Family,  Holidays,  Stitching

Secret Samplers

Each year, Mom and I exchange stitched samplers during the Christmas season, and it's one of our most favorite times of the year. Last year was the one exception bc we were both very, very busy and never got around to getting samplers picked out for each other. It was disappointing, to say the least, but it really couldn't be helped.

The samplers we exchange are always a secret, but keeping it a secret from each other is often the year's biggest challenge. We love to laugh at the ways we've goofed in the past, accidentally letting too much information slip so that the recipient correctly guesses what she's getting. It's still really fun and exciting though, and the laughter over the indiscretions is what makes the exchange even more memorable!

We decided to get a little dangerous this year, and we allowed each other one hint: the answer to Where will it be hung? My mother told me I'd hang mine in my hallway, and I told her she'd hang hers in her office. If I'm not mistaken, my telling her that she'd hang hers up in her office strongly suggested that the sampler was red. ;)  In contrast, her answer ("the hallway") to my question was a vague answer indeed, considering I have samplers of every sort in my hallway. (Don't think I didn't catch that, Mom.)

Anyway, we had our Holiday Sampler Exchange yesterday, and what a wonderful time it was, as usual! I went over to Mom's house and we had brunch before unwrapping our packages at the same time.  (We both try to look at our new samplers and the other's reaction at the same time, which is quite comical.)

I have to say, I think I got the better end of the deal (Mom does too, no doubt).. here's what I stitched for Mom:

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It's a reproduction sampler by Threads of Gold, and it's called "M.A. Dutch Sampler." These aren't the original colors though; I decided to switch out all of the called-for threads to some red AVAS, with exception to the horse and rider. (It was this sampler that led me to start searching for horse-and-rider samplers, which then led me to hunting down Colonial Couples samplers.)

And here's the absolutely stunning, jaw-dropping sampler Mom stitched for me!

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It's Dames Boarding School by Examplar Dames! She couldn't remember the silks she used on it, but trust me when I tell you they are so delicate and lovely and perfect for this piece. I just can't get over how beautiful it is!

Jill Rensel framed both of our pieces to perfection. Here's a close-up of the moulding on Dames Boarding School…

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I also stitched these for Mom, and put them in this bowl that I found at my favorite country store, Weathered and Worn…

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It's one of my favorite Christmas carols, and I love how Bing Crosby sings it. 🙂

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One of my very favorite things about visiting my parents' home is the way my mom decorates for the seasons. She has such a way with the little touches here and there, and my girls love visiting just as much, for this very reason. I decided to take a few photos while I was there yesterday…

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I love how she took some greenery from her back yard and put it in a jar…

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You may have seen this on her blog recently.. it's a tiny little stocking by Hands to Work…

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Btw, this absolutely cracks me up, every time I see it. My parents have a cozy fireplace in their basement, but since my mom isn't down there very often, she decided to download a "live" fireplace app on her iPad…

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I think I caught her trying to warm her hands in front of it yesterday, when she thought I wasn't looking.

One of Sophie's favorite things at my parents' house is the Department 56 Dickens Village, set on top of a very high china cabinet. (Actually, there are many more pieces to her collection but these particular ones are the ones on the main level of the house.) My dad has them arranged in the most charming way, and at night all of the tiny windows light up…

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Please excuse the blurriness in the photos. I actually was not looking through the camera to take these bc they were so far above my head. Instead, I was standing on a chair and holding the camera way above me and snapping away at who-knows-what! (Btw, notice the samplers behind the village…)

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One day, I'd love to get up on a ladder and get some decent photos of all the village pieces together.

At about the time I was finished taking pictures, the man of the house came home for lunch…

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I adore you, Dad. Even though you don't like the way I park my car in your driveway so that you can't pull into the garage. I can't help it if you don't have the skills to drive around me.

And Mom, I love you. Yesterday was so much fun, and I can't wait to do it again in 2012! Merry Christmas, and go pick out my next sampler. 🙂

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P.S. It may look like she stitched a bigger sampler than I did, but that's bc she stitched hers on 11 count, and mine is on 50 count.

P.P.S. For those of you who may not know how I love to tease my mother, please know I'm only kidding.


  • Kristen from MA

    What a wonderful tradition Paulette! Both samplers are just beautiful. I love your stitched smalls, too.
    What a lovely post!

  • Cathy Lloyd

    All I can think of when I saw your pictures on this post was “Two fabulous women!” Indeed, lovely samplers…Enjoy your Christmastime with each other!

  • Margaret

    Oh Paulette! I love both samplers! I think the best part of the whole thing though, is that you two share your love of stitching and are such great friends. Such a special relationship. I’m always so envious of you two. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing, and thanks for sharing pics of your mom’s house too. Putting that Dickens village up every year must take a lot of effort!

  • Michelle

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Both samplers are just stunning and I love the little ornaments (*cough* new release please *cough*). I loved seeing her Dickens Village too!

  • Siobhan

    Oh my gosh. I love coming to your blog for the pure unadulterated porn that you share. The stitching porn, the decorating porn, the ornament porn–shoot, even the Dept 56 porn! Fabulous. Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh fabulous. I need to call my mother and whine that she doesn’t like to stitch, and then call my daughters and wheedle and kvetch that they don’t stitch and I’d so like to be able to do an exchange like that with them when they’re older. 😉 I love both of the samplers–tooooooo pretty–and now I HAVE to stitch them. Beautiful work from two great gals. 😀

  • Tracey

    What an awesome picture of the 2 of you with your samplers! :^) (Love your hair cut Paulette, and you and your Mom look more like sisters than mom and daughter!)
    What a lovely tradition you share… it is so wonderful that you have that one day you spend together before the craziness of the holidays.

  • beritbunny

    I adore this post! What fun to see this year’s exchange!
    Also, I would love to know the particulars for those bowl-fillers you stitched. If you mentioned them, I missed it. Or, are they your originals?

  • Sherry

    What a wonderful tradition and I always love to see what you both do for one another! The little pillows are adorable. I like Bing singing that carol too. Your mom definitely has a decorator’s touch year round. I always love seeing pictures of her home.

  • Littlebit

    Yes, you are definitely a hoot. lol! I love, love, LOVE my sampler, too!! We will be sunk if Audrey ever takes up stitching to this degree, because then we will each have to stitch two samplers. 🙂 Your stitching is impeccable. Oh..and I used whatever was called for on that chart, I believe Sampler Threads. LLLLY!

  • joann tx

    both of your samplers are absolutely GORGEOUS!!!!
    i LOVE your holiday tradition of giving each other a stitched sampler. i wish my mom and i had thought of something like this years ago. but she doesn’t do counted cross stitch and i don’t knit
    or crochet. i think this is something special you two share.
    thank you for sharing it with us each year!

  • Julie Nichols

    My mom and I were inspired a couple years back by your tradition. Since then we’ve exchanged stitching gifts in December. Our only rule, and not really a rule but I have nothing else to call it, was that it didn’t have to be a big gift. No pressure (yeah right, ugh?). It can just be something small, framed or unframed, etc. Anything we like. We haven’t done our exchange yet for 2011, but lucky us our birthdays are this month too (she the 10th and mine the 11th) so we just combine the whole thing. It really works out wonderfully for us and makes it extra special.
    I must admit, I’m quite jealous of that village your parents have. Obviously, nothing compares to it, but have you seen the Willow Tree nativity scene? OMGoodness! It’s incredible to see in person, if you’re into Willow Tree 🙂
    Btw, your pictures are great even if you were reaching over your head and hoping for the best.
    Anyway, my mom is just like yours where she decorates the house with little touches here and there and everything comes out perfect. It’s like a winter wonderland at my parent’s house and I love spending time there as well. The best part about going there now, is that they live in the woods as opposed to in the suburbs where they used to live. So much more wintery-like in the woods.
    Both your samplers are lovely, Paulette! And I love the little extra bonus of the little bowl fillers you made. So cute!

  • Nancy

    Thanks for sharing your fun day! The decorations look so pretty.
    I think both samplers are gorgeous! I love the frame on the one that your Mom stitched for you. A very nice tradition that you have!

  • Faye

    I love all the photos but the last one is the best. You two girls had a wonderful day as those broad smiles surely show! I LOVE both the samplers you guys chose. PERFECT~~~
    The worn bowl of special made ornies from Bing Crosbys song is darling. I love the dainty trim you went with. You have such an eye of what’s just right.

  • Laura

    Love all your photos Paula! The ones of the village turned out not bad at all inspite of you not being able to look through the camera. When you get up on that latter, post those pics. Love seeing what people do with their Christmas villages.
    Samplers are just lovely too!

  • P.J.

    What a lovely gift to each other. I can see where that could be a bit a challenge and pressure, with all that you all have going on. Seeing your parents village makes me want to set the few I have under our tree. How nostalgic.

  • Sheila

    What a fabulous idea to exchange samplers – you both got the best deal I think 🙂
    And what a wonderful village – look forward to seeing the whole thing.
    Those three little pincushions – are they your designs? If so, will you be releasing them … I love them 🙂
    And there is no mistaking the maternal genes in your family, you look like your mother, and your daughters look like you 🙂 All stunning!

  • Charlene♥SC

    What a great day spent together! And that you share the love of needle and thread is such a blessing and joy to you both. No one got the better – you each got the one you love (and each other)! Merry Christmas!


    What a great tradition! You both look so happy with the samplers both given and received!
    Thanks for sharing all the great pictures:))

  • Linen Stitcher

    What is not to love about this post? It’s fabulous from start to finish!! Love your exchange, love your mom’s decorating, love it ALL! One question: Could you tell me the name/designer for the “Christmas is coming” ornament series? I love those, and I’m thinking they’d go perfectly with the Hands to Work mini-stockings that I’ve also stitched. Who knows? I might even stitch them over one to be mini like the stockings. Thanks!

  • Valerie

    Gorgeous sampler exchange! You’re both lucky ladies. “Christmas is coming” is one of my favorite carols too. Please, oh please say that’s a new chart release! Those ornies are darling!

  • Teri

    What beautiful exchanges! Love both samplers and the frames you picked out. So very cool that your Dad is “mayor” over the Christmas village. Lovely, lovely pics! Happy holidays to both of your families!!

  • Lynn

    What a beautiful tradition you share with your Mom! All the more special since you share a love of needlework. The samplers are both gorgeous. I don’t think either one of you got short changed in the least.
    Your Mom’s home is so very lovely and cozy looking! Now I know where you get your flair for decorating.

  • Sherry

    What a great tradition. And I love both samplers. Great job. Wonder if I could find someone to start this tradition with. I’m going to give it some thought!

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