Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sunny days and snowy stitching

Hello, all! I hope this post finds you doing well? Thankfully, the second half of July has been much, much quieter than the first and I've had some much-needed "me" time. As an introvert, I relish my alone time and truly need it to "recharge" after a lot of social activities like I had in the first two weeks of July. I know that sounds strange to you extroverts who thrive on parties and get-togethers, doesn't it? But, my fellow introverts understand, don't you? So, how did I spend my quiet time? Well by stitching and reading and puttering around the house, of course! 

I actually stitched up three new ornaments, but I'm only going to share two of them with you today. The third isn't fully finished so I'll wait a bit to show you that one. These are my monthly ornaments for the stitch along that I host on Instagram otherwise known as the #12in23ornamentstitchalong. My July ornament is this little cutie by Heart In Hand called "A Very Merry Christmas." It's stitched on 40 ct. woodland brown Newcastle linen and I changed all of the colors except for the white and the light pink due to the darkness of my fabric. 

My July ornament: Heart In Hand's "A Very Merry Christmas"

I did make a small change in the design--I left off the stocking that was charted on the right and replaced it with two of the smaller light green trees. I wanted this to resemble a cozy looking Christmas house in the middle of a forest of trees and I love the final result! For the finish, I sewed on a narrow strip of red and white striped fabric bordered by some cheery black fabric with white polka dots. Add a white button, little red ribbon, and some white cording--and there you have it... my July ornament all ready for the Christmas tree!

This one just makes me happy!

August's ornament uses basically the same colors so it was easy to just dive right in and begin stitching. This design is by Lila's Studios and is part of her "Spirit of Christmas, Set 2" chart. Isn't that the prettiest shade of red in the bird? I used the suggested GAST color: "Schoolhouse Red" and, once again, chose to stitch it on 40 ct. woodland brown Newcastle. I love how well white shows up on this pretty shade of brown linen. The green I chose for this piece is CC "Steamed Broccoli."

"Spirit of Christmas, Set 2" by Lila's Studio is my ornament choice for August

The only design change I made was to add three small snowflakes underneath the word "Noel." I just thought it needed "a little something" in that vacant space. I changed the bird's legs to DMC 3021 from the suggested black, too. The finish was easy--just surrounded the entire thing with handmade cording and topped it with a gingham bow, red bell, and some greenery. What do you think? Such a cheery little piece!

August's ornament

It's nice to be a bit ahead in my ornament stitching! Hard to believe there are only five more months left in 2023, isn't it? I'm already looking forward to seeing my Christmas tree all decked out in December!

My July and August 2023 ornament finishes

Giveaway... So, in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, how about the chance to win a little gift today? I have a very sweet one passed on to me from Janet in Texas (thank you so much again, Janet) who sent me many, many charts to use in my giveaways. This is actually an entire kit from Lizzie Kate which includes the chart, a piece of the suggested fabric, and two tiny accent buttons as shown in the photo below. Would anyone like to enter the giveaway? If you'd like to win the kit, 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 Lizzie Kate kit. If you would like to enter, please follow the guidelines below:

To be included in the drawing for this Lizzie Kate kit, please...

1) Specifically mention that you would like to win the kit 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 those of you who are new to my blog, I like to pose these little questions from time to time so I can get to know my friends and fellow stitchers a bit better. After all, you know a fair amount about me from reading my blog, so I'd love to know more about you. Today's question is: "What one thing can instantly make your day better?" Hmmm... there are many things, but one that really stands out for me is the sound of laughter--especially from my grandson or my sons. I still love hearing all my "boys" (who are now grown men between the ages of 35 and 41!) laughing together as they tease and joke amongst themselves. Nothing warms my heart more than knowing my family is happy and enjoying their time with each other. And now that has spread to my little grandson--oh, how his laughter lights up my day! How about you? I'd love to hear your answer to today's question!

46 years... I did have one big event occur in the past couple of weeks and that was the celebration of 46 years of marriage! What?! How can that be? I met my husband as a teenager--we were just 19-years-old and beginning our second year of college. And then at the age of 22--just two months after our graduation, we were married in 1977. That's almost unheard of in today's world, isn't it? We kind of "grew up" together in a way. But, here we are--still smiling and laughing after all those years. No big party or trip this year--we're saving them for the "big one"--our 50th anniversary in four more years! We celebrated with a quiet dinner out with my middle son and his girlfriend at a local Mexican restaurant. Very simple and casual just the way we like things!

Still laughing together on our 46th wedding anniversary!

How is your garden doing this year? Ours is bursting with flowers and tomatoes right now. They've been loving the sunny weather we've had this season. We feel very blessed to have escaped most of the horrible high temperatures that have swept over much of the U.S. and Europe this summer. In fact, many in our area are joking that people will be wanting to move to southwestern Pennsylvania for our climate! Haha! Anyway, we've been very lucky this summer and our garden seems happy.

The bright and beautiful colors of summer

I like to place my zinnias in individual glass bottles on a little tray. Such a quick, fun arrangement!

My husband wanted me to take a photo of him in the sunflower garden to share with his brothers. He titled it: "Too much fertilizer!"

So, that's about it for July! I hope each of you has a fabulous month of August... We don't have any special plans, but, of course, we hope to see our little grandson at some point. We try to get together at least once a month which isn't always easy given our four hour distance from him. But, it sure is easier than when he lived all the way across the country in San Diego and for that, we are thankful...  

Speaking of thanks, I hope you know how much I appreciate each of your sweet comments. I can't always reply to each of you as many of you are "no-reply" commenters and I don't have your email address, but I hope you know I read and appreciate every single comment! Take good care, my friends! Bye for now...

Sunday, July 16, 2023

"B" is for...

Hello there! The middle of July has passed and I'm just now posting... July is one "busy" month (just one of the many "B" words you'll read about in this post!) for my family with lots of birthdays, our wedding anniversary, gardening, etc. It's interesting how some families seem to have "clumps" of celebrations in one month or another. Our busiest month is definitely July. We don't have a single birthday in June or August (since my dad passed away anyway). What are your "busy" months? 

"B" is for... Big finish!  I decided earlier this year that I just had to stitch more summer themed pieces. I have a ton of patriotic finishes which I love having out in July, but I wanted more simple summer finishes to decorate with in June or August. The adorable designs in the "Celebrate" series by Madame Chantilly caught my eye when they were released and I purchased every single one. I've stitched snippets of "Celebrate Winter" and "Celebrate 4th of July" as little ornaments, but "Celebrate Summer" is the only design I've stitched in its entirety. There was a lot of stitching in this piece--much more than I anticipated, but I love how it turned out!

"Celebrate Summer" by Madame Chantilly

I stitched this piece on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen using the suggested DMC colors. Stitching with DMC is so relaxing, isn't it? You never have to worry about the actual stitched piece not matching the photo on the chart like you do when using many overdyed threads. The reds, yellows, and blues are such perfect summer shades.

Look at the cute mermaid--she even has tiny blue earrings!

I did make one major change (in addition to leaving off the word "Summer" underneath the tray). I substituted "Hello Summer" for the charted "Hello Beach." We are not near a beach and rarely visit one so I just felt the "Hello Summer" phrase on the chalkboard was much more appropriate for my family. 

Such a happy looking whale!

The little motifs are so charming aren't they? Why just look at that little pig-tailed girl in her old-fashioned bathing costume and parasol--adorable!

So many adorable motifs!

I enjoyed stitching this summer piece so much and I know I'll be doing more of the "Celebrate" series--I think the fall design may be next! Have any of you stitched one of these?

I hope to frame this one soon!


"B" is for... Baking! I got the chance to bake when we went to a little get-together with my husband's biking buddies and their wives a couple weeks ago. Since it was a hot, hot day, I went with two very quick and easy desserts that I've made before and shown you on my blog. But, with a number of new readers, I thought you might like the links to these recipes again. Shown below are a very decadent pair: Peanut Butter Pie and Flourless Chocolate Cake. Don't they look scrumptious? Believe me... a little slice of these goes a long way! The Peanut Butter pie recipe can be found right here on the Jif Peanut Butter website.

July baking

The flourless cake looks quite elegant, but it is so simple! Be sure to watch the video and follow the tips suggested for a perfect looking cake. The white powdered sugar design is  made by placing a large doily on top and sprinkling the sugar over it. Lift off the doily carefully and you have a lovely dessert. I used strawberries to decorate the center. If you'd like to surprise your family with a super fudgy  treat, you can find the recipe on the Allrecipes website right here. The glaze I used for it can be found here. I only make a half-recipe of the glaze and it is plenty.  (Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Premium Baking bars were used for both the cake and the glaze just in case you're wondering). Yum!!!

I dare you to eat just one bite!

"B" is for... Blueberries! Two years ago my husband planted six or eight blueberry bushes and this year we had our first edible blueberries. (We had some last year, but you're not supposed to pick them that first year). Oh, my... they were fabulous! Sadly, we only got a few cups due to the birds helping themselves to them, too. We have the bushes under netting, but the birds still found a way to get underneath  and devour them. If anyone has any tips on keeping birds away from blueberries, I'd love to know...

Our first homegrown blueberries!

"B" is for... Blooms! My husband went a bit crazy with the sunflower planting this year (well, actually, I went a bit overboard in buying so many seeds) and they've taken over his garden. I love seeing their big bright heads bobbing around outside our window. Such a happy flower!

This year we planted sunflowers of all heights--from 3 feet tall to over 12 feet!

A bouquet of sunshine

"B" is for Babies! No, not human babies--baby deer. They seem to be everywhere right now and I love seeing the tiny white-freckled creatures trotting along after their mothers. This photo was taken from my living room window the other day. Sadly, there used to be two babies, but one was hit by a car and my husband found its little body back in the woods by our pond. 

A new little fawn exploring our yard

My sweet grandson (whom we fondly refer to as the "deer whisperer" because he has this uncanny ability to spot a deer quicker than any of us) is shown below. Look closely and you'll see him pointing at the mother deer with her baby lying right next to the street in their suburban neighborhood. It looks like the baby deer was just born, doesn't it?

Mister B loves animals of all kinds and was so excited to see the baby deer right in front of his house.

"B" is for... Birthday! And finally, I saved the best "B" for last. My little grandson, Mister B, turned three years old! This was the first year he really understood what a birthday was about and his enthusiasm was contagious. For months he had been telling people he was going to be "three in July" and he would be getting "five presents." Well, he ended up with many more than that, trust me! He had a little party in the park down the street from his house with six little friends (all were girls!) and their parents, his uncles and aunts, a few neighbors, and a little pug dog. The highlight of his day was the Hot Wheels piñata--he kept asking over and over when he could "do the piñata!" 

Clockwise from top left: time for birthday cupcakes, piñata time, a walk with Nonna, Mister B with Nonna and Pompa, my oldest son with the birthday boy, my son and daughter-in-law with their newly minted 3-year-old

We tried to keep our gift giving reasonable and got him a new sandbox, some clothes (which he barely glanced at, of course!), some books, the Curious George zippered pouch I had made for him earlier this year, and his favorite toy--this UPS truck! I bought it online from a neighbor  and he absolutely loves it. Do you see all those tiny boxes in the back? I found a file on Etsy for $2.00, downloaded it, and my sweet husband constructed the little UPS "packages" for him. I swear--you can find just about anything on Etsy!

One of his favorite presents--a UPS truck complete with teeny packages. Unfortunately, I don't have the driver for it, but hope to find one. This truck is made by Bruder in Germany--love the quality!

"B" is for... more birthdays! Yes, a trio of birthdays happens within a six-day span in our family in mid-July. My grandson was up first, then a day later my youngest son turned 35, and five days after that, my husband celebrated his 68th (or, as I always like to say: he caught up with me!). We were lucky enough to be together in the DC area again this year so my youngest son's girlfriend has us all over for a delicious birthday brunch and a tasty oreo cake to celebrate. 

Just look at those smiles on the three birthday boys!

"B" is for Brand New Car! If you read my last post, you know that my 2010 Honda CRV was recalled due to a serious rust issue and was deemed too dangerous to drive. It has now been a month since that happened and we still have not heard about the settlement offer from Honda. Very discouraging indeed. But... all is not lost. Two weeks ago a new Subaru Forester was delivered to the dealership, we went and test-drove it, and purchased it that very day. Would you believe I've only driven it once since? That is how little I drive these days, but so far, I love it. I felt comfortable in it immediately, but, have a long way to go to learn all the ins and outs of the technology. Yikes! I'm too old for this! It is a pretty "Silver Ice" color and we feel very lucky to have found it given the low inventory of cars these days. 

Assuming I can learn all of its technology, I think my new Subaru Forester is going to be a great car!

That was a lot of "B" words, wasn't it? Funny how that happens... I hope you enjoyed today's post! It was a fun one to put together. To leave you with a few more "B" thoughts--I hope you have a bright, beautiful, blissful, blessed rest of July. Thank you for those wonderful emails and comments--I so appreciate each and every one. Bye for now!