Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A cross-stitch Christmas tree!

My tree is up and, although I fully expected that my little grandson would have totally rearranged the ornaments by now, that hasn't been the case. He's been much more interested in the vintage Little Tikes 1980's era refrigerator and oven/microwave/sink play kitchen that I have set up for him on the opposite end of the sunroom. I'm so glad I saved them from when my sons (who were all born in the 1980s) were little. They were pretty dusty from being in the attic for thirty years, but lots of soap and a little elbow grease made them sparkle like new. And my tree still stands! Here is my cross stitch Christmas tree for 2021...

2021 Christmas Tree

I always put the smaller ornaments up near the top and the bigger ornaments at the bottom

I did end up leaving most of my Prairie Schooler Santas in the Pottery Barn cubby, but a few made it to my tree

I've now moved my newest 12 ornaments to my tree, too. 

Can you spot the five Little House Needleworks buildings that I've stitched so far? I am definitely going to add to that series in 2022!

On my tree you'll see everything from cute to traditional.

It's so wonderful to relax in my sunroom and just gaze at my tree...

... especially at night!

This is my favorite photo of my sunroom and the Christmas tree at night

It's hard to believe that another year is winding down. We all had such high hopes that Covid would be conquered by now... at least I know I did! Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. But, I am extremely grateful that all three sons will be here--the first Christmas since 2018! My youngest just returned from a trip to Iceland and I was sure he would get Covid on the flight back to Washington DC on Sunday. But, he took a rapid test, and is driving home as I write this. I am so thankful! 

I've received some lovely gifts from fellow stitchers around the world and I'll share those with you in my next post. I hope to be back at the end of the month with one last post for 2021, but with my family visiting, I'm not sure I'll get around to it. We'll see...

I want to wish all of my stitching friends, fellow bloggers, dear family members, and blog readers a truly wonderful Christmas. It may be another low-key Christmas for many, but I hope you are still filled with at least some of  the wonder and excitement that can be seen in the eyes of a young child at this time of year. I dare you not to smile when you look at this little cutie holding his very first Christmas stocking as Grandpa was adding another hook to our mantle to hang it up alongside the others. Merry Christmas to all! Bye for now...

"Look! I got my very own stocking and it has puppies on it!" (Or "puppos" as my 17-month-old grandson calls dogs :)



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2021 Parade of Ornaments

Can it really be time for another of my annual ornament parades? I mean, seriously! Where did 2021 go? It seems like I was just writing the post for my 2020 "Parade of Ornaments" and... whoosh! Twelve months have flown by. I have to say that last year I was so hopeful that we would be done with this Covid mess by this time. Sadly, it seems that it may be haunting us forever in one form or another. Sigh... Thank goodness we have our stitching to bring some sanity and a sense of peace to our lives, right? 

Would you believe that the "Parade of Ornaments" began for me way back in 2010? That was the first year I posted my newly-minted dozen hanging from the garland on our staircase and I've been doing so ever since! Is it hard to stitch 12 new ornaments each year? Not at all--especially when  you have lots of company. This year, for the very first time, I led an ornament stitchalong on Instagram using the hashtag: #12in21ornamentstitchalong. It was very well received and I got to know so many nice stitchers from around the world. Plus, it helped me stay on task and complete my own ornaments in a timely fashion! I've had many folks tell me they really admire the way I finish and have even told me they end up finishing their ornament in the exact same way. I don't mind that at all--I'm honored that I can inspire you! (I always appreciate it, however, when you credit me for your finishing inspiration when you do imitate my finishes).

So, let's get started... the weather here in Pennsylvania is gray after three gloriously sunny days. Not the best day for a parade, but the temperature will be in the 50s today so I'm not complaining! Anyway, sit back, relax, and enjoy the parade! I hope you find a bit of inspiration somewhere along the way...

The 2021 "Parade of Ornaments!"

How about a closer look at the 2021 parade participants?

January ~ March 2021

April ~ June 2021

July ~ September 2021

October ~ December 2021


Once again, I had no theme to my twelve... half were oval or round finishes and half were little pillow finishes. And as you can tell, my choice of what to stitch is very eclectic! From the classic Prairie Schooler Santas to the adorable stack of Christmas mugs to the whimsical children (not so) patiently waiting in their beds as Santa visits below--I really love them all. How about you? Do you have a personal favorite? Here are close-ups of each month; study them a bit more and let me know your favorite in the comments section below. I'd love to know! (And for anyone wanting specific information on fabrics, threads, changes, etc., just click on the title of the ornament in the caption below each photo and that will take you to the specific post for each finish).


"Old World Santa" from Prairie Schooler Book No. 80


"Merry Friends" by Plum Street Samplers


"White Christmas" by Ewe & Eye & Friends


"2021 Annual Prairie Schooler Santa"



"St. Nicholas II" from Prairie Schooler Book No. 36


"Night Before Christmas" by Birds of a Feather



"Miss et Mister Snow" by Tra La La



"Winter's Song" by Plum Pudding Needleart



"Old World Santa" from Prairie Schooler Book No. 82



"Winter Saltbox" by Melisa at Pinker 'n Punkin



"Sweet Christmas" by Whitehouse Stitchery


"Joy" by Luminous Fiber Arts


So, which one makes you smile the most? I'm having a hard time picking just one, but, I think November's cute little gingerbread boys peeking out of the stack of Christmas mugs wins my vote this year. That sweet Tra La La snow couple from July is a very close second, though. 

This year, I added a sweet little vignette of wrapped packages and a small tree next to the staircase. I saw the idea on Pinterest  last year and immediately filed it away for future use. The smallest package wrapped in simple brown paper is a book for my sweet 17-month-old grandson: "Baby Touch and Feel Merry Christmas." I'm still working on his ornament for this year, but it should be all finished up by Christmas morning. Oh, how I'm looking forward to seeing the excitement in his sweet brown eyes on December 25th!


Here is one last shot of my foyer at night... a bit hard to see the ornaments, but still lovely.

Love the soft glow of Christmas lights...


So how did you enjoy this year's parade? I hope you loved it as much as I loved stitching and finishing each of those little ornaments. If you would like further inspiration, please click on the dates for past parades--I think you'll find that my finishing has come a long way over the years, too! I really try to make each one the best it can be so there is a wide variety on my tree... Hopefully, I've succeeded! Here are the links to all of the parades from years past that you may wish to check out: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020Enjoy!

I've finally finished decorating my tree and will share that with you in my next post. When I was pulling out the ornaments this year, I realized just how many I had stitched on black. And I also realized that those tend to be my favorites (but, shhh... don't let the other ornaments find that out!). The colors just look so bright and cheery on the black background, don't they? Many are stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco, a few on 32 ct. Belfast linen, and a couple of the oldest ones are done on 18 ct. black Aida.

Love my ornaments on black the most of all!

Why am I addicted to ornament stitching? I suppose it's the almost instant gratification that comes from the process. You stitch for a few days, finish in a day, and you're all set. No running around trying to find a frame or sticking it in a drawer waiting to finish it "some day." But, there are also the memories attached to the little ornaments... This year, the June ornament makes me distinctly recall being in Florida and fighting to do even a handful of stitches a day due to my issues with vertigo. The July snow couple reminds me of my July wedding anniversary--44 years this year! And the five Little House Needlework "Hometown Holidays" finishes (stitched on black in the photo above) remind me of the small home town where I spent my growing up years (note to self: you really need to add to that series next year!). So many memories in each carefully stitched ornament...

I so appreciate you cheering me on in my ornament journey each month. It really was wonderful having so many stitchers joining me in doing a monthly ornament in 2021. I hope even more of you will consider joining in on the fun for 2022... Enjoy this last ten days before Christmas! I still need to get a couple of gifts in the mail and finish sending my cards, but, other than that, I feel like I'm in great shape for my family's visit. Take care now, my friends! Bye for now...

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Christmas Stitching and Farewell to a Friend

It's December--can you believe it? And I've already finished the last of my 2021 monthly Christmas ornaments--can you believe that? Normally, I'm struggling to get that final one finished by mid-December, but this year I took the smart approach and chose a small, easy chart to stitch during this very busy month. This sweet design is a freebie by the talented Misty Pursel of Luminous Fiber Arts fame. If you are a subscriber to her newsletter, you'll be able to receive her charming design--you can sign up right here by clicking the red box at the top of her website. This is called "Joy" and is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. (Many stitchers ask me where I get the black Monoco. Unfortunately, it is no longer available and I'm still relying on the large one-yard piece I bought years ago). 

"Joy" by Luminous Fiber Arts

It's hard for me to get a good photograph on black, but, trust me--this is lovely in person! The silk I used is "Rubbed Magpie" by Hand Dyed Fibers. It's the prettiest variegated blue! In this case, I worked backward and chose the finishing fabric--a cute blue and black check--first. Then I chose the blue thread to coordinate with it. I had an idea in my head of how I wanted to finish this ornament from the very beginning and I'm very pleased with the final outcome. 

Love the long "tail" on this one!

I didn't add the stitches that were charted inside the letter "o" because it is stitched "over one" and it would have been too crowded. However, I did add three sparkling Swarovski crystals. I had the glittery blue and silver ribbon in my stash so I made a simple bow, attached a snowflake charm, and surrounded the outer circle with black cording and a long "tail."

Swarovski crystals add a fun bit of sparkle, don't you think?

How is everyone's Christmas decorating coming along? I've been enjoying doing a little bit each day rather than rushing through it and stressing out. I redecorated the small three foot tree that sits on our bookshelves above the television in the family room. It was looking pretty worn out after 20+ years so I removed everything and started from scratch. Red and white has been calling my name at Christmas for  the past couple of years, so I simply tied on some red and white gingham ribbons and added a few white lacy snowflakes from Target (which are years old).

A refurbished 3 foot tree in my family room

I have had the sweet gingerbread boy and girl ornaments for years, too, and I didn't want to part with them. So I removed their old hangers and attached new ones made of bright red ribbon printed with snowflakes and polka dots. The tiny, round glass red and white ornaments were purchased from Target last year. Love the stripes and dots--it's such a fun little tree for our small family room and casts a nice glow while watching television in the evenings.

Here's a brighter photo of the tree taken while I was working on it in my kitchen. You can also spot my snowman tree in the back corner.

Although our large tree is up, it is not yet decorated. I heard a ruckus in the room we now use as a nursery the other day and discovered that the Prairie Schooler Santas had had just about enough of being kept in that white under-the-bed storage box for the past year. They were not happy with me at all! So, my solution was to free them and display them in my Pottery Barn cubby! I can't tell you how much this display makes me smile--I wish I had thought of this years ago. 

Pure Prairie Schooler!

Do you have a favorite from these 29 handsome fellows? I think number 27, number 11, and number 18 are my top three. But, you know what? I truly love them all! Here are a few close-ups for you...



I always leave the middle cubby space for my mom's silhouette. This year I added a tiny white Santa to keep her company (along with those sweet ceramic shoes that were part of her childhood shoe collection). I miss her so much, but this time of year is especially hard... 

So, what do you think? Should I leave them here in the cubby or move them to my tree? In all honesty, my tree is getting "just a bit" crowded with cross-stitched ornaments so I may move half of them and leave the others here... we'll see!

Thanksgiving was wonderful, although we were missing my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and grandson who went to El Paso, Texas to celebrate the holiday with her family. Thankfully, they'll be here in just two short weeks to spend some extended time with us. In my previous post, I mentioned that I only had to provide cookies, pies, and the strawberry-pretzel salad for our family feast this year. Here are the baked goods I made--nine kinds of cookies (of which I froze half for Christmas) and two pies. Can you guess what the favorite cookie is in our family? Why, it's those yummy Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies on the blue plate in front. This is the recipe I've used for years: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

I wonder how much sugar and butter I used to make these?!


Many of you asked about the mysterious sounding strawberry-pretzel salad that I made, too! Well, it is not really a salad, but that's how we've served it at our Thanksgiving feasts for over 25 years. Here is a link to the recipe: Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe. With it's bright red strawberry top layer, this makes a great side dish for Christmas dinner, too. And yes... I'll be making it again in a few weeks!

A sad farewell... Sigh... now I've reached the part of this post where I know I'll cry. In fact, I already am... Many of you have heard about the passing of our dear friend, Meg, from Live To Stitch. Although we knew her death was imminent based on her final post in August, it is still hard to believe that such a kind and generous and downright decent person is no longer here on earth. Meg started writing her blog in 2017 and in her last letter to me in late September, she told me that I was the one who inspired her and gave her the courage to start her blog. I was so touched, but I have to say that you, Meg--you are the one who taught me (and many, many others) so much about courage. You faced your diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer with such dignity and bravery. You were the inspiring one--in fact you still are. 

Meg sent me this lovely Christmas ornament in 2019. Not only is it beautifully stitched and finished, but Meg designed it herself! Oh she was so extremely talented in many, many creative and artistic ways. She then generously offered this design to anyone who wanted to stitch it in  this post from December 2019. If you would like to stitch this in honor of Meg, I think it would be wonderful... you can find her chart and instructions right here


My Christmas gift from Meg--2019

I mailed a Thanksgiving card to Meg in very early November--I think something told me that she might no longer be with us on the actual Thanksgiving. She passed away on November 19, 2021 leaving her beloved husband and son. She was only 48 years old... In my final note to her, I thanked her for her friendship, her inspiration, and, most of all, for her all-round kindness. I told her I would never forget her--and I won't. May you rest in peace, sweet Meg...

Please visit Meg's blog to see more of her beautiful work and read her inspirational posts...


I think this is a good time to sign off for now since my tears are making it hard to see the computer screen clearly. I do want to thank you all for your well wishes for my rib injury. It's definitely on the mend and I can now sit reasonably well. I am still having trouble sleeping on my left side (which is, of course, the side I normally sleep on!), but I'd say I'm about 80% better. 

I also want to thank you for all of your sweet comments and emails. My mother always said that I had the kindest group of commenters--I have to agree. I love hearing from you and, even if I can't always respond, I hope you know how much your friendship means to me. I think my friendship with Meg was indicative of how close the cross-stitching community is on social media. She was nearly 20 years younger than I am, but we had the bond of stitching tiny x's in fabric to create something beautiful and lasting... something for our loved ones to remember us by long after we're gone. Wishing each of you a peaceful December. Bye for now...

Day is done... December 2nd, 2021

Monday, November 22, 2021

Random thoughts in late November

Can you believe it's almost time for Thanksgiving here in the U.S.? I think, for many of us, this year's feast will look a bit different than that of 2020. I remember last Thanksgiving sadly sitting alone with my husband as we ate, not a traditional turkey, but a simple chicken breast, a photo of our far away family members propped on the table. It was a hard day... the first Thanksgiving without my beloved mom and without anyone other than my husband to help me get through it. Thankfully, this year more and more families will be reunited to give thanks for our blessings once again! I'm excited to be traveling to Ohio for dinner at my niece's house (and pretty excited that I am not hosting it this year, if truth be told!). What are your plans? 

This time of year my stitching always seems to take a back seat to baking, decorating, Christmas card writing, etc. But, I did manage to get my ornament for November done. As soon as I saw this adorable design with the cheery Christmas mugs stacked three high and the smiling gingerbread boys peeking out, I knew I had to order it from Whitehouse Stitchery on Etsy. You can see what the original chart looks like, and purchase your own copy if you're interested, right here. I used my favorite 40 ct. Newcastle linen--this time in a new-to-me color called "Water Green." It's the prettiest shade and I love how Christmas colors look on it.

"Sweet Christmas" finish for my November ornament

I did make a few changes to the colors and rounded out the gingerbread boys' heads a bit more. I also stitched only half of the charted design to make it ornament sized. And because I wanted an oval ornament, I added a few snowflakes to both sides to shape it. It's hard to see, but there are red beads representing berries  next to the holly in the top mug. As there is so much going on in this design I kept the final finish quite simple merely adding white cording and a red and white gingham bow and hanger. I've always loved gingerbread boys and this one truly makes me smile each time I look at it.

Such cute little grins on the gingerbread boys!

I've also made some significant progress with my Prairie Schooler "Christmas Village" which I first shared with you in this post. At that time, I had only two of the nine houses stitched and now I'm up to five so I think I'm about at the half-way point. I feel like I could stitch those little trees at the top in my sleep by now, but they are a good thing to work on while watching television. I honestly can't tell you how much stitching this piece relaxes me. Even those long, solid roofs don't bother me! That's Prairie Schooler for you! Just the best!

Progress! About half-way done!

Randomness... thoughts on what I've been doing, reading, watching, baking!

*** Who else is watching less and less network television?  There just seems to be nothing that captures my interest these days. I've been turning more and more to Netflix and Hulu and have been really captivated by the Dopesick series on America's opioid epidemic (on Hulu) and  Maid (on Netflix)--a fictional account of a young, single mother who takes a job at a cleaning service while trying to raise her child and navigate the confusing legal aid system. And I finally watched the delightful Lark Rise to Candleford series on Hulu... Oh, if they would only make more shows like that one--love the characters so very much. The British do know how to make such charming series!

*** YouTube favorites... Unlike many of you, I'm not a Flosstube watcher. I find most of them move way too slowly for me and they're much too long! But, I've discovered several fun decorating/thrifting/makeover type YouTube channels that I enjoy ever so much. Do any of you watch: Canterbury Cottage, The White Cottage Company, She Holds Dearly, or Jessica Giffin? I enjoy all of these women because they are working within a budget and trying to recycle/reuse when they can--talk about creativity! Anyone else have recommendations?

*** Of course I've been baking for Thanksgiving--I've made nine different kinds of cookies so far, freezing half for Thanksgiving and half for Christmas. These are the goodies I whipped up this morning--so light and flaky. Not to mention--they have raspberry jam in the centers! My favorite! You can find the recipe right here. Do roll the balls of dough in sugar before baking and pressing the indentation for the jam--it makes that process much easier. 

"Evelyn's Christmas Cookies"


*** I've read several very good books lately! Meet Me at the Museum is a charming tale (told in letter form) of an older couple whose relationship develops through correspondence. A first time author at the age of 70, Anne Youngson, created a very sweet story with such memorable characters. I've read many Susan Meissner books and have enjoyed most, but this was my favorite to date: The Nature of Fragile Things is set in San Francisco and weaves a tale of mystery, romance, and female friendships during and after the great earthquake of 1906. Finally,  Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer takes on a very difficult subject--postpartum depression. It's hard to read at times, but explores a subject that definitely deserves more attention and discussion. I'd give each of these 4 1/2 stars out of 5! Can anyone else recommend a must-read book?

***I've been bit under the weather since we last talked... The reaction I had to my Covid Booster on November 10th caught me by surprise as I'd had nothing but a sore arm and mild tiredness with the first two shots. This time I experienced chills, a fever of 100.6°, and general body aches. BUT... I'm so glad I had it as I feel safer going to Thanksgiving and traveling again. On top of that, I somehow injured my lower left rib area when we were visiting my grandson. Oh, it felt like I was being stabbed every time I coughed, sneezed or laughed. And rolling over in bed or simply sitting in my stitching chair was pretty painful, too! I didn't know if I had broken a rib, bruised a rib, or torn a muscle. Since it is starting to feel much better ten days in, I think it was the latter. How did it happen? Um... roughhousing with my grandson and picking up and carrying a 27 pound toddler surely had something to do with my injury. I really need to be more careful given that I have osteoporosis... sigh! 

*** Decorating... Since we aren't having Thanksgiving here this year, I did very little in the way of decorating other than putting out a few of my cross stitched pieces. I did decorate my mantle, though, with a collection of copper pieces, candles, and white pottery. I really love how warm and cozy it looks on these cooler autumn nights. I also convinced my husband to bring the boxes of Christmas decorations down from the attic last night so Christmas decorating will commence on Friday--I can't wait!

My decorated mantle with my blue stitching chair on the right

Some of these copper pieces belonged to my mom which makes this display even more special


Speaking of mom, below is a throwback photo to Thanksgiving 1963. I think my siblings and I are being Native American Indians (apparently none of us wanted to be Pilgrims!) and entertaining my parents before dinner. My middle sister is wearing a headband with what I'm sure are turkey feathers because there was a large turkey farm down the street from us. My brother is beating on a drum while I imagine I (sporting those "lovely" short bangs my mom used to cut for me!) am, most likely, making some sort of Indian whooping sound. Probably totally politically incorrect in this day and age, but that was life in the '60s! My dad was the photographer and my youngest sister, just a couple months old, was, most likely, asleep in a nearby bassinet. Such nice memories... My mom always made sure that our holidays were very special and now, being a mom myself, I know how much work goes into that process! I don't think you can truly appreciate all that a mom does until you become one yourself...

A 1960s-style family Thanksgiving!


So, it's time to end this longer-than-expected post! I hope you know one of the things I'm truly thankful for is all of you. Honestly! I have such a nice group of readers and commenters--I hope you know how much I value your friendship and love hearing from you. As I've said many times, if only all the world could be as supportive and loving as the stitching community, it would be a much better place. I wish all of my U.S. stitching friends a blessed Thanksgiving with your families. And I hope all of my international readers have a lovely last week of November. Do take care now, and I'll see you in December! Bye for now...

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!