I've lost my heart to the beautiful new "Songbird's Garden Series" by Cottage Garden Samplings! I can't remember when I enjoyed stitching a piece as much as I did this sweet cardinal pair... Even though, it was one of the most stitch-dense pieces I've ever done, it just came together so beautifully... Very little ripping out of stitches, very large, easy-to-read color chart--a true pleasure to stitch! I began this one on the first day of January 2019 and just finished it up last week--and believe me, I spent multiple hours stitching it--almost every day! But, just look at the result of "Forever & Ever."
|Forever & Ever finish|
I so love the designer's use of color! I questioned things when I first looked at the shades of floss on their own, but went ahead and used the suggested colors and I'm so glad I did. Look at these gorgeous Christmas Roses (commonly called Hellebores). Aren't they stunning? I've never seen a Hellebore in person and wonder if they would grow in our cold winters here in western Pennsylvania. Of course, even if they did, ours would promptly be consumed by our marauding band of deer!
|Such soft pinks and greens!|
And look at this tiny house--just so sweet and so unexpected nestled on the flower stems. Each of the eight designs that have been released so far has a miniature house!
|Little pink houses (for you and me?!)|
But, it is the Northern Cardinals themselves who are the stars of this design... I love the stylized nature of their bodies with the swirls and ovals--really striking, aren't they?
|True love--Northern Cardinal style!|
My finished piece ended up being 8 inches square and was stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle linen. I plan on stitching more charts in this delightful bird series this year and using the same linen for each. They are all the same size and I think they will look wonderful framed individually and hung as a group. Are any of you stitching this series? Which bird is your favorite? I am having a hard time trying to decide which to stitch next--they are all so beautifully designed!
|The first of many finishes in this series (I hope!)|
As many of my long-time readers know, cardinals hold a special place in my heart. This wasn't always the case... Oh, I've always admired them as the beautiful birds they are and I love the fact that they mate for life. But, I didn't develop a deep caring for them until soon after my dad died in late 2014. I first mentioned that special cardinal in this post from January 2015--just a bit over two months after his death. And then in this post from a month later, I described learning about the meaning of cardinals and just how much peace I felt when I saw that cardinal sitting atop the tree on that snowy January day. A blogging friend had written to tell me about cardinals being representative of a loved one who has passed. Suddenly, the feeling of peace and contentment that I got as I gazed at that cardinal made complete sense.
Flash forward four years and I see cardinals on an almost daily basis. Sometimes, I just say "Hi, Papa!" and go about my way. Other times--usually when I'm anxious or stressed, I talk to them and tell them of my worries and thank them for visiting. (Do I sound like some sort of weirdo?!) Anyway, all I know is that cardinals have brought me so much joy and comfort since that day in January 2015 and as soon as I saw this chart, I felt compelled to stitch it...
|A bright red male cardinal on a snowy winter day|
|Aren't they striking against the snow?|
|Vibrant red male on the left and the fawn colored female on the right... I almost always see cardinals in pairs.|
|Can you spot the female? She is well camouflaged within the branches of this woody shrub.|
More goodies! My middle son's girlfriend celebrated her birthday recently and I wanted to make a special treat for her when they came over for Sunday dinner. I didn't want a large dessert so I simply googled "small batch cupcakes" and was surprised to find so many recipes for four or six cupcakes. I ended up making this one from "Celebrating Sweets" and it was very tasty. The recipe made six cupcakes (I think I could have gotten seven or even eight from the batter, though)--chocolatey goodness with a bit of brewed coffee added to bring out the chocolate flavor.
|Some birthday cupcakes prettied up with tiny chocolate hearts! (The directions for making them are also on the blog that I linked to).|
I also made the vanilla frosting found at the bottom of the same recipe, but it seemed to only be enough for four cupcakes (I do like a lot of frosting on my cupcakes, after all--don't you?!). So, what to do about the remaining two naked cupcakes? Well, I found a delicious recipe for peanut butter frosting on a blog called "Peas and Crayons" which you can find right here. Even though I halved the recipe to make only enough for two cupcakes, there was way too much! There was easily enough for four cupcakes... But, the extra frosting didn't go to waste :) (And my treadmill had the pleasure of my company for a lot longer than usual on Sunday to make up for my indulgence)! Anyway, everyone enjoyed them very much and it certainly was a birthday for my middle son's girlfriend to remember! Our power went out due to the 60 mile per hour winds that we were experiencing (along with much of the rest of the mid-west and northeast!). Really crazy weather patterns this year, that's for sure.
|Peanut butter and chocolate! What could be better?|
I've finished stitching both my February and March Christmas ornaments, but don't have them fully finished so I'll share those with you next time. Until then... thank you all for your extra kind comments on my Valentine's finishes in my previous post and all of your love for my sweet mom--she appreciated all of your sweet words. Yes, at age 91, she reads my blog each time I post and is always so complimentary--not only of my writing, but of all of your sweet comments... She reads each of them, too! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead and I hope the month of March brings lots of love and luck your way! Bye for now...