Thursday, May 28, 2020

Back from the brink

I'm still here--I hope you haven't given up on me! Hello, my stitching friends... so good to be back and a sincere thank you to all who emailed me regarding my absence from the blogging world. Much of my month was spent anxiously worrying about and caring for my mom. Although she didn't contract COVID-19 per se, she was almost certainly a victim of the effects of it in a different way. The isolation  and lack of hope (while living in her locked-down senior living facility) wore her down to almost nothing. In fact, things were so dire, that my siblings and I drove to New York State on May 2nd to say, what we honestly thought, was to be our final goodbye. Oh, it was simply heartbreaking because we weren't allowed into her facility and had to wear masks and keep our distance while out on the patio. Still, we all broke protocol and gave her hugs as we tearfully said our farewells that Saturday. 

BUT--and it's a HUGE BUT... the director of the senior living facility, sensing that her life was in serious jeopardy, gave permission for me and my siblings to move in with mom (one at a time) to care for her. And you know what? With the one on one care, magic of the human touch, and unmasked smiles and encouragement from her kids, mom has come back from the brink... My sister (who lives closest to mom) took the first 10 day shift and she and I have alternated since. Each day mom is eating better, drinking more water, taking her medications, and responding to the love of her family. We are all so relieved! Thank goodness compassion was chosen over rule-following in this case or I know mom would no longer be with us.  Anyway, I'm leaving the month of  May in a much better state of mind than when it began...

On May 14th, Mom celebrated her 93rd birthday and I was the lucky child who was staying with her during that period. I had stitched a special gift for her and, with her health the way it was, had become increasingly worried that she would not be alive to receive it. But, thankfully, that sunny May morning I was able to give her a gift bag containing her favorite Stonewall Wild Maine Blueberry  Jam, two boxes of Walker Shortbread, and this darling stitched bird perched on a floral wreath.

Mom's 93rd birthday gift

This design is from the April 2018 issue of "Just Cross Stitch Magazine" and is created by Lucie Heaton. Since there are no local stores open to shop for frames right now, I turned to my stash of Goodwill thrifted frames and found this square brown one that fit the bill perfectly. The piece is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with the suggested colors. As most of you know, I am a blue girl and so is mom and the shades of blue in this are just delightful ranging from the palest baby blues, to turquoise to a dark indigo. And, who can resist that sweet little bird?

Luckily, I had this pretty frame in my stash of Goodwill finds!

I had picked the bouquet of lily-of-the-valley, periwinkle, pink columbine, and grape hyacinths before I left to be with my mom in New York on May 11th. Lily-of-the-valley always remind me of her because they bloom in mid-May and I used to decorate her birthday cakes (as a child) each year with the delicate white flowers and purple violets... Such happy memories.  

Just look at those shades of blue!

After pinning and framing the stitching, I like to cover the back of my framed piece with scrapbook paper and add a little tag if it is a gift.  This is the tag that I designed and added to the back--it's just printed on heavy paper and cut out with fancy scissors. It simply makes the gift a bit more special and personal, don't you think?

The back of my gift for mom

Mom was very touched by my gift and I was so relieved to be able to give it to her in person. Below is one of my favorite photos of us taken about this time of year back in 2016. We both look "just a bit" older now--ha ha! I remember this photo so well because my husband was taking our picture and neither mom or I could stop giggling for some reason. I love you so very much, mom! Happy 93rd Birthday!

Mom and me in 2016

I haven't felt like stitching my Christmas ornaments since this pandemic shut everything down, so I had to force myself to catch up a bit with my creations for March and April. Of course, I turned to my favorite comfort stitching designer--Prairie Schooler. For March, I stitched the 1991 annual Prairie Schooler Santa. This is a perfect example of how my tastes have changed through the years. When this design was released in 1991, I had no interest in it at all! But, fast forward to almost 30 (gasp!!) years later and I can see the beauty in it. Just look at all of those details... the pattern in his robe, the fruit in the bowl and the bag on Santa's back, and the piece of fruit sticking out of his pocket. Really, such a wonderful design.

1991 annual Prairie Schooler Santa finish

I finished this one the same way that I've finished other recent annual PS Santas... a checked red backing fabric, DMC 221 cording, and a little bow at the top. Love it! Most of the suggested DMC colors were used on 40 ct. Vintage Country Mocha Newcastle linen. I did substitute DMC 520 for the suggested green and darkened the lines in the pineapple a bit using DMC 869.

Such beautiful details in this one!

I forgot to take a "before" photo of  my April ornament, but I know you'll all recognize this as yet another Prairie Schooler Santa finished in an oval shape. This Santa, with the dove of peace perched on his shoulder, is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen (can you tell I love Newcastle linen??!!). It can be found in the "Kris Kringle" leaflet (book no. 62). I had stitched this one before, but gave it away for a Christmas gift so this one will be staying right here with me.

Prairie Schooler Santa from the "Kris Kringle" booklet

Two more Santas will adorn my Christmas tree this year.

GIVEAWAY WINNER... I'm so sorry to be late with the winner of the giveaway for this pretty red house sampler. I just haven't been home enough to post or to comment on blogs, but I hope to start doing so soon. Anyway, the winner of the chart is...

Jackie--you are the winner!

Congratulations, Jackie! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this out to you as soon as possible! Stay tuned for another giveaway in my next post--and thank you so much to all who commented and entered.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU... I've so enjoyed reading your responses to this fairly new section of my blog and I feel like your responses are helping me know my readers a bit more! So, here is today's question:  

1) What one thing would you change about yourself if you could? Well, in addition to wanting to be taller (I loved being short in high school, but hate it now!), the main thing I'd love to change is to be less shy. I've been shy since childhood and I know it has held me back in life by being too scared to speak up or being afraid to try new things. Starting this blog back in 2009 was a huge, huge leap of faith for me. In fact, people who know me well are very surprised that I blog. I'm so glad I did, though--I've "met" so many delightful people both in person and online. So, now it's your turn: what one thing would you change about yourself if you could?

Spring was cold and damp here in western Pennsylvania... But, because of that, the flowering trees and shrubs were simply lovely and the blooms lasted much longer than normal. Below, you can see some of the signs of spring in my yard and a very upset deer glaring at me through the window wondering why "his" bird seed has been all eaten up! The photo of the newborn deer in my blog header was taken by me way back in 2007. The sweet fawn was born in some tall grass next to our pond and I remember being so worried that the mother had abandoned it. But, no... I've since learned that mother deer leave their fawns for a while to protect them. Babies don't have a scent and the mothers do, so she purposely walks away for a while to lure potential predators from the newborns.

A western Pennsylvania spring: 2020
Two of our resident deer--the one in front is unusually light in color.
I had to laugh when I looked out and saw the fancy pattern the lawn guy left in the grass when he mowed our backyard! I guess he must have been bored or something!

I've been craving comfort foods--especially breads--during the pandemic lockdown so I tried a new recipe. I was very skeptical about how cinnamon-raisin bagels with no yeast would taste, but they were surprisingly good--and very easy to make! You can find the recipe for them right here. I'll definitely be making them again!

Very easy no yeast, no boil Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

I'll leave you with one last photo that is sure to make you smile. This is my "grandcat," Spike, exploring my middle son's new card catalog. To say I was jealous of my son's find is a bit of an understatement... (I mean I am a librarian after all!). This whole thing (missing one drawer) was only $70 and is made of heavy, good quality maple. Oh, how I would love to have something like that to store my floss in--wouldn't that be great? I'm not sure my son even knows what he's going to put in all of those little drawers, but I'm sure he'll come up with something. He's going to try to match the wood and create a false drawer front for the missing drawer in the lower left corner and it will be as good as new.  I know Spike is most appreciative of his new "toy!"

You've run out of "steps," Spike, you silly kitty!

Please forgive me for not answering emails or commenting on your blogs during this extremely stressful month. I really do hope things return to normal soon. I'm leaving for my next ten day visit with mom next week so I may be out of touch again. Please know how very much your sweet comments, support, and friendships mean to me--they truly do. Thank you all so very much! Bye for now...