Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Small Finishes and Big Thanks

Hello! Hello! And how are my blogging buddies doing on this fine morning? I hope this last week in April finds your part of the world greening up and beginning to bloom with those lovely pastel colors that can only mean spring has arrived. Spring has definitely "sprung" here in western Pennsylvania even though the temperatures have been quite temperamental. Last week  it was 71° on Friday morning and then a mere 24 hours later it was almost 40° cooler! Crazy...

I've only managed a bit of new stitching lately because my husband and I spent some time in southern Florida earlier this month (more on that in a bit). But, I was so relieved to get the April Word Play finally finished up. Yes, "relieved" is the correct word...as much as I love the finish and as adorable as this design is, I just didn't enjoy stitching it any more than I enjoyed stitching the January Word Play. I don't know what my problem is because as an avid reader and librarian, I love words. I persevered, however, and ended up with, what I think, is a very cute finish.

April Word Play

I stitched the April Word Play "over one" on a very pretty 25 ct. sage green evenweave of some sort. I thought it was a 28 ct., but it turned out larger than my January Word Play finish so it must be a 25 ct. Most of the suggested overdyeds were used, but I had to change the colors of the leaves and the birds' feet and beaks because they just weren't showing up well on the green. To finish it off, I used the same tiny white ric rac that I used for the January Word Play and backed it with the darker green cotton fabric (from a cloth napkin I bought at Kohl's). I wish the color difference showed up better--the backing fabric is quite a bit darker than the evenweave. I do love this finish!

Finished April Word Play

I also had to change the way the word "Seeds" was stitched on the little wagon since this was stitched over one.  Stitching it the way the design was charted made it too crowded looking so I simplified the letters a bit. And, taking the advice from several of you who already stitched this, I gave the bunny a cute and fluffy white tail made entirely of French knots (or my version of them--I am NOT the best French knot maker in the world)!

 April Word Play

So, will I stitch more of these Word Play designs? Probably--I did buy all twelve charts after all!! (And don't we all always stitch each and every chart we purchase--ha ha!) But, I will have to stitch them sparingly--just now and then, not one month after another. I'll be skipping May and June, but might pick up July during the summer. Here is a photo that will give you a better idea of the size of the little pillow next to some freshly picked daffodils from our back yard...

April Word Play

Now, on the flip side--a design I loved stitching was this Little House Needleworks piece. It will eventually be a scissor fob--just didn't have time to finish it for this post. It is from the chart "Wool Needlebook & Fob." And yes, I also hope to stitch the needlebook, too, at some point. Don't you love the sheep? And the colors--the purple just makes this design! This is stitched over one on 28 ct. dirty linen with the suggested DMC threads. I'll show you the finished fob next time--it will be my first fob finish, believe it or not!

 LHN Scissors 
(From "Wool Needlebook & Fob")

FLORIDA VISIT: As I mentioned earlier, I was in sunny southern Florida (Naples to be exact) recently. As much as I complained about our endless winter and longed for warmer weather, I wasn't quite ready for the extremely hot (85°+) and humid days we had our entire visit. I'm not sure what happened, but my hot flashes were out of control the entire time I was in Florida... Having dealt with them for 15 years (yes, you're reading correctly), I'm no stranger to them, but, oh--I felt like I was absolutely melting the whole visit. I'm assuming it was the heat that triggered them to be so outrageous because now that I've come back to cooler weather I'm back to "normal."

Despite the uncomfortable temperatures it was so nice to see the tropical plants and trees that we don't have up north. Thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the prettiest botanical beauties. Many of these photos were taken at the Naples Botanical Garden which, if you ever find yourself in that southwest corner of Florida, I strongly urge you to visit.

Shaving Brush Tree

 Common Screwpine

Silk Floss Tree
(No, that's not where stitching floss comes from!)

Banana Plant

A tiny skink 
(notice how well he blends in with the wood)

Asian Garden at Naples Botanical Garden

Spanish moss draped tree

Naples is a wonderful city to take long walks in--so many beautiful houses and interesting things to see. Here are some of the sights we saw on our long walks...

A boy reading a book mailbox--how sweet!!

Flowers blooming in every color

Tropical trees in all shapes and sizes

So many lovely houses and estates... 
I'll take that pink one!!

Our last night was spent strolling the beach
 near the Naples Pier.

THANKS TO... It's always good to get away, but, for me, there is nothing like returning home! I love my house and yard and being surrounded by my stitching and books and other simple things that make me the happiest. When I got home I found a lovely surprise waiting for me from Manka. Just look at all of these beautiful goodies that arrived in a recent giveaway win all the way from Hungary. I wish I could show you just how perfectly stitched the heart shaped bookmark and the biscornu are. The ribbon roses are lovely and the delicate specialty stitches add so much to these pieces. The talented Manka offers some lovely free designs on her her blog, so if you haven't visited, please stop by. Thank you again, my sweet friend from Hungary--I love each and every thing you sent my way!

Giveaway beauties from Manka!

And arriving like a burst of Carolina sunshine came what Faye called a "belated, belated birthday gift!" I was so surprised and thrilled to open her package and find one of her beautifully stitched project pouches. She chose the colors especially for me in the prettiest shades of yellow and blue...And look at the tiny scissors charm attached to the zipper--adorable! Why, she even monogrammed it for me... I know most you are familiar with Faye's Carolina Stitcher blog, but if you aren't, please pay her a visit. You'll be inspired by her beautiful stitching as well as her finishing of many of our fellow stitchers' projects. Thank you again, Faye, so very much, for your special birthday surprise and for your friendship. I know I'll think of you each time I use your lovely gift...

Blue and yellow stitching pouch from Faye!

I think I'll wind up this way-too-long post now, even though I have more to share with you. It will just have to wait until next time! I'll leave you with two photos of what makes spring time in the north so special...

April in Pennsylvania

Is there anything prettier than a bouquet 
of freshly picked spring flowers?

Enjoy this last week of April, my friends, and thank you all for dropping by today! It's always so nice to visit with you and I sincerely appreciate each and every comment and email. I'll be in New York visiting with my mom and dad for the rest of the week so I may be a bit quiet on the "commenting front," but will definitely catch up with your blogs when I return.  Bye for now...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ornament Finishes and Giveaway Winners

Greetings from Pennsylvania on a lovely spring day! Yes, it is finally beginning to feel like spring after our record-breaking low temperatures last week. It was a frigid 19° on April 4th--can you imagine? According to our local newspaper we were colder here in the Pittsburgh area than in Juneau, Alaska or even Moscow! But, today we are supposed to reach a lovely 67°--it was so nice to wake up to the sounds of the Mourning Doves' coos today. I hope the rest of you who have endured an "endless winter" are enjoying sunnier days, too.  

Someone asked about my Christmas ornaments in my last post... Oh, yeah, that's right, I was supposed to be stitching one a month, wasn't I? Well, I'm just a bit behind--four months behind to be exact! The good news is that I made some progress and finally finished these little cuties for my January and February selections. First up, is another of the four snowmen featured in the chart "Let It Snow" by A Stitcher's Hands. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll remember I stitched his red, white, and blue themed buddy last year (you can see him by clicking here). I used the suggested DMC threads on a piece of 32 ct. mystery linen and embellished his hat with a little white pompom. The plaid fabric was a sample scrap from Joann Fabrics and the backing fabric is the gold-toned napkin shown in the background which I picked up at Kohl's. There are two snowmen left in this booklet--hope to get all of them stitched at some point.

A Stitcher's Hands: "Let It Snow" snowman

My February ornament is one of my favorites from the Little House ornament series called "Bringing Home the Tree." It is stitched on 40ct. raw natural Newcastle linen using the suggested threads. I just love that little black Scottie with his red collar and booties--so sweet. I really liked the border in this one, too. To finish it off, I simply ruched some sage green satin ribbon and added three white pearly pins at the top. What do you think?

"Bringing Home the Tree" (Little House Needleworks)

I'm currently working on my third and fourth ornaments of the year and hope to have them done by the end of the month so I'll be all caught up...

GIVEAWAY WINNERS: OK, admit it, how many of you skipped down to this part of my blog to see who won my 1000+ follower giveaway?  Oh, I know many of you did. And chances are all but three of you were a bit disappointed. This is the hard part for me--I so wish I could give each of you, especially those who regularly comment, a little something. But, I simply don't have the time or resources to send so many gifts all over the world... I was truly honored that so many of you (almost 200!!) entered my giveaway for my simple handmade pieces. I mean I wasn't giving away anything very valuable, so it meant all the more that so many of you wanted a little something made by me. A simple pillow didn't seem like much, so I've added a few more goodies to the winner's packages, but will keep everything secret until they arrive at their new homes. My husband did the honors in picking the names out of the hat (well, really, it was just a plain old paper bag :) and, without further ado, here they are:




If the winners will please contact me with your mailing addresses, I'll get your packages out to you soon. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed stitching them! And for the rest of you, all I can offer is my sincere thanks. Thank you for your wonderful comments, your emails, your friendships and support. I truly loved reading about the simple things that made you smile in your entries and I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who enjoys "a simple life!"

SPECIAL THANKS: Imagine my surprise when I received two wonderful packages in my mailbox this past week. First of all, my new blogging friend, Dawn, sent me one of her sweet scissor fobs as a Random Act of Kindness. I was so touched and honored that she would think of me and wanted to make me smile. I just love it, Dawn--the colors of lavender are perfect for me and the flowered white beads are so sweet. Doesn't the fob look lovely on my favorite pair of scissors? Thank you so very much, my friend--I'll think of you and your kindness each time I admire your beautiful creation!

Scissor Fob RAK from Dawn
Thank you, my friend--it is beautiful!

And from one of my long-time blogging buddies, Valerie (Fog City Dweller blog), came a belated birthday present package (which, believe me, was well worth the 3 month wait!!). I honestly gasped, "Oh, it's beautiful," when I removed this beauty from the package. Just look at this stunning Drawn Thread ornament that Valerie made for me--perfectly stitched and finished! And you know what, I had picked this exact chart to stitch for my April Christmas ornament--luckily I hadn't begun yet! This is from "The Holly and the Ivy Sampler" chart and is one of my favorites. How did you know Valerie? 

"The Holly and the Ivy" birthday gift from Valerie
I adore it, my friend--thank you so, so much!

As if the ornament wasn't more than enough, Valerie included all of these goodies, as well... There was a cute LHN chart, a blue skein of silk, a blue notepad, and a cute key chain from Valerie's beloved San Francisco. I told her I honestly plan on visiting her fair city one day--especially if she agrees to be my tour guide. Thank you, thank you, my sweet friend--I am so happy we've "met" through our blogs...

So many birthday goodies from Valerie!

SUGGESTIONS NEEDED: Is there anything more heart-warming than welcoming a new baby to the world? Well, how about welcoming three new babies to the world? My best friend's daughter recently gave birth to triplets--two dear baby girls and a precious baby boy. I had the best time shopping for these little outfits and even made a card to welcome them (definitely outside my comfort zone--I am not a papercrafter by any means, but it turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself). I fell in love with these sweet pink dresses with matching hairbands and I think the little boy will look mighty sharp in his plaid shorts and spiffy white crested shirt, don't you? Now, I would love to stitch some little Christmas ornaments or a triplet themed sampler for them and that is where I could use your help. Have you stitched or received anything that would be appropriate for a trio of new babies? I'd really like to make something special for them as I watched their mom grow up from the time she was a tiny baby herself and her family moved in three houses down from me. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be so appreciative.

Baby gifts and handmade card 
to welcome a trio of new babies

After all of these years, I've finally read an old classic, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and, oh, how I enjoyed it. Am I the only adult who had never read it as a child? I actually think I probably appreciate it and enjoy it more now than I would have as a child. And, of course, I had to watch the movie as soon as I finished the book, and it was charming. A perfect movie for spring with all of the budding gardens and newborn animals--and did I mention the sheep? Lots and lots of sheep for all of you cross-stitch sheep lovers (myself included!). Anyway, if you haven't read the classic book or seen the movie, I highly recommend them both...

MOVIN' TO BLOGLOVIN':  With the upcoming demise of the Google Reader you can now follow my blog in a new reader simply by clicking on this link and signing up: Stitching Dreams blog. Hope to see you all there!

Well, that's it for this week, my friends... Thanks so very much for stopping by and saying "hi!" I do appreciate each and every comment so very much. I wish you a week filled with sunshine! Bye for now...