Thursday, November 30, 2017

Catching up on Christmas and Maui photos

Happy last day of November! How is everyone? It's been a month of battling the flu here (and I heard last night on the news that the flu shot was only 10% effective this year here in the U.S.--what's up with that?!)... But, we are on the mend and looking forward to a wonderful (and healthy!) Christmas.

Before I go any further, I want to thank each of you for your wonderful comments on the wedding photos that you left on my last post. You are so sweet and my son and his wife were as touched as I was to read your kind words and well wishes. It truly was a magical day--two cultures and religions coming together so seamlessly. If only the entire world could feel the love and acceptance and support that my son and his bride felt that day... Thank you again!

Well, I'll bet you can guess what I've been stitching, can't you? Yep--Christmas ornaments! And, at this point, it looks like I might actually finish all twelve for the year. I have three to show you today--those for August, September, and October which leaves just two for the year. I think I can manage two! My ornament for August is this darling Little House Needleworks design called "Tree Lot." 

Little House Needleworks "The Tree Lot"

I just loved the detail in this one... the red, vintage truck, the tiny cardinals, the softly falling snow. To make it ornament sized, though, I had to stitch it over one and chose 28 ct. black Monaco so that the snow would show up well. It is really tiny and I took a photo of it next to a quarter so you could get a better idea of its size.

So tiny!

I made several changes to the colors and also added more snowflakes. To finish it off, I used that wonderful Woolies Flannel that I've become so fond of. It just reminded me of a cozy flannel shirt--the kind my sons used to wear during the cold winters here in western Pennsylvania. Some tiny white x's and handmade cording finished it off quite nicely, don't you think?

The Tree Lot all ready for my tree

For September's ornament, I chose to stitch another Prairie Schooler from Book No. 48: "A Christmas Visit." As I've mentioned before, this is one of my favorite PS books--seven delightful designs and it's still being sold for the original $6.00 price tag! I forgot to write down what fabric I used, but it is a very stiff higher count natural linen (perhaps 36 ct. dirty linen?). I forgot to take a "before" photo, but finished this one very simply (and very quickly!) with coordinating cording and a little bow.
I wonder how many Prairie Schooler Santas I have stitched this year?

October's ornament was one I stitched while in Hawaii--yes, I was stitching an icy snowman in warm Hawaii! I'm sure you'll all recognize this as a JBW design. "French Country Snowman" is stitched over one on 28 ct. white Monaco with GAST Blue Jay thread. I left off the words "In the Meadow We Can Build a Snowman" to make it ornament sized. Can you spot all the winter themed motifs that make up this design: the bell, the star, the ice skate, the mittens, the hats, the birds, the shovel, the trees, the snowballs? So cute!  I used a blue and white cording and a gauzy blue bow to finish it off.

JBW "French Country Snowman"

And, here is one last finish--I told you I've been stitching! A sweet baby gift for a newborn baby boy was such fun to stitch. This is one I've stitched before and it is also a JBW design called "Baby's First Christmas." For this one, I used 32 ct. black Belfast linen, made some color changes, and added the baby's name instead of the words "Baby's First Christmas." 

A new baby gift

Not sure if you can see them, but there are tiny red beads for the berries on the gingerbread boy's hat along with a white pompom at the very tip. I hope the new baby (and his mom and dad) enjoy hanging it on their tree for years to come!

Such a cutie!

Giveaway! And I have one last stitchy thing--a little chart giveaway. This one is from the November/December 1991 issue of "Cross Stitch and Country Crafts" magazine--an oldie, but goodie. It features a quintet of Santas which could be stitched in a group as shown or individually. I think the patriotic Santa is especially nice. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just four pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants them, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage. I'll announce the winner the next time I post...

Let me know in your comments if you would like to win this chart

So, on to Hawaii photos... What can I say about paradise? Except it wasn't--paradise that is! We had horrible weather; in fact, out of the ten full days we were there, it was sunny for only three. And what a difference that makes. You see, it wasn't just the lack of sunshine. It was two nine-hour power outages--one on Maui and one on Kauai combined with flash flooding, closed bridges and hiking trails, and a distinct lack of blue sky. We still enjoyed ourselves and it felt wonderful to relax after the wedding and celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, though. But, would we go back? That is debatable... Weather can really make or break a vacation!

Anyway, many of you had expressed interest in seeing some photos so here you go... I will just show scenes of Maui today and save Kauai for the next time...

Gray skies and clouds were the norm for the week
But, there were beautiful waterfalls everywhere due to all the rain!

Just look at this mountainside--three waterfalls in one photo!

Smiling even though it was a cloudy day

This was taken on the "Road To Hana"--a notoriously curvy, scary road

The view from our condo on the beach--we could look right down onto the water and see sea turtles!

The Grand Lahaina Luau was wonderful... tasty food and fun entertainment. We sat on the ground right up front while we ate and enjoyed the show. I was in awe at how those dancers moved--wow! Thought you might enjoy this short video that I took right at the end of the show...

A beautiful sunset at the luau

Such lovely flowers were everywhere

And so were the wild chickens that roamed the island freely!

This was probably our best day--weatherwise. We just relaxed on a non-crowded beach and my husband did some snorkeling.

The day we spent at the Haleakala volcano was so special. What made the biggest impression on me was the absolute silence as we hiked down into the crater.

We hiked for four hours down into the crater and back up. At over 10,000 feet above sea level, it made for a very tough trek... It was so amazing to be above the clouds!

Haleakala has erupted only three times in the past 900 years--glad it didn't choose to do so when we were visiting!

A sunset dinner cruise was a beautiful way to end our stay in Maui

Dinner cruise sunset with the island of Molokai in the background

My favorite place of the three Airbnb's that we stayed was a cottage in Kula, Maui. Such a treat to be in the mountains and experience beautiful sunsets like these! Total relaxation...


So, there you have it--Maui 2017. Up next post: Kauai, a very different island!

If you are still reading--thank you! I know this was a long post to get through... I really hope you enjoyed both my stitching and travel photos. I always love seeing your travel photos as there are so many places in the world I know I will never get to see. Hopefully, I've inspired some of you to travel there--as long as it's sunny!  Hope the month of December is good to you--busy, busy, I know. But, a joyful kind of busy and one that I am truly enjoying now that I'm retired. Thank you ever so much for your kind comments and emails--I do appreciate them! Bye for now...

Friday, November 10, 2017

An Autumn Of Memories

It's been a while, hasn't it? I've missed you! Two and a half weeks away from home for my son's wedding in California and our 40th anniversary Hawaii trip--the longest I have ever been away. Eight plane rides + nearly 11,000 miles flown = one bad head cold. I hadn't had a cold in nearly two years, but, thankfully, this one reared its ugly head after our trip! And at least now that I'm retired, I can rest here at home, drink lots of water and eat my chicken noodle soup... Anyway, I've been asked by many of you if I could share some wedding photos so I'll do just that after I show you my latest finish...

I blame this one on the squirrels--the trio of gray squirrels romping around the lower left border reminded me so much of those in our yard this time of year that I just had to stitch this one!  I'm sure you'll recognize it as a Prairie Schooler--it is from "Autumn Samplers" (Book No. 66) which has three gorgeous fall-themed beauties. I'd love to stitch the others some day, too. 

Prairie Schooler "Autumn Sampler" finish

This one is stitched on 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle linen using the suggested DMC threads.

Just love those squirrels!

I have to admit that those leaves were starting to get to me after a while, however I just kept plugging away! But, I loved the saying and the fallish colors, too. Oh, how I wish Prairie Schooler designs were still creating new charts--they are so timeless!

Aren't the fall colors perfect?

Being away for 2 1/2 weeks, I missed most of the really good autumn color here in Pennsylvania. When we left on October 18th, the leaves were still green--very unusual for that time of year. But, when we returned many had turned color and fallen, although there are still a fair number remaining. After the frigid weather that is moving in this weekend, though, I doubt many will hang on too long! Anyway, I hope to frame this one (famous last words!)...

Another Prairie Schooler checked off my "must-stitch" list!

When I got back from my travels, I was thrilled to find two little gift packages waiting in my accumulated mail.  My long-time blogging friend, Cindy, sent me two beautiful gifts to help me celebrate my retirement. Just look at this gorgeous needleminder and needlecase--and in blue, my favorite color! I love that pretty sunflower card, too... Thank you so much, Cindy--you  have been a special stitching friend through all these years!

Retirement gifts sent from Cindy

And Tawny (in New Jersey) sent me two cute charts to thank me for sending her a chart that she couldn't find. Thank you, Tawny--I look forward to stitching them!

Thank you gifts sent from Tawny

In other stitching news, I did get a new Christmas ornament stitched while in Hawaii, but I'll wait until it's finished off to share it with you. 

♥♥♥ So, the wedding ♥♥♥... It was such a beautiful day--in every way... I'm sure every parent of a bride or groom feels that way, but my husband and I were just beaming the entire day as we watched our oldest son and our now daughter-in-law start their life together...

The wedding was held at a lovely old mission style church in Oceanside, California on a day that couldn't have been nicer--sunshine and blue skies abounded! I loved the simple style of this church much more than the grand cathedrals I've seen in my travels. The ceremony was bilingual... since my new daughter-in-law is of Mexican American heritage, the priest spoke in both English and Spanish.

St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Oceanside, CA

I'll just share a few more photos...

The new couple made their way to the reception in this vintage auto.

Relaxing at the reception

My youngest and middle sons congratulate the happy couple and welcome their new sister! They were co-best men and did an outstanding job on their speech at the dinner. The middle gave it in English and the youngest in Spanish so that all of the guests could understand their words.

Blue and orange flowers complemented the bridesmaids' royal blue dresses

I just love this photo of my son and the three sweet flower girls. Although they didn't know each other previously, the little girls bonded and held hands and danced together throughout the evening. Just adorable!

The groom's proud parents--we clean up pretty well (although it looks like a vine is growing out of my head!). It's hard to tell in this photo, but my dress was a beautiful dark amethyst color.

The reception was held at Green Gables Wedding Estate in nearby San Marcos, CA. It had such great backdrops for photo taking with the old schoolhouse, chandeliers hanging from trees, a gazebo, and a turquoise vintage truck

The dessert table included traditional cakes, cupcakes, and an assortment of Mexican candy!

One of my favorite photos taken by a co-worker of the bride's

People asked me if I cried--oh, I got a bit teary eyed, but I honestly didn't cry. Well, that day, anyway! The day before the wedding I saw the following post on Instagram and it just set me off... Tears and so many memories swelled up in me as I read these words that were originally written by Tabitha Studer on her blog way back in 2011 in a post called "25 Rules For Mothers of Sons." This is her Rule Number 25: 

And my sweet new daughter-in-law understands this so well. The morning of the wedding she gave me a gift bag filled with a framed photo of herself and my son, some charms (one of which read "Thank you for raising the man of my dreams"), chocolates, a lovely blue and white handkerchief, and most meaningful of all--a beautifully handwritten note about her love for my oldest son and assuring me that I "wasn't losing a son, but gaining a daughter!" How blessed I feel to have this wonderful young woman in our family!

I am out of time today--my poor head is aching from this cold.  I need to go through my Hawaii photos before I can share them with you... so until next time, my friends! Thank you all for taking the time to visit and maybe even taking the time to leave a comment... Each and every one means so very much to me! Bye for now...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Month of Changes!

It's here, it's here!! My oldest son's wedding month, that is! When he and his lovely fiancée announced their engagement a year ago, it seemed like it would take forever for the wedding day to arrive... But, the months have just sped by at seemingly warp speed and, all of a sudden, it's time. The next time you read a post from me I will have a daughter in the family--after all these years of being the lone female (even our cat was a boy!), I will have someone who may actually think a bit more like I do and see my side of things more easily. Because, no matter how much they may love each other, men and women think totally differently, don't you agree? (Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, her wedding dress finally arrived and the final fitting is Tuesday--thank goodness!!)

Before I go any further, I want to thank you for all of your thoughtful and heartfelt comments on my previous post about my retirement and my sleeping issues. I truly appreciate your well-wishes and your suggestions on how to get a better night's sleep so thank you for taking the time to leave a comment... Anyway, more about those two topics later. After all, you're here to see some stitching, right?

I try to add at least one little pillow to my Halloween collection each year and this one came from a chart I found in the October 2017 issue of Just Cross Stitching Magazine. It is designed by Teresa Murgida and is called "Boo Birdhouse." If you have seen the design in the magazine, you'll notice that I made a number of changes. I changed the color of the birdhouse roof and opening to gray (from purple), changed the color of the ghost's hat from black to orange, stitched a smaller bat and moved him down, omitted a white swirly thing under the bat, added some more green vines to the left of the pumpkin. Whew! And my biggest change--I added a teeny baby ghost peeking out of the birdhouse!

"Boo Birdhouse" finish from October 2017 JCS Magazine

And here is my finished ghostly pillow--I'm so pleased with it! The orange and black polka dot fabric is wool flannel (love that stuff!) and the backing is the fabric pictured. A bit of ric rak and a gingham yo-yo and black button finish it off. The fibers are all DMC and it is stitched on 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle linen. Every time I look at that baby ghost, I just smile :) This was my most "liked" photo on my Instagram account (if you'd like to follow me, please click here... It brought lots of wonderful comments and one of them said I was so "brave" to change colors and design elements. I replied that that is something I would never have done when I was younger, but now I'm more comfortable with color and I simply know what I like. I hope the designers never take offense--it is just my way of making the design more "me." And, after all, if I hadn't truly loved the original design, I wouldn't have chosen to stitch it, right? How about you--do most of you make changes?

How do you like the wee baby ghost?

Still plugging away on  stitching my monthly Christmas ornaments, but I am very concerned that I'll not be able to finish all twelve for the first time since I began blogging... Hopefully, there will be stitching time on my upcoming travels, although I am not the best at stitching on airplanes! But, I do have a new Prairie Schooler Santa to share with you... This handsome guy is the annual Santa chart from the year 2000 and is stitched with the suggested DMC colors on 40 ct. burch Newcastle linen. I did change the suggested ecru on his beard, book, and candy canes to DMC 3865, though.

Prairie Schooler Santa 2000

I have to say, that this one has special meaning as it brings back fond memories of when my boys would ask what I wanted for Christmas and I would reply, "All I want is good little boys!" I can't say that any longer so I do supply them with (usually stitch-related!) wish lists. I like to keep my PS Santa finishes pretty simple as they are such classics so I stitched a small pillow, added homemade cording, and tied on a pair of rusty bells in the corner. This is my monthly Christmas ornament for July (I told you I was behind!)...

My July ornament finally finished!

I had several entries for the pair of autumn charts that I was giving away in my last post and the name drawn from the proverbial hat was...  ROSE HECK!   Rose, please email me with your mailing address and I will get this charts off to you this week.  Congratulations and, if you weren't the lucky winner, please check back--I'll be having more old chart giveaways in the future!

Giveaway winner... Rose Heck!

Retirement update... Today marks the beginning of my third week as a "lady of leisure"--ha! Whoever said retirement brought more hours of free time? I spent the first week up in New York helping out my mom who continues to have health problems (prayers, good thoughts, positive vibes, etc. would all be very much appreciated!) and the second week packing and cleaning the house so I can leave it "spic and span" for our travels. Does anyone else do that? I just have to clean the whole place before I leave on a trip--can't stand coming back to a cluttered house!

My retirement farewell brought recollections of many fond stories and quite a few tears as I said goodbye to my wonderful co-workers at the library. I was treated to some beautiful gifts, a farewell lunch, a lovely cake, and lots of goodbye hugs and well wishes. My sweet co-workers know me well because just look at these lovely gifts they bought for me...

Yes, it's a personalized stitching pouch!! And the fabric is made to look like old library date due cards--how perfect for a librarian! The pouch was filled with a Michael's gift card, needles, floss tags, and threads. Absolutely loved this!

My second gift from my coworkers was equally special--a basket filled with baking goodies, a cute pie-themed apron, and a gift card to King Arthur's Flour Baking catalog. How very thoughtful!

And look at this giant cake--so pretty in shades of teal, pink, yellow, and green.

My lovely chocolate retirement cake was scrumptious!

To thank them all, I made these little thank you cards--only a librarian will truly appreciate them. They are made to look like old library catalog cards and you can generate your own personalized (and free!) card at this site. I added the Dewey Decimal number 179.9 which is for "thankfulness/gratitude" and the name of the library (which I have blocked out) along with a little note saying my "wonderful co-workers will forever be in my heart. Thank you for all you have done to make my 29 years at the library so memorable." And a personal note was written to each of my fellow librarians inside the cards... As many of you mentioned, I was so fortunate to have a job that I loved all those years; not many can say that!

Thank you note cards I made for my co-workers

Other retirement treats were received as well from my oldest son and his fiancee, my two sisters and brother, and previously retired coworkers... Even a couple of patrons brought candy and flowers! I felt very much appreciated and loved!

From my oldest son and his fiancée: a lovely pouch (will use it for my stitching, of course!)  and an action figure of Nancy Perl--America's best known librarian. She "shushes you" when you push the button on her back--too cute!)

Also from my oldest son and fiancée--these beautiful fall flowers and a box of delicious chocolates. They really spoiled me--do you think they are angling for a nice wedding gift?! (Just kidding!)

Beautiful roses from my youngest sister! The fall colors were stunning!

And a host of gift cards, flowers, retirement cards and other small gifts from various family members, friends, and library patrons.

Here is a photo of me on my last day with my lovely cake. Yes, that is a big smile on my face because I was pretty much cried out at that stage... The decision to leave now wasn't easy, but I felt the timing was right. To just be able to fly to my son's wedding and then on to our 40th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii, and then not have to return to work--it just all made sense! I'll be 63 in January, a bit young to retire perhaps, but, for me, it works! Thank you all so much for your well-wishes--I know I'll never be bored in retirement! And if I do miss the library, I can always go volunteer on a weekly basis!

Still smiling 'til the end--I was so blessed to have had a job I truly loved for all these years!

Sleeping update... Wow! I am obviously not alone in my sleeping problems. Based on your comments, a lot of you are having issues--either falling asleep or staying asleep (my problem). Things seem to be a bit better since I retired, but are still not great. Interestingly, there was just an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that was titled, "The Older You Are, the Worse You Sleep." Great...  Apparently, the older we get, the more our capacity for deep, restorative sleep disappears so that by the time we are age 70, 80-90% of our "youthful, restorative deep sleep is gone." Sad...  And that lack of sleep can really affect our health as we age. I loved reading your tips about overcoming (or at least accepting) sleep problems and plan to try some of them soon. Right now, the best thing for me is to get my Kindle out and simply start reading, but I worry about waking up my husband so I don't resort to that very often. 

Okay--I have babbled on for far too long. There is just so much going on in my life right now... Thank you, as always for your sweet comments--I read and appreciate each one. Can't always get back to you as some of you are "no reply bloggers," but if you leave your email address, I will certainly try to answer your questions. Happy rest of October, everyone... see you in November! Bye for now...