Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Something To Crow About!

What a crazy week in the eastern United States--an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week?! How did all of my blogging friends fare? I feel almost guilty in reporting that we've enjoyed nothing but a string of sunny days here in western Pennsylvania while those of you along the east coast struggled with the rain and winds, floods and power outages... Many of us felt the earthquake locally (not me, however my son's office building here was evacuated!), but thank goodness there appears to be little serious damage. I wish the same could be said for Hurricane Irene. I just heard on television that the estimate of damage is between seven and ten BILLION dollars--just devastating. Anyway, I want my east coast blogging friends to know I'm thinking of you and hoping things return to normal for all of you very soon.

Well, on to more enjoyable topics--like stitching! Have you ever stumbled upon a "new to you" designer and wondered how you missed her work? That happened to me recently with "Chessie and Me" designs. How did I ever miss Bunny Sampler, Love Liberty, and Pumpkin Hill? Aren't they charming? I think a few of them will be popping into my next online shopping cart! This sweet freebie, Chessie and Me's "Bird & Flower," can be found right here. Just click on "Newsletter" in the left column, and you will find it on page three of the May 2009 issue.

This one is stitched on 32 ct. flax Belfast linen using WDW and Sampler Threads (if you're interested in the colors I used, just email me!). I found an old purple button in my button jar and topped it off with a small sage green one to accent the empty space. You could certainly fill that space with the date or your initials if you wanted to. Finally, I backed it in the fabric shown and attached a straw colored handmade cording.

I loved this "With Thy Needle and Thread" freebie when I first caught a glimpse of it two years ago and I'm so glad I finally found the time to sit down and stitch it. Brenda's free chart can be found right here. I so appreciate designers' time and effort in creating these beautiful free designs for us! This crow perched on a pumpkin uses DMC, WDW, and Crescent Colours and is stitched on 32 ct. cafe latte linen.

I originally planned on framing it, but I decided to just make a simple pinkeep out of it and top it off with a black bow and gold colored pin. The sides look a bit wonky in my photo, but they are actually pretty straight--not perfect, but "good enough" (which, by the way, is my new motto--"good enough!"--life is really too short to worry about being perfect all the time, don't you think?). Again, if anyone wants to know my color choices, please email me and I'll be happy to share them with you.

Primitive Betty offered this cute crows and sunflowers freebie back in July and I thought it would be a perfect addition to my little collection. Click here for the chart. She has so many cute freebies on her site which I'm sure most of you have seen, but for those of you who haven't, head on over and check them out.

This one is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. clay Lugana using DMC threads. I finished it into a tiny pillow with some coordinating fall leaf fabric, a black satin ribbon, and orange ric-rac. It will be a nice addition to my fall decorating, don't you think? (You can click on the photo to get a bigger view.) So are you sensing a theme here? I'm calling all of these birds "crows," but they very well could be ravens or blackbirds. Did you know that a group of crows is called a "murder" and that they are among the smartest creatures in the world? Just a bit of librarian trivia for you!

And of course, I couldn't finish off my crow stitching without including a Prairie Schooler, could I? This is from PS Book No. 132: Autumn Leaves. I stitched it on 32 ct. grey linen using DMC threads. I wasn't really sold on the darker fabric color at first, but kept stitching away and I'm quite pleased with the end result.

For this finish, I attached it to a fabric covered piece of mounting board (I applied thin batting on the top of each piece underneath the fabric) and then applied a trail of the teeniest pom-pom beading around the perimeter and attached it with just a bit of fabric glue. I'm planning on covering the back with a piece of black felt--just didn't have any on hand...

So, what did I do with all my crows? Why, I created a little fall display in my kitchen. My two older sons were over for dinner on Sunday night and just looked at me with raised eyebrows as if to say: "Crows?? Mom--really!! That's pretty weird." I'll tell you, these guys of mine just don't get me at all! But, I love them anyway, and I love my stitched crows as well. I even found a cute crow mat and metal black statue to display with them along with an older crow on a picket fence piece that I stitched back in 2009. What do you think? Cute or weird? I think they'll make a fun and whimsical September display before I put out my Halloween pieces...

And, oh, yes--I plan on adding to my crow table! Just look at what I'm stitching next! That's right--Ida Mae Crow along with her sweet husband Ira Ray. Don't you love them? I showed them to the guys and of course, they just groaned: "Those are really weird, mom!" Sigh... Do you see why I count on you, my blogging friends, for your supportive comments?

SEVILLE ~ the capital of Andalusia...
Our final stop on our European adventure was really the city that began our whole trip. You see, my youngest son studied abroad in Seville in the summer of 2009. When he returned to the U.S. with such enthusiasm for his experiences, he encouraged the whole family to travel there some day. And so the seeds for this trip were planted...

The beautiful Plaza de España was built in 1928
for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
Portions of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
were filmed here in 2000.

The lovely blue and white ceramic railings at
Plaza de España.

More detailed look at those stunning railings.

Even the bannisters were blue and white!

One of the "Alcoves of the Provinces" at Plaza de España.

Waiting for a passenger, horse-drawn carriages were a common sight.

As a librarian, I was captivated by this darling statue of
Clara Campoamor (1888-1972), a Spanish politician and feminist.
Notice the tiny mouse sitting there reading a book of his own!

The wrought-iron work was so beautiful.

Orange trees were everywhere!

A co-worker who travels a lot advised me to go "off the beaten path" a bit to get the true flavor of a city. She was right! Without wandering down some side streets, we would never have come upon this parish festival complete with a religious parade...
We followed the colorful paper flowers and came upon...

Seville children all dressed up for a religious festival and parade.

This young man is taking his job very seriously...

How sweet!

My very favorite photo of our entire trip!

View outside our hotel...such pretty colors!

Seville Cathedral, built in the 15th and
early 16th centuries, is the largest in Europe.

Inside the Seville Cathedral.

La Giralda, a former minaret that was converted
to a bell tower for the Cathedral of Seville.

Bells and views of Seville from La Giralda.

The Real Alcázar was built in the 14th century.

Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens)

Such beautiful mosaics and intricate carvings...

Gardens of the Alcázar of Seville.

This mama duck and her brood were right
at home in the middle of the garden!

Peacocks, flowers, water scenes of the gardens of Real Alcázar.

My youngest son was so right--Seville was indeed a gorgeous spot to visit. We hope to visit more of Spain's lovely cities some day. That concludes my European trip photos--thanks for coming along with me as I relived those special memories!

I want to thank Marly from Samplers and Santas who was having a stash clean-out and offered up some of her goodies in exchange for postage. I was lucky enough to win this beautiful lot of lugana--perfect for my "over one" stitching. She also included these pretty beads as well! Thank you so much, Marly; your fabric has found a good home. In fact, I already have put it to good use--it is your lugana in the little over one crows piece shown above.

Thank you for all your sweet comments on my last post--I guess everyone loves a good fireman story! As I told many of you, that will definitely go down into our family history and be told and re-told again and again. I also want to welcome my new followers...I've tried to visit your blogs and say hello, too. I am in awe that my follower numbers are approaching 500--sounds like a giveaway should be coming soon, doesn't it? Let's all hope this week brings no more natural disasters for any of us...Have a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend, and thank you again for your friendship, comments, and emails--I can't even begin to tell you how much they mean to me. Bye for now...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finishes, Flowers, and Firemen

Good morning everyone; it's good to be "back!" Thank you to everyone who emailed me wondering if I was all right...I'm fine; it has just been one crazy-busy three week period since my last post. I've spent a good deal of time up in New York visiting and helping out my parents after my dad's surgery. He came through it nicely, I'm happy to report. Thank you to all who asked about him...

The second thing that has taken up much of my time is trying to get my youngest son's room packed up. You see, he was offered a job in Washington, D.C. which began on August 1st. We're so proud of him--guess all that hard work in college really paid off! Anyway, he is down there and his furniture, books, etc. are up here in Pennsylvania. So guess who gets to sort it all out and prepare it for the movers?? Yep--good old mom! Oh, my--what a lot of "stuff" has accumulated during the 23 years he lived in that small bedroom. I'm about half-way done now and am to the point where I need to get him on the phone and ask him, "Do you want this, do you want that?" It's a good feeling, though, and I'm gaining another closet to put my stuff in! What do you think...should I turn his old bedroom into my craft room?

Finally, I've been working extra hours at the library--taking training classes in all the new electronic reference databases that keep popping up every other week. Honestly, I'm too old for this--my rapidly-aging brain just can't process all these changes very quickly any more. We just learn how to do something one way, and the next week the process has changed. With the explosion of e-readers we are constantly being asked to help patrons through the download process. How many of you have an e-reader? I love, love, love my Kindle! The new gadgets are great, but sometimes I long for the ease of simpler days when there were no cell phones, e-readers, I-pods, etc. I guess I'm just a bit nostalgic for those days when people seemed to spend more time with each other rather than with something electronic...

Through all this craziness, I have managed to squeak in a bit of stitching time and have a couple of new things to show you. First up is the LHN "Silent Night" ornament which I stitched on 32 ct. twilight blue Permin linen. I used all of the suggested colors except I substituted DMC 712 and used it for the snow, stars, and lettering. I also stitched an extra large star in the upper right corner. Was I being creative? No--I counted my star placements incorrectly and was left with a large spot of blue sky so I simply filled it in with a big star...

I finished it with a simple beaded edge using ivory colored Mill Hill beads. Boy, are those beaded edges time consuming--at least for me! But, I love the finished look and think it will be a great addition to my tree this December. This was my ornament for July--I finished the stitching last month, but just now got around to the finishing. Still have to finish my August ornament, but I'm almost there.

If this bunny finish looks familiar, it's because I stitched him once before earlier this year. You can see him right here. The difference is...this one is half the size! Yes, it's stitched "over one" on 28 ct. clay lugana and is from Prairie Schooler's Book No. 13 "A Prairie Year." I used the suggested DMC threads and decided to finish it into a tiny pillow.

This brown-dotted pale pink fabric seemed to be a perfect complement to the colors in the design and I topped it off with a little flower made of a pair of pink and white buttons (my middle son claims it resembles a pig nose--honestly, these guys of mine!!) and some leaves made of sage green ribbon. To make the tiny leaves, I used 1/2 inch ribbon and followed this video tutorial. For my first attempt, I'm really pleased with how they turned out. Unfortunately, I'm saying farewell to this bunny...he is heading to a new home as a "Random Act of Kindness" for one of my regular commenters. Where will he end up...stay tuned!

I think I forgot to tell you where my last RAK for my regular commenters ended up? This tulip pillow was sent to Catherine at Bramblewood Stitches back in May. It ended up just across the state in eastern Pennsylvania, but my latest bunny pillow is taking a longer trip (hint! hint!). I really enjoy surprising you wonderful friends who take the time to say "hello" each time I post, so look for more RAK creations in the future.

Isn't this the most delightful bouquet? My dear husband surprised me with it after I arrived home from visiting my parents. We had been apart almost two weeks--the longest in our 34 years of marriage. I guess he missed me! I told him this was the prettiest bouquet ever--so "me" with the all-white arrangement of hydrangeas, snapdragons, statice, and some other white flower that looks like a cross between a rose and a carnation. Anyone have any idea what the name of those blooms are? I truly love it's old-fashioned charm--it brings to mind a time when life was simpler and less complicated, doesn't it?

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering about the "Firemen" in my post title... Well, let's just say I had a "memorable" experience the last time I visited my parents. I was making breakfast one morning and the thin-sliced bread that I was toasting accidentally burned. Immediately, I ran it under water and put it into the garbage disposal hoping to get that unpleasant odor out of the kitchen. Apparently, I wasn't quick enough. Within minutes, not one, not two, but three smoke alarms in their apartment were blaring away. You all know how piercingly-loud one alarm sounds, right? Well, imagine three screeching away at the same time. I jumped up on a chair to try to find a reset button like we have on our alarms at home--no luck. They just kept wailing on and on.

We let in the harried building managers who were pounding at the door for a crack at silencing the alarms--no luck! They said they would have to call the local fire department to turn them off because their maintenance man was off that day. Oh, no!! My face was as red as the soon to arrive firetrucks--I was so embarrassed! Within 15 minutes, two firetrucks and a half-dozen firemen showed up. Yes, all for two burned pieces of toast... The two firemen who actually came up to the apartment tried to silence the alarms, but you guessed it--no luck! They said because they were hard-wired into the ceiling, they weren't "allowed" to fiddle with them. WHAT?? By this time, the three alarms had been deafening us for close to an hour. There was no solution but to call the maintenance man at home and have him come disconnect the horrid things. Finally, after almost 1 1/2 hours of listening to the shrill sound, the maintenance man arrived, pulled the wires from the ceiling, and silence reigned. You know that old saying, "Silence is golden?" Well, I appreciate it more than ever after that crazy morning! Moral of this story--always, always check the setting on your toaster before you put the bread in...

So, that's the end of another way-too-long post! Thanks so much to all of you who have read this far... I didn't even have time to write about Seville, the last stop on our Europe trip, so I'll save that for next time. Your wonderful comments on my last post made me smile--thank you all for taking the time to visit my little corner of the world. Please come again and I hope you have a week filled with whatever makes you happiest. Bye for now...