Thursday, August 23, 2007

Our Trip to Ecuador!

My dear husband and I went on a mission trip to Ecuador in July. We went to our international missionaries annual conference and did a VBS for the kids. We went down there a day early so we could get acclimated. Quito is about 9500 feet above sea level so the air is thinner! Our friend Julie told us that it took months for her to be able to sing and get deep breathes so I don't know if one day made much of a difference. Really the main difference for me was that I could only sleep for a few hours at a time and then I would need to breathe deeply for a while. When we got home I slept for a week it seemed like. This is the view from our hotel. It was beautiful. This was taken in the morning from the top floor of Hotel Quito.

The first day our missionary friends took us to lunch in Mariscal at Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think it was the best restaurant that we went to the entire trip. It was definitely the best guacamole I ever had. Next we went to the Indian Market. Great for good buys. I bought a beautiful piece of handmade copper and gemstone jewelry. They had t-shirts, jewelry, pottery, purses, and many other handcrafted items. They sell fresh fruit and flowers on the streets for $1.00. The flowers were amazing. These lilies were everywhere in our hotel as well as roses.

The next day after we set up our rooms we went to Mitad del Mundo. This is a monument on the Equator. Lat/Long 0 degrees. The monument is actually a museum that showcases the many different people of Ecuador. Here is my dear hubby in front of the monument.

There are a lot of shops at the Equator and we bought several things for souvenirs there at good prices.

There is a shop that sells silver that I did not go to but my friend bought a necklace and a sterling silver Ecuador charm there for a really good deal. So check these shops out if you go. It is not like in the US where the shops near historical places are really high! There are some high prices but if you are careful you can get a good deal here.

The traffic is wild here. Taxis are reasonable and everywhere it seems. Don't try to find one at rush hour though. The drivers are very nice, in fact, the people are very nice and have wonderful manners.

This is a view near the Pool at our hotel. We only swan a couple of times because at night it is much cooler there. We loved eating outside at the hotel. They had really great fruit and juices. The guava and pineapple juice were great. You are not as hungry there it seems. I think it has to do with the altitude. We had pizza from Dominoes one night. It was good but not the same as we are used to.

These are the wonderful kids we got to teach at our VBS. We had eight teachers on our team. Our VBS was a sports theme and it was amazing how much more important soccer is in South America.

The kids were all really sweet and had a really great bond between them all like a close family. We were nervous the first day of how things would go and by the last day we were disappointed we had to leave them. If you have a chance to go on a mission trip that you feel like God has called you to go on - DO IT! It is hard to leave your family for even a week but it will be worth it to be part of reaching the world.

More Cards Today!

I have been working on cards this week. Here are a few of the sets I made. The first set is using Bold Butterfly. This is one of my favorite Stampin Up! sets. I used Perfect Plum, Pale Plum and Certainly Celery. The words are from different stamp sets. I orgainze my stamps by keeping all the words/expressions together so I can make cards for every occasion in each set. I did use a small flower from my Little Lady set. I added larger eyelets and sheer lavender dotted ribbon from Hobby Lobby (on sale, of course). I lined the back of the inside of the card with white because the cardstock was either dark or textured.

The next card is using Polka-dot Posies set by Stampin' Up. I love dots. This green paper is by Creative Memories and comes in orange and purple, too. The solid paper is also Creative Memories. Ink is by Colorbox. I added some orange dotted ribbon and also lined the inside in white. I love this stamp set so I would love to see your ideas for more cards posted below.

This next card is made with the Defintiely Decorative Daisy set by SU! By this time you may have figured out that I like to make larger cards as well as use larger stamps. Paper is Creative Memories. I added some pink and white ribbon to the pink card and orange to the other two color variations. I also used small brads or eyelets.

My last card is one of my first attempts at using Watercolor Pencils. My son Daniel bought me a set for Mother's Day. I used a Butterfly stamp by Stampendous. It reminds me of frilly nylon nightgowns I had when I was young :-) I added some swirls by Autumn Leaves and the word stamps are SU! Paper is Creative Memories. I have wasted a lot of white paper learning to line up the stamps but I am getting better at it. Don't give up if you are new to stamping, it will finally come together!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Don't You Love Pearls!

This is my latest jewelry creation. I love pearls. These are freshwater white and gray pearls accented with sterling silver and gray czech glass beads. The three large focal beads are jasper. The jasper is a white/peach/gray with rust colored veins. The matching earrings were made with coin pearls as the focal point.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My New Obsession - Card Making

Here is one of my first cards. I have been scrapbooking for a while but just recently started adding stamped images to some of my layouts. Now I have to start doing cards so I can stamp more!

This card is made with and Autumn Leaves Stamps. The print paper is Basic Grey. The solid paper is Bazzill. I also added some bargain ribbon from Michaels.

This next card is made with solid Creative Memories paper and some paper from those paper stacks. I used light blue ink make some coordinating paper with blueberries on navy. That is one thing I love about stamping. You can make your own print papers. The stamps are Stampin Up! I also added a little white ribbon trim. I like making the larger cards but you have to remember to put extra postage on them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Longest Garage Sale Vacation


I guess today is the day to get serious about my blog. My friend Kristi started her blog and from day one was meticulous about steady posting of articles and pics. Me…since I admire her perseverance I am making myself start…

My DH, kids and I just got back from vacation. I always think I am going to post my experiences somewhere so I can share my experiences good and bad. Mostly to save others from the bad and share the good.

We started out on the road this year bound for the longest garage sale in Corridor 127. It goes through 5 states, from Ohio to Alabama. We went to sales in 2 states, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Before the sale we went on several site-seeing adventures. I wanted to take my boys to see some state capitals so we went up through Oklahoma from Texas to Jefferson City, Missouri. On the way we made a slight detour to Ozark, Missouri. After driving for about 8 hours we stopped at an antique shop called Riverview Antiques. I had read a review on the internet that said the reviewer found some great things there. I was a little disappointed because it was just a large old building separated into different booths that dealers rent. We have these everywhere in Texas so it was hardly a find. So, if you are looking for a quaint antique store with lots of character and buried treasures, this is not the place to go. Down the road is Lamberts Restaurant, “the only home of throwed rolls.” We got there right after it opened which is the only way to go because it fills up fast and when we left an hour later there was a line all the way down the porch. I can see why. It was great and all of my boys loved the throwed rolls. The food is a little pricey for family fare but worth it. Your meal is brought in a full-size skillet piping hot in record time. We barely got one of the “throwed rolls” (piping hot and very delicious) down when the skillet arrived. We had chicken fried steak topped with mashed potatoes and lots of cream gravy, green beans, and cucumber and onion salad. This is a large amount of food and that’s not all you get. They have pass-arounds like friend okra, potatoes and onions, etc. Everything was great and hot and fresh. The only thing I didn’t eat was the salad, not because it was bad just because we make it different in Texas so I was not used the sweet dressing. The wait staff was great and very friendly and professional. They were rated one of the 10 best places to take an exit to good eatin by USA Today. We spent about $55 with tips for 4 people. Worth it! Go if you get a chance. There are 2 other locations, one in Alabama and another in Missouri.

From Ozark we drove to Jefferson City. We stayed at the Days Inn that night. It was clean and the staff was professional, friendly and helpful. We ate dinner at Zesto’s. A BBQ/deli type restaurant, also highly rated on the internet. It was OK. We had a Polish sandwich and chili dogs between us. The dogs were about as good as Sonic which I cannot stand. The Polish sandwich was not even half as good as Der Wienerschnitzel. We spent about $25 and did not order drinks. My youngest would not finish his…

The next morning we visited the capital. It is beautiful and all of the Missourians were very friendly. The capital has a lot of exhibits. My boys liked the antique guns and Daniel Boone memorabilia. The ceiling is so beautiful. The pictures just don’t do it justice.

We were able to park close to the entrance for about fifty cents for an hour. We learned a lot about Missouri history, it was free except for parking and we didn’t have to spend a lot of time getting to and from the sites. Highly recommended!

From Jefferson City we drove to Saint Louis. We wanted to see the arch on our way to Frankfort, Kentucky. It was very impressive as was the Mississippi River.

We stopped for a quick lunch at a local favorite called Hodak’s. They are famous for their chicken. We got there at 11:30 and it was already crowed. Of course, THE game was on (whatever game the Cards are playing – I am a FAN!) the TVs in every room. This is a loud homey restaurant with great chicken and great prices. For $28 plus tip we had more than we could eat. We waited about 20 minutes for a table in non-smoking and about 20 minutes for our food but it was well worth it.

From Saint Louis we went through Illinois and part of Indiana to Lincoln City, IN. My DS is a big fan of Abe Lincoln so we had to see his boyhood home memorial. Another bargain stop. We pulled into the parking lot which was free and walked about 300 yards.

The Lincoln Living Historical Farm is a working pioneer homestead with a cabin, outbuildings, split rail fences, animals, gardens, and field crops.

Rangers in period clothing perform a variety of activities typical of the 1820s.

We were one of about 4 families that were there since it was late afternoon so the rangers were very attentive to us, explaining how that in Lincoln’s day eight people had lived in a small one-room cabin like the one we were in. They had actually made a saw horse that day with only tools they would have used in Lincoln’s day.

Our next stop was Frankfort, KY. We stayed at The Best Western Parkside. The staff was not very friendly and was not able to give us a non-smoking room as we had reserved. That night we ate at White Castle. IF you have not been there you should try it. We ate there when we went to NY. They have very small burgers about the size of a small roll.

The next morning we got up early and went to the capitol. This was a very beautiful capital and features 70 iconic columns, decorative murals and sculptures of Kentucky dignitaries. Inside there is a First Lady Doll Collection, changing history and culture exhibits. Daniel got a limited edition Abraham Lincoln pin so he was happy with this stop.

Now we are on the road in the biggest garage sale in the country. It is on 127. I did not realize just how many people would be selling. It was amazing. Most of them were dealers.

When I started garage saling years ago I would just look for bargains. Now I am more discerning since you can end up with too much clutter the other way. We look for just what we need or use all the time. I do collect several things. On this trip I found 3 Lefton pieces. My boys call it bumpy glass aka hobnail. I collect the colored iridescent glass by Fenton.

My best bargains were at a Methodist church near Frankfort. The church had rented booths inside and out. They must have been very reasonable because a lot of these people were not dealers and had great prices. I found a piece of blue iridescent hobnail glass for $3.00. I also collect light green Depression glass and I found a pitcher for $8.00. There was a lady selling her scrapbook supplies there also and I bought stamps, books, and a rolling tote from her.

On the way out we got some homemade peanut butter fudge for 50 cents a piece from the Depression glass lady. One thing that I miss about a small town is the homemade goodies and potluck dinners. Anyway, time to move on.

There were so many sales that I begged the boys to let us skip a few or we were never going to get through Kentucky. I had not made reservations for a hotel for the rest of the trip because I was not sure where we would end up by nighttime. We did stop in Danville for lunch at the Red Rooster. The food was good, homemade and cheap. We stopped because it looked like where all the towns’ people ate. Back on the road we continued to stop at sales. Everything starts to look the same after a while. A lot of the sales are in a field with at least 20-30 vendors. It is not the same as going garage saling in your area. Most of the items are collectibles and are priced accordingly. It is more like the longest flea market in the world. It was very hot and there is not much shade but if you take it slow it is fun and you might find a treasure.

Our next stop was Pall Mall, TN. If you don’t know who Sergeant Alvin C. York is rent the movie Sergeant York with Gary Cooper. It is one of my favorite movies. He actually gets saved in the movie. Sgt. York is a WWI hero.

York's fame rose from his legendary exploits on October 8, 1918 in the Argonne Forest in France. Leading a small patrol, York was sent out to eliminate flanking machine gun fire that was halting the advance of his regiment. York found himself alone opposing a German machine gun unit. With rifle and pistol he engaged the enemy. The fight ended with more than twenty Germans dead. Then, the other one hundred and thirty-two soldiers, including four officers and thirty-five machine guns, became discouraged and surrendered to York and six of his comrades.

There were actually more sales right next door to the mill and park. We were so hot we decided to go swimming even though we had no towels. The water was ice cold which felt great since we were so hot from shopping. This was my favorite stop and it reminded us all how proud we are of our country.

Overall our trip was great and we learned a lot and only spent money on gas, food and hotels. And of course sale items. But we really enjoyed the free historic sites we visited. The only negative stop was on the way home we stopped at Cracker Barrel. The service was terrible, the people were rude and the food was tasteless. Don’t stop there unless you want some seasonal decorations. Thanks for reading about my trip. I will add more about past vacations. Hopefully we can share travel tips.