December 19, 2010
I did however manage to make some good Rugalach, I've only ever made it with these two types of fillings but I know jam is pretty popular as well. This recipe makes 32 cookies.
1 cup butter (room temp.)
250g cream cheese (room temp.)
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup finely chopped chocolate (dark)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1. Cream together butter, cream cheese until smooth, then add the flour and salt.
2. Wrap dough and chill for an hour.
2. Mix together filling ingredients (chocolate or cinnamon) and preheat oven to 350F.
3. Cut the dough into 4 pieces and form into balls.
4. Roll each dough ball into round discs about 8 inches in diameter and cut each disc into 8 triangles.
5. Sprinkle filling at the widest end of the triangle and roll (from wide end) inwards like a croissant.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
December 15, 2010
A little cardboard house and a church ornament. I'm pretty sure that I've seen these before, so they are probably pretty easy to find elsewhere in the world. I snipped off the loops (for hanging) and painted them using acrylic paints:
One they were dry, I coated small sections (for example the roof, one side, etc.) in all-purpose white glue and sprinkled (a heavy sprinkle) them with clear glitter. This part takes quite awhile since it's best to wait for the glue to dry a bit before doing another section. Make sure to do this part over a bag or newspaper because glitter is messy. The glue will look murky until it completly dries, but it will dry clear so don't worry.
and here is the final product:
Aren't they cute? The plan is to make a couple each year and eventually I'll end up with a whole town. Next time I'll try making them from scratch.
December 14, 2010
These little cardboard houses have apparently been around for a long time, the tradition starting in German. It gained popularity in the 20s when Japanese companies started producing brightly colours, sparkly variety’s for dirt cheap; they were sold in dime stores. The house had little velum windows and a hole in the back where you could insert a bulb from a string of lights, making the windows light up. These little Putz house are the precursors to the lovely Ceramic Christmas Villages that people have now. The cardboard house remained popular into the forties, when they were slowly replaced with plastic and ceramic houses.
I’ve always liked the ceramic villages so it’s not really a surprise that I like these. I think these would go great with my candy-coloured Christmas stuff and I plan on eventually having my own little town of them. You can find vintage Cardboard Putz houses on eBay and Esty, and there is a site that makes new ones (custom made), this site also has more info on the history if you’re interested.
December 11, 2010
See how tiny these cups were? They didn't even fill the thumbprint!:
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
24 candies (rolos, caramels or chocolate cups)
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1. Seperate your egg (reserve the white for later). In a bowl cream (combine) the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla and milk.
2. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt, mix well. *
3. Refrigerate for 2 hrs or so until dough has cooled and it easy to roll.
4. Pre-heat overn to 350 F. Shape the dough into balls and roll in egg white, then pecans to coat.
5. Place the cookie on the sheet and use your thumb to make an indent in the centre (this is the thumbprint part). Place a candy in each "thumbprint."
Here are my deformed cookies pre-baked.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookie are firm.
*recipes normally have you mix the dry ingredients seperatly, then mix with the wet ones but I'm pretty lazy about this and just add them all in at once. I've yet to have a problem, but I would say do it whichever way you prefer.
Stay tuned for more Christmas baking in the weeks to come...
December 6, 2010
I also quilted the runner in a series of "curly q's."
Overall, this was also a really easy project but like how it turned out. I really love the fabric though, it's Michael Miller, and just oh so fun. Look at it:
You can see what I mean by curly q's in that picture as well, I guess swirls would be a good descriptor as well. This thing may need a good ironing...
Here's the finished project:
December 5, 2010
Three Bean Salad
1 can red kidney beans (rinsed)
1 can white kidney beans (rinsed)
2 cups of steamed green beans (cut into bite sized pieces)
1/8 cup olive oil
3/8 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tsp parsley
2 1/2 tsp cumin
pepper to taste
1. After you've steamed and cut up your green beans, combine with the two kidney beans in a bowl.
2. Mix remaining ingredients and pour dressing over the beans. Stir and let sit a bit before serving.
I actually prefer to let this sit for an hour before serving to let the dressing really soak into the beans but it tastes fine served right away.
There you have it, a very quick and easy dish containing veggies, carbs and protein.
December 4, 2010
I made a batch of salt dough, rolled it out and used some cookie cutters to make the gingerbread men (if you can make sugar cookie, you can do this no problem). Here's the recipe that I used:
Salt Dough (basically this is homemade playdough)
1/2 cup of salt
3/4 cup water
2 cups flour
1. Mix ingredients together and knead into a ball. Don't worry about over-kneading this stuff, it will be a bit tougher than cookie dough and you may need to add a bit of extra water. It's done when it seems rollable.
I used food-dyed water in an attempt to make them brown-gingerbread like in colour. As you can see this didn't really work. I think the food dye reacted with the salt because it turned very pink after I threw the brown water in. I later read that strong coffee or tea is your best bet for dying the dough brown (use it instead of the water). Oh well.
After you cut out your dough, place it on a tray and bake at 200F for 4-5 hours. I flipped mine halfway through and then I let them sit in the oven overnight to let them dry out even further. After they were dry I used puff paint (fabric paint) to drawn on some "icing" and gumdrops. Again, I waited for it to dry then I coated all of the men in varnish (since I wanted to put the wreath outside and I'm hoping that it will last for a couple of years.
I laid the cookies out in a circle then I used a hot glue gun to stick them together and tied them with a ribbon for hanging and more security.
I think it looks really home-made and homey. Perfect for Christmas (I'm the type that likes those popcorn and cranberry garland).
November 29, 2010
I forgot to take pictures of the process, so there isn't a real tutorial, but basically I sewed two long rectangular pieces for the tabs, you can either use cord to make a button loop or make actual button holes. I then sewed the tabs onto folded tea towels, stitched on the buttons and ta-da, done. I also embroidered these, following my embroidered gift theme.
Here's how they look hanging from the stove. They're actually pretty handy, especially if you have a husband (or child) who likes to take your tea towels off the stove to use as oven mitts, floor wipes, etc.
I still haven't decided which towels to give to my aunt and which to my mother... The beaker one is for my mom for sure (she works in the chem field) and the Scotty is for my aunt (she has a little white dog herself). Decisions, decisions.
November 28, 2010
I would advise anyone making one of these things to go with a square shape, or to use a pattern of some sort. My way was definately not the way to go. I made two large 40" squares of fabric, then I used string and two felts (markers) to try and make a protractor-type-thing. See:
and this is what I ended up with:
Not so circular. I probably should have just free-handed it. I really do love the fabric though, it's so bright and happy looking.
Aside from my wonky shape. It went together fairly quickly and without any issues. I sewed the two pieces together, then after turning it right side out, I top stitched the scallops. I didn't use any batting so this helped keep the shape. I won't go into detail on the scallops, but if you want to know more, check out Tilly's tutorial, hers turned out great.
Now I'm off to start my next sewing project, a table runner.
November 11, 2010
and here is my version:
with the wrap in the back...
with the wrap in the front...
Not perfect, but I like it. I think it turned out better than my first dress, which means I am improving on garment making. I had to adjust this pattern up a few sizes so that may have been one of my issues. I also ended up hating the fabric. It ravels horribly and the colour is a bit gloomy. I think if it was paired with the right skirt it wouldn't seem so bad though.
It's really baggy in the sleave area, not sure if it's suppose to be a bit baggy or not, the pattern picture doesn't look like it but the pattern pieces don't have real defined arm pit areas. The hem on the sleaves isn't very well done either, it said to use ribbon seam binding but I think it was a little bit stiff and I probably should have just done a regular hem.
Overall I deem it wearable, my husband thinks it looks too "homemade" and "nurse-like" (not sure what that really means) but I don't care. I think I prefer this with the wrap in the front, not only for look but the neck is a bit high and it feels odd the other way around.
I may make this pattern again some day.
November 7, 2010
I googled "vintage labels" or maybe it was "vintage jar labels" and picked out/stole some pretty ones. I used word to add text to the labels (using text boxes) and printed out what I needed.
I then cut out the labels and covered them with clear heavy-duty packing/package tape. I figured that this would probably protect them from water and if not I could just re-print the labels.
you can kind of see how I layered two pieces of tape to cover the paper...
I trimed the tape about 1.5 cm from the label edge and firmly pressed them onto the jars. Voila! Simple but neat jars for my pantry.
November 6, 2010
I bought this pattern a while ago but have been pushing the project off since the pattern is too small, way too small. I bought it for looks really, but who wouldn't? I am making view B (short sleaves) in a grey crepe. If it turns out well I want to wear it to work, grey crepe kind of seemed office-y. So far, it's turning out ok, I'm about half done but decided to call it quits for the night since I was beginning to make mistakes. I am clearly not very good at making clothing. I'll blame it on the fact that I had to re-draft a large size from the pattern.
The instructions are kind of confusing as well, I now know why some people avoid old vogue patterns. They really assume that you know what you're doing (and I'm clueless). The pattern is a "perforated" one, which is actually pretty neat. The pieces are precut and there are hole for marking darts and the seams, I kind of wish they sold new patterns like that too. Anyway, I'm hoping to finish this weekend or next, I'll post some pictures as soon as I get a chance.
November 2, 2010
If you think I may be making you something, try not to take a peak please!!
October 31, 2010
October 29, 2010
To give a bit of authority to my posts on weight loss, I have decided to let you know a bit more about myself.
When I was really little, I didn’t have a weight issue, I was a normal size, had lovely blonde hair and loved to swim and play outside. Things started changing in grade four (when I was 9 or 10); I remember grade four as being a horrible year, it was the year that I got my first pair of glasses, my hair started to darken to an ugly “ash-blond” aka mousy-brown, and I started putting on weight, I was now chubby. The worst part was the becoming chubby, there was this one girl who would always pick on me, calling me fat, punching me for “being fat,” getting up during class to sharpen her pencil so that she could poke my “fat-a$$” with it and many, many other mean pranks and jokes. It was horrible, sometimes she would encourage my friends to tease me, they never really teased along with her but there were two of them that would sometimes laugh at what she was doing to me, which was just as hurtful. I became really depressed by this and slowly gained more and more weight over the years, often crying myself to sleep at night. Sometimes I would dread going to friend’s houses because a few of my friend’s parents would make rude comments, not necessarily on purpose but more of things like “did you see that actress? She looks disgusting in this movie, she’s gained some weight, and people who look like that are gross/lazy” (the actress would always be much, much thinner than I even dreamt of being). I would try really hard in gym class and bike for hours thinking that I could become thin again but nothing worked. I now know that it was my eating preventing this, it’s not that I would pig out on junk food really (once and awhile I would but no more than any of my thin friends), it was really the portions that I was eating. I would take a huge plate of potatoes or pasta, always encouraged by my parents because it wasn’t junk food, it was just part of their regular dinner, they didn’t know any better and neither did I. Now that I’m older I look back and can see where I went wrong with my eating, and I now cook completely differently than my parents (their food is healthier than most but still not what many would call “healthy”). Back to the teasing, eventually this girl changed schools and I found out years later that it was because she was bullied by a lot of the older children and she couldn’t take it anymore and that she had considered me to be one of her only friends, she never apologized though so I have never felt that I could really forgive her, the scars run really deep. When she left I did become a bit less depressed and it was really only the school dances that I dreaded (junior high dances). I have been turned down more than one dance by boys who don’t want to dance “with a fatty”, luckily I did have some very, very kind male friends (or boyfriends of my best friends) who would swoop in to rescue me, it was still upsetting though, none of my thinner friends were ever turned away, and it’s not like I was ever going after Mr. popular. The turndowns would also lead to me crying myself to sleep once again.
In junior high I started to compete in synchronized swimming, I had many practices but it wasn’t until early high school (most likely when I was hitting puberty) that I started losing weight from all the workouts. Looking back at pictures of me in grade 10, 11 and 12, I realize that I was thin; in fact, many of my friends would tell me that I was very thin and had a tiny waist. Did I ever listen to them? No, I was still convinced that I was huge, too large to ever wear a bikini. I guess my self confidence was still really low, the years and years of being teased had turned me into a very shy person, with a remaining mental image of someone four times my size, in reality I weighted less in grade 12 than I did in grade 8 and I was quite a bit taller. After high school I quit swimming, I was going into university and wasn’t sure that I would have the time since I would then be swimming five days a week with four hour practices and I was too young to join the recreational masters club, I started going to the bar and partying with friends and the weight slowly crept back. I also entered a relationship that was a bit of a downer. Each year I would gain just a bit more and as I became more and more out of shape there was less that I felt I could do about it. I really just should have stopped making excuses and joined a gym and learnt how to eat better.
As you may have read before, once I became a bit too close to the 200 mark I finally smartened up. My lifestyle changes have resulted in some great things, I am now 146 pounds, which is in the normal BMI range for my height (though on the higher end of normal), can run 5km, I have more energy, I feel great, and my self-confidence is better than ever, I still have a ways to go but I am confident for the future and vow to never go back to my old ways. I have set new fitness and weight goals for myself and am determined to reach them. I want to reach 140 by Christmas and am going to bike part of the Iron Horse Trail next summer and be able to do an unassisted pull-up.
October 28, 2010
It wasn’t too long ago that I saw my last flying V of Canadian Geese heading south and I was really hoping that there were more to come. Boooo to snow and the cold weather, I guess at least I’ll get more sewing done since I won’t want to be outside.
October 27, 2010
Thanks to the brave Ruth and Tom for trying it out!
October 21, 2010
My weight-loss journey/ life-style change really began last December. I had ballooned out to about 188 pounds. When I saw that on the scale I almost cried, it seemed to close to 200 pounds which for some reason was horribly dreadful (when really even 180 was way too much). Luckily I have a very nice hubby, who decided that the two of us should go to the gym, together, and not because he wanted me to lose weight to look different, but because he wanted me to live a long life with him. I think that this really helped my weight loss, being overweight affected my self confidence, i.e. I had very little, and it really helped that I had someone to encourage me to go to the gym and remind me that I just needed to try harder. I don’t think you necessarily need someone to work out with (we argue when working out or really I argue so it’s not always the best to go together), but it really is helpful to have some to talk to about working out, someone who will be encouraging and won’t sabotage you will (knowingly or most likely unknowingly) with comments such as “you don’t need to lose weight” or “why would you do that?”
Exercise – Where to Start
Some people really do find it hard to get in the minimum recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day (you should probably do more though). 30 Minutes is actually a very small amount time, especially since you can split it up, it’s better not to split it up but everyone has to start somewhere, I’m sure that everyone can fit in three 10 minutes spurts of physical activity. I started out going to the gym three days a week an hour each session; I slowly worked my way up to 5-7 days with over an hour each day. I actually enjoy going to the gym now, which I didn’t before, and I hate when I have to miss a day due to illness or a busy schedule.
It can be hard starting out at the gym, I remember feeling awkward and embarrassed, you really just have to remember that no one is really paying much attention to you, they are at the gym trying to work out too and I would say at least half of them have no clue what they’re doing either. Many trainers say that beginners should start out with a full body workout but I found that difficult because I wasn’t sure how to design one and I didn’t have the money to go to a trainer, so I started out with the classic split training. Split training is basically when you split your workout up, I start with cardio and end with weights and finally a good stretch, this seemed like a simple approach and it worked for me (40+ pounds lost so far!!). For cardio you need to find something that you don’t hate, the fact is that if you are out of shape most forms of cardio are not going to be fun. I started with 30 minutes on the elliptical and then later started running and riding the bike and Stairmaster, if you do want to start out with running, take a look at my post “from couch to 5k.” I don’t really think that cardio needs very much explanation, you basically need to get your heart pumping and it’s a good way to burn calories. If you go really hard and I’m talking sweat dripping, panting, want to quit hard you are going to burn 10-11 calories a minute, use these numbers to calculate your calories (if you are going to bother counting) because machines (and fitness classes) often over estimate how much you burn; don’t buy into their BS, you’re only hurting yourself. Always try your hardest and try to get a good sweat going, a leisurely walk will burn calories but it won’t get your heart pumping which is what you want to do to increase your heart health (heart disease is the number one killer of women).
Cardio isn’t really my favourite thing to do at the gym as I find it kind of dull, what I really like is weight training. Strength training is an important part of any workout and is also great for burning calories, plus you won’t have to ask for help to re-arrange furniture and will be able to carry in all your groceries in one trip. Many women avoid lifting weights, especially heavy ones, but they really shouldn’t, don’t worry about gaining huge body builder arms or shoulders; those women train for hours and hours every day for years and years (and usually have a little help from various drugs) to look like that, unless you plan on putting in that kind of work, you aren’t going to look like that. If you don’t know what you’re doing, weight training can be a bit intimidating, I started out using machines since they usually show you how to use the darn thing and what muscles you are working. Once you feel a bit more comfortable on the machines, I suggest moving to free weights (doing similar movements); while some argue that machines are better because they isolate certain muscles, I agree with others on free weights being better because they use multiple muscles, increase you stability and more closely mimic movements that you would use in a real life situation. One thing that I noticed when I moved to free weights was that I was lifting less, don’t be surprised if you drop down to about half of what you do on the machines, this is pretty normal.
When working with weights you will need to decide how many reps and sets you will do, I aim for 8-10 reps and three sets (with a 30-60 second break between each set). A rep is the one motion that you perform, for example one rep of a squat is the movement downwards towards the ground and back up to the standing position, a set is a series of reps performed without a break. I pick a weight that is light enough that I can perform at least 8 reps but heavy enough that I achieve muscle failure at the 8th rep (or 9th or 10th). If I can lift the weight more than 10 times, I move up to something heavier, and if I can’t lift it 8 times I move down to something a bit lighter. Muscle failure refers to the point where there is no way you can lift that weight on your own, you are shaking and it’s coming down. As I said before, I split up my workouts into groups, day 1: legs, day 2: arms, day 3: core, I find that this works well for me but you may want to split it up into upper body and lower body or I have also heard of people splitting it up into pulling exercises and pushing exercises.
Finally at the end of the workout I make sure to get in a good stretch. I try to stretch all of the muscles that I worked out really well and I do a couple quick stretches of my other muscle groups. Stretching is really important after a good workout (weights or no weights) and will prevent stiffness and soreness the next day (although you’re probably going to be sore the next day anyway). I also have a small protein shake after my workouts to reduce soreness, having a glass of milk, or an egg or some almonds would work well too.
While most of what I have said focuses on going to a gym, you don’t actually need a gym or any fancy equipment to work out; you can get a good workout on any budget. Go for a run outside or a bike ride or if you live in a cold place like me, run up and down your stairs, use a skipping/jump rope or do jumping jacks. Parks are great places for strength training, you can use the monkey bars to work out your arms or you can use 4L milk jugs filled with water (for squats and lunge walks). I’ll try to post various home and gym workouts for you all.
Some final advice:
The unfortunate thing about losing weight is that it isn't easy and that doing it right isn't something that happens overnight. If you want quick weight loss, go find one of the many diets out there, it won't be very healthy and you'll most likely gain all the weight back plus some in less than 6 months. Eating right and working out are your best bet. Something that I keep having to tell myself is “It took me more than a year to gain all that weight so it may take me more than a year to take it all off.” Also, I really wish now that I had taken a “Before in a Bikini” type photo, at the time it was the last thing that I wanted to do, but on blue days it’s a good motivator (I use a double chin and Oprah arm photo instead – it’s almost as bad).
October 16, 2010
Click on any of the pictures and it will bring you to flickr where you can look at larger versions (they are clear enough to read there).
First up we have some of the latest styles from Paris. Look at those "reckless" bows, those French women are daring.
and of course some slips and underclothes.
and a lovely Tennis Jumper that you can make at home. I actually think it's kind of cute!
October 13, 2010
I have never been a pumpkin pie fan but my mother-in-law requested it so it had to be made. I ended up really liking this one though, so much so that I would and am going to make it again. I used the pie crust recipe that was on the shortening package (and I've posted my own recipe before) so I won't re-post one here.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
1 pastry crust (uncooked)
1/2 can pumkin puree (about 400mL)
1 cup of evaporated milk (just under a cup actually)
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1. Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, flour and cream together.
2. Beat in one egg at a time.
3. Stir in milk & vanilla until combined.
4. Pour into crust and cover edges with foil (to prevent over browning of crust). Bake for 30 min at 350F.
5. Remove foil and cook another 20 min until done, pie will be cooked when knife comes out of filling clean.
I also baked a small pumpkin shaped pastry in a seperate pan to cover the knife mark in the pie. I used a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter and extra pastry dough.
October 9, 2010
Chocolate Ganache Tart with a Walnut Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed walnuts (I used a blender)
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
1. Mix all ingredients together and push into a tart pan to form a crust.
2. Bake at 350 F for 10 min.
Here's the texture of walnuts that I had:
It's about 50% finely ground and 50% roughly chopped.
Chocolate Ganache Filling
1 cup of cream (whipping 35% fat)
1 cup of chopped dark chocolate (about 8 oz.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Heat the cream on the stove and bring to a slight simmer. Pull off the cream before it begins to boil.
2. Dump the chocolate and vanilla in the cream and stir until smooth.
3. Pour ganache into your crust and cool until solid (takes quite a few hours).
This is a great one to make the day before and it freezes really well.
Apparently the first Thanksgiving in North America took place in Canada when the explorer Martin Frobisher arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. I didn't learn this until a few years ago and I've lived in Canada my whole life.
This year we have to go to three dinners, one on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (my husbands parents are divorced), it's going to be a lot of ham and turkey and pie. I have been given the task of baking two pies for the Saturday dinner and three pies and a dessert for the Sunday dinner.
First up we have the ever simple and delicious Chocolate Puddin' Pie (say it with a southern drawl).
This is from a Kraft magazine, so it's basically an ad for Kraft products. I made a cookie crust from the instructions on the oreo crumb box so I won't include the directions here.
Chocolate Puddin' Pie:
1 cookie crust
1 cup of milk
1 box of chocolate instant pudding
1/2 tub of Cool Whip (approx.)
1. Mix the box of pudding with the cup of milk until smooth. Spread half of the mix in the cookie crust and add about 3/4 cup of cool whip to the remaining pudding. Spread half of this over the previous layer of pudding.
2. Add 3/4 cup of cool whip to the remaining pudding mixture and mix, again layer half of it on the other pudding. Add a bit more cool whip and spread the remaining mix on the top. You should end up with four layers of pudding going from dark to light.
It's very simple and very good, not so friendly with the waistline though. My husband who hates cool whip loves this pie. It works well with the premade cookie crusts too, so if in a pinch for a "homemade" dessert, try this one.
October 8, 2010
My friend loves all things Japan; her house is full of Janpanese prints, she speaks it and it is her dream to live there. Last year I made her an apron with Geisha fabric, which she loved, so this year I am sticking with the theme and making her sushi napkins. These aren't napkins for eating sushi, although I guess they could be, they are napkins with sushi pictures on them.
I made the napkins myself but I'm not really going to post about that. They didn't turn out so well, owning a ruler probably would have helped as they are all different sizes. They still look okay I think. To make them I cut broadcloth into 17.5 squares, then ironed the seams down and stitched. I must have folded the sides slightly larger or smaller each time, oh well.
So far I have only completed four napkin (out of eight). The tiny patterns and stitches are time consuming. In the end I am planning on having four patterns, two napkins for each pattern. I have finished two cats and two maki:
I really hope she likes them.
It's a giveaway from Debi over at My Happy Sewing Place . She is celebrating a new job and the fact that she now has over 200 followers!
There are four patterns being given away. I like them all, although I think the first three are my favourite. I love the 60s look but I'm not sure that I have the right body type for it, although I did "borrow" a mod pattern from my mothers house recently that I plan to eventually make, so we'll see.
So far I have only completed two gifts. The retro cats for my sister-in-law and some Christmas ornament towels for my mother-in-law. Here's how they turned out:
I really like them. I think I might make some for myself someday.
I took a few photos of the process too. Here is a split stich:
You can see a bit better how you stitch a straight little line, then come up through that stitch to make the next.
I also took a picture of a french knot, which was very difficult; it's hard to hold a camera in one hand and embroider with the other.
You wrap the thread around the needle, I did about four but if you want a larger knot wrap more around.
Then you insert the needle back into the fabric a tiny distance away from where you brought it up, make the stitches very close but no the same spot, otherwise when you pull it tight the whole thing will unravel.
These took me a few tries before I got them just right, so don't give up, once you figure it out it's really easy!