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Monday, 30 September 2013

I'm back ! Monday 30th September

Good morning Friends!

Well we are home and surprisingly minus jet lag! You know, sometimes we get it and sometimes not and we never 'do" anything different, so who knows? We got home Saturday night and collected the hens from their own 'holiday hotel,' yesterday. I was a little worried as we'd asked the farm to keep Bella and Penny in a separate pen to Cara and Lacey - this was because we had a bit of a last minute problem with Penny just before we left and the other two were more likely to peck her - it all turned out well; Penny seems fine and they all had a lovely afternoon in the sun! I've been unpacking and washing..the downside of a holiday, lol!

I have a few more photos for you that I didn't get the chance to post last week...our fun time with my  cousin Kerry, in San Diego. This is the cousin we usually spend some time with, but a long road trip, meant just two nights this time. Whilst there, as I said last week, I went craft shopping with his wife, Teri... such fun to have another female to go shopping with! I really do like Joann's - so much lovely Fall fabric I couldn't bring home! Lots of Tim Holz goodies and dies ... most of them weren't much cheaper except both they and Michaels had 40% discounts through the's so annoying when you can't   carry it :) I was encouraged to see that the Grand Calibur was actually a little more expensive than it is here!!!

After leaving beautiful San Diego, we drove back to LA; we usually have our last few days in the beach resort of Santa Monica before flying home, so once we'd checked into our hotel, we drove up the coast a few miles to Malibu - this has become a bit of a ritual over the years: we go to the Malibu Colony shopping plaza and Ralph's, one of the supermarkets. We get a sandwich made up - $8 for a meal deal..massive sandwich that we choose the ingredients for and that we share, a bag of crisps ( or as they say chips) and a root beer or other soft drink of choice! Then we head for the nearest beach, sit on a wall and eat it! It just has to be done!!!

There is another shopping plaza ( all open air) across the road: Tom and I have made this trip to see my family over the past 20 years (the first ten we were married we visited Italy three times to stay with Tom's family and even that broke the budget!). .. we come about every 3-4 years, unless there's a special occasion in between or we visit another part of the US instead. The last time was 4 years ago and how it's changed! I thought there was a recession, but this place got huge! Same with Santa Monica..they both stayed the same for 20 years and all of a sudden more shops! I see how the tourism in this part of California has grown over the years and there is also a huge amount of ex-Pat Brits there too..Santa Monica isn't my most favourite of places any more, but it has huge empty beaches and is handy for both LA and the airport.

On Thursday we got up early, walked to Venice Beach for breakfast at the book store...our favourite place there, just sitting and watching this very weird place's like being stuck in the psychedelic 70's...I swear some of these people arrived here back then and just never left!

Our hotel was a 20 minute walk away and from there, we got the car and drove along Sunset Boulevard (another favourite trip) to Hollywood and Griffiths Park. This, along with The Getty, is one of my favourite places in LA. The park is enormous, with museums, a zoo, equestrian centre, theatre and right on top of the hill, the Observatory. Famously scenes from the James Dean movie  Rebel Without a Cause were filmed here  and a bust commemorating this sits right in front of a lovely view of the Hollywood sign. They were actually getting ready to film something last week, but I have no idea what. Griffiths Park covers about 3000 acres, with lots of lovely hiking trails...once we hiked as close as we could to the sign, although you can't get right up to it as it's fenced off.

 On return to Santa Monica we paid one last visit to a Michaels - it had moved to a brand new store and was huge with its own dedicated workshop room!

Our flight home was very good, this holiday for the first time, we treated ourselves to an upgrade to a premium economy both ways; we got a good deal from Virgin on it and boy was it worth it for the extra legroom alone!

'Unconditional Surrender' an enormous piece of art in San Diego,  depicting the joy of the end of WWII

Forces tribute to Bob Hope, San Diego

Tom with my cousin Kerry at the San Diego Mission, the first of  21 Missions built by the Spanish along the California Coast, this one dates back to 1769

Botanica House, Balboa Park, San Diego

Me with my cousin Kerry, Mission Trail, San Diego

Tom, Santa Monica Beach..9am!

Me and James Dean! Griffiths Park Observatory

View of LA from observatory

 So what will I miss about the US? Well I have the advantage of having family there and  of actually having spent time there (tho a long time ago now), so I'm not entirely speaking through the rose tinted specs of a holiday maker... I love the lifestyle my relatives have and they aren't wealthy - my young cousin is a teacher, but at the moment a stay at home mom and her husband teaches too; my cousin in San Diego has his own window cleaning business ( and you should see some of the mansions he cleans!) and his wife is a school secretary. I'll miss the climate because its just perfect (not too hot, never cold by our standards); Tom would rather drive in LA than across Bristol in rush hour - he loves driving in the US...I'll miss our car too, a fab SUV with lumbar support in the felt like I had taken Hayley, my sports therapist along with me! I didn't have any back trouble at all, probably from all the exercise and not sitting at a desk at all.

Then there's the courtesy... I can't remember the last time here that a stranger thanked me for holding a door open for them - or held one open for me... Over the last few weeks, everyone held doors open and in return when I did the same, I was called a 'sweetheart' or similar on several occasions; service in stores is always with a smile, everyone is so friendly. I'm not saying they aren't here, it's just more noticeable, but I guess it's the American Way! Love it!

I'll miss the food - contrary to popular belief about US holidays, we actually always lose weight when we spend time in California, especially the south - good fresh food, lots of exercise and no spending days at desks! We aren't vegetarian but we don't eat a lot of meat, so all the fresh seafood there is just what we like. We also know to share meals or just order appetisers as the portions can sometimes be more than we are used to!

Finally, I'll even miss the fact that at least once a day when we got into conversation with someone, they asked if we watch Downton Abbey! We must be the only people here who don't, so I guess we disappointed a lot of people, including ALL my cousins!

Driving along Sunset Boulevard - Sunset Strip

Regrets? We were driving along the coast between Malibu and Santa Monica and we couldn't stop, so I missed the photo of a life time - a mass gathering of Pelicans on a beach..they were just flying in, hundreds of them! Just one more is that I can no longer get on a horse! The opportunities for trail riding in central California were everywhere!

But now I'm home, we have our hens, have seen our family, the sun has been shining and I'm happy to be here - and it was so good to be able to stay in touch with you, my crafty friends whilst we've been still visit your blogs and read your kind comments on mine.I know how lucky we are to have close relatives in such beautiful parts of the world - California and Venice, Italy...and that at the moment at least we can visit and have such wonderful memories.

You haven't seen the last of my holiday photos (sorry!)...I am ashamed that I still haven't scrapbooked our last trip from 4 years ago, so I am getting going on this one immediately despite having workshops and craft fairs to prep for! There's nothing like the present:)

Finally, you know I love animals and birds, so I try and photograph what I can wherever I go; I can't tell you how many years I have been trying to get a decent photo of a humming bird, so what do you think?

These photos were taken in the gardens of the Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo in Central California and my research suggest its species to be 'Anna's Hummingbird'..unless anyone knows better?

I'll be back soon and will show you some craft I took on holiday and this week after a long absence I will be back on WOYWW and show you the craft goodies I brought back....and I was restrained!

Lots of love and hugs,
Carole X

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Santa Monica - Thursday 26th September

Good Morning Friends,

Hoping you are all well and there's lots of happy crafting going on! This wil be my last post and last hence to hop around your blogs until probably next Monday! We are in our final hotel, Loews Santa Monica...our last little treat and where every other hotel allowed totally free wifi, this one  charges  quite a few bucks per day and is only letting one of our gadgets log my iPad is the one, trouble is that my photos are mostly on my phone, so can't transfer via the cloud!

Anyway, we had a fabulous time at Laguna Beach, we went to see my favourite ice hockey team play( and for the first time we've watched them they lost :( ). We had a brilliant time in San Diego with my cousins and packed so much into just a few days. It was great to see them again, just wish it could have been longer! Teri, my cousins wife and I visited their local Michaels and also Joanns, which I actually prefer...I could have bought so much Fall fabric, good job I couldn't carry it!

So now we are in LA, our ritualistic trip to Griffiths Park to stroll and look at the Hollywood sign today and then a visit to the Botanical Gardens for a change. 

Here are a few photos I managed to transfer before leaving Laguna, thank you for following our road trip, we have a lot of travelling from tomorrow night, so I'll see you all on Monday!
Ducks vs Colorado

Laguna Beach

Love and hugs!
Carole xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

London Tee Shirts - Tuesday 24th September

Hello Friends!

Here are the last two presents I made for Elisa - well her 2 year old (adorable) lad, Wesley! I simply iron transferred digital stamps on to the Tee Shirts..easy peasy! I also made the same for her sister's son, Micah            


Be back tomorrow,
Love and Hugs,
Carole X

Monday, 23 September 2013

Pride and Prejudice bag - Monday 23rd September

Hello friends,

Yesterday we bade a fond farewell to my lovely cousins and headed down past LA to Laguna Beach, I do wish we had more than one night in this beautiful and very arty coastal community, but we are on our way again, this time to San Diego to stay with my cousin Kerry and his wife Teri for a few days (they are Elisa's parents).

I hadn't finished showing  you the other presents I made for a literature teacher (though at the moment stay at home mom), Elisa loves Jane Austen, so I used the Pride and Prejudice Stamps from Indigo Blu to  decorate this book bag for her. I used Artist Transfer paper to iron-transfer the stamped images, which I had coloured with Promarkers.

I'm very pleased to say that they were thrilled with all the presents, but especially yesterday's Halloween frame ( this year will be Wesley's first trick or treat) and this bag.

Before I go, a holiday update ( I'm writing this on Sunday evening). - we drove from my cousin's home today to Laguna Beach, a pretty beach town just outside of LA. My cousin and her husband, Scott are such an inspiring young couple...Scott set out to teach literature, decided it wasn't for him,learned carpentry and bow teaches that instead. They bought their lovely home, as little more than a wreck and through hard work have made a beautiful place to live. Their 2 year old is adorable and they were able to give us the happy news that they have another son or daughter due in the Spring. Their neighbours keep back yard hens too, which made me very mu h think about our girls.

 After checking in to our hotel here, we drove back towards LA, to Anaheim...most famous for the original Disneyland, we went there to see the ice hockey team that I support play in a pre-season game. The Anaheim Ducks.

This team was started 20 years ago and at the time belonged to Disney..I was at their first game 20 years  ago and have seen them several times since, including an exhibition game in London...where have these years gone ?!!! Unfortunately they lost tonight, but it was a good night out!

So here are a few photos

Monday, we drive to San Diego to stay with more relatives, so although I have posts scheduled, I'm not sure when my next update will be. We are back in LA after this visit, before leaving for home, so it's all dependent on wifi if I don't get the chance to update or visit you before, I'll be posting Monday week from home (jet lag permitting!)

Thanks for visiting my blog!
Love and hugs,
Carole X

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Halloween Photo Frame - Sunday 22nd September

Hello Friends,

Well we are still here in Ventura with Elisa. We haven't been over for four years, so this is our first meeting with their little lad, Wesley and he is adorable!

Today it's time to share a Halloween photoframe I made for them to display photos of Wesley when he starts Trick or Treating...

 I love Halloween and so do my cousins...when Elisa was at University she did a semester in the UK and came to stay with us at weekends. I had already been holding Halloween parties for friends and neighbours and their kids, but Elisa helped hold the best one ever..I have such wonderful memories of that particular Halloween and the kids, now in their teens and even twenties, still remember the games, ghost stories and trick or treating... so I know she and Scott will appreciate this!(Hopefully Wesley will like it too!)

That's all for today!

Love and Hugs,
Carole X

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Little Mirrors - Saturday 21st September

Hello Friends!

We truly had a lot of fun sampling the central Californian wine country- we'd done Napa Valley before, but this was totally different - more laid back and we loved it! Harvest is in full throttle here, lots of grape pucking goung on.

This little town ( more a village in our terms), Los Alamos is fabulous from our fun Pirate themed room complete with waves lashing rocks sound effects, treasure chest and swaying lanterns, to the Casa Dumetz wine tasting room a few steps away, where we spent to fun evenings and Flatbread Pizza opposite, the best pizza we've had in a while....and I haven't mentioned before but before we left San Luis Obispo, I did happen to pop in to a Michaels store, which some of you will know is the big craft outlet in the USA...and yes I did purchase a few things!

I also managed, after decades of trying to get a few good photos of a humming bird, but you'll have to wait, they're on my camera! 
Photo of Fall items for sale in Michaels... Love these little straw bales!

Our themed hotel/B&B 'The Victorian Mansion' at Los Alamos

Tom and I at Casa dumetz last night... There was a talk by a top movie industry composer, which as I did Film studies at uni, was very interesting for me, super evening!

Well the  California Roadtrippers will be setting off for the home of my cousin Elisa, who lives with her husband, Scott and two year old son Wesley in Ventura, between Santa Barbara & LA and over the next few days I have some presents that I made for them to share with you...I may not get the chance to update...too much catching up to do! But I do have scheduled posts.

I  pinched this idea from Christine Emberson, but I've told her, so it's okay! Christine made some little gifts similar to these for her Spellbinders teamies recently and I thought what a great idea for a little something from the UK. I made one for Elisa, one for her sister Brianna, who sadly we won't be seeing as she and her family are currently based in Florida, as her husband is a Coastguard helicopter pilot and they move around every few years...and the final one, for their Mom, Teri who we will be staying with in San Diego.

So I popped into our nearest Kath Kidston store and bought 3 of these little handbag mirrors. I typed the greetings on the front and die cut a perfectly matching circle, using Spellbinders Classic Circles, then I set the mirrors in the centre and stuck them to the card with sticky pads.

This was so simple and yet effective that I think I'm also going to adapt it for my female friends in Italy this Christmas!

I also made one of these Hunky Dory 'Night before Christmas' books for Elisa and Bree, I thought they are a nice keepsake to read to their kids..sorry about the photo: I forgot to take it before we left home, so had to do it in an hotel room!

Thanks for stopping by and following our trip, it's so nice to be in touch with my crafty friends back home!
Love and hugs,
Carole X

Friday, 20 September 2013

Update -Friday 20th,

Hello Friends,

A little road trip update for you, although I'm afraid iCloud is playing up and not showing my phone photos on the iPad, which makes uploading photos pretty difficult. We had a fab anniversary - we stayed at The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo. It's the most amazing themed hotel. Every room has a different theme and ours was The Captains Bridge. Last time we stayed,it was the Caveman. The whole stay is an experience,there is nothing like it anywhere- we ate our anniversary meal in the pink restaurant with a balloon and free cake :) whilst staying we got in some pool time and walking - I took two amazing photos of a humming bird, but you'll have to wait to see as they are on my camera!

From there we moved to Los Alamos, a one street western town and its brilliant! We are staying in the Pirate  suite in a themed B&B and I wish the Cloud would work so I could share the photos!

We spent the day in Solvang, a Danish-American town complete  with windmills...we ate pizza at Flatbread pizza across the street and had a wine tasting 2 doors away at Casa Dumetz... fabulous!!! I found Dumetz through reading the book 'Along the Way', a memoir by Martin Sheen and his son,actor Emiio Estevez. I was a real brat pack fan in the 80's , which prompted my reading of the book, which I think every father/son should read. Anyway, Emilio and fiancée Sonja are wine producers and Casa Dumetz is their vineyard and she runs it... We had a great tasting with her tonight, she is so lovely! We do some tastings at home, but I have to say that this the first time I've enjoyed every taste!

So tomorrow we are off exploring... It's so hot here and so dry, it looks like a tinderbox.

Here are a few photos from my phone;
Tom and I enjoying our anniversary at Madonna Inn: Solvang; The Vick where we are staying tonight; me and Sonja at Casa Dumetz

Back with craft tomorrow,
Carole X

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Wedding Anniversary - Thursday 19th September

Hello Friends,

Today  is our wedding anniversary, so the card I'm sharing is the one I made for Tom. We have a shortish drive to a town called Los Alamos today and we are very much in the central Californian wine country. Normally I would make a large card, but because we were away, I made a smaller one and a little different to my usual style..something a bit dreamy and mystical!

Last night we stayed at an hotel we last stayed in 20 years ago...a themed hotel. The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo. Last time we stayed in The Caveman Room, the most popular in the hotel...this time it was The Captains Bridge...decor was like the captains cabin in an old ship...we had a lovely meal in their very pink restaurant. I'm having problems getting my photos up at the moment, but our next hotel is 2 nights so I'll get it sorted hopefully!

Now to my card: I brayered the background using several inks and created the 'mound' with a paper mask. The stamp is by Lavinia Stamps and I typed the sentiment.

Our hotel for the next two nights is called The Victorian Mansion: it's a quirky bed and breakfast that only has 6 suites, all of them themed like our previous hotel (but that was massive!). I couldn't get the Egyptian or the Gypsy rooms as they were booked, so we are carrying on the nautical theme with our room here.

Los Alamos is in the heart of Central California wine country in the Santa Barbara area, so we are going to be doing some wine tasting whilst we are here. A  short walk from The Vick is Babbis Tasting Room, the tasting venue for Casa Dumetz Vineyard...more of that tomorrow after we have visited.

Thanks for stopping by,
Carole X

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Monterey - Wednesday 18th September

Good morning Friends,
Thank you for your visits over the past week, it's been fun sharing our trip with you - even if updating my scheduled posts has been frustrating at times with having to use the phone and iPad.. still free wifi seems much more plentiful here. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Heathrow last week and they wanted to charge, whereas the same chain in San Francisco was free! It wasn't a problem for us with the phone, just the ipad :)

Yesterday I was very sad to leave SF, it has many teenage memories for me and whenever we go back, I fall in love with it all over again! I sometimes wish that my other cousins hadn't moved away to various parts of Southern California ( or SoCal) as its known here. We picked up our car and headed down to Monterey, making a brief stop at a little town just outside SF, San Mateo, where I spent many a happy time with my auntie, who sadly is no longer with us.

Monterey is lovely, I booked us into a bed and breakfast I found on the Internet and it is gorgeous! Our room is really very 'country style' with wooden beams & wooden figures of horses everywhere - right up my street! After we arrived we walked down to the wharf and town...very picturesque. Our previous visits here have always been fleeting, so it's nice to dwell a little. They had a Farmers Market and craft fair going on and it was amazing...lots of jewellery and art and the fruit and veg was so beautiful to look at, we just had to buy a punnet of the juiciest strawberries!

We also visited the Thomas Kinkade gallery I've always been fascinated by his work, though not really my cuppa..I have however seen some cards made with the Janet Sheen CDs and admired them. I have to say that having seen some of these paintings up close, I do see them in a different light ( excuse pun), I really did like some of them.

We found a nice Italian restaurant tonight, on the wharf/pier and are our meal whilst being entertained by a group of the hundreds of sealions and sea otters that live here...all photos were. Taken with my camera, sorry!

Just one night at Monterey and then off to San Luis Obispo..we are staying in an hotel that we've stayed in before there... The Madonna Inn, all rooms are themed! It's very quirky & famous in California, I'll be sure to take some photos with my phone.
Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by and here I am getting ready to ride a cable car..back tomorrow with more crafts,
Love and hugs,
Carole X

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Christmas Baubles 3 - Tuesday 17th September

Hello Friends, how are  you all? I'm hoping the weather back home in the UK hasn't turned too autumnal! 

Yesterday(Monday) I finally managed to post a couple of photos from San Francisco, but couldn't manage to get some of me with my family up, so I'm trying again! Hopefully they will be at the end of the post...they may not be's a real pain blogging on myipad or even worse, phone!

It was our last day in the beautiful city of San Francisco today & once again we did loads! We took an early cable car into the centre( after all these years I could still ride them all day!), hit the shops.. Oh man, I thought the Westfield Centres in London were fantastic, until we went to this one! We had lunch in The Cheesecake Factory & then walked that off right back to the Bay Bridge, from where we took a tram back to our hotel. I am actually writing the Monday evening before we go out to catch the sunset!

Tomorrow we collect the hire car and head off on our journey down the coast.

These  are the last of the baubles I decorated for gifts. 
The first one was painted blue; I then stamped the snowman (Indigo Blu) and coloured him with inktense pencils. 

The second  and third ones are House-Mouse stamps coloured in the same way...I have to say these were a lot of fun to make!

Thanks for stopping by,
Love and Hugs,
Carole X
Me with my auntie Dorothy& Tom with my  other family members Sandy & Jim

Monday, 16 September 2013

Christmas Baubles 2 - Monday 16th September

Hello Friends,
We had a lovely day with my auntie and cousins yesterday and they loved the gifts! Thisis our last full day in this beautiful city before picking up the car and heading down the coast. I've finally managed to upload a few photos... Golden Gate Bridge;making gorgeous sourdough bread.. doesn

Here are two more of my baubles..the first one is a stamped House-Mouse, coloured with inktense pencils and the second is decorated with die-cut poinsettias

Thanks for visiting,
Carole X

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Christimas decorations: Sunday 15th September

Hello Friends

We had a super day yesterday.., cable cars, Golden Gate 
Bridge & Park.. We walked
MILES! I have tried to upload some photos but no luck as yet.. darn phone & iPad!

Today we are having brunch with my auntie and cousins, so we will have a really great time catching up, I know it! My auntie lives with her daughter  Sandy and family in the City, we aren't staying with them this time, because Sandy's son and daughter-in-law are living with them as well, whilst they look for an apartment. Sandy and Jim live in one of those lovely Victorian style houses  that you often see in movies set here and there would have been plenty of room, but we decided to do our own thing and opt for the hotel.

I made some wooden tree decorations for all my relatives and I'm going to share them with you over the week - most of the basic wooden shapes are from Indigo Blu and others I got at Ally Pally last year.

The above was painted and then stamped using the stag stamp I've been using of late. I added a die cut poinsettia and satin ribbon. 
This bauble was painted red and then stamped with flitterglu. I used a flourish stamp and stamped randomly before adding gilding flakes.

Bye for now,
Carole X

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Card Gift Set - Saturday 14th September

Hello Friends,

I'm updating this at 9pm here in Sam Francisco, so I guess it's already Saturday back home.We had a two hour flight delay but otherwise it was the holiday can begin!

I want to share the first of the presents I have made for some of my family over here in the USA: first of all for my auntie Dorothy and cousin Sandy, here in San Francisco...

 One of the presents is this cloth covered notebook: I had some material with London designs, so I covered an ordinary note pad with it using bookbinding glue and decorated with patriotic ribbons.

I also made both my aunt and cousin a set of 6 cards each and put them in boxolopes, which I also made.There is one card missing from this 'line-up' another acetate tree card, which must have got missed from the photos!

Today is a day of just doing the touristy things...Fisherman's Wharf, The Cannery, Ghiradelli Square and Tom wants to go to Alcatraz..again!

Love and Hugs,
Carole X