Thursday, January 16, 2014

My final year... my fifties begins today!  Although, based on the letter I got in the mail yesterday (mixed in with birthday cards from friends and family), you may think it begins my final year ever! Yes, I received a letter from a local funeral home wanting to introduce me to their new "funeral preplanning program." Now, if that didn't make me feel old, I don't know what will... But, it's true, my friends--today is my 59th birthday. It's made me quite nostalgic, especially when I found this old photo of me dancing with my dear father on my very first birthday, Raggedy Ann doll in his hand.

My first birthday: January 16, 1956

The Raggedy Ann doll made me recall other old memories of growing up in the fifties and sixties and I found myself lost (for hours!) on Pinterest boards amidst some wonderful old images that I hadn't seen in years. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. This post probably won't mean much to any of you who aren't in your forties, fifties, or sixties, but for all my younger readers, you'll glimpse a little part of how many of us "older" stitchers grew up...


Learning to read with Dick and Jane. Boring, but effective!

Pledging allegiance to the United States of America...
remember when it was your turn to hold the flag?

Putting our heads down on desks for rest periods after lunch
 or to quiet a noisy classroom. I remember this so well when
the news of JFK's assassination reached us on 11/22/63.

 Vintage Barbie dolls...
my sisters sold mine at a garage sale!

Does anyone remember playing this Barbie board 
game? My biggest fear was that I would end up with
"Poindexter!" I preferred the more brainy guy, "Tom."

The Easy-Bake Oven--one of my best
Christmas gifts ever! I think my love of
baking may have started with this...

45 rpm records--I wore many of these
 right out I listened to them so much! 

Old wooden Bingo tokens--loved that game!
 We had one just like this.

Vintage roller skates with a key to resize them.
Remember wearing your key around your neck
on an old shoelace or piece of string so you
wouldn't lose it?

Metal loom to make potholders--perhaps
my first foray into being creative!

Yikes! I still remember screaming when I ended
 up with the "Old Maid" at the end of the game.

OK--who can ever forget that smell?

Didn't we all want hair like "The Breck Girl?"
This is Cybill Shepherd in 1969!

Another scent that brings back 
very, very fond memories!

Smocked dresses on little girls--my grandmother
stitched the most beautiful ones!

Doctor Scholl's Original Exercise Sandals--I lived 
in these things in my teen years.

We had this exact cookie jar! I was so excited when I
saw it appear in an episode of "Mad Men."

How many of you used to buy, wear, and then eat 
these colorful candy necklaces?

Remember putting these Christmas
stencils on your windows each December?

"The Wonderful World of Disney" had kids across
the country glued to their TV sets each Sunday night. And
when color television appeared, it really became magical!

And who didn't love Annette the most on 
"The Mickey Mouse Club?"

Ahhh... "My Three Sons"--one of my favorite
TV shows. Little did I know that 20 years later 
I could have starred in my own version of it! 

I still remember how excited we all were the day
 my dad brought home this "Meet the Beatles!" album.
The entire family was dancing around the living room!

But, along came "The Monkees" and Davy Jones
stole my heart. How about you?

And another sixties heartthrob of mine--Leonard Whiting
in the 1968 version of "Romeo and Juliet." Who didn't
 want to be that lucky Olivia Hussey?! At least I had her
same "long straight hair parted-in-the-middle!"

Yes, life in 1955, the year I was born, was very different!

I hope you've enjoyed my walk through my childhood and teen years. What other memories pop out in your mind from that era? I think it was a great time to grow up--a time of rapid change, not all good, not all bad. But, those years made me what I am today. So, I enter my last year in my fifties with hope and thankfulness. I'm not sure how I'll feel when I turn 60 next year, but as my husband always says when I complain about getting older, "It's better than the alternative!"

I was so lucky to receive some lovely birthday gifts from my stitching friends which I'd like to share with you. My first gift arrived from dear June all the way from England. She sent me a pretty Jardin Prive chart with the threads, a peony and jasmine fragrant scent, and some cheery blue and white checked ribbon. Thank you so much, my friend--I look forward to using all of your wonderful gifts.

Birthday gifts from June

I also received a wonderful package of fabrics and trims from my sweet friend, Robin, in Virginia. She was so kind to include two hand-dyed packages of Monaco (because she knows how much I enjoy stitching "over one" on that particular fabric) and some lovely champagne colored chenille as well as a supply of navy ric-rak. I love receiving finishing supplies, Robin--thank you so much! I know I'll enjoy using these on some future finishes.

Birthday gifts from Robin

From my lovely friend, Valerie, out in San Francisco, I received a generous gift certificate to my favorite on-line stitching shop, 123 Stitch. I know I'm going to have a grand time perusing the site to choose some new charts or finishing materials. Thank you so very much, Valerie! Who doesn't love getting a gift certificate?!

123 Stitch gift certificate from Valerie

From, my sweet friend, Cindy, in Tennessee, I received the most beautiful snowman ornament for my snowman tree that I have in my kitchen (I keep it up until the end of January). She mounted him in a pocket watch case, a technique that the talented Vonna shared with us in this post. I just love him, Cindy... the blue fabric you used is perfect for a winter scene. I know I'll be trying this type of finish myself in the future (along with most of you, I'll bet!).

Birthday gift snowman ornament from Cindy

In addition to the snowman, Cindy sent me a cute felted piece of birthday cake and not one, not, two, not three, but TEN fabric pieces for me to use in my finishing! I was so thrilled as we have very few places around here to get unusual fabrics... Aren't these wonderful? Thank you, dear Cindy--I know you'll be seeing these pop up on some of my future ornaments and pillows.

Birthday gifts from Cindy

And finally, from my dear friend, Myra, came a box load of goodies! Just look at this little handmade coin purse she made! I'm in awe--I have no idea how she comes up with these creative ideas, but her work just keeps getting better and better. On the end there are two small charms--a "C" for Carol and a small heart engraved with the words "Made With Love."  As you can see she used three different fabrics in shades of blue: two on the outer part and one inside--just perfect for me!  

 Handmade purse from Myra for my birthday

Myra showed some of these mugs that she had printed at Staples from some of her samplers on her blog last month and little did I know that she would send one of them to me as a gift. My photos aren't the best due to the glare (we actually had a bit of sunshine yesterday--gasp!!) when I took them, but I think you get the idea of how wonderful the mug is.

Birthday mug from Myra

But, that's not all! Myra also sent me a bar of chocolate, some cozy stitching socks, two ribbon spools in blue, a bar of juicy peach shea butter soap, a darling vintage themed needle card, and some greenery that will be perfect for finishing Christmas ornaments. Whew!! Thank you, you generous soul--I love each and every gift, Myra!

Birthday gifts from Myra

And, while not a birthday gift, I did receive one more special delivery from England. Christine sent me this tiny bottle filled with bits of sea glass... How did that come about? Well, I admired her big collection of it on her blog and commented that I had never seen it in real life before. The next thing you know, Christine offered to send me some. I was so excited to get some real Cornish sea glass and will add it to my seaside display in my bathroom. She explained that the dark blue is quite hard to find and is often a piece of an old poison bottle. It's fascinating to imagine how old these pieces of glass are and how they found their way into the sea. Thank you so, so much, Christine for sharing a piece of your world with me--I love it!

Cornish sea glass from Christine

Wow! I was thoroughly spoiled and a couple of you have told me there are more gifts on the way. How blessed I feel to have so many thoughtful blogging friends from around the world--you are so very special and I hope you know how you've touched my life...  Thank you all and thank you to those of you who sent cards and emails my way--I appreciate each and every "Happy Birthday" message.

I had planned on showing you a couple of my recent finishes, but, honestly, I'm worn out--I've been working on this post for a few hours and I will just have to save them for next time. I'm so looking forward to Sunday as my two oldest sons have invited us to their apartment for my birthday dinner--only the second time we've been there for dinner in the five years they've lived there (hint, hint--boys!!). The middle son's girlfriend is helping with the cooking so my worries about food poisoning are gone (just kidding, guys!). 

I'm behind on blog visiting and commenting, but will be around to say "hello" to you all soon. I also want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers--so happy you've decided to visit. Thank you again for making my birthday such a special one and happy stitching, everyone! Bye for now...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Catching up

My first post of 2014! The slate has been wiped clean and January brings a fresh start. And, boy, what a start it's been for those of us hit with the effects of the Polar Vortex. Even the name of it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, doesn't it? Here in Pennsylvania, we've been luckier than many of you... our low only reached -7°F (about -21°C)  on Tuesday with a windchill in the -20° range. I'm sure that sounds warm compared to some of you who have been dealing with windchills hovering around -45°! But, it was the coldest  weather we've experienced in the western Pennsylvania area in 20 years! I still remember that January back in 1994 because it was so frigid that the schools shut down for a few days and I was at home trying to reign in three rambunctious boys who were then 11, 9, and 5! The good news is that we didn't get hit with the snow that many of you had--in fact we only have about 4 inches on the ground. The even better news is that it is warming up and will reach 50° by the weekend--time to wash our disgusting, salt-covered cars, I'd say. Mine is so bad that I walked right past it in the parking lot the other day because it looked like a drab gray instead of the normally pretty shade of blue!

Thank you all so much for your great comments on my last post--I really did receive some wonderful gifts, didn't I?  Today, I'd like to share with you the stitched gifts that I sent to some of my blogging friends for Christmas. I truly wish I could have sent out more presents, but I'm only human. I work part-time and still need to sleep (and indulge in my love of reading!) so my stitching time is limited. I'm going to try sending out more Random Acts of Kindness surprises this year, though, so, hopefully, I'll put a few more smiles on friends' faces...

This cheery Just Nan snowman piece called "Snow Business" went across the state to my dear friend Mary. I used the suggested DMC threads and stitched it on a mystery piece of 32ct. linen. In the inner circle I tacked on a delicate Mill Hill snowflake charm. Rather than finishing this into an ornament, I made one of my little pillows so Mary can perch it on her mantle or next to a wintry display.

Just Nan "Snow Business"

You'll all recognize this next piece as a Prairie Schooler design, I'm sure! This sweet chickadee standing on his birdhouse is from PS Book No. 14 called "Holiday Homestead." I changed the red to DMC 815 and added some black to the chickadee's head and to the opening in the bird house. It is stitched on 35 ct. natural Northern Cross linen. Where did this little birdie fly off to? Why, he ended up in Virginia at my friend Robin's nest... Robin doesn't have a blog, but has sent me photos of her stitching and, believe me, it is gorgeous!

Prairie Schooler Cardinal

My next gift went to long-time blogging friend, Myra, in North Carolina. If you think this looks familiar, you're right! I stitched two of these--one for my December ornament and one for Myra.  Both were stitched on black 32 ct. Belfast linen. I added the snowflakes in the background rather than the charted monogrammed initials. You all know what a lover of cardinals Myra is so I thought this would be perfect for her. I  have a feeling I'll be stitching this a third time for another gift!

Prairie Schooler Santa With Cardinal

This little sheep made his way to sweet June in England. He is the third and final in a series of ornaments I stitched for June designed by Plum Pudding NeedleArt in the "Candy Cane Wishes" booklet. As with the other two, I stitched this ornament "over one" on 28 ct. natural Jobelan with the suggested DMC threads. You can see the previous finishes from that series by clicking on these links: here is the snowman and here is the gingerbread boy. June loves them all and says she looks forward to hanging the entire set together on her Christmas tree.

Plum Pudding NeedleArt 
"Candy Cane Wishes" sheep

Another ornament that traveled across the Atlantic ended up in the Northern Ireland home of my dear friend, Lois. I got so many compliments on this Prairie Schooler snowman (from the 1999 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue) that I stitched on black 32 ct. Belfast linen (in this post), that I decided to stitch another for Lois. I don't mind stitching the same thing more than once if there is some time in between. In this case, it was over two years between the two so I thoroughly enjoyed it! The ornament is backed with the pretty red snowflake fabric shown in the background and  bordered in some of my handmade DMC cording.

Prairie Schooler Snowman

Another of my earliest blogging friends, Cindy, received this next ornament. Cindy moved into a new house this year so I wanted to include a stitched house in the design I chose.  And what better designer to find the perfect house images than Little House Needleworks? I turned to "Snow White" and stitched just the bottom portion of the design so it would be small enough for an ornament.This one is stitched on 16 ct. blue Heatherfield and I added a trio of silver bells and pearly white Mill Hill beads in the center of the bow.

Little House Needleworks: "Snow White"

My young friend, Edit, still hasn't received her ornament, but I decided to share it with you anyway. I sent it before Christmas, but it had to travel to Spain so I hope it's not lost. This one is called "A Very Merry Winter" by JBW and I received the same ornament from my friend Lois last year. I loved it so much that I decided to stitch it for Edit. The hanger is a strip of fabric from an old frayed flannel shirt (which is also the backing fabric) and the bottom is adorned with five rusty bells. I love how the stitching on the snowman spells out "Have a Very Merry Winter"--adorable!

JBW: "A Very Merry Winter"

The final ornament was an easy choice! My friend, Shirlee, told me how much she loved my blue and white finish of the skaters and the log cabin (you can see it in this post) so I decided to stitch it for her Christmas gift. The finishing is a little different from my original, but the overall effect is the same.This is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. white evenweave with DMC 3750 and is just the bottom portion of a larger sampler. And, guess what?! I just discovered that Leisure Arts offered the entire sampler as a free download in this post!! Simply scroll down to the Cross Stitching section of that post and click on the words "Winter Sampler." I would print it off right away if you plan to stitch it, though--you just never know how long these things will stay online... I also stitched the top portion of the sampler in red (DMC 304) back in this post in 2012.  Love them both! Has anyone stitched the entire sampler? I'll bet it is beautiful!

Leisure Arts "Winter Sampler"

So, that finishes up the last of my 2013 stitching. I knew my stitching count was down last year, but I'm still pleased with all that I managed to accomplish. I stitched 47 smalls (ornaments, pillows, fobs) and of those 28 were given away as gifts or giveaway prizes. I think that fact makes me happiest of all--I love having my little creations spread out around the world! There were only 5 larger (really mid-size!) finishes, but two of them were box finishes--my very first ever. I so look forward to sharing my stitching addiction (and a little bit of my life) with all of you in 2014! Thank you, as always for stopping by and saying "hi!" I'll be back next week. Bye for now...