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...