Monday, August 31, 2020

Finishes, flowers, and feathers

Good morning, my friends... How are you doing on this, the very last day of August? We survived another month of this crazy year, thankfully! I must say, I'm not looking forward to being trapped inside again as the cooler weather creeps in. I know many of you feel the same way... If you have to try to socially isolate, it's much easier to do so in the warm weather when you can at least escape into your back yard. But, life goes on... 

It's now been five weeks since my dear mother died. Is it getting easier? Well, let's just say I still haven't been able to make it through a single day without crying. Some days are "almost normal," some days are filled with memories that make me miss her terribly, and some days I feel like I'm just "going through the motions." But, I keep trying--I know she would want me to be happy, right? Your kind messages and emails have been so helpful to me... My mom loved my blog and read it religiously, including each and every comment. She honestly was my biggest supporter and always said, "You have the nicest readers and stitching friends, Care!" And she was right... Thank you for being here and bearing with me as I struggle to get back to my "new normal." 

I have four finishes to share with you today... Two were stitched in early summer, but I just finished them on Saturday when I had a burst of finishing energy. Finishing is not my favorite thing and I have to be in the right mood to even attempt it! I sure wish that mood would strike more often...

My ornament finishes for May, June, and July--finally!

Would you like to see each one a bit closer? For my May ornament, I stitched this whimsical Prairie Schooler piece from the Santa's Night leaflet (Book No. 175). I just love that lazy reindeer perched inside the sleigh eating a striped candy cane while Santa does all the heavy lifting--delivering the gifts and decorating the tree. 

"Santa's Night" finish from PS Book No. 175

This is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco with the suggested DMC floss. I added green gingham to the side with just a touch of white ric-rak peeking out. After adding the handmade cording, I glued a little accent with a jute bow, and some holly berries into the upper corner. 


My ornament finish for May

For my June ornament, many of you will recognize the adorable "Merry Mouse" from With Thy Needle and Thread, but have you ever seen it stitched up as an ornament? To accomplish that, I had to make it as small as possible so, once again, I stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco using a combination of overdyed and DMC threads.

Miss "Merry Mouse" by With Thy Needle and Thread

I knew I wanted a circular finish so I added a few more snowflakes to round out the pattern. A miniature white pom-pom was also at the end of the upside-down Santa hat, along with some frosty greens and a trio of dull brass bells. The size of this little mouse ornament ended up being a bit over 4 inches round--a bit large for me as I like my ornaments under 3 inches if possible. After all, I don't have much room left on my Christmas tree after all these years of stitching an ornament a month, do I? Anyway, I think it is adorable!

Isn't she sweet in her little apron?


As for my July ornament, I stitched this beautiful Prairie School angel in memory of my mom who died on July 24, 2020. My mom was an angel on earth and I know she's singing with the angels in heaven today. I stitched this piece "over one" once again, on 28 ct. black Monaco (so glad I bought a supply of it years ago, because they don't manufacture it any longer!) with the suggested DMC threads. I didn't stitch all the lines on her face as I thought she looked a bit harsh. The dove that she is holding makes me smile to think that my sweet mother is now at peace...

♥ An angel for mom ♥

I finished this one in the exact same manner that I did the other Prairie Schooler angel that I stitched back in 2019--with a simple buttery yellow cording and satin bow. These angels are so intricate that that's all you need. I like to let my stitching be the star of the show as I've said many times!

My July Christmas Ornament

Here are both angels together--there is a third one in the booklet carrying a cornucopia that I will probably stitch some day, too. These designs didn't appeal to me at all when they first came out in 1993, but my tastes have grown and matured and now I can truly appreciate their beauty!


Two of the three lovely Prairie Schooler angels ready for my Christmas tree


Here is one last look at all three ornaments. Do you have a favorite? Have you stitched any of them yourself? I loved all three and I highly recommend them if you haven't!


I seem to be stitching a lot of ornaments on black this year!

I also stitched a pretty flower for Clare's Christmas tree at church. Clare, who lives in England, is collecting stitched flowers from all over the world which she plans on making into little pillow ornaments to adorn a stitching tree in her church at Christmas time. (If you would like to contribute a flower of your own, you can read about the donation process in her post. There is still plenty of time to stitch one and mail it to her by the end of October deadline--my flower only took a week to travel all the way to Great Britain! Amazing)! The pretty pastel colors in this anemone were a welcome change from all that stitching on black.  The design is from an older Reader's Digest book called "The Big Book of Cross-Stitch Designs." It was charted for French Knots in the flower's center (lots of French Knots), but I am hopeless at them so I chose to stitch colonial knots--much easier with nearly the same look!

A sweet anemone stitched for Clare's church tree in England


I was so touched by all of your sweet comments about my new (not-so-little!) grandson. I'm pleased to say he is growing by leaps and bounds, smiling now, and becoming a true "little man." I'm so thankful that we were able to fly out to visit him in California when he was still a newborn... I would have missed out on that very short window of inhaling that sweet newborn fragrance and cuddling that helpless babe in my arms. They truly do grow up way too quickly and my little guy no longer resembles the tiny baby we said goodbye to one month ago. Thankfully, we have another visit planned for October. Already counting the days!

We received this adorable pillow from college friends to celebrate our finally becoming grandparents!

Life without mom... I am still struggling with the fact that she is truly gone. Sometimes, I just imagine that she is still sitting up in her apartment in New York waiting for my next visit. But, then reality hits... Her apartment is now empty and waiting for a new occupant at her senior living facility. But, you know what?  I still talk to her--is that weird? I walk around inside my home (getting my 10,000 steps a day in) and have weekly "conversations" (admittedly, one-sided!) with her. I tell her about everything that's happened with me recently, fill her in on my sons, the baby, how I'm holding up. I cry (a lot!) during these conversations, but I feel like it helps me. Do any of you do this? My own kind of therapy, I guess...

I forgot to share these lovely flower arrangements that I received in memory of mom while I was in California in July. I was so touched by the kindess of so many...

This lovely white arrangement in memory of my mom arrived from my brother-in-law and family when we were in California

And this blue and yellow flower arrangement came from my daughter-in-law's brother and his family

I received many, many heartfelt cards from friends and family--and many from you sweet blog readers. Thank you so much! Annie stitched the pretty card in front surrounded by the blue background, and Meg made the card with the photo of me and my mom on it on the far right. Her card included the sweet paper hearts that are strewn on the table in front of the cards.

Sympathy cards brought so much comfort


Many of you have asked if the female cardinal was coming around bringing me mom's love. Well, yes, but, I don't think that is "her bird" like the male cardinal is Dad's. You see, Mom loved hummingbirds more than any other bird. I had even stitched one for her... She had several hummingbird-related trays and decorative pieces scattered through her apartment, hummingbird stationery, and she even had hummingbirds on her china! I remember sitting on the patio at my childhood home watching the hummingbirds whiz back and forth as they fed at the coral bells each summer. Such fascinating little creatures...

Sadly, we haven't had hummingbirds in my yard in a good number of years. When we arrived home from California in early August, I kept seeing tons of sweet yellow American goldfinches, which was a surprise as we hadn't seen many all summer. So I began asking myself, "Is that my message from mom?" 


One of the many American goldfinches I've seen since mom passed

Then a couple weeks ago, I received the card below from my Instagram friend, Jen. She said she chose it because the yellow goldfinches were "bright and cheerful, just like your mom (and you, too!)." Isn't that sweet? Well, the very next day after receiving her card, I was walking aimlessly around the yard (looking at the very sad state of our lawn which has received next to no rain all summer) when a bright flash of yellow caught the corner of my eye. I wandered over to the flower bed just outside my kitchen window and there on the ground was a lone yellow and black Goldfinch feather. 

A lovely goldfinch card from Jen and a goldfinch feather found the day after

Coming across a feather after a recent death has often been said to be a message from your loved one, hence the old saying "feathers appear when angels are near." Different colors of feathers have different meanings and after doing some research, I discovered that a yellow feather represents joy and happiness and that your angel wants you to enjoy life, slow down, and be more mindful of the present moment. I just know that my mom sent this special yellow feather my way!

The day after the feather appeared, my husband said to me, "Care, I saw a hummingbird outside the kitchen window today and it appeared to be looking for food!" Honestly, we hadn't seen one in years. So we immediately got the old hummingbird feeder out of storage, mixed up some sugar water (a ratio of 1/4 cup sugar to one cup of boiling water--no dyes!!), and hung it up. Lo and behold, the hummingbirds have been coming ever since! I think that yellow feather was my message to slow down and pay attention to the little things in life. And, sure enough, many little blessings in the form of teeny hummingbirds have been visiting daily.

Love the whirring buzz of the hummingbirds as they visit our pretty feeder

Now when I see a cardinal, I'll think of Dad and when a hummingbird visits, I'll smile for my dear mom... How blessed I was to have had two such loving parents!

♥♥♥ The cardinal and the hummingbird ♥♥♥


So, that brings me to this week's "Getting To Know You" section. My question is: "Have you ever received a sign of a loved one visiting? A feather, a coin, a fragrance? Something else?" I'd love to hear about your experiences! If any of you would like to read more about the meanings of different colored feathers, here is a good article to check out.

I'm still planning on doing a tribute post for my mom soon. Just need to gather my thoughts and some old photos together, but that will be coming up in September (hopefully!). I'll leave you with a very special sunset from Saturday night. We rarely see sunsets here as our house is set down in a valley, but, for some reason, the sky was putting on a show that even we could see that night. Looks like pink cotton candy pulled across the blue, doesn't it?

A cotton candy sunset!

Thank you for visiting me today--and a special thank you to those who take the time to comment. I love reading each and every one! I'd also like to welcome my newest followers--so glad you are here. As always, I'm happy to try to answer your questions, just be sure to include your email address so I can get back to you. Wishing you a wonderful September ahead--let's hope and pray for some good news on the Covid-19 vaccine front before winter sets in! Take care now, my friends! Bye for now...

Friday, August 14, 2020

The highest of highs and the lowest of lows

Hello all... it's been a while, hasn't it? I really don't even know how to write this post as part of my month of July spent in California was so wonderful and the other half was just plain sad...

But, let's start with the happy news, okay? I am a grandma!! Yes, my precious little grandson arrived in this big, crazy world on July 8, 2020 weighing in at 7 lbs. 1 oz. From the time we found out about the pregnancy back in November 2019, my husband and I were bound and determined to, somehow, get out to California to meet this newest family member. With the COVID-19 virus and all the restrictions that accompany it, we discussed many options. Should we drive, should we fly, should we take a train? I mean we live nearly 2500 miles away from my son and daughter-in-law--on the other side of the United States! We finally decided that flying would make the most sense with all the sanitation methods they are now using in airports and on planes. So we flew out in early July with the intent of quarantining in an AirBnb for two weeks and then, when the baby was due in mid-July, we would move in with my son and daughter-in-law for the last two weeks to help out. Well, the baby arrived a bit early so we weren't there for his homecoming, but I think it was nice for the new little family to have some time to themselves. By the time we were able to move in with them on the 16th--they were more than ready for some extra arms to help out!

Oh, I am hopelessly in love with this dark-haired, brown-eyed bundle of baby. I honestly could have held him all day (and pretty much did!). He is so alert and interested in the world already--even at one month old! I now understand what all of you grandmothers out there have been talking about... You have an entirely different perspective as a grandparent than you had as a parent. For one thing, you have more time and patience (not to mention years of experience!) to give to a grandchild. On Instagram, I posted the photo of my darling grandson  surrounded by a collage of some of the lovely La Jolla, California scenery we saw on our walks during our quarantine time. It truly is a beautiful part of the world--and I'm just a bit biased, but I think it got even more lovely since this sweet boy made his appearance!

My first grandson sleeping like an angel

While in quarantine at the AirBnb, I was able to personalize the birth sampler that I shared with you in my last post. My son wants to limit my grandson's online exposure (which I totally understand) so he agreed to one photo which I posted above and on Instagram. (He has since said I could post a couple more which you'll see below). For privacy, I've blackened out the name in the sampler and will simply be calling him "Baby B" for now.  I used a free alphabet font I found online and added the birth date along the giraffe's neck as well as the baby's weight, length, and time of birth underneath the baby's name. Baby B's parents chose a jungle animal / sloth theme for his nursery so I think this sampler fits in perfectly. I just may have to find something with sloths on it to stitch as well!

How cute are all those smiling creatures!

Luckily, I had a thrift store frame in my stash which was the perfect size so I painted it and added the green gingham fabric to a piece of sticky board before we flew to California. Once I had added my grandson's details, I mounted the stitched piece on sticky board that was padded with batting, attached some green ric-rac to the back of the stitching, and glued the entire thing in the center of the green gingham fabric.

Baby B's birth Sampler all finished up: "Zoo Line-Up" by The Trilogy

I'm very pleased with the finish and by the looks of the photo below, three-week old Baby B loves it, too! On the back of the frame, I wrote a personal message to my grandson and part of it mentioned that my hopes for him in life are that he would always be as "Reliable as a Rhino," "Loving as a Lion," "Happy as a Hippo," "Enthusiastic as an Elephant," "Zealous as a Zebra," Sincere as a Swan," "Personable as A Penguin," "Patient as a Panda," "Grateful as a Giraffe," and "Adventuresome as an Alligator." I have no idea if these traits apply to each animal--I just wanted adjectives that started with the same letter as the animal!

I think he likes it!

My grandson received two beautifully hand-knit blankets, one from my blogging friend Barb R. in Michigan and the other from my sister-in-law, Peggy in Ohio. Aren't these gorgeous? I really should teach myself to knit! A handmade baby gift is so special, isn't it? Something the grown "baby" can someday pass on to his or her own child when they become a parent. I still have some of the blankets that were knit for my first son when he was born and plan to use them for my grandson when he comes to visit... Thank you both so very much for the lovely blankets and for the love and thoughtfulness you knit into each one!

Beautiful blue baby blanket from dear blogging friend Barb R.
Another lovely baby blanket in shades of blue, green, yellow, and white from my sweet sister-in-law, Peggy

Who knew that new grandparents receive cards and gifts, as well?! As if that sweet baby wasn't the best gift ever? It touched our hearts to know our friends and family shared our joy. We had waited for a grandchild for so, so long, I'm sure all of my friends and relatives are very relieved that they won't have to hear me whining about not being a grandmother any longer. My husband received a cute coffee mug from my son and daughter-in-law and I received this lovely necklace engraved with a compass. The note from my daughter-in-law said that I was their compass and thanked me for my guidance. So sweet... They also gave us the cute "Welcome To Grandma and Grandpa's" sign. The Willow Tree statue of a grandmother holding up her grandson and the cute picture frame are from local friends.
Who knew Grandma and Grandpa get gifts, too?!

And just look at this darling pillow, my friend in Spain, Edit, made for me! I love it, Edit. That was so sweet of you to stitch this for me! But, watch out--I never run out of things to talk about when it comes to my grandson. This is a Lizzie Kate design that Edit finished into a darling pillow--and her handmade card is lovely, too. Thank you so much, my friend!
Cute Lizzie Kate Pillow from Edit!

Can you tell I'm in love? Such a cutie pie with those dark expressive eyes! And that hair! Oh, my... I honestly could sit and gaze at him all day. Below, is my favorite photo of us taken by my oldest son. The joy on my face says it all!

Pure Joy!

Sadly, our happiness and excitement over the birth was tempered by two events. Yes, the day I had been dreading for so long occurred on July 24, 2020. My dear mother passed away just 16 days after the baby was born. You see, she never fully came back from her near-death experience in early May. My middle sister and I had taken turns nursing her back to health in May and June and she was even released from hospice as she was doing so well. But, I could tell that on June 20, the last day I saw her as I drove away from caring for her in New York, that she wasn't back to her old self and probably wouldn't be. I honestly believe that she held on for so long to be able to see my grandson born. She knew that this sweet baby would help ease the pain of her death for me. And he has--somewhat...

I still miss her desperately, though, especially now that I'm home from California and don't have the baby to distract me. I have so much more to say about my mother's life--and death, that I will be doing a separate tribute post to her. She was my very best friend in the world whom I miss each and every day. I am just too tearful to put everything down into words right now. In the meantime, here is a collage of photos of her very special life--a life that touched so many with that beautiful smile of hers...

Mom's smile lit up the world for 93 years!

Unbelievably, just two days after my mother died, my dear daughter-in-law, the mother of my then 18-day-old baby grandson, lost her own father to Covid-19. How cruel life can be sometimes... This sweet 32-year-old woman lost both parents within 4 months of each other in what should have been one of the happiest periods of her life--the pregnancy and birth of her first child. I just have to shake my head and sigh at the unfairness of life sometimes... Both her father and my mother were able to FaceTime with us and see the baby a couple of times. My mother pronounced him the "most beautiful baby ever" (although, I'm sure she said that about each of her great-grandsons!). And my daughter-in-law's father was all smiles as he greeted his newest grandson on the screen. Just a few days after the final FaceTime session, both were gone...

I don't know... I'm really having trouble processing all of this sadness, but thank goodness dear Baby B is here for us and gives us hope for the future.

Thank you all for visiting me today--I've missed all of my blogging friends and hope to get back to visiting your blogs and commenting very soon. I've done very little stitching--just don't seem to be in the mood, but I know I need to go back to it as it does bring me such peace. I'll be back again before the end of the month--in the mean time, hold your loved ones close, try not to fret over the small things in life, and always remain hopeful. Some days it is harder than others, but there is always hope. Bye for now...