Monday, September 26, 2011

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Well, it's almost embarrassing how long it's been since I posted something in my journal. I must say, we were so busy this summer it's almost a blur! After we came home from Africa, we went to our cottage in Maine. It was delightful, as usual, but way too short! Just like everyone else on the eastern seaboard, we were glued to the Weather Channel once "Irene" became an issue. She was the cause of us driving home early so we could be here in Philadelphia and worry about our house in person! Thankfully, for us (apart from the damaging, endless rain!) it was a non event. In a week's time, my husband and I are off to Sweden! He will be teaching there for a week. I have never been to that part of Europe so I am really looking forward to it! Once I get home, I should have more time to write which will be nice.
I wanted to post this embroidery picture. I have had it on my computer with my pictures as a reference. I am pretty sure it is from a museum. I am guessing the age would be 17th, or 18th century, and again I assume it's English. I do know the subject matter. It is King David and Absalom, his son. David is playing the harp and Absalom is hanging by his hair from a tree. As is typical of embroidered caskets and embroidered Biblical pictures of that era, they usually cram the whole story into the picture which is what they have done here. I love this embroidery piece!

Posted by Mary at 05:58 PM CST




Wednesday, June 22, 2011

masai-mara-national-reserve (30k image)
This past weekend my husband and I returned from three weeks in Africa. The purpose of our trip was for my husband to teach at Scott Theological College just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Before he started his teaching, we went to the Maasai Mara game preserve. I must say it was the most amazing trip we have ever taken. Initially, we were worried that we would not wake up in the mornings on time to meet our driver. We should have had no worries! We stayed at the Sarova Mara Game Camp in a tent (beautiful accommodations!). Every morning the Ibis bird would wake us up with her piercing screams! It was literally like someone coming into our tent and screaming at the top of their lungs. I mentioned the scream of this bird to someone at Scott College. She said, "I know they scream, but they are great birds!" When I asked "why" she informed me that they killed snakes. Frankly, I decided that was too much information for me. I would have been happier not knowing about the snakes � animals are great, but not snakes!

Posted by Mary at 02:42 PM CST




Thursday, May 12, 2011

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Recently, a dear friend of mine sent me some poems written by her granddaughter. As I read them I thought, what an amazing gift she has to make food and an inanimate object come to life! While some of the words might be of her own creation, it only adds to the charm. Did I mention that she is 12 years old? I think I love her poetry because of it's imagination and it is also why I love samplers and folk art. The way in which young stitchers, artists and poets express themselves is refreshingly creative and innocent. It reminds me of the Nursery Rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle and the wonderful pictures associated with it (as pictured above).
So here are two poems written by Claire Swanson. Enjoy!

Ode to Scrambled Eggs

Yellow, lumpy, yet so yummy!
Sitting there perfectly still.
Not a word at all.


Silver streaks of elegants
Twirl into long pale snakes
Dive into a jiggely cherry pool
Stab into a chocolaty mountain.

The snakes, the pool, and mountain
Are all offered up to a deep cave
Continuing to open and close.

Posted by Mary at 11:55 AM CST




Wednesday, May 4, 2011

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Spring is in full bloom in the Philadelphia area. I must say, of all the places I have lived (except England), this is the most beautiful spring I have experienced. There are so many flowering trees, bushes and spring flowers. It makes me happy just to look outside! There are also though many large black bee type insects flying around. Since I have been working out in the yard and planting more flowers (can you ever have too many flowers?), I have noticed these intimidating "black bees". I had no idea what they were, but today I searched google until I discovered that they are carpenter bees. Anything with the word "carpenter" in front of it sounds destructive. As I read on, sure enough, these bees bore holes in wood to deposit their larvae. There are numerous carpenter bees flying all around our house, garage, and pool area. Now I know what all the holes are in the wood around the pool. I guess on a positive note, while they might destroy all the wood around my house, at least they don't sting!

Posted by Mary at 02:38 PM CST




Friday, April 29, 2011

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I have been shamelessly watching TV for three hours or more. I must say, the royal wedding did not disappoint! I loved everything about it. I thought Kate's wedding dress was stunning. Finally, a wedding dress with sleeves. The lace on the bodice was just beautiful. Apparently, it was all hand made in England. Her dress reminded me of Grace Kelly's wedding dress. The flowers were perfect. I liked hearing that a sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet was planted as a slip, and sprigs from it have continually been included in royal wedding bouquets. The other unusual thing that I thought made such an impression were the trees in Westminster Abbey. I feel like getting my fascinator out and wearing it in honor of the big day!

Posted by Mary at 02:50 PM CST




Friday, April 15, 2011

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If you have read my journal for any length of time, you are probably aware of the fact that I am a frustrated farmer. Let me rephrase that. I am a frustrated owner of a farm. I love looking at all the animals and the awesome beauty of pastoral farm scenes.
This past year I have vicariously benefited from a fabulous estate that is just a few minutes from my house. The estate is also a working farm. It consists of an amazing 18th century stone farmhouse with wonderful old barns, a charming stone cottage, and other interesting out buildings. In the beautiful hillside pastures of this expansive property, there are sheep, goats, and a huge horse. I have been able to enjoy this because my cousin manages the estate. In March I told him to call me when the lambs were born. Last week he called and said they had lots of lambs. Today I went over and did what I would do best as a farmer. I watched. The little lambs were adorable and so white! As I watched them, my cousin said it was going to be a bad day for the lambs. When I asked why, he informed me it was time to cut off their tails, staple something in their ears, and one other horrible thing that I, thankfully, can't remember. It sort of ruined my idyllic vision of the farm. I think I'll stick with watching and enjoying the farm - from a distance!

Posted by Mary at 07:02 PM CST




Thursday, March 10, 2011

iStock_000002028647XSmall (229k image)A few days ago my husband and I returned from visiting family in Arkansas. We had to change planes in Chicago. While most people would find that disturbing, we were thrilled to be in the airport again! We traveled so much when we lived in Chicago that the airport was like another home! The one thing that I did notice when we were at O'Hare this time was the fact that everyone seemed to have a phone slash computer glued to his or her hand. Because of our lay over, I think I did more people watching. What I observed was people communicating so much with other people over the phone, that ironically they weren't talking, or listening to anyone around them. I actually think this has hurt our society. With technology the way it is now, we are always "connected" and yet, not connecting at all. I hope that as time goes by people will begin again to cherish quiet times. Who knows, maybe they might even pick up that unfinished needlework project they started ten years ago! I seem to have a few of those around!

Posted by Mary at 02:23 PM CST




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

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This is a picture my son-in-law took of ruins in Rome when our family was there several years ago. For some reason, I really like Roman ruins. I guess there is still enough form left in them so that you can kind of tell what it might have looked like two thousand years ago. This was one of my favorite places in Rome. It is near the Coliseum and is called the Forum. I enjoyed imagining what it all must have been like. Actually, with spring just around the corner, I am imagining all the surprises of spring blossoms that the former owner told me would pop up all around my garden. I just discovered some snow drops under a large pine tree. They were hiding under a fallen branch. When we picked up the branch and saw the flowers, my husband and I acted as though we had never seen flowers before. I am looking forward to spring!

Posted by Mary at 02:00 PM CST


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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Thought you might like to see a close up of Lilly's Stocking stitched by Mary Natwick. For more on Mary Natwick and her stockings just scroll down to the previous post. This is Sampler Stocking 11. It is in Pocketbook Needlework 1998 along with Sampler Stocking 12.

Posted by Mary at 12:31 PM CST

Monday, February 14, 2011

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While Christmas is very much over, I just couldn't wait until next fall to share this with you! Aren't these stockings lovely? When I look at all of them, I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work involved! The commitment to stitch these stockings began many years ago.
Mary Natwick writes for her Sampler Guild an explanation of how this all began. She says, "I started stitching the Sampler Stockings for my family in 1999 and stitch as a new member to the family arrives. Jack's stocking was given Christmas, 2010. And number 12 is on the rods for our new daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, for Christmas, 2011. Needless to say, these stockings live at my house for now. They are a pleasure to stitch and joy to bring out each year and hang from the mantle."
This picture will soon go on Mary's Gallery page to update her newly finished stockings. If you haven't visited my Gallery, please do! It is on the side bar. Just scroll down a bit. There are many interesting photographs and comments by my customers.
I actually have fourteen Sampler Stockings now available. The first ten are sold individually. The last four are in my series Pocketbook Needlework. Sampler Stocking 11 and 12 are in Pocketbook Needlework 1998 and Sampler Stocking 13 and 14 are in Pocketbook Needlework 2003. Do you see Lilly's stocking? That is Sampler Stocking 11 from Pocketbook Needlework 1998.

Posted by Mary at 02:09 PM CST

Thursday, February 10, 2011

iStock_000010226994XSmall (216k image)With all of the bad weather we have been having, I have had more time to contemplate my kitchen. After moving numerous times over the past thirty-three years, you would think I could move into at least ONE house where I did not feel the need to remodel the kitchen. It's not like I don't know that remodeling a kitchen is torture because I remember each and every kitchen job we've ever done. I always swear that I will NEVER remodel another kitchen. Maybe that's my problem. I should not use the word "never."
Anyway, I am thinking of what I want to do. I always dream big first. That's the fun part! Then I have to get practical. That's not particularly fun at all. I am having more fun this time dreaming of what I could do because this kitchen has amazing "bone structure." Its walls are stone and the beams are exposed. I'm thinking I want another fireplace in there. It would need to be little, but I love that idea. The house already has three fireplaces, as my husband points out. But, can you ever have too many fireplaces? I don't think so. I want open shelves too. I also think that Formica is going to make a comeback. I am warming up to the idea of Formica with stainless steal edging. Just remember I said it first! I will keep you posted on this new kitchen remodel.

Posted by Mary at 06:51 PM CST

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

iStock_000011682924XSmall (201k image)I thought I should post something while we still have power here (and I sincerely hope it stays on). I have become addicted to the weather channel listening to them talk about this "storm of the century". Because they are a twenty-four hour network and they have to hold our interest so we'll tune in, I wondered if we were really in for the storm of the century. I couldn't decide if I should take them seriously, then a friend sent me a satellite picture of the storm from space. I think I am going to put my money on the fact that it's going to be a really big storm with lots of ice and snow.








Posted by Mary at 06:08 PM CST

Monday, January 24, 2011

I don't like to post "You Tube" videos because they look ugly, but I am making an exception this time! I have been watching this series, "Downton Abbey" on PBS and you just must watch this short video and then tune in on Sundays. The show is on every Sunday evening until the end of January. You know of my love for the English countryside and it's marvelous country homes, well, this series has it all. The house does not disappoint! The story line is also very interesting. In reality, this "country home" is a castle. In my opinion, it has a rather grand cozy feel to it. If you haven't seen the show, take a look!

Posted by Mary at 04:40 PM CST

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

iStock_000003428800XSmall (267k image)I really love classic style. Blue and white patterns such as Blue Willow and Asiatic Pheasant, along with many others, never look dated or out of place. The question becomes what do you do with broken pieces? They can become a table top, or part of a mosaic container, or anything else you can dream up! I think Carla’s strawberries (below) have started me thinking. What clever thing can I do with all of my thirty years worth of stitched pieces that I created for color combination ideas? I thought of a book, but that doesn’t sound too exciting. As Winnie-the-Pooh says, I will have to sit down and have a think! Any thoughts?

Posted by Mary at 01:49 PM CST

Thursday, January 13, 2011

iStock_000011603026XSmall (294k image)While I thought I was familiar with most British gardening terms, I came across something in one of my gardening books that I had never heard of before. It’s called a "Ha-ha". Although I read what my book wrote about it, I still didn't understand what it was, so I googled it (what did we do before google?). I found this definition:
"Ha-ha is a term in garden design that refers to a trench in which one side is concealed from view, designed not to interrupt the view from a garden, or park, while maintaining a physical barrier at least in one direction, usually to keep livestock out."
So if I wanted to keep the deer out of our garden, I should dig a trench and then say, "ha, ha!" when they couldn't get over to my garden and eat all of my flowers. Sadly, I don't think it will work for deer. It is a brilliant idea for livestock though. You can watch them without fear of invasion!

Posted by Mary at 04:36 PM CST

Friday, January 7, 2011

strawberries (290k image)

Aren't these wonderful? They are "strawberries" made by Carla Michaels. She used them in her Christmas decorating to add more dimension to her Christmas garlands. She said the garlands (which were NOT real) had my Medieval Angel stockings and medieval ornaments scattered throughout. She then searched through all of my Pocketbook Needlework series to find repeat patterns to make the strawberries. I absolutely love them! I am planning to feature Carla's Christmas decorations next fall and I will also provide you with Carla's "how to" on making the strawberries. Feel free to email me if you want to get an early start.

Posted by Mary at 06:26 PM CST

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

iStock_000014051497XSmall (130k image)Happy New Year! While we haven't had much snow here in the Philadelphia area, we did get a foot of snow the day after Christmas. It was such fun to have all the kids here plus Maggie, my daughter and son-in-law's golden retriever. The kids are all back home now, but my house is a wreck. There is dog hair everywhere, sheets and towels all over the laundry room get the picture. Anyway, with the holidays over, the toilet out of my bedroom, and the hall bath put back together, I am going to be able to get back to work for the first time in two years! I am excited. I do have a project in the works for next Christmas, but I'd like to do some small projects as well. I am looking forward to the New Year!

Posted by Mary at 02:34 PM CST