Dalí Museum in St. Pete, FL

While in St. Petersburg for Red Sox Weekend, we decided to visit the Dalí Museum.  I had been to see this same collection a number of times in my high school and college days.  Back then, it was housed in a different, much smaller building.  Over a decade had passed since my last visit, and I was excited to see the museum’s new building and all the changes.

Salvador Dalí was a Spanish surrealist painter, born in 1904 and died in 1989.  He is probably most famous for his painting The Persistence of Memory, which contains his iconic “melting clocks” which suggest the erosion and fluidity of time, which, as Dalí likes to remind us, is a man-made social construct.

Source: Wikipedia

I understand that Dalí’s work is not for everyone.  Surrealist works, by their very definition, are often full of symbolism and themes that are intensely personal to the artist, and not everyone will be able to fully “get” what they are trying to say.  Think of Dalí’s art as the visual interpretation of his dreams.  Dreams don’t always make perfect linear sense, but the overtones, symbols, and themes can carry deep personal meaning.  Dalí was a tormented guy with a traumatic childhood which often came out in his work.  He was also heavily influenced by events going on in the world around him (the horrors of both World Wars, entering the Atomic Age, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to name a few) as well bits and pieces of his Spanish heritage and culture (especially bullfighting).  As a result, some of his pieces are quite dark and weird, but also extremely intriguing.

My favorite part about Dalí is that his works (especially his later pieces) often contain optical illusions.  Like the painting below, called The Hallucinogenic Toreador, which can be found at the Dalí Museum.  Do you see several copies of the famous Venus Di Milo statue?  Or do you see a bullfighter with a green necktie?

Source: Wikipedia

Regardless of what you think of Dalí himself, the museum in St. Pete is very cool!  You can tour the galleries on your own, with a very well-produced audio guide via a headset, or with a live tour guide.  You can choose any of these options at no extra charge.

The building itself is an architectural marvel.  It’s situated right in St. Pete’s scenic downtown waterfront, and behind the museum is a small, but fun, sculpture garden.

Some pics from our visit:

Dalí Wish Tree! Everyone wrote their wishes on their admission wristbands and tied them to the tree.

Obviously a playful take on the “melting clocks” that appear in several Dalí paintings. The crutch is another recurring theme. My brother and husband are trying to “melt” along with the bench. Goofs!

Everyone loves the giant rendition of Dalí’s trademark mustache.

If you are at all into art and find yourself with a couple of hours to spare in St. Petersburg, I highly suggest a visit to the Dalí Museum.

However, a slight word of warning: I saw several very young children in the museum and it made me consider whether or not I would bring my own (hypothetical) kids to a place like this.  Young children, while welcome in the museum, may not understand the mature themes of the paintings.  Some of them are quite dark, and often contain nudity and strong sexual overtones. I am all for exposing children to the arts at any age, but Salvador Dalí’s style is probably better suited for teens and above.  Your mileage might vary, of course, because each parent knows their child better than anyone and different children comprehend at different levels.  But just thought I would put that out there…

Polka, Dot? Why not?

On special request of my awesome cousin Kerry, I thought I would do an inspiration post about something she and I both love; polka dots!

What girly-girl doesn’t love polka dots?  I don’t even particularly consider myself a girly-girl, but I love them just the same.  Which I am sure you can tell from some of my fabric selections in my sewing projects…

What other classic pattern can be demure, sassy, cute, sweet, jazzy, fun, and even a little bit sexy all at the same time?

Source: ShopRuche.com

Source: Kawaii-Nails.blogspot.com

Source: ModCloth.com

Polka dots don’t take themselves too seriously.  They are playful, but in an understated kind of way.  They can take something boring and utilitarian and give it volumes of personality.

Source: Flickr.com

Source: PBTeen.com

Source: brightbazaar.blogspot.com

Source: CraftZine.com

How do you feel about polka dots?

Source: GroomsSoldSeparately.com

Adventures in The Villages

Below are pictures of our adventures in the Sumter Landing section of The Villages, which is one of the largest retirement communities in the world, and also where my grandparents live.  When I say retirement community, I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but everytime I go to visit I come away thinking how much I would love to someday be able to retire here.  First of all, it’s enormous.  There are endless neighborhoods with endless ammenities, including two different highly-themed downtown districts that include everything you could think of (banks, shops, cafes, chain restaurants, movie theaters, real estate offices, services, etc, etc).  Second (and this is the part I REALLY love), the entire community is almost entirely accessible by golf cart!  There are even special lanes, tunnels, and thruways built just for golf cart traffic.

These photos are from the newer of the two downtown districts, Lake Sumter Landing, which is themed to look like a seaside town somewhere on the East Coast, complete with a fake shipwreck.  The other downtown district, Spanish Springs, is themed like a town from the Wild West.  Some of the buildings even have elaborate fictional back stories and histories that have been made up to give the whole area lots of character.  It truly is like a Disney World for retired folks.  They are currently building a third downtown district called Brownwood, which will have a quaint farming community theme.

You will have to excuse the quality of the photos, as most of them were taken with my iPhone on a moving golf cart!

Starting our journey on the golfcart near my grandparents’ neighborhood.

My brother Ryan had his own cart behind us.

This is one of the tunnels built especially so that the golfcart traffic goes safely underneath the major roads instead of across them.

Entering Lake Sumter Landing.

We parked the golf carts near the lake and wandered over to the waterfront.

We didn’t see any gators.

The “shipwreck” on the lake.

Back in the golf cart, headed to the town square.

Harley Davidson store. Note the narrow grey sign at the top near the roofline. It says “C.F.C. River Freight Co.” This is what I mean about the back stories and theming…This building is fairly new, but it’s made to look like it was originally some kind of shipping company many years ago. Some of the buildings have little plaques noting their “histories”.

Their Panera is in such a cute building with a wrap-around porch/patio.

There is nightly entertainment in each of the town squares. See the chairs set up? There are also little bar stalls in the square, so you can get a beer or margarita to enjoy while you watch the show.

They even have their own radio station.

The most adorable movie theater, the “Old Mill Playhouse”. It’s even prettier on the inside…almost vaudeville-esque.

More cute shops, with lots of golf carts parked outside.

Maybe next time I will take you on a tour of the other downtown district, Spanish Springs.  It’s older than Sumter Landing, but still very cute and quaint with some really interesting features and architecture.

A delicious lemon-thyme pasta salad…and some Moo Cards.

Tried a new recipe last night that turned out great and thought I would share.  It was a modified version of this recipe from myrecipes.com, but I used penne instead of gemelli, and I also added halved cherry tomatoes and used feta cheese instead of parmesan.  I made a total mess of the kitchen, but it was worth it, because Tadd walked in the door from work and immeidately commented on how great the whole house smelled.  I loved the combination of the lemon and thyme and garlic in the dressing.  Give it a try!

In other news, I ordered Moo Blog Cards (which only cost me $5 in shipping and handling for 50 of them, thanks to a free “Perk” from Klout!).  I got them yesterday and they are SUPER cute!  Very happy with the style and quality of these cards.  Now when I mention my blog in conversation, I’ll have something tangible to hand people.  A little dorky perhaps and not something totally necessary for a little blog like mine, but I couldn’t pass up the deal.  I highly recommend them if you have a blog or something else that you regularly promote.

Yay indeed! This is how they were packaged.

Instagram Link Party: Geocaching in Lakeland

Tadd and I spent a lovely day on Saturday geocaching with good friends in Lakeland.  It was a beautiful day with high temps in the upper 70sF and blue skies.  It was fun exploring a new town.  Although we have driven through Lakeland many times on our way to and from Tampa, it’s not very often we have had a chance to actually stop and check it out.  Now that we have friends who live there, it was interesting getting the grand tour from a resident’s perspective.

What is Geocaching?  It’s a really fun hobby that I think would hook a lot more people if it weren’t kind of an underground-ish thing, because part of the fun is that everyone else in the world doesn’t have a clue what you are doing.  It’s basically like a world scavenger hunt.  People hide “caches” (basically containers of various sizes, each with a paper log inside), all over the world and post the coordinates of their cache at the official website.  Then others get the coordinates (sometimes along with clever clues, additional history about the area, or even funny stories that tie somehow to the cache) and use their smartphones (via the official Geocaching app) or another GPS-enabled device try to find it.  If they find it, they leave their name and date on the log, and then rehide it for others to find.

What I find fun about geocaching is that it allows you to explore new places (or even places you have been to a trillion times before) in a completely different way.  Caches are literally all around us; there are millions of them all over the world, in parks, bus stops, patches of wilderness, near landmarks, etc, etc, etc.  Everywhere!  I would venture to guess that there is at least one cache in every mall parking lot in the United States.  There is very likely one within a very short walking distance from where you are this very minute.  In Lakeland alone (which is a pretty small town, much smaller than Orlando) there are literally thousands.  Caches can bring you to some little-known out-of-the-way spot with an incredible view, or with some unique story that you would have never known about if it weren’t discovered to get to a cache.  As corny as it sounds, it’s almost more about the journey than the destination.

Below is a video from the official Geocaching website to explain more about it in a manner that is probably more concise than my rambles above.  The iPhone app is $10, but that small one-time investment is really all this entire hobby should really cost you, aside from gas to drive around looking for the caches, of course.  And no, I am not being paid to talk about this in any way, shape, or form.  Just sharing about a little-known hobby that I think my readers might enjoy.


This post is linked to the weekly Instagram Link Party at a {little} dash of ash.


Instagram Link Party: Winter Park by Boat

The holidays are in full swing!  I’m loving it, but I have been super busy.  We spent all last week doing all kinds of things while my mother-in-law was in town.  She left Sunday and things are slowly returning to normal.

One of the highlights of my mother-in-law’s visit was the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour we took Tuesday afternoon.  If you live in the Orlando area, or are visiting the area and want to do something a little different outside of the theme park areas.  The tour has been operating for over 50 years, and departs every hour on the hour between 10am and 4pm everyday except Christmas Day.

This was my third time taking the tour, and I still really enjoy it.  It lasts about an hour, and takes you through three lakes on Winter Park’s chain of lakes; Lake Osceola, Lake Virginia, and Lake Maitland.  You get to see some amazingly fancy (and some quite historic) homes, many owned by celebrities and public figures.  You also get to see the beautiful campus of Rollins College.

The lakes are linked by these scenic canals lined with boathouses and huge live oak and cypress trees.  It’s so pretty and peaceful.

This pic was taken during one of my past times on this tour, when I was lucky enough to have a front seat.

My favorite part of the tour is the water-locked cypress in the middle of Lake Maitland.  There is just something really cool looking about a tree growing in the middle of a lake.  Locals even decorate it for Christmas each year.

We have started decorating for Christmas in our house!  I am excited to show you the TWO trees we have up this year.  This is the first year we have had two trees, so I’m really jazzed about it.

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Bonaventure Cemetery…Morbid, yet beautiful.

This trip to Savannah we took last weekend was actually my second trip.  Tadd and I went for a quick, inexpensive getaway back in May 2007.  Being a self-professed history geek, I kinda fell in love with the city, and was super excited at the opportunity to go back.

One of the places on my wish list to get to see this time that Tadd and I missed back in 2007 was Bonaventure Cemetery, and we did make a stop on our way out of town on Sunday.  If you have read the book or watched the movie Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, you may be at least slightly familiar with the cemetery, as it is featured in the story.  Touring a cemetery might seem morbid, but Bonaventure is truly a sight to behold.  Tons of marble, beautiful statues, ornate headstones, all under a chapel-like canopy of huge live oak trees draped in Spanish moss.  You can certainly see how the families all tried to outdo each other with more and more elaborate family plots.  It was slightly drizzly the morning we were there, which made it even more eerie and beautiful.

I was so absolutely taken with Bonaventure, I wanted to share some of the pictures I took.  I suppose if there were ever a month to post about an old cemetery, October would be it!

This one was my favorite. The angel statue was huge...about the same size as an average human.

"Gracie" is one of Bonaventure's more famous gravesites. Her statue was particularly eerie to me.

Gracie's story.

Spanish moss blowing in the breeze.

The cemetery is on a small bluff overlooking the Wilmington River.

Haunted Mansion gets a shiny new graveyard!

Sorry posts have been sparse lately.  I am getting ready to head out of town for a few days (leaving poor Tadd behind yet again) and there is just SO much to do!

So I thought I would put together a quick little post showing you something neat we experienced for the first time last Saturday at Magic Kingdom (I realize this has been complete for a few months now, but the last few times we went, we chose the quicker queue route that bypasses the new stuff).  I’m sure many of you have been to Walt Disney World before and remember how the line for Haunted Mansion trails alongside a graveyard that contains a plethora of headstones with funny pun-like epitaphs.  Recently Disney Imagineers revamped the queue and expanded the “graveyard”.  The line now weaves in and amongst lots of different interactive crypts and gravestones.  We almost had more fun waiting in line than we did on the ride!

The first area you come across are these monuments.

I just love the detail and facial expressions on the busts!  Incredibly well done and lifelike.  And of course, they each have funny poems about how each relative died.

Next is a crypt for a desceased musician.  When you touch the different instruments on the sides, different music plays.  There are different sets of instruments on each side.  The epitaph at the top says “He’s gone from this world of trouble and strife, but a touch of your hand brings his music to life.”

At one end of this crypt is a pipe organ that you can “play” in much the same way as the instruments on each side.  You touch the “keys” and you can hear the pipe organ play.  But every so often, it will spit “dust” (a small cloud of mist, really) at you.  So cool!

Perhaps you can see that the name of the pipe organ manufacturer is “Ravenscroft”, which seems to be an ode to legendary voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft, who voiced/sang, among other things, the lead in the song “Grim Grinning Ghosts” in the Haunted Mansion, some of the singing pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean, Buff the buffalo in Country Bear Jamboree, the narrator from the beloved animated Christmas special How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and even the voice of Tony the Tiger (“They’re GRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT!”).

Along the original graveyard fence line, you can see that they have expanded the original graveyard almost to the Rivers of America.  At one end was this shovel sticking in the ground, wrapped in barbed wire.  I thought that was a nice (but creepy) touch.

This next part was really cute.  This giant bathtub-shaped monument made all kinds of noise, squirted water and mist in a bunch of different ways, and even randomly blew bubbles!

The epitaph reads:

Here floats Captain Culpepper Clyne,

Alergic to dirt so he’s pickled in brine,

He braved the sea and all of her wrath,

But drowned on land while taking a bath.

He even sneezed on us!  We heard heaving and then all of a sudden ACHOOO!!  And a little bit of water flew out of the top of the tomb and landed on the crowd waiting below.  Eww!

But I think my favorite part of all was the library crypt of Poet Prudence Pock (who apparently died from writer’s block)!

This isn’t a great picture, so let me show you a better one from a different site:

Click for source: WDWFacts.com

The “books” on the side of the crypt would randomly push out from the “shelves”.  If you pushed the book back in, another book (or several books) would push out elsewhere.  It was like playing a game of whack-a-mole.  Great fun and very cute!  The way it was done, it really felt like “something” (and not something mechanical) was pushing them out.

I hope you enjoyed this tour through the new and improved graveyard at WDW’s Haunted Mansion!

Eversave Giveaway!



If you know me, you know how much I love a great deal.  Who doesn’t, right?  Especially in today’s economy; everyone is looking for ways to save a buck while still enjoying life to the fullest.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that I am teaming up with the daily deals website Eversave today on a great giveaway for my readers!

Eversave works day and night to negotiate the very best deals for you on all the things you love.  From spas and restaurants to lift tickets and yoga classes – Eversave delivers these local discounts directly to your inbox, in the form of a Save.

In addition to their local daily deals, they also offer spectacular Saves from online merchants which allows their customers nationwide to get in on the fun!

So what are you waiting for?  Sign up for Eversave to start receiving daily e-mails with details of the Saves happening in your neighborhood.  Eversave will even give you $2 [aside: I think it’s actually $3 right now] to use towards your next purchase just for creating an account!

And don’t forget to spread the word.  Eversave makes it easy and rewarding to share Saves with family and friends.  Whether you tell them about a deal you love via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter, when someone you’ve referred to the site makes his or her first purchase, we’ll add $10 in Save Rewards to your account.

Daily deals offering out-of-this-world savings – it’s that simple.  Visit Eversave today & learn more.

Just as an example, today they are offering a great Save for a bike/moped rental over in the Cape Canaveral beach area.

Rent 2 bikes or 2 mopeds for a full day for $25, a $50 value at regular price!  If you include the $3 Save Reward for signing up with Eversave, that’s $22 for 2 full day bike rentals at the beach.  Not too shabby!  And if you aren’t interested in this deal, there are others offered right now, and more deals pop up everyday!  And if you live outside of Central Florida, be sure to check out the great deals going on right now that are specific to your area.

For more info on how Eversave works, check out their FAQ page.

Eversave has provided me with $15 in Save Rewards (site credit, basically) to give away to one of my readers.

Here’s how to enter!:

  • MANDATORY: Sign up for Eversave and come back here and leave a comment letting me know that you have done so.   This is very important because you can’t get the $15 credit unless you have an account!

BONUS! For ‘Extra Entries’ (please leave separate comments for each one…so a total of 4 potential entries):

I will accept entries up through 6pm ET on Sunday, 9/11/11, and the winner will be chosen at random from the comments left on this post.

**I am not being compensated by Eversave for this contest.  Thoughts are my own.   Giveaway open to U.S. residents ONLY. 
  Entries accepted through Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 6pm ET. **

Dollar store hurricanes!

Now, I fully realize that by DIY decor blog standards, I am WAY behind the curve.  These hurricane vases were all the rage in those circles about 6 months ago.  And when I first saw them, I definitely wanted to try them.  But then everytime I went to Dollar Tree, they were either out of one of the two components, or it just didn’t cross my mind.  Finally on Sunday, everything came together, and I bought the last of what they had, which happened to be enough to make myself a pair of lovely hurricanes…For a whopping $4!

The inspiration for these hurricanes came from Pottery Barn, where you can get the following vases for $60 each!

The tallest one on the left could be all yours...for $60. Want a pair? That will set you back $120! Or you can spend $4 and make a pair that are just as pretty!

Now, I wish I knew who originally came up with this idea.  As I mentioned before, it kind of went viral in the DIY blogosphere over the holiday season last year, and it was reposted and reposted so many times in so many different versions, that I think the originator got lost somewhere along the way.  But if anyone knows, please let me know and I will happily give credit.

Go to the candle/floral section of your local Dollar Tree store.  You should find glass taper candle holders and fluted vases that look like what you see below.  You will also need some kind of clear adhesive.  I have seen people use hot glue (like I did), E6000, Gorilla Glue, Super Glue…really any kind of strong adhesive that dries clear will work.

I am sure you see where I am going with this…It’s pretty self explanatory.  Put a generous bead of glue around the rim of the taper holder…

Take your vase, and place very carefully onto the taper candle.  It helps to look down into the center of the vase to make sure the taper is centered…

Once the adhesive has set, you are DONE!

You can use them for candles as I have, or you can fill them with various things.  I have seen fall leaves & glass acorns, sand & seashells, sparkly Christmas ornaments, etc.  I have also seen them stacked with river stones on the bottom, with a candle resting on top.  They are beautiful, cheap, easy, and extremely versatile.  Why not give them a try yourself?