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 ♥♥♥