Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Styled // Wintry Olden Days Cheer

Hello, dear friends!

I hope that your time spent with those dearest to you has been wonderful this past week,
and I wish the greatest joy and cheer of this most blessed season upon you!
I am just wondering how it is that in just a few days we will welcome 2017!?

This treasured time of year is all the more special and delightful,
perhaps most of all, because of the nostalgia that is intertwined with it.
It is the most nostalgic time of year and perhaps that resonates with my heart
and my memories the most.  The "olden days" feel and the twinkly 
wonder in the heart this time of year yields such childlike joy for all.

.           .          .

That old-fashioned holiday feel resonates through the wonderment of the
season, and to me, also reflects so much in the style of clothing I like to wear...
inspiring more than any other time of year to relish in vintage loveliness!

While out on a day-trip for some shopping and eating out last week with my family,
I enjoyed dressing up in an outfit that gave me such a feel of vintage, ladylike
charm and the cheer of the season!

Knowing a vintage piece, like my pin, was worn by a lovely lady-
a grandmother, a mother, a daughter- some fifty years ago always makes
me smile.  Perhaps that is what I love most about vintage; knowing it has
a story within its threads or in whatever piece it may be.

This style is one of my absolute favorites for wintertime-
snowy white sweater (and this one is adorned with pearls for a Southern
touch! (smiles)) layered over a quintessentially wintry plaid shirt, tailored pants, 
boots, and a brooch or pin to finish off the outfit.  How ladylike and pretty an 
outfit like this does make me feel!
I love the forties/fifties-esque style of this sweater paired with the plaid collar
and pin... two of my favorite eras for style and grace and classiness.
I enjoyed trying a bit of a different style with my hair that felt lovely and fun
to try, one that I thought matched my forties style a bit more than the usual 
way I wear my hair from day to day.

Sweater- vintage // Plaid oxford- Polo //Riding Pants- thrifted
Pin- vintage // Boots (in Poinsettia photo)- Justin Roper

What a beautiful backdrop this historic home made, along with the iron fence
from the golden era, spindly trees against a sleepy, pale, winter's sky,
and this Conestoga wagon out front of the Antique Photos shop (next door).

Oh, how I adore this small town with all its old-world charm and sweetness,
and especially all of its history preserved in the bricks of the original
buildings and wrought-iron fences and other old-fashioned beauty.

I am all the more enraptured by its loveliness in this glorious season.
A few of my views from the restaurant, store windows, historic dance hall, and more...

That good old, antiquated feel of nostalgia seems a reflection
of the delight and thankfulness for the blessings of this season and the
way the Lord showers us in all things good and is our stronghold.  In a way, His love
shows me that the good days and the joy and hope always comes back (no matter
what I am going through), just as this time of year and the way it effects my heart deep
inside truly makes me remember the feelings and memories of yesteryear.
And both of those things remind me to keep dreaming, praying, hoping.

I will "see" you in the new year, dears!  I pray your 2017 starts off beautifully
and oh so joyous and wonderful.

Love and blessings in Christ,


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Happy Lord's Day to you!

What a blustering, freezing, absolutely wonderful day it is!
(Can you tell I am a lover of chilly weather?☺)
Have the temperatures plummeted where you are?  I heard several states
are in the negative temps and getting massive amounts of snow.  Here, we are
having our coldest temps so far this year.  Last night as I drifted to sleep, I heard
the howling sounds of the wind outside and the old tree branch outside scraping
against the window, and I could tell even then it was going to be freezing this morning.

Hot cocoa is in hand, the fire is on, my sweater is warm, and I
am thinking of how delightful a cold day is to the soul... the sheer coziness of it all.
I feel wrapped in the lovely, hearty feeling of wintery days like today...
even though winter is still a few days away yet.

In my most recent post, after sharing the photos of all of our road trip
to St. Louis, Missouri, I mentioned I had saved a special set of photographs from
the trip to share later.  Here they are today!
I am excited to share the photographs I took on an amazing day of our trip
that capture what I would argue is definitely one of the most beautiful works
of architecture and mosaic work in America, if not the world:
the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

These were the most sacred, breathtaking walls and halls I have ever walked within.
What an absolutely glorious, magnificent sight every corner of the Cathedral was!
And what a place of peace and tranquility it was inside.
I am so thankful to have gotten this experience of visiting with my family
and all of us getting to take it in the incredible artistry together.

The exterior of the basilica is equally wondrous in stature and architecture.

Beautiful Byzantine style notes in the architecture are found on the exterior.

Once inside, a long horizontal hall greets you as you enter, and the sun
shining in from outside the doors streams onto the walls to set aglow
the tiny mosaic pieces in gold.
We stayed until closing time to look upon these works of art- from the
entrance hall and on into the main worship area and prayer rooms- that expressed
faith and told bible stories and accounts in each scene throughout the basilica.

If I could have, I would loved to have laid down in a pew and just stared up
at that ceiling for hours... stained glass windows accented the immaculate
mosaics and the bible came to life with each and every scene depicted.

Everything was so ornately done and showed such artistry.
I recommend researching the history of the build and architecture
of the basilica if you go- we were told of it by someone before we got there
 and it is quite interesting.

Two prayer rooms were adjacent to the main part of the basilica,
and the mosaics on the ceilings showed that just as much care was taken
to make these areas adorned with beauty, as well.

Directly outside one prayer hall was a replica of one of my favorite
sculptures ever created, the incredible Pietà.

A renewed spirit and an exhilaration were inside me, inside all of us,
upon walking outside after the experience of taking in the basilica.  And a most
heavenly sky with notes of cornflower met us outside, a lovely backdrop
for a shot of the intricate stonework around the basilica entry.

Walking back to our car, we stopped to admire this statue of grace, peace, and beauty,
"The Angel of Harmony".  The angel's wings are made of wind chimes.

If you are ever in St. Louis, this is a must-see destination whether you are
searching for elaborately, European-esque architecture to admire, or simply
a place of peace and beauty to enjoy and be humbled by.  

I hope your Sunday is one of joy today, friends.
May your new week tomorrow get off to a wonderful start.  
And if your weather is like ours is right now, I send warm wishes to you, too!

Love in Christ,

Friday, December 9, 2016

Meet Me in Saint Louis!

Happy Friday, everyone!
Today, I'm so excited to be sharing this post with you because it means I am
finally sharing my St. Louis trip.  I have been working quite off and on
on this post since shortly after we came home from this trip (which was about
 3 months ago!), so I am delighted to have it finally edited and ready to 
publish to share...
I enjoy sharing adventures like this with you and hope you enjoy,
and brace yourself for a plethora of photographs!

Saint Louis surprised me in a lot of ways.  One way is that the St. Louis arch
was exponentially more colossal than I ever imagined it would be.  
It is seriously sky-scraping in real life.  
The second is that, after reading so much about all of the
family activities and exciting things to do, I came away from this trip
being most excited not about all of those specific attractions (although
they were pretty incredible, as well!), but about the fact
that this city- more than any other I've visited before- truly has some of the most
beautifully preserved history and architecture.
The buildings, churches, and historic sites are so incredible to take in,
and the construction outlook in this city seems to be more so about preserving the
 buildings from the olden days and their elaborate architecture rather than tearing
down those buildings and creating new construction. 
I loved that so much.

St. Louis most definitely stole a piece of my heart, and we had an absolutely
wonderful time taking in all the greatness and charm of this great American city.

I love this view because it encompasses what our view was like
for the majority of our time in St. Louis, as well as the charm and character
of the city.  The red brick building to the right in the photo
was our hotel, the Drury Plaza Hotel.  So our view out the window was basically
the arch, and then right outside the front doors of our hotel, there were
constant carriage rides and horses passing by.  It made for such an old-world
feel that was lovely.

Getting into the history of St. Louis, as someone who has an affinity for history-
especially Southern and Civil Rights history- this city had such a grand wealth
of artifacts (especially displayed within its museums and Old Courthouse)
that transcended time, bringing you back to American slavery and the abolition fight.
This was especially so with the fascinating fact that here in this building
below, the Old Courthouse, the famous Dred Scott trials took place.

Dred & Harriet Scott.
This was quite enthralling to see, because I had seen an episode of one of my favorite
shows, Mysteries at the Museum, that featured this statue, and then I got to see it in person.

This view was quite breath-taking to me- with the majestic arch directly in front of me,
the hulking columns of the courthouse on either side, towering beside me, and the flag
 flying somewhere in between.

The architecture and ornate detail of it all within the courthouse was unparalleled.

Within several different rooms were displays from American Slavery to Native American
and Pioneer history and its influence upon Missouri.

My favorite thing that we got to do in the Old Courthouse was enter this room-
this was the very room where the Dred Scott trials took place.  I believe it looked a little
different back then, but this was the same space.  We even got to sit behind the bench.

The Laura Ingalls and Pioneer era enthusiast inside me got rather excited
to see this beautiful covered wagon and the artifacts near it in this room.

Places like courthouses make me want to explore every square inch.
Short story- in high school, on a field trip to an art museum, a few other girls and I took advantage
of a short break they gave us for lunch to walk to our state Capitol and walk around.
We ended up taking the elevators to all the different levels and exploring and it was so fun!
I'm not altogether sure we were really supposed to be up there, but no one stopped us.
And walking through the Old Courthouse in St. Louis reminded me of that-
I relished in walking up and down from level to level and taking in the rooms that were
open and getting a glance and a photo of the view from each level.
The scary thing, though, was that the balconies were so low!  You could easily have fallen.
But oh  was each level beautiful, so much so with the paintings and murals.

Back at the hotel, this was our view of the Mississippi!  As well as a quite beautiful
church.  This was my first time seeing the Mississippi, and after reading
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a few years ago, I had always wanted to see it.
I was equally in awe of the fact that I could see Illinois (it begins right
across the river, so the land and bank on the other side was Illinois)!  
Illinois just seems so far north when you're from the South.  

What a thrill and joy it was to go out at night to walk around and explore some more!
How I love venturing out into new places and taking in the sights and city.
This night was gorgeous in terms of both the weather and the views we took in.

The mottled sky provided a beautiful canopy for the courthouse.

Another view with the Gateway Arch perfectly arced above the courthouse.
This was taken on another day while out walking through the city and is the view
from the green-space called "City Garden".

The day we went to visit the Gateway Arch, we first stopped at the very church
next to our hotel, the one on the Mississippi that we had seen from our window.
It was ethereally beautiful inside, and the palette of colors and work on the ceiling, 
as well as the incredible organ, were such a calming and lovely sight to take in.
Many people were there visiting and admiring the church on their way to the Arch, too.

The edge of the church and the arch together under a bright August sky.

We finally made it to the entrance to the path that lead to the arch.
There was so much construction happening around the arch, but the way there
was paved nicely and made it easy to get there. The only downside of the construction
was that a few of the photos I had dreamed of taking (most of all a photo
of the arch reflected in a large pond with trees surrounding it that used to be
just in front of it) were dashed because certain things were being redone.

And then there it was!

I think the thing that, to me, made the Gateway Arch amazing to see- other than
its stature, of course- was that it reflects the clouds and the sun in its stainless-steel.
I'm so glad they constructed it from that so that it shines in the sunlight,
only highlighting it's bands and segmentation that make it interesting, as well.

I loved that one of the river boats was named "The Tom Sawyer".
How apropos for a paddle-wheel boat on the Mississippi!

I enjoyed spending time on the steps that led down to the Mississippi- from my spot
there, I had a "worm's-eye view" looking straight up below the center of the
arch and a perfect view of the riverboats going by.
I enjoyed photographing both and just taking everything in from where I stood.

This photo captures the glare of the sun on the arch on the left side.
Each time I caught that glare, it reminded me of the glimmer of a mirage in a way.

When I was sharing about my trip with one of my best friends, I had mentioned to
her that one thing that really surprised me about the Arch that I hadn't expected
was that it was so hard to photograph!  Haha, that may sound funny or like
a strange observation, but it was just so sky-scraping, as well as wide, that when
you stood close to it, you basically had to lie down to get a good shot of it.

I believe my favorite view of it, though, was actually when I stood right at
the very base of one of its "legs", because it was then that I felt the smallest
and its size really sunk in.  I stood with my back against it and looked
straight up and felt more than ever the reality of its girth.
The base is just huge, and looking up (like in the photo
below) was amazing, because not being able to see the end of what you 
were looking at looking up was like peering straight up onto a path to heaven.

Another of the neatest views is this one I captured below-
the streams of light behind the clouds that reflected on the steel and the
subtle reflections of the clouds themselves were so dreamlike.
And the edges of the Arch make it so aesthetically captivating.
It felt like, for several moments at first, that you were just standing next to this
thing that was like nothing else you've ever been beside or seen and you're
just trying to figure out all its angles and its make-up.

After spending time outside, we ventured inside!
And wow, the wonders that awaited inside.   I'll be honest and tell you that I didn't go
up in the tram to the top of the Arch- this was mostly thanks to the fact that when
you go to the courthouse room where admission tickets to enter the Arch
are sold, they have a replica to exact size of the tram car.  And friends, that tram
is t-i-n-y.  And you sit with about 5 other people in a circle and all face each other
and ride for over four slow minutes to the top.  
And apparently its gotten stuck several times!
That was good enough for me to decide I was completely fine not going up.
But it turns I didn't need to- just going inside the Arch on the ground floor,
there was plenty to see- mostly in the gift shop!
There was this fascinating wall telling part of the story of the Arch's
conception, as well a movie room where you could watch a historical program that
explained the beginnings, architecture, and constructional methods used to
build the Arch.   My dad bought a shirt at the gift shop that showed the construction
progress and steps to how it was put together, including showing a diagram
of how it is basically relying on the pressure of the two sides pushing together
in order to stand with such a unique shape (and in order for it to work physics-wise
for the weight support of the top portion of the arch, which was built last).

And the gift shop?  Nothing short of a dream place to get lost in, with everything
from souvenirs and postcards, to Pioneer-era and other treasured books, quilts,
mugs, jewelry, and best of all....

A fudge shop!  Can you believe there is a fudge shop underground beneath
the St. Louis Gateway Arch!?  Who knew?  That just seems so neat!
And it is even set up a bit like a Pioneer-era mercantile store.

After the Arch, we walked back straight onto the lawn to get this view
of the Old Courthouse.  Such an iconic view.

Almost half of one day we spent at another magnificent place on our trip...
the Saint Louis Zoo!

I highly recommend this zoo- it is spread out over quite the expanse of land, so it 
is a pretty good walk to see all the animals, but wow, this zoo was wonderful
and completely worth every step and every bead of sweat.  It was quite hot that day,
but at least it wasn't the humid heat we have down South.
The zoo itself has a menagerie of animals to see, and the best part:  it is FREE.
I had never been to a free zoo before.  And might I add that most museums in STL
are free admissions, as well, which amazed us and was great.

Once we enjoyed the beautiful pond and fountain inside the entrance, we headed out
to start adventuring into the heart of the zoo and see the beautiful animals.
Below are my favorite- lemurs!- and many other creatures to follow that we saw.
Learning about and being around animals is so close to my heart, so I enjoyed 
myself so much, as well as spending time with my family as we walked around that day.

Those gorgeous eyes.  Oh, God's creation.

I took a video of this majestic tiger as he played in his pool with a ball.
It was so neat to see!  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it is loading, but here
he is relaxing in his habitat.  He was amazing.

I love that you could see the vivid outline and shape of a joey
in this kangaroo mama's pouch!  I learned recently that a baby kangaroo-
before the stage where he is a joey, when just a small, hairless, pink creature-
is called a "pinky".  I thought that was just so cute!

Near the aviary, we came upon some beautiful plants and flowers!

Look at the hues on this bird- breathtaking.

After sometime, a little break from walking and from the heat was welcome.
So, we stopped at the Conservation Carousel, which was situated in
an area right beside benches and picnic tables and a concession
for food and drinks.  Another neat thing about this zoo, though, was that
you didn't have to buy their concessions- you could bring in your own food.
I also thought it was so neat that the zoo had a carousel inside it!

Next, when we had hydrated and rested a little bit, we headed to one of the best parts-
the penguins and arctic animals!  We had so much fun watching the penguins
and I loved photographing them.
One wonderful thing about the penguin room (inside) was that it was only
about 32 degrees- it felt so great on your skin to enter a freezing
room after being in the heat.

Seeing the several different species they had within the habitat
was so amazing, and the penguins would kick and dive  and splash and
almost seemed to show off for all of the delighted people watching them!

Because I took a couple hundred photographs at the zoo, I didn't include
every animal, but these were some of the best photos that turned out that I thought
I would share ☺  
...After the penguins, we saw the flamingos and went to the aquatics area,
and then headed on to our next adventure.

The next destination on our list was the amazing Missouri History Museum.

A preview of the "Little Black Dress" exhibit adorned the giant
windows of the museum exterior.

A took a few moments to stay outside before we went in, so I could admire
and capture the regal architecture of the outside, as well as this fountain.

Right inside the front door was the grand Jefferson Memorial.

Beware: several photos of ceilings, columns, and other architectural
features are to follow in this post ☺  If you can't tell, I was just slightly
enamored with the architecture everywhere I looked.

Model of the Spirit of St. Louis.

The Route 66 exhibit was so interesting and brimming with nostalgia
for the good old days in America and travel, as well as history of the region. 

I was in heaven looking at all of the areas of the exhibit that came straight
from what is to me the golden era of all- the 50s.

Antique items galore everywhere you looked...
especially petroliana, transportation pieces, and neon.

Another view of the beautiful "main hall" of the museum.

Next, we headed into a new room where we found the "Little Black Dress"
exhibit, one of the truly neatest museum exhibits I've ever seen, covering not just
dresses, but the rich history of the black dress and its symbolism in different eras.
My Dad wasn't quite as excited about this one ;) ... but us girls had a ball.

It was so interesting to see the progressions and changes from era to era
in the choices of fabrics, cuts, silhouettes, and uses.

We next made our way to the farther end of the museum to take in the
ornate beauty and old-world charm and wonder of the 1904 World's Fair exhibit!
This honored and captured in time the World's Fair that was held in St. Louis in 1904.

Before we left, we headed to the gift shop, where I admired this window!
The whole time since we had arrived in St. Louis, I couldn't help thinking of the Judy
Garland movie, Meet Me in St. Louis!  I left with a new snow globe to
add to my collection.

A MAJOR highlight of our trip happened on a beautiful, bright day when
we walked from our hotel to Busch Stadium, where the Saint Louis Cardinals
play, and we took the ballpark tour!  As baseball fans, this was a must-do!

The Cardinals franchise has such a rich history (which we got to hear
quite a bit about on the tour), and monuments to that history are plentiful around
and outside the park, including out front on one corner... there, they had statues of
several of their hall-of-famers, 

The ballpark tour tickets included free admission into the Hall of Fame museum.
It showcased not only the big names of current baseball and Cardinals fame,
but had such a vast display of relics, uniforms, and gear from the players 
of the early years.

When the ballpark tour began, we were brought into the stadium by our tour guides.
And this was the very first view we took in!

One point on the tour was getting to go see all of the World Series trophies.

About a third of the way through the tour, we made our way to a catwalk
where we walked above the base gate where the famous Stan Musial
monument is, honoring the Cardinals' most famous Hall of Famer.

Looking out onto the field from inside the press box!
This room was truly neat and was really cozy, with couches and a fridge
and one incredible view.

And then we came to the part that everyone was anxiously awaiting-
getting down onto the field!

What a sight!!!

If you're a die-hard baseball fan and can feel the nostalgia of America's
Favorite Pastime in your veins, you NEED to take a tour of your favorite ballpark.
It is an experience to remember!  
Being down on the field is something I will never forget.

A side view of home plate.

And now for my ABSOLUTE favorite and biggest highlight of the tour! ...

We got to take turns sitting in THE Cardinals dugout!!!
Can you tell by my face that I was just a little bit excited?

 It was amazing standing there and turning around for 360 degree views of
the ballpark, and even getting to see the arch and glimpses of the city beyond.
Our ballpark at home is completely close off and you can't
see the city or anything outside its walls, so this was kind of a different feel.

These two gentleman were our tour guides, Fred and Lyle, and I cannot tell you
 what a pleasure it was to meet them.  
I love talking to older ladies and gentleman from their era.
They were a true pleasure to have gotten to talk to.  My Dad loved talking baseball
with them, and they were just truly kind and classy.
At the end, they even let us take this picture of them as a souvenir and a memory,
one I'm so glad to keep through this photograph.

The end of our trip saw us making a last-minute, but WONDERFUL,
trip to the Saint Louis Art Museum.  I'm so glad we decided to do one last
thing and that this was it.

The beauty and art actually started outside the museum.
Before you even entered, there was so much to admire outside- from this statue...

... to the glorious Forest Park directly below
and down the hill (which we would visit after the museum).

The Classical Revival architecture of the STL Art Museum was nothing short
of magnificent to take in.  It seemed reflective to me of the styles of
many buildings that have been built in both Europe and New York City.

Having taken art and studying a bit of art history in both high school
and college (and LOVING it), I photographed so many paintings and sculpture
 that there would be too many to include, but here are a number of those that 
struck me the most...

The detail and intricacy of this painting left me speechless.

I've always wanted to learn better techniques for painting fabrics,
so I took a close-up photograph of this beautifully done fabric to study.  
Isn't that just perfection.

This painting moved me the most and was my favorite I saw
that day because of its subject matter, which tells a story of the great loyalty
of a dog whose owner has fallen to his death.  It is so sad, yet beautiful.

To get to stand, in real life, in front of one of the Water Lilies paintings
by Monet was such a neat feeling.

And here is "Little Dancer of Fourteen Years" by Degas.
My art teacher in high school had a poster of this statue on our classroom wall,
so to see it in person after learning about her then was amazing.

As I mentioned at the beginning of sharing about the museum,
afterward we headed down the hill to walk through Forest Park.
It was probably the prettiest park I have ever been to, just the most perfect
place for a stroll or walk or to have a picnic.

When we made it down to the bottom of the hill to the pond, our view changed from that
to this- a view of the Art Museum far up the hill and the pond right in front of us.

A picturesque creek even ran through Forest Park.

What a trip we had!
I am so thankful we got the chance to take this summer road trip!
Being on the road with your family and driving to and through new places-
a good old-fashioned summer road trip- is such fun!

And the time you spend there and the memories you make along the way
and where you end up... what a blessing ☺

One of the most magnificent places we saw in Saint Louis is one
I am saving for another post to come.  It definitely deserves a post of its own.
I cannot wait to share the beauty I saw there soon, friends.

Thank you for letting me share this trip with you.

Have a wonderful weekend!!
& stay warm if it is freezing where you are
this weekend (it was in the 20's here this morning)!

Hugs and blessings!

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