Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Theme-a-licious Jardin January Wrap Up

I made some progress on Convent's Herbal Garden during IHSW:
I really love this piece! I might have to sneak in some work on it next month as well.

Toccata also got some work during IHSW, which began with a flower-like motif and ended with a lattice motif.
You know...a in a garden. ;) Completely within theme.

I did finally pull out Shakespeare's Garden!
Excuse the poorly-lit poured rain all day today.

Juneberry has seen some progress (and now hopefully no longer looks like a thong!!)
That bit of white perle cotton in there is a "lifeline" case the lace goes so badly wrong I can't fix it (and I have had to fix quite a few things already!) I can just drop it back to that point and know where I am.

Sadly, I wasn't able to finish my tree ornament, but it was fun to start something new, anyway. =)

Now it's time for...
Figural February
Who are the people in your neighborhood...your WIP neighborhood, that is? Give your people-populated projects some face time this month.

I am definitely going to be working on Autumn Queen this month. I was also thinking that I might start a smaller Mirabilia piece...either Bluebell or the letter "H". But there is not going to be a lot of time this month (I'll be out of town for week) so maybe I will just keep to Autumn Queen and my ornament. Think I can stick to it? =)

Ornament Theme
Snowman (or Snowlady!)

Again, since this is a short month, I tried to exercise restraint and pick a very small ornament, especially since I failed to finish this month's! Of course, this just means that I picked THREE small ornaments. =)

So how did your garden grow this month? Please add your link below (to your wrap-up post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 15th of February, when we'll check in for Figural February!

1. Ruth's Little Leprechauns
2. Nic @ DragonRambles
3. Kerryp77
4. Karen - My Stitchy Ramblings
5. Serendipitous Jo
6. Katri
7. Karoline
8. Tiki Stitches
9. Katie
10. Erin (Movie Muse)
11. Gillie
12. Just A Little Stitchin'
13. Topcho
14. Christine
15. The Auld Grey Mare
16. Jackie
17. Yana Hanim
18. Christine Brown
19. Teresa or GirlWithNeedles

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Heather's Favorite Cookies (No-Bake, 30 Minute Microwave)

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I really was cruel not to give you this recipe when I posted about these cookies yesterday!

It's hard to know what the best thing about them is. Is it the intense chocolately-ness? Is it the vague feeling they may be slightly healthy because of the oatmeal? Is it that you probably already have all the ingredients on hand? Or is it the fact that from the moment you get the idea in your head, to the time you have a cookie in your mouth, takes only THIRTY MINUTES??

Yup. That's probably it.

"Heather's Favorite Cookies"
aka No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

In a large bowl, microwave
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
in 1-minute increments until melted. When the stick of butter is about 3/4 gone, you can just stir to melt the rest.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa (I use dark Dutch process)
Stir; microwave until the mixture has boiled for about 1 minute. This takes 3-4 minutes.

Stir in
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
until the peanut butter is melted.

Stir in
  • 3 cups oats

Drop by spoonfuls on wax paper. Stare at them eagerly until they set.
Consume and enjoy!

The only thing better than yummy chocolate cookies is yummy chocolate cookies that take only 30 minutes!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 1/27 (15 minute edition)

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Let's see how I do with a 15-minute time limit, shall we?

I'm sad to say that I did not make very good use of my daylight hours this weekend. I did get a bit done on Shakespeare's Garden, but then I thought I'd lost a bead (these are gemstone beads, not must seed beads), so that kind of took the wind out of my sails. The good news is that I found it later!

I also managed to transfer the design and mount the muslin and satin for my stumpwork class.
But that's all I managed. If the mounting looks a little strange to you, it's because I could not find regular stretcher bars, so I got a frame for, canvas for painting! The bars to make the frame were super cheap; I think I spent less than $3 on them. The only disadvantage I see so far is because the molding has a dip in it, I was not able to tack the muslin around the sides, then satin on top like I did with the muslin and silk for the stumpwork bird I did. We'll see how it works. You know, once I actually start stitching.

Sunday we had dinner with friends we hadn't seen in a while, which was really awesome. Even more awesome was that I brought cookies, which turned out to be our hostess's favorite thing ever.
Cookies in general, not these cookies in particular. But I do love making people happy. =) I got a 365 Cookies page a day calendar, and these were the first ones I tried. They were a variation on Macadamia Nut Cookies...substituting pecans for the macadamia nuts and adding Craisins...thereby making them the most inaccurately named cookies ever. =) They were pretty good and interesting because they contain no butter (COOKIES WITHOUT BUTTER, WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?).

Because I wasn't sure how they'd turn out, I also made the classic 30-minute microwave version of these chocolate oatmeal cookies.
I have no idea what the real name of these cookies is, because growing up, the recipe in my mom's recipe box simply said, "Heather's Favorite Cookies". =)

I'd give you the recipe, but...TIME'S UP! Let me know if you'd like it in a future post. =)

No weekend is a total loss when it results in cookies.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Latest IHSW Results, Ever

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Last weekend was so fun, I couldn't even stop to blog it.

Well, actually, since it was a long weekend, I didn't want to stop having fun to blog it on Monday, and then work kind of got in the way. I was even able to get an early start on Thursday night! So what did I do? Did I make lots of progress on a WIP? Did I make a good start on that new stumpwork class I'm supposed to be taking?

Heck no, I cast on a new shawl.
This is Juneberry by Jared Flood, in a Silky Wool that's not as bright as it looks in this picture. I cast it on like four times before I got it "right", and even then I'm pretty sure either I'm wrong or the instructions are wrong, since I have a weird yarn over three thing happening. Eh, I'll live with it. =)

DFs Teresa and Ann were in town, so Friday I drove out to have lunch with them. When I got back home, I settled in to make a start on my EGA chapter's project for the year (after playing some Spartan Ops *ahem*), Toccata I by Drawn Thread:
Of course, I changed half the colors. I still wasn't entirely happy with the peachy/rusty colors. So of course on Saturday, when I went back to meet the girls at the local needlepoint shop, I was unable to resist the giant rack of tantalizingly swaying skeins of Needlepoint Inc., Silk. With their help (the girls, not the skeins), I picked a nice dark berry and a mauvey pink.
Muuuch better. You probably can't see the difference in these pictures, but trust me, it will be so much more satisfying to stitch. These little square are so fun and addicting!

Unfortunately, I got a massive headache that afternoon, so I had to bow out of the evening festivities. The headache was still with me Sunday, so I didn't get too much done. I did rip out a Moebius Honey Cowl thing that was not happening. I've been trying to come up with a satisfying reversible Honey Cowl alternative for a while, but I finally gave it up and just cast on a regular Honey Cowl.

I did also make a little bit of progress on Chatelaine's Mystery II (Covvent Herbal Garden).

Welcome to those of you who've joined me from the Grow Your Blog Party! I'm still very behind on blog reading and commenting, but I'll get there some day!

I think I'm going to try this 15-minute blogging thing that Mason Dixon Knitting are doing. Think I can manage it??

Friday, January 18, 2013

Grow Your Blog Party Room!

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I saw this pop up on a few blogs just a couple days ago and I thought it looked like fun. I've met some really interesting (not to mention entertaining) people through blogging.

So. I am supposed to introduce myself. Um...hi? Let's see, I live in downtown Atlanta,
I'm a software developer who loves almost all things geeky, and for fun I like to read, travel,
sing, do needlework,
make people laugh, knit,
bake, have tea,
learn to use my camera more effectively,
and play teh vidya games.
And, you know, occasionally spell things correctly.

So if you're interested in reading about the random conglomeration of randomosity that is my life, then follow me! =D I'd love to return the visit to your blog, too!

If you've gotten this far, you deserve something, right? How about a giveaway! I will draw a name from all the comments on this post, and you will receive something handmade by me, along with some other goodies, tailored to your interests. I'll do the drawing on February 1st, 'cause I hear that's what all the cool kids are doing.

To enter my drawing, answer this question...
What 3 things did Heather "win" from Richard Dawson when she was on Family Feud? (WHAT. I was REALLY YOUNG.)

Entries are closed! Check the blog soon for the winner!

Party on by visiting 2 Bags Full!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 1/13 (say cheese edition)

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This past weekend we took one of my Christmas presents out for a spin. Michael got me a new lens for the camera...a 55-210mm lens.

So of course, we headed to the Botanical Gardens...for some ZOOMING!

Here's a shot (unzoomed) of the Chihuly chandelier in the entry atrium, inspired by our collection of pitcher plants.
And now, zoomed all the way in!
This is now my desktop picture. =)

To use it to take picture of smaller things, I now have to stand farther away and zoom in rather than just getting closer like I did with my 18-55mm lens.
It still works great, though!

It's also great for taking pictures of flowers that are on, say, a camellia bush that's 15 feet off the path.

Works great for capturing far-away bees as well. =)

Michael took this next one (obviously!) while he was explaining about the tighter depth of field on the lens.
You can see how the daffodils are nicely blurred in the foreground. You probably didn't notice it as much on the camellia pictures, but if you go back and look, you can see it there as well.

But the real reason we were there? Scouting for wildlife!

I did try to take pictures of some birds as well, but they didn't come out too well. That's OK; I learned a lot while trying, like how to adjust my LCD screen brightness, how to use the movable focus to zero in on the tiny animal I was stalking, and that this lens is less tolerant of backlit conditions (or at least it seems to be). It also take some practice to track flitting birds while you're really zoomed in! I was THISCLOSE to getting a great shot of a male cardinal sitting in a holly tree...then, flit! =) Even with the zoom lens, I would have had to crop it so you could see him, though.

The squirrels were much more cooperative!
These shots are not cropped at all, by the way. You can see the tight depth of field illustrated in these two shots.

I call this one my "squirrel hero" shot.

I love my new ZOOM lens!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Theme-a-licious Jardin January Check-in

I have to say that I have not made as much progress as I would have liked so far this month! I wanted to finish off my sister's ornament, which I finally did...and in case you're not sick of pictures of it yet, here's its final glory shot:
Totally garden-themed. =) I ended up taking off the pin hardware and backing it with some gold lamé by doing a sort of ladder stitch through it and the peyote stitch beads.

Then, I spent a bit more time on my January ornament than I had planned. I haven't gotten around to Shakespeare's Garden yet, but I will.

So on with the pictures! My EGA chapter is doing a stitch-along (SAL) of Drawn Thread's Toccata I, so I had to start that. I call this a Theme-a-licious project because I think that first motif there is vaguely flower-like. (Let's ignore the trailing threads for now...I may or may not have had to frog this motif. Twice.)
If you haven't been around for Theme-a-licous before, this is how we roll. You have a choice of challenging yourself to stitch something that sits firmly within the theme...or stitching whatever you want and figuring out how to justify that it fits! =) I do want to keep up with this project, so expect lots of justification. ;)

My tree ornament has been going slowly due to the 35-count fabric, but I did finish one of the three trees:
This next one should be easier to do in low light, since it's a modified ray stitch rather than cross-stitches.

A little announcement: We have a new graphic! This should fit easily on the sidebar of your blog, if you'd like:

It's already up on the Theme-a-licious page, if you need it later. Remember to link directly to the graphic rather than uploading on your own; otherwise the animation won't run.

So are you relaxing in your garden, or do you feel like you're fighting off too many garden frogs?? Please add your link below (to your wrap-up post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 31st of January, when we'll wrap up Jardin January and talk about Figural February!

1. Shebafudge
2. Ruth's Little Leprechauns
3. Kerryp
4. Jo who's first again!
5. Tiki Stitches
6. Karoline
7. Katie
8. Just A Little Stitchin'
9. Erin (Movie Muse)
10. Bea's Thoughts and Musings
11. Kali's Creations
12. Laura
13. Christine~StitchbytheSea
14. Yana Hanim

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Friday, January 11, 2013


(What the heck is a TUSAL?)

My orts, liberated from their oh-so-shiny and oh-so-difficult to photograph tea light holder, are hanging out with the Stickman figure Michael got in his stocking (well, not IN his stocking...the packaging was HUGE!)

Yeah. I don't really know what's going on here. CAUTION: 70s TRIBBLES (?)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year's Day Start

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So. This blogging thing...I'm still trying to get back into it after the holidays!

I did make a New Year's Day start...this is Milady's Needle's "Christmas Tree Farm" ornament from the 2008 JCS ornament edition.
It is over two on 35 (THIRTY-FIVE) count, and may not have been the best choice for the dark, dark days of Winter.

I also got the beaded border done on my sister's ornament...then promptly clipped a few threads trying to cut it off its backing.
I successfully rescued it, but I will NOT be finishing mine the same way. I do like the peyote stitch border, though...I just have to figure out a different way to apply it! And, GAH, the first lesson of my new stumpwork class was posted yesterday, so I should finish my bird up! I can't start on the new class 'til I get some bigger and better stretcher bars, though. Everything I have is either too big, too small or too splintery. Ugh.

Really, the weekend was fairly uneventful...or at least, filled with camnesia-laden regret (we went to a basketball game at the new McCamish's AWESOME!)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Epic Holiday Catch-Up Post

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Sorry I've been so absent! It was difficult to find time to blog during the holidays...I'm so busy in preparation, and then after Christmas I was just exhausted.

But enough excuses! Here are some random moments from my December....

The week before Christmas began with my favorite annual Christmas concert. A friend at work is in his church's handbell choir and they do a service every year that is nothing but congregational carol singing and handbell pieces. It's gorgeous, and I adore singing wonder it's my favorite.
I had the additional wonderful surprise of my DF Teresa coming in to town for work, so she got to come with us and go to dinner afterward.
Even though the weather wasn't very Christmassy, the crazily decorated Marietta Diner provided a festive mood.

Then it was all about trying to get the cookies done in time to give away. In other words, turning these raw ingredients...
...from this...
...into this.
That's seven different kinds: Buried Cherry Cookies, Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies, Eggnog Thumbprints, Scandinavian Almond Bars, Peppermint Cream Bars, Snickerdoodle Cups, and Mexican Chipotle Chocolate Bites. I estimate that I rolled over 300 cookies, not including the approximately 96 bar cookies.

The Wednesday before Christmas Michael and I sang in a Festival of Lessons and Carols. It was a wonderful, worshipful evening, even though my body was trying very hard to get sick!

You may be wondering about this random squirrel picture...
I just had to give a shout out to Bloom Woodworks. In my usual last-minute fashion, I ordered a couple gifts (along with this squirrel for myself. Jodi and her dad were great; she responded to my desperate email right away, her dad made a special trip to the post office, and she even remembered I'd entered a drawing and had gotten an (expired! my fault!) coupon for free shipping, so she only charged me a few dollars for Priority Mail. Fantastic customer service, and the thread keep is BEAUTIFUL. It's so light, too. The gifts were also beautiful, but I can't show them to you because both of them haven't been given yet. ;)

We headed over to the Georgia Aquarium on the 22nd because our annual passes were expiring and we wanted to see the dolphin show one last time...with the addition of the Weeki Wachee mermaids!

On Christmas Eve, we went to lunch at my sister's house where we got to hang out with my nephew. He got surprise leave (at Christmas!) from his service on the USS Eisenhower (where he flies a jet). It was fantastic to see him (and the awesome in-cockpit videos he took of his takeoffs and landings)! After lunch, we headed over to Michael's parents' house for Settlers of Catan and general festivities. He was put in charge of pancakes for dinner...
...I can't even believe I got that shot. These weren't just any pancakes, either. These were Grandfather Lott's Famous Apple Pancakes!
Boy, were they good. Especially alongside the rest of the feast...sausage bake in phyllo, egg casserole and asparagus!

The next day was Christmas! After a gorgeous church service, we went to my parents' house for presents and feasting. Look at the beautiful package my sister gave me! I almost didn't want to open it...almost. =)
She's SO good at shopping for me. She gave me the most gorgeous scarves, earrings, hat and dress!

I brought some Christmas crackers for us to pull before dinner, and they went over even better than I'd expected.
Everyone immediately donned their crowns and we had fun chortling over the ridiculous jokes inside.

The rest of the week we pretty well hermitted. I did go out on Boxing Day, thanks to my sister and niece who wanted to go to the sale at Anthropologie (and thanks to my in-laws, I had a nice gift certificate to spend). It was so fun to shop and have lunch with them! The next day I had lunch (and did a bit more shopping) with DF Jean.

I'll leave you with a bacon angel Michael made me for breakfast. I love it when he cooks; his food is always so much prettier than mine!

I love Christmas!!

Old Geek-outs