Friday, May 15, 2015

Traveling My Way

I learned a few things on my recent vacation. And I would like to pass them along to the next unwary traveler. We decided it would be best to pack all our clothing in a carry-on bag and a tote. We were lucky enough to have laundry facilities at both the houses, so we decided we could take fewer bags. Also, we worried just how much space there would be in the car that we rented, so traveling lightly seemed like a good idea. Right? Not so much.
When I got to the airport, I decided to check my bag at the last minute. It was heavy, and I thought the layover would be much easier. Well, you can probably guess what happened. My bag eventually got to London, but not on the plane I was on. Tracking down my bag took several hours out of our first day. And, everything I had to wear was in it.
RULE ONE: Don't check your bag on the way there if you can help it.
We had a lot of trouble with our phones this time. Reception was not always good. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make calls to the US, but my phone carrier had assured me that I could send photos to Facebook if I had Wi-Fi available. My friend had bought a special package to be able to use her cell phone, but it barely worked.
RULE TWO: Do not be overly dependent on your electronic devices.
Credit cards are another thing that have changed since I was in England in 2012. All British cards now have chips. Many of the cash machines will not take a card without a chip. We were able to use our cards most of the time, but not always.  The little squares on the backs of our recent cards are not chips. I do not know what a chip looks like. The machines scan the cards, instead of swiping them. Some of the little villages we visited only have cash machines that scan the cards. Most of them are like ours, but when you need cash, that can be a problem. Especially if you find something that you really, really want at a village craft/junk/antique/show.
RULE THREE: Just tell your bank you want the card with a chip. And don't forget to notify them what days you will be gone.
I had planned to mail things home if I bought more than the fold up duffel bag I had packed could hold.. I always think I won't buy much, but I still like stuff. Somehow, I could never find a post office and box to mail said treasures back to Iowa. So the next solution was to buy a vintage suitcase at a local charity shop. Five pounds!! And with three locks and two straps, it looked pretty sturdy. And I tied a cord around it just to be safe. I am such a classy traveler.  HA. The picture above shows what it looked like when I saw it again at home. We watched them load our baggage. They are not gentle.
RULE FOUR:  Do not check a second bag. This idea cost me $100.00. I had no idea it would be so expensive. I won't forget this rule.
RULE FIVE: Just because you speak the same language doesn't mean you will be able to understand them. Everything is different, including appliances and food.
I loved it all and can't wait to do it again. Even with the little snags and snafus. More of my travelogue to come

Friday, May 08, 2015

Road Trip in the Cotswold Villages

I just spent two glorious weeks in my favorite place-England. Here we are a few days into  our trip. Sherry, Gerry, and I have traveled together often since my first trip to England in 2000. I went again in 2003, 2005, 2012, and now.  I never get tired of it, and in my ideal life, I would travel every year.
My other trips have been group tours, organized by Sherry. The first time I went there were over 20 women, but the average since then has been about ten. This time it was just the three of us. We rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for the first week. Our address was One the Square in Upper Slaughter.

                                                                           

 We rented a car and I was the driver except for the times we were leaving or going to Heathrow, and our drive to Norfolk for our second week. We hired Denis, our driver from our previous tours, and he was worth every tuppence, shilling, farthing, or pound that we paid him. This was my first time driving in England, and it was an adventure. I really think I did pretty well, but I'm not sure what my passengers would say. The Cotswolds is full of picturesque hills, and winding one lane roads where most of the speed limits are 60 miles per hour! And of course the steering wheel and lanes are opposite of what we are used to. I did finally begin to like the round-a-bouts. In some parts of  our trip they seemed to be about every mile. They were just like childbirth labor contractions. I would just get through one, catch my breath, and another one would begin. They are time-savers, though, eliminating a lot of traffic lights.
There were several cottages on the square. Here is a view out of my bedroom window, and the cottage across the way. Ours was very comfortable after we understood the heating system. The first two days we nearly froze, and made trips to the charity shops to buy warmer clothing. The weather wasn't the best, and we did wear our coats a lot.                                                    But there really wasn't too much rain. We had a fire in the large                                                              fireplace a couple of times.



Our little town was residential. We had a church right behind us and their was a very nice hotel that once was the vicarage. Very expensive. We visited one morning for coffee. We also walked over to the allotment gardens and met the neighbors. There were a lot of hikers and walkers in the area. And there were many towns nearby. We ate at the local pubs and hotels, and some nights we ate in. We visited the little grocery stores several times and dined on soups, and bread, and salmon, and victoria sponge for pudding. And during the day there was always shopping,  lunch, and tea.
One of our highlights was our "Secret Garden Tour" Not too many pictures, because she likes to keep it secret! Five of us went on a guided tour. We went to the owner's thatched cottage for a tour and coffee, then drove to several villages and out of the way places, back to the cottage for lunch, more beautiful towns, villages, walks, and gardens, and then tea at the cottage. We even went to a few places that Sherry had never been to before. That is really hard to find, because she has been to England more times than she can even count! The Cotswolds was a great mix of history, historic homes, shopping, and books. I didn't want to leave, but there was still another week of our trip to enjoy.                                                                                                

Reading Through England

 If you know anything about me at all, then you know that I have an obsession with the printed word. I have always  loved books, even if just to look at them. I just got back from a wonderful trip to The Cotwolds and Norfolk, England. All of these ended up in my very heavy suitcase on the way home.

 One of my favorite things about England is that they decorate with books. This was in a hotel window. Have to get one! Nearly everywhere I went, there were books. Most pubs and restaurants and hotels and even shops have old books even when they aren't for sale.
 And this is wallpaper in an attic tearoom. What's not to love?
 This is the best garden shop ever in Burford.  An archway of books leading to the children's room.
 More of the garden shop. There are many more cupboards and shelves filling this room with vintage books. It also has several tables, in case you want to have breakfast, lunch, or just a cup of tea.
 One of my favorite concepts-hats and books at The Mad Hatter bookshop. (I was a milliner one day a week in my past life at Living History Farms, you know)
 Another way to decorate with books. It seems that everywhere I went there were things on books.
Every National Trust home has a bookstore with used books for sale. These can range from a few shelves in the corner to this library sized building in one of my favorite places, Blickley Hall.
 This was my favorite old book store. It's called The Brazen Head Bookshop in Burnham Market in Norfolk. Feeling pretty brazen myself, I would have married the elderly man who was proprietor just to stay there. I know, there is a name for women like me. There were rooms and rooms of books, upstairs and down. My friends probably could have left me there, but there are some advantages to being the driver!




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Luck of the Irish



                                       Oh, and the fact that most of them are just so darn cute!

                                 
                                     Aidan, Tess, Finn, and Cass about to enjoy green eggs and ham

Monday, February 16, 2015

Announcing a Winner of Wishes

Hello everyone,
I have picked a winner for my Grow Your Blog bottle of Wishes. She is Dixie of  Arranged Words. I have emailed her and as soon as I have her address, I will be sending her a package.
I would like to thank Vicki for sponsoring this blog hop. I have 21 new people following my blog, and several more left really nice messages. Unfortunately, those messages have disappeared because of the trouble I have had with Google+. Still working on that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Be Mine, Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day. Here is a sweet little heart that can be made in a quick minute. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

GROW YOUR BLOG


http://vicki-2bagsfull.blogspot.com/

Hello friends, It's time for Vicki's Blog Party! This is the 3rd year that she has put together this event. It's a wonderful time to find and read other blogs and I am happy to be a part of it. The main premise is to get more followers. I would be so pleased if you are here and choose to follow. (The little gadget is right here on the sidebar) This event came at a great time for me because I have been working on changing and adjusting things in my own little gypsy corner. I didn't get finished, but I did make some improvements. Hopefully, all is now easier to read and to navigate. I've had my blog for several years but have never spent the time to make it what I want it to be. And what is that, one might ask. I'd like it to be a happy place; filled with crafty ideas, ways to live a joyful life and to decorate each day with fun. Obviously, I get sidetracked sometimes!
I am having a give-a-way, so please leave a comment and I will draw a name on February 15 and the winner will receive a bottle of Wishes
Wishes are messages of inspiration and whimsy, rolled into tiny scrolls and packaged in a magical bottle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Time to Renew and Redo

I am beginning to work on my much neglected blog. So far I haven't done much, but changed the background. I really liked my old background but I know that it was hard to read. I am taking an online workshop with Raine of  Lime Tree Fruits. She designs the most wonderful planner pages. Take a look. This is the time of year when I always want to get organized. I haven't done much with my blog for a long time. I have changed directions in my life so many times since I started my little crafting blog in 2006. It has taken me this long to get 200 posts, so I am obviously not a very active blogger. I have also reopened my Etsy shop and will be adding new items shortly.
Even though I am officially "retired" from my office job, I am still working the same number of hours or more each week, but could use another income source. (Couldn't we all?) I am hoping to be successful at the things I used to love to do.
And, yes, since it is January, it is time again for Word of the Year. I have done this for a while. Last year's word was Discover. Before that was Mindfulness. And in my darkest time, my word was Acceptance. This year I am going with HomeKeeper. Even though I moved a year and a half ago, it has been difficult to feel that this is my house. I like it well enough, but it just hasn't felt like mine, so this is the year I want to concentrate on making it truly my home.
I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is It Here Yet?

Well, what do you know! It's almost Christmas again. I started out on time, really I did. Finn, Tess, Cass and I had our tree trimming party early in December.They came over after school and it was really quite festive. We had hot chocolate with whipped cream and peppermint, frosted cookies, and of course, Christmas crackers complete with toys,riddles, and paper crowns. They each decorated their own little tree, which did a pretty good job of filling up my tiny front room.
 Tess is seven, and when her tree was done, it was mostly pink and purple, a very girly tree. Tess has decided she wants to move to Paris and be a fashion designer. Hmm, I've never been to Paris.....


 Cass is four now, and this is the first year he decorated his tree from start to finish.  We added colored lights and he was very happy with it. Finn is nine and will be as tall as his tree soon.
I put up my tree with the paper ornaments again, with a few added new ones. Maybe next year I will be able to go back to all the old decorations. Maybe not. I thought about skipping decorating completely this year, but I decided to at least do a little. Now it is one day until Christmas and I am finally thinking of decking the halls. I am really starting to miss the greenery and garlands. There's a chance I may hang the stockings. Who knows! Wishing you all a happy holiday. Ours is in three sections this year. We've had the first one, and tomorrow I will go to to Kansas City, and finally, next Saturday, there's a chance that we may all be together. It is what it is.

Vintage Whimsy

Yes, we really did have a space at the Holiday Boutique. Everything looks all a jumble here, but it was quite nice. We arranged the Christmas garlands on an old screen door. The ornaments were on the wire dress form. We used book pages as a background for the jewelry and to hold our business cards. Meghan makes beautiful rosaries using a selection of vintage beads, and collaged ornaments. I, of course, had paper trees and Wishes. It was a lot of fun being with Meg.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Places To Go and Things To Do

It's time for the fabulous Beaverdale Holiday Boutique. Back in the day, my friends and I used to have a table here. Many many years ago...... But now I am back. My daughter, Meghan and I are setting up here this weekend.   My first craft show in a long time, but we are really looking forward to it. Stop and say hello. I will have pictures.
 I've been away from my blog for awhile. I bet you thought that I was really retired since I got that cake and everything. I have been busy. I have another job that I really like, and even was lucky enough to take a vacation (Again) and saw the ocean-- this time from Amelia Island . The Hamptons in the Spring and Florida in the fall. Living the good life.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Party Time

Today was my last day at the pediatricians office where I have been a receptionist for the last four years. It was a bittersweet day, but I have been ready to move on for a while. I wanted to wait until the timing was right.(Insurance!) and I was vested in the company.  I have been through a lot since I started working there in June of 2010 and I have made many good friends who have been very supportive when I needed it. I learned that I had breast cancer right after my interview and started at the office and began my radiation treatments the same week. The day after I finished treatment was the day that our son Rich died in his sleep. A few months after that, I lost Jim. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? And it was. But during that time and for a long time after, I lived in a perpetual fog. Going to work everyday was something I knew I had to do. I'm sure I wasn't the best employee they ever had, but so many people offered me support and encouragement over the next few years. Today, they gave me a wonderful party. And, lucky for me, I didn't have to follow the dress code today, because I was gifted with this lovely vest.  The handmade card (Thanks, Torry) and note were included.

        Dear Sweet Sandi,
A vest because you're fully vested
A peace sign to keep you always at peace with yourself
A starfish so you remember to take vacations
Peacock feathers so you remember how beautiful you are inside and out
Lights and colors so that you remember to party
Owls to keep you owly and wise
A telephone so you always keep in touch
                 Butterflies so that you fly away but hopefully fly back every now and again                 
We all enjoyed it and it has some wonderful charms and decorations that may turn into something else. And it even lights up!! I am going to miss seeing this group every day.  But now, I am on to new adventures.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Home From the Hamptons


And we finally arrived. The ocean was magnificent. And cold. We dipped our feet in, but that was about it. We spent some time sitting on the beach and collecting seashells. And we shopped. And ate. And visited. And laughed. It was a wonderful trip. And ended all too soon.
 
Here we are, Gerry, me, Mary, and Sherry. Yes, I know, my friends with the rhyming names. Gerry and I have known each other since our early teens, and actually found out that we are third cousins! Sherry organized our very first trip to England in 2000, and we met Mary on one of the later trips. These are my traveling companions and we also have had the most wonderful adventures. Sherry moved to the Hamptons last year and hosted our visit. She always knows the best things to do and places to see, no matter where we are! She knows where all the celebrities live and we drove by a lot of their houses,even though we mostly saw gates and hedges. There is a lot of privacy here. It's where the beautiful people come to get away, I guess.

Can you guess who this gate belongs to? Notice the monogram. So many people have homes in this area-Paul McCartney, The Barefoot Contessa, Jimmy Fallon, Billy Joel, Gweneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, and Jerry Seinfeld, just to name drop a few. The funny thing is, no matter where you go, everybody there looks at you to see if you are "somebody".
The shops are all big names. No chain stores allowed. And everything is so expensive. Just to think that some one  will actually buy $300 cashmere sweaters for their baby boggles my frugal mind. Our favorite places were the resale shops. We are so easy to please. The best was "The Ladies Village Improvement Society". This was started in 1895 and is housed in a home built in 1740. Loved it.
And the garden shops are all magnificent. I think several rent out areas for parties and weddings because they are just beautifully landscaped. I really liked The Bayberry in Amagansett.
We had movie night and immersed ourselves in the GrayGardens story. For those who may not remember, Big Edie and Little Edie were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy. They lived in an old East Hamptons mansion that became increasingly rundown and pest-infected over the years. After it was condemned, the family tried to clean it up. Two documentaries were made in the 1970's and later a movie with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. The story is riveting and there is quite a cult of information available. Of course, we drove by the restored house.
My alltime favorite celebrity moment was meeting Amy Zerner and Monty Farber. They have a shop in the village and I just happened to find it. Any one who knows anything about the tarot will recognize their names. They have written lots of things and she is a textile designer. I really want one of her very,very expensive jackets. Their designs are based on her original fabric collages. They were so nice and we are now facebook friends.
(I took two of these simple sweater and dress combinations with me on the trip. I thought they would work well, but now I am just thinking.......Frumpy!!!. I think I will have to be my own next project. I see a makeover in my future, even without consulting the cards!)
The Hamptons were perfect. But as all good things do, this had to end. And just as we began our vacation with weather delays,  we ended it in the Chicago airport. It took us 26 hours to get home from New York, with several cancellations,flight postponements, and a night spent on very uncomfortable cots in the airport. Have I mentioned that Mercury was retrograde?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Traveling---Trips and Tips



All aboard for our train ride to the Hamptons. By Sunday we were feeling pretty sure of ourselves. We said goodbye to our apartment, and the doorman quickly got a taxi for us. Inside the train station, we purchased our tickets from a machine. The train is very reasonably priced. Every one stood watching a big sign, waiting for the track number to be posted. As soon as it lit up, people moved in a giant wave. New Yorkers don't waste time. We settled in with good seats near the door. After a few minutes, we found out we had to move to another train. Something was wrong with the one we on. After about 15 minutes, we had to transfer to our final train. Here is my first and biggest tip about riding the train: You do NOT want to have a lot  of luggage. A small overnite bag or backpack is perfect. I hope you are getting a mental picture of our heavy, heavy suitcases. It is crucial to this part of our journey. The train ride was over two hours and was very nice. One of us slept. The other one plotted the stops. After asking which of the Hamptons was the one before our stop, I felt pretty prepared.  When Bridgehampton was called, I knew we were next.  Our suitcases were handy and we were ready to move. As soon as he called East Hampton, we were on the go, dragging our suitcases up the four steps to the nearest door. We were the only people getting off. I reached the door, and it closed. As I was screaming "Noooooooooooo" and pounding on the door, my friend leaned against her suitcase and fell over it (That's the trip part). As she landed on the floor, a very nice lady helped her up. I was still pounding on the door. The ticket taker came by and said he didn't see anyone, so he had given the signal to go on. The train was behind schedule because of the extra transfer at the station, so I guess they thought they could make up some time. I don't know how he could have missed seeing us, even without the Statue of Liberty crowns. Once again, I had nixed the idea, in case our friend meeting us at the station decided to pretend not to know us.
All ended well. I called her, and she was able to meet us at the next station, which was only a few minutes away. We stood by the door the entire time. After being told for two days not to stand up on the planes, and not to stand up on the buses, we learned that it is vitally important to stand, and be ready to run, when one is on a train.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Travel Guide. Part One

I just spent eight days in New York City and the Hamptons. What a trip that was! This was a reunion visit with three other friends that were my fellow travelers to England. We are all about the shopping, and the quaint little villages, and the resale shops, so visiting is always a good time with lots of laughter. It was just what I needed.
Gerry and I didn't get to "our" apartment until late (almost midnight) Friday night. Charming, charming building, complete with doorman. I guess when you are traveling on Friday the thirteenth, you have to expect a few difficulties. We thought we would arrive late in the Iafternoon, but the flight and the weather didn't co-operate. Luckily, it's very easy to find a late dinner in the neighborhood, and we also found a yarn shop practically next door.  It was our first stop on Saturday morning. I bought a skein of the most expensive yarn
I have ever seen, I will either make something small but beautiful, or I will wind it into a ball and be happy. Next came brunch, outside, complete with people watching. I bought an antique book from a street vendor. "Around and About Old England"  My favorite place, and a lighthouse on the cover, so I couldn't leave it, even though I promised myself not to buy too many books on this trip. They are so heavy, but I am so weak.



We only had one full day in the city, but with the hop on hop off bus tours we were able to see quite a bit. Most of it was from the bus, since we got a late start. But we took three tours. Actually, we took one of them twice. First, we did the uptown tour. That one was the best. Our guide and bus driver were very informative and entertaining. We saw Central Park, brownstownes, and mansions, churches, and China town, Harlem, and Sean Connery's home.  Jacqueline Kennedy's apartment building, and also Maya Angelou's. The Trump Tower, Grant's Tomb, the Museum Mile, Times Square, and much, much more. At the end, we gave them a big tip. Then we wanted to do the Downtown Tour. The guide said "Yes,yes, this is the downtown tour. Hurry and get on." So we did. Before you knew it, we were seeing Chinatown, and Harlem, Times Square, Grant's Tomb etc. Well, you get the idea. People in NYC are always in a hurry. They talk very fast, and will always say yes to any question you ask. This tour guide had a broken microphone, so we didn't hear a lot of what he had to say. But by this time, I was about ready to give the tour myself. (Remember, I had years and years of training at a Living History Museum, I know about tours.) At the end, we felt sorry for him, and gave him a medium sized tip. By then it was almost time for the Evening bus, so we got on that one too. It was starting to get cold, but we stayed upstairs for most of it, wearing our yellow plastic bag ponchos. Gerry wanted us to wear the Statue of Liberty crowns that she had purchased earlier in the day, but it was a little windy. Of course, the city, by night, is fantastic. We went over the bridge  and spent a lot of time freezing in Brooklyn. The Empire State Building was lit with red, white, and blue for Flag Day. We saw Chinatown again. This tour was supposed to include the Statue of Liberty and the site of the Twin Towers, but I don't think that happened. The guide was a comedian (not so much) and we heard too many stories of his fiances and girlfriends. By this time we were very very cold and hungry. This time, a small tip. We were finally catching on that we were about the only ones putting money in the bags they held out as we got off the bus. Hey, we're from Iowa, and we are always polite. After a trip to Starbucks, we hailed a taxi, and went back "home" feeling like New York natives.                                                                                

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maybes and Mishaps


I've been feeling just a little melancholy lately.Maybe it's the weather. Spring just doesn't want to happen this year. Maybe it's the holidays. And maybe it's just that I feel that some changes are on the horizon. It is really hard not to miss all the people and objects that I no longer have. I use up such a large portion of my energy and my brain just trying not to think about the way life used to be. Of course, at night, there are no shields, so I often wake from disturbing dreams. Who knows? Nearly every night, I dream about death and houses. Maybe I am just tired from all that dreaming.
Lately, I have spent lots and lots of time trying not to think about my old house. Even though I am very well suited to my current place, it doesn't feel like it is really mine. Maybe it's because renting doesn't feel like a permanent committment.  I'm not sure. I do know that I really wish I had more shelves and cupboards and drawers!
We have had a lot of stormy weather lately, with sirens and newscasts and everyone I know facebooking from their basements. That could be it. I am missing my basement and my lovely, organized crafting room. That is the one room here in my new place that I can not get to come together. Without all my shelves, and cupboards, and drawers, I can never seem to find anything. Maybe I am just creatively stifled.
Today I met the sweet young family who bought our little cottage. And it makes me so very,very glad (in my melancholy way). I have heard such good reports about them and I can tell that they truly love the house.Maybe that shouldn't even matter but it does. I believe that old houses have a sort of soul and absorb the feelings of the people who live there.Maybe that's the difference. A rental is often just a temporary home. So many tenants only stay a year. I plan to live here for quite a while, but I've seen lots of people move in and out of the neighborhood since I've been here. My downstairs neighbor moved out yesterday, and even though I hardly ever saw him, the house feels different. Maybe after I have been here a little longer, and feel more organized, this place will have more soul. Maybe.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Musings


This is a journal I made years ago using a photo of my mother when she was a teenager. I love this picture. It is so full of hopes and dreams.
I am the oldest of five children and my youngest sister (Shawna) was only four when I became a mother. So I have been surrounded by children most of my life. I remember lots of times when I longed for a little piece of quiet, but I can honestly say that I have loved every moment of being a mother.
I don't have a lot of family keepsakes, but I do have this note written by my grandmother after my mother's birth:                            
                                                                 Our hopes for our
      Baby's future are Health,
        Contentedness, Happiness
     And a kind loving heart.
     And: Honor Thy Father
      & Thy Mother.
      May Joys ever be yours.
I remember my grandmother as a stern woman who didn't often show her softer side. I was afraid of her when I was growing up, but got to know her better after I had babies of my own. She liked to sew and made quilts while nursing her babies, liked to write, had a very strong faith, and was superstitious about the things that bring bad luck---black horses, red dresses, and singing at the table.