Thursday, May 28, 2015

Outer Banks Wildlife

Good evening everyone!  We just had some monster thunder rolling through.  The cats get super nervous when its that loud.  Just being inside the house isn't good enough, they have to hide under a piece of furniture too.  Maybe they know something I don't...

In my last post, I mentioned how much I enjoyed seeing the wildlife on our vacation at the Outer Banks.  I thought I'd share a few pictures of that wildlife tonight.

One of the first animal sightings we had was at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Look how close these deer let me get!  We saw deer several times over the week, but this encounter was amazing to me because of their complete lack of fear.


The wild rabbits were the most common animal we saw (other than birds of course).

Oracoke Island has a population of wild ponies.  I'm not sure how 'wild' they really are since they've been living in pens for decades (to protect them from cars and vice versa), but they were an enjoyable sight all the same.

A few miles north of our beach cottage was the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. It's known as an excellent place to bird watch.

This tri-colored heron was one of the few birds that I could actually identify.  A lot of them just looked like 'seabirds' to my untrained eye.

There were so many pelicans swooping about.  I think there is something prehistoric about the appearance of these birds.  They fascinate me.  We also saw some sort of duck, migrating just off the shore in wave after wave.  There were literally hundreds of them flying past our cottage.  Don't know what they were, but Alton and I were both fascinated.

Speaking of a prehistoric appearance, how about this lovely old turtle?  He was hanging out with a few friends in one of the ponds in the wildlife refuge.

Probably the animals I was most excited about seeing were the dolphins we watched swimming just north of the Rodanthe Pier.  They were swimming near a group of surfers.  This was only the second time in my life that I'd seen dolphins in the wild, with the first time being on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  I could have watched those guys knifing through the waters for hours if they hadn't swam away from view.

That's all for tonight.  Stay dry and stay safe!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm back; Visiting the OBX

Hello everyone!  It's certainly been a while since I posted.  What can I say?  Life has been busy, and I haven't always felt about sharing what's been going on.  And sometimes I've felt like I couldn't share even if I wanted to.  My stitching is often for design models, and my personal was filled with the rather large task of applying to be adoptive parents.  That's right, Alton and I are hoping to adopt.  We were approved in December, and now we're just waiting for someone to choose us to raise their beloved child.  Some days I wonder if it will ever happen.  Other days I am perfectly at peace, trusting that God will provide us with a baby if and when it is the right time.  I'm sure I'll have more to share about the adoption process in the weeks and months to come, but for now, it's time for some vacation pictures!

Late last month, Alton and I spent a week staying in a cottage on Hatteras Island here in North Carolina.  For those who don't know, OBX is a shortened version of "Outer Banks," the barrier islands on North Carolina's coast.  We didn't have the warmest or sunniest weather while we were there, but we really enjoyed our vacation.  For one thing, it wasn't crowded at all!  It made me super happy that we could walk along the beaches and see no one else at all for long stretches of time.  And, it meant that we got to see a lot more wildlife than we probably would have otherwise.

We headed onto the islands around midday on a Saturday, and immediately stopped at the Bodie Island lighthouse.


The light had just opened for climbing this season on the day before we arrived.  Perfect timing!  It was a lot of stairs, and my asthma certainly made it a challenge to climb.  But the cool weather certainly made it easier to achieve than it would have been mid-summer!  The staircase is actually rather pretty when you look down from the top:


Sort of looks like a seashell pattern, doesn't it?  We took a selfie from the top.  Let me tell you, it is no easy task to take a picture of ourselves with the phone!  There is a foot difference in our heights, so Alton has to crouch a little, I have to stand on tiptoes, and sometimes you can tell we're working really hard at it.  The results sometimes frustrate me, but often just make me laugh.  Sort of like this one:


Odd expressions and all, I think you can tell we're enjoying ourselves.

We actually stayed in the town of Rodanthe, about a block from the house made 'famous' in the Richard Gere movie "Nights in Rodanthe."  No, we haven't seen the movie.  I thought about renting it for us to watch, but it sounds like a cheesy romance, and I really have to be in the right mood for that.  Each night we would open the windows in our bedroom just a little bit and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.  I loved that!  I find that sound so relaxing and peaceful.

Just down the beach from us, in plain view from the cottage, was the Chicamacomico lifesaving station.  Isn't that a cool looking building?  It's the oldest building on the station's sight, and I really love it's unusual look.  The site is now a museum (the station was decommissioned in the 1950s) and we were able to tour several buildings.  In the summer, they do lifesaving drills to show what it would have been like if they had to rescue people from a distressed ship.

Inside the Midgett house, which is on the station grounds, we saw this piece of needlework hanging in one of the bedrooms.  I've never seen anything quite like it.  It's obviously a piece of feed sack with thick wool yarn drawn through it.  Some sort of early 20th century sampler?  A pillow case?  I'm just not sure!  It's interesting though.

We also visited the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, which is the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.  We climbed it too.  Even more steps!  But the views from the top were quite lovely.  You could even see the path that the lighthouse took when they moved it away from the shore back in the 1990s.

We completed our 'lighouse tour' with a visit to Ocracoke Lighthouse on Ocracoke Island.  This one is significantly shorter than the other two we climbed, and it's not open to the public, so no more stairs for us!  Ocracoke was an interesting island to visit.  We saw the lighthouse, the downtown harbor, toured the local historical society's tiny museum, and saw the graveyard where four British sailors were buried in the 1940s. We even found a tiny little museum about Blackbeard the pirate, who was killed just off the shore from this island.

A few months ago, I discovered this website called Roadside America that lists weird roadside attractions from all over the United States.  There were quite a few on the Outer Banks, and I think we saw every one of them listed for the southern islands, including this weird ufo house, complete with odd yard art.  What makes someone decide to build something like this, lol?


We also spent an afternoon exploring the dunes around this abandoned life saving station on Pea Island.  It's boarded up, and they've removed the stairs to the porch, so you can't go inside.  It was interesting to walk around it though.  And from there you can walk up to the mouth of the Oregon Inlet.  We stood on a beach that was entirely empty, but you could see that a massive number of birds had occupied the beach in recent days.  The sand was covered in bird footprints, and, um, bird poo.  Must have been a sight to see when the sands were covered by the birds themselves.

Well, I guess that's enough sharing for today.  We left the Outer Banks the day after an impressive spring storm.  The surf had come up amazingly high that night, and the road off the island was covered with patches of sand.  Nature's power is awe inspiring at times like that!  Til next time (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later), enjoy your days and stay safe!






Saturday, August 9, 2014

Holiday stitching

Good evening (or morning, as the case may be)!  I wanted to share another pattern of mine that will be available beginning next weekend.  This one is a Halloween piece, similar in style to my Springtime on Hodge Hill design.  It is stitched on 32 count Wren linen from Picture This Plus, using Weeks overdyed cotton threads.  



It was fun to design, and fun to stitch.  Hope you enjoy seeing it!  

Just a short post tonight.  I will finish up showing my new designs tomorrow or Monday.  For now, I'm off to finish working on a wedding sampler for a friend.  A relative had begun it for her years ago, and I was happy to be able to finally finish it for her.  Her relative crosses her x's the opposite direction from me, and she redesigned parts of the chart she was using, so it has been a fun challenge to work on.  I'm hoping to be done with it by tomorrow evening.

Stay dry, stay cool, find some time to be creative if you can.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's time for St. Charles!!!

Despite my best blogging intentions, it seems that another couple of months have slipped away without a single post from me.  I think about blogging.  I even take photos to use for a post.  But then the post never happens, and I'm not even sure why.

At any rate, I'm here today, and I wanted to share SOME of what I've been working on these past few months.  It's almost time for the St Charles needlework market, and I have 4 new pieces that will be available at the show.  I'll share two today, and the other two in a day or two.

First up is my newest reproduction sampler, Antonia de Cruzba.  This one is a Spanish sampler I picked up at a local antiques fair for a good price.  It is very faded on the front, but you can see from the back that there were a couple of shades of pink in the sampler that are absolutely undetectable from the front.  Here's the orginal sampler:


And here's what it looks like once you add those pinks and use a clean piece of linen:

The model is stitched on 40 count Parchment linen from Weeks Dye Works using silk threads from NPI and Rainbow Gallery.  It is almost a perfect square, but not quite.  If you stitch it on 40 count, it is almost exactly the same size as the original sampler.  Although it is A LOT of stitching, the only types of stitches used are cross stitch and satin stitch.

This second piece is a Christmas ornament.  I actually designed it last year, and debated on what to do with it.  Well, here it is, all cleaned up and available as a chart:


It can be VERY difficult to capture the true color of a stitched piece when you are photographing it, and that is certainly the case with this piece.  The ornament is on a lovely piece of 35 count Guacomole linen from Weeks Dye Works, and you don't quite see that pretty green in this picture.  The stitching is all done with Weeks Dye Works overdyed cottons.

If you like what you see, please ask your LNS to order the patterns for you!  All of my designs are under the name "Threads of Memory," but they can be found in the Cherished Stitches room at the market, or, if your shop isn't going to market, they can be ordered through Cherished Stitches: lucystitch@earthlink.net .  If you have any questions about my designs, feel free to leave me a comment, or email me at robin@threadsofmemory.com .

Next time, I will share my Halloween design and a limited edition kit for a small pin pillow.  Til then, stay crafty my friends!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Exploring the Alabama Coast

WARNING!!!  THERE ARE SOME FABULOUS SNAKE PHOTOS AT THE END OF THIS POST.  IF YOU ARE A SNAKE HATER, PLEASE DO NOT SCROLL DOWN PAST THE EIGHTH PHOTO!!!

There Dad, you have been warned.  And I'm sticking lots of photos in so that no one will be taken by surprise.  That said, I thought I'd share a few images from a trip Mom and I took to Mississippi and Alabama last month.  It was beautiful, cool and sunny weather for one day on our trip, and we took full advantage of the gorgeous weather to get out and explore the Gulf Coast.

We rented a car in Biloxi, and intended to drive to Mobile and check out some of the historic houses and museums in that city.  The day started off with a bang.  The rental agency had no cars of the class that I had reserved and offered us an alternative vehicle....  a sweet little black Ford Mustang.  No problem!  We cruised down the coast in our fabulous ride, but on the way decided to take advantage of the nice weather and detoured to Bellingrath Home and Gardens.  Since that's where the snakes were, we'll get to that later.

As we left Bellingrath, we saw signs for Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, a mere 15 minutes from our location.  So we ditched the idea of going to Mobile and drove over a fabulously long bridge onto Dauphin Island.  We toured Fort Gaines, a Civil War Fort, and then explored the rest of the small island.  I have to admit, I was more excited to discover that Dauphin Island was a major bird refuge currently swarming with migrating birds than I was about seeing the old fort.  This is probably evidenced by the fact that I have no pictures of the fort itself.  But there were tons and tons of bird and beach photos on my camera.

I thought this old log right outside of the fort looked really cool.

And instead of taking pictures of the ruined boat hull outside of the Fort, I took a photo of this mockingbird? sitting on top of it.

By the time we finished exploring the fort, Mom had reached her walking quota for the day.  So she sat in a shady spot in the Dauphin Island bird sanctuary while I took a whirlwind hike through the area.  It had rained VERY heavily during the week leading up to our visit, so much of the paths were muddy, or completely flooded and impassible.  I did, however, find a low boardwalk over the swampy water that turned out to be absolutely fascinating.

I stood just a few feet away from this Green Heron and watched him fish.


 Meanwhile, above him in the trees, this brightly colored Prothonotary Warbler (I think) was flitting around.


There were lots of other birds that I did not get decent photos of.  Just a little bit away from the heron, I could see a otter/beaver/marine mammal gliding around in the water.  But by the time I was able to walk over to get a closer look, a group of LOUD people had arrived, and the little critter had disappeared.  I don't understand why people would walk into a bird sanctuary talking at the top of their lungs and crashing around like bigfoot.  You're not going to see anything if you're making that much noise, so why are you there?

Flashing back to Bellingrath: This place had acres and acres of beautiful gardens that are open to the public.  One of the prettiest areas was the rose garden.

I love roses.  I would love to have a garden just swimming with beautiful roses.


So what do you think?  Is this a nice friendly lion, or his he about to turn someone into a snack?


There was also a small area of the property that is considered a wildlife sanctuary.  It was interesting to walk through, but we didn't see any birds, or fish, or turtles.  But we did see....


A big old water moccasin!!!!  Don't worry, this closeup is due to my zoom lens.  I wasn't going to get to close this guy.  We were on an elevated footpath, and he was many feet below us, basking in the sun.  There was a lady next to us who really wanted to bonk him in the head with her empty drink bottle.  Thankfully, her husband talked her out of it.


At yet another location, I saw this tiny guy swimming through a pond.  Based on the shape of his head, I'm thinking he is also a poisonous snake (again, I was on a bridge, he was far away down below).  Maybe a baby water moccasin?

It was at this point that I invented a new game called "Snake!"  You walk through the woods and suddenly shout "SNAKE!" at your companion.  Their job is to guess whether you really saw a snake, or you're just kidding.  Mom really hates this game.  I guess it's a good thing she loves me so much.

That's all for now.  Hope you weren't too bored looking at more of my travel photos. I'm off to stitch a little.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Some stitching to share

Good morning world!  Today I thought I would share a few photos of some of the pieces I've been stitching on recently.  First up, a finish.  I pulled the kit for Isabella Cook out a month or two ago.  (we interrupt this post to say, "Whoah!  A giant bird just swooped past my window!"  No clue whether it was an eagle, hawk, or heron, since it was mostly out of the corner of my eye, but it was definitely startling to see.  Okay, back to stitching...)  This is an Essamplaire kit, and it's a very small sampler, so it stitched up very quickly:


I have also started working on "Summer at Hollyberry Farm" by Stacy Nash.  I stuck this in my bag and took it with me to Merlefest a few weekends ago.  What could be better than a long day sitting in the sun, listening to great music with my sweetie, all while stitching away?  Oh, but just in case I wasn't nerdy enough by stitching at a bluegrass concert, I decided to stitch this one over-one.  Why?  I think those exhibits at Woodlawn are having a bad influence on me!  Here's what I got done over that weekend:


And finally, I have been stitching on the Blackbird Designs stitchalong.  I think we're supposed to share our photos with them via Instagram.  I don't do Instagram.  So I'm sharing with you here instead.  I'm using belle soie silks on a 36 count linen.  Most of my colors are the ones that they shared on their blog, but not all of them.  I just used what I had available.



I am also working on 2 reproduction samplers from my own collection.  I'll share photos of those as I make a little more progress.  Til next time, have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A tisket, a tasket, a really fancy casket

Tuesday was not such a great day for me.  Late Monday night I forgot that eating rich chocolate late at night is a bad idea, and so I woke up with a severe headache.  I spent most of the day in bed, sleeping or being bored.  But there was a bright spot to the day.  This package arrived late in the afternoon:


The first thing I saw upon opening the big box was this:


My very own cabinet!  There was lots of padding to remove, and another box.  Finally, this sweet piece was revealed:


It took me quite a while to figure out how to open all the secret (and not so secret) compartments.  And boy, do I have a lot of work ahead of me to get this thing into finished shape!

I have learned recently that the last of our specialty threads have finally arrived and are on their way to us.  My plan is to work with those fibers on the miniature box we were provided last year, and practice applying papers and fabric to that box before moving on to work on this big one.  So this will be a long work in progress.  Still, I'm excited to have the casket itself with me!

In other news, the eggs that I shared about back in March hatched right around Easter.  I have to say, baby birds are kind of ugly.  I didn't take many photos, because I tried to disturb the nest as little as possible.  Here's one shortly before they were ready to leave the nest:


Doesn't the guy at the very bottom look like he's rather grumpy about being squished by the others?

A day or two after I took this photo, I saw one of the babies sitting in a bush near the front door, with his parents, or siblings, or both, fluttering around in the trees above, chirping away at him.  It took him over a day, but he finally flew away, presumably to live out a happy little bird life.

I love watching this aspect of nature in action!  I'm off to plot designs for my casket.  Stay crafty, my friends!