Saturday, January 28, 2023

My first two ornaments and a bit of snow...

Good Saturday morning to you all! Can you believe the last weekend in January has already arrived? What a strange month we've had here in what is normally one of the coldest, snowiest months in western Pennsylvania. It's been quite mild with very little snow, unlike much of the country that has experienced major snowstorms and frigid temperatures. But, it's still been cold enough here that I spend most of my time indoors stitching and reading (well, throw in laundry, and cleaning, and cooking, too!). I've managed to stitch and finish my first two ornaments of the year. Would you like to see them?

For January, I stitched "Rudolph & Friends" by With Thy Needle and Thread. As soon as I saw this sweet chart, I knew I had to stitch it! I mean... just look at that cute reindeer with the bright red cardinal perched on his back. I love the way he's gazing up at the snowman. So sweet! I used 40 ct. Woodland Brown Newcastle with an assortment of DMC and overdyed threads. I did change out the green as the suggested color was just not working on this darker fabric. So I went with DMC 3362 and I'm very pleased with it. To finish it, I added some handmade cording using the same off-white shade I stitched the snowman and snowflakes in: Weeks Dye Works "Grits." I added a simple plaid ribbon for the hanger. A little tip from me--when there is a lot going on in a design (such as this one)--keep the finishing simple! It doesn't need a lot of "extras" piled on top. It just takes away from the overall look in my opinion.

"Rudolph & Friends" finish

And since the coming month is going to be a busy one for me with several trips planned, I went ahead and stitched an ornament for February as well. The new booklet by Prairie Schooler called "A Merry Mini Surprise" (Book No. 215) is filled with so many cute Santas and this skating Santa was my favorite of the eight. Mine looks a bit different, though, as I chose to finish it as a circular ornament. I left off the charted rectangular border and added snowflakes to "round" it out. Once again, I used 40 ct. Woodland Brown Newcastle--can you tell I love that fabric for snowy scenes? I changed the two main colors to the more traditional Prairie Schooler shades of DMC 221 and 3362. In this case, since it was a simpler design, I did add a few more "doo-dads" to my finish! I topped it with a larger gingham bow, some dried boxwood leaves (stolen from one of my boxwood wreaths!), some burgundy berries and a silver jingle bell. A quick and easy finish for the short, but busy, month ahead.

Skating Santa from Prairie Schooler's "A Merry Mini Surprise"

So, here are the first two ornaments for 2023--only 10 more to go!

My first two ornament finishes for 2023

I have another larger winter finish to share with you, but I need to get it ironed and photographed. Can't wait to share it in my next post! I'm working on a couple of smalls for Valentine's Day, too. Every year I say I'm not going to stitch any more, but then the cute love-themed freebies begin to appear and I can't resist. So, hopefully, those will be ready for my next post near Valentine's Day.

Well, another birthday has come and gone... I ended up having not one, but two birthday parties with my family! The first was a surprise celebration when we were down in Washington DC for our belated Christmas on January 8th. And the second was at my middle son's apartment on the 15th (the day before my actual birthday). Below are some photos of my 68th birthday celebrations--I think everyone knows I love chocolate based on those yummy cakes I received! From top left going clockwise, are: celebrating with my grandson in Washington DC, birthday cards from friends and family, celebrating with my "grandcat," Spike, at my middle son's apartment, and a huge decadent triple chocolate cake from my husband.

Another birthday celebrated in fine style!

I received so many lovely gifts from my family, but one of my favorites was from my middle son and his girlfriend who found this wonderful large crock. After doing some research, it appears to be a vintage Robinson Ransbottom Pottery three-gallon crock. In the early 1900's, this company was the largest producer of stoneware jars in America. My son found it at Goodwill for a mere $6.00!

My first crock! Could this be the beginning of a new collection?

Now, unbeknownst to my son, I had just purchased a small three foot Christmas tree on sale. I wanted a tiny tree for the corner of my kitchen or dining room. I loved the tree when it arrived, but I needed a bucket or something to put it in... Enter the stoneware crock I was gifted for my birthday! Perfect fit! Isn't it funny how things just come together like that sometimes? 

My new little tree has found a home!

I also received some very generous and thoughtful birthday gifts and cards from stitching friends! Thank you all so very much--I am very blessed for sure!

June P. sent me a lovely birthday package including a PS chart, some fabric, an angel bookmark, and some pretty ribbon. Thank you so much, my friend!

Vickie N. sent a sweet snowman chart! Thank you so much, my friend!

Jen P. sent a lovely blue themed package including floss, a charm pack of fabric, a pretty snowflake tin, candy, and a sweet thread holder with a cardinal charm! Thank you so much, my friend!

Charlene sent an amazing package loaded with black and navy fabrics, a sweet Paddington Bear chart, and a rainbow of DMC floss. Thank you so much, my friend!

Gabi sent a sweet stitched pair of snowmen all the way from Germany! Thank you so much, my friend!

And a belated Christmas gift arrived from Nathalie in France: two sweet ornaments and a pouch for my stitching accessories. Thank you so much, my friend!

For me, everything comes at once, doesn't it? Christmas and my birthday fall just three weeks apart! I often wish my birthday was in the summer to spread out the gifts a bit, but... I'm just thankful to still be here celebrating another year of life. 

Giveaway time... I know, at this point in the winter, many of us are growing weary of the cold, but this cute chart might just cheer you up! I was given this chart called "Winter Time" from New York Dreamer by Janet in Texas to pass along in one of my giveaways (Thank you as always, Janet!). Aren't those cardinals adorable? And, of course, I love the blue and white theme. I own this chart myself and really do plan on stitching it some day (along with at least two million other charts :) Is there anyone who would like to win it? If so, just follow the guidelines below. I'll pick a name from the hat and announce the winner in my next post.

If you would be interested in winning this chart in the giveaway, 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

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


Getting to Know You! Hmmm... what question should I ask today? How about a favorite quote? Do you collect quotes or thoughts that you like and might help guide you through life? I have a running list that I add to from time to time and one of my favorites was one I just recently added. "Success is measured by how you make those around you feel." Think about it... Don't you want to go through life giving others a kind word and making them feel good about themselves? Just a simple compliment such as "I love your earrings!" or "What a great haircut!" can make someone's day--and those words don't cost you a penny. Try to be kind to others... it really isn't that difficult. We truly need more kindness in this world of ours!  Now it's your turn... What is one of your favorite quotes or guiding principles in life?

I'll leave you with a couple of wintry photos from this past week. I think this was the only snow we had all month! It was just an inch or two, but it sure was pretty!  Most of it melted by the following day--I sure hope that's not the end of our snow for the year.

Our lone January snowfall! Looking out the upstairs window at our back yard and pond.


Our home looking so cozy in the snowy late January landscape!

So, what are your plans for the coming month? I'll be heading someplace warm for a few days in early February which should make for a pleasant change! Of course, I'll be taking my stitching--isn't that one of the best things about our little hobby? It's so very portable. When I travel, I take only small projects, so I'll be sorting through my charts today trying to find a quick and easy chart. Or charts--I always pack way, way too many. You'd think I'm going to be gone for a year rather than just five days--ha ha! I'm sure you understand. 

Thank you all so very much for the wonderful comments on my last post--it was great to hear from so many new folks as well as my long-time commenters. A gentle reminder--if you ask me a question in your comments, please make sure to include your email address so I can get back to you. That's it for today! Stay warm--and happy stitching, my friends! Bye for now...

Sunday, January 15, 2023

A new year begins...

January is half over and I haven't even popped in to wish you all a Happy New Year yet! I hope your 2023 is off to a great start... All is fine here and tomorrow I'll be celebrating yet another birthday. How can that be? It feels as though I just wrote about my 67th birthday and here I am 365 days later... Yes, I'm turning 68 tomorrow--just two years left until the big one! I've received some lovely birthday gifts and cards which I'll share with you in my next post. Today, I want to concentrate on the last of my stitching for 2022--the gifts I sent to friends around the world. As I've said, many times, I so wish I could send out more gifts, but I am only human. Perhaps if I could exist on two hours of sleep each night? Anyway... I hope you enjoy these and, perhaps, get some inspiration for stitching gifts of your own.

This JBW Designs star is from a chart called "French Country Ornaments." I left off the word "star" that was on the original chart and finished it as a simple round ornament. This one is stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle linen with one strand of Sulky thread 1169 (which is similar in color to DMC 221). I made some cording using DMC 221 and added a gingham bow and gold star charm to the bottom of the ornament.

JBW Designs "French Country Ornaments"


The Prairie Schooler deer design is one I've stitched before--a couple of times in fact! It is from the 1998 Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine and is called "Two by Two: Deer." It was stitched on a piece of 40 ct. mystery linen with the suggested DMC colors. Again, I made some cording and added a gingham bow (have you noticed how much I love little gingham bows?!).

Prairie Schooler "Two by Two: Deer"

This pair of Prairie Schooler Santas will also look familiar as they among my favorites to stitch for gifts. I've stitched this one at least six times, I think! One of these was a Christmas gift, one was a thank you gift and, I'm happy to say, both were very well received. This Santa is from the Prairie Schooler "Kris Kringle" (book no. 62) and was finished into an oval. I believe these were stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen--not quite sure as I forgot to write it down.

Prairie Schooler "Kris Kringle" (book no. 62)

Another design that I've stitched several times before is the JBW Designs "Christmas Motif Sampler II." These are such fun pieces to stitch with all the miniature motifs charted to form a Christmas tree. I stitched it "over one" on 25 ct. Victorian green Lugana using DMC 3865. I did make one change and substituted another bunny for the deer that was charted underneath the tree. I liked the symmetry of the two rabbits facing each other (of course!). The two-toned cording and satin bow finished it off quite nicely, don't you think?

JBW Designs "Christmas Motif Sampler II"

This sweet cardinal stitched on black is one of my favorites! He is from the Plum Pudding Needleart "Winter's Song" chart. For this one, I used 28 ct. black Monaco and the suggested DMC colors. Such a cheerful little ornament!

Plum Pudding Needleart "Winter's Song"

My final stitched gifts were made into cards for various friends. The three on the right you'll recognize because I stitched that design for my November 2022 ornament, too. It is by Heart In Hand and is called "Pocket Round: December 25." It's stitched on 40 ct Vintage Country Mocha Newcastle using a mixture of DMC and overdyed threads. The pink design (using DMC 3326) is a freebie from L'R de rien which you can find right here. I used 40 ct. white Newcastle to make it small enough to fit into the card opening. Finally, the card on the bottom left may look familiar because it is a smaller version of my ornament from December (which you can find more information about here). It is a sweet motif from Madame Chantilly's "Celebrate Winter" chart  and is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen using most of the suggested DMC colors.

 Stitched cards sent to friends around the world


Last, but certainly not least--I stitched an ornament for my 2 1/2 year old grandson's third Christmas. I thought this Annie Beez Folk Art design was so adorable with that cute snowman trying to sell his wagon full of snowballs for 5 cents each! It is part 4 of her "Snowy 9 Patch" designs. The original had a square red zig-zag border, but I wanted a round ornament so I gave the poor one-armed snowman another arm and left off the border. This was the first time I had stitched on the 32 ct. petit point raw/white Belfast linen and, to my surprise, I rather enjoyed it! The coverage of the white printed dots was quite good using two strands of thread. I stitched Mister B's name "over one" using black DMC thread and it looks so cute. For privacy, though, I've covered up most of the name.

Annie Beez Folk Art "Snowy 9 Patch" (block 4)

And here is a photo of the little elf himself "fixing" the tree at our belated Christmas celebration last Sunday in Maryland. He rearranged the ornaments many, many times as you can imagine! I just can't get over how tall he has grown--very "long and lean" as they say. What a change from the little baby shown in this photo on his very first Christmas back in 2020!

Santa's little helper--Mister B!

Thank goodness I snapped a photo of him in his Santa suit early on as that hat didn't last long! Here he is again with Nonna and Pompaw before opening presents. We had such a fun morning watching him open his gifts! He was so excited over each and every little thing (well, except for the clothes--ha ha!). My youngest son and his girlfriend were also able to join us as they live just 40 minutes away from my grandson and his family in the heart of Washington, DC. We all enjoyed  a tasty brunch of blueberry pancakes, French toast casserole, scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and orange juice before opening gifts. I'm already looking forward to next Christmas when everyone will be here!

Belated Christmas in Maryland

I meant to share the following photos with you in my last post, but it slipped my mind. After I take the "Parade of Ornaments" pictures each year, I move my dozen new ornaments to my Christmas tree. But, I certainly don't want to leave the stairway garland bare so I've begun filling it with ornaments I have been given over the years. Some are from long ago friends who no longer blog, some are from current stitchers and Instagram friends. Chances are, if you've ever sent me an ornament--it is on this garland. I love seeing these beautiful reminders of stitching friendships that started from the time I began blogging in 2009. Thank you one and all--these mean so much to me!

Ornaments from stitching friends around the world!


Giveaway winner... Thank you for joining in on the fun and answering the last "Getting to Know You" question! I enjoyed reading about your goals and resolutions for this new year. So far, I'm not doing very well on my goal of getting out of bed earlier--it's just too cold! I want to snuggle under the covers and read the morning away! I hope you are all achieving your own goals a bit better...  I had several entries for the Waxing Moon winter chart and the winner is...

Kathy H. from New Hampshire

Kathy H.--you are the winner of the "Winter Things" chart. Please email me with your address and I'll get the chart off to you this week!

If you are a Christmas ornament stitcher, you may wish to join me in my #12in23ornament stitch along over on Instagram. The goal is to stitch and finish one ornament each month in order to have a dozen new ornaments for your tree (or to give as gifts) by year's end. It's so much fun to see the cute finishes from stitchers around the world each month and it's a wonderful way to "meet" new stitching friends. No need to sign up--just add the hashtag #12in23ornamentstitchalong to your ornament posts on Instagram. This is our third year creating ornaments for the stitch along and we'd love to have you join us!

A new year--a new ornament stitch along begins!


My views on January have definitely changed over the past few years... I used to hate the month and dread the way its gray days and cold nights seemed to drag on forever. But now I relish the peace and quiet of the month after the hustle-bustle of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I enjoy the soft blues and whites in my more limited decorations and I truly enjoy the extra time I have to stitch, read, and just putter around the house. Who else loves to putter (or potter as they say in England!)? There is nothing better than a day with no outside commitments where you can just stay inside and do whatever makes you smile! So, January--forgive me... for so long I viewed you as my least favorite month. Now you've jumped near the top of the list! 

My grandma's dough bowl is filled with lots of pale blue and white ornaments and is sitting on a vintage quilt from my husband's family. The whole vignette makes for a cozy winter scene on our kitchen table this month!

And that wraps up the first post of the new year! Did you know that January 24th will mark the 14th anniversary of my blog? The world of blogging has seen many changes since I began "Stitching Dreams" in 2009, hasn't it? Reading blogs has definitely become less popular, but I still view it as my primary connection to cross stitchers. The relationships formed are stronger and much less superficial than those made on other social media platforms. So, thank you--each one of you, who has left a comment or sent an email my way because of "Stitching Dreams." You've touched my life in such wonderful ways. Here's to another year of successful blogging and stitching--I hope you'll join me! Bye for now...