Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hello, Folks!

"Hello, folks!" Hope you've all had a wonderful week! The weather has turned quite summery here in Pennsylvania--not sure if this poor snowman likes it very much... For my May Christmas ornament finish, I chose an old chart from the 1998 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cross Stitch magazine designed by Louise Young. This funny fellow just made me laugh for some reason--perhaps it was his long ant-like body!

Anyway, he was a quick and easy finish. I used 36 ct. Picture This Plus linen in "relic," DMC threads, and black beads for his eyes, mouth, and buttons. The nose was supposed to be beaded, too, but since I had no orange colored beads, I did it in satin stitches and I'm very happy with the way it turned out...For the ornament hanger, I stretched out a spring and simply inserted each end into the linen. So easy! I then tied on a torn strip of the backing fabric for a little accent in the upper right corner. He'll look mighty dapper on my snowman tree this winter!

The noise from the birds chirping, cawing, and squawking in our backyard routinely wakes me up each morning. It sure has been a busy spring here with all the new little nests popping up all over the place. We found this robin's nest with those sweet blue eggs in our pyracantha bush as we were pruning last week. And look how lovely the cream and brown speckled eggs are in the cardinal's nest. Would you believe the cardinal re-used a nest left over from last year! Is that common? I suppose it was built in such a secure location that the bird felt safe to nest in it again. The picture in the upper right is of the little robins that nested on the upper lattice work of our back porch. Don't the poor things look like they wished their mama had built them a bigger nest--they are positively squished together in there. I really love birds and was surprised to see a woman on television the other day talking about how much she feared them. The main creature that I'm truly terrified of is bats--I am petrified of them. How about you--any other animal phobias?

I hope all of my U.S. friends have a wonderful and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. What are your plans? Picnics? Reunions? Parades? We're heading down to Washington, D.C. with my youngest son who will be beginning a summer internship with the Department of Justice. He is so excited for this opportunity and eager to explore life in our nation's capital. But, I'll have to say I'm a bit misty-eyed because I've come to realize that, with his last year of college looming in the fall, he may never truly be at home for an extended period of time again. Sigh...

Thank you for your visits, your emails, your comments, and most of all, for your friendship. I hope your week is as special as each of you are to me :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Five is Finished!

Hello everyone! I am finally getting around to posting again--I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post. The good news is that I've finished Block Five of Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow a full 10 days ahead of my self-imposed end-of-the-month deadline. This was, by far, the simplest block of all twelve and it all came together very easily. I did change the candle lengths to make them all equal. Once again that lack of symmetry would have bothered me. Are any of you like that? I really like things well-balanced, even, and equal...

And here is Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow so far... You can click on the photo for a larger look. Don't know why the borders look so wavy; I promise you they really are straight!! Hope you're not getting tired of seeing it so much. It's hard to believe that after next month I'll be half way through--where on earth is this year going?

My youngest son just returned home from an eight day trip to Costa Rica with his university's Jazz Combo. They performed a variety of concerts in the San Jose area and then went to a remote music school for a few days to perform and work with some of the students. If you have any interest in jazz or just enjoy music, you may want to take a look at this video from his trip. He plays the trombone--way in the back right corner of the group and is the last musician as they "parade" through the audience in Costa Rica's spectacular National Theater. The lead trumpeter is the Jazz Combo director. Keep an eye on the lady in red in the audience--isn't she great! I would love to be able to be that free and just let loose and enjoy myself the way she does... I doubt if he'll ever perform in such a beautiful theater again--what a venue! I still remember when he began those first trombone lessons as a ten-year-old--how far he has come :)

I was wondering how my Mother's Day would be celebrated since my husband wasn't home to "organize the troops" as he usually is (he was on a two day, 200-mile bike ride in Ohio.) I had to work on Mother's Day Sunday and was delighted when I got home and found all three of my sons waiting for me with dinner on the stove and flowers, chocolate, and a gift certificate to my favorite online stitching store in hand! My oldest son prepared cashew chicken, the middle made the rice, and the youngest surprised me with these cupcakes he made that spelled out "Happy Mother's Day." (Funfetti flavored!) How sweet was that? I feel so lucky to have such amazing young men to call my sons--I love you guys so, so much and feel so proud to be your mom...

I've been working on my Christmas ornament for May and hope to have that finished to show you soon... Hope your weekend is relaxing and stitch-filled. And, as always, I truly appreciate your comments and emails. I love hearing from each and every one of you...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Peep, Peep!

Hello everyone! Hope you've each had a great week and that you're enjoying this lovely spring weather. Who can resist this cheery, little chick? I began working on her two weeks ago because I really needed a break from stitching that huge mansion in Block #4 of my Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow. Have any of you ever stitched these Valerie Pfeiffer chicks before? They have very unusual fractional and straddled stitches in the charts along with a lot of blended needles. They are very time consuming to stitch because you really have to study the chart, but I think that is what makes the chicks look so realistic. "Gardener Chick" is stitched on 32 ct. white Jobelan using the recommended DMC threads. This is the second chick I've stitched--(the first was the Christmas chick that I stitched last year). I think I'll simply frame this one with a simple black frame...

Last month, I lent a chart to Tricia over at the Simply Stamping blog through "Inter-Stitcher Loan." Imagine my surprise when she returned not only my chart, but included this darling pin pillow as well. As I told Tricia, she could not have made a more perfect choice for me since my favorite color is blue, my house is decorated in mostly blue and white and yellow, and I collect rabbits! Didn't she do a great job on it? She took a portion of the Prairie Schooler "Welcome Spring" chart and adapted it for this tiny pillow. And how about that darling card? Check out her site for more examples of her beautiful and creative cards. Thank you so very much, Tricia--I just love it!

As I've mentioned before, we have a pond at the back of our yard that attracts all sorts of wildlife... Ducks visit it each year--always in pairs. Well, a few weeks ago we noticed that only the male or female would visit at any given time, so my husband speculated that they must have a nest somewhere and the missing mallard was sitting on the eggs. I woke up Thursday morning to see both ducks preening by the pond and worried that something had happened to the nest. Imagine my surprise when I looked out after lunch and saw the mother in the grass next to the pond surrounded by nine peeping chicks! Of course, the first thing I did was to grab my camera and run out to photograph them... I wish you could all see how cute they are! They're just little brown and yellow fluff balls, but, boy, can they swim quickly. It would be nice if my camera and camera skills were better, but you can click on the photos for a bigger image:

"Now, my little chicks, it's time for your
first lesson in pond etiquette."

"Aw, mom, we want to swim underneath the
waterfall! Please mom, please, please?!"

"Hurry, let's get away from that crazy stitcher who
wants to photograph us for her blog!!"

I thought this mother duck and her chicks were just so perfect for this Mother's Day weekend--it really makes me smile to watch her guarding her babies so carefully. I am very blessed to have my own amazing mom... At almost 83, she just got her first computer and is now emailing and reading my blog! So, mom, I wish you the happiest of Mother's Days. Wish I could be with you, and I hope you know how much I love and treasure you...

Happy Mother's Day! And, as always, I want to thank you, my friends, for stopping in and taking time out of your busy schedules to leave a comment... I love hearing from each of you!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Up On the Housetop

Yippee! I'm one third done with Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow! Block 4 seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I felt like I was actually building this mansion brick by brick...all of those browns and tans are my least favorite colors to stitch with. But, I think the end result was worth all the hours I spent on it. (Is it just me, though, or does each of those peacock tails bear a striking resemblance to a traffic light?) Block 5, which I'll be stitching this month, is much less "stitch intensive," so it should go fairly quickly. I might actually finish it before the last day of the month for a change...

Below is the entire piece so far. For any new readers--I'm stitching it on 32 ct. flax Belfast linen using DMC threads.

I can hardly believe that it's May of my favorite months. When I was a child, we celebrated the first day of May (May Day) in a very special way. We would decorate paper cones, fill them with flowers, and leave the flowers at a neighbor's doorstep. After ringing the doorbell, we would run and hide and then peek out as the neighbor retrieved her surprise. It was such fun! I especially recall doing this for a pair of elderly women who lived two doors down from us. They were always so kind to the neighborhood children, inviting us in after school for cookies and milk. I still remember sitting in their warm and cozy kitchen, munching on the best sugar cookies, and telling them about my day at school. Do any of you remember this May Day tradition? I wonder if it is still practiced anywhere...Times have changed and I don't think most neighbors are as close as they were back then. Or, even more likely, parents are afraid to let their children roam around the neighborhoods by themselves...

Can you ever remember a prettier spring than we've had this year? At this point many of the flowers and flowering trees have begun to fade, but I did manage to take a few photos of them at their peak. I wish you could smell the white vibernum--they just scent my entire kitchen with the most delightful fragrance.

I can hardly wait to begin Blackbird Design's "Something Sweet" this week. Don't you just love the start of a new project? Everything is so fresh and untouched--the fabric just waiting there for you to add some color... I'm stitching it for a very special person--hope she likes it... I love the colors in this piece and that giant violet next to the yellow house. It seems like the perfect piece to stitch during May. Thanks again, dear Kim for passing on this chart to me!

Well, that's about it for this week. I hope you all have relaxing, stitch-filled weekends. Thank you so very much for all of your wonderful comments each week. It just brightens my day each time I read a new one!