Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

My sister in law sent a text saying she stumbled upon my travel and construction blog last night while on Pinterest. Those simple words made me pull up the blog and look at it as anyone else would and made me realize that I have DIY ADD.

I found that there hasn’t been a house related post sine June. We did take waaaay more trips than we normally do. But I really have been chipping away at the Shack, mostly on the gardens, though not one project is complete enough for a close up. I also realized that my computer has been broken since February. Really Mr.
Stovesand, can it take this long to replace a screen? I can barely send coherent texts with an iPhone much less blog! Case in point, I am re-typing this entire post because I somehow deleted the original one. I am pretty sure the last version was better.

I have a trunk full of plants…

And am on my twentieth or so flat of dymondia. These last two will mean the recycled concrete patio and flagstone path to the hot tub are complete.

Not difficult work but a tad bid tedious. We won’t discuss the mole last week.

The narrow flower bed behind our room is now considerably wider and planted in tropicals. Just needs mulching. The slope in front of the barn was without water and now needs to be re-planted on one side. The other side was grass and impossible to mow. The grass was removed and now has to be planned out. Darn, looks like another trip to the nursery. Grass seed went in two weeks ago and is being guarded from clumsy dogs

With all of these projects so near to completion, I found myself on Pinterest planning the future orchard. I can see why she referred to my travel blog. Add in a new-found addiction to Instagram and I feel like I have been blogging. Looks like I need to finish up a few projects and get back to real blogging. I need a little more DIY and lot less ADD.


Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Every year Kirk has a conference in Chicago. This year we were all out of school early and were lucky enough to tag along.

I had no idea that we would fall in love with the city. I was even able to get the boys to spend a day shopping on State Street. Thank goodness we don’t live there because it would be very difficult to stay on a budget with the seemingly endless stores with more inventory than I have ever seen.

Naturally we had to take in all the sights.

The Willis (formerly known as Sears) Tower. Incidentally, I was too chicken to walk out onto the glass platform.

Art institute. The boys tired of the art WAY before I did. Note the under appreciated Gauguins in the background.

The Bean.

University of Chicago and a fly by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes near the campus.

Rode the L, took a ton of taxis and walked our legs off to the John Hancock Tower, Field Museum of Natural History, Old Saint Patrick’s Church, The Magnificent Mile, Shedd Aquarium, Millenium Park and China Town.

Naturally we had some pizza. Very cheesy pizza.

I stumbled upon Argo Tea. Wonder if they are elsewhere because I loved the Nilgiri Black tea.

Had more pizza.

I hope we can go back next year. I better start saving, now that I know how much shopping there is!! What a great city.

New Zealand Adventure, Part 1

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Last summer we were lucky enough to travel to New Zealand for two weeks with my brother and his family. Our adventure began in Aukland and happened to be my birthday shortly thereafter.

We toured all of the city sights.

Celebrated my birthday with the girls at The Langham Hotel for high tea. The Langham claims to have served the first high tea in England as a way for ladies to banish that “sinking feeling” in the afternoon experienced while waiting for the men to return from their days business.

Then later we continued to celebrate with the family for amazing seafood including fish and chips, fritters and fried oysters at The Oyster House, which was a short ferry ride away.

We left the city behind to begin our travels south.

We stopped on the way at Waitamo Caves to see glow worms, hiking down into the caves and then boarding a boat, VERY QUIETLY, in the dark to see the elusive worms. They really did glow!

Our next stop was in Tongariro where a blizzard dashed our plans to snow ski. It was winter in the opposite hemisphere after all.

We spent a few days walking through slush and snow, drinking a new favorite, mulled wine and hanging out at the Skotel.

Then we again headed south for what would be a sixteen hour trek to the South Island. Along the two lane highways we saw MANY sheep and the stunning country side before boarding a ferry for a very treacherous three hour journey.

And then an even more hair-raising ride through the mountains to our next stop, a stunning beach house on Pohara Beach in Golden Bay. Thank goodness it was dark! I’ll save the rest for another post.

Mystery Gate Revealed

Monday, August 19th, 2013

We were invited to a Fourth of July party in The Malibu Colony. We didn’t realize what a treat this was until we arrived at the gate and chose to walk in instead of using the valet service. We immediately spied wildly expensive cars and unbelievably amazing homes. Although we tried not to be star struck, we were!

Without being too obvious I snapped a pix of a stunning gate.

And a few of the stunning party house, perched on the Pacific.

The tv room had walls that opened wide to the courtyard. I wanted to immediately repaint our house the same color.

And buy all new furniture and change windows and moulding. I have never wanted to redo my house top to bottom, but suddenly I did. One can dream!

Dinner was served buffet style. We had the most delicious salmon cooked on a salt block and grilled lobster. I was photographing this from a deck suspended over the sand and facing the ocean. Wish I had taken pictures of the bar, powder room, living room, master bath and rooftop deck. I couldn’t find fault with anything but I couldn’t pull out the phone constantly.

We were treated to three fireworks displays, including the private one put on by the Colony residences. The evening was incredible from beginning to end and such an unexpected treat. Today I was surprised to see the house behind the turquoise gates featured on Hooked on Houses . The house lives up to the gate, that’s for sure. Take a quick peek.

Very soon I will post about another party and what “casual elegant” attire means in Malibu. Let’s just say it is something else entirely in my world.

Caribbean Insta

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

We have been home for two weeks and have no plans to travel for a while. I have picked up plants for the new rear garden design, scrubbed bathrooms and floors, and unpacked all the luggage. Now I can finally write a post without a mound of laundry or dust covering the floors.

As I mentioned in the last post, we took a short cruise in the Caribbean. I am not a big fan of traveling on ships, but Spenc and Kirk love them.

We boarded the ship on Father’s Day and after checking out our room, headed straight for the first of many endless buffet meals. We then explored the ship and the boys played a quick game of putput golf.

Our first stop was on Grand Turk where we took a kayaking tour through a creek. I apologize in advance to all of you who follow on Instagram as I didn’t pull out my camera.

We saw little of the island as we traveled to our destination, which is my biggest complaint about cruising.

While on board the Heat won the NBA playoffs. They broadcast three games on the pool deck while tons of fans routed for their favorite.

Our next stop was Jamaica. We took a tour around Ocho Rios ending with some relaxation at the beach.

We stopped to admire a church.

Before heading back to another day at sea.

Next stop…a water park in the Bahamas. Most of it was too adventuresome for me, but they did have Starbucks! I had been reduced to drinking watered down fountain iced tea with a splash of lemonade for days.

A spirited band wandered through just before we left.

I loved this building we glimpsed on the way back to the ship. Spencer lost his cruise card, but they did let him back aboard.

Before we knew it we were back in Miami and off to the airport for a flight home. All in all we had a great trip. Maybe by writing this post I will actually remember where we stopped!

Miami Heat

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Recently we traveled to Miami to take a cruise in the Caribbean. We took a few days to spend time exploring the city before we set sail.

We stayed in North Beach, wasting no time checking out the Atlantic. Beaches crowded with lounge chairs takes some getting used to, but the warm water was a dream.

The boys loved South Beach, especially the convoy of snazzy cars driven by what looked like a group of rappers.

Here was something one doesn’t see every day.

We took a tour through little Havana. I just took all of the homeless chickens to the thrift shop, but clearly should have brought them to Florida to retire.

The boys bought cigars, not that they usually smoke.

I loved the Cuban’s hanging out playing games.

Corral Gables was an amazingly beautiful neighborhood. The old houses were gorgeous and the lush gardens helped me to envision Kirk’s desire for a tropical landscape at The Shack.

We toured Miami University, hit the beach and too soon packed up for the cruise (another post for another day). I know lots of people move to Florida to retire, but I am pretty sure I am not nearly hip enough for Miami. Maybe we will go back and find some retirement communities. Sounds like more of my speed.

Mount Vernon Inspiration

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

In the spring I took a trip with my mother to visit cousins in Maryland. Having only been to Washington DC many years ago on a business trip with Kirk, I was able to see many places I had only learned about in history lessons. We packed a lot of sights into our stay, traveled through five or so states and ran through many attractions, but we were able to spend an afternoon at George Washington’s farm, Mount Vernon. As you might guess, my favorite part was the gardens just outside the beautifully, modest mansion perched on the Potomac River.


There were stunning walled gardens just outside the mansion which served to feed the residents of the farm.


Rows of various crops were grown.


I was inspired by the espaliered fruit trees growing against brick walls to soak up the ambient heat.


And the ancient specimens grown as living fences.


Still more in the more formal parterre garden.


Though I know myself well enough to know this much care isn’t what I am willing to maintain.


Naturally one would need a little green house, like this one.


And a finely clipped parterre.


To grow all the bulbs which were lovingly stored in the greenhouse.


The dirty little secret was that slaves cared for all of this splendor. Now the gardens are privately cared for so that we still may be inspired by the father of our country’s estate.


Happy Fathers Day George. I sure loved your gardens! Even writing this post makes me want to put on the gardening gloves.

Colors of Tuscany

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Last week Kirk and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary by taking a trip to Tuscany.  The country side is unbelievably beautiful with antiquities galore, but what stood out most to us were the colors of the architecture in a myriad of warm earthy tones.A building in the village of Sienna had some yellow, gold, salmon, green, umber, terra cotta and grey all blended to perfection.

Pisa garageA red garage door in Pisa set in an umber building.

A green door in a soft taupe building.

A salmon wall with grey window surround.

 A gold wall also with a grey window surround.

Ironwork window set in a brick building.

A mosaic in those same golds and greys.

Even the marble complied with the color scheme.

As did the vegetation.

With views like this, it is no wonder artists use colors like raw umber and burnt sienna.  Italy was a veritable pallet of paint colors, blended to perfection over the centuries.

Kirk would like to live in a Tuscan house…in Santa Barbara.  Not a bad dream.