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 in to 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 everyday…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.

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

That Thursday was 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 chose 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.

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!

 

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-laws, 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 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 have 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.

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!

 

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 move 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 do 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

Friday Faves Edition 57

Friday.

It’s Friday!!

Can I get a woohoo?!

Friday Faves.

I’m just going to jump right in with my Friday Faves.

My week has felt somewhat discombobulated because of the weather. Winter said “hey, did you forget about me?” and showed back up.

In last week’s Friday Faves, I mentioned that the snow was rolling our way. It did roll our way, just at a slower than expected pace.

Dress Shopping.

I have a work party to attend with the hubby this Saturday. I needed something to wear so last Saturday I brought him along to help me pick out a dress.

Clothing Peeves.

Dress shopping and I don’t get along real well. Even though my bust and waist measurements correspond in a ratio that is standard, dress makers don’t seem to think that is the case. Because of this, the hubby sat in the chair outside the dressing room, I came out to show him the dress and then sent him on an errand to grab the next size up because the chest compression created an unacceptable sight. He dutifully obliged and the next size up would look like a paper sack.

If Only.

In an ideal world, I would plan ahead and have a seamstress who could customize the dress to fit perfectly. However, we were a week out from the party. I thought I might find a green dress since the party is being held on St. Patrick’s Day. But, ultimately, I found 2 dresses (neither with green) that fit without tugging or sagging and opted for the periwinkle one that is pictured.

I’m only offering a sneak peek because I’m hoping to have somebody snap some pics before the party and share those next week.

 

Fitness.

On Sunday, it was still too cold for me to take my exercise outdoors. I popped over to the gym and did a 30 minute walk/run on the treadmill. I know for a fact that all my steps aren’t getting tracked because my Fitbit is a little too big, but I keep going until it hits that 10,000 mark. I like to use Snapchat filters for many of my Instagram stories.

Snow.

The snow finally rolled in during the wee hours of Monday morning. The school had already called off. It wasn’t near as much as they expected us to get and by the afternoon was starting a slow melt.

Birthdays.

Monday was also my brother’s birthday. He is my only sibling and is still down in Florida. I wrote about his birth a few years ago. You can find that post here

Delays.

That still meant there would be icy areas so Tuesday was a 2 hour delay for the teens. We had the boys park their cars in such a way that the hubby could get to work since he didn’t get to sleep in like the rest of us.

He left for work…and we slept.

Ice.

The photo was taken while it was still snowing on Monday, but there was still some snow on the cars on Tuesday. Big Mr. needed to go by the bank before school so he cleaned off the remaining snow and proceeded to attempt to leave. However, the snow that had melted the day before and then drained into the shadows under the car had turned to ice and his car slid partially across the driveway. It did not careen off the side which is a hill covered in trees, but it would be impossible to get my Jeep past if we couldn’t get it moved.

Problem Solver.

Luckily, the hubby had picked up some salt to be prepared for the snowmageddon we were supposedly getting. I was out frantically spreading salt to get his car moved and then spreading more salt around Mr. D’s car so that he’d be able to get to school. We got it all cleared out before it was time for me to drive Miss Sunshine to school. If Big Mr. hadn’t needed to leave an hour early, everyone would have been late!

University.

Big Mr. has been accepted to both of the Universities to which he applied. We aren’t making the announcement yet because he hasn’t formally accepted, but he’s pretty confident about where he is heading!

Back on Track.

I even managed to put together the post about hiking the star trail. Even better, I made it to my hair appointment that afternoon. The roots are all gone!

Maid.

I was going to say that I wondered where Wednesday went…and then I remembered. The hubby was having a colleague come by our house on Thursday to ride to a meeting. There was a possibility they might come inside. I’m a Virgo…I’m a perfectionist… I cleaned all day…and in the end, they didn’t come inside.

But hey, at least all remnants of dog hair have been removed, the laundry is semi-caught up, and I’ve meticulously cleaned the half bath on the main floor!

No wonder for Wordless Wednesday I was dreaming of having my toes in the sand.

Pi Day.

And I did have some warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top in celebration of Pi Day.

Soccer.

Middle School soccer season has started. The first two games had been cancelled due to snow, so yesterday was Miss Sunshine’s first game.

Photography

I still haven’t bought a zoom lens for my Sony, so I took my old Nikon. I don’t know if I’ve just become spoiled, but I was unhappy with many of the pictures. Also, strangely, even though I shoot on the sports setting so that the shutter speed is quick enough, many photos were not in focus. I don’t remember this happening when I’ve used this camera in the past.

Talking.

It was nice to catch up with some of the ladies that I know from soccer. Many of my days involve little verbal interaction with anyone other than the hubby and teens.

Season Opener.

Their first game was an away game. It was cold and windy, but they won!

Miss Sunshine had a few shots on goal. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the photos. I think this second one is funny because they are closing ranks on her. Not too worry though, just outside of the shot is her teammate who she crosses to.

Blue Ridge Parkway.

To get to this specific away game, taking the Blue Ridge Parkway is more relaxing than driving through the city. However, the sign said it was closed. Once at the game, I learned that it was only if you were heading in the opposite direction. I opted to drive home down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I decided to record part of the drive to put on my Instagram story.

Deer.

Amazingly, I captured a deer running across the road in front of me. I came to a stop because there is almost never one deer. Sure enough, one turned around and ran back to where he came from. I felt bad…the two friends or family members getting separated. I hope the other one waited.

It’ll still be on my story until about 6:00 EST tonight. I may end up adding it to the highlights of my Instagram story though.

Challenge.

How’s that March Challenge coming along? I’m still hanging in there! I accomplished it last night, but I have some rotator cuff issues and can feel my right shoulder beginning to cry.

I am doing forearm planks, but I may end up shifting back and forth between hands and forearms over the course of some coming days. That doesn’t take any pressure off of my shoulder, but movement helps with perseverance.

I feel like there is a fine line that I will be walking. I leave for Aruba in two weeks and am not willing to tear up my shoulder before I go. Right now, I am still fine, but I will be monitoring it closely.

Thursday Doors.

After taking off last week to post about International Women’s Day, I was back with some more Thursday Door this week. These from Hôtel de Ville (the city hall) in Paris.

St. Patrick’s Day.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? If so, what do you do to celebrate?

As mentioned, we have a party to attend. There is a festival and parade downtown, but I don’t know yet if we will head down there for it.

Sometimes I go back and tweak older posts since I understand a little more about SEO now (very little more). The most recent on that I tweaked was my Are You Irish? post where I talked about my DNA testing. I’ve also learned a little more about photography since then and changed the original photoquote that I had in the post to a background that I liked better. The words are the same and you’ll find that photoquote at the end of today’s post.

Music.

I wanted to pick a “new to me” song by an Irish singer. Rosie Carney is originally from Hampshire, UK, but moved to Ireland when she was 10. She shares her story on her website about her struggles with mental health in an attempt to help break the stigma associated with it. I applaud that and have chosen to share her music this week (plus…her voice is very lovely).

I hope that you all have beautiful weekend and awesome week ahead.

Smile and say hello to a stranger. It mind be the only kind word they’ve heard all day.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 56

Friday.

Who’s excited that it’s Friday?! I think that I am, but the snowstorm heading our way is threatening to make for a cabin fever weekend…and dare I say…create issues next week.

Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t dump as much as the possible forecast! This girl has a hair appointment and her roots are looking CRA-ZY! I pushed out my appointment longer than normal because I have a work party to attend with the hubby on St. Patrick’s Day. Which reminds me…I haven’t found an outfit for that.

BUT…I’m getting ahead of myself.

Friday Faves.

I’m rounding up the Friday Faves for the week. I had a jam packed week with appointments for teens and dogs, but I still found some downtime and some lighthearted moments.

Star Trail.

In Edition 54 of Friday Faves, I shared that the hubby  and I hiked the Star Trail here in Roanoke. We had another sunny day over the weekend and decided to hike it again.

This time I brought along my camera. I’m still sifting through the photos to decide if I will make a separate post about it. While I find the trail to still be nice in the winter, I’m not sure that translates in my photographs. However, some of the smaller bushes were sprouting green that had not been there in the two weeks prior! I’m hoping this snowstorm doesn’t crush their spirits.

Protein Powder.

I mentioned before that I was looking for a new protein powder. I didn’t want rice protein because I felt like I was having a slight allergy to something in it. The blend that I picked up had stevia. I don’t like the taste of stevia.

The hubby and I went to Target for the exciting task of finding replacement shoelaces for his work shoes. Now. Now. Don’t be jealous of my glamorous life. I decided to pop over to the protein powder section to see if they had anything different. I perused the shelves and saw ones that I had seen elsewhere.

Then I looked to the top shelf and what should catch my… NO STEVIA… right on the front. It appears that they are using monk fruit extract in that “sweetener” place. I’ve only made two smoothies so far, but have had no reactions and no strange taste, so I may have found a keeper.

Fashion Magazine.

I told you that I found many moments of lightheartedness and humor, so that was what I chose to focus on over the ups and downs of the week. A bunch of people were posting these on Facebook, so I thought I’d play with it. I sat there and put about 10 photos through, mostly because I wanted to see if it ever change the makeup color. The lipstick…yes, the eyeshadow… no.

Now if only a makeup artist would come do my makeup every day.

I should add…for free…because that service isn’t in my budget.

Aruba.

I am still counting down the days to Aruba.

Three weeks!

When Miss Sunshine and I went shopping, she found a bathing suit at Hollister. She also found one she liked at Target, but they were out of her size. We decided to order it. Of course, I added some pieces for me! I had already rounded up the bottoms and so I ordered two tops. I mentioned that this line at Target, Sun & Shore, sells tops according to bra size. As is the case in almost all clothing, one of the tops didn’t run true to size so sadly it had to be returned.

But the one in the photo fits. I also have a standard J. Crew triangle top that I shared in this post last summer. I was hoping that I would have one top that used hooks instead of ties, but it is what it is.

I don’t always link things, but you can find the above top here. The bottoms can be found here.

If you were curious about the bathing suit in last week’s post, you can find that here. The bottoms are the same as above, just a different print.

 

Humor.

On Monday, I shared the lessons that I learned from the Reading Challenge.

Everyone had a lot of great comments.

This is the text exchange with the hubby on Tuesday. It’s hilarious to read in whole, but it was even funnier as it was happening. He had an early meeting that day, so he leaves as I’m stumbling for my first cup of coffee and the teens aren’t out of bed yet. This is the first I’ve heard from him other than a short phone exchange right before he gets to the office.

I’ve just sat down to check my emails when this text comes in. I know he’s just come out of his meeting, so I’m literally trying to wrap my mind around what he’s talking about. Notice the word “read” isn’t in there, so there’s not even that context clue. I’m wondering if this text is really for me. I’m sure the phone has changed the word, but I thought maybe he meant something else to a coworker or is having a text exchange with our sons.

Nope.

It’s for me.

And then it makes sense. So thank you Jonathan for that comment.

What ensued next was hilarity. Because then Julie over at Empty Nest Adventures comments on Jonathan’s comment that she had actually written about her recent adventure with Moby Dick. I pop over to check it out, and I’m dying in another round of laughter. If your curious, you can find her post here.

Filters.

If all of that was a little too juvenile of humor for you, I offer the space I go to when I’m in the mood for silliness. I don’t use Snapchat, but I do enjoy their filters. Sometimes, I save them and share them on my Instagram Stories.

Instagram.

Speaking of Instagram Stories, I’ve recently tried to become more active on them. Yesterday, I was in a chatty mood and was in front of the camera for a change. I think it was about releasing the inner tension that being vulnerable in yesterday’s post caused.

While I am very honest, I am also reserved about parts of my story. I know it was a longer than normal read (and I cut out parts because I knew it was so long), so thank you for taking the time to read it.

Photography.

On a lighter note, if you missed my Wordless Wednesday post, it’s sure to bring a smile…or a “wolf-ish” grin.

Challenge.

If you’re wondering how March’s 30 day challenge is going, I’ve managed to accomplish my goals each day so far. Today’s  plank will be 90 seconds! I’m still doing some pacing to get 10,000 steps on standard days. However, on the day of our hike, my fitbit called me an overachiever because I was well over. I’ll take the compliment because it’s an effort on the other days!

If you’ve been joining in on either part of the challenge, let me know how it’s going for you.

Music.

This week I tried to make a concentrated effort to find a “”new to me” song to share. The one recommended on YouTube struck my eye because it was from a soundtrack to a movie called 2:22. I hadn’t heard of the movie. Have you seen it?

Why it struck me was because 222 is meaningful to me. I know some people aren’t into numerology, or synchronicity, or whatever, but that number (as well as others) shows up quite a bit throughout my days.

It is also Big Mr.’s birthday. I was 22 when he was born on 2 – 22 – 2000, which was also a “Tue”sday. And on 2-22, in the year 2022, he will turn 22.

So, all that to say, the name struck my eye.

The song is by Vancouver Sleep Clinic who originates out of Brisbane, Australia.

 

I hope that you all have a beautiful weekend! Spread your bright-shining smile. It’s one of the most contagious things out there.

ee Cummings quote To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight; and never stop fighting.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 55

Friday.

Hey! Hey! It’s Friday!!

You all know what that means.

Friday Faves.

I’m rounding up my Friday Faves for the week. This week has been a productive week on many levels. Spring is trying to creep in, but winter keeps reminding it not to be so pushy.

Motorcycles.

We had a motorcycle (that I never rode), but it was made for on-road and off-road and the hubby wanted more of an on-road only bike.  He and Big Mr. took a motorcycle class a while back so that Big Mr. could get a motorcycle permit. We recently got the motorcycle in the above background picture. Big Mr. promptly went down to the DMV to get his actual motorcycle license now that he is 18. I haven’t been on the motorcycle yet. We had one when we were engaged (20 years ago), but I haven’t been on one since (edit: I have driven a dirt bike when we still lived in Naples, but I switched over a four wheeler). As you know, my teens are adventure lovers so Miss Sunshine was more than happy to have her dad take her for a spin.

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Shopping.

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine and I did some shopping on Saturday. School soccer season has officially started. For home games the team is expected to dress up for school. Miss Sunshine prefers to wear a dress on these days. This is about the only time you will find her in a dress. She still has a few from last year, but since she grew some inches I suspect they are too short. She found two really pretty dresses.

Aruba.

We were also in need of some clothing for our trip to Aruba…which is now only 4 weeks away!! I had already picked up a bathing suit, but needed some shorts. Sometimes I wear a coverup over a bathing suit, but I’m more of a jean shorts kinda girl. I picked up the ones in the photo to wear on the beach. I also found a few more pairs that are slightly longer to wear about town. Miss Sunshine found a bathing suit and some shorts as well. I actually picked up the tank top to wear to the gym over my sports bras, but I think it’s cute enough for Aruba. I’m one of those people who borders between two sizes, so the tags aren’t coming off until we get closer to leaving.

Weather.

It was a gray and rainy weekend. On Sunday, the hubby and I drove over to Lynchburg to visit my mother-in-law. We had a lovely visit with her and our niece.

Earth Fare.

I ran over to Earth Fare after the gym because I was out of protein powder. I am not one of those who goes to stores in her workout clothes and was very self-conscious doing so.

You can’t go to Earth Fare and not find other things. I picked up some Carob Spirulina energy bites and they were so tasty. I also had been wanting some sprouts and they had those as well.

Fermented Foods.

I often read about the benefits of fermented foods, which are touted for gut health. I have a strange obsession with sauerkraut. I’m a believer that if you are in tune with your body, it will tell you what you need by its cravings. I could probably eat tons of sauerkraut, but I only eat a few forkfuls because it contains so much sodium. It’s okay if you think I’m strange. What is a strange food that you like? Do you like sauerkraut?

Wait! That’s Mine.

I actually had a funny incident happen while there. I was looking in the egg section, deciding whether or not I was going to be lazy and buy the package of boiled eggs (I was…and I did). I’ve been making up egg salad and putting it on top of avocado toast (and now sprouts too). I turned around and my cart was gone. I looked around. I was wondering if I would find it because there were so many people. And then I spotted the yellow packaging of my Ezekiel bread. The lady, who had accidentally taken my cart instead of hers, and I had a good laugh over it.

 

Big Mr.

On Tuesday, Big Mr. had Senior sleep in and early release…and it was sunny…so he drove the motorcycle to school.

Prepping for the Challenge.

Run/Walk

I decided to prep for the March Challenge, and went for a run/walk on the treadmill at the gym. It was more walking than running and I covered 3.41 miles in 45 minutes. However, I was able to see how many steps that included.

Plank Challenge.

I also was curious how long I could hold a plank.  Apparently, one minute 31 seconds. I don’t think trying it an hour and a half after running was the best choice. It wasn’t my core that did me in…it was my quads.

Travel.

I’ve been productive, but that can sometimes lead to stress. So can raising teens. And other things. Such as the fact that I’ve shared that most of my and my mother’s trip to Scotland has been booked. We were just waiting on the train schedules to become available.

Isle of Skye.

WELL.. the day trip to Skye that we had booked through Viator was cancelled. The tour operator isn’t doing that trip anymore. Most of our trip has other parts locked into place. Finally, last night, we came to the conclusion for our replacement day trip and have booked it through WOW Scotland. We will still be leaving from Inverness and seeing everything that we originally planned, except for the the fairy pools. It’s slightly disappointing that we’ll miss them…but my motto is “let’s just return again next year!”

Now we just need to book a few trains.

Relax.

Perhaps now you can relate to why Tuesday’s post was about relaxation!

Rx Bar.

My Pilates days are shortly after the morning rush of getting the teens out of the door for school. I can’t work out on an empty stomach, nor can I do Pilates on a heavy breakfast or my go-to protein smoothie. I discovered Rx Bars during one of Miss Sunshine’s soccer tournaments. I needed to have a snack available for myself, but didn’t want a bunch of strange ingredients. Rx Bars are right with that thought process…hence, the no B.S. in the ingredient list.

I’ve had the blueberry and recently picked up a box of mint chocolate.

I decided to order a sample pack box from them. I haven’t tried them all yet, but I did have Coconut Chocolate this morning and it was super yum!

Since I did order from them, there is a link for a special. It only offers me an option of email, Facebook, or Twitter…so here it is if you’re interested:

 

Photography.

Lightroom.

More behind the scenes stuff has been working on getting Lightroom set up on my laptop. I’ve finally cleared enough space to add the desktop version, but haven’t tested it out yet. After my post on the Glaciers of GreenlandI watched some beginner tutorials on Lightroom. I was very excited by what I saw because I think that I’ll have much more control over my creative vision during the editing process.

Importing.

On Thursday, I was all prepared to do some work in Lightroom. I thought I’d try my hand at editing the photos for the Houseboats of Amsterdam post. I went to import the photos…it can’t see the iPhotos library on my mac. I’m sure there’s a way to deal with this. Hopefully one that isn’t overly convoluted. However, that didn’t help me yesterday. I went back to my standard place of editing and today’s task will be discovering how to import my photos into Lightroom without needing to save them to the desktop or documents or wherever else it looked for photos.

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Challenge Accomplished.

My body was so sore from holding that plank on Tuesday that I had to sit out some reps in Pilates on Wednesday. Due to all that, I decided to take it easy on Thursday. I still achieved my 10,000 steps for Day 1, but it was mostly by pacing the floor while I read or taking breaks to march in place, plus my normal household errands and house cleaning.

We decided to follow the plank challenge from the start and held one for 10 seconds last night.

Reading.

You may have noticed that I mentioned pacing the floor while reading. While February’s Challenge is officially over…I have a few things to share about reading. Be on the look out next week for my recap and thoughts on the challenge. I have started a new book. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I haven’t seen the movie yet. Have you? I did choose this book for a specific reason, which I’ll share in that post next week.

Full Moon.

Did you see the full moon last night? Ours was covered in a haze of clouds that made it appear quite magical. It was a full moon in Virgo. I’m a Virgo. Hmmm… does that mean there’s some magic in store for me? I’m thinking it’s a definite yes… especially when I go visit those Standing Stones of Callanish in May.

Music.

I still haven’t had much time this week to hunt for “new to me” music. It’s been enough to fit in a 15 minute meditation each day. This also means that YouTube “recommends” quite a few meditation videos to me and many of the other “recommendations” are popular songs which I tend not to choose for this space.

The singer behind Iron & Wine is Sam Beam. His roots appear to be some of my stompin’ grounds. Not really…but close. South Carolina…Virginia…Florida…North Carolina. I am partial to the East Coast of the U.S. That may be because I haven’t been any farther west than Arizona.

I hope that you have an adventure filled weekend and smooth sailing for the week!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday!

We’ve once again arrived at Friday. This week has been much better than the last two. Not without its stressors, but substantially better!

I think it was because the sun came out. Is that springtime peeking its head into Virginia?

I think maybe yes.

 

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Friday Faves.

This week I’ll just dive into the Friday Faves.

Obviously, #1 is that the sun came out! Hallelujah, I was rejoicing. I once mentioned that I’m like the clingy friend when it come to Vitamin D. I need the sun WAY more than it needs me.

Mill Mountain Star Trail.

The hubby and I decided that we could not waste the sunshine. We went and hiked the Mill Mountain Star Trail. You can see a map of this an surrounding trails here. Since we were hiking round trip, you can begin at the Star (210 Reserve Ave, Roanoke) or from the car parking lot (1208 Riverland Road, Roanoke). We started from Riverland Road, so it is uphill to the Star, which sits atop the summit of Mill Mountain. The summit is Roanoke’s highest point at 1,703 feet.

I didn’t bring along my camera, just the phone. I wasn’t sure what the trail was like and didn’t want to lug it along. Next time I’ll bring it and maybe can make the hike a post of its own as I have done with some other areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I knew there were many components to better mental health when spending time in nature. I had recently read an article about how time in nature (green space) reduced teen depression rates. A few days after the hike, I would read this article,which also mentions that knowledge. It also goes into the scientific backing of forest bathing. It talks about how the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. One of those reasons is because mixed into the air are terpenes released by plants. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities.

I’ve always known that I feel better when walking through a forest. It’s amazing to read about the scientific reasoning behind much of it. The article shares even more about how forest air affects us. If you’re interested in Science, I recommend checking it out. They always link to the articles in which they are deriving the information, which is always a good source for even more knowledge.

 

 

Editing.

I worked some on editing my photos. The photo above is from Amsterdam and was in my archives. I really loved the pop of colors on the boats and the reflection in the water and in the windows. It made me realize that I really want to focus on learning how to use Lightroom.

I am still editing through an app on my phone even though I did sign up for a Lightroom/Photoshop package. I’ve been intimidated by the program and so I haven’t set aside the time to learn how to use it. I noticed when I was editing this photo, that while I’m very happy with the result, it’s also likely that in a program like Lightroom I would have been able to focus on exactly the spots I wanted versus the broad stroke of the selective tool that I now use.

I realize it’s time to press outside of my comfort zone in order to continue to grow in executing my creative vision.

 

Instagram.

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Faves that I was working on changing my Instagram grid to sets of three. I also have been trying to post more on my Instagram stories just to give people a little realistic glimpse into my life.

On Tuesday, I posted the above photo of Miss Sunshine. That photo was from her travel soccer season, but she had tryouts this week for the school season. I also talked on the Instagram story about how lovely the day had been. So lovely that I was able to throw open the window and the back door. Which was wonderful because the warm up and had made the house smell musty. I also started up the diffuser with a blend of lemon, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils. This was to help air out that musty smell…or as I shared on the story “the smell of dog butt”.

Photography.

I also shared my promised post of Views From the Top of Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh Scotland filled with photographs of from the rooftop.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill . .as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am doing my photos in a series of three. If you know me, you may know what this series is about. If you know me really well, then you may know why…if not, stay tuned . . .#seekthesimplicity #helookslikemyside #nothingisordinary #visualsoflife #fromwhereistand #darlingescapes #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #naturehippys #beachlover #pocket_beaches #visitnc #optoutside #modernoutdoors #exploretocreate #exploremore #tlpicks #saltlife #natureaddict #natgeotravel #travelstoke #traveldeeper #doyoutravel #letsgosomewhere #thediscoverer #roamtheplanet #lifeofadventure #staysalty #wanderfolk #fiftyshades_of_nature

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My Children.

The trio of Instagram posts for this segment were photos of my children.

Day #2 was Mr. D.

The sun was shining brightly enough that I did my reading out on the back porch that day. I’m on book #5 for month in case you are wondering.  On Wednesday, it was so warm that I wore flip flops to my Pilates class and we broke weather records that Roanoke hadn’t seen since the 1930’s.

I also participated in the weekly photo challenge and Wordless Wednesday by sharing some photos from my archives of my trip to Amsterdam.

Happy 18th Birthday to my oldest, @hunter02222 ! Rounding out the trio of photos of my children, if you hadn’t already guessed my theme. I am the mother of an official adult. I’m not sure how that happened! I remember the days when he was so little and I had to carry him around on my hip. And then, the day his shoe size surpassed his age. I don’t recall the day when he grew taller than me, but now standing at 6’6”, he towers over me by 10”! It’s been a fun journey watching him grow into a man…I can’t wait to see where he goes from here . .if you’ve made it this far and are looking for my daily quote: “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18” – Mark Twain . . .#happybirthday #18thbirthday #seekthesimplicity #fromwhereistand #visualsoflife #optoutside #wildernessculture #theoutdoorfolk #folkscenery #rsa_folknature #lifeofadventure #travelstoke #traveldeeper #blueridgeday #stayandwander #exploretocreate #exploremore #letsgosomewhere #nothingisordinary #liveoutdoors #theglobewanderer #neverstopexploring #sonyalpha #loveva #roamtheplanet

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Mother of an Adult.

Yesterday was Big Mr.’s birthday. He turned eighteen. I wrote a post about how strange it feels to be the mother of an adult.

I talked like crazy on my Instagram story. Much more than I usually do.

I did what every good mother does when it’s her child’s birthday….I went shopping for myself.

Actually, I had already planned that errand for the day. I am slowly looking for clothes to take to Aruba and an outfit for an upcoming party that I’ll be attending. As my final stop before returning home, I planned to pick up a cake for Big Mr. I saw that I had missed a text saying the check the website for an important message from the middle school.

Guns at School.

My stomach dropped. My immediate thought was is the school on lockdown. There wasn’t a message on the website. I went in to buy a cake. The hubby texts me and asks if I got the phone call that a student had brought a gun to school. I had missed a call from the school, but the voicemail hadn’t come through yet.

I was stunned.

So I checked the school website again. And there it was. The important message that a student had brought a loaded handgun to the middle school. It was in the student’s locker and had been brought in on a dare with no intent to harm. This was the message.

When Miss Sunshine came home we discussed the situation. She wasn’t visibly shaken, but some of my children tend to repeat elements of a story when they are bothered by something…whether that’s real life, a news story, a scene in a movie, etc. It is their way of working through and processing something.

I will state right here that my website is not a place for a debate on gun control. Most people involved in that conversation get ugly pretty quickly…on both sides. I don’t promote hostility and won’t be starting today. Any commentary to that effect will be removed.

I do believe that we need to keep our school children safe.

I read a commentary by the Sheriff in Lee County (a county in Florida beside the one in which I grew up). He talked about how we feel safe when we enter a courthouse or when we fly and it due to increased security procedures. You’re welcome to read it here.

I thought about sharing what I wrote on my private Facebook page, but I’m still leery about even telling you guys about the fact that we had this scare. There are some people out there who seem to have nothing better to do than attack and my mental health does not do well with that. I will share that a snippet referred to the fact that we need not reminisce on the good ol’ days when this didn’t happen and instead focus on how we are going to address the current reality.

Our kids deserve to not live in fear.

Birthday Dinner.

Even though it was a mentally distressing and highly disturbing event, we weren’t going to let it stop life. It was Big Mr.’s 18th birthday, after all. The five of us along with three of his friends all went out to dinner. He chose a restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. Even though he didn’t want them to, his friends shared that it was his birthday. They have you climb on to a horse saddle and have everyone yell “YeeHaw” for you. It was quite hilarious. I was only able to share a little segment of the entire thing on my Instagram Story, but it was quite funny.

If you hurry, it’ll still be on my story until around 8 p.m. EST.

Motorcycles.

Big Mr. had a motorcycle permit and he took a class which means that once he’s turned eighteen…aka yesterday…he can legally drive a motorcycle without being followed by an adult.

Lord help my soul!

Honestly, I do love that my teenagers are daredevils. They live life to the fullest. I could learn a thing or two from them.

Music.

Since I talked about what life was like for me when I turned 18, I also got sucked in to what songs were popular when I was that age. This week I’ve chosen a song that came out near the end of 1995, shortly after I turned 18. I owned the CD and played it repetitively. It’s probably pretty apparent that I’ve always hated being told I couldn’t do something just because I’m a girl.

 

I hope that you all have a light-filled weekend and week up ahead. Hand out hugs freely to those that you love, smile at the shy person in corner, spread your light as far as you can.

 

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Friday Faves Edition 53

Friday.

How many of you are happy that it’s Friday?!

I debated not posting today because I’ve had a rough week and I feel like I just said that last week.

However, truth is truth.

And here I am.

Friday Faves.

With all my ups and downs for the week, there are still things to share as Friday Faves.

Pilates.

I managed to make it to Pilates each day that it is offered at my gym (MWF). My body feels stronger every day and I feel like Pilates is really making a difference. I don’t have any photos to share, but I’m considering having someone in the family snap some over the weekend so I can share how far I’ve come in my strength journey. I feel like it’s quite far considering most of the Pilates I do is body weight only and on occasion with a 3 pound weight maximum.

Aruba is in six weeks and I plan to feel confident in my swimsuit!

Appliances.

Remember how I told you two weeks ago that my microwave died and how appliances hate me? Well my stove has decided that it’s not sure it wants to do its job either. Sometimes when you push the bake button, the timer comes on instead. Both appliances are exactly 10 years old. Coincidence? I think not. Older appliances ran and ran and ran. Today…not so much.

Since I want them to match and am not a fan of feeling pressured into buying a big ticket item that isn’t exactly what I want, I went to a big box store and picked up a cheap countertop microwave. I know what you’re thinking. Well that seems wasteful. Ahhh….but I thought this through. Big Mr. heads off to college in the fall and Mr. D is a year behind. The little microwave will still have usage in our family.

Natural Wellness.

I mentioned that one of the teens has been sick. It wasn’t the flu. Yay. But it still means that I’m trying to keep anyone else in the house from catching it. I went to the health store because my friends rave about Sambucas, which is an elderberry syrup. Do you know that most of the shelf was empty?! I actually made an elderberry “syrup” a while back. However, I’ve never made something that needs reduced. I estimated the reduction improperly so it’s more liquid than syrup.

I think I’m going to start adding it to my smoothies (if I can remember).

Protein Powder.

Another thing I needed to pick up was some protein powder. I am still doing the mostly vegetarian thing. I find that a protein smoothie satisfies me more than eggs. I’m deliberately not sharing the protein powder I’m using because I’m still trying to decide if I like it. My old protein powder was Organic Rice Protein Powder. I’ve mentioned before how I cannot have canned whipped cream. It causes a tickle in my throat and a cough. Some restaurant/fast food milkshakes cause that as well. I noticed that the rice protein powder was possibly doing that as well. I say “possibly” because I can’t rule out that is it isn’t a random ingredient in the Almond Milk. However, Miss Sunshine has the same issue and says it’s the protein powder (she uses almond milk in her cereal with no issue…I only use it in smoothies). I wanted to try Pea Protein, but what they had is a blend.

Stevia.

Not only is it a blend of many proteins, but it has stevia. Almost every powder I looked at has stevia (my old powder didn’t). I know people in the wellness world seem to love stevia. I do not. It overpowers every single drink in which it’s found. Occasionally, I want something other than water or unsweet iced tea and I’ll try a flavored drink. I don’t know why I do it, because any time stevia is on the label it makes my tastebuds and stomach cringe as I drink it.

The positive side to the powder is that I think I’m not having a reaction to it, but I’m not fully sure. I’ve started incorporating spinach into the smoothie for health reasons, but also to try to cut through the taste of stevia. If you know of any protein powder that doesn’t use stevia, let me know! FYI: I use vanilla. I might be willing to go plain, but while I like chocolate, I dislike it as a drink.

Valentine’s Day.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that this week was Valentine’s Day. This is one holiday where I refuse to buy in to the heavy commercialization of it. Maybe I’m jaded. I did update my cover photo on Facebook to the photo above that I took one summer in Carolina Beach and changed my profile picture to the hubby and me. That was about it. We watched a movie at home. I talked about it in yesterday’s post.

Olympics.

We’ve also been watching some of the Olympics. We watched Shaun White win the Gold. I also like watching figure skating. I don’t understand curling and don’t know if I want to understand it. The skiing is usually quite amazing too, although I haven’t seen as much of that.

What is your favorite sport to watch in the Winter Olympics?

Photography.

Besides my normal daily stuff and some not so normal daily stuff, I worked on editing some of my photography. One of my favorite recent photography outings was capturing the fog. I shared a fog series in my Wordless Wednesday post.

I loved the way the colors looked in those photos. The juxtaposition of the grass and the fog. The elements (trees and fences) that I chose as the subject. I just felt like it worked together. Something I don’t always feel in a photo session.

These two photos are some more from that session. They are ones that I was still debating whether or not I captured them exactly as I had envisioned.

The tree trunk in the first photo has these white lines into the bark. These are massive trees so the differentiation was striking. In the second photo, I really wanted to capture looking through the fencepost without losing the fact that it was a fencepost you were looking along. I had some trouble getting the depth of field and focus area exactly how I wanted, but there is still something I find intriguing about the photo.

What is you opinion? Do you prefer one over the other?

Instagram.

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I struggle with separating the fact that my self worth or creative skills are not directly tied to how many people “like” a photo. I am rarely on Facebook or Twitter, even if I have things that automatically post there (Blog and Instagram posts).

Instagram was my first love because I love photography. The people were (and are) welcoming. Then with the algorithm change, my numbers dropped substantially and I began to question whether I wanted to spend time there. However, I do love the people that I’ve built relationships with on that platform.

And so I stay.

My Instagram feed will never feel fully curated no matter how hard I try. But recently I’ve decided to try to make it feel somewhat more cohesive by posting 3 photos (to keep with the grid) from the same area and those three photos will probably be edited in a similar way. I started with a set of fog shots and today will be day #3 of Amsterdam shots. The love locks photo above I decided on as my tribute to Valentine’s Day.

Do you like the Instagram platform? Any other social media platforms?

Reading.

My blind date with a book turned out to be great. If you missed that in Edition 51 of Friday Faves, the book was Random Harvest. I couldn’t put it down and have already finished it. Now I am halfway through The Great Gatsby, which puts me at a distinct advantage for my February Challenge. I’ve checked out The Color Purple and The Picture of Dorian Gray. We’ll see how far I make it!

Are you reading anything good right now?

Music.

I didn’t have as much time this week to look for “new to me” music to share, but this song came up on my recommended through YouTube and I really liked it. The band is named Banners and the singer is Michael Joseph Nelson, who is a musician out of Liverpool.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and beautiful week.

Offer up a smile to a stranger. You never know who might need it.

Be the type of person who leaves a mark, not a scar. -Unknown

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 52

Friday Faves Edition 52

 

Friday.

Whether Friday comes fast or Friday comes slowly, it always manages to make its way here.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a very mentally taxing week. I’m not convinced that Friday is going to reduce any of my mental drain, but it’s likely that my support system will be more readily available over the weekend.

A few bouts of insomnia did not help the matter. To give you a glimpse into the mind of a person who deals with anxiety…. one night this week, I awoke and began to think about a situation with which I was currently dealing…and after spinning that round…then my mind decided “hey, you’re awake. let’s think about that flight you have in Scotland. you know…the one where you have to be there by 6 am and it’s likely a 20 or 30 minute ride from your hotel. you’ll need to line up a taxi. you should probably have them come at 5, that way if anything goes wrong, you’ll still have time to try to find a remedy. it’s a small town, what if taxis don’t run at 5 am?…what will you do then, Amy? huh? can you fix THAT problem…can you?”

I have learned through my time of practicing meditation ways in which to counteract my mind running off on these anxiety inducing commentaries. In those times when I awaken at night, I go back to repeating a mantra that I learned during those initial 30 days: “I am as dynamic as my rest.” Sometimes my mind tries to wander off some more and when I find it doing that, I bring myself back to this mantra and eventually do fall back to sleep.

Friday Faves.

Even in the midst of stress, I’m still able to bring a roundup of Friday Faves. Because there are still moments of beauty in the chaos. You just have to be willing to look. This is where practicing gratitude  has definitely helped to change my perspectives.

 

(Pretoria, South Africa ) “My mom is like a person who always protects, advises, and provides, no matter what. She is the person to whom I can tell each and every one of my secrets, everything. I feel like there is nothing she wouldn’t do for us, and we could depend on her no matter what. “I want to thank my mom for raising me.. Thanks for everything that you do, for everything you give, and for always putting us first. My mom would never hold back; I know there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for us. I really feel like she deserves a thank you for that. “I remember a time when she helped me with my school, and I helped her with her business. It’s how we grew up: my mom always taught us to help. I remember when I was in high school, we couldn’t afford the school tuition. I was afraid that I would have to leave school, but she said, ‘Don’t worry Ali; we’ll make a plan.’ She did whatever she had to do. She got the money for the transport, the stationery, everything. I know she sold some things, and I know it was very hard for her business; but she sent me to school, and I got my diploma. That’s who my mom is. No matter how bad things look or how impossible they seem, she would never give up; she would always fight for us. So all I want to do is to help to take care of my family, to try to be like my mother and give as much as she did. Additional information  Owns a boutique where he designs and makes clothing. He is originally from Malawi, but came all the way to South Africa to get his business started. . . . #happiness  #love #digithanks #travelstagram #photography #StayQueeky #visualsoflife #beautiful #neverstopexploring #awesome #loveislove #happy #fun #trip #exploreeverything #real #photos  #wonderful #traveling #feelfreefeed #support #travelawesome #dream #theadventureproject #travel #truth #adventure #liveauthentic #feelfreefeed

A post shared by DigiThanks (@digithanks) on

Gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, a fellow blogger, Sedi, reached out to me about checking out her Instagram page. She is the founder of DigiThanks, which is a gratitude project in which people share something or someone for which they express their gratitude. She also share quotes and scientific facts about gratitude. I think this a a wonderful project and wanted to share its existence with all of you. She has gratitude stories from more than forty countries. I think you’d enjoy checking them out. To place her Instagram on my blog, I could only choose one story. I’m a little biased towards somebody being grateful towards their mother seeing how I’m in the process of raising three teenagers and hopeful that someday they will see the reasoning behind my advice. But all the stories are wonderful.

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Bar Soap.

I haven’t actually tried these specific bars of soap, but I have moved over to bar soap. I shared my recycling journey  thus far. While I do enjoy that I’m putting out less bags into the regular trash can, I also noticed that my recycling bin is quite full each week. I began to pay attention to the amount of recyclable things where there were other choices that could just as easily be made.

One of those was soap. I have sensitive skin and have used body wash (I was told it was gentler on the skin, many, many years ago) and a loofah. Hmmm…plastic container….plastic washing thingie…OR I could use a bar of soap and recycle its cardboard container. So that’s a switch that I’ve made!

Do you have items that you’ve exchanged for something that has less impact on the environment?

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Houseplants.

If you’ve read my blog for sometime then you know that we’ve had a set of Peace Lilies for quite a while that were originally purchased because of their purported ability to clean the air. I have seen some arguments that assert that there is some myth to the way that it is circulated. Here is the NASA article. You can judge for yourself.

However, while I did choose plants that may clean indoor air pollution, I also added them because greenery and nature uplifts my spirits. I have been admiring photos of houses filled with plants because they make the room look so cozy. After starting my indoor plant journey, I read this article about how Amazon’s new office building is filled with 40,000 plants!

I should also note that most of you know that I don’t have a green thumb and kill all plants. My husband keeps the Peace Lilies alive and has agreed to care for any indoor plants I add to our home.

Corn Plant.

I wanted a plant in the living room that was taller than my Peace Lilies. We opted for a Mass Cane, also known as a Corn Plant.

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Majesty Palm.

Miss Sunshine liked the look of a palm (we are originally Floridians, you know) and wanted to add one to brighten up the corner of her bedroom. Winter isn’t the best time to find plants here in Virginia, but winter is also when I most need to see some green. We were looking for an Areca Palm, but this Majesty Palm was just as pretty.

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Pothos.

I wanted to add some plants to the raised counter between sides of my kitchen. We chose Pothos because it doesn’t require bright light. There are windows and doors in the kitchen, however, they aren’t beside this space. I loved the planter so much that I’ve gone back to purchase a second Pothos plant and the same rectangular planter. Those little clay pieces were made by each of my children in an art class over the years. They make me smile each time I look at them.

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Spider Plant.

When I started adding houseplants over the weekend, I really wanted a spider plant for Big Mr.’s room. I don’t know if it really helps with allergies as is credited to it, but I’m willing to try. Big Mr. has a room in the basement. In our last house, his room didn’t have carpet and I was relieved since it always retains so much dirtiness. However, this room has carpet and it was new carpet when we bought the house so we couldn’t justify replacing it.

The places where I went looking for Spider Plants did not have any. As luck would have it, after Miss Sunshine’s hair appointment this week, we popped in to Earth Fare to pick up some dinner. Lo, and behold, at the entrance were two enormous Spider Plants for sale. Miss Sunshine quickly claimed one for herself. I’m sorely tempted to keep this one for myself because I love its “extras” hanging down which remind me of the air plants that grow in Florida.

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Graduation.

Since I’m on the topic of Big Mr, one of the things that has been hanging over my head are finalizing the graduation announcements for Big Mr. I opted for the less classic version…because I don’t think anyone will really save those and it would be a waste of my money and time. We opted for ones that have photos which I knew my family would appreciate because they see my children less often now that we don’t live in Florida.

My teenagers rarely pose for photos. I mostly shoot landscapes and buildings, so most of my portrait photography doesn’t turn out how I’d like. I was planning to take some photos of Big Mr. for the announcements. However, they never turned out or he was busy and so I kept putting off finalizing the announcements. Originally, my shoot for the announcements would have shown off his beautiful green eyes, but in the end I used a set of photos I had taken on a day when he had asked me for a mini-session.

The announcements were set up for 4×6 landscape-style photos, and the other three photos were taken in that way. This one I had to crop. It looks great on the announcement, but I do love the entire photo. It was such a relief to finally check that box off of my to-do list.

Humor.

Instead of song this week, I’m offering a bit of humor. I could use some humor. How about you?

How many of you watched the Super Bowl? I would show you my favorite Super Bowl commercial (it was the Tide ad with David Harbour from Stranger Things that starts out making you think it’s an Old Spice ad…I love the Old Spice ads), but I think Bad Lip Reading will make you laugh even harder.

If you missed a mini tour of my current city, you can find that here. This week, I also shared the lessons I learned during my month of being a vegetarian and some photos that I let speak for themselves.

I hope that you all have a stress free weekend and many days of happiness in the coming week.

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Let your light shine!

Amy