Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fall finishes and Rocky Mountain highs

Hello, my dear stitching friends! I've had to face the fact that summer is slowly sliding away--with cooler nights and crunchy, falling leaves each day, it's hard to deny. And yet, still, I hate to see it go... Many of you have already put up your fall (and even Halloween!) decorations, but I'm hanging on to sunflowers and bees in my kitchen corner cupboard a while longer. I did feel the itch to allow just a bit of fall into my life through my stitching, though, and I'd love to share it with you today.

A Stitching Dreams reader recently contacted me to ask about the little "Blessed Be" piece shown in my sidebar. It is an older freebie from Plum Pudding Needleart (if you just do a Google images search for Plum Pudding Needleart Blessed Be, you can find it easily) that I've actually stitched five times now! Yes, five times! I gave four of them away and am finally keeping the fifth one for myself.

Numbers four and five of "Blessed Be!"

This is stitched on 40 ct. Vintage Country Mocha Newcastle with the suggested DMC colors except for the pumpkin, the crow, and the border. I used DMC 3371 for the black crow and border and DMC 3826 and 976 for the pumpkin. Can you sharp-eyed stitchers see anything different in the design from the photos above to the finished pieces below? 

Doubly blessed--one for me and one for a friend

Well, I decided to finish off the lower right border even though it's not charted--just three little x's! Here is a close-up so you can see the finish better. I used some gold lace (it is not as yellow as the photo makes it appear), a polka-dot bow, and some of my handmade cording in DMC 3820 for the finish. The tiny pillow below was sent off to a friend as a little surprise. I hope she likes it!

Love the little flower in the crow's mouth!

Now, take a look at the date on the photo below... No, that's not an error! I really did stitch this cutie ten years ago. I stumbled upon this scarecrow recently in my portfolio of finished (but not fully finished) stitching and took pity on him. I mean ten years is a long time for the poor guy to be just hanging around waiting to be displayed. I doubt that any of you remember when I first posted this finish back on September 19, 2009 as most of my original readers from ten years ago have vanished. If you'd like to read about it, please click here. The piece is from an early Just Cross Stitch Magazine dated September/October 1988. The charted color of his jacket was blue, but I thought green fit in better for a fall finish The entire piece is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. Stormy Gray Jobelan. I just love those little birds with pieces of  "straw" hanging from their mouths. And I think you know my soft spot for all-black cats if you've been visiting me here for any length of time!

"Pumpkin Patch" from an older JCS issue

This one was stitched during my very first year of blogging when my goal was to stitch "an ornament a week" and it was my Week 38 finish. If you'd like to see the other smalls and ornaments that I stitched that year, check out this post. I'm happy to say I succeeded in stitching all 52, but sad to say that some of them still remain not "fully finished!" In a way, I'm glad I put off finishing this one because my finishing skills have come a long way since 2009. Since this is such a busy design, I kept the finishing quite simple--just a bit of straw colored cording and a green gingham bow were all that were necessary. It is very small--only 3" X 4" and I love it!

A new fall finish

Giveaway time... With the cooler weather, my thoughts have naturally turned to harvest season and Thanksgiving and I thought this beautiful chart from the July/August 1992 Cross Stitch & Country Crafts magazine would make a perfect giveaway. I have always meant to stitch this basket of sunflowers myself and have kept another copy for that "some day!" If any of you would like to stitch it, let me know in your comments and I will draw a winner. Please, please make sure to include your email if I don't already have it and to make it more fun--I'd love to hear your favorite fall food. For me, it's  Cranberry Pumpkin Bread (click here for recipe) which I make each Thanksgiving--absolutely love it! I will keep the drawing open until September 25th... Good luck to all!

If you are interested in winning this chart, please let me know in your comments. Make sure to leave your email and share with me your favorite fall food, too! Good luck to all!

I'm working on a fun, larger piece (very appropriate for my profession as a librarian--hint, hint!) that I hope to have finished to share with you  in my next post...

On to some vacation photos, but, surprise! We aren't going on more of the Danube River cruise just yet... We spent the final week of August on holiday in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado and I'd love to take you along with me. A family wedding took us there and it was my very first trip to the state. Needless to say, it won't be my last as I simply fell in love with my surroundings. Honestly, this was the very first time--ever--that I didn't want to return home from vacation. I simply loved it that much. My family (husband, three sons, daughter-in-law, and middle son's girlfriend) rented a large home in Estes Park, Colorado which advertised itself as having the "best views in Estes Park." It didn't lie--the view from each and every window was spectacular. 

Sunrises like this one greeted us each morning

The sunrise as seen from our bedroom window

View from our rental home of Lake Estes

The famous Stanley Hotel where the movie "The Shining" was filmed. I never saw it as scary movies and I don't get along! This photo was also taken from our bedroom window.

The first day, in order to adjust to the high altitude, we took a simple hike around Lily Lake.

Even the flowers seemed brighter in Colorado!

The peaceful waters of Lake Estes

Our hike to Emerald Lake was definitely one of the most enjoyable I've ever done

The skies really were the most brilliant shade of blue!

Sadly, other hikers had carved up this beautiful grove of Aspen trees.

Everywhere you looked, it was just one beautiful sight after another. You honestly couldn't take a bad photograph!

Emerald Lake

The water was so clear and clean we could see many fish.

Driving up Trail Ridge Road was spectacular. It is the highest paved road in any of the U.S. National Parks.  As the air thinned, it became harder and harder to breathe easily.

Our ultimate stopping point--12,005 feet above sea level! Walking up to this point left us wheezing and stopping often to catch our breath, but we made it... The land was so different up there above the tree line. This alpine tundra was scattered with rocks and oh-so-windy and cold!

The Lava Cliffs Overlook with its tiny blue glacial lake

Toward the end of the week we hiked to the ruins of an old stone cabin in Estes Park that had burned down over 100 years ago. It was fascinating to look out the "windows" of the structure to those beautiful vistas beyond.

All week we were on the lookout for moose. On the final day, our patience was rewarded as a female moose and her baby ran right across the road in front of our car and scrambled up the rocky embankment.

Pure bliss--stitching in my happy place!

Sunset over the Rocky Mountains

My favorite photo of all--my family at my nephew's "mountain casual" wedding in Estes Park.

And I love this one, too--my siblings and me, left to right are youngest to oldest (yep, I'm the oldest child!)

We returned home ten days ago and I have to admit to being a bit "down" ever since... All of a sudden we were back in our way-too-quiet house and missing our family so very much. But, that wasn't all of it... I truly fell in love with that part of the United States. The sense of peace I get in the mountains can't be matched anywhere else. I've taken to singing "Rocky Mountain High" and daydreaming about moving there. Will it ever happen? Who knows, but I think my husband and I are both ready for a change when he retires. Tell me--is there a place that you would love to move to, a place where you feel so relaxed and worry-free? I'd love to hear about your "happy place!"

I will return to my regular Danube River cruise travelogue in my next post, but I hope you enjoyed my photos of this very special part of our beautiful United States. I think sometimes we forget what a lovely country we have right in our own backyard, don't you? Such varied geography and different scenery in each and every state.  I'd like to welcome my new readers and commenters--so glad to have you here in what seems to be turning out to be a stitching/travel blog! Thank you, as always, for taking the time to leave a comment and say "hi"--I appreciate each and every one of you so very much. Bye for now...

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A perfect summer day and cruising down the Danube (Part 2)

Well, hello there! And how are my blogging friends on this fine August morning? The month is flying by (as they all do at my age!) and September is right around the corner. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for summer to end. It feels like we got just a bit cheated this year with our rainy, cool June and overly hot July, doesn't it? I'm hoping that September will offer us many more warm sunny days to help make up for those two months!

And to help prolong your summer just a bit, I have a very sweet finish to share with you today. I actually have very few summer pieces to put out so I'm trying to remedy that and, as soon as I saw this design, I knew I had to stitch it... I truly loved each stitch!

What do you get when you combine...

A blue-doored beach hut with a cute seagull perched nearby,

with a darling girl in a red and white polka-dot dress skipping along the sand,

with a little pup playing with his ball while a sandcastle is being constructed with a seashell door,

and a frisbie-throwing lad with a red and white lighthouse standing guard?

Mix in a banner in French that says "The sun,

the sand, the sea" and some breezy sailing boats on a blue, blue sea and you have a perfect summer beach scene!

"Beach Landscape" finish on 40 ct. Vintage Country Mocha Newcastle linen

What do you think? I mean what could possibly say summer more than a carefree day at the beach? This design is featured in The World of Cross Stitching magazine (July 2019 issue #282) and is the product of the imagination of designer Jenny Van De Wiele. Jenny also designed the beautiful "Berries In a Basket" piece that I stitched earlier this year. She is a very talented New Zealand designer who now lives in the United States and designs under the name "Homestitchness" which is a play on words combining her love of stitching and its ability to ease her homesickness for her beautiful New Zealand. You can find more of her lovely designs by clicking here or on her Etsy shop right here.

Why do you choose to stitch a certain design? Is it the colors, the subject, the designer? Or is it because it evokes memories of a special place, time, or experience? With "Beach Landscape," it is the latter reason for me... For almost 35 years, my in-laws rented a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for all of their children and grandchildren to gather for one week each summer. When we first went in 1984, my oldest son was just two years old... And this year, 2019, is the first time in 35 years that none of the family has gone down. Through the years, the houses we rented went from simple (almost rustic) abodes on nearly deserted beaches to upscale mansions big enough to hold 25+ people. And, oh, how my sons loved the weeks spent bonding with their cousins and creating those lifelong memories. The nine cousins, now ranging in age from mid-40s to early 30s, spent hours boogie-boarding, crab hunting, climbing up the sand dunes, building sand-castles, flying kites, throwing frisbies, star gazing, and eating lots of favorite foods (including the ever popular hush puppies).

Here are some old photos of those happy Outer Banks beach days circa 1995...

My sons and their cousins "digging to China!"

Oldest son at age 13 riding his boogie-board into shore after another successful ride.

My middle son could spend hours and hours just digging in the sand each week.

My youngest son was always discovering new "treasures"--here he holds a feather from a seabird.

And here are 8 of the 9 cousins, along with my husband,  just watching for the next great wave to come in. Look at my niece in the coral colored bathing suit--doesn't she remind you of the little girl in red skipping across the sand in my stitching?

Although I am not a big beach person (the mountains are my "happy place"), the smiles on my sons' faces when they reunited with their cousins each year were priceless! I hope that, if my husband and I are ever blessed with grandchildren, we can continue this tradition of gathering the entire family together for one solid week of bonding and memory-making each year.

I was given the most generous gift this week from dear Sandy at "I Majored In Home Economics" blog. Just look!! A sweet "Dick and Jane" card along with eight beautiful Erica Michaels charts in The Caroling Berries collection. I love Christmas carol themed stitching for an obvious reason--my name and the fact that my parents named me "Carol" because I was due at Christmas time (unfortunately for my poor mother--I arrived three weeks late!). So these are very special and I look forward to stitching them. Thank you so very much for your generous gift, Sandy--I truly love them! And I will be sure to keep the kindness going by passing them along when I am done stitching them.

Beautiful Christmas Carol charts from Sandy

Well, that's it for the stitching portion of this post--on to the next installment of my Danube River cruise. I'm so happy that you enjoyed the first portion on Prague and Terezín. Today, we will visit two new cities and actually embark on the river portion of the trip!

Regensburg, Germany

Regensburg is located in the south-east corner of Germany and it's medieval city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is so well-preserved because there were no industrial complexes or factories located in the medieval center so it wasn't the target of Allied bombings in WWII. I was excited to visit this city of nearly 150,000 inhabitants because my mom had told me how much she enjoyed it back in the late '60s when she and my dad visited. It didn't disappoint...

My first view of the medieval center of Regensburg as we crossed The Stone Bridge. Wouldn't it be lovely to sit under those shady trees and simply watch the world go by?

Old town Regensburg  and The Danube River as seen from the other side of the bridge

The Stone Bridge, built in the 12th century, connects old town Regensburg with Stadtamhof

The medieval buildings were varied and 

The pink building is a fine example of what is known as a "medieval patrician tower." The upper class built very tall buildings to showcase their wealth, but often only lived in the first few floors leaving the upper floors empty!

Porta Praetoria was built by Roman Emperor Marcus Auerelius in the 2nd century! It is believed to be Germany's most ancient stone building.

Of course, I had to pose in front of the Regensburg public library!

The mural on the Goliath Building, built in 1260, depicts the story of David and Goliath.

The imposing St. Peter's Cathedral is an important landmark in Regensburg.

The Gothic spires can be seen from almost anywhere in the medieval part of the city.

A few of the pretty buildings and doorways of Regensburg

Many of the windows had beautiful flowers cascading from window boxes

I thought this sculpture of a stag perched above a doorway was particularly interesting!

This is one of my favorite photos of our trip. Our guide said this is an example of an old salt barge that is now used to carry tourists on sightseeing cruises.

Cheers! Here we are in the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen which just may be the oldest continually operating restaurant in the world! It serves 6000 sausages a day and has been in operation since 1146 AD. And no, I am not a beer drinker--hence, the bottle of Coke!

After a busy and very hot day in Regensburg, we are finally bused to our ship: The Avalon Passion. Here are some of our shipmates embarking. (I will write a separate blog post on the ship and my opinions and thoughts on the river cruise in a later post).

After a quick change of clothes, we went to the ship's dining room, met up with a couple we got to know in Prague, and enjoyed our first of many scrumptious dinners which ended with this delightful Apfelstrudel for dessert!

As we were settling in for our first onboard dinner, we began cruising to a new location... Any guesses as to where we stopped next?

I smiled with delight when I opened the curtains of my cabin the following morning to find this gorgeous sight. I honestly would have been very happy to sit there all day with my stitching while admiring this pretty scene! We had arrived at our next destination--the charming baroque town of:

Passau, Germany

Passau, (also known as Dreiflüssestadt ("City of Three Rivers") is situated at the confluence of the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers. It is a smaller town of only 50,000 residents,  of whom 12,000 are students at the University of Passau. The original "Old City" portion was destroyed by fires several times in the 16th and 17th centuries and was rebuilt in the style that was in fashion then--Baroque. Pastels abound and it almost appears as if some of the architectural features are icing on a wedding cake. Come on--let's take a stroll through this delightful town...

Pale pastels highlight the market square in Passau

I particularly enjoyed my time in Passau because we arrived early in the morning before the crowds converged.

You need sturdy shoes to walk on these cobble-stoned streets

The spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral rises above the town

St. Stephen's Cathedral, built in the 17th century,  is a magnificent example of baroque architecture. During December a large Christmas market is held in the square right outside the church. I imagine it's quite a sight!

Shall we go inside the cathedral and explore?

Certainly, the prettiest cathedral I've ever seen!

Just look at the magnificent murals and carvings!

It truly was jaw-droppingly beautiful!

St. Stephen's has the largest organ in Europe and the second largest in the world.

I found these exterior sculptures on the outside of the cathedral to be particularly fascinating. Can anyone from Europe tell me what they represent?

I'm guessing that these may be memorial plaques of some kind?

An angel  sculpture on the outside wall of St. Stephen's commemorates the deaths of local WWI soldiers.

The Inn River

I thoroughly enjoyed my stroll along the banks of the Inn River even though the skies were grey and threatening rain.

A view of Innstadt with the Innstadt Brewery in the lower left and the Mariahilf Monastery at the top of the hill.

A final view of the Inn River under threatening skies

There were such lovely, intricately carved doors in Passau

... and  more pretty flower-filled window boxes.

The New Bishop's Palace, built in the 18th century, was stunning both inside and out.

It featured an elaborate rococo stairway

Doesn't this architectural detail resemble a perfect pink and white wedding cake?

Some gorgeous frescoes in the New Bishop's Palace

And this beauty is the library where many of Passau's religious history is on display. Do you think they're interested in hiring a retired librarian?!

After a delightful morning spent exploring the town of Passau, our ship set sail after lunch.

The sun had broken through the clouds and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon cruise to our next destination. I think my favorite moments of our trip were simply sitting in our cabin with the doors wide open watching the world go by as we cruised down the not-so-blue Danube!

Have you enjoyed the second leg of my Danube Cruise today? I loved both Regensburg and Passau, but think I preferred Passau as it was much less crowded and the colors were just so pastel and pretty! Where will I be taking you next time? Stay tuned...

Thank you all so much for visiting me today--and a special thanks to those of you who take the time to leave a comment. I appreciate each and every one as I know your lives are just as busy (or probably busier!) than mine... I want to welcome my new followers and invite any of you who don't follow me already on Instagram to join in on the fun; just click here to see my Instagram photos. I won't be back until sometime in September so I hope you enjoy the last little bit of August! Bye for now...