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!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Finishes and Florida

HAPPY TAX DAY EVERYONE! Here in the U.S., April 15th is always a day of celebration at the library where I work: no more requests for tax forms, no more people taking out their frustrations with the government on us, and no more questions like "which form do I need to use"  until next year! My co-workers and I can go back to being librarians rather than dispensers of tax forms. So, are you done with your taxes? I hope you're getting big refunds this year (or at least enough of a refund to buy a bit of stitching stash!)...

ON THE ROAD AGAIN...  I don't have much to show you today as I've been traveling. Last week, my husband and I went to visit his parents  in Naples, Florida (otherwise known as one of the most beautiful cities in America) and today I leave for New York for a long overdue visit with my mom. I've been struggling with some eye issues for the past two months and with almost weekly visits to the eye doctor, I haven't been able to get away to visit her so I'm really excited to be heading north in a couple of hours.

I do have one finished spring ornament to share with you today which I stitched for my friend, Nathalie (no blog), in France. This is a freebie from Kissy-Cross which you can find right here. There are a lot of cute freebies on her site, so check it out. Nathalie has a March birthday so what better thing to stitch for her than a spring scene of birds and flowers. I stitched this on 40 ct. white Newcastle with DMC threads and used the pretty bird fabric (a gift from my sweet friend, Lois)  for the backing. It stitched up fairly quickly; in fact, I think the finishing may have taken longer than the stitching!

Gift for Nathalie

While I was in Florida, I stitched my Christmas ornament (for March--I'm a month behind, already!), but, unfortunately, I've had no time to finish it. Although this Country Cottage Needleworks design (from the 2013 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue) is called "Snow Birds," these birds were so reminiscent of the shore birds I saw on my Florida trip (you'll see my photos below). I've always loved this piece and the white pops so well on the 32 ct. dark gray linen. For once, I didn't change a thing--all of the DMC colors are exactly as charted!

"Snow Birds" (Country Cottage Needleworks)

I'm so enjoying my Prairie Schooler Santa SAL each Sunday with Melissa and Hilda and have managed to finish my third Santa. This green-robed fellow is from Book No. 43: "Father Christmas." The only change I made to the suggested DMC colors was to the teddy bear in Santa's bag; I used DMC 610 for him. I was a bit worried about the shades of green and red when I first began stitching, but I really love the final look.

Prairie Schooler "Father Christmas"

MAIL CALL... The mailman was kept very, very busy over the past few weeks delivering packages from stitching friends.  From the always thoughtful Vickie, came this cross-stitched bookmark--a thank you for some fabrics I sent her for her pink quilt project. Vickie's stitching is so tiny and precise on this William Morris inspired design--just lovely. Thank you, my friend--you know it will be put to good use--after all, I am a librarian!

Thank you bookmark and card from Vickie

My sweet friend, Cindy, in Tennessee, surprised me with some wonderful Easter gifts. She (along with anyone who reads my blog!) knows how much I love bunnies so she included a burlap bunny with two felt orange carrots and a trio of black and white bunnies. It was a pleasure to add these to my Easter decorating this year, Cindy, and I know the bunnies will bring smiles for years to come. I just love them!

Easter gifts from Cindy

And to add to those surprises, I also received three gifts from overseas. From Gabi in Germany (no blog), came this darling and beautifully stitched Easter bunny (are you sensing that everyone knows I like bunnies?!) ornament and two pretty wooden eggs with flowers painted on them. Gabi, you are always so kind to remember me throughout the year--your little stitched pieces are always so sweet. Thank you, my friend! Your gift is adorable...

Easter gifts from Gabi

From Nathalie in France (no blog), came the most darling chocolate and caramel bunnies (most of which are now eaten), a French stitching magazine, and a pretty tea towel. The bunnies were almost too cute to eat--almost! I love your spring gifts, my friend--thank you again for thinking of me at Easter time!

Easter gifts from Nathalie

And from Gabriele  in Germany came this wonderful assortment of goodies which included a trio of little hens sitting in a wispy nest, some pretty fabric and trims to aid in my finishing, a lovely chart, and a cute little candle shaped like a crocus bulb. But, the highlight of this gift package was the stunning cosmetic bag that Gabriele made.

Gifts from Gabriele

I've put together a little collage of Gabriele's lovely cosmetic bag so you could see all the perfect details--the zipper-pull shaped like a leaf, the lovely ribbon inside the bottom of the bag, and the pretty lace. Gabriele told me that the fabric is vintage--over 50 years old--and is from Bavaria. I was so honored that she would choose to use such special fabric on a gift for me. Tucked inside the bag were some fragrant wipes and soap, a pretty tin, and the cutest bunny tissues. Thank you, dear Gabriele--I will treasure your gifts and I thank you for your friendship!

Cosmetics pouch from Gabriele

What wonderful gifts, don't you think? I have never met a single one of these lovely stitchers, but I feel like I could just sit right down with any of them and chat away like old friends. I feel very blessed to have "met" so many wonderful stitching buddies over the past six years since I started blogging. Thank you all so very much!

FLORIDA TRIP... I can't tell you how nice it was to feel the sun and walk outside with no heavy jackets or hats for a few days last week. After the horribly long, cold winter (and spring!) that we've had here in the northeast, I welcomed even the extremely high temperatures (in the 90s at times) with open arms. As I walked around Naples, admiring the lovely houses, flowers, and landscaping, I thought about how different life would be in a warm climate. I do love seeing the four seasons, but I just wish the winter season was a lot shorter and the others a lot longer. Hopefully, we'll be able to head south for a couple of months each winter when we retire. Does anyone else have a favorite city in the south to recommend for a winter visit?

Everywhere I looked, I spotted blooms--in every color of the rainbow! Below is a collage of just some of the glorious flowers I took photos of on our daily walks. You can click on the collage for a better look...

Florida flowers pop with color!

And everything was so lush and green! Here in western Pennsylvania, the lawns are just starting to green up, but we have no leaves on our trees yet and very few things growing other than the leaves beginning to sprout from tulips and iris bulbs. Can you see the large cluster of coconuts in the middle palm tree? I can't imagine what would happen if you happened to get hit on the head with a falling coconut!

Palms, ferns, and ficus abound

On our beach walks, the birds were everywhere. Just look at this assortment... They are all quite timid when you try to get near them so they made it hard to get good photos, but I managed to get a few. There was such a great variety of seabirds on this one beach in Naples.

Shore birds on Naples beach

My husband noticed this line-up of birds--each had his own perch! And it looks like there is one bird in the water just waiting his turn for a seat!

My favorite birds were these cuties! Just look at the expression on the one in the front--so comical! And I love the black feathers sticking straight up on the bird behind him. Does anyone know what these are called?

"Hey, what are you looking at, lady?!"

There weren't many good shells laying on the beach this year. Years ago, when we first began going to Naples (in the early 80s), we could find many. But, this year all we found were lots of little shells like this. This was an unusual amount all washed up together. I thought they were quite pretty with the rocks and the blue hues of the Gulf of Mexico behind them.

Shells on Naples beach

And just look at what swam right underneath the pier as we were standing there--a dolphin! I was lucky to have my camera in hand and ready to go. I'm really pleased with this picture... I was actually even closer to a dolphin once before. Years ago, on a trip to Bermuda, my husband and I actually got to "swim with the dolphins"--what an amazing experience! To hold a dolphin's head between your hands and gaze into their eyes was very special.

I hope you enjoyed my Florida photos... We're very lucky to have a nice place to stay when we go down each spring--my in-laws have a lovely house with a separate apartment above their garage so it is perfect for visitors. We helped with the cooking and grocery shopping and even went to the library for them--I never pass up a chance to check out a library and believe me, the Naples library is a beauty!

Well, I need to finish packing and get on the road for the five hour trip to New York. But, before I go, I want to share another cookie recipe with you. This one is my youngest son's favorite: Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies. Not only do they have chocolate, but also peanut butter--and who doesn't love that combination? I made these two weeks ago when he was home for a (way too short) visit and then again on Monday to take into work to share with my co-workers. Everyone loved them--hope you will, too! I managed to snap a photo before they were all devoured...

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am way behind on my blog reading, but hope to get caught up over the next week. Thank you all so very, very much for the wonderful comments you left on my last post. I was truly surprised at how many of you loved my bunny stitching. And I want to give a warm welcome to my new followers--so happy to have you here! Please remember to leave your email if you have a question you would like me to answer--otherwise I have no way of getting in touch with some of you. Have a great week everyone--and happy stitching! Bye for now...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hop to it!

Good morning, everyone! Well, I've procrastinated long enough--it's time to force myself to sit down and write a long-overdue post. Is it really the end of March already? For us Pennsylvanians, March hasn't been kind--we even had snow on the first day of Spring and I hear that we may be in for more of the white stuff tomorrow. There is nothing blooming or greening up and it is all getting rather depressing to be honest. So, in yet another attempt to hurry up Spring, I've been stitching one of my favorite Spring subjects: bunnies!

I've had this La D Da piece called "Briar Rabbit" in my stash for a long, long time, but, to be honest the photo on the leaflet (see below) scared me off a bit. It looked so dark and non-springlike to me that I kept pushing it aside for other pieces. But, I finally got up my nerve to try it on a lighter color linen than was suggested and I just love the result! I used 40 ct. antique white Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads (although I had to change the bunny tail to Week's Dye Works "Taupe" so it would show up on the lighter fabric).

To finish him off into one of my little pillows, I first took a single thread of DMC 3858 and tied a wee bow around his neck. This wasn't charted, but I thought it made him look even sweeter. I then sewed a small pillow using the beautiful floral fabric shown in the background and a yellow bow on the side.

Briar Rabbit finish

And here is a close-up of the bunny and his burgundy bowtie--what a cutie!

The original La D Da chart looks like this...  What a difference the fabric you choose can make!

Another bunny hopped into my life this month in the form of this adorable design that can be found in the April 2015 issue of "Just Cross Stitch Magazine". It is called "Primrose Maiden" and is designed by The Little Stitcher (whose designs I just love!). This looks very different from the photo in the magazine, though, as I changed all of the orange colors to blues... It is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with DMC threads (if anyone wants the color changes that I made, just email me). 

For this finish, I used some complementary blue and golden-yellow fabrics and ric rac and added a small accent square featuring one of the stitched white flowers in the lower right. At the corner where the ric rac intersects, I placed a white button topped with a cut of blue and white gingham ribbon. I'm so pleased with how it turned out! 

Primrose Maiden finish

I also finished my second Prairie Schooler Santa that I am doing in my Sunday SAL with Melissa in Canada and Hilda in Austria. This handsome guy caring for his feathered friends is from the "Kris Kringle" chart (Book No. 62). He is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with most of the suggested DMC threads (I did substitute DMC 520 for 3362, though, as it just wasn't showing up well).  I will have to set a date and get busy on finishing these Santas into ornaments as I really don't want to leave them all until December...

Prairie Schooler Santa Kris Kringle (Book No. 62)

I also received a very special gift that I'd like to show you which was sent by one of my blog readers and friends, Sylvia (no blog) from New Mexico. Sylvia  had read this post that I shared with you about the special meaning that cardinals have held for me since Dad died and asked me if I would like a copy of an old book she owned called The Song of the Cardinal by Gene Stratton Porter. Old book? Cardinal? Why, yes--I would love to receive it! I was so very touched when I opened her package to find not only the beautiful old book, but the most lovely and lovingly stitched cardinal ornament. Isn't it a beauty? It brought tears to my eyes that Sylvia would make this for me--I wish you could see it as it is even prettier in person. And she included some cardinal and Pennsylvania stickers and a pretty snowflake bookmark all wrapped up in cardinal-red tissue paper. Absolutely gorgeous!

Here is a better look at the sweet ornament and the title page of the old book. I will treasure them both, Sylvia, my friend--your generous spirit truly touched my heart... Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A special cardinal gift from Sylvia!

March has been a very noisy month around here! We have workmen putting a new floor in our garage attic and all that pounding and sawing isn't exactly conducive to relaxing with my stitching. I can't just seem to sit and relax while they're here so reading, stitching, and watching television are all out. Instead, I've been cleaning out drawers and sorting through things that should have been discarded long ago. I can't even tell you the number of bags of "stuff" we've sent on to thrift shops.  What a great feeling it is to organize your life! I've also been sprucing up the house for spring a bit. I'm just loving my new corner cupboard in the kitchen--it is such fun to decorate for the seasons!

I've tucked a few cross stitch pieces onto each shelf... The top shelf houses my newest pillow and three of my Dedham Pottery reproduction bunny ceramics. I've been collecting Dedham Pottery bunnies through Ebay auctions for a number of years now and currently have almost 50 of the blue and white pieces here in my kitchen.

The middle shelf has a vintage yellow bird that I found up in the attic which I think came from my mother-in-law many years ago. He looks quite cheerful sitting there with a bird print, some cross-stitching, and an old lace doily.

And the bottom shelf  has a larger Dedham pottery bunny, a tiny Spring pillow, and a yellow flower pot filled with dried baby's breath left over from my husband's Valentine's Day flowers last month.

I've created so many bunny / spring cross-stitched pieces over the past six years that they are flowing out of my wooden bowl so I had to come up with additional ways to display them. I put together this spring-time vignette on the sideboard of my kitchen that I'm so pleased with. I used to collect tiny bunny ceramic figurines when my sons were young and you can see some of them on top of the cake plate (which was a wedding gift nearly 38 years ago!). The opened book behind the candle is about--what else--bunnies! That bunny sampler tucked into the back corner is from an early "Just Cross Stitch" magazine; according to the date on the back, I stitched it in 1993!

The bunnies are taking over!

We celebrated my oldest son's 33rd birthday on Sunday with these yummy brownies that he found online and wanted me to bake for him. They were  gooey and scrumptious (and just "a bit" decadent!). You can find the recipe for these Chunky Cheesecake Brownies right here. The only change I made was to put half the amount of chocolate chips in the cream cheese layer as was recommended by other bakers. Unfortunately, my son had a terrible cold so he couldn't even taste his birthday treat--I'll have to make them again very soon.

Chunky Cheesecake Brownies

I hope that the next time I post, there will be warm breezes and spring flowers starting to pop up around here! That may be wishful thinking, but winter can't last forever, can it? Until then, I hope you know how much your comments, emails, and friendships mean to me--stitchers are the best!! Do you have any special plans for the weekend? I'm so looking forward to tomorrow as my youngest son will be visiting for three days and we haven't seen him since Christmas. Time to spoil him with his favorites: pot roast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and homemade cookies... Comfort food! Bye for now...