Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stitching Snowmen In This Horrid Heat

Hello, hello! I've been away much too long and I've missed all of you! July is one of our two busiest family months (May being the other) and in between traveling to New York to visit my mom and preparing for our annual week at the beach, I've had little stitching time. But, to be honest with you, I think this heat is just zapping any energy that I normally have for stitching. The humidity has been horrid and it seems to take me so much longer to do even the simplest things around the house when it's like this. We do have air-conditioning, thank goodness, but this heat and humidity still just make me want to sit and read rather than stitch. 

I've been keeping up with my monthly snowman challenge and have two cuties to share with you today. My July ornament is from Grandma Kringles and is called "Winter's Frost." I used 40 ct. Country Mocha Newcastle linen for this one along with a mixture of overdyed threads. I think the white shows up quite well on this particular fabric which is one reason I chose it.

"Winter's Frost"

To finish him off, I added a rusty bell on his collar and used some fabric from the Woolies Flannel Charm Pack which I added to my stash a couple months ago. I just love it--reminds me of a cozy man's shirt or cuddly blanket material. The gold cording is made using DMC 420. I didn't have enough of the flannel for the backing, but, luckily, I had a heavy cotton napkin in the perfect shade to use. I stock up on cloth napkins for backing material whenever they are on sale at Kohl's.

July snowman ornament all finished up!

And for my June ornament, I finally finished this quartet of smiling snowmen from Country Cottage Needleworks (the design is called "Snowmen"). This was a large design so to make it ornament sized I had to stitch it over one on a 32 ct. mystery dusty blue evenweave. I also left off the bottom border that was charted (the same pine boughs that are in the top border).  This gave me a tiny 2" x 4" ornament--perfect!

Country Cottage Needleworks "Snowmen"

Now, seriously, who can resist their little grins? Rather than cross stitching the mouths, I just used straight stitches since I was working on such a tiny scale. And here is the finished ornament--a little pillow with ruched ribbon trim, a gauzy hanger, and three miniature jingle bells. What do you think?

June snowman ornament finish

I'm currently working on a gift for a friend so I can't show you that, but I hope to begin a larger piece soon. I just need a nice design with simple DMC threads--no thoughts about converting fibers and such. Time to go stash-diving and see what I come up with!

Sonnenberg Gardens... When my husband and I visited my mom in mid-July, we took advantage of an almost perfect weather day (mid-70s, low humidity) to visit historic Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion in Canandaigua, New York. The home is over 125 years old and sits on 50 acres of land.  This was the summer home (Sonnenberg means "Sunny Hill" in German) for the Thompson family. Frederick Ferris Thompson was the founder of what is now Citibank and Mary, his wife, was from Canandaigua, so they chose that location to escape the city heat each summer. The acreage includes gardens in many different styles including a Japanese garden, rock garden, Italian garden, pansy garden, and moonlight garden. I took a lot of photos that day! Here are some of my favorites...

Sonnenberg Mansion: 40 rooms of Queen Anne style beauty

The library, my favorite room in the mansion (of course!!)

Another view of the library

The sewing room was off a main bedroom

A cozy bedroom featuring a crazy quilt

Close-up of the lovely embroidery on the crazy quilt

Loved the title of this vintage book resting on a nightstand!

I couldn't help but notice how teeny-tiny all of the dresses were! I'm quite petite, but there is no way I could fit into any of the dresses that were on display throughout the house...

A view of the Italian Garden from the second floor porch. Unfortunately, due to lack of rain in the area, all of the grassy areas were very brown and burned out.

The rose garden in July; past its prime, but still lovely!

This Buddha was featured in the Japanese Garden.

Stairs in the rock garden that led up to a rocky perch to relax, enjoy nature, and simply watch the world go by.

Of course, the Blue and White Garden was my favorite!

Lovely statues were scattered throughout the grounds.

Such a wonderful glimpse into a bygone era!

Instagram--Well, I took the plunge and joined Instagram! I honestly did it just to be able to see my son's travel photos from China, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia (where he is now--he'll fly home on Friday). But, once I got there, I discovered so, so many old blogging friends were now using Instagram sharing their beautiful stitching that I couldn't resist following them, too! It was like a reunion--I was so happy to reconnect with them and see what they've been up to... I've even posted a couple of my own photos so if you would like to follow me, my user name is caroling55. And if you are on Instagram--let me know and I'll look for you, too! I can see why folks enjoy it as it is so much easier and quicker than pulling a blog post together. But, I do like the blogging format, too, so I don't plan on giving my blog up any time soon. 

Birthday boys... My husband and youngest son have July birthdays within 5 days of each other so when my son decided to pay us a surprise visit on his birthday, I quickly whipped up this small carrot cake. I made a tiny banner from one I printed off the internet, added a couple of signs denoting their ages, and a few candles. It was so, so tasty!

A birthday cake for two very special guys...

And on the 23rd, my husband and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary! Well, I use the term "celebrated" very loosely because he was on a charity bike ride for multiple sclerosis for the entire weekend. But, he promised me that our 40th anniversary next July will be marked by a special trip... Hmm... where should we go? Where would you go for an anniversary milestone? Our two older sons and their girlfriends gave us this wonderful summery bouquet to commemorate our special day...

Anniversary flowers for 39 years of marriage

So, that about wraps up my busy month--oh, except for the new babies that have arrived at our house! No, not human babies--little bitty robins! If you are long time readers of Stitching Dreams, you may recall that robins built a nest on our front door wreath before (you can read about it in this post). They try each and every year to build there, so we usually bring the wreath inside during the spring and early summer to foil their attempts. Well, this year, they outwitted us and built their nest in the mid-summer July heat! The eggs were already there so we couldn't remove the wreath this time. I'm happy to announce that the birds have all hatched since these photos were taken... To avoid upsetting them, the front door is off limits and we just enter our house through the garage. 

Four new baby robins have arrived!

I am way, way behind on blog reading after this busy month, but plan on catching up today and tomorrow, so if I haven't been around to visit you in a while, I'll be popping in soon! I want to thank you all, as usual, for your very kind comments and your friendships. The stitching community is honestly one of the most supportive groups out there--aren't we the lucky ones?  Bye for now...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Popping In With Some Patriotic Finishes

Happy 4th of July! It's the final day of a nice long weekend here in the United States and I hope you've enjoyed some time with family and friends like I have. We had our 4th of July get-together with my husband's family in Ohio yesterday--delicious beef tenderloin cooked on the grill, roasted potatoes, creamed corn, strawberry-spinach salad, blueberry-banana bread, apple crisp. Yum... an all-American feast to be sure! What's on your menu for today?

Before I show you my patriotic finishes, I want to thank you so much for the wonderful comments about my previous post and my Patagonia pictures. I tend to use my blog as a kind of journal for not only my stitching, but also traveling, baking, gardening, and wildlife photos, so I'm glad that you enjoy these things just as much as photos of my stitching. Well--almost as much! I think if you're one of my regular visitors, stitching is your true passion and that is why most of you visit, right?

So, I'm happy to report that I have two new patriotic finishes for my red, white, and blue collection...  First up, is a this little cutie called "Pop" from Lizzie Kate's Yankee Doodle chart. I used the suggested colors, except for the blue (I substituted WDW's Navy) and stitched this on a 40 ct. burch Newcastle. 

Lizzie Kate: Pop!

This came out a bit larger than most of my patriotic smalls... but it still fits nicely in my corner cupboard. I used three different fabrics, some wee gold x's along the seams, and a rusty star to finish it off. The back of the pillow is the same blue and beige star-strewn fabric that is shown in the lower right.

"Pop" all finished up

This is the way I like my fireworks--on fabric! I am not a lover of loud noises and big booms so I tend to stay away from crowds and live fireworks and typically enjoy my Fourth of July nights watching "A Capitol Fourth" on television.  How about you?

I can't seem to get away from my love of stitching tiny things on black so this next finish was perfect for me... This star is from the Prairie Year-Rounds (Book No. 52) by Prairie Schooler. I used 28 ct. black Monaco and stitched it "over one" so it turned out very small--I love it!

Prairie Schooler star

I had a round finish in mind and thought that the little plate like discs that I've used in two previous finishes would be perfect for this one, too.

Prairie Schooler finish from Book No. 52

Here is my latest finish along with the Freedom Crow finish from a couple of years ago. If you'd like to read more about the little discs and the Freedom Crow finish, just click here.  I really love how crisp and clean these look when all finished up.

Two of my favorite red-white-and-blue finishes

I've tried to stitch at least two patriotic things each summer since I began my blog back in 2009 so, by now, I've developed quite a collection. During the year I keep them in a drawer of an old dresser which you can see below.

A drawer full of patriotic pillows

As most of my long-time readers know, I usually put them in a wooden bowl for display, but my bowl is now too small. So, this year, I decided to move all of them into my corner cupboard where they will spend the summer. 

Kitchen corner cupboard

I'll move in a bit so you can get a closer look...

Do you have a favorite?

Still not close enough? Here are the top two shelves...

And here's the bottom shelf...

I'll probably leave these on display until Labor Day and then change them out for fall stitching... I love the spot of color these give my kitchen--makes me almost want to stand up a salute!

I'm happy to report that my youngest son returned safely from China, tired, but filled with stories of his travels. He said it was amazing how many Chinese people came up to him and wanted to have their picture taken with him and his two friends just because they were westerners with light skin. At first, it was quite novel, but by the end of the trip he said it was a bit annoying. Just imagine being a celebrity--no thank you!! Along the way, he messaged me the sweetest photo. He was in a restaurant in Shanghai and one of the menu items was translated into "I Love You, Mom" so he snapped a photo and said it made him "think of me."  Awww...

An interesting name for a dish on a Chinese menu!

He got to spend an entire week with us before he headed back to Washington, D.C., so we heard quite a bit about his trip, but still haven't seen many photos as he wanted to edit them first. While he was on his trip, he sent this one which I'm sure all of you recognize as a small slice of the Great Wall. Have any of you been there? When I forwarded the photo to my mom she said, "I still can't believe my grandson is over in China!" How the world has shrunk with modern day travel and internet... Back when she was young, such travel would have been almost unheard of!

The Great Wall of China: June 2016

As much as my youngest enjoyed his trip, 10 days was enough for him and he couldn't wait to get back to the good old U.S.A. One son safe and sound at home, but tomorrow my middle son leaves for two weeks in Japan! Time to start worrying again... as many of you said in your comments last time: a mother never stops worrying!

So, that's it for today... I hope all of my readers here in the United States have a wonderful and safe 4th of July... And for my dear international friends, I hope this is the start of a relaxing week for each of you! Bye for now...

HAPPY 4th of JULY!!