Thursday, August 25, 2016

August round-up and a special gift from Kim!

Good morning, my blogging friends! I decided I'd better squeeze at least one post in before the end of August... For what I thought would be a quiet month,  August turned out to be busier than expected--I guess that's just summer for you! Is anyone else looking forward to the slowed-down (and cooler) pace of autumn? August has been one hot, humid, rainy mess here in western Pennsylvania, but I'm so thankful that we seem to be escaping all of those natural disasters like the flooding in the south and the wildfires out west. We may not be the most exciting part of the U.S. to live in, but, luckily, we rarely experience the natural weather disasters that so much of the United States seem to deal with on a regular basis.

Stitching update... Part of the reason I put off posting is that I was waiting for a birthday gift to arrive. This little piece was sent to my long-time blogging friend, Lois, in Northern Ireland who celebrated a big birthday in mid-August. Many of you will recognize this finish as a With Thy Needle and Thread design called "Dames of the Needle." I used 40 ct. Country Mocha Newcastle with a variety of overdyed threads. I tried to stick to what was suggested, but made some substitutions when I didn't have the designer's suggested threads in my stash. I truly love the colors in this piece--all those beautiful shades of blues and browns work so nicely together...

With Thy Needle & Thread "Dames Of the Needle"

Now, this design was supposed to be made into a sewing roll, but given my limited abilities with a sewing machine, I simply made it into a little pin pillow! Adding some cording and the cute little spools of thread finished it off very sweetly with the fabric shown used as the backing. Lois loves it and I'm happy to have added to her collection of little stitchy pillows... I know I'll be stitching this one again--perhaps for myself?!

Birthday gift sent to Lois

Some of you have already seen my next finish on Instagram... It is "K Is For Kitty," part of the Prairie Schooler alphabet series. I decided to leave off the wording at the bottom and simply make a pillow. I would love to stitch the entire alphabet on one giant piece of fabric some day, but that may have to wait until I retire (and get up my nerve to tackle such a gigantic project!).  Don't you love the expression on the calico kitty's face? He looks quite bewildered by what to do with the two birds on either side of him--play with them, make a meal of them? Cats will be cats after all!!

Prairie Schooler "K Is For Kitty"

This is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. I've noticed that I rarely change threads when I'm stitching Prairie Schooler charts--I think that's one reason I love them so much... I'm so happy with how my kitty finish came out! I had the perfect mix of scrap fabrics in my stash along with some ric-rak that matched his fur.

"K Is For Kitty" all finished up

Birthday RAK from Kim over at Wisdom With Needle and Thread!  As many of you know Kim is celebrating her 60th birthday this year by sending out 60 (yes, 60!!!) RAKs to blogging friends around the world. I was one of the lucky friends and was so pleased to see the gifts that came my way. Kim paints lovely Limoges boxes and the one she sent me is so special as it has a tiny book painted inside. Now how perfect is that for a librarian? I can't imagine how she paints anything so tiny and legible as that miniature Frog and Princess book page... Mr Frog himself is painted with 24 KT gold and there are three sparkly jewels aligned on the frog's back. So pretty!! 

Handpainted frog box from dear Kim
She also included a cute Halloween chart and some pretty fabric and threads.Click on the collage below and you can see the perfectly painted interior better... Thank you so very much, Kim--I will treasure your frog box and think of you each time I open it up and see that sweet Frog and Princess book you so patiently painted for me!

Interior of box and other RAK goodies from Kim

Outer Banks 2016... My busy August month included our annual trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I didn't take many photos this year, but my youngest son inspired me to get up early to catch at least one sunrise. He woke up for every single one this year--really have to admire him for that! This was the 32nd year that my husband's whole family has gathered for a week of laughter and memory-making in the sun and sand. Of those 32 years, I've only missed three trips: when my youngest son was a mere month old baby, when my oldest son's school started earlier than normal, and a few years ago when my dad was so very ill. We've made such great memories and I have to say the highlight of this year was watching seven grown men gathered around the kitchen island singing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody!" Too funny (and yes, there was just "a bit" of beer involved)...

Another beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean

Needless to say, I do not enjoy the 10 hour drive to and from the beach. Driving around the Washington, DC area is especially crazy and this year we were all dumbfounded to look over and see some idiot playing his trumpet while driving his car. Honestly, people--what are you thinking? And, most likely, he was probably recording himself  to post on Facebook or YouTube later on. Have you seen any driver craziness lately?

Summer Reading... Do you read more than one book at a time? Most times I have two books going--one that I read on my Kindle at night before bedtime and another audio book that I listen to in the car or inside while I stitch. Somehow, last week I found myself with four books going at once!  Luckily, the plots and topics were all so varied that I didn't have any trouble keeping them straight. I really enjoyed The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry--I think anyone with a love for books and bookstores would feel right at home with this one. I was disappointed with Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Although I've been fond of her previous titles, this one was just too long and very, very slow. It was one of those books where you kept waiting for something big to happen, but in the end felt let down.

A portion of my summer reading material

I'm still listening to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi about a neurosurgeon diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer at age 36. It is a beautifully written memoir, touching, and thought-provoking. I know how it ends so I know there will be tears. And the best of the bunch: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly--a first novel that is so gripping it was hard to put down. But, it was also hard to read as it dealt with the horrors of the Ravensbrück concentration camp during World War II and the experiments done on women by the Nazis. Two of the three characters in this book are based on real women and I highly recommend reading the author's notes at the end of the book for the background story on them before you start the book. This is not for everyone--there are graphic descriptions of what went on in the concentration camps, but they are events that really happened. I still shake my head in disbelief at the horrors and suffering so many millions faced during WWII...

Baked goodies! Well, on to more pleasant subjects! I baked one of my favorites, Banana-Carrot muffins, this week and took some in for my coworkers at the library on Monday. These are actually quite healthy as they are made with carrots, bananas, and pecans. I am always asked for the recipe, so I thought you might like a copy, too. These are great for freezing and make a perfect afternoon snack. Hope you enjoy them!

Banana-Carrot Muffins--one of our favorites!

Summer garden... In spite of our hot humid summer, we've had some pretty flowers this summer (well, the ones left for us by the deer, that is!).  A new-to-me flower this year are the yellow and white striped petunias in the lower left; aren't they the cutest?!

Floral sunshine!

And here are the pinks for all you pink-lovers...

Perfectly pink!

Baby birds... Remember the bird's nest on my front-door wreath that I showed you last time? Well, I'm happy to report that all four birds hatched and have flown the nest... We came home from our beach trip to an empty nest (and a huge mess on our door which my dear husband so nicely cleaned up for us!). It amazes me how quickly they grow up and fly away--what a difference from human babies!

Four new baby robins just before they flew the nest

Instagram update... I'm really enjoying Instagram--surprise, surprise! Facebook is still not for me, but Instagram isn't filled with the drama that FB seems to be submerged in all much of the time.  I would love to have you follow me on Instagram (user name is caroling55 and I've also added a button in my sidebar to click on). And, I would be so happy if those of you who don't have blogs would consider joining IG, too--it is fast and easy and I would get to see your creations just like you get to see mine... I'm being a bit selfish, I suppose, but I've always felt bad that I don't get a chance to compliment my non-blogging friends on their stitching like you take the time to do when you leave comments on my blog posts...

Well, I guess I'll see you in September--time to pull out my fall stitching and perhaps stitch a few new things. I do love my fall stitching! Thank you all for visiting today and for taking the time to leave a comment--I truly appreciate each and every one...  As always, if you have a question, please include your email in your comment so I can reply. Otherwise, I have no way of tracking you down... Enjoy your day, my friends!  Bye for now...