Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Christmas Stitching on Halloween

Happy last day of October--or Happy Halloween if you prefer! How are my blogging friends today? I can hardly believe we are rounding the corner to the final two months of  2018, can you? October has been one tough month around here--I won't sugarcoat it. I just have to hope and pray that November is kinder...

My stitching retreat, two weeks ago, was such fun: stitching, eating, stitching, snacking, stitching, sleeping, stitching... Unfortunately, I had to leave a day early as my niece's baby shower fell on that last day. But, it was still nice to be there for even the short time I had with four long-time stitching friends. We don't have formal exchanges these days like we used to--if someone wants to bring something, that's fine. No one keeps track! I had some extra time to stitch while my mom was in the hospital so I made four little snowflake ornaments--one for each of my friends. Believe me, by the final one, I think I had the chart memorized. It is actually one I had stitched twice before--once for myself and once for a Christmas exchange--so I'm sure many of you recognize it.

A quartet of snowflake ornaments for four good friends

The pattern is a freebie which can be found right here. I also have a link to it in my sidebar under "Favorite Freebies."  These were stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle using the variegated DMC 115 thread--love the crisp red and white look at Christmas time! The ruched ribbon edging is easy once you get the hang of it...  Google "ruched ribbon tutorial" and you will find some great instructions and videos to help you out. I simply apply it to the perimeter of the circle with a bit of glue on the tip of a toothpick. 

There's just something about red and white!

The problem of how to package my ornaments was made easy when I stumbled upon these red and white polka dot popcorn holders at the local Dollar Tree. Throw in some crimped paper ribbon shreddings and you've got a quick, easy gift box!

All ready for gift-giving!

My stitching friends brought me some goodies, too, as you can see in the photo below. We hope to get back on track and meet up next fall, too. This type of retreat is something that anyone can set up. Many of you told me they've never been to a stitching retreat. Well--why not set up your own? Contact a few friends, rent a house for a few days and let the stitching begin! I am not one for large groups so this smaller set-up suits me perfectly...

Gifts received from stitching friends at our retreat--thank you all!

I don't enjoy shopping, but I do make an exception to visit HomeGoods now and then. I love HomeGoods--you just never know what little gem you'll stumble upon. I recently picked up this "Measure, Make, Create"  Rae Dunn divided dish to use on my crafting table. I love it; it corrals small buttons, trims, and other accents just perfectly when I am finishing an ornament or small pillow. And at the clearance price of $5.00--who could resist?!

A handy little Rae Dunn dish for my craft table

And, I've been meaning to post this sweet little tool set that my daughter-in-law gave me for Mother's Day in May... How pretty are these floral hammer, scissors, and tape measure? I have them where I can quickly grab them--right on top of my craft table at all times...

Some "girl" tools from my dear daughter-in-law!

The handle of the hammer unscrews and is a screwdriver inside! How neat is that? And that hammer came in very handy yesterday as I finally got a 2013 finish all framed up. I use the method outlined here to prepare my stitched piece for framing. The hammer tapped in all those tiny pins while saving my fingers lots of pain in the process! Who remembers this finish of "Halloween Is In the Air?"  Well, as I mentioned...  it's been five years and that poor neglected piece was just waiting and waiting for me to pay it some attention again. Here is the framed finish--isn't it adorable?

Finally framed after five years

Many of you know that Halloween is a hard day for me... My dad passed away four years ago on Halloween and since then I haven't decorated at all. I've stitched a few pieces, but this is the first year I've done anything in the way of decorating. Just this one simple vignette... It's not much, but I'm getting there! Baby steps, right? 

Just look at that moon!

I really love the old-time vintage look of Halloween in this piece--the expressions on the moon's face and the candy corn "flowers" are priceless! I am not a fan of the bright purples and yellows and fluorescent greens that are so popular in modern day Halloween pieces. I much prefer the duller oranges and golds and more muted tones of Halloween decor from the 1930s and 40s. 

A basket of Halloween

GIVEAWAY WINNER... We have a winner! Yes, there were 15 entries for the Seasonal Kitties charts and the winning name drawn from the hat is:  

                                   PATRICIA DEE!!  

The giveaway winner is:  Patricia Dee!

Patricia, please contact me (email is in my "A Bit About Me" profile in the sidebar) and let me know your mailing address. I will get these out to you this week. Congratulations and thank you to all who entered. If you didn't win this time--watch this space. There will be future giveaways!

The synagogue shooting in my city of Pittsburgh has been simply heartbreaking and so horrific for the families of those killed, for the Jewish community, for western Pennsylvania, for the United States, and for the entire world, really. We, here in Pittsburgh, have always felt a bit sheltered from "bad things." We get few natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires or tornadoes. Our cost of living is low and we are lucky enough to have excellent educational, healthcare, and technology systems in place. Now we are on an evergrowing list of "those" places--Littleton, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Charleston, Las Vegas, Paris, and way too many others. You always think, "It can't happen here." But, you're wrong--it can happen anywhere, at any time, and your city or town will be forever changed. My thoughts and prayers go out to each and every family touched by this senseless act.

What I've been so proud to see during all of the news coverage of the tragedy are the many comments by outsiders and reporters of what a strong, resilient, and caring group of people make up the Pittsburgh area. We are a hard-working, friendly, "get right-back-on-your-feet" type and this will be evident in the days and years to come. I wasn't born in Pittsburgh, but I've lived here for the past 41 years--2/3 of my life. And I'm so proud to call this city my home... 

As wonderful as Pittsburgh normally is, it's not known for an abundance of sunshine! In fact this list shows that it is the 11th least sunny city in the United States--right after Seattle... And it's particularly hard in the fall and winter months when the weather turns too cold to spend time outside. I've known that I'm prone to seasonal sadness and have finally decided to purchase one of those special lamps to use that mimic the sunlight and help battle depression during the winter months. Have any of you purchased one that you can recommend? I'm thinking about this one as it has excellent reviews and looks to be very portable and small. But, I'd love to have your input!

So, as I said--October... sigh. A tough one! My mom has been in and out of the hospital twice and I have been driving back and forth to New York to be with her. Hopefully, things are resolved for now--thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers for her health. They meant so much to us! 

The beautiful fall colors that brighten my yard

I also want to thank you for your kind, thoughtful comments and emails. I wish I could reply to each of you directly, but many of you are "no-reply" bloggers--and it seems that more and more of you are ending up in that category, sadly. For those of you who still take the time to read and comment, I so appreciate it! I was just checking my blog statistics and the number of views of each of my 2018 posts is about half of what they were last year. That really makes me sad and makes me wonder if blogging truly is a dying art. But, I'll keep plugging away for a while! Enjoy your November, everyone--may it be a kind month filled with the spirit of Thanksgiving. Bye for now...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Some spooky stitching and a cautionary tale

A frosty good morning to all! We dipped down near the freezing mark this morning in western Pennsylvania after an unseasonably warm October. I am so not ready for the upcoming winter cold, are you? The older I get, the more I seem to hate the snow and ice and layers of clothes I have to heap on to just to keep the chill off. But, unless I move south, I guess I'm stuck with all of this, aren't I? 

So, how has your month been going so far? I've been doing some stitching, but not a lot and only have a couple of smaller finishes to share with you today. Most of you will recognize "J Is For Jack-O-Lantern" from Prairie Schooler's J-K-L book #105. I stitched just the bottom portion of it for a cute, quick addition to my Halloween pillows. My go-to fabric of 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle linen and the suggested DMC threads were used in this latest finish. That black cat is kind of crazy looking, isn't he? But, you long-time readers know what a fan I am of black cats and it's hard for me to resist charts that feature them!

J Is For Jack-O-Lantern

The little pillow combines two different fabrics and a thin handmade cording (I only used two lengths of DMC to create it rather than my usual three or four). At the very top I popped a black pin into the corded bow. I really love the tiny brown and black paisley fabric used on the lower half--wish I could find more. It is perfect for smaller projects like this one.

Another pillow for my Halloween display!

My next "spooky" finish is a Drawn Thread design with the charming name of "Tangled Up In Boo!" In fact, that is why I chose to stitch it as an anniversary gift for my son and daughter-in-law. Can you believe they will celebrate their one year anniversary on Sunday? What a joyous day that was as we welcomed a girl (finally!!) into our family. (If any of my new blog followers would like to read about and see photos of their special wedding day you can click right here).

"Tangled Up In Boo" by the Drawn Thread

Don't you love the expression on the skeleton's face as the winding vines of that giant pumpkin encircle his legs?  And can you spot the wee black buttons that make up the spider bodies? Luckily, I had three buttons in my stash that fit perfectly. The gingham fabric in the background is cut from a kitchen towel and the black frame is one I found in the clearance aisle at Target for $3.00! Nothing fancy, but I think it fits the design perfectly. This piece is stitched on 30 ct. dirty linen using the suggested Dinky Dyes silks. I'm happy to report that my son and daughter-in-law love their very first Halloween decoration and I hope they'll think of me each year when they display it. I wish them a first anniversary as joy-filled as their wedding day was... And, a very Happy Birthday to my sweet daughter-in-law who celebrates today!


An honor from Just Cross Stitch Magazine... I was so surprised to get an email from Brooke Smith, managing editor at Just Cross Stitch Magazine, who asked if they could feature my version of "My Christmas Song" on their Facebook page on October 8th.  She went on to say that they loved how I "switched it up a bit" and what a "beautiful job" I did with it. (Can you see me blushing?)! Anyway, below is the posting of it next to the original so you can see my version of this pretty design. Who knew that the folks at Just Cross Stitch read my blog? I'm truly honored--thank you!

My version of the "My Christmas Song" ornament featured on Just Cross Stitch Magazine's Facebook page

I do have a new start to share with you... Any guesses as to what I might be stitching? Here's a hint--it's an autumn design with some leaves... Ha ha--not very helpful, am I?

Any guesses as to what I am stitching?

Chart giveaway... I haven't had a giveaway in a while and I thought one of you might enjoy stitching these twelve kitty themed seasonal charts. There is one design for each month that features the same kitty doing everything from building a snowman to gardening to celebrating Halloween. You could make them to hang individually in a wreath (as suggested by the photo below) or fill a basket or bowl with all of them. If you are interested in giving these charts a new home, just let me know in your comments and please be a follower of my blog. This giveaway is for three pages torn from an old Leisure Arts magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants them, 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, please be aware that I will be folding up the pages and mailing them in a legal sized envelope to save on postage. I'll announce the winner the next time I post...

I'm giving away these cute seasonal cat charts

A cautionary tale... So, who knew that eggs could be dangerous? Certainly not me--or my dear daughter-in-law. She and I decided to share her story of what could have resulted in a very unhappy ending so more people don't suffer a similar trauma. It all began with a hard-boiled egg--a seemingly harmless nugget of white and yellow protein, right? Well, the trouble started when my daughter-in-law put her cold, shelled hard-boiled egg into the microwave for a bit to take off the chill. This was something she had done many times before... But, this time was very different. This time when she bit into the egg, it literally exploded in her month and sent boiling bits of egg everywhere. Her lips and inside of her mouth were injured along with a spot on her face. Thank goodness she had worn her glasses to work that day or her eyes could have been burned also. In the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital she was examined and told she was suffering from second-degree burns! All from an egg--who knew?! 

Apparently this has happened to lots of other people (there are many vidoes and accounts online) who have suffered everything from corneal damage to severe  scarring from the blistering burns. The eggs  explode due to the  rapid heating in the microwave oven which causes steam to build up under the yolk membrane faster than it can escape. I'm happy to say that my daughter-in-law fully recovered with just a bit of a scar visible on her face which will probably fade away with time. And from now on, I imagine she'll be sticking to cold hard-boiled eggs!

The first half of October has passed in a blur...  At the beginning of the month, I was very busy with the return of my youngest son from Panama. He spent five days with us to retrieve all of his worldly possessions which had been "living" in our basement for the six months he was away. It was such fun to spoil him a bit and treat him to his favorite cookies, pot roast, turkey meatballs, and other goodies. He is now happily settled in his new condo near Washington, DC and we hope to visit soon!  The rest of the month has found me driving back and forth to New York to visit my mom who has had some worrisome health problems. I'm going up again on Saturday to stay with her for six days. But, before that, I will be heading off to a mini stitching-retreat today with four friends up in Erie. We rented an Airbnb right on the lake this year rather than stay in the usual Bed & Breakfast (which we thought was "fading" a bit--a nice way of putting it!). Last year, we weren't able to get together so it will be fun to see them and catch up over our stitching for a couple of days.

Thank you all for your comments on my previous post and I apologize for not getting back to some of you. I truly appreciate each of you who takes the time to say "hello!" And I want to welcome my new followers--always happy to have more of  you along for the ride! Please make sure to include your email address if you have a question for me or if you want to enter the giveaway above; otherwise, I have no way of getting back to you. Hope you all enjoy this last  half of October! Bye for now...

Fall baking has begun!