obsessions.

first off, maybe you’ve noticed I’ve made some changes around here. I’m not entirely convinced that I love it yet, still tweaking the edges, but it was time for a new look so I picked a new theme and well, here we are. let me know what you think! (or not, you know I’m not one to order people around… and ok, if you really know me, then you know that’s a bold faced lie right there.)

on to my latest obsessions which all revolve around design and decorating. specifically light, airy, modern items like this dining room:

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or this bedroom, with a bed I could imagine spending the whole day in:

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I’m researching every possible sofa in internet sofa land: currently landing on this one from article as a favorite with a strict no coffee drinking rule applied to all who sit!sectional

the reason for all my obsessing over household items (you should see my pinterest) is we are going to be settling down again, taking a break from the nomadic life we’ve been living these past few years. Mr. X is going to be getting a coding certification and we’ll be staying put in our old hometown at least for a few years as he gets his foothold in a career.

I imagine we’ll hit the road again in the future (we still have so much more to see!)

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but, for now I look forward to organizing my laundry room and watering plants, figuring out where to put my baking sheets and things of other high importance. it will be good to have a place to call home, again.

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unless otherwise credited, All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

public lands, a love story.

last year we were so fortunate to be able to experience so many of our public lands, parks and monuments. I decided to start collecting patches along the way as a way to remember the places we had seen.

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I bought our first official patch at the padre island national seashore. the kind volunteer behind the counter at the gift shop explained to us how we could drive onto the beach and camp there. he also told us how the beach in texas is considered a highway, and if we chose to we could drive for miles on it. we were thrilled with the possibility.

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it was there that I started thinking about this quilt. from every park, monument, forest or historical site that we stopped at with a visitor center, I bought a patch and added it to this quilt. it’s like a living memory, a work in progress. hand stitching the patches over fabric that is covering holes in the antique bedcover that is older than me.

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when we were at yellowstone, it just happened to be the month of the 100 year anniversary of this amazing place. we were lucky enough to be caught in the middle of a herd of bison crossing the road; they were feet from our car, and I will never forget that feeling, the feeling that we were visiting their home. we were their guests. it was humbling. and it was my favorite day.

death valley was spectacular.

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our year of travel took us from cleveland ohio to the eastern shore of texas,

to the peaks of alaska, and back around…

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we stopped at badlands national park after visiting deadwood and sturgis.

we were not disappointed. even saw the elusive big horn ram.

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this is one of our favorite campsites; a wildlife preserve in western nevada.

without the bureau of land management, the national forests, the department of antiquities, the national monuments or the national forests none of this would have been possible. we have so much left to see. and we saw so much.

it is vital that they stay funded, operating and protected.

finding life in death valley.

my son needed a little break from the winter doldrums back in grey-skies-will spring-never-arrive-cleveland, so we sent him a ticket to fly into las vegas and planned a few days of camping and a visit to death valley national park.

now the name death valley conjures up a desolate, barren wasteland of nothingness. a mad max-like expanse of desert as far as the eyes can see, with nothing growing, just the occasional blowing dune, or skeleton of the tourist before you who didn’t bring enough water. (always bring enough water)

so, we were pleasantly surprised when we found that death valley had really more life than death. and just as many highs as lows.

one of the most spectacular highs being dante’s view.

I mean, come on.

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from the top you could see 360 degrees for miles. and on the way up there (you climb a mile high over 13 miles of winding road) was so much green, and wildflowers…..no death anywhere. 

stunning.

and the sunset from there, well, it sure takes the mind off dreary cleveland weather.

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there were lots of opportunities to climb things.

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and climbed they both did.

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this is called the artist’s palette: it’s mounds of colorful mineral-rocks left after volcanic activity. it basically looks like a melted ice-cream sundae.

the lowest point of the trip (get it, lowest) was badwater basin: literally the lowest place in the western hemisphere. we got there before 9am and it was already climbing above 90 degrees. it’s the craziest place I’ve ever been, will probably ever be. the smell in the air is like sulphur/salt; the “ground” crunches beneath you and the silence (once you get away from the other tourists) is deafening. you’re almost 300 feet below sea level, and surrounded by mountains that reach a mile into the sky that are topped with snow. 

insane. 

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view from above:

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there’s 250 square miles of the white stuff; looks like snow from up here, it’s basically table salt. 

my favorite part was hiking through mosaic canyon. the boys left me to do their own climbing of the walls instead of just hiking the path, so I enjoyed the cool canyon walls and the silence all by myself. 

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(hikes in a skirt)

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even though it’s name is intimidating, and some of the days were hot and tough, I think we conquered death valley. it is now one of our top five national parks; it is park number 25 (if you’re keeping track) that we’ve visited since december (including national monuments, not including national forests) *btw: national monuments, like white sands, are not “national parks” merely because it takes an act of congress to make it so. death valley didn’t become a national park until 1994; it had been a monument since the 30’s. your history lesson for the day 🙂

onward, we go!

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 All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

white sands.

a long time ‘bucket list’ item was seeing the beauty that is white sands national monument. we headed into new mexico to make use of the warm-ish weather and avoid the rain that was pummeling the west (including parts of arizona and nevada, where we had been…) and so it seemed we were finally going to make it to the sands.

on our way there we passed another point of interest, the very large array which, like me, you’ve probably seen in movies like contact and maybe, like me, you’ve thought ‘wow, that looks amazing!’

well, it did not disappoint.

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I mean. you just can’t get over how big these things are.

and they’re talking to space.

amazing.

then we were on to white sands.

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look how happy this little gal was running on that cool white stuff.

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the cutest picnic areas I’ve ever seen.

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we had a few days of nasty windstorm, but our stay here has been really great. every night we’re rewarded with sunsets that just take your breath away.

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I think we’ll stay here a few more nights, and then, well, who knows…..

**oh! I have put some of my digital prints up on society6 for purchase. take a look!**

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

 

 

living without.

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hard days. days like yesterday, when we went to do laundry, find internet and get groceries and only accomplished two of the three. (the internet we found was so slow it was worthless for what I needed it for; mainly downloading new things for us to watch during the dark, cold hours between sunset and sleep; and to update my blog. hell, I couldn’t even get Facebook to load, or send photos to my phone via messages.)

hard days, but also learning to live without things, live like we (well, like I) used to live….no internet. today, for example we made a decision to not go to ‘town’, to stay at camp, even though we had not accomplished what we needed yesterday. staying put meant not spending money, but it also meant we had to learn to keep occupied. easy on warm days, not so easy on a chilly day.

I spent some of the day working on the old quilt (of my mom’s) that I’m patching. it was on her bed as a teenager in the fifties, and I’ve had it since my grandpa passed away in 1997. it’s been well loved, and is threadbare in many spots—holes right through in many others. I’m sewing patches on it with embroidery floss, using a blanket stitch. patches of all different sizes, in fabrics I’ve acquired through various means, mainly tiny prints, some from Japan, all very quaint. it’s more than a way to pass the time, it’s marking the days that I’m on this journey, it helps me focus on something other than the road going by, or the silence of the forest. it’s a great meditation, a purpose.

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xander spent most of the day reading. we picked up some books (2 each at under .80/pc from goodwill) while our laundry was washing yesterday. after my fingers started turning numb (even in the wristwarmers I pulled from my jeannieknits stash… it is still. so. freaking. cold!) I crawled in the car, and under the blankets, and passed the rest of the afternoon reading as well.

I joked later we were living like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I’m not sure x got the reference.

———-

we also looked at the map (MAP!) of texas that we picked up at the welcome center and mapped out 2 possible routes through the state (see, internet, we don’t need you!) and are planning on heading out from here tuesday and head to the shores of the gulf…time for some sun and sand.

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sam houston national forest 1/19/2016

holidazed.

this morning we had ‘christmas’–a few days early, as we’re leaving here tomorrow (finally?) for the second mini leg of our journey. last weekend we had second thanksgiving. (although I was holed up in the bedroom under a pile of pillows and medication due to a stress-related migraine situation so only experienced the leftovers….)

we’ve had a rough-ish start (learning lots about what we really need) and loads of time to make lists, check them a billion times and on and on and on. complete with a trip back to ohio in the middle of it all. *frown face* that was rewarded with a stop at my new favorite place: waffle house (HASH BROWNS) *happy face*

luckily during this time,  I had a lot of knitting orders to fill (keeping me occupied mentally and physically)–took the last large one to the post office this morning–so today is a day to relax, do one final sorting of things and, maybe watch some more terribly cheesy holiday movies.

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sorting of the things.
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burning the past.
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burning the work shirt.
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mo’s bbq, syracuse, ny.

 

 

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dutch hill cemetery, parish, new york.
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onward.

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

livin’ the dream.

I hear people say this all the time. 99% of the time, I’m pretty sure it’s sarcasm. For instance, when my (now former) boss would answer her phone; and in response to what I imagine was the standard, “How are you today?” inquiry she would reply, “Oh, you know, livin’ the dream.”

Translated:

“I’d rather be anywhere but here.”

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I’ve had a dream for many years, and after years of talking about it and pinning pins on Pinterest and posting posts on Facebook about how great it would be, I’m finally going to Live It.

We leave next week in a new road worthy vehicle (ok, a used Honda Element) that we’re going to spend time modifying into a camper / van. Then we’ll hit the road and start chasing the 70 degree weather while hitting as many National Parks as humanly possible.

IMG_5172(Yep. That pass gets us in free to all the Parks for a year. SO excited)

Part of the process has been letting go of things, again. Donating clothing we don’t need, selling the tiny bit of furniture that we’d bought since we moved back to Ohio less than two years ago. The relationships that were difficult, the new friendships.

Learning that life is short is something that sounds very cliche and meaningless in it’s overuse. But having worked so closely to death in my most recent job, it hit home every day. That was a large part of what pushed me (us) towards this step.

That, and after a while you just get tired of saying you’re going to do something ‘one day’.

This is that day.

FullSizeRender(ps if you’d like to help fund our journey, with goodies in return, hit the “gas money” tab up above. thanks!)

 

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

hey, sunshine.

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this morning we had to be up at (early enough to capture this stunning sunrise) to get to yet another doctor’s appointment. (it’s been one of those weeks.)

since we were up, though, we made the most of it. we stopped at a local bakery and grabbed some treats; headed down to the Cleveland Metroparks and enjoyed the best time of year here, which is the beautiful month of September.

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felt a little like a fairy, traipsing about in this loveliness.

“If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today

If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way”

john denver said it best.

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

beach days / fading away.

today–well, this weekend, marks the official end of summer.

yesterday I realized that once again I let time fly by….and the beautiful days were coming to a close way to quickly.

so last night I sent a text to this guy;

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that said, “tomorrow we go on an adventure.”

and this morning, we did.

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beach for days.

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from my chair I watched this sweet grandma playing in the water with her little grandson….

layers of time fading away.

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it was a short little adventure, but gave us fresh energy to face the week, maybe even the upcoming dreaded ohio winter.

maybe.

 

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

home is where you make it.

When I was about seven, we moved from the tiny brick bungalow, and the only home I’d known, into a shiny, new, yellow aluminum sided four bedroom colonial. It was nestled on a the end of a cul de sac in a neighborhood that was full of strange kids who would become my walk to school friends, kick the can buddies and all around partners in crime….and  I was excited. I love change.

In the past five years since getting divorced, however, I’ve moved seven times. Change at that rate gets a little old. Kick the can games fewer and far between.

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kitchen kitsch

My latest stop has me renting a condo, which means the month that you decide to go “off lease” and rent month to month is exactly the time the landlord calls and tells you he has someone interested in buying that condo. Change? It seems to like me more than I like it at this point.

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map wall

But, on the other hand, maybe it’s a good thing.

I’m also turning (a BIG number birthday…like a really big one…halfway to being mentioned by Williard Scott and being sponsored by Smucker’s big) this week and have always dreamt of seeing this amazing country of ours.

We (my current partner in crime and myself) have been slowly planning, plotting, budgeting…a way to travel around to the National Parks — seeing everything I’ve / we’ve / never gotten to see. Hence the big map on our wall.

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After all, home can be anywhere…..in a big, shiny, yellow aluminum house on a cul de sac, or in the front seat next to your best pal driving across the country…..

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stay tuned.

 

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life