28 January 2010

Keeping up the Practice

un uccello testa rossa
a red head bird

It has been a challenge to find time every day to devote to my New Years goals. I keep my embroidery in a basket close to my desk for impromptu stitches. The other day I stitched this little bird during a fifteen minute phone conversation....
....and speaking of phone conversations.
I had a most rewarding phone conversation/consultation with
Stacey Cornellus of thestudiosource.com.
Stacey writes a creative marketing blog that will help you "manage the business side of your creativity." She is warm and approachable and offered me great advice on how to market my talents and take the steps that will help me establish myself and my brand in a very competitive market.

Stacey's blog is full of helpful suggestions and interesting ideas. For the self employed creative business person The Studio Source offers a place for sharing information and improving your business sense....Thank you Stacey for providing that service...CHECK IT OUT!
...and with that being said...there are winds of change in the air and exciting new ideas ahead!

23 January 2010

Cross Stitch Fruit Basket

Cesto di frutta punto croce
cross stitch fruit basket

Resolution #1, Project #1....Antique Embroidery Inspiration....tiny 2X4 inch fruit basket motif cross stitch..Mission Accomplished!

After many hours of frustration stitching tiny crosses through tiny holes, trips to Joann's for bigger needles and linen with bigger holes, Internet research on making the perfect cross stitch, I have finally found my embroidery groove...YIPPEE!
Through the power of perseverance, confusion turns to understanding and the rows begin to roll out one by one, designing as I go...25 red stitches become an apple, 58 yellow and you have a pear, the orange and grapes unfold before my eyes!
Looking back over my canvas I see mistakes I made, on the pear I decided to switch direction and in so doing the stitches picked up a different texture. This mistake taught me that you could create texture and that may give me the ability to mold my next image. I will always look back as this piece of cross stitch as my FIRST piece of cross stitch and in so doing will be able to see how far I have come. It all about the process.

18 January 2010

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

dolce cagnolino
sweet little dog

I have been trying my hardest to part with this little velveteen dog but it seems that she has worked her way into my heart...and there she sits as if she has just jumped out of this folk art painting that also worked its way into my heart....parting with "things" can be such sweet sorrow...and that is a problem when your purpose is to buy and re-sell "things". The sweet part of the sorrow is the possibility of doubling your money....sometimes "the thing" wins!
I am not a hoarder by any means. It is very easy for me to rid myself of the unused and greatly used household items and clothes I have grown tired of. I love to clean my closet every season..it is so refreshing.
....but I am a sucker for anything quirky, well loved, the right shade of blue, pink and gold, Staffordshire, pin cushion, antique litho anything, small wood handled tools (more about that in another post), ancient patchwork and embroidery, ephemera...have I covered it all?...OH!! I almost forgot ...buttons, trim, fabric (vintage and antique of course). My collections inspire me and feed my passion for "the treasure hunt"...you never know what you may find around the next corner or on the next page of Ebay listings...somehow that always keeps me going.

What is on your treasure hunt map?

11 January 2010

Green Lentils

verde lenticchie
green lentils

I have been searching for green lentils, affordable green lentils, forever. I have only found them twice in the last couple of years and both times resisted buying them because they were $5 a pound and when you are staring at the plain old ordinary brown lentils for around $1 a pound...I am afraid the less exotic variety wins out.

Recently we went on our annual pre-Christmas specialty grocery store shop and when I spotted those expensive green lentils on the shelf I threw them into the basket so fast your head would spin, you see I was feeling rather flush with my Neiman Marcus holiday pay in hand.

I knew that once I tasted the difference that there would be no turning back...and I was right!

My first taste of French green lentils was of course in France. They provided a luscious base for a mixed grill of baby goat..another thing I am not likely to find anytime soon.

The other night while trying to come up with a good alternative to potatoes, rice or pasta (husband is on the no carbs kick again) I decided that green lentils were the perfect match for a lamb stew.

I consulted my new kitchen bible:

French Provincial Cooking
Elizabeth David

Her basic recipe is very simple...soaking the lentils for an hour helps but is not necessary.

For 1/2 pound of lentils
Cover with water and soak for one hour
Drain and put into a saucepan
Add 2 1/2 cups water
Bring to boil
Simmer for 1 hour 15 min or until tender

At this point you can use your imagination. She suggests adding a cup of stock and continue to simmer until it is absorbed. I added a bit of pan drippings left from sauteing the lamb along with some beef stock. She also suggests serving with the French classic, Maitre D'Hotel Butter, which is basically 2 oz of butter that has been worked together with 1 T of finely chopped parsley and a few drops of lemon juice. This can be made a head and kept chilled.

assolutamente delizioso!
absolutely delicious!

The next night I used the left over lentils as a side for roasted Italian sausage and sauteed rapini with garlic, once again adding the pan juices from the sausage to liven the lentils.


The taste of green lentils is not quite as earthy as brown lentils, a bit fresher tasting and worth every penny spent!

Lentils are my new food passion...do you have any recipes to share?

07 January 2010

The Stool

lo sgabello
the stool

This is the needlepoint stool that I bought on Ebay. I am in love with the bright cheerful pattern. Around the edge is embroidered:

Ruth Emery
Feb 1973
Mulberry Drive

The seller listed this stool as an antique dated 1873. The actual stool I am sure is an antique, the needlepoint obviously on closer inspection is not but the two pieces make a perfect match. I believe the stool is quite old judging from the nails and type of construction...and if I had that Appraisal Certificate I could have my own personal Antiques Roadshow moment.

You can see how inspiring this little work of art is and I think the antique silk shoes purchased from Big Fish Lil Pond, the Etsy shop of my niece extraordinaire, Natalie, complete the picture.

06 January 2010

Gray Grey Grigio

fredda e grigia

cold and grey

Not a good day for picture taking....or as it turned out... anything else that was not a CHORE!
You can start the day with such good intentions and then as my Mom (by way of John Lennon) always says...Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.....so besides:

1. packing and shipping 22 Ebay items including a 17 pound accordion (don't ask)
2. cleaning up after a sick dog...room to room including bottom of shoe
3. attempting to "easily" pay a bill online with a forgotten password...20 minutes later no bill was paid
4. rearranging the storage space to fit the Christmas decorations back in...I thought there was an empty shelf there?
5. meet husband down front with the cart to bring up the groceries...well at least I did not have to go to the grocery...whew...
6. trying to explain to my Mom why I have not finished her friend Helen's quilt

ahhhh...what was I talking about?????

Goals tomorrow:

make some cross stitches
finish Helen's quilt
learn how to say "This is fun!"...in Italian

What kept you from your one hour of creativity today?

05 January 2010

Antique Embroidery Inspiration Project #1

I adore cucito.
I adore needlework

I love this little fragment of antique embroidery and have decide to make this my first counted cross stitch project...well...I guess I should say I will "attempt" this project. I have been practicing all week on a scrap to try and develop my rhythm.

Over the holidays I made my first attempt on a fine piece of Zweigart Swiss linen that I bought on Etsy with no idea how to even do counted cross stitch and nearly gave up. I made a trip to Joann Fabrics and found a sturdy piece of linen with holes that were much easier to see and also...the key...a magnifier..and now I am on a roll.

The needlework underneath is actually a tiny little antique footstool that I found on ebay the week that I was on vacation (am I the only person that peruses Ebay while on vacation?). My mind was full of needlework ideas once the bug hit. I will post more pictures of the stool tomorrow...it has a bit of a mystery behind it.

04 January 2010

Resolution #2 Underway

Fa molto freddo a Chicago!
Its very cold in Chicago

With the help of my new friend virtual friend Marcello, (you can find him here):


I am going to start learning Italian! My plan is to introduce a few words and phrases a week. Last week I learned Vorrei una tazza di caffè...."I would like a cup of coffee". Forget Rosetta Stone...I have Marcello and he is FREE....Sono così eccitato!

(Sorry... I tried to create a link to Marcello but it wasn't working so you will have to copy and paste the link to find my man)

01 January 2010

Nuovi anni di risoluzioni 1.1.2010

Ahhhhh.... the sound of crunching pine needles under my feet on the living room floor can only mean one thing... the tree is dead and 2009 has bit the dust...and for those two things I am very happy.

I have maintained, for a number of years, that my favorite day of the year is December 26th and my next favorite day is January 1. I love fresh starts. I love clean slates. I love setting goals and dedicating space for those goals in my everyday life.

Last year my goal was to devote an hour everyday to collage a 6X6 square as part of a daily visual journal. It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done mostly because it became a meditation and helped me stay centered and think inward. There was no outward goal just an inner satisfaction. I stayed with the practice until September when I made the decision that I wanted to take that hour that I had set aside everyday and turn it more outward and open my Etsy shop, something I had talked about doing for a couple of years.

I think setting aside time and disciplining yourself to stick with it will help grow what ever passion pulls your heart strings, whether it is personal or business inspired...making time is key. So with that being said I am setting aside my one hour a day this year to explore 3 things:

Learning to speak Italian
Getting a Certificate in Appraisal Studies in Fine and Decorative Arts

...and I will let you know how that goes...what are you going to do with your hour?