Tuesday, January 27, 2009

home at last

I arrived home Sunday night around 8:30. I was so exhausted from all the fun and lack of rest I couldn’t unpack my suitcase – just the bare necessities (toothbrush) and that was it. I hit the sack. Me and my mom had such a good time. I don’t think she and I laughed this hard in a loooong time. We got to the Jacksonville airport and checked out the ladies room. The sink was amazing. Well, actually, there was no sink. Just a flat slab of granite and a trough in the rear of the faucets. I had to photograph this bc I had never seen something like this, have you? It was quite pretty! My mom said she wished she had seen this before they remodeled their bathroom.

St. Augustine is an hour or so away from Jacksonville so there is quite the drive. Old Town St. Augustine is absolutely breathtaking. It’s the oldest city in America (established in the 1500s) – prior to Plymouth. It’s amazing, this place! The Old Town is extremely small but oh so bustling with people and tourists. The Mediterranean and Colombian architecture and influence is stunning and ancient. So much history that it’s difficult to take it all in. For lunch we ate at a restaurant called The Colombia ~ real Spanish food. The blue crab cakes were delicious! Here are some pictures of our route to the Beacher’s Lodge where the real partying began.

Oh yeah…we visited the Vera Bradley store before leaving Old Town. OMG!!! It was so cool! I bought a bag called the Gabby with a Night Owl print. They have way more than just bags. I also bought Lip Balm!

Outside the doors of the Vera Bradley store was their "Garden of Hope." These photos don't do this garden any justice. It was lovely to see the pink ribbons with victims' names attached. My MIL died in 2006 from breast cancer so this was nice to see.

Here are some photos of St. Augustine.

Repairs being made on very old bridges.

The architecture is so fascinating. It reminded me of New Orleans; only cleaner and older. Cuter too!

Not a very good photograph, but that is the St. Augustine Lighthouse between the pole and treeline - the oldest standing lighthouse in America I think. We didn't go in it this visit. I walked all the way to the top when I was pregnant with Cameron. It was wonderful to see the view and the history of the lighthouse was amazing. When I returned home I saw an episode of Ghost Hunters on the SciFi channel and found out it was haunted. Spooky!

We got to our room and here was our view from the balcony. Breathtaking!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh….is all I can say about this.

Friday night was the welcoming party, which is exciting. The theme is always pirate so some ladies are dressed for success and the room is decked out in pirate booty and decor. Susan Greening Davis arrived with her favorite “maties”; Bailey and Abby. Two very sweet teacup Yorkshire Terriers. They were pretty popular and who couldn’t resist them. I found myself rocking with one of them – I guess mama missed Cameron. :o(

The room was packed this year – totally SOLD OUT. They divided us up among our tables and assigned captains of the tables. We played pirate bingo where you win prizes or in this case booty. We learned what our weekend project was going to be and we received the first part and started working. After meet and greets, snacks, and overview of our first package we were set and moved onto our rooms. Me and mom watched a movie and I totally passed out. I was spent.

This was my table. My mom is on the right in black and beige.

Saturday we were up-an-Adam so we headed to breakfast in the stitching room, which was named “the galley.” Appropriate, ugh? Susan is so great and explains things so well. I learned a new stitch, which technically wasn’t a stitch. It’s called the H-hem stitch that Susan created herself over her past trips to Italy. Basically, I learned to cut threads for the first time. I was intimidated, but once I understood I took off with it. Here’s what that looks like. Really pretty!

(sorry for the shadow)

We got a break for lunch and then went back to class for more lessons, games and booty-buying. I really like how the buying part is set up. Each person is given a bag with their name on it. Anything you want to buy is dropped in the bag. When the evening is over, leave the bag on your assigned seat and someone comes and collects. They take inventory of what you’ve picked and it is replaced in your bag in a white bag. You do this every time you want to buy something. On Sunday, once the weekend is over you pay up. It’s really pretty cool. I enjoy this method. I did pretty well. I had to budget this year and only went $20.00 over ~ I’m pretty proud of myself! LOL Here’s a photo of my stuff.

I thought going over my budget by only $20 was great. Besides, look what you're up against. Tempting, I know!!! (see below)

And there was another side of the room I did not photograph. It just never ended.

Saturday evening we had a seafood dinner with our friends from Tennessee, Sally and Susan, and it was gooood! Before going to dinner, though, me and mom walked on the beach and watched the seagulls and the water. There was so much activity on the beach this afternoon and warm too. It was in the mid 70’s and for Florida that is really nice. We played in the sand, people and bird watched, and THEN we got hit by a small wave and the bottom of my jeans got wet. Yep, it happened. I even rolled those bad boys up and I still got wet. I was only standing in about 1-2 inches of water and all of a sudden I was in 2 feet of water. Oh well, I didn’t care…I was at the beach! :o) But I had a small dilemma. We were going to have dinner with friends and these were the only pants I had to wear at the time. YIKES!!! So we laughed it off and mom found a dryer so I was set. After dinner we returned to class at 7:00 and had lots more fun. A lot of moseying around looking at stuff to buy was to be had. After that lesson was over we returned to our room for 2 movies and a lot of stitching. Me and mom laughed and talked to my aunt on the phone. We had lots to talk about. I stayed up way too late too: 3:00 a.m. I was dragging Sunday.

Here was the beach that afternoon with mom.

Isn't he cute? I couldn't believe how close he let me get.

We don't know who this guy was, but he was brave. He was holding potato chips in the air and the birds were swooping down and grabbing them from his hand. It was amazing to watch. They even got close to me and mom (see our shadows :o).

Our project consists of a navy blue Longaberger basket that I believe is discontinued and since we’re in St. Augustine why not have a project with the city in mind. Inside the basket is to be a pirate ship (you can flip it over and use as a beading station or needle keeper). We are to stitch a scissor chatelaine with the St. Augustine light house and beads topping the edge, which I actually finished the beading while in Florida :o) Yay for me! The third portion is the pouch that holds ALL your stitching essentials. It has a special verse that Susan created herself, along with a compass we stitch. I can’t wait to finish this bc it's useful and it'll look cute to hang in the craft room. I’ve started on everything already and stitched on the plane so I got more done. We twisted our own cord while in Florida. Now that was a site to see. Some ladies were outside with their perle cotton totally undone and the rest were in the room. We looked like one big cob web. People thought we were all nuts!

Susan is a wonderful person – very genuine and such a delight to be around. She really and truly cares about the form of needleart. I see her as a preserver and artist of around-the-world needleart that Americans have forgotten or have never met. She brings a lot of history into her work and I so appreciate that being that I adore primitive pieces. Susan doesn’t design primitive, but her techniques are and I simply respect her for that. She is one of a kind and I think she’s beautiful. She’s a master in my book. She’s coming to Nashville in May and I’m so hoping I can attend that class. The May class is a big Whitman’s candy tin with a project insert. My mom has taken this class in the past and loved it. She may come again and hopefully finish up her piece from before. :o)

Sunday was our farewell day. It was all over at noon and at times I’m ready for it to end (so I can get back to my kids) and part of me wants it to never end bc it’s so much fun. We had lunch with two of our friends, Sally and Susan from Nashville, and afterwards Mom and I had hours to kill before we needed to be in Jacksonville for our flight. We decided to drive down the road a bit and visit a dolphin sanctuary. We hoped that we could make it in time to feed and kiss the dolphins, but we were late by 15 minutes. Darn! We were disappointed but we were still able to get up close, or at least close enough to not get wet ~ we had no way of getting dry if Flipper decided to drench us with water. LOL

The pathway to see the dolphins. So gorgeous!!!

After the dolphin exhibit we headed for Old Town St. Augustine to pick up our Vera Bradley bags that we had monogrammed, which was free. WooHoo! They turned out so nice!

I took some more photos before getting to the airport which I'll spare you since you've seen enough of. We returned to Nashville around 8:00 p.m. Here’s the awful part though. We left Jacksonville and it was in the 70’s. We return home to Nashville and it was 32. Now that is a tear-jerker! A rude awakening I guess one could say!

I've got some stitching updates to share, but I'll save those for another post, another day. I'm glad I made it back safe and sound to my family and to you. Thanks for stopping by and reading this very very long post!


Becky K in OK said...

Well, girl, looks like you had just too much fun. So glad you had a great time with your mom.

Melissa said...

It sounds like you had an amazing time. I keep thinking that I'd like to go on a retreat like that, and I never do. St. Augustine looks really beautiful.

mainely stitching said...

What a wonderful post! You obviously had such a great time. Hooray! :D And St. Augustine is as beautiful as I remember. :)

Vonna said...

WOW..what fun! Love your VB bags..and monogrammed too...SWEET!
I love the Colombia, they have a wonderful brunch buffet on the weekends...or they used to, anyway. I have a photo of my Katie 16 months old playing in the red fountain outside the colombia (she's now 11 y.o.) Did you go to the Spanish Bakery in Old Town...LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their Lemon Cookies! Brought back good memories...we have gone every year from the time I was 11 until I had the twins in 1999 to St. Augustine, it's been 9 years since I've been there...and I miss it!