Archive for the ‘Places I love’ Category

Life Is Good

October 27th, 2015

vaniniI know that my posts have been few and far between, but we have been traveling here, there and everywhere.

The best part of it all is that I’ve been able to spend it with three of the people I love most in life:  Marcel and my parents.      I’ve also started a love affair with Italy and can’t wait to share more about our adventures there.

Right now, we are enjoying the last couple of days before my parents leave and head home.   I will miss them so much, but I’m more than grateful for the time we’ve been able to spend with them making memories.

The plus is that once we say goodbye, we will be able to start counting down for our next visit- which will be for an amazing wedding next year for one of my favorite couples in the world.

The photo to the right is the result of ‘some’ of the homemade artisan bread mom & I made at a bread workshop with a group of 8 friends.     The olive oil- Vanini Osvaldo, I brought back from Lenno, Italy and I am in LOVE.   If you have the opportunity to purchase some, by all means DO SO!

I have lots of ideas and such bubbling, but right now-   I am going to enjoy the last couple of days with my parents.

Life is indeed- GOOD!  GREAT!

Some Gave All.. Remembering

September 30th, 2013

normandyFor as long as I can remember,  I’ve had it on my ‘Bucket List’ to someday see the American National Cemetery in Normandy, France.   I never had a real plan of when I would visit, but I knew that someday- I would see it.

When I was planning our travels earlier this year, I realized that when we were going to be in Calais, France to take the ferry over to England- that Normandy (Omaha Beach) was just about four hours away.     Even though I knew our travel schedule wouldn’t allow for us to spend a lot of time there;  I talked to our travel companions and asked what they thought-    and the answer was a very enthusiastic YES!

A week ago yesterday, my desire became a reality.   My grandfather fought in WWII in France, and whether he was in Normandy is unclear to me.   Mom isn’t sure as he didn’t talk about the war often, and with grandma gone- it’s a part of family history that is lost.

There really are NO words-   over 9,000 soldiers (and four civilians) are buried there.   All Americans.     I’m grateful to all of those who fought- and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.    I believe Normandy, France  and the D-Day beaches are something that every American should see.

The welcome center is a beautiful account of everything that happened, and yet so moving beyond words.   I cried through the whole thing-  at one point inside the welcome center, I had to bite my lip to keep from bursting out into a case of the ugly cries.   I couldn’t help it.   It was so powerful.

The men and women who are part of the Armed Services are the true heros of this world.    Take a moment to thank them.

When you look back on the history and think of those who have served and fought-   think about how things may have been different had they not.


Gardening and Gratitude

May 25th, 2012

  I was thrilled that today we were able to finished getting the flowers planted, the little fountain drained, cleaned and replinished with water, plus with time left over to do all the weekend grocery shopping.   There is something about being able to check something big off my ‘to do’ list that makes me smile.

Right now-  as I type this- I’m sitting outside- I can hear the birds singing, the wind in the trees and the sound of the little fountain working it’s magic in the corner.   It’s a gorgeous ‘almost’ summer day and I feel not only happy, but joyous and content.   That’s a lot I know- but my cup runneth over!

Before you wonder-  it doesn’t mean that I have the perfect life.  Far from it, but what I do know is that at any given second, I can think of many things to be grateful for- and those things are what I wish to focus on.   Being grateful.   Do you know how much true gratitude can change your life?

I believe I am a grateful person, but being one who is always learning and believing there is always room for improvement- I’ve decided to start focusing even more on the things in life I’m grateful for-  and that is everything.    Think you have nothing to be grateful for?    Put your hand over your heart and close your eyes-   Feel it beating and know that it’s keeping you alive.  If that isn’t something to be grateful for- then what is?   Trust me friends- there’s always something, and right now- I’m grateful for this moment where the sun is shining, the wind is whistling through the trees and I’m able to sit outside on this gorgeous day and tap out these words to you.


May 17th, 2012

Lately I’ve been doing a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of thinking about traveling. It’s no secret that I love to travel- love to explore new places and see new things, learn about new cultures. I think I’d rather travel the world and write about it or share my perspective more than I love to make cupcakes, and believe me- that’s a LOT!

One place that I’ve never been and that has been on my to visit list for a while is New York City- the BIG Apple if you will. It’s somewhere that I could have visited ages ago, but the truth is- I don’t want to go until I can experience it with Samantha. I want the two of us go to on a girls trip (and something that’s definitely in our plans) and take the city by storm. I have no doubt that I’ll enjoy it at its fullest if I experience it with her for the first time. I also think that it would be fun to rent private rooms as opposed to getting hotel rooms, since I know how pricy it can be- especially in the center of all the action. She’s been many times- and there are so many little tips and tricks to see the city and enjoy everything without falling into all the touristy traps that so many fall in.

The same thing with London. I went this past year with my parents, but it’s on my ‘to visit again’ list for next spring. I fell in love with everything about London, and it surprised me because while I knew I would like it- I didn’t expect to love it. There are so many things we missed seeing, but I want to go back and experience even more of this great city and this time rather than staying in a hotel, we may also opt for staying in private rooms. There are many possibilities.

Right now- my main travel focus is on our upcoming trip home. I can’t wait to spend time with everyone, to shop- and just be in the presence of those who have loved me the longest. It’s going to be wonderful. And yes- there will be cupcakes, lots of cupcakes.

September 19-25 (Photo 365)

September 25th, 2011

September 19-

Something I’ve noticed a lot of while in Germany and Austria was the presence of  lions.  It seemed like everywhere I looked there lions-  door knobs, door knockers, statudes, built into the wood-work, etc.    I’m not sure of the actual significance and I haven’t had the opportunity to Google it, but I will admit that being a cat lover- the Lion has always been my favorite ‘cat’.   It also reminds me of courage (something I tend to be lacking in some areas as of  late), which probably comes from the Wizard of Oz and Cowardly Lion days.   

I actually took quite a few pictures of various lions while we were away- including the one you see here.   You will probably be able to tell from this week’s pictures that I’ve been fascinated with fixtures this week.  

September 20-

We left Germany- heading back across the border on Tuesday, so we spent most of the day driving.  It was also diddy’s birthday- so what better thing to find was yet another fixture but with bright red and dark iron and somewhat in the shape of a heart.    (at least it looks like a heart to me).

I often wonder if there is a story behind these ornate door fixtures and what they meant in that time period.   To me- this one means love-  and I definitely love my family and feel so blessed to be able to spend an extended vacation with them traveling through Europe.

September 21-

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love quotations- so when I saw this on a store window I got particularly excited.

I am not one who believes in coincidence and while I do try my best to live in the moment- I sometime get bogged down with all the things on my ‘to do’ list- instead of just prioritizing and going through when I can.    Lately it has kept me from enjoying some special moments to the fullest- so I considered it a reminder.   One that I’m grateful for.

September 22-

More of my current fascination with fixtures.    I was surrounded with beauty on the day that I took this picture- but yet the one thing I seemed to notice was something that everyone else seemed to walk past- the iron fence. 

I love the detail of it- and the contrast between the old iron and the  color of the building behind it.    Little things of beauty-  they are all around.

September 23-

It is no secret that I love color- so when I came across this in a Haarlem storefront window- I couldn’t help but smile.   I actually took quite a few shots, from many different angles, and this ended up being my favorite.

I can’t help but wonder if someone painted it since it has aged, or if it was always brightly colored.  Something tells me that it was painted that way in the last few years- but I guess I’ll never really know.

September 24-

Yesterday we found ourselves in the city of  Utrecht.   We met up with my dear friend Kati- walked around and explored the city and had a little lunch.   The day couldn’t have been more perfect.

Obviously we weren’t the only ones who felt that way- since the city seemed to be bustling yesterday- and we even came across several couples who were saying their “I Do’s” yesterday.

This is one of the many shots I took yesterday- but a typical canal scene in the beautiful city.   From there- we went to a castle and spent the rest of the afternoon.

September 25-

I actually didn’t take this shot today- I took it when we were in Salzburg, but I found it more fitting for today than the others I’ve taken today.   After all it is Sunday- and these ladies were in the house of the Lord.    I was taking the shot of the lady in the foreground and didn’t notice the second one until I actually uploaded the pictures.      It makes me smile- and yet I almost feel guilty for taking it- as if I were intruding on a moment.

Wish You Were Here

July 25th, 2011

I remember when I was a child and we would spend our family vacation at Disney World in Orlando, we would buy post cards and send to some of our favorite people back home with the words ‘Wish you were here.’    Of course we would tell a little about what we were doing and seeing as well, but I even remember some cards having those four words written across the front.   I may even be able to find a few lying around here somewhere if I were to really dig deep.

That was then and this is now.   The picture to your left was taken last night at Disney World in Orlando.   With today’s technology- I can virtually be there instantly, without having to wait for a postcard.      Four of my favorite people are at the resort this week and between pictures and ‘check-ins’, I almost feel as though I’m there- minus the 90 something degree temps.

Make no mistakes- I definitely wish I was there, and not in the virtual sense, but since I can’t be- this is the next best thing and it lasts a lot longer than a postcard.

Up Up and Away

May 12th, 2011

It seems as though I am flitting from one place to the other as of late- not giving me much spare time to spend online or on the computer catching up with my own blog- or some of my favorite blogs.

Tuesday found me checking something off my Bucket List (and also my 101 in 1001 list) and that something was taking the hot air balloon ride.    If you’ve been reading this blog for a while- you may remember that Marcel gave it to me as a gift last year for my birthday.  

We finally made the trek to the location and I had a blast!    I have SO much to share and tell about SO many things, but life has had other plans for me lately.   I’m hoping to have a little time sometime this weekend (even though we have a lot going on then as well-  birthday parties and soccer finale’s to attend) to catch up.  

More from me soon!

May 2-8 Photo 365

May 8th, 2011

May 2-

Marcel and I were out and about at my favorite Spring flower garden and we came across these very odd ‘art’ faces-    There were four of them in a row, but what I didn’t recognize at first was that the faces were ‘two-sided’.   Marcel was actually the one who brought it to my attention.   My first thought was ‘two-faced’ and it brought many things to mind-   such as there are always two sides to every story and that what you see is not always reality.  

I thought it was kind of interesting- which is why I chose it as the photo for Monday- even though I took almost 200 pictures that day.

May 3-

Tuesday found us visiting a nearby town that has a community-wide flower week each year.   Various people in the town make mosaics with hyacinths and even though in recent years it isn’t as good as it once was;  it’s still always fun to see.   I saw several of these signs while driving through the town.   At first- I just thought they were odd and kind of cool to look at- although I had no idea what they were .  Eventually I realized that the were placed near school zones so that people could be aware that they were entering a school zone and be more conscious of their driving speed and to watch out for the children.

May 4-

Marcel and I were out driving when we passed this cottage.   The first thing I noticed was the many glass windows on the bottom floor, but when I lifted my head to check out the second floor- I noticed this beautiful calico kitty sitting in the window sill- observing.

I asked Marcel to stop- and since I happened to have my camera with me, I was able to capture a shot of the kitty before the owners of the house recognized that I was taking photos of their home- and rushed out to ask what I was doing.  Oh the life of a cat- 

May 5-

Thursday Desere called and asked if I wanted to come over for a cup of coffee and since I haven’t seen much of her lately and she hasn’t been feeling well- I was more than happy to stop in and see her.  She lives 3/4 of a mile away from me- so I put on my runnin’ shoes and headed out the door.    On the way home-I was walking past this house and noticed this red chair covered in ivy.   I actually walked past it and admired it, but loved the look so much that I went back and took a shot with my ‘eye’ (iPhone).   I’m glad I did-   It’s funky- and no doubt been there a long time- yet I’ve never noticed it in all the times I’ve passed by.   Something about it made me smile.

May 6-

I actually took several shots of some of the flowers I’d been planting, but when I came into the guest room and saw Mister M. in the window sill- I decided to take a quick shot of him.   The plan wasn’t for him to be the ‘photo of the day’, but when I saw it, I changed my mind.     He looked as though he were deep in thought and I often wish that  could know what JJ and Mister M. are thinking for just one day.   Something tells me that I may be quite surpised.

May 7-

Last night we went to see Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) live.  I’ve had the tickets for about six months, so when yesterday arrived, I was really excited.   I have several of his books and use his methods in teaching JJ (and myself) the importance of discipline.  I’ve learned a lot from him- and I’ve realized that I believe I’ll always be a work in progress.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love color and I’ll go to reds and yellows before all others.   I loved this red area between the hall of the music hall and the actual auditorium.   It went without saying that this would be my picture of the day.

May 8-

I always feel a little sad when I can’t be with my parents on holidays- especially those like birthday’s, Mother’s and Father’s Day.   I would have loved to had my parents with us today- but hopefully we’ll see them very soon.  

As you can see- the weather was perfect, and I love this path that is part of our regular walking course.   I decided to pause fora moment so that Marcel and JJ could get in front of me- so I could take a picture of the two of them walking.   I love the way it turned out-  especially since the other one  I took shows JJ looking back at me as though to say-  “Are you coming, or what?”

That’s it for this week-   More next Sunday- and if all goes according to plan- I should have some pretty interesting subject matter for a couple of days next week.    We’llhave to see how it works out though.


April 18-24 – Photo 365

April 24th, 2011

Monday- April 18- The week started off with Marcel and I making a quick trip to a somewhat sleepy town near the beach to see if the tulips were in bloom.  We got a late start (or at least later than I would have liked- in terms of lighting), but in spite of the fields not being fully in bloom; I did find a couple.

I took several shots and even though they weren’t exactly what I was hoping for- this is the one that I chose for Monday.   The softness of the petals remind me of just how fragile life is- and how we should make the best out of every moment that we’re given.

Tuesday- April 19-   I had actually taken a photo at the hospital that I’d planned on using for my picture for this day, but as the sun slowly started sinking into the horizon, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful sunset.    I actually noticed the golden glow in the house first, so I headed to a window to see what the sky looked like.   This photo was the result of that.     There is something peaceful about the sunset- knowing that the day has passed and no matter what we may have encountered- tomorrow is always another day.

Wednesday- April 20-  I was thrilled that my friend Anna decided to come over for a visit and since the weather was so perfect, and Marcel had taken the evening before free, we decided rather than walk around the neighborhood (which we had originally intended on doing)- that we would instead head to the beach. 

I needed to get away from it all for a while, and walking along the shoreline with Anna, JJ and Marcel was exactly what the doctor ordered.  The water was tranquil and I found myself immediately relaxed.   Anna and I walked six miles that day- (Marcel and JJ, a little less), but at the halfway point we stopped at one of my favorite beach cafe’s for lunch.    This picture was made while we were waiting for lunch to arrive. 

This day brought the reminder that no matter what is happening around us that sometimes we really should just ‘press pause’ and do something for ourselves that we enjoy.  In my case- it was a walk on the beach with a friend and two of my favorite guy’s.

Thursday- April 21-   JJ was LONG overdue a trip to be groomed, so we made the trek an hour away to the breeder where we bought JJ so that she could pluck him.   Cairn Terriers generally should have their top coat plucked every so often- (we do ours twice a year- but some do it more often if they prefer a shorter look).   It isn’t painful as long as the fur is ‘ripe’ but it seems that everytime we have JJ plucked he isn’t ready all over.  It’s as though parts of his body is ready at different times, and some parts (like his legs) never seem to get ready.    It was pretty clear to us that this was the case yet again and it was hurting him.   That’s something I didn’t even remotely like the idea of- and neither did the breeder.    So we had a choice-  bring him back later (which was no guarantee that he’d be ready all over) or shave him.    Cairn Terriers aren’t supposed to be shaved, because it changes their hair and their look BUT since this is one of those things that happens occasionally and we personally don’t want him hurting because his fur isn’t ready all-over the way it should be,  we decided to have him shaved.    It means he won’t ever be able to be plucked again (aside from his head) and that his hair will become more fine instead of course, but ultimately- my concern is for JJ.    I was assured there would be no skin problems associated with it- and I hope she’s right.   She’s the breeder, so I trust her.

Friday- April 22-   Marcel had the day off, so off we went again to the beach with JJ in tow.   It was another perfect day, which meant another great day to walk.   I decided that I wanted to break my 6 mile record from Wednesday,  so I did like Forrest Gump and started walking.   I walked and walked and walked some more.   At the 2 1/2 mile point, Marcel and JJ stopped, but I kept on walking.   I stopped at 4 miles and then walked back to where I’d left them behind.    I ended with a little bit over 8 miles and even though I was tired when I finished- I was happy I did it.   I was definitely feeling ‘stress-free’.

There is nothing quite like walking along- hearing the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, miles and miles of sandy beaches in front of you and blue skies above.   It’s as close to heaven on Earth as it gets- at least I think so.

Saturday- April 23-   With the fabulous weather that we’ve been having, Marcel and I decided to have our dinner outside the past couple of days.

I can’t imagine sitting inside having dinner when the weather is so absolutely perfect.   While I was bringing dinner to the table outside, I had my favorite sunglasses lying on the table and thought it would be a great shot for Saturday.  I bought these online last year without actually trying them on- something I generally don’t do, but it was love from the moment I tried them on.    I have this ‘thing’ about sunglasses-   I wear them rain or shine, and when I was younger and that song- “I wear my sunglasses at night” came out-   Guess who wore their sunglasses at night?  You guessed it-  Yours truely!

Sunday- April 24- Happy Easter!    The holiday isn’t at all about chocolate eggs and a giant bunny that delivers lots of sugary goodness to a basket in your home, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb. 

I did have some chocolate eggs in the house and Marcel was about to have one as a late afternoon snack, so I decided to open the blue foil and grab a quick shot before giving it to him.   I was definitely tempted to have a bite all my own, but since I’m trying to be more conscious of what I eat- I refrained.

Something that did make me smile this morning-   I decide to go for a 5k walk this morning and took JJ along with me.   It was a leisurely pace since I wasn’t in a hurry and really wanted to do some reflecting and also enjoy the gorgeous day.   As I was walking past a row of homes, I noticed some egg-sized chocolates hanging from a string in the bushes.   As I observed, I found many- obviously hidden by someone for their grandchildren to find.    I continued with my walk and at one point passed the homes again- the eggs were still hanging- some easy to find- and others hidden just out of sight.   I can only imagine the joy on the childrens faces as they found them.     A simple reminder that it’s the simple things in life that can bring the greatest joy.

Keep On Walkin’

April 22nd, 2011

This is a picture of the GPS map of the walk I finished about an hour and a half ago.  The total was 8 miles- without stopping (except to get a shell out of my foot) and I’m beat. 

I love walking on the beach-   mostly because I don’t need music-  all I need is the sound of the waves and the vastness of the ocean and he sand in front of me- and I feel good.    I had a friend who always told me I feel my best by the water because my birthday is in July, and therefore I’m a water sign.     I don’t know how much truth there is to that- but one thing is for certain- the beach and water calms me. 

I’m in a challenge with my friend Micha to see who can walk the most in a month, but I’m still behind after having to wait and let some blisters heal.   It’s fun- plus it challenges me to expect more out of myself and I need that.

JJ and Marcel came along- but somewhere along the way Marcel stopped and waited for me.   He didn’t mind- and he knew I really needed to walk.   I wasn’t the only one with the idea to go to the beach.   The temps are perfect, so some areas were packed.   I could also tell that it was the beginning of Spring break, because there were kids and dogs everywhere in the busy spots.   JJ even made a few new friends.

Now- I’m relaxing and trying to pump myself full of water to make up for the perspiring that I did.    I also need to remember to take a couple of Motrin- to help head off any soreness. 

This is what I call Good FRIDAY!

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