Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30 Day Challenges Day 29 - 10 States I've Lived in or Vacationed In and Update!

Thank you all for your great comments! I will answer them all tomorrow I hope. 

I will admit I'm starting to run out of ideas for lists. :) DH suggested this one. I couldn't come up with 10 states I've lived in, so I'm adding ones that I've also had extended vacations in as well. 

And an update on K:

I may not get the 2nd wing finished tonight, but I should still have some time to stitch tonight. It's my late night at work, so hard to say how much time she'll get tonight. I'm thinking I'll aim for a July finish with all the beads, etc. 

And on to the list!

10 States I've Lived in Or Vacationed In:

1. Vermont

I took this panorama while vacationing with my Mom in Vermont. This is the Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe, Vermont. We weren't staying there, but we did walk around the grounds a little. Apparently they play the Sound of Music every night? You don't have to watch though. :)

This is North Hero, Vermont one morning when I was driving through. I had to stop to take this one. 

2. Nevada

This is Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas Nevada. We got married with a view of this in the background in 2009. There's a conference I sometimes attend there and we went to Hoover Dam last time (2011) and that's to the right. Fortunately the conference is in the fall when it's not too warm there. You can always picks out the Northerners in shorts compared to the Nevadans in pants and jackets. :)

3. New York

A shot of an abandoned train station in Rouses Point, NY. It's a pretty interesting portrait of how the railroad is no longer our main form of transport. I lived in Saratoga Springs, NY for a while. That's a very quaint town and they have horse racing there in the summer. 

4. Tennessee

I don't have any of my own photos from Tennessee, but this is a shot from the Pigeon Forge, TN page. One of my school friends lives in TN and we used to go visit on long weekends. She was pretty close to the Smoky Mountains pictured above. On one memorable occasion the fog was so thick you couldn't see anything past the observation deck, that was cool. 

5. Indiana

I attended Indiana University and this is a shot from their webpage. This is the main entrance to the school. It's a really beautiful campus and there's limestone buildings everywhere! The limestone makes it difficult to tell what's new and what's old since it looks so similar, and that's a good idea. Most of the limestone is quarried in nearby Bedford. We visited once. The entire town looked grey from all of the limestone dust so we didn't stay too long. 

One place we did visit fairly often was (Little) Nashville, IN. It's definitely a tourist destination and has lots of fun little unique stores. I tried divinity fudge for the first time there, amazing! 
This photo is from Roadtips.typepad.com

6. New Hampshire

This photo of the White Mountains is from timberlandcampgroundnh.com. I believe that is Mount Washington with snow on it. That's the highest peak in the Northeast US. We hiked a bit of it, but not much. There are lots of outlets in nearby North Conway and that was a fun trip with Mom as well. 

I also lived in NH for a few years while I worked there. It's very different than Vermont even though they're side by side. 

7. Michigan
image from michiganpublicmedia.org
image from ballparks.com
I grew up near Michigan, so we traveled there frequently for day trips. I'm not sure what the top picture is from, but the bottom is Tiger Stadium. My dad was a big Tigers fan, so we were too and we'd go down to games now and again. We frequently went to Port Huron, MI for hockey tournaments and shopping, but that part of Michigan isn't that pretty. Although the Bluewater Bridge that crosses from Canada to the US is pretty cool. 

8. Florida

I didn't visit Florida until I was 27! And I only visited Animal Kingdom then, not the Magic Kingdom. I still haven't been there (sorry Keebs!) This is a shot of Universal Studios from my second trip on a conference. This is the part that has all the restaurants instead of going to the main park. It was 6pm, so we didn't want to pay for a full pass, you'd think when they're not going to be open much longer you'd get some kind of discount, oh well. 

9. Ohio

I can't even tell you how many times we went to Cedar Point. I've been to other places in Ohio, but this is the most memorable. I remember when the Magnum came out and we were so excited to go on it. I think I had my eyes closed most of the way. :) They used to have a fun bobsled type ride too, but that was gone at our last visit. Now it's been at least 20 years since I've been there, so I'm sure it's changed a lot. 

10. Rhode Island
The Marble House Mansion in Winter Season.

Source: Happyboomernurse aka Gail Sobotkin 
The Breakers
I've visited Rhode Island twice, both times with my parents and once with my Grandma as well. The second time we paid for a tour of these 2 mansions above. Wow... words cannot really explain how grand these places are. The hand painted wallpapers, the glamour, check out some photos on Google search if you'd like to see more. Just type in either mansion and it will show you photos of the inside. The gold room in the Marble House is particularly awe-inspiring. 

I hope you enjoyed this mini-tour and tell me what places you loved visiting!

Happy Stitching,


Monday, June 29, 2015

30 Day Challenges Day 28 - 10 Relatively Healthy Recipes for Sweet Treats

In the last couple of years I've tried to watch my refined sugar and wheat intake after reading a lot of info on Traci D. Mitchell's blog. DH and I did her Belly Burn plan when she was planning it out for her book and it really helped both of us. It helped me drop some of the baby weight, and although I gained some back when I went back to lazy habits, it definitely isn't that hard to continue with when you can see results pretty quickly and feel better too. 

There are lots of great recipes in her blog section, but you do have to hunt for them now. I'm going to list a few different places to find relatively healthy dessert recipes, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. 

10 Relatively Healthy Recipes for Sweets

1. Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I'm sure many of you have seen how avocados are the new healthy food. They do seem to be worth having as they have healthy fats and protein. This pudding recipe is delicious! But it doesn't make a lot with just one avocado. If you're going for a really rich, small dessert, then make it as is. If you like a little more, I'd recommend 2 or more avocados and adjust the other ingredients as needed. 

2. Healthy Cut-out Cookies

These are fantastic! DH loves them. I've made them with both cashew flour and almond flour and my personal favourite is almond flour. Because they call for pretty much a whole bag, this is a fairly expensive cookie to make. It's easy because there are only a few ingredients and they always turn out great for me. 

3. Homemade Junior Mints

I made these for Easter and they are amazing! They didn't last very long between DH and myself and they are relatively healthy compared to the original. You're using very few ingredients, and not refined sugar, even in the chocolate if you follow Coconut Mama's recipe for chocolate chips. 

These do need to be kept in the freezer, but that doesn't keep you from eating them, trust me. The trick with these is do not melt your coconut oil first! Keep it in solid form and whip it to a creamy texture. Again, these were amazing!

4. Chocolate Coconut Butter Bars

Yes, coconut butter is expensive, but you can make your own! And it works pretty well. All you need is shredded coconut and a good food processor. These turned out really well and I used a loaf pan to make them so there weren't too many for us to eat. Sometimes that's the best way to make sure I don't get carried away, just make less. The recipe calls for a loaf size pan to use.

5. Black Bean Brownies

I ate so much red meat while I was pregnant that I'm still not really interested in it. I tend to have low iron, so another good source is beans. We will make a pot of beans in the pressure cooker fairly often and have them in the fridge to use when needed. I decided to appropriate some to try in this recipe, and it worked really well! I was surprised how I didn't taste any of the bean taste at all. 

This recipe does need a blender or food processor or you'll end up with bean bits, and that might throw you off the delicious brownie-ness of this recipe. 

This is a fantastic lemonade without all the sugar of the regular kind. It was easy to make and tasted fantastic! You can add sweetener to your taste, and enjoy on a hot day. I will definitely make this again. 

One way to keep your portion size down is to make a mug cake. This is a great recipe and makes a very good cake. I doubled the recipe and made it in a small glass casserole dish for breakfast for DH and I yesterday. It's got an egg in it, so that = breakfast food to me. You can adjust the sweetness to your preference or drizzle it in maple syrup, etc. as you prefer. 

If you try this one, make sure you mix everything really well. Coconut flour is a really odd substance and it almost seems to avoid mixing with fluid. You need to check all the areas on the mug or mixing bowl and really mix it well before cooking. I've had this one be half unmixed before and it's edible, but barely. 

I have no choice but to eat dairy free, and every once in a while I'll remember something that I used to love and can no longer have. Around St. Patrick's Day (March 17) I start thinking about Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds. I haven't eaten at McDonald's for years, but there is some mystery about the Shamrock shake that make me love it. It could just be the minty-ness. I love anything that tastes of mint. 

I've made a couple recipes of dairy free Shamrock shakes over the years, and this one is very good. The avocado adds a nice green colour as well as a smooth texture and the coconut cream in the canned milk also makes it very creamy. 

This is the best pumpkin pie I've ever tasted and it doesn't even include pumpkin! They use kabocha squash, which we happened to get in our farm share and weren't sure what to do with. When I searched for recipes I found this one. It turned out so amazingly well we can't wait for autumn this year to try it again. It also works with acorn squash as well. Because you're not loading down the pie with sugar, it still ends up being fairly healthy overall. 

I made this for DH's birthday last year and he said "This is the best pecan pie I've ever had!". I won't say how much of it he consumed on his birthday, but it didn't last long. :) The crust wasn't too finicky, and I think I ended up pressing in some with my hands. That worked well and turned out very nicely. It was much easier than I expected really. I had some idea that pecan pie was difficult to make, but this was really quite simple. 

I hope you enjoyed the list and see you tomorrow!

Happy Stitching,


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Stitching Update

I have a confession: I worked more on Box of Delights:

I rationalized it because I happened to be slicing cherries one night and they were staining my hands, and then the next night it was beet greens. I thought I'd rather have a stain show up on this one than on K. We're so good at rationalizing what we want to stitch, aren't we? 

I finished the second part with random threads again. Mostly WDW, but also some Dinky Dyes from an Oops pack. 

I did also progress on K though and I think finishing the stitching is possible by the end of July. I think there's 300 or so cross stitches left. That doesn't include the back stitch and beading because that will take a while. 

It is exciting to be so close to a finish and I can't wait to get this one complete. I really like how the hand-dyed threads complement each other in the wings. The darker Vintage Violet showcases the motifs under the wings and the lighter Hydrangea fills in other accents in the wings. There is a lighter colour yet, called Cloud and that is the majority of the remaining cross stitches. 

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Happy Stitching,


Thursday, June 25, 2015

30 Day Challenges Day 27 - 10 Projects to Finish This Year/Stitching Plans

I feel pretty good about what I've accomplished stitching wise this year, but I hope to complete a few more things before the year is out. Since the year is almost half over I'll make a list of what else I hope to accomplish this year. 

Stitching Plans - Top 10 WIPs I Want to Finish

1. K by Nora Corbett

I'm well on the way to finishing this one and I'll be happy when it finally gets finished. My friend was a huge help when I was pregnant and I'd love to give her this and the finished 'A'. I need one more box of beads for her skirt, but that's a ways away. I'm thinking I'll stick with this in June and see if I can crank out a finish.

2. Box of Delights

I'm really enjoying this one, but I'll try and put it down to work on K. I would like to finish this and maybe make it into a pillow for a co-worker. I'm not sure since I don't know if I can give this one up. :)

3. Dog Lessons by Lizzie Kate

This one is a pretty fun stitch as well and since I'm somewhat dedicating this year of stitching to our beloved basset that died last year, I'd love to add this to the finished stitching relating to him. 

4. Homeward Bound from Cross Stitch and Needlework

I must finish this one by November! It's a very overdue present for my Grandma, my last living grandparent, who will be 92 this year. She was 90 the year I had DD the day before her birthday and I had planned this for that birthday. It didn't happen, so I need to get this done this year. I will be seeing her near her birthday this year again and this needs to be framed/finished/complete/etc! 

5. The Good Life by Dimensions

I'm getting close to a finish on this one and I'd like to finish it since I've edited the chart to fit Otto a little better. Again, this would be one to finish in his memory and keep with us.

6. Ladyfee 2014 Xmas SAL

I'm looking forward to trying to finish this by Christmas so I can point to things on it for DD. There are lots of fun little Xmas parts to this design and I'd like to attempt finishing it as a long pillow. We don't have any of those and I think it would like nice on our couch. 

7. Midnight Manor by Waxing Moon Designs

I would love to finish this one by Halloween! It's a really fun design and I have some fun colours picked out for the different motifs. I can't wait to get back to it.

8.  Housework Never Killed Anyone by Lizzie Kate

This one so fits our lifestyle now with DD. It's something that we do the day before people come to visit, maybe. :) This should be in a prominent place so we can lower everyone's expectations when they visit. 

9. Song of the Weather SAL by Mabel Figworthy

I would also like to finish this one by November and give it to my Grandma as a Christmas gift. I'm stitching it on afghan fabric or Anne cloth (I've forgotten) and it should turn into a decent lap blanket. Hardanger is so relaxing to stitch, especially the Kloster blocks and I'm looking forward to actually finishing this SAL. I started it in 2013 and enjoyed it, but then we moved, and I was pregnant, and it never got completed. It's like an itch that I need to scratch :)

10. Sleigh Ride Stocking by Dimensions

I'm going to switch the fabric out and restart this one. I would love to finish it by Xmas for DD, that is the intended purpose of this one. It would be a hard slog, but I think if I switch the fabric it's possible. The included Aida was just so stiff it wasn't very fun to stitch with. I'm sure I have something close enough. 

So that's the plan, I hope I can complete at least half of these projects. I find I enjoy stitching a lot more if I don't set unreasonable goals like I used to. 

Happy Stitching,


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WIP Wednesday

If you've been following my lists challenge, that will start up again tomorrow. Somehow Kate and I got off track and I was ahead by a couple days, but now we're all even again. 

Here's my progress on K:

No significant change since Monday, but a shot of the entire piece this time. It's coming together quickly. I don't think the end of June is a good goal, but maybe if I get more time to stitch this weekend. 

And Boxes:

I've completed almost half of the outlines and I may fill in part 2 before I start the rest of the boxes. It's a fun, easy stitch and it's easy to pick up and do a box if I don't have a lot of stitching time. I don't even need the pattern now since I have a good template in front of me. 

I  hope everyone is having a good week!


Monday, June 22, 2015

IHSW - June Edition

I hope everyone had a great IHSW and/or Father's Day weekend. I worked a half day Saturday, but not Sunday as a surprise to DH and we all had a great day together. 

I even got some stitching done:

Box of Delights so far

And I picked up K again to work on. I would really like to finish her, and I was only continuing on Box to make sure I had the correct fabric size. Now that I know I will go back to some of my CJC pieces now and again instead of catching up to where everyone else is. 

I hope everyone had a great IHSW and don't forget to check on everyone else's progress at our friendly host Joyce's blog

Happy Stitching,


Friday, June 19, 2015

30 Day Challenges Day 26 - 10 Vehicles I've Driven/Owned

Some of these vehicles go way back, so if you're under 30, you may not have ever seen or heard of some of these "gems". 

Let's start the list with my first ever car that I owned instead of my parents:

1. '87 Buick Century

This is not my car, although I had exactly that colour. It was my maternal grandmother's car and had maybe 10K when I got it in '97. But it had been sitting in her garage not being driven for the previous 5 years. My grandma unwilling gave up her license when she ran into another car. It was parked at the time, and then she started to drive away at maybe 20km/hour. For those of you that think in mph, that's maybe 12.5 mph. 

2. '93 Chevrolet Lumina van

My parents purchased this in '93 or '94 and it was really exciting since it was our first new car in a long time. Ours was red, but it had that same long nose. It was nice, except there was a really large A-pillar and that blocked your view of traffic coming from the sides when you were turning on to a road. I never hit anyone, but it was close a few times. 

3. '77 Oldsmobile Delta 88

This is one of the vehicles I learned to drive on. Fortunately it wasn't the daily driver for me. I remember vividly driving it back from a hockey game on a country road and the dash lights didn't work anymore, so you couldn't see how fast you were going. It was a little eerie to just have the headlights working. The only way to see how fast you were going was to turn on a flashlight and look.

4. '12 Volkswagen Beetle

This is my current car and I love it! It's very fun to drive and has decent gas mileage as well. I'm a little over 50K miles at this point and it's still going strong. It even fits the baby seat in it fairly well. The back seat is roomy enough for adults. 

5. '98 GMC Sierra K2500

This isn't my truck, but we have the same colour. We still have this truck, and we call him Jake from the song "Good Ol' Reliable Jake" from the Evil Dead Musical. He's good for heavy lifting, including pulling up the stumps of some wicked vines we have in the yard, and bringing tons of cardboard, etc. to the dump. He needs a new body, he's rusting away, but the diesel engine is still in great shape. 

I used to use him as a daily driver when I had an hour commute if you can believe it. He has over 300K miles on him now. 

6. '01 Audi A4 wagon

This is DH's Audi A4 wagon. He loves driving it. I had to drive it for a few months before we got my Beetle and I had a lot of trouble at first because it's a manual and I hadn't driven a manual for a long time. It eventually came back to me, but not before I had 2 episodes of crying from frustration. If only there weren't so many hills where I work. 

7. '96 Toyota Camry

When my parents purchased this car, both my younger brother and I were driving and we'd fight over who got to drive this one. It was so nice! So much easier to drive than the Lumina van and I don't think I had my Grandma's car yet when we got this one. Plus, this one was a lot cushier than the base model Buick my Grandma owned. 

However, this car ended up with a lot of issues. We had the tires changed and I drove several hours to see DH. One of the tires lost pressure and a coil spring from the suspension punctured the tire. That was awesome and made me a day late returning to school. The same thing happened to my parents when they came to my graduation, only on the other side. Then my brother inherited this car and the same thing happened again. It was finally sent to the junkyard. 

8. '01 Ford Thunderbird

My mom bought this car with her inheritance from my Grandma. Mom visited her every week and she deserved to get something fun with her inheritance. She still has the car, but she doesn't drive it too much, although she has driven it out to see us before. It's a very fun car to drive and has a powerful engine. She's still on the fence if she's going to keep it or sell it now that she's getting older. 

9. '03 Ford Sport Trac

This was the first new vehicle I purchased on my own. I did have to have my dad co-sign the loan, but the payments were my responsibility. I got this shortly after I graduated school and had a job. It was great for moving because it had lots of tie-down areas, and fine for a short commute, but the mileage was terrible! If I was lucky I got 15mpg and that was in the summer. In winter it was below 14mpg. Ridiculous for such a small truck. It wasn't very stable either, I had to have 3 wheel bearings replaced, 2 on the drivers side and one on the passenger side and within the first 20K miles the differential seal on the 4 wheel drive leaked, and the entire driver's seat assembly had to be replaced. 

Basically this was a "Friday car". By that I mean that this wasn't put together well, likely by people wanting to get the heck out of work on a Friday afternoon. Some of the welds holding the truck bed to the frame weren't done properly and the bushing on the frame ended up going right through the cab. That meant when you hit a bump the truck wobbled like a bobble-head. It was great for my back... 

10. '78 Pontiac Trans Am

DH owned one of these for a while before we were married and it was such a fun car to ride in! I even drove it to a job interview that was over an hour away when DH couldn't get out of work to drive me. I managed the stick much easier than I did in the Audi. Of course, this car is not meant for short people and I was on the edge of the seat to get the clutch all the way in. I did it well though, and brought his baby back in one piece. 

We sadly had to sell it when we were out of money several years ago, but we hope to someday get another one. 

I hope you enjoyed the list, and tell me about your vehicles in the comments!

Happy Stitching,


Mischievous March Wrap-Up

I managed to start 5 projects this past month, even if I didn't get that much progress on any of them.  First up are the Sweet Annet sta...