Friday, November 30, 2018

A pair of Prairie Schooler Santas

And here we are on the final day of November! Can you believe it? I don't know where the hours go, to be honest, and often wonder how I managed to get everything done before I retired. I know I made better use of my time and that is going to be one of my goals for next year. Since I last visited you, I've been busy trying to finish up my monthly ornaments and doing some gift stitching / finishing. This is definitely the time of year when I wish I could get by on four or five hours of sleep in order to get everything accomplished that I'd like to! But, no--I need at least seven hours to function at all. How about you? 

With the busy, busy fall that I've had driving back and forth to New York to help out my mom, I turned to comfort stitching in the form of my beloved Prairie Schooler Santas. For October, I finished this beautiful blue guy from Book No. 58 "Old Saint Nick." He is stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle with the suggested threads. The chart showed two teeny, tiny gold stars hanging from his right hand which I thought were quite charming. Unfortunately, I looked and looked and couldn't find any that were that small. So where did I find these? Well, I "borrowed" them from one of my Homespun Elegance charts that included them with the purchase. (If I ever stitch that particular chart, I'm not sure what I'll do!)

Once again, I went with my favorite oval shape and used a scrap of one of my son's old flannel shirts to top it off. Pretty cute, eh?

November's ornament is one you have seen before, but I gave it away so I'm keeping this one for myself. I actually stitched two of these this month and am giving one away to a stitching friend as a "Random Act of Kindness"--hope she likes it! This is from Prairie Schooler's Book No. 62 called "Kris Kringle" and was also stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle linen using the suggested threads. I think this may be one of my favorites... Oh, who am I kidding--I love them all!

I'm getting quite a collection of these oval shaped gentlemen! Which one is your favorite? And yes, more will be arriving next year, I'm sure!

I only had three entries for the patriotic stocking chart and the winning name drawn from the hat is: 

Elizabeth (busy lizzy)

Elizabeth, please contact me (my email is in my "A Bit About Me" profile in the sidebar) and let me know your mailing address... I'll get the chart out to you as soon as possible. Do you think you can have it stitched by Christmas--ha ha! If you didn't win--keep an eye on this space as there will be more giveaways in the future. 

So, how are your Christmas preparations going? I haven't bought a single gift, but I'm way ahead in the decorating game since I didn't host Thanksgiving this year. We had a warm weekend and were able to get the porch decorated, the candle lights in each window, and much of the inside decorated. I was even able to pull out my big white box of Christmas ornaments and start hanging them on the tree on Wednesday.  I posted the photo below on Instagram (if you wish to follow me, just click here: ) and it quickly became my most "liked" photo in the 2 1/2 years that I've been a member of that community. I received so many lovely comments and remarks about these little treasures. I think only a fellow stitcher would know how much patience, time, and love actually goes into each and every one! Yes--this box would be one of the first things I'd grab if I were to ever find my house in some natural disaster! Heaven forbid!

Are any of you avid Amazon shoppers like I am? It's almost too easy to order things, isn't it? A few clicks of your mouse and your order arrives at your door in a couple of days.  Anyway, my middle son told me about a good site to actually check before you click that "purchase" button to see if the reviews on products are real or if they have just been written by the seller (and his or her friends and family). It analyzes the reviews by looking for paid reviews and suspicious patterns and provides a letter grade for each thing reviewed. Last year (before we knew about this site), my husband ordered some socks and they weren't the greatest even though they had tons of stellar reviews. Sure enough, when we checked the site after our purchase arrived, they had an "F" rating! If you would like to check your own Amazon purchases out on Fakespot, just click here to get to their site. All you have to do is copy and paste the URL of the item you are considering buying into the search box and watch for the rating to appear. I hope this helps!

I'm heading up to my mom's again on Sunday for a few days, but I hope to catch up with your blogs when I return. She has been blessed with a lot of guests lately. My middle son visited her in mid-November and my oldest son and daughter-in-law will be flying in from California right before they arrive at my house for Christmas. I love how my entire family is pulling together for her! Wishing each of you a very Happy December--busy days ahead, but it's always such fun to be surrounded by the spirit and magic of Christmas. Thank you all for taking the time to visit me today--and a special thank you to those of you who take the time to comment! I do read and appreciate each and every one! Bye for now...

Monday, November 19, 2018

A time for thanks

Why, hello there!  Happy Thanksgiving week to all of my readers here in the U.S. Are you ready for your feast? We are going to be in Ohio for our family's get together this year so I only have to provide a couple of pies, an appetizer, and a tray of cookies--all things I love to make! What does your holiday entail this year? Are you hosting? Going all out with a traditional turkey dinner? Or maybe keeping things simpler this year? I do enjoy the feeling of family that Thanksgiving brings. Compared to Christmas time, there is not as much decorating, no gifts to buy, no hustle and bustle--it's just so nice to simply sit down together to share a fine meal and give thanks. 

In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving I have a couple of seasonal stitching finishes to share with you today. This first finish, called "The Lord's Blessing" by Imaginating, was a long time coming. Here's a little story for you that goes way back to the late 1990s. While shopping at a local TJ Maxx, I happened upon a little plaque with the following quotation: "Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way."  I didn't buy the plaque that day, but I did take time to write down the saying as I thought it would be perfect to use on a piece of cross stitch some day. And, you know what? I carried that little scrap of paper in my wallet for many, many years as a reminder to always be hopeful and grateful--that blessings will be coming my way when I least expect them. 

Flash forward to 2018. It's one of those days when you just don't know what to stitch next... I began leafing through my notebooks of charts (I file them by designer) and came upon "The Lord's Blessing" and immediately knew I had found the perfect piece to incorporate that quotation that had been haunting me for the past two decades. And here is the result!

A Thanksgiving finish

I stitched this on 40 ct. burch Newcastle (yes, that is how "burch" is spelled on the 123 Stitch website!). The only DMC colors I changed were the ones on the pumpkin and the larger diamonds on the border: I used DMC 975 and 3826. The original chart had the words GIVE THANKS in large letters with "For Family, Friends, and the Lord's Blessings" underneath so it was easy to chart it out. Not so easy to get it centered--hence the little heart stitched to the far right! ♥

I changed the wording of the sentiment

From doing a bit of research (once a librarian, always a librarian!), it appears that this is a traditional Native American saying. How appropriate for this time of year given the history of what is often referred to as the "first Thanksgiving" celebrated in New England in the early 17th century. I love the hopefulness of this saying--it prompts me to remember that no one knows what lies ahead, but that there will surely be blessings, both large and small, coming into your life.  I will probably be framing this one, but it would also make a nice larger pillow--we'll see!

Love the acorns in this piece!

My second Thanksgiving finish is one I stitched way back in 2015--you can read about my finish in this post. The Cricket Collection's "Be Ye Thankful" is still readily available for purchase even though it was designed way back in 1997! I guess that shows  you what staying power this design has. Anyway, I'm trying to use up the frames in my stash and didn't have one that fit just right. So I decided to sew a piece of gingham (from a dishtowel) to the linen and add a piece of gold handmade cording to the seam for a better fit. I really love the final finish--it is very simple and doesn't overwhelm the pretty stitching. I look forward to having "Be Ye Thankful" on display at Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come.

"Be Ye Thankful" framed and ready for Thanksgiving

Missing my monthly ornaments? If you've been wondering about my monthly Christmas ornament status--yes, I'm behind! I have October, November, and December all stitched, but not finished. I hope to get at least two of them done this coming week so check back soon! And then, there will be my annual "Parade of Ornaments" in a December post--I can hardly believe that time of year has arrived again, can you?

A surprise gift! After returning from my third trip to New York  (in five weeks!) to help out my mom (who is doing much better--thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts!), I found a surprise package from one of my readers who wants to remain anonymous. She said she was "destashing" (something I need to do, myself!) and came across two charts that were just "so me" so she wanted to pass them along. Isn't that sweet? Thank you so much, my friend--I really look forward to stitching the sweet beaded bee and the charming red house!

Gifts from one of my readers

Chart giveaway... In my final bit of stitching-related news, I'm having another giveaway! This one is for a beautiful patriotic Santa stocking chart (from Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine: July-August 2000). Isn't he handsome? But, I know I'll never stitch the stocking so I'm hoping to pass it along to someone who will. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments and please be a follower of my blog. Also, to make it more fun, please tell me the name of your favorite food at Thanksgiving. This giveaway is for three pages torn from an old 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, 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 this patriotic Santa stocking chart!

Ch-ch-ch-changes! For those of you who don't live in a climate with distinct seasons, I thought you might enjoy these photos taken just two weeks apart. This beautiful buck appears to be looking right across my front porch and into my dining room window, doesn't he? I just love this photo with the bright orange foliage and fallen leaves. If you notice, the antler on the left is missing some points compared to the fuller one on the right--not sure what might have happened!

Oh, "deer!" It appears he lost some of his one antler!

And just two weeks later, this is what we woke up to here in western Pennsylvania! A beautiful icy winter wonderland. This is my backyard as viewed from my upstairs bathroom window. There really wasn't much snow--but because of the ice it clung to every tree branch and remaining leaf making it look like a fairyland. It's all gone now as it warmed up over the weekend, but it honestly was a breathtaking sight while it lasted!

Our backyard simply glistened in the ice and snow last week

I truly want to thank each of you who reached out to me through your comments and by email after my last post. I had so many requests to keep my blog going and some wonderful compliments about my stitching, finishing, and writing style.  Believe me--if I decide to stop blogging--you will know about it. I am not going to be one of those bloggers who just disappears... I honestly consider you my friends and, when the time comes (and it will some day!), I will bow out with a fond farewell. So thank you all for taking the time to read and comment!

I'll leave you with a little throwback to the past--a vintage Thanksgiving photo from 55 years ago. How do I know it was from 1963? Well, my youngest sister was off-camera in a baby bassinet and she just turned 55 this fall! So, that makes me 8 years old in this photo--I'm the one with the headband (remember those?!) holding up a feathered Tom Turkey. My dear mother always ensured that we had quite the feast each year and I'm so thankful for the traditions that she began and I have continued with my own family. Because, after all, that's what Thanksgiving is all about, isn't it: family, friends, and food--and giving thanks for our blessings (both already received and those yet to come)!  Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! Bye for now...

Thanksgiving: 1963 style!