Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A big finish and a tiny giveaway...

Good morning! And how are my stitching friends on this final day of May? Summer has "unofficially" started with the Memorial Day weekend, but it is still feeling rather cool and springlike here--I am longing for those warm 75° days when I don't have to dress in layers and the furnace is no longer coming on in the house! Hopefully, by the next time I post, we will have some true summer weather.

Before I show you my "big" finish, I want to express my thanks for your wonderful comments on my previous post. You were all so sweet with your compliments about my mom's 90th birthday party (and my beautiful mom!). As I told some of you--the smile on her face made all of my hard work worthwhile. She loved reading everyone's comments and wants to thank you all for your kind "Happy Birthday" wishes! Throughout my blogging journey, my mom has been one of my biggest supporters--always reading each post, telling me "that was a good one," and being amazed at,  and interested in, the friends that I have made (from all around the world) as a result of my little old blog... So, thank you--stitching friends are the best!

So, after five months, my "big" (for me!) finish is done--"A Walk In the Woods" was completed last week and I love it more each time I see it.  I began stitching this Cricket Collection design as my "New Year's start" and have worked on it intermittently since then.

"A Walk In the Woods"--all finished up!!

I used 40 ct. flax Newcastle linen with most of the suggested DMC threads for this piece. I did change the dark purple color to a less vibrant 3740 as I thought it looked better with the subdued colors of this sampler. I also made quite a few changes to the letters. Many of them had a straight line running across the tops of the "open" letters like the U, V, X, and Y that closed the letter off and I didn't like that look. So I omitted the lines and redesigned a few of the letters of the alphabet.

Love that little nest!

My biggest change was to the right of the date--there was supposed to be a crown there. What? I know samplers often include crown motifs, but I just didn't understand what it had to do with this sampler. Everything else is nature related so I found a simple bouquet motif in one of my stitching books, changed the colors to blues and purples, embellished it a bit, and voilà--I had my final motif! You can get a better glimpse of it in this photo... I thought it looked as though I had walked through the woods and picked a delicate bunch of posies to take home with me!

I added the little bouquet

So, what is your favorite motif on our nature walk? I really love the nest with the lone blue egg, but that border of violas is what first drew me to this design. I am just thrilled with this finish and I am considering sending it to be framed by Jill Rensel. I'm sure it will be quite expensive, but I've long admired the magic Jill does with her frames. Have any of you sent things to her? I just love scrolling through her blog and seeing her work!

Nature's beauty in stitches...

Unfortunately, not much other stitching has been going on. Like a lot of you, this is a busy, busy time for outdoor chores. We've been planting, transplanting, pruning, and mulching in our free time. At times, it feels rather hopeless, because, chances are, the deer will eat what we've planted. But, they usually avoid the geraniums, petunias, and ferns that we chose, so--fingers crossed! Things are looking a bit sparse right now, but I hope to fill in with a few more plants in the coming weeks.

Our patio garden

Ferns seem to love our yard, so we transplanted several to the front of the porch. We've put out the porch furniture since I took the photo below, too--I can hardly wait to sit there and stitch on a warm June day.

Transplanted ferns seem to be loving our front porch!

Just love the bright yellow of these tuberous begonias. Sam's Club was selling these--all potted up with the English Ivy--for only $14.99! Wish I had bought more than two pots...

Floral sunshine
Blue salvia and pink coral bells come back year after year

We've had tons of bunnies (yay!!) visiting our yard and I caught these two playing hide and seek behind the rose bush (which hasn't bloomed yet because the deer keep attacking it!).   Do you see the deer antlers lying on the ground? My husband found them in the woods behind our house last year and placed them in the garden as a sort of decoration (and to ward off the deer--ha ha!). Anyway, I noticed that the antlers seemed to be "melting" and getting smaller and smaller over the past year. Then one day, I spotted a tiny squirrel nibbling away at them! It seems that the antlers provide needed calcium to squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents and also help sharpen their teeth! Who knew?!

Bunny hide and seek!

Patriotic stitching, anyone? Since many of us are stitching patriotic pieces this time of year, I came across this chart in an old magazine that I thought one of you might like. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage. I'll announce the winner the next time I post...

I'm having a giveaway for this cute patriotic chart

Lots of traveling will be happening in June as we have back to back family weddings on opposite coasts of the United States. Yep--almost 3000 miles apart! Two different nephews from each side of the family are getting married a week apart and, although I'm looking forward to seeing all the extended family, I'm not looking forward to all that travel. But, after these trips are over, we can relax for the summer--can't wait!

Thank you so much for visiting me today--and a special thanks to all of you who take the time to comment. I do appreciate each and every one! Hope you have a lovely day and manage to fit in at least some stitching time during this busy, busy season. Bye for now...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You Are So Loved and a Very Special 90th Birthday Celebration!

Hello, hello! And another month is speeding by! We've passed the half-way mark of May--can you believe it? I was so busy getting ready for my mom's 90th birthday party that the past few weeks have simply passed in a blur. It was truly a wonderful celebration and I hope you'll enjoy reading about it in later on in this post. Thank you all so much for your "Happy Birthday" wishes for her--she really appreciated each and every one!

First of all, I'll share the stitching I did for mom's birthday. I thought this little freebie from Snowflower Diaries was the perfect thing to stitch for her on her milestone 90th birthday. As any of you who have stitched this will recognize, I changed it up a bit to fit our family.  The original chart (which can be found here), had only two baby birds with a mama bird. But, our family has four "chicks," so I added two more birds to represent me, my younger brother, and two younger sisters. Of course, that meant adjusting the branches, too--I think it turned out so cute!

Freebie finish of  "You Are So Loved"

I used a peachy salmon-colored fabric (which is not nearly as bright as is showing up in this photo) to pick up the colors of the flowers and edged it with the same color cording. The finish also has a tiny, silver heart hanging from the little falling branch which I added to represent my dad. Although he has been gone over two years, we still feel his love surrounding us each and every day. Mom loved it and was very touched, I'm happy to say. And so happy to finally own a "Carol pillow" of her very own. I've stitched and framed pieces for her before, but had never made a little pillow so she was thrilled!

"You Are So Loved"--all finished up

And for her special birthday/Mother's Day gift she also received the finish that I shared with you last time, "Bluebird Out My Window." I decided to add a black Smyrna stitch  for his eye rather than leaving just the fabric showing and I'm much happier with it. In real life, bluebirds have very dark, beady eyes so he looks more realistic to me with this dark eye. I found the perfect 4" x 6" frame at Marshall's and framed it using the lacing method--a first for me! Here it is--what do you think? I thought this would make a lovely gift for mom because of the word "Home" on it--she has always been the center of our home, no matter how far afield us kids are scattered...

Bluebird Out My Window--framed and ready for its new home

So, on to the big 9-0 party! Oh, it was fun--a lot of work for me, but so rewarding to do this for my dear mother. First, of course, came the invitation. I got my inspiration from Pinterest and created it using a photo of her as a little girl along with a more recent one. Just look at those curls--was she not the cutest little thing? Sort of a brown haired Shirley Temple! (I have covered up the personal information and the dotted lines weren't there in real life).

The invitation that started it all

Next, I created some personalized wrappers for Hershey Miniatures chocolates--because what's a party without chocolate? I simply experimented using Microsoft Publisher until I was able to get the correct size to cover the little bars. These are the designs I came up with...

Personalized candy wrappers in pink and black

I ended up making 125 of them which were scattered down the center of the tables along with sparkly pink and silver sequins. Thankfully, listening to a good audio book (The Women In the Castle) made the wrapping go pretty quickly. I used two pieces of double sided tape--one to hold the paper label to the original candy wrapper and the other to close up the wrapper that I made. Funny side story--at the birthday lunch, my youngest son decided it would be funny to take the wrapper off one of the candy bars and put it on a wrapped butter patty. He kept offering it to other guests as a "special" candy bar and then let them in on the joke before they unwrapped it. After the party, he placed it in the butter dish when he left--wonder what the poor waitress thought when she spied what she thought was chocolate "candy" and then realized it was actually a pat of butter!

125 miniatures all ready to eat!

The chocolates were quickly gobbled up by the party goers, but luckily, I had made mom her very own gift box for later on... For her special box, I added a couple of wrapped bars that said, "Love you Mom!" ♥

Mom's personal box of chocolates

I found these cute photo props on Etsy, downloaded and printed them, and added skewers for holders (using my hot glue gun). To display them, I stuck the skewers in floral foam and covered it with pink packing "peanuts."

Photo props from Etsy

They helped create such fun photos as you can see by the smiles below! That's my mom in the lower right--she truly is "90 and Fabulous!" My youngest and oldest son are at the top left, husband in lower left, two nieces on the left and a good family friend is at the top right. Love them all!

Who are those masked men and women?!

Another idea I spotted on Pinterest was to highlight the birthday girl's year of birth using mason jars filled with flowers. A very simple idea that turned out so cute! I used Columbine from my garden--just loved the rustic look. Another funny story, though... I picked the flowers right before we drove up to New York on Friday. Little did I know that they housed many, many tiny ants which kept crawling out of the flowers and up my legs during the entire trip! My husband even found a couple on the steering wheel as he drove. Glad they weren't bees or something that bites!

1927: A very special year

I placed the mason jars on a table filled with old photos. Everyone enjoyed looking at mom as a child, a college coed, a young bride, and also those of her in her adult years.

The photo table

The party was held in the social room at my mom's senior living center--a perfect size for the 31 guests. I requested that the tables be set up in a "U" shape and thought it worked out so well. Mom and the four of us kids sat at the bottom of the "U" where we could clearly see the guests and they could see us. A buffet lunch consisting of pasta and meatballs, chicken, rolls, veggies (no, I did not eat them--for any of you long-time readers, you know vegetables are just not my thing!) and a green salad. It was prepared by the senior living facility--they have such tasty food!

All ready for a party!

As you can see, there was lots of pink:  polka-dot balloons, linen napkins, and pretty spring  colored flowers. My youngest sister ordered the sweet floral "Happy Birthday" banner you see in the photo below from Etsy. Absolutely loved it!

Pink polka-dot balloons and purple and pink flowers

There was even dancing--well one dance; a very special one featuring mom and my middle son. I just love that photo! Doesn't my mom look fabulous--her smile says it all. And look! There is a very rare photo of me on my blog! And even more rare--I have a dress on and a pink sweater! A miracle! After lunch, the residents of the senior living community all came down and joined us for cake and punch. It was so enjoyable to chat with them and hear the wonderful things they had to say about mom.

My beautiful mom, middle son, and me!

Since the first cake didn't have candles (her facility doesn't allow them--even for birthday cakes!) we wanted to have a second cake later on so she could make a wish and blow out the candles. We ordered a positively decadent chocolate cake--oh, my! D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! We enjoyed this one when we gathered at my brother's house that evening for pizza and subs. No one was very hungry, but somehow we found room for that cake!

I wonder what she wished for?

I made mom one last gift--a Scrabble themed card/picture. Another Pinterest idea and one that was so perfect for her as we play "Words With Friends" online each night. I had some old Scrabble tiles that had belonged to my grandmother (another avid player) so I used them along with a printed hummingbird and some puffy flowers to create this little picture. 

Whew! So, that is the party round-up. I hope you enjoyed it and found some ideas you can use for your next big family celebration. I told mom I'm going to start planning for her 100th birthday party and she just laughed. But, you never know, do you? She is still so, so sharp--I only hope I inherited her genes... She truly is my best friend--can't imagine how I got so lucky to have her as my mom :)

Thank you all for stopping in to say "hello" today! I appreciate each of your comments so very much. I'm way behind on blog reading and commenting, but hope to catch up today. AND, I really do hope to be back by the end of the month with a BIG finish... I'm working more days than usual, though, so we'll see! Bye for now...