Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Loving Memory...

Our "long goodbye" is over.. My dear father passed away on October 31, 2014 at the age of 87 years, two months, and five days. Born in a small town in western New York, he was the third of four children whose parents were the town doctor and a former schoolteacher. A "blessed" baby according to the caption written on the back of this photo by his mother that pictures him at just nine weeks old.

Dad in November 1927: nine weeks old

You would never know it from looking at this angelic looking boy, but Dad was quite an impish child--very energetic, hard to make sit still. I'm sure he and his buddies roamed the streets of his small town cooking up all sorts of mischief!

Dad at age 8 or 9 in the mid-1930s

And he was a bit of a rebel, too. The first time my mom met him in high school she thought he was cocky and a bit full of himself... And I'm sure he was--he was a handsome football star, president of his class, and class salutatorian. Mom and Dad dated a bit, but before too long, went their separate ways and off to colleges far, far apart.

 Dad in 1945--age 18

After a few years, however, they met up again and this time, my mom saw him differently--she saw the hardworking, determined young man he had grown into. I think his time in the Army probably had a lot to do with that along with his decision to attend medical school and become a doctor like his father.

1946--Home on leave from the Army

Dad and mom were married in the summer of 1953 in my mother's nearby New York hometown, and honeymooned in Maine.  Little did they know then that their union would produce four children and nine grandchildren!

Reading a congratulations telegram before 
setting off on their honeymoon--July 1953

What can you say about a man who could fix just about anything? From a broken toy to a broken car to a broken body. My father was a surgeon (on the right in the photo below) and, through the years, saved countless lives and made even more lives easier by "fixing" ailing bodies. I was always so proud and amazed by his profession. Me, who can't stand the sight, or even the thought, of blood, had a dad who went into that operating room each and every day and mended tears, removed diseased organs, and installed pacemakers to extend lives. Yes, I was constantly in awe of his intelligence and self-assured manner.

Steady hands
I don't have a lot of memories of Dad "doing stuff" with us kids. That can be attributed to not only his demanding profession but also, simply, to what being a father was like back in the 1950s and 60s. But, I do know that his family meant more to him than anything. My mother said he absolutely doted on me being the first child and that when I was born he insisted on waking me up and playing with me when he returned home way after I'd been put to bed for the night. I'll bet this was one of those nights!
Me at nine weeks with my proud papa

I remember the giant snow storms we used to get in Buffalo, New York when I was growing up in the late 1950s. My dad used to pile the snow right up the front stairs of our apartment to make a small sled run for me and my brother (much to the landlady's dismay!)
Buffalo, NY winter 1959

Another vivid memory happened in high school when a  friend and I had sewn these soft pastel colored dresses with little puffy sleeves and empire waists--very sweet and very much the style of the early 70s. Mine was the palest pink and hers was mint green. The first thing my dad said to me as I modeled the dress for him and mom was, "Carol, you look like a little girl in that dress!" Well, I immediately burst into tears and ran into the other room crying. I was 16 and the last thing I wanted to look like was a "little girl". He came rushing after me, enveloped me in a big bear hug, and said he was so, so sorry and that the last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt my feelings.

As the years passed, Dad and Mom were blessed with nine grandchildren and, oh, how Dad (and Mom!) loved each and every one.  His round face simply lit up each time he saw one of them. He was quite overweight when they were babies and he loved just letting them sleep peacefully on that pillowy stomach of his. Below are my three sons back in 1988 when the youngest was just a few weeks old and sound asleep, thumb in his mouth, on Dad's big tummy. All nine of his grandchildren rested there at one time or another...

 He just lit up each time he saw his grandchildren!

Dad actually did more "stuff" with his grandchildren than he did with his four children because he had more of that elusive thing called "time." He'd take them for long rides in his ancient car (Big Blue), walk with them up to the railroad tracks to squish pennies under the wheels of trains that passed by, and take them up to his "club" (just a cottage really where the local men gathered on Monday evenings for steak, beer, and card-playing) to gather jugs of the fresh spring water. And they loved him back--no one could get them laughing harder than their Papa could! They brought such joy to his life and he to theirs.

Dad worked very hard until his retirement at age 62 in 1989 and then he and mom spent 7 months of each year relaxing in the Florida sunshine. Those were such good years for them... carefree days of setting their own schedules, walking the beach, and marveling at the sunsets each evening from their oceanfront balcony.

Daytona Beach, Florida sunset

Mom is so thankful that they had those years together because within 15 or 20 years, Dad began to change. He became unsure of himself and a bit paranoid. He stopped reading books and doing his daily crossword puzzle. He began to have trouble with simple math. He developed an almost "vacant" look in his eyes. And then four years ago, the hallucinations began and we finally had a diagnosis:  Lewy Body Dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's.

 Dad being inducted into his
 high school "Hall of Fame" 2009

It wasn't long before mom knew she couldn't keep caring for him on her own in Florida and so they moved back to New York State year-round to be nearer family. As the next year passed, he became more and more unpredictable--his hallucinations increased. They would often involve water (a river running down the hallway or a glass spilling over with liquid), animals romping across the balcony, or small children hiding under the bed. Nothing scary, thank goodness... But, he was recognizing fewer and fewer people and having more and more trouble putting words together. And then the wandering began and we knew the time had come to move him into a dementia facility in early 2013. The day we moved him was probably one of the hardest of all our lives... for the first time in so, so many years, Dad was living apart from Mom. For the next 20 months he spent his life within the walls of dementia units with others suffering the same or even worse fates.

Christmas 2012

The last time I saw Dad awake was in early October when my two sisters and I went over to see him. Thankfully, he was in a good mood--almost playful. He didn't make much sense when he talked, but he seemed content and happy to see us. All of a sudden at one point in our "conversation," he grabbed my hands, started rubbing them, looked into my eyes with a hint of recognition, and exclaimed, "You little sweetheart, you--I love you so much!" My eyes welled up with tears and I felt that I had just been given the greatest gift in the world. I doubt that he even knew who I was, but just to hear those words from him again, meant so very much.  It was the last time I would ever see those warm, brown eyes of his...

The funeral on November 4th brought many tales from relatives, old neighbors, and former teachers of how he stitched them up "on the kitchen table" or saved someone's life. And even more stories of how he was always so kind to everyone in town, regardless of their race, religion, profession, or status in life. For Dad it was always an even playing field... This is the biggest lesson I learned from him--always be kind and treat others as you hope others will treat you. It was so wonderful to see the many people gathered to remember and celebrate  his life. That is life in a small town--everyone knows everyone else and there is a sense of community not often seen in city life or in the suburbs. 

One last ride... When the funeral ended we took dad on one last ride through the quiet streets of his beloved hometown--the town where he had spent nearly his entire life... The hearse led the way down Main Street where he had ridden his bike and shopped for penny candy with childhood buddies. It passed the street where he grew up and maintained his medical office in a house located right next to the very library that inspired me, his oldest daughter, to become a librarian.

On past the stately brown Presbyterian church where he had sung carols each Christmas Eve and given me away in marriage on a warm, sunny July day 37 years ago.

The procession made a right turn and crept to a halt in front of the wonderful white house where he and mom raised their four children and spent 52 of their 61 wedded years. The house was a constant work in progress for dad--he was always tinkering away in the barn or basement to fix this or that. And there was that wonderful wrap-around porch where the family would gather to observe parades on Memorial Day or to simply sit in cozy wicker chairs and watch the world go by...


Heading up the street, the funeral procession passed over the railroad tracks where he and his grandchildren had placed pennies and waited for them to be squished flat by oncoming trains. I still recall the joyous voices of my sons as they raced down the street to show me what had become of the pennies that Dad patiently helped them search for after the train had flattened them.

Another right turn and then a left  took the procession past Dodge Creek where dad, as a boy, surely spent many hours happily wading in the knee-deep water and attempting to catch slippery minnows in his small hands. That same shallow creek swelled to a raging river and flooded his hometown twice in his lifetime.

And then, a final left turn up the curving hill and into the most peaceful and beautiful cemetery that I know... Dad's final resting place. My father now lies in rest overlooking the town that meant so much to him...with those beautiful hills in the distance, surrounded by tall trees and crisp autumn air. His mind is now whole again, free of the fog of dementia that imprisoned him for the past few years.

 Chestnut Hill Cemetery

We knew this day would come, and in some ways, we welcomed it. Dad is no longer struggling through the tangled web of dementia. He is free and at peace... He would have hated knowing how he was living the past five or so years--absolutely hated it. He was such a proud man and would have despaired at seeing himself just "existing" at a toddler-like level. And yet, I can't help but weep, and cry, and sometimes sob, for not only his loss, but for the way he lived these past few years. You see, Mom's and Dad's favorite quote, and the one they already have etched on their gravestone, is Robert Browning's "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be." How sad that they didn't get to realize that "best is yet to be" in their final years together.

At peace at last

My dad was a character in so many ways: a loving husband, son, brother, father, surgeon, rose gardener, sousaphone player, music lover, history lover, bread baker, pickle maker, avid reader, handyman, car tinkerer, limerick reciter. He loved to make people laugh and smile...

I know you've got a whole new audience to entertain now, Papa... And, oh, how that makes your oldest daughter smile!

Me and dad: Thanksgiving 2011

Goodbye my dear Papa...
 I'll miss you ever so much...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Miles, Moons, and Memories

Whew--it's been a while, hasn't it? I so appreciate the thoughtfulness of those of you who have emailed me to see if everything was okay. I'm happy to say that I'm just fine--I've just experienced one of the busiest months of my life! I am so looking forward to November even though it means preparing a Thanksgiving feast for 18--at least I'll be at home in my own bed each night!

My family and I put over 1500 miles on our car driving to and from our mini family reunion, my stitching retreat, and a family friend's wedding over the past four weeks. I drove to the first two events myself, but my husband drove to the wedding last weekend, thank goodness. I'll give you a recap of my journeys starting with the shortest trip first...

258 miles round trip ~ Destination: Our 5th annual stitching retreat! It's hard to believe that Barb, Lee, Linda, Pam, and I have now been meeting up for 5 straight years at The Grape Arbor Bed and Breakfast! Three wonderful days of stitching, chatting, laughing, and way-too-much eating. Honestly, those breakfasts could feed a couple of hungry football players, but, oh, were they tasty. As has been tradition, we decided to give each other a little something to remember our annual retreat. There are no rules--it doesn't have to be a stitched gift or even a homemade gift--just something that will remind us of each other.  

This year, I stitched them each a Drawn Thread design called "Full Moon." I just loved the design--it is perfect for fall without being too Halloweeny or "cutesy." I stitched the design on 40 ct. natural Newcastle using most of the specified Dinky Dyes silks. I did change the tails on the bats--shortened them up a bit. The spider's body is a wee black button--so cute!

I loved the black boxes that the designer used to finish her model so I immediately called the Silver Needle and they sent them to me in no time--great service! The finishing was so easy--I simply gathered and laced them into a round shape over a padded piece of round mounting board. Each one only took about half an hour to finish into the boxes (if only the stitching time was as quick!).  Here they are all finished up--aren't they darling? Oh, but wait, there are five boxes, aren't there? Yes, the first one that I stitched (shown in the middle), I  made a mistake on the moon and rather than rip it all out, I decided to just make do and keep it for myself. I used a 32 ct. fabric for that one with two threads rather than the one thread for 40 ct. so it looks larger than the others. On that one you can see the longer bat tails, too, before I decided to shorten them. I should say bat "bodies," I guess--bats don't really have tails after all, do they!?

The Drawn Thread's "Full Moon" boxes

Everyone seemed very pleased with the black velvet-lined boxes (which I filled with Godiva chocolates!) and I love knowing my friends will be able to display them each fall for years to come. So what goodies did I receive from my friends at our retreat? Well, just take a look...

Pam went with a cookie-themed gift for us so, of course, I loved it! She stitched a darling peanut butter kiss cookie ornament, added some homemade cookies (which were eaten by the time I took the photo), included some Hershey kisses and a darling pot holder, and even made her own vanilla extract!! I never even knew you could make your own, but I know I'll be trying it out on the dozens of cookies I'll be baking for Thanksgiving.  Thanks so much, Pam!

Lee made us each a little paper pieced pincushion in fall colors. Isn't it cute? She also included a pretty notepad with a "grape" theme since we call ourselves the Grape Arbor Stitchers and a bag of candy. Hmmm... I'm sensing a candy theme here! Yes, we do love our sweets... Thank you so much, Lee!

Barb included some overdyed threads, a new kitchen towel, some lovely smelling Ginger Peach hand lotion, and, yes, more chocolate candy in her gift bag. I just love the colors of thread she chose for us--Jack O'Lantern and Buckeye Scarlet because she hails from Ohio, the Buckeye State. Thanks so much, Barb!

Linda spoiled us by gifting each of us with one of Faye's handmade project rolls. I'm sure you can imagine the "oohs" and "ahs" as we each unwrapped our very own beautifully made project roll in colors specially chosen by Linda. She knows me well as she requested blues and yellows for me and this is what I received--just perfect!! I adore this fabric and know I'll be putting this to good use when I stitch a larger piece.Thank you so much, Linda!

582 miles roundtrip ~ Destination: My mini family reunion in the Finger Lakes area of New York State! Sixteen of us gathered in early October together to laugh, feast, and share our memories from long ago. My 89 year old uncle flew in from Wisconsin and it truly touched me to see him and his little sister (my 87 year old mom) reminiscing and smiling together. I saw a cousin whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years (since our grandmother died) and got to meet her husband and son for the first time ever! My uncle is saying that this will be his last trip east, but we sincerely hope not. He is still so "young at heart" and full of vitality that we hope there may just be another reunion next fall...

While there, I stumbled upon this lovely display of quilts in my mother's senior living building. They have a special room for displays of collections from the residents or from outside groups. October's display just happened to be quilts from a Canandaigua, NY quilting group... Aren't they beautiful? I know many of you also quilt and I truly hope to learn to myself when I retire so I thought you might enjoy these photos.

And here is a collage of some of my favorites (you can click the photo for a closer look)... I especially liked the one one in the lower left corner. The woven fabric basket had a 3-D effect and was filled with Spanish moss and the appliqued flowers were "growing" out of it--so striking!

My sister, cousin, and I visited a couple of local antiques shops while in New York and I spotted this cute little box made of rulers. I seriously doubt if it's an antique, but I just had to have it--and for $5.00 I thought the price was right. 

 At first I thought I would use it to store buttons or charms, but then look what I decided on... my sewing bobbins! I think this would be something you could easily make yourself, don't you?

720 miles roundtrip ~ Destination: A special family friend's wedding in Indiana. And where was the wedding of my best friend's youngest son held? Why, in one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the United States: the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. I was only able to capture a few images to share with you, but I think you'll see for yourself how breathtaking it was. Of course, I teared up as the bride walked down the aisle. Do you cry at weddings? I always do--the bride and groom are so full of hope and so in love on their special day. The weather couldn't have been more perfect with a brilliant blue, cloudless sky, filled with good-luck lady bugs on a surprisingly warm end-of-October day. What a great start to married life!

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame

COOKIES, COOKIES, COOKIES!  I was so happy to see that the groom's family had brought the southwestern Pennsylvania tradition of the "cookie table" to this Indiana wedding. You can click here and here to read more about the wonderful cookie table tradition. I had never heard of a cookie table before I moved to Pennsylvania from New York State 37 years ago, but I just love the idea. The families of the bride and groom lay out long tables of home-baked cookies  for guests to not only partake of at the wedding, but also to take home by the dozen in boxes or bags. Just look at all the work that went into the cookie table at the wedding... The long tables were piled high with every type of cookie you could imagine so, of course, I had to take samples of each one! This is not the main dessert, there is still a wedding cake, but I so love the cookie table tradition. Do any of you have these at weddings in your locales? I know if I'm ever lucky enough to be a mother of the groom, I'll be crossing my fingers that a cookie table will be a part of the wedding reception...

Cookies galore--which would you choose?

A Halloween Finish: One thing that was good about the miles we spent driving to and from Indiana--I managed to stitch a little Halloween piece. This is from Mary Gary's Sewing Cabin's "Seasonal Mementos" leaflet. I've been wanting this chart for so, so long, and finally snagged it on Ebay for $5.50 last month. The little witch is stitched on 32 ct. bay leaf Belfast linen using the suggested colors. I had to change the alphabet around a bit as I stitched the large pumpkin in the wrong place, but it looks fine to me... I hope to finish this into a little pillow or hanging ornament this weekend. I just love the little witch (she is a good witch--I made sure to put a smile on her face :)

 Mary Gary's Sewing Room "Seasonal Memories" witch

I'll leave you with this vintage Halloween photo from circa 1964. I'm guessing I'm about 9 years old and dressed as a gypsy and my little brother is a gorilla. It looks like a cold, cold Halloween night as I'm padded from head to toe with warmer clothes underneath my costume (I didn't go through my "chubby phase" until a couple of years later!). Do you remember those horrid plastic masks? Ugh! How sweaty and smelly they got by night's end... And notice the "witch" Barbie complete with black mask and pointy hat that my mom made for me standing between the two pumpkins. It's all those little things that moms do that we don't truly appreciate until we're older. Thank you, mom--you were, and are, the best!

 Halloween circa 1964

Unfortunately, we're supposed to have an equally chilly, rainy night here for Halloween trick-or-treating--a shame as we've had such a lovely autumn up to now. But, I so look forward to seeing the neighborhood kids and their parents as they stop by at our front door to collect their goodies.  Happy Halloween!! Bye for now...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three small finishes

Hello, my friends! How was your September? I know it's a short month, but it seemed to whiz by faster than ever, didn't it? I can't even begin to tell you how absolutely perfect the weather has been for us here in western Pennsylvania since my last post two weeks ago... Sunshine, mid-70s, no humidity, cool nights--honestly, if I could find an area of the United States that offers that kind of weather day in and day out, I'd seriously consider moving. And you know what I've found? Everyone seems happier--everyone has a smile on their faces or a kind word to offer. Just yesterday a woman came over to me at the library's Reference Desk as I worked and whispered, "I just love this place." I smiled back at her and agreed, "I do, too!" And  last week, I had a patron tell me how nicely I interacted with other patrons. Neither of these people had to do that--they just wanted to pass along a compliment. Working with the public, I do try to go out of my way to be kind and patient with others who also work with the public: store clerks, waitresses, receptionists. Working with the public is tough--you just never know who you're going to be dealing with, but I've come to learn that you get back what you give and a smile and a kind word go a long, long way...

I've been catching up on my monthly ornament stitching lately and have two new Christmas finishes to share with you today. Surprise, surprise--they are both Prairie Schoolers! First up is a piece stitched from the  Prairie Schooler Mini-Card Collection E which comes with a variety of ten miniature Halloween, Christmas, and Easter designs. At a dollar a design (or less!), I think these little PS Mini-Card Collections are a great deal. This Santa is stitched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco. Doesn't he look like he's popping up out of the woods to try to scare someone. When I showed the finish to my husband, he asked, "What is  C X?" Ha-ha!! Well, I guess it does look a bit like those letters at the top of the piece, but I explained to him that those are supposed to be the moon and a large snowflake...

To finish him off into my September ornament, I used this fun black and red polka dot fabric and white cording and ric-rak. I thought the fabric fit particularly well with the whimsical nature of the design. What do you think? I did make a few color changes--made all the snowflakes, the moon, and Santa's mittens white, along with the lettering.

My October ornament is a more traditional Prairie Schooler Santa from book No. 48 "A Christmas Visit." This one is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle using the suggested DMC threads. The only change I made was to the teddy bear (my middle son says it looks like some sort of gremlin!) in the bag that he's carrying. I didn't stitch complete x's for his eyes and mouth--just small straight stitches. The ornament is backed with the pretty olive green and burgundy fabric shown on the right. The colors really pick up those of Santa's robe.

A more traditional stitching needs a more traditional finish so I simply added cording and a small gingham ribbon to this one. I'm very pleased with it...

Here is a closer look for you... I dream of stitching every single Prairie Schooler Santa some day. Do you think I can do it?

It's hard to believe I have only two ornaments left to stitch and finish to complete my monthly goal for 2014. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing them displayed on my Christmas tree in December!

I have one other thing to share with you today and that is a little RAK that I recently sent to my sweet friend, Annette, in The Netherlands. I really enjoy reading Annette's blog and seeing photos of her darling children--she is just so upbeat and lively! Her blog always makes me smile so I decided to stitch a little freebie from the Gazette 94 blog which you can find right here. I loved the border so much on this one with the  tiny fish, ice cream cones, kites, and beach huts--adorable!

This is actually stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle, but the above photo certainly doesn't show the true color! Below is a much better photo and you can see that I added some blue cording and a small seashell to the pillow to finish it off. Annette really loved it and I was so happy to hear that the gifts I sent to her children were also well-received.

I just noticed yesterday how much the leaves are beginning to change--all the glorious reds, oranges, and golds are beginning to paint a lovely canvas in these Pennsylvania hills. I've heard that the autumn foliage is supposed to be especially pretty this year due to our cooler than normal summer. (At least there was something good about that summer)! Our local turkey family happened to pass through the yard last week and I managed to get a quick photo--just look at how much the little ones are growing!

Here are the little guys back in July... Unfortunately, I only saw six baby ones and there were seven before. Poor little thing... I wonder what happened to him? I sure hope the family has a plan to go into hiding as Thanksgiving draws closer!

This deer decided to check out our patio and the new white bench we just added. I think he likes it; he looks quite "at home" standing right outside our kitchen door, doesn't he?

Well, I think this may be the shortest post I've written in a while--maybe more of you actually made it all the way through this one!  I know I tend to go on and on at times when all most of you are here for is to see my finishes, but I really enjoy sharing a bit of my world with you, too. Welcome to all my new followers and, as always, big thanks to those of you who take the time to leave me those wonderful comments--I so appreciate each and every one. 

I hope each of you has a lovely October--it's going to be a busy one for me with a mini family reunion in NY, a stitching retreat in Erie, and my best friend's son's wedding in Indiana. But, today I am off to the dermatologist to have her check out a very itchy spider bite that I got on my chest this weekend--it's always something with me and my weird medical issues lately, that's for sure... I may be a bit out-of-touch this month, but I'll do my best to visit your blogs and say "hello."  Bye for now...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Autumn creeps in...

Good morning, everyone! Can you believe September is half over? It certainly feels like autumn has arrived here in western Pennsylvania--I actually had to break down and turn on the heat yesterday as it was a frigid 40° when I woke up. Does anyone else feel ready for the cooler weather and then the inevitability of winter? Not me--after a cool, rainy summer, it just doesn't seem quite right! With fall comes more work for me as we are open once again on Sundays as well as Saturdays at the library and, this month, I somehow ended up working three of those weekend days. And you know what that translates into--less stitching time. 

As the days get shorter and the air crisps up,  my mind naturally turns to fall stitching--acorns, pumpkins, leaves, and all of those wonderfully muted colors that bring autumn to mind. I have a couple of new finishes to share today which I truly relished working on. First, is this Homespun Elegance design from an older chart called "Birds and Bees." I used the suggested DMC colors and stitched this one on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle. And surprise, surprise--see that sunflower center? It is filled with French knots--I did it!! I have always struggled with them, but they turned out so well this time--not sure what I was doing differently. The outside petals are simply long, yellow stitches and there are more French knots in the small yellow flowers, too. I have never seen such a tiny bird looking up at the giant crow (or is it an insect of some sort?). Anyway, I had a cute bee charm (is there such thing as a cute bee?) which I attached, too, and I'm very pleased with the overall look of the finish.

After digging through my drawers of fabrics, I found the perfect ones to finish this piece off. I really love the colors in this little pillow--perfect for a fall finish, don't you think?

Homespun Elegance "Birds & Bees" finish

So, I have a nice new addition to my crow themed display on my kitchen sideboard. I took this photo in a rare moment of morning sunshine which streamed through our window yesterday.

Crows have invaded my kitchen!

Does anyone notice another new addition to my crow display? Well, just look at this cute painted wooden bowl that I found earlier this summer. Isn't it perfect?! I was so excited--and it was a mere $3.99! It is small and only holds three of my little finishes, but it adds such a nice touch to the display (which my sons hate, by the way: "Crows??? Come on, mom!"). Oh well, each to his/her own--right?

My second finish was sent to my long-time blogging friend, Myra, for her upcoming birthday. I know she loves fall, so I thought this old Prairie Schooler design would be perfect for her. The "Crow and Pumpkin" design is from the PS "Acorns" booklet No. 65 and was stitched over one on 28 ct. summer khaki cashel linen with the suggested DMC threads. I did add more winding vines along the side to turn it into more of a round shape for the final finish.

To finish it off, I used one of the metal plates that I used for the patriotic piece that I showed you in this post, except this time I used a gold one. I just love how it turned out and Myra seemed very happy with it as well! I think I may have to stitch a second one of these for myself. I wish you the happiest of birthdays, Myra, and a happy, healthy year ahead!

Here is another shot of the whole thing...

Prairie Schooler "Crow and Pumpkin" finish

I continue to pull out older stitched pieces from my "drawer of unfinished finishes" and finish them off one-at-a-time. Look what I found from 2009! This tiny "Tulip Sampler" designed by Rosewood Manor. It is very small--only 2¾ X 3½ inches and was once a freebie on the Rosewood Manor website, but isn't available any longer. (That is why I always advise printing off freebies as soon as you see them (or saving them to your computer) because designers don't keep them up on their websites forever). I backed it with the pretty blue and gold fabric shown behind it and love how well it coordinates with the colors in the design. A simple blue cording finishes it off. Yay--another older stitching is out of storage and on display!

Rosewood Manor "Tulip Sampler" finish

As you all know, I am a Prairie Schooler lover from way back--but of the older designs. If I want to totally de-stress and feel complete relaxation, all I need to do is pull out a Prairie Schooler piece and start stitching. The simple, yet comforting designs just slow me down and seem to take away my worries--for at least a little while. Well, I was lucky enough to win one of the older Prairie Schooler designs, "Garden Beasties" in a wonderful giveaway from a newer blogger, Frances, at A Symphony of Stitches. Isn't it cute--I can't wait to stitch the little beehive in the upper left corner. And sweet Frances included a lovely supply of seasonal fabrics as an extra surprise. She knows I'll be using them--they are one of my favorite things to receive even though I have acquired a wonderful stash of finishing fabrics through the years. You can never have too much fabric, can you? If you haven't discovered Frances's lovely blog yet--please stop in and say "hello!" And, Frances--thank you again for your wonderful giveaway. I'm thrilled to add to my PS collection!

Giveaway win from Frances

You all remember our great garden disaster earlier this year--when that roving gang of neighborhood groundhogs invaded and ate everything in sight? We've had little to no produce this year because of it--not even one single zucchini! I actually had to go purchase a zucchini to make this new recipe that I found online--I haven't purchased a zucchini in my entire life, I don't think! But, oh, what a great recipe this is--Zucchini Brownies. I made them when two of my sons came for Sunday dinner and they were a big hit. It seems like a very odd recipe--the batter seems very dry when you spread it in the pan because there are no eggs. I thought there was no way these would turn out because the batter seemed so dry! But, apparently, the zucchini provides the moisture and these were just delightfully gooey and moist when we tried them. (And the chocolate frosting doesn't hurt either!)...

Zucchini Brownies--moist and delicious!

I hate to admit how many of these brownies I ate (just had to "even them up" in the pan, you know--do you do that?)... And this is the last thing I should be doing since my exercise time is still greatly diminished due to my heel pain from plantar fasciitis. My foot was doing pretty well until I went to the 8th annual Steel City Big Pour (on September 6th) which is a huge beer tasting event held in a large warehouse; yes a warehouse, with hard, cold concrete floors... Floors on which I stood for three hours and, afterward, could barely limp to my car. Will my foot ever get better? I know many of you have told me it can take up to a year and I'm only going on 4 months now, so I need to be patient. But, it's really getting hard--I love to exercise and to walk on my treadmill and am really missing it so much! 

You may ask what I was doing at a beer-tasting event when I don't even like the taste (or smell!) of beer? Well, my dear husband convinced me to be the "designated driver" for him, my brother-in-law, nephew, and one of my oldest son's friends. We met my older sons there and a few of my husband's bike-riding buddies and had a great time. But, what did I drink? Why some tasty homemade root beer, of course! And the food samples were incredible--many local restaurants and stores went out of their way to show us their best dishes and they didn't disappoint. If not for my heel pain, it would have been a great time all around!

In spite of most of our vegetables being eaten by the groundhog and the lack of sunshine and warmth this summer, we do have a few gourds and squash and some lovely flowers (along with a beautiful winged visitor or two) in our garden this fall. It is definitely nice to look out and still see some spots of color in the landscape because, soon enough, it will be covered with frost and then that inevitable blanket of snow. I've heard the winter forecast is calling for lots of snow and cold temperatures here in the northern states... Are you ready???? Sigh... Here we go again! 

 Autumn garden ~ 2014

And that wraps up another long post from me! I thank those of you who have stuck with me this far--and I truly appreciate all of your lovely comments and emails. I'm so thankful of your friendships and the support you have given "Stitching Dreams" through the years. You make me want to keep stitching and finishing and I'm always happy to hear from those of you who say my stitching posts have provided you with inspiration.  Enjoy your week, my friends! Bye for now...