Hello, my stitching friends! Hope you are enjoying the month of June and the start of summer. The past two weeks have proven to be busy ones around here with a whirlwind trip to Asheville, NC last weekend for a family wedding. Nine hours driving down on Friday and nine hours back on Sunday is not my idea of a fun time, but it was so nice to see relatives we hadn't seen in a while and catch up on all the family news. You know what the worst part of the trip was? I forgot to pack my stitching!! Can you believe it? I felt as if I were missing an arm or a leg or something. Just think of all those hours in the car that I could have spent stitching an ornament or two... I think I need to keep a small chart all kitted up and ready to go right in my suitcase to avoid any further "forgetful moments," don't you?
I do have a couple of cute finishes to share with you and then something even cuter that you might enjoy seeing later on in this post.
THE CUTE: My sweet friend in England, June, celebrated a birthday this month (hmmm... I wonder how she got her name?!) and I wanted to send her a little remembrance When I saw this CCN design, "Rose Cottage," I knew it was the ideal thing to stitch for June who is an avid gardener. If you haven't visited her blog, please pay her a visit--her flowers are as beautiful as her stitching. I stitched this piece "over one" on 28 ct. white evenweave with a variety of overdyeds and DMC. I didn't have the suggested overdyed threads so I just went with something similar. As luck would have it, the colors I ended up choosing coordinated perfectly with the cute polka dot fabric that I backed the little pillow with! The saying on the little pillow, "Home is where your flowers grow" is perfectly fitting for June. I'm so pleased she liked my little gift...
Country Cottage Needleworks' "Rose Cottage"
THE CUTER: My other finish is my Christmas ornament for May (yes, I'm behind again on my monthly ornament stitching, but will definitely catch up by the end of the month!). Most of you will recognize this LHN design as "Baked Goods." If you've been following my blog for a while now, you know that my other big passion, along with stitching and reading, is baking. I am the family baker for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other get-together. Now that my sons have grown and gone, I don't bake nearly as much as I did when they were home. I miss it so much, but I know I would double my weight if I kept on baking like I used to! Cookies were always my favorite thing to bake followed by muffins and breads. I only baked cakes for birthdays and pies were reserved for holidays or special occasions. But, it was a rare day that I sent my sons to school with anything other than homemade cookies in their lunch bags!
"Baked Goods" by Little House Needleworks
This one was such fun to stitch! There was only one problem--it made me crave that chocolate cupcake in the lower right corner! Doesn't that look scrumptious with the chocolate sprinkles and cherry on top? I stitched this one on 35 ct. natural Northern cross linen--one of my favorite fabrics because white shows up so well on it. I did make a few color changes as I wanted the red to coordinate better with the shade of red in the cute gingerbread fabric that I backed it with. I kept the finish fairly simple due to this being quite a "busy" design and topped it with a white bow and a gingerbread girl charm which I glued on to a red button. What do you think?
"Baked Goods" finish
THE CUTEST: Well, I have to admit to falling in love with something other than my cross stitch finishes lately. My husband and his co-workers were recently offered a behind-the-scenes tour of The Pittsburgh Zoo and spouses were invited. I didn't know what to expect, but I never expected to get so up close and personal with the most adorable baby animals I've ever seen... Not only did I see these sweet young things, but I also got to feed a giraffe and I got kissed by a sea lion--yes, kissed!!! It was such fun and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. After our tour we were treated to dinner right there at the zoo (they have their own chef) and everything was delectable.
Are you ready for the tour? I'll start with the California Sea Lions... They are such joyful animals to watch as they jump and flip and splash their way through life! We each got a chance to be kissed by one if we wanted to. Of course I said, "Yes!!"
Such a sweet face on this Sea Lion
Isn't he comical with his hair spiked?
This little guy stole our hearts and was an animal most of us had never seen--or even heard of: the Red Panda. They resemble a cross between a raccoon, a cat, and a small bear. Red Pandas eat mostly bamboo and other leafy plants and are about the size of a house cat--too cute!
The Red Panda at the Pittsburgh Zoo
I got to feed this little guy some grapes!
Next up, were the tallest land mammals on earth: the Masai Giraffes. Only one of them was brave enough to come to the gate, but I got to fee him carrots and even pet his face a bit. I never dreamed I would pet a giraffe!
How's the air up there, big guy?
OK--I'll admit this next animal does not exactly fall under the "cute" category, does she? But, the "baby" Black Rhino, who already weighs 600 pounds, was still so precious cuddling up to her huge 3,200 pound mother! There are only about 4,500 Black Rhinos remaining in the wild.
Such huge beasts!
I could have fed her a banana, but declined!
What would you have done?
On to something a lot prettier: the flamingos. We weren't able to get up close to them, but I couldn't resist photographing these delicate pink birds...
Love their reflections in the water
I've saved the two most adorable animals for last... Just look at this Amur Tiger Cub born in late March 2013! The zookeeper said he is the most valuable tiger in the United States right now--he was born to a pair of tigers borrowed from Russia and currently weighs about 25 pounds. We weren't able to touch him, but were within three feet of him.
Notice the protective gloves on the zookeeper.
Even at this young age, the tiger is very strong.
Just look at his beautiful little face!
My favorite baby animal of all was the most human-like: the Western Lowland Gorilla. This little one, born just seven weeks ago, was incredible. He had to be removed from his mother, Moka, who developed a breast infection and wasn't able to nurse him. So, he is currently being raised by humans and seems to be thriving. He'll be reintegrated with his gorilla family after he begins eating solid foods.
OK--admit it! Didn't you all just say "Awww..."
when you glanced at his dear little face?
Mr. Tough Guy!
The keepers wear protective gloves and
masks to keep him safe from human disease.
All tuckered out--time for bed, little fellow...
Did you enjoy your visit to the zoo today? I was delighted with how close I was able to get to these beautiful animals--it was an experience I'll never forget...
The birthday that just keeps going and going... My last bit of stitching related news is to thank my sweet friend, Shirlee, for a belated birthday gift. My birthday was five months ago, but that doesn't matter--I'd love to see it keep going all year! Shirlee gifted me with this cute Bent Creek Zipper Kit called "Nativity Globe" that contained the chart, some lovely blue linen, and all of the threads and charms needed to finish it. This particular kit calls for stitching with pearl cotton which I've never used before so it will be fun to give it a try. Thank you so very much, dear Shirlee--your gift made me smile. And, hey, maybe I can just keep celebrating my 58th birthday forever!
Belated birthday gift from Shirlee!
Well, that's about it for today... I have begun a couple of patriotic pieces which I hope to show you next time. Until then, happy stitching to each of you and thank you, as always, for your kind comments and emails--they always brighten my day. I want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers as well. I can't believe over 1100 of you find my little blog entertaining enough to follow. I so appreciate each of you! It has been a wonderful experience "meeting" so many of you from all around the world--we are very lucky to share a common passion that draws us together like stitching does, aren't we? Bye for now...