Thursday, December 31, 2020

Needlepoint was Popular in 2020

2020 is a year many would like to forget - between the pandemic, the election from hell and job losses - I could go on........but we all know those affected by the tragic events this year.   Let's try to put it behind us and hope that the vaccine will be rolled out, that social distancing can eventually go away and that our country will again be governed by adults. 2021 has to be better than 2020.

I looked back and was not surprised that the most popular posts were those about needlepoint.  2020 was a very good year to stitch and many had much more free time to do so than ever thought possible.   

Needlepoint Thread Storage Organization 101

This was by far the most popular post for 2020.   And I'll add that my organization project has worked well so far. Using Ziploc bags and rings for my thread has helped me buy less thread and I realized how much I really had.  If yours needs a good organizational overhaul this is a good time to put it in motion.

All my Etsy posts were popular, especially the vintage needlepoint finds. It's getting harder to find good vintage canvases (the secret is out) but Etsy is a great source also for needlepoint books like this one:

I hope that you have discovered many new sources for stitching (a good needlepoint store, for example), new designers, fun new ways to finish your pieces, and an appreciation for an art that has been discovered by many for the first time.  And stores like Lycette have done more for this lifelong hobby than words can express. Thank you!

And I love supporting small business, the heartbeat of America, like this Etsy store. Love this canvas!

Hoping that 2021 brings you many happy hours of stitching. More to come in 2021.  Stay safe!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Another Refresh - Home Office

 Refresh is in the air, well, maybe. You may recall a post a few months back about a bedroom refresh.  After being in the house 10 years, some areas are starting to look a bit tired and because we are spending so much time these days at home, a little updating here and there is in order. No painting, no major overhauls, but just a little replacing. And I'll report back on that bedroom refresh in January.

The room is dark and the rugs are difficult to keep clean and I spend so much time in this room. I want it to be more comfortable and brighter.  I need two rugs, 5 x 7 or 6 x 8.   I have one window, with a shade that I made and I can easily make a new one. So I don't need more than two yards of fabric. There is one chair for decoration that I plan to move to the library and recover (and have the fabric for that). I want to replace that with a more updated look. My office chair is the big mystery. I am not sure I need a real office chair but would like something else.

So I started looking at rugs and found some that I liked a lot but then remembered the ones I was looking at did not fit the bill of easy to clean. And then I remembered that I prefer to start with the fabric first.  And then I remembered how I strongly lean to certain brands - Lee Jofa, Jane Churchill, Cowtan & Tout and Clarence House. And there is the animal thing -  I love fabric with animals. And I want color, vibrant color and I have to work around my tan walls and a dark brown shade over my french door to my upper deck (it keeps the direct sun out in winter).  And then there is the shopping off the Internet.  I am not going out if I don't have to right now.

This is a fabric I am considering, from Clarence House. Animal.Check.  Vibrant.Check. It will go with the brown shade.  It will work with my current wall color. It's bright. I can buy it off the Internet by the yard at a reasonable price.

Possible rug options.....

Rugs must be easy to clean (no jute type, soft to the feet, something Truman can't claw and preference for wool or cotton or a blend. And cannot break my budget.  And nothing too dark (no dark brown, for example, as my wood floors are dark already and I want to lighten them up). Your opinions...

This is more money than I want to spend but it is very good quality and will last forever. Wool. Cats can't claw it. 

This is a MUCH cheaper option...

This is not inexpensive but not as pricey as the first one but will be harder to keep clean.

Your thoughts????

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas From Horse Country Chic

In this not-so-normal year it's been difficult to get into the holiday spirit. Hoping that you are spending time with family and close friends, even if abbreviated to be super safe. Make the best of what life brings. Hug your animals today (especially your horse) and enjoy this day that goes by far too quickly. If you live in the East, hoping you still have power. We got a light dusting of snow with the bitter cold temperatures that blew in last night (literally) so it certainly looks like Christmas.   As we watched White Christmas last night, I was again reminded of this special time of year even in a pandemic. Enjoy your holiday. Thanks for reading each and every week!   XOXO

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Lanz Nightgown

 There are some things you just don't want your SO to know before you tie the knot or get involved in a serious relationship. The Lanz Nightgown is one of those things.  I can't remember not having at least two or three of these in my winter wardrobe and they last longer than most marriages so you're not going to wear these out.  How many do you have?  Willing to really admit?  They aren't pretty and some would even venture to call them frumpy but for us older preppy set types, they are as ingrained in our DNA as our Hermes scarves, the pearls that our mothers passed down to us.

There is nothing warmer, more cozy or comfortable to sleep in during winter.

If you grew up with Lanz it's a good bet your daughters wear them too. This is my style of choice and you can wear them with the buttons in the back or the front.

And it's not easy to find a Lanz these days and I'll admit to seeing them in past years at TJ Maxx.  But if you've ever wondered about the history of these flannel wonders, take a peak at this great article. It seems they are "coming back" but for us die hard Lanz-worshippers, they never left and will always be in style.  It seems that the pandemic has been good for the Lanz nightgown business. Maybe there is a silver lining in there somewhere for 2020.


Monday, December 21, 2020

The Pandemic Shoe

We ventured out this weekend to our local town and walked around a bit and ordered take-out Thai for dinner (a real treat for us).   Our local running store offers some unique brands (not typical labels like Nike) and I picked up this pair of shoes.   I had been wanting a wool clog like shoe to wear around the house but these are even better and are not just "house shoes" but can be worn out and about. While I won't ever wear these to the barn, I think I'm in love....  See them here. I have terrible feet, nothing fits me, narrow heels, a large bunion, so when I can find something that is truly comfortable after years of being a runner, I go all in.  

My only option was the dark gray ones (I may order the lighter ones after the holiday) and they run true to size. All I can say is if you need a pair of ultra comfortable shoes to slip and wear everywhere casual, treat yourself. I wear mine with socks.

Our original recovery shoe gets an upgrade with new and improved features. The addition of the aggressive Vibram® XS Trek EVO outsole offers increased multi-surface traction and durability. The new upper construction removes the Velcro strapping for an easier slip-on fit. The antimicrobial blended wool upper provides comfort and resists odor. Designed to be worn without socks, the repeated ridges of our Ortholite® 3D Wave Sense footbed lightly stimulate the nerves along the bottom of the foot completing our most feature-rich recovery shoe! These marathon recovery shoes were specifically crafted for cooler, inclement weather but can be used year-round.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Apollo's Induction

Some people have portraits painted of their children and place them in prominent areas of the house - the living room, above a mantle, perhaps in a bedroom. Well, horse lovers do the same thing, and my collection is now complete with the newest edition, Apollo, now officially a full-fledged member of the household. His portrait will now adorn the library wall alongside the others. You may recall a much earlier post, when the first three were completed years ago. You can read it here.  This was a surprise birthday gift (and the artist was here at the farm one day taking photos of my colt while I was busy working - LOL).

My neighbor has somehow captured the essence and personality of Apollo (and he oozes personality like not other that I've owned) and many years from now, when these horses have lived out their lives and are gone, I'll have these (to always be put in a prominent area of the house).  Hug your loved ones if you can. Have something to remember them by!  Stay safe my friends.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Junior League Cookbooks

While we are all marooned at home this winter why not not beef up the cooking skills (no pun intended). As someone who likes to cook, my kitchen is already bulging with cookbooks (and I love adding new ones).  Some of my all time favorites are Junior League Cookbooks. And as a former Junior Leaguer who was involved with putting out a cookbook many moons ago, I can tell you from experience that these recipes are tested!  Leagues use these books to raise money to support the work they do in the community.  And these women are generally very good cooks.

This one, I own, and use it frequently. This is a collection of recipes from many Leagues across the country, to celebrate the League's centennial. So this is like the best of the best.

I have this one too and recommend it from the Roanoke, VA League, just down the road from me.

I also have this one from Atlanta. And I use this one too. Recommend if you like Southern type food.

I also have this one from the Junior League of Washington, DC. I don't use this one as much as the ones above but would recommend.

Some recommendations.....

1) Pick out books with more recent publication dates. Food does change and our interest in preparing meals that are more healthy (and not using multiple cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup) has changed over time. I'd look for books published in the last 10-15 years or newer  if possible, unless you prefer the older style recipes.

2) Pick out books from areas where you'll like the food. Don't buy a book from Louisiana if you hate cajun food. Or don't buy a book from the Tampa League if you hate seafood.

3) My dirty little secret - you can buy these books VERY CHEAPLY from Thrift Books and Abe Books, like for $5 to $10 each with free shipping. So you can build your own collection. And if you don't like them, donate them!

Try out books from cities like Charleston, Nashville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Sarasota, Cleveland, Dallas, etc. We won't be dining out much in the coming months, so take full advantage!  Enjoy!  Make the best of this time at home. I am!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Thursday Tidbits

We didn't get the massive winter dump that the Northeast is experiencing but the UPS man was not out yesterday in any way unless he owned ice skates. VDOT (Virginia Dept of Transportation) hit the roads however very early this morning so I expect to see the UPS man today with or without his skates.  Power.Check.  

Sorel Snow Slip Ons - these are perfect for a day like today. Warm.Cozy.Cute.Colorful. They come in three colors but I prefer the gray ones.

Sundance - Every time I see their catalog or go to the website, I feel inferior. The models are perfectly coifed but in such an unstaged way. Fully expect to see Ralph Lauren walking off the page into my living room with his Marlborough Man look, cowboy hat tipped down to just the right level. And these women never look cold, even in a skimpy sweater in the middle of winter. 

Reindeer Cocktail Napkins - ring in the holidays in style. Love these!

A Literary Christmas - It's too late to get this for 2020, but a great classic never goes out of style:

This seasonal compendium collects together poems, short stories, and prose extracts by some of the greatest poets and writers in the English language. Like Charles Dickens's ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, they are representative of times old and new—from John Donne's Elizabethan hymn over the baby Jesus to Benjamin Zephaniah's "Talking Turkeys," from Thomas Tusser counting the cost of a Tudor feast to P. G. Wodehouse's wry story about Christmas on a diet. Enjoy a Christmas Day as described by Samuel Pepys, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, or Nancy Mitford. Venture out into the snow in the company of Jane Austen, Henry James, and Dickens's Mr. Pickwick. Entertain the children with the seasonal tales of Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde.

Horse Show Ribbons Fabric - Love this fabric. For pillows, curtains, shades, a shower curtain?

Vintage Hanging Sign - When I say vintage is best, well, vintage is best. It's a good thing this is sold.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Wednesday Musings

Baby it's cold outside and that winter mix is headed our way. But doesn't the white stuff make the holidays a bit more festive?  And we could all use a little more festive right? Here are a few things on the radar today....

Marbilized Tapers - I've been on the hunt for reasonably priced tapered candles that are marbilized. Voila - Etsy delivers as usual.  Love these and they come in many color combinations for year-round use.  Will make great stocking stuffers and they offer free shipping but you'd better hurry!

Recipe/Muffin Tin Meatloaf - Want a very easy and very good quick dinner your family will love?  Try this Muffin Tin Meatloaf dish.  I used a muffin tin and a few small lidded dished (the ones I make onion soup in).  Serves 6 generously.

1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground pork

2 eggs

1 c breadcrumbs

2 oz grated Parmesan cheese

2 medium shallots finely chopped

1/4 c tomato paste

1 1/2 Tb garlic

salt and pepper to taste

2 T olive oil

1 1/2 c ketchup

1 tsp paprika

1 T chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix together beef and pork in a large bowl along with eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper.  Brush the muffin cups with oil (I used Pam) and place meat mixture in muffin cups.  Bake 12-13 minutes.  Stir together ketchup, paprika and 1 1/2 t rosemary in small bowl.  Spoon this mixture over the meat in the muffin trays.  Put back in oven and cook another 6-10 minutes.   Sprinkle remaining rosemary on the meatloaf before serving.

Ortigia Candles - On my updated "to give" and "to get" list.  Love the look, the smell, the packaging. It's so exotic.

Truffle Shuffle - one of the most unique gifts you'll ever get or give. I am the recipient of a great treat, a Truffle Shuffle class that I will experience in early 2021.   From the French Laundry (the SFO famed restaurant) comes this small unique company that offers Zoom cooking sessions with celebrity appearances. They ship you everything you need.  Pick a date and time and Zoom in. Stay tuned.

Sabre Flatware - I'd love to add a set of this flatware to my home dining collection. It's so French. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

A Christmas Poem From Horse Country Chic


Twas the week for before Christmas and all through my farm

Luckily the pandemic has done no harm

Our country is in the middle of a health emergency like no other

It's so bad you can't even travel home to mother

We're shopping on the Internet, not going into stores or shops

But thank goodness Visa, Mastercard and Am Ex have not put on any stops

Our country is in tatters, our democracy on the ropes

While our President who did lose the election in the White House mopes

A huge snow storm is headed on Wednesday our way, so the horses better have a huge supply of hay

We'll bed them down, with oats and alfalfa cubes at night

To keep them warm and happy (so they'll keep winning ribbons for me if they might)

2020  has been an "annus horribilis" - a year we'd like to forget

Can 2021 get here soon enough? Ready set

We'll make the best of what life throws us no matter what

That Pfizer vaccine can go into my arm - no if's and's or but's

At Horse Country Chic we'd like to thank our loyal readers for tuning in

Day after day, week after week, like a good Gin

Make the best of what's left of this unusual holiday season and year

We really have nothing but ourselves to fear

From Alfie, Sega, Apollo, April, Madda - the Virginia contingent wishes you good health

Stay safe, listen to Dr. Fauci please, he's not going to be stealth

We're grateful for all the good things in life

Our friends, family and furry animals - they make it right.

Onward, upward, over and under, we won't try to steal anyone's thunder

Just come back and read our posts every week if you will

And listen to nature, enjoy life, when it's very still.

To all, a final thank you and enjoy this wonderful day.

At my house, the horses of course always have the final say.

(The photo above is a photo of my house, not sure of the exact date, but it is around the turn of the century before the 1918 pandemic. So my farm has lived through two pandemics).

Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Saturday List - December Version

Christmas will be here in less than two weeks but somehow it just does not seem festive this year.  Making a last ditch effort lining up Zoom calls, more movies and some down time.  But for now, here's a new idea.....making a few lists, that I'll update once a month.....

1) Current Read   Above All Things by Tanis Rideout.

The Paris Wife meets Into Thin Air in this breathtaking debut novel of obsession and divided loyalties, which brilliantly weaves together the harrowing story of George Mallory's ill-fated 1924 attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest, with that of a single day in the life of his wife as she waits at home in England for news of his return. 
2) Currently Stitching   Ewe and Eye canvas  
I don't see this brand much in needlepoint stores but love their stuff and have completed two projects from their whimsical selection that has a bit of a early American edge. This will be a pillow and I am almost done!

3) Neflix Recommendation    Velvet
Subtitles, great looking Spanish men, style, intrigue and all set in a 1950's upscale department store in Madrid.What's not to love?

4) Equine Product Recommendation   EquiFit Half Pads
I bought one of these for myself with a holiday bonus and could not decide what color to pick (they come in solid black, black/blue, black/brown and black/red). Opted for the black/brown version. You can also buy fleece covers for these and show in them. Love the quality, not too bulky.
5) Recipe Recommendation  A Ragu
This time of year I love to make a good ragu. They take time but there is nothing better than a great ragu by the fire on a cold winter night. Here is a recipe for one from Bon Appetite but I would switch ground pork for the veal (I don't like to eat veal). 

6) Whatever Else I'm not a game person and it's hard to play games with just two people but here is an oldie. Many years ago I used to play Rook once a week - there were four of us and we got quite good at it. It was so much fun.  
7) Clothing Pick    Would love to add one of these sweaters to my winter wardrobe. Even though I may not ski this year, you can still look like a ski bunny.
And lastly, love this candle, to add to your holiday gift giving last minute and how perfect is this right now?

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