Thursday, July 2, 2015

Heartfelt thanks and patriotic finishes

Happy July, my stitching friends!  Can you believe 2015 is half over? Before I show you my stitching finishes, I just want to send each of you a huge "Thank You" for your many comforting emails and thoughtful comments on my last post. They meant so much to me--and to my husband. When he first broke his neck on May 21st, he didn't want me to post about it on my blog. But, I explained to him that I need support from my friends as we go through this recovery period, just as much as he needs support. And I couldn't ask for better friends than all of you who read my blog, could I? Even though I've never met 98% of you, I feel so very close to you--we've been through a lot together since I began my blog in early 2009. We've celebrated each other's success--not only in our stitching, but in our lives. And we've been saddened by losses of each other's family members and worrying health challenges. But, through all the ups and downs of life, your kind and thoughtful words have continued to mean so much to me. Thank you, my friends...

Since this is still mainly a cross stitching blog, I want to begin with two new finishes just in time for the 4th of July. Many of you know how much I love Chessie and Me designs because of the fun specialty stitches the designer includes in each chart. The grass is satin stitched, the border is done with Smyrna stitches, and the doors are done in Rhodes stitches. There is even some "over one" stitching in the ship and the date! This came in the form of a kit which was so very handy--I loved being able to just sit down and get started right away and not wait for the correct fibers or fabric to arrive if I had had to order them online.

This finish is called "1776 Harbor" and is stitched all in Gloriana silks--just wonderful and soft to work with! Don't you love the giant American flag waving across the harbor--so whimsical... I finished this piece quite simply as a little pillow with some star-strewn burgundy fabric, handmade gold cording, and an attached star button. It will be a perfect addition to my bowl of patriotic pillows, don't you think?

Chessie and Me "1776 Harbor" finish

Along with Prairie Schooler pieces, I consider Little House Needleworks designs to be my favorite form of "comfort stitching." Easy to read charts, no backstitching, not too many colors--just what I need as I go through the worries with my husband's health this summer... I bought this LHN "Old Glory" design last summer, but am just getting around to stitching it now. It is done on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with a variety of overdyed threads. I didn't have each one that was suggested, so I substituted a few and am very pleased with the result.

For this little pillow, I used a blue star-filled fabric along with some burgundy fabric, white ric rak, a red and white striped ribbon, and a stack of buttons. It is backed with the solid blue fabric shown behind it. This photo isn't the best due to our complete lack of sunshine lately, but it really looks quite cute!

LHN "Old Glory" finish

Since I try to stitch at least two new patriotic pieces each year, I now have quite a collection--in fact it has outgrown my original bowl. Here it is when I took the photo last year--see, already "bursting at the seams" so to speak!

So, I've had to spread out my little creations and luckily, my new kitchen corner cupboard is the perfect place to display some of them.  Here it is all ready for the 4th of July in all of its red, white, and blue glory...

Patriotic corner cupboard in kitchen

On the top shelf, I have my two little Lizzie High characters proudly waving their pinwheels. In their opposite hands they are holding tiny hotdogs--so cute! Next to the little boy, I've place a tiny crock of blueberries (thanks, Mom!).

The middle shelf contains several pieces of my stitching: Chessie and Me's "Love Liberty," a Prairie Schooler design from Book No. 13, "A Prairie Year," and an old freebie from Prairie Grove Peddler which you can still find right here.

And the on the bottom, you'll find this cute Williraye figurine holding an American eagle and nest in his right hand and waving the flag in his left hand. Next to him is another freebie from The Stitcherhood that I stitched last year. This freebie is still available right here. As always, I'd like to thank the designers for sharing their talents with us through their generous free designs! And way over on the right sitting in the little blue bowl is an old patriotic design from Homespun Elegance.

Here's one last look at the whole display. It's really brightened up the corner of my kitchen and I plan to leave the patriotic shelves up through late August when I'll switch things up for a more autumn look. 

Hooray for the red, white, and blue!

Gifts from a new friend... I've made a special new blogging friend named Shirley who just happens to reside way across the ocean in Cape Town, South Africa! Shirley just began a new blog called The Artfull Place and I hope you'll go say "hello" and welcome her to our blogging community. She is so multi-talented and she sent me this darling Christmas ornament and hand-painted tag. I told her the tag will be a part of my annual spring display on my corner cupboard--it is just so sweet. 

Gifts from Shirley, in South Africa

Here is a close-up of the little tag so you can see the marvelous detail. Shirley has just started her own Etsy shop and you can read all the details on her blog. Thank you again, my new friend--I will treasure your gifts!

Gift tag painted by Shirley

Medical update... Well, I had hoped to have better news for you regarding my husband's broken neck. He had an appointment yesterday and the hoped-for switch from the hard neck-brace to the soft collar didn't happen. The surgeon wants to keep him in the hard brace for at least another month to make sure the vertebrae that aren't quite aligned have not shifted. As I mentioned in my last post, there is no way to tell if this misalignment is something my husband was born with or if it happened after his fall down the stairs in May. So, unfortunately, surgery has not been totally ruled out as we previously thought...

Our spirits were flagging yesterday after the doctor's visit, but there is nothing we can do except try to be patient, wait, hope and pray. I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately as I just keep ruminating about that night six weeks ago when my husband fell down the stairs. I sure hope this passes soon as insomnia can really take a toll on your health over time... Anyway, keep praying and thinking positive thoughts, please; we're not out of the woods yet!

I'd like to leave on a cheerier note so I'm share this very addicting recipe for granola that I've gotten "hooked" on. They sell a treat called "Kimberley's Bakeshoppe Granola" at Sam's Club and I made the mistake of buying it one day. Oh, my!! Amazingly delicious and just filled with everything I love--lots of nuts, grains, and dried fruits. I stumbled upon a recipe online for a copycat recipe from Yammie's Noshery which you can find right here. It is fabulous--but addicting (don't say I didn't warn you!!). Hope you enjoy making (and eating!) it along with your other picnic foods this 4th of July weekend...

I dare you to eat just one bite of this tasty granola!

Wishing all of my U.S. friends a fabulous Independence Day! Thanks again for your kind comments and supportive emails--they mean so much to me. Bye for now...


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Life's unexpected turns

Good morning, my friends--and it truly is a good morning. The past month has been one giant "bump in the road" and I'm honestly so thrilled to be back with you today with a smile on my face. Things could have turned out so very differently...

Four weeks ago tonight, my dear husband fell down the entire flight of stairs in our home (13 uncarpeted solid oak stairs) and broke his neck. Yes, I can hear many of you gasping as you read this... He broke the C7 vertebra--at the very bottom of the neck, the one that sticks out the most. As I lay in bed that night, I heard him fall (I was having a hard time falling asleep) and the sounds of his body thudding down the stairs will haunt me forever. He didn't cry out or yell which leads us to believe that he was either sleepwalking (although he had never done so in the past) or only partially awake. We spent the rest of that night in the local hospital's Emergency Room (where I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my life!). He was then transported to the trauma center of a larger hospital in the city where he spent the day and another night and was then released with instructions that he must not drive and must wear a hard neck brace--24 hours a day, even in the shower and in bed.

My husband certainly had an angel on his shoulder that night as he came away with limited injuries. There was no paralysis as his spinal cord was not compromised! Unbelievable, isn't it? A true miracle in my opinion... I can't begin to tell you the horror stories that we've heard from others about the outcomes of friends or relatives who had similar falls. He suffered cuts and bruises all up and down his left side (face, shoulder, elbow, knee), but it is his right arm that seems to have come away with the longer lasting effects. In the beginning, he suffered horribly painful stinging sensations going up and down the arm through the median nerve. Thankfully, they seem to have ended, but the numbness and tingling sensations in two fingers on his right hand remain. The doctor says that could be permanent or could eventually clear up--there is no way to tell. But, if that is the only residual effect after suffering a fall like that, I consider him to be incredibly blessed!

My oldest son moved right in with us for the month and was a true godsend... I really could not have managed without his help--both the physical aid and the emotional support he gave were priceless. He drove my husband into work a couple of days, made a few delicious suppers along with some tasty mint-chocolate chunk gelato, helped with any lifting or chores my husband couldn't do, and just lifted our spirits with his presence. Since he can work remotely from anywhere in the world, my son's job wasn't affected, either. I was able to continue to go to work knowing my husband had my son nearby, too, and my fellow librarians were a huge source of comfort and support.

An accident like this takes you through every emotion imaginable--fear, anger, sorrow, hope, and just plain gratefulness that it wasn't worse. Every time I walk the stairs in our home, I'm reminded of how just a few seconds could have possibly changed our life together--forever. And I've learned to hold on tighter--not only to the stair railing, but to my dear family members, as well...

My husband returned to work this week (he is allowed to change out of the hard neck brace into a soft collar for his drive to work) and it appears that he won't need surgery. The heat of wearing the neck brace (which he will have to endure most of the summer) is driving him crazy with this hot, humid weather, but he realizes that is just a small inconvenience in the scheme of things. The vertebrae in his neck are not quite aligned, but the spinal surgeon isn't sure if that is a result of the accident or if he was born that way. The long-term outlook is positive and I'm finally able to breathe again... 

Baby raccoons exploring our pond

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only scary thing that happened around here last month! When all three sons were visiting the last weekend in May (helping out with gardening and other chores my husband couldn't do) we spotted a pair of baby raccoons playing out by our pond. Oh, they were just adorable and on that Saturday night, the guys were out taking photos of them while my husband and I watched from our kitchen table indoors.  (My oldest son took these wonderful raccoon photos and gave me permission to share them with you). My animal loving (and ever-trusting!) middle son, reached out to pet one of the little creatures and it bit him! Just a teeny nip, but we couldn't take a chance that the raccoon carried rabies so off they all went to the hospital's Emergency Room for the first in a series of rabies shots. 

Don't be deceived by these sweet faces--they bite!

It's a good thing he took the safe route of getting the shots as that same baby raccoon appeared in our yard, strolled right up to the patio in broad daylight, and acted a bit "off" just three days later. He was stumbling as he walked and we weren't sure if that was because he had rabies or if he was just young. Anyway, the police came and took him away and we never did see the other baby again... The fact that the mother was never seen at all makes us believe that there was a very good chance that they were all infected with the rabies! I doubt my sons will ever try to pet a wild animal again after that experience...

Then the following day, my oldest son came downstairs and asked what was on his back. Yikes!!! It was a tick--the head of the tick had already burrowed into my son's back and the arms and legs were sticking out. So, so creepy... Lyme Disease has been on the increase in our area and can have truly debilitating, long-lasting effects and with the number of deer we have in our area, there was a good chance that this was a deer tick that carried the disease. So, once again, off to the urgent care clinic went my sons to have the tick removed and receive the recommended dosage of antibiotics. Thankfully, my youngest son escaped with no mishaps and safely took the bus back home to Washington, D.C. that evening!

They say "bad things happen in threes." Are we done now? I sure hope so...

One thing that kept me going throughout those first few weeks after my husband's fall was checking on the progress of this cardinal's nest that I spotted right outside our family room window. Three beautifully speckled eggs with the mama cardinal sitting so patiently on them day in and day out.

And then I got to watch the babies hatch--one by one. They were so funny looking in the beginning with those big, bulgy eyes and pale featherless skin... I would mimic the mother bird's chirp and they would actually open their little mouths in anticipation of being fed. So adorable!

Feed us! Feed us!!

Sadly, the "circle of life" took charge and a hungry cat discovered the nest... Well, you know how that story ended. And yes, I cried... I've cried a lot this month.

I haven't looked at blogs or stitched much since my husband's fall; I've just been too unsettled and too busy. I will be taking a quick trip to New York to visit my mother this weekend and to attend my niece's bridal shower (my son will stay with my husband to make sure he doesn't push himself!), but I hope to start visiting all of your blogs/replying to emails next week when I get back home.

Throughout this ordeal I've witnessed firsthand the fragility of life and I recently came across this quote which certainly made me think about how I want to live my life... how about you? Leave no regrets...

Life is fragile--leave no regrets...

I hope to be back soon with some actual stitching to share with you. I've really missed each of you over the past month... Until then, my friends, treasure life! Bye for now...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gifts for three (and a few for me!)

Happy mid-May morning to you, my friends! The turn of the calendar page to May changed our weather into summer-like conditions almost overnight--I love it! Warmth and sunshine have abounded this month and with temperatures near 90, we have been having weather that is more like that of July. It did dip down into the 30s last night, but we'll be back up in the 80s by the weekend. Some people are complaining that we had no spring here in western Pennsylvania, but after that horribly long, frigid winter we endured, I couldn't be happier to feel the warmth of the sunshine again...

Most of my stitching lately has been sent away as gifts and now that the recipients have received them, I can share them with you. First of all, I sent this little pillow to my friend, Melissa, in Vancouver, Canada. I had been planning on sending her a RAK for some time now, but since she celebrated a birthday in April, this gift turned into a birthday/RAK! The chart is from With Thy Needle & Thread's "Valentine Sampler" booklet and is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle using most of the suggested threads (with a few substitutions, of course!).

With Thy Needle and Thread's "Valentine Sampler"

Now, you'll notice I made a few changes to the original chart (which you can see right here). I wanted to make this special for Melissa so I changed the swans that were charted on both sides of the flower pot to kitties--her kitties: Julius and Daisy! I was so pleased with how they came out--I know the coloring isn't quite right, but I think Melissa appreciates my efforts. Believe me, I am no artist!! I then finished it into a small pin pillow complete with handmade cording and accented with tiny spools. I thought the spools of thread were very appropriate because, in addition to being a lovely stitcher, Melissa has become quite proficient with her sewing machine lately and is creating some beautiful pieces of clothing for herself (which you can see showcased in her fairly new sewing blog). I am so happy to report that she loves it (hope the kitties do, too!).

Gift for Melissa

My next gift went to Elizabeth B. (no blog) in Texas who celebrated a birthday earlier this week. She and I first "met" while discussing Christmas ornaments, so I thought a little something to add to her Christmas tree would be a meaningful gift. I am truly on a PS Santa binge this year and found myself stitching this Santa sitting atop a prancing reindeer from the PS Book No. 48 "A Christmas Visit." Once again, I used 40 ct. raw Newcastle and the suggested DMC threads.

Prairie Schooler: "A Christmas Visit"

Here is a better look at it. The backing fabric is the tiny green checked material. I think that next time, I will leave less of a border showing when I finish this one, but overall, I'm pleased with the arched shape of this ornament. It wasn't the easiest finish for me, but I feel like I got it fairly even.

Gift for Elizabeth B.

My final gift for May was sent to Robin (no blog), in Virginia, who happens to have a birthday on May 14th--a most special day. Why is that day so special, you may ask? Well, it happens to be my dear mother's birthday, too! For Robin, I made a version of a pillow I showed you earlier this year (in this post). I stitched only the top half of the "Primrose Maiden" design by The Little Stitcher that can be found in the April 2015 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine. 

The Little Stitcher's "Primrose Maiden"

Here is a photo showing the two versions side by side. For Robin's gift I used 32 ct. linen using two strands of DMC and for my version I used 40 ct. linen with one strand of DMC and also stitched the border beneath. The colors are truer in the photo below than the one I took outside shown above. I really love both versions and I'm so happy Robin likes her birthday gift!

Gift for Robin (in the front)

A gift for me... Sweet Jackie, from Jackie's Stitches, sent me a wonderful and much appreciated RAK earlier this month. Just look at this grand assortment of fabric scraps and squares she sent my way. Oh, my--I felt like I was in heaven! I just love receiving finishing fabrics and, as most of you know, I use little scraps quite often in my pillow creations. I was so excited to see fabrics for every season and holiday--just for me!! Thank you, thank you, Jackie--I am thrilled with your generous gift. If you aren't familiar with Jackie's blog, please visit--not only does she stitch, but she also quilts, sews, and knits. And she does everything so beautifully...

A multitude of fabrics from Jackie!

Mother's Day memories... I wasn't sure what to expect on Mother's Day this year as I hadn't heard a word from my sons all week. Usually, they ask for gift suggestions or ask what I'd like for dinner--but, not this year! All I knew, was that I was not going to cook my own Mother's Day dinner, so my mom and I came up with a plan for me to set the kitchen table with cereal bowls, put out a lineup of cereal boxes in the center, and announce that that would be our Mother's Day dinner. Well, happily, I didn't have to carry out my little plan because my older sons arrived shortly after noon with gifts and dinner fixings in hand. I truly was surprised! My middle son brought me a lovely white Mandevilla plant, my eldest gave me a generous gift certificate to 123 Stitch (oh, yeah!!), and my youngest sent a dozen cupcakes all the way from Georgetown Cupcake--yum!

Mandevilla from my middle son

I just love the yellow centered white flowers on this plant and am hoping the deer don't love them, too. I'm keeping the plant in a blue ceramic pot right on my patio next to my kitchen door so I pray they won't be that bold and come so close to the house. We'll see!

Geogetown Cupcakes sent by youngest son

The cupcakes were fabulous--and famous. The bakery even has its own TV show: DC Cupcakes.  Just look at the line that extended up the street and around the corner for people waiting to purchase them on the Saturday before Mother's Day! My son and his girlfriend happened to be in the vicinity of the bakery's Georgetown location and snapped this photo... Luckily, he ordered them online so there was no wait for him. My favorite was the peanut butter fudge in the front row--oh, my! Hard to limit yourself to just one a day, but I've been doing just that all week (okay, I confess--I did have two on Mother's Day!).

Waiting in line at Georgetown Cupcake!

This is the dinner that my sons cooked for me--chicken kabobs, grilled veggies, and some baked fries (that was my contribution since I don't eat most vegetables :) They also bought an assortment of grapes, but forgot to put them out. Everything was delicious (well, the guys told me the veggies were!) and I was thoroughly spoiled by my sons. It really was one of the nicest Mother's Days I can remember, except for the fact that my youngest son wasn't with us. He and I had a nice chat that morning, though, and we had just seen him last weekend on our way home from the beach in Delaware, so that helped!

Mother's Day dinner prepared by my sons

My oldest son and I took a walk around nearby North Park lake on Mother's Day afternoon. We usually walk the entire five-mile loop, but it was just boiling outside (nearly 90!) so we took the shortcut and only walked four miles. He snapped a couple of photos using his new phone--I was so impressed with the quality! Maybe it's time for me to break down and get myself a smart phone? It truly is a lovely park and it was very quiet for a Sunday--I suppose most everyone was off visiting their moms.

North Park Lake

A perfect place for a Mother's Day walk

Lately, our yard has been filled with some unwanted visitors. This time of year, the Canada Geese make an appearance searching for just the right place to nest. I think our small, peaceful pond presents itself as a perfect spot. Unfortunately, they are some of the messiest birds known to man and we don't want them settling down here so we chase them off as soon as they are spotted each spring. This couple wouldn't leave, in spite of my yelling, clapping, and general making-a-fool-of-myself antics... They simply flew into the water and seemed to know there was no way I could get to them unless I jumped in the water myself!

Canada Geese--handsome, but, oh-so-messy!!

This little guy and I came face to face when I was out photographing the flowering trees. Boy, was he shocked when he headed down the tree and found himself face to face with a human carrying a camera! I don't mind the squirrels except when they steal the birds' food--they are actually quite entertaining in their attempts to get to the bird feeders. Doesn't he look surprised to see me in "his territory?"

"Hmmm--I wasn't expecting you to be here!"

This particular squirrel and I played hide and seek for about five minutes around the tree. He would go to one side, peak out, see me, and run to the other. It was so cute! Why he didn't just run high up into the safety of the treetops, I'll never know! There was no way this old lady would be climbing up after him, that's for sure... 

Can you spot his little head?

With the sudden blast of heat this month, came so many beautiful flowers and flowering trees--all in white! In our yard you can spot (clockwise from lower left):  vibernum, flowering crabs, dogwood, and lily of the valley. What a welcome sight after the long winter! They are just about done blooming now, so I need to make my way to the garden center and try to busy some flowers that won't be immediately eaten by the deer. Anyone have any suggestions for tried-and-true deer-proof flowers?

The white flowers of spring

May 14--a very special birthday... My mom is turning 88 today and I want to wish her a wonderful day! I just love her more than words can say and am so very proud of her. Many of you have asked, from time to time, how mom is doing since dad's death... Since saying goodbye to him in late October, she's had her sad moments, of course, but it is so nice to see her enjoying her life again without worrying about how he is doing at the dementia facility. She is reading more, playing me nightly (and often beating me!) in "Words With Friends" online, and enjoying visits with my sister and brother and their families who live nearby. I so wish I lived closer, but I know she knows how very much I love and miss her... ♥♥♥


I'm so sorry for the length of this post--I guess I had more to report than I thought I would! I want to say a special thanks to each of you who takes the time to comment. I know that blogging is fading away as more and more people turn to the quicker and easier posting on Facebook and Instagram so your comments mean ever so much to me. Welcome to my newest followers, too--I'm amazed that the number is creeping toward 1500!! Enjoy your day and this beautiful month of May.  Bye for now...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Farewell to April

Good morning, my stitching friends! Happy last day of April... And on to  the (hopefully) warmer, sunnier month of May. I always loved May Day when I was a young girl. Invariably, we made conical shaped paper "baskets" similar to these in school. Of course, when I went to school back in the dark ages, I made them from course construction paper--there were none of the lovely scrapbooking papers available like there are now. I would simply decorate them with crayons and colored pencils and fill them with a flower or two and carry them home to hang on our front door to surprise my mom. I would ring the doorbell and run and she would act "oh-so-surprised" to find my May basket of flowers hanging from the doorknob. Do children do things like that anymore? It was such a sweet way to mark the beginning of what is usually one of the prettiest months of the year...

I've been doing a bit of finishing in between my travels this month and have my March and April Christmas ornament finishes to share with you today.  For April, I stitched this darling freebie from a French blog which you can find right here. It is called "Joyeux Noël" and is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. I used most of the suggested colors, but did have to change a few due to stitching on black. For instance, her shoes were supposed to be black, but obviously that would never have worked, so I changed them to red. I also had to change her hair color from the charted black to brown and I made it a bit longer while I was "playing hairstylist." The nose area is a bit different from what was charted, too. It is still a bit large, but stitching over one on 28 ct. made it impossible to make the nose any smaller...

"Joyeux Noël " French freebie

For the finish, I had my usual struggle with making a flat ornament. I don't know what it is about these finishes that gets me so anxious. I find sewing my usual pillow finishes to be so much easier. I guess everyone has a finishing technique that they feel most comfortable with--what is yours? I think it turned out well, but I rarely do this finish as it frustrates me to no end! I chose a velvet ribbon for the hanger and the small accent bow in the corner and added a few green holly leaves and bead berries to finish it off.

Here is a closer look at the bow and holly detail--there is just something sweet and old-fashioned about it, isn't there?

If you read my previous post, you already saw my ornament all stitched up for March. If you didn't, it is called "Snow Birds" and is a design by Country Cottage Needleworks that can be found in the 2013 "Just Cross Stitch" ornament issue. I had a tough time finishing this one as I never realized how many different shades of gray there are! I had nothing in my fabric stash that coordinated well with this particular shade of gray so I just went with a black and white polka dot backing fabric. I did have a gray and white polka dot ribbon that I thought made a great hanger and perked up the finish a bit... And rather than adding my usual handmade cording, I chose this store-bought cording that resembled white rope--thought it was a nice touch for the nautical looking birds.

"Snow Birds" finish

We are hitting the road again and traveling to the beaches of Delaware this weekend to visit some college friends. Although I don't look forward to a seven hour road trip, I'm excited to see them again and on the way home we'll be stopping in Washington, DC for a quick dinner with my youngest son--yay! Anyway, I didn't want to arrive empty-handed so I stitched up this cute Lizzie Kate "A Little Beach" design. Since I already had a white frame just waiting for a finish, I had to downsize things a bit and stitched this on 40 ct. raw Newcastle rather than the fabric that came with the kit. I also added a real seashell to the piece (yes, with glue--I can hear a few of you gasping in shock!!). I think it turned out so cute!

"A Little Beach" finish

The friends we will be visiting just retired and bought a house near the beach so I think this is a perfect little housewarming gift for them. It can sit on an end table, mantle, or be hung on the wall. I really love it and plan on stitching the same thing again for my sister who has a beach condo in Florida... The shells in the photo below were all collected along the shores of Naples beach in Florida over the past few decades. I think that pretty pinkish shell in the right corner is one of my favorites...

Gardening Woes... Between work and travel, April has been a bit of a scattered month for me as far as stitching goes--I hope May will be better! Many of you have less time to stitch at this time of year because you're working away in those beautiful gardens that you are showing on your blogs, but we have just about given up on flower gardening due to our ravenous--and ever-growing--deer population. I can't tell you how disheartening it is to see your new flowers all chewed off within days (or hours!) of planting them. So we are waving the white flag of surrender--the deer have won. My husband will still plant his vegetable garden within a fenced area along with a few flowers for cutting, but that's about it. It makes me sad, but what can we do? We couldn't possibly fence in our entire yard as it is more than acre and has a large pond at the back. I took these photos just this week--yes the grass really is that green at this time of year!

Backyard ~ April 2015

These beautiful tulips are growing safely within the confines of my husband's fenced in vegetable garden so it's been a treat to have them to cut and bring inside!

Can you spot the tall Purple Martin house in each of the pictures above? It's one of the the things we fell in love with when we purchased our home 31 years ago... We've never gotten Purple Martins, but other birds sure enjoy it! If any of you have any tips about attracting Purple Martins, I'd love to hear them!

The beautiful ferns are unfurling their dragon-like heads everywhere--they seem to be one of the few plants the deer don't bother with.

Well, time to get packing (again!!)--short post today for a change! I hope May brings happiness your way, my friends. Thank you, again, for all of your sweet comments and always welcome emails. I appreciate them all so very much! Bye for now...

Wishing you all a very merry month of May!