Friday, December 29, 2017

A year filled with Thankfulness

Happy post-Christmas week, my friends! I hope you are all recovering from the excitement of Christmas and all of that tasty rich food (I'm sure we're all going to amp up our exercise routines next week, right?!). I also hope you got some nice stitchy presents from your loved ones (or yourself!). I was honored to receive some lovely gifts from both blogging and non-blogging stitching friends for Christmas which I'll share with  you today in the order I received them...

From dear June, in England, came this sweet angel ornament. But, wait--it's not only an ornament! It opens up and is a needlebook inside--so adorable. This is a free design from Told In A Garden which you can find right here. So darling and so beautifully stitched...

An angel from June

June also sent a pair of fingerless mittens (so soft and blue!), some sparkly floss, a calendar for the new year, and a flowered pouch that I can use for scissors and other stitching supplies. Thank you so very much, my friend--I love each and every gift!

Christmas gifts from June

From dear Cindy, in Tennessee, came another beautiful angel ornament (it was the year of angels and snowmen and cardinals!). This was another freebie from Told In A Garden which you can find right here. Cindy embellished the ornament with tiny gold beads and gold thread--it is exquisite!

An angel from Cindy

Cindy also sent an assortment of trims and charms to embellish my future finishes. Thank you so very much, my friend... Your gifts are so lovely!

Christmas gifts from Cindy

From dear Lois, in Northern Ireland, came this gorgeous, perfectly stitched Drawn Thread design which she chose to stitch for me because she knew that cardinals have a special place in my heart. Isn't it lovely with those silver bells and green cording? 

Christmas cardinal from Lois

Lois also sent some pretty fabric and ribbon, a cake of beeswax, and a lovely Spring-themed chart. Each present is so "me," Lois--thank you so very much!

Christmas gifts from Lois

From dear Robin, in Virginia, (no blog) came yet more cardinal themed gifts! She stitched this pretty red cardinal on perforated wood. He looks so striking on my tree with that bright blue background.

Cardinal for Christmas from Robin

Robin also gifted me with a set of cardinal notecards and some pretty fabric squares to use in my finishing. I love each and every gift! Thank you so very much, Robin!

Christmas gifts from Robin

From sweet April, in Virginia, (no blog) came a surprise package including this cheery, plump snowman ornament. In April's card, she thanked me for the continued inspiration that my blog gave her. That is just so sweet, April--I love hearing that from my readers! And look how beautifully this is finished with the double layers of cording and lace! I'll have to remember that technique...

Snowman from April

April also included more items for me to use in future finishes: some fun purple pompoms and some poblano pepper ric rac. Thank you so much for the lovely gifts, April--you sure surprised me (in a good way!!).

Christmas gifts from April

From dear Gabi, in Germany (no blog), came another of  those chubby white guys which is now residing on my snowman tree in my kitchen. She also sent this cute Christmas tree ornament--isn't it pretty? Thank you so very much, Gabi--your gifts will be treasured each Christmas for years to come.

Two cute ornaments from Gabi

And last, but not least, sweet Nathalie, in France, (no blog) sent me two lovely red and white kitchen towels, a tiny ceramic Santa, and a wonderful French stitching magazine. Thank you so very much, Nathalie--such lovely gifts!

Christmas gifts from Nathalie

I was just a "bit" spoiled, wasn't I? I have been blogging since 2009 and still can't believe how many wonderful stitching friends I have "met" through my blog. And it's not just those of you who send me things; it is those of you who keep reading--and commenting--even though blogs seem to be fading away. It's those of you who send me emails saying I've inspired you or complimenting me on a finish. What a special community we have here... I love the fact that we are all cheerleaders for each other, don't you? Thank you one and all for making my year so special--I truly appreciate you!

My "Best Nine": As many of you know, I joined Instagram in 2016 and have really enjoyed it--it is quick and easy and I don't find that it is time-consuming at all. I'm so enjoying seeing photos of stitchers' work from places like Japan, Russia, and eastern Europe--places that I don't see in stitching blogs very often. Anyway, each year you can use a little program to generate your "Best Nine"--those photos that received the most "likes." Here is a collage of my best nine. My top photo, the annual ornament parade, received over 660 "likes!" Amazing... If you would like to follow me, too, you can find my account right here. 

My "Best Nine" according to Instagram

At this time of year, I always like to think back and pick one favorite moment. And, this year was tough for me to choose just one--I had so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences: seeing my dear, dear mother celebrate her 90th birthday with her family surrounding her, celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Hawaii, witnessing our oldest son and his beautiful fiancĂ©e joined in marriage, gaining more time for "me" since I retired from the library in late September. What a year of changes! So, what rose to the top for me? It was sitting at the table at the wedding reception watching as my two younger sons toasted their older brother and new sister so charmingly--a wonderful, heartfelt speech filled with the perfect combination of humor and admiration. What a proud mom moment. Those three boys have grown into such independent, loving, thoughtful young men--I guess my husband and I did something right along the way.  So, now it's your turn--what was your favorite moment of 2017? I'd love to hear it!

The end of the year is drawing near... What are your thoughts as we round the corner into 2018?  I know that many of my blogging friends have faced new and continuing health challenges this year. You've met these trials with a courage that awes and inspires me. I truly hope that this coming year will heal you and ease your pain. Please know that each of you has a special place in my heart--I'm not going to name names, but know that I think of you often... So, that's it for Stitching Dreams in 2017--on to a new year... Let's make it a good one! Bye for now...

Happy New Year! Welcome 2018!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas memories

I think this may be the latest I've ever put up my tree! I've missed seeing the soft white lights glowing at the far end of my sunroom throughout the month of December... But, at least I have a week or two to enjoy them. Many of my German blogging friends told me they don't put up their tree until Christmas Eve. My grandmother, whose parents came to the United States from Germany in the late 1800's, followed that same tradition. Christmas Eve was always the day for decorating the tree, followed by a party for her 20+ grandchildren who each received a gift from my Uncle Mark (dressed up as a very unconvincing--somewhat scary-looking--Santa). I think I'd rather put up my tree earlier so I can enjoy all those little cross stitched ornaments a bit longer--can you even imagine how many hours of patiently stitching little x's onto fabric have gone into my tree?

Most of you have seen this scene before--many times! All that's new this year are 12 more ornaments plus a few from friends (which I will share with you in my next post). But, people seem to enjoy seeing it year after year, so I'm happy to oblige.   You should be able to click on all of the photos for a closer look...

Cross Stitch Christmas Tree 2017

Here are some closeups for you: 

Day or night--it makes me smile!

Do you have a favorite ornament on your tree? For me, it is this tiny "Five Golden Rings" stiched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco. I'm not sure why, but I just love the little angels and the delicate rings they are holding--such a sweet design by Cottage Garden Samplings that I stitched back in 2012.

My favorite ornament

The good old days... My brother sent me some vintage photos from Christmas in the early 60s... I'm guessing I'm around nine years old here. My dad took this photo after we had descended the stairs (in youngest to oldest order--a tradition we followed with our own children). I think he perfectly captured our joy on Christmas morning. Just look at my little sister, hands in the air, saying "Oh, boy!!"

Christmas in the 60s!

So, what did I receive that sparked that smile? Well, let's take a look under the tree... Why, it's the Barbie Dream House! Hmm... I was never much of a Barbie girl--it actually looks like I'm more delighted with the tiny guitar in my hands. Behind me is a bowling set that I remember playing with by the hour, too! And does anyone remember Vac-u-form by Mattel? It was a machine that used metal molds and heated plastic to conform to the molds in shapes of cars, little toys, etc. Oh, we played with that constantly down in our basement creating countless worthless things!

Nothing like the joy of children on Christmas morning!

And, there you have it... another year, the same tree with more ornaments! I hope you've enjoyed seeing it. Many of you have written to tell me that I've inspired them to stitch more ornaments and I love hearing that! There is something so immediately gratifying about stitching a small ornament and then seeing all of them displayed on your tree each year. I love it and plan on stitching twelve more next year--it's an addiction! What can I say?

Before I go, I want to thank you for all of your wonderful comments on my "Parade Of Ornaments" post--I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And I want to wish each of you a truly blessed Christmas... I hope you'll have at least some of your family with you. Our oldest and his wife won't be here--it is their turn with her family and the first time he hasn't spent Christmas with us in 35 years. But, we'll be joined for Christmas dinner by my cousin and her husband who are in town for some medical treatments so we're looking forward to that. I'll be back next week to share the wonderful gifts sent to me by some talented stitchers.  Wishing you every joy as you celebrate Christmas! Bye for now...

Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 Parade or Ornaments!

And here we are on December 20th--the very last day of autumn! Welcome to my 2017 "Parade of Ornaments"--one I thought just might not happen given the busyness of my life over the past 12 months! Many people have told me that this annual post (which I have done since 2010) is what drew them to my blog in the first place. So, I really didn't want to let any of you down and have to cancel the parade this year! I know there are some wonderful new followers (a big welcome to all of you!) this year, and if you would like to look back at my previous "parades," just click here:  2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

So, grab some hot cocoa, wrap up in a cozy blanket, and sit back and relax as the parade passes by! In looking at my finishes this year, I would call it the "year of oval or round finishes"... and there is a good reason for that. Remember when my sewing machine broke back in April? Well, for a while I couldn't sew on it at all so I resorted to circular finishes. After we oiled and cleaned the machine, it seems to work just fine so I could resume making my little pillow ornaments. But, you know what? I discovered that I truly love doing the round or oval shapes! So, I'm sure you'll be seeing more of them. As most of you know, I hang the newest 12 ornaments on my banister and then move them to the tree as Christmas approaches.

2017 Monthly Ornament Finishes

Would you like a closer look? 

January ~ April 2017

May ~ August 2017

September ~ December 2017

As always, I love to hear what is your favorite (or favorites!).  I'll give you a closer look so you can make your decision... And if you want more information on fabrics or fibers that I used, just click on the name of the ornament below the photo--it will take you right to the post describing each finish.

"Merry Christmas" by Samplers Not Forgotten


"Kris Kringle" PS Book No. 62

Prairie Schooler cardinal from "Button Up" (Book No. 143)

PS "Old St. Nick" (Book No. 58)

"Joyful" from an old 1992 BH&G Christmas magazine

Prairie Schooler "Kris Kringle" (Book No. 62)

Prairie Schooler Santa from the year 2000

Little House Needlework's "Tree Lot"

Prairie Schooler Santa from "A Christmas Visit"  (Book No. 48)

JBW "French Country Snowman"

"Kissing Cardinals" from JCS Ornament 2014

Hands On Design "Silver Bells"

So, now it's your turn--which is your favorite? Is it one of the six Prairie Schoolers I stitched this year (yes, I am a PS addict and I embrace it!) or one of the others? For me, it is a tie between the LHN "Tree Lot" with all of it's tiny details and the sweet "Kissing Cardinals." But, I'm proud to add each one to my Christmas tree. Speaking of which... I finally got my tree decorated and am just putting the final beads on... will definitely post a photo when I'm finished.

Thanks so much for stopping by, today--I hope you enjoyed the parade as much as I enjoyed creating these little ornaments! Bye for now...    

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The final two and Kauai photos

I did it! I finished my final two monthly ornaments for 2017! Are you surprised? I sure am--I truly thought this would be the first year since I began my blog that I wouldn't get all twelve finished. Anyway, I want to share these last two with you before my annual "Parade of Ornaments" post next time. And since you seemed to enjoy my photos of Maui so much, I'm moving on to some scenes of our visit to Kauai later on in the post.

In my haste to finish my 2017 monthly ornaments, I neglected to take a "before" photo and only have the finished ornaments to share with you today.  I think many of you will recognize this cute couple--"Kissing Cardinals" from the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue. Aren't they adorable? The lovebirds are stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle with a variety of overdyed threads and finished into a round ornament. The dotty gray fabric pictured is what I used for the back of the ornament.

"Kissing Cardinals" finish

And my December ornament is "Silver Bells" which is part of the Hands On Design's Chalkboard Ornaments Christmas Collection (Part 3). This is much smaller than the ornaments shown on the cover of the chart, though--I stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. Because it's so small, I had to scale everything back. I couldn't use the holly leaves or button that came with the chart so I cut smaller ones out of olive green felt and added a teeny button from my collection. I also added real mini-jingle bells rather than stitching them as was charted. I love  how it turned out--so tiny and cute!

Hands On Design "Silver Bells" finish

So, that brings another "ornament a month" quest to an end. I'll have a wrap up post next time so you can see all twelve together.

GIVEAWAY WINNER:  The only other stitching news I have is to announce the winner of the Santa chart giveaway from my previous. I had eleven entries so I threw the names into a hat and picked out the winner:  PAM (Tall House Quilts)! Pam, please email me with your mailing address and I will get this chart off to you as soon as possible.  Congratulations and, if you weren't the lucky winner, please come visit me again--I'll be having more old chart giveaways in the future!

Congratulations, Pam!

Green, green, and more green...  So, on to my photos from what is known as Hawaii's "Garden Isle." Kauai was described on one website as the land of "Emerald mountains, weeping waterfalls, red-rock canyons, jaw-dropping beaches, clear seas and big waves." All-true--it was so lush and green everywhere you looked. But, like our time on Maui, the sunshine was absent most of the time. And like Maui, we also had a nine-hour power outage--I mean what are the chances of that happening on both islands? 

We stayed in an Airbnb that felt very jungle-like  nestled along the banks of the Wainiha River in the remote, more isolated northern area of Kauai. I'll give you a tour in photos if you'd like to come along...

The view from our balcony overlooking the tranquil Wainiha River

One of the few blue-sky days brought this pretty pink sunrise

I laughed when I first saw this "Caution: Falling Coconuts" sign, but by week's end, there were nine coconuts that had thudded onto the ground. They really could have caused great damage to someone if they landed on a head!

There was an abundance of fresh fruit growing right in the yard of the Airbnb--along with these bananas, there were papayas, avocados, guavas, oranges, and mangoes!

The house that we stayed in advised us to close the gate that surrounds the yard and we found out why! We encountered this quintet of wild pigs on the road as we drove into town...

How would you like to run into this fellow in your yard?

On a non-rainy day, we took in the beautiful sights at the Limahuli Garden & Preserve which was just up the road.

Everything grows bigger than life here including the roots on these trees!

Pointy cliffs like these make it impossible to drive entirely around the island

This traditional Hawaiian hale (house) was reconstructed in the footprint of what was once an ancient housing complex.

Another shot of the Limahuli Preserve (and me!)

More beauteous flowers--the bird-of-paradise in the center was my favorite

I believe these are papaya trees full of fruit

Special touches like these stepping stone etched with symbols of plants and trees added a nice touch

Our final day--and a sunny one--took us to the Allerton Garden at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on the southern end of Kauai

Do these Morton Bay fig trees look familiar? Parts of the movie, Jurassic Park were filmed here. You may remember that scene where the hatched dinosaur eggs were found among the roots of these trees.

You can get a better idea of just how large the roots are with us standing in front of them!

This arbor of golden bamboo was so lovely

An orchid nestled in the bamboo

The Wai`oli Hui`ia Church was one of the prettiest I have ever seen

On our final afternoon we drove way, way up into the Waimea Canyon State Park.

I think you can see why this is often called "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific!" We enjoyed the stunning views with waterfalls streaming down the mountainside. I wish we had had more time to do some hiking there, but all we could do was stop and take in a few of the beautiful overlooks.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my photos from this beautiful part of the U.S. I think we got to see some lovely sights in spite of the rain, flash flooding, and closed hiking trails that we encountered. And we certainly were forced to just stay home and relax when the weather was so terrible. I had been so far behind on my sleep with worrying about the wedding, my retirement decision, and trip planning, that I slept like a baby! 

A traditional birthday treat... My middle son turned 32 last week and, as he has ever since he was a little boy, he requested a "Giant Chocolate Eclair Dessert" as his birthday goodie. I cut the recipe in half as there were just four of us, but it still tasted delicious. My little Santa helpers seem to think it looks pretty yummy, too! I mean, what's not to like about a puffy pastry crust and layers of cream cheese, French vanilla pudding, and whipped topping. Oh, and don't forget the swirly chocolate topping!

Giant Chocolate Eclair for the birthday boy

How is everyone coming along with their Christmas preparations? I still don't have my tree decorated... I was visiting my mom last week, came back home, and will go up to New York again this week as she began having some health issues. But, she comes first right now--she is my best friend :)  I'll get my tree up at some point--even if it is just for a week! 

Thanks so much for visiting today--I know you, like me, have very limited hours to spend online at this time of year. Just want you to know how much I appreciate your comments, emails, and visits! Bye for now...