Sunday, December 27, 2020

Chicken Gnocchi Soup....



Chicken Gnocchi Soup
*This goes particularly well with my garlic knots recipe*

6-10 chicken breast tenders - cut into bitesize pieces 
2 celery stalks - sliced thin
1 sweet onion, diced
2 carrots grated
quart of half and half
quart of chicken broth
TBS Chicken base (I use Tone's)
1 lg box/bag of baby spinach - chiffonade 
2-3 package of potato gnocchi 
 1- 2 TBS Corn Starch
Italian Seasoning
Minced Garlic
Salt and Pepper

In large stock pot:
drizzle bottom of pot with olive oil
add carrots, onion and celery fry until soft then add minced garlic, fry more until garlic fragrant - finally adding in chicken. 
Cook vegetables and chicken together stirring around so as to get the chicken cooked almost through (will take just a couple of minutes) 
Add the chicken broth and the chicken base, stir let it get to simmering temperature then add the gnocchi. Once the gnocchi are in the pot stir constantly until the gnocchi float (only takes 2-4 minutes) Once the gnocchi are done, put corn starch in a glass and add some of the half and half to it, stir well to mix, then dump it and the remaining half and half into the pot. Add the Italian seasoning (1 TBS) and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to almost roiling boil, then reduce heat down to simmer and wait until the soup thickens a bit. Finally add the spinach into the soup. Once spinach is in and wilted down, turn off burner and allow to sit on stove for about 10 minutes for flavors to meld.  
VERY quick, hearty meal 
Serve with garlic knots, garlic bread, bread sticks. 

Looking toward the future....

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome to my blog ~

where I share my love with all things needle and thread (and some other things too)!

I want to thank you - all of you for following along with me on my Merry Days. Next year we will do it again. In the meantime... I'm trying to rebuild the content here on my good 'ol blog. I had a lot of things on here that were really good information and sadly they are gone. But with loss comes growth. We will see some of that this coming year!

First I'd like to share a little slice of a Pfeiffer Christmas....

this year was like other years, we stayed at home - so while I know others struggled with not being able to do as they normally do - this year was completely normal for us -as we always stay home.

Christmas eve saw me making our comfort food meal that we eat on all day...

Garlic Knots and Chicken Gnocchi Soup.

dough resting:

Knots made:

Knots after baking:

Garlic Knots with Chicken Gnocchi Soup: 

Oh my word...this is one of my family's favorite meals. It really is rather simple. The garlic knots have a little work to them, but it is really manageable if you have a mixer with a dough hook it is doubly manageable. Would you like my recipes? Just look above in the TABS section of my blog - under RECIPES click on tab and the recipe will be linked there. 

Here we all are on Christmas Day:


We were interrupting Chatty's beauty rest, so he turned his back on us 😂

The kids always get Keith's holiday favorites - Chocolate Covered Cherries in all the varieties:

We usually gift to each other food (we really like food), homemade gifts are typically our favorites, but this year the kids gave each other books and music CDs and then personal items PJs, bubble get the idea.

hunting the Christmas Pretzel, Bigfoot and this photo the Pretzel and Bigfoot had already been found but the illusive pickle was still in play:

The Bigfoot finder gets the Bigfoot scat (Hershey Kiss), the Christmas Pretzel finder gets Chocolate covered pretzels and the pickle finder gets to open presents first. 
these are all of our own little family traditions that we've done since the kids were little and we have to continue each year. The bigfoot is because, well I like bigfoot. The pretzel was made by Keith's little hands when he was in Kindergarten and the pickle is supposedly a German tradition, but really it is a fake German tradition that we just perpetuate her in our home. 




For Christmas Dinner we had: 
Bourbon Maple Syrup glazed hame

Sweet Rolls made by Ellie:

Methodist (Baptist, Mormon...I've seen them called all of these things) Funeral Potatoes - my kids love these, just google Funeral potatoes and a recipe will pop up, they typically are always the same, frozen hash browns, 2 cups of cheddar, stick of butter, can of chicken soup, cup of sour cream, mix it all together and throw in a pan and top with a cup or two of crushed corn flakes and a melted stick of butter, bake at 350 until bubbling.

We also love roasted brussel sprouts.

It was a great, relaxing day! We hope you and your family however you celebrate or not was fun and relaxing!

Here's some stitching I got done:

Country Cottage Needleworks - January Sampler - Sampler of the Month
32 count Sugared Coffee linen from defunct dye house
Classic Colorworks threads

I love the little house that I re-stitched it adding some snow and flakes around it to make one of my snow globe ornaments. Tutorial HERE


I also did some significant work on Santa of the Forest, by Lavender and Lace on 32 ct natural linen using DMC and Kreinik


Looking ahead to the future....
I need to get Austin's Bigfoot Quilt's where it stood when I stopped in September (I got really busy and I fell out of love a little with it)


I'm going to have two graduates this spring, God willing, Jacob from Technical College. He will graduate with an Associates Degree in Automation and Robotic Arm Technology. He picked out this quilt:

And Katie will be graduating with her Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering. She picked this quilt pattern:


SOOOOO....Mama's got a full plate already and it isn't even 2021 yet...😂

Keith and I will be celebrating our 25th Anniversary. I have always admired this pattern by Barbara Ana entitled "Love Never Fails"
love never fails

Now I plan on tweaking it a little to suit my tastes, such as: I am going to give us skin tones so that we don't look like zombies. The 1853 is going away to: 1996  and 2021
I'm going to squish the saying up with not as much spacing so that I can put 25 years at the bottom of the heart or maybe get rid of the cats and put 25th Anniversary somewhere there...and I'd like to remove the LOVE and put PFEIFFER there. We will see how it goes once I start it: On New Years Day.

OK peeps...that's a wrap!
Thanks for being my friends!
and until next time:
Keep a smile on your face and one in your heart and you just can't go wrong!
Smiles, Hugs and Love to you all, 
Vonna xxxx

Garlic Knots Recipe...



Garlic Knots
*note this can be halved and it works great - these store awesome so I always make a 32 knots at a time*
7 1/2 cups of BREAD flour (you want a chewy texture so use bread flour so you have that extra gluten to work up for chewiness) 
3 tsp. sugar
2 envelope dry active yeast (I use loose block yeast so about 6 tsp)
4 tsp salt
3 c. warm water
4 TBS olive oil

mix together: flour, sugar, salt and yeast in mixer
measure out your warm water into large measuring cup, then add the olive oil in with water.
with bread hook on mixer and in lowest speed, slowly in continuous thin stream add water until fully combined into flour. 
Turn mixer on med high and let the hook work the dough. If the dough appears sticky, add 1 TBS of flour at a time until stickiness is gone. Work dough about 5 minutes with hook.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead dough about 2 minutes incorporating dough into a ball. 
Grease glass bowl with olive oil and place dough ball into bottom of bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Once the rising time has elapsed, push down dough and turn out onto floured surface. Knead and roll into ball again. Cut in half, set half aside then take other half and cut in half - - - continue cutting in half until the original half of dough ball yields 16 small pieces. Roll each small piece into a log and then tie in a knot. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and allow to rise 30 minutes before baking off 
 *do the same process with the other half of the original dough ball*

Once you have 32 knots made, bake them off at 450 degree oven for 20 minutes OR until the knots are golden brown.

While knots are baking...make the garlic coating:
in pan add 2 sticks of butter and begin melting, add a healthy amount of fresh minced garlic (like 3-5 TBS), 4 tsp of garlic salt and 1 TBS of dried parsley. Cook together for a full minute after rolling boil is  achieved, watch garlic so it doesn't over cook and become bitter, you just want the flavors to meld.

As the knots come out of the oven, brush each knot generously with the garlic butter then sprinkle liberally with Kraft Parmesan cheese. Eat immediately, these also store well in airtight container and heated a bit in microwave to freshen. 

These are fantastic! You will not want them anyplace else except in your own home after trying this easy recipe. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Days, Entry 8....

 ~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~

to my blog, where I share my love of all things needle and thread (and some other stuff too)!

Entry 8...

Swinging in to share some crafting I've been doing the last few days....
This weekend I taught myself how to: 
Always wanted to learn, never have, gave it a shot: 


Little Santa ornaments...this is the 2020 yearly ornaments for my kids and I sent some others out to people who gifted me treats this year.

I started this sweet little Sampler yesterday:
"Samplers of the Month"


I've got a plan in my head on how I want to finish these...let's see if that pans out.

10 years ago I came up with and created a Hoop Box. I shared the free tutorial like always on my tutorial blog. That hoop box was sent to The Attic for their Breast Cancer Auction in memory of my Aunt Sarah who died in 2003 from terminal breast cancer.

When I finished this darling piece...I had an idea to reinvent the "hoop box" into a table top vignette. Today I made that reality...and I think it turned out doggone cute. 


So there you go my friends...
I have the day FREE and I'm off to sit my rump in my chair and stitch the day away!

Until next time...
keep a smile on your face and one in your heart and you just can't go wrong!
Smiles, hugs and love to you,
Vonna xxx

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Merry Days, Entry 7...

 Greetings and Warm Welcome to my blog

~ a place where I share all things needle and thread ~

Entry 7....

This blog post is going to be a database dump so apologize from the beginning!

I got busy....

between working at the quilt shop (I work at a local shop called Klaiber's Sewing Center - where I basically help manage, keep the website going, sell machines, teach classes and cut fabric) and all the final work here at home I was running all the time without a place to land. We had birthdays this December. As the kids age it is harder and harder to get a time where we all can be together at once to celebrate (not complaining, just fact). So here are separate pictures of the kids with their birthday cakes. 

The twins had their 21st birthdays on December 4:

Jacob likes cake and we celebrated his birthday on Sunday, Dec. 6 because of his work schedule

(excuse the dirty dishes and countertop happens)


Ian celebrated his birthday on Saturday, Dec 5 also because of work schedules. Excuse the clutter AND Ian's outfit of choice 😂


Katie celebrated her 23rd birthday on Dec. 11 


You might have noticed (after you got done looking at the messes all over my counters 😂)
that all of the birthday cakes are weird themes...we do that on purpose...its a family joke - although no one seems to get it except us 😂

For instance....I turned 50 this year. Keith got me a 50th wedding anniversary cake (on purpose - as in HE ORDERED it as a 50th wedding anniversary cake and called it the 50th anniversary of my birth)


This summer I purchased another...
ridiculously expensive (although it IS worth every penny AND I get an employee discount)
sewing machine...acutally it is an embroidery machine. It is a Baby Lock Meridian - its the big one fully facing you with the dragon fly stickers on it. I named her "Merry" and she has her tramp stamp there for all to see. She has a HUGE hoop and sorry to say but size matters when it comes down to machine embroidery and hoops. 


I make beautiful things on my embroidery machines - Eunice (the one not facing you above) is a Baby Lock Unity which is a combo machine - sewing AND embroidery - still ridiculously expensive (read: Thank HEAVENS I work there). 
Anyhow...I make beautiful things with my embroidery machines...but the best thing I do on them is: 
quilt my own quilts to make it look like they have been seamlessly long arm quilted.


on this quilt I used a butterfly pattern - I use  Amelie Scott Designs software


On this quilt I also did a flange binding - first time I've ever done this technique and it turned out fabulous! I used this tool Franklin Quilt Co. Binding Tool 


Merry or Eunice can also make quilt labels like this one


This allows me to make quilts from beginning to end ALL BY MY HANDS...which is very important to me as you know since I do everything start to finish by my hands.


This will be wrapped and under the tree for my son, Ian's girlfriend - Edie. She's been a part of our family for 5 years and although they are not married or engaged, we love her and I wanted her to know that by making her a quilt. 

I finished another ornament for an exchange with a fellow cross stitcher:


"Woodland Peace" by Heart in Hand

stitched using Classic Colorworks over-dyed cottons and 32 count opalescent raw linen

Not traditional Christmas colors, but I think having some pops of different on a Christmas tree makes your eye stop and look from time to time.

This Week....

I also finished up the collecting donations, sorting and delivery of the Angel Tree gifts to all the needy families our church has helped this year. I am glad that it is done for this year. That was a lot of work - a lot of emotional turmoil - and physically/spiritually exhausting. I can rest easy knowing: I did a good job. All was delivered, people were fed for at least the next week - I also asked for donations of Kroger gift cards - I brought the light of God to them in the way of help. I can only hope that seeds were planted somewhere along the line.

I have some progress to share on my stitching! (that's why you are here, I know...)

I am working on my Christmas BAP...

in fact I am thinking that 2021 is lining up to be ALL CHIRSTMAS ALL YEAR. I love Christmas/Winter time. It brings me the greatest joy when at Christmas I pull out all the stops and decorate my trees with all handmade ornaments, grace my walls and tables with handmade items....I just love it. I think I would love it all year long if I can add to my Christmas things by stitching all year long on Christmas. We will see...but I'm leaning heavily toward that.


here is my progress on Santa of the Forest by Lavender & Lace. Which I'm stitching on 32 count natural with DMC on my scroll rods: Rolaframe

~ My Start on Dec. 6, 2020 - the feast day of St. Nick ~


~ Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 ~

~ Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2020 ~

~ Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 ~

Doesn't look like much...but gee whiz its a lot of stitching.

I'm going to get this done - as my Pap used to say - come hell or high water. I want it hanging on my wall 365 days a year and I want to take him to the fair someday.

I think that's about all the trouble I've gotten myself into the past week. 
I am hopeful this week I may be able to film another video....this time I'd like to do it with Ellie and showcase her art. She's fantastic. For example here is a watercolor she finished yesterday: 

Let me remind you: she is 15 years old (turned 15 August 5, 2020). Completely self taught...
she is "in" to Korean culture and K Pop much so she taught herself to speak and read Korean. (she's also fluent in Spanish). She's amazing! 
Each one of my children (as I know all parents know) are completely unique and amazing in their own individual ways. Ellie is much like me in the fact that she is sensitive and artsy.....she has always been a "maker" from toddlerhood on  all she has wanted to do is make things. To see her ability grow from drawing my Little Pony all the time to Korean boys all the time is astonishing. Here's a picture of sweet Ellie on her 15th Birthday this year (notice her home made Korean K Pop boys birthday cake toppers that she made for herself 😂):

and since you've seen everyone on their birthdays except Keith, here he is with his requested homemade birthday turtle cheesecake 


Until the next time....
Keep a smile in your heart on and one on your face and you just can't go wrong!
Smiles, hugs and love from me to you, 
Vonna xxxx

Friday, December 11, 2020

Merry Days, Entry 6....

 Greetings and Warm Welcome

~ to my blog, a place where I share all things dealing with needle and thread ~

and stuff about my life too!

Entry 6....
Well I would like each of you dear readers to take a gander at this mess:

this is a huge mess and one that my obsessively neat/clean freak side shudders with revulsion. 
This mess is the result of many hours of sorting, wrapping, list making, daily pick-ups, visits, calls and begging.

This year, as we all know has been the pits. 
Many church's doors remain closed. 
Many people have either lost jobs, been without wages or dire situations before this pandemic hit are now even more dire.
My church doors are open, albeit attendance is low. 
This summer, in our church bulletin one Sunday, on the way home, I read that: The Angel Tree was in jeopardy of not happening this year as the coordinator for the last several years was stepping down. I don't know what made me do it...but I immediately sent an email to contact the church secretary to volunteer myself and my daughters to do the Angel Tree, saying it would be our honor to do so. 
My sweet husband rolled his eyes and said: "Don't you think you have enough to do?" 
(side note: he wasn't being stingy with my time (or his - as HIS time seems to get a whole lot of use with MY volunteering! ) 
but I am also....the volunteer kitchen coordinator at church 
(which is a fancy word for: person who has to clean up after everyone (yes they are supposed to clean up after themselves - does it happen to the cleanliness standards of the state of Indiana? Typically NO), keep the paper products and such (tea/coffee/sweetener/salt you get the idea) in stock, wash the kitchen towel/rags/table cloths, you know: general keeping kitchen), 
I also am the funeral luncheon chair (read: funeral luncheon committee - yes I do it alone - or with one or two other brave souls). 
I help out stocking the food pantry for the county's needy families. 
I help feed the city's hungry/homeless.
I am a lector and eucharistic minister...
and I said: "Well this can't be difficult" 
Ha. Ha.

I didn't know what I was about to get into....
but it consisted of this: 
Visiting with the families that are in need, asking their specific needs and making lists of them.
Creating angel tags for the tree 
(the previous years had been sheets of paper with holes punched on them  and hung on the tree - not very attractive, and hard to keep track of - this from a viewpoint of a person taking tags to fulfill and losing track of a pieces of paper (this was me).  I wanted something that was easy to keep track of and easy to find, while being pretty on the tree to attract people to come over and take a tag)
Worrying that there were too many tags and not enough parishioners to take them.
Putting the tree up (fulfilled by the alter society chair - not me)
Hanging tags/Decorating the tree (fulfilled by a church volunteer - not me)
Worrying that people wouldn't take tags.
Worrying that the tags remaining wouldn't be taken.
Worrying that tags/donations wouldn't be returned.
Sorting donations.
Making more lists.
Checking all donations to ensure all needs/wishes have been met.
Shopping for the tags not taken and purchasing the items.
Wrapping donations.
More sorting into family groups for delivery.
Arranging Delivery/Pick-up times with families.

All of these steps, excluding the two above that I noted were done by another volunteer, were done by me and my two girls. 

Why am I telling you all of this? 
While some may choose to think I'm telling you all about this to stroke my ego, make myself out to be wonderful, may even think I am a narcissist. 
Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am telling you all about this because:
I will admit that I acknowledge that I have many people (for some reason) who come here, maybe on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube to see what I am doing. I don't know why and I simply don't question it anymore - because it isn't me who made that happen. I didn't try to make it happen, I didn't even do anything special to make it happen - it just did. I started this blog, simply because I wanted to share my stitching and feel a "part" of something related to my hobby. The reason, I believe, that people come here is because God willed it so. He put me in this position. If you don't believe in a God, then so be it. I am in a position that many people come by to read my words/see my "stuff" and because I am, I think that I need to speak truth.

Tis the Season of giving....and it's about more than:
 dropping a few coins or dollars into a collection bucket
giving a plate of cookies to a neighbor
offering a bag of groceries to a food pantry
fulfilling tags on a giving tree
Things cannot happen without generosity of giving financial donations from those that can afford to give financially!
it also takes a huge amount of generosity of someone's (hopefully many someone's) TIME.
Time is the most precious commodity a person has in their possession. 
Yet we ALL are the most stingy about sharing, donating, giving of: OUR TIME.

when I snapped that shot of my messy kitchen and dining room with Christmas upchucked all over the place, I was nearing my wits end. I have had major anxiety (I'm being serious) about this angel tree. I have serious anxiety about a lot of things in life generally (and yes, I'm medicated for it). You see, I feel with all my heart and being. I see someone in need, someone upset, depressed, desperate...and I see it - yes, but I FEEL it. I can't explain it. I feel it sometimes to the detriment of my own self, to the depth of my very (what I can only think is) soul. I worry over it. Hurt over it. Wrestle with it. I've listened to some desperate situations over the past weeks leading up to this tree. I'm sort of over it, to be honest. Just want it done.
I snapped this picture and put it on my Facebook Wall and also on Instagram - giving a raw post about my kitchen being awry, lots of time being given for this.
Responses were all positive - prayers were offered on my behalf: ALL GOOD! AND BUILT UP MY OWN SPIRIT!
However, there were also lots of: "you need a committee." or "We do it this way at our organization."


In my experience of volunteering- getting the physical donations is not the hard part - it is getting the BODIES there to do the work IS the actual HARD PART! - and the list is LOOOOOONG on my volunteerism through my 50 years of life - again not gloating/patting myself on the back just giving basis to my knowledge on this subject matter so that people don't roll their eyes and pass this off as one of my ways of setting myself  up on a pedestal or patting my own back (yes, I have had several emails about this in the past)

is a most precious commodity to donate your community! my mind is at an all time LOW in this day and age. It seems like when I was younger that there were many more people that volunteered toward works of charity. I BEG people to help me!

 If it is older people the response is often:
 "been there done that! It's time for the young people to do it, like I did when I was their age." 

Let me just interject here: I despise the phrase "been there done that" used in any capacity. What a flip, smart aleck phrase... and I hear it all the time from all ages...I despise it and feel it should be expunged from polite talk.

If it is people my age or just a bit older the response is: 
"I have a job, I don't have time to do that until I retire." 
Or once they are retired, I hear: 
"I am babysitting my grandkids." or "I am raising my grandkids." or "It's my time now."

If they are young I hear:
 "I have a job and kids that have activities, I don't have time." Or "I already do x-y-z as volunteering, I don't have time to do more." or "why aren't the retired people that are still in good health and don't have kids and jobs helping?"

All valid responses. And typically my response is: "I do a lot too. I have a couple of jobs outside and inside the home. I have four kids. I have a life too. I also have been blessed generously and greatly in this life and to whom much is given, much is expected." 
Does my response get people to volunteer? Typically no. 
Ha. Ha. 

But I bring it to you....for your consideration in your own community.
Whether you belong to a church, a group, or fill in the blank. We all belong to this world. We all belong to the same humanity - the same race of human kind. We all have times in our life when we are "in need" of something. Perhaps the one thing you are "in need" of is one that you don't even realize - giving of yourself, giving of your time - unselfishly. 
Although the road of volunteerism seems to be much less traveled, there is not one thing I have experienced in life that is more rewarding than knowing that I did good for others in a selfless donation of my precious, fleeting time. One day....I won't be walking this earth, but I will have left a legacy and a reputation, God willing, of people whose lives I may have touched, that will remember me fondly because of an act of charity, however large or small, that I may have done for them. I can't think of a better legacy to leave.

Until next time....
keep a smile in your heart and one on your face and you just can't go wrong!
Love, hugs and big smiles, 
Vonna xxxx