Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Stitching In the Snow

Good morning, everyone! Isn't it hard to believe we're down to our last week in March? Believe me, you'd never know that April is almost here with what greeted me as I looked out my upstairs window yesterday. Yes... more snow. And not just a dusting either--we received  four inches here in western Pennsylvania. I honestly don't remember a year like this one in terms of weather. I heard a news report recently that said our area has received either rain or snow on all but nine days so far in 2013... I never thought I would be one to retire to Florida or the southern states, but, at this point, it is sounding mighty tempting!

But, things aren't all cold and wintry here...at least I've managed to bring in some spring cheer by stitching two of the cutest new designs from  The Snowflower Diaries blog. Hungarian designer, Maja Matyas Szilagi, has released the most adorable freebies for us and her "Spring Bunny Love" design (available here) immediately captured my heart. You all know how much I love bunnies, don't you? Well, who could resist this sweet courting couple? Maja's design calls for Nina's threads, but I only owned one of the suggested colors for this piece (the color for the bunnies) so I substituted various overdyeds from my collection. This is stitched "over one" and I am so pleased with how it turned out--it almost looks like a watercolor painting. I used 28 ct. bone cashel linen, ruched some wide pink satin ribbon, added some pearly white pins, and backed it with the pink and white fabric shown in the photo. I smile each time I pass by it!

"Spring Bunny Love" by The Snowflower Diaries

Maja has so many cute designs that I couldn't stop with just one! Next up was "Tulips With Bunny" (which you can find here).  For this one, I took a different approach and chose the thread colors based on a pretty piece of fabric I had been wanting to use. I simply laid out the blue flowered fabric with my white evenweave and began pulling threads until I had a combination that I thought would work well with the fabric. Would you like to see what I came up with?

Stitching choices for "Tulips With Bunny"

What do you think? I'm very pleased with this finish and I love how everything came together as I had hoped it would when I first pulled the threads. I found the palest pink ric-rak to embellish the little pillow with that perfectly matches the lighter pink in the design. This one is also stitched "over one" on white 28 ct. evenweave which, again, makes it very tiny. It will be perfect for my bowl of bunnies for Easter decorating.

"Tulips With Bunny" by The Snowflower Diaries

Here are both of them together... Thank you so much for designing and sharing your beautiful charts, Maja! You have brought smiles to stitchers worldwide with your generosity and creativity. I look forward to stitching more of your designs in the future...

Bunny love!

Now, in looking at these two finishes, you might think that I am a real "girly-girl," right? Nope! Not at all--I don't think you would find even a single article of pink clothing in my closet...Lace, sparkly things? No--not me! But, I just love creating these sweet little pillows so much. The pastels of spring stitching truly brighten my days after the long cold winter. And speaking of brightening my day, I had two lovely surprises waiting for me in the mail recently.

From sweet Maggee, at Stitching Devotee, came these two delightful charts. Maggee had listed several groupings of charts on her blog and asked if any of us would be interested in any of them as RAKs.  And just look at the lovely pair that she surprised me with: Brightneedle's "Finger Lakes Sampler" and  Ewe & Eye & Friends "Alphabet Garden." I couldn't be more pleased--they are both charts I will definitely stitch and the "Finger Lakes Sampler" has special meaning to me as that is the part of the country where my parents, brother, and sister all reside. Has anyone visited any of the Finger Lakes? It really is a lovely part of New York State--I just wish it was a bit closer so I could visit my family more often!  Thank you, Maggee, so very much for your generosity--I think the RAK chart listing is a great idea and one I hope to offer myself in the future!

 Thank you so much for the great charts, Maggee...
I love them both!

And from my dear friend, Brenda, over at  Brenda's Stitching, came these jaw-dropping gifts. I mean, I honestly just stood looking at these goodies with a goofy, stunned smile on my face when I opened the package. Just look at this sweet stitched box Brenda made for me! Isn't it adorable? And inside the box was the most lovely "ruler" I've ever seen. It is made of mother of pearl--can you imagine?

Surprise Easter gifts from Brenda!
One of the unique things about this handrafted box is that you can interchange the designs seasonally, so I plan on stitching a little something to place inside for each of the four seasons... And, of course, the box will always be filled with something like these pastel peanut M&Ms that I bought for Easter--yum!  Brenda, "thank you" doesn't seem adequate to express my gratitude. I am so pleased we have "met" through our blogs and I hope our friendship continues for years to come. I truly love your gifts and your kind heart...

 Beautifully stitched box from Brenda

GIVEAWAY UPDATE:  There is still time to enter my giveaway on my previous post. I have so enjoyed reading about the "simple things" that make you smile. They have made me smile, too--honestly. And I'm truly touched that so many of you would be interested in winning one of my little pillows--thanks to all who have entered. If you would like to enter, simple click here to enter your comments. The giveaway will close on March 31st...

I sure wish I was leaving you with a photo filled with dancing daffodils and beautiful birds that should be on a post dated March 26th, but this is what my backyard looked like yesterday! Easter? Hmmm... I hope no one is having Easter-egg hunts this year--the poor eggs would be totally frozen after too long in this weather!

 The last (please, please, pretty please?) snowfall of March...

Thank you all for stopping by--and for all of your wonderful and much appreciated comments. It's always nice to see who's been by for a visit! I'd like to welcome my new followers, too--so glad you're here...  And for anyone wanting to stitch that cheerful bunny in his bright yellow slicker in my new blog header, you'll be happy to know that The Cricket Collection has re-released that freebie and you can find Mr. Slicker Bunny himself:  just click right here. Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates and Happy Spring to all! Bye for now...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's Giveaway Time and Things That Bring a Smile!

Good morning, everyone! March is almost half-over and here I am with only my first post of the month... What have I been up to? Well, I've been stitching a few little things to celebrate my followers--yes, that means you. I wish I could stitch something for each of you, but I fear I would be spending the rest of my life on that pursuit. As of this morning there are 1040 of you--amazing and humbling, indeed. So, even though I only have three little offerings today, I do offer my sincere thanks to each and every one of you who stop in whenever I post to take a peak or leave a kind comment. Thank you all! As I've said many times, I think our cross-stitching / blogging community is the best of any on the internet!

The other night when my two older sons were over for their usual Sunday night dinner, I told them that I was having a giveaway because I had reached 1000 followers on my blog. My oldest son, with his typical quick wit said, "Yep, mom has a whole army of stitchers!" For some reason, that image just really made me smile--can't you picture us all just marching along with needles raised and ready to conquer all that stash we have patiently waiting in our drawers and closets?

So, what have I created to send to three new homes? Well, first up is this little Prairie Schooler pillow from the "In the Woods" booklet. This sweet, brown bunny is stitched on a mystery piece of 32 ct. linen with the suggested DMC colors and is trimmed with some handmade cording in the same rose color. The fabric shown behind him is what I used to back the pillow.

Prairie Schooler Rabbit

My next offering is one you've seen before, but everyone seems to love and that is "Painted Egg" by The Cricket Collection. This is one piece I never tire of stitching because the little bird is so dear. Now, the same can't be said for the finishing--boy, do those beaded edges take me a long time. I really admire those of you who routinely finish with beaded edges--what patience you must have! This one is stitched on 32 ct. Permin twilight blue linen and uses the suggested DMC threads. The chart can be found in the The Cricket Collection's "Eggs...etera" (No. 109) booklet, which occasionally comes up for bid on Ebay.

Painted Egg by The Cricket Collection

And finally, another Prairie Schooler that I've stitched many times, but have yet to keep for myself: "S Is For Spring" stitched with the suggested DMC threads on white 32 ct. evenweave. The handmade cording is done in the same yellow as is in the flowers and it is backed with this fun brown and yellow polka-dot fabric.

Prairie Schooler's "S" Is For Spring

Here is a photo of all three together. 

Spring Giveaway Offerings
Would you like to give a new home to any of these little pillows? If so, please let me know in your comments and make sure to tell me which one you like best. If you'd be happy with any of these, please list them in order of preference. The contest will be open until March 31st and I will pick three winners in April. To make it more fun and more interesting for all of us, I have a little task for you. Oh, don't worry--it's easy!! I would like to know what "simple things" you see in your room right now that make you smile and why? Yes, right now--no cheating and going off into another room. Whatever room you're in--just look around and what brings a smile to your face?  Pets and people are off limits because I know they make us all happy... Is there are certain photograph, a treasured hand-me-down, or a blooming plant that always makes you light up when you pass by it? Now, it's only fair if I answer the same question, right?

Well, I blog in my kitchen at my desk in the far corner so looking around I see many things that make me smile. I'll share four of them with you here in pictures...First of all, is one of my glass-front cupboards that houses a portion of my collection of reproduction Dedham pottery bunnies. Every time I see their sweet faces peering out at me, I feel good!

Awww... who can resist those cute little guys?

My husband always says it doesn't take much to make me smile and this next "happy thing" is proof of that. I bought a package of 24 polka-dot ribbon spools the other day with my 50% off coupon at JoAnn Fabrics (for a grand total of $7.50) and every time I pass by this basket of beauties I grin. Aren't they bright and cheery? And no, I don't normally keep my finishing supplies in my kitchen, but I just took them out of their plastic wrapper and had placed them in this basket so they're temporarily sitting on my kitchen island.

 A rainbow of ribbons--polka-dotted no less!

Another thing sure to bring a smile is my little Marjolein Bastin (love her art!) corkboard to the right of my desk. On it are photos of my parents and grandparents in their younger days, of my three sons when they were all about 3 or 4 years old, my dear husband at age 30, and my sweet black kitty, Shadow. There are also two Chinese fortune-cookie "fortunes" that have special meaning ("A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever" and "Use your education to change the world"). Plus, one of my old favorite quotes:  "She's not your typical librarian" cut from a very old magazine.

 A corkboard full of memories...

It is on this bulletin board that I keep an inspirational phrase by Edward Whymper always in sight. It simply reminds me of the importance of the way you conduct your life and that what you say and do each day  may truly have an impact on others. It reads...

 A favorite thought...

And finally, looking around my kitchen, I see these lovely flowers that my husband brought me after he returned from his recent Colorado skiing trip. I think he missed me--what do you think? This was a huge bouquet which I split into two arrangements. After the March we've had (it snowed AGAIN yesterday after being a perfect 72 degrees on Sunday!), I love having the bright colors nearby to cheer me up.

A burst of spring colors set against a snowy backdrop

Oh, and look what I saw yesterday as I peered out my kitchen window--the first robin of spring. Such a welcome sight after our long winter! Welcome back north, little one--hope you're bringing warmer weather with you.

The first robin of spring!

So, there you have it... some very simple things that made me smile recently. Now, it's your turn. If you would like to enter my giveaway, please describe something that makes you smile wherever you're reading this from and make sure to state specifically that you want to enter the giveaway. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  As I mentioned previously, this giveway will remain open until March 31st... Best of luck to all who enter. Who knows, I may just include a few more little goodies with the stitched pieces!  

Thank you again for your visit--and I hope your day is filled with simple things that bring you a smile! Bye for now...