Thursday, May 18, 2017

You Are So Loved and a Very Special 90th Birthday Celebration!

Hello, hello! And another month is speeding by! We've passed the half-way mark of May--can you believe it? I was so busy getting ready for my mom's 90th birthday party that the past few weeks have simply passed in a blur. It was truly a wonderful celebration and I hope you'll enjoy reading about it in later on in this post. Thank you all so much for your "Happy Birthday" wishes for her--she really appreciated each and every one!

First of all, I'll share the stitching I did for mom's birthday. I thought this little freebie from Snowflower Diaries was the perfect thing to stitch for her on her milestone 90th birthday. As any of you who have stitched this will recognize, I changed it up a bit to fit our family.  The original chart (which can be found here), had only two baby birds with a mama bird. But, our family has four "chicks," so I added two more birds to represent me, my younger brother, and two younger sisters. Of course, that meant adjusting the branches, too--I think it turned out so cute!

Freebie finish of  "You Are So Loved"

I used a peachy salmon-colored fabric (which is not nearly as bright as is showing up in this photo) to pick up the colors of the flowers and edged it with the same color cording. The finish also has a tiny, silver heart hanging from the little falling branch which I added to represent my dad. Although he has been gone over two years, we still feel his love surrounding us each and every day. Mom loved it and was very touched, I'm happy to say. And so happy to finally own a "Carol pillow" of her very own. I've stitched and framed pieces for her before, but had never made a little pillow so she was thrilled!

"You Are So Loved"--all finished up

And for her special birthday/Mother's Day gift she also received the finish that I shared with you last time, "Bluebird Out My Window." I decided to add a black Smyrna stitch  for his eye rather than leaving just the fabric showing and I'm much happier with it. In real life, bluebirds have very dark, beady eyes so he looks more realistic to me with this dark eye. I found the perfect 4" x 6" frame at Marshall's and framed it using the lacing method--a first for me! Here it is--what do you think? I thought this would make a lovely gift for mom because of the word "Home" on it--she has always been the center of our home, no matter how far afield us kids are scattered...

Bluebird Out My Window--framed and ready for its new home

So, on to the big 9-0 party! Oh, it was fun--a lot of work for me, but so rewarding to do this for my dear mother. First, of course, came the invitation. I got my inspiration from Pinterest and created it using a photo of her as a little girl along with a more recent one. Just look at those curls--was she not the cutest little thing? Sort of a brown haired Shirley Temple! (I have covered up the personal information and the dotted lines weren't there in real life).

The invitation that started it all

Next, I created some personalized wrappers for Hershey Miniatures chocolates--because what's a party without chocolate? I simply experimented using Microsoft Publisher until I was able to get the correct size to cover the little bars. These are the designs I came up with...

Personalized candy wrappers in pink and black

I ended up making 125 of them which were scattered down the center of the tables along with sparkly pink and silver sequins. Thankfully, listening to a good audio book (The Women In the Castle) made the wrapping go pretty quickly. I used two pieces of double sided tape--one to hold the paper label to the original candy wrapper and the other to close up the wrapper that I made. Funny side story--at the birthday lunch, my youngest son decided it would be funny to take the wrapper off one of the candy bars and put it on a wrapped butter patty. He kept offering it to other guests as a "special" candy bar and then let them in on the joke before they unwrapped it. After the party, he placed it in the butter dish when he left--wonder what the poor waitress thought when she spied what she thought was chocolate "candy" and then realized it was actually a pat of butter!

125 miniatures all ready to eat!

The chocolates were quickly gobbled up by the party goers, but luckily, I had made mom her very own gift box for later on... For her special box, I added a couple of wrapped bars that said, "Love you Mom!" ♥

Mom's personal box of chocolates

I found these cute photo props on Etsy, downloaded and printed them, and added skewers for holders (using my hot glue gun). To display them, I stuck the skewers in floral foam and covered it with pink packing "peanuts."

Photo props from Etsy

They helped create such fun photos as you can see by the smiles below! That's my mom in the lower right--she truly is "90 and Fabulous!" My youngest and oldest son are at the top left, husband in lower left, two nieces on the left and a good family friend is at the top right. Love them all!

Who are those masked men and women?!

Another idea I spotted on Pinterest was to highlight the birthday girl's year of birth using mason jars filled with flowers. A very simple idea that turned out so cute! I used Columbine from my garden--just loved the rustic look. Another funny story, though... I picked the flowers right before we drove up to New York on Friday. Little did I know that they housed many, many tiny ants which kept crawling out of the flowers and up my legs during the entire trip! My husband even found a couple on the steering wheel as he drove. Glad they weren't bees or something that bites!

1927: A very special year

I placed the mason jars on a table filled with old photos. Everyone enjoyed looking at mom as a child, a college coed, a young bride, and also those of her in her adult years.

The photo table

The party was held in the social room at my mom's senior living center--a perfect size for the 31 guests. I requested that the tables be set up in a "U" shape and thought it worked out so well. Mom and the four of us kids sat at the bottom of the "U" where we could clearly see the guests and they could see us. A buffet lunch consisting of pasta and meatballs, chicken, rolls, veggies (no, I did not eat them--for any of you long-time readers, you know vegetables are just not my thing!) and a green salad. It was prepared by the senior living facility--they have such tasty food!

All ready for a party!

As you can see, there was lots of pink:  polka-dot balloons, linen napkins, and pretty spring  colored flowers. My youngest sister ordered the sweet floral "Happy Birthday" banner you see in the photo below from Etsy. Absolutely loved it!

Pink polka-dot balloons and purple and pink flowers

There was even dancing--well one dance; a very special one featuring mom and my middle son. I just love that photo! Doesn't my mom look fabulous--her smile says it all. And look! There is a very rare photo of me on my blog! And even more rare--I have a dress on and a pink sweater! A miracle! After lunch, the residents of the senior living community all came down and joined us for cake and punch. It was so enjoyable to chat with them and hear the wonderful things they had to say about mom.

My beautiful mom, middle son, and me!

Since the first cake didn't have candles (her facility doesn't allow them--even for birthday cakes!) we wanted to have a second cake later on so she could make a wish and blow out the candles. We ordered a positively decadent chocolate cake--oh, my! D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! We enjoyed this one when we gathered at my brother's house that evening for pizza and subs. No one was very hungry, but somehow we found room for that cake!

I wonder what she wished for?

I made mom one last gift--a Scrabble themed card/picture. Another Pinterest idea and one that was so perfect for her as we play "Words With Friends" online each night. I had some old Scrabble tiles that had belonged to my grandmother (another avid player) so I used them along with a printed hummingbird and some puffy flowers to create this little picture. 


Whew! So, that is the party round-up. I hope you enjoyed it and found some ideas you can use for your next big family celebration. I told mom I'm going to start planning for her 100th birthday party and she just laughed. But, you never know, do you? She is still so, so sharp--I only hope I inherited her genes... She truly is my best friend--can't imagine how I got so lucky to have her as my mom :)

Thank you all for stopping in to say "hello" today! I appreciate each of your comments so very much. I'm way behind on blog reading and commenting, but hope to catch up today. AND, I really do hope to be back by the end of the month with a BIG finish... I'm working more days than usual, though, so we'll see! Bye for now...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bluebird Out My Window

Happy last day of April! Can you believe 2017 is now one-third over? It's been such a lovely spring and, unfortunately, my lack of stitching reflects that. I've had a real case of "spring fever" and have been doing everything but stitching... And my finishing mojo? Oh, that is nowhere to be seen. I sure hope things return to normal soon, but with picking out plants (or should I say deer food) for our gardens, doing lots of organizing and spring cleaning at home, and planning for my mom's 90th birthday party (which will be taking place in just two short weeks), the minutes to sit and stitch have been few and far between...

I do have one finish that was done in April (along with more stitching on "A Walk In the Woods" which, sadly, did not get completed by month's end as I had hoped). This sweet design is called "Bluebird Out My Window" by With Thy Needle and Thread. It took a surprisingly long time to finish and, to be completely honest, I just didn't enjoy the fabric (40 ct. wren Newcastle linen) at all. I doubt I'll use it for other finishes. It was just a bit too mottled for my liking.   I used most of the suggested overdyeds, but substituted a few of my own choices.

"Bluebird Out My Window" by With Thy Needle & Thread

Here are a couple of close-ups for you. The colors in the photo below are a bit more "true to life." The one above looks much brighter on my computer than it really is... As I'm looking at these photos, I'm wondering if the bird needs an eye? Perhaps a black stitched eye or a bead? What do you think? It wasn't charted, but he looks rather unfinished to me...

Such a sweet bird!

I'm going to be framing this one as it will fit perfectly in a 4" X 6" frame. Yay! Love it when that happens. And it is small enough that I can handle the framing by myself. I do love that bluebird, but you know what--I have never seen one in real-life! How many of you have them in your yards? Do you have special bluebird houses for them?

Should I add an "eye?"

I'm behind on my monthly Christmas ornament finishing--have done the stitching for March and April, but not finished them. I forgot to take a photo of the April ornament, but for March, I did a little PS design from "Button Up" (Book No. 143). You all know how much I love cardinals and I couldn't resist this little guy.

Prairie Schooler "Button Up" cardinal

As I mentioned, I haven't finished him into an ornament, yet, but I plan on doing him just like this one that I sent as a RAK to April in Virginia in 2016. I don't think I've shared this finish with you, but here it is... better late than never: a simple flat finish with a wide gingham border, green cording, and a coordinating plaid hanger. April loved it and I'm hoping my cardinal will look just as cute finished in this manner!  This design is from the same PS booklet as the cardinal above...

RAK for April in Virginia last December

Speaking of gifts, I had two wonderful gifts from stitching friends in Europe who thought of me at Easter time.  From Gabi in Germany came this cute bunny (everyone knows I love my bunnies!)... Thanks so very much, Gabi--I'll think of you each time I put him out in the spring...

Easter gift from Gabi in Germany

And from my friend, Nathalie, in France came another bunch of bunny love along with some Easter napkins and spring-colored ribbons. Thanks so much, Nathalie--you are so sweet to think of me!

Easter gifts from Nathalie in France

Easter was a bit sad for us this year as it was the first big holiday in 35 years--since we became parents--that not a single one of our sons was here for dinner. We really didn't know what to do--we just kind of sat there and tried not to be sad... but it was hard. In an effort to cheer up the day just a bit, I did make this delicious carrot cake roll for our dessert. I was so worried that it wouldn't turn out, but it was wonderful.  Ali, from the blog "Gimme Some Oven" did a wonderful job in explaining everything and it couldn't have been easier. The result was a nice looking dessert that came together very simply! Ali is the daughter of the Lizzie Kate designer--such a talented family! If you're interested, the recipe can be found right here.

A tasty carrot cake roll for Easter dessert

This has to be the most beautiful spring in years here in western Pennsylvania! A real spring --cool and sunny with just the right amount of rain. Usually we jump right from winter weather straight into summer heat and humidity, but not this year. Most of our flowering trees are gone by now, but over the past few weeks, every time I looked out a window, I spotted bright pinks, purples, and whites in each corner of our yard. Below you can see the white dogwoods, the pink mini-rhododendrons, the white crabapple, and the purplish pink lilacs. Oh, if only they would last just a bit longer!

Lovely spring blooms in every corner!

Giveaway winner... The winner of my giveaway from my last post for this sweet Homespun Elegance chart is:  

ROBIN (from Virginia)

Giveaway winner:  Robin (in Virginia)

Congratulations, Robin! I hope you enjoy the chart! I can see little bits and pieces of it being made into small cushions, can't you? I'll get it off to you sometime this week...

Sewing Machine news... Well, so, so many of you suggested that I have my old machine serviced, cleaned, and oiled before I invested in a new machine that that is exactly what I've decided to do! I truly appreciate all of your advice about what to buy, what you like, etc. That is a tremendous help and, if I do have to buy a new machine, you can be sure that I'll be taking your advice to heart. There is a Mennonite man up near my mom in New York who comes highly recommended, so I plan on taking my sewing machine up there some time this summer. Hopefully, he'll be able to get it running like new again!

And that's about it for today--my husband is on a long bike ride so I decided to sit down and get one last post in before the end of April. Thank you so much for stopping by and thank you, especially, to those of you who take the time to leave a comment or send an email. I appreciate each and every one so very much! Wishing you a wonderful month ahead... Bye for now...

Enjoy the merry, merry month of May!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thank yous and spring stitches

It's April! March zoomed by with just a single blog post from me--how did that happen? I try to post twice a month, but other things took precedence last month... More working hours on weekends, a long-overdue trip to New York to spend five days with my mom, a wonderful week-long visit from my oldest son. But, I have been stitching! Before I show you what I've been up to, I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to each of you who commented on my last post or emailed me to congratulate me on the British Craft Award win. I couldn't be prouder to be a member of such a supportive community of needleworkers--we all celebrate each other's success whether it be for a new start, an amazing finish, or an unexpected honor! Thank you again, my friends--your kindness means so very much to me...

So, do you remember that sweet Prairie Schooler bunny stitched on black that I showed you in my March post? Well, he's all finished up and, I must say, I'm very proud of this one!! I made him into a little hanging pouch, filled it with some dried baby's breath, and hung it on the wooden knob of my corner cupboard. Oh, my--it just makes me smile every time I see it!! The bag is very small (just 3 1/2 inches from bottom to top (not  counting the hanger)--just my style.

Prairie Schooler bunny pouch

The back of the little pouch is a fun black and white polka-dot fabric and the gingham trim and hanger are cut from an old pair of slacks.  It took me an entire afternoon to figure out how to make this as I had never done anything like it before. It's not perfect (as I couldn't figure out how to line it), but it looks pretty darn good for my first attempt at sewing curves, don't you think? My ancient 40-year-old sewing machine rebelled, though, and it was all I could do to coax it to do "just a few more stitches, please!"

Love, love, love this little finish!

This next finish is one of the monochromatic designs from Little House Needleworks--Spring. I had the hardest time photographing it as it was a gray, dreary day when I took the photo. It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. ivory evenweave so the finished size is just a bit over 3 inches square. 

Little House Needleworks Spring

For this piece, I worked backward and chose the floss color based on this pretty spring green piece of gingham I wanted to use (the gingham came from an old shirt of my husband's!). After auditioning all shades of green, the one that popped to the front was Anchor 214. Where I got this skein of Anchor thread, I have no clue as I only purchase DMC or overdyeds. It must have been a gift at some time or other. But, it worked perfectly for the fabric I had chosen! Here it is all finished up as a flat finish (the backing is simply covered with some ivory felt). I found a perfectly colored button and some green ric rak to jazz it up a bit. I'm very pleased with the final outcome...

A spring green finish

Here is another view straight on--I had a bit of trouble getting this one to photograph well. 

Little House Needleworks Spring--all finished up!

And my "A Walk In the Woods" sampler is inching along as well... I've added another line of letters and that gorgeous nest (which caused much anxiety as I kept having to rip out wrongly placed stitches time after time!). But, isn't it pretty with the lone egg resting there? My goal is to have this one finished by the end of April--fingers crossed!

It's growing!

Our spring weather here in Western Pennsylvania has been less than ideal. I think because our winter was so easy this year, we all hoped for a warm, sunny, early spring! But, that hasn't been the case... There has been lots and lots of clouds and rain. Luckily, all I have to do to get my daily dose of sunshine is to look over at my "yellow" shelf in my corner cupboard. I dare you not to smile when you glance at it--just look at all of the cute bunnies, chicks, and sunny colors. I love it! When I posted this photo on my Instagram page, there were a lot of comments about that little polka-dot bowl. I had just purchased that (as a set of three!) for a mere $7.99 at Homegoods. The other two are white with yellow dots and yellow with white stripes--so cute for spring decorating!

My cheery yellow corner shelf

March was my month to take in the treat for our department meeting at the library, so I spent a few hours in the kitchen making this plate of goodies. As you know, I love to bake, but with my three sons all grown and out of the house, I just can't bake as much as I used to when there were five of us living here. So, it was a real treat to put together this tray of Chunky Cheesecake Brownies and Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies for my very appreciative  coworkers. You can try baking some for yourself by clicking on the names of the goodies--I've linked to the recipes for you! Yum!!

Chocolate overload!

I really appreciate all of your thoughts on when to retire from my last post. I've pretty much decided that the end of 2018 will be it for me--right before I turn 64. But, there is a new bump in the road! My "new" boss who has been here all of one year, will be leaving at the end of this month... What a shock! Now we all have to adjust once again to a new manager and new ways of doing things. I'm getting too old for this! So, who knows... we'll see what transpires this year!

More advice needed... As I mentioned above, my old sewing machine (which was gifted to me by my parents as a college graduation gift 40 years ago!) is giving up the ghost. I have thought about purchasing a new machine, but the choice just seems overwhelming! There are so many bells and whistles now--do I really need them? On the other hand, I do hope to be sewing more in the future after retirement so I want more than a basic machine. Do any of you have advice for me? Any thoughts would be much appreciated!!

New Giveaway for this pretty chart... I have a lovely little Homespun Elegance chart which needs a new home. "Be Ye Kind & True" is from the May/June 1992 issue of "Cross Stitch and Country Crafts" magazine. An oldie, but goodie! If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, 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'm giving away this chart from an old magazine

GIVEAWAY WINNER from my last post... There were ten entries to win the Nora Corbett chart called "Gathering Eggs," so I did a simple drawing and the winner is:


Congratulations to Jo! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible (although since Jo lives in England, it may take longer than normal!). I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by Jo
 
I hope some nice, sunny spring weather is finally here by the next time I post! Thanks so very much for visiting me today; it's always a pleasure to read your comments and emails...  Wishing you a lovely week ahead with lots of stitching time! Bye for now...  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bunny Stitching and a Big Blog Honor All the Way From Britain!

Hello, hello! And how are all of my stitching friends on this mid-March morn? March has certainly lived up to its "in like a lion" reputation for many of us here in the U.S, hasn't it? Wild winds, power outages (we had a seven-hour loss of power last week. Oh, dear--I'm afraid there was nothing to do but stitch!!), and the most beautiful snowfalls have been the norm for the past two weeks. It looks like a cold week ahead and I fear my oldest son, who is visiting from sunny, warm southern California, will never want to come back east. I did warn him ahead of time to pack warm clothes! It will be interesting to see if the month calms down and goes "out like a lamb."

My long-time readers know how much I love stitching rabbits; in fact, I love bunny stitching almost as much as stitching Christmas ornaments! The urge seems to hit me each spring and this year has been no exception. My first little fellow is from a Prairie Schooler mini-card and is a perfect example of the finishing part of the process taking almost as long as the stitching part. I forgot to take a "before" photo, so here is the little fellow in his finished form...

Pink and bunnies just seem go together!

For this pillow, I used 32 ct. white Jobelan and wanted a pinker house so I substituted DMC 760 for the suggested color. I've always loved the pink and gray color combination since I was young. I vaguely remember a pink-gray skirt?/pair of slacks?/vest? (mom, do you remember?)  that I just loved and wore with a pale pink sweater. Not sure that I've owned a pink piece of clothing since! (Oh, I guess I do have one pink/peachy sort of sweater!) So, I decided pink and gray would be the way to go for this as it pulled together both the pink of the house and the gray of the border. I cut a tiny white bunny out of some pink bunny-printed fabric and used him as my lower left corner square, topped it with pale pink ric rak, added cording, and thought I was done. But, something was missing... When I added the little polka dot bow in gray, it just pulled the whole thing together! I love it! And my vintage ceramic bunny seems to approve, too.

My next bunny is also a Prairie Schooler design from Book No. 52 "Prairie Year-Rounds." He is stitched on 28 ct. black Monaco with DMC threads. I changed all of the suggested colors and substituted DMC 223, 712, and 3364. Love his little pink nose and that flower he is jumping over.  I haven't quite decided how to finish him yet, but I'm hoping an idea will come to me and I'll share it with you next time I post.

Bunny finish from Prairie Year-Rounds Book No. 52

As you can see, a bit of progress has been made on my "A Walk In the Woods" sampler. Letters O, P, and Q have joined the party along with the prettiest little brown bird resting on a branch of red berries. I'm still enjoying each and every stitch of this one!

"A Walk In the Woods" progress

So, are you wondering about the second part of my post title: "A Big Blog Honor From Britain?" Well, do you remember (way back in this post from October) when I mentioned that my blog had been nominated for the 2017 British Craft Awards "Blog Of the Year" in the cross stitch category? I'm so honored and humbled to let you know--Stitching Dreams won! I was told by another nominee (my friend, Lynn, over at Happiness Is Cross Stitching) that I had won and then received an official email from Immediate Media notifying me, too. They sent this lovely badge for my blog and told me I will also be receiving a trophy and a certificate of recognition. A trophy!? I've never received a trophy of any kind in my entire life (although I did get a crown once when I was voted Homecoming Queen way back in 1972 as a senior in high school--ha ha!!).  So, that's another "first" in my life. Even at age 62, new experiences and wonders are coming my way...

Thanks to all who voted for me and to Immediate Media!

This award has so much meaning because it was chosen by you, my fellow stitchers--so a sincere "thank you" goes to each of you who cast your vote for my blog. I truly appreciate all of your supportive comments and emails over the past eight years that I've been blogging. They are what keep me going--truly! As I mentioned in my earlier post about the nomination, I don't blog for money or fame. I am actually quite shy and introverted, but I've always loved to write which is why I put in the time and energy it takes to create a successful blog. I'll be sure to share a photo of my trophy when it arrives--wherever shall I keep it?!


New Giveaway for this pretty chart... As you know from previous posts, I've been doing some housecleaning and going through old stitching magazines.  I'll be giving away one chart each time I post and this time it is for a lovely chart from Nora Corbett of Mirabilia fame called "Gathering Eggs" that would be wonderful to stitch for Easter.  Isn't she pretty with those giant flowers in the background and basket of periwinkle hued eggs? If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, 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'm giving away this old chart from a magazine

GIVEAWAY WINNER from the last post... Only a handful entered to win this chart (which surprised me, as I love it!), so I did a simple drawing and the winner is:

Linda, please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by Linda

Putting our lives into perspective... A casual friend died a week ago. She was someone I knew through my best friend's family and I would see her at weddings, bridal and baby showers, and get-togethers once or twice a year. In fact, I sat next to her at a baby shower in late November and thoroughly enjoyed laughing together as we watched a game of charades and discussed my son's upcoming wedding as she shared photos of her son's wedding that had just taken place in September.

And then, everything began to fall apart for her. Her symptoms began in January and just last week she became one of the "one in a million people" affected by a little known disease. It happened that quickly... I'm having a particularly hard time with her death. I think about her husband who just retired and had plans for traveling with her and about her two children and those adorable grandchildren who will grow up making so many memories without her in the picture. And about her elderly mother who still remains... At 65, she was just three years older than me and it really makes me reevaluate how I'm spending my time. Retirement has been on my mind for quite some time, but it has jumped much further forward since learning of her death... We need to try to make your days count and think positively--you just never know what lies around the corner, do you?

"I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe the best does."               --Anne of Green Gables

Thank you to all who are still with me at this point--I know this was another long one!  Here's to the coming of spring and better weather ahead. Although, I have to admit, there was a morning last week when I opened my bedroom blinds, glimpsed this beautiful snow, and actually gasped at the sheer beauty that winter can bring. It was like pure white cotton had fallen from the sky and covered everything in the landscape. True beauty... Wishing you all a beautiful day! Bye for now...

Winter's beauty...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Farewell to February

February draws to a close... the shortest month--and the warmest February I can remember in my 62 years! It was such a delight to experience what I can only describe as "end-of-April weather" last week... Temperatures reached the 60s and even the 70s with plentiful sunshine.  It sure has been easier to get through winter with a week like that thrown in the middle. And just think, in three short weeks, spring will be greeting us! This really has been "the winter that wasn't" for us folks in western Pennsylvania--barely any snow, much warmer temperatures than normal, and easy-to-drive-on roads with no ice to worry about. Hope I haven't just jinxed myself with those words...

A new start... I've finally stitched a bit more on the larger sampler that I mentioned earlier this year so I'd like to share it with you. "A Walk In the Woods" by The Cricket Collection, is about half-finished and I've loved every stitch. I've had this in my stash for a while (it is from 1988--the year my youngest son was born!) and I'm so glad I'm finally getting around to it. I fell in love with the violet border and the shades of blue in the design. I'm trying to work on this one in between smaller projects, so I hope to have it done by the end of March--we'll see! After I've finished the entire piece, I'll share a few close-up photos of some of the individual nature motifs. But, just in case you're wondering, that interesting creature between the G and the H is a snail! First time I've stitched a snail--that's for sure! 

"A Walk In the Woods"

February Ornament... And I've finished my second ornament of 2017... This Prairie Schooler Santa is from the "Kris Kringle" (Book No. 62) and is stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. Isn't he a fancy fellow with his hat and blue robe embroidered with holly and berries? And those swans? Love them!  I just never tire of stitching PS Santas--love everything about these guys...

Prairie Schooler Santa in blue

To finish him off I used the oval shape that I've become so fond of. I trace the ovals from scrapbooking templates (similar to these).  Adding some handmade cording and a simple bow finishes him off quite nicely, don't you think? I'd like to stitch and finish all seven from this PS booklet in the same fashion--some day! For those of you wondering about finishing oval or round ornaments, here are two excellent tutorials: Pinwheel Ponders  and the wonderful Vonna, our very own Twisted Stitcher I actually lace my ornament on the back after I've gathered the edges as Pinwheel Ponder shows. Give it a try--I honestly find finishing oval or round ornaments to be the easiest of all!

Another PS Santa for my Christmas tree!

I've pulled the threads for another larger (to me, anyway) sampler--can you believe it? What is happening to me? Am I abandoning my smalls? No, just trying to branch out a bit and stop neglecting all of the beautiful charts that lie patiently waiting for me to pay them some attention. Hopefully, I'll have a bit done to share with you sometime soon!

New Giveway for a pretty chart. As I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing some housecleaning and going through old stitching magazines.  I'll be giving away one chart each time I post and this time it is for a lovely chart from Catherine Theron. I love the blue house in this one and think I'll be stitching it myself some day. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, 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'm giving away this old chart from a magazine

Giveway winner from last time... I had 8 people who entered to win the chart from my Valentine's Day giveaway post so I did a simple drawing to determine the winner. And the winner is... 
 SUSAN L.

Susan, please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by: Susan L.

For some reason, we've noticed fewer and fewer birds at our bird feeders this winter. I'm attributing it to the mild winter and the fact that, without much snow, the birds are having no problems fending for themselves. But, I looked out one day earlier this month to be greeted by this sight! Do you think the deer are scaring off the birds? I had to laugh when I saw him helping himself to the birdseed--I'd say it's time we raised the bird feeder a bit, wouldn't you?

"Hey! Save some for the birds!"

THANK YOU! I really appreciate all of your kind words about my "bad day" at work that I described in my last post. Working with the public is tough as you just never know who will walk through the door and what their request or complaint will involve.  But, 99% of my library patrons are wonderful. Just to give you an example, I had a very elderly man come in the other day who wanted to see a map of Spain because his granddaughter was living and studying there for the semester. He specifically wanted to find out the location of Grenada and I promptly pointed it out and told him I had visited that very locale in 2011. He was surprised and delighted to hear that, so I told him a bit about the ancient city, (which just happened to be my favorite Spanish stop on our trip). He continued to study the map a bit longer and before he left the library he stopped at my desk and said, "I can't tell you how much you just made my day!" No, sir--you made mine :) Kindness counts!

So, on to March--windy, wild March. But, who knows--this year we could see warmer and sunnier days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!  Thanks so much for stopping by--I always enjoy reading your comments, my friends. Happy stitching! Bye for now...