Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The end of a month like no other...

What day is it again? If you're like me, the days seem to be simply running into each other--one day seems just like the one before to the point where I really have to stop and think, "Is this Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... ???" This seems to be our "new normal" for a while--quite a while, I think. This COVID-19 pandemic has me unable to settle--I flit from one thing to the next and I can't maintain my focus on anything. I haven't left my house in two weeks since self-quarantining after our plane flight on March 21st. I've walked out onto my patio a few times on the rare occasions when the sun was shining, but that's it. We are not supposed to be out at all in our area except for "life-sustaining" purposes (getting groceries, visiting the doctor, etc.). How are you all coping? 

Thank goodness I have my stitching and other hobbies to enjoy at home and keep my mind off the increasingly dire reports on the spread of the virus. I try not to look at the news, but, it's hard not to be drawn into it at the same time. As my youngest son said, this is probably one of the few times in history that the entire world is on the same side, fighting the same battle.

I thought you might like to see a couple "pretties" today to give you a break from dwelling on that "thing" that has consumed our lives... I actually finished this piece in early March, before things got so worrisome. "Be Happy, Humble, & Kind" is a design by With Thy Needle and Thread stitched on 40 ct. vintage country mocha using a variety of overdyed threads from my stash.  The colors were what first drew me to this piece along with the sentiment.

"Be Happy, Humble, and Kind" finish

I changed the color of the man's face, hands and legs to DMC 950.

A beautiful, big white house, but I'd hate to wash all those windows!

Being "happy" may be a bit more difficult these days, but better days will come again!

Be Kind:  one thing we can all practice--no matter what is going on around us!

The latest issue (Spring 2020) of Punch Needle and Primitive Stitching" Magazine has so many adorable charts. I was immediately drawn to this robin sitting on his beautiful blue eggs. It is designed by Subrosa Designs and is called "Bless Our Nest." The original design contained the words "Bless Our Nest" below the basket, but I left them off.  One of my favorite linens, 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle was used--love the way the white shows up on it! I changed all the suggested colors except for the brown on the robin's body, which is Weeks Dye Works "Cocoa." The blue eggs are stitched with Dinky Dyes silk in "Aquamarine"--aren't they lovely?

I so enjoyed stitching this one and see more robin stitching in my future!

I changed the color of the flowers to white and added yellow Rhodes-stitched centers using Dinky Dyes "Aussie Gold." I also wrapped the vine around the basket handle rather than stitching it all behind as was charted.

And here is my final finish--cording made of the same blue silk, a gauzy bow held together with a strip of the aqua blue gingham fabric that I backed it with. I stuck in a few berries in yellow and white, too.

I just haven't been motivated to get out any of my stitched bunnies this year--hope I can make myself do so this week. This is ordinarily one of my favorite months to decorate with the pretty pastels of Easter and Springtime. I think if the weather warms up and the sun starts coming out, that will help immensely! 

We had horrid thunder/rain storms pass through on Saturday! Torrents of water coming down into our yard (which is on a low spot in the neighborhood) with overflow from our pond created this "river" in our side yard for a while and ruined some newly planted landscaping. Sigh... not what we needed right now!

A big storm turned our normally grass-covered side yard into a raging "river" last week!

Unfortunately, some of the new landscaping we had just put in last fall was damaged, too.

How are you managing your grocery shopping? We've been ordering online and picking up in the parking lot of the grocery store, but that is getting increasingly difficult. And you know the one thing we've had the worst time finding (no, not toilet paper!)--flour! Simple baking flour! I guess everyone is engaged in comfort baking these days--I know I am... Cookies, granola, and a new recipe for banana-carrot muffins have been baked here recently. We do have baking flour for bread so I plan on making some in my bread machine this afternoon.  I've included links to the banana-carrot muffin recipe and our favorite chocolate pudding recipe that also made an appearance last week (just click on the name of the recipe below each photo). If this keeps up, I'll come out on the other side of the pandemic having gained 20 pounds!

Easy Banana Carrot Muffins

Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding

It was such fun reading your answers to my "Getting To Know You" questions last week. It appears that the great majority of cross stitchers are introverts (which didn't really surprise me!).  And it was nice to read how many of us take refuge in our other "hobbies" of listening to music, exercise, working puzzles, reading, and gardening when trying to de-stress. 

So, what question do I have for you today? As always this is just a fun way to get to know each other better--no pressure to participate. Right now, the last thing we need is more pressure, right? 

1) What is your favorite comfort food?  Without question, mine is homemade bread with butter--more than chocolate, more than soup, more than macaroni and cheese casserole. I think part of the reason is that the thought (and that wonderful smell!) of just-baked bread takes me right back to my childhood. My Dad used to bake the most wonderful rye bread (two kinds, actually) as a form of stress-relief after long hours spent in the operating room (he was a surgeon). Simply imagining that bread brings instant comfort to me. (He eventually had to stop making it, though, as he was gaining way too much weight!). 

The days seem to be dragging on and on for me lately. Does anyone else feel that way? I hope that by the next time I post, we will be finding better ways to combat and contain the pandemic. I'm so sorry I haven't responded to your many emails and comments--just haven't felt quite like myself lately, as I'm sure you're feeling, too. I keep seeing scenes on fictional television shows and in movies of people doing "normal" things like eating in restaurants, going to movies and plays, and gathering with their extended families and I find myself feeling quite envious of the way life used to be! I know those days will come again sooner or later...  Take care now, my friends,  and thank you for your condolences and sweet comments in my previous post--they meant so very much to me. Bye for now... 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Stitching Shamrocks and Saying Goodbye

Happy St. Patrick's Day, my friends... I truly hope that you are all doing as well as can be expected during these unsettling times. Every day we are greeted with yet more worrying (at times, downright scary) news and updates regarding the coronavirus/COVID-19 which has affected every one of our countries. It appears to me, that it will have a far-reaching effect that will take our world a long time to bounce back from. Here, our schools are closed throughout the state, restaurants and bars are shut down (except for getting take-out food) and all non-essential businesses are closed for at least two weeks. My guess is that it will last even longer than two weeks... My dear mother is allowed no visitors in her senior living community and my in-laws are now required to eat in their room as there will be no communal dining time for the foreseeable future. How are things being handled in your country or state? 

In times like these, our stitching brings comfort, doesn't it? I can't imagine life without my needle, fabric, and thread--they truly soothe my soul during times of distress. I've finished up the four St. Patrick's Day designs from Pineberry Lane's "Little Shamrocks" chart. Each one stitched up very quickly and, I have to admit, the finishing took longer than the actual stitching.  They are stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen with most of the suggested threads, although I did change a few things along the way. Below is a little vignette I put together with my newest St. Patrick's Day stitching. I bought a set of the topiaries (shown on the left side of the photo) at the Target Dollar Spot and the white pitcher and two tiny cups adorned with clover were purchased at Goodwill last year. The moss "rocks" came from The Dollar Tree.

Would you like a closer look at each one?  Here you go...

"Basket O'Luck" finish. I added three small buttons,  a ribbon and silver shamrock charm to the flat mounted finish. For this one, all of the suggested colors were used.

Shhh... don't tell anyone, but "Sweet Clover Girl" is my favorite of the bunch! I turned her into a round ornament by eliminating the square border that was charted. I also change her face color to DMC 950 and gave her a shy little smile. I had this green and cream gingham ribbon that I thought finished her off perfectly with a big bow and ruched ribbon trim.

"Erin Go Bragh" was made into a simple pillow with handmade cording tied in a bow at the top. The faces on the women were changed to DMC 950, their dresses , shamrocks, and hats to DMC 580, and I also added a shamrock to the girl's hat on the left. Love how she is blowing shamrocks out of her pipe!
The final finish is called  "Wee Lassies" and is also finished into a small pillow with two different fabrics, ric rak, a cream colored button and a small tie of green jute attached to the button. The girls' faces were done in DMC 950 and I changed their mouths up a bit. I do love their red hair!
Here is one last glance at the quartet. Which one is your favorite?
I truly loved stitching these and even though I have not one ounce of Irish blood in me, they definitely make me smile! How about you--are any of you mostly Irish? 

Saying goodbye... This past week was a very difficult one for me as I said goodbye to two very special people in my life. The first was a wonderful co-worker of  many years who passed away just weeks short of her 90th birthday. We shared so many laughs and fun times at the library and she was probably one of the kindest, most generous people I ever met. Always there for you in a pinch.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend either my friend's visitation or  her funeral as I was down in Texas for yet another funeral. And this one was even more difficult. I can't help but cry as I write this... My dear daughter-in-law lost her mother at the very young age of 71. Although she'd been having some serious health issues for the past six months, no one expected this outcome so soon. So, in spite of our fears of flying with the coronavirus epidemic, my husband and I boarded two planes and flew down to El Paso, Texas. I think our presence truly brought some comfort to my daughter-in-law and I can only hope that she'll turn to me for the love and guidance she received from her own mother all these years. It won't ever be the same for her, but I promise to be there whenever she needs me--she is so very dear to our family. 

Flying was not easy... I am not a good flyer to begin with, but flying with the coronavirus fears is a different experience altogether. We wiped everything down in our seat area and tried our best to keep our hands away from our faces (not so easy when you are on two planes each way for more than eight total hours of flying time!).  I hope and pray that neither of us picked up anything on our trip! To ensure that I don't pass anything along, though, I'm staying at home for the next two weeks happily holed up with my stitching, reading, and baking. We have almost no food in the refrigerator, but have placed an order online and my husband will pick it up later today. He doesn't even have to go into the store as they will load it into the trunk of his car. We've never done anything like this, but I hope it is successful and I can shop this way more often!

Flying above the clouds felt like being in a cocoon. I almost hated to land and return to the reality of this rampant virus and all of the news pertaining to it. This shot was taken as we prepared to land in Chicago on Saturday night. 

GETTING TO KNOW YOU... Oh, I so loved reading all of your responses to my new "Getting To Know You" section questions! Thank you so much for letting me get to know you a bit more... I have to admit that some of your responses to the question of "What small living thing are you most afraid of" made me cringe--I mean maggots and earwigs! UGH!!! So, I have two new questions for you today. As always, this is just a fun way to get to know each other a bit better--participate or not, it is up to you. Of course, I'll give my answers to the questions as well.

1) Do you think of  yourself as an introvert or extrovert (or a bit of both!)? I don't think you'll have any trouble guessing that I'm an introvert. I am most happy in my own little world doing my own thing. I have always been quite shy and simply prefer my own company. Parties exhaust me and I'm always relieved when I can "opt out." After a social gathering, I need time alone to "recharge my batteries." I won't have any trouble self-isolating, let's put it that way!

2) What, besides your stitching, helps you relieve anxiety in stressful times like these? For me, it's exercising. I love to walk on my treadmill and if I don't do it daily, I can feel the anxiety building up inside me. Music helps, too--even more as I get older. It can take you back to easier times or bring back memories of happy experiences. Can't imagine life without either. How about you?

I'll leave you with one last photo I took in Chicago's O'Hare airport on our flight home from Texas. I think I'm behind the times, but look at one of the many receptacles placed in very plain view throughout the airport... 

Who knew?!?!
And that wraps up another post... I hope it's brought you a few smiles during this scary time we are all facing. Things are changing so quickly and it's hard to keep up with all the news. I truly hope each of you stays healthy and safe. We WILL come out of this on the other side! Take comfort in your stitching, call a friend or family member, read, pray, and do whatever helps relieve the anxiety. Bye for now...