Of Bumblebees and Zombies.

Halloween will soon descend upon the Stewart home, which means I'll drag out my brushes and sponges and ruin perfectly good makeup, digging into it maniacally by the gobs and gooping it all over my little girl's face. It's something we both look forward to every October 31st, actually. 🙂

This year, the doggies will be joining us in the costume parade. Tasha is most definitely on board…

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Why so grim, Yorkie? Why, you remind me of myself, every time I have to pick up your carpet gifts. Gosh, seeing you this way takes a little of the sting out of all those times for me.

I hope your Halloween is a fun one! And although this next diptych doesn't fit here at all, I wanted to share it with you anyway. I had fun with Bean this past weekend when she visited, and I begged her to let me take pictures of her in the new hat her boyfriend's dad brought back from his business trip to Paris.

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We'll see you soon!

Wow!

I just have to share this framed collection with you, stitched by longtime friend Kay and framed by the ever-fabulous and charming Jill Rensel. I released these charts ages ago, so it's fun to see a fresh new perspective on them!

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When Kay first sent this picture to me, she said she wanted them specifically in this order because "first, you Gather with friends, then you Give thanks, and finally you Gobble down all the food." 🙂 I love that!

And for those of you who collect the Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issues, you may know that I'm working on a series of ornaments for the Twelve Days of Christmas. I would love to be invited back to submit the rest of them, but if not, I will continue them anyway. Here are the first two, beautifully stitched and finished by Cheryl…

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I love how she finished them! She said she used The Twisted Stitcher's tutorials to help her with the finishing, and I love love love how festive they look!

Thank you, Kay and Cheryl, for taking the time to share your creations with me. 🙂

Today I'll be working on the model for Nantucket Girl, filling orders, and hopefully spending a little time designing. I feel very fortunate right now that I'm not having to pack up my home and leave everything behind for higher ground like those on the east coast are having to do. My prayers are for them today.

Sharing

I've had the honor of having so many of you email me with your Plum Street finishes, and I wanted to let you know that it's always very exciting – and humbling – when I receive your pictures. When I first started designing, I never thought that one day I'd actually be seeing something that I designed be stitched by others. It was just a dream of mine to design, but it's purely the icing on the cake that some stitchers out there actually like what I've done!

Thank you, with all my heart.

When I released Halloweenies, I thought there might be one or two people out there with dachshunds, at best. But I still thought it was a fun little design, so I went with it. Lo and behold, and do believe the population of doxie-owners is more than a little gigantic, based on how well-received this pattern has been! (This goes to show how out-of-touch I am with the canine world. I'm usually too busy Googling things like  "How to dominate a Yorkie" and "Support groups for people who live with Yorkies" to pay attention to much else.)

Here are a couple of finishes that were sent to me recently…

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Andrea stitched it twice, one for each of her daughters, and then below,
as a pillow for her mom. I love the solo doxie!

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What beautiful finishing, Andrea!

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Pictured above is Nancy Daniels' framed piece. She changed
the colors to better match her doxie's coat. I love it, Nancy!
(And I love that frame too!)

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I'm also excited to show you the Christmas Coffee
freebie, finished by Anne, of Doll's Musings.
She's a self-proclaimed "major coffee girl,"
which automatically makes her my java-sister. 😉

Here's another background:

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I don't generally stitch my freebie charts, but something
about that green background in the first photo
reminds me of my birthplace, Starbucks, USA.
The fabric Anne used makes it look like a mini
canvas coffee bean bag, and I love it!

Thank you so much for stopping by, and thank you again for taking the time to send me your finishes! I'm off to get my day going, starting off with searching the rooms for the Yorkie's little carpet-gifts to me. After that, I'll be Googling "cross stitch designs for doggy diapers."

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Enjoy your day!

Bean Joins Adulthood.

My Sabrina turned nineteen on the 12th of this month, which means the state considers her an adult now. I don't know if she actually feels any differently, but I do know that she still looks like the same strawberry-haired baby angel that I fell in love with back in 1993. The only difference between now and then is that she isn't so much my shadow any more, following me from room to room, sucking her thumb and hugging my leg every time I stopped for one moment.

What a joy she has been to me.

We made quite a weekend of it in celebration, that's for sure! Sophie took the reins as the birthday party planner, and did a fine job of it. The only things missing were a headset and mic for her to speak her commands into, and our paychecks for doing everthing she commanded. "You are to stand here, and when I say 'POTATO,' you are all to yell 'SURPRISE!!!' Got it?"


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Since Sabrina is a volunteer assistant zookeeper, Sophie thought it would be a great idea to have a zoo-themed party.

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We even set up lots of little plastic animals around the table…

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…And placed pictures of Sabrina in various animal get-ups around as well…

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Mom told us about the iPad app Hey You, which you can see scrolling in the background of the photo below (it said "Happy Birthday, Girl!")…

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And what party is a zoo party without Zoo Pals plates?

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And of course party favors, which my dad employed to harrass my mother…

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Sabrina's favorite cake is a good old-fashioned Betty Crocker lemon cake…

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We had a big cookout as well, with burgers, hot dogs, and the rest of the usual stuff, and we were all thrilled that Bre showed up about half-way through dinner! After we ate and had ice cream and cake, we headed to a nearby bowling alley…

Here's my left-handed dad, bowling right-handed. All night long he kept switching hands, trying to figure out which side he preferred (he normally does everything sports-related with his right hand). I think I had more fun watching him scratch his head and try different techniques while switching hands back and forth than I actually did bowling. (Okay, truth be told, I didn't bowl that night; I just took pictures while Mom knitted next to me!)

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Bean's boyfriend, Connor, came along as well.  Connor is finally getting used to me stopping everyone every other moment to take a quick picture…

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Did I say quick picture? Sabrina knows better. Connor hasn't quite gotten used to that part – which was especially painful while holding a bowling ball. (Notice Sabrina's neck muscles straining to keep her ball up.. there may have been a slight chance that I was deliberately taking a long time to get the picture, but that will stay between you and me, okay?)

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For a burly guy, Mike is quite a graceful bowler…

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But these two weren't very graceful at showing off when they got a strike for their team…

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Btw, Connor is a super sweet guy, and he and Bean hit it off the moment they met.

(Dad is still in his own world, methodically testing various bowling techniques…)

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We had a lot of fun at the bowling alley, but we weren't finished with her party yet. The next morning we headed to Kansas City to go through the haunted houses at Worlds of Fun. What a great time that was! The weather was dreary and wet, but that only added to the fun. When Sabrina and I were discussing the threatening weather situation, I was telling her that I thought that rain storms and snow storms always made the best memories when you think back on fun events. You don't hear too many people pipe up excitedly and say, "It was so nice and sunny out that day!" But you will hear someone say, "Wow, remember that crazy rain? We got soaked!"

Anyway, here's one from Worlds of Fun that just cracks me up bc of the looks on everyone's faces… one of the Corn-Stalkers that were roaming around outside of the cornfield maze sneaked up behind Bre to spook her. After a good laugh, she asked him if he'd pose for a picture, and surprisingly, he agreed.

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I think we've all recovered from that weekend now. Sabrina, if you're reading this, I hope you had a fantastic time on your birthday! We love you so much, and we're so proud of the young woman you've become.

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Hares’ Happy Haunting

I just realized this morning that Halloween will be upon me before I know it, and I've yet to find out from Sophie what on earth she'll dress up as this year. Sabrina's costume is done and out the door, ready for the parties, but Sophie-joon needs to come up with something pronto, before my sewing machine goes back to doing what it does best: collecting cobwebs.

And our weather! It was summer just a few days ago, and yesterday brought with it wind gusts and rain and hot cranberry tea. I know, I know.. Mom already reprimanded me for breaking tradition and brewing some before Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't help myself!

So before I go pour another mug-full, and before Halloween has come and gone, I'd love to share with you my latest Hares freebie! This one is called Hares' Happy Haunting, and you can download it by clicking the following link – not the color image below it.

 
Hares' Happy Haunting Printout

Hares' Happy Haunting color

Enjoy this blustery season, full of gorgeous color and whistling window panes and the fragrance of cinnamon and cloves and tea – or whatever it is you decide to brew for those quiet stitching moments. 🙂

And don't forget to visit the online Needlework Show! It's open today, and it's full of fun stitching projects! Contact your shop owner if you see something you need, and again – if you're looking for my newly-released Stranded Jacks, you can find it in the Kelmscott Designs booth. 🙂

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It's almost time for The Needlework Show to open, and I almost didn't have my release ready in time, with how busy it's been around here. I have no idea what was going on in my mind when I decided to do a Sea Halloween theme, but here goes…

These are a collection of Halloween ornaments, finished onto little black miniature hornbooks, available from Kelmscott Designs:

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And here they are, hanging on my wire tree (along with some of my favorite ornaments from Blackbird Designs, as well as the one I submitted to Just Cross Stitch this year)…

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If you decide you'd like to purchase the pattern, have your shop owner log into the Needlework Show and click on the Kelmscott Designs booth. I hope you have fun stitching them!

Happy Halloween!

ETA: The pattern is charted so that they can also be stitched in a single row, rather than as individual ornaments.

Shepherd’s Retreat, Finale

I'm finally back with the rest of the pictures! (No, not the rest of the 180, but just a few I thought you might enjoy seeing!)

These aren't in any particular order, so I'll just post them how I find them. 🙂

Here is one from the Shepherd's Boutique.. I thought Jill Rensel did an amazing job on Button's Black; as usual, her artwork on mats is amazing:

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I loved this one from Chessie and Me…

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Since I explained in my last blog post how I didn't get a full photo of the Shepherd's Bush project, a few of you kindly emailed some pictures for me. Thank you! Here is Susan Ream's photo of Three Ships…

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Btw, I still can't get over how warmly I was welcomed throughout the entire retreat. I even received some lovely surprises from some of the attendees, and I can't thank you all enough! Your generosity was so touching, and I will always remember these special gifts to me. Here are some of the lovely things presented to me…

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Here's the back of the above pendant – the very pendant Bre tried to woo me out of when she spotted it…

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And here is a pendant from Charland Designs… she had so many cool ones! I think Sabrina had her eye on this one, btw. 😉

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And here's the back:

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Even Sophie got some gifts, which thrilled her to death!

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Here are a few of the sweet ladies in one of my classes…

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Every morning, the Shepherd's Bush girls would go from classroom to classroom and deliver the most wonderful little wrapped gifts! I don't have photos of them, unfortunately, but they were needlework-related, and so very sweet to receive!

During the day, there were some of us who boarded the gondola to ride up the mountain. The Aspens were gorgeous!

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Lots of dudes on mountain bikes were there as well, and you can spot one of them in the middle of the photo below. Charland's daughter, Sydney, couldn't find a single willing soul to make the bike trek down the mountain with her. I was very tempted to join her at one point, but then I suddenly realized that I don't like fear very much, so I declined.

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Here are some of the things we got to make at the Cookie Swap… each person got to choose a tin to carry to different stations that were set up. At each station, we were taught how to make a certain type of "cookie," and we used our tin to store them in. I thought the whole idea was so much fun!

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We made a Sandwich Cookie, a Truffle, and a Pinwheel Cookie. There were even little charms we got to attach to the tops of our Sandwich cookies…

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Remember when I told you Cecelia Strickland of Threadgatherers not only painted fibers, but she also makes soaps and lotions and lip balms?

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They all smell amazing! I've got the mousse on my hands right now, and I can't stop raising my hands to my face and inhaling. It's delicious!

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And isn't the keychain the coolest thing?

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On our last night, we all met in the ballroom for the Fa La La Feast. The table settings were so festive, and everyone was very excited to be there – whether for the ornament exchange or the food or the Christmas Trivia game or the husbands all getting up front to sing a jolly Christmas carol, each of us had a marvelous time. Teri and Tina are the most gracious hosts!

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I love this picture of Teri and Cece…

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…and Charland and Linda…

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Here is a small portion of the ornaments, all ready for the swapping…

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At the end of the night, Teri and Tina had one last gift for each person, whether they were naughty or nice. Judging from the collective "oooooh" in the room when everyone opened their stocking'ed gift, I'd say the Shepherd's Bush girls made a very good call with what they gave…

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….even if I got one that said "naughty!" 😉

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I'll leave you with a room full of happy guests, wearing their paper crowns that came from holiday crackers… everyone crossed arms and "cracked" them at the same time, to see what sort of toy was inside. That was so much fun to do!

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If ever you get the chance to attend a Shepherd's Retreat in the future, I highly recommend you treat yourself and go. The only downside to going to one, I've found, is that you don't really want to leave. The scenery, shopping, and stitching are all so much fun, but I found that the real gifts of the heart were the new friends I made.

I sure enjoyed meeting you all and getting to spend some time with you. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

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Shepherd’s Retreat, Part 2

Goodness, I've been going crazy around here trying to get ready for my October release! My "to do" pile is larger than life, so forgive me for taking so long to post the next set of photos. 🙁

Teri and Tina chose the most gorgeous place for the retreat! We stayed at The Canyons in the Rocky Mountains, and between the beautiful lodgings and the Aspens turning their coats for fall, it was truly heavenly. 

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This was my room (I had the upstairs loft, with my own fireplace, sitting room, and two bathrooms)…

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Here was the kitchen…

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And this was the view from my balcony. Every morning the moon would sit right on the edge of one of those mountain peaks, looking as if it was ready to roll right down…

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After we were checked in and settled, we were on our own for dinner and then that night we returned to the ball room for a really fun project called The Great Cookie Swap. We made the most fabulous little ornaments from felted wool, and I can't wait to hang them on my tree this year.

The next evening we got to take a class with Cece Strickland of Threadgatherers. She taught us how to make a darling little wool booklet for our stitching supplies, and we learned a stitch that was new to me: the boullion stitch. (Mine looked more like the bull-kaka stitch.)

And what a sweet surprise this was: a gluten-free dessert, before the start of the class!

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Also attending the class was Linda of Chessie and Me, Jeanette of Jeanette Douglas Designs, and Judy, who makes the best lemon biscotti in the universe. Mike has pretty much snarfed all of the bag she sent home with me.

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Btw, the Shepherd's Bush girls set up a boutique full of fun things to shop, as well as mini trunk shows for the designers attending. It was so much fun to look around! I didn't get a whole lot of photos of the boutique bc the shopping crowd was steady, but I did manage to snap a few models and trinkets here and there…

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(The model below is by From the Heart – Needleart by Wendy)

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Jeanette didn't know she was in my camera frame, but you can see that she's getting ready to cause trouble…

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See what I mean?

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And speaking of Jeanette, I couldn't stop staring at these pincushions! And the ornaments she designed! I shall be making them all!

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I love how Teri and Tina changed the colors of Garden of Eerie to a colorway more similar to their signature palette. Pink clouds! I love it!

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I wish I'd gotten more pictures of the boutique.. many of the ones I took were blurred from excitement, so they ended up on the cutting room floor. 🙁 But trust me when I say that there were some gorgeous things there.

So far, I've tried keeping the photos in order, but I won't be able to keep that up bc I'm forgetting which days we did what. 🙂 So here's a random picture of a gorgeous barn we passed on our way to lunch in downtown Park City:

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We ate at Robert Redford's restaurant that day, called Zoom. The food was absolutely delicious, and I highly recommend eating there if you're ever in the area.

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And I liked that none of the glassware matched. 🙂

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(Btw, we shared the Marinated Roasted Beets and I had the fish tacos for my lunch.)

I'll end Part 2 with the only photo of the Shepherd's Bush project I got. (You can slap me if you ever see me in person.) It was gorgeous, needless to say, but I must have gotten interrupted after this photo since I didn't get a picture of the entire thing. 

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If you haven't given up on me yet, I'll be back with Part 3 soon!

Haven’t Forgotten!

I'm so sorry for those of you who are patiently waiting for more retreat pictures! I've been busy out of my tree, to say the least. My October online needlework show release is behind, so I've got to get on the ball with that one, but I will be back very soon to post more photos from Park City!

In the meantime, here are some delicious fabrics that were in the Shepherd's Boutique in the hotel. They were all so soft and wonderful, and I watched for what seemed like hours as Teri pulled each one from its box and gently placed it on its shelf.

Ah, the little things that we stitchers love to gaze at…

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See you soon!

Shepherd’s Retreat – Day 1

I've got all 180 photos loaded from the retreat, so go brew some coffee and get comfy! I'm kidding – there were 180 photos, but I won't burden your computer with all of them, no worries. For those of you who stopped by bc you'd like to see them, I'll break them up into manageable sections. 🙂

My flight to Salt Lake City was a short one, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to three other retreat attendees – Michelle, Edie, and Sylvia. What fun ladies they were, and if I wasn't excited about attending before, then I sure was after listening to all of their fun descriptions of how past retreats had gone. If any of you three are reading, thank you for making me feel welcome before I ever even got to Utah!

Sweet Mindy picked me up at the airport.. Teri had told me she was a darling, and she was. Mindy, you were a wonderful "chauffeur!"

Here we are across the street from Temple Square…

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While we were there, she and I took a general tour of the Tabernacle and surrounding gardens, which was very interesting. The architecture is astounding…

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And the gardens are vibrant and beautiful…

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Inside, we got to see a scaled model of the Temple, which is only open to the public for a short time following its completion. After that, the Temple is dedicated to God, and the public is not allowed in.

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There was also a scaled model of the city of Jerusalem.. the photo doesn't quite show how enormous this model really is. I can't imagine how long it took to build it!

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There were many reproductions of wagons and tools used by the Mormon pioneers who settled here to build their new life…

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These are some of the original glass panes; in person, you can see all the ripples in them…

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And take a look at that pipe organ! This is where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs and records their music…

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When our tour was over, Mindy and I headed to lunch at the Blue Lemon Cafe across the street, and then it was time for the drive to Ogden. First stop: Jill Rensel's studio! Can I just tell you that Jill is as charming and lovely in person as I imagined her to be? What a beautiful person she is, and I must have had a hundred people ask me if I got the chance to meet her. She's quite popular, yet ever so humble and soft-spoken.

Here she is with Mindy, who is holding her sweet little pooches (who were as gentle-natured as Jill, and nothing like the Yorkie that resides in the Stewart home)…

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And needless to say, her shop is amazing, full of framed and matted pieces waiting to be picked up or shipped out…

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Someone had even stitched Brother's Keeper over one.. I wasn't able to stay there and get a decent shot of the frame itself as there was quite a crowd there, but I did manage to get a sliver of the piece photographed…

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After Jill's, Mindy drove me to the Shepherd's Bush shop… please pass the smelling salts; this place is fabulous. The building used to be an old blacksmith's shop, so you can imagine how much elbow grease it took Tina and Teri to get the place converted to one of the lovliest needlework shops in the country.

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I'm spent.

Teri and Tina and all the friendly employees at Shepherd's Bush sure do know how to make one feel welcome. I actually didn't get to spend very long in the shop bc it was soon time to load up the vehicles and head up the mountain to the retreat. But I do plan on returning some day… how can I resist?

Btw, Mindy was quite the sweetheart, driving me around and making sure my blood-caffeine levels were normal. I believe she's visiting the Attic Needlework shop in Mesa, AZ as we speak (another of my dream shops), so if you're reading this, Mindy, I'm so happy Teri and Tina decided to volunteer you to be my taxi. 🙂

I'll be back soon with more fun from the retreat!