Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Gift for a Sweet Girl

My three sweet grandchildren have now returned to their own home. This is a good thing because it means their daddy was well enough to be released from the hospital. Their lives have been turned upside down for the past several years by the cruel reality of a world in which their father fights a moment to moment battle with cancer. Stage IV kidney cancer, to be more precise, with all its horrors and coupled with massive radiation and chemo treatments, the side effects of which can be as devastating as the disease itself.

This lovable, lively,  cottage cheese mooching fellow, Champ, who also stays with us during these periods, went back home with the children.

You might have guessed, he is begging for a morsel!
 We love them all dearly, but hope they will not have to come back for quite some time for any extended stays. We hope their dear, sweet daddy will be enjoying some really good days at home! That is our prayer.

It is no secret that I am a (cheap)frugal lady. It brings me great pleasure to find a really good deal on something I can truly use. Two of my favorite words are "practical" and "serviceable." A good deal can be both.

Several years ago, I came across two packages of beads on clearance at Walmart. Each package was actually a kit, complete with instructions, for assembling a large necklace comprised of three separate strands of beads, entwined or twisted to make one large necklace. I had no idea, at the time, what I was going to do with these beads, but I  was certain I could use them for making something pretty, though probably not the three-stranded necklaces for which the kits were originally purposed. I tend to be spontaneous and adventurous, by nature, so I frequently like to change things up a bit. The sensation of "flying by the seat of my pants" is familiar to me when working on a project. I sometimes find the fun is in seeing what is at the end of an uncharted journey! It keeps things interesting, to say the least!

Therefore, I decided to shell out the enormous sum of one dollar each for these fabulous kits that contained some beautiful beads in ocean-inspired and sea colors. One contained the colors of ocean sands, mother of pearl and seashells.. The other contained the more neutral colors of the ocean sands, mother of pearl, sea foam and aqua sea glass.

Here is a photo of one unopened kit, a picture of the top of the package from the other and, in a plastic freezer bag, the many beads left over after I finished the project I am posting about today. In the picture is the only actual jewelry making tool I own. You can clearly see the red tags stating $1.00 on each. One was marked down to $1.50 before it finally went down to $1.00. From the tag on the other, it appears that both kits had originally probably cost $5.96.

As I recall, the little jewelry tool is called a 5-in-1 tool or something like that. It can be used for a number of jewelry making tasks and really is invaluable for cutting wires and headpins, rounding off the headpins to make nice, clean connections and for making round loops. It can also be used for opening and closing jump rings, split rings, closing loops and rings, etc. As you can see, there are a ton of beads left over from my project in the quart sized freezer bag.There are enough beads there for many more sets of earrings, necklaces or bracelets. Now that is, literally, stretching a dollar!

As I have stated before, I am positively NOT an expert jewelry maker, but I enjoy the process of learning. Someday, if my hurting hands will allow, I hope to take a course or two in jewelry making, so that my projects will look a little more sophisticated and polished. I am afraid surgery for one hand is in order, but I do not have the time or the inclination for that right now. As with many of my hobbies, I have used the internet, magazine articles with tutorials, etc. to gain a little knowledge about the subject over the years.

Since a friend was having a birthday, I decided to make a pair of drop earrings and a one strand necklace for her. I changed my mind, started over, and made two coordinating bracelets instead. In my stash of (findings (supplies), I already had some stretchy jewelry stringing thread, for assembling the bracelets, and some hooks and long jewelry headpins for making drop earrings.

This is the finished set.
I adore the colors in this set and how the bracelets are the hues of ocean waters. They also contain faux pearls and one of them has large blue/green beads that remind me of sea glass! I think sea glass is positively wonderful and I certainly hope my friend likes this ocean inspired set! 

Do you think you might enjoy creating a few pieces of jewelry? If you want to try your hand at some simple jewelry projects, it does not have to be expensive. You can do like me. I look for bargains on materials and supplies and I recycle other items of my own or from other places, such as broken and/or discarded jewelry finds. You know how much I like to keep things out of the landfills when I can. As the saying goes, "One woman's trash............." or something like that! 

There are any number of sources with tutorials on the subject on the internet. Of course, there are books at the library and even free brochures at hobby and craft shops and stores. For example, here is one link I found today: This is just one source. There are any number of free sources to be found on the subject. 

For me, it is a hobby that has been a lot of fun over the years. It is nice to be able to craft something special and unique, from time to time, for yourself or to give to that special person. Please be encouraged to try this for yourself. Let your spirit of learning soar to another plane. Try something new and different. Go for it! Take that uncharted flight, you might just be surprised at how much fun and how rewarding it can be. You, too, can "fly by the seat of your pants" and you might love the place where you land!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Train Trip Through A Miniature Bavarian Countryside at EPCOT's World Showcase

This is a post which I have intended to write for months. My time has been very limited as of late and so this was put on the back burner.

Let me begin by saying that I love things created in miniature or on a scale much smaller than real life. You know, like tiny houses and buildings, landscape scenes that look as if you are viewing the real scene from a great distance. These often include people going about their daily routines, animals and even railways with functioning tracks.

When I posted about Disney's Yacht Club at Christmas, I included pictures of the miniature railway and ski village on display in the lobby. If you missed that post, "Snow at the Yacht Club," or would like to revisit it you can go to this link: This picture is from that post. Isn't it a fabulous display of miniatures?
Miniature Railway at Disney's Yacht Club at Christmas
Today's post is about another miniature railway and village exhibit at Disney World. This one is a permanent attraction, located in Disney's EPCOT Center in the World Showcase. It can be found at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion and it is an outstanding example of miniature scenes. There are several little trains running throughout the many vignettes. The greenery and "trees" in this display are comprised of living plants! The following photo is of the interior portion of the Germany Pavilion at EPCOT and is where the shops and restaurants are located. The miniature village is located on the outside area of the pavilion and to the right of these buildings on the side of the main entryway to the Germany pavilion.
EPCOT's Germany Pavilion at Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
Please, climb aboard with me at the Railroad Station as we embark on a scenic train trip around this magical little miniature world. For a fun stretch of imagination, we will call it  "Little Germany." Ours will be a short trip, but if you love miniatures as much as I do, you are certain to enjoy the ride!

We board the little red passenger train at the railway station in town.  We can see a church in the background and lots of homes and shops. The townspeople are busily milling about as we take off on our miniature tour.
Railroad Station in the Miniature Village in EPCOT's Germany Pavilion

One of the first sights we see as we peer out the window of our car and to our left is this scene high up in the hills. We see many homes dotted along the slopes, nestled among the evergreen trees.
Some of the Houses in the Landscape Along the Miniature Railway  at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion

We see another hillside scene, with a Bavarian chalet in the distance, far back in the spruces. Our train's tour guide tells us that the food they serve here is delicious and there are many trails for hiking. As our train glides smoothly along, we cannot help but wonder what it would be like to spend some time up there. We decide we will stay over for a short holiday on our next tour up here. We all agree it will be great fun!
Germany Pavilion at Disney's EPCOT Center-Miniature Village

We note that the train is slowing down. It comes to a stop in a vale. Our guide advises that we can get off the train here to stretch our legs. We take a little walk up the pathway and breathe in the fresh air and take time to appreciate the beauty and solitude of this place. How peaceful and serene is this wonderful little chapel, nestled cozily among the fragrant junipers and rustic and natural surroundings! We enjoy a few moments in the little chapel, having only positive  and contemplative thoughts in this sweet and special place in the vale.
Church in the Miniature Village at Disney's Germany Pavilion in EPCOT Center

When we board our train again, we cross over a train trestle and we can see a shed below on our left. A train is sitting on another track that runs perpendicular to and under the trestle bridge. It is on the ready, waiting for busy workers to complete the task of filling the train car sitting on the side of the shed.
Trestle Bridge Located in the Miniature Village at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion
We look closer and observe the commercial train engine just peeking out from under the shed. A man is diligently working with a shovel to complete the filling of a train car on the side of the shed and we wonder if he might live in the pretty yellow cottage we passed and can still see as we look back.
A Man Works to Shovel Material into a Train Car to be Towed Somewhere by the Waiting Train
Our train is quickly approaching the end of our round trip journey. When it comes to  the final stop, we disembark at the Germany Pavilion and browse through the shops in the pavilion. Since it is the Christmas season, we make a point to stop in at the Christmas shop. What a feast for the eye! There are many trees in the shop, decorated in different themes.

We see one decorated in a festive bird theme. How bright and beautiful! Here is a close shot of the ornaments:
Bird Themed Tree in a Shop at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion
Here we take another close shot of some of the bird ornaments on the bird themed tree:
Bird Themed Tree at Germany Pavilion at EPCOT in Walt Disney World

There is also a tree with gorgeous blown glass ornaments! Here is a close up shot:
Blown Glass Ornaments at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion

There is one with European glass ornaments which celebrates with an Octoberfest theme, including beer bottles and beer steins in beautiful bronze and blue colored ornaments. How beautiful they are!
Beautiful Octoberfest Tree at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion
Here, we have a close shot of the Octoberfest tree:
Octoberfest Theme Tree at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion

Disney World would be remiss if there was not a tree decorated with Bavarian style European glass ornaments of Disney characters. To name a few, there is Cinderella's Pumpkin carriage, Peter Pan,Winnie the Pooh, Mickey and, of course, that bad little German boy puppet, Pinocchio.

Disney Character Themed Tree at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion
A close up of the Character Tree:
Close Up of the Character Tree at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion
And, of course, no German Christmas would be complete without hanging a pickle ornament. Therefore, it is no surprise that there would be a "Pickle Ornament" tree. Just look at all those pickles!
Pickle Ornament Tree at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion

Another shot of the "Pickle Ornament" tree:
Pickle Ornament Tree at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion

Today's post about the miniature village and train at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion is but a very small portion of all there is to enjoy at EPCOT's Germany Pavillion. I have endeavored to show you some of the wonderful details within the exhibit through some still, close shots. If you are at all like me, you can pretend and imagine that these wonderful little scenes are real and you can find some childlike pleasure as you "step inside" these magical little vignettes.
As for the pictures of the trees at the Christmas shop, I could not resist throwing a little Christmas fun into the mix!

I found a short video on Youtube and I think it is quite good. If you would like to see the little trains in action, you can check it out

It was great fun reliving this memory as I shared it with you in composing this post. I hope you enjoyed coming alongside me for the short ride through this miniature village! I wish you a beautiful and blessed week ahead. May your hearts and homes be filled with much joy and happiness!