Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The final two and Kauai photos

I did it! I finished my final two monthly ornaments for 2017! Are you surprised? I sure am--I truly thought this would be the first year since I began my blog that I wouldn't get all twelve finished. Anyway, I want to share these last two with you before my annual "Parade of Ornaments" post next time. And since you seemed to enjoy my photos of Maui so much, I'm moving on to some scenes of our visit to Kauai later on in the post.

In my haste to finish my 2017 monthly ornaments, I neglected to take a "before" photo and only have the finished ornaments to share with you today.  I think many of you will recognize this cute couple--"Kissing Cardinals" from the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue. Aren't they adorable? The lovebirds are stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle with a variety of overdyed threads and finished into a round ornament. The dotty gray fabric pictured is what I used for the back of the ornament.

"Kissing Cardinals" finish

And my December ornament is "Silver Bells" which is part of the Hands On Design's Chalkboard Ornaments Christmas Collection (Part 3). This is much smaller than the ornaments shown on the cover of the chart, though--I stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. Because it's so small, I had to scale everything back. I couldn't use the holly leaves or button that came with the chart so I cut smaller ones out of olive green felt and added a teeny button from my collection. I also added real mini-jingle bells rather than stitching them as was charted. I love  how it turned out--so tiny and cute!

Hands On Design "Silver Bells" finish

So, that brings another "ornament a month" quest to an end. I'll have a wrap up post next time so you can see all twelve together.

GIVEAWAY WINNER:  The only other stitching news I have is to announce the winner of the Santa chart giveaway from my previous. I had eleven entries so I threw the names into a hat and picked out the winner:  PAM (Tall House Quilts)! Pam, please email me with your mailing address and I will get this chart off to you as soon as possible.  Congratulations and, if you weren't the lucky winner, please come visit me again--I'll be having more old chart giveaways in the future!

Congratulations, Pam!

Green, green, and more green...  So, on to my photos from what is known as Hawaii's "Garden Isle." Kauai was described on one website as the land of "Emerald mountains, weeping waterfalls, red-rock canyons, jaw-dropping beaches, clear seas and big waves." All-true--it was so lush and green everywhere you looked. But, like our time on Maui, the sunshine was absent most of the time. And like Maui, we also had a nine-hour power outage--I mean what are the chances of that happening on both islands? 

We stayed in an Airbnb that felt very jungle-like  nestled along the banks of the Wainiha River in the remote, more isolated northern area of Kauai. I'll give you a tour in photos if you'd like to come along...

The view from our balcony overlooking the tranquil Wainiha River

One of the few blue-sky days brought this pretty pink sunrise

I laughed when I first saw this "Caution: Falling Coconuts" sign, but by week's end, there were nine coconuts that had thudded onto the ground. They really could have caused great damage to someone if they landed on a head!

There was an abundance of fresh fruit growing right in the yard of the Airbnb--along with these bananas, there were papayas, avocados, guavas, oranges, and mangoes!

The house that we stayed in advised us to close the gate that surrounds the yard and we found out why! We encountered this quintet of wild pigs on the road as we drove into town...

How would you like to run into this fellow in your yard?

On a non-rainy day, we took in the beautiful sights at the Limahuli Garden & Preserve which was just up the road.

Everything grows bigger than life here including the roots on these trees!

Pointy cliffs like these make it impossible to drive entirely around the island

This traditional Hawaiian hale (house) was reconstructed in the footprint of what was once an ancient housing complex.

Another shot of the Limahuli Preserve (and me!)

More beauteous flowers--the bird-of-paradise in the center was my favorite

I believe these are papaya trees full of fruit

Special touches like these stepping stone etched with symbols of plants and trees added a nice touch

Our final day--and a sunny one--took us to the Allerton Garden at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on the southern end of Kauai

Do these Morton Bay fig trees look familiar? Parts of the movie, Jurassic Park were filmed here. You may remember that scene where the hatched dinosaur eggs were found among the roots of these trees.

You can get a better idea of just how large the roots are with us standing in front of them!

This arbor of golden bamboo was so lovely

An orchid nestled in the bamboo

The Wai`oli Hui`ia Church was one of the prettiest I have ever seen

On our final afternoon we drove way, way up into the Waimea Canyon State Park.

I think you can see why this is often called "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific!" We enjoyed the stunning views with waterfalls streaming down the mountainside. I wish we had had more time to do some hiking there, but all we could do was stop and take in a few of the beautiful overlooks.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my photos from this beautiful part of the U.S. I think we got to see some lovely sights in spite of the rain, flash flooding, and closed hiking trails that we encountered. And we certainly were forced to just stay home and relax when the weather was so terrible. I had been so far behind on my sleep with worrying about the wedding, my retirement decision, and trip planning, that I slept like a baby! 

A traditional birthday treat... My middle son turned 32 last week and, as he has ever since he was a little boy, he requested a "Giant Chocolate Eclair Dessert" as his birthday goodie. I cut the recipe in half as there were just four of us, but it still tasted delicious. My little Santa helpers seem to think it looks pretty yummy, too! I mean, what's not to like about a puffy pastry crust and layers of cream cheese, French vanilla pudding, and whipped topping. Oh, and don't forget the swirly chocolate topping!

Giant Chocolate Eclair for the birthday boy

How is everyone coming along with their Christmas preparations? I still don't have my tree decorated... I was visiting my mom last week, came back home, and will go up to New York again this week as she began having some health issues. But, she comes first right now--she is my best friend :)  I'll get my tree up at some point--even if it is just for a week! 

Thanks so much for visiting today--I know you, like me, have very limited hours to spend online at this time of year. Just want you to know how much I appreciate your comments, emails, and visits! Bye for now...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Catching up on Christmas and Maui photos

Happy last day of November! How is everyone? It's been a month of battling the flu here (and I heard last night on the news that the flu shot was only 10% effective this year here in the U.S.--what's up with that?!)... But, we are on the mend and looking forward to a wonderful (and healthy!) Christmas.

Before I go any further, I want to thank each of you for your wonderful comments on the wedding photos that you left on my last post. You are so sweet and my son and his wife were as touched as I was to read your kind words and well wishes. It truly was a magical day--two cultures and religions coming together so seamlessly. If only the entire world could feel the love and acceptance and support that my son and his bride felt that day... Thank you again!

Well, I'll bet you can guess what I've been stitching, can't you? Yep--Christmas ornaments! And, at this point, it looks like I might actually finish all twelve for the year. I have three to show you today--those for August, September, and October which leaves just two for the year. I think I can manage two! My ornament for August is this darling Little House Needleworks design called "Tree Lot." 

Little House Needleworks "The Tree Lot"

I just loved the detail in this one... the red, vintage truck, the tiny cardinals, the softly falling snow. To make it ornament sized, though, I had to stitch it over one and chose 28 ct. black Monaco so that the snow would show up well. It is really tiny and I took a photo of it next to a quarter so you could get a better idea of its size.

So tiny!

I made several changes to the colors and also added more snowflakes. To finish it off, I used that wonderful Woolies Flannel that I've become so fond of. It just reminded me of a cozy flannel shirt--the kind my sons used to wear during the cold winters here in western Pennsylvania. Some tiny white x's and handmade cording finished it off quite nicely, don't you think?

The Tree Lot all ready for my tree

For September's ornament, I chose to stitch another Prairie Schooler from Book No. 48: "A Christmas Visit." As I've mentioned before, this is one of my favorite PS books--seven delightful designs and it's still being sold for the original $6.00 price tag! I forgot to write down what fabric I used, but it is a very stiff higher count natural linen (perhaps 36 ct. dirty linen?). I forgot to take a "before" photo, but finished this one very simply (and very quickly!) with coordinating cording and a little bow.
I wonder how many Prairie Schooler Santas I have stitched this year?

October's ornament was one I stitched while in Hawaii--yes, I was stitching an icy snowman in warm Hawaii! I'm sure you'll all recognize this as a JBW design. "French Country Snowman" is stitched over one on 28 ct. white Monaco with GAST Blue Jay thread. I left off the words "In the Meadow We Can Build a Snowman" to make it ornament sized. Can you spot all the winter themed motifs that make up this design: the bell, the star, the ice skate, the mittens, the hats, the birds, the shovel, the trees, the snowballs? So cute!  I used a blue and white cording and a gauzy blue bow to finish it off.

JBW "French Country Snowman"

And, here is one last finish--I told you I've been stitching! A sweet baby gift for a newborn baby boy was such fun to stitch. This is one I've stitched before and it is also a JBW design called "Baby's First Christmas." For this one, I used 32 ct. black Belfast linen, made some color changes, and added the baby's name instead of the words "Baby's First Christmas." 

A new baby gift

Not sure if you can see them, but there are tiny red beads for the berries on the gingerbread boy's hat along with a white pompom at the very tip. I hope the new baby (and his mom and dad) enjoy hanging it on their tree for years to come!

Such a cutie!

Giveaway! And I have one last stitchy thing--a little chart giveaway. This one is from the November/December 1991 issue of "Cross Stitch and Country Crafts" magazine--an oldie, but goodie. It features a quintet of Santas which could be stitched in a group as shown or individually. I think the patriotic Santa is especially nice. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just four pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants them, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage. I'll announce the winner the next time I post...

Let me know in your comments if you would like to win this chart

So, on to Hawaii photos... What can I say about paradise? Except it wasn't--paradise that is! We had horrible weather; in fact, out of the ten full days we were there, it was sunny for only three. And what a difference that makes. You see, it wasn't just the lack of sunshine. It was two nine-hour power outages--one on Maui and one on Kauai combined with flash flooding, closed bridges and hiking trails, and a distinct lack of blue sky. We still enjoyed ourselves and it felt wonderful to relax after the wedding and celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, though. But, would we go back? That is debatable... Weather can really make or break a vacation!

Anyway, many of you had expressed interest in seeing some photos so here you go... I will just show scenes of Maui today and save Kauai for the next time...

Gray skies and clouds were the norm for the week
But, there were beautiful waterfalls everywhere due to all the rain!

Just look at this mountainside--three waterfalls in one photo!

Smiling even though it was a cloudy day

This was taken on the "Road To Hana"--a notoriously curvy, scary road

The view from our condo on the beach--we could look right down onto the water and see sea turtles!

The Grand Lahaina Luau was wonderful... tasty food and fun entertainment. We sat on the ground right up front while we ate and enjoyed the show. I was in awe at how those dancers moved--wow! Thought you might enjoy this short video that I took right at the end of the show...

A beautiful sunset at the luau

Such lovely flowers were everywhere

And so were the wild chickens that roamed the island freely!

This was probably our best day--weatherwise. We just relaxed on a non-crowded beach and my husband did some snorkeling.

The day we spent at the Haleakala volcano was so special. What made the biggest impression on me was the absolute silence as we hiked down into the crater.

We hiked for four hours down into the crater and back up. At over 10,000 feet above sea level, it made for a very tough trek... It was so amazing to be above the clouds!

Haleakala has erupted only three times in the past 900 years--glad it didn't choose to do so when we were visiting!

A sunset dinner cruise was a beautiful way to end our stay in Maui

Dinner cruise sunset with the island of Molokai in the background

My favorite place of the three Airbnb's that we stayed was a cottage in Kula, Maui. Such a treat to be in the mountains and experience beautiful sunsets like these! Total relaxation...


So, there you have it--Maui 2017. Up next post: Kauai, a very different island!

If you are still reading--thank you! I know this was a long post to get through... I really hope you enjoyed both my stitching and travel photos. I always love seeing your travel photos as there are so many places in the world I know I will never get to see. Hopefully, I've inspired some of you to travel there--as long as it's sunny!  Hope the month of December is good to you--busy, busy, I know. But, a joyful kind of busy and one that I am truly enjoying now that I'm retired. Thank you ever so much for your kind comments and emails--I do appreciate them! Bye for now...