Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mercy Goodehart's Sampler

Mercy Goodehart's Sampler, an original design by Shakespeare's Peddler
Finally, Mercy has finished her sampler.  This was definitely a labor of love, and this was a lot of fun to stitch.  I love the colors and am really pleased with the finished design.  Mercy is a fictitious stitcher, and I have sprinkled fictitious initials throughout the sampler (including RW, the initials of her instructor.)  Simon, Mercy's faithful tabby cat is up in the righthand corner, and you may notice tiny initials in each of the four corners: M, M, L and I -- for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ("I's" and "J's" were sometimes used interchangeably.)

The entire sampler is worked in lovely shades of green, gold, dark chocolate, cream...and even a pale teal blue and a vivid red...all are Needlepoint Silks.  I have also included a DMC conversion, for those who prefer to use these threads.  (See below for the supply list.)

Everyone who sees the sampler is enamored with that crazy striped bird.  He was fun to design, but even more fun to stitch.  The stitches are primarily cross stitch over-two and over-one (for the verse and other words).  I also used Algerian Eye stitches for the large alphabet.  I toyed with the idea of NOT filling in the background behind the smaller alphabet (it added considerably to my stitch time.)  I think anyone could leave the background out, but I'm actually really happy that I decided to plug away at it, as I think that cream stripe adds visually to the piece.

Supply List:

Stitch count: 315 by 273
(about 17 by 15 1/2 inches on 36 count linen)

Fabric: 36 count Vintage Exemplar by Lakeside Linens

Needlepoint Silks:
315 (I used my first skein down to the last few strands...you might need 2 skeins.)
336 (2)
587 (3)
851 (3)

Frame is by Neblitt's, my local frame shop (isn't it gorgeous?)

The chart retails for $18.00, and you can get it and the supplies on my Etsy site: Letters Great and Small.  Or ask your local shop to order it from Norden Crafts or Hoffman Distributing.

On to the next!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


It's been a busy few weeks here at the house.  My friend Sue came for a visit from Minnesota last week.  She enjoyed the MUCH MUCH (MUCH) better weather here.  Minnesota has pretty much been a frozen wasteland this winter.  

I took her one afternoon to volunteer at the thrift shop and then the shelter.  And there was a kitten who needed fostering -- she came in during an ice storm about a month ago, and several of the employees tube-fed her and her siblings.  Only Brows survived, and she is thriving.  We'll have her for four weeks or so.  She's funny, sweet, gentle, and very loving.  And what a face!

Sue suggested we tackle a craft project (something we could finish in an evening.)  I dragged out about 20 of my craft books, and she settled on a book called "Fanciful Felties from Mummysam: Sew People to Meet, Places to Go and Things to Do."  (Mummysam is also known as Samantha Cotterill...she used to sell some of her figures on Etsy, but now you can find her at www.mummysam.com.)  

You can find the book on Amazon (and yes, it qualifies for Prime) for about $8 now.  Well worth it if you like to craft.  Above are the two buildings we made.  I had a bunch of felt here, batting, thread, buttons and pins.  We weighed them down (so they'd stand up straight) with those flattened glass marbles you get for floral arrangements (I had a bag of those in my closet.)  I think they turned out really cute, and although we muttered our way through a few of our ineptitudes, we ended up with something cute that will remind us of our time together.

(These are some of the projects you can make using the book -- it really is fun to look through.)

I have been trying a lot of new recipes lately, using Pinterest as inspiration, and digging through my wonderful cookbooks.  Above is a recipe I've made about four times in the last month (the first time I made it, Harrison asked if I could make it again the next day!)  It's VERY easy and tastes like something you'd get at a great restaurant.  Although it's called "Spicy Thai Coconut Soup," it's not HOT spicy...just flavorful.  A few of the ingredients are going to be things you probably won't have on hand, but they are easily found at the grocery store.  Here is how I make mine (I have made a few adjustments.)

Theresa's Spicy Thai Coconut Soup:

Olive Oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 pound white mushroom (fresh -- sliced thin)
1 red bell pepper, cubed
1 inch of fresh ginger grated (or a few shakes of powdered/dry ginger)
4-6 cloves of minced garlic
1-2 tsp. of lemongrass paste (find this in the produce aisle)
4 tsp. Thai red curry paste
6 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Fresh chopped cilantro
Salt & Pepper
Cooked white rice (prepare this as you like -- I enjoy Jasmine rice, but you can use your favorite)

Cook the chicken breasts whole in some olive oil in a pan on the stove until finished, seasoning with salt and pepper (and you can do a little garlic powder, too).  When the chicken breasts are cooked through, slice them as thin as you can (after they've "rested" a few minutes on the cutting board.)  Yes, you can chop the breasts first, then cook them, but I find that chicken cooked this way can turn rubbery and lose a lot of its flavor and is less juicy.

While the chicken breasts are cooking, you can handle the rest of the dish.  This comes together quickly! Start your rice.  I use a rice cooker, so I just dump in 3 cups of rice and 4 1/2 cups of water, turn it on, and forget about it.

In a large and deep pan (I use a non-stick wok), heat a splash of olive oil (medium heat), then sautee your mushrooms, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, lemongrass paste, and red curry paste for a few minutes.  Then add the coconut milk, chicken broth, sugar and soy sauce.  Simmer while your rice and chicken finish cooking.  When the chicken and rice are finished, toss your chopped cilantro and cooked chicken into the soup.

To serve, ladle the soup in a bowl, then add a big scoop of rice.  This is a very satisfying and comforting dish, comes together in really about 20 minutes or so, and tastes out of this world.

I received a call from Amanda at the shelter yesterday.  Trulia, a cat who had been in our care in the Cat Cottage for a number of weeks, was a bit of a hider.  And it turned out she was hiding something important -- she was pregnant.  Yesterday, she had one little calico baby, and the shelter was desperate for someone to take mommy and baby in.  My cats don't typically like another adult in the house, but I knew Trulia was quiet and gentle, and she and baby are now set up in our guest bathroom with the door closed.

I'm waiting to see if any other babies show up -- cats can prolong their deliveries over the course of 36 hours or so.  But I think this little sweetie will be it.  We may name her Mercy (or Marcie.)  She is so strong already, and quite large for a new born.

After hiding for weeks at the shelter, Trulia is genuinely happy to be in a quiet home with a fluffy blanket, her own litter box and food, and a lot of love and affection from my family.  And she is taking very good care of her baby, too.

(Here's a better picture of Trulia taken by the Pet Photography Project folks at the shelter. Trulia is about three years old, a petite cat -- around 6 pounds -- and was found by animal control.  She is very affectionate and will be up for adoption in about a month or so.)

Diane and I are thrilled with the results of our charts for charity project to benefit animal shelters in the United States.  We had another drawing yesterday, and Lynda Ruth Bowers from Canada is this week's recipient of these two autographed charts from Diane and me.  We'll have six more drawings, and in order to quality, go to my Etsy shop Letters Great and Small and purchase Neighborhood Friends and/or Cats in the Garden.  All proceeds will be going to six lucky animal care organizations in the United States (read about how you can vote for your favorite with your order on the Etsy page.)

After this busy few weeks, I am finally rounding the corner on the Mercy Goodehart Sampler.  It is beautiful (if I do say so myself.)  I have a little bit of the verse and a few other small elements to finish, hopefully today.  I will update my blog and Facebook page as soon as it's ready (with a supply list.)  It's been a really fun project.

Keep those needles busy -- and take care of you! - Theresa

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Drawing #1

Diane and I have a few surprises in store to keep the momentum going for our fundraiser for animal welfare organizations in the US.  (You can read more about it on my previous blog post.)

Every Saturday, we are going to draw a name to receive two autographed charts (one from each of us.) Each week will have its own theme, and this week is spring on the farm.

Our winner this week is Valorie Ryan from Texas, and she will be receiving both of the above charts in the mail from us (Spring at Bean Family Farm and Mrs. O'Leary's Farm).

So far, there have been over 250 orders for these charts, which means a lot of great things for animals in need.  Make sure you go and purchase your charts -- we will be doing other fun events and giveaways as time progresses.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Charts for Charity by Little House Needleworks and Shakespeare's Peddler

Neighborhood Friends by Diane Williams of Little House Needleworks
Pets bring so much joy to our lives: they greet us happily at the end of the day, they listen when we need a caring friend, they snuggle up to us when we sleep, and they are our constant loving companions. Diane Williams of Little House Needleworks and Theresa Venette of Shakespeare's Peddler wanted to help this country's homeless animals and have created two designs, the proceeds from which will benefit dogs and cats looking for their fur-ever homes.
Cats in the Garden by Shakespeare's Peddler
Both designers have donated their designs "Neighborhood Friends" and "Cats in the Garden," and Theresa is donating the printing of the patterns. So, 100% of the sales of these two designs will go directly to non-profit animal welfare organizations. When you purchase either or both of these designs from March 1-April 30, 2014, you can nominate an animal care organization in the United States to receive a portion of the proceeds.

To nominate an organization, indicate your choice in the comments section of your order form on Etsy. The organization must be devoted to helping homeless, lost, injured, abused, neglected, or abandoned animals and must be verifiable (we will need either an address, a web site, or a phone number for verification with your nomination.) The organization must be in the United States, but does not need to be restricted to an organization that helps dogs and cats (other animal welfare organizations are welcome!) If you do not nominate an organization, your vote will go to Best Friends Animal Society (www.bestfriends.org).  When you purchase both charts for the special price of $15.00, you may nominate two organizations.

On May 1st, we will draw from all nominations and choose three organizations to receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the charts. Additionally, funds will also go to Southern Pines Animal Shelter (Theresa's shelter of choice), Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue (Diane's organization of choice), and Friends of Homeless Animals Inc., of Rhode Island (chosen by Valerie Morrell, who had the grand idea for this venture.) The charts will continue to be available after May 1st, and funds will be distributed at the designers' discretion.

These graphs will not be available through shops or through the distributors -- this allows us to give more to the animal organizations, since we will not have to give anyone else a cut of the sales. These are not "free" charts. You may not reproduce these graphs for sharing via photocopies, scans, electronic copies, or any other method; the designers retain all copyright privileges. You will be getting an actual pattern in the mail with your purchase -- these charts are not available as a downloadable PDF.

Thank you so much for giving a little -- we are happy to give you a little in return, and in the end, we hope to give a lot to many, many animals.

You can purchase the charts here:

(Diane's chart calls for DMC floss on your favorite neutral fabric that will ensure the white shows up.  Theresa has suggested Sampler Threads, but has a conversion to DMC floss, and again, she encourages you to use your favorite neutral fabric.  Both designs have the same stitch count of 139 by 75.)


A little bit about our three chosen organizations:

Southern Pines Animal Shelter is located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Last year, this private non-profit organization took in 6,000 lost, abandoned, abused, unwanted, and neglected animals. They operate a low-cost spay and neuter clinic and an adoption center and have helped reduce the number of local unwanted animals by thousands in the last few years (through low-cost and free spay and neuter surgeries.) Thousands of animals are adopted locally, and the shelter also works with transport rescue organizations to send still more pets to states far away where those sweeties can find loving homes. Theresa is a board member and steadfast volunteer at the shelter, and fosters many, many (many) kittens every year. You can find out more about them (including available pets, and find out how to donate or volunteer, at www.southernpinesanimalshelter.org.)

Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue: "We don't get the elegantly coiffed, classically beautiful, completely trained, perfectly behaved dog. We get the leftovers. Dogs that other people have incompetently bred, inadequately socialized, ineffectively "trained," and badly treated. Most Rescue dogs have had it. They've been pushed from one lousy situation to another. They've never had proper veterinary care, kind and consistent training, or sufficient company. They've lived outside, in a crate, or in the basement. They're scared, depressed and anxious. Some are angry. Some are sick. Some have given up. But we are Rescue and we don't give up. We never give up on a dog. We know that a dog is a living being, with a spirit and a heart and feelings. Our dogs are not commodities, things, or garbage. They are part of sacred creation and they deserve as much love and care and respect as the next Westminster champion. So please, please don't come to rescue in the hopes of getting a "bargain," or in need of "getting" anything. Come to Rescue to give, to love, to save a life -- and to mend your own spirit. For Rescue will reward you in ways you never thought possible. I can promise you this -- a rescue dog will make you a better person." - written by Diane Morgan. You can learn more about the Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue at https://southern-az-golden-retriever-rescue.org/. 

Friends of Homeless Animals, Inc. of Rhode Island (a 501c 3 charity): "We rescue small dogs with big hearts! We do not have a shelter; all dogs are fostered in volunteers' homes. Every dog we take in is nurtured and given all necessary medical care as we work to find them forever homes. All dogs under FOHA's care are spayed or neutered before adoption. It is the strength of our members that makes the difference-caring individuals who step forward to save, nurture and rehome dogs who would otherwise face life in a puppy mill, shelter or even euthanasia. We hold many adoption events throughout the greater Rhode Island area all year long. Learn more about Friends of Homeless Animals, Inc. of Rhode Island at www.fohari.org/.