Home Comforts

Thank you for all of your birthday greetings and great comments on Vonna's mouse pillow and the mail art. I have been stitching away this week on my PiF gifts. I'm so tempted to share photos but I will wait until they are all finished, mailed and received. In the meantime, to the right is a picture of my start on The Sampler Girl's Jane Austen Sampler from the Gift of Stitching magazine. I love this quote, it is too true.

You may have noticed this gorgeous pillow over at Mary Kathryn's blog. She treated me this week to an incredibly lovely gift, a monogram pillow on black toile that she finished so beautifully. It is my new treasure, and every time I look at it, I smile with happiness. It is a wonderful addition to our home!

There are comforts to be had away from home, however .... Yesterday was my fourth wedding anniversary, and tonight my husband and I are dining and staying overnight at a historic bed and breakfast called the William Penn Inn. Our package includes roses and champagne in our room and I am so looking forward to the mini-get away!

One last "Home"-themed note: Would anyone like my "Home of a Needleworker" chart? Since I finished the design, I don't think I'll need it again, and I'd be happy to send it to the first person who leaves me a comment and asks for it.

More birthday love and Malaysian Mail Art

Subtitled: Summer House - Two Ways!

Yesterday my hubbie brought me a fat letter from the post which contained a birthday card and wee present from the ever-talented, thoughtful, generous, creative and kind Super-Star Vonna! She stitched me the most darling over-one version of LHN's "Summer House." As I opened the envelope, I exclaimed, "Oh, it's a fob!" and my husband said, "A bob?" And I said, "No, a fob, a scissor fob," and he said, "Oh, I thought it was a pillow for a mouse." At which point I was laughing out loud. You see, ladies, I have never owned a fob before . Now I know that will come as a shock to those of you have dozens of them, but I am still relatively new to the wonderful world of alternative finishes. :) Hence, the reason my hubbie thought it was a mouse pillow. Vonna, you know I love this beauty as I have already gushed via email, but thank you again, my friend!

Disclaimer: my camera is really awful with details, so I made a rather terrible scan to try to capture the details of this gorgeous stitching. Wish I could show it off better.

In other news, my mail art partner, Zalita, let me know that the mail art I sent her arrived safely to the other side of the world. Vonna doesn't know this, but I had selected summer house for this project along with some other Little House Needleworks motifs. This was also my first mail art exchange and I am pleased that everything arrived safely and really enjoyed meeting a new international friend.

Birthday Love

Yesterday was a really special day and I felt very blessed and appreciated by my sweet friends and loved ones. So many loving gifts and messages that I feel truly overwhelmed with gratitude! I have forgotten the source now, but somewhere I read that Henri Nouwen said Christians should always celebrate birthdays because it is like saying, "It is good that you exist. It is good that God made you and I love that you are alive and in this world." It is such a perfect expression of love.

I woke up to some great e-cards in my inbox from Will and Cynthia and my dear Mother-in-love. Angie sent me a gift certificate to spend at my favorite crafty store, eHandcrafts. I am going to love using that! Karen and Dave had already blessed me with a generous Amazon gift certificate on Monday (thanks again, you two!). As if that were not enough I had an email stating that I had WON a drawing I entered at a British stitchy magazine for this fabulous needlework kit! Imagine that! I don't think I've ever won anything, and to win on my birthday was such a delightful surprise!

I spent most of the day in New Jersey as Tuesdays are my counseling day. Mike said, "Treat yourself to some Starbucks on the way in," so I ordered an Orange Mocha and got a bran muffin for the drive. My mum called on the way and sang a jazzy happy birthday to me. :) I also received phone calls from my brothers and sister-in-law Sarah. Mom and Sarah say they have some special treats on the way. :)

My first counselee of the day, a dear woman named Michelle that I care for very much, had very thoughtfully remembered the day and gave me two beautiful jar candles, in Black Cherry and Lily of the Valley. Yum! She also spoiled me terribly by making the most delicious homemade bruchetta and a cheesecake for me to take home.

I spent my lunch hour with Greta, a Mennonite woman I've been counseling for several months. She took me to their Mennonite market which was stocked with beautiful Garden State produce: fat tomatoes, gorgeous strawberries, fresh asparagus and greens, and the most amazing hanging baskets of begonias and all sorts of flowers. I could not resist bringing home a tray full of fresh potted herbs, which now line my windowsill: Sweet Marjoram, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Sage, and Lavender. This may have been the highlight of my day!

Check out this lavender!

Upon arriving home, I was greeted by all sorts of messages in my email and a few lovely packages. My kind friend Mindy had sent the sweetest sterling silver brooch in the shape of a lovely pair of scissors. Our best buds the Nielsens, who unfailingly remember our birthdays, had selected a book from my wishlist: The Forgotten Sayings of the Desert Mothers. Thanks, guys! I am really looking forward to reading this one.

Dad Vendsel sent another Amazon gift certificate, so I will really have fun selecting some books from my wishlist. All my dear friends in the online stitching groups I belong to had posted messages to say happy birthday, which was very touching.

We got changed and went to my favorite neighborhood restaurant where we had a delicious meal. I ordered my favorite bottle of beer, Newcastle, and fried asparagus with lemon horseradish sauce for an appetizer. Karen told me I should "eat something fattening" for my birthday, so there you go, Karen! We also got my all time fav-o tuscan bruchetta salad and I had garlic-herb cream cheese stuffed chicken breast with rosemary mashed potatoes and green beans! By the time dinner arrived I could only eat a few bites so I have most of that left over for today.
We then walked around Barnes and Noble and I picked out a couple of bargain books I have admired by Susan Branch. One is a pretty book of days, and I thought it would be an appropriate birthday activity to start a private journal about the next year of my life. My mum said this morning that she predicted "29" would be one of the most fulfilling years of my life ... so, we will see, Mom!

Mike's very special birthday gift to me was two tickets to see Harry Connick, Jr. in concert here in Philadelphia. He is coming next month and I am so thrilled. I adore his music and saw him in concert years ago at A&M and he gives a wonderful show. For those who might not be familiar with him, he is an amazing jazz musician from New Orleans. I belive this concert helps to benefit Hurricane Katrina rebuilding.

We came home and watched a movie, and I put the final stitches into a project I have been working on since January.

I received my last birthday greeting of the day at 11:30 pm by my friend Mignon, shortly before turning in to sleep soundly. What a day. Thank you for ALL the love!!!!!!!

"The Potting Shed" Gift Received

Goldie let me know that she received the needlecase I stitched for her, so now I can show you the pictures. (I actually nicked her pics because I didn't get very good ones.) I sitched Little House Needleworks' "Herb Garden" on a 32 ct. hand-dyed lugana from Silkweaver. It is lined with some garden-themed fabric that complimented the colors really well. I made a little pocket for notions and sewed on a ribbon for holding scissors and three Kelmscott thread rings for holding 3 of Carrie's Threads. I sent some yummy Burt's Bees soaps and garden stickers for fun, too.

I'm so glad you liked it, Goldie! This was my first needlecase finish so I am relieved that it turned out ok. :)

Sweet Vonna

Vonna, you have outdone yourself this time!

I had the good fortune of having Vonna as a partner on the Stitching Bloggers "Potting Shed Exchange" (garden theme) and Vonna stitched a cheerful Waxing Moon design called "Love builds a garden" and finished it as a picket fence standup display. Vonna I am dying to know if you created this little fence all by yourself... it is so perfectly matched to the cross stitch design that I think you must have! The colors and shape of the flowers, even the little fence, all suit the stitching so well. Your finishing creativity is absolutely amazing. I have placed it with my plants in the window where I think it looks quite at home.

She also treated me to some garden goodies -- soft pink garden gloves and matching trowel, a cute little ladybug ornament and some mini terra cotta pots to grow daisies and marigolds.

Vonna, big hugs to you. I was having a really "down" day yesterday and when I stepped outside my apartment door to discover your HUGE package, it really brightened my spirits! Thank you, my friend! I know this was a labor of love, and it has truly blessed me.