Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Joy in the Unexpected

I was lucky enough to win a surprise giveaway last week. This one came via a new-to-me blog called A Southern Belle Misplaced in Michigan sent by a lovely stitcher named Lisa. The only "rule" she had when she offered her giveaway was to tell her if I was a cross stitcher or not--how easy is that! I had no idea what I had won until her little package arrived several days later. In it was this beautiful beaded scissor fob and a tiny pincushion with a saying that any stitcher can relate to: "Eat, Sleep, Stitch." Don't you love it? The fob was the first she had ever created and she did an amazing job! I love the black and gold beads, too--just perfect for this Pittsburgh Penguins loving family! And the little silver charm with "Follow Your Heart" inscribed on it is so sweet... I love them both, Lisa, and will think of you each time I use them. Thank you so very, very much!

I had the pleasure of getting together with Lee and Linda (no blog, but an avid blog reader!) on Friday. We met at a Panera for a few hours of chatting, stitching, and eating. It's just so nice to spend time with fellow stitchers who actually understand your passion, isn't it? To me it was amazing that in a busy, bustling place like Panera, it felt as if we were the only ones there. There was just something so relaxing about sitting there with friends and stitching the day away...

We have an ongoing love/hate relationship with the increasing number of deer who eat our plantings out here in the suburbs. I was so upset to look out and find that a deer had jumped the fence into our garden and eaten almost every single one of our tulips that were just beginning to bloom. This is all that was left.

At the same time, how can you resist this little fellow. I posted this photo (taken in the spring of 2007) on my blog last year. However, I don't think anyone was reading it then except my two earliest followers/commenters and very special friends, Myra and Violet so I'm sharing it with you again. This was taken right in a patch of tall grass next to our pond at the rear of our property. I can still remember how excited I was to be able to get so close to the little baby deer! Who would think this darling thing would grow up to be a tulip destroyer :)

I was feeling a bit down last week and my husband arrived home from work on Wednesday with this beautiful bouquet to cheer me up... He's a keeper, don't you agree? I find that, more and more, it is the simple, unexpected things that give me joy. A surprise gift from a fellow blogger, a get-together with stitching friends, an inspiring nature photograph, a thoughtful token of love and support from my husband. They were all unexpectedly fulfilling... Have you had any pleasurable, unexpected moments lately? I hope so; it is amazing how a simple look, a lovely sight, a meaningful song, or a kind word can change the course of your day...

Thank you all for your visits--I'm so appreciative of your comments and emails...They always bring me joy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunflower Santa

When I first saw this whimsical Prairie Schooler chart, I wasn't sure that I wanted to stitch it, but as I studied it further, it really began to grow on me. I love the idea of Santa taking a rest and tending his sunflower garden during his "off" season! My April ornament, from PS Book 48: "A Christmas Visit," is stitched on 32 ct. natural light linen with the recommended DMC threads. This was the first round ornament I ever attempted and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. At four inches in diameter it is a bit larger than I would have liked and I think if I stitch any more patterns from this book, I'll try stitching them "over one."

Like many of you, I'm stitching an ornament a month and I'm so happy to be keeping up with my finishing. It would be so easy to stick them in a drawer and move on to a new project, but I know I'll be thrilled when December rolls around and I have twelve already finished ornaments to add to our Christmas tree. Pictured below are the four I've completed. See how large the newest ornament is in relation to the previous ones? The earlier ornaments were all stitched "over one," so they're all quite small... Do you have a favorite? I still love that tiny stocking the most...

I was overwhelmed by all of your kind comments on my PS Spring sampler last week! Did any of you notice the mistake that I made in it? If you look carefully at the upper left leaf next to the robin in my previous post, you'll see that I forgot to fill it in with the light green. Luckily, I noticed it before I got around to framing it!

Have any of you ever framed a piece and then noticed a mistake? Well, I have--or more accurately, my then ten year old son noticed it! It was on one of my earliest works from back in the '80s--a pair of pictures with two doves nestled in a cherry blossom tree in each. Well, my oldest son was walking up the stairs one day, and I don't know if they were just at his eye level or what, but the next thing you know, he is running to gleefully tell me that I made a mistake on one of the borders. (Click on the photo above for a better look and see if you can spot my mistake... By the way, those mats on the pictures are both the same shade of gray as is shown on the left--not sure why they look different!)

Sure enough, when I went to examine it, he was right! If you look at the bottom right corner of the picture on the left you'll see that I forgot to close off that part of the border...I can laugh about it today, but at the time, I just cried. I think those were the first pieces that I had paid to have professionally framed and I was just sick about spending all of that money and time and then they weren't even stitched properly! A few years ago, I gave them to my mother-in-law because they fit in perfectly with her decor--she is thrilled to own them. She asked me to write the entire story about my son's eagle-eyed discovery on the paper backing of the frame so it will be there forever. That little bit of family history actually makes the pieces even more special...

Last month, I received my lovely pinkeep as part of Andrea's PIF... Now it is my turn to pass on the kindness. Since there were more than three people who wanted to participate in my PIF, I did a random drawing and the following stitchers will be receiving something from me within the next 365 days:

Lee from New Zealand!

Shari from Indiana!

Melanie from The United Kingdom!

I will be emailing the three of you to get your addresses very soon. I'm really looking forward to creating something special for each of you!

I am so very appreciative of all of your comments and visits...thank you all for being such a wonderful group of friends. Wishing each of you a wonderful and relaxing weekend...

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Prairie Spring

Hello everyone! Spring has burst into full bloom here in Pennsylvania and it also made its way into my stitching this week. I just finished this spring sampler from Book No. 50: "Prairie Seasons". It is stitched on 32 ct. flax Belfast linen with the suggested DMC threads. I got a start on this when I was in Florida last month and am so pleased with the way it turned out. I'll have to tell you though, I don't ever remember doing this much back-stitching in a Prairie Schooler design. Look at the window panes, the water spraying from the fountain and all of those stems and leaves--I thought I would never finish "sowing" this garden! The only change I made was to the robins' legs--the chart showed them as cross stitches, but after trying that, the poor things looked like grannies wearing thick, gray support hose, so I switched to a simple straight stitch and think they look much more delicate and bird-like.

I've included a collage of close-ups below so you can get a better look at all of the details in this finish: the wheelbarrow, the fountain, the watering can...And don't you love that blue door?

One of my favorite parts of this sampler is the little patch of orange carrots poking through the ground (shown in the lower right part of the collage photo). Speaking of carrots, I made a delicious carrot cake for Easter. Myra had posted her carrot cake recipe on her blog a few weeks ago and so I gave it a try... It was so tasty, Myra; thank you again for sharing it with us! I cut the recipe in half and it made a cake just the right size for the four of us (with just enough left over for my older sons to take back to their apartment). Unfortunately, my youngest son wasn't able to get home from college for Easter and it felt like a "piece of the puzzle" was missing from our family that day. With two giant papers due in mid-April and final exams looming, he thought it better to remain in Virginia and get some work done...

This wasn't the first Prairie Schooler spring sampler that I've stitched. I also stitched this one from PS Book No. 123, "Country Seasons" back in 2008. I'm not sure which one I like better. Both are very different, but I think I have a soft spot for the fluffy lambs grazing in the field in this one. How about you?

We've been fortunate enough to have a string of record-breaking warm and sunny days in April. I honestly think we're being rewarded for enduring the four feet of snow we got clobbered with in February! Just wanted to share some of those gorgeous spring blooms that have popped up in our backyard over the past week: daffodils, violas, hyacinth, periwinkle, and those lovely ferns. Have any of you planted your gardens yet? Yesterday, I went to the garden center and bought tons of flower and vegetable seeds and bulbs that will keep us busy planting over the weekend. Oh, wait a minute, did I say "us?" I have to work on Saturday--hope my dear husband doesn't mind getting started on the digging without me :)

I will be announcing the three participants in my PIF next weekend. Since there were more than three entries, I'll just do a random pick. If anyone else would like a chance to participate, you can sign up on my post from March 27th...

Thank you all so much for taking the time to visit my little corner of the world today... And a special thank you to all of my readers and friends who take the time to leave a comment. I know your lives are as busy as mine, but I truly love to hear from each and every one of you. Wishing you all a week filled with perfectly crossed stitches...