Thursday, May 12, 2016

Snowmen, Sheep, and Something Slightly Strange!

Hello there, my stitching friends! How is the merry, merry month of May going for you? Our lovely April morphed into a dreary, rainy, cool May and this weekend is looking particularly gloomy. Oh well, not much I can do outside in this kind of weather (even though the weeds are taking over!) so why not spend my time stitching away inside? Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post... Although  a few of you liked my bright blue "Cookie Monster" loaner car, most of you were in agreement that you would rather be driving something else. Unfortunately, after six weeks, I'm still driving it and have already put over 1200 miles on it! Looks like it will be a while before the airbag on my Honda CRV will be replaced...

So, what have I been stitching this month? Well, snowmen and sheep! As you know, my monthly Christmas ornament theme for 2016 is snowmen and I've just finished Mr. April and Mr. May. April's design is from The Drawn Thread's "The Joys of Christmas" chart. 

"Joy" snowman by The Drawn Thread

I used some sort of dark 32 ct. mystery linen that I had in my stash (love how the white shows up on it) and an assortment of Dinky Dyes and DMC. I had to substitute some of the Dinky Dyes because the suggested colors looked nothing like those on the front of the chart... Isn't he a cutie? This one stitched up very quickly and there are five more "Joy" themed designs in this wonderful chart that I know I'll be stitching, too. Here is my final finish, all ready for my Christmas tree in December.

The Drawn Thread: "Joy" snowman finish

For May, I returned to my favorite comfort stitching designer--Prairie Schooler. This snowman  is part of the "Evergreen" (Book No. 202) chart which has eight additional designs. Don't you love his little grin? I did change a few of the colors on the broom, his nose, and the red color. I also stitched the cardinal holding the berry branch rather than as part of the border.

Prairie Schooler "Evergreen" snowman

My May snowman is stitched on 40 ct. Country Mocha Newcastle--a great mottled fabric as you can see in the photo above. This is another good fabric to use when stitching with white. For the finish, I combined three fabrics, a wooden button, and some mini black ric rak. Really love how this one turned out!

"Evergreen" snowman finish (Prairie Schooler)

So, I'm caught up with my monthly snowman challenge--only seven more to go. Still can't believe how quickly this year is flying by!

My friend, Robin in Virginia, celebrates her birthday on May 14th so I sent her a little stitched pillow. This sweet Little House Needleworks chart was free with the purchase of three Classic Colorworks threads: Prairie Grass, Shabby Sheep, and Sugar Plum. I wish my photo was better (a gray day is not conducive to good photography!)--the floss colors are so beautiful in real life. I stitched the sheep with the Shabby Sheep thread in a sort of swirly pattern rather than straight across--really like the final look...

Little House Needleworks "Welcome Spring"

This one is stitched on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle  with the suggested Classic Colorworks threads. I wanted the sheep's head and legs darker so I chose DMC 3371 and I substituted DMC 729 for the gold in the flower centers. I also omitted the five charted stitched bees and added a single bee charm. Robin loved her gift and I want to wish her a wonderful year ahead!

"Welcome Spring" pillow finish

More Birthday greetings! Robin's May 14th birthday is very special to me because it is also my mom's birthday! Happy 89th, Mom--I love you so much!! My siblings and I pooled our money and bought her a lift chair to help her stand up easier, but I still wanted to send her some money so she could purchase some pretty flowers for her balcony. Rather than just stick a $50.00 bill in an envelope, I found this easy video tutorial for an origami dollar bill in a fancy heart shape.  Isn't it cute? The hard part will be unfolding it to actually use it! Anyway, I hope your birthday is special for you mom--you always made my birthdays so great by letting me choose my favorite meal (spaghetti and meatballs and Tunnel of Fudge cake!). The older I get, the more I appreciate all my mom did for me--thanks, mom!! I treasure you so very much...

Happy, Happy Birthday dear Mom!! XXXOOO

My sons thoroughly spoiled me for Mother's Day. The youngest couldn't be here as he was busy writing his final paper to complete his Master's program at George Washington Univeristy.  Luckily, we were able to visit him the previous weekend (more about that further down). He knows I love my sweets and sent this tasty sampler of goodies from Georgetown Cupcakes. Which would you choose? I had to eat that fluffy coconut creation first, followed by the chocolate peanut butter. My husband chose the lime and the carrot cake and the rest were taken to my older sons' apartment for Mother's Day dessert after dinner on Sunday.

Bet you can't eat just one!

My two older sons (with help from their girlfriends!) prepared a tasty eggplant parmesan dinner for me followed by some lovely gifts. From the oldest and his girlfriend came this beautiful bouquet (along with a gift certificate to 123 Stitch--yay!!!).

Such a beautiful color combination

And my middle son presented me with some chocolates and this lovely pink hibiscus plant for my patio. I really enjoy getting potted flowers and plants as gifts--they have such a long life (well, depending on how well I care for them!). 

Pretty in pink hibiscus from my middle son

And I spoiled myself a bit on Mother's Day, too! I "needed" a few more snowman charts for my monthly ornament challenge and while shopping online for them, these other goodies mysteriously hopped into my shopping cart! I just love buying the Moda charm packs with their tiny prints to use for my ornament finishing. I also found these wonderful little wool squares to use on some winter designs. 

Washington, DC trip... As I mentioned earlier, my husband I took a road trip (just a 4 hour drive) to Washington, DC in early May to visit our youngest son. The weather was quite chilly, but that didn't stop us from making the rounds and seeing some of the monuments...  I am always so impressed with how clean that city is--honestly, with all of the tourists and traffic, you would expect lots of litter, but, no, it is amazingly litter-free. Although we've seen the monuments many, many times (we lived down in the DC area for a year in the late '80s), I never tire of them.

The Lincoln Memorial

View from the Lincoln Memorial of The Washington Monument

The White House on a gray day

The U.S. Treasury Building

We also spent time at the Renwick Gallery and marveled at their awe-inspiring "Wonder" installations. There were nine rooms filled with jaw-droppingly beautiful works. This rainbow colored work by Gabriel Dawe was one of our favorites... It should have special appeal to all of my stitching friends, too, as it is made up of 60 miles of embroidery thread! Yes, can you believe it? If you want to read more about this beauty, click here

In an exhibit that reminded me of the hoodoos  we saw on a visit to Bryce Canyon national park back in the year 2000, Tara Donovan used approximately one million index cards to create 10 towering spirals that filled an entire room. Can you imagine the hours it must have taken to build each little "mountain?"

Here is a close-up for you:

I'm not going to show you each exhibit, but I couldn't leave without sharing my photos from the most unusual art installation I have ever seen in my life: Jennifer Angus's "In the Midnight Garden." At first glance, you think you are entering a pretty pink room with unusual wallpaper, right? 

But, take a closer look--each motif is made up of insects. At first I assumed they were fake, but no--these are real giant insects from Malaysia, Thailand, and Papua, New Guinea. The artist uses farmed insects whenever possible and re-uses them in different displays. This exhibit is bound to bring up debates on the ethics of using once-living things as art; you can read the artist's take on the ethics of her insect art here.

None are endangered--they are actually quite abundant. For those of you who are brave enough to take a peek--here are some close-ups...

I found these guys especially creepy!!

I don't think I'll be traveling to Thailand, Malaysia, or Papua, New Guinea any time soon!

Even under the wainscoting, a pattern of giant locusts adorned the pink wall...

Just look at the long legs on these fellows--yikes!!

In the center of the room was a hive and an old wooden chest with drawers filled with dried insects. The whole whole exhibit was fascinating (but, just a bit creepy, truth be told!).

I am continually amazed at the imaginations of artists.Those who can fill our minds with that feeling of wonder like the exhibitions I saw at the Renwick Gallery are truly inspirational...

I hope you enjoyed my post today--another long one, that's for sure!  I do hope to be back with my Patagonia trip photos in a couple of weeks. I keep procrastinating in editing them for some reason!

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment--I know what a busy time of year this is for all of you...  And for those of you who have asked me questions on previous posts,  please, please include your email address. I have so many of you who comment and ask questions, but I have no way to get back to you without your email address. I'm not being rude--I just can't reply unless you include your contact information. Bye for now...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baskets of blues and browns

Well, I didn't plan on being gone this long! Three weeks since my last post--where have the days gone? I hope you've all enjoyed a lovely April so far? Ours has been delightful with a string of warm, sunny days over the past week. That is coming to an end today, but we do need the predicted rain so it's all good. I want to thank all of you who commented on my last post and also those of you who took the time to email me to let me know you enjoy my blog even though you don't comment. That means the world to me... You see, when you write a blog post, you are taking a chance and putting a part of your private life out there for the world to see. For a quiet, introvert like me, that is quite daunting at times. Oh, sure, I could make my blog private, but one of the best parts of blogging are the friendships that have sprouted up all over the world between myself and my readers--and I treasure those. So, it is truly heart-warming to read your supportive comments and emails--they keep me blogging!

I didn't realize, until I began photographing my latest finishes, that they have three things in common: baskets, blues, and browns! Blue and brown has become one of my favorite color combinations to use in my stitching and I'm so pleased with how the finishes I have to share with you today, turned out...

You all know I love bunnies, right? We've been lucky to see several in our backyard this spring; in fact, I saw the first one hopping across the lawn on Easter morning! This With Thy Needle and Thread design is called "Spring Greeting Bouquet" and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the bunny nestled among the prettiest blue flowers. Well, I fell in love with everything except the French Knotted flowers--yikes!! But, I just did my best and am pretty pleased with the outcome. I ordinarily stitch in hand, but to do the French Knots, I found that using a small hoop for this design helped immensely.  It is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle with a mixture of DMC and overdyeds. I added the series of small x's on the top and bottom of the basket after seeing this finish on this pretty French blog. It adds so much, don't you think?

Spring Greetings Bouquet

I decided an Easter egg shaped finish would be perfect and with the addition of some ruched blue ribbon, some pearly headed pins, and a gingham bow it all came together quite nicely. Sweet, isn't it? I can just see him perched in my Easter basket of bunny finishes for years to come. That is one thing I love about stitching small things... As we downsize in the future and move to a smaller home, I can easily move and display these wherever we end up.

Another blue and brown finish came in the form of this sweet freebie from Cathy's wonderful French blog: Le Chalet des Pérelles.  It stitched up very quickly on 32 ct. sage Jobelan using the suggested colors (which look far more muted in real life than are showing up on my computer screen for some reason!).

Le Chalet des Pérelles freebie

I found some fabric which mimicked the look of the basket so I thought it would be a nice accent to the front and back of the little pillow along with various shades of blue in the ric rak and cording. A quick, easy addition to next year's Easter basket!

And finally, a blue and brown piece I've wanted to stitch for a while: Tralala's "Carré ABC Bouquet." This one will be framed (at some point--hopefully!) and hung in my family room. I used 40 ct. Birch Newcastle linen with most of the suggested threads. I did substitute a couple of the colors for those I already owned.

Tralala's "Carré ABC Bouquet"

Here are all three together. I've fallen in love with the blue/brown combo. How about you--do you have a favorite color combination that you enjoy stitching with?

A trio of blue and brown finishes

As much as I love blue, there has been one big blue "thing" that has recently come into my life that I'm not so happy about. You see, my 2010 Honda CRV has been recalled due to the life-threatening airbag issue that has hit so many of the Japanese cars. Not a problem if there is a replacement available right away, but we were told that the new safe airbags would not be available for three to five months and to stop driving the car immediately! Thankfully, Honda has given us a "loaner" car for the duration of our wait. Although I'm very grateful for that, I thought I would die when the car dealer led us to this bright "look at me!!" blue Subaru that I will have to drive for the next few months... It is even brighter than it appears in my photo and in addition to the color, it has large advertising across the front and back windshields for the car dealership along with the logo: "Subaru: Driven To Be Better." I've been wearing sunglasses and a floppy hat, trying to disguise myself, each time I drive it! Well, that is a slight exaggeration, but I do feel like no one can ignore this car. One good thing, I never have a problem spotting it in parking lots!

Yes, it is bright, bright, bright blue--yikes!!

My younger coworkers think the wild blue color is great, but for this reserved,  61-year-old librarian, it is just a bit too "loud." In fact, I think it bears a striking resemblance to this fellow. How about you? Anyway, I'd like to give a shout-out to Honda--they have handled this whole airbag recall with integrity. It must be costing them a fortune to provide loaner cars to all those affected for such a long period of time...

Cookie Monster would love my loaner car!

Uruguay photos...  I'm finally getting back to my Argentina trip photos... Are you ready for Part III: Uruguay?  Quick, do any of you know the exact location of Uruguay without looking at a map? I sure didn't until we took our Argentina trip.  It is a tiny country sandwiched in between two of the world's largest countries (by geographical area):  Brazil (Number 5) and Argentina (Number 8).  (Can you name the top ten countries by area? I was so surprised by Number 9 in this list!)  Uruguay is the little country in orange on the right side of this map of South America.

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, it is just a one hour ferry ride across the The Río de la Plata to the historic town of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. This UNESCO World Heritage Sight was founded in 1680 by Portugal, but was the subject of disputes between Portugal and Spain until 1828 when Uruguay became an independent country.  To enter the historic area, you cross a footbridge into the gates of the stone wall which helped protect the city from invaders.

Here is a closer view of the ancient wall leading down to the river.

A view of The Río de la Plata which separates Buenos Aires from Uruguay.

The Río de la Plata is very brown in color due to pollution and an abundance of river sediment.

The weather was perfect for our day-trip to Colonia del Sacramento with a brilliant blue sky and temperatures in the low 80s. It was probably the best weather we had on our entire trip. Uruguay has a mild, humid sub-tropical climate much like that of Florida so you saw some wonderful flowering things.

This red flower, Erythrina crista-galli, commonly called the "ceibo,"  is the national flower of Uruguay. They grow on small trees.

The cotton-like fluff found on the Kapok trees can be used as stuffing for pillows and toys.

This multi-hued beauty, the Lantana camera flower, was my favorite--so many pretty colors on one bloom!

And, of course, the lavender colored Jacaranda trees were all in bloom in November--so lovely!

The well-worn streets of Colonia del Sacramento were lined with old stone buildings--very charming.

Buen Suspiro is a restaurant still open to the public...

People still reside in this ancient town, it is not just for tourists. This was one of the nicer residences.

I can just imagine the clip-clop of the horse's hooves that once pulled this old wagon up and down the hilly streets.

A close-up of one of the cobblestone streets.

Crumbling stones and rusty gates added to the charm of  the town.

The lighthouse, El Faro de Colonia del Sacramento, was built over the ruins of the old San Francisco Xavier convent in 1857. 

For a small fee, visitors can climb to the top...

From the top of the lighthouse, we had a bird's-eye view of the surrounding town...

...and out to the river. You can get a great look at the old stone wall that once protected the town in the distance.

One of the most unusual sights in  Colonia del Sacremento were these decrepit cars parked along the streets. 

This ancient black jalopy even had a garden growing out of it!

I'm not sure what era they were from, but the old roadsters certainly made good conversation pieces.

Looking up the street you can spot the twin towers of the local church.

The parish of the Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento was established in 1680, but the church has undergone multiple renovations... 

The interior is so simple and peaceful... The birds add an unusual touch, don't they?

After a full day at Colonia del Sacramento, we headed back on the ferry boat to our apartment in Buenos Aires. You can spy the city's skyline in the distance. 

I hope you enjoyed my Uruguay travelogue and photos. The next--and final--stop:  Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia!! My very favorite place on our South American adventure. It will take a while to sort through my photos, but I'll try to have them posted by the end of May.  

Thanks again for visiting me and a special thanks for those of you who take a few minutes to comment! Wishing you each a great day with at least a bit of stitching time thrown in... Bye for now...

A new visitor to our suet feeder: The Carolina Wren