Thursday, May 16, 2024

Christmas is coming... 223 days! Although the way I've been stitching anything and everything Christmas this year, you would think it's arriving next month! In my attempt to have some bigger Christmas pieces on my walls by December, I've been pretty much stitching Christmas all year so far. I may just have to take a break and stitch up some patriotic pieces soon, though--they've definitely been calling to me!

So, how is everyone doing in mid-May? It sure doesn't seem like May here as our truly nice spring days are few and far between. We get one picture-perfect day and then a string of cloudy/rainy/gloomy days. And the weekends? I don't even want to mention them! It doesn't really matter to me being retired, but I do feel for all the folks who only have the weekends off and are met with gray, soggy days. 

I've managed to stitch another big (to me, anyway!) Christmas piece. Would you like to see? This is "Christmas is Coming" by Shakespeare's Peddler and it was such a fun piece! I love stitching words and little motifs so this one was just perfect. Stitched on 40 ct. vintage country mocha Newcastle linen with "most" of the suggested colors, I'm so happy with how it turned out.

"Christmas is Coming" finish

How about a closer view? My main changes were to the house portion of the design. The year was supposed to be stitched above the fence, but I substituted five snowflakes. I also changed the color of the house itself to WDW Brick (front) and WDW Havana (side), changed the paint on the door to WDW Charcoal, added muntins to the windows, and added more snow under the house. And do you see the comma and the period? Yep--had to add them to make my librarian's brain happy :) 

In the lower portion, I changed the goose in the box to match the pair of geese above. It was charted as just a silhouette in black, but I preferred a full-color goose. I also added some snowflakes inside the box and to an empty space to the right of it. The long flower had leaves that weren't symmetrical so I changed them, too, and altered the flower's color a bit. I centered that bottom row of holly to match the spacing in the row at the very top. And yes... more punctuation :)

So, I have another large Christmas piece to add to my "to-be-framed" drawer. I need to get busy and place an order for frames soon!

Now to find a frame...

Speaking of frames--I managed to frame one of my Christmas finishes from last year! This finish is actually the result of what I like to call two "happy accidents." Happy Accident Number One: First of all, the "2019 Twin Peak Santa" was not stitched according to the chart. I accidentally started the design off-center so I didn't have enough fabric to stitch the bag of toys that was originally charted. To fill it in a bit, I chose random snowflake designs from various charts and added them along the sides. You can read about my finish of this handsome Santa in this post. I really love how it looks with the pretty snowflakes falling gently down on both sides of the blue-robed Santa. And then Happy Accident Number Two: I placed an order from my favorite online frame shop, Franken Frames, last year. (You can read about the frames I  ordered in this post). Well, the frame you see below on the Santa was in that order, although originally intended for a Prairie Schooler Thanksgiving piece. When it arrived and I held it up to the PS piece, it was way too small. Thinking that the framing company had made an error, I checked out my original order, and sure enough--it was me! I had sent them the wrong measurements. Ugh! But... I just happened to hold it up to this Santa piece and, lo and behold, it was an almost perfect fit! What do you think?

Framed finish of the 2019 Twin Peak Primitives Santa

The color of the wood in the frame perfectly matches Santa's staff and the size was excellent--a bit wider on the sides than the top and bottom, but that's okay. It sure feels good to have a framed finish checked off my list. For those of you who wonder how I do my framing, I'll link to the instructional post by Brenda Gervais that I follow right here.

Giveaway winner... Wow! I was amazed at the number of you who wanted to stitch the "Cycling Santa" chart that I offered last month as a giveaway. I truly appreciate all of your book recommendations, too. I'd read many of them, but did add a few new titles to my "must-read" list. I so wish I could send each of you the chart, but there can be only one winner and that winner is....

Rita H. 

Rita H.--you are the winner of the "Cycling Santa" chart!

Congratulations, Rita! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this chart right out to you. Hopefully, you can pass it on when you are finished, too, and keep the kindness going. For those of you who didn't win, luckily, the chart is still readily available for purchase. In fact 123 Stitch has it on sale right here for just $7.19!

The ups and downs of May... May used to be one of my favorite months, but that has changed over the past several years. You see, my mom's birthday was May 14th (she would have been 97)  and my mother-in-law's birthday was yesterday, May 15th (she would have been 96). It was always such a fun, festive time of year with Mother's Day falling right before their two birthdays. But, now that they are both gone (mom in 2020 and my mother-in-law in 2022), I tend to get pretty sad. This year it seemed to really hit hard... The fact that none of my boys were able to be here for Mother's Day on Sunday didn't help. The tears were flowing pretty frequently over the past couple of weeks. 


I found a feather this week! Yes, a teeny tiny white feather in the middle of my kitchen floor. As I bent to pick it up, I just knew it was a sign from mom--that she was nearby and watching over me. I felt such comfort the moment I found the feather.

A message from mom? I believe so!

I know a lot of you are probably rolling your eyes right now, but I truly believe in signs and my mom has sent me feathers before. Anyway, I carefully placed it in "her" spot in my Pottery Barn cubby with other special things I've received from her over the years. How about you? Have you received signs from a loved one that bring you comfort and a sense of peace?

The cubby space dedicated to my dear mother

Our Spring flowers continue to dot our green, green yard with brilliant spots of color...

Love the shade of purple in this clematis

And the pink is pretty sweet as well!

Our Korean Lilac bush has never had so many blooms!

The rhododendron bloomed about two weeks earlier than normal this year

And the wildlife... I think I've mentioned (probably many times over the past 15 years that I've been blogging) that we are blessed with a large yard. It's a bit over an acre with a good-sized pond in the back. I thought you might enjoy seeing an aerial photo of it taken by my youngest son with his drone back in 2018. On the left is the pond, in the upper middle is my husband's vegetable/flower garden (which he's since made half the size for easier maintenance) and the garden shed. The little bluish "blob" in the lower middle near the pond is the top of the big bird house that you often see in my photos.

An aerial view of our home and back yard from 2018.

Because of the pond, our back yard is filled with  animals who are drawn to the water. The pond contains probably two dozen koi. The koi are huge--18 to 24 inches long--and are orange, white, black, and a combination of those three colors. During the spring, summer, and fall we feed them special koi food, but when the temperature falls below 52° we stop feeding them for the winter and they survive just fine. You can see a portion of the pond and a couple koi in the photo below, taken last summer in 2023. My little grandson, Mister B, was almost three years old here and looks like he really wanted to jump right in with the fish!


"Look, Nonna!"

Here are some of the many visitors we've seen in our back yard this spring...

The blue heron is a frequent visitor hoping to grab a koi. They are simply too big for him, though, so he often flies away still hungry.


Can you spot the blue heron flying above the birdhouse near the top of the photo? What a wide wingspan!

This mallard duck couple has been spotted a few times this spring. They sometimes wander up the lawn from the pond and feed underneath the bird feeders. We were hoping they would choose our pond  to build their nest, but I think they've gone elsewhere.

Spot the bunny! And the squirrel and the mourning dove couple! All gather at the base of the bird feeders to enjoy easy-to-get treats.

I honestly can't imagine living in a city... Every time I look out my window, it's like a moving picture of wildlife. From the silly squirrels chasing each other round and round the tree to the mischievous bluejays stealing all the bird seed, to the herd of deer that roams through our yard (eating many of our flowers!)--it's always something new each day. I get so much joy from watching nature!

My husband was on a bike ride for five days earlier in the month and sent this sweet photo taken while biking on Assateague Island. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Assateague, a 37-mile barrier island located on the shores of Maryland and Virginia, is home to over 150 wild horses which are descendants of horses from the 17th century. If you'd like to read more about them, you can click on this article. I'd love to see them in person some day!

Three of the wild horses on Assateague Island. I simply love this sweet photo of the little foal nursing from his or her mother. A perfect photo for Mother's Day weekend, I'd say!

I always think I don't have much to write about when I first begin a post, but it seems to mushroom as I look through the photos on my camera! I hope you don't mind these longer posts... I'm not sure if I'll be back by the end of May or not. It's going to be a busy time with many doctors' appointments, shopping for flowers and planting them, and a trip to visit my grandson. Just a bit uncertain if I'll even get much stitching done to share with you. As I mentioned, I think it's about time I began a few patriotic pieces. After Christmas stitching, red, white, and blue stitching is my favorite! Hope you all have a great month with lots of sunshine and stitches--and as always, thank you so very much for your kind comments and emails. Bye for now...


Melisa- pinkernpunkinquilting said...

Good evening, Carol. What a sweet sign from your dear Mom and the little white feather looks perfect in your cubby. Little Mister B. is growing like a weed; he looks so inquisitive and of course is adorable! Your newest Christmas finish is gorgeous and I am so glad that you were able to find the perfect piece for the frame. Have a wonderful weekend,dear friend. It is always a joy to visit you. Hugs

Clare-Aimetu said...

Hugs Carol, celebration days are difficult at times, beautiful sign from your mum. Christmas is coming is lovely but I can't believe how quickly the year is going. Great photos, nature is a joy to behold.

Marilyn said...

What a great Christmas piece, & Santa is very pretty in blue.
The feather is a memory, I se a lot of Cardinals which means Mom is watching over us.
Very pretty flowers, I had a huge purple Clematis at our old house.
The Koi are so cool!
We live with a river behind us, & everyday there is a Heron by the drain pipe in the river fishing, so beautiful.
We have a resident Squirrel that waits for me to throw bread crust out every morning, so cute.
Paint horses are my favorite, & these are gorgeous.
We have the same weather as you, dark & rainy 1 day, sunshine the net.
Take care.

Lee said...

A very lovely Christmas finish! Wonderful nature pictures and I like so many others are happy for the warmer days !

Stasi said...

Another welcoming post, Carol!
Your Christmas finishes turned out great...I think Santa works perfectly in that frame. Your yard is so beautiful and must feel like you live in a nature preserve!
Mr. B is certainly getting big...enjoy every moment on your upcoming visit.
Assateague is a fun place to visit. Wwe camped there many, many years ago and the horses would come right up to your car/camp site. It's not far from OCMD, so if you ever get there, it's a fairly short drive to Salty Yarns!!! Chincoteague is also nearby and there are wild horses there too.

Vickie said...

Wonderful Christmas finishes Carol! Santa looks great in the frame.
I had no idea you had large koi in the pond. I am so glad they are too big for the Heron! We lived in the country once and I loved it. Brian is a city guy, so we moved back. We live directly in the center of our village right now. And village is a deceptive word really. It is truly a city.
We are really warming up here.

Robin in Virginia said...

Your Christmas finish looks fantastic as does the framed Santa looking so dapper in his blue coat. Love the frame and what a great happy mistake it was! I totally enjoyed the pictures you shared of your backyard, the flowers, and of Mr. B with the fish. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Sandy said...

The Christmas stitch is so pretty and that Santa fits so well in the frame. He is going to look lovely in your home this year. Oh I love looking out on nature. There is always so much to see and watch. I am never bored. Your spring flowers and back yard are beautiful. I am quite certain a little boy loves to visit there. Have a great few weeks doing all the things.

Shelly said...

Oh boy, now I'm inspired to stitch Christmas!! If only my arm would agree! I think out of everything you've stitched, your finished Christmas piece takes the cake. It is perfect on the vt country mocha linen! Perfect! I'm afraid I'll have to copy you, lol. Remember the blogger who died a few years ago, Love To Stitch? She stitched a LizzieKate Halloween sampler on 32ct Fog by PTP and I'm copying her too! I have the Fog, I just need the charts. I believe in signs too and guardian angels. I really think my mom watches over my daughter; she wanted grandchildren so bad. My daughter was born 5 years after she died. The weather hasn't been bad here, I still cover up with a blanket at night, or maybe it's just because I'm old!🤣enjoy the family get-togethers, and that the doc appointments are pleasant ones🤞🏼

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol....long time reader of your blog and I love it. You have such a good, peaceful life and contentment in our lives is so precious.

Your mom is watching you. How do you explain a feather in your kitchen? We can't and should let our faith and beliefs keep us steadfast in God's blessings to us. My husband of 35 years passed 4 years ago. I feel his spirit when I do the smallest things: from mowing the grass, to using a tool for small house repairs to even a feeling during the quiet hours in our living room. I miss him, but I know where he is. He keeps me "company" in times when I really need him.

Your yard is gorgeous and the critters are lucky to have you. They give you a lot of joy. Gotta love nature.

Speaking of stitching just Christmas pieces....I am right there with you sister. Hopefully I can get them framed or finished into pillows so I can enjoy during the season. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you for all your blog entries as I enjoy them so much.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Cindy in northern Illinois.

Rita H said...

I enjoyed your post emensely, Carol! Your Santa is beautiful even without his pack on his back. The snowflakes added in are the perfect finishing touch! I love signs from loved ones who’ve passed. When I see the elusive cardinal pair in my yard I know my Dad is watching over me. Nature is a wonder and joy to watch. We have a beautiful blue heron that comes to our dock, in search of food. And of course the pesky squirrels but, no deer like we had at our Wis lake house. At least we don’t have to worry about alligator's, like some other lakes in Texas do! I’m hoping that I’m the Rita H who won the Santa Rides chart. Messaging you in Instagram. Hope you have a great visit with Mr B!

Kgirl said...

Such a lovely post. You are such a good writer, and I enjoy reading them. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol, I so enjoyed reading your post today. Your latest Christmas stitch is so pretty. I’ve always like the saying on it and may have to stitch it, too! And, your Santa is perfect in the frame. Franken Frames is my “go to” for frames, too. And, I have a few pieces waiting to be framed! Your yard is beautiful and it would be hard not to watch the wildlife and birds for hours! Enjoy your time with Mr. B. Our 2 grandsons are 3 and it’s such a fun age! Take care, Cherie in WI

MartinaM said...

A beautiful motif is Christmas is Coming, I like it very much, it looks perfect with the fabric and colors. Oh how nice, you found the perfect frame for Santa 2019, it looks great.
I also believe that somehow someone is watching over me, maybe even my mom, who died suddenly and unexpectedly after Easter 2009. And I think about her often.
Beautiful flowers, I also have the same pink clematis.
A nice large property, and wonderful if you don't have too many neighbors around you. And the view of the garden must be wonderful. We live in the middle of a village and you can always hear cars driving, which is sometimes really annoying.
I really like your long posts, they are informative and educational, just nice to look at. Thank you for that
Enjoy the rest of May

butterfly said...

My dear Carol, I feel your pain and I knew you were sad I could feel it. The white feather I know is a wonderful gift from our love ones.
Your large Christmas stitch is so beautiful,I also love your Santa stitch.
I think the wet weather is making people feel so low , but once the sunshine comes we all feel much better.
It's been a very strange year so far.
We have sun today, but not for to long,so I must make the most of it.Your break away will be nice to see your family.
Hugs June,

Julie said...

Another wonderful post! I love how brave and talented you are with the modifications you make to your pieces.

The story of the feather hit home for me. I just wrote of a similar experience yesterday in a letter to a dear friend who just lost his wife. Instead of feathers my “messages” come in the form of music. Here’s what I shared with him in hopes he would find comfort as he grieves…

(Reference to a line in a song we both know). “….You're not really gone as long as I believe…” helps me believe and have faith that those I’ve loved so dearly are still close and talking to me in the way I can hear – through the music.

I’m grateful to know that others have similar experiences. It makes my faith in the messages even stronger.

Best wishes. Julie (Montana)

Christel said...

C'est bien de coudre Noël toute l'année, ainsi nous ne somme pas pris au dépourvu.
Le printemps est aussi bien loin en France, nous avons énormément de pluie et des températures assez fraîches. Le soleil manque à tout le monde, mais où s'est-il donc caché ?? Mystère...
Le Christmas is coming est absolument magnifique, la virgule et le point ajoutés font que mon cerveau apprécie également.
Le cadre pour le Père Noël est tout siplement parfait.
Je ne lève pas les yeux au ciel pour la petite plume trouvée. Je pense que nos chers disparus veillent sur nous et nous adressent des signes, comme cette plume ou d'autres choses et parfois des odeurs qui flottent et que l'on est pratiquement tout seul à sentir...
Vos clématites sont magnifiques. Nous n'en avons pas dans notre jardin, la terre ne leur convient pas et elles meurent malgré tous les soins apportés. Nous avons donc planté cette année des jasmins étoilés (blanc, jaune et rose) et ils se plaisent bien, nous avons déjà une petite fleur du jaune.
Que de faune dans votre jardin. nous avons des lapins, des écureuils roux et beaucoup d'oiseaux, mais je pense pas aussi nombreux que vous car notre jardin est beaucoup plus petit. Comme vous je ne voudrais pas retourner habiter en ville, cela me rendrait malheureuse, j'aime trop la nature pour m'en éloigner.. C'est vrai que nous sommes un peu loin de tout et qu'il faut prendre systématiquement la voiture pour les achats alimentaire ou autre, et nous espérons qu'en vieillissant nous pourrons continuer à vivre dans cet environnement. L'avenir le dira !
Amitiés de France.

Manuela said...

Hello Carol,
your newest Christmas finish looks great. They are so many little details.
I like the frame for the Santa. He looks perfect.
Thanks for sharing all the little photos from your garden, the flowers and the animals.
Have a nice time in May.
Big Hugs, Manuela

Carol in Texas said...

What a wonderful visit, Carol. I viewed Brenda Gervais’ tutorial on framing and got a lot out of it. Thank you for that tip. And thank for the name of your frame place. I’m not close to a Hobby Lobby so a lot of my stitching supplies come by delivery. I enjoyed all the photos you included of your place… is just lovely. We live in the country also and I so enjoy the wildlife we get to see out here, though deer severely limit what I can grow! In central Texas, thank heavens for lantana!!!!! I would never roll my eyes at anyone’s thoughts of their connections with God or angels or the souls of those we love who have gone before us. I so hope and pray our loved ones still are connected to us by some means or another.

I look forward to your next blog visit, whenever you manage that. Enjoy your days.

marly said...

Love seeing wildlife, flowers, wonderful finishes ... never too long of a post! Lots of changes in your latest work, all for the better I think. Your mom knows when it's time for a sign.

Barbara said...

My husband, who in years gone by has lived in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, tells me he has visited Assateague Island. How interesting. I enjoyed the picture of the horses.

And as I say just about every time I comment on your blog, I LOVE your cross stitching.

Your property is beautiful, truly.

Leonore Winterer said...

What a great finish! I love stitching text but I, too, tend to sometimes add punctuation when it's missing! Great framing job too.
Like you, were are also having a rather cold and rainy May, sprinkled with a couple of nice and sunny days. I wonder how summer will turn out this year.
I think I've told you before about the time my grandpa sent me a raven feather, and that I sometimes feel he's watching over me through bird's eyes. Not so much lately - maybe he thinks I don't need him as much anymore. I can't believe he's been gone for almost five years...

Anonymous said...

Love the little cubby dedicated to mom, Care. I believe that mom and dad send us little signs as well. The loons were in full force at TT. I’m pretty sure mom was saying hello to Ollie & Levi. The horses from the biking trip are so precious! đź’—

Jutta said...

Dear Carol,
Thank you very much for your wonderful blog post, so private and emotional, thank you for the great photos.
I'm glad you were able to embroider so much and the frame for the new Santa fits perfectly.
All the best to you and your family, have a nice weekend, Jutta

Maggie said...

Love Christmas Is Coming and on 40 count too! I take my hat off to you Carol, I would just never be able to see to stitch on 40 count.
Loved seeing the arial photo of your house and garden, such a lovely space you have and with all the wildlife your pond brings you must have something new to look at each day. My kitchen looks out onto our garden and I love to stand there and look out, although our space isn't a big as you have we still get plenty of birds and of course the squirrels.
No eye rolling here I believe in signs too, and that sweet little white feather was definitely one from your mum to say she is still looking out for you. x

Katie said...

Beautiful finish!! Love your changes. Perfect to make the piece yours. How perfect the frame was just meant to be. Looks ordered exactly for him. Mother's Day hit me really hard this year too. Weird. Hugs though. I definitely believe in signs. My Grandma leaves me bobby pins and I find them everywhere when I need to. My mom has sent me signs but not just one thing. Just definitely know it's her when it's there. The feather is perfect! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous yard and visitors. We are lucky enough to have a very similar view and I appreciate it every day.

Irene said...

I believe in the signals our mothers send us: before Christmas or Easter, I don't know why, but I receive letters with refunds of past payments that my mother had made. I collect them and then give them to my grandchildren. I'm convinced that she's the one who remembers to give them a gift. I love your Christmas embroideries, I think I'll start in September

Bluebird said...

I love your "Christmas is Coming " piece- it looks beautiful. I so enjoy your posts, with photos of stitching, wildlife, your garden, travel photos, recipes, etc., and I never have thought it was too long a post! I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into writing your blog posts- thank you! I think it's lovely you found that feather, and know it's a sign from your Mom. I have visited Assateague Island also- it's a beautiful place, and so amazing to see the wild horses.

Jennifer said...

Hi Carol! What a pretty finish you have and also such a lovely framed Santa! I really enjoy reading about your adaptations to the patterns, I rarely go off the design so it is nice to hear about the adjustments others make. Your yard is so pretty with the flowers and wildlife. While we live in the city, we back up to woods (and also did in our condo) and I can’t imagine looking out at someone else’s house instead of nature. We have lots of small wildlife in our yard too and the squirrels tend to be the most entertaining. Hope you had a nice visit with your son’s family and I look forward to seeing what you stitch next!