Well, well, well, here we are at the very end of July! Can you believe it? It has been a very up and down month here in western Pennsylvania. The first half was filled with hot, almost unbearably humid days and lately, it has been cooler and rainier--almost autumn-like weather. Which do you prefer? I honestly don't mind the heat--it's the humidity that does me in and it seems to get worse the older I get.
Before I show you a couple of new finishes, I want to offer my thanks and appreciation for all of your comments and emails on my last post about my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. I was so touched and my dear mother, who read each and every one of your caring comments, was as well. Dementia has touched so many families and it helps to know we are not alone in the struggle. I honestly think it is harder on the family than on the patient. My dad is in no pain and is, physically, very healthy. But, for us, his family members, it causes us great heartbreak and sorrow to watch his mental decline. Anyway, I thank each one of you for taking the time to read that long post and for offering hugs, support, and your own stories of family members struggling with dementia...
I've finally caught up on my ornament-a-month finishes for the year and I have two to share with you today. For the month of June, I stitched Homespun Elegance's 2009 Sampler Ornament called "Santa Arrives Tonight." I fell in love with the little sheep climbing that steep hill in an effort to reach shelter before Santa arrives. And I even managed to suffer through making the French knot wreath on the front door (will I ever feel comfortable stitching French knots?!?). This one is stitched on 35 ct. natural Northern Cross linen with both DMC and overdyeds.
"Santa Arrives Tonight" by Homespun Elegance
I really wasn't sure how I would finish it, but ended up going with a flat, mounted ornament. (Vonna gives wonderful instructions on this type of finishing right here). It turned out a bit large for my tastes (the finish is 4 ½ inches wide by 5 ½ inches high), but I'm pleased with the final look. I know some of you struggle with sewing little pillow ornaments, but for me it's this type of finish which causes anxiety. I have the worst time getting the design centered!! Does anyone have any hints? I'll have to say it turned out better than most of my previous attempts, though, so I'm happy! I used an old flannel shirt for the backing and trimmed it with a gold cord in the same shade as the house. What do you think?
"Santa Arrives Tonight" finish
My July ornament is from an old Stoney Creek magazine (July/August 1994) and is called "Bird & Berries." This piece is stitched entirely in DMC on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle linen. A red berry bead was added in the four corners of the holly and also in the bird's beak.
"Bird & Berries"
For the finish, I backed the ornament with a soft black and white checked flannel (again, from one of my husband's old shirts) and ruched some red satin ribbon to apply on the sides. Chickadees are one of my favorite winter birds--I'm always in awe at the way these tiny things survive our sometimes harsh northern winters. So, this will make a perfect addition to our Christmas tree in December.
Finished "Bird & Berries"
The final bit of stitching that I can share with you (I've also been working on a couple of gifts which I can't show you today) is a piece I started back in June. My intention was to have it finished by the 4th of July. HA! Obviously, that didn't happen--maybe by July 4, 2014? Many of you have already stitched "Betsy" by Sheepish Designs so you'll recognize my wee start on this one. I'm really enjoying stitching it, but I just can't seem to stick with one larger piece without getting my "smalls fix." I love the instant gratification I get from finishing a little pillow or ornament, don't you?
A small start on "Betsy" by Sheepish Designs
Gifts arrived in my mailbox from "Jolly Old England" this month... I won a chart (CCN's "Party Cakes") from Mii's blog and when it arrived I found that the generous Mii had also included a packet of English tea and a bit of chocolate. Some confusion ensued as I thought the chocolate was liquid chocolate that you drank! When I wrote to Mii to thank her, I mentioned that we didn't have that here in the States. She replied that it must have melted as it was meant to be a thin bar of chocolate. Ha ha! Yes, as soon as I popped it into the fridge it hardened up into a delectable treat! Thank you so very much, Mii--I love the chart and, as you mentioned, those stitched cakes represent the best kind of baking--non-caloric!
Giveaway win from Mii!
Another treat arrived from my friend, Julie, also in England. Julie was raving about her recently acquired Turkish Delight candy on her blog and I happened to mention in my comment that I had never tasted it. I don't believe it is widely available here in the U.S. Anyway, sweet Julie decided it was an experience I shouldn't miss so she popped a bar into the mail and it arrived in fine shape. The piece she sent me was chocolate covered and was most delicious! I was surprised that it has a gel-like consistency inside--I was expecting a mixture of nuts and cookie. Thank you, my friend--you were so sweet to treat me to one of your favorite goodies!
A bar of Turkish Delight all the way from England!
I actually told Julie I was going to save the treat to eat while watching one of my favorite British shows--either "Downton Abbey" (I've been saving the last episode of Season Three to watch for a special treat--or a big cry as I've heard mention!) or "Call the Midwife." Well, the Season Two DVD of "Call the Midwife" arrived at the library for me, so I promptly sat down to watch that and enjoy my very own bar of Turkish Delight. The Christmas special was so wonderful. I am thoroughly in love with this show--it makes me laugh and makes me cry with each and every episode. Some of the birthing scenes are a bit tough to watch, but the delightful characters, touching stories, and grim realities of life during the 1950s in the east-end of London are not to be missed.
In between stitching and reading and watching those wonderful British television programs, I've been doing a bit of organizing. I got so tired of searching through piles of charts for a certain one, that I spent all day Friday organizing them into notebooks. They are now placed in plastic sleeves alphabetically. Of course I have a giant notebook--the blue one in the photo below--just for my Prairie Schooler Collection! I may need two very soon as that is bursting at the seams. It was such a good feeling to get everything all tidied up...on to my freebies next! Here they are in resting comfortably in a cupboard right next to my stitching chair in the family room...
I don't have a ton of sewing threads, but, again, I got tired of hunting for the perfect color so I arranged them by shade in a drawer right next to my sewing machine. Pretty, eh?
Finally, my overdyed threads have been placed on a white pegboard attached to the inside of a closet door in my middle son's old bedroom (where I keep my sewing machine). The poor guy--every time he comes to visit, more and more of his room has been taken over by my stitching and sewing "stuff!" Here, I keep the WDW and GAST threads... Still have to make room for the Crescent Colours and other miscellaneous overdyeds. I would imagine more pegboard is in order for the other door!
I also need to tackle my ribbon and fabric collections, but I feel that I'm off to a great start. I suppose you would guess that since I am a librarian, I crave order--and you would be correct! When my house is cluttered or things are out of place, I just can't relax. For me, cleaning and organizing are very restful activities. Is anyone else like me, or am I just weird?!
Speaking of cleaning, the time had come for us to get a new washer and dryer. Although they were only 13 years old, you can just imagine the beating they took with doing laundry for three growing boys all those years. The dryer was stopping on it's own after only five minutes of drying and also leaving brown marks on the clothing. And the washing machine was rusting inside and making a burning smell. Definitely, past time for a new pair! So, look what arrived at our house last week...A spanking new washer and dryer--aren't they pretty? It's so funny to be excited by a pair of laundry appliances, but they really are a treat! There is just one "tiny" problem, however. The new washer lid won't fully open due to the cupboards above! I have to hold it open myself while loading or unloading the machine. You'll notice the new lid extends way out to the edge of the washer making it a good four or five inches wider than the old one! So, my husband and sons are trying to work out a system to hold the dryer up for me--either a pole of some sorts or a system of magnets... I guess nothing is easy, is it? But, I'm still thrilled with my new set-up!
I'll leave you with this pretty vase of flowers picked from our garden. Cosmos are some of my favorite summer flowers with their shades of pink, mauve, and white... My husband nicely shares his fenced in vegetable garden with me for growing my flowers, otherwise, our deer population would be mowing them down as soon as they appear! I'm so envious of those of you who have beautiful open gardens full of flowers--that just would never happen here with our hungry deer!
I wish each of you a happy last day of July and a wonderful month of August. I want to welcome my newest followers, too--so glad you're here! Thank you, as always, for stopping by today--I am so touched that you give up your valuable time to read and comment on my posts... Bye for now...