and I’m back.

Why is it that vacations go by so quickly.  It feels like you’re anticipating it for so long, and then bam!  You’re already back home again.

My sister and I had a great time visiting our mom again.  After our last visit, I shared the makeover we did on her patio …

It was fun to be back to see how things were holding up.  Unfortunately, I totally dropped the ball on getting an updated photo for you guys.  But I can tell you that most of the plants I put in died (due to temps in the 100’s, and my mom in the hospital and unable to water regularly), but the bougainvillea (pink flowering plant in the pot shown above) was doing great and in fact we had to go out and get a trellis for it because it had gotten so big.

My mom was also doing great.  After my last visit in March I was really worried about her health, but she seems to be doing much better now (knock on wood).  I could tell that she was feeling better by the amount of cooking she did for us!  She made our favorite pork chops, corn casserole, egg bake, two kinds of strawberry desserts, homemade caramel rolls and lasagna.  It was awesome.

My sister and I also took full advantage of the fact that her new townhouse (my mom downsized from her 4 bedroom house to a two bedroom townhouse in January 2021) has a pool.  This was our view every afternoon …

It was in the 90’s with a perfectly blue sky every day we were there, and we pretty much had the pool all to ourselves (except one afternoon when two other people were there).  We just relaxed by the pool and did some reading each day.  It really was heavenly.

We also visited the Henderson Bird Sanctuary while at my mom’s house.

It was a lovely day, and we enjoyed the visit.  But I have to say we didn’t see very many birds … with the exception of the mechanical kind.  The sanctuary seems to be located right under a flight path to the Vegas airport and those airplanes kept coming in one after another, after another, like clockwork.

My sister and I also checked out Ethel M Chocolates in Henderson.  It’s a great place to buy some really expensive (and delicious) chocolates, but they also have a lovely botanical cactus garden, one of the nicest I’ve seen (compared to a couple I’ve been to in the south of France, like this one).

They had started putting up lights for Christmas already, and I’m just betting that they put on an amazing holiday display.

It was quite hot the afternoon we visited, and you might wonder how you can get your chocolate home safely in those kind of temperatures, but they put ice packs in your shopping bag along with the chocolate.  Isn’t that a thoughtful detail?

Probably the most fun part of our trip was heading off to Disneyland though.  My sister and I took a quick flight from Las Vegas to the John Wayne airport in Orange County, and then we spent 4 nights at the Grand Californian in Disneyland.

It had been a while since we’d visited the original Disney park.  I’d almost forgotten how much smaller it is, especially that castle.  See it down there, at the end of Main Street?

It’s almost comically small compared to the one at Disney World.  But hey, back in Walt’s day I bet it was totally magical, definitely something never seen before in an amusement park.

By the way, that gal driving the horse drawn carriage is Ashley, and she was super friendly and told us all about how they care for the horses that work at Disneyland, and how they used to have some stables on the land that is now part of Galaxy’s Edge, but now they have relocated them to a ranch that is about 30 miles away.

My biggest q tip for you today, if you ever visit a Disney park, is to always make a point of chatting with the cast members (that’s what they call the employees there).  They are always super friendly and informative, and on this trip in particular they were all really enthusiastic and welcoming.  I think maybe they are all just really happy to be back at work after the park was closed for more than a year due to covid.

One of the highlights of our visit was seeing the Haunted Mansion all decked out for Halloween.

My photo doesn’t really do it justice, but it was covered in candelabras that flickered as though loaded with 100’s of real candles, and there were jack o’lanterns everywhere.  It was perfectly spooky!

We also enjoyed having some drinks in Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge.

We had some super geeked out Star Wars fans at the table next to us and they were wearing full on Star Wars costumes and brandishing their new light sabers.  So fun!

I’m back in the real world now though, and planning to spend the weekend out in my workshop starting work on some of my Christmas items (I know, I know, way too early, but it will be here before we know it).  How about you?  Are you starting to think about Christmas decorations already?  And tell me, have any of you been to both Disneyland and Disney World?  Which is your favorite?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

who needs tuscany when you have farmington?

A while back my … gosh … I don’t really know what to call her … my virtual work colleague?  I was initially thinking my ‘online friend’ but that seems to have the wrong connotation 😉 Basically, Deb is the contractual ambulance biller assigned to our account at my day job.  We have one of those work relationships that are conducted almost entirely over the phone and via email.  I’m pretty sure I’d literally only met her in person twice (or was it even only once?), but I speak with her on the phone several times a week and email her almost daily.  Recently she purchased the Farm Fresh Shelf from me and when she and her husband came to pick it up we got to chatting, and they invited us to help with their grape picking this year.

Deb and her husband own Crazy Legs Vineyard in Farmington, MN (check out their Facebook page).  They sell their grapes wholesale to local wineries.  As soon as she mentioned it, I knew that such an event would be great fun for me and my sister.

So bright and early this past Saturday, Debbie (my sister, the other Debbie in this story) and I loaded up the Bug with some lawn chairs and garden gloves, put the top down, and headed to Farmington.

As soon as we got there I knew we were in for a treat.  Just check out that barn!

And the gardens …

I wanted to just take a tour of the place rather than getting straight to the grape picking!

I absolutely loved this little side building …

Wouldn’t that be a charming spot for a little vintage shop?

I don’t actually know what’s inside.  It’s probably used for something far more practical.  But it sure is cute, and I love the arrangements in the window boxes.

Without a doubt, they just made the grapevine wreaths (I’m guessing they have plenty of vines to hand), and it looks like they might be painted in a faded barn red (I may have to borrow that idea for my own fall décor this year).

And isn’t this little courtyard area next to the pole barn charming?

They had a really fun and unique combination of flowers in the window boxes here.

I tried Angelonia (tall purple one in the center) in my front window boxes once and they were a complete failure, but they look amazing here.  I’ve never had great luck with Torenia (low purple ones on the side) either.  And I love how they combined these with the variegated New Guinea Impatiens.  Really unique and pretty fabulous.

Ultimately, I had to tear myself away from my own self-guided tour to do some actual grape picking though.

After some quick instructions on what to do, we set to work.

These vines were just loaded with grapes.

Apparently hot, sunny and dry is great grape growing weather.

We picked  a lot of grapes!

OK, we didn’t pick all of those ourselves, but we did pick a lot!

I was surprised when I loaded that photo onto my computer and realized that you can barely even see the bees.  There were A LOT of bees buzzing around that container.

  They were making quite a racket!

Here’s a quick q tip for you, if you are afraid of bees, or allergic to their sting, then grape picking might not be for you.

But neither of us were bothered by the bees, for whatever reason they didn’t seem to mind that we were cutting away their grapes.  They just moved on to the next bunch.  There really were plenty of grapes for all.

By noon, we were pretty much grape picked out.  Our gloves were totally saturated with grape juice and it was starting to get pretty hot out there under the noon-day sun.  Luckily it was time for lunch, wine, and some live music.

I totally enjoyed the band, The Dang Ol’ Tri’ole.  It was the perfect afternoon for sitting in the shade, enjoying a glass of wine and listening to some music.

To cap off the event, Deb’s son shot a cannon out of his … I don’t what you would call this thing … a giant pumpkin shooting cannon thingie …

Oh, and just to be clear, that little guy in the photo is not Deb’s son.  He was a spectator.

I’m fairly sure that someone in the next county over is wondering where that smashed pumpkin in their corn field came from.  Deb was just hoping it didn’t hit someone’s cow.  I don’t even know how far away that pumpkin landed, I never did see it come down!

And speaking of pumpkins …

They also grow pumpkins and squash at Crazy Legs Vineyard, and they sell them at the end of their driveway.

In addition to your typical orange pumpkins, they had lots of white ones …

plus a bunch of really unique varieties that I managed to not get a photo of.  I did manage to purchase a couple of them though, along with a few unusual gourds, and here they are …

I’m not exactly sure yet how I’m going to use these, but I’m sure something will come to me!

As we were heading down the driveway when we first arrived, we were chatting with another couple that was there for grape picking.  They joked that they couldn’t go to Tuscany this year, but this was the next best thing.  I have to say, I think this was even better!  Beautiful scenery, grape picking with friends, delicious pasta and wine for lunch, followed by live music.  We’d have paid a fortune to do that in Tuscany, and this was totally free (except for the pumpkins I purchased at the end) and no need for the 10 hour flight.

Who needs Tuscany when you have Farmington?

simple scrapbooking.

Before I move on with today’s post, I want to say congrats to Libby.  I drew her name as the random winner of the pair of Dixie Belle brushes I’m giving away and Mr. Q is heading to the post office today to get that shipped out along with the desert themed giveaway that Debbie Dee won two weeks ago (I’m so sorry Debbie, I’m terrible about getting things in the mail promptly!)

Last Friday I wrote about losing my mojo with furniture painting, and today I thought I’d post about another creative outlet that I lost my mojo for.  I used to be an avid scrapbooker.  I feel like I must have inherited the gene for it from my grandmother, based on the scrapbook she made of their 1953 road trip.

I have almost completely given up scrapbooking, although I do still occasionally create scrapbook alternatives like the recipe box scrapbook of our Adriatic cruise.

inside

I still haven’t finished that project.  I meant to get to it over the winter, but somehow the winter has slipped away from me and here it is spring already!

While I was out visiting my mom last month, she sent another scrapbook home with me (my mom is at that age where she wants to get rid of things).  This is a small scrapbook that I made for her as a memento from a Viking river cruise that we (Mr. Q, my sister, my mom and me) took on the Danube back in 2014.

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As I looked through it I was reminded that I kept it fairly simple and uncluttered, so overall it came together pretty quickly.  Plus the 8″ x 8″ size of the pages in this book are easier to fill than those in a larger book.

So I thought that I’d share some tips today on creating a simple scrapbook just in case any of you might be inspired to get out your old scrapbooking supplies this weekend.

My first tip has to do with the photos themselves.  I print my own photos on a relatively inexpensive color printer and I use matte photo paper.  You know me, I’m not a fan of shine, even in my photos.  Printing the photos myself as I go allows me to size them to fit the layout on my page.

By the way, that guy in the photo at the top of the page is making something called kürtöskalács or chimney cake and it was delicious!

I also edit my photos using the same program I use for my blog photos, PicMonkey.  You can make all kinds of adjustments to your photo for color, exposure, etc and you can play around with fun effects (check out what I did with their “miniature” effect in this post), but my favorite thing to do is to add titles right to the photo.

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There are lots of fonts to choose from, and you can adjust the color and transparency of the title as well.

Personally I find PicMonkey fairly easy to work with compared to some of the more complicated photo editing software packages like Photo Shop.

I tried to keep the focus on the photos in this book and I chose plain but colorful background paper to bring out the various details.

I didn’t add too much embellishment to most of the pages, but when I did I just layered a few elements.

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I know you all are probably noticing that I didn’t do any journaling other than those titles on the photos.  Here’s my thoughts on journaling; it’s more important for scrapbooks that might be handed down to future generations than it is for your own keepsake.  When I look back at these pages I am transported back to the places we visited on this trip.  I remember quite well how rainy it was in Vienna, and the pretty pastel colors on the buildings in Regensburg.

And I definitely don’t need any more journaling to remember how freezing cold it was sailing through the Wachau Valley, even for a hardy Minnesotan like me.  I had on about five layers of clothing, plus two blankets and I was still freezing!

We spent a couple of days in Budapest before our cruise sailed and we hired a private guide for a walking tour which turned out to be amazing.

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I have to admit that quote sticker I chose to place beside the photo is a bit tongue in cheek.  We walked, and walked, and walked for a full five hours (it was supposed to be 4, but we just kept on going) on that tour and definitely did not sit down a lot of the time.  My poor mom was totally wiped out.  At one point we offered to send her back to the hotel in a taxi, but she was a real trooper and she hung in until the end.

By the way, if you are ever going to be in Budapest I can’t recommend Orsolya enough.  Our tour was amazing.  You can check out her website here.  At $150 for the entire group for a 4 hour walking tour, I’d say she is still a bargain!

This scrapbook definitely serves it purpose as a memento of a wonderful trip.

Here’s hoping that we’ll all be able to travel like this again soon.  I’d love to take another river cruise in Europe one of these days!  I have to admit, I’m starting to despair that Europe will never open back up for U.S. travelers, but I’m trying to embrace optimism.  Therefore, I predict that one year from now I’ll be writing a blog post all about the trip to Europe that we are planning for Fall of 2022.  Fingers crossed!

If you’d like to see more of my scrapbooking efforts, I did post about the full size book I made about this trip for myself here, and if you’d like more details on our walking tour with Orsolya, you can find a post about that here.

the great american road trip.

First up, congrats to Debbie Dee!  I drew her name at random to win my giveaway from last Friday and I’ll be getting her prize shipped out just as soon as I get it boxed up and send Mr. Q to the post office 😉

In the meantime, in my post about my mom’s patio makeover, I mentioned that she downsized her home at the end of 2020.  As a result, she was clearing out and getting rid of things.

She phoned me one day while she was in the midst of that process and happened to mention that she had thrown away the scrapbook that her mother made of a family road trip they took out west in 1953.  I believe my response was “You did what?!!”

Of all the things she could have thrown out, she chose that scrapbook because ‘it was falling apart.’

Seriously, does my mother not know me at all?  Have I ever been know to shy away from something simply because it was falling apart?  Do I not have a huge stash of the old black and white family photos that no one else wanted, even though we aren’t even sure who the people are in them?

Fortunately, she had literally just thrown it out, so I asked her to please go back out to the garage, dig it back out of the trash can, and save it for me.

In my mind, this scrapbook chronicles not only an amazing piece of family history but also a classic story of the great American road trip.

My mom was a surprise baby that came along a bit late in life for my grandparents.  My grandmother was 42 and my grandpa was 48 when my mom was born.  She had two older siblings but by 1953 they were married and out of the house and she was effectively an only child.

That summer my grandparents loaded up the car and the three of them headed to South Dakota to pick up my grandmother’s brother and his wife, Uncle Knute and Aunt Alma, and then the five of them headed off for adventure at 5 a.m. the next day.

My grandmother documented the entire trip in this scrapbook starting with a map of their route.

There wasn’t an explanation for the two different routes shown, but it was noted that they followed the one shown in purple crayon.  The red crayon route must have been rejected for some reason, or perhaps it was plan B.

It seems that their goal was to not only see America, but also dip into both Canada and Mexico.  It must have been the trip of a lifetime for the adults (I can’t say the same for my mom, she went on to travel the world!).  They drove 7,000 miles and it took 22 days.  They saw snow deeper than their car in the Beartooth Mountains and temperatures of 105 degrees in the Mojave Desert.

But my mom still says that one of the things she remembers the most about this trip was having to sit in the back seat of the car in between Knute and Alma for all of those 7,000 miles.

I was surprised to learn that that between them my grandparents and my great aunt & uncle had relatives spread across the country all the way to California.  Out of 22 nights on the road, they spent 10 of them at the homes of various family members including a night at Aunt Nettie’s house in Long Beach, CA.

I once posted here about Great Aunt Nettie Fleaner.  I’d found a photo of her and her daughter in another old scrapbook and the photo was labeled “Great Aunt Nettie Fleaner and her daughter Flossie”.  It took me a second, but then I realized that made the daughter’s full name Flossie Fleaner.  You can’t help but laugh out loud at that one.

I also had to chuckle over my grandma’s caption for this next rather blurry photo.

Apparently several of her relatives lived in ‘modern homes’.  I suppose in 1953 that house was the height of modernity!

They seem to have hit all of the classic stops for a road trip out west including the Badlands, Yellowstone, Mount Hood, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Redwoods, Yosemite, Los Angeles, Tijuana, Zion, the Grand Canyon, and even Las Vegas …

I believe I may have inherited my feelings about Vegas from my grandmother with her comment that it was ‘mostly gambling places & motels’.  She doesn’t sound impressed, does she?

My mom said that Aunt Alma put $3 in a slot machine and my grandma was absolutely scandalized and called it sinful.  Hmmm.  In this case, the apple fell very far from the tree indeed.  I wonder what grandma would think of the fact that her daughter now lives near Vegas and I suspect she puts a little more than $3 into those machines.

For some reason I find it fascinating to think about how different Vegas must have looked in 1953.  Here’s a photo that I found online.

While searching around for that photo, I also learned that the U.S. government was testing atomic bombs in Nevada in 1953.  In some cases the mushrooms clouds could be seen from the strip.  And apparently it became a tourist attraction (check out this quick YouTube video if you don’t believe me).  Can you imagine?

I asked my mom about that and she didn’t remember seeing any mushroom clouds on their trip.

My grandmother kept track of the entire cost of the trip, which added up to a whopping $278.63, which I imagine was a fair amount of money in 1953.

I also thought it was interesting to note that my grandpa had to take an extra week of vacation without pay.  I assume he only got two weeks of vacation per year, and they were gone for three weeks.  I wish they’d noted how much a week’s pay was for him.  My grandpa worked in a bakery, so I don’t think that they were wealthy by any means.  According to the US Census Bureau the average family income in 1953 was around $80 per week.  So if you consider that, this trip, including the lost week of wages, cost about the equivalent of a month’s pay.

I wish I knew more about what inspired my grandparents to make this road trip.  I did a little online research and discovered that the popularity of road trips really took off in the 1950’s due to the rapid growth of ownership of automobiles by American families.  That made me wonder if the car they drove was their first family car, so I asked my mom about that.  Unfortunately she wasn’t really sure, but she does remember her dad taking the bus to work when she was younger so it is possible that they didn’t have a car prior to this time.

I also wonder if this trip is what inspired my mom’s love of travel.  She took us kids on roads trips nearly ever summer when we were young.  We drove to Florida once, and to California multiple times.  Of course, that is what inspired my own love of travel as well.  Speaking of, we just learned that the European cruise we had booked for September has been officially canceled.  This is cancellation number two, we were originally supposed to go in September 2020.  We’ve rebooked once again, now for September 2022.  Let’s hope that the third time will be the charm.  By the time it rolls around it will have been 4 years since our last trip to Europe and that just seems plain old crazy.

So tell me, do any of you have good stories to share about taking the great American road trip?  Or maybe you’ve taken road trips in other parts of the world?  I’d love to hear about your favorite places to visit, or trips taken, in the comments!

red rock canyon.

I am not your typical Vegas tourist.  If my mom didn’t live nearby, I’m sure I would never go there.

That being said, there are things you can do in the Las Vegas area that don’t involve gambling, drinking or bright lights.

One of my favorites is hiking in Red Rock Canyon, which is only about 25 miles from the Vegas Strip.

Red Rock offers something for every fitness level.  You could do some serious rock climbing, you could bring a bike (there are mountain bike trails, or you could just ride on the road), you can hike a 14 mile trail, you can hike a 1/2 mile trail, or you could just enjoy the scenic 13 mile loop through the park from the comfort of your vehicle.

My sister and I were looking forward to doing some longer hikes, however I managed to trip over a step on my mom’s patio the day before and injure my foot.  That sort of put a damper on the hiking.  We still managed to do several short hikes though, and we still enjoyed the beautiful desert scenery.

It was interesting to see the sandstone quarry where huge chunks of sandstone were cut out of the Calico Hills from 1905 to 1912.

The cost to transport the huge blocks of sandstone ended up being too costly to make a profit so after 7 years they gave it up.

We also checked out the petroglyphs.

They estimate that these petroglyphs are around 800 years old.  I have no idea what kind of message they were trying to convey, but it is fascinating to see them.

Our final stop was the Red Spring Boardwalk.

The purpose of the boardwalk is to keep people from walking directly on the grasses that grow near the spring and damaging that delicate ecosystem.

It was easy to see how different this area looked compared to the more dry areas of Red Rock Canyon.

And sure enough, there was even some water trickling down from the spring.

And even a little bit of green!

The next time you’re in Vegas, I totally recommend getting away from the glittering lights on the strip and checking out some nature instead.

Now, if you’ve followed me for long, you know that I always like to pick up a little something on my travels to give away here on the blog.  I know, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to travel, so you’ve probably all forgotten that I like to do this!

All I managed to pick up this time around was a magazine at the airport, but I’ve added a few other things to the prize that have a sunny desert sort of feel to them.

So in addition to the magazine, I’m including some Dixie Belle paint in Putty (a good desert hue), Haint Blue (not quite the color of that desert sky, but a pretty pale blue none the less), some Mud, a jar of the new Silk paint in Sun Kissed, some Easy Peasy spray wax, some Howdy-Do hemp seed oil and finally one of the new Dixie Belle La Petite brushes.  This brush works really beautifully for getting into some tight corners.  I’m not sure I would use it to paint, but it’s fantastic for waxing.

The rules:  Simply leave a comment on today’s blog post to have your name thrown in the hat to win.

Your comment must be left on this blog post, not on Facebook or Instagram.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Sunday, March 14, 2021 at the stroke of midnight (U.S. Central time).

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $150, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, March 19, 2021 another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle for providing the items I am giving away.  Good luck!

making lemonade.

This whole pandemic thing has thrown us a bunch of lemons, hasn’t it?  Well, you know what they say, when life gives you lemons …

Mr. Q and I weren’t able to take our planned trip to Europe this fall, so I’ve been taking a few days off work here and there and acting like a tourist at home.

One of my favorite things to do when we travel in Europe is visit open air museums.  If you’re not familiar, an open air museum is a museum that exhibits collections of buildings.  Usually they are buildings that have been moved to the location from all across a particular country or area, quite often they are being saved from the wrecking ball.

I’ve blogged about them a few times.  My absolute favorite, and the most elaborate, is The Beamish in County Durham, England.

The open air museums in the Scandinavian countries are all amazing as well.  I’ve visited Skansen in Stockholm, Den Gamle By in Aarhus, Denmark, and the Norske Folkemuseum in Oslo.

Unfortunately, nothing near me can really hold a candle to these.  I’ve shared the Gammelgården in Scandia, MN.  It’s small, but still worth a visit.

We also have another open air museum in the Twin Cities that is a bit larger called The Landing.

A couple of weeks ago my sister and I stopped in at The Landing after spending part of the day in Excelsior.

The Landing is located in Shakopee, MN.  The grounds are open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and are free of charge.  If you want to go inside the buildings, you have to sign up (and pay for) a particular event that includes inside visits.

Debbie and I just wandered around the grounds on our visit, and we nearly had the entire place to ourselves.

There are interpretive signs at each location so that you can learn a little about it.

There is an area that represents a 19th century village and includes a church …

a cabinet maker’s shop …

a boarding house (with some fabulous galvanized tubs) …

a town hall and more.

I love the detailed trim on the town hall.

As you continue away from the village, you’ll find the 1889 farm first, then a little further out is the 1857 farm.

I confess that I coveted their little wooden cart.

Wouldn’t that be amazing with a Christmas tree in it?

I wasn’t quite as envious of their outhouse though.

It reminds me to be grateful for my tiny bathroom that seems awfully far away at night.  At least mine is heated and has electricity, and not a lot of spiders.

I was surprised to find that they had live animals at The Landing.

There were chickens, pigs and cows.

As you continue away from the village the final stop is the fur trapper’s trading post.

This building was built in 1844, before Minnesota became a state.

You know what?  I may not have been able to visit one of my favorite open air museums in Europe this year, but I made a little lemonade from the lemons being thrown at us by COVID by visiting The Landing instead.

How about you?  Are there any open air museums where you live?  If so, I’d love to hear about them.

gone paintin’ stencils.

Remember the trip Mr. Q and I were supposed to take this year?  It was going to be a cruise round trip from London stopping at 8 ports of call in Europe.  Not only was it an amazing itinerary, but we had gotten upgraded to a mini-suite.

I have to admit, I had a feeling it was too good to be true.  Us?  In a mini-suite?  Hard to imagine.

Sure enough, along came COVID and that put an end to our travel plans.  And at this rate, I have a feeling it might be 2022 before European cruises come back.  Damn!

Well, no use crying over spilled milk and I’m sure most of you are playing the world’s smallest violin for me.  I know, I know, there are far worse things happening out there.  A missed trip is nothing.  But I have been thinking about it a little bit lately because had our trip taken place, we would have just gotten home this past weekend and by now I’d be sharing stories from our travels.

I’m mainly bringing this up as a segue to today’s post.  You see, one of our ports of call was Hamburg, Germany.  So when Daggi from Gone Paintin’ sent me some of her stencils to try out recently, knowing that I was going to miss visiting Hamburg, she included a postcard!

That’s because Daggi is located near Hamburg.  The last time I shared a link to her blog, several people asked how to translate it.  I’m really not all that savvy with techie stuff, but when I bring up her blog using google, the google translate pop up box comes up automatically in the upper right hand corner and gives me the option of translating to English.

Hopefully that will work for you guys too because Daggi’s blog is definitely worth a visit.  Her style is very similar to mine, so if you like my stuff I can almost guarantee that you will like her stuff too.  It’s like my stuff, but with a European twist.

Paint furniture with Fusion Mineral Paint in Cathedral Taupe

She painted that dresser in Fusion’s Cathedral Taupe, and I especially loved how she rusted up the handles (you should check that out in her post).  She used a European product that is very similar to Dixie Belle’s patina paint.

When Daggi contacted me a while back and asked if I’d like to try out a couple of designs from her new line of stencils, naturally I said yes.  You guys know I love a good stencil.

That brings me to the birdcage that I purchased recently at a garage sale.

The birdcage actually came with a broken plastic tray at the bottom that was held in place with some clips.  I immediately trashed the tray, prior to taking the ‘before’ photo above.  It was a little gross.

But I kept the clips because I was optimistic that I could come up with something else to use for the bottom.  Then I remembered the wooden chargers from Prima Marketing.

I’ve done a couple of different things with these (you can find them here and here), but I still had a few of them left from my brand ambassador days.

Sure enough, the largest 14″ size was perfect for the bird cage.  I tested it out and found that I could even attach it to the cage using the clips.  It was kismet.

I painted the charger with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy first.  Then I taped off some grain sack style stripes and painted them in DB’s French Linen.  Once dry, I sanded the whole thing to distress it a bit.

Then I pulled out one of Daggi’s stencils called Getreide Müller, which apparently translates to Grain Miller as per google translate.  I stenciled the design onto the charger using Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road.  I wasn’t able to fit the entire design onto the charger, so I re-arranged it a little.

While I had the Gravel Road out, I also painted the little swinging perch that came with the cage.

Once everything was dry I gave it all a coat of clear wax and then reassembled the cage using the clips.

I wouldn’t necessary use this cage for a real bird, but it would be fun to use for decor purposes.  Plus, since the bottom so easy to remove and then re-attach, you could put whatever you want inside the cage.

Like a vintage book, an old pair of binoculars and a black and white photo for example.

It’s would also be perfect for a plant since you could easily remove it for watering.

What would you place inside this cage?

You can find Daggi’s stencils in her Etsy shop (click here).  Although they ship from Germany, the shipping cost is not prohibitive and in fact is quite a bit less than I paid to have stuff shipped to me from Utah recently.  So I encourage you to check them out!

 

excelsior.

This past Friday was just simply too gorgeous of a day to go to work.  So my sister and I played hooky.  We hopped into my convertible VW Bug and headed for the other side of the Twin Cities.

Excelsior is an adorable little town on the south side of Lake Minnetonka.

We didn’t really have a specific plan in mind so we parked the car and headed towards the Port of Excelsior on foot.  It was pure luck that we happened upon a little wooden box that had self-guided walking tour maps inside.  We love a good self-guided walking tour.  It always makes a place a little more interesting when you know the history behind it.

Our first stop was actually the last stop on the walking tour, Palmer’s Grove.

According to the walking tour map, this spot held summer rental cottages until at least 2000.  We’re guessing that the one shown above is the only original cottage remaining.  Isn’t it adorable?  How amazing would it be to spend a summer vacation there?  From now on I think this will be how my imaginary lakefront cabin looks on the outside.  You know, the one I would have if I had a little lot of extra money.

The Excelsior Public School was built in 1899 and it’s certainly an imposing structure.

It was used as a school until the 1960’s, but now serves as an office building.

Our last stop on the tour turned out to be my favorite of the historic homes.  The Victorian style Wyer/Pearce house was built in 1885.

Originally the property went all the way to the lake and I imagine there was grand lawn that was perfect for playing croquet.  The space has been built up since then though, so we could no longer see the lake from where we were standing when I took that photo.  But maybe you can still see it from some of those upper story windows.

Before heading out of town, we popped into a few shops along Water Street and I just have to share this one with you guys.  It’s called The Country Look in Antiques.

I’ll confess, I don’t do a lot of shopping in antique stores.  Usually their prices are too high for me, and I don’t enjoy digging through mounds of stuff looking for the one or two gems as much as some people.  But this shop was styled beautifully.

The items for sale were expertly curated.  Every piece would look fantastic in my imaginary cabin, right down to the vintage croquet mallets.

I might have to pass on the buffalo head though.

In hindsight, I wish I had at least looked at the price tag on this set of Mark Twain books.  I think Mr. Q would have enjoyed having it.

And I just love the look of them!

But I was distracted by the item that I did buy …

I’ve seen these fabulous mint green Savoy cameras on pinterest, but I’ve never seen one for sale.  I paid $30 for it, and looking around online I think that was a more than fair price.  There are a few of them for sale on Etsy ranging from $40 to $60.

My sister purchased a 1970’s Life magazine with the opening of the Magic Kingdom in Disney World on the cover.

So we each came away from Excelsior with a suitable souvenir.

We headed off to a 2nd destination after shopping on Water Street, but I’m going to save that story for another day.  But how about you, did you visit any quaint little towns this past weekend?

 

hello fall.

I had such an awesome time at my girls getaway last weekend.

The cabin we stayed in is about 3 1/2 hours north of the Twin Cities and it was fun to watch the fall colors growing in intensity as we drove north.  We have some trees starting to change color here, but they are much further along up north.

We had gorgeous weather, so we spent quite a bit of time on the water just enjoying the scenery.

Although I’ll admit, we froze our butts off on our sunset cruise even though we were bundled up and had brought some blankets along.

I had to borrow that selfie from Katie because I neglected to take any photos with the actual people in them.  There were 8 of us (front:  Katie, Krissy, Vonda & me, rear:  Lindsey, Mariem & Nancy).

Here’s my bff and me trying to huddle together for warmth …

That photo also borrowed from Katie.

I always enjoy scoping out the various cabins along the shore.  There was a total mix of styles ranging from super expensive (and huge) newer cabins to original vintage ones.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you guys that I love the vintage ones best.  The old cabins tend to be closer to the water too.  Newer restrictions require buildings to be further away from the shore.

It is nice to have modern amenities like electricity and plumbing though, so as much as I admire the looks of those vintage places, it’s definitely nice not to have to use an outhouse.

For the record, my first visit to the cabin we stayed in was back in the mid-70’s and it did just have an outhouse back then!

My bff called this next spot the ‘million dollar island’ because it recently sold for just under a million dollars.

Although technically an island, there is a bridge so that you can drive to it.  And apparently the entire island is owned by one person.  I’m not sure if there is a cabin somewhere in there, but I assume there must be.  Wouldn’t you love to enjoy your morning coffee while sitting in those blue Adirondack chairs?

This little getaway up north was the perfect way to usher in the fall season.

And speaking of saying hello to fall, I ended up realizing I had six ‘hello fall’ book page banners to give away instead of four.  I drew six names at random and sent emails to the winners on Monday.  The winners are Holly, Wendy, Linda, Joyce, Sandy and Gay.

So, congrats to them, hello to fall, and be sure to stay tuned because I have an actual furniture makeover to share with you guys on Friday.  See you then!

ecotherapy.

I had taken a day off at the 9 to 5 job recently to get started on a large cupboard that I want to get painted before the snow flies.  I know, I know, it’s only the beginning of September, I shouldn’t be talking about the ‘s’ word yet.  But our fall weather can be unpredictable.  We might get gorgeous, sunny days in the 60’s and 70’s.  Or we might get this …

And this particular cupboard is too big and heavy to wrangle into the house, so I really need to get ‘er done.

But then my niece texted to ask if I wanted to go hiking with her in Banning State Park.  Not only was it a gorgeous day, but I’ve recently decided to work on getting out more.  In light of the whole COVID thing, I think it’s more important than ever to get out and do the things we can do safely, like hiking in the woods.  Plus, I always benefit from a little ecotherapy.  There is just something about immersing yourself in nature that feels rejuvenating.

So, rather than having a post about a finished project for you guys today, I just have a post about Banning State Park.  For those of you who are local, but haven’t been there (you could have included me in that category prior to this visit), Banning is just north of Hinckley, about a half mile east of I35 N and I’d say it’s worth the drive.

The trails we hiked were mostly flat, packed earth through a lovely, leafy forest.

(that’s my niece, Kris, and her dog, Jade)

But there were a couple of slightly more challenging spots …

There were also significantly more challenging trails that we could have chosen.  For example, the Hell’s Gate Trail.  The map said it was not recommended for small children though, so we chickened out 😉

Instead we did the Quarry Loop Trail which took us past the ruins of the old sandstone quarry that operated in the 1800’s.

We were also hiking along the Kettle River, although we couldn’t often see it well from the trail.

But when we could, it was magnificent.

And even when we couldn’t, the trail was still interesting.

I had read some reviews before we left and the one common denominator in all of them was the mention of how bad the bugs were.  So we came prepared with bug spray, and it was a lucky thing.  The mosquito population was definitely thriving in Banning State Park.

In addition to all of the trails in the park proper, you can leave the park and drive through the town of Sandstone to get to the Big Spring Falls Trail.  It’s a short, easy trail that leads to the Big Spring Falls.

Now, you might be wondering if the water is brown because it’s polluted, but that’s not the case.  The water in the Kettle River is amber colored due to tannins from wetlands that drain into the river.

We were hoping to see some kayakers or canoeists on the river, because this is a popular spot for white water enthusiasts, but no such luck.

We plan to get out and do a bit more hiking before winter, and hey, maybe we’ll even do some winter hiking this year.  I bet some of these trails are absolutely gorgeous in winter.

But in the meantime, I have a couple more days off at the day job this week so maybe I can get that cupboard painted!