Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Miles, Moons, and Memories

Whew--it's been a while, hasn't it? I so appreciate the thoughtfulness of those of you who have emailed me to see if everything was okay. I'm happy to say that I'm just fine--I've just experienced one of the busiest months of my life! I am so looking forward to November even though it means preparing a Thanksgiving feast for 18--at least I'll be at home in my own bed each night!

My family and I put over 1500 miles on our car driving to and from our mini family reunion, my stitching retreat, and a family friend's wedding over the past four weeks. I drove to the first two events myself, but my husband drove to the wedding last weekend, thank goodness. I'll give you a recap of my journeys starting with the shortest trip first...

258 miles round trip ~ Destination: Our 5th annual stitching retreat! It's hard to believe that Barb, Lee, Linda, Pam, and I have now been meeting up for 5 straight years at The Grape Arbor Bed and Breakfast! Three wonderful days of stitching, chatting, laughing, and way-too-much eating. Honestly, those breakfasts could feed a couple of hungry football players, but, oh, were they tasty. As has been tradition, we decided to give each other a little something to remember our annual retreat. There are no rules--it doesn't have to be a stitched gift or even a homemade gift--just something that will remind us of each other.  

This year, I stitched them each a Drawn Thread design called "Full Moon." I just loved the design--it is perfect for fall without being too Halloweeny or "cutesy." I stitched the design on 40 ct. natural Newcastle using most of the specified Dinky Dyes silks. I did change the tails on the bats--shortened them up a bit. The spider's body is a wee black button--so cute!

I loved the black boxes that the designer used to finish her model so I immediately called the Silver Needle and they sent them to me in no time--great service! The finishing was so easy--I simply gathered and laced them into a round shape over a padded piece of round mounting board. Each one only took about half an hour to finish into the boxes (if only the stitching time was as quick!).  Here they are all finished up--aren't they darling? Oh, but wait, there are five boxes, aren't there? Yes, the first one that I stitched (shown in the middle), I  made a mistake on the moon and rather than rip it all out, I decided to just make do and keep it for myself. I used a 32 ct. fabric for that one with two threads rather than the one thread for 40 ct. so it looks larger than the others. On that one you can see the longer bat tails, too, before I decided to shorten them. I should say bat "bodies," I guess--bats don't really have tails after all, do they!?

The Drawn Thread's "Full Moon" boxes

Everyone seemed very pleased with the black velvet-lined boxes (which I filled with Godiva chocolates!) and I love knowing my friends will be able to display them each fall for years to come. So what goodies did I receive from my friends at our retreat? Well, just take a look...

Pam went with a cookie-themed gift for us so, of course, I loved it! She stitched a darling peanut butter kiss cookie ornament, added some homemade cookies (which were eaten by the time I took the photo), included some Hershey kisses and a darling pot holder, and even made her own vanilla extract!! I never even knew you could make your own, but I know I'll be trying it out on the dozens of cookies I'll be baking for Thanksgiving.  Thanks so much, Pam!

Lee made us each a little paper pieced pincushion in fall colors. Isn't it cute? She also included a pretty notepad with a "grape" theme since we call ourselves the Grape Arbor Stitchers and a bag of candy. Hmmm... I'm sensing a candy theme here! Yes, we do love our sweets... Thank you so much, Lee!

Barb included some overdyed threads, a new kitchen towel, some lovely smelling Ginger Peach hand lotion, and, yes, more chocolate candy in her gift bag. I just love the colors of thread she chose for us--Jack O'Lantern and Buckeye Scarlet because she hails from Ohio, the Buckeye State. Thanks so much, Barb!

Linda spoiled us by gifting each of us with one of Faye's handmade project rolls. I'm sure you can imagine the "oohs" and "ahs" as we each unwrapped our very own beautifully made project roll in colors specially chosen by Linda. She knows me well as she requested blues and yellows for me and this is what I received--just perfect!! I adore this fabric and know I'll be putting this to good use when I stitch a larger piece.Thank you so much, Linda!

582 miles roundtrip ~ Destination: My mini family reunion in the Finger Lakes area of New York State! Sixteen of us gathered in early October together to laugh, feast, and share our memories from long ago. My 89 year old uncle flew in from Wisconsin and it truly touched me to see him and his little sister (my 87 year old mom) reminiscing and smiling together. I saw a cousin whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years (since our grandmother died) and got to meet her husband and son for the first time ever! My uncle is saying that this will be his last trip east, but we sincerely hope not. He is still so "young at heart" and full of vitality that we hope there may just be another reunion next fall...

While there, I stumbled upon this lovely display of quilts in my mother's senior living building. They have a special room for displays of collections from the residents or from outside groups. October's display just happened to be quilts from a Canandaigua, NY quilting group... Aren't they beautiful? I know many of you also quilt and I truly hope to learn to myself when I retire so I thought you might enjoy these photos.

And here is a collage of some of my favorites (you can click the photo for a closer look)... I especially liked the one one in the lower left corner. The woven fabric basket had a 3-D effect and was filled with Spanish moss and the appliqued flowers were "growing" out of it--so striking!

My sister, cousin, and I visited a couple of local antiques shops while in New York and I spotted this cute little box made of rulers. I seriously doubt if it's an antique, but I just had to have it--and for $5.00 I thought the price was right. 

 At first I thought I would use it to store buttons or charms, but then look what I decided on... my sewing bobbins! I think this would be something you could easily make yourself, don't you?

720 miles roundtrip ~ Destination: A special family friend's wedding in Indiana. And where was the wedding of my best friend's youngest son held? Why, in one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the United States: the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. I was only able to capture a few images to share with you, but I think you'll see for yourself how breathtaking it was. Of course, I teared up as the bride walked down the aisle. Do you cry at weddings? I always do--the bride and groom are so full of hope and so in love on their special day. The weather couldn't have been more perfect with a brilliant blue, cloudless sky, filled with good-luck lady bugs on a surprisingly warm end-of-October day. What a great start to married life!

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame

COOKIES, COOKIES, COOKIES!  I was so happy to see that the groom's family had brought the southwestern Pennsylvania tradition of the "cookie table" to this Indiana wedding. You can click here and here to read more about the wonderful cookie table tradition. I had never heard of a cookie table before I moved to Pennsylvania from New York State 37 years ago, but I just love the idea. The families of the bride and groom lay out long tables of home-baked cookies  for guests to not only partake of at the wedding, but also to take home by the dozen in boxes or bags. Just look at all the work that went into the cookie table at the wedding... The long tables were piled high with every type of cookie you could imagine so, of course, I had to take samples of each one! This is not the main dessert, there is still a wedding cake, but I so love the cookie table tradition. Do any of you have these at weddings in your locales? I know if I'm ever lucky enough to be a mother of the groom, I'll be crossing my fingers that a cookie table will be a part of the wedding reception...

Cookies galore--which would you choose?

A Halloween Finish: One thing that was good about the miles we spent driving to and from Indiana--I managed to stitch a little Halloween piece. This is from Mary Garry's Sewing Cabin's "Seasonal Mementos" leaflet. I've been wanting this chart for so, so long, and finally snagged it on Ebay for $5.50 last month. The little witch is stitched on 32 ct. bay leaf Belfast linen using the suggested colors. I had to change the alphabet around a bit as I stitched the large pumpkin in the wrong place, but it looks fine to me... I hope to finish this into a little pillow or hanging ornament this weekend. I just love the little witch (she is a good witch--I made sure to put a smile on her face :)

 Mary Garry's Sewing Room "Seasonal Memories" witch

I'll leave you with this vintage Halloween photo from circa 1964. I'm guessing I'm about 9 years old and dressed as a gypsy and my little brother is a gorilla. It looks like a cold, cold Halloween night as I'm padded from head to toe with warmer clothes underneath my costume (I didn't go through my "chubby phase" until a couple of years later!). Do you remember those horrid plastic masks? Ugh! How sweaty and smelly they got by night's end... And notice the "witch" Barbie complete with black mask and pointy hat that my mom made for me standing between the two pumpkins. It's all those little things that moms do that we don't truly appreciate until we're older. Thank you, mom--you were, and are, the best!

 Halloween circa 1964

Unfortunately, we're supposed to have an equally chilly, rainy night here for Halloween trick-or-treating--a shame as we've had such a lovely autumn up to now. But, I so look forward to seeing the neighborhood kids and their parents as they stop by at our front door to collect their goodies.  Happy Halloween!! Bye for now...