Monday, June 30, 2014

Red, White, and Blue

Another year is half-over! Can you believe it? Six months...six whole months of 2014 have already flown past. Unfortunately, our June has been quite rainy and just hasn't felt much like summer. I remember the Junes of my childhood being hot and dry and even smelling like summer--the freshly mown grass, the chlorine in the swimming pool, the delightful scent of mom's sweet peas wafting in as I walked through our back door. And how about the fragrance of those freshly laundered bed sheets dried on a clothesline in the back yard! Ahhh... I want a summer like that again! Of course, we all tend to glorify the "good old days" from time to time. There were also the bee stings, the sunburned cheeks, and the scraped knees from falling off bikes or roller-skates or swings, weren't there?

One thing that always says "summer" to me, though, is the 4th of July. Although I'm not a big fireworks fan, I do love the red, white, and blue fever that sweeps the country this time of year. I truly enjoy patriotic stitching--almost as much as I do stitching Christmas ornaments! This year, I'm adding four new finishes to my bowl of patriotic smalls. First up is one by a new-to-me designer, "Freedom Crow" by Primitive Stitchin'. I stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. Stormy Gray Jobelan and a variety of DMC and GAST threads. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly how I wanted to finish it off.

"Freedom Crow" design by Primitive Stitchin'

I had purchased these 4" round metal decorative hanging "things" (plates? discs?)  from a local craft store last winter with the intent of using them for Christmas ornament finishing. But, the size and shape of this finish was just perfect for a patriotic piece--especially with the cutout stars that surround the perimeter.

I simply finished it into a round 2-inch shape, glued it to the center, added some DMC 221 cording, made a new hanger out of some homespun, and voilà!

And here it is in its new home hanging from a wooden shelf by my kitchen door... I am so pleased with the way this one turned out and I'm happy to have found a new designer, too. I purchased the pattern through Pattern Mart, which made for an instant download!  It's a great way to buy charts when you don't want to wait for mail delivery--immediate gratification!

My next finish is a freebie from The Nebby Needle which you can find right here. If you look at the photo of the model you'll notice that mine looks very different because I stitched it on black. I used 28 ct. black Monaco and stitched it "over one" with GAST (Picket Fence and Wheat Fields), and WDW (Brick and Dungarees) threads. Don't you love those tiny American flags in each corner? Make sure to extend the border if you add little stars as I did...

The Nebby Needle "God Bless America" freebie

To finish it off, I made a flat ornament (without a hanger) while following Vonna's excellent tutorial. This cute American flag printed fabric and some handmade DMC 221 (I use that color more than any other, I think!) finished it off so well. How do you like it? Thanks so much to Bonny of The Nebby Needle for sharing her cute freebies with us!

This cute new freebie from The Stitcherhood just came out last week. You can find the chart here. This one stitched up very quickly--just a few hours... I used DMC 221, 311, and 680 (for the July 4 portion) on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle linen.

The Stitcherhood 4th of July freebie

The finish is a simple, little pillow using the colors of the design in the finishing fabrics. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful  Stitcherhood freebies, Maria! I know I'll be stitching more of them very soon...

And, finally, a teeny tiny finish that started off as something totally different. I found this very old chart called "Patriotic Stocking Stuffers" by Need'l Love and thought the Uncle Sam stocking would be a perfect addition to my patriotic bowl of finishes. Well, the problem is--I stitched it on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle which made it way, way too small to turn into a stocking as there was no way to turn it inside out once you had stitched it to the backing fabric! Hmm... what to do? Well, I simply eliminated all but the main motif, extended the border down both sides, repeated the top border, and added a bunch of smyrna stitches in the background for color.

A teeny Uncle Sam finish

He is very tiny--just an inch wide by 2 1/2 inches long so I added fabric, blue mini ric-rac, and a fabric yo-yo topped off with a star to beef him up a bit. He is backed by the gold and burgundy star fabric shown in the background. I love the final look of the little pillow so much!

And here is a photo of all four of my new patriotic creations. Which one is your favorite? I have to vote for the Freedom Crow, but the teeny Uncle Sam is a close second!

My bowl of red, white, and blue finishes is starting to overflow so I have moved a few of them to other places in my home. But, here you can see all of them in one photo...

All of these were stitched and finished over the past five years. Can you believe that before I began my blog in 2009, I didn't have a single patriotic finish? I love them so much and wish I could keep them on display even longer, but the fact that they are seasonal makes them that much more special when I bring them out each summer. Here is one last picture that you should be able to click to make larger so you can see them better.

I received a special package from my blogging friend, Robin (no blog yet!), who wanted to thank me for sharing an old PS chart with her. I was so touched by her generosity and told her nothing at all is expected when I lend a chart or send a Random Act of Kindness to someone... Truly! But, her gifts were so wonderful, I wanted to share them with you here. She sent a beautiful chart, a lovely blue stitching pocket which included a packet of needles and a new pair of scissors, and a cute ort container. Didn't she spoil me? Thank you so much, Robin--I am thrilled with my goodies!

Gifts from Robin

Blueberry baking is still going on here and last week I made some wonderful Blueberry Banana Bread. Oh, it was really tasty--so moist and delicious. And, it freezes well--always a plus in my book! I know some of you told me you made the Blueberry Buckle from my last post--did you enjoy it?

Blueberry Banana Bread

I really appreciate all the well-wishes for my heel problems that I mentioned in my last post. The Plantar Fasciitis keeps acting up, but it is not unbearable. I'll have a really good day here and there, a really painful day now and then, and in between it is just bothersome. I'm really babying it and have tried to incorporate other exercises into my workout routine rather than the treadmill. I've been riding the exercise bike a bit and lifting my light weights which I'm actually enjoying. The strange thing is that even with the drop-off in my treadmill routine, I've actually lost a pound--strange, eh? I think it is because I'm just not as hungry these days. Either that or I'm losing muscle weight?

Anyway, I am just hoping my foot will be all better before we go to visit our youngest son in Washington, DC next week. For any of you who have been there, you know what a lot of walking is involved! I'm hoping to talk him into spending a day in Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. Have any of you ever been there? Any advice as to what to do or see, places to eat, etc? I'd really appreciate your thoughts!

Well, my friends, I hope you've enjoyed this red-white-and-blue post. I doubt that it holds much interest for those of you outside the United States, but I thank you for bearing with me. Do any of you have special plans for the long weekend? My husband will be returning from a 400+ mile bike ride in Montana and Canada on the 4th of July so I'll be planning a nice picnic with a tasty dessert for his homecoming. And then this weekend we hope to head up to Ohio for a pool party with my brother-in-law and his family assuming the weather cooperates. I hope your holiday is fun and relaxing--be careful around those fireworks!

Thanks for stopping by and for your always welcome and appreciated comments! Bye for now...

I wish all of my U.S. friends
 a happy and safe 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Farewell to Spring...

And a hearty "Good Morning" to you my stitching friends! Can you believe we have reached the very last week of Spring? And a chilly spring it's been--I'm a bit tired of wearing sweaters or my fuzzy bathrobe each morning when I get up. Why, we even had to turn our heat on again last week for a couple of mornings--I don't ever remember having to do that in June. But, with summer arriving on Saturday, June 21st at precisely 6:51 A.M, I'm confident that we'll have many more of those warm, lazy sunshine filled days that we all look forward to. Today it's supposed to reach 91° here in western Pennsylvania with an equally high humidity. I can take the heat, it's the humidity which really wears me out.

With this still being spring, though, I do have a few final spring finishes to share with you. But, first of all I want to thank you all so very much for the kind comments on my last post and your heartfelt congratulations on the magazine article. You are all such wonderful and supportive friends! I want to send a special thank you to Sherri from Maryland who bought not one, but two copies of the magazine and sent me one so I could have my very own copy... Sherri, that was so thoughtful of you and I know I'll enjoy sharing it with my family and friends. Thank you so much!

Well, enough of my babbling--you're here to see a few finishes, right? I actually stitched all three of these spring designs back in April, but am just now getting around to finishing them. First up is the Spring portion of the "Four Seasons Band Sampler" featured in the March/April 2011 issue of "Just Cross Stitch Magazine." When I saw the main colors were blue and golden yellow I just knew I had to stitch it. (And the fact that it had two bunnies didn't hurt either!)

Of course, I had to change a couple of the colors to work better with the 40 ct. flax Newcastle fabric that I chose. I used DMC 3790 on the bunnies and 3052 on the leaves. I also added the word "SPRING" (from this free alphabet) to the top of the design since my goal is to create a bowl of Spring finishes in the future. This one is finished off with the solid blue fabric (from a cloth napkin) and a pretty blue ruched satin ribbon. I love the dimension the eyelet stitches in the butterflies wings and the satin stitched flowers add to this design.

Next up is a little freebie from Cosmic Handmade called "Carrot Patch" which you can find right here. I've had this chart in my stash forever it seems and thought it was high time I stitched it. This one is done over one on 28 ct. cream Cashel Linen using the following DMC threads:  3776, 3052, 3053, 712, 676, and 3790. I gave the bunny a tail full of colonial knots and accented the pale green polka-dot finish with a little fabric yo-yo. What do you think?

Carrot Patch freebie

And finally, a finish you've seen on my blog many times, but since I've given them all away--I'm finally keeping this one for myself--hooray!! You'll all recognize this old spring freebie from Prairie Schooler. It is stitched on 32 ct. antique white Lugana with the suggested DMC threads. After having stitched this one at least five times, I do believe I could do it my sleep, but I love it so much, I never get tired of stitching it...  That pretty sage green fabric in the background is used on the reverse side along with the handmade cording to finish it off... I imagine I'll be making this one again and using it in another giveaway some day!

Prairie Schooler "S Is For Spring"

Here are all three together--a nice start to a bowl full of spring finishes, wouldn't you say?

A trio of Spring finishes

My dear friend, June, in England, had a birthday last week so I wanted to make her a gift in honor of her special day. As many of you know, June loves to garden so I thought this charming umbrella-toting bunny admiring his beautiful spring posies would be perfect for her. This is just the bottom third of "Spring Sampler" (Prairie Schooler's Book No. 60) and is stitched on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads (although I changed the bunny to DMC 611). June seemed to love her gift and I hope she thinks of me each time she sees it!

Prairie Schooler gift for June

And, just look at what I received all the way from The Netherlands... Sweet Annette sent me some darling crocheted pieces to add to my monthly bowl display. For my bowl of April's rabbit finishes, she created a tiny white bunny with a little blue nose, and for my bowl of sunflower finishes (which I decorate with each August), she made a trio of beautifully crocheted sunflowers. Included in her package were six bars of genuine Dutch chocolate--yum!! Only three are left, Annette--it was delicious! Thank you so much, my friend--your RAK gifts were such a treat and I have so enjoyed getting to know you through your happy, up-beat posts!

RAK from Annette!

And, because it's June--you know what that means?! It's BLUEBERRY TIME!!! I love all summer fruits, but especially blueberries. I put them on my multi-grain Cheerios each morning, make desserts, breads and muffins with them, and even freeze them to use throughout the year. They make me smile :) 

As a little treat I found this tasty recipe for Blueberry Buckle which I made last week. It sure didn't last long even with just two of us in the house. I found myself eating it for breakfast, as a mid-afternoon snack, and as a semi-healthy dessert! Very easy to make and it was one of those dishes that tasted even better on the second day.

Dessert anyone?

Unfortunately, desserts like this are the last thing I should be eating because my normal 3-mile a day walking routine has been interrupted. Yes, I have developed Plantar Fasciitis in my left heel. It was my own fault--I wore some old worn-out sneakers when I took a long walk last month and the next morning I could barely hobble out of bed. It is slowly getting better and I've been good about doing my at-home exercises, but, boy, is it bothersome. Have any of you every had it? Mine isn't bad enough to have to wear a night-splint on the foot--yet, anyway--and I'm trying to keep it that way! Moral of the story--wear good-quality sneakers (tennis shoes, whatever you call them!) and change them after every three to six months depending on how often you walk or run. I should probably have been buying new ones after four or five months, but I think I've had this old pair for two years! Bad, bad Carol!! Needless to say, I have now bought a new pair of walking shoes and plan on replacing them at least by year's end...

Although it's been a cool spring here, our lavender and white  clematis bush was the best it's ever been. My middle son gave it to me for Mother's Day a few years back and it's grown and bloomed so beautifully ever since. We lost both of our other clematis bushes to the frigid winter so I'm thrilled that this beauty survived.

Thank you all for stopping by today--I know what a busy time of year this is so I appreciate your visit and your kind comments all the more! Hope you have a delightful start to your summer on Saturday and I'll be back with some patriotic stitching soon... Bye for now...