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52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 46
I did another wet felted painting for this week and was reminded of how much I love the process.  The wool is layered and composed, dampened, and then rubbed with special tools (or not-so-special tools like bubble wrap) and soap to create a slick friction.  The friction makes the wool fibers felt together and stick together permanently, more or less. 

This piece reminds me so much of the Scottish highlands.  Scotland has been my very favorite place that my husband and I have traveled so far.  It's just so, so beautiful.  Also, whisky. I'm a big fan now after that trip...




Now I'm off to do more wet felting!  And have some whisky. Have a great weekend!




52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 27
FINALLY, my project is current---I'm caught up with these felt paintings!!!! What a relief! Okay, now that that's out of the way...

I have another travel-inspired painting this week. The last time we were in Paris, we visited Père Lachaise Cemetery.  It was Spring, and of course there were tulips everywhere, which meant that I had to photograph them.  But not only were the tulips gorgeous, this vine-covered wall surrounding the cemetery was amazing.  And the cat! So pretty!

I thought these photos would make a great felt painting.  I wet felted everything except the cat, which is needle felted.  I also needle felted some of the details of the flowers and leaves.  I love this one, and I just might keep it.   





Have a great, safe weekend, friends!
52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 25
I was perusing our travel photos looking for inspiration for a felt painting and came across this photo of wonderful buildings in Bruges, Belgium.  I love the different lines, colors and textures:



This painting, even though it's small, was not easy.  I tried to get as many details in as I could without going crazy. 




Needle felting definitely seems more suitable for organic forms rather than rigid lines. I think I'll find some more fun buildings or structures to practice on--the Eiffel Tower, maybe?
Florida Favorites - Part Two
Our trip was very nature-oriented. I keep a bird watching list, so I was sure to bring a book to identify birds while we were there.  (Go ahead, you can call me a nerd.) We had lots of fun beach combing and looking for the perfect shell (my favorite is pictured below.)  My only complaint was the mosquitoes in the Everglades.  I knew they would be bad, and they love me, but I ended up with three different repellents on me during that kayaking trip.  Ugh.  I kept running into the mangrove roots, because I was too busy swatting mosquitoes away. Ha!











Daniflorida, travelComment
Florida Favorites - Part One
My husband and I just got back from a two week trip to Florida last week.  We drove about 3600 miles in total, filled up our gas tank 11 times, and bought 6 bags of ice for our cooler.  When we travel, we don't like to stay in one place.  We wanted to see as much as we could, so we stayed 7 different places (some originally planned, some not) and not including the overnight stops on our drive to Florida and then back to Missouri.  Our stays varied from camping to bed & breakfasts.  We played on the beach, hung out with alligators in the Everglades, biked a few trails, and learned about rockets.  It was a good trip.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite photos over the next week or so.





























Check out Part Two and Part Three too!
Daniflorida, travelComment
Our Travel Wall Update
My husband and I love to travel, and you may remember the post I did a while ago about our travel wall.  We've collected different artworks, prints and maps, some during our travels and some purchased later, and created a gallery wall in our living room.  Back in April 2013, my husband and I went back to Europe and collected pieces from Belgium and France, and then purchased a piece off Etsy to represent the Netherlands.



I finally updated the wall---nine months later.  Sometimes I just take my time...

Anyway, here it is!  We added three new pieces.








1.  This painting was purchased directly from the artist in the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris.  When I decided to buy it, I actually didn't have enough cash on me, and the artist was going to leave soon.  So my husband and I went on a mad dash searching and asking around for an ATM.  For future reference, there are NOT many cash machines in Montmartre. But we made it back in time.  Barely.  Lesson learned.








2.  I saw this piece on Etsy and had to have it for the wall.  Tulips are my favorite flowers, and windmills are so iconic for the Netherlands (that's even where the artist lives!).  Plus, it has felt details sewn onto the canvas.  This Etsy artist has prints for so many different cities--check her out!






3.  Different kinds of lace have originated from Belgium, so I thought a pretty piece of lace would be a perfect addition to our travel wall. This is a piece of handmade lace that we purchased in Brussels from the cutest little old couple.  It took me a while to find just the right one,  but I did, and I love it.


(Kitty apparently cannot be bothered by all this photographing.)




We aren't planning any trips to Europe this year, but we will be going to Florida to celebrate my 30th birthday in the Spring.  We could use some recommendations for places to visit or stay or where to eat.  We'll be driving and town hopping our way down to the Keys.  xoxo
Europe 2013 - France Part 2
Happy Friday! Let's start the weekend early with one last mini-vacation.  Today I'm concluding my Europe 2013 series (1, 2, 34) with France Part 2. 



We left Mont St. Michel still with our rental car and drove around the Loire Valley touring French chateaux. We had a wonderful time.  We visited five different castles in two days and a few other sites as well, including Leonardo Da Vinci's last home in Amboise.  Our favorite chateau was Azay-le-Rideau, but they were each unique and deserved our time for one reason or another.



Interior details


Chambord

Villandry's gardens were impeccable.



We returned our car during our last night in Amboise and then hopped on a train headed for Paris.  We spent five days and nights in Paris, including my birthday!  (This was no accident!)  We have been to Paris before, but only for a short thirty-six hours.  We visited some of the same sites, and they were just as amazing as before.

Notre Dame Cathedral and the gargoyle's-eye view from the cathedral's towers.

The view from Sacré Cœur's dome and Moulin Rouge.

Cat on the wall of Père Lachaise Cemetery

Is there such thing as too many Eiffel Tower pictures? 






We also took a day trip to the castle of Versailles.  It was crazy busy.  So much so that it was not really an enjoyable visit.  Regardless, we still got some good photos and can now cross it off our to-do list. :)

The famous golden gate and the front of the castle.

Our reflection in Versaille's Hall of Mirrors.  It might be time to dust those mirrors. ;)


Thanks for following along! I hope you have enjoyed these Europe posts.  It's definitely been fun for me to share my love of travelling with you. In a few weeks, I'll share some various travel tips and tricks that I have picked up over the years.
Europe 2013 - France Part 1
This is going to be a long one folks.  I just couldn't narrow down my pictures.  If you've been following along, we're off to France this week. (If you need to catch up, read here and here and here.) We decided to explore France's Normandy region.  We stayed in a small town called Bayeux, which is a really good base if you're interested in visiting some World War 2 sites. Bayeux, amazingly was untouched by the bombs of WWII and is beautiful.  I was smitten by the cathedral.  I could not stop taking pictures.

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral interior and exterior

At night!

We took a half-day tour of various WWII D-day sites.  I learned so much.  It was fascinating.  Sites we visited included Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach (think Saving Private Ryan), and the American Cemetery.  It was a humbling day.

Pointe du Hoc

Omaha Beach Memorials

American Cemetery


On our last morning in Bayeux, we rented a car and headed toward Mont St. Michel.  Mont St. Michel is a tiny island that houses a monastery and only has about 30 full time residents.  The island is packed during the day, but at night, it felt like it was just the two of us (and the cats...).

Mont St. Michel

After the crowds, it was just us and the cats. :)

Huge windows inside the monastery overlooking the beach

Inside the monastery


As you can imagine, space on the island is limited and so are hotel rooms.  We wanted to spend one night on the island, so we booked a room well in advance.  I got an email from the hotel about a week prior to when we were suppose to arrive stating that they accidently overbooked the hotel and were moving us to a different one.  This wouldn't have been a big deal, but the hotel they put us in was a couple miles away from the island because, apparently, all the rooms on the island were booked.  I was pretty upset and disappointed and returned the email practically begging them to keep looking for another room on the island and to keep us updated if one was available.  A couple days went by and I checked again.  I got an interesting email in return.  This is what it said:
 
Dear Madam,
I’m afraid but at the moment I have no cancellation. But I was thinking of a different option if you wish :
We take care of a few rooms for the monks and the nones in a separate building.
This place has no star and is very simple and there are 2 single rooms available as they don’t need it.
I know it is not the best solution but it is inside Mont Saint Michel. The rooms are charged 50 € each.
If this option suits you, let us know.
Sincerely, Christine / reception
 
Really?!  Our option was to stay in a room normally reserved for monks and nuns?! Fantastic!
Obviously, monks and nuns have no need for beds bigger than twin size, and we could have rented two rooms if we wanted, but what's the fun in that?  We just squeezed onto a twin bed--it was only one night.  We did have a sink in the room, but the toilet and shower were in the hallway.  This isn't a big deal for us though, because we often stay in places where this is the case. 
 
Top: Our room is THIS big! Bottom right: hallway  Bottom left: tiny bed
 
 
This was actually our favorite place where we stayed during our whole trip.  I mean, how many people can say that they've stayed in a monk's room? The coolest part, though, was where the room was.  We had to go down an alley no bigger than the width of my shoulders, around a corner, up some stairs, and then we reached our building.  We felt secluded--like we had our own private piece of the island.  It was amazing!
 
Tiny alleys and stairs leading to the monk's room

View from the door to our room. We felt magically secluded.

View from our window!
 
 
Is there a lesson here?  Of course!  When travelling, things may not go as you have planned. But stay open minded, because you never know what opportunities you may get!
 
 
 
Stay tuned for the Europe 2013 conclusion!  We're almost to Paris!!
Europe 2013 - Belgium - Part 2
So far, we've been to The Netherlands, and we visited two stops in Belgium last week.   This week we're still in Belgium, and we have two more stops: Ghent and Brussels. 



Ghent felt like a small town.  We only spent one night here (in an amazing B&B), but we filled our day with a variety of sights and activities including a design museum, a castle, a wonderful vegetarian lunch, dinner in a refurbished factory, and strolling the town at night. 


Ghent Castle and the view of the city from inside the castle walls.




From Ghent, we arrived by train in Brussels, which felt like the big, capitol city it is. Here, we stayed two nights and celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.  In Brussels, we had a true hodge podge of experiences. We visited a comic museum (Because in Belgium, comics are serious business--and it's the birthplace of The Smurfs and TinTin.), a musical instrument museum (which sounds boring, but it was wonderful), had a stroll around the European Union headquarters (where we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall, bottom right picture below), saw dinosaurs (and lots of other things, too) at a Natural History museum, tasted more beer, and of course, ate a ton more chocolate.



We read about the "best, free view in Brussels" before we got there.  It's on the top story of a car park.  You just walk right in to the elevator and head upwards.  It was definitely a good view!

Tenth floor car park view


We really enjoyed Belgium. The people were very friendly, especially our gracious hosts. Next week, we're off to France!