Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Some sad September days...

 

Just wanted to check in as I've had a few folks wonder where I was and if I was okay, both here and on Instagram. Last week was filled with sadness for my family. On Wednesday, September 28th, the storm surge from Hurricane Ian flooded our family home in Naples with almost six feet of water. My husband, oldest brother-in-law, youngest niece, and I had worked so hard to get it back to livable shape after the same thing happened in 2017 with Hurricane Irma (apparently those "I" named hurricanes don't like us). We had finally gotten the house to the point where it was being rented (and very well-received) on Airbnb just this year. And now this... the idea of starting over is almost too much. My husband and I will be heading down to Naples very soon to see first-hand the damage that was done. It's been heartbreaking to watch all of the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Ian that took place throughout Florida and my heart goes out to all who were affected. It will take a long time to return to "normal" on the west coast--if ever.

As this was going on, my family was facing an even sadder time--my dear mother-in-law passed away just two days later on Friday, September 30, 2022. Thankfully, she never became aware of what had just happened to her beloved Florida home where she had spent so many happy years. At 94 she had lived a long, full life and is finally pain-free after 15+ years for which we are truly grateful. I'll be writing more about her life in a future post, but for now, I'm just too heartsick and sad over the events of last week to put much down into words. I can't bring myself to read blogs or comment on Instagram right now, but I simply wanted to write a short post today to let you know that I'll be back when I feel more like myself. Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. Bye for now...

Thursday, September 15, 2022

A late summer finish

Brrr... it's another cold, September morning here in western Pennsylvania--proof that fall is slowly creeping in! Luckily, we'll be having some nice warm weather here again over the next week and I can't wait. It's been a busy two weeks since I last posted and the world has seen some major changes. I'm thinking, especially, of all my friends in Great Britain who have had such changes in leadership and I hope things go smoothly during the transition. I think the whole world was a bit shocked when on September 6th at Balmoral Castle, Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the new Prime Minister and less than 48 hours later... she was gone. I think that whenever an older person lives well into his or her 90s, we are all pulling for them to reach age 100. But, that just wasn't meant to be...

But, on to stitching... I've been teasing you over the past couple of months with a big summer piece that I've been working on since early July. And guess what?! It's finished! Welcome to Riley Harbor where horses roam the streets, birds are as big as doorways, and a large, friendly whale resides in the bay. 

"Riley Harbor"

 

I have very few summer-themed pieces in my collection so when I spotted this charming design by Kathy Barrick, I ordered it on the spot and began stitching it as soon as it arrived. (Well, right after I changed almost all of the colors, that is)! I've never changed as many colors as I did in this piece, but I'm so pleased with the final result. The original darker  houses were charted to be black, but that just didn't feel right to me, so I chose a lovely navy blue Kreinik Silk Mori.

It was such fun picking the colors for the houses!

Each house took a surprising amount of time to stitch! I honestly felt like a little girl with a coloring book and crayons as I selected the colors and filled in each one. The houses that are stitched in shades of golden brown are the only ones that I used the suggested colors for.

Which house would you live in? I'd pick that little blue one on the far right. I just noticed the houses in the back row have no doors... Perhaps they are on the other side?

There was such a wonderful variety of motifs in this one: the houses, waves, birds, horses, sea creatures (I'd never stitched a lobster, crab, or seahorse before)... And don't you love that trio of ships with their billowy sails?

Sailing, sailing!

 

Last, but not least, just look at that humongous whale stitched in Weeks Dye Works Confederate Grey (which I just noticed has been re-named simply "Grey" on many websites). He seemed to take forever, but he is most certainly the star of the show. For the waves, I used a Belle Soie Silk: Chester's Blue (stitching with only the lighter blue portions).

All I can think of when I look at the whale is the Raffi song "Baby Beluga"--one of my grandson's favorites!

I plan on having this piece framed next year--really looking forward to seeing it hanging in my family room year round!

"Riley Harbor" stitched on 40 ct. Stormy Night Newcastle linen

So, what do I stitch next? I seriously need to buckle down and begin my Christmas stitching--I have several gifts to make, a few cards and ornaments to stitch, and I'd love to at least start one of the larger Christmas charts that I purchased earlier this year. And then there are a couple of Thanksgiving charts that I've put off for way too long. Oh, if there were only more hours in my day! How about you? Are you moving on to Christmas or still doing autumn or Halloween stitching? 

We had a wonderful four days with my grandson! I was a bit disappointed as they were supposed to arrive on a Wednesday night, but work got in the way so they wouldn't be able to get here until late Thursday night. Imagine my surprise when I heard a noise at my kitchen door early Thursday afternoon and turned around to find Mister B and his mom and dad standing there smiling at me. Oh, the joy! They had rearranged their schedules to surprise us! We played and played with all of the old toys my husband and I had recently brought down from the attic and cleaned up. Oh, how my grandson loved them--he didn't even want to take a break from play-time to eat. It really made me smile as I recalled my sons happily playing with those very same toys over 30 years ago...

Fisher Price toys from the 1980s were a big hit with my grandson--I'm so glad I saved them all these years! Do any of you remember these?

Mister B named this quintet: Nonna, Pompaw, Dada, Mama, and baby

A new experience... We also did something my husband and I had never done in spite of living in western Pennsylvania for over 45 years--we took a little river cruise on the Gateway Clipper. Now keeping a two-year-old entertained for more than ten minutes on an hour-long riverboat ride was not the easiest thing, but we managed. It was a fun way to see the city and enjoy some lovely fall weather at the same time.

The sights of Pittsburgh and its three rivers as seen from The Gateway Clipper cruise.

The fountain at Point State Park with the Pittsburgh skyline behind

PNC Park, the home of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball

Looking up to Mt. Washington from the riverboat. Can you spot the two red and yellow cars on the Duquesne Incline? (I'd sure love to get rid of that beer sign, though; I think it really detracts from the beauty of the hillside!).

I took this photo from the top of Mt. Washington in July when my youngest son and his girlfriend were visiting. Honestly, what a beautiful view of the city from up there. If you ever visit Pittsburgh, taking the Duquesne Incline to the top of Mt. Washington and photographing the city is a must!

If you love peaches... I wanted to share a recipe that I've made a few times this summer--it's one of our favorites and I think you'll love it, too (assuming you like peaches!). Iva's Peach Cobbler from the Taste of Home website is quick and easy (the hardest part is peeling all those peaches!)--you can find the recipe right here. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Peach Cobbler--and don't forget the ice cream!

 

The end of an inspiring chapter in history... I mentioned the passing of Queen Elizabeth II earlier and I'm honestly surprised at how many times I've shed a tear or two since word came of her death on September 8th. I'm not British (although my mother's paternal ancestry goes way, way back in England), but I feel that her death truly leaves a large void in the world. Just think of all the wondrous sights and changes she witnessed in her 70 years on the throne! All the famous people, world leaders, and just plain common folk that she greeted. All the inventions that have  appeared and changed lives. All the countries she visited and unique experiences she had... Her witty humor, her sense of steadfastness, and that famous twinkle in her eye will surely be missed by many. May she rest in peace...

There were so many beautiful remembrances of the Queen online--these were some of my favorites.

And meaning no disrespect, but my family thought my mother looked more and more like Queen Elizabeth as she got older. Born just a year after the Queen, my mom witnessed many of the same world events--although certainly not in the same way. One day a few years ago, my youngest sister was visiting mom and found her sleeping on the couch with this issue of Vanity Fair laying across her stomach. When my sister saw that mom was dressed nearly identically to the Queen she knew she had to take a photo of her. She ran to get the photo that had been taken at my niece's wedding of mom sitting in a fancy chair in the church pretending to be royalty. After placing it in mom's hand, she then snapped this sweet photo. All mom needed were a few corgis and it would have been a perfect match! (And no--my mom hadn't dressed like this on purpose. It was pure coincidence)!

My family's own "Queen"--my dear mother with her beautiful smile

 

Giveaway... I have a very cute Lizzie Kate chart to give away today! Would any of you like to stitch it? This was given to me by a very sweet reader named Linda (in North Carolina) who sent a couple charts to me to use as giveaways. Thank you, Linda--I so appreciate your kindness! This chart, called "Autumn Alphabet" also includes the squirrel and moon charms and the tiny button that are needed to embellish the finish. I'll pick the winner at random and announce the name the next time I post.

If you would like to win this Lizzie Kate chart, please follow the guidelines below.

To be included in the drawing for the chart, please...

1) Specifically mention that you would like to win the chart in your comment 

2) Be a follower in my blog's sidebar (to the right)

3) Make sure to leave your email address in your comment if I don't already have it.

4) Answer the "Getting to Know You" question below.


Getting to Know You... Today's question is: "Do you have any artistic talent--specifically, can you paint or draw?" Ha! For me, that is simple--no, I have absolutely no talent in those areas. When I was growing up, I so longed to be good at art. I would try my best in art class in elementary school, but always come away with a mediocre grade. I just have no talent in the drawing or painting arena. When my family plays board games that involve drawing--no one wants me on their team! I am in awe of people who can sit down and paint a landscape or draw a cartoon or funny face. There is some signal just plain missing between my brain and my hands. Thankfully, I feel like cross stitching is "kind of" like painting with threads and, at long last, I do feel at least a bit artistic. How about you?  I'd love to know your thoughts...

I want to thank each of you for taking the time to visit "Stitching Dreams" today! I know blogging is fading, but I truly appreciate each of you who still visits and takes the time to say "hello!" Thank you so much for your comments on my previous post--I'm touched that so many of you enjoyed my recollections of visiting my mother's university. Many of you mentioned you've had similar experiences of a loved one guiding them so I guess I'm not crazy. I hope you each enjoy the rest of September! Bye for now...

Mister B is back in California this week for a visit. I wonder if he remembers the first 15 months of his life spent in San Diego? It was just a year ago this month that he and his parents moved to Maryland and we are so happy they did!

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

More angels and a visit to mom's past

Good morning, all! How is everyone feeling on this final day of August? Me? I'm a bit down--I will miss summer, especially those longer periods of daylight. As I walk in the garden, I can't help but feel a sense of sadness as the blooms fade and the plants begin to wither and die. The leaves on some of our trees are already turning brown and falling--it seems way too early, but I suppose the hot, dry summer we've experienced has a lot to do with that. The older I get, the more I seem to need the sunshine and carefree days of June, July, and August. The nights are creeping in earlier and earlier and, I have to admit, it makes me dread the coming winter. I know fall is the favorite season for many of you, but I'd love summer to last forever!

I've finished up the remaining two angels from the Birds of a Feather chart "Christmas Angel Ornaments." This chart was lent to me by a most generous Instagram friend and I can't thank her enough! I truly enjoyed every stitch of these little cuties!

Charity and Love angels ready for my tree

"Charity" is my ornament finish for August--absolutely love that shade of green in her dress. I used Weeks Dye Works "Dried Sage." I also made her a brunette rather than a blonde as I wanted all four angels to look similar. The words were supposed to be done in gold metallic, but I honestly think I like them better stitched in the same colors as the angels' dresses. (Plus the less time I have to work with metallic threads, the better, in my book!). I had a perfect green polka-dot ribbon in my stash to top off the cording. And can we talk about those little legs dangling out of her dress--precious!

To make the word "charity" fit into an oval shape, I had to eliminate the spaces that were charted in between the letters.

And last, but not least, comes the "Love" angel which will act as my September ornament. Isn't she pretty in her sweet pink dress adorned with mauve hearts? The dress is stitched with GAST "Victorian Pink" and the mauve is GAST "Pink Azalea." Again, I gave her hair a dye job--I hope she likes her dark brown hair! I had trouble settling on a bow color, but finally chose to coordinate it with the darker mauve color. What do you think?

The little heart she is holding is also surrounded with gold metallic thread like in her halo and wing.

 

And here are all four together! Which one do you like best? I am still partial to the "Peace" angel--just love those colors in her dress and the soft grey dove carrying the olive branch in his mouth. 

A quartet of the sweetest little angels!

I certainly wish BOAF would reprint this one--I know it would sell out in minutes. I am beyond grateful to my Instagram friend for lending me this sweet chart--thank you again! Can't wait to see these on my Christmas tree in December!

So, who is putting out their autumn decor? I just can't quite get there yet, so I've pulled out my bees and sunflower stitching to act as a transition to the fall decorations (which will probably appear in late September). After all, fall doesn't really begin until September 22nd! I found this very small (it is only 12 inches high) woven tiered tray at Target (for only $5.00!) earlier this summer and thought it would be perfect to showcase my tiny bee and sunflower creations. 

Bees and sunflowers now occupy the side table in my kitchen

 

Here are a few close-ups for you... If you would like more information on each finish, just click on the description and the link will take you to my blog post with more details on that particular piece. 

Front hive and pink flowers, alphabet with hive, white birdhouse with sunflowers, round bee and hive

 
Front long pillow with two crows; six hives; sunflower; pink corded bee pillow; lone bee in back was a gift; crow and hive on right

Round bee piece on black; hive in black frame

Pillow on far left with crow and sunflowers

 

GIVEAWAY WINNER... There were a number of entries for the pretty "Summer Time" chart, but there can be only one winner. If you didn't win this time, please keep an eye on this space as I will definitely be offering more charts in the future! The winner's name pulled from the hat is...

EVELYN L.

Congratulations, Evelyn! Please send me your mailing address and I will get this chart off to you as soon as possible!

I want to thank all of you for your well-wishes for my little grandson and his family. Mister B has fully recovered from Covid and is back to his old self... Well, not quite as he has definitely entered the "terrible two" stage! Oh, my! His favorite word is "NO!" (said loudly and with great force). He is wanting to do everything himself and seems to love testing us. (His molars are coming in, too, which is probably adding to his discomfort). But, in between those trying moments, he is just the sweetest, most entertaining little boy! We were down visiting him in Maryland last week and he (along with his mom and dad) are coming today for the long weekend. He hasn't been here since April, so I know he's very excited to see all of the toys and books at Nonna and Pompaw's house that we share with him on FaceTime each night!

Thank you, also, for your nice comments on my photos of our Hocking Hills anniversary trip that I shared with you last time. While we were there, I realized that we were just a half-hour away from my mother's college alma mater: Ohio University in Athens, OH. I knew we'd never get another chance to visit, so we decided to stop there on the way home and I'm so glad we did. 

Ohio University where my mother went to college from 1945-1949

I know this will sound strange, but I honestly felt like my mother was there guiding us as we explored the campus. I wanted to find the School of Journalism where my mother, a journalism major (like both her mother and father had been), would have spent much of her time. After a bit of digging, I found that, at that time (in the mid-1940s), the School of Journalism was in the basement of Ewing Hall. As my husband and I sat in our car in a random parking lot, he put "Ewing Hall" into his GPS and excitedly said, "Carol--it says it's right there!" We looked up and could actually read the sign on the building from our car. Thanks, mom!

Ewing Hall sign where I assumed my mother's School of Journalism was. Nope! It actually was demolished in 1974 and this Ewing Hall is now a residence hall.

We got out of the car and began walking across the college green. I took great comfort (and got a bit teary-eyed!) knowing that my mom had once walked these grounds, too. She loved her four years at college and I can see why. It is a lovely, lovely campus and the setting reminded me so much of western New York where she (and I) grew up!

The beautiful rolling hills that surround the campus are so reminiscent of where my mom, dad, and I grew up!

 
Ohio University buildings and landmarks

After we walked the campus a bit, we decided to get in the car and drive into the town of Athens where the university is located. I was so excited when I spotted this cute, old theater as I just knew mom had spent time there when she was a student. 

The Athena theater has been operating since 1915 and is today owned by Ohio University. "Miracle on 34th Street" came out in 1947--I wonder if mom happened to see it here?

As we drove down a side street, we were suddenly stopped by construction that had blocked the road so we had to turn around. We parked the car on the side of the street and I told my husband I wanted to try to find my mother's sorority house where she had spent so many happy days. I found the address of the Chi Omega house online and my husband, once again, plugged it into his GPS. He said, "It says we're already here!" I looked out the window to my right and (yes, I had shivers at this point), the sorority house was right there--literally right outside my car window! I was so excited as I got out of the car to take a photo. If I had been a braver soul, I probably would have walked up the stairs and knocked on the door, but...

My mom often talked about how much she loved sorority life in this house (except for freezing in her attic room during the winters when she was an underclassman!)

We drove on and I said to my husband, as we were stopped at a traffic light, we can go home now, but I'd just like to find one last building with Ohio University  inscribed on it so I can get one final photo. Just then, the light changed to green and as I looked up, I saw this...

Haning Hall was originally the Athens Post Office, but was acquired by the university in 1964. Surely mom walked those steps as she mailed letters to family and friends back home.

I truly felt that mom was there guiding us as we stepped back into time on her college campus. It gave me such a sense of peace as I pictured her there young and happy and full of life. I'm so glad we drove out of our way a bit to get a better sense of her life during those four special college years. She graduated in 1949 with a degree in Journalism and went on to work for a magazine in Cleveland, Ohio before she married my dad four years later. A real career girl at a time in history when most women didn't attend college, married young, and immediately started a family. She never stopped loving the written word and, until her eyes failed her in her late 80s, she was an avid reader. She will also be fondly remembered for those epic poems she wrote each of her nine grandchildren on their 16th birthdays!

From the top left: Mom (sitting on the left) reading with her sorority sisters; Mom (in the middle) wearing typical 40's fashion with the bobby socks, loafers, and saddle shoes--and don't forget the string of pearls; in the lower left is mom with the all-male editorial staff of her college newspaper. I'm sure she felt right at home since her dad owned and published a small weekly newspaper where she was put to work during the summer.

I know many of you won't be that interested in the above account of my side-trip to mom's university, but I treat my blog as a bit of a personal journal, too, and I'm so happy to have all of these special memories written down to look back on!

I'd like to share one more special photo that I took this month. I've been having a great deal of trouble waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back asleep for hours. On this special night, though, I was glad... Just look at the sight that was outside my window! This was taken at 2:59 in the morning of August 13th. I know--it looks like daylight! The moon was so brilliant and spectacular and the cross formation took my breath away!

It was the middle of the night, but the moon shone so brightly, it illuminated my entire back yard!

Well, that winds up another long post! I hope you all enjoy your month of September and find more stitching time as autumn approaches. I feel like I haven't done nearly as much stitching as normal--part of it is that I haven't been home as much and part of it is getting distracted by other projects (like cleaning out the attic!!).  Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, everyone! Bye for now...

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Two of my favorite things: stitching ornaments and relaxing in nature!

Happy August, everyone! I had high hopes of doing one more post in July, but, what can I say? Life just got in the way... I hope you are all doing well and surviving the heat. I will truly miss summer when it ends, but I know, for many of you, it's just been much too hot and humid. The past couple of weeks have been worrisome on my end as my little grandson was diagnosed with Covid... Unfortunately, his fever spiked so high that he had a seizure and his parents rushed him to the Emergency Room. According to the doctor, these febrile seizures aren't that uncommon in young children with high fevers, but it was still extremely scary for my oldest son and daughter-in-law to watch him experience one! Thankfully, the fever was brought down and they released him later that night (why do the scary things always seem to happen at night?). Of course, he shared the virus with his mom and dad and all three were stuck in Texas (where they were visiting my daughter-in-law's family) for two weeks. All are recovering now and have flown back home to Maryland. I think it's so much worse being sick away from home, don't you? We are thrilled that all are doing better and we're planning a trip to visit them in Maryland very soon. And we are hoping and praying that Mister B's seizure was just a one time thing...

Stitching has helped calm my nerves as usual and I have a few finishes to share with you today. The first is my Christmas ornament for July for the #12in22ornamentstitchalong which I am hosting on Instagram. I love how this crescent-shaped Santa turned out! Not the easiest finish as he is very small being stitched "over one" on black 28 ct. Monaco, but I just sewed very slowly and the moon shape came together very nicely. 

My ornament finish for July

I used all of the suggested colors for this one except for the green which I changed to DMC 3362.

It's hard to get a good photo of the entire ornament, but the cording is done with the same shade of blue as Santa's robe.

 
Love how tiny and delicate he looks!

This is actually the second crescent-shaped Santa that I've stitched from that booklet. His yellow-robed companion was done way back in 2010. Aren't they a handsome pair? 

Although the yellow finish looks larger, they are both stitched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco. I think I left more of a border on the yellow one and I wasn't making my own cording back in 2010 so the thicker store-bought yellow cording makes the ornament appear much larger.

And, baby boys have been popping up right and left in my circle of family and friends! Three new little ones greeted the world in June and July so I made each of them his first Christmas ornament. You longtime readers will recognize this design as it's one I've stitched before--many times, in fact! I've now given nine of these ornaments to newborn baby boys over the years. At this point, I think I could stitch the design in my sleep! What is the most you've ever stitched the same design?

A trio of JBW Designs gingerbread cuties

The chart is from JBW Designs and is called "Baby's First Christmas." I stitched these on 32 ct. black Belfast linen with most of the DMC colors that were suggested. I did use DMC 167 for the gingerbread boy's body and filled in his entire body instead of just outlining it as was charted. I also added a mini white pom-pom to the tip of the cap and three red beads were sewn to the holly branch to serve as berries. In place of the words "Baby's First Christmas," I stitched the name of each boy. I just love how these turned out and the parents seemed pretty happy, too! 

All ready for three little boys' first Christmases!

I'm still slowly working on a larger summer piece, but, at the rate I'm going, I won't have it finished by summer's end! What are you stitching this month?

Giveaway time... I want to offer another giveaway to my readers! Isn't this "Summer Time" chart (by New York Dreamer) adorable? It captures summer time life so perfectly with the words "sunny," "ice cream," "beach," "fun," and "sand castle" scattered about the beach scene. I want to thank Janet in Texas once again for providing this chart to pass on to my readers--I so appreciate your generosity, Janet!

If you would like to win this chart, please follow the guidelines below...

To be included in the drawing for the chart, please...

1) Specifically mention that you would like to win the chart in your comment 

2) Be a follower in my blog's sidebar (to the right)

3) Make sure to leave your email address in your comment if I don't already have it--(this is very important as I have no way of getting in touch with the winner if you don't)

4) Answer the "Getting to Know You" question below.

 

Getting to Know You... Today's question is a fun one (it's too hot to think about anything serious, right?!). The question for today is: "If you could eat only one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?" My answer came to me immediately--a hot fudge sundae! I can just picture it: a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, covered in thick, chocolatey sauce,  piled high with whipped cream, and sprinkled with peanuts or toasted pecans. Oh--and don't forget the juicy, red cherry on top! Am I making you hungry? YUM!! I've enjoyed hot fudge sundaes since I was a small child and never tire of them. Of course, I can't eat too many any longer, but I still sneak one in from time to time. What would be your dessert of choice? 


Anniversary trip... In my last post, I mentioned that my husband and I were heading off on a short trip to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Where did we go? Well, not wanting to fly or be around too many people with the heightened Covid warnings currently in place, we drove just over 3 1/2 hours to a beautiful spot I never knew existed until a co-worker told me about it nearly six years ago. We drove to southeast Ohio to Hocking Hills State Park and, oh my, if you ever get the chance--GO!! The spectacular rock formations, waterfalls, and miles of hiking paths can all be accessed for no charge. I'll let the photos do the talking--we truly loved visiting in the summer and hope to go back in the fall one of these years. (If anyone would like more information, you can click on the names in the photos below).

The very modern Airbnb that we stayed in. There were five cabins of various sizes located on a 19 acre lot. All were very private and so well appointed!

The interior (beautiful, but a bit too dark for those of us with "old eyes!" We actually had to use the flashlight on our phone to find the outlets to plug things in!).

Beginning our hike to Old Man's Cave

Dwarfed by the rock formations--the whole area had a very primeval feeling.

Three beautiful swallowtail butterflies relax in the sun along the creek.

A balancing rock! We quickly moved on by!

This area is known as "Devil's Bathtub." Legend has it that it goes straight down to hell, but, in truth it is only several feet deep.

A closer look at Devil's Bathtub. Swimming and wading are prohibited as it is extremely slippery and dangerous.

The massive horseshoe shaped structure known as "Ash Cave" was one of my favorite spots.

Behind the waterfall at Ash Cave

The beautiful view from "Rock House," the only true cave in Hocking Hills State Park.

The interior of Rock House worn smooth by water. It was inhabited by early Native Americans as evidenced by the "hominy holes"--small recesses in the walls which served as baking ovens. It was so dark inside that we used our iPhone flashlights to guide us! And no, I saw no bats--thank goodness!

A selfie from the inside of Rock House.

Walking back down to the comfort of our Airbnb after a long, hot day of hiking! I can't tell you how much I love using hiking poles!

We also took a little sidetrip on the way home which was very meaningful to me--I'll tell you about that next time!

The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me. Enjoying time in nature and relaxing with my needle and thread are two things I simply can't do without. I thought you'd enjoy these final photos of some of the magical sights that I've enjoyed right outside my own back door this past week...

Now that's what I call a rainbow! My husband took this photo right across the street after a brief rain shower.

We were thrilled to see a monarch butterfly caterpillar munching on the milkweed that my husband planted earlier this year in an effort to attract them.

What on earth??? I have never, ever seen this sight in all my 67 years--bald cardinals! Apparently, after nesting season, cardinals shed some feathers and, although rare, some may shed all the feathers on their heads at the same time. This poor couple looks like they have vulture heads on cardinal bodies, doesn't it? But, they should regrow their feathers and look "normal" very soon!

Whew... another long one! I hope at least some of you are still with me. I'd like to welcome all of my new followers and say a special "thank you" to you lovely folks who take the time to leave a comment or send an email. They mean so much to me and I truly love reading each and every one! I'll plan to be back later in the month with my August ornament finish--and, if all goes as planned, my finish for September's ornament, as well. If you would like to enter the giveaway for the Summer Time chart, please follow the guidelines above and I'll name the winner in my next post. Take care now, everyone! Bye for now...