Monday, March 31, 2008


I am so frustrated tonight. I've created a slideshow of my London Holiday pictures in Photobucket and Slide but I can't seem to get them onto the side bar of my blog. (I put some in a post, but that's not what I want!) What am I doing wrong? Can anyone help me? I'm turning gray(er) trying to figure this out! I pride myself in doing this on my own, but for once I am stumped! HELP!!!

I'm not having the best of times (at work) since I'm back from London, but since I don't ever want to use this as a bitch session forum, I'm going to hold back my comments!! So if you don't see me post for a few days, you'll know why!! (Well sort of I suppose!)

This past weekend we probably did our last day of skiing for the season. It is nice to ski in warmer weather, however warmer means the snow is melting and you are actually "slush" skiing as I would put it! It's a lot of exercise, that's for sure! We still have 3 weeks left at some resorts, but if it stays this warm, they won't be very good. Looking foward to next season with a "better" knee!

I also got one of my ATC swaps completed over the weekend. I'll take pictures and post in a day or two!! Come back and visit soon!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

London Holiday 2008

London Holiday Wrap Up!

We are home already and reflecting back on our 9 day Holiday to London.

It really went fast as we expected it would. On our final day in London, we took a spin on the famous British Airways London Eye! It was quite an interesting trip, that started out in the sunshine, moved into rain, then snow and we landed back in the sunshine! What a whirl-win in just 30 minutes! You barely even realize you're moving, unless you really watch the cars in front or back of you. The views are awesome - well at least when you're not caught in a blizzard! We could see most of the major attractions around London and tried to take a few pictures, but it they are not very clear. I would have liked a second whirl around the Eye!

We spent the next few hours wandering around London, doing a little shopping and having a long dinner before we headed off to the Jack the Ripper tour. The tour took us through the streets of the East end to hear about the story of the Whitechapel murders that occurred in 1888. The guide was very knowledgeable and you could tell was very interested in her subject. Although the night was cold, we all listened intently as she unfolded the story of the murders that were never solved. It was a great way to end our holiday in London! I think I will read some of the books she recommended - I like the everyday history of London!

When we returned to our flat on Saturday night, all that was left to do was to pack up our stuff and go to bed. We didn't buy many souvenirs (too expensive) and we didn't have much of a problem packing what we had bought.

We left the flat around 8 a.m. on Sunday and headed to Hethrow Airport - in the SNOW! Yep, it was snowing on Easter in London! We bid Dad farewell at the check in as we were on different airlines and had to go to different areas to check in. We had a bit of breakfast before going through security. We were selected for additional security - what a pain, but no problems as should be expected. Then we were finally in the air and headed for Washington D.C. When we landed, we collected our bags and went through security yet again! Then a 5 hour LONG layover before boarding a plane for Denver! Finally at 11:05 p.m. we touched down in Denver! It was a long way home, very uneventful and we were happy to be in our own beds!

We have one last day off of work (today)! We did our grocery shopping and are working on our piles and piles of laundry! The mail wasn't too bad, although Moira could have kept the bills for us!! Melanie did her homework and now we're all just relaxing, dreading the return to real life tomorrow! It's nice to holiday! Hopefully we'll do it again, really soon!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day 8 - Bus Tour

We awoke from a very rainy night to SUNSHINE once again! We will consider ourselves very luck y to have 3 days with sunshine during our visit to London!

We decided to take the infamous "Bus Tour" of London today - after we have seen just about everything important in the city! It was good to learn a little bit more about some of the streets we've walked down, some of the buildings we've walked past and other such tidbits! We rode the yellow line, the blue line and a small part of the green line before getting back on the boat tour down the Thames. Disappointing though, there was no commentary on the river.

Midway through our ride, we stopped at "Ed's Diner" for a afternoon snack. It was very reminiscent of the 50's in the USA!

As we left the bus tour, we headed to find dinner and were caught in a magnificent hail storm! It even included some great thunder! We were looking for a fish restaurant, but ended up in a very nice steak restaurant to get out of the hail. It was a very expensive, but rather good dinner. After dinner we headed back to the flat once again.

With just one more day left in London, we have pretty much seen everything that we had wanted to see. The last 2 major things on our list are the London Eye and the Jack the Ripper tour, which we will conquer tom morrow. It has been a good trip, and somewhat tiring. I will need a vacation just to recover! Because our last tour is late on Saturday I don't think I'll get to blog again until we return to the states on Monday, so catch up with everyone then!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 7 - Kensington Palace

It is hard to believe that a week of our vacation has already passed! It has been a very good week, despite the cold, dreary weather! We have seen many historic places, with so much history learned, my head is spinning!

Today's first stop was to the Twining's Shop since they are to be closed the remainder of the weekend for the Easter Holidays. We stocked up on many different varieties. It is too bad I don't like tea! The shop clerk presented me with a fabric banner of the store for the misunderstanding of their opening sign for today. The sign read it was suppose to open at 9 a.m., at which time we were promptly waiting outside the door. Unfortunately he informed me that the store would not open until 9:30 and since we waited, he gave me that special gift. I felt that was extremely nice since we would have waited anyway!

From here we moved on to Kensington Palace the last home of Princess Diana. The small Palace was very beautiful and had a display of the aspects of Diana's life. I find that fascinating since she was not even an "official"member of the royal family upon her death, despite the fact she will always be called the princess. She was a beautiful woman and some of the photos that were displayed were very smart. The gowns that were displayed that she wore were fabulous. The rest of the Palace that was featured included the state rooms once occupied by Queen Victoria prior to her becoming Queen. There were many displays about the royal dress codes, which were very interesting. After we left the Palace, we strolled into the gardens for a very short time and found a bench to eat our "picnic" lunch. That didn't last long as it began to rain on our parade!

We took the tube back to the Trafalgar Square area where we hunted down the Ben Franklin House. We had just missed one tour, so we milled around for 40 minutes while we waited for the next. While we were doing that, we picked up a few trinkets and got our pictures in at Trafalgar Square. The Ben Franklin Tour was a bit disappointing however the house itself was pretty cool to see. Our guide was not used to providing such tours but was forced to since the audio tour was not working. The house had almost been torn down at one point, but thankfully it was saved and has been restored. They had put a huge beam under the building to keep it standing, which caused the floor to bow. Other than that, we didn't learn too much.

After that tour, we headed down the mall to get a good look at Buckingham Palace. The Palace is not open for tours at this time of year, so a few pictures of the front facade is about all we got.

From there we headed back towards our flat, with a stop at the market and the chocolate shop! (Important things!) We hoped to get back in time for the Charles Dickens Museum (which is a few doors down) but it was a bit too late. We relaxed a few minutes before enjoying a nice dinner at the corner pub. Melanie and I had Bangers and Mash (otherwise known as Venison Sausage) and the men both enjoyed the Lamb Burger. It was very good. Maybe one of our better meals!

Tonight we are researching our options for tomorrow. It looks like a Bus Tour is going to win as our first option of the day! Off to buy the tickets....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 6 - Hampden Court Palace

We woke up to the glorious SUN!!! What a wonderful site for London and probably the last we see of it before we head back to Colorado!! Too bad with the sun came some really cold air! I was freezing all day long!

We took the tube and train today to Hampden Court Palace arriving just as they opened. We joined the first guided tour led by a gentleman dressed in period costume. He welcomed us to the Palace and gave us some general information about the complex. From there we joined another tour where our female guide (dressed as a Lady) described in great detail the rooms of King Henry VIII. The great hall that we were awed by was used as a dining room for members of his court. His court was rather large and more than 600 were fed in that room in 2 shifts. The tapestries on the walls were wonderful and each one is worth more than than a ship today. There were a total of 10.

After our guided tour, we got the audio guide and set up to learn more on our own. We got to view the Apartments of King William and Queen Mar, the apartments of George II and lastly the great Kitchens. Afterwards we headed out into the gardens to enjoy their splendor. Lastly we took a quick jaunt through the hedge maze. This was yet another wonderful tour ant took us almost 6 hours!

From Hampden we headed back to London and to Harrods Department store where I proceeded to have a "meltdown" with all the crowds of people. I was looking for a few souvenir items to take home and just couldn't seem to get around without stumbling into millions of people. Eventually I found what I wanted and couldn't wait to get out of there.

After the tube ride back to the neighborhood where we are staying, I had yet another brush with disaster when my shoelace got caught in the escalator! I couldn't pull it out of the elevator - it just kept trying to pull me back into it. The people behind me kept pilling up and trying to help me get out of the hold of the monster! Eventually Dad pulled me free!! Thank heavens!

After a nice meal at an Italian restaurant by the flat, Dan and I headed back out to explore the area. We looked for the BBC shop only to find they are no longer in business. (Guess we'll have to order Doctor Who stuff online.) Then we searched for the Twining's shop and found that they will be open tomorrow and closed for the remainder of the weekend... looks like we're going there tomorrow. And before we headed back home we went back to the Toy Store where they did find Doctor Who stuff and found out their hours so we can go back and get Melanie what she wants! It was a nice walk. Hard to imagine that people are still out and about so late.

Speaking of late, it's past my bedtime. Another day out by 8 tomorrow, so I'm off for some sleep...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 5 - Westminster Abbey

This morning we headed for the Westminster Tube Station bright and early to see the Winston Churchill Cabinet Rooms and War Museum. For those who enjoy World War II history, this is a very interesting place. I was surprised that the bunker was not embedded deeper into the ground. It is amazing that it was never bombed! The exhibits in the War Museum were very high tech and hands on.

From there we headed over to Westminster Abbey, another very old church with lots and lots of history. We choose not to take the audio tour on this one, but wondered around on our own. The royal memorials throughout the church were very interesting. There are many Kings and Queens laid to rest in the Abbey and each one had a special little niche. There were also some wonderful displays of royal costumes that were over 400 years old! It was amazing at how they were still in such good shape. We thought the architecture was beautiful but overall I think my family enjoyed St. Paul's Cathedral more. I suppose they each have their own piece of history!

After we had our "inside picnic" lunch, we went back to the House of Parliament to see if we could go in and watch some debates. The wait was over 2 hours, so we decided to take a tube ride over to Piccadilly Circus and see what was there. We took a few pictures and then headed to a store that supposedly was selling Doctor Who stuff. It took us clear away from the Circus... The store was more of a toy store but Dan did find a Tardis to take home. We continued on to try and find the BBC store, but to no avail. After a long walk, we ended back at the flat where we took a brief rest and then went to dinner.

So far our vacation is 1/2 over. We have really done and seen a whole lot! Poor Dad has come home every evening exhausted! He is doing an awesome job at keeping up with us, so hats off to him! Tomorrow we are going to see Hampton Court Palace and Gardens. I'm hoping it rivals Windsor as that still has been my favorite spot so far!

Just 4 more days... :(

Monday, March 17, 2008

Day 4 - Tower of London

Today we set off for St. Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London. Upon arriving at the Cathedral, the sun broke through the clouds and we actually saw some blue sky!!! It was God's way of welcoming us! (It was behind the clouds for the rest of the day however!!)

We took an audio tour of St. Paul's which was very nice. Unfortunately between the speed of the tour and other tour groups we all got separated. I headed up to the Whispering Gallery in the dome alone and up to the Stone Gallery (outside viewing deck). The views from up there were absolutely awesome! Too bad I didn't have the camera! When I got down and finally found Melanie and Grandpa, I found Melanie had not yet been up there. So up the 378 stairs I went a second time! We still did not have the camera!! Eventually we found Dan in the crypt and we were all once again reunited!

From there we went on to the Tower of London where we immediately joined a guided tour by the Yeoman Warder (or Beefeater). He was a funny chap with a lot of "American" jokes! We learned a lot about the history of this royal palace, especially about all the killings that took place. We toured the rest of the grounds which included a "Very Quick" glimpse of the crown jewels! We actually got 58 seconds to see them because Melanie and I went back on the moving walkway a 2nd time and got an additional 29 seconds! Boy are there a lot of shinny jewels in there! After a few more hours of touring the grounds, we went down to the harbor where we boarded a city cruise ship and headed off to Greenwich.

The cruise ship was nice (and warm) and a good way to see the city. From Greenwich we headed back down river towards Westminster. We passed by the Tower Bridge at sundown and got a few good pictures! One may just be our next Christmas Card! We got off by Big Ben and found a good pub to eat St. Patrick's Day dinner at. By the time we stopped for groceries and got home it was after 9. We are exhausted!!

Tomorrow... Westminster Abbey

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Day 3 - Rain and the Bridge

We woke up to rain, rain and more rain! Gotta love London! (At least it's not snow!)

We took the tube to the Tower Hill station today and exited right in front of the Tower of London! It was quite an impressive site in the middle of London's modern buildings. Since it wasn't open yet, we walked to the Tower Bridge instead! Unfortunately just as we started the self tour, our camera blinked "low battery". No one had checked that. We very carefully limited the pictures we took all day hoping it wouldn't die at an inopportune moment!

The views from the bridge are wonderful - I'm sure even more impressive without the fog and rain! We could walk along the East side (part of the way) and the West side of the upper bridge expanses. When we got to the South tower, we were able to go down into the steam room where they raise and lower the bridge. This was done with steam in under 1 minute each direction for nearly 80 years. Today it is raised with an eclectic motor.

From the Tower Bridge we headed down river to the HMS Belfast ship. This is an old cruiser ship that served in World War II and the Korean War. We followed an audio tour around the ship up and down lots of ladders. I don't think I'd want to spend much time on a ship like that - too cramped! I think the guys enjoyed in a lot, as I expected. While on the ship we enjoyed our "inside" picnic lunch while it continued to rain outside.

From the ship, we continued to walk further down the Thames River towards Shakespeare's Globe Theater. We decided to go that direction instead of back to the Tower of London because our camera was on its last limb and we still had to come back this way to see St. Paul's Cathedral (since it was closed for visitors today). We got right onto a tour and were whisked into the theater by a very impressive tour guide. This is actually the 3rd Globe that was built. The first one was destroyed in a fire about 14 years after it was originally opened. The 2nd one was torn down. And this 3rd one was built in more recent times (like in the 1990's). Performances don't start until April in this open air theater, but there were students practicing some scene's of Shakespeare's plays up on the stage. It was amazing they could concentrate with all the tours coming through! We got to sit on all levels, including standing in the middle area in front of the stage. I thought this was quite impressive even for a gal who can't understand most of Shakespeare!

After the tour we headed back towards our flat, with a last minute detour to Chinatown! We picked one of the first restaurants we found and had an adequate dinner. We find the difference between service in the States and the UK to be much different. There are no fortune cookies!!

Again tonight we are just sitting around decompressing, charging the camera battery and planning our trip for tomorrow. I think we'll try the Tower of London again - maybe this time we'll get there!!!

For those of you in Colorado - stay warm, I see another storm is brewing!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 2 - Windsor

What an absolute LOVELY day! (Well excluding the London weather of course!)

We spent the day in Windsor exploring the Castle and it's grounds! To get there we took almost 2 hours, 5 trains and a little bit of walking, but we made it without getting lost once! (OK, so one train was not needed, but we still didn't get lost!) Shortly after we arrived was the Changing of the Guards ceremony - very spectacular! I had a bad view at first taking pictures of feet and other people's heads but eventually I got onto higher ground and things were good!

After the ceremony, we continued with our audio tour to see Queen Mary's Dollhouse, the Drawing Gallery, the China Room, the State Rooms and the Semi-State Rooms. We were fortunate that the State Rooms and Semi-State rooms were open as they are not always. In fact, we were fortunate that the Queen was even on the premises when we were there! You know this by what flag flies over the main tower.

The State Rooms were most impressive with all the paintings, ornate furniture and weapons on display. It was so hard not to take pictures of everything I saw! In fact no pictures inside were even allowed. All I have is my memory and a few postcards. Windsor Castle sustained a fire back in 1992 and we were very impressed with the restoration project that they completed. It was amazing that with all the valuables and all the damage the fire did that not more was destroyed. My favorite room was the one that housed all the swords and the guns. I'm not sure which this one was but the displayed armory was fantastic! The swords were all so beautiful!

The grounds were very impressive despite the lack of flowers at this time of year. The grass was already quite green and I'm sure that the summer hosts such wonderful displays of flowers! As usual, we were greeted with sprinkles of rain during our walking tour of the grounds!

Our last stop at the Castle was St. George's Cathedral. I do not have the proper words to describe how beautiful this monument was! Again, we have only memories to take with us! I know my Dad was in awe of all the craftsmanship he saw throughout all the buildings and most especially in the Cathedral. The Hall where the Knights of the Garter met was the most impressive part for me. I think Melanie thought it was rather creepy that people were buried in tombs and in the floor of he church. I on the other hand, find it fascinating!

We left the Castle grounds and headed to Eaton College where we were greatly disappointed that no tours were being given today. We took a few photos of the College and headed back to Windsor.

Our last hurrah today was a trip on the Thames River around Windsor. It was a nice boat ride, however the crew didn't do much to educate us on the history of the area. Thus why there were only 8 people on the large boat! (OK, so it was drizzling too!) We were all still looking for more history of the area!

Our trip home included a stop at King's Cross train station where we found a nice little Italian Restaurant. It was a good meal and a nice end to a glorious day! Tonight we are all relaxing and getting ready for tomorrow - The Tower Bridge and The Tower of London!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Day 1 - We've Arrived

Our first day in London has turned out to be rather nice! Our flight arrived a few minutes early and we breezed through immigration rather quickly and on to baggage. There we waited a what seemed like a long time for Grandpa to arrive. Since his plane laded about 25 minutes after us, the lines through immigration were really long. We eventually met up and were on our way into London!

Our flat is very simple but very nice! We will get a great workout with the stairs up to the 3rd floor! The bedrooms are on the 4th floor which used to be the servants quarters! Yes, we're sleeping in the servants quarters! After a quick stop at the flat we walked over to the British Museum.

The British Museum was HUGE! You could spend days there and still not see everything. We saw what we wanted including The Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is what allowed Archaeologists to decipher the meaning of Egyptian Hieroglyphic''s. It was hard to get close with so many people hovering around. We also saw artifacts from Ancient Egypt, including mummies, Assyria and Mesopotamia. British Museum has the largest collection of ancient artifacts in the world.

With very little sleep in the past day, we headed back to the flat for a short nap before dinner. That was a very welcome event! We had a good dinner at a family restaurant in Russell Square and did a little grocery shopping before heading back to the flat.

Tomorrow we are off to Windsor Castle in the beautiful town of Windsor! Stay tuned for some more great adventures in London!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I am suppose to be packing for our trip (we leave tomorrow morning) but instead I'm doing one last (fast) entry on my blog!!

Here is the litle tag book that I made for Sarah to help her remain motivated on WW! There are 4 pages where she can record the items that will help her stay on track and motivated to take
off the weight and keep it off! I added a few that she had told me about but left TONS of room for her to add the rest! I really hope that she will like it as much as I do!

OK, off to pack!!! I'll be back in a few days to let you know how London is...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ATC Challenge Weeks 4-5-6

I didn't have a camera for a bit, so here are the ATC's to our weekly challenge for the past few weeks!

Week 4 - What inspires me? I spend a lot of time looking at other's work! My favorite place to browse is Two Peas!

Week 5 -What do you miss? I miss my Mother most of all and all the things she did. This is my favorite one so far!

Week 6 - Shoes! The shoe on the front might be pretty but I don't have many of those in my collection! In fact, my opinion - they're highly over-rated! I'd rather be barefoot!

Hope you enjoy these! Will have more when I come back from vacation!

BTW - I bought a $7 Rolodex punch that works pretty good to punch out those notches! I didn't use it on any of these but will plan on it for the future! Hope they come out with something easier, but it does beat hand cutting!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Monday!

Most people aren't happy when Monday rolls around... it means back to work! I'm just happy this time around because I only have 3 days to work this week (well now just 2) and then we're off on vacation!!!

This weekend was fairly uneventful. Dan had a rough time on Saturday getting home from business trip to MI this past week. His flight was cancelled out of Lansing but they took him to Grand Rapids and got him on a flight direct to Denver instead. He was about 5 hours late, but at least he made it!!! It put a wrench in our Saturday plans though and we ended up doing errands on Sunday instead. No skiing for me. WAH! I sure hope I can get a few days in when we get back before the season ends. The season ends sometime in mid-April, except for A-Basin which can stay open into July if the conditions are right! We have never skied that late though - I wonder what that is like!!

I got a haircut and color before the big trip! Maybe it will help me look younger in all the pictures we take?! One can only hope! Haven't started packing quite yet, but we are old pros, the night before is good enough!!!

I spent the weekend working on a surprise for my DN! Since she may be reading this, that is all I'll say! It really turned out cute and I hope to take some pictures and post them before I leave. Keep creative everyone!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

6 days and counting down...

Actually less than that now since today is almost over!! London here we come! I can't wait!

In the meantime, I managed to get 2 CJ's done this week and several ATC's! Coming from a slow scapper that is AMAZING! I was hoping to trade with Toni today but she wound up with 2 sick kids. Bummer! We'll try again for Monday! It's weird, but I have no real deadlines looming in my face and I feel really lost tonight!! I'm not used to time to relax. It was a long week, so it is probably what I need - I'm dreadfully tired!

Dan will FINALLY be coming home tomorrow after a very long road trip! I'll be happy to see him! We have a few errands to take care of before our trip, so it's good timing! I am hoping to spend Sunday skiing or snowshoeing - whichever I can do! I just need to get some exercise and MOVE! I know Dan is tired, so it's really up to him what we do.

Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No camera...

Dan took the camera with him on his busines trip this week, so I can't take pictures of all the ATC cards I have made! Wah!!! I've got 3 more weeks of our challenge sitting here waiting to get photographed! I actually am ahead of the game now since I will be gone for a bit starting next week! I suppose that's a really good thing.

We were suppose to get snow this afternoon but it never materialized. Now they say it's coming tonight - we'll see! I'm going to be a weatherman in my next career - they can be wrong all the time and still have a job! They just have to look pretty! I'm working from home the next 2 days, so bring on the snow all you want - I have no where to go!!!

I am working on a very challenging CJ from Patti tonight. Can't give away her secret, but she is really making me work!!! It's fun though - really it is!! Really using my noggin'!

9 days and counting down to London! Oh do I need a vacation!

Night all!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

ATC Swap

This is for my first ATC Swap and I'm pretty happy with the results! The theme was Pink and Green. I used this great image from A Muse. It's a great stamp because (1) I don't have to color it in and (2) it's a bunny!!! I am an Easter Baby so bunnies are special to me!! The pattern paper and ribbon are Making Memories. I did a little bit of doodling too! This is the first one, so I wonder how the next 9 will turn out??!! TFL!

Enjoying (Pre) Spring Weather

Made this cute card for my dear friend Marlene, with the help of my other dear friend Toni! I saw this stamp that Toni had and knew it was a perfect fit for Marlene - the professional shopper!! When I was visiting with her in Chicago a few weeks ago, that is what we did - SHOP!! Toni did such a wonderful job coloring it! Unfortunately I had to tell Marlene the truth that I didn't do it myself!!! I know Marlene loved it (and so did I)!

Today is a quiet day in Castle Rock! It is beautiful out, so I think I'll go for a walk to enjoy the day! But for right now, I'm just being lazy - still in my PJ's! That is quite unusual for me! Dan is coming home from NM but won't get here until about 5:30 and then he's gone again to Chicago tomorrow at noon. I guess that means lots of guiltless scrapping time today for me!!

Enjoy Saturday - I know I will!