It's hard to believe that almost a month has passed since my last post! July is always our busiest month of the year with two family birthdays (my youngest son turned 27 and my husband celebrated his 60th--he finally caught up with me!) and our wedding anniversary (38 years on July 23rd). But, this July we had a big family wedding thrown in as well--my younger sister was married on July 25th up in New York. All were very happy occasions--but the happiest day of all? That came this Tuesday, when, after 10 weeks of wearing a hot, uncomfortable neck brace after he suffered his broken neck, the doctor told my husband he no longer needs to wear it except when he is in the car! We feel so incredibly blessed that that potentially crippling fall down our front stairs left him with only one lingering injury... The numb / tingly feeling in his fingers on his right hand has never improved since his accident on May 21st. Luckily, that does not affect his ability to use his hand--it is just a slight lack of feeling (for instance, he can't feel the little nubby bumps on the "F" and the "J" on the computer keyboard). So, we truly had some grand things to celebrate in July, don't you think?
In between all of these celebrations, I actually have found time to stitch a bit. Having fallen way behind on my monthly Christmas ornaments, I decided to concentrate on them and got all caught up (of course, since August begins soon, I will be behind again--oh well!). My choice for my May ornament was an obvious one--it had to be an angel, for I truly believe my husband had an angel on his shoulder as he fell down our stairs that night. This little LHN design "Joy to the World" had been in my stash forever so I decided she would get the honor of being my husband's angel.
For this ornament, I used 40 ct. gray Newcastle and good old DMC threads. Ivory colored Mill Hill Beads were used for the snow. The fabric shown behind the ornament is used as the backing and the green and cream gingham ribbon is ruched and used as the trim and hanger. A simple finish for a very special little angel!
|Little House Needleworks: "Joy to the World"|
My June ornament is another LHN design called "Deer Valley Inn." I was a bit unsure about this piece as there was so much brown in it (not a fan of stitching with brown threads!), but I do love the way it turned out. I used a mixture of the suggested threads--both overdyed and DMC--and a few of my own choosing with 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle for this finish. The main change was the color of the door--I changed it from brown to red! I especially love the pretty tree in this one and the regal looking buck standing beside it.
The ornament was made up with a combination of two fabrics, some ivory ric rac, and an old-fashioned gingham ribbon. This is actually one of my favorite ornament finishes ever! The colors in the stitching and the finishing fabrics just came together so nicely--don't you love it when that happens?
|Little House Needleworks: "Deer Valley Inn"|
And finally, my ornament for July is a tribute to my favorite designer: Prairie Schooler. I, like many of you, feel so sad that they are retiring, but luckily I have accumulated a wonderful stash of their old charts which will last me well into my 80s (do you think I'll be able to even thread a needle by then?!). I've written, many times, of the comfort these designs bring me when I stitch them--and, of course, anything with a small boy always captures my heart...
The chart for this small lad bringing home his Christmas tree, along with a sprig of holly, is from Prairie Schooler Book No. 143 "Button Up." I used most of the suggested colors, but changed the green to DMC 520. Two red fabrics and two buttons, along with some handmade gold cording finish this one off quite well.
|Prairie Schooler's "Button Up" finish|
Here is a photo of all three together... do you have a favorite? It's so hard to believe that Christmas is in just five short months, isn't it? At least my tree will look good!
|Finished Christmas ornaments for May, June, and July|
I also had a wonderful surprise earlier this month when I received this beautiful Chessie & Me chart from sweet Maggee. I had written in a previous posts about how much I loved Linda's designs and the specialty stitches that she uses so Maggee immediately thought of me when she was de-stashing and sent "The Breath of Autumn" my way. I just love it, Maggee--thank you so much for thinking of me. I can't wait to stitch it!
|Random Act of Kindness sent from Maggee|
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my next younger sister got married last week. It was a lovely, casual wedding held at her home on the shores of Lake Ontario. We held our breath as the rain fell that morning, but it passed by the time the late afternoon ceremony was held and it couldn't have been nicer. Since my sister and her husband had been married previously, they didn't want any wedding presents, but suggested a gift to our favorite charity (I gave to the Lewy Body Dementia Association in memory of our dad). They also welcomed what they called "gifts from the heart." So, we all pitched in: my youngest sister acted as the official photographer, my mom purchased the flowers, my brother-in-law made the music playlist for her wedding reception, and I made the cookies--of course!
I've written before on my blog about the popularity of the cookie table at weddings here in western Pennsylvania (you can read that post here, if you're interested). I ended up making eleven kinds of cookies (35 dozen, if you're counting!) for the wedding and here they are all displayed on the dessert table. What kind do you think was gobbled up first? Well, it was the Reese's Cup Cookies shown second from the left in the front row. Most of them were devoured before dinner even started! I've used a recipe very similar to this one for years (I just use 1/2 tsp. of vanilla, though, and roll the dough balls in sugar before setting them in the muffin pans).
|35 dozen bites of sugar and butter!|
Since the wedding had a nautical theme, I made these cute blue and white cards with the cookie names on them. They added a nice touch and pulled the whole look together on the cookie table at the recption. My sister said they were a big hit although I didn't eat a single one--after weeks and weeks of baking (and tasting!), they just no longer appealed to me!
Since there were the five of us from my family (plus two girlfriends) attending the wedding, you can imagine what it would have cost us in hotel room fees! Luckily, my sister came to the rescue and gave us the use of her whole house (since she was staying at her lake house) for those days. It was so nice to be able to relax and spend time together while not having to go out for every meal. I wanted to find some way to thank her so I made her a gift card bouquet... Have you seen these on Pinterest? You simply cut out some flowers printed on cardstock, glue them onto skewers, and then glue another piece of cardstock on the back to hold the gift card. I chose to write little words of appreciation on the flower heads.
Then you simply place the skewers into a pretty purchased flowering plant and voilà... you have an easy, fun thank you gift. My sister was just thrilled with it and immediately called to tell me so. It really was the least we could do for her for opening her home to the seven of us...
|Gift card bouquet for my dear sister and new brother-in-law|
Whew! And so ends my busy month of July--in looking at August, things won't be slowing down much. We have yet another family wedding up in New York (with more cookies to be made, but not nearly that many!), extra work hours for me, and our annual family trip to the Outer Banks. It will be a different kind of trip for my husband this year as he is not allowed to boogie board or be in any waves that may hurt his neck. He is also not allowed to ride his bike which has been the cruelest form of torture for him throughout his recovery. Riding a bike for him is what stitching is to me--a passion and something that he can hardly bear to do without. He is hoping the doctor gives him the okay to return to biking in September; I am hoping it's not until next Spring. The thought of him falling and injuring himself again just scares me to death. But, you can't simply stop doing the things that bring you so much joy, can you?
Thanks so very much for your kind comments and emails--especially throughout my husband's fall and recovery. I can't tell you how much your supportive words, positive thoughts, and prayers meant--to both of us. It truly is a miracle, in our opinion, that he will be okay--not perfect, but perfectly "good enough!" Bye for now...