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!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Here's to Barb, on this 28th day of August...Wife, Mom, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, FRIEND.  Enjoying her day in HER mountains (as she likes to refer to them), today...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU!
Cutie pie, all her life - lover of animals (that's her and Peggy) and ANYTHING fun (showing off the panties from an early age)...ALWAYS fashionable, she.  Wonder Woman in so many ways...
Could rock a fringed leather jacket  and rhinestone cat-eyes like no other (pre-Chicos); kind to kittens; deadly with a bow and arrow.  I love her to death - we ALL love her to death.  Bobbie Jean - Barbara - Babe - Mom. FABULOUS at 77 - fabulous her entire life - here's to much more fabulousness yet to come!
Love you more...XOXOXO

Monday, August 25, 2014


Actually, it was because I needed a camera strap makeover - the lion was an afterthought.
My well-worn Nikon camera strap got a makeover this weekend.  A "challenge", of sorts, from a friend - a challenge to make a new camera strap for myself, after we did hers last week.  I took the easy way out and actually made a padded, quilted cover for mine, and slipped the original inside.
Handmade linen roses, antique buttons, and a Cracker Jack celluloid lion charm (saved for just the right project) later, I had myself a strap.  THEN I needed a bag...
The bag was actually born of necessity (I needed to experiment with pattern changes for a fabric I'm afraid to cut), and the fact that I am tired of dragging not only my camera bag along, but my hobo/shoulder bag as well - leaving me weighted down on both shoulders and looking like the quintessential tourist wherever I went.
A sturdy Home Dec fabric for the outside - filled with batting and custom quilting.  Large Bakelite button and grommets with leather ties - bohemian fun, this one.
Large enough (but not TOO large - the perfect shoulder bag size) to house my small DSLR camera case and my everyday essentials at the same time (I love me a good wallet with someone else's name on it - and I have SEVERAL).  This will be fabulous for travel, consolidating my two essential bags into one.  And the pattern "kinks"/changes worked out perfect enough to for me to gather the nerve to cut that next project.  Here's to a little creative fun in your week ahead...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


For an outing full of Colorado history and scenery, there's a steep little dirt road that snakes its way up and over one of the richest mountains in the world.  Room enough for (BARELY) two cars to pass (SLOWLY) THISCLOSE!  This is the OH MY GOD ROAD.  Drive it for yourself, through some video magic at the bottom of this post.
This old nine-mile road connects the two former Boom Towns of Idaho Springs and Central City, Colorado. Officially named the Virginia Canyon Road, with the locals referring to it as the Oh My God Road, it climbs at about a 7% grade, to an elevation of 9,400 feet.  Paved at the top of the switchbacks, you need to be a little cautious of the narrower stretches of the loose gravel road (no guardrails on this one), slowing for any oncoming cars and/or bicyclists.
Dad and I spied this mine from the road, hidden in the trees, and decided to do a little photo exploring.  We climbed up a treacherous shale hill (one step forward and three slides back), before hitting the top and realizing there was a really nice trail leading up, further back behind us.  This had been a pretty big operation at one time, as evidenced by the tailings left behind.
Be mindful of private property signage; otherwise, you're free to explore.  The old mines have shafts that drop down hundreds of feet, with tunnels that branch out at several levels.  This creates a very real danger of cave-ins.  When in doubt about what is underfoot, PLEASE check out the old mines and buildings from well-worn trails or roads - use that zoom lens and play it safe.
Up, over, and down the other side, through the ghost town of Nevadaville (there are a few modern day houses sprinkled in this little valley); this road takes you through the heart of another old mining operation from days gone by.
Spy something like this old mine opening?  DEFINITELY do not enter - take that picture from afar.  This one has been sealed off with a grate, but there are plenty more in these mountains where these precautions have not been taken.  Gases inside are another hazard, in addition to deep drop offs.  Play it safe!
The Lace House at the top of Central City - and views from the neighboring hills (I have no idea about the golden calf in the two right side photos, but I liked it) - the amount of gold tailings dotting the hills is incredible in "this neck of the woods".
"And now for something completely different"...I found this time-lapse video someone made of driving the OMG Road from Idaho Springs, down through Central City and over the mountains to Nederland and beyond (another gorgeous drive). No need to watch the entire thing, unless you're so inclined. A few minutes and you've got the idea (the OMG Road/Central City portion will take you halfway through the video, plus, I get sick motion sick watching these things)...the gravel road starts at about 38 seconds in.
How do I GET to the Oh My God Road, you might ask?  Located about an hour west of Denver, take I-70 to exit 241 in Idaho Springs.  You'll follow Colorado Blvd. into town.  At the fork in the road, stay to the right, and take the second right you come to, onto Virginia Canyon Road.  That's where the pavement ends and the fun begins!