Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Part One

 This is a continuation of a series of posts of my Missouri Vacation which I took the first week of September.  To start at the beginning go HERE.  The rest of the posts, in consecutive order are HERE , HEREHEREHERE,  HERE, and HERE.

On Day Five of our Missouri Vacation we went to Ha Ha Tonka State Park.  This park ended up being our absolute favorite park of the six Missouri state parks we visited.  Because it is so huge, and we took so many pictures, I am going to divide this park into two separate posts.  The first part will cover the castle ruins, the castle ruins trail and the Dells Rim Trail.

In 1903 a wealthy businessman named Robert M. Synder fell in love with the area and began purchasing land to build a private retreat.  Construction began in 1905, but a year later Synder died in an automobile accident and he failed to realize his dream.  His sons however, finished the project in 1922, although not as elaborate as originally planned.  In 1942, after the castle was turned into a hotel, a chimney fire ignited the roof and destroyed the castle.  The carriage house also burned.  All that remained intact was the water tower which vandals burned in 1976.  All that remains are ruins and the gorgeous view the inhabitants once enjoyed.

The remains of the carriage house.

It is a short walk from the parking lot to the castle ruins.  Along this walk you see the carriage house, and these gorgeous views from a lookout point.  The trail is paved so it is wheelchair and stroller accessible.  It is 0.40 miles one way.

I must say the views from the lookouts and top of the castle ruins was incredible.  I can't even imagine what the view must have been like from the top floors of the castle.

You can walk completely around the castle, but you can't go inside due to instability of the castle walls.  It is fenced off to the public and there are warning signs everywhere.

View from Castle Ruins.  How would you like to look out your window and see this every morning?

After touring the castle ruins, we headed back to the parking lot and onto the Dell Rim trail to check out the water tower.  This trail was a boardwalk with a lot of steps.  It is only 0.30 miles one way, but we used this trail to connect to other trails which I will talk about in next week's travel post.

The Dells Rim Trail was such a beautiful trail.  It runs along the top of a cliff (Don't worry, it's safe.  You have this nice boardwalk with a hand rail on either side to walk on) with views of the water below on one side and a lovely wildflower prairie on the other.

The boardwalk leads to a overlook above the 150 feet deep Whispering Dell Sinkhole.

From this trail we then connected to the Colosseum Trail...but more on that next week!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Baby Dedication Card

Two weeks ago my granddaughter Alethea was dedicated to the Lord.  If your wondering what a baby dedication is, the parents stand before the congregation and promise to raise the baby according to the Christian faith.  Then the pastor and congregation prays over the baby.  When the baby grows up, and he/she is old enough to make his/her own decision to believe and serve Christ, he/she then can choose to get baptized.  

I wanted to make Alethea a very special card that she could keep forever.  I searched the web for ideas, but all I could find was baby baptism cards, which didn't fit this occasion.  So, I came up with my own idea using a combination of concepts I found in both baby baptism cards and new baby congratulation cards.

This is what I came up with.  Because I couldn't find any baby dedication stamps, I used a new baby stamp from a retired Stampin' Up! set.  The sentiment is hard to photograph.  It says "Babies are bits of stardust blown from the hand of God".  Isn't that beautiful?

To make my card, I stamped the sentiment in pink ink on white card stock.  I assure you, it's easy to read in real life, it just doesn't photograph well.  I then glued a piece of vellum on top, putting the vellum tape only on the sides where the lace will go so you can't see it.  I put some pretty white scalloped lace over the top of the vellum, taping the edges to the back of the card stock.  I then added ribbon, and a bow.  The cross is a charm from my stash.  It has a little opening on the top to insert a chain to make a necklace, so I tied a small pink ribbon to it to hide it.  I then glued it to the white ribbon.  The entire panel was then glued to a white card base.

Inside the card I wrote a very meaningful message to Ashley and Jason about the importance of raising Alethea in the Christian faith.  Then I signed and dated it, so Alethea can read it herself when she is older.

I was happy I had so many pretty things to use from my stash.  I did not have to buy a thing to make this card!

If you'd like to see pictures of Alethea's big day, you can read this post HERE.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Embroidered Faux Leather Burgundy Jacket And A New Blanket Scarf

Even though I already had a plethora of spring and fall jackets, when CJBanks had a huge sale on jackets recently, I decided to do some purging and updating of my outerwear.  There were a couple of jackets in my collection that were either outdated, worn in places, or just did not fit me comfortably anymore so I donated my daughter.  I've since purchased three new ones, a grey corduroy jacket previously shown HERE, a black quilted jacket (not posted yet), and this embroidered faux leather jacket.  I got them all for less than $24.00 and as I write this post, this jacket is still on sale HERE.

 I styled my jacket with a new blanket scarf from Charlotte Russe.   I already had a blanket scarf with a lot of red tones (see that scarf HERE)  but I wanted one that was a tad smaller, and had burgundy/grey tones to go with my other jackets.  I purchased mine for $10.00 in-store but unfortunately I cannot find it on their website.

I love the embroidery on this jacket and the zipper pockets.  I can put my gloves inside and know they won't slip out!

Underneath the jacket I wore a simple charcoal heather turtleneck from Worthington and a long silver necklace for when the blanket scarf came off.  I also wore long black and silver drop earrings.

Here is the look of the jacket without the blanket scarf.  I carried a black and brown Liz Claiborne bag.  My pants are St. John's Bay Black Straight Leg Jeans.

I love how classy outerwear instantly dresses up a simple outfit.  During the fall/winter season, I mostly just run from car to building and don't stay anywhere indoors for very long, so most people only see my outerwear.  A variety of coats, cute scarves and boots is all I need to stay stylish during the colder months.

I always prefer to wear grey booties with black pants.  I bought these Blowfish Booties last year, but they have a similar style available at DSW.

My silver necklace came with a shirt I bought at JCPenney.  Don't you love it when shirts come with necklaces that can be used with other tops?

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.

Monday, November 20, 2017

On Fall Break

I'm taking a week off to enjoy some family time!  I'm not going anywhere, but my children are coming home to me for a week.  I don't want to worry about anything other than making good food and spending time with my family.  And I intend to get as much cuddle time with my new granddaughter Alethea as I can!  I'll be back to blogging on Monday, November 27th!  I will still be posting to Instagram and Facebook during this time.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Amy

Friday, November 17, 2017

How I Styled The Same Grey Corduroy Jacket For A Casual and Dressy Occasion

Recently CJBanks had an amazing one day sale where I was able to pick up some classic pieces that would normally be unaffordable for me.  I managed to get three jackets and a sweater vest for under $100.00!  This silky grey cord jacket was one of those items.  It's very lightweight, and not very practical as an outdoor jacket for Wisconsin's fall climate;  so I intend to use it more as an indoor layering piece.

On this day however, I did use it as a fall jacket to go shopping.  I wore a very thick sweater and a scarf underneath the jacket to keep me warm.  CJBanks sizes tend to run large for me;  a size Medium provided ample room for the thick sweater.  If you want the jacket to be more form fitting, you might want to size down.

 To complete my casual shopping outfit, I wore black straight leg jeans (old) and grey booties (old, similar HERE).

 I brought in a pop of color by carrying my usual burgundy handbag (old).

The booties are by Blowfish.  I can't tell you how much I love grey booties.  I feel they provide a nice contrast to black pants and look a little more interesting than if I styled this look with black booties.

Because I had a scarf and jacket on, I did not wear a necklace or bracelet.  I did however, wear black and silver earrings, and lots of rings.

Here is a peek at my thick sweater I had on underneath.  It's a marbled black and white design.  It is a really cute sweater with a zipper on the top shoulder.

It was a cooler day, so I added a black pashmina scarf.

Here is a back view of the jacket.  It has a nice fit to it, I love the hidden zipper design when the jacket is closed.  My husband really likes this jacket too and thinks it's "very classy looking".   And the most important thing?  It's actually very comfortable as there is a lot of "give" in the fabric.  I don't usually like to wear jackets or blazers because I find them too uncomfortable, but this one is not uncomfortable at all.

And now I want to show you another way I wore this corduroy jacket.  This time it was for a formal event:  my granddaughter's baby dedication!   Ashley and Jason's church is very formal compared to ours and we were told to dress "Business Casual".  Which was pretty funny, as I didn't have a whole lot of "Business Casual" items in my closet, so this new jacket came in handy!

Here I am holding precious Alethea before the service!  She was so GOOD!  Just a doll during the entire dedication.  Of course she looked at the preacher like he was from Mars, but she didn't cry!  Her pretty pink dress is vintage.

And this is my husband and I with Alethea after the service.  Do we look like the proud grandparents or what?

I know you can't see my entire outfit, as Alethea was the center of attention for the photographs, not my clothes.  To style my grey corduroy jacket for this dressy occasion, I wore a smokey grey turtleneck underneath with a long silver pendant.  This time instead of pairing the jacket with pants, I wore a short, knit skirt and black OTK boots.

And here is the rest of the family!  We had my son jump in for a few pictures.

And the proud parents:  Ashley and Jason.

And finally, because I'm getting so much positive feedback of how readers like it when I post previous ways I styled my clothes, here is a picture of the same black and white sweater I wore in the casual look.  This time I styled it with white jeans and black boots.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Onondaga Cave State Park

This is a continuation of a series of posts of my Missouri Vacation which I took the first week of September.  To start at the beginning go HERE.  The rest of the posts, in consecutive order are HERE , HEREHEREHERE, and HERE.

On day four of our Missouri vacation we went to Onondaga Cave Park.  We were suppose to spend the entire day at this park and then retire in Rolla, Missouri for the evening, but we ended up just spending the morning there.  The reason was we took the back roads to get there (because we were following our GPS for shortest distance) and it seemed to be no where near any civilization.  It actually creeped me out a little.  I don't know why, but as much as I love nature I still prefer some resemblance of some civilization somewhere...even if its just a mom and pop store.  It just offers me reassurance that if there was an emergency there would be help I guess.  But, because we didn't see any stores, restaurants, or gas stations, we were unable to pick up anything for a picnic lunch.  Then when we got to the park I kept seeing all these bear warning signs..."Well, of course.  Why not?" I thought.  "We were after all in the middle of nowhere!".  The lack of civilization and all the bear warning signs put me on edge, and I had no desire to hike any trails deep in the woods that day.  😁  Plus, we had no lunch and frankly, we were on our third hiking day and I was starting to tire of it and needed a break.

So we decided to just see the cave and head to the nearby town of Rolla for lunch.

We first stopped at the park office to buy our cave tour tickets.  The admission to the park is free, but if you want to see the cave you have to buy a ticket.  They cost $15.00 a piece for an adult and the tour was about an hour and half long.  There are actually two caves in the park you can see:  Cathedral Cave and Onondaga Cave.  You can see both caves on the same day for $20.  We chose to just see one cave as they were quite long in both time and distance.

Because we arrived right when the park office opened, after we bought our cave tour tickets we had some time to kill.  The park ranger recommended we go on a short, nearby trail called the "Blue Heron Trail"

This was such a nice trail to take;  especially in the early morning and after several days of more rigorous hiking.  It was just so relaxing and peaceful.  We did see one blue heron, but unfortunately he flew away before we could get a picture.  But we also saw turtles and ducks, and thankfully, no bears! 😃

The trail is short, level, and paved so anyone can enjoy it.  The views are absolutely breath-taking.  There is a small waterfall on this trail which is really an old mill raceway that was powered by water from the Onondaga Spring.  A dam and millrace constructed in 1886 detains the water before it spills into Spring Lake.

There is also a lovely picnic pavilion across the lake from the trail.

The trail is only a half mile long, so we took our time and really just soaked up all the sights and sounds of nature.

After our short hike, we went back to the park office where they had a gift shop and  educational displays to look at before the tour began.  This cave tour you can access directly through a door at the park office.  The other cave in the park requires a one third mile walk up Deer Run Trail to access the cave's entrance.

My husband and I had only been in a couple of caves before this tour which were must smaller in scale.  This was by far the largest, longest, and most impressive caves we have ever seen.  The caves we were in up to this point were the claustrophobic kind:  you know, low ceilings, tight spaces, etc.  This one was so huge the Titanic could have fit inside.  I've never seen anything like it before.

Now even though we had an excellent guide who explained what everything in the cave was and how it was formed, I literally remember none of it.  So if your expecting a scientific explanation of all the pictures I'm about to show you, you will be disappointed.  I majored in English Literature and Theatre in college;  science is not my gift! 😉

These giant stalagmites (Don't be impressed that I knew what these were, I googled it.)  are called "The Twins".

Everywhere you looked, it seemed there was another miraculous site.  I loved this wall!.

There was lots of water in this cave, and we did see some small fish too!

The paths are all paved, but can be slippery because of the constant dripping.  If you go, I advice wearing a hat and shoes that grip.  It can also be a lot of walking for some people as there are some steep ramps and steps.  They had a few benches in spots for people that may find it to tiresome.

I love this stuff that looks like cake almost looks good enough to eat!

This was one of the most impressive spots in the cave.  I wish I could give you an idea of the scale of these formations.  They were huge!  If you look at the safety railing and imagine that coming up to an average person's waist, now look how much higher the formation is!

The path took us all away around the formations so we got to see them from all different viewpoints.  I think they call the column on the left "Rock of Ages"

Because of the darkness of the cave, it was difficult to get large scale pictures of the cave.  Here is one that did turn out.  See how far and up the trail goes?

The trail went around and up to the very top of the cave's most impressive formation:  "The Queen".

My favorite spot in the cave wasn't a big formation but a little one:  The Lily Pad Room.  I just loved the little little pads formed on top of the water.

It felt like an enchanted fairy land!

We did get lucky and spotted one cave salamander.

Our tour guide referred to these as 'Soda Straws".

He said the soda straws eventually grow into these:

We did see breaks in the formations now and then.  Our guide said they could have been caused by earthquakes or other shifting of the earth.

Onondaga Cave State Park is open all year long but the cave tours are only available from Mid April through Mid October.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!