Monday, December 10, 2007

Untraditional Thanksgiving

Well actually it is kind of becoming 'traditional' for us the last few years. Since we had a nice big block of time free for work and school we hopped on an airplane and went to see someplace new. This time our destination was Madrid Spain. We actually stayed in a little village about a half hour south of Madrid called ChinChon in an apartment that has been there for over 500 years on what some of the guide books call the most beautiful square in the area.

A few times a year they even put up fencing and bleachers and hold bullfights here. Other times there are markets, outdoor restaurant seating and of course parking. On weekends the square is filled with people who come in from Madrid and elsewhere to enjoy the fine cuisine that the restaurants in the area are famous for. Some of what we tried included suckling pig, roast lamb, lamb stew, garlic soup (special to the area) and roasted partridge.

Our first day we drove to Toledo to explore that city. Toledo is perched on a hill with a river that curves around the bottom of the hill so you must cross bridges to enter the old part of the city. We wandered the medieval streets until we got to the cathedral, said to be among the greatest gothic structures in Europe. We easily spent over an hour exploring the building and its beautiful cloister. One treat that surprised us was that the church contained several masterpieces by Goya and El Greco.

We explored more of the city and Colin was pleased to find that some of the old gates showed some Moorish influence. He really liked this kind of architecture when we visited Spain before and hoped to find some. After stopping to get some photos of the city from the other side of the river we headed back to our apartment.

Our next day was the big city of Madrid! We found a town on the map that was on the subway line, but not too far into the city and left our car there and rode the train in rather than brave the traffic. Our first destination was the Royal Palace of the King of Spain. We have visited many palaces and castles and all agreed that this is way up there in our list of favorites. What amazing rooms and furnishings. When we went inside there were signs with a camera and flash crossed out so assumed it meant no flash photography. One of the tour guides stopped me from taking a picture but I thought it was just that room. A few rooms later a security guy came up to me and told me no photos and made sure my camera was turned off and said if he saw me again he would invite me to leave! I didn't want to see if he was serious or not so I behaved myself....he WAS moving from room to room and we saw him lots of times as we went through so I don't doubt he was watching me.

After we finished seeing all the parts of the palace, including the armory we headed towards the National Archeological museum to see the Altamira cave exhibit we read about in our guide book. It is a fullsize replica of the caves with the ancient paintings of animals on the ceiling. The museum is right next to a huge plaza called Plaza de Colon that is commemorating Christopher Columbus. We noticed many busses parking nearby and people walking around carrying Spanish flags and a big stage set up with a bunch of balloons that we figured they would release. Not knowing what the gathering would be or how peaceful it may or may not be we were pleased to head out to our next museum..the Reina Sofia museum. We had originally planned to visit the famous Prado, but in looking through our books learned that Picasso's famous "Guernica" is on display at the Sofia museum so chose to visit there instead.
Coming up out of the subway station we were kind of concerned to see groups of police in full riot gear all over the place. Nothing seems to be going on so we wondered if this is 'normal' for that area. After enjoying the museum for a bit it began to get dark outside and we decided to bring our Madrid experience to a close. The old Atocha railway station is right across the street from the Sofia museum so we went to the subway through there. This is the largest and the first train station in Madrid. The old part of the train station has been renovated and has a massive tropical botanical garden in the middle of it.

When we got back to our little apartment and had finished our dinner we saw on the news that there had been a HUGE demonstration that evening beginning in the Columbus Square, with 10s of thousands of people marching in the streets remembering victims of terror. I guess that explains all the riot police!

The next day was our last day and Bill didn't feel up to braving the big city again so we did some poking around and discovered that we weren't all that far from some of those cool Spanish windmills that are in the Don Quixote novel. Every time we have been to Spain Bill wonders if any of those windmills are nearby, and every time the answer has been no...until this time! How could we pass up this chance? So we hopped in the car and headed south to the village of Consuegra. We were not disappointed at all! The crest of the hill overlooking the town has 11 restored windmills as well as a castle. For most of the time we were there we were pretty much the only people out there and the views were amazing and it was a treat not to have to dodge tourists and keep them out of our pictures.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Come to a fun online crop!

Scraphappy KT is having a weekend long online crop to celebrate the site's Grand ReOpening!! There are all sorts of games and challenges and surprises going on. And even better....some of the challenges aren't due until the end of the month!

Actually Jen from the site has summed it all up very well in this FAQ.
FAQ about the ScraphappyKT online crop

1) What is the online crop?

The online crop is a weekend-long event hosted by the Scraphappy KTDT members that will encompass scrapbooking, games, challenges, classes, PRIZES, chatting with other members and lots of FUN! The point of the online crop is to get active on the Scraphappy KT boards and in the gallery. The KTDT members encourage you to participate in our fabulous games and challenges.

2) What sort of activities will be featured at the Online Crop?

The main attractions to our online crop are the challenges, the games and the many chances to win prizes. You'll find regular challenges, featuring many different themes and techniques, and Quickie Challenges, which are small challenges intended to keep those juices flowing by creating a layout in under an hour. Most every challenge can be completed using basic supplies we have in our vast amount of supplies. If the challenge will require something unusual, it will be posted ahead of time in the WEEKEND CROP forum.
We will also feature a class, a tutorial and a Make & Take. Please check the supply lists in the WEEKEND CROP forum for more information. Games are another big feature during our online crop. You can join in the fun playing Bingo, guessing games, trivia games, layout hunts and MORE! Keep in mind that the more games and challenges you participate in the better your chances are of walking away with KT points, prizes and/or gift certificates!

3) How can I get ready for the Online Crop?

First, you want to check out the Weekend Crop Forum and print out or copy the schedule and check for any other announcements regarding classes, challenges or games.
Also, don't forget to sign up for Bingo and send in your Bingo cards early! We have two different Bingo games scheduled to keep the fun rocking all weekend long!
Next, you’ll need to gather all of your favorite supplies and clear a scrapping space. You may want to set your space up near your computer to make your crop experience more enjoyable!
Last thing, is to make sure you plan ahead and clear your schedule so you can spend as much time participating in our on-line crop as you possibly can! You won't want to miss any of the FUN!

5) What should I expect once the Online Crop starts?

You can expect Fun! Fun! Fun! You'll suddenly notice new threads popping up for games, challenges and friendly KT banter in the Weekend Crop forum. Keep an eye on this forum and hit that refresh button frequently so you don't miss a new challenge or game. The rules for each challenge and game will be posted clearly in each new thread. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shout it out. Our KTDT members are there to make sure you have fun!

6) How do I find new challenges?

The best way to stay in the know is to keep refreshing the Weekend Crop Forum! You'll see new threads with the challenge title and #. In case you get lost in a sea of new threads... there will also be a Master Crop Schedule thread highlighted and stuck to the top of the Crop Forum with an up-to-date listing of current and past challenges.

7) How are winners selected?

Our KTDT Members will try their hardest to make sure everyone has a blast during our online crop. If you want to get KT Points and prizes, you need to participate, participate, participate! Most challenge and game winners are chosen by random drawing. Some games will be won by the "first person with the correct answer". This will be stated in the rules of each game. It's very important to read the rules in every new challenge or game. The KTDT members will also have points to distribute randomly to scrappers hanging around @ the On-line Crop with us!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Headless Horseman Rides!

Last night, tonight and tomorrow night at Heidelberg High School! Colin has been busy busy busy practicing and working on sets and getting ready for the show. He hasn't ever been in a play before and was SO excited when he found out he got a part in the first play of the year, and what a fun part it is too. He is a ghost pirate and gets to terrify poor Ichabod Crane demanding his lost gold.

I haven't ever been involved with theatre before either so it was interesting being a "Drama Mama" for the first time. (Yes...we even got buttons to wear proclaiming our Drama Mama and Papa status!) I went to one of the rehearsals about a week before opening night to take some photos and see how they were coming along. Wow there is a LOT that goes into one of these things! Lights, sound effects, lines....lines....please memorize those lines!...props, scenery, costumes and lots more. What a great show we were treated to last night! Everyone did an awesome job and should be very very proud of themselves. Applause!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Oh yeah!!! If you refer back to the post before this one you might remember that the scrapbooking site I usually hang out at has made some administrative changes and now has new management, name and everything. Along with that they needed to add some designers to the team so they had a Design Team Call and imagine my surprise to find out the other day that I was among the finalists!!!!! I was on top of the world....but this evening I got boosted up another few clouds, I am one of the new Scrapbook Shanty design team members!!!! I love being a part of a design team and already know lots of the gals on the team and just know it will be a lot of fun to work with them. Watch for sponsor layouts in the weeks to come!!! There are all sorts of fun things going on at the Shanty so if you haven't stopped by yet be sure to do that. Especially next is a big cyber crop weekend with all sorts of fun surprises! Whoohoo!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Changes all over the place!!

Wow it has been TOO long since I updated my poor blog! Sorry guys! I caught this icky cold or virus or something and have been coughing like a fool for just over a week now. Poor Colin caught it too and stayed home from school Monday and Tuesday. I think my friend Karen who USED to live around the corner from me shared HER cold with me and I am just sending it along as well. Mom always taught us to share right??! Now lets see how long it takes before Bill starts coughing.

The scrapbook site I usually hang on at...Scrapbook Chalet is in the process of a huge change. The owner has a brick and mortar store in Maine and is in the process of fostering to adopt some kiddos! All this means she has more than enough on her plate and has to let the website go. But all us Chalet gals NEEED a place to play so she handed things over to one of the DT members Kat and she is busy moving everything to our new place....The Scrap Shanty. So far it is just the opening page that is up...but I am sure that moving things is a HUGE task so I will be patient.

In the meantime I have been busy learning how to do some more scrapbooking things digitally. WOW there is a LOT out there! So far I have 'just' been downloading freebies and lemme tell ya...there are SO many available and new ones every day that you could do that only and be perfectly satisfied. I have 2 sites I check for goodies each day...Ikea Goddess and DigiFree. If you haven't dabbled with should give it a try, it's fun! Look I made this layout the other was my first try with a template and both the site that offered the template Designs by Amy and Theresa and the site I got the background paper from Scrappin Digi Creations put it up on their site or newsletter for all to see. Ooooo ahhhhhh!

And don't worry about me going into message board withdrawal either! My friend Tammy sent me a link to a fun site ScrapHappy KT that has been going through changes of its own. I guess they lost ALL their stuff and are having to start over from scratch. OUCH! There is an AMAZING store too with tons of goodies and lots of nice gals to talk with and share photos. I can't WAIT til they get the gallery up and running too. Come say hi if you get a chance!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Colin experiences Global Warming

Before we headed home Monday we decided to go over to Grindelwald and take a little hike up to the glacier caves. We had visited there when we lived in Germany 12 years ago and remembered how amazing it was to walk right up into the foot of a glacier and wanted to let Colin experience this. The first part of the hike was much as we remembered it, but then we came upon a huge cliff of rock with wooden stairs leading straight up it. Bill and I wondered how we could have possible done that with a stroller back in 1994 and figured we must have taken a different path to the glacier. Bill's love of heights (NOT!) made him decide to wait for Colin and me with his feet firmly on the ground while we climbed the over 800 stairs to the top. WHEW!

At the top of the stairs we walked across the rock to a newly built rope bridge spanning a chasm with rushing glacial runoff many feet below us. There was a corral of safety fences at the other side of the gorge and that was the 'end of the line'. We weren't at the foot of the glacier, in fact we couldn't even see the foot of it, it was way above us and around the corner. Disappointed Colin and I walked back to the little hut on the rocks by the stairs that served drinks and snacks. While I drank my Coke I looked at some postcards sitting on the counter and talked to the lady who worked there. Here are scans of the postcards:

I wanted to know where we could go to see this and she told us that the last year they had caves like this was the year 2000. The photo on the left with the planks going across was where the bridge we crossed is today. The foot of the glacier is nowhere near this spot only 7 years later. We talked more and figured out that the reason we didn't remember climbing all those stairs when Jeffrey was little was because we didn't need to! The glacier was way down there and we could stroll up the the foot of it. Colin kept shaking his head and saying that he had heard about global warming but THIS is experiencing it! Sad.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Day of Trains

After we left the Open Air Museum we had some daylight time left so we drove over to see the place that Colin and Jeffrey have gone several times with their Boy Scout troop. Usually it is winter when they come, but Colin camped there this summer also and was eager to give us a tour.

Sunday we spent the day riding the Brienz Rothorn Bahn. It is Switzerland's last remaining steam cog-railway. The train took us from the level of the lake all the way up to the top of the Rothorn mountain, 7500 feet above sea level! Again we had wonderful weather and enjoyed the sunny skies and green grass and trees as we rode up the mountain, through tunnels and past cows. A few times the train conductor had to hop off the train and shoo cows off the tracks! When we got near the top we noticed that we were above the clouds. We walked around at the top of the mountain for awhile, taking lots of photos, looking at the snow capped mountains across the valley and watching the clouds roll in, surround us and then blow past. After some souvenoir shopping and a snack lunch we headed down the mountain (again by train of course...some people did hike but we did enough of that the day before!)

On our way back to our cottage we passed another steam train stopped at a station. There is a historic steam train that only runs a few times a year that happened to be going this weekend! We whipped into a parking place and ran over to get a few pictures of it before it pulled out of the station.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why have we waited so long to revisit Switzerland???

What a BEAUTIFUL country!!!!!!!!!! I think we must have had the best weekend to see it too....we had sunshine and not a bit of rain to worry about the entire time we were there. It wasn't until we drove out of the mountains on our way home that we hit the rain...but we were so happy to not have any during our trip that we didn't mind. We started out on Friday and stopped in Bern before we headed to where we were staying in Lauterbrunnen. We had visited Bern before when Jeffrey was around 2ish and I know we saw the bears and walked around but I barely remembered any of it, I guess I was too busy herding Jeffrey around to let it all sink in. WOW...Bern was so nice! It is built up on a bluff where the river curves around it and the buildings in the main part of town are quite tall so the streets are like valleys cut into it. The street level parts of the buildings are open arcades and they also have cellars below them in some places that are thrown open with cute little shops to go down in and explore. All along the street there are pretty fountains with figures on them....the buildings are all waving flags and have flowers in the windows and morning glories snaking up from the street level. The river is this amazing color of almost looks like that 'fake water' you see on water rides at theme parks ya know? That is because is it glacial runoff.

Of course we HAD to stop and see the famous Bern bears! We parked our Jeep right across from the bear pits so we visited them before and after we explored the town. They sure know how to look cute for the people! One kept rolling onto its back and holding its feet with its paws. They have food you can buy and toss down to them (I didn't notice this until we already tried to feed them some fruit we had brought along for US to snack on) Do you know those silly bears don't know that bananas are good!? They both turned their noses up at the bites we tossed to them but eagerly caught the bear chow stuff in the air when people threw it to them. Silly ole bears!

After we tore ourselves away from the bears we headed into the Alps on our way to our cottage apartment in Lauterbrunnen. It is a village near Interlaken which may or may not sound more familiar to you. The village is at the floor of the valley and there are sheer cliffs rising up on either side of it with waterfalls coming down all over the place. It said in the guidebook that there are 72 of them. We didn't count but it is possible. Here is a photo of the 'main' one that is right by the town. We hiked up to it one evening and get misted on. Can you see it just to the right of the red Swiss flag?

Here is another one...this one we took from right in front of our cottage door. What a view!! That yellow thing is a train that you must take if you want to visit the town that is up on the mountain. There are no cars there, so if you don't take the train you better have good hiking boots!

Saturday we spent most of the day at a fabulous open air museum in the town of Brienz on the edge of one of the lakes that Interlaken is in between. There were hundreds of houses and farm buildings brought in and reconstructed from all over the country that we could go inside and learn about how the people lived and adapted things to the unique challenges of the different terrains. There were also lots of farm animals around to look at and people baking bread, weaving on looms, making lace and lots of other cool exhibits. It was a very extensive place and they did very well with the landscaping and all so each section was distinct and seperate from the others. We stayed there until they started closing up the buildings and we still didn't get to go inside every one of them.

Here is one of the bigger homes that was there:

Here are a couple more pictures we took at the museum. I just couldn't get enough of that amazing valley view!

Of course I had to get some pictures of the animals too. Here is a wonderful Brown Swiss cow...complete with bell! They all wear them...not just museum cows hear the bells ringing when you go past the pastures. I worried that the constant clanging every time they moved their head would make them nuts and Bill said "Only you would be concerned about hearing damage in Swiss cows!" And look Mom....goats with bells! Yup...the goats and sheep get to wear little bells too. But not the pigs....heehee...I had to get a picture of this one for Dad...he had just been fed a big bucket of whey or something...they farmer said it was what came out of the cheese they made earlier. It looked icky but the pig sure was enjoying it!

Doesn't this big black cow look intimidating? Actually she was a sweetie! I got her to come up to the fence and eat some grass from my hand and then she started licking my hand for the longest time. I guess she liked the salt on it or something. Silly cow!