Sunday, December 27, 2009

Week Fifty-Two: Prairie Schooler's "Season's Greetings"

My dream to stitch an ornament a week for the entire 2009 year began almost 52 weeks ago on a cold and sleepless January night. I find that my most creative thoughts often come to me on such nights. Could I really do it? Could I actually be focused enough and patient enough to make it through every single week of the year? Would my aging eyes hold up? Well, I'm so pleased (and maybe "just a bit" proud) to be able to say that I MADE IT!!! And I honestly couldn't have done it without you--my readers, commenters, friends. I never would have dreamed that this year could have brought so many new friends into my life who share my passion for cross-stitching and encourage, inspire, and make me smile the way you all do!

My fifty-second (and final!) ornament of the year is "Season's Greetings" from the Prairie Schooler's Christmas Samplers II chart. I wanted the ornament to be small enough to fit on the Christmas tree so I stitched it "one-over-one" on 28 ct. summer khaki lugana using DMC threads. I think my favorite thing that I've tried for the first time this year has been the "over one" stitching--I am truly hooked! I also added a gold cord trim and hanger and a gauzy golden ribbon to jazz it up a bit. I'll have to admit that as I put in the last stitch I felt a bit sad--my year is over and I've had such fun...

So, how was your holiday? Christmas Day with young adults is much different than Christmas Day with young children, but it is still special. I actually welcome the peacefulness of the holiday now that my sons are older. We all slept in, ate a very late (after noon!) breakfast including our once-a-year cinnamon rolls whose recipe can be found right here. (We add cream cheese to the frosting to make them even more sinful!) We finally got around to exchanging presents in mid-afternoon. The whole day just had a tranquility to it that I don't remember having when there were little boys in the house tearing open their presents, shrieking with delight, and playing all sorts of noisy video games all day! We played board games and watched movies and just enjoyed each others' company... We are rarely all together at the same time any more, so I savored each minute.

I received a delightful surprise in the mail this past week from Cindy over at Cindy's Stitching. She sent me a lovely stitched Christmas card and the sweetest little Mill Hill bead kit called "Snow Sled." Cindy has been such a loyal supporter of my blog this year and she knew how much I loved to create ornaments so I know she chose this gift especially with me in mind. Thank you so much, Cindy; I love it and can't wait to stitch it and see it hanging on my tree next Christmas! I made her a larger version of my miniature gingerbread boy ornament from last week which you can see pictured on her blog--so glad she likes it!

Well, the next time I post, it will be 2010! So many of you have asked for a photo of all 52 ornaments together so I will gather them up from their various storage places and have a picture for you next week. And for those of you who have watched my journey week by week, I just want to thank you so, so much for your support and comments...As I said before, I couldn't have made it this far without you!

May 2010 bring you much joy... HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week Fifty-One: Gingerbread Joy

This morning I awoke to the sound of the snowplow rumbling down our street and I instantly knew what that meant...we are going to have a white Christmas! This is the first snowfall of any significance here in western Pennsylvania this winter and I'm so glad our house and yard will be blanketed in white for Christmas week. Of course, I don't have to go out today, so I would probably feel differently if I had shopping to do and errands to run!

My ornament for the week is from Plum Pudding Needleart's "Candy Cane Wishes" chart. It may be miniature, but this turned out to be one of my favorite finishes of the year. The little gingerbread boy is stitched "one over one" on 28 ct. Country French Cafe Mocha Linen (I love the name of that linen and I don't even drink coffee!). I used the suggested DMC threads and backed it with the burgundy checked fabric shown behind the finished ornament. Gingerbread boys (and girls) have always made me smile--there is just something impish and endearing about them (kind of like my three sons when they were little boys!).

Do you have one special food that just says "Christmas" to you? For me, it has to be my grandmother's caramels. I whipped up a batch on Thursday evening and most of them have already disappeared--they've either been sent off for gifts or eaten by my youngest son. I had to hide the last dozen or two to be savored on Christmas day! My dear grandmother would make countless batches each year--mailing many off to friends whose Christmases wouldn't be Christmas without the gooey treats that they had come to expect from her each December. Each Christmas morning, the four of us kids would shout with delight when we spied the plain white box in which she had carefully wrapped dozens of caramels in wax paper~ each like a little present. They were, far and away, everyone's favorite gift year after year.

Gram passed away 26 years ago and that was the last time I tasted her caramels. I've made them many, many times since, but although they are good, they don't quite taste the same as hers. Making caramels is a true labor of love--you have to stand at the stove and stir the mixture over low heat for almost two hours! If you try to rush them you get caramels that are so hard they'll pull out a filling or so soft you have to eat them with a spoon. This year's batch turned out perfectly--it was almost as if Gram was right there, whispering in my ear to just be patient and keep stirring until they were just right...

I wish you all a blessed Christmas with your family and friends...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Week Fifty: Let It Snow!

Hello everyone! Have you ever stitched a piece that you just know, every time you look at it, will forever remind you of a certain place or event? Well, for me, Country Cottage Needleworks' "Let It Snow" will always remind me of the emergency room. Yes, I spent many of the six hours in the ER on Sunday evening working on this little scene. My husband was being treated for what, at the time, we thought was the flu, but turned out to be a severe case of food poisoning. He missed three days of work, lost who knows how much weight, and is just beginning to regain his appetite and feel normal again. It was very scary and frustrating because we still aren't exactly sure where or what he ate that made him ill.

The one good thing about having that extended stitching time in the ER is that I actually had time to finish the ornament and hang it on my Christmas tree! This was my first attempt at doing a beaded edge and I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out, but, oh, did it take me a very l-o-n-g time! I think I should have practiced on a smaller ornament first. I decided to leave off the words "Let It Snow" that were originally charted (in the JCS 2008 Ornament Issue) because it was just becoming too big to use as an ornament on my tree. I used 32 ct. natural light linen and DMC threads with a touch of Kreinik silver blending filament for the tinier snowflakes. I also changed the blue of the birds, the border, and the snowman's scarf to match the color of the Mill Hill beads that I sewed around the border.

It was such fun coming home and discovering little packages waiting for me in my mailbox this week. I won one of the cute reindeer ornaments that Kim at Stitchful Thinking offered in her recent giveaway. Isn't he darling? It is backed in the cutest red and white polka-dot fabric. Thanks so much, Kim--he is feeling very much at home on our Christmas tree this year! And for anyone else who would like to stitch this handsome reindeer, you can find the free pattern right here...

I also received a non-stitchy gift from Shari at Shari's Sharings. I just "met" Shari through blogging this year and we have become fast friends...She has triplet grandsons and I have triplet great-nieces so we love trading stories about the kids and life in general. Check out her blog and you'll find some recent photos of her little cutie-pies... Shari makes her own chocolates each year and sent me a sampler of her goodies all wrapped up in a cheery snowman towel. Click on the photo and you'll see some of her delicious chocolate turtles trying to escape from their container...I've eaten most of their friends so they know the fate that awaits them! Thank you so much Shari for your treats and your friendship!

I was also lucky enough to meet up with Lee, the Lake Stitcher for a fun-filled day last week. You can read about it on her blog and also check out the Prairie Schooler Santa that I made for her. I had stitched him last year, but just finished him last week...that just shows you how slow I am at finishing some of my pieces. I'm sure he's relieved to be set free from that dark storage drawer that has been his home for the past year! Lee, knowing how much I love LHN pieces, passed on to me a sweet chart called "Winter Sampler" that I know I'll enjoy stitching in the future. Thank you so much, Lee--can't wait until our next get-together!

It is such a busy time of year for all of us, but after the events of this week, I'm trying to step back a bit from the holiday madness. I'm consciously trying to make more time to reflect upon and give thanks for the simple things in life -- for the things we often take for granted such as our health and time spent with our families...

Thank you all for taking time out of your busy holiday schedules to stop in and say hello! I really look forward to reading your comments each week...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Week Forty-Nine: Prairie Schooler December Santa

Well, December is here -- the final month of my "Ornament a Week" challenge! I can't believe that I only have three more ornaments to stitch and post for the year. I wish I could say I had only three more ornaments to "finish/finish" for the year. I am so far behind (hanging my head in shame) and I just hope that I can catch up with my finishing at some point... As you can see, this week I stitched another Prairie Schooler monthly piece from the Summer & Winter chart (Book No. 91). As with the other pieces I've stitched in this series, I used 32 ct. flax Belfast linen and DMC threads.

So, how is everyone's Christmas decorating coming along? We hope to get our tree up and decorated today along with putting up the garland and ribbons on the porch and the candles in the windows. I wish we had a bit of snow to go along with our decorating frenzy--it always puts me more in the Christmas spirit. Of course, when the snow does come along, I start complaining about how difficult the driving is or how cold it is or something or other. But, I do love a white Christmas, don't you?

Can you remember where you were 24 years ago? I certainly can -- I was in the hospital having just given birth to my second son on December 4th, 1985. From day one he was such a kind, caring, and peaceful child...and he continues to show the same traits as a young man. We'll be celebrating his birthday with his favorite "Chocolate Eclair Dessert." It is something I make only once a year--just for his birthday--so it is pretty special. Just like he is! So, to my dear middle son, I wish you a very "Happy Birthday" and a year filled with love, laughter, and all the good things life has to offer...

Have a joyful week everyone and thank you again for stopping by and taking the time to say "hello." I appreciate each and every comment so much!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week Forty-Eight: Santa Mitten

This chubby little Santa looks like I felt after our Thanksgiving feast--overstuffed! This weeks piece is from the Cricket Collection's "Woolen Mittens" chart and is the second mitten I've stitched this year. Of course, are either of them finished yet? Nope. This week was just too busy with all my baking, eating, traveling, eating, shopping, eating--oh, did I mention eating? Anyway, Santa is feeling quite at home on his 28 ct. black Monaco fabric. I used DMC threads, two tiny black buttons for his eyes, a silver jingle bell on the tip of his hat, and a cherry red button I found in my button jar for his bulging nose.

Last week I promised you some photos of my baking so here are the goodies all laid out on my kitchen table ready for their trip to Ohio on Thanksgiving Day. The pies from back to front are: Chocolate Pecan, Cherry, Pumpkin, and Pecan. What is your favorite? I tend to choose the cherry, just because I think it is "a lot" healthier than the others (wishful thinking, I'm sure). The pecan seems to be the first to disappear every year, though. Also pictured is my cookie tray filled with ten yummy varieties. Just click on the photo for a bigger picture...

In the back row are Chocolate Raspberry Brownies, Christmas Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter. The middle row has Molasses Krinkles, Snickerdoodles, and Frosted Buttermilk Cookies. And the bottom row features M&M Cookies, Date Balls, and Reese's Cup Cookies. Yes, I love to bake! I'm always amazed at how appreciative my relatives are for these simple contributions to our family get-togethers because, for me, baking is relaxing and a labor of love, not a chore at all. Anyway, by the time we left Ohio Friday night, there were only about 9 cookies and a few pieces of pie remaining--amazing!

Thanks so much for visiting my little corner of the world today. If any of you would like a recipe just email me and I'll gladly share it with you. For those of you who still have to make the return trip back to your hometown after a Thanksgiving away, I wish you "safe home"--a lovely Irish thought Siobhan wished for me in her comments on my blog last week...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week Forty-Seven: Happy Gobble, Gobble Day

Only five days until Thanksgiving...have you all bought your turkeys yet? We'll be heading to Ohio for our feast this year so I escaped the pre-Thanksgiving grocery store madness. I "only" have to make three pies, 10 types of cookies for my cookie tray, and the strawberry-pretzel "salad" (well--if you know what I'm talking about, it is more of a dessert, but, hey, it does have strawberries in it so it is a wee bit healthy)! I'll try to post a photo of my desserts next week. Luckily I love to bake, so those are fun assignments for our Thanksgiving dinner. There should be close to 30 of us this year--whew!

The Trilogy's "Happy Gobble Gobble Day" is my finish for this week. I made a major mistake and stitched the top of the turkey using what should have been the color for his bottom half so I ended up ripping his entire upper body apart. That is why I don't ordinarily stitch in the evening--I just make too many silly errors... Anyway, the comical little gobbler looks quite cute now all stitched up on his 32 ct. Country French latte linen. I used WDW, Gentle Arts, and DMC threads and miniature brown buttons for accents. I think he would look nice as a flat-fold, if I can get my nerve up to try and make one!

My hands were literally shaking when I opened my giveaway GRAND PRIZE from Jolene at Dip Diddly Designs. Can you believe this wonderful gift?! Not only did Jolene send the beautiful "Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow" chart, but she included ALL of the DMC floss needed to stitch it. I love this chart so much and almost bought it for myself just last month. If you click on the photo you may be able to see each individual block more clearly. Do you see my name in the upper right block. (Yes, I was named Carol because I was supposed to have been born on Christmas, but much to my mother's dismay, her first-born arrived three weeks late!) I will definitely be passing along the chart in a giveaway of my own when I finish stitching this spectacular piece. Jolene--your generosity is so very inspiring in this holiday season and I thank you from the bottom of my heart...

I am thankful for so many, many things during this Thanksgiving season--my wonderful family, my health, my job that I love, my warm home, and plentiful food. This year, though, I have something new to add to my list...I am thankful for the many cross stitching friends I have made over the past 10 months since I started my blog. You are such a supportive, inspiring group of women and I truly mean that. It is wonderful to have found a community of stitchers who share my interests and my passion for stitching... So, thank you for being you!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Week Forty-Six: Little House Needleworks "Season of Plenty"

Hi everyone! Hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing week. I stitched another Little House Needleworks piece over the past few days. "Season of Plenty" was stitched over one on 28 ct. cream Lugana using DMC threads. I had to change the color of the floss for the months and use a darker shade because the suggested color just didn't show up on my fabric. It was the first time I had ever stitched on Lugana, but I really enjoyed it. Do you have a favorite fabric? I will stitch on just about anything as long as it compliments the colors of the design. I'm still not sure how I'll finish this one....maybe a pretty pinkeep? I just love these seasonal stitchings--there is something very comforting about them. They invariably feature a house in the design and I sure love my time at home. The older I get the more I enjoy puttering around the house. Does anyone else feel that way?

Do you remember that tiny carved Halloween gourd from my Week Forty-Four post? Well, the grinning fellow has taken on a slightly different appearance--all of his green coloring has disappeared! After drying for a few weeks, he now looks like this. His wizened, shriveled appearance bears a strong resemblance (at least for my family members) to a certain character that often appears at Christmas time. No, no... not Santa! But, imagine him with a little red and white Santa hat, white collared red shirt, and a green face. Is the picture getting any clearer? How about... Dr. Seuss' character...THE GRINCH! What do you think?

Thank you all for taking the time to visit me each week--I love reading your comments and visiting your blogs, too!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Week Forty-Five: Prairie Schooler November Turkey

Happy November everyone! For this week's piece, I stitched the Prairie Schooler "November" turkey from the PS Book No. 90 titled Spring & Fall. DMC fibers were used on 32-ct. flax Belfast linen to create this handsome fellow. There was a lot of brown in this piece and you all know how much I dislike stitching with shades of brown, but it was well worth the effort...

As you can see, I framed the turkey using the same frame that I showed you for the September Squirrel from my Week Thirty-Six posting. I simply leave the back open and just pop in a different piece each month. It is a huge money saver...So far, I've stitched four out of the twelve monthly ornaments: May, September, October, and December. Only eight to go...

Have any of you ever seen a plump, handsome turkey like the one I stitched? I mean, really, where are all the good looking turkeys hiding? All I ever see around here are the poor, pathetic looking creatures like the one pictured here! They travel in groups and think nothing of totally stopping traffic while they take their time to cross the road. Oh, by the way, did you know that a group of turkeys is called a "rafter?" Just a bit of librarian trivia I learned at work one day! You wouldn't believe some of the questions people ask us...

Look what I won in Ranae's giveaway... the lovely Frederick and Frederika from Carriage House Samplings. Ranae, from Stitch by Stitch, had a giveaway because she had reached 100 followers on her blog (I sure have a long way to go to get to that number!) and my name was drawn. She also included some DMC threads and a lovely pair of red Victorian embroidery scissors. I was so excited to find the package waiting in my mailbox for me at the end of a long day at work. Thank you so very much for your generosity, Ranae; everything is truly beautiful...

Hope each of you has an enjoyable weekend. It is supposed to be a gorgeous one, weather-wise, here in western Pennsylvania--it will be nice to get outside and enjoy the sunshine for a change. Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and emails. I do appreciate each one so very much! Until next week...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Week Forty-Four: Halloween Spots

Does everyone have their candy ready for tonight? I've been pretty good this year--so far I've only eaten about half of the giant bag of goodies that I bought two weeks ago! Hopefully the rest is safe until after the trick-or-treaters have come and gone... My ornament for this week is a Trilogy design: "Halloween Spots" stitched over one on 28 ct. Summer Khaki Cashel linen with DMC and Gentle Arts threads. Don't you love the skinny, striped legs on the tiny ghost? I changed a couple of things on the chart--added the words "boo" and "eek" in place of the little colored boxes that were on the original design.

I never experience the Halloween season without recalling this old tune that my mother used to play and sing with her tiny grandsons (my sons who are now in their twenties) seated beside her on the piano bench. Have any of you ever heard this? Wish I could provide the music, too, but the lyrics are as follows:
"Hallowee-ee-een, the witch is riding high.
Have you see-ee-een her shadow in the sky?
So beware don't you dare to even boast or a ghost
To your dismay will hear you say
That you don't care, say a prayer
Or it may come and pull your hair

There's a big, black cat a crossing in our way.
Now you've heard of that, bad luck they always say.
Weren't you scared when it stared with eyes aglow
Hear that crow?
There's a thump near the pump
Let's hurry home or a gnome
Will thump a lump upon your dome."

Mom only sang the first verse--in fact I never knew there was a second one until I was double checking the lyrics on the internet and I discovered one! Just the thought of her singing this silly song and making my boys giggle brings me a smile...

We didn't buy a pumpkin to carve this year, but I hope you enjoy our one-inch high, grinning, green and gold gourd!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Week Forty-Three: Bringing Home the Christmas Tree

Good morning everyone! Can you believe how quickly this month has flown we are in the last week of October! Since I couldn't decide whether to stitch the boy or the girl(and because they were both such quick stitches)I ended up finishing two ornaments this week! Although they look similar, it's only because I made changes to the colors and the design of the boy's ornament. The chart of the little boy carrying his Christmas tree (designed by June Grigg) can be found in the November-December 1987 issue of "Just Cross Stitch" and the little girl's chart (designed by Schoolroom Samplings) appeared in the November-December 1988 issue. I used 16-ct. khaki aida and DMC threads for each, backed them with the green fabric shown, added the plaid ribbon, and embellished the ribbon with some tiny green buttons. For the boy, I changed his tree to resemble the one in the girl's chart more closely and added a little black cat similar to the one that appears by her side. I completely changed the colors of their outfits to coordinate with the green and red plaid ribbon.

This has been a crazy week, weather-wise... We had our first frost on Tuesday morning and then on Thursday it was a sunny, seventy degree day. Today we're back to the cool, grey fifties that is so typical for this time of year. Oh, the joys of living in western PA in October! The leaves are lovely, though, and I realize how much I would miss the four seasons if I lived in a warmer climate.

I've discovered, though, that October must be a lucky month for me because I won, not one, but two giveaways! Myra had a drawing for her blogaversary which I was fortunate to win. The prize, as you can see, was a grinning pumpkin scissor fob (stitched on her hand-dyed purple fabric) complete with a new pair of scissors! When the prize arrived I discovered she had also included a little orange candle and an array of fabrics which I will definitely be using to stitch some of my many ornaments that need to be finished. Thank you so much, Myra--you were one of the first people to comment on my blog and I always look forward to hearing from you and visiting your inspiring blog!

My second giveaway win is from Missy Ann's Thirteen Days of Halloween giveaway. Check out her blog for your own chance of winning...she is picking a new winner each day through Halloween! My prize (which you can see by clicking on the right side of her blog under my name for the Day 2 prize winner) is making its way here all the way from Texas. And what a small world it is--Missy Ann told me she graduated from high school not more than thirty minutes from my home! Can't wait to open the package and check out the fun and funky Halloween goodies she put together... Thanks so much for your generosity, Missy Ann! I'm so glad to have found a fun, new stitching blog to follow...

Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on my mouse stitching and story last week. Some of you have asked where my husband was during the whole mouse in the house incident. Well, he was away on a four day bike trip...when the cat's away, the mice will play! But, I'm happy to report we've had no more mice. Hope you all have a wonderful week...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Week Forty-Two: Not a Creature Was Stirring

Hello everyone! I was a bit tired of stitching with black and orange so I returned to some Christmas stitching this week. "Not a Creature Was Stirring" by Crossed Wing Collection (featured in the 1998 JCS Ornament issue) was stitched on 32-ct. Putty Jobelan with DMC floss and a bit of DMC gold thread on the ornament top. The mouse, the border, and lettering are all stitched over one. This little mouse is definitely stirring as he hungrily makes his way toward the popcorn and cranberry garland. He obviously hasn't read Clement C. Moore's poem The Night Before Christmas!

My two older sons come over for dinner every Sunday and afterward we sit down to watch old home videos and the latest episode of "The Amazing Race." Last Sunday, the guys and my youngest son, who was home from college for Fall Break, settled down in the family room to watch TV while I stitched on this week's ornament. All of a sudden, my youngest son exclaimed--"There's a mouse behind you, mom!" Thinking he was teasing about my little mouse stitching, I reluctantly turned and glimpsed something brown scurrying back into our sunroom. It had been right behind my stitching chair--not more than two feet away from me!! Of course I shrieked and the guys all acted like guys do when mom acts like a little girl--they laughed at me and tried to calm me with such platitudes as "He's a lot more afraid of you than you are of him" and "Mom, you're a lot bigger than he is." I suggested, in between my periods of freaking out, that they try to get him to run out through the kitchen door. So, with perfect teamwork, we came up behind the cowering thing and clapped and stomped to get him to move forward into the kitchen. My middle son had lined up all of their shoes to form a sort of low wall that headed right out the door. The poor mouse thought he was in a maze and just followed his instincts and headed through the doorway and into freedom! I know that as Christmases come and go, every time I look at this ornament I'll remember that tiny brown mouse who came to inspect my stitching...

Anyway, here is the finished ornament, ready for our Christmas tree in December! I used the cranberry-colored fabric on the back of the ornament, surrounded it with a hunter green braid, and added a simple ribbon in the corner. What do you think? As always thanks so much for visiting my blog and for taking the time to comment... See you next weekend!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week Forty-One: Cat-O-Lantern

Black cats and glowing pumpkins--does anything say Halloween any better? As many of you know, I'm partial to black cats--my dear all-black cat Shadow was just a perfect Halloween kitty and I think of him often at this time of year. He used to love greeting the trick-or-treaters at the front door (and then attempting to escape outside, of course). I've had this Calico Crossroads chart (called "Cat-O-Lantern") in my stash for years and I thought it would be the perfect thing to stitch this week. My sons wondered why the pumpkins on the left weren't orange... Perhaps they are pumpkins disguised as ghosts? I'm not sure, but it definitely made for a quicker stitch not having to fill in all of that orange. The design, which I stitched on 32-ct. white Jobelan, called for three strands of DMC to fill in the cat and pumpkin which gave them a really lush, defined appearance. I'm not sure if I'll frame this one or turn it into a wall hanging...but it should be a cute addition to my Halloween decorating.

It just hit me last night that Halloween is in three weeks--time to buy the candy for the trick-or-treaters. I love this time of year because I can actually purchase candy without feeling guilty. Of course, I always buy way too much (we usually get only a dozen trick-or-treaters, but I buy enough for fifty!) and then I squirrel away the extra for myself... Do you have a favorite treat to hand out? I love anything with chocolate and peanut butter or caramel, especially peanut butter M & M's, Reese's peanut butter cups, Rolos... Mmmmm...think I'll head to the store right after work! Have a great weekend everyone...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week Forty: Halloween Sampler

It's October and you know what that means--time for some Halloween stitching! This little sampler (appropriately called "Halloween Sampler") is from a book that I checked out of my library. From the book The New Cross Stitch Sampler Book by Helen Philipps, I stitched this fun piece on 32-ct. sage Jobelan with DMC threads. It came together pretty quickly, but I'll tell you I won't be stitching any more checkerboard borders anytime soon--ugh! Anyway, check your local library; they just might have a copy for you...

I don't decorate my home for Halloween as much as I used to when my sons were little--just set out a few pieces of my cross stitching, some ceramic pumpkins and ghosts, fall leaves, etc. Just enough to get in the spirit...So, who else is stitching for Halloween this month? I'm curious to know if my international stitching friends celebrate Halloween, too? Do you have any special customs? I hope to finish a couple more Halloween patterns before the month is over so check back again next week!

And again...thank you for all of your supportive comments. I love reading them and feeling encouraged by each one!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week Thirty-Nine: Woodland Snowfall

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great week with lots of stitching time. I worked more hours than usual this week so only had time for a quick stitch. This is actually the second time that I stitched this piece. The first one was given to a friend for a Christmas gift, but this one is just for me. This LHN piece is called "Woodland Snowfall" and can be found in the 2004 JCS Christmas Ornament issue. I used a khaki colored 18-ct. davos fabric with DMC threads.

Because this was such a quick stitch this week, I actually had time to finish Woodland Snowfall into a little ornament (I know--you're shocked!). I backed it with the holly fabric shown in the background, added a rope hanger, and some tiny holly leaves for decoration. I just love the little woodland squirrels with their berries in hand. Although I'm not so crazy about them when they get into our bird feeders...

I know that I owe several of you emails and will attempt to get caught up this weekend. In the good news department, my foot is much, much better and I was even able to log a few miles on my treadmill this week. Finally... Can't wait to read your blogs and catch up with everyone this weekend!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Week Thirty-Eight: Pumpkin Patch

I almost gave up on this piece several times this week, but I'm glad I stuck with it. "Pumpkin Patch," from the September/October 1988 (yes, 1988--just a few years after I began cross stitching!) issue of "Just Cross Stitch" is done on 28 ct. Stormy Gray Jobelan. And yes, I stitched it "over one" again this week--I know, I know, I'm a glutton for punishment. I love how tiny and detailed everything looks now that it is finally finished. I used DMC threads for most of this piece, but for the scarecrow's coat, I used Needle Necessities fibers and tiny black beads for his buttons. The original coat was a bright blue, but I decided that the green looked a bit more autumn-like. This was a lot for me to finish in one week, so I plan on choosing something a bit less time-consuming for next week's project...

I also want to share with all of you creative and crafty bloggers out there, a new book I recently discovered. Part of my job as a librarian involves book selection--and guess what category of books I am in charge of choosing? The "740s"--well, for you Dewey Decimal challenged readers, that means I get to pick the drawing, antiques, interior decorating, craft, and needlework books! How lucky am I? I get to read reviews and then purchase some of the prettiest and most popular books in the library. Recently I added the book Blogging for Bliss: Crafting Your Own Online Journal by Tara Frey to the library's collection. What a delight this book is for anyone who has a creative bone in her/his body! Not only does the author describe the basics of blogging; she also delves into the more advanced (way too advanced for me yet!) realms of using Photoshop, HTML, and how to add all of those special little touches that make your blog a place readers want to return to. The "how-to" part of blogging is alternated with pages from real-life crafty blogs (although not one cross stitching blog, I'm sorry to say) that talk about the reasons the writers blog and give advice to new bloggers (like me). The entire book is a treat for the eyes and offers excellent and very helpful advice... Hopefully, you will be able to check out a copy for yourself at your local library...

Thank you all for your supportive comments and emails. I love hearing from each and every one of you. Enjoy the first week of autumn everyone...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week Thirty-Seven: LHN Gourmet Garden

Well, I tried something for the first time in my life with this week's piece and I think I'm hooked! I stitched "over one" on 28-ct. fabric and, once my middle-aged eyes adjusted, I just loved it... I actually began LHN's Gourmet Garden on 28-ct. African Daisy Jobelan in my traditional "over two" manner, but I didn't like how large it was turning out. So, I took a deep breath, removed all of the stitching I had already done, and started over. Now that I've seen how sharp everything appears when stitched over one, I know I'll be punishing my eyes even more often! I love everything about this piece: the tiny olive trees, golden sunflowers, fields of lavender, and the sun-bleached villa--it makes me want to visit Tuscany more than ever. Have any of you ever vacationed there? I'd love to hear your impressions... I did make a few changes to the piece. The original chart had "nutmeg" as the final ingredient on the list, but I didn't think it fit in with the herbs, so I substituted "chives." I also changed the colors in the row of flowers to be more symmetrical. Hopefully, the designer won't mind too much...

I was so happy to finally meet a fellow stitcher (whom I've gotten to know through blogging) in person. On Friday, Lee, the Lake Stitcher, drove to my house where we spent a few hours chatting and showing off our stitching. We had planned on actually doing some stitching, but ended up talking the whole time... Had lunch at a local restaurant and made a quick trip to a nearby farmer's market. A thoroughly enjoyable day... And to top it off, Lee had stitched this darling scissor fob for me: "C" for Carol (and crows!). She knows how much I love Prairie Schooler designs so it is just perfect. And believe it or not, that is the very first piece of stitching that anyone has ever given me which makes it all the more special. Anyway, I hope this was the first of many visits...

Thank you all for your "get well" wishes for my foot injury recovery. I am definitely walking better, but still unable to walk distances or use my treadmill at all. It still swells and is sore by the end of the day, but from what I've read, it can take months for a foot injury to heal. I guess I just need to be patient... Just want you to know that I truly apreciate your concern...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week Thirty-Six: Prairie Schooler September Squirrel

Happy September! The leaves are starting to slowly change color, the nights are (much!) cooler, and there is that certain autumn-like scent in the air here in Pennsylvania. I'm beginning to see more and more grey squirrels like this one scurrying around collecting their supplies of nuts to hoard for the cold winter months ahead. I stitched this little guy, from Prairie Schooler's "Spring and Fall" chart, on 32-ct. flax Belfast linen using DMC threads.

I've also stitched the May and October pieces from this leaflet and, to save money, I use the same frame for each--just popping the stitching out to replace with a new month. Do you think I'll ever finish all twelve? Anyway, here is Mr. September Squirrel in his new home with two new friends. The carved wooden squirrels were my grandmother's and I still remember them being on display in her home. One has a chipped ear--I wonder if I did that as a child? They've always brought back fond memories of her welcoming, warm home...

I suppose you could say I've been lucky to have a lot of extra stitching time lately, but it came at a price. About three weeks ago, I hurt my right foot when a piece of metal shelving fell on it at work (and you thought libraries were nice, quiet, safe places to work!). As the first week went by, it kept hurting more and more so I finally had it x-rayed. No break, just a deep bone bruise which can take months to heal. I can walk, but with pain and a slight limp, and was instructed to keep my foot elevated and iced. Not much improvement yet and I'm starting to get discouraged... But at least two of my favorite activities (stitching and reading) are perfect for someone with an injured foot!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week Thirty-Five: Sunflowers

It is hard to believe that this is the 35th ornament I've stitched during 2009. September is right around the corner and I'm really looking forward to it. Not only is autumn my favorite season but fall pieces are my favorites to stitch (aside from Prairie Schooler Christmas ornaments!). I thought this one, stitched on 32-ct. sage Jobelan using DMC, Needle Necessities, and Weeks Dye Works fibers, was perfect for the end of summer/beginning of fall. This was actually a pattern for a beaded Mill Hill kit, but I converted it to cross stitch and added a few things such as the little bees and the grass sprouting at the bottom of the fence. The original kit had sunflower buttons so I had to chart some rather rustic looking sunflowers, also. I'm pleased with how it turned out and I think it will be a great addition to our family room.

When spring planting time rolls around, we make sure to plant sunflowers in our garden. They are such a strong, brilliant looking flower and they always brighten my day when I look out my kitchen window and see them. As you can see in the photo on the right, the bees like them, too. And, of course, the birds appreciate all of the seeds as the cooler weather arrives.

I hope you all have a great week with lots of peaceful stitching time! Until next weekend...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week Thirty-Four: Prairie Schooler Snowman and Bunny

A snowman and his bunny--what could be cuter? This ornament, from the Prairie Schooler's "Santas & Snowmen" leaflet, was stitched on 32-ct. sage Jobelan using DMC threads. I had a tough time tracking down this pattern. Many of the shops seem to be out of it, but I finally got my hands on a used copy online and it was worth the search. There are so many charming ornaments in it, but this one is my favorite. Who knows? Maybe I'll stitch all eight...

Well, it's that time of year again for many--the annual trek back to college. For some of us, it is the oldest child who is leaving for four years of studying (and partying) and experiencing new things that don't include mom and dad. For others, like us, it is our youngest child returning for his next to the last year of college. Years ago, way before any of my sons was even thinking about college, a library friend shared with me a copy of an essay that I've never forgotten. Written by Bill Bryson in his book, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, this essay touches the heart with its reflections on the author's eldest son leaving for college. I found the essay, called On Losing a Son, posted online and thought you might like to read it yourself. Whether you have a child still in elementary school or one about to leave for college, I think you'll be glad you did.

After my youngest son left for college this week, the phrase from all of those old fairy tales kept running through my head, "And peace returned to the kingdom." There are no more stray socks peaking out from under the couch, no loud guitar chords wailing up from the basement, no damp towels left drying on the floor, no lights left burning all night. Since he left, the dishes seem to be mysteriously making their way into the dishwasher and the toilet paper holder remains curiously filled. The house has taken on a comfortable and peaceful hum. Yet, I already miss him...and I hope he has an amazing junior year.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Week Thirty-Three: Season of Growth

I am so, so excited! I just read on the Little House Needleworks: Behind the Scenes blog that a new design will be released next month called: "The Library." Most of you know that I am a librarian so I can hardly wait to see it--and I'm sure that it will be making its way into my next shopping cart at my favorite online needlework shop. I love the verse designer Diane Williams chose for it: "An open book is a window into the world"... how true. Anyway, back to this blog posting... LHN's "Season of Growth" was a joy to stitch as all of her creations are. 32-ct. Flax Belfast Linen and DMC threads were used in this little piece and I changed the border color from green to blue (just because blue is my favorite color). I also stitched the window panes and outlined the doors in the same brown color used in the roof.

It certainly has been a season of growth around our house. Pictured to the right is our vegetable garden (well, really my husband's garden because he does 99% of the work)...Everything was a bit slow coming in this year with our cooler than normal temperatures, but it is shaping up to be a lovely year for the tomatoes, beans, peas, and zucchini. The peppers and broccoli are also making appearances along with some brilliant yellow sunflowers.

I finally framed another LHN piece called Nature's Beauty (which I stitched last year) so I wanted to share that with you, too. Thank you all for visiting--I love reading your comments each week and truly appreciate the time you take to say hi (and, of course, I love visiting and being inspired by all of your blogs, too!).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Week Thirty-Two: Prairie Schooler Bird on Flower Bookmark

As with any Prairie School piece, I loved the colors in my latest finish. I believe this was a free bookmark at one time, but I ended up purchasing it from Ebay. I stitched the whimsical looking bird walking up his large flowering plant on 32-ct. natural colored linen with DMC threads. Now I'm looking for a pretty, floral fabric to use as a backing for the bookmark. When finished it will make a great gift for a friend...

I think one of the reasons I don't finish my ornaments right away, is that I have to drag the sewing machine out of the hall closet each time, set it up, thread it, etc. If I had a designated sewing area I could just keep the machine set up all the time and I would probably be much more productive in actually finishing my pieces. idea is slowly forming in my mind. I turned my oldest son's old bedroom into a proper guest room when he left home, why not turn my middle son's old abode into a sewing/craft room now that he is gone? (I can just hear the groans as he reads this!) What do you think; do many of you have designated sewing/craft spaces?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Week Thirty-One: Let It Snow

More snowmen this week! This happy little trio standing under a snow-filled forest of pine trees can be found in the Winter 1994 issue of Cross Stitch Sampler magazine. "Let it Snow" was stitched on 28-ct. tea-dyed Monaco using DMC floss. A very easy stitch, but all of those smyrna-stitched snowflakes took some time. For the snowmen's eyes and buttons I used Mill Hill petite black beads.

As in most gardens across the country, our zucchini are taking over... In an attempt to use some (okay, one) of the zucchini, I discovered this delicious recipe for Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins and baked some this morning. I am, in one way, just like a little girl who never grew up--I hate green vegetables. So this is my half-hearted attempt to get some into me! I did substitute 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil with 1/4 cup applesauce in an effort to make them even healthier. (Of course, the fact that I doubled the amount of mini-chocolate chips completely offset that plan!!). Anyway, here is a link to the recipe on one of my favorite recipe sites, Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins Enjoy!