Monday, June 24, 2013


International Hermit Stitch Weekend.  On the third weekend of every month, we hermit ourselves and spend the entire weekend stitching.  Or at least, that's the idea.  While I wasn't able to drop everything else, I did manage to get quite a bit of stitching done.

Last week, Lynn, Dee & I went live with our new online shop.  We called it Treasure Chest of Friends.  We also have a Facebook page & a Pinterest account.  We are selling handmade items that we have sewn, crocheted, machine embroidered, or anything else we happen to have fun making.  Come check us out.  We're adding new items every day so keep coming back.  If you don't see something that you'd like to see, drop us an email.  If we can do it, it'll be a new item!  Our email address is

On Saturday, Mom, Mariah & I took a one stroke painting class at the library.  I haven't taken one in awhile & I really enjoy them.  This month we painted birdhouses. These are Mariah's

These are mine:

We had a lot of fun.  Next month, Kathy is doing wine glasses so I may just have to join that class as well!
When we got our CSA box this week (community supported agriculture), it was full of berries.  Red raspberries & strawberries to be exact.  I knew that we'd never eat them just like they were before they went bad, so I turned them into yummy items.  On Saturday, I made raspberry syrup.  We use this, not only on pancakes & waffles, but to make iced tea as well.  I gave Lynn a jar & she put it on top of ice cream last night and said it was great!  Sunday morning, I got up & made homemade buttermilk pancakes & put the syrup on top.  They were yummy!
On Sunday, I spent a good portion of the day in the kitchen.  First, I made strawberry bbq sauce.  Now, for those of you who are going eeeww, try it.  We first were introduced to strawberry bbq sauce several years ago at the Long Grove Strawberry Festival.  The tea room has a buffet for lunch that is quite reasonably priced.  On it was strawberry bbq chicken.  It was delicious!  When we got to the General Store, they were selling it by the jar.  I had to buy a bottle.  When that ran out, I searched for the recipe.  I found one that is very close to Long Grove's and have made it ever since!  The picture here is what remains of my raspberry syrup & the large jar of strawberry bbq sauce.  The recipe made the large jar, 2 pint jars, and 2 half pint jars.  I gave away the 2 pint jars and will make pork chops or chicken with the rest.


 Our basket also contained 2 small zucchini.  So, I made a loaf of zucchini bread & a zucchini cake!  I gave the zucchini bread & 1 of the pints of bbq sauce to my friend, Jen, yesterday.  We ate a portion of the cake last night, but there's plenty left for the next couple of days. 

I also scored a bunch of bruised bananas at Kmart on Saturday when we went grocery shopping.  Our super Kmart puts a lot of produce on the reduced rack, which I love.  I should have bought more as they had about 10 packages for 25 cents each, but I only bought 2.  I broke 1 package up & put it in my bag of frozen fruit for smoothies.  I intended to make Hawaiian bread with the rest, but Rich brought home a tray of brownies & I decided to wait a few days for the Hawaiian bread.  I'll share that recipe with you next week. 

Now, with all this, did I actually get any stitching in this weekend?  You betcha!  First, I finished my bikini beach bag Saturday morning.  I made mine extra tall so I could fit my stitching in it.  It has a reinforced bottom so it doesn't break through.  I absolutely love it!


I finished the wings on Petite Christmas Angel #2 yesterday.  There's a lot of gold braid in them!  Next weekend I'll work on the wreath she's holding.

Since I finished the beach bag, I got to do another letter on Enchanted Alphabet.  I did K yesterday. 

Today we go back to Fright Night Friends for 3 days.  I hope to get quite a bit done, but Mariah & I will be very busy today.  She has art class at Michaels this morning, her reading group at the library this afternoon, and then at 5:30 we go back to the library to see "Oz, the Great & Powerful". 

So, until next time, what did YOU do this weekend??


Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend wrap up

Wow, what a weekend!  We had Mariah's birthday party.  7 adults, 4 kids, lots of ice cream & 3 dozen cupcakes.  This was what was left of the cupcakes

She was thrilled that she got 2 basketballs - 1 is glow in the dark!  She has recently discovered basketball and loves playing.  I guess I'll have to start taking her up to the basketball hoops to practice.  She also got a beautiful blanket for her doll, and LOTS of art supplies.  She also got a GC for Michael's which she is dying to go spend.  She wants to buy a new set of good paint brushes and then spend the rest of it on tubes of paint. 

Sunday, we went to church.  They had a wrap up of VBS for service.  It was great seeing what the kids had done.  There was a video compilation of the week with the kids' activities and Mariah was in it several times!  After service, there was a potluck with TONS of food.  We went home afterwards and relaxed in the afternoon.  Mariah & I splurged & treated Rich to Subway and even got him a chocolate chip cookie. 

I worked on the 2nd angel in Petite Christmas Angels over the weekend.  I couldn't find a progress picture from the last time I worked on her, but I finished up her hair & got most of the wings done. 

Today starts my new rotation.  During the day I'll be working on Fright Night Friends Monday - Wednesday, sewing projects on Thursday & Friday, and Petite Christmas Angels on Saturday & Sunday.  Evenings I'll be working on my crocheted bikini beach bag.  I'm hoping to have it finished by next weekend, along with several sewing projects. 
Until then, what are YOU working on?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lots of finishes and progress

I've had a very busy week.  I spent a good portion of the week working on Mariah's dress for her party today.  I got it finished on Wednesday.  She was so excited she's wanted to wear it every day!

I finished a small ornament that I found in my UFO bin.  When I'm crocheting, I usually crochet all day and then take a break every so often and work on a cross stitch project. 

Since I had 2 finishes, I stitched the next 2 letters in my Enchanted Alphabet - I & J.

Thursday, my friend, Lynn, came over & we worked on stuff for our shop.  One of my stitching friends had made a denim armrest & I liked it so much that I decided to make one for myself.  I have a tendency to stick my needles in the arm of the couch so this made Rich really happy.

The one that Pam made had 2 pockets, one on each end.  I tried it that way first and decided it didn't work for me.  It kept getting in the way of the recliner lever.  So, I took that pocket off and we're going to put a drapery weight in that end to keep it from falling off with everything in the pocket on the other side.  As you can see, the fabric for the pin cushion is coffee cups and bags & containers of coffee.  Just my style!

Our shop should be going live within the next 2 weeks.  We're working on the website and will still have some tweaking to do when it's live, but I think it will be great!

This morning, Mariah & I will be decorating cupcakes for her party today.  Last night we baked chocolate cherry cola cupcakes & yellow caramel cupcakes.  Today we will frost & 'bling' them with edible glitter, plastic rings, and candles molded like a purse, shoes, and a tiara.  Just the thing for a 10 yr old girl!  We're having the party at the local ice cream parlor since it's supposed to rain on & off today. 

My next project will be a crocheted beach bag that looks like a bikini.  We also start our Halloween SAL on Monday.  I can't wait!

Mariah had VBS all week and they're going to wrap it up with a huge cookout at church.  Rich decided that that would be his Father's Day dinner and we'll go out one day next week for both him & Mariah. 

So, until next time, what have YOU done this week?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Progress pics

Yesterday was TUSAL day & I forgot to post a picture of my ort jar.  I didn't think I could get any more in it, but I think that I made enough room I can get one more month in!  What do you think?

Mariah's birthday is next Monday and I'm crocheting a dress for her to wear to her party on Saturday.  It's about half done, only 12-14 more rows to go!

I've been working on Enchanted Alphabet by Lavendar & Lace.  Every time I finish a project, I stitch a letter in the alphabet.  Here is the work so far!

Questioning our future

Have you ever thought you had a really good plan for your future and worked towards that plan with everything you've got?  Suddenly, something happens that makes you think, "Hmmm, maybe this ISN'T what we're supposed to be doing?"  You start questioning everything around you and everything that you thought was sure in your life.  Well, that's where I am right now. 

Long ago, we made the decision to sell our house and move elsewhere - ANYWHERE but Illinois!  Since we really had no idea where we wanted to live, we thought we'd put everything n storage and travel around the country for a year, spending real time in areas that we thought we'd like to live in.  Then, in February, Rich went down to Biloxi, MS and spent a week working with Back Bay Mission. BBM is a charity run by the United Church of Christ (the denomination that I grew up in and Rich has been a part of since we got married).  It's kind of a cross between a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, and Habitat for Humanity.  For those of you who want more information, here's the link to their website

Rich loves volunteering and helping other people.  Unfortunately, here in IL, they look at his disabilities and his past and say 'so sorry, we don't need you'.  In Biloxi, they treated him like there was nothing wrong with him, like he was capable of doing anything.  They taught him how to work in a soup kitchen, how to hang sheets of drywall, and many other things that made him feel useful and productive.  He came home such a different person and begged me to move down there.  So, like Ruth, I go where my husband goes.

We put the house up for sale.  The realtor told us it would sell within a couple of months and we could be gone by June.  We looked at apartments and storage units around Biloxi, home school coops and laws.  I found that, while in IL I still needed my BA to teach, in MS, I am able to teach already in most schools.  My dream of opening a learning center for kids like Mariah could very easily be achieved.  So, we were excited and hopeful at starting a new life soon.

The last couple of months have been really hard.  More and more goes wrong with the mobile home every day.  The toilet in our bathroom had to be replaced, as well as, both shower heads and the hot water heater.  The ants were INCREDIBLE this year!  With all the rain we had, we didn't think we would ever get rid of them.  Every time the realtors were scheduled to come through, about a million ants would appear.  We found out the roof needs replacing, we need new carpet in the living room & Mariah's room.  The expenses are really mounting up. 

To make things more difficult for our move, Rich is getting more & more work.  He now has 2 farms that he has to clear all the scrap out of.  The first farmer has referred him to another place that will have almost endless work for him, clearing out scrap and old fuel tanks.  For the first time, he will be making what I used to make working 60 hours a week downtown.  We would finally be able to have me stay home full time with Mariah and not worry about expenses. 

I've been praying for months that God show us a definite sign to lead us down the path He wants us to follow.  BBM & Biloxi seemed to be it.  Even more confusing, we have been trying to find the right church with a good Sunday School for Mariah for years.  None of the churches that we've been to have been it.  Last night appears to be God smacking us in the face and saying "STAY!"

Mariah started Vacation Bible School last night at a local church.  It's not a church that we would normally attend.  But I was blown away when I dropped her off!  The back half of the church is set up for Sunday School.  Right now, it is made to look like a medieval kingdom with a drawbridge and everything!  Last night, with everyone getting registered and meeting their crews, it looked like the first day of school assembly!  There was so much noise from all the kids!  Mariah can't stand loud noises, they hurt her ears very badly.  The director had called me earlier in the week to ask if there were any special accommodations needed for her and I told her I didn't think so.  She realized Mariah was having a difficult time and took us upstairs. That's when I had a feeling that we were home. 

The entire upstairs has been set up for special needs kids.  There is a room called Safe Harbor, where the kids can go and anyone else is allowed in by invitation only.  There are all kinds of sensory things in there for them - a tent to crawl in when they need quiet time; a large plastic ball that they can crawl inside; lights with colored beads that move to sound.  There is  a room for arts & crafts, an area for videos, a puppet theatre.  The kids go up there and then THEY decide what area they want to work in that week.  It was amazing!  Mariah was overwhelmed at first and started to flail her arms and jump like she does.  At first I started to calm her down like I normally do, but the director stopped me.  She told me that most kids coming in there for the first time experience the same thing.  They believe in letting the kids be themselves, even if it means a melt down.  Wow, someone who really understands kids like Mariah!  She explained that from then on, Mariah would be in that area with a group of Special Ed teachers.  She would be assigned a helper who would take her down to the regular VBS.  If Mariah chose to stay down there she could.  If not, she could go back upstairs and participate in VBS there.  We were told to come back in 2 1/2 hours and pick her up and enjoy our evening in the meantime. 

Rich went back to pick Mariah up and Mariah was reluctant to leave.  She wanted to spend the night!  He told her she could go back every night this week.  Tonight I'm going to take her and speak with the children's pastor about the church itself.  Maybe this is God's plan.  Maybe we're supposed to stay here and do something else.  I don't know for sure, but I'm going to keep praying about it. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer desserts

As most of you know, I try to make as much as possible from scratch. The sugar and chemical content in bottled sauces, condiments, etc, are sometimes unbelievable.  For instance, one tablespoon of Heinz ketchup has 4g of sugar.  Tell a 9 yr old that she can't put ketchup on anything and she will tell you that there's not much she's going to eat!  Because of this, we have found some really good and tasty sauces.

But, I digress.  We love ice cream.  Growing up, my parents made homemade ice cream quite a bit.  Always vanilla, once in a while we got peach or strawberry.  I can remember chocolate a couple of times.  But, made in an ice cream freezer, it was a frozen concoction that quickly turned to liquid.  And after you put it in the freezer, it became a solid rock.  Delicious, but not really comparable to store bought. 

I've been searching for really good ice cream recipes and finally found one in Woman'sDay magazine.  It is rich, creamy, and decadent. And incredibly easy to make!  There are only three ingredients - heavy whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, and pure vanilla extract.  Mix them together, put them into a freezer container, and freeze for at least 8 hours.  When it's done, you have a rich, creamy, ice cream that will stand up to Baskin Robbins or Breyers any day.  Now, here comes the fun part - you can put anything you want into it to flavor it!!  You say your favorite ice cream is rocky road?  Ok, add chocolate syrup to the mixture.  After it's done mixing, stir in chopped nuts & mini marshmallows. Then freeze it!  My favorite is to add coffee to the mix and then stir in hot fudge & caramel toppings.  Yum!!!

Homemade Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer on highspeed, beat the ingredients in a large bowl until thick, stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Spoon the mixture to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for at least 8 hours.  It will last up to 2 weeks in the freezer.

Now, we also like to grill in the summer.  Actually, we like to grill all year round, but most of all in the summer when we can get lots of fresh fruits & veggies to grill.  One of our favorite desserts is a grilled pineapple sundae.  We got the recipe from Taste of Home.  We not only get to use fresh pineapple on the grill, but a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream too! 
Grilled Pineapple Sundae
4 fresh pineapple slices, about 1/2" thick each
4 scoops vanilla or coconut ice cream
1 cup whipped topping
1/2 cup hot caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup flaked coconut
Place the pineapple slices on the grill and cook until heated through, about 2 or 3 minutes.   Place each slice into an individual bowl.  Top with ice cream & whipped cream.  Drizzle with caramel sauce.  Sprinkle coconut on top. 
Now, in our house, we make our own whipped cream from heavy whipping cream.  We also make our own caramel sauce.  It is really easy to make.  Simply place a can of sweetened condensed milk into a crockpot before you go to bed. Cover with water and turn it on low.  When you wake up in the morning, the milk will have turned to caramel.  Yum!
Ok, go make your own.  You know you want to!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crocheting and stitching

I've been extremely productive & busy this past week. My sister, Janice, turned 42 today.  In celebration, Mariah & I spent yesterday making red velvet cupcakes.  I also crocheted her two scarves. 

I also crocheted a tutu water bottle carrier, pattern courtesy of Heidi Yates of Snappy Tots.

A friend and I are getting ready to open our own online shop to sell our handmade items.  Her niece is designing the website for us and it should be up & running soon!

I've also been doing quite a bit of cross stitching (surprise, surprise!). 

The top picture is my WIP on L&L's Enchanting Alphabet.  The bottom picture is a bib that I stitched for my cousin's new baby.  (I really need to get a new camera!) 

Mariah's birthday is coming up and she wants a cake.  Not just any cake, but one covered with 'girl bling'!  Shoes, purses, lipstick, etc.  I called a local bakery, and they wanted an arm & BOTH legs to make it.  So, Lynn & I are going to tackle 'painting' sugar molds to make the 'bling' & I'm going to make cupcakes.  We're having her party here at the house.  Hopefully, it will be a nice day & the kids can all go down to the splash pad at the park. 

Well, that's it for now.  I have several more crochet projects to make over the next week including a couple of birthday presents for a certain young lady.  She's going to be 10 and, as she keeps informing me, that makes her a tween!  God help us all!