Monday, June 25, 2018

Week One: Living Room Refresh

Once upon a time, we bought a farm with a small ranch-style house. It needed cleaning and paint and some updating - which we've been steadily doing for the past 6 years, getting it ready for the some day move there full-time day. In the meantime, we enjoy getting away on weekends and occasionally a week at a time.

 One space I've struggled with is the living room - it's tiny...11x14' tiny... with a huge angled fireplace that eats up lots of space.

I call it cozy and I've done my best using second hand finds to make it comfortable BUT the decor has never felt quite right. I rearranged the furniture several times and finally hit upon what I feel was the best layout.

And yet it still felt off. So I enlisted the help of my friend KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms. She's brilliant. We talked and discussed my likes and all and she came up with a wonderful plan.

Use red. Lots of it. With wood accents. And a bigger rug. With a touch of blue. Here's the mood board she put together for me.

I ran with it. The rug is ordered and on it's way. (I found one I think will be perfect).

I made new pillows. All of them with red.

I have material to turn the miniblinds into a roman shade - And it has red too. My color- loving heart is very happy!

And we're taking the beast from the art room and turning it into an entertainment center for the tv. Bruce will have to do some modification on it then I'm going to paint it to refresh it. (Right now it's pretty ugly but the size is perfect for the space).
Sorry about the poor quality picture. It. seems this is the only photo I have of the beast.

I'm excited. It's going to finally looked pulled together using furniture we already have.

And that fireplace that takes up one whole wall? It's possibly getting a makeover too. I can't wait.

*If you need help with your spaces, you can find KariAnne over at her wonderful blog Thistlewood Farms. But if you want to jump right into decorating, may I recommend her super cute, super helpful DIY Home Planner book?

It's like having KariAnne with you each step of your decorating journey plus it helps you keep track of all your decisions as you go. (I have one and I've been busy putting samples and fabric swatches in it, sketching floor plans out, and so on. I wasn't asked to mention her book, but I really do find it extremely useful when planning your home decorating. And did I mention cute?).

Next week, I'll be talking about the rug and pillows. Be sure to hop back over to see what I ended up with.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Scotland - Part 3

So here we are on the last 4 days of our Scotland Trip. It was fabulous, breathtaking, and beauty-filled. A really wonderful trip.
Just a few of the Scotland Castles: Stalker, Urquhart, Inverness, Dunnottar, and Edinburgh

Once again, I have lots and lots of pictures so please enjoy!

The gorse was in full bloom, covering the countryside.

 Leaving Oban, we headed up toward Inverness which was our next stop. We were headed into the mountains and of course, it was raining on and off. One of the first things we saw was this small castle - Castle Stalker. You can read about it here: http://www.castlestalker.com/wp/



We found a spot to take pictures of it. Then we jumped back in the car and headed on. We passed through lots of pretty scenery...somehow I didn't get a picture of the mountains with snow still on them. They were so pretty shining in the sometimes sun. We got stuck in a slow moving line of traffic...finally passed 3 semis with windmill parts on them after they pulled over to let everyone pass. I'm not sure how they fit on the narrow 2 lane road. I sure wouldn't have wanted to meet them!

We stopped for gas and I saw this mossy fence. Had to take a picture of it - saw so much moss on the trip!

We stopped for lunch in Fort Augustus. It was a charming little village sitting on the southwest end of Loch Ness, although we had the worse luck with finding a spot for lunch. The first place was closed, the 2nd was reserved for a big group coming in, another across the bridge had about 3 tour buses descend on them about the time we drove up. We finally had luck at a pub and got in just before the tourist groups hit it. Whew.

From there, we drove across the bridge to the other side of Loch Ness. The area is touristy as you can imagine- the Loch Ness Monster legend has people hoping to catch a glimpse of her.

But the area has stunning scenery and that made it worth all the cars on the road. (I can't imagine what it's like in the peak times - we were there in off season). We stopped at Castle Urquhart and fortunately, the crowds were low. The sun also decided to come out for awhile although it was windy and chilly.

Here's a view of the whole ruins:


Headed to the ruins:
 


From there, we headed into Inverness. We were too early to check into our B&B, so we walked around the castle there. It is used as a courthouse but the grounds are pretty and you get a good view of the city.

It felt good to stretch our legs after being in the car. Then we checked into our B&B: Craigside Guest House. It was just up the hill from the castle and we even had a castle view! This was probably our best B&B. The hostess was gracious and very kind. The room was large with a king-sized bed, spacious bath, and very clean. After Oban (cramped, issues with the toilet and hostess so-so) this was heavenly. We didn't realize Craigside was a Rick Steves recommended place but we certainly see why it is.

That night, we ate supper at Cafe 1. This was our special anniversary meal and it didn't disappoint. The food was superb and the atmosphere friendly. We found Inverness to be charming and would love to go back and spend more time there.

But we still have places to go and things to see! The next morning after breakfast, we headed out once again. This time to take a distillery tour, another castle ruins to explore, all while driving toward Edinburgh our last stop on our trip.

Ah. Our distillery tour. Now that's a story. First, we tried to take one in Oban. Nope. They were booked up. 2nd, we had one booked for the morning we were driving to Loch Ness but quickly realized we weren't going to make it so cancelled it. 3rd, Bruce made reservations for one on our way to Edinburgh only when we arrived, we discovered we were at the wrong one! One that didn't do tours and the one we were supposed to be at was 2 hours away. (10min before the tour was supposed to start). Oops. Fortunately, we found one close by and as luck would have it, were the only ones on the tour.
Benromach Distillery is still completely run by hand. It was fascinating to learn about the process. It was a wonderful experience!

Back in the car - we headed toward Aberdeen and then down the east coast of Scotland. We finally got to Dunnottar Castle. It was much bigger than Urquhart! It sits way up on a cliff. 

Of course, it was raining again. So glad we had our rain jackets!
Yep, there were a lot of steps to get over to the ruins. Again, the scenery was stunning.

Supposedly, the lord of the castle had a lion and kept it in the area I have marked below. I must say, it wasn't a very big den. It doesn't sound like he got to keep said lion long as it's roaring disturbed the lady of the castle!
 I loved walking around and wondering what it must have been like to live in such a place.

The rocks on that pathway were very slippery from the rain.

We saw these yellow flowers growing on the castle wall...inside one of the rooms! Granted there was no roof but it still was funny to see plants there trying to take over. The lichen made cool patterns on the stone as you can see around the sundial and crests insets.

Dunnottar Castle is definitely a must see! Cold and wet, we got back into the car and headed to Edinburgh.

Oh the scenery! How I wish I could have captured it all. As we drove down the road, we did a version of "slug bug" - you know - the game where you slug someone when you see a Volkswagen Beetle. Only our version was "castle slug". You'd be driving and there on the hilltop you'd see a castle so "castle slug"! Fun to try to beat Bruce to it. Plus lots and lots of sheep on green hillsides. Just beautiful!

We finally made it into Edinburgh and after a few wrong turns, found our Air B&B. It was nice to have a whole apartment to ourselves with no schedule to worry about. We found a pub for supper then turned in for the night.

Next morning we were up and headed to the Edinburgh castle. We were happy to be able to walk and not drive this day. It was raining...of course.

We saw some ornate buildings:

 Misty view of the castle up on its hill:

The rain kept the crowds down while we stood in line for tickets.

Finally, we had tickets and walked around the castle. This one is not in ruins.






The unicorn of Scotland:

View of the city from the castle walls:

By the time we came out, the sun was shining and the ticket line was very, very long. So glad we braved the rain and went early! We headed down the Royal Mile and shopped for souvenirs. We saw a bagpiper finally!

Cool clock on building:

Finally blue skies and warmer weather!

 I loved this building.

We ate lunch and dropped off our purchases at the apartment. Then we headed out to the Botanical gardens. Again we walked. It ended up being farther than we thought so we only had about 30 minutes to walk around before they closed but the flowers were just beautiful!







The bushes were just loaded with blossoms!

We ended the day with a good supper (yum - steak and ale pie!) and then packed up for our flight the next morning. If you made it all this way, congratulations!

We did prove you can drive around Scotland in just a few days and see lots of different things although you won't get to spend much time in each location. The good thing is we now know where'd we stay longer and explore that area more in depth. Guess that means another trip! :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Scotland - Part 2

Last time, I told you about the first part of our trip to England/Scotland. I ended the first post with our trip to Bramall Hall. Read it here.
We saw lots and lots of sheep - love the stone wall fences
After eating supper in the town of Bramhall, we headed to Kendal to our B&B for the night. Hillside B&B was charming and Richard, the host, was so nice.
Me in front of Hillside B&B

The flowers were beautiful growing out of the stone wall in front of the B&B.

Bruce
 We had a beautiful room that looked out over the street. We slept well that night!

The next morning, we got up, ate breakfast, and headed into town to walk around. We saw this coffee house:
Isn't the sign the best?

A view down one of the streets:

We enjoyed seeing the different shops. The town was so quaint and beautiful. I really liked the bookstore window.

Afterwards, we packed up the car and headed into the Lake District to go see Beatrix Potter's farm.

We saw daffodils galore blooming along the roadside:

Stunning views of the countryside:


We arrived at the ferry crossing - almost to Hilltop Farm!

 After a short ferry ride and drive, we arrived at Near Sawrey and Hilltop Farm. I was in heaven! I got to visit the home of one of my favorite artist! It was fascinating to walk through Hilltop and imagine Beatrix's life.

It is now a museum with much of Beatrix's possessions. My favorite was seeing her writing desk with one of her letters with sketches on it.

After touring the house, we walked out in the gardens around the house. It was raining on and off and even sleeted for a couple of minutes!



From there, we walked around Near Sawrey. The sky was getting darker and darker, threatening rain and it was so chilly! We saw a B&B with a sign out front inviting you in for tea. We decided it would be a good way to warm up. Oh how I love an English Cream Tea!
It was just in time too, as it started pouring rain just as we got seated. Fortunately, by the time we finished our tea, the rain had stopped and the sun peeked out.
We stopped in the gift shop where I bought one of Beatrix's books - The Tale of Mr. Tod.  😊

There were plenty of pretty blooms to see as well:

Back in the car, we headed north toward Scotland. We saw some stunning scenery. Mountains, lakes, and charming towns. We stopped in Keswick for lunch...I somehow didn't take any pictures of that town but it was charming too! I would love to go back and spend more time in the Lake District.

 We finally crossed the border into Scotland and drove toward our next destination: Oban. We went through Glasgow (got there during rush hour so lots of traffic). We didn't stop but drove on through to the Loch Lomond & Trossach's National Park. It was very spectacular!






Again, it's an area I'd love to go back to and spend time in instead of just driving through. But we had to reach Oban for the night so we only pulled off a couple of times to take pictures. The waterfall was quite spectacular!

The clouds were hanging low over the mountains. I took this picture out of the car windshield so it's not all that great.

This was our longest day in the car but after many long miles on narrow 2 lane roads, we finally made it to Oban just before dark. We checked into our B&B and then set out to find some supper. We barely managed to get in before they closed but we did and got to enjoy a bowl of chowder. Then it was back to the B&B for rest and to get ready for our next day of adventure.
Oban is on the coast
That's it for this time. I'll try to finish it up next week with one more post. I hope you've enjoyed seeing a bit of our trip. The photos just don't do justice to the beauty of the land.

PS
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