• Holidays,  Stitching,  Sunday Mystery Sampler

    Seven Swans a-Swimming

    ETA: The blog post below was pre-blogged earlier in the week and scheduled to publish today. Before you get to it, I would like to express my sincere sorrow for the people of France, for the heartbreaking events of tonight, Friday evening. My prayers are lifted up for you.


    I'm so excited for the Christmas season! I recently purchased a Bluetooth speaker to listen to Pandora Christmas stations, and it's put me in the mood for snow, snow, snow!

    Anyway, welcome to Week 5. Have fun!

    Week 5 Sampler Layout

    Click here to print the Seventh Day chart: Download Seven Swans a-Swimming

  • Holidays,  Stitching,  Sunday Mystery Sampler

    Welcome to the Sunday Mystery Sampler!

    Good morning to you all!

    Is your printer plugged in? Is it loaded with paper? Are your stitching supplies gathered? It's time for the mystery project to begin! (This is so exciting, even though I know how it ends already..)

    If you're just now finding out about the Sunday Mystery Sampler, you may want to scroll backwards just a few posts to catch up on what supplies you'll need to participate. And then you will need to decide if you want to stitch twelve individual ornaments, or one large sampler.

    Here we go!

    First, for those of you who are stitching one large sampler, here is a picture of what your layout will look like. The picture is not the chart; the chart file link will be shown below the picture. (Please feel free to orient the boxes however you like; just make sure your fabric size will accommodate any changes you make!)

    Your outline should be stitched in whichever red fiber you chose.

    Twelve Days outline

    Here is the printable chart for the above sampler layout (1 page): Download Twelve Days Outline Layout

    If you prefer to print out the layout in larger print for easier counting (and coloring, if you like to color in your charts), then print out this chart (4 pages): Download Twelve Days Outline Chart

    And now for the ornament charts! Rather than posting pictures of each individual design, I will show them as they are added to the sampler blocks. Those of you who are stitching ornaments will still be able to see what your individual ornaments will look like when you're finished with them.

    If the Twelve Drummers Drumming were here, I'd ask them for a drum roll… Here are the first three ornaments for the Sunday Mystery Sampler!

    Week 1 Sampler Layout

    Click here to print the First Day chart: Download A Partridge in a Pear Tree

    Click here to print the Second Day chart: Download Two Turtle Doves

    Click here to print the Third Day chart: Download Three French Hens

    And that's your Week One portion of the Sunday Mystery Sampler! I hope you have a wonderful time stitching, and if you're stitching the sampler, you don't necessarily have to stitch the entire outline first. I tend to get very bored with straight lines, so I would stitch one box and then fill it, and move on to the next box when I was finished. (But that's just me.. I'm always amazed at people who can just keep going and going and not want to throw their stitching down and stomp on it when it grows monotonous. And have you ever noticed that the word monotonous has repeating o's? What kind of a sick joke is that, anyway?)

    I'll see you next Sunday for Week 2, but I may be back here for other topics before then.. Enjoy this beautiful day of rest!


  • Holidays,  Stitching,  Sunday Mystery Sampler

    The 2015 Sunday Mystery Sampler!

    When I announced the first Sunday Mystery Sampler in 2013, I was so surprised at the enormous response! I couldn't believe how many of you tuned in each week on my blog to download each installment of the mystery… and what fun it was to see everyone's progress on all the Mary's Samplers out there! (For those of you who missed out, the installments are all still there under Sunday Mystery Sampler in the right side-bar of the blog.)

    I've been mulling over doing one again this year for some time now, but just couldn't figure out what it was I wanted to do. And then it slowly dawned on me…

    Back in 2011, I submitted an ornament to Just Cross Stitch for their annual Christmas Preview Issue. I went with a "Twelve Days of Christmas" theme, and proudly titled my ornament submission "First Day."


    Then, in 2012, I followed it up with "Second Day."


    Shortly afterward, I started receiving the occasional email from various subscribers, gently mentioning to me that it would take a full twelve years at that rate to actually have the whole set. I was absolutely stunned that I had never thought of that before!

    So to the back burner the Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments idea went… until I realized very recently that it would be awfully fun to finish the entire series in one fell swoop and offer them for free – and all in time for Christmas 2015!

    This year's Sunday Mystery Sampler will be all twelve days, and they can be stitched individually, as ornaments, or all together, as one large sampler! (I can't decide which option I like better.)

    If you have the first two stitched, then you've got a good head start. But if you don't, it's okay! Here are all the details you'll need to know… (ETA: The original red was Belle Soie (now Classic Colorworks) Cranberry, and the original green was Belle Soie (now Classic Colorsworks) Weathered Vine. The original fabric used was Lakeside Linens' 36 ct. Vintage Light Examplar.)

    SMS p1
    SMS p2

     I'll see you soon!

    ETA: I found a photo for Second Day! I can't seem to find one for First Day though..

    176E jcs tp

  • Family,  Gardening,  Holidays


    I can't believe I'm sitting here! I've missed chatting with you all!


    Is it just me and the crickets?

    I was asking on Facebook a few days ago who out there checks designers' blogs or designers' Facebook pages for new release updates, and it appears that most people prefer Facebook for the convenience of it, but they like blogs for the details – and only if a link is posted, in many cases. I really appreciated hearing everyone's feedback, although I had not really been thinking of giving up my blog; I simply have allowed my time to be consumed by other things, which has crowded out blogging (and I've always truly enjoyed blogging).

    Isn't it funny how modern technology has made daily tasks so simple that you are able to squeeze in many more tasks, which only ends up squeezing out daily living? 

    I have been so busy in such a good way around here though (technology aside). I've had such a nice summer with my last chickadee at home, Miss Sophie, and I am trying not to think about school starting up again. I always missed my girls when they had to go off to school again. 🙁 I've also been very busy with new designs, kitting, filling orders, traveling to stitching retreats, and even stitching on some fun things just for myself.

    The fourth of July was so much fun, as it always is! It's always been one of my favorite holidays because it is spent at my parents' home, in their beautiful back yard..




    Have you ever played ladder ball? It's also known as monkey ball, and I believe I mentioned it last year on my blog as well. It's truly the only time I've ever seen my mother get so highly competitive, that we all have to let her win.

    (I'm only kidding – you can't "let" someone win at ladder ball!)

    Here are Bre and Mike, taking their turns – and Bre scored a whopping 3 points when she landed on the top wrung!



    My dad is patiently waiting for his turn, while silently suffering through the smack-talk my mother is giving him on the side.


    Sophie prefers to be in the audience while the game is going on..




    I love it when my mom repurposes a fountain..






    This is a huge whiskey barrel full of marigolds.. my mother saved all the seeds last year, and there were enough for about 20 whiskey barrels! But she gave me a bunch, so now I have a barrel-full too!



    Here is the beautiful window box that is behind Sophie and my dad in the above photo..


    When Breanna was little, her favorite series was Power Rangers, and she would not allow a photo to be taken of her unless she was in her best Power Rangers pose. So for old times' sake, we all tried to strike her favorite pose. Except for Mom, who has never seen an episode of Power Rangers in her life, and except for Sophie, who would only watch Power Rangers if there was a makeup review included in a segment.






    And that was our July 4th annual cookout!

    Now that the summer is in full swing, I'm trying to figure out what my fall design schedule will be.. a little late as far as most designers are concerned, but I've always been an eleventh-hour person. I have more energy that way it seems! (I usually don't even have any Christmas design ideas in mind until the calendar page says "December" on it.)

    Hopefully I'll be seeing some of you at the Tomorrow's Heirlooms retreat on the 17th-19th of this month in Chicago! I can't wait.. and I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, as always.

    I'll see you all SOON!



  • Family,  Holidays

    The Breakdown of the Family Photo

    Each year at Christmas we try to get a family photo of all of us before we open presents, and each year my family groans when I set up the camera because I inevitably forget how the timer works, and they're left to stay in each other's personal spaces while I read menu settings.

    I always snap a few pics to see if everyone fits in the frame and is mostly in focus, which means I'm never in the first photo of the session.


    When I think I'm satisfied, I give the "You ready?" call, click the 10-second button, and scurry next to anyone who will have me (all the while asking fretfully, "Where am I supposed to go? Where do I sit?")


    After the red light blinks and we hear the "click" of the shutter, I tell everyone in my best Photo Nazi voice to stay put, because they all know I will need to take another one to be sure.

    More groans.

    I test the camera again, while they preen and chatter, and my brother has no idea that I've captured a real smile on his face…




    "Where do I sit?? Sabrina, is there room for me??"


    And just when they think I am finished, I capture the essence of who we really are on all the other 364 days of the year.


    I was originally planning on posting my "Farewell to 2014" post, but decided to do this one first. 🙂 I know it's a little late, but I hope you all had a really nice Christmas, filled with lots of laughter and love.

  • Freebie,  Holidays,  Stitching

    And So He Came

    I saw a commercial this morning on the In Touch Ministries website that showed a dad calling each one of his family members down to the living room. They had no idea why he wanted them all together, but they soon found that the reason he took the time to interrupt their routines was so that they could all rediscover why we celebrate such a beautiful holiday… he said "Last year I woke up the day after Christmas, feeling like I'd missed something."

    I'm ashamed to confess that I've felt that very thing before.

    So before the season is once again past, I'm going to take the time to remember and celebrate what I should have been dwelling on all along: not frenzied shopping and repetitive list-making and seeing to it that all the sticks of butter are at room temperature so I can bake all those cookies, but rather the One whose birth was the first Christmas gift to us all.

    Please enjoy this complimentary chart from my heart to yours. And Merry Christmas!

    Click here for the printable chart, and not on the images: Download Christmas Ornament 2014 PRINTOUT

    (Pictured below are some different fabric options, just to give you an idea of what you may want to work with.)

    Christmas 2014 Examplar

    Christmas 2014 Black

    Christmas 2014 Conf Gray

    Christmas 2014 Olde Towne

    And if you haven't taken the time yet to read the "story" of Christmas, here is something else you may want to either pull up on your tablet/laptop/computer, or print out. The link to print is at the bottom of the image.

    This is Christmas

    Download This is Christmas

  • Family,  Holidays,  Stitching

    Winter Sampler Exchange 2014!

    Those of you who have been reading my blog (what little of it there is) for the past several years, know that each year my mother and I exchange samplers for our annual Winter Sampler Exchange. It's the most fun time of the year for us, and each year we've had different ways of doing it, all while trying to keep what we're stitching a secret.

    The only rules to this exchange are:

    1. The stitch counts need to be similar. (This rule came into effect when one of us was highly embarrassed one year when her stitch count was a bit on the lean side after her mother presented her with the densely-stitched Garden Glade.)


    2. The piece must be framed by the enormously-talented Jill Rensel of frame fame. (Jill knows that she will be hearing from us around the end of each summer, begging her to please-please-please hurry because Mom and I have ants in our sampler pants once the pieces have been dropped off at the post office.)

    This year my mother suggested we have a theme to our exchange, and she decided that the theme would be Christmas. I agreed, after which she exclaimed excitedly, "Oh this will be so fun, and I already know what I'm going to stitch for you!" Then I heard her say with coyly-downcast eyes, "If only you would design something for your mother.. that would be so nice."

    I knew then that I wouldn't have much say in the matter, especially when she looked directly at me and added the two words she knows will make my knees buckle:


    Yes, those two G-words have the ability to shrink me back down to a child in my mind…


    But I'm a grown woman now, and grown women do what they must…


    One more thing that those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know: I am completely joking when I portray my mother this way. She is truly the most loving mom in the world, and our exchange was just as fun and exciting as it's always been! My mom stitched the most beautiful sampler in red for me, and I am so in love with it! And as usual, Jill couldn't have been more spot-on with her choice of moulding for it!

    I did, in fact, design something for my mother. It's called Merry Brew, and when it was finished, I felt that it could use some of Jill's legendary hand-painted mats! Jill didn't disappoint, and I was so happy with the beautiful work she did on it!

    Here's a closer look at the gorgeous details on the frame, mats, and fillet…


    I wish I had a picture to show you of my mom's reaction.. it truly was priceless, and we both had so much fun laughing and chatting about how we chose to stitch what we did for each other.

    I may not ever make up for the Great Garden Glade Debacle (at least in my mind), but I do know my mother was very, very pleased, and so was I!

    Next year's theme was my suggestion, but it's not in stone just yet: Houses.

    Merry Christmas, and thank you for tuning in to this year's episode of our Winter Sampler Exchange! 😉

    P.S. For those of you who saw our exchange pieces on Instagram and asked about Merry Brew's release, I will most likely release it next autumn. Thank you so much for your kind words and lovely compliments! They made my day!

  • Critters,  Family,  Holidays,  Home

    This Summer

    The brown-eyed susans are starting to open up, Sophie had her high school orientation yesterday, and the fall market is just around the corner – which means summer is nearing its end for this year, and I truly have no idea where it went!

    Thank you to so many of you who kindly emailed to ask about how Mike's broken leg was faring. It's been a long summer for him, but he's managed to keep himself as busy as one can when they're not allowed to walk for 8 weeks. (It was supposed to be 12 weeks, but his leg was healing nicely!) He's now hobbling around with a cane and a boot, and I'm sure in a few more weeks, he'll be fully balanced and maybe ready to ride his bike again.

    Anyway, I have hardly been at the computer this summer, but I took some much-needed time off from Plum Street Samplers (at my mother's urging, which I'm very thankful for) and decided to get back to the therapy of tending to my flowers (which I used to love to do so long ago!), cleaning out closets that desperately needed it, and driving Mike to-and-from wherever he needed to be.

    So here is a little of how my summer went, if you'd like to take a look. 🙂






    I love the little garden flag Sophie made for me when she was in the 3rd grade!





    Sophie got a surprise birthday party…





    Fezziwig has grown into a handsome boy who loves nothing more than to watch the birds outside…

    IMG_0759 tp

    And he loves to hide behind the couch too.


    And he loves to lay on top of model props.


    The July 4th holiday was quiet this year… Bre was unable to make the drive home, Sabrina was out of town, and Mike couldn't participate in the usual fireworks fun, but we still got together with my parents at their house and had a very nice evening. Here are some pictures from around their yard and deck…











    My dad and Mike played monkey ball, despite Mike having to sit down for the entire round. (By the way, my dad builds all the wood things you see in and around the yard; and he built their deck as well!)




    While the boys played in the back yard, Sophie lit her smoke bombs in the front, and caught some of her favorite little parachute firecrackers as well…




    We also had our usual cookout buffet, but I didn't take pictures of that. 🙂

    So that's a little of what we've been up to around here these past several weeks. We've had the perfect balance of rain and sun this season, and I've enjoyed going outside in the mornings to look at the new blooms. However, I've made the mistake – more than once – of sitting down on a porch chair to have my coffee, only to realize my pants are suddenly soaked because the morning dew has been so heavy on everything.

    And now it's time to move into fall, which means I need to get back to Plum Street and get ready for market. It's almost time! And I'm feeling refreshed, thank goodness! And thanks to Mom. 🙂