Friday, December 27, 2013

New Christmas traditions!

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Or old parents, as that may be!

Per requests from our adult children, we added a few new activities to our annual Christmas celebration. The changes began several months ago when they requested (GASP!!!) no presents! Yikes...what happened to my consumer driven teens? I guess they're definitely adults now!

Because I actually love giving gifts, I negotiated to let Santa continue to fill stockings for Christmas morn. Heck, I'd already bought a bunch of stocking stuffers and (extra points for me!) I even knew where I had put them. I also talked them into one big gift for each, and they got to select what they wanted.

Another 2013 request was to do some volunteer activity as a family over the holiday. Alan coordinated a morning for all of us to work at an awesome local ministry, United Methodist Open Door. We're well acquainted with this comprehensive facility, but hadn't been there for awhile.

We showed up yesterday AM and after a brief tour, they put us to work. Ali spent the morning working in the office, helping with intake paperwork and filing for the daily clients. The rest of us kept our sweatshirts on and worked in the food warehouse.

The warehouse manager, Willy, kept finding new jobs for us as we whizzed through different food sacking tasks. We spent the last couple hours putting canned goods in recycled grocery sacks (6 cans of veggies and 2 fruit cans!) and putting them on pallets for future distribution.

Our son-in-law, Jeff, worked up a sweat as a he constantly refreshed our canned good supplies while we sacked, then moved the sacked goods to pallets and wrapped them. Darn...we had hoped to make a bigger dent on the remaining stacks of canned goods in photo below, but we know more volunteers will finish our job. Open Door has only 4 employees and relies on lots of faithful volunteers to serve hundreds of clients.

Ali suggested our other new Christmas activity. This was the inaugural year for Ebright Talks. Yes, they're based on the famous TED talks, but we were the presenters! On our last night together we took turns doing short "educational" talks on the subject of our choice. Fueled by popcorn and wine, we had a great time learning from each other! Whew...teaching is a bit stressful, especially when you're not well prepared (that was me). 

Our art teacher daughter, Sarah, borrowed a lesson from her AP Art History class. She got extra points for bringing photos which we viewed on the TV. We learned about early church architecture, and it was fascinating!

Jeff presented a cool lesson on "brainstorming" to do it effectively! He also brought a bunch of power point graphics which we viewed on the TV. Jeff gets extra credit points for using scenes from that famed movie Christmas Vacation as backgrounds on his slides. 

Ali taught us all how to play the piano by music required. After a brief tutorial, we all took turns at the piano and (miraculously) played Happy Birthday, sans music! We sang along to offer each performer moral support.

I did a presentation on antique samplers (go figure!). I handed out an framed sampler reproduction to everyone for my visual aids. Then we did a brief history of this wonderful folk art form. Alan talked about "legacy" and even gave out little gifts as part of his presentation. 

The most memorable (and laughable) portion of the evening was our guest presentator, Dr. Erin McGonigle. Erin and Sarah have been best friends since middle school, so we invited her to participate. Can you tell what's happening in the pic above? If you guessed "they're birthing a baby!" you would be right. 

Dr. Erin brought along some "interesting" visual aids and taught us all how to (safely) birth a baby...should the need arise! Erin was a great teacher to us medical novices, evidenced in the successful pic below! 

Alas, the adult kids have packed and left and we're back to work...and blogging. But now, we've got lots of fond holiday memories to keep us company!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Elves and LOL's busy, overwhelmed Christmas mind is thinking of Christmas elves and LOL's.

What are LOL's? Little Old Ladies, of course. Or, as my Spanish speaking friends call them...abuelitas! I love the way the Spanish language makes everything cute with the addition of "ita" or "ito" on the end of a noun. Literally, "abuela" means "grandma", but "abuelitas" can mean "cute little old ladies". And isn't that a sweeter way of referring to ladies of a certain age?!

My mom (center) lives in a large senior living facility here in Wichita. She has a great apartment and fun friends, but truly doesn't need Christmas gifts...not the traditional kind, anyway. So I offered to throw her a little Christmas party for her best LOL pals in her own apartment. Last minute, of course!

After Mom agreed to let me invade her home, I enlisted the help of my talented sister-in-law, Donna. Donna is also a great cook and table decorator, so the perfect companion on my Christmas caper. After Mom had the guest list, we visited her apartment to work on table decor. We used lots of Mom's stuff (including my favorite red glasses), then left with lists of other things we would schlep in from our homes to complete the look. We also divided up the menu and got to work shopping and cooking in our own homes.

What happens when you hand an octogenarian an iPhone to take pictures? Well, last night I got lots of fuzzy photos. But here's the best pic of me, Mom and Donna (right to left). The cool thing was, Mom's pal Chris absolutely loved my iPhone and was thrilled to learn something new! Maybe Santa will bring her an iPhone for Christmas?

After we gathered and chatted a bit, we fixed the dinner plates in the kitchen, seated the ladies, poured water and wine...and left!!! Donna and I went to the mall for some holiday shopping (in search of the classic LOL track suits for Mom) and left the ladies to eat and chat.

Before we left, we also served up this luscious baked hot fudge dessert (I LOVE this stuff!) and left the coffee maker and dessert ready to go in the kitchen. Before we returned the LOLs had finished their dinner and dessert plates and we heard laughter as we came down the hall. 

We completed our elf duties by doing all the dishes, and returning the apartment to it's pre-party look. We may have eaten some leftovers and finished with heavenly hot fudge dessert. 

For our other elfin adventure, Alan and I traveled to KC to visit Ali in her new loft. She just moved to a larger loft a couple weeks ago and was in dire need of a visit from Santa's elves. When we told her we were coming, she got lots of little projects ready for us. Our 24 hour visit also involved lots of trips to/fro the 
nearby Home Depot. We're not exactly known for being "handy", but we managed a bunch of projects with the help of 2 canine companions. 

Ali and I got to work finishing up a project we began over Thanksgiving. We decided to do hand-printed tea towels for both of our Christmas gifts for friends. Instead of handing our friends the usual sweet goodies, this year we're gifting them with sugar-free tea towels. 

Over Thanksgiving, we both designed and cut linoleum blocks for our tea towel designs. I haven't cut a linoleum block since 7th grade art class, but managed to do it without sending myself to the ER. I completed printing my towels and got to work heat-setting them (thanks, Alan), and packaging them for gifting. Below are my finished towels (hanging out on my dryer next to the grand dog's Santa suit) ready for quick gifting. 

Ali's towels seemed to be on "hold" after her recent move, so we resumed the project together in KC. Ali used her logo from her food blog Gimme Some Oven. Check out her beautiful new "free" kitchen in the background, or visit her blog to get all the lovely details Her food-blogging gig really has some perks!

Our biggest accomplishment was Ali's new Instagram photo wall, just as you enter her loft. After much calculation...and more calculation...and lots of tiny nails...and more tiny nails...we got 48 frames filled with photos and mounted. FYI - if you take Instagram pics, it's easy to print them at Walgreen's. 

We straightened all the frames after this pic, then affixed them to the wall with Glu-Dots so they don't get crooked when the door slams, or humans and dogs pass by. Alan is proudly displaying his advanced calculations in the pic above!

I've still got a bit of "traditional" Christmas shopping left, but really treasure the time we spent doing elfin duties this year...creating activities and memories together. Maybe next year we'll find some elf hats?

Merry Christmas to All!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coming in January!

What? You already think December is a crazy blur and I'm talking about 2014? If you need a holiday spirit today, I'm sharing this cute pic of my granddog, Henry. Doesn't he make you want to grin and "hohoho"?!

Yes, this is the same famous dog who starred in 2 Hallmark Thanksgving cards this fall. Nothing says "thankful" like a cute dog in a sweater, right? Henry recently auditioned (yes, they audition!) for another Hallmark gig and we are waiting to see if he gets the job with our fingers crossed and tails wagging.

Back to the needlework biz! Everyone wants to know what's the newest, hottest thing off the press. And they really want to know in advance of the actual release date.

So here's a sneak peek of our new Flip-it series for 2014. We're doing our first ever 4 Seasons Flip-its. We thought long and hard about a clever name, but decided on the obvious, 4 Seasons!

It's a small Flip-it series...only 4 parts! Each Flip-it is full of seasonal color, sampler-ish motifs, and Lizzie*Kate whimsy. As always, each part comes with embellishments. We used 3 tiny buttons on each one, with different colors for each season.

The designs are bigger than the usual Flip-its, each 61W x 75H. They're great individually or you can combine them into a wide seasonal line-up. Stitched all together and using our FREE border, the finished design will be 275W x 99H.

We'll have complete FREE instructions on our website to combine everything. The saying we added to the border is "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1.

We're really excited to begin 2014 with this series! The Spring and Summer design will be available in early January. Autumn and Winter designs will conclude the series in March.

With only 4 parts, we think this series will be popular and easy to complete. You can add this to your New Year's resolutions. This will be the FUN resolution you'll actually ENJOY completing...stitch by stitch!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"A Little Snow" in your forecast!

Not expecting snow in your neck of the woods? Think again!

We're shipping A LOT of "A Little Snow" this week. "A Little Snow" is our brand-new, last-minute kit for 2013 and it's ready to blow into your town.

This gentle wintry scene has beautiful muted colors you can display all winter (not specifically Christmas, but it will work with holiday decor). Kit includes 28 ct. Amber linen (pretty light brownish color), antique gold snowflake charm and white iridescent beads.

It's a companion to our other "Little" kits...A Little Love, A Little Easter, A Little Liberty and A Little Christmas. There's a teeny BONUS fob/ornament design tucked inside, too. 

Need "A Little Snow" in your life? Contact your local needlework shop to order and get ready for snow! We guarantee this snow isn't the messy doesn't require shoveling, it won't make you shiver, and it stays white!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mystery SOLVED!!!

Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler...SOLVED!!!

We've been unfolding this mystery design for the past 3 months, one part at a time, and the final Part 3 is now here!

Here's the pic that appears on the Part 3 cover! Honestly, Part 3 was my favorite part to design and stitch. I'm a sucker for a nice little woodland cottage, and (of course) an antique alphabet. Add in some more holly, hearts and snowflakes, and this part really completes the whole design.

One of my favorite parts about this stitchery is the color palette. I fell in love with these muted colors while stitching the model myself. I always begin with a wide selection of colors I plan to use, then narrow them down while doing the actual stitching. Stitching the model is an important part of the design process for me, and sometimes I'm pretty surprised at what finally emerges with needle and thread. Yea, it can be quite different than my original computer design.

WHEW! We're ready for a break! Now it's your turn to get stitching and finish the final part of the Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler. No've got plenty of time before you'll need Christmas decor in your home (even if the retail stores are already decked out!). And, if this year it doesn't quite happen...well, Christmas comes every year!


Friday, October 25, 2013

2 "Mysterious" Friday REVEALS!

WHEW! What a crazy couple weeks with my long finger imprisoned in it's metal birdcage and gauze wrap! I traded out my original flesh toned dressing (translate: finger/wrist prison/torture device) last week for a smaller fashion-forward hot pink wrap.

Sadly, the original wrap was filthy, stained with a medley of foods and who knows what? The chocolate pudding and spaghetti sauce stains were alarming to some, who thought they were blood! When I told the nurse I was having mini panic/anxiety attacks from the tightness of the bandage, she reluctantly agreed to rewrap. What a joy it has been to wash my hand, or most of it, again!

Today...the REVEAL! Went to visit Dr. Chan early this AM and my new cyst-less finger finally emerged. Everyone kept asking me exactly what was under that big bandage...stitches, glue, whatever...I didn't have a clue until now. 

Under my new REMOVABLE splint, they removed 2 rows of teeny stitches that formed a "c" around the joint. ICK!!! Now I'm off to pick up my octogenarian mom and do the mani-pedi thing. This splint is coming off to prettify my nails!

The second REVEAL....I'm much more newsworthy! We're busy assembling Part 3 of the Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler. We'll be shipping to needlework shops on Monday, November 4. 

Here's a sneak peek of the pretty covers nestled in their boxes, fresh from the printer. Our part-time helper, Carmen, is busy sacking piles of them, including their antique gold heart charms, right now!

I should take this opportunity to say that Carmen is the BEST helper! Three mornings a week she comes to Lizzie*Kate after she drops her middle-school son at school. Every morning she is greeted by a desk piled with various L*K products to assemble, as well as older Flip-its, kits, embellishment packs, etc. that need to be restocked. Somehow she gets through the whole pile, and then we're scavenging for MORE things to keep her busy. Today is Carmen appreciation day...and she's OFF!

One more bit of Friday fun to share. Last week during my finger disability, I was in charge of desserts for a monthly church event. Last month I shared some of my "fun with food" with you for the same event, including the lovely Twinkie school buses. 

This month I had planned a spooky theme, just didn't anticipate how hard it would be to work with a finger splint. I baked a bunch of gingerbread cutouts before, cats and pumpkins. Then I conned my clever friends, Julie and Saundra, to come over the decorate them...skeleton style...great job!

While they labored with the pastry bags, I put together some easy witch's hats and brooms, a la Pinterest!

If you need an EASY (but tasty) project to do with kids or grandkids, these were super quick, and everyone thought they were cute! And I found it necessary to eat any Reese's, Kisses or Fudge Stripe cookies that were "imperfect". Sometimes that happens...

This will be the LAST post lamenting my finger disability (sigh). Just know...I typed this SLOWLY with my ring and pinkie fingers hitting the keys the long finger usually does...think about it

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's a LONG finger?

According to my hand surgeon, Dr. Chan, it's the finger between the ring finger and the index finger. You know, the one commonly referred to as the "middle finger" or "third finger". There's a handy fact you can add to your medical knowledge!

For me, it's the finger that chose to grow an unsightly cyst on the knuckle near the fingernail. Then afore-mentioned cyst decided to grow to "witch-like" proportions, just in time for Halloween. Alan swears it would have made any costume I chose more authentic this year, but I chose to have Dr. Chan remove the extremely sore/ugly/growing larger by the day/constantly getting bumped even though hidden under multiple bandaids little thing last week.

Insert ugly picture here - I'm sparing you the BEFORE image.

Do you ever have that experience where you wish you had asked more medical questions in advance? Where the doc says "small procedure, minimal recovery, blah, blah, blah"...and afterwards you would describe it quite differently???

Fast forward to Alan and I leaving the minor surgery center last Wednesday and me looking like this! I'm propping up the right hand because my arm is still dead (anesthetized) from the shoulder to my un-tingly fingertips.

I was too traumatized to ask what might possibly be lurking under the unbelievably large splint...stitches, glue, a replacement finger...I'll have to wait 2 more weeks to find out.

Meanwhile, back at work after a fuzzy few painkiller-adled days (and a couple bouts of finger claustrophobia - not kidding), I'm rapidly discovering what I can/cannot do. Doc's official instructions forbid "grasping, lifting anything over 2 pounds". Really? Twould be a miracle to really grasp something with this extra appendage in the way!

I can type...slowly/...badly...weirdly trying to get ither finger s to do the work that long finger usually does. Case in poijnt,  this uncorrected text! Note to silly self...I must learn to appreciate hte LONG finger more in the future.

THINGS I CANNOT DO and must enlist help from kind husband
* wash my own hair - thankfully can still manage flat iron myself
* cook if it involves using knife - darn - more takeout
* laundry - you know how heavy those clothes are!
* open my car door easily - left hand is SO uncoordinated
* cut fabric with the rotary cutter (thanks for your help, Carmen)

The list goes on, but I won't bore you and my hand is crampy weird and requesting more Tylenol.

With apologies to all of you with SERIOUS medical issues...
If you have a funny "minor" surgery story to share, (or a spare tasty casserole to drop off), you are welcome to do it HERE!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

40 years and counting

Counting what? 40 years since I graduated from the hallowed halls of Wichita North High School!

I just attended my 40 year high school reunion last weekend, and emerged smiling and unscathed. It seems every year we care a little less about who/what we were in high school, and care a little more about just seeing each other. Hey, it's a miracle just to recognize some of my classmates!

I started the weekend with lunch with 3 of my best buds from high school (actually, two friends I've known since grade school). We met at NuWay, the quintessential Wichita diner that has been there longer than us. Conveniently, it's just around the corner from my house. I'm the happy one, 2nd from left, slurping on my cherry limeade, eagerly anticipating my NuWay burger (no onion, extra pickle).

Later that night we met at a local bar and did the usual reunion thing...wore nametags with our photos from our senior yearbooks! Actually, this was really useful, even if a little painful. Note to other reunion attenders...don't bring spouses to these events. We have enough trouble recognizing each other, and spouses are just confusing. 

Alas, have no idea why I wasn't smiling for my picture. Maybe that Farrah Fawcett hairstyle was stressing me out?!And I have to note that my hair has mysteriously grown blonder over the years....hmmmmmm.

Maybe I wasn't smiling because I was bemoaning my departure from this beautiful old school! Even when I was young, I appreciated the lovely architecture of North High. Sure, there were some drawbacks to attending a high school that's old enough to be on the Historic Register (really, it IS on the Historic Register!). No air-conditioning meant sliding around on your wooden desks on hot days, not to mention a swimming pool that was condemned. But a new school would never have the beautiful Proverbs scripture engraved on the wall under the tower (see it above to right of tower).

North is famous for it's terra cotta artwork adorning the exterior building, including the nearby "matching" bridge. North sits on the site of the original native American settlement in Wichita on the Arkansas river, hence all the Indian motifs.

I have fond memories of canoeing on the river in gym class. It was sure easy to tip over a canoe with 4 laughing high school girls inside who may/may not have been following instructions from the gym teacher shouting on the shore.

We were greeted on the school tour by the famous buffalo "Butch". He's been there forever, though he doesn't hang in the same spot as when I attended. North has had several multi-million dollar renovations since I left, and he had to find new grazing grounds. Before he was well affixed to the wall, he was often stolen by opposing high schools. Strange, he hadn't aged a bit!

A good natured batch of cheerleaders led groups of reunioners through the halls. My graduating class had 600+ seniors, but the school isn't as crowded now. The hallways above was news to us, as a wing has been added along the river recently - we never saw the river unless we were skipping school and going to the nearby island (not that I participated in this).

My husband came along to photo document our tour. Thanks, Alan, for snapping alot of pics along the way and allowing me to be in the pictures!

One highlight for Alan and I was visiting a painting that hangs in the "permanent collection". Our daughter, Sarah, did this reproduction of the famous American Gothic when she was a senior. Now she's busy teaching high school art in Chicago at Lane Tech

We also visited the pretty outdoor courtyard (also a recent addition) and managed to find the bricks we donated in our daughter's names.

There are about a zillion photos in the halls of past classes, and we had to have a look! Would you believe the photos from the 70s are in black and white? YIKES!

We finished the tour with an optional climb to the top-secret TOWER. Even the location of the entrance is a secret to students, although it's pretty easy to discern where it must be. Alas, Alan stayed on the ground as I trudged up floor after floor of tight winding steps to the Non-Alumni allowed! I'd show you some pics of the inside, but....wait...that's a North High secret!

The stairs were worth it, though, as I looked out through stained glass windows at
beautiful city views. It's a North tradition that Seniors visit the tower and leave names/messages on the walls. Almost a 100 years of senior scrawls is quite a mess, but what fun!

Forty years and counting! I'll close with the school motto....Once a Redskin, Always a Redskin!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Part 2 and more October goodies!

What's happening at L*K? We're shipping new designs on October 4, so things are humming around here. The Boxers are piling up in anticipation of their date with the shipping table.

Sadly, all the other new releases aren't here yet...YIKES! They're all marooned at the printer where they're having equipment problems. They've promised delivery soon and we may have to call in some elves this weekend to get everything sacked and assembled in time. I sense a Mexi-food emergency, because Mexi-food is my go-to for extra energy and stress control!

Here's what's coming to your favorite needlework shop in October!

Part 1 Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler
Here's the cover! Look closely and you can catch more sneak peeks of the whole mysterious stitchery. The little Christmas bird (center of pic) is included in the Part 2 design. If you haven't joined in the mystery club, it's never too late. Just contact your LNS to order the charts, and optional fabric and fiber packs. Just for this project, L*K is in the fiber and fabric biz, and are providing the "whole deal", just to make your lives easier.

#161 Flora McSample's 2013 Stockings
Flora is our young sampler friend, and every year she designs a set of Christmas ornaments. This year she decided to do little stockings, and we're glad she did! Chartpak includes set of 3 mini-stocking patterns, as well as embellishments (buttons and beads) for all 3 projects. These stockings are small, but they're BIG on vintage charm and holiday spirit!

#160 Life is Not Measured
We've had a lot of requests for this wonderful saying, so here it is! It's not too big and not too small, just a satisfying size to stitch...and enjoy for many years!

B45 Good Friends are Like Angels Inspiration Boxer
Amen! The older I get, the more I value my friendships...both long-time friends and precious new friends! Kit includes 30 ct. natural linen, hand-dyed muted blue flower buttons and a tiny golden heart for the bonus "Angel" design.

What is THIS? I know it has NOTHING to do with the rest of this post, but I wanted to share my passion for "playing with my food". I made these cute little Twinkie school buses last week for a church event with a Back to School theme. Let me tell you...there aren't a lot of school themed things to do with food! 

I found this project on Pinterest (of course!) and got to work sawing the fronts off some Twinkies to turn them into buses. They would have looked much lovelier if I had bothered to put frosting in a pastry bag, blah, blah, blah, but everyone loved them. And we're still enjoying the remainder of the giant bag of M & M's I bought for the wheels!

The wheels on the bus go round and round.....