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Sunday, February 12, 2012

lazy weekend morning

Inspired by Alicia's recent post about counted cross stitch (and the darling sampler kit she has in the works), I dug out my cross stitch supplies and got to work.

Cross stitch is the first craft I really embraced. The summer that we were 10, my best friend and I took a very dorky (but apparently quite inspiring) class called "X Marks the Spot." For years we always had a project or two going. Now it falls by the wayside to knitting much of the time, but once in a blue moon there's a cross stitch renaissance chez Caffeinated Yarn.

Compared to my usual knitting and crochet, cross stitch is amazingly affordable, compact, and easy to store. I love the wide palette of colors. On the minus side, it's hard to know what exactly to do with the finished products, which are generally purely decorative. You can't exactly cuddle up in a cross stitch sampler on a cold, wintry day as you would with a cozy afghan or a handknit sweater.
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I'm making plans to spruce up our flat a bit. A paint color has been chosen for my study:
bird's egg, by benjamin moore

Some cute nesting boxes to organize office and craft supplies just arrived in the post:


Saturday, February 04, 2012

to everything there is a season

With a heavy heart I said a final farewell to my grandmother last week. She had been failing for a while, and we knew that her time was limited, so I booked a flight for last weekend to say good-bye. Sadly, this did not come to pass, and we ended up driving across the Wisconsin woods and Minnesota prairies for a funeral instead. I should have taken pictures of the fantastic icicles dripping down the bluffs along the Mississippi River, or the surreal image of hundreds of windmills dotting the prairie, or even the thick fog rolling across the snowy fields.

Seeing family and friends was a comfort, as was sharing favorite memories. Good-bye, Grandma Max -- we'll miss you, your ever-present smile, and the twinkle in your eye, but we know that you lived a good, long life.
She loved to make quilts, and she made a handmade quilt for each of her children, as well as her grandchildren. She also embroidered many towels. She enjoyed canning pickles. While a resident of Tuff Nursing Home, she enjoyed playing cards, especially “Kings in a Corner” with her daughter. She will be remembered by her family and friends for her delicious sugar cookies, as well as for her homemade lefse. 
Grandma Max was a hard worker, as all farmers are -- driving tractor, cleaning the cream separator, butchering chickens, feeding the barn cats, crocheting slippers, and baking up a storm. Her sugar cookie recipe truly is legendary. These cookies are short and crisp -- quite unlike garden-variety sugar cookie cut-outs.

Grandma Maxine's Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup white (granulated) sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups + 1 tablespoon flour

- Cream sugars and butter; add eggs, then oil and vanilla.
- Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Chill overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll spoonfuls into small balls, then drop on cookie sheet, and press with a glass that has been dipped in white sugar.
- Baking time depends on thickness of cookies. Don't let them get brown, just a hint at the edges!
- Makes about 3 dozen.