Sunday, June 30, 2013

A bit of the red, white, and blue

Hello, hello! And how are my stitching friends today? I know I don't usually post on Sunday evening, but I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would try to post at least twice a month, so it's now or never. The month of June is over--on to one of the busiest months of the year for my family. July includes several birthdays and anniversaries. Before I go any further, I want to thank you all for your wonderful comments on my last post--I'm so glad you enjoyed the up-close-and-personal visit with the baby animals at the zoo.

I've noticed that many of you have been stitching patriotic pieces this time of year and I'm joining the crowd. I think that after Christmas ornament stitching, patriotic is my favorite theme. I only had time to add a couple of new things to my ever-growing collection of red, white, and blue stitching, but I'm really happy with how they both turned out.  First up, is this little scene from an old issue (Summer 2002) of Fine Lines magazine. I couldn't seem to get a good photo of the stitching itself, so you'll have to trust me on just how cute this one stitched up. The flag, grass, and fireworks are stitched over two on a 32 ct. mystery linen. The people and animals are stitched over one--so tiny and detailed! I didn't have any of the suggested colors so I simply substituted them with similar overdyeds. The ribbon/kite-like thing that the girl is waving was made by twisting some red, white, and blue DMC into cording and  simply tacking it down with some gold floss.

"Americana" by Dames of the Needle

The type of finish for this one is a first for me--a box finish! I was going to simply make one of my little pillows, but then I remembered a collection of small craft boxes that I'd purchased last year and wondered if one of them would be a good fit. As you can see, the largest size was perfect for a round finish! I painted the outside with three coats of navy blue (DecoArt American in Prussian Blue)--not sure if I should have primed it first, but I didn't.  And what about coating the paint with a finisher of some sort? Is that something I should do?

Americana Box finish

The inside of the box was also painted with three coats of Prussian Blue and a star-studded fabric cushion was applied to the bottom along with some red cording in DMC 221.

I'm not sure what (if anything) I'll store in it. Any ideas? Overall, I'm very pleased with this considering it was the first time I had done a box-finish!

 "Americana Box" design by Dames of the Needle
(Chart from Fine Lines Magazine: Summer 2002)

My other patriotic finish is from one of my favorite designers: Chessie & Me and is called "True Blue Chessie. This piece includes a satin and smyrna stitched border and is done on 32 ct. antique ivory Belfast with overdyed and DMC threads. The words are stitched "over one" while the rest of the piece is done over two. The stars on the grass were charted to be stitched into the hill, but I couldn't get them to show up well, so I just hand stitched two rows of stars on top of the green.
"True Blue Chessie"

For the finish, I chose some red, white, and blue fabric and ric rac and made a simple pillow for my bowl of patriotic finishes. The backing is the red and gold fabric shown on the left.

 "True Blue Chessie" pillow finish

I'm getting quite a nice collection of stitched patriotic pieces, don't you think? These were all stitched within the past few years and they're so cute I wish I could leave them out on display longer than a month. Do any of you keep your patriotic stitching out all year long? I had a friend years ago who had a bathroom all done in red, white, and blue Americana decor--a real conversation starter that's for sure!

True to the red, white, and blue!

My mail man was kept busy this past week with deliveries arriving from England, Portugal, and Connecticut. My package from England came from my dear friend, June. I had won her giveaway way, way back in April  and we both feared the package had been lost at sea or something! She mailed it on May 2nd and it took seven long weeks to arrive. Can you believe it? June was thrilled to hear it finally got here and, believe me, it was well worth the wait. Just look at all the blue and white goodies June sent--fabrics, ribbons, thread, pins, beads! Lovely... There was also some chocolate which had melted into a gooey mess, but did that stop me from eating it? Heavens, no!! I just popped it into the refrigerator until it solidified and then popped it right into my mouth--delicious! Thanks you so much, June--everything is so lovely!

 Thank you so much, June--such lovely goodies!

From my young friend in Portugal, sweet Nia, came a Random Act of Kindness in the form of this cute Lizzie Kate snowman chart and some pretty stitching themed fabric. What a nice surprise, Nia! I am so happy to have met you through blogging and thoroughly enjoy seeing your latest creations on your blog. Your gifts definitely put a smile on my face--thank you so very much!

Thank you so much, Nia--your RAK was wonderful!

And last, but not least, I received this darling LHN chart called "Heart of America" from my generous friend, Melanie. She offered the chart as a giveaway/traveling pattern type of thing and I will definitely be passing this along after I've stitched it. Knowing me, I'll just stitch a few of the little motifs as smalls rather than doing it as one large piece. So, keep an eye on my blog for a chance at winning this chart in the future... Thanks so much, Melanie--and I love the sentiment on the card you sent, also. It is, indeed, the small things in life that make it so sweet!

Thank you, Melanie--the chart is just lovely!

I just finished a thoroughly enjoyable book which I wanted to share with you. It's not a new book, in fact, many of you probably read it when it was published in 2009. As a librarian, you would think I would read all of the best-sellers when they first come out, right? No--I am such a slow reader that I tend to wait a few years after a book is published to actually read it, so I'm always a bit behind the times. This book truly was both bitter and sweet--a sweet love story between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl and a look at a bitter part of U.S. history that has so often been glossed over: the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII. I learned so much about that time period in Seattle and the northwest U.S. and think this would make a delightful movie.

And look what else I came across, when I was working on book selection the other day at the library. I don't select fiction (I am in charge of psychology, Large Print non-fiction, weddings, etiquette, interior decorating, and crafts--yay!!), but this book popped up when I did a keyword search for "cross stitch." Do you think this will be on your summer reading list? It isn't being published until August 2013, but here is a bit about it on Amazon if you'd like to get an idea of what it's like. Frankly, I think that's something everyone should do: cross stitch before dying!!

It's hydrangea time here in the east and oh, they are so lovely this year. Just look at these fat, full blooms on the bush right outside my kitchen window... Stunning! And I love how a bush can sometimes have blue, pink, and purple hydrangea blooms on it at the same time.  

One of my favorite flowers

When I was photographing this hydrangea, I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and froze. I was so scared to turn my head to see what it was because our neighbor had just told us he had seen a bobcat, yes a bobcat, in the woods behind his house. Now, that is a first around here--I won't be walking back into the woods alone as long as he may be lurking! But, I didn't need to worry;  as I turned my head, this sweet, brown bunny was all that I found. He was just looking for a little snack for dinner amidst our flowers. Our patio garden looks so pretty this year, although the deer have been nibbling on the small Japanese maple that we planted last year. And just last week I noticed two more deer mouths to feed--yes, little twin fawns were romping back by the pond with their mother!

"What's for supper tonight?"

Whew--I'd say that is about enough for this post. I'm so glad I managed to squeeze in this final post for the month of June! Thanks for stopping by to visit me and a special thank you to those of you who take the time to comment. I so appreciate hearing from you. I hope each of my U.S. friends has a fabulous 4th of July with your families and I want to wish my Canadian friends a most happy Canada Day! Let's hope for good weather for all of the picnics and fireworks that are planned!  Bye for now...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cute, Cuter, Cutest!

Hello, my stitching friends! Hope you are enjoying the month of June and the start of  summer. The past two weeks have proven to be busy ones around here with a whirlwind trip to Asheville, NC last weekend for a family wedding. Nine hours driving down on Friday and nine hours back on Sunday is not my idea of a fun time, but it was so nice to see relatives we hadn't seen in a while and catch up on all the family news. You know what the worst part of the trip was? I forgot to pack my stitching!! Can you believe it? I felt as if I were missing an arm or a leg or something. Just think of all those hours in the car that I could have spent stitching an ornament or two... I think I need to keep a small chart all kitted up and ready to go right in my suitcase to avoid any further "forgetful moments," don't you?

I do have a couple of cute finishes to share with you and then something even cuter that you might enjoy seeing later on in this post.

THE CUTE:  My sweet friend in England, June, celebrated a birthday this month (hmmm... I wonder how she got her name?!) and I wanted to send her a little remembrance When I saw this CCN design, "Rose Cottage," I knew it was the ideal thing to stitch for June who is an avid gardener. If you haven't visited her blog, please pay her a visit--her flowers are as beautiful as her stitching. I stitched this piece "over one" on 28 ct. white evenweave with a variety of overdyeds and DMC. I didn't have the suggested overdyed threads so I just went with something similar. As luck would have it, the colors I ended up choosing coordinated perfectly with the cute polka dot fabric that I backed the little pillow with! The saying on the little pillow, "Home is where your flowers grow" is perfectly fitting for June. I'm so pleased she liked my little gift...

Country Cottage Needleworks' "Rose Cottage"

THE CUTER:  My other finish is my Christmas ornament for May (yes, I'm behind again on my monthly ornament stitching, but will definitely catch up by the end of the month!). Most of you will recognize this LHN design as "Baked Goods." If you've been following my blog for a while now, you know that my other big passion, along with stitching and reading, is baking. I am the family baker for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other get-together. Now that my sons have grown and gone, I don't bake nearly as much as I did when they were home. I miss it so much, but I know I would double my weight if I kept on baking like I used to! Cookies were always my favorite thing to bake followed by muffins and breads. I only baked cakes for birthdays and pies were reserved for holidays or special occasions. But, it was a rare day that I sent my sons to school with anything other than homemade cookies in their lunch bags!

 "Baked Goods" by Little House Needleworks

This one was such fun to stitch! There was only one problem--it made me crave that chocolate cupcake in the lower right corner! Doesn't that look scrumptious with the chocolate sprinkles and cherry on top? I stitched this one on 35 ct. natural Northern cross linen--one of my favorite fabrics because white shows up so well on it. I did make a few color changes as I wanted the red to coordinate better with the shade of red in the cute gingerbread fabric that I backed it with. I kept the finish fairly simple due to this being quite a "busy" design and topped it with a white bow and a gingerbread girl charm which I glued on to a red button. What do you think?

"Baked Goods" finish

THE CUTEST:  Well, I have to admit to falling in love with something other than my cross stitch finishes lately. My husband and his co-workers were recently offered a behind-the-scenes tour of The Pittsburgh Zoo  and spouses were invited. I didn't know what to expect, but I never expected to get so up close and personal with the most adorable baby animals I've ever seen... Not only did I see these sweet young things, but I also got to feed a giraffe and I got kissed by a sea lion--yes, kissed!!! It was such fun and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. After our tour we were treated to dinner right there at the zoo (they have their own chef) and everything was delectable.

Are you ready for the tour? I'll start with the California Sea Lions... They are such joyful animals to watch as they jump and flip and splash their way through life! We each got a chance to be kissed by one if we wanted to. Of course I said, "Yes!!" 

 Such a sweet face on this Sea Lion

Isn't he comical with his hair spiked?

Show off!!

This little guy stole our hearts and was an animal most of us had never seen--or even heard of: the Red Panda. They resemble a cross between a raccoon, a cat, and a small bear. Red Pandas eat mostly bamboo and other leafy plants and are about the size of a house cat--too cute!

The Red Panda at the Pittsburgh Zoo

I got to feed this little guy some grapes! 

Next up, were the tallest land mammals on earth: the Masai Giraffes. Only one of them was brave enough to come to the gate, but I got to fee him carrots and even pet his face a bit. I never dreamed I would pet a giraffe!

How's the air up there, big guy?

OK--I'll admit this next animal does not exactly fall under the "cute" category, does she? But, the "baby" Black Rhino, who already weighs 600 pounds, was still so precious cuddling up to her huge 3,200 pound mother! There are only about 4,500 Black Rhinos remaining in the wild. 

Such huge beasts!

I could have fed her a banana, but declined! 
What would you have done?

On to something a lot prettier: the flamingos. We weren't able to get up close to them, but I couldn't resist photographing these delicate pink birds...

Love their reflections in the water

I've saved the two most adorable animals for last... Just look at this Amur Tiger Cub born in late March 2013! The zookeeper said he is the most valuable tiger in the United States right now--he was born to a pair of tigers borrowed from Russia and currently weighs about 25 pounds. We weren't able to touch him, but were within three feet of him.

Notice the protective gloves on the zookeeper.
Even at this young age, the tiger is very strong.

Just look at his beautiful little face!

My favorite baby animal of all was the most human-like: the Western Lowland Gorilla. This little one, born just seven weeks ago, was  incredible. He had to be removed from his mother, Moka, who developed a breast infection and wasn't able to nurse him. So, he is currently being raised by humans and seems to be thriving. He'll be reintegrated with his gorilla family after he begins eating solid foods.

OK--admit it! Didn't you all just say "Awww..."
when you glanced at his dear little face?

Mr. Tough Guy!

The keepers wear protective gloves and
masks to keep him safe from human disease.

All tuckered out--time for bed, little fellow...

Did you enjoy your visit to the zoo today? I was delighted with how close I was able to get to these beautiful animals--it was an experience I'll never forget...

The birthday that just keeps going and going... My last bit of stitching related news is to thank my sweet friend, Shirlee, for a belated birthday gift. My birthday was five months ago, but that doesn't matter--I'd love to see it keep going all year! Shirlee gifted me with this cute Bent Creek Zipper Kit called "Nativity Globe" that contained the chart, some lovely blue linen, and all of the threads and charms needed to finish it. This particular kit calls for stitching with pearl cotton which I've never used before so it will be fun to give it a try. Thank you so very much, dear Shirlee--your gift made me smile. And, hey, maybe I can just keep celebrating my 58th birthday forever!

 Belated birthday gift from Shirlee!

Well, that's about it for today... I have begun a couple of patriotic pieces which I hope to show you next time. Until then, happy stitching to each of you and thank you, as always, for your kind comments and emails--they always brighten my day. I want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers as well. I can't believe over 1100 of you find my little blog entertaining enough to follow. I so appreciate each of you!  It has been a wonderful experience "meeting" so many of you from all around the world--we are very lucky to share a common passion that draws us together like stitching does, aren't we? Bye for now...