Friday, December 1, 2023

Finishes and Florida

Hello, hello! I fully intended to post again in November, but we were away (more about that later) and I simply ran out of time. So... Happy December! Can you believe it? I know I say this every year, but where on earth has this year gone? It makes me sad that, as I get older, the years seem to be flying by faster than ever. Does anyone else feel that way? 

The last two weeks have been busy ones, but I did manage to finish my final two ornaments for 2023. Yay! I turned to my favorite comfort stitching for  my November and December ornaments: good old Prairie Schooler. I just find such peace each time I sit down to stitch one of those designs. I think it may be the classic themes and the fact that they are charted for DMC threads. The finished product looks just like the photo on the front of the charts and that isn't always the case, as we all know!

For my November ornament, I chose the 2012 annual Santa, in this case "Postman Santa." (Here's a little known secret for you--probably one my family doesn't even know... When I was a young girl, I used to want to work in a post office and deliver the mail. I guess I liked the idea of sorting and packing up the letters and then making sure they arrived at the correct house. So now you know a funny little fact about my childhood!). I used 40 ct. vintage country mocha Newcastle with all of the suggested threads, although I always use DMC 520 for the green on these annual PS Santas (rather than the suggested DMC 501). Isn't he cute? I just love all the details in this one. He even has a letter in his hand that says: "Dear Santa, I was good." And on the list  that is peeking out from behind, some little boy or girl is asking for a doll and a drum.

2012 Prairie Schooler Santa finish

December's ornament is one I've intended to stitch for years. The thing is, I knew that border would take forever! Finally, I just decided it was now or never and dove in... I stitched this ornament 'over one' on 25 ct. moss green Lugana with most of the suggested threads except for the red (I used DMC 221--the classic Prairie Schooler red) and the green (I used DMC 936). 

Love that border, but it sure took a while!

This design can be found in Prairie Schooler's "O Christmas Tree" (Book No. 82).  At five inches square, my finish ended up a bit larger than I like my ornaments to be, but I still love it! The little topper of greenery was cut from a wreath, hot-glued to the top of the ornament and then I snipped "berries" off a garland and glued each one in place. Simple, but pretty, don't you think?

O Christmas Tree finish for my December ornament


So, for all my long-time readers--you know what comes next now that I've finished all twelve ornaments, don't you? Yes! The next post will bring my annual "Parade of Ornaments"--hope you will all drop by.

Life catch-up... Thanksgiving was a bit different this year with none of our sons coming home so we decided to spend it in Florida! My husband wanted to check on his family home in Naples (the one badly flooded from the effects of Hurricane Ian in September 2022--you can read about it in this post). So we decided to spend six days in the little apartment above the garage which was not damaged. We got lucky and were invited to spend Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's younger brother and family who were also visiting their condo in Naples. It was delicious and so good to catch up everyone




Unfortunately, I had ear problems the entire time we were in Florida. I'd had a sore throat the previous week and then when we flew down on the airplane, my right ear gave me all sorts of problems. No matter what I tried, it wouldn't "pop" all week! My hearing was significantly reduced in that ear and everything sounded as though I was underwater. The official name of this condition is "ear barotrauma" and boy, was it annoying (and quite painful every now and then). Ironically, when I flew home on Wednesday, my ear finally "popped" and I could hear again! I was still having pain off and on, so I did go see the doctor on Thursday morning. Sure enough, I have an ear infection. I can't even remember the last time I had one--or the last time I took antibiotics. So, that's what I'm on now--hope it clears up completely and that is the end of this saga. If any of you have preventative measures I can take for the next time I fly, I'd love to hear them. This is a chronic problem for me, but it's never been this bad before.

Even though I wasn't feeling my best, I felt a bit better just being in the sun and warm weather. Naples, Florida is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and I thought you might enjoy these photos (especially those of you who live in the north like I do and are definitely feeling the cold of winter moving in). 

Naples Beach on the Gulf of Mexico

So many pretty flowers were in bloom!

I love the yellow feet on this pair of Snowy Egrets

On one of our walks we passed this giant metal sculpture in front of a garage. If you look closely, you'll see it is little figurines joined by their hands and feet.

Oh, that blue, blue sky--so nice when you've flown in from the wintry northern states!

Love the layers in this sunset photo I took on Monday evening.

Sadly, everything wasn't picture perfect... When you walk around Naples, there are still many of the smaller ranch-style houses (like my in-laws' place) that are sitting there vacant and unlivable since the hurricane. Once the estate is settled, my husband's family house will be sold--they won't be rebuilding. I can't imagine going through the worries  that potential hurricanes  bring year after year. We did go inside and it's not only heartbreaking, but rather creepy. The rust is taking over anything metal as you can see on the top of the dryer in the lower left. The mold has gotten worse, the few remaining pieces of furniture have started to warp and curl. I cried as I wandered from room to room--it's just beyond sad that this was once a home. I'm so glad my husband's parents never had to see their home in this condition...

The sad state of affairs a year after Hurricane Ian hit my in-laws' family home


I hate to leave you on that depressing note so I'll share one last photo that always brings me a smile this time of year. This little pair of Santas making a gingerbread house has been a part of my Christmas decorating for many years. In a previous post I mentioned that one of my sons' favorite antics was to take one of the little striped candy canes on the table and put  it in Santa's mouth to make him look like he was smoking. I guarantee you that when all three are here for Christmas, I will glance over and notice that one of them has done that again. Just one of those funny family "traditions" that happen each year.

This cheery scene in my kitchen always makes me smile. I just bought that cute set of towels at HomeGoods.

Hope your December is off to a great start.. I'm way behind on my blog reading/commenting since I was away for those six days, but I'll do my best to catch up this weekend. I know that some of my stitching friends are dealing with serious problems or illnesses and I want to send a big hug out to each of you. You know who you are... and I hope you know my thoughts are with you. Thank you for visiting today and be sure to stop by for my annual "Parade of Ornaments" in my next post. Wishing you a wonderful weekend--hope you are relaxing and enjoying preparing for Christmas. I know I am! Bye for now...


Isabel para ALROMASAR said...

Dear Carol, you managed to get your twelve ornaments ready just in time!
I look forward to seeing the parade of new year's decorations, which for me has also passed too quickly.
I wish you a wonderful month of December


Melisa- pinkernpunkinquilting said...

Good morning dear Carol. Well I just knew you would knock out those last 2 ornaments in no time and boy, are they beauties. I look forward to your annual Christmas parade. I am so sorry to hear about your ear infection. I hope you begin to feel better soon. Thank you so much for sharing such lovely photos of Florida. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful. I am glad you was able to soak in the sun. Have a blessed day. Hugs.

MartinaM said...

Both of your new ornaments look great and I love Santa.
How nice that you were able to spend a few wonderful days and visit your husband's family. And such beautiful pictures, I wish they were here now, instead of the dull, cold weather.
Oh yeah, very sad when you think about everything you've experienced in this house and suddenly it's all gone.
The two Santa Clauses are lovely, glad they were able to cheer you up a bit.
Now enjoy the beautiful Advent season.
Hugs, Martina

butterfly said...

Hello my friend good to have you back, love your new work by PS ,your work is just wonderful. Sorry about your ears,my hubby gets the same.
Yes I can't catch up with time at all,even thou I started early I am already getting way behind.
Love the photos of your trip. Have a fun week hugs June.

Marilyn said...

I'm glad you got to get away & enjoy your time in FL.
Our neighbors winter in North Fort Meyer, & left on Tuesday.
Very nice PS's.
Sorry to hear about your ear problem, hope it's better now.
Great pics of FL.
So sad about your in-laws house.
What a cute Christmas display.
Can't wait for your Parade of Ornaments!
Take care.

Sandy said...

The photos of Naples are beautiful. I love the beach in all seasons. Sometimes the skies are even clearer in cooler weather. It takes a long time for a community to recover from a storm of that magnitude.
The stitches are so pretty. I really like that 'O Christmas Tree. I am guessing since you did it so small that regular size would make it a flammable piece. If I had room, I would hop on that:)
Oh those boys. I had a plate rack in the kitchen with plates years ago and one of Paul Allen's friends, more like an extra son, turned one of the upside down all the time.
Look forward to the parade of stitches. I really enjoyed doing that this year. I want to do the Advent calendar for my other grandson and then I am going to go back to that. Gotta collect some good patterns.

Julie said...

Another wonderful blog post. I’m new to your blog as of last month but really love it and was happy to see your new stitches. I’m working my way through the last 5 years of Prairie Schooler Santa’s. I don’t know why - maybe just missing my mother who loved all things Prairie Schooler - but I’ve had this crazy notion of going back and stitching every year’s Santa since they started. I think the year was 1984! What a crazy thought, huh?! But I’m with you, I just love stitching them and they truly are a comfort stitch for me. Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea in that it could be a way to keep the Spirit of Christmas in my heart all year long as one of those famous quotes suggests. Just one more thought for you on your ears … I used to travel a lot for business and had several really painful episodes like yours. The things that seem to help most of the time (in addition to chewing on gum during take off and through the descent) is a warm moist cloth held on the ear ( a flight attendant shared that one with me when she saw how bad I was hurting one flight) and if I have to travel with some sinus issues, a dose of nasal spray right as I feel the plane start to descend helps clear the sinuses and equalize the pressure in ear. I don’t like to ever use the nasal spray but this one has really worked for me so I make an exception and always have a small bottle with me when I fly. But so happy you’re feeling better. Have a wonderful holiday and thanks again for such a lovely blog! Julie (Montana)

Annette said...

Hi Carol!
As usual, your stitching and finishes are just lovely! My favorite this time is “O Christmas Tree”. Love the tree border detail.
I know your feelings about Florida. My husband and I lived in Port Saint Lucie on the ocean side for 6 years. We bought a house in a development called Tradition. It had been empty for 3 or 4 years after the housing bust. The appliances were full of rust, carpets were dry rotted, cabinets were delaminating and it was infested with ants, but that is what happens in Florida when the ac isn’t run all the time….It Is Florida. We definitely had our work cut out for us and we really loved the house and living there, except for the hurricane threat, and that is why we ended up moving back up North. Then we became snowbirds and bought a park model trailer in Okeechobee just a half mile from the Big Lake. We were there for this Thanksgiving and sold it and are back home again. Bittersweet, love being there for the weather, but still, the hurricane threat. We decided it’s just time to leave Florida behind and maybe just visit for a week or two. It’s good to be “Home”.
Looking forward to your next post and lively finishes. Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Georgia said...

OH Carol, you aren't the only one trying to catch up. As always your stitching and finishing is beautiful. I know how you feel seeing your In-law's home go down hill, I saw that with the house I grew up in. My folks worked so hard on their little home for over 40 years and some of my fondest Christmases were in that little house. After it was sold it was used as a rental and last I checked it was condemned. Heartbreaking. I have been working a couple of days a week this year and my stitching is piling up. Hopefully I can get some finishing done this weekend. Many blessings to you and yours my friend, and thank you for sharing...

Kay said...

Your November ornament is delightful and I am really looking forward to seeing your parade of ornaments, it’s always one of my favourite posts of the year. So sorry about your problems. Sending love. X

Nicola said...

I love your blog . For your ear have you tried an otovent. It’s available here in the uk and is prescribed for middle ear blockages such as glue ear but it’s also used for flying. I’m a pharmacist and I always tell people to try this as it’s drug free.
Happy Christmas

Anonymous said...

Great pictures of your stitching. I hope to get back to mine after Christmas.
As for your ears..... I suffered a long time with ear infections until I started using essential oils. There are many brands to choose from and I use several different ones. My favorite fir my ears is doTerra lavender, lemon and peppermint. Also, they have these oils in a convenient capsule for traveling called Triease.
You can rub the oils along your ears... front and back and down your neck......lavender first, lemon on top of that and peppermint on top of the others. Peppermint is a driving oil that will push the other in. You can also put the oils in a veggie cap and take them internally......4 lemon, 4 lavender and 5 peppermint is what I use.... or if traveling or in a hurry, 2 Triease capsules. I swear by this protocol. Until I started using oils I was in the doctors office every 7-10 weeks with ear infections. I have been using them now for 13 years.
If you try them, I hope you have a good outcome.

Merry Christmas!
Brenda Schiesser

Heritage Hall said...

As ever, your choices, finishes and photos are a feast for the eyes. Hope your ear issue
is about cleared by now and so sorry about your in-law's lovely home being impacted so by
the storm. Looking forward to your next blog issue of Christmas ornaments....

Linda N said...

Hello Carol - I thought I would share my story on flying and my ear. I was on a flight descending into New Orleans and my ear drum ruptured and damaged the 3 inner ear bones we have. To make a long story short, I had to go to one to the top ear specialist in the country to replace the inner ear bones and ear drum. I did lose 60% of my hearing due to nerve damage and now wear a hearing aid. The number one thing this doctor told me to do every time I fly is to take a decongestant. If though you may feel like you don't need to take it, just take it as a precaution.

I am looking forward to your ornament parade. I have been following you for years. I look forward to your blogs every month. I love what you do.


marly said...

I knew you would do it! You are so right about the Schoolers, but I haven't stitched one in quite some time. I love that border too and am still amazed at entire projects being stitched over one.

Those flowers are so beautiful. Certainly wish we had good earth and not this hard pan clay. Even though sad, glad you enjoyed a nice break on the beach.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol, I, too, am looking forward to your ornament parade. Your ornaments are always finished just perfectly. I love stitching Prairie Schooler, too. They’re just so classic and I’m working on one of her trains for an ornament for my grandson.
I’m so sad and sorry to see what happened to your in-laws home. It’s such a shame to think of all the properties that are abandoned and never rebuilt. I guess it makes shoveling snow seem not so bad!
Have a wonderful holiday season. Cherie in WI

Shelly said...

The year is definitely flying by and I need it to stop! Haha. Your ornaments are beautiful, and yes, that border on the bigger one is gnarly. I don't have an ear problem but remember a trip to Phoenix a couple years ago where my ear stopped popping and I couldn't hear! The other ear was already plugged from a head cold! Terrible. Hope you're on the mend!

Robin in Virginia said...

I love both of your newest ornaments, Carol. Prairie Schooler rocks for comfort stitching. I decided my next take along project is going to be the blocks from A Prairie Year. I started the Santa on Friday and got quite a bit filled in yesterday while attending the Holiday Open House at Notforgotten Farm. I look forward to your parade of ornaments. I am glad you were able to get to Florida. Beautiful pictures you shared of nature! I am sorry about the condition of your in-laws home. I am glad your ear finally popped. Thinking of you!

Alhana said...

Those ornaments are really pretty, Carol. I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Florida despite your ear problems and the state of your in-laws' home. As a child I suffered from ear pain a lot, it only got better after a medical procedure. Yes, I can't believe we're at the end of the year, 2023 truly flew by.
Wishing you a happy December!

Barbara said...

When I was a little girl, I wanted to own a motel. I think it was because I enjoyed staying in motels when we traveled. Boy, am I glad THAT wish did not come true!!!

What has happened to your in-laws' place as a result of the hurricane is very sad and certainly interesting. Thanks for sharing about that.

I have no advice regarding flying and ear problems. I hope that is all cleared up now (or very very soon!). Ear pain is especially bothersome.

Christel said...

Je confirme Carol, plus nous vieillissons plus les années passent vite. J'ai la même impression que vous...
Oh c'est curieux pour un enfant de penser à travailler dans un bureau de poste. Je voulais être policière, j'ai passé le concours avec réussite mais la banque m'avait offert du travail avant. Je n'ai donc pas pu faire mes preuves dans la police. Votre ornement de novembre est adorable, j'aime beaucoup ce Santa qui lettre en main fera son maximum pour apporter ce que désire l'enfant.
L'ornement de décembre est tout aussi magnifique. Brodé en 1/1, c'est tellement délicat. J'en suis incapable.
Mon fils cadet a des soucis d'oreille lors des vols. Il s'est acheté des bouchons d'oreille, qui stoppent la pression sur les tympas. S'il ne les mets pas une otite se déclare et il est obligé de prendre des antibiotiques. Il a des soucis avec ses oreilles depuis qu'il est enfant, et ses tympans sont très fragiles malgré une opération qui devait régler ces problèmes...
Merci pour les photos de Naples, cela fait beaucoup de bien de voir le soleil, le ciel bleu, la mer, les fleurs.. J'ai déjà hâte que le printemps revienne... Les températures sont très fraîches en ce moment et cela ne me convient pas du tout, je me demande si je ne vais pas entrer en hibernation comme les ours. Je dis ça tous les ans, mais un jour peut-être que j'y arriverai...
L'ouragan Ian a fait énormément de dégâts comme en atteste vos photos. C'est effectivement très triste. En ce moment dans certaines régions de France, il y a beaucoup d'innondations, beaucoup de personnes ont perdu leurs maisons et tous leurs souvenirs.
Le couple de pères Noël fait une jolie décoration. Nul doute que vous sourirez lorsque vous un candy cane dans leurs bouches..
Amitiés de France.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your earache! How annoying while on vacation! But yes, I agree Naples is beautiful. My stepmom age 96 lives there. And I agree that Prairie Schooler Santas are adorable. I finished 16 ornaments (thanks to your suggestion a couple years ago to do one a month over the course of a year!) and still have a couple more to do, just because... Can't wait to see yours on display. I don't finish them as spectacularly as you do. But that's ok, no one compares them, right? and it is NOT a contest, but they become gifts of LOVE to family and friends :) xoxoxo AND I did complete the chart for "Naughty or Nice" that I won from you a few months ago. Thanks again for that! Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI

Manuela said...

Hello Carol,
your both newest finishes are adorable as always. I love them. Can't wait to see your Ornament parade this year.
Ich kann dir nachfühlen, dass es bestimmt nicht einfach war, das Haus zu sehen.
Ein Tipp zum Fliegen. Ich kaue beim Start und landen immer Kaugummi und was auch hilft, ca. eine halbe Stunde vor dem Start Nasenspray zu nehmen.
Danke für die schöne Bilder von Florida.
Genieße die Vorweihnachtszeit und a big Hugs, Manuela

Irene said...

Non vedo l'ora del tuo prossimo post con la parata degli ornamenti! Ne farai anche il prossimo anno?

Ms. Wright said...

Glad you're feeling better! Still looks like a beautiful getaway in FL. Love the sculpture in front of the garage. Don't love seeing the sad condition of the house. As always, the ornaments you created these past weeks a lovely! Hopefully smoking Santa doesn't get too close to them!

Donna said...

Love your new stitches and your Santa's too! Glad you are feeling better. I have problems with my ears from time to time and you are right - it sounds like you are underwater.
Looking forward to your ornament parade!

Jackie's Stitches said...

How disheartening to see your in-laws home! I understand completely being glad they didn't see the damage. xoxo

Just love seeing your oranaments and looking forward to your annual wrap up!

Maggie said...

How sad and upsetting to see your in-laws house ruined and I can understand you being glad that they didn't see all the damage.
Sorry you have been suffering, I've never had a problem with flying but my youngest daughter did, everytime we went on holiday she suffered earache although I can't remember what we did to alleviate the pain other than the special flight earplugs.

Your ornaments are always so lovely and I shall look forward to seeing your 2023 ornament parade. Take care x

Stasi said...

I know you missed your sons at Thanksgiving, but am glad you got to spend it with family. It must be so sad to see your in laws house in that condition, hope the estate settles soon and you can move on.
Your final two ornaments are lovely, as usual...can't wait for the parade!
Glad you're feeling better!

Vickie said...

Both of your ornaments are darling Carol. I just love O Christmas Tree! Your in-law's home is so very sad. :( Thank you for your big hug. I can feel it and I need it.

Jennifer said...

Such nice ornaments for your final two this year, congratulations on another year with 12 new ornaments! Sorry to hear about your ear troubles, that has to be so frustrating (not to mention painful), glad you’re on the mend. The pictures of the home are so sad, so sorry that it has ended this way for that cute little house. Hope you are enjoying warmer weather these first few days of December - we were out to get a tree yesterday without coats it was so warm, like a spring day instead of a winter one - hope the warm winds have come your way too!

Leonore Winterer said...

Happy December! It's hard to believe the year is almost up, and I've been so busy, especially these last few weeks, that I hardly notice time passing by!
Your ornaments are lovely, you sure do love your Prairie Schooler ornaments. Good thing there are so many of them!
Glad to hear you had a good Thanksgiving in the sun, and that your ear is doing better now. Those issues you had sound very uncomfortable and annoying!

Katie said...

Oh yeah another lovely Carol post. I always just love reading your posts. I always thought it would fun to work at the post office sorting place. I love sorting things haha. Love your two ornaments. Beautiful indeed. Ouch sorry your ear was giving you problems. Beautiful photos of your trip. I'm so sorry about the sadness in the old house. We felt the same way when cleaning out our old house. Just sad. Empty and dirty. The dust was crazy. LOL Too cute about your display. My husband would do the same thing probably. He's a cigar guy haha.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!