Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A month of travel, illness, and visitors (but not much stitching!)

Hello, everyone!  Amazingly, I'm actually posting for a second time this month!   I've been very out of touch over the course of this busy, busy month. I hope you are all well and I truly will do my best to catch up on your blogs next week. I usually stitch every day, but there were quite a few days this month where I just wasn't able to. In mid-May we flew to Florida for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday which was lovely. Not so lovely, was the fact that I must have picked up some very bad virus on the flight home as I became sick with the flu--sicker than I have been in years. It has been two weeks and my voice is just now getting back to normal! Luckily, I recovered  in time for my sister and brother-in-law to visit over the long Memorial Day weekend. And then tomorrow, I am driving up to New York to spend a few days with mom. Whew! June is looking a bit calmer--at least at this point...

After much encouragement from all of you (and many fellow Instagram stitchers), I have decided to go ahead and stitch more little pillows with a bee theme. My latest bee pillow is from Prairie Schooler Book No. 104: G*H*I which is one of the alphabet charts. If you've stitched this one yourself, you'll notice I made a few changes: I stitched pinker flowers, changed the background of the bee square to green, and the main change: I substituted the word "Honeybee" for Honey.

"H Is For Honeybee!"

"H Is For Honeybee" is stitched 'over one' on 28 ct. mushroom Lugana to make it small enough for a little pillow. The finished size of the stitching is just 2.5 X 3.5 inches. I kept the finish fairly simple because there is a lot going on in this design... just added some green cording and a green checked bow. What do you think?

A new finish for my "bee bowl"

Here is a close-up of the bee and words (which would make a nice little pillow all on its own!).

I changed the word "honey" to "honeybee"

I did manage to get my Christmas ornament for May finished up (but, only because I had stitched it last month!). This is my latest finish in Little House Needleworks' Hometown Holidays series and it is called "Main Street Station." If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I am stitching each little building or scene 'over one' on 28 ct. black Monaco which leads to a very small finish. 

Little House Needleworks "Main Street Station"

And, yes... there are more color changes which I specifically chose to complement the grey wool flannel fabric that I had selected to use on the bottom of it.  I'm very happy with the final look--and I truly love how the snowflakes are popping on the black fabric.  

My ornament finish for May

Here are the three in the series that I have stitched so far:  Needlework Shop, Tree Lot, and Main Street Station. I have at least fifteen more to go! But, I am not pressuring myself to stitch them all this year.

Three done--lots more to stitch!

In other stitching news, I received a couple of sweet gifts from fellow bloggers! From Stasi at Bee-mused and Bee-stitching (who may just be the ultimate bee stitcher!), I received a quartet of darling bee charts. Wasn't that thoughtful of her? Thank you so much, Stasi--I really look forward to stitching them as I add to my "bee bowl" this summer!

Wonderful bee charts from Stasi

And all the way from Australia, came this cute gift from Kaye at Kitten Stitching. I had lent Kaye a chart and when she returned it, I found this cute pillow topper in fun pink and black. I just need to find a small pillow insert and then tie the black ribbons around it to display it. Thank you so much, Kaye--that was so very sweet of you!

A cute pillow topper from Kaye in Australia

Giveaway winner... There were a number of you who entered the giveaway for the Theresa Wentzler birdhouse chart so I picked a name out of the hat and the winner is...

Congratulations, Martina! Please send me your mailing address and I will send you the chart as soon as I can. And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on this spot. More charts will be given away in the future!

Martina--you are the winner!

The merry, merry month of May...  So, that ends my stitching news for May, but I'd like to share a few more photos of the fun things I did this month and of our garden visitors.

Scenes from my Mother-In-Law's 90th birthday in Naples, Florida. I basically used the same color scheme and decorating ideas as I used for my own mom's 90th birthday party last May!

When my sister and brother-in-law visited from Boston, we hiked at McConnell's Mills State Park just north of us. Such a beautiful day with equally beautiful scenery!

And my husband and I gave them a tour of beautiful downtown Pittsburgh... Clockwise from top left are... The Duquesne Incline, PPG Place, The Pennsylvanian, and me and my husband with everyone's favorite neighbor, Mr. Rogers!

A new-to-me visitor: The Red-Bellied Woodpecker!

And a brilliant Blue Jay who really is way too big for this suet feeder!

I want to extend a warm welcome to all of my new followers (especially Pam, who I was lucky enough to meet when I sat next to her on my flight down to Florida--she was a cross-stitcher/knitter! What are the chances of that!). Thank you all for you wonderful comments on my stitching and my house in my last post--you are so kind! I'm truly thankful for this wonderful community of cross-stitchers--aren't we the lucky ones? Happy June to you all! Bye for now...

Monday, May 7, 2018

One big pink house and a couple of bees

Happy May, everyone! I hope your weather has warmed up like mine has--finally... It feels so wonderful to walk outside without a coat and simply feel the sun's warmth on my face. It truly was a long, hard winter and not the best to be adjusting to retirement. I hope that I'm breaking out of my cocoon bit by bit now that the weather is nicer and more activities seem to be filling my calendar.  Baby steps...

I've decided that I'm a very slow stitcher! I know it's not a race and the older I get, the more I am stitching just for the pure relaxation of feeling the needle go in and out of the fabric in that special rhythm that it has. And that's one reason why I could never do Stitch Maynia and start a new project each day--it would drive me batty! Why stress myself out?  How about you? Are you participating in Stitch Maynia this year? 

Well, I was bitten by the bee bug recently (or stung, should I say!) as bee themed stitching seems to be calling my name more and more these days. This first finish is a delightful older 2002 sampler from Ewe & Eye & Friends called "Old Rose and Chamomile" which is stitched on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle linen.  Oh, the colors--could they be more spring-like?  I used Gentle Arts "Antique Rose" to create the brick-like appearance of the house, using both the light and dark portions of the thread to form little bricks, and I love how it turned out. My sampler should actually be called "Old Rose and Dandelion Stem" as I substituted GAST "Dandelion Stem" for the called for "Chamomile." It doesn't have nearly the same ring though, does it?! The other change I made to the colors was substituting WDW "Collards" for DMC 3051.

"Old Rose and Chamomile"

The specialty stitches in these Ewe & Eye & Friends designs add such a lovely dimensional look to the finish, don't they? Here are a couple of close-ups so you can see them better. If you haven't tried specialty stitches, please give them a try--they are not hard to do and are actually quite fun! In other changes, I stitched the pretty eyelet stitches on the right vine in the same color as the house and added a tiny doorknob to the front door.

Some of the beautiful specialty stitches

And just look at that giant bee--I love him! The black portion of his body is done in satin stitch along with portions of the grass, urn, and door (which you can see in the photo above).

Rhodes stitches on the flower centers

Stitching this chart now has me on a hunt for more of the Ewe & Eye & Friends house charts. I'd like to stitch and frame them and hang them all together on the wall of one of my bedrooms. They can be hard to find, though, so I'll be haunting eBay and Etsy for a while!

I also had another small, but very cute bee finish that I made into a tiny pillow. Another Ewe & Eye & Friends chart, this one is called "Bee Hive Scissor Companion." It was meant to be turned into a scissor fob, but I went in a different direction. It began with a fairly simple and straightforward finish (although all that satin stitching did cause a bit of a headache for me on the 32 ct. lambswool jobelan).

A tiny Ewe & Eye & Friends beehive

This was one where the finishing actually took longer than the stitching, but I think it looks so darling. Do you think a bowl full of bee pillows might be in my future? Hmmm...

First finish for a new bee bowl???

And look! Everyone's favorite crow couple, Ida Mae and Ira Ray are now framed--and I did it myself! Yay! I used the tutorial on this blog post from With Thy Needle and Thread and am so proud of myself. I purchased the frames online from Franken Frames so I spent less than $25 for each frame. My husband cut out the foam core board for me which was a huge help so I know more self-framing will be in my future. If you are new to my blog and want to read more about the crow couple finishes, just click here

The crows are framed--now I need to figure out the perfect place to hang them!

Do you purchase a lot of stash? I've been watching a few Floss Tube videos lately and have to admit that I'm shocked at how much fabric and how many threads and charts many of these stitchers purchase--each week! I guess I am frugal, but I seem to purchase very little. Or maybe I'm just being realistic; at age 63 I know I already have way more charts than I will ever be able to stitch.  That being said, I did purchase a few goodies last week--all of them at a great price on either eBay or online cross stitch shop sales. I was especially excited to get the "Home for the Holidays" book (Blackbird Designs) as it included some of my very favorite designs. Would you like a closer look?

A few new goodies for me!

Here are just four of the designs I am looking forward to stitching from the BBD booklet! I know many of you have already stitched one or more of these and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Which one should I stitch first?

Giveaway... And I have one last stitchy thing--a chart giveaway. In honor of spring and all the singing birds that awaken me each morning (way too early!), I am offering this beautiful Teresa Wentzler chart which I removed from the August 1998 issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine. You could stitch all five birds as a bellpull or stitch each one individually--either would be lovely. If you would like a better look at the chart, click here. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, please let me know in your comments. And please remember--this is NOT the whole magazine, just five pages of it that will be folded and mailed in a legal sized envelope to save money. PLEASE make sure to include your email address or I won't be able to contact you... I'll announce the winner the next time I post (probably toward the end of May). 

If you are interested in giving this chart a new home--let me know in your comment!

I'll leave you with a couple of photos of the glorious spring trees and flowering shrubs in bloom in my yard--I so wish this time of year would last longer!

Our beautiful white crabapple blooms by our patio each May

♥♥♥ Home ♥♥♥

Thank you all so much for stopping by. Whether you are a long-time reader or a new follower, I'm so glad you visited me today. Thank you for each and every comment--I love reading them and I do appreciate the time it takes to write them. If you have any questions for me, please make sure to include your email in your comments so I can get back to you, okay? Enjoy your week, my friends! Bye for now...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Cheery cherries on a gloomy day

Happy April, everyone--enjoying your "spring" so far? I say that a bit sarcastically because here in western Pennsylvania, we are still getting snow flurries from time to time. In fact, I spotted a few this afternoon... Yes, it IS April 16th, but it feels more like early November weather here. We had a taste of very nice 70°+ weather over the weekend, but it quickly vanished into gray skies, rain, and a bit of snow here and there. But, things are looking up--the forsythia is blooming along with the daffodils (well, those that haven't been eaten by the deer, that is!). The birds are returning and the grass is greening up beautifully!

I have a couple of finishes to share with you today--one big (for me!) and one small. The first is by La D Da and is called "Cherry Picker." It is stitched on 40 ct. pearled barley by Lakeside Linens--a new fabric for me as I generally use 40 ct. Newcastle. But, I enjoyed it very much--just wish the pretty taupey color of the fabric showed up a bit better in my photos. I used most of the suggested colors, but substituted GAST Country Redwood for the suggested red of the cherries. I also changed the color of the leaves to DMC 934 and 936. The charted leaves in the middle were black and that just didn't appeal to me at all!

La D Da's "Cherry Picker" finish

What drew me to this piece (in addition to the cute blackbird carrying his little, red cherry) was that gorgeous alphabet. I think this may be one of the prettiest charted alphabets I've ever seen, don't you agree? I sure wish I could write like this--just look at that stylized F and the beautiful Q and Z! I am someone who almost always prints except when I have to sign a check or legal document so I truly appreciate beautiful handwriting.

Don't you love this alphabet?

I had an issue with the colors of two skeins of DMC, believe it or not! It taught me a lesson, though--start with a fuller skein if you have a large area to stitch. If you look closely you'll see the top 2 1/2 rows of the lighter squares in the basket are darker than the remaining squares. Apparently, my new skein of DMC 612 was lighter than the older skein! I noticed it immediately, but decided there was no way I was going to run off to the store to look for a matching skein--it is a basket after all and they usually have imperfections in colors or the actual weaving. So, it's fine--I'm glad I let my inner perfectionist go this time! I plan on framing this one--it is long and thin, though, so I'll have to figure out where in the house it will fit best.

Look closely--you'll notice that the DMC 612 in the basket is two different colors!

Next up is my small finish--my Christmas ornament for April. Isn't this Santa adorable with his little pigeon-toed feet? And the tiny reindeer--darling! This is called "St. Noel" and is a design from With Thy Needle & Thread which I stitched "over one" on 28 ct. bay leaf Jobelan. I had trouble getting the white to show up so I switched the suggested color from ecru to B5200 and stitched the top of each cross stitch twice. That seemed to do the trick! I also switched the red to DMC 221 and the face color to DMC 407.

St. Noel" finish--such a joyful guy!

I fully finished the ornament this past weekend and love the final result... I combined two fabrics, a strand of homemade cording and a burgundy colored button to accent the stitching. The back of the ornament is also the burgundy and white checked fabric. So, on to my May ornament which I began last night... I'm so pleased to be on track this year with my monthly ornament finishes!

My April 2018 Christmas ornament finish

In other stitching news, I've received some lovely gifts which I'd like to share with you. First of all, I won a giveaway from Arlene at Nanaland. She was offering this cute patriotic chart and when it arrived, I found Arlene had also included a skein of the prettiest spring-colored thread from Colour & Cotton. I'm anxious to try it--it looks wonderful! I hope to stitch up "Land I Love" by Memorial Day and will then offer it as a giveaway right here--so watch for it... Thank you so very much, Arlene!

Giveaway win from Arlene

And from another of my readers (who doesn't want to be identified), I received a large package of charts that she said I can either keep and stitch or use as giveaways. Wasn't that sweet? I was so touched by her kindness and her desire to see these charts go to fellow stitchers. Thank you so much, my friend--I see several that I'll be adding to my stitching line-up and I know those of you who win some of these charts in future giveaways will be most appreciative as well. 

A wonderful grouping of charts from a blog reader and friend!

In the baking department... Easter brought another baking opportunity and the result was this tasty Strawberries 'n' Cream Cake Roll from Sally's Baking Addiction. I was a bit nervous about making this, but the instructions were so clear that it came together very easily... It used freeze dried strawberries which gave the filling a very intense strawberry flavor. My middle son, who is usually not a dessert eater, even had seconds!

I think the bunnies wish they could taste some!

Easter marked the end of my sweets baking for a while as we have no holidays until Memorial Day. But, that doesn't mean the bread-making stops! Sunday found this wonderful Multigrain Bread on our table... Very, very tasty--a great bread to serve with soup and a salad for a simple dinner. I used the multigrain hot cereal from Trader Joe's and added only 2 teaspoons of yeast. Next time, I would cut the salt to 1 teaspoon, too--it tasted just a bit too salty for me!

I'm being good--one slice a day! (Well, I did have 1 1/2 the day I made it!)

Little visitors... I think that's about it for today... I hope to be back at the end of April if I have any finishes to share. Until then here are two sweet visitors (well, the squirrel is just a bit naughty, if truth be told!) who frequent our bird feeders.

Poor squirrel--he spends much of his time perched on that rock looking longingly at the suet feeder!

The Carolina Wren--one of my favorite visitors

Perhaps spring will have sprung by my next post?! I want to thank  you all for your sweet comments and emails--you really are such a wonderful community, you know that? How lucky we are to be stitchers! As always, if you have a question--please make sure to include your email address so I can get back to you. Enjoy your week, everyone--make it a good one!  Bye for now...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Daffodils and chicks--but only in my stitching!

And another month has flown by! March certainly has stayed "lion-like" for us Pennsylvanians, though. I can't remember a more "un-springlike" month! Last week we had seven inches of snow on Wednesday and this week has been cold, rainy day after cold, rainy day. I've been enjoying the spring flowers many of you are showing on your blogs--but I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous! I guess the only positive in this dreary weather is that it's enabled me to have a lot of stitching time...

My big finish is Prairie Schooler's "Daffodils" (Book No. 146) which seemed to take forever! There is so much solid stitching in these monthly samplers, isn't there? I used the suggested DMC threads on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle. BUT--I did make a change in the color of the large daffodil block in the upper left corner. The background of that block was charted to be dark brown and I didn't feel that it looked very springlike. So, I changed it to the lighter green, changed the color of the daffodil from white to yellow, and stitched the leaves in the darker green. 

Prairie Schooler "Daffodils" finished up for March

I had hoped to have some pretty yellow daffodils from my garden to photograph alongside my finish. Ha! Not this year--we'll be lucky to get any by mid-April. Here are a few close-ups for you...

I love the way the alphabet is spelled out in the grass--it reminds me of wildflowers!

I did make a design change to this chart--the two doors weren't the same size and I know that would have driven me crazy. I like symmetry in my life!  The door on the left was one square smaller than the window above. So, I changed it which meant I had to change the design of the gray steps under the door. I also left out the window panes in the tiny window in the peak.

A pretty in pink house!

I changed the background behind the largest daffodil from brown to green

And I made a new little ornament for my Easter collection of smalls. This sweet freebie is from La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix and you can find the chart right here. Actually, I made two of these! One flew to California to live with my oldest son and daughter-in-law and the other is staying right here. The softer colors in the second photo are much more true to life...

New freebie chick from La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix

There is a funny story that goes along with this one... I didn't see that the designer had provided suggested colors, so I went ahead and simply pulled my own colors from my overdyed stash. Then one of my friends on Instagram asked me if I had followed the suggested colors or used my own. I went back to look at the blog, and sure enough--all I would have had to do was scroll down a bit. They were listed after all! Oh well--I think I was so anxious to stitch this one that I simply printed off the chart and didn't look further. Anyway, it turned out very cute, didn't it? I used 40 ct. antique white Newcastle and the following overdyed threads:  WDW Sally's Sunshine, WDW Sweetheart Rose, WDW Ivy, and DMC: 819, 977, 3790.

Yellow gingham ribbon and handmade cording finished this one off

A finish a long time coming!! I really enjoyed reading all of your suggestions for replacing the words "No Vacancy" on my newly found Marjolein Bastin piece. In the end, I chose to go with more nature motifs rather than any words. And this is how it turned out... I added two more leaves and a large egg and I'm very pleased with the final look. The colors in this piece are so soft and soothing.

"No Vacancy" by Marjolein Bastin finally finished after 13 years!!

I have to say, though, that I didn't enjoy stitching over two on the 28 ct. antique white Monaco fabric at all! I am so used to 40 ct. (or over one on 28 ct.) that this just about drove me crazy even though I was stitching only three small motifs. I just hate using two threads anymore--my stitching isn't nearly as neat as when I use one thread...  But, I got it done, ironed it and now just need to find a frame. It really is a darling piece--here are a couple of close-ups for you of the sweet little birds and flowers...

I love the tiny bird perched on the pencil in the foreground!

Lots and lots of brown in those birdhouses!

BLOGGER OF THE WEEK! In other stitching related news, Jo at Serendipitous Stitches, chose my blog as her "Blogger Of the Week" last week. If you'd like to read my interview with her--please check out this post. Thank you again, Jo--that was so sweet of you to include my blog!  

A gift from a friend... For Easter, I received a sweet package of goodies from my friend, Nathalie, in France. It included a cute LK Easter finish, a lovely French Christmas cross stitch magazine, and some very cute bunny tags. Thank you so much, Nathalie--I loved your thoughtful gifts!

Cookies and cake and bread--oh, my!! With my youngest and oldest sons both home two weeks ago, I got more chances to bake--yay!! Cookies, homemade bread, and this Fudge Filled Vanilla Bundt Cake got gobbled down in no time. The cake was so pretty...

And the inside had a decadent surprise... fudgy cream cheese filling! It was "pretty" good, but a bit dry for my taste. Somehow it still disappeared! And a generous portion of my oldest son's favorite ice cream (Turkey Hill "Double Dunker") certainly helped :)

Daily visitors... Our deer have been coming to our yard all winter--they are attracted to the food that spills from the bird feeder hanging outside our kitchen window.  We see these guys (plus one more not in the photo) on a daily basis. And that is why we can't have many pretty flowers in our yard--they devour everything in sight! In the photo below, I simply tapped on the window and they all looked at me with very slight interest--and simply went back to eating our grass! They aren't afraid of us in the least...

If only they would mow the lawn for us!

A few tears were shed... So, my family continues to scatter; my youngest son moved from Washington, DC to Panama City, Panama last week. Sigh... He will be gone six months on an assignment with the U.S. State Department and will live in a hotel! Luckily, it is a beautiful hotel and he has this view from his room--not bad, eh?  Will we go down to visit him? We're not quite sure, but are definitely considering it. Have any of you been there? Surprisingly, it would take us less time to fly to Panama than it would to go to southern California to visit our oldest son (as there is no direct flight to San Diego for us). All I know, is that is is 90° and humid in Panama pretty much year-round.  Hmmm... I'll keep you posted!

My youngest son's daily view in Panama City!

So, what are your plans for Easter? Ours will be quiet--just our middle son and his girlfriend... Thank goodness at least one of our three sons lives nearby--we would be pretty lonely without his almost weekly visits for Sunday dinners. He is our rock in so many ways... So, what are you making for Easter dinner? I think we'll grill a pork tenderloin and, hopefully, I'll get to bake another decadent dessert! Anyway, I hope you each have a lovely Easter weekend...

I truly appreciate each and every comment that you left for me on my last post (so glad you loved seeing my old family barn!).  And, as always, if you have any questions--please, please make sure to include your email address in your comment so I can reply to you... In my renewed interest in Marjolein Bastin art, I came across this darling work--wouldn't that be a wonderful cross-stitched piece?  Bye for now...