no younger folks are stitching now - that's a real shame cos WE NEED MORE STITCHERS!!!!!! Actually if folks disengaged from Facebook once in a while and looked about themselves they might discover a whole new world (did I say that out loud????!!!!) But then each to their own!!!!! Big Sis and I are now in single week figures for our vacation countdown and of course the US Daylight Savings Time has now kicked in - I can hear the groans people!!!!! Not to worry, it's the UK's turn in a couple of weeks time then we'll be grumbling over here!!!! I've never seen the sense in messing with the time change although doubtless lots of folks far cleverer than me will shake their heads but all it does is make folks crabby cos they're tired from losing an hour's sleep and that leads to more accidents and . . . I could go on but you get the point!!!! Right now it's back to stitching for me - have a good week everyone and happy stitching!!!!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another Month Whizzed By!!!!

Now February whizzed by in a wink - just as well with a some RL family stuff but happily all is well chez Little Sis and Big Sis!!!! Here in darkest Wiltshire we've seen a little sun today and I'm happy to say that the wild daffodils outside my window have pushed through the grass and you can see the flower buds forming - a sure sign that Spring is here!!!! Elsewhere there are drifts of snowdrops (which my Mom used to call White Ladies) and crocus. The grocery store finally had daffies on sale today and I have a jug of these in my living room to cheer the still somewhat dark grey days. I know where my Big Sis is Spring isn't quite as advanced but even there it's getting progressively lighter at the start and end of the days now, even though they've had yet more of the pesky white stuff!!!!! But we are both grateful to live where we do considering what has happened weatherwise in other parts of the world!!!! Today it's still comfort food even though we're keen for a change . . . sausage casserole made with proper plump pork sausages with no nasty cereal filler!!!! Sausages how they should be, browned with shallots then braised slowly with hard cider, Bramley cooking apples and mushrooms then served with baked potatoes and slow-braised red cabbage!!!!! This together with a bowl of mixed salad, some roast chicken chunks, dressing and croutons will be meals in the week with minimum effort!!! Let's be honest, after a hard day's work the last thing most folks want to do is nance about in the kitchen - I want to relax, eat and shower!!!! And stitch of course . . . White Star pix will shortly be updated on my Big Sis's website and if I do say as much she is looking rather good!!!! I collect the small cat piece that Big Sis finished for me from the framers in a couple of week's time and will post pix. And I think we're all ready for sight of Spring now . . . although Big Sis and I enjoy cozy crumpet-weather Winter days, stitching and with the occasional mug of hot chocolate, it's time now for Old Man Winter to pack his bags!!!! Have a good stitchy weekend and stay warm!!!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Month Closer to Spring!!!!!

Can you believe we're already in February?? Yes I can hear the groans both sides of the pond that it's still Winter and when are we gonna see warm sunshine and Spring flowers!!!! Well Spring IS on the way and certainly in the UK it's still fairly light around 4.30 each day. I know parts of the US need to catch up a bit but it won't be long!!!!! We're lucky here that we can take advantage of the early "forced" rhubarb in the stores right now - a beautiful champagne pink and wonderful in muffins, crisps, pies or cakes - I've even made rhubarb juice which is just rhubarb cooked gently with a little brown sugar then pressed through a sieve, the juice collected and chilled. Serve over ice either as it is, spiked with spirit of your choice or cut with sparkling mineral water. And my rhubarb cake which is just diced rhubarb mixed into a basic sponge cake mix then baked is wonderful either as a cake or for a pud!!!! Today I've made a huge batch of chicken casserole to portion down and freeze - this is simply diced chicken thighs (skinned and boned) shallots, canned whole mushrooms, casserole mix and a bottle and a half of fruity red wine with some redcurrant jelly. This all bubbles slowly until flavorful and cooked ready to be served with rice, mash, noodles or whatever you like!!!! My kitchen smells wonderful which is eddying round the neighborhood as I have the kitchen window open a tad as it's a beautiful bluesky day here!!!! For meals in the week I'm making a good old-fashioned cottage pie today - nice lean minced (ground) steak cooked with chopped onion and seasoning then piled with mashed potato before the cooking finishes to brown the mash. I have some roast chicken gravy defrosting and peas to go with it. As pomegranates were on sale today I got one and will make a pomegranate-honey salad dressing to go over roast chicken chunks mixed in with salad greens to serve with a little garlic bread. Sunday is stitchalong and PJ day and I'm still stuck in confetti hell right now but it's worth it cos White Star looks wonderful and will look even more wonderful when I'm done!!!!! I took the last of the three little cat projects into the framers here today and will post pix when this is ready. My Big Sis finished this one off for me and it's lovely to have something she's worked on. All three are small but vibrantly colorful and brighten my living room. Luckily the framers I go to where I live are still hanging in there, even though business is down a little - but then these framers are the only good quality professional ones for miles around and if you've produced something good it deserves the very best framing rather than being framed half-assed or worse, stuffed in a drawer!!!!! Happy Stitching along with rhubard & custard muffins all round!!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

PJ Stitch a long Day

Now, what can be better than a Sunday spent in one's PJ's. A hot cup of fresh coffee sitting next to you. One huge cross stitch project in hand and some movies on the DVD player. That's my idea of a good day. OK, I admit I put on clothes long enough to get groceries this morning. I can't resist Sunday mornings for shopping. I usually have the whole store to myself and there are no lines at checkout.

It's been a crazy month so far for me. Once the new year starts, this accountant is so busy at work for the next month that I hardly can remember my name. Once all the January deadlines are met, it's not to bad for me. The others in my office are a different matter though. I'm not complaining. I have a good job and I'm more than grateful for it, even if poor Little Sis has a grumpy Big Sis to talk to every evening on the phone.

Stitching time has been slight so far, I admit. This weekend I'm trying to make up for it. Other stitchers I know understand, if I don't stitch for a few days I even crabbier and anxious. I'm not sure what it is about needlework that keeps me grounded, but it does.

To that end, there's a project I've been working on for over 2 years now. It's finally finished! Anyone that knows me knows I don't have a big list of WIP projects. If I have 2 going at once it's a lot for me. This one really has been bugging me because it's not the most enjoyable one to stitch, but it is just stunning. So, without further ado, here's Pompeji Garden by Chatelaine!

I've taken it to the framer's already, since there was a 20% off coupon. I found the most perfect frame, and when I get the whole thing back, I'll post pics etc.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Rainy UK Saturday

Yes it is rainy in this part of the UK (south west for those who care about such things) and thankfully the snow has melted away. We did not get quite as bad snow/ice as other parts of the country but bad enough to make the journey to/from work even more of a whiteknuckle ride than usual!!!! However today I am profoundly grateful for where I live and what I have (especially my Big Sis!!!!) and that Big Sis and everyone I know is safe, warm and has food. Our daily grumbles/problems pale beside what those in Haiti are dealing with. I have donated - to animal charities as well as people charities - and feel the most positive thing I can be is grateful for what I have. Today is eggplant parm day and it has turned out rather good - this is a baked egged and crumbed eggplant rather than fried then covered with pasta sauce and mozzarella before baking. To use up oven space I made a cheese & onion quiche and an apple sponge - UK Bramley (or cooking) apples are at their best right now AND cheap. All good yummmmmy food for the weekend and coming week supplemented with fresh soup and toast for minimum effort *allows self a small preen* Right now it's time for stitching and White Star is coming along nicely although getting a tad heavy as it's a big piece!!!! Tomorrow I declare to be a PJ & Stitchalong Day - do join Big Sis and me if you can!!!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Snowy Hi from the UK!!!!

Yes, the UK has a major snow event!!! Now whilst my US and Canadian friends may shake their heads please remember the Brits are just not used to this kind of weather. We have had severe Winters in the past - 1963, 1985 and 1995 - but these are quickly forgotten and when it happens all over again everyone exclaims they've never seen anything like it!!!! Even those in charge seem to have forgotten past severe Winter weather and are now rationing grit/road salt having failed to buy in enough despite being warned by weather forecasters. It really beggars belief we pay these people but there it is. Where I am is not at all bad - sure my estate road is still frozen snow but the main roads are reasonably clear - I managed to make it to the grocery store this morning and despite dire predictions by the media, the shelves were full and I got what I needed!!! You know not many folks these days seem to keep a pantry stocked like my Mom and Grandma did - canned and packet stuff - and Big Sis says her folks did that too. We both keep a supply of that kind of thing as well as good old freezers with homemade stuff ready to thaw when needed. I'm warm, I have food and my little car's windshield is covered with towels against more snow we're supposed to get tonight. Right now I'm baking a chicken stuffed with onions, lemon and thyme to have with mashed potato (with a little sweet potato) brussels sprouts and gravy - real comfort food for a cold Winter day!!! I wish I could share for real with my Big Sis but I know she's out to lunch today - it's almost as cold in the UK as it is with her and that's saying something!!!! Both Big Sis and I have a lot to be thankful for and we ARE thankful AND I'm stitching after dinner - go me!!!!! Have a good, safe weekend and happy stitching!!!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!!!!!

I hope everyone had great holidays and feel ready to return to work . . . yeah I can hear the screams on that one!!!!! My Big Sis and I had a WONDERFUL time as always and apologies for not posting but I neglected to take along my blog password in my excitement to get out the door and onto the aircraft!!!! Weather was fine for travelling both ways and AA flew me safe which is after all the whole point!!!! I'm pleased to report that we did make several sourdough loaves which turned out very good and my Big Sis is keeping the starter going and I think plans to bake more bread over the coming weeks. We had fresh homemade bread along with squash & sweet potato soup for one dinner - that sure keeps the cold snowy Winter nights at bay!!!! Oh - the soup is good with a little cayenne to tickle it up!!!! We also had a turkey feast - a nice fresh turkey from the local gourmet butcher - with plenty of leftovers as well as turkey "gold" and I made stock from the carcass. My Big Sis made turkey tortellini soup which was YUMMM!!!! I also made baked pork chops with onion and apple for one dinner along with braised red cabbage - just shredded with apple, onion, a little shake of seasoning and nutmeg (you can add other spices) and a glug of red wine vinegar. This all braises happily in a slow oven along with the pork chops. When cooked the red cabbage does improve in the fridge after a couple of days and can be frozen. You get the idea that we did eat good on vacation!!!!! We also got in lots of stitching time and I'm now back to working on White Star - see my Big Sis's Fine Art Crossstitch site for the latest pic. We also had a Girls' Afternoon Tea with our Mom, Jen and SL - see pic above of the table. I made my Big Sis's apple-walnut cake with caramel frosting, UK-style scones to eat with real clotted cream and raspberry conserve and little crustless tea sandwiches - egg dijon or cream cheese with cucumber and red onion. I also had little tea favors to hand out for going home gifts as you can see in the basket. Everyone had a great time and agreed it was a very good UK twist on afternoon tea!!!! Christmas was wonderful and although we did spend a lot of time with family we also got to have several PJ Days with movies and stitching and food - a couple of new traditions are Muffalatas which are glass cocoa mugs filled with vanilla icecream then a little liqueur of choice (not every time!!!) then hot freshbrewed flavored coffee (pecan pie was best) poured over and topped with whipped cream (all lowfat I hasten to add!!!!). We also had gourmet hot chocolate in the glass mugs topped with whipped cream and a shake of gourmet coocoa powder . . . these along with a tiny Baci candy each were wonderful treats!!!!! My Big Sis made Chex Mix and I have 2 HUGE bags all to myself!!!!! I can't wait to head back in May and miss my Big Sis already!!!! But I know it won't be long and I wish everyone a great New Year and happy stitching!!!!!!!