Easy Family Letter Craft

Lately, I’ve noticed an abundance of large paper mache letters in the craft stores. I had been thinking that I would like some things on the wall that didn’t have right angles so I decided to buy a big B. In fact, it’s two feet tall!DSC_6937 2

Since I’ve been working on that guest room, I decided that the B would go in there. I mulled it over a bit trying to figure out if it should be bright and bold or subtle, if indeed a letter that large could pull that off! The sheer size of it convinced me that I should go with a neutral color.DSC_7178 2

Off to Walmart to buy more of the ivory color paint since I ran out. Of course, they didn’t have the same paint, but I thought maybe a shade more yellowish would look good anyway.DSC_7176 2

This big B, for Broscious of course, was to be a celebration of our family. I wanted all our names on it. At first I considered buying stick on letters or stamping the names. I even looked at wood letters. In the end, after some practice on paper, I handpainted everyone’s names in brown.DSC_7182 2

So far, so good! I liked it. But it needed more. Out came my stamps.DSC_7348 5

The trick is knowing when to stop stamping. Sure do love butterflies!DSC_7183 2

I had read about making stamps from a styrofoam tray like meat comes on. Just draw your design and press down the places you don’t want to stamp. I tried it and had to laugh. Backwards letters! I did use one of the hearts by each family member though.DSC_7186 2

More stamping and more mess on the kitchen table. I was starting to really enjoy this project!DSC_7187 2

Periodically, I would set it in the bedroom. Some projects just come quickly, but this one needed some pondering. It still lacked and I gazed and pondered some more.DSC_7194 2

Maybe it did need more color!DSC_7195 2

Out came the pumpkin colored paint for the sides.DSC_7333 2

A brown edge to make it stand out more.DSC_7337 2

And antiquing medium to give it a weathered look. Finally, a couple coats of satin finish.DSC_7335 2

And it’s done! Well, done until we are blessed with another Broscious and then the paint will come out again!Easy Family Letter Project

What a fun project. And so easy! Everytime I see this B, I will smile and celebrate our family.

Finding the Moors: England 5

Our time in the “chocolate box” Cotswolds was done, but I was eager to keep exploring the English landscape. I hadn’t yet seen the moors that I had often read about and I hoped at our next stop that I would. We headed northbound to Matt’s last work place, Pateley Bridge. After that, we would have a week of vacation time just to explore in England! First, we headed to Harefield Hall.Harefield Hall

I had found this mysteriously beautiful gem on TripAdvisor and was intrigued. This 15th century manor house had quite a history and was currently a B&B. I didn’t know until we arrived that it also had a reputation for ghostly activity. After checking in, we found out that we would be the only guests staying that night. It was such a large, fascinating building that I wondered if we would indeed hear any suspicious sounds! We had a lovely dinner served to us by our host, Elaine. Then she gave us a tour of some of the rooms. They were gorgeous! Here is the view from our room.DSC_5258 2

We settled in for the night and enjoyed a good night’s sleep. I didn’t hear any  strange sounds. Of course, I was wearing earplugs so that might be explain it. The next day, Matt left to work and I wrote a blog entry. Even though I enjoyed editing photos and writing the blog, I was tired. Travel weary. Living 5 and a half weeks out of a suitcase made me feel a bit homeless. We washed clothing in the sink. I always wondered where our next meal would come from and if it would be safe for my diet. I spent lots of time sitting on a bed while writing. And I was beginning to feel slightly useless. Believe me, I’m NOT complaining! It was an amazing adventure and I was so glad to be part of it. But I was beginning to miss home. And work. I mean just plain old housework. I never thought I would say that. After being served my meals, being driven all over creation and not having to clean, I realized that I would never have been able to be royalty. I need work to do! It was truly an eye opener. And a thought that I try to remember every time I have too much to do. Work is a blessing! Finally, Matt was back from his day at work and I could stop reflecting and do more exploring.

We went for walks down wall lined roads.DSC_5293 2

Then we explored Fountains Abbey. Once a beautiful home and worship place for Cistercian monks beginning in 1132, this architectural masterpiece had been destroyed by King Henry VIII in 1539 when he ordered the dissolution of monasteries. We arrived just a couple hours before closing and wondered if we would be able to enjoy the abbey ruins and the garden before closing time. The woman behind the desk assured us that it was plenty of time, loaned us an umbrella and sent us into a downpour. The ruins were beautiful.DSC_5337 2DSC_5351 2DSC_5338 2DSC_5381 2

We then started the walk around the adjacent gardens. Soon, we found that the walk was going to be longer than anticipated. I worried about getting locked into the place. Would we be able to get our rental car out? Matt kept telling me not to worry. He didn’t remember there being a gate. And surely they wouldn’t lock us in. Even though it was cool and rainy, I broke a sweat as we walked fast to get back to the visitor center. And we didn’t make it in time. We were fifteen minutes late. Wouldn’t you know, there was a gate too! Matt had me stand by the unlocked gate as he returned the umbrella to the front door of the locked visitor center and retrieved our car. The only other being I saw was a pheasant who kept me company. As I stood by the gate waiting, I couldn’t help but smile at yet another silly situation we had gotten ourselves into. Maybe they didn’t lock that outer gate? But when we got back to Harefield Hall and told of our mishap, we were assured that we certainly could have been locked in. Whew!

Since first arriving in our room, we had noticed two pillars standing on the mountain across the valley. It looked like more ruins and something for us to explore. I searched on the internet and we hiked to Yorke’s Folly, one of the popular hikes in the Nidderdale area. These pillars were originally built in the 1800’s to look like ruins. Legend has it that Mr. Yorke provided this building project in a time when jobs were scarce and people needed work. Even though three pillars were built, only two remain as one was toppled by wind. DSC_5451 2

As we hiked up to the folly, I could believe that one had succumbed to the gusts. It was getting stormy. Finally, the rain came with strong winds and we were becoming soaked. We took shelter next to the folly and it helped!DSC_5413 2

Just as sudden as the storm had come, it passed. I was able to look over the valley and see Harefield Hall. That’s how I had come to take the photo at the top of this blog. Here it is in the distance.DSC_5424 2

I had finally found the moors. As I stood in the wind, looking over the landscape of spongy growth, I felt like Jane Eyre or one of the many heroines from George MacDonald novels. So many of them had roamed the lonely moors and I had always wondered what exactly that was, but now I knew. DSC_5457 3

Refreshed from the hike and the rain, we made our way back to Harefield Hall for a lovely meal by the fire. Our hosts, Mike and Elaine were thrilled to hear that we were now “On Holiday” and would be heading to the Lake District. Mike waxed eloquently about the Lake District and pointed out highlights of the area on a map.DSC_5554 2

As he brought out rice pudding that he had made special to fit my diet, he said, “As you cross the ferry in the Lake District, yell ‘Hello from Mike.'” And we were eager to do just that!

Check out the previous posts about England. England 1, 2, 3, 4

Or you may want to start at the beginning of our adventure – in Italy! Italy 1

Downton Abbey on our Delaware Date

Did you know that Downton Abbey is in Delaware?! Well, let me back up a bit. As you have probably noticed by now, Matt and I find geocaches wherever we go and we have made it a goal to cache the states. Geocaching.com keeps track of our finds and there was a big gap for Delaware. We had found caches in every state along the Atlantic Ocean except that one. We never seem to have a reason for going to that particular state, so on Saturday, we decided it was Delware Date Day! I didn’t, however, want to drive all that way just to get a geocache and come home.

After researching on the internet, I found the perfect place to visit; the du Pont home, Winterthur. It sounded like just my kind of place, beautiful home to tour, 60 acres of gardens, museums and …get this…a special display of the costumes from the TV show, Downton Abbey. When we arrived, I was a bit disappointed that Winterthur was shrouded to cover scaffolding but we did get our photo in front of the Abbey. We welcome you to journey with us into the world of Downton Abbey and Winterthur.DSC_6999 2

The display of costumes was so well done. They started it out by showing us what the staff wears on the show. All throughout there were quotes from Downton Abbey, photos and videos playing clips. DSC_6944 2

The dresses and hats were incredibly beautiful! I thought maybe costumes for a show might look cheap up close. But these had lovely embroidery and beading. DSC_6979 2 DSC_6977 2 DSC_6951 2 DSC_6947 2 DSC_6963 2

I found it interesting that they would often start with a vintage piece and then create the rest of a gown from it. One example was the wedding dress that the character Edith wore. The veil was vintage and then the dress created to go with it. The antique veil was exquisitely beaded and the dress, while lovely, was not quite as spectacularly beaded. DSC_6968 2 DSC_6964 2

There were many more things to view in the Downton Abbey display and it was well attended. Many women showed up in lovely dresses and hats to view the costumes.DSC_6998 2

At the end of the display, there were three containers in which you could put a button. You were asked why you thought the show was so popular. The choices were historical content, costumes or storyline. I think many found it difficult to answer. Those costumes sure were beautiful! I thought maybe they should have had a fourth container with the words under it, “My wife makes me watch it.” It was time to tour the home of the du Pont family, Winterthur.

We had an excellent tour guide, Kathy, who led us through the house as if we were visitors from the time period of Downton Abbey, 1920s. She said as visitors of the du Pont’s for a weekend, we would be expected to have twelve changes of clothes. I said that I hoped they would have a lady’s maid for me since that was a lot of changing! She said, “Yes. The duPonts will always provide a maid if you don’t bring your own.” Whew!

We heard live piano playing as we entered a living area. Kathy said we would spend our morning here. Someone joked that they wouldn’t want to have a headache and be there in that room with the hand painted wallpaper.DSC_7013 2

Winterthur has an oval staircase.DSC_7016 2

The last du Pont to live at Winterthur, Henry Francis du Pont, loved the color green. He used thirty-two different shades of green in his home since he felt that everything went with green. He had come to that conclusion from enjoying his large gardens. Mr. du Pont noticed every detail and was extremely particular in decorating his home. He collected sixty sets of dishes so that after picking fresh flowers from his garden, he could match the china and napkin color to the bouquet. DSC_7032 2

Henry du Pont’s love of detail led him to decorate his 120 room house as a museum. He fully intended that it would be left for others to enjoy, along with his gardens.DSC_7040 2

And we did enjoy the garden, too, especially the enchanted one. I kissed a frog to see if I would find a prince.DSC_7049 2

I did! But he almost disappeared in a fairy mist.DSC_7057 2

So, I sat at the little house and examined the thatched roof.DSC_7052 2

My prince found me and we explored the rest of the displays in the museum. There was a large display of soup tureens from the Campbell family. This was my one of my favorites.DSC_7074 2

Although I thought this one was great too!DSC_7070 2

I enjoyed the paintings and textiles.DSC_7095 2 DSC_7076 2

Matt found a display of woodworking tools that were more his speed.DSC_7088 2

Finally, we got our Delaware geocache! Our Delaware Date was perfect!DSC_7039 2One more pic from the Downton Abbey display!DSC_6990