Sunday, June 23, 2013

That Afghan Started Way Back When

It's been a busy week with celebrations, fun outings, and great visits with friends and family. Summer is a wonderful time to relax and feel refreshed, isn't it?

Even though it's been busy around here, I am happy to report that I've had the chance to do a bit more stitching. I just finished two more squares on my afghan that was started back in 1990. Yes, that was 23 years ago. Here is what I have added in the past several days:

This is from Sue Hillis' Granny's Attic book. I love this one, but I did leave off the flourishy pink ribbon that was on top of it. I'm feeling lazy, I guess.


This is from Sam Hawkins' 501 Crosstitch Designs book. I changed the colors to match Sue Hillis' color scheme.


Earlier this month, I added this part. This is an adaptation of Karen Kluba's Quaker Diamonds pattern, with the colors changed here as well to match the afghan tones.



Here's a few more I took tonight of the entire afghan:


I've now stitched 15 out of 20 squares in this piece. I'm 75% done with it. Hurrah!

Thanks for stopping by today.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love & Embroidery

I have been able to work on my afghan a few times this past week. A progress photo will come soon, as I've finished another square and have started the next one. I think that means that 15/20 squares of this afghan are completed now! Maybe.

Most of the time this week I have been too busy to stitch. Our home has been filled with great times of extended family visiting, as well as closer family members.  How sweet it is to be with people we have known our entire lives, and feel right at home even though we haven't seen each other in years. Yesterday was busy with my daughter , niece, and their children coming to visit. It's a new kind of energy when four children between the age of one and six are enjoying each other in one's home.  I also take care of my son's little dog during the day in the summer, so more energy is added to the mix in this place we call home.

I have always loved quotations, and I also love embroidery.  What better than to place a wonderful quote that speaks of embroidery's shiny stitches and love onto a piece that my daughter stitched many years ago. It speaks well to letting love carry you, even through the darkest times.  I placed the words on Mirabilia's Titania, which my daughter stitched for my niece as a wedding gift.

Thanks for stopping by today. Soon I'll post a progress picture of that afghan.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Progress on Afghan- "If you start something, you must finish it."

Did you ever start a needlework project, and then rather wish you hadn't? I know I have! At times these projects languish in my project armoire forever and ever. They're destined for a state of perpetual WIP or UFO status. I have just a few of these 'never to be completed' ones, and they are small ones, I'm happy to report.

Hobbies are interesting things, and how we view them and our need to complete projects. I watched a movie not too long ago called The Lovely Bones. Yes, it is about a grim, tragic subject. The part that I am reflecting upon has to do with a character's hobby, not the grim subject matter of the film. In the movie, it's beautiful to watch the relationship of the victim with her dad, and to feel the love he has for his daughter. Besides being a loving father, this character has a hobby/obsession where he builds beautiful, detailed miniature ships in bottles.  His daughter Susie asked him about his miniature ship building hobby, if her mom knew he did this before she married him, etc. (The mother did.) In the film, this father says  to the victim about his hobby/obsession, "Susie, hobbies are healthy, they teach you things....like if you start something,  you finish it. You don't stop until you get it right. You start over again, and you keep going as  long as you have to. That's the way it is."

Wise words, right?

Hearing that inspired me. I can so relate to those words, and I know I must finish this afghan. (along with my other significant WIPs, one of them started as long ago as 2002!)

I started this afghan in 1990. Yes, 1990! That makes me gulp, as it is now 23 years in the making. I feel embarrassed about it. Life has so changed in 23 years, and yet here is this project waiting to be completed. When I started it, I was quite young and my children were very young! My son wasn't even in grade school.  Incredible. I was a stay-at-home mom, far away in time from returning to school to become credentialed in my profession. I loved being a stay-at-home mom, by the way. It was a wonderful time in our lives.

So about the afghan. There are 20 squares to be stitched in this afghan, and as of today I have finished 13 of them. I completed one yesterday, I am happy to say.  I bought the afghan back in 1989 while on a trip to my husband's home state, and I believe I bought the leaflet in the same long ago closed-down store in a very tiny midwestern town.

The afghan is called a "Lady Elizabeth" afghan, and I am primarily using Sue Hillis' Granny's Attic pattern book. There are 20 squares, and just 8 patterns in the leaflet, so instead of doubling motifs I have decided to add other projects into the mix, while using the same muted color scheme that Sue Hillis used in her leaflet. I have added patterns from the book called 501 Crosstitch Patterns, all designed by Sam Hawkins. In the original leaflet it states that the afghan is nice enough to leave some squares unstitched. Why didn't I listen to that sensible advice?

As I am adding other designs to it, several years ago I charted out the entire afghan's twenty patterns I was to use, including the added patterns I'd found.  Sadly, I lost that homemade charting along with the original leaflet.  I sent off for a replacement leaflet back in 2001.  Around 2003 or so I found the original one, as often happens when we trouble ourselves to find a replacement pattern.  I have once again lost the original leaflet, and my little homemade messy 'pattern' of the 20 motifs to be used, and where they should be placed. I do have the replacement leaflet, so that is a lucky thing.

Those words are echoing again, "You start over again, and you keep going as  long as you have to. That's the way it is."

All these delays and lost patterns have added to my procrastination on this project, that's for sure.

That was a long story, and I hope you are still with me.

Here is the latest square I stitched yesterday. I pulled out my Quaker Diamonds pattern, and used that as a base for the square. I changed some of it, to make it go faster!
I don't like how the colors look together, really, but it will stay. The color scheme is very limited and they're the typical late 80's muted colors that were so popular back then. I fear I used too much blue in this square. There is blue in the original pattern, but not in such boldly displayed hues.

Some more views:





More views of the afghan and my very slow 23 year progress:















The afghan and how it looked several years ago:

 Do you have any old WIPs that you must finish?  How do you motivate yourself? 

Thanks for stopping by today.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lasagna Recipe

It's been a relaxing summer so far around here. I've managed to get some home projects done, been able to read a bit, and even stitched some. No progress picture today of my stitching, but I promise there will be one soon.

I've had a few family gatherings here, and it's always fun to celebrate. Today we celebrated several birthdays in our family. My husband, son, and son-in-law all have birthdays within five days of each other. It makes for  a fun and busy June.  

Today I cooked up lasagna for our main dish at our birthday celebration. We tend to eat at home as a family, instead of going out to eat. All of us contribute a portion of the meal, and we enjoy eating our meal together at home, and enjoying the yard and other home activities. I know that a lot of families go out for all occasions, but this just has never been our tradition.

The lasagna recipe comes from a dear family friend, and I first ate it at her home while I was in high school, back in the seventies, when I was wearing embroidered jeans. Indeed!

 It was always a delight to have her lasagna, and I am so glad she shared the recipe with us. She told us the recipe came from a cooking magazine, but we just know it as her recipe.

A photo of it, before baking it today:

Lasagna

Grease a  9 X 13 or a bit larger casserole dish.

Ingredients
Sauce
1 pound sweet italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 -12 ounce can of tomato paste
1  -16 ounce can of diced tomatoes. (I add an extra 8 ounces of tomatoes or else it's too dry)
1 Tbsp basil

In a pan, simmer one pound sweet italian sausage, and two cloves of garlic that you've minced. I use a bit of olive oil for the simmering.  Drain the grease, and add a 12 ounce can of tomato paste and a one pound can of chopped tomatoes (and the extra 8 ounces of them, for added moisture), and 1 tablespoon of basil. Simmer this for about an hour, stirring once in a while.

Cheese Filling
24 ozs of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Also needed
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, unsliced

While the sauce is simmering, stir up the cheese filling portion of the dish and refrigerate, covered in a bowl.

Cook up a box of lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Lay the rinsed noodles out on layers between wax paper, or else they'll stick together.

To assemble the lasagna, put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the greased pan.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Follow the thin sauce layer with a layer of noodles, cheese filling, meat sauce, and thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. (At times I cheat and buy the pre-shredded mozzarella cheese, but it truly doesn't taste as good that way.) Repeat this with another layer of noodles, cheese filling, meat sauce, and thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Repeat two more times, ending the final time with the meat sauce on top. You'll have four layers of noodles, meat, and cheeses when you're done.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour,and let it rest five minutes before cutting it up. Enjoy!

This recipe can easily be doubled. One time a few of us ladies in my family made four of these for a huge anniversary celebration for my parents. It was a rather large undertaking, but the results were so worth it.

Last of all, a photo of the birthday cake from today:

My daughter baked and brought it. She added an extra 1/3 cup of cocoa to the chocolate cake mix, and we always make chocolate icing using the recipe on the Hershey's cocoa box. We jokingly laugh that in our family we are not allowed to use canned icing, nor frosting mix. It is 'forbidden', so to speak!

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you too are enjoying summer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quaker Diamonds Progress

I stitched a bit this week, and here's my progress:






The finished project will look like this:


I am really enjoying this one! I am using the suggested colors, and I love how they look together. I found another one of these online with a creative use of much brighter colors, and I found that to be lovely as well.

Thanks for stopping by today and taking a look at my work.