Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The red, the white, and the blue...

Happy July! I hope everyone in the U.S. had a relaxing Fourth Of July weekend... It was a quiet one here, but we'll make up for it when my entire family gathers in San Diego this coming week to celebrate three birthdays, a job change, and our upcoming 44th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, I can't wait for the fun to begin! Before I get into my stitching news, I want to thank all of you who offered suggestions on how to deal with my vertigo. I purchased some of the items suggested (motion sickness bands and anti-nausea meds) to have on hand if (please, no!!) it returns. Thankfully, I'm feeling better now and am just going to think positively!  

So, on to stitching updates. I had really hoped to have this latest finish done by the Fourth of July, but it took longer to stitch than I expected. That's okay, though, as I leave my patriotic stitching up for most of the summer... I'll switch over to sunflowers and bees in mid-August. This is the first piece I've stitched by "From the Heart Needleart," but it won't be the last... such an enjoyable design! "Let Freedom Ring" was stitched on 40 ct. sand Newcastle with a combination of the suggested threads and my own choices. The substitutions made were: I used Needle Necessities #142 (Grecian Olive) for the green, Nina's Threads (Old Jeans) for the blue, and DMC 3865 for the white. The other colors were as suggested by the designer. I did change the beak on the eagle to the gold color as well as its claws. And instead of using cross stitches for the flagpole, I did a simple straight stitch.

"Let Freedom Ring" by From the Heart Needleart

 

Once again, a thrifted frame came to the rescue! My middle son had picked up this simple frame for me at Goodwill for $2.00 (I have him look for square frames whenever he goes!).  I painted it with Waverly chalk paint (using the color "Plaster") and then lightly distressed it with a bit of sandpaper. It was too wide for the stitched piece so I simply sewed on two star-strewn pieces of fabric in burgundy and blue, added a strip of gold ric-rak, and topped it off with a yo-yo and a couple of buttons. A very inexpensive, but cute, finish! I love it!

Love the flag carrying eagle!

 

Last week, I was putting away some things in my guest room when I spotted this sweet little scene on top of the dresser and it just made me happy. So, why not share it with you? The reading bunny was a Mother's Day gift from my youngest son a few years ago and the stitching is a piece that I finished way back in 2009--my very first year of blogging.  I wonder if there are any readers that remember my blog from way back then? That was the year I was stitching an "Ornament a Week"--crazy, right? I don't know how I did it given the fact that I was still working at the time... Most of those early blogging friends have left the blog world behind and have turned to Facebook or Flosstube. I really miss them, but I'm so happy to have you new readers along for the ride!

Reading books and stitching--two of my favorite things!

 

This chart can be found in the August 2000 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine--a sweet design by The Drawn Thread called "Summer Scene." I think this may have been one of the very first pieces I stitched on linen. I remember being a bit overwhelmed by all of the specialty stitches in it: Hungarian stitches on the roof, leviathan stitches on the front door, Smyrna stitches for the flowers, woven leaf stitches for the tree leaves, reversed cushion stitch on the sidewalk; and everyone's favorite--the French knot for the flower centers. It was a challenge, but I truly love how it turned out. I mean who doesn't love a giant cat in their front yard? This remains one of my favorite finishes even though it is 12 years old! Do you have any old favorites that just make you smile when you walk by them?

"Summer Scene" by The Drawn Thread

 

I took a few photos of my 4th of July display to post on Instagram which might provide some inspiration to those of you who love red, white, and blue stitching as much as I do. These were stitched over the past twelve years; I usually stitch two or three patriotic pieces each summer. After Christmas stitching, patriotic stitching is my favorite (although bunnies for spring and Easter are rapidly multiplying, too!). 

So many memories in these little pillows...



Red, white, and blue stitches are taking over my kitchen!

Believe it or not--there are more patriotic finishes in my corner cupboard which I didn't photograph! I think I've gotten a bit carried away with them, but they sure are fun to stitch and finish...

Reading update... The reading bunny seated in the blue chair, that I showed you earlier, was a perfect gift for me being a former librarian. I know many of you love to read, too, and might enjoy seeing what I've read so far in 2021. I rated them with blue hearts (five being the most-liked) and am so surprised that I've already read 25 books this year. I am not a fast reader... I tend to fall asleep when I read. But, I do have an audiobook and a Kindle book in progress at all times. I love listening to the audiobooks when I stitch, cook, or work on my finishes (or when I'm trying to get in my 10,000 steps by just walking around in the house)! Some have been very good, some only so-so; the number of blue hearts tell you what I thought of each one. Do you have any recommendations for me?

Books read and rated so far in 2021

 

I passed on all of your compliments about our garden to my husband--thank you so much. He's really enjoying digging in the soil this summer and I told him the garden and yard have never looked better. He's even set up a drip irrigation system to water the plants when we are away on trips! Lately, we've seen lots of wildlife in our backyard... a doe and her twin fawns, lots of groundhogs, and a Great Blue Heron visiting our pond. The pond is stocked with a couple dozen very large koi and a few smaller fish as well as a newly arrived snapping turtle (where he came from, we have no idea!). The heron waits patiently on the bank of the pond until just the right moment... Then he rapidly snatches one of the smaller fish out of the water with his long bill. I think the koi are too big for the heron to eat, thankfully...

The Great Blue Heron patiently waiting for his breakfast to appear

Email subscriptions... You may notice a new white box in the upper right sidebar to sign up for email subscriptions. Recently Google has announced that it was stopping their feedburner subscription service so I had to switch to follow.it. The very helpful staff at follow.it have transferred my existing active subscribers for "Stitching Dreams" to their service so, if you have already subscribed, you should still receive email notifications each time I put up a new post. They may look a bit different than the previous emails--I have no control over this... If you're not receiving notifications, you may have to subscribe again in the white box. 

I'll be on a little blogging break while in San Diego celebrating my grandson's first birthday. I will be able to read your blogs, but won't be able to comment as my phone won't let me for some reason... I hope you all have a wonderful month ahead with lots of time to relax and enjoy the season. Thank you, one and all, for visiting me today--I love my readers! Bye for now...

The peaceful view from our front porch as the sun sets on the Fourth of July. "Day is done, gone the sun. From the lake, from the hills, from the sky; All is well, safely rest. God is nigh..." (lyrics to "Taps")
 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

A Dizzying Month

Only three more days and 2021 will be half over--can you believe it? June has been an "interesting" month for me--filled with some nice times, but also some troubling health issues. Things have evened out for now so let's hope I stay on track. More about that later on, though--let's start with what I've been stitching, okay? 

Stitching update... I managed to stay on track and completely stitch and finish my ornament for June and I love it! I'd been wanting to stitch this whimsical Birds Of a Feather design ever since I saw it in the 1998 Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine. I'm not sure why I put it off so long, but I'm so glad I finally sat down and stitched it. Just look at those big-eyed tots wide awake in their beds on Christmas Eve. Do you think they heard the giant reindeer on the roof or, perhaps, that rosy-cheeked Santa is making too much noise as he lays a pink present under the Christmas tree? The colors in this one are such fun, aren't they?

Birds Of a Feather "Night Before Christmas"

 

I stitched "Night Before Christmas" on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with most of the suggested colors. (I did change the eyes from the suggested bright blue to a dark brown because all of them looked slightly possessed when I used the blue thread)! At first, I planned to use white cording to surround the little pillow, but I held up some minty green DMC 369 and knew that  that would be a better choice. I had just enough ribbon in my stash to make a hanger and bow in the same color, too, and I'm so pleased with the final result. It is a small ornament, but is almost solid stitching so it took quite a while! Anyway, I'm happy to say that the stitch along that I started on Instagram (#12in21ornamentstitchalong) has really been keeping me on track this year as far as getting my ornaments done each month. It's so nice to have company and see others' ornament finishes each month, too. Thanks to all who have joined in! If you'd like to start following me on Instagram, too, just click right here.

Such fun retro colors!

 

My only other stitching related news is that I finally managed to sit down and frame this sweet piece from Tralala called "Carré ABC Bouquet." If you've been following my blog for a while, you may recall that I stitched this more than five years ago--yes, in 2016! You can read about my finish right here in my post from April 21, 2016. It was stitched on 40 ct. burch Newcastle using a variety of overdyed threads. The blue thread is Gentle Arts "Crystal Lake"--such a soft pretty color, don't you think?

"Carré ABC Bouquet" stitched in 2016

 

The very detailed, carved frame came from my box (well, boxes, plural!!) of thrifted frames that I've purchased for $1-$5 through the years. Doesn't it look pretty? It is a silvery gold color and I think it accents this sweet piece so nicely.

There is a bit more margin on the top and bottom than the sides, but overall, the fit of this thrift store frame is quite good!

The flowers that lie beside it are from my garden... The blue hydrangea was from the plant that my middle son gave me for Mother's Day this year that we planted outside. The pink coral bells were transplanted from my parents' garden at my childhood home so they are very special to me. And the white astilbe, although only in bloom for a short while, is so soft and delicate, isn't it? Our neighborhood deer have been leaving things alone lately, but we just spied a pair of baby fawns frolicking in the yard yesterday so I fear the plants will be gobbled up in no time...

Such pretty blooms this year!

 

Giveaway winner... I had quite a few entries for this pretty Americana quilt chart! Thank you to all who entered and who told me about your thrift store/yard sale/side-of-the-road finds. It was such fun reading about them and it makes me feel better about picking up things I happen upon that someone has thrown out! The winner's name drawn from the hat this time is...

Faith from Faithfully Stitching


Congratulations, Faith! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this out to you this week. I'll be having another giveaway next month so watch this space...


 

So, what was I doing the rest of the month? Well... traveling, gardening, baking, and stumbling around like a drunken sailor. Yes, after a wonderful break of 19 years (yes, years!) my vertigo came back with a vengeance this month. Oh, I'd forgotten how bad it feels. The first  time I had it in 2002, I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). The doctor told me then that it would return... thankfully, it decided to give me a long break. But, boy, was I sick with it--violent vomiting and complete dizziness that lasted all day. I really couldn't move at all without getting sick or feeling like the room was spinning. It was so bad that we had to postpone our flight to Florida the following day. We were able to reschedule the flight for two days later and I felt well enough to fly, but the night we arrived in Florida my vertigo returned... I simply sat and felt miserable the entire next day. I tried doing the various maneuvers to ease the dizziness that were suggested online and one of them must have kicked in because I've been okay now for over a week. I'm still not feeling quite myself, but at least I can function! So, who else deals with vertigo--do you have any tips for me? 

Our Florida visit was yet another trip to prepare my in-laws' house for the rental market. We're almost there, I'd say... My husband did the majority of the work because of my vertigo, but I did a few things and we even managed one walk on the beach. It rained (heavily!) every day except for two--I really don't remember such horrid weather down there. Combine that with 90°+ temperatures and it was pretty miserable. I'm not sure if we have to go down again before we put it on the rental market, but, hopefully, things can be handled with phone calls from now on...

One of two non-rainy days in Naples, Florida. The Naples pier is in the distance.


Playing hide and seek--can you spy the little crab peeking out?

 

Our garden has been doing so well this year! It must have something to do with the cooler temperatures and all the rain we had in May, but everything is blooming and extremely lush and green... My husband deserves full credit for the gardening. All I do is pick out plants and seeds and tell him where to plant them. He is really enjoying the extra time in the garden now that he's retired. Here are a few photos for you...

The raised beds in our fenced in vegetable and flower garden

Lots of tomatoes are ripening on the vine

And lots of snap peas, too!

We also grow some flowers within the fenced vegetable garden to keep them safe from deer. That way we can cut them and enjoy them in our home.

Sunflowers, strawflowers and zinnias

Love the various shades of purple in the alyssum!

The calla lilies are very special to me. They came from a plant that my oldest son gave my mother on her birthday two years ago. So glad they've kept blooming--I feel like mom is smiling at me!

A view from the end of our driveway to our back patio--green as far as you can see!

 

June means blueberry season--my favorite fruit! I stumbled upon this extremely quick and easy recipe for "Ridiculously Easy Blueberry Crumble" and went right into the kitchen to whip it up. Oh, my--delicious and super simple... what more could you ask for? You can find the recipe by clicking right here at Inspired Taste. I halved the recipe which was a mistake--my husband and I could easily have eaten twice the amount!

A very tasty Blueberry Crumble

So, what does July hold? Well, believe it or not, my grandson turns one next week! Yes, it makes me want to cry when I think how quickly his first year has gone. He took his first steps earlier this month and we just happened to be on FaceTime with him when that happened so we got to witness that milestone. His dad says he's now walking more than crawling and oh-so-proud of himself! There are six teeth sprouting in his little mouth so he no longer looks like such a baby... more like a sweet little boy. We'll be heading to California for his first birthday and I'm counting the days, as you can imagine. "Baby B" helped us through so much sadness over the past year with the loss of my mom and my daughter-in-law's parents.  He has no idea how very much he is treasured...

This photo warms this former librarian's heart--Baby B loves books! Hooray!

Thank you, as always for visiting me today... I always enjoy reading your comments after each post--thank you so much for taking the time to say "hi!" I'm happy to try to answer your questions, but please make sure to include your email address so I can get back to you...  Wishing you each a wonderful July with lots of stitching time. Bye for now...

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Finds and a finish

Whoa! What's going on here? Two posts from me in only 9 days?! Well, I just had to share my newest finish with you right away because I truly love how it turned out... This design is from my friends at Twin Peak Primitives and is a limited edition kit called "Stitcher's Soul Journey." (The kit is currently sold out, but they hope to release it in chart form sometime in the future). I shared the photo of the entire kit  and of my start on it (using 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle linen) in this post from April 14th. 

"Stitcher's Soul Journey" finish

 

Isn't it sweet? And you know me, I just had to change it up a bit and add my personal touches to the design. As you can see, the main change I made was to omit the verse ("Mend thy soul with needle and threads") because, although I love the verse, I saw this as more of a patriotic or summer piece so I simply left it off. I also converted the DMC threads to similar overdyeds from my stash, added some specialty stitches (satin stitched the grass and the thread on the spools), and sprinkled a few smyrna and eyelet stitches in the centers of the flowers. 

I changed the colors to overdyed threads and added some specialty stitches

 

I think the border is especially pretty in this charming piece--and I do love those patriotic colors! I found a thrifted frame in my stash that I chalk-painted (Waverly Inspirations "Plaster" color) and distressed, added a backing of royal blue gingham cut from a thrifted man's shirt (washed, of course!), and glued some white ric-rak around the edges. Simple, but oh-so-pretty! This will decorate my home all summer. Thank you again to my dear friends at Twin Peak Primitives for the wonderful kit--I so enjoyed every stitch! Please check out their Etsy shop right here for many, many more beautiful designs! 

A pretty summer addition to my patriotic decorating!

So, how many of you love finding bargains in thrift stores? As I mentioned, both the frame shown above and the blue gingham backing fabric came from my local Goodwill. I hadn't been in a thrift store since March of 2020 when Covid began spreading so quickly. But, being fully vaccinated, I recently paid my Goodwill a visit in early May and, boy, did I find some gems! A beautiful blue and white piece of Polish Pottery, two pretty beaded frames in a pale yellow, and a very fun child's play car all hopped into my shopping cart. Would you like to see my finds? 

A woman at the Goodwill store actually stopped me and asked if this $3.98 tray was Polish Pottery. I told her I didn't know--that I just loved it 'cause it was blue and white. She picked it up out of my cart, checked the bottom, and said, "Yup! You got a great bargain!"

These pretty beaded, pale yellow framed flower prints were only $2.98 each. They look perfect in my bathroom!

My favorite find that day was this Fisher Price "Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car" that cost $5.99. When I got home I was shocked to learn that it sells for $60! I can't tell you how much fun my little grandson (who turns 11 months old today!) had with it during his visit--the sounds, the songs, the little activities... it kept him entertained for hours and he loved simply crawling in and out (and over!) it!

I don't always find something when I go to thrift stores, but that visit was special. I also bought a lot of children's books for 79¢ each (as if I hadn't saved enough from my own kids through the years!) and a couple of little ghost votive candle holders. But, thrift stores aren't the only way I find bargains... Over the years, I've been known to pick up little "treasures" (my husband doesn't quite agree with that description!) that my neighbors have put out on the street for garbage pickup.  This little rolltop desk was my favorite find from something a neighbor had left by the side of the road and my youngest son used it in his bedroom for years.

Yes, I found this sweet children's rolltop desk sitting out for trash pickup years ago. Why, oh, why wouldn't they donate it to a charity rather than throw it out. It is my favorite "rescue!"


So, that brings me to this week's "Getting To Know You" section: Do you enjoy going to thrift stores, yard sales, and such? And what are some of your favorite finds? My answer:  I grew up with a mom who loved a bargain so I think that is where my love of thrifting came from. When my kids were little, I would haunt yard sales every Saturday morning picking up books, clothing, and toys--many of which were cleaned up and given to my sons for Christmas and birthday gifts. They never knew the difference as I always bought things which looked brand new. It was never a matter of not having the money for new things--just the thrill of a bargain!  So, how about you? Have you found anything really special at yard sales or thrift stores?

Thank you so much for your answers to my last "Getting To Know You" question in my previous post... I really enjoyed hearing about all the career aspirations you had as children. No one seemed terribly unhappy with what they ended up doing in life which was nice to read, too. 

Giveaway... With summer upon us, that means the 4th of July and lots of red, white, and blue stitching. Would any of you like to stitch this pretty design called "Patriotic Quilts" from the August 2007 issue of  "The Cross Stitcher" magazine? If so, here are the guidelines: 1) Specifically mention that you want to enter to win this chart, 2) Include your email address, if I don't already have it, and 3) Answer the above "Getting To Know You" question in your comment on this post. I'll draw a name at random and let you know the winner in my next post at the end of June, okay? Good luck to all!

If you would like a chance to win this quilt chart, please follow the directions above! Make sure to leave your email address.


 

Giveaway winner from my previous post... I had quite a few people entering to win the Cricket Collection "Wooly Mittens" chart that I offered in my last post. The winning name pulled from the hat is...

 NDAVIS! 

Ndavis--you are the winner!

I'm not sure of your exact name or where you live, but congratulations Ndavis! Please contact me via email (my email is in my profile in the sidebar) with your mailing address and I will get this chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy stitching these cute mittens--I may have to stitch that Santa moon one soon, myself!


A small public service announcement... UGH!!! We are having an epidemic of deer ticks which cause Lyme Disease here in Pennsylvania. Our state is one of 12 states which make up 94% of the Lyme Disease cases in the entire United States. Well, just last month when all three of my sons were home, they decided to play a few rounds of "disc golf" (they throw frisbees and try to hit targets in our yard like the pole of the tall bird house, the oak tree in the side yard, etc. and whoever finishes the course with the least number of throws is the winner). Unbeknownst to them, a couple of creepy insects decided to hitchhike on their legs and two of the three ended up with deer ticks burrowing into their flesh. Thankfully, both were spotted later that day and removed, but they had already burrowed, head first, into my sons' belly areas, and were becoming engorged with blood. Disgusting, right? So, my advice is... always, always check yourselves, your loved ones, and your pets each and every time after being outside in grassy areas or on hikes. You just never know! Lyme Disease can be a very long-term debilitating illness if not caught early. Beware and be aware!

I'll leave you with a much prettier vision--these lovely purple flowers are now blooming in our yard. I sure wish the blooms lasted longer, but what a welcome sight they've been this spring!

Chives, clematis, and salvia in my garden

I hope your June is off to a great start, my friends! Only 12 days until the official start of summer--I can't wait... I want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers--so glad to have you here! Thank you, as always for your visit today, your sweet comments, and emails, and your friendship. I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Bye for now...

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A month of baby babbles, beautiful birds, and bountiful blessings

Good morning, good morning! How are you all doing on this final weekend of May? I hope you're relaxing and remembering those who fought for our freedoms on this Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. For me, Memorial Day always feels like the official start of summer--how about you? We're planning a picnic dinner complete with the traditional grilled burgers and kielbasa, baked beans, corn, and ice cream sundaes on Monday. Bring on the warm weather, I say! After a month of very up and down temperatures, things finally seem to be trending toward the warmer side and I couldn't be happier. Unfortunately, here in southwest Pennsylvania, the hot weather brings humidity which I can tolerate less and less as I get older. If there is any place in the world that has perfect weather, I'd sure love to know about it!

May, for my family, has traditionally been one of "those" months--the super busy ones with birthdays, anniversaries, gardening chores, spring cleaning, etc. July is the other one of "those" months for our family. This May was busier than ever with my grandson (and his mom and dad, of course!) visiting for two weeks. I spent the first week of May preparing for their visit: babyproofing the house, cooking and baking ahead, cleaning, buying extra groceries, making up beds, etc. This last week of May was spent doing laundry, cleaning and putting the house back in order, and simply recovering from the middle two weeks. Because, boy... does a 10-month-old exhaust you. What I wouldn't give for one tenth of his energy! Many nights I went to bed before the baby--honestly!

My needle and thread didn't see much action this month, but I did manage to get my monthly Christmas ornament finished. My ornament for May is from The Prairie Schooler Book No. 36: "St. Nicholas II." I call this one "Welcome Santa" because the pineapple has come to symbolize hospitality and a warm welcome throughout the world. The colors in this design are quite different--the purple of the grapes and bright yellow/gold of the pineapple and the pears certainly liven it up, don't they?

Prairie Schooler Santa from Book No.36

My May ornament was stitched on 32 ct. black Belfast linen with the suggested DMC colors. I kept the finish quite simple using only my handmade cording--a classic finish for a classic design.

My May 2021 ornament

The finish was the same as the one for another PS Santa from the same booklet that I stitched back in  2013 (you can read about the changes I made to the cardinal-carrying Santa in this post). The Prairie Schooler booklet contains six other designs and I'm sure I'll be stitching at least a few of them in the future.

Love how the colors pop on the black linen!

I just realized that I never shared my April ornament finish with you! I posted it on Instagram, but totally forgot to include it in my last post here on my blog. Well, you guessed it--it's another Prairie Schooler Santa. This one is the 2021 annual Santa and is, just maybe, my favorite PS Santa yet! I love all the sweet woodland creatures, especially the snowy owl and that quail perched inside Santa's sack.

The 2021 annual Prairie Schooler Santa

I didn't include the words "Winter Woods" that were charted and chose to simply stitch some random snowflakes instead. What do you think? I think all five look so nice lined up in the long wooden box. I've finished them all the same way with a checked bow and gingham fabric on the back. Will I ever get all of the annual Prairie Schooler Santas stitched? It is looking less and less likely, I'm sad to say...

Do you have a favorite?
 


In other stitching news, I received two wonderful gifts from stitching friends. Karen Y. from Indiana sent me the prettiest cardinal that she made into a flatfold. She did an amazing job on her finish and I have it displayed in the living room next to my dad's photo since cardinals always remind me of him. Karen sent the sweetest note saying she was sending me this as a "token of my appreciation for your wonderful blog." I was so touched and I am truly honored that you would send me such a thoughtful gift. Thank you so very much, my friend!

Beautiful flatfold from Karen Y.!

And from another stitching friend in Arizona came three lovely charts! Again, this friend wanted to thank me for all the time and effort I spend in writing my blog. Thank you so much for thinking of me--I truly appreciate each and every comment, gift, or kind email from my friends and readers. When I began writing "Stitching Dreams" way back in 2009, I never dreamed I would "meet" so many stitching friends--I feel so blessed to have you in my life!  I look forward to stitching these cute charts very soon. Well, actually, I have stitched a couple of the little mittens from The Cricket Collection "Woolen Mittens" chart since I already own it! 


Three cute charts from an Arizona friend!

This was my finish from the "Wooly Mittens" chart back in 2014. He's one of my favorites with his frosty red button nose! So, what will I do now that I own two of these charts? Why, give one away, of course! 

My 2014 finish from the Wooly Mittens chart that I'm giving away

So, who would be interested in winning The Cricket Collection "Woolen Mittens" chart? If you are, please 1) let me know specifically in your comment below, 2) include your email address if I don't already have it, and 3) answer the question in the "Getting To Know You" section below. I will pick a winner at random and announce the name in my next blog post in June. Good luck to all! 

If you would like to win this chart... just follow the directions above!


Getting To Know You... For those of you who may be new to "Stitching Dreams," I like to pose questions now and then which allow me to learn a bit more about you. This week's question is, "When you were a child, what career did you want for yourself when you grew up?" My answer: When I was young I loved playing school--I mean truly loved it! And I always wanted to be the teacher when we played with other kids in the neighborhood... But, somewhere around age 12, I fell in love with libraries and books and everything that goes along with them and set my sights on becoming a librarian. I was fortunate that I had a goal so early in life and went on to achieve it. I truly loved my job as a reference librarian for 29 years (even though the salary was embarrassingly low!) and am so glad I had a job that enabled me to work part-time while I was raising my three sons.  Now it's your turn... I'd love to get to know you better and hear all about your career dreams as a child! Did they come true? Do you have any regrets or wish you had taken a different path?

So, a bit about the busy, busy month of May... It actually was a bittersweet month for me as it was the first Mother's Day without my mom. It certainly helped having two of my three sons, my daughter-in-law, middle son's girlfriend, and my little grandson here, but, yes... it was difficult and there were tears... My day started out with a wonderful brunch prepared by my kids.

Mother's Day brunch of blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, berries and orange juice

My Mother's Day gifts included the prettiest blue hydrangea (and a box of pastel-hued macarons which I forgot to photograph) from my middle son and his girlfriend, some delicious cupcakes and a gift card to Michael's from my youngest son, and a very cute library-themed pouch, woven basket (where I'm now keeping some of my thread), and a set of lovely blue and white coasters from my oldest son and his family. I'm getting to "that age" where I'm very hard to purchase gifts for. At age 66, I'm trying to pare down my belongings and don't want to add much more "stuff" (well, except cross stitch stuff, of course!). I know it's difficult for my kids, but I think they did a great job! I remember racking my brain trying to come up with gift ideas for my mom as she got older. I still believe that the best gift you can give an older person is the gift of time, companionship, and help around the house and yard.

Gifts from my family for Mother's Day 2021

A mere five days after Mother's Day, another difficult day arrived--what would have been Mom's 94th birthday. Last year, I was with her for her 93rd while helping care for her and nursing her back to health after she nearly died in late April 2020. I'm so glad I got to spend her final birthday with her and will be forever grateful to have spent so much quality time with her during what were to be her final few months before her death in July. Boy, do I miss her...

Me at age 4 months helping mom celebrate her 28th birthday

The two weeks that my grandson spent visiting were, although exhausting, absolutely delightful. I could spend hour after hour simply watching him as he played and learned and took such pleasure in all of his little discoveries throughout the day. You can almost see the wheels turning as he absorbs new sights and sounds and learns how to do new things. While here, he learned "So Big," how to clap, and how to stand up (followed by clapping for himself while standing and looking around to make sure we were all clapping for him, too!). So adorable...

He took special notice of all the wildlife in our yard: the deer, the groundhogs, the chipmunks, and the squirrels, but he especially loved the birds so we took him to the National Aviary here in Pittsburgh for an afternoon. What beautiful birds--very exotic and colorful (although Baby B seemed to enjoy watching the other visitors even more than he did the birds!).   

Just a few of the colorful birds at the Pittsburgh National Aviary

We also saw some other memorable feathered friends at the aviary...

A handsome Bald Eagle
 
A cuddly looking pair of owl finches

Everyone's favorites--the African Penguins

Back home, my grandson loved watching our colorful backyard birds, too, including the bluejays, a rare Baltimore Oriole, and the hummingbirds. At one point a hummingbird hovered right outside the kitchen window that Baby B was standing at--looking right in at him. I caught my breath as I watched it and honestly felt mom's presence...

The hummingbirds returned to western Pennsylvania this month!

Beautiful to look at, but the Bluejays are bullies to other birds!

I've only seen a Baltimore Oriole twice in our yard--ever! Was thrilled to see this bright one in May.

The squirrels were especially entertaining as they've discovered how to climb up the shepherd's hook that holds our feeders and gobble up the birdseed. The baby so enjoyed "talking" to them as he smiled at their antics each day.

The squirrels seem to think this is their personal feeder/swing.

 
When they're done eating, they shimmy down the pole like a fireman!

A typical sunny morning in my kitchen (with the squirrels enjoying a breakfast of birdseed in the background!)

In addition to spending time watching the wildlife, we took our grandson to meet his great-grandparents in Ohio where we celebrated his great-grandmother's 93rd birthday, to his first picnic in a local park to meet his parents' friends, and introduced him to his uncle and aunt (my middle son and his girlfriend who hadn't yet met the baby). He also got to meet my middle son's cat, Spike (and loved him just a little too much--the cat was afraid of that small human who crawled around at his level!). My middle son  found a small plastic swimming pool that a neighbor was giving away  and brought it over so Baby B could enjoy swimming in it during the very warm weather in the second week of their visit. My youngest son also came up from Washington DC for four days and we were finally (for the first time since November 2019!) all together once again... 

Lots of firsts and I'm so glad I was there to witness them! We'll be heading out to California in July for the baby's first birthday (can you believe it?!), so, although it was hard to say goodbye, I know it won't be too long until we see him again. I have to admit, though, that I sat down and cried and cried when I saw his little toys just sitting on the floor of our sunroom after we dropped him off at the airport for the flight back to San Diego. It's so hard being so far apart--I hope you grandparents who are lucky enough to have your grandchildren nearby know how blessed you are!

Baby B (10 months old) relaxing after a swim in his little plastic pool.

Well, this post is long enough--I sure hope at least a few of you have made it to the very end! I'll leave you with this very special photo that I took in the middle of the night at 2 AM Thursday morning during May's "super flower moon." I got up to use the bathroom and as I glanced out at the backyard, I noticed a beautiful beam of moonlight shining down from the sky. I immediately thought of my mom. Luckily, I had just purchased a new iPhone earlier this week and I took this very cool photo of that moment with the Night Mode feature. I feel very blessed to have received so many "signs" from Mom during her birthday month...

The super flower moon taken at 2AM in the morning

Wishing you all a wonderful month ahead--it's hard to believe how quickly 2021 is flying by, isn't it? Thank you for visiting today--and a special thank you to those of you who take the time to leave a comment. I know your time is precious and I truly appreciate each and every comment and email. Take care, my friends! Bye for now...