Thursday, July 17, 2014

A summery finish

Hello! Hello! I hope each of you is enjoying your summer as much as I am. (Although at times I question if this really is summer--it was only 54° here this morning!). We just returned from a wonderful visit with our youngest son in Washington, DC and, although stitching seems to have taken a back seat for me this month, I am so enjoying the extra time spent with family that summer seems to bring. I did manage to finish a big (for me, anyway!) piece and framed a couple of older finishes that I'd like to share with you today. 

From the moment I saw the July Sampler chart by Prairie Schooler, I just had to have it. I think the colors were what first caught my eye, but it really has everything that makes summer so special: the quaint seaside scene with the lighthouse, sailboats, and long-legged seabirds (oh, and don't forget that adorable crab!), the juicy summer fruits, the patriotic fireworks and flags. And I always love the bottom borders on these PS monthly samplers, don't you?

Prairie Schooler "July Sampler"

For this piece, I used 40 ct. antique white Newcastle linen and most of the suggested DMC threads. I did make a few changes (as usual!): I changed the blue to DMC 311 and the dark brown to DMC 3031.  I also changed the grass in the main photo to a lighter DMC 3052, made the door on the large gold house, red, and stitched the door on the small house in the upper left, dark gray. I also made all the words brown except for July.  I think that's it... Oh, no! There's more:  I changed the white fireworks to gold so they would show up better and also filled in around the one bird with more "water."  I plan on framing this one--hopefully, by next summer, but I'm not the best at getting my larger things out of the drawer I put them in after I've finished stitching them.

But, surprise, surprise! I actually do have two framed pieces to show you today, too! The first is La D Da's "O Birdy" which I finished last November. If you'd like to read the details of my finish you can go to this post. I had this rustic looking black frame in my stash and thought it looked perfect with the primitive looking fabric. I have the fanciful framed bird perched on a bookshelf in my familyroom right now--not sure if he'll be staying there or not. I'm trying to find the perfect place to hang him.

 La D Da "O Birdy" framed

The other framed finish is one from last summer--another PS piece from Book No. 50 "Prairie Seasons." If you're interested in the details on this finish, you can read about them here. I used this same frame for the Spring and Autumn finishes in this series--all done now except the Winter design. And look at the bright summery flowers that are resting beside my finish--aren't they gorgeous? My husband is growing them for me inside his fenced in vegetable garden to keep them from being eaten by the deer.

Prairie Schooler Summer framed

"Grrr..." Unfortunately, something else other than the deer has discovered my husband's vegetable garden and just feasted and feasted while he was away on his biking trip out west earlier this month. Yep, it's our gang of "friendly" neighborhood groundhogs. Do you remember this photo of one that we had trapped a couple of years ago? Well, we should never have let his size or those pleading brown eyes fool us--he has "gone forth and multiplied" (many times!) because there is now a whole army of these giant rodents marching through our yard. They apparently crawled right up over the high wire fencing that surrounds the vegetable garden and their weight was heavy enough to bend it over so they could simply fall into the garden, get out their napkins and forks, and sit down to a tasty gourmet dinner. Dinners, plural, I should say, because all of the leaves of the sweet potatoes, beans, squash, parsnips, zucchini, and peas were absolutely devoured. My poor husband was so upset--all that hard work down the drain. We doubt that the vegetables will grow without leaves, but who knows... We may just end up with miniature everything this year!

Don't let that innocent looking face fool you!!

Luckily, we still have a few pretty flowers that neither the groundhogs or the deer or rabbits seem interested in...

 Masses of purple supertunias

 Our lone rose bush produced this yellow beauty!

 First time we've ever grown hollyhocks. 
Such beautiful flowers, but the leaves were 
all eaten by some sort of pest!

The ferns have just gone crazy with
the wet summer we've had!

And my perennial favorite--the beautiful blue hydrangea!

I want to share this yummy dessert recipe with you that I made for the 4th of July.  I saw it on the Balancing Beauty and Bedlam blog and immediately ran out to buy the needed ingredients. Although this recipe called for butterscotch pudding, I had to substitute chocolate. Oh, my--it was so decadent! Very rich and calorie-laden, I'm sure, but worth it! And although it tasted like it took ages to make, it was so quick and easy to prepare. I followed the recipe but added shaved chocolate and toasted pecans to the top to make it even tastier.  Give it a try for a special summer night's dessert and let me know what you think...

Easy Chocolate Torte

Our trip to Washington was so enjoyable, but very hot and humid, and, unfortunately, very tough on my Plantar Fasciitis heel pain problem. We did a lot of walking on hilly concrete streets as I had predicted, but let's just say, my 26 year-old-son's idea of a "short walk" is a bit different than that of myself or my husband who suffers from ongoing foot pain issues himself! Yikes!! I feel like I'm right back to where I started with the pain level over six weeks ago...The icing, stretching exercises, and general babying of my left foot have resumed.

We didn't really tour the monuments or most of the typical touristy things because we actually lived in the DC area for a year back in the late 1980s and also just visited the city in 2011 (you can see photos from that trip by clicking here). The only museum we visited this time was the wonderful National Museum of American History. We thoroughly enjoyed the "America at War" exhibition--so much to take in. I really could have spent the entire day just perusing that exhibit. The "America On the Move" exhibit which traced transportation in the U.S. from the Conestoga wagon to the electric car was quite enjoyable, too. I would have liked to have spent longer in the First Ladies exhibit, but just dashed in long enough to see Michelle Obama's gorgeous red inaugural gown. The guys really weren't quite into that whole exhibit, as you can imagine. And to see the 200 year-old flag (in the Star Spangled Banner exhibition) that inspired our wonderful national anthem and read about how the words to the song were written was truly awe inspiring. Did you know that the song itself was not written by Francis Scott Key? He simply wrote the poem and it was set to the music of a popular British tune called "To Anacreon In Heaven?" I was so surprised to learn that fact!

Courtyard at the National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History

Entrance to The Star-Spangled Banner Exhibit Hall

My husband and I had never taken a boat ride on the Potomac River so my son suggested we cruise from Georgetown down to Alexandria, Virginia for dinner on Saturday night. You get a whole different perspective of the monuments when you view them from the water. I can't remember the last time I was on a boat and it was surprisingly relaxing with the warm sun on my face and the breeze in my hair--ahhh....

Georgetown Dock area

Potomac River view of the Washington 
Monument and The Lincoln Memorial

A perfect summer scene

I'll have to say we all loved Old Town Alexandria and wished we could have spent more time there. My son thought it would be a great place to live until he checked real estate prices there--I think they're some of the highest in the country!

Old Town Alexandria all decked
out for the 4th of July

Street sign for Captain's Row in Alexandria

Many of the houses on Captain's Row were 
built in the 18th century for sea captains and 
wealthy merchants. It was so picturesque with
the cobblestone street and Federal style homes
painted in patriotic colors.

I truly love the Washington, DC area and am a bit envious of those of you who reside in that part of the country. My youngest was doing his best to try and talk us into retiring there! You never know, do you?!

Thank you to all who commented on my last post--who knew a simple tin plate finish could get so many of you so excited! I'm glad I've inspired some of you to create your own plate finishes and have even received some photos from stitchers who have used that idea. I always love seeing photos of finishes from stitching friends who don't have their own blogs--feel free to email them to me! And I'm always happy to try to answer your questions--just be sure to leave an email address in your comment so I can get back to you.

I'm working my hardest to catch up on my monthly Christmas ornament stitching and I hope to be back by the end of July to share three new ornament finishes with you. Wish me luck! And wish me luck later today, too--I will be spending the afternoon cowering in the dentist's chair as he prepares a back molar for a new crown. I am, to put it mildly, a bit scared as I have never had more than a simple filling installed now and then. But, I suppose it's better than a root canal, right? Enjoy the rest of July everyone--can't wait to visit your blogs and see what you've been up to. Bye for now...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Red, White, and Blue

Another year is half-over! Can you believe it? Six months...six whole months of 2014 have already flown past. Unfortunately, our June has been quite rainy and just hasn't felt much like summer. I remember the Junes of my childhood being hot and dry and even smelling like summer--the freshly mown grass, the chlorine in the swimming pool, the delightful scent of mom's sweet peas wafting in as I walked through our back door. And how about the fragrance of those freshly laundered bed sheets dried on a clothesline in the back yard! Ahhh... I want a summer like that again! Of course, we all tend to glorify the "good old days" from time to time. There were also the bee stings, the sunburned cheeks, and the scraped knees from falling off bikes or roller-skates or swings, weren't there?

One thing that always says "summer" to me, though, is the 4th of July. Although I'm not a big fireworks fan, I do love the red, white, and blue fever that sweeps the country this time of year. I truly enjoy patriotic stitching--almost as much as I do stitching Christmas ornaments! This year, I'm adding four new finishes to my bowl of patriotic smalls. First up is one by a new-to-me designer, "Freedom Crow" by Primitive Stitchin'. I stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. Stormy Gray Jobelan and a variety of DMC and GAST threads. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly how I wanted to finish it off.

"Freedom Crow" design by Primitive Stitchin'

I had purchased these 4" round metal decorative hanging "things" (plates? discs?)  from a local craft store last winter with the intent of using them for Christmas ornament finishing. But, the size and shape of this finish was just perfect for a patriotic piece--especially with the cutout stars that surround the perimeter.

I simply finished it into a round 2-inch shape, glued it to the center, added some DMC 221 cording, made a new hanger out of some homespun, and voilà!

And here it is in its new home hanging from a wooden shelf by my kitchen door... I am so pleased with the way this one turned out and I'm happy to have found a new designer, too. I purchased the pattern through Pattern Mart, which made for an instant download!  It's a great way to buy charts when you don't want to wait for mail delivery--immediate gratification!

My next finish is a freebie from The Nebby Needle which you can find right here. If you look at the photo of the model you'll notice that mine looks very different because I stitched it on black. I used 28 ct. black Monaco and stitched it "over one" with GAST (Picket Fence and Wheat Fields), and WDW (Brick and Dungarees) threads. Don't you love those tiny American flags in each corner? Make sure to extend the border if you add little stars as I did...

The Nebby Needle "God Bless America" freebie

To finish it off, I made a flat ornament (without a hanger) while following Vonna's excellent tutorial. This cute American flag printed fabric and some handmade DMC 221 (I use that color more than any other, I think!) finished it off so well. How do you like it? Thanks so much to Bonny of The Nebby Needle for sharing her cute freebies with us!

This cute new freebie from The Stitcherhood just came out last week. You can find the chart here. This one stitched up very quickly--just a few hours... I used DMC 221, 311, and 680 (for the July 4 portion) on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle linen.

The Stitcherhood 4th of July freebie

The finish is a simple, little pillow using the colors of the design in the finishing fabrics. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful  Stitcherhood freebies, Maria! I know I'll be stitching more of them very soon...

And, finally, a teeny tiny finish that started off as something totally different. I found this very old chart called "Patriotic Stocking Stuffers" by Need'l Love and thought the Uncle Sam stocking would be a perfect addition to my patriotic bowl of finishes. Well, the problem is--I stitched it on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle which made it way, way too small to turn into a stocking as there was no way to turn it inside out once you had stitched it to the backing fabric! Hmm... what to do? Well, I simply eliminated all but the main motif, extended the border down both sides, repeated the top border, and added a bunch of smyrna stitches in the background for color.

A teeny Uncle Sam finish

He is very tiny--just an inch wide by 2 1/2 inches long so I added fabric, blue mini ric-rac, and a fabric yo-yo topped off with a star to beef him up a bit. He is backed by the gold and burgundy star fabric shown in the background. I love the final look of the little pillow so much!

And here is a photo of all four of my new patriotic creations. Which one is your favorite? I have to vote for the Freedom Crow, but the teeny Uncle Sam is a close second!

My bowl of red, white, and blue finishes is starting to overflow so I have moved a few of them to other places in my home. But, here you can see all of them in one photo...

All of these were stitched and finished over the past five years. Can you believe that before I began my blog in 2009, I didn't have a single patriotic finish? I love them so much and wish I could keep them on display even longer, but the fact that they are seasonal makes them that much more special when I bring them out each summer. Here is one last picture that you should be able to click to make larger so you can see them better.

I received a special package from my blogging friend, Robin (no blog yet!), who wanted to thank me for sharing an old PS chart with her. I was so touched by her generosity and told her nothing at all is expected when I lend a chart or send a Random Act of Kindness to someone... Truly! But, her gifts were so wonderful, I wanted to share them with you here. She sent a beautiful chart, a lovely blue stitching pocket which included a packet of needles and a new pair of scissors, and a cute ort container. Didn't she spoil me? Thank you so much, Robin--I am thrilled with my goodies!

Gifts from Robin

Blueberry baking is still going on here and last week I made some wonderful Blueberry Banana Bread. Oh, it was really tasty--so moist and delicious. And, it freezes well--always a plus in my book! I know some of you told me you made the Blueberry Buckle from my last post--did you enjoy it?

Blueberry Banana Bread

I really appreciate all the well-wishes for my heel problems that I mentioned in my last post. The Plantar Fasciitis keeps acting up, but it is not unbearable. I'll have a really good day here and there, a really painful day now and then, and in between it is just bothersome. I'm really babying it and have tried to incorporate other exercises into my workout routine rather than the treadmill. I've been riding the exercise bike a bit and lifting my light weights which I'm actually enjoying. The strange thing is that even with the drop-off in my treadmill routine, I've actually lost a pound--strange, eh? I think it is because I'm just not as hungry these days. Either that or I'm losing muscle weight?

Anyway, I am just hoping my foot will be all better before we go to visit our youngest son in Washington, DC next week. For any of you who have been there, you know what a lot of walking is involved! I'm hoping to talk him into spending a day in Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. Have any of you ever been there? Any advice as to what to do or see, places to eat, etc? I'd really appreciate your thoughts!

Well, my friends, I hope you've enjoyed this red-white-and-blue post. I doubt that it holds much interest for those of you outside the United States, but I thank you for bearing with me. Do any of you have special plans for the long weekend? My husband will be returning from a 400+ mile bike ride in Montana and Canada on the 4th of July so I'll be planning a nice picnic with a tasty dessert for his homecoming. And then this weekend we hope to head up to Ohio for a pool party with my brother-in-law and his family assuming the weather cooperates. I hope your holiday is fun and relaxing--be careful around those fireworks!

Thanks for stopping by and for your always welcome and appreciated comments! Bye for now...

I wish all of my U.S. friends
 a happy and safe 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Farewell to Spring...

And a hearty "Good Morning" to you my stitching friends! Can you believe we have reached the very last week of Spring? And a chilly spring it's been--I'm a bit tired of wearing sweaters or my fuzzy bathrobe each morning when I get up. Why, we even had to turn our heat on again last week for a couple of mornings--I don't ever remember having to do that in June. But, with summer arriving on Saturday, June 21st at precisely 6:51 A.M, I'm confident that we'll have many more of those warm, lazy sunshine filled days that we all look forward to. Today it's supposed to reach 91° here in western Pennsylvania with an equally high humidity. I can take the heat, it's the humidity which really wears me out.

With this still being spring, though, I do have a few final spring finishes to share with you. But, first of all I want to thank you all so very much for the kind comments on my last post and your heartfelt congratulations on the magazine article. You are all such wonderful and supportive friends! I want to send a special thank you to Sherri from Maryland who bought not one, but two copies of the magazine and sent me one so I could have my very own copy... Sherri, that was so thoughtful of you and I know I'll enjoy sharing it with my family and friends. Thank you so much!

Well, enough of my babbling--you're here to see a few finishes, right? I actually stitched all three of these spring designs back in April, but am just now getting around to finishing them. First up is the Spring portion of the "Four Seasons Band Sampler" featured in the March/April 2011 issue of "Just Cross Stitch Magazine." When I saw the main colors were blue and golden yellow I just knew I had to stitch it. (And the fact that it had two bunnies didn't hurt either!)

Of course, I had to change a couple of the colors to work better with the 40 ct. flax Newcastle fabric that I chose. I used DMC 3790 on the bunnies and 3052 on the leaves. I also added the word "SPRING" (from this free alphabet) to the top of the design since my goal is to create a bowl of Spring finishes in the future. This one is finished off with the solid blue fabric (from a cloth napkin) and a pretty blue ruched satin ribbon. I love the dimension the eyelet stitches in the butterflies wings and the satin stitched flowers add to this design.

Next up is a little freebie from Cosmic Handmade called "Carrot Patch" which you can find right here. I've had this chart in my stash forever it seems and thought it was high time I stitched it. This one is done over one on 28 ct. cream Cashel Linen using the following DMC threads:  3776, 3052, 3053, 712, 676, and 3790. I gave the bunny a tail full of colonial knots and accented the pale green polka-dot finish with a little fabric yo-yo. What do you think?

Carrot Patch freebie

And finally, a finish you've seen on my blog many times, but since I've given them all away--I'm finally keeping this one for myself--hooray!! You'll all recognize this old spring freebie from Prairie Schooler. It is stitched on 32 ct. antique white Lugana with the suggested DMC threads. After having stitched this one at least five times, I do believe I could do it my sleep, but I love it so much, I never get tired of stitching it...  That pretty sage green fabric in the background is used on the reverse side along with the handmade cording to finish it off... I imagine I'll be making this one again and using it in another giveaway some day!

Prairie Schooler "S Is For Spring"

Here are all three together--a nice start to a bowl full of spring finishes, wouldn't you say?

A trio of Spring finishes

My dear friend, June, in England, had a birthday last week so I wanted to make her a gift in honor of her special day. As many of you know, June loves to garden so I thought this charming umbrella-toting bunny admiring his beautiful spring posies would be perfect for her. This is just the bottom third of "Spring Sampler" (Prairie Schooler's Book No. 60) and is stitched on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads (although I changed the bunny to DMC 611). June seemed to love her gift and I hope she thinks of me each time she sees it!

Prairie Schooler gift for June

And, just look at what I received all the way from The Netherlands... Sweet Annette sent me some darling crocheted pieces to add to my monthly bowl display. For my bowl of April's rabbit finishes, she created a tiny white bunny with a little blue nose, and for my bowl of sunflower finishes (which I decorate with each August), she made a trio of beautifully crocheted sunflowers. Included in her package were six bars of genuine Dutch chocolate--yum!! Only three are left, Annette--it was delicious! Thank you so much, my friend--your RAK gifts were such a treat and I have so enjoyed getting to know you through your happy, up-beat posts!

RAK from Annette!

And, because it's June--you know what that means?! It's BLUEBERRY TIME!!! I love all summer fruits, but especially blueberries. I put them on my multi-grain Cheerios each morning, make desserts, breads and muffins with them, and even freeze them to use throughout the year. They make me smile :) 

As a little treat I found this tasty recipe for Blueberry Buckle which I made last week. It sure didn't last long even with just two of us in the house. I found myself eating it for breakfast, as a mid-afternoon snack, and as a semi-healthy dessert! Very easy to make and it was one of those dishes that tasted even better on the second day.

Dessert anyone?

Unfortunately, desserts like this are the last thing I should be eating because my normal 3-mile a day walking routine has been interrupted. Yes, I have developed Plantar Fasciitis in my left heel. It was my own fault--I wore some out worn-out sneakers when I took a long walk last month and the next morning I could barely hobble out of bed. It is slowly getting better and I've been good about doing my at-home exercises, but, boy, is it bothersome. Have any of you every had it? Mine isn't bad enough to have to wear a night-splint on the foot--yet, anyway--and I'm trying to keep it that way! Moral of the story--wear good-quality sneakers (tennis shoes, whatever you call them!) and change them after every three to six months depending on how often you walk or run. I should probably have been buying new ones after four or five months, but I think I've had this old pair for two years! Bad, bad Carol!! Needless to say, I have now bought a new pair of walking shoes and plan on replacing them at least by year's end...

Although it's been a cool spring here, our lavender and white  clematis bush was the best it's ever been. My middle son gave it to me for Mother's Day a few years back and it's grown and bloomed so beautifully ever since. We lost both of our other clematis bushes to the frigid winter so I'm thrilled that this beauty survived.

Thank you all for stopping by today--I know what a busy time of year this is so I appreciate your visit and your kind comments all the more! Hope you have a delightful start to your summer on Saturday and I'll be back with some patriotic stitching soon... Bye for now...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Such a Perfect Day

Good morning, my blogging buddies--hope you're enjoying a perfect day, today! We had a string of perfect days, weather-wise, over the Memorial Day weekend. I can't remember a more lovely trio of sunny, warm, non-humid days--just wonderful. Of course no day is truly perfect, is it? There are those minor annoyances that invade everyone's days--for instance yesterday a crazy, deranged fly just kept attacking me repeatedly in my bedroom. Honestly, he would just fly and buzz at me over and over again. Definitely a weird experience! And then there are the oh-so-sore muscles that I'm dealing with today after a weekend of gardening (and here I thought I was in relatively good shape--ha!). No, no day is perfect, but there are definitely some days that are more perfect than others. And I was lucky enough to have one of those days last week.

My two local stitching friends, Lee and Linda, and I met at Lee's house on Friday for a wonderful day of stitching, chatting, and eating. I wanted to give them each a little something to tell them how I feel each day when I'm lucky enough to spend time with them so I stitched up this little freebie from the e-sub rosa blog called "Such A Perfect Day." This is worked on 28 ct. taupe cashel linen, over one, with the suggested threads (I found that the symbols on the chart didn't match the symbols in the key, but you'll be able to figure them out since Esther provides a colored chart, too).

Such a Perfect Day freebie

Isn't this a darling design? It makes a perfect gift for someone's special day, doesn't it? I mean it has all of the things that, for me anyway, make up a perfect day: a cozy home, singing birds, pretty flowers, and stitching supplies. Oh, and don't forget the picket fence! I used the fabric shown in the background to back my finishes and edged it with a blue handmade cording accented with those cute spools. Lee and Linda both seemed to like my gifts and I hope there will be many more "perfect days" in our future...

Another little finish I want to share with you was sent to my friend, Robin (no blog), as a birthday gift. She happens to share a birthday with my mom so how could I ever forget her special day? This is one I've stitched before for my May bowl of flower finishes back in 2012 (which you can see here).  I used the same overdyed colors and 40 ct. white Newcastle linen as in that finish, but I made it into a little pillow. Isn't this a cheery, little piece? It is so representative of the flowers that burst forth in bloom each May and I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate Robin's birthday...

Bent Creek: "May Blooms"

And I have a lovely belated birthday gift to share with you from my stitching friend, Linda. She stitched a Blackbird Designs motif in my favorite colors and then sent it on to Miss Carolina Stitcher herself, Faye, to do the final finishing. Faye came up with this pretty table mat and it couldn't be more perfect for me. I've set it on my kitchen side table right below a blue and yellow framed print and it looks wonderful. Thank you so much, Linda for your wonderful birthday gift--I'm so pleased to own a Linda-stitched and a Faye-finished piece!

Birthday gift from Linda

A lovely honor... This is hard for me to write about as I don't like talking about myself, but several of you have emailed to congratulate me on the little article that appeared about me in the June 2014 issue of the British magazine, Cross Stitch Collection so I thought I'd share it with all of you. A few months ago, a lovely lady named Rachael emailed from the magazine and asked if they could feature me and my blog in a brief article.  Since it was short and in Q&A format, I agreed, but requested that they not use my surname.  If you happen to pick up this issue of the magazine, take a peek at page five--there I am...

Rachael did a great job on the half-page article and it was quite a thrill to see some of my little pillows on display in the magazine. I love that they went with a "blue" theme, too.  I sent them a dozen photos of my creations and they selected the ones done in blues! I suppose it was to coordinate with the blue sweater that I'm wearing (taken on my 59th birthday back in January with the bouquet sent by my youngest son).  This may be the only time you'll see a photo of me on my blog so take a good look--ha ha!

I'm not one who loves the spotlight so this was a bit "out of my comfort zone," but I'm hoping that other shy stitchers will be inspired to take the plunge and create their own blogs. I explained in the interview how the experience of blogging has opened up a whole new world for me. I have to say it was a bit odd seeing my face staring back at me and being called a "stitching star," but I love the part in red that mentions my "uplifting posts." I really do try to be positive on my blog; everything is certainly not perfect in my life nor in anyone else's, but there is so much sad and bad news in the world, I like to keep things light and happy on my blog when I can...

My final statement in the article says it all: "I think the online cross stitching blogging community is very close and caring. They really are the kindest and most generous group of people I know!" You truly are and I thank you...

So, there you have it--the end of another post. I'm working on a larger, patriotic piece right now and hope to share that with you soon. It all depends on how much stitching time I get and it does seem like I have fewer hours to stitch in these warmer months--how about you? I hope you've enjoyed your visit today--thank you all so much for your kind comments on my last post and for the very helpful suggestions on teaching my niece's triplets to cross stitch. I'll let you know how it goes!  Bye for now...