Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A pair of elves, an old red truck, and a surprise destination!

I'm getting better! It's been less than two weeks since my last blog post--can you believe it? Since then I've  lived through that horrid heat wave that hit much of the U.S. and then experienced a string of almost perfect 75° days with low humidity. I think they were our reward for putting up with all of that heat wave nonsense! But, the good thing about a heat wave is that you can't be outside very long which left plenty of time for sitting and stitching in air conditioned comfort. I only have two finishes to share with you today, but two more projects are "almost done."

Oh, it was so hard to part with this little cutie... I stitched this sweet pair of elves  (on a 32 ct. mystery linen from Lizzie Kate's "Tiny Tidings XXII") for a gift for a former co-worker who just moved into her first home. She is a baker and she loves little creatures like gnomes and such, so I thought this cute elf couple sharing a giant chocolate chip cookie would be perfect for a Christmas ornament. If any of you have stitched this, you'll notice I made a few changes... In addition to a few color changes (the main being the face and cheeks where I used DMC 950 and 758), I didn't care for the row of flowers that was charted under the elves. So, I simple stitched "Merry Christmas" and added two small hearts. I also added some "steam" rising from the mug and changed the hair color to resemble that of the recipients. What do you think?

Lizzie Kate's elf couple from "Tiny Tidings XXII"

I thought a wooly flannel in green would be the perfect accent fabric along with a cheery red print and a bit of white ric rak peeking out. The cording is made from the same shade of green as in the elf boy's shirt.  This one just may have to be stitched again for my own tree!

The baking elves finish--so adorable!

My second piece was finished just in time for the 4th of July and is from our friend Nurdan who used to blog, but now has an online Etsy shop under the name Twin Peak Primitives. When I posted this on Instagram last week, I had so many people requesting information on where to buy the chart. Well, all you have to do is go to the Twin Peak Primitives Etsy shop, right here... there are so many cute designs to choose from!  This design is called "Patriotic Olde Truck" and it is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco.  I did change a couple of the colors--used GAST Mulberry for the rusty red color and GAST Freedom for the blue. I also changed the tire colors to DMC 844 because, well, DMC black would never show up on the black Monaco, would it? I also changed the font of the words and stitched them in white so they would really pop against the dark background.

Twin Peak Primitives: "Patriotic Olde Truck"

And here is my finish--simple and patriotic using fabric from a checked towel that I purchased at a local store along with ecru colored ric rac and a rusty star that I glued into place. I love it!

A star-spangled finish!

Giveaway winner... I had eight entries for the little Uncle Sam Flatbed chart so I simply drew a name out of a hat (well, really a bowl!) and up came the winner....

Meari, congratulations...  please send me your mailing address and I will get this out to you as soon as possible.

Meari--you are the winner!

If you didn't win, keep an eye on this space. More charts will be given away soon... In fact, why not now? Would anyone like to give this pretty chart a new home?

♥♥♥ NEW GIVEAWAY for July... I was recently given this charming Butternut Road chart called "Children's Garden" from a very generous reader (who wishes to remain anonymous). It is a fairly large chart at 199 stitches X 133 stitches, but it calls for only DMC floss. I think this perfectly captures the innocence of childhood from a bygone era... Since I already own a copy of this chart, my friend wanted me to simply pass it on to someone who might want to stitch it. So, how about you? If you are a follower and would like a chance to win, please let me know in your comments. As always, please include your email address if I don't already have it... Best of luck to all who enter and I will reveal the winner's name the next time I post.

I'm giving away this "Children's Garden" chart

"Oh, the Places You'll Go: Part II"   Do you remember when I teased you with the "Day 3" happenings in my previous post? I asked where you all thought we went during our third day in southern California? There were some great answers: Balboa Park, the beach, the San Diego Zoo, and even Phoenix. Nope... We walked into Mexico! Yes, that's right: walked...into...Mexico! Who knew that you could simply park your car on the U.S. side of the border, 20 miles south of San Diego, and casually walk over into the city of Tijuana  after presenting your passport and signing one quick form!?

Now I can just hear you whispering... "but, was it safe?" I was nervous--I have to admit; but having my wonderful daughter-in-law, (who is of Mexican-American heritage), with us, gave me extra courage. She helped us navigate the city on foot and via taxi and Uber rides very easily. Things have improved, in terms of safety, since the major drug cartel era of the 1990s and early 2000s--and as long as you stay within the heavily traveled tourist areas, it is supposed to be pretty safe. We had no problems whatsoever on the day we spent in Tijuana.  At the same time, I felt like I needed to be quite vigilant and aware of my surroundings. The city has come a long way from the drug wars that engulfed it a while back--but it has a long way to go. There is a lot of poverty and street crime (and much worse) outside of the well-traveled tourist spots.

So, would you like a little tour of Tijuana? First of all, I learned that I've been mispronouncing Tijuana my entire life--I had been putting an extra "a" in there (Ti-a-jua-na) and that is not correct. It is simply Ti-jua-na.  From the time we stepped onto Mexican soil, it was just a short walk to the main touristy area:  Avenida Revolución. Restaurants and souvenir shops abound and the strangest thing for me was how the owners of these establishments would stand outside their shops and call for you to come in and shop or dine. 

This huge arch was the first thing we spotted as we began our walk down Avenida Revolución.

It was a rare cloudy, cool day in Tijuana, but these vibrant banners helped brighten the visit.

My husband and I pose behind the colorful Tijuana sign. It was very chilly--so glad I wore a jacket and long pants!

A zonkey?? Some of the most interesting sights were all of the "zonkeys" that were waiting on many of the street corners. What is a zonkey? Well, from a distance--they truly do look like zebras, but they are really just donkeys painted to look like zebras. This is a long-standing Tijuana tradition (going back over 100 years) in which serape-draped donkeys carrying sombrero-wearing tourists are photographed for a fee. Years ago, with only black and white photography,  the donkeys would simply fade into the background and the customers were disappointed with their pictures. So someone came up with the idea of painting the donkeys with black paint, hair dye, etc. to resemble zebras. It worked! The newly created "zonkeys" were a hit and many a Tijuanan has made money photographing his favorite animal and a willing tourist. Of course, there are arguments about whether or not this is hurting the donkeys, but the "zonkeys" have become an important part of Tijuanan culture--there is even a basketball team named the Tijuana Zonkeys.

Barbi the Zonkey chomps on corn as she waits for her next customer!

Colorful street art and Mexican flags lined Avenida Revolución

My son suggested taking a taxi ride over to the Pacific Ocean and it was quite an unforgettable experience. At this spot, is the westernmost point of the 1954-mile border between the United States and Mexico. As you can see, there is a rusty 15-foot high fence that separates the two countries and juts out into the Pacific Ocean for several dozen yards.

On the left: Tijuana, Mexio  ~  On the right, California, U.S.A.

The Mexican side of the fence has been painted with different sentiments and names and photos of various Mexican deportees

In this photo, a Mexican woman visited through the fence with her family or friends who were on the U.S. side.

There are many large decorative fiberglass hearts on display. This one overlooks the Pacific Ocean and says "El amor es una verdad,  la unica verdad" which translates to:  "Love is a truth, the only truth."

So, would I go to Tijuana a second time? Probably not... although I'm glad I went once. I've heard that people are braver when they are on vacation--that they step out of their comfort zone and try new things. This was definitely the case for me! Have you ever tried anything out of your comfort zone while on vacation?  It was an eye opening experience that I will never forget and it certainly made me appreciate how very blessed I am to live in the United States of America.

All creatures great and small... Returning to my little corner of the world after being away from home always makes me smile. I am a true homebody, that's for sure. Lately, all sorts of critters have been visiting our yard...

One of the two darling fawns recently born (who promptly bent down and ate my lavender plants as soon as I took this photo!)

This crazy groundhog has made himself right at home. I caught him gnawing on the fibers of our front doormat last week. After he'd had his fill, he just plopped himself right down on our front porch and watched the world go by!

A handsome male Black Swallowtail loves the dianthus plant that my middle son and a friend brought me on the 4th of July!

This fuzzy buzzing bee enjoyed the salvia plant, but was so hard to photograph. Can you spot him in the lower left?

So, what does the rest of July hold? Well, I'll be heading up to New York State to attend my 45th high school reunion! What??? How can I be that old? Several of my best friends from way back then are going to be there also and I haven't seen most of them since I was 18 years old. Will we recognize each other? I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous... I've only been to one of my reunions and that was the 20th--25 years ago.  How do you feel about reunions? Wish me luck! 

Thank you all for stopping by today; whether just to see my stitching photos or to read about my travels--or both, I so appreciate you taking the time you take to say "hello!" I hope to be back in a couple of weeks with the winner of my giveaway and a new finish or two.  Until then, bye for now...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"Oh, the places you'll go!"

Well, hello there--and yes, another entire month has passed since my last blog post! I bet you were all ready to give up on me, weren't you?  I could have posted earlier, but there wouldn't have been much to show... Most of you know I usually show only finished projects; oh, a rare partially finished piece sneaks in now and then, but, for me, it's all about my finishes. That is why I started my blog way back on that cold, snowy January day in 2009--to keep track of my finishes. So, when I work on a larger (for me!) piece, I just don't post as often. Plus, there is the little factor of traveling thrown in--and June saw a lot of it! I'll get to that further on in the post, but first of all I'd love to share my latest finish.

I don't think this is one of the more commonly stitched Prairie Schooler designs--do you recognize it? This sweet finish (using the suggested DMC threads on 40 ct. burch Newcastle linen) is from PS "Spring Samplers" (Book No. 60). I fell in love with not only the tiny creatures, but the message: "Doth thou not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together."

Prairie Schooler "Spring Sampler" (Book No. 60)

I was vaguely familiar with that quote, but the retired librarian inside had me researching its origins, of course! It turns out it is ancient--written way back in A.D. 167  by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was actually advising his readers to get out of bed each morning and get busy--in other words, to do their jobs in order to keep the world humming. After all, if the tiniest creatures can do so, why can't you, he ponders. Interesting that this still holds true so, so many years later.

A timeless quote...

The border got a bit tedious on this one, but I loved stitching the tiny creatures and flowers. Birds, bunnies, butterflies--so sweet. And, well, the frog and the snail are cute, too (sort of!). And can you spot the wee spider hanging from the web and the cluster of buzzing bees?

Even the snail is cute!

I am planning on stitching one (or two) more of these Prairie Schooler spring/garden samplers and then framing them separately, but displaying them together. If you remember the bee sampler that I stitched last year, I think you'll agree that it will be perfect framed next to my latest finish. I'm stitching them all on the same 40 ct. linen...

My two completed samplers--more are on the way!

I did get my ornament for June stitched, but not finished and I'm almost done with a house-warming Christmas ornament gift for a former co-worker. I should have those finished up in time for my next post...

Kindness abounded this month...  For some reason, I must have been a very good girl this month because I received the most wonderful gifts from my readers and friends. My goodness--I would have thought it was my birthday, but no--that was 6 months ago. I just shake my head in amazement when I think of all the sweet, thoughtful people I have met through my blog... Amazing! So, here is what appeared in my mailbox--in the order the gifts were received!

♥♥♥ From my long-time blogging friend, Annie, came a package of delights to thank me for being a good friend... Annie made this lovely thread keep (a Blackbird Designs chart), and sent some beautiful bird and flower buttons (she knows me well!), and a pretty array of silk threads. I'm honored to be your friend, Annie--you are so thoughtful and sweet... Thank you so very much for your delightful gifts!

Gifts from Annie

♥♥♥ From a blog reader and fellow stitcher, Pam in Virginia, came this cute bee chart to help me in my endeavor to create a "bee bowl." I don't think I've ever seen this designer before... Thank you so very much, Pam--I love it!

Gift from Pam

♥♥♥ From another blog reader/fellow stitcher who wishes to remain anonymous (but I know who she is--so thank you so very much, my friend!), came this amazing selection of Ewe & Eye & Friends charts! She simply wanted to thank me for my blog and she knew I was interested in EEF designs... I was so excited as they almost all "new-to-me" charts. I do have a couple of them already and was told I could pass them on in a future giveaway (so be on the lookout). Thank you, again!

Anonymous gifts from a stitching friend

♥♥♥ From Louise at Raggedy Stitcher, came this lovely Blackbird Designs chart which she sent to thank me for lending her a hard-to-find chart. I truly love the soft colors in this one. Thank you so much, Louise--that was so sweet of you!

Gift from Louise

♥♥♥ From another longtime blogging friend, Lois, came a packet that I will be sure to put to good use. Lois has been quilting more than stitching lately. She thought I might be able to use some of her fabric scraps in my small finishes so she thought of me (yes, please!!). Anything with a small print is perfect for my finishing--and she also included two pieces of higher count linen which she knows I like. Thank you very much, Lois--that was so thoughtful of you--and I love the fact that they came all the way from Ireland!

Gifts from Lois

♥♥♥ And last, but not least, I won a giveaway for this fun sampler on Instagram from Lisa S. (lschindcm on Instagram). A lot of folks on Instagram have been stitching the "Sally Spencer Sampler" by Birds of a Feather, lately. It's an older design, but it seems to have caught everyone's attention again--I love it when that happens with an older publication. Thank you so much, Lisa--I will be sure to pass it on in a giveaway of my own when I am done stitching it!

Giveaway win from Lisa S.

Speaking of Instagram... I know some of you are hesitant to join, but I hope you'll reconsider it. You do not have to post anything--you can still create an account in order to see some stunning pieces of cross-stitch from all around the world. I am so glad I joined two years ago and if you would like to follow me, just click here. It is quick and easy and doesn't take much time at all--I honestly think you'll enjoy yourself.

Giveaway... While going through my stash I found that I had two copies of this sweet patriotic design, "Uncle Sam Flatbed" by Bent Creek Designs. Would any of you like to give one a new home? If so, please mention it in your comment and make sure to include your email address if I don't already have it. And to make it more fun--tell me your favorite Fourth of July tradition or your favorite summer picnic food! I'll draw a winner and post it in July--too late to stitch it for this year, but you'll be early for the next Fourth of July!

I'm giving away this Uncle Sam chart!

Travels in June... So, have you been wondering about the title of my post: "Oh, the places you'll go?" Are you familiar with the Dr. Seuss book of the same title? If you're not, I'm sure readers the world over are well aware of the famous Dr. Seuss himself; a classic author of many a book from our childhood. Well, in addition to a trip to New York in early June to visit my dear mom, my husband and I took a trip to La Jolla, California. La Jolla, once the home of the now-deceased Dr. Seuss, is, more importantly, now the home of my oldest son and dear daughter-in-law! If they have to live almost 2500 miles away, at least it is in once of the prettiest areas of the United States with an almost ideal year-round temperature and lots of sunshine...  Here are some of the places we visited and photos I took while there.

Our first day found us hiking along the Pacific Ocean in the lovely Cabrillo National Monument area located at the southern tip of Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego. This 140+ acrea area was named in honor of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on what is now the west coast of the United States in 1542. It was used as a base of defense in WWII; in fact some of the old searchlight bunkers can still be spotted dotting the rocky edifices. There are several museums as well as the Old Point Loma Lighthouse which contained replicated rooms similar to those the lighthouse keeper and his family would have lived in.

View from Cabrillo National Monument

A large ship passing by

The air was so fresh and clean out there!

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

A closer view of the lighthouse

On the second day, we went to The University of California, San Diego to get an interesting tour of the lab my daughter-in-law works in (she is doing a post-doc involving sepsis research). I even got to wear the purple gloves and practice using pipettes (let's just say science wasn't my best subject in school--ha!). After that we toured some of the campus and came upon the Geisel Library--yes, the UCSD library is named after the man better known Dr. Seuss (who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel). Inside, there were some of his original drawings and book ideas and outside was this wonderful statue of him and his most-famous subject, "The Cat In the Hat!" Oh, how I enjoyed that book--and loved reading it to my kids. It was definitely one of my favorites along with "Green Eggs and Ham" and "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." Did you know he is the ninth best-selling fiction author of all-time?! Which Dr. Seuss book was your favorite?

Dr. Seuss and the most famous cat in the world!

Me with some new friends

Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)

"Oh, the places you'll go"

The late afternoon of the second day found us exploring the tidal pools along the La Jolla shores. This area is normally underwater except for a short time at low-tide each day. Huge boulders shaped by years of waves and erosion created a very unique landscape--and not the easiest surface to hike on! 

The rocky tidal pools in La Jolla

My son dared to walk barefoot on those rocks--not me!

Looking up at the rocky walls  which are usually partially buried by water

My husband and me after nearly 41 years of marriage!

On our fourth day, we were all pretty tired so we just spent a relaxing morning doing an easy hike in the hills near Poway, California. Pretty scenery included a local reservoir and a lovely white bird gazing across the water. The hiking is so different compared to back east! We have many forests and cool wooded trails; out there it is very hot and desert-like with very little shade. Both are interesting, though!

Hiking near the Poway reservoir

Such a peaceful scene, isn't it?

One last view...

So, that was days one, two, and four--but, wait--what about the third day you may ask? Hmmm.... well, that will be a tale for my next blog post. Anybody have any guesses as to where we went?

A bit of baking... I'll leave you with one final photo of a tasty dessert I made Sunday night. You can find this recipe for Blueberry Crisp right here. It was very simple and quick to make for a last minute dessert. The only thing that might have improved it was to make a bit more of the crunchy topping... And, yay, it's blueberry season--one of my favorite times of the year!

Blueberry season means Blueberry Crisp!

I hope a few of you are still with me--this was a long post, but I like to record my travels this way so my mom and other family members can see my photos easily. Our flights back east were uneventful this time (no horrid virus was lurking onboard!) and I'm always happy to see home again. We truly loved our visit, though, and my son and daughter-in-law couldn't have been more welcoming. It's such a different experience now that our kids have grown--we seem more like friends than parents and I so love the adults they've grown into! 

Hope these last few days of June are good to you. Thank you so very, very much for reading--and a special thanks to those who take the time to comment. I read each and every one and I truly appreciate the time it takes you to say "hello!" Bye for now...

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...