Monday, February 28, 2022

A pair of Prairie Schooler Santas (with pears to pare)!

And here we are again--the end of another month! How have you been? I'm sure most of you have watched with heavy hearts as, yet again, parts of the world descend into war. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the brave Ukrainian people--I honestly can't believe this is happening in the 21st century. The young mothers walking for miles while carrying their small children across the borders into the safety of neighboring countries especially break my heart. And then there are the elderly, many of whom lived through WWII only to see madness and evil swoop into their country once again. It is all so senseless... This certainly puts things in perspective, doesn't it? The little things we worry about on a daily basis seem so silly and inconsequential when compared to what the Ukrainian citizens are dealing with...

When I am anxious, my needle and thread offer a great deal of comfort and I have been stitching a lot over the past four days. I've finished my ornaments for February and for March. Both are Prairie Schooler Santas and both have a pear theme. 

My ornaments for February and March--Prairie Schooler Santas, of course!


For February, I chose the Prairie Schooler Santa from "Santa's 12 Days of Christmas 1-4 (Book No. 125). I am not stitching all 12 so I'm leaving the large numbers off the ones I do stitch; in this case I left the number 1 off the right side underneath the pear tree. I stitched this one on 40 ct. vintage country mocha Newcastle and made a few changes. 

♪♫♪  A Santa with a pear tree!  ♪♫♪

The main change I made was to substitute DMC 221 for the suggested color--in my mind, that is the classic PS red! I also changed the border from a solid backstitched line to an alternating one and changed the shape of the top pear in the middle. My finish was the same as I've done in the past--a simple border of handmade cording and a gingham bow. 

My ornament for February 2022

And, in keeping with the PS Santa/pear theme, I went ahead and finished my ornament for March as well. This one is from the Prairie Schooler Mini Card Set A which you can see right here. The set offers ten mini-cards for only $8.00. I used 32 ct. black Belfast linen for this finish and again, changed the red in Santa's suit to DMC 221. I also changed the pear color to DMC 832. 

And yet another PS Santa with a tiny pear tree!

For the finish, I used a square of green gingham in the background and bordered the stitching with green cording topped with a festive checked bow. I also added a couple of sprigs of artificial holly (cut from a garland) and tiny gold bells which pick up the color of the pear. To back this sort of ornament finish, I simply use a square piece of black felt cut to size.

My ornament finish for March 2022


It's nice to have my ornament for March done early as I'm working on a couple of larger projects this month. What are they? Well, you'll just have to wait and be surprised!

I had a lovely surprise from another stitcher who reads my blog! Linda, from North Carolina, sent me two Lizzie Kate charts that I can use for giveaways. Wasn't that sweet of her? Thank you so very much, Linda! She knew one of you would want to stitch them and our hope is that after you've stitched one, you'll pass it along to another stitching friend. So, for spring (hooray!), I'm offering this cute LK chart called "Sampling Easter" (and the included rabbit charm) as a giveaway.

If you would like to win this chart (with the rabbit charm), please leave a comment and follow the guidelines mentioned below...

How do you enter to win the chart? 1) Specifically mention that you would like to win the chart in your comment; 2) Please be a follower and make sure to leave your email address if I don't already have it and; 3) Answer the "Getting to Know You" question below. 

But, before we get to the question of the month, let's talk about the title of my blog post today: "A pair of Prairie Schooler Santas (with pears to pare)!"  Oh, my--did you notice all those homophones (words that sound the same, but have different meanings and spellings)? It is said that homophones are one of the hardest ideas to understand for people who are learning English. In the case of my blog post today: pair means two or a set of two, pear is a fruit, and pare means to cut off the outer skin or reduce in size. And yet they all sound exactly the same! OH, MY!!! My hat goes off to you amazing folks who have learned to speak English as a second language. 

Getting To Know You...  So, my question today is: Can you speak another language? Was it hard to learn? Can you speak even more than two languages? I so admire those of you who leave comments in English and even blog in English when it is not your native language. My daughter-in-law is bilingual and she and my oldest son are raising my grandson to speak both Spanish and English. It's just fascinating to watch him pick up both languages so quickly at his young age. As for my answer... well, yes, I can speak a bit of Spanish and an even tinier bit of French, but am, in no way, fluent in either. I took Spanish for 6 years in school, but then made the big mistake of taking French when I went away to college (or university as many of you call it). Oh, that was a huge mistake... Here I was trying to speak French and all I sounded like was an American trying to speak French with a Spanish accent! So, all these years later, I remember some basic words in both languages, but not much else. How about you?

We made a quick trip to Maryland to see our grandson,  Mister B, last week--oh, my, how quickly he has grown and changed in just one month! Word after word after word just comes out of that tiny mouth of his. It's amazing how quickly little ones pick up new words at this age. Since he loves airplanes (and really anything that moves--buses, trains, cars, trucks, etc.) we took him to the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Planes and helicopters and rockets and satellites galore! Mister B loved them all.

Airplanes everywhere the eye could see!

Mister B spent much of his time trying to scale the gates around the exhibits to get up close and personal with the aircraft!

The massive space shuttle Discovery was first launched in 1984 and completed nearly 40 missions.

The umbrella-like things hanging from the ceiling are tracking and data relay satellites. They look so delicate, don't they?


Baking is another thing I do when I get anxious and, luckily, I had a good excuse to bake cupcakes for my middle son's girlfriend, who celebrated a birthday on Saturday. I've made these before, but I know many of you are new readers who might enjoy making this small batch chocolate cupcake recipe. I used this recipe from the "Celebrating Sweets" blog and it made seven cupcakes--so yummy and moist! There is a bit of brewed coffee in the recipe which really brings out the chocolatey taste! For the frosting, I made a batch of the vanilla (from that same blog) and also a half batch of the creamy peanut butter from the "Peas and Crayons" blog which you can find right here.  Hope you enjoy them--let me know how they turn out if you do end up making them!

Which one would you choose? For me, it will always be the peanut butter and chocolate combo!

Thank you for visiting me today! I appreciate each and every one of you--I hope you know that... Do take care and, hopefully, my next post in mid-March will be under more peaceful conditions around the world. Bye for now...

Friday, February 11, 2022

V is for Valentine!

How can it be (almost) the middle of February already? I always look forward to February because it is such a short month and it leads into March which means... spring! I also love February because of the beautiful Valentine's Day designs that are out there. It means stitching with pinks and fuchsias and reds--not colors I use very often. I managed to stitch two Valentine's Day pieces this month (I try to add a couple new ones to my collection each year) and I'm so happy with how they both turned out. 

First up, is a finish for me to keep--and there was a lot more stitching in it than I originally thought there would be. That basket! Anyway--isn't it pretty? This is "V is for Valentine" by Heartstring Samplery and I adore those colors together. The red thread is a gorgeous Gloriana silk called "Poinsettia." Other than changing the red and that pale pink color (I substituted Gentle Arts Cameo Pink), I used the suggested colors and stitched it on a beautiful 40 ct. linen called "Alabaster" (which is the palest of grays). I ordered the linen from this Etsy shop in Hungary: xjudesigns. Her linen is lovely and she offers free shipping when you spend over $50.00 (be sure to use the code mentioned on her Etsy page).

"V is For Valentine" finish

I added a bow made of a sheer black ribbon and then topped it with a smaller bow made of black and white gingham check. A sweet silver heart charm was then sewn to hand down from the bows. I thought the background fabric really picked up the colors of the stitching perfectly. Surrounding the circle is black pompom trim. The frame is one I've used before for a previous finish; will just pop in this piece each February and then replace it with what normally lives there. This was a thrifted frame that I chalk painted and distressed. 

Love the pretty filigree heart

Did you notice that wonderful old key in the photo? That was given to me years ago by my mother-in-law and I so wish I knew the history behind it. I will  have my husband check with her, but at almost 94 years of age, I doubt she'll remember. Anyway, it is old and crusty and huge--almost 9 inches long (which gives you a better idea of the size of the finish). I love it so much and usually have it as part of a seasonal vignette on the table in my entryway.

The special antique key was given to me by my mother-in-law

My second finish may look familiar to you long time readers because it is one I've stitched before--in fact this is the third time! This Lizzie Kate design (called "Be Mine Valentine") was sent to a friend for her February birthday. I thought it would be perfect for someone with a birthday so close to Valentine's Day. I used 16 ct. natural Heatherfield (which has been discontinued) with most of the suggested overdyed threads. The pink gingham shown is the backing fabric and I used my handmade cording to surround it.

"Be Mine Valentine" for a friend

Here is a closeup of the double bow and the sweet silver-toned key charm. I'm happy to say my friend loves her birthday gift!

Love the effect of the double ribbon, pearl topped pin, and key charm!


Behind the scenes, I'm working on a very special Christmas themed piece. Remember I told you I planned on working on some larger Christmas pieces this year? Well, I spent my Christmas gift certificate at 123 Stitch last week and these goodies just arrived! I'm thinking about stitching the "Christmas Rules" in the upper left for my little grandson at some point in the next year or two. But, I wonder which one I should start for myself? Which would you pick?

I foresee lots of Christmas stitching in my future!


Giveaway winner... Oh, how I loved reading about your early jobs in my last post in the "Getting To Know You" section! Thank you so much for joining in--it's fun to learn a bit more about our fellow stitchers, don't you think? I had quite a few entries for the pretty "Thistles and Flowers" chart and the winner's name pulled from the hat was...

CLARE (in England)

Congratulations, Clare! I hope you love stitching this sweet design. Please email me with your mailing address and I will get it off to you as soon as possible. Thank you to all who entered--and please keep an eye on this space for future giveaways.

Blog book... As many of you know, I have my blog put into book form using I wait until I have two years worth of posts to send in for each book and my latest one covers the years 2019 and 2020. It's a big one--the biggest one yet at 437 pages! Can you imagine?! The good thing is that blog2print offers discount codes fairly regularly and I got this book for 45% off the normal price. I'm very pleased with the quality of the book--my only complaint (as usual) is that the captions don't end up centered under the photos. But, I can live with that!
I chose "Winter's Wisdom" for the cover of my latest blog book

And the back of the book my finish of the "Birds of a Feather" sampler by With Thy Needle and Thread

I love having an actual book that I wrote filled with photos of my stitching, travels, holidays, family memories, and baking. This 2019-2020 book is especially meaningful because it contains photos from...

... our special anniversary river boat cruise down the Danube in 2019 of every single piece I stitched in 2019 and 2020

...recollections of some of my life's biggest milestones including the birth of my first grandchild in July 2020 and the death of my dear mother just 16 days later. The Covid pandemic also haunts nearly every post of 2020.

Here is the stack of all six books! I can hardly believe I wrote every single word in each book and took most of the photos. My 2019/2020 book is dedicated to my mother and my little grandson. 


That's a heavy stack of "Stitching Dreams" from 2009-2020!


It's still very wintry here... haven't seen the grass since early January. I took this photo the other morning as the sun was peeking up over the hill. Everything looked so very calm and tranquil. The ice storm we got left everything shimmering--like a fairyland! Of course, the ice caused some branches to fall, including a large one in our pond. But, we were lucky--we didn't lose power at all. How did you all fare in that latest winter cross-country storm?

A sparkly February morning view from my bathroom window


I'll leave you with this little vignette of a few of my Valentine's finishes. I actually didn't put all of my Valentine's stitching out on display this year for some reason. The snowmen in the Pottery Barn cubby refused to yield their spaces so I simply left them there for the month of February. I may need to get tough with them in March, though--ha ha! I did put together this little display shown below  containing my newest Valentine's finish along with three little gingham hearts that I made last week.

Happy Valentine's Day!


I hope each of you has a lovely Valentine's Day... Nothing special is planned here although I will probably make a tasty dessert. How about your plans? Thank you so much for stopping by today--it's always wonderful to hear from you and see some new stitchers' names among the comments. Welcome to all of my new followers--I'm so glad you are here! Take care, my friends! Bye for now...