Thursday, July 29, 2010

Here come the ships!

Living in a port city has its perks, the main one being a magnificent view to enjoy everyday. Every season and often from day to day the appearance of our great lake can vary greatly. Winter storms can bring a gray pallor to the waters and wicked waves to watch. Summer days bring out the perfect, brilliant blue to highlight the pristine white sails of the boats bobbing along. A day like today is a special treat as it only comes around once a year - the tall ships have come into port! This year nine tall ships have made their way to Duluth and lines will be long for Duluthians and our visitors who want to get a closer look at these amazing vessels. We made our way down the Lakewalk to take in the sight of the ships cruising toward the Aerial Lift Bridge which would rise to welcome them into our harbor. I can't wait to get a closer look in the next few days!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

and falling, and falling, and falling for about two hours. This was the case on Saturday as I participated in the BIX7 race in Davenport, Iowa. This is not something I would have volunteered to do a few years ago, but then I met my wonderful husband who has been participating in this event for 21 years.

The BIX is a 7 mile run (or walk in my case as well as a lot of others) on a very challenging course through the streets of Davenport. The first half mile or so is straight up hill, a pretty daunting undertaking especially on a hot July day. I was ever so grateful for the pouring rain that cooled us for nearly the entire race. There were definitely concerns about having to delay or cancel the event due to the severity of the storm, which I can attest to as we were driving in before the scheduled start time watching some wicked lightning strikes. Thankfully the lightning stopped but the rain didn't which helped many of the over 15,000 participants from the typical race day issues of heat stroke.

This was my 7th year participating in this grueling, hilly trek up Brady Street and on through other Davenport Streets near the Mississippi River. It's breathtaking in many ways not least of which are the hills. It's amazing to watch a sea of people bobbing up and down on their way up Brady. As a walker and a short one at that, it takes about 10 minutes (the point at which I actually reach the start line in the middle of those 15,000 people0 for me to actually see the world-class runners sprinting up the hill. Four lanes of traffic across filled with a bunch of crazy people who couldn't think of anything better to do on a Saturday morning (like sleeping in or something) and I'm one of them.

The course is lined with a bunch of other people cheering us on and partying at a pretty early hour. Bands and DJs are there, too, to keep us moving with some motivational music. The thousands of volunteers along the race route are amazing - handing out water (which may not have been needed quite as much this year), checking for participants who are having some difficulty, calling out the splits so we can see if we're on track for our goal, and many others. It's also a must to high five the hands of the kids who are there to cheer us on and keep us motivated - I hope it's as fun and thrilling for them as it is for us!

This couple hours of athletic prowess happens in conjunction with a magnificent jazz festival in varied locations in the city. Depending on how the race has gone, my husband and I will take in some of the music on Saturday night along the banks of the Mississippi. That didn't happen this year as my ankle was not really in favor of any more walking for that day. Nevertheless, it was a great day spent in the Quad Cities with 15,000 of our closest friends!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Paper Collage Fabric Design

Each week, my very favorite site in all the world, Spoonflower hosts a different design challenge. I don't enter every week as I don't have time to create for all of them and some themes just don't interest me. However, a few weeks back, they introduced an upcoming theme which captured my fancy and I set to work. I began the preparations for this particular challenge over 3 weeks ago as I wanted to have lots of time to to plan and create.

The challenge issued was for a paper collage design with a bare minimum of digital manipulation used in the design process. I set to work creating completely original collage papers and watercolor papers that were then filled with my calligraphy. You can see the original papers and additional materials of corrugated cardboard and paint chips below.

I cut and combined flower petals and leaves from these papers with corrugated cardboard and old paint chips. Then they were laid out on one my collage sheets and scanned. I performed a little digital magic to make the pattern repeat seamlessly and the fruits of 3 weeks of my labor are below.

The voting for this very creative contest opened up on Thursday and it's been fantastically fun to see the creativity of others. Some clipped from magazines, some stamped designs and then formed a design - there are just all sorts of designs out there and it's just remarkable to view them all. If you're so inclined, you should head over to Spoonflower and participate in the voting!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cork Tray

I finally got around to making something lovely for our home with all the wine corks that we've been collecting as well from a wonderful Freecycler! I've still got lots of them to create with, but I have been really wanting to create a tray for our dining room with corks. I took a bunch of the corks and sliced them in half lengthwise and figured out the pattern I wanted to use. Then I got to use my power tools to slice up some lumber scraps to form the base and border of the tray, painted it up and then set to gluing the corks in place. The final touch was slicing some thin rounds of cork to create little feet so as not to scratch up the table and voila - new dining room table decoration! Much to my surprise, the next day we went to dinner at the Thirsty Pagan over in Superior, WI and they have the very same idea for serving their fantastic pizza! I can't believe it took us as long as it did to make it to dinner over there - we won't make that mistake again!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Salmon Salad

The fruits of summer are here and they are so yummy! Tonight was the perfect evening to create a salmon and spinach salad that takes almost zero effort and use some of those wonderful summer fruits - raspberries and blackberries tossed in with spinach, gorgonzola cheese, pecans and raspberry vinaigrette with salmon on top. So tasty served along with thyme and parmesan toast. I wish summer didn't have to end!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hibbing highlights

This weekend's little jaunt included a drive to Grand Rapids, birthplace of Judy Garland. We actually stayed in a hotel right next to her childhood home which is now a museum(her home wasn't actually always there - they moved it there). Then we ventured up to Hibbing, birthplace of Bob Dylan (formerly known as Robert Zimmerman). Aside from that that little piece of Hibbing history, we also discovered that the town is also the birthplace of Greyhound so we visited the Greyhound Museum! There are buses from throughout their history that you can tour as well as buses that have been converted to motorhomes. I loved observing how little details changed over the years. The middle pic shows interior paneling that was typical of the buses in the 60s. My husband had fun sitting in the driver's seat of the buses as well as placing his face in the cutouts throughout the attraction! The bottom pic is my favorite from the day!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grandma's Birthday

My wonderful grandma celebrates her 84th birthday tomorrow and though I won't get to see her until next month, I was able to whip up her card to accompany her gift in the meantime. One of my interests is finding the letters of the alphabet in our everyday surroundings. I took the letters for grandma and found a quotation to accompany them to create the card front. This card is on its way to greet grandma back at home! You can see all the letters I've collected at Local Letters.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Perfect way to spend a Saturday

Our very sunny and hot Saturday was spent hiking a mile up one of the many hills here in Duluth from our house to the top of Chester Creek Park. Once the agony of the up hill climb is sweetly rewarded with one of the most magnificent treasures that our city offers - the gorgeous Chester Creek Park and the many beautiful sights within. I am always amazed while hiking through the park that this park lies right in the middle of the city, but as you wander through you are completely unaware that there is a bustling city just above you.

Another marvelous aspect of spending the day this way is what lies at the end of the park before the walk back home. As you exit the park back into the reality of city life, Burrito Union awaits you. We finished our trek just in time to replenish ourselves with breakfast burritos, bloody marys and lots of water. What a perfect way to spend a Saturday!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Leave the light on...

Along the shores of Gitchee Gummee, there is a very special anniversary taking place. The Split Rock Lighthouse is celebrating its centennial! To commemorate the occasion, every first friday of the month for this year, the lighthouse is illuminated. Last night a few hundred visitors came to witness the event over their holiday weekend. We fought for our places with the gnats to jockey for the best photo-taking position. I came back with a few nasty bites, but it was completely worth it as we got to share in the sight that usually only occurs twice each year - on the anniversaries of the dates that the lighthouse opened and the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

While we waited to be "enlightened," we watched the minor waves along the rocky shore and were treated to a ship slowly making it's way across the lake. And finally the the light was turned on!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Recycled Necklaces

I love taking items that I've already got and reusing them in a way that's a bit more me. With that in mind, I took some necklaces and other jewelry that served it's purpose in it's day and did a bit of makeover magic to make it a bit more dramatic! I love pearls and and all sorts of shiny baubles so I took a bunch of single strand pearl necklaces and an old brooch to begin. I added some silvery pearls and faux diamonds and attached them to the brooch with super strong adhesive and then restrung them and attached them to the brooch for a new, more blinged out statement necklace! Can't wait to wear it out for a fun date night!