Thursday, September 22, 2011

Slipping quietly into Autumn....

I realized today that I haven't posted in a  while and reflecting on the last month, I guess it's just because all has been quiet. The weather has been remarkable with fall approaching (today actually). I started belly dancing classes this week and had so much fun! Having lost 32 pounds so far this year, I found myself quite proud of my new/old body and wearing my fabulous jingling hip scarf made me so happy to be alive! Last week my sister invited us on a trip to Denver to the annual Italian festival - which I couldn't pass up. It was little more than a street festival with many overpriced vendors selling some great smelling foods and tangible goods that I wished I could buy but the budget doesn't allow right now. Oh well, just less junk to clutter the house. I grabbed a crocheting gig with a girl who has found instant success on etsy. Orders are coming in so fast for her she can't keep up. So I am helping her crochet cute little animal hats for babies and getting paid, quite fairly, to do something I so love - while babysitting for my own precious granddaughter during the day. Does it get better than this?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Belly Dancing Nanny Granny

I decided today to take a plunge into a life-long dream of mine. I signed up for belly dancing classes! Still on my high from my extraordinary mini-vacation, all sorts of things are going through my head of what I want to do. These classes are a "sign" that I should be doing this. I recently found myself at the store-front of a business offering these classes and mentioned to my husband how much I wanted to learn. Lo and behold, one of the local coupon businesses offered 8 belly dancing classes today for an unbelievable price of $19. I couldn't resist. Got my eyes on one of these now:

How fun are these? I convinced my sister to take the classes with me - this is going to be a total blast!...... Sheik? Fetch my camel!

Monday, August 15, 2011

An Amazing Mini - A Small Tribute to 2 wonderful people...

Just arrived home from one of the most amazing mini-vacations I've ever had. Though I'd been to Las Vegas more times than I could count, this one was over and above the rest.

My sister and her husband surprised me and my husband with an all expenses paid trip to "Sin City". As if that weren't enough in itself, they flew us out there on their private jet - AWESOME!!!

Now THIS is the right way to do this!

And I'm scared to death of flying...... (that's my beautiful sister and her doting husband)...

So off we went to our next adventure. We were greeted at the airport with a classy limousine......

And arrived at our destination, The Encore Hotel (WOW!) around 7:00pm. (it's the one in the back)

After we checked in to this most amazing SUITE (SWEET lol - and, yep, they footed the bill for this too).......

(Yes, that's a television in the wall)..... We then went out on the strip to see some of the sights. The water show at the Bellagio (my husband had never seen it), the inside of the new Cosmopolitan (where a friend of mine works as a massage therapist), the gazillion high end shops that line every hallway of every hotel chain, and so much more - I can't remember it all.  TAXI!!! We headed back to our rooms after pulling on a few slot handles and called it a night. My sister said there were many surprises in store for us in the coming hours.

Saturday morning had us all eating way too much at a breakfast buffet in the hotel. At $35 per person, my husband and I basically said "screw" the diet! An hour and 10 pounds later, we went our separate ways from my sister and her husband as they had some things to take care of. My husband and I ventured out to find the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop run by Rick of "Pawn Stars".  It was over a 5 mile walk in 103 degree heat - each way.

That's hubby in front of the "Old Man's" car.  Three hours later, and 10 pounds lighter from sweating (thank GOD I ate all that food at breakfast!) we got back to our room. Just enough time to get ready for the big night. My husband had no idea what was planned, as the three of us (Carolyn/sister, Dave/Brother-in-law and me) decided to surprise him. We were treated to an elegant dinner at the Palms in Caesars Palace, served by this great little Italian man named Mimo (he looked like a Mimo!). Chicken Marsala was my dish. Chicken Parmagiana, sweet wine, breads, crab and beautiful salads dressed the rest of the table. On to the show....... TAXI!!! (The taxi drivers were so much fun! - I asked one if we were in the Cash Cab and without missing a beat he said "You answer question correctly, you get free ride. You answer wrong you pay me double Bwaahahaha!)

Some quick background....My husband and I are HUGE fans of "America's Got Talent" and ever since we witnessed Terry Fator start his claim to fame when he won, my husband has yearned to see him - so that's where we went. To one of the the funniest shows on the face of the earth!

Leaving with our sides aching, we are convinced Terry Fator's  gifts are God-given. And what a generous man as well. Terry Fator donates huge portions of his wealth to charities such as children's cancer societies and American Veteran services. I would see this show over and over without reservation.

With the night still young, we wanted to see more. I suggested a walk downtown (but only after changing out of the formal, super uncomfortable actually). TAXI!!!!

One word........ Ewwwwww! Ha ha ha! He was dressed as Cupid, shooting a plastic arrow at whomever was brave enough to walk within the arrow's trajectory. And he looked just like Gallagher (the blurred effect of this photo was not on purpose, but you should thank me for it anyways - trust me). We thought HE was weird, until we saw the rest of the street.....

Sis, Me, Austin Powers, and Snoop Dog (no, not in that order).  

Who would have ever put THIS combination of characters together? Spock and Pee Wee Herman. Pee Wee let out one of his famous laughs - hysterical!

HA! I KNEW he was still alive!

Really??? Rod Stewart and Edward Scissorhands??? Who thinks of this stuff???

My husband couldn't resist being near an Avatar!

If you haven't seen the ceiling show in downtown Las Vegas, you haven't lived. As a matter of fact, if you haven't been to see Downtown Las Vegas you have no idea how life is cheating you! I saw a pirate woman's bare breasts hanging out that would've made a porn star cry with envy, we watched as people were careening over our heads on zip-lines...... and then we stepped into a casino. I won $165 on a slot machine and then we went back to our rooms, exhausted... TAXI!!!

Sunday required that we skip breakfast - we were still bloated from the night before. Ok, I had a granola bar. I received a text from my sister that said "Dolphins or Sharks" and hoping she didn't mean which one did we want to eat, I went with Dolphins. And then she decided on Sharks - at Mandalay Bay Aquarium.

 This fish pond (See? I can take clear pictures too!)

Me and hubby in this beautifully decorated aquarium

Jellyfish and the Ramagos - sounds like a new rock group!

Shark! I mean........ Candy gram!

 I LOVE touching the stingrays!

You don't get to see this "side" of a shark very often!

A quick, lighter, lunch at "Red White and Blue" American fare, then back to the hotel - we were told there was one more surprise (this one I was not privy to!). Back to the hotel to change.... yep....... TAXI!!!
This was going to be a less formal affair this evening so a quick change into something casual but nice, and we were on our way once again (do these folks EVER slow down?)  No taxi this time - just a hop, skip and a jump over to the Polazzo to see.......

The Jersey Boys!
This is the story of Fankie Valli and the Four Seasons. All I can say is OH MY! WHAT A SHOW! Now, keep in mind, I am NOT a "Musical" kind of person - I actually despise musicals having grown up in New York and always being surrounded with Broadway "tune-age" - bores me to tears. But this was nothing like that. This was no less than explosive!  The set, stage, costumes, singing, acting and whatever else I'm missing, was as classy as it gets. The audience was on there feet with adoration and appreciation of what this group brought to our radios and into our lives. Absolutely stunning! I'm embarrassed to think I was reluctant to attend. I would see it again - as my Brother-in-Law has 5 times now (No wonder - you leave this show as happy as your soul can possibly be!).

Having skipped a regular dinner this evening (due to the late lunch), we were all a little in need of some sort of snack. We stopped at a little coffee shop in our hotel and chatted for a couple of hours before turning in around 1am. Another incredible evening.

Monday came so very quickly. There's always a list when you leave Las Vegas of all the things you still didn't see or do. It was no different for us - though it felt like we'd seen every attraction known to man in just 3 short days! I still hadn't seen my dear friend Wendy but I had an hour or so to kill before we left so I gave her a call. 

It had been 5 years since we had seen each other. I just love reunions - don't you? It's hard to catch up with so little time, but since we're in touch most of the time, we managed to recap 5 years in 30 minutes. I love my friends.

Before leaving Las Vegas, I decided I needed a few more pictures of my weekend's surroundings. The hotel's theme is butterflies. The floors are adorned with pretty mosaics of this fantastic insect which also happens to be my personal totem animal. 

Butterflies are the symbol of change. No one knows about change or embraces and welcomes it like I do. Change is such a positive thing. It's a fascinating thing, It's an adventurous thing. You never know what it will bring. It's so mysterious, how can you not love it?

My life changed this weekend. Not a lot - but it changed nevertheless. I don't know what I did to deserve this incredible gift from two people I love so dearly. Had I been my normal self a couple of weeks ago, I never would have allowed my sister and her husband the opportunity to grace me with this most generous gift.I always act too proud. I'm not sure why I did it this time but I've never been so happy about making a decision in my life. The trip was one that will go down in my personal "Best Vacations Ever" - no doubt. I thank my sister and brother-in-law from the bottom depths of my heart and also all the strange characters, waiters, singers, comedians, taxi cab drivers and friends that blessed me with their presence on this great adventure - it's always about the people, isn't it?

Geez........We're ALWAYS eating!!!

What a kook! He noticed the very strange custom of the Asian tourists always photographing their food - what the hell is that all about anyways?

Friday, July 22, 2011

A New Day..... A New Craft

So I'm in the flag business too now. LOL  How cute are these? They looked great against my picket fence outside, but inside they were adorable around the mirrors and doorways! Very Shabby Chic and FUN! I have them in several different colors on my etsy shop at  http://www.etsy/com/shop/dianasgrl with lots more colors to come.

Crafts are a MAJOR part of my life - as in, if I'm not crafting, I'm not living (nor happy)! I was running a business that taught every craft imaginable (ok, slight exaggeration). I've had my etsy shop for several years, have a website , I'm on facebook (Crafty U),  I make my own patterns, I give my wares for gifts all year long and feel there isn't a craft I don't know how to do. I'm always looking for something new, searching for the next trend. Then I take what I find and expand on it or alter it to make it uniquely mine. What's my favorite? I can't really say. When I get bored with something, I just move on to something new. What do I know how to do best? Probably crocheting. I learned when I was 8 and never stopped - I can crochet in my sleep! But that gets boring too. I have an entire craft room filled with every craft item you can imagine - so when I want to move on to something else, I just review what's in front of me and conjur up something new. It's what I live for! (Next to being in the mountains)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deckers, Colorado

Ahhhhhh........ spent a beautiful and relaxing day by the creek near Deckers, Colorado. Deckers is located 22.8 miles from the intersection of Hwy 24 and SH 67 in Woodland Park. The picture above was taken at a rest spot we found located 15.7 miles into the trip. The weather was amazing at 86 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Simply beautiful.

We found our way there after several garage sale stops. I have another remarkable tale of how I found EXACTLY what I was looking for today (this always tickles me!). I had placed an ad on craigslist this morning for fabric scraps for a new craft project. One of the first stops we made today gave me just such fabric. The girl offered me a box full of fat quarters (for quilting - which by the way, I NEVER do!) for a whopping 50 cents! Her husband then said, if you take the fabric, we'll throw in this Pfaff Quilter's Tool Box kit that's just missing the needles. Of course I took it, and did some research when I got home. I found the needles for $3.96 on ebay, ordered them, then placed the kit up for auction. Did I mention that this Tool Box has a value of $259.00??? The girl who gave it to me even told me what the value was but also said, "I'm too lazy to put it on ebay so you can have it and do that if you want". Amazing day.

Oh, this is me by the way (I just love this hat that I found in a little boutique in Manitou Springs!) lovin' life!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garage Sale Day - on a Thursday?

Attending garage sales is a HUGE part of my life. I've been searching for that ultimate item this way for at least 25 years now. I have made a good deal of money over the years buying and reselling collectibles that I have studied to be worth investing in. With my own garage loaded with items today, I find it hard to keep accumulating without releasing - some of these items, though I don't use them, I'm attached to them. I have a really good eye for a great bargain. I have bought an authentic Roseville pottery tea set for $5.00, I bought a 14kt gold and diamond ring for $1.00, and have furnished my entire living room for $60.00. The list is endless. Though you see lots of stories on tv about finding trash and turning it to treasure, I can assure everyone, it's not as easy as it looks. My husband and I go garage saling EVERY weekend - and not just in the summer. We go every month we can find them. We go to night sales, last minute sales, out of the beaten path sales and wherever else we can find them. Often, on Saturdays, we are gone from 8am and come back to the house around 5pm. It's like a full time job - but a lot more fun.

I find this to be a spiritual adventure for me as well as a way of life.  I will often lie in bed and think of things I hope to find during our outings, and lo and behold, I'm hardly ever let down. Today I was hoping to find fabric remnants. I have a little craft project going on that I'll share with you shortly.  We pulled up to a sale held by a charter school, and there they were.......... a stack of 12" square fabric samples (maybe 20 different kinds) for a whopping .50 cents!

We are also HUGE pet lovers! The dogs we get to see during our ventures are astounding. I think this is one of the many reasons I love Colorado so much.... there's so many animal lovers here! With 2 dogs and 2 cats of my own, I fit right in. But I also meet some amazing people. I can tell who's approachable for conversation and who's not interested. For the most part, most people are pretty friendly. I also find that you can get a much better deal if you just warn up to people first. We actually made friends with a couple that was leaving the state to live in a motor home park in North Carolina. This was of great interest to us as we also hope to do that type of traveling some day...........

Monday, July 11, 2011

A new art form - for me, that is

I'm dabbling into photography, not so much as a primary art form, but secondary to have things to add to my current mediums. I love turning pictures into something else - cards, tiles, etc. Here's my latest creation...

And the saying is:  "As the Sunflower glows in the warmth of the sun, so does my soul in the presence of you."

I took this picture of the sunflower while it was still in the refrigerator at the florist's. Some photoshopping to blur the white flowers in the background....... et voila!

And I can't leave out another of my favorites, Lilacs!

Which says: "The Lilac's swift passing of its blooms and unmistakeable fragrance reminds us to live life in the moment. This beautiful life can be so short" - this is in memory of my beloved parents. This was taken in my backyard during the super short season of the Lilac.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This last week...... WOW!

This has been one adventure filled week! As I mentioned on 06/28, I made it to the top of Pike's Peak (once again) but this time it was via the Cog Railway.... an incredibly gorgeous, scenic train trip that ascends a remarkable 7 thousand feet to the top. Amazing! (I just wanted to post a couple of pictures from the top)
They say on a clear day, you can see 5 different states at the same time!

Here it is, less than a week later, I find myself attending Motorocycle Training School that I had enrolled in last month. This intense course lasted only two days, but consumed about 20 hours of those 48 hours. Exhausted, but happy (I passed the exam!), I can now remove that desire from my Bucket List. I may never actually own a motorcylce (I look ridiculous in a helmet) but I now know how to ride one. I'm thinking more on the lines of a vintage pink scooter - you just never know. (I could so see me on this!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trains and Friends

Today was a good day. We took a fabulous train trip up to Pike's Peak which stands at 14.110' above sea level. Leaving town, it was very warm at 87 degrees. At the summit of this beautiful mountain, it was around 40 degrees - a welcomed cool to the hot day. What was even more interesting than our trip, was the family of three that sat across from us on the train. The Mhere family from Zimbabwe was delightful!

Currently living in Topeka, Kansas, they offered us a lot of laughs! We provided them with tourist type information of stops they should make while here in Colorado Springs. They invited us to their home in Topeka, but not needing any corn anytime soon, we couldn't find a need to go there! I asked them if they like zoos (we have a great one in town).  The jokes continued with "Well, we don't really like zoos. We have lions for dogs in Zimbabwe!". We'll be inviting them over for dinner this week. I need to know more about this crazy bunch of people. What I really did learn today, though, was that PEOPLE are the real reason I love to travel. And we didn't have to go far to meet this clan - it was practically in our own backyard!