Monday, August 19, 2013

A Weekend in the Lake District

I clearly need to get a move on with my posts on my recent trip abroad now that it's 2 and half months later. If I don't crank these posts out soon, I'm afraid the memories will never make it out of head.
I've decided to post a few of my mass e-mails, just to save time...they have better details anyways.
February 22, 2013
On Friday we took a house fieldtrip to Glasgow, Scotland which I liken to Milwaukee. Could be nice, but you wouldn't wanna stay there too long. There's something about it that seems really industrial and depressing. We toured a football stadium which made me bored out of my gourd until the tour guide directed us to Rod Stewart's lifetime seat and my ears perked up. Then he showed us where Gerard Butler sits when he's in town and I was like, "I'm listening." Then it got boring again. Real boring.
After that we went to a transportation museum which was rather like the Depot in Duluth. I singed my tongue at the cafe after I ordered hotwater for my instant coffee that I brought along. (I like to roll on the cheap sides of things. You all don't call me Larry David for nothing.) "Finally a solution to waiting...ONE MINUTE." Have I told you I found these little tubes of instant coffee that have sugar, coffee, and creamer all in one? "You're gonna hate it." It's really quite atrocious, but it keeps me awake and it's like 25 pence a pack so I deal with it. "Stir and drink. stir and drink."
Following the Transportation museum we went to a real art museum (the Kelvingrove??) and I immediately ditched everyone and attempted to take a picture of as many paintings as possible before we had to get back on the bus. The museum was nice because it had an exhibit on the Glasgow boys. I recognized a painting with the little Scottish girl guiding the ducks because it hangs in my parent's house. It's by James Guthrie and it was apparently really obscene at the time because it features a goose's bum and not the entire body...just the bum. hahaha My parents would have something vulgar like that!
So, after the museum I opted to travel to the Lake District by myself and missed out on the drama of getting my phone stolen in a hostel over the weekend like several of my classmates who stayed in Glasgow experienced. Instead, I got on a train and travelled two hours to Cumbria, England.  
Ross Geller Rides A Train (Preview)

That video will summarize exactly how my trainride was. Trouble with counting. So when the train is approaching my stop, I was out of my seat with my luggage in my hands and standing by the door before the train came to a stop. The only problem was that I was the only one in my compartment who was getting off at that stop. So I press the button to open the door and nothing happens. Have I told you how the trains are really hightec? Everything is automatic and sensor driven. It's like being in Star Wars. Anyways. I kept on pressing the button. Then I thought I'd press the button on the other side cause there's always two doors and when it's dark, you can't tell what side the platform is on. I'm pressing. Still pressing...and the train starts pulling away. So long Oxenholme. I didn't know what to do. There's never anyone important around. You can't tell the robot to stop the train...they wouldn't if you could. It was only a minute stop and then it pulls away from that platform. So, I felt like, "I'm GOING TO YEMEN." Then I asked a woman what I should do in my unfortunate situation and she didn't understand me, but then told me to go to the train manager. In order to get to the train manager you have to go through multiple compartments and try to avoid the centrifugal force of the moving train that makes you fall on to someone. Imagine being tranquillized and trying to walk. That's how it feels. ("I love how people who have never done crack say 'It's like crack", why don't you say, "It's like scrapbooking.") Long story short, I found the train manager and he issued me a ticket to get off at the next stop and catch the train going in the opposite direction back to my stop. I was very fortunate that such a train existed. This isn't always the case. I also only had to wait 10 minutes or so. 'No bad' at all. Then from there I had to get another train to Windermere and from Windermere I was under the impression that I would be able to take a bus to my hotel in Grasmere, but this was not the case. When it looked like I would be spending the night in the empty grocery store car park, the automatic doors of the grocery store opened pouring light into my situation. I immediately went inside and asked for a cab number.
Mossimo, the Cabbie
Before I could call a taxi, a cab pulled up right infront of me. The man helped me put my luggage in the trunk and we set off to my hotel. I'm really glad this worked out because as it turns out, I would have had to walk quite a distance in the dark had the bus dropped me off. This was how it was supposed to be. My cabbie was from Hungary. He thought I was from Australia. (cue laugh track). REALLY?!?!?! Turns out he liked to cook and was going to participate in an auction the next day. He was very friendly as most serial killers are...jk jk...As we approached Grasmere, I could tell that we were in mountain country. The roads were very winding and outlined with jagged stone fences.
Through the haunting trees, I could see the outline of a beastly structure with golden slivers. This was my hotel. We snaked through a long driveway and were at the front door. It was impressive even for someone who has been living in a palace for a month (Can you believe one month down?!?!!?)

Inside the front door, there was a fire going on the hearth. Ever so a skewed beside the fire was winged back chair that had to have belonged to Lord Fairfax Rochester. I was given a skelton key for my room and led up the dark staircase to my bed. Have ya seen JANE EYRE?!?! The woman that led me to my room should have been a Wallace and Gromit character. Then she showed me a tour of the dining hall and lounge areas. She invited me to watch the Badgers. Immediately I thought that was weird that they'd care about Wisconsin football over here...then she changed the subject.
The next morning, I opted to wear a dress to breakfast which I was glad I did because I was surrounded by couples on holidays and everyone was dressed nicely. After a good hearty breakfast of fresh coffee, four pieces of white toast and blackberry jam, yoghurt, eggs, sausage, tomatoes, baked beans, and hashbrowns, I was ready to take on the Lake District.
The Wordsworth's Dove Cottage Sans Daffodils and the bus ride to Beatrix Potter's Hill Top
First stop: William Wordsworth's Dove Cottage. It was just down the street from my hotel and I felt as if I had travelled back to the 1700's as everything is still preserved. In the gift shop, the cute clerk gave me instructions on how to begin the tour. He told me to go to the second gate on my left and rap on the door. I loved the "rap on the door" bit and even told him that... It reminded me of Fassbender on Inglorious...He said that is just a bit of his home in Yorkshire surfacing...and I immediately followed with some moronic statement about America. "WHY TRACY?!?!?! WHY?!??!"
I purchased a magnet of a painting of a dog that Sir Walter Scott had given William Wordsworth. During the tour they say what a terrible painting it was...and this discouraged me because I thought it was a lot better than my dog paintings. Ugh. The tour was cute and in the gardens, which are usually overwhelmed with daffodils, I found 20 pounds....NO, I REALLY FOUND a 20 Pound the grass. I asked the people on the tour if it was there's, then they suggested that I bring it back to the gift shop (another opportunity to meet Mr. Yorkshire;) Very nice...Okay, so I brought it back and ended up buying $40 worth of Beatrix Potter books just in case I wasn't able to buy them at her location (dumb, of course I'd later learn that EVERY store in the Lake District sells Beatrix Potter books. C'est la vie.) After that, the guy told me how I could get to Rydal Mount. He described a scenic route for me...Scenic indeed.

So, in high heeled boots I set out on a legit hike. Every person I passed was in full out hiking gear, walking poles and all. The trees were astouding. And the view was gorgeous! I kept on thinking "Make haste with your letter, for who knows what lurks in these dark woods." Those scenes could have been shot there easily.


Still hiking!
I finally made it to Rydal Mount!

 The garden's at Grasmere. They are full of daffodils in the I've heard.
Here's a little painting I did later on. I used an excerpt from Dorothy Wordworth's Grasmere Journals.
(And, now this is from my version of the Grasmere journals)
February 22nd, 2013
It wouldn't take much to impress me after the ordeal I endured from Glasgow to my destination.  As the train arrived at my stop in Oxenholme, England, I pressed the "open" door button in a panic fit, but the train left that station and headed for Lancaster before I could get off at my stop. By the time I got it all sorted out, I was minutes away from making my connecting train to Windermere.  (The names of these villages are ALMOST as beautiful as their scenery.)  Lord willing I made the train, but when I arrived the buses were gone.  The stores were all closed and there was no taxi in sight.  My situation moved from unfavourable to dreadful. As I paced up and down the car park, God suddenly allowed for the sliding doors of the grocery store to glide open.  A gush of light spilled on my path.  I was mistaken for the grocery store was open after all.  I went inside to inquire about the buses. A woman told me that "The taxis will queue." and she gave me a number. Shortly after, Joe, the former chef-turned-cabbie was my navigator through the treacherous roads of Cumbria.  As we whipped about, I could see the sleeping giants in the shadows.

 A mysterious land I am in.  It reaks of history and storybook legends.  As we snaked through the village of Grasmere, I caught slivers of a mammoth stone house between the pines.  Atop a twisted drive, my hotel was perched: FOREST SIDE. I aim to explore tomorrow, but for tonight I am in my element. 
 Ah, the sweet bliss of privacy. I haven't had this for weeks. But back to where I started when I said, "It didn't take much to impress me" as the counter of this estate was being warmed by a fire straight out of Jane Eyre. Where was Rochester? "Jane...JANE!!!"  The rooms were beyond inviting & apparently there was some badger watching taking place in the study. There were all sorts of people gathered in the study to take part. I hope to meet some of them tomorrow. My room is so quaint and CLEAN! Just the way I like it! Rooms do not have to be huge.  It's so nice that I have a bathroom all to myself and a tall window that I can hardly wait to see what it frames. The train ride prior brought a great deal of nostalgia, but I knew it would while I am here.
The Badgers
By the time I made it back to the hotel, it was dark. I decided to go to the lounge and be, the fireplace and chairs were too enticing to pass. The owner of the hotel kept on going on and on about "The BADGERS...blah blah blah The Badgers..." Then she said to me, "You missed the badgers last night, don't miss them tonight." Okay, I'll stay and watch these ridiculous badgers. I sat in the nook of the bay window and drew the room like the Todd Cleary that I am. At 8, I mean 20:00, a young couple (think Lady Edith and a young Colin Firth) sat down by me and made small talk with the weird singular American. At nine, the woman went in the back yard and dumped a bunch of leftover food right outside our window. Then wouldn't you know, a black and white cat walked over to the mound of food and stuffed his face. Then he left and came back with two more cats. We watched the cats eat as the hostess was still going on about those darn badgers. Then when the fat cats were through...the black masked bandit was in sight. He was pretty...and it was exciting. I have video of it that I'm sure my dad will love. I don't know about the rest of you.


After Rydal Mount, I walked two miles into the town of Ambleside to try to find the bus that would take me to Beatrix Potter's Farm. I don't understand the bus time tables at this is really scary. I was able to be directed to a bus and the driver had the personality of Michael Fassbender. So kind. He even slowed down the bus at times so I could take a picture...I was the only one on the bus. I also had him as a bus driver later and he showed mercy on me by letting me ride the heated bus instead of having to sit in the cold for longer. I felt really blessed by his assistance. He brought me to a village called Hawkshead, from there I had to pick up a little bus that would bring me to Beatrix Potter's Farm. As I stepped onto this bus, "Octopus' Garden' played on the radio. This guy reminded me of the cook on 50 First Dates. The big Hawaian dude. We get to talking as I was the only one on this bus too and I told him I was from Lake Superior and he asked me if I've been to Duluth. HAHA YUP!! He's like, "Bob Dylan land!" SO we spent the whole ride talking about what timeless wordsmiths Bobby Dylan and Lennon and McCartney were. He played for me his favourite Dylan tracks and was talking about his best albums and how many times he's seen him in concert. I tried to keep up. Then we reached Hill Top Farm and he said he'd play the "Oh Mercy" album for me when he picked me up in an hour.
So, Rick Steves suggested that I skip Hill Top altogether and I'm outrageously glad I ignored his advice. I LOVED HILL TOP.
I wanna be like Beatrix Potter. That's that.
She had the most coziest cottage and had paintings of dogs and animals everywhere you look. She even had a dollhouse and a desk in ever room. She collected small boxes and miniatures. Sound familiar? On the window seats, they would have her books opened to specific pages so you could see that she would have had to sit in this spot to illustrate this scene in "The Tale of Two Bad Mice," etc. So wonderful! It wasn't a guided tour, but the gentleman at the door told me all sorts of little details that I was anxious to learn. Even the rhubbard plant in her garden is over 100 yrs old and would have been drawn in Peter Rabbit. I couldn't take pictures of the house, but you all would have loved it. Do me a favour. Watch "Miss Potter" for me. Renee  Zellweger and Ewan McGreggor. Please...
By 4, all the shops and exhibits had closed, so I had to make my way back to the hotel before the buses stopped running.  (The Dylan fan bus driver had "Oh Mercy" playing as he pulled up and greeted me with, "How's the girl from the North Country?"

(Oh, and this letter is from one of my favourite actresses who has proven herself to be an avid correspondent. This was the first of two letters that were on display in gift shops I visited. Just think of how many more must be out there!)


A New Sign for Ice Box Cards

Does this make you want to buy some Ice Box Cards? If it doesn't, I'm doing something wrong and someone should let me know what that is:)
To get your "cotton-pickin' mits" on some Ice Box Cards, you can visit the following retailers or shop online at
BK Nelson in Two Harbors
Bunkhouse in Iron River
Duluth Pack in Canal Park
Lotus On The Lake in Fitger's
Northern Lights in Ashland
Old Time Frames at the Village Mall
Pam's Hallmark at the Miller Hill Mall
Piragis in Ely
Serendipity of Duluth in Lakeside

"He does landscapes."

I made this for my Gram recently out of oil pastels. It's on a 4x6 card.

 It's modeled after a card she gave me that was originally painted by Monet. The original looks like this:
In other words, it's stunning and completely humbles me.
Then I found that someone named Megpi was inspired by Monet to transfer this same composition on to a cake. Looks delicious doesn't it! Well done, Megpi!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I was certain that this mural would have been painted over by now, but when our friends visited it they surprised me with this encouraging evidence! I just had to share it!

Invitations of the Wedding Kind

Here's a recent project that I recently dove into. I've never been asked to design wedding invitations and I may never be asked to design them again, but I do like how they turned out. Still, I see so many gorgeous designs on Etsy, that I feel I may have dropped the ball this time. It is also worth mentioning that I have a vested interest in this ceremony as this will mark the event when my little brother and his love, Pilar will take the plunge and say, "I do."

Photography by Anna Nesseth Photography
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