Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas Post


The frantic-ness of Christmas is over and we finally have a day to breathe, sit around in our new PJs, watch new movies, and eat leftover cookies. Now this is what Christmas is all about! (Not really)


After doing a little tatting tally, I figured out that I have completed round one of the 25 motif challenge. In fact, I've more than completed it. Since August, I have made:
  • 3 hearts
  • 3 dragons
  • 14 leaves
  • a handful of tidbits
 Several more Cross "Hope" bookmarks--this time done in Christmas colors

The idea of covering our Thanksgiving table with scattered leaves only half worked. I was able to finish 14 of them, and sprinkle them on a side table. I loved how it looked, but can't find the picture--even though I know I took one.

In spite of being done with the Challenge, I don't think it's done with me. I'm going to do it again, but this time, I'm going to tighten the parameters of what counts as a Motif. For me at least.
I received a treasure trove of tatting pattern books for Christmas from my In-Laws. Since we are just beginning the drawn-out-will-it-never-end part of winter, I'd like to tat a flurry of snowflakes. The "Snow Mobile" that the girls and I have put up for a number of years got mangled after we took it down last year. Paper snowflakes don't hold up to much abuse. I want to work on replacing them.

My challenge is going to be to complete 25 tatted pieces in the next year. However, they have to be patterns that I can't complete in one sitting. That means that each one will need to take a minimum of 4 hours. 3 hours seems to be my embroidery or tatting limit for one day. 

The hardest part will be choosing which new pattern to work on first!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hoppy Holidays

Bunnies are such good sports. This is Poppy. She and her sister, Pansy, are our two new Orange babies. I had to share.

 Vinca, a Blue Otter doe, has stolen our hearts with her kissing. Maybe we should name her Mistletoe instead.

We have 8 tiny reindeer, but no sleigh. Maybe next year. I have several people trying to talk me into doing a calendar. Hmmm....sounds like a lot of work to me.

If you didn't squeal when you saw the pictures, there is something wrong with you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tat's a Wrap

Since I still haven't managed to unplug myself from the grid during the holidays, this last month has been crazy. Just like it has been for everyone else. If the Christmas season isn't crazy and stressful for you, for pity's sake, let the rest of us in on your secret, please!

Goodies are being baked, gatherings attended, and gifts made and wrapped. Yadda yadda...and humbug (not really).

In spite of being forced to take time off from tatting while my finger healed from a nasty mishap involving a sharp pointy object and a soda bottle, I have managed to finish the last few projects that I was planning as gifts. Other than being tatted, they have nothing whatsoever in common.

 Cross "Hope", pattern available on In Tatters--Lizbeth thread, size 20, in white and Christmas green mix (#601, 152). I really like how the colors lined up on this one. It was an easy pattern and will probably become a staple. I added a somewhat random Josephine chain to make it a bookmark.

 I really hope she doesn't read here, because this dragon is for Renee. She loved the green and gold one that I have, so I made this one for her. I think these are more her colors though, and I love how they look on Anne's Dragon. The thread is Lizbeth Black and  Falling Leaves (#604, 100), both in size 20. Someday, I'm going to be brave and tat this pattern in something really tiny, like a size 80 or 100.
Renee, if you are reading, act surprised.

I couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted to make a wreath or a snowflake, so I tatted Jon Yusef's Hearts in a Snowflake pattern in Christmas colors. Again, with Lizbeth size 20, in Christmas Red and Leaf Green medium (#671, 684--I think). This pattern was not difficult, but it was the first thing that I made after my boo-boo, so I'd like to try it again (with beads) sometime when my hand is less...gimpy. My tension needs to be more consistent on this one.

I've lost count, but I think I'm somewhere near 19 or 20 motifs for the challenge now. Not far now!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

North to South Pecan Pralines

After spending only 10 months in the development stage, I proudly present to you, my long-suffering readers, the recipe for the most expensive candy you'll ever think about making--Pecan Pralines, done Nitrocat style.

North to South Pecan Pralines

Equipment needed:
Silicone treated parchment paper
candy thermometer (I prefer the professional type where the bulb is housed in a metal frame--cost $10)
Vehicle, fuel, overnight bag and hotel reservations

3/4 c butter
1/2 c white sugar
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c bourbon maple syrup*
1/8 t salt
3 c pecan pieces
2 t bourbon or rum

*Drive to the General Store in Minnetonka, MN and purchase the Bourbon Maple Syrup that they sell there. Drive home. (cost of 900 mile overnight trip plus syrup: $276.50)
Cover counter top with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, blend white sugar, confectioner's sugar, brown sugar and salt with a fork or pastry cutter until fine with no lumps. Measure other ingredients and have them ready to hand.
In a 2 quart heavy saucepan (with candy thermometer in place), melt butter over medium low heat. Add milk and syrup and stir until well combined with a heat resistant or wooden spatula (I like the ones with the flat bottom). From this point on, you must not stop stirring! Don't forget to move the thermometer occasionally and stir behind it too. Slowly add the sugars and mix well. Cook on medium low heat to 238* (soft ball stage). Cooking time should take about 10 minutes. Remove thermometer and remove from heat. Add the bourbon and stir well. Add the pecans and stir until fully incorporated. Working quickly, drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen.

Now drive to Louisiana to share with your friend. Try not to eat all the Pralines before you get there. (cost for 1700 mile round trip...oh, nevermind. You get the idea.)

*It is also possible to mail order this syrup from Three Rivers Farm, but where's the fun in that?