Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Daffodils and chicks--but only in my stitching!

And another month has flown by! March certainly has stayed "lion-like" for us Pennsylvanians, though. I can't remember a more "un-springlike" month! Last week we had seven inches of snow on Wednesday and this week has been cold, rainy day after cold, rainy day. I've been enjoying the spring flowers many of you are showing on your blogs--but I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous! I guess the only positive in this dreary weather is that it's enabled me to have a lot of stitching time...

My big finish is Prairie Schooler's "Daffodils" (Book No. 146) which seemed to take forever! There is so much solid stitching in these monthly samplers, isn't there? I used the suggested DMC threads on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle. BUT--I did make a change in the color of the large daffodil block in the upper left corner. The background of that block was charted to be dark brown and I didn't feel that it looked very springlike. So, I changed it to the lighter green, changed the color of the daffodil from white to yellow, and stitched the leaves in the darker green. 

Prairie Schooler "Daffodils" finished up for March

I had hoped to have some pretty yellow daffodils from my garden to photograph alongside my finish. Ha! Not this year--we'll be lucky to get any by mid-April. Here are a few close-ups for you...

I love the way the alphabet is spelled out in the grass--it reminds me of wildflowers!

I did make a design change to this chart--the two doors weren't the same size and I know that would have driven me crazy. I like symmetry in my life!  The door on the left was one square smaller than the window above. So, I changed it which meant I had to change the design of the gray steps under the door. I also left out the window panes in the tiny window in the peak.

A pretty in pink house!

I changed the background behind the largest daffodil from brown to green

And I made a new little ornament for my Easter collection of smalls. This sweet freebie is from La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix and you can find the chart right here. Actually, I made two of these! One flew to California to live with my oldest son and daughter-in-law and the other is staying right here. The softer colors in the second photo are much more true to life...

New freebie chick from La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix

There is a funny story that goes along with this one... I didn't see that the designer had provided suggested colors, so I went ahead and simply pulled my own colors from my overdyed stash. Then one of my friends on Instagram asked me if I had followed the suggested colors or used my own. I went back to look at the blog, and sure enough--all I would have had to do was scroll down a bit. They were listed after all! Oh well--I think I was so anxious to stitch this one that I simply printed off the chart and didn't look further. Anyway, it turned out very cute, didn't it? I used 40 ct. antique white Newcastle and the following overdyed threads:  WDW Sally's Sunshine, WDW Sweetheart Rose, WDW Ivy, and DMC: 819, 977, 3790.

Yellow gingham ribbon and handmade cording finished this one off

A finish a long time coming!! I really enjoyed reading all of your suggestions for replacing the words "No Vacancy" on my newly found Marjolein Bastin piece. In the end, I chose to go with more nature motifs rather than any words. And this is how it turned out... I added two more leaves and a large egg and I'm very pleased with the final look. The colors in this piece are so soft and soothing.

"No Vacancy" by Marjolein Bastin finally finished after 13 years!!

I have to say, though, that I didn't enjoy stitching over two on the 28 ct. antique white Monaco fabric at all! I am so used to 40 ct. (or over one on 28 ct.) that this just about drove me crazy even though I was stitching only three small motifs. I just hate using two threads anymore--my stitching isn't nearly as neat as when I use one thread...  But, I got it done, ironed it and now just need to find a frame. It really is a darling piece--here are a couple of close-ups for you of the sweet little birds and flowers...

I love the tiny bird perched on the pencil in the foreground!

Lots and lots of brown in those birdhouses!

BLOGGER OF THE WEEK! In other stitching related news, Jo at Serendipitous Stitches, chose my blog as her "Blogger Of the Week" last week. If you'd like to read my interview with her--please check out this post. Thank you again, Jo--that was so sweet of you to include my blog!  

A gift from a friend... For Easter, I received a sweet package of goodies from my friend, Nathalie, in France. It included a cute LK Easter finish, a lovely French Christmas cross stitch magazine, and some very cute bunny tags. Thank you so much, Nathalie--I loved your thoughtful gifts!

Cookies and cake and bread--oh, my!! With my youngest and oldest sons both home two weeks ago, I got more chances to bake--yay!! Cookies, homemade bread, and this Fudge Filled Vanilla Bundt Cake got gobbled down in no time. The cake was so pretty...

And the inside had a decadent surprise... fudgy cream cheese filling! It was "pretty" good, but a bit dry for my taste. Somehow it still disappeared! And a generous portion of my oldest son's favorite ice cream (Turkey Hill "Double Dunker") certainly helped :)

Daily visitors... Our deer have been coming to our yard all winter--they are attracted to the food that spills from the bird feeder hanging outside our kitchen window.  We see these guys (plus one more not in the photo) on a daily basis. And that is why we can't have many pretty flowers in our yard--they devour everything in sight! In the photo below, I simply tapped on the window and they all looked at me with very slight interest--and simply went back to eating our grass! They aren't afraid of us in the least...

If only they would mow the lawn for us!

A few tears were shed... So, my family continues to scatter; my youngest son moved from Washington, DC to Panama City, Panama last week. Sigh... He will be gone six months on an assignment with the U.S. State Department and will live in a hotel! Luckily, it is a beautiful hotel and he has this view from his room--not bad, eh?  Will we go down to visit him? We're not quite sure, but are definitely considering it. Have any of you been there? Surprisingly, it would take us less time to fly to Panama than it would to go to southern California to visit our oldest son (as there is no direct flight to San Diego for us). All I know, is that is is 90° and humid in Panama pretty much year-round.  Hmmm... I'll keep you posted!

My youngest son's daily view in Panama City!

So, what are your plans for Easter? Ours will be quiet--just our middle son and his girlfriend... Thank goodness at least one of our three sons lives nearby--we would be pretty lonely without his almost weekly visits for Sunday dinners. He is our rock in so many ways... So, what are you making for Easter dinner? I think we'll grill a pork tenderloin and, hopefully, I'll get to bake another decadent dessert! Anyway, I hope you each have a lovely Easter weekend...

I truly appreciate each and every comment that you left for me on my last post (so glad you loved seeing my old family barn!).  And, as always, if you have any questions--please, please make sure to include your email address in your comment so I can reply to you... In my renewed interest in Marjolein Bastin art, I came across this darling work--wouldn't that be a wonderful cross-stitched piece?  Bye for now...


Monday, March 12, 2018

One bunny, two sheep, and something new

Good morning all! Hard to believe March is nearly half over... It's been a good month for me so far and it's about to get better as I'll have my oldest and youngest sons home for a few days this weekend. That is so very rare these days now that one lives in San Diego and the other in Washington,DC... I can't wait! 

My stitching, as usual, involves seasonal pieces and, just in time for Easter, I have this sweet Blackbird Designs finish called "Easter Parade" to share with you. I honestly can't remember when I enjoyed stitching a piece so much--the overdyed colors, the eyelet stitches on the bunny and one of the stars, the purple checkerboard border. The whole piece just came together so well... (I want to thank a very special blogging friend for lending me her chart--it will be flying home to you very soon!).

"Easter Parade"

I stitched the bunny holding his egg-filled Easter basket on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested overdyed threads except I substituted Gentle Arts "Sweet Pea" for the border. He would have been a bit large for one of my little pillows so I mounted him on some purple and white polka dot fabric, surrounded him with ecru pompom trim and glued some felt on the back.

Loved everything about this one!

To attach him to the chicken wire frame, I glued two d-ring picture hangers on the back and then simply wired those to the chicken wire with regular old twist-ties. So easy! In the corner, I added a polka-dot yo-yo topped with a couple of buttons and glued it onto some berries and vine trim that I found at a local craft store. A gauzy pink ribbon was then intertwined with the vines.

"Easter Parade" all finished up

Here is a close-up of the yo-yo embellishment... I was so pleased with how the berries complemented the pompom trim and resembled the stitched berries in the rabbit's pack! What do you think? It was nice to have a "bigger finish" for a change although my first love will always be making ornaments and small pillows.

I am on a yo-yo kick this year!

My Christmas ornament for March is the exceedingly popular "Little Red Barn" by Little House Needleworks. It seems that virtually everyone is stitching this on Instagram! I won't be stitching the entire series, but will pick and choose throughout the year.  I forgot to take a "before" photo, but this is how I finished it up--black gingham, red twisted cording, another yo-yo and some black felt glued to the back. The fabric was 35 ct. natural Northern Cross from my stash and, unfortunately, I used two strands of floss and it about drove me crazy--it was just too tight! But, I love the final look and I'm pleased to be doing a better job at keeping up with my monthly ornament stitching this year.

"Little Red Barn" finish

This design called to me because I grew up with a barn right behind my house. No, I didn't live in the country or on a farm. I grew up in a very small town in western New York, but in a house built in the early 1900s before cars were common. So, this pretty white barn once held horses and buggies! By the time my family moved in, in the early 1960s, the horses were long-gone and the lower floor of the barn held our cars, dad's tools, the lawnmower, etc.

But, it was the upper floor where all the magic happened... long afternoons spent playing the "Wizard of Oz" with the neighborhood kids (I always insisted on being the witch!), shooting hoops with my brother and his friends, and when we were older, building floats for the Homecoming parades each fall. So many wonderful memories... I took this photo from my upstairs bedroom on the last day of the estate sale we had after my parents sold our home in 2012. I can't help but look at it with tears in my eyes--that was the last time I slept in my childhood home.

If those walls could talk--wonderful memories were made in our old barn!

Here is a close-up of the wonderful cupola and the tilted weather vane that had turned in the wind for so many years. My mother always said it was that beautiful barn that sold her and dad on purchasing the fixer-upper of a house in 1960. I can see why...

Loved this old cupola and galloping horse!

In December, when my middle son and I drove home from visiting my mom, we took a detour and drove down through my old hometown. The new owners had painted the barn doors black and were obviously taking very good care of my old home. It warmed my heart to see the old homestead was being loved and cared for so well... And that same tilted horse was still galloping away in the wind on the tip-top of our old white barn. 

The new owners are maintaining our old barn so nicely!

Okay--enough of my walk down memory lane! Do you remember my last post about the extensive cleaning that has been taking place around my house--the "Swedish Death Cleaning?" Well, I've been finding more goodies! Look what I found all rolled up in the back of a drawer... this beauty called "No Vacancy" by Marjolein Bastin that I stitched way back in 2005... I'd forgotten all about the poor thing! I'm sure I used the suggested DMC colors because I was too afraid to change colors back then--I've come a long way! I also used evenweave which I rarely use any more except for "over one" stitching or smaller pillows/ornaments. Pardon the wrinkles--I just unrolled it to photograph it for this post. I really would like to get this framed, but I am not sure about the "No Vacancy" words and am trying to think of something different, or perhaps just stitching one or two of the motifs in place of the words. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Any suggestions for replacing the words "No Vacancy?"

Baking has been taking up more of my free hours and I've been experimenting with the new bread machine we got for Christmas. So far I've made a Seven Grain Bread, homemade hamburger buns, Buttermilk-Oatmeal Bread, and this very tasty Sunflower and Grains Bread. Yum!! I am being really good and limiting myself to one piece a day--my husband, on the other hand, is having a hard time stopping at one piece (or two or even three or four!).

A freshly baked loaf of sunflower and grains bread

And for my son's girlfriend's birthday, I made the cutest little carrot cakes in a baby Bundt pan. My mother-in-law gave me this six-cake pan probably 30 years ago and I had never used it! So happy that it didn't become a victim of my purging rampage as it made the sweetest cakes.

Baby bundt cakes!
A pink-tinted cream cheese and maple syrup glaze topped them off quite nicely. (The two with toothpicks had no nuts in them since my son's girlfriend doesn't eat them). Next time, I will make the glaze a bit thinner.

Happy Birthday carrot cakes with pink tinted frosting

I've also been moving out the snowmen and moving in the spring decorations (even though it is still snowing off and on here in western Pennsylvania!). My pink bunnies have really cozied up the bottom shelf of my corner cupboard. I have to admit the color pink is starting to grow on me :)

Pretty in pink bunnies

And the five St. Patrick's Day smalls that I made back in 2012 are back for March. I feel bad that I haven't added to my green collection, but there's always next year! I don't have an ounce of Irish blood, but I do enjoy the little leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, and luck-themed pillow on display to break up this long, often unpredictable, month of March.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Now for my "something new" that I mentioned in my last post! I've begun dabbling in English paper piecing--I'm making hexies... What will I do with them? Well, I'm not sure. I don't think a quilt is in my future (but never say never!), however I can see myself using them for a smaller wall hanging, pincushion, project pouch, mug rug, or table runner. I've made them in three different sizes and, you know me--I'm extremely drawn to the smallest ones. Below you can see the 1 1/2 inch hexies, the 3/4 inch hexies, and my favorites, the teeny pink 1/2 inch hexies. I haven't gotten brave enough to stitch each piece of the flower together, but I hope that I'll have that done by my next post! I love making them and am using the glue-basting method which seems quick and easy. We'll see if I have trouble getting the papers out when the time comes! If any of you experts in hexie making have any suggestions, I welcome them!

Hexie happiness!
Oh, my--that was a long post! I hope some of you are still with me... Thank you, as always, for the wonderful comments and emails! I truly appreciate each and every one. And if you have any questions for me, please make sure to include your email address so I can respond to you. Enjoy your week, my stitching friends! Bye for now...