throwback thursday no. 10

I’ve been falling a bit behind on the throwback thursday posts.  I haven’t had time to put them together, so I’ve decided to keep them shorter and hopefully sweeter.

Today we’re just going back to 2013.  If you’ve been wondering just exactly where paradise on earth is located, wonder no more.  I found it.

jvd sailboats

Jost van Dyke is in the British Virgin Islands.  I had the pleasure of spending just a very short time there while on a cruise.  I’ve been to lots of beaches and White Bay on Jost van Dyke definitely tops the list as one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

jvd beach 2

My only complaint about my visit is that it was just simply far too short.

jvd boat

We arrived by boat and had the option of jumping off and swimming ashore, or taking a small dinghy ashore.  I was with my sister and we had a bag of stuff (including a camera) that couldn’t get wet, so she jumped in and I brought all of our stuff in the dinghy.  There is no boat dock in White Bay.  This is why the beach bar located there is called the Soggy Dollar.

jvd bar

Because its patrons generally swim in from their anchored boats, and thus the money in their pockets is plenty soggy.

jvd soggy dollar

I had the most delicious mango rum drink there (OK, well, maybe I had more than one, but who’s counting?).  I’m pretty sure it was the atmosphere that did it, but I’ve never had another drink that could compare.

According to Wikipedia, Jost van Dyke has a population of 298 people and is only about 3 square miles.  The island didn’t have electricity until 1989.  If you are looking for a vacation destination with lots of stuff to do and sights to see, this is not the place for you.

But if you are looking for a gorgeous beach where you can kick back, drink rum punch and forget about the world for a while it’s perfect.

jvd beach

I hope I can get back there again some day, and next time I definitely want to stay longer!

jvd in sand

throwback thursday no. 9

For this week’s throwback thursday, we are starting all the way back in the 1960’s.

You see, my sister and I have been Disney fans since way back then.  When I say Disney fans I’m referring to the parks, not the movies.

Here’s my sister, my brother and I at the entrance to Disneyland on what I believe was our first trip there.  I’m not sure, but I think I look about 6 or so, which would make this 1969.

disney entrance copy

This photo came out of a stash of my dad’s slides that I had converted to digital.  And no, my brother and I are not twins, but we are what some used to call “Irish twins” (which is now considered an offensive term so I apologize to any Irish people out there).  Basically that means we are less than 12 months apart in age.  My mom says that back in the early 60’s her doctor told her that she didn’t need birth control if she was breast feeding.  Turns out that was not exactly accurate, as evidenced by my little brother.  I enjoy periodically reminding both of my siblings that I am the only “planned child” in our family, my sister having been born a mere 10 months after my parents married.

But, I digress, back to Disney.

This is one of my favorite photos from my dad’s stash.

merry go round

That is the back of my brother in the orange plaid shirt on the far left, and our babysitter standing on the other side of his horse.  We don’t even know the other people in this shot, but I just love that woman in the pink dress with the classy shades and the up-do and her mad men trendy hubby.  He could possibly give Don Draper a run for his money.

Here’s my sister Debbie on the carousel.

deb on carousel

If you are a serious Disney nerd, you’ll know that the brown horses on the carousel date these photos to pre-1975.  After that all of the horses were painted white.

Here’s my brother and my sister greeting Pinocchio.  Extra credit to anyone who can tell exactly where they are in the park (and Debbie, I know you’ll know this).

deb and bob

Are you wondering why I seem to be missing from a few photos?  The story is that I came down with the measles while we were there, so my mom left me out in our motor home in the parking lot on day two.  Gasp!  Can you even imagine doing something like that today?  She claims she came out and checked on me frequently, but still.  Holy cow!  Times were definitely different back then.  I’m fairly sure my parents could be arrested for that these days.

We continued to visit Disneyland all throughout my childhood.  My mom had a friend who lived out in San Diego, so we would leave dad at home and she would load us kids into the motor home and drive out there nearly every summer.  We loved it!

Once we moved to Florida in 1976 we started going to DisneyWorld regularly too.

2013 Walt statue

My mom, sister and I have even been to Disneyland Paris.  We gave up a trip to the Louvre in exchange for the Disney park back in 1998.  Yeah, we’re that big of fans.

It really wasn’t a wise choice though.  The crowds were absolutely ridiculous.

Disneyland Paris

We spent most of the day waiting in lines.  Now remember, we are Disney park experts, so we know lines.  Be we waited more than 30 minutes in line just to use the bathroom at Disneyland Paris.  Lines for the best rides were 3 hours or longer.  Crazy!  And I missed the Louvre for that!  Although I understand they have lines too.

Here’s an insider tip on how to avoid crowds at Disney.  Sign up for one of their tours.  We did a behind the scenes type of tour of Disneyland in 2009 and were able to enter the park before the gates were actually open.

2009 Disney gate

We couldn’t get any further than the castle, but it was still a great photo op.

2009 Disney castle

It worked for us again in 2013 in DisneyWorld.  Here’s my niece Kris with Main Street all to herself.

2013 empty main street

It’s almost a bit freaky to see the place this empty, right?

2013 main street car

2013 Disney patio

I have a little bit of a preference for Disneyland over DisneyWorld.

a perfect treat (2)

I like that it’s smaller.  When we go there we stay at the Grand Californian and we can walk to the entrance of each park, no need for shuttle buses, ferries or monorails.

2012 DW

But in the end, we love any Disney park because even adults are allowed to be goofy and embrace their inner child.

2012 Disney acting goofy

We haven’t been to a Disney park since 2013 and we’re all starting to feel a bit of withdrawal.  I’m not sure when we’ll make it back again, but until then, peace out Disney parks!

peace out

throwback thursday no. 8

Today we’re taking a break from Little Speckled Frog week and heading back to 2011 for throwback thursday.  My mom came for a visit that summer and while she was here we headed up to the Gammelgarden Museum in Scandia, Minnesota.

2011 house

I’d driven past this place many times on my way up to a scrapbook retreat in Lindstrom and I’d always wanted to find time to check it out.  So with my mom here and no plans for the day, we decided to drive up to Scandia and check it out.  Unfortunately, even though I had checked their website and saw that they opened at 10 a.m., what I didn’t realize was that you couldn’t go inside any of the buildings unless you were on a tour and the tour wasn’t until 1 p.m.  Drat!  So we made do with wandering around the grounds.

2011 field

Gammelgarden means “old farm” in Swedish, and this is an “open air museum devoted to Swedish immigration in the United States.”

2011 shed

The museum sits on 11 acres and has several buildings including the Välkommen Hus, Präst Hus, Gammel Kyrkan, Ladugård, Immigrant Hus and Swedish Stuga.

2011 window

Maybe the next time I manage to find time to head up there I’ll try to get in a tour of insides of the buildings!

We checked out the cemetery next door while we were there too and it had some awesome old tombstones and monuments.

2011 angel

On our way back home we stopped at the historic site of the Hay Lake schoolhouse.

2011 schoolhouse 2

This one room schoolhouse was in use from 1896 until 1963.

2011 schoolhouse

I swiped this photo from the Hay Lake School Facebook page.

hay lake school

My goodness, just look a those sinister faces!  I think these might be the original children of the corn.

I also took the time on the way back home to stop and get a photo of this barn.

2011 barn

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by this barn and seen those two red Adirondack chairs sitting there.  I’ve always wanted to stop and get a picture, but never took the time.  I wonder if the owners of this barn sit in those chairs with a glass of wine on pleasant summer evenings.  Or do they just place those chairs there for ‘looks’, because they really do make a very picturesque scene.

Do you have any open air museums where you live?  Or have any of you local readers been to this one?  I’d love to know!

throwback thursday no. 7

Back in 2008 the hubby and I went on a cruise in the Mediterranean.  It was actually our second Med cruise, our first was in 2004 with our good friends Joe & Vonda.  But that was before I went digital (if you can believe that!), so I can’t feature it on throwback Thursday.

med title

We loved that first one so much though that Mr. Q and I chose to take a second Med cruise.  The itinerary was entirely different, so no repeats (well, there was one, but more on that later).  We sailed from Barcelona, Spain with stops in Aix en Provence, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Livorno, Corsica, Gibraltar and Tangier.

Technically our first port was Marseille, France but we traveled inland a little ways to Aix en Provence.  One of my former co-workers and his wife were living near Aix at the time, so it was fun to have our own private tour guides that day.

It might sound kinda strange, but I like to visit old cemeteries.  The painter Paul Cezanne is buried in the Saint-Pierre Cemetery in Aix, and my friends were game to go check that out with us.

med 9

We followed that up with a lovely lunch on a patio with the most delicious wine.  Why is it that wine always tastes better on a patio in France?  And although our French waiter was a little cool at first, he warmed up to us and in the end was quite charming.  Or perhaps it was the wine!

Here are our personal Aix tour guides, Dan & Sue.

med 11

Our next port of call was Villefranche-sur-Mer which is right in between Nice to the south and Monaco to the north.

VillefracheSurMer (2)

One of the nice things about taking a cruise in Europe is that you can choose your level of bravery when it comes to exploring.  You can take one of the ship’s shore excursions where everything is planned for you and you don’t have to worry about a thing, or you can strike out on your own.  Mr. Q is not a huge fan of guided tours, so we had done some research ahead of time and knew that it would be pretty easy to take the local train to Monaco for the day.

med 5

Well, it was supposed to be easy.  I’m sure for travel savvy people it would have been a breeze, but we aren’t quite as savvy as you might think.  We accidentally ended up on an express train for the return trip which flew right on past our stop at Villefranche and took us into Nice.  To say I was a little panicked about this might be an understatement.  We had a ship to catch!  We were about to be stranded, although there are probably worse things in life than to be stranded on the Cot ‘d Azur.  Fortunately the trains ran frequently in both directions, so we crossed over to the opposite platform in Nice and after figuring out how to identify express trains we hopped on the correct train and made it back in plenty of time.  Phew!  We even managed to have time to stroll around Villefranche for a bit.

med 7

After that harrowing (ok, not really) experience I was fairly happy to be on an official ship excursion in our next port which was Livorno, Italy.  Livorno itself isn’t the draw, but you can get to Pisa, Florence or the Cinque Terre from there.  We opted for the Cinque Terre.

med 4

I always laugh at that photo, doesn’t it look fake?  Like Mr. Q is posed in front of a green screen?  But no, 100% real.

See that little pink circle sticker on Mr. Q’s shirt?  Proof positive that we were on an organized tour!

med 2

The Cinque Terre was so lovely that many of my photos look kind of fake.

med 6

All real though, I promise.

The next port of call on this cruise was Civitavecchia.  For those of you who don’t know how this works, when you look at the itinerary of a cruise such as this one it will list your port of call like this:  Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy.  Rome is not on the coast.  In fact, it’s about 70 – 80 minutes away by train.  Having been to Rome a couple of times already, Mr. Q and I made a serious tactical error at this point in our trip.  We decided not to take the train to Rome.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I still regret this choice.  We thought it would be a good chance to rest up (you’ll see why this wasn’t necessary in a few minutes).  But seriously, how often am I going to get to Rome?  And there are so many things I haven’t seen there yet.  We could easily have taken the train and then visited the Villa Medici for example.  Well, it was 8 years ago, I need to get over it already.  But if you ever find yourself in this position, please just go to Rome.  For me.

After our day of rest, our ship moved on to Corsica.  Corisca was … well … meh … OK.  It had a charming European feel.  There were lots of shops.  But we were there on a Saturday and clearly it was the day that everyone came to town to shop.  It was a zoo.  Crowds everywhere.  We enjoyed walking around for a few hours, and of course there was some lovely scenery.  But there wasn’t a lot to do there.

corsica

So imagine our dismay when that evening it was announced over loudspeaker that our ship was in need of a repair.  The part was being flown in from somewhere.  We had to stay in Corsica for an extra day.

Corsica on a Sunday was the polar opposite of Corsica on a Saturday.  Nothing was open.  Absolutely nothing.  It was a ghost town.  Plus we’d already walked the full length of the city the day before.  Plus it was overcast with off and on showers (the only rain on the entire trip I might add).  Clearly this was meant to be our day of rest.  See?  We should have gone into Rome!  If only we’d known that this unplanned rest stop was headed our way.

Eventually our part arrived, the ship was repaired and we headed off to Gibraltar, home of the famous rock.  Also home of the famous Barbary Ape (or macaque).

med 10

These guys are all over the place on the rock.  And this isn’t a zoo, there are no barriers between you and the wildlife.  Add to that the fact that they are kind of mean, and they really like to steal stuff.  Especially food, but other stuff too, like cameras, hats, sunglasses, etc.  We were warned to keep everything tucked away, and once they take something not to try and get it back.  Yikes!  I watched one of these apes snatch the ice cream bar right out of the hand of a child.  Not pretty.

The next stop on our trip was supposed to Casablanca.  However, since we were a day behind due to our engine repairs, something had to give and sadly it was Casablanca.  Mr. Q and I were pretty disappointed since we had booked a side trip to Fez.  The old part of the city of Fez is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Fez was founded in 859 A.D.  Can you even imagine a city that old?  I know we would have loved seeing it.  But no use crying over spilled milk.  On the bright side, we were refunded the pre-paid fee for the excursion and also given additional ship board credit to make up for a missed port.  We ended up not owing a single dime on our shipboard account by the end of this trip, which is normally quite unheard of.

Our last official port of call was Tangier.  By the time we got to Tangier, we had become quite friendly with our dinner tablemates, two couples from Scotland that were traveling together and had been friends with each other for over 40 years.  We’d been having so much fun with them at dinner, despite really only understanding about half of what they said most of the time.  We thought it would be just ‘tickety boo’ to combine forces in Tangier and hire a private guide with a van for the six of us.

med group

We toured a bit of the countryside.

med 8

Mr. Q rode a camel.

Mikeonacamel (2)

Then we headed back for a tour of the Medina on foot.

med 3

Medina:  the ancient quarter of any of various North African cities.

med 1

There was plenty of Moroccan tile to be found.

Well, all good things come to an end and thus our cruise ended where it started, in Barcelona.  We spent a few extra days at a hotel there so that we could say we’d really seen it.  We enjoyed our time in Barcelona.  It’s a lovely city with some unique twists, like all of the Gaudi architecture.  But to be honest, by this point what made us happiest was the lovely little sidewalk cafe not far from our hotel where we had breakfast every morning.

med breakfast

I can still taste that delicious coffee.

I hope you enjoyed today’s throwback Thursday.  I suspect that I enjoy taking these trips down memory lane far more than any of you, but I hope that at least it’s not total torture for you.  On the bright side, if you’re bored by these posts you can just skip right over them and come back tomorrow for some more painted furniture.  On the other hand, if you’ve considered a Med cruise yourself I hope you found some inspiration here!  I highly recommend it!

throwback thursday no. 6

Today for throwback Thursday, I am taking you back to the summer of 2009 and the North St. Paul garden tour.

garden tour 5

I find that there is nothing more inspiring than a garden tour.  You can get tons of ideas for your own garden this way.

garden tour 6

They don’t have to be big ideas, they can be something as small as a clever combination of plants in a planter.

garden tour 10

Or just a perennial that you’ve never seen before and you want to try yourself.

garden tour 8

I planted some Jack Frost Brunnera in my own garden after seeing it on this tour.

garden tour 12

Or perhaps you’re looking for grand ideas.

garden tour 2

This garden even came complete with a painter in residence.

Perhaps you want to add a water feature.

garden tour 4

Or maybe put in a Japanese garden.

garden tour 11

Then again, maybe you just want to admire the beautiful gardens!  Being on a garden tour gives you permission to peek into some of the loveliest of backyard gardens that you would otherwise never see.

garden tour 1

What I love about a local garden tour is that the homeowner/gardener is almost always available to answer questions and share tips about gardening with you.  They are always proud as can be of their gardens (and rightly so) and happy to share their knowledge with you.

garden tour 3

Another plus is that no one is trying to sell you something.  This isn’t like a garden show at a trade center where there are people trying to sell you on a particular brand of mulch, type of herbicide, or landscaping material.

garden tour 7

You can also get a good feel for what kinds of plants grow well in your specific area.

We have a multitude of local garden tours offered during the summer in the Twin Cities.  Some of my favorite garage sale neighborhoods also host garden tours, such as Tangletown and Bryn Mawr.  Many local garden clubs also plan tour events.  There are garden tours that specialize in water gardens as well.  So many options!

Take time to check out a garden tour near you this summer, but meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this throwback Thursday post!  Check back tomorrow when I will remind you that I do still paint furniture on occasion!  Hope to see you then.

throwback thursday no. 5

Once upon a time I made jewelry.

jewelry 1

I used a mix of new stuff and vintage hardware, when I could find it.

jewelry 5

jewelry 8

I also liked to re-work pieces of vintage jewelry into new pieces like the daisies in this necklace that were originally part of a bracelet.

jewelry 7

It was a great hobby for winter because it didn’t take up a lot of space to work on jewelry in the house (unlike painting furniture).

jewelry 6

I sold a lot of my jewelry at the Round Barn up in Andover, before Lori closed up shop.

jewelry 2

But I also made gifts for people, like this bracelet that I made for my niece.

jewelry 9

A big part of the reason I gave up this hobby is because I just didn’t like futzing with the tiny little parts.  I need stronger and stronger ‘cheaters’ to see them, and I get easily frustrated while trying to hold little tiny bits and pieces with my not so dainty fingers.

jewelry 4

jewelry 3

I think my hands are much happier holding paint and a brush.  For now I just plan to stick with furniture painting and leave the jewelry making for those with better eyesight and more patience.

 

throwback thursday no. 4

Welcome to ‘throwback Thursday’ where I share fun pre-blog stuff that I have come across in my photo archives.  I’m excited to share today’s project with you because it’s still one of my favorite projects ever.

Many moons ago I purchased a dresser via craigslist (as per usual).  When I picked it up, it turned out that the seller was a guy who purchased the contents of storage units at auction, sort of like that TV show Storage Wars.  Mr. Q and I met him at his own storage locker to pick up the dresser.  I happened to notice an old trumpet case just tossed on top of a pile of other stuff and I really loved how shabby and old it looked.  I assumed there was a trumpet inside, but as it turned out there wasn’t.  The guy was just going to toss it, so I asked if I could have it.

Back then I didn’t have a bunch of cool stencils, nor did I have my Cricut machine.  In those days when I wanted to add words to a piece of furniture, or in this instance a trumpet case, I did it by hand.  If you’d like more info on how I accomplish that, check out {this post} about the Oh Darling suitcase.

oh darling with Lula

My first attempts at this process were simple, like the words I added to this dresser.

rue lafayette dresser

And this dresser.

tall dresser

I gradually got more confident.  This next suitcase was rather time consuming, but in the end I did two like it.

once a year

I got the idea from a pin I’d seen.

travel pin

So when I grabbed that trumpet case, I had a great idea for it.  After all, who doesn’t need a reminder to toot their own horn?  Well, OK, we all probably know a few people who toot a little too much … but most of us need a reminder.

horn

I absolutely love how this turned out (toot, toot).

I didn’t keep it, it sold almost instantly to one of my Carriage House customers.  She planned to display it in her music room.  What a fab addition to a music room, right?

I wonder if she still has it.