Un-Productive

OhMyGosh.  I need to post just to get that Happy New Year greeting by Winston to move down a bit.  Holy Smokes — the year is getting away from me already, and we’ve barely started.

To be fair, our year hasn’t started off great.  BigDaddy had a fender bender just after my last post.  He’s fine and was lucky to land with only a few broken ribs and a broken nose.  I know it’s awful of me to say it, but the raccoon look was kind of cute on him!  He was in the hospital for a few days and now he’s in a rehab center — mostly just to learn how to get around a little better and to help the soreness wear off.  It’s meant a lot of time shuffling MeMum back and forth and visiting.  Good thing I have my Trip Around the World to keep me busy — I toss it in my little basket and it’s a great portable project — even though it’s getting big now.  I’m on row 36, but these last rows are so slow, I’ll be lucky to be on row 40 by this time next year!

Thimbleanna: TAW

My basket makes me feel like Little Red Riding Hood, which is perfect since a bunch of Little Red Riding Hood fabric has arrived this week.  I’ve started a little project featuring Little Red and Grandma — that  Grandma is just too darn cute!  It’s the Little Red line by Cori Dantini and I love it!  I have big plans for her, but I’m waiting on some more of the fabric before I can keep working on this little quilt.

Thimbleanna: Little Red

And there’s another Little Red fabric out — Moda has a new line called Lil’ Red by Stacy Iest Hu.

Thimbleanna: Little Red

Look at that cute wolfie.  He’s just full of love, isn’t he LOL???  I don’t have a plan for this line yet, but I’m sure something will happen sooner or later.  I do have one fat quarter pack left though, and it’s in my etsy shop, in case any of you are interested.  Lots of cute coordinating prints!

Thimbleanna: Little Red

And finally, I was very sad to read that Alan Rickman passed away this week.  So many of you posted on Instagram about his movie Truly Madly Deeply and now I really want to see it.  I can’t find anywhere to rent it though — if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  I also saw this picture on a blog — even though he never really said the “Always” quote that so many people attribute to him, I love the sentiment.  If only it truly could be 1946 – Always.

Thimbleanna: Rickman

Ok kiddies. I hope your January is proving more productive than mine. At least our days are getting longer, right?
Have a great weekend!
XOXO,
Anna

Happy New Year!

Well, I’m a little late to the party, but Happy New Year! Our usual tradition is for the kitties to wish you a Happy New Year, but they’ve been traumatized by 10 days worth of the adorable Winston and there was no way they were going to pose for a picture. So, Winston, the perfect, always happy dog, would like to wish you a Happy New Year.

Thimbleanna: Winston

TheFirstChild, SweetiePie and Winston just left to go back home and we’re going to miss them — after we rest up. Whew – I’m tired! It sure was fun though — especially the dog walks with Winston. He’s just too cute!

We have two other New Year Traditions around here. The first is to put a gingerbread house or two out for the birds and squirrels. So far, we haven’t had any takers, but we’ll see. It’s so sad to put them out there without any snow — usually our January is white and wintery!

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread

And the other tradition is to look back at 2015 and create a little collage of the year in sewing, knitting and travel. I don’t get as much done as a lot of you, but it sure was a fun year!

Thimbleanna: 2015

So, now, on to a new year. A clean slate. I love all the dreaming and planning that comes with a new year. I’m hoping to plan some new projects and maybe finish an old one in the next few weeks. I can’t wait to see what 2016 will hold for all of us — with a new grandbaby on the way, our year promises to be exciting. Wishing all of you a Healthy and Happy 2016!

XOXO,
Anna

Gingerbread Houses 2015

Hello Hello!  Thank you for all the happy comments about the new baby — you’re all so sweet!  We’re super excited and looking forward to a fun new year!

So.  How was it?  Did you all (who celebrate!) have a good Christmas?  We had a great time.  All the kids were home for Christmas this year and everyone came to our house.  There was lots of cooking, eating. visiting and playing games.  And in the middle of it all, on Christmas Eve, we had our Annual (well, except for last year when we were on the road) Gingerbread Competition.  It gets tougher every year to come up with new ideas, but somehow, this little family manages to surprise us every time.  So, let’s get down to business!

We sort of had a tie for last place and for first place this year, with one in the middle.  Sharing the spot for last place was the little house by TheManofTheHouse and me.  We didn’t really have a theme, so we just did a traditional candy house and at the last minute, threw in a zip-lining guy because I went zip-lining for the first time last August in Montana.  We built a rock chimney on the back of the house, put wreaths on the front and back, and had one lone pine tree to support the zip line.

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread House

Sharing the back-of-the-pack berth with us was CuteNiece2 and her boyfriend.  She’s a certified yoga instructor and she came prepared with gingerbread people all cut out in yoga poses.  So Darn Clever!  There was a yoga person for Triangle, Three-Legged Dog, Down Dog, and Wheel.  Check out the Three-Legged Dog guy with his little yoga block.  They very cleverly had a stack of yoga mats and another stack of yoga blocks.  I loved that CuteNiece2 gave her house so much thought and came prepared.  The only reason this cute little house didn’t get some votes is because the competition was so stiff this year — in another year, this house would have been a winner!

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread House

CuteNiece1 and MyDadLovesMeBestSister came ready to win too!  CuteNiece1 worked at a farm last summer and loved it, so they decided to make her farm.  Their attention to detail was fantastic!  They had chickens with a chicken coop, pigs, compost bins along the side of the farm, a tractor, and veggies in rows behind the barn (complete with veggies growing on a pretzel trellis running down the middle of the garden).  Very, Very Cute!

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread House

CrazyBIL, CuteNephew, and TheSecondChild always get very creative and end up carving the gingerbread to suit whatever they’ve designed.  This year they decided to go with a political theme (which was a bit risky — we’re a family divided along political lines, so we avoid politics at all costs!) and poke a bit of fun by creating a Trump Tower.  At the beginning, it looked like they were going to have to withdraw when their tower collapsed, but they recovered and did a great job.  Trump is welcoming all of his followers (complete with golden comb-overs LOL) to Trump Tower.  There’s also a wall to keep aliens out, but they’re scaling the wall anyway.  And, in keeping with their habit of somewhat gory houses, there’s an alien who fell to his death from the top of the wall, and Hillary is hanging from the side of Trump Tower.  And, do notice the special cereal dollar signs on the side of the tower.

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread House

Trump Tower tied for the first place vote and we had to have a run-off vote.  I think Trump Tower was winning for creativity, but the final winner was the ADORABLE little PINK house by SweetiePie and TheFirstChild.  I knew they had a little girl house up their sleeves when SweetiePie produced piles of pink candy at the start of the competition.  She’s mastered the art of decorative frosting — what a super cute house!  And a perfect way to remember the exciting month we’ve had in finding out that the new baby will be a GIRL!  Look at the cute little Mom, Dad and Baby, standing at the front door.  Congratulations to SweetiePie and TheFirstChild!!!

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread House

So, there you go.  Another fun year with the Gingerbread Houses.  Thanks for sticking to the end and reading all the details.

And, btw, did we tell you? …

Thimbleanna: Gingerbread House

LOL!

XOXO,
Anna

Merry Christmas!

It’s here!  Can you believe it?  Christmas is here already!  Did you make it?  I managed mostly.  I knew when I said a few weeks ago that I wasn’t planning to knit or sew anything this year, that comment would be a mistake.  No sooner did those words fly off of this keyboard, than I saw something I wanted to knit for gifts.  I made a valiant attempt, but didn’t get all of them done.  That’s what the break between Christmas and New Year’s will be for and I’ll try and show you if I manage to get them done.

The shopping is all done, the gifts are all wrapped, and most importantly, the cookies are made.  Just in time for my traditional Christmas Eve breakfast!  We’re having our annual gingerbread competition later today too.  I’ve already heard at least two people say they’re going to win this year, so it should be lots of fun.

Thimbleanna: Cookies

So hey. Totally unrelated to Christmas (but I’ll throw in a Christmas related photo or two lol), but do you loooong-time readers remember this photo that I posted years ago when TheFirstChild and SweetiePie were just starting their new lives as a married couple? I took this picture of them as they walked away from us and inadvertently caught this sign in the shot with them. It was a happy accident as the big job of building a new life together was just beginning.

Thimbleanna: White Coat

Well, now, they’re doing another kind of construction. Well, mostly SweetiePie is doing all the work and a new baby will be joining our little family in June. Eeeeeek!!!! We’re all beside ourselves with joy! The first grandchild. The first great-grandchild. The first child of the new generation. There may have been tears and jumping up and down when they told us. And I’m not just talking about TheManoftheHouse. It’s so cute how my nieces are so excited that we’ll soon have a baby in the family again.

Thimbleanna: Pink Ornaments

Poor SweetiePie, she’s been sick, sick, sick for several months.  Just when it seems to be letting up, it hits her again.  Her energy is starting to return though, so I’m hoping the rest of it (notice how I’m sparing you the gory details – you’re welcome!) will soon clear up too.

Thimbleanna: Pink Ornaments

And, are you clued into my little Christmas ornament subliminal message??? It’s … a … GIRL! Be. Still. My. Heart. Pink Sewing LOL! Smocking!  I’m thinking that pretty little pile of Liberty will keep me busy for awhile. Oh, the excitement!
Anyway, all that good stuff will have to wait a bit longer — we have the holidays upon us. Wishing you all a very VERY Merry Christmas — full of love, laughs, and lots of cookies!

XOXO,
Anna

Easy Oven-Baked Beef Stew

WooHoo! Here we are with less than a week to go — are we all pulling our hair out yet???

I still have a ton of stuff to do — same as every other year LOL. And every other year has taught me that it will all get done. And I guess what doesn’t get done wasn’t that important anyway. I still have baking, decorating the real tree, and wrapping to do. How ’bout you?

Thimbleanna: Giftwrap

I was checking my blog and it’s been a loooong time since I had a recipe here and I have a perfect one for this busy time of year. Several years ago I stopped into our very cool little used book store here in town and found myself in the cookbook section. They had a copy of a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook and the recipes looked so good, I just couldn’t pass it up. Most of the recipes are for the special occasions that we celebrate during the holidays, but there are also a lot of recipes that are fairly quick — for those days when we’re just so busy that there’s not a lot of time to cook.

I found an interesting recipe for beef stew in the “Easy Everyday Meals” section of the cookbook.  I almost didn’t try this recipe because the ingredients just seemed too basic (and frankly, a little weird) for a beef stew. But I’m so glad I did. I make it a lot now during the winter — I put it in the oven around lunchtime and it’s ready just in time for dinner. And, it’s perfect for a day of gift wrapping or tree decorating!

Thimbleanna: Beef Stew

Oven-Baked Beef Stew

2 pounds top round steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 stalks celery, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
6 small round red potatoes, quartered
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onion
1 (7-oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca, uncooked
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups tomato juice

Combine all ingredients in a roaster (a cast iron pot or Le Creuset pan works great), stirring well. Cover and bake at 250 degrees for 5 hours. Serves 6.

Thimbleanna: Beef Stew

We love to have ours with a cheddar biscuits. There are lots of recipes for cheddar biscuits out there, but, since I usually make this stew on a busy day, we like to use the Red Lobster biscuit mixes — I hope you can find them in your neck of the woods!

Ok … good luck! Hope you have a very productive last weekend before Christmas!
XOXO,
Anna