Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Recap


1. The Mistletoe Kiss by Janet Lee Barton
2. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara
3. Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger
4. So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins
5. Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai by Teruka Craig
6. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
7. Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett

Cross Stitch Finishes:
1. B is for Bunny by The Sweetheart Tree

1. Pokemon ball amigurumis
2. Clara Jellyfish amigurumi
3. Dango amigurumi
4. Kero-chan amigurumi
5. Beast kpop decoden box
6. Octopus amigurumi
7. Pikachu amigurumi

My favorite book of the month was Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. I had picked up the novel on one of my trips to The Book Nook a while ago. I think the last novel I read of Gaskell's was Cranford. Mary Barton was her first novel, which launched her career after it became known that she was the author. It was also quite controversial because of its subject matter, the average mill worker and their relations with the mill owners in Industrial Age England.

I think perhaps her novel North and South is read more widely nowadays especially since the beautiful BBC series adaptation starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage came out in 2004.

I do think Mary Barton would make an excellent adaptation to the screen as well. At first you think the plot focuses on the social aspect of mill work and poverty faced by the lower classes, but then Mrs. Gaskell adds a bit of romance, murder, and mystery into the mix. Makes for a great novel in the end. I would love to see either Brian Percival or Andrew Davies adapt the novel as a mini series. I think they would do the novel justice.

My favorite craft for the month was the Pikachu amigurumi. Not that the pattern was challenging (except perhaps his tail!), just that it makes for such an adorable amigurumi with his expression.

Next month's goals will be to continue crocheting amigurumi plushies, finish the Blackberry Jam cross stitch pattern by The Sweetheart Tree, and stitch some more on my Sampler 4 Saisons pattern for the Frolicking Friday group.

Until next time >___<

January Amigurumi Roundup

Here is my little amigurumi collection this month and late last month. I think my favorite is the Pikachu ami, he's so cute with his red cheeks.

Until next time >___<

Sunday Baking - Basic Chocolate Cake

This morning I attempted another recipe from Bake From Scratch magazine, the basic 1-2-3-4 cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Not bad for a first try at a classic cake recipe.

I didn't think our little handmixer was going to make it when it came to making the buttercream frosting! It was struggling with an entire bag of confectioner's sugar, butter, and cacao powder. Lol

If I use this recipe again, I will half the ingredients to make a one layer cake. And perhaps try a different flavored frosting. Vanilla cake yields endless possibilities for frostings.

Until next time >___<

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sampler 4 Saisons Progress :)

Good evening! Here is my progress on my sampler so far. The annoying part is the fact that I realized I was off a stitch on the bottom two lines under the alphabet. There's no way I can unstitch the lines as they have been in place for quite a long time and have surely stained the fabric underneath.'t you just hate it when that happens.

But c'est la vie. And as my fellow stitching friends always remind me, no one knows the mistakes but the stitcher. So very true.

I will put aside my sampler until next Friday as I plan on baking tomorrow morning and then finishing up my last amigurumi for the month of January.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend with their various projects :)

Until next time >___<

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blackberry Jam start ~ The Sweetheart Tree

I switched gears this afternoon by starting a new cross stitch pattern after working on an amigurumi this morning.

Pattern: Blackberry Jam by The Sweetheart Tree
Fabric: 28 ct natural and cream linen by Graziano
Threads: recommended DMC colors and #12 perle coton
Start: 1/24/2016

I love the colors used in the pattern, especially the DMC 902, which really does remind me of jam.

I hope everyone is enjoying the rest of their weekend and that it isn't too cold in your neck of the woods!

Until next time >___<

Cherry Blossom Season

Good afternoon! It's that time of year again, cherry blossom season. Our Taiwanese cherry tree is blooming. The first two photos were taken on a rainy day while the last two were taken yesterday on a sunny day.

Flowering trees always make me smile.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

B is for Bunny - First Finish of 2016 ♡

Pattern: B is for Bunny by The Sweetheart Tree
Fabric: 28ct Summer Khaki Cashel linen
Threads: DMC, Rainbow Gallery Wisper, #12 Perle Coton, and Crescent Colours Cocoa Bean
Start/Finish: 1/3-17/2016

Good evening! I was able to finish my little bunny pattern a few moments ago.

This afternoon I was mulling over my DMC threads trying to find an alternative color to the recommended DMC 642 for the backstitching and Rhodes heart variations. I stitched a bit on the large 'B' letter and took my stitching over to my aunt's to ask her opinion on my choice. I had used some of my Crescent Colours Cocoa Bean thread. My aunt liked the choice so I continued to use it for the rest of the design.

The pattern called for DMC 644 for the outer borders, but as that color blended too well with fabric like the DMC 642, I opted to use ecru in those areas instead.

Overall, I loved stitching this pattern as it give me a few stitches to learn. The scotch stitch had me scratching my head at first because I was reading the pattern as 2 over 2 so when I saw the illustration of the stitch over more than 2, I didn't know how I was supposed to make the stitch.  Turns out my eyes were misreading the stitch symbol on the chart as it the illustrated by diagonal lines. When I looked closer I realized the diagonal lines weren't in just one square, but two. Problem solved…lol...

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.....crafting, relaxing, or reading....perhaps a bit of all three :)

Until next time >___<

Sunday Baking - Flourless Chocolate Cardamom Cake

Good evening everyone! This morning I decided to try a recipe I found in the latest issue of Bake From Scratch magazine for a flourless chocolate cardamom cake. I only made one change in the ingredients. It called for 70% cacao baking bars, but I could only find 60% cacao baking bars made by Ghirardelli. I used 100% unsweetened cacao powder by Ghirardelli to dust the top of the cake.

Now I know you are probably thinking that this cake cannot be sweet because of all the dark chocolate, but the recipe does call for 1-1/2 cups of sugar so worry not, it will satisfy your sweet tooth.

I love the use of cardamom in the cake. I cannot really describe the taste of cardamom. It smells like citrus, but does not taste of citrus. Apparently you can use it in savory dishes as well as sweet ones.

My family liked the cake, but everyone had a different opinion of what it reminded them of. I got fudge brownies, lava cake, and pudding as descriptions. All of which do describe the consistency of this cake. It is a dense, moist, and fudgy cake. My mother and aunt agreed that is the type of cake that you have a cup of coffee with :)

The recipe makes a 9 inch round cake.....I think I might take half of it to my aunt's house tomorrow which will leave half the temptation at our house. Lol

Until next time >___<

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Stitching Progress

Hi, everyone! Here is my progress on the Sampler 4 Saisons pattern from last Friday and this Friday. Not a great amount of stitching, but as I promised to only work on it on Friday nights that is to be expected :)

We get a three day weekend so I plan on stitching some more on my Sweetheart Tree bunny design, find some yarn to finish my octopus amigurumi, and perhaps bake on Sunday. I found a recipe for a flourless chocolate cardamom cake that I would like to try.

Tomorrow morning I plan on stopping by my favorite used bookstore, The Book Nook, and then go by the craft stores in town. I had enough pink yarn to finish the head and tentacles on my octopus amigurumi, but did not have a darker pink for its ruffle or spots so I plan stopping by Michael's to see what they have :)

Happy crafting everyone! Until next time >___<

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Baking - Biscoff Fudge

Good evening everyone! I saw a video on Youtube for Biscoff fudge and knew I had to try it since I love Biscoff cookies.

The recipe was quite easy to make and was actually fail proof. I didn't cut the pieces very large. I left them small so they fit in mini cupcake liners.

For my first time making fudge, I think I did a good job. Next time I'll know to push down the fudge in the tin completely and not rely on just smoothing the fudge out with a spatula.

I had bought some adorable mini Valentine cookie cutters with the intention of using them to cut the fudge, but despite leaving the fudge in the fridge for an hour and a half, it was too 'soft' to cut with the cookie cutters without the fudge breaking :(

I took a good majority of the fudge to work so I wouldn't be tempted to eat it all.....which I know would happen if I left the fudge at home.

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has left a comment on my posts. I appreciate them :) I am hoping to devote a day each week to reading everyone's blogs and commenting instead of just being a 'silent' reader. I just have to pick a day.

Until next time >___<

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bunny Pattern Progress

Hi, everyone! I hope you guys are having a great weekend of crafting or relaxing. Thank you for all your comments on this bunny design :)

I stitched a bit on my Sampler 4 Saisons pattern on Friday night and yesterday crocheted some more tentacles for an octopus/jellyfish amigurumi that I am making.

I was able to stitch a little bit on my little bunnies this afternoon. I removed the brown thread I was using for the backstitched bunny and initials.

I thought I could search online to see if any ladies or gents used a different color for the initials or bunny, but came up with nothing. I guess I am on my own on picking a new color to stitch those areas again. >~<

I hope this week to finish my little octopus, stitch a bit on my Sampler 4 Saisons pattern, and hopefully finish this bunny pattern :)

Until next time >___<

Saturday Fun - Chocolate Exhibition and King Tut Exhibition

My friend Kristina, her mom, and I went downtown yesterday morning to view two exhibitions, the Chocolate Exhibition at the Exploreum and the King Tut Exhibition at the History Museum of Mobile. We were in luck as the rain was just moving on as we were driving downtown.

We headed to the Chocolate Exhibition first, which was held at Mobile's Exploreum, mainly a kids' science center, but which also hosts temporary exhibitions along side their science related displays and hands on exhibitions.

The Chocolate Exhibition was interesting. The first part of the exhibition was focused on the growth of cacao and its transformation in the Mayan and Aztec cultures before it was discovered by the Spanish through their conquest of that area. This part of the exhibition was illustrated as a miniature forest with cacao trees and featured artifact replicas from the Mayan and Aztec cultures.

The second part of the exhibition was focused on chocolate as it was traded throughout Europe and other countries and its later development into the chocolate we know today.

They had lovely ceramics on view that were manufactured by companies especially for the consumption of hot chocolate.

Here is a display of 19th century chocolate mix containers. It was interesting to see what companies are still in business and how their logos have changed since then. Nestle Quik hasn't changed much besides the addition of their bunny mascot while Ovaltine doesn't resemble their 19th century logo at all.

They had a wonderful display of antique chocolate molds that were made for individuals to use and larger ones used by chocolate companies.

They had molds for Ghirardelli, Hershey's, and a company I had never heard of called Wilbur.

Apparently chocolate companies sent out employees with these chocolate kits to schools in the United States to teach children what ingredients went into making chocolate. I can't believe this artifact has actually survived.

They had a display of early 20th century candy bar wrappers (see the Snickers, Kit Kats, and Butterfingers?!)

Did you know that soldiers were given rations of chocolate during WWII? They were called d-rations and by all accounts weren't very appetizing. The chocolate was made differently to give it a more nutritional value and less of a sweet taste. It caused the soldiers to save the chocolate for emergencies instead of devouring it like they would a normal candy bar.

Makes me wonder if it caused a whole generation of men to despise chocolate?!

The last display of modern chocolate memorabilia was Valentine's Day advertisements and candy boxes and tins.

After that section, you go on to another display about modern cacao manufacturing. Did you know that chocolate consumption is actually equal between men and women?! I would have never thought so. Obviously my cousin is abnormal as he hates sweets. ;)

After buying some yummy chocolate in the gift shop, we walked out and around the corner to the History Museum of Mobile for the King Tut Exhibition. Sadly I don't have any photos of the exhibition as I didn't think to ask if they were allowed.

The exhibition was well laid out and informative, but I felt it contained too many text panels, even for me, a museum lover. Now this isn't the museum's fault as it is a traveling temporary exhibition, which means that all the text panels, etc. would have been included in the exhibition.

I will say it is a great way for people to learn about the various artifacts found in King Tut's tomb, especially if you haven't seen them before or are just starting to study the ancient Egyptians.

Perhaps if this exhibition of King Tut's artifact replicas travels again in the future, I would love to see the organizers revamp it to include a few authentic artifacts, maps of the tomb, and more photographs of the tomb as it was being excavated and catalogued by Howard Carter. Having practiced in the field of archaeology for several years before being employed at my present job, I am a lover of both history and archaeology and would be interested to see both sides illustrated in an exhibition of this kind.

Overall, I think both exhibitions are worth the time to see. There are several other museums in downtown Mobile that are great to tour on a weekend so if you are traveling through or are a local looking for something to do, come on down and check them out :)

Until next time >___<

Sunday, January 3, 2016

B is for Bunny - The Sweetheart Tree stitching

Pattern: B is for Bunny bt The Sweetheart Tree
Fabric: 28ct Summer Khaki Cashel linen
Threads and Notions: DMC and Rainbow Gallery
Start: 1/3/2016

After baking this morning, doing laundry, and going through my stitching stash, I sat down to start on one of the kits.

I'm sure you aren't surprised I chose the bunny motifed pattern. Since the kit came with threads, it gave me a chance to use the bunny thread floss palette my aunt had gotten me a while back.

Since taking the photo above, I have finished stitching several of the bunnies and other motifs. I actually like working with the textured thread that is in the kit though it does take a bit of work to thread your needle with the added fluffy fibers along the thread.

The only thing I am not loving is the brown color chosen for some of the lettering and other motifs. It blends in too well with the linen. I have a feeling that when I get back to stitching on this pattern, I will be pulling out my stitches on those areas and going through my DMC threads to see if I can find something that shows up better on the linen.

I hope everyone has a great work week!!

Until next time >___<

Sunday Baking - Apple Cake

This morning I baked a chunky apple cake from a recipe I found on Taste of Home's website.

I had been searching high and low for a recipe that called for red delicious apples, but was coming up with nothing.  So when I ran across this recipe, I decided to give it a go.

The recipe calls for tart apples, but I decided to try it anyway because it called for 6 cups of apples. One of my sister's friends gave her a bag of apples for Christmas and I needed to figure out what to do with them before they went bad so this seemed like a good recipe to try them on.

Oven to 325° and 40 minutes later, a lovely brown apple cake. I made the butterscotch sause a few minutes before the cake came out of the oven. I poked holes in the cake with a fork and poured the sauce all over to absorb into the cake.

Overall, I was pleased with the recipe. I am, however, not a fan of butterscotch so I think the next time I make this recipe, I will make a caramel sauce.

Note: if you plan on using red delicious apples like I did you need to cut the sugar in the recipe as red delicious apples are quite sweet to begin with. I added only one cup of sugar to the batter instead of the recommended two cups. With the butterscotch sauce, it still comes out nice and sweet.

Until next time >___<

Stitching Goals for 2016

Good evening everyone! Today I decided to go through my stash and see what I'd like to stitch this year.

I found quite a few small kits that I would like to stitch this year. I'd forgotten I even had them (how embarrassing is that?!) in my stash of crafting supplies and patterns.

Sadly these kits were bought from two local needlework shops that are no longer in business. I do miss having a local shop to browse especially when I need a colored linen for a project. Thankfully there are some great online shops that will help with linen selections :)

So what other goals do I have in mind:

1) Stitch my way through several of those kits pictured above. I have started on one of the kits this afternoon.

2) WIPs: Finish my WIPs, Sampler 4 Saisons by Anagram Diffusion and Cottage Cakes by Cottage Country Needlework. I hope with the kind comments of the Kitten Frolics, I will continue to stitch on those two WIPs.

3) Exchanges: Join more exchanges with the Hooked on Exchanging group. I enjoyed participating in the last two exchanges during the fall.

4) Finishing and Experimentation: There are a lot of talented stitchers out there who finish their work beautifully. I would love to work on my finishing techniques and perhaps learn new techniques.

5) Most importantly, have fun stitching :)

Wish me luck!!

Until next time >___<

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Snail Mail ~ California Christmas Package

Today I recently a lovely package in the mail from my best friend Amanda. She wrapped some of the gifts in peppermint striped paper and the other gifts were in a pretty cardinal tin and a fun Daiso Christmas boot.

I hadn't even seen what was inside this package yet because I was busy squealing over the cuteness of this bunny tag!!!

The Japanese are so inventive with holiday products. I don't think I've seen a Christmas boot before. I plan on reusing it for this year's Christmas wrapping. It's too fun not to pass it on to another friend.

Here's all the goodies I've received: a Knowledge is Power tshirt, some fluffy and soft bear socks, two Starbucks ornaments with illustrations for LA and California on them, some buttons, a cute dino keychain, earplug reel set, a sushi headphone jack, a Christmas washi tape, a box of bunny paperclips (!!!), some handmade soap by Willow & Honey, two Taiwanese pineapple cakes (yum!), a bunny Starbucks gift card, and a beautiful brooch.

Isn't the brooch beautiful? It's going to join the other brooches in my collection. Hopefully I will get to wear it at work soon.

She also sent a gorgeous handmade Christmas card. Amanda, you are too crafty!!! Assuming that's even possible.

Thank you, darling, for the wonderful Christmas package!!

Until next time >___<

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dreary New Year Crocheting

It's been a dreary and cold New Year today, which is good in a way because we haven't had wintery weather in quite awhile.

This morning and afternoon I stitched up these tiny Pokemon ball amigurumis. I hope to make them into keychains for our Etsy shop.

I hope all my readers have a wonderful New Year!!

Until next time >___<

Sampler 4 Saisons Progress

Good evening everyone! Here is my progress on the Sampler 4 Saisons pattern!

From now on I plan on working on it on Fridays only for the Kitten Frolics group :)

Until next time >___<