Friday Faves Edition 67

Friday Faves Edition 67

Friday Faves.

Say what?!

Here on a Friday…and with faves?

It can’t be!

Edition 67.

It’s true!

Recently, you’ve noticed that I’ve been doing more “what’s up lately” posts. That was because I didn’t necessarily have any faves to share, just some conversations that invited you to take a peek into my life.

While I don’t have tons of “faves” this week, I do have a few to share.

Eggplant Parmesan.

I hadn’t made any meals for a while that took effort required prep. This week I decided to make eggplant parmesan.

I had a recipe that my father-in-law gave me ages ago.

The recipe technically originated with my husband’s college roommate who was an Italian guy from New York.

I was extremely pleased with the tasty outcome.

Sadly, I woke up in the night in pain around the diaphragm region of my digestive system. It wasn’t the type of pain that any medicine I know can fix, so I just suffered through. Possible suspects are mozzarella cheese or eggplant (nightshade). I don’t think it was the parmesan cheese or the tomatoes because I eat those more often. Then again, maybe it wasn’t either because I ate some leftovers at lunch and think I was fine.

I will be making it again. However, if I have a repeat scenario, then I will truly need to determine if one of those foods need to be removed from my diet.

Do you eat eggplant? If so, what’s your favorite dish that includes it?

Mama’s Birthday.

If you missed it on Instagram, my mother’s birthday was Wednesday. Last year, I wrote about the genealogy portion of our first trip to Scotland . The year before that I wrote her a poem. This year I shared this photo of us at the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland along with how much she teaches me about personal growth. It also reminded me that I still have so many photos and tales to share from our UK journey.

Photography.

I’ve been working a little more on editing my photos, but still haven’t fully settled back into my routines. I would like to make more forward progress on learning Lightroom and need to move it to “priority” status.

Grammarly.

I told you in my last “what’s up lately” post that I’d been working on Pinterest and old posts. Well, I finally decided to get Grammarly. I know some of you are thinking “hallelujah!” Actually, as I’m going through old posts (and I still have tons to go), there aren’t that many errors, but there are definitely some that slipped passed me.

It’s a massive pet peeve of mine when they slip past me too. I catch most errors in books that I read and wonder how a bestseller made it through the editor with an error. Now I know. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I publicly and sincerely apologize to all those editors I’ve judged in my mind.

Blog Traffic.

I’m also cleaning up some of the SEO because when I started this blog I had no knowledge about the inner working of the internet. I only knew how to spill my thoughts through my fingertips onto a keyboard. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still don’t get that much traffic. Some days I’m okay with that. Other days I wonder if it’s me. Some days I think I don’t have a clue about marketing. Other days I think it’s because I don’t self-host.

Do you self-host? Do you have a way that you market your blog?

Reading Challenge.

While I was going through some old posts I came across the one about reading challenge that I did.

In it, I shared a 2018 reading challenge that I was going to participate in. To be honest, I kind of forgot about it. I have done lots of reading since then, it’s just that most didn’t qualify for the topics. I’ve decided to renew my efforts and finish it out before the end of the year.

In case you’ve forgotten about the challenge, here it is along with my reading so far.

The Details.

  • A classic you’ve been meaning to read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • A book recommended by someone with great taste The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  • A book in translation –The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • A book nominated for an award in 2018 – The Power by Naomi Alderman (after The Alchemist)
  • A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
  • A book you can read in a dayThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A book that’s more than 500 pages – Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés Ph.D.
  • A book by a favorite author
  • A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
  • A banned bookThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • A memoir, biography, or work of creative nonfiction The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion other than your own.  – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (next up)

I’m currently finishing Women Who Run With the Wolves which was recommended to me. Have you read it?

The Alchemist has been on my list for quite some time. I stumbled across Paulo Coelho once while looking for quotes. I almost bought a book of his poetry while at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Have you read anything good lately?

Exercise.

As I mentioned before, I’m settling back into my Pilates classes. Somebody mentioned to me that they needed to take something like that to relax (or something similar with the implication of it being mellow). And it probably is compared to the workouts they do.

However, I don’t find anything mellow about the class.

It is not cardio and so perhaps that is what lends to the perceived “mellow”.

For me, Pilates has transformed my entire body. Am I where I want to be? No. But I’m a heck of a lot stronger than I’ve ever been. And when I’m doing arm work, with my little three pound weights focusing on form and quality of movement, in front of the mirror, I am in awe of the muscle definition that wasn’t there just two years ago.

And it feels nice to be in awe and admire something about my body because I constantly fight with my own body image issues.

I do need to add in more cardio. I stopped running when I got busy…and I don’t love running. Sorry to all you runners out there, but I just don’t. However, I do like hiking. The rain appears to be finally leaving (at least for now) so I’m hoping to get out and hike over the weekend. We have also discussed going kayaking on the lake. Or taking the paddleboard if the water isn’t too cold.

What is your favorite form of exercise?

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Husband’s Birthday.

No matter what we end up doing over the weekend, I’m sure it’ll be fun because I’ll be spending time with my husband.

September is a big month for birthdays in our family and today is his.

Last year I shared a post about Houseboats of Amsterdam  as his gift. He’s still trying to convince me to live on a boat at some point. Most recently it was a sailboat! We’ve owned a small sailboat before, but we didn’t go far offshore. I told him that we should probably take a sailing cruise first to make sure I don’t get seasick!

How about you? Do you like boating? Sailing? Cruises?

How do you plan to spend your weekend?

I hope it’s filled with lots of laughter and fresh air.

And even though I’ve shared this quote recently, in light of my upcoming reading of Coelho, I share it again.

Plus, I absolutely love its message.

Sometimes I get confused on this journey and try to be what I think everyone thinks I should be, but there is great freedom in becoming who you were always meant to be.

Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. -Paulo Coelho

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 66

Friday Faves Edition 66

Friday.

It’s Friday and as promised, I’m back!!

Last Friday, I was preparing to watch my oldest son graduate from high school!

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Friday Faves.

Sometimes the term Friday Faves doesn’t seem quite the accurate statement. I definitely have some faves to share, but I also have things that are not faves (far from it, in fact) that I need to talk about as well.

Life.

A conversation about life…my life…the lives of others…life in general.

Before Graduation.

Leading up to Big Mr.’s graduation, our schedule was pretty chaotic.

Mr. D had a random schedule because he had some finals to take and they are given in two-hour windows.

Miss Sunshine had an 8th-grade field trip to Washington D.C. on June 5th. We had to have her to the school by 4:45 a.m., with a “planned”, pick up time that night of midnight. The best-laid plans…right?! I know that they can’t calculate traffic and never come back at that time. We had Big Mr. on standby to pick her up. I stayed awake, but barely. She got in about 1:00 a.m. Her English teacher had told them there would be a quiz the last day of school, so she chose to go in for that morning block. I’ll refrain from publicly making commentary on my thoughts surrounding the situation.

My parents got in Wednesday afternoon. We took them up to the Roanoke Star on Thursday and then Thursday night, I took them on a drive through downtown Roanoke. Mostly we stayed around the house visiting.

Dress Rehearsal.

Big Mr. tried on his cap and gown for us and my mom and I snapped a few pics. There are some that are quite hilarious because his attention span for photos is rather short and he starts being silly to indicate “enough”. I’m sure if he could have gotten away with wearing flip-flops to his actual graduation, he would have.

Graduation Day.

While he did wear khakis, boat shoes, a dress shirt, and tie to his graduation, his one claim to his own personal style was the necklace.

The necklace is a strand of cedar beads. That is what I was told they are called when I bought them from a roadside stand in Arizona on my honeymoon. I purchased them because they keep nightmares away and while they were worse in my 20’s, nightmares are a frequent part of my dreams. In digging around, it seems that the necklace is mainly known as a Navajo Ghost Bead Necklace and is made from Juniper Berries.

Big Mr. was wearing them because he’s been wanting to rock some beads recently, but it still felt special because even though I purchased other jewelry and pottery on my honeymoon, this is the one piece that I bought because of the story behind it. While I don’t sleep in necklaces (I have a fear of strangulation) and so didn’t advocate it for my children, I did hang them above the bed of one of my children when they were having night terrors.

The beads are also thought to represent an interconnection of the earth, trees, animals, and humans and bring harmony and safety to the wearer. What a perfect thing to wear on such an important day. One teacher did suggest he remove them, but he just tucked them in a little.

Party Time.

In my past, I used to host our entire family in Florida for parties. It felt a little strange that it was only my parents, but we embraced the time to celebrate together.

Photos.

Big Mr. had already stripped out of the cap and gown before I made it through the nasty graduation traffic and back home. I may have him put it back on and snap more photos, but for today, I’m happy with the few that I was able to capture.

Beach Week.

Big Mr. left for beach week along with many of his graduating classmates. He will return home soon. The house feels a little quieter with him away, but I know it won’t be long until this is the norm.

Death.

I don’t know how far news travels, but you may have heard about the triple homicide in Bent Mountain, Virginia. If you hadn’t and your breath has just been taken away, that is how I felt Wednesday morning. I don’t watch the news very often and hadn’t recently. I heard about it from my hairdresser. When she told me their ages, I suspected that either Big Mr. or Mr. D might know the people. She didn’t know the names, but I pulled out my phone and googled it. I knew right away that it was likely that the boys might know them. They did. The 20-year-old was a skateboarder, something my boys did quite often when they moved here. The 18-year-old girl, a classmate of Big Mr.

I knew her name.

It’s strange the little things you remember. Her name felt familiar because the last name is the same as someone well-known in this country. It made me stop a little longer and notice it at that time. I had read a quote from her in the yearbook. They were words about travel and culture, something that you know I am passionate about. Words that she will never get to fulfill. Ones that have been horribly stripped away from her. It broke my heart both as a mother and as a human. A week ago, I watched her walk across the stage and take her diploma in hand. The world a bright, open future. A world stolen.

The community is in shock, three families left without a piece of their lives and countless others heartbroken over never seeing their smiling faces again.

Be the light.

I have to believe that the good in the world outweighs those who are blackened with evil. Many days I fail to be the person I’d like to be, but I still try to spread my light through the little circle of influence that I have.

I encourage you to be the light as well.

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the blog and social media front. I have been writing more and reading more and trying to be fully present when my family is home.

Miss Sunshine and I head down to Florida next week. While I will miss my hubby and the boys tremendously, my heart is happy that I will be seeing family and friends that I have missed. I will be letting them know how important they are to my life by making time to just be present with them.

Still, I’ll be working on my photos and the blog in the wee hours of the nights and mornings, but I expect to only be here a few times a week during the three weeks that I am gone.

I hope that you have a stunning weekend and light-filled week. I hope there are more smiles than tears and that you find a moment to speak a kind word into somebody’s soul.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr quote quotes photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 65

Friday Faves Edition 65

Friday.

Hello Friday!!

Bring on the weekend!!

I say that, but the forecast is still calling for thunderstorms. They appear to be scattered storms, so I’m hoping there will be some breaks of sunshine in between.

How is the weather in your area?

 

Friday Faves.

I do have some Friday Faves to share, but also just some news about life and such.

Flooding.

It had rained here most of the time that I was away in the U.K. That led to saturated grounds. The area of Roanoke in which I live was hit with a storm last Sunday that dropped 6 1/2 inches of rain in three hours, causing flash floods and mudslides.

I have some friends that shared that they had to be diverted off of the main road because sections of it were impassable. Big Mr was with a friend over near our local library and said a flooded area was as wide as the Roanoke River. They had to turn around because the water was too deep, and that was even barely into the swath.

I was at home quite oblivious to the extent to which the waters were rushing until I saw the footage. Our property slopes downward with our home sitting on a hill. We are toward the bottom of what you could call a mountain…or a larger hill, but I’m not sure there is anything that would mudslide toward us. The placement of our home also means that our basement doesn’t flood.

Driving Miss Sunshine to school and passing along the road that runs near the high school, there are piles out for the trash that you can tell came from flooded basements. My heart is heavy for all those who have damage to deal with and memories that have been lost.

Memorial Day.

Monday was Memorial Day.

I spent time with my family and the hubby and I looked for some furniture for the back deck. Right now we are down to two plastic Adirondack chairs that we bought for seating when we first moved to Virginia because our furniture hadn’t yet arrived. Of the two that are left of the initial five, one is broken and it is a matter of time before the seat fully gives way.

I didn’t find anything, but I do have some ideas for what I may get.

The Next Phase.

Big Mr. doesn’t graduate from high school until next Friday, but he is finished with school.

On Tuesday, they had a Senior Day where there is a field day for the Seniors (this was moved indoors due to the rain), and along with their graduation practice, they decorate their caps to showcase where they are going after high school.

University.

Big Mr. will be heading to Virginia Tech in the fall. They sent him this sign to stick to his cap. Some of the Seniors get very creative in decorating their caps (everything must be removable for the actual graduation ceremony).

My High School Graduation Memories.

It’s funny what your mind chooses to remember.

I needed to get the wrinkles out of his gown. I was talking with my mom about how strange it was that they come all folded in a package with deep wrinkles and asked her if she had to iron my gown for high school graduation.

The answer was yes.

And yet, I have no recollection about how I received my cap and gown, only wearing it (wrinkle free). I also recall a big discussion with my three close friends about the possibilities of rebelling against the fact that we were expected to wear dress shoes. I’m pretty sure there were more details to the type of shoe required, but we were told that they would be inspecting them in the lineup, prior to our ceremony, and we would be pulled from the lineup if not wearing dress shoes. We tried to come up with a way to switch to white Converse after inspection. We even had a teacher who encouraged our idea (he was a total nonconformist). In the end…we became like sheep and conformed because we had family in the stands and didn’t want to take the chance of not getting to walk in graduation.

What do you remember about your own high school graduation?

Yoga.

This week also finished out my May Challenge…31 days of yoga poses. It was wonderful to have Dee Dee come along with me on this journey.

I shared my pose each day on my Instagram Stories.

At this time, I have all 31 days shared on my Instagram Page under the Highlights section.

I thought I’d share a couple of my favorites from this week.

The Wheel Pose shown above wasn’t technically on the pose challenge. It was on the day of the Camel Pose. I can’t seem to touch my toes in Camel Pose without bringing my hips farther back than my knees and yet I can do the backbend required for Wheel Pose.

This shot was me proving to myself that I could still do the Wheel Pose.

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Dancer Pose.

Dancer Pose is one of my favorite poses.

I feel graceful when I am in the pose, even if that is not the visual reality.

I was never a dancer, but I recall a time in my drama class where somebody’s mother came in to show us some ballet moves for the choreography of a musical we would be performing. I can’t remember exactly what she said to me, but it was a compliment in regards to the fact that my long arms and legs made the moves look nice.

I was the person in drama who took the leftover roles because I loved acting (playing the part of someone else), but did not audition (which required “me” to get up in front of my peers) for any part. This compliment from a stranger in front of my class meant a lot and stuck with me.

Crow Pose.

The final pose was the crane pose. Crane Pose requires straight arms and your knees pressed into your armpits. I was happy with crow pose. I’m of the opinion that any arm balance is a good arm balance.

Writing.

If you have already seen my June Challenge, then you know that today I will begin spending 20 minutes a day working a story or two that I began writing last year or possibly even coming up with an entirely new story.

This does mean that I will again be learning time management.

Film.

I had considered making June a month of no TV, but I do have a couple of shows that I like to watch with the hubby and rarely watch it outside of that.

Even on the long haul flight to and from the U.K., I did more reading than movie watching.

I managed to start and finish The Handmaid’s Tale and I started Red Queen. Once home, I’ve been a little sidetracked by simultaneously reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I stumbled upon it at the library and recognized it from knowing that she gave a TED talk on it (which I haven’t yet watched).

However, on the way over I did watch Lady Bird, which I watched again last night. This time with the hubby.

I also watched Black Panther and It on the return flight.

I didn’t love It as much as I expected to love it. I read and watched lots of Stephen King in my late teens.

Have you watched any great movies or shows lately?

How about any amazing books?

Outlander.

I also picked up Season 1 of Outlander. I’m always late to hop on the bandwagon, but after my time in the Highlands, I’m curious to see the show.

What about you? Have you seen Outlander?

The photo is from our day trip around the Isle of Skye. This was our tour guide Sandy and the photo was taken toward the end of the trip.

That is Eilean Donan castle in the background.

I’m still getting around to processing my photos from my time away. Graduation time is a busy time.

In case you missed it, I did share some views from the River Clyde in Glasgow in this post and some Doors of London in this post.

I will not be back next week with a round of Friday Faves because Big Mr.’s graduation is in the middle of the day and my parents will be coming up for that as well.

I’ll have some posts up during the week though and will be back for Faves the following Friday.

I hope that you have an awesome weekend and week ahead.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 64

Friday Faves Edition 64

Friday.

Well if you hadn’t already guessed, I’ve made it back from the U.K.

I arrived back in Virginia on Tuesday evening.

…and have been playing catch up ever since.

Friday Faves.

I’m still playing catch up, but I thought I’d pop in with a few of my Friday Faves.

I returned home to our upstairs a/c being out…it had been out for a week…but the service calls require you to be available and the hubby has a job in a different city…so, no bueno… and I dealt with that on day one of my return.

While I was away Miss Sunshine had her middle school spring sports banquet and was awarded Offensive Player of the Year.

Mr. D made it to his AP exams.

I also heard a rumor that my three teens know how to pack their own lunches and wash their own clothes. Upon my return, I learned that I’m not sure it was a factual rumor because I am back in the food packing and clothes washing business.

Big Mr. took his final test of high school yesterday and over the weekend we will be signing him up for his July University orientation.

I was so busy since my return that it was only this morning that I found time to import my photos from the trip. It will take me a while to sift through them since there were around 1,200 photos. I’m sure many will make their way to the trash pile, but I’m hoping the majority will have turned out nicely.

I thought that I’d share a quick few today, but be on the lookout for more in the future.

Isle of Lewis.

We had one day in the Outer Hebrides on the Isle of Lewis.

It was an early morning!

We caught the local bus in Inverness at 5:10 am to the airport for a 7:00 am flight. After landing, we picked up our rental car and headed straight out to the Callanish Standing Stones.

It was a day full of adventure before heading back to the airport in time for our 5:00 pm flight.

I have so much more to share about our day here, but that’ll have to wait until a future post.

Isle of Skye.

We had a bus tour that took us all over the Isle of Skye along with some more stops.

This shot of my mother and me was taken at our stop to see the Quiraing. It had rained just a bit earlier and the cloud cover was low. It did start to clear up some as we made our descent.

I’ll share more in the future.

I didn’t mind the low clouds and the element of mystery they created, but I’m hoping as I sift through the photos that it translated well in the captures.

Highland Coo.

And lastly, a selfie with a Highland Coo. They were just so adorable. I was hoping that I’d be able to see one up close!

Weekend.

That’s all I have for today.

So much to do, so little time!

I hope that you all have a light-filled weekend.

We’ll be enjoying the three day Memorial Day Weekend.

Catch up with you all soon!

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. - Dorothea Lange. Photo quote placed over photo of Victoria Street in Edinburgh Scotland

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 63

Friday Faves Edition 63

Friday.

Here we are once again at Friday.

This week has both been longer than I could ever imagine and yet shorter than I thought.

Have you ever had a week like that?

Friday Faves.

You may have noticed that I’ve been around the blogosphere a little less this week. That trend is likely to continue. I have prepping to do before I leave for my UK travels. I have almost 2 weeks of travel. Then, I have the end of the school year stuff for three teenagers, one of which is graduating from high school.

However, I wanted to pop in to catch up and share my Friday Faves.

I won’t be posting Friday Faves for the next two weeks since I fly down to Florida next Wednesday.

I hope to give you an update through the blog during my time away, but honestly, the best way to follow what is going on will be through my Instagram stories.

The reason for that is because they are much quicker to produce and I want to savor my time away with my mother.

Travel Plans.

As a recap, if you are new to my blog: I head to Naples, FL next Wednesday. My mother and I will be flying to London from Miami. After 2 days in London, we head to Inverness where we will take a day trip over to Isle of Lewis, a day tour that includes seeing the Isle of Skye, and a cruise along Loch Ness (Nessie…I’m really hoping you make it to our appointment). We then head down to Edinburgh for a few days before traveling back to London for our flight back to the U.S. I have planned in an extra day to lounge on the beach and visit more family.

What I’ve Been Up To Lately.

Over the weekend, the hubby and I did some shopping to pick up a few pieces that I need for my travels. I’ve had some jeans for more years than I can count and they had finally “worn” out their welcome. I did find some replacements. This weekend I will fully assess what I need to pack (procrastination at its finest).

We also traveled over to visit my mother-in-law. Since the hubby and I are doing predominately a vegan diet, I needed to pick up something from the grocery store for lunch. I chose to make a sandwich consisting of avocado and tomato on toasted sourdough bread. I’ve recreated it at home and added alfalfa sprouts as well, and it is my new favorite sandwich!!

Most of the week has been checking off boxes…teen to orthodontist, hair appointment, a/c service, attending soccer games, editing soccer photos, rounding up graduation announcements, tweaking itineraries, cleaning house, parenting.

With a few stressful moments thrown in…parenting.

May Challenge.

This week signaled the end of the April Challenge, which I did complete and will likely reflect on in the future.

It also began my May Challenge, 30 days of 30 yoga poses.

I’ve shared my first three days on the Instagram stories. It’s likely that I’ll continue to do so over the course of the challenge.

I know many of you said you’d be cheering for me from the sidelines. A huge “thank you” to all of you. Dee Dee from Invisible-No-More is joining along with me and posting her poses to her Instagram feed. She’s found some awesome places to capture her poses!

Mountain Pose.

Day 1 was Mountain Pose.

Maverick decided that he wanted to join along with me. Which was a nice added perk. It also made Miss Sunshine less reluctant to take photos of me after her long day of school and soccer practice.

Child’s Pose.

Day 2 was Child’s Pose.

I love this shot because Maverick looks like he is bowing down, and child’s pose can have a similar look.

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On my blog, I usually participate in Wordless Wednesday. A photo posted that speaks for itself. This is the photo I chose for today and it does speak for itself, but I also chose it because the weekly prompt that I was interpreting was “unlikely.” 💦 I chose this photo because if you had asked me when I was 16 to peer into my future 🔮 it is “unlikely” I would have seen myself standing at Natural Bridge in Aruba, watching as my own 16 year old son made his way across the rocks to witness the waves crash against the limestone. This side of Aruba makes you feel like you are at the edge of the world. Nothing but an expanse of blue as you look away from the island. Pounding surf, relentlessly crashing against the cliffs. It truly is a breathtaking place 💦 #seekthesimplicity #beautyinthechaos #dreamchaser #roamtheplanet #aruba #onehappyisland #jetsetfamily #lifeofadventure #doyoutravel #travelbug #travelstoke #traveldiaries #traveldeeper #natgeotravel #tlpicks #stayandwander #fromwhereistand #thehappynow #exploretocreate #artofvisuals #optoutside #exploremore #darlingescapes #oceandweller #familytravel #naturehippys

A post shared by Amy Lyon Smith (@amy.lyon.smith) on

Instagram and Photo Challenge.

If you saw my Wordless Wednesday, then this photo is familiar. I almost opted not to make it wordless and to share why I was using it since I was also interpreting the prompt from the weekly photo challenge.

In the end, I decided to keep it wordless and share its backstory today.

Food.

Since I know that I will most definitely be trying new foods in the UK, I wanted to be sure that my stomach will not rebel. While the week has been mostly vegan, I did eat eggs last weekend. The hubby and I also went out to dinner on Wednesday night. I had steak and shrimp, along with mashed potatoes. I do think it affected my digestive system somewhat, but I don’t think I’ll be curled up in a hotel room in London or Scotland. I really think dairy is not my friend…but I still may eat some cheese while I’m over there!

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine finished up her middle school soccer season last night. We will be having their team banquet tonight. The game location was a good drive away and by the time we made it home, it was 7:30 ish at night.

I popped off my sandals…threw on some workout attire…rounded up the hubby…

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Cow Pose.

And started on day 3 of the yoga challenge.

Cow to Cat Pose.

As soon as I pulled out the mat, Maverick thought it was play time. He did not join in on Cow Pose.

But…

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He crawled into my face and started trying to give me kisses.

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Cat Pose.

He ended up moving for the second part of day three.

Cat Pose.

If only he were actually trained to do the poses because he is amazing at this one. I’ve never seen a dog stretch like a cat before, but he does! He can articulate each vertebra as he rolls through stretching his back.

That’s really been most of my week. I have to get bills lined up to be paid, make sure the calendar of where the teens need to be is up-to-date, round up any necessary items to travel with, decided whether I’m packing a tripod….and the list goes on.

If you’re over on Instagram, I hope that you’ll follow along with my journey. And if you aren’t…well…I’ll have lots of tales to share with you when I return.

I hope you have days filled with excitement ahead. And smile, it always brightens the day.

In closing…because I must… “May the Fourth be with you.”

 

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 62

Friday Faves Edition 62

Friday.

I can’t believe that it’s already Friday!

Not only that, it’s the last Friday in April!

Friday Faves.

Most of my week has been checking off boxes…but they have made me feel productive so they also qualify for my Friday Faves.

Over the weekend, I became more deliberate in my efforts to get my photos backed up to an external hard drive. I need the space on my laptop and I needed to feel comfortable about deleting the photos stored on my camera.

I still quite a way to go, but I made substantial headway.

Humor.

They say that laughter is the best medicine.

I was trying to film a story for Instagram and Miss Sunshine kept waiting until I’d start recording and then ask me random questions.

It was quite hilarious.

Finally, I told her that I was going to post the one where she’d deepened her voice and said something random. She quickly deleted that one from my phone.

Then, I thought perhaps she’d head to the kitchen to eat her food, but she still photobombed me. I could see her from the corner of my eye, but thought I’d be able to maintain my composure.

I didn’t.

This one did get posted to my Instagram story. Followed by my original intent of asking people what they found the hardest to give up on a vegan diet.

Vegan.

I have been following a mostly vegan diet for almost 3 weeks. We did make a conscious decision to eat vegetarian on Sunday because we needed to have a family meeting about summer plans.

Finding a restaurant that everyone likes is hard enough. We opted for Mellow Mushroom, which is a pizza place. The hubby and I got their Veg Out pizza and it was sooo good.

I am aware that Mellow Mushroom offers vegan cheese. However, I haven’t tried vegan cheese before and I notoriously choose items when dining out that turn out to be repulsive. Just ask my family about that time in Paris when the pasta dish I ordered came with a raw egg cracked on top. I ate around it and then waited to finish what was left on the other 4 plates!

I do plan to eat all types of food when I travel to the UK in two weeks. Given the fact that it may indeed bother my stomach, there will be days here and there leading up to it where I will add in things I’ve cut out to see if they bother my digestive system.

If you’re curious about the picture of the vegan lunch I made one day, it’s Toasted Flax Ezekiel Bread, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Cucumber, Tomato, Shredded Carrots, Alfalfa Sprouts, and a bit of Red Onion.

The hubby finds that eating vegan agrees very well with him. I still haven’t found the proper ratios (or maybe vitamins and minerals) for my body. I think it shifted my hormones and I had a few days recently where I wanted to take a nap (but didn’t) in the afternoon. Occasionally, I also feel what I call a hollowness (for lack of a better explanation). Not necessarily hungry, but sort of.

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

We’ll be using all of those when my mom and I travel to the UK.

Yep. You read that right.

My mom and I decided to rent a car for our day on the Isle of Lewis. There is public transportation, but with only having a day, the timetable left us fairly restricted. My mom is going to be the driver while I navigate. Eek!

I also booked the remainder of our trains, so there is only some to and from the airport in Inverness stuff left to deal with, but buses and taxis are both available.

Packing.

I think that I’m going to bring my tripod with me on this trip, which is another reason why my suitcase needs to be packed lightly. The tripod only weighs a little over five pounds, so it should be fine.

One of my thoughts behind packing leggings….which I haven’t shopped for yet…was minimizing space.

I learn a little more about packing each time I travel though, and while I love to look cute in a city, I much more prefer staying dry…warm…packing lightly… than I care about making a fashion statement.

Challenge.

I made the announcement for my May Challenge. The fact that I will be traveling for a portion of it helped with the direction that it’ll take.

Accident Prone.

The response to my poll on my Instagram story was 100% Yes.

Not only did I drop something heavy on my big toe over the weekend, but I had a major mishap on Wednesday.

While talking on the phone with my mom about what sightseeing we should do in London, I proceeded to walk down the stairs from my office (need a visual of the stairs, they are in my Photowall review post).

You know where this is going, don’t you?

I proceeded to slide down about three or four stairs. In trying to catch myself with my left hand, I wrenched my back and jammed my shoulder. I still landed on the tailbone and right sits bone. I’m sure I scared my mother as I yelled (maybe cursed a little) and then took deep breaths to pretend like I could breathe out the hurt.

Most of the back and shoulder pain left the next day. However, there is a monstrous purple bruise on my bottom that is still sore enough that I bypassed Pilates today because I can’t imagine doing roll-ups and some other moves up on to it.

Team Photos.

Last year I was asked to take a photo of Miss Sunshine’s middle school soccer team. They have professional photos taken, but it’s usually still wintery and they wanted a warmer weather photo of the team to give as part of the coach’s gifts. I also took a photo of the girls’ cleats which I shared in this post.

This year, I was asked again to take a team photo and agreed.

I will tell you that these types of shoots make my anxiety climb…and climb. Yes, I am doing it as a favor, but I am still hoping to meet somebody’s expectations. I am a people pleaser by nature. I don’t like people to be disappointed in me. So the team shoot already makes me nervous. I photograph landscapes (some of which I shared on Tuesday and Thursday . Their eyes don’t blink. They rarely move unless the wind blows.

Lighting and angles of humans are not my strong points.

Individual Photos.

I had heard a rumor that I was going to be asked to take individual photos. This made me feel even more pressured. I will reiterate that this is pressure I put on myself. The people I interact with I’ve known for years and are great.

I had around a 20-minute timeline to shoot a team photo and then take individuals of 24 girls. This meant there wasn’t time to check my work and see if the photos came out as I went along. I imported them this morning. It does appear that I have a group shot were all 24 girls and the coaches have their eyes open (the first thing I look for), but I’ll need to look at them more closely. Same with the individuals. In review, I noticed two of the girls weren’t in line for individuals, but I know them and can take them later if they want them. Still, I know the photos aren’t professional grade and looking back I wish I’d changed the f/stop, but time was short, I needed to get through them all, and I didn’t think about it.

The one of Miss Sunshine is just a quick edit that I did for this post. I don’t know if it’s the final product.

Here’s to hoping the parents like them.

8th Grade Recognition.

At the final home game, the 8th-grade girls are recognized before the game. Along the fence surrounding the fields, they attach a giant cardboard soccer ball that has the name and jersey number of each girl. During the ceremony, the eighth-grade girls step forward from the team and then each one is named and presented with a rose from their coaches.

This isn’t the final product of this photo either. I just don’t share too many faces of teens that aren’t mine.

Both of her brothers had the day off from work so they were able to come to her game. I think she’d have like to have scored a goal, but she had a clean assist and some nice shots on goal.

Summer Plans.

I mentioned in my post on Wednesday that I need to see some of my people. Miss Sunshine and I are in the early stages of planning an extended trip to Florida (mainly Naples) over the summer. I’ll let you know more about that as I begin to have more concrete plans.

I hope that you have a beautiful weekend and a fabulous week ahead.

We have warm days ahead and I couldn’t be happier.

Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light - Theodore Roethke

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 61

Friday Faves Edition 61

Friday.

Who’s happy that it’s Friday?!

Since there’s no rain in the weekend forecast, I sure am!

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Friday Faves.

I’m going to delve right into my Friday Faves.

Vacation Clothes.

I have slightly less than three weeks before I head to the U.K. and am still missing a few clothing items I’d like…namely, black leggings.

Any suggestions on brands that don’t… bunch up around the knees…look like I’m wearing opaque stockings…aren’t made for the under 5’5″ crowd…and recognize that some women have leg muscles (this is why I love shorts so much..but, alas..I need to keep warm!)?

So I’ll be heading off to peruse some shops when I finish chatting with ya’ll.

Hiking.

Last Saturday the hubby and I took advantage of the one sunny, warm day (I was wearing a tank top and shorts! 2 days later I was back in a thigh-length down coat!)

I’ve been wanting to head over to the Peaks of Otter in Bedford and hike the Fallingwater Cascades trail. It has been one of my go-to hikes since hiking it for my 21st birthday (1998 if you don’t want to do the math). I’ll be doing a post on it once I finish post-processing my photos, but you can catch another glimpse of one of the shots here.

Outdoor Photography.

I didn’t come fully prepared for the photography.

It was intentional.

I hadn’t been to the falls in a while and knew that we’d return as we delve into spring. This was mostly about enjoying the sunshine and spending time with my husband. As such, I did not carry a tripod and (though not fully intentionally) didn’t bring along my ND filter.

I still wanted to see if I could capture the movement of the water. I used shutter priority for the setting and then adjusted to capture the least overexposed shot I could manage. I was able to edit it in a way that I was pleased with, but I will be returning with the tripod and filters once it warms up!!

Peaks of Otter Lodge.

When I hike out at the Peaks of Otter, I must dine at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

We ate there for my 21st birthday. We always returned there when we’d come to Virginia for a visit. Its interior just has something like a classic nostalgia. It feels somewhat reminiscent of Dirty Dancing (which, FYI, the filming location of that movie is within driving distance and I’ve already requested it to the hubby as a spring expedition).

Vegan.

The hubby and I watched the documentary What the Health and he decided that he wanted to give vegan eating a try. We’d already been hearing quite a bit of its health benefits prior to watching the documentary.

As I mentioned when we did the vegetarian challenge, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and thyroid problems (which may be autoimmune as well) run in my family. I have already tested positive for autoimmune antibodies but was negative to the specific autoimmune diseases they were testing for.

The hubby had his own reasons for wanting to attempt it. We are now finishing up week two. That’s not to say we’ve been perfect. On day one, we ate a croissant and then later realized… “oh wait, there’s butter in that”. We also ordered this vegetarian meal at the Lodge. We don’t know if it included butter because we didn’t ask.

However, we took the concept and for many of our dinners, we have been cooking up pans of veggies cooked in olive oil and garlic and serving it over pasta.

I don’t know if I’ll remain fully vegan. We are doing it for health, not necessarily ethical reasons. I am not sold on the idea of there being a problem with eating eggs, although the ones I feed my teens are free-range, pasture raised…whatever I can find that’s the closest to a chicken roaming in its natural habitat.

I also won’t be putting constraints on my eating habits when I travel to the U.K. One of the experiences I love about travel is trying new foods.

Peaks of Otter.

After our lunch, we strolled around Abbot Lake. Then we sat for a bit and admired the view. The Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks overlooking the town of Bedford (you learn something new every day…because I only have heard of two). I’ve always known about Sharp Top and Flat Top. The third is Harkening Hill.

The view here from Abbot Lake is of Sharp Top, whose highest point is 3,875 feet. Flat Top is actually the tallest of the three, rising to an elevation of 4,001 feet.

Alex and Ani.

I shared about snorkeling trip in yesterday’s post, but I didn’t get a chance to share my “souvenir” from Aruba. I love Alex and Ani bracelets. One of my friends has one from St. Maarten so when I saw the store in Aruba, I knew it was likely they would have some bracelets exclusive to the Island. There were a couple different options, but I prefer the rafellian finish to the shiny finish.

Soccer.

Due to some snow earlier in the season, Miss Sunshine had three soccer games in a row this week.

In one of those, she scored a goal!

Miss Sunshine and I spend a lot of car time together due to soccer and there are moments when I pause and realize how precious that time really is.

Books and TV and Movies.

I got sucked into some non-fiction books. I’m still perusing them to see if I want to invest fully into them, but I’m not abandoning the reading challenge that I’ve decided to do this year.

Are you reading any good books?

Although I don’t watch a lot of TV, I decided to join in on watching American Idol. While we were in Aruba, a series called The Crossing started after Idol. I admit…I’m hooked. Last night, the hubby and I watched the movie The Mountain Between Us. Have you seen it? I knew as soon as she asked him what type of doctor he was that he was going to say “neurosurgeon”. I even said it out loud before he did.

If you know my older backstories, then you know that we’ve had an incident dealing with neurosurgeons. While it can still be found in the search box, I don’t link to the post any longer because the story is only partially mine and has now become one of those moments that you can pinpoint as defining, but that you don’t often go back and rehash.

However, after having conversations with three different neurosurgeons and then later reading (because I love knowledge and was trying to learn everything about the brain) Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Katrina Firlik (who, at the time, was one of only 200 or so female neurosurgeons), I knew that was the personality that they were attempting to portray.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

I hope you have a sunny weekend and many reasons to smile throughout the week.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 60

Friday Faves Edition 60

Friday.

It’s Friday! Did ya’ll miss me last Friday? I missed all of you!

That Thursday was a full day of travel for us.

We arrived at the airport in Aruba early since we knew that U.S citizens go through customs at the airport in Aruba instead of when they land in the U.S.

Based on our time waiting in customs at the D.C. airport after our return from Europe last spring, I’d have to say this process was much quicker.

We also only took carry-ons (raise your hand if you audibly gasped). I’ll be sharing some things I learned about that in a future post. We had a direct flight down to Aruba but had a short layover in Boston on the return. After landing in D.C., we made our way to our vehicle for the 3 1/2 hour drive home. We collapsed into bed around 1 a.m. Friday.

Friday Faves.

Of course, I have so many Friday Faves to share.

Aruba.

We spent spring break in Aruba.

I did share some of our travels on my Instagram stories.

I’ve saved some of them to the Aruba recap on my Instagram highlights if you’re interested in seeing those.

Easter.

We arrived in Aruba on the day before Easter.

That day we had a leisurely day.

Easter Sunday, we had a snorkeling excursion booked.

Just prior to our vacation, I read this post on Becoming Minimalist. It talks about jumping while you can. It resonated with me because this year for me is about pushing comfort zones even more. It is about learning to dare greatly.

And so I knew that I would attempt new things.

Snorkeling.

I have snorkeled before. I did not enjoy it. I always felt like I was struggling for air (which makes me feel claustrophobic). I swim, but would not consider myself a “strong” swimmer. However, when we went over the Antilla wreck, which is in 50-60 feet of water (well out of my comfort zone from a depth perspective) I decided to go in the water. I didn’t dive below the surface..and I didn’t stay in as long as everyone else

…but I jumped.

The second snorkeling spot was 10-12 feet deep and was my favorite of the three. The water was so clear and the fish were stunning. Miss Sunshine captured a video of me at this location.

Rope Swing.

At our third snorkel stop, which was about 14 ft deep, you had the option of swinging from the rope swing into the water.

I didn’t think that I was going to attempt it.

But then I remembered about wanting to push myself…I remembered how I was so fearless when I was younger

…and I jumped.

(yes, there is a video of that. no, I won’t be sharing it)

I plan to do a longer post about our snorkeling trip in the future, but we absolutely loved it (minus the fact that I was the one person on the ship who got a bloody nose when jumping from the rope swing. (note to self: if you plan on holding your nose, take the nose ring out)

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Safari Tour.

If you saw Wednesday’s post where I shared some photos from Aruba, the one above will look familiar. This was from our safari tour. I’ll be sharing more about that in the future, but it was an awesome day out as well.

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Tube Ride.

Miss Sunshine had already convinced her dad and Big Mr. to go on a tube ride earlier in the week. We had loved our snorkeling tour so much that we had booked another one for the day before our departure. Unfortunately, they had some technical difficulties and had to cancel our trip. Miss Sunshine really wanted me to tube with her. I really didn’t want to tube

…but I decided to jump.

Even though I was petrified most of the time, I can say that I’m glad that I did it. The ride itself wasn’t scary…it was tons of fun. I was worried about flipping into the water (which had happened on their last tube ride).

We used to have a boat and a tube. I have a distinct memory of flying out of the tube and having the wind knocked out of me as I landed into the water.

I was in my early 30’s then…how much worse would it be at 40!

My secondary…yes secondary…fear was that a shark might be lurking below the surface. The last time I had fallen out of a tube was in Lake Placid (Florida) and my fear of alligators is stronger than that of sharks.

I held on for dear life on this tube ride. So tightly, that my biceps hurt for the next two days and I’m still sporting a friction burn on one of my knuckles.

…but I jumped (metaphorically).

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Memories.

While I absolutely loved the sunshine and the salt air, one of my favorite parts of the trip is that we made so many memories.

I cherish these moments with my children. Big Mr. heads off to college after this summer. Mr. D is only a year behind. Miss Sunshine is around a little longer, but I know that it too will pass quickly.

These are fleeting moments with all my children still living at home and I am searing them into my brain.

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Sunshine and Salt Air.

But I’m not gonna lie, the sunshine and salt air did make the memories a little sweeter.

These photos of my teens were taken at Baby Beach. I wish we’d have spent more time there, but it wasn’t in the cards that day.

 

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Instagram.

While this week has mostly been playing catch up on emails, reflecting on last month’s challenge, going to soccer games, taking care of household stuff, and finishing up some loose ends for my trip to London and Scotland next month, I did give myself a gift.

If you saw Tuesday’s post, then you already know that day was my 19th wedding anniversary.

Your Instagram bio is supposed to be important for people deciding whether or not they are interested in following you. I’ve always struggled with exactly what I’d like it to say. You only have so much space.

Not long ago, I took out the section that stated where I had lived to add the lines with #travel and #nature and the wannabe photographer and wordsmith. The hubby thought I should take out the word “wannabe”. While I did agree to some level, I also left it there to keep my fear of failure satisfied. If I said “wannabe”, I was acknowledging that I have a long way to go.

…but I also wasn’t giving myself credit for how far I’ve come.

Or giving my dreams the fair shot that they deserved.

So, on my anniversary, I gifted myself with the removal of that word. In doing so, I felt that I gave myself permission to keep growing and granted my soul a belief in myself.

Do you have dreams that you want to pursue, but you let fear hold you back?

Music.

This week I’ve chosen a song by Sleeping at Last. I love his music and had a hard time choosing which song. I chose this song because it reminds me of the commitment that I made when I chose to have children. Those commitments have been at the forefront of my thoughts this week.

I hope that you have a soul-filling weekend and smooth sailing throughout next week.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 59

Friday Faves Edition 59

Friday.

It’s Friday!

I don’t know what that means for all of you, but for me, it means we’ve officially entered into Spring Break vacation mode.

Which for Friday, means cleaning, squaring things away, and packing…and then driving up to D.C. so we can catch an early flight tomorrow morning to Aruba!!

Friday Faves.

But I didn’t want to head out on the road without sharing some of my Friday Faves.

The week has mostly been about taking care of things before we head out on vacation. I did make the announcement for my April Challenge and I edited some photos from our last snow to share for Wordless Wednesday. I also dug into the archives to share my photos of the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh for Thursday Doors.

I will have a few posts scheduled for next week, but I will likely be slow in responding to comments. Thank you for bearing with my slow replies this week as I prepped for the trip.

Just know that I love hearing from you all!

I will not be back with Edition 60 of Friday Faves until April 13th. Which just means, more to share!

 

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Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard. -Haruki Murakami . . .#seekthesimplicity #beautyinthechaos #dreamchaser #beyondthehorizon #nothingisordinary #sunsetchaser #fiftyshades_of_nature #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #roamtheplanet #saltlife #VisitNC #darlingescapes #beautifuldestinations #optoutside #wearetravelgirls #womenwhoexplore #exploremore #exploretocreate #fromwhereistand #doyoutravel #letsgosomewhere #letsgoeverywhere #natgeotravel #travelstoke #traveldiaries #femmetravel #naturehippys

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Instagram.

My most recent series on Instagram was a trio of some beach sunsets that I have loved. I thought it was appropriate since I am about to head out on a beach vacation.

I knew the type of quote that I was seeking to go with the photo and when I found the one above, I knew that it conveyed my feeling about the photo.

If you are on Instagram, I will be trying to share many of the sights in Aruba through my Instagram Stories.

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Sunglasses.

This was from one of my Instastories. Miss Sunshine needed some sunglasses to wear in Aruba, and since I’m obsessed with sunglasses, I got a new pair as well.

I think my old pair (my go-to ones) got mad, because the next day, the frame cracked and the lens fell out.

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Mother-In-Law.

My mother-in-law is watching our puppy, Maverick, while we are away. I tease her that she loves dogs more than humans. I took him over to her house yesterday. Her birthday is April 1st, which falls on Easter Sunday this year. She was teasing me because we won’t be here for her birthday. I teased back, telling her that we’d be snorkeling that day and I’d think of her.

It was her idea to offer up some “duck lips”. Unlike me, she doesn’t share her age…but she looks amazing. I think she should shout it from the rooftops, but until she relents, I’ll maintain her wishes.

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Soccer.

After my trip to my mother-in-law’s, I was off to Miss Sunshine’s soccer game. After all this time, I still struggle with “position names”. Her middle school coach has a formation in which she calls herself midfield, but in other formations, I think it’d be called a left forward. I just know that she’s up top, left side (she’s left-footed), but she does run more of the field than a forward might.

She’s had some assists and some shots on goal during this middle school season, but yesterday, she scored her first goal. It was beautiful! I’m biased, but it was still a beauty. Mostly because I love watching her turn on her speed. She was behind…then she was passing…and then she insanely in front of them…the goalie was coming forward thinking they might get it…I knew if she took the shot that it would go in…I stood up in the stands….she shot…she scored…I screamed.

I didn’t think to turn on the phone to record it. She did ask because she wanted to see how fast she was.

However, that, my friends, is being in the now.

I did record something to share with ya’ll though. It’s a time lapse from this morning’s plank challenge. Be kind. My talenti gelato YouTube has 2500 views (which in itself is just crazy to me) and 25 thumbs down. Really? Thumbs down. That just seems so mean. This is one reason why I rarely add to YouTube.

Plank Challenge.

I made it!! 5 minutes!!

I really thought I’d be coming to you all this morning saying that I had to throw in the towel on the final day. That I couldn’t even attempt any of it. Sometime in the middle of the night, while having a strange post-apocalyptic dream about checking floors of a hotel (I’m pretty sure the floor number scenes in the elevator were my clues), my right shoulder starting killing me. I woke up to the fact that it was indeed killing me. I adjusted its position. By this morning it hurt a little less, I took some Advil and decided to attempt it.

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Victory.

And I was victorious.

Music.

I may have shared this song in the past, but this was the final song that I listened to for day 30 of the plank challenge. Most songs are not 5 minutes long. You can hear it in the actual video of the challenge, but it had to come out when I sped it up.

Mountains of Men is a band out of Stockholm, Sweden that describes themselves as Alternative folk rock and stuff.

 

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope that it is a glorious day. If you don’t, I hope that you have a glorious Sunday.

I hope that you have an amazing week ahead.

Remember that you are always stronger than you think.

In body.  In mind. In spirit.

Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you should have always been. - David Bowie

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 58

Friday Faves Edition 58

Friday.

It’s Friday! I hope you all have had an amazing week so far!!

The weather threw off my routines, but that’s okay.

Sometimes our lives need a little shake up so we don’t get stuck in our comfort zones.

Friday Faves.

I’m doing my weekly round-up of Friday Faves.

My agenda looks like a tornado struck it with things crossed out that didn’t get accomplished. However, I did manage to make notes about the things I did want to share!

Party.

First off, remember in last week’s faves when I gave you a sneak peek of the dress I planned to wear to the party on St. Patrick’s Day?

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The Dress.

If you follow my Instagram stories, then you’ve already gotten a glimpse of it. I put my favorite filter (Rio De Janeiro) because the sun was at its harshest when we left. The actual photo looks like I ran it through one of those pixellating filters because the glare off of my arm and leg is so intense.

Imagine my delight the next morning when I discovered that my mom had taken the original that I texted her and posted it on her Facebook (love you, mom!).

It probably wasn’t that bad, but I am notoriously particular and usually unhappy with how I look in photos. Good thing I’m usually behind the camera.

However, since I love ya’ll so much… I am sharing two photos, that while I don’t love them, I find them acceptable for public viewing.

Close Up.

I thought the dress had a very retro classic vibe, so I tried to channel Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy Onassis with my pearl necklace and earrings.

Full Length.

The dress is a Ralph Lauren and I found it at Macy’s.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day and my dress was not green, I wore a jade ring. Originally, my “something borrowed” at my wedding, my mother-in-law gifted the ring to me a few years ago.

It was much chillier than I originally thought it would be so I brought along a white 3/4 sleeve Lily Pulitzer cardigan that I’ve owned forever. I draped it over my arm as we entered the party since I really expected to need it later in the evening.

We stopped at the bar to pick up a cocktail. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but the bartender was asking, so I went with a vodka cranberry. Can you guess where I’m going with this?

I told the hubby I’d like to put the cardigan down at the table before we mingled. Of course, we are passing people that I need to meet along the way to the table. Sure enough, the drink spilled on my cardigan. Not an EGADS! she spilled her drink. The cup just slightly shifted, dribbled over my hand, and onto my sweater.

I switched to vodka and pineapple juice after that.

We had a great evening. Lots of good conversations and food.

And the juice stain came out!

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine had a soccer game on Monday afternoon. They won the game and Miss Sunshine had an assist for their goal.

As a side note, I’m still very disappointed in how the Nikon is performing. When I return from Aruba, I will be getting a longer zoom lens for the Sony.

Aruba.

Speaking of Aruba…only one week! There wasn’t school on Wednesday due to snow. There was a 2-hour delay on Thursday due to snow.

It threw off my quiet time for posts, but I did manage to share some things I loved at the National Museum of Scotland, a Tree Series for Wordless Wednesday, and a Thursday Door post of St. Giles Cathedral.

Snow is forecast for Saturday.

I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand and not snow!

 

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Apparently all I can manage at the moment are mirror selfies (and the same red jumper 🤤)– but this is a good thing! The wheels of change are turning! 🎡 In the morning I’ll be on the @thismorning sofa talking to @schofe and @hollywilloughby about my campaign to make upskirt photos a sexual offence in England & Wales. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ❌🤳👗🚫Tune in and lend your voice to the campaign with the hashtag #StopSkirtingTheIssue. 📱💻Whether it’s insta-stories, Twitter or a good old email to your MP this campaign needs you! DM if you would like a MP email/letter template! ✉️✔️ Then all you have to do is pop your name in and send! 📮♥️

A post shared by G I N A M A R T I N (@beaniegigi) on

Instagram.

I’ve shared before that I have a love/hate with Instagram. I love most of the people. Not so much a fan of the follow/unfollow crowd, but I guess that’s their way of marketing. The algorithm changes really bothered me.

Interaction.

However, recently I’ve tried to separate myself from caring about my number of likes and growth and to just focus on interacting with those that Instagram decides that I want to see. That means I try to add more IG stories and also watch more of them.

Upskirting.

All that to say, I found myself watching @beaniegigi’s story.

Here’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know, but once you do know, you must speak”.

How many of you have heard of “upskirting”?

Probably a lot of you.

Defined.

If you haven’t, it’s the case of somebody taking a photo up a woman’s skirt (or dress) without her permission.

I admit that I live in a bubble and I don’t find myself in many places where this might happen (public transport, concerts…etc).

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the paparazzi shots of celebrities taken from this angle. I was always mortified that anyone thought it was acceptable, but it never occurred to me that it was a “thing” happening to every day women (and girls).

It happened to Gina Martin at a concert. You can read her story in this Unilad article.

Legality.

Did you know that there are places where upskirting is not illegal? It isn’t considered illegal because voyeurism apparently only applies to private places and since there’s underwear it’s not considered lewd.

Making Change.

Gina is working to have the law changed in England and Wales to make upskirting illegal. A cursory look to see if it was illegal in the United States brought me to this Time magazine article where I discovered that it is illegal in Virginia. However, at the time of the article in 2016, it was not illegal everywhere.

I applaud Gina for taking a stand against harassment.

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Challenge.

I am still steadily progressing on the March Challenge, which is part of my #thisis40 year of monthly challenges. I do know what I’ll be doing for my April Challenge. Look for the announcement on Monday.

Walking.

It never ceases to amaze me how little I truly must walk in a day. Getting in 10,000 steps requires an effort on my part. However, basing fitness on steps doesn’t take into consideration that I take Pilates 3x a week and that doesn’t require much walking, but it’s hard!

Planks.

I have officially made it 23 days on the plank challenge segment of the monthly challenge. That is a 3 minute 50-second plank.

Modifications.

On day 20, I did need to switch it up to make it through. Instead of keeping my legs at hip width, I widened them to distribute the weight differently. I did that for about 10 seconds a couple of times over the course of the plank. On the following days, I also have moved from forearms to hands and back (though mostly on the forearm).

Opinion.

I am still forging ahead and hoping to nail the goal to completion. However, if I had it to do over again I would not have chosen this specific plank goal. I took on this goal because I will be wearing a bikini in Aruba. That’s the plain and simple fact. Judge if you will.

However, I feel like my abs get a much better workout from a Pilates routine. I can’t see my form during the course of the plank, but I don’t think I’m losing form. However, it’s my mid-back where I can feel the most change. Perhaps I’m losing the focus on maintaining those lower ab muscles while I’m just trying to push through to the end. I know Pilates breath work and incorporate that to get into those tiny muscles, but I feel the plank in my shoulders, back, and quads more than in the abs.

Puppy.

Yesterday was Maverick’s 1st birthday. He got a haircut last weekend and toys yesterday.

Ohhh…my baby is growing up!

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Long Exposure.

If you watched my IG stories on Wednesday, then you know that I had a crazy outing trying to capture some snow scenes. I’ve shared a few photos on Instagram and the one above will eventually be shared. I hadn’t worked with long exposure on the Sony yet. I only have one ND filter and it wasn’t really strong enough. However, I did manage to get a few shots that I was happy with (after sliding down the embankment of snow and dropping the tripod in the stream).

Music.

I heard this song on the way home from Pilates today and liked it. Nadia Ali is a Pakistani-American singer-songwriter. IRO is a Brooklyn based singer-songwriter. Sultan + Shepard is a Canadian electronic music duo that often does collaborations.

I hope you enjoy!

I’m off to finish prepping for Aruba. Oh…and for that snowstorm heading our way. I suspect my teens might want to eat and food flies off the shelves before a storm like an apocalyptic invasion is on its way.

Keep that smile shining.

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Let your light shine!

Amy