Monday, April 30, 2012

More Caribbean Secrets

I'm continuing our visit to the Caribbean and sharing with you some of our favorite beaches and places to visit.  Those of you who have cruises and trips planned to the islands may want to save this information for your own trips. In this post I'm taking you to the islands of St. Thomas and Aruba~~ 

St. Thomas is a beautiful place to visit.  One of the best things about being here is that for all practical purposes, it's just like being in the US - your cellphone works, the US dollar is the accepted currency, and all of your favorite stores and fast food restaurants are just around the corner.  The downside - they drive on the OTHER side of the road here.  

As much as we LOVE to visit this beautiful island - for us at least - our visits here will be by way of cruise ships.  Meaning, it is doubtful that the Gardener and I will ever plan to spend any serious time here on our own.  The traffic in St. Thomas is serious business and we just are NOT comfortable with driving on the OTHER side of the road.  But having said all of that - we most certainly enjoy coming here for a day by way of cruise vacations.

St. Thomas is a mecca for shopping!  If you are a serious shopper - this is definitely the island for you! In all of the Caribbean islands - this is the very best place for serious shopping.  Charlotte Amalie is very walkable - you can spend hours and hours here just going from shop to shop.  But--- I'd rather be at the beach~~

One of the beaches that I love best here on the island is located on Lindbergh Bay.  This quiet, calm little cove is secluded and rarely crowded.  This is the beach where the cruise ship staff often comes to for their quiet relaxation.  This is one of my most favorite beaches in all of the Caribbean.  I absolutely love to come here. 

This is the entrance to the Emerald Bay Resort - and the beautiful beach is just beyond this gateway.  You need to walk through here to get to the beach.  Taxis are very (!!!) expensive on the island of St. Thomas.  So even though this resort is reasonably close to the cruise ship pier - you should expect to pay about $20 each way for a taxi ride to this beach.

Don't you wish that you were here right now?

 You can rent an umbrella and 2 chairs here at this beach for $15.  Just pick out a chair and make yourself at home- someone will be by later to collect the money - they are very laid back here!  You can rent snorkel equipment here at this beach - but - this is actually NOT a good beach for snorkeling.  The best place to snorkel is Sapphire Beach - we actually drove there first - but that beach is on the windward side of the island and the waters were too rough for snorkeling - so we came back here to 
enjoy this beautiful place.  The Gardener was a little disappointed because he had his hopes up for snorkeling - :(

This beach is a haven for me.  I find it to be a tranquil place to relax, and enjoy the warm Caribbean waters.This photo was taken when I first arrived at the beach.  Later that afternoon - about 30 people from other ships arrived - but the beach was still very calm and quiet.  

 There are 2 restaurants with beach bars here on this property.  Both of them are lovely and within a short walking distance.  The mango smoothie and cappuccino smoothies are both wonderful here!  The restaurant food is expensive -- so just be warned.  

Here is a little picture of me and Jan - at the end of our wonderful day here on the beach.  We're headed back to the ship~~ 


Aruba has always been somewhat of an enigma for us when it comes to cruises.  Honestly, we just have not been happy with our choices in the past for this island.  Don't get me wrong - Aruba has some lavish and beautiful resorts that would be fabulous for spending a land vacation  - but when it comes to spending a cruise day there- well~~ I just have not been able to find a beach that has made us happy - until~~

On our most recent trip, we followed a friend's suggestion and went to Moomba beach.  It was love at first sight!  We were greeted by the nicest man who owns a snorkel shop here on this beach.  He walked us over to this area and explained that all of these chairs are reserved for cruise ship visitors and are free - totally FREE for the day!

Umbrellas are available at a cost of $10 - but the chairs are free.  (I did notice that there were several chairs that were in disrepair - so if you want to come to this beach and get one of the free chairs - I would suggest arriving early.)  The beach was truly lovely, and in the course of the day, was NOT overly crowded.  

There is a lovely restaurant here on the beach that has outside seating as well as seating underneath the thatched roof.  The whole atmosphere was just what we had been looking for - great food and a fun place to be.  (they are famous for their fish sandwhich at the Moomba Beach Restaurant - and it IS fabulous! The food here is most reasonably priced.) 

 You can order your lunch or drinks at the restaurant - or from a sweet little lady who will bring the menu (and your drinks and food) right to your chair on the beach. (The menu for the beach chair part of the restaurant is slightly different and a little more expensive than the menu for the thatched roof section -- just wanted to let you know that.) 

 We spent the entire day here at Moomba beach and loved every minute of it!  The beach is about 15 minutes from the cruise ship pier.  Your taxi ride will cost you about $15 (for 2 persons) one way.  OR - you can do what we do - which is ride the local bus.  The bus station is a quick 3 block walk from the cruise ship pier and the bus trip will set you back a whopping $3.00 per person - round trip. You will need to have the correct change because the bus driver does NOT make change.     

 The bus will drop you off at the Holiday Inn.  The easiest way to the beach is to walk through the hotel lobby and then out to the beach.  Turn right and walk just a short distance until you see this restaurant - then you are here!

 Needless to say - we felt that we had found Paradise when we found this beach.  This was the most enjoyable day that we have ever spent on Aruba - and this WILL be our go to place from now on.  (Who couldn't be happy here?!!)

 Look who is all smiles!

 One of the things that we loved most about this beach is this wonderful big shade tree right in the middle of the restaurant area.  We pulled our FREE chairs up right underneath this big 'ole tree and called it PERFECT!!

 If you want a spot underneath this fabulous shade tree - then you need to plan on getting here EARLY.  We are always among the first people off the ship when we get into port.  If you snooze-- you lose!

 Does this guy look happy or what?
(the mudslides are pretty darn good here!)
For those of you who have questions about snorkeling - here is the deal ~~ Aruba is not known for great snorkeling.  They are famous for diving - but snorkeling, not so much.  If you want to snorkel, you can go to Boca Catalina Beach which is actually just a few minutes beyond Moomba - you can take the bus there as well.  That beach is small, not exactly lovely (in my opinion) and has NO amenities except for a couple of thatched shade covers that you can sit under - IF you get there early and claim them for your own.  We have gone there several times in the past  and the Gardener states that the snorkeling there is fair - to good.  One consideration would be to spend a short time at Boca Catalina and then follow it up with spending the rest of the day at Moomba.    

 We will be going back to Aruba again later this fall on another cruise and we are very much looking forward to spending another wonderful day at Moomba Beach.   For us - Aruba is truly One Happy Island!

 These colorful posters were made by local children 
and were part of a beautiful display that we saw while on the island. 

Coming up next - the last stop on our cruise tour~
         this unbelievable beach on the island of Curacao.

The Gardener and I have just returned from travels - again.  (Did you notice that I had been away for a bit?)  We spent 10 glorious days on the island of St. Martin - one of our favorite places to go for total relaxation.  Here is what we did for 10 days ---- nothing~~~
I'm just beginning to sort through all of those pictures of "total nothingness" - and am looking forward to sharing those with you all in just a bit. In the meantime, I'm beginning to make my blogging rounds, trying to catch up with all of you.  Also - I am trying very hard to visit each of you who take time out of your day to visit here and leave such wonderful comments.  (I'm starting to feel gushy again!)
I love you guys-

ps - we are getting ever closer to a Vera tropical giveaway!    

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Celebration -- (my nest giveaway!)

The little nests are off on their own around the world tours~~

I'm doing the happy dance here in my Sacred Yarn Room (or at least I would if I could do so without tripping over something!) My winter nesting is finally finished and 40 little nests have been delivered to happy little homes all over the world. 

During the past 4 months - I've made 40 woodland nests, 6 photo prop nests, and 3 tabletop nests.  I've strung yarns all over this room - somewhere in here, I think I've buried my sketchbook.  (yes - I've seemed to have lost it again!)

I've also created 2 new nest designs that I am anxious to show you!  One of the designs was created especially for the One World Our Art blogging event that is to be held later this year.  The other one - I will be showing you sometime soon~~

 So I've been busy - to say the least!

To CELEBRATE all of this and the fact that I am finished (!!)~~
I've saved the very last nest for YOU!

If you would like to enter this giveaway - please just leave a comment here on this post.  

The winner will be announced here at the bottom of this post on May 27- so be sure to check back. If you do not have a blog of your own - PLEASE make sure that you leave your email address so that  I can contact you if you win. Maddy girl is in charge of all contests.  (At 3 years old - I am sure she can be bribed!)

~~I have disabled my code system for comments so that it is easier for you all to leave comments on my blog.  That code system is just totally crazy and WAY too hard. I'm trying to make it better and easier for you to leave your comments. I do now get some spam comments - but I just delete them - it's worth the trouble for me if it keeps you from having to type that silly code.~~

Next year's Woodland Nest list is forming NOW!!  If you are interested in securing a spot on the list - please email me for info.  The nesting will begin this fall - most likely late November. 

If you would like to share this contest with friends on your own blog - please leave me another comment here on this post telling me that you have done so.   (I'd be so grateful~)

 Everyone who shares this contest on their own blog will be entered in a separate contest to win this beautiful Anthropologie tea towel. 

 The embroidery work on these towels is always so beautiful! I am totally in love with them and I choose one of my very favorites to share with you!
About the photo shoot~~

 My sisters gave me this shiny new Radio Flyer wagon for Christmas!  It totally rocks and is the best gift ever!  When I do a photo shoot - it is an all day production!  I haul tons of crap, stuff,  very important props (LOL! ) all over our yard to set up for the photos.  (The neighbors all think that I am crazy!)

I love to use some of my favorite treasures in the pictures.  This beautiful garden doll was made by my friend Dorthe.  I absolutely treasure her!  She has a very special place of honor in my Sacred Yarn Room. 

The beautiful "nest" necklace was a gift to me from my dear friend Jan.  Wearing this necklace has become my own special way to welcome the long awaited spring. I love it so much~

The photos were taken a few weeks ago just as the spring daffodils were coming in to bloom.  There is a section in the back of our yard, close to the woods, where the gardener has planted hundreds of these beautiful flowers.  Over the years they have naturalized and in the early spring we are greeted with a field of bright yellow blooms- our first hint that spring is coming!
There is a "changing of the yarns" here in the Sacred Yarn Room~  The various shades of greens are being gently set aside - and in their place are the mingled hues of golds, browns,reds. yellow, magenta, and orange.  You know what that means ~~ and so it begins! Work on the Harvest Nest has begun!
Next up-
The last of our island vacation photos.  I'll take you to wonderful beaches in Aruba and Curacao.  We'll also visit the floating market in Curacao - one of my favorite places to photograph.


ps - I am working on a charity fundraiser that is near and dear to my heart. I can only say that this project has taken on a life of it's own and is becoming more amazing everyday. I'm not sure why God has chosen me for this incredible experience.  More to come about this later~

***This Contest is Now Closed ***

#36 Retired Knitter is the winner of the nest
#62 Roses, Lace, and Brocante is the winner of the Anthropologie Tea Towel.  
Thanks to everyone who visited and entered - I am totally overwhelmed by your love of my little nests.  I love you all~~ 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Season Opener

Spring came early this year - and with it a palette of colors in hues so magnificent that we all just seem to stand in amazement and stare.  Almost a full three weeks earlier than the usual arrival of spring in "these parts" - without a doubt - it has been the MOST beautiful season opener~~

 The Lexington Cemetery and Arboretum  was established in 1849 as a place of beauty and, in part, to deal with burials from the cholera epidemic that was prevalent at that time. 

 The Cemetery comprises 170 acres and is know for its spectacular display of flowering trees in the spring.  The arboretum is reputed to have some of the oldest and largest weeping cherry trees in the nation and is also home to the most concentrated plantings of burr oak trees in the world.  (the acorns from burr oak trees are almost golf ball size!)

 The Cemetery was full of visitors who were all there to enjoy the beautiful blooms.  Professional and amateur photographers were everywhere.  This lady was nice enough to allow me to photograph her beautiful afternoon sketches. (I regret that I did not ask her name - what was I thinking!!) 

 Such a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. 
 I'd love to have talent like this!

 We couldn't resist the opportunity to take some
 photos of our Grand daughter,Keri Beth 
amongst all this gorgeous color.

 Even the ground cover was a brilliant display
 of tiny little white blooms.

She was not sure about the "sitting on the ground thing!"

Our baby girl will turn 2 years old later this month.
It seems amazing to me that she can be growing up so quick!

She was fascinated by the flowering branches
 that hung to the ground. 

When  you are 2 years old -
the world is bright and new-
so many things to touch!
Keri Beth loves "quack-quacks".
We enjoy taking her to the beautiful lakes
at the Arboretum.

When you take Keri Beth to feed the ducks-
you need an endless supply of bread!

 She adores her Papaw

The Arboretum is huge!  Roads branch off here and there
and it is easy to get LOST!
(When we visit here I always use the "find my car" app on my iPhone!)


By the lake, the tulip trees were dropping their leaves.
Another baby photo-op~

Forsythia bushes in brilliant shades of yellow.

She found a turtle~

 The Breath of Spring. . . 
(John McLeod)

The breath of Spring
Lifting on wings that feel
The pulse of Life
Hope that will bring
A sense of 'real'
After the shadowy, wintry days
Now gone....

The sun feels warm, I'm already mowing grass - (that crazy thing I LOVE to do)~~and I'm ready to open up the pool!  My nesting is finished!! So- coming up next is my little Celebration post - and a surprise for all of you (like you don't already know what it is!!)~