Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Our Fall Vacation To South Dakota, Day 4, Part III: Custer State Park, Needles Highway & Iron Mountain Road

This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota.  To start at the beginning, go HERE.  The rest of the posts in chronological order are  HEREHEREHERE HERE,  HERE,  HERE,  HERE and HERE!

After spending the morning at Mt. Rushmore, we headed over to Custer State Park.  Let me say before I begin this post, that I thought Custer State Park was the best and most beautiful state park I had ever seen.  We had two and a half days to spend in this magnificent park and we crammed a lot into those two days.  I will be dividing the two days into five separate blog posts so I can cover everything in great detail.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Custer State Park was to drive.  Even though there are lots of hiking trails, and we did hike a lot in our two days there, you can see some of the most amazing views right from your car.  The two best scenic drives to take are Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road.

Needles Highway is a National Scenic Byway completed in 1922.  It is 14 miles long and has views of Mt. Rushmore (often seen through tunnels), and magnificent views of the "Needles" or granite spires of Custer State Park.  

After visiting the Mt. Rushmore Memorial it was amazing seeing all the different views of the monument in Custer State Park.  It really gives you perspective on the sheer size of the sculpture.  Can you see the presidents faces in the pictures below?

This is a picture of some of the spires that made Needles Highway famous.

There are many spots and parking lots where you can stop and get out of your car and enjoy the views.  Some of the spots are really crowded (like the Cathedral Spires) and it's hard to find a parking space.

I highly recommend that you take the scenic drives through the park when you first arrive (or stop at the Visitor's Center).  Driving through the park gave us ideas of the parts of the park we really wanted to hike.  Seeing the Cathedral Spires for example really made us wanted to see them up close and not just from a great distance.

Iron Mountain Road is another scenic drive not to be missed.  This road was constructed in 1933 and runs between Mt. Rushmore Memorial and the US16A and SD36 in Custer State Park.  The Black Hills Scenery is simply magnificent on this road, but perhaps the most impressive of all is how the tunnels "frame" Mt. Rushmore.  It was so cool driving through a tunnel and seeing a perfect view of the monument.  I was so impressed!  Unfortunately I never got a picture of Mt. Rushmore "framed" in a tunnel as I was too busy "Oohing" and "Ahhing"  but you can check it out on this website.

There are three tunnels on Needles Highway and more on the Iron Mountain Road.  Some tunnels only allow one car at a time to go through.  I have no idea what they do on a crowded summer day when cars want to go through the tunnel from both directions.  We were there during the off season and it was difficult at times waiting for an opportunity to go through a tunnel.

I loved all the unique rock formations found on both scenic roads.

And finally, here is a picture of a one lane tunnel.  Cars coming from the other direction have to wait their turn.  The space is very tight.  The pick up truck in front of us could barely fit through.  If you stuck your hand out the window you could touch the rock.  It was such a cool experience.

Before I close I should mention that there are two other scenic drives in Custer State Park.  The most famous one:  Wildlife Loop Road I will cover in a later post.  The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway is also a lovely drive.  The Peter Norbeck Byway is two to three hours long if you drive the entire road. It consists of a loop made up of four highways (Needles, SD89, SD244, and Iron Mountain Road).

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

More Bible Journaling Pages

Last month, I shared that I started Bible Journaling.  If you missed that post, or would like to know more about Bible Journaling, you can see it HERE.  This month, I want to share a few more pages of my Bible Journal pages.

I'm still learning and making mistakes (glad I only spent $20.00 for my first bible journal) hopefully when I'm done with this bible, I'll know what I am doing and what art mediums work best for me, and I won't make quite so many mistakes.

Here are a few images I simply had to color in.  The first one I used gelatos for the background and gel pens to color it in.  When the design is very intricate like this, I feel gel pens work best.  It's hard to get the detail with colored pencils or markers.

On this second page, I also used gelatos for the background and gel pens for the detail.  The blue bracket was created with a stamp.  I wanted to highlight the actual paragraph in the bible where this verse came from.

And this pen was done with all gel pens.  I really like working with the glitter or metallic gel pens for objects like shields or to highlight special words like "I" or "Reward".

These are my favorite images to color in the Inspire Bible.  I love how fun and whimsical it is.  I used fun, florescent colors to complement the fun image.

I'm still learning how to do my own pages, and not just color in images already provided for me.  The following pages I created myself and I'm actually quite pleased with how they turned out.  On this page what stuck out at me was the angel instructing Lot and his wife not to look back when fleeing their sinful city.  It made me wonder how often I may have looked back at my previous life before I came to know Jesus as my personal savior.  God always wants us to press forward and not look back on our sinful past.

I also noticed the warning signs God gives in this chapter, and I wrote them on the bottom of the page in red and I added a traffic warning sign.  I hand drew the flames with colored pencils and added eyes to the "o's" in "Look" for emphasis.  The other flames you see our washi tape.  Finally, I added some arrows to the instructions and consequences of  "Looking Back" in the Bible.


My next page I absolutely love.  I was completely struck with how God keeps His promises and decided to highlight all the ways God is with us and what He does for us.  I first created a striped background using gelatos.  Then I hand drew the sentiments and hearts.  I wrote all the ways God is with us in the hearts.

I also highlighted and underlined all these examples in the actual text.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Stitch Fix Review #25: Cardigan

Hello everyone, I am back from winter break.  I had a great time with the kids all week and I'm sure I'll be sharing some of our adventures in future travel/lifestyle posts if you didn't catch snippets of our activities on Instagram or Facebook.

For today's fashion post, I'm picking up where I left off on my review of my25th box from Stitch Fix!  
I've already showed you two items from that Fix that I sent back:  a Red Floral Bell Sleeve Top and a Dolman Knit Top.  Now I will show you three items I kept!

Evolution By Cyrus
Chiana Graphic Open Drape Cardigan

Status:  Kept!

I'll be honest, when I first saw this cardigan I almost sent it back.  First, it was black and grey, which I have enough of in my closet.  But I also felt the drape was too much for me.  My husband really liked it immediately though and thought it was unique and not something I already had.  I actually fell in love with it after I put it on and saw all it's possibilities, especially for travel.  I consider it more of cardigan/coat:  perfect for that in-between weather or when you're traveling long distances and don't want to wear a winter coat in the car.  It ended up coming in handy on my trip to Illinois last week.  I wore it in the car down and back, and a few times while there.

For this photo shoot, I paired the cardigan with a grommet tank from CJBanks (old), a pair of grey skinny jeans I also received (and kept) in this Fix, and black booties.

I really like the pattern of this cardigan.  Although I have other grey and black cardigans, none of them have this lovely pattern on them.

Now I want to show you why I fell in love with the drape of this cardigan.   I initially didn't like the drape because the extra fabric can make me look heavier.  However, because this is more of a coat-cardigan (It's a nice heavy knit without being too thick or bulky) I like how in the picture below I can draw the drape up and secure it with a broach if I'm outside for longer periods of time.

Or, I can just fold the drapes over and snuggle like I'm in blanket.  So toasty warm!  Just love it!

The temps were in the 20's and 30's during my long car drives and I was quite comfortable running from my car to a building just wearing this cardigan.  I even pumped gas in it!

As winter winds down, I should get more and more use out of it as a down filled parka won't be so necessary to wear anymore.  I hope so anyway!

So what do you think?  Did I make the right choice to keep this cardigan?  On Friday I'll review the final two pieces in this Fix that I kept and also do a review of the entire box.

If you've never tried Stitch Fix before but would like to, use my Referral Code to receive $25.00 off your first box!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, February 18, 2019

On Winter Break!

I'm on winter break this week enjoying time with my children and grandchild.  I will not be posting here, but you can follow my on Facebook and Instagram to see all the fun I'm having!

See you next week!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Friday, February 15, 2019

Stitch Fix Review #25: Red Floral Bell Sleeve Top

On Monday's Fashion Post I shared a Dolman Knit Top I received in my 25th box from Stitch Fix.  The second item I'm showing from this box is this Red Floral Bell Sleeve Top.

Skies Are Blue Fairly Tie Detail Blouse

Status:  Returned

I really liked this top.  I thought it was really pretty and I don't have a lot of red in my closet.  However, I returned it because there were three other items in my Fix I liked a whole lot more plus I just received a similar top from Stitch Fix just a few months earlier (you can see that top HERE).  I also wasn't thrilled with the tie detail on the sleeves. 

I styled the top with a pair of grey jeans that was also sent in this Fix.  I kept those jeans, and will share more about them in a later Fix.

Overall it was a cute top that fit me well but my closet is already filled with enough floral items.

Next week I'll be taking a week off from blogging because I will be visiting my children in Illinois!  I can't wait to see my sweet Alethea again and kiss those adorable cheeks.  When I return the following week I'll show you the three items in this Fix that I kept plus do a review of the entire box.

If you have never tried Stitch Fix before but would love to give it a try, use my Referral Code to get $25.00 off your first box!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Our Fall Vacation To South Dakota, Day 4, Part II: Mt. Rushmore

This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota.  To start at the beginning, go HERE.  The rest of the posts in chronological order are  HEREHEREHERE HERE,  HERE,  HERE,  and HERE!

At some point in every Americans life they need to visit Mt. Rushmore.  I can't believe how much seeing this national memorial in real life moved me.  I had to choke back tears multiple times.  When driving to Mt. Rushmore, you actually see the memorial before you pay to get through the gate.  I squealed with delight upon it's sight.  I couldn't believe I was finally here, that I was finally seeing the mountain I had seen pictures of my entire life.  I couldn't wait to get through the long line of cars and just park the car.  I even got irritated at my husband cause he took too long finding the perfect parking spot. 😊  I just wanted to get out of the car, and get as close to this masterpiece as possible.

Of course, we had to stop and take pictures of ourselves in front of the sign first!

This is the entrance to the memorial.  More than two million people from all over the world visit Mt. Rushmore annually.  We were amazed at all the different languages spoken around us while we were there.  

And here is the Avenue of Flags with Mt. Rushmore seen in the distance.

Here is some information of The Avenue of Flags from Wikipedia:

"The Avenue of Flags was initially established as part of the celebration of the United States' Bicentennial in 1976 at the request of a visitor. The 56 flags represent the 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States of America.  The placement of the flags are in alphabetical order with the A’s on the walkway near the concession building and the W’s near the Visitor Center and Museum. The names of each state, district, commonwealth or territory are listed on the pillars directly below each flag."

We made sure to look for our state flag!

The heads of the four presidents  (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln) are 60 feet high.  Did you know originally the presidents were suppose to be depicted head to waist but lack of funding forced construction to end in 1941?

After the initial excitement of rushing into the memorial grounds and seeing the Avenue of Flags, when you walk closer to the memorial using the planked walkway, the ambiance changes.  My husband and I noticed how quiet it got.  He semi-joked "It's as if people know they are walking on hallowed ground".  It was here where I really had to fight back the tears.  The political turmoil of the past two or three years has really gotten to me.  I worry so much about what is to become of our country.  I worry about losing our roots, our traditions, our freedoms.  I listened to people talk in hushed tones around me and I could hear conversations of worry.  Many expressed concern that Mt. Rushmore is next on the chopping block of monuments to be destroyed because someone doesn't like the person being memorialized.  I don't think that will happen.  But then again, I never thought in my lifetime I would see some of the things I'm seeing today.  These are scary times.

Another interesting trivia fact:  Did you know Mt. Rushmore was an idea conceived by historian Doane Robinson to promote tourism in the area?  His initial idea was to sculpt Needles, which is located in Custer State Park and I will show those amazing formations in a later blog post.  However, the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, rejected that idea because he found the granite in Needles to be too poor of quality and he also faced opposition from Native American groups.

Robinson also wanted the sculpture to feature American West heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Borglum decided on the four presidents because he wanted the sculpture to have a wider appeal.   I think he made the right choice!

 The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet  above sea level.  There are multiple walking paths you can take around the park to get different views.  Unfortunately, one path was closed for maintenance when we were there. 

This is the main viewing area.  There is also a seating area below the fence.  Here is where people gather for special presentations or the night time show.

The park is open daily from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  The sculpture is illuminated every night, and there is an Evening Lighting Ceremony at dusk during the main tourist season.  There is no fee to enter the park, but there is a $10.00 parking fee which is good for one full year!  Ours s still in the glove compartment of our car in case we have the opportunity to go back!  I'd love to see it lit up at night!

Hare A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Handmade Valentine Cards

I have four handmade Valentine cards to share with you today and hopefully my finally will not be snooping on my blog and see them before I give them to them.  I made all four cards using a new stamp set from MFT.  I thought it was such a cute set and I could use the set even when it wasn't Valentine's Day because most of the sentiments in the set are only love related.  

I did case the cards from Pinterest, and I will link the cased cards to the originals.  But as always, when I case a card I make a few changes to make my card my own.

First up is this pretty in pink card.  You can see the original version HERE.

My card uses a brighter, bolder pink for the hearts and different die cuts and sentiments, but the layout is the same.  To create this card, I stamped the heart images on white card stock.  Then I cut letters out using my Cuttlebug machine and dies.  I popped the letters up on dimensionally so they would stand out from the hearts.  The sentiment was stamped in white ink on black paper.  I added pink adhesive crystals throughout the card.

My next card was cased from this one HERE.  Again, mine is more bold.  I used a pinky red card stock for the sentiment, and I stamped the hearts in brighter colors too.  I also popped two of my hearts up on dimensionals and I added two tiny hearts near the sentiment.

To make this card, after I stamped randomly on the top card base, I just fussy cut around the hearts with a pair of scissors. 

In the picture below you can see the two popped up hearts very well.

My next card I made for my granddaughter because she loves kitty.  I thought she would get a kick out of the cute kitty felt sticker.  I cased this card HERE.

To make this card I cut heart holes in both the white card stock panel and the pink heart designer paper using a heart die.  I glued both pieces over a red card base.  I put dimensionals on the white card stock to pop it out from the red card base.  I stamped a "Hey Cutie Pie" heart in pink ink and fussy cut it out then popped it inside the largest heart, up on dimensionals.

The sentiment was stamped in white ink onto black card stock and then cut out using an MFT banner die.

The kitty is just a felt sticker I picked up at a craft store.

For the inside of Alethea's card,  I stamped another heart with white ink.

My last card was cased from this card HERE.  Again, I just changed the colors and the sentiment using the supplies I have.  My chipboard love letters were from my stash.   I popped them up on dimensionals.

I also stamped my background a little different than the original card.   I started off trying to copy the original layout, but screwed up, so  added more randomly place hearts to hide my mistake.

 I used a little heart die cut to substitute for the word "heart" in the sentiment.  I love adding extra special touches like that.

Well if you haven't made your Valentine's Day Cards yet I hope this post inspired you.   I look to Pinterest all the time for ideas when I buy a new stamp set and/or need to make cards in a hurry.  You don't need to own all the exact items of the original artist, you can substitute with your own supplies.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!