Friday, January 31, 2020

Another January winds down

And, just like that, the first month of the new decade is over! How was your January? I've had a busy month between visiting my mom for five days and getting caught up on lots of doctor's appointments. It's always such a relief to have those out of the way, isn't it--those routine exams for this, that, and the other thing? Luckily, I checked out just fine (other than having to have a worrisome growth removed at my annual dermatology appointment) and I feel good to go for another year! I hate going to the doctor (even though my dad was one!), but I forced myself to get caught up with my various doctors this month and it is such a good feeling.

How is your stitching coming along? I've been working on a "behind the scenes" larger project which I hope to have finished to show you in February. When I'm doing a large project like that, I need to stitch a smaller project at the same time and my finish this month was another of the Little House Needleworks Hometown Holidays designs. May I present... the Firehouse, my ornament for January! This one, like the others in the series, is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. I used a mixture of the suggested threads and some of my own choices--when you stitch on black you have to make a few color changes to get the stitches to show up.

Little House Needleworks "Firehouse" finish

The Firehouse joins the other four in the series that I've completed so far:  Tree Lot, Main Street Station, Needlework Shop, and Grandma's House. (You can click on each building name to get more detailed information on these previous finishes). I had been using the Woolies Flannel checked fabrics to finish the others, but there was no coordinating shade of the rust color so I used a different Woolies Flannel pattern and think it blends in nicely. Do you have a favorite so far? I am a blue girl, so Grandma's House is mine. I still have 14 more in the series to stitch and all I know is, I need to do more than one a year if I'm ever going to finish them by the time I can no longer see well enough to stitch on black. So, you will be seeing at least one more finished this year (hopefully!).

My village is growing!
Five down--fourteen to go!

I also have a long ago finish that I finally framed! Yes, "Winter Circle" by The Cricket Collection was something I began in 2007 and finished stitching and beading in 2010. So, where has it been all these years? Stuck away in some dark, airless drawer (with way too many other "unfinished finishes!").  You can read about my 2010 finish right here. I'm embarrassed to say, I even bought the frame back then so it was just pure procrastination on my part that "explains" why I never got around to framing it. But, in a way, I'm glad I waited--I have learned so much about framing since then and I'm sure I did a much better job on it in 2020 than I would have done in 2010. As always, I used the framing tutorial that you can find right here on the With Thy Needle and Thread site.

Finally framed after ten long years!

I debated about whether or not to chalk-paint the gold frame, but in the end, decided to leave it as is--the snow people are so elegant with their top hats, turbans, and pretty feathered hats. I think they deserve a fancy frame, don't you? My finish is stitched on 28 ct. summer khaki Lugana with the suggested threads (because ten years ago, I would never have been brave enough to change even a single color!).  Just look at these cuties--do you have a favorite? Mine is the little chap in the yellow, maroon, and gray argyle sweater, but I do love Little Miss Red Riding Hood, too.

Isn't this the best-dressed group of snow people ever?

Here are some individual photos of each one so you can see them better. I think they would make very cute ornaments, too...

The attention to detail in this design is amazing!

Do you have a favorite?

When I was visiting my mom last week (who, at 92, is doing very well--thank you to all who ask about her!), I enjoyed seeing the older cross-stitched gifts that I have given her through the years. This is one of my very favorites... "Outside My Window" by Lynn's Prints which was featured in the 2005 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Magazine (stitched on 28 ct. glass blue Monaco with the suggested threads). I gave this to my mom and dad for Christmas way back in 2008 because I said it reminded me of the snowy winters in the tiny New York State village where I grew up. After my dad passed away in 2014, cardinals took on a new meaning for me so this piece is especially dear to my heart.

"Outside My Window" stitched and given to my parents in 2008.

Blog Anniversary! Interestingly, I stitched the cardinal piece shown above once more time and featured it in my very first blog post on January 24, 2009. So, yes, Stitching Dreams just celebrated its 11th anniversary a week ago. Who would have thought? I never dreamed of the ways writing a blog would open up my world: new friends and new experiences have walked through my door and my horizons have certainly expanded. There are very few readers still here from when I began blogging in 2009, but a few of you have been with me the entire way. So, I want to give a special thank you to all my readers--both old and new. Your wonderful, heartfelt comments and kind emails have encouraged me to keep stitching and to keep blogging. 

Another birthday has come and gone and I'm officially a senior citizen now. Bring on the discounts--I've earned them, right?! It was a quiet birthday, but I received many wonderful greetings from family and friends. I loved reading your cards, emails, and messages--thank you all!

There is just something so special about receiving a card in the mail!

I received two lovely birthday gifts from stitching friends which I want to share with you, too.

 June, in England sent a pretty garden-themed chart, some floss, and a bee charm for my birthday. Thank you so much, my friend!

 Karen, in Indiana, made this lovely needleroll for me. She says she has a collection of 50-75 of them! This is my first needleroll and I will treasure it--Karen's stitching and finishing is flawless--thank you so much, my friend!

Giveaway Winner... As you'll recall, I had a cute snow chart to give away last time and the name drawn from the hat is...

MARI  K.!!!

Mari K. is the winner!

Congratulations, Mari! Please email me (my email is in the sidebar under "A Bit About Me") with your full name and mailing address and I will get the chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy stitching it!

New Giveaway... And, in honor of those cute snowmen I showed you above in "Winter Circle," I have a new giveaway for the Glory Bee chart (shown below) called "Mr. Shivers" (don't you love that name?). This is an actual chart, not one pulled from a magazine. If you would like to win it, please: 1) specifically say so in your comments, 2) make sure to include your email address if I don't already have it and 3) tell me your favorite snack food. I have to admit I'm addicted to Hershey Kisses with almonds--to me nothing beats the chocolate / nut combination when snacking! The drawing will be open until February 12, 2020 and I'll announce the winner on my next post.

If you would like to be entered into the drawing for this cute snowman chart: 1) specifically say you want to enter the giveaway in your comment 2) make sure to leave your email address if I don't already know it and 3) tell me your favorite snack food!

Sharing a recipe... I hope some of you had a chance to try the Double Chocolate Biscotti recipe that I posted in my last post. We froze some and it is just as good coming out of the freezer as it is fresh. I'm down to my last piece now--will definitely be making more. I thought you might like to see another (bit healthier!) treat that I make at least twice a month. I've posted other granola recipes in the past, but we keep coming back to this one as it is so easy to make and has fewer ingredients than many.

Bet you can't stop with just one bite!

I found the original recipe here, but changed it up a bit so here is a copy of my version (you can click on the photo to enlarge it). I love it with yogurt, my husband likes a spoonful on his fruit and cottage cheese concoction, and sometimes, I just pop a handful in my mouth for some quick energy during the day.  Hope you enjoy it--let me know if you try it!

I hope February will be a nice, short month for all of us, because you know what follows...  S-P-R-I-N-G! I can't complain as we have had a real non-winter here... haven't even had to shovel snow at all. I have noticed a distinct improvement in my mood compared to previous winters, too. The milder weather has found me smiling more and having more energy. I love it! So, that's it for January 2020... Thank you all so much for stopping in to visit with me today and a big welcome to my new readers and to you first-time commenters. So glad to have you join us! Happy stitching everyone! Bye for now...

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A brand new year begins...

Happy 2020, everyone! I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start... I have a feeling this year is going to be a good one (even if I am turning into an official "senior citizen" when I turn 65 on my birthday on Thursday)!  As usual, my husband and I turned in early on New Year's Eve--we have rarely made it 'til midnight in recent years. But, for some reason, I couldn't get to sleep that night and was still lying awake at midnight when the fireworks began exploding outside and cheers from revelers burst into the previously quiet night. Suddenly, somewhere in our neighborhood, a tuba began playing the familiar refrain of "Auld Lang Syne." Yes--a tuba! It wasn't played well or loudly, but it brought me comfort and I truly felt like my dad was there wishing me a "Happy New Year." You see, that was his instrument--he played it not only in the high school band, but also in the army band in Fort Lewis, Washington in 1946-47. I smiled contentedly as I finally drifted off to sleep in the wee hours of January 1, 2020... it is going to be a good year!

Dad playing his tuba (sousaphone) in the army band at Fort Lewis, Washington circa 1946 or 1947.

Before I share the stitching gifts I sent to friends around the world, I want to thank you for your wonderful comments and emails you sent in reply to my last post. I truly felt the love and feel so blessed to be a part of this wonderful online stitching community (a fact that I've stated many times over!). I was so touched by your "thank yous" and your kind words... If you get a chance, read through the comments from this last post--I think you'll feel uplifted, too!

So, let's get things started--I sent a lot of gifts for Christmas 2019 (and, as always, wish I could have sent even more!) and they were all well received.  I'll share the photographs and the designer and any other pertinent information in a little parade of finishes...

This Prairie Schooler Santa is now living in Virginia at Stasi's house! He is from Book No. 62, "Kris Kringle" and is stitched on 32 ct. sage Jobelan with the suggested DMC colors. I love the snowmen on his robe, don't you?

This smiling snowman has now made his home across the pond in jolly old England with June. This is a freebie available on the "Stitching, Tea, and Me" blog post from July 15, 2016 (or I have a link to it in the "Favorite Freebies" list in my sidebar under "Snowman's Quaker Christmas"). This cutie was stitched on 32 ct. flax Belfast linen with Gentle Arts thread in the color "Crystal Lake."

One of my favorites, as evidenced by the fact that I've stitched this multiple times, is making his home in Texas with a new friend, Susan. Susan was a godsend to some family members earlier this year and I wanted to send her a small thank you! This is from Prairie Schooler's Book No. 51, "Christmas Past" and is stitched 'over one' on 28 ct. black Monaco with DMC threads.

You saw this last year when I stitched three of these Homespun Excellence ornaments called "Jingle, Jingle!" One stayed with me, one went to Robin, in Virginia, and another went to Cindy, in Virginia. This was stitched on 40 ct. vintage country mocha Newcastle linen with DMC threads which were changed to a Prairie Schooler color palette.

I stitched this little partridge from one of the Prairie Schooler mini-cards three times! This ornament went to Instagram friend, Tricia, in Indiana, and it is stitched on a new favorite linen: 40 ct. woodland Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads.
And the other two partridges were made into greeting cards and sent to Instagram friend, Claire in Canada, and stitching friend, Gabi, in Germany. I added a little bow to the front of the each card and thought it finished them off perfectly. Due to the high cost of international shipping, I sent cards rather than packages to most of my international friends.

Two more cards were made from the Hands On Design "Cranberry Christmas" chart. These were also stitched on 40 ct. woodland Newcastle using DMC threads and are now living with two German blogging friends: Manuela and Martina.

This 2018 Prairie Schooler annual Santa is now making his home with Meg in the lovely state of Idaho. I changed a few things on the chart--leaving off the words "Let It Snow" and adding more snowflakes instead. Isn't that little bunny adorable?
Last, but not least, this unique ornament is now residing with my oldest son and daughter-in-law in, where else, but San Diego! This is one of the city charts by Tiny Modernist and certainly reflects the bright, sunny, fun feeling of southern California!
 It is stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle with the suggested DMC colors.

Whew! That's it--well, almost. I did stitch an ornament for my middle son, but didn't quite get it finished in time for Christmas. Oops! Well, I'll share that with you (and him!) when I finally get it done... I truly enjoy making ornaments for gifts and I'm sure you'll be seeing more in the future!

I received a lovely gift of my own from my blogging friend, Jennifer at Quilting Mom's blog. Just look at this beautiful Christmas project bag she made for me! She wanted to thank me for the inspiration I've given her and made me a little bag for my monthly ornament stitching. As you can see, Jennifer, I'm going to fill it with future Prairie Schooler projects shown on the right. That was so sweet of you--thank you so very much! If you aren't familiar with Jennifer's blog, please go visit her--she does just about everything in terms of beautiful needlework and I find her work to be very inspiring, too!

Thanks so very much, Jennifer! Your beautiful project bag will come in so handy for helping me to organize my ornament stitching!

I've been doing a bit of winter decorating for the months of January and February. I love the soft simple blues and grays and whites of winter, don't you? After the hustle-bustle of the holidays, I relish the tranquil, sparse decor that I use in January. It seems to clear my head and be just the thing I need to start the new year with a clean slate...

I made this vignette in a galvanized tray to place in the center of my kitchen island--a bit of greenery, some miniature silver ball ornaments, a pair of glittery buildings, and a black metal snowflake lantern. It looks so pretty at night when the fairy lights are lit.

This corner of my kitchen cupboard always make me smile with the With Thy Needle and Thread January Wordplay finish and sweet Marjolein Bastin sled.

My son and his girlfriend invited us over for an early birthday dinner on Sunday and I got to visit with my "grandcat," Spike. Can you see why he is named Spike? He has a large "spike" of white fur running up in between his eyes. I do miss having a cat around the house, but with our travels at this stage in our lives, it is easier to not have a pet. But, at least I can see him now and then!

My grandcat--Spike! Such a love...

Speaking of cats, we finished the 1000 piece "Holiday Cats" puzzle that we began on Christmas Day. It was such fun and I think an annual Christmas puzzle is in our future.

And what could be better than a sweet baby photo! My youngest sister sent me this picture of my great-nephew, Oliver, reaching for the ornament that I stitched for his first Christmas... How adorable is he?!

Little Oliver looks like he wants to take a bite out of that gingerbread man!

Do you like biscotti? I've always wanted to try making my own, so I found a recipe for Double Chocolate Biscotti on the "Once Upon a Chef" site that had great reviews. Oh, my--it was very easy and tasted amazing--so crunchy and chocolatey. Just perfect with a cup of tea or coffee (only I don't drink either so I just eat mine with cocoa or water :)  For the recipe, just click here: Double Chocolate Biscotti. I think I may add some almonds next time and experiment with different flavors this year.

Double Chocolate Biscotti satisfies any chocolate craving!

Giveaway... I thought it would be fun to start off the new year with a small giveaway... Since we are getting NO snow here in western Pennsylvania this year, perhaps a snow chart giveaway will bring some our way (be careful what you wish for, Carol!). Honestly--I don't ever remember a winter like this--it was 70° here on Saturday. Unbelievable... Anyway, if you would like to win this cute chart (just two pages pulled from a magazine--not the whole magazine), please: 1) specifically say so in your comments, 2) make sure to include your email address if I don't already have it and 3) tell me what you are most looking forward to stitching this year. For me, I'm looking forward to adding to my little ornaments stitched on black in the LHN "Hometown Holiday" series. I plan on starting one this week and hope to add a couple more this year. The drawing will be open until January 29, 2020 and I'll announce the winner on my next post.

If you would like to be included in the drawing for this chart:  1) specifically say so, 2) make sure to include your email address in your comments if I don't already have it, and 3) tell me what you are most looking forward to stitching this year.

And, that's a wrap--my first post of 2020 done and dusted! I thank you for stopping in today, for  your kind comments, your inspiration, and your friendship. Let's make this a wonderful stitching year, my friends! Bye for now...