Friday, February 14, 2014

A cute cupid and words of love...

Happy Valentine's Day! And how are all of my stitching friends this fine morning? I know we're all sick of the snow and ice in the U.S. and the flooding in the U.K. It sure has been a winter to forget. We managed to escape the latest storm that hit the southern and eastern states this week--only got about an inch of fresh snow. Our ground has been continually covered with the white stuff since late December so I am more than ready for S-P-R-I-N-G! Oh well, only 33 days left...

I have a couple of cuties to share with you today--just in time for Valentine's Day. First up is a very sweet freebie from Brooke's Books which you can find right here. This little guy is called "Stupid Cupid," but I don't think he looks dumb at all--maybe a bit mischievous as he aims his heart-tipped arrow of love at some unsuspecting soul. Just look at those chubby legs--don't you just want to pinch them?  He is so tiny! I stitched him "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco using the suggested colors although I changed the color of the strings on the bow to a lighter brown so they would show up better on the black.

Brooke's Books: "Stupid Cupid" freebie

I originally planned on a round finish, but I had a bit of this lacy ruched ribbon left from a previous project and thought it would be the perfect accent to add to a tiny pillow. I've placed the finish next to my scissors so you could see how truly small it is. I love it-- you know me and my love of anything miniature. On top of the bow, I glued three red beads in a  heart shape--not sure if you can see it well in the photo, but I think it's a cute accent. Mr. Cupid is backed with the red and white heart fabric shown in the background.

"Stupid Cupid" finish

And, I've stitched another of the monthly Word Plays: February. This one was much more enjoyable to stitch than the other two I did last year for some reason. I just love the charming scene of the man presenting his sweetheart with a Valentine flower and I think the tiny birds are so cute. Again, I stitched this "over one" on 28 ct. gray Monaco because I wanted it to be small enough to fit into my bowl of February finishes. I used the suggested colors, but did change the two little birds to the blue color. The suggested color just wasn't showing up well against the gray fabric.

February Word Play

I finished the February Word Play in the same way as January and April with a mini ric-rak border. This finish takes so long for me for some reason--I think it is exhausting trying to get the ric-rak lined up so perfectly. I debated between white and red for the border, but ended up with the red since I'd chosen white for January. My camera is horrible at portraying the actual red in pictures for some reason--it is not nearly as bright as is shown. What do you think?

Finished February Word Play pillow

So, I have an overflowing bowl of February smalls which I've stitched over the past three years. Would you like to see? (You can click on the photo for a larger view). I'd say I need another bowl if I do any more next February! I do love seeing the reds and pinks this time of year--such a nice change from all the white outside... Do you have a favorite? I think mine is still the little bluebird carrying the love letter on the far left--such a sweet design!

February bowl of smalls

A while ago, my mom gave me some of my grandmother's vintage handkerchiefs as she thought I might enjoy using them in my blog photos. Among them were these three sweet Valentine's hankies. I think it was common back in the 1930s-1950s  for women to have handkerchiefs for each of the different holidays. The first is bordered in a raised red heart design, the middle has a beautifully embroidered large heart surrounded by tiny hearts (that must have been grandma's favorite because it shows the most signs of use), and the third has one large heart with a sparkly "gem" in the center and a cupid and his bow and arrow sitting above. Such wonderful reminders of a by-gone era...

Vintage Valentine's Day handkerchiefs

You'll notice some cards and letters sitting on the hankies--these were also from Grandma. I have kept a  box through the years of cards and letters that have special meaning to me and I brought it out yesterday to read through them for the first time in years. What a treasure trove... Most are from the 1980s and early 1990s--before the days of email and twitter and blogs. Letter writing today is a lost art, I'm afraid. When was the last time you received an actual letter from someone? Oh, emails are nice, but they tend to get lost in the hundreds and hundreds of other emails, messages, and files on your computer. You don't take an email out of a drawer or box, carefully unfold it, and read it time and time again like you do a letter. There is something substantial about a letter--the words almost seem to be more meaningful because they are handwritten.

I'll have to admit I cried a few tears as I explored my box of letters--most of the writers are now dead... my grandmothers, my husband's grandmothers, a favorite aunt of ours. But, there are also cute notes from my sons from camp (one telling us that he must have killed 50 daddy-long-legs spiders that day!), sentimental anniversary cards from my husband, and long letters from old college friends during the years when we were all young mothers trying to figure out just how to raise our kids. There are even a few short notes from my dad who can no longer sign his own name due to his struggle with dementia--these especially touched my heart. I add to my box from time to time, but it is becoming rarer and rarer. Times have changed and these handwritten greetings are fewer and farther between...

So, does anyone have any special plans for Valentine's Day? We're planning on just eating in and then watching Captain Phillips (not exactly a romantic movie, but one we both want to see!). I did make these heart-shaped banana-chocolate chip muffins last night which were quite yummy. I had some very ripe bananas and decided to do something a bit different than make my usual banana bread so I found this recipe and they were very easy to put together. They're small enough that they aren't terribly high in calories, but they offer a quick burst of sweetness when you need a little pick-me-up.  

Heart-shaped mini Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Well, that winds up my post for today. I want to thank all of you for your wonderful comments and I'd like to say a special "welcome" to my new followers. I hope your day is filled with chocolates, flowers, smiles, and laughter! Happy Valentine's Day my sweet friends! Bye for now... 


Monday, February 3, 2014

Gifts and goodies!

Good February evening to you, my sweet friends! Who else is cheering the end of January? What a long, cold, miserable month--at least for those of us in the midwest and east (and many of you in the south, too). We received 20 inches more snow than in an "average" January...and I know I'll never forget all those sub-zero days. I'm sure hoping that February will be a bit nicer to us. But, a bright spot within that cold first month of 2014 was my birthday! I can't thank you enough for all of your birthday wishes on my last post. I'm so glad that many of you shared my recollections of childhood memories--it really was a wonderful time to grow up in so many ways, wasn't it? I do worry about the fast pace of life that children face growing up in today's world. I guess that sounds "old-fashioned," but it is so hard to see what kids have to deal with today in what should be a fun, simple time in their lives.

I've done a bit of stitching, but only have two things to share with you today--both were sent off as gifts. I stitched my first LHN "Little Sheep Virtues" and thoroughly enjoyed it. This one, "Peace," was sent to my friend, Cindy, for her birthday last month. I stitched it on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle using most of the suggested colors, but I changed the greens to DMC 3051 and 3052. I also added a few more leaves to the tree branches on the right.  A simple ecru handmade cording finished it off into a sweet, little pillow for Cindy to set on a bookshelf or place in a basket.

 Birthday gift stitched for Cindy

Another Little Sheep Virtues design, "Love,"  caught my eye and I thought it would be perfect for Valentine's Day stitching. This was sent as a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) to my friend, Lisa over at The Inspired Stitcher. I hope to do quite a few RAK's this year--just want to bring a smile to the faces of some of you wonderful stitching friends. Nothing is expected in return--I just enjoy surprising people now and then...  For "Love," I again used the 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle (although it seems to appear blue in this photo for some reason) and the same threads that I chose for the "Peace" pillow. I added two more small red hearts above the heart near over the "V" rather than add the suggested button. Both Cindy's gift and Lisa's RAK were backed with the pale green and ivory fabric you see in this photo. I think I'll be stitching this a second time to add to my bowl of Valentine's pillows...

 RAK stitched for Lisa

I've also stitched both my Christmas ornaments for January and February, but want to wait until I'm done with the finishing to share them with you.  Another RAK is in the works and will be winging its way to another stitching friend very soon, too! 

BIRTHDAY ROUND-UP... Several of you asked what my sons cooked for my birthday dinner. I'll tell  you... it was such a treat to just sit and be waited on that evening! I'm not used to others cooking for me and I honestly didn't quite know how to just sit and relax as they bustled around the kitchen cooking and doing the dishes... The main dish they prepared was called Pasta all'Amatrice and was prepared with a new-to-me pasta called bucatini. It was like a thick hollow spaghetti--have any of you had it before? Very, very tasty and quick to prepare. They also served roasted vegetables (not a green one in sight, thank goodness!!), garlic bread, and ended the feast with a selection of little cheesecakes for dessert. It was an almost-perfect evening--if only my youngest son could have been there with us, too. But, he surprised me by sending this simply gorgeous flower arrangement. Hydrangeas, lilies, iris, daisies, and white roses--such a perfect bouquet for me!

Birthday flowers from youngest son

Two wonderful gift certificates from 123 Stitch arrived from my oldest and middle sons and my middle son and his girlfriend also gave me this pretty blue and white bowl filled with the most fragrant hyacinth. It's been such a pleasure to enjoy a bit of spring as the snow flies outside!

A breath of spring!

And, guess what? More birthday gifts arrived from stitching friends. It took a bit longer to get them from overseas, but they were both well worth the wait. My sweet friend, Valerie, sent these all the way from France. Just look at this adorable blue and white needlebook that she stitched for me! I so love the little girl on the swing and the beautiful "C" monogram--just perfect! (This is from a French design called Toile de Jouy Alphabet Chart). She included a pretty handmade card and some floss as well. Thank you so much, my lovely friend--your thoughtful gifts are so special!

 Birthday gifts from Valerie

My dear friend, Lois in Northern Ireland, sent another fabulous package of goodies. She made a lovely floss tag (her first ever--and it looks perfect!) in the prettiest shades of blue and green. As you can see, it is monogrammed with my initials and the year and finished with a lovely blue/gray cording. The gift box also included a sweet chart called "Maddie Button" (I know I'll be stitching this one soon!), a lovely decorative bow, some silk floss, and a package of tea. Lois, your gifts put a huge smile on my face--thank you so very much!

Birthday gifts from Lois

And I was also treated to another 123 Stitch gift certificate from my sweet friend, Donna (no blog) who lives in West Virginia. I know just what I'll be ordering with it, Donna! Thanks so very much for making my birthday so special!

It's a tradition at the library where I work that whoever is celebrating his or her birthday brings a treat for our monthly meeting, so, with my January birthday, I'm first each year. This year, I treated my co-workers to this plate of cookies... Oh, my--the aromas of butter and sugar were amazing as they baked.  Along with the peanut-butter kiss cookies you see on the left, I also made White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies, Raspberry Brownies, and Pecan Pie Bars. Needless to say we were all on a "sugar high" after that meeting...

Birthday goodies made for work

I also wanted to share with you this bowl of cheery snowmen that I have on the sideboard in my kitchen. Honestly, just seeing their smiling faces has helped make this long winter a bit more bearable. Just look at those cute little grins--I dare you not to smile! My husband bought this long (22 inches!), narrow wooden bowl for me for Christmas and it is a perfect depth for displaying a row of my little pillows. These are actually Christmas ornaments that I placed in the bowl after we took our tree down last month. Cute, eh?

 My bowl of jolly snowmen

Well, that's about it for my first February post. I plan on doing some Valentine stitching over the next couple of weeks--how about you? I hope you each have a great week ahead with lots of stitching time! There is nothing more therapeutic than curling up with our fabric, thread, and needle on these cold winter days, don't you agree?  Thanks again for your delightful comments and emails... you always manage to make me smile!  Bye for now...