Road Trip Part 4 – Take Me Out To The Ballgame

We’re in the St Louis area visiting Bobby’s family. However we are taking time for just us as we love our alone time too.

We were able to take in a St Louis Cardinal game this week. The Cardinals have been Bobby’s team ever since he was a very small child. He still remembers his sister (Rita, she’s 11 years older than Bobby) taking him to his very first St Louis Cardinal game for his 5th birthday. And he’s been an enthusiastic fan ever since.

The beautiful new Busch Stadium

We enjoyed the diamond box seats that were just 11 rows up from third base.

View of the arch from where we were sitting

Fredbird tossing baseballs to the earlybirds

It was a full house Tuesday night

Welcome To Baseball Heaven – Home of the 10 time World Champions

He’s so passionate about selling those slushy drinks

They got caught on the “Kiss Cam” – And I captured her embarrassment

Albert Pujols plays first base – He’s our man!

Pujols putting all he’s got into the hit

Big Mac Land – In honor of Mark McGwire

It was such a fun night and the weather was perfect with a little cool streak at the end. We had brats, peanuts and crackerjacks as we can’t go to a game without those things. But our team didn’t score nary a point – yup, it was 12 Milwaukee Brewers to zip for the Cards. We didn’t let the score board dampen our spirits as we had a total blast cheering at the ole ball game.

Road Trip Part 3 – Worlds Greatest Pizza Discovered

For the past 11 years I’ve heard Bobby rant and rave about Chicago style stuffed pizza. It’s been 15 years since he’s had that yummy explosion of goodness in his mouth and the craving for that has never gone away. So on our drive through Urbana-Champaign, IL; he took me to one of his all time favorite pizza joints called Papa Del’s. Oh my word was it ever worth the 45 min. wait.

This is what our pizza looked like before we laid into it

A peak on the inside

It was not your regular deep dish pizza with a thick crust. The crust was the regular thickness, but shaped into a very deep pan much like how a pie crust goes into a pie pan. They place the toppings on the very bottom – for us it was mushrooms, onions and peppers. Then the nice thick layer of cheese, the pepperoni is added on top of the cheese and the sauce covers the top. Then the pizza is sprinkled with special seasonings and then one lone pepperoni was placed in the very center as the little topper.

I can officially report that I have now eaten the world’s greatest pizza. And it’s all Bobby’s fault that I crave that pizza! Hmmmm, if we could only work that 3 hour drive into our trip for another round as it doesn’t get any better than that.

The Winner Of Gallery Days Giveaway

I am pleased to announce the winner of my second drawing giveaway! The winner is – Dreams And Beyond and this is the photo I selected.

I would like to extend a great big THANK YOU to all of you who participated. This was a tough decision and took me a while to finally decide.

Congratulations, Dreams And Beyond! There are a few things I need from you in order for me to get started. I need:

• You to send me your address
• I would like in writing your permission to draw this amazing photo and attach that photo in your e-mail for me please.
• After that, you may sit back, relax and wait for your drawing to arrive.

P.S. – I thought I was going to have some free time on our vacation to draw but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. And I’m lucky to get in a post in now and then. Not to worry, I’ll have plenty of time when we get back home and I still believe I’ll have this done by the deadline.

Road Trip Part 2 – Visit To Bobby’s Alma Mater

Founded in 1867

Bobby has always told me that one day he would take me there. We left Kristy back in Michigan to start school and drove down the road to Urbana-Champaign, IL to Bobby’s Alma Mater yesterday. Bobby gave me a tour and I felt in awe as he took my hand and led me through what used to be the place he studied. We strolled the walkways, sat underneath a huge shade tree and watched thousands and thousands of students on a high as they prepared for another school year.

I can’t begin to explain the height of joy and wonder I felt so I’m just going to share a few statistics and what pictures I do have.

Here are a few stats of the campus –

  • 559 Total buildings on 7.7 square miles (4,938 acres)
  • 28,000 undergraduate students this year
  • 9,000 graduate and professional students this year
  • 4,000 courses and more than 150 fields of study
  • 2008 – US News and World Report rated it the # 8 public university.
  • College of engineering is ranked 5th

Alma Mater

The Alma Mater has represented their motto of Learning and Labor since its unveiling in 1929. The figures clasping hands in the background represent learning and labor, and the Alma Mater in the foreground opens her arms and welcomes students with the inscription ‘To thy happy children of the future those of the past send greetings.’

Illini Union

The Illini Union was constructed 1939 – It has many purposes as it includes a 90 room guest hotel (Bobby says we’re going to have to stay there one day), food court, bowling alley, arcade room, pool hall, computer lab, and numerous study lounges. It is a place where students meet and relax, and it brought back so many fond memories for Bobby. He took me on a grand tour of that building, the inside halls were grand and I stood in awe of the massive columns stretching to the high ceiling. Each room was a showcase all of its own and I felt like I was standing on hallowed ground. I was filled to overflowing with amazement, perhaps that’s why I didn’t interrupt the moment to take pictures inside.

Back of Illini Union

Altgeld Hall

Altgeld Hall – Started construction in 1896 and was completed in 1897. It was originally the library and later turned into the Mathematics Building. Bobby took all his math courses here. Altgeld Hall is in the national register of Historic places.

Side View of Altgeld Hall

The University Chime was installed in the Altgeld Tower in 1920.

The Quad

The Quad is the heart of the campus where students relax, study, play Frisbee or hang out. Yesterday was a huge day of activities for the students in the Quad.

The Ceramics Hall

Assembly Hall

Memorial Stadium


Methodist Church

The sun was setting and we both continued to comment on what a delightful day we shared together.

The sun was tucked away for the day and this beautiful trail of light outlined this bridge over the river in Missouri.

And this last picture of the night sky as we approached our destination last evening.

Road Trip Part 1

We started our little road trip yesterday morning. We drove about 4 hours up the road and stopped on the American side of the Niagara Falls. We wished we had gone to the Canadian side as we were driving through Canada to go up over to Michigan anyway. But the US side is where we landed and we enjoyed the beautiful sights.

The flowers and gardens were so pretty

Flowers flanking the light posts

A cascade of pretty flowers

View to the left of the falls – Churning Water

View to the right looking into Canada

The falls

Two peas in a pod

Maid Of The Mist giving customers a tour of the falls

Crossing the bridge into Canada


Crossing the bridge to the US into Michigan

Lake Huron

We made it to Michigan

The sunset

And another shot of the sunset last evening.

We made our way to Ruby Tuesdays where Bobby’s daughter Kristy works. She was working last night but that didn’t put a damper on us spending time with her. We requested to be seated in her area so that we could at least visit with her during our meal. She must have told the whole staff that her parents were there as the staff kept showing up to our table as they all wanted to meet Kristy’s parents. We had such a fun relaxing time and we felt extra special as we were really catered to.

Then when we got to our room… Unbeknownst to me this is what awaited us right in the corner of our room! I love it when Bobby surprises me.

I planned to blog last evening but this thing had my attention and with that, Bobby started the water and we both enjoyed relaxing in that thing for the remains of the evening.

We have had a very busy day with Kristy and that post is for another day as we’re getting ready to start up the hot tub again this evening…

Gallery Days Giveaway

Welcome to the second Gallery Days Giveaway! You’re the photographer and I’m the artist giving back. I like the ring of this title for my giveaways because it reminds me of going from one gallery to the next. So lets kick off this next week with some fun at the gallery! I’m ready, are you?

Things to keep in mind when you post your photos –

  • Please post your photos in a single post so that I can link to it. Post as many photos as you like but they need to be in one post.
  • All photos must be taken by you so that you can allow me the rights to draw if your photo is selected.
  • You have through Monday, August 25th to have your photos posted
  • When you’re finished posting, please send me the link to your post so that I can link you up and everyone can visit.
  • I will add the links as they come in to the bottom of this post.
  • I will announce the winner of the 9″ x 12″ colored drawing by Wednesday, August 27th.
  • The drawing will be in the mail to the winner by September 19th.

Thanks for posting and I wish you all the best!

Visual Expressions

Snap Shots From The Back Porch

Dreams And Beyond


The Challenge Is On

The tulip is moving right along. However I can say I’ve had my fair share of challenges. The green hazy stuff in the background has puzzled me from the beginning and it seems to be right there in the front trying to upstage that tulip.

I sought out some help from my online artist buddies and was given some pretty cool advice. So we’ll just have to sit back and wait for that green hazy stuff to be put in its place, back further in the distance where it belongs. I’ve got my work cut out and I’m so ready for the challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I feel challenges are stimulating and worth the fight. There were days when I felt that haze was not doing what I wanted it to do. I wasn’t getting the cooperation out of it that I wanted. And the more I continued to do what I thought needed done, the more it was in the lime light.

I was a bit discouraged yesterday when I had done all I knew to do when my buddy pulled through for me. She gave me such a clear visual and the light bulb finally went off inside my head. I woke with fresh eyes, and a wonderful ray of hope knowing that it can be done. This may take a little longer than I expected but it will be worth the wait!

Gallery Days and Giveaway is still on for this weekend so be sure to come back as I want to give another drawing away!

These turkeys were my brief guests this morning.

I thoroughly enjoyed the little visit I had with them.

Feel free to come back anytime!

A Special Family

I’ve been enjoying the cooler weather with the windows open when I heard a deer cry this afternoon. I looked up there she was looking at me just about 15 feet away.

I went back to drawing and forgot about it until I heard her cry again. Well her cry went straight to my heart and I cut up a bunch of apple and tossed them out the door. I think she must have been looking for her baby as they didn’t come back ‘til this evening. It was so nice to see the family linger a while longer as it took a while for them to finish the apples. I never tire of seeing this special family.

Last Few Adjustments Being Made

I’m still doing a little modification work today. So far I’ve changed the right side of the tulip as it needed to be adjusted and lightened. I’m still working on the hazy green stuff blending and whatnot. I will be finished soon, perhaps today!

I still need the weekend to make any minor adjustments that I see and I also need to spray it with fixative to protect the colors.

P.S. Unfortunately I don’t have the nice sunlight for this picture. The tulip looks a lot different and more vibrant in real life. Hopefully when I’m all finished I can get a better picture of it.

She’s Almost On Her Own

This tulip is almost standing alone. She is taking shape but I still have quite a bit of tweaking to do before I can call her finished. I will need a couple more days and I’m hoping to have this little thing all packaged and off to Canada by the first of the week!

So here’s the plan. I would like to keep myself busy in our free time while we’re on vacation as we leave next Friday the 22nd.

So be prepared this weekend for Gallery Days and Giveaways! I’ll be posting Saturday or Sunday with the directions and you too could be the next winner of a free piece of art. Sound good? Well keep those cameras rolling; you still have lots of time to prepare!

A Day With The Tulip

Yet another WIP and it seems to be moving right along with layers and layers and more layers of color. There were a few more strokes added to the pretty flower last evening.

I think I’ll be able to wrap up on the green leafy stuff today and start on the tulip! Stay tuned for more, the next giveaway is coming soon!

WIP # 3

Moving right along and I have just a little more progress to show for those who wanted to see the work in progress. I’ll be working on the leaves and the green part at the bottom today and it appears as though I’m saving the best for last. I’m looking so forward to swirling around on that pretty tulip! This pic was taken in much better lighting this morning and I’ve also attached a small version of the original picture I’m using.

We had such a relaxing weekend and I was able to play with my pencils next to hubby while we enjoyed NASCAR and the Olympics.

I’ll be announcing another giveaway in the next week or so, so be prepared for the next Gallery Days and Giveaways!

WIP # 2

By popular demand, I’m following through with another work in progress. I’ve been focusing most of my time on the lower left. I attached a pic of the original pic I’m working with. We got a long way to go yet but it’s starting to take a little shape.

I promised to mail by the 27th as I thought we were leaving on our vacation the 28th. I just learned this last week that Bobby’s planning to leave the 22nd. I’m under the gun as I want to keep to my word and have this delivered on time. And if I have to, I’ll work on it during the evenings on vacation. I plan on taking my pencils anyway to keep me busy during my free time and to make every effort to have this finished on time.

Favorite Purchase This Week

Swarovski – we had to learn how to pronounce it way back when, because we love it so much. It’s pronounced just like swore – off – ski. We’ve collected the Swarovski star ornaments since we’ve been together which includes the year we started dating in 1997. We totally missed getting our ornament last year due to being in the midst of our move and still living in a hotel.

We were having a nice visit this evening when my thoughts drifted and I exclaimed “honey! We never got our ornament last year”! So Bobby said “get it, you should be able to find a new one with the papers on e-bay”. I was quite pleased as I found a Buy It Now for $40.00 including shipping. These ornaments went for $70.00 in the store last year so we were pleased with the deal.

These ornaments continue to appreciate through the years. I just checked e-bay and our 1997 ornament is going for over $150 and the 1999 ornament is going for over $200. So you can see why I was so urgent to get our ornament sooner rather than later.

And now all is well and we will continue living happily ever after now that our favorite Christmas ornament collection is up to date.