Welcome to my blog!

Thanks for visiting my blog. As the title suggests, I love to scrapbook, stamp, and sing! I will share cards and scrapbook pages I create, as well as information about my music - Barbershop harmony.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

More fun on the Emerald Isle!

Fáilte - welcome!  Back again for pt 3 of my trip to Ireland....

I'm picking up with the "into the countryside" trip Heather and I began Monday 5/19.  We stayed at a B&B in Cork that night, had a wonderful breakfast on Tuesday and headed off for Killarney.  What a gorgeous morning - sunny with blue sky!!  Our first stop, just northwest of Cork - Blarney Castle (no, we didn't kiss the Blarney Stone) built in 1446.  What impressed me about this attraction (their word) were the grounds - so green, lush with flowers, and well-kept.  Here's a favorite photo taken as we approached the castle:

Blarney Castle

Besides the Castle, there are extensive walking paths, gardens, and a manor house.  Here are some favorite foliage shots:

Blarney Castle grounds Blarney Castle fern garden

After leaving Blarney Castle, we continued northwest to Killarney. Our beautiful sunny day left us for heavy rain showers as we visited part of Killarney National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the world, not that I could tell through a thunder storm!!  We took refuge from the storm on a tour of the Muckross House, a 19th century manor where Queen Victoria spent a couple nights (after weeks of preparation) back in 1861.  You can't take photos of the interior so visit the website to see some of the grand rooms.  Here's a shot of the exterior:

Muckross House

We stayed at the lovely The Harp B&B in Killarney.  After settling in, we headed back out in the rain to have dinner at the Sika Restaurant, fine dining adjacent to the Victoria House Hotel in Killarney.   They also served the typical stuffed ham/chicken dish Heather had the previous night so I tried it - delicious!!  It came with a side dish containing mashed carrots, potatoes and peas. 

Thanks for stopping by to read more about my wonderful trip to Ireland!  More to come....

Thursday, May 29, 2014

More Ireland adventures

So, I've been recounting my trip last week to Ireland.  In my previous post I told about arriving and Scrambling with Heather on my first day there, then going to Wicklow National Park the next day.  I know I surprised Heather with how quickly I adapted to the 6 hr time difference - I think the trick was sleeping very little on the planes over.

A bit on that - I flew from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, leaving at 7:22 pm on Friday the 16th.  I spent most of that 8 hr trip watching movies on my little viewer.  My layover in Amsterdam was nearly three hrs; I basically sat like a zombie and tried to read a book!  Then I hopped an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin - by this time I was quite tired and slept away most of the 70 minute flight!!  Arrived in Dublin airport at 1:40 pm and zipped right through customs.  Heather and her hubby were waiting for me in the "Arrivals" area - I knew ahead of time from Heather that it was by a little shop named Spar.  I recognized Heather right away and was delighted to meet her and Philip.  Then we traveled down the "motorway" to Heather's house in a town southwest of Dublin.  I met Heather's two boys, Mark and Adam, and the dog Toby - my new buddy.  After stashing my suitcases, we sat and visited, then had dinner - dinner at the Doran home is a family affair.  Everyone gathers around the table and actually dines - I typically don't do that so it was refreshing.  We did a quick clean up and got ready to Scramble.  After the Scramble Heather prompted me to email my family back in the US to say I arrived safely - I was totally not thinking by this point and had forgotten them.  Oh well....  I slept pretty well and got up bright and early for our trip to Wicklow on Sunday (see previous post).

Picking up with Monday the 19th, Heather and I began our travels out into the country.  I teased Adam, asking him if he was going to make dinner while we were gone.  He was quick to say, "no, that would be Mark" - LOL.  Heather drove her car - with me calling it driving on the "wrong" side of the road; I'm so politically incorrect - it should be the "left hand side" of the road.  They have a lot of roundabouts in Ireland - you really have to pay attention to the signs posted everywhere.  A side note on that - everything is listed in English and in Irish.  My knowledge of Irish is zero, and my accent is terrible (but not as bad as others, I'm told).  Anyway, as navigator I was supposed to keep us on the right road; Heather always had her little crib notes though, just in case I screwed up.  Heather's car has a stick shift so that guaranteed I wouldn't be driving (I was a stick shift drop out in driving class).  Probably a good thing not to have me forgetting and going onto the right hand side!!

Our first stop - Waterford, Ireland's oldest city and home of Waterford crystal.  The city was established by the Vikings, possibly some of my ancestors - LOL.  We visited the House of Waterford Crystal Visitors' Center and got a demo of how the pieces are made.  The guide explained that 95% of the cut work is done by hand we got to see an artisan at work - amazing!!  We also saw some machines doing bits of the more intricate work on heavy pieces.  I took this photo for Philip who loves American football (I brought him a Green Bay Packer t-shirt; sorry Vikings - I'm from Wisconsin originally):


Just look at all those intricate cuts - so gorgeous!!  Well, I didn't buy anything since even a paper weight was a bit "dear" as they say over there - I'd say pricey.  Really wanted that purple vase though - maybe, next time! 

Waterford has its round tower, Reginald's Tower.  Ugh - the photo of Heather impersonating a Viking didn't turn out so great so I won't share it; she has a similar one of me - maybe she'll share... An aside - Heather doesn't like her photo taken.  My nickname for her is going to be Aunt Marie because my aunt is the same way!  Anyway, by the end of my week Heather was getting used to my camera in her face!!  So here's a photo of the Reginald's tower that I took from across the street along the waterfront:

Reginalds tower

There is so much history in Ireland - I'm glad I have little brochures from the places we visited as I'll never remember it all!  Our destination for the day was Cork where Heather had arranged spots in Decie's B&B but I saw that the town of Ardmore wasn't too far off the route.  Anyone who knows me well knows I love anything written by Nora Roberts.  She has set many novels in Ireland and one series, Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy, is set in Ardmore.  Off we went to see the town!  Oh my, how lovely - we walked all around and saw yet another round tower and the ruins of the Ardmore Cathedral with its serene cemetery.  Here's my favorite view from the corner of the cemetery looking towards the sea:

Ardmore round tower

We also had a lovely lunch of the best pureed vegetable soup with brown bread in a sweet little cafe with art gallery.  The server made a delicious latte too!  Then we headed on down the road to Cork to our little B&B.  After dumping our luggage we went off to find dinner in a pub - yummy food!  Heather had a traditional meal of a piece of ham with stuffing on top, topped with a slice of chicken and gravy.  I had a burger and some chips (fries).  Another great day in Ireland and I'll share more of our adventures later.  Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two sistas meet - in IRELAND!

Just arrived home last night from Ireland so I'm bursting to share all about it!!  First and foremost I was able to meet dear friend Heather and her family.  Then I was introduced to an amazingly beautiful country to which I can't wait to return!

Where to begin?  I guess I'll start in 2009 when I was new to the Hero Arts Flickr group.  Many people were so welcoming but I became good friends with Heather Maria.  We bonded over cardmaking and baking; I think it was a recipe exchange on the group that started us Flickr mailing back and forth.  Then in 2011 we became Hero Hostesses together (along with Sally, Anita and Sharon) and began hoping we'd meet someday. 

Knowing me, that "someday" would've stayed just that, a future non-plan.  But with Heather's help, the "someday" became "2014" and we had a firm plan with both Heather and I taking off a week of work.  My idea was for me to stay at a little B&B near her town so we could run around together but Heather wouldn't hear of it.  She invited me to stay with her and her family!  We had never met in person until I arrived at Dublin airport on May 17th but immediately I felt so comfortable with the entire family, including sweet Toby the dog.  The Irish are known for their hospitality (fáilteachais in Irish) and I got plenty of it at the Doran's home.  Here are the two of us - I'll let Heather share the family photo if she wants.

Two Hostess Sistas meet in Ireland (Linda W and Heather)

After settling in - sorry, the crafty space had to make way for my suitcases - we Scrambled on the Hero Arts Flickr group with Barb G. as the hostess.  Here's the card I made after traveling over 12 hrs:
Scramble Owl

Barb's theme was a one-layer with no embellies which was difficult!  All the materials were from Heather's stash - I used a new Hero Arts clear set CL756 OWH Missing You and a branch from a woodblock set LP140 Just a Note Bird.  I must've been tired as, even with a clear stamp, I managed to stamp my owl a bit above the branch.  Oh well, I just filled the space in with a bit of green marker.  It was fun to Scramble with Heather in the same room - I felt bad though because she had to find things for me instead of working on her own card.  But we both managed to get done and have fun doing it!!

Next day, it was off to one of Heather's favorite places - Wicklow Mountains National Park with Glendalough, the gorgeous valley of two lakes.  I didn't realize how rainy the weather in Ireland is.  Well, it rained plenty on us at the park but we managed to walk all around the easy trails.  There are many other more strenuous hikes in the park - Heather has been on many of them but I'm not much of an outdoor gal.  I thought I was doing pretty well keeping up with Heather who's 10 years younger than I am! 

Here's one of my favorite photos of this area, taken from a scenic overlook above:

Wicklow Natl Park

Notice the yellow flowers which are Gorse - the bushes are very thorny and you see them all over, sometimes in long hedges bordering farm fields.  We won't tell how I ended up being punctured by barbed wire - luckily it was pretty new wire and not too deep a cut on my finger.  I had plenty of first aid stuff in my purse (must be the old Girl Scout training) so I cleaned it up right away.

Besides the beautiful scenery, there is a monastic city from the 6th century with a round tower, ruins of a church and abbey.  Here's a photo taken as we walked toward the round tower; it blends in a bit with the trees behind it but hopefully you can spot it:

Wicklow round tower

I will share more of my amazing week later.  Right now, my body thinks it's 6 hrs later than MN time and I still have things to do to get ready for the week ahead.  Thanks for stopping by!