Summer Vacation 2018: London and Beyond!

So this past August I took an amazing trip to London and Paris with my two friends Pam and Darlene. We had a blast, saw tons of awesome stuff, and walked miles and miles and miles!  I know I probably should have written all this stuff down sooner, but we did a LOT, so the prospect was a bit overwhelming! However, with Holidailies, I figured what better time to finally get all these great memories recorded for posterity!



My friend Darlene was already in London with her brother visiting family, so Pam and I travelled together. We flew on British Airways which I highly recommend as it was probably one of the best flying experiences I've ever had! Even in coach the seats were comfortable and there was plenty of legroom. We had two large meals, free wine, and new movies to view on our own personal viewing screen (also free!)! Since the flight to Heathrow was overnight, however, I only watched 1 movie (Avengers: Infinity War) and spent the rest of the time trying to sleep. We arrived early afternoon to beautiful sunshiny weather. Originally Darlene was going to meet us, but she was not able to, so Pam and I decided to just take a cab to the hotel rather than fight the Tube with all our bags and stuff. It worked out perfectly, and we were able to see a lot of the city as we were driven in. 





The hotel Darlene chose (Park Plaza Waterloo) was really nice and in a perfect location just around the corner from Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament, and the London Eye. The Tube and bus stops were all right across the street! Pam and I had a chance to unpack and relax a little before Darlene arrived and we hit the ground running! The Hotel had a free evening reception for the upper three floors which included salads, snacks, and wine or soda. It was really nice and there was lots of food to choose from (we did learn , however, that it is best to get there right when the reception starts, as if you're even a half hour late there will be very little food left!), and the view from the observation deck was spectacular! After eating, we went for a walk and headed down towards the Thames river to check out the London Eye (but didn't ride it ... not yet!). We spotted Big Ben on the other side of the Thames all covered in scaffolding as it's undergoing a refurbishment at the moment. It is also silent, as the famous bells have been shut off while the work is being done to protect the workers. It will only chime on special occasions such as New Year's Eve, and the refurbishment is expected to take until 2021. We've already decided we have to come back to London that year so we can hear the "bongs"!

London eye2

London eve2

After wandering around until after sunset, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the adventure that awaited us! In just over a week we will visit London, Warwick Castle, Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Paris! 


So, I had a wonderfully successful weekend - I got my cards finished for the annual Holiday Card exchange I participate in, and got a really good start on the "friends and family" cards. And the Packers won, so YAY! But, sadly, Navy lost to Army, so boo on that! Anyway, the Holiday Cards are in the mail as we speak, and I couldn't be happier with them! Here's a sneak peek:


I used the Hero Arts "Snowy Scene" stamp as well as the Hero Arts blue ombre stamp pad to give it a twilight/nighttime feel. I cut that panel out using one of Simon Says Stamp's Basic Stitched Rectangle Dies, and adhered it to a pre-folded white card base. I don't remember which stamp set either of the sentiments are from, though, but I think it turned out really nice! Plus they were super easy to mass-produce! I'm all about making my life easier, with less stress and more fun, and I highly recommend that approach to the holidays! Cheers!

Atascadero Art and Wine Stroll and Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Last Friday the City of Atascadero had their annual "Light Up the Downtown" Holiday Ceremony, and combined it with the quarterly Art and Wine Stroll event. It was cold, but not raining, so I decided to go after work. The Community Band played traditional Christmas carols at the City Hall, and a choir group from one of the local schools performed as well. There was a hot cocoa/coffree station set up for the kids and those who did not wish to partake in the Wine tasting. I was pleased to see TONS of people out exploring the quaint little downtown, and I got to check out some of the new businesses.

The wine tasting was $20.00 that included the wine glass, and they gave out a map showing which downtown businesses had wineries pouring, and/or art displayed, or if they just had water or snacks. I was really surprised to see it was a REAL glass, not the plastic ones they've handed out at the past couple of wine tours. It's really nice, but it was big, bulky, and heavy, and was difficult to carry around while trying to take pictures because it didn't fit in the wine glass holder I'd bought a few years ago specifically for these events. Luckily I was able to find places to set my glass down periodically! Unluckily I have tossed the map, so I don't remember some of the wines I tried (there were a LOT!). For example, this one in the picture below I recall as really enjoying, and I can see from a failed attempt at making a video of the event that is was Opolo Winery, but I can't recall exactly which wine it was. I also can't recall the name of the lady who made the cookies, but they were good, too! She paired different types of cookies, such as the chocolate peppermint one picture below, with the different wines being poured. Very unique indeed!


This group, Sharine and the Moonlighters, was so good! I think I remember seeing them at an event just recently (Taco Day on Traffic Way, maybe?), and thought they were really good then. I stayed and listed to them play several songs, and they lead singer even played the flute! I really enjoyed them, and hope to see them at a future event (The Sweetheart Stroll is coming up!). 


Ha! I love this lighted WINE sign! 


And this law firm's letter board is very fun and festive, too!


Fossil Wine Bar is new to the downtown, and I really loved the funky atmosphere inside! I'm looking forward to stopping in there sometime to just sit and enjoy a glass of wine!


DiGiovanna is a new winery to this event, I believe, and this Siciliani Rosso was really good! I hope they'll come back again!


I made back down to the City Hall in time for the countdown to the lighting ceremony. It's really pretty now that all the lights are lit on the Rotunda Building and around the light posts surrounding the Sunken Gardens! It's super festive and really feels like Christmastime!


Justin Winery is one of my all-time faves, and this was the first time North County Pilates has participated in this event, so it was fun to see inside the studio. 


This cute little vintage/antique shop wasn't open this time, but I really like their window display! This was really about as far as I made it - I never even crossed Traffic Way to check out the wineries set up over there! Honestly there were close to 20 wineries pouring, I think, and only a few of them had the 1 ounce pouring spout attached to the bottles, so I got a LOT of wine for my twenty bucks! It was, as always, a really fun event, and I'm SO glad there was nice weather for it! I really feel in the Holiday Spirit now! Bring on Christmas! Cheers! 


December Calendar Page 2018

Towards the end of last year, I hand-stamped my 2018 calendars, and each month I've been sharing the calendar page I made for that month on Instagram. I thought for Holidailies I would share December's page here. I started with the 5x7 blank calendar from Taylored Expressions, and stamped a scene using the adorable "Ready Set Snow" stamps and coordinating dies from Lawn Fawn.  I coloured it using Prismacolor Pencils and blending it out with gamsol, but you could use whatever you like - alcohol markers, watercolors ... really the sky's the limit! I think it turned out really cute, and now I kinda wish I'd kept this set instead of selling it on eBay with a bunch of other stamps! Ah, well! Live and learn! Have a great day! Cheers!



Monthly Resolutions - December 2018

I haven't done a Monthly Resolutions post for several months, but since I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging on a regular basis, coming up with some resolutions or goals for the month of December seems like a good idea. The whole idea of doing monthly resolutions was originally conceived by Kim, and while I'm not sure if she's still doing them, I'm all for giving credit where it's due. Since I know this will be a busy month, I'm going to try to keep my goals fairly easy and attainable so I don't stress myself out too much. 

So, for the month of December I resolve to:

  1. Participate in Holidailies, and post a blog entry everyday.
  2. Participate in December Reflections and post a photo everyday.
  3. Create and mail out Christmas cards by 12/16/18.
  4. Finish colouring my 2019 calendar pages.
  5. Finish reading Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley
  6. Come up with Goals/Resolutions for 2019.

OK, I think that's enough to deal with this month! I hope you all have a great December, and accomplish all you want to! Cheers!

Christmas Stamp Display

Now that we've turned the calendar page to December, it's time to switch out the stamps in my rubber stamp display case from Autumn/Halloween to Winter/Christmas.  While the majority of my stamps are now clear cling stamps instead of wood-mount rubber stamps, I still have a few Christmasy wood-mount stamps to put in my display case to use as decoration, as well as  inspiration for my Christmas cards. The ornament stamps and the champagne glass are all from Stampa Barbara. The wintery forest scene with the deer in the middle box is from Hero Arts, the Merry Christmas sentiment stamp above it is by Inkadinkado, the angel on the bottom is Acey Deucy, and the whimsical tree with ornaments is another Hero Arts stamp. I'm not sure if I'll use a wood-mount stamp for my Christmas cards this year, or if I'll go with an easier-to-use cling stamp, but whichever I decide, I need to get on it quickly! Christmas will be here before we know it! Cheers!



Holidailies 2018 Day 1

Hello, and welcome back to my blog! I know it's been a hundred years since I've posted an actual blog entry here, but sorry, not sorry, because I've been busy living life! OK who am I kidding, I’ve actually just been working pretty much all the time with a little bit of living thrown in, and generally just so very exhausted from all the working and living and stuff, that I haven’t had the energy to do much of anything, and ... Phew!

Anyway, I do want to get back into blogging and what better time to jump back in than with Holidailies!! Strangely enough, I'm a little nervous about doing Holidailies because I'm SO out of practice writing every day, but I'm also excited to start writing again. My goal is to write a blog post every day for the month of December, and hopefully I’ll be able to continue writing into the New Year!

This month I'm also participating in December Reflections, a daily photo project, so expect to see a lot of pictures here as well. By far the biggest thing to happen to me in 2018 was my trip to London, England, and Paris, France in August with my friends Pam and Darlene. We had a blast, and I'm excited to share it with you all! And, of course, all things Christmas - from my modest decorations, Christmas card designs, activities, and the infamous Christmas Letter, I'll be dropping it all right here!

So Happy Holidailies, everyone, and wish me luck!  Cheers!