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!