Monday, January 31, 2022

One month down, eleven to go!

The final day of January--can you believe it? And my third post of the month--even more surprising! How is everyone doing? Surviving the winter okay? I hope that those of you who were caught in that massive snowstorm on the East Coast fared well and that February will be a bit easier for all. In our area of Pennsylvania they are saying this is the coldest weather we've had in four years--subzero temperatures in the mornings and barely getting into the 20's during the day. Today we are getting up to 34°F--heat wave! But, you all know what the best thing is about our cold winter, don't you? It makes for wonderful stitching weather. Honestly, is there anything better than snuggling under a  cozy, fleece blanket and stitching, stitching, stitching? I have to admit that since I've been retired and don't have to leave the house for work, the cold and snow really don't bother me (very much, anyway)!

I've finished my January ornament--can you tell which is the new building added to my little town? Why, it's the local diner on the far right of the photo--something every small town has (sometimes even more than one!). The six buildings that I've stitched so far include, the train station, the tree lot, the firehouse, the needlework shop, and Grandma's house. In my mind, I planned on stitching one each year, but with 22 in the series, and only 6 finished, I think I need to stitch more than one a year if I ever plan on finishing. You see, I'm 67 now and with 16 left to stitch, I'd be 83 years old by the time I finished the series! Um... no! Not going to happen... I can guarantee you I won't be stitching "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco at that age!

My Little House Needleworks "Hometown Holidays" finishes so far

Most of you will recognize the diner as part of the Little House Needleworks "Hometown Holiday" series. I made some color changes; the main change was to the roof as I wanted it to coordinate with the gold "Woolies Flannel" fabric that I had chosen for the finish. Other changes included leaving out the front portion of snow, adding two candles in the center of the two windows, and topping the tree with a gold star. I truly love how this one turned out!

The Hometown Diner--freshest pies around!

Here is a close-up for you...

Can you see the little candles I added to the windows?

As I was stitching the diner, memories of my first real summer job came flooding back. You see, I actually worked at my small hometown diner as a waitress in the summer of 1974. I well remember the night I came home from my very first shift: I was exhausted, my feet hurt, and I smelled like grease from the kitchen odors (where I also had to wash dishes when I wasn't waiting on tables!). I remember telling my mom that I just couldn't go back... But, then the tips started pouring in and I learned to enjoy my three month summer job. The two other waitresses were fun to work with and I even developed a soft spot for the crusty, old cook who constantly had a cigarette hanging from her mouth (yes, people were allowed to smoke at work in those days!). 


This is the actual diner I worked at in my small western New York hometown in the summer of 1974

Giveaway time...  I found this very pretty small sampler (it measures  just 98 X 70) and thought it would make a sweet giveaway for this time of year. I love the large thistle in the center--such pretty colors, too! This chart does have some specialty stitches in it so I would not call it a beginner design. If you would like to win this design (simply a chart torn from the March/April 1992 issue of Cross Stitch & Country Crafts  magazine. I will fold and mail it to the winner in a legal-sized envelope to save on postage), please: 1) Specifically mention that you'd like to win the "Thistles and Flowers" chart in your comment below, 2) Answer the "Getting to Know You" question below, and 3) Make sure to include your email address if I don't already have it.

I'm giving away this sweet chart called "Thistles and Flowers"

Getting to know you... It's been a while since I've had a giveaway and asked a "Getting to Know You" question! For today's question, I'm wondering what one of your first jobs was and what you learned from it or found interesting about it? Here is my answer: Working as a waitress in my hometown diner over 40 years ago began a lifetime of jobs working with the public. And it taught me so much... I still remember the well-dressed older couple who I assumed would be big tippers. Nope--they left me a quarter. And then there were the shaggy looking younger guys who tipped big (but that may have had more to do with my waist-length straight hair and short white uniform than my performance as a waitress--ha ha! I mean it was the early '70s after all!). My waitressing job taught me to be patient and kind with those in public service as exemplified by the four businessmen whose laps became the recipients of the four large sodas  that spilled all over them when I set down my tray too quickly! They were so kind to me as I teared up and apologized profusely--a lesson I always remembered and carried throughout life. I think you can tell a lot about a person's character by how they treat shopkeepers, waitresses, grocery store workers, etc.--anyone you come in contact with on a daily basis. Please remember to always be kind... Now, it's your turn--I'd love to hear about one of your early jobs and what you took away from it!

On Instagram, I posted my Pottery Barn cubby filled with snowmen and winter stitching for January and it was a huge hit! Unfortunately, Pottery Barn seems to have discontinued making the cubbies and I've had a lot of disappointed stitching friends who are unable to find one of their own. I suggest keeping your eye out for other cubbies like printer's trays at antique shops. Some folks told me Hobby Lobby also offers a similar smaller cubby, too. Anyway, I thought you'd like to see the snowmen display as I know all of you are not on Instagram... Do you have a favorite? I think mine are in cubbies #6, #10, and #12, but they all make me smile.

Snowmen have taken over my Pottery Barn cubby for the month!

Lots of blue--my favorite color!

Wordle... Okay, who else has become obsessed with Wordle, the online word game? My middle son told me about it earlier this year and I can't wait to play it each morning. My family often compares scores and strategies and dumb mistakes that we make in trying to guess the five letter word that is offered each day. (You have to go to the website to play--it is not an app). The idea of it, for those of you who haven't heard, is to try to guess the five-letter word within six tries. I usually manage to get the correct answer in four, but not all the time! I think what I like most about it, is it is only offered once a day and so you don't spend hours and hours playing it like some other online games. Also, there are no ads or annoying pop-ups (kind of like my blog!). Give it a try and let me know what you think. You can find the website, right here: Wordle website.

My Wordle game from Sunday

This funny deer made his way into our yard last week and we've seen him wandering around a few times since then. When I spotted him, I asked my husband what was on his antlers and he said it looked like moss, but as the deer got closer, I saw shredded ribbons and greenery. I think it was someone's old Christmas wreath that he had found blown off a door or been discarded for trash pick-up. Poor guy! It doesn't seem to bother him, but I hope it eventually falls off! I wonder if he is attracting any female deer with his fancy headdress?!

What a fancy deer!

We've been snow-covered most of January and although pretty, I am starting to tire of it! I'd say we have close to a foot on the ground right now because it's been so cold, the snow is simply not melting! Our pond at the rear of our yard has actually frozen over for the first time in years.

My backyard and pond after a fresh January snowfall

But no matter how cold the weather, kids seem to love playing in the snow, don't they? I found this cute photo of my oldest son recently and combined it alongside a photo of his own son (my grandson) as they enjoyed their snowy days. The little shovel my grandson is using actually belonged to my sons when they were little boys. I'm guessing the photo of my son was from 1985 or so when he was about 3 years old.

Snowy smiles for my oldest son and his own son, Mister B

I want to thank each of you for taking the time to visit and read my post today--and a special thank you to those of you who comment. I always love to hear from you! Hope February brings many relaxing stitching hours and much time spent with those you love most in the world. I hope to be back with a couple of Valentine finishes before too long--we'll see! Take care now, my friends. Bye for now...

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Another year older and sharing my final finishes of 2021

Oh, those old birthdays sure do come around quickly, don't they? I remember so badly wanting to be older when I was young--to do the "grown-up" things that all the big kids were allowed to do: ride my bike in the street, stay outside past dark playing with the neighborhood kids, walk to school by myself... But, now that I've reached my late 60's, I so wish time would slow down. I want more time to spend with my family, especially my grandson, more time to stitch every single chart in my stash and then some, more hours in the day to re-read favorite books and discover new ones. But, that's not how life works, is it? I turned 67 on Sunday and some days seem to pass in a blur. I begin each day with the best of intentions, but sometimes feel that I've accomplished nothing by the time my head hits the pillow at night. Does anyone else feel that way?

Well, enough of my philosophical ramblings on life and getting older! I actually do have some stitching to share with you today even though it is from 2021. I want to share the Christmas gifts that I made and sent out around the world to various stitching friends. As usual, I wish I could send many more gifts, but I'm only human and can only do so much! Anyway, I hope you will, perhaps, gain some inspiration from these finishes...

This charming Prairie Schooler piece is from Book No. 133 called "Winter Wind." It is only the top quarter of the design and one I've stitched before for myself (you can see my first finish in this post). This was stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle with the suggested colors. This one is finished a bit differently as I actually forgot to attach the red beads (which represented the berries on each border), but, thankfully, the recipient liked it as is!

A portion of Prairie Schooler's "Winter Wind" stitched as an ornament


Next up, are two little round ornaments (have you noticed I seem to enjoy making round and oval ornaments more and more?) which went to two friends in Virginia. Again, this is a chart I've stitched before, although not "over one" like I did with these two. This is "French Country Snowflake" by JBW Designs. I used 25 ct. water sapphire Lugana and stitched them "over one" with white Anchor thread. I did omit the word "snowflake" that was charted. I think these designs are so clever with the miniature winter motifs featured inside! Can you spy the snowman, the skate, the reindeer, the sled, and the cottage? So creative!

Two JBW Designs "French Country Snowflake" ornaments


This Cricket Collection cardinal mitten is one that I haven't stitched before, but I love how it turned out. I used 40 ct. R&R salt marsh green linen with the suggested DMC colors for this finish. Beads were added for the cardinal's eyes and I turned it into a round ornament for my bird-loving friend.

The Cricket Collection cardinal mitten

The next ornament is one of my favorites as I love the Christmas greeting on it and, of course, that darling little bunny. This one can be found in the 2011 Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine and is a design by The Sampler Girl. It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. tea-dyed Monaco with most of the suggested colors. I did change the red to my go-to Christmas red: DMC 221. I'm happy to say the little bunny is residing, very happily, "across the pond" now!

"Good Tidings to You" by The Sampler Girl


In addition to the ornaments, I also made 5 cross-stitch cards. I enjoy receiving cross-stitched cards because, often, you can remove the stitching and make it into a new little ornament for your tree. I'm hoping that some of these cards will be turned into ornaments as well by the recipients. Cards are also a wonderful gift for international friends because the cost of shipping has really gotten out of hand, hasn't it? Believe it or not, the four cards shown below all came from the same chart! They are from "Winter's Song" by Plum Pudding Needleart--don't you love that cardinal? The card on the left is the full design stitched "over one" on 28 ct. Bay Leaf Jobelan. I actually stitched another as my August ornament last year (which you can read about here). And the three cards on the right are that same cardinal stitched "over two" on 28 ct. black Monaco.

Four stitched cards from "Winter's Song" by Plum Pudding Needleart

The final gift is simply another variation of the JBW Designs "French Country Snowflake" stitched "over one" on 28 ct. white Monaco. For the soft pink shade, I used Classic Colorworks "Sea Shelley." I don't stitch with pink very often, but I truly enjoyed it!

JBW Designs "French Country Snowflake" card


In other stitching news, I'm happy to report that a new piece has been hung after many, many years.  It took 8 long years to get this piece  on display! I began the With Thy Needle and Thread "Birds Of a Feather" sampler back in 2014, finished it in 2019 (if you want the details on the finish, just check here), and framed it last year. And finally, finally, I've hung it in my living room. Doesn't it look pretty against the backdrop of the blue walls? 

Framed "Birds Of a Feather" sampler by With Thy Needle and Thread

Here's a close-up of the frame... I sent this one to Total Framing in Virginia and the whole process was very easy (although I did have to wait nearly four months for it to come back to me). One of my goals for 2022 is to get more things framed and on my walls! We'll see how I do...


Other than stitching an ornament each month, I never have specific goals of what I want to stitch. But, this year, for some reason, Christmas stitching is calling to me. I don't mean ornaments, but larger Christmas pieces that I can frame. There are so many truly lovely Christmas designs out there and I honestly think I'm happiest when stitching anything Christmas related. So, I've ordered a few larger Christmas charts that (I hope) to share with you as I stitch them. This may be the year of "all Christmas, all year!" Just a warning :)

A birthday to remember... I was so surprised when my three sons told me they wanted to give me a family getaway weekend at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland for my birthday present this year. I mean, it wasn't even a milestone birthday! But, I think they just wanted to celebrate the fact that everyone is back on the East Coast and liven up the otherwise dull month of January (have I mentioned how much I dislike having a January birthday? Yes, I have--many, many times :)  Anyway, we arrived at our lovely rented lake home on Friday evening and prepared to settle in for what would be a nice cozy three-day weekend. We played games, went to a nature center, ate way too much food, snacked our way through the day, and were thoroughly entertained by "Mister B" who is just delighted at all the new words he can say. Below is my favorite photo of the weekend as my husband holds our little grandson looking out over Deep Creek Lake.

Little did we know that Mother Nature would interfere... The snow forecasts kept getting worse and worse so we pushed my birthday celebration up a day and ended up having to drive home on my actual birthday. We just couldn't risk traveling in the snow and ice with my grandson in the mix. My husband and I (and my middle son and his girlfriend) were heading north ahead of the storm so we made it home with no incident. My youngest and oldest son (and his family) were heading east, however, and it was an entirely different story for them. The youngest, who left later than the oldest, encountered roads so treacherous that he saw a big truck jack-knifed across the road right in front of him! Thank goodness, he hadn't left five minutes earlier... Things were so bad, he finally drove to his brother's house to relax and calm down for the evening before getting back on the road again. I'm sure some of you have never driven on icy, snow-covered roads, but it is exhausting and nerve-racking!

Thankfully, we all made it home safely and this will surely be a birthday weekend that we'll talk about for years to come.  I really am beyond touched that my sons gave me such a wonderful gift, even if our time together was cut short! I love those guys so very much!

My sons gave me a wonderful birthday weekend! Believe it or not, it was freezing outside--and very windy with temperatures  in the low 'teens. I don't know how my sons dared go out without jackets  while I'm all bundled up!


Much to my surprise, my birthday wasn't over! This week, I received three lovely gifts from stitching friends June, April, and Vickie--thank you all so much. I really am thrilled that you would remember me! And a big thank you to those of you who sent cards and emailed birthday messages...

Gifts from June in Great Britain: a lovely notebook, a much-needed new pen, cute keychain, and a fun tag about chocolate. Thank you so much, June!

Gifts from April in Virginia: a beautifully stitched and finished ornament for my tree, yummy cinnamon pecans (if my husband behaves, I'll share some with him!), and a cute "Sew Happy" notepad. Thank you so much, April!

Gift from Vickie in Wisconsin: a darling black cat wool needlebook. She knew my old kitty was an all-black cat so she modeled her creation after Shadow. I told her I can also use it as a finger puppet to entertain my grandson when we FaceTime! Thank you so much, Vickie!


We did end up with about 8 inches of snow from the weekend storm, but it was much worse down in Maryland where we had rented the lake house. It really was lovely to wake up to on Monday morning, though--our first real snow this year! The cardinals look so pretty against the snowy background, don't they?

Such a beautiful couple!

And that's it for this post! I'm working on my ornament for January (it's stitched, but not finished) so I just may be back before the end of the month to share that with you. If not--I'll see everyone in early February. Just a gentle reminder to make sure to include your email address if you want me to try to answer your questions. I have no way of responding if you don't! I hope you enjoy this last ten days of the month--it sure seems like 2022 is already speeding by, doesn't it? Thank you for all of your wonderful comments and emails--I so appreciate each and every one. Bye for now...

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

And so a new year begins...

Happy January, my friends! How is everyone faring in this, the very first week of a newly minted year? I've seen that many of you are getting snow, but, here, it's just green grass and sunshine this week. Such a strange winter so far--we've received nothing more than a dusting of snow that quickly melted. I'm beginning to think our whole winter will be like this. 

I fully intended on one last post in 2021, but with my grandson and his parents here for two weeks, I just had no free time. I took the advice my own mom gave me when I was a busy young mother--sleep when the child sleeps. I went to bed early and at least laid down to rest when "Mister B" napped. I'm feeling all of my 67 years (well, I'll be 67 in 12 days!) and now fully understand why you have kids at a young age! Whew! But, oh we had fun! I am just amazed at the words he is learning to say every day--big words like pinecone, candle, tunnel, twinkle... I love just watching his little mind at work. We danced and sang and had the best time with him. Such a smiley, happy little soul!

Needless to say, no stitching was done at all during the visit--oh, how I missed it and it made me realize (even more) just how much of a stress reliever it is for me. Luckily, I do have some ornaments that I made for the youngsters in our family to share with you today...

Three ornaments for three dear little ones!

From left to right, I'll give you the details on each ornament seen above... The sweet rabbit in the Christmas stocking is a freebie called "Remy Rabbit" from Brooke's Books that you can find right here. It looks quite a bit different from the charted design as I left off the border and the number 18 (it is part of an Advent calendar so all of the designs have large numbers on them). I also changed a few of the colors and made it into an oval by adding various snowflakes. This is stitched on 40 ct. water green Newcastle which is fast becoming one of my favorite fabrics for ornament stitching.

"Remy Rabbit" freebie by Brooke's Books

Many of you will recognize this JBW Designs gingerbread boy ornament as it is one I've stitched at least five times before! This cutie is stitched on 32 ct. black Belfast linen with DMC threads. I did fill in the gingerbread boy with DMC 167 rather than just outline him as was charted. I also stitched the little baby's name rather than the words "Baby's First Christmas." I added red beads for the holly berries and a miniature white pompom to the tip of his cap. Such a cute ornament for a baby's first Christmas, don't you think?

The 6th JBW gingerbread ornament I've stitched!

And finally, my grandson's ornament this year is designed by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery and can be found in the 2017 Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine. It's called "Snow Much Fun at the North Pole" and is stitched on 40 ct. water green Newcastle linen with DMC and Anchor threads. I changed the base to green and white and stitched my grandson's name (which is blurred for privacy) in the white band. I also added some different snowflakes than were charted. The little penguin  got a white mini pompom added to his hat, too.

A little penguin for my little grandson!

My grandson opened his ornament while sitting at the kitchen table with us before breakfast and as soon as he saw it, he pointed to the little tree sitting in the center and said "Tee, tee!" He wanted me to hang it up on the tiny tree--so cute! So that is where it stayed until he went home, taking the ornament with him for his family tree. 

"Mister B" knew right where he wanted to hang his new ornament!


I have additional stitched ornaments that I sent out as gifts in 2021, but I'll share those with you in the next post. I received many lovely Christmas packages from wonderful stitching friends--thank you all so much. Here are the photos of them (in no particular order)...

A beautiful "Cricket Collection" mitten from Stasi (stasibbee on Instagram)

A darling cardinal ornament and acrylic "Stitch Starter" and case from Robin (robin_in_virginia on Instagram)

A beautiful Joy-filled ornament and some Jelly Bellies from Georgia (georgiawireman on Instagram)

The sweetest ivory colored wool strawberry and some floss cards from Claire (blackberryhill1 on Instagram)

A darling blue and white sewing tray, cute Santa chart, and some candy from June

A sweet stocking ornament made from a vintage hexie quilt from Vickie (stitchingvickie on Instagram)

A trio of beautiful cards from three friends in Germany: Left to right is a TIAG angel from Gabi; a lovely blue wreath from Martina (martinas_allerleihobby on Instagram); and a pretty quilt star from Manuela (manuelas_flowergarden on Instagram)

A truly lovely piece of hand embroidery made by my new friend from the Czech Republic, Eva

A darling "With Thy Needle and Thread" ornament from Cindy (cindyderosa on Instagram)

A lovely French cross stitch magazine and some finishing supplies from Nathalie

A luscious skein of red silk thread and a Santa Claus waxer from Cindy (cindycstitches on Instagram)

I have been blessed to "meet" so many wonderful stitchers from all over the world! Thank you one and all for thinking of me at Christmas time... I will treasure your gifts and think of you whenever I look at them! I also want to thank those of you who sent Christmas cards--I loved hearing from each of you. As I've said many times in the past, stitching friends are the best!

It's fun to look back on the past year and remember what you've stitched, isn't it? So many memories and times and places are attached to each piece. On Instagram these were my most liked photos--that Pottery Barn cubby seems to rank pretty high! I'm about ready to change it up for January with some smiling snowmen so I'll share that with you in my next post. 

In 2021, my Pottery Barn cubby and Christmas ornaments were liked the most on my Instagram Top Nine!

Once again, I am leading a monthly ornament stitchalong (SAL) on Instagram! If you'd like to join in on the fun, just post your finished ornaments each month using the hashtag #12in22ornamentstitchalong. It's a great way to meet new stitchers and be inspired by their work. We have stitchers from all over the world participating--France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Spain, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, The Ukraine, Canada, the United States, and more! There is a wonderfully supportive stitching community on Instagram so if you want to join in and follow me, you can do so right here! There is no pressure to stitch all twelve ornaments--just do the best that you can. Even if you only stitch one ornament, it's better than having no new ones to add to your tree, right? Just imagine how happy your tree will be come December with some beautiful brand-new handstitched ornaments hanging on it!

Are you interested in stitching an ornament each month? If so, join in on the #12in22ornamentstitchalong on Instagram--the more the merrier!


Christmas, although still wonderful, wasn't my best as I came down with some sort of stomach flu or food poisoning the afternoon of Christmas Eve Day! UGH--DOUBLE UGH! I had to go right to bed very early that evening and couldn't even help my little grandson set out milk and cookies for Santa. And after spending most of the early hours of Christmas day sick to my stomach in the bathroom, I was in no shape to help cook our traditional big Christmas breakfast. So we postponed it a day and just opened gifts on Christmas morning which worked out fine. My little grandson, "Mister B," was a bit confused by everything, but he loved all the wrapping paper and boxes! Here is my favorite photo of me reading his new cat book to him--a gift from my middle son and his girlfriend. I'm back to normal now, but it took a few days to get my strength back and my stomach to calm down. On the plus side, I think that was the first Christmas ever that I didn't gain any weight!

I could sit and read to my sweet grandson all day! He absolutely loved his new cat book from his uncle!


New Year's Eve was quiet here--we all ended up watching the movie "The Proposal" (again!) in honor of sweet Betty White who passed away that day. I am still shocked that she didn't make it to 100, but what a wonderful life she had. I am always rather sad on New Year's Eve for some reason and really think about and miss my dear mom and dad that day.

Happiest moment of the year... It's been our tradition for many years to go around the dinner table and talk about our happiest moment (or one of them!) of the year that is just ending. What would you pick? Mine was something that happened on our first visit to my grandson's new home in Maryland in early October. When we arrived, he was napping, but as soon as he woke up his mom went up to get him. As she was carrying him down the stairs, he caught sight of me, gave a little squeal, and began kicking his legs madly. He reached out to me and practically jumped into my arms. I think that was when I realized that he truly knew who I was and knew I was someone special in his life. Just thinking about it now, makes me smile :) What would you say is one of your happiest moments of 2021? I'd love to hear about it!

So, that's it--my first post of 2022! I want to thank all of you who have followed me for the past 13 years! My blog will be entering it's 14th year later this month--can you believe it? Have any of you read along since the beginning in 2009? I think there might be a couple of you out there :) I also want to give a warm welcome to all of you new followers as well--so glad you are here. It warms my heart to know you find my little old blog interesting enough to visit. Wishing you every happiness in this new year! Bye for now...