Category Archives: Travel

Spring Break 2016

It’s a rare event when I get to take a trip, so I feel lucky to have traveled to the Sunshine State for Spring Break again this year.

beach views

Mornings and evenings at the pool are a wonderful way to start and end the day.mornings at the pool

Afternoons and sunsets at the beach are the best! Wish I could do that everyday.

seashell treasures white ibis on the beach

sunset at the beach

mom at sunset on the beach

sunset on the beach

The lush, tropical vegetation is always a treat to see in March when everything in my neighborhood is just waking up from being dormant all winter.

red hibiscus

I spent a beautiful day at the Naples Botanical Gardens.

palms at botanical gardens palm trees and ferns at botanical gardens arbor at botanical gardens arbor at botanical gardens

lego butterfly at botanical gardens tiger swallowtail at botanical gardens fritillary at botanical gardens julia butterfly at botanical gardens

Now I’m brainstorming ways I can arrange to visit the beach more often. Vacations are great, aren’t they?!


Field Notes: Weekend at the Lake

I just spent a fabulous weekend at my parents’ house on Lake Michigan. It was chock-full of eating, shopping and adventures. The weather was nice so we could took the boat out for some sightseeing from the water and swimming, even though the water was breathtakingly cold.beach view at the beachsandals on the beach coneflower pathwaymonarch butterfly frittilary butterfly

boat ridehouse from the water door county bluffs

door county ice cream factory ice cream quilt little sister bay sunset sister bay sunsetWe used to spend a lot of time playing and exploring on Lake Michigan when we were kids, so I always miss it since it’s the closest thing to an ocean around here. Hope you’re out enjoying these last few weeks of summer!



Vintage Suitcase

Remember when I showed you a couple antique boxes recently that I found at an antique shop? I have also been looking for a small vintage suitcase to carry as a briefcase for my art supplies or to use as a fun carry-on bag when traveling.

My niece and cousin were shopping together and found this fabulous vintage suitcase for me. It measures about 16 inches wide by 11 inches tall, so it’s a nice small size with a comfy handle for carrying around.

I’m so excited to have such a stylish way to travel now!

Art Cards – Week 23 – Gardens and Travels

What a difference the sunshine makes to me! I had the most unproductive Saturday in my history, which I’m blaming on the damp, cloudy weather. Today the sun in shining, so naturally, I feel 100 percent better.

I didn’t do anything significant last week, other than apply for jobs and make a couple new bags. We had a really big thunderstorm come through our area that caused the power to go out for several hours. That would have made cool inspiration for a set of art cards, but I didn’t think about that idea until I started writing this post. Doh!

I had two different sources of inspiration for my art cards this weekend.

My first inspiration came from my garden, which is always changing. I did a messy little illustration of a few alliums, and then I found a perfect quote that I just wrote in my natural handwriting, which I’m trying to like better. I’ve never been a fan of my own handwriting, whether it’s cursive or printing. But with all these art projects I’ve been working on lately, I really want to like my own handwriting!

My second inspiration came from my travels and my terrible packing skills. I tend to overpack my suitcase, or just don’t put things in there in a more compact way. I’ve been thinking about buying a smaller suitcase, just to limit the amount of stuff I can actually bring on a trip. How much stuff do you need anyway?!

Check out what my art card buddies  Michelle and Sandra have been adding to our Flickr group – so cool to see our variety of styles, inspirations and techniques.

Wishing you a sunny day too!

Living It Up in Vegas

Even though I lived in Las Vegas after graduating from college (that’s my old apartment building pictured below!),

and I have returned many times over the years, I still managed to take tons (hundreds!) of pictures this time around.

There are always fun new adventures to capture.

I promise, I won’t share boring vacation pictures; just the fun stuff. (added more pictures here)

The main reason we went to Vegas was to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.

What better way to celebrate than going to a burlesque show!

We had fun seeing the Crazy Horse Paris show at the MGM Grand casino. Yes, burlesque = risque and very impressive.

We enjoyed a lot of great food over the course of the week, including this opera cake at Le Provencal at the Paris casino,

and a lot of fun drinks, like these Swedish Fish and Root Beer Float martinis at the Sugar Factory American Brasserie.

We at and drank at the Sugar Factory many times, since it was attached to the Paris casino, and we always walked past it on our way out of the hotel. The best place for people watching is at one of those outside tables.

They also have a cool chocolate bar, stocked with top shelf liquor for chocolate martinis.

We shared this one, an Almond Joy martini, for dessert.

Okay, back to some sights.

We rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see some fabulous views of the strip at night. Definitely get a 2-for-1 coupon if you try this.

The cool thing about many of these casino resorts is that you could be anywhere in the world.

You could be in ancient Rome (or just at Caesar’s).

You could be in Paris (or just at the Paris casino) looking up at the Eiffel Tower.

You could be walking down the street in Paris admiring the windows and flower boxes.

You could be shopping for a cool car, if you have an spare $150,000 lying around.

You could be in Italy (or just at the Bellagio casino) looking for a carousel to ride.

You could be in a city looking at a gorgeous crystal curtain (or just at The Cosmopolitan casino).

You could be looking for a place to take classes on how to be a stripper.

(I didn’t! I just posed next to a giant stripper statute – how could I resist!)

You could find yourself in vintage Vegas, in front of the old Neon signs.

You could be a graphic design and illustration student, admiring all the lovely illustrations on signs and murals.

You could be an art student who is excited to find out Vegas has a Blicks’s Art Supply store so you can stock up on a few supplies to work on your travelog.

See what I mean? So many cool things to see and do in Vegas!

We walked a lot, we ate some great food, we drank a few interesting drinks, we did a little shopping, we did a lot of laughing, we saw lots of cool sights, and we spent a lot of time people watching, always good entertainment no matter where you are.

Stay tuned for another post coming later this week featuring our day of hiking at Red Rock Canyon.

A Couple More Pictures

I have to confess that I still haven’t touched any fabric or my sewing machine all week. I don’t even have any UFOs hanging over my head; just one unfinished purse I started to design before vacation.

I have been so busy at work this week, and so tired when I get home. I took a two-hour nap after dinner last night, and then it was time to get ready for bed. I hope I didn’t catch a bug from some unknown sick person.

Would you mind if I showed you a couple more pictures from our trip to Vegas? I really love these so I wanted to share them.

These statues are from the side of the building at the Paris casino.

Maybe if you have been to Paris and seen these statues in person, you’re not impressed. But I love them! They are beautiful, and such a contrast to the rest of the glitz and glam of Vegas. They remind me of all the ornate architecture and sculptures we see on our visits to New York City.

I just love these old neon signs in the Glitter Gultch of Vegas.

We didn’t have enough time to see more, which I hope we can do on the next trip.

We walked down Fremont Street in the direction away from the old strip, where more of the old neon signs are on display.

I heard that the city of Las Vegas is finally doing something with the Neon boneyard, an empty lot where all these old neon signs have been sitting over the years, with the creation of a Neon Museum where those treasures will be on display.

For now, you have to pay and get special permission to get into the locked area they are stored.

Last but certainly not least, I love this picture of Dave from our hike in Red Rock Canyon.

He always freezes when someone points a camera at him, so he doesn’t usually have such a natural look on his face in pictures.

Thanks for indulging me!

We’re Baaack

We didn’t win a million dollars, but we sure had a fabulous time in fabulous Las Vegas.

I took 254 pictures, so I won’t bore you with all of them here. My camera is just barely hanging on, so we took lots of pictures to make sure we would end up with a couple decent ones. I added a few more pictures to my Flickr page if you’re interested.

We toured the Hoover Dam, which was the highlight of the trip for Dave.

It was cool to see the new bridge they have been constructing over the Hoover Dam to ease the traffic jams from Arizona to Nevada.

We hiked at Red Rock Canyon. I am still amazed at the contrast from the glitz and glam of the strip to the rugged, barren environment of this canyon.

We had drinks in Paris. (Someday I would like to travel to the real Paris.)

We enjoyed dinner in Venice a couple times.

We saw a traditional showgirl show, which was the highlight of the trip for me. The costumes were amazing, the dancing was classy, yet oh so Vegas!


(no pictures allowed during that show *wink wink* so I had to borrow this little one from their website)

We shopped for souvenirs. (neither of us gamble but this was a fun place to check out)

In between all the hustle and bustle, we simply appreciated a lot of sunshine and blue skies.

No matter where we travel to, the people-watching is always the best. Oh, the stories I could tell, the skimpy outfits I saw. Like they say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. It’s still nice to be home again.

Vegas Baby!

It was relatively easy coming up with a reason to be happy this Monday. I only have to work one and a half days this week because we are headed to Las Vegas for vacation!

We are looking forward to warm, sunny days, since our winter in Wisconsin has been cloudy and damp and cold. I am going to spend the week eating, drinking, shopping, and sightseeing.

I don’t have any photos (yet) to celebrate vacation or Vegas, so I will share a sneak peak of some new products I have coming out in my shop soon.

See you all in a week!

Birthday Vacation

We are headed for the city – New York City!

Remember last year, when we went to New York City to visit family? We were celebrating my birthday. Yes, it was a big one. What a great place to celebrate a milestone! This year, it’s just another day, but we’re still going to celebrate. (On the birthday card envelope I got yesterday from my closest friend Tami, she wrote happy 4? birthday. Classic, don’t you think?!)

(envelope & card from Tami)

We usually make the same rounds: Purl, the public library, the Met, the Rose Center, Times Square, and plenty of Irish pubs in between! I do have a shopping list for M&J Trimming and Mood Fabrics so I am going to drag my husband there again. He’s such a good sport to go to those girly shops!

inside of M&J Trimming

This time around, I think we are going to skip a couple of those places, and try a few new things. We are planning to go hiking at Harriman State Park and sightseeing through Central Park, which we haven’t done in a couple years. I have always wanted to check out Tavern on the Green, so I hope we can get in, maybe just for afternoon tea or a cocktail. We will be trying out Cesca for the birthday dinner.

(funny office magnet from Tami!)

We are hoping to try out the Morgan library and the Frick Collection, which is showing stunning drawings right now.  I love stopping in to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is such a gorgeous old church. I love the gothic architecture, the stained glass windows, the candles burning everywhere. My sister-in-law works in the Rockefeller Center complex, so we will have to look for The Tree too.

What grand plans we have! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. See you back here around Thanksgiving.

Recap of My Trip to China – Part 2

This is part 2 of my recap of my trip to China…

My sister lives in Guangzhou a city of 10 million people, a two-hour train ride from Hong Kong, bustling with high rise apartments, shopping plazas, chaotic traffic congestion, trees and flowers planted on roadsides, streets full of garage shops and food stalls, located on the Pearl River which is a major southern port for commerce, making the city a major foreign trading community for world markets and export fairs. It’s home to the famous Canton Fair, a twice-a-year expo where foreign corporations go to export merchandise.

my sister's lush neighborhood(the lush neighborhood at my sister’s complex)

the lake at Castle Hill(the lake at my sister’s complex)

housing at my sister's complex(the housing in my sister’s complex)

The Smiths at Castle Hill(my sister and her family – aren’t they fabulous?!)

my sister shopping at the fruit market(my sister shopping at the fruit market)

On our first full day in Guangzhou, we toured these beautiful botanical gardens, which are right in the middle of a busy business and residential district. Palm trees, hibiscus flowers, azalea bushes, waterfalls, and more. It was surprisingly lush and peaceful.

lush botanical gardens

(reflection pond)

beautiful scene!

(beautiful scene!)

Mom's stoney path(check out this cool path – the stones looked hand laid)

azalea bush(we saw these azalea bushes everywhere)

double hibiscus flower(double hibiscus flower)

The next day, my sister took us to an Indian cooking class at a new Indian restaurant recently opened by friends of hers. That was neat because we got to try the dishes as we were making them and we also learned a little about Indian customs.

The next day we went to Guangzhou Baiyun Leather Market – a wholesale market full of (replica) bags.  I bought two LeSportsac bags, which I will show in another post.

The Guangzhou Baiyun Leather Market

(the leather/purse market)

MK and Terri at Starbucks(notice the Chinese characters for Starbucks above the doorway)

The end of that first week was my sister’s turn to host her International Craft Group, which was fun to meet her friends from all over the world who are expats living in Guangzhou. There was knitting, crochet, sashiko, hand quilting, and a lot of chatting. In the afternoon, we went to the wholesale Highsun Fabric Market, which I loved, of course.

For our second weekend in China, we took a road trip to Foshan – old pottery town where ceramics, pottery and tile are produced.

my mom and I at the Foshan pottery market(my mom and I at the pottery market in Foshan)

We took a walking tour of Guangzhou with my sister’s International group, where we saw busy streets, alleyways, garage shops, laundry hanging everywhere, and tried traditional dim sum, which is like a Chinese version of appetizers.

side streets of Guangzhou(typical side street)

another side street(here’s another example)

typical bike load(typical load on a bike)

typical laundry scene(typical scene of laundry hanging out to dry)

octopus tentacles on a stick!(octopus tentacles on a stick, anyone?!)

busy streets

(busy shoppers)

restaurant for dim sum(restaurant where we had dim sum)

My sister taught me how to play mahjong. We only had time for one game, so I still have a lot more to learn.

mahjong players

Another day we toured the Pearl Market, the Jade Market, the Antique Market, a pedestrian mall, and Shamian Island, a pristine and peaceful neighborhood where many of the embassies used to be located and where many families adopting babies stay during their transition period.

inside the wholesale pearl market(inside the wholesale pearl market)

vendor at pearl market(just one vendor at the pearl market)

another pearl vendor(and another pearl vendor)

jade market pillar(pillar at the Jade Market)

One day we went on a cultural tour of Guangzhou, which included Yuexiu Park, the Guangzhou Art Museum, lunch at the China Hotel, and a tour of a mausoleum.

Five Rams Statue

(Guangzhou’s famous Five Rams statue)

my mom in the city park(my mom in the park)

GZ Art Center

(GZ Art Center, which had a beautiful display of Cantonese embroidery)

the flower of Guangzhou(the flower of Guangzhou – we saw these trees all over the city)

busy pedestrian street(busy pedestrian mall)

Chinese lanterns framing pedestrian mall(Chinese lanterns framing the pedestrian mall)

For our final day in Guangzhou, we toured Qing Ping Market, which is an outdoor market selling bizarre foods (from dried sea horses to star fish, dried frogs to flies, a lot more I didn’t want to know about). We also went back to the Pearl Market, and shopped at IKEA for kitchen goodies for my sister.

My mom and I took the train to Hong Kong to catch our flight home. Speaking of the flight, OMG!  Fourteen hours on a plane!  We watched four movies, ate three meals, took at least two naps, read a book, played cards, did crossword puzzles, and walked up and down the aisles.

It was worth the pain to see another part of the world and to reunite with my sister and her family!  Stay tuned… I have one more post of my favorites from the trip!

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