Two small finishes and another family wedding

Happy November! It's only been three weeks since my last post, but it seems like a lot longer since I've visited with you, doesn't it? Since then, there's been some stitching, some traveling, some new recipes being tried, and now I'm getting ready for my favorite thing in the world--a visit with my little grandson this weekend. I really can't put into words how wonderful it is having him here on the East Coast. I know, I know... for many of you a four hour drive sounds horrible, but, honestly, it feels so easy after our day-long travels to San Diego, California all those years. Like many things in life... it's all relative!

I have a couple of finishes to share with you today... The first one may surprise you because I'm not a coffee drinker at all! But, this one is not for me--it was stitched as a birthday gift for my dear daughter-in-law who is. She has a small corner spot in her new kitchen which is perfect for her coffee/tea station and I thought this little piece would be a nice addition to the tiered tray she has on display there. This is called "Coffee First" and is another charming design by one of my favorite designers, With Thy Needle and Thread. 

My finish of "Coffee First" by With Thy Needle and Thread

For this piece, I used 40 ct. vintage country mocha Newcastle linen using a combination of DMC and overdyed threads. The main changes I made were to change the hair and skin colors to resemble my daughter-in-law a bit more (although she certainly doesn't dress like that little woman--ha ha!) and I used a different color of thread for the dress. I changed it to Gentle Arts "Blue Jay" using the darker blue portion of the skein for the skirt and the lighter blue portion for the blouse. The other change I made was to add a comma after the word "first." Here is a close-up for you:

Don't you love those tiny shoes?!
To finish it into a little pillow for the tiered tray I added two coordinating fabrics, a jute bow, and a covered button. When making pillows for tiered trays I like to add a bit of accent fabric to the bottom to raise it up from the tray so the design is clearly visible. I love the twisty vines of coffee beans sprouting from the giant cup, don't you? And if anyone is wondering about those tasty looking Banana Carrot Muffins in the first  photo, you can find the recipe linked in this post from August.


My other finish is my ornament for October which is a delightful freebie that can be found on my friend, Melisa's, "Pinker n Punkin" blog post right here. I love the fact that not only will this adorn my Christmas tree, but it can be displayed all winter long. It is called Winter Saltbox and is one of a series of saltbox freebies that she has designed. I know I'll be stitching a few more in the future!  Of course, the beautiful blue house is what drew me to this one immediately. Isn't it sweet? I love how it turned out--thank you so much, Melisa, for sharing your talent so generously with all of us stitchers!

My finish of "Winter Saltbox"

I did make a few changes to the colors, stitched the cardinals "over one," added more snowflakes, used satin stitch on the snowman's hatband, changed the door to red, and used smyrna stitches for the snowman's eyes and buttons. The colors of blue I used in the house and stars are DMC 930 and 931. Here is a close-up so you can better see the tiny birds...

Teeny cardinals stitched "over one" on 40 ct. linen

The only other stitching news I have is that, after two years, our little group of four friends was able to reunite for our mini-retreat last weekend. We rented an old 19th century era farmhouse in Ohio and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves... stayed up way too late, ate way too much, and stitched and chatted and laughed the entire time. The very first year we did this was 2010 according to my blog records and we've only missed one year since (I think!) due to Covid. If you aren't one for huge and sometimes expensive cross stitch retreats (those aren't for me!), I highly recommend this method of renting an Airbnb with a few close friends for a few days and having a mini-retreat!

Our third and final family wedding of 2021 took place in late October in a city I'd never been to before: Louisville, Kentucky. Actually, I had only been in the state of Kentucky once in my life and that was for a work trip my church youth fellowship group took when I was about 12 years old. We traveled all the way from New York state to a very rural KY  community to undertake various projects to help them out. As I recall, I was on the committee to paint the inside of the church. Yikes! Not sure how they turned a group of junior high kids loose and let them paint the church, but they did. I wonder if they had to repaint it after we left :) 

Anyway, Louisville was a very interesting city and I wish we had had more time to spend there. It was a real treat as all of my sons were there along with my daughter-in-law, my middle son's girlfriend, my youngest son's girlfriend, and my grandson. As always, we rented an Airbnb where we could all stay together--so much more enjoyable than being stuck in individual hotel rooms (not to mention less expensive!). The house was an old 1900 era Victorian house with lots of charm: very high ceilings, unique fireplaces and tile, and a steep carved staircase. In the kitchen, there was a mural of the house painted on one wall and that was the first time I noticed the owl perched on the top of the house. What a fun addition to the roofline of this old home. It was plenty big for the nine of us and we would definitely return.

The city of Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and the 29th most populous in the U.S. It would have been fun to explore more of the city, but with the wedding and (rainy, chilly, outdoor!) reception taking up most of Saturday, we didn't have much free time. We did spend Sunday morning visiting the Big Four Bridge, an 1895 railroad bridge which connects the cities of Louisville in Kentucky with Jeffersonville in Indiana. The Ohio River, which runs under the bridge, is at its widest point (one mile wide) just north of Louisville. In 2013, the Big Four Bridge was converted into a pedestrian/bike route so we decided to make the 2-mile round trip trek on Sunday morning morning. Although the clouds threatened rain, we still enjoyed great views of the skyline and the other bridges that traversed the Ohio River. 

View of the Louisville skyline from the Big Four Bridge

My family beginning the hike across the bridge in the top photo. My grandson was in his stroller going over, but on the return trip he insisted on walking most of the way!

A very curious toddler fascinated by the bark of this tree in the park near the Big Four Bridge. He's getting big, isn't he? I sure wish I could slow time down...

After one half of the family departed for the airport for their flights back to Washington, DC, the rest of us (my husband, middle son, and his girlfriend), enjoyed a hike through nearby Cave Hill Cemetery. I have always enjoyed strolling through cemeteries for some reason--I find them to be very tranquil and they seem to help me simply relax and slow down. Now, I don't think I'd feel the same way if I were walking through a cemetery at night!

The leaves were just beginning to change in the cemetery

This trio of cherubs marked three members of the same family who died before the age of one. So very sad...

Some cypress knees growing alongside a peaceful lake

The more unusual gravestones always fascinate me. Remarking on the one in the lower left, I said to my husband, "Look--there's one that looks like a tree." He said, "That's because it is a tree." When we went to investigate--no! It was a very, very realistic looking sculpture!

The most famous inhabitant of Cave Hill Cemetery is the boxer, Muhammad Ali. I was expecting a grand monument, but his grave was actually quite simple and tasteful.

Brightly colored autumn leaves were beginning to carpet the grass in some places. Glad I don't have to rake a cemetery!

So, that's it for the family weddings for this year--whew! We drove to all three weddings (in New York, Connecticut, and Kentucky) for a total of over 2400 miles. Honestly, I'm welcoming the next six months of being able to cozy up at home with an occasional visit to see my grandson in Maryland. I think I'm just plain worn right out. But, it truly was wonderful seeing members of both sides of the family after the long Covid-enforced separations.

I do have a couple of recipes to share with you today--both quite healthy! Like many of you, I'm trying to cut back on sugar and lately find myself attracted to more savory than sweet foods. But, this cookie recipe was quite unusual in that there is no added sugar. In fact it can be made with just two ingredients: oatmeal and bananas! I did add the optional cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins that the recipe mentioned and they were quite a tasty treat. Definitely had a different texture, but for anyone trying to cut back on sugar and eat healthier, I can highly recommend these. You can find the recipe right here.

Healthy Banana-Oatmeal Cookies

I took some of my lentil soup to our recent cross stitch retreat and everyone loved it so I thought I'd share that recipe here on my blog, too. This is from the cookbook by Lorraine Wallace called "Mr. Sunday's Soups"--a great book filled with many delicious sounding soup recipes. You can find the recipe right here. I followed it exactly as written except I omit the green pepper (which my husband and I really don't care for at all!). 

I love making and freezing a big pot of lentil soup in portions for winter dinners!


I'll leave you with this little pumpkin at Halloween. I know I'm a bit partial, but isn't he adorable? He looks just a bit unsure of what the day was all about as he prepared to carve pumpkins with mommy and daddy. He's got an ever-present car in his one hand--can't seem to go anywhere without one these days!

My lil' punkin!

So, next up is Thanksgiving. We are not hosting it this year so I am only making two pies, a tray of cookies, and our traditional strawberry-pretzel salad. How about  you? I'll also be doing some last minute gift ornament stitching and trying to figure out how to display my Christmas tree with a very active 17 month old visiting for a week! Any suggestions? I'm so excited that everyone will be home for Christmas as we haven't all been together for the holiday since 2018! 

Enjoy this mild fall weather while you can... I've heard the typical cold November weather is moving in over the weekend. It's honestly been the nicest fall I can remember, hasn't it? Thank you for your visit today--hope I've given you a bit of inspiration or made you smile somewhere along the way. Take care now, everyone, and happy stitching! Bye for now...

Source: stitchingdream

Two small finishes and another family wedding