Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All That Glitters

While visiting Cincinnati with the hubs (on a business trip for him), I happened on a Hobby Lobby store. ( I brake for:  Hobby Lobby, Michaels, JoAnns and most recently Ben Franklin's . . . and any cross stitch or quilting store.)  I LOVE the little Putz glitter houses and have pinned many examples of them on Pinterest.  I had visions of making some out of cereal boxes this year . . . then . . . what to my wondering eyes should appear:
Okay, well . . . it wasn't finished but, this is what I saw . . . or something like it.  Not a little Putz house but, a BIG one (unfortunately they only had one)!  It stands a foot high!  It really looked like this at the time:
Armed with my Mod Podge, an old book, Snow-Tex and sponge applicator I went to work to bring my vision to life!  I had purchased this old, fabulously aged  . . . worn and stained perfectly . . . book at an antique/flea market.  I knew I'd have a use for it eventually!  The book happens to be a copy of Les Miserables.  It would probably be worth something if it wasn't missing the first and last dozen or so pages and it's binding.  It was the perfect exterior wallpaper!  I angled it this way and that overlapping to cover the exterior walls.

Now I needed glitter . . . the "right" glitter . . . off to Michaels.  I bought two different glitters by Martha Stewart Crafts:  glow-in-the-dark glitter (for all the snow surfaces) and then a crystal fine glitter for the house walls, shutters (cut from a cereal box) and the fence (the fence pieces I had in my craft stash from some time ago . . . knew I'd have a use for them someday too.)  I initially mixed the crystal fine glitter with the mod podge and coated the wallpapered house . . . the glitter didn't show up . . . so, I mod podged again and sprinkled the glitter on while it was still wet . . . I could have been more heavy-handed with the glitter . . . may have to add more.  I cut the shutters out of a cereal box (it just needed some color) and painted them with red paint mixed with a gold leaf glaze.  When dry, I mod podged and sprinkled them with glitter also . . . "glued" them to the house with the mod podge.  I love working with Mod Podge.  You get all sticky and then it dries and you can peel it off your fingers . . . it's great!
 The snow-tex paint is very thick . . . seems to be sand mixed with paint.  It didn't go as far as I hoped and I needed more than one jar (this picture is as far as one jar went).  While the paint was still wet I sprinkled it with the glow-in-the-dark glitter.   I heard there was a Hobby Lobby as well as a Ben Franklin's store in Kingsport . . . 40 minutes from the house.  I found more snow-tex at Hobby Lobby and the rest of what I needed to "accessorize" my house at Ben Franklin's: the tiny wreaths and the sled . . . perfect!

The two little trees are compliments of Mark's Trains (the hub's train shop at the Tri-Cities Flea Market).

I used a patterned velum (found in the scrapbooking department) for the window panes and doubled a plain velum sheet for the door.  I "installed" a clip light (like a night light) by cutting a hole in the back.

ALSO . . . at Hobby Lobby I found MORE houses!  I bought another big one and a smaller one too (8 1/2" high).  I had visions of making these as gifts this year but, the hubs brought a brutal cold home from his business trip to Canada and I've been too sick to get much of anything done this past week.  On the mend now and frantically getting the decorating done and house cleaned up for the holidays . . . there's no time . . . we haven't even gotten our tree yet nor the Christmas cards done!  REWIND . . . I need that week I lost!!!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas,

a Happy and Healthy New Year,

Peace on Earth 


prayers of comfort and healing for everyone affected by the Connecticut tragedy.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November EGA Retreat

I got my camera back last night at the EGA meeting . . . yea!  Now I can show you pictures of the Lake Junaluska Retreat that took place the first weekend in November.  We had no "formal" teachers or programs for this retreat . . . we all brought our own projects to work on . . . but there was a lot of sharing and learning going on!  (Can't wait to try the paper-piecing quilt making technique!)

Lake Junaluska is a Methodist Conference and Retreat Center (visit their website to learn more:  http://www.lakejunaluska.com/welcome/ ) as well as a residential community.  "The mission of Lake Junaluska is to be a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body."  We renewed our souls, minds and bodies through our friendships, shared stitches and cool mountain air!

We stayed at the Terrace Hotel (pictured here in the center of the photo).  Our meeting room was located across the street in that low building on the edge of the lake.
Meals were provided in the Hotel Dining Hall buffet style. (This would be where I left my camera on the floor under our breakfast table . . . I was going to take some more pictures that morning.  Totally forgot about my plan . . . and my camera!

We had a large meeting room that comfortably held 34 of us with assorted seating for the various stitching and quilting projects going on.  We even had a kitchen (everyone brought snacks).  Stitchers can really work up an appetite . . . we did not go hungry!

 There is a covered porch the length of this building with rocking chairs and a full view of the lake.
I went for a mid-day walk part of the way around the lake (there is a 2.6 mile walking trail that circles the lake) . . . just can't sit all day.  I would have walked the whole way, but the sun was blinding me!  At the beginning of the trail there is a rose garden . . . unfortunately not in bloom the first weekend in November . . . there was one blooming yellow rose bush that must have been a recent plant.  No doubt this part of the path is beautiful in season!
There were signs along the trail forbidding the feeding of the geese because it may prevent them from migrating.  They didn't look like they were in any hurry to move on to me.    
Lots to do here . . . there's a Youth Center, Gym, Pool, canoes, paddleboats, volleyball, shuffleboard, mini-golf, and tennis courts all managed by The Conference Center.

There were some fishermen enjoying the mild weather near a bridge that spans one narrow area of the lake.
There are cute little cottages and larger homes in this lake community . . . some creative landscaping as well!
Couldn't you just sit here all day and enjoy watching the ducks and geese glide through the water?  But how would you ever get your stitching done!
We made a few side trips to a couple quilting shops in the area . . . yes, I added to my fabric stash!  As different groups came back from their shopping jaunts, we had to have "show and tell" . . . it seems everyone added to their fabric stashes!  

One evening, after a few people left for bed, we gathered Sue's "cats" and moved them to the piano.  The plan was to not say a word and wait to see if she could find them in the morning.  Nita, a guilty party in the plan, couldn't hold her guilt in and told Sue that her cats had partied all night and couldn't make it back to her table . . . Nita!  It was still funny and made for a cute picture:

The retreat was great fun and I got to know a lot of the members of our EGA group . . . a group I'm sure I'm going to enjoy for years to come.  I've already made my deposit for next year's retreat!

When we were looking for a place to retire, we actually looked in this area of NC.  We really liked Waynesville which is just a few miles from Lake Junaluska . . . and it's close to Asheville as well.  A beautiful area of the Blue Ridge/Smokie mountains!  Looking forward to next year!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Can't Stop At Just One

You remember the potato chip commercial:  "Bet you can't eat just one".  Well, I have this problem with not only potato chips . . . it seems to have spilled over into my decorating.  Remember that other commercial:  "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up".  It's more like: "Help, I found something I like and I can't stop getting more".  My newest collection is needlework scissors . . . saw this cute way to display them on Pinterest and went on hot pursuit of a glass flower frog:
 Found the frog and here are some of my needlework scissors . . . some.  Oh look, it's next to another of my new collections . . . sewing machine oil cans. 
 Then there's that adorable punchneedle chick (on an oil can . . . that's what got me started collecting oil cans) that my BFF Jen did for me . . . LOVE IT!  It's sitting on the old decoupaged cigar box filled with my grandmother's button collection.  (I come from a long line of collectors).
There's the tatted and crocheted pieces that my grandmother did (I have more). . . a few of my wooden spools (I have more) . . . you get the picture.

In case you aren't convinced I have a problem . . . there's my doll collection . . .

 This shelf are my dolls from Slovakia . . .

 . . . and the ones from Serbia . . .

These aren't really dolls . . . they're wine bottle covers from Hungary.  Budapest was close enough to where we lived in Slovakia that we made many trips to Budapest on the train.  Each trip I'd buy a few of these . . . they're so cute, I just couldn't stop!

Then there are the eggs . . . what can I say . . . I have over 90.  Only a few stay out all year . . . the rest of them come out at Easter.  I'll have to show them all to you at Easter time.  Here a few:

SOMEONE STOP ME!  I'm too embarrassed to show you the other collections . . . maybe another day.  Is this the beginning of hoarding?!  What do you collect?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cincinnati Chili

Stop drooling all over your keyboard!  Okay, okay . . . yes, I do have the recipe.  This is supposed to be the "official" Skyline Chili recipe . . . don't know for sure but, it does taste like it:

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 gallon water (you may want to add some water after simmering depending on your desired consistency)
4 small onions, chopped fine
1 t. garlic powder
4 t. chili powder
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. crushed red pepper
1 t. cocoa powder (yes, cocoa powder)
5 medium bay leaves
1  1/2 T. vinegar
4 t. cumin
1 T. salt (I start with less and salt to taste)
1 t. ground all spice
2 T. Worchestershire sauce
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste

Brown ground beef breaking it up in small pieces.  Mix ground beef with water in a large pot.  Stew until beef separates to a fine texture.  Add all other ingredients.  Stir to blend and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 hours uncovered.  Last hour, pot may be covered.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

Spoon chili over cooked spaghetti and top with a generous amount of finely shredded cheddar cheese for a 3-way.  If you want a 4-way add either red beans (not kidney beans) or chopped onions . . . and for a 5-way, add it all!  You must serve this with oyster crackers as well . . . it's tradition.  And why not include a cheese coney.  These are little hotdogs with a little mustard, chili, onions and . . . of course . . . cheese!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I'm beginning to understand why my father never wanted to go anywhere on the weekends.  He traveled 3 weeks out of every month for work . . . my mother and us kids were always wanting to go somewhere and he just wanted to stay home.  We have been traveling a lot since we've moved here and I've about had enough!

I recently went to Lake Junaluska, NC for our local Embroiders Guild Retreat.  I will post pictures of Lake Junaluska when I get my camera back.  Yes, I left it there . . . under the breakfast table.  Someone found it and turned it in but, when I went to the front desk to inquire, she showed me a camera from a distance and said it was an Olympus.  I could have sworn our camera was a Cannon . . . nope . . . it's an Olympus.  After I got home and realized that was my camera she showed me, I called them back and luckily someone from the guild was still there and retrieved it for me.

We didn't have any teachers at the retreat, just brought our various projects to work on.  I brought my projects from the Shepherd's Bush Retreat.  I finished the Naughty/Nice scissor fob and put it on the scissors that were our gift at the banquet. It's adorable!

I also finished the R&R piece . . . changing a few things.  They had DMC threads with it and I changed out a few for overdyes . . . just like the look better.  I also changed the bottom border repeating the snow line and didn't do a top border.  I added beads to the snowflakes too.  I love it . . . can't wait to get the box to finish it!
I came home from the retreat, dumped my suitcase out, repacked and we drove to Cincinnati, OH arriving at 10:30 p.m.  The hubs had to work up there for two days and since we lived there from '88-'96, I wanted to go along.  It's always fun to see how things have changed since you've lived someplace.  It's also fun to visit with old friends!  We met up with a few former neighbors for dinner one night and got caught up on their lives and their kids (mostly grown now).  We also had to go to Skyline for some Cincinnati Chili the other night . . . if you've never had Skyline, you're really missing something yummy!  Cincinnati Chili is a greek chili served over spaghetti and smothered with cheese!  You can get a 3-way which is spaghetti, chili and cheese; a 4-way with beans or onions; or a 5-way with everything!  Gotta have a 5-way, a cheese coney and a root beer . . . then we have a peppermint patty (they have them at the cash register) for dessert . . . it's a must!
That's it for now.  I'll post pictures and tell you more about the retreat when I get my camera back.

Gotta go work on my Jeanette Douglas piece now.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Spreading Contagious Happiness

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago, I had a wonderful group of friends that cooked for us, one who cleaned my house and one who took the time to come to a chemo session with me (these lasted about 6 hours each).  Mary Lou stayed all day and kept me laughing . . . the time flew by!  She had been my Slovak Language Class partner when we lived in Slovakia (our husbands worked together).  We didn't know each other in spite of living in the same small town outside Pittsburgh before US Steel sent us overseas.  We took Slovak lessons for about a year and a half . . . made it to Chapter 3 in the book.  Yes, only Chapter 3.  Katka, our Slovak teacher, said we were her worst class.  We may have been her worst class in the amount of Slovak we learned, but I'm sure we were her favorite class because we had the most fun!  Mary Lou is one of those people that you can't help but smile around . . . she exudes contagious happiness . . . yes, that's the perfect description of her.  She is affectionately referred to as my chemo-sah-bee.

While we were recently out of town, I received a message from her that there was something she had seen in a gift shop that reminded her of me and she had sent it to me.  I was thinking "gag gift" surely . . . maybe something Slovak . . . maybe an old language book.  Imagine my surprise at this gift:

Aren't they lovely?!  A stitcher can never have too many pin cushions and who doesn't need a beautiful scissor holder you'd be proud to hang around your neck!?

Thank you my chemo-sah-bee!  What lovely things to remind me of you . . . veľmi pekná môj priateľ!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

On The Road Again

We just got home last night from Pennsylvania.  First we went to the TCA Train Show in York, PA where we spent 3 days walking around a gazillion buildings at the York Fair Grounds . . . don't think my feet have ever hurt so bad . . . that walking all day on concrete is a killer!  It was a shopping trip for the hubs . . . for himself and his shop at the Tri-Cities Flea Market.  The back of the Yukon is nearly full.

Love this part of Pennsylvania . . .the Amish . . . beautiful farm country.   The weather couldn't have been better!

We took some time one morning to go to Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA for brunch . . . it's in the middle of nowhere.   This place is amazing!!  Not only is the food delicious . . . there's a  HUGE selection!

The Lobby is grand!  The dining room goes on forever!

There's an enormous gift shop downstairs from the enormous main dining room.  We just didn't have the hours it would have taken to see it all!  (See me taking the picture in the security camera?)

In another building there is a full grocery store and across the street, a dry goods store and a furniture store. 

We then drove to Allentown/Bethlehem, PA where the hubs had some work to do for an IT consulting job he's currently working on.   After dropping him off at work each day, I explored the area.

Bethlehem is a quaint historic little town founded by the Moravians in 1741.  It has a number of cute shops and restaurants . . . spent a little time and money there.
 Bethlehem Historic District Image 1

Drove to Reading one day to visit Stitch N Stuff, a well stocked cross-stitch shop and enjoyed meeting the owner Deborah.  They now have four of my designs!  Thanks Deborah!!
It was as good as stopping at a Visitors Center!  Deborah gave me brochures and directions to a number of other stops I might want to make.

After having a delicious lunch of pumpkin/apple soup and cornbread in Kutztown at Pop's Malt Shoppe, I only had time to visit Wooden Bridge Drygoods (fabrics, notions and quilting supplies!).  It's on a Mennonite family dairy farm and it was interesting hearing the woman talk on the phone in a mix of English and German.  Got some great fat quarters and pre-cut squares here! 

 Did a little shopping at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley one day.  Isn't it interesting that they are building "outdoor" malls now that look like small towns . . . why not just revive the small towns?

The next day I drove to Palmerton (just nothing but cute small towns in PA) to meet a "pen pal" who found me in "blogland".   I've been corresponding with Holly for quite some time about starting up a cross-stitch business sharing what I've learned so far.  She has progressed rapidly and her designs are available from Hoffman Distributing as well as her website! 
You'll have to go see all of her released designs (I got to see some upcoming ones too). . . here's a tease with two are my favorties:

        Check out her website:   http://www.mistyhillstudio.com/

Holly is a delight (as I knew she would be from our correspondence) and we talked a "blue streak" over a 3 hour lunch!  It's so great meeting another kindred spirit.

My last day, I drove to Lederach to finally meet Carolyn of Just Cross Stitch (she had ordered my designs finding me on Facebook through a mutual friend).  Lederach is not in my GPS so this was a little tricky.  Lederach is a very small town . . . just a bend in the road with a General Store. . . just darling!  (Love all the stone buildings in PA)  Carolyn was another delight . . . isn't it just that way with stitching friends?  She's got a small shop next to the Lederach Post Office . . . careful, don't miss this booming business district . . . I think there was hair salon there as well. 

Our last night we drove to Easton for dinner.  Yep . . . another cute town!  Easton is where Crayola Crayons are made.  We drove around and up and down the hills of this town looking for an intriguing place to eat.

This looked intriguing . . . it turned out to be a bar on the first floor and an Italian eatery upstairs.  Good lasagna!  Big "small antipasti" salad!

It was a long week and a half and it was so good sleeping in my own bed last night!  There's no place like home!!!