Sometimes the best 'vacations' are those that are done spur of the moment.
When I went outside to take the trash to the curb for pickup early Wednesday morning, I could already tell that the day was going to be beautiful. The sun was shining and the early morning mist was beginning to lift and after the long, cold winter it was a day when I just wanted to be outside. The time was now.
Keith and I had spoken of taking a short driving trip. He had got his Miata out of storage a few weeks ago and even though the weather was not cooperating much these past few weeks, we wanted more than ever to take a couple of days and just 'go'. We had come off an uncharacteristically good month with April (I say that because typically March and April are our slowest months on the site and this year they were among our all time best!) and all of our deadlines were met for the moment. Everything was pointing in the direction of us heading out and taking a breath and enjoying the beautiful province in which we live. And we did just that.
We tossed some stuff together and left a note for our neighbor Lee to feed the kitties and we hit the road. It is a good thing that we know how to travel light, because the car doesn't have a back seat and has a very small trunk. But since we only planned to be away for one evening, everything fit in one bag and there was still room to shop a little. It was all good.
As we got on the road, I noticed that even though we were into the month of May, the trees and bushes were only beginning to bud. While the grass was no longer brown, the trees still were mostly stick-like and you would only see a hint of life in them. But it was still coming. The ocean was beautiful and we decided to take as many back roads as possible on our way to the Halifax/Dartmouth area where we planned to spend the night. Although we didn't think it would be warm enough to ride with the top down on the car, the sun shone all day and the warmth it brought made it very comfortable to do so. It was a much needed and much enjoyed break and we took in the smells and the sites of our beautiful province with enthusiasm. Our first road trip of the year was a great success.
We stopped in Dartmouth to pick up some dishes that I had ordered in January that were waiting for me. I had purchased a set last fall and I liked them so much I called to order another. The shipping on them was so high that the store offered to hold them for me until the spring when I would be able to pick them up in person. I was thrilled that they were willing to do so and it seemed like as good excuse as any to head to the city. When we loaded them into the car, they filled up much of the trunk and little space remained. But we didn't plan on buying much anyway, and there was still room for a couple of additional purchases.
We had a fabulous dinner at our favorite bar-b-que place in Dartmouth Crossing. It is called Woody's and they have a wonderful sampler dinner that is out of this world. Our only complaint is that there is simply too much food and while the dinner we pick is supposed to "serve 2", it would easily satisfy three or even four hungry people. My favorite side dish there is the okra and tomato dish, which is wonderful and spicy. The meats are all wonderfully smoky and there is a choice of four different sauces that they bring to your table so you can try one or all of them. But much of the meat tastes so good that we didn't put any on it at all. And the corn bread was to die for!
After our 'feast' we went to our favorite hotel in the area. We were fortunate that they had a room, as there were conventions going on and they said they were down to only four rooms left. We like that hotel (it is a Ramada Inn) because included in the rate is a fabulous breakfast. The hotel is beautiful as well and it is nice to feel so spoiled and pampered for the night.
The next morning we went back to shopping in the area. We visited a couple of our favorite wood places (just to look!) and fortunately we didn't see anything out of the ordinary that we had to have. But it was good to check out another supplier because they do deliver to our area once a week and it helps to see the stock so we could order it on the phone at a later date.
We stopped in Michael's as well and once again I was completely astounded at the high prices they charged. I saw the 8oz Chalky Finish Paint there and they were selling for somewhere around $15 each! (YIKES!!!!) That to me was really high. But the display was half empty so I wonder if people really PAY that much for them? It was crazy!
You can get them here in Canada through Stockade for $8.95 for the 8 oz size plus shipping or in the USA at Viking Woodcrafts for $3.37 for the 4 oz size plus shipping. They are starting now to be available more widely than at Home Depot in the states, as their exclusive contract was up at the beginning of May. Hopefully, with a bit more competition the prices will also be a bit competitive.
Most of the things at Michael's were really, really expensive. I recently showed the cute greeting cards that I creating using the scroll saw instead of punches.
I checked to see the prices of the punches – "just to see" – and it absolutely floored me that ONE simple punch that was similar to the shape I used to make ONE of the layers of the petals of one of the flowers on the card to the left costs a whopping $16.95! I used three different sizes for EACH of the flower shapes in just that card! My head was spinning to think of the cost of the punches to make the shapes for even one of the cards shown here if I had to buy them! And then I would be 'stuck' not only storing the punches, but with only that size and unable to use it for larger or smaller projects!
Moral of the lesson – get your scroll saws out and use them creatively for things OTHER than wood! You would probably PAY for your saw by making just a few cards! ;)
The last thing that I want to mention is that I was pleased to find that customer service is NOT dead at all places. Keith and I went to a Bed, Bath and Beyond to look for a doormat and browse. In the process, I found a nice sheet set as well as a beautiful cover set for our bed. However, I remembered that we were in the Miata and there would be no way we would be able to fit it in to get it home. The wonderful and helpful sales associate told us that there would be no problem at all – they would ship ALL of our purchases through Fed Ex for a mere $10! I was thrilled at this service because I had found some things that I really liked there and I would have hated to leave them behind. She told us that if we wanted something that was out of stock, the shipping on the item would be free, but since it was in the store, it was still only $10 no matter how much we purchased. They also have a great guarantee on their products and you could bring them back any time if the quality was not up to par as long as you kept your receipt. I was really happy to hear that a company still stands behind their products and I did find that their prices are decent as well. The sales people asked if we needed help, yet they didn't hound us or follow us around and they offered just the information we needed to make our purchases. In these times of bare bones customer service, I really appreciated it a lot and I will definitely be shopping there again.
I could go on about the details of our trip, but even by being gone only a little over 24 hours, I have a lot of catching up to do today. I want to thank all of you who wrote for your patience – as we didn't check the computer much while we were travelling. Today I will be back to painting and drawing up my next designs.
I sure did find a lot of inspiration on the short trip out. I had a lot of ideas for new painting and scroll sawing projects for you all to enjoy. It did me so much good to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, too. It has been far too long.
The sun is shining brightly today as well. Keith and I are going to have fun working and planning some home improvement projects of our own. I will surely keep you all posted as we do them.
I hope you all have a beautiful day as well. Happy Friday! The weekend is upon us!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"