Scotland – Our Castle Visits

Hi friends,

We were blessed to finally be able to take our bucket list trip to Scotland in April! It was the most amazing trip in such a beautiful country! We planned our trip through Nordic Visitor Travel Agency and we canโ€™t say enough about how great they were to work with. From the first phone call they wanted to make the trip what we wanted. Shout out to Duncan for all his help!! We even had a couple of issues come up during the trip – flat tire and ferry not running – and they were on top of things helping us and changing hotel bookings. If youโ€™re ever heading to that area of the world, I highly recommend Nordic Visitor to help plan your trip. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

We opted to do a self-driving tour around Scotland. Our trip lasted 16 days so we were able to see a lot of the country, but not nearly all of it! By having our own rental car, we were able to see and do the things we wanted without being part of a tour. It worked great for us even though my husband was ready to turn the car in by the end of the trip! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Driving was on the opposite side of the road for us with the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car – took some getting used to. Also the roads, especially in the rural areas, are narrow with lots of curves. And lots of single track roads, too.

Scotland is filled with castles and castle ruins. We didn’t even begin to see them all! Here are the castles we did see and a little about each one. The history of this country is just incredible and I don’t pretend to know even a fraction of it, but I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned. ๐Ÿ˜Š I’ve also included some links if you want to learn more about any of the castles.

Edinburgh Castle sits high above the city at the top of the Royal Mile with a gorgeous view of Old Town. The oldest building on the castle grounds is St. Margaret’s Chapel built in the 12th century – it’s the photo on the right below. The castle was damaged over and over, but repaired and rebuilt with most of the buildings now dating from the 16 century. There is so much Scottish history here. I highly recommend joining a tour as you visit Edinburgh Castle.

St. Andrews Castle is on the east coast of Fife. Built originally around 1200, it was captured, dismantled, and rebuilt by both sides during the Wars of Independence until 1337. Eventually, it was abandoned in 1592 and fell into ruin. The Great Hall collapsed into the sea in 1801 and more of the castle was lost until a sea wall was built in 1886.

Dunnottar Castle was by far the most striking of the castle ruins we saw. It sits on a rock outcrop in Aberdeenshire surrounded on 3 sides by water and rocky cliffs – a true stronghold! William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots were both hosted in this castle. In the 1650’s, the castle played a role in the safekeeping of the Scottish Crown Jewels from the army led by Oliver Cromwell. It was a very cold and windy day and our time was limited, so we opted to not make the hike up to the ruins. I can only imagine how amazing it would be up close!

Drum Castle also in Aberdeenshire has a square tower-house, one of the three oldest surviving in Scotland. You can see it on the left in the first photo below. It was built in the late 13th century. Drum was granted by Robert the Bruce to his standard-bearer William de Irwyn and had stayed in the Irwyn family until 1976 when it was bequeathed to The National Trust for Scotland. Below are photos of the library and the dining room.

Crathes Castle is just a few miles down the road from Drum Castle. It was built in the 16th century. We didn’t tour the inside of the castle, but walked around the grounds and gardens – and were lucky enough to hear a pipe band!

Corgarff Castle in the left photo below is sadly not open to the public right now. The tower was built in the mid 1500’s and then abandoned in the 1600’s. The lower tower was used as a Redcoats barracks from the mid 1700’s until 1831 when it was abandoned again.

Inverness Castle sits on Castle Hill overlooking the River Ness in Inverness. A fortification has existed on this site since the 6th century. There were several different castles built and destroyed until the castle that is there today. It was built in the 1800’s when it was rebuilt as a courthouse and prison. There are renovations going on now and they hope to open it to the public in 2025.

Dunvegan Castle and Gardens is on the Isle of Skye. It is the ancestral seat of the MacLeods for 800 years with the 30th Chief of Clan MacLeod, Hugh Magnus MacLeod, living in the family quarters now. It is worth the time to take the tour and then stroll through the magnificent gardens. They were just coming into bloom when we were there.

Eilean Donan Castle sits on rocky island where 3 lochs come together near the road coming back to the mainland from the Isle of Skye. It’s connected to the mainland by a causeway. The first fortified structure was built in the early 13th century. The castle went through many changes during different battles and eventually went to ruin after being neglected for 200 years. In 1911 Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap bought the island, restored the castle, and opened it to the public in 1932.

Urquhart Castle is along the shores of Loch Ness. It was one of Scotland’s largest castles. The original castle was built in the 13th century, but the ruins there now are mostly from when the castle was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th century. The castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. It was blown up in 1692 by the troops who had occupied it after the Jacobite uprising of 1689 so that it could not become a Jacobite base in the future. We looked for Nessie but we didn’t see her. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Stirling Castle, in Stirling, is surrounded on 3 sides by steep cliffs. The first photo is from afar as we were driving into Stirling on a cloudy, misty day. The second is the entrance to the castle and the third is the outside of the Great Hall. The castle dates from the early 12th century with most buildings there now built between 1490 and 1600. The castle changed hands 8 times in 50 years during the Wars of Independence.

I’ve just barley touched on the history of these fascinating castles and castle ruins. It is truly amazing when you think of how long ago they were built without all of our modern equipment!

I have lots more to share with you about our trip but since this post is so long, it will have to wait until another day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anita

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Crochet Blanket Stitch Dishcloth

Hi friends,

The Crochet Blanket Stitch Pattern is great for more than just blankets! It’s a super easy pattern created with single crochet and double crochet stitches that has a great texture. This Crochet Blanket Stitch Dishcloth is the perfect project for learning this fun stitch.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I stitched up my dishcloths using I Love This Cotton yarn and an H/5mm crochet hook. I used the colors White and Waterlily to stitch up my dishcloths. Waterlily is discontinued but there are several other variegated colors available.

Iโ€™ve included my easy pattern for the Crochet Blanket Stitch Dishcloth below along with a link to a free PDF if you want to easily print it.

Crochet Blanket Stitch Dishcloth

I Love This Cotton yarn 

H/5mm crochet hook

Stitches used in US terms:

Chain – ch

Single Crochet – sc

Double Crochet – dc

Slip Stitch – ss

Chain 24

Row 1: work 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook. *skip 2 stitches, work 1 sc and 2dc in next stitch* Repeat from * to * across to last 3 stitches, skip 2 stitches, sc in last stitch. Turn. (7 blocks across)

Row 2: ch 1 (counts as a sc). Work 2 dc in first stitch. *skip 2 stitches, work 1 sc and 2 dc in next stitch* Repeat from * to * across to last 3 stitches. Skip 2 stitches, sc in ch 1 of previous row. (7 blocks across)

Rows 3-15: Repeat Row 2 (13) times. 

Do not turn after last Row. 

Border – Begin working in Rounds

Round 1: ch 1. sc evenly around, working 3 sc in each corner. ss to first sc. 

Round 2: ch 1. sc in each stitch around, working 3 sc in each corner. ss to first sc. 

Fasten off and weave in ends. 

Finished size of dishcloth is approximately 6.5 by 6.5 inches. 

Here’s the link to the free PDF…

You can easily adjust the size of this pattern by simply increasing or decreasing the number of stitches in your beginning chain. Just make sure that your chain is in multiples of 3 and you can make your project any width you’d like. Then repeat Row 2 of the pattern to your desired length.

This is a great project for beginners or seasoned crocheters alike! And because you stitch up these cloths with cotton yarn, they can also make wonderful spa cloths. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Anita

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Jolly Santa – May 2023 Christmas Card

Hi friends,

My inspiration for May’s Christmas card came from {BYSHC} Sketch Challenge 33 on their Facebook page. BYSHC stands for “Build Your Stash Holiday Cardmakers”. This is such a fun group of cardmakers! A sketch is released each month for inspiration to make Christmas cards to add to your stash and they randomly draw a winner from all the cards submitted for some fun Christmas goodies. ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿผ๐ŸŽ„

You may remember that I’m designing a new Christmas card each month and making several of that design to add to my stash for later this year. The {BYSHC} Facebook page is a great place to find ideas! You can find the cards I’ve designed so far this year here- January, February, March, and April.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I was the lucky winner in last month’s drawing and this Jolly Santa from Your Next Stamp was in my prize package. He’s so perfect for the focal point for this month’s card! Your Next Stamp is a new company to me and they have so many cute things – you should check them out! I’m not sure if the Jolly Santa is still available, but I’m sure you will find lots of fun cute stamps and supplies on their site.

I stamped Santa with Memento Tuxedo Black ink on white card stock, colored him with Copic markers, and trimmed him close.

To make the card, I used {BYSHC} Sketch Challenge 33 as a guide. I attached a piece of green patterned paper to a white card. Then I attached a smaller piece of red patterned paper to the center and a strip of another patterned paper over that. I attached Santa to the card with foam tape.

Creating Christmas cards throughout the year helps to make the holiday season a tiny bit easier. Check out the {BYSHC} Facebook page (and the links to my monthly cards above ๐Ÿ˜‰) for lots of inspiration. ๐ŸŽ„

Anita

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Patriotic Oversized Initial

Hi friends,

Do you know about these huge unfinished wood letters and numbers at Hobby Lobby? They measure 18 inches tall and are just waiting for your creative touch. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I picked up the โ€œYโ€ (our last name is Young ๐Ÿ˜‰) a few months ago during a sale not really knowing what I would do with it. (Hobby Lobby puts their unfinished wood items on sale every couple of weeks or so.) I finally decided to decorate it to add to my patriotic decor for the Summer. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

I found some stars and stripes scrapbook papers at Hobby Lobby that were perfect to use on my initial. I turned my initial over and traced it on the back of the scrapbook paper and then cut out the pieces. I had to cut the red and white paper in 2 sections to fit the initial.

I painted the front, back, and sides of the initial with white acrylic paint to give it a more finished look. Then using Mod Podge with a foam brush, I adhered the paper pieces to the front of the initial. After it was dry, I brushed a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top of the paper and let it dry.

Using various coordinating ribbons, I created a bow the Re-Fabbed way and attached it to the initial using my hot glue gun. I finished off the bow by glueing on a white star button tied with red and white bakers twine.

This is a fun easy craft that you can make for any holiday. How fun would this be in a babyโ€™s nursery using the initial of their first name? Or a childโ€™s or teenโ€™s room? You could even make it in colors to match your decor and prop it up on your mantel. Maybe add flowers instead of a bow or any other fun embellishment you can find. Youโ€™re only limited by your imagination! ๐Ÿ˜Š An oversized initial would make a great gift! How will you embellish yours?

Anita

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A Grand Adventure – Graduation Card

Hi friends,

It’s graduation time and Unity Stamp Company has the best Winnie the Pooh graduation stamp set! I just love the sentiment in this set – graduation can certainly lead to a grand adventure. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŽ“

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

To make this fun card, I stamped Pooh with Memento Tuxedo Black ink on white card stock and colored him with Copic markers. Then I trimmed around him using my favorite Cutterbee detail scissors.

I stamped the sentiment with black ink, die cut around it using the Elegant Rectangle STAX Die-namics from My Favorite Things, and layered it to black card stock die cut with the same die set.

To make the card, I embossed a piece of white card stock with a graduation cap embossing folder (this is similar) and layered it to black card stock. I attached the piece to a white card and attached the sentiment piece to the card. Winnie the Pooh is attached to the card using foam tape.

What a fun way to send the graduate on their Grand Adventure!! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŽ“

I was also thinking that this sentiment would be great to add a little whimsy to a wedding card. What do you think?

Anita

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A Trio of Birthday Cards

Hi friends,

I have some fun birthday cards to share with you today! I used the same basic layout for all 3 cards, but by using different images and colors they look totally different.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

All 3 of my main stamped images are from Unity Stamp Company. The gnome is called Lifeโ€™s A Party Gnome, the cupcake is Everyday Celebration, and the girl is Hip Hip Hooray. My sentiments are stamps Iโ€™ve had forever – use your favorite birthday greeting stamps to make your cards.

I stamped each image with Memento Tuxedo Black ink on white card stock and colored them with Copic markers. I die cut around each image and layered them to coordinating card stock. I attached the images to patterned paper, overlapping the left edge slightly and trimming off the excess. Then I attached the entire piece to a white card.

The dies I used are Scallops & Rectangles nesting dies from Unity Stamp Company (they are currently unavailable – these are similar) for the gnome, Wonky Stitched Rectangle STAX Dienamics from MFT Stamps for the cupcake, and Scallops and Circles nesting dies from Unity Stamp Company for the girl.

I stamped the sentiments on white card stock and on 2 of the cards, I layered it to matching card stock trimmed into a banner shape on one side. All of the sentiments are attached to the card with foam tape. I finished off the cards with 3 sequins or dew drops.

It was fun to start out with one layout and create 3 different cards just by changing images and colors. What will you create?

Anita

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Crochet Patriotic Wreath

Hi friends,

I found this cute Crochet American Flag Wreath on Pinterest and knew that I wanted to make it for my front door for the Summer season. The pattern is by Heather Corrinne Crochets and it’s free! So fun!

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I used an H/5mm crochet hook to stitch up the wreath and a G/4mm hook for the stars. My yarn is I Love This Yarn in Red, White, and Royal.

The pattern works up quickly. It’s a long rectangle and you donโ€™t have to tie off your ends for each section! You just carry the yarn along the side and hide it when you sew the piece onto your wreath form. I love that!

The pattern is written for a 12 inch foam wreath. I made mine using a 14 inch wreath so I needed to adjust the pattern a little. I added one chain to the starting chain to fit around my wreath so I have 23 stitches across. I also added 2 extra rows to each red and white section – each section has 8 rows. The blue section has 50 rows. The total number of rows for my wreath is 154.

I tied a piece of ribbon around my wreath to use as a hanger. You can also tie a small piece of yarn to the back of the wreath between a few stitches if you want to have the hanger hidden.

Tip: I used stitch markers to hold my crocheted piece around my wreath while sewing up the seam. Made it so much easier!

This is a fun pattern to make and a great way to add a little patriotic color to your front door this Summer.

Anita

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Itโ€™s Your Birthday Card

Hi friends,

Do you have any of the Angie Girls stamps from Unity Stamp Company? There are so many to choose from and there is sure to be one to make the perfect card for any occasion.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This Angie Girl is aptly called Birthday Girl. I love the size of this stamp – she measures 3 by 5.25 inches! My finished card measures 5 by 7 inches. I made my card base by cutting card stock to measure 7 by 10 inches and folding it in half.

Tip: if you want to have crisply creased cards, a Scor-Pal is a great tool to have in your craft room.

I stamped her with Memento Tuxedo Black ink on white card stock and colored her with Copic markers. Then I used a postage stamp die to die cut around her. My die is from a set thatโ€™s no longer available, but this is similar. I attached her to a turquoise card and finished the card by adding 3 enamel dots.

This Birthday Girl stamp is so fun to color! And of course she can be done in any color combo. She is perfect for sending special birthday wishes! ๐Ÿฉต

Anita

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Crochet Rice Stitch Cotton Spa Cloth

Hi friends,

I have a fun, easy pattern for a Crochet Rice Stitch Cotton Spa Cloth for you! This is a simple pattern using Front Post Double Crochet and Back Post Double Crochet stitches in a one row repeat.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This pattern creates such a great texture – perfect for light exfoliation! I used I Love This Cotton yarn in Sunset Seafoam with an H/5mm crochet hook to stitch up my spa cloths. And they only take about 1 ounce of yarn so you can get 3 spa cloths out of one 3 ounce skein – very cost effective. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you need a refresher on crocheting front and back post stitches, there is a video tutorial here. And for the foundation half double crochet, this tutorial is great.

You can find the pattern below and I’ve also included a link to a free PDF if you’d like to easily print it.

Crochet Rice Stitch Cotton Spa Cloth

I Love This Cotton Sunset Seafoam 

H/5mm crochet hook

Stitches used in US terms:

Foundation half double crochet – fhdc

Chain – ch

Double crochet – dc

Front post double crochet – fpdc

Back post double crochet – bpdc

Single crochet – sc

Row 1: work 21 fhdc. Turn. (21 stitches)

Row 2: ch 2. (counts as 1st stitch) Skip 1st stitch.  *FPDC in next stitch, BPDC in next stitch. Repeat from * to * across to last 2 stitches.  FPDC in next stitch, DC in last stitch. Turn. (21 stitches)

Rows 3-13: Repeat Row 2 for each row. (21 stitches) 

Do not turn after last row. 

Border – begin working in rounds. 

Round 1: ch 1. sc evenly around, working 3 sc in each corner. Join with ss to first sc. 

Round 2: ch 1. sc in each stitch around, working 3 sc in each corner. Join with ss to first sc. 

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Finished dishcloth measures approximately 6.5 by 6.5 inches.

Here’s the link to the free PDF…

Cotton Spa Cloths make such a great gift! Mother’s Day is just around the corner – stitch up a few of these, tie them with some pretty ribbon, and add her favorite body wash and some pretty flowers for a sweet gift for Mom. ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒธ

Anita

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Big Birthday Wishes

Hi friends,

Sometimes pretty patterned paper is just the inspiration you need to make a great card! This paper is from the Kindness is Magic paper pack from Unity Stamp Company. Itโ€™s a 6×6 inch size with 8 different designs that have all the Spring feels.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I pulled out some coordinating card stock and the Say It Big die set from Unity Stamp Company to make my card.

First, I tied some yellow ribbon into a knot and attached it to my patterned paper. Then I attached the piece to a yellow card.

I die cut the word โ€œbirthdayโ€ from red card stock and glued it to the matching background die cut from blue card stock. I love this Quickie Glue Pen for adhering thinner die cut pieces.

I stamped the word โ€œhappyโ€ with red ink on yellow card stock, punched it with an oval punch (similar to this), and layered it to a larger oval punched from red card stock (similar to this). My โ€œhappyโ€ stamp is from the Oh Hello Spring stamp set from Unity Stamp Company.

Both the big birthday and happy pieces are attached to the card with foam tape.

The colors in this patterned paper are just so happy! What a fun way to wish someone special Big Birthday Wishes! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Anita

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