Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May Blooms

Good morning, my stitching friends! I hope all of you here in the U.S. enjoyed a relaxing and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend. I was so happy to have my youngest son home from Washington, DC. for four days--I hadn't seen him since early February, so it was the first time all five of us had been together in nearly four months. How I enjoy watching my three now grown "boys" together--they always have me in stitches with their antics, teasing, funny songs, and family jokes. In between visiting with them and cooking and cooking and cooking (I'd forgotten how much food four males can put away!!), I did manage to put the finishing touches on my bowl of May smalls...

May Blooms

First up, is Bent Creek's "May Blooms" which looks nothing like the original which you can see here. Do you ever work backward and pick your colors based on how you want to finish a piece? Well, that's exactly what I did with this one. I had this gorgeous piece of blue and yellow fabric which I wanted to use for the finish so I chose my thread colors based on that... It is stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle linen using a variety of blue and yellow overdyed threads from my stash. I finished it into a flat-mounted ornament and tied some pretty yellow cording around it to finish it off. You all know blue and yellow is my favorite color combination, so you can imagine how happy I am with this finish!

Nest Under the Flowers freebie

My next finish, is a freebie called "Nid Sour les Fleurs" (Nest Under the Flowers) from the wonderful blog Le Chalet des Perelles which can be seen right here. The chart can be obtained by emailing a request to its talented designer, Cathy. (Look in the right sidebar under "Contactez l'auteur" to send an email to her.) This one is stitched with DMC on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen. I seem to be stitching a lot on 40 ct. lately--it seems so much easier because you just have to use one thread and there are no worries about the threads getting twisted. This one is finished up as a small pillow and accented with a ruched ribbon made of dusty blue satin...so sweet.

Buttercup Sampler

The flowery finish which was my next choice to be included in my May bowl, is "Buttercup Alphabet" by The Victoria Sampler. Don't you love buttercups--so sunny and bright! When you were a child, did you used to do hold them under your chin? If you saw their reflection that meant that you "liked butter"--remember? Come on--who doesn't like butter!! I only had one of the overdyed threads suggested for this finish so I substituted similar colors from my collection of Nina's Hand Dyed and Sampler Threads and I'm very pleased with the result. To me, this almost looks like a watercolor painting--do any of you see that effect in the flowers? Buttercup Alphabet is stitched over one on 28 ct. cream cashel linen and finished off with a soft yellow and white flower print and rope trim.

"Lavanda" freebie

Finally, another freebie finish called "Lavanda" by Luli which can be found right here. For this finish (stitched with the suggested DMC colors on 40 ct. white Newcastle linen), I did something a bit different. I sewed a small loop of pink ribbon in the middle, added a trio of pastel bows, and placed a bouquet of tiny flowers inside the ribbon. Ideally, these would be dried lavender, but not having any right now, I simply inserted a few sprigs of pink coral bells for the photo. What do you think?

Below are my four latest May finishes along with the two I showed you in my last post:

And here are all six--displayed in the bowl along with some of the prettiest clematis blooms which are growing in our yard... I'm so pleased that I've been able to keep this bowl filled with new finishes each month so far this year. I already have a theme in mind for June--can anyone guess what I'll be stitching?

I received a surprise gift from dear Brenda at Brenda's Stitching last week. I mentioned, in a comment on her blog, that I had never used chenille trim and she kindly sent some to me to try it out on some of my little pillows! I just love the colors you chose, Brenda, and think they will be great accents--especially for some of my to-be-stitched fall pieces! Thank you so much, my friend--you really made me smile. If you haven't visited Brenda's blog--please check it out. Her work is not only beautifully stitched, but perfectly finished as well!

So did you do anything especially fun over the long Memorial Day weekend? I did something I hadn't done in 30 years--yes 30 long years!! I rode a bike! The last time I was on a bike was when I was pregnant with my oldest son three decades ago. We took a trip to Cape Cod and spent many relaxing afternoons just biking around the island. My husband is an avid cyclist who often rides 50 or even 100 miles at a time. He's been after me to give it a try, so this weekend all the guys convinced me that now was the time. It was a bit scary and I was slightly wobbly at first, but I so enjoyed it! We ended up riding over 17 miles (which in Pittsburgh, with it's hilly terrain is not the easiest riding!) and although I may not be sitting comfortably on hard wooden chairs for a few days, I think this may be the start of a new interest. When we returned from our ride we all indulged in these goodies...probably the best brownie recipe I've ever tried. If you love fudgy, ooey-gooey brownies like we do, check out this recipe for "Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies." Oh, my!! Believe me, I'll have to add more miles onto my daily treadmill workouts to get rid of the calories from those chocolatey treats, but, they were so worth it!

Thank you for all of your kind comments on my last post... You were so very supportive and understanding about my sadness at having to clean out my childhood home. It was a long, tiring, and emotional weekend, but we got the job done and I'll post soon about some of the treasures I found in the old attic--I think you'll enjoy them! Have a joyful week, my friends, and I hope you find some time each day to stitch and create--even if just for a few minutes. It is so good for the soul. Bye for now...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Two Finishes on a Special Day

Wow! Isn't it hard to believe we are almost half-way through the merry, merry month of May? I hope your month is going well and you're managing to fit some stitching time in on top of all the gardening and outside chores that seem to demand so much of our attention this time of year. I only have two small finishes to share with you, both of which will become part of my bowl of May smalls which I've been slowly working on...

First up, is this darling spring scene from Prairie Schooler's Book No. 69: "A Prairie Village I." When I saw this, I knew it was the perfect thing for me because of the pond and the swimming swans. As most of my long time readers know, our backyard pond is a constant attraction for birds--especially herons and ducks (no, we've never had a swan!!). I just loved everything about this one--even that crazy looking creature racing up the tree. Is it a mutant squirrel or a crazy fox? My middle son thought it resembled a tiny horse!

I've always loved small yellow houses, so the only change I made to this chart's suggested DMC colors was to make the house a bit more yellow by substituting DMC 676. It is stitched "over one" on cream Monaco fabric (can't say enough how easy it is to stitch over one on Monaco--I love that stuff!). I had originally thought of a gingham fabric to pair with the toffee colored ric rak, but when I held the yellow and brown polka dot material up to my stitching, I knew I had found the perfect accent. Thanks to my dear friend, Lois, who sent this fun fabric to me last year--I'm so happy I finally found a lovely use for it.

I think the little squirrels that visit my yard are much cuter than the one in my stitching, don't you? They've had the best time all spring sitting under the bird feeder and hungrily chowing down on all the seed spilled by their feathered friends! Sometimes, the ducks even waddle the 50 yards from the pond to the bird feeder and join in on the fun. Partners in crime, I'd say! Just look at that sneaky cardinal (in the photo on the right) tilting the bird feeder so the food drops down to his pals the ducks...Mr. Duck is always so protective and watchful while Mrs. Duck eats first--a perfect gentleman!

May 14, 2012...a very special event happened 85 years ago today. My dear mother came into this world and quickly became the apple of her father's eye! In honor of mom and her birthday month, I stitched this little Lily of the Valley pillow. You see, when I was growing up and learning to bake, one of my favorite things to make was cakes. Mom's birthday cake, since it fell in mid-May, always included Lily of the Valley and tiny purple violets sprinkled over the top. Lily of the Valley will forever remind me of my sweet mom. I'll be thinking of you today, mom, and hoping you have a most ♫♪♫ HAPPY BIRTHDAY ♫♪♫ !!

This is a freebie from Les Chroniques de Frimousse which you can find by clicking here. As you can see (if you look at the original chart), I substituted the lady bugs that were charted for some pale pink Algerian Eye stitches with pink beads sewn in the middle. I just wanted a more feminine, spring look...I've always loved gray and pink as a color combination, so I stitched this on 32 ct. gray touchstone linen with the DMC colors white, 225, and 367. I tufted it in the center with a square shell button, turned it on the diagonal, added some handmade cording and a soft pink ribbon and...voilà! A beautiful ornament in honor of my beautiful mom...

Best Laid Plans...Do you ever have days when all your plans go out the window all because of a single event? Well, we had one of those this past Saturday. It all started with what was supposed to be a quick trip to a plant sale that a local garden club was having. After we purchased some geraniums, snapdragons, and petunias, we made our way to Lowe's to buy some ferns to hang on our front porch. Once there, our plans for the entire day suddenly changed when we both fell in love with this wispy Japanese Maple tree. Once we got the tree home, we realized, that in order to showcase it, we would have to dig up our entire patio garden and move and divide, all of the plants and rocks (except the ferns growing against the fence and the hydrangea which remained in their old locations). Whew! What a job... But, we are so pleased with the result! We still have a few "bare spots" to fill in, but it makes us smile every time we look out at it... Below you can see a collage of all of our hard work after it was freshly mulched and watered.. The Japanese Maple tree is now a lovely focal point in our garden and I can even enjoy it from my kitchen window while washing the dishes.

Purples and pink blooms seem to be popping up all over our yard this month...Below are two varieties of Clematis, Korean lilacs, chive blossoms, and a bright fuchsia rhododendron (complete with a buzzing bumble bee). What a glorious time of year!

I hope all of you moms out there had a lovely Mother's Day yesterday.. Only my middle son was able to visit (the oldest was enroute to Canada where he spends half of each month working on a wind energy project for the province of New Brunswick and the youngest was hard at work in Washington, DC.), but one is better than none, right? I received some very sweet gifts (oldest son's gift is a new eggplant colored iPad case which hasn't arrived yet and my middle son gifted me with a 123 Stitch gift certificate-yippee!!) and lovely flowers (the yellow blooms are from my oldest son and the fuchsia and white arrangement came from my youngest). I'm so proud to be your mom, guys--thanks for all the smiles you've brought me through the years.

I thought all of you would really enjoy seeing a close-up of the cute card that my middle son picked out for Mother's Day. Perfect for us stitchers wouldn't you say? I just love it and think it is so thoughtful of him to choose a card that reflected my love of stitching!

I also want to thank a new blogging friend, Barb, who sent me a gift representative of her beautiful state of Washington. Isn't this the prettiest coffee mug ever? I just love the pretty umbrella covered figures, Barb, and plan on taking it to work with me to use in my office. If you haven't visited Barb's "Wicked Stitcher" blog yet, head on over--she has some lovely stitching as well as the prettiest nature pictures of her beautiful state. Thank you again, my friend--your gift is almost too pretty to use (almost!).

Looks like a busy week ahead for me with more work hours than normal, a mandatory In-Service Day, and then a trip up to New York to clean out my childhood home which was recently sold (in less than a week!). I'm sure that will be a very bittersweet time for me and my siblings...I get pretty misty-eyed just thinking about saying goodbye to it and the small town where I spent so many happy years. Wish me luck...

I want to thank each of you for stopping by to visit me today; I wish you a week filled with smiles and time for stitching! Bye for now...