Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Such a Perfect Day

Good morning, my blogging buddies--hope you're enjoying a perfect day, today! We had a string of perfect days, weather-wise, over the Memorial Day weekend. I can't remember a more lovely trio of sunny, warm, non-humid days--just wonderful. Of course no day is truly perfect, is it? There are those minor annoyances that invade everyone's days--for instance yesterday a crazy, deranged fly just kept attacking me repeatedly in my bedroom. Honestly, he would just fly and buzz at me over and over again. Definitely a weird experience! And then there are the oh-so-sore muscles that I'm dealing with today after a weekend of gardening (and here I thought I was in relatively good shape--ha!). No, no day is perfect, but there are definitely some days that are more perfect than others. And I was lucky enough to have one of those days last week.

My two local stitching friends, Lee and Linda, and I met at Lee's house on Friday for a wonderful day of stitching, chatting, and eating. I wanted to give them each a little something to tell them how I feel each day when I'm lucky enough to spend time with them so I stitched up this little freebie from the e-sub rosa blog called "Such A Perfect Day." This is worked on 28 ct. taupe cashel linen, over one, with the suggested threads (I found that the symbols on the chart didn't match the symbols in the key, but you'll be able to figure them out since Esther provides a colored chart, too).

Such a Perfect Day freebie

Isn't this a darling design? It makes a perfect gift for someone's special day, doesn't it? I mean it has all of the things that, for me anyway, make up a perfect day: a cozy home, singing birds, pretty flowers, and stitching supplies. Oh, and don't forget the picket fence! I used the fabric shown in the background to back my finishes and edged it with a blue handmade cording accented with those cute spools. Lee and Linda both seemed to like my gifts and I hope there will be many more "perfect days" in our future...

Another little finish I want to share with you was sent to my friend, Robin (no blog), as a birthday gift. She happens to share a birthday with my mom so how could I ever forget her special day? This is one I've stitched before for my May bowl of flower finishes back in 2012 (which you can see here).  I used the same overdyed colors and 40 ct. white Newcastle linen as in that finish, but I made it into a little pillow. Isn't this a cheery, little piece? It is so representative of the flowers that burst forth in bloom each May and I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate Robin's birthday...

Bent Creek: "May Blooms"

And I have a lovely belated birthday gift to share with you from my stitching friend, Linda. She stitched a Blackbird Designs motif in my favorite colors and then sent it on to Miss Carolina Stitcher herself, Faye, to do the final finishing. Faye came up with this pretty table mat and it couldn't be more perfect for me. I've set it on my kitchen side table right below a blue and yellow framed print and it looks wonderful. Thank you so much, Linda for your wonderful birthday gift--I'm so pleased to own a Linda-stitched and a Faye-finished piece!

Birthday gift from Linda

A lovely honor... This is hard for me to write about as I don't like talking about myself, but several of you have emailed to congratulate me on the little article that appeared about me in the June 2014 issue of the British magazine, Cross Stitch Collection so I thought I'd share it with all of you. A few months ago, a lovely lady named Rachael emailed from the magazine and asked if they could feature me and my blog in a brief article.  Since it was short and in Q&A format, I agreed, but requested that they not use my surname.  If you happen to pick up this issue of the magazine, take a peek at page five--there I am...

Rachael did a great job on the half-page article and it was quite a thrill to see some of my little pillows on display in the magazine. I love that they went with a "blue" theme, too.  I sent them a dozen photos of my creations and they selected the ones done in blues! I suppose it was to coordinate with the blue sweater that I'm wearing (taken on my 59th birthday back in January with the bouquet sent by my youngest son).  This may be the only time you'll see a photo of me on my blog so take a good look--ha ha!

I'm not one who loves the spotlight so this was a bit "out of my comfort zone," but I'm hoping that other shy stitchers will be inspired to take the plunge and create their own blogs. I explained in the interview how the experience of blogging has opened up a whole new world for me. I have to say it was a bit odd seeing my face staring back at me and being called a "stitching star," but I love the part in red that mentions my "uplifting posts." I really do try to be positive on my blog; everything is certainly not perfect in my life nor in anyone else's, but there is so much sad and bad news in the world, I like to keep things light and happy on my blog when I can...

My final statement in the article says it all: "I think the online cross stitching blogging community is very close and caring. They really are the kindest and most generous group of people I know!" You truly are and I thank you...

So, there you have it--the end of another post. I'm working on a larger, patriotic piece right now and hope to share that with you soon. It all depends on how much stitching time I get and it does seem like I have fewer hours to stitch in these warmer months--how about you? I hope you've enjoyed your visit today--thank you all so much for your kind comments on my last post and for the very helpful suggestions on teaching my niece's triplets to cross stitch. I'll let you know how it goes!  Bye for now...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Sweet Simple Things

Good morning, my stitching friends! And how is your month of May going? This has to be my favorite time of year--when the leaves are just half out on the trees. It give everything a lacy, almost dainty look, doesn't it? So delicate and new... The pinks of the crab apple trees and the whites of the dogwood are bursting out and the grass is the most brilliant shade of green here in Pennsylvania. I was sitting at my kitchen table Sunday morning thoroughly content as I read the newspaper and gazed out at our back yard filled with so many simple and beautiful things... There were the tulips blooming in the garden, our resident duck couple waddling from the pond to the bird feeder to enjoy their breakfast, the goldfinches feeding at the thistle feeder, and even an animal rarely seen in daylight around here--a large raccoon lazily walking to the pond to sip a drink. Such simple things and I love them all. It really doesn't take much to make me happy; how about you?

I've loved this Little House Needleworks piece since it first came out a few years ago, but am just now getting around to stitching it. How many of you have already stitched this one? A lot of you, I'll bet! The colors are so perfect together, but the message is what really spoke to me. "Simple Joys, Simple Life." Even saying those words seems to bring a feeling of contentment... I stitched this one on 40 ct. white Newcastle with the suggested thread colors, but I did make a couple of changes. I filled in each of the corner diamonds in the border rather than just the lower left one as was charted. I also omitted the box around the wording "Simple Joys" and raised the words up a bit to center them more.

Little House Needleworks "Simple Joys"

I think the colors in this second photo are more true-to-life... And how do you like those gorgeous tulips that have bloomed from the bulbs my husband planted for me last fall?

Simple joys...simple life

This was one of those pieces that just flowed--do you know what I mean? It was a pure joy to stitch...

In keeping with my "simple" theme for this post, I also found an old freebie from Hands to Work called "Live Simply." I just happened to come across it when I was sorting through a file folder of long-forgotten freebies. I'm not even sure if the designer is still in business...does anyone know? I've never seen it stitched before, but I love how it turned out. It is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle linen (has anyone noticed I seem to be addicted to 40 ct. Newcastle?!) using a skein of Nina's "Old Jeans" Hand Dyed Threads. You know me and my love of blues!

"Live Simply" by Hands to Work

I made a couple of changes to this design, too.  The tulips that were charted had A, B, C on them and I just wanted a simpler design so I stitched them in stripes instead. I also turned that third bird around so he was facing the two to the left. I like things very symmetrical in case you haven't figured that out... How about you? Would you have left him facing the one bird on the right or turned him around? 

I simply love blues!

I plan on framing both of my "simple" finishes, but may turn the blue one into a little pillow. I have to think about that for a while...

As I mentioned earlier our yard is simply brimming with color and life at this time of year so, of course, I've been taking photos... You can click on the photos for a better look, if you'd like!

Our resident deer family

The sweet goldfinches which are turning
more and more yellow with each passing day

The lovely tulips planted by my husband
(inside a fenced garden so the deer 
don't gobble them all up!)

My house is filled with bouquets of tulips!

House finches--birds that are new
to this area. We never saw
them before this year. 

Our resident ducks love to waddle up
from the pond to feast on fallen bird seed.

Mrs. Mallard--isn't she pretty?

How was your Mother's Day? My two older sons came over for their usual Sunday night dinner, but this time they cooked (with some help from my dear husband!). Hooray! They gave me a set of cast-iron cookware that I've been wanting so I was thrilled. And how about this card--isn't it perfect for the mother of three boys? When you open it up, it says "Raising boys--that's an extreme sport! Happy Mother's Day" They had me guess which boy was supposed to be which and I guessed perfectly: the top boy is my middle child (he was so blonde when he was young), the boy sandwiched in between the other two is my oldest, and the youngest--the one being squished by the other boys--is represented by the boy on the bottom. I'll be keeping this one, that's for sure.

My youngest son couldn't be with us because he and six friends were vacationing in The Bahamas--wow! I've never even been to The Bahamas and I'm nearly 60! He called on Mother's Day morning and said it was like paradise down there. And look what he sent for our Mother's Day dessert... this fantastic array of cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, DC. He can walk there from his apartment--lucky guy. I think I'd be down there every day getting my cupcake fix! Which one do you think I chose to eat first? Which one would you choose? I went for the coconut because I'm the only one in the family who likes it... The bottom four have little purple hearts with "mom" written on them--so sweet!

Sweet treats from my youngest son

Advice needed... My dear sister-in-law asked me if I would come to Ohio this summer to teach her little triplet granddaughters how to cross stitch. I am so excited to introduce them to our craft, but am at a loss as to the best way to do so. Do you have any suggestions for teaching three 10-year-olds to stitch? I thought of putting little kits together for them--simple things like hearts, butterflies, etc. in bright colors. Do any of you have ideas on fabric counts (Aida 14 or even 11?)  or advice on what to do/not to do when introducing kids to stitching? I don't want to overwhelm them and I want to make it fun... Any help would be much appreciated!

♫♪♫ Birthday wishes ♫♪♫... Well, that winds up another long, long post from me. but I do want to wish my dear mother and dear mother-in-law very happy birthdays this week. Mom will be 87 tomorrow--I so wish I could be with her on her special day. And my mother-in-law turns 86 on Thursday--I hope her day is equally special. My husband and I are so blessed to have all four of our parents still with us. Even though my father no longer knows us, it is still a comfort to give him a hug when I visit. Not many couples approaching 60 year of age still have all four parents around... and we are so appreciative.

I'll leave you with a photo of one of our lovely crab apple trees hybridized by my husband's paternal grandfather, Grandpa Ralph... a simple man who lived a simple life and got such pleasure from doing so. Thank you for visiting today, for your thoughtful comments, and for being such a special group of friends... I wish each of you a simply beautiful day! Bye for now...