Friday, July 30, 2021

The green, green grass of home

I'm home! And it feels so good to be in one place for a while. We've been awfully busy since May and I look forward to simply relaxing here at home. The green, green grass in my title? Well, while we were gone there was an unusual amount of rain here and our yard and gardens now look so lush and healthy--a bit jungle-like in all honesty! California is going through a terrible dry spell and there was so much brown everywhere from the hillsides to the dusty roads... I think I'll take Pennsylvania weather! Our trip was a mix of ups and downs which I'll get to later. But, first, as always--here's what I've been stitching (even if it is just a tiny bit!).

I finished my ornament for July--a Tralala design called "Miss et Mister Snow." Isn't the little snow couple darling? I love her little bonnet and the tiny basket she is carrying. And he looks mighty dapper in that oversized bowtie! They are stitched with a mix of DMC and overdyed threads "over one" on 25 ct. moss green Lugana.

"Miss et Mister Snow" finish


I knew I wanted this to be an oval shaped finish so I simply rearranged the stars and snowflakes and added a few more to achieve the shape I was looking for. I also shortened the bottom border and reversed it so the scallops face down rather than up. It is finished with the fabric shown in the background and surrounded by white handmade cording along with a simple white bow. I chose to add a long "tail" to this one as I love how this particular finish looks on my Christmas tree or hanging from a cabinet knob. I really enjoyed stitching "over one" on the 25 ct. Lugana and know I'll be adding various colors of this fabric to my stash soon!

My July 2021 ornament

The only other piece I managed to stitch this month was one I've done before. It's a freebie which can be found right here (or in my sidebar under "Favorite Freebies" Noel). This was the only piece I worked on (very sporadically) in California. When you have an already walking (running at times!) one-year old to keep track of, there isn't a whole lot of time to sit and stitch except during his naps. This was an easy piece to work on because it used just one thread: the beautiful variegated red DMC 115. Since I already made an ornament for myself using this design way back in 2010, this one will be a Christmas gift.

"Noel" freebie finish

Much of the Noel piece was stitched while relaxing by the beautiful pool of the AirBnB that we rented for five days just north of San Diego. Honestly, I could have sat there with my feet up all day just feeling the cool breezes as I stitched away in the shade under the big umbrellas. 

Ahhh... pure relaxation!

Unfortunately, our trip was not all smiles and sunshine... but, I'll get to the sadness in a bit. First of all, the happy things and the number one happiest thing is my now one-year-old grandson! Baby B had not one, not two, but three birthday parties--the lucky little boy. The first was just for us and his mom's brother's family who were visiting from El Paso, the second was a big picnic in the park for friends and family (my youngest son surprised us by popping in for that one!), and the third was just our family celebration for three birthdays held at the Airbnb we rented. 

"I'm one year old today!" July 8, 2021

My daughter-in-law did a wonderful job planning Baby B's dog-themed birthday parties. Look how sweet the doggie cakes and cupcakes are. Amazingly, my grandson had absolutely no interest in the cake. He can't be related to me as I love sugar a little too much!

Our three July birthday "boys" (the 8th, the 9th, and the 14th!) all celebrate together:  my youngest son, Baby B, and my husband.

I just had to share this video with you! How cute that the birthday boy got such joy from tossing the rainbow of tissue paper wrappings into the air! Hope this makes you smile, too!


Sadly, Baby B picked up a virus (most likely at the large picnic/birthday party on Sunday) and became quite ill with a fever, vomiting, congestion, etc. the very first night we were at the Airbnb. Poor little guy--just not his usual cheerful self that entire week. Of course, he "nicely" shared his germs with his mommy and daddy (oddly enough, neither of my sons, my middle son's girlfriend,  my husband, or I got sick). The three sick family members all tested for Covid (even though my son and his wife have both been vaccinated) just to make sure, but the tests came back negative. Anyway, that put a damper on the week, but we still managed to enjoy being together at the beautiful Airbnb.

So what did we do on this latest San Diego trip besides enjoy the famously "perfect" weather? Well, we...

Read lots of books... "Gramma, read me a book!" That sweet expression as he smiles up at me absolutely melts my heart!

Took a beautiful hike around Lake Miramar

Enjoyed the unusual foliage found in southern California

Watched the sun rise from the top of Black Mountain (well, my youngest son and husband did, anyway--the rest of us were too lazy to get out of bed that early!)

We also paid an impromptu visit to Balboa Park after dinner one evening. I wish we had gone earlier in the day as many of the gardens were just closing, but we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around this beautiful place as we watched the sun set. I highly recommend a visit if you are in the San Diego area!

The California Bell Tower in Balboa Park


Looking down at the Japanese Friendship Gardens in Balboa Park

The Botanical Building and Lily Pond were built in 1915 for the California-Panama Exposition

The sun sets at Balboa Park as my middle son (in the blue shirt on the other side of the fountain) rides an electric scooter

Sadly, California visits are not always kind to us. Many of you remember that, last year, my mom died just 16 days after Baby B's birth when we were in California. Well, unbelievably, history repeated itself this year as, just five days after the baby celebrated his first birthday, my father-in-law passed away. He lived a good long, life, and at age 92, this was not totally unexpected. It's still so sad, though, especially for my husband, his three brothers, and the nine grandchildren who adored him. It is very hard going away on a trip with a parent still living and then returning home knowing that you'll never see them again...

In my mind, I will always associate my father-in-law with our family trips to The Outer Banks of North Carolina. He paid for a wonderful rental house right on the beach for us every summer since 1984. When we first began going on these beach vacations, our oldest son (who is now 39) was just two years old. The last time my in-laws were able to travel down with us was in 2017. I still remember how amazed I was that my father-in-law could navigate the stairs down to the beach and get in the water (even boogie-boarding!) at age 88. He gave us all so many wonderful memories and my three sons and their cousins, who are spread far and wide across The United States, really got to know each other on these annual trips. He will be truly missed, but never forgotten. May he rest in peace...

Four generations... remembering my father-in-law (1928-2021). This photo was taken in mid-May at my mother-in-law's 93rd birthday. So glad my son got to introduce the baby to his great-grandpa!

When we returned to Pennsylvania, we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary by going out for a nice lunch. It was so pleasant eating on the shaded patio and reminiscing... Hard to believe that 50 years is just around the corner. I have to say how much I enjoy going out for lunch rather than dinner and I think we're going to try to do this on a more regular basis!

Still smiling after 44 years together!

I've been picking lots and lots of flowers from the garden this year--they are just beautiful with the mix of sun and rain that we've had this summer.

These pastel colored glads were picked from our garden and given to my mother-in-law when my husband visited her last week. He tries to visit her in the nursing home a couple times a week always taking some homemade cookies and fresh flowers from our garden. 

I'm loving the miniature sunflowers my husband planted this year--just the right size for cutting!

And my favorite hydrangeas...The bushes have had so many more blossoms than normal this summer.

I'm still finding it hard to believe that my grandson is one! I know those of you who have children and grandchildren share my amazement in how quickly that first year passes. So many changes, so much growth, so many things learned in the span of the first 365 days. I could, honestly, sit and watch him play all day as he discovers the world around him. I love pondering what thoughts may be going through his head! I hope he never loses his sense of wonder about life, continues to want to learn and explore new things, and is always, always kind to others in the process. I love you dearly Baby B!

I hope he never loses his sense of wonder...

I want to thank you all for visiting me today and taking the time to say "hello!" I know some of you are facing health issues or, like me, have family members who are dying or who have passed away. Life isn't easy sometimes, is it? But, without the sad times, I wonder if we would feel the joy of the happy times in the same wonderful way? Wishing you a wonderful month of August! Bye for now...

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The red, the white, and the blue...

Happy July! I hope everyone in the U.S. had a relaxing Fourth Of July weekend... It was a quiet one here, but we'll make up for it when my entire family gathers in San Diego this coming week to celebrate three birthdays, a job change, and our upcoming 44th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, I can't wait for the fun to begin! Before I get into my stitching news, I want to thank all of you who offered suggestions on how to deal with my vertigo. I purchased some of the items suggested (motion sickness bands and anti-nausea meds) to have on hand if (please, no!!) it returns. Thankfully, I'm feeling better now and am just going to think positively!  

So, on to stitching updates. I had really hoped to have this latest finish done by the Fourth of July, but it took longer to stitch than I expected. That's okay, though, as I leave my patriotic stitching up for most of the summer... I'll switch over to sunflowers and bees in mid-August. This is the first piece I've stitched by "From the Heart Needleart," but it won't be the last... such an enjoyable design! "Let Freedom Ring" was stitched on 40 ct. sand Newcastle with a combination of the suggested threads and my own choices. The substitutions made were: I used Needle Necessities #142 (Grecian Olive) for the green, Nina's Threads (Old Jeans) for the blue, and DMC 3865 for the white. The other colors were as suggested by the designer. I did change the beak on the eagle to the gold color as well as its claws. And instead of using cross stitches for the flagpole, I did a simple straight stitch.

"Let Freedom Ring" by From the Heart Needleart


Once again, a thrifted frame came to the rescue! My middle son had picked up this simple frame for me at Goodwill for $2.00 (I have him look for square frames whenever he goes!).  I painted it with Waverly chalk paint (using the color "Plaster") and then lightly distressed it with a bit of sandpaper. It was too wide for the stitched piece so I simply sewed on two star-strewn pieces of fabric in burgundy and blue, added a strip of gold ric-rak, and topped it off with a yo-yo and a couple of buttons. A very inexpensive, but cute, finish! I love it!

Love the flag carrying eagle!


Last week, I was putting away some things in my guest room when I spotted this sweet little scene on top of the dresser and it just made me happy. So, why not share it with you? The reading bunny was a Mother's Day gift from my youngest son a few years ago and the stitching is a piece that I finished way back in 2009--my very first year of blogging.  I wonder if there are any readers that remember my blog from way back then? That was the year I was stitching an "Ornament a Week"--crazy, right? I don't know how I did it given the fact that I was still working at the time... Most of those early blogging friends have left the blog world behind and have turned to Facebook or Flosstube. I really miss them, but I'm so happy to have you new readers along for the ride!

Reading books and stitching--two of my favorite things!


This chart can be found in the August 2000 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine--a sweet design by The Drawn Thread called "Summer Scene." I think this may have been one of the very first pieces I stitched on linen. I remember being a bit overwhelmed by all of the specialty stitches in it: Hungarian stitches on the roof, leviathan stitches on the front door, Smyrna stitches for the flowers, woven leaf stitches for the tree leaves, reversed cushion stitch on the sidewalk; and everyone's favorite--the French knot for the flower centers. It was a challenge, but I truly love how it turned out. I mean who doesn't love a giant cat in their front yard? This remains one of my favorite finishes even though it is 12 years old! Do you have any old favorites that just make you smile when you walk by them?

"Summer Scene" by The Drawn Thread


I took a few photos of my 4th of July display to post on Instagram which might provide some inspiration to those of you who love red, white, and blue stitching as much as I do. These were stitched over the past twelve years; I usually stitch two or three patriotic pieces each summer. After Christmas stitching, patriotic stitching is my favorite (although bunnies for spring and Easter are rapidly multiplying, too!). 

So many memories in these little pillows...

Red, white, and blue stitches are taking over my kitchen!

Believe it or not--there are more patriotic finishes in my corner cupboard which I didn't photograph! I think I've gotten a bit carried away with them, but they sure are fun to stitch and finish...

Reading update... The reading bunny seated in the blue chair, that I showed you earlier, was a perfect gift for me being a former librarian. I know many of you love to read, too, and might enjoy seeing what I've read so far in 2021. I rated them with blue hearts (five being the most-liked) and am so surprised that I've already read 25 books this year. I am not a fast reader... I tend to fall asleep when I read. But, I do have an audiobook and a Kindle book in progress at all times. I love listening to the audiobooks when I stitch, cook, or work on my finishes (or when I'm trying to get in my 10,000 steps by just walking around in the house)! Some have been very good, some only so-so; the number of blue hearts tell you what I thought of each one. Do you have any recommendations for me?

Books read and rated so far in 2021


I passed on all of your compliments about our garden to my husband--thank you so much. He's really enjoying digging in the soil this summer and I told him the garden and yard have never looked better. He's even set up a drip irrigation system to water the plants when we are away on trips! Lately, we've seen lots of wildlife in our backyard... a doe and her twin fawns, lots of groundhogs, and a Great Blue Heron visiting our pond. The pond is stocked with a couple dozen very large koi and a few smaller fish as well as a newly arrived snapping turtle (where he came from, we have no idea!). The heron waits patiently on the bank of the pond until just the right moment... Then he rapidly snatches one of the smaller fish out of the water with his long bill. I think the koi are too big for the heron to eat, thankfully...

The Great Blue Heron patiently waiting for his breakfast to appear

Email subscriptions... You may notice a new white box in the upper right sidebar to sign up for email subscriptions. Recently Google has announced that it was stopping their feedburner subscription service so I had to switch to The very helpful staff at have transferred my existing active subscribers for "Stitching Dreams" to their service so, if you have already subscribed, you should still receive email notifications each time I put up a new post. They may look a bit different than the previous emails--I have no control over this... If you're not receiving notifications, you may have to subscribe again in the white box. 

I'll be on a little blogging break while in San Diego celebrating my grandson's first birthday. I will be able to read your blogs, but won't be able to comment as my phone won't let me for some reason... I hope you all have a wonderful month ahead with lots of time to relax and enjoy the season. Thank you, one and all, for visiting me today--I love my readers! Bye for now...

The peaceful view from our front porch as the sun sets on the Fourth of July. "Day is done, gone the sun. From the lake, from the hills, from the sky; All is well, safely rest. God is nigh..." (lyrics to "Taps")