Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Hi! I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween ^____^

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween mishaps!!

What a night!! I got my Halloween goodies baked....except for the sugar cookies (I didn't have time!!). Then all sorts of mishaps occurred while trying to assemble everything!!

I baked my brownies in a 13 x 9 inch pan with the intention of cutting them into various Halloween shapes with some cookie cutters I bought from Target. Turns out they were too big and I only got 10 brownies out of that pan!!!! And of course, I didn't have another box of brownie mix!! O_o"

A few are stacked on top of one another! Aren't they cute, though? Despite my big cookie cutter mishap!

I was ever so thankful that I still had my cupcakes to decorate since the box said it would make 24 cupcakes if 2/3 full....LOL so I got 22 :)

Adorable little spider toothpick decorations!!!

Very cute, don't you think? Yes, I thought so too until I tried to put the top tray over the bottom one on my Chefmate cupcake carrier and they got in the way!!!

My spider-less cupcakes :*(

I bought the Chefmate cupcake carrier earlier this evening at Target because I had nothing to carry them in and I was getting tired of the old plate covered with foil method!!! I like my carrier, but I wish it had more head room.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a fun time getting ready for Halloween tomorrow :)

Happy Stitching/Baking :)

Halloween :)

Tomorrow's Halloween!!! Woohoo :)

Tonight I will be busy baking up a storm. As I mentioned earlier, my sister and her friend are hosting a Halloween party so I'm baking some yummies for it :) It will be a hectic night with cupcakes, sugar cookies, and brownies to make. Jeez!! LOL This is when I need a kitchen like Paula Deen's with two ovens!!!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!!! Happy stitching :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Elements update, 50% finished!!

I promised you I would get my Eau block finished by today!! I just stitched the last rows of the the water carrier :)

Sorry about the dark bit on the linen! I had a damp cloth over it while I was ironing it and it hasn't dried yet ^-^"

Close-up of the Eau block!

I think tomorrow I will start the Feu block :) I'm feeling optimistic about possibly finishing this sampler by the end of the year! I just have to keep working on it. I love stitching on the small designs, the larger ones bog me down a bit! It's all good though :)

In other news, I found a neat Jane Austen blog, which is a sister site to Jane Austen's World. The same author writes another blog called Jane Austen Today! I just happened to see it on her sidebar today! I'm so clueless sometimes. I read her blog and didn't notice the sidebar extras?!? Jeez! I can't wait to read through her sister blog. It discusses movie versions of Austen's books and contemporary authors who have started an 'Austen' revolution by writing 'sequels' to the original books and characters. It is quite neat!

Happy Stitching everyone :)

P.S. Yes, Yuko! The Bienvenue design would make a lovely baby gift!! It's a cute design! I stitched it because I love bunnies ^___^

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A welcome from two generations :)

I just remembered yesterday that I promised to take a picture of my aunt's 'Welcome' sign in my grandmother's foyer! I'm so forgetful sometimes O_o"

So pretty!!

My aunt cross stitched this welcome sign in the 1980s, possibly earlier. I quite like it, especially the fabric border! My modern version of a welcome sign is Bienvenue and the French bunnies :) I haven't decided how to frame my stitched piece yet :*(

Who would have thought that as a child I would wander pass the welcome sign for years and later take up cross stitching as an adult?!?!

In other news, I went by our local Fresh Market and instantly met a temptation in the form of gingerbread goodness!!

They were right by the checkout lanes too!!!

These yummy chocolate covered gingerbread cookies come out during the fall....and I can never resist them!! (Sigh)

Happy stitching everyone! Hopefully I can get my Eau block finished on the Elements sampler and have some pics tomorrow :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Long live the Fall season :)

A nip in the air, leaves changing colors, pumpkin patches, and Halloween bliss!! I never want the Fall to end!

But it's Fall?!

Don't you just wish retail stores wouldn't rush us into the next holiday before the last one is finished?! I realize that Halloween is next week, but my local stores have already started to put Christmas items out for sale?!

(Sigh) It makes me miss England. You weren't rushed into a holiday. Halloween wasn't a big deal; a small section of candy at Tesco and a few costumes at Woolworth's, but otherwise it wasn't the big retail opportunity that the U.S. makes it out to be. Christmas, however, was a big deal in the stores, but you didn't have the rush of customers like in the U.S. Maybe it had something to do with living in a small town like Egham where you just had the High Street shops. The only time I saw people frantically out buying presents was in the nearby town of Staines at their outdoor shopping mall or in London if I dared to brave the crowds of Oxford Street!! (Believe me, it isn't a good idea during the holiday season!!)

Despite my complaints about seeing Christmas displays up before Thanksgiving has come and gone, I look forward every holiday to magazines that have recipes or gift ideas for that season's holiday.

I bought these two magazines recently while I was at my local bookstore and Target. For some reason, I can't resist Martha Stewart special edition magazines during the holidays! They draw me to the magazine section every time even if I'm a couple of feet away...I see Martha Stewart goodness on the cover and I pick one up!!

The magazine Victoria started up either late last year or earlier this year, I don't remember, but I do like to flick through the magazine when it comes out to see if they have any good ideas! I bought this issue of Victoria because it had some nice cookie recipes in the back :) Every year, my family bakes a whole bunch of different cookies and other yummies and pack them in Christmas tins. We send them out to our relatives in Michigan. Needless to say, we are always on the hunt for new cookie recipes to try ^___^

So in my denial of the changing holidays, I bought brownie mix, sugar cookie dough, and cupcake mix today so I can bake goodies for my sister and her friend's Halloween party on Friday!!! Take that evil retailers!!! Mwahahaha!!! ^___^

Have a great weekend!

Antiques yet again!

It's that time of the month again for the antique show at our local Shriner's temple and you know I would be there in search of more brooches!!

I was actually quite good this time. I only bought a few brooches from one of my favorite vendors since she had a booth set up this month. Only 2 brooches for myself, one for my aunt, and another is a Christmas present :)

Adorable, don't you think? I've been on the hunt for a cute dog pin as a Christmas gift, but hadn't seen any that caught my eye. I found this one today at the antique show. He has a little frown on his face and patches of mud on his fur. He reminds me of our dog, Sam, who is a crazy chocolate lab puppy! He loves to dig and get dirty after we have given him a bath?! I absolutely love this pin!! Hopefully, the recipient thinks so as well ^-^"

When I purchased this brooch from the vendor she said it was one of her favorite finds. I told her that I had been eyeing it since the August show, but didn't buy it at the time. I promised myself if it was still available I would purchase it :) It is an older brooch with a Oriental dragon above a purple stone. The brooch has a C-clasp. I will not say that the pin is Victorian in date, but most likely a turn of the century brooch.

Cross-stitch stick pins?!?!?!?! WOW!!!!

I know all my fellow cross stitching readers will like these pins. The vendor had about three plastic tubs full of brooches that she didn't have out on display. I asked if I could rummage through them and found these two pins!!

A close-up of the yellow flower design. I want to say that both pins are stitched on 18 ct Aida fabric over one, but I'm still learning the look of various count fabrics so I'm not entirely sure! If anyone can tell me by looking, I would love to know what count the fabric is!! I would have never thought that cross stitch could be used as jewelry pieces. Just goes to show that you learn new things everyday ^__^

Another close-up, this time of the red flower with petals. Unlike the yellow flower pin, this one seems to have some browning on the fabric, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase these unique pins. It was only $10 for the pair. As soon as I got home, I went over to my aunt's house and showed them to her. I let her pick one for herself since she loves to craft as much as I do. She picked the yellow flower pin :)

In other news, I have a wedding to attend this afternoon. One of my aunt's friends from work is getting married so we are driving across the bay to attend. It should be lovely considering we have beautiful blue skies for the first time in a couple of days. My aunt's friend is a crafter as well. Whenever I go to visit my aunt at her workplace, this lady will be either knitting, crocheting, beading, or cross-stitching. I only wish I could be as talented!

Happy stitching!! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

P.S. Many hugs and love going out to my blog friend Yuko!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

North and South

North and South is perhaps one of my all-time favorite historical period dramas produced by BBC films. Oddly enough, the film came to my attention while I was in England. I was bored one night and ran across a video on Youtube, which featured clips of North and South with John Groban’s song ‘Remember When It Rained’ playing in the background. I had to wait half a year until I returned to the U.S. to see the film. I received the dvd as present for Christmas from my mom, who despite her half-hearted complaints, loves period drama films as much as I do.

The story follows the lives of Margaret Hale (one of the novel’s protagonists) and her family as they move from their small southern town in Helstone to the industrial city of Milton in northern England. Her father resigns from his duties as a clergyman because of lingering doubts with himself and the church. His decision to uproot his family and move to the entirely different city of Milton was motivated partly by his friend’s opinions of the city and the fact that Mr. Hale could seek employment as a tutor to wealthy, working class men who wanted to continue with their education.

Whilst there, the Hales have to come to terms with the fact that life in Milton is drastically different from what they had seen in Helstone. While the sorrows of the working class in Helstone were mainly concerned with farming and the land, Milton’s working class dealt with different issues and their working conditions, arguably, were even worse. The lower classes took up various types of employment in the city’s main industry, cotton mills. The hours were long and the wages had been frozen for a couple of years due to the costs of running the mills. The work itself could be potentially dangerous depending on what area of the mill you were assigned to work in. Everyone took a terrible risk by working in the mills because of the ‘fluff,’ i.e. strands of cotton that flew up in the air from the looms and wheels. When ingested, the fluff would settle on the lungs and cause the person to have fits of coughing and difficulty breathing.

Margaret Hale befriends several members of the working class including Bessy Higgins and her father. Bessy had worked in the mills since she was a child and contracted the illness attributed to swallowing fluff. Her father works hard to support his two daughters since their mother had passed away.

Mr. Hale and his family, while appalled by the poverty around them, try their best to provide food and money to poor families in the community when they can afford to do so. In order to provide for his own family, Mr. Hale tutors men in the city who wish to continue their education after having to give up their studies to pursue careers as ‘masters’ or owners of the mills. Mr. Hale is introduced to Mr. John Thornton, the master of Millborough Mills and the novel’s second protagonist, by their mutual friend, Mr. Bell.

Despite the differences in upbringing, temperament, opinions, and social standing, Margaret and Mr. Thornton begin to fall in love and eventually through many obstacles acknowledge one another’s feelings.

After watching the film version with Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage playing the lead characters, I immediately ran to my local bookstore to purchase the book version by Elizabeth Gaskell only to find that no one had the book in stock. As typical of classics, you either find them with ease because high schools or colleges are reading them or not at all because bookstores (sadly) do not carry every classic title in their inventory.

I checked by local libraries including my university’s library and no one seemed to have the book. I did find some of Gaskell’s other books like Mary Barton, Cranford, and Wives and Daughters, but not the one book I was hoping to read! In the end I ordered my copy from Amazon and set out to read it when it finally came in the mail. Of course, I got sidetracked with life’s everyday issues and didn’t get back to the book until a month later, but at least I finished reading it eventually!

I found the endings to the film and the book to be perfect. While noticeably the film version ending showed the physical side of the characters’ passion more so than the book, it still captured the idea that they still had more to overcome to be together, especially with their families. The end of the book while giving a satisfactory ending to the main character’s romance also described the two families’ doubts of a marriage between two people of very different social classes:

‘ – but what will she say?’
‘I can guess. Her first exclamation will be, “That man!”’
‘Hush!’ said Margaret, ‘or I shall try and show you your’s mothers indignant tones as she says, “That woman!”’
North and South
, Oxford World Classic edition, p. 436

My favorite lines:

From the book:

Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!’
‘Not good enough! Don’t mock my own deep feelings of unworthiness.
’ p. 436

(Mr. Thornton shows Margaret some roses he picked from Helstone)
I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.

From the film:

Margaret: “I believe I’ve seen hell and it’s white, snow white.”

I felt this was a poignant statement on the working conditions of factories during the Victorian period. While the factories provided citizens with the opportunity to gain employment and wages to provide for their families, it came with a heavy price of long hours, sometimes low wages, and dangerous working conditions.
Overall, the film version follows the original book quite well. I highly recommend the book to anyone who loves a good classic with social tensions between the classes and a bit of romance. If you’ve read North and South, you would probably like another Victorian classic in the same vein, David Copperfield (yet another one of my faves)!! It calls for a future post so I will not ramble about it this time!

Happy reading or stitching!!

P.S. Thanks, Snowbird, for the spell check :) I don't always catch my mistakes ^___^

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Elements update

I've been working this week on my WIP Elements sampler since I've finished with the French bunny pattern.

Once I finish the lady with the white pitcher, I'll be finished with the Eau section of this sampler and 50% done. I think I will start the Fire section of the sampler next :)

Happy Stitching!

Ah, the British

A couple of days after I finished reading Dewey I made another stop at Barnes and Noble and picked up a book that I thought might be interesting called The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall.

At certain points in the book I was laughing hysterically at some tidbit that I had experienced firsthand during my year in England, I recommend the book to those individuals who have already been to England and just want to enjoy some of the sillier aspects of the British.

Just a few odd things I learned from her book about the British:

1) The members of Parliament amble on about anything that crosses their minds, including discussions on whether aliens exist, their involvement in our planet, and if they are coming back any time soon.
2) Apparently a great many people are drunk in England and like to travel abroad because the beer is cheaper hence the need for the British Embassies to rescue British travelers, i.e. ‘Distressed British Nationals.’
3) The British show false modesty all the time even if they have just won the Nobel Prize for the second time.

While I am sure that America’s government has never had a debate on the existence of aliens, I would say that perhaps our Congressmen/women and Senators would love to have one just to break the monotony of the workday!

America has its share of excessive drinkers though I do not know if our Embassies are nice enough to send rescue parties!!

I will disagree with Lyall’s statement about British modesty being false modesty. I do agree, however, that their modesty comes from upbringing. The idea that Americans are up in your face about their achievements may be true in some people’s cases, but I have to say, on the whole, that we are just as modesty as the British. It all comes down to how you were raised. My sister and I were not raised to brag about our achievements. I cringe at having to talk about my education and experience when asked about them; I downplay them because I feel they are not as high as others. To my family, my achievements might be the ‘greatest thing next to sliced bread,’ but to me, they were just things I wanted to do in my life. I think the British are the same way in doing they own thing in life, LOL and if they want to be modesty about it then let them be.

Overall I think Lyall’s book was a good read, especially if you’ve been to England and have experienced some of the crazier aspects of British life like waiting for a train to move after the conductor apologizes for the delay because of ‘branches falling on the tracks from every which way.’ Or reading a newspaper over a man’s shoulder and suddenly being confronted with a topless woman because apparently nudity is not such a big deal to the British unlike their American cousins who are considered prudes (They should blame it on the Puritans!)!

(sigh) It makes me miss England, LOL not the crazy newspapers, just the culture. It is hard to explain, but for me, the country was a retreat away from the fast-paced world of the U.S. I realize that such a notion is bizarre considering that both countries are relatively on par with one another in the world’s economy, etc., but life just seemed slower and somehow beautifully simplistic compared to my life in the U.S.

The town of Egham, smaller than my own hometown, was one of the nicest places I have had the pleasure of staying in. The locals were friendly despite their town being run over by students from Royal Holloway.

View of Egham during the annual Magna Carta day

So to end this rambling post: If you haven't visited England yet, you will like this book with its generalizations on British culture, and if you have been amongst the British, you'll like it for its funny insider look into the British psyche.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Best of Both Worlds

My sister and I were at our local Barnes and Noble a week ago in search of something new to read (as if we didn’t have a dozen books at home to read!). I was searching the craft section for any new cross-stitch books. To be honest, I always have more luck in the cross-stitch magazine section for something new than the craft book section. The bookstores in town rarely get anything of note in the realm of cross-stitch. If, by chance, they get a new book in stock, it is usually a beginner’s technique book. Of course, that is not a bad thing per se, but I would love a bookstore that had just as many cross-stitch books as say knitting or croquet books!

After wandering away from the sad state of affairs that is the cross-stitch/embroidery shelf of the craft section, my sister comes flying around one of the shelves in search of me. “You must read this!” I glance down to see what book she’s holding and I see an adorable orange kitten staring up at me. I didn’t grab the book from her hands until she said, “He’s a library cat.” LOL I was sold from the moment on; you can pass up cats and libraries in the same sentence, can you?

I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World in the space of two days. It is a heartwarming story of a kitten that had been shoved into a return book bin at the public library in Spencer, Iowa and consequently rescued and raised by the library staff. The librarians named the little orange ball of fluff, Dewey Readmore Books. The book tells the story of how the cat won the hearts of the library’s patrons and in the end, the whole town of Spencer.

If you love cats and libraries as much as I do, you’ll pick up a copy of Dewey at your local bookstore or you might even try to see if your local library has a copy yet!

The Duchess

Well, I finally got to see The Duchess in theaters. I was quite surprised to see that the movie theaters in town actually got this film. There are many movies that we miss every year due to the disinterest of our local theaters. I will not claim to know what criteria the theaters use to gauge their audience’s interests, but apparently, Mobile’s interests lie in the blockbuster films.

I am not sure if The Duchess would be considered a ‘blockbuster’ in Mobile just by the sheer numbers in attendance. I was the first person in the theater for the movie and gradually….perhaps what you would call a snail’s pace, people started to show up for the movie. In the end, only twenty (including myself) people showed up! A young couple and I were the minority, i.e. under 60 crowd.

Judging from the reaction of the young couple, neither of them had read the biography and clearly, the girlfriend dragged her boyfriend against his will. My bookish heart hoped that at least the other 17 older individuals in the theater had read the biography like myself and were anticipating the film version of Georgiana’s life. How would the director/producers portray Amanda Foreman’s biography? Would they focus on Georgiana’s political involvement during the late 1700s? On the other hand, would they focus on her role in influencing the fashion of England? Or perhaps take the typical view of Hollywood and choose Georgiana’s gambling debts and rumors of her lesbianism to portray as her life’s main points and completely bypass her involvement in politics?

Instead of focusing on just one of those elements, they chose to portray all those points in some form during the course of the film. The director/producers main element was the love affair between Georgiana and Charles Grey. An element that I wouldn’t have chose to portray if it was my film to produce. While surely, the love affair between Georgiana and Charles was a great episode in her life, she wasn’t known only as Charles Grey’s lover, but an influential force in the world of the ton and politics.

Hopefully, I am not wrong on this point, but I think the author’s point in writing a biography on ‘yet another member of the upper classes’ in England was because Georgiana wasn’t just ‘another member’ of her class. She transcended her gender and class’ expectations for that time period. In truth, she wasn’t the only woman during that time to participate in politics, but she was by far the most successful of her contemporaries.

The influence of aristocratic women in politics would not be duplicated again until the 20th century. Women during the 19th century had little involvement in politics due to the attitudes of their male contemporaries. They considered a woman’s role in society to be that of the home and family. Georgiana and her contemporaries would have been a cautionary tale that politicians of the 19th century spoke of in hushed voices.

Despite the film’s producers taking the road of drama/romance with Amanda Foreman’s biography, I could enjoy the film as a stand-alone period piece (once I stopped checking the film against the biography in my mind!) with endless amounts of eye-candy in the form of gorgeous dresses, outrageous hairstyles, and historical settings!

Every art historian should see the film in order to see the costume designer’s reproduction of the Gainsborough hat. After seeing Georgiana’s portrait at Gainsborough, women flocked to their nearest millinery, desperate for what they called the ‘picture hat.’ Likewise, every historian should see the film for something I thought was priceless: the Duchess of Devonshire and Charles Grey lying in bed, reading a newspaper in Bath and commenting on the illustrations that were mocking Georgiana’s role in politics!

What can I say about the historical settings besides beautiful? One of the Duke of Devonshire’s residences was a magnificent estate called Chatsworth in Derbyshire; it is shown in the film. Just the word ‘Chatsworth’ makes me giddy. One of my local museums in town had an exhibition on Chatsworth and its collection of artifacts. It was breathtaking; I saw it twice!

While I was in England, I did not have a chance to visit Chatsworth. I was taking courses at the time and a weekend trip to Chatsworth was a bit of a hassle with finding a good time to take a train from Egham to London and then on to Chatsworth. While you could probably see all of it in a day once you arrive (assuming you’ve spent the insane amount of money on an early train to get there), it makes more sense to stay a day or two in order to really take in the experience of the estate and the town. Needless to say, I promised myself that when I go back to England in the future I would make arrangements to stay in Chatsworth for a couple of days.

With its vast amounts of historical eye-candy, is The Duchess worthy as a period drama? Can you watch the film without having read the biography? Yes, to both questions. I am rarely disappointed by the creative team at BBC films. If you like your period dramas with star-crossed lovers, an evil tyrannical husband, massive amounts of historical eye-candy, and a not so-conventional ending you have come to the right theater for a movie!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lovely Halloween invitations

This year my sister and her friend have decided to host a costume party for Halloween. Everyone has ransacked their local stores in search of costume ideas. My sister has ordered hers and is impatiently waiting for it to arrive in the mail. I ordered a hoop skirt and Marie Antoinette wig and they have already arrive through the mail. I decided to 'recycle' a costume that I wore a couple of years ago to the first Halloween party my sister and her friend hosted.

It is a colonial dress made of pale blue satine fabric and creme-colored lace. My sister and I pestered our aunt to make our Halloween costumes that year and I chose a pattern from Simplicity's historical patterns. My sister chose Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I will have to take a picture of the dress! I wish I knew someone who owned a dress-form. It would be great to show off the dress. One year I was hoping to get my aunt one for Christmas, but they are extremely expensive. I think it would be more economical to buy an antique dress-form instead of the modern expensive ones! O_o"

My sister and her friend have been planning their Halloween party for two months now! They have bought decorations for the party and a few to adore the front yard. My sister and I have helped with the budget by helping to buy some of the candy for the trick-or-treaters that will show on Halloween :)

In addition to the decorations, they have outdone themselves on the invitations for the party. Everyone invited has a mask invitation.

This is my invitation for the party! Isn't it gorgeous? I love it.

Another interesting creation! This mask is an invitation for the anime club I belong to. Yes, I will admit that I belong to 'anime club.'

What is an anime club, you ask? Well, a friend of mine hosts an anime night every Friday and we meet and watch an anime series or a live-action series and continue every Friday until we finish a series. The girl who hosts these anime nights lived in Japan for three years while she worked for a branch of an American bank in Tokyo.

I hope everyone likes the invitation masks! I can't wait for Halloween. I'll have more pics of the decorations and the costumes!

Have a great week! Happy Stitching!

'Bienvenue' finish!!

Despite being sick with a sinus cold, most likely due to the change in the weather, I was able to finish my French bunny pattern this afternoon :)

Design: Anne Sohier-Fournel, 'Bienvenue!'
Thread: DMC B5200, 160, and 800
Fabric: 32ct Wichelt-Permin lambswool
Finished: a week! O_o"

Somehow I cut my fabric too small even though I put the count of stitches in a cross stitch calculator and got 12 x 12.....hmm....I think I forgot to add the border as part of the count!! LOL Only because this pattern was on another page of the book without a border! Yikes!! Oh, well! I like it without the border :)

What will I work on after this? I'm thinking of going back to my Elements project. Maybe I can get it finished before the year ends. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Happy Stitching!!

P.S. Yuko, the ISBN for that cross stitch book is 978-4-7661-1853-7. Maybe you can order it from your local bookseller since you have a ISBN for it :)

Friday, October 17, 2008


Who would have thought that Fall could be yummy? Well, for lovers of the Fall season, we definitely try to make it yummy whether it be with sweet or savory dishes that our families associate with the season!

I told you that Fall could be yummy ;)

These gooey cupcakes are called Caramel Apple cupcakes. I found the recipe a couple of years ago when I was an undergrad. I made them for our anthropology club's annual Fall bake sale. LOL My poor family; I only let them have one cupcake a person so I wouldn't run out of them for the bake sale. My sister said it was evil!! ^___^

I promised her that I would make some more later. I never got around to it until she pestered me this year to make them since we were being assaulted by all the packages of caramel squares and other Fall-related goodies! I finally got to make these beauties last Saturday after I was lucky enough to find the recipe online again!! Thanks to the suggestion of my aunt who diligently named off a half a dozen recipe websites I could search ;)

Caramel Apple Cupcakes


TIME: Prep: 25 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling

Yield: 1 dozen

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) spice cake mix or 1 pacakge (18 ounces) carrot cake mix
2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
20 caramels
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
12 Popsicle sticks

Prepare cake batter according to package directions; fold in apples.

Fill 12 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle with pecans. Insert a wooden stick into the center of each cupcake.

* * *

The title is linked to the website where I found the recipe for these delicious cupcakes. I used spice cake, but you can use carrot cake if you prefer. I like both, but I went with the spice cake again because I used it before :)

No, I haven't tried the stick method....I thought it might be too messy! I was already getting sticky with spreading the caramel sauce! O_o" It was worth it in the end though!

LOL One thing I learned while making these cupcakes, I really need an apple peeler....I have to be the worst peeler in the world. Believe me when I say that it isn't a pretty sight. I'm a danger to myself and anyone within the vicinity of the kitchen when I try to peel apples or anything other vegetable/fruit. Sad, but true!

Have a great Friday :) Happy Stitching!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

French bunnies

Hi, everyone! I apologize for not writing on my blog as often as I should! I have so much to talk about, but haven't had the time to sit down and blog :(

Just a quick post for tonight to show you my progress on a new design I picked out from one of the Japanese cross stitch books that I purchased earlier!

The design I chose comes from this book entitled Mots doux au point de croix. I didn't realize when I purchased the book that it was originally in French to begin with before being translated into Japanese! Silly me :)

Design: Anne Sohier-Fournel, 'Bienvenue!'
Thread: DMC B5200, 160, and 800
Fabric: 32ct Wichelt-Permin lambswool
Finished: nearly :)

As a first time user of Wichelt linen, I must say that I'm not a fan. I realize that it is considered a good quality brand, but I think I've been spoiled by using Zweigart....especially the 32ct linen olive green linen I've been stitching my Elements pattern on.....which I absolutely love :)

Perhaps, I shouldn't judge to harshly. I've noticed a difference in the linen I buy from my local craft store and my LNS. Even the Zweigart I buy pre-packaged from Hobby Lobby seems to be of a different quality compared to the fabric I've bought at my LNS. LOL Maybe I'm hallucinating!

What do you think of the design? Two bunnies playing jump rope with a lamb! I thought it would be cute to hang in the foyer of our house! Which reminds me, I must take a photo of a cross stitch 'Welcome' design that my aunt stitched years ago. I love it! It definitely adds a nice touch when you walk into our foyer.

I still have some more to finish on this design. The border around the edge and the words 'bienvenue' above the bunnies and lamb. Hopefully, I can get to it this weekend and have a finishing photo for you.

I quite like the designs featured in this French cross stitch book. Once I get finished with this design, I hope to work some more on my Elements pattern. I've neglected my cross stitch for a couple of weeks now except for occasionally stitching on the bunnies design. I promise to do better in the future :)

Happy Stitching!!

P.S. Today is my uncle's b-day!! Happy B-day!!! Love ya!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Election soapbox

A Message from a member of the so-called non-voting age group in the United States

(sigh) Ok, so I'm driving down Airport Blvd this morning after dropping off brochures for some exhibitions that are opening soon at one of my local museums when suddenly I see 10 or 12 people standing around on the medians waving "Vote McCain" signs!

I usually wouldn't rant about something like this, but here I go! First of all, it's dangerous to have people waving signs anywhere on Airport Blvd. Natives of Mobile know how crazy drivers can get on Airport Blvd. With drivers going over or under the speed limit and the millions of stoplights on the street, people waving signs in the middle of the street aren't the best about a distraction in the worse way because even I kept glancing over to read the signs.

Second, why McCain?! I'm not going to rant against either party in this post, but I would have rather seen signs telling people to register to vote than one party promoting itself.

So my soapbox message of the day is: Keep your party signs away from the main streets of Mobile just for the sheer fact that they are a bad distraction. I'd rather not get in an accident because the person in front of me is slowing down to read the signs and I wasn't paying attention either!!!

Secondly, please, please register to vote. I don't care who you vote for in this election or any of your state/city elections. Just get out there and register. It doesn't cost a thing to register!! There are plenty of places to register to vote in Mobile such as the local library branches, the Democratic headquarters on Dauphin Street and the Republican headquarters on Airport Blvd.

If you need more information about requirements to vote:

Deadlines and applications are available through Rock the Vote :)

And to disprove one myth about registering to vote: Registering to vote DOES NOT mean that you are automatically in your state's system as eligible to serve on jury duty. That is determined by your state driver's license or any other state identification card. They told me that at jury duty on the first day!!!

SO GO OUT AND REGISTER!!!! Every vote counts whether it is Democratic, Republican, or Independent!!