Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Our Fall Vacation to South Dakota, Day 5: Crazy Horse Memorial

This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota.  To start at the beginning, go HERE.  The rest of the posts in chronological order are  HEREHEREHERE HERE,  HERE,  HERE,  HEREHEREHERE, HERE, and HERE!

On Day 5 after we spent six hours hiking to the top of Black Elk Peak and back we went back to our hotel to rest awhile, shower, change and get a nice dinner.  At night we went to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, which was located only a few miles from our hotel.

Now a lot of people told us not to waste our time here, but we went anyway because they had a special "Night Blast" (which is only done twice a year, and we just happened to be there that weekend), and a "Light Laser Show".  And you know what, I'm so happy we didn't listen to the naysayers because we not only had a wonderful time but we were so moved by the generosity of the Ziolkowski family and all they have done to memorialize Crazy Horse and the Lakota Tribe.

The Crazy Horse Memorial does not accept any government funding, all the work is done through private contributions and the funds raised at the memorial.  So it is worth going just to help financially support them alone.  Because it doesn't accept government funding, it is more costly than Mt. Rushmore.  They charge for how many people are in your car:  1 person is $12.00, 2 people is $24.00, 3 or more people is $30.00.  Admission covers parking, admission to the museums, and the viewing deck.  If you want to get closer to the sculpture you have to pay extra.  They have vans that will drive you up closer to the monument.  Those are $4.00 per person and they are only available late in the afternoon or on weekends when they are not working on the monument.  


You actually can see the Crazy Horse Memorial right from the highway and never pay to get inside.  However, I don't know if they'll let you pull over on the highway and take a few pictures, plus the admission cost is for charity, so why not go in and support this worthy cost?

The Memorial has a beautiful museum called "The Indian Museum Of North America".  It is home to large collection of art and artifacts of over 300 Native American tribes.  Unfortunately we didn't spend much time in the museum because we got there late and needed to save a seat for the Laser Light Show.  They have limited benches, so we grabbed a spot and my husband and I took turns looking around while the other saved our seats.

The compound also has a nice restaurant and a beautiful gift shop.


When you first enter the museum the employees direct you to a movie theater where you learn all about Crazy Horse and the history of the monument.  I was moved to tears multiple times hearing of the dedication and the sacrifices of the Ziolkowski family to create this monument to honor the Lakota Tribe.  Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski arrived in the Black Hills in 1947 and worked on the monument until his death in 1982 at the age of 74.  He never took a paycheck for his work on the monument, and he had 10 children!  He said "By Carving Crazy Horse, if I can give back to the Indian some of his pride and create a means to keep alive his culture and heritage, my life will have been worthwhile."  How many people do you know would work so hard for no money and for such a reason;  especially if they had ten children!

If you don't pay the extra $4.00 dollars for the van ride, this is as close as you can get to the monument.  They do have viewing lenses you can look through too for a few quarters.



The monument memorializes the Native American Tasunke Witco.  He led a band of Lakota warriors against Custer's Seventh U.S. Cavalry Battalion in 1876.   This battle is known as "The Battle of Little Bighorn" or "Custer's Last Stand".   Without his successful leadership, the battle would have been much different.  Crazy Horse died in 1877 when he went to Ft. Robinson Nebraska under a flag of truce.  When he arrived some misunderstanding arose due to a bad translator and they started to arrest him.  When Crazy Horse realized he was being arrested,  he resisted,  and a soldier killed him with his bayonet.


In addition to the museum, you can also see a glimpse of the "Sculptor's Home and Studio" and visit the "Mountain Carving Gallery".  I thought this area was so fascinating.  There is a wall of pictures showing the entire process of carving the mountain until present and also a model depicting what it will eventually look like.





I love how they placed the model example right in front of the actual carving so you can back up and compare the two at the same time.  It really helped me to visualize what it will eventually become.




Here are some of the old pictures that were in this gallery.



We happened to be there when the Ziolkowski family was having a birthday party honoring their grandfather.  It was a private party so they closed the restaurant, but would you believe they invited EVERYONE in for a piece of birthday cake after the night blast?  I thought that was so sweet, and so typical of this family.  At first I thought there would never be enough cake for all the people that were there, but there was!  And it was so good too!


As we awaited night to fall and the Laser show to begin, we were blessed with Native American story tellers and dancers.



At night the monument is lit up.  It's so beautiful to see at night.  



Now, I don't have any pictures of the laser show or the night blasts as my camera would not work in such darkness, but you can see pictures HERE and I will tell you a bit about them.

The "Legends In Light Laser Show" is held every night from Memorial Day through September 29th.  The monument turns into a screen where lasers light up the night sky and shares the history and culture of Native Americans.  It's very beautiful and moving to watch.

The "Night Blasts" are only twice a year:  June 26th and September 6th.  This is pyrotechnic show and is so exciting to watch.  You must look at the pictures on their website.  The explosions start at the mountain base and travel all the way to the top of the monument.

There is so much more history to share of Crazy Horse and the origins of the memorial, but it's way too much for me to cover them here.  If you're interested in learning more,  it's all on the website linked above.

I do hope if you're ever in this area that you do not skip this memorial.  It was quite the emotional learning experience for us, and I also think it really rounded out our trip.  There is so much history in the area, especially of General Custer, it was nice to learn about the Native American history too.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

How To Give Old Furniture A New Look With Chalk Style Paint

I do not like to paint furniture.  And frankly, I tend to not even like most painted furniture.  It drives me crazy when someone takes a beautiful antique and paints it.   But I had this old hutch in my dining room that's been bothering me for years.  I felt something had to be done about it.  It wasn't an antique.  It was a poorly made piece of junk I picked up at Goodwill for $10.00.  It's only redeeming value was that it had curved glass.

                          BEFORE                            AFTER


I wanted to paint this piece of furniture for two reasons:  1) It was already painted a high gloss dark brown and I didn't like the way it looked, and 2) Every piece of furniture in this room was also brown and I really wanted at least one piece of furniture in the room that was not brown.  I did not want to paint the table and chairs (way too much work), the other china hutch is an antique in perfect condition, that leaves the piano and the grandfather clock, neither of which I would ever be stupid enough to paint.


I've seen a lot of successful before and after furniture make overs using chalk paint, so that's what I decided to try.  Following the instructions, I first sanded my hutch so the paint would adhere better.  I used an electric sander but I made the mistake of having the wrong sandpaper loaded and I gouged the wood.  It didn't really matter, as paint covers a multitude of sins and I was going for the distressed look anyway, but as a caution to my readers:  use fine sanding paper!

I sanded outside on my back porch so I wouldn't get the dust inside my house.  It was a warm winter day (for us Wisconites anyway!).


Next, I put on one coat of primer followed by two coats of chalk style paint.  The instructions said only one was necessary but I could still see brush strokes after only one coat, so I added a second coat.  However, I should have only used one because it shows the distressing better. You want to see a little bit of the color underneath.  I ended up covering all the old color with chalk style paint.  They do sell decorative glazes to go with their chalk style paint.  If I had to do it all over again, I'd use the "Smoked Glaze" Topcoat, to add a little more interest to the piece.


The next day, after the paint was completely dry, I used FINE sanding paper (see, I learn my lessons) and I sanded the edges, hinges, and handle.  My husband thought I should have distressed it a bit more, but it's a very elegant room that the hutch is in, so I didn't want to overdue it.  Just like my jeans, I like them slightly distressed, not with huge gaping holes and rips.  😊

When I was done sanding, I vacuumed up all the chalk dust then I wiped it clean with a damp cloth and let it dry.  The last step was to add two coats of top coat, which is basically a matte wax to protect the chalk style paint.



The inside of the hutch was already painted white so I didn't have to do anything with that.  I loaded the hutch with my vintage peach lustre ware as I thought it would be so pretty for spring.


Since the walls are ultra white, I painted the hutch "Aged Grey" so it would stand out from the wall a little.  It turned out a little lighter than the paint card.  I wish I would have chosen "Country Grey", as it's a little bit darker.  However, I LOVE the way it turned out.  I love that I finally have one piece of furniture in this room that isn't brown.  And, I think the chalk style paint really suits this piece of furniture much better than the high gloss paint job it previously had.  Now I'm tempted to tackle my table (at least the top as it's all scratched up anyway).  What do you think?


In the picture below you can get a better idea of the distressing.  It was super easy to distress as it's "Chalk" paint.  When I was done sanding, the table top and my hands were covered in chalk dust.  It reminded me of my childhood school days when I had to clean the erasers (yes, I'm that old!).


There are many varieties of chalk style paint on the market.  I used the Rust-Oleum brand.  I bought a quart, which was way too much.  I think I only used 1/8 of what was in the can.  These are the two products I used:


I am absolutely thrilled with my "new" piece of furniture that only cost me $20.00 to update.  I already had a brush, sanding paper, and primer so I did not count that in the refinishing cost.


So what about you?  Do you like chalk painted furniture?  Have you ever painted furniture before?  I'd love to hear from you!

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, March 18, 2019

An Off The Shoulder Top From Stitch Fix

I have read so many blog posts from bloggers who attended New York fashion week and came back saying  that "Off The Shoulder" styles are out.  Yet, I still see them in stores and Stitch Fix just sent me this top.  I think often when Pantone comes out with a new "Color of the Year" or something premiere's at a fashion show, it isn't until a full year later (or longer in my neck of the woods) that you see it in stores.  So I'm guessing we still have one more year to enjoy our off-the-shoulder styles ladies!  And that's good news, as I only wore once a couple of mine that I purchased last year .


There were many things I liked about this top, first, I thought it was super flattering.  It had a nice length, and it covered everything I generally like to hide.  I also liked how comfortable it was.  It is made of a super soft knit and it felt so good against my skin.


I also really liked these fun tie sleeves.  Anything with little ties is super trendy right now:  shirts that tie at the waist, neckties (like little kerchiefs), and sleeve ties are everywhere this spring.


Because the print is so busy, I just wore a silver bracelet for jewelry.




Now I know many of you are always curious as to what hubby thinks of my pieces from Stitch Fix.  He really liked this top, but he said "I like anything that shows your skin".  Ha- ha!  Typical husband response.

I liked the top, but I wasn't thrilled with the pattern and I was also concerned how much wear I would get out of it knowing that off-the-shoulder tops are on their way out.  I also already own three off-the-shoulders tops.  But, you will have to wait until Friday to find out if I kept this top or returned it.  I know, I'm so bad!


On Friday I will show you the last piece I received in this box from Stitch Fix and then I will review the entire Fix letting you know what I kept and what I sent back.  Plus, I'll have the results of my Instagram poll.

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, use my REFERRAL CODE to receive $25.00 off your very first box!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!