Sunday, April 14, 2024

Reindeer Games In a Soggy Month

Finally... a sunny day! I know many of you almost always have sunny (or partially sunny days), but that isn't the norm for southwestern Pennsylvania. And this spring has been rainier than ever. In fact, it's been our wettest spring on record going back to 1871! As of Thursday, we had received 10.54 inches of rain since March 1st beating the old record from 1967 by over three inches. The only good thing about all the rain is it makes for great stitching weather, right?

One of my goals for this year was to finish some large Christmas pieces along with my usual monthly ornaments. What can I say? I just love stitching Christmas! "Reindeer Games" by Erica Michaels was such a fun piece to stitch for my first larger Christmas piece. It is stitched on 40 ct. summer khaki Newcastle with most of the suggested threads. I did substitute DMC 498 for the red and DMC 3865 for the white. The whole time I stitched this, I thought of my dear mother who absolutely adored doing crossword puzzles. She enjoyed doing them well into her late 80s when the macular degeneration in her eyes made it impossible for her to read or do puzzles. Oh, how she missed her crossword puzzles and books. She would have loved this particular finish so much.

"Reindeer Games" by Erica Michaels

All of the reindeer names are stitched in Classic Colorwork's "Black Coffee" thread and the remaining words are done in green and red. The little gold bells were created using Rhodes stitches and add such a nice texture to the finish.

Love that teeny elf!

Below is "the most famous reindeer of all," good old Rudolph with his bright red nose ready to lead Santa's sleigh.

The motifs in this design were such fun to stitch.

I did make one major change from the original chart--I changed the name of one of the reindeer from the charted "Donder" to "Donner." Why? Well, that is the way I remember it from that famous song sung by Gene Autry: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and VixenComet and Cupid and Donner and BlitzenBut do you recallThe most famous reindeer of all?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerHad a very shiny noseAnd if you ever saw itYou would even say it glows..."
Donner or Donder?

In reading about the reindeer names online--there is a lively debate over whether it should be Donder or Donner. Boy, you can really go down a rabbit hole reading about the opinions of which one is correct! Some people say it should be Donner as that is the German word for thunder (and Blitz is the Germany word for lightning). I don't know... I'm just choosing to spell it the way I'm most familiar with. How about you? Are you in the Donner camp or the Donder camp?  However you spell it, I love how this turned out and I'm truly hoping to have it framed and on display by December.  On to my next "big" Christmas piece which I'll show you in May!

Easter update... Although it's only been two weeks since Easter, it seems like much longer, doesn't it? All nine of us were here for at least portions of Easter weekend which was wonderful. Little Mister B was enthralled with the idea of the Easter bunny arriving during the night and leaving him a basket of treats. He had such fun following the jelly bean trail from the bottom of the steps to the Easter basket's hiding place and couldn't believe the bunny had hidden it in the clothes dryer. He thought that was hilarious!
Easter morning with Mister B. He certainly is loving those M&M's. Isn't his little bow-tie adorable?

The bunny also hid plastic eggs filled with treats outside even though our weather was cool and wet from a rain the previous day. And lots of baking was done! We celebrated my oldest son's 42nd birthday with a carrot cake, made a bunny cake, and baked bunny biscuits. Have you made a bunny cake before? They are so, so easy and here is a good write-up on how to create one of your very own. It was my grandson's idea to use candles for the whiskers and I thought they were perfect! He had a lot of fun putting the pastel colored M&M's on the bow tie (although I think more ended up in his mouth than on the cake!). I just used a boxed cake mix, but made my own icing using this recipe--it was delicious! And the bunny biscuits were super easy. You start with a package of refrigerated biscuits, cut half of the biscuits in two for ears and then embellish them however you want. We used big chocolate chips for the eyes and pink M&M's for the noses. We didn't add whiskers, but this blog post suggests using slivered almonds. Really a fun project for your little helpers!

Easter baking 2024

I used to make these bunny cakes when my three sons were little. In fact, here is a photo of my oldest son with one we made in the mid-1980s. The shape of the bow tie is a bit different and I no longer use coconut to cover the whole cake because some family members don't care for it (unlike me--I love coconut! How about you?).

One of the first bunny cakes I ever made with my oldest son back in the mid-1980s.

Of course, we also dyed eggs--the first time my grandson had ever done so! They turned out so bright and cheerful--it was a great family activity. Now, if you look closely, you'll notice that unusual brown egg right in the middle... Well, that was the result of Mister B wanting to experiment with dipping one egg in color after color after color. It actually turned out to be a very pretty shade of brown and it was interesting for him to learn about how the different colored dyes reacted with each other.

Such a lovely Easter tradition...

Looking upward! The other big event that happened since my last post was... the solar eclipse here in the U.S. on April 8th. Although we weren't in the path of totality in southwestern Pennsylvania, we were at 97% which was still pretty amazing to watch. Unfortunately, my husband and I both had doctor's appointments which we couldn't miss, so we ended up watching the peak of the eclipse in the parking lots outside of our respective doctors' offices. (I would much rather have watched with him by my side, but when you've waited over a year for a doctor's appointment, you don't change it). I tried to take photos with my phone, but they didn't turn out well at all. The photo below, though (which I found online), is what it looked like locally at the 97% peak coverage--pretty breathtaking. As I watched the sun become more and more covered by the moon and felt the temperature drop, I realized what a small speck I am in this beautiful universe of ours... It was really something special to experience and I can only imagine how those in the path of the total eclipse must have felt!

Southwestern Pennsylvania's 97% coverage on eclipse day

So, that about wraps up my first post for April. Our daffodils and tulips are blooming right now and are putting on quite a show. 
Daffodils are such a welcome sight in April!
I just love spring flowers--and tulips are my favorites. My husband planted several dozen in our fenced-in vegetable garden to protect them from the deer and they've been putting on quite a show.
Tulip bulbs that my husband planted for me last fall have burst into bloom this past week

Below are some tulips that I cut earlier this week. Such a beautiful color, don't you think?

It's so wonderful having fresh-cut tulips to decorate my table this month!

Thanks so much for visiting me today! I hope you are enjoying the month of April and getting outside more. We are, optimistically, putting the screens in our windows today so I'm hopeful that summer is on its way. I so enjoy your emails and comments. Living in a family of all men, I get  little interest in my stitching so I'm always very appreciative of your kind words! Bye for now... 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

It's an Easter parade!

Can you believe Easter is almost upon us? Another year is flying by way too quickly! Our March started off warm and spring-like, but sure fooled us into thinking it was spring. Last week, the temperature got down into the 20s and all the new green growth on our hydrangea bushes died off. Do any of you gardeners know if the hydrangea will grow back this year? Or is it done for? I'm so sad because we didn't even think to cover up the hydrangea bushes like we did the tulips and daffodils. 

In my last post, I mentioned that I was working on stitching and finishing six new Easter themed pieces. Well, I'm happy to say that they're done and they're ever-so-cute (if I do say so myself!). Many of you have already stitched these adorable designs from With Thy Needle and Thread's "Jelly Bean Jubilee" booklet so they'll probably look familiar. I did make a few changes, though, so I'll run through them for you and then share my final display.

More bunnies and chicks have descended upon my house--I'm running out of room to display them!

Let's get this parade started, shall we? First up is "Penelope and Peeps" featuring Miss Penelope Rabbit and three tiny chicks (can you spot them nestled among the letters?). Isn't she adorable with her little carrot balloon? I stitched this one (as I did all six) on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle. The only changes I made to this pillow were to use Anchor 0001 for the white and DMC 725 for the yellow. The yellow that was suggested was just not showing up on this fabric so I opted for DMC 725. To finish this piece, I sewed on a pretty blue and white gingham, glued on some white miniature rick-rack,  surrounded the pillow with handmade white cording, and attached a small polka-dot yo-yo. What do you think?

"Penelope & Peeps" all finished up

Next up is a trio of waddling yellow chicks. Even though two of the chicks are trying to pretend they're rabbits by donning white bunny ears, they aren't fooling any of us, are they? On the left (below) is "Jelly Bean Delivery" and on the right is "Easter Parade." Some of the changes I made to these include changing the yellow to DMC 725, changing the colors of some of the jelly beans (I am not a fan of purple so I changed those to shades of blue). The biggest change is that I reversed the "Jelly Bean Delivery" design so the single chick was facing toward the pair of chicks rather than facing in the same direction. I just thought they would look cuter that way when displayed in the bowl. It kind of looks like they are saying "hello" to each other. Yellow gingham fabric, rick-rack, and handmade cording made for an easy finish.

"Jelly Bean Delivery" and "Easter Parade"


Then we have a pair of white rabbits. Were both rabbits supposed to be white? No, the girl bunny was charted to be brown, but I changed her coloring. I wanted to make both into oval finishes so I added a few "doo-dads" to the outer borders of  "Let's Paint Eggs" on the right. I also changed the main portion of the egg color to white rather than the suggested yellow and changed the purple stripes on the eggs to  blue. For the "Jelly Bean Garden" finish on the left, I also added a couple of white flowers to shape it into an oval, changed the colors and rearranged some of the jelly beans, and changed her dress color to DMC 598 to match the boy bunny's shirt. Aren't they the cutest couple?

"Jelly Bean Garden" and "Let's Paint Eggs" made into oval finishes

Finally, we have a sweet yellow chick, complete with Easter bonnet, in "Tip-toeing Through the Tulips." The chick is, once again, stitched in DMC 725 and I used Classic Colorworks "Ripe Melon" for the pink tulips (as well as for all of the pinks in each design). The original chart only had three bees, but I added four more  (don't ask me why :). The little bow around Miss Chick's neck is made with two strands of DMC 598.

"Tip-toeing Through the Tulips" (with a few extra bees!)

Here are a couple more close-ups...



And here are all six nestled into my dough bowl all set to shine on Easter weekend. Do you have a favorite? I'm sure my grandson will adore each of them!

My six finishes from With Thy Needle and Thread's "Jelly Bean Jubilee" booklet

I so enjoyed stitching each of these and they stitched up fairly quickly (as you can tell since I managed to do all six in less than a month)! Who else has stitched these cuties? I just adore With Thy Needle and Thread designs, don't you? Especially the holiday designs--each one is so whimsical and sweet.

I received a couple of adorable stitched Easter cards from two friends "across the pond". How sweet of June (in England) and Gabi (in Germany) to think of me at Easter time! I have them sitting on the shelf right above my kitchen sink where I can enjoy them all week. Thank you both so very much!

A lovely card and other goodies from June!

Such a cute Easter card from Gabi!

So, are you ready for Easter? I still have a ton of stuff to do before everyone arrives--beds to make up, soup and dessert to prepare, cleaning, a bit of shopping, etc. I know that my family will pitch in when they arrive, but I do like to have as much done ahead of time as possible (and that way, I get to have more time to spend playing with Mister B!). I really enjoyed reading about your planned Easter menus--they all sound delicious! I'm making a roast chicken (with vegetables) and some baked ziti (for the two vegetarians). My grandson will be helping me make the bunny cake and some bunny biscuits. That should be fun and I'll try to remember to take a photo of them to share with you next time.

I'll leave you with this photo of five-year-old Carol on Easter Sunday in 1960 (which, based on a quick Google search, was on April 17th that year). My mother said I was talking to my grandparents before I left for church. I'm sure I'm filling them in on the contents of my Easter basket! Look at my tiny white gloves, the shiny black patent leather Mary Jane shoes, and my sweet Easter bonnet. Best of all is the smocked dress which I know for sure that my maternal grandmother made for me. I wish I knew what color it was; but whether it was pink or blue or yellow or green, I know she made it with lots of love. She was such a special woman in my life and I'm sure my love of needle and thread came from her. And now I'm crying... Holidays always make me miss my parents and grandparents so very much now that they're gone. I know those of you who have lost special relatives understand...

Me at age five! Easter morning in April 1960 (Buffalo, New York)

So, that's it for March--on to a (hopefully!) warmer and sunnier April. Thank you, one and all, for your wonderful comments and emails--I always appreciate hearing from you! I wish each of you who celebrates, a blessed Easter Sunday. I hope your time spent with family and friends is filled with happy times, delicious food, and new memories made. Take care now, everyone! Bye for now...

Friday, March 15, 2024

Bunnies and Birds in Blue and Pink

Hello, my stitching friends! I hope March is treating you well? We've had some beautiful spring weather here and our daffodils just burst into bloom this week. Such a treat to see their golden yellow heads bobbing in the breeze--they sure do brighten up the landscape this time of year! With my grandson (and his mom and dad) coming for Easter, I've made sure to decorate my house for their visit and it sure is lovely to see all the little bunnies and birds popping up both in and outside my home. When I went to retrieve them from the dresser drawer where they're stored, I was a bit shocked to see just how many Easter/Spring smalls I've created through the years! I can't seem to stop making them either--in fact I'm working on six new ones that I hope to have finished by the end of March. For today, I'll just share some of my past finishes and how I've displayed them for the season.

I like to group my Easter decorations by color for some reason. You all know my favorite color is blue so it's no surprise that the majority of my Easter/Spring stitching features that color. This year, I used my two-tiered white metal basket (which I purchased at HomeGoods a few years ago) to anchor the display on the sideboard in my kitchen. I just love how it turned out!

Bunnies and birds in blue!

Here are some close-ups for you--if you'd like more information on each finish, just click on the name of it to be taken to my original post on that particular item...

In the top basket (left to right): "Spring Greetings Bouquet" by With Thy Needle and Thread, "Hello Spring" by Plum Street Samplers, a freebie called "Nest Under the Flowers" by Le Chalet des Perelles, and in the front is the Spring portion of "Four Seasons Band Sampler" from the March/April 2011 issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine. That adorable gingham dressed bunny on the right was a gift from my sweet daughter-in-law.

Pictured in the above photo are (from left to right): a bunny from Prairie Schooler Book No. 163 "Signs of Spring," robin from the Spring 2020 issue of Punch Needle and Primitive Stitching Magazine by Subrosa Designs called "Bless Our Nest," "Paques" from Les Chalet des Perelles, a portion of "Welcome Spring" by With Thy Needle and Thread, and in front rests a freebie from The Snowflower Diaries called "Tulips with Bunny." The little bunny figurines in the front left are ones I've collected over the years and the blue and white rabbit plate is from TJ Maxx from a few years ago.

Featured here are the other half of "Welcome Spring" (on the left) and "Holiday Hoopla: Easter" both by With Thy Needle and Thread. Isn't that ceramic Peter Rabbit head darling? He belonged to my mother-in-law and I brought him home from Florida after my husband's family home in Naples  was flooded by Hurricane Ian in 2022.  

The one piece of stitching featured here is by Tiny Modernist and is called "Easter Wreath." It is sitting on that darling rabbit chair that I found at a thrift shop in Florida for only $5.00--one of my favorite finds ever! You can read about the little chair in this post.

So, there you have it--my blue Easter display. Do you have a favorite? I think mine is the sweet "Welcome Spring" pillow shown below that I stitched last year. It simply makes me smile :)

"Welcome Spring"--my favorite spring finish from 2023

My pink Easter finishes are displayed in my grandmother's old dough bowl and sit in the center of our kitchen table. Again... if you would like more information on each finish, just click on the names in the caption below the photo.

In the back row on the left is a design by Patrick's Woods called "The Heart's Chase," in the back middle is a Prairie Schooler Bunny from "A Prairie Year (Book No. 13)," and that sweet pair on the right is from The Snowflower Diaries and is a freebie called "Spring Bunny Love." In front of the rabbit couple on the right is another Prairie Schooler design from the PS Mini Card Set F. The one on the left stitched on black is a freebie from the Kissy-Cross blog,  and the tiny pillow in the very front is by Just Nan from the "Hummingbead Heaven" chart. 

And how about a favorite among the pink pieces? Mine is that sweet "Spring Bunny Love" couple that I stitched way back in 2013.

My favorite of the pink smalls: "Spring Bunny Love," a freebie from The Snowflower Diaries

Whew! Posts like this (where I link to past finishes) take a lot of time to put together! It's really hard to remember and track down the posts for some of the older pieces--and as my brain ages, it's not getting any easier! Anyway, I've had so many folks, both here and on Instagram, tell me how much they appreciate my efforts--and that it makes it worth all the effort. I've made many more Easter/Spring smalls in green and yellow hues, but I've run out of energy to post them today! However, if you scroll through my March and April posts from any given year, you're sure to find even more Easter and Spring stitching inspiration.

So, I'd love to hear about your plans for Easter... Will you be having visitors? What do you serve for Easter dinner? Do you have any special family traditions? I can hardly wait to spend Easter with 3 1/2 year old (Yes! How on earth did he get so old?!?) Mister B as he is so enthusiastic about all the traditions that accompany celebrations and holidays. Dyeing eggs, hunting for his Easter basket, making a bunny cake, etc. will all be part of our weekend with him. And while preparing for my visitors, I truly hope to squeeze in the finishing of the six small Easter finishes that I mentioned earlier in the post. We'll see...

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing your spring stitching and hearing about your plans for this very special Easter weekend coming up in just two weeks! Thank you all for stopping in today--I always love to read your comments and hear about what you're up to! And just a reminder...if you have a question for me, please make sure to include your email address so I can get back to you.  Bye for now...

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Christmas stitching as Spring approaches

Greetings on what was a sunny (but quite chilly!) last day of February! I always love having this "extra" day every four years, don't you? And to those of you born on February 29th--I bet you especially love it! Can you believe March begins tomorrow? February was a good month here--I felt we got a lot accomplished around the house. So many projects that we've procrastinated about for years are done--the main one being the wallpaper removal in our bedroom. My husband painted our bedroom last weekend and it's so wonderful to have the old wallpaper and chair rail gone and the room looking brighter and refreshed. It really gives me a lift when projects like this are finished. Next up? The dining room! I've been saying that for at least five years now, but that red paint in there has to go. I need something lighter and airier in my life right now rather than the red walls that were so popular for kitchens and dining rooms twenty years ago. 

Unfortunately, due to all of the house projects, my stitching time has been limited. I did manage to get my two ornaments finished for February and March, though. My taste in ornaments is very eclectic--have you noticed that? Last month, I stitched that elegant wreath with the cardinals and the two I have to show you today are just plain fun and whimsical. For February, I stitched yet another Crocette a Gogò design--the little gingerbread boy from the "Christmas Green Chic" pattern. I had a small scrap of a mystery sage green 40 ct. linen left and thought he would look perfect on it. I used most of the suggested DMC colors, but changed the gingerbread boy himself to DMC 167 and chose to use DMC 816 for all of the reds. A simple sage green cording and a row of rusty bells sewn to the bottom finishes him off quite nicely. He is very small--the finished pillow is just 3 inches square!

Too cute to eat! A new gingerbread boy ornament for February.

March's ornament is a bit larger even though I stitched it "over one" on 25 ct. vintage country mocha Lugana. This is "First Snow" by Annie Beez Folk Art and I actually used all of the suggested DMC colors (for a change!). I just love that little snowman head she used to represent the letter "O" in the word SNOW. The ornament is surrounded by cording in the same green I used for the pine needles (DMC 580) and the fabric you see on the larger circle is wool felt. I thought the green and cream checkered bow topped it off nicely. I did move around/add some snowflakes to achieve the round ornament I desired.

My finish of "First Snow" by Annie Beez Folk Art

I've had questions as to how I finish the back of this type of round ornament... Very simple! I just cut out a round piece of wool felt (in a coordinating color) to cover the area and use some spray glue to carefully press it in place (spray the piece of felt with the glue--not the ornament back). Below is what it ends up looking like. I do this to save both time and money on supplies. I'm not fond of bulky ornaments which happens when you add yet another covered fabric round to the back.

The felt covered back on my round ornament finish. Simple, but effective!


One additional ornament was sent out as a gift to a special friend who has a family member dealing with a very rare health issue. I just wanted to bring a smile to her face as she and her family deal with a very scary and worrisome situation. This is one you've seen before--a small motif from Madame Chantilly's "Celebrate Winter." It's stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with some added snowflakes to shape it into an oval ornament. I love the little polka-dot bow and brass bell and so did the recipient. Thinking of you, my sweet friend--and sending caring hugs and prayers your way!

I love this motif of the sweet bird perched on the white house and have now stitched it four times!

The only other new things I "made" this month, were some tasty mini-Bundt cakes for my middle son's girlfriend's birthday on Monday. I didn't know what to bake, but decided on these cute little chocolate cakes using the recipe found right here. They were very rich and I could only eat half of mine! I used sour cream in this recipe, but I'll use buttermilk the next time as they were a bit dry for my taste. The recipe made 12, but I halved it for the four of us. Of course, whipped cream and fresh raspberries hopped on to the plate, too! Doesn't this little Bundt cake look pretty?

One of the Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes for a birthday celebration


I had a wonderful trip down memory lane this past weekend. We were invited by friends to attend a musical tribute to Fiddler on the Roof on Saturday. I thought it was just going to be a selection of some of the musical numbers, but it turned out to be almost the entire play, dialogue and all! As soon as the orchestra began to play the first few notes, I was immediately transported back to my high school auditorium where our drama club performed Fiddler on the Roof to standing ovations in March of 1972. Imagine that... over fifty years ago and I could still remember (almost) every word to every song. I was one of the "villagers" in the play--no speaking part (heavens, I was way to shy even back then!). The villagers sang as a chorus, did a few (very minor) dance steps, and simply "created magic" as our director wrote in a letter to each of us after our play was over.  I smiled wistfully throughout most of the production on Saturday night as I remembered my high school friends who acted in the play with me and all the fun we had during those rehearsals so many years ago. I also got a bit teary-eyed during the very sad parts as the villagers are forced from their homes in the little town of Anatevka by the Russians (the very same thing that is happening in Ukraine today).  Anyway, it was a night I'll never forget...

I'm thrilled to report that my youngest son and his girlfriend returned safely from their vacation in Oman with glowing reviews. He said one of the best things was that where they were staying was within a two-hour drive of the mountains, the beach, or the desert. In fact, they even spent a night in the desert at a remote camp. I have since learned that Oman is considered the "Switzerland of the Middle East" due to it's neutrality so I guess I had nothing to worry about concerning their safety after all, did I? But, a mother always worries--even when her "baby" is 35 years old!

A beautiful view of the sun over the sand dunes in Oman sent by my youngest son


We've had a couple of huge rainstorms this past month and when that happens, we get what we call "the second pond," in our back yard. Oh, the deer just love to come visit it to get a drink of water and romp and splash through the giant puddle. Here they are with white tails flashing danger after they spotted me walking toward them... There were actually nine deer in the yard at that time, but the rest are out of the photo frame. I think that's the most we've ever seen at one time! Now, do you understand why growing flowers or vegetables outside of a fenced in area is impossible in this area?

The deer romping through the water in our "second pond" that forms after heavy rains.


And I saw my first robin of Spring last week--always such a joyous and welcome sight! Although this hasn't been a hard winter here, I still look forward to the beauty of spring--the longer daylight hours, the pretty pastel flowers, the smell of the fresh air wafting through open windows. Ahhh... I spotted these two new With Thy Needle and Thread designs last week (when I was buying some overdyed threads online) and I just couldn't resist them. How about you, are you buying/stitching anything fun for Spring? 

Two new additions to my Spring stitching line-up!

I want to thank you for your visit today! I'm so glad when I see your comments pop up letting me know who has stopped by... Thank you, each and every one, for your very kind emails and your words in the comment section. I do appreciate each of you--I hope you know that! Wishing you a wonderful March ahead filled with warmer days and lots of sunshine. Bye for now...

Welcome, March!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Two new Valentine finishes and an unwanted visitor

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends! Half-way through February already--how can that be? For a short month, it's already been a busy one here. I've been stitching away on a couple of sweet Valentine's pieces and just finished the second one  yesterday. I try to add at least one piece to my Valentine's collection each year and was very pleased to get two finished this year. Now, looking at these, you might think I'm a pink, lace, pastel type of girl... Nope--not in the least, but, for some reason, I do enjoy making these sweet little treasures when February rolls around each year. 

My first pretty-in-pink finish is by Erin Elizabeth Designs and is called "Valentine Tier." Just look at this adorable tiered tray! There is so much detail in this one and it took me longer to finish it than I expected (even though the final stitched piece only measures 3 inches by 4.25 inches)! It's stitched on 40 ct. burch Newcastle using the suggested DMC colors. But, I didn't always use the colors where they were suggested... For instance, I stitched a gray roof rather than the suggested brown.

"Valentine Tier" by Erin Elizabeth Designs

The main change I made was to the flower centers. I had the entire thing stitched with the suggested black flower centers, took a good look at it, and ripped them all out! They just looked too dark to me for a sweet Valentine's design. So, I replaced the black centers with the palest pink color. I also used Smyrna stitches for the birds' eyes, the doorknob, and the sprinkles on the cookie and on the whipped cream topping on the mug of cocoa. My final change was to add straight stitches for the birds' long skinny legs rather than the charted cross stitches. What do you think? It just makes me smile each time I walk by it!

I changed all of the flower centers to pale pink.

My second February finish is a wonderful freebie by The Drawn Thread called "All You Need is Love." You can find the chart right here along with a number of other great free designs! It's stitched on 32 ct. white Belfast linen, but I chose my own colors as I didn't have any of the suggested Gloriana Silks in my stash. I went with Dinky Dyes silks instead and used the following colors: Dandenong, Wild Cherry, and Raspberry Ripple (using the light pink for some of the hearts and the darker pink for others). And for the light green leaves, I used Needle Necessities 142 (the lighter portion of the thread only). 

"All You Need is Love" by The Drawn Thread

What I loved most about this piece were the specialty stitches; on this small design there are at least a dozen specialty stitches! Below is a close-up so you can see them a bit better. Rather than my usual corded edging, I chose to do a beaded edge with the palest pink beads. I find beaded edges to be so lovely, but, for me, they take so long to complete! My go-to tutorial can be found right here on "Snippets and Stash" blog. 

I love the specialty stitches!

Unfortunately, I've been so busy this month, I never did get any of my other Valentine's stitching out on display! Shame on me... All those hours of making little pink and red x's through the years and I left them sitting in the drawer. Oh, well--I'll be sure to get them out next February. At least I have these two new pieces to brighten up the day!

So many shades of pink...

I also stitched a card for a friend who is going through some health issues. This is called "Buttercup" by Nickyscreations and can be found in the April 2017 issue of Just Cross Stitch. I used 40 ct. platinum Newcastle with the suggested DMC thread (although I changed the birds' legs to DMC 420 and the centers of the flowers to DMC 832).  I sure hope it brings a little sunshine into my friend's day!

A cheerful card for a friend

So, I mentioned an "unwanted visitor" in the title of this post. I'll bet most of you can guess what it was, can't you? Yes, Mr. Covid reared his ugly head and visited my husband on February 2nd. He's quite sure he got it on the plane ride home from Florida at the end of January because he tested positive just five days later. Thankfully, it was a mild case and he only felt bad for a few days. And, even better--I avoided getting it! We slept in separate bedrooms, used different bathrooms, and pretty much stayed on opposite sides of the house during the daytime. This was the second time he had it--and I escaped contracting it both times. I'm sure I'll end up with it at some point, but so far, I've been very lucky! How about you? Have you had Covid yet?


My uncle playing Santa

My last remaining uncle by marriage (he was married to my dad's sister),  passed away last week at the incredible age of 101. What a life he led--definitely part of  "The Greatest Generation!" He survived the Battle of the Bulge during World War II (during which 90,000 Allied soldiers were killed) and was the last remaining WWII veteran in the southwestern New York county where he lived his entire life. I grew up in the same small town as all of my dad's siblings and their spouses and this particular uncle was the one tasked with playing Santa each Christmas Eve for my Grandparents' 21 grandchildren! Down the stairs he would come, sleigh bells jingling, with a big sack of gifts--one for each of us. Even in my late teens, I still looked forward to that annual tradition. My siblings and I still get a big laugh about the hilarious (somewhat scary, truth be told!) Santa costume he wore each year. So, here's to my uncle and all the other brave veterans out there! Thank you all for your service...

My youngest son and his girlfriend, otherwise known as the "world travelers" of our family are visiting Oman for ten days. Oman?! I had to look it up on a map to know exactly where it is. I knew it was in the Middle East and, of course, immediately went into "worried mother mode," but my son assured me it is one of the safest countries in that part of the world. He's been treating us to some breathtaking photos and I think you'll agree, the scenery is stunning. I'm sure I'll never travel there, or to many of the places they've visited over the past three years, but it sure is fun traveling vicariously through them! 

Just a few of the stunning photos my son has sent from Oman

And my little grandson did a bit of traveling of his own as well... he and his mom and dad went to Disney World for a few days. I thought he was a bit young to be going, but he did pretty well. He was scared of The Haunted Mansion and the interactive "It's Tough to be a Bug." But, he adored the roller coasters and the costumed characters. Here he is getting acquainted with Goofy at an Animal Kingdom breakfast (my daughter-in-law reported that it was the most expensive meal the three of them had ever had together!). Next time they go, we hope to go with them!

Mister B meets Goofy!

So, what has been keeping me so busy this month? I've been working on redecorating two bedrooms! And the large one (ours) involves removing wallpaper. Ugh! Never, ever am I going to put up wallpaper again! We hadn't done anything to update our bedroom in over 25 years so it was definitely past time. So far, we've removed the wallpaper border and some of the wallpaper below the chair rail. We also decided to purchase a king-size bed so we've been shuffling beds around as well as other furniture. The new mattress arrived and we love it! Right now, it's just placed on the floor as our new king-size bed frame hasn't arrived. Hopefully, soon! There have been a lot of trips to various stores, searching online, returning things that didn't work out, etc. But, it will be so nice to have things updated when we're all done. We're in no hurry--I haven't even picked out paint colors or linens yet. But, we'd like to have it mostly finished by the time spring rolls around. 

Hope each of you has a wonderful Valentine's Day! I'm hoping for some chocolate later on--hint, hint to my dear husband. Maybe I'll make a special dessert, too. Thanks for stopping by today--and a special thank you to those of you who take the time to leave a comment. I truly appreciate your support! Bye for now...

♥♥♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥♥♥