Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stitching Snowmen In This Horrid Heat

Hello, hello! I've been away much too long and I've missed all of you! July is one of our two busiest family months (May being the other) and in between traveling to New York to visit my mom and preparing for our annual week at the beach, I've had little stitching time. But, to be honest with you, I think this heat is just zapping any energy that I normally have for stitching. The humidity has been horrid and it seems to take me so much longer to do even the simplest things around the house when it's like this. We do have air-conditioning, thank goodness, but this heat and humidity still just make me want to sit and read rather than stitch. 

I've been keeping up with my monthly snowman challenge and have two cuties to share with you today. My July ornament is from Grandma Kringles and is called "Winter's Frost." I used 40 ct. Country Mocha Newcastle linen for this one along with a mixture of overdyed threads. I think the white shows up quite well on this particular fabric which is one reason I chose it.

"Winter's Frost"

To finish him off, I added a rusty bell on his collar and used some fabric from the Woolies Flannel Charm Pack which I added to my stash a couple months ago. I just love it--reminds me of a cozy man's shirt or cuddly blanket material. The gold cording is made using DMC 420. I didn't have enough of the flannel for the backing, but, luckily, I had a heavy cotton napkin in the perfect shade to use. I stock up on cloth napkins for backing material whenever they are on sale at Kohl's.

July snowman ornament all finished up!

And for my June ornament, I finally finished this quartet of smiling snowmen from Country Cottage Needleworks (the design is called "Snowmen"). This was a large design so to make it ornament sized I had to stitch it over one on a 32 ct. mystery dusty blue evenweave. I also left off the bottom border that was charted (the same pine boughs that are in the top border).  This gave me a tiny 2" x 4" ornament--perfect!

Country Cottage Needleworks "Snowmen"

Now, seriously, who can resist their little grins? Rather than cross stitching the mouths, I just used straight stitches since I was working on such a tiny scale. And here is the finished ornament--a little pillow with ruched ribbon trim, a gauzy hanger, and three miniature jingle bells. What do you think?

June snowman ornament finish

I'm currently working on a gift for a friend so I can't show you that, but I hope to begin a larger piece soon. I just need a nice design with simple DMC threads--no thoughts about converting fibers and such. Time to go stash-diving and see what I come up with!

Sonnenberg Gardens... When my husband and I visited my mom in mid-July, we took advantage of an almost perfect weather day (mid-70s, low humidity) to visit historic Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion in Canandaigua, New York. The home is over 125 years old and sits on 50 acres of land.  This was the summer home (Sonnenberg means "Sunny Hill" in German) for the Thompson family. Frederick Ferris Thompson was the founder of what is now Citibank and Mary, his wife, was from Canandaigua, so they chose that location to escape the city heat each summer. The acreage includes gardens in many different styles including a Japanese garden, rock garden, Italian garden, pansy garden, and moonlight garden. I took a lot of photos that day! Here are some of my favorites...

Sonnenberg Mansion: 40 rooms of Queen Anne style beauty

The library, my favorite room in the mansion (of course!!)

Another view of the library

The sewing room was off a main bedroom

A cozy bedroom featuring a crazy quilt

Close-up of the lovely embroidery on the crazy quilt

Loved the title of this vintage book resting on a nightstand!

I couldn't help but notice how teeny-tiny all of the dresses were! I'm quite petite, but there is no way I could fit into any of the dresses that were on display throughout the house...

A view of the Italian Garden from the second floor porch. Unfortunately, due to lack of rain in the area, all of the grassy areas were very brown and burned out.

The rose garden in July; past its prime, but still lovely!

This Buddha was featured in the Japanese Garden.

Stairs in the rock garden that led up to a rocky perch to relax, enjoy nature, and simply watch the world go by.

Of course, the Blue and White Garden was my favorite!

Lovely statues were scattered throughout the grounds.

Such a wonderful glimpse into a bygone era!

Instagram--Well, I took the plunge and joined Instagram! I honestly did it just to be able to see my son's travel photos from China, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia (where he is now--he'll fly home on Friday). But, once I got there, I discovered so, so many old blogging friends were now using Instagram sharing their beautiful stitching that I couldn't resist following them, too! It was like a reunion--I was so happy to reconnect with them and see what they've been up to... I've even posted a couple of my own photos so if you would like to follow me, my user name is caroling55. And if you are on Instagram--let me know and I'll look for you, too! I can see why folks enjoy it as it is so much easier and quicker than pulling a blog post together. But, I do like the blogging format, too, so I don't plan on giving my blog up any time soon. 

Birthday boys... My husband and youngest son have July birthdays within 5 days of each other so when my son decided to pay us a surprise visit on his birthday, I quickly whipped up this small carrot cake. I made a tiny banner from one I printed off the internet, added a couple of signs denoting their ages, and a few candles. It was so, so tasty!

A birthday cake for two very special guys...

And on the 23rd, my husband and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary! Well, I use the term "celebrated" very loosely because he was on a charity bike ride for multiple sclerosis for the entire weekend. But, he promised me that our 40th anniversary next July will be marked by a special trip... Hmm... where should we go? Where would you go for an anniversary milestone? Our two older sons and their girlfriends gave us this wonderful summery bouquet to commemorate our special day...

Anniversary flowers for 39 years of marriage

So, that about wraps up my busy month--oh, except for the new babies that have arrived at our house! No, not human babies--little bitty robins! If you are long time readers of Stitching Dreams, you may recall that robins built a nest on our front door wreath before (you can read about it in this post). They try each and every year to build there, so we usually bring the wreath inside during the spring and early summer to foil their attempts. Well, this year, they outwitted us and built their nest in the mid-summer July heat! The eggs were already there so we couldn't remove the wreath this time. I'm happy to announce that the birds have all hatched since these photos were taken... To avoid upsetting them, the front door is off limits and we just enter our house through the garage. 

Four new baby robins have arrived!

I am way, way behind on blog reading after this busy month, but plan on catching up today and tomorrow, so if I haven't been around to visit you in a while, I'll be popping in soon! I want to thank you all, as usual, for your very kind comments and your friendships. The stitching community is honestly one of the most supportive groups out there--aren't we the lucky ones?  Bye for now...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Popping In With Some Patriotic Finishes

Happy 4th of July! It's the final day of a nice long weekend here in the United States and I hope you've enjoyed some time with family and friends like I have. We had our 4th of July get-together with my husband's family in Ohio yesterday--delicious beef tenderloin cooked on the grill, roasted potatoes, creamed corn, strawberry-spinach salad, blueberry-banana bread, apple crisp. Yum... an all-American feast to be sure! What's on your menu for today?

Before I show you my patriotic finishes, I want to thank you so much for the wonderful comments about my previous post and my Patagonia pictures. I tend to use my blog as a kind of journal for not only my stitching, but also traveling, baking, gardening, and wildlife photos, so I'm glad that you enjoy these things just as much as photos of my stitching. Well--almost as much! I think if you're one of my regular visitors, stitching is your true passion and that is why most of you visit, right?

So, I'm happy to report that I have two new patriotic finishes for my red, white, and blue collection...  First up, is a this little cutie called "Pop" from Lizzie Kate's Yankee Doodle chart. I used the suggested colors, except for the blue (I substituted WDW's Navy) and stitched this on a 40 ct. burch Newcastle. 

Lizzie Kate: Pop!

This came out a bit larger than most of my patriotic smalls... but it still fits nicely in my corner cupboard. I used three different fabrics, some wee gold x's along the seams, and a rusty star to finish it off. The back of the pillow is the same blue and beige star-strewn fabric that is shown in the lower right.

"Pop" all finished up

This is the way I like my fireworks--on fabric! I am not a lover of loud noises and big booms so I tend to stay away from crowds and live fireworks and typically enjoy my Fourth of July nights watching "A Capitol Fourth" on television.  How about you?

I can't seem to get away from my love of stitching tiny things on black so this next finish was perfect for me... This star is from the Prairie Year-Rounds (Book No. 52) by Prairie Schooler. I used 28 ct. black Monaco and stitched it "over one" so it turned out very small--I love it!

Prairie Schooler star

I had a round finish in mind and thought that the little plate like discs that I've used in two previous finishes would be perfect for this one, too.

Prairie Schooler finish from Book No. 52

Here is my latest finish along with the Freedom Crow finish from a couple of years ago. If you'd like to read more about the little discs and the Freedom Crow finish, just click here.  I really love how crisp and clean these look when all finished up.

Two of my favorite red-white-and-blue finishes

I've tried to stitch at least two patriotic things each summer since I began my blog back in 2009 so, by now, I've developed quite a collection. During the year I keep them in a drawer of an old dresser which you can see below.

A drawer full of patriotic pillows

As most of my long-time readers know, I usually put them in a wooden bowl for display, but my bowl is now too small. So, this year, I decided to move all of them into my corner cupboard where they will spend the summer. 

Kitchen corner cupboard

I'll move in a bit so you can get a closer look...

Do you have a favorite?

Still not close enough? Here are the top two shelves...

And here's the bottom shelf...

I'll probably leave these on display until Labor Day and then change them out for fall stitching... I love the spot of color these give my kitchen--makes me almost want to stand up a salute!

I'm happy to report that my youngest son returned safely from China, tired, but filled with stories of his travels. He said it was amazing how many Chinese people came up to him and wanted to have their picture taken with him and his two friends just because they were westerners with light skin. At first, it was quite novel, but by the end of the trip he said it was a bit annoying. Just imagine being a celebrity--no thank you!! Along the way, he messaged me the sweetest photo. He was in a restaurant in Shanghai and one of the menu items was translated into "I Love You, Mom" so he snapped a photo and said it made him "think of me."  Awww...

An interesting name for a dish on a Chinese menu!

He got to spend an entire week with us before he headed back to Washington, D.C., so we heard quite a bit about his trip, but still haven't seen many photos as he wanted to edit them first. While he was on his trip, he sent this one which I'm sure all of you recognize as a small slice of the Great Wall. Have any of you been there? When I forwarded the photo to my mom she said, "I still can't believe my grandson is over in China!" How the world has shrunk with modern day travel and internet... Back when she was young, such travel would have been almost unheard of!

The Great Wall of China: June 2016

As much as my youngest enjoyed his trip, 10 days was enough for him and he couldn't wait to get back to the good old U.S.A. One son safe and sound at home, but tomorrow my middle son leaves for two weeks in Japan! Time to start worrying again... as many of you said in your comments last time: a mother never stops worrying!

So, that's it for today... I hope all of my readers here in the United States have a wonderful and safe 4th of July... And for my dear international friends, I hope this is the start of a relaxing week for each of you! Bye for now...

HAPPY 4th of JULY!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Prairie Schooler, A Present, and Patagonia Pictures

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

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

Some funky chickens

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

A large yellow and blue house

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

An old farmhouse and field

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

Village Green finish

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

Birthday gift for June

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

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

Our flight from Pittsburgh to Tierra del Fuego

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

Snow-capped Andes Mountains

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

View of the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego

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

Our hotel for three nights

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

The rocky shoreline on the Beagle Channel

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

A family of birds watches us from the rocks

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

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

Shaped by years of wind and rain

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

The horses were totally oblivious to us humans!

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

A sad looking little pony in the forest

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

Can you spot the pony in the thicket of trees?

A lovely day for a hike!

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

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

Row, row, row your boat!

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

My first view of Martillo Island!

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

Penguins, penguins, everywhere!

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

Aren't we cute?!

Some took a dip in the frigid waters...

Bath time

 While others preened and strutted about...

Notice how large his feet are!

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

Black and white as far as the eye can see

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

An abandoned sheep-shearing shed on Gable Island

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

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

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

We couldn't have asked for better weather.

View on Gable Island hike: November 2015

View of Beagle Channel

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

Estancia Harberton on Gable Island

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

An icy scene in Tierra del Fuego

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

Our snow covered path

Me, taking a breather!

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

Not the easiest hike I've been on!

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

View from the top!

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

Knitting is universal!

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

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

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

The penguin theme is everywhere in the city

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

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

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

The sun sets on Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego

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

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