Good morning on this very last day of July! Are you ready for August? I am so far behind after being away for a good portion of the month that I still have my patriotic stitching up! Time to bring out the sunflowers and bees and get ready for fall--and after the hot, hot temperatures over the past few weeks, I'm ready... how about you?
I only have one finish to share with you today and that is my ornament for July--hooray, I've caught up on my ornament-a-month challenge and am going to do my best to keep from getting behind for the rest of the year. This Little House Needleworks design is called "Snowy Winter" and is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. I stitched another of the snowflakes and used that as the bottom right corner of the ornament. These ornaments look harder to make than they really are. You begin with four separate sections, sew two sets of rectangles with two pieces of fabric in each and then sew the two rectangles together to form a square. Then simply finish as a small pillow ornament. Give it a try! (It was a gray day yesterday when I photographed it so I'm sorry it isn't showing up better).
|"Snowy Winter" all finished for my tree|
I forgot to stitch the rope pull for the sled (as you can see in the photo below) and had to add it after I had finished this into a little pillow--not the easiest thing to do, but, luckily it was just one long, straight stitch. I love the tiny heart imprinted in the snow! A simple, sweet design for my Christmas tree... On to my August ornament!
|So tiny and cute!|
I've also started a piece of summer stitching, but it is taking much longer than I expected. For some reason, I have very few summer pieces to display and I'm trying to remedy that! Here's a little snippet for you--can anyone guess what it is?
|Can you guess what I'm stitching?|
Giveaway winner... Wow! There were 21 of you who entered for the Frosty Flakes chart. I was so surprised as I assumed most of you owned it already. Anyway, the winner's name drawn from the hat is...
Arlene--congratulations! Please email me with your mailing address and I'll drop this in the mail to you this week. I'm sorry I couldn't send each of you a chart, but I will be having future giveaways, so please keep an eye on this space!
|Congratulations to Arlene!|
A fun idea... My youngest son (the one who is always, always traveling for both work and pleasure) sent me this photo of a framed collage of international currency that he recently made (I guess we now have two crafters in the family)! I thought it was such a creative way to use up any "extra" money that you find yourself with after traveling abroad. When I asked him how much money was in the frame, he said he thought it was about $300.00! I guess if he goes back to any of these countries, he can always reach in and take that country's currency with him, right?
|My youngest son's creative money collage|
So, speaking of travel... I so enjoyed reading your guesses as to where we were heading on our latest trip. No one truly pinpointed it, although the few that said Germany got it partially correct! Where did we go? Well, those of you who follow me on Instagram (and if you'd like to please just click here) already know that we went on an anniversary river cruise down the Danube! This was a trip two years in the making as our three sons actually gave us this trip as a 40th wedding anniversary present--and that was two years ago! We just now had the time to plan and go, though, and, trust me--it was well worth the wait! I want to thank them for this amazing gift and for seeing to our every need from transportation to and from the airport, to answering our many questions about procedures, to simply being the best sons ever!
Prague, Czech Republic
Our anniversary trip began with our flight into the airport in Prague, Czech Republic on July 16th. We were to spend two days there before boarding our river boat and beginning the cruise. Now, I grew up in the Cold War Era and to think that I would be visiting countries that were once behind that so-called "Iron Curtain" both excited me and had me a bit nervous. Driving to our hotel on the bus, you could see a fair amount of the cold-looking, nondescript buildings that were put up in the Soviet era.
|After an overnight flight on which I didn't sleep at all (yes, I was up for 36 hours straight!), we arrived at Prague's airport.|
Once we arrived in Prague's Old Town Square, however, it was as if we had entered a storybook complete with beautifully embellished buildings and horse-drawn carriages! A fairy-tale come to life... So come along with me--let's explore Prague (all photos are clickable for a better view).
|Your carriage awaits!|
|Everywhere you looked in Old Town Square was another beautiful building--AND another tourist. Oh, it was so very crowded--obviously July is prime tourist season. If I went again, I would try to go in the fall!|
|Scenes from Prague's Old Town Square|
|Streetcars were everywhere--quite loud, but very efficient.|
|The beautiful late-Gothic and baroque style St. Nicholas Church in Old Town Square, Prague|
|The elaborate carvings above doorways and windows were simply breathtaking!|
|The corners of buildings and tops of windows and doors were often beautifully embellished|
|The sidewalks in Prague were made of small squares of cut stone (granite, I believe) and were so clean! We saw virtually no litter compared to that seen in U.S. cities.|
On the morning of the second day, we visited Prague Castle--the largest ancient castle in the world! It was an absolutely huge complex which covers over 750,000 square feet and is now the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. Parts of it date back to the year 870. We were only able to see a small portion of the castle complex--you could easily have spent an entire day there.
|The church spires of the castle loom in early morning sunlight|
|The Prague Castle courtyard|
|The exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral--very Gothic! Construction began on the present day cathedral in 1344.|
|St. Vitus is the largest and most important church in the Czech Republic.|
|Stunning details adorned the exterior as well as the interior.|
|Some scenes from the interior of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague|
|We also saw some of the lovely buildings in the city's Jewish quarter.|
A sobering visit... On the afternoon of the second day, we could choose from different excursions. We debated about going to the Terezín Concentration Camp as we had been to Dachau in Germany back in 2011 and it was very difficult. But, I'm so glad we went as this was a very different camp and gave us a much fuller picture of the extent that the Nazi's went to "fool the world" as to what really transpired in the camps. This concentration camp was used for propaganda and put forth to the world as a "wonderful cultural experience for Jewish families."
|Our first sight at Terezín was the garden remembering both Jewish and Christian victims.|
|I learned that the stones placed on Jewish graves like the one above is a way to honor the dead by letting them know someone has been visiting them and that their memory continues to live on through us.|
|Don't let the idyllic setting fool you--the small fortress was a notorious Gestapo prison for five years.|
|From 1940-1945, the Small Fortress served as a Gestapo-run prison for political prisoners of all faiths.|
|The remains of a secret Jewish meeting room at Terezín|
|In the museum there were many haunting displays and drawings|
|Thousands of children were transported to live in barracks at Terezín. Some of the artwork they did is showcased at the top of a stairway in the museum.|
|The names and birth dates of the children of Terezín|
In 1968, when I was 13 years old, my parents traveled to Europe and brought back booklets on some of the concentration camps they had visited. These left a lasting impression on me... I remember pouring over them trying to make any sense at all of how such things could have existed a mere 25 years before. I remember writing term papers and essays on the Holocaust and concentration camps. To this day, I'm still reading about that horrific time in history and am still as saddened and shocked as I was as a 13-year-old. We must never allow ourselves to forget...
Final impressions of Prague... ***We thought the people we met were very open and friendly. That being said--you do need to be careful as there are a lot of pickpockets (and we were almost a victim as we stupidly stood on a crowded street corner looking at a map!) in the touristy areas. ***I loved the sound of the Czech language--there are so many soft "shhh" sounds and it is very soothing. ***In a way, the Czech Republic is just coming into its own after all those years of Nazi and Soviet domination. It was so interesting to hear from the guides about the "Velvet Revolution" in 1989 when 41 years of one-party rule finally ended for the Czech people. To hear them talk about their lack of freedom and the poor quality of living under Soviet rule, makes me so very grateful to have grown up in a free country.
I doubt if many of you are still with me at this point--that was a long one! But, I like to document my travels as well as my stitching here because I know I won't remember the highlights when I'm old(er) and gray(er)! Thank you all for your sweet comments on my previous post--I was really happy to hear from so many new readers last time... Welcome to each one of you! I'll be back in a couple weeks with (hopefully) my finished summer piece and the next installment of my river cruise adventure... Any ideas of where the next destination will be? Take care everyone--and Happy August! Bye for now...