Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A big surprise is coming in July!

Finally... the month I've anticipated for a long, long time is here! Can you guess my big news? I bet some of you have figured it out already, haven't you?  Well, for those of you who haven't, take a closer look at the photo below...

My new--and somewhat unusual (for me) -- projects!

Hmmm... not my usual stitching, is it? Do you see the hexie flowers and the little zoo animal stitching, how about the sweet elephant shirt. Surely the smiley-faced booties give it away... YES, I'm going to become a grandmother! After years of hoping and praying, my little grandbaby is due this month! At 65 (and a half!), I am surely one of the older first-time grandmothers around and I often wondered if it would ever happen for me. I think that may make this upcoming grandchild even more special... My husband and I couldn't be more thrilled!

It's been a very emotionally difficult pregnancy for my sweet daughter-in-law in California. If you recall, she suddenly lost her dear mother in March when she was nearly five months pregnant. Can you imagine how hard that has been for her? Her mom was only 71 and I just tear up each time I think of my daughter-in-law not having her mother around for the birth and to witness this new grandchild growing up. I will do the best I can, but I know it's not going to be the same as having her own mother with her on this journey. Throw in the frightening experience of being pregnant while the Covid-19 epidemic is raging around you and she has been through so much over these past 8 1/2 months... But, her bravery and compassion for others will lead to one strong little child in the end, I'm sure.

Can you imagine going through pregnancy without all the "normal things?" Having your husband there at doctor's visits? Sharing your excitement with other pregnant friends over lunch? Enjoying the well-wishes from family at a baby shower? Not being able to attend child birthing classes? It's been tough... We did manage to have an online Zoom baby shower for them at the end of May, though, and it was wonderful how many people were able to attend. We mailed out some decorations which my oldest son and daughter-in-law put up in their dining room, they ordered a small cake and cookies, and then had a total of six Zoom showers--yes, six! They divided them up into families, local friends, hometown friends, college friends, etc. so that there weren't too many people at each one.  And, with everyone in lockdown due to the virus--almost everyone was able to attend virtually! Even my 93 year old mom was in attendance--something that would never have happened if there had been a real-live shower. See... there are silver linings to almost everything! We played a few games, watched them open presents, and just sat there smiling at our friends and family--it was wonderful that, even during these circumstances, everyone was able to pull together to celebrate a precious new life coming into the world.

The baby shower cake and cookies ordered by my son and daughter-in-law. Aren't they adorable?

So, is it obvious what they are having? YES--IT'S A BOY!! Surprise, surprise--well, not really. You see in my husband's family, it is just boy after boy after boy. We have three boys, my husband was one of four boys, his dad was one of two boys... In fact, in the direct lineage over the past five generations on my husband's side of the family, there have been 19 boys and only two girls! Amazing... People have said, "Oh, I bet you wanted a little granddaughter." Not at all--I am so used to little boys and I truly think they are easier to raise (from what I've heard!). Honestly, all I'm praying for is a healthy, happy little grandson. 

It's a boy!

As you can imagine, I've been very busy creating hexie flowers for an "I Spy" quilt for my future grandson. Probably not a gift he will receive until he is at least one or two years old, though, at the rate I'm going. I've never made a quilt of any kind and am just kind of fumbling my way through it. Lots and lots of hand sewing involved in each one of those hexie flowers. And then I have to sew all of the flowers and spacer hexies together--whew! I've had it laid out on my kitchen table since I began sewing it in late March so we've had to eat at the bar countertop all this time! It will definitely be remembered as a Covid-19 creation and I even found a little piece of fabric with a not-so scary "Germ" creature to fold into a hexie shape and sew onto the back of the quilt with a note about life during the pandemic and the baby's birth. 

A portion of the I-Spy Quilt laid out on my kitchen table... Lots of hand-stitching to go!

The little cross stitch piece I've been working on for the baby is called "Zoo Lineup" by The Trilogy. I've left the middle section empty to stitch the baby's name and birthdate. Might add the weight and length alongside the giraffe's neck, too. We'll see! My daughter-in-law and son chose a jungle animal / sloth theme for the nursery so, who knows, a stitched sloth may make an appearance at some point in the future!

All it needs is the baby's name and birth date!

I'll share my progress on the quilt and the little birth sampler as time passes.

For now... I hope you will all keep my oldest son and daughter-in-law in your thoughts and prayers. I will be taking a blogging break for the month of July as I'm going to be helping them out with the new baby. See you all in August--can't wait to be awed by what springs from your creative hands and minds this summer. I'll miss each of you! Thank you again for your wonderful comments and well-wishes for my mom--we both appreciate them ever so much.  Bye for now...

♥♥♥ HAPPY 4th of JULY!!! ♥♥♥

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Heart Full Of Gratitude

Well, it's been a long time again, hasn't it? I feel very out of touch with you all after spending most of the past three weeks caring for my mom and helping her get stronger. But, today, I have one word for my life and that is grateful--I am truly filled with gratitude. Just two short months ago, mom was on the very edge of leaving this world. And, last Friday, guess what??? She was released / kicked out / graduated (whatever you want to call it) from hospice! Yes, she no longer was deemed ill enough to be under hospice care so they could no longer provide their services. The hospice nurse was so happy as she said that is not something she sees in her profession very often. She credited the tender loving care and support that mom received from her family with her truly miraculous recovery. I am so filled with gratitude that I get to spend more time with her and very hopeful that she'll live to see a few more family milestones--even at the ripe old age of 93!

Therefore, my latest finish (which I began way before mom got so ill), is especially meaningful to me. I put the last stitches in it while sitting with her on her couch as we chatted away... This is "Heart Full Of Gratitude" by Cottage Garden Samplings. Stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle with the suggested overdyed threads, this has to be my favorite one of the Songbird's Garden Series so far... The colors are just luscious, aren't they?

"Heart Full of Gratitude" finish

And the details... all so beautifully designed and thought out by Vinniey, the designer at Cottage Garden Samplings.

Little pink houses (for you and me!)

The handsome Dark-Eyed Junco

The stunning shades of pink, mauve, and crimson in the roses

One word: GRATITUDE!

Can't wait to get this framed and hanging on my wall!

Here are all three that I've stitched so far. I plan on stitching at least three more, framing each one with matching frames, and hanging them together.

Wisdom, Love, and Gratitude--three traits we should all strive for in our lives.

I've stitched my ornaments for May and June, too, but they're not finished yet so I'll wait to share them with you. I did finish a little gift for a friend on Instagram which I'm hoping she'll like. She likes red and samplers so I thought this little pillow fit the bill perfectly! This is from the book "Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers" by Jane Greenoff and was stitched on 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle using DMC 221. I omitted the border and made it into a tiny pillow. After I added the cording, I wound two miniature spools with the same red thread and added them to the bottom of the cord. Hope my friend likes it!

A little red sampler gift for a friend

The only other needle and thread related thing I've done is make two more masks--one for my husband and one for me. I used one of his dress-shirts--a no-wrinkle one that he'd barely worn as it was always too large. The pattern I used fits so much better than the pleated kind I made previously and there is a pocket for a filter as well as a casing for a nosewire. If anyone is interested in the tutorial, check this site and the video that goes along with it can be found here. I think more are in my future as I fear we'll be wearing masks for quite a while.

Our new, better-fitting masks

And speaking of masks--I saw this on Instagram and loved it. I am in the mask-wearing camp--really would hate to pass on any germs to anyone if I can help it! You don't wear a mask to protect yourself--you wear it to protect others so please be considerate...

Please wear your masks when around others!

Father's Day was Sunday here in the United States and I wanted to make my husband a special dessert. I'd bought an entire bag of lemons last month with the intent of making a lemon meringue pie, but after the drive home from my mom's on Saturday, I found myself just too tired to whip one up. So, I found this quick and easy (and very tasty!) recipe for "Best Creamy Lemon Bars" online. They taste almost like a lemon cheesecake--very tangy and sweet at the same time with a delicious homemade graham cracker crust at the bottom. I copied the photo on the blog and accented the bars with a bit of whipped cream, slices of lemon, and sprigs of mint from our yard. For the recipe, just click here. I sure wish I could learn to photograph food the way the professionals do! My colors are always a bit "off" for some reason. But, they probably have fancy cameras and lighting equipment, whereas I simply take photos with my phone.

Creamy (and tasty!) Lemon Bars

So, it's time for Getting To Know You! Thank you to all who participated last time--it's nice to know that a lot of you consider yourselves shy and would like to change that. At least I'm not the only one out there! My guess is that a lot of stitchers are on the quiet side and enjoy solitary activities like stitching, reading, etc. For today's question, I'd love to know...

1) What type of area did you grow up in? Was it a large city, a suburb, a farm, small town, house in the country, or did you move around to a lot of different environments? Although I was born in a large city, my parents left there when I was just five and moved back to my dad's home town--just a tiny village with (back then) only one traffic light! It was a wonderful place to grow up in--the kind of place where you really knew your neighbors and everyone looked out for each other's kids. It was the kind of place where kids would stay out until dark playing games like "Kick the Can" and "Spud." You could walk to the local candy store, school, library, post office--anywhere! I loved it, although I probably couldn't move back to such a small town now after living near a big city for the past 43 years. But, I lived there from the time I was five until leaving for college at age 18 so it will always be a very special place to me...  Now, it's your turn... I'd love to get to know you better by hearing about where you grew up! 

So, with mom on the mend, I'm feeling like I can breath again! Thank you, one and all, for your well-wishes and prayers for her. She (and I!) appreciate each and every one. I'll be around to visit your blogs after a very long time away. Although I read a few when I was staying with my mother, I can't comment on them easily on my phone so I may have visited you, but not left a comment. Will try my best to get around to visit all of you soon...

♥♥♥ I just want to leave you with a thought that I think is so timely with everything going on around us these days... Please think before you speak--you may say something that hurts deeply and can never be forgotten or repaired. Take good care my friends! Bye for now... ♥♥♥

Pause before you speak...

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Back from the brink

I'm still here--I hope you haven't given up on me! Hello, my stitching friends... so good to be back and a sincere thank you to all who emailed me regarding my absence from the blogging world. Much of my month was spent anxiously worrying about and caring for my mom. Although she didn't contract COVID-19 per se, she was almost certainly a victim of the effects of it in a different way. The isolation  and lack of hope (while living in her locked-down senior living facility) wore her down to almost nothing. In fact, things were so dire, that my siblings and I drove to New York State on May 2nd to say, what we honestly thought, was to be our final goodbye. Oh, it was simply heartbreaking because we weren't allowed into her facility and had to wear masks and keep our distance while out on the patio. Still, we all broke protocol and gave her hugs as we tearfully said our farewells that Saturday. 

BUT--and it's a HUGE BUT... the director of the senior living facility, sensing that her life was in serious jeopardy, gave permission for me and my siblings to move in with mom (one at a time) to care for her. And you know what? With the one on one care, magic of the human touch, and unmasked smiles and encouragement from her kids, mom has come back from the brink... My sister (who lives closest to mom) took the first 10 day shift and she and I have alternated since. Each day mom is eating better, drinking more water, taking her medications, and responding to the love of her family. We are all so relieved! Thank goodness compassion was chosen over rule-following in this case or I know mom would no longer be with us.  Anyway, I'm leaving the month of  May in a much better state of mind than when it began...

On May 14th, Mom celebrated her 93rd birthday and I was the lucky child who was staying with her during that period. I had stitched a special gift for her and, with her health the way it was, had become increasingly worried that she would not be alive to receive it. But, thankfully, that sunny May morning I was able to give her a gift bag containing her favorite Stonewall Wild Maine Blueberry  Jam, two boxes of Walker Shortbread, and this darling stitched bird perched on a floral wreath.

Mom's 93rd birthday gift

This design is from the April 2018 issue of "Just Cross Stitch Magazine" and is created by Lucie Heaton. Since there are no local stores open to shop for frames right now, I turned to my stash of Goodwill thrifted frames and found this square brown one that fit the bill perfectly. The piece is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with the suggested colors. As most of you know, I am a blue girl and so is mom and the shades of blue in this are just delightful ranging from the palest baby blues, to turquoise to a dark indigo. And, who can resist that sweet little bird?

Luckily, I had this pretty frame in my stash of Goodwill finds!

I had picked the bouquet of lily-of-the-valley, periwinkle, pink columbine, and grape hyacinths before I left to be with my mom in New York on May 11th. Lily-of-the-valley always remind me of her because they bloom in mid-May and I used to decorate her birthday cakes (as a child) each year with the delicate white flowers and purple violets... Such happy memories.  

Just look at those shades of blue!

After pinning and framing the stitching, I like to cover the back of my framed piece with scrapbook paper and add a little tag if it is a gift.  This is the tag that I designed and added to the back--it's just printed on heavy paper and cut out with fancy scissors. It simply makes the gift a bit more special and personal, don't you think?

The back of my gift for mom

Mom was very touched by my gift and I was so relieved to be able to give it to her in person. Below is one of my favorite photos of us taken about this time of year back in 2016. We both look "just a bit" older now--ha ha! I remember this photo so well because my husband was taking our picture and neither mom or I could stop giggling for some reason. I love you so very much, mom! Happy 93rd Birthday!

Mom and me in 2016

I haven't felt like stitching my Christmas ornaments since this pandemic shut everything down, so I had to force myself to catch up a bit with my creations for March and April. Of course, I turned to my favorite comfort stitching designer--Prairie Schooler. For March, I stitched the 1991 annual Prairie Schooler Santa. This is a perfect example of how my tastes have changed through the years. When this design was released in 1991, I had no interest in it at all! But, fast forward to almost 30 (gasp!!) years later and I can see the beauty in it. Just look at all of those details... the pattern in his robe, the fruit in the bowl and the bag on Santa's back, and the piece of fruit sticking out of his pocket. Really, such a wonderful design.

1991 annual Prairie Schooler Santa finish

I finished this one the same way that I've finished other recent annual PS Santas... a checked red backing fabric, DMC 221 cording, and a little bow at the top. Love it! Most of the suggested DMC colors were used on 40 ct. Vintage Country Mocha Newcastle linen. I did substitute DMC 520 for the suggested green and darkened the lines in the pineapple a bit using DMC 869.

Such beautiful details in this one!

I forgot to take a "before" photo of  my April ornament, but I know you'll all recognize this as yet another Prairie Schooler Santa finished in an oval shape. This Santa, with the dove of peace perched on his shoulder, is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen (can you tell I love Newcastle linen??!!). It can be found in the "Kris Kringle" leaflet (book no. 62). I had stitched this one before, but gave it away for a Christmas gift so this one will be staying right here with me.

Prairie Schooler Santa from the "Kris Kringle" booklet

Two more Santas will adorn my Christmas tree this year.

GIVEAWAY WINNER... I'm so sorry to be late with the winner of the giveaway for this pretty red house sampler. I just haven't been home enough to post or to comment on blogs, but I hope to start doing so soon. Anyway, the winner of the chart is...

Jackie--you are the winner!

Congratulations, Jackie! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this out to you as soon as possible! Stay tuned for another giveaway in my next post--and thank you so much to all who commented and entered.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU... I've so enjoyed reading your responses to this fairly new section of my blog and I feel like your responses are helping me know my readers a bit more! So, here is today's question:  

1) What one thing would you change about yourself if you could? Well, in addition to wanting to be taller (I loved being short in high school, but hate it now!), the main thing I'd love to change is to be less shy. I've been shy since childhood and I know it has held me back in life by being too scared to speak up or being afraid to try new things. Starting this blog back in 2009 was a huge, huge leap of faith for me. In fact, people who know me well are very surprised that I blog. I'm so glad I did, though--I've "met" so many delightful people both in person and online. So, now it's your turn: what one thing would you change about yourself if you could?

Spring was cold and damp here in western Pennsylvania... But, because of that, the flowering trees and shrubs were simply lovely and the blooms lasted much longer than normal. Below, you can see some of the signs of spring in my yard and a very upset deer glaring at me through the window wondering why "his" bird seed has been all eaten up! The photo of the newborn deer in my blog header was taken by me way back in 2007. The sweet fawn was born in some tall grass next to our pond and I remember being so worried that the mother had abandoned it. But, no... I've since learned that mother deer leave their fawns for a while to protect them. Babies don't have a scent and the mothers do, so she purposely walks away for a while to lure potential predators from the newborns.

A western Pennsylvania spring: 2020
Two of our resident deer--the one in front is unusually light in color.
I had to laugh when I looked out and saw the fancy pattern the lawn guy left in the grass when he mowed our backyard! I guess he must have been bored or something!

I've been craving comfort foods--especially breads--during the pandemic lockdown so I tried a new recipe. I was very skeptical about how cinnamon-raisin bagels with no yeast would taste, but they were surprisingly good--and very easy to make! You can find the recipe for them right here. I'll definitely be making them again!

Very easy no yeast, no boil Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

I'll leave you with one last photo that is sure to make you smile. This is my "grandcat," Spike, exploring my middle son's new card catalog. To say I was jealous of my son's find is a bit of an understatement... (I mean I am a librarian after all!). This whole thing (missing one drawer) was only $70 and is made of heavy, good quality maple. Oh, how I would love to have something like that to store my floss in--wouldn't that be great? I'm not sure my son even knows what he's going to put in all of those little drawers, but I'm sure he'll come up with something. He's going to try to match the wood and create a false drawer front for the missing drawer in the lower left corner and it will be as good as new.  I know Spike is most appreciative of his new "toy!"

You've run out of "steps," Spike, you silly kitty!

Please forgive me for not answering emails or commenting on your blogs during this extremely stressful month. I really do hope things return to normal soon. I'm leaving for my next ten day visit with mom next week so I may be out of touch again. Please know how very much your sweet comments, support, and friendships mean to me--they truly do. Thank you all so very much! Bye for now...

Friday, April 17, 2020

Bunny stitching as the days slowly pass...

How is everyone doing? Still hanging in there? I sure hope so... I've been keeping busy with my stitching, reading, beginning a new (non-cross stitch)  project (which I'll let you in on some day soon!), trying to limit my news intake, and connecting with family members via Zoom and Board Game Arena . Since this whole strange Covid-19 saga began for us in mid-March, the only person I've talked to face to face is my husband! Such a strange feeling...  My family met up for a virtual game night on Easter Sunday (on Board Game Arena) and it was wonderful to see everyone's smiling faces. My oldest son and daughter-in-law in California, middle son and girlfriend who live 30 minutes away, and my youngest son in the Washington, DC area all connected online for games of Yahtzee and Sushi Go. I basically just watched and coached my husband a bit in Yahtzee as only five players could play at a time.

My stitching has been hit and miss--still having trouble settling, but I do try to sit down each day for a couple hours in the evening. I know you've seen these designs stitched up many times, but I hope you don't mind seeing my versions... First, is the Easter Holiday Hoopla design by With Thy Needle and Thread. I fell in love with this cute bunny the first time I saw him and am so pleased with how he turned out. I loved the colors on the chart and chose some similar overdyed threads from my stash to stitch him. He is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. ice blue Jobelan so the stitched area is a mere 2" X 2". I finished him into a circle (just traced a drinking glass to get the shape on the mounting board), padded the board with batting, and added a silk handmade cording trim. A mini-pompom gave his tail a nice fluffy look. 

Easter Holiday Hoopla finish

The round piece is simply glued onto a fabric-covered piece of sticky board and placed in a rustic looking 3.5 inch square brown frame. I purchased a bunch of these frames from an eBay seller, years ago, who had used them to display his butterfly collection (no, the butterflies were not included--thank goodness!). They sure have come in handy over the years and can easily be painted. Here is another of the frames that I painted and distressed last year for a different Easter finish that resides with my oldest son and daughter-in-law in California.

An Easter finish from 2019--such a cute bunny!

My second finish is so bright and cheery! It is called "Easter Wreath" and is a design from Tiny Modernist. The bunnies also have white mini-pompom tails like I used in the Holiday Hoopla finish above. They, too, are stitched "over one" on 28 ct. white lugana. I used the suggested DMC colors for everything except the carrots. I wanted a darker looking carrot so I used DMC 976. And, because of a slight counting error--my carrots are just a bit longer than those charted. Oops! It doesn't affect the overall look so I just left them larger. Ripping out "over one" stitching is the worst, so I avoid it whenever possible! I kept the finish very simple as the design itself is very "busy." Just a handmade cording in that pretty shade of blue that I love so much!

"Easter Wreath" finish

Here are both of my new Easter finishes together--looks like we had a big party going on on Easter Sunday, doesn't it? Nope--just me and my husband. It was a quiet day, but certainly one we'll always remember due to the circumstances. I didn't even get most of my Easter decorations out this year--it felt like too much of a chore for some reason. I've been gradually learning that now is the time to cut yourself some slack--be kind to others, but also to yourself. These are unnavigated waters and no one really knows what the next day will bring...

I absolutely love the pretty teal blues in these two finishes!

I also got a very sweet Easter card from my friend, Gabi, in Germany. She knows how much I love stitched bunnies (or any bunny, really!) so she made me this lovely card. Thank you so much, Gabi--I always love hearing from you and being the recipient of your pretty stitching!

Easter card stitched by my friend, Gabi, in Germany!

Much of my Easter seemed to be spent on the phone reminiscing with my mom, exchanging old photos via text with my siblings, and looking through old photos. The photos below brought back such wonderful memories of times with my three boys--dyeing eggs, hunting for baskets, and making a bunny cake each year. Oh, I miss those days so much. These were all taken in the late 80s / early 90s as you can probably tell by all the red and blue.  I think, back then, clothing designers only made boys' clothes in combinations of red and blue! It's so nice how things have evolved. And yes--they all have the same haircuts--courtesy of my husband. He sure saved us a ton of money through the years by cutting the boys' hair until they became teens. He even cut my hair when it was longer--not sure if I trust him to cut it at this shorter length, though! What are you doing about your hair? Trying to cut it yourself, getting a loved one to cut it, or just letting it grow? And we won't even talk about the hair coloring issue--yikes! By the time this is over, I'm going to have a very wide "skunk" stripe where my hair is parted, that's for sure! Time to let it go gray?

I also made a couple of masks for myself and my husband. Oh, dear! I am really  not good with a sewing machine... The first one took me two hours to create, and, although the second one was easier--I do struggle!  I used one of my husband's old shirts for the green checked one (mine) and a piece of quilting cotton for my husband's. They are "okay"--mine is a bit too loose around the sides. I found another tutorial that might work better for small heads on YouTube so I might give that one a try this weekend. Wish me luck!

My two masks--pretty good, but I need more practice!

Comfort foods still seem to be appearing on the menu at my house and I found this delicious recipe for apple crisp right here. When I make it again, I'm going to try about 3/4 as much sugar and maybe even take it down to half as much. It was plenty sweet!  We enjoyed this as our Easter dessert (and for the next two nights, too!). Have you been whipping up any tasty comfort foods during this lockdown period?

Do the apples make this a health food--ha ha!!

Watching old television shows seems to be comforting to me right now, too. My husband and I have started watching an episode of Cheers (on Netflix) each night before we go to bed--a light, fun show that doesn't upset us or keep us awake. Honestly, I think we've both been sleeping better lately... And I've begun watching Downton Abbey again from the very beginning. You see, I never watched the final season, so I decided to begin all over again. I absolutely love it-- and I really think I'm picking up on so much more of the dialogue than I did before. The Dowager Countess's (Maggie Smith's) lines are just so delightful, aren't they? "Edith, you are a Lady, not Toad of Toad Hall!" ~ "What is a weekend?" ~ "Every woman goes down the aisle with half the story hidden." I could go on an on! And the scenery, the dresses, the jewels--sigh... All so well done. I still haven't seen the movie, but plan on watching it after I finish the series.  Anyone else have any comfort watching television shows to recommend?

So, how many of you have talked to friends or family using Zoom? I had a Zoom get-together with my three sisters-in-law (on my husband's side) on  Tuesday and, after some initial difficulties connecting on my end, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing their faces and catching up with them. They live in Indiana, Ohio, and Connecticut so we rarely see each other anyway. We already have plans to meet this way every other week. At the end of our session, the following question was posed to us so I've decided to use that as my "Getting To Know You" inquiry this week:  "Have you found a "silver lining" in this period of being confined to your home?" In other words, few love being stuck at home, but is there something nice in it that you've discovered? For me, that answer is easy! Yes! I've discovered that my husband and I can live together happily and quite easily (other than the occasional disagreement) after he retires. I was truly worried about that, as I was so used to being home alone,   but--so far, so good! How about you?

Giveaway Time... I haven't had a giveaway in a while... so how about the chart for this lovely red house sampler? It is simply two pages removed from a magazine (sorry,  I don't know which one) and if more than one person wants it, I will draw a name. All you have to do is: 1) mention in your comment that you specifically want to be entered in the giveaway,  2) answer the "Getting To Know You" question above, and 3) include your email address if I don't already have it. You may enter until April 29th, 2020 and then I'll pick a winner and announce it on my next post. The chart will be folded and mailed in a legal sized envelope to save money on postage. Good luck to all!

If you are interested in winning this pretty red house sampler chart, see above!

I'll leave you with what, to me, has always been a sign of hope and comfort each time it blooms. This orchid was given to me when my father died on October 31, 2014 and it still blooms almost yearly. Each time it blesses me with these beautiful white and fuchsia blossoms, I think of him and feel like he's visiting me. And this year, that feeling is especially needed and meaningful. It's an absolute perfect time for it to be blooming with all the worries and unrest swirling around us these days, isn't it?

This special orchid always brings me comfort...

So, more of the same for a while--at least here in Pennsylvania. We are shut down until at least April 30, probably longer. The hardest part for me in this whole thing is being unable to visit my mom--I miss her so much. It is extremely lonely for her having no family visits to look forward to and eating her meals alone in her room at her senior living residence. I call her daily and we still play "Words With Friends" each night online (and yes, she is almost 93--amazing!). But, it's not the same... Stay well, my friends--keep on hoping and praying and social distancing. Life may be very changed when we emerge from the other side of this, but we will get through it. Bye for now...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The end of a month like no other...

What day is it again? If you're like me, the days seem to be simply running into each other--one day seems just like the one before to the point where I really have to stop and think, "Is this Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... ???" This seems to be our "new normal" for a while--quite a while, I think. This COVID-19 pandemic has me unable to settle--I flit from one thing to the next and I can't maintain my focus on anything. I haven't left my house in two weeks since self-quarantining after our plane flight on March 21st. I've walked out onto my patio a few times on the rare occasions when the sun was shining, but that's it. We are not supposed to be out at all in our area except for "life-sustaining" purposes (getting groceries, visiting the doctor, etc.). How are you all coping? 

Thank goodness I have my stitching and other hobbies to enjoy at home and keep my mind off the increasingly dire reports on the spread of the virus. I try not to look at the news, but, it's hard not to be drawn into it at the same time. As my youngest son said, this is probably one of the few times in history that the entire world is on the same side, fighting the same battle.

I thought you might like to see a couple "pretties" today to give you a break from dwelling on that "thing" that has consumed our lives... I actually finished this piece in early March, before things got so worrisome. "Be Happy, Humble, & Kind" is a design by With Thy Needle and Thread stitched on 40 ct. vintage country mocha using a variety of overdyed threads from my stash.  The colors were what first drew me to this piece along with the sentiment.

"Be Happy, Humble, and Kind" finish

I changed the color of the man's face, hands and legs to DMC 950.

A beautiful, big white house, but I'd hate to wash all those windows!

Being "happy" may be a bit more difficult these days, but better days will come again!

Be Kind:  one thing we can all practice--no matter what is going on around us!

The latest issue (Spring 2020) of Punch Needle and Primitive Stitching" Magazine has so many adorable charts. I was immediately drawn to this robin sitting on his beautiful blue eggs. It is designed by Subrosa Designs and is called "Bless Our Nest." The original design contained the words "Bless Our Nest" below the basket, but I left them off.  One of my favorite linens, 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle was used--love the way the white shows up on it! I changed all the suggested colors except for the brown on the robin's body, which is Weeks Dye Works "Cocoa." The blue eggs are stitched with Dinky Dyes silk in "Aquamarine"--aren't they lovely?

I so enjoyed stitching this one and see more robin stitching in my future!

I changed the color of the flowers to white and added yellow Rhodes-stitched centers using Dinky Dyes "Aussie Gold." I also wrapped the vine around the basket handle rather than stitching it all behind as was charted.

And here is my final finish--cording made of the same blue silk, a gauzy bow held together with a strip of the aqua blue gingham fabric that I backed it with. I stuck in a few berries in yellow and white, too.

I just haven't been motivated to get out any of my stitched bunnies this year--hope I can make myself do so this week. This is ordinarily one of my favorite months to decorate with the pretty pastels of Easter and Springtime. I think if the weather warms up and the sun starts coming out, that will help immensely! 

We had horrid thunder/rain storms pass through on Saturday! Torrents of water coming down into our yard (which is on a low spot in the neighborhood) with overflow from our pond created this "river" in our side yard for a while and ruined some newly planted landscaping. Sigh... not what we needed right now!

A big storm turned our normally grass-covered side yard into a raging "river" last week!

Unfortunately, some of the new landscaping we had just put in last fall was damaged, too.

How are you managing your grocery shopping? We've been ordering online and picking up in the parking lot of the grocery store, but that is getting increasingly difficult. And you know the one thing we've had the worst time finding (no, not toilet paper!)--flour! Simple baking flour! I guess everyone is engaged in comfort baking these days--I know I am... Cookies, granola, and a new recipe for banana-carrot muffins have been baked here recently. We do have baking flour for bread so I plan on making some in my bread machine this afternoon.  I've included links to the banana-carrot muffin recipe and our favorite chocolate pudding recipe that also made an appearance last week (just click on the name of the recipe below each photo). If this keeps up, I'll come out on the other side of the pandemic having gained 20 pounds!

Easy Banana Carrot Muffins

Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding

It was such fun reading your answers to my "Getting To Know You" questions last week. It appears that the great majority of cross stitchers are introverts (which didn't really surprise me!).  And it was nice to read how many of us take refuge in our other "hobbies" of listening to music, exercise, working puzzles, reading, and gardening when trying to de-stress. 

So, what question do I have for you today? As always this is just a fun way to get to know each other better--no pressure to participate. Right now, the last thing we need is more pressure, right? 

1) What is your favorite comfort food?  Without question, mine is homemade bread with butter--more than chocolate, more than soup, more than macaroni and cheese casserole. I think part of the reason is that the thought (and that wonderful smell!) of just-baked bread takes me right back to my childhood. My Dad used to bake the most wonderful rye bread (two kinds, actually) as a form of stress-relief after long hours spent in the operating room (he was a surgeon). Simply imagining that bread brings instant comfort to me. (He eventually had to stop making it, though, as he was gaining way too much weight!). 

The days seem to be dragging on and on for me lately. Does anyone else feel that way? I hope that by the next time I post, we will be finding better ways to combat and contain the pandemic. I'm so sorry I haven't responded to your many emails and comments--just haven't felt quite like myself lately, as I'm sure you're feeling, too. I keep seeing scenes on fictional television shows and in movies of people doing "normal" things like eating in restaurants, going to movies and plays, and gathering with their extended families and I find myself feeling quite envious of the way life used to be! I know those days will come again sooner or later...  Take care now, my friends,  and thank you for your condolences and sweet comments in my previous post--they meant so very much to me. Bye for now...