Monday, October 6, 2014


"...gonna set my soul, Gonna' set my soul on fire"...Viva Las Vegas ~ Elvis Presley

This week's Travel Tuesday finds me playing in my own backyard.  "Gambling Capital of the World", "Lost Wages", "Sin City", "Glitter Gulch", and "The Entertainment Capital of the World" - it's VEGAS!  Once a year my dad goes hunting in CO, and Mom hops a plane to visit us here in the sparkling desert.  We pack as much fun as we can into 10 days, which isn't hard to do in this town.  In addition to the obvious (slot machines are in every grocery store and gas station in town - they're not just for casinos anymore!), are the shows.
Seven in ten days this year (eight, if you count the new Jane Fonda movie, the same day as the last show we took in).  And, after taking my Dad to a few Burlesque shows for his 80th birthday this summer, I figured "turnabout was fair play", and YES, I took my Mom to Chippendales!  My daughter treated the three of us girls to the fabulous Broadway production of KINKY BOOTS (if you get the chance, GO!), with the remaining days filled with shopping, Blue Man Group, Viva Veracruz (a Mexican National dance extravaganza that Planet Hollywood brought in to celebrate Mexican Independence Day), Steve Connolly/Spirit of the King (you should always throw an Elvis show into the mix in Vegas), Chippendales, Rita Rudner, and Legends in Concert.
Our choices for entertainment are plentiful and varied here - this past weekend we got the chance to see the great Rod Stewart, yet again (the quintessential showman), and Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts blues band the following night.  My friend, Jackie, and I love nothing more than good blues and old rock.  WAY up front for both shows - fabulous THISCLOSE seats - it's been one hell of an entertaining fall, one month in!
But, the fun isn't ALL to be had right on Las Vegas Boulevard - The Strip, as it's affectionately know. Fremont Street, downtown, is the original Vegas.  A street of firsts - the first hotel was built here in 1906; first telephone went in in 1907; first street paved in 1925; first Nevada gaming license; first traffic light; first elevator; and the first high rise.  It also boasts the first structure designed, from the ground up, to be an actual casino...the Golden Nugget.  (These three and the one on the upper left below are stock photos - credit where credit is due.  The rest of the Vegas shots are all me, baby!).  It's changed a bit over the years, but the iconic landmarks are still in place.
By 1992, more than 80% of the Vegas casino market was on The Strip.  Looking to breathe new life into the Fremont Street area, a 5-block strip of the street was closed to traffic, and a 90 ft. high, 90 ft. wide, and 4 block long (1500 ft. in length) video screen was erected overhead - completed in 1995. Dazzling light shows, nightly, are shown on the Viva Vision Screen, comprised of 12.5 million energy-efficient LED lamps.  The 6 minute show changes hourly, with high resolution imagery in perpetual motion, and concert quality sound resonating under the "big top"!  Why, there's even a zip line under there, originating from the massive "Slotzilla" at the east end of the street.
They tried to keep the integrity of the original casino fronts and signage.  In fact, Las Vegas has been paramount in bringing back the original old neon signs from years gone by.  Restored and placed strategically throughout the downtown area - we're happy to see them enjoying new life.
Vegas Vicki and Vegas Vic have always been there - and always will be.  They're married, you know.
One of our 10 nights found my Mom, another friend from CO, and me at a show on The Strip - after which the friend inquired about what Fremont Street looked like after all these years, which was all I needed to hear.  Always "game" for an adventure and a chance to show someone the sights and sounds, we headed downtown for an hour at 10:30 p.m...
Putting us there just in time for the 11:00 light show - psychedelic merriment by graphic artist John Van Hamersveld on the massive screen overhead, while Time of the Season, by The Zombies, resonated throughout Fremont.
Lucky enough to have remembered to grab my real camera for the evening...the colors and images were eye dazzling!
Peace, love, and pop images, circa 1968.  There are also various stages positioned throughout the area, with live concerts going on during the evening...and it's all free!
Groovy cats...and kittens!  Dig it?!
While I know a lot of visitors with small children head to Fremont Street because of this draw (and because of the "free" thing - I get it), PLEASE be forewarned that it's really NOT as "family oriented" as one might want to believe.  This is still a gambling town, first and foremost!  Street performers, many in various stages of undress, line the four blocks during the raucous evening hours.  It's a different atmosphere from The Strip - definitely something everyone coming through town should experience at least once.  The people watching is PRIME - it's just not a place for the little ones.  REALLY!
You WILL be amongst a crowd on any given night.  But, it's actually fun...even if it's for an hour only. There's just something about Fremont Street that you won't get anywhere else in town!  Maybe, thankfully!
Universally considered to be the "Neon Capital of the World", as well.  Where else are you going to find a neon showgirl seemingly stepping out of a huge neon martini glass, complete with olive (I admit to being positioned at just the right angle to make this appear so).  You can see it all, here...and you will.  Viva Las Vegas!  There's music below, if you can find the arrow in the middle...

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Every once in awhile, I learn something new that really sets me in motion.  I was sitting during last night's hellacious rainstorm, thinking, "It's ALIVE", as I looked at the results from a class I took two weeks ago. Mind you, I had a a sweet out of town visitor, for 10 days, in between the class and this (meaning this has happened in less than a week's time)...yes, it IS alive!
These will be used as gifts, all...what started as a pearl hand-knotting class producing a single strand of  black Swarovski Pearls, has now produced six (6) single strands of Swarovski Pearls.  You know a teacher is pretty great by the amount of interest she can generate in her pupils, to want to carry on once they have left a class.  I knew, halfway into class, this was destined to become a favorite past time.
Thanks to Diane Schreiner - it's always a plus to find a teacher so impassioned about what she does that it rubs off on her students, almost immediately.  If you're a local, Diane will be teaching one more class this month (a little different from just pearls - CLICK HERE), before taking a hiatus.  Glad I got in when I did - I can't say enough great things about this wonderful woman - she created a monster (in a good way)!  Thank you, Diane...
May your weekend be happy and your cup runneth over!  XOXO

Saturday, September 20, 2014


We bought a ridiculously gorgeous, expensive wool blanket with every intention of taking scissors to it.  It then took me a couple of months to work up enough courage to actually do it! Splitting the cost with my Mom, on our way through the southwest, this summer - an idea that both of us had been mulling over for a few years, but never bringing it up to the other.  This summer we did - "How about sacrificing a wool Pendleton blanket for the sake of fashion accessories"?!
Hers was finished this week, and flew home with her to CO, just this afternoon.  Large hobo bag - a pattern modified to accommodate the design woven into the blanket; straps of my own design; with the addition of grommets and leather ties.
Lined with a heavy/sturdy brushed cotton/denim (so soft to the touch) in a gorgeous rust/brown.  Two zippered pockets in this - I salvaged the blue tag from the blanket to sew into the lining, under my own label.
Brass grommets and leather thongs cinch in each side.  Hesitation on my part, but this thing sewed like "butter"!
A large, thick, black Bakelite button carved into something reminiscent (at least to me) of a poppy design - the center reminded me of a SW conch, but it had me at the stylized look of a Georgia O'Keefe poppy.
While the body of the bag is mainly deep red and black, this rust/black design ran the length of each side of the blanket, making it perfect for the straps.
I'll show you the other substantial purchase I made, later - more of the gorgeous blanket for now.
One bag done - a second/mine to follow.  Fraternal in nature, they will be, though cut from the same cloth (this was a 39" x 68" blanket). Loved having my Mom here while this was in production...she provided that little "nudge" (the old "Atta' Girl!") of confidence I lacked on my own with this one - Mom's are like that, aren't they?!  My sewing skills and inspiration come from her - I am happy to be able to give a little of that back to her.  I think she quite possibly left here a happy camper today.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

"MANY HAPPY RETURNS" ~ LIMITED EDITION Bead Embroidery Swallow Necklaces...

They say a swallow always returns ~ to its home ~ to loved ones ~ to places familiar.
I returned to an artwork that I love, in the past few weeks - bead embroidery. Fashioned in the style of traditional swallow tattoos - a tattoo favorite of old-time sailors, symbolizing 5,000 nautical miles journeyed. A single swallow would oft times be tattooed at the beginning of a long sea voyage, and a second added upon a sailor's safe return home.
For me, it has been a return to the meditative handwork that I so adore. Each of these little swallows (2" X 2") is comprised of size 15 and Charlotte glass beads (these are one to two sizes smaller than regular seed beads - tiny beads for tiny birds), lovingly hand-stitched onto a stiff foundation, two beads at a time, over many, many evening hours.
The bead edging is applied one bead at a time, and similar to a blanket stitch.  Backed with vibrantly colored Ultrasuede (there is also a "stabilizer" between the finished bead work and Ultrasuede), and hung from a brass chain (necklace measures approx. 19", plus a 2" extender); each with a bit of "bling" - vintage rhinestone buttons, most often.
These four have winged their way to new homes, with a few more special orders in the works. The Etsy shop has been closed, for the time being.  HOWEVER, I am offering these, through the blog, as SPECIAL ORDER/LIMITED EDITION pieces.  No two will be exactly alike in color combinations (it's the way I've always worked, whether custom bags or jewelry).  $35.00 plus shipping ($32.00 each for orders of two or more), in your choice of main color. My email address is readily available on the sidebar of my blog, under the little envelope - drop me a line...let's talk!
My mom makes a return for some Vegas fun this week. May your week hold much of the same - may you soar high, sing sweetly, and always return to places familiar, beloved, and safe.  Many happy returns of the day!  XOXO

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Spider Monkeys...hate em!  Big, black, woolly spider monkeys!  Terrifying.  Goes back years, with a daily walk run past a spooky property where one hung in the trees during the warm months. Run, little kindergartners, run!  My brother had to corroborate the story that I told my parents about 5 years ago, after all this they just feel like bad parental figures that they never knew - and didn't really believe me at first.  Really, it's become something of a joke, but I could put my face on this woman's body (PLEASE put my face on that woman's body!), and this is my worst nightmare!
But last night I dreamed about hand-knotting pearls.  One of those dreams where you relive something you did during the day, ALL night long.  Learned this old art from a fabulous teacher here in Vegas - who knew there was really a trick to hand knotting pearls the right way!  LOVE this technique - had such a great time that  I know more are in the works for me.  Done in less than 2 hours, including instruction time, but dreamed about it all night long (in a good way) - at least there was no room for spider monkeys!

Monday, September 8, 2014


On the side of Lookout Mountain, in Golden, Colorado, sits a beautiful landscape that holds a peaceful shrine dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini - this is the Mother Cabrini Shine.
Although a Colorado/Denver native, this was one spot I had never been until I tagged along with a sister-in-law this summer.  Open to the public, free of charge, 365 days a year.  Mother Cabrini came to Denver in 1902 to work with the Italian immigrants and miners.  This is one of the ways she came to be known as the Patron Saint of Immigrants.  What is known today as the Mother Cabrini Shrine, was originally established as a summer camp for orphan girls at Mother Cabrini's Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver.  The land was purchased in 1909.
While no reliable source of water was known to exist on the property at the time, there were two barns and a spring house that had been built sometime in the late 1800s.  The only water was in a small pond next to the spring house.  All the water needed for drinking and cooking had to be brought up the canyon from a stream below.  The Stone House (middle right) was built between 1912/1914, as a summer dormitory for the orphan girls, and later serving as the convent for the Sisters of the Sacred Heart before the permanent convent building (left bottom) was completed in 1970.  The site is self-supporting, receiving no funding from the Archdiocese of Denver.
Mother Cabrini discovered a spring on the property in 1912.  A replica of the Grotto of Lourdes was built over the spring in 1929.  Demolished and replaced by the current sandstone grotto in 1959, the spring, which is housed in an 8,000 gallon tank, has never stopped running.
The mountain gardens surrounding the grotto and throughout the property are beautiful and serene, offering up some gorgeous Colorado vistas.
The property became a pilgrimage site in 1938, following the beatification of Mother Cabrini, and was established as a shrine in 1946 - the year she was canonized.  A 373-step stairway was constructed, following a path Mother Cabrini took to the top of the mountain.  Along this staircase, you will find beautiful mosaics depicting the Stations of the Cross, as well as numerous benches should you need to rest on your way to the top - it's quite a climb.
There is also a road running from the bottom to the top, for those not inclined to make the hike.  
In 1954, a 22 ft. carved statue depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus was mounted atop an 11 ft. base, and erected at the highest point of the site.
In 1912, Mother Cabrini took several sisters, and a few children from the orphanage, along what was (at the time) a cow path, to the base of the highest hill.  From there, leaving their buggy below, they climbed to the top where they gathered white stones - Mother Cabrini arranged them in the shape of a heart, surmounted by a cross - the Sacred Heart.  Those stones remain in the same position to this day, at the base of the statue, covered by a glass case.
An old wagon on the property, where we stopped to watch a large elk herd.  In the history of the site (there is a great little museum housed in the old spring house, also), it was mentioned that the girls would load up native stones for the construction of the Stone House, into horse drawn wagons.  I can only assume this may be the remains of one of those very conveyances.  For more information on this beautiful site, as well as travel directions, click on this link...MOTHER CABRINI SHRINE.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


A few minutes from the heart of downtown Denver, CO, on the grounds of the old Lowry Air Force Base, sits a gold mine of military aviation history - worth a look for the pilot, astronaut, and kid in all of us.  This is the WINGS OVER THE ROCKIES AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM.
We actually dropped by this site in January (hence the garland on the pole).  Opened in 1994, some pretty impressive military aviation history is housed within the 40,000 sq ft Hangar #1, built in 1939.  The area surrounding the former air base has been transformed as of late, and is now a fairly metropolitan area, including a beer garden/restaurant in one of the adjoining hangars, shopping and a gym across the way, and surrounding by houses and apartments.
The museum preserves the history of Lowry AFB's operations from 1938 to 1994 in its collections, archives, and research library.
Features of this museum's collection include the USAF's B-1A Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, as well as other military and general aviation aircraft - there are over 3 dozen aircraft in this collection.
Open daily, with exhibits and cockpit demonstrations hosted by volunteers and Civil Air Patrol Cadets.  The Museum also hosts summer Space Camp events.
The Museum hosts annual events, such as a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber Fly-In, the Annual Gala, and the Spreading Wings Award. We actually went there that day for a large antique show, in amongst the airplanes, and were surprised at the history we found.
Largest plane I believe I've ever seen - it was hard to get it all in one shot and get any type of perspective.
Bombs - every shape and form.  The B-61 Nuclear one is hanging from the parachute in the upper photo.
The Space and Rocketry Exhibit gives a nod to our aerospace industry and Colorado astronauts.  My dad is standing next to a lunar jet pack (until he calls and tells me what this actually is) he worked on (for NASA) as a Design Engineer for Martin-Marietta, "back in the day".  UPDATE:  As expected, I now know that the item in the case is a "Man Maneuvering Unit" of the first made, and designed for use in repairs made outside spacecraft, while in flight.
Shiny and impressive!
There's also a little something for the Star Wars fans - an X-Wing Fighter from the movies...part of another special exhibit, that stayed on full-time.
Large-scale models in the entryway.  You can find all the information you could ever want to visit this fabulous museum by clicking right here... WINGS OVER THE ROCKIES AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM.  Up, up and away...Happy Tuesday!