Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Musings of our August Staycation to Milwaukee

Hello!  I'm here to bore you with more family and vacation pictures and stories.  As I've stated in previous posts,  I took two Staycations this summer to spend time with my kids.  In June we went camping at Willow River State Park, and in August we went to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee and also spent one  day in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin enjoying what was suppose to be their Pure Water Days, but never could find where the activities were.  More on that in a later post.

First up,  our visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   Milwaukee is the city my husband and I grew up in.  After we married, we moved away and have lived in small towns ever since.  Most of our relatives that lived in Milwaukee are now deceased or moved away, so we rarely go back there to visit.  However, my husband was experiencing a bit of nostalgia and wanted to see the Wisconsin State Fair again, so off we went.

Because we really don't have close family in Milwaukee anymore,  I booked a room in a nice hotel  on the South Side.  We arrived Friday night and just crashed.  I had worked two back to back shifts leaving me about five hours of sleep between shifts, plus the four hour car drive to the big city, so I was tired!  On Saturday we got up bright and early and spent the whole day at the fair and at night we joined our very close life long friends - Kirk and Shannon - for dinner.

The next day we went to church.  It was the church my husband and I met, married, and dedicated our children in.  We always love to go back there and see all our old friends.  I've attended many different churches in my life, but I always consider this church, my home church, and the best church I've ever attended.  No matter how many years have gone by, I still miss this church and I have never felt a suitable replacement for it.  

We caught up with Kirk and Shannon again for the service and chatted for quite a bit afterwards and shared lots of hugs and tears when we said goodbye.  I've included a couple of photos that we took at church.  We didn't have a photographer so Kirk and Shannon switched places between being the photographer and being in the picture.  Kirk is on the far left in this picture followed by my husband, me, my son Jordan, my daughter Ashley, and my son-in-law Jason.

 Now it's Shannon's turn.  She is on the far left.  Isn't she a beauty?  She always has that gorgeous beaming smile on her face.  She is my angel on earth!
After the service we went back to the hotel to change and pack for the ride back home.  Before heading on the highway we decided to visit my old childhood stomping grounds:  South Shore Beach.  I think practically half my life was spent at this beach.  I lived about a mile away, so a typical summer day was waking up around 9:00 a.m., jumping on my ten speed bike and riding to the beach, then sunbathing, more biking on the trails, or just plain goofing around till 3:00 when it was time to head back home to eat.  Although I always loved the beach, I don't think I really appreciated what a rare privilege it was to live so close to a Great Lake until I moved away.  I remember the first time I saw the ocean how disappointed I was because 'it looked just like Lake Michigan'.  For some reason, I thought it would be a lot different, but other than bigger waves, it wasn't:  just water as far as the eyes could see!  Since moving away, most of my sand and water activities have been small lakes and beaches, if you could even call their beaches a beach.  So I really miss Lake Michigan and it's unbelievable beaches.  In fact, I really miss Milwaukee.  I don't think I really appreciated this city when I lived there, but when you move away and live in small towns, you miss a lot of things big cities have to offer:  fine arts centers, major music and theatre touring groups, museums, zoo's, major sports teams, summer festivals, and shopping, shopping, shopping.  Milwaukee has always been known as a big city with a small town feel.  And I would agree with that.  It is big enough to have everything any other big city like Chicago has, but still small enough that it feels like 'home'.  

So, here I am, about twenty five years, back at my childhood beach.  This photo doesn't do it justice, but one thing I've always loved about South Shore Beach was how beautiful the Milwaukee Skyline looks.  This is also where we saw the fireworks every fourth of July and during the week of Summerfest.  One of my favorite summer memories is being on a yacht in the water near the Summerfest grounds and watching the fireworks directly above my boat.  It was such a magical night.
 I look so dorky in this picture.  I'm wearing my typical summer car ride outfit:  a loose comfy knit top, denim shorts, and loafers.  And I still have that fedora on that I bought from the fair the day before.  It came in handy all weekend!

While at the beach we discovered my husband still had it in him and could skip rocks like a pro.  He wowed the kids as his rocks skipped over the water a half a dozen times or more.  That was until his arm gave out and he had to stop.  Just like he learned he can't eat like he use to at the fair,  he also learned that he can't skip rocks like he use to!
 The boys discovered this work out station located right on the bike/jogging path.  Of course they had to give it a try!
 This is my son-in-law Jason.  My family has a habit of sneaking in my Fashion Over Fifty photos.  We have a running joke in my family that every time we see a good photo spot someone shouts out 'Fashion Over Fifty!' and we stop and take my picture.  Of course my family likes to tease me about it (in love) and they often sneak in the picture without me knowing.  My son Jordan started this habit, and now everyone does it. I'll never forget the first time I was scrolling through my fashion photos on my camera and I saw Jordan's head peeking out behind mine.  I burst out laughing and couldn't stop.  How could I not have known he was there and how could my husband (the photographer) not have given it away?   Someday I will have to do a post showing all my Fashion Over Fifty pictures where a family member snuck in the photo.  They are hilarious!  Here is Jason posing in my spot:  hmmm, Fashion for Men over Twenty?
 After our stop at the beach, we drove back home passing through downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Brewer Stadium.  If you like to see stadiums, you really need to check the new Brewer Stadium out.  It is gorgeous!

I spent the rest of the week just hanging out with the kids, relaxing.  Sometimes the best vacations are doing nothing at all.  Just rest, nourishment, and lots of long talks.  I did go into work two days, and my husband worked a full week, so on Saturday we hit the road again for another adventure, and for another post….till then:

Have a great day!  Amy

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Smile" Banner Card

Hello!  Today I have a birthday card to show you that uses all papers and stickers from My Mind's Eye Chalkboard Studio.  Banners have been all the rage in the paper crafting industry for over a year now, but I think this is the first time I ever used one on a card.  I'm slow to catch onto trends I guess.  No, I just always struggled with how much space using a banner uses up on a card, and how there is little room for an actual image or sentiment when you use one.  But for my card today, a banner fit quite well because my main image was so small.

 I used a piece of hemp to connect my banner stickers too.  The other sentiment is a unknown stamp and the camera image is a sticker.  I love the subtle designer paper of smaller cameras echoes the big camera.
 I used an actual paper doily on this card.  I know they make dies that look like doilies now, but I always thought that was kinda silly when you can buy a pack of fifty doilies for a buck at a party store.
Have a great day!  Amy

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fashion Over Fifty: 'Va, Va, Va, Voom!'

Hello!  This week's Fashion Over Fifty post comes with a parental warning:  if you have small children in the room you may want to put them in another room until your done reading.  Just kidding!  This will be a G- Rated post, I promise!  But I do want to talk about a controversial topic:  what clothing items make you feel sexy?  Yup, I said it.  The big 'S' word.  It's kinda an unpopular word in the Christian circles I run around in.  We tend to focus so much on modesty, self-control, abstinence before marriage, yada, yada, yada, that feeling sexy seems, well, just kinda wrong;  even if your a grown up married woman like myself.  To be honest,  I don't think I've ever felt sexy a day in my life.  I've always been labeled  'cute' or 'pretty' and identified more closely to Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island, not Ginger.  Which, was always fine with me.  I always thought Mary Ann was prettier than Ginger anyway.  A few people in my life told me that I reminded them of Betty Boop:  a cute sexy.  I had to look her up, because she was a cartoon character before my time.  I honestly could not see a resemblance.  I've had several people tell me I walk sexy.  Well, that was a surprise to me, because I certainly don't try!  I have a husband that constantly tells me how beautiful and sexy I am, but who believes their husband?  They have to say those things!  

So what happens, when someone like myself, who has never felt sexy, ages?  When everything starts to droop, sag, wrinkle, expand, and leak.  Is it even possible to feel sexy over the age of fifty?  Or what if your life, regardless of age, is just not filled with events to make you feel sexy?  Like having a household full of kids and constantly smelling like dirty diapers and spit ups?  Or a job where you are always wearing a unisex uniform of khaki pants and polo shirts?  Or maybe you just work at home and never go out so just switching up to a new pair of yoga pants instead of your PJ's is 'dressing up' for you.  I've been through all three of these scenarios in my lifetime, and feeling sexy in the midst of them, is well, near impossible. 

 But clothes, they can do miracles:  they can take a person from feeling like a troll to thinking they are Sophia Vergara!  The types of clothes people feel sexy in differ for everyone.  Some women feel their sexiest in heels, jewels,  and exotic perfumes.  Others feel their sexiest in a baseball cap and jersey, and other women just love that perfect 'Little Black Dress'.  For me, it was a Little Red Dress.  A dress that I do not even own, but borrowed from my daughter just so I could do a Fashion Over Fifty post.  You see, my daughter, unlike myself, has a glamorous life.  I'm sure she will laugh her head off when she reads this post because she does not see her life as glamorous, but a lot of hard work and stress.  But for someone who works a retail job like me, doing the same thing day in and day out,  it's glamorous.  Ashley is a professional singer and needed a red dress for one of her performances.  So she found this beauty, took a 'selfie' and sent it to me so that I could see it.  I texted her back  stating 'Ashley, that dress is gorgeous!  Could you bring it home with you the next time you visit so I could try it on?'  Thus the little red dress took a long car drive inside a plastic bag and came all the way from Chicago to  Wisconsin just so I could put it on and snap a few pictures.  

From the moment I 'squeezed' into this little red dress, I felt sexy.  It is made of a thick gabardine knit material that sucks you all in and hugs and clings in all the right places.  So even if you have bulges you want to hide, the thick knit pulls them in.  And if your shapeless, or 'straight' like myself with no easily identified waistline, the drape and gathering of the material on the side makes you look like you actually have a waist!  The cowl neckline is flattering for every body type, and is low enough to be a bit daring, but high enough to, shall we say, not overexpose?  And somehow, the dress can make a small busted woman seem bigger, and a large busted woman like myself, seem smaller.  Don't me ask me how,  it just does.  I think it's the sucking thing:  it clings to the small busted woman making her appear bigger, but for the larger busted woman, it pulls it back up and in place.  That's my theory anyway.  Like I said earlier, clothes can do miracles.

 I felt beautiful and sexy wearing this dress, even if only for a twenty minute photo shoot.  My daughter tried to encourage me to go and buy my own dress, but I said 'No, where would I ever wear a dress like this?  I don't have your life.'  I certainly wouldn't wear it to church.  I'd feel everyone was staring at me like in the movie 'Gone with the Wind' when  Scarlet O'Hara appeared at the dance wearing bright red instead of black when she was in mourning for her husband.  And even though my husband and I still date, I would feel a bit over dressed if I wore it to our usual hangouts of Texas Roadhouse or the Budget Cinema.  So that leaves weddings and funerals.  Hhhmm, upstage the bride by walking in wearing a bright red color and stealing all her attention (ha! like I could ever upstage a young, beautiful bride!), or causing a scene at a funeral:  I'll take neither, thank you.
 So instead of buying my own Little Red Dress, I decided to just play dress up, pretending I was a little girl again wearing her mother's clothes and heels.   Who am I kidding?  My mother didn't even own a dress like this!  Her daily wardrobe consisted of PJ's, a battered old robe, and slippers.  I'll have to pretend my mother was Princess Grace or Nancy Reagan for the next twenty minutes instead.
 Ashley  suggested that we do a motion shot and had me start walking from the end of the porch towards her.  Gees, even the way I walk changed in this dress.  Maybe, I really do walk sexy…whatever that is.
 For shoes, I chose these nude Nine West sandals.  They have a slight heel, a ankle strap, and a really pretty gold buckle on the side.
 Sorry, no polish on my toes or fingernails.  I'm a working girl after all, and this is just make believe.
 For jewelry, I wore this triple strand diamond, inverted triangle necklace from Express and a gold bracelet from Stitch Fix.
 I carried a leopard clutch from Forever 21, but it was empty.  This was after all,  dress up time.

At the end of my twenty minutes of make believe I reluctantly took the dress off, put it back inside the plastic bag,  and put my standard ensemble of ankle jeans, a tank, and flats back on.  I left the world of glamour, and returned to my ordinary life of casual wear.   Good bye Carson's and Ralph Lauren, hello Old Navy.

So what about you.  What do you wear that makes you feel sexy?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy

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