Monday, January 19, 2009

Mermaids of the Deep Blue Framed!

Well it's always a good day when I actually get a piece framed! My boyfriend offered to pay to have one done as a Christmas present, so I picked Mermaids. I had originally intended to mat the piece, but after playing around with various colors, I opted to go with a more simple antique gold frame and no mat. I absolutely think that was the right choice for this piece. It's also got the UV treated glass to help protect it from the sun.

The only issue is that the Mermaids are tilted ever so slightly forward, so slight that I'm probably the only person that will ever notice it. Argh. Anyway, I opted not to have them fix it because as I said - it's very minor. I'm always hypercritical of my own work LOL

For now, I'll be hanging it above my desk in my room, but I think Mermaids is ultimately destined to be in a powder room.

Framing was done at Eland Galleries, Phoenixville, PA.
WIP Updates

I've mostly been working on Fairy Idyll (yes, another Mirabilia) lately. I was visiting my boyfriend for a couple of weeks (he lives in another state), so while he worked, I got to spend some serious time stitching. I've always really loved this pattern, so it's been on my "to do" list for a long time. She's being worked on 32 count cream Belfast linen. A lot of the colors are quite subtle, so the cream really blends in nicely with them. I will probably do some additional backstitching around the yellow dress to give it a little more definition against the background. I really like how the topiaries are coming out - I still need to add the Waterlilies threads to finish that section.

I've also been doing a little of Summer Queen, the "official" last one of the 4 seasonal Queens by Mirabilia. (I may also do Royal Holiday aka Christmas Queen) SQ is being worked on 32 count antique white linen. I definately would like to get her done soon mostly just to be done with the series - since I started in 1999 - but realistically, it'll be a year or two before I can afford to get them all framed at once.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Dreamer, Mirabilia

This is the first Mirabilia that I completed, back in 1999. I had it framed in 2000 at Countryside Framing in Newtown, PA, and he did a fantastic job. As you can see, I had it triple matted, with the mats cut to match the arch on the design. The top mat is a burgandy suede, the middle is gold, and the bottom is teal. It also has a UV treated glass to help protect the needlework from sun damage.
Potato Onion Soup

This is one of my favorite soups, and makes a great dinner when paired with crusty bread and a salad.

In a large soup pot, sweat 3 diced onions in a splash of olive oil and a pat of butter over a medium-low heat. You don't want to brown the onions, but you do want them to become soft, transluscent, and starting to caramelized.

Add 4 cans of low-sodium chicken stock (substitute up to 1 can of chicken stock with white wine if you like) and bring to a simmer. Peel and dice about 2 lbs of starchy potatoes (Idaho or russet) and add to the chicken stock, along with 4-5 peeled cloves of garlic. When the potatoes are soft and starchy (about 20 minutes), use a stick blender to blend the mix - leave somewhat chunky. You can also use a hand mixer or a potato masher - the goal is to mash the potatoes enough to thicken the soup nicely but not make baby food :-)

Add 1/2 cup of half and half or milk, 1 1/2 cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, and pepper to taste (I like this soup very peppery so I tend to add a lot). Simmer and stir for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and the soup is hot.

Optional garnishes: crisply cooked bacon crumbles, shredded cheese, chopped chives or scallion greens.

Vegetarian variation: use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Mirabilia Queens

I fell in love with Spring Queen back in '98 when Mirabilia first published it. I completed her in 1999. Beware of doing any of the Queens - you'll end up doing them all, as I plan to!

Here she is finished:

I also started Autumn Queen late in 1999 and worked on her into 2000. At some point, I put her aside to work on another project. It always irked me that I never got around to finishing her, especially as I'd completed most of the project (pictured below).

I finally picked her up in October 2008, and it only took me about 2 weeks to finish her off. Here she is completed:

Because I've been on a Mirabilia kick this past year, I decided that I really am going to finish all four Queens. Unfortunately I hurt my back at the end of October so I'm dealing with limited mobility right now - but the upside is that I've been stitching a lot to keep myself occupied. Here's a picture of Winter Queen in progress:

And here she is completed (finished December 23, 2008):

All Queens are stitched on 32 count linen. For some reason, I did Autumn Queen on a nearly-cream linen, whereas the others are done on an antique white. It irks me that it doesn't exactly match, but not enough to redo. I started on Summer Queen in December 2008, because I needed a couple of days break on all of the blue and white of Winter Queen. I should have Summer finished in 2009.
You'll notice that currently none of the Queens are framed. I am waiting until they are all completed, because I'd like to frame them in the same style frame, the same size, similar matting, so that should I want to hang them in a group, they'll fit nicely. I kind of thing it's overkill to hang them in a group, but I want to leave that option open. At this time, I'm actually thinking of just hanging the one that's "in season" and storing the other three, but we'll see.
Additionally, I think I'm going to add Mirabilia's Royal Holiday, aka Christmas Queen, to the list, but will not wait to have that completed to frame the other four.

2008 Cross Stitch Projects

2008 was a great year for me as far as getting a lot of work done on various projects. I started some new ones, finished a very old WIP, and completed two major cross stitch pieces, as well as several larger crochet lace pieces.

I started off the beginning of the summer with a visit to a cross stitch shop in PA, and picked up Mirabilia's "Crystal Symphony" and got started on her.
The background is 32 count antique white linen, and I stitched the face/arms in petit point for a smoother appearance. I'm about halfway finished, and plan on getting her finished sometime in 2009. I put her away to work on Mirabilia's "Mermaids of the Deep Blue Sea", which I finished in September 2008. The background fabric is Amsterdam Blue 32 count linen.

I found the darker fabric somewhat of a challenge to work on, so I bought my first OTT-Lite floor lamp - while expensive, it has definately been well worth the price, and I recommend them highly.

Additionally, I started Silver Lining's "Edith Wolford", a beautiful purple and orange iris. While I love the Silver Lining's designs, the amount of confetti stitching with very similar colors makes them borderline frustrating to work on, so the projects get put aside after only a few days of work. I honestly think that the quantity of color changes could be simplified and still have amazing results - I would definately do a lot more Silver Lining designs if they were. Still, I'd like to get this one finished sometime in 2009.

A little about myself...

I'm a full time non-traditional student (that means I'm older than the average student) and am about 2 semesters away from getting my BS. I'm a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Eta Sigma Delta, and Golden Key honors societies. On average, I have a very busy life between work, school, relationship, friendships, but I also try to keep myself sane :-)

I have a ton of hobbies - baking, cooking, cross stitch, crochet, movies, reading, etc.