Sunday, March 31, 2019

Decorating My Dining Room For Spring!

It is officially SPRING!  Spring is my favorite season.  I love the weather,  and all the life and energy spring seems to bring.  It is a time to clean, refresh, and start anew.  I was so excited to decorate my dining room for spring this year, because I re-painted it over the winter with "Colonial White".  Before the walls were a deep red, which made it difficult to decorate for spring since the pastel colors clashed with the red.  But now that I have a neutral background, I can decorate with any color and it looks fabulous!

The dining room is open to the living room.   Re-decorating the living room was our major project this winter.  We put in new floors, painted the walls "Colonial White", added a new runner, and ordered new furniture.  It still is not finished as we are still waiting on one furniture piece to arrive and my husband is custom building the rest.  So for those of you who have anxiously been waiting the big reveal, you will have to wait a little longer.  I will say however that the recliner arrived and to my surprise it LOOKS AMAZING in the room so I was worried about it for nothing (see this post if you have no idea what I'm talking about. 😄).

Once I re-painted the living room, I knew I had to re-paint the dining room and office as well.  All three rooms are open to each other, and the dark red walls seemed to conflict with the all white walls. I love how my semi-open floor plan seems even more open because all three rooms are now the same color.  It looks like one big room instead of three little rooms;  and,  everything is lighter and brighter!  Whoever said to "Paint small rooms dark to make them cozier" is an idiot.  It doesn't make them cozier, it makes them smaller and darker.  Light paint makes a space bigger, brighter, and happier.

So now that you have an idea of the layout lets take a closer look at the decor!

Because it is a dining room, I thought this chalkboard sign above the doorway was fitting.  I purchased it at Hobby Lobby.

Since Easter is almost here, I put out my Easter plates on the plate rail above the paneling.

I wanted to put items on my plate rail other than plates.  I was so excited to find these pretty photos at the Dollar Store.

The plate rail runs all around the room.  The paneling is painted Ultra White, so the Colonial White on the walls provides a bit of contrast.

In the dining room are five pieces of furniture:  two hutches, a piano, a grandfather clock, and the dining room table.

This hutch is an antique from my mother's side of the family.  The beveled glass broke years ago when one of my children smashed into it.  I never replaced the glass, but just hung a curtain inside.  I'm tempted to paint this hutch with chalk paint a cream or a robin's egg blue since my other hutch turned out so great (see this post here if you missed it).  But, it is an antique in good shape other than the missing glass, so I'm having reservations.  What do you think?

This spot is right above the piano.  I brought out all my spring plates, focusing on plates with pastel colors or bird images.

For the top of the other hutch that I painted with chalk paint, I placed a white vase (Ikea) filled with faux Lambs Ear.  I added a doily, some milk glass, and another Dollar Store painting.  I put the painting on an easel, and threw more faux flowers underneath.

For the piano, I added more white doilies to help break up the large expanse of brown furniture in this room.  On top I place a milk glass vase filled with faux roses from Ikea.  I put a bird painting on an easel, a faux potted plant, and added some bird statues.

Chickadees are one of my favorite wild birds.  I fell in love with this plate when I saw it at a HomeGoods store years ago.

For the table, I added some blue place mats.  If you remember in my painted furniture post I was considering painting the table.  Most of you said not to do it, so for now, I'm heeding your advice.  In the meantime, I added this white tray and blue place mats, and I felt they really helped break up all the brown in this room.  The place mats are wipe able, so they are not a nuisance.

The centerpiece is a Ikea tray, and a glass container filled with white sand and shells from a vacation to Pensacola, Florida.  I have since replaced this with a Easter metal tier tray which I will show you on Tuesday!

I found this BEAUTIFUL bird picture from Hobby Lobby.  Can you tell I have a thing for birds?  Birds and ironic is that?  I said to my daughter I was worried my dining room was getting "too birdy" since I had so many bird plates, bird pictures, and bird statues.  But I can't help myself,  I am so drawn to them!

I also added another bunny plate for Easter.

On the antique hutch I placed vintage china, a dollar store bird statue, and some greenery.

Here you can see the hutch I recently painted with chalk paint.  I filled it with vintage peach lustreware.

The ceiling is a coffered ceiling with embossed wallpaper.

You can also see the pedestal base of the dining room table in this picture.  Some of you suggested painting the "legs" of the table, but it's actually an intricately carved pedestal .  I really don't want to paint it.

Here is a close up of the piano spring decor.  I thought this painting was perfect to place on top of a piano.

White curtains and sheers hang on all three windows.  A glass beveled door opens to the front porch.  The dining room is open to the kitchen, office, and living room.

I love to shop Ikea for artificial flowers and greenery.  They are so realistic looking and the prices are reasonable.

Gold Finches are also favorites of mine.  I love to see their cheerful colors in the spring.  I snapped this beautiful plate up when I saw it at Hobby Lobby.  Oh, that store is dangerous!  It is filled with so many beautiful things.  I need to stay out of there!  They get me every time!  🤣

I had a couple of old bird prints in my craft room that I brought up and put in this room for the spring season.

The platter is vintage, and the picture was another Dollar Store find.

I hope you enjoyed my dining room spring tour!  I didn't do too much elsewhere in the house as the living rooms are both under renovation.  I spruce up the bathrooms and kitchen a bit with spring soaps and towels,  and I change out the floral arrangements in the bedrooms and hallways with spring ones as well.  I still need to get outside and take down my winter decor and put up spring decor on the porches.  I'm waiting for a warm day to do that!  Our weather has greatly improved, but we still have a bit of snow and ice that needs to melt.

Have A Great Day! Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Our Fall Vacation to South Dakota, Day 6: Custer State Park, Wildlife Loop

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,  HEREHEREHEREHERE,  HERE,  and HERE.

Before I begin this week's travel post,  I just want to say if you came by Monday or Tuesday looking for a fashion or craft post, my apologies.  My daughter, son-in-law, and grand baby are in town visiting for a few days.  I thought I could keep up with my blog and visit with them too, but I couldn't.  Alethea is napping now, so I'm using this time to at least write this week's travel post as this travel series has gone on long enough!  I'm anxious to finish it.  I think next week I should be able to wrap it all up and move on to other travel adventures.   Yay!

Now for this week's post:  Wildlife Loop!  Custer State Park is most famous for this scenic drive.    The exquisite beauty of this drive is incredible!  Even if you don't see a single animal, it is worth it!  We were very fortunate and saw a lot of animals.  I think the only animal we didn't see were the "Friendly Burros"😢 .  But we followed the park's advice, and got there bright and early in the morning  when the animals are most active.  I overheard some visitors saying that other people took the drive and never saw any buffalo.  You really must do this drive as early in the day as possible if you want to see wildlife.  It's also less crowded.  We had the drive all to ourselves for quite awhile, which was really nice.

At first, I didn't think we were going to see any animals.  We seemed to have to drive quite a distance in before we saw any wildlife.  And then, it happened.  We spotted our first buffalo taking a dust bath on the side of the road.  We were so excited.  We waited for him to finish and get up so I could snap this picture.  He was only a few feet from our car!  It was amazing!

And then he decided to walk on the road!  It was kind of scary as he is a huge animal and we were in a small car (Chevy Malibu).   We were afraid he was going to bust our side mirrors off our car.  🤣 This picture was taken from inside our car as viewed from the dashboard window.

Here is that same buffalo walking behind my car.  My husband was like "Should we move or just stay put?"  He didn't want him to ram his car.

We eventually decided to pull over and let him pass.  It was such an incredible experience!

Wildlife Loop is loaded with prairie dogs.  We saw them from the side of the road, but we also saw tons of them when we stopped at one of the scenic parking lots where you can get out of your car for wildlife viewing.  The prairie dogs "chatter" at you when you're on their turf.  I read that it's a warning noise for the other prairie dogs.  They are so adorable!

They do have safari rides at the park.  They drive right into the herd so you can get a close up view.  Those last about 2 hours and cost approximately  $50.00 per person.   We did not take one of those rides but we saw the jeep ride into the herd and thought that would be a fun thing to do.

Some other wildlife we saw on the loop was this turkey.  Of course, I see wild turkeys almost every day in my neck of the woods, but it was still exciting to see one on this day too.

I just love the gorgeous color in the rolling hills.  This is one thing I really liked about Custer State Park:  the diverse landscape within the park!  How often do you see that?  Just think, yesterday we were up in the mountains on our Black Elk Peak Hike looking at Cathedral Spires and other interesting rock formations, and today were admiring the gorgeous rolling hills of Wildlife Loop.  It was hard to believe it was the same park!

Another animal we spotted was this pronghorn deer.  It was fun watching him run right through the buffalo herd.

Later we were able to get a close up of him right from our car!

If you have binoculars, bring them with you!  I have a pair, but I forgot to bring them with me.  Sometimes the animals are so far away they can be hard to see.

Wildlife Loop is 18 miles long.  Along this loop you can expect to see bison, elk, burros, pronghorn, white tail, and mule deer,  coyotes (we saw several but they move so fast I couldn't capture one on camera), prairie dogs, hawks, eagles, and other birds.  Allow at least one to two hours to complete the loop.

In addition to the Safari Tours, they also have a "Hayride and Chuck Wagon Cookout" that looked like a lot of fun.  It also costs around $50 per person and takes you on a 45 minute hayride tour on the back roads of Wildlife Loop.  They sing songs, and you get a souvenir cowboy hat and bandana.  They eventually take you to a canyon where you enjoy a cowboy feast of steak or hamburger with beans, cornbread,  potato salad, watermelon, cookies, coffee, and lemonade.  If I ever take the grandkids to this park, we might have to do that!  They would love it!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Stitch Fix #26 Review

Today's the day many of you have been waiting for:  I'm revealing what I items I kept in my March Stitch Fix box!  🤣 Yea, right, I am sure y'all had nothing else to do but hold your breath waiting in anxious expectation.  Although, quite a few did say you couldn't wait to find out, so drum roll please.......... I KEPT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  I know, surprise right?  I'm sure so many of you are wondering why I didn't keep the printed pants, but you'll find out in just a moment.  For now, let's take a look at the last item in the Fix that I have not shown you yet.  This pretty emerald green wrap top.

41 Hawthorn Aliska Front Wrap Knit Top

Status:  Returned

There were a few things I loved about this top, the number one reason is the color.  Stitch Fix keeps sending me items this color because I love it so much, but unfortunately the item doesn't work for me for another reason.  I also liked the wrap style and the unique neckline.

What I didn't like was that from the back it really clinged so you could see my love handles.  Yuck.  Who wants that?  Unless I always planned on wearing it with a cardigan or jacket,  I could never wear this top alone.  It also made me look very busty.  Of course, my husband loved that, and I'm sure there's lots of women out there who like to accentuate that feature, but I'm not one of them.  I'm actually very self conscious of my bust size and I  like to minimize it as much as possible.

The top also polled the lowest on Instagram coming in at only 15% keep and 85% return.  That was the absolute lowest score I've ever seen since I started these polls.  You gals really did not like this top, so I listened to you and sent it back.

Margaret M Sylvie Printed Straight Leg Pant

Status:  Returned!

Returning these pants was a hard one for me, for I really liked the print and the way they looked from the front.  They were so cute!  But my hubby thought they flattened my butt and looked old-lady style.  Which is really funny as I am 56 years old, so technically I am an old lady, but he prefers me to not dress my age.   However, when I saw the pictures, I agreed with him.  They did not do my backside any favors, and unless I was ALWAYS going to wear a long top that covered my butt,  they would never work.  So, I'm gonna be brave here and show you this picture, so you know what I am talking about and your not mad at me for sending these pants back.  I know so many of you thought they were super cute and trendy;  which they are.  Printed pants are very "in" this season, so I'm hoping that Stitch Fix will send me a pair that's just as flattering  of the back view as it is in the front.

On Instagram the pants were tied 50/50.  They were far more popular on my blog post than they were on Instagram.  Sometimes I think opinions can be swayed because the videos on Instagram are super short and I'm standing in front of a mirror.  Whereas when I do a blog post I'm posing to get the best pictures and angles, thus, I look better.  Anyone would.

Liverpool Kolten Denim Jacket

Status:  Returned

This jacket was the most popular item on Instagram polling at 67% Keep 33% Return.  I loved the jacket, it was a stretch denim and super comfortable.  But, I already own a white denim jacket, and a white leather jackets, and tons of white cardigans, so I really didn't need it.  I still almost kept it because my old white denim jacket is yellowing with age and it is not stretch denim so it's uncomfortable to wear, but with the $88.00 price tag, I just couldn't justify it.

Vince Camuto Palmyra Ruffle Detail Blouse

Status:  Returned

There were many things I liked about this top:  the blue and white floral, the sleeves, and the flow of it.  What I didn't like was that it was completely sheer and it was unlined nor did it come with a tank. So I had to use one of my own tanks, and even after heavily spraying my tank with Static Guard I could not stop this top from clinging to it.  It was very frustrating.  I also didn't think it flattered me much in the shoulder area, so back it went.

The top polled at 47% keep and 53% send back.

Daniel Rainn Maiella Off the Shoulder Knit Top

Status:  Returned

This was my favorite piece in this box, and I think it was my husband's favorite as well.  It was SO COMFORTABLE!  The knit was super soft, and I loved the way it hung on my body covering everything I like to hide and showing my better assets.  What I didn't like was the pattern.  Although some of my readers comments about the pattern made me rethink it and now I like the pattern.  But I also didn't want another off-the-shoulder top.  I already own three of them, two of the three I own I only wore once, so I really didn't need another one.  I've also read multiple times that off-the-shoulder tops are out of style (although I will be wearing mine this summer!) which really caused me to fear investing in another one.

My Instagram readers didn't care much for this top.  It came in at 38% keep and 62% return.  

In summary, even though I didn't keep anything from this box, I'm not upset.  Stitch Fix is expensive, and I kept three items in my last box, so I knew if I kept anything in my March box, it would have to pretty awesome.  

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!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Our Fall Vacation to South Dakota, Day 5: Crazy Horse Memorial

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,  HEREHEREHERE, HERE, and HERE!

On Day 5 after we spent six hours hiking to the top of Black Elk Peak and back we went back to our hotel to rest awhile, shower, change and get a nice dinner.  At night we went to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, which was located only a few miles from our hotel.

Now a lot of people told us not to waste our time here, but we went anyway because they had a special "Night Blast" (which is only done twice a year, and we just happened to be there that weekend), and a "Light Laser Show".  And you know what, I'm so happy we didn't listen to the naysayers because we not only had a wonderful time but we were so moved by the generosity of the Ziolkowski family and all they have done to memorialize Crazy Horse and the Lakota Tribe.

The Crazy Horse Memorial does not accept any government funding, all the work is done through private contributions and the funds raised at the memorial.  So it is worth going just to help financially support them alone.  Because it doesn't accept government funding, it is more costly than Mt. Rushmore.  They charge for how many people are in your car:  1 person is $12.00, 2 people is $24.00, 3 or more people is $30.00.  Admission covers parking, admission to the museums, and the viewing deck.  If you want to get closer to the sculpture you have to pay extra.  They have vans that will drive you up closer to the monument.  Those are $4.00 per person and they are only available late in the afternoon or on weekends when they are not working on the monument.  

You actually can see the Crazy Horse Memorial right from the highway and never pay to get inside.  However, I don't know if they'll let you pull over on the highway and take a few pictures, plus the admission cost is for charity, so why not go in and support this worthy cost?

The Memorial has a beautiful museum called "The Indian Museum Of North America".  It is home to large collection of art and artifacts of over 300 Native American tribes.  Unfortunately we didn't spend much time in the museum because we got there late and needed to save a seat for the Laser Light Show.  They have limited benches, so we grabbed a spot and my husband and I took turns looking around while the other saved our seats.

The compound also has a nice restaurant and a beautiful gift shop.

When you first enter the museum the employees direct you to a movie theater where you learn all about Crazy Horse and the history of the monument.  I was moved to tears multiple times hearing of the dedication and the sacrifices of the Ziolkowski family to create this monument to honor the Lakota Tribe.  Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski arrived in the Black Hills in 1947 and worked on the monument until his death in 1982 at the age of 74.  He never took a paycheck for his work on the monument, and he had 10 children!  He said "By Carving Crazy Horse, if I can give back to the Indian some of his pride and create a means to keep alive his culture and heritage, my life will have been worthwhile."  How many people do you know would work so hard for no money and for such a reason;  especially if they had ten children!

If you don't pay the extra $4.00 dollars for the van ride, this is as close as you can get to the monument.  They do have viewing lenses you can look through too for a few quarters.

The monument memorializes the Native American Tasunke Witco.  He led a band of Lakota warriors against Custer's Seventh U.S. Cavalry Battalion in 1876.   This battle is known as "The Battle of Little Bighorn" or "Custer's Last Stand".   Without his successful leadership, the battle would have been much different.  Crazy Horse died in 1877 when he went to Ft. Robinson Nebraska under a flag of truce.  When he arrived some misunderstanding arose due to a bad translator and they started to arrest him.  When Crazy Horse realized he was being arrested,  he resisted,  and a soldier killed him with his bayonet.

In addition to the museum, you can also see a glimpse of the "Sculptor's Home and Studio" and visit the "Mountain Carving Gallery".  I thought this area was so fascinating.  There is a wall of pictures showing the entire process of carving the mountain until present and also a model depicting what it will eventually look like.

I love how they placed the model example right in front of the actual carving so you can back up and compare the two at the same time.  It really helped me to visualize what it will eventually become.

Here are some of the old pictures that were in this gallery.

We happened to be there when the Ziolkowski family was having a birthday party honoring their grandfather.  It was a private party so they closed the restaurant, but would you believe they invited EVERYONE in for a piece of birthday cake after the night blast?  I thought that was so sweet, and so typical of this family.  At first I thought there would never be enough cake for all the people that were there, but there was!  And it was so good too!

As we awaited night to fall and the Laser show to begin, we were blessed with Native American story tellers and dancers.

At night the monument is lit up.  It's so beautiful to see at night.  

Now, I don't have any pictures of the laser show or the night blasts as my camera would not work in such darkness, but you can see pictures HERE and I will tell you a bit about them.

The "Legends In Light Laser Show" is held every night from Memorial Day through September 29th.  The monument turns into a screen where lasers light up the night sky and shares the history and culture of Native Americans.  It's very beautiful and moving to watch.

The "Night Blasts" are only twice a year:  June 26th and September 6th.  This is pyrotechnic show and is so exciting to watch.  You must look at the pictures on their website.  The explosions start at the mountain base and travel all the way to the top of the monument.

There is so much more history to share of Crazy Horse and the origins of the memorial, but it's way too much for me to cover them here.  If you're interested in learning more,  it's all on the website linked above.

I do hope if you're ever in this area that you do not skip this memorial.  It was quite the emotional learning experience for us, and I also think it really rounded out our trip.  There is so much history in the area, especially of General Custer, it was nice to learn about the Native American history too.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!