A Stroll Along the Seine

A Stroll Along The Seine

Paris.

Isn’t it strange how once you’ve visited a place, there is a different type of familiarity when you hear about the location on the news? That has recently been the case as I hear about the flooding along the Seine in Paris.

There RER C line is temporarily closed. That was the line we took to visit the Palace of Versailles. I have walked inside the Louvre. We have strolled along the banks of the Seine.

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Along the Seine.

I visited Paris last April.

Springtime in Paris.

I could just swoon saying those words.

It was during my first overseas trip and Paris was more lovely in the spring than anything I had imagined.

No trip to Paris is complete without stroll along the Seine.

Pont de la Concorde.

Our first view of the Seine was from Pont de la Concorde. This is the bridge that connects Quai des Tuileries at the Place de la Concorde (on the Right Bank) and the Quai d’Orsay (on the Left Bank).

I’ll let you in on a little behind the scenes secret. The hubby and I watch Vikings on the History Channel. He had been to Paris many years prior to our trip and here he is  pointing out the background on the attack of Paris. If you don’t watch the show (while it’s not historically accurate), the episode was based on the Siege of Paris in 845.

The historical accounts are that the Danish Viking Reginheri (thought to be the same person as the legend of Ragnar Lothbrok) sailed a fleet of about 120 ships along the Seine, raiding the city of Rouen as he progressed. They went on to pillage Paris, which at the time was an island city, located on Île de la Cité, where you now find Notre Dame.

 

Right Bank of the Seine.

While we walked along the Seine numerous times during our visit to Paris, my photos are predominately from the Right Bank of the Seine. We walked from the Jardin des Tuileries to Notre Dame.

Looking across the Seine at Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France

Museé d’Orsay.

While I did not have a chance to visit the Museé d’Orsay, I did admire its architecture.

The museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d’Orsay. It was finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.

After 1939, it was used for suburban services and part of it became a mailing center during World War II.

In the 70’s, the idea came about to turn the building into a museum. The plan was for the museum to bridge the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art.

The museum officially opened in December of 1986.

The museum is open daily (closed on Mondays) from 9:30 am to 6 pm, with extended hours until 9:45 pm on Thursdays.

With works by Renoir, Degas, Manet, and Van Gogh (just to name a few), it will definitely be on my “must see” list when I return to Paris.

Have you visited the Museé d’Orsay?

If so, what your favorite piece of art?

Views.

All along the Seine, the views are breathtaking. Miss Sunshine was ill for most of our time in Paris. However, she was a trooper and soldiered on during our walk to Notre Dame. This was the view from a water break we took before perusing the stalls of the bouquinistes.

Love Locks.

There are numerous love locks along the Seine. While one of the most famous locations for their placements is along the Ponts de Arts bridge, we found them while walking along the Quai des Tuileries.

While I admire a good love story, I did not leave a lock.

The weight of so many locks can eventually create damage. I have my memories and I’ve snapped some photos of the locks both here and in Amsterdam.

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Travel.

I feel very lucky to be able to travel. To have visited Paris and to have walked along the banks of the Seine.

 

Have you ever been to Paris?

Which area was your favorite in which to spend your time?

We had a very short visit there and I hope to return again someday.

I hope to return again to Shakespeare and Company, to look amongst its book-filled shelves. To admire the doors of Paris as I stroll along the rues and boulevards.  There are daydreams of sitting upon my current favorite Corner of Paris and watching the vibrancy of Paris.

And, of course, to see all that I missed.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

A Recycler’s Journey

Recycling.

Recycling is defined as the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects.

But you probably already knew that.

Recycling has become something that is a mainstream topic of conversation.

In the United States, the EPA uses the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle“.

And I think that we can all agree in the importance of recycling.

According to this article by recyclenation.com, the EPA estimates that about 75% of the U.S. waste stream is recyclable, but only about 30% of the waste stream is actually recycled.

You might be questioning why this is the case.

Recycler’s Journey.

I will share the embarrassing truth about this recycler’s journey and why I have not been a very good recycler.

I’m lazy.

When I started my #thisis40 challenges back on my 40th birthday in September, I chose one that would be easy for me. 30 days of no one-time plastic bag usage.

I hadn’t been using plastic bags for many years and knew there would only be a few moments of needing to say “I don’t need a bag”.

I also had stumbled across facts about the consumption of plastic straws (the U.S. alone goes through 500 million straws per day) and began to work on limiting my usage. If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, it should come as no surprise that I devour knowledge. One of my past career dreams was to be a research scientist. Instead, I read articles and try to sift out reality from bias. My love for facts is why I try to find credible sources before sharing with you.

So where had I become lazy?

Well, when I moved to Virginia from Florida in 2013, curbside recycling was not part of the county’s trash collection. I had been spoiled with having owned homes with curbside recycling for the prior 14+ years. After the move, I found the local recycling drop-offs and was pretty good in the beginning. Those drop-offs didn’t take glass, but I figured I was still doing pretty good. However, most times that I would load up my car and drive to these drop-offs, the bins were so full that people had left their recycling on the nearby ground (I’m not even sure that gets recycled as the drop-offs are giant trailers that get hitched to a truck). So I’d end up just taking it back home and collecting more. Then I noticed that I slowly began to just throw it away.

It bothered me that I was choosing to do this because I felt like I was living completely outside of my personal principles. You know that whole brain-gut connection? Well my gut was making me feel guilty.

Curbside Recycling.

I knew that I could hire a private company to pick up my curbside recycling. I just didn’t. Why? It came down to needing a paradigm shift.

I remember the first time that I ever heard the term paradigm shift. I was 16 and was a senior in high school. It was in a class called advanced reading (which we got college credit for… under “introduction to college” and “speech”). We did pretty much that… read books and analyzed them, gave speeches, and practiced college interviewing (I’m sure there’s more, but the introvert in me remembers speaking in front of the class).

Paradigm Shift.

A paradigm shift is an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way. His simplistic example was when you are vacuuming and you go over and over the same spot, hoping that it will pick up the paper on the floor, when if you just changed your thinking, you could bend over and pick up that piece of paper and move on with the rest of the vacuuming.

My resistance to curbside recycling in Roanoke County was because I had to pay a separate company to do something that for years had been handled by the county in which I lived. However, in Florida, I was still paying for curbside recycling. It just was part of my property tax bill. While I’m not going to delve into the ridiculous taxes that they collect in Virginia compared to when I lived in Florida, most people are familiar with the fact that Florida’s property taxes are not low. So ignoring the other taxes I pay and just focusing on the property taxes, I was able to justify (not everyone has this issue of needing to justify their spending. Yay you!! You are so lucky! However, I work with the personality I was given) hiring a curbside recycling company.

Shift Complete.

And that’s just what I did! I hired a company at the beginning of this year. Already, there is noticeably less trash going out on collection day. He also takes glass (so those wine bottles aren’t ending up in the landfill!).

Reusable bag from Publix grocery store. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American Proverb

Progress.

Part of the reason I’ve been hesitant to share this blog is because even though I’ve made changes, there are still many areas of recycling or reducing or reusing in which I fail. My existence is still spoiled and I often make choices that go against my environmental desires. I would not want anyone to think that I have managed to completely change in all the areas that are possible in creating a smaller footprint.

I still consume…a lot.

However, as I learn more and more, I find it hard to ignore the facts.

According to the article that I shared, recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV for up to three hours. The EPA  shares that recycling 10 plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for 25 hours.

Natural Life pouches made from recycled plastic water bottles

Pollution.

This article from National Geographic states that 91% of plastic isn’t recycled. Much of that plastic ends up finding its way into the ocean. Research published in 2015 estimates that amount of plastic at 8 million metric tons EVERY year. This is the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline around the globe.

Many of us have heard about the garbage patches in the ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that the term “garbage patch” doesn’t paint an accurate term about the marine debris problem because there is more dispersion throughout the ocean than just in the “patches”.

I do think that much more information is readily available than in the past. However,  I still stumble across information that I didn’t know. Such as the fact about plastic straws, but also recently learning about the existence of plastic microbeads. According to this article on the UN Environment website, as many as 51 trillion micro plastic particles (500 times more than the stars in our galaxy) litter our seas. Some estimates state that by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic.

Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Accountability.

I think that far too often it’s easy to think that “what kind of difference will I make? I am only one person.” But going back to recyclenation.com, it’s estimated that the average individual creates four pounds of trash per day, which adds up to 1,500 pound of trash per year.

Obviously, 1 person can make a difference.

As I continue to gain knowledge about environmental problems, I have a responsibility to accountability. It can no longer be thought that my actions and choices don’t make a difference when the facts point otherwise.

I will continue to fail and to make poor choices, but I will also continue to make even more good choices and gain victories.

If you’ve learned some facts, I hope that you’ll progress on the journey as well.

If you have any tips or knowledge that you’d like to contribute to the commentary, please do.

Look closely at present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming. -Alice Walker

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 50

Friday Faves Edition 50

Friday.

I hope that you all have had an amazing week so far! My teenagers finally went back to school this week. Hallelujah! We have finally made it to Friday and I’m sharing some of my faves for the week.

Friday Faves.

First off, I just want to say “thanks so much!” for showing up each week to read my Friday Faves. As my blog has evolved, I find that I have more things that I want to share (i.e. travels, 30 day challenges, photography) over the course of the week and Friday is the main day where I’m able to update you all with what’s happening in my daily life.

Essential Oils.

In December, I mentioned that the hubby had purchased some essential oils for my diffuser as one of my Christmas gifts. I read many of the daily articles at mindbodygreen.com and had read this article which shared how tea tree oil and eucalyptus have been clinically shown to kill the airborne flu virus. It also states that lemongrass and cinnamon bark work at battling the bacteria in the air (and yes, I did peruse the medical articles that they used to state this).

I don’t often get sick, but I also like to take precautions to prevent it. According to the EPA, most Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, where pollutants can be 2-5 times higher than outdoors. I try to spend time a lot of time outdoors, but winter and I don’t really get along. For that reason, I’ve been focusing on cleaning up our indoor air. I had already seen some diffuser blends that included lemongrass and was planning to add it to my collection. I went ahead and picked up tea tree oil (which is supposed to be great for acne…luckily, I don’t have that issue) as well.

Are you a fan of essential oils?

Crafts.

I’ve shared before that I am not a crafty person. However, I really, really want to be a person who crafts. In fact, I mentioned in this post that I had bought a wooden dowel and some rope and was going to try my hand at macramé. That was over a month ago and the dowel and rope still sits on the kitchen counter! Occasionally, some teenager will pick up the dowel and swing it around while I frantically tell them to put it down before they knock a glass off of the counter or break a window.

But just this week, I was at the library (making plans for my February Challenge) and saw a book on macramé on the new release shelf. I took it as a sign to get moving on this craft project. Have you ever crafted with rope?

Dreams.

Okay, so I don’t often share my dreams publicly. Sometimes they are a little cray, cray. I usually always tell them to my husband because I need to verbalize them to try to read the clues. Is this something I’m processing? Is this old baggage? Etc… I realize some people don’t put a lot of stock into dreams. Which is probably another reason why I don’t share them.

Journaling dreams.

If a dream really strikes me as strange, I will journal it. Usually it’s in snippets, like it’s seen above. I don’t try to write neatly…I may go back and add more things I want to remember about it… My notes aren’t censored or edited (I realize “liver” isn’t the proper term, it was just the best way to add a small notation). I’m only actually sharing the photo of the writing because it’s still hard to fully explain the strangeness of the dream. This dream was on the late evening of 1/9/18 or early 1/10/18. I can tell because there’s some notes around it about my Two Years of Blogging post.

Written below in my journal is another dream that I had the same night. One of the reasons that they struck me as needing journaled is because my notes end with hearing a man say my name and me waking up (like, for real, waking up). Then I heard the bells ring (that the dog uses to let us know he needs out) and yet he was in a dog crate. I lay there awake with the irrational part of me thinking somebody was in my house and the rational part of me thinking no it’s probably between 2 and 4 in the morning and if somebody were in the house, the dog would be barking.

Processing dreams.

So back to the strangeness of the dream. The princess in the country, I did not know. Her sister asked me to help with the bird. The princess was getting married and she loved this pet bird of hers.. There is some other strangeness about when I tried to put the bird into its cage…thoughts I had… whatever. The dream shifted to me being in a space to watch the procession of the Prince’s wedding. I can tell you that was Prince Harry. I know why I had that part of the dream. It’s 99.99% likely that my mother and I will be flying into London (please share recommendations of what we should see!) when we take our trip in May (in fact, I’m booking our trip after I finish this post).

You may be asking yourself why this strange.

More to the dream.

Yesterday, as I was looking at places we want to tour in London and about the wedding (I will be there near the wedding, but not actually the day of) and discovered that Princess Eugenie has recently become engaged. No, she and the Prince aren’t having a double wedding, but they are planning to be married at the same location as each other. And in the dream, I knew that the person other than the Prince wasn’t at exactly the same ranking (she’s farther down the line for the crown) and it seemed as though it were a cousin. The part that my husband found strange is that while looking around google maps for where we think we want to stay in London, I stumbled upon a road that appears to be near Buckingham Palace called Birdcage Walk.

So that was my crazy experience yesterday! It’s okay if you don’t see the oddity of it. I’m entitled to my strangeness. I still haven’t quite figured out if there’s any relevancy between the two. Just keeping the intricacies and originalities of all parts of me as real as I can 😉

Do you pay attention to your dreams?

Shopping.

On a much lighter note, I went shopping this week. It happened to be a melancholy day for me. I did feel much lighter after meditation and writing this post. I went to Target looking for some things I needed to clean my hardwood floors. I got sidetracked by the fact that they had bathing suits in stock. Since I’ll be spending spring break in Aruba, I need some swimsuits. Not too long ago, Target introduced a line of bathing suits that sell the tops by bra size. This works out much better for me. However, in the past, they’ve been sold out of my size by the time I think about buying bathing suits (which is never in January). This time, I found plenty.

Clothes.

I don’t usually take photos in the dressing room (that’s not 100% true, but it’s usually only to send them to the hubby for a second opinion).  While there are some bathing suit snaps, they aren’t being shared. Nope. I snapped the pic above because I loved the sweatshirt. It’s saying was so perfect. human • kind be both. The shirt was a little too wide and made me appear to have no waist. They didn’t have a size down so I took the picture to look for it online. I’m a little concerned that a smaller size may have shorter sleeves. I have a love/hate relationship with long-sleeved clothes.

Is there an article of clothing that you have a love/hate relationship with?

Theater.

One of my super exciting pieces of news is that the hubby and I are going to see Riverdance next week. We saw it live when we were dating and now are going to the 20th Anniversary World Tour!

And that’s the week so far.

Music.

This week’s song is by a band, Frenship, that I shared a few weeks back. I don’t normally choose a song which has been viewed by so many.  Usually, I’m looking for under the radar music. However, after sharing that song, I stumbled upon this one. Not only do I like the song, the real reason I’m sharing is that I found the dance in the video absolutely moving. If you aren’t a fan of contemporary dance, then you may not get as swept away in emotion as I did, but it’s lovely nonetheless.

I hope that you all have an amazing weekend and wonderful upcoming week.

I’m off to book some travel plans and I’ll be sure to share all about them next week!

If you are always trying to be normal, nobody will know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Photography series of trains in the snow in Roanoke Virginia

Trains in the Snow

 

Photography Challenges.

While most (okay, probably all) of my posts showcase some of my photography, I often find that I struggle with finding the space to share all the photos that I’d like to share. This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t post every day and never more than once a day. There are photo challenges that I find myself not participating in due to that fact. I enjoy the photo challenges because they help me think out of the box and improve my photography skills. The teach me to looks through my lens in a new way.

Since today is the day that I often share doors as part of Norm’s Thursday Doors, I thought I’d see if this photography series was applicable to some some of the other photo challenges in which I’ve participated. You’ll see links, as applicable, if you are interested in checking them out!

Photography Series.

Hmmm… I wonder what you’ll be seeing in this photography series. If the title didn’t give it away, the cover photo sure did.

That’s right! This photography series is “Trains in the Snow”.

When we had our first snow here in Roanoke, we decided to talk a walk along the Roanoke River Greenway. I shared many photo from that walk in this post.  However, I saved my train photos to share as a series.

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Train Under the Interstate.

The part of the greenway that we walked passes under the Interstate. I-581, if you’re ever in the Roanoke area and are wondering where this is located. We parked on Wiley Drive SW, near the hospital and beside the River’s Edge Sports Complex. From this location, the Roanoke River Greenway heads in both directions, following the Roanoke River. On this walk we headed toward Smith Park. This was the capture of the train under the interstate.

Norfolk Southern operates 19,500 route miles in 22 states and D.C.  Their trains often travel through town.  In 2015, they closed their downtown Roanoke office building and relocated many workers. The building itself is a work of beauty, seen rising in the center of downtown in this post.

Their trains are often seen traveling through town and quite often seen parked along this stretch of track. My original intent in capturing this scene was because I liked how the columns looked on the overpass. If you’ve been following the blog for some time, then you’re well aware that I’m a huge fan of architecture. However, my attempt to capture the scene that I wanted was thwarted by many factors.

Norfolk Southern Train under Interstate 581

Behind the Columns.

The scene above was the photo composition that I wanted to capture. The train behind the columns. However, not only was it snowing pretty steadily, but there was water pouring down as a means of drainage from the overpass. What you cannot see in the photo is that between me and the train tracks is the expanse of the river. This was the only place in which I could stand to capture the photo and the barrage of water falling could not be avoided.

So intent was I on capturing the scene, that when the hubby asked me afterward if my photo had captured the “giant phallic symbol” grafittied there, I had no clue what he was talking about. When I then looked at the scene while not behind the lens, I wondered how in the world I had missed that. Luckily, the photo was composed in a way in which I could crop that graffiti out. Normally, I love graffiti, but this one, not so much. Plus, it said “….is awsome”. I think it may have been someone’s name, but they couldn’t even spell awesome. That’s not so awesome.

We kept walking until we reached Smith Park. Miss Sunshine and I played on the swings and then we decided to head back to the Jeep. Across from the park, there is the continuation of the train tracks. There is a barbed wire fence separating the tracks from the park.

As I headed over to snap some photos, Miss Sunshine commented “Thursday Doors.”

Green Boxcar.

To be honest, I just loved how the trains popped against the fresh, white snow. But, Miss Sunshine was right, this green boxcar does have a door.

It’s also old, qualifying for Frank’s photo challenge. Plus it snows in “winter” and there’s a sign for “water”, qualifying for Cee’s photo challenge.

There’s something to be said about aged things. About aged people too. So much depth of character to be found.

Through the Barbed Wire.

While I am tall, I am not all enough to see over the barbed wire. If you’ve seen many of my photos, you know that I am a fan of unique perspective, so I did not let that fact stop me from gathering my photos. I love the pops of color as seen through the barbed wire.

Since I typically shoot with a Sony Alpha 7II, which is a mirrorless camera, I have an electronic viewfinder and usually use that to compose my shots. Mostly, because I’m just old school like that, even though cameras are made for right-handed people and using the viewfinder presses my nose into the camera. I don’t really mind that though because being left-handed in a predominately right-handed world has made me extremely adaptable.

All that to say, that sometimes having the LCD screen with live view comes in handy. To capture the photo above, the camera was well above my head, but I could use the LCD screen to compose my shot.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little walk amongst the trains in the snow!

So much of who we are is where we have been. -William Langewiesche

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

wpc: variations on a theme

The Thing About Silence - a view of freshly fallen snow

The Thing About Silence

Silence.

I wasn’t going to post today.

Silence.

I’m having a melancholy day. It happens to me sometimes. Usually when things are racing along at too frantic of a pace, or one of my teens is causing me internal angst, or it’s winter (sometimes all of the above). As is often the case with melancholy, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly the reasons…if any. I suspect SAD (seasonal affective disorder) may play a role, as well.

Silence and withdrawing are my tendencies on melancholy and high anxiety days.

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The Thing about Silence.

The thing about silence is that sometimes it’s best to speak.

This space with my blog is to spread love and kindness, to share the beauty of the world through my words or my photos, but it’s also a place for me to process. A place to pour out the reality of me. I am often able to look through a lens of gratitude, to focus on the beauty, to remind myself that this too shall pass.

Then there are days when this process of growth on the journey is a little harder.

So today, I write.

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Memories.

After running some necessary (and semi-unneccesary…I discovered bathing suits are in stores …and I have an upcoming trip to Aruba) errands, I decided to pop on Facebook. My nephew’s birthday was yesterday and I had left a message over there. One of the things (and there are really only a few) I do like about that social media space is when it brings up past memories.

One of the memories that Facebook shared for today was actually an Instagram post from two years ago.

This one in fact:

Blog.

I wondered which blog post this was referencing. It was interesting that the post that I wrote on this day two years ago should be about silence. Not only, silence, but the silence brought about by a freshly fallen snow. If you saw my Silent Sunday post, then you know that my take on the weekly photo challenge theme of “silence“, was our most recent snow.

Sometimes I cringe when I read my older posts, but this one was a perfect read for my melancholy spirit. I thought I’d reblog it, but that button seems to have disappeared for the moment. If you’d like to read my post, Silence is Golden, just click on those words.

The post was a reminder to me to search for the beauty in the midst of chaos, to stay in awe and wonder at the gloriousness of it all, to smile along the journey…because this is life.

I hope it offers the same reminder for you.

So, if you are too tired to speak, sit next to me, because, I, too, am fluent in silence. -R. Arnold

Let your light shine!

Amy

30 Days of...

30 Days of…February Challenge

That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil – widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower. -Dorothea in Middlemarch by George Eliot

Reading.

I love to read. I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. Anybody else with me on that?! There are distinct memories of reading The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, in our playhouse. I remember being fascinated by the imagination in Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. There also was the family who would come down to live in the log cabin that they had built by hand. The mother had books lining the shelves and she would let me borrow them. I remember my love as I read Little Women by Lousia May Alcott, and how it moved to the position of my favorite book. The feeling of delight when Mrs. Parker gifted me that copy from her shelf. I was that girl who asked for the hall pass to library during lunches. In seventh grade it was so I could read series, namely The Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin and Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal . 

Classics.

I don’t recall all the books I chose to read throughout the rest of school, but I do remember all the classics that we read in English class.

A few of which included:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • SlaughterHouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Classic Books

There were many other shorter stories, like Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome.  Of course there were all the  Shakespeare Classics as well. I also have read many classics on my own and alongside my children as they’ve read classics for their classes. They’ve even read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, from my well worn copy, which was a gift from my 12th grade English teacher. Another classical reading accomplishment has been that I finally finished reading Walden by Thoreau during my time in the beginning of this blog.

Favorite Book.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë moved to my favorite book over 20 years ago. I don’t often read a book twice, but I made an exception for Jane Eyre. I couldn’t believe my hubby had never read it so we took turns reading a chapter before bed each night. That was when our evenings were quiet. I was pregnant with our oldest (who will turn 18 next month!). We would then be knee deep in three babies and toddlers…and then moves…and more moves. Now we are at that point where the nights are still not quiet because teenagers like to stay up late.

Recent Read.

I’m continuing with my year of #thisis40 endeavor to learn and grow through 30 day challenges. You may be wondering what all this has to do with my 30 day challenge for Februrary. Well I just finished my most recent read, Middlemarch, by George Eliot, yesterday. If you’ve been following for some time, you may recall when I announced that it had come into the library after I had placed it on hold. That post was at the end of October! Granted, in the copy I was reading, Middlemarch was 838 pages long. My hubby thought I must be torturing myself since it took me three months to read it. The reality, however, was that I loved it (some people’s stories took me longer to be interested in than others). In fact, the quote I opened with made the entire book worth it to me. That and the last sentence of the entire story (which I’ve decided not to share since that’s like opening to the last page of a book to see how it ends.) justified all time invested into reading this classic. The real problem and why it took three months was that I wasn’t making reading a priority.

30 Days of...

February Challenge.

Which brings me to my February Challenge:

Read Three Classics in 30 days.

Since there’s obviously not 30 days in February, I will be beginning this challenge a few days early.

Reading Walden

Reading Plan.

I looked up how many pages the average reader tends to read. This Forbes article says that the average adult reads 300 wpm. This website breaks down an estimation of how long some classics will take to read. I will not be reading any classics that I have read in the past. Part of my choices will factor time available and also what books are available to me. My plan is to have a 20 minutes devoted time for reading over the course of 30 days. This is 600 minutes (or 10 hours) over the course of the month.

I also plan to make sure to find a short bio on the authors. Since many of these classics were written before my time, I have relatively little knowledge about the authors behind them unless I read their works in school. The reason behind wanting to read their bio is because I was embarrassed to discover that I had no idea that George Eliot was a pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans.

Great Expectations

What I’m Reading.

I will be starting with reading A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. The main reason for this is because it is in our personal library. One of the teens had planned to read it, but didn’t get to it. I don’t think that I’ve ever finished Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (another book that I own and one of my favorite movies!). I plan to finish it, but it will not count toward my three classics. It is likely that the other two classics will come from this list of short classics that I found on Pinterest. Again, most of the choices depend on what is available to me.

Short Classics

Likely I will try to read:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  AND/OR
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   AND/OR
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway  AND/OR
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley  AND/OR
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

although many others look equally as intriguing.

Longer Classics.

Since it is hard to estimate reading times vs. amount of pages, I will be sure to get in my three Classic novels. Assuming that they take less than the 10 hours to get through (which I am anticipating to be the case) I will continue reading classics throughout the month.

Some that I am considering are:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Opinions?

Have you read any of these? Which would you consider your favorite of the bunch?

What is your all-time favorite classic novel?

I think mine still stands as Jane Eyre.

If you’re in the mood to read some classics…or even if you’re just in the mood to read, I hope you’ll join in with this reading challenge.

Feel free to share what you are currently reading. I’m always looking for a good book to put on my list.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 49

Friday Faves Edition 49

Friday.

I hope that you all have had a beautiful week. I also hope that you have had more sunshine than me (unless, of course, you don’t love sunshine…and then I hope you’ve had whatever weather lifts your spirits). This was a long week to Friday. The teens haven’t been to school for the ENTIRE week. As I mentioned in Monday’s post, and you probably already know, it was a holiday in the United States. Tuesday had already been scheduled as a day off for students and a day of work for teachers to finish up end of the quarter grades.

The little snow symbol kept coming and disappearing on my weather app. Would it come? Would it pass?

The snow came….

Its last minute decision to actually show up meant that the phone call to close school came in the early morning. 5:21 a.m. on my phone, to be exact. Since it wasn’t planning to melt and the roads would be icy…no school on Thursday. I was hoping for a 2 hr delay for today. But nope! Cancelled again!

The teens being home means that most things take me longer because things are more chaotic in general. Music playing, people talking, food to be made, wet clothes to dry, snow and salt and mud to clean (from boots and dogs, mostly).

Friday Faves

 

 

Friday Faves.

But I definitely found time to embrace some things to share for my Friday Faves.

On Monday, the hubby and I went out to lunch at the Green Goat Restaurant, here in Roanoke. I checked out their menu ahead of time since this is my month of going vegetarian. I remembered having had (and liking) the eggplant fries and a Crankpin wrap (lightly breaded portabella mushrooms constitute the “meaty” portion of the wrap), so I knew I would choose that again.

The restaurant is located beside the Greenway, which lends itself to eating outdoors when the weather is warmer. The hubby has actually joined in this challenge so he got their 3 cheese veggie sandwich and we split our dishes. With no room for dessert, we called it a success, left to brave the frigid cold…all the way to the Jeep….and then to settle into the warmth of the house.

Tuesday, I put together the post about the Paul Villinski exhibition at the Taubman Museum of Art. As mentioned above, everything took twice as long due to teens being home. I also started editing my photos for Wednesday’s Photowall post, since I had put my canvas print together over the weekend.

I’m so glad that I put that “ahead of time” work into Wednesday’s post because a good snow requires some time out playing in it.

Snow.

The snow wasn’t that deep, but it was enough for Miss Sunshine and I to go to a nearby hill and take down the snow tube. I shared a video of me flying down the hill on my Instagram story. It’s still in the highlights if you are interested in watching.

Well… then she took me over to the next hill. She tells me that you have to slow yourself down a little toward the end to keep from flying into the ditch. It isn’t a deep ditch…maybe a couple feet. I didn’t record this ride because my phone got covered in snow on the last one and I didn’t want to damage it.

I start down…about halfway down I start trying to dig in my feet. The thing about tubes is they spin. I see Miss Sunshine at the top of the hill…. I’m not stopping…. I yell… “Mis-s S-u-n-s-h-iiii-N-E” (only I use her real name, which slightly shorter, but you get the gist). Oh no, I feel myself flying up over the rise…I know what’s coming… My life is flashing before my eyes (a bit melodramatic?! Yeah, my husband accuses me of that too). I land on my back. The wind should be knocked out of me. I lay there assessing. My wrists hurt. I must have caught myself with them. My left shoulder hurts. I turn my head to the left and see grass poking out of the snow. Ahh… a mound that was higher is what my shoulder landed on. The base of my skull hurts…the last to land.

Miss Sunshine yells down “Are you OK?” She isn’t 100% sure I’m conscious (it really wasn’t that bad of a landing, I just didn’t get up immediately because I’m 40 and things hurt a little more when they are crashed upon….plus… I may have being a little melodramatic because she had sent me spiraling toward my death). She asks me to head to the next hill. I decline, but say that I will go get my camera to take some photos and watch her do the final hills.

Photos.

I’m still sifting through my handful of snow photos, but I thought I’d share a few of them. On our walk back home, I was fiddling with something and dropped my glove. I liked how it landed to appear as if there was someone clawing their way out from beneath the snow.

Filter.

The next two photos are to share how much a filter can change a photo. The photo above I took to capture the fact that the sun just could not break through the clouds. Miss Sunshine was wearing ski goggles and commented on how amazing the sun looked trying to peek through the haze. Then she took her goggles off and realized it did not look exactly the same. She handed me her goggles to check out what she saw.

Through the Ski Goggles.

Looking through the ski goggles definitely created a different image. Her goggles are small so the distortions at the edges were the only way to actually capture the scene and see the difference a filter makes.

I know that I’m always most amazed by the sky when my sunglasses have amber tinted lenses.

Have you ever noticed the color difference in the sky between sunglasses or not? Or the different colored lenses of sunglasses?

Exercise.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention anything about the gym. I’ve been trapped! Cabin fever! I shoveled the snow from our entire driveway. I have three teens who could have done it. Two of which are strapping young men, who stand over 6′. I needed to do it. I could feel my anxiety rising and it helped burn through some of it. Then today, I got to go to Pilates! My first time in the gym all week. I will probably hurt tomorrow.

Travel.

In yesterday’s post on our hotel stay in Edinburgh, I mentioned that one of the major things I’d been working on was travel plans. While my mother and I are still working out the plans for a trip together, it is looking like it’s firming up to be a return trip to Scotland.

However, we did firm up spring break! Just like that gloved hand saying “get me outta here”…. we decided we wanted a warm weather vacation.

So we’re going to Aruba!!!

Even though I was born and raised in Florida, I have no recollection of crystal clear water. I grew up on the Gulf Coast, where the water appears. blue-gray. Once, I traveled to Key Largo and snorkeled in the canal behind the house, but don’t remember much about the water beyond that. Finally, I lived on the East Coast of Florida and only recall one day out on the boat where you could see down into the depths, but never at the shoreline. To say that I am excited is an understatement.

I will be bringing lots of sunscreen because not only did I come out of the womb pale, my legs have been hidden from sunlight since there was even a glimpse of winter on the horizon.

Any tips for a Caribbean vacation?

Music.

Of course, you have to already know what song I have picked. As soon as we decided on our travel plans, it popped into my head and the singing has been going on ever since.

Aruba, Jamaica… Ooh, I wanna take ya…

Bermuda, Bahama, c’mon pretty mama…

I actually saw the Beach Boys in concert when we lived in Florida and had annual passes to the theme parks.

We are continuing to thaw out and should see warm weather this weekend! I hope that you find a moment that warms your heart in the coming week.

Even if your body wants to rebel, I hope you get out there and find the freedom of adventure that you had as a child. You might find yourself landing in a ditch, but it’ll be exhilarating until then. 😉

Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young. - J.K. Rowling | Albus Dumbledore

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Princes Street Suites Edinburgh Scotland

Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland.

I can’t believe that 7 months have already passed by since I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland with my mother and aunt. I’m working on travel plans for 2018. Spring break has been booked. Look for the announcement in tomorrow’s Friday Faves. I’m also working on a trip with my mother. We are still hashing out the destination and details. I’ve received a few questions about my travels to Scotland, so today I thought I’d share about where we stayed during the Edinburgh portion of our trip to Scotland.

Princes Street Suites.

During our time in Edinburgh, Scotland we stayed at Princes Street Suites, which is located at 16 Waterloo Place. We needed a space that would sleep three adults and found this hotel on Expedia. We booked their three bedroom apartment.

Based on its location, I had planned that we would take the tram from the Edinburgh Airport. Unfortunately, there had been a fatal accident involving a bicyclist on the day of our arrival. The tram would not be able to make it to where we needed to disembark. The attendant suggested that we take the bus, which would let us off at Waverly Bridge. From Waverly Bridge, we followed google maps to our destination.

A word of caution: You should familiarize yourself with the exterior of the hotel. We were on the opposite side of the road and could not see the hotel signage due to it being behind a bus stop shelter. I recognized the exterior of the hotel and we crossed to find the entrance.

Waterloo Place.

The location of Princes Street Suites is at Waterloo Place, which is a section of Edinburgh just outside of the heavier traffic.

This selfie was to see how I looked in my mother’s Ray-Bans. We dropped off our luggage and went over to Howie’s Restaurant (which also has a location on Victoria Street) for an outside lunch before heading back to the hotel for showers and a short “jet lag” nap. I’ve included it to give you bearing on the location of the Princes Street Suites.

The clock tower in the background is the Balmoral Hotel. The greenery to my left is the Old Calton Burial Ground. The building to its right is Princes Street Suites. I did not know the hotel was located next to a cemetery, but it didn’t bother me. The hotel didn’t feel creepy and no spirits came to visit me.

So let’s go inside the suite!

Inside the Suite.

We actually stayed at Princes Street Suites on two separate occasions. This was the hotel that we stayed at during the beginning of our journey and also on our return from Glasgow. We stayed in a three bedroom apartment each time, but the layouts were slightly different. This was inside the suite during our first stay.

Layout

The suite had a nice layout. After entering through the key card portion of the door, there was a hallway with 2 bedrooms and a bathroom along it. Then you could keep going to the master bedroom or turn to pass through a set of double doors to the living room and kitchen. The fact that these doors closed was nice. That way if somebody arose before the others, they could cut down on any noise from the television or moving about the kitchen.

Washer/Dryer

A word of caution: the door to the left in the photo contains a washer/dryer combo. While we brought enough clothes for the entire travels, we thought “Hey, it has a washer and dryer. Let’s take clean clothes to Glasgow.” After much time in the dryer…the clock passing midnight…the clothes still too wet to pack…somebody having been called up to check that the dryer was indeed working… I had to hand dry our clothes.

Wondering what that means? It means that I used a hair dryer to dry them. Unlike my hair dryer at home, this hair dry did not lock into the “on” position, it had to be held on. After the clock turning it’s hands round some more, they were dry enough to pack.

I can look back and laugh at it all now, but learn from my mistake. Only use this combo for what I discovered the hard way to be its actual intent. This is for those stains you don’t want to have set in to your favorite shirt or because it rained and you went through more socks than you anticipated.

Living Room/Dining Room.

When we were at the hotel we spent a lot of time in the living room/dining room portion of the apartment. I was traveling with my mother and aunt and we would sit here and plan our next day, rehash the exciting parts of the current day, and reminisce on family memories.

The glass door beside the dining table opened onto a balcony. The view out the window to the left (not pictured) was of Arthur’s Seat.

Shortbread House of Edinburgh

The little touches.

I am a person who appreciates the little touches. Not only were there packets of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available, but the kitchen counter also included shortbread cookies and there was a pint of fresh milk in the refrigerator.

We did eat out quite often because we wanted to experience all the foods of Scotland, but sometimes we used the benefit of the full kitchen. We walked to Sainsbury’s, which is on St. Andrews Square. South St. David’s Street (which is off of Princes Street and opposite the Scott Monument) turns into St. Andrews Square as you walk along. If you travel to the grocery store, don’t forget to bring a bag!

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Master Bedroom.

My mother and aunt dropped their bags into the first rooms they came upon. When I made it to the third room, I discovered it was the master bedroom (it had its own bathroom). I offered to give it to one of them, but they declined since they’d already put down their things. The second time we stayed here, I purposely sought a guest bedroom.

The view from the bedroom is visible on my title photo. There is not air conditioning at this hotel (which I’ve discovered, since beginning to travel, is common outside of the United States). The window opened, but the bars are in place since we are not on the ground floor. I slept with the window open since I like a cool room.

The hotel is located beside Waverly Station, which made our accessibility to travel by train super easy. However, if you cannot sleep with exterior noises, you should know that you can hear the calling of trains from the speakers of the stations. I do think that there is a certain time of night until morning that the trains do not run, but I could not find a place to verify this. I only know that I slept until the sun began to lighten the sky outside my window (which, for me, tended to be around 5:30 a.m….it actually rises earlier than that).

We were there the first week in June and sunset isn’t until close to 10:00 at night, so you can get in lots of sight-seeing.

Rooftop Terrace.

Or you can head up to the rooftop terrace of Princes Street Suites for amazing views of the city. This was one of my favorite parts of the hotel. You might recall a photo of me sitting up here in my This is 40 post. I actually have so many shots of the spectaclar views from this rooftop terrace that you should look for a future post titled – Views From the Rooftop Terrace of Princes Street Suites.

Cemetery View.

I chose to include this view because I mentioned that the hotel is located beside Old Calton Burial Ground. The Old Calton Cemetery was first opened in 1718. We walked around the cemetery and I will look through my photo archives to see what I have to share.

Rising up in the left of this photo is Nelson Monument. My mother and I climbed to the top of it after our lunch on the first day in Edinburgh. Hidden slightly behind the trees, to the left of Nelson Monument, is the National Monument of ScotlandThe obelisk rising in the foreground is the Political Martyrs’ Monument. The building (that reminds me of a castle) rising to the right is the Governor’s House. It is a turreted house and is the only remaining portion of the Calton Jail, which was built in in 1817 and at that time was the second largest prison in Scotland.

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Tidbits.

A few more tidbits about a visit to Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh. As mentioned above, the hotel is located next to Waverly Station. In fact, you can see that sign “A place that only exists in moonlight” (which I loved!) below my hand in the shortbread photo.

Train.

We used the train to make a day trip up to Stirling Castle. We also departed from here when we traveled to Glasgow and for our ancestral journey to Airdrie. While we did not take any guided tours, the tours with Rabbie’s depart just a short walk from this hotel.

Walking.

From the hotel, not only did we use the train, but we had no problem walking to many places. We visited nearby Calton Hill. Later, we walked along Princes Street and in the Princes Street Gardens. During our time, we also made our way over to the Grassmarket and Victoria Street. We grabbed dessert at the Elephant House. We strolled along the Royal Mile.

Bus Tour.

On our second stay in Edinburgh, we toured on the hop-on hop-off bus. The starting location of the tours is at Waverly Bridge, which was easily walkable for Princes Street Suites. Not only were the buses a great way to get around the city, we had purchased the Royal Edinburgh ticket, which got us into Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the Royal Yacht BritanniaOne of the bus lines also had a stop by Calton Hill. We took this on a day that we got caught in the rain. We had planned to run from Calton Hill to the hotel. However, there were only a few passengers so the driver pulled into a bus stop much closer to our hotel (how awesome is that!).

I know my doors this week are on the plainer side, but I’m sure if you pop of to Norm’s blog and click on the blue frog, you’ll see some amazing doors from around the world.

I’m sure I’m leaving out many more details, so if you have any questions feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust

Let your light shine!

Amy