Friday, June 30, 2023

Six months down, six to go!

And just like that... the year's half over! Can you believe it? Tomorrow marks the first day of July and the beginning of the second half of 2023. I really can't say much good about the first half of the year so here's hoping the second is better! Anyway, it's been one busy, busy month. As always there has been some good and some bad happenings in my world. Both, have led to very little stitching time, though, and I only have one teeny-tiny finish to share with you today which is my Christmas ornament for July. If it looks familiar--yes, I've stitched it before. But, it was stitched way back in 2011 and given away as a Christmas gift. 

I'd never forgotten that sweet Jeannette Douglas design (from the 2011 Just Cross Stitch ornament issue) and decided this busy month would be the perfect time to stitch it for myself. It measures a mere 2 inches by 3 1/2 inches and will be perfect for hanging near the top of my Christmas tree where I like to place the smallest ornaments. This only took me one day to stitch up and the following day, the purple beads were added and I made it into a little pillow. The fabric wasn't my favorite--a mystery 32 ct. gray linen that was very floppy. I prefer my linen to be stiffer. There was some 'over one' stitching including the word "Noel" and the tiny chickadee in the upper right corner.

"Noel Stamp" ornament finish for June

Here is a closer look at the cute chickadee and some of the purple Mill Hill beads. I finished this one very simply with some purple cording in DMC 3740 and then added a bit of black and white checked ribbon in the left corner. I was going to go with purple ribbon, but decided I liked the way the black and white picked up the colors of the bird.

Look how adorable that tiny chickadee is!

So, there you have it--six months of ornaments down, six to go! Time to look through my ornament charts and pick out my next design. I have an entire folder full of smaller Christmas charts that I'd like to stitch as ornaments one day, so it makes it easy.

What else kept me busy this month? Who knows what this stack is?

I'm going to be busy with framing!

I've been framed!  I finally took the time to measure some of my finishes and order frames for them. I've gotten a bit more confident with my framing through the years and have decided to tackle more of my framing myself. Oh, I'll still send out the most special pieces for professional framing, but many I'll be attempting to do myself. I've ordered this bunch of frames from Franken Frames online and I'm very happy with what I received. Each one was precisely made to my exact measurements (within 1/16th of an inch!) and the whole turn around time took under took two weeks. Franken Frames has some great sales and this one was for 30% off the frames plus half price shipping. They also send out free samples (1-2" lengths) upon request making it easy to decide what frame will do justice to your finished stitching. For these seven custom-made frames I paid just $70 plus $24 shipping. Isn't that great?

Seven new custom-made frames just waiting for my cross stitch.

You can tell I really liked this particular style as I ordered three frames in various sizes. It is such a pretty moulding and I think some of the fall Prairie Schooler pieces that I've stitched will look perfect in them. No, I'm not being compensated by Franken Frames in the least--I just think a good company deserves recognition and I love that they're made right here in the U.S.A. Their communications and customer service were both excellent. I will definitely be ordering again... Check them out if you need any new frames!

Won't these be lovely filled with autumn-themed stitching?

And do you see the silvery frame on the right front corner in the picture of all seven frames? It's already been matched with a piece of stitching from last year. I stitched "All American" by Primrose Cottage Stitchers last summer with the best of intentions of framing it and giving it to my oldest son and his family for the Fourth of July 2022. But... you know how that goes! So, I was thrilled when I noticed that this frame fit that piece of stitching perfectly. You see, I had actually ordered that particular frame for another piece, but it was just too heavy looking for the delicate stitching in that one. Thankfully, this worked out just fine and I can't wait to give it to my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson next week! If you'd like to read about the details of this patriotic piece, please check out my post from July 2, 2022 because I did make a few changes.

I framed "All American" yesterday and it will be going to its new home next week.

When I stitch framed pieces and give them as gifts, I like to cover the back of the frame with a pretty scrapbook paper. I then add little tags that I've created online to the back to make the gift even more special. (This one has July 2022 as the date because that is when I actually stitched it).

The little label that I made for the back of "All American"

Giveaway winner... my last bit of stitching news is to announce the winner of the Patriotic Angel chart which I offered last time. Thank you to all who entered and answered the "Getting To Know You" question--it was fun reading about your favorite foods (and I applaud many of you who seem to be much healthier eaters than I)! The winner's name pulled from the hat this time is...


Congratulations to Catherine--you are the winner of "Patriotic Angel"

Congratulations, Catherine! You are the winner of this beautiful angel chart--can't wait to see her all stitched up. Please send me your mailing address (my email is in my sidebar under "View My Complete Profile") and I'll pop the chart in the mail to you early next week! 


RIP dear Honda CRV--you served me well for 13 years.

So, I mentioned some bad happenings in my life this month and the worst is that my 2010 Honda CRV is gone. It was recalled by Honda for rust underneath the chassis so we took it into the repair shop two weeks ago. Little did I know that that was the final time I would be driving that car. When the repair shop examined it, they deemed it unfixable--apparently I'd been driving around in a death trap for who knows how long! The suspension could have just completely broken or fallen out at any time the rust was so bad! We were very upset as the car (in our eyes) was in excellent shape. It had never been in an accident, the interior and (what we could see of) the exterior was perfect. I drive so little these days that we had planned on keeping it as long as possible because it was doing just fine. Or so we thought... Honda said they will be "buying back" the car from us, but we've received (after a full two weeks!) absolutely no information as to how much they'll be giving us. The whole process is very frustrating to say the least.

Whatever the amount, it won't be enough money to compensate for losing a car that we had expected to keep for several more years. All those memories... a car that had safely carried me through 11 years of 600-mile round-trip travels to visit my mom and dad in New York as their health was declining, a car that had seen us make many trips to the beach and to visit colleges with our sons, a car that I was truly comfortable with and didn't want to lose. I am one of those folks who hates change and to have to purchase a new car at this point in my life is upsetting. Whatever we end up with, it will, most likely, be my last car as we tend to keep our cars for years and years. I'll keep you posted... And for all of you Honda CRV owners (years 2007 to 2011 models), please be aware of this recall. For more information, you can read this article.

Cough, cough... We've been dealing with terrible smoky air from the Canadian wildfires again this week; in fact Pittsburgh was one of the worst cities in the world for air quality over the past two days. The entire state was issued a "Code Red" warning and yesterday morning the reading from the Environmental Protection Agency was 247--even worse than the Code Red warning! 

The main thing I noticed over the past few days was the smell... Not a smoky smell, but a distinct odor of chemicals in the air. The retired librarian in me kicked in and I did a bit of research... Apparently, the smoke from the wildfires includes Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that interact with UV radiation. When this interaction occurs benzene and formaldehyde compounds are created in the atmosphere, toxic air pollutants that can be very hazardous to human and animal health. And the smell that is created when this happens is one of chemicals and plastic. Very sad to think that this might be a problem we'll be dealing with for a while... They say the Canadian wildfires will be burning all summer. Needless to say, I've stayed inside with the windows closed. I did venture out to check on the garden and had to come inside after a mere 5 minutes as my eyes started to burn.

I always try to end my posts on a positive note, though... We so enjoyed our grandson's visits this month--Mister B was here for a total of 10 days over two visits. On this last visit we took him to a local farmer's market (twice!) where the photo below was taken. He absolutely adores animals and he  loved feeding the baby goat and seeing the gigantic black and white pig that reside there. What you can't see in the photo below is that, with his other hand, he is holding his nose--he may have loved the goats and pigs, but he sure didn't enjoy their odor! It was so funny!

Mister B feeding the baby goat at a local farm market

I hope all of my U.S. friends have a relaxing and fun Fourth of July on Tuesday. We are going to be getting a lot of rain over the next four days so I hope to find more time to stitch. Thank you for stopping by today and for saying "hello" in your emails and comments! I really appreciate hearing from each one of you.  Hope July is a good month for all!  Bye for now...

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Happy Flag Day!

Gosh... has it really been three weeks since I last posted? Where does the time go? We experienced 21 days without rain here in the southwest portion of Pennsylvania--a streak that was finally broken on Sunday with some light showers. We need more rain badly and it looks like we'll be getting some off and on for the next few days. Our lawn is starting to turn brown already and it's only mid-June! Usually, that doesn't happen until late August. Add to that a few hazy, sunless days due to the wildfire smoke drifting down from Canada and it's been an odd month so far. Very cool too--in fact I've been wearing my winter bathrobe in the mornings it's so chilly! So, how have you all been? I'm feeling much better although my energy level is still not back to normal. I really appreciate all of your get-well wishes after my last post--thank you! That was one mean virus and it seems to be hitting a lot of folks. 

So, it's Flag Day here in the United States and I finished up the cutest patriotic piece just in time! This is called "Fourth of July Picnic" and is a design from Samplers Not Forgotten. I've had this chart for quite a few years and am so glad I finally made the time to stitch it.

"Fourth of July Picnic" finish

It is stitched on 40 ct. "Stormy Night" Newcastle using all of the suggested colors except for two: I substituted CC Bamboo for the charted Gentle Arts Picket Fence and used DMC 950 for the face and hands. I just love that sweet girl in her straw hat and the little brown puppy and saved them to stitch last. Do you do that, too--save your favorite motifs for last? I used Smyrna stitches for the stars on the flag, the dots on her dress, and her eyes--I simply like the rounded look it gives to those spots.

Such a sweet little pup!

And, I suppose I have to mention the one part of the chart I didn't enjoy stitching, don't I? Can you guess? Yep--it was the "July 4, 1776" all stitched 'over one' on 40 ct. linen. I was about to tear my hair out by the time I got to the "6!" But, I persevered and got it done... The white button "flowers" were shown on the finish on the chart and I think they add so much to the final look. 

Love the button "flowers!"

This piece is a bit too large for a pillow finish so I'll be framing it. I'm thinking a rustic black frame would look nice. Or perhaps a chippy red frame? I'll have to think about it for a bit... I've now moved on to a much larger patriotic piece which I'll be lucky to finish by summer's end!

Giveaway time... In keeping with the Flag Day theme, I found this lovely chart in an old Just Cross Stitch Magazine (July/August 2009) that I thought would be perfect for this month's giveaway. It is by Brooke's Books, is called "Spirit of America Angel," and is meant to be stitched on 14 ct. perforated paper. Would anyone like to stitch this beautiful angel? If you'd like to win the chart (the three pages are removed from the magazine and I will be folding them to fit in a legal sized envelope to save on mailing costs), please follow the guidelines below. I'll announce the winner in my next blog post--good luck to all!

I'm having a drawing for this patriotic angel chart. If you would like to enter, please follow the guidelines below:

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

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

2) Be a follower of Stitching Dreams (in my blog's sidebar on 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... For this week's question, I'm wondering what your three favorite foods are? I have absolutely no problem in answering this one: bread, chocolate, and nuts. I just can't refuse any of them. I absolutely adore a nice warm slice of freshly baked bread slathered with butter any time of day! And I can't resist chocolate-covered nuts of any kind. I've developed a real addiction to those tubs of chocolate-covered almonds that are sold at Trader Joe's--I really have to watch and limit myself to a few a day (well, I try to anyway!). How about you? What three foods top your list of favorites? 

I'm so excited that my little grandson will be arriving later today for a visit! Yes, he was just here two weeks ago, but his mom will be at a conference so my oldest son decided to drive up from Maryland with Mister B and spend Father's Day weekend with us. He is so, so busy and seems to be at the "giving up the nap" stage which is exhausting--for him and us! Last time he was here he had a grand, old time feeding the koi in our pond, building Lego sets with his grandpa and uncle, racing all of us to the birdhouse and back over and over again, "shopping" for food in my pantry with his little basket, and playing with the wonderful old Tonka trucks that had belonged to my boys when they were little. He truly enjoys his time at "Camp Nonna and Pompaw!" 

This was the first time in over 30 years those Tonka trucks were used. I've been storing them up in the attic for my hoped-for grandchildren for three decades and, at last, I have one! Mister B  absolutely loved playing with them under the shade of the pine trees while picking up sticks and pine cones. Some kids like dinosaurs or superheroes--he just adores trucks and cars!

It's going to be a busy weekend as my youngest son and his girlfriend arrive on Friday and my daughter-in-law flies in from her conference that evening so we'll have a full house. Thank goodness, my middle son and his girlfriend live locally so they aren't sleeping here. But, there is so much food to prepare and cooking is not my favorite thing! I've already made lasagna with ground beef, lasagna roll-ups (with spinach) for our two vegetarians, macaroni, ham, and cheese casserole, and pulled chicken barbecue! Phew! I hope to make a couple of desserts today or tomorrow and then let everyone else help with sides and clean-up duty. I know I'll be exhausted come Sunday night, but I wouldn't have it any other way. And my husband is thrilled that all three of our sons will be here for Father's Day. Do you have a busy Father's Day weekend planned? 

I'll leave you with this pretty photo from our yard...

Such a beautiful peony with the barest hint of burgundy in the center

Well, I'm off to the dentist now--time to get a new crown in an upper molar. Not my favorite thing in the world. I hope he can get the fit just right so I don't have future problems... Thank you so much for stopping by today! I love reading your comments and emails and truly appreciate you taking the time to say "hello." Wishing each of you a relaxing day filled with lots of stitching time. Bye for now...

Wishing all of my U.S. friends a happy Flag Day! This photo was taken from my front porch in 2021 and is one of my favorites.