Tuesday, November 22, 2022

In Everything, Give Thanks

It's almost Thanksgiving! Are you ready? I've been cleaning and baking like a fiend--my house never looked (or smelled!) so good. Seriously, though... it's so nice to have the windows sparkling, floors cleaned and vacuumed, and freshly made beds just waiting for a house full of guests! My little grandson (Mister B) arrives tonight and will be here for an entire week--I can't wait! This will be his first Thanksgiving with us and I can't wait to introduce him to our family favorites. Of course, his mom and dad will be coming, too :) My youngest son and his girlfriend arrive from Washington, DC on Thursday morning and later that day 20 of us will gather around our table and give thanks for our blessings. It's been a very difficult year for my husband's side of the family and this will be the first holiday without my mother-in-law. She loved Thanksgiving so very much and I'm happy that she inspired that same love in all of us. How will you be spending Thanksgiving? Are you hosting like me or traveling to be with a loved one?

My Pottery Barn cubby was looking a bit anemic in terms of Thanksgiving decor so I quickly whipped up three new finishes for it. The first one is a freebie from Heartstring Samplers called simply, "Give Thanks." It can be stitched on a lighter fabric or on black, but you know me--I chose the black, in this case 25 ct. black Lugana. I used the suggested DMC threads and stitched it "over one" to make it small enough to fit into my cubby (whose squares are just 4 ½ inches by 4 ½ inches). You can find this lovely chart right here.

"Give Thanks" freebie--love it on the black and I thought the little acorn charm in the upper corner was so sweet!


Another freebie, compliments of Heartstring Samplery is this sweet design called "Grateful Thankful Blessed." It is available by clicking this link along with many other delightful designs from Beth Twist. I certainly appreciate the generosity of so many of the cross stitch designers at this time of year! This was stitched "over one" on 25 ct. vintage country mocha Lugana using Crescent Colors 'Pine Needles' and 'Autumn Spice' and Weeks Dye Works 'Chestnut.' I love the simplicity of this design and finished it using a mustard yellow round metal disc that I had in my stash. I think the metal disc was supposed to be used to hold candles, but it makes a great background for round finishes, too. 

"Grateful Thankful Blessed" freebie finish


My final Thanksgiving finish is a chart I've had in my stash for years--I'm so glad I finally stitched it! I just love those white pumpkins in this charming piece by Hands on Design. It is called "Give Thanks" and is stitched on 40 ct. woodland brown Newcastle using all of the suggested threads (except I substituted Gentle Arts 'Tin Bucket' for the dark grey color). Do you like the final finish with the two brown fabrics separated by some ecru ric-rak? I think it's my favorite of the trio. Which one is yours?

"Give Thanks" by Hands On Design--love those white pumpkins

A Thanksgiving trio of new finishes for my cubby


So would you like to see the Thanksgiving version of my Pottery Barn cubby? I still have a few more spaces for future little pillows, but I rather like the way objects such as the squirrels or the Pilgrim couple add interest to the whole look.

Pottery Barn cubby all decked out for Thanksgiving

I'm often asked questions about individual finishes so I'll give you some close-ups with links to my finishes (where available--some were stitched before I began blogging!). Just click on the name of the piece and it will take you to my original post where you can learn more about that particular finish.

Top row: Prairie Schooler turkey from "Spring & Fall" (Book No. 90), "Be Ye Thankful" by The Cricket Collection  Middle Row: "Harvest Sampler" from a Leisure Arts book called "Holiday Reverie," "Pumpkin Patch" from Just Cross Stitch Magazine Sept/Oct 1988 Bottom Row: "Thanksgiving Spots" by The Trilogy

Top Row: Prairie Schooler Turkey from "A Prairie Year" (Book No. 13) stitched before I began blogging, Pilgrim couple stitched so long ago I have no idea what book it came from  Middle row: "Autumn Tree" by The Trilogy (I recently updated this finish as I never liked my initial one which you can see here),  "Let Us Be Truly Thankful" by Heartstring Samplery Bottom Row: "French Country Squirrel" by JBW Designs

Top row: Turkey pouch from Prairie Schooler Book No. 52 "Prairie Year Rounds," "Thankful" freebie by Primitive Betty Middle Row: Prairie Schooler "Autumn" from an issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine (unfortunately, I did not record the issue), Block from "Autumn at Hawk Run Hollow" by Carriage House Samplings (I substituted the sheep that was charted with squirrels) Bottom Row: "Grateful Thankful Blessed" by Heartstring Samplery (in this post), "Joyful Autumn" by Homespun Elegance     

Top row: The Pilgrim couple are actually salt and pepper shakers that I got years ago when I was first married, "Give Thanks" freebie by Heartstring Samplery (in this post), my dear mother's silhouette and ceramic baby shoes that are always showcased in the center cubby Middle Row: "Give Thanks" by Plum Street Samplings (in this post), PS Autumn (see caption from previous photo) Bottom Row: "Give Thanks" by Hands On Design (in this post), "Thanksgiving Bird" by Heart in Hand Designs

Here are a couple more photos of the entire cubby... Do you have a favorite? I think my favorite is the little Prairie Schooler turkey pouch filled with shafts of wheat in cubby 13. I just love it!

It's been frigid here--a shock after the unseasonably warm weather that we enjoyed in early November! In fact, we even had our first snow of the season last week. It was so beautiful, but only lasted one day. I was really hoping we would have snow for Thanksgiving, but it's getting up into the '50s that day. Oh well, the warmer weather definitely makes it easier for travelers. I'm just thankful that we didn't get that crazy 6+ feet of snow that they had in the Buffalo, NY area. That is my hometown (I lived there until I was five) and I still remember the huge snowstorms that crippled the area even back in the 1950s. I just can't imagine digging out after that much snow!

First snow of the season: Tuesday, November 15th

This acrobatic squirrel wasn't letting the snow keep him from stealing the bird seed!


That's about it for today--it's time to get back to my baking! There are pies to be made and muffins to be baked, as well as a pumpkin roll to create, and the cookie tray to put together. Thankfully, baking is one of my favorite things to do... 

I can't leave without thanking each of you for your heartfelt comments on my previous post about the flooded Florida house and the death of my mother-in-law. I cried even more as I read through them, but they were happy tears knowing I have so many caring friends out there. I've said this many, many times, but I am truly thankful to be a part of the best community online--the cross stitching community. I think we chose the right hobby, didn't we? Anyway, we are just taking things day by day and have made no firm decisions on the family home in Florida as of now. We know better days are ahead of us and one of them will be on Thursday  as we gather together and count  our  many blessings. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! Bye for now...

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my blogging friends!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Mud, sweat, and tears

Hello, my friends... I'm slowly getting back to feeling more like myself, but the events of the last four weeks really "took the wind out of my sails," so to speak. First of all, I want to thank you all for your thoughtful words on my previous post on the loss of my mother-in-law and of our family home to Hurricane Ian in Florida. I truly meant to reply to each of you, but just couldn't gather my thoughts. I've been missing from both the blogging world and Instagram for almost a month, but am trying to get back to normal life once again. The good news is that I never lost my stitching mojo--that is one thing that has brought me true comfort over the past month. So, why not start with something happy--I have a finish! And it's a big one! 

I've mentioned time and time again that Prairie Schooler designs are my "comfort stitching." The designs are just so classic and special that I rarely change a color or anything in the design itself. You just pick up your needle, thread, and fabric--and stitch away! Their Christmas designs are, far and away, my favorites. I began "Christmas Village" last fall and got about 2/3 of it done. This fall, I decided my goal was to have it finished by Christmas. And here it is!

Prairie Schooler's "Christmas Village" finish stitched on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle linen


I love all the tiny details in this finish: the wreaths hanging from the houses and doors, the prancing deer in that never-ending forest of green pine trees, the flock of geese honking overhead, the Christmas trees all lit up and shining in the windows, the old-fashioned horse-drawn sleighs. And don't forget that cute snowman with his blue scarf blowing in the wind!

Love those leaping deer!

In the meadow you can build a snowman


The only change I made to this one (other than a few colors in the window frames) was to add a chimney and some billowing smoke to the schoolhouse. For some reason that was the only building without a chimney (perhaps school wasn't in session?).  The trees in this piece took on a life of their own! Oh, my--I counted 72 of them (including the ones in the sleighs)! Anyway, they really define the piece and were well worth the effort. This will be framed and I may just leave it up all year. It's a classic, don't you think? Which house is your favorite? Of course, I choose the one in the upper middle with the blue door and the Christmas tree lighting up the front window!

Now, that's a lot of trees! 72 of them!

Giveaway winner... It seems like a long, long time ago, but I did offer a giveaway in my September post. Thank you to all who participated and answered the "Getting To Know You" question on your artistic (or lack of as in my case!) abilities. It was fun to read your answers and learn some new things about you! This fall Lizzie Kate alphabet chart was up for grabs and the winner's name pulled from the hat was...

Leonore (in Germany)

Leonore--you are the winner! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this chart sent off to you as soon as possible.

I have also been working on some little Christmas gifts in the form of ornaments and cards--such a nice diversion from thinking about the sadness that has overwhelmed our family for the past month. As I mentioned in my last post, Hurricane Ian flooded our family home in Naples, Florida (where my in-laws had lived for over 30 years) on September 28th. And just two days later, my dear mother-in-law passed away, thankfully never knowing that her beloved home was so thoroughly damaged. My in-laws hadn't lived in Florida since they moved back north for health reasons in late 2019. Both were residing in assisted living and then a nursing home where my father-in-law died in July of last year.

My mother-in-law's death has affected me more than I expected. Perhaps it is because she was the last of our parents. There is no one ahead of us--we're up next and that scares me a bit. I keep thinking of questions I should have asked of her (and of my own mother) and now will never get the chance. My mother-in-law raised four amazing sons and each gathered to say goodbye to her on that final day of September. As the sun slowly set and we knew her time was near, we turned on a small light in the corner of her room. Each son surrounded her bedside, holding her hands, patting her legs, and stroking her forehead. They told her they were all there and she could now let go and rest in peace. And within minutes, she took her final breath and passed away surrounded by the soft sounds of crying from family members. This was the only death I have ever witnessed and it was a very powerful experience. I felt honored to be there with her four beloved sons, my sweet sister-in-law, and several of her grandchildren. I'll never, ever forget the experience, I know that...

My mother-in-law was the opposite of me in many ways. She was outgoing and gregarious and loved to entertain and go to parties. I am shy and introverted and prefer my own company most of the time. She participated in sports such as tennis and skiing. And she was good at them! She also loved to cook and bake (I did have the latter in common with her!).  She absolutely adored babies--I remember being so envious of her ability to calm down my  oldest son when he was a crying infant as I hopelessly stared on as a brand-new, exhausted, and very nervous young mother. She and my father-in-law treated their entire family to a week's vacation at the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for over 30 years. That is the main reason my sons know their cousins (who are scattered all over the U.S.) so well. She lived a very full 94 years, but had been in a great deal of pain for the past few years and she was very much ready to go. Even so, it's never easy to say goodbye, is it?

My mother-in-law meeting Baby B for the first time on her 93rd birthday in May of 2021.

One of my favorite photos of the two of us was taken in 2007 at a dinner before my niece's wedding.


This is how I want to remember my in-laws--sitting in the corner of their kitchen in Florida welcoming everyone who stopped by. This photo was taken in May 2018 on my mother-in-law's 90th birthday--the final time most of the family visited their Florida home together. May they both rest in peace...

So... Hurricane Ian. What can I say? There sure have been a lot of tears over the past four weeks. The hurricane made land north of our family home in Naples on September 28th, 2022. There was little damage from wind in the Naples area, but the homes near the beach (ours is just five blocks away) were severely flooded from the storm surge. All the older Florida-style one-story ranch homes like ours were affected, but the newer homes which were built up at least 5 or 6 feet higher came through with only flooding in their garages and cars. We had seen a video taken two days later (by the cleaning lady who helped with our Airbnb rentals) and it just made you shake your head to see the power and destruction of water. But, to see the damage in person, was so much worse. 

My husband and I flew down to Florida for a week in mid-October to assess the damage for ourselves. Fortunately, the one-bedroom/one bath apartment above the garage was not damaged at all so we were able to stay right on the property. We were just devastated when we first pushed through the storm-swollen front door of the house. The brown muck on the floors and carpets, the wretched odor, and the horror of seeing everything we had worked so hard for (in making the home a welcoming rental space on Airbnb) totally undone, was almost too much to bear. Furniture was toppled over and beginning to mold, mud was everywhere, there was even seaweed from the Gulf of Mexico due to a front window breaking during the storm surge.

Yes, that is seaweed! At least we didn't find any fish.


The water line was visible throughout the home and measured almost four feet high. I have it marked in the photo below. Just take a look around you and you'll realize what survives after a four-foot flood--not much! The water was above the kitchen and bathroom counters leaving only the upper kitchen cabinets and a few pictures hanging on the walls untouched.

The water level reached almost four feet

Our cleaning lady's husband had removed the couches, tables, and chairs for us. But, the sopping wet and smelly mattresses, bedding, towels, blankets, and carpeting as well as miscellaneous furniture remained for us to deal with. Along with the contents of every, single drawer and cupboard in the house!

This was a couple days in after we had already removed a lot of stuff and the mud on the tiles was dry--no more "ice skating" through that slippery "muck," thank goodness! We both almost fell many, many times.

Although that large television had been moved up to the counter it was too damaged to repair. In fact the only appliance that survived the flood was the refrigerator.


Every drawer and pot and pan was filled with foul-smelling water and I cleaned out each one. Some things like glassware and cookware were saved, washed, and taken to thrift shops. Most things--like the contents of the drawer below were thrown in the trash. On the final day we were there, we loaded up the bed of the pickup truck that we rented (you should have seen me trying to jump in and out of that big gray truck--what a sight!) and took an entire load of items we managed to salvage to Goodwill.

For some reason, I always think of the Titanic when I see this photo


The hardest sight to view was my father-in-law's old office which had acted as the locked "owner's closet" for our Airbnb rentals. This is where personal things were kept--some old papers, jewelry, the computer, the printer, good china, and meaningful family items. The cleaning lady also stored her extra supplies of toilet tissue, paper towels, rugs, and towels in there. Sadly, that pile of "stuff" on the white chair in the left corner was stacks of photos and photo albums--all completely ruined.


My husband wanted to leave most things in the office as we will be selling the house and the buyer will simply be bull-dozing everything down to the ground. But, I just wanted to honor his parents and remove as much as we possibly could, so I kept chipping away at the sodden contents each day. And I'm so glad I did... Unbelievably, this tiny portion of a photo survived. It is of my husband's dear Grandpa Ralph--the man who began coming to Naples with his wife, Kathleen, in the 1950s when it was little more than swampland. They built a home and eventually retired in Naples where they lived until their deaths.

A shred of a photo remained, but a very special one.


And, these treasures were also found along with old marriage and birth certificates. I couldn't believe that I was able to save them! I carefully separated the papers, lay each one to dry, and was thrilled to see you can still read these sweet love letters from Grandpa Ralph and his then girlfriend, Grandma Kathleen written nearly one hundred years ago--in the 1920s! Part of her diary was also found and some of it was still legible. She talks about the death of her mother when she was just 15 years old in one entry... I'm thrilled to know this part of my husband's family history survived Hurricane Ian.

Love letters from my husband's paternal grandparents dating back to the 1920s


Anything made of paper that fell to the floor was absolutely plastered to it with the mud. I found it quite ironic that one of the books we had laying on the coffee table for our Airbnb guests was now on the floor opened to a page with the headline reading "Enduring. Restoring. Rebuilding." It was from a book about Hurricane Irma (which we had dealt with in 2017, although it was much less devastating to our home).

"Enduring. Restoring. Rebuilding." Well, in some cases...

Below is a photo of what things looked like on the final day after we had cleared out everything except for random odds and ends (like the toaster oven in the corner!). Notice that even the fan blades were drooping from the high humidity due to all the water. I really can't describe how horrid the air was in the house. We wore masks and gloves the entire time, but I still worry that some of the ever-growing mold may have gotten into our lungs. We didn't clean the floors--there was no point as the house will be bulldozed and destroyed. But, we both felt very proud (and truly exhausted!) at having cleared out the entire place. It is a miracle that neither of us 67-year-olds were injured, in my opinion! I know my in-laws would have been so proud of us.

A final look...


And this is what we took out front to be picked up by the garbage truck--the moldy, rotting, smelly remains of a once very special family home. There was another pile for electronics and a third pile for construction materials where my husband put various boards and all the doors that he removed. It was interesting to watch cars pull up throughout the day and pick up an item they thought they could salvage--good for them!

So many memories...

On our final morning in Naples, we took a short drive around the neighborhood and to the beach. Heaps of memories that looked much like the pile in front of our house lined the streets... Mattresses where folks had slept and dreamed, tables and chairs where families had gathered for meals, cabinets that had once held carefully chosen dishes and books, pictures and family photos that had adorned walls. It was almost too much to think about... so much has been lost by so many.

Loved this sign that one of the neighbors had put up in his yard!


When we reached the beach (just five blocks away), we noticed how empty it was. Large signs warned that no one should enter the water in the Gulf of Mexico due to its high bacterial content from the hurricane. The Naples Pier was still standing, but very damaged as you can see in the photo below. The damaged pier shown in the bottom photo now ends soon after the little house on the right side shown in the undamaged photo on the top from our visit in April. The entire end is gone. I'm actually surprised that any of it remained.


The once green foliage that lined the beach had turned brown and shriveled looking. As we turned to walk back to our rental truck, though, my husband suddenly stopped and reached for one of the branches of the sea grapes bush nearby. "Look, Care," he said, "new leaves are already beginning to sprout!" A perfect metaphor for the neighborhoods in southwest Florida, I'd say. Many will rebuild their homes, stronger and higher to withstand future hurricanes and floods. Some will sell their now badly damaged homes and move on to greener pastures. Others, like us, will sell when the time is right--we need a bit more time to process all that transpired on September 28, 2022. But, I have no doubt that southwest Florida will--some day--thrive and grow, once again, into that magical place that so many have come to treasure through the years. I'm certain of it...

New growth on a battered shrub


So, the "things" are all gone, but we will always have our memories... family trips to visit Grandma Jean and Grandpa Don, watching our boys scurrying around catching the little skinks (tiny lizards) that roam the yard, celebrating a special 90th birthday in 2018, annual March visits to attend the Naples Craft Beer Fest, Grandma Kathleen's special shell table, walking down the alley at night to the 7-11 to buy ice cold cherry slushies, eating Klondikes each night with Grandpa Don at exactly 8:30 PM, working crossword puzzles in the mornings during breakfast, putting together jigsaw puzzles on the dining room table, setting up the house and running it as a successful Airbnb rental this year. It was a small home, but one that always felt warm and welcoming--and I'll never forget it.

The way I'll always remember the little yellow Naples home--sunny and welcoming

Oh, boy... this was a tough one to write... I hope a few of you are still with me. My next post will be more up-beat--I promise! Until then, please take care my friends and know how very much I appreciate each one of you. Thank you for your kindness, as always. Bye for now...

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Some sad September days...


Just wanted to check in as I've had a few folks wonder where I was and if I was okay, both here and on Instagram. Last week was filled with sadness for my family. On Wednesday, September 28th, the storm surge from Hurricane Ian flooded our family home in Naples with almost six feet of water. My husband, oldest brother-in-law, youngest niece, and I had worked so hard to get it back to livable shape after the same thing happened in 2017 with Hurricane Irma (apparently those "I" named hurricanes don't like us). We had finally gotten the house to the point where it was being rented (and very well-received) on Airbnb just this year. And now this... the idea of starting over is almost too much. My husband and I will be heading down to Naples very soon to see first-hand the damage that was done. It's been heartbreaking to watch all of the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Ian that took place throughout Florida and my heart goes out to all who were affected. It will take a long time to return to "normal" on the west coast--if ever.

As this was going on, my family was facing an even sadder time--my dear mother-in-law passed away just two days later on Friday, September 30, 2022. Thankfully, she never became aware of what had just happened to her beloved Florida home where she had spent so many happy years. At 94 she had lived a long, full life and is finally pain-free after 15+ years for which we are truly grateful. I'll be writing more about her life in a future post, but for now, I'm just too heartsick and sad over the events of last week to put much down into words. I can't bring myself to read blogs or comment on Instagram right now, but I simply wanted to write a short post today to let you know that I'll be back when I feel more like myself. Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. Bye for now...

Thursday, September 15, 2022

A late summer finish

Brrr... it's another cold, September morning here in western Pennsylvania--proof that fall is slowly creeping in! Luckily, we'll be having some nice warm weather here again over the next week and I can't wait. It's been a busy two weeks since I last posted and the world has seen some major changes. I'm thinking, especially, of all my friends in Great Britain who have had such changes in leadership and I hope things go smoothly during the transition. I think the whole world was a bit shocked when on September 6th at Balmoral Castle, Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the new Prime Minister and less than 48 hours later... she was gone. I think that whenever an older person lives well into his or her 90s, we are all pulling for them to reach age 100. But, that just wasn't meant to be...

But, on to stitching... I've been teasing you over the past couple of months with a big summer piece that I've been working on since early July. And guess what?! It's finished! Welcome to Riley Harbor where horses roam the streets, birds are as big as doorways, and a large, friendly whale resides in the bay. 

"Riley Harbor"


I have very few summer-themed pieces in my collection so when I spotted this charming design by Kathy Barrick, I ordered it on the spot and began stitching it as soon as it arrived. (Well, right after I changed almost all of the colors, that is)! I've never changed as many colors as I did in this piece, but I'm so pleased with the final result. The original darker  houses were charted to be black, but that just didn't feel right to me, so I chose a lovely navy blue Kreinik Silk Mori.

It was such fun picking the colors for the houses!

Each house took a surprising amount of time to stitch! I honestly felt like a little girl with a coloring book and crayons as I selected the colors and filled in each one. The houses that are stitched in shades of golden brown are the only ones that I used the suggested colors for.

Which house would you live in? I'd pick that little blue one on the far right. I just noticed the houses in the back row have no doors... Perhaps they are on the other side?

There was such a wonderful variety of motifs in this one: the houses, waves, birds, horses, sea creatures (I'd never stitched a lobster, crab, or seahorse before)... And don't you love that trio of ships with their billowy sails?

Sailing, sailing!


Last, but not least, just look at that humongous whale stitched in Weeks Dye Works Confederate Grey (which I just noticed has been re-named simply "Grey" on many websites). He seemed to take forever, but he is most certainly the star of the show. For the waves, I used a Belle Soie Silk: Chester's Blue (stitching with only the lighter blue portions).

All I can think of when I look at the whale is the Raffi song "Baby Beluga"--one of my grandson's favorites!

I plan on having this piece framed next year--really looking forward to seeing it hanging in my family room year round!

"Riley Harbor" stitched on 40 ct. Stormy Night Newcastle linen

So, what do I stitch next? I seriously need to buckle down and begin my Christmas stitching--I have several gifts to make, a few cards and ornaments to stitch, and I'd love to at least start one of the larger Christmas charts that I purchased earlier this year. And then there are a couple of Thanksgiving charts that I've put off for way too long. Oh, if there were only more hours in my day! How about you? Are you moving on to Christmas or still doing autumn or Halloween stitching? 

We had a wonderful four days with my grandson! I was a bit disappointed as they were supposed to arrive on a Wednesday night, but work got in the way so they wouldn't be able to get here until late Thursday night. Imagine my surprise when I heard a noise at my kitchen door early Thursday afternoon and turned around to find Mister B and his mom and dad standing there smiling at me. Oh, the joy! They had rearranged their schedules to surprise us! We played and played with all of the old toys my husband and I had recently brought down from the attic and cleaned up. Oh, how my grandson loved them--he didn't even want to take a break from play-time to eat. It really made me smile as I recalled my sons happily playing with those very same toys over 30 years ago...

Fisher Price toys from the 1980s were a big hit with my grandson--I'm so glad I saved them all these years! Do any of you remember these?

Mister B named this quintet: Nonna, Pompaw, Dada, Mama, and baby

A new experience... We also did something my husband and I had never done in spite of living in western Pennsylvania for over 45 years--we took a little river cruise on the Gateway Clipper. Now keeping a two-year-old entertained for more than ten minutes on an hour-long riverboat ride was not the easiest thing, but we managed. It was a fun way to see the city and enjoy some lovely fall weather at the same time.

The sights of Pittsburgh and its three rivers as seen from The Gateway Clipper cruise.

The fountain at Point State Park with the Pittsburgh skyline behind

PNC Park, the home of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball

Looking up to Mt. Washington from the riverboat. Can you spot the two red and yellow cars on the Duquesne Incline? (I'd sure love to get rid of that beer sign, though; I think it really detracts from the beauty of the hillside!).

I took this photo from the top of Mt. Washington in July when my youngest son and his girlfriend were visiting. Honestly, what a beautiful view of the city from up there. If you ever visit Pittsburgh, taking the Duquesne Incline to the top of Mt. Washington and photographing the city is a must!

If you love peaches... I wanted to share a recipe that I've made a few times this summer--it's one of our favorites and I think you'll love it, too (assuming you like peaches!). Iva's Peach Cobbler from the Taste of Home website is quick and easy (the hardest part is peeling all those peaches!)--you can find the recipe right here. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Peach Cobbler--and don't forget the ice cream!


The end of an inspiring chapter in history... I mentioned the passing of Queen Elizabeth II earlier and I'm honestly surprised at how many times I've shed a tear or two since word came of her death on September 8th. I'm not British (although my mother's paternal ancestry goes way, way back in England), but I feel that her death truly leaves a large void in the world. Just think of all the wondrous sights and changes she witnessed in her 70 years on the throne! All the famous people, world leaders, and just plain common folk that she greeted. All the inventions that have  appeared and changed lives. All the countries she visited and unique experiences she had... Her witty humor, her sense of steadfastness, and that famous twinkle in her eye will surely be missed by many. May she rest in peace...

There were so many beautiful remembrances of the Queen online--these were some of my favorites.

And meaning no disrespect, but my family thought my mother looked more and more like Queen Elizabeth as she got older. Born just a year after the Queen, my mom witnessed many of the same world events--although certainly not in the same way. One day a few years ago, my youngest sister was visiting mom and found her sleeping on the couch with this issue of Vanity Fair laying across her stomach. When my sister saw that mom was dressed nearly identically to the Queen she knew she had to take a photo of her. She ran to get the photo that had been taken at my niece's wedding of mom sitting in a fancy chair in the church pretending to be royalty. After placing it in mom's hand, she then snapped this sweet photo. All mom needed were a few corgis and it would have been a perfect match! (And no--my mom hadn't dressed like this on purpose. It was pure coincidence)!

My family's own "Queen"--my dear mother with her beautiful smile


Giveaway... I have a very cute Lizzie Kate chart to give away today! Would any of you like to stitch it? This was given to me by a very sweet reader named Linda (in North Carolina) who sent a couple charts to me to use as giveaways. Thank you, Linda--I so appreciate your kindness! This chart, called "Autumn Alphabet" also includes the squirrel and moon charms and the tiny button that are needed to embellish the finish. I'll pick the winner at random and announce the name the next time I post.

If you would like to win this Lizzie Kate chart, please follow the guidelines below.

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

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

2) Be a follower in my blog's sidebar (to 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... Today's question is: "Do you have any artistic talent--specifically, can you paint or draw?" Ha! For me, that is simple--no, I have absolutely no talent in those areas. When I was growing up, I so longed to be good at art. I would try my best in art class in elementary school, but always come away with a mediocre grade. I just have no talent in the drawing or painting arena. When my family plays board games that involve drawing--no one wants me on their team! I am in awe of people who can sit down and paint a landscape or draw a cartoon or funny face. There is some signal just plain missing between my brain and my hands. Thankfully, I feel like cross stitching is "kind of" like painting with threads and, at long last, I do feel at least a bit artistic. How about you?  I'd love to know your thoughts...

I want to thank each of you for taking the time to visit "Stitching Dreams" today! I know blogging is fading, but I truly appreciate each of you who still visits and takes the time to say "hello!" Thank you so much for your comments on my previous post--I'm touched that so many of you enjoyed my recollections of visiting my mother's university. Many of you mentioned you've had similar experiences of a loved one guiding them so I guess I'm not crazy. I hope you each enjoy the rest of September! Bye for now...

Mister B is back in California this week for a visit. I wonder if he remembers the first 15 months of his life spent in San Diego? It was just a year ago this month that he and his parents moved to Maryland and we are so happy they did!