Monday, March 21, 2011

I made a B!

Dear Shayne,

As promised, I had a date with my new Cross Stitch Letters Bible this past weekend and I made... a B!
Lovely letter B

I am soooo happy with it! I see many more letters in my future!

Meanwhile... now I've got to decide how to frame it. Ah, that mythical Final Step. Heh.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cross Stitch Letters BIBLE!

Dear Shayne,

I found a super-fantastic awesome book last week: The Cross Stitch Letters BIBLE. Not only does it have a ton of freakin' awesome letters to cross stitch, but it also turned out to contain my own personal Holy Grail.

But I'll tell you all about that in a minute.

First, a bunch of photos. (Seriously -- a bunch. Do you have a few minutes? Get ready...)

Here's the cover (Ooh la la! It's French!)

And just so you can grasp the sheer cram-packed AWESOMENESS of this thing, check out the thickness:

It's a BIBLE, Shayne. A bible.

It ranges from tiny letters to large. Here are some small ones (there are also some that are super tiny -- like, 1 or 2 ... [what do you call the smallest unit of measurement in cross-stitch? Not a pica... a thread? A count? Whatever. The smallest square unit.] tall!)

But these are a little taller than that -- and kah-yute!

I like this extended one at the top of the page...

Each alphabet is numbered, and that number goes up to [flips through many pages...] 739. Wow. And that does not include the numbers!

Here are a couple of medium-sized ones:

And some that are little bigger:

This one is kind of a cool dual color -- hard to see in the photo, but the red is outlined by black:

I am a sucker for one really ornate single letter. I foresee some monogram-y gifts in my near future. Like this:

Or this:

This one would be great for a little girl -- or someone who loves butterflies (so sweet!):

This one is kind of fun, but perhaps for whole words:

And I think this one is my favorite one in the whole book -- I love how it looks like there's a string of pearls intertwined with the letters:

As I mentioned, there are also numbers:

And even a bunch of alphabets on the bias, which is really neat:

But, Shayne, remember about 4000 photos ago, when I mentioned that this book contains my personal Holy Grail? Are you still there? And interested in hearing this story?

A couple of years ago, I cut out an image from a magazine of a cross-stitched letter A and I hung it on the Inspiration Board I made a few years back. Here's the clipping:

(Looking at it now, I realize it's probably from Chez Sucre Chez -- she sure does make great stuff!)

At the time, I thought, "Wow. I would like to make a 'B' [the first initial of my last name] in this font!" So I poked around the internet and... never found it. Since then, I have checked out decorative letters in various books and still... never found it.

As I was flipping through this Bible in the store, the skies opened up and a ray of sun shone down upon me. Look what I found:

It's within a few stitches of the one I had at home! Yesss! And right next to it? Why, yes, that would be a B!

I don't know why I've been so enamored with that exact font, Shayne, but I have. And it is now in my very own hands! So you know what I'll be doing this weekend... (photos coming soon!)


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wine not?

Dear Shayne,

Since we're already making liqueurs and beers, why not round it off with an Alcoholic Hat Trick, right? Yup, we're also making... wine!

Can't take too much credit for this, as we are involved with 2 other couples who have waaaay more wine-making experience than we do, so we were really along for the ride, contributing money, muscle, and plenty of tasting to the cause.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos during the pressing. Such a bummer. While we did not do it Ethel and Lucy style, it was still pretty cool.

But here are a few other photos...

In October, we transferred the wine from the steel barrels to the oak barrels for the final few months. This is the last part of the transfer:

Right before bottling, we had to clean and sterilize all of our bottles. Since we did not have a bottle rack, we drilled a bunch of holes in a sheet of plywood and put it between two sawhorses. Worked great:

We bottled the wine a few weeks ago -- here it is, coming out of the barrel:

And here it is, filling the bottles:

We got about 8 cases of wine out of the deal. Here they are, filling the Mini:

(Heh. Mini full o' wine. Pretty great!)

I'm pleased to report that the wine is... GOOD! As with all of these crazy alcohol endeavors, it's hard to know how things are going to turn out as we invest many months into making the final product. So I'm happy it worked out!

Now I need to work on making labels... :)


Monday, March 07, 2011

Bill makes beer

Dear Shayne,

For Christmas, I bought Bill a beer making kit from MoreBeer (which is a super fun place to visit). Over the past month or so, he... made beer! This is my not-at-all-technical observation of what happened along the way...

First, boil stuff in a big ol' kettle (this makes the house into a hop-py sauna):
Bill makes beer: Step 1
Then get it going into a big jug:
Bill makes beer: Step 2
Let the jug sit for awhile. During that time, use a fancy chemistry set to check stuff:
Bill makes beer: Step 3
Then bottle the beer (this day is very exciting):
Bill makes beer: Step 4
Use a super cool tool to secure bottle caps on the bottles (which I am a little bit in love with, I must admit):
Bill makes beer: Step 5
After two weeks of letting it sit in the bottles, pour that bad boy:
Bill makes beer: Step 6
Look! It's beer!
Bill makes beer: Step 7
(That's the cool glass that Bill's brother Bob had made for his Bachelor Party in 2009 -- the "Billchelor" Party. Get it? Heh.)

And it tastes GOOD!! (Go, Bill!)


Friday, March 04, 2011


Dear Shayne,

As I reported in October and January, we wanted to make limoncello for Christmas gifts, but our lime tree ended up being more prolific than the lemon tree, so we made "lime-cello."

Some of the lemons have since showed up, and I have also gotten contributions from my friends Jan (Hi, Jan!) and Hollie (Hi, Hollie!) so I currently have 3 batches in progress. The first of which will be ready to bottle next week. Whee!
Future limoncello

Meanwhile, let me tell you all about my potential Limoncello Fail...

I wanted to experiment using two different kinds of vodka: Smirnoff (which I used in the original lime-cello) and Absolut. A full batch is 2 bottles of vodka, so I split up my lemons and made two half-batches: one Absolut, and one Smirnoff. (I'm so clever.)

Once the lemon zest gets mixed in with the vodka, that concoction sits for 45 days before the simple syrup is added.

Turns out, 45 days is enough time for me to completely forget that I was making half of a batch, so I made a full batch of simple syrup and dumped that right on into one of my half-batches! (Did you hear me yelling "FUUUUDGGGEE" from there?) (Only, it was not "fudge.")

What to do? What to do? I could not remove the syrup and I didn't want to waste that batch, so I went ahead and mixed both of my half-batches together. Kind of destroys my little experiment, but I'm sure it will all turn out. I mean, it's vodka, lemons, and sugar -- how bad could it be? (I am hoping these are not words to regret...)

Meanwhile, I should have anticipated this, as it's a chronic problem of mine: "Oh, I'll just make half the batch... half of this, half of that... what was I doing? Right... cooking! Recipe says 1 cup? Okay! In it goes!" Grrr.