Tuesday, December 30, 2008

May I Have This Dance?

A happy dance, that is. Finally, after 3 long years, I have completed my Lizzie*Kate Flip-It Blocks!!!!! Without further ado, please, let me introduce to you...

...December...



...and the piece in its entirety minus a few cosmetic things like charms, a few stitches on the sides, and ironing.



I also need to decide if I want to stitch the border around it. Join me in celebrating my final finish of 2008.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday's Progress & Utter Failure of the Dallas Cowboys

I was able to get a lot of stitching time in yesterday, especially during that dismally embarrassing Cowboys loss. It all comes down to TEAMwork and they're not a cohesive team. Too many prima donas promoting self and not working together for the good of the TEAM. I am a die-hard fan, so I'll be cheering them on next year. It will be interesting to see what happens during the off season.

Now then, back to the topic of stitching! As I mentioned, I did get in a lot of stitching time on my December Flip-It block.

Here's where I started:



After Sunday's time on it:



I might be able to get it finished today!! If so, I'll work on my exchange piece. Then, on Thursday, I'll start my January 1st piece.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday Night Stitch Progress 12/27/08

Christmas is over and my life has returned to a more normal pace. Thank goodness!! I've been able to catch up on some sleep and I'm feeling a bit better. I felt good enough to stitch last night while my DH flipped back and forth from the rebroadcast of the Beijing Olympics' opening & closing ceremonies, the movie "The Longest Yard", and the movie about the 1980 USA gold-winning hockey team. Here's my progress on Lizzie*Kate's December Flip It block.

Before:



After:




I am so close to finishing, I think I'll work on it until it's done. Then, all I'll have to do is the border, which I can work on in upcoming SNS dates.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Happy birthday to Jesus, our Savior! What a wonderful gift his birth brought all those years ago in Bethlehem. Today is a day to reflect on God's gift of life and to spend in worship of Jesus, just as those at His birth worshipped Him.

Here at my house today, things will be very low-key. It's just me and my husband and we've decided not to do the big Christmas meal, but rather to spend the day relaxing. I have a roast going in the crock pot which will make my house smell like heaven. I'm also going to make a cherry pie for Mark. It's his favorite and I usually make it for his birthday and for Christmas. I'm not good at pie crusts, but I've got a new recipe to try, so wish me luck!! Other than fixin' the mashed taters later, I plan on restin', relaxin', and stitchin'. (Must be tired; my Texas accent is coming out!)

May your day be filled to the brim with God's love and the love of friends and family.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I've Been Busy, but Not Stitching Busy

This past week was the official Christmas baking week at my house. I love to bake, especially during the holidays. Since I don't have family over to enjoy these tasty treats, I pawn them off on the people at work. They don't seem to mind....

First off, we had Chocolate Chip cookies. Who doesn't like Chocolate Chips??? It's my all-time favorite cookie. I could eat the entire bowl of raw cookie dough (& not share ANY!!!), but I decided not to since I'd probably end up spending my entire night and the next day in the bathroom. My boss probably wouldn't appreciate that, so I was a good girl. Mostly anyway! LOL

We went from this heavenly creation...



to this...



and this...



and finally these!!



Oh my gosh! They were so absolutely delicious, especially just warm from the oven. I think I'm going to have to make some more!! LOL

Then, I made my annual batch of Crockpot Candy. This stuff is absolutely DIVINE and makes a boatload of candy. I didn't take pictures this year of all the candy just after dipping, but here's a pic from a couple of Christmases ago when we made it with my dad.



This is the tray I took to work yesterday for us to munch on throughout the day.



And a closer view, just to make you drool!! LOL



I still need to bake my annual batch of Peanut Butter Blossoms. I'll do that on Tuesday morning before I go to work then take them with me on Wednesday. It's a co-worker's birthday on Wednesday and these are her favorite cookies. I might also bake a cake, but I'm not sure what kind. On Christmas Day, I'm going to try my hand at a cherry pie for my husband. Wish me luck! I'm not very proficient at pie crust making.

Until next time!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

A friend and I have decided to do a January 1st stitch along (SAL) on LHN's "The Busy Needle", which is an exclusive chart available from The Busy Needle in Tucson, AZ.



All of the finishes I've seen of this have been on some variation of tan fabric, so I want to do it on something a bit different. After digging through my fabric stash (a chore, let me tell you!), these are my 2 finalists with a floss toss. Please excuse the brightness of the floss in the scans. It was the best I could do so late at night. You get the idea anyway.

First up, Blue Dynasty from Silkweaver.



Next, a Silkweaver Solo, grape-ish in color.



There are things I like about each. My main concern with the second fabric color is how well the Wild Berries thread will show up. (Wild Berries is the top floss color in each scan.) I will most likely do a test stitch of each color to see how it looks prior to making my final decision, but I have to be quick since January 1st is just around the corner!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's a Love-Hate Relationship

I have this love-hate relationship with the month of December. I love December because it's such a festive month, the weather turns cooler (usually), and it's Christmas. I hate December because I work retail, and we've been "doing" Christmas since the end of October. I'm so ready for it to be all over with! Because we're so busy at work, I come home at the end of the day too wiped out to do much of anything except veg on the couch. Many days, I don't even have enough "oomph" to pick up my needle. I really relish the days between Christmas and New Year's when the pace of life slows down and life returns to normal. Most years my Christmas spirit is zip, and this year is no exception.

December is also somewhat of a sad month for me. Twelve years ago yesterday (12/13/96), my mom passed away after a 4-month battle with lung cancer. Christmas was her absolute favorite time of the year. She saved up all of her vacation time at work and took it from the Monday before Thanksgiving until the Monday after New Year's Day. Her birthday was Dec. 30th, so we celebrated Christmas from Christmas day until Mom's birthday. For her birthday dinner, all the family would come over (even though we'd all been together 5 days before) and we'd have homemade chili and cheese enchiladas. Talk about yummy!! Our house never smelled as good as it did during the month of December. Mom's cookies and pies were to-die-for delish! I can't make a decent pie crust to save my soul, but I sure can bake like her! I haven't given up on the pie crust, either.

Yesterday, I took these Oreo Truffles to work for us to enjoy throughout the day. They were a pain to make, much more work required than making a plain ol' cookie, but they tasted wonderful. I haven't heard any reviews on them as I got off very early yesterday.



Today, I'm beginning my holiday baking. Up first is a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. These are my all-time favorites. I'm planning on mailing them to some of my family, but that depends on how many are left when mailing time comes around!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday Night Stitch Report

In between making the Gingersnap Pumpkin Caramel cheesecake last night for my work's Christmas party today, I managed to stitch on my Lizzie Kate December Flip-it Block project.

Before:



After:



Entire Piece:


I still think my absolute favorite block is the January block. I just love all the colors!

Off to have some leftover cheesecake!! Aren't you jealous??

Friday, December 05, 2008

Since It's Been Cold This Week...

...I decided to make beef stew for dinner. I have very fond memories of beef stew since my mom would make this often during the winter when I was growing up. She would let it simmer all afternoon and it smelled heavenly. I'm not as patient as my mom was and I had a starving husband to cook for after I got home from work, so I did the speedy stew method.

I actually prefer picking out the meat and potatoes, then eating them separately. I generally don't like to eat mixed veggies or my food all mixed up, not to mention that I'm not a big soup eater. (I also don't like hot drinks, except hot chocolate once it's cooled a bit and hot tea with lots of sugar in it when I'm sick.) Anyway, I like to mash my stew potatoes and smother them with lots of butter. Because I wouldn't eat my stew like a normal person, I'd have to fix myself some kind of veggie to go with my meat, taters, and cottage cheese. Fast forward to tonight's dinner of beef stew.



Doesn't that look good?? It was!! And I ate it out of the bowl! My mom would be so proud of me. LOL For the first time in my life, I ate my stew as it was meant to be eaten and it was really, really good! I'm still tempted to pick out the meat and potatoes, but I shall overcome that urge. When I asked my husband what he thought about it, he told me it needed a bit more pepper and maybe some okra (ick!). Don't get me wrong, I like okra, but not in my stew. I guess it was good; he ate 3 bowls of the stuff! :)

I don't have a "real" recipe, but I'll share how I made it tonight. This is what I used for just the 2 of us. If you have a larger family, use more of the beef & veggies.

Beef Stew
~~~~~~~~~
1 lb. lean stew meat
1-2 T vegetable oil
4 or 5 normal size potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
1/2 - 1 med. onion, cut into chunks
2 or 3 carrots (cooked separately-boiled until crisp tender then mixed in once stew was done)
Frozen Corn (however much you want, 1-2 cups)
Frozen Cut Green Beans (same as above)
1-3 ribs celery, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

Brown the meat in oil over medium heat in a large skillet or stew pot/dutch oven until no longer pink. If you want, brown the meat, onions, and garlic together. (I didn't do that this time, but I will next time.)
Add everything else (except the carrots) and mix together. If you didn't add the onions and garlic with your meat, add those now, too.
Season to taste.
Add enough water to cover.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Once boiling, tilt lid, reduce heat a bit and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 20 mins or so). Stir occasionally.

BTW, fork tender means that when you stick a fork in the potatoes it should go in easily and come out just as easily. If you have to stab the potato really hard, then it's not done. If you can't get your fork out, the potatoes aren't done either.

While the stew is cooking, slice carrots and place in a small pot. Cover with water and lid, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook until crisp tender, about 10 mins. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside. When the rest of the stew is done, (potatoes fork tender and it's thickened up a bit), drain the water from the carrots & stir them in the stew. Cooking the carrots separately will keep the carrots from turning into mush. (Mark doesn't like mushy carrots and I gotta keep the husband happy ya' know!)

Serve with crackers or your favorite bread. Whatever you do, enjoy it!!

Note: You can add whatever veggies you want. If you want a vegetable soup, omit the meat. If you like mushy carrots or you're lazy, just throw them in when you add the rest of the veggies to the meat. You can also add all kinds of different spices to liven it up. We're pretty plain folks, so we don't go "all out" with seasoning.

:o)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Who Wants Some?

Yesterday morning, I woke up craving brownies. Not just any out-of-the-box kind of brownies, but my own homemade, from scratch brownies. We just LOVE these and between me and my husband, we can eat the whole pan in a day. They're great for breakfast, morning snack time, lunch, an afternoon perk-me-up snack, dinner, and a before bedtime snack. So, quickly, before I left for work (I worked the later shift.), I whipped a pan of these delectable treats. Here they are, right out of the oven. (Please disregard the baked on dough on the sides of the pan. Really, who cooks neatly and tidy?)



Just before leaving for work, I cut them to take one to work & to snap a pic of...seriously! But since I had to snap a pic of it, I couldn't leave it on the plate and I definitely couldn't leave it out for the husband!!! So I just had to eat it. And it was absolutely yummy!!



Please note that the chocolate chips had not "set" yet when I took this picture. See them slightly melted???? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!! They were still just a tad warm and absolutely delish!!

Thanks for letting me share. We even have some left, but if you want some, get here quick because they'll be gone by the end of the day, I'm sure!

Oh! You want the recipe??? Of course you do! Just because I'm being nice today, here it is. It's actually one of those gift-in-a-jar recipes, so you can even whip up the mix and give it as a Christmas gift.


Sand Art Brownies

Contents of Jar (Brownie Mix)
1/3 cup cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup Holiday M&Ms (red & green)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/8 cup flour
½ cup chopped pecans
½ tsp. salt

Additional Ingredients Needed:
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Empty contents of jar and add vanilla, oil, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir until well blended. Pour into a greased 9 X 9 pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350ยบ.
Enjoy with a glass of cold milk!!

If using as a gift, mix cocoa and sugar, & salt together. Pour into glass jar. Layer each additional item. Attach recipe to the jar with a ribbon and you're good to go!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A New Start

On the way home from my dad's after Thanksgiving, I started the final block of my Lizzie*Kate Flip-it Blocks piece, December. It's about a 6-hour drive and I had about 2 hours of good light on the trip home. Once I get this block finished, I have to stitch the border, then it will be D-O-N-E!!



I've done a bit more since this (bad) pic was taken. I've completed the gingerbread man's body and have started working on the trim and heart.

Happy 3rd "Gotcha Day" to Hannah!

Three years ago, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my husband and I set off to "look" at kitties. I'd been bugging him for a couple of years to get a playmate for Callie, but we lived in a teeny-tiny 1 bedroom apartment (660 sq. ft.) and 2 kitties would've been 1 too many. When we moved into our house in April, 2005, we decided to wait and let Callie get settled in and then get a cat. Mark really wasn't sold on a new cat, but we went to look anyway. We'd already been to the Humane Society and we'd looked at kitties from local rescue groups when they were at the local pet stores, but no kitties really "grabbed" me. I had been perusing Petfinder.com for months whenever I needed a "kitty fix", and saw the cutest kitty at the local pound listed. Off we went on a very cool, windy afternoon to see if this particular kitty was still available for adoption. Of course it wasn't, but we looked at the kitties in the kitty room anyway, certain we wouldn't find a kitty to take home.

I'll never forget that visit. The kitty room was tiny and lined with cages on 3 walls, 3 high and about 5 or 6 cages across. There were teeny tiny kittens crying their heads off and reaching out through the bars. There were older cats cowering in the backs of their cages scared to death. It was really quite sad. We didn't really see any cats that we liked, and were turning to leave when I saw a kitty on the very bottom row of cages, sorta hidden behind the door, scarfing down some food. The poor thing was starving! The attendant took her out of her cage, and that was it for me. For $50.00, not to mention the large amount of money we'd spend on her in the coming weeks, we adopted a precious approximately 7 month old female cat that only weighed 4 lbs. She was microchipped before we left with her in a cardboard carrier provided by the shelter. (See, if we'd really planned on adopting a kitty, we'd have taken our own carrier!!)

Here's Hannah when we brought her home. With me, so you can see how small she was. You can also see the cardboard carrier we brought her home in!



In Mark's lap enjoying the lovin' and attention. She's still a Daddy's girl!



Here she is today, plump, happy, and sassy!





On a side note, we recently found out that Hannah's bacterial infection is caused by the pseudomonas bacteria. We've been researching it online and it doesn't look too good to be totally eradicated from her body. She's been on Zeniquin, an antibiotic, for a week already and has now started an additional 3-week round of it. We're waiting on a call from Dr. Bean to find out more specifically which pseudomonas bacteria is causing her problems and what the prognosis is. From what we've read, most of the pseudomonas bacteria is resistant to drugs in felines, so we might end up treating the symptoms only. We also don't know if it's contagious to our other cat and if she also needs to be on some kind of antibiotic. Being owned by this cat has been a huge educational experience for us.