Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On to Venice

A very long drive took us from Vienna to Venice, Northern Italy. Along the way we passed farms, small communities & monasteries on the hillsides. Our journey took us through the Dolomite Mountains which are the foreground mountains of the Italian Alps. Indeed we were treated to a few glances of the snow covered Alps. The Dolomite Mountains are very popular with tourists for skiing and mountain climbing.

The next day was spent exploring the beautiful city of Venice. Venice is actually part of the mainland and a group of over 100 islands in the Venetian lagoon beside the Adriatic Sea. There are over 100 canals over which span some 400 bridges. In order to reach our destination of St. Mark's Square, having taken a ferry to the island, we had to walk across about 6 of those bridges. The last was called, "The Bridge of Sighs" because it is where the jail is located!

St. Mark's Square is the main square of Venice, named for the Cathedral which dominates it. St. Mark's Basilica is a gorgeous cathedral of multiple domes and portals--all made of marble. Although we did not go in, it is famous for its beautiful mosaics which we were able to see an example of from outside.

Another thing Venice is famous for is their talent for glass blowing. Boys start apprenticing at 10 years of age to master this craft. Murano glass is among the prettiest and most sought after in the world. We saw a glass blowing demo, and in like 5 minutes the blower showed how to make a simple vase.

We wandered through some of the well-marked alleyways to arrive at the famous Rialto Bridge which spans the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal is the main waterway of Venice.

It was very hot in Venice, and by now we were ready to take a Gondola ride. We were maneuvered in and out of small side canals, under bridges-the skill of the gondolier was amazing! How fortunate we were to be placed in the Gondola that carried the musician and the tenor! I can't tell you what a thrill it was as we went through canal after canal to hear his voice resound off the walls of the buildings! It gave me goose bumps! Other tourists came running to hear him when we stopped in an area. They had their videos running, and it is fun to think of how many films we were caught on!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!
Next: A quick visit to Burano!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Fun Night On The Town!

I promised a good story about our dinner in Vienna--here it is!

We went to a family-owned restaurant called Marchfelderhof which dates back to 1843. Back then it was the hunting lodge of one of Austria's rulers, named Franz-Joseph. Today, it is a wonderful restaurant experience. I hardly know where to begin...I suppose at our arrival.

Some of the restaurant staff met us outside, literally stopped traffic to roll out a red carpet for us to walk across the street and cut a red ribbon to enter.
Inside there was not a spare piece of wall or floor (including the rest rooms) that was not covered with either photos of famous people who had been there (Richard Gere, Pavarotti, Liz Taylor, Clark Gable, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford to name a few), historic memorabilia or kitsch.

The restaurant was divided into separate rooms with automatic doors. Our room was covered with musical instruments hanging on the walls & ceiling, lamp shades, you name it, it was probably there!

Dinner started with a little test tube of schnapps--I took a sip, but it was way too powerful for me! I stuck to the draft beer which was way stronger than the lite beer I occasionally drink at home. After the salad plate which was a meal in itself, I had a typical Austrian speciality, Wiener Scnitzel. The food was excellent, but it was what went on in the room that made our night.

To start with, there was a keyboard player and when he took a break, 3 roaming guitarists serenaded us, while of course selling their CDs!. At one point they brought in something with a sheet draped over it. Well, it turned out to be 2 ballroom attired dancers that proceeded to dance for us. When they were done, they sought out some of the diners to dance with them. They got our daughter up, and they gave her a nice certificate afterwards.

Me? I was just happy to have a photo of our waiter, whose name was....Elvis!

There were a lot of firsts in our family that night. Our daughter tasted her first sip of beer and went (I hope for the first time) into the men's room. The rest rooms were decorated so uniquely we just had to peak at each others!

Back outside after dinner, I could not resist a photo of this store (?) across the street. Check out the name! Too bad it was closed...

So a bit corny...but so memorable and a bit endearing, too!

Next: On to Italy!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It's Saturday Night Special Time!

I sell French beaded Flowers, Beaded Art Dolls, Beaded Pins and more!

From 5 p.m. to Midnight Hawaii time (6 a.m. EST time) enjoy the following special in my Etsy shop. Please put "SNS" in notes to seller and wait for an updated invoice before paying.

Tonight's special is Free Shipping-No limit on items!

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fun, Fun Fun!

I saw this blogged on stilettoheights and stephaniegibsonjewelry, although they both attribute it to someone else. Give it a try, it was so much fun!

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
One Spot MPV

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Vanilla Chocolate Chip

3. YOUR "FLY Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Blue Bear

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Jean White Plains

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The")
The Purple Tea

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Paul Joseph

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Nina Ricci Red Hot

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names)
Modesta Philip

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Creative challenge #68

Fast blog post today...late most of the day...have to leave in 15 minutes to pick up my daughter!

Anyway, this week's creative challenge was to be inspired by the word, "Flight".

I did an aceo this week. A silhouette of a sea gull against a patchy blue sky. It is the standard 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". I used artist grade acrylic paints on 140 lb. watercolor paper and applied a sealer for protection.

It is already in my etsy shop.

Sorry this is rushed!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ah! The Morning Glories are in Bloom!

Happy Tuesday!

Just a brief break from my vacation blogs to show off my latest creation. It is a set 4 of french beaded morning glories. Pretty shades of pink, light blue, light purple and peach with 3 bunches of leaves. All the beads are glass ceylon beads which look like they have a pearly finish. The flower stems are all curly and can be adjusted in any direction or height that is pleasing to you.

They will be available in my etsy shop soon. Hope you like them!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vienna-Tales of Palaces,Opera and a Stork!

Vienna is the Capital of Austria and a lovely city to visit. Our first stop was Schoenbrun Palace-the summer residence of the Hapsburgs, the ruling family of Austria. Shown above, it was her that Maria-Theresa (remember she was the only female ruler of Austria) birthed her 16 children, 14 of whom made it to adulthood. She was a smart, strong lady and as you will hear when I get to France, she made marriages for political reasons...also to gain power and cement relations with other countries. We toured the palace filled with beautiful oriental furniture and chests, silk fabric on the walls and lots of beautiful paintings. One in particular was fun as the man depicted appeared to follow you as you move through the room-Not only his eyes, but his foot points towards where ever you are!

The gardens outside were filled with multicolor flower arranged in geometric patterns. At the back of the gardens was a huge fountain with Neptune, and beyond that a mini arch of triumph.

Marie-Theresa also started the first zoo in Europe on this site and a zoo still exists there today. We did not have time to visit the zoo, but while we were walking around the gardens, a huge stork landed right near us! A lady who I assume was a trainer promptly took out some fish & hand fed it! That was cool!

Later on in the day we had a walking tour of the older part of Vienna. We saw the Vienna Opera House, and although we did not hear any opera, we were treated to a behind the scenes look behind the stage. They have an elaborate system for changing sets which involves rotating entire sections of the floor.

We also saw the main palace of the Hapsburgs which I think was called Wolfburg Palace. This one was a massive complex which included a small church where the Vienna Boys Choir practice & perform, and what was the carriage house and now houses the Spanish Riding School. This is where the Lipizzaner stallions, famous for their precision drills and high jumps, live.

Just a side note, while driving around we saw the Tour de France bicycle racers go by! They seemed to follow us from London to every country we went to--but this was the only place we happened to see them racing.

Our dinner/entertainment was so special I decided it deserves a post of its own...So stay tuned to hear how a restaurant that was the former hunting lodge of Austria ruler Franz-Joseph (1830-1916)rolled out the red carpet for us!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Etsy Saturday Night Special Blow-out Sale

Announcing my Saturday Night Special Sale on Etsy for tonight! Blog readers, please continue to read all the way through as I will have a special sale just for you!

I sell French beaded Flowers, Beaded Art Dolls, Beaded Pins and more!

From 5 p.m. to Midnight Hawaii time (6 a.m. EST time) enjoy the following special. Please put "SNS" in notes to seller and wait for an updated invoice before paying.

My next 2 sales (#39 & #40) will receive 40% the entire order (including shipping).

Subsequent sales will receive 25% off the entire order.

Free shipping #1 If you order is $25.00 or over before shipping amount OR
#2 If you purchase any of the three items featured in my shop!

For my blog readers only--

Sale #39 & #40 will receive 50% off; subsequent sales 30% off
Free shipping offers apply also!
PLEASE use code "Blog SNS" so I know you saw it here!

If you send me a Convo before 5:00 telling me what you would like to purchase, I will put it on reserve for you so no one else will beat you to it! You do this by going to my Etsy shop and on the lower right side, click "contact craftymoose"

Thanks and Happy Shopping!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Creative Challenge #67

The creative challenge this week was a color challenge. In other words, we were to use only certain colors to create anything we want, namely: steel, seafoam, cola, firecracker, cream soda and/or marine. I chose the first four to create this french beaded fantasy flower shown below.

I created it to be self-standing and not require a vase to display. Wouldn't this look nice on a bookshelf or desk-maybe even a teacher's desk? I truly think this would be wonderful on a window sill to catch the morning sun. I raided my vintage stash of cut beads to make this and oh how they sparkle even without the sunlight!
Hope you like my newest creation--it will be available in my Etsy shop later today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Austria via Liechtenstein!

En route to Austria, we stopped in the 6th smallest country in the world, Liechtenstein. It is only abut 62 square miles with a population of about 34,000. We visited the Capital, Vaduz, and as you would expect of anyplace nestled in the Alps...the panorama of views was spectacular! Sitting high up on a hill is the castle/museum of the reigning Prince. Not much else to say about this small principality except it was beautiful and fun to be in a place that most people have not even heard of!

Forging ahead, we made it to Innsbruck, Austria, the site of the 1976 Winter Olympics. We stopped to tour a beautiful church decorated in the Rococo style. Across the street, we could see the ski jumps still up from the Olympics! As you can see from the photo of the inside, the church is beautifully preserved and there is not one square inch that is not decorated with plaster & paintings!

Next, a visit to the town of Innsbruck, through which the Inn River flows--the only river in Europe that flows North! Typical of all Alpine towns, everywhere you look are beautiful snow covered mountains. We walked around the town, admiring the beautiful architecure of the buildings. We saw the summer palace of Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of Austria. She ruled in the late 1700s. Now we are beginning to learn a lot of history of Europe.

The evening's entertainment was a Tyrolean Music show complete with lederhosen clad dancers slapping themselves and each other! Yodeling, singing, and dancing and a wonderful finale where the singers managed to sing in multiple languages and include every nationality that was present! There was one song I must mention--it was a lady singing a song about a cow. Well, funny enough, yes, but rolling-on-the-floor hilarious when she starts mooing during the song! Of course, after a few drinks, on the bus on the way home, we all practiced our mooing skills!

Next: Hear of Mozart & The Sound of Music!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Creative Challenge #66

So this week's Creative Challenge was to create something inspired by a dance or dancer. A struggle for me because I have two left feet. It took me until Wednesday night to come up with an idea. The result is above and will be available in my Etsy shop shortly.

Now I know you are wondering how a lion fits this particular challenge. Well, here's how my thinking went....

I like to watch Ballroom dancing, especially competitions, and yes, I do watch Dancing With The Stars although I usually tape it so I can fast forward through all the idiot stuff!

So, I put on the soundtrack to "Shall We Dance" for inspiration. No, not the Yul Brenner movie version (that comes later)--the music from the Richard Gere, Jay-Lo movie with The Pussycat Dolls singing "Sway". Knocks me over every time!

Then the instrumental of the song "Shall We Dance" comes on which does remind me of another favorite movie, "The King and I"--the original with Yul Brenner and Deborah Kerr. I can still visualize Yul in that movie during that song stomping around.

So, by now you're probably thinking I made another leap to The Lion King, right? Wrong! I just started thinking...king, regal, royal, what can I do with that? And my mind took me to the king of the jungle and hence the above brooch.

The lion head is made of polymer clay with glass faceted lentil eyes and a glass heart nose/mouth. I punched holes all the way around and after baking went wild with the main! Hope you like it!

And thanks for reading all the way through my rambles!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A View From The Top Of The World!

We spent another day in Lucerne, Switzerland, visiting beautiful Mt. Pilatus. The mountain is mainly a summer vacation/hiking destination. We road a cog-wheel railway up to the summit-7000 feet above sea level. This is the world's steepest cog railway--at times we were going almost straight up! The trip up took about 45 minutes. It was about 37 degrees F at the top/3 degrees C! So at 10:30 am we were eating swiss barley soup, hot cocoa & expresso!

After we arrived at the top, we braved the cold walk up rugged stairs to see all the beautiful views. You could 6 or so peaks, mountains, small villages down below. It was breath-taking and I truly felt like I was on top of the world!

Back on the main level we were treated to a "concert" by costumed Alphorn blowers. What's an Alphorn? Glad you asked...It's that horn you see on the Ricola commercials! It was amazing the range of tone you can get out of a long wooden horn just by changing your breath!

Our trip back down was by aerial cable cars. We started out in a big car that held 25 people--looked like a ski tram, and then transferred into four person cars. About halfway down we saw a herd of long horn cattle all wearing bells! It really was a cute site!

Later on, we had some time to browse around Lucerne. There was a beautiful wooden walking bridge that took you from one side of the river to the other. Along the whole way were windowboxes filled with flowers-beautiful reds and purples!

Next: our visit to one of the smallest countries in the world!