Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thank you--one and all!

And suddenly, here we are on this very last day of the year 2016! It seems as if I only blinked and twelve months have passed... Thankfully, 2016 was a wonderful year for my family and I can look back with mainly smiles. Oh, every year has its share of sadness and loss; its disappointments and its "I wish I could do that over" moments, but I can't complain...  Each of you who reads Stitching Dreams, whether you know it or not, has been a big part of my life this past year.  Through your sweet comments, your specially stitched gifts, or your emails simply thanking me for my blog, you've made me feel special and I truly appreciate each one of my stitching friends! 

I haven't been stitching much since before Christmas, but I wanted to share with you today the wonderful  gifts I was blessed with from stitching buddies around the world.  I'll share them in the order I received them...

From June in England came a cheery ornament with the cutest pompom trim, some fabric, ribbons, a PS mini-chart, and some chocolates.
Christmas gifts from June

From Lois in Northern Ireland came a lovely PS Strawberry ornament, some ribbons, mints, post-it notes, a new Christmas chart, and a sweet drawstring bag.
Christmas gifts from Lois

From Cindy in Tennessee came a darling Friendship ornament, a beautiful project roll made by Faye, a sweet gingerbread man, a snowman ornament and some pretty guest towels.
Christmas gifts from Cindy

From Myra in North Carolina came two beautifully sewn pillowcases, a bobbin nest to corral my ever-increasing number of bobbins, some pretty fabric squares and the cutest cross-stitched themed coasters!
Christmas gifts from Myra

From Gabi in Germany came not one, but, two sweet ornaments on two of my favorite subjects: cardinals and cheery snowmen.
Christmas gifts from Gabi

From Robin in Virginia came a darling snowman ornament to add to my collection, a whimsical rabbit pillow in my favorite colors of blue and yellow, and two Moda charm packs to aid in my future finishing endeavors.
Christmas gifts from Robin

From Nathalie in France came a pretty striped wool scarf, some DMC  floss, a Christmas decoration and hearts, and some tasty white chocolate.

Christmas gifts from Nathalie

From Lynda in England came a sweet "Welcome Christmas" ornament with the cutest button/charms, some fabrics, a multitude of cotton threads, some lip balm and the cutest box of shortbread biscuits.
Christmas gifts from Lynda

What did I do to deserve such spoiling? Thank you all so much! I still shake my head in awe that I've "met" so many special stitchers through my blog. I feel truly blessed to have made such caring friends...

So, what lies ahead in 2017? I am not one to make stitching plans as I have to be in the right mood to stitch different things. I admire those of you who meticulously plan ahead and have lists and kitted-up projects that would last you for years. I have trouble juggling more than one project at a time for some reason; if I leave a project, I just can't muster up the interest in it when I try to return to it... That being said, I do hope to finish the With Thy Needle and Thread "Birds Of a Feather" sampler that I've had on the back burner for way too long.

So, my friends, I do hope 2017 brings you much good health and happiness. I so love the peacefulness of January and even enjoy the cold and snowy weather as it offers me more time to sit and stitch or read. It will be interesting to see what this year brings, but I'm so glad that I have you blogging friends to help inspire me, teach me, and enable me! Thank you all... bye for now! 

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Parade Of Ornaments!

Happy First Day of Winter, my stitching friends! As we inch ever closer to Christmas morning (is it really happening in just four days?!), I couldn't let this week go by without my annual Parade of Ornaments... This is the seventh year of doing my "Ornament a Month" stitching and I like to do one post at the end of each year devoted to the twelve little "newbies" on  my tree. If any of you are new readers and would enjoy looking at past years, simply click on the year and you'll find my finishes from 2010-2015:  2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. I like to display my ornaments from the current year on a garland on my front stair bannister. It's hard to get a decent picture as it is in a hallway with limited natural light, but I promise to give you close-ups at the end.

So, are you ready? Cue the music and let the 2016 parade begin... Look at all of those chubby grinning snowmen marching down the stairs! How can you resist smiling back at them? It was a fun year (and I sure used up a lot of DMC white thread!!). You can see my cherry colored dining room in the background--love it at this time of year! But, it is awfully dark due to the covered front porch just outside so I'm thinking of painting it a different color. As usual, though, I'll probably be "thinking" about it for the next ten years before I actually do anything!

2016 Monthly Ornament Finishes

Would you like a closer look?
January ~ April 2016
May ~ August 2016
September ~ December 2016

As always, I love to hear what is your favorite (or favorites!).  I'll give you a closer look so you can make your decision... And if you want more information on fabrics or fibers that I used, just click on the name of the ornament below the photo--it will take you right to the post describing each finish.

Homespun Elegance "Sampler Snowman"

Notforgotten Farm "Parson Brown"

Casa Mia "Joyeux Noel" freebie

The Drawn Thread "The Joys Of Christmas"

Prairie Schooler Book No. 202 "Evergreen"

Country Cottage Needleworks "Snowmen"

Grandma Kringles "Winter's Frost"

Prairie Schooler Book No. 157 "Holly Days"

The Little Stitcher "Blue Snowman"

Country Cottage Needleworks "Snowmen Trio"

Heart In Hand "Winter Bird

All Through the Night "Stockingful"

So, what do you think--did any one of the chubby white fellows just call out to you, "Pick me! Pick me!"? Like any mother, I shouldn't play favorites, but I would say the two tiny Country Cottage Needlework pieces (June and October) are mine. The sheer tininess of them--stitched over one--is so sweet. I do love the December finish, too, as it is a bit different. It is awfully large for one of my ornaments, though, but it will still look nice hanging on the lower branches (or even on a cupboard knob or door handle). 

Now, many of you have asked to see a photo of my tree and I'm happy to oblige. We got a new star this year and, although, it doesn't photograph well, it is just so soft and pretty at night... Anyway, here is my 2016 tree with an accumulation of nine years of ornament stitching. People often tell me I've inspired them to stitch an ornament a month--that makes me so happy! It is such a joy to see them all on display in December and remember the stories behind them. I chose to stitch many of them because they remind me of people, places, or events that have been important in my life...

A tree filled with lots of love and tiny little x's!

You might like to see a few close-ups--inch after inch of stitchy Christmas joy! Not much room left for future ornaments, is there? At this stage in our lives, we won't be getting a larger tree, though, so I'll just have to get creative. Eventually, when we truly downsize, I have visions of my sons and their future wives (hopefully!) sitting in a circle and taking turns selecting ornaments to take home to adorn their trees. My middle son already told me he wants all of the bird-themed ones--ha ha!!

GIVEAWAY  WINNER! I was amazed at how many of you entered the giveaway for the Little House Needleworks "Be Merry" chart on my last post... I simply picked a name from the hat and the winner is:

Jennifer--congratulations! Please send me your address and I'll get this right out to you...

I'll be back after Christmas to show you some of the lovely gifts that I've received from fellow stitchers--kindness abounds in our community. As I've thought--and said--many times, if only stitchers ruled the world...

I want to thank all of you for your sweet comments--they are like little gifts to me throughout the year. They really are! When you take the time to write a blog, you never really know how many are reading unless they take the time to comment. I've received such lovely emails from people telling me I've inspired them to get back into stitching or try a new type of finish and I truly appreciate those. I feel very blessed to have "met" so many kind people through my stitching. Thank you--each and every one of you! Bye for now...

Friday, December 9, 2016

December days and a giveaway!

Does it seem to you that time speeds up in December? That each day is more like an hour, each hour more like a second? I just never have enough time to do all that I want for Christmas, no matter how early I start... I'm sure many of you are feeling this way right about now. But, somehow, it all comes together and Christmas morning arrives and the important things--your family members--are all that you really need at that moment. As you can tell, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed today--no cards are sent, few presents are bought, and even fewer are wrapped. But, it will all work out (or so I keep telling myself!).

I visited my mom in New York last week (thankfully, before all the snow hit the Erie, PA area right on the roads I would have been traveling) and managed to put the finishing stitches in this Little House Needleworks piece. Isn't it sweet? My dear friend, Pam, passed the chart on to me at our retreat in October, and I thoroughly loved each stitch. I used 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with the suggested overdyeds. The snow didn't show up quite as much as I wished, but, in the end, I like the more subtle look of it just fine.

I did make a couple of changes to this "Be Merry" design... I stitched the word "Christmas" instead of the girl's name "Belle Pepper" and I changed the date to 1895. That was a special date--the birth year of both of my grandmothers so you could say this piece is done in honor of them. My paternal grandmother was actually born on Christmas Day in 1895. I'll never forget Christmas Eve at her house where she sat in a regal looking chair in her living room surrounded by piles and piles of both Christmas and birthday gifts from her four children and 20+ grandchildren! What a sight! And she proudly displayed each little knickknack and tchotchke that she was given until the day she died  in 1994 at the ripe old age of 98.

"Be Merry" finish by Little House Needleworks

GIVEAWAY:  If anyone would like this chart, I'm passing it along, with the request that once you are done with it, you pass it along, too... If more than one person wants the chart, I'll draw a name. Let's set the deadline as December 20th at midnight. You probably won't get it before Christmas, but you'll have lots of time to stitch it for next Christmas. Please make sure to let me know in your comments that you would like a chance to stitch this next--and make sure to include your email address. There are so many "no-reply" comments these days that it is very hard to track someone down when there is no email given.

"Be Merry" chart is seeking a new home

And--one more finish, but it is a big one! My final snowman is done for the year--12 in all and I can hardly wait to show each one to you again in my annual "Parade Of Ornaments" in my next post. This one is stitched, but not finished (as you can plainly see!), but I hope to work on remedying that this afternoon.  Isn't he fun?! This All Through the Night design is called "Stockingful" and is stitched on 28 ct. dusty green Jobelan with the suggested overdyed threads. The stocking he is sitting in is cut from a piece of Woolies flannel. The chart suggested a red and white polka dot stocking, but I thought this plaid was adorable, too.

"Stockingful" all stitched up

We had a new visitor to our bird feeder today and I was so excited! I had seen these beautiful birds on Beth's blog and always thought them so handsome and today I got to see my first Northern Flicker in person! Boy, did he eat--he just hung there chowed down on the suet that we had in this particular feeder. Such a striking bird with his fat spotted belly, beautifully marked wings, and the bright red markings on his head.

My first spotting of a Northern Flicker!

It wasn't until I looked at my photos on my computer that I noticed there were actually two on the feeder at once in this shot. Can you spot the head of the second one just peaking out from behind? The plastic dome above the suet feeder is to keep our pesky squirrels away and it works quite well.

Not one flicker, but two!

My husband brought this pretty bouquet home to me earlier this week and I was so surprised to see tulips--in December! But, they work so well and the lovely red and green arrangement has fit right in with all the red and green decorations that seem to be popping up around my home these days. He's a keeper--wouldn't you agree?!

A Christmas surprise from my husband

Well, that's it for today--I'll be back soon with my 2016 "Parade of Ornaments" post! There will be lots of those chubby white snowmen for you to smile at.  Don't forget, if you would like a chance to win the "Be Merry" chart, please leave a note in your comment and include your email address.  Until then, enjoy these last two weeks before Christmas! Bye for now...

Getting ready!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Smiling snowmen and sunny San Diego

Hello, everyone--it's been a while since I've visited with you! This time, I really do have a good reason for being away so long (and not my normal one of simply procrastinating about sitting down and composing a new post). My husband and I were in sunny California visiting with our oldest son and his fiancée! It is so nice to now be able to picture his life out there after our very first trip to the San Diego area. Such a gorgeous part of the United States--hard to believe the sun can really shine non-stop each day. I'd love to share my photos with you, but first I have a couple of new snowmen finishes to share. I'm all up-to-date with my "snowman a month" challenge--hooray!

This little cutie is my ornament for October and I know many of you will recognize it as the Country Cottage Needleworks design "Snowmen Trio." I chose to stitch it on black ("over one" on 28 ct. Monaco) and just love the result! I used the suggested DMC colors, but substituted DMC 3776 on the noses and 844 on the hats so they would show up better. I hadn't done a beaded edge in a long, long time and now I know why--boy, does that take forever! But, just look at the result--how sweet... If any of you are interested in trying a beaded edge, I used Staci's wonderful tutorial which you can find by clicking right here.

"Snowmen Trio" finish

I forgot to take "before" photos of both finishes--was just in too much of a hurry to turn them into ornaments, I suppose... Anyway, my November snowman is this Heart In Hand design called "Winter Bird." I've stitched a few of these comical, long-legged birds and have enjoyed them all. This one is done with a variety of overdyeds on 40 ct. burch Newcastle. For the finish, I used some hunter green Woolies Flannel with a small strip of the rosy red fabric to match the bird. Top it off with a band of ecru ric rac and handmade cording and, voilà--it's finished and ready for the Christmas tree!

"Winter Bird" finish

I can't show you any more stitching just now because all I'm working on is Christmas gifts!

On to San Diego...  Have any of you been there? I had always heard that if you want perfect weather--San Diego is the place to live on the U.S. mainland. Well, I think the "experts" are right... it's just day after day of sun and (mostly) blue skies. Quite a change from our western Pennsylvania weather (which went from near 70° on Friday to rain and snow this weekend!). But, I wonder if I would miss the seasons living in a climate that is nearly the same day in and day out? Would I miss the changing of the leaves? The first snow fall? Those little green crocuses pushing their way up from the cool earth each spring? What do you think?

My son and his fiancée were excellent tour guides and we saw a lot for being there just four full days. Our first day was spent hiking at the beautiful Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Having hiked mainly in forests, this was a brand new experience for me to be hiking by the Pacific Ocean... This state park comprises over 2000 acres, so we saw a mere fraction of it!

Hiking by the Pacific Ocean

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Our next stop that afternoon, was to see the seals and sea lions in nearby La Jolla. When my son asked, at the end of our visit, what our favorite activity was, I said it was watching the antics of those blubbery creatures.

Seals and sea lions on La Jolla's beaches

I learned that sea lions have external ears and "bark" at each other. They are often more brownish in color than the darker gray/black seals. They were just so comical as they tried to move their massive bodies across the sand and simply plopped down on some poor unassuming animal.

The two in front were really "barking" at each other!

Unfortunately, along with these large animals comes a rather "large" smell--ugh!! It has become a real problem for the residents of La Jolla. In fact, we wondered how the residents of apartments located right across from the beach could deal with the constant odor... But, I suppose that is just the trade-off for views like this!

La Jolla beach scene

Besides the seals and sea lions, there were many pelicans and cormorants sunning themselves on the rocky shores.

"P" is for Pelican

The waves that day were huge, but the sleepy seals shown below don't even seem to notice...

Crashing waves on unsuspecting seals

Here is a nice shot of the coastline in La Jolla...

Such a lovely coastline

and another...

Love all the shades of blue in the water and sky

On Friday, we visited the 1800 acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park where animals are allowed to roam more freely than in traditional zoos. We saw many of the typical African animals, but my favorites were these pretty pink flamingos. Aren't their watery reflections in the little lake so pretty?

The delicate flamingos

The elephants were quite comical as we watched them fling dust on their backs with their trunks. Apparently, they do this to cool themselves and keep pesky insects away.

Dusty elephants under a brilliant blue sky

Saturday found us traveling north to Escondido where I indulged my husband's love of beer and went on a tour and tasting at Stone Brewing. In exchange, he's going to spend some time in a cross stitch shop with me on our next trip (right, honey?!).  This was not really my thing (I don't drink beer), but the meal at the brewery's restaurant afterward was excellent.  

That afternoon, we spent some time at beautiful Balboa Park, a 1200 acre home to gardens, attractions, the San Diego zoo, and over a dozen museums. It was later in the day so we only went to the Museum of Man and it's current attraction: Cannibals: Myth and Reality. It was interesting and delved into a lot of "what would you do?" types of philosophical questions...

California Bell Tower at Balboa Park

There are some lovely gardens at the park, but the prettiest was the rose garden. It went on and on forever--just a sea of pretty pastel-colored beauties. There were over 1600 roses and 130 varieties that bloom from March through December. They are at their peak in April and May--I guess we'll just have to go back then! Unfortunately, very few of them had a scent--not sure if that would be different at their peak.

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden

I made this collage of some of my favorites...

Can you pick a favorite? Mine is the peach rose in the middle.

Our final day found us driving to Coronado, often called Coronado Island. It is not technically an island as it is connected to mainland California by a thin strip of land called the Silver Strand. Oh, what a gorgeous place--beautiful beaches, lots of cute shops, and several famous hotels. The Hotel del Coronado is one of the best and, definitely, one of the most expensive. We walked through the lobby, glanced at the brunch menu (a "mere" $99 per person!) and left. It would be nice to save up your money and spend a night or two there, though...

Hotel del Coronado

On our final afternoon, we went to Old Town San Diego State Park which includes many historic buildings from the mid-19th century. We picked up some souvenirs, had a few snacks, and listened to a fun Mexican trio playing both Mexican and American songs. The Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration had been held there earlier in the month and there were still some decorations on display like this unusual woman made of succulent plants!

How does your garden grow?

The sunrises and sunsets in San Diego are unlike any we see in Pennsylvania. I wish we could have gotten to the beach to take better photos, but these are still pretty breathtaking. (Sorry about all the wires in the sunrise one--it was taken from our apartment balcony one morning).

Sunrise in San Diego...

...and sunset

But, then again, San Diego doesn't get this pretty scene: our first snowfall of the season this morning...

So pretty (but, how will I feel about the white stuff by January!?

Good luck wishes... to my youngest son who began a new job with the United States Department of the Treasury in their FinCEN division (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) last week. I am so proud of this kid (well, he is not a kid--at 28, he is a grown man, but as you moms know, your baby will always be your baby, right?).  After receiving his Master's degree in International Studies in May, he didn't "settle" for any old job, but chose one where he felt he could make a difference in the world--and I know he will!


A few final thoughts...  On the morning we flew  nearly 2500 miles across the United States to San Diego, it was Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the day after our historic election.  I peered down from the tiny airplane window admiring this wide homeland of mine and noticed the many landscapes that dotted our land. They were all so different; the fields, the mountains, the deserts, the cities, the oceans--so varied, just like the people that reside in this country. Many thoughts were running through my mind, but foremost among them was that somehow, we have to pull together as a nation--we just have to. No matter how you voted, it's now time to look to the future and work together; be kind, be respectful,  lead by example...

From the mountains to the prairies!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Thanks so much for stopping by today and saying "hello!" I always appreciate your kind comments and welcome each and every new follower. Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers! Bye for now...