Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Month of Changes!

It's here, it's here!! My oldest son's wedding month, that is! When he and his lovely fiancée announced their engagement a year ago, it seemed like it would take forever for the wedding day to arrive... But, the months have just sped by at seemingly warp speed and, all of a sudden, it's time. The next time you read a post from me I will have a daughter in the family--after all these years of being the lone female (even our cat was a boy!), I will have someone who may actually think a bit more like I do and see my side of things more easily. Because, no matter how much they may love each other, men and women think totally differently, don't you agree? (Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, her wedding dress finally arrived and the final fitting is Tuesday--thank goodness!!)

Before I go any further, I want to thank you for all of your thoughtful and heartfelt comments on my previous post about my retirement and my sleeping issues. I truly appreciate your well-wishes and your suggestions on how to get a better night's sleep so thank you for taking the time to leave a comment... Anyway, more about those two topics later. After all, you're here to see some stitching, right?

I try to add at least one little pillow to my Halloween collection each year and this one came from a chart I found in the October 2017 issue of Just Cross Stitching Magazine. It is designed by Teresa Murgida and is called "Boo Birdhouse." If you have seen the design in the magazine, you'll notice that I made a number of changes. I changed the color of the birdhouse roof and opening to gray (from purple), changed the color of the ghost's hat from black to orange, stitched a smaller bat and moved him down, omitted a white swirly thing under the bat, added some more green vines to the left of the pumpkin. Whew! And my biggest change--I added a teeny baby ghost peeking out of the birdhouse!

"Boo Birdhouse" finish from October 2017 JCS Magazine

And here is my finished ghostly pillow--I'm so pleased with it! The orange and black polka dot fabric is wool flannel (love that stuff!) and the backing is the fabric pictured. A bit of ric rak and a gingham yo-yo and black button finish it off. The fibers are all DMC and it is stitched on 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle linen. Every time I look at that baby ghost, I just smile :) This was my most "liked" photo on my Instagram account (if you'd like to follow me, please click here... It brought lots of wonderful comments and one of them said I was so "brave" to change colors and design elements. I replied that that is something I would never have done when I was younger, but now I'm more comfortable with color and I simply know what I like. I hope the designers never take offense--it is just my way of making the design more "me." And, after all, if I hadn't truly loved the original design, I wouldn't have chosen to stitch it, right? How about you--do most of you make changes?

How do you like the wee baby ghost?

Still plugging away on  stitching my monthly Christmas ornaments, but I am very concerned that I'll not be able to finish all twelve for the first time since I began blogging... Hopefully, there will be stitching time on my upcoming travels, although I am not the best at stitching on airplanes! But, I do have a new Prairie Schooler Santa to share with you... This handsome guy is the annual Santa chart from the year 2000 and is stitched with the suggested DMC colors on 40 ct. burch Newcastle linen. I did change the suggested ecru on his beard, book, and candy canes to DMC 3865, though.

Prairie Schooler Santa 2000

I have to say, that this one has special meaning as it brings back fond memories of when my boys would ask what I wanted for Christmas and I would reply, "All I want is good little boys!" I can't say that any longer so I do supply them with (usually stitch-related!) wish lists. I like to keep my PS Santa finishes pretty simple as they are such classics so I stitched a small pillow, added homemade cording, and tied on a pair of rusty bells in the corner. This is my monthly Christmas ornament for July (I told you I was behind!)...

My July ornament finally finished!

I had several entries for the pair of autumn charts that I was giving away in my last post and the name drawn from the proverbial hat was...  ROSE HECK!   Rose, please email me with your mailing address and I will get this charts off to you this week.  Congratulations and, if you weren't the lucky winner, please check back--I'll be having more old chart giveaways in the future!

Giveaway winner... Rose Heck!

Retirement update... Today marks the beginning of my third week as a "lady of leisure"--ha! Whoever said retirement brought more hours of free time? I spent the first week up in New York helping out my mom who continues to have health problems (prayers, good thoughts, positive vibes, etc. would all be very much appreciated!) and the second week packing and cleaning the house so I can leave it "spic and span" for our travels. Does anyone else do that? I just have to clean the whole place before I leave on a trip--can't stand coming back to a cluttered house!

My retirement farewell brought recollections of many fond stories and quite a few tears as I said goodbye to my wonderful co-workers at the library. I was treated to some beautiful gifts, a farewell lunch, a lovely cake, and lots of goodbye hugs and well wishes. My sweet co-workers know me well because just look at these lovely gifts they bought for me...

Yes, it's a personalized stitching pouch!! And the fabric is made to look like old library date due cards--how perfect for a librarian! The pouch was filled with a Michael's gift card, needles, floss tags, and threads. Absolutely loved this!

My second gift from my coworkers was equally special--a basket filled with baking goodies, a cute pie-themed apron, and a gift card to King Arthur's Flour Baking catalog. How very thoughtful!

And look at this giant cake--so pretty in shades of teal, pink, yellow, and green.

My lovely chocolate retirement cake was scrumptious!

To thank them all, I made these little thank you cards--only a librarian will truly appreciate them. They are made to look like old library catalog cards and you can generate your own personalized (and free!) card at this site. I added the Dewey Decimal number 179.9 which is for "thankfulness/gratitude" and the name of the library (which I have blocked out) along with a little note saying my "wonderful co-workers will forever be in my heart. Thank you for all you have done to make my 29 years at the library so memorable." And a personal note was written to each of my fellow librarians inside the cards... As many of you mentioned, I was so fortunate to have a job that I loved all those years; not many can say that!

Thank you note cards I made for my co-workers

Other retirement treats were received as well from my oldest son and his fiancee, my two sisters and brother, and previously retired coworkers... Even a couple of patrons brought candy and flowers! I felt very much appreciated and loved!

From my oldest son and his fiancée: a lovely pouch (will use it for my stitching, of course!)  and an action figure of Nancy Perl--America's best known librarian. She "shushes you" when you push the button on her back--too cute!)

Also from my oldest son and fiancée--these beautiful fall flowers and a box of delicious chocolates. They really spoiled me--do you think they are angling for a nice wedding gift?! (Just kidding!)

Beautiful roses from my youngest sister! The fall colors were stunning!

And a host of gift cards, flowers, retirement cards and other small gifts from various family members, friends, and library patrons.

Here is a photo of me on my last day with my lovely cake. Yes, that is a big smile on my face because I was pretty much cried out at that stage... The decision to leave now wasn't easy, but I felt the timing was right. To just be able to fly to my son's wedding and then on to our 40th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii, and then not have to return to work--it just all made sense! I'll be 63 in January, a bit young to retire perhaps, but, for me, it works! Thank you all so much for your well-wishes--I know I'll never be bored in retirement! And if I do miss the library, I can always go volunteer on a weekly basis!

Still smiling 'til the end--I was so blessed to have had a job I truly loved for all these years!

Sleeping update... Wow! I am obviously not alone in my sleeping problems. Based on your comments, a lot of you are having issues--either falling asleep or staying asleep (my problem). Things seem to be a bit better since I retired, but are still not great. Interestingly, there was just an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that was titled, "The Older You Are, the Worse You Sleep." Great...  Apparently, the older we get, the more our capacity for deep, restorative sleep disappears so that by the time we are age 70, 80-90% of our "youthful, restorative deep sleep is gone." Sad...  And that lack of sleep can really affect our health as we age. I loved reading your tips about overcoming (or at least accepting) sleep problems and plan to try some of them soon. Right now, the best thing for me is to get my Kindle out and simply start reading, but I worry about waking up my husband so I don't resort to that very often. 

Okay--I have babbled on for far too long. There is just so much going on in my life right now... Thank you, as always for your sweet comments--I read and appreciate each one. Can't always get back to you as some of you are "no reply bloggers," but if you leave your email address, I will certainly try to answer your questions. Happy rest of October, everyone... see you in November! Bye for now...

Friday, September 22, 2017

Stitching Christmas In a Time of Transition

Good morning! It's been a while, hasn't it? Yes, over a month has passed since my last post... I haven't felt much like posting--or even stitching--over the past couple of months so I'm sure hoping that things turn around. So many concerns are worrying me right now and I can't seem to settle and just stitch. I'm having a lot of trouble sleeping, too, which complicates my daily life. But, after next week... things should be a "bit" calmer for me.

As I mentioned in my August post, I am WAY behind on my monthly Christmas ornament stitching, but I do have two to share with you today--a chickadee for May and a PS Santa for June.  This sweet chickadee design appeared in the 1992 issue of Better Homes and Garden's Christmas magazine. How adorable is he?!  Of course, I made a few changes to the colors to update them from what was charted  25 years ago. I also added another musical note and changed the coloring of the word "Joy" to black.

My ornament for May

This cheerful bird is stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle linen. I thought the shape of this design would make a perfect round ornament and I'm really pleased with the final look. Some black and white gingham ruched ribbon, bow, and hanger finished my ornament for May off quite nicely. I like a simple, clean look to my ornaments--especially when they have a lot of detail like this one. What do you think?

A joyful finish

I seem to be stitching a lot of Prairie Schooler Santas this year, don't I? I have fallen in love with the oval finish for these handsome guys and here is my latest: a red-robed, bluejay carrying Santa. Isn't the detail on his robe wonderful?

I wonder how many PS Santas I've stitched?!

This one, like the other oval Prairie Schooler Santas I've stitched this year is simply finished with red handmade cording and a tiny gingham bow... I may have to go back and restitch some of the other PS Santas that I finished differently over the years so I'll have a complete set of oval finishes (or maybe not!!). We'll see...

Don't you love his robe?

I've also stitched a sweet Halloween design, but I'll wait to share it with you until after I've finished it into a little pillow.  September, to me, means squirrels and sunflowers and I thought this display perfectly captured the feeling of the month... We had a wonderful variety of sunflowers this year in our garden (thanks to my dear husband who patiently planted the seeds and then covered them with mesh so the chipmunks wouldn't gobble them up as they have in years past). I wasn't crazy about the brown sunflowers when they first bloomed, but I ended up liking them when paired with the traditional yellow variety.

Squirrels + Sunflowers = September!

Fall stitching, anyone?  I'm giving away these two charts from an old Cross Stitch & Needlework Magazine from October 1997.  Although they are very different styles, the patterns are printed back-to-back so I can't separate them. If you are interested in giving these charts a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just three pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants them, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage. I'll announce the winner the next time I post...

If you are interested in winning these charts, please leave a note in your comment!

So, why haven't I been sleeping? Just too many worries running through my mind: my son's upcoming wedding in October (his fiancee's dress still hasn't arrived at the shop for alterations!), our trip to Hawaii (which is far from being planned!), my dear mom's health, and all of these natural disasters that are plaguing our world.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma took a personal toll on our family with the flooding (and possible loss) of my in-laws' home down in Naples, Florida. The water was 8-12 inches deep throughout  and with the heat and humidity and no power to run fans or air conditioning, the mold and mildew began quickly taking over. Fortunately, my husband's parents live up north during the summer months so  we didn't need to worry about evacuating them. They've had workers in to remove the carpeting, tear out the drywall, etc, but only got power back yesterday after more than 10 days without. At this point, no one is sure if the house is worth saving or if it will be torn down. It's just heartbreaking to watch all the damage the hurricanes have wreaked along with the earthquakes in Mexico (where my youngest son was scheduled to go for work next week--thank goodness it wasn't this week!). 

I can fall asleep just fine, but I'm waking up and ruminating about everything under the sun for two-three hours each night--UGH!! Do any of you have this problem? If anyone has any advice for me, I'd love to hear it!

And then there is one last thing that is on my mind. But, it's a biggie: I've decided to retire... In fact, I only have one week of work remaining at the library. There have been a lot of tears since I made up my mind earlier this summer--and I know many more will be coming next week as I say goodbye to a job that I've loved for nearly 30 years. I'll fill you in on how I fare in my next post...

Thank you all for stopping by today--I so enjoy reading your comments! And I truly appreciate the time you take to read my blog posts and say "hello!" Bye for now...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Buzzing in with a late summer finish!

Well, hello there! And how are my stitching friends on this fine morning? Well, it's not exactly fine here in western Pennsylvania--it is grey, drizzly, and extremely humid. And the outlook for the weekend doesn't look much different. Not a very satisfactory August in terms of weather, but other than that, all is good. Busy, but good! I only have one stitching finish for you today, but it is a fairly large one (for me, that is!).

I am, for the most part, a one project at a time stitcher... Oh, I have a couple of unfinished projects patiently waiting in the background, but I know myself. If I leave a project, I have a hard time going back to it which is why I tend to stick through my current project until completion. Today's finish is from a very old Prairie Schooler Chart called "Garden Verses"  (Book No. 49). Unfortunately, it is not one that has been reprinted yet so it is not easy to find. I'm sure I paid way too much for mine on eBay a few years back...

Prairie Schooler Garden Verses (Book No. 49)

For this lovely piece, I used DMC threads on 40 ct. burch Newcastle and I am so pleased with how well the white shows up. When I posted this on Instagram yesterday, several people commented that the colors look a bit different than those on the chart. Well, I did make some color changes! The main thing I did was to use more pink in this piece. I substituted DMC 356 for the suggested 632 and DMC 3779 for 407 in the flowers. For the highlighted words ("busy bee," "honey," "flower") I used DMC 420 instead of the suggested 632. Other than that, the colors are as charted.

One busy big bee

The hive seemed to take forever but I decided to just buckle down and "get it done!" And all those little bees--whew! I tried to add some little black stripes to their tiny bodies to look more like bumblebees, but they ended up looking like prisoners or something evil, so I left them as charted with just the white and gold.

And lots of tiny little bees

It's funny, but bee charts have been calling my name lately... This is just one example of how a stitcher's tastes can change over the years. I was never particularly interested in them before. Has that ever happened to you--a sudden interest in stitching a subject that had never appealed to you before? There are two other lovely garden themed charts in this booklet and I can picture myself stitching them in the future, too!

I "pinked" up the flowers a bit!

We've seen a lot of these fuzzy little guys on our zinnias this summer. If you click on the photo for a better look, you can even see the yellow pollen on him! Yay--spreading the love!

This fellow just flew from flower to flower

I wondered about the sentiment on this Prairie Schooler sampler and discovered that it was the first stanza of a short poem penned by English theologian,  Isaac Watts back in 1715 titled "Against Idleness and Mischief."  Basically, it was used to encourage children to stay busy and not be idle or they'll get into trouble! Hmmm... I think there may just be some truth to that.

When we were in Washington, DC a couple weeks ago to visit my son, we stopped in at the International Spy Museum because it was a rainy day and what else do you do on a rainy day in DC, but go to a museum?   Now remember, I am surrounded by all men in my family so this is the norm for us--we do not visit stitching shops or tea parlors or any of the fun things that I read about on your blogs. But, it was interesting and, guess what?! I found a giant piece of cross stitch!! I'm not sure if this is a vintage piece, but my guess is that someone stitched it in honor of Rose O'Neal Greenhow who was a Confederate spy during the Civil War, but just look at it! The full quote is actually: "God gave me both a brain and a body, and I shall use them both." The whole thing was huge--probably four feet long by a 18 inches tall, I'm guessing. Love the giant bees that flank her name...

A piece of stitching found at the Spy Museum!

Long-time readers of Stitching Dreams know what problems we have with the deer in our yard. Yes, they are adorable and fun to watch,  but they do take the joy out of gardening. We've pretty much thrown up our hands in surrender over the past two years and, unless we can plant within the fenced in portion of our yard, things don't get planted.  Anyway, my husband was able to capture this adorable video of a mama deer and her triplet fawns frolicking in our back yard. I love how mama simply stands and eats our trees while her babies cavort in the background! He took it on his iPhone through our kitchen window so it's not the clearest, but it was just too sweet not to share. If you click on the "full-size" symbol in the lower right corner, you can get a much bigger picture of it... Enjoy!


I have a busy weekend ahead with family visiting and dinner guests on Saturday so I'm off to clean the house and do some last minute grocery shopping. It seems like every weekend has been scheduled with something or other since early May and I am longing for a weekend of simply sitting and stiching. At this rate that won't happen until after our son's wedding, our Hawaii trip, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all over--in other words, until next year! Oh well, at least we're making plenty of wonderful memories this year! Enjoy your weekend, my friends, and thanks for visiting and saying "hello"--you are the best!  Bye for now...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Bits of blue and big celebrations!

Hello, everyone! Another one-post month, I'm afraid, unless I can get another one up within the next week and that isn't looking very likely at this point. But, I do have a good excuse... July is our busiest family month for celebrations! Every family seems to have one--you know, the month that is filled with birthdays, anniversaries, etc. What is yours?

I do have a couple of stitching finishes to share with you and another non-stitchy project that I finally finished. This is "Summer" from Little House Needleworks stitched over one on 28 ct. white evenweave. As you can see, I finished this one the same way as I did the "Spring" LHN monochrome piece (which you can see right here). I hope to do Fall and Winter in the same series this year, too.

Little House Needleworks "Summer"

Aren't the blues in this lovely? I used the prettiest silk thread from Hand Dyed Fibers (no longer selling silks, unfortunately) called "Rubbed Navy." I found a coordinating checked fabric (another old shirt from one of my sons) which worked perfectly for the background. A simple jute ribbon and pair of buttons completes the piece. For this type of finish, I simply apply a piece of felt to the back--very quick and easy!

I never get tired of blue!

And I finished another ornament--this one is for April (yes, April, she said as she hung her head in shame).  I actually have all of my Christmas ornaments stitched through July, just haven't had any desire to finish them for some reason. I had to force myself to get this one done yesterday! This Prairie Schooler Santa is from Book No. 58 called "Old St. Nick." I used the called for DMC colors on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle, but did change his beard to DMC 3865.

A new blue-robed Santa for my tree

I have really come to love finishing this series in an oval shape so that is what I went with once again.  Matching blue handmade cording and a snippet of fabric (the same fabric that I used for the backing) finish him off quite nicely, don't you think?

Prairie Schooler Santa from "Old St. Nick (Book No.58)

I met up with my friend, Lee, for lunch last week and she surprised me with this project pouch! Isn't it gorgeous? She's been experimenting and trying to use up stash and thought this blue and yellow print would be perfect for me. I just love it, Lee--thank you so, so much. And I'm already using it to hold my latest Prairie Schooler project!

Lee made me this gorgeous project pouch!

My non-stitchy project was started way back in November of last year when I picked up these pretty tiles on my very first visit to San Diego. My son and his fiancee took us to a Mexican market and I selected these four blue and white designs with the intention of turning them into coasters. At only $2.00 a piece, they were quite the bargain!

Pretty Mexican tiles

For this project, I simply painted the edges a dark blue (as I didn't want to leave the raw edges showing) and then glued on some cork backing that I found at a local craft store.  And there you have it--some cute new coasters that fit in perfectly with my blue and white kitchen... When my oldest son saw them he jokingly (I hope!) asked if I could make 250 more for his wedding in October!

New coasters all finished up!

Along with some stitching, crafting, and just getting on with my normal every day life--there were some family birthdays to celebrate. And birthdays = cake = baking!! Yay! You know that I love baking almost as much as I love stitching, don't you? I don't get to bake much these days because my sons no longer live at home--and I really miss it (and them!). But, my youngest son did come home for his 29th birthday and he requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. So, that's what he got.  I had never made a yellow cake from scratch before, but I found this recipe and it looked so good that I had to try it. And when topped with this frosting--oh, my rich and decadent--a little piece went a long way! I did make 1 1/2 times the amount of frosting to cover the cake completely.

Lots of July birthday baking

My husband celebrated his birthday (he caught up with me as he is 6 months younger!) five days later. So, out came the baking pans once again and I whipped up this carrot cake which my friend Myra posted on her blog several years ago. It is a winner and I've made it many, many times. I cut the recipe in half to make a smaller cake, though. Oh, it is heavenly! Pictured above with the two cakes are some blueberry banana mini-muffins. I used this recipe, but halved it and made muffins instead of bread--they turned out so moist and tasty. That's it for the family birthdays now until December.

But, I do have one more celebration to share with you and it's a big one! Yesterday, July 23, 2017, was our 40th wedding anniversary. It seems like I just blinked and that young 22-year-old couple on the left, newly graduated from college,  morphed into the 62-year-old couple on the right--a bit wrinkly, but still smiling! I'm happy to say that most, if not all of our dreams have come true. Oh, there have been bumps in the road--no marriage is free of those, but I can't imagine sharing this journey with any other man by my side. Our three sons are our greatest blessing and, hopefully (fingers crossed!) we'll be blessed with grandchildren in the not-too-distant future. I am truly thankful...

Then and now! 40 years have flown by!

For our anniversary celebration, we had a quiet dinner overlooking the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline. For those of you who haven't visited this area, the view of Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington is one of the prettiest of any city around. I mean just look at it... those rivers, those bridges, the wonderful hills!

The beauty of Pittsburgh as seen from Mt. Washington

After our seafood dinner, we ordered a very chocolatey dessert and they brought it out on a plate specially decorated for us. We shared this one, but should have ordered one for each of us! Anyway... that was just our little 40th anniversary celebration. The big one is coming this fall when we head to Hawaii--a first for me. I'm counting the days!

A bit of chocolate to top off our anniversary dinner

Insta-versary! July also marked my first anniversary of being on Instagram. I was so reluctant to join, but I can't tell you how glad I've been to be there. It really has been a joy to catch up with former blogging friends and meet so many new stitchers from around the world. It is quick and easy and if some of you are on the fence about it, I strongly encourage you to give it a chance.  My account (if you wish to follow me) is under caroling55 or you can click here!

And, that's my July! Busy and not quite over--we plan to visit our youngest son in DC later this month as we haven't been down in over a year. He is only 4 hours away, too! Just a shame that we don't get there more often. 

I know many of my blogging friends are going through some tough times and my heart goes out to each of you--serious illnesses, deaths of loved one and pets... You know who you are and please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you all for taking the time to visit me--and an extra thanks to those of you who take the time to say "hello!" Bye for now...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A lone finish in a month of travel

Well, that was quick! June that is... As I mentioned in my last post, it was going to be a month of traveling for me and my family and I feel like I'm still recovering. Within the time span of three weeks, we drove over 800 miles to and from Connecticut for a nephew's wedding, flew almost 2500 miles to San Diego, California to spend a couple of days with my son and his fiancee before driving over 200 miles north to Santa Barbara for another nephew's wedding. Then we drove 100 miles back to Los Angeles, flew another 2500 miles back to Pittsburgh, and then last week I drove 600 miles to and from New York to visit my mom. And I wonder why I'm so tired! I'm 62 years old and my body just doesn't bounce back like it used to, that's for sure!! But, we enjoyed the weddings so very much--one from each side of the family so there were a lot of laughs and reminiscing. The next time that we'll see all of the relatives will be for a very happy occasion--my oldest son's wedding in October!

So, I hope you'll forgive this post for its lack of stitching. I have been stitching ornaments, but, you know me--I don't like to share them until they are fully finished off. Today, I have just one finish--a patriotic one that I'm so pleased with. You'll recognize it as one I stitched back in 2015: "Free and Brave" designed by The Drawn Thread. I found the red clipboard at Kohl's for only $5.00 (picked up a black one and a gray one, too!) and thought it would come in so handy for displaying future Christmas or Valentine's Day finishes. For the blue fabric on the background, I used an old shirt (not sure which one of the men in my family it belonged to!).

Final finish of "Free and Brave"

I love this design for the wonderful specialty stitches that comprise the leaves and flowers.  I remember really struggling with the flowers as I stitched them, but I'm so happy with the way they turned out. Here is a closer look:

Love those special stitches!

And that beautiful extra-long  American flag waving in the breeze--love it!

And that sweet bird on the roof--so cute!

I'll try my best to finish up some Christmas ornaments to share with you next time. I don't think I've shown any finished ornaments since February! Oh, I am more behind than I thought I was with my monthly ornament challenge...  Sigh... Just one of those crazy, busy years!

GIVEAWAY WINNER:  I had a number of entries for the little patriotic chart so I pulled a winner from the hat and the name chosen was:

Congratulations to Mary! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get the chart off to you as soon as possible. It's probably too late to stitch it for this 4th of July, but you'll have it done by the next July 4th in plenty of time!  And, if you didn't win this giveaway--don't worry! I'll be having more in the future. I'm so happy these old charts are going to my stitching friends!

Winner of this giveaway chart is:  Mary!

A special present... I wanted to share this sweet gift that my youngest son gave me for Mother's Day. He purchased it when he traveled to Abu Dhabi for work last month and it is just so delightful... filled with all shades of blue and those lovely birds--he knows me well! The wall hanging measures about 2 feet by 3 feet--not sure what fibers it is made of.

Wall hanging all the way from Abu Dhabi!

Here are a couple of close-ups...

Love those colors...

...and those beautiful birds!

I'm not sure where I'm going to hang it yet--perhaps at the top of my stairs or at the end of my kitchen. Or perhaps I'll use it as the starting point when I re-decorate one of the boys' old bedrooms? I have to think about it for a while still--it is so beautiful that it needs to be showcased somehow.

My son's trip to Abu Dhabi was his first and he was so impressed with the splendor of the architecture and beauty of the city. I was a bit worried about him being there, but he said he felt extremely safe.  Here are a few photos he sent us--not sure that it will ever be a place I'll travel to, but never say never. I'm sure he never dreamed that he would be there either!

Abu Dhabi photos taken by my youngest son

As I mentioned, we were in southern California earlier in June and we just had to take advantage of the ever present sunny blue skies and get outside. We went on two hikes--the first one was in Mission Trails Regional Park. Hiking out there is very different than in western Pennsylvania--it is more desert like; we are used to forests of green trees and moss covered rocks! But, we still managed to spy some lovely wildflowers and even one small cactus.

Desert flowers in Mission Trails Regional Park

A couple more lovely scenes we came across...

Old Mission Dam

Some of the rugged terrain at Mission Trails

We also drove up to Mt. Soledad Veteran's Memorial to enjoy the spectacular views of the La Jolla coastline... Wow! What a sight!

The La Jolla coastline in the distance

At the top of the mountain is a war memorial and a huge cross which was the subject of much controversy (dealing with separation of church and state.) But, in 2015 a private group purchased the land under the cross and the case was dismissed as the cross is no longer on public lands.

Mt. Soledad Veteran's Memorial

We took one other hike to the Gaviota Wind Caves in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara. It had to be one of the hardest hikes I've ever done as it was very steep with lots of loose gravel and no shade. On the way down, I spent much of the time crab-walking so I wouldn't fall flat on my back! I didn't do a good job of taking photos as I was too worried about falling (and watching out for mountain lions and snakes!). But, the caves are those two little black things in the upper left of my photo...

Gaviota Wind Caves off in the distance

So, my month of travel has ended and July looks like it will be quite restful. I'm hoping for lots of porch-sitting weather and more beautiful flowers like these purple and blue beauties that have been popping up in our garden... Even though I love to travel, home will always be my favorite place to be. I never get bored with all the books, stitching, and lovely nature scenes that surround me. Right now we have a pair of twin baby deer romping around our pond under the watchful eyes of their mama. I feel most at peace right here at home...

Pansies, clematis, lavender, and hydrangeas--a few of my favorite things!

I'll try to pop in and visit your blogs very soon--I missed all of you while I was gone! Thank you again for your wonderful comments--I love reading each and every one... Take care now and for my U.S. friends--Happy 4th of July! Bye for now...