Thursday, December 29, 2022

Thankful at year's end

Hello, my friends! I can't believe there are only two days left in 2022, can you? I can honestly say this past year has not been the best for our family, and yet, I continue to count my blessings. The sad times will fade to distant memories, but I have faith that the good times will continue to shine brightly in my mind. I am so thankful for my family and friends, my hobbies, my home, my health. I truly have been blessed in this life...

The view from my kitchen into my sunroom


I've also been blessed to be part of the stitching community here on my blog and on Instagram--what a wonderful bunch you are! I received some lovely Christmas presents from many of you and I'd like to publicly thank each gift-giver today. In no particular order, I received these lovelies in December...

From June: a  charming nativity stitched card, Madame La Fée chart, bookmark, and fabric. Thank you my friend!

From Vickie: a beautiful handmade scissor sheath in the prettiest floral fabric. Thank you, my friend!

From Stasi: a lovely ornament and a small kit with lots of pretty blue threads. Thank you, my friend!

From Cindy (cindyderosa on Instagram): a lovely Noel ornament and a yummy gingerbread dark chocolate bar. Thank you, my friend!

From Robin (robin_in_virginia on Instagram): a beautiful bird-themed ornament and a cut of one of my favorite linens. Thank you, my friend!

From Claire B. (blackberryhill1 on Instagram): one of her beautifully sewn wool strawberries in navy blue, and an adorable blue and white thread ring. Thank you, my friend!

From April (in Virginia): a sweet framed stitching of holly, a Christmas notepad, and some delicious chocolate-covered pecans. Thank you, my friend!

From Cindy C. (cindycstitches on Instagram): a lovely Christmas Joy ornament and the sweetest quilled card. Thank you, my friend!

Three darling stitched cards from my German friends.  Right to left from: Martina, Manuela, and Gabi

I sent out quite a few gifts, too, but I'll save them to share with you in my next post. Thank you also to those of you who sent cards in the mail--I do love to receive a good old-fashioned Christmas card. Many thanks to Sandy, Marilyn, Georgia, Barb R., Karen Y., Lee, Tricia, and Charlene... I truly enjoyed reading each one!

And, I would be remiss if I didn't offer two more thank yous--to those generous stitchers, Janet in Texas, and Linda in North Carolina, who so nicely passed on charts that I could use as giveaways on my blog from time to time. I truly appreciate your giving spirits, Janet and Linda--thank you again! And I know all of you folks who have won a chart this year through the giveaways, thank you, too.

Giveaway time... We haven't had a giveaway in a while, have we? Well, how about today? This cute chart (from Janet in Texas) will be a perfect winter stitch for one of you, don't you think? It is called "Winter Things" and is a design from Waxing Moon Designs. Who would like to win it? I'll pick the winner at random and announce the name in my first post for 2023...

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).

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

Getting To Know You...  My question for today is: "Do you have a New Year's resolution or something you would really like to work on or change about yourself in the coming year?" My answer... I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do have something I really want to change about myself...  I want to get up earlier! I've developed this very bad habit of laying in bed for a couple of hours each morning checking emails, scrolling through social media, reading the news, etc. when I could be up and doing something useful like reading a book, stitching (or even cleaning!) instead of wasting time. That is definitely something I want to work on to change in 2023. Time is so fleeting--I can't afford to be wasting it! How about you--is there anything you want to change about yourself?

Our Christmas was quiet and cold--the poor woodland creatures came in droves to our bird feeders during the zero degree temperatures. Thankfully, it has now warmed up to unseasonably warm days for a while and the snow has all melted. It sure was nice having a white Christmas, though. My middle son and his girlfriend were able to join us for Christmas Eve dinner (traditional manicotti and homemade multi-grain bread) and then also for a late brunch where we baked our once-a-year cinnamon buns (you can find a link to the recipe and a photo right here). After brunch we all sat in front of the toasty fire and worked on puzzles or stitched--a most relaxing day.

A trio of hungry deer visit on Christmas Eve

Even the Mourning Doves, who normally feed from the ground, couldn't stand the cold snow. It was so unusual to see them perched up high!


We do plan on having a late Christmas (in Maryland) with my grandson, Mister B, in just a week and I can't wait. I love seeing his joy as he opens gifts. I mailed a little Christmas card to him with some simple stickers in it and you would have thought I sent him the best toy ever! "Stickers!" he excitedly exclaimed as he pulled them out of the card. And then, prompted by his mom, he sweetly said, "Thank you, Nonna and Pompaw" and blew us a kiss through the camera. Sigh... he melts our hearts!

I began this post with a photo of our Christmas tree as seen from my kitchen into our sunroom. I'll leave you with a photo of our family room as reflected in the mirror over our sofa. I happened to glance at the mirror and thought it looked so pretty reflecting all the Christmas lights that I just had to take a photo.

Christmas Day 2022 (that's my blue stitching chair looking unusually tidy for a change :)

So another year is over... oh, how I wish they would slow down! At my age, I feel like things are rushing by way too quickly. Do any of the rest of you feel that way? We will usher in the new year in our usual quiet way--watch a movie on television, and maybe (just maybe!) stay up until midnight. More likely not... I wish you each a new year filled with good health and happy days. Thank you for all the love and support you've given me and my blog in 2022--each comment and email really does warm my heart. See you all in 2023! Bye for now... 

Wishing you every happiness in 2023!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas greetings...

Merry Christmas Eve eve, everyone! I'm finally feeling ready and anticipating our (quieter-than-normal) Christmas. It will be different this year without most of my family here, but we raise our children to fly so I'm glad my sons have each found a special someone to share their lives with. And that means sharing holidays with their families as well. If all goes as planned, we'll celebrate a late Christmas in early January with at least two of them--maybe all three--down in Maryland. In the meantime I have to be satisfied with photos and FaceTime with Mister B!

I often wonder whether or not to post photos of my Christmas tree because, to me, it looks the same year after year except with an additional twelve ornaments thrown on. But, I know there are some new readers here at "Stitching Dreams" and my "older" readers still seem to enjoy seeing it even after all these years. I have now moved my twelve newest ornaments from my staircase garland and hung them on the tree. I've replaced the ornaments on my staircase garland with my stitched gifts from friends around the world--both past and present. I'll be sure to share some photos of them with you in my next post.  So, may I present my 2022 Christmas tree...

2022 Christmas tree (with a small two foot tree in the background in my family room!)

This year I chose to hang similar groups of ornaments together to showcase them. We have ...

The sweet and charming "Birds of a Feather angels." I so wish they would reprint this chart and feel very lucky to have borrowed it from a stitching friend on Instagram

The Little House Needleworks "Hometown Holiday" series. Hmm... which one should I stitch next year?

My Prairie Schooler Santas which account for probably one-fifth of my ornaments!

How do you decorate your tree? Do you put similar ornaments together or mix them all up? This year I put very few non-stitched ornament on the tree--I just didn't feel like unpacking everything.

I like the finished look that the gold beaded garland gives the tree

So many memories...

This year, 24 of the ornaments stitched on black are displayed in my Pottery Barn cubby so it's not quite as crowded looking.


And, of course, I took a couple of photos at night... 

Aren't the reflections of the lights in the windows beautiful?

Can you spot my childhood Santa sitting underneath the tree? He must be over 60+ years by now!


We are experiencing one of the coldest Christmas weekends ever here in western Pennsylvania. It is 0° (-17.8 C) as I write this on Friday afternoon. And I know that is nothing compared to some places in the northern United States. But, we are warm and toasty inside, layered up with blankets, and enjoying the heat emanating from the oven as a few more cookies are baked for Christmas. I feel safe and cozy and am so relieved I don't have to venture outside for any last minute gifts or groceries. I've been watching the poor birds struggle against the blowing snow and high winds today and I wonder how they survive all winter? But, like most of us, they must be stronger and more resilient than they appear at first glance. 

This poor house finch appears to have lost some of its tail feathers. He was huddled against the cold in the rhododendron bush outside my husband's den.

I wish each of you a very blessed Christmas... It's not always easy, is it, to feel joyful and happy when everyone around you seems to be feeling that way and things are not quite right in your world? Some of us are far from family members, some of us  have recently lost loved ones, some are fighting Covid or the flu, others are dealing with even more serious health issues. And some just struggle, in general, at this time of year. My thoughts are with each of you. Take care now and I hope you know how much I appreciate you and your visit today! I'll be back with one last post before year's end. Bye for now... 

Merry Christmas one and all

Sunday, December 18, 2022

2022 Parade of Ornaments

Welcome! Welcome! The 13th annual "Parade of Ornaments" is about to begin! I hope you're all snuggled up in your warm houses with a nice cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa (in my case!) and can just relax and enjoy the parade. The weather here is a bit nippy, but we finally received a light snow last night--perfect indoor parade-watching weather, I'd say.

Before we begin, I want to say thank you... Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, thank you for the encouragement and support you give me (and other stitchers!), thank you for your thoughtful comments and emails, thank you for inspiring me with your stitching, thank you for being such a kind and caring group! I feel so blessed to have found this online community of cross stitchers through my blog way back in 2009 (and now on Instagram)--if only the whole world were filled with such supportive folks! We are so very blessed, aren't we?

Now, I have a confession to make--this year's parade organizer (that would be me!) did a rather shoddy job of putting the participants in the correct order on the parade route... She mixed up the order of Miss April and Miss May and Mr. July is lined up after Miss September. What? Doesn't she know the correct order of the months of the year? I'm not sure what happened, but there was no way I was going to retake the photos so what you see is what you get... Just know that they are labeled with the correct month and kindly ignore the order they appear along the banister :)

2022 "Parade of Ornaments"

Every year when I see that red dining room shown in the background at Christmas time, I love it! But, during the remainder of the year, I don't--it's simply too dark in there, especially since we have a large front porch just outside which darkens it even more. Every year, I say I'll be painting it a lighter color--do you think 2023 will be the year? 

I'm sure you'd like a closer look at each ornament, right? Well, here you go...

January ~ March 2022

April ~ June 2022

July ~ September 2022

October ~ December 2022

I think this may be my most eclectic bunch of ornaments yet! You have the whimsical Birds of a Feather angels mixed in with the more serious Prairie Schooler Santas. Throw in the daintily pretty Renato Parolin June ornament in blue and the charming round Madame Chantilly December robin ornament and you have quite the mix. But, I love each and every one! I enjoy seeing a mixture of styles and shapes on my tree--I think it really sets it apart. As usual, I'd love to hear what your personal favorite is? Here are some close-ups to give you a better look. You can click on the caption below each one and be taken to the exact post for that finish for more information if you wish...


"The Hometown Diner" by Little House Needleworks



Prairie Schooler's "Santa's 12 Days of Christmas" (Book No. 125)



Prairie Schooler Mini Card Set A (Santa with Pear)



Birds of a Feather  "Christmas Angel Ornaments"



Birds of a Feather "Christmas Angel Ornaments"



Renato Parolin "Inverno" 


Prairie Schooler "Santa Moon" (Book No. #53)


Birds of a Feather "Christmas Angel Ornaments"


Birds of a Feather "Christmas Angel Ornaments"


My Fanny Design "Santa Collection #1"


Heart In Hand "Pocket Round: December 25"


Madame Chantilly "Celebrate Winter"

So, who has a favorite? I actually think mine is the very last ornament I stitched this year--the charming December finish with the little robin perched on the white house. It simply makes me smile and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.

On the floor next to the stairs, I did something different this year. I added a new 24" tree resting in a black metal sleigh alongside a cute red and white Santa and some Christmas greens. It fills in that area so nicely and the tree offers a soft glow at night. 

Love the red and white checked cloth Santa!

The staircase at night

I hope you enjoyed this year's parade! Many of you have told me you've found inspiration in the ornaments I've stitched over the years so I've made links to each year's ornament parade to give you even more ideas. Just click on the year and you'll be taken right to the "Parade of Ornaments" post for that particular year:  2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. Enjoy!

A final look at the 2022 twelve

So what happens next?  I'll soon be moving these newest dozen ornaments to my Christmas tree and will be sure to take some photos for you! Don't worry, though, as my staircase garland won't stay bare for long. It will be filled with all of the wonderful ornaments gifted to me by many of you throughout the years. I love displaying them and recalling friendships, both old and new. They'll be adorning my staircase garland until I take my Christmas decor down in early January. 

Christmas is just one week away and I hope everyone enjoys the next seven days. I have to admit to being a bit "down" this year as I won't see my grandson... It's only fair that he spend every other Christmas with his mom's side of the family, but it's still hard. We are saving his presents, though, and hope to go down to Maryland to have a late Christmas with him in January-- fingers crossed! Thanks so very much for joining me today on this annual parade post. Hope you've enjoyed yourselves! Bye for now...

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Finishing up my ornaments for the year

And once again, I've finished all twelve Christmas ornaments--one for each month of the year! I really wondered if I would get all twelve done this year as our fall was filled with such sadness and busyness and I just didn't find much stitching time. But, I did it! "Where there's a will, there's a way," as my dear mother liked to say... Would you like to see the final three for 2022? 

For October, I chose a whimsical Santa by a new-to-me designer: My Fanny Design based in Italy. I chose to stitch him on black--over one on 28 ct. black Monaco with good old DMC threads. I did change a few colors to work better with the black and also changed his skin color to DMC 407. This is called "Santa Collection #1" and I love how it turned out! I finished him using some green checked fabric and added handmade cording, some frosty branches, and a trio of rusty jingle bells at the bottom.

How sweet is this green-robed Santa with his little snowmen buddies. Did you notice the tiniest one peeking out of his hat?

I turned to Heart In Hand Needleart for this next finish called "Pocket Round--December 25th." I actually stitched this one four times and sent three of them out inserted in greeting cards to some international stitching friends! This cute design stitched up very quickly and was the perfect solution to creating an ornament in a very busy month. For this piece, I used 40 ct. vintage country mocha Newcastle linen with a mixture of overdyed threads and DMC. The finish was a simple one--just two rounds of different sizes surrounded by handmade cording. Quick and easy--and I thought the plaid bow was a perfect accent.

My November ornament finish by Heart in Hand Needleart

Now, for my December ornament, I had a bit of a dilemma! I stitched it twice using the same threads, but different fabrics. The end result was one on natural linen that was a bit more rustic and cute looking and one on gray linen that was more elegant and classic. I love how you can get such a different look just by changing up the fabric and the materials used in finishing. 

Can you guess which one I ended up choosing to add to my tree this year? Well, before I reveal that, let me tell you a bit about the chart itself and the changes I made. This is from the Madame Chantilly Chart, "Celebrate Winter." It is just a small motif from the lower left portion of the chart (you can see the entire chart right here).  I fell in love with the sweet bird perched on the tiny white house. So, I ended up stitching it twice! Now, on the original design, there were no snowflakes so I found charts online and added them to form a rounded finish. Here is a great collection of free snowflakes if  you ever want to add some to a winter piece of your own: free snowflakes from Sue Hillis. I think they add so much to the final look!

Same chart, same thread, different fabrics.

I stitched a gray version on 40 ct. Stormy Night Newcastle linen... To this one, I added white handmade cording, a gauzy white bow and just a bit of green holly and three white beads to accent it.


And I stitched a brown version on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen... This finish got cording in the same taupe color as the little bird's body and a cute polka-dot bow.


Aren't they both adorable??? How to choose, how to choose? Well, since my October and November ornaments were on the whimsical side, I chose... the gray version for a bit of elegance! Which one would you have picked? I will use the other finish on the natural linen as a gift for someone special next year. 

So, here's a question for my longtime readers... do you know what is coming up next now that I've finished all 12 ornaments? Why, it's my annual "Parade of Ornaments," of course! Hope you'll join me in my next post  as all twelve 2022 ornaments are featured!

In the meantime, here's a wonderful dessert recipe for you to make--it serves a lot of folks and is so, so tasty. My middle son has requested this for his birthday ever since he was a little boy--I can't even tell you how many of these I've made each December 4th when his birthday rolls around. We celebrated this past Sunday (a week late this year) and everyone agreed that this "Giant Chocolate Eclair" was as yummy as ever. I actually cut the recipe in half  as there were only four of us so it was more like a "Mid-sized Chocolate Eclair.

Here's the recipe for those of you who would like to give it a try. It takes a while because there are four layers: the pastry layer;  the cream cheese/pudding layer; the Cool Whip layer, and the swirly chocolate layer. But it is well worth the effort! If you enjoy the taste of chocolate eclairs (and who doesn't?), you'll love this (you can click on the recipe below to enlarge it). If you have any questions, please let me know...


I stumbled upon this very cute freebie below from that I thought you might like, too. I haven't stitched it yet, but wouldn't it make a great piece for January? Just click below the photo to download the chart. They have a number of other charming free cross stitch designs for various holidays, too. Just click here!

This cute freebie from Yarnspirations can be found by clicking right here.

A shorter post today--isn't that a refreshing change from me?! I am hoping to get back to my Christmas cards and get started on my shopping this week. I've only bought presents for my grandson so far--I think not having my family here for Christmas this year has not been great for my motivation. I just keep procrastinating and procrastinating as I know I won't see anyone except my middle son and his girlfriend (who live nearby) until after the holiday. Anyway, I hope you're all staying healthy and enjoying your countdown to Christmas. Do take care, my friends! Thank you, as always, for visiting me today and for your very sweet comments and emails! Bye for now...