Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BEST BOOKS 2015!!!!!!!!!

2015 was another great year of reading.  Books are definitely my number one solace in life!  Here is my annual top ten list.  You can click on the written book titles to go to the Amazon page to learn more about each book.  Please let me know what some of your favorite reads of the year were!  Wishing everyone a wonderful 2016 full of great books, great friends, great stitching and lots of what you enjoy doing!

1.  NUMBER ONE!!!!!!!!  IT'S. NICE. OUTSIDE BY JIM KOKORIS.  I heartily recommend this book to everyone!!!  It was a great story and very touching.  And funny!  Also, Mr. Kokoris is a local author to my area.  I could not put this book down once I started it.  It is definitely the best book I have read this year!!!!  Also, if you have not read Jim's first novel, The Rich Part of Life, get that one right away too.  It is a real winner!

2.  The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  Wow!  This was quite a thrilling read.  It is a dystopian futuristic novel so you kind of have to like that type of book (my Mom does not!).  This is another book that I could not put down.  

3.  Home is Burning by Dan Marshall.  I hate to sound like a broken record, but I could not put this book down either.  This is a memoir.  The story of a 20 something man that went home to take care of his parents who were in poor health.  It is brutally honest and full of swearing.  I loved it!

4.  Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.  Another brutally honest memoir (my favorite type of book!).  Another great read.  

5. This is a trilogy.  Pure is the first of the series.  I read Pure in 2012 and it was my number two book that year.  This year I read Pure again and then followed it up with the remaining two novels in the trilogy.  The story is brilliant.  The writing is amazing.  And the main characters are astounding.  These books are classified as Young Adult, but they are a great read for any age.  Be aware, the subject matter is strange and the very dystopian, but these are some of the best books I ever read in my life.  Highly recommended.  Pure, Fuse and Burn by Juliana Baggott. 

6.  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  Historical Fiction.  Set in France during WWII.  Great story and writing.  Page turner.  Does not disappoint!!!!!

7.   Close Your Eyes and Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian.  I picked this up on a whim one day and was entranced.  Fabulous book.

8.  Escape Points by Michele Weldon.  Another memoir.  Another local author.  Did you read her first book?  The title of it was I Closed My Eyes.  Michele is another person who writes the honest raw truth (very rare!).  

 9.  A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.  I love Anne Tyler.  Anytime she has a book come out it is cause for celebration.  This was a wonderful family story and, of course, it was so well written. 

 10.  I Was a Child by Bruce Eric Kaplan.  Another memoir.  I remember laughing out loud to this one. 

 Now I can't wait to start the books of 2016!!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Stitcher's Christmas Party at Brenda's House

We had our annual stitching group Christmas party last weekend.  Brenda was our gracious hostess.  This is a picture of her Christmas tree filled with stitched ornaments.  It is a show stopper for sure!!!!!!!!!!

Before I show you all the pictures I have to tell you that this annual Christmas get together is one of the absolute highlights of my Christmas!  I think we all look forward to it every year.  I am so blessed to have this group of friends to go through life with!  Not to mention the stitching part of our group.  I love each one of these gals so much!!!!  We are lucky, lucky, lucky.

 Here is the beautiful tablescape that Brenda had for us.  She used her beautiful heirloom china.  
 She made us a wonderful lunch!!!!
And these cookies!!!!!!!  The best in the world!

As per usual, I failed to get a picture of all of us.  Or any of us for that matter (except for one of Karin, coming up).  So the following are the sights I was lucky to see at Brenda's fabulously decorated house!!!!  It was quite a thrill!

 As mentioned above, Brenda's ornaments are just so wonderful.  This one above is from one of the JCS Christmas ornament editions.  I need to start one for myself stat!
 This ornament is a design from Threadwork Primitives.  I have loved this design since the moment I saw it.  I have it stitched at my house too.
 Here is a Prairie Schooler ornament.  Another one I need to go work on now!!!
 We were all together....except for one.  Karin lives in New York now.  She sent her gifts to us and this is a picture of them all together along with a darling little tree and part of Joyeux Noel by BBD.   Our saving grace with having Karin so far away is that we can text with each other and she is able to come back every now and then for a visit.  Otherwise, we would be up in arms!!!
 Brenda stitched this darling snowman this year and finished it right away into this darling pillow.
 I was charmed by these vintage ornaments in a this glass display with some snow.  These are ornaments from Brenda's mom. 

 Every year we have a Christmas ornament exchange.  I stitched this one a couple of years ago and Brenda was the recipient.  I need to stitch it again for my tree.  It is very cute (if I do say so myself!)
 Miss Teresa was working on this wonderful Prairie Schooler sampler as we sat around the table after lunch.
 I thought this was a darling decorative touch by Brenda to have this little book out underneath a Christmas tree.  It was even more special because it was signed to her from her grandma and dated 1971.
 Here is another dear ornament that I need to stitch stat!  It was also in a JCS ornament issue and is by the wonderful Paulette of Plum Street Samplers.

 Here we are face-timing with Karin as we opened gifts and had our ornament exchange.  Technology sure helps us out!
 Karin stitched this ornament for Teresa!  So dear!  It is by Heartstring Samplery. 
 Teresa stitched Let it Snow for our ornament exchange.
 Patti stitched this darling Shepard's Bush for the exchange (and I was the lucky recipient!).
 For the exchange Karin stitched this Homespun Elegance ornament.
 This is the ornament that I stitched.  I can't remember the designer right now.  It is a French designer.
This is the ornament that Brenda stitched for the exchange.  It is by Little House Needleworks.
 I brought this newly framed piece for show and tell.  This is a project that I started years ago and finally finished this year. It is by Blackbird Designs.  I used a 36 count Lakeside linen and silk threads which was so much fun!  I am a definite convert to that now.
We then had a wonderful dessert! 

I wish I could really capture in words and pictures the perfect time that we all had.  Thank you to Brenda, Patti, Linda, Pat, Teresa, Karin and Kellie for being such awesome friends.

Merry Christmas to everyone!!!!!  Hope that Santa brings you something fun to stitch. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Country Sampler 2015

 Lucky us!  Again! We were able to all get away for a weekend together of fun and stitching.  We try to plan at least two weekends a year of time for stitching "retreats" where we go somewhere fun and just hang out.  Country Sampler in Spring Green, Wisconsin is absolutely one of our most favorite places on Earth.  The shop is beyond fabulous and the town is just perfect for strolling about and shopping.  Above is a picture of all of us at Granite City in Madison.  This is always our first stop for lunch.   Sorry, the flash did not go off on this picture.
 Here are some great shop pictures.  Above is a fabulous piece by Plum Street Samplers.  We were all in love with it.  The colors just popped and the design is so fabulous.
 Another great vignette with one of Tanya of The Scarlett House amazing pieces. 
 I love this special Stacy Nash piece and need to start it stat!!!
 Perfect combo of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas!
 Several of my friends kitted up this very cool long and narrow sampler.
 Country Sampler has quilts, home accessories and stitching.  This Halloween quilt is just perfection!
 Here are Linda and Karin taking a moment from shopping to have their pic taken!
 I was really taken with this dear Christmas sampler by With Thy Needle and Thread.
Here is what I was working on during the weekend.  I started The Red Chair Sampler by The Scarlett House!!!!  

I should have taken tons more pictures, but I was a more subdued than usual on this trip.  Needless to say, it was a perfect weekend with people who are so very dear to me.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Last Day at Summer School

Our last day of summer school arrived.  We had a grand finale of sorts with this beautiful project by Linda Vinson of Needlemade Designs.  Linda designed this beautiful Civil War Huswife and gave us an amazing history lesson too. 
 Linda's relatives are pictured in the projects directions and history. 
 Linda's packaging of the materials was wonderful.
 Here is the finished Huswife.

Jeanne's husband is a master wood worker and he made each of us this amazing thread winder that you see peeking out of the huswife.  It was thrilling to receive this whole kit.  I am hoping to finish mine for my Mom who is a major Civil War historian is a past president of the Chicago Civil War Round Table. 

 I purchased a new magnification light to help me stitch on the higher counts that are used by The Attic.  I am really a 32 count stitcher so it was a real shift to stitch on 40 count.  This light helped and also allowed me to use a very darling embroidery hoop.


Pat remained dedicated to her Mexican sampler deer throughout the weekend and was able to finish the stitching on the deer.  She was fueled by her VIP Diet Coke!

Of course we had to make one final stop at the store before boarding our flight back to Chicago. 

 These are the things that caught my eye on my last trip to the store for 2015 (see how I said that.....that means I am going back in 2016!!!!  I hope!)

I bought these scraps of fabric so that I can play with stitching on a higher count with silk threads and also play with stitching over one on 28 count. 

We really had a most fabulous time in Arizona at The Attic.  We made tons of memories and met new friends.  I hope we can go back again.  It was truly sheer perfection.  Thanks to my BFF's, Karin, Brenda, Teresa and Pat!!!  Also, we missed having the rest of our group, Linda, Patti and Kellie with us.  Next time let's all go!!!!!