The Queen's Hamlet at the Palace of Versailles

The Queen’s Hamlet

The Queen’s Hamlet.

Place d’Armes, 78000, Versailles, France.

Also known as Hameau de la Reine, the Queen’s Hamlet was the place I most wanted to see when we toured the Palace of Versailles.

Passport Ticket.

We purchased the Passport ticket which included admission to the entire estate at the Palace of Versailles. While the gardens are free to visit (except on days with there are musical fountain shows or musical gardens), the Passport ticket allows you to visit the Palace, the gardens on musical days, and the estate of Trianon (which includes the Queen’s Hamlet).

Free Entry for those under 18.

One thing that I appreciated while traveling in Europe is that many museums and places of interest (such as the Palace of Versailles) have free entry for visitors under 18 (under 26 if you reside in the EU). This saved us quite a bit as we were traveling with three teenagers. However, I would recommend that if your teenage looks questionable as to whether they are under 18, you make sure they have I.D. This did happen to us, but it only happened at the Louvre in Paris. My seventeen year old is 6’6″ and at one checkpoint they asked his age and at another they asked for proof. I did assume that we’d come upon this at some point. I used to carry his birth certificate in case we were ever questioned when we’d travel to Disney World (we never were).

Palace of Versailles.

I’ve shared some of my photos of the exterior of Versailles and from the inside of the Palace. In yesterday’s post, I shared a serene view across the lake found in the hamlet

The Hamlet.

Today, I thought we’d walk around some of the cottages found at the Queen’s Hamlet.

The estates of Trianon and hamlet are a somewhat lengthy walk from the gardens at Versailles. There are trains available for a fee that leave near the Palace and bikes available to rent farther into the gardens.

Things tend to add up quickly for a family of 5, so we decided to walk.

Queen’s Home.

When we visited Versailles in April, the Queen’s home was under restoration. They cover the buildings while work is in progress (something I witnessed throughout my European travels). The restoration is being sponsored by the fashion house Dior, hence the covering. According to the website, restoration will be complete in 2018.


The Queen’s Hamlet was built for Marie-Antionette between 1783 and 1787. It was a model village built around an artificial lake.


The cottages are set in a crescent formation along the eastern side of the lake.

Contrary to popular belief, Marie-Antoinette did not “play at being farmer”. The model village was a working farm at her insistence and served as an educational place for the royal children.


She hosted small gatherings of her friends at the village.

She took relaxing walks through the gardens.


Marie-Antoinette used the village to escape from the rigors of court life.


The Hamlet was designed by the French architect, Richard Mique. The cottages combine Norman, Flemish, and French styles.

Marlborough Tower.

Marlborough Tower stands overlooking the lake and adding to the fairytale ambience of the Hamlet.

The Moulin.

The Moulin was a watermill. The wheel was driven by a stream from the Grand Lake, but was used for decorative purposes only.


Not only was the architecture intriguing, but cottages meant a plethora of doors.

To see more doors around the world be sure to check out Norm’s blog where he hosts Thursday Doors.


Tranquility. Simplicity. Quiet.

It was easy to feel at peace while strolling along.

The area is spread out and there were not throngs of crowds (unlike the Palace and Gardens) as we walked at a leisurely pace.

While I don’t live in the stressful world of being scrutinized for being royalty, I do live in a world that rushes along at a frantic pace.

It’s always nice to slow down sometimes.

I can see why the Queen loved it so much.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. - Henry David Thoreau

Let your light shine!



Photo Tour Royal Yacht Britannia

Photo Tour Royal Yacht Britannia


Royal Yacht Britannia.

A few weeks ago I shared photos of some of the doors to be found on the Royal Yacht Britannia. If you missed that post on the Britannia, you can find it here.

I found the views from the yacht to be beautiful. The yacht itself with its wood accents and attention to architectural details drew me in as well.

Photo Tour Royal Yacht Britannia

Photo Tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Today I’m sharing a few more photos of the beauty that I took in as I toured the boat.

Ancestral Journey.

That morning it had been raining in that gray, drizzly way that Scotland has a way of doing. The clouds still covered the sky as we arrived at the Port of Leith Cruise Terminal, the home to the Royal Yacht Britannia. A little wetness wasn’t going to dampen my spirits. I was in Scotland after all! This ancestral voyage with my mother and aunt…imagining the views that those from whom we descended had peered across.

If you’ve been following the blog for some time the you know that the majority of the Scottish line that we’ve traced is from the region around Glasgow. Many coal miners and weavers, the first surnames being Scott and McLachlan.

I also have a strong lineage traced back to England, although I’ve not been to visit there yet. My maternal grandfather was half Scottish and half English, his mother being a Simpson from Wigan, England. Amongst the tracings from the lineage of numerous Englishmen, one line that my father traces back to is one of the four Spencer brothers who came to America in the 1600’s. There is various research that shows a probable distant relation to the late Princess Diana.

While I did not follow much of the royal family’s comings and goings while growing up, I was enamored with Princess Diana as much as the next person. She married when I was almost 4 and passed away right before I turned 20. I remember reading a story about her childhood and I was the type of girl who dreamed about being a princess.

I grew out of that when I realized that I wouldn’t want the daily dose of public scrutiny.

History Preserved.

One of the things that I found fascinating about the Royal Yacht Britannia was how history was preserved. It felt like walking back through time.

Have you ever visited the Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World?

It takes you through the past and into a perceived future. Growing up in Florida, I went to Disney World some as a child and more as an adult. I loved being taken to places of nostalgia…places I’d only heard about in tales from my grandparents.

That was how the interiors of the yacht felt. Classic, yet from a place in the past.

I’ve only included the interior of the bridge in this tour, but be on the lookout for more from the inside in a future post.


As a Native Floridian (transplanted these past four years in the mountains of Virginia), I have a love for water.

The views from the port were stunning.

Bell and Binnacle.

Prior to entering the Sun Lounge and State Apartment tour of the yacht, you can see the bell and the binnacle. The binnacle, housing the ships compass is carved from a solid piece of mahogany. Two of these were originally on the Royal George. They were subsequently fitted on each Royal Yacht, although only one was fitted onto the Britannia.

Phantom V.

Of course, I had to capture the Rolls-Royce Phantom V that travels aboard the Britannia. 

Swan in Leith, Scotland


One of the fascinating facts that I learned while in Scotland is that all of the swans in the United Kingdom belong to the Queen.

When I checked this fact upon returning home, I found that she owns any unmarked mute swan.

But still!

That must be a lot of swans.

I thought it so appropriate that there should be swans swimming around the Royal Yacht Britannia.

This pair caught my eye as I finished up my tour of the yacht.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this photo walk about the the yacht along with my ramblings.

She loved the sea. She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of the horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above. It made her feel small, but free as well. - George R.R. Martin

Let your light shine!



Recipes Tried In November – Round 4

November Recipes.

I still can’t believe that I have completed the process of making 26 “new to me” recipes.

Only 4 more days to go!

I was talking to my mom the other day and I told her that I thought I would crush my November ChallengeHer response was, “and do you know why?”. My reply was, “because I don’t like to lose?”

We had a good laugh about this fact. She reminded me that I was the reason that all of the grandkids are told “you know the rules right?” when playing board games with her. To which they respond “no throwing a fit if you lose”. I’m not really sure what her definition of a fit is, but she reminded me that if I was losing, in say Monopoly, it was very obvious that I wasn’t happy when I gruffly said “here then, take my money!”

I promise that I’ve learned a lot about losing gracefully since then.

However, I don’t want to lose against myself.

So I’m hoping to continue crushing my monthly “year of 40” challenges.

But you came here for the recipes!

If you missed earlier rounds you can find them at these links: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3.

As before, the recipes are linked to where I’ve saved them on Pinterest and I’ll share any substitutions that I made and what I thought of the outcome.

Here we go!

November 20th.

Butternut Squash Smoothie.

The one thing about making a new recipe a day is that quite often there are remaining ingredients…fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables…

I’m not a fan of food waste (even though I waste way more than I should) so I was looking for a smoothie to use up some butternut squash puree that I had. I suppose some people might just eat the puree. I just can’t do the baby food thing. Maybe if my teens were still babies… anyway!

I don’t have a “scoop” in my protein powder, so I used 2 Tbsp Organic Rice Protein Powder and my milk of choice, as usual, was Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk.

I still expected this to have the potential to be something that I would gag down. Instead, I found it surprisingly tasty and will likely make it again.

Assessment: Surprising Win!

November 21st.

Banana Almond Flax Smoothie.

My banana wasn’t frozen, but I added more ice. As the commenter on the pin stated, this had a milky consistency. I had made this smoothie in a single serving blender cup. Normally, I would have transferred it to the larger blender and added more ice to get the consistency that I prefer. I needed to get dinner started (still have to feed the hubby and teens even if it’s not a new recipe), so I chose to drink it as is. I don’t like milk. Even when the milk isn’t cow’s milk, I don’t like milky consistencies. I finished it, but not without trying not to feel grossed out.

Assessment: Add more ice and try again.

November 22nd.

Creamy Feta Dip.

This was the day that Big Mr had his wisdom teeth removed. I was also prepping some things for Thanksgiving, so I needed an easy snack. I didn’t realize that I did indeed have a lemon, so I used squeeze lemon and dried lemon peel. I served it with pita chips. Two of my kids asked if somebody had been sick in the house. When they discovered it was this dip, they refused to try it. I didn’t think it smelled awful. It tasted pretty good. Mostly the hubby ate it.

Assessment: I may look for other versions…but I also may not.

November 23rd.

Herbed Nut Roast and Mushroom Gravy.

My sister-in-law was doing all of the traditional cooking for Thanksgiving. I know…I’m so lucky! I made some pies, but wanted to bring something different as well. As luck would have it, this recipe came across in my emails. One of the people that would be at Thanksgiving Dinner is a vegetarian, plus I would like to try to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my life. This nut loaf is actually vegan.

I could not find cremini mushrooms at my grocery store, so I substituted baby bella. I also didn’t have fresh sage and substituted dry. In the gravy, there wasn’t dried porcini mushrooms, but I did find a Bistro Blend which contained oyster, shiitake, porcini, and black trumpet.

This was a time consuming recipe. When I went to put the mix into the loaf pan, it looked too dry to me. I did not have time to have anything go wrong, and it was a pricy recipe to create as well. I added enough water to have it stick together (probably less than 1/2 cup). The loaf held together when I transferred it to a serving platter at dinner.

The gravy threatened to do me in. It was no fault of its own. When I went to sprinkle in some pepper, the larger opening popped open and poured into the pan. That’s what I get using the measuring pepper instead of the pepper shaker. I took paper towels and blotted out the pepper that wasn’t covering mushrooms, dabbed the mushrooms… took a deep breath, put the tears back into their bay, and carried on.

The loaf was okay. I ate its leftovers. It was not my preference of foods. The gravy…Ahhmazing. I ate it on a baked potato after I ran out of loaf.

Assessment: I won’t be making the loaf again, but the gravy may become a new regular.

November 24th.

Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodles.

I’ve been wanting a spiralizer for ages. I decided to purchase a cheap one to see if I would actually use it before considering the possibility of getting the Kitchen-Aid attachment for my stand mixer. This was the first chance that I’ve had to try it out. I considered an avocado pesto recipe, but I was missing a few ingredients.

This was hands down one of my favorite recipes….maybe one of my favorite recipes of the month. Proving that sometimes simple is the best.

Assessment: Major Win!

November 25th.

Healthy Shamrock Shake.

The recipe was more of a jumping off point. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of coconut milk. I added 1 Tbsp of coconut oil, just in case it needed some coconut taste. I probably would have used coconut sugar, but I had already added the maple syrup and vanilla extract so I didn’t want it any sweeter. The amount of mint called for wasn’t clear to me. I was trying to use up the mint I had remaining before it went bad. I probably would have used more, but I just prefer my minty items on the more minty side. It was creamy and tasted pretty good.

Assessment: Keep tweaking.

November 26th.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole.

This was so good, but so rich! In the future, I’d half the recipe and bake in a smaller dish and serve it with a salad.

Assessment: I wouldn’t make this on a weekly basis, but I would make it again.

Did you see any recipes that you found appealing?

Stay tuned for next week when I share the remaining four recipes and my thoughts on the recipe challenge.


Let your light shine!


30 Days of...

30 Days of… December Challenge

30 Days of...

Can you believe that it’s almost December?!

Given that my November Challenge was a cumbersome undertaking, I thought that I’d take on an easier challenge for December.

Holiday time tends to make life a little more chaotic as well. Right?!

Commercialism tends to take so much away from the season that I’ve decided that my December Challenge will be:

30 Days of Gratitude

The Real Gift of Gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become. - Robert Holden

My original plan for December was to have 30 days of “random acts of kindness”. My thought wasn’t to have each day be some type of extravagant kindness, but more moments of telling somebody when I liked their shirt or haircut…you get the idea. Taking time to notice and stepping out of my comfort zone into being a conversation initiator.

I will likely incorporate this into my December Challenge, but it will be a secondary challenge for myself.

Why? you might be asking.

In any given moment we have two option: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. - Abraham Maslow

The problem for me came at the end when I would be talking about whether or not I accomplished the goal.

It felt like it would become a “Hey look at me being a decent human being. You know…the kind that I always should be.”

So while I will be incorporating throughout December, I will likely only address snippets of what I learned and likely not the kindnesses I offered.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Quote by Maya Angelou

That is how I came to decide that December would be focusing on the many things that I am grateful for.

To give me a specific daily goal, I did some digging around the Internet. I didn’t want to write out my own gratitude challenge since then I would already have thought of my response as I wrote it.

You can find the 30 day challenge that I’m opting to follow here.

The challenge was originally used on their blog for gratitude during the month of November.

I will be using the daily prompts as a focal point. I don’t know if I will use photos or words or a combination of both as I reflect on my gratitude.

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things- Henry Ward Beecher

If you are joining with me on 30 days of gratitude throughout December, be sure to let me know in the comments.

I’d love to have you along.

Sprinkle some random acts of kindness throughout the month as well. Words are free and they have the potential to change somebody’s day.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. - Lao Tzu

Let your light shine!




Friday Faves – Edition 41


It really doesn’t feel like Friday. When there’s a disruption to the school/work routine, it throws things off. Tuesday felt more like Friday because everyone took Wednesday off.

Monday was really my only day that stayed on schedule. Tuesday I had a kid that needed to leave school early because they didn’t feel well. It was one of those situations where you need to decide whether it’s a doctor visit worthy sick. That took the mental energy I had reserved for other things. Wednesday was the day Big Mr. had his wisdom teeth removed. He’s doing remarkably well.

There has been a palpable shift to the weather here in Virginia. The winds have blown steadily through many nights and along with the cold, they have taken most of the leaves.

Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving.

A time to gather with our Virginia family and eat tasty food while enjoying laughter and nice conversations.

A time of thanks for the many blessings we have in our lives.

Moments to pause in gratitude for all that which I so often take for granted.

I’ve been continuing with my November Challenge of making a recipe a day. Quite often there are smoothies because they are easy ways to pack in nutrition. And let’s be honest, a new recipe a day for an entire month was a very ambitious challenge. I was making pies on Wednesday. Since they aren’t new recipes they didn’t even count! But I still managed to make a new recipe and a new one on Thursday as well! Stay tuned next week for how they all turned out.

I decided to finally put my money where my mouth is. I substantially reduced my plastic straw usage during my September ChallengeSaying no to a straw is easy enough when we go to a restaurant, but occasionally I end up with a drink from a drive-thru (mostly when we are traveling for soccer). I wanted straws that could also be used for smoothies so I ended up with these stainless steel straws. I’ve only had a chance to use them once, but I think there’s potential.

I am still continuing with my October Challenge, 53 days and counting. Even though I do specifically set aside time for a quiet music or guided meditation, I still find moments of peace, gratitude, and calm in my walks amongst nature.

There are trees that maintain their green…

And ones that are still boldly announcing their presence.

I breathe deeply in these moments that the sun is still shining brightly. I place these moments into little pockets in my memory so that I can draw upon them as the days turn colder and more gray.

I seek the beauty.

Even as the colors fade there will always be a trace of beauty waiting to be found.

And I will be the seeker.

The band I’m sharing this week was mentioned on a post by a blogger that I stumbled upon. Actually, she stumbled upon me and when I visited her page I found this post. Since I am a lover of music, I had to check the band out. Of course when I mentioned it to the 17-year old, he was like “Oh yeah, I used to listen to them”. I’m guessing it was around the same time that he listened to Tame Impala daily. This band is Beach House. They are from Baltimore, Maryland and formed in 2004.

I hope that you’ve all had a beautiful week and that as you go into the weekend, you seek all the beauty that surrounds you.

When life seems overwhelming...pure bedlam...find a quiet place, close your eyes...and just breathe. -Amy Lyon Smith

Let your light shine!