Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's good to be Santa!

My church has a very cool partnership with a nearby elementary school. If you lived at our church, you could easily walk to school!

Park Elementary is a downtown school in a beautiful historic building with a newer addition. The student body has a 96% poverty rate. Our fabulous Christian education director, Libby, thinks of a zillion ways to involve as many members of our congregation with Park Elementary as possible!

We tutor and mentor in the classrooms, help with enrollment, send treats for the teachers, help the nurse and office staff, and generally try to meet (or exceed) the requests and needs of the students and staff. Every week 30-40 of us are in the building, hanging with kids and teachers, and re-entering the world of elementary education! Did I mention that most of the kids at Park are bi-lingual? Almost 90% of the students are Spanish/English speakers...I'm so envious! Below are some smiling 4th graders I tutored at Park.

Earlier this week, we hosted the annual school Christmas Program at our church. The sanctuary was overflowing with students, staff and families...what a blessing!

So...when our Sunday School class was looking for a family to help at Christmas, we asked the Park social worker for a suggestion. This year we're excited to help a lovely family with 6 kids, including one special needs child. After some cajoling, we got a small list from them, and the pile of presents is growing, along with my Christmas MY house! We've taken their minimal list and expanded it!

I'm the coordinator for this year's effort, so it's looking a bit like Santa's workshop in my piano room. I am piling the presents in here, so they don't get mixed up with our family gifts.

 Today is the big day for us to deliver the's SO fun to play Santa every year! This morning I went to Sam's Club with Libby and we shopped for food staples....GIANT bags of rice and beans, laundry soap, TP, soap, cooking oil, etc. My little sleigh (car) was full!

Later a few friends showed up to help me load gifts (I needed another car trunk!) and we delivered to our family. After we stashed all the gifts under the tree and into the frig, we took a picture with the smiling Mom and her darling 2 year old daughter.

As my friend Deb and I rode home, we chatted about our experience. We both agreed it was the highlight of our busy holiday season...and the real spirit of the!  It was a delight to help this family and make their holiday season merrier.  What a blessing!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Freaky Friday!

WARNING!  Do not proceed to read if you are squeamish about MINOR medical procedures!  Just close this post and wait until the next one appears. The next post will be about something sweet and holiday-ish and probably needlework related!

If you dare to continue, I wanted to share about my recent adventure at the dermatologist. To make a long (potentially boring) story short, I had a suspicious brown spot on my arm. I thought it was a freckle, my doc thought it was a big freckle and the derm wanted to have a closer look. After a little biopsy, and inconclusive lab work, they decided to take a bigger bite out of my arm...just to be sure.

I seem to be more and squeamish about medical stuff as I get older, so when I came home from the derm a week ago with this icky stitchery on my arm, I wasn't too thrilled!  And it is my STITCHING (translation - working) arm! At least I didn't have to cut any fabric all week. I wasn't supposed to put pressure on it, or lift stuff.  That rotary cutter takes a bit of muscle as I propel it through several layers of linen. Unfortunately, no one else cut those giant bolts of fabric this week, either!

Anyway, just returned from the derm, got the scary (very itchy!) stitches out, and I am good to go. The lab work came back good (praise the Lord!) and I'm anxious for the little stitchy marks on my arm to plump up and fade away. 

All I want for Christmas is...stitches on my new cross stitch designs...and not on my arm!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stained Glass Cookies!!

I took a "personal day" off from L*K today. Sadly, I absolutely cannot remember the last time I took a (almost whole) day off during the middle of the week!  I hopped on the turnpike, in the rain, and drove an hour to nearby Winfield, KS to spend a day baking with my good friend Julie. We've been friends since our college days, so that is a very long time!

Just to get an idea of what fab personal style Julie has, here is a pic of her charming house! Isn't it looking classically wonderful, all decked out for the holidays? Julie has a great kind of charming, homespun style that makes you feel welcome. I always admire all of her special touches at Christmas, especially her baking!  So I went for a hands-on tutorial on her famous Stained Glass Cookies.

The first step was smashing the Jolly Rancher candies that would be the "glass" in our cookies. Armed with a hammer, we smashed 5 different colors of candies. 

Then we mixed up the cookie dough,(similar to sugar cookie dough), rolled it out and started cutting out shapes.  The tricky part is, you need 2 sizes of cutters for each shape. One for the outside shape of the cookie, and a smaller cutter to remove the inside shape. While Julie rolled and cut, I filled each cookie with the crushed candies. You don't have to be too neat, but you need enough to "fill" the cookie. If you plan to hang the cookies, like Julie does, you need to put a little hang-hole in the top of the cookie with a toothpick.

After about 10 minutes in the oven, we pulled the little masterpieces out and let them cool. After we removed them from the cookie sheets, we inserted ribbons and hung them in Julie's windows. She has a very organized system of curtain rods and ribbons she uses every year.

Here are the finished cookies, ready for viewing now and (Julie tells me this happens) eating later! I'm still trying to figure out how to hang my cookies in my kitchen windows. I don't have any clever window treatments to hide the curtain rods - maybe those little plastic suction cups?

Whatever! It was an awesome day away from my desk and into the small town world of Winfield, Kansas. I also got to see several other Winfield girlfriends when we went to the weekly Wed. lunch gang - what a bonus! After lunch, we made some cinnamon pecans - quite yummy and refreshingly quick after our stained glass adventures. After all of this baking,  I returned home in time to BLOG and cook dinner!  

It was a great day to breathe a little in the midst of the holiday busyness. Julie's faithful dog Sam wasn't feeling ANY holiday stress as he kept us company in her cozy kitchen! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Out the (snowy) door!

YEA! The auto ships left the office yesterday afternoon!  Alan trekked overflowing US Mail totes to the post office, and piled UPS boxes on the driveway. We felt sorry for the UPS if he wasn't busy enough! We'll have to make sure Santa puts something extra in his stocking this year.

Henry, the grand-dog, thought this was some sort of game, so you can catch a glimpse of him racing through on the left side of the pic.

THREE NEW DESIGNS are whizzing their way to needlework shops near you (or maybe slogging through the holiday shipping rush)!  Here's the new lineup - the final L*K products for 2011.

*Faith Inspiration Boxer (see Dec. 5 post for preview)
*A Good Marriage Kit (see Dec. 2 post for sneak peek)
*Flora McSample's 2011 Ornaments - below!!

Our sampler girl Flora decided to do a set of ornaments at the last minute - you know how busy she is!  These little guys turned out so cute, I took them in the house and photographed them on my little kitchen Christmas tree. If you don't have time for more Christmas stitching this year, no worry....Christmas rolls around this time every year!  Just put them in your stocking now, or add them to your list, so you're ready when you have time (next summer?). 

I don't know about you, but my calendar is CRAZY between now and Christmas. This week I have an event every evening! On the coming weekend, I have to choose between some double-booked times, with 2 things I really want to do at the same time (both out of town!). To cope with all this holiday busyness,  I'm aiming to adopt a positive attitude...embrace it, not fight it! I'll keep you posted on how this works...meanwhile...

Here's wishing you all a very Joyous Christmas season!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday,'s just that day

Ah...the refrain from the old Mama's and Papa's song...if you're old enough to remember that classic melody! We need a weekend to recover from our uber-busy weekend.

*watched 2 important football games on TV - KState Wildcats WON!!
*watched 1 basketball game on TV (attempt to see local high school BB game was unsuccessful - sold out!)
*attended winter outdoor decor workshop (I'm enjoying my new wintry porch pot, pic below)
*toured 3 historic homes, all decked out for Christmas
*wrapped my first Christmas presents
*went to church, Sunday school, dinner with friends afterwards

AND...made almost a thousand of the new Faith Inspiration Boxer kits! We toted pre-assembled kit materials to the house and set up a couple temp tables in the family room, so we could watch TV while we worked. We kitted through ballgames, our favorite shows and even a episode of the Tudors from Netflix. Is anyone else watching this series? I feel a little smarter just for watching this historic account of the life of Henry VIII!

Now the finished kits are in our office and we're packing orders for shops all over the US and around the world. We do about 10% of our biz outside the US...who knew? We'll ship everyone on the same day - Wed. - but there's a lot of work between now and then.

Below is a SNEAK PEEK of the new B36 Faith Inspiration Boxer. Now that you can see the bottom of the verse, can you guess the top part?

Each Inspiration Boxer comes with a BONUS design inside. Here is a pic of the sweet little bonus design for the Faith kit. It echoes the colors I used in the main kit project - they are yummy! The kit includes the patterns and embellishments for both projects, including heart charm and beads on photo above. was nice to sit and do this post...but it's back to work at the shipping table! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Busy Weekend!!

What are you doing this weekend? Christmas shopping? Cleaning the house? Hanging with the family? We have exciting plans here at L*K world headquarters...we're kitting and packing boxes. WOO-HOO!!!

Next week is our final new product release for 2011. It's a small one - 3 products - but we're excited about all of them. Just in case you need something new to stitch over the holidays, or want to "drop some hints" about what you want in your stocking on Christmas morning, we're happy to provide the designs!

Today we're kitting the new "A Good Marriage" kit. Scroll back to our Nov. 18 post for another preview photo of this kit.  Now we have the printing in hand, and the elves (Alan, Linda and Carmen) are busy putting all the pieces together. Here's another sneak preview of the bottom of the design! This kit will come with full skeins of beautiful overdyed threads, and DMC threads to fill in the small spaces. You choose your favorite fabric, whatever count you like, and start working on a real heirloom piece! This design would be awesome for Valentine's Day, or any day you want to honor marriage...your own, or maybe some relatives or friends.

Tonight we're taking a break in kitting to go to an old-fashioned Friday night high school basketball game.  Our kids graduated years ago, (one of them teaches high school!) but it's great, cheap entertainment. And you get to YELL and stomp your feet...very therapeutic!!!

Check back tomorrow and we'll update progress on another new product and post a sneak peak photo. Happy Weekend!