Global Discovery Vacations


sunset on the beach


Returning from vacation can be stressful. Re-entry into the regular routine slow for me.

I keep dreaming of the beautiful beach we saw in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was our first trip there, it definitely won’t be our last.

We stayed at the Plantation Resort, part of Global Discovery Vacations. I call it a travel club. The way it works is you pay a one time fee up front to join, then a small yearly fee.

We get two weeks a year at any resort they are affiliated with, anywhere in the world for $189.00 per week for a one bedroom suite with kitchen, living room, laundry, etc.

You can upgrade to a 2 or 3 bedroom if you choose, but different rates do apply.

It has been well worth it to us.

We have taken several vacations in the last two years and they have been great.

The facilities are clean, quiet, attractive and very serviceable.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the inside of them, my mind is always on the view.

pool view

I actually felt sorry for the folks back home in the subzero temperatures. It wasn’t that warm while we were in the Gulf area, but even a cold day at the beach is warmer than a subzero day back home.

Eye candy for the soul.

The resort had several pools both indoors and out. We pretty much had the entire place to ourselves.

There were a few other midwesterner’s around during the off season, but not many.

The off season is Jan-Feb. Peak season begins in March and runs through December.

balcony view

We found out that our room with this stellar view rents for more than $300.oo per night during peak times.


star fish

While we were strolling on the beach, we found lots of these little star fishes had washed up on shore during the night. Isn’t it just adorable?


The pieces of driftwood on the shore were in all shapes and sizes. This log was huge, I would have loved to haul it home and put it in the garden.

The white sand almost looks like snow doesn’t it?


broken shells

Because of the cold temps and rough seas, there were lots of shells on the beach. Many of them were broken, but that doesn’t deter me.

I see great beauty in brokenness.

ferris wheel

On one of the colder days, we amused ourselves at the local shopping mall. The Wharf is a great spot with lots of unique shops and restaurants.

driftwood pelican

This adorable coffee shop specializes in beach art and coffee.

It has become my most favorite place in the entire world.

This pelican was made out of driftwood. If I could have figured out how to cram it into my suitcase, I would have brought it home with me.

It is masterpiece in my book.

brick wall

Another day we visited Fort Morgan, a civil war era fort on the Bay of Mobile.

I love historic spots like this.

The fort is built into the ground at the tip of the bay, making it is almost invisible from the sea. There is another fort across the bay on the other side. Next trip, we will explore that one as well.

This was the site of a number of important sea battles during the civil war. They also have an interesting museum and gift shop.

I love how the inside wall is aged and mossy.


Other parts of the fort are just as interesting. The salty sea air makes a layer of white crust on the aging bricks.

Can you imagine this place filled with soldiers and cannons?

old house

This beautiful house sits at the end of fort. It was once the command center for the entire place.

I love the big porch and the unique windows.

training plane


Since the weather was so cool, we didn’t really spend a lot of time on the beach. We really enjoyed our day trip to Pensacola, FL which was about 30 minutes away.

We spent the entire day the National Naval Aviation Museum.

We love air planes, and have a long history with pilots in our family.


blue angels

We took in a couple of flight simulations, and even an IMAX movie about the Blue Angels while we were there. They are so impressive to see up close.

uss enterprise2

My favorite plane had to be the USS Enterprise.

I knew the Enterprise existed, I knew it!

uss enterprise

Even the propeller was massive.

the hot shop

Nearby Orange Beach is the home of this glass blowing workshop called The Hot Spot.

You can watch them make glass, or even take a class and try it yourself.

Very impressive.

Glass flowers

Aren’t these glass flowers just beautiful?

st. louis arch

The trip home was long and snowy, we stopped briefly at the St. Louis Arch on the way.

That blob on the photo is the sun showing through the clouds just before it snowed.

It snowed a lot.

the arch

The Arch is very impressive up close. If you are brave and not claustrophobic, you can go up in the elevator to the top.

I was not so brave.

old court house

Across the park sits the Old Courthouse. I was surprised how similar it is to the court house we have here at home.

So much to discover!

I hope you have enjoyed the tour.

Are you planning a spring vacation?

Where to?


Introducing our Ragdoll Cat: Pixel

Our Christmas kitty has finally come out of hiding. It's taken weeks for her to adjust to us. #pets #kiiityproblems

A photo posted by Jessica Cramer (@designermom4) on

Our new Ragdoll kitty has finally come out of hiding. We got her just several weeks ago, but she apparently was a stray and had never been around people. It has taken a lot of coaxing for her to get used to us.

We named our kitty Pixel. She is a dilute Bi-color Ragdoll Calico. Apparently the Rag Doll breed is known for it’s loyal, outgoing personality and is generally friendly and cuddly. We will patiently wait while she overcomes her shyness to fulfill her Ragdoll destiny. Did you know that all calicos are female? My son informed me of this tidbit. Where he picks these things up, I will never know.

At first, she would just come out in the evenings, and would sit on our lap while we watched TV, but would disappear completely during the daytime. Recently, she has decided that we are okay. She’s been slowly coming into the kitchen or living room, even during the day, but will run and hide the minute she hears any sort of noise. Yesterday, we got snow and she spent the afternoon with me on the couch, staring out the window at the snowflakes. I did have to coax her to stay put with a few little kitty treats, but she spent the majority of the day out of her usual hiding spot. We are making progress, but it is slow.

Bribery is my specialty. What feline animal can resist tasty fishy treats?

Ragdolls were given their name because they tend to go “limp as a rag doll” when you pick them up. They will hang limp over your arm when carried. Interesting, huh? She does seem to behave like a wet noodle when being held.

Ragdolls are easily trained, and will not get their mature coloring until they are between 3-4 years old. Pixel is just over a year old, so it will be fun to see how her coloring changes with time. She has green eyes, which I find rather interesting considering that the Ragdoll breed is known for it’s blue eyes. She also sheds very little, which is great for those of us who don’t like to clean.

I am still experiencing some troubles with my website, I hope to have everything ironed out soon. Today’s issue is that it won’t let me upload pictures for some reason. You can see what I am up to on Instagram @designermom4.

I hope Pixel will become a regular fixture in my photos, so I wanted to introduce her to you.

Have a great day!




Teal Thanksgiving Decor

Teal tablesetting



It is snowing here today.  Can’t believe it! We haven’t had a major snow before Thanksgiving in many years.

I spent my day dreaming of Teal Thanksgiving Decor by the light of the fireplace.

I was thrilled to find the teal accessories I had been dreaming of in the stores this week.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the stuff of your dreams, you know?

Perhaps it’s just me.

I started with these beautiful hurricane candle holders from World Market. They were a bargain at $4.99. I filled them with little pinecones and wooden circles from the craft store.

I spotted the teal napkins at World Market as well. I bought a big stack of them for the holiday buffet table. You can never have too many napkins at our house.

I love the colored napkins with my white dishes. It’s the only set of dishes we own. They are old and chipped, but I love them anyway.

White goes with everything in my book.

The cups and saucers are a thrift store find, they don’t match a thing and I like them that way.


 I came across the same color teal fabric that matched the napkins at JoAnn Fabrics. I didn’t see a matching teal table cloth in the World Market Store, and buying a table cloth wasn’t really in the budget anyway.

I scored two yards of this linen blend for a whopping $7.00 with the weekly coupon. Yes!

A tablecloth was born!

I decided to not have a traditional center piece this Thanksgiving.

The food is the focus of the holiday, why not use it for the center piece too?

Teal tablesetting-3

I found this slate cheese board at Marshall’s recently. I have always wanted one of these. We eat more cheese than any other family on Earth. It was a must have.

I picked up a few veggies for display with the cheese, some artichokes and a couple heads of radicchio.

Something about the purples and greens in the same space together calls to me. These are some of my favorite colors.

A few pieces of fresh rosemary complete each place setting. I love the way it smells.

There will be lots of rosemary present in our Thanksgiving meal!

Teal tablesetting-7

The “give thanks” reference on the cheese board comes from the lyrics to the Shaker song Simple Gifts by Joseph Brackett which was written in 1848.

 For some reason, this song makes me think of the Thanksgiving holiday and counting all our blessings, no matter how simple they are.

The song goes like this:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Just so you know, it has taken me all day to complete this post. I think that’s a record for the longest post ever! I am forcing myself to learn to use a new photo editing program, Adobe Lightroom. It will take me some time to get used to it, but I know it will be worth the trouble.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving yet?

Basement Shelves


 The basement renovation project is pretty much complete. It’s not perfect, but for now it will have to do. It’s hard to know when to stop on one of these projects. You could put hundreds of dollars and hours and hours of time into something that you aren’t really sure about.

We have a one year lease at this location and will probably move again next summer. It really limits your decor options.

My original goal was to have an entertaining space, and a place to watch TV.  This room fits the bill, there are plenty more things we could do, but for the amount of time we plan to spend here, we are done with improvements.

I would love to buy new furniture, but in my experience if you buy furniture to fit one location and then move, it never has quite the same effect. It isn’t worth spending the money at this time. Sigh. I wish it was.

The last project in the entertainment room is the basement shelving. We considered lots of options, but none of them were very cost effective.

My dream shelves are from Crate and Barrel. The dream shelves are retailing at a whopping $1500.00. Needless to say, my dreams are much bigger than my budget.

The lower cost option, is just average shelving. We purchased two white metal wall brackets at the home improvement store and several sets of shelf supports for less than $20.00.

The white brackets are almost invisible on the white walls. It’s the next best thing to a fancy set of shelves.

The boards we used for the shelves were found laying around in the garage, a little trimming and they fit the brackets just right.

Ignore the ugly chair, it’s one of my future projects. Or perhaps a future donation to the thrift store. I still haven’t decided.

The basement shelves hold vintage board games that we love to play during the long winters.

I found the vintage photo equipment for a few dollars at a thrift store, it actually still works. I love playing around with it.

I painted a couple of old mail boxes to match the basement red and white color scheme. They make great storage for cards, dice and small games.

 The vintage EXIT sign adds some personality to the mix.

This will have to do for the finished decor. There are several more projects to finish before the end of the summer. The days are going by so fast.

I am working on a closet desk space, a home office and have a few more dark, dreary rooms to paint before the summer is over.

Hope to get an early start tomorrow!

LIFE Gallery Wall

Have you seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?”  

Walter’s life is part of the famed LIFE magazine. He lives through the photos of others.

His gallery wall was a magazine.

We loved that movie. It was so inspiring! Mostly because, we feel like Walter Mitty much of the time.

We get to go lots of places in our gallery wall imagination, but when it comes right down to it, we have never really been anywhere. I am sure there are probably many people who feel that way.

We have lived LIFE to it’s fullest, though. 

I was captivated by the movie, and decided to make “LIFE” a part of our basement gallery wall to share with others.

I started with some plain canvases from Walmart that I painted with red craft paint. The letters are chip board, painted with white craft paint, then glued on to the canvases.

I am looking forward to hanging all of our pictures on this wall.

Our “LIFE”: photos of friends, family, football, soccer games, the crew team, you name it.

Basically, this gallery will be LIFE as we see it.

I may even add a photo of our recently deceased chicken. Something ate her in the night and we awoke to a pile of feathers in her place this morning.

It’s part of our chicken’s life too, being eaten. Sigh.

The no-sew pillow is one I made recently with fabric from the Online Fabric Store, I will have a separate post with a tutorial coming soon!