Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three small finishes

Hello, my friends! How was your September? I know it's a short month, but it seemed to whiz by faster than ever, didn't it? I can't even begin to tell you how absolutely perfect the weather has been for us here in western Pennsylvania since my last post two weeks ago... Sunshine, mid-70s, no humidity, cool nights--honestly, if I could find an area of the United States that offers that kind of weather day in and day out, I'd seriously consider moving. And you know what I've found? Everyone seems happier--everyone has a smile on their faces or a kind word to offer. Just yesterday a woman came over to me at the library's Reference Desk as I worked and whispered, "I just love this place." I smiled back at her and agreed, "I do, too!" And  last week, I had a patron tell me how nicely I interacted with other patrons. Neither of these people had to do that--they just wanted to pass along a compliment. Working with the public, I do try to go out of my way to be kind and patient with others who also work with the public: store clerks, waitresses, receptionists. Working with the public is tough--you just never know who you're going to be dealing with, but I've come to learn that you get back what you give and a smile and a kind word go a long, long way...

I've been catching up on my monthly ornament stitching lately and have two new Christmas finishes to share with you today. Surprise, surprise--they are both Prairie Schoolers! First up is a piece stitched from the  Prairie Schooler Mini-Card Collection E which comes with a variety of ten miniature Halloween, Christmas, and Easter designs. At a dollar a design (or less!), I think these little PS Mini-Card Collections are a great deal. This Santa is stitched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco. Doesn't he look like he's popping up out of the woods to try to scare someone. When I showed the finish to my husband, he asked, "What is  C X?" Ha-ha!! Well, I guess it does look a bit like those letters at the top of the piece, but I explained to him that those are supposed to be the moon and a large snowflake...

To finish him off into my September ornament, I used this fun black and red polka dot fabric and white cording and ric-rak. I thought the fabric fit particularly well with the whimsical nature of the design. What do you think? I did make a few color changes--made all the snowflakes, the moon, and Santa's mittens white, along with the lettering.

My October ornament is a more traditional Prairie Schooler Santa from book No. 48 "A Christmas Visit." This one is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle using the suggested DMC threads. The only change I made was to the teddy bear (my middle son says it looks like some sort of gremlin!) in the bag that he's carrying. I didn't stitch complete x's for his eyes and mouth--just small straight stitches. The ornament is backed with the pretty olive green and burgundy fabric shown on the right. The colors really pick up those of Santa's robe.

A more traditional stitching needs a more traditional finish so I simply added cording and a small gingham ribbon to this one. I'm very pleased with it...

Here is a closer look for you... I dream of stitching every single Prairie Schooler Santa some day. Do you think I can do it?

It's hard to believe I have only two ornaments left to stitch and finish to complete my monthly goal for 2014. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing them displayed on my Christmas tree in December!

I have one other thing to share with you today and that is a little RAK that I recently sent to my sweet friend, Annette, in The Netherlands. I really enjoy reading Annette's blog and seeing photos of her darling children--she is just so upbeat and lively! Her blog always makes me smile so I decided to stitch a little freebie from the Gazette 94 blog which you can find right here. I loved the border so much on this one with the  tiny fish, ice cream cones, kites, and beach huts--adorable!

This is actually stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle, but the above photo certainly doesn't show the true color! Below is a much better photo and you can see that I added some blue cording and a small seashell to the pillow to finish it off. Annette really loved it and I was so happy to hear that the gifts I sent to her children were also well-received.

I just noticed yesterday how much the leaves are beginning to change--all the glorious reds, oranges, and golds are beginning to paint a lovely canvas in these Pennsylvania hills. I've heard that the autumn foliage is supposed to be especially pretty this year due to our cooler than normal summer. (At least there was something good about that summer)! Our local turkey family happened to pass through the yard last week and I managed to get a quick photo--just look at how much the little ones are growing!

Here are the little guys back in July... Unfortunately, I only saw six baby ones and there were seven before. Poor little thing... I wonder what happened to him? I sure hope the family has a plan to go into hiding as Thanksgiving draws closer!

This deer decided to check out our patio and the new white bench we just added. I think he likes it; he looks quite "at home" standing right outside our kitchen door, doesn't he?

Well, I think this may be the shortest post I've written in a while--maybe more of you actually made it all the way through this one!  I know I tend to go on and on at times when all most of you are here for is to see my finishes, but I really enjoy sharing a bit of my world with you, too. Welcome to all my new followers and, as always, big thanks to those of you who take the time to leave me those wonderful comments--I so appreciate each and every one. 

I hope each of you has a lovely October--it's going to be a busy one for me with a mini family reunion in NY, a stitching retreat in Erie, and my best friend's son's wedding in Indiana. But, today I am off to the dermatologist to have her check out a very itchy spider bite that I got on my chest this weekend--it's always something with me and my weird medical issues lately, that's for sure... I may be a bit out-of-touch this month, but I'll do my best to visit your blogs and say "hello."  Bye for now...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Autumn creeps in...

Good morning, everyone! Can you believe September is half over? It certainly feels like autumn has arrived here in western Pennsylvania--I actually had to break down and turn on the heat yesterday as it was a frigid 40° when I woke up. Does anyone else feel ready for the cooler weather and then the inevitability of winter? Not me--after a cool, rainy summer, it just doesn't seem quite right! With fall comes more work for me as we are open once again on Sundays as well as Saturdays at the library and, this month, I somehow ended up working three of those weekend days. And you know what that translates into--less stitching time. 

As the days get shorter and the air crisps up,  my mind naturally turns to fall stitching--acorns, pumpkins, leaves, and all of those wonderfully muted colors that bring autumn to mind. I have a couple of new finishes to share today which I truly relished working on. First, is this Homespun Elegance design from an older chart called "Birds and Bees." I used the suggested DMC colors and stitched this one on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle. And surprise, surprise--see that sunflower center? It is filled with French knots--I did it!! I have always struggled with them, but they turned out so well this time--not sure what I was doing differently. The outside petals are simply long, yellow stitches and there are more French knots in the small yellow flowers, too. I have never seen such a tiny bird looking up at the giant crow (or is it an insect of some sort?). Anyway, I had a cute bee charm (is there such thing as a cute bee?) which I attached, too, and I'm very pleased with the overall look of the finish.

After digging through my drawers of fabrics, I found the perfect ones to finish this piece off. I really love the colors in this little pillow--perfect for a fall finish, don't you think?

Homespun Elegance "Birds & Bees" finish

So, I have a nice new addition to my crow themed display on my kitchen sideboard. I took this photo in a rare moment of morning sunshine which streamed through our window yesterday.

Crows have invaded my kitchen!

Does anyone notice another new addition to my crow display? Well, just look at this cute painted wooden bowl that I found earlier this summer. Isn't it perfect?! I was so excited--and it was a mere $3.99! It is small and only holds three of my little finishes, but it adds such a nice touch to the display (which my sons hate, by the way: "Crows??? Come on, mom!"). Oh well, each to his/her own--right?

My second finish was sent to my long-time blogging friend, Myra, for her upcoming birthday. I know she loves fall, so I thought this old Prairie Schooler design would be perfect for her. The "Crow and Pumpkin" design is from the PS "Acorns" booklet No. 65 and was stitched over one on 28 ct. summer khaki cashel linen with the suggested DMC threads. I did add more winding vines along the side to turn it into more of a round shape for the final finish.

To finish it off, I used one of the metal plates that I used for the patriotic piece that I showed you in this post, except this time I used a gold one. I just love how it turned out and Myra seemed very happy with it as well! I think I may have to stitch a second one of these for myself. I wish you the happiest of birthdays, Myra, and a happy, healthy year ahead!

Here is another shot of the whole thing...

Prairie Schooler "Crow and Pumpkin" finish

I continue to pull out older stitched pieces from my "drawer of unfinished finishes" and finish them off one-at-a-time. Look what I found from 2009! This tiny "Tulip Sampler" designed by Rosewood Manor. It is very small--only 2¾ X 3½ inches and was once a freebie on the Rosewood Manor website, but isn't available any longer. (That is why I always advise printing off freebies as soon as you see them (or saving them to your computer) because designers don't keep them up on their websites forever). I backed it with the pretty blue and gold fabric shown behind it and love how well it coordinates with the colors in the design. A simple blue cording finishes it off. Yay--another older stitching is out of storage and on display!

Rosewood Manor "Tulip Sampler" finish

As you all know, I am a Prairie Schooler lover from way back--but of the older designs. If I want to totally de-stress and feel complete relaxation, all I need to do is pull out a Prairie Schooler piece and start stitching. The simple, yet comforting designs just slow me down and seem to take away my worries--for at least a little while. Well, I was lucky enough to win one of the older Prairie Schooler designs, "Garden Beasties" in a wonderful giveaway from a newer blogger, Frances, at A Symphony of Stitches. Isn't it cute--I can't wait to stitch the little beehive in the upper left corner. And sweet Frances included a lovely supply of seasonal fabrics as an extra surprise. She knows I'll be using them--they are one of my favorite things to receive even though I have acquired a wonderful stash of finishing fabrics through the years. You can never have too much fabric, can you? If you haven't discovered Frances's lovely blog yet--please stop in and say "hello!" And, Frances--thank you again for your wonderful giveaway. I'm thrilled to add to my PS collection!

Giveaway win from Frances

You all remember our great garden disaster earlier this year--when that roving gang of neighborhood groundhogs invaded and ate everything in sight? We've had little to no produce this year because of it--not even one single zucchini! I actually had to go purchase a zucchini to make this new recipe that I found online--I haven't purchased a zucchini in my entire life, I don't think! But, oh, what a great recipe this is--Zucchini Brownies. I made them when two of my sons came for Sunday dinner and they were a big hit. It seems like a very odd recipe--the batter seems very dry when you spread it in the pan because there are no eggs. I thought there was no way these would turn out because the batter seemed so dry! But, apparently, the zucchini provides the moisture and these were just delightfully gooey and moist when we tried them. (And the chocolate frosting doesn't hurt either!)...

Zucchini Brownies--moist and delicious!

I hate to admit how many of these brownies I ate (just had to "even them up" in the pan, you know--do you do that?)... And this is the last thing I should be doing since my exercise time is still greatly diminished due to my heel pain from plantar fasciitis. My foot was doing pretty well until I went to the 8th annual Steel City Big Pour (on September 6th) which is a huge beer tasting event held in a large warehouse; yes a warehouse, with hard, cold concrete floors... Floors on which I stood for three hours and, afterward, could barely limp to my car. Will my foot ever get better? I know many of you have told me it can take up to a year and I'm only going on 4 months now, so I need to be patient. But, it's really getting hard--I love to exercise and to walk on my treadmill and am really missing it so much! 

You may ask what I was doing at a beer-tasting event when I don't even like the taste (or smell!) of beer? Well, my dear husband convinced me to be the "designated driver" for him, my brother-in-law, nephew, and one of my oldest son's friends. We met my older sons there and a few of my husband's bike-riding buddies and had a great time. But, what did I drink? Why some tasty homemade root beer, of course! And the food samples were incredible--many local restaurants and stores went out of their way to show us their best dishes and they didn't disappoint. If not for my heel pain, it would have been a great time all around!

In spite of most of our vegetables being eaten by the groundhog and the lack of sunshine and warmth this summer, we do have a few gourds and squash and some lovely flowers (along with a beautiful winged visitor or two) in our garden this fall. It is definitely nice to look out and still see some spots of color in the landscape because, soon enough, it will be covered with frost and then that inevitable blanket of snow. I've heard the winter forecast is calling for lots of snow and cold temperatures here in the northern states... Are you ready???? Sigh... Here we go again! 

 Autumn garden ~ 2014

And that wraps up another long post from me! I thank those of you who have stuck with me this far--and I truly appreciate all of your lovely comments and emails. I'm so thankful of your friendships and the support you have given "Stitching Dreams" through the years. You make me want to keep stitching and finishing and I'm always happy to hear from those of you who say my stitching posts have provided you with inspiration.  Enjoy your week, my friends! Bye for now...