December 30, 2009

Christmas crafting!

so, I didn't think quick enough to take any photos of my Christmas cards (it's always a scramble to get them done and in the mail!), but there was some additional Christmas crafting going on... wanna see?? This sequined and beaded beauty (pic above) was a great score at the thrift store... it was the entire kit, never opened, from LeeWards, and it was actually pretty fun to make! Okay, so my thumb hurt by the time I was done from pushing the pins into the foam ball, but it turned out great in the end. This was actually one of my presents to Tom-- we try to add to our ornament collection every year, and he has some similar ornaments from his Grandma in his collection, so I was really happy to find this kit. (I know there are companies that still make these kits, so I may make some of these for next Christmas, too.)
These two photos (above and below) are from another of Tom's presents, which is still not quite done, but almost. It started with a clear glass plate (again, from the thrift store) and some of his collected cigar bands... I saw an article about these kinds of things in a Mary Engelbreit magazine, and thought it would be really fun to make a keepsake out of the cigar bands-- he's collected them ever since we've known each other (because I asked him to, for crafting purposes!), and has quite a few saved up. This plate also was a lot of fun to see the design come together-- the artwork on (better quality) cigar bands is incredibly detailed, in terms of color and design. It only needs a backing of paper on the backside to cover up the wrong side of the bands, and then it will be ready to hang up in his office.
a detail photo, just to show the color and design of the bands... click on the photo to see it larger.
And, finally, a couple ATCs... I rearranged the furniture in my crafting space (!! It was a lot of work, but I just had the itch... I think I did this growing up, too-- I remember rearranging the furniture in my bedroom quite a few times.) It still needs to be cleaned (as usual, of course!) but in picking up the desk, I collected some interesting scraps and put them together to make a couple trading cards. I added them to some premade backgrounds I had stored in my stash. The one above is collaged from a die-cut piece of scrapbooking paper, more scrapbooking paper, glitter, and some random words I cut from a vintage gardening book.
This one started out with another premade background of watercolor paint, a napkin, and some handmade paper... I added a tiny vintage photo print, a German scrap frame, and more vintage words. Now if I just do some more organizing, I might find some more neat stuff, and get some more crafting done!

December 27, 2009

random links to remember

holiday memories to come later (once I get the photos off the camera!) but for now, I don't want to forget these websites.

half hour meals

sleeping kitten- dancing dog blog I found while I was googling unusual holidays.

a bit of holiday info: it included a Snuggie-- which is actually very warm and comfortable, although it does pain me to say so... :D

December 20, 2009

thrift store score!! (lots of photos...)

Yesterday, I headed to Casa Grande (a larger town about 20 miles away) to pick up Mexican for dinner. Of course, I couldn't just go to the restaurant and come back; I spent some time treasure hunting at the local Savers. You never know what you'll find in thrift stores; most of it is junk, in my opinion, but sometimes you can find a gem hidden in the "stuff" jumbled on the shelves. Most of my time was spent perusing the children's books and the Christmas decorations; I saw some vintage Christmas decorations that I thought long and hard about then left behind, but I just couldn't leave this stack of books in the store... they had to come home with me!! I do have a small collection of children's books but since I don't have much room on my shelves, these will be going up for sale in my Etsy store over the course of the next couple days. All of these are either Wonder Books or Rand McNally Elf books except the one in the back, which is a California state music textbook. The little ones are Rand McNally Junior Elf books. That book size really brought back some memories- I remember reading books like this in first grade, I think it was. These all have copyright dates in the 1950s, with some being reprinted in the early 1960s, by the look of the illustrations. (my Roman numeral knowledge really got a workout!)
The artwork in these is just wonderful, right down to the end papers! The top pic shows the end papers from "The Giant's Shoe" and the bottom pic is the end papers from "No-Good the Dancing Donkey."
Here's a shot inside "Mother Goose," a Rand McNally Tip-Top Elf book, which is a little larger than the Junior Elf books. (copyright date 1958; the illustrations have that late 50s/early 60s look to them.)
This sweet illustration is from a Junior Elf book titled "A Moth is Born." It shows the life cycle of a cecropia moth all the way from egg thru cocoon and moth. Copyright 1957, these illustrations remind me of the old paperback type of nature identification books.
This pic is the end papers from the book "Three Little Ducks." The end papers don't really have anything to do with the story, but I love the little squirrel, puppy and kitten! Copyright 1955, this book follows Ducky Diddle, Ducky Doodle, and Ducky Daddle (don't you just love the names??) as they wander off and have adventures while they are supposed to be taking a nap.
This is from Heny Penny, which is one of my favorites stories from growing up... I love the little kerchief on her head! Somehow the colors from vintage books have more "warmth" to them than new books... not sure what it is, maybe the age of the paper mellows the colors?
This cute illustration is from "December is for Christmas," copyright 1961. Jeremy the rabbit learns he can read, and reads a 2nd grader's story about Christmas to his family, which inspires them to decorate a tree and celebrate Christmas with all the animals in the forest.
Here, Alice meets the Caterpillar on her adventures in Wonderland, from a 1951 edition Wonder Book. This one doesn't even look like anyone ever read it- the colors are really vibrant, and the pages are all in great condition.
This pic is from "I Love the City" which is a California textbook that has small poems and short music songs in it. I love the washed-out, soft colored watercolor illustrations! There were actually three copies of this book, and I don't think any of them had ever been used, either. Thanks for enjoying my thrifted books with me!! I always wonder how things end up in the thrift store, and what chain of events brought them there, especially items like these. There were quite a few more I might have bought-- I felt sort of sorry for them, being jumbled in such disarray on the thrift store shelves in amongst countless wrinkly, torn, and dirty paperback books. I hope I can find them good homes!!

November 23, 2009

scrappy goings-on

yes, I do still use all the scrapping supplies in my craft room... not always for SB pages, but I have gotten some photos printed, and am slowly getting my scrapping mojo back... it helps to have great photos of some really beautiful scenery, too! (you can click on any of the photos to see them larger.) this is a 2-page layout that evolved over the course of a couple weeks-- I just love how our photos of the San Xavier del Bac mission turned out; it's such a beautiful place, I don't think you could get a bad photo! We visited there when we took a short trip thru SW Arizona last Christmas... it was started during the 1600s, and was finished in 1797, and sits in the middle of the Tohono O'odham (which means Desert People) Reservation just outside Tucson. I've never even been inside anyplace that old before; the history of the place was astounding to me. (it's still a working Catholic church, even today!)
This 5x7 photo was my first inspiration; I really love how the photo captured the glow of the whitewashed adobe, and the sandstone carvings on the facade. I wanted to show off the photo, but also do something a bit "artistic" with the page. I started with a page layout sketch I found on the internet (I think it was from the Pencil Lines blog, but I'm not sure, since I lost my notes), and changed it up a bit. Since the "nickname" of the church is The White Dove of the Desert, I decided to use a chipboard bird accent. The brown patterned paper was chosen to bring out the sandstone color on the building, and I really liked the look of the fabric on the page. At the bottom, I used some really small sticker letters to spell out "San Xavier del Bac Mission" across both pages- they're only about 1/4 inch across, so they were a bit of a pain to put in place, but I like the look.
Here's the second page of the layout-- it has another chipboard accent, a bit more of the fabric, the same patterned paper, and more rickrack.
This 2-page layout is photos of the interior-- the inside of the church is chock-full of paintings and statues, all the way up the walls and ceiling. There's so many ornate carvings, statues, and paintings that you couldn't possibly hope to see all of it, or take really good photos of some of it, but we tried.
The focal point of the lefthand page is the main sanctuary of the church facing the altar; it was decorated for Christmas when we went. I decided to use blue and red, to accent the photos-- I also used a patterned paper that looks like peeling paint to play up the age. I used a few chipboard shapes painted gold, to match the pattern on the red paper. I also decided to write my journaling with gold pen (which may not have been the best choice for this page, since it's kinda hard to read).
The other page of this layout-- more of the "peeling paint" paper as a border, and a bit of the red and gold scroll paper used as a photo corner. I cropped some close-ups of statues, and had them printed as 2x3 wallet sized photos, which I lined up on the border. (The gold writing looks tons better on the dark blue, doesn't it??) I also used the teeny letter stickers to identify my photos for journaling purposes. I have tons more photos from the mission, but they're just going to go into a regular photo album, I think. Now, I just have to work on layouts from our visit to Tombstone, AZ and the ostrich ranch. (yes, I wrote ostrich ranch... check it out here. Ostriches are kinda scary close up, but it was a hoot to see the place!)

November 22, 2009

crockpot roast recipe-- I need to save this one!

this recipe for roast in the crockpot with cranberries sounds great! (found blog-hopping from Mare's blog Moon & Stars Studio, I think.)

a bit more randomness:

the weather right now in Arizona is gorgeous- afternoon highs in the mid 70s... Tom and I went for a bikeride yesterday around our subdivision and spent some time feeding the ducks that hang out at the pond by our local golf course-- it was a lot of fun watching them chase after the bread crumbs!! Sometimes it's the simplest things that make the days memorable, isn't it??

I've been trying to eat better and exercise more since having the stroke (with a couple episodes of pizza, drinks, and a chinese dinner in there, but eating better for the most part) and so far I've lost about 7 lbs! Not a lot, but it's definitely going in the right direction.

November 20, 2009

random wrapup

the camera had so many pictures on it that the memory card was almost full, so I had to do some photo editing and organizing. So, here are a few random photos to start off the weekend... Butters and Tom relaxing on the couch in the evening. Now that it's chillier outside, the cats are a bit friendlier and enjoy snuggling, something they wouldn't do during the summer.

The perfect cigar ash... you know it's a good cigar when the ashes hold together this well! The late afternoons are cool enough now to relax on the patio, finally. We don't often have time to do it, unfortunately.

Playing puppies-- they look so vicious, don't they?? Every once in a while someone yips like they're actually hurt, but I think all that fur is a good insulator to avoid injury. I'm so glad that Sedona and Bisbee can keep each other entertained! (although we still do plenty of playing with their toys, too...)
A beautiful pink and peach sunset reflected in my side mirror a few weeks ago... the skies here turn such amazing colors sometimes, it's almost unbelievable.
A photo from over the summer at Tom's family reunion-- one of the traditions is enjoying (I say that loosely!) limburger cheese. In this picture, Tom's grandma and his dad's cousin Ron are offering us some. I did try it last year, and it was better than I thought it would be (this year, not so much... this time, I couldn't get past the smell). Have a good weekend, and stay tuned for more randomness coming soon!

October 30, 2009

cuteness! wonderful collage pieces made from vintage book paper. You have to check these out!! (found via Mary Ann Moss, from Dispatch from LA, one of my bookmarked blogs.) I especially love the terrier, and the french bulldog-- they have such great expressions!

I accept!!!

I accept your challenge, WI Sister!! lol!!!

Exercise of some sort (for, say, at least 30 minutes??) at least three times a week, counted Sun-Sat.

(unfortunately, that means I have to go to the health club tomorrow, since I've only gone twice so far this week...)

...and what do we get if we stick with it?? I say something crafty!!

October 26, 2009

different strokes...

so there could be so many titles for this post-- WTF, or OMG, or why me?!?, or numbers:

40: my age, as of the end of May

5: the number of medical appointments I've had in the last couple weeks

22: the total number of vials of blood I had drawn earlier today (it really wasn't as bad as it sounds; most of them were pretty small!)

2: the number of CT scans I've had in the last two weeks

1: the number of strokes I've had (yes, I said stroke!) that caused all these other numbers

0: number of chances I thought I was actually having a stroke, while it was occurring

24: percent of women who will have a repeat stroke within the next 5 years

so, what happened, do you ask?? Well, it's like this: While we were at the art opening a couple weeks ago, I started to not feel well... the classic (I've come to find out) symptoms-- sudden numbness in my arm and hand (I couldn't pick up the glass I wanted to get), slurred speech, loss of coordination (I felt like I was walking crooked), and a bit of nausea. And what did I do when this happened?? I NEVER thought I was having a stroke, that's for sure... I hadn't eaten much that day, and it had been about 8 hours since lunch, so I figured it was because I needed something to eat. So, we came home, I made myself a bowl of soup, and laid down on the couch. The numbness and slurred speech went away after an hour or two, and it took a couple days to really start feeling myself again.

I WAS SO LUCKY!!! (and stupid--yes, I was extremely stupid not to think it could have been anything really serious.) My symptoms went away, but if they hadn't, I would only have had a couple hours to get the clot-busting drugs that could have reversed the damage...

3: the minimum number of times per week I want to go to the health club or do some sort of exercise (more is better)-- I'm keeping track, and I think I'll bribe myself by buying something if I can stick to it for a couple months.

50-60: the number of pounds I really need to lose to get back to a healthy weight

below 200: the number my cholesterol level should be-- I don't know what it is now, but I know it's too high, and the good/bad cholesterol is all messed up

never: times I thought my unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle would actually cause me real, physical harm... distress when trying on clothes, perhaps, but that's all... talk about learning the hard way!

NEVER: the chance that I want this to happen again, so I will do whatever I can to prevent it... it will be hard, I know, but I like my brain working just the way it is!! (So, as a public service announcement: don't be as stupid as me; if you have any of those symptoms, no matter what your age, please go to the ER, just in case!)

October 24, 2009

Christmas already?? more scrapbooking

No, I haven't started scrapping Christmas (and if I had, it would be from a few years ago!)... Last month I put together a pre-made Christmas photo album for donation to a charity auction, and thought I would show you those pages (since I don't have anything new and crafty of my own yet). I used an 8 x 8 album from SEI, with a heavy cardboard cover and 10 page protectors... just the right size for someone to showcase a few special photos, and it was actually pretty cheap compared to some albums out there- only $4.99 at my (somewhat) local Hobby Lobby. I made every 2-page layout with space for a photo, and space for journaling and writing memories on the opposite page. The top 2 pics are a 2-page spread using Basic Grey paper- the triangle paper was just perfect for making the little pennant border on the left. The right-hand page is spaces for journaling, with inking around the edges for a bit of distressing. The bottom two pics were both decorated using dimensional adhesive (I think I used Ranger Glossy Accents) for some extra shine. The swirl on the left was cut from chipboard (using the SB store's huge collection of die-cuts!), and painted with a crackle finish. I stuck it down- just on the edges- with glue dots , so the tags can be slipped out for writing. The button designs on the right-hand page were cut from Graphic 45 paper... this company has some wonderful vintage-style patterns (all double-sided for twice the fun)!!
Nothing too spectacular about the top 2 pages-- not exactly a traditional Christmas color palette, but I didn't want the entire album to be red and green. The bottom left page (for journaling) is more Graphic 45 paper (the green holly pattern) with rickrack trim, and the paper on the right-hand (photo) page has a hand-doodled pattern of leaves and berries on it.
The top left pic is the album cover-- the album started out as plain red, but I couldn't leave it that way!! The "Holly Jolly Christmas" is a large sticker that I embellished with glitter... the ornaments are chipboard- one covered with gold glitter, the other covered with patterned paper and a sparkle glaze. They hang from a pine bough made from punched paper. The right-hand pic is the first page; another sticker, a journaling space, and some decorative buttons. The bottom pics, again, aren't exactly traditional colors... more red rickrack, a lime green and turquoise cardstock set off a large Tim Holtz Christmas stamp on the journaling page.
Again, not exactly traditional-- the top 2 pics are using some ultra-cute Christmas paper I found at the SB store... the Merry & Bright line, chock-full of retro 1950s colors and great patterns. The journaling space on the left is actually a library card and pocket-- I just covered the pocket with the polka-dotted paper, and added a chipboard bracked painted with an acrylic pink crackled finish. And don't you just love the pom-pom fringe on the right-hand side?!? (I do!! that's the first time I've used it, and it definitely won't be the last.) The lower 2 pics use another non-traditional color palette, adding the bright pink in with the red and green die-cut paper. The right-hand page is a pocket to save Christmas cards, set of by glittered letter stickers, and some hand stitching around the edge.
These pages all use a very elegant embossed Bazzill cardstock-- both layouts use the cardstock to make pockets for journaling spots, and all the pages use ribbon in some way. The entire album was a lot of fun to make; I hope whoever won the auction likes it, and uses it to record some of their current (or past) holiday memories!!

October 19, 2009

is it really?? can it be?? yes, I think... it's... a scrapbook layout!

a month or two ago, I got a number of pictures printed at (a pretty nice photo processing website with helpful customer service, low prices, and a variety of photo sizes to choose from)-- since then, those pics have just been hanging out, waiting for inspiration to strike. It's been quite a while since I scrapped anything, so I started simple, with just one photo: I love this picture of Butters and Pandora-- they don't snuggle together nearly as often as Cleo and Phoebe used to, so when I found them like this on the office chair, I had to take a couple pictures; this one was printed 5 x 7, for extra cuteness. It really shows off their pink noses and ears, so I went with pink, girly colors for the page... in reality, except for the pink cardstock, it's all from a Making Memories page kit I found at a local closeout store, so the colors all match- bonus!! I used a page sketch (I love page layout sketches for inspiration!!) from the Pencil Lines website-- they post new scrapbook page sketches and challenges every week, and just celebrated their third anniversary.
a closeup of the upper left corner, showing the adhesive rhinestones and buttons I used for embellishments-- I mean, really, when else am I ever going to use glittery rhinestones on any of my layouts?? (plus, they came in the kit-- this way I'm being practical, using all the supplies-- LOL!!)
another closeup, of the bottom right-- I love the soft buttery yellow velvet ribbon- too bad there was only enough to use on this layout!! This pic also shows the inking I did to the edges of the polka-dot paper to add another touch of pink...
snuggling in that chair looked a little more comfortable than sleeping on this one, don't you think?? Butters hangs out in some of the strangest places!! (maybe she's wishing she could turn on the stereo or the drum set... thank goodness she can't-- cats cause enough trouble without opposable thumbs!)

October 09, 2009

think pink thoughts!!

for my sister Jackie, who is 10 years breast-cancer free this year (yay!!), and for our dear friend Mike, who recently found out he has breast cancer, and is undergoing a mastectomy today... yes, breast cancer affects men, too. Both of them found the lumps themselves, so do a regular self-exam, and tell your loved ones (female and male) to do one, too!!

October 08, 2009

photos of my Women for Women project

here are a few more photo of my recently finished big project to follow up on the sneak peek I showed you in my last post. (They're not the best pics, but I was in a hurry when I took them- sorry!) The challenge was for all of us to use the same starting material, a color, and the biography of a specific person from the Women for Women website, and make any kind of art that we wanted. My color was Blue; my Women for Women survivor was Gloria, who lives in the country of Colombia. And this is the starting material: This is the "Before," and it frankly scared me a bit-- it's a department store torso, black plastic. (right here, she's enjoying some sunshine in our backyard- haha!!) So, the big question: what to do with her?!? Being a stamper, scrapper, and art journaler, I don't do much 3-dimensional work; I'm more comfortable with working on a much smaller scale, and working on flat surfaces. So, I decided to treat it like a 3-D journal page! I know I took in-process pics, but I can't find them on my computer, so you'll just have to imagine the process of layering on the paper, gesso, multiple colors of paint, stencils, and stamping-- when I got to the blue color (my color for the challenge), I kinda went a little overboard, so you can't see much of the underlying colors and textures unless you're up close.
I don't really know much about the country of Colombia, so I did some research at the library, which led me to the realization that I am really grateful to live in this country-- Colombia has been subjected to so much violence-- over 100 years of ongoing political unrest, killings, massacres... I can't imagine living under those conditions, let alone losing my husband to the violence and raising 4 children on my own, which is what Gloria has been through. This pic is the completed torso-- there is a lot of symbolism in the piece which no one might understand but me, but that's the way it is with journal pages, right?? The tree represents the country with its roots at the base, growing up towards the future. Since I use a lot of nature images, I decided on the bird/tree theme, and I love this particular quote from Emily Dickinson, so it had to go onto the piece. "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all."
This is a closeup of the base-- the black painted design is my interpretation of an early Colombian textile pattern, and the blue/yellow flowers are from a traditional Colombian pottery design... the city with flames represents the changes and the violence that the country-- and Gloria-- have been thru in its/her life.
Here is a closeup of the top portion of the torso-- the top of the tree is the ongoing growth of the country, and Gloria's growth thru the Women for Women programs. The leaves (which are cut from a vintage atlas map of Colombia) have words on that represent the future- hope, believe, family, peace, etc. The "nest" is made from shredded cardstock, and the chipboard bird and hearts represent Gloria protecting and raising her four children. And, since it's a "journal page" I had to do some writing-- my feelings about Colombia, Gloria's struggles, and the good things that the Women for Women organization is doing all over the world... I can't wait to see it, and all the other torsos, on display at the gallery!!

September 27, 2009

jobs well done-- and another in the making

The last few days have been busy around here, artistically and organizationally speaking... the photo below is a sneak peek of a project that I finally finished on Thursday (at the last possible minute, of course). I will show more photos of it soon- it's an artistic challenge that I had a LOT of mental problems completing, almost gave up a couple times, doubted my artistic vision--- but I am very glad I persevered and did what I wanted with it. Bonus-- it will be shown in a local gallery (!) along with art from 10 other participants of the challenge-- at the end of the show, they will be auctioned off to raise money for Women for Women, an international aid organization that helps women in conflict and post-conflict areas of the world. (Did I mention that my art will be shown in a local gallery?!?!! I'm really excited, but also a bit nervous about that...) The gallery is called Art on Boston, in downtown Chandler, AZ- more info about the gallery here. Below is a pic of another weekend job well done- like a lot of people, I seem to collect art and craft supplies more than anything (some of which I've had for years and never opened or used), and I also have plenty of things I bought for specific projects that I no longer even remember... so, I decided to go thru everything with the goal to de-stash, streamline, and have a garage sale. This way, they would no longer be cluttering up my space, and they would hopefully go to good homes where someone else would actually get some use out of them. I did pretty good, actually-- I got rid of some of my older stuff, and made enough money for use to go out for drinks and appetizers, and also enough money to buy some new stuff! :D Of course, the aftermath of a major project completion and looking thru my stuff for things to sell means that my art studio looks like this:
This has the makings of another major project, doesn't it??

September 19, 2009

aaarrrggghhh, mateys!

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!! (or just enjoy a shot of my favorite pirate, Jack Sparrow!)

September 11, 2009

...yes, I think we WERE crazy... Part 2

On Sunday, after we had a leisurely (and very delicious!) buffet breakfast at the Monte Carlo hotel (we took a cab this time, to save our feet- and our moods!), we headed back to Arizona. We had hoped to beat the "holiday traffic" since we were traveling on Sunday and not on Labor Day... but, no such luck: at this point, we were still at least 5 or 6 miles away from the Hoover Dam (and a security checkpoint, which is where most of the traffic backup came from). Tom actually put the car in Neutral some of the time, and just coasted/idled. It was pretty annoying, but the scenery was beautiful though- miles of hairpin turns thru the mountainous terrain- and, if we had been going faster, we would have missed seeing this guy:
This bighorn sheep was strolling along right next to the highway... quite a surprise! We always see those "watch out for wildlife" signs when we're driving but never end up seeing anything, so I was quite happy to see him- he's a pretty nice specimen, too- he has a pretty nice curl to his horns.
Once we got to the Dam and parked, we headed for the Visitor's Center where we decided to take the guided tour-- we actually got to go down into the Dam and see some of the workings. The tour covered the history and building of the dam (it was built between 1931 and 1936, and was finished ahead of schedule and under budget!), and was really quite interesting. This huge generator room (650 feet long), which is somewhere around 500 feet underground, houses the turbines on the Nevada side of the river-- the scale of this equipment is almost incomprehensible. The American flag is hanging from one of two huge cranes that they use to move the equipment if they need to service it. What you see in this room is the very top of the generators; the electricity is generated below what you can see, and the water actually flows thru below that still (I still don't quite understand how it all works, but it's amazing, when you stop to think about it- the fact that moving water can generate that much electricity).
This photo was taken from the outdoor area at the top of the Visitor's Center- again, the sense of scale is almost incomprehensible-- there are teeny, tiny cars passing over the top, but it's still hard to understand how big it is-- 45 feet thick at the top, 660 feet thick at the base, and 726 feet high. (I think they should put a mannequin down at the bottom, to give visitors a sense of the size-- we were also wondering how many pairs of sunglasses and cameras are down there...LOL!)
This photo isn't the best, but it's another one taken to show a sense of scale (once this bridge is done, it will span 1,080 feet.) Obviously, since the current highway is 2-lane, has a lot of switchbacks, and goes right over the top of the dam, there are a lot of traffic problems. This photo shows the arch that will support a new 4-lane roadbed, so eventually traffic can bypass Hoover Dam altogether. Unless you want to tour the Dam, of course- I would definitely love to go back again sometime, but we'd need more time next time, since we still didn't get to see everything we wanted. We made it back home about 10 pm, which makes for a "total vacation time" of 40 hours... Not even two entire days (!), but we've certainly figured out how to pack a lot of activity into those short amounts of time. It was a fun weekend, and I look forward to doing it again sometime soon. (just not on a major holiday weekend!)

September 10, 2009

...yes, I think we WERE crazy- Part 1

maybe it was the non-stop trip last month from Arizona to Illinois that warped us... after driving 30 hours at once, 6 hours is nothing, right?? ...last weekend, we drove to Las Vegas for a whirlwind weekend trip. We dropped the dogs off at the sitter's house at 6 am on Saturday, then headed out of town. I'd never been to Vegas before, and Tom hadn't for quite a few years-- it was a beautiful drive through the northwest part of Arizona and over the Hoover Dam into Nevada (pics of that tomorrow). This photo was taken north of Wickenburg, through an area called the Joshua Tree Parkway. There are Joshua tree "forests" (I guess that's what you'd call them) everywhere out there. I still like Saguaro cactus better, but Joshua trees are so alien looking, they're kind of fascinating- they look like something Dr. Seuss came up with, not a plant that's native to the southwest! Once we got over the Hoover Dam and into Vegas (sloooow driving- I'll show some pics of the Dam in a separate post), we hit a scrapbook store (of course!) then headed to the Las Vegas Strip. The first place we stopped was a pawn shop...
The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, to be exact- we recently started watching a reality series on the History Channel called Pawn Stars, which is filmed there- a bit like Antiques Roadshow with a twist, and some really interesting characters! You never know what people will try and pawn or sell- a handmade glass sword (!) and a cannon from the 1850s were two of the odder items from recent shows, Two of the stars were in the shop when we stopped in, and they were nice enough to pose with Tom. From left to right: Tom, Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison (the grandson of the shop owner), and "Chumlee," Corey's childhood friend.
After we got settled into our hotel just off the main drag, we headed for the Las Vegas strip, and started walking- there's sooo much to see, it was sensory overload! (the strip is a looooot longer than it looks, too- I still have blisters!) This photo was taken just as the lights started coming on- the left part of the photo is New York, New York, with replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building, and Empire State building, to name a few. You can also see a new hotel complex being built right behind the Statue of Liberty, and the spire off in the distance is a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Along the strip there's also a small canal outside the Venetian hotel where you can take gondola rides; a pirate ship battle happens outside the Treasure Island hotel, and a volcano erupts outside the Mirage hotel. (I gotta admit, it was pretty weird, the "artificial-ness" of the whole place.)
This pic was taken using the Night mode on the camera, so the shutter stayed open a little longer than usual, which gives the blury effect- I think it gives a good sense of just how crowded it was- it never stopped, either, since everything is open 24 hours! We finally pooped out and headed back to our hotel room just after midnight. (we never made it all the way to the end of the strip; my feet just couldn't handle it- leave it to me to wear a pair of tennis shoes I hadn't worn in a while to a place requiring lots of walking!)
And of course, the obligatory photo with the Michael Jackson and Elvis impersonators! The whole thing was just so surreal, I couldn't stop laughing!! Sunday morning the whirlwind trip continued- a wonderfully relaxing breakfast buffet (thank goodness I got to rest my feet!), a little more sightseeing, then we headed back to Arizona with a stop at the Hoover Dam. (I just realized, I never posted part 2 of the trip we took to the Midwest... I'll have to fix that soon, too.)