Fun-ness

Recently I was reading a post by The Sampler Girl about some of her favorite things. Which reminded me that it's been ages since I've shared some of the fun things I've run across lately!

Check out this darling owl wristlet I got for Bean… she and I were in a little shop called Francesca's (my older girls' favorite place to shop), and when we spotted this, we knew it must be hers. (She loves owls.)

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Don't you love that stamped leather? I know it's not called "stamped" leather, but right now the correct word eludes me.

Here's the back:

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This is my very favorite kind of polish… Sally Hansen's Insta-Dry nail color. The square-round brush is the best I've ever used, and you can get about 4 1/2 nails polished with one dip in the bottle. It's very cool.

This particular color is "Lively Lilac." (And yes, it does dry almost instantly.)

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Sophie had a book fair at school this past week, and Sabrina asked me to pick her up a couple of these pens:

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She likes how people get freaked out when she does this:

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I could do this all day…

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I'm planning on doing a stitch-along with my mom soon; we'll be working on Scarlet Letter's Elizabeth Sheffield, and I've discovered a new kind of silks I'll be using on it. They're called Carrie's Creation silks, and they're just gorgeous! (I got mine at Reflections Framing – 402.331.1740.)

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(By the way, the linen is 40 ct. Meadow Rue by Lakeside Linens.)

Sometimes I like to peruse Etsy, in the hopes of getting myself in trouble. I love the smell of cloves, so when I stumbled on this lip color by The Epically Epic Soap Company, I knew I had to try some…

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It's actually a lip tint in "Red Clove." It does smell very mildly of clove, and it goes on very smoothly.

And that's it! No food this time! I'm going to have to remedy that, bc I do love food. (Especially Fruit Pastilles, which are from England and are always calling my name, even this far across the pond. I should write to Kate and Wills to see if they'll send me some.)

And now I must take my leave and get back to whatever it was I was doing before I sat down here.

Oh yeah…

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Easter

It was such a pretty day this past Sunday, and I'm never in more of a mood to bake than on a bright Sunday morning, when the house is quiet.

I decided on monkey bread, bc one of the most heavenly aromas in the world is warm yeast bread baking, and hot coffee brewing. And bacon.

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Just before it was time to shape the dough and set it in the oven, my littlest Easter chick came downstairs. (She's always the first one up on holidays.)

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She was very excited to receive a much-longed-for fragrance in her basket. It's called Carried Away, by Bath & Body Works.

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She smelled marvelous for church.

And Papa Bear looked marvelous for church.

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(She wasn't quite ready for the picture, as she wasn't zipped up yet, but she was gracious about it.)

Bre wasn't home to get in on the picture, but Mike snapped a photo of me and my two other sweet girls…

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Bre did make it home in time for this, however:

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I hope you had a lovely Easter Sunday!

If you'd like the recipe for the monkey bread I made (which originally came from Martha Stewart, but with my slight changes), here it is:

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EASTER MORNING MONKEY BREAD

FOR THE BREAD:

1/4 c. water
3 1/4 c. flour
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus a pinch for yeast
3/4 c. milk, warmed
2 T. shortening
1 pkg. yeast

1. Put the warm water and pinch of sugar in small bowl; sprinkle yeast over top. Stir; let the yeast soften and dissolve, about 5 minutes.

2. Place shortening, warm milk, sugar, salt, and egg in mixer bowl. Grease Bundt pan and a medium bowl.

3. Once yeast is dissolved and foamy, add it to mixer bowl; mix well. Slowly add flour. Knead by hand for 5 minutes or so. Place in the greased bowl; cover with plastic. Set dough in warm place and let rest 20 minutes.

FOR THE COATING:

1 stick butter, melted
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. light brown sugar

4. Put melted butter in a bowl. In another bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon.

5. Shape dough into 1/2" balls and then roll in butter and then brown sugar mixture. Place into prepared Bundt pan.

6. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise about 1 hour or until double in size.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes in pan.

8. Turn bread out of pan; cool 20 minutes on rack or plate.

FOR THE ICING:

2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. milk

9. Make icing: In a small bowl, stir milk into confectioners' sugar. Drizzle over bread.

Enjoy! And be sure to have a fresh pot of coffee to go with it. 🙂

Barbarian

It's been a while since Sophie has played with her Barbies, but tonight she had a hankering for her old friends, so with a little help from myself, all 42 tons of Barbie dolls, accessories, houses, and cars were brought up from the basement to be spread out on the floor.

After catching my breath, I settled into the other room for a little stitching and Dancing with the Stars.

And that's when I first heard her cry out, "No! Stop! It will never be yours!"

And then, "You'll never look as good in it as I do!"

Curious, I got off the couch and peeked into the Barbie room.

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"What's going on?" I asked.

"Kate Middleton has been kidnapped by three robbers named Cleopatria, Cicilia, and Cathedra."

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(That's Kate, bound to a bed while Cleopatria mocks her. She has stolen Kate's wedding dress and veil bc she is jealous of Kate, and wants it for her own wedding.)

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The next photo is of Cleopatria, looking up at the camera with maniacal laughter, overjoyed at Kate's misfortune…

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The Yorkie can't believe what she's seeing.

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Evil would-be bride Cleopatria (who recently played a salon customer at the hands of Sophie, Barber to the Stars) admires her reflection in a mirror…

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The Yorkie stood and stared for the entire production, in shock over her future Queen being treated so barbarically.

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Just when the nightmare was almost over, Cathedra stole the wedding gown from Cleopatria.

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I'm not sure how it ended, as I was worried I'd miss Maks on Dancing with the Stars. But I believe Kate and Wills' wedding will go on as planned, with Kate wearing her gown and veil as if no near-disaster had ever happened.

Don't worry, Yorkie. Cleo, Cicilia, and Cathedra won't be attending.

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Finishes!

I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of finishes from some very sweet ladies recently, and as usual, I'd love to share them here. :) 

This is from Nadine in France… she stitched Fruit of the Spirit on Antique Ivory Belfast, and I love how beautifully it turned out…

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Thank you so much, Nadine!

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And here is Bonnie's Favorite Font Sampler, which she made into a pinkeep by stitching it on 48 count linen…

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It's barely 5" x 2", and she used her own black walnut stain to dye it. I love how primitive it turned out!

Thank you so much to both Nadine and Bonnie for sharing your finishes with me. I'm blessed. 🙂

It's been a very busy spring so far in the Stewart house… each new day has been quite full, but I'm not complaining. It's that time of year when the stores are full of graduation gift ideas (yay, Sabrina!), there are bags of mulch to purchase at every gas station, and Bre starts slowly bringing her dorm things back in laundry baskets, ready to move back home for the summer. (Which I'm very excited about, btw.)

And amid all the bustle that is our house lately, the trees bloom quietly; their heady fragrance hangs in the air when the wind is still and the moon is out. And that's when the Yorkie decides to take a dump on my living room carpet just so I will toss her outside and she can enjoy the moonlit spring.

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A Spring Wedding

This past weekend I had the pleasure of being my Canon-sister Jaime's second-shooter (a backup shooter/assistant) for a lovely outdoor wedding. I'd never photographed a wedding before, but had always wanted to… and now I know why wedding photographers are so expensive. This was the most grueling experience ever. (In a good way, of course.)

For nine hours, Jaime and I lugged around about 20 pounds' (each) worth of camera gear and battled wind, clouds, extreme sunshine, and uncomfortable church shoes – all to capture the most beautiful moments of such an important day.

Did we succeed? I have no idea. We're both still in traction. But Lindsay and Creighton made such a sweet couple, and my favorite thing to see during the day was when she would relax and smile every time he put his arms around her. It was so romantic! 🙂

Here are some of my favorite images from the day…

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Her grandfather walked her down the aisle…

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Her flower girl, getting excited to empty her basket…

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Whatever did bored little boys do before there were gaming consoles?

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The groom's brother lost his rose, which was actually quite funny…

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It was very chilly outside, but the sun was at its brightest best (which made things extremely challenging to photograph)…

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Congratulations to you, Mr. and Mrs. Micek! And thank you, Jaime, for being a gracious first-shooter.

P.S. I have to post this last photo bc I found it quite funny; I told Lindsay to think about her wedding night, and this was the look she gave me… Rawr. 😉

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P.P.S. The very first photo I posted was taken immediately after this one; after I took it, she told me, "You wouldn't believe what he's whispering in my ear." Oh my! 😉

Somebody Help Me. Please.

Sabrina is not the most organized of my children.

Yesterday she was ordered to sort through every last article of clothing under her bed, in the closet, under the carpet, and on the ceiling fan. She decided that if she was going to be spending the next several hours doing as she was told, she was bringing her sister down with her. She bribed her with some very cool hand-me-downs (which I knew was just a tactic to keep from having to fold them and put them away), and to work they went.

On their way from Sabrina's room to Sophie's – and laden with Sophie's new second-hand duds – they belted out some sort of concert…

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I have no idea what song it was. I've repressed that memory.

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But clearly, Sabrina was passionate about it.

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I was hopeful that the show would soon be over, and they would get back to work…

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But the only thing Sabrina got back to was her concert.

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Which exhausted Sophie.

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(Truth be told, before the above photo was snapped, Sophie said to me, "Hey Mom, look. This is my dead look.") I worry for my children's mental health sometimes. I blame it on their father.

The singing eventually stopped, but the work never actually got started…

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Sophie got a face full of armpit.

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Which meant Sabrina would get a foot in return.

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And so the evening went on…

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And eventually, I just gave up and left.

I'll fight this battle another day.

 

French Fried.

For the past year Sophie has been lamenting that she has a "child's room." She's been wanting something more grown up, and something a little less pink. She wanted a French theme, and everything that goes along with it – the Eiffel Tower, French poodles, and anything that says "Paris" on it.

When you peruse the aisles of your local stores, you may notice that many American retailers' idea of a French theme generally means black-and-white, with a little pink thrown in. I doubt real French women decorate everything in black and white, but it seems to be a very popular idea around these parts. Just check your local Hobby Lobby store – there's a whole aisle dedicated to everything French/black-and-white/a little pink thrown in. And don't forget all the "Ooh-la-la!" signs.

As far as Sophie's new room idea went, I wasn't sure the Americanized French theme would work, bc she chose a bedspread full of colorful medallions, insisting it was the one bedspread in the world meant just for her. I told her I'd do what I could with it… (in the meantime, Mike was planning a super fun trip to Kansas City for spring break, and invited all of us to go. Sophie's request to me was this: "Mom, do you think you could stay behind and re-do my room and surprise me with it when we get back?" Sweet child.)(I actually granted her request, bc I thought the quiet time would be excellent for a project like this.)

You may remember that Sophie's room used to look like this:

I wasn't sure she was going to get more of a grown-up look, considering that very colorful new bedspread – full of bright medallions -  I was telling you about.. I kept thinking I'd need to decorate her room with lime green or orange accents and force her to completely abandon her ideas of a more Parisian-like theme. But the more I scoured the aisles, searching for ideas, the more I started realizing that I was getting tired of limiting myself to the colors of that crazy bedspread.

I had a cart full of things that certainly did NOT go together… everything from bright green feathers to dog cartoon posters. Then I spotted the most gorgeous black-and-white prints of 2 French models. (They had to be French, bc it said so on the back sticker. So there.) And then I decided what her theme would be (I knew she'd approve, of course):  Hodgepodge Couture! I'd ignore all the bright colors in that bedspread and go with her original idea of some black-and-white French-y accessories, and then add a little fashion in the mix!

This was her room halfway through the project… I was pretty hyped up on paint fumes and gensing tea, which made me able to move large furniture pieces in a single bound…

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The one thing I did have going for me was that Sophie chose WHITE as her paint color. White? What ten-year-old chooses white? (And may I say that I was more than thrilled, as I'm one of those who loves white walls?)

Here is one angle of her finished room, taken at night:

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Here's a little bit to the right of the bed…

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Don't all French women have black bejewelled candelabras stuck to their walls? (Lili, please say it's so! LOL)

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I don't know what's supposed to be French about this hook, but it was in the French aisle, so I bought it for her to hang her scarves on…

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And look at these awesome prints! I really did love these. They're from the March and April 1956 issues of Couture...

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I was going to take a close-up of the French model prints, but the glare from the glass was awful, no matter what time of day I tried. Trust me though, they're gorgeous! As all French women are. 🙂

There you have it: Sophie's new almost-Parisian, hodgepodge-couture, mixed-up but less-pink room.

And she loved it.

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Retreat!

Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the annual stitchers retreat hosted by the lovely ladies of Reflections Framing and Cross Stitch. What fun it was to meet so many new friends and to enjoy time with this group of ladies who genuinely love all things cross stitch. The venue was wonderful and the food was fantastic – and I even won a gorgeous eggplant-colored Namaste clutch as a door prize! Who knew walking through the door would be this much fun! 😉

Here is one of the lovely Reflections ladies, Julie, working on a sampler by Sampler Cove… her stitching is superb, and her eyes are very blue. Those two things don't really go together, but I just had to mention her blue eyes. 🙂

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Here is something that Patty was working on… it's the entire alphabet by Prairie Schooler, all on one 40-ct piece of linen. This is the bottom half.. the top is folded under. To die for, Patty! Seriously!

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Praire Schooler has the coolest designs, don't you think? Here are some close-ups of Patty's masterpiece…

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I think the fox is my favorite!

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And another stunning sampler, this time from The Sampler Company, tent stitched over one thread by Merry…

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It's just gorgeous, Merry! Merry has a twin, btw, named Merrilyn. I really hope I gave the correct sister credit regarding this sampler! 🙂

Sweet Sandy and her mom Jane (who offered to teach me how to knit) gave me these dish cloths, since I love love love them and can't can't can't make my own…

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There is actually another one in the bunch, but it's currently draped on my kitchen sink, drying out. Once you go knit, you never go back, btw. Thank you SO MUCH, Sandy and Jane!

I designed an exclusive pattern for the retreat to go with the weekend's theme, which was A Stitcher's Recipe for Friendship. Julie stitched it up and her husband created the gorgeous pedestal for its finish, and I can't get over what a fantastic job they both did!

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Each lady attending the retreat received the pattern kit, as well as a pedestal and all the materials needed to finish it. Here is the darling box the kit came in, courtesy of Julie (who spent many long hours getting these to look just right)…

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Before I left that day, I had the honor of being asked to draw the winning ticket for the raffle of a pair of plaid Sajou scissors worth $100. (I could barely draw the ticket for all the drooling I was doing over them!) A special lady (and first-time retreater) by the name of Abbie won them, and I'm so happy she did: earlier in the day, she had quietly asked for each attendee's mailing address bc she wanted to mail each person a custom beaded scissors fob as a token of friendship. Congratulations, Abbie, on a prize well-deserved!

I truly hope you'll be able to join next year's retreat. Maryann (and Maryann's significant other), Connie, and Julie are the most gracious and energetic hostesses you'll ever meet. Thank you so much, ladies, for a wonderful day of stitching (stop laughing, Julie – I got at least a dozen x's in!), food, and lots of new friendships!

Online Needlework Show

As you may know, The Needlework Show is headed to a computer near you on April 14th. I have two releases for this show…

Here is Favorite Spot Sampler

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I got the inspiration for this from the "My Favorite Things" song from The Sound of Music, in case the verse looks familiar. On the sampler you'll spot things like "girls in white dresses" (okay, just one girl!), "brown paper packages tied up with string," snowflakes (no eyelashes though), and the obvious – copper kettles and mittens. 😉 I've also add a couple of my own favorite things, like the deer and pines.

This sampler was stitched on 36 count Vintage Lentil by Lakeside Linens, and the stitch count is 189 x 133. The threads are by The Gentle Art…

Old Red Paint
Cornhusk
Brethren Blue
Forest Glade
Lamsbwool
Old Hickory
Dried Thyme
Espresso Bean
Gingersnap
Oatmeal

(DMC color conversion is 221, 732, 924, 935, 950, 3045, 3051, 3371, 3826, and Ecru.)

And here is Favorite Font Sampler

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I love fonts. And in case you haven't heard of this verse before, it's what was (and sometimes still is) used to teach typing. According to Wikipedia, the verse was first used in the Michigan School Moderator in 1885 as a suggestion for writing practice, as it contains every letter of the alphabet.

By the way, the Xacto knife and words in the dish in the background was something I did bc while I was arranging the photograph, I was reminded of my days as my high school newspaper's editor, when we had to cut copy with Xacto knives and make sure our picas were perfect. 😉 (Back then, a pica was 10 letters to the inch… now I prefer in 36 threads to the inch. Ha.)

Favorite Font Sampler was stitched on 36 count Vintage Examplar by Lakeside Linens, and the stitch count is 132 x 77. The threads used are by Needlepoint Inc. in 904, 954, and 245. (DMC conversion is 167, 611, 3011.)

I hope you like these latest releases.. and I hope your day today is one of your favorites! 😉

ETA: The Favorite Font Sampler pillow was tea-bag-and-coffee dyed after it was completely finished. The dark spots are from instant coffee granules being smeared onto the wet fabric.

What Lurks

Yesterday I posted on my Facebook page that I had a dream about zombies, and kept sending Sophie out of the room to check on the status of the house – how much they'd damaged the outside. In the end, Martin Sheen and I boarded up the windows.

Today I stumbled across this little doo-dad I made years ago. It was stuffed in the taxes drawer, which could be an omen, but I've decided not to dwell on it.

I really don't know what zombies and doo-dads have to do with each other, besides the fact that both of these particular areas in my brain are rather spooky.

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A resting place for pins… which my mother would consider appropriate, considering how much quilting I'm not getting done.

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With doo-dads like this, it's no wonder I dream about zombies.