Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Christmas Cards

Hello!  Today I have my April Christmas Cards to show you.  As most of you already know, I play the Splitcoaststampers Christmas Card Challenge where we make Christmas Cards all year long so that were not stressed out during the busy Holiday Season.  I make five cards a month so that I will have over fifty at the end of the year.  I make a long style card (4 1/4 by 8 1/4) so that I can fit a photo card inside along with a Christmas letter.  To keep it easy on myself, I pick one layout and make five cards using that same layout.

This month I used the same layout and main image on all five of my cards, but I didn't have enough of the same designer paper to use on all my cards, so I switched that up a bit.

Here is my first card:  The snowflake is a Sizzix die which I covered in glittered.  All the sentiments were cut from a single sheet of designer paper.  All the designer paper is from DCWV (very old).  I used ribbon and old embellies from my stash to finish off the cards.  An MFT die was used to cut the banner beneath the sentiment.

 The little red and green embellies in the center of the snowflakes were found in the dollar bins of JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts a year or two ago.  They always have such fun and inexpensive things in their bins….it pays to dig!

 When I ran out of my glittery snowflake paper, I switched to this brown and white polka dotted one.  I used red and white ribbon behind my sentiment, and added a felt heart button, brown twine, and red and green ribbon for embellishment.  The little white dots you see on all the cards are adhesive dome crystals.

 And here is a group shot!
Have a great day!  Amy

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Vacation Day One, Part Two - Missouri Botanical Gardens

Hello!  Welcome to my second post of our first day of our spring vacation.   The morning of our first day was spent visiting The Gateway Arch;  from there we drove just a few miles to visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens.    As most of my readers already know, I love to garden and I have a very large perennial garden of my own;  so every time we travel, I always like to visit the local botanical gardens of the city we are visiting.  Well, during this road trip we went to four major cities, and we only had time to visit one garden, so I chose the Missouri Botanical Gardens because they are the oldest botanical gardens in the United States.

First of all, I can't even begin to tell you what sheer joy it was to feel warm air, and see flowers, trees and grass again.  When we left Wisconsin it was in the forties and there were still patches of snow on the ground.  After driving only about eight hours south, we started to see grass and feel warm air.  Oh, it was wonderful!  I was so happy that I will get to experience my favorite season twice this year;  once on this vacation, and when it ever makes it way to Wisconsin (still waiting for that!).  

Here is a lovely picture of some gorgeous pink hyacinths, daffodils, and blue grape hyacinths.  Needless to say I got down on my knees to smell these beauties!

 There was a beautiful green house on the property, and when we opened the doors I was immediately engulfed in the intoxicating and wonderful scent of this beautiful jasmine shrub hanging above a water feature:
 Here's an interior shot of this building.  I love the stained glass in the windows and the old door and brick pathway.

Outside of this building is a lovely patio of raised garden beds and tile paths.  There is also another pretty water feature in the middle.

 There were many interesting colorful blown glass artwork throughout the property, such as the yellow ones attached to the arches below.  They really helped bring in a nice pop of color when there is still is a lot of green because not much is in bloom this early in the season.
 Many of their trees were starting to bloom and were absolutely stunning.  I saw many varieties we can't grow up north;  so that was quite a treat for me!
 A beautiful bed of orange tulips.

This was one of my favorite trees.  I love it's massive pink and white blooms and how they cover the ground with petals as they fall.  It's so romantic.  Did you know that in China this is called The Princess Tree?   Traditionally, this tree is planted every time a baby girl is born, and when she is married the tree is cut down and items are made of it's bark for the bride's dowry.  What a beautiful tradition!

 An interesting fact about the Missouri Botanical Gardens was that it started off as wealthy estate, so there are many beautiful old homes and buildings on the grounds like these:

 A fun activity that children enjoy is the maze.  There is even a tower people can climb up to get this view of the maze and help guide the lost explorer to find his way out.
 There is one large dome on the property that houses  tropical and Mediterranean gardens.
 The gardens were filled with every type of spring flowering bulb you could imagine.

 There is a very large Japanese Garden on the property, but unfortunately it was closed the day we visited.  I did manage to stand on a bench and get this picture over the fence:
 Here are some close ups of all the colorful bulbs, spring pansies, and blooming trees and bushes we saw:

 This is a picture of me inside the dome of the Botanical Gardens.    There were many water features inside the dome, like the waterfall cascading behind me:
 I loved this mosaic tile of this water feature:   The violet blue annuals go beautifully with the tile.
 This gorgeous rose was growing next to the water feature.
 A beautiful forsythia bush.
 A lovely balcony overlooking this gorgeous Mediterranean garden inside the dome.
 As we were leaving the gardens,  this beautiful white magnolia tree caught my eye:  absolutely gorgeous!

I hope you are experiencing the joys of spring wherever you live,  but if your still waiting for spring to come like I am,  I hope these pictures have given you some hope that it will be soon!

Have a great day!   Amy

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fashion Over Fifty: Mixing Denims with Florals

Hello!  For this week's Fashion Over Fifty post I have a spring outfit to show you thanks to the beautiful state of Tennessee!  These pictures were taken on the gorgeous estate of one of our former presidents:  Andrew Jackson.  Tennessee's flowering trees are all in bloom, as well as their spring bulbs:  what a great backdrop for taking fashion photos!

I love a feminine look, but  I'm way too old to look 'girly', so I like to break it up by mixing in a little edge with my 'girly' clothing items.  One way to do this is by mixing in rougher fabrics like denim with softer florals and pastel colors.  In the outfit below, I have a pastel floral shirt and a pink flowing gauze scarf with a more rugged denim jacket and pinstripe skinny jeans.  The trendy shoes with multiple straps really ties the whole outfit together. 
 I bought my shoes at PayLess on a day they were having a huge 'Comfort Shoe Sale'.  I haven't purchased a pair of shoes at PayLess for years, I normally buy all my shoes at Famous Footwear or a major department store like Macy's or Younkers.  But that day, I bought four pairs of shoes because I found so many cute shoes,  and they were all less than $20.00 a pair!  I love these shoes because the straps are made of elastic, so they stretch to fit your foot making them very comfortable to wear.  And I always love any shoe with a wedge heel, because it gives me that lift that I like, but I can still walk in them.

 My jacket was purchased last year from Express.  I was so happy to see that denim jackets were still trending this year:  especially since I bought mine late in the season last year and didn't get much use out of it.  I picked up this pink gauze infinity scarf on my trip.  I love to wear scarves in the spring.  They are perfect for chilly mornings and evenings;  providing just that extra bit warmth I need.
 My only jewelry was a double strand cobalt blue watch and a white seed bead bracelet.
 I found this cute silver metallic cross body bag for only $10.00 at New York and Co.  I always use cross body bags on my travels for security reasons, and because of the neutral color, this bag went with every single one of my vacation outfits.

When the temperatures rose in the afternoon, I removed my denim jacket.  My pullover floral shirt is from The Gap.  I had actually saw a dress with this pattern on it on-line and went into the store to buy it.  But when I tried it on,  I felt it looked horrible on me because it was so big and baggy it looked like I was wearing a bed sheet.  I tried on a size small, but I just felt it did not flatter my figure at all.  I then lamented to the salesperson that it was such a shame, because I really loved the pattern, and he suggested I try the shirt on in a size extra small.  So I did, and it worked!  I didn't get the dress then, but I got the pattern I loved on a shirt instead!

My pinstripe jeans are from a.n.a and you probably remember me wearing them in THIS post.  See, I do wear my clothes more than once!
 Here is a close up so you can see the pretty, soft floral pattern on the cotton shirt a little better.
Have a great and fashionable day!  Amy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Birthday Girl

Hello!  Today I have a little girl's birthday card to share with you today.  It was very simple and easy to make since I used a K & Co dimensional sticker for the main focal point.  I simply put a piece of designer paper onto a pink card base and then cut a white backdrop using a Spellbinder's Nestabilitie.  I inked the edges of the white panel to make it pop more.  I then cut a narrow strip of card stock to run down the middle of the card and covered it with pink organza ribbon and a bow.  The beautiful sparkly heart embellies ,which every little girl loves, was already on the sticker.
 I've never met a little girl who does not like pink and lots of sparkle!
Have a great day! Amy

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Vacation Day One, Part One - The Gateway Arch

Hello!  So sorry I haven't posted or commented on your blogs much lately, but I just returned from a much needed romantic eight day road trip with my husband.  We visited four cities:  St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville, and of course I will spend weeks sharing pictures and stories of all our adventures!  

On our first day of vacation, we drove from north central Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri.  It was quite chilly when we left, and there was still snow on the ground.  About eight and half hours later, we arrived to temperatures in the seventies and saw lush green grass, and flowering trees and bulbs.  Needless to say, I was in heaven!  When we got out of our car, I just lifted my arms to the heavens and soaked in the warm air and sunshine.  How good it felt to feel warm again after such a long, hard, cold winter.

Our main goal of this vacation was to spend more time in Tennessee.  We seemed to constantly drive through this beautiful state to get somewhere else, and we always thought it would be nice to actually spend some time there.  When I started researching all the places to visit in Tennessee I realized we could never see everything in one week, so we decided to visit the western side first, and then the eastern side on a second visit.  Well the first place I wanted to see was Memphis, but to get to Memphis we had to drive through St. Louis, Missouri; and since that was more than half way there, we decided to spend the night there, and visit a few attractions while we were there also.

  I had driven past the St. Louis Arches many times in my life, but didn't know anything about them.  So when my husband asked what I'd like to do in St. Louis,  I replied that I'd like to learn more about the arches.  So off we went!
It was a bit overcast when we arrived, but the sun broke through later in our visit and my husband got this beautiful picture:
 I loved the architecture of these arches.  They are quite magnificent to see standing beneath them instead of just the view from a car window on the expressway.  One really gets the scale in perspective.  Did you know the arches are taller than the Statue of Liberty?  I certainly did not.  Way up at the very top of the arches are some small windows.  Can you see them in the picture below?  There is a tram that you can take up to the top to get some wonderful views of the city below.
 This is the doorway to our tram.  When the door opens, there is a tiny little pod that looks like something from outer space inside.  It seats five SMALL people.  We had three average/small adults in our pod, and two children and we were touching knees inside. The ride costs about $10.00 for an adult and last four minutes.  Once your on top, you may stay as long as you like.  I wasn't allowed to take pictures once inside the pod, so if you want to see pictures of what the inside looked like, there a nice picture HERE.
 To get to the tram you have to go underneath the arches.  Underground is a museum where you learn all about the history of the arches and Lewis and Clark's adventures, two gift shops, and an IMAX theatre.
 The observation room at the top of the arches measures about six feet high and seven feet wide.  It is quite narrow and on a windy day the Arch will gently sway from side to side.  I didn't feel any swaying while I was up there, and even though I'm afraid of heights, I felt no fear and felt very safe and comfortable.  Here is the view of the Mississippi river from the top of the Arch:
 The windows are very tiny and you have to lay down on your stomach to look through the windows.
 This is the city's old courthouse which is now a museum.  Although we briefly walked through this building, we didn't  explore it much because we didn't have enough time.  We hope to go back there someday and see everything we missed.
 There was a Cubs/Cardinals game that afternoon and the city was flooded with excited fans.  Although I am not a sports fan, I thought their stadium was very pretty.
 We really were impressed with St. Louis, and thought it was a very nice, clean city and now we want to go back there and explore it further.  Since it's only eight hours away,  were hoping we  could back for a four day weekend and spend more time at the old courthouse and perhaps visit the World Fair Grounds.

 The old courthouse faces the river and the Gateway Arch.  This is me standing in-between them both.  Look at that GRASS!  Oh, the joy of no more snow and ice!
 The pillars on the courthouse frame the arches beautifully provided the perfect background for a photo!
 Inside the courthouse are some beautiful old spiral staircases like this one:
 The interior of the courthouse dome.  Oh, how I wish we had more time to walk around this beautiful work of art!
 In front of the courthouse is a town square with a lovely fountain.  The water is dyed red for the St. Louis Cardinals.
 The view from the town square:
 Normally when we travel, I like to cut costs by staying in inexpensive hotels because we are only there to sleep and shower, and are usually up at the crack of dawn to explore the area.  So I was so pleasantly surprised by this amazing Hyatt hotel in Chesterfield.  I paid only $14.95 to stay here, thanks to which gives you one free night for every ten hotels booked, and it was probably one of the best hotels I ever stayed in.  We loved this walk in shower and really enjoyed using it on our romantic getaway!
 The decor of the room was very modern and chic, which is becoming more and more of my style as I grow older.  I use to love anything vintage or antique, but I find as I age my tastes are becoming more modern;  which I hear is very normal, but I live in a house built in the late 1800's, so it's kinda creating a problem for me right now.  How do I balance my new love for anything modern when I live in a house over a hundred years old?
 Such interesting lighting:
 I loved this sectional and would love to have it in my own house.  The screen separating the sleeping area from the living area was so neat too!
 To see flowers and colors again was pure bliss!  I think I inhaled the scent of every flower I passed!

 And of course I had to take my shoes off and walk barefoot through the grass.  Oh, to feel the warm earth and soft ground beneath my toes again!  Life!  I love it!
 There was a beautiful large shopping mall within walking distance of our hotel, so we popped in for a bit.  I thought it so strange, yet lovely, that there was this beautiful Merry-Go-Round inside the mall.  I had never seen that before.  I live fairly close to the Mall of America where there is a full amusement park inside, but I'd never seen carnival rides inside malls before.  However, on our road trip we went to three malls total, and every one had a Merry-Go-Round inside.  It must be the norm in that part of the United States!
Well that concludes today's post of the Gateway Arch.  On my next travel post, I'll share pictures and stories of our visit to the St. Louis Botanical Gardens.  Till then…….

Have a great day!  Amy