Monday, November 28, 2011

How I beat the "back to work" blues (plant therapy!!)

UGHHH! Who wants to go back to work after a long weekend? We barely had time to rest, between hosting the big turkey feast at our house, then traveling to hang out with tons more family in KC.

And then the pressure is starting to build in my head, along with the lists on my desk. We're working hard at L*K to ship a new product release next week, so things are in high gear around here. At the same time, these nagging messages flooding my brain...need to decorate house for Christmas, need to shop, need to make sure everyone has the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!

When I feel overwhelmed, I indulge in a little plant therapy!! Lots of gals like to shop for clothes. Me, I like to shop for plants! I brought home the first 2 poinsettias yesterday (I'm sure there will be more) and my kitchen instantly brightened.

I bought a new baby fern for my desktop terrarium. It's a lot of happy for $2.99. I bought this terrarium a couple years ago when I was in Franklin, Tennessee for our annual February market. I hope to snag another one at the same cute store next year. It's low maintenance, no worry, happy desk material! Just keep the lid on and leave it...all that photosynthesis stuff you learned in 7th grade biology!

For some inexplicable reason, my Christmas cactus from last year is gorgeous...again. I tucked it outside this summer and nearly forgot about it until we had freezing temps at night. When I found it, there were flower buds forming. Who knew such bad care was just what it needed for a beautiful show of fuchsia flowers? And nestled next to the cactus is my shamrock plant from last St. Pat's day...also putting on an unseasonal show of snowy white flowers.

My upstairs studio/office has windows on four sides, so it's quite a greenhouse effect in here. I LOVE sunlight!  In addition to my plant menagerie, I'm babysitting a dozen plans for a friend who is working in Haiti. I'm determined to keep her plants alive, as we eagerly anticipate her return. And I just brought in a batch of outdoor plants to winter inside, so it's positively GREEN in here!

I hope all of you have a very merry, green holiday season!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A "Tail" of Two Turkeys!

In between all the cooking, eating and napping...I decided to BLOG!  And since it's Thanksgiving, I have "turkey on the brain"...and in my stomach!

We had 2 turkeys on our table this year!!  Woohoo!

Our first gobbler came out for appetizers while the big bird was still in the oven. He's a pretty popular guy - this was his 3rd appearance this week!  I made him with a honeydew melon, red pear, red pepper, red fruit rollup, raisins and a cheesy nose. He was really fun to make and take to various events. I just restocked his feathers with whatever was in the fridge - fruit, cheese, summer sausage - and he was ready to travel!

The main event turkey was prepared by my "turkey novice" husband Alan, with assistance by daughter Ali. He was the star of the meal. I'm not crazy about handling that big raw bird, so they graciously cleared me of that responsibility. The best part was, I didn't have to touch him until he was golden brown and headed for the table...and my mouth!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Who wants A Good Marriage?

Really? How? We're not marriage therapists here at L*K, but we're busy working on a cool new kit called "A Good Marriage" and we're excited to give you a sneak peek! The text is an adaptation from a longer work called "The Art of Marriage" by Wilferd Peterson. We've shortened it, changed the language a bit, and added lots of L*K fun and flair.

The model is all stitched and framed (in a beautiful vintage-look frame from Huneywood), so now we're busy with publishing and production. Above is a SNEAK PEEK of the top part of the design.

For the "publishing" part of the project, I've been working with my awesome graphic designer Janice to make everything look beautiful. Janice did the color backgrounds on the front and back cover, and arranged all the important info I gave her to look nice. Above are some of our proofs, with corrections noted. We'll send files back and forth several times until we're happy with the changes and the finished look. In the middle of this, I send the files (and the actual model) to my proofer Debbie, so I have an extra set of eyes to look for problems. 

"Production" is actually L*K slang for BUSY WORK!  Most of the thread included with the kit will be beautiful skeins of Crescent Colours overdyed thread. But we also are using 3 DMC colors for some of the less-used colors. This helps keep our costs down...our yours, too!  We order DMC on big cones which each have 2100 meters of thread. Making thread packs is a job best done in front of the TV...note the remote in the photo!

After the DMC thread is measured, wound and sacked, we toss them in a big US Mail tote. These big totes are useful in a hundred ways around the L*K office, including their intended use to carry the mail. The tote only has a couple hundred thread packs so far, so it needs to be full before we start assembling kits. There's a big football game party at our house this weekend, so...maybe more thread packs will appear!

Have a happy weekend!  TGIF!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talkin' turkey!!

I hope you all know that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK...whoa! I'm in charge of dinner for 12, so I'm busy making lists and assigning food for family to bring. I'm not planning to do it all myself - horrors! I'm a little nervous about the turkey because usually I assign this slimy task to my daughter Sarah and son-in-law Jeff. They handle that (gross) raw bird, fill him full of who-knows-what and babysit his lengthy stay in the oven. They can't come home this year, so I'm plotting to assign this task to someone else. If I have to handle the icky bird, (before it's roasted to golden perfection), I will lose my appetite!!


Speaking of turkeys, my daughter Sarah sent me this cute photo of some colorful turkeys that her K-2 students made this week in her art class. These gobblers are now decorating the halls of Medora, Indiana Elementary School!

As you continue to stroll the halls of elementary academia, these tasty looking corn stalks were provided by the talented 1st graders! I'm pretty sure these rural Hoosiers are well acquainted with corn! 

Being in a turkey mood myself, I made these cupcakes for a women's group I attend at church. I found the "recipe" for these gobblers online and tried to duplicate them. If you want to make them, here's the shopping list for the goodies on top: I started with chocolate frosting (from the can!), then used candy corn (for feathers and a little white tip for the beak), red fruit rollups (for waddle thing), mini vanilla wafers (head) and black frosting (eye). GOBBLE, GOBBLE!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New York, New York!!!

Be a part of it....New York, New York! And we were! Our long-time friends Julie and Greg recruited us to join them to watch their son Luke run the New York Marathon, and we were happy to round out the Luke Thompson fan club.

Of all the pics I took of Luke running, not a single one captured this speedy young man (you know that delay between pushing the button and the photo actually shooting?), so here is our hero after he finished. That's Luke wrapped up in 2 blankets, wearing a stocking cap, and still shivering to keep warm. The weather was gorgeous, but after you run 26 miles and suddenly stop, you can get really cold. Luke finished his 26.2 miles in 3 hours, 3 minutes and 3 seconds...what a guy!

Like crazed Kansans, we chased Luke all over the city, hopping on and off subways, hoping for a glimpse as he ran by. And...amazingly...we saw him 3 times!  When you consider the probability of finding Luke among the 47,000 runners, we felt really fortunate.  As we navigated the crowded subways wearing our purple Kansas State University gear, we made lots of friends. (It turns out their are lots of former Kansans living in NYC.)  Other marathon fan clubs were more "professional" than us, and pulled out notebooks of calculations and maps, carefully plotting their runner's paths. We relied on the marathon route map, the subway map, and luck!!! Greg had purchased an official marathon phone ap that was supposed to send us periodic updates on Luke's progress, via a chip on his bib. Sadly,  we never got a single email update, so we tracked him the old-fashioned way.

The old subways are full of beautiful (underground) tile work and I snapped this photo of a really cool tile mural. The subways were crowded and a little confusing (and sometimes not too clean!), but we encountered so many friendly people. Lots of people offered to help us navigate and gave us lots of good advice...who knew New Yorkers were so friendly?!

After the race day, we got down to business exploring the city. We've done all the usual tourist destinations in the past, so we revisited some of our favorite sites, and boldly ventured into new territory. We walked so much each day, I felt like I'd run a marathon! Above, Julie and I are hanging around Times Square, with about a zillion other people. 

We planned ahead and got tickets for one Broadway show. Before the usher told the man behind me that ALL photos (before, after or during) are prohibited I shot this great photo of the stage and set. The old theater was amazing and beautiful, but the seats were so (charmingly) small and cozy!

One of our favorite activities was a Walking Food Tour of Greenwich Village. I had booked this in advance after our daughter Ali had enjoyed this tour earlier this year. We took the subway to meet our tour guide and other food-tasters in Greenwich Village. Then we spent 3.5 hours walking through the lovely village, away from the noise of the city. We sampled food at 8 different restaurants, and got a wonderful narration about the history and architecture of Greenwich Village along the way. Above is one of our stops, a charming little bakery called Milk & Cookies. I would definitely return to tour a different part of the city with this tour company...we met great people and ate yummy was even educational!

Back in the city, we happened upon an iconic little business. Does anyone remember the "Soup Nazi" character from Seinfeld? Yup, he's still there dishing out!

After dark, we were excited to walk by Macy's and find their giant tree already up and the cute "Believe" clock ticking it's way toward Christmas. 

The skating rink at Rockefeller Center was in full swing with lots of eager skaters. Alas, we packed our bags and winged our way back to the "Land of Oz" and back to work. NYC was really a change of pace and alot of fun. But, as our favorite film character Dorothy says..."There's no place like home!"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Before the freeze...and after I love thee! After our hideously HOT summer, autumn has been such a sweet relief. The plants that survived the summer, like the sweet potato vines, have thrived and look all fat and lovely again. The mums are blooming, and the kales are funky and colorful.

Above is a little pic of the daily commute from our house to our office - almost 50 steps away!

And right by our back door is perhaps the largest mum known to mankind, hanging out with a giant purple kale and some asparagus ferns that are sighing in relief at the cooler temps.

But you know, this "fall bliss" doesn't last long. We've had several frosty nights this week and I had to put the little coat on granddog Henry for our walk early this AM - it was 28 degrees!

Alas, after last night's freeze the beautiful sweet potato vines looks more like slime. Bunches of semi-frozen leaves are falling like rain in the yard. But the sun is shining and we're looking forward to a fun weekend. It's great to live where we experience all 4 seasons...sometimes they're even in the right order!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More "inspiration" on the way!

People are always asking me where I get the "inspiration" for all of my designs. Sadly, I don't have a great answer. Here, there and everywhere! I keep files of sayings and am always happy to add those that you all send me to the lists. I also try to keep track of color trends in decor and fashion. Mostly, I just do what makes me happy at that moment...and what I hope will make all of you smile, too!

With that in mind, I'm busy working on a new series of Inspiration Boxers. We recently released the last in a 3-part Inspiration Boxer series, and these designs have been so popular...we've been surprised!  All 3 designs make their way into our daily shipping to shops around the world, so we're constantly restocking around here.

Here's a quick photo (above) of the already released designs. They are all sayings from Mother Theresa, or her adaptation of sayings from other wise people. We decided to include a bonus design with each Inspiration Boxer, so those are the small projects you see included on the photos. You can see better pics and full descriptions on our website at  Check out B33 I Know God (left), B34 When We Do (upper right) and B35 Not All of Us (lower right). Contact your local needlework shop to order!

So...I've been poring over lists of inspirational sayings and have finally narrowed it down to 3. I've been graphing all 3 designs, including the 3 bonus projects. Before I can begin stitching, I have to locate and order enough fabric for the whole series. You have to work backwards!!!  While I'm waiting to finalize that info and receive some fabric for model stitching, I decided to pull prospective threads for the series. Aren't they gorgeous? The graph on the right is one of the "bonus" designs...a little sneak peek! I'm going to stitch it tonight, because I can use a bit of fabric from my stash for the bonus project.

It's really important to eat well to "fuel" all this inspiration, so I'm working on leftover Halloween candy. I followed the important rule for selecting Halloween candy...always buy what YOU love to eat, in case of leftovers!  We had a great crop of trick-or-treaters at our door last night, probably increased by the balmy, warm weather. 

Above is a pic of our granddog Henry, ready for a busy evening greeting kiddos in his Kansas City Chiefs sweater. The Chiefs were conveniently playing during the evening, so we had a crowd of friends over to help hand out candy (the women) and focus on the game (the men!).  It took us until 11:30, but the Chiefs finally pulled out a victory!