Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Fruitful Finish

Block # 3 of Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow is done! As most of you know, I'm trying to stitch one block each month, but I really struggled to finish this one by the end of March. I've been having trouble getting motivated to stitch lately--could it be "spring fever?" Anyone else feeling that way? When I finally thought I was all done, I took one last look at the picture on the front of the chart and realized I had stitched the colored block holding the letter "T" in the entirely wrong color! What? How on earth did I manage that (probably stitching too late at night!)... So, out came the scissors as I tore that whole part out and re-stitched it. Finally...I think (I truly hope) it's finished. Those are some crazy looking pears, aren't they? I am not a pear eater; in fact I love pears just about as much as I love green vegetables :) There is something strange in their texture that I just don't enjoy. Am I just weird or are there any other pear-haters out there?

Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow: Blocks 1-3

Our visit to the zoo on Saturday was such fun! I don't think I had been there since my sons were all little boys (and they are now in their twenties). Let me tell you, zoos have come a long, long way since then... It is so nice to see more of the animals released from their cages and able to walk around in grassy fields. I took a lot of photos and wanted to share some of my favorites. All photos are clickable so you can get a bigger picture...

Don't you love that baby elephant?

When kangaroos are born, they are the size of a bumblebee!

A comical ostrich watches a Springbok in the background.

The king of the jungle lazing in the spring sunshine.

The giraffes in the background paced back
and forth keeping a wary eye on the lioness!

By far, the most popular exhibit at the zoo was the penguins. The little kids were just delighted with them and it was hard to get close enough to the display area to manage even a brief glimpse of the delightful little black and white creatures. My favorite "exhibit," though was watching my son at his volunteer post as he taught children all about polar bears. I don't know who was having a better time--him or the kids!

Thanks so much for visiting and for taking the time to leave such wonderful, uplifting comments--I honestly treasure each one! And if anyone is still interested in signing up for my PIF, please see my previous post...

I hope things are "greening up" in your neck of the woods--it is supposed to be a lovely sunny and warm weekend here. Wishing you all a blessed Easter with your families...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pay It Forward Anyone?

Pay It Forward (PIF)~ verb: "1. to repay the good deeds one has received by doing good things for other unrelated people."

I signed up for Andrea's "Pay It Forward" in November and was rewarded with this perfectly lovely pinkeep in my mailbox this week. Andrea obviously studied my blog and realized how much I love Prairie Schooler designs! She was concerned that I may have already stitched this little parrot in his gilded cage, but I don't yet own this chart (from the Forget Me Not designer series), so she made a wonderful choice. When I showed it to my oldest son, he even said, "That looks just like something you would stitch, mom." (See, the guys are learning!!) Notice the beautiful gold braiding that Andrea trimmed it with and the "Made With Love" charm that she included on the back. She even made the lovely little card. You should be able to click on the photos for a clearer look. Andrea, everything is so "me"--you couldn't have stitched a more perfect piece! Thank you so very much. It has a place of honor in my sunroom...

And now it is my turn! Would any of you like to participate in a PIF from me? The rules are very simple. I will send a stitched gift to three people who leave a comment (on this post only) requesting to join my PIF challenge. Knowing my love of ornament making, it will most likely be an ornament, but who knows--I'll surprise you! I have 365 days to fulfill my end of the bargain. If you are chosen as one of my PIF recipients, then you must offer the same on your blog to keep the kindness going... Please specifically mention in your comment if you wish to be considered for this...If more than three people sign up, I will have a drawing for three names. I'll keep this open until April 15th.

I'm been hard at work trying to finish Block #3 of Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow by the end of March, but today I'm taking the day off and going to the Pittsburgh Zoo. I haven't visited the zoo in many years, but my animal-loving, middle son volunteers there on Saturdays so my husband and I are getting our own private tour... Hope your weekend is relaxing and stitch-filled. Thank you all for visiting me here each week--I love hearing from you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lots of Thank Yous!

Well, I won another giveaway... As many of you have suggested, I really should start playing the lottery! Believe it or not, I have never won anything in my life except these cross stitch prizes. (Well, if you check my list of "interesting" things in the blog award below, you'll see that I did win something else, but it wasn't luck related). Anyway, Barbara's beautiful prize arrived yesterday after spending 8 days in transit in the U.S. mail system. I was beginning to worry about it and I'm so happy it finally arrived safely. Barbara stitched this little "wabbit" from Sheepish Designs on the prettiest shade of peachy-pink linen using overdyed threads and trimmed it off with handmade cording and silky bows. I hope she doesn't mind if I use her photo--it is much better than the ones I tried to take in the early morning light. I love him, Barbara, and he will have a place of honor in my Easter display each spring. Thank you so much for your special gift...

I am finally getting around to thanking all of you wonderful friends who honored me with the Beautiful Blogger Award! Thank you to Cindy, Theresa, Vinniey, Meari, Gillie, and Nicole. I enjoy all of your blogs so much, too, and I really appreciate the fact that out of all the beautiful blogs in the world, you chose to honor mine. That means so much to me.

Well, by now all of you know the drill--the rules are:

1. Accept the award
2. Thank the person who gave you the award
3. Add a link to the person who gave you the award
4. Put the award on your blog
5. Write 10 things about yourself others may not know about you
6. Pass the award on to 10 others

Some of the awards said to write 7 things about myself, others said 10. Let's see how many I can come up with:

1. I was the unusual person who knew what I wanted to be very early in life. Growing up with a cozy library right around the corner from my house instilled a love of reading in me at a young age. I decided to become a librarian when I was about 12.

2. When I was 11, I decided a good summer project might be to read the biographies in the teen section from A to Z! Unfortunately, I only got through the letter "C" because the summer ended and I was too busy during the school year. So I know a lot about Abigail Adams, Clara Barton, and Grover Cleveland, but little about people whose names start with D to Z.

3. In my senior year of high school I was voted "Most All-American." Not because I was super patriotic or anything...It was just because I was that girl who was involved in everything--played alto clarinet in the band, sang in the chorus, was Homecoming Queen, involved in Drama Club, member of National Honor Society, etc. I was just a nice, well-rounded girl!

4. I was quite a "tomboy" when I was younger due to the fact that most of the kids in my neighborhood were boys. I played baseball, climbed trees, was outside with the gang every summer evening until night fell. I wouldn't carry a purse for the longest time and my dear mother had to convince me to wear a veil for my wedding! I guess it is a good thing that I had all boys, isn't it?!

5. I am very shy in groups. One on one, I can talk to just about anyone, but put me in a group and I clam up. I was always the one who sat in the back of the class, never raised my hand, and just trembled through presentations. If I was asked to give a group presentation at work, I would probably have to quit...

6. I refuse to pump my own gas. My sons all make fun of me for it, but it is just something I don't want to do! I'll take out the trash, mow the lawn, etc., but I will not put gas in my car.

7. My home won a Better Homes and Gardens remodeling contest in the late '90s. We remodeled our entire home--living in it throughout the 9 months that it took. Looking back on it, it was a great "family building" task--but, oh, it was tough. My kitchen sink was in the laundry room, refrigerator in the dining room, and stove was down in the basement! Not easy to get meals for three hungry little boys... So, winning the contest and seeing it in the magazine was really a testament to our hard work.

8. I am as blind as a bat without my glasses or contacts. I should have worn glasses from about age 9, but I cheated and memorized the eye chart so I didn't get them until a few years later!

9. I began cross stitching back in the early '80s, but quit for about 10 years when my kids weren't napping anymore (that was my stitching time). Started again in 2003 and was shocked and delighted at all of the "new to me" overdyed threads, abundance of fabrics, and amazingly detailed charts. Cross stitch had moved on and I still feel like I'm playing "catch up!"

10. Meeting all of you through my blog has been a joy. I truly value the friendships I've made and the fun I've had over the past year. You are all so inspirational and I look forward to visiting you each week to say hello.

I also received another lovely award from Vinniey , Michelle, and Cath. I am so pleased that the three of you enjoy my blog and thought it worthy of the Sunshine Award. Thank you all so very much!

The rules for this award are very simple and are as follows:

1) Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2) Pass the award to 12 bloggers.
3) Link the nominees within your post.
4) Let them know they received this award by
commenting on their blog.
5) Share the love and link to the person from
whom you received the award.

Well, for both blog awards I am taking the easy way out--I just have so many more than 10 or 12 stitching blogs that brighten my day whenever I visit them, so if I have commented on your blog lately--you are my sunshine and you all deserve these awards.

Thank you to all who shared my happiness in my DMC win last week--it is so nice to know my stitching friends are almost as excited as I was. Still trying to figure out how to organize it--any and all suggestions are welcome...

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Hi everyone! I just got home from my trip (more about that later) last night and found this giant box waiting for me. Hmm... looks pretty nondescript, doesn't it, but notice the tape with the giant "DMC" logos imprinted on it. I had been dreaming about this box all week while I was away--just imagining my feelings as I peaked inside for the first time. Some of you know and have already emailed me to say "congratulations." but, for those of you who don't--I won a giveaway. Not just any giveaway, but a giveaway on the DMC Blog for each of the 454 colors of DMC cotton Embroidery Floss 117 that DMC creates. Can you imagine how excited I was?!! Now, sharing this news with my husband and sons brought some tepid..."Oh, that's nice" comments, but I hope you, my fellow stitchers, will understand and share my excitement! So, come peak inside with me...

I love the cute little card from "Emma Broidery" herself!

A mountain of loveliness!

Thank you, thank you DMC Corporation!

I'm sure you all know what I'll be doing today! And for those of you who want a chance to win some other DMC goodies--get yourselves over to the DMC blog and sign up for their latest giveaway!

I found another stitching surprise waiting when I got home. Dear Kim at "Stitchful Thinking" had passed along the Blackbird Designs chart for "Something Sweet." I had admired her finish back in December and she kindly offered to share the chart with me! Kim, you are as sweet as the violets shown on the chart and I'll be sure to make another stitcher happy and pass it along when I'm all finished... Thank you so much, my friend!

Well, the Florida trip was a bit cooler than I would have liked, but it still was good to get away and come back to no snow left at all!!! My husband and I are lucky to have our parents to visit on each coast--mine in Daytona Beach and his in Naples. In spite of the cool and windy (and sometimes rainy) weather, we did manage to walk a few miles each day and I captured some lovely photos to share with you. We just don't see images like this in western Pennsylvania!
A green anole lounging in the grapefruit tree

A white egret perched on a fishing shack

Grapefruit trees right outside the back door!

The prettiest flowering trees

I am so behind on my blog reading and commenting, but will truly try to catch up this weekend. Tomorrow is a very special day for me--the day I became a mom 28 years ago. My oldest son came into our lives on a lovely spring day (much like today!) with that impish look on his face that has made him a constant source of amusement and amazement. I am so proud of the kind, hard-working young man he has become and I hope his next year is filled with only good things...

Whew--you are probably tired of reading by now, so I'll close with a quick picture of my latest WIP. Can anyone guess what it is? I didn't have as much stitching time while on vacation as I expected, but I hope to finish the third block of Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow to show you next week...

If you've lasted to the end of this posting--thank you, thank you! Your visits and comments mean so much to me. Have a wonderful spring-filled week everyone...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To Thee a Very Merry

We've finally had a string of gorgeous sunny days here in western Pennsylvania and I decided it was about time to brighten up my blog, too. No, the flowers shown in my new header aren't blooming yet--in fact, believe it or not, we still have quite a few inches of snow on the ground here! This photo was taken a couple of years ago right outside of my kitchen window, though, and hopefully these Johnny Jump Ups have re-seeded and will grow and bloom again very soon. Luckily, my husband and I are escaping the last days of winter--we're headed south where it is warm and sunny, and lush with palm-trees and flowering shrubs, and perky sandpipers and comical pelicans, and gentle waves and glorious sunsets, and pretty shells on sparkling sand, and...oh, you get the idea! Hopefully, by the time we return, all the remaining snow will have melted and spring will truly be here...

This week, I finished what is probably the tiniest Christmas stocking I'll ever stitch! The design, from the 2008 Just Cross Stitch ornament issue, is by Brightneedle and is called "To Thee a Very Merry." I stitched it "over one" using WDW threads and 32 ct. Country French latte linen and it measures only about 2 3/4 inches by 1 1/2 inches. The design also includes six white eyelet stitches which remind me of snowflakes. I think they add a lot to the finished piece...And don't you just love that tiny black lamb? This was my first attempt at doing anything other than a rectangular or square ornament finish and I'll have to say I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. I backed it with the fabric shown underneath and trimmed it with sage green cording and a little white bow. Try clicking on the photo for a better look...

I also want to share my new stash that I got with the gift certificates from my two generous mystery gift givers back in January. From ehandcrafts, I ordered the Blackbird Designs "Merry December" stocking chart and some Piecemaker needles. And from Stitchin' Bits and Bobs, I couldn't resist ordering Ida Mae Crow and her hubby Ira Ray. I fell in love with them when I first saw them posted on Ranae's blog last July. They are just so sweet, I couldn't resist! I also picked up the Blackbird Designs "Love is In the Air" February stockings chart. So, to both of you secret gift certificate giving friends--thank you, thank you! I still am in shock that you two would be so kind and if I knew who you were, I would give you the biggest hugs...

Your comments on my second block of Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow meant so much to me last week. And I especially loved hearing about the simple things in life that bring you smiles. I so look forward to reading your comments each morning--thank you again for taking the time to say hello...