Dec 10, 2010


You know the scene in The Birdcage when Nathan Lane walks into the bedroom wearing a man's suit? And when he crosses his legs, it turns out he has pink socks on? And he looks at Val and Armand and says..."Too much?"

That's what I wondered at about 2am when I pulled the stitchy glasses off my face, took a deep breath, and stood back and looked at Frank.

I'm not too sure about the Kreinik squiggles, but for now they're staying right where they are. Getting those suckers on that canvas took me all the way through BOTH Barbara Walters specials and an episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. (My God, do you want to just SMACK Camille Grammer, or what?)

The one thing I DO like is the furry effect that I managed to get on the cuffs. This was accomplished by using Rainbow Gallery's Whisper and then brushing it all vigorously with a brush. I think that his hat band and coat bottom should be furry as well, n'est pai?

Believe it or not, the moustache is the thing that's giving me the biggest fits, and it's the thing that I thought would be the easiest. I tried about four different kinds of fuzzy threads for it last night but didn't like any of them. And if you've ever tried frogging fuzzy threads then you know that I'm not at all interested in doing THAT again. So I'm thinking that I'll stitch the outlines with the grey velvet and then a thinner thread for the squiggles and then fill in the moustache with a random long/short kind of thing with the same Watercolours that I used for the beard.

Here's a close-up of his hand on the right. I guess it doesn't look too bad when you consider it up close and all personal like:

Have I lost you yet? I would imagine that there's nothing more boring than being inside my head as I try to figger my way out of the corners of this canvas. I'm sorry to be blathering on and on about this, but it's my very first time at the rodeo and I'm trying to map out my thought process so that I'll have something to refer back to when I pick up the next painted canvas.

I looked back at my little stitchy journals the other day and realized that I seem to get myself in canvas moods in the winter and linen moods in the summer. I wonder if it's the feel of something heavier in my hand when it's cold outside? Or if it's just that I seem to have more Christmas stuff on canvas than I do on linen. Hmmmm. A question for the ages.

I'm happy to report that I baked off about four dozen of the Greek cookies last night after dinner. I didn't even make a dent in the Big Pile 'O Dough, so methinks I'll end up with about twelve or thirteen dozen. These cookies are indeed called "koulourakia" (good eye, Ms. Stitch Bitch), and I thought I'd share our dear departed mother's recipe for them. (I'm doing this so that you will understand that Sig had a wicked sense of humor and was ridiculously smart in addition to being very very ornery. I could hear her laughing at me all day yesterday as I read this darn recipe and then looked at her picture on the kitchen counter and said "????!!!!!!!" over and over again.) I finally went to the internets to see if I couldn't get a better clue and found a recipe that had actual real live instructions, so I'll share that with you at the bottom of Mom's recipe.

Koulourakia cookies a 'al Vacelia Helen Loukos Rich (also known as Siggy):
12 egg yolks
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups sugar
1 pound of unsalted butter (sweet)
1 tsp. baking soda
5 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla or whiskey
1 full box of Swans Down Cake Flour

Get dough so it isn't sticky. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Roll like pencils - twist - cut off- bake.

Do you see how I might have been a little confused? So after rummaging through the recipe tin further, I found some additional instructions in Mom's handwriting, but since there wasn't any ingredient list or name at the top I had to assume it was for these cookies:

Beat butter in mixer until it's light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar together.
Fold this into the whipped butter.
Stir 1 tsp. baking soda into the orange juice - it will foam up- pour into the mixer and put other flavoring in.
Mix well.
Sift 5 tsp. baking powder into about 2 cups of the Swans Down flour - put in mixer - gradually add rest of flour and keep mixing until mixed well.
Make pencil thin when rolling out as they puff up. Should be a golden light brown when baked.

Here's where I should probably tell you that we did, in fact, have these cookies every year at Christmas and Easter time, and they were wonderful. They taste of almost nothing, but when you dunk them into your morning coffee, all seems to be right with the world. My confusion comes when I try to figure out just how the heck anybody ever managed to make these damn things with these silly recipes!

So, to spare you all of the angst and hair pulling that has been going on over here in Hoosierville, may present a real live recipe from that was written by Lynn Livanos Athan:

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

1 lb. unsalted butter
1-1/2 c. sugar
6 eggs (reserve two for brushing)
6 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 oz. Ouzo
Sesame seeds (optional)


Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Using the mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and ouzo and mix well. While the mixer is running, add eggs one by one and mix until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and soda. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture little by little. The dough will be soft and malleable, but it should not be sticky. You should be able to pinch off a ball of dough and roll it into a cord or thin tube.

If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour. Allow the dough to rest a bit before rolling into shapes.

To shape the cookies, pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Roll out a cord or thin tube of dough about the length of a dinner knife. Fold in half then twist two times. You can also make a coiled circle or an "s" shape.

Beat the remaining two eggs in a bowl and add a splash of water to the egg. Brush the cookies lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Bake cookies on parchment paper or a lightly greased cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes or until they are nicely golden brown.


  1. I love the squiggles! What about filling the mustashe with french knots? I just did a gorgeous 'stashe that way. Very dapper.

  2. I wouldn't change a thing about the Kreinik squiggles - they are perfect.


  3. Oh I love the beard squiggles! They really add a lot to the piece and his cuffs are awesome! Great job!!

  4. I love how Frank Santa is turning out. I am getting caught up so thought I'd say that I think a real jingle bell on his hat would be perfect!

    If love the idea for the 'stash. I have a great stitch book that suggests following the curve of the 'stash and doing a modified crescent stitch. I think that would look nice. I'm thinking of doing that on a linen piece. Whatever you decide it will look fantastic!

  5. I have to agree, the beard squiggles are super. They just add extra whimsy to Frank. And I think the hands turned out quite nice, the fingers actually look like fingers.

  6. Love Frank! The hands are super. I`m afraid I would have taken the easy way out and just made them into mittens. I can just imagine frogging out fuzzy thread in that `tash *shudders*

    Kisses to Stewey...

  7. Frank is looking very very nice....I like using Whisper, but you are right about frogging it....nasty. I would love those cookies......

  8. Oh my favorite Greek cookies-my mouth would be watering but it's too frickin freezing up here in east biafra maine. Enjoy!

  9. I am in awe of your talent and vision.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. Don't you wonder how they ever managed to cook in the old days with recipes like that? :O But they did!

  10. Wish I could eat wheat -- those cookies sound (and look) scrumptious.

    Again -- Frank is fantastic -- love what you are doing with him.

  11. Holy Cow! I think I am in love with Frank. When you are done, could you mail him to me? HOHOHO HHHHOOOO! Merry Christmas!

  12. LOL - Your mother's recipe directions are just like mine! I guess I never intend anyone else to be able to decipher them.

    Love your Santa. And I want to say that I've noticed an extremely large improvement in how you went at this canvas. If you fretted about what to use and what to stitch to use, you left us out of the process. Seems to me you just attacked this and then voila, it's nearly finished! Great job.

  13. LOL - Your mother's recipe directions are just like mine! I guess I never intend anyone else to be able to decipher them.

    Love your Santa. And I want to say that I've noticed an extremely large improvement in how you went at this canvas. If you fretted about what to use and what to stitch to use, you left us out of the process. Seems to me you just attacked this and then voila, it's nearly finished! Great job.

  14. Hands look good. Cuffs look good. Beard looks very good. You've done great so far. Having ideas that don't work is just part of it, you know.

    If I had a nickel for every time I'd ripped out, we could take a private jet to Vegas and show Stewy a very good time!

    Not that I'm advocating teaching him to gamble, drink or chase the ladies....

  15. The cookies had me at Ouzo. My MIL was 100% Lebanese, and my family grew up with some very dear Greek friends. Thank your for sharing the cookie recipe; it brings back some wonderful memories.
    I love Frank exactly as you have stitched him. Great work; I'm always in a quandry when trying to decide how to do all the specialty stuff on a canvas.

  16. I think Frank is looking quite handsome. I have never tried anything like him. One day I will! You keep me inspired to try new things. I found your blog last weekend and spent two days reading it from the start. I can't wait to see what you do next!
    Trish in SC

  17. Your newest man in your life is really coming to life! Your stitching is so inspiring!

  18. Frank is very sophisticated--love his beard. I love your blog! It keeps me laughing.

  19. I haven't made koulourakia in years and your blog made me remember how good they are. They freeze well, too.

    Frank is looking good.

  20. Coni,
    Santa is beautiful! What an expert you have become. The cookies look delicious and I think I will give them a try before Christmas. Oh, and I quite agree with you about Camille.

  21. Frank looks just fabulous to me...

  22. I love the fuzzy cuffs! My mom was similarly vague with her recipes... one cake called for 2-3 cups of flour. Well, which is it? I was told that it depended what it looked like at 2 cups and you would just add until it looked right. Oy.