Monday, March 12, 2018

One bunny, two sheep, and something new

Good morning all! Hard to believe March is nearly half over... It's been a good month for me so far and it's about to get better as I'll have my oldest and youngest sons home for a few days this weekend. That is so very rare these days now that one lives in San Diego and the other in Washington,DC... I can't wait! 

My stitching, as usual, involves seasonal pieces and, just in time for Easter, I have this sweet Blackbird Designs finish called "Easter Parade" to share with you. I honestly can't remember when I enjoyed stitching a piece so much--the overdyed colors, the eyelet stitches on the bunny and one of the stars, the purple checkerboard border. The whole piece just came together so well... (I want to thank a very special blogging friend for lending me her chart--it will be flying home to you very soon!).

"Easter Parade"

I stitched the bunny holding his egg-filled Easter basket on 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested overdyed threads except I substituted Gentle Arts "Sweet Pea" for the border. He would have been a bit large for one of my little pillows so I mounted him on some purple and white polka dot fabric, surrounded him with ecru pompom trim and glued some felt on the back.

Loved everything about this one!

To attach him to the chicken wire frame, I glued two d-ring picture hangers on the back and then simply wired those to the chicken wire with regular old twist-ties. So easy! In the corner, I added a polka-dot yo-yo topped with a couple of buttons and glued it onto some berries and vine trim that I found at a local craft store. A gauzy pink ribbon was then intertwined with the vines.

"Easter Parade" all finished up

Here is a close-up of the yo-yo embellishment... I was so pleased with how the berries complemented the pompom trim and resembled the stitched berries in the rabbit's pack! What do you think? It was nice to have a "bigger finish" for a change although my first love will always be making ornaments and small pillows.

I am on a yo-yo kick this year!

My Christmas ornament for March is the exceedingly popular "Little Red Barn" by Little House Needleworks. It seems that virtually everyone is stitching this on Instagram! I won't be stitching the entire series, but will pick and choose throughout the year.  I forgot to take a "before" photo, but this is how I finished it up--black gingham, red twisted cording, another yo-yo and some black felt glued to the back. The fabric was 35 ct. natural Northern Cross from my stash and, unfortunately, I used two strands of floss and it about drove me crazy--it was just too tight! But, I love the final look and I'm pleased to be doing a better job at keeping up with my monthly ornament stitching this year.

"Little Red Barn" finish

This design called to me because I grew up with a barn right behind my house. No, I didn't live in the country or on a farm. I grew up in a very small town in western New York, but in a house built in the early 1900s before cars were common. So, this pretty white barn once held horses and buggies! By the time my family moved in, in the early 1960s, the horses were long-gone and the lower floor of the barn held our cars, dad's tools, the lawnmower, etc.

But, it was the upper floor where all the magic happened... long afternoons spent playing the "Wizard of Oz" with the neighborhood kids (I always insisted on being the witch!), shooting hoops with my brother and his friends, and when we were older, building floats for the Homecoming parades each fall. So many wonderful memories... I took this photo from my upstairs bedroom on the last day of the estate sale we had after my parents sold our home in 2012. I can't help but look at it with tears in my eyes--that was the last time I slept in my childhood home.

If those walls could talk--wonderful memories were made in our old barn!

Here is a close-up of the wonderful cupola and the tilted weather vane that had turned in the wind for so many years. My mother always said it was that beautiful barn that sold her and dad on purchasing the fixer-upper of a house in 1960. I can see why...

Loved this old cupola and galloping horse!

In December, when my middle son and I drove home from visiting my mom, we took a detour and drove down through my old hometown. The new owners had painted the barn doors black and were obviously taking very good care of my old home. It warmed my heart to see the old homestead was being loved and cared for so well... And that same tilted horse was still galloping away in the wind on the tip-top of our old white barn. 

The new owners are maintaining our old barn so nicely!

Okay--enough of my walk down memory lane! Do you remember my last post about the extensive cleaning that has been taking place around my house--the "Swedish Death Cleaning?" Well, I've been finding more goodies! Look what I found all rolled up in the back of a drawer... this beauty called "No Vacancy" by Marjolein Bastin that I stitched way back in 2005... I'd forgotten all about the poor thing! I'm sure I used the suggested DMC colors because I was too afraid to change colors back then--I've come a long way! I also used evenweave which I rarely use any more except for "over one" stitching or smaller pillows/ornaments. Pardon the wrinkles--I just unrolled it to photograph it for this post. I really would like to get this framed, but I am not sure about the "No Vacancy" words and am trying to think of something different, or perhaps just stitching one or two of the motifs in place of the words. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Any suggestions for replacing the words "No Vacancy?"

Baking has been taking up more of my free hours and I've been experimenting with the new bread machine we got for Christmas. So far I've made a Seven Grain Bread, homemade hamburger buns, Buttermilk-Oatmeal Bread, and this very tasty Sunflower and Grains Bread. Yum!! I am being really good and limiting myself to one piece a day--my husband, on the other hand, is having a hard time stopping at one piece (or two or even three or four!).

A freshly baked loaf of sunflower and grains bread

And for my son's girlfriend's birthday, I made the cutest little carrot cakes in a baby Bundt pan. My mother-in-law gave me this six-cake pan probably 30 years ago and I had never used it! So happy that it didn't become a victim of my purging rampage as it made the sweetest cakes.

Baby bundt cakes!
A pink-tinted cream cheese and maple syrup glaze topped them off quite nicely. (The two with toothpicks had no nuts in them since my son's girlfriend doesn't eat them). Next time, I will make the glaze a bit thinner.

Happy Birthday carrot cakes with pink tinted frosting

I've also been moving out the snowmen and moving in the spring decorations (even though it is still snowing off and on here in western Pennsylvania!). My pink bunnies have really cozied up the bottom shelf of my corner cupboard. I have to admit the color pink is starting to grow on me :)

Pretty in pink bunnies

And the five St. Patrick's Day smalls that I made back in 2012 are back for March. I feel bad that I haven't added to my green collection, but there's always next year! I don't have an ounce of Irish blood, but I do enjoy the little leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, and luck-themed pillow on display to break up this long, often unpredictable, month of March.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Now for my "something new" that I mentioned in my last post! I've begun dabbling in English paper piecing--I'm making hexies... What will I do with them? Well, I'm not sure. I don't think a quilt is in my future (but never say never!), however I can see myself using them for a smaller wall hanging, pincushion, project pouch, mug rug, or table runner. I've made them in three different sizes and, you know me--I'm extremely drawn to the smallest ones. Below you can see the 1 1/2 inch hexies, the 3/4 inch hexies, and my favorites, the teeny pink 1/2 inch hexies. I haven't gotten brave enough to stitch each piece of the flower together, but I hope that I'll have that done by my next post! I love making them and am using the glue-basting method which seems quick and easy. We'll see if I have trouble getting the papers out when the time comes! If any of you experts in hexie making have any suggestions, I welcome them!

Hexie happiness!
Oh, my--that was a long post! I hope some of you are still with me... Thank you, as always, for the wonderful comments and emails! I truly appreciate each and every one. And if you have any questions for me, please make sure to include your email address so I can respond to you. Enjoy your week, my stitching friends! Bye for now...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two new ornaments and more random thoughts

Hello, everyone! How has February been treating you? I can't believe it's been more than three weeks since my last post--I guess my goal of two posts per month isn't going to be met for February, is it? I spent a wonderful week in New York visiting my mom (who is doing very well--thanks to all of you who ask about her!) in early February. Since I returned home, I have been stitching a lot, but since several things are for gifts, I have only two new finishes to share with you today. 

My February Christmas ornament is Little House Needleworks' "Needlework Shop" stitched "over one" on black Monaco... So tiny and cute! Because it was done on such a tiny scale (and on black!), I had to change a few things. I changed the lettering just a bit to make it readable, omitted the window panes in the door and substituted a simple red valance, left off the backstitching around the quilt in the window. I also changed the color of the roof so it would show up on the black and satin stitched the cute little spool underneath the peak of the roofline.

Another Little House Needleworks shop on black

And this is how I finished it off... I just love the green flannel--I think it is perfect for a winter scene. The little details in this series are so sweet--the wreath in the window, the quilt on display, and that brilliant red cardinal atop the pine tree. I think the black shows them off even better, don't you?

Needlework Shop finish

If you think this finish looks familiar, it's because I finished "Tree Lot" in the Hometown Holidays Series in the same manner. In fact, I've decided to stitch and finish each chart in the series in a similar fashion with various flannel colors. There are 15 charts in this series and I only have two done--at this rate it will be a three or four year project! Think I can do it? Wish me luck...

The first two finishes in the Hometown Holidays series

My second finish was made for a former coworker's new baby girl for her first Christmas. As usual, I was just a bit late with my gift and she didn't receive it until late January, but it was so well-received. This is "Snowmen" by Country Cottage Needleworks with quite a bit of rearranging (you can see the original chart right here). I actually took the snowmen, lined them up and spelled out the baby's name. I then used the snowflakes that were on the chart and rearranged them and put the pine needle border along the bottom. 

Give me an "A," give me an "L," give me an "I"...

To make this ornament sized, I stitched it "over one" on a dusty pink evenweave that I found in my stash. I am thrilled with how it turned out and think the pink and white twisted cording adds a perfect touch. I hope sweet Alice enjoys hanging this quintet of smiling snowmen on her Christmas tree for years to come. This may give some of you a new idea for a baby gift... As someone on my Instagram post commented "Carol, you've just started something new!" I'm sure I'll be using this idea for future baby gifts or Christmas presents...

The finished gift for baby Alice

So, what else have I been up to this month? Well, lots of organization / re-purposing / purging  has been going on in our house. We are turning our middle son's bedroom into a proper guest room which meant purchasing a bigger bed and new mattress. While mattress shopping for the guest room, we decided it was long past time for us to replace our own mattress (which is, I'm embarrassed to say--at least 25 years old!). It is just so weird testing out mattresses in public, isn't it? But, we both agreed, very quickly, on two mattresses to purchase and they will be delivered in a couple of weeks.  So, that set off a chain reaction... we moved the daybed in our middle son's old room to the youngest son's room and gave that bed to Goodwill. And, that led to cleaning out under the beds, reorganizing drawers... well, you get it! But, it is such a good feeling to be getting rid of so many long-unused items. 

When I mentioned what was happening to one of my sons, he said, "It sounds like you are doing "Swedish Death Cleaning." WHAT?!?! I had never even heard of such a thing! It sounded a bit crazy, but then I read up on it and it is a real thing called "döstädning" which means "death cleaning"  in Swedish. In fact, there is even a book about it called "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning and How to Save Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter" by Margaretta Magnusson.  It sounds rather morbid, but it really makes sense when you think about it... It basically involves going through your possessions one by one and paring them down so that, when you pass away, your family isn't burdened with disposing of them. It is not cleaning or organizing--it is literally getting rid of what you no longer use or want... What do you think? I know my sons will appreciate our efforts some day (hopefully, many, many years from now!). We have just begun, and have a very long way to go, but it is such a freeing experience!

Found treasures! Anyway, while doing my purging, I came across four old cross stitch kits (pictured below) that I didn't even remember I had as they were stuck way back in a cupboard behind my fabrics. I was so excited as I still love each of them and really should get started on one. But, which one? What would you like to see me stitch? After all--they are kits with the fabric and floss so I have no excuse not to start one, do I? 
Which one should I stitch next?


*** Thank you for all of your caring comments about my sadness and feelings of uselessness now that I've retired. They honestly meant a lot to me...  I did a bit of reading on the subject and discovered that retirement is a process and involves steps similar to those in the grieving process. I am feeling better each week and I know I'll find my way as I journey deeper into this new chapter of mine.

*** I've been slowly dipping my toes into a new craft--one that involves pretty fabrics. Can you guess what it is? I hope to have some photos for you next time.

*** Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts for my son's safe return from abroad. His trip to Pakistan went well, other than a bout with food poisoning, and he is safe at home in Washington, DC (until mid-March when he is off on yet another extended work adventure!). 

*** I just finished listening to a very good audiobook called "Night Road" by Kristin Hannah. Has anyone read books by her that they recommend? I listened to her book "The Nightingale" which was excellent, too, so I think more of her books are in my future.

*** Did you see any new Nashville Needlework Market releases that called your name? My favorite four were three With Thy Needle and Thread designs: "Basketful of Summer Time," "Indigo Lane," and "Welcome Spring" (oh, that design is just the cutest!) and one La D Da piece called "Love Abide." I also love "Pear Tree Sampler" by Chessie and Me... time to start a new wish list!

My favorites from the Nashville Market releases

♥♥♥ I'll leave you with a belated Valentine's Day photo that I posted on Instagram (if you would like to follow me, please click here)... These are all older finishes from 2012, but I know I have a lot of new followers who may not have seen these before. I am generally not a pink girl, but I do love it at Valentine's Day! ♥♥♥

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

So, that ends my lone February post! I hope you all enjoy a lovely weekend. We are due for a lot of rain so it looks like a good weekend to do more "Swedish Death Cleaning" and some spring stitching... As always, thank you for visiting with me today--and a special thank you to those who take the time to comment. It really means a lot to me to know there are people giving up their free time to read my blog. And if you have any questions, just be sure to include your email address so I can reply to you. Bye for now...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January is over!

Yay! The end of my least favorite month has arrived... I always welcome short February because I know March follows and the days get longer and the temperatures begin to warm up. January has been one busy month which I'll fill you in on after I show you my latest stitching. But first, as always, thank you, thank you for your sweet comments on my last post. My middle son tells me that his cat, Spike, is getting quite the swelled head after reading all of your kind remarks about him. He really is such a fun cat... we were visiting with him on Sunday and he was all personality, that's for sure!

I finished my very first monthly ornament for 2018 and I love how it turned out.  I spotted the Country Cottage Needleworks chart called "Snow Sampler" and thought how lovely it would look stitched on black.  But, with a stitch count of 125 X 82, it really seemed way too big for one of my ornaments.  Hmmm... what to do, what to do? Well, I decided to eliminate the top and bottom borders of pine needles and stitch it "over one" on black 28 Monaco. That did the trick!

The white stitching really pops on the black!

The finished ornament with its blue bead edging measures just 4 inches by 3 1/4 inches--perfect! I used an overdyed blue thread for the house rather than the suggested brownish/gold color and also gave it a little chimney. Oh, let me tell you--this one took a while--those beaded edges are a lot of work because you have to run a border of straight stitches all the way around both the front (as you can see above with the line of blue stitches) and the back and then stitch on the beads. (If you'd like to try a beaded edge, this tutorial is very helpful). But, the end result is so lovely. I also added a small white bow with a bit of greenery and three blue beads to finish it off. 

"Snow Sampler" finish

I have two other ornaments to share today--these were both sent off as Christmas gifts in December. The first one went to my friend, Gabi, and yes, I have stitched it many times before. It is just such a classic and I never tire of it, though. You'll recognize it as a Prairie Schooler design from Book No. 23: "A Christmas Year II." This was stitched on a piece of 32 ct. mystery linen with the suggested DMC threads. The main change I made was to simply turn it on the diagonal for a very different look than is shown on the cover of the chart.

Gift for Gabi from PS "A Christmas Year II"

And to my friend, Robin, went my final Prairie Schooler ornament of 2017.  This one was stitched on 32 ct. flax Belfast with the suggested colors except for the color of Santa's robe... I used DMC 3764. I also substituted a branch of holly for the charted doll in Santa's left hand and eliminated the blue rectangular border so I could finish it in an oval shape. I'm sure this handsome blue Santa is very happy in his new home in Virginia!

Gift for Robin--a PS Santa in blue

I've stitched a few more things this month, but they aren't finished/finished so I will, hopefully, have those for you next time!

So, on to my January. Well, first of all, another birthday has come and gone. Sigh... they just keep coming faster and faster for some strange reason. This year's celebration was very quiet as it was just me and my husband. It felt very strange having none of my sons around for the first time ever. But, my husband spoiled me with cake and candy and a lovely assortment of charts which will keep me busy for years to come... A generous gift certificate to 123 Stitch arrived, also; I'm sure I'll have absolutely no problem spending it!

Birthday gifts from my husband

My oldest son and daughter-in-law also sent me a gift certificate to 123 Stitch and my youngest son sent these tasty cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake. We couldn't possibly eat all 12 ourselves (well, we could, but you know the end result of that!!) so we froze six of them and then took those to my middle son's apartment Sunday for a belated birthday celebration. He and his girlfriend made a very tasty chicken dinner with homemade bread, fruit salad, and a beautiful "beets and sweets gratin" for us. Really nice to have someone else cook! And it was fun to play with their cat while they prepared dinner, too.

Birthday cupcakes from my youngest son

I received two lovely gifts from blogging friends, as well. From June came the prettiest soft blue and rose scarf, a scented sachet for my drawers and a little gold box kit that I can add some cross stitching to the top. Thank you, my sweet friend--that was so very sweet of you!

Birthday gifts from June

And Cindy made me this cute little pouch for holding my scissors, seam ripper, etc. She also included a tiny needleminder shaped like a chocolate chip cookie--too cute! Thank you so very much, Cindy--you have been a lovely blogging friend for many, many years now...

Birthday gifts from Cindy

The other thing that kept me so busy was a trip to Florida for five days. This was not for pleasure, though. I think some of you will recall that my in-laws' home was quite damaged when Hurricane Irma decided to pay a visit to southwest Florida back in September. Much of the drywall had to replaced, cupboards and closets rebuilt, and the roof repaired. All of their upholstered furniture and both cars were lost along with some shoes, clothing, and other miscellaneous items. 

Anyway, my husband and I flew down to southwest Florida earlier this month in an attempt to make a newly renovated house feel like a home again. We rented a bright blue pick-up truck and raced from consignment shops to thrift stores to home stores picking up a kitchen table and chairs, mattress, bed, dresser, mirror, TV stand, rugs and other basics to provide his parents (who will both turn 90 this year) with the basics. I quite enjoyed the consignment shops as that part of Florida (Naples) has amazing ones! (I wished I could have spent more time looking for myself, but that wasn't what we were there for). In addition to the shopping, we cleaned lots of drywall dust, emptied bags and boxes, did loads of laundry, and connected phones and televisions. In other words, we worked from dawn until we fell, exhausted, into bed each night. We never even saw the beach or took a walk in the sunshine. But, my in-laws are now settled in Florida once again and I hope that, as time goes on, their new house will feel more like home to them... As you can imagine, this was quite an upheaval for two people their age.

Retirement update...  Well, I've been retired for four whole months... But, up until now, I have been so very busy that it really didn't affect me. Until last week, that is...  I knew it would hit me in January--that feeling of "now what?" I told my husband I seem to have a lost my purpose in life--for years I was a busy mother and librarian and now??? I really need to learn to manage my time better as I'm finding myself wasting way too much of it. I need to find a place where I can volunteer and feel like I'm adding something to society again--perhaps even back at the library. We'll see... Do any of you retirees have any tips for me on time-management? I am much better when I have a schedule and not a wide-open day ahead of me, that's for sure! Anyway, it is an adjustment--one I will get through, but there have definitely been some tears this month...


*** Are any of you fans of "This Is Us?" Oh, the last few minutes of the show that aired on January 23rd had me watching with tears streaming down my face as this song played. 

*** I'm reading an excellent book, The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer; an epic novel (at over 600 pages) of life in pre-World War II Paris and the horrors of the Holocaust. It centers around a family with three sons, so, of course I'm drawn to it!

*** My youngest son is over 7,000 miles away in a very unsafe part of the world this week for work and I can't stop worrying about him... 

*** I just ordered two more hardcover books of my blog posts from Blog2Print. With a 50% off coupon offer, I couldn't resist. I combine two years into each book to save money, so with the previous two books that I ordered back in 2015, I will now have every year (except 2017) in print. My blog is not only a journal of my stitching, but of my travels, recipes, and family events, too, so I will love having these books to read in my old age.

*** I've become addicted to making (and eating!) granola because of this great recipe

Bet you can't eat just one bite!

I hope February brings you lots of stitching time, my friends! I do enjoy cuddling up under my cozy, red blanket and stitching while watching a good movie this time of year, don't you?  Thank you for visiting today--and a special thanks for those of you who take the time to say "hello!" I always enjoy hearing what you have to say and appreciate each and every comment. As always, if you have a question--make sure to leave your email address so I can reply to you!  Bye for now...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Gifts given, goodies gobbled, and gorgeous Grumpy Cat

It's 2018--hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their new year! I have a few Christmas ornaments that I gave to friends and family to share with you today, but first, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your comments on your favorite moment of last year. They certainly made me smile and I could truly feel how much they meant to each of you who shared... Blogging can sometimes feel like a one-way street; I share some of my life and stitching with you, but, often, I don't get to see your pretty stitching or hear about your life unless you, too, have a blog. So, I really appreciate your remarks and experiences and if any of you who don't blog would like to email me photos of your finishes--I'd love to see them. I have a couple of people who do that already and I always enjoy seeing what they have created! So, thank you for sharing a bit of yourself--it meant a lot to me!

This pretty blue and white ornament went to dear June, in England. This is a Renato Parolin design called "Inverno" and I just love the simple elegance of it.  I stitched it on 40 ct. white Newcastle with a Victorian Motto Sampler thread called "Sky Blue." The cording is made out of the same lovely thread and the ornament is backed with the perfect shade of blue gray fabric adorned with tiny stars. A gauzy ribbon and silver bell finished it off nicely. I'm happy to say that June loves it, too! (And there are some very nice freebies on Renato's blog if you click here and then click on "Schemi Free" in the tabs).

"Inverno" in blues

This next ornament was stitched twice and sent to my dear friends, Lois, in Northern Ireland, and Cindy, in Tennessee. Most of you will recognize this as Little House Needleworks' "Season's Greetings." I stitched this 'over one' on 28 ct. black Monaco using a variety of DMC threads and overdyeds.  I was so happy with how this one turned out and I may just stitch it again on black for a little gift in the future. The small ecru x's take a while, but they add so much to the overall look, don't you think?

Little House Needleworks "Season's Greetings"

The last one I'll show you today was given to my middle son in honor of the new (very non-grumpy!) cat that he and his girlfriend adopted. You will all recognize this sourpuss of a kitty--he's the cantankerous Grumpy Cat! He is a freebie from Brooke's Books which you can find right here. I changed up the design a bit; I eliminated the red and white border and added additional snowflakes and beads to turn it into a design suitable for turning it into a round ornament. I stitched this on a 32 ct. blue/gray linen with the suggested colors. My son loved it--but not quite as much as he loves his real cat!

Mr. Grumpy Cat himself

So, yes--I (sadly) have no grandchildren, but I now have a "grandcat!" My son and his girlfriend adopted him a year ago from an animal shelter and he has made himself right at home in their apartment. He came with the name "Spike" (because he has a white, furry "spike" going right up the middle of his forehead) and at first, my son wasn't sure if he would keep such a dog-like name. But, it really suits him--he is so much more of a dog than a cat in many ways and he's quite a handful. One of his favorite tricks is unrolling the toilet paper and then rolling it back up (I guess he's hoping no one will notice!). Hmmm... I'm afraid you can't hide that mess, Spike!!

Who, me? I didn't touch the toilet paper :)

I forgot to share my Christmas baking with you in my last post. I didn't bake nearly as much as I would have liked to because there were only four of us here most of the time  (except for Christmas dinner when we had seven). And you know what happens when there are too many goodies around--yes, the weight piles on! So, I baked just a few cookies which you can see below...

Which one would you choose?

On Christmas morning, we traditionally make some lovely frosted cinnamon buns, but our bread machine broke last year and I just didn't have the time to make the dough. I was simply going to run out and buy a coffee cake or some sweet rolls when this recipe caught my attention. It was so quick and easy and practically baked itself...  Oh, yum! Just click here for these tasty "Land Of Nod Cinnamon Buns" (how cute is that for a recipe name?!). We all loved them--in fact some of us loved them more than our old recipe. I would probably add chopped pecans next time, but the combination of cinnamon, raisins, and melted butter was the perfect way to start off our Christmas morning.

The easiest cinnamon buns in the world!

And there you have it--my first post of 2018 all done and dusted! I have a couple more ornaments to share with you, but I've run out of time today. I'm off to the dreaded DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to renew my driver's license and you know what that means... Sitting for what seems like hours waiting to have another horrible photo taken that must remain on my driver's license until the year 2022! Oh, my--not one of my favorite experiences...

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead, everyone! Hope it includes lots of time to sit and stitch now that the hustle-bustle of the holidays is over. I do relish these calm winter months so much, don't you? Thank you, as always for your wonderful comments--I do read each and every one even if I am unable to respond to some of you who  haven't included an email address. (Please, please remember to include your email address in your comments if you do have a question for me, okay?). Bye for now...

Friday, December 29, 2017

A year filled with Thankfulness

Happy post-Christmas week, my friends! I hope you are all recovering from the excitement of Christmas and all of that tasty rich food (I'm sure we're all going to amp up our exercise routines next week, right?!). I also hope you got some nice stitchy presents from your loved ones (or yourself!). I was honored to receive some lovely gifts from both blogging and non-blogging stitching friends for Christmas which I'll share with  you today in the order I received them...

From dear June, in England, came this sweet angel ornament. But, wait--it's not only an ornament! It opens up and is a needlebook inside--so adorable. This is a free design from Told In A Garden which you can find right here. So darling and so beautifully stitched...

An angel from June

June also sent a pair of fingerless mittens (so soft and blue!), some sparkly floss, a calendar for the new year, and a flowered pouch that I can use for scissors and other stitching supplies. Thank you so very much, my friend--I love each and every gift!

Christmas gifts from June

From dear Cindy, in Tennessee, came another beautiful angel ornament (it was the year of angels and snowmen and cardinals!). This was another freebie from Told In A Garden which you can find right here. Cindy embellished the ornament with tiny gold beads and gold thread--it is exquisite!

An angel from Cindy

Cindy also sent an assortment of trims and charms to embellish my future finishes. Thank you so very much, my friend... Your gifts are so lovely!

Christmas gifts from Cindy

From dear Lois, in Northern Ireland, came this gorgeous, perfectly stitched Drawn Thread design which she chose to stitch for me because she knew that cardinals have a special place in my heart. Isn't it lovely with those silver bells and green cording? 

Christmas cardinal from Lois

Lois also sent some pretty fabric and ribbon, a cake of beeswax, and a lovely Spring-themed chart. Each present is so "me," Lois--thank you so very much!

Christmas gifts from Lois

From dear Robin, in Virginia, (no blog) came yet more cardinal themed gifts! She stitched this pretty red cardinal on perforated wood. He looks so striking on my tree with that bright blue background.

Cardinal for Christmas from Robin

Robin also gifted me with a set of cardinal notecards and some pretty fabric squares to use in my finishing. I love each and every gift! Thank you so very much, Robin!

Christmas gifts from Robin

From sweet April, in Virginia, (no blog) came a surprise package including this cheery, plump snowman ornament. In April's card, she thanked me for the continued inspiration that my blog gave her. That is just so sweet, April--I love hearing that from my readers! And look how beautifully this is finished with the double layers of cording and lace! I'll have to remember that technique...

Snowman from April

April also included more items for me to use in future finishes: some fun purple pompoms and some poblano pepper ric rac. Thank you so much for the lovely gifts, April--you sure surprised me (in a good way!!).

Christmas gifts from April

From dear Gabi, in Germany (no blog), came another of  those chubby white guys which is now residing on my snowman tree in my kitchen. She also sent this cute Christmas tree ornament--isn't it pretty? Thank you so very much, Gabi--your gifts will be treasured each Christmas for years to come.

Two cute ornaments from Gabi

And last, but not least, sweet Nathalie, in France, (no blog) sent me two lovely red and white kitchen towels, a tiny ceramic Santa, and a wonderful French stitching magazine. Thank you so very much, Nathalie--such lovely gifts!

Christmas gifts from Nathalie

I was just a "bit" spoiled, wasn't I? I have been blogging since 2009 and still can't believe how many wonderful stitching friends I have "met" through my blog. And it's not just those of you who send me things; it is those of you who keep reading--and commenting--even though blogs seem to be fading away. It's those of you who send me emails saying I've inspired you or complimenting me on a finish. What a special community we have here... I love the fact that we are all cheerleaders for each other, don't you? Thank you one and all for making my year so special--I truly appreciate you!

My "Best Nine": As many of you know, I joined Instagram in 2016 and have really enjoyed it--it is quick and easy and I don't find that it is time-consuming at all. I'm so enjoying seeing photos of stitchers' work from places like Japan, Russia, and eastern Europe--places that I don't see in stitching blogs very often. Anyway, each year you can use a little program to generate your "Best Nine"--those photos that received the most "likes." Here is a collage of my best nine. My top photo, the annual ornament parade, received over 660 "likes!" Amazing... If you would like to follow me, too, you can find my account right here. 

My "Best Nine" according to Instagram

At this time of year, I always like to think back and pick one favorite moment. And, this year was tough for me to choose just one--I had so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences: seeing my dear, dear mother celebrate her 90th birthday with her family surrounding her, celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Hawaii, witnessing our oldest son and his beautiful fiancée joined in marriage, gaining more time for "me" since I retired from the library in late September. What a year of changes! So, what rose to the top for me? It was sitting at the table at the wedding reception watching as my two younger sons toasted their older brother and new sister so charmingly--a wonderful, heartfelt speech filled with the perfect combination of humor and admiration. What a proud mom moment. Those three boys have grown into such independent, loving, thoughtful young men--I guess my husband and I did something right along the way.  So, now it's your turn--what was your favorite moment of 2017? I'd love to hear it!

The end of the year is drawing near... What are your thoughts as we round the corner into 2018?  I know that many of my blogging friends have faced new and continuing health challenges this year. You've met these trials with a courage that awes and inspires me. I truly hope that this coming year will heal you and ease your pain. Please know that each of you has a special place in my heart--I'm not going to name names, but know that I think of you often... So, that's it for Stitching Dreams in 2017--on to a new year... Let's make it a good one! Bye for now...

Happy New Year! Welcome 2018!