Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 Stitching, and a lot of it!

As my faithful readers know, stitching takes me to my happy place!  So, this means 2023 must have been overwhelmingly cheerful - seven completed projects, and two more well underway!  Let's go to my virtual sewing room!

In my January 11, 2023 post, I showed pictures of my first blackwork piece in progress, a cross-stitch destined for my oldest sister.  Initially I had planned to give her only the finished cross-stitch, but once I decided that I would hand-carry it to her in October (on the same trip as our daughter's wedding), I was inspired to bring her a fully completed pillow.

This project tested my ingenuity.  First, I wanted to "hide" the back of the cross-stitch.  I devised a plan to sew the cross stitch onto a solid piece of fabric, which would then be sewn to a second piece of fabric to form the pillow case.  Second, it seemed ugly to leave the raw edge of the cross-stitch fabric in full view, so I took a page from some of my past Christmas ornaments and added ribbon around the edges.  Third, I discovered "invisible" zippers while researching how to sew zippers, and I decided to give it a try.   This also meant learning how to change the foot on my Mom's sewing machine to an invisible zipper foot - for many of you long-time sewers out there, this process may seem old hat to you, but I had to call in my local engineer (Spousal Unit) to help me with that one!

The next large project of 2023 was a Christmas stocking for our son-in-law-to-be.  In fact, it was finished the night before we would fly to Cincinnati for the wedding!

This time last year, I had completed a stocking for our daughter (see my December 21, 2022 post).  My heart danced to see both stockings hung on the mantelpiece at their new house for this Christmas!





Of course, in the midst of all this I also crafted the wedding handkerchief for our daughter (previously shown in my Wedding Bells post on October 30, 2023).

On one of our recent visits to the UK, I came across designs for cross-stitch bookmarks, and they were perfect choices as Christmas gifts for our son and daughter.

Several years ago, I instituted the tradition of selecting a Christmas ornament design for each of the kids (including our son-in-law).  This year, to commemorate the new house for our daughter and son-in-law, I created a single ornament for the couple.  And the Monopoly ornament is for #1 Son, reflecting our shared love of board games.

And now to works in progress!  As soon as I wrapped up the Christmas stocking for our son-in-law, I embarked on the new stocking for #1 Son.  (I have "child" stockings for our daughter and son, which we have used for years.  Two years ago, I offered to "replace" them with adult stockings, and this is the design chosen by our son.)

Now that Christmas is past, and it is obvious the stocking will not be completed until NEXT Christmas, I am going to take a little break from it, allowing me to return to my 2023 Stitch-A-Long.  I wrote about this project in my January 11, 2023 post.  "During my time in the blogosphere, I have seen many mentions of stitch-a-longs, and viewed creativity in action when my fellow bloggers post pictures.  This year, I finally decided to jump in.   Somebody out there introduced me to Loretta Oliver, and I subscribed to her email for access to free cross-stitch patterns.  On December 29, when the Great Big List of Stitchalongs to Join in 2023 popped into my email inbox, I decided to take a look.  Imagine my delight when I found The Steady Thread Botanical Blackwork StitchalongFlowers AND blackwork, a perfect combination for me!!!  And it's free!"

March 21 marked the last time I took a picture of this project (12 hexagons completed), but at the moment I suspended stitching, I had 36 full hexagons in the design, so that must have been the beginning of September! (Steady Thread released one hexagon per week, so I calculated 36 weeks.)

I have 13 hexagons to go, plus the leaves that frame the pattern.  I chose my own color palette for this project, and so I will also have to think through my approach to the leaves and stems!  As most of you know, I am a "follow the recipe" person, so this is stretching me (just a little!!!!)  *NOTE: when I went to the Steady Thread website to retrieve the 13 remaining hexagons and the leafy frame, I learned that the Stitch-A-Long is closed and there is a charge for any designs I need.  It's not a lot of money, and I certainly don't begrudge the artist who created this lovely design - just a memo to me for the future!


I asked for the above book for Christmas, and I leave you with this Navajo song (from Night Chant, for the ninth song).  Praying that 2024 brings you the desires you hold close in your heart.  Happy New Year!

May their roads home be on the trail of peace.

Happily may they all return.

In beauty I walk.

With beauty before me, I walk.

With beauty behind me, I walk.

With beauty above and about me, I walk.

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.


Joining LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday - prompt this week is: Does your family have a favorite appetizer? Bean dip.  Sausage, Pepper Jack and salsa - need I write more? Can you share the recipe?  See photo below.  Would you rather have buffalo chicken dip or artichoke dip?  Artichoke dip - sometimes the buffalo is too spicy for me.  What do you try first when you go to a party with snacks?  I prefer savory snacks, and I like to try different things, so I would gravitate to anything new that is also savory.

Linking to Thankful Thursday

Linking to Slow Sunday Stitching

 Slow Sunday Stitching

Linking to Needle and Thread Thursday

Needle and Thread Thursday 

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Heaven Everywhere


Maybe it’s that I am getting older and thinking more about “legacy” – the world that we are leaving to future generations.

Maybe it’s the sermon during Mass that encourages me to “bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners”. (Isaiah 61:1)

Maybe it’s Christmas song lyrics, especially “Heaven Everywhere”, by Francesca Battistelli, reminding me of the potential for positive change if people choose to embrace the joy, love and hope that is the true meaning of Christmas.

Whatever it is, I am motivated to share a few photos from this summer.  They illustrate a minuscule piece of this planet we call home, a little corner that I desire to leave in better shape than I found it.  Maybe these snapshots will be “glad tidings” for you, or a balm for an aching heart.   And just maybe, they might inspire you to make change where you can.  

I hear the bells, they're ringing loud and clear
You can't help but love this time of year
It's Christmastime, there's something in the air
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere

Somehow there's a little more of love
Maybe there's a little less of us
Or maybe we're just slightly more aware
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere

It's the smile on a man who has finally found hope
It's the tears of a mother whose child has come home
It's the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere

It's funny how it takes a holiday
To show us how the world could truly change
If we all took the time to really care
There'd be a little more of Heaven everywhere

It's the grace that we show to a world that needs hope
It's giving our lives knowing they're not our own
It's the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Hallelujah (hallelujah)
Hallelujah (ooh)





It's the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere
There's a little bit of Heaven everywhere

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains

- Francesca Battistelli 

Audio of song 


I am linking to I Like Thursday with Leeanna of Not Afraid of Color.  The prompt this week is "Do you unwrap gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?  Do you prefer Christmas or New Year's?  Do you have a customary way to spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Day?"  We unwrap our gifts on Christmas Day, starting with the items that Santa put in our stocking (if we have been good).  We don't have any traditions for New Year's Eve/Day, so I strongly prefer Christmas given the joyful hoopla, and celebrating the birth of our Savior.  

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone!

Linking to Thankful Thursday

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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