Thursday, September 30, 2021

Simple Beauty and a Big Surprise!

I'm hoping you are all feeling as happy as I am on this, the final day of September?! It's been a great month and an especially wonderful last week for me, so read on for the very best surprise of all... First of all, let me share my latest finish with you. I worked on this piece of summery sunshine on and off over the past few months and am proud to show you my completed "There Is Beauty In Simplicity" today. (It was a cloudy day when I took the photos so they don't accurately show how pretty this piece really is). The goldfinch is so beautiful, isn't he? And I think the choice of daisies depicts simplicity at its finest!

"There Is Beauty In Simplicity"

 

Some of you may recall my post about finding the goldfinch feather (pictured above) soon after my mother died in July of 2020. In that post, I wrote about seeing an abundance of goldfinches, receiving a card from a friend with a goldfinch on it, and then finding a goldfinch feather right outside my kitchen window. After doing some research, I learned that different colors of feathers have specific meanings and that a yellow feather represents joy and happiness. It also serves as a reminder to slow down, enjoy life, and be more mindful of the present. I've kept the yellow and black goldfinch feather in my Pottery Barn cubby ever since I found it and truly believe it was a message from my dear mother. If you'd like to read the entire post on the feather you can find it right here

The colors in this piece are so cheerful, aren't they?

 

Now you know why this finish is so special to me. This is the fourth of the Cottage Garden Samplings "Songbird's Garden Series" that I've completed. Would you like to see all four? I'm stitching each of them on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle with the suggested threads. I think my favorite parts of these designs, besides the stunning birds, are the little houses--aren't they charming? I especially love the newest one as the wee golden brown house looks like it is sprouting right out of the daisy!

Which one is your favorite?

And, I had another start which I'm absolutely loving: Prairie Schooler's "Christmas Village" (book number 79). I just don't understand why I put off stitching it for so long?! Honestly, I could have had this stitched and on display at Christmas (or even all winter!) for many, many years. I don't think I'll have it finished by this Christmas, but I truly am loving every stitch. I'm using 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. I "only" have 1 church, 1 snowman, 2 sleighs, 3 deer, 6 geese, 6 houses, and 54 trees left to stitch. I'm trying to do a few trees for every house so I'm not left with them all at the end. For me Prairie Schooler designs are my "comfort stitching." What is yours? 

I love all the details in this sweet village!

On Monday, I received a lovely surprise from one of my Instagram friends, Cindy C. from Virginia (she is cindycstitches on IG). She sent me this darling bee pillow to add to my bee display next summer. Isn't it cute? So beautifully stitched and finished, too. Cindy, I love it and will think of you each time I put it out--thank you so much, my friend. You are always so kind and thoughtful--and I truly appreciate our friendship!

Thank you so much, Cindy--what a great addition to my bee display!

 

So, what else have I been up to since my last post three weeks ago? Well, I became a great-aunt to a sweet baby girl who was born to my nephew and his wife just over a week ago. This was the first girl baby born on my side in this generation--how my mother would have loved having her first great-granddaughter. I also went to Connecticut for another nephew's wedding (the second of three nephews who are marrying within three months of each other!). It was a long, long drive as we dealt with the horrific traffic around New York City (I can't imagine living in that busy area), but we made it and were rewarded with a beautiful Airbnb which was our home for three nights. It was right on Long Island Sound and this was the view that we woke up to each morning--that beautiful blue water glistening in the sunlight. So relaxing and peaceful!

The view from our bed at the Airbnb in Connecticut

 

In addition to the wedding (which was so much fun as we hadn't seen some of our relatives in over two years!), we went for a relaxing beach walk along Long Island Sound. The beach there is filled with shells and large rocks although there was a sandy beach further down from the house we were renting. The weather couldn't have been nicer--low 70s, clear blue skies, and sunshine. Here are some of the photos I took last Saturday morning before the wedding.

Scenes from our beach walk with views of Long Island Sound

 

And because we were so very close to Yale University (the third oldest university in the United States), we spent a couple hours walking around the campus (and now I can truthfully say, "I went to Yale!"). Since it covers 260 acres, we only saw a tiny portion, but made a point to track down the oldest existing building on campus. That was Connecticut Hall, built in 1750 which housed such notable Americans as Eli Whitney (the inventor of the cotton gin), Noah Webster (the author of the first American dictionary), and Nathan Hale (the American Revolutionary War patriot who purportedly stated, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" as his last words before he was hung by the British in 1776). Connecticut Hall is pictured in the lower right below. It is now used to house Yale's Department of Philosophy.

Scenes from Yale University include (clockwise from upper left):  The quad at the Old Campus, Battell Chapel, Connecticut Hall, and Farnum Hall

Fall is very slowly creeping into western Pennsylvania and the leaves are a bit late turning color this year. The temperature at night has begun dipping into the 40s this week, though, so that should surely hasten the bright reds, golds, and oranges that we all look forward to here in the northeast at this time of year. My husband and I took a walk around a local lake last week hoping to see some color in the trees, but very little was to be found. It was still a lovely day, though, and I took a few photos to share in the collage below.

Hints of fall are beginning to appear

 

With the cooler days, fall baking is on my mind and I made a cake that had both my husband and I saying "Yummmmm!" as we took our first bite. Now, it sounds like a strange combination, but, trust me--this recipe is a keeper. You must use very ripe bananas for it, though--very important! It is so moist and tasty and, although I don't even drink coffee, the combination of the banana cake and coffee flavored frosting was out of this world! Give it a try and let me know how you like it? You can find the recipe for "Potluck Banana Cake" right here. Does your family have any tried and true fall recipes that you're planning on making soon?

Banana cake with coffee frosting anyone?

 

And, I've saved my most happy news for last... We will no longer be making that exhausting cross-country trip to San Diego, California to see my grandson and his mom and dad, because, guess what?!?! 

They have moved to the east coast! 

We've known about their plans for a while, but I didn't tell many people because I was so worried that something might go wrong. However, as of Sunday, the little family is living in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC.--just a four hour drive from us and only 30 minutes from my youngest son who also lives down that way! We couldn't be happier for them and, although it will take some adjustment on their part to having four distinct seasons and dealing with snow, ice, and cold weather, I truly think this will be wonderful move.  My daughter-in-law has taken a new job at the National Institutes of Health and since my son has always worked from home, he can follow her wherever her career takes her. This new job offers her more normal work hours, less stress, and a great bunch of co-workers. She's been working remotely for the past six weeks and I can already see a big drop in her stress level.

My sweet grandson after landing in Maryland enroute to his new home! I think he's excited about being closer to Gramma and  Grampa (but it could just be that big smile is a reaction to his tasty snack :)

 

So you can plan on reading about lots of road trips to and from Washington DC--in fact our first one is coming up tomorrow. We plan on helping them unpack, organize, and clean their new home (they are renting for now until they see what area they'd like to buy in) and, of course, spending lots of time with "Baby B" who is thoroughly enjoying the extra space in his new home already. No more apartment living for him! To say we are thrilled doesn't begin to express our excitement. I know for many of you being four hours apart doesn't sound that close, but after living on opposite sides of the country for the past five years, it will seem like they're living next door! I wish them all the best in this new chapter of their lives...

Well, time to bake some goodies to take to my son's family, pack my suitcase (again!) and do a bit of cleaning before we leave tomorrow so I'll sign off. Thank you all for visiting me today and a special thank you to those of you who leave such nice comments. I love reading each and every one and appreciate the time it takes you to write them. I'm still hanging in there with my blog for now, but thoughts of when to stop writing it are increasingly on my mind, so we'll see. Take care, my friends. Bye for now...

46 comments:

Stasi said...

Carol....so happy for your news about your son and his family. Four hours is doable and you will enjoy being closer so you can visit more often and be there for important milestones. Bonus that your other son also lives nearby!
Your Simplicity finish is stunning, as are the others you've done in the series. I would say my favorite is Wisdom...love the pine cones and needles!
Your bee-utiful gift from Cindy is perfect for your bee display..stitchy friends are the best!
Looks like you've had a nice couple of weeks starting to enjoy the lovely fall weather...have fun in DC with Baby B!

Vickie said...

This is just THE BEST NEWS!! So very glad for your family. :) Your sons will love living right by each other. :) The Songsbird's Garden series is so gorgeous. How lovely it will be when you hang them all!! Such a sweet gift from Cindy.

Jayme said...

I enjoy your blog so much Carol! I love your finishes, pictures, recipes and just general writing. So thrilled your grandson will be so close to you. Thank you for continuing your blog…maybe even a quarterly blog to keep us up with your sweet family and stitching. Have fun unpacking!

Jill said...

Goldfinch story and cross stitch projects are inspiring. The feather is special reminder. Heavy traffic is awful, yet there was a beautiful destination at the end. Wouldn't it be wonderful to sit and stitch on that balcony with the ocean view. Enjoyed learning about early days and attendees of Yale. My ancestors have Harvard connections. Lol. Congrats and more congrats on your family moving closer to you! It's a blessing. Coffee frosting sounds delicious. It does take time to write a blog post, however, your's is one of the best. Certainly Stitching Dreams would be sorely missed. Yet, I do understand the time involved. May you take care also!

Shelly said...

When you first announced happy news at the beginning of your post, I knew what it was! So happy for you and hubby! Happy for the DIL and a less stressful job too. Loved this post by the way. You can feel the happiness in it. A recipe I like to make is 3 bean chicken chili. It's cooled down here, in the middle to high 60s. Yes, PS is like an old pair of slippers, comfortable. I'm planning a start next year for a PS chart I have.

My daughter and I are going to Phoenix this morning for her dental appointment, hence catching your new post this morning! Take care, Carol:)

Robin in Virginia said...

Carol, what wonderful news about Baby B and his parents moving to the east coast! Woohoo! I wish them much happiness in their new home and your DIL's new job. Your Goldfinch finish is gorgeous. What a wonderful story you shared as well. Your PS Christmas Village start is looking good. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip to Connecticut (well, minus the traffic). Have a safe journey as you travel to see the new east coasters!

Sandy said...

That truly is the very best news. 4 hours away is doable for many more visits and helping out when needed. I do hope the daughter-in-law will love the seasons. I know that would be hard for me as I really am not used to that kind of seasonal change, but fall is a good time to start out there. I am quite sure just being nearer to family will be the best gift of all though. The stitching is adorable and I remember Arlene stitched that PS village and I loved it then. Enjoy your trip and thanks for the reminder to slow down. September flew by but it was filled with lots of good.

Kyle said...

Your stitching continues to amaze me. It's always beautiful and you accomplishment so much. You might be doing even more on all the road trips you'll be taking.

Vonnie said...

So happy for you to have your son and his family much closer to you. I understand what it’s like living cross-country from family as we were stationed in California for 8 years and our families were in Florida. One of the happiest days of my life was getting stationed in North Carolina and getting back closer to home. Your goldfinch finish was beautiful and such a touching story to go with it. My mother loved cardinals and every cardinal reminds me of her. I enjoy your blog so much and always look forward to reading it and seeing your stitching. Enjoy the fall days and your road trips to DC.

Vicki said...

As I read your post I was making mental notes on how to comment on each item (Beautiful cross stitch! Great gift from Cindy! Congrats on the new baby! Gorgeous pics from Long Island! etc) all the while really hoping that the news at the end of the post would be the news I was hoping for. And it was! I'm so happy for all of you. Four hours compared to an airplane trip is so much better. You will be able to enjoy visits to and from them way more often. Yay!

Arlene @Nanaland said...

Well I am so happy your Baby B is close by!! What a great time you will have being in his life on a regular basis!! I love the Simplicity stitch. I have seen several people stitching the various birds. But you know my favorite is Christmas Village. I have mine up all year as I love it so. I also have the Autumn village up year round. I think I have stitched all the Prairie Schoolers that I want to stitch and now I am obsessed with Blackbird Designs. Isn't it funny how our tastes can change. I never thought I would be a sampler stitcher.

Jan said...

I enjoyed reading your happy news! It's wonderful having family living close enough to see on a regular basis. Prairie Schooler is my comfort stitching also and what I mostly do. However, I really love the Songbirds Garden Series. They are so beautiful, I may have to try one. The leaves are actually turning a little early down here in North Central Texas, but that may be due to lack of rain. Our days and nights are somewhat cooler now, but it will be a few more weeks before we see any nights in the 40s.

butterfly said...

What a wonderful happy post . I am so happy your family are moving closer.
Lovely story about the feather .
I love your bird stitch they are all beautiful .

I am just unpacking our cases ! I hate this job , we came back to rain and wind .
Time to get out the Autumn and Winter cloths .

Have a lovely time Carol and stay safe , HugsJune.

Georgia said...

Oh Carol, I loved reading your blog today, you are a day brightener! I am just unwinding from our vacation, traveling long journeys (driving all the way) is exhausting to say the least especially as we get older. That being said I am so happy for you that you will be closer to your grandson. I know the feeling well. I just love everything you have stitched. Today I had a big blue jay visit my feeder, I was so glad to see him, it was like he was saying "welcome home." That cake looks ymmy! I will have to save the recipe, thank you for sharing. And, as soon as I get settled, I will get my PS sampler from my stash. But, I don't think I can start mine until after the first of the year. Please don't stop your blog just yet, I am still going thru withdraw from Arlene at Nana Land, stopping hers:)Many blessings to you and yours my friend:)

Gabi said...

Hi Carol,
what a wonderful post and what exciting news. I can imagine how happy you are that the little family come close.
your stitching is as always beautiful.
Enjoy the fall and best wishes

Honeybee said...

Such happy news! I'm so glad for you!

Anonymous said...

I so enjoy your blog and seeing your beautiful stitching and would be sad if you stopped. I would rather read a blog than scroll thru Facebook or instagram. Your blog is formatted perfectly and I also love checking out your links to other blogs.
I am also in Western PA...the weather has been fabulous this past week...Washington is an easy drive with great places to stop along the way...Enjoy!

diamondc said...

Carol: Fun post with lots of great news, it must be hard being so far away and now so close, I agree with you four hours is better then a couple thousand miles apart.
Cindy sent you a beautiful gift and the finishing is perfect.
Yale looks like a beautiful place to visit.
Your Birds are beautiful, it does look like the house is coming out of the Daisy.
Prairie Schooler are hot designs to stitch now, many of my stitching buds are doing Schooler designs.
Baby Boy is adorable.

Catherine

April said...

Hi Carol,
What wonderful news! My thought was ok..she's going to be Gramma again or her family is moving closer...either way it's a win! I'm so happy for you and your husband. I'm glad it was a good move for your DIL too.
Loved seeing the photo collages--so pretty.
Your Songbird finish is just gorgeous! I would have a hard time picking a favorite. Your new PS is going to be amazing as well.
Lovely gift from Cindy--love the bee
I can't imagine how much time it takes to do your blog. It will be a sad day in the stitching community, but I would understand. Please know we all appreciate you and all of your hard work. You inspire us all..not just with your stitching. Your kindness can be felt in your writing. So Thank You!! :)

Hugs,
April

Sandra said...

Your Cottage Garden Samplings finish is gorgeous. I have only stitched Wisdom so far, but have some of the others already bought. I was wondering whether to stitch all mine on the same colour fabric, but seeing yours, has made the decision for me. I had already bought 4 ready made frames which toned with the first fabric, so it makes sense to continue. Thank you for inspiring me to get a move on. Please don't stop blogging, I don't do FB or IG, so blogs are the only way I have of keeping up with other stitchers and I do so enjoy your posts.

Manuela said...

Hallo Carol,
das sind großartige Nachrichten. Da werdet ihr bestimmt sehr oft bei der jungen Familie sein. Genieße die Zeit mit deinem Enkel.
Dein neuestes Finish ist wunderschön. Dieses Motiv ist auch eines meiner Liebsten aus dieser Serie. Ich habe die Tage mit dem Block Faith angefangen.
Deine neueste Stickerei wird ganz bezaubernd. Ein wirklich schönes weihnachtliches Motiv. Freue mich schon auf weitere Fortschritte.
Ein schönes Wochenende und liebe Grüße Manuela

Marilyn said...

The Goldfinch piece is so very pretty, as are all of that series you've stitched.
That's a great addition to your Bee display next year.
Beautiful pictures.
Thanks for the recipe, it sounds delicious!
Congrats to your son's family.
It will be so much fun living closer to them.
baby B is too cute!
Marilyn

Lesleyanne said...

I am so pleased that your son, DIL and grandson have moved nearer to you. All of your stitching is gorgeous. I did laugh about the 54 trees though. I hope you keep blogging I always enjoy reading it though I don't always comment. Congratulations on your new great niece too.

Sandra said...

My favourite embroidery is theone called Simplicity. I like the freshness of the daisies and the goldfinch too, of course.
Lovely photos from your travels and great news about your grandson and his parents living closer to you!

Christine said...

ME, TOOOOO!! ALL my kids live far away..me Michigan, then son in SD! (like on the other side of the world kind of distance), daughter in Portland OR (with my first and only grandchild :( ), and other son locked down in Norway. Sheeesh! I raised them to go forth and study but....

I have a son's postponed from this year's wedding next year in March, near Yale. I would love to know the name of that AirBnb. you stayed at.. I don't know what's happening with this formatting but it won't let me type/clear anything

R's Rue said...

So pretty. Happy for you

Christel said...

C'est toujours un plaisir que de lire vos articles Carol. Alors si vous décidez d'arrêter votre blog (je sais bien que les articles prennent beaucoup de temps...), je serai très triste car je ne vais que très rarement sur instagram via l'ordinateur, mon téléphone ne le permettant pas....
Je suis très heureuse d'apprendre que votre fils, sa femme et BabyB seront beaucoup plus proche. Je leur souhaite tout le bonheur du monde.
Hier avec mon mari nous avons appris que nous allions être grand-parents pour la deuxième fois. Quelle joie ! Notre petite-fille Lara a un peu de mal à se faire à l'idée qu'elle ne sera plus toute seule et qu'il faudra partager les câlins et le temps... Je pense que cela passera lorsque le bébé sera né.
Le chardonneret et les marguerites est absolument magnifique. Je suis arrivée au 5ème modèle de cette série Bluebird of happiness. Je les aime tous ces oiseaux.
Il est très beau ce Prairie Schooler. Je ne connaissais pas et c'est une belle découverte, j'aime beaucoup.
Pas de recette spécifique chez nous pour l'automne... Lorsque nous en trouvons nous aimons faire griller des châtaignes sur un feu dans le jardin.
Amitiés de France,
Christel
http://toilesetfils.blogspot.com

Faith... said...

The colors in Simplicity are so nice and calm looking and I think that joy and happiness are very good traits to represent. Great that you kept the feather. Will you be framing it in with the piece or near the group of pieces?

Christmas Village looks like a great stitch and you are off to a great start on it. I don't think I have a comfort stitch but then I have never thought of that before. Cute Bee stitch for your collection from your friend.

It sounds like you have an extra large family. :) It must be nice to see everyone again after that long quarantine. You had some gorgeous sites to see in NY too.

How exciting to have them move closer to you. Has your DIL always lived in CA? If so this will be a big adjustment for sure! I can imagine you will be making that trip quite often! I see you are already on your way so STAY SAFE!!

marly said...

Oh my goodness what a Christmas this will be! You've been really busy with family and how nice it must be to get together after so long. Be careful helping with the move!

MartinaM said...

A beautiful motif and how nicely it combines with a memory. All 4 blocks already look great, I have to work on them at some point.
The village will be a fine job too.
That sounds like a great excursion and you will certainly be happy to accept the traffic, wonderful view from your room.
I am very happy for you and your family that you can now be closer together, see each other more often, and that your daughter-in-law's new job is better.
I wish you a nice October. Hugs Martina

Leonore Winterer said...

Such happy news, I'm very excited for you! We live just under four hours from my inlaws, and while it's not close enough to just 'drop in', it's perfectly doable for a weekend trip. So that's better than half a country away for sure!
Such pretty stitching too. I love the Simplicity design (love the whole series, they are all very pretty) and your Christmas stitch looks cute as well. Glad you had a great trip to that wedding - you'll forgice this European for hiding a smile at Yale being such an 'old' university, I hope. My university (that I got my degree from and am still working at) has been founded in 1457, which makes it the fifth oldest university in Germany!
I do hope you will continue with your blog for a long while, as I really enjoy following along. But it should always be something that brings you joy, and never become a chore!

Unknown said...

What exciting news! A 4 hour car ride is so much easier than a plane flight! So happy for you all.

Your stitching is just beautiful as always. I'm back to school so my stitchy time is limited, but hopefully once things settle down I can make some more time.

Alhana said...

So happy for you and your family, these are great news! Your stitching is gorgeous as always. Thanks to you now I know goldfinches are yellow in your part of the world, as ours are quite different in colour. I can't wait to see your Christmas Village finished, all 54 trees included. ;-)
Hope you have a great time in Maryland with your son, daughter-in-law and baby B.
Happy October!

Stoff und Nadel ... Jutta’s Blog said...

Oh, this are wonderful news, how happy I am for you, finally your little grandson is much easier to reach.
Your embroidery is magical, all of them are my favorites.
Have a nice Sunday, Jutta

Maggie said...

I'm so happy for you that your son and his family have moved closer to you, and I can tell that you are just over the moon about it.
I love all your Cottage Garden Sampling pieces, they will look fantastic displayed altogether.

Unknown said...

Awesome blog Care, filled with great stitching and wonderful news.

Pat said...

Great news of your son & family's move closer to you. I'm sure your visits to them will be more frequent. Great stitching pieces. Looking forward to seeing your progress on the Prairie Schooler village.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

What a happy post! Please keep making them. You always have so many commenters who clearly enjoy what you write.
I love the Bird series, those little houses really appeal to me too.
Fantastic news about Baby B and his parents moving closer to you too. Fours hours is a mere drop in the ocean, you could leave after breakfast and be there in time for lunch!

Mary's Thread said...

What happy news! I know how delighted we were when my in-laws decided to become snow birds here in Arizona! To have family nearby even part of the year is a great blessing! I love your series from Cottage Garden. They are so charming.

Eva said...

So wonderfull reading.I will visit your sites very often now.
Best wishes from Eva in Czech Republic,Europe

Mary said...

Carol, Simplicity is just stunning!!! It would be very difficult for me to pick a favorite, they are all gorgeous. I am so thrilled for you that your grandson and family will be so much closer for you to visit. I see lots of long weekend visiting them in your future. The PS stitch is going to be gorgeous, I would have to stitch a tree a day, so many at once would get to me!! Glad you had a great trip, the B&B views are amazing!! You don't have to tell me about NY traffic!!!lol...I will be making the cake this week!! I love anything with coffee flavor and the combo of banana and coffee sounds interesting.

Barb said...

Hi Carol - well, if I had to guess I would say you are with Baby B and his mom & dad helping them get settled after their big move! I really hope that all goes well for them and for you and your husband and that everyone is truly happy. That is a very big move for them but it sure seems like a wonderful event for all of you. It must be so exciting to know they are so much closer than California and hopefully, much easier to get in a few visits. All the best to your entire family!

Your stitching is wonderful! Songbirds Garden Series is beautiful. Are you going to get them all framed and hang them together? Hard to choose a favorite - I love them all for different reasons, I think. And PS Christmas Village is so special! I discovered that I have that.chart in my stash, too. I’ll have to get it out and all the thread and stitch it pretty soon. Isn’t it interesting how we have things for a very long time and don’t get them stitched? I’ve kind of thought I shouldn't get anymore new patterns because I have so much stash, but then I see something that I really love and . . . well, you know how that goes!

The banana cake looks yummy. Thanks for sharing the recipe - I may have to give it a try.

Hope everything is going really well for you and all of your family.

❣️ Barb

Isadarena said...

Hi Carol, I just discovered your blog and it is marvellous. All your finishes are so beautiful.About the design I prefer at the first part of your post is "Simplicity" : gorgeous!!
Have a lovely time Carol and stay safe , Hugs, Isa

Jennifer said...

So much in this post Carol! I love your new piece and as I look at the four of them together, it makes me think that the view of the houses is from the bird’s perspective in the trees. They are just lovely pieces and you’ve done a great job with them. Your northeast travels look so nice - how fun to have the view of the water from your bed! Hope you had a great trip with the Maryland-based family. My brother lives in that area too and someday if you have open time, there is a great LNS in Alexandria - probably close to an hour away, but as I recall, we’ll worth the trip!

Irene said...

Che felicità Carol!! La famiglia è la cosa più importante del mondo e sono felice che sia più vicina! Sicuramente la piuma te l'ha mandata la tua mamma ♥

Mary in AR said...

Carol, I know I only comment on your blog sporadically, but I do so love to read it. I am more likely to type a few words on IG in the am before I head off to work. The goldfinch is lovely! And what awesome news that your grandson and family have moved closer! Four hours is a lark compared to cross country flying. It is also wonderful that your DIL job is less stressful; I know our jobs can make us crazy sometimes! My DH and I are vacationing this week in Branson, MO; fall is slow to show us her colors around here too. But the temps and weather are great! Thank you for such a joyful and comforting blog. I always get excited to see a new post from you.