Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, stitching friends!

My husband and I have a New Year's Eve dinner date with his sister and her new boyfriend (woot! woot!) in a little over an hour, so let's see if I can get this post done before I have to go change clothes and get ready.

Ready... set....GO!

"Snow in Love"
by Little House Needleworks
Stitched on 28-count coffee/tea-dyed linen with called for threads

Yes, yes, Christmas is over, but I'm still finishing ornaments! I stitched "Snow in Love" by Little House Needleworks while my husband and I were on vacation in Oregon earlier this month. I finished it today as a wedding gift for his former high-school band teacher. What do you get someone you haven't seen in more than 25 years, who already has everything she needs household-wise? Something handmade and personal, of course! She is a crafty girl herself, so I know she will love this. A cute "Made with Love" charm (a gift from RJ and Mary) tops it off.

The back is a Christmas print fabric from Moda fabrics.

By the way, I recently treated myself to a tracing table. It's a flat LED tablet that plugs in via USB. I don't like the dot pattern on it, so I lay a piece of plain white paper over top to diffuse that. It's awesome for centering stitched pieces on foam core, sticky board, or whatever you need to center them on when finishing. Sure beats trying to hold it up to a window and keep it centered! And it was not expensive - less than $15 on Amazon.

"Winston the Snowman"
by The Trilogy
Stitched on coffee/tea-dyed mystery linen from my stash with called-for threads

Next up is "Winston the Snowman" by The Trilogy. I didn't have the triangle buttons called for in the pattern, so I substituted some Algerian eyelets instead. He is a dapper snowman, indeed! I mounted the ornament on foam core, added a fabric-covered piece of chipboard to the back, and glued lacy trim around the outside. I topped it with a gold hanger and a rusty star.

The fabric on the back goes nicely with the rusty star, don't you think?

I hope your holiday celebrations were awesome! One of my favorite presents under the tree was this "pocket locket" from my wonderful stitching friend, RJ, from Stitching Friends Forever. Look at those tiny stitches! Thank you, RJ!

We enjoyed having my mom stay with us over Christmas. My husband and I played lots of three-handed pinochle with her, and my son joined us for cards when we agreed to play Texas Hold 'Em. We ate lots of good food and watched movies.

I wish you all lots of time to stitch, safe travels, good health and good memories-in-the making in 2019. See you next year....

Woohoo! It looks like I'm going to be on time for dinner after all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Birthdays, Beaches and a Box... Oh, My!

Hi, stitching friends!

I hope this finds all of you snuggled in and all done (or mostly done!) with your December preparations. This time of year can be hectic for any of us, but this week is a particularly busy one at our house. My niece turned 27 on Monday, one of my best friends, Amber, turned one year older than me today (haha - she's only one month older than me, really), my son, Thomas, turns 16 tomorrow, and my mom will celebrate her 80th birthday on Thursday. What is it with all of these December birthdays?

This is my son, Thomas, almost 16 years ago. I think he could have given the Gerber baby a run for his money with those blue eyes.

We still tire each other out, 16 years later.

Here is my mom, on the right, with her little sister, Pat. I just love her little dress and shoes and that smile. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Shawn and I spent the first week of December in Depoe Bay, Oregon. We had a wonderful time doing a whole lot of nothing together (the BEST vacation). We stayed in a lovely condo right on the water and passed the week recharging our batteries. We watched the waves in front of the fire and watched Hallmark Christmas movies. We shopped and ate at Nana's Irish Pub and a Chinese restaurant we had driven past for years. We walked beaches and explored.

Back at the condo in Depoe Bay, we saw a whale on our second day! Every day we were there, the waves crashed onto the rocks right outside our door (the spray in the photo above is about 50 feet in the air). Sometimes the waves were so violent that they would send a gust of air toward the condo that would rattle the windows. We would both *gasp* and look at each other wide-eyed.

We drove down to the docks in Newport, and Shawn pointed out this sign. It was on both bathroom doors. I love it.

Down on the docks, the sea lions gathered to rest and soak up the sun. These are just a few of them. There were around 40 to 50 altogether, and they barked non-stop! I just love their sweet faces. They look like dogs to me.

On our way back to Portland we stopped in Corvallis, where I got to spend as much time as I wanted at Starlight Stitchery. A real treat for me since Boise does not have an LNS. It's a great shop because the new owners are very sweet and they carry a lot of out-of-print patterns. It was fun to dig through and find things I had never seen online before. I could spend hours more there and still not see everything. If there's something rare you're looking for, give them a call. They just might have it. (Their name above links to their website.)

❦ ❦ ❦

Yesterday was a Happy Mail day. This arrived from my amazing blogging friends, RJ and Mary over at Stitching Friends Forever. (Click on the blog name and it will take you to their blog.)

Eeeeeee! (That's me barely containing my excitement.)

I won their big giveaway a little while ago, and you can imagine my delight and surprise when I got to unpack this wonderful, generous gift. Inside....

Look at this beautiful tool caddy/pincushion stitched and finished by RJ! Click on the picture to open up a full-size version. I wish I could show you this in person. The stitching is so perfect and so tiny. The finishing is absolutely beautiful, and I love it. This will be by my side from now on as I stitch. Aren't the wings on the bee amazing and lifelike? And the goodies inside... You have no idea how thrilled I am.

A gorgeous assortment of finishing fabrics....

Buttons and charms...

Three beautiful patterns (not showing the third because it would be showing the actual pattern itself).

A very cute journal and card set...

RJ and Mary, thank you again for your thoughtfulness and generosity!

I have been stitching a lot lately but I don't have any FFO projects to show you, so I'll leave you with one of my favorite Christmas finishes. It's from way back in 2011. I have the chart somewhere, but I don't recall off the top of my head what it is, so if you'd really like to know, leave it in your comment and I'll find it and tell you.

I love the warmth in Santa's eyes.

Have a lovely week, friends! See you soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hibernation Day

Happy Thanksgiving, stitching friends!

The holidays this year are sneaking up on me. I'm still stitching a Halloween project! And tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Holy Hannah. Part of it is that Thanksgiving is early this year, but the other part, for me, is that my mom is in Cuba right now, and will be flying back to Idaho the day after Thanksgiving.

This is the first year in a long time I have not spent the holiday with her, and it just feels weird. She will be spending Thanksgiving day in Miami with her travel buddy, Carol. I hope they have a great day! I will definitely miss her but am looking forward to her photos and stories when I see her Friday.

While my mind is still on Halloween stitching (I'm working on "When Skeletons Dance" by The Drawn Thread), I did finish a winter-themed project today. It's for my dear husband, Shawn, and it's probably my most favorite project.... ever.
This is Shawn, in 2000, after an especially dirty day on the ranch. It was a hot, dry day and they were working cattle at the "dippin' vat," a set of community corrals owned by their cattle association. (I have no idea why they call it the dippin' vat.) He was sweating and the cattle were stirring up dust, and I just could not resist the opportunity to snap a photo of my beautiful cowboy. Oh, those blue eyes....

So, why the random photo of him covered in dirt? Because it reminds me of how hard he works, and it really does relate to my cross-stitch project.
Shawn's family owns a 1,000-acre cattle ranch in central Idaho, and the ranch has been in their family for four generations. The above photo is Shawn and his dad, Terrence. Terrence passed away eight years ago on November 19, so this time of year is especially hard on Shawn, his mom and his sisters. Terrence was a great guy, with a big, booming voice, an irreverent sense of humor, and a big heart.

We lived in a house on the ranch then, and Shawn and his dad worked every day of the week, often putting in 12-hour or longer days. Shawn and I would get away maybe four weekends a year, and we would travel to Boise to stay with college friends and get in some movies, shopping and dining out - all those things we didn't have access to in a town of 500 people.
Here we are back in the day, on one of our trips to Boise. (We look different now - Shawn is a lot more grey and I'm not so skinny anymore!) I loved our trips to Boise because I got my cowboy all to myself for a whole weekend.
When we lived on the ranch, I looked forward to rainy weekends in June the most. If it was raining in June, that usually meant lightning, and that meant it wasn't safe for Shawn to be outside moving pipe. So, he would come inside and we would spend the whole day together watching movies, snuggled up together in a big overstuffed chair, listening to the rain hit the windows.

And that brings me to my most recent finish, "Hibernation Day" by Heartstring Samplery. Thanks to Beth of Heartstring Samplery for personally responding to my email (WOW!) asking for help with the alphabet to personalize the sampler. She is awesome!

Hibernation Day
by Heartstring Samplery
Stitched on 32-count natural linen by MCG Textiles
with called-for overdyed threads

I love the snap of winter air
and snowflakes on my face
How snowdrifts make the world
disappear without a trace

I'll take a day dressed in pajamas
in a room without a view
If I can spend the day
curled up next to you

Let's have a hibernation day,
me and you

Sorry about the huuuuuge photo, but it was a really long finish! I found this vintage-looking shutter at Michael's and did a happy dance when I pulled out my measuring tape to find that it was the perfect size for this sampler. (Don't you just love it when you find the perfect thing to finish a project?) I finished it Priscilla & Chelsea-style, lacing the stitching on 3/16" foam core, then mounting that on homespun-covered chipboard. I used magnets and washers to attach it to the shutter, then also used a magnet/washer combo to attach the bow and greenery to the bottom so I can reuse the shutter for another project if I want to and change out the embellishment.
I really like the variegation in the overdyed threads Beth chose for the project.
This sampler just nails the way I feel about my days with Shawn. Now that we are living in Boise and he is a teacher, I still look forward to our "hibernation days." Spending the day with him, no matter what we're doing - watching TV or movies, running errands, grocery shopping - is hands down my favorite thing in the world. He still works two or more weekends a month at the ranch - a 500-mile round-trip drive - so those hibernation days are still precious and few.

So this Thanksgiving I think I am most thankful for time. Time with my family, time to stitch and enjoy good days, and the time you take to visit me here. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and wishing you lots of hibernation days with those you love.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Last-Minute Halloween Finishes...and a Freebie!

Hi, stitching friends!

"Finishing" is a four-letter word to me. I just don't enjoy the process. I stress out about making mistakes, ruining my stitching, not being perfect. I know some of you feel the same way (I read your comments!).

But a couple of things have happened lately that have changed my perspective.

1. Work has been CRAZY busy. So I have hardly had time to stitch, let alone finish things. And I am stubborn. If you tell me I can't do something, I want to do it.

2. During a "Real Housewives of Cross Stitch" (Priscilla and Chelsea) video lately, Priscilla made an off-hand comment that went something like this: "What? Are the cross-stitch police going to come and get me?" I still laugh every time I think about that. Who are we trying to please?

3. Seth Godin's blog from years ago when he said the key to trying new things (and succeeding) is living by the mantra: THIS MIGHT WORK. It might not work. But hey, how will you know if you don't try?

4. If I mess up and have to stitch something over again, so what? I had fun stitching it the first time. Why would the second be any different?

So, with that being said, I have three (THREE!) finishes to show you. I have been a busy girl the last couple of days.

Halloween House Trio
by Waxing Moon Designs
Stitched on 28-count coffee/tea-dyed linen with called-for over-dyed threads
(except for DMC 310 when I ran out of Wrought Iron!) 

I mounted each of the stitches on sticky board, then glued them to black felt. I cut out around each one with pinking shears.

My mom had purchased this extra-long frame at a thrift store for another project. It didn't work out for that, so I kept it and painted it with black chalk paint. I attached some fall flowers and a burlap/plaid bow at the top, then added some ribbons across the inside of the frame to resemble clothes lines. I used miniature clothes pins to attach each stitch to the lines.
The "Tricks" house.... I love the little ghost and the swirly smoke.
The "Halloween" house. I love, love, love "Fragrant Cloves" for the word Halloween. It's in my top-five favorite overdyed thread colors.
The "Treats" house. That ghost! So cute.

The next finish I have to show you is "Midnight" by Barbara Ana Designs.

Midnight by Barbara Ana Designs
Stitched on 28-count antique white Monaco
with DMC threads
I love the colors in this. Never in a million years would I have chosen teal for a Halloween piece. And I love the green skin of the witches, don't you? The only color I changed in this was in the main basket at the top. I used a lighter gray for the decorative pattern in the bowl. It originally called for a much darker gray that I didn't think provided enough contrast.
I mounted the stitching on foam core using the traditional lacing method. I cut circles from various colors of wool felt I purchased from Sweet Emma Jean on Etsy and blanket stitched the edges. Then I glued them around a plaque I picked up at Hobby Lobby, covering up the sentiment that was painted on the plaque. I liked the leafy things on the ends (there is a word for them, but I can't think of it... laurels, maybe?) so I let them show. Then I glued the mounted stitched piece over the top. Voila!
Love those witches!

Freebie time!

Don't you just love freebies? I do. And I'm so enamored by the freebies over at La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix. Her work is so lovely. The colors. The feminine touches. The leaves and flowers. Pretty.

Pumpkin House by La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix
Stitched on 32-count Winter Brew by R&R Reproductions
with WDW and TGA overdyed threads
I stitched "Pumpkin House" a week or two ago, and today I finished it into my very first flat-fold! Thank you, Vonna, for your awesome tutorial. It was a lot of fun to finish - I'm not kidding. I did just say "fun" and "finish" in the same sentence. (I did spew a few swear words while trying to make my cording - I always do.)
You can find the pattern for "Pumpkin House" right here. She does not list the colors she used, and I wish I knew which color she used for the words because it is GORGEOUS. So I made due with the colors I had: DMC 310, Weeks Dye Works (WDW) Sage, WDW Carrot, The Gentle Art (TGA) Shaker White, TGA Mulberry, TGA Fragrant Cloves, and TGA Banker's Grey. I think it turned out sweet!
Here is my new flat-fold nestled in with my other fall finishes and Halloween decor.

Happy Halloween, friends! I hope you have tons of fun. Until next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Black Cat Hollow, Autumn Leaves and a Freebie

Hi, stitching friends!

I hope this finds you all enjoying the last warm days of autumn, with plenty of time to stitch. Our weather is typical for Idaho this time of year - frost in the mornings, then mid- to late-60s in the afternoon, with blankets ready for curling up in the evenings. I can't decide how to dress each morning. A hoodie is great for staving off the cold in the morning, but by midday I'm sweating and asking, "What was I thinking?" So lately, since I have the luxury of being able to do so, I've been staying in pajamas until late morning (or early afternoon, if I'm working!). Problem solved.

I have not been able to do as much stitching as I would like lately. I have put in some long (up to 12-hour) days typesetting. I have never been so thankful to have cross-stitch as a hobby. It's such a great way to relax and unwind.

"Black Cat Hollow"
by Barbara Ana Designs
Stitched on 32-count Dark Cobblestone Lugana
Called-for DMC threads
I'm excited to show you "Black Cat Hollow," a 3-part sampler by Barbara Ana Designs. I purchased the PDF downloads from Creative Poppy as they were released. I mounted the stitched piece on sticky board, then mounted some black-and-white homespun on cardboard and attached the layers with magnets onto a metal sign I picked up at Hobby Lobby. (The metal sign was originally white with metal words attached that said "Good Things Take Time," but the word "Things" was mounted upside down! I bought this "defective" sign on purpose because I knew I would be taking the words off and painting the sign with black chalk paint.) I made a bow - Priscilla and Chelsea style - with some black plaid ribbon and some fall foliage picks. I'm thrilled with how it turned out.
Taking a cue from Priscilla, I hot-glued the bow and foliage to the stitched piece, rather than the black sign, so I can reuse the black metal base to display another seasonal project.
Don't you just love those mischievous little witches? They are definitely up to something wicked.

I have so many Halloween-themed projects finished, but not fully finished, and I'm anxious to show them to you. My craft room/office is a DISASTER. When I first started staying home, I tackled each room of my house, purging and organizing. But since then, the chaos has crept back in and it's obvious I need another go at this room. At the time I first organized the room, I was still doing a lot of card-making. I have a LOT of paper, rubber stamps and embellishments taking up space. While I'm not ready to give them up, I would like to put them in storage so I can have a better space for finishing cross-stitch projects. I'm looking forward to the workload slowing down in the coming weeks so I can get this done.

Autumn Leaves

"Autumn Leaves"
by The Prairie Schooler
Stitched on 28-count white Irish linen with called-for DMC threads
and limited-edition "Ginger Cake" thread by The Gentle Art
The next project I have to show is "Autumn Leaves" by The Prairie Schooler. I actually stitched and finished this last autumn, before I started my blog. I used the called-for DMC threads, but I substituted "Ginger Cake" by The Gentle Art for some of the words ("said the," "to the," etc.). I received the skein as a thank-you freebie from an Jen at Jen's Stitching Niche on Etsy and I was anxious to use it. Unfortunately, it's a limited edition color, so I'm not sure about its availability.
I followed the cube tutorial from LHN (for their Hometown Holiday series) to finish it. The best part? NO sewing required! None! I had purchased this gorgeous autumn leaves fabric from a quilting store in Whidbey Island, WA, more than 20 years ago (!) and have had it in my stash all this time, waiting for the perfect project.
I used flat, wide beads attached with pins as "legs" for the cube, and I just love it. Every time I see it on the cabinet in my entryway, it makes me happy.

A Fall Freebie

A big thank you to Beth at Garden Grumbles and Cross-Stitch Fumbles for bringing the newest Lizzie Kate freebie, "Moon Over Blackbird," to my attention! Look how cute!
I couldn't wait to get started on this, but I did not have all the suggested overdyed threads. I substituted for some of the colors (my substitutions: WDW Grasshopper, Seagull, Deep Sea, Whitewash and Chrysanthemum, and CC Pumpkin Harvest). Here's my finished (but not fully finished yet) stitch:

"Moon Over Blackbird"
Freebie by Lizzie*Kate
Stitched on 32-count coffee/tea-dyed linen
with suggested/substituted overdyed threads
I wanted the pumpkin to have a vertical-striped look, like a real pumpkin, so I outlined it then filled in the stitches going up and down rather than side to side. It was a fun, quick stitch. Thanks, Beth, and thank you, Lizzie Kate!

Adventures in Driving

My son, who is going to turn 16 in December, is taking driver's ed. He's doing well, and he is loving the driving experiences. The school where we have him enrolled has very fancy cars for the students to learn in. His first driving experience was in a 2018 Ford Mustang convertible, and he drove in rush-hour traffic around the mall. He did so well, his driving instructor asked him if we had been letting him drive in the city already! (We haven't.) His dad lets him drive pickups in the corrals at the ranch, and on some of the tiny back roads around the ranch, but this was his first city-driving experience. 

The second time he drove, it was in a $75,000 pickup. It will be quite a shock to his system when he has to drive his mom and dad's cars. We drive old Hondas (Hondas last forever if you take care of them), and mine is the "newest." It's a 2006 CR-V with 108,000 miles on it! My husband's car is a 1996 Honda Civic with more than 300,000 miles on it, and our other "good" car is a 2004 Honda Accord with more than 200,000 miles on it! When it comes to cars, we are firm believers in "use it up, wear it out." I get my "new car" fix when we vacation in Oregon and I get to drive a new rental car for a week.

My son says his first car is going to be a Ford Mustang GT350. I asked him how much it costs, and he said, "Only about $50,000." Dreams.....

Well, I'd better get back to work. It was fun sharing with you, friends, and I look forward to hearing from you. When you take the time to comment, it's like getting "happy mail" in my inbox. So thank you! Have a great week, and I will be back next week with more to share, and hopefully some finishes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Santa Ornaments Giveaway Winner!

Hi, stitching friends!

A quick hello this time - my typesetting gig has gotten super busy this week, so I can only spare a few minutes to post the winner of my Santa ornaments giveaway.

And the winner is...

Arlene Grimm!

Congrats, Arlene! Please send your mailing address to me and I will get that out to you as soon as possible. (Click on my name by the "About Me" section at the top right of this page and it will take you to a page with a "Contact Me" link.)

I will be back in a few days with some fun fall and Halloween finishes. Until then, be well and I hope you find lots of time to stitch.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A New Finish and a Giveaway!

Hi, stitching friends!

"Two Red Houses" by Little House Needleworks
16-count rustico/natural Aida
Called-for DMC threads with two exceptions
(substituted DMC 640 for ecru in fence and white for ecru in checkerboard)
It has been a wonderful week in my world. No appointments, which means my days were my own. I've had a few busy nights with typesetting for my at-home gig, but nothing overwhelming, and the extra money is nice. It helps balance the budget for the shopping I've been doing lately! I have a mountain of projects to finish so I've been on the hunt for things to embellish, ribbons, fabric, and so on. This weekend, I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time in my life (can you believe it?), and oh, baby, I am in love. So many pretty things...
I love my latest finish, "Two Red Houses" by Little House Needleworks. I stitched it on 16-count rustico/natural aida with DMC threads. I substituted white for ecru, and I used DMC 640 to stitch the fence because the called-for thread (ecru), and even white, didn't show up at all on this fabric. I stitched the farthest-left segment of the fence three or four times trying to decide which color to use! I like my final choice.
I mounted it on sticky board and glued some lacy trim on the back. My husband found a nice old board for me at the ranch, and I cut it down to size and added a natural bow to give it a little extra pop (and to cover the cut I made on the left side of the board, which was less than perfect!). I adore how it turned out, and it's a great addition to our guest room.

My first giveaway!

I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to my faithful readers. I don't have many followers, but that doesn't matter to me. Each time you take a moment to leave a comment, it means the world to me. When I started this blog, I wanted to meet people who share my love of cross stitch and to have an outlet for sharing my work. Because of this blog, I have met some of the most wonderful people I could hope to know. So whether my following is 35 or 350, I appreciate you and am so glad to know you.
What is your favorite thing you found at a thrift store or yard sale?

In previous posts, I've mentioned the great secondhand store in my hometown, the HUB. On a visit there this summer, I found this sweet ornament kit - "Traditional Santa Ornaments" by Janlynn, and I'd like to offer it as a giveaway. The kit includes heavy-duty perforated paper for the Santas, but you could stitch them on any fabric and finish them as pillows, or use fabric stiffener on aida or evenweave if you don't like working on perforated paper. Look at their beards! So cute! The kit includes everything you would need to complete the ornaments, including jingle bells and star sequins.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, please be a sidebar follower and leave a comment letting me know you would like to enter. I will draw and announce a winner Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

Happy stitching! Have a wonderful week.