Baby Boat!

April 26, 2009

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I had a VERY busy week at work last week. I’m a special education teacher, working in early intervention (with children under the age of three). My school has a fantastic program that provides both center-based therapy as well as twice weekly home visits. This means that twice a week after school I go to a student’s house and work with his family to ensure that the supports we use at school can be used in the home, as well. Two weeks ago, my student was sick with an ear infection, so this week I did 3 home visits. That’s just a lot of extra time that left no time for stitching or blogging.

However, I was able to finish a book that, honestly, I didn’t like very much. (Don’t worry, no spoilers past what’s on the back cover) It’s called The Children’s Hospital, and it’s about a hospital that survives as basically the second Noah’s Arc. Somehow I missed that the author, in addition to being an MD, is studying Theology. I was simply not interested in a lot of the religious/spiritual themes that were running through the book. I also just didn’t care for the fact that alternate chapters were written in the perspective of an Angel. It just wasn’t my kind of book.


In the spirit of this book, though, the needlepoint I will share with you today is one that I really didn’t stitch much of. My mom made this piece for a friend’s baby. I helped her by suggesting/stitching the parts that were not continental, including the wooden boat planks, the vine stitch on the trim of the bear’s shirt, the braided rope, and the beads for the eyes. I think my mom did a fantastic job on the rest of the piece, and I know the family LOVED it!


Noni’s Needlepoint Part 1

April 20, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother, Noni, was the one who taught me to needlepoint. Some of my strongest memories of my grandmother and me from when I was little are of sitting at her feet while she stitched fabulous works. I was always amazed at her patience and how beautiful the final pieces were.

Her entire house was decorated in her needlepoints, and they were all stunning. She stitched only in a continental stitch, and rarely used anything other than perl cotton. She loved Asian-inspired designs, but stitched a wide variety of styles. I have a catalogue of all of her pieces that I will share with you eventually, but in this post I want to share with you a piece we did together.

Several years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers. She and my grandfather lived in Florida for a few years, and her disease progressed more rapidly than most. Finally, the family all decided that everyone would be better off if my grandparents moved back near the family in NJ. When they were packing up the Florida house, my dad and his brother found 2 unfinished needlepoints that my grandmother had purchased. One she had started, the other she had not even bought the threads for yet. As the only stitcher in the family, I inherited these pieces was very honored to be able to complete them for my grandmother.


Before she became to sick to continue, my grandmother stitched almost all of the flowers and leaves. I finished the instruments and sheet music for her, and added the background. My grandmother always stitched her initials into the pieces she completed, so in this one I stitched both her initials (CK) and mine (MK) onto the music.

My grandfather was so touched by this piece, that he wanted it hung above his bed. It stayed there until he passed away. It now hangs above my grandmothers bed. I am happy every time I see it hanging in her room because I know it’s something special that we were able to do together.

The other piece my grandmother and I made “together” I will share with you another time. I have to wait to post about it because I don’t have a quality picture of it framed yet, but I promist I will share it soon.

Don’t be sad, ’cause 1 out of 4 ain’t bad

April 19, 2009

But it ain’t as good as 2 out of 3.

Yesterday, I hung 1 of the 4 needlepoints that had been living on the floor of my room. I finally put the city up above my “kitchen table” (read: parents bridge table and chairs). I still have my cross stitch, my butterfly, and a cross stitch my sister-in-law gave me to hang up. I just can’t decide where to put them!

I did succeed in helping a friend with his decorating needs, though. My friend bought his own place maybe 2 years ago? When he moved in, he started painting his room a light blue color, with a dark blue trim. This was a definite necessity, because the previous owner had a bright pink room. For some reason, he never completely finished the project — it looked fine, but he was missing the finishing touches. Then, a few weeks ago, he decided to abandon that color scheme altogether and try something new. I’ve never painted before, so I told him I would help him out.


When I arrived at his place last night around 5:30, he had 3 green colors painted in patches on his wall. He was trying to decide between them, with his plan being to paint the walls green and the trim beige. The greens he was deciding between were all very nice colors but they were VERY dark, so I suggested he paint the walls beige, with one green accent wall, then do the trim in green.  He seemed to like that idea, so we went back to the store and bought the paints! The colors he chose were the green and beige to the far left in the picture. We were ready to go!

We finally started painting around 8:30, and we finished almost one wall with the primer before I started to get sleepy around 930. I know, I know, that’s far too early for a Saturday night, but…I have no good excuse. So, I left him to continue on for a little bit more, and he reports to me that he finished the wall and started on the next one before the fumes started to get to him and he almost fell off of his step ladder. WHOOPS!

(here is a picture of the wall half-painted with primer…note the Christmas tree I gave him for his first Christmas in his condo…why it’s out in April I don’t know, but it’s cute!)


If Bugs don’t make you hop, you’re buggin’

April 17, 2009

Anyone recognize the quote from the Space Jam soundtrack? Anyone else actually own the Space Jam soundtrack? Yeah, I didn’t think so…

Okay, so maybe the “Bugs” in the quote is Bugs Bunny, but this post is all about the other kind of bugs. That’s right, today I’m featuring 2 insect needlepoints.

This dragonfly I made for my cousin for her high school graduation two years ago. She really loves dragonflies…so much so that she tattooed one onto her hip. When I saw this piece a few months before her graduation, I knew I had to pick it up and stitch it for her.

First, the unframed photo


And now the framed version. I LOVE how this one was framed. My cousin’s favorite colors are purple and teal, so the coloring of the dragonfly and the frame really brought out those colors.


My next and last bug piece was either the second or third needlepoint I ever made. I remember seeing this in the store and loving the background, but the colors in the butterfly were just not my taste at all. I like vibrant colors, and the muted tones the artist had painted just didn’t work for me. I remember my mom and I running around the store finding suitable replacement colors, growing more excited about the possible finished project with each new skein.

I know my grandmother never changed a color an artist drew. She believed that there was a reason for each color chosen, and she wanted to be true to the artists intentions. I have to respectfully disagree with her. Although I hold the highest respect for an artist who paints a beautiful canvas, I think the stitcher need to make the canvas her own. This can be done through creative stitching or changing the color palatte. There are many pieces where I love the design but the colors just don’t work for me, and I’d rather buy a piece with a gorgeous design and change the colors than pass on expertly crafted work.

Okay, enough with the rant. Picture time.


Although you can’t really tell from this picture, the black in the butterfly and some of the silver are stitched in Kreinik. Currently, the frame is living on the floor of my bedroom, because I still haven’t decided where to hang all of my pictures in my apartment (I moved in Jan 1). Maybe my goal tomorrow will be to hang EVERYTHING.

Hearts :-)

April 14, 2009

Being a Valentine’s Day baby, I have always had a fondness for hearts. I can’t explain exactly why, but it might have something to do with the fact that as a child, I thought the whole world was celebrating my birthday. So, in this installment, I will share with you two heart needlepoints I completed a few years ago.


This piece I did as part of the first class I ever took. This was actually the first time I learned about stitches other than the traditional continental. I promise a post about this later, but I learned to needlepoint from my grandmother. Though a talented stitcher, she never strayed from the continental stitch, so I didn’t even know that others existed when I started to needlepoint.


This class focused on Shadow Stitching, which are stitches that allow the underlying canvas to show through. As you can see in this piece, the dragon, and the city, shadow stitches can really enhance a painted canvas when different colors blend together. A single color shadow stitch can look very different over the different shades of the painted canvas.This piece used a different shadow stitch for each heart. In addition, the background was a repeated pattern of hearts. I chose to stitch the hearts alternating between one thread and two. It creates a very subtle intricacy to the background.

Through a little detective work, I discovered that the book we used to get the stitches can be found here.


The other heart piece is one I found on sale at the store and absolutely fell in love with!

This one shows off how different threads and bring a piece to life (and it was also my first time working with beads!)


The top half of the heart is stitched in Splendor silk, with BEADS! The bottom red is Very Velvet, and the white is a shiny ribbon-ish thread that was a pain to work with but gives of an unbeleiveable shine! The love is in another ribbon-y thread, but this time with a metallic wave going through.

My hardest decision with this piece was how to do the area surrounding the heart. I didn’t want to do continental – BORING. I thought about using the heart background in my other piece, but I thought that would be too much. I couldn’t think of a suitable large stitch, so I finally settles on leaving it bare, then adding a border in the Splendor. I love the way the large black mat and silver frame add a dramatic effect to central heart.

Happy 2-months after Valentine’s Day everyone. Only 10 months until my next birthday (AHHHH!)

Potato Lasagna

April 12, 2009

On Wednesday, I made potato pizza and shared them with my family. Today, I made potato lasagna for 1.

I had the idea for the lasagna when I was slicing the potatoes for the pizza and realized that if I shaved them really thin, they are flexible and noodle-like. So, when I had 2 potatoes left over, I decided that potato lasagna was a must for later in the week.


1 potato, cut into super-thin slices using a peeler

1/3 cup mozzerella cheese

3/4 cup-ish tomato sauce

Parmasan cheese to taste


Preheat the oven to 375.

I used a small loaf pan to build my lasagna, which was the perfect size for one potato.

Simply layer the potato, sauce, and cheese like you would a regular lasagna.

Bake for 30 minutes…..or longer. I baked mine for 30 minutes but the potatoes came out just a bit too al dente. I think another 5-10 minutes and they would have been PERFECT!


Note that while this is not a small dish, the plate below is a salad plate


Though it could have used a few more minutes, this was pretty delicious and something I would definitely make again any time of the year.

Oh, and as for the other potato I had left after making the pizzas…it took an unfortunate dive into the trash while I was trying to peel it. Whoops!!

Finishing in record time

April 11, 2009

Yesterday, I finished the cross stitch I started the day before. That is definitely my record for speed in finishing a piece. I LOVE SPRING BREAK!!!!

Here is the piece after part 2. You can compare it to the original here


And the finished product… (original)


And a little close up of the bottom left corner. My camera isn’t quite blog-worthy, so I figured a close-up was warranted to show the details