In an effort to walk the line between granny cross stitch and hearkening back to a different, handmade era where young girls embroidered linens for their hope chest, I've been embroidering geometric designs on my pillowcases with neutral colors. I love the subtle texture it gives to my bedding, and that it was handmade by me. These pillow cases could be some of those things that get passed down, much like the quilts the pillows are sitting on.
I'm working on another set of pillow cases that will have more color to them and that will coordinate with an old family handmade quilt that has pieces from my mother's and aunt's childhood clothes. I like to think of this next set as my contribution to the body of handiwork in my family. Not to mention that the repetitive designs and stitches make for great practice for the stitch you're using. Boy, have I got the french knot down.
For lots of stitch ideas, check out this blog, or your library for books.