January 31, 2019

The Farmhouse Is Calling...

Brynwood Needleworks - "Home" Cushion Available At Jo-Ann Fabrics (Sarasota, FL)
"Home" is (for me) wherever Handsome is, but the farmhouse is calling - and I have obligations back at the farmhouse.

When we left Wisconsin together, Handsome and I planned to return this week. However, once we got here and Handsome got back to rehearsals and concerts, those bands asked him if he could finish out the season (through April). Of course, I encouraged him to stay and do what he loves with people he really enjoys.

The only thing was that I had only set everything in Wisconsin on "auto pilot" through the end of the month. There are things that now will require my attention, and I can't handle that from Florida. (I'm missing doing what I love in the studio, too.) 
So, I've rented a mid-size SUV, packed up my things and Tag, and we're back on the road as of early this morning. Bella will stay here with my dear husband, as plans have been made for more training days with Mike (Mike Sommers Sporting Dogs).

We've watched the weather, and by the time we arrive back at Hickory Hill Farm, the temperature should be a "balmy" 35º. I'm sure the snow will remain until spring, but I can help the birds and opossums by restocking the feeders, which I'm sure they've emptied by now. I made sure they'd found it before we left.)

I'll stop north of Atlanta late today, mid-Illinois by tomorrow, and home during daylight hours on Saturday...as long as everything goes by the book. I'd appreciate prayers (or good thoughts, if you don't pray) as I make my way across our beautiful (albeit, chilly) country. I'll give you an update tomorrow.


January 30, 2019

RSN Butterfly Progress...

Brynwood Needleworks - RSN Butterfly Progress
Today I'm sharing two views of the same parts of my Royal School of Needlework butterfly project. I added the second view for a different perspective of the silk thread shading.

Now that these parts are complete, I'll begin work on the left side. I'm packing today, preparing to return to Wisconsin. I'll be driving on Thursday morning, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. For now, I'm going to enjoy finishing this much of my butterfly.


January 29, 2019

Tuesdays With Tag - Playin' At The Ranch...

Brynwood's Taggart - Kennel Boy

Hi, Everybody!!

No. I'm not incarcerated. I'm waitin' my turn to get out and do a little fetchin' at Uncle Mike's ranch. Dad, Mom, Black Dog and I drove over for a workout day on Friday. Man, did we have fun!

Brynwood Needleworks - Workin' The Black Dog

Dad and Mom watched while Uncle Mike worked a bunch of great huntin' dogs - Labradors, pointers, English cocker spaniels, and even a Hungarian Viszla! Everybody did a great job fetchin' and swimmin'. Dad worked our very own Boo, and I had to cheer at her skill and speed. She's almost as fast as me!

Brynwood's Taggart - The Fetchin' Blur

See that blur about a mile away in this picture? Yep. That's my very own self. Mom took me out into a field where the other dogs weren't working, because we didn't want them to get jealous watchin' me.

Brynwood's Taggart - My Thousandth Fetch

I swear I did about a thousand retrieves, exhibitin' my usual style and unique flair. You'd have been impressed. I just know it! Consider it trainin' for that ball boy position (which they still haven't offered me)!

Brywood Needleworks - Handsome, Uncle Mike & The Black Dog

We didn't stay at the ranch as long as we usually do. It was Uncle Mike's Birthday, so we wrapped up trainin' early and headed back to their house so Mom and Dad could celebrate with him and Miss Joann.

Boo and I stayed home with their pups, Jib (a stylish and friendly yellow Labrador lady), and Becca (the sweetest, little black English cocker spaniel this side of the Grand Canyon! They were great hostesses!

We all had fun and can't wait to get together again this summer (probably in San Antonio, TX where Bella's fiance' lives). Uncle Mike said there is a little of puppies in her future. I can't wait. I looooove puppies! Much more on that later as we have more details.

 I'll see you again in seven, 'til then...
"Live Like Someone Left The Gate Open".

January 28, 2019

Fun, Friends and Music...

Brynwood Needleworks - Ronan Tynan and Bill Lewis Performed at St. Christopher's Cathedral in Hobe Sound, FL

Handsome and I packed up an overnight bag, Tag and Bella, and headed across the state to see dear friends on Friday. We spent the day training dogs (or watching, in my case), and then went back to Sommers' home. It was Mike's Birthday, so we were most pleased to be able to celebrate with him and his wife.

We went to see Dr. Ronan Tynan perform with accompanist Bill Lewis at St. Christopher's Cathedral in Hobe Sound (on the East coast of FL). If you aren't familiar with Ronan, he performed most recently at the funeral of his dear friend, President H.W. Bush. He spent part of the evening speaking about their friendship, the last time they were together, and then he sang one of the pieces he sang at the President's funeral - The Lord's Prayer. It was a truly delightful performance.

Following the concert, we went to one of Mike and Joann's favorite restaurants for a delicious, late night dinner. Then we went back to their home, continued our visit, and then turned in for the night. We drove back to Bradenton on the West coast mid-morning.

I know I told you I'd finish my butterfly wing on Saturday, but by the time we got back, I just didn't feel like stitching. I felt more like napping, so I went with it and slothed about the rest of the afternoon.
Brynwood Needleworks - Suncoast Concert Band Performing at Church of the Palms in Sarasota, FL
Sunday brought a Suncoast Concert Band concert at a larger church venue than their usual home. Most of their performances are at Northminster Presbyterian Church (Sarasota), but twice a year, they pack up the band (and all the percussion section's equipment) and play at the Church of The Palms, across town. It's always a busy time for Handsome and the rest of the drum/percussion section.
Special guest performer was Aaron Romm, son of one of the founding members of the Canadian Brass, Ronald Romm. His father and mother were in attendance. Aaron's performance of the three-movement Haydn Concerto for Trumpet, as well as a second piece called "When It's Sleepy Time Down South/Swing The Music" (arranged by his father) both brought the audience to their feet. His crystal clear sound lifted to the rafters, and thrilled all of us who were there to hear it. 

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend of fun, friends and music that will be remembered for a long time to come. There will be time for needlework, but days like these are savored, not rushed. 

Tag will be here tomorrow to tell you about his weekend. I'm getting ready to head north this week - right into record snowfall and bone-chilling temperatures. I'll tell you all about that on Wednesday. I'm going to work on that wing today, and we'll see just how much I can accomplish.


January 27, 2019

January 25, 2019

It's Getting There...

Brynwood Needleworks - Upper Right Butterfly Wing Nearly Finished
I worked on it for another few hours yesterday. It's slow going, but it's really taking shape, and it's nearly finished. More black silk on the lines, a few colors on the wing edge to embroider, and then filling in with navy blue silk will complete this wing section. I thought I'd be able to say this part was finished today, but I likely won't be finished with it until some time Saturday. 
Handsome and I are taking Tag and Bella across the state with us today for an overnight with "Uncle Mike" and his lovely wife. It's his Birthday, so we're tickled to be able to celebrate with them. You can look for that post on Tuesday, as I'll leave it to Tag to tell you all about it (as only he can).
I know there will be some pretty cold days ahead for the weekend and next week in Wisconsin. It's even chilly here. Today, we're expecting to train dogs in comfortable 64º sunshine. Don't envy me too much, though. I'm heading back to Wisconsin next week, and Tag and I will be in for a cold dose of reality! I'm going to enjoy this weather while I can.

Enjoy your Saturday, wherever you live. Warm or cold, I hope you have someone who loves you, something to do that you emjoy, and a dream in your heart. See you tomorrow.


January 24, 2019

Thinking About Home...

Brynwood Needleworks via BlueBirdEmbroidery.co.uk - Badger

I love Helen Richman's gorgeous embroideries, so I decided to share some of her pieces that remind me of home. The badger is the state animal for Wisconsin.

Brynwood Needleworks via BlueBirdEmbroidery.co.uk - Fox

Little foxes are plentiful in the fields and forests around the Kettle Moraine countryside that makes up the topography of our region of the state. I love their beautiful colors and wise faces. I've seen babies frolicking outside their dens, and it was hard not to stay and watch them for hours. Thankfully, they have lovely warm coats to ward off the frigid Wisconsin weather.

Brynwood Needleworks via BlueBirdEmbroidery.co.uk - Nuthatch
Ahhh, the nuthatch. They frequent my bird feeders, which I can't wait to refill to invite them back. It's one of the first things I'll do when I get back in one short week. I hope my two "pet" oppossums are managing to stay warm and find food while I've been away. I'll be putting out meals for them, too, upon my arrival.
Helen's gorgeous needlework pieces can be found on her website - Blue Bird Embroidery Company. I've ordered her Stumpwork book, which should be waiting for me when I get home.


Honoring Your Sparkle...

Brynwood Needleworks - Swarovski Sunglasses
Handsome and I were in Sarasota yesterday. A bow on his glasses broke and it had to be repaired or replaced. We've bought our glasses from the same optician for the past sixteen years, so it was a great thing that we were in town when this happened.
We found out that his frames were eleven years old, so it made sense to buy a new frame. They had what we needed in stock, so we said we'd wait the fifteen or so minutes for them to switch the lenses over. 
I got to try on new frames and just "play" while we waited. As it happens, I forgot my sunglasses in Roxane's car this week, so I went to the sunglasses section just to look. I saw these beauties and was immediately smitten. Remember when my last favorite pair broke? (You can read about them HERE.)
Now, understand, these are sparkly! They've got Swarovski crystals imbedded in the frame. I put them on, showed them to Handsome, and he hated them. He said so...multiple times. I just kept them on, giggling about how I loved them. At our house, we have a rule though. If one person says "no", the answer is "no". We agreed to these terms nearly forty years ago, and it's served us well (even if one person is disappointed in the short term). I put them back. I was good with that. No moping or grousing. We talked about what else we'd do when we left, and I "let it go".
Handsome's glasses were finished and new, so we were ready to leave, We thanked our friend, who used to own the shop and only comes in once in a while (we lucked out that he was there so we could see him), and I turned to the door. Handsome stopped me and said, "I think you should get them."

I turned around and asked if he was serious. He repeated, "No. I really think you should get them." I kissed him and turned to our friend and asked if he could get my Rx off the glasses I was wearing, because I don't have it with me. He assured me he could, took my glasses in back and took all the information he needed to set me up. He also promised my glasses will be done well before I leave next week.

Now there's a reason I'm telling you this story. I married a man who honors and appreciates me every single day. He loves me just the way I am, and he has a partner who likewise honors and respects him. These new sunglasses are almost a symbol of how he allows me to always sparkle. He's always let me be me, even if he thinks I'm being a little silly.

I know these sunglasses are more "Florida Girl" than "Farm Girl", but it's fun to share my sparkle to others. The best part is that Handsome and I are each other's biggest supporters, and he promotes my inner - and outer - sparkle. I love that.

I think this is a good lesson for everyone - male or female - to share your life with those who bring out the best in you. Share yourself with people who bring out your sparkle. I do, and I'm blessed every day.


January 23, 2019

Butterfly Progress...

Brynwood Needleworks - RSN Butterfly Upper Wing Progress
I spent last evening with the Paneras ladies again. Because of the lighting in the restaurant, I didn't take my butterfly to work on, but this is how much I've done since my last update. The upper wing is coming along nicely, don't you think?

I'll continue to work on it today, and see if I'm able to finish this wing section. I'm anxious to finish the butterfly now, so I'm going to keep going. Today would have been Mom (Grace's) 91st Birthday. I smile, knowing she'd love seeing me working on this. I wish I could see the look on her face.

I took my "little" embroideries with me for our gathring, and finished another. Five down and more to go. I'll share those photos later. I know I'll be going back to snow next week, so I'm going to enjoy these warm, sunny days while I can. 

Happy Heavenly Birthday. I love and miss you, Mom.


January 22, 2019

Tuesdays With Tag - Aunt Roxane...

Brynwood Needleworks - Roxane and Cooper

Hi, Everybody! 

No pictures of me this week. I know. You're disappointed, aren't ya? lol
Instead, I'm sharin' pictures of someone Mom and I really like...

Mom and I met Aunt Roxane in 2013 at the Florida Corgi Picnic. Mom and Aunt Roxane were friends on Facebook before that, but we met her in person then. I liked her and her Corgi, Cooper from the minute we met them.

Brynwood Needlworks - Mom and Aunt Roxane
Aunt Roxane knew we're in Florida, so she sent us a text and we made a date to get together. She came over yesterday, and I got the chance to snuffle and snuggle her. 
After The Black Dog, Miss Lucy and I all said "hi", she and Mom left us and went out for an afternoon of lunch and visitin'. I'm gonna tell ya, I was peeved! I'm not sure why I couldn't go, too.
They're gonna see each other again this week ('cuz they're goin' to the Englewood Farmer's Market), so I'm hopin' I can go along, too. If not, at least I'll be able to see her again before we go back to Wisconsin. Maybe I'll see Cooper, too! That would be real fun. 
I'll see you again in seven, 'til then...
"Live Like Someone Left The Gate Open".

January 21, 2019

One Down, Three To Go...

Brynwood Needleworks - Lower Right Wing Part

One wing part completed on Saturday. I have three more parts to do...the lower left wing and two upper wing parts. I'll be working on them this week, but today is lunch with a Florida Corgi friend who lives nearby. I'll let Tag tell you about her tomorrow.

I'm very happy with the way this is turning out, and am looking forward to every day I'm able to work on this project. I love stitching with silk threads, and how beautiful it looks on fabric. It's definitely different from cotton. yum!

I'll be back Wednesday, but don't forget to visit Tag. We don't want him feeling neglected, do we? lol

January 20, 2019

Sunday Scripture...

Brynwood Needleworks via Little Birdie Blessings. Thank you, Abby!

January 19, 2019

Sharing Another Recipe Today...

Brynwood Needleworks - Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Dinner
Last week I made a roast beef dinner with my family's traditional British Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. I added roast carrots and garlic for the finishing touch. I shared a photo on Facebook and got a few questions about Yorkshire pudding and what it tastes like. I also was asked to share my recipe here on my blog, and of course, I'm happy to oblige! 

First, Yorkshire pudding doesn't taste like sweet pudding. It's a breadlike dish, that's more like American popovers. It's often baked in muffin cups, but I prefer to bake mine in a sheet or 9" x 13" cake pan. It's quite simple to make, and delicious with homemade beef gravy. (It was certainly a hit with Handsome and our Florida friends!) 
Here's the recipe for you.

Yorkshire Pudding
Donna Liljegren • Brynwood Needleworks • Hickory Hill Farm

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk and 1  cup water)
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil 

Preheat oven to 400º

Once the oven is preheated, place the oil on your baking pan and place in oven to heat oil. (If you use muffin pans, put about a teaspoon in each compartment.)

Mix together milk and egg, gradually adding flour and seasoning to taste. Whisk until completely mixed. When the oil is smoking in the pan, add the mixture and put back into oven. Bake until the pudding rises and turns a lovely golden color, approximately 30 minutes. They'll also have a nice cripsness, too.
It's traditional for the British to serve this dish with roast beef, beef gravy and roast potatoes. I roast the potatoes in the same hot oven. I use small, yellow potatoes, cleaned and cut in half.

You can easily double this recipe.
I've always made Yorkshire pudding according to these proportions, but my sister told me that she adds more eggs to get a nice rise. She adds six eggs! I'd do 2 c. flour, 2 c. milk and 4 eggs to try this for the first time. If I like how they rise with these proportions, I wouldn't add more.
If you make them in muffin tins, they rise high, all the pieces have crispy edges, and they form with a perfect well in the center for gravy. They get lovely "hills and valleys" when made in a regular baking pan.
If you make this recipe, please let me know how you like it. I'll have a link for this recipe on my Recipe page in the top menu bar for future reference.


January 18, 2019

I Stitched and Stitched...

Brynwood Needleworks - Yesterday's Effort
Everything takes a bit longer (for me) when embroidering with single threads. I worked on one of my lower wings most of the day yesterday, and will likely have this one finished by Saturday morning. 
I'll be taking a little time away from needle and thread to have lunch with friends today, but I'll be needle dancing before and after my lunch date. Now that I've started back on this, I have a hard time putting it down. I'm loving the process!
What are you working on these days? I'd love to know. In fact, if you'd like to email photos and tell me about your current project, I'll put together a post featuring your works next week!!

January 17, 2019

Butterfly Time...

Brynwood Needleworks - RSN Butterfly Project
I'm finally getting back to stitching on my stumpwork butterfly from last summer. I'm using the silk threads that Owen (my tutor) and I chose while I was in Kentucky, and slowly working the design in one thread, rather than multiple strands.

The collage above shows you where I am right now (the "fuzzies" on top of the fabric are the knots and tails which I'll cut off as I stitch toward them.) In the process, I'll be anchoring the threads from behind with my stitches.

The lower right hand (colorful) wings are the photo from my pattern, and the upper right image shows you some of the colored silks I'm using in Au ver a Soie and Soie Crystale. They have a wonderful hand, and are a treat to work with. (I know...sentence ending in preposition. sigh)

I'll be working on this project today. You see two wing parts above that will be half the butterfly. Once those are done, I have another two, plus the body to work. I think this may take a little while as I get the hang of it, but I know it's going to be stunning when it's done. I promise I'll continue to share my progress.


January 16, 2019

Guild Night In Florida...

Brynwood Needleworks - Disconnected Piecers Quilt Guild Annual Meeting Night
Goodness, did I have fun last night! I got to see all my dear quilting friends at our guild meeting in Port Charlotte, Florida. I was so warmly greeted when I walked in the door, and wish the night could have lasted at least twice as long!

The guest speaker for the evening was Sharon Ralph, a certified Judy Niemeyer instructor, who showed many examples of her own gorgeous quilts. I'm sharing just a few of my personal favorites in the collage above. Sharon will be teaching Niemeyer techniques to guild members in a two-day class this weekend.

I was able to chat with quite a few ladies, and was pleased to see that the guild has nearly doubled in size since the last time I was there. It was the annual meeting, so new officers were elected. There was also discussion about the next quilt show...scheduled for February 20, 2020...and I'm definitely planning to be there! Perhaps next year, we'll be here a little longer - our usual January, and add February to our stay.

I'm having lunch with my friends, Kathy and Nora (who used to own Sandy's Quilt Shop) before the weekend, so we can have a little extra girlfriend time. I miss the coffee group we used to have on Saturday mornings, and this way I can hear about what everyone has been doing to keep busy.
I'm sorry I won't be here for another meeting, so I'll have to settle for online updates to see what the ladies are accomplishing while I'm back in Wisconsin. That will have to do until I see them all again. Seeing all the beautiful quilts, I'm inspired to make my contributions to our charitable quilts for the preschool Headstart and Hospice programs as soon as I get home. I'll get them finished so I can send them south as soon as possible...and look forward to the next time I see my quilting friends again.


January 15, 2019

Tuesdays With Tag - Perhaps A Ball Boy...

Brynwood's Taggart At The Court
Hi, Everybody!
I promised to tell you this week about an entrepreneurial idea I have. I'm thinkin' about workin' at the local tennis court. I could be a ball boy for all the tennis players who live in this subdivision.
It's Not That Big Out There!

I mean...look, it's not that big out there, and I'm pretty fast. I can zoom across the court to get the balls the players miss and take 'em over to a bucket on the sidelines. 



See? I've got game! Can't you just imagine me, runnin' like the wind, catchin' balls, left and right? I'd be savin' all those old folks the "bendin' over" part. ("What, Mom? Ooops. Sorry.") Never mind about that last part. Anyway, I can retrieve all those stray balls for them, and then they can pay me for my services at the end of each session. 

I haven't decided if I should ask for snacks or money. Mom says if they pay me in money, I can buy my own treats. That makes sense, right? Then, she told me I could pay rent, too. Um...since when is this a thing?

On further consideration, I might just sit and watch on the sidelines for a while and think on this. I mean, I'm only gonna be here for a little while longer anyway. I might be better off just workin' on my tan.
 I'll see you again in seven, 'til then...
"Live Like Someone Left The Gate Open".

January 14, 2019

A Lovely Day For Shopping...

Brynwood Needleworks - Shopping Goodies
I decided to take a little road trip on Saturday, down to the Englewood, Florida area (more specifically, Rotunda West). I've been watching Julie and her mom through the process of opening their Florida shop, as they closed down their Maine operations, and migrated south. So, I wasn't going to miss stopping in while in the south.
I had a few things on my "list" going in, and then found a few more must haves while there. I chose beautiful wools for my stacks at home, and a fabulous applique' work station - covered with a wool pressing mat. I'm looking forward to using it at home.

I purchased a few threads for immediate projects, and a beautiful handmade hook to take home. I added a hoop snugger to make turning wing nuts on my hoops and stands a little easier.

The precut wools on the work station are for a special project, which I'll share once I start working on it. These precuts (and more) are also available in the shop - purchased by weight.
Brynwood Needleworks - Bonnie Sullivan's "Chrismutts" Wool Applique' Pattern
The last thing I purchased was this new Bonnie Sullivan pattern, called "Chrismutts" Bowl Fillers! One of them is a collie, but it looks like a corgi to me. At least, it will when I'm finished with it. I'm also going to make one look like Bella, too. I'll work on this one after I get back to the farm.
Brynwood Needleworks - Donna and Susan Greening Davis

While shopping, I happened to look across the shop to see a familiar face. My counted thread designer/friend from decades ago, Susan Greening Davis, was shopping, too! I first met Susan when we were both attending and vending at needlework trade shows. Susan is "still stitching", and is a world-renowned instructor. I'm honored and blessed to call her "friend".

She's got a full teaching schedule - heading soon to Paris, France - but she has a home in sw Florida, and we just happened to get to Searsport the same day. Being the good blogger I am, I managed to get a photo of the two of us together, to share with you, before we parted ways. 

She mentioned that she'll be hosting a retreat on Mackinaw Island (Michigan's upper peninsula) next fall. I may have to sign up for that one! We'll see.

So I headed back to our home-away-from-home in the afternoon with a nice assortment of new goodies to take back to Wisconsin, and a smile in my heart, having seen an old friend. What a lovely day, indeed.


January 13, 2019

Sunday Scripture...

Brynwood Needleworks via FaceBook