Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Prairie Schooler, A Present, and Patagonia Pictures

Good morning, my friends! I hope June is turning out to be a wonderful month for each of you... I'm loving these extra hours of daylight--more good stitching time!  It's been good to have more stitching time to keep my mind off my youngest son who is happily exploring China. I worry about my guys when they are so far from home--do you do that, too? No matter what age, I suppose a mom is always worrying until her "chicks" are back in their own homes safe and sound...

Well, no one guessed what chart I was working on last month, although many of you had the designer correct... Yes, it is a Prairie Schooler and, guess what? I have a finish to share with you... This sweet scene is from the  Village Green chart (Book No. 89). Doesn't it bring to mind a warm, summer morning with the cute roosters gearing up to cock-a-doodle-doo their greetings to the world?

Some funky chickens

In the middle section is a soft yellow house (with a blue door, no less!). Don't you love yellow houses? I've always imagined that the people who live in them must always have smiles on their faces... And how about those bluebirds (giant ones, at that!) flying overhead?

A large yellow and blue house

The final part of the pastoral looking scene has an old burnt red farmhouse with a field of corn and a wooden wheelbarrow patiently waiting for the farmer to wake up and put in a long day's work. I'm not sure if that creature in the forefront is a dog or a deer, but he is very cute!

An old farmhouse and field

Would you like to see how the whole scene comes together?  It's hard to get a good photo of it because it is long and narrow, but I think you get the picture (you can click on the image to enlarge it, too). I thought the pretty border on this one was an unusual touch for a Prairie Schooler design, but I think it adds so much. I used all the suggested DMC colors on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle and plan to frame this one for my family room...

Village Green finish

My other finish is a birthday present which was sent off to England for dear June. This was a freebie from a beautiful large design which can be found on Les Marottes de Nathalie blog. I only stitched a tiny portion of it and turned it into a small pillow for June's gift using the soft colors that she loves so much.  I used a combination of overdyed threads and DMC on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle for this finish and I'm happy to say June received it in time for her birthday. I'm so glad she likes it!

Birthday gift for June

PATAGONIA PICTURES... On to--finally--my photos from our last stop in our great Argentinian adventure trip: Patagonia! Where to start, where to start?!  This is the fourth (and final) installment in my Argentina travelogue. If you want to read the previous entries, please check out these posts: Buenos Aires, Argentina (Part One); Buenos Aires, Argentina (Part Two); Uruguay.

Our November 2015 journey from western Pennsylvania to the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, (commonly known as the southernmost city in the world) was almost 14,000 miles long (round trip)! I've shown this graphic before, but, for any new readers, here is a better look of just how far we traveled way down to the very tip of South America...

Our flight from Pittsburgh to Tierra del Fuego

With the very first glimpse of the mountainous foothills of the Andes from our airplane window, I knew I was in for a treat in Patagonia. I love mountains! Some people love the beach--I love the mountains...

Snow-capped Andes Mountains

When we got to our hotel, this was the beautiful view that greeted us from our bedroom window overlooking the Beagle Channel (named after the ship that Charles Darwin sailed on in the early 1800s). I literally sighed the first time I looked out the window and felt myself begin to totally relax...

View of the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego

Here is a look up at our hotel,  Los Cauquenes,  from the stony beach along the Beagle Channel...

Our hotel for three nights

The beach was very rocky and filled with mussels during low tide.

The rocky shoreline on the Beagle Channel

We had hired a guide for the first two days of our Patagonia trip and he was well worth the expense. Valentine was funny, knowledgeable, interesting, and did a great job of keeping our diverse group on task. You see there were people from all over the world in our small group of fifteen to twenty tourists: people from Italy, Great Britain, The Netherlands, and even a Russian couple who lived in Texas. Our trip was very physically demanding--long days filled with kayaking and hiking. We fell into bed each night, exhausted, but enthralled with all we had seen...

A family of birds watches us from the rocks

Some brightly colored homes sprinkled at the base of the       Andes Mountains

The so-called "flag trees" are shaped from the incessant winds that blow through Tierra del Fuego.

Shaped by years of wind and rain

While kayaking the first afternoon, we spotted this group of wild horses grazing along the lake.

The horses were totally oblivious to us humans!

We learned that wild horses sometimes breed with ranch horses and roam freely throughout the Patagonian landscape. The offspring of the wild horses and domesticated ranch horses have a rough coat like this young fellow. We were just hiking through the woods when we happened upon him! Such a surprise, but he didn't seem to mind us trespassing in his territory...

A sad looking little pony in the forest

Notice the many fallen trees in the background. They fall not only due to the high winds, but due to the giant beavers that have been decimating the forests. Much of the forest landscape in the Tierra del Fuego National Park looks like it is "littered" with fallen tree trunks. The trees are beach trees and often are blown over due to the high winds. However, decomposition takes an extremely long time due to winters that hover around the freezing mark and cool (40°s and low 50°s) weather in the summers. Therefore, the trees just lay there for years and years without decaying!

Can you spot the pony in the thicket of trees?

A lovely day for a hike!

These birds are called Cauquenes--what a pretty pair!

On the second day, our Argentinian guide, Valentine, thought the four of us (my middle son didn't go on this trip with us) were ready for a solo run. Yikes! It was very windy and the water level was very low so we kept getting caught on sand bars. It was a bit scary at times, but we made it! My youngest son told me I was doing more of a "Parisian paddle" than a "Patagonian paddle," though. Oh well... At 60, I was the oldest member of our group (my husband is 6 months younger!) and I'm really proud of my efforts!

Row, row, row your boat!

I had an incentive to paddle harder, though--we were finally going to see the penguins!! After landing our kayaks on a sandy inlet, a boat picked us up for the ride to Martillo Island.  It was a sight I'll never forget--a tiny island literally covered with over a thousand  Magellanic Penguins.

My first view of Martillo Island!

As we drew closer, it became clear just how many penguins there were; not only were they on the beach, but covering the hillside as well. Magellanic Penguins are only about 2 to 3  feet tall and weigh between 6 and 15 pounds.

Penguins, penguins, everywhere!

We weren't allowed to walk on the island, but the penguins weren't shy about walking right up to our boat, which was resting on the sand, to say "hello" and wave those little wings at us.

Aren't we cute?!

Some took a dip in the frigid waters...

Bath time

 While others preened and strutted about...

Notice how large his feet are!

I would have loved to watch them all day, but we were on a tight schedule so we were only there about an hour. Penguin island was a sight I'll never forget... Apparently, there was a smell you would never forget either. Luckily, I had a cold and couldn't smell a thing!!

Black and white as far as the eye can see

After our morning of kayaking and penguin watching, we were dropped off at Gable Island for lunch near this old sheep-shearing shed.

An abandoned sheep-shearing shed on Gable Island

We then set out on a long hike over the island--this little guy accompanied us most of the way!

Argentinians love dogs--we saw one in almost every yard

Such pretty scenery greeted us along our hike... I can see why the Argentinian flag is light blue and white--it perfectly matches this sky!

We couldn't have asked for better weather.

View on Gable Island hike: November 2015

View of Beagle Channel

Our last stop of that day was  Estancia Harberton, the oldest estancia (large ranch/farm/estate) in the province of Tierra del Fuego.

Estancia Harberton on Gable Island

Our final day in Patagonia was spent hiking part of the way up to Martial Glacier. 

An icy scene in Tierra del Fuego

The higher up we hiked, the more snow we saw...

Our snow covered path

Me, taking a breather!

The latter part of the hike was very difficult--we had to walk at a steep angle and there were lots of lose rocks.

Not the easiest hike I've been on!

But, the view at the end of our hike was worth it! That is the city of Ushuaia down in the distance.

View from the top!

The hike down was much easier and we treated ourselves to a hot drink in this quaint tea house at the bottom of the mountain. Don't you love the yarn-wrapped tree?

Knitting is universal!

Our final evening found us in the city of Ushuaia which has become the stopping off point for cruises to Antarctica.  You can see the city of brightly colored houses nestled in front of those majestic mountains.

The port at Ushuaia--notice the large cruise ship on the right.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this cute penguin mural painted on the side of a local store.

The penguin theme is everywhere in the city

I'll leave you with my two favorite photos of our trip... The first was taken at the end of the first day of kayaking and hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park. We all look so happy and proud! (The only thing that makes me sad, is that our middle son isn't in it as he chose not to go to Argentina). It was such an amazing feeling to think we were at the very tip of South America! From left to right are my husband, me, my youngest son, and my oldest son.

Happy smiles at the end of a busy day of kayaking and hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

And this was the view from our hotel room at sunset. Every time I look at this photo I relax. I hope to get a larger print made and then plan to frame it. It is that special to me... I have to say this is my favorite photo of our trip.

The sun sets on Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego

I hope you've enjoyed my Argentina photos over the past few months... It was a trip I never thought I'd be making, but your kids end up enticing you to the most unusual places! If my youngest hadn't chosen to study in Buenos Aires last semester, just think of all these amazing sights I never would have seen. This was definitely a trip "outside my comfort zone." As I mentioned earlier, it was very physically demanding for me and I was proud of myself for faring so well after just coming off a serious foot injury. I took a chance and got a bit venturesome and it was worth it. You just never know where this journey called life will take you, do you?

Thanks so very much for visiting today... I want to welcome all of my new followers and say a heart-felt "Thank You!" to all of my loyal commenters. You really make my day... As always, I'm happy to answer questions--just be sure to leave your email address so I have a way to get back to you. Bye for now...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the busy, busy month of May...

Good morning! It's so hard to believe this is the very last day of May, isn't it? I hope you are all excited for some warmer weather like I am... This last week has really warmed up in western Pennsylvania, but I spent most of it laid up with the flu. I can't remember the last time I was that sick--cold, cough, fever, chills, the whole achy body thing--ugh! But, I'm just about "normal" now (other than a lingering cough) and I wanted to get one last post in before the month was over...

I actually have just one finish to share with you, but first, I want to thank you for your always appreciated comments on my last post. I guess the insect art freaked a few of you out, didn't it? Not my thing, either, but it was creepily fascinating anyway!  I've been stitching, but some of it is for gifts so I can't share them with you yet. This finish was actually a gift, too, sent to my sweet Canadian friend, Melissa. She isn't cross-stitching these days, but is happily spending time with her sewing machine so I made this cute With Thy Needle and Thread piece for her sewing room.

"Pin Feathers"

The colors in this second photo of "Pin Feathers" are more "true"--really soft and pretty. I used the suggested colors and stitched this one on 40 ct. flax Newcastle.  I made a simple flat hanging ornament backed with the fabric on the right and topped off with handmade cording and a blue-gray gauzy ribbon. Melissa wrote that she has it hanging near her sewing board to remind her of me.  Awww...    I'm so glad she likes it! I love it so much that I plan on making one for myself one of these days.

With Thy Needle and Thread "Pin Feathers" finish

The only other stitching I can share with you today is a larger (for me!) piece that I have stitched only a quarter of so far.  Here is a sneak peak--can any of you guess what it is? Those funky looking creatures are chickens, in case you're wondering!

Can you guess what design this is?

MAY WAS A HAPPY MONTH! In spite of coming down with the flu and feeling pretty wiped out after so many work and social obligations, there were many, many things that brought smiles :-)

My youngest son received his Master's Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. His job hunt looks promising, although he's hoping to put off the world of work until August as he has trips to China, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia planned this summer!

My dear mother turned 89 years old on May 14th... It's been a hard year for her with lots of  physical aches and pains, but just lately, she seems to be doing better. She is till so sharp--we play Words With Friends online each night (and she often beats me!). Thanks to all who ask after her health!

 After nearly two months, I was able to trade in my screaming blue Cookie Monster loaner car for my old soft blue/gray Honda CRV. I was SO happy to get it back--you know what I missed the most??  The arm rests! With new airbags in place, I should be good to go for another five years or so... We tend to keep our cars at least 10 or 12 years.

It's BLUEBERRY season! My favorite fruit! Breakfast each morning is Multi-Grain Cheerios with heaps of blueberries (and a couple of strawberries). I can't get enough of them! I've already made blueberry banana bread and a lovely pie. More blueberry baking will be coming!

My oldest son's girlfriend received her PhD in Biological Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University. We attended the graduation for the whole biology department (both undergrad and  grad programs) and were just in awe of all of the students' accomplishments...

My youngest son paid us an unexpected visit for a long weekend... In spite of the cool, rainy weather, we had a great time and I spoiled him with his favorite comfort foods. He just loved these enchiladas (which, interestingly, are from the food blog of designer Lizzie Kate's daughter!).

With my youngest son's surprise visit, we had all three sons here for a Sunday dinner for the first time since Christmas. Hearing them laugh and tease each other about childhood events and memories shared while growing up is one of this mom's very favorite things...

I finally got new glasses... I'm having a tough time getting used to the larger librarian-looking frame (well, I am a librarian, after all!), but I can read so, so much better with them. I wear contacts, too, but seem to be wearing my glasses more and more. Hope I get used to them soon!

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the National Hockey League Eastern Conference and are now playing the San Jose Sharks for the coveted Stanley Cup Championship. My hockey loving men are so excited! GO PENS!!

I made a new-to-me very pretty and oh-so-tasty dessert Lemon-Blueberry Cream Pie.   With a graham cracker crust and layers of cream-cheesy lemon goodness, blueberries and piles of whipped cream, a small slice went a long way!

And I've saved the best for last! May 21st marked a year since my dear husband fell down our front stairs and broke his neck. Just a couple of weeks ago, the feeling returned to normal in his middle finger on his right hand. Now, only one finger, the pointer, remains without normal feeling. We have confidence that that will come in time, too. We feel truly blessed... A huge thank you for your support--you made a scary and stressful time so much easier!

So, how about you? I hope you each had some happy times in May--and have more to look forward to as you head into summer... Any fun events coming up on your family calendars? I'd love to hear about them!

Thought you might like to see a photo of the Lemon-Blueberry Pie (you can find the recipe right here). Isn't it pretty? There are layers of lemon pudding with cream cheese and blueberries with blueberry preserves. I should have taken a photo of a cut piece so you could see the yellow and blue layers, but it disappeared way too quickly!

Lemon-Blueberry Cream Pie!!

Now that the sunny days have returned, our backyard is hopping (literally) with wildlife. We saw a mama deer and her new little fawn back by our pond just last week--so adorable (until they start munching on our newly purchased garden flowers, that is!). And there have been lots of bunnies like this big guy hopping here and there. Luckily, my husband's vegetable garden is fenced in and surrounded by chicken wired to prevent the bunnies and groundhogs from using it as their restaurant...

How he would love to get inside that gate...

More and more birds are appearing--in fact I spied this beautiful orange bird in the collage below that I've never seen before. Does anyone know what it is? I am thinking that it might be a Baltimore Oriole, but I'm not positive. He only appeared once, but I hope he'll be back.

A Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, and a new feathered friend
And just look at this handsome guy--a giant Pileated Woodpecker! It was so funny watching him try to feed from the small suet feeder.

The regal looking  Pileated Woodpecker

Think we need a bigger feeder!

That about does it for my last post of May! I'm wishing each of you a relaxing June. We have a calmer month scheduled (so far!), so I should be back with more stitching to share in a couple of weeks... Thanks so much for stopping in today! Bye for now...