Friday, December 21, 2012

You're never too old...

for all the fun Christmas traditions...including GINGERBREAD houses!! 

Do you remember making these (back in the day), with graham crackers, milk cartons, candy and edible glue (frosting) to hold everything together? We'll, our little houses are just as fun and yummy!

The preparation began several weeks ago when I gathered some precut gingerbread houses from a lovely lady at our church who cuts thousands....yes, THOUSANDS of these, every year for a local gingerbread house charitable event. I asked her to save me some for my special group at church, and she did! I went to her house to pick up precisely prepped graham crackers, precut foam blocks (for the inside) and a couple gallons of gooey white frosting!

Then I gathered up all kinds of candy, pretzels and other house decor-worthy goodies, loaded up the car, and headed to church. Naturally, it was the first snowy morning of the winter. But neither rain nor sleet, nor scary weatherman warnings, can keep a group of eager women away from their appointed gingerbread house assembly!

I volunteer in a women's ministry that meets with a group of Spanish speaking ladies every month. These ladies attend their children's elementary school (where our church has a partnership) every morning for their own English class. We get together monthly to hang out. We eat and chat and do projects, giving them an encouraging place to practice their language skills. And some of us reckless souls practice our (sometimes hilarious) Spanish skills!

After our excellent church lady lunch (the spaghetti casserole was a huge hit) we got to work on house construction. I showed the ladies how to glue their 4 walls and roof together, then the real fun began! Every year they amaze me with their creativity, using candy in ways I would never envision!

My good friend Connie (an excellent Spanish speaker) is standing behind, because she is craft-challenged! I promised her she would NOT have to make her own house.

Young Alvaro joined us, and he and his Mom have their finished little houses (cassitas) packed and ready for the short trip home. Alvaro LOVED this activity. He also speaks perfect English, so was a helpful translator.

Here is the whole happy gang, proudly showing off our tasty little gingerbread community. I'm on back row, far left in the green shirt. Yes, I made a house, but it wasn't a creative masterpiece.

BTW - just in case you're wondering - here is the Spanish translation for "gingerbread houses".
Casitas (small houses) de galletas (cookies) de jengibre (ginger). 

In the midst of our busy Christmas preparations, this time together was a real blessing for all. We ended our time with lots of hugs and familiar greetings...Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm joining bloggers across the country today to pause and remember Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N Wyatt, Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Nancy Lanza, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto. 

Please join me in taking some extra time to ponder the small ways we can each bring more peace into the world, during such a sorrowful time. 

We hold our children's hands for awhile, but their hearts forever.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is it Christmas already?

For the Ebright clan, it's DONE! We all met in KC last weekend and had an early family get-together.  Well, not ALL of us...that's a humongous number of Ebrights...but Alan and all of his siblings and better halves. Alan is 3rd gray-haired guy (they all have gray hair) in back row. He's the baby of the 5 sibs!

Are you noticing that Christmas traditions and celebrations have to evolve as your kids get older? The word of the holiday is now FLEXIBLE, as you try to accommodate in-laws, babies (darn, none here!) and all that. Chatting with some of my girlfriends, I realize these adjustments can be tricky (very tricky sometimes). But I am determined to be available whenever it works, and go with the (new) holiday flow. 

Since Alan's parents are no longer here to host us on the family farm, Alan's siblings have made an effort to get everyone together...if only briefly, and not on the real date. It's casual, lasts only a day, and it's really fun! Most of the gang lives in KC so we make the 3 hour drive north. We ate, talked, watched a ballgame, and enjoyed each other's company all day, sans kids and grandkids. 

Later that afternoon, we welcomed whatever kids and grandkids were able to join us. As darkness closed in we did our annual Ebright caroling. Alan's family has been doing this FOREVER...just check out the vintage family picture below. Don't they look positively Rockwell-esque? Alan is the grinner on the bottom right.

Here are a few of our caroling clan this year. I'm taking style advice from Santa, wearing my red pants!

After caroling, we settled in for an outdoor hotdog/s'more roast.

We also welcomed the newest member of the family. His older boy cousins are chatting him up below.

Thanks to Alan's sisters for organizing this and pulling it off.  The 5 Ebright siblings have certainly gotten older, but never too old for a funny face photo!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just in the Nick of time!

We've got more stitching goodies to put under the tree, or stuff your own stocking (we'll never tell)!

Next week we're releasing our last 2 products of 2012.  I keep a list each year of our new products, as they are released. I just added these last 2 to the list and then did the yearly count!

WHEW! Between all of our different design categories...chartpaks, Snippets, Flip-its, Quick-its, Boxers and Kits...we've released 32 new designs!!! Dear Santa...we've been busy,. AND we've been good!

We think this little kit is a real Christmas gem, and it's aptly named "A Little Christmas". The colors are a muted take on the usual reds and green, and they're beautiful. The traditional design will look good year after year in your Christmas decor. Kit includes fabric, golden heart charm and burgundy beads. We hope you like it as much as we do!

These little stockings are so cute and quick, you've still got time to stitch them! You can see there are 2 stitching options. The personalized one is, perhaps, the fastest personalized stocking EVER!!!  It takes less than an hour to make a little personalized heirloom. Perfect for the grandkids, kids, pets...or even a great gift tag!

We used some little pre-finished stockings from our friends at Adam Original to stitch our stockings. They have a darling, colorful fabric that we love. Both little stockings have an opening up the back side, as well as the top, for easy stitching. You can stitch the back closed later if you choose. You handy sewers can also do your own stocking finishing.

We're shipping these new designs to needlework shops on Monday, Dec. 3. If you NEED these, be sure and let your favorite shop know so they can pre-order enough.

I gotta get back to sacking the A Little Christmas kits and gluing little snowflake embellishments inside the Merry Little Stockings.

Merry Stitching to All!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts of turkey and sad Wildcats!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I'm already in the TURKEY frame of mind. I'm not intentionally thinking "turkey", but it turkeys seem to be multiplying in my kitchen.

Yes, you've seen this one before. I make this edible guy every year for an event at church. He's fun and gets lots of admiring comments...and he keeps in the fridge and makes multiple appearances.  I just de-feather whatever is left on him, wrap him in plastic, and make more "feathers" for his next gig.

And it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without these cupcakes, which also make an annual appearance at my church event. Most of the attendee MOMS take these home to share with their kids...they're really good at sharing...and show more self-restraint than most of us.

Here's my crazy new paper-bag turkey for this year. He looked so deceivingly EASY on Pinterest, but came with alarmingly short instructions. I tried to recreate their beautiful paper Tom, but I'm not sure my turkey makes the "grade-A"!  Whatever...he was a great centerpiece for our football watch party last night. I stuffed him with little zip bags of popcorn and candy corn and garnished him with rosemary sprigs from my still growing bush. 

Want to make your own brown bag bird? Check it out...just realized it was a pin from Martha you really think Ms. Martha created her own brown bag beauty?!?

So here we were, the K-State faithful, gathered at our house Saturday night for a pre-game soup supper. Out football team was ranked #1, we were so hopeful and excited...and yes, even thankful. 

I got to use my new K-State platter, which I just got back from the paint-it-yourself pottery place. Glenna (my craft buddy) and I have both bought Groupon/Coupons and we ran in there the last day to paint before they expired. Glenna had a photo of a similar tray and we tried to recreate it. Neither of us had ever painted pottery before, and we were dismayed that you had to put 3 coats of paint on EVERYTHING! It's hard to stay in the lines 3 times in a row!  But we laughed and really learned a lot. Look out family...there may be hand-painted pottery under the tree this year!

Alas, our beloved Kansas State Wildcats lost to the Baylor Bears!  Their time on the top of the polls was short, but historic. Even our game day kitchen pig put on his sad face!

Friday, November 9, 2012 busy guy!

Every year I design a Santa Snippet...and every year it gets a little more challenging. I think..."what in the world is Santa going to do THIS year?!" 

This morning I'm assembling some Santa Packs. We put these together for the needlework shops so they can easily keep all the L*K Santas in stock...and available for all of you! Each pack includes one of all the previous years Santa Snippets. 

The only Santa NOT in the pack is the current year's Santa. He's busy "unwrapping the joy" in the pic below, all while enjoying a cup of hot cocoa! 

So, what about next year? So far, Santa has appeared in his striped nightshirt, his long underwear and suspenders, and all sorts of variations on the traditional big red coat. He's ice skated, come down the chimney, posed with his animal friends, held a lot of Christmas trees, stars, and of course, gifts!

Christmas is coming next month...yikes...but I'm already thinking about Christmas 2013. I just finished designing and stitching a group of 12 Christmas ornaments for 2013. I can't wait to get them back from my finisher, because it's "magical". I mail them away, and they return a week later looking more beautiful than they left, and exhibiting finishing skills I could never master myself. 

Meanwhile, if you have ideas for next year's Snippet Santa...leave a comment. I'll put it on Santa's list!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Back in the USA!

We're ba-a-a-a-ck! After a whirlwind tour of the south island of New Zealand, we're back in the good ole USA and back to work. Even after a wonderful trip, it sure is good to be home...and just in time for Halloween treats (adore those bite size Twix bars and teeny Reese's)!

I just downloaded hundreds of photos off my camera. I love flowers, and I'm sure there were a hundred photos of gorgeous flowers, ferns, and moss alone. I don't want to bore you with a complete travelogue,  but I'll share a few highlights.

We traveled with our good pals Doug and Vicki. They were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and we were celebrating our 35th anniversary. Doug and Vicki left 10 days before us and toured the northern island. Then they ferried to the south island and met us at the Christchurch airport with the hilarious signs below! Can you make out the Lizzie*Kate on Vicki's sign? After a long flight, we started our time together with a good laugh!

We got our rental car and took off to see the mountains, beaches, green hillsides, glaciers, sheep, deer, cows and everything else...all while driving on the wrong side of the road! Doug and Alan really did a good job (and that GPS was worth every penny!) and we didn't need to do TOO much back seat driving.

Our last 2 nights on the island, we did a "farm stay" at Pete's Farm. I'd been wanting to do a farm stay, and this really exceeded my expectations. Pete and Gay were amazing hosts and literally shared their house with us. And they took us outside for up close and personal time with their farm animals!

But first, we all put on our gumboots, or Wellingtons. Just in case...

Sheep, sheep and more sheep. This guy was really "ba-a-a-a-a-ing" to welcome us. 

Pete showed us that sheep don't have upper teeth...just lowers...who knew?!

There were also some friendly llamas...check out he smile on the white one. 

Pete asked us if we'd like to see a sheep get a haircut, and we said "yea"...that's New Zealand talk for "yes"! First, the very enthusiastic farm dog has to round up the sheep. He loved his work and never stopped barking while he created a small sheep stampede into the barn. 

Pete chose one lucky, very hairy sheep for a haircut and we posed for his "before" picture. Did you know when sheep sit on their back legs they are pretty much immobilized? Pete just rocked him backwards and with his front legs off the ground, he was ready for his closeup...and his haircut!

Pete used to be a professional sheep shearer, so he did a quick haircut. He repositioned the sheep as he cut and got the wool off in one big, furry piece. I'm not sure which end is up in this photo!

We took a short trip to the family dairy farm and visited some equine friends. I definitely thought the calves were cuter than their adult counterparts. 

And really, they may be youngster cows,  but are they really fooled by this feeding machine?

We arrived in the middle of morning milking time and watched 44 cows simultaneously being milked. They milk 650 cows twice a day! Can you see the lower walkway that runs down the middle? The lucky/unlucky farmer's wife walks in that trough and hooks up all the full-to-bursting ladies to the milking machine. I think the farmer must be a very persuasive person. Can you imagine his proposal...."marry me and you'll get to spend many hours a day on the underside of milk cows?!"  Let's just say...this experience confirmed my aversion to drinking milk!!!

Alas, it was time to leave the farm, but not before another silly photo op!  We are all avid Kansas State fans (we may have listened to an important football game in McDonald's in rural New Zealand), so we did a little KSU (use your imagination) in the field. It's a tradition to do the KSU wherever you are travelling, submit a photo to the alum mag, and hope it will be published. 

As we drove away from the farm, we noticed Pete hanging the laundry with the sheep dog nearby. Now that's a REAL man!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Super new stuff!

What's new at L*K??? Check out all the new goodies below!

We haven't been blogging because we've been too busy assembling and shipping, and assembling and shipping some MORE!

B41 Dance in the Rain Inspiration Boxer
You've been asking for this saying, and here it is!  Kit includes 30 ct. natural linen, antique gold dragonfly charm and bonus pin cushion design with raspberry beads.

K60 Joy to the World Christmas kit
We had so much fun designing and stitching these models. Beautiful classic holiday colors and motifs with a great vintage look. Kit includes 30 ct. natural linen, both patterns and snowflake embellishment (for the little bonus design).

S105 Flora McSample's 2012 Ornaments
Who is Flora? She our little sampler girl, and she's been busy creating this year's ornaments. Traditional colors and motifs make these quickie projects really special.

F123 Ice Queen 6 Snow Belles Flip-it
The last 3 snow babes are here, completing our set of 6 Snow Belles. These lovely ladies are snowmates to last year's 6 Fat Men Flip-its.  Leaflet includes white snowflake button.

F124 Frosty Friends 6 Snow Belles Flip-it
More fun with the flaky gals! These cheerful friends are accessorized for the season. Includes white snowflake button.

F125 Blizzard Babe
The weather may be wintry, but our blizzard babe is braving the elements in style. Includes white snowflake button.

Combine all 6 Snow Belles together into one big flaky stitchery! FREE instructions and additional stitched areas provided on our website. Just click and print and enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scary, spooky, stitching time!

Sometimes I forget what time of year it is!  Embarassing, but true. Today I'm working on some Christmas designs for 2013. WHOA...that's next year! I'm planning a monthly series of Christmas ornaments for 2013. Yes, that's one ornament a month for the whole year. More about that later...

Meanwhile, to make sure I'm firming rooted in reality, I've been decorating my house for fall this week. Since my daughters are grown and gone, friends ask why I do this time-consuming job. Because I LOVE it! I make a giant mess, hauling totes from the basement full of autumn accoutrement...leaves, spiders (real and fake), haunted houses, and pumpkins...lots of pumpkins.

Sometimes I repeat entry hall table has looked the same for several years now. Several years ago I did an arrangement I really liked, so I photographed it. Since I've finally figured out how to store photos in a logical way (thanks, Memory Manager!), I can find the photo and recreate the scene. I've had that funky Halloween Santa guy (right side, under cloche) for over 20 years, and he still makes me smile, with his bag of pumpkins on his back.

But this year, something new happened...PINTEREST!  Oh my, I should never have consulted Pinterest for Halloween decor ideas. Pinterest had SO many beautiful pics that took me to even MORE blogs where these ladies are SO creative. Where do they find the time??? And how do I choose what to do?

In all this internet cruising I got stuck in a rut looking at "Halloween Mantel" arrangements? I didn't know there were huge postings devoted solely to mantel decor...for all seasons! If I knew how to post my pic on one of those sites, I would. But, since I only know how to post it here, here's my finished mantel. At least I think it's finished...additional tweaking may occur.

My mantel is really wide, deep (a good thing) and high off the ground, so kind of an interesting challenge. But here's the good part...I only spent $3 on this grouping. I moved some little lamps I usually have in my kitchen, moved a painting from the living room, and filled in with stuff from my stash. The only additions were the 3 little black crows (right side) I saw on Pinterest ($1 each at Dollar Tree - love that place!).

Above is my new kitchen grouping. I brought out my favorite feathery owl (which my grown daughters think is truly creepy) and found him a place of honor in the front The only new addition is the BOO sign. I already had the frame, so I did some letters on my computer, added a border and printed it, and dropped it in the frame. EASY peasy!

Have you ever used blackboard paint? Everyone on Pinterest says it's a snap. Well., I still have black fingernails and even black blotches on my feet from drippy paint, but I think the finished product was worth it! I wanted a big blackboard surface to doodle on, but I didn't want to buy anything. I used a giant metal tole tray (I collect these and this is the biggest tray I ever scored on Ebay) and painted the BACK side. Now it's resting over my stovetop, conveying seasonal messages. Some bright (fake) leaves from Dollar Tree complete the little scene. This was my first attempt at seasonal messages...improvement will (hopefully) follow. 

But I digress...this post is called Spooky, Scary Stitching, and that was my intention when I began. I was going to post a bunch of photos of my Halloween projects. But hey...just check my website at to see the whole scary collection. Just go to the Categorical Listings button and click on Halloween. Meanwhile, here's one of my faves from my sampler friend Flora McSample. It's a L*K sampler-ish take on Halloween, and comes with some beautiful lavender linen and orange pumpkin button. It's quirky, quick and fun!

Happy Halloween stitching...and decorating!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A pig tail, or pig tale!

CAUTION: WARNING! Please read BEFORE proceeding!

This blog contains images of a real live PIG ROAST! If you don't want to see pics of our porcine friend - in his pre and post cooked condition - don't read on. If this offends your vegetarian/vegan sensibilities, please stop reading. But, if you want to smile and laugh at our hilarious, certifiable "Miracle of the Perfect Pig"...then read on and join the fun!

It all began innocently enough several months ago. I'm the "social chairman" for our Sunday school class at church. I was asking for some ideas on future events. The one thing we always agree on - events involve FOOD. We started with the idea of a luau, and some tasty grilled foods on sticks. Then the discussion leaped forward when Eddie suggested "let's roast a whole pig!".

Of course, no one in class had ever roasted a pig! A few had eaten at real pig roasts, but we had no documented pork experience. Fast forward to this weekend, after months of online pig roast research, we found ourselves on Friday evening at the Mack's rural home with a giant cooler in Eddie's pickup. Inside was our 90 lb. suckling party pig, very pink, hairless (shaved) and slightly deflated looking. I cautiously raised the cooler lid to get my first look at my new buddy, and he was.....EWWWWW!!!! (I have pics, but I'm not posting the cooler shots, in hopes that you will keep reading).

The first big job was digging the pig pit! Six manly men took up the challenge and got to work with shovels in the hard, drought-stricken Kansas soil. Thankfully it was a cool evening, and they dug and measured until the hole fit our pig's proportions. 

They lined the hole with a layer of bricks, and put large rocks in the corners to hold the pig away from the fire. My husband, Alan, (inexplicably dressed in his Gilligan's Island hat) tested the pig pit for size and comfort. Then they loaded the pit with wood for the fire later that night.

Meanwhile, in the garage, another crew was prepping the pig for his big night. He was lifted on his special (never to be used again) table cloth. Then he was (and we're not picturing this!), laid out flat, stuffed with seasonings, rubbed with olive oil, more seasonings, an apple in the mouth, and then wrapped "to go" in lots of aluminum foil. Turns takes a lot of foil to fully wrap a pig!

We lifted him and slid a specially made (thanks, Eddie) metal pig roast grate underneath him. We wired him to the grate (in case he had a restless pre-pig roast night), packed him in ice, wrapped him securely in a tarp, and said goodnight. 

At 2 AM, the faithful homeowners, Linda and Stuart, went to the pig pit and started a roaring fire. Stuart had already OK'd this with the fire department. They enjoyed watching the blaze so much, they spent the night chatting around the campfire like kids, spinning tales of future pig roasts, while the rest of us slept. Later, at 6 AM, reinforcements arrived to escort the pig from his garage hotel to the pit in the pasture. The pig was carefully lowered into the pit, covered with wet burlap and cardboard, and sealed with a piece of corrugated tin, then more dirt and rocks. No turning back now!!!

Later in the afternoon, before the party goers began coming, we arrived to inspect the pig, still imprisoned in his underground pit. We cautiously peered and sniiffed. (That's our shadows, in above photo.) I ran through several scenarios in my head 1) the fire went out and pig is still raw,  2) pig is done beyond recognition, and is now crunchy pork toast, and 3) pig is edible, tender and delicious, and I am a social chairman "rock star"!

The guys uncovered the pit and pulled the hot critter out, using the chains and wires we had left exposed. 

The men cautiously smiled as they loaded the pig for the trip to the house and his date with his adoring, carnivorous fans.

Just like all those reality was time for the big pig REVEAL!  In front of all the guests, we slowly opened the foil. He definitely wasn't raw, and he wasn't crispy either. Our party pig appeared to be entirely edible!

While the party-goers waited, we recruited some extra hands to "pull the pork"! WOW...pork really is the "other white meat". After we pulled back the beautiful browned skin, there was a pile of tender, white meat just waiting for our forks. 

We lined up to fill our plates with pork and all the covered dish fixings....

and the verdict was in. Our great pig experiment/adventure got "thumbs up" all around!

After dinner we had a little added entertainment with some pig-related contests. I coaxed an appearance from the official Kansas Hog Queen Emeritus (also known as my sister-inlaw, Donna). Donna grew up on a hog farm, and she REALLY was the state hog queen, back in the day.  She found her sash (it still fits) and her tiara, and showed up looking very royal. Check out her pretty pig belt buckle!! Who knew my friend Suzanne (right) was a fabulous "pig caller"?! I'm sure her high school English students would love to hear a replay. Check out our pink piggy bank trophies!

The happy bunch above shared prizes for doing the best "pig sound" imitations. Finally, Alan found a use for his infamous 4H pig imitation! I've been enduring this questionable talent for years. Rewards (and pig trophies) come to those who wait. 

Alas, the fun was over, and we're left with our happy porcine memories. The whole thing was just such a crazy, fun adventure, that I'm still smiling. And so is our smoky, toothy, apple-eating pig, if only in my photos! I'm officially dubbing this "The Miracle of the Perfect Pig"!