Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Are you shocked? A blog post from me both last week and this week? That may be a new record! I knew I wouldn't have time to post again until after Thanksgiving so I wanted to share my latest finishes with you today. I also want to thank you all for your sweet comments on my last post. I know what a truly busy time of year this is, so it's especially nice to read your kind comments.

I so enjoyed stitching "Be Ye Thankful!" It is an older Cricket Collection chart from 1997, but I think the design has stood the test of time very well.  The autumn colored leaves and tiny motifs scattered across the giant black letters lend a playful look, don't you think? Can you spot the acorn, the eggplant, the basket, the apple, and the ear of corn? The brick house is so pretty, too, with the wee leaves falling softly all around it.

"Be Ye Thankful"

I had to make a few color changes to accommodate my fabric (40 ct. Burch Newcastle), but most of the suggested colors were used--a mix of DMC and overdyeds. I'm picturing this in a black frame; what do you think?

And this next fall finish is on its way to a special friend for her birthday. Yes, you've seen this one before! I stitched it way back in November 2012 (you can see it in this post). This is a freebie from Beth Twist at My Heartstring blog which you can find right here. I loved my first finish of this so much that I ended up using the same thread colors and stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. If you're interested, the colors I used are Sampler Threads: Cidermill Brown, Wheat Fields, Nutmeg; Weeks Dye Works: Cocoa; Needle Necessities: 142; and Classic Colorworks: Used Brick. The leafy print in the background is what I used on the back of the little 2" X 4.75" pillow.  How do you feel about stitching the same design twice? I can only stitch things twice if enough time has passed between stitchings. Anyway, I hope the birthday girl is pleased with her (rather late!) gift!  

Another Prairie Schooler Santa has been added to my collection! This is the 1998 annual Santa featuring the jolly fellow carrying an ark with two pretty white doves nesting in his backpack. If you are familiar with this pattern, you'll notice that I did change one thing: I left out a giraffe that was hanging under the tree. To me--it looked like the poor thing had a broken neck! And since the animals on the ark arrived in pairs, I thought the pair of rabbits was perfect. This one is stitched on 25 ct. mushroom lugana with most of the suggested DMC threads. I did change the ecru to white, the green to DMC 520 and the colors of the ark and reindeer to 612 so they would show up better. I'm so going to miss these annual Santas now that Prairie Schooler is going out of business, but, thankfully, I have many in my stash to keep me happy for quite a while!

Why do you stitch?  As  most of you know, I'm a librarian in a very busy suburban public library. One of my duties as a reference librarian (in addition to finding the answers to all sorts of crazy and interesting questions--and some not so interesting ones such as "What day of the week is it?"), is selecting books to add to the collection. My fellow librarians and I have various subject categories to read reviews on and decide whether or not to purchase the books. I'm lucky enough to choose books in the  Dewey Decimal 740s section which includes the home decorating books, drawing, antiques, crafts, and needlework. Because I get to see each and every book as it is added to the collection, I run across some beautiful and inspiring titles. Even though I don't knit or quilt, I often spend time perusing the newly acquired books and sighing "some day!"

Anyway, last week when I was reading reviews on new needlework books, I came across one titled "Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing about Knitting" by Ann Hood. This book contains two dozen stories from writers about how knitting has changed and added to their lives. Now, I think the same thing can be said for cross stitching, don't you? Many of us stitch because it truly is our "therapy." By its very nature, making all those little x's in our fabrics causes us to simply sit, breath, and relax.

One quote in the knitting book, though, truly touched me because of the horrific events in France last week. And even though it is about knitting, the same can certainly be said for cross stitching: 

“With its calm, methodical progress, 
it’s a promise, 
in the midst of war and chaos and loss, 
that, somewhere, an orderly world still exists."
                                       --Stewart O'Nan

As the world seems to have gone completely mad lately with new reports of terrorism and tragedy on a daily basis, I find my stitching to be a source of refuge more than ever, don't you? 

I'll leave you with the following which I can only think of as a photograph of hope. My youngest son has met so many wonderful young people in his study abroad semester in Argentina this fall; not only from South America, but from all over the world. This was taken when he and five of his classmates traveled to the Mendoza region for a weekend of horse-back riding, wine-tasting, and sledding with the breathtaking Andes Mountains as their backdrop. In the photo you see three nationalities represented: The United States, Germany, and Hungary. Each of these young people is hoping that their studies in International Relations and related fields will, somehow, make a difference in the future of the world. Of all the photos my son (who is in the orange jacket) has sent me, this is the one that I love the most... I wonder what each of them was thinking as they gazed out, arms entwined, at this breathtaking view of the Andes?


I want to wish each of my fellow United States stitchers all the blessings of this season as Thanksgiving approaches. I hope your time spent with family and friends is filled with love and laughter--and lots of good eating. Safe travels and I hope you know how truly thankful I am for my blogging friends--you are the best! Bye for now...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stitched, but not finished

How are my blogging friends, today? I hope November is treating you well? We enjoyed a gorgeous, almost summer-like, first week of what is normally a very gray and chilly month--I loved it! It made me realize that living in a part of the country that is always warm and sunny would be so different than living here in the northeast. You would actually be able to get outside to walk and just enjoy the fresh air whenever you wanted. Am I ready to move south? No, I'm sure I would miss the four seasons, but I do admit the idea of warm weather year-round is becoming more and more tempting as I get older!

This week has brought back the normal cool, rainy weather that November is known  for so I've been nesting in my stitching chair and binge-watching a couple of older television series via Netlix (Parenthood and Foyle's War--love them both!). The problem is, when I'm watching television, I can't finish anything so all I have to show you today is stitched, but not finished pieces. I know many of you come here for finishing inspiration because you've told me so, so I hope you're not too disappointed today...

I've finished my very first Plum Street Samplers chart! I just fell in love with the adorable turkey family in this piece and knew I had to stitch it. I had begun this one before I went to my stitching retreat two weeks ago and managed to finish it there. How cute is the littlest turkey riding on the Mama turkey's back? And I love the Pilgrim hat that Papa turkey is sporting. And how about the giant whimsical sunflower? This piece was such fun to stitch!

Plum Street Samplings "Thankful For Thee" finish

I used a new-to-me 40 ct. linen and really liked the color: Burch newcastle. Most of the suggested DMC threads were used, too, but I did make a couple of changes so the golds would show up better on the fabric. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish it before next Thanksgiving because it doesn't look like it's going to get done this year!

My second finish is from the Just Cross Stitch 2015 Halloween issue and is called "Crow On a Pumpkin." I used 36 ct. summer khaki linen, but had some issues with the thread coverage so this is stitched a bit differently than what I normally do. In some places (the crow, the pumpkin, the tablecloth, the berries, and the flower centers) two threads were used (just chose my own selection of overdyeds) and for the leaves and gold sunflower border, I only used one thread. Did I do this on purpose? No, I first stitched the leaves with one thread and thought they looked fine, but when I began doing the crow with only one thread, he looked a bit sickly and anemic! I just couldn't bear the thought of going back and ripping out all of the leaves to re-stitch with two threads so I left them as I had stitched them. What do you think? I actually think it turned out quite well... the flowers and leaves have a more lacy appearance which, I think, looks pretty.

Crow On a Pumpkin

And I have a new Prairie Schooler Santa to add to my collection. This is one I also stitched last year. But, since that one was sent away to my friend Lois in Northern Ireland (you can see the finished ornament in this post), I decided to stitch one to keep for my own tree. This golden Santa is from Book No. 43, "Father Christmas" and is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads (although I did change the green of the wreath to DMC 520). This makes the fifth PS Santa that I've stitched this year. My Sunday Santa SAL partners Melissa in Canada, Hilda in Austria, and I were trying to do a Santa a month, but all of us have failed. Oh well, we have all stitched a few and should be proud of that fact, right? Now, to get them finished and ready to hang on the tree--not much time left!!

Prairie Schooler Santa (Book No. 43: "Father Christmas")

I was so touched to receive a wonderful package of goodies from Charlene at Paraclete Designs. She thought I deserved a little something for spreading the word about my friend, Cindy, who lost everything to black mold. (If you haven't read about Cindy's plight, please go to this post). I also mentioned Charlene's Paraclete Designs which collects unwanted stitching stash to pass along to different charities and mission projects and she wanted to thank me for getting the word out. Anyway, just look at what arrived in my mailbox--the entire collection of Heartstrings "The 12 Days of Santa" along with some buttons, perforated paper, and a couple of other cute small kits. Charlene--you are such a generous soul! Thank you so very much--I know I'll enjoy stitching these chubby guys and I wish you much luck in your mission to spread the love of cross stitch...

I've been published! Well, self-published, that is... I had been wanting to get a hardcopy of my blog printed for a few years now and when a 20% discount offer appeared in my email last month, I finally took the plunge. The result is this two year compilation (2013-2014) of Stitching Dreams which weighed in at a solid 314 pages! Every photo, every word, every finish shown on my blog from 2013 and 2014 is here! This was quite a splurge for me--even with the discount, but I am thrilled to be able to sit down and read through two years of memories in book form. Now to save up enough to publish 2009-2010 and 2011-2012. 

My blog--in book form!

The service I used is called Blog2Print and it was so easy. My only complaint is that my photo captions weren't centered under the photo itself, but were off to the side. However, the paper quality, layout, and solid construction of "my book" are just wonderful. Here is a look at two of the interior pages so you can get an idea of what it looks like... I know I'll enjoy sitting down and looking through this when I'm old(er) and gray(er) and want to marvel at how I was able to see well enough to stitch such tiny creations!

When I'm not working, sleeping, stitching, or reading, I seem to be spending time getting ready for our upcoming trip to Argentina. Oh, my, how do I pack for this trip? You see we'll be spending part of our visit in northern Argentina where it will be warm--high 70s / low 80s. And then we'll be flying way, way down--almost 2000 miles--to southern Argentina where it will be cold and very windy. Yes, we're going to Ushuaia in Patagonia, commonly known as the southern-most city in the world. And guess what we're going to see? Those darling little black and white tuxedoed guys known as Magellanic Penguins!! Yes, I'm beyond excited to be able to see them in person. Well, not as excited as I will be to see our youngest son who is studying international relations in Buenos Aires--but close!!

Thankfully, the bone bruise on my left foot is almost totally healed and I am walking normally again. I get a twinge of pain every now and then, but it should be fine for the tours and hikes we will be doing. I bought some great new hiking shoes which will give me even more stability so I should be in good shape. Now, we just have to hope the weather cooperates!

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from my kitchen... I tried this recipe for Dutch Apple Pie on Sunday and it turned out very well. I thought I could have cooked the pie longer as the apples were just a bit on the firm side, but the flavor was wonderful--especially when topped with ice cream!

Apple Pie, anyone?

I snapped this photo of our kitchen eating area to send to my youngest son one sunny morning. Thought he might like a "bit of home." We just heard that he plans on spending about two weeks with us over the Christmas holidays and I'm so excited. I love cooking and baking for that "kid" as he truly loves to eat and really appreciates my meals. Anyway, the kitchen just looked so pretty with the sun streaming in the (dirty!) windows... Thought you might like to see it, too!

I want to welcome all of my new followers--so glad you're here! Please remember that, if you ask me a question and want a reply, you need to leave your email address for me. Otherwise I have no way to respond to some of you who are "no-reply bloggers." I hope you can find some time to sit and stitch in this very busy pre-holiday season--it is so good for the stress-levels that seems to skyrocket at this time of year... Thank you, as always, for each and every comment--I truly appreciate them! Bye for now...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Three for my tree...

Good morning, all! I plan on making this short and simple today (I can already hear some of you snickering at the idea of me writing a "short" post, but I really am going to "try"!). I'm busily packing away for my stitching retreat this afternoon so I have a bit of a deadline here... After all, I have to get the important stuff packed--the charts, fabrics, threads, needles, and Ott light! I have set aside way too many projects to take with me for what amounts to 2 1/2 days of stitching, but isn't that always the case? If you're anything like me, the thought of not having enough stitching to keep myself busy is one of my worst nightmares. So, I always end up bringing too many projects! I'm so looking forward to seeing my four stitching friends later today as I haven't seen any of them since last year at our retreat. That's pretty sad considering two of them live within an hour and a half of me, but we all lead busy lives and this year was particularly crazy for some of us...

For those of you who are new to my blog (a big welcome to you, first of all!), I have been stitching an ornament a month for my Christmas tree since January of 2010. Creating ornaments really is my first love when it comes to stitching--there is just something special about bringing them out of hiding each December and carefully placing them on the tree. I have three new creations to share with you today for the months of August, September, and October.

For August, I stitched "Winter's Night" by Grandma Kringles. It seems that Grandma Kringles is no longer designing, unfortunately, because she really had some darling ideas. Her blog is gone, but you can still find some of her patterns available online.This one is stitched on 32 ct. dirty Belfast linen with the suggested  DMC threads. Although I love the way it turned out, I really struggled with the stitching. I've gotten so I can barely stand to stitch with two strands anymore, which is why you see me mostly stitching on 40 ct. or stitching "over one" on 28 ct. fabric. I stitch so much faster with one thread and there is no worry about the threads twisting up or laying flat. Does anyone else feel that way?

To finish "Winter's Night," I sewed a strip of burgundy gingham on one side, stitched some little x's on top where the two fabrics joined, stretched out a spring (I confess that I needed my husband's help with that chore!) for a hanger and added a strip of the frayed gingham in the corner. Oh, and I added a rusty bell at the tip of Santa's hat...  A really simple finish, but I love it!

September brought an ornament finish called, what else, but "Merry Christmas!" This design is from All Through the Night and was stitched over one on 28 ct. white evenweave using DMC 115.

I thought a round finish with some ruched gingham ribbon would be perfect for this one. Many of you have asked about how to ruche ribbon. The way this blogger makes the stitches in her ribbon is how I do it, too: ruched ribbon tutorial. Work slowly and gather the ribbon after you've made the zig-zag stitching on about a two inch length--don't wait until the very end and attempt to gather it all at once! I glue my ruched ribbon on with just a teeny bit of Aleene's Tacky Glue applied sparingly with a toothpick.

And for my October ornament, I couldn't resist making another of the snowmen featured in the "Let It Snow" chart by A Stitcher's Hands. Meet the third jolly snowman that I've stitched from this chart. He is stitched on some sort of mystery 32 ct. linen. Are you smiling now?  C'mon--how can you resist that crooked grin of his?

I finished him using fabrics that picked up the blues and greens in his hat and scarf along with a mini-pompom on his hat and some white ric-rak. The blue and green plaid is from a cloth napkin I picked up at Kohl's last spring. I wanted to give all three snowmen a similar finish.

Here are all three together--do  you have a favorite? You'll notice that my newest one is wider than the others. Since I used the exact same piece of fabric for all, I can only assume that the fabric wasn't square as this newest guy clocks in at 1/4 inch wider!

Here are my three newest ornaments all together. As you can see, I have rather eclectic taste! You've got a more primitive Santa, a cutesy snowman, and a traditional bird and holly ornament. I really enjoy mixing things up in my stitching and will stitch just about anything except fairies, dragons, or extremely primitive designs. How about you?

Gratitude... To say I was touched and gratified by the number of you who emailed me wanting to help out my friend,  Cindy, who lost all of her household belongings and stitching stash due to a deadly black mold infestation, is an understatement. I can't begin to tell you how wonderfully generous the stitching community is--but, then again, I think you already knew that, didn't you?!

I heard from fellow bloggers, both here in the U.S. and overseas;  many stitchers that had never before commented on my blog, but must read it (which made me happy!);  an EGA group near Binghamton, NY;  a New Jersey cross stitch store owner (Where Victoria's Angels Stitch); and a woman who runs a group that accepts donations of stitching stash to pass on to others. Charlene set up this group, Paraclete Designs, which is involved with accepting the donations, sorting,  repackaging, and sending them on to various charitable organizations, teachers, and street ministries to spread the love of cross stitching to others. A very interesting mission that I never knew existed! You can read more about it on her website. Each of these people and groups wanted Cindy's address so they could help her rebuild her stash. If there is anyone else interested in helping her out, just email me and I will send you the details. I'm happy to report that Cindy's health is improving day by day, she has begun stitching again, and has just returned to work. I can't help but think that knowing so many fellow stitchers were thinking of her and praying for her recovery is helping her in so many ways...

Have you noticed anything missing from my blog this month? Yes, there is no evidence of Halloween stitching... You see, my dad died on Halloween last year, and I just haven't had it in me to even put out so much as one of my Halloween decorations or pieces of stitching. I know this feeling will pass gradually, but the "missing him" is still a bit too fresh this year. I have enjoyed seeing all of your spooky stitching, though, and I wish you all a very fun Halloween!

Thank you for your well wishes regarding my bone bruise. It really is beginning to feel better and I can walk around the house (and work!) without limping. But, it still hurts to walk any distance so I can't yet use my treadmill. I'm encouraged by the healing that has taken place since my last post, though, so I know I'm on the right track!

Well, so much for a "short post," eh? I tried--I really did!  Thank you, thank you for your visit today, and a special thanks to those of you who take the time to comment. I never know how many of you actually read my words or if you just look at the photos, but it's nice to hear from you just the same! Bye for now...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fall finishes and helping out a stitching friend

Happy October to you! October is one of my favorite months of the year and it's been a great month, weatherwise, so far. We started off with cooler, wet weather, but the past five days have been just perfect. My heart goes out to all of you in the Carolinas, though--such devastation from the rains and floods and broken dams. Oh my--it is just heartbreaking to watch the news coverage... 

Well, I've had  more stitching time lately as I continue to recover from the bone bruise on my left foot. When you hear the word "bruise," it doesn't sound serious, but a bone bruise is very different than a bruise suffered on your arm or leg when you hit it on something.  The pain is much more severe and can last months. I've been following the RICE treatment plan: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation and it seems to be working. It's been three weeks now, and the pain is subsiding, just leaving me with a bit of tenderness and swelling. I so miss my daily treadmill workouts, but they will have to wait until I am completely healed. I've just begun riding a stationary bike for a bit of exercise this week and it feels so good to be doing something physical again! I have been able to work and my new odd gait as I hobble across the floors at the library has earned me a new nickname: "The Limping Librarian!" Hopefully, by my next post, I'll be feeling significantly better.

I have a few finishes to show you today and the first is a big one (for me anyway!). I finished the Prairie Schooler Band Sampler (Tall Oaks) from Book No. 40 that I showed you in my previous post. Isn't it pretty for this time of year? I'll be framing this one--eventually! All of you know, I'm much better at finishing smalls, than getting larger pieces framed!

Prairie Schooler's Band Sampler (Tall Oaks)

I just love all of the squirrels in this piece--the two little guys holding their acorns below the tree, the wild looking giant squirrel climbing up to the top of the tree and the two tinier squirrels scampering away in the bottom border.

I did make a couple of changes to the piece. Notice the vacant space above the two squirrels under the tree? That was supposed to be personalized with my initials and year. I really loved the empty look, though--I think it gives the eyes a place to rest. So, I simply stitched my initials and the year 2015 discreetly at the bottom of the sampler. I also changed the color of the acorns to DMC 3045 so they would more resemble acorns in my part of the country.

One of the reasons this piece is so special to me is because of this tree:

It is an oak tree--the only oak tree in our yard--and the story behind it is one that most mothers will appreciate. It all started one day back in the mid-80s when my oldest son was about 3 or 4 years old and he noticed a teeny tiny sapling that had sprung from an acorn (probably carried over by a squirrel from one of our neighbors giant oak trees) growing right beside the parking place in our driveway. He basically claimed the tree as his own--it fascinated him and he enjoyed watching it grow year by year. The oak sapling soon became too large to remain in its place right beside the driveway so we moved it to the front yard. When we totally remodeled our home almost 20 years ago, we had a decision to make: should we cut down the tree or move it? With the pictures of my son and his love for that tree  in our minds, we chose to pay to have it moved to its present location in the back yard. It is now about 30 years old, growing straight and strong and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the saying "Tall trees from little acorns grow" and of one very dear little boy.

A couple of blogging friends recently celebrated birthdays and I wanted to stitch them something special. To my friend Lois in Northern Ireland, I sent a small pillow as a token of our friendship. This is a design by Annie Beez Folk Art and is appropriately called "Such Friendship." Stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with a mix of overyded and DMC colors, I just love its simple message and I hope it conveys to Lois just how much I treasure our friendship!

I made a wee pillow so she can set it on her mantle or bookshelf or place it in a bowl full of other small gifts. It is backed with the fabric shown behind it and finished off with just a bit of lace and some handmade cording.

"Such Friendship" finish

And for one of my very first blogging friends, Myra, I made this cute Halloween witch. Yes, you've seen it before--this is the third time I've stitched her, but I never get tired of that cute little face! The design is from Mary Garry's "Seasonal Mementos" booklet and is stitched on 32 ct. bay leaf linen with the suggested DMC colors. (And aren't those autumn hued mums in the background pretty? A nice "get well" gift from my oldest son and his girlfriend after my oral surgery last month). Myra loves anything Halloweeny and I know this gift will fit right in with her decorating this month!

Mary Garry's "Seasonal Mementos" witch

Helping out one of our own... Have you ever asked yourself, what you would take from your home if you had to leave suddenly? For me, it would be my family photos and my giant box of stitched Christmas ornaments. But, what if you could take nothing? What if you had to vacate suddenly and leave everything behind. Well, this is what one of my long-time blogging friends faced recently. Cindy and I bonded over our love of stitching smalls--especially Christmas ornaments and we've exchanged both birthday and Christmas gifts over the past six years. This summer, when Cindy kept getting sicker and sicker, she found that her apartment was contaminated with a deadly black mold and, to save her life, she had to leave literally everything behind and move out. You see, the black mold spores can spread everywhere and, you guessed it, all of her stitching fabrics, threads, charts, finishes, and gifts had to be thrown away. Can you imagine? Cindy has posted about the black mold problem and is attempting to do her part to shine awareness on just how serious it can be. You can read all about it in  her post.

Would you like to help? As soon as I received her email about this crisis, I began putting together a care package for Cindy of charts, threads, handmade cording, fabrics, and a gift card to Joann's and sent it to her last week. She was so touched and since then, I've had others asking me for her address because they want to help her re-build her stash, too. Would you like to help, too? If so, please email me (my address is in the sidebar--just click on the little girl with the black cat in my profile to find it) and I will send you Cindy's new address. Stitchers are such generous folks and I know she would appreciate any bit of help--even a skein of DMC in an envelope would be appreciated. And if you can't help by sending a little something, please keep those prayers and positive thoughts coming her way... Right now, Cindy is focused on getting her health back and returning to work. I really think receiving little care packages from the stitching community would go a long way toward helping her recover, don't you?

And here I thought this was going to be a short post! Ha! I always love October for another big reason, too, and that is that I'll be going to my annual stitching retreat in a couple of weeks. Just five friends sitting, chatting, eating, and stitching for 3 days--what could be better? This year, we are taking a break from making each other anything--it's just been a crazy year for some of us (do you think I'm one of them?!) and it will be really nice to just show up and enjoy myself without worrying about getting four gifts finished up...  Until next time, happy stitching, my friends, and thank you all for your much appreciated comments and email! Bye for now...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Finally Fall!

Good morning, my blogging buddies, on one gorgeous autumn morning here in western Pennsylvania. I think this September may have been one of the nicest (and warmest!) on record and I've loved every second. The sunny days and the crisp, cooler nights are just my "cup of tea"... I've been stitching a couple of fall things and putting out a few autumn-hued decorations and my house just seems much cozier these days--like it's welcoming me to spend the colder days ahead all curled up in my stitching chair. Sounds like a nice plan, doesn't it?

Of course, real life interferes sometimes and that precious stitching time is hard to come by...  This past month has been so busy that I'm afraid I don't have much to share with you today. But, I hope you'll stick around and read through my lone September post. First of all, I want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers--there are over 1500 of you now and I'm so thrilled to have you visit! I began this blog in 2009 as a simple way to keep track of my finishes--never in my wildest dreams did I imagine there would be so many of you who enjoyed reading it! Thank you all for your wonderful support--especially this year. It has been one difficult year around here, but things are looking up. My husband's broken neck has healed to the point where he has returned to biking--I do worry, but he is absolutely elated to be "back in the saddle," as he puts it. Amazing how far he has come in just four months. The numbness/tingling in his fingers on his right hand continue, but it is nothing that he can't learn to live with...

So, on to stitching! I have one small finish and one larger work in progress that I'd like to share with you today. The finish is a Prairie Schooler from an issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine and couldn't be more perfect for this time of year. "Autumn" is stitched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco using the suggested DMC threads. The finished design is so tiny--just 1¾ by 1¼ inches!! You know me and my love of anything tiny!

To finish this off, I used some miniature rust-colored ric rak to frame it and backed it with the cute acorn printed fabric you see in the background. I thought of adding buttons or something to the corners where the ric rak meets, but I felt they would overwhelm this tiny piece. Sometimes, an understated finish is just better, don't you think? I am so happy with the final look...

Prairie Schooler Autumn finish

I've also begun a larger Prairie Schooler Sampler from Book No. 40 "Band Samplers." I've wanted to stitch this one for so long, but have avoided it because of the abundance of browns in the design--I simply don't like stitching with browns! But, I finally just took the plunge and I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying stitching this piece--even that crazed-looking giant squirrel making his way up to the tree top! I'm using 40 ct. flax Newcastle with DMC threads and, hopefully, I'll have it finished up for you next time I post.

Tall oaks from little acorns grow...

As I mentioned, I've also been doing a bit of fall decorating and the first thing to get a makeover was my kitchen corner cupboard. Down came the patriotic stitching and accessories that I shared with you in this post and out came the autumn colored leaves, pumpkins, and squirrels.

Here are some close-ups of each shelf so you can see them better... The carved wooden squirrels belonged to my grandmother and I think they're perfect to display alongside the PS stitched September Squirrel and the Midnight Stitching "Quaker Acorns I" piece.

The middle shelf contains a bowl full of sunflower finishes from Prairie Schooler, Homespun Elegance, Heart In Hand, and an old freebie that is no longer available online (just a reminder to print out those freebies when they are offered online as the designers often remove them).

On the bottom shelf are some crocheted sunflowers from my sweet blogging friend, Annette in The Netherlands in a wire basket of leaves and pumpkins, my little Lizzie High doll with her crows and giant sunflower, a tarnished old baby cup from a distant relative, and a sweet quote about September that I printed from one of my favorite home lifestyle blogs, On Sutton Place.

Here is a closeup of of the print which you can find and print off for yourself right here. I used some mottled beige scrapbook paper to print it on and had the frame in my stash. A cute and inexpensive addition to my corner cupboard, don't you think?

I wanted to share a few photos from our annual trip to the Outer Banks last month. In spite of the not-so-great weather, I so enjoyed spending time with my family and catching up with relatives we only see once or twice a year. This year we all (24 of us) stayed in a giant house right on the beach. This was the view from the front deck. See those whitecaps? Yes, there were some very rough waters this year and the "red flag" of danger/no swimming was posted for much of the week. You can actually see it in the middle right side of the photo. I didn't care as I don't go in the ocean anyway, but my sons were so disappointed.

Just the five of us went out together on August 26th which would have been my dad's 88th birthday--just wanted some time away from the crowd to remember dad and raise a glass in his honor. This was the peaceful view from the restaurant in the calm sound. Just lovely!

As always there were some glorious sunrises...

And equally glorious sunsets...

I am much more at home lounging by a lake or hiking in a forest, but there is something so very special about the beaches in North Carolina, too. We've been going with my husband's family for 31 years now and it's been fun to see the family grow. Next year, we might actually need to expand to two houses!

Thank you all for your well-wishes for my youngest son who is studying in Argentina this semester. I'm happy to report he got there safely and is settling in nicely. He's finding the Spanish to be somewhat of a challenge as they speak very rapidly and Argentinian Spanish is a bit different than what he learned. He may have to record his lectures and break them down so he can understand things more easily. We are still  hoping to go visit in late November or mid-December and take an extended trip to Patagonia!

I'll leave you with a photo of this sweet little fawn who made his way up to munch on some sunflower seeds. Each year, after the sunflowers have finished blooming, my husband lays the giant flower heads out on the fence that surrounds his garden next to the tool shed. The birds, chipmunks, and deer all delight in this unexpected feast!

Thank you all for visiting today--so sorry for the long time between posts. I went through some dreadful oral surgery last week and now appear to have hurt my left foot. I dropped something on it and it is swollen and painful when I walk. Boy, it's just been one thing after another since I turned 60! I hope this isn't a sign of things to come... I'm actually heading up to New York to visit my mom tomorrow--after the month I've had I need a big, big hug from her. There's just something about mom's hugs that takes away the pain even at my age! Anyway, thank you for your very kind comments and I hope the rest of September brings you much to smile about. Bye for now...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Late summer finishes

Ten more days left until September... Where did our summer go? I heard the summer of 2015 described as "The Tale of Two Summers" yesterday on a local news program--a perfect description of the season here in western Pennsylvania. Until mid-July, we had nothing but rain, rain, rain--over 10 inches! But since that time we've had nothing but sun and humidity with just a bit over 2 inches of rain. Things are drying out quickly here and it's looking like late fall--the yards are all turning brown as many of the leaves are crinkling up and falling way before their time. The big tulip tree outside of our kitchen window has dropped so many leaves, we actually need to go find our rakes and get busy!

In many ways, I look at this as "our lost summer," due to my husband's broken neck and all the things that we never got to: the paint can that sits, unopened, in a bedroom we intended to renovate, the mulchless garden beds, the many weeds popping up in places I've never seen. But, thankfully, things will return to normal next summer as my husband's neck is healing beautifully. He still has to wear the neck brace when he drives and has the problem with numbness in his fingers, but he can deal with those issues... Thank you, again, for all your prayers and well-wishes--we will feel forever blessed that he had the outcome he did!

With the busyness of our family weddings and all the cookies I made, I have had little time to stitch, but I do have a few late summer finishes to share with you today. Of all the seasons, I have the fewest things stitched for summer, so, in an attempt to help remedy that, I stitched this peaceful harbor scene from Prairie Schooler's "Weather Wise" (Book No. 145). It is stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads.

I found a perfect fabric which mimics the flying birds (or, I suppose, the design could be interpreted as waves) in a Moda charm pack that I had purchased called "Lakeside Gatherings." I just love purchasing charm packs to use in my finishing and this gray fabric didn't disappoint. The only bad thing about charm pack cuts is that they usually aren't big enough to cover the back of the pillow or ornament--I use them more for little accent pieces. Luckily, I came across this lighter gray fabric that has what look like bubbles on it and I am so pleased with how it turned out. I was inspired by my sister's wedding invitation, which had a nautical theme, to make a reef knot (commonly known as a square knot) for the front of the pillow and I was really excited to see that it "tied up" this finish quite nicely!

Drawn Thread is another of my favorite cross stitch designers due to, not only her beautiful designs, but also the use of specialty stitches which add so much to a finish. This one is "Free and Brave" and is stitched on 36 ct. summer khaki linen. I used the suggested overdyed threads, but substituted the suggested green with Needle Necessities 142. Isn't it pretty? I truly love everything about this one from the patriotic colors to the sweet birds to the winding vine.

I really struggled with the specialty-stitched red flowers! Yikes--I must have ripped them out three or four times before I got them to look acceptable. But they, along with the Rhodes heart and the satin-stitched leaves help make this design even more special. I plan on framing this one and am thinking a rustic looking black frame would be nice. Here is a closer look of the specialty stitches for you:

The Prairie Schooler Santa Sunday SAL that I had been doing with Melissa in Canada and Hilda in Austria has fallen by the wayside this summer. We just don't seem to have any free time on Sundays to stitch! I did finish up a fourth Santa, though, way back in May which I had forgotten to show you. This one is from Prairie Schooler's "Old World Santas" (Book No. 80) and is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle.  

And here is a shot of the four I have stitched this year for February, March, April, and May. Melissa, Hilda, and I hope to get back on track and resume our Sunday Santa SAL this fall. I don't know when I'll have time to finish these guys into ornaments, but I'm determined to have them hanging on my Christmas tree in December! Which is your favorite?

I had admired a beautiful finish on Marie's blog and she kindly offered to send me the chart. I just love all the little motifs and I can't wait to stitch it. Just look at how beautifully Marie's finish turned out! Wow!! Thank you so much, my friend--I will certainly pass along the chart to another stitcher when I am done and keep the kindness going...

And all the way from France came a surprise package from my friend, Nathalie (no blog). She stitched me this darling patriotic ornament and included a lovely French cross stitch magazine along with some sweet treats. You spoiled me, Nathalie! Thank you so much for your beautiful package and your friendship...

I've been busy preparing my dinner for our upcoming trip to the beach in Corolla, NC. Each family takes one night to cook and I always make lasagna ahead of time. This time I made 2 1/2 large pans of it along with 3 dozen meatballs, and an assortment of cookies (yes, more cookies!!) to take down. I freeze everything and then by the time we arrive at the beach it is mostly thawed and ready to heat up for an easy dinner... just have to make a salad, garlic bread, and dessert. Everyone prepares such yummy meals--we eat very well on this trip, let me tell you! The hard part is juggling the timing and serving 24 people when I am only used to our small family. Wish me luck...

Changes... I have been in the same job as a librarian at the same library, for my entire career. I'm coming up on almost 28 years there (having taken 10 years off when my sons were young). But these days, it's rare to find a young person staying in the same job for his or her entire career. My youngest son recently made the decision to leave his job at the Department of Justice to go study abroad in Argentina. He leaves in September and will return to the U.S. in December. It was a hard decision as he truly loved (most parts!) of his job, but he, as part of his studies for his Master's Degree in International Affairs, wanted to better his Spanish speaking ability and decided that to be immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture and take classes at the The Universidad Torcuato Di Tella would be his best bet. I am, as a mother, both nervous and excited for him... Argentina is so, so far away. We are thinking of trying to visit him in late fall. Have any of you ever been there? I hope this new chapter of his life is fulfilling in every way...

Well, that's about it for today... I thank you for your kind comments and lovely emails as always and I hope what remains of the summer is enjoyable in every way! Thanks for visiting. Bye for now...