Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend Progress Report # 42

Still working on catching up to my ornament goals this week:

Bride's Tree SAL: I am doing rather well. Since October 1st, I have stitched and assembled the ornaments for May through August, and am currently stitching September's Teapot, symbolizing Hospitality. As I have mentioned before, I am making a conscious effort to make all these ornaments a genuine "set". All are stitched on 28ct Raw Glasgow linen and finished as fringed pillows with hemp cord hangers. All are stitched in the same style using Quaker motifs and Belle Soie silks. I have a three foot tall faux Christmas tree that I will use to display these ornaments come Christmas time ... the only other thing I will use on this particular tree will be some cranberry strands made of wooden beads ... this will give me the rustic look I am going for in my dining room. I spent most of Saturday stitching on the August Bride's Tree SAL ornament, a rose done in the Quaker style in Belle Soie silks Tortoise Shell and Sister Scarlet. I never cease to be amazed at how close juxtaposition has an effect on color values: the green with black-brown undertones of the Tortoise Shell looks so much greener beside the Sister Scarlet than it did alone against the raw linen. It really does seem to have the look of dark rose leaves, now. It is one of my favorite shades of green for backgrounds and borders since the brown-black undertones give it a neutral value that tends to work with an almost endless range of colors. I definitely need to order some more as I am running quite low, down to my last 12 strand length when just a week or so ago I had one full and one partial card. I finished and assembled the Rose Sunday afternoon at which point I began the September Teapot. Here are some photos of my progress on this series. The front of the teapot ornament is done except for the border. I figure I'll work on the border and the back for the ornament Monday morning before work. That will leave only the October ornament to do and I'll be all caught up ... at least till November 1st rolls around next week.

Halloween and Thanksgiving ornaments: I am still working on a few Halloween ornaments for this year's tree: M Design's Winifred Witch is my current WIP. There are two more kitted up and "in the pipeline". I have also asked my husband to order the kit for Monsterbubbles Day of the Dead as a Christmas gift ... now that's one ornament I really want to stitch ... but it will have to be for next year's tree. I just love the over-the-top, wildly creative Monsterbubbles signature style. And their use of unusual materials really calls to my aging hippie soul ... I am always using found objects in my own textile art. I also love playing with color and I enjoy the serendipitious moments that occur so often when stitching. For instance, this past week I have been working on two distinct projects that have led me to the planning of a third ... all because of an observation about color. When laying out my projects for this week's stitching bag, I couldn't help but notice that the 32 ct Aurora linen I am using for M Design's Winifred Witch and the Belle Soie silk Foo Foo Flamingo I used for my Quaker Fish ornament would combine to make the perfect tone-on-tone project ... perhaps a pin pillow or an ort jar cover. However, the silk looks so much paler against the raw linen shade used in the ornament that, had I not laid out all the materials on a table in close proximity to one another, I'd never have noticed how vibrant the silk could look against a more color-saturated background.

But even though I haven't met all my ornaments stitching goals, I am going to revert to my BAP, TW's Autumn Faerie for the remainder of October with this one exception: on Sunday, October 31st, I'll be participating in Rachel's Halloween SAL by stitching on whatever Halloween ornament is still a WIP and posting three times on my blog that day with photos of my progress.
A visit to Blacksheep's blog earlier this week had me salivating over the mere thought of gingerbread ... a pity photos can't be transformed into edible reality with the click of a mouse. I think that's something Bill Gates ought to get working on immediately. Failing the ability to attain instant gratification by computer magic, I dug out my favorite recipe for genuine New England style gingerbread and made it this morning ... I am also saving blacksheep's recipe for future baking adventures. One can never have too many gingerbread recipes.
Here's the one I use most often [from June Platt's New England Cookbook, c1971]
Raisin Gingerbread Preheat oven to 350F
2/3 c sugar
2/3c dark molasses
2/3c boiling water
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c raisins, washed and dried
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans
1 egg, well beaten
1 &1/2c sifted flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1c heavy cream lightly beaten
Mix tgether sugar, molasses and boiling water. While the mixture is still hot stit in the butter and baking soda. Let cool slightly. Add raisins, nuts and beaten egg. Sift together flour & spice and stir into molasses mixture. Pour batter into a well-buttered 9" square pan and bake in pre-heated oven 35-40 minutes, until it tests done in the center. Serve hot or cold with beaten cream.
I tend to double the spices or add chopped crystallized ginger because I like a very spicy cake. I also use lemon custard sauce instead of beaten cream, just because I like the combination of spice/sweet & lemon.
I had intended to spend the better part of Friday cooking and baking ... but that didn't happen ... so Saturday became a cooking day and Sunday, a baking day. I made a pan of Chicken Parmigiana and a pan of Eggplant Parmigiana, both with fresh mozzarella, on Saturday. This ought to take care of dinner through Tuesday nght. Since I work till 9:00pm on Mondays and Tuesdays and my husband's daily commute gets him home at 8:30pm, having something ready to re-heat quickly and conveniently is a priority. I picked up some Lemon Curd and some fresh lemons while shopping Saturday so I could embellish my gingerbread ... the lemon curd being a back-up since my home-made custard sauces tend to be rather hit-and-miss.

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