Sisters Garden and Bloom

Sisters Garden and Bloom in Kalona, Iowa, are two wonderful shops in rural Iowa that always contain treasures for the avid hunter of old and new curiosities.

Driving up to these stores you know you are in for something different

Driving up to these stores you know you are in for something different

Vintage Bike with Christmas Lights

A line of vintage bikes decorated with fairy lights


Of the two shops, Sisters Garden has more vintage and antique items than Bloom


Mirrors are a key element to the decorating of the shop, they add depth and wonder to the space

Peeling Paint Cabinet

A wonderful old cabinet with many layers of peeling paint is reflected in another mirror

Romantic Dark Dresser

The stores themselves, are old, happily distressed, farm houses.

Lace Pennants

Sisters Garden uses many soft light sources to add a sense of drama and fantasy to each room

Vintage Vanity

Never mind that man in the mirror, just my assistant, ignore him

Bloom in Kalona, Iowa

The Bloom shop is very eclectic

Bloom Shop in Kalona, Iowa

Bloom is a brighter, more retro, version of Sisters Garden

Happy Birthday Pennants

I just love all the layers to look at in the shop; though, I seemed to have wondered into this shot

Painted Stairs

The upstairs of the shop is even more whimsical than the ground floor…

Tin Stove

The upstairs is devoted to new and old children’s toys!

Vintage Erector Set

My husband may have squealed when he saw this Erector Set, don’t tell anyone

Bloom Shop

The view from the loft is great


My favorite part of Sisters Garden and Bloom is this greenhouse built from old windows and doors

Sisters Garden and Bloom are two great shops that are always changing.

Campbell Center

Recently, I took a week-long course at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies in Mount Carrol, Illinois. Not only was the course highly informative, I also had a blast exploring the early 20th century campus. One evening we were able to go into the old gymnasium that hadn’t been used since the seventies.

Campbell Center Gymnasium

The gym is not very exciting from the outside but wait until you see inside!

The old pool in the basement of the gym

The old pool in the basement of the gym is in remarkably good condition, don’t worry about the mold in the corners, it adds character

Bathroom Sinks

The bathrooms were not so well-preserved

Bathroom Stalls in Abandoned Gym

The dilapidated bathroom stalls

Early 20th Century Gym

I am not sure what this room was used for, maybe it was a locker room?

Basketball Court

The basketball court, complete with basketball

Theater in Gymnasium

There was even a theater at the end of the basketball court, painted on the wall were the names of the crew of “The Silver Whistle” performed in 1959

Basketball Court and Theater From Above

This was taken from a small room overlooking the basketball court

Ping Pong Table in Abandoned Gym

A Ping Pong table in the room overlooking the basketball court

Shower Stalls in Old Gym

This was the old shower room

Sinks in ealry 20th century gym

I took this picture by sticking my arm around the corner because I could not walk into this room due to all the rubble

Old Room in Gym

I was not able to explore all of the rooms because the light was fading quickly, I pretty much just shot these last two photos on the fly while I was finding my way out of the gym

Last Room in the Old Gym

One last glimpse of the old gym

I loved being able to explore this old building, what a rare treat!


The George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland

The George Peabody Library is a beautiful library that is a must see for any bibliophile in the Baltimore, Maryland area. The library, designed by architect Edmund G. Lind, was opened in 1878.

Stacks of the George Peabody Library

The stacks of the library are impressive and awe-inspiring

George Peabody Library

Five tiers of balconies surround the reading area of the library

George Peabody Library Skylight

The cathedral-like space is heightened with the giant skylight that stretches the width of the room

George Peabody Library Staircase

The public is not allowed to go upstairs into the stacks, but there is plenty to entertain the curios on the first floor

George Peabody Library Card Catalog and a Tiny Hippo

You can browse the card catalog, they didn’t seem to have any books on Tiny Hippos, though

George Peabody Library Tables with Tiny Hippo

There are plenty of study tables that can be used for research purposes

George Peabody Library Magic Lantern

I found this strange Magic Lantern device, is it bigger on the inside, perhaps?

George Peabody Library EXIT Light

We had a great time in the beautiful George Peabody Library


Kew Gardens the Pagoda and the Japanese Gateway

There are many wonderful and unique attractions that can be viewed at Kew Gardens.

The serene Garden of Harmony with the Chokushi-Mon (Imperial Envoy’s Gateway) are gems in Kew’s landscape.

The Japanese Gateway perched above the Japanese garden. The Garden of Harmony was designed in the style of the Momayama period of the original gateway.

The gateway is a four-fifths replica of the 1573 Nishi Hongan-Ji gate in Kyoto, Japan. The gateway was created for the Japan-British Exhibition in London in 1910. Once the Exhibition was over the gateway was dismantled and reconstructed on Mossy Hill, near the Pagoda in Kew Gardens.

Pagoda from the Garden of Harmony

The Great Pagoda was completed in 1762 under the supervision of Sir William Chambers from a design imitating traditional Chinese pagodas.

The ten story-high Great Pagoda is 163 ft high, making it an excellent landmark of Kew Gardens

The Great Pagoda offers a lovely shady spot in which to rest

We ended our tour of Kew Gardens with a relaxing break under the shade offered by the Great Pagoda.