Kitchen creations...

The boys are back!

The male grosbeaks are here,

the females

will follow...

This fella would sit quietly and feed on sunflower & safflower mix. When not feeding he sits in the apricot tree singing & waiting for the girls to come. Their beautiful song is similar to the robin, but a bit more fancy...

The males scout out resting spots with a good food supply. They rest & eat well at the Gervais yard, while waiting for the girls to arrive, before heading northward to their nesting grounds.

The grape jelly & fresh oranges are awaiting

the arrival of the Baltimore Orioles,

we are expecting their arrival any day now...

Here again, the males will arrive first.

I've been catching my darling husband eyeing the mega-sized jar of Welches Grape jelly,

I know he's thinking warm bread & grape jelly.

I'm thinking orioles, lots of orioles, baby...

It is at this time of year I like to create in the kitchen,

not to be confused with creating gourmet dishes

NO, not that type of creating...

Creating new pattern designs.

Today's plan is to perch myself at the kitchen table & create a clay headed doll (soon to be pattern). I will bask in the morning sun next to the screen door and enjoy

the smell of spring-time air,


be serenaded by

grosbeaks,warblers, cardinals, wood thrushes, robins

& soon-to-be orioles...

My. Absolute. Most. Favorite. Time. Of. The. Year.

So I'll spend my day here playing with clay & creating a new creature,
until my darling husband comes home from work...
He'll come into the kitchen & say, "Hi Dear", and then ask "what's in the oven?"
I just know he will, he always does...
and with a twinkle in my eye & a smirk on my face
I'll reply,
"a doll's head"...
tis the life at the Gervais household!!

Guess it's carry out tonight...
Have a good weekend,


Green & Luscious...

We had a nice gentle rain overnight~
turning everything a wonderful luscious green.
It's a beautiful Friday morning here ...

I couldn't pass up a walk through the back yard with camera in hand
before beginning my work day ~
a great start to my day

Crap apple trees ~
mother nature's perfume
what a wonderful fragrance it tis...
Old fashioned columbines ~
sprinkled here and there
planted by birds & soft gentle breezes...

Rain drops ~

resting ever so peacefully upon wild violet petals...

And a spring-time favorite of mine ~
Lily of the Valley beginning to unfold their little white spring-time bonnets...

More pretty little wild violets ~
with tiny brush strokes of pink upon their petals...

No spring would be complete without picking a little tussy mussy of my
dear Lily of the Valley ~
Carefully tucked into a tiny Brambly Hedge creamer pitcher...

The smell is fabulous.
Tea anyone?
I now feel refreshed


once again inspired by nature...

ready to begin

my day
of needlework design.

With thy Needle & Thread,


Bonnie's been busy...

Here are a couple of finishes shared with me from Bonnie in Massachusetts. Bonnie has been a loyal customer of ours for 2o plus years.
Bonnie chose an antique glass door knob as her base to our "Home Tweet Home" design
an antique funnel for the "Guardian Angel" base.

Great finishes Bonnie...thanks for sharing!

Antique bases for punch needle designs has become our signature. Watch for new punch needle pattern designs, coming soon, featuring antique bases!!

With thy Needle & Thread,


What a greeting...

Wow, the perennial gardens are beginning to put on their spring-time show. I've been in Minnesota the past few days helping out my parents & back home today to find my flower beds painted in lime greens, shades of fuchsia pinks and wonderful periwinkle blues...what a pretty palette! Makes me want to go pull these colors of threads & stitch with these beautiful shades of spring.
What a wonderful welcome home...
I was greeted by my
"False Forget-Me-Knots",
by my ever favorite
"Bleeding Hearts"
a new plant planted last spring
(whose name escapes me...anyone know?)
love it's polka dotted leaves!

The crab apple trees and red buds will be in full bloom by weeks end. Everything is blooming a bit earlier this year. These trees usually bloom here around Mother's Day Weekend, so we are a bit early. With the blooming of these trees comes the arrival of the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles. I'm off to buy some safflower, fresh oranges and grape jam to welcome these springtime visitors of ours...must be ready for them when they arrive!

My most favorite time of year...soon to be here in a day or so!

Have a good week,


The changing of the guard...

or shall we say

the changing of the daughters?

My older 2 sisters have taken a turn & now it's my turn to make the trip home to help out with the care of Mom during her recovery. Mom might actually be the easy part of this, it's Dad that we need to watch guard over...

You may remember Dad broke his femur during a fall from the apple tree this fall. We are still doctoring with his break, as it has been somewhat slow in healing. Bone grafting is still not out of the picture. His doctor says 50 lbs of weight on the leg. Last visit home, he's pretty much walking (with a slight gimp) all over...he's a big guy at about 250, so you do the math...

How do you keep an 81 year old retired farmer from doing his springtime duties around the farm?

He has sticks to pick up, yard to fertilize & mow, tractors to get "tuned- up" & gardens to till...

A garden that was tilled in the fall in both directions by my darling husband and probably won't get used this year.

It's springtime,

time to smell that smell of freshly turned soil...I just keep telling myself it's the farmer in him.

Mom has spent the last 7 months caring for him during his recent mishap and keeping him somewhat confined to the chair with his leg up & constantly reminding him he is cheating...putting too much weight on that leg. His "shop" had been totally off limits to him during this time. Mother nature even helped, as she put a huge snow drift in front of his "shop", making it impossible to get into the door. The "shop" is my dad's sanctuary...this is where he spends his days, tinkering on his old restored tractors and inventing & making new attachments for them. I really do believe, that had my dad had the privilege of school past the 8Th grade & any college at all, he would have been the 2ND Henry Ford.

His creations never cease to amaze me...

They have the make-do look to them, using up scraps of iron & remnants of various items collected on the farm over the years...

now with a new purpose.

(this is the sign that greeted me at the end of the lane the day of dad's accident...I read it, noticed the "s" was backwards, I took a picture & then I cried.)

Nothing should go to waste, this is my Dad's theory...

just as the apples he was picking to give away, at the end of his lane, the day he broke his leg.

Then springtime came and Mom got sick...

I'm not sure what worried Mom more, her diagnosis & surgery or knowing Dad was home alone to get in all sorts of trouble out in his "shop".

So I'll be gone for a few days, helping Mom and standing guard at the doorway of Dad's "shop". Making sure he doesn't cut any major tendons, catch his gas-scented coveralls on fire, use sandpaper on his hands to remove this "wonderful new glue", called Gorilla Glue, or blow himself halfway across the yard on a water tank...

all things this Dad of mine has done.

Wish me luck!



Ideas on paper are now stitches in cloth...
I have been in major design mode for the past 2 months. With 2 wholesale markets just a little over a month apart, makes for a pretty hectic spring-time here at Country Stitches.

We will be releasing new patterns at the International Quilt Market for wool applique, dolls, punch needle & just a smidgen of cross stitch.
I'm excited about our "2 for 3" patterns. These are a larger format pattern that includes a pattern for a wool applique design, cross stitch piece & punch needle. Three patterns for the price of 2! All projects in these patterns will coordinate and work together nicely in a grouping in your storefront or home.
Just as a tease, here are a few of the new upcoming pattern titles:
A Sparrows Song
Candy Corn
Sweet Heart Pin Keep
Home of the Brave
PA Dutch 1757
Snowy Cherub
Trick or Tweet
Berries & Cream
Boo-tiful Bouquet
there are more...

Watch for these new releases around the end of May!
With thy Needle & Thread,


Fly away home...

It was the night before my mothers surgery and I needed to be up well before the birds the next morning to make the drive to the hospital. I wanted to be there before she went into surgery. I had to be up at 4:00 am & on the road by 4:45. I never use the alarm clock. I awake to the sun kissing my forehead, the woodpeckers drumming on our chimney, or squirrels frolicking upon our roof...not an alarm clock.

Truth be told, I don't even know how to set our alarm clock...
I must have been feeling very "high techy" that night, so I decided to set the alarm clock on my cell phone...a first for me! So I went to bed that evening with my cell phone at my bedside...geesh, just like the kids! Since I had never used this type of "high tech" alarm clock before, I was a bit concerned that I set everything properly. I guess we'll find out in the morning, I thought, as I climbed into bed.

The alarm when off at 4:00 am and I was off to get ready and then make the trip to the hospital. My mother had been told a few days earlier she had cancer, my mind was occupied on this morning as I showered. I kept thinking all of these "what ifs"...
I'm curling my hair, trying to see myself in the mirror through big crocodile tears...I am scared about everything that is going to happen on this day.
I then hear this noise on the wall to my left.
I put my glasses on to get a better look...

It was a ladybug.

Not just any lady, this was the big fat type that we don't see too many of anymore. The type we saw when we were little kids...not the stinky Asian Beetles that have now become our lady bugs.
I immediately thought what my Mother would tell us as youngsters. In the early springtime, we'd find these in the windowsills of our old farmhouse. Being frightened of them, Mother would tell us not to harm them as they would bring us good luck.

A sense of calmness came upon me immediately...

I felt better now that I had a visit from this sweet little ladybug!
I just stood there and watched it crawl up towards the mirror.
Not realizing that I carried my phone into the bathroom with me, I looked down on the counter and saw my phone. I knew I had to share this sign of good luck with my sister's and dad at the hospital...so I snapped a picture.
I never take my cell phone into the bathroom with me...let alone taking pictures with it, in the bathroom of all places! But this morning was different...

My mother was full of various superstitions, folklore, old wives tales...whatever you want to call them. She had many more then just the ladybug good luck story. Each New Years Day morning she calls to wish us a "Happy New Years" and to remind us not to eat chicken on this day. She tells us the story of how chickens scratch backwards in the dirt and if you eat chicken on this day you will go backwards all year! This has been an annual phone call my whole entire married life & still love getting this call...she's so cute!

Mom has now been home from the hospital for almost a week, getting stronger with each passing day. My sisters & I are taking turns staying with my parents to cook meals, do laundry & take her to her doctor appointments. My turn begins midweek...looking forward to spending time at home and perhaps I might even share my ladybug story with Mom...

I don't have any life-time experiences to share with you in regards to my Mother's "Chicken on New Years theory" yet, but have thought about this ladybug quite a bit these past 3 plus weeks. Her recovery has been sort of a bumpy road. When we hit a bump in the road, I say a little prayer & think of the ladybug on my bathroom wall...

Have a good week,



I had a fun-filled couple of days taking care of Beckham while Mommy & Daddy were on a little get a way to the sunny beaches of Florida.
We played trains
more trains...
Thomas Train to be exact!

We open the doors...
and put the trains into Tidmouth Sheds...

and then we'd go to the backside of the shed to see them...

we then would take them out of the shed...

and start all over again...
Pretty much did this every wakening hour of every day...

So pleased to see them all nicely placed in their own special spot in the shed!

We'd push the little button to make their light come on
hook up a load of freight...

Hello Thomas...
he's the cheeky one!

What a wonderful way to spend these last days...

Thanks Beckham, Grandma had a blast!

It was time for Grandma Julie to take her turn with you for a couple of days, so this Grandma loaded up her suitcase and camera and headed northward...
found myself singing
Thomas song
all of the way home to myself in the car!
It goes like this...

"There two they're four they're six they're eight
shunting trucks and hauling freight
red and green and brown and blue
they're the really useful crew."
"All with different roles to play
round tidmouths or far away
down the hills and round the bends
Thomas & Friends."

Enjoy your weekend,


Going Home...

"Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave,
but not our hearts."

After 3 weeks and 1 day, my Mother is going home from the hospital.
We are blessed and most thankful!

Once again, I'd like to say "thank you" to you all for emails, comments and cards of encouragement during these tough past weeks...they are all truly appreciated.

Enjoy these beautiful spring days,



His name should have been Valdani...

With a mother named Yezebel

a father name X-Gigolo...

Valdani would probably have worked, right??

His name




He was born in the year of the A, not the year of the V.

This furry child of ours spends his days lounging in the sun watching the birds & squirrels, napping in my stitching chair (whenever I'm not occupying it), waiting for warm laundry to come out of the dryer to cuddle up in & take his 20th nap of the day
lot of this...

hunting down & chasing my Valdani floss...

He is very good at batting & chasing down these cute little balls, so Agassi isn't such an inappropriate name, would you say? Who would have known he would grow up to be so talented...

After his late-night games of Valdani tennis is over, he places them so proudly in his food dish. This is what I wake to...him running to his food dish to point out yet another victory.

Score: Agassi 2, Human Mom 0.

As hard as I try to "put away" my floss, some nights its late & i'm feelin' sort of "punchy" after an evening of punching and I'm a bit too tired to put them away & it becomes more of a hide them thing, out of reach of his big white furry mittens...

so I hide them under a magazine, under a newspaper, sometimes up on the mantle, or I place my hoop over them...

He knows all my hiding spots.

How does a cat get the name Agassi you are wondering?

Agassi is a Birman cat (Color - Seal). He is a semi-long haired, 11+ pound boy with cute little white gloves and laces up his back legs. We purchased him from a wonderful breeder here in Iowa. He was born in the year of the A. All Birmans are named according to the year in which they're born. In one year, all Birmans are named with the same letter of the alphabet. In the U.S. cats born in 2003 names begin with an A; 2004 is a letter B, and so on...making it easy to know the age of the Birman. This tradition, like its breed name, is French in origin.

Still you are wondering why Agassi? Agassi's human dad loves to watch tennis & was a huge Andre Agassi fan...hence the name & so fitting for this furry feline of ours!

Spending my day doin' punch needle & keepin' an eye on my Valdani floss,



Happy Easter!

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices...

Easter Blessings to you & yours,


Time Flies...

My 6 days away from the office is coming to an end.
6 days of...
now 6 days behind at the office!!!
(juggled between visits to the hospital)
Did I get enough done?
Am I going to have everything done in time?
I still have instructions to write...
I still have a catalog/sell sheet to layout...
I still have to plan my booth...
the bad dreams about market have begun,
like forgetting my models...
Quilt Market is just 6 short weeks away...
with lots & lots of loose ends to wrap up.

Time flies.

My mother always said,
"time flies"...
as a youngster I didn't quite understand this statement.
Now I do...

With thy Needle & Thread,


Important Cargo...

visiting your favorite blog
finding this...
Pedal pushers...er cargo shorts
chubby little toes
thongs...er I mean flip flops
(Yes I know I know...I'm dating myself a bit here!)

This grandmother wonders what important cargo this little 16 month old grandson would carry in his pockets...
gold fish crackers?
Thomas Train?
...all very important cargo to a 16 month old!

Wishing everyone a warm & sunny weekend
filled with
cargo shorts
flip flops.

Have a Blessed Easter weekend,

Update on my mother -
Her pathology reports came back as good as could be, no cancer in any of the lymph nodes. She remains hospitalized and has had a small bump in the road with nausea and still not taking clear liquids without them coming back up. She has developed some gas blockage in the intestine which is preventing her food from passing through and needs to start"poofing" to get things working again. She is hopeful to be home by weeks end, but it isn't looking good at this point. Once again, I'd like to THANK everyone for your comments, words of encouragement, personal emails & prayers in regards to my Mother.