Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, friends! Thank you for joining me on the blog this year! I treasure each one of you!

Love to all of you,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thank You, Pioneer Woman

I love Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. But, today, I really love Ree Drummond! I watched her Christmas special on the Food Network last weekend and was immediately inspired to make her cinnamon rolls. I had read about them on her blog and read the recipe in her cookbook numerous times but never could commit to actually making them. Until yesterday and today.

Yesterday I made the dough and refrigerated it overnight (not necessary but it fit my schedule). Today I rolled out the dough, slathered melted butter on top, and sprinkled lots of sugar and cinnamon all over it. I only made a half recipe and, when all was said and done, I had enough for four pans of rolls.

I quickly learned that I had not rolled the dough tightly enough, but when they cooked you would never have known that I had not mastered the "roll". I wish I could describe how my house smelled during the 15 minutes or so it took them to cook. Heaven should smell so good!  While the rolls cooked, I made the icing.

I didn't follow PW's recipe for the icing mainly because I couldn't find the maple extract that she called for. I looked at two grocery stores and neither one had it. I added vanilla extract instead and eliminated the little bit of coffee that she also called for. I wasn't convinced I would like the icing with coffee and maple extract anyway.

In no time, the rolls and the icing were ready. The icing is poured over the warm cinnamon rolls and it just oozes into every little spot it can get to in the rolls.

This recipe is so unbelievably delicious and fairly easy to make. I can't recommend it highly enough! In case you think you might like to make these delicious rolls for Christmas morning, here's the link to the recipe: (Not my spelling of cinnamon)

As I said, I only made half of the recipe. I don't know what I would do with eight pans of cinnamon rolls (well, I do, but I would never fit in any of my clothes again) unless you are giving them away to family and friends. It would make a very welcome gift!

How tortuous will it be to smell these tomorrow for four hours in the car as I drive to Jacksonville? I'll be sure to put them out of reach on the back seat where I can't get to them!

I hope your holiday baking is all finished, the gifts are wrapped, and that your holiday travels are safe ones!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mystery Solved

I posted on Sunday a photo of the sheep canvas that is part of my Melissa Shirley Nativity series. I want something small to stitch and I settled on this canvas which I have had forever.

As I was sorting through the stash for threads to use on this piece, I realized that I had no idea what the object(s) are on the back side of the sheep. I asked for your help identifying what I was looking at. I appreciate everyone's suggestions. It's hard to choose threads and stitches if you don't know what the object is that you are stitching!

I decided that no one would know better what is painted on the canvas than the artist herself. So I sent Melissa a message on Facebook and asked for her help. She very kindly replied to my question yesterday and enlightened me with her response. The large brown object is a basket with a domed top with a tassel that hangs from it. The smaller red object to the left of the basket is a bota bag or a wineskin. Makes perfect sense now, don't you think? Melissa even offered to touch up the painted canvas if I thought it would help. How nice is that? I don't think the canvas needs it but she was so kind to offer!

So, the mystery is solved! I just thought you would like to know.

Five days until Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Countdown

The gifts are bought and wrapped and ready to load into the car for the trip to Jacksonville later this week. That leaves time for some guilt-free stitching.

This week I finished the beading on the "C" pear. I love beading and find it very relaxing and especially love watching the beads line up in a nice, even row. For the most part, I've also finished Step 2 of the background around "C" and look forward to working on Step 3 this week which will be adding brackets of fly stitch. Amy has chosen a beautiful, pale icy green Kreinik for this step. I can't wait to see how it completes the look of the background. There is still the stem and the leaf to complete. The leaf has some ribbon work on it which I may leave to be stitched until the banner is almost complete.

I've been looking through the stash this week for something small to stitch and finally settled on the sheep canvas that is part of my Melissa Shirley Nativity series.

I pulled some threads out of the stash yesterday and actually found all that I needed. I can't quite figure out what the object(s) is on the right side of the back of the sheep. Is it a box, a bag and lantern? If you know what it is, please tell me!

Can you believe we're only a week away until Christmas day? I can't wait! I'll be spending Christmas with Andrew and Anna and then will look forward to them coming to Augusta for New Year's. I hope all of you have a wonderful couple of weeks ahead with memorable times spent with your family and friends. Enjoy your stitching time this Christmas! Hope Santa brings you something fun to stitch!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Can you believe that Christmas is just two weeks from today? I went to the mall this morning for my one trip of the season and, if I were a merchant there, I would be wondering where everyone is. Of course, I arrived at 10:00 AM when they opened so I had no problem finding a great parking place and plenty of sales associates to help me. There were so few shoppers! I hope for the merchants' sakes that all the shoppers are heading their way this afternoon and in the next two weeks ahead.

I promised you a picture of my Melissa Shirley Nativity figures with their new backdrop.

I found this mirrored cathedral-type window backdrop on a Christmas show on QVC a couple of months ago.  I added my grandmother's Boehm angels to the grouping and some handcrafted sheep as well. I need to add some greenery or straw but haven't quite figured out what to do to bring it all together.

The "C" pear on my banner has been so much fun to stitch this week. I was very pleased with my progress. I finished the Helen's Lace background stitch and the snowflakes. Amy did a beautiful job with the snowflakes. They were perfectly diagrammed to follow the painted canvas. Even my background stitching worked out well around the snowflakes.

Last night, I moved on to beading the "C.

I hope you are finding some time for yourself and your stitching in the midst of this crazy/wonderful time of year. Take some time in the evening and find a good Christmas movie on television and settle in with your stitching. This week I watched The Polar Express and Elf - two of my favorites. I haven't watched Love Actually yet and have only seen parts of The Holiday - my two favorite romantic Christmas movies. I never miss either of those movies at Christmas.

There's a little more shopping ahead for me this afternoon so I had better get to it. Have a wonder-filled week ahead!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The First Pear of Christmas

I eagerly anticipated the arrival this week of the threads and stitch guide from Amy's for the first pear of the Christmas banner. I wasn't disappointed! Amy sent a beautiful selection of silks, metallics, ribbon, and beads to stitch the pear and begin the background.

I completed the entire border just in time for the first pear kit's arrival so I have been able to turn my entire attention to stitching the pear this week.  The first step of the background pattern was my starting point. It was just an evening's work to stitch the framework for this composite stitch background. I like the pattern just as it is with just the boxes but there are still cross and oblong crosses to add within the boxes and then a French stitch to complete the design. It looks complicated but each component taken separately is quite simple.

The pear is stitched using a subtle, hand-dyed Gloriana stranded silk. I'm finding the Helen's Lace stitch that Amy chose for the pear to be a challenge. For me, it isn't a stitch to work on when there are any distractions around me. I spent a few frustrating hours on Friday starting and stopping and ripping out. I tried Amy's tips for working Helen's Lace but even her tips couldn't help me. I finally took a break and set the canvas aside and decided to decorate my little Christmas tree. Evidently, a break is what was needed and when I came back to the canvas, I stitched a nice diagonal row that set me up for much easier stitching on subsequent rows. I worked steadily on the pear yesterday and made good progress. It just requires a lot of concentration - at least for me.

More work on the pear is ahead this afternoon. The "C" will be beaded and the leaf will use the Gloriana ribbon included in the thread kit. The snowflakes will be stitched in "Marshmellow" Kreinik and the red Hi-Lights I used in the border. Lots of work still to come on the first pear!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It's hard to believe that it was only a week ago that we were still eating leftovers. I had a fun stay in Jacksonville over the holiday weekend with Anna and Andrew. When we weren't eating leftovers or watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and football, we drove down to Ponte Vedra on Friday evening to the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse for their Christmas tree lighting.

It was a festive evening in a sort of tropical fashion. The temperature was mild so people were dressed in shorts and sandals and many of the children were dressed in their Christmas finery. The clubhouse was beautifully decorated with a variety of themed Christmas trees throughout. Once we made it out to the large lawn outside overlooking the 18th green, we saw "snowflakes" drifting through the air. Actually, a bubble machine on the roof was blowing very tiny bubbles our way that gave the illusion of snow falling. The carolers sang, the hot chocolate was served, and the tree was lighted. It was a very nice evening!

I finished my Christmas decorating yesterday. I'll take some pictures this week of my Heritage series needlepoint ornaments on the tree. They are so pretty! I'll have to stitch more of them. I finally found a backdrop for my Melissa Shirley Nativity figures. It isn't a creche but it has a sort of Renaissance feel to it that I really like. I'll get some pictures of it as well. I have a sheep canvas that I have never stitched that accompanies this group of figures.  I really need to get it out and work on it. There are also some shepherds I could add to the grouping. Future projects for 2012? Hmmm....

Hope you avoid any Christmas craziness this week and find some time to stitch. I know I will. Have a good week!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Banner Progress

I thoroughly enjoyed my stitching on the Christmas banner this week and, as a result, I am halfway finished with the border!

As delighted as I am with the partially completed border, I have to admit to my inability to follow directions.  After I had finished the upper left crenellated border of mosaic stitches and Smyrna crosses, I looked at Amy's directions and diagram and discovered that I had not changed the direction of the mosaic stitches for this portion of the border. I suppose if I were deliberately choosing to ignore Amy's instructions, the direction of this little mosaic stitch would be the place to do it. Although to me it's a glaring mistake, if I look at it objectively, it isn't noticeable. The most aggravating thing about my mistake is the fact that Amy could not have made it more clear as to how the border is to be stitched in written instructions and in diagrams. Sorry Amy, I'll pay more attention in the future.

The border really is beautiful with the sparkly, deep, rich greens and red. The golds are the perfect complements to the red and green. Once you start the Rhodes stitches, the border really moves right along. I'm anxious to see what's planned for the first pear but, until that lesson arrives, I'll continue work on the next half of the border.

When I wasn't Christmas stitching this week, I was stitching for Halloween. I'm making nice progress on NeedleDeeva's Hooty Owl.

Hooty's such a cutie to stitch and so nice and small compared to the Christmas banner. Little Girl is always happy when I stitch Hooty because that means she can sleep in my lap while I stitch - something she can't do when I stitch the banner.

I was out in the backyard yesterday and realized it was time to check the Christmas cacti that I had hidden under the Japanese magnolia and sasanqua back in April. And here they are -

After brushing away the fallen leaves and white sasanqua blossoms, the blooms on the cacti were visible.  It's time to bring them inside and enjoy the beautiful blooms. Every year it amazes me that with so little care all summer that these plants put on such a beautiful show in November and December.

I'll be driving down to Jacksonville this week to spend Thanksgiving with Andrew and Anna. I haven't been down there since the July 4th weekend - hard to believe! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family! We all have so much to be thankful for so take some time this week to count your blessings!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Study - Settling In

This week I settled in to my stitching on the Christmas banner. I wish I could say I had settled on which floor stand to use. During the week I kept the banner on the K's floor stand in my office. I remembered an old standing Ott Lite that I had hidden away from myself in a closet and brought that in to the office. The light makes a huge difference as the natural light this time of year in the office and my desk lamp just weren't doing it for me.

Today I moved the banner and the K's stand into the den so that I could stitch and watch TV. I have a small den - maybe 10' x 15' - and the K's stand with the banner on it is just too much in this small room especially where my stitching chair is located. But, I was willing to try it, nonetheless. I got settled and pulled the stand in close enough for comfortable stitching only to realize that I hadn't brought my threads with me from the office. I was so aggravated with myself! All the while I had been trying to get settled, my cat, Little Girl, had a panicked look on her face as she tried to figure out how she was going to sit in my lap with this contraption in her way. She climbed on the table next to me but that didn't get her any closer. Then she climbed on to the arm of my chair and squeezed herself under the canvas. She couldn't get any more settled than I could.

Since I had no threads with which to stitch, I had to move the K's stand out of my way - no small feat given the heavy base on the stand - not to mention moving the cat out of my way. I retrieved the threads and came back to the den to rethink whether I would be happy stitching this canvas in the den. At some point I decided to move the K's stand out of the way and try the System 4 just to see if it would even hold the banner. And, sure enough it did - as long as it was clamped in the middle of the frame.  So I may try this when I want to stitch the banner in the den.

I don't want to bore you with the details of how and where I do my stitching but maybe it helps someone else who might be trying to figure out where and how to stitch a canvas the size of the Christmas banner. If nothing else, I learned that both my floor stands will work and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Until Amy has us start on the pears, following my progress on the banner might be as exciting as watching paint dry. There is a lot of border to stitch on this project and that's all I am working on this month! I think I made good progress this week stitching the crenellated border. I finished the crenellations along the left border and half way across the bottom border. I started on the top border this afternoon.

The Rhodes stitches are the next step in completing the border. I may stitch some of those in the left border just for a change of pace this week. I wanted you to see the cute magnet that Amy sent with the first banner lesson. It's the perfect accessory for this Home Study.

I enjoyed having a small project to work on this week - my Frankenstein from Needle Deeva. I finished up Frank yesterday and Hooty Owl is already on the stretcher bars as my next small project.

Frankenstein was as much fun to stitch as Fraidy Cat and those two are patiently waiting now for Hooty Owl to join them before they head off to the finisher. Thanks NeedleDeeva and Robin for this fun series of Halloween ornaments!

That's my stitching news for this week. Hope your stitching went well this week! If you can stand it, I'll show you some more of the crenellated border next week! Maybe I'll have some Rhodes stitches to show you instead!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I had a wonderful weekend at Hilton Head - my first trip there in almost 8 years! Andrew was there to cover the Concourse d'Elegance for for which he writes. BMW (the key sponsor for the Concourse) provided he and Anna with a room at the elegant Inn at Harbor Town, a 2012 BMW 5 series to drive Saturday afternoon, and a sporty, bright yellow 2012 BMW Z4 convertible to test drive on Sunday morning.

I didn't have a chance to ride in the Z4 but I enjoyed our drive through Sea Pines Plantation in the beautiful white 5 series we were given to test drive. One of our stops in Sea Pines was at the beachfront house my family owned for many years.

We had many good times at that house. Not much as changed about the house except for the houses around it which are all new or completely renovated. In fact, it was refreshing to see that Sea Pines had not changed a lot over the years. Much of Hilton Head has changed tremendously but standing there on the walkway to the beach in front of our former home, you could almost imagine that 13 years had not passed by since the last time I had stood in that exact place looking out at the ocean. Everything looked just as I remembered it.

Anna and I started our Saturday morning off with a brisk walk around Harbor Town. We didn't linger very long as it was a chilly, windy morning. Their good friends, Brian and Spring and daughter, Harley, snapped this picture of the two of us.

We left Harbor Town and headed out to the two Tanger outlet malls where we did a little shopping at the Bare Escentuals outlet store, Talbots, J. Crew, and Banana Republic. We picked up some great bargains and did a little Christmas shopping as well.

On Sunday Anna and I joined Andrew at the Concourse and enjoyed seeing all of the fabulous antique cars. These were the creme de la creme of antique automobiles. Since BMW was the key sponsor, they had many (if not all) of their latest models on display. Here I am my with favorite of the day - the 2012 Rolls Royce Phantom coupe.

Too bad I couldn't drive it home!

On the needlepoint front this week, the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner arrived from Amy's. This is Amy's current Home Study project. I couldn't wait to get it on the stretcher bars and try it out on my new floor stand. Mounting it on the stretcher bars proved to be a challenge. The third attempt was the charm. The problem for me was to get an even tautness across the 40 inches of canvas. I could get either end of the canvas taut enough but not the middle. Amy came to my rescue with a few suggestions and also pointed me towards her August 2011 newsletter in which she described mounting the Thanksgiving banner on stretcher bars. A little steam in all the right places was the trick to getting my banner mounted to my satisfaction.

I have set up the canvas and floor stand in my office. It will be a little easier to work something this size in a more open space than I have in my den where I usually stitch.

The only problem with having this canvas in the office is that it is a terrible temptation to take a few minutes out of the work day to stitch. I had thought all day yesterday and today that I could give in to that temptation for just a little bit but Work prevented that. I've stitched a little bit of the border.

I'm looking forward to a block of time at some point this week (but certainly over the weekend) to just sit and do some serious stitching. I may move the floor stand into the den for the weekend stitching - can't miss the football games.  Amy has written another fabulous stitch guide - you aren't surprised, are you? The diagrams for the border are excellent and cover all four corners. You can't see it in my pictures but Amy gave us a beautiful pear magnet that was designed just for this project. Thanks, Amy!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and find some time to stitch!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What a Fun Halloween Season!

I hate to see the Halloween season come to an end! I have really enjoyed all my Halloween decor and will miss it so much when it is packed away this week. Too bad I have no needlepoint to show for Thanksgiving. One of these days I'll have to choose something from Melissa Shirley or Kelly Clark to stitch in honor of Thanksgiving.

Just because the Halloween season is officially over on Monday, it doesn't mean the Halloween stitching has to come to an end. I made some nice progress on the NeedleDeeva Frankenstein canvas this week.

On Saturday I worked on the black and orange background around Frank's face. It's hard to see the stitch but the orange dots are French knots using a Kreinik thread, a tent stitch in a black Petite Very Velvet, and a continuous Mosaic stitch in Elegance. In person, it's a great stitch - wish you could see it better in the photo. This area kept me company while I watched the Georgia-Florida game yesterday. It's about time Georgia beat that particular rival!

Last week I promised you a picture of the Bottle Bouquet canvas.

The flowers are stitched using River Silk ribbon. The stitch itself is a French knot on a stalk. The beads in the center of the flowers are such a beautiful dark honey color - very nice! This bottle was a quick stitch but also one of the smallest bottles in the group. I think the others will take a little more time.

On Saturday I tackled the assembly of my K's floor stand in preparation for the arrival of the Christmas banner this week from Amy's. First I assembled the Evertite stretchers. The 40" length of the stretcher presented a challenge - just because of the length. I hated to do this, but I had to get the hammer out to encourage all the sides to come together. I used a folded towel over the bar to protect it from the hammer. I'm glad that the sides are only 11" in length! Once the Evertites were assembled, I moved on to the floor stand and the arms to hold the frame.

While I have the basic instructions for the K's Creation floor stand, there weren't any instructions for the assembly of the arms that hold the frame. After an hour or so of trial and error (many!) and a trip to Lowe's for a couple of washers and wing nuts, I finally assembled the stand.

Wow! Is it big! If some of you who are stitching the Christmas banner have purchased a similar set-up for your floor stand and are looking at how mine is set up, just realize that this might not be a correct assembly. From what I can tell, this will work. But only time will tell! I set this up in the living room and you can get an idea of the size of the assembled frame in relation to a fairly large leather chair in the background and my fireplace. I may have to do my stitching on the banner in my home office where I have room to maneuver the stand around and can move my chair up to the stand instead of the other way around.

Andrew, Anna, and I are headed to Hilton Head next weekend. I haven't been there in almost eight years and can only imagine the changes to familiar places since then. I imagine there won't be too many familiar places any more! My family had a home there from the mid-'60s through the late '90s so I have seen lots of changes to that island over the years. Andrew will be covering the Concourse d'Elegance for the BMW blog for which he writes. BMW is one of the major sponsors for the Concourse and the organizers have provided Andrew and Anna with a room at the beautiful Inn at Harbour Town (I'll be at the Crowne Plaza) and passes for all of us to the Concourse. Anna and I may make an appearance at the Concourse to check out the cars but I think the outlet mall and other Hilton Head shops may be calling our names instead. We'll have a fun weekend and November is always a beautiful time to be at the South Carolina coast.

Hope you have a wonderful week ahead with no leftover Halloween candy to tempt you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Abundance of Needlepoint This Week

This week I felt like Christmas arrived two months early with all of the needlepoint canvases and finished pieces that arrived on my doorstep. Just a few weeks ago I packed up a box of finished canvases to send to Marlene in San Francisco. I had no idea that I would see the two Halloween pieces in time for Halloween this year. But, they are here! Here are a couple of pictures of "boo".

The day before I sent "boo" off to be finished, I was shopping at Hobby Lobby and found some cute Halloween buttons which were perfect additions to this canvas. You will see that I added a little spider and a bat. I liked that they had a matte finish and were on the smallish side so that they weren't the focus of the finished piece. Marlene and I had talked about finishing "boo" as an easel-back but I am much happier with this type of finishing. "boo" is sitting in front of my huge Jim Shore black cat holding her lantern and sitting atop a pumpkin. She is surrounded by the black feather wreath I found at Target a few years ago.

I also now have my Kelly Clark Halloween apple in time for Halloween this year. I will definitely have to do the others in this series for next year. The back of this ornament is finished in a deep orange raw silk.

There were four finished Christmas pieces in the box from Marlene as well. Again, we had talked about finishing Noel as an easel back but obviously they thought better of that idea and finished it in this cute way.

I also have three new Christmas ornaments to add to the tree this year or give as a gift.

I couldn't be happier with all of these finished pieces from Marlene. It is such a gratifying feeling to have six completely finished projects from 2011 in my hands for use this year!

Now, on to the canvases that arrived this week. I now have a Kelly Clark witch hat (skeleton and snake) from The Bristly Thistle.  NeedleDeeva's Hooty was also in the same box.

The other new canvas that arrived this week came from Amy's in Memphis. This is from Melissa Shirley's new series of fairy tale witches. May I introduce Helowise.

This is really a beautiful canvas and Amy has chosen a wonderful palette of thread colors for Helowise. It's fun to stitch the brightly colored Halloween ornaments but this is a nice change of pace to use more subtle autumn colors. I wish the photograph did the colors justice! Amy has written a great stitch guide for Helowise.

On the stitching front this week, I finished stitching Fraidy Cat. He was such fun and Robin did a fantastic job with the stitch guide and thread choice.

I had such fun stitching Fraidy that as soon as he came off the stretcher bars, I put Frankenstein on in his place. I started Frank on Saturday.

How do you like my little bit of bat bling on this canvas? I saw this bat magnet on Amy's website and knew I had to have him for all of my Halloween canvases.

The only piece I didn't photograph this week is Bottle Bouquets. I made some nice progress on the first bottle and actually finished stitching the bottle and have almost finished stitching the flowers and leaves. I think it's the smallest bottle of the group so it's no wonder it has gone so quickly. I'll show you a finished bottle and flowers next week.

My bank account is telling me that that's enough needlepoint for one week! I still have the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner to arrive next week but that should be it for awhile. I have more than enough projects to keep me busy well in to the early part of 2012!

Hope your week has been filled with time to stitch! I think I spent more time this week looking at newly received projects and finished pieces than actually stitching. It's another beautiful autumn day and I think Frankenstein is going to see some time spent outdoors being stitched today.

Have a wonderful week ahead!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Perfect Fall Weekend and My Small Obsession with Eagles

I hope you have enjoyed as beautiful a weekend as I have here in Georgia! We have had bright blue skies, mild temperatures, and just a hint of color in the leaves. And, I only swatted one mosquito the entire time I was outside yesterday. I took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday to spend the better part of the day on the patio reading and stitching.

Stitching continued this week on Fraidy Cat and he remains such a fun project.

The main focus of my stitching this week was on the background around Fraidy Cat. Robin has used a composite stitch in this area that is completed in several steps. I took this photo of Fraidy yesterday during the morning but I finished stitching the rest of background during the Georgia-Vanderbilt game (Go Dawgs!) last night. The spider up at the top still needs his legs, eyes, and teeth but I think the next section to work on will be Fraidy himself. I've had such a good time with Fraidy that I called Michele at The Bristly Thistle and ordered Hooty from her (and a Kelly Clark witch's hat). The stitch guide for Hooty is featured in the latest issue of Needlepoint Now.  Fraidy, Frankenstein, and Hooty will make a great trio of Creepy Characters! If you love Halloween stitching, the Creeps are a must have!

In other needlepoint news, my bottle bouquet canvas (Mary Lake Thompson/Melissa Shirley), threads and stitch guide arrived from Pocket Full of Stitches. I'll be stitching this bottle by bottle starting with the bottle and flowers on the left.

The stitch guide is by Laura Taylor of Aristeia but with some thread modifications by Rhea at Pocket Full of Stitches. The first bottle uses threads like Panache, Kreinik, cotton floss, River Silks ribbon, and Gloriana ribbon. I have been wanting to stitch with ribbons and it looks like I will have lots of opportunities to do so with this canvas. I hope to get this on the stretcher bars today.

I'll have a little bit of spring and summer to stitch all winter long with this project. Each month PFOS will send a new thread kit for one of the bottles.

Have I told you about my recent obsession with eagles? I suppose an eight month obsession is recent, isn't it? I started watching the live camera in the eagle nest at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens back in March not long after the three eaglets hatched. It was fascinating to watch the Mom and Dad feed and protect the eaglets, make continuing improvements to the nest, and, in general, just live their lives. Until the morning of April 26, when those of us watching the cam (thousands of us) noticed that Mom had not been back to the nest for an unusually long time. The terrible news came later in the morning that an eagle had been struck by a jet landing at the airport adjacent to the Botanical Gardens. It was confirmed later in the day that it was the Mom eagle. I think I went through a box of tissues that day! To make a long story (5 months) short, the decision was made by the Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Wildlife Center of Virginia to remove the eaglets from the nest and take them to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro, VA to be cared for until they could be released back into the wild. The general consensus was that Dad Norfolk would be unable to feed three quickly growing eaglets all by himself and that all three eaglets had a better chance of making it if they were removed to the WCV where they could be cared for. The great staff at the WCV built them a nest in a large flight pen and set up a live camera so that those of us who had followed the nest at the Gardens could continue to watch the progress of the eaglets.

I watched all through the late spring and summer as they grew, exercised their wings, made short hops to perches near their nest, and finally their move to the big flight pen where they could begin practicing flying. In late July, the three eaglets were taken to Berkeley Plantation along the banks of the James River for their release. One of the three (she's called NX for the lettering on her leg band) was outfitted with a GPS transmitter. The eaglets were released and flew away as expected except for NX. She flew just a short distance and landed on the ground in the woods. She was re-captured and it was determined that the trip from Waynesboro to the James River, the July heat, and the outfitting of the GPS unit had exhausted her and brought out her lack of maturity. So NX was taken back to the WCV  for some rest and a little more time to mature. She was successfully released in August and now her GPS unit sends data once a week or so on her whereabouts. She's about 60 miles from her release site now and spends most of her time along rivers in Northern Virginia not far from the Chesapeake Bay.

Yesterday, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens dedicated their new eagle plaza to Mom Norfolk with the unveiling of a beautiful bronze statue of an eagle in flight in her honor. There were over 1,000 people in attendance and I would have given anything to have been there. The thousands of us eagle-obsessed fans are now known as Eagle Nation and we have helped raise the money for the new plaza at the Gardens and have helped the Wildlife Center of Virginia win a $225,000 award from Chase Bank Foundation for the work that they do at their center. It's been an amazing 8 months!

And now the best part - Dad Norfolk has recently been photographed in the Gardens at the 2011 nest site with a new lady in his life. They have been making additions to the nest (nestorations) although mating and nesting won't take place until January or February. Evidently their early work on the nest is part of their bonding process as a new couple. We don't know where this female eagle came from but she is a big, beautiful bird. Both birds were seen flying over the Gardens yesterday during the dedication ceremony. I won't say I went through a box of tissues yesterday but as I followed the events at the Gardens via the internet yesterday, I did find myself reaching for them quite a few times. I'm excited for what promises to be new beginning for the Norfolk eagles in 2012. I'll also be watching the nest cam for the Decorah (Iowa) eagles who are also making additions to their 2011 nest.

Ok, I've gotten the eagles out of my system for today and now you know about my other obsession besides needlepoint. I apologize in advance when tidbits about the eagles and the other critters I am watching at the WCV leak out. It's an obsession. What else can I say?

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My New Halloween Friends

This week, just as I was trying to make a decision on which canvas to pull out of the stash to stitch, two new Halloween friends arrived on my doorstep. Meet Fraidy Cat and Frankenstein from NeedleDeeva.

The stitch guides are by Robin King and she has really pulled out all the stops on these Creepy Characters. There are no less than 23 threads in this one character! Fortunately, many of the threads can be used on the other characters. Robin's guides are written and illustrated with excellent attention to detail so that along with the photo of the finished ornament, there is very little doubt as to how a particular stitch or section should look. Thanks, Robin!

I wasn't able to begin stitching Fraidy Cat until Friday evening but there is already a good bit of progress to show you on Sunday morning. I completed the two green/yellow borders yesterday and this morning have just completed the skip tent purple section that is the background for the spider web. Stitching the spider web is next on the agenda.

It didn't take long for me to realize that it will be difficult to not stitch all of the Creepy Characters. They will make a great quick, small project to have on hand especially if you have a larger, long-term project in the works - as I will as soon as my next Home Study with Amy arrives in November. I can't wait for the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner to arrive!

It's time for Sunday lunch and football, so I'm out of here for now! Hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy this wonderful fall weather!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Decor

The Halloween tree is up in all of its orange and black glory. The sad thing about it is the lack of any stitched ornaments. Next year will be different and hopefully I'll have many to show you. But, the tree is fun with lots of sparkly garland and ornaments.

I love the top of my tree with its sprays of candy corn and gum drops. There is also a bow with pumpkins and black and orange metallic ribbon streamers.

The cute shop here in Augusta where I buy a lot of my holiday decor, Cudos, had a fun set of face decorations for pumpkins. Here's the ultra-friendly pumpkin who sits at my front door.

Doesn't he have a sweet face? My daughter-in-law, Anna, was with me at Cudos this weekend for a wreath making class and while I was there, I bought a similar kit to the pumpkin for a Thanksgiving turkey. Anna and I had fun in the class and learned lots of creative things to do with grapevine wreaths. We also got a preview of the wreaths they are preparing for Christmas. Wow!

The cold I had last weekend continued in to this past week. I finally went to the doctor on Thursday and was given some antibiotics and some prescription strength cough syrup. I can't remember when I have felt that bad. I'm on the mend now - no more fever and the cough is a little less bothersome every day. But as a result, there wasn't much stitching accomplished last week. Last night, I finished the beading on Keep Calm and Carry On crown bringing that stitching project to an end.  Here she is -

Now, what comes next? Time to look through the canvases and figure out which one will be brought out into the spotlight. I still have several canvases to work on which I took with me to Amy's back in the spring. Linda Carter Holman's Island Lady with the basket of fruits and flowers or LCH's Belles with the large hats and high tea? Check back with me next week and see which one I choose.

Have a great week with lots of time for stitching!