Thursday, October 29, 2020

Missing the sunshine

Well,  it's back to the reality of cold, dreary weather for me! Having missed the height of fall color in Pennsylvania while we were visiting my son's family in sunny southern California, I have to admit, it's been a rude awakening of sorts to come back to the rain and gray skies that have surrounded us all week. But, we had a safe trip out and back and a wonderful visit so, for that, I'm extremely grateful. To be able to fly out to visit my baby grandson twice since his birth in July is something I don't take for granted during a pandemic. We aren't sure when we'll see them again, but we sure made some wonderful memories while we were out there for three weeks. More about our trip further on in my post--for now, let's talk stitching!

As many of you long-time readers know, I haven't really decorated for Halloween since my father died on that day six years ago. But, the thing is, I still enjoy stitching a little bit of Halloween here and there. What do I do with these Halloween finishes if I don't decorate with them you may ask? Well, I simply tuck them away in a dresser drawer with the hope that maybe, some day, I'll feel like decorating again! Or, perhaps I won't and I'll just pass all my Halloween stitching on to my sons... 

Anyway, this was such a fun little piece to stitch. It is called "Halloween Screen" and is a chart from one of my favorite designers, The Drawn Thread. I think of all the Halloween designs out there, those by The Drawn Thread and The Prairie Schooler are my two favorites. I used the suggested Dinky Dyes silks for this piece on 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle linen. Love how the colors work so well together!

"Halloween Screen" finish

To finish this Halloween scene, I made a simple pillow with the palest yellow ric rak separating the black accent fabric from the stitching. A yellow handmade cording in the same shade as the moon was added to finish it off. I had to order the tiny button that forms the spider's body from Etsy as I've been avoiding going into stores. It came very quickly in a pack of ten so I have nine more for any future "spider bodies" that I may want to stitch! The bat is done with satin stitches which is something I love about The Drawn Thread designs--the use of various, relatively easy, specialty stitches adds so much to the finished look.

I love the "button" spider!

Another Drawn Thread design that I finally framed after stitching it four years ago was this sweet "Halloween House Sampler."  I made a few changes to the original design which you can read about in this post . I just love this one with the cute little children trick-or-treating at the haunted house. I wonder if they dared knock on the door or made a mad dash for home after spying the ghosts peering out from the windows and floating up from the chimney?

"Halloween House Sampler" ready for framing


As I mentioned above, I've been avoiding going into stores to shop (the only stores I've been in at all since mid-March are Trader Joe's a few times and once to Joann Fabrics), but, fortunately, I've accumulated a nice stash of thrifted frames over the past few years. I found a perfect one--except it was a brassy, gold color... Black chalk paint to the rescue! I put on two coats of it and then distressed it a bit. Here's the final result...

It fit perfectly in a 5" X 5" chalk-painted frame


Finishing this piece up, reminded me of a third Drawn Thread piece I had stitched back in 2014 called "Full Moon." I actually stitched this one five times--yes, five! I made one for each of my stitching retreat friends... I thought those of you who are new readers might enjoy seeing it and reading about my finish in this post. Finished in a pre-made black box which you can still purchase on Amazon, it is definitely one of my favorite finishes.

"Full Moon" finish by The Drawn Thread

And here are all three Drawn Thread finishes together. They really are such cute designs, don't you think?

There's just something so special about Halloween designs by The Drawn Thread!


I have one other finish to share with you--one that has been a long time coming! I first began stitching the Pittsburgh skyline below back in 2016 when my oldest son moved to sunny San Diego. The chart was actually a gift from my former manager at the library who has an Etsy shop right here. I stitched this "over one" on 28 ct. gold Jobelan with DMC 3799, changed the wording and font, and added some birds to the sky. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

A gift started four years ago is finally finished!

Although originally meant to be a Christmas 2016 gift for my son, it morphed into a 2020 anniversary gift for both my son and daughter-in-law who celebrated their third wedding anniversary earlier this month. Pittsburgh has special meaning to them because that is where they met when she was getting her PhD at Carnegie Mellon University (and, of course, we live there, too!). On the back, I added a message saying that no matter where they roamed, they would always have a place in Pittsburgh to call home. They loved it, I'm happy to say!

All framed up and now sitting in it's new home in sunny California!

On to our latest southern California venture... Once again, we flew out and quarantined in an AirBnB before moving in with my son's family. I have to admit, this quarantining during a pandemic while in another city is not fun. I mean all we could really do is go for walks--lots and lots of walks! At least we got our 10,000 (++++) steps in each and every day. Our AirBnB was located just across the street from Mission Bay so there were miles and miles of boardwalk to spend time on. I'll just share a few of the photos I took with you...

When you fly into San Diego, you fly right over the city which provides a great view of the buildings, water, and boats. It's a bit scary to be honest--you are so close to the buildings!


Sailboats on a foggy San Diego morning


You can barely spy the paddleboarders and palm trees through the mist

The sun usually burns through the fog each morning leading to a beautiful blue sky before noon.

Ah... that's more like it! Birds and boats and bright blue skies!

We did manage to take one outing with my daughter-in-law and grandson while my son worked. Wearing our masks, we went to the lovely San Diego Botanic Garden (which was named one of the country's top 10 botanic gardens in 2019 by USA Today) for an afternoon of fresh air and sunshine while being surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. It was so nice just to get out of our rental house and do something that felt normal again! There were very few people there so we felt safe and just relaxed and enjoyed our day. I've added a few photos from the garden below... 

My husband and I were dwarfed by this large tree

Just a few of the exotic flowers we spotted at the San Diego Botanic Garden

A pretty señorita covered in succulents in the Mexican themed garden

Often called a "Century Plant," this Agave Americana typically lives only 10-30 years and near the end of it's life, it finally blooms!

Strolling under a shady canopy of tall bamboo

That gazebo looks like a perfect place to relax, doesn't it?

After we moved in with my sweet grandson, it seemed to be one fun celebration after another... First of all, we celebrated my husband's retirement! Yes, as of September 30, 2020, he is no longer a working man (except for all those projects I have lined up for him around the house!). Of course, we couldn't have a real retirement party with the pandemic going on around us, so we had to, once again, resort to a surprise party via Zoom. Our sons joined us this way and all of our siblings sent cards. We do hope to have a real party one of these days, though--he worked so hard for 43 years and none of us would be where we are in life without him! 

Happy Retirement to my dear husband... it's the start of our next chapter together!

My daughter-in-law celebrated a birthday with a small socially distanced party in the park and received many lovely flowers and gifts. This birthday cake made of flowers was especially pretty! And, as mentioned above, my son and daughter-in-law celebrated their third wedding anniversary just three days later. Such a fun time of year for the young family!

A no-calorie flower cake! So lovely!


We also took the baby on his first trip to the pumpkin patch (more for us than him, obviously!). The sun was so bright that the poor little guy had his eyes closed in every single photo that we took outside, but we were able to find a nice, shady spot inside a tent to take a few photos with his eyes open. Look how big he's grown!

The cutest little pumpkin!

We even got to eat at a restaurant! Well, outside, spread far apart from others, but again, how nice to feel normal again for even a couple hours. I hadn't eaten at a restaurant since March 13th--seven months ago! It was lovely to sit outside, relax, and chat over good food while making funny faces and noises at Baby B to get him to smile. Speaking of the baby, you can imagine that I'm feeling as though I left a piece of my heart in California. I mean--just look at that precious little face... I cried when I left him and I just hope he doesn't forget us--although at this age I know he will, even with FaceTime. He's changed so, so much since our visit in July and just rolled over for the first time on Wednesday. He'll be four months old in just ten days--unbelievable how time is flying by...

Almost four months old already!


We arrived home to a few autumn colors still putting on a show in our front yard and that made it (just a bit!) easier (not really!) to leave the little fellow. With the rains this week, many of the leaves are now down--we'll be raking this weekend!

A bit of fall foliage was still remaining on our trees when we returned

So, there you have it--another California trip in the books. We are still keeping our fingers crossed that my oldest son's family will move closer to us one of these years! That trip across the country is grueling and I know as we get older, we won't be able to get out that way as much as we are able at this age...

Giveaway Winner... I had only a few entries for the two charts that I offered in my last post and the winner's name drawn from the hat is...

Jennifer Davis!

Jennifer Davis... you are the winner!

Congratulations, Jennifer... Please email me with your mailing address, (my email address is in my profile on the sidebar) and I will get the charts out to you next week. Thank you to all who entered...

New giveaway! For this giveaway, I've collected small pieces left over from the cording I've made through the years and am offering them to one of you (U.S. entries only due to shipping costs). There are 20 pieces of red, gold, green, and blue cording in lengths varying from five inches to thirteen inches. They would be perfect for adding as hangers to Christmas ornaments or embellishing a finish in some way. They are not long enough to go around a stitched finish (unless it is a teeny, tiny one!). To enter: 1)Please specifically mention that you want to enter the giveaway, 2) Provide your email address if I don't already have it, and 3) Answer the "Getting to Know You"  question below in your comment. This giveaway is limited to my blog followers only. I will draw a winner and announce it on my next blog post (hopefully, in mid-November). Good luck to all...

If you would like to enter this giveaway, please follow the directions above.

Getting to know you... It was such fun reading about whether or not you liked your name in my last post! Many of you, although not crazy about your name, preferred it to the alternatives your parents were considering when they named you. So, what shall we talk about today? How about: "If money were no object and everyone was able to travel safely again with no pandemic in sight, where would you travel? Would it be someplace close-by or somewhere more exotic.
My answer... I've always wanted to visit New Zealand! That was going to be our destination once my husband and I both retired, but, of course, COVID put a hold on those plans. The thought of that excruciatingly long trip worries me, but it is my dream to go there and spend a month before I get too, too old. From the photos I've seen and movies I've watched, the landscapes and natural beauty of New Zealand look absolutely stunning... so, hopefully, one day! Now, it's your turn. Where in the world would you like to travel? I'd love to get to know you better!

On to November... I know that many of us are feeling trapped inside as the cool weather moves in and the virus keeps raging around us. I'm especially thinking about my friends in Europe as new lockdowns begin. I'm sure our time is coming as well... I am so thankful to have my indoor hobbies to keep me relatively content. I can't imagine being someone who didn't have things like stitching, quilting, and reading to turn to during these trying times. 

Thank you all for stopping in to visit me today and a special thank you to those who take the time to comment. I truly appreciate (and read!) each and every one.  I owe so many of you emails and will try my best to visit with you soon. Don't forget to enter the giveaway if you are interested! Take extra good care now, my friends! Bye for now...