Building a tribe ~

Closing my doors at Blue Star Collections this weekend hosting a two day “Sale A Bration” event I drove away feeling so proud to have such a great “Tribe” supporting me with my business. It warmed my heart seeing your faces standing outside the doors of the church in the chilling temps waiting for the doors to open in anticipation of finding a few new Blue Star treasures.

Knowing my tribe supports me even at a last minute pop up sale is pretty powerful! No matters how busy our life’s might be, supporting each other is big and makes us all feel special.

Definition of tribe: A social group composed chiefly of a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest.

It was 2003 that I became inspired to start my own company, Blue Star Collections. Junk markets were making their way into our culture with recycling, repurposing and repainting home furnishings and more. Working full time at the Minneapolis Airport for several years, I felt the pull of being more creative and doing my own thing.

After holding several sales in different locations, it was time to have our own space. In 2011 we purchased a run down 107 year old church in the small community of Superior, Iowa. We immediately got to work restoring the disbanded Methodist church that was in need of a little tender loving care. Many of you watching our progress, honking your horns of approval as you drove by gave us such encouragement and several smiles.

Yes, it was a risk moving the Blue Star to the small community in Superior having a population of 250 but the highway presence was certainly in our vision. Several of my shoppers and bystanders wondered why I was taking my Blue Star to a remote location? At the time I didn’t really think much about it but my motto was always, build it and they will come. I stayed true to my heart and followed my dream.

Once we got the old church back in shape with new roof, lots of paint, moving the birds out of the bell tower, steadying up the foundation it was time to hang the Blue Star.

We got busy pulling stock out of our trailers and stocking the floor with unique pieces and making it a fun stop to shop. The rest is history, over the last 20 years we have had around numerous sales in this location and the tribe continued to grow!

Today, thinking back of the early days of Blue Star Collections, all I wanted to do was create some great pieces of furnishings, pay my bills having a few bucks leftover to buy a new pair of shoes every now and then and meet some new people.

That’s when my tribe was formed. I had girls approach me to help Blue Star Collections with whatever. Painting, help with shopping, moving junk and working the shows. Little did I know I would meet such awesome women!

Not only was I blessed with such a great group of workers, but my tribe remained loyal to Blue Star Collections as well. They drive from all areas near and far looking for some fun and maybe a treasure follows them home as well.

Themed shows have always been a part of my shows. WE always have good time with everyone getting involved with the fun! Our “Fifty Shades of Gray” ~ “Three Cheers for Mama” ~ “For the Love of Junk” and “Junk for Joy” added to the sale and enticed our tribe as well.

So as I drove away from Blue Star Collections yesterday after closing my doors from the two day sale, I was most grateful and proud to have such a fun, energetic, loving Tribe. We all would not be where we are today without each other. For that I thank you for being in my tribe and for your loyal support!

A very thoughtful friend of mine made a special trip over to Blue Star Collections during the sale to bring a beautiful bouquet of flowers celebrating my Blue Star Collections “Sale A Bration”. What a lucky gal I am to have such beautiful friends. I celebrate each of you everyday for being my “Tribe”!

All Aboard ~

Earlier this month we had someone in the family joining the “red, white and blue” team. 😉. It was a special birthday so celebrating was of utmost importance and we needed to be grateful for this guy, my other half, taking several trips around the sun these last 65 years!

Sitting around the kitchen island deciding what this celebration thing might look like, Brian thought it might be fun to get the Avion out and go back to his “hometown”. Was he getting sentimental, wanting to go back and reminisce his younger years? Moving right along, we love to camp so I too thought it would be fun! Like they say, whatever it will be, will be. The next day we pulled the 1962 trailer out of storage and got the wheels in motion with stocking and cleaning.

Since it had been a few years since Boone was in Brian’s path, he quickly got on line to reserve a spot at the Ledges State Park just south of Boone. A beautiful state park that held fond memories for him from participating in Boys Scouts, camping, riding his bike and I’m sure a couple parties over the years. 😉 We are picky about our parking spots so when we seen they had secluded camping spots, we were ready to book!

Next on the agenda was how long we wanted to stay and what would we do? I would leave that up to the birthday boy since this was his old stomping grounds. I was game for fun and a bit curious what he would come up with as I loaded the trailer with few cuisine choices and of course a couple of his favorite bottles of wine.

Boone is located on U.S. Route 30. The original Lincoln Highway ran through the center of town, but a new four-lane highway was built in the late 1960s that bypassed the center of Boone to the south. There is also a network of paved country roads radiating out in all directions. Brian made sure we did a little history cruise around town when we arrived.

A little history on Boone for those of you that might not know, coal mining played an important part in the early history of the Boone area. Local blacksmiths were already mining coal from the banks of Honey Creek south of what became Boone in 1849.

Boone is also served by the mainline of the Union Pacific, which purchased the Chicago & North Western Railroad (C&NW) in 1995. Boone was a division and crew change point on the railroad under the Chicago & North Western and some of that business remains today. There is a moderate-sized rail yard to the east of the downtown area.

Another bit of information, its hometown of the grocery chain Fareway. The company still maintains their business offices in downtown Boone. Also the first Casey’s General Store was founded in Boone, Iowa in 1968. Who knew Boone is such a thriving rural town hosting such booming businesses.

The “B” was off and running bringing lots of ideas to the table. Mentioning earlier, the Union Pacific train tracks running through the town, I wondered if his birthday would in some way or another have train whistles playing in the background. We are always saying to each other “get on the train or get run over”!

The Des Moines Register Newspaper recently ran a feature article of Rail Explorers coming to Boone offering exhilarating rail rides. The “B” was all over wanting to learn more and take on the experience. I have to admit, at first I was a little skeptical quickly responding, “you want to do what”? Having aviation in his blood, I thought we might take a wild ride in the sky so when he came up with trains, I was a bit surprised.

The Rail Explorer rentals is a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks. They have 4 steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, pedals for each seat, and are comfortable, fun and easy to ride. Although the rail explorers require pedalling, the magic of steel wheels on steel rails makes the experience very different from riding a regular bicycle. There is no need to carefully watch the road ahead, there is no need to steer and riding is hands free – making it easy to take photographs and video as you roll along.

Rail Explorers recently partnered with the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad bringing the Rail Explorers Experience to the Midwest. Riders could enjoy beautiful views with the 12.5 mile round trip of the Des Moines River Valley. The ride’s showstopper is the 750’ long, 156’ high “Bass Point Creek High Trestle”. Riders crossing this bridge have panoramic views of the valley and experience the thrill of soaring high above the creek below.

We launched off mid morning heading to Boone, Iowa in our 1962 Avion Trailer named “Jill” to take in the beautiful sites of Ledges State Park. Tickets in hand and excited to experience the Rail Explorers. We were Thrill Seekers hoping to capture some fun, make some memories and keep it as simple as possible.

We decided four days would be the length of stay in Boone. It would offer us enough to time to take in the sites of Boone, visit family close by, celebrating a simple birthday with a few hikes and of course taking a ride on the wild side of the Rail Explorers.

Also putting in our path we wanted to explore the East Village of Des Moines. Over the last few years, they certainly have made this area a gathering of fun shops, eateries and brew houses. A birthday wouldn’t be complete without having a local brew.

The day arrived, we would “hop on the trail bike” and head down the train tracks. My heart started racing just thinking of the high bridge we would be crossing over. It was too late to back out of now!

We were encouraged to bring a snack and a drink to enjoy at Rose’s Landing Turnaround, halfway point of the ride. Explorers rode the REX Propulsion System – an electric motor making the journey truly effortless.

The team at Rail Explorers were awesome! They kept you cool, calm and collected while briefing us on the in’s and out’s of this journey. Since we were late in booking the two passenger trail bikes were taken so it was a four seater for us. In hindsight, I’m thankful I had a little extra security in front of me to help with the jitters, I rather enjoyed “sitting in the back seat”.

“All Aboard” the crew yelled out! My feeling of “born to be wild” clicked in and we were ready to head down tracks looking for adventure!

All was going just “peachy and dandy” when the conductor stopped us right before going over the 157 foot bridge. It was a quick reminder to keep seatbelts locked, have a heavy grip on our phones if we were choosing to snap a shot, and DO NOT STAND UP! Ready or not, here we go!

The “Birthday Boy” was ready and excited! After all, this was his old stomping grounds mentioning he had camped up this bridge a few times in his youth.

One bridge and then another and I was starting to relax enough to snap a couple of videos. The first bridge made my stomach flip flop a couple times and then I was started to enjoy my ride. My phone was so tightly held in my hand for the fear of falling over that I almost missed the moments of beauty 157 feet high.

We arrived at the turning point of Rose’s Landing where our carts / bikes would be turned around for the journey back. You were encouraged to bring a beverage and sit back to enjoy the sights of the river as the crew did their magic of turning your car. My Lake Escape brew did the trick and relaxed my nerves for the ride back. I was getting into it and now I didn’t want it to end.

It was beautiful day pedaling down the tracks, taking in the sights feeling proud we were able to take in such beauty.

Another bridge and I was now feeling and living the song “Born to be Wild” with my birthday boy beside me.

Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild

The journey was fun filled building memorable memories. We lived on the “edge” for few minutes, blew out a few birthday candles, played a couple games of dominos, hiked a few trails, built a some fires and had a blast! The birthday boy now 65 years young, sporting the “Red, White and Blue Medicare card and we couldn’t be happier in our simple life of camping and exploring the backroads of Boone, Iowa.

If you get the chance, by all means get on the Rail Explorer bike train. They serve five cities across the USA. Rhode Island, Las Vegas, The Catskills in NY, Cooperstown, Boone – Iowa and soon to be in wine country in California. You can learn more about the adventure pulling up the link:

So my blog friends I leave with this tune that has been in my head for a few days now ~ Born to be Wild. Get to know your “wild side”, turn up the speakers and keep rocking in your life! Get on the train, or get run over ~

Blue Star Collections gets a new dress ~

“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 from within you.” — Ralph Lauren

When Ralph and Sophia describe a woman’s dress, I immediately have a vision of what their words might look like. Color, design and how the style might look like on a woman’s body. A pop of color utilizing our accessories often makes us all take a second look to the stunning look.

If your driving down Highway 9 by Superior, Iowa these days you might have noticed the old church housing Blue Star Collections recently received an updated look. The building perched along the highway slipped on a new paint job updating her “dress”. The newly painted structure standing proud and encouraging traffic to take a second look.

Thirteen years ago we bought the old Methodist Church in Superior, Iowa to house our Blue Star Collections business. Recusing, recycling and repurposing has been in my blood for many years. The church was no exception, oh my was it in need of a new dress and some tender loving care. The building was tired and lifeless screaming for help! Most of the paint had chipped off the 100+ year old structure and it was calling out for an updated “new dress” look.

A new roof was first on the agenda to repair and seal up the holes for this makeover. Getting the bones back in place, the new dress would come later. After weeks of stabilizing the old gal, she started to breathe again. The windows began to pop out, the steeple stood tall and strong, cars were honking on the busy highway watching the transformation. It was an exciting time! The church and the community in Superior, Iowa loved all the attention!

Together working with a few hard working people we succeeded bringing back the life into this beauty. That was 13 years ago, once again she was in need of another drink of paint. So the search began for a good painter at a reasonable rate.

We searched high and low for someone to come help us put a coat of paint on the church. Bingo, like they say, timing and patience is all it takes. After searching and waiting two years with Covid playing devil’s advocate we scored The Re-Movers! Their name fits them appropriately because they are definitely are “movers and shakers”.

Now, their card says Junk Removal but let me tell you there is no tackle too big for this hard working couple. Going outside their box was becoming on both Jonathan and Katie, the owners of The Re-Movers. They rock and rolled through the projects like rock stars! We immediately took a likening to these two hard workers. Standing back and watching the transformation, we loved seeing the church come back to life.

Chipping away a few layers of paint wasn’t easy and to be honest a bit messy. Purchasing several gallons of paint, a few tubes of caulking to tighten up the wrinkles, a handful of replacement boards, throwing in time and commitment the Re-Movers were ready to go!

In our time dealing with shortage of supplies, finding the amount of paint we needed wasn’t an easy task. The paint shortage added another layer to our drama of getting this church painted.

The paint department at Bomgaar’s were fabulous to work with. The team helped us pick a paint that had a nice longevity and didn’t break our bank. Special order was the only option, so we quickly got the order going before paint prices continued to hike up.

We stayed in the same color family as before with a slight change to lighting the base. Cozy Cottage on the trim and Oat Straw for the main body of the structure. Using the same colors helped save on time and few dollars.

Up went the scaffolding, followed by Jonathan quickly ascending like an artist climbing the trapeze without any fear. Such fun to watch him move up to the tower, we could almost hear the bell ring as he reached the top.

Jonathan had a birds eye view from the top of the tower. Not being scared of heights for this young man, he seemed to be enjoying his view.

Katie keep the show going on the ground and had her work cut out as well. While Jon was doing his magic on the scaffolding, Katie was doing her magic painting the trim. Cozy Cottage was the choice of color for the trim. The church came back to life with all the attention in the detailed painting.

Wall by wall, the Re-Movers moved rather quickly around the exterior wasting no time. Taking advantage of additional scrapping and chalking as they turned each corner.

Finally the day came that Blue Star Collections, formerly the Methodist church in Superior, Iowa stood proud once again. The new clean up job was turning heads with her new dress looking so pretty. The long and hot days paid off giving this historic gal an updated look.

We weren’t quite finished yet. The outdoor, small cottage was also in competition for a little splash of paint. Brian and I took this task on thinking we could handle this project since it was closer to the ground. Climbing heights no longer are appealing to either of us.

The the double french front door overhang needing updating as well. We nabbed two recycled corbels from a tear down house in Estherville years ago along with one recycled bead board window cover from a Spirit Lake cottage to use for the awning adding some ambiance to our cottage.

After painting the cottage, we decided it was time to retire the red on the french doors. We chose a neutral, more savvy look as not to compete with the church. Adding a couple of repurposed 1950’s set of skis to the front door replacing the wreaths added interest and a new look. Completing this project ~ we were all done with the painting projects!

Next on the agenda was repairing a bit of the foundation that was also showing some age. Over the years it too got tired in a few spots. Firming up the weak spots with a few batches of cement made it fit like a tight girdle giving the church structure to stand tall and proud again.

Once again, the Re-Movers came to our rescue with repair and we couldn’t have been happier with the results.

It’s been a busy few weeks just getting things back in order. Like we all know, hard work, a little sweat and staying committed to the projects gives us a sense of self satisfaction. She’s standing tall and proud with the new updates of paint and materials.

Now that painting and repairing is all finished, it’s time to purge the inside of the church. Over the last few months we also have collected a few more goodies. It’s now time for a Blue Star Collections sale!

I usually pick a theme for my sales, this one just might be called Paint and Purge. Now it’s time for me to get busy inside and start gathering up the goods for the show to come! Fall is just around the corner, watch for a future sale coming up with one of a kind deals!

As always, thanks for tagging along with us, we enjoy sharing our projects and fun.

I leave you with this beautiful song with a song from 1971 by Bread “If” 🎶. If a picture paints a 1000 words ……. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease 😉 and paint will do!

Remembering ~

This might be a hard thing to write about with all that is going on in the world today. It was two years ago Minneapolis hit the news with the death of George Floyd. A name we will never forget.

It was a sad day for all as we witnessed this tragedy. Feelings exploded and mixed emotions feeling defeated with the death of Floyd. Minneapolis tension was high across the city.

Two years ago filled with tears, fears and figuring out how to move on. Many of us not knowing how to react after seeing burnt down Police stations and businesses. Where was the silver lining in all this anger and bitterness?

I always feel there is a silver lining to life as it happens. As we drove around the city taking in the aftermath of the destruction, we also viewed emotions demonstrating beauty.

The death of Floyd spiked. The angry crowds moved their frustrations to the Uptown location just west of downtown Minneapolis. Boutique store fronts quickly took action and boarded up their window fronts to protect their property from damage by traveling riots.

It was then the Uptown Performing Art District got involved and invited artists to share their feelings painting masterpieces on the boarded up store front windows. What creative, quick thinking that came from this group. Turning a sad and negative situation into moving beautiful pieces of art. Traffic was lined up taking in this artistic talent being displayed on rough sheets of boards.

It was amazing to see the talent of the local artists paint and create in such an emotional time on the streets. This silver lining took place one by one right before our eyes.

People were crying out Unity as they were releasing sorrow, anger, and more. Little did we all know the true colors were showing.

These artists were painting their hearts out. To study each and everyone of these painting sent a message.

Driving around Uptown with a green light, you wanted to just sit at the light and take it all in. The divided sides were voicing their thoughts in these paintings.

One after another the artist voiced their opinions suggesting we need to stand together. Again the vibrate colors sucked you in.

This painting probably says more than we will ever understand in the eyes of this painter. Peace sign in the paddle, tattoos on the arm of the person in the boat. Amazing work ~

No words needed to said as we view the love that was placed on the black backdrop filled with hearts, lots of color and exclamation.

The following days as the city began picking up the pieces from this historical situation, painters were creating pictures of today and dreams of tomorrow.

Today we have more stories that fill our news. Where will we look for that silver lining to make us feel better in our hearts? Communities coming together to show their support and leaving us wondering what our tomorrow might be as we hold each other close.

The silver lining ~ opening our eyes knowing tomorrow the sun will come up in search of answers. Praying for peace and waiting for prayers to be answered.

I do know we have several silver linings in each day. If we sit still long enough, will it appear in from of our face?

These beautiful artists two years ago gave us a gift. The Uptown Minneapolis store front owners provided the backdrop. We stood back and took in the silver lining beauty.

In closing, you might be reminiscing these memories that took place two years ago. Yesterday is now filled with memories, today we fill our hearts with hope. Sometimes it might be best to just “let it be”.

Chasing the sun and more ~

Ever wonder why we are all so memorized with sunsets? Beyond just being a natural phenomenon, the setting of the sun symbolizes many things to a variety or people and cultures. The setting of the sun represents the completion of a day’s work, so it represents the opportunity to rest.

Living in Florida these last few months it was often easy to catch a sunset on the beach. As our countdown was clicking away to leave the beach on the Gulf of Mexico before heading back to the Midwest, we decided to take in one more sunset on the beach. It felt like we were at a rock concert yelling out for the the band to play “one more song”.

As we arrived the beach, we immediately found the waters so calming, magical and hypnotizing our thoughts. Noticing only a few sunset takers, we zoned in to search for the perfect spot to perch and quickly setting up our beach chairs to claim our viewing spot.

We parked next to a jumbo motor home filled with several friends and family playing the day away. The kids along with adults were splashing in and out of the water as their laughs echoed along the beach. Quickly we learn the family was from Israel on holiday when one of their a balls flew into our space. We both commented that this family was having such fun on their journeys.

Shortly after our set up, a vehicle pulled up on our other side with three young adults getting out with fishing nets and a bucket in hand. Of course we were curious and kept an eye open hoping we might witness fish being caught.

Sitting patiently for the sun to go down, we were being entertained with the family from Israel on one side and two netting fishermen on the other. Simple pleasures and great fun as we enjoyed watching the activities with both groups.

Over hearing the fisherman’s conversation we realized it was a training session from one friend to another on how to net fish. Details were shared on how to hold the net, stretching the net out just right and when to release for the throw. Both guys would laugh as they would try over and over again to land that perfect throw.

It didn’t take us long to get acquainted with these three young, gregarious adults. Alicia, Trevin and Mika were all having fun and just as curious about us asking several questions with small talk. Trevin encouraged us to give the net a throw. We were both much obliged but enjoyed taking it all in from our beach chairs. We both laughed and thought we would probably get caught in their net and then what!?

Soon the Israel family got in on the fun and we had a show going on! The birds as well were flying in to check out the catch and had hopes of snagging one or two fish from the bucket when no one was looking.

Mika grew impatient with his lesson on netting fishing and thought cracking a few jokes might suit him better. We all laughed realizing it’s harder than it looks to net fish. Untangle, spread and release. Oh sure it sounds easy doesn’t it, but smooth coordination looked to be the success. Neither one of us thought we had the confidence to throw the net, after all we had front row seats to take in the show.

Kids and adults stopped by the bucket to view the catch. Laughs and giggles were heard by all. One by one they approached the bucket to catch a peek of the fish caught and it was shortly followed with their ewww’s and ahhhh’s.

The parking lot began to fill up and the noise of car trunk after car trunk opening and closing. Sunset viewers pulled out their chairs and if they didn’t have chairs made great use of the trunk for a bench. It was a simple and easy set up with no expectations by anyone. Many sat quietly just stopping by for a daily bit of gratitude by witnessing a beautiful sunset.

Ready ~ set ~ relax ~ and the countdown begins.

And then it happens, the sun fades away into a gentle disappearing act celebrating yet another beautiful day.

The sun set, the audience picks up quickly and fades down the highway. Counting our blessings, we both agreed a good time was had by all and simple does have its pleasures.

After reading about netting fish, who is up for learning how to throw the net? I did a little research and picked out a tutorial to help you along. I’m not sure about you, but I think I will still stay ashore and watch the pros throw the fun. One thing for sure if you give it a whirl, you are sure to have an audience.

In closing with my words, I leave you with a little song we probably all have sang along with a time or two. I hope wherever you are, maybe you too were witnessing a beautiful sunset. It’s a “come as you are” setting that allows each of us to sit back and enjoy the little slice of beauty that is offered to us all everyday of the week. It’s free, relaxing and magical.

Thrills on Blueberry Hill ~

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!

2754 Howard Rd, LaBelle, FL 33935

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

Part II ~ Blue Star Collections Staging

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 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!

Mama said there would be days like this ~

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 ~

InSpiRatioN ~

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.


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!

The Next Chapter 2022 –

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!