Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Hand Painted Ornaments and Taking a Holiday Break

A year ago in this POST, I shared that my son had gifted me a box of wooden ornaments.  I painted some of them last year, and finally got around to painting the stars and snowflakes this year.  It was harder to paint the stars and snowflakes because I didn't know what to do with them because of the shape.  I didn't want to just paint them one solid color and throw glitter on them, so this is what I came up with.

For the stars, I painted them white then I stamped Christmas messages on all but three.  Then I stamped a starry background using silver metallic ink.  The snowman star I painted a very light grey so that the snowman would stand out.  All the stamps are retired Stampin' Up!

This is what the ornaments looked like before they were painted.

The snowflakes were the hardest to try and figure out what to do with.  I already have a lot of white, glitter snowflake ornaments so I wanted to do something different.  I ended up using a pearlized drop paint called "Liquid Pearls" to create a 3D design on the ornaments.  You simply squeeze the tube to create dots and lines.  I used three different colors:  gold, iridescent white, and a petal pink.

And here are the rest of the ornaments from the very same kit that I painted last year.  You can get all the details in THIS POST.

I hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I will be taking a blogging break to spend time with family and I will see again the week of January 8th!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

This post is part four of a travel series to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.   To start at the beginning go  HERE.  The remaining posts in consecutive order are HERE , HERE, and HERE!

On day three of our trip to Michigan's UP, after spending the morning at Oswald Bear Ranch, we then headed to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.  The park was on the way to Munsing where we planned to spend the night and the duration of our trip to the Upper Peninsula.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park has close to 50,000 acres, but most of it is undeveloped woodland.  The centerpiece of the park is the Tahquamenon River and its waterfalls.  The trails to see the falls are very developed and well taken care of.  There are lots of cool staircases and boardwalks as you will see in many photos of this post.

The Upper Falls is the highlight of the park and one can certainly see why when visiting.  It is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi with a drop of nearly 50 feet and a spread of 200 feet across.

When my son saw the photos of the Upper Falls he thought it looked like a dam, and he is sort of correct because although the falls were always here, man made a few changes to make the river suitable for log drives.

We took two trails while in the park.  The Tahquamenon Falls Upper Falls Loop is 1.5 miles and allows you many different viewpoints of the Upper Falls.

The second trail we took was the Lower Tahquamenon Falls which is 3.2 miles and takes you on a nice hike across a bridge to an island.  The Lower Falls is actually a series of five falls that divide around an island in the river.

Of course I couldn't help but stop to admire the Marsh Marigolds!

The bridge pictured below was new in 2021 to make it possible for anyone, no matter their abilities, to reach the island.

There are multiple viewing platforms to see the lower falls:

1.  The first viewpoint is from a paved path near the parking if you want to see the lower falls without hiking, you will want this one!

2. Two more viewing decks, like this one, provide close up views of the falls.

3.  And the last viewing deck is from the island once you cross the large metal bridge.

This old boardwalk/bridge was on the island.  It was so cool! It reminded me of Florida!

And finally, here are a couple of videos of both the Upper and Lower Falls.

We really enjoyed this sweet little park.  It was a nice stop on the way from St. Ignace to Munsing.  I highly recommend adding it to your travel itinerary if you're in the area too!

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Enjoying Some Old-World Holiday Fun at "Kriskindlmarkt" in Sparta Wisconsin

I have been envious for years of Europe's Christmas Markets.  I've longed to go to overseas for the holidays just to go shopping at the markets and see all the Christmas lights and displays.  So just imagine my surprise when I discovered I didn't need to travel thousands of miles away from home to have this old world experience, and I could get a taste of it in the small town of Sparta, only one and half hours away from my house.

Sparta Wisconsin is located in west-central Wisconsin and has a population of 10,025 residents.  But during Christmas, that population increases with visitors from all over the state to see how this tiny little town is transformed into a European Christmas Market.

Bavarian-style huts line the streets and town square.  These huts are filled with goods from both local and non-local Artisans and lots, and lots of great food!  The market is open starting the final weekend of November and three weekends in December.  The Artisans change daily so if you live nearby, you may want to come more than once!  

Because this is Wisconsin it does get cold, so they have plenty of fire pits to warm up!  We enjoyed all our food while standing near a toasty fire.  Pictured below are roasted pralines!

I wish we could have been there at night to see the place all lit up.  I can only imagine how beautiful it must be with all the stringed lights I saw.

There are 27 vendor huts in all, located in three clusters in the downtown area:  Meuller Square (pictured above), Creekside Village (pictured below), and Love Lock Village (named after it's Love Lock Bridge ).

Sparta's Kristkindlmarkt is inspired by Germany's Christkindlmarkt.  I would have preferred they would have kept the "Christ" in their celebration and not changed the name.  Christkindlmarkt  is literally translated to "Christ-Child Market". It is a German tradition dating back to medieval times where an outdoor street market is held during the four weeks of Advent. 

There is a full schedule of holiday entertainment at Kriskindlmarkt too.  Some events are a holiday evening parade, musical performances, chainsaw-carving, and an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

We arrived right at lunch time and spent most of our time eating.  In addition to the roasted nuts, we had a Bavarian pretzel (best pretzel I ever had!),  German sausage, and a blueberry crepe.  I was stuffed by the time we left!

Of course we had to get our photo taken on "Love Lock Bridge".  Yes, the bridge had plenty of locks on it from romantic couples dedicating their undying love.

I had never been to Sparta before and I was pleasantly surprised at what a pretty downtown park and Main Street they had.

This lady worked tirelessly making crepes!  She was so busy!

We sat down at a table on Main Street to eat our crepe, and I enjoyed people watching and looking at all the pretty historic downtown buildings.

The local stores were all open for business, and they were enjoying the traffic.  I couldn't help to think how much this event helps the small businesses!

We visited all the stores, but we were especially impressed with "Ginny's Cupboard".  We went inside to look around and we just loved the old fashioned decor.  The food looked great too, but we were so full from the market food we didn't order anything here.  I would love to come back sometime just to eat here.  

 Sparta's Kriskindlmarkt received the State of Wisconsin tourism Award for Innovation.  It has also been named the best Kridkindlmarkt in Wisconsin by travel bloggers.  

We had a blast at the market, and plan to go back next year.  I'd love to rent a hotel room so I could enjoy seeing the market at night.  It was my very first experience at a Christmas market, so it was exciting and new for I'm sure you could tell by the joy on my face!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!