Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Four Weeks?

Has it really been four weeks since my last post? I hope April has been a good month for each of you. It's been a busy one for me with a trip to Florida and then having my entire family here for Easter weekend.  And, oh yes, there were those couple of weeks in between where I just lost my blogging mojo for a bit. But, I'm back with a few things to share with you. First of all, I want to welcome my new followers--I'm always amazed when I glance at my sidebar and see that there are close to 1300 friends reading "Stitching Dreams" from all around the world. Who would ever have thought this little blog would have grown the way it has over the past five years? And you know what... without all of your kind comments, supportive emails, and the inspiration that you share on your own blogs, it never would have. Thank you all!

I'd fully intended to share this first finish with you before Easter, but I got so very busy cooking and baking for the weekend, that I just couldn't seem to sit still long enough to finish it off into a little pillow. This sweet piece is a Homespun Elegance Design called "Delivering Spring Blossoms" and is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle linen with most of the suggested overdyed threads. I did have to change the colors of the pink flowers to GAST Antique Rose and the color of the cart to GAST Harvest Basket since I didn't have the suggested threads in my stash. I also changed the color of the bunnies' tails to ecru rather than leaving them brown as was charted.

Like many of you, I struggle with stitching French knots, so I used Colonial knots to make the little posies that each bunny is holding and for the flower in the basket. I found a very helpful video tutorial right here and I'm quite happy with the result. You'll notice the little satin stitched mounds of "grass," too--I think that really gives a nice texture to the design. The pillow is finished with the green fabric shown in the background and I simply used two old shirt buttons to act as wheels for the cart. I wonder who the bunnies are delivering their spring blossoms to? Maybe a loving, old grandmother bunny? Or perhaps a sick neighbor? They just look so cute and intent on their mission, don't they?

My other two finishes were both sent off as gifts. The first went to my sweet friend, Nia, in Portugal who just had a beautiful, bouncing, baby boy in March. I wanted to make him his very first Christmas ornament so I stitched this JBW gingerbread man from the "Baby's First Christmas" booklet. This one is stitched on 32 ct. black Belfast linen and is backed with the cheery, red gingerbread boy fabric shown in the photo. On the chart, there is just an outline of the gingerbread boy, but I filled him in with brown, added beads to the holly in his hat, a white pompom to his hat, and changed the face a bit. I also added the baby's name rather than the charted words "Baby's First Christmas." I struggled with how to stitch the little "tail" under the "c" in Lourenço, as we don't have anything like that in English, but Nia said it looks just fine... I hope my small remembrance brings little Lourenço smiles each Christmas for years to come!

And another RAK was stitched and sent to my blogging friend, Vickie in Wisconsin. This time, "Hope" by Little House Needleworks was my choice. I do love stitching these little sheep and so far have sent both Peace and Love off to stitching friends. I chose "Hope" for Vickie as I truly hope the day comes when she can live a pain free life. I just love the snowflake in this one and thought it had a very wintry feel to it, so I also included a bit of cording that Vickie can pin onto the back to make a loop so she can use it as a Christmas ornament rather than a pillow if she chooses. Like my other two LHN Little Sheep Virtues, this one is stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray (even though it looks blue in the photo!) Newcastle linen and backed with that soft, leafy green fabric shown in the background.

Would you like to see some of my Florida photos? Honestly, we couldn't have asked for nicer weather! Sunny and warm with bright blue skies and temperatures in the low 80s each and every day... can you say paradise? After that brutal winter of ours, it was more welcome than ever. My husband's parents, whom we visited, live in Naples and for any of you who have ever visited, you know what a fabulous part of Florida that is...

Relaxing, quiet, sandy beaches...
especially after the "snowbirds" have gone back north!
Fabulous flowers...

Stunning houses...

And more lovely mansions...
imagine driving under that floral arch each day!

Comical wildlife...
I don't think these birds can read the sign!

Ready for his close-up

Delicate birds

And a close-up...
a kind fisherman offered to lure
this pretty bird closer with a bit of his bait

Peaceful scenes...
morning at the Naples City Dock

And stunning sunsets...
evening at Naples beach

As lovely as those sunny days were, I was happy to get home again--I am such a homebody and just feel this immediate sense of peace when I walk through my own door again. How about you? After about five days away, I just get this sense that I want to be home again...

I was so excited when my youngest son told us he and his girlfriend would be joining us for Easter weekend! Since he lives in Washington, DC, he is never around for our weekly Sunday dinners like our other two sons are so I tend to "over-do" it a bit when he does come home with an abundance of cooking and baking. In addition to Key Lime Pie, Banana Carrot Muffins, and Chocolate Raspberry Brownies, I baked a new cookie that the guys went crazy for. You can find the recipe for these White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies right here. You know what the secret ingredient is? Brandy!! 

Now, we aren't big drinkers in my house (although my husband does love to both brew and drink his own beer), so I wasn't at all sure if we even had any brandy in the house. I stepped up on a chair to peruse our "liquor cabinet" (in other words, the cabinet above the refrigerator!) and started pawing through an assortment of old bottles--many untouched for decades. And yes--way back in the deepest, darkest corner was a dusty bottle of brandy with the price tag still on it--$6.19!! It had to be from back in the 70s when we were young newlyweds. I was a bit hesitant about using something so old, but threw caution to the wind and went for it. The boys all said this recipe needs to be added to my annual Thanksgiving/Christmas baking line-up. The only change I made was to leave out 1/4 cup of the sugar--they were still very, very sweet. And if you don't like the idea of adding brandy (it only calls for one Tablespoon), substituting vanilla would be just fine...

It is so rare to have all three of my  boys young men home at the same time that I treasure the times when that actually occurs. We all pitched in to create a memorable Easter dinner. My youngest son's girlfriend prepared her grandmother's delicious kugel for us (oh, my--what a treat) and our middle son saved the day when he found not one, but two recipes for grilling trout. Yes, trout! My husband mistakenly picked up trout  for our Easter dinner (which was supposed to consist of grilled beef tenderloin and salmon) and I didn't discover it until an hour or so before we were supposed to eat! Cooking is so much more fun when everyone pitches in, don't you agree?

I want to thank my friend, Gabi in Germany, who surprised me with not one, but two adorable Easter pillows. Gabi doesn't have a blog, but we've become email friends, and she's been so generous to me. The larger pillow is a Tra La La design called "Duo Printemps" and the small one is a little freebie by My Happy Memories available right here. Thank you so much, dear Gabi--I love them both and will think of you each time I decorate for spring and Easter!

Easter surprise from Gabi

I actually do have more to show you, but I'll save that for another day... I hope each of you has a merry, merry month of May! It certainly will be a month of celebrations for us with my in-law's 60th anniversary on Thursday and several family birthdays spread throughout the month. Oh, and let's not forget Mother's Day coming up on May 11th! Is anyone else hoping for some new stitching goodies? I've got my wish list ready! What's on yours? Bye for now...


Kaisievic said...

Gorgeous easter pillows from Gabi and your stitching is so pretty. Thank you so much for the recipe links and the photos of Florida were so interesting to see. Sounds to me as if you had a fabulous Easter.

Vickie said...

Thanks again for my HOPE pillow Carol. It means a lot to me. :)
What a wonderful celebration of Easter. Trout!
The week in Florida looks fabulous. I am a homebody too. :)

Mii Stitch said...

What a sweet post! It was worth waiting for... to see all these lovely finishes & gifts... and food & beautiful houses!!!
Take care sweetie xxx

Barb said...

Great pieces. I loved the Easter ones. Loved seeing the scenery ones too. Makes you think spring and some day spring will come to stay!

Annie said...

What a busy life you lead! I'd roll over in exhaustion.

Your bunny cart is adorable. I've struggled with both Fr. Knots and Colonial Knots forever. The tutorials are always good, but when I do those knots, they never work out so evenly. They are all different sizes and often pull right through. Nice to see that someone has mastered the art!

Super cute little ornament for Nia's little prince. And what a sweet RAK for dear Vickie.

Vacation, food, family, plus a lovely stitchy gift.... Looks like life is good!

Robin said...

What lovely gifts you received as well as sent off, Carol! Hmmm...trout sounds yummy! We had pizza for Easter dinner here.

Enjoy your week!

Robin in Virginia

CathieJ said...

Wow, I love all of your cute finishes. You actually gave me an idea for how to finish my Little House Needleworks "Love" that I recently finished stitching.

marly said...

Your finishing is so perfect - you could certainly do a pear! The backing fabric on the baby's ornament couldn't be better fit. Never been to the Naples area and that beach looks the nicest of the others we've visited. Great post!

Mrs. GraceWorks said...

Lovely update and pictures, Carol! I know your gorgeous gifts will be appreciated! I'm so glad you got to have all your boys there for Easter. I'm realizing that those times are precious because they are less frequent. Have a wonderful Mother's Day coming up!

Lesley said...

I always sit back,relax and read your posts Carol they are very enjoyable and this one is no exception.Lovely stitching photos and where your your In- laws live is delightful.I love going away but I love comng home even more,five days is long enough for me too.
How wonderful to have your sons together at Easter,it is very special to have the family all gather and enjoy good company and delicious food,

Kay said...

Florida looks lovely and sunny, the sun has only recently arrive din England. Beautiful stitching, I especially like the bunny design.

Angela P said...

Great stitching finishes and I love those pics of Florida! One of my favorite places in the USA :)

Julie said...

Has always a great post filled with lovely stitching and baking.And Naples just looks just like heaven,especially after your awful winter.

Melody said...

Your trip to Florida looks like a wonderful way to forget about the brutal winter most of us experienced! I was happy to read your family was all home for Easter. What a treat!

Your stitching finishes are beautiful, and I am sure the recipients of your stitching were thrilled with them.

The Inspired Stitcher said...

I wish I could have been a mouse in your pocket on that trip. The pictures are lovely. Lovely stitching too. I'm glad you had a full nest for Easter. Have a good week! Hugs

Christina said...

Such lovely pics of your trip to Florida, it looks so peaceful. I am like you, I love to be away. But then it is time to go home.

I saw your lovely ornament on Nia's blog. It is super cute. So are the bunnies all piled in and on their way.Such cute bunnies you received.

Glad you had a wonderful visit with all of your boys. Great way to spend the day.

Have a Happy Mother's day!

Ricamo a Doppio Filo said...

Hello! Love your blog, love your freebies,
Thank you very much!

Faye said...

Thank you so much for pointing us to the very helpful tutorial on French Knots. Love your work and presentation.

Von said...

Carol, you've been a busy lady lately! Enjoyed seeing your latest projects. It's great that you got some time away. DH and I just got home from a week in Mexico, where we sat soaking in the sun and warmth. :)

Mary said...

Oh Carol, what sweet and adorable stitching.
I love the bunnies delivering their flowers.
How thoughtful to send Nia's son one of his first Christmas ornaments.

I know that your RAKs are loved and appreciated. They are thoughtfulness and perfection

I'm glad that your boys were all home for Easter.
Your trip to Florida looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing the pics and the recipes :)


~Narita said...

You stitch the best designs, I love them all!!!

KimM said...

Your stitching is beautiful. Lovely pictures of Florida. I'm like you - I'm a home body and, when away, can hardly wait to snuggle back in at home. Cheers!

Michelle said...

What stunning photos - I have so enjoyed looking at all your pictures. Stitching is lovely xx

butterfly said...

Love your header so sweet and all your lovely stitching and gifts, I know all your friends will be over the moon.
So happy you had a lovely Easter with your young men, and a lovely break.
Yes I also like to come home after a week, no place like Home , big hugs.

cucki said...

You stitch such sweet designs ..I love them all
Hugs x

Lisa T said...

I grew up in Florida & I must say those pictures make me long for home After our terrible winter I am ready for some sun n' sand. :-) So glad you had a nice break from everything and that your Easter was filled with fun & family. It's nice to have you back in blogland. Wonderful gifts from Gabi & I love your bunny pillow too.

Charlene ♥ SC said...

Glad your holiday was restful in beautiful weather! Sounds like a lovely family holiday on Easter, too. Be well, dear friend, and hope to see more finishing soon.

Jennifer said...

I may have to try those cookies. White chocolate and cranberry always make it into our Christmas baking, usually combined with pistachios.

How lovely to have all 3 boys home for the holidays! Although I bet there wasn't a bite of food left when they departed. :-)

Frances N said...

Your gifts are so lovely and I know you were glad to receive them!
Also, your finishing is perfect,as usual!!

Cindy's Stitching said...

Beautiful pieces. The photos are so pretty

Mylene said...

Great post Carol, always enjoy catching up with your nes.
Such beutiful views and finishes as well as gifts. Wish you a happy week!!

Margaret said...

So glad you had all your boys at home! (Boys, not men. lolol!) Must have been a wonderful Easter! Love your Florida pics! We were in Naples way back when DS was around 2 years old. Still have a pic of him on the beach there. A beautiful place! Beautiful finishes as always! Hope life is treating you well!

valerie said...

Wow, what great photos of Naples! Looks like a wonderful vacation. And you must have been so happy to spend Easter with the boys and their girlfriends. Sounds wonderful! Love your finishes this past month and my favorite is Hope. I hope to stitch and finish those sheep into small pillows someday. Hope you are having a great week!

Southpaw Stitcher said...

Wow! So much going on in this post! Lovely photos! Sheer perfection in your finishing, as usual. Stunning photos of Florida--you should be a professional photographer!

Jackie said...

I wish I could visit you and learn your techniques for pillow finishes. They're all so wonderful!

It sounds like you had a wonderful Easter. I'm glad all three of your boys were home. Like you - my sons are grown but they're still my boys!

Wanda said...

Hi Carol! It's great to see your post. Time really does fly by. As always, your ornaments are stunning. I love your bunnies and the satin stitch really adds a lovely texture to the pattern. The gingerbread ornament is delightful. I am always amazed at your ability to envision patterns on different fabrics with different threads! I love the sheep! I am hoping to do them as one large piece (my wish to stitch list just continues to grow...) Your Florida pictures are lovely. What a nice break that must have been. I know what you mean about being thrilled to be home. I was in Winnipeg last week and while I had a lovely time at the conference I was so happy to arrive home. Duo Printemps is adorable! I am glad your family were able to be home for Easter - sounds like you had an amazing feast. Hope May slows down a little for you,
hugs, Wanda

Linda said...

Gorgeous stitching and finishing as always Carol. Loved seeing the pics of Florida. Never been there. Adorable pillows from Gabi.


Judy said...

Hi Carol, A day is always complete to see a post from you. All perfectly written, stitched, finished and a pleasure to read. The HE Delivering Spring Blossoms is just too cute. I don't recall if I have that pattern in my very large stash of HE...but it surely must be added. I have been stitching the LHN sheep virtues. On # 4. They are a quick and fun stitch. Ofcourse, none of them have been finished! It looked like the perfect time to be in Naples. Beautiful photos. And your Easter was delightful, not to mention yummy! Happy May to you..sounds like you will be busy again. Enjoy.

Judy Heartland stitcher

passionfruitprincess said...

Hi, Carol! Beautiful Florida pictures! And lovely stitch! So nice you stitched the baby ornament with the correct Portuguese. We do have some different things! I need to start using them when I type. I just never get to do it.
Sounds like you had a wonderful Easter with your family.
Have a wonderful week!
Ana Paula.

Mouse said...

cooooo I am exhausted from all that travelling stitching and mmmmmm cookies ... ooo sorry gorgeous wee gifts you got too ... ooo and sent :)
that brandy matures with age you know soo that's why the cooookies where gorgeous hehehehe ....
enjoy your month of celebrations :) love mouse xxxxx
mmmmm cookies ......

Mavi. said...

Hi Carol, I'm really happy you enjoyed the company of your children and family, I guess I have been very exciting. Photos of your great holiday and enjoy the nice weather is appreciated. Your precious embroidery and embroidery enviable your view on count 40.
I wish you a happy May.

Faye said...

All of your Easter stitches are just perfect!!!! I love all the nice colors~~ and! your trip to Florida looks fun and relaxing.... Glad to get your update!

Shirlee said...

Oh my friend, always a treat to read your blog posts : ) Your Easter spent with your family sounds absolutely wonderful! The Baby's First Christmas & Hope pillows/ornaments are lovely! The Florida photos bring back memories of when John & I lived there. And thank you so much for the white chocolate cranberry cookies recipe! John & I were served there on the plane when we went to Las Vegas last November & John can't get them out of his mind ... lol! I will have to make some to surprise him : ) Mother's Day already? This year is going fast, isn't it! Happy spring my friend!

Chris said...

Wow! Can you believe that it is May already?? Florida looks like it was lovely. How nice to have the whole family together for Easter. Those cookies look amazing.
Lovely stitching, the bunnies and the RAKS. What a lovely Package from Gia too. So will you move onto patriotic stitching now?

Melissa said...

As usual, a very lovely post with lots of lovely stitching! I love what Gabi stitched for you too.

Those photos of Florida - I can just hear the water lapping on the beach, and the sounds of the birds! I know what you mean though about "home is the best".

Your Easter weekend sounds like a lot of fun and filled happy tummies!

Lynn B said...

Wonderful finishes and updates of your latest family gathering, I am sure it was such fun having all of your family together.
Love the Naples photos, wish I was there right now!

Best wishes
Lynn B

Julie said...

A super post Carol, sunshine, family and stitching, perfect.
We have cranberry and white chocolate cookies at the Book Borrowers, unfortunately they come out of a packet, not homemade like yours.
Love and (hugs) x

Carolyn said...

I always get so excited when I get notified that you have a new post. You are so inspiring with your beautiful stitching and finishing! Lovely...all of it! Thank you for sharing you ideas and talents with all of us. Have a great "rest of the week" and weekend! Carolyn :)

Elizabeth Ann said...

Love those little bunnies! The ocean pictures are awesome, would love to walk on that beach everyday and the cookies look very good, will have to try them out on the company that will be arriving very soon!
Have a great weekend!

Rachel S-H said...

Happy Easter! I love that bunny dish!

I actually don't mind French knots, but I have to have the right mojo to do them well. I was taught to do them by someone who made me spend the entire day doing them, so now I find Colonial knots to be confusing. I could never do those tiny little knotted designs though.

msmartello said...

Hi Carol,
Looks like you had a fabulous trip also. Some warmth and sun does us good but it is nice to get home. Great finishes and what a lovely gift form you friend Gabi. I am so glad you were able to enjoy Easter with your family.

Take Care


Nicky said...

Hello Carol!
As ever I love catching up on your stitching and family news. I love those sweet bunnies they are adorable and your colonial knots look perfect.....
How wonderful to have your boys all home together and I bet it was a shock to see trout arrive home from the store!! Sounds like everyone chipped in to make it a perfect day anyway.
Best wishes for the month of May, I hope it's another great one for you all!
Nicky x

Valma said...

fantastic stitchings, fantastic finishes, fantastic pictures, fantastic gifts...this is definitely a fantastic post :D
I love the pieces you made !
they are just perfect
and the pictures of this trip, wow...they make me dreaming !!!
so great to see another side of Florida than the one we always see on TV ! really beautiful
have a great weekend my sweet friend and a great month of May
big big hugs

Annette said...

Sometimes, life is too busy, and we can't do it all at ones.. But as you know, we aren't walking away!!
We will be here waiting for another one of your beautifull post..

Lovely bunny piece you made!!!
I love the video.. I have no prblem with French knots, but the only thing is, when you make the larger they fall.. but this one is really awesome.. need to try it next time..
Thank you for sharing!!

You made such a cute piece for Lourenco.. awesome!!!
I Know Nia loves it very much!!

Your Hope sheep piece is lovely I can imagine she was very happy with it!!

Ow your pictures from Florida look like heaven.. so beautifull.. blue water white beach.. I can iamgine your very happy with having family living there..
The pic's are awesome!!
Reall beautifull!!
The birds .. you pic's are beautifull made, so neat
The sunset s my favorite!!

Mmmmmmm it's sounds all so yummy what you all made.
How awesome the girlfriend, spoiled you with yummy's!
have a great week.
Enjoy May and your stitching!!

Lynda Harrison said...

Hi Carol!
It is so good to see your new post - and thank you for your lovely email - I will reply soon !
Good to hear that you and your lovely family had a wonderful Easter - and Florida looks SO inviting in those smashing photo's!
Hoping you have a wonderful month, a happy Mother's Day - and lots of warm sunshine!
Take care,

priscilla said...

Your three finishes are beautiful, Carol !
The photos from Florida are wonderful ! Looks like you had great weather !
Have a great weekend !

Andrea said...

I am always eager to see your posts and what you have been creating. This time is no exception, beautiful finishes. A lovely gift too. Gorgeous photos from Florida, it looks like the weather was beautiful and sunny.

Bekca said...

Your gifts are always so thoughtful Carol, your stitchy friends are lucky to know you :) I'm so glad you had a wonderful Easter weekend. The cookies sound amazing, I can see why they were popular! I hope you receive some lovely gifts for Mother's Day.
Best wishes.

Jennifer M. said...

I absolutely adore the bunny finish. The buttons for the wheels are so fun and cute! Love your other finishes also. You always do such nice work. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Naples. I hope our sunshine and heat didn't make you too crazy. :) The photos were lovely.

Karoline said...

How lovely to have all your boys back for Easter

Your finishes are all gorgeous, congratulations

Barb said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post with us - your stitching and finishes are always so creative and so charming. You inspire me to give it a try - and I have a very large stash of stitching that needs finishing!! :-)

I also loved seeing your photos of your trip to Florida - those pelicans are particularly entertaining, aren't they?

Thanks, too for the cookies recipe - look very tasty!

Happy Month of May to you!!

Lumiruusu said...

Al the stiched pieces are fantastic s allways you really one of
"the Queens of the Smalls" because I think your finihed stitchings look just perfect to me. Lovely photos especially because here in the northes part of Europe we have had crazy weather-in this morning it snowed many hours!1 The snow melted right away and it sarted to rain very cold water..hrrrr.

Be blessed dear blogging friend-Your blog is very inspirational and I allways wait for Your updates!!

Shirley said...

Your holiday photos look fab and your stitching as beautiful as ever.
kind regards, Shirley

Anne said...

1300 followers is amazing Carol! Your blog is so inspirational for everyone! Your spring finish is darling and I love the little button wheels. Very creative! Lourenco's ornament is so sweet. He's a very lucky boy to have stitching and creations from around the world!! Your Hope finish is so darling as well. I just won the Love chart from Tricia at Miss Graceworks so I'll be starting that one soon. The virtues are a lovely series. The trip to Florida sounds amazing and a perfect place to soak in the sun and warmth after long winter months. The cookies look yummy and I think using old brandy is probably what makes them super yummy! We too don't have a lot of alcohol in the house, except for some peppermint schnapps to make hot cocoas with at Xmas time! Lovely little present from Gabi! Her finish is adorable. As for stitching new things, I'm always wanting to stitch everything I see. I need to make a list now to get myself focused!! Hugs to you!!

Michele said...

I enjoy your blogging regardless of how long it's been :) Your stitching/finishing is wonderful as always .. and what a great present from Gaby :)

The ocean pictures are to die for ... one of my favorite views in the world!

and having all your young men home .. what a treat! Mine live close, but I still enjoy time with them.


Kay said...

Such beautiful stitching as always!!! Sounds like you have had a lot of fun and spent a lot of good times with family in the weeks that have passed! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures. Have a great week!

Sally said...

It is always such a joy to pop by for a visit Carol. Your stitchingand finishing are so beautiful and your photos from your trip are wonderful.

Elia said...

Dear Carol
traveling so fantastic, the photos are delightful, almost dream was unable to be there ^ ^
your works are formidable,
you know that I never tire of telling you that I like your work!
They are adorable ^ ^

I let two awards on my blog, you all deserve it!

And thanks for those photos are endearing homey ... love them!

a big hug

Scattered Threads said...

Carol…I love your finishes. They are always fantastic and I am sure your friends love them twice as much too. Your Florida pictures look wonderful too, I really enjoy seeing them. I love most things seaside. Glad you had a nice Easter Dinner with your family and I will be making a note of the White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies for safe keeping:) Perhaps I could explore on one or two of them.
Your Easter surprise from Gabi is precious…nice finishes.
I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your finishes Carol and looking forward to seeing what else you have to share.
Take care,

Brigitte said...

Such lovely little Easter pillows that you show here. I love the one that you stitched and that I have never seen before. And also the one s your received from Gabi are so beautiful.

You seem to have had a very busy April, travelling, visiting family and having your own family home for The Easter holiday. Great pictures from Florida, makes me want to go to the seaside and enjoy all these pleasures there.