“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” — Sophia Lauren. “Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes… More
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter
— Izaak Walton
Imagination is powerful ~
As life is passing by, I find myself becoming more and more a creature of habit. Each morning hopping out of bed after tiding things up it’s time for coffee! French, Bold and Robust with a splash of cream. With coffee in hand I quickly catch up on the current events as well take in a bit of the local happenings.
It was a week ago I was well into my coffee when the local TV channel featured a blueberry farm inviting you to come out and “pick your own blueberries”. My ears perked up, we both love blueberries. I didn’t know the first thing about picking blueberries and I was curious.
I quickly got online and googled the Blueberry Bunch Farm featured on TV. It’s lovely website caught my attention and it continued to pull me in to want more. I was ready to go pick blueberries!
Reading the time and place I was next setting up a date with my husband to go pick blueberries. Noting the hours and location we decided to go the upcoming Friday. After gathering all the details of where and when I anxiously awaited for the gates to open for blueberry picking!
Blueberry Bunch Farm U-Pick season will be opened Friday March 4th 2022 and will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2pm. We were told they will be open until May 2nd but for further information, they encourage you to find them on Facebook for sthe latest updates!
It was now Friday and with our coffee in tow we headed out to LaBelle, Florida. We were amazed arriving shortly after 9:00 am the parking lot was filling up and traffic was coming and going. WOW ~ we weren’t the only blueberry pickers!
The signage was great and showed you the road to fun picking!
Checking in at the stand we shortly were set up with buckets and a harness if you so choose to keep both hands for picking. Of course we wanted harnesses! We wanted as many berries we could get in our buckets.
Mr. B quickly got in the berry picking mode and started filling up his bucket! Shhhh ~ please don’t tell but we tasted several berries while picking to make sure these were the real deals. Sure enough, they were the read deal and we just hoped we didn’t have berry stains all over the front of us with our taste testing. The blueberry plants were so full of big, beautiful berries and just dropped in your hands.
Mr. Blueberry stood tall and mighty with a welcome wave to greet everyone upon entering the blueberry fields. Laughter and giggles were heard up and down the rows with families picking berries together. Young and old ~ what a fun and healthy event for all.
The rows of berry bushes stood tall and luscious making it fun to pick a bucket full in no time at all! I had no idea berry picking could be so easy.
Blueberries are a healthy, stress-free food. You get fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and potassium in every handful of blueberries – at just 80 calories per cup. They’re also low in sodium and have virtually no fat. It just feels good to feel good about what you eat.
Not only adding a punch to your well being, they certainly can spruce up any fruit tray, bowl of cereal and offer that appeal to the eye.
Blueberry’s can be ate fresh, put in baked goods, used in sauces and makes wonderful jams and jellies.
After spending only 45 minutes in the blueberry patch we both had 3/4 of a bucket! It was time to check out our berries. Tallying up our total we had seven pounds between the two of us. I knew right away where our berries would go. Half would be used in making jam and the other half we would enjoy fresh.
Pulling up several recipes it all seemed pretty easy. Berries, sugar and pectin of some sort. I choose a recipe using a package of lemon Jello and a bit of fresh lemon juice with a dash of cinnamon. My recipe produced twelve small jelly jars for “give always” and three jars for ourselves. The taste test proved to be a success ~ please note the recipe below.
If pottery is your thing, there was also a gal that sold handmade pieces. The color were stunning, fun and certainly could give a special look to your dish-ware collection.
What a fun adventure! If your in Florida around the Fort Myers area, this Blueberry Farm is certainly worth looking up! It offers healthy benefits in more ways that one to take advantage of. Be sure to pull up updated details before heading out. Once you are there and in the midst of your picking, you will be happy you made the road trip.
In my closing I always love to hum to a little tune in my adventures and projects. This one came to mind thats brings back the saying its an oldie and a goodie! Happy blueberry picking ~ you will love it!
I found my thrill
On Blueberry Hill
On Blueberry Hill
When I found you
Though we’re apart
You’re part of me still
For you were my thrill
On Blueberry Hill
Whose ready for Part II of the Blue Star Collections, the staging project of a historic four plex apartment building?
THANK YOU for coming back! For those that might have missed my first blog at bluestarbinocular.com titled “Right up my Alley”, this is a continued story of a 1916 Vintage Four Plex apartment building Blue Star Collections staged for Airbnb rentals.
A two week timeline and limited budget, this staging project was on the countdown. There was no renegotiating of time or money, the Airbnb already had bookings! Blue Star Collections needed to get in and out to get the job done!
So, lets carry on with the fast pace staging story ~
Each time I pulled up to the curb of this marvelous , historic building my heart always did a little pitter patter. Finding new things in this old building was just amazing. The building was recently refurbished a few years ago so it made for a perfect clean slate to stage.
The beaded, worn door knobs were all original catching your eye with its beauty. These knobs made my mind wonder of how many hands must have opened these doors in the past years. Walking up to the front door presented such a grand entrance upon entering. White paint was used exterior and interior giving way to the appealing eye and strutting its refreshed look. Black accents popped a sexy look and made it stand out in the historical neighborhood.
My wheels were in motion for two solid weeks as we completed this project. My journal filled up with list after list of ideas, costs and drawings of what the outcome might look like. Each day I did a tally of my budget starting with the necessities. I also dreamed each day adding those splashes of interesting accents making a difference but still keeping in mind this would be a working property.
The building was convenient and secure as you entered in and out of the doors. The four apartments had their own codes, bells and whistles making it a no hassle for keys or calling ahead for access. Each time a renter moved out, the touch of an iPhone could change the codes. How easy ~
I had unwelcome meltdowns popping up wondering if this or that would fit in each apartment which lead to carrying around a tape measure at all times to ensure my numbers were correct. There was no extra time or room for errors on this project. Often the shops where I did my business had no refunds and limited exchanges. I needed to make sure my choices were spot on! The budget was dwindling down and time was of essence.
Brian my partner in crime and significant other was a trooper to put up with me. Tracking along my side, giving me support as well as offering ideas. If more furnishings were needed to fill the hole or something I had spotted earlier in my shopping, he became the “runner” of goods. Each day I counted my blessings, how lucky I was to have his patience.
Not only did the beds, living/dining room and baths need to be set up, the kitchens needed to stocked. For those of you have recently purchased dish and silver sets you know the expense. Reminding myself again to keep a neutral palette. I scored a couple second hand sets of white dishes with serving pieces that fit the needs and I was able to get 25% off to boot. Score!
A few pots and pans were added just in case there were a few cooks that might want to nest in for the night and do their own cooking. Everyday glassware as well as a few wine glasses was a must. After all, this was an Airbnb and having that “splash of wine” in a real wine glass makes us all feel special.
I constantly had to remind myself this was a complete Airbnb set up. Paper products, coffee, storage containers, etc. and the list grew. I quickly found that buying in bulk saved several dollars and took the pressure off making it a one stop shop.
The goal was to give each apartment a different look. To be honest, having three of the same sofas, chairs and tables would have bored me to death. I offended referred back to my journal reviewing my lists and drawings noting what furniture piece was going where. Sticking to the rule of thumb, less is more and reminding myself to make your pieces work for you ~ don’t let them rule you.
Ohhh yes, we often bought furniture for one room and after set up it finding it was more becoming in another room. This happening a few times, I thought Brian was going to string me up by the days end. I had to pick my battles and stick with them as I was breaking the rule of our timeline. I thought it was more important to have the look come together no matter how much muscle power it took. Each night we went home to a dose of Aleve. Whew ~
The delivery trucks were showing up when then said they committed to. Also, a few of my wonderful vendors offered a discount for bulk shopping offering great savings and stretching the dollars. Things were starting to fill in place.
We thanked our lucky stars we both agreed to have everything delivered. Our past experience of setting up Blue Star Collections shows we knew the muscle it would take to complete this job. For this project we were saving our muscle power to get the job done.
Not being familiar with the protocol of the delivery services, neither of us realized the breakdown of how the charges were calculated. An additional charges were put in place per set of stairs involved and each piece of furniture. We had several pieces and three sets of stairs! We reminded ourselves as we watch the young, strong men haul these pieces in and up the stairs, it was worth every penny hiring the delivery company. The neighbors would have been picking us both up off the curb, and who knew how many inappropriate words might have been spoken in the process.
Taking on this project I knew there would be lots of decisions to make. Visualizing what and where each of the working furniture pieces would best be placed. Each piece had a task to complete and also be eye appealing.
Shopping for nine beds proved to be a challenge. Even though I wanted to use doors or other interesting architectural pieces for headboards, it wasn’t time or budget effective. I wanted that punch of presence but it needed to be elsewhere in the mix.
Shopping for accent pieces is always fun. Adding the interesting splashes always made my mind wander and brought smiles as we hung them each of them offering that pop of color. I wanted to follow that sense by adding a piece of art or unique element to “catch attention” to the eye.
This canvas print was simple and yet sophisticated offering the punch of interest and color I was looking for. What do you suppose she was about to say hiding behind those sunglasses? The deep red lipstick draws your eye in wouldn’t you say?
I loved putting these two things together. The newspaper print paper mache used forming this zebra bust I thought went well with the typewriter print making it a statement. How different they both are but how they were tied together in many ways.
Each apartment I felt needed a clock and mirrors in each bedroom. When you have three bedrooms but not three baths many times there is competition for the bathroom to get ready. By adding a mirror in each room I hoped to make it easy for guests to get ready having their own space.
After putting in thousands of steps around Minneapolis in search for the special pieces, it was time to marry these things together. For better or worse ~
Welcome ~ come in and take a peek at these three finished apartments just waiting and hoping to catch your attention for your next Airbnb!
Keeping in mind that adding durable and hard working furniture would be best not only for clean up but making it eye appealing. Area rugs grounded the groupings and adding comfort. The beautiful hardwood floors just enhanced the setting.
Mixing and matching needed to be harmonized knowing additional seating would be pulled into group settings.
The bedrooms offered a bit of home with fresh linens and comfy new mattresses. Often Airbnb’s are offered to renters not strictly by the night but also offer weekly and monthly which calls for dresser storage and more.
As I shopped for pieces I told myself I didn’t have time for paint overs. I was hoping not to find something that would catch my eye but needed that new look. There just wasn’t enough time in the schedule waiting for paint to dry. Well I did make a couple exceptions, one of the exceptions was this fun sleigh bed. It was the right size, the right price and it was calling out to be painted black.
Next on my list was finding three dining room sets. I sat in many chairs making sure they were sturdy enough to handle a many butts, sorry no punt intended but the truth was to find good, used sets that weren’t worn out and looking good at the same time.
Over the two week time I knew the path well to this property. It was such a pleasure to meet a few of the neighbors. As they peeked out their windows wondering what was to come of this residence, many of them were excited to know this was being set up as an Airbnb. They often had family events such as weddings, reunions and needed extra overnight space and this Airbnb would offer just that!
The sweet, intimate front porches were also turned into sleeping quarters. The location was close by were several colleges. This Airbnb could offer accommodations for families to come check out the area and be a bonus to host several family and friends together under the same space.
I loved how the mirrors took on their own presence showing off several elements of the apartment. Hauling these heavy pieces up several stairs paid off. The room reflections shared a great exposure.
The kitchens were seamless with their white, clean and smooth finishes. Who wouldn’t want to prepare a fun charcuterie board or host a fun gathering working with this ease of layout.
As we were finishing up this project I knew I would miss hanging out here. The location was great, the bones of the property were awesome and having such a fun project was more than fulfilling.
Many thanks for following me through this project. I hope I inspired you to be creative, maybe giving your home a new look for less.
How lucky was I to land this fun gig and have the help from my supportive husband. It was “Right up my Alley” and would I do it all over you might ask? In a heartbeat ~
It’s time to celebrate!
We continue to explore the salty waters in Florida each week launching out to find new territory. Deciding on Naples, we were excited to check out the city dock and do a bit of fun. We had all our checks in order a d felt we were set to go ~
Reservation at Marina ✔️
Boat fueled and cleaned ✔️
Navigation set ✔️
Boat packed with food, clothes and libations ✔️
Off we launched ~ and soon we were blowing bubbles on the inter-coastal waters of Fort Meyers Beach.
Our ETA into Naples looked to arrive shortly before 4:00 pm. Perfect, it would give us time to tie up, put the bikes together and start our journey around Naples.
And then it happened! Someone or maybe I should say something had a better plan for us. After spending a few bucks to upgrade electronics on the boat we quickly learned once again Mother Nature is more powerful than us or any new fangled GPS.
Before we knew it we were up on a sand bar cruising lightly and the water quickly was turning mucky tan. Ohhhhh man ~ we tried tip toeing off the sand bar to get us to deeper waters and make it disappear like it never happened. It worked ~ as slow as we approached the sand the same routine worked to get off.
We thought we were out of the woods and back on our way when we felt the vibration. Now this sounds like a song, but this vibration wasn’t even close to making your toes start tapping.
Hmmm, only being 30 minutes from our dock we asked ourselves, do we continue or go back? After a few choice words we felt it was best to turn around to go back at our dock and contact a diver to go under the boat for a check.
Arriving back home, with egg on our face and making a few calls it was Tom De Coste from Apollo Yachts that came to our rescue! Tom quickly jumped into his gear and made a splash under the boat.
After a quick analysis it was a bent propeller making all the ruckess. We were amazed something so heavy could bend so quickly. But there is a silver lining to this story.
Years ago when Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast many boats were damaged and totaled out with insurance companies. My thrifty husband capitalized on this and bought several things from a boat recycled website for our boat “including two props”. In the twelve years we have had the boat, we have been lucky enough not to have to used them, until now.
Tom our man was amazed we had the exact prop to fit our boat driveshaft. Another splash in the water with tools, the prop and a few bubbles it was changed out in no time!
You see many good things came from this little episode. We met Tom, our man of many hats. Networking was done on the dock between Tom and another guy that sold canvas and worked on his fathers boat many years ago, rekindled friendship. And, the prop that was stashed ten years ago came in handy.
So, Mama said there would be days like this, yes she did. We feel fortunate no one was hurt, fun was had and tomorrow we will launch again for Naples. Wish us luck ~
Meanwhile I can’t seem to get this song out of my head as we both look at each other and grin ~
Everyday there are people, places and things that inspire us with our surroundings big or small. Do you give it much thought how easy it is to be inspired with the simple things in life? Inspirations fill us in all sorts of ways. Our creative minds discover this feeling through people, places, and things. It moves us ~
What exactly is inspiration? According to Wikipedia they share this: It is the process of being mentaly stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
Is it your best friend or family person that gives you energy and inspiration? Maybe it’s music that sets your feet on fire? Positive words written in a book, pictures in a magazine, social media ideas or following a daily blog could set your creative mind rolling.
Could it be a favorite book or a romantic poem that makes your heart ❤️ pitter patter?
Inspirations take place when we least expect it. Our eyes, ears and soul search out our feelings and motivate. How many of us mentally absorb an inspirational quote?
Inspirational Quotes ~
- “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
- “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.
- “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
- “Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
One person that gives me inspiration is my daughter Kelli Johanson. She gives and gives when she doesn’t even realize it. You see, it was her words that inspired me. Using social media for my Blue Star Collections for marketing, she recognized the fun I was having. It was then that she encouraged me to write.
It was Kelli that introduce me to writing a blog. Her encouraging words saying Mom, you got this AND you can do it! Blue Star Collections can be your platform to bring your “tribe” with you. Continuing to convince me, shortly following her suggestion Blue Star Binocular Blog was created! Showing my insecurities I asked “what if I fail”? It doesn’t matter she would say, just do it and the rest will fall in place. I still remember having the “jitters” that day as my mind filled with a group of emotions.
Kelli did her homework to set up the WordPress Blue Star Binocular account. Interviewed me and making sure that I was involved with what it might look like. Making sure I was comfortable each step along the way while still swooning me into this new world giving me support and positive words all along the way!
Fast forwarding a couple years later, she was right. Those feelings I had when I started writing reminded me like I was a kid again riding a bike for the first time with training wheels. I didn’t want to take my trainers off, what if I fell over with skinned knees and bump on my head?
Well I did have those bumps in the roads, I made myself look silly with some misfit lines, feeling like my tires were flat with misspelled words and unappealing sentences. No one got hurt and my bike is still pedaling down the road because of her, Kelli Johanson!
Today is a special day, you see its ITS HER BIRTHDAY! This young beautiful woman inspires countless people that surround her. She arrived in the world kicking and screaming and today continues to carry on with her same fun energy!
This small, fit, spunky little blonde not only inspires me but she can light a room up in a heartbeat when she walks in! She’s determined, smart, fun, edgy, and runs her own company like a rock star!
I didn’t realize life would go so quickly as I watched her grow up into this spontaneous young woman with such energy! Reminiscing like many parents do, we enjoy our kids memories and watching them grow into their way in life. We are all proud parents standing on the side lines cheering our kids on. Our big hearts overflowing with pride and witnessing their life living to be the best they can. This is certainly true with Kelli, we couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.
Always having a big heart donating to many organizations that touches her heart. Her love for animals and being a parent to her own little “Marley”. Often cute little Marley finds her own path leading Kelli along the way to explore, laugh, and challenge with her mightiness.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KELLI!!
So Kelli, dance 💃 like nobody is watching, but knowing you, you always embrace a crowd and doesn’t matter who might be watching. 😉 Light 💡 up the town with your sparkle ✨ . Keep your heart ❤️ big, its becoming on you! But most of all stay just as you are by inspiring many with your jovial ways ~
This song hit the top pop charts the day you were born. Get your dancing shoes on, have fun and rock the day away ~
What ever might inspire of you, keep pushing forward with your creativity and enjoy learning each day. Life is short, we need to live like we are dying! Get your dance shoes on, drive down the road with top down, and crank up the tunes with the wind blowing through your hair! You got this!
How many of you are living your dreams? Have you obtained your goal of living out your dreams? Or, you might say what is a dream?
Here you go:
Dream – a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.
We are firm believers to live our life today because we never know what might come our way tomorrow. For the past few years we have dreamt of living aboard a boat. Our thoughts it could offer traveling to new places, new adventures along the way, cooking up some new recipes with local flair, and meeting new friends the journey.
Over the years we continued to chat about the “W’s” of our dream. It was always me that got the cold feet to move forward. What if something went wrong while we were out and about? Would we be comfortable boating on the waters we had never really been on? Which direction would we go?
Searching for the perfect boat ~
Our search for the perfect boat went on and on for a few years. We thought we needed just the right boat to fit our needs, fill our dreams and at the same time not break the bank. We looked at old boats, new boats and boats that needed a little tender loving care. Whew, it became a job and if I looked at one more website with “boats for sale” I thought I was going to loose track of the dream.
Recently were dealing on a boat located in Charleston, SC. I loved the boat and I had the Brian on board with the beauty as well. Our dreams were getting closer to coming true, or so I thought. As we got close to the putting our signature on the dotted line, there was just something fishy about this boat. The titles and maintenance didn’t add up with the final search. Questions weren’t being answered and after much despair we walked away from what we thought was our dream boat with disappointment.
And then it happened! Visiting with a businessman friend we shared our story of our boat search. After a few comments and questions our friend suggested why don’t you transport your own 34 foot SeaRay to Florida? Once upon a time we explored the of moving our boat from Okoboji, but for whatever reason we didn’t pursue the move.
Wheels in motion ~
Listening to the suggested words, we got our wheels in motion and contacted a local transporter. We both thought time is wasting away, lets get this party started. Jon Payne and his partner at T8JAE, Arnolds Park, Iowa was more that willing to help with the task of transporting our 34 Foot SeaRay which we call Bz’ Nest 🐝 to Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
Transporting the Bz’ Nest ~
It’s not as easy job one might think to haul an eight ton boat down the highway. It took days to get the blessing and approval from the DOT, Department of Transportation. Specific routes, hours of driving time and signage all had to be in place before the tires hit the highway.
Thanks to Jon Payne and his partner Mike with T8JAE Transportation, it was a go to headed south! The checks were all in place – Permits for bridges ✔️, Routes approved ✔️, Signage ✔️ and off to Florida the journey began!
Four days later, three flat tires (the trailer has 6) and a lot determination the Bz’ Nest 🐝 made it to Fort Myers Beach! We were never happier to see the guys pull around the corner with the boat in tow.
This blown out tire looked like an embellished art project. The bare threads and steel showed their true colors. Traveling with trailers in our past, we knew it might best to throw in a couple spare tires for this purpose and have a little insurance. Guess we should have sent three for good luck.
Every emotion was confirmed for both of us. Excitement, happy with joy and relief T8JAE made the journey safe and sound!
Putting the Bz’ Nest back together ~
Once the crew arrived and safely parked, it was time now to put the Bz’ Nest 🐝 back together and get her ready for salty waters.
Ted Cebulski, owner of Ski’s Mobile Boat Repair, Fort Myers Beach was Bz’ Nest first stop. Ski’s Mobile Boat Repair and happened to be right out our back door. Ted and his crew welcomed us with open arms and went right to work!
We also couldn’t have done it without the help of our good friend Rich Harper sharing his lifting abilities. Attaching the arch was a cumbersome task with added pounds and bulk. It was an awesome team we had on our side and hard to believe none of the guys complained lifting this arch on board the Bz’ Nest 🐝.
The reconstruction took a couple weeks to complete. After completing the boat with anti fouling paint, fresh water flush kits for the engines, new GPS, radar, depth finder, polishing, cleaning and more cleaning it was finally time to splash it!
Again, taking caution with electrical lines and traffic we were headed down the road to launch. Here we go!
The proficient dock crew took care of us at Salty Sam’s making it look easy moving this eight ton boat. The Bz’s Nest was slipped into the salty waters with her glowing shine and sailed away to her new home. Everyone was filled with joy!
Now remember those “W’s” discussed earlier, it was now time to decide “where” we would go on the first trip. Boca Grande, a small island north of Fort Myers Beach seemed like a good choice to explore and get the lay of the waters.
The anticipation with filled with anxious feelings at we entered the Intra Coastal waters. We quickly realized we were no longer on the quiet waters in Okoboji but it felt more like the autobahn in Europe.
Safely arriving Boca Grande dock-master lead us into the marina, assisted with tie ups and we were set for the next few days!
First stop, we set off for the beach to celebrate our victory and enjoy a sunset before dinner. As we approached the beach we noticed weren’t the only ones celebrating a special occasion. A young, beautiful couple stood there sharing their wedding vows. Several bystanders including ourselves were taking it all in. Watching the romantic ceremony we made the comment and question, we wondered what their future dreams might look like?
Back at the boat we giggled with joy as we gazed at the Bz’ Nest tucked in amongst the neighboring boats. The size of boats didn’t matter, it seemed everyone was happy to be on the waters enjoying life.
Life was good living our dream. It took several years to accomplish this task. We over analyzed it many times, often got cold feet but we stayed the course and finally felt we made it!
So when you think your dreams might be out of reach, remember dreams do come true. They might be scary to take the risk during the process but the reward in the end is the best!
In closing, I leave you with one of our favorite songs we enjoy on the Bz’s Nest. Turn up your speakers, you too might have fun dreaming!
How many of you grew up singing the Christmas song Away in the Manager? Or just maybe you were lucky enough and played the part of Mary or Joseph in your church Christmas program? I’m guessing that no matter what age you are, this Away in the Manager song might fill your head with memories of how you first learn about the birth of Jesus.
This week I was invited into a webinar to view a virtual tour of Bethlehem and Nazareth, the birth place of Jesus tracking Mary and Joseph’s path through Israel. It was amazing! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say it was interesting and gave a wonderful picture of this magical place on the other side of the world.
Working in the airline industry for several years I had the opportunity to travel all over the world with little or no dollars involved. Unfortunately I never put Israel on my travel plans, I’m now thinking maybe I should have. I’ve had a few friends that made the journey and all of them coming back stating it was moving and monumental. So after hearing my friends awesome comments, I jumped on this opportunity for a virtual tour of Bethlehem and Nazareth!
The virtual tour filled my mind with thoughts of what it must have been like over 2,000 years ago witnessing this biblical blessing. I wondered the what the manager, church and travels might have looked like. This webinar filled in all the blocks taking you in and out of Bethlehem and Nazareth.
Each Christmas several of you might set up a nativity scene with the remembrance of the birth of Jesus. Mary, Joseph, the manager with Jesus, the Wise Men, the Shepard’s and of course all the animals that surrounded the special event. Each holiday season we carefully place these figurines in a special place to celebrate the birth of our savior.
A few year ago I remember driving through Trimont, MN and being stunned with this breathtaking nativity scene in a front yard. We drove around the block and parked across the street just to take it all in. Each one of the figurines were life size which made it magical. It was an absolutely beautiful site to see!
Another place that hit our travels this summer was a stop off at West Bend, Iowa. It is the home of the Grotto of Redemption, a religious shrine. A conglomeration of nice grottos depicting scenes in the life of Jesus containing a large collection of mineral and petrifications and is believed to be the largest grotto in the world. The shrine takes you trough the birth and death of Jesus. Worth a stop if you have never been there.
Often we are captured with drawings or paintings of this special magical moment with colorful images filled of the celebration. These two drawings, possibility what a young person took the time to share say it all as the wise men follow the bright star. The angel overlooking with the beautiful buildings used as the backdrop.
Each year at my Blue Star Collections shop I open the doors for a holiday sale. Nativity scenes have always been a popular piece on my floor. I always enjoy shopping for these nativity scenes that come in all sizes, shapes and colors. A smile crosses my face each time I see one of these walk out the door and I quickly image where they might place this Christmas piece in their own home.
This lovely nativity scene on the beach must have taken bit of time to create don’t you think? It was magical to see how the stacking of these small rocks stacked just right for all stay in place. What a treat for all as they walked the beach to witness this beautiful master piece.
A few years ago I found this large, white nativity scene in one my shopping trips and we decided to display it at Blue Star Collections. Carefully placed outside on the front lawn with the Blue Star lighting the background was enjoyed by many as they passed by honking their horns with approval. A few days later the set was sold to a couple that planned to place the scene on their family farm. Today, I hope they are still enjoying it.
It’s the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus as we all celebrate this holiday season. Many blessings to you and your family. For those of you that might want to sing along to Away in the Manager, click on the link below and enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but I have a few thousand pictures on my iPhone. Gezzz it drives me silly when I’m searching through all these photos for the perfect one and can’t find it. Some pics are good and some are bad. One thing I know, it just takes time to manage all the photos that we accumulate every week.
So, when I seen a class being offered close to me on iPhone photo training I jumped on it! Not only might I learn something with navigating around on my phone taking a picture, the location of the class would be pretty awesome as well. The class was being offered through the Koreshan State Park located in Fort Myers, Florida. This park itself is beautiful offers many picture perfect settings.
Right out of the shoot I flunked the first thing. Question asked, how many of your cleaned your phone this morning? Out of 12 of us attending the class, only one person passed the question. 🧐
It’s funny how we all make excuses as why we don’t do this task each day. So first things first, one by one we each cleaned our phones and camera lense.
The class was an hour and half so I knew it was best to pay attention and obtain as much as possible. Sure enough we were off and running with our first assignments.
AE/AF with the slider was discussed. While in the camera mode if you hold down on your phone and a yellow box appears! It has a slider bar and from here is where you can regulate the light on your photo. So off to the grounds we were to do a regular photo with the AE/AF and the other one using the yellow box adjusting our own light.
Cool, I was off and running! Next, instructor shared on the subject of LIGHT which is your most important item when snapping a picture. HDR (High Dynamic Range) can make it easy as well. Turning this feature on your camera automatically blends all background and takes all the guess work is out. This too is located in your settings. Take a look at the difference, can you tell the difference?
Learning to use the “grid” makes it easy to line up while taking your photo. This too is located in your settings under camera. Adding that grid just got easier, I already was feeling like a sassy photographer using this mode.
It just kept getting better, all the fun short cuts I was learning while taking in the fun of the class.
Next up was “Composition”. Off we were running again to snap a few pics teaching our eye about composition. Next assignment to take three pictures. One with repetition, one framing and the one capturing curiosity drawing your eye into the picture. Whew this was tougher than thought but here were my choices.
How did I do? The repetition were poles on the fencing, framing was my Santa and for the curiosity I shot down a path trying to entice my audience where it might have went.
Only 30 minutes left in the class we continued to learn the portrait mode and the burst mode.
Portrait blurs the background and make you concentrate on the person in your photo. Burst you can really have some fun with capturing someone or something moving. Remember seeing those kids jump off a diving board and they are caught jumping in air. Well burst is the answer. You take several photos by holding down on your start button and it takes several photos all at once. Check out my two examples.
And finally, how nany of you use Zoom? Well here is the secret on this subject. Rule number one and only one! Use your own two feet and ZOOM WITH YOUR FEET! When you use the zoom on your iphone, it decreases the pixels making your picture cloudy. Walking up to the subject and taking the photograph makes for a better, clear picture and you will be more pleased with.
And lastly, our instructor shared a cool app that we all have on our phones and get this its FREE! Download Snapseed and it will make editing your photos slick and easy!
So there you have it, I hope I was able to give you a few pointers as well and you too can have some fun taking those photos with ever lasting memories.
Now it wouldn’t complete my blog if I didn’t leave you with a little tune to hum along with while your out snapping your own favorite shots. Turn up your speaker and enjoy and don’t forget to clean your lenses. 😉
Kodachrome Paul Simon song ~
AND one more thing and most important ~ just have fun making your memories! Everyday we should be snapping some fun pics ~
Lately I’ve been asked by several “where have you been” I’ve missed your blog. I know, its been a few weeks since I last sent out a message and today is the day I told myself it’s time to “get back in the saddle” and share some fun!
I grew up around horses riding a few Shetland ponies in my day so riding with a saddle I can so relate to it. However, I mostly rode bareback and was often bucked off when I least expected it. The moral of this story is if you get bucked off , stay focused, get back on your horse and keep going.
One of my favorite things to do is go to the library to see the latest reads. I know it’s weird but I could spend hours just looking, reading and touching the books. It amazes me all the endless possibilities for inspiration for all of us.
I giggle at myself when I see what books call out. When I made a visit to the library last week I really didn’t have an agenda other than I was looking for a great book club read. Looked what popped in my path.
My Blue Star Collections business is all about the home so when I was searching through the fiction books, Feels like HOME this caught my eye and I knew I had to have it. If your into decorating will know the author Marian Parsons, aka Miss Mustard Seed she does a wonderful blog.
This book is full of fun ideas, helpful hints, painting techniques, DYI projects as well she tells you a bit about herself growing up in a military family, as an army brat and how the bug of decorating came in her life.
Marian mentions its not what your homes gives to you, but it’s what you create with it and in that foundation upon which your life is built. She also shares how to transform your space from uninspiring to uniquely yours. Who doesn’t want that?!
The book shows you how to make ceiling boxed beams, painting techniques, how to paint a mural, sewing, and numerous ideas to make your home special and stand out.
Feels like HOME offers you some great ideas for paint and coloring. Choosing a paint color can be challenging at times with different lighting and how it affects the tone. Since we are discussing paint and color, have you seen the “new color of the year” from Pantene just selected for 2022. See what you think ~
A room should feel collected, not decorated. Listen to your house – it will speak to you. Take a minute to appreciate your house. What elements already feel like home?
One of things I also enjoyed in the book was quotes from famous people. Read on, see if you can relate to any of them:
Julia Child ~ the more you know, the more you can create. There is no end to imagination in the kitchen.
We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us – Winston Churchill
Decorating is an autobiography- Gloria Vanderbilt
Creativity is a wildmind and a disciplined eye – Dorthy Parker
This beautiful, colorful and inspiring ideas is sure to attract you as it did myself. It just might move you to move a few things in your house for a new look. The calming look of this book will just might inspire you to pick up Feels like HOME and challenge your decorating talents.
The next two books I thought went hand in hand and called out to me. Our society encourages us all to be better recyclers and knowing what to throw in our recycle bin. Myself being a recycler and repurposing “stuff” in my Blue Star Collections business I felt these two books also hit home.
Both these books are both easy reads. I took them to the beach with me and read through both of them in one afternoon. Lots of simple drawings to keep your interest as well.
The chapters in the book Can I Recycle This is full of suggestions. It covers everything from soup to nuts!
And finally, this page warmed my heart. Buying vintage and recycling your vintage clothes by donating, giving away or just cutting them up to recreate your vintage find! Blue jean jackets have lots of opportunities wouldn’t you say?
Moving on to the next book pick, if you want to know how to make your own remedies for cleaning almost anything, this one is great for ideas! It’s great because most of the stuff you will have around your house.
I don’t think they missed a thing coming up with concocting these formulas to take care of your business around the home. It makes sense, seems easy to do and I have already tried a few myself.
I have a dear friend that wears pearls everyday I swear. She looks stylish when she wears them for everyday or dress up and always a classic look. Here is an easy way to keep your pearls clean and ready to wear!
This next suggestion on how to clean your BBQ great just amazed me. Who would have thought to just throw it out on your lawn and let it sit overnight? I have not tried it but bet the walkers passing by your house will wonder whats up with the grill grate in the yard?
How many of you have a favorite leather jacket, purse or fabric furniture piece that has a wet stain on it? Read on, this seems simple enough to take care of the fix.
As you know, there are endless choices of books to choose from at your local library. Rows and rows of temping books that will entertain, teach and offer you hours of inspiration.
Whatever trips your trigger, get on your horse, saddle up and just have fun with your reads! If you side tracked and “get bucked off”, dust your knees off and get back on your horse. Accomplishing a fun project is always inspiring.
I always like to leave you with tune you can hum along with after the read. Saddles, horses and riding out the storm brought this song to my mind and it was always one of my favorite TV shows back in the 60’s. I too hope it brings a smile to your face. I would to hear your comments. Happy trails ~
Remember the song “Do you know the way to San Jose”?
This song has been on my mind for the last few days. Why is it you get a song stuck in your head and you find yourself singing along to it for the next few hours or more?!
Maybe or could it be because Blue Star Collections has a sale coming up? As I sing along with the tunes I try to change the lyrics to fit my sale theme? I know it’s corny, but often it’s fun and I find laughing at myself.
So before I get going silly on making up my own “Blue Star Collections ” sale lyrics, here’s the scoop on what’s coming up October 29/30.
If you like to Hop, Skip and Jump we are calling your name to come have some fun! A bit of junk, collectibles and unique stuff just might be what you have been searching for. Three shops are pooling their energy together to bring you a fun run on the road shop hopping!
Corn Fed Cricket located in an old meat market on the west side of town in Harley, Iowa will have the coffee on as you weave your way around their retro shop. Lots of goodies you won’t want to miss!
Now Mrs. Clark, store owner at Vintage Boutique will be ready to dress you in her lovely vintage clothes. Vintage Boutique is full of surprises and is located in downtown historic Lakefield, Minnesota. It’s fun to search through the racks clothing including dresses, shoes, bags, military, and more beyond you can imagine.
And you ask who, what and where is Blue Star Collections? Beth Bright, store owner rescues repurposes, and restages home furnishings in her 114 year old church located on Hwy. 9 in Superior, Iowa. Not only will you enjoy the displays of stuff, she too will help you select your treasures to stage in your own home. The old Methodist church is a lovely piece of history right smack in the middle of town that has some beautiful bones and windows. Come take a peek if you haven’t seen it!
Now on to more fun as I piece my words together to the tune of “Do you know the way” ~
Do you know the way to shop hop? Its been way too long since we’ve seen your smiles. Fill up your gas tank, program your GPS and come find some good buys with a peace of mind along the highways.
After a few miles and lots of good buys you will feel like a super star scoring some fun stuff! With visions s of junk in your heart, you’ll never be alone just follow the crowd to the next stop.
Will your first stop be Blue Star Collections , Corn Fed Cricket or Vintage Boutique? Doesn’t matter what order, we will be waiting for you! Do you know the way to having some junk fun?!
Wow, can you believe how quickly summer has pasted us and we are now well on our way of seeing and smelling fall in the air! What a fun run we all had this Summer of 2021 and what a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time we were all trying to deal with that “C” (Covid) thing with where we should go and not go. This summer all the doors were open and we were ready to rock and roll into some fun!
It was a summer of fun music no matter where you were. We not only were excited to have music groups back and singing to us but found the music groups also felt the same about us and were so grateful to be back playing their favorite songs.
Music fills our soul in so many ways. We took in several concerts probably like most of you this summer. One special group stuck out in our minds, it was the 70’s rock group Head East. The group who grew up in the Midwest back in the 70’s and they are still playing those favorite songs in their “70’s”.
Each song they played brought back many memories as we tapped our toes and sang along. Often when we hear music it takes us right back to when, where and what we were doing when that song was popular.
The most important part of the concert was delivered by Roger Boyd who plays the keyboard. With each setting Roger reminisced how they got started and what band members they have lost along the way. Roger was sincere when he spoke how grateful they were and how Okoboji supported them along the way.
Back in the 70’s we didn’t have cell phones, iPads, or the technology as we have today. Rotary phones was our line of communication. How did we ever do it? Suppose that’s how “shagging the drag” started? We would just meet or show up on the square and see who was out and go from there.
If you wanted to hear songs on a radio station you called in on the old rotary phone to request your favorite song as Head East mentioned. The Top 10 Music Billboard was and still is a big thing. We would watch our favorite songs climb to the top of the list.
Roger Boyd also reminded when they would play at the Roof Garden in Okoboji there was the rope down the center of the dance floor. One side was for underage minors and the other side you could drink the night away if you wished. Many chuckled from the audience because the rope was often sparingly managed. 😉
With all the fun memories told, Roger Boyd and the rest of his band members were grateful to Okoboji and what we gave them. In his closing emotional words he stated he hoped he would be lucky enough to come back again and make more memories with us.
Along with Head East we also had the privilege of hearing several other music groups. The Grassroots, Marshall Tucker, Arch Allies, The Beach Boys and many more adding to the list.
How fun it was to watch these cute, young girls dancing on the bench taking in a glimpse of The Beach Boys. California Dreaming just turned into Okoboji Dreaming!
And, if you were fortune enough to be in Okoboji the week the International Regatta took place how lucky were you! There were several exciting moments. The summer winds played well making the sailboats dance on the Okoboji blue waters. Such beautiful sights to see!
The large, beautiful sails opening and watching them fly across the lake was spectacular! Come sail away with me ~
And we are off to the races ~
Up close and personal with a birds eye view ~
Several tourists and Regatta sailors found new fun in Okoboji, Iowa
Look up in the sky! What is that noise? Ohhhh it’s a hot air balloon! Once again when the summer Okoboji winds were perfect, we often had the privilege of spotting a hot air ballon. We would run into an open air spot to get a better view of its beauty!
Now in the summer if you don’t get enough music on shore, hop in your boat and you will find more in the water. Damon Dotson our hometown Okoboji boy grew up and has entertained us for many years. Still several years later, Damon comes back to share his talent and puts on a heck of a concert at Miller’s Bay over the 4th of July weekend. The boats flock in for the fun! Its an awesome sight to see from the air taking in all the colorful boats and maui mats.
If you like to play hop scotch, this is the place to be jumping from one boat to another.
Okoboji tourists and residents were lucky to have fireworks every weekend. Yep, it took place every Saturday night after the free concerts in the Preservation Plaza. People lined up on the shoreline to catch a few minutes of pure joy.
Lots of 4th of July gatherings around the lakes, and parks. Food creativity at its best to celebrate the holiday ~
How many of you took in the bikes trails around Okoboji? If you live or visit Okoboji and have a bike, your probably one of the lucky ones that take in a few sights on the bike trails. Each year there are several fundraisers. The Bike Trail Fundraiser is one of many that several people generously give back to the community. Over the past few years the Trails Board have completed several new bike mile trails. One would not lack of which trail to take.
Did someone mention social gatherings? Such fun, creative and tasty food and beverages are always shared out on the deck. Charcuterie boards have become a popular way of entertaining. They not only look beautiful but are filling and fun!
We’re any of you brave enough to do Yoga on the water? Yipes, what a test of balance! For time being, the shoreline is just fine with me but I so appreciate seeing these yogis doing their poses and looking so graceful. Namaste ~
So I leave you a short clip of “Do you believe in Magic” by the Loving Spoonfuls. Maybe we just had a bit of magic in Okoboji, Iowa this 2021 Summer ~ what do you think?