Archives for category: Market & Travel

Leaving the beautiful redwoods was hard… really hard, but we had the coastline to see so it was back in the car for the ride up 101 toward Gold Beach. Everywhere you look there are these craggy outcroppings. I really wanted to make the walk to the lighthouse but we arrived too late and the tide was already coming in covering the land bridge. We found a hotel room in time to enjoy this pretty sunset over the Pacific. It is a very different kind of beauty than we are used to on the gulf coast. The rocky beaches are filled with driftwood. It is not as user friendly as our sugar white sand,

but lends itself to some great campfires on the beach, as we learned. People started pouring in at sundown to claim their spots.

Soon, someone invited us to join them around their fire for some great wine and cheese and other munchies. Wasn’t that nice?

The next day we crossed back over into Oregon and continued the drive up the chilly coast.

I’m getting a bit confused but I believe this was coming into Gold Beach where the Rogue River empties into the Pacific Ocean. Isn’t that a lovely little bridge.

Don Sawyer, one of Jeff’s Excellent Artist from Florida, would have approved of this. Area schoolchildren’s artwork decorated the pier.

This is where it starts to get amusing to me.  We are driving along this famous highway that I have always wanted to see, it’s a beautiful day and this is what I catch myself doing:

doodling in my journal and daydreaming about good ole Morrison’s Lodge on the Rogue ( read earlier post here).

(I’m sorry but I just find that hilarious. LOL)

So ya know what we did? Turned east and headed right back to that wonderful river for one more night.

Finally, it was time to make our way back to Medford for an early morning flight and the long trip home but not before we had the chance to explore the two little “must see” cities of Jacksonville ( why do I feel like my life revolves around  Jacksonvilles no matter where I go? haha) and Ashland. Ahh, Ashland, we loved you: Such an art-driven town.

Downtown Ashland sculpture

My beloved mountain streams meander through the downtown area.

The shopping was fun. I thought the grands would have loved this miniature bike. NO, I didn’t get it. They would be cool dudes in it but remember, we have the 1-year-old who has already tried to hang from the dining room chandelier and has crawled into the front load dryer and happily played hamster, rolling the drum. His slightly older sister has requested a rock star birthday party. No motorcycles for them!

One reason we felt so at home here is that Ashland is home to a fantastic Shakespeare theater as is our hometown of Montgomery, Al.

“To be or not to be….”

All the world is a stage. And I never met one I didn’t like. smile

Embarrassing I know but fun. This was my favorite of their three theater stages. It looks like you are walking into a building but once inside you realize the stage is open air. Grandbaby girl got my genes. When she sees a stage she says, “humon (come on) Gigi, let’s go sing and dance!” I love that kiddo. I know this is a little strange but we were told that we shouldn’t leave the area without visiting the historic cemetery in Jacksonville. Not only were the graves ancient but it occupies the highest point around with great views of the surrounding wine country. We obliged.

In the Jewish section when people visit they leave “remembrance stones” on the monuments. I liked that.

We think we checked off every box on our “want to see” list. Whew.

We closed the trip with a visit here for some good fruit and fresh jams:

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope it inspired you to plan your own trip. When you get back send me some pics!

And if you would like to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at

Ever since we were children reading Weekly Readers The Writer and I have wanted to see the giant redwood trees so big a family together cannot reach around  and that cars have been known to drive through. One more bucket list item checked off.

This was funny.

Boom Magazine. This was for your benefit.

First we saw Smokey Bear! You have to be reminded of not playing with matches before you can enter these special woods.

Finally, there they were. They just started appearing.

And then … I turned into a tree hugger… just like that.

I really wanted to spend the entire day just hiking that majestic forest that words cannot describe. There is an awe about it. A sereneness. A peace that bids you stay.Fair warning… you might grow weary of seeing roots but your simply MUST see the size of these babies. Here we go.

Someone,besides me, was inspired. Can you see the Name of Jesus?

lightening strike?

He is 6′ tall.

Next item on the bucket list: a drive down Pacific Hwy 101. Fasten your seatbelt if you want to go along.

And if you would like to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at

After  a couple of days fishing we headed off to see what this beautiful part of the world had to offer. My friend, Linda Ford, told me that we had to eat at “the restaurant in Medford’s old depot” so after a little detective work we made reservations for dinner at Porter’s Train Station  Restaurant and Bar and we are glad that we did. What a beautifully restored old building with ivy gracefully climbing its facade.

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The theme here is decidedly “train” but tastefully done. You can choose from several dining spaces:

curtained booths reminiscent of the old dining cars that used to pull into the depot to pick up and let off passengers

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a lovely walled courtyard with party lights and umbrellas

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or the two story bar.

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Wherever you decide to sit you can be assured that the food will be wonderful.

We started off with a salad of fresh Oregon organic greens topped with glazed walnuts, Rogue River Creamery blue cheese and a homemade blackberry vinaigrette dressing. Delish

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This was followed by our first ever hazelnut encrusted steelhead served on a bed on steamed spinach. Not my cute little half-pounder that likes Hebrew ( see former post) but just a plain ole generic steelhead and it was fantastic.

The manager even sent over a bottle of local wine.

If you are ever in Medford, Oregon check them out and tell them we sent you!

Early Saturday morning we set out for Crater Lake National Park about an hour away.

Breath taking. The lake was formed when a volcano erupted and then imploded creating a basin that was then filled with run-off and melted snow . The average snowfall at Crater Lake is 533 inches every year. That’s about 44 feet! That’s a LOT of snow to a southern girl. They say that if you go at Christmas you are actually snowshoeing in the tops of the trees. Wow! Its depth of 1,943 feet (592 meters) makes it the deepest lake in the United States, and the seventh deepest in the world. Its fresh water is some of the clearest found anywhere in the world. Indeed it looks like the Mediterranean’s water and the mountains are as close to Switzerland as I have seen in this country.

It was very desert like around the crater.

And the ground was filled with these little red flowers whose dried leaves made an eerie sound that one family near us mistook for a rattlesnake.

You can drive around the entire perimeter which takes about 3 hours, or you can take a trolley (which I highly recommend since the road is so narrow and winding with sheer bluffs on the side that the driver cannot takes his/her eye off the road for a second)

These cute little ground squirrels were everywhere. No, they were not chipmunks.

You can also take a boat ride to the two islands located in the center of the lake but prepare for that with hats and sunscreen. That’s about a two-hour ride and the boat is open.

When you get to the tip top you are rewarded with one of the most award worthy architectural feats around: a remarkable stone and cedar lodge literally perched on the very edge of the crater. Even after watching the videos showing them building it, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around how it was even possible.

You know I’m going to love it when I walk inside and find a walk-in stone fireplace with roaring fire and real bark covering the staircase.  This was craftsmanship at its best.

One day, if I can gather any information on it, I will have to dedicate a post to its construction.

Across the entire back, just outside the restaurant where I had the best salad and clam chowder of the trip was this veranda.


From here one can begin to grasp the size of this lake but as I review these pictures I realize again that you just cannot capture it on film.

Tomorrow, we head to the Redwood Forest!

If you would like to say, ‘That was fun!” at the end of your project contact us at


I love being the wife of The Writer.

He was on assignment a few weeks ago to cover fly fishing in Southern Oregon and I got to tag along.  Sweet! Now, not being the out-doorsy type I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this but neither of us had ever seen that part of the country so we were excited and ready for an adventure.

Up at 3am (yep, that was the bad part) we headed off to Montgomery Regional for a 5:30 flight to Atlanta, then to Salt Lake City and finally to Medford, Oregon. From there we rented a little red Ford Focus and started the 45 minute drive to Morrison’s Lodge on the Rogue River in Merlin, Oregon. Woo hoo! This is happening.

Our first stop was for lunch at the Taprock in Grant’s Pass.

We were sure we had made a really wrong turn when they seated us at a table out on the balcony overlooking the river and we saw what appeared to be an exact replica of the river bridge in downtown Wetumpka, Alabama. Crazy.

Nourished and grateful for the leg stretch we set the Garmin for Merlin and it was Oregon or bust!

Winding through mountains and over streams that looked a bit like North Carolina but not as smoky we crossed the arched yellow trestle bridge that meant we were within sight of our destination.

Morrison’s Lodge is run by a precious family headed by Dad Lowell Pratt. The whole family is involved and they make you feel like family.

Famous for two things: orange rolls

and fishing

they set out to make us fall in love with both. They succeeded.

One of Jeff’s “excellent artists” is a winsome guy named James Sampsel who also happens to be a professional fly fishing and rafting guide on the Rogue. James is now an official member of our family. He has a God given gift of hospitality and loves to serve. We met, officially, when he came bounding across the grass as Jeff and I sat in white Adirondack chairs taking in the lake view behind the lodge.

Wrapping us in hug that felt like we were still in the South he welcomed us to his world and began to explain what was in store for the next few days.

Rising at 6 we dressed in multiple layers, grabbed the camera and a cup of piping coffee and headed for the truck.

There we met James

and our photographer, Lenore, who would be trailing us in an inflatable kayak to capture the story for us.

I could get used to this.

As the rising sun danced on the water we shoved off in James’ float boat

that he has embellished with painted images of a “fly” and a jumping  fish

and entered the chilly waters of The Rogue for the first time.

For the first several hours we learned the “twitch” method of fly fishing where you cast once and then just twitch the fly by doing a small wrist flick ever few seconds while the poor guide oars for hours guiding the boat back and forth across the water tempting the ever elusive steelhead to take the bait. They say that a really good fisherman will land a steelhead every 8 hours…hmmm

I seemed to be an expert at catching seaweed as for every few minutes I was having to reel in or forward cast to try to “lose the salad” as James would say. I spent the majority of my morning doing that but Jeff was getting “taps” on his line often.

Finally, “I’ve got one!” he shouted. “Stay calm, don’t move the line yet.

 Now, gently lift the line and set the hook. Good. Now slowly reel in the line keeping the tension on it.” All the while James was rowing toward shore so he could assist in landing the fish.

With James now in the water Jeff fought the little bugger until he was close enough to the boat for James to gently grab him.

– a cute little “half pounder”- and hand him off to Jeff for a photo op. SUCCESS!

By now we had worked up an appetite so we beached the boat and James pulled out a quite delicious  lunch spread that the inn prepared for us. He even had a little pop-up table AND a table cloth, thank you very much.

He was distressed that he could not do a pretty presentation as he would on his overnight trips but all he had to work with was Tupperware and plastic.

While we finished our brownies, James began the demonstration of how to spey cast which is a one rod, two hand method of fly fishing that you use while wading.

YES! Now was my Ralph Lauren moment when I got to don the gear and step into that rushing river for the first time and show my stuff.

So why do I just look fat and grungy? This is not what my fantasy picture looked like at all. Air brush. I demand air brush!

Honestly, I can’t believe it myself but this was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Great shot James Sampsel!

But I still had not landed a Steelhead.

Up again at 6 for day 2 on the beautiful Rogue I was determined. James told me that you had to have confidence to catch these sly little fish so I made some changes. I chose a different fly- one that looked like a cross between a bumble bee and a skunk with 3 bling-blings on its back. That outta do it. Then I made Jeff change sides of the boat with me and we were off.

Immediately the changes began to show results. Poor Jeff started to catch “salad” right off the bat. LOL.  Hour 1 passed… no fish. Hour 2… nothing. I told Jeff he was going to have to pull out his guitar or SOMETHING to make these fisheys happy.

 There is a Hebrew blessing that I just love and am often asked to sing so he said that I should sing it to the fish. Ahh… Ok, but heck, I am out of my box –right? I am game. I began to sing.

“Baruch hashem, Adonai. Baruch hashem, Adonaaaaiii. SHAZAM!!! I felt a hit.

“James! I’ve got one!!!”

“Girl! He likes your singin. Reel him in… real slow.”

“ Did you see him jump?!?”

“ Nice and steady. I’m getting out of the boat.”

And then, before you could bat an eye I had ‘im in my hands. A cute little half-pounder. Who knew Steelheads liked Jewish prayer songs?

If you EVER get a chance to go to Southern Oregon, GO and stay at Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge. Tell Lowell we sent you then request James for a day of fun on the river.

To read a different perspective on the trip be sure to check out Jeff’s article  in Boom Magazine on the stands now.

And…if you would like to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at

We just returned from a photo shoot at the Ponte Vedra house where we had the opportunity to work with another great photographer, Scott Smith. It is really fun to meet all of these talented artists and I can’t wait to see his work.

Frank Rodgers, the general contractor and I were editing each shot as we went along.

It’s a lot of work to try to catch every little cord that’s out of place. Frank was eagle eye!

Scott told us about Art Walk that was being held at St. Augustine that night and we had planned to go but after a 9 hour shoot I could barely drag myself to our favorite little local seafood place before I crashed. I think I mentioned Barbara Jean’s last time.

If you are ever in the Jacksonville area head over to the intercoastal waterway and check out their she crab soup and bread basket. Yum.

Enjoy a beverage as you watch the locals ski past your table.

Saturday morning we had some work to finish up in preparation for phase II but it was such a pretty day we decided to drive on over to St. Augustine and check it out and boy, am I glad we did. On the way into town we stopped for lunch at Kingfish Grill on the marina. They had some tiny little boats like the one seen behind me anchored there.

As we enjoyed our salad and grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich some real fisherman came in straight off the boat and handed our waitress their catch. That was cool. They told her exactly how they wanted it prepared and she took care of it. Now that’s service. I would go back there also.

Back on the road we passed this delightful vintage carousel that anchors the city park on our way to the historic district.

What a gorgeous little city with such a rich heritage.  The oldest European settlement in the continental  United States it received a remarkable gift when Flagler, an oil man, put his architectural stamp on her.

My mouth is still hanging open from the sight of the museum and Flagler College(where Scott went to school). Get a load of this:

We walked through the museum corridor hung dramatically with these lights to reach the college.

The courtyard was like a lush tropical island with a charming old stone footbridge.

These little- or rather, BIG -guys swam lazily underneath.

Lovely corbels supported the groin vault.

After seeing a charming train/trolley drive closely by allowing everyone an up close look at this beautiful structure I could stand it no longer. I had to get there!

The entrance gate alone is worth seeing.

Thank you,Sir.


Apparently you have to ride a really cool bike to go here. haha

And then… we stepped inside. This is what used to be the old Ponce de Leon hotel but is now the…ahem… girl’s dormitory. Are you even kidding me!!! Now I loved my dear old Helen Keller Hall at Auburn but this is a different level ya’ll. Of course we didn’t have to put up with tourists walking around all the time though either.

Do you think they just get used to it?

Speaking of tourist we met these interesting people reading one of the information boards. Mr Horst Jaritz and his wife Ursula are from France.

His degree is in architecture so he was as enthralled as I but he has spent his entire professional life working as an archeologist in Egypt. Wow. They were here visiting dear friends whose names we didn’t get. “Dear friends” please contact me and tell me your names. LOL I am sorry.

“Watch out. She will put you on a blog post in a half a heartbeat.” Yup.

You leave this building through another lovely garden filled with fountains.

I so wanted to take these little guys home with me. Loved the whimsy.

Even the downspouts were jaw dropping: koi carved into terra cotta.

We were having a blast and just getting started when this happened.

As we ran for the car I snapped this “happy”. She giggled.

Bummer. The bottom absolutely fell out and we had no rain gear so there was only one thing to do but I grabbed these shots from the car on the way out of town. The downtown area feels very much like New Orleans.

This bridge takes you by the old fort on the way out of town.

We will go back! I hope you enjoyed your visit. I know I did. As we were leaving the college this was the last thing I saw and it reminded me of how blest I am to be able to share life with my best friend.

If you would like to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact us at


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the perfect palette

We are on the road again for a big photo shoot. I hope we get some shots as beautiful as this one.

Have a wonderful weekend.

And if you want to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at

People are forever asking me  this question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

What they really want to know is: what is the source of your inspiration?

I realize that saying “God” is a very trite sounding answer but that is the truth.

He opens my eyes when I ask and this is what I see:



and then

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quickwitter from tumbler

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from Dan Heller might come this.

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The subway ceilings in Sweden would inspire anyone.

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Creation never fails to inspire.

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And when I “happen upon” this you know you are going to be seeing color soon from Cindy.

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It is true that inspiration is everywhere and for a designer travel is not just something that is fun to do

it is vitally necessary for the process.

Travel is rest for my soul and food for my eyes.

It breaks open my box and forces me to see things in a different way.

It introduces me to new…… everything! 

Thanks for asking. The very question makes me happy.

If you would like to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact us at




So I thought you needed a little vacation.

Enjoy your stay and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Luxury Resort Ayada, Maldives

I’m not sure where this is but I’m pretty sure I want to go there.

Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India‘s Lakshadweep Islands, between Minicoy Island and Chagos Archipelago. It stands in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometres (430 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka I recognize. lol  I need to pull the ole geography book out again.

Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 11Have you ever seen water so clear and beautiful?

Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 10Excuse me, I’m going back to bed now.

This is the way to catch up on all of that reading I want to do.

Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 9Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 8Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 7Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 6Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 5Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 4I’m loving that mirror/vanity stand.

Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 3Luxury-Resort-Ayada-Maldives 2I hope you enjoyed your little impromptu vacation as much as I did.

If you would like to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at

Day 2 started bright and fair.

I don’t remember the city ever being this beautiful.

On the way in from the airport we passed block after block of car-sized forsythia in full bloom.

It was as if someone had reached down with a giant paint brush and painted the city bright yellow.

 I guess “Someone” had.

In the park dogwoods created a white canopy for the tiny daffodils to dance under.

Walking past the southern edge of the park we strolled down to Sarabeth’s, our favorite neighborhood stop for brunch.

They have some of the best eggs benedict you will ever eat to say nothing of the pumpkin waffles topped with sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.

You can dine on the sidewalk or inside in the garden room surrounded by  black and white photographs of Audrey Hepburn and other icons.

Today was a day filled with much walking… over 100 blocks to be exact.

If you know Manhattan this will mean something to you.

We walked from Central Park South to the Flatiron building!!!

That’s some miles folks.

Then we taxied to the village, walked all over Soho and walked to Tribeca.

I would NEVER walked that much at home. haha

Today was The Writer’s day to work and we met some fantastic people who will be friends forever.

Their names will be revealed later…. by him… but this is a glimpse into where we went and some of what we saw.

In Soho…

We visited a very cool war era loft apartment filled to the brim with intriguing art.

Here The Writer ( isn’t he handsome?) conducts business with one of the artists.

I felt right at home among all of the Mose T artwork.

Mose was a primitive artist from Montgomery, AL. I used to go downtown and visit with him in his little shotgun house as he sat cross-legged in the middle of his bed which was in the front room and painted on pieces of cardboard or wood or whatever was available.  On the floor would be dozens of open gallon cans of house paint. This was his medium.

I can relate. I designed my first fabric painting with Benjamin Moore latex house paint. It’s the medium I know best.


In those days if you took Mose a six-pack you would leave with a painting.

Those days are over.

His work now hangs in museums from Montgomery to New York and was included in a Nall showing in Paris.

Now, on to this artist.

This was a prototype for a work commissioned by the State of New Mexico.

Made of bronze and stone the real deal stands 14′ tall.

Another prototype, this one planned for Shanghai, depicts the new face of energy.

The larger man standing holds a solar panel. The smaller one, kneeling represents kinetic energy.

The prototype is carved out of wood. The actual installation will be bronze.

This little guy cracked me up. (The Writer’s background is the brokerage world)

This is one of a series of people who open up to show what’s inside of them. Some are filled with music.

This poor guy was tied up in knots inside. He’s from Wall Street. The knife-like objects stabbing him…..

Monte Blanc pens. haha

There is nothing in the world better than new friends. Especially ones with fascinating stories to tell.

From here we raced across town to meet with my old friend from grade school. Trust me.

You want to see what this guy is up to now.

Click HERE to see the awe–inspiring work of event planner extraordinaire DeJuan Stroud.

And finally, a meeting with a beautiful young Russian (U.S. citizen) artist back at the hotel.

 There are so many stories that we aren’t at liberty to tell yet.

Thanks to all of you who knew what was going on and prayed for us.

We felt them.  God is good.

This one is out of order but I had to include it.

It’s a tradition. I always have my picture made with my portfolio with the Doorman.

He brings me good luck.  We have our picture made. I present. I come back with a “yes”.

Works for me.

So from the city with soaring buildings

and soaring dreams

I bid you adieu.

If you would like to say, “That was fun!” at then end of your project contact me at

Monday was a sweet day for me because I was back in my favorite city- NYC.

At my favorite hotel…

The Ritz team is amazing. Once you become family, you are family. They know your favorite foods, your favorite restaurants etc. and they even provide MANY Bandaids for your poor aching feet (especially when you are dumb enough to wear new shoes). LOL

Our room was on the third floor. The top point of the American flag is in our window.

It’s not every day that I take a picture of my hotel bathroom but I do it every time we go here. LOL

Marble just never gets old.

We , the Writer and I, dropped off our bags and raced outside to the waiting cab that would take us to my appointment with Duralee Fabrics in the garment district.


We caught each other up on “life” before moving on to the business at hand.

This is your only full peek at the top-secret inner sanctum.

I will have to black out things from here on.

OH! But first, right there on top of the pile…

My fabric.  They say it’s getting a lot of buzz right now on Houzz. That’s gratifying.

It was a great meeting.  I learn something new each time I present that only challenges me more and makes my work better.  For that I am grateful.

We met with the entire staff and in the end they asked permission to keep 10 patterns.

That’s 10 times more than they took last time. woo hoo!

We now have to wait and see how many will actually make it into production.

They have to jump through many hoops and find a slot in already slated collections.

Stay tuned.

Leaving Duralee we walked toward Madison Square Park and stopped at a great little- well not so little- market called Eataly.

It is an organic market that sells everything from veggies to homemade pastas and sauces to gelato to……

There are six different cafes within the market that serve food made from items bought in the market. Very cool.

We grabbed a real Napoli Margheretta pizza and a couple of drinks before heading off to our next meeting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your short stay in the city.

Come back tomorrow to see what happened on day 2.

And if you would like to say,”That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at

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