Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two new ornaments and cruising down the Danube (Part 5)

How is everyone doing on this mid-November morning? Have you had snow yet? We had a couple inches on Tuesday along with record-breaking low temperatures on Wednesday morning. Brrr... it feels more like January weather. But, the first snowfall is always so pretty, isn't it? I took this photo of my backyard yesterday morning--love the hint of yellow remaining in the trees behind our pond. Soon, all of the leaves will fall and it will look quite barren back there. As much as I dread it, winter is coming...

My backyard after this week's snowfall--I love the pond this time of year!
So what have you been up to this month? I've been spending much of my time giving the house a good cleaning (and at the same time purging items that haven't been used in quite a while--oh, that is such a great feeling)! Since Thanksgiving will be held here in just two weeks, it is a perfect excuse to enlist my husband's help in doing some deep cleaning--after all, it is his side of the family who will be coming. That's only fair, right? So far, we've done the basement, laundry room, one bathroom, and his den. Up next--the family room, living room, and dining room. We'll save the kitchen and sunroom until right before Thanksgiving as that is where everyone tends to congregate. And then, this winter, we plan on tackling one of our attics (we have two--one over the garage and one over the house). It would be great if we could downsize and just fit everything into one attic. Is anyone else feeling the need to simplify and thin out your belongings? I think it is just part of getting older and wanting to make life easier--there are far too many "things" that have been collected over the years!

But, I have had some time to work on a larger fall piece (which I'll share with you next time) and to finish two more ornaments--these are for September and October. I'm finally caught up--yippee! The September ornament was fairly quick to stitch up. Honestly, I often spend more time thinking about how I want to finish it than I do with the actual stitching! Anyway, here is my finish of Hands On Design's "Year In Chalk--January." Yep--another ornament stitched "over one" on 28ct. black Monaco! I used some blue Woolies Flannel fabric, handmade cording, and a blue satin bow along with a silver snowflake charm and some miniature holly trim. They don't show up in this photo, but I added four Swarovski crystals to it that simply sparkle when the sun hits them. People often ask how I finish the back of these flat mounted ornaments--I simply use spray glue to attach a piece of coordinating felt (in this case, I used black felt). I don't like leaving the backs unfinished, but don't like to waste good fabric on finishing the back either, so I go with the felt.

Hands On Design "A Year In Chalk: January" finish

Can you spot the four Swarovski crystals that I added?

My ornament for September is another Prairie Schooler yearly Santa--I never tire of stitching these fellows! This one is from 1989 and I was particularly drawn to him because of the cardinals. At first, I thought he was carrying a lantern, but then I noticed the few gold flecks falling from the left side of it so I decided he must be putting up a bird feeder for his feathered friends--I like that idea! I thought the green pine bough border was especially pretty, too. This Santa is stitched on 40 ct. vintage country mocha linen with the suggested DMC threads (although I changed the green to DMC 520 as I do on all the yearly Santas).

A Prairie Schooler Santa feeding his cardinals--I couldn't resist!

I finished him in the same manner that I've done for all recent PS Santas--just a simple handmade cording and hanger with a gingham bow at the top. If I ever live long enough to stitch every year, I plan on finishing them all in the same way. I like the Santa to be the star of the show and I think keeping the finish simple allows him to shine.

1989 Prairie Schooler Santa finish

Here are three all finished the same way--I wonder which Santa will be the next to join them?

Along with my pre-Thanksgiving cleaning, I've done some decorating for the holiday, of course! The corner cupboard in my kitchen is all decked out for our feast with some of my old favorites. Would you like a closer look?

My corner cupboard all decorated for Thanksgiving

Close-up of the first shelf--"Be Ye Thankful" by The Cricket Collection is one of my all-time favorites!

The second and third shelves... I stitched the pillow on the lower right after my dad died five years ago. It is also featured in my header this month and is called "Let Us Be Truly Thankful" by Heartstring Samplery. I changed the date from the charted 1827 to 1927, the year of my parents' births.

Over on the sideboard next to the kitchen table are some oldies, but goodies! Did anyone else collect Lizzie High dolls back in the '80s and '90s? I was never a doll person, but I was given one of these by my mom for a birthday one year. I fell in love with the quality and sweet details so I began buying them on eBay. This Thanksgiving set was a gift from my husband for Christmas years ago--just look at the tiny papoose peaking out from behind the Indian (I guess I should be saying Native American). Adorable! I no longer display my Lizzie High dolls except for the seasonal ones and I need to think about selling my non-seasonal ones as they are just sitting in a box in a bedroom closet taking up space. The cross stitch you see below is an old Sue Hillis design on the left along with a Prairie Schooler turkey on the right.

Even after all these years, I still treasure my Lizzie High Thanksgiving dolls!

This is what the entire corner looks like in my kitchen eating area on a bright November morning. Obviously, the photos were taken before the snowstorm we got on Tuesday!

Thanksgiving has come to my kitchen!

Giveaway time... In honor of Thanksgiving, I found this lovely chart in the November/December 1992 issue of "Cross Stitch & Country Crafts" magazine. Just look at the little creatures and the scenes of fall's harvest--so pretty. The farm scene at the top would make a lovely finish all on its own, too. If you are interested in winning this chart (two pages removed from a magazine--not the entire magazine / the pages will be folded and sent in a legal sized envelope to save money on postage), please let me know in your comments below.  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 about your favorite stitching memory of 2019. For me, that would be stitching as I cruised down the Danube River. It was such a wonderfully peaceful place to stitch and relax while watching the world go by!  Now, it's your turn...I'd love to hear your favorite memory! I'll keep the drawing open until November 29th. Good luck to all!

If you are interested in winning this pretty Thanksgiving chart, please let me know in your comments below. Make sure to include your email address and tell me about one of your favorite stitching memories of 2019.

The Danube River Cruise concludes... I can almost hear a huge sigh of relief from some of you! Would Carol's posts on the cruise ever end? Thank you so much for indulging me and, perhaps, glancing at a few of the photos in my travel posts over the past few months. I hope you've learned a few things about the places I've shared with you and, perhaps, your eyes have been opened to some amazing destinations beyond your own back yards. So, if you're traveling along on this final portion the Danube River Cruise--come on board and let's set sail!

Today we'll be going to not one, but two new countries--two countries that I never imagined myself visiting. Our first stop will be in a city and country that I knew little about--in fact, I would have been hard-pressed to locate it on a map before I traveled there! Let's explore the city of...

Bratislava, Slovakia

One of the smaller capital cities in Slovakia, Bratislava has a population of about 430,000 people and has been the home to many historical figures from Hungary, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia. Because of it's strategic location on the Danube, it has always been a prosperous town and because of its smaller size, an easily navigable one, as well.

Santa checking out the Bratislava Castle from the Danube River. This is the same Santa with the cardinals that I showed you all finished up in the photos above.

Another rendering of Bratislava Castle in shown on this graffiti wall.

The massive Bratislava Castle dominates the city;  parts of it date back to the 13th century.

A row of pretty pastel homes lined this main road in Bratislava

St. Martin's Cathedral, completed in 1452, was the scene of coronations for 11 kings and 8 queens during the 16th to 19th centuries.

The interior of St. Martin's Cathedral

Of all the things in the Cathedral, these beautifully hand-carved figurines in the choir area were what truly captured my attention.  Just look at the detail in these animals which sat at the end of each pew! I tried to find out more information about them online, but wasn't able to. I've included some close-ups for you.

The lamb with the cross

The lion with a serpent in his mouth

An armadillo? Not sure of this one!

And my favorite--the fox reading a book. There are many more that aren't pictured. I would have loved to have had the time to study each one!

In medieval times, Bratislava was surrounded by walls and entrance was possible only through four fortified gates. In this photo, you can see Michael's Gate--the only remaining gate from those 13th century walls. At the very top of it is a statue of St. Michael and the Dragon put in place in 1758.

Many of the older buildings in Old Town Bratislava survived WWII as the bombing was centered more in the oil fields outside of the city.

Just look at the remarkable carved door and surrounding arch and pillars in this beautiful entrance!

Special plaques like these can be found on buildings throughout Bratislava. Of the 95,000 Jews in Slovakia during WWII, over 60,000 were deported and sent to concentration camps where most died.

The old Slovak National Theatre Building in Hviezdoslav Square. Christmas Markets are held in this Old Town square each December.

I thought this vignette of bakers was particularly charming in the window of a Bratislava bakery.

I would have enjoyed staying longer in Bratislava and exploring some of the "off-the-beaten paths," but we had to be back on the ship for a farewell dinner (they hold it the evening before the last dinner so that everyone has time to pack up their suitcases on that last night) and our overnight cruise to our final destination...

Budapest, Hungary

The cruise director advised us to rise early the morning of our last day so we could witness the ship's arrival in Budapest. I took her advice to heart and rose way before the sun was up. When it finally appeared, the peace on the river was something I wish could have lasted forever--it was so relaxing gliding down the quiet Danube watching the world slowly come to life!

The sun rises over the Danube as we cruise toward Budapest.

As we rounded the bend, we got our first look at Budapest, the capital of Hungary and the tenth largest city in the European Union. The three smaller cities of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest were officially unified in 1873 to become what we now call Budapest.

You can't miss Budapest's impressive Parliament Building looming in the distance.

Such lovely old buildings lined the shores of the city. And look at all of the other visiting riverboats--from countries all over the world!

The river boats fly the flag of the country in which they are cruising so that day the red, white, and green flag of Hungary was raised.

When we got off the boat, we boarded a bus for a quick ride up to Castle Hill which offers a number of  top tourist attractions and UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Looking up toward Castle Hill with Matthias Church (or The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle) in the center.

On the left is Fisherman's Bastion which was built in the late 19th century to replace a former castle wall. There are seven turrets which provide amazing vantage points to view Budapest and the Danube.

One of the seven turrets of Fisherman's Bastion. Why seven? They were built to represent the seven tribes of Hungary:  Jenő, Kér, Keszi, Kürt-Gyarmat, Megyer, Nyék, and Tarján. (Don't ask me to pronounce them!!)

The views from Fisherman's Bastion were stunning.

Statue of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Hungary in the early 11th century.

Matthias Church was built in 1255, but has undergone many changes since. When the Turks captured Buda in the 16th century, it even became a mosque! It fell into disrepair and very little remains of the original church other than a few columns. Fortunately, it was fully rebuilt and renovated in the late 19th century, restoring the church to its former splendor.

I love the teal and copper colored tiles of the roof. Such an intricate and unusual geometric pattern!

One of the prettiest statues was the Trinity Column built in the 18th century to celebrate the end of the plague (and protect the city from another plague) which had ravaged the citizens of Buda. Aren't the tiny angels on all sides of the column lovely?

The onion-domed spires of this beautiful synagogue are absolutely stunning. Dohány Street Synagogue, built in the mid-1800's, contains nearly 3000 seats, making it the second largest synagogue in the world. During WWII, the Nazis used it as a stable and a base for German radio. It was badly damaged during bombing and only repaired in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism.

A café filled with red and white topped tables awaits its lunch customers.

One of the very severe looking Soviet era buildings that our guide showed us. Everything was built to be utilitarian and nondescript.

Compare the building in my previous photo to these older ornate Hungarian buildings we saw as we rambled around town.

Look at these pretty embroidered linens and shirts I spotted in a shop window. Those blouses  remind me a bit of the decorated "peasant tops" that were so popular in the '70s! Did anyone else have one?

This massive car reminds me of something out of an old  gangster movie. It was parked in front of a lovely older hotel.

I spotted the House of Terror (notice how the cut-out letters shadow the word "Terror" onto the building's facade) on our bus ride. This is a museum dedicated to exposing the fascist and communist tactics that were used to torture and interrogate Hungarians and is also a memorial to the victims.

Heroes' Square is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in 1896. In the center is the Millennium Monument with a statue of the angel Gabriel on top. Surrounding the monument is a colonnade with statues of famous Hungarian men (no women?).

One of the biggest surprises was to see a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan "strolling" through Budapest! Apparently, Hungarians wanted to honor him for his role in the fall of Communism. Just a few months after he left office, Communism began to collapse, in part due to his efforts.

After our tour of historic Budapest, we had the option of going on a "Bites and Highlights" tour of the food and architecture. These were some of the yummy foods we tasted along our way.

Our final evening of the cruise was bittersweet, but we couldn't have had a lovelier farewell sunset. While eating our last dinner on the boat, we enjoyed this gorgeous view.

Budapest positively sparkles at night--I'm sure a night cruise would be breathtaking! I guess we'll just have to go back some day...

The next morning, we boarded our plane for the U.S. Bye bye Budapest--you are one beautiful city!

Whew! I did it--many, many hours went into putting together these Danube River travelogues, but I'm so glad I forced myself to sit down and write them as I've already forgotten so much from our July cruise. Thank goodness I have the internet to help me identify buildings and landmarks in each country as there is no way I could possibly recall the details of every site we saw or fact we heard from our tour guides. Many of you have asked me questions along the way about the cruise itself so I will be doing one more post to wrap up my final thoughts on the whole river cruise experience. I'll discuss the cruise line, the cabins, the staff, the food, among other things. If anyone has a specific question about river cruising, please just leave it in the comments below (or email me) and I'll be happy to try to answer you in my next "cruise overview post."

I looked out my kitchen window last night to find this flock of turkeys marching toward our bird feeder! Thirteen of those funny looking creatures. They are just a bit too early for Thanksgiving, though!
I want to thank you, as always for your sweet and supportive comments--they mean a lot to me and I enjoy reading them so much. Welcome to my new followers, as well--so glad you've joined us! What are your plans for Thanksgiving? I'm so sad to say that my youngest son won't be home this year... He has a work trip in Antigua that week (tough life, right--it's in the 80s there this time of year!). I'll miss him so much, but we'll try to Facetime with him at some point during the day.  I'm sure I won't be back until after Thanksgiving so I hope all of my friends here in the United States have a lovely day with family and friends. Bye for now...

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!