Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Finds and a finish

Whoa! What's going on here? Two posts from me in only 9 days?! Well, I just had to share my newest finish with you right away because I truly love how it turned out... This design is from my friends at Twin Peak Primitives and is a limited edition kit called "Stitcher's Soul Journey." (The kit is currently sold out, but they hope to release it in chart form sometime in the future). I shared the photo of the entire kit  and of my start on it (using 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle linen) in this post from April 14th. 

"Stitcher's Soul Journey" finish

 

Isn't it sweet? And you know me, I just had to change it up a bit and add my personal touches to the design. As you can see, the main change I made was to omit the verse ("Mend thy soul with needle and threads") because, although I love the verse, I saw this as more of a patriotic or summer piece so I simply left it off. I also converted the DMC threads to similar overdyeds from my stash, added some specialty stitches (satin stitched the grass and the thread on the spools), and sprinkled a few smyrna and eyelet stitches in the centers of the flowers. 

I changed the colors to overdyed threads and added some specialty stitches

 

I think the border is especially pretty in this charming piece--and I do love those patriotic colors! I found a thrifted frame in my stash that I chalk-painted (Waverly Inspirations "Plaster" color) and distressed, added a backing of royal blue gingham cut from a thrifted man's shirt (washed, of course!), and glued some white ric-rak around the edges. Simple, but oh-so-pretty! This will decorate my home all summer. Thank you again to my dear friends at Twin Peak Primitives for the wonderful kit--I so enjoyed every stitch! Please check out their Etsy shop right here for many, many more beautiful designs! 

A pretty summer addition to my patriotic decorating!

So, how many of you love finding bargains in thrift stores? As I mentioned, both the frame shown above and the blue gingham backing fabric came from my local Goodwill. I hadn't been in a thrift store since March of 2020 when Covid began spreading so quickly. But, being fully vaccinated, I recently paid my Goodwill a visit in early May and, boy, did I find some gems! A beautiful blue and white piece of Polish Pottery, two pretty beaded frames in a pale yellow, and a very fun child's play car all hopped into my shopping cart. Would you like to see my finds? 

A woman at the Goodwill store actually stopped me and asked if this $3.98 tray was Polish Pottery. I told her I didn't know--that I just loved it 'cause it was blue and white. She picked it up out of my cart, checked the bottom, and said, "Yup! You got a great bargain!"

These pretty beaded, pale yellow framed flower prints were only $2.98 each. They look perfect in my bathroom!

My favorite find that day was this Fisher Price "Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car" that cost $5.99. When I got home I was shocked to learn that it sells for $60! I can't tell you how much fun my little grandson (who turns 11 months old today!) had with it during his visit--the sounds, the songs, the little activities... it kept him entertained for hours and he loved simply crawling in and out (and over!) it!

I don't always find something when I go to thrift stores, but that visit was special. I also bought a lot of children's books for 79¢ each (as if I hadn't saved enough from my own kids through the years!) and a couple of little ghost votive candle holders. But, thrift stores aren't the only way I find bargains... Over the years, I've been known to pick up little "treasures" (my husband doesn't quite agree with that description!) that my neighbors have put out on the street for garbage pickup.  This little rolltop desk was my favorite find from something a neighbor had left by the side of the road and my youngest son used it in his bedroom for years.

Yes, I found this sweet children's rolltop desk sitting out for trash pickup years ago. Why, oh, why wouldn't they donate it to a charity rather than throw it out. It is my favorite "rescue!"


So, that brings me to this week's "Getting To Know You" section: Do you enjoy going to thrift stores, yard sales, and such? And what are some of your favorite finds? My answer:  I grew up with a mom who loved a bargain so I think that is where my love of thrifting came from. When my kids were little, I would haunt yard sales every Saturday morning picking up books, clothing, and toys--many of which were cleaned up and given to my sons for Christmas and birthday gifts. They never knew the difference as I always bought things which looked brand new. It was never a matter of not having the money for new things--just the thrill of a bargain!  So, how about you? Have you found anything really special at yard sales or thrift stores?

Thank you so much for your answers to my last "Getting To Know You" question in my previous post... I really enjoyed hearing about all the career aspirations you had as children. No one seemed terribly unhappy with what they ended up doing in life which was nice to read, too. 

Giveaway... With summer upon us, that means the 4th of July and lots of red, white, and blue stitching. Would any of you like to stitch this pretty design called "Patriotic Quilts" from the August 2007 issue of  "The Cross Stitcher" magazine? If so, here are the guidelines: 1) Specifically mention that you want to enter to win this chart, 2) Include your email address, if I don't already have it, and 3) Answer the above "Getting To Know You" question in your comment on this post. I'll draw a name at random and let you know the winner in my next post at the end of June, okay? Good luck to all!

If you would like a chance to win this quilt chart, please follow the directions above! Make sure to leave your email address.


 

Giveaway winner from my previous post... I had quite a few people entering to win the Cricket Collection "Wooly Mittens" chart that I offered in my last post. The winning name pulled from the hat is...

 NDAVIS! 

Ndavis--you are the winner!

I'm not sure of your exact name or where you live, but congratulations Ndavis! Please contact me via email (my email is in my profile in the sidebar) with your mailing address and I will get this chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy stitching these cute mittens--I may have to stitch that Santa moon one soon, myself!


A small public service announcement... UGH!!! We are having an epidemic of deer ticks which cause Lyme Disease here in Pennsylvania. Our state is one of 12 states which make up 94% of the Lyme Disease cases in the entire United States. Well, just last month when all three of my sons were home, they decided to play a few rounds of "disc golf" (they throw frisbees and try to hit targets in our yard like the pole of the tall bird house, the oak tree in the side yard, etc. and whoever finishes the course with the least number of throws is the winner). Unbeknownst to them, a couple of creepy insects decided to hitchhike on their legs and two of the three ended up with deer ticks burrowing into their flesh. Thankfully, both were spotted later that day and removed, but they had already burrowed, head first, into my sons' belly areas, and were becoming engorged with blood. Disgusting, right? So, my advice is... always, always check yourselves, your loved ones, and your pets each and every time after being outside in grassy areas or on hikes. You just never know! Lyme Disease can be a very long-term debilitating illness if not caught early. Beware and be aware!

I'll leave you with a much prettier vision--these lovely purple flowers are now blooming in our yard. I sure wish the blooms lasted longer, but what a welcome sight they've been this spring!

Chives, clematis, and salvia in my garden

I hope your June is off to a great start, my friends! Only 12 days until the official start of summer--I can't wait... I want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers--so glad to have you here! Thank you, as always for your visit today, your sweet comments, and emails, and your friendship. I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Bye for now...

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A month of baby babbles, beautiful birds, and bountiful blessings

Good morning, good morning! How are you all doing on this final weekend of May? I hope you're relaxing and remembering those who fought for our freedoms on this Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. For me, Memorial Day always feels like the official start of summer--how about you? We're planning a picnic dinner complete with the traditional grilled burgers and kielbasa, baked beans, corn, and ice cream sundaes on Monday. Bring on the warm weather, I say! After a month of very up and down temperatures, things finally seem to be trending toward the warmer side and I couldn't be happier. Unfortunately, here in southwest Pennsylvania, the hot weather brings humidity which I can tolerate less and less as I get older. If there is any place in the world that has perfect weather, I'd sure love to know about it!

May, for my family, has traditionally been one of "those" months--the super busy ones with birthdays, anniversaries, gardening chores, spring cleaning, etc. July is the other one of "those" months for our family. This May was busier than ever with my grandson (and his mom and dad, of course!) visiting for two weeks. I spent the first week of May preparing for their visit: babyproofing the house, cooking and baking ahead, cleaning, buying extra groceries, making up beds, etc. This last week of May was spent doing laundry, cleaning and putting the house back in order, and simply recovering from the middle two weeks. Because, boy... does a 10-month-old exhaust you. What I wouldn't give for one tenth of his energy! Many nights I went to bed before the baby--honestly!

My needle and thread didn't see much action this month, but I did manage to get my monthly Christmas ornament finished. My ornament for May is from The Prairie Schooler Book No. 36: "St. Nicholas II." I call this one "Welcome Santa" because the pineapple has come to symbolize hospitality and a warm welcome throughout the world. The colors in this design are quite different--the purple of the grapes and bright yellow/gold of the pineapple and the pears certainly liven it up, don't they?

Prairie Schooler Santa from Book No.36

My May ornament was stitched on 32 ct. black Belfast linen with the suggested DMC colors. I kept the finish quite simple using only my handmade cording--a classic finish for a classic design.

My May 2021 ornament

The finish was the same as the one for another PS Santa from the same booklet that I stitched back in  2013 (you can read about the changes I made to the cardinal-carrying Santa in this post). The Prairie Schooler booklet contains six other designs and I'm sure I'll be stitching at least a few of them in the future.

Love how the colors pop on the black linen!

I just realized that I never shared my April ornament finish with you! I posted it on Instagram, but totally forgot to include it in my last post here on my blog. Well, you guessed it--it's another Prairie Schooler Santa. This one is the 2021 annual Santa and is, just maybe, my favorite PS Santa yet! I love all the sweet woodland creatures, especially the snowy owl and that quail perched inside Santa's sack.

The 2021 annual Prairie Schooler Santa

I didn't include the words "Winter Woods" that were charted and chose to simply stitch some random snowflakes instead. What do you think? I think all five look so nice lined up in the long wooden box. I've finished them all the same way with a checked bow and gingham fabric on the back. Will I ever get all of the annual Prairie Schooler Santas stitched? It is looking less and less likely, I'm sad to say...

Do you have a favorite?
 


In other stitching news, I received two wonderful gifts from stitching friends. Karen Y. from Indiana sent me the prettiest cardinal that she made into a flatfold. She did an amazing job on her finish and I have it displayed in the living room next to my dad's photo since cardinals always remind me of him. Karen sent the sweetest note saying she was sending me this as a "token of my appreciation for your wonderful blog." I was so touched and I am truly honored that you would send me such a thoughtful gift. Thank you so very much, my friend!

Beautiful flatfold from Karen Y.!

And from another stitching friend in Arizona came three lovely charts! Again, this friend wanted to thank me for all the time and effort I spend in writing my blog. Thank you so much for thinking of me--I truly appreciate each and every comment, gift, or kind email from my friends and readers. When I began writing "Stitching Dreams" way back in 2009, I never dreamed I would "meet" so many stitching friends--I feel so blessed to have you in my life!  I look forward to stitching these cute charts very soon. Well, actually, I have stitched a couple of the little mittens from The Cricket Collection "Woolen Mittens" chart since I already own it! 


Three cute charts from an Arizona friend!

This was my finish from the "Wooly Mittens" chart back in 2014. He's one of my favorites with his frosty red button nose! So, what will I do now that I own two of these charts? Why, give one away, of course! 

My 2014 finish from the Wooly Mittens chart that I'm giving away

So, who would be interested in winning The Cricket Collection "Woolen Mittens" chart? If you are, please 1) let me know specifically in your comment below, 2) include your email address if I don't already have it, and 3) answer the question in the "Getting To Know You" section below. I will pick a winner at random and announce the name in my next blog post in June. Good luck to all! 

If you would like to win this chart... just follow the directions above!


Getting To Know You... For those of you who may be new to "Stitching Dreams," I like to pose questions now and then which allow me to learn a bit more about you. This week's question is, "When you were a child, what career did you want for yourself when you grew up?" My answer: When I was young I loved playing school--I mean truly loved it! And I always wanted to be the teacher when we played with other kids in the neighborhood... But, somewhere around age 12, I fell in love with libraries and books and everything that goes along with them and set my sights on becoming a librarian. I was fortunate that I had a goal so early in life and went on to achieve it. I truly loved my job as a reference librarian for 29 years (even though the salary was embarrassingly low!) and am so glad I had a job that enabled me to work part-time while I was raising my three sons.  Now it's your turn... I'd love to get to know you better and hear all about your career dreams as a child! Did they come true? Do you have any regrets or wish you had taken a different path?

So, a bit about the busy, busy month of May... It actually was a bittersweet month for me as it was the first Mother's Day without my mom. It certainly helped having two of my three sons, my daughter-in-law, middle son's girlfriend, and my little grandson here, but, yes... it was difficult and there were tears... My day started out with a wonderful brunch prepared by my kids.

Mother's Day brunch of blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, berries and orange juice

My Mother's Day gifts included the prettiest blue hydrangea (and a box of pastel-hued macarons which I forgot to photograph) from my middle son and his girlfriend, some delicious cupcakes and a gift card to Michael's from my youngest son, and a very cute library-themed pouch, woven basket (where I'm now keeping some of my thread), and a set of lovely blue and white coasters from my oldest son and his family. I'm getting to "that age" where I'm very hard to purchase gifts for. At age 66, I'm trying to pare down my belongings and don't want to add much more "stuff" (well, except cross stitch stuff, of course!). I know it's difficult for my kids, but I think they did a great job! I remember racking my brain trying to come up with gift ideas for my mom as she got older. I still believe that the best gift you can give an older person is the gift of time, companionship, and help around the house and yard.

Gifts from my family for Mother's Day 2021

A mere five days after Mother's Day, another difficult day arrived--what would have been Mom's 94th birthday. Last year, I was with her for her 93rd while helping care for her and nursing her back to health after she nearly died in late April 2020. I'm so glad I got to spend her final birthday with her and will be forever grateful to have spent so much quality time with her during what were to be her final few months before her death in July. Boy, do I miss her...

Me at age 4 months helping mom celebrate her 28th birthday

The two weeks that my grandson spent visiting were, although exhausting, absolutely delightful. I could spend hour after hour simply watching him as he played and learned and took such pleasure in all of his little discoveries throughout the day. You can almost see the wheels turning as he absorbs new sights and sounds and learns how to do new things. While here, he learned "So Big," how to clap, and how to stand up (followed by clapping for himself while standing and looking around to make sure we were all clapping for him, too!). So adorable...

He took special notice of all the wildlife in our yard: the deer, the groundhogs, the chipmunks, and the squirrels, but he especially loved the birds so we took him to the National Aviary here in Pittsburgh for an afternoon. What beautiful birds--very exotic and colorful (although Baby B seemed to enjoy watching the other visitors even more than he did the birds!).   

Just a few of the colorful birds at the Pittsburgh National Aviary

We also saw some other memorable feathered friends at the aviary...

A handsome Bald Eagle
 
A cuddly looking pair of owl finches

Everyone's favorites--the African Penguins

Back home, my grandson loved watching our colorful backyard birds, too, including the bluejays, a rare Baltimore Oriole, and the hummingbirds. At one point a hummingbird hovered right outside the kitchen window that Baby B was standing at--looking right in at him. I caught my breath as I watched it and honestly felt mom's presence...

The hummingbirds returned to western Pennsylvania this month!

Beautiful to look at, but the Bluejays are bullies to other birds!

I've only seen a Baltimore Oriole twice in our yard--ever! Was thrilled to see this bright one in May.

The squirrels were especially entertaining as they've discovered how to climb up the shepherd's hook that holds our feeders and gobble up the birdseed. The baby so enjoyed "talking" to them as he smiled at their antics each day.

The squirrels seem to think this is their personal feeder/swing.

 
When they're done eating, they shimmy down the pole like a fireman!

A typical sunny morning in my kitchen (with the squirrels enjoying a breakfast of birdseed in the background!)

In addition to spending time watching the wildlife, we took our grandson to meet his great-grandparents in Ohio where we celebrated his great-grandmother's 93rd birthday, to his first picnic in a local park to meet his parents' friends, and introduced him to his uncle and aunt (my middle son and his girlfriend who hadn't yet met the baby). He also got to meet my middle son's cat, Spike (and loved him just a little too much--the cat was afraid of that small human who crawled around at his level!). My middle son  found a small plastic swimming pool that a neighbor was giving away  and brought it over so Baby B could enjoy swimming in it during the very warm weather in the second week of their visit. My youngest son also came up from Washington DC for four days and we were finally (for the first time since November 2019!) all together once again... 

Lots of firsts and I'm so glad I was there to witness them! We'll be heading out to California in July for the baby's first birthday (can you believe it?!), so, although it was hard to say goodbye, I know it won't be too long until we see him again. I have to admit, though, that I sat down and cried and cried when I saw his little toys just sitting on the floor of our sunroom after we dropped him off at the airport for the flight back to San Diego. It's so hard being so far apart--I hope you grandparents who are lucky enough to have your grandchildren nearby know how blessed you are!

Baby B (10 months old) relaxing after a swim in his little plastic pool.

Well, this post is long enough--I sure hope at least a few of you have made it to the very end! I'll leave you with this very special photo that I took in the middle of the night at 2 AM Thursday morning during May's "super flower moon." I got up to use the bathroom and as I glanced out at the backyard, I noticed a beautiful beam of moonlight shining down from the sky. I immediately thought of my mom. Luckily, I had just purchased a new iPhone earlier this week and I took this very cool photo of that moment with the Night Mode feature. I feel very blessed to have received so many "signs" from Mom during her birthday month...

The super flower moon taken at 2AM in the morning

Wishing you all a wonderful month ahead--it's hard to believe how quickly 2021 is flying by, isn't it? Thank you for visiting today--and a special thank you to those of you who take the time to leave a comment. I know your time is precious and I truly appreciate each and every comment and email. Take care, my friends! Bye for now...

Friday, April 30, 2021

Bunnies and blue (and a bit of beach time)

The last day of April--can you believe it? The year is one third over! I'm back with some stitching and a life update and I hope this finds you all doing well. Who else is finding stitching time to be in short supply at this point in the year? I think I stitched a total of about two hours over the past week (but I do have a good excuse for that which I'll go into later on in this post). 

For those of you who know me only as that dedicated "one ornament a month" or small pillow stitcher, you'll probably be a bit surprised by this new finish. I began "A Stitch In Time" by The Workbasket back in July 2020 when we were in California quarantining before our grandson came into the world. I worked on it from time to time since then and finally finished it completely in early March. I've had this chart in my stash for years (it is from 2005) and I'm glad I finally took the plunge and stitched it.

"A Stitch In Time" finish

The suggested Kreinik Silk Mori threads on 40 ct. Woodland Newcastle linen were used for this finish. I love the beautiful flowers in varying shades of blue with their specialty stitches.


And the little creatures are so adorable... I mean who doesn't love a pale blue swan? Those cute white owls are so sweet, too!


As always, I made a few changes to my finish... The original design had the saying "A stitch in time saves my mind" charted below the flower pot (you can see it right here) and it just didn't appeal to me. So, I made the decision to center the entire motif and eliminate the words. Instead, I stitched my initials and the year on either side of the flower pot and I'm very pleased with the result!

Can't wait to get this one back from the framer!

I took a leap of faith and mailed this piece (along with two other large finishes) to Total Framing in Virginia so they could work their magic. Hopefully, I'll have them back some time in May. And, of course, I'll share the framed finishes with you right here. 

What draws you to choose what to stitch? For me, the colors in this design are perfect for my family room, but the thing that really called my name were the cute bunnies on the flower pot. They remind me so much of the Dedham Pottery bunnies that I've collected for years. I began collecting these reproduction pieces in the '90s and purchased most of them on Ebay. Through the years I've probably added nearly 50 pieces to my collection. 

For the past couple of months, I've filled my Pottery Barn cubby with some of my Dedham Pottery. As you can see there are bunny figurines, little vases and jars--even a two-piece egg!

My Pottery Barn cubby this month

I'm not sure what captivated me about this pottery. I do love the bunnies' sweet faces, of course, but I also love the crackled glazing on the pieces. And, of course, I love the blue and white--always such a crisp, clean look.

Do you have a favorite?

 

I also have some larger pieces not displayed here including two different teapots, a casserole dish, even a recipe box! They've been displayed in the glass-front cabinets in my kitchen for over 25 years and I've never grown tired of them. 


Why, I even have similar bunnies on the pillow covers in my family room which I ordered on Etsy--they came all the way from England!


Here you can see the pillows in my family room setting. Remember the new rug that I mentioned a few posts back. Many of you said you'd like to see it, so here it is... Yes, it's clear that I love blues! That navy blue chair on the left is my stitching chair, which, sadly hasn't seen much use lately. Why is that? Well... read on!

My family room--and my stitching chair where you'll find me most every evening!

 

And here is a view from the opposite end--on the far right you can see my Pottery Barn cubby hanging on the wall leading into the kitchen. I stood on the window seat to take this photo which is why the room looks bigger than it is! It's simply a nice cozy space and the new rug gave the room some much needed pattern...


So, why haven't I been stitching? Two weeks after we returned from seeing our grandbaby in California, we were on the plane again--this time heading south to sunny Naples, Florida. No, it wasn't for a holiday--we were there to work. And work we did--boy, I can't remember the last time I was that tired at the end of each day. You see, my in-laws' health has deteriorated so they had to bid farewell to their Florida home and are now residing in a nursing home in Ohio (about an hour from us). We flew down to get their home ready for the rental market which meant a lot of trips to Goodwill (for both dropping off and purchasing), organizing, cleaning, repairing, rearranging, etc. 

We did enjoy a bit of free time over the weekend when my youngest son flew in for a quick visit. We went out to eat with him a couple of times and saw the prettiest skies as the sun was about to set. I did manage to take one lone walk on the lovely Naples beach which is only five blocks from my in-laws' home.

Naples, Florida at sunset

Naples is truly one of the prettiest places I've visited--beautiful homes, wonderful restaurants, and charming little shops and boutiques. If you haven't had the chance to visit, I highly suggest it! I'm usually not one for the sun and heat and beach life, but even I fell under the spell of this Gulf Coast city.

The beautiful end of a busy day

My youngest son took this photo of my husband and me at the Naples dock right before dinner. We don't look too tired here, but, honestly, we were both wiped out from working from dawn to bedtime... Did we get everything done? No, we will be making more trips down at some point. But, I think next time, we'll try to fit in a bit more relaxation (and I'll definitely make sure to carve out more stitching time!).

Tired, but still smiling!

Giveaway winner... I drew a name for the chart of the yellow daffodils in the blue vase  that I offered in my previous post and the winner is...

APRIL M. 

April--you are the winner of this chart!

Congratulations, April! Please email me with your mailing address and I'll get this chart right out to you. I hope you enjoy stitching it--it really is a beauty. I'll be having more giveaways in future posts, so please stop by again!

I was the winner of a beautiful giveaway on Instagram myself! Just look at this huge project pouch made by the talented Michelle from Under the Woolen Willow. Michelle "saves the stitches" that she finds in thrift stores and turns them into beautiful project pouches. She has a wonderful Etsy shop which you can find right here. Thank you again, Michelle--this was a real treat and your work is perfection!

A lovely giveaway win from Michelle at "Under the Woolen Willow"

I was happy to find our spring flowers and trees still in bloom when we returned from Florida. Honestly, is it just me, or do they seem to be more beautiful than ever this year? This busy bee certainly seems to be loving the miniature rhododendron. We had heavy rains yesterday which brought down many of the blossoms, but I was so glad to enjoy a few days of their beauty and lovely scent.

Spring in western Pennsylvania

 

Well, a busy month lies ahead, but it's one I've waited for for ever-so-long--my grandson is coming for a visit! Yes, my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and almost 10-month-old (and into EVERYTHING!) grandbaby will be here for two weeks in May. I've been busy setting up a little play area (at the far end of our sunroom where the Christmas tree usually sits), babyproofing, and purchasing a crib, highchair, diapers, etc. in preparation. (My oldest son has not been home in over a year and a half so I think he is more excited than anyone)! Thank goodness for vaccinations--such a feeling of freedom after all the time we were isolated from our loved ones. I feel truly grateful and thankful for the scientists who worked so hard to come up with these vaccines, don't you?

I'm having such fun setting up a little play area for my grandson's visit!

I'll be reading blogs only off and on during their visit, but I hope each of you has a wonderful month of May. Not sure when I will post again, but I'll try to check in with you at some point. Thank you for all of your supportive comments--I do appreciate each and every one. I'm also thankful for those of you who have taken the time to email me and thank me for inspiring you, stitching-wise. Those kind emails always make me smile and give me the push I need to keep on writing "Stitching Dreams." Have a wonderful day, everyone! Bye for now...