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Happy Father's Day

To all the awesome dads out there, I hope you have a great day of pampering or at least doing what you love most.
Dad and me:
Dearest Husband (see, DH really DOES mean dearest husband and not what you think it means!) with our 2 monsters, niece and nephew.

Ireland

It's been less than two weeks since we got home, but sifting though all the photos, it seems like forever ago. How quickly we fall back into routine! Anyway, I managed to pick out 28 photos (rather than the 100 or so I wanted to show!) of the Ireland portion of our vacation.When we got to Dublin, the first thing we had to was get our rental car, which was scary...more for James than for me. After all, not only was he driving in a foreign country with different signs, but it was on the opposite side of the street, driving a MANUAL car. The stick shift was on the left, the rearview mirror to the left, etc. For a moment he started to panic before getting in that the pedals may be reversed too. Luckily that was not the case.So, I am the official navigator...right? This proves to be a problem because the airport is not on any of the maps we have and we had to get to the center of the city because we were staying at the Clarence Hotel our first night in Ireland. We got turned around once or maybe twice and quite possibly more than that because no one who gave us directions would give us street names. It was just "go straight here and follow around and then you will figure it out" ummm....okaaaaayyy.... I discovered the reason why they don't give street names to lost people in Dublin. It's because the street name changes every block. I am not making this up.We finally find our way to the Clarence and the car still has all its paint and we haven't killed anybody. Huge deal. Here is the view from the window of our room. Another view from our room. I loved this hotel. I think it might be my most favorite hotel ever. We were there on a Sat. night of a bank holiday weekend. It was hot the entire time we were in Ireland and there is no a/c. Our windows were open, it was noisy with all the partying, and when we finally fell asleep, they were still going at 4:30 am.We ate in the Tea Room of the Clarence. It was amazing food, service, etc. My only complaint was having to sit on the "stage" looking section of the restaurant. I felt like we were on display. You can see what that area looks like if you go to this link.The only thing that would have made our stay here better was if James got to meet Bono (co-owner of the Clarence).The next day we set off for Ashford Castle, which is the opposite side of the country. No problem right? Well...we quickly learned that you shouldn't pay too much attention to the street names on the map. We were given very good advice by a couple men at a pub where we stopped to use the facilities and ask directions. They said go by town names and ignore the street names. So my navigation tactics completely changed after that and we got there! The car still had all the paint, no dents, no deaths. My hands were stiff after gripping the dash for several hours...This is the view from our room at Ashford: Here I circled the windows of the room where we stayed: One of the best things about staying at Ashford was the grounds. There were several gardens and structures. I could only imagine being a kid here. I was excited to explore the acres of nooks and crannies, it would have to be a magical place for a kid.We took hundreds of photos just in the gardens. I won't bore you with ALL of them, but here are a few:

The back of the castle:

Two New Focals

I know I promised photos of the Ireland portion of our vacation. However, the weekend was way crazier than I anticipated and there are so many photos to sift through, it is something I will need a bigger block of time to accomplish than I have had so far. So, patience my friends. They will be shown sometime this week. I promise.In the meantime, how about some beady eye candy? I made these before we left for our vacation and they've been sitting on the counter, neglected, waiting for a new home. The poor things were finally listed on etsy tonight.

Where I've Been Hiding

Way back in March I spilled the beans about the awesome Christmas gift my husband gave me and the journal I got to go with that trip. We spent four days in London and then six days in Ireland and had 2 travel days. We walked in the door of our house Saturday, but I have been trying to catch up ever since and still feel behind-not that it matters all that much because it was the best vacation ever...
One of the frustrating things was that I REALLY wanted to blog about it every night. However, we left the laptop with the kids at their Aunt Stacy's in Chicago to do their schoolwork while we were gone and I wasn't going to England and Ireland to spend the entire time in internet cafes. We emailed the kids a couple times, but outside that, we stayed away from computers.
I just loaded the photos onto the computer tonight. I admit to feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of sifting through the 800 or so photos that we took. It is nearly impossible to narrow the photos down to a few favorites. So, for the sake of my sanity and your boredom, I am showing the London portion of our vacation tonight and Ireland will have to wait until Saturday because tomorrow is Open Studio Friday.
Sit back, relax, maybe turn the lights off so you can imagine you are watching the annoying relative's slideshow. I promise to keep the number of photos to less than 400....
In London we stayed at Charing Cross Hotel. It was about a 2 block walk to Trafalgar Square (and the National Gallery). After passing out for 4 or 5 hours after checking in in the middle of the afternoon (I couldn't sleep on the plane!) We walked to Pitcher and Piano for dinner, then made our way to Trafalgar Square. It was so beautiful lit up at night.

We passed the "Texas Embassy" Restaurant (in the background of the photo). I found it humorous. No, I wasn't drinking. I just look drunk all the time. Just ask the lady at the post office that was doing the paperwork for me to get a passport....

The only reason we didn't die in London:

Standing on the steps of National Gallery looking out over Trafalgar Square. That was the only day it rained our entire trip.

We tried to eat local at pubs and restaurants. The only "taste of home" we indulged in was a single trip to Starbucks when we were walking from Charing Cross to the Tower of London. I think there are more Starbucks in London than I've ever seen anyplace else. I was holding my husband's cup while he was taking some pictures. I didn't need that much caffeine...

We walked 10-15 miles each day we were in London. At the end of our stay, we were looking at going on one of those tour buses. When I looked at the places they stop, I realized we had walked to all the places on the list! You get to see so much more on foot. We came across the millenium bridge while walking. We didn't know what it was at the time, we just thought it looked cool.

St. Pauls Cathedral. We didn't intend to stop there, but passed it while walking, took photos and went in during a service.

I just loved the name of this restaurant. We did not eat here-just admired the name.

We had breakfast at this restaurant one morning. I am sure they thought I was nuts because I took a ton of photos in here. I loved the bright blue and red and the light fixtures made out of giant fruit can looking things (not shown here)

I thought this was a very interesting tree with all those puffball things on it. "Discovered" while walking along Thames River.

I loved these light posts along the Thames.

Another shot of stuff along the Thames.

Tower of London and Tower Bridge in background.

I was excited to see the Ravens of the Tower. Perhaps you have heard the story of how if the Ravens leave the tower, the Tower and the Crown will fall? I thought it would be cool to see these ravens.

Except, guess what? It's a total tourist trap. They are kept in cages, fed, wings clipped. How dumb is that? Of course they will never leave. These cages are right next to the bird shown above.

I make it a goal to witness or attend a demonstration whenever visiting a new city-especially in a foreign country. Once my family started a riot in a foreign city (Seoul) just by being in a park. This was pretty calm in comparison.

Oh please! I have to show Big Ben and my husband's handsome face!

I noticed the moon after taking the previous photo and had to zoom in.

This is my handsome husband inside Westminster Abbey. I love history and looking at the tombs of dead people as much as the next person. However, I can only take so much before I start getting reallllllllly tired of trying to read every memorial. I didn't know DH would enjoy it so much. We spent hours here. My favorite part was the old chapel inside with the medieval mural on the wall that is fading. Obviously, no picture taking allowed of that gem. I had to touch the oldest door in London while we were there. There wasn't a "do not touch" sign on it or anything...

I can totally see a design inspiration here.

Buckingham Palace didn't excite me all that much. I was more impressed with the ballsy people wanting to get their picture taken with these guys:

DH was more impressed with what this guy was carrying. I took this one on the sly. I didn't want him to aim that thing at me...

OK, kids, that's enough for today. Tomorrow is Open Studio Friday and then Saturday I will show some pictures from the Ireland portion of our vacation.

The Monster

I had a business related post about business banking, but my photos were horrible. So today, it's total fluff instead. Literally. Because this dog sheds. A LOT.Meet Nim the 1 year old Golden Retriever. She is my husband's "rebound dog". What I mean by this is we had a Golden Retriever named Taylor that was our "firstborn" child. She died the day before Thanksgiving in 2007 at the age of 13. We got Nim June of last year.

Celebrating another wedding anniversary and Channeling Dr. Phil

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 16th anniversary. I rarely talk about him here because I try really hard to embarrass him as little as possible in the "online world" because I do that plenty already without intending to.I guess after this little trip down memory lane, that whole not embarrassing him thing will be thrown out the window. I thought it might be fun (or maybe not...) to show how we looked then and now.This is us right after we started dating. It was 1989 and I was 16.

New Focal Beads

I torched about 4 or 5 hours Monday night (starting at 9pm-it was a late night!) and made about 4 or 5 focals I was super happy about. Here are a couple of them.

Drum Roll Please....

A focal using the new glass I got in the mail last week. And it's listed on etsy even though I considered making something for myself with it.

Dogs Love Jewelry Too!

Being a vendor in the boutique at Tapestry April 24, I did the typical thing I do before every show. Any guesses as to what that is? I stayed up almost all night making new jewelry because I never think there is enough-even though I always manage to overfill my table.However, I do know for a fact that I never have enough earrings. I don't really like making them and usually only have 2 pairs at any given show. Sad, but true. Guess what customers always ask for...EARRINGS! I had exactly ZERO pairs made a week before the show, and ONE pair made 2 days before the show. I made about 7 pairs the night before. Here is one of them:I like to tumble every piece of silver jewelry that is able to be stuck in the tumbler without damage. At 3 am the morning of the show, all the earrings were placed in the tumbler. At 5:30am when I woke up, I took all the earrings out, rinsed, dried, counted, and then placed them in my box to take with me.When I was setting the earrings up on display, I couldn't find the mate for the earring above and thought it was really weird and maybe I left it on the counter.That evening, exhausted, I found something strange looking on the floor with one of my beads attached to it. It was the missing earring! My Golden Retriever puppy (she is one year old now and still very naughty) had stolen it when no one was looking (husband and kids were home with her all day) and loved the earring so much, this is what she did to it:

At one point, that dog eaten earring also had swarovski crystals and a silver ball spacer and a straight paddle end. It's just as well because on closer inspection, those lampwork beads don't totally match because it looks like there is silver foil on one of them but not the other. Like I said, I was up super late and might have been a tad tired by the time these were assembled.

So the moral of the story is, don't get a naughty Golden Retriever...I mean, keep jewelry out of the reach of dogs. Or maybe the moral is don't stay up all night making earrings...

Look at my GLASS

I haven't been this excited to get new glass in a looooong time. I wanted to break it out yesterday as soon as UPS dropped it off. But that whole homeschool thing gets in the way of my playtime and then we had to go to a party. Because my sister in law reads my blog on occasion, she would have known I didn't really have swine flu and made that up so I could torch the evening away with my new sparkly stuff. *sigh* The pretty new glass will have to wait for Saturday.What is this magical glass you ask? It is called Chalcedony and is made by Gaffer Glass. I rarely run right out and buy every new glass that comes out because...welllll...that's expensive and sometimes there is some really crappy glass. I like to let others spend their money first to see what kind of results they get. If it looks cool and gets good reviews, I will probably fork out some bucks for it. Anyway, I can't keep up with all the different glass coming out. But I saw some photos of what people are doing with this glass and WOW!
Admittedly, the glass doesn't look so pretty. BUT it looks like it may be a good replacement for my beloved Terra which is no longer produced. (yes, I always call it beloved Terra. Probably some people think that is the real name. It's only called Terra). It is also a substiture for Raku (R108 Iris Orange) which many lampworkers have a difficult time striking or give up trying because it can be so fussy. This glass is supposed to strike into all colors of the rainbow and I can hardly wait to try it. *sigh*
Wanna see some beads with Terra?

This bracelet uses Raku (R108 Iris Orange-also baby poop brown color in cold rod form)

Stay tuned to see the results!
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