Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hop to it!

Good morning, everyone! Well, I've procrastinated long enough--it's time to force myself to sit down and write a long-overdue post. Is it really the end of March already? For us Pennsylvanians, March hasn't been kind--we even had snow on the first day of Spring and I hear that we may be in for more of the white stuff tomorrow. There is nothing blooming or greening up and it is all getting rather depressing to be honest. So, in yet another attempt to hurry up Spring, I've been stitching one of my favorite Spring subjects: bunnies!

I've had this La D Da piece called "Briar Rabbit" in my stash for a long, long time, but, to be honest the photo on the leaflet (see below) scared me off a bit. It looked so dark and non-springlike to me that I kept pushing it aside for other pieces. But, I finally got up my nerve to try it on a lighter color linen than was suggested and I just love the result! I used 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads (although I had to change the bunny tail to Week's Dye Works "Taupe" so it would show up on the lighter fabric).

To finish him off into one of my little pillows, I first took a single thread of DMC 3858 and tied a wee bow around his neck. This wasn't charted, but I thought it made him look even sweeter. I then sewed a small pillow using the beautiful floral fabric shown in the background and a yellow bow on the side.

Briar Rabbit finish

And here is a close-up of the bunny and his burgundy bowtie--what a cutie!

The original La D Da chart looks like this...  What a difference the fabric you choose can make!

Another bunny hopped into my life this month in the form of this adorable design that can be found in the April 2015 issue of "Just Cross Stitch Magazine". It is called "Primrose Maiden" and is designed by The Little Stitcher (whose designs I just love!). This looks very different from the photo in the magazine, though, as I changed all of the orange colors to blues... It is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with DMC threads (if anyone wants the color changes that I made, just email me). 

For this finish, I used some complementary blue and golden-yellow fabrics and ric rac and added a small accent square featuring one of the stitched white flowers in the lower right. At the corner where the ric rac intersects, I placed a white button topped with a cut of blue and white gingham ribbon. I'm so pleased with how it turned out! 

Primrose Maiden finish

I also finished my second Prairie Schooler Santa that I am doing in my Sunday SAL with Melissa in Canada and Hilda in Austria. This handsome guy caring for his feathered friends is from the "Kris Kringle" chart (Book No. 62). He is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with most of the suggested DMC threads (I did substitute DMC 520 for 3362, though, as it just wasn't showing up well).  I will have to set a date and get busy on finishing these Santas into ornaments as I really don't want to leave them all until December...

Prairie Schooler Santa Kris Kringle (Book No. 62)

I also received a very special gift that I'd like to show you which was sent by one of my blog readers and friends, Sylvia (no blog) from New Mexico. Sylvia  had read this post that I shared with you about the special meaning that cardinals have held for me since Dad died and asked me if I would like a copy of an old book she owned called The Song of the Cardinal by Gene Stratton Porter. Old book? Cardinal? Why, yes--I would love to receive it! I was so very touched when I opened her package to find not only the beautiful old book, but the most lovely and lovingly stitched cardinal ornament. Isn't it a beauty? It brought tears to my eyes that Sylvia would make this for me--I wish you could see it as it is even prettier in person. And she included some cardinal and Pennsylvania stickers and a pretty snowflake bookmark all wrapped up in cardinal-red tissue paper. Absolutely gorgeous!

Here is a better look at the sweet ornament and the title page of the old book. I will treasure them both, Sylvia, my friend--your generous spirit truly touched my heart... Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A special cardinal gift from Sylvia!

March has been a very noisy month around here! We have workmen putting a new floor in our garage attic and all that pounding and sawing isn't exactly conducive to relaxing with my stitching. I can't just seem to sit and relax while they're here so reading, stitching, and watching television are all out. Instead, I've been cleaning out drawers and sorting through things that should have been discarded long ago. I can't even tell you the number of bags of "stuff" we've sent on to thrift shops.  What a great feeling it is to organize your life! I've also been sprucing up the house for spring a bit. I'm just loving my new corner cupboard in the kitchen--it is such fun to decorate for the seasons!

I've tucked a few cross stitch pieces onto each shelf... The top shelf houses my newest pillow and three of my Dedham Pottery reproduction bunny ceramics. I've been collecting Dedham Pottery bunnies through Ebay auctions for a number of years now and currently have almost 50 of the blue and white pieces here in my kitchen.

The middle shelf has a vintage yellow bird that I found up in the attic which I think came from my mother-in-law many years ago. He looks quite cheerful sitting there with a bird print, some cross-stitching, and an old lace doily.

And the bottom shelf  has a larger Dedham pottery bunny, a tiny Spring pillow, and a yellow flower pot filled with dried baby's breath left over from my husband's Valentine's Day flowers last month.

I've created so many bunny / spring cross-stitched pieces over the past six years that they are flowing out of my wooden bowl so I had to come up with additional ways to display them. I put together this spring-time vignette on the sideboard of my kitchen that I'm so pleased with. I used to collect tiny bunny ceramic figurines when my sons were young and you can see some of them on top of the cake plate (which was a wedding gift nearly 38 years ago!). The opened book behind the candle is about--what else--bunnies! That bunny sampler tucked into the back corner is from an early "Just Cross Stitch" magazine; according to the date on the back, I stitched it in 1993!

The bunnies are taking over!

We celebrated my oldest son's 33rd birthday on Sunday with these yummy brownies that he found online and wanted me to bake for him. They were  gooey and scrumptious (and just "a bit" decadent!). You can find the recipe for these Chunky Cheesecake Brownies right here. The only change I made was to put half the amount of chocolate chips in the cream cheese layer as was recommended by other bakers. Unfortunately, my son had a terrible cold so he couldn't even taste his birthday treat--I'll have to make them again very soon.

Chunky Cheesecake Brownies

I hope that the next time I post, there will be warm breezes and spring flowers starting to pop up around here! That may be wishful thinking, but winter can't last forever, can it? Until then, I hope you know how much your comments, emails, and friendships mean to me--stitchers are the best!! Do you have any special plans for the weekend? I'm so looking forward to tomorrow as my youngest son will be visiting for three days and we haven't seen him since Christmas. Time to spoil him with his favorites: pot roast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and homemade cookies... Comfort food! Bye for now...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A sweet finish!

Happy March, my stitching friends! Are you all anticipating the advent of spring in just a few weeks as much as I am? Looking around outside my home, it seems that we have a long way to go until the days of green grass, blue skies, and chirping birds appear. We got another six inches of snow on Sunday--heavy, wet snow, I might add. And, wouldn't you know, my husband was away on a ski trip in Colorado so guess who got to shovel our long driveway by herself? Yep... little, old me--and my aching arms are still letting me know that they didn't appreciate those hours of lifting, throwing, and pushing the white stuff! It's snowing as I write this and we are due to get another four inches today-sigh... Oh, well, I shouldn't complain about the weather as I know we've had it so much easier than those of you in the New England states. It was a cold, cold February (the second coldest on record for our area), but winter still hasn't bothered me as much this year as it did last...

So, what did I do while my husband was off enjoying the ski slopes in Colorado? Why I stitched, of course, all snuggled up under my fluffy red-plaid blanket while watching old movies. Is there any better way to spend your time on these cold winter days?

What do you get when you stitch a beautiful pink and white wedding cake...

Add some dark chocolate mini-cakes (with fluffy, white frosting, and pink rosebuds)...

And some tasty muffins sprinkled with raisins...

Add a crusty loaf of warm bread (displayed under a lovely chandelier)...

And two delicate pink cakes iced in white...

And don't forget the cherry pies and dark chocolate cake bedecked with a pink blossom...

I'm sure you've figured it out, by now! Combine all those tasty goodies and you get...

 The Bakery!

Isn't it pretty? This is a bit of an unusual finish for me... I'm not a "pink" girl by any means--never have been, never will be. I'm not into beads or sparkles or frilly dresses. But, I was so tired of winter that I searched through my stash and pulled out the first thing that I came to that made me happy--this old Country Cottage Needleworks chart (from 2005!). It was bright and cheery and somehow--comforting. I just love the lacy edging on the shelves and the black and white checked tablecloth--and I wonder what is in that "pretty in pink" package nestled underneath the wedding cake? Most of you know that I love to bake; in fact creating sweet treats is probably my favorite hobby after stitching and reading!

As much as I loved stitching "The Bakery," it was quite deceiving! I had no idea it would take me so long to finish this one up... Each little motif seemed to take forever for some reason. This one is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle linen with most of the suggested colors, but there were a few changes along the way. The main color change was to the gray in the cake stands and chandelier--the suggested color was just not showing up on the fabric, so I went with DMC 647. The darker brown is Crescent Colors Cocoa Bean--another big change. And for the lighter green I had to use DMC 3052 as the suggested Dandelion Stem wasn't showing up either.

So, what do I plan to do with this finish? Well, at some point, I hope to stitch it's companion piece The Flower Shop and then frame each of them in black frames to hang in my kitchen.  I am SO BAD at getting my larger pieces framed. I have no trouble finishing up my smalls as I stitch them, but I just procrastinate when it comes to framing. Do any of you have that problem, too? I got tired of stuffing my larger pieces into drawers and forgetting about them so I saw an idea on the 123 Stitch Message Board last month which I loved. I purchased an 11" x 14" "Itoya Art Profolio" from Amazon for just a bit over $15.00. It is archival safe and 100% acid free and most of my "larger" finishes fit in it quite nicely and enable me to easily flip through it easily and admire them.

Here are a few photos of the portfolio itself and some of my finishes stored inside. I highly recommend this storage method and I truly think (hope!)  it will inspire me to frame more of my finishes.

My new storage system for my larger stitched finishes

I now have about half of the pages filled with
waiting to be framed finishes--embarrassing!

Why, oh why, haven't I framed these lovely Thanksgiving pieces yet?

Here you see my newest finish patiently 
waiting to be framed and hung on the wall.

My Prairie Schooler Santa Sundays SAL with Melissa and Hilda is going well and I finished up my first Santa. May I present this handsome blue-suited fellow...

This Santa (from Prairie Schooler's "Old World Santas II") was stitched on 32 ct. flax Belfast using DMC threads. I made a few changes (of course!)--the main one being the color of blue. I used DMC 3764 so it would look more like the color on the front of the chart. I also substituted a string of holly for the charted doll and stocking in Santa's left hand and stitched the border in blue. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to finish this one up yet, but I'm so pleased with how he turned out... On to a new Santa for March!

So, what's up next? Well, Spring means rabbits and you all know how much I love stitching bunnies! Here is a sneak peak of what I'm working on right now. Does anyone have a guess as to what design this is?

Belated Birthday Gift... A lovely packaged appeared on my doorstep last week from my dear friend, Mary. She stitched me this darling JBW pillow and finished it so beautifully. I loved the sentiment on it: "Within your heart, keep one secret place where dreams my go." It is just adorable and Mary also added some finishing goodies, a few magnetic bookmarks, and a box of one of my favorite candies (which, by the way is actually empty in the photo as I was a complete piggy and devoured the contents all by myself!!). Thank you, my friend--I will treasure your beautiful gifts!

Birthday gifts from Mary

Valentine's Day gift... I was so surprised to receive this cute Valentine's themed gift from my sweet friend in Germany, Gabi (no blog). Isn't it cute! Perfect for any stitcher with the little bobbin wound with a thread of hearts... Thank you, dear Gabi--I will think of you each time I display it on Valentine's Day!

Valentine's gift from Gabi

More baking... I wanted to make my husband and sons a little treat for Valentine's Day last month, but didn't want to go out in the cold weather to shop for ingredients. So, I simply made these heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies--simple and so tasty. They are even better warmed up, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and smothered in chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and toasted pecans--amazing! Here is the recipe if you care to make some for your next Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Cookie Hearts

Email problem! If you are a Yahoo or AOL email user, your comments are not coming through to my gmail account. This just recently became a problem and you can read more about it in this informative post: Yahoo and AOL email user problem. Luckily, they do appear under my blog comments, but they don't come to my email box. It appears to be a problem with gmail thinking this is spam (although, they are not even appearing in my spam folder!). So, this is causing problems for me when you ask questions as there is no way I can reply to you unless I try to track down your email address, which I honestly don't have the time for. It would help--so much--if you Yahoo or AOL users would leave your email address right in your comments if you have a question that you would like me to answer. Or you can always email me directly (my email address is in my "A Bit About Me" profile in my sidebar). 

Well, I've gone on long enough for today, but I can't leave without thanking you for all of your wonderful comments that you left on my last post... I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about "my" cardinal and I loved hearing from you about your own experiences with cardinals (and British robins!). Welcome to each of you who is new to "Stitching Dreams"--I look forward to getting to know you and visiting your blogs, too. Okay, have to run--it's hair cut and color day here and I have to leave a bit early due to the fact that it's snowing once again... Think spring everyone! Bye for now...