Friday Faves - Edition 40

Friday Faves – Edition 40

Friday.

Today is Edition 40 of my Friday Faves. I feel like I should have a celebration or something. Edition 40 during my year of being 40. Seems special… right?!

Anyway, just know that I’m doing a happy dance to mark my excitement.

I know that might make it seems like my faves this week will be something phenomenal. But, no… it was just a week.

In fact, I have no idea how this day came so fast. Each day I had to remind myself which day of the week it was because I was certain it was really the one before.

When I shared my faves in last Friday’s post, I told you that Miss Sunshine and I were heading down to Greensboro, North Carolina for her final fall soccer tournament. In true teenager fashion, 10 minutes before we were going to head out the door, she discovered that her undershirt (because it was going to super cold!) was at the bottom of her soccer bag and smelled. We ran it through a quick wash and then got it mostly dry and hung it in the car for the drive down. We weren’t really on a timeline. It just gets dark and 5:30 pm and I prefer to travel to parts unknown in the daylight. 3/4 of the drive in daylight wasn’t horrid because the directions were pretty easy.

After checking in to the hotel, Miss Sunshine and I went to eat at Logan’s Roadhouse. I don’t know if you have these where you are, but it’s a chain. There are barrels of peanuts around and pails of them on your table. The shells are thrown to the ground.

This place would be a horror to anyone with a peanut allergy. Luckily, we don’t have that problem. We had a nice steak dinner while Miss Sunshine regaled me with ideas for an invention she must think up as part of an essay to apply to a specialized high school around these parts.

Her first game the next morning was delayed due to the earlier games needing to start later… because there was FROST on the ground. That game was tie. The later game they won 11-0. They needed to keep it a shut out from a point system, but as the score climbed, the players were moved around to positions they don’t often play in order to not humiliate the other team. Sunday was an 8 am game. Ugghhh… This meant that I got up at 5:45 am. I don’t even do that during the week. We watched the sun rise over the highway on the drive to the fields. They won that game 8-0. This meant they would head into the championship against the team that they had tied the previous day.

And they came out the victors!

They won the game 1-0. I’m not going to delve in too deep about the poor sportsmanship shown by the other team during the game. I will say that in the 7 years that Miss Sunshine has played soccer, I have never seen a player stand there at kick at another player’s ankles while they are waiting for a throw-in. Which happened right in front of the sideline. You get injured in soccer. I get that. Miss Sunshine had a nasty bruise on her inner lower leg. I have no problem with that. It’s the unfortunate mishap when two people are both going for the ball. I do have issue with the dirty, sometimes dangerous moves that were happening. The center ref did not have control of the field and we’re lucky none of the girls were seriously injured. And in true poor sportsmanship fashion, the other team did not even attend the medaling ceremony to collect their medals.

But enough about that!

Here’s how I entertain myself while I try to stay warm in the car during her warm-ups.

Aren’t Snapchat filters so much fun! I felt just like a sleepy bear needing to hibernate for the winter. But I did get to pull out that cashmere scarf that I bought in Scotland! FYI- if you haven’t been around the blog long enough to have read about my trip to Scotland, the scarf was Made in Scotland. You have to see those words on the tag to know that it was actually made there. I’m glad somebody gave me the heads up about that before I traveled there.

So…speaking of filters.

Miss Sunshine had a presentation to do in Spanish today. It required photos of the family. This is the one I chose of me. The hubby took this shot while we were at lunch at Mabry Mill. The lighting was harsh and showed how badly my face needed some lotion or some makeup (and maybe 20 years taken off). I did let her take in a selfie of the hubby and me that wasn’t edited, but this wasn’t going up on a Powerpoint in front of the class without some editing.

I don’t often talk about my editing because each photo is different. Some are edited, some are not. Some a little, some a lot. I don’t have Lightroom yet.  That’s next on my list, but my laptop is almost out of space so I need to migrate my photo library to an external hard drive and I get scared about losing my photos in the process

I thought that just for fun I’d tell you how I edited this photo of me.

First of all, here are the settings for the Sony Alpha 7 II:  ISO 250 | 28 mm | f/4.5.

It was shot on Aperture Priority. I was the one who chose the depth of field. I’m a fan of shallow depth.

Right now I just have the Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS lens. I want to add a 50 mm f/1.8 so that I can have an even shallower depth. The issue is that the Sony lens costs 3x more than a Nikon or Canon one. You can buy adapter rings for those lenses to fit…so it’s just a matter or deciding which route to go.

But back to the editing.

I edited this photo in the Snapseed App on my phone. Sometimes I also use the VSCO app or A Color Story app for certain things, but I predominately use Snapseed.

Miss Sunshine needed to get this into her Powerpoint, so I needed to edit quickly. I’ve never used the “looks” part of Snapseed, but I checked out Smooth. It made me look fake. I did not want that (heck, I left all those forehead wrinkles that show up when I raise my eyebrows. Ok… they sort of stay there even when my eyebrows are in a normal position. 36 years in the Florida sun with fair skin will do that. Add four more years of dry, cold Virginia winters…and…yeah). The portrait “look” was a more realistic filter so that was what I used. Under Curves, I added U01. I liked how it added a tone reminiscent of an 80’s film photograph. Then it was time to tune the image and make it a little more unique than just laying filters on it. Here’s what I chose: brightness +4, contrast +2, saturation +7, ambiance +5. I actually start from the bottom of this list and work my way up, adjusting to my preference. Sometimes I may work with highlights and lowlights after that, but not always.

And there you have it!

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I picked up a new journal this week. Not because I needed one, but because I thought it was pretty. Sometimes you just need pretty. I haven’t decided what I want to fill its lines with. Will it be a story? Will it be lists? Will it be thoughts?

Big Mr. applied to his first college and is working on a few other applications. Mr. D becomes a solo driver tomorrow. Each of those things makes me realize how close we are moving to them flying from the nest.

As I think about the leaves that are now falling from the trees, I recognize a new season approaching.

Both in the weather and in my life.


The song I chose this week is by the Australian, Xavier Rudd.

I made the executive decision this week to push my 5k goal into the spring. The cold and I don’t get along and I want to enjoy my first race.

This presents a training issue. I gave up my yoga classes to run…and I miss them. I don’t want to give up my Pilates classes either, so I’ll have to rethink my schedule.

As I sat today, in day 48 of meditation, I realized that I often make my life more complex than it needs to be.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. It’ll be my first without a soccer game, but Miss Sunshine has to finish up a project for Science so I’ll likely be around the house. Sounds like a good time for some book reading. I need to make some headway on Middlemarch.

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company.

37 rue de la Bûcherie. Paris, France.

Shakespeare and Company is an Independent Bookstore in Paris. From the moment that Helen commented that I should visit there while in Paris, I knew that this was one of the destinations on my “must see” list.

As I mentioned, after our visit to Sacré Cœur, we decided to head to Shakespeare and Company. Somehow I managed to navigate us getting off at the wrong Metro Station. I’m still not sure how that happened as Google and Apple maps were very reliable during our travels. Since I would need a few minutes to gather our bearings and somebody needed to use the bathroom (this is an inevitable, frequent occurrence when traveling in a party of 5), we decided to head into a nearby restaurant for lunch.

We were somewhat surprised by the service, or lack thereof. This is also the restaurant where I obviously did not understand what they meant on the sauce description. When it said egg, it wasn’t part of the sauce. It was actual raw egg, placed on top of the pasta. I ate around it the best I could and ate whatever leftovers the teens still had on their plates.

As we began our journey toward Shakespeare and Company, we discovered that while we had felt confused by where we exited the Metro, we were in fact very close to the Louvre.

It occurred to us at that point that we were probably eating at a touristy restaurant, which would explain the high prices combined with lack of service.  Next time I visit Paris I will actually look at Yelp reviews and try to find restaurants loved by Parisians. I’ve specifically not shared certain names of the places in which we ate because I don’t like to add to negativity, but they were ranked in the lower third of reviews.

Since we were passing by the Louvre, I decided to experiment with capturing a panorama. Of course that would be the moment that vehicles would pass through!

A second try was much more successful and we then continued on our way toward Shakespeare and Company.

If I had been a person with a pre-planned itinerary, we would have visited the bookstore on the day that we visited Notre-Dame. It is located on the Left Bank opposite Notre-Dame.

Shakespeare and Company was founded in 1951 by the American, George Whitman.

The building it’s housed in was constructed in the 17th Century and was originally a monastery.

When the bookstore first opened it was called Le Mistral. Whitman changed it to its present name in April of 1964, on the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth.

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He did this in honor of a bookseller he admired, Sylvia Beach, who’d founded the original Shakespeare and Company in 1919. Her bookstore had been a gathering place for expat writers at that time…such as Hemingway and Eliot.

He endeavored to carry on that spirit. Allen Ginsberg and Anaïs Nin are just a few of the literary expats who gathered here.

 

 

Shakespeare and Company is considered one of the most famous independent bookstores in the world.

An estimated 30,000 aspiring writers have bunked at Shakespeare and Company.

I knew that I had to walk along the floors, smell the scent of old paper, and touch the worn bindings of the old books.

So after capturing some of the doors for my Thursday Door friends, I entered.

The hubby and teens decided to rest their weary feet and sit outside while I perused the bookstore.

Inside, there are new books as well as old.

They request that no photos be taken inside to respect the privacy of the patrons. As much as there were places inside that I would have loved to photograph, I chose to respect their request.

A google image search of the staircase will show you one such photo that I was tempted to take.

It spoke to me because upon it was written so much of what I believe to be true.

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being. -Hafiz

The red stairs are well worn. I wonder how many feet have walked up that stairwell. I pause and look at things pinned here and there… and words…everywhere are words.I ponder the magnitude of how many written words are contained in this space.

As I meander about the rooms at the tops of the stairs, my mind travels to the writers who sat here pouring out their thoughts. I run my hand along the spaces. If there is any magic here, I want it travel through my fingertips. I want it to take residence in my brain and then find its way back out and through my fingertips into written words.

I am conscientious of the fact that I have left my family waiting for me. I know they are tired and we still want to see the Eiffel Tower from its base.

I want to stay here and soak up this magic.

To breathe in the creativity.

But I must go.

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I leave, but I know that I will return again someday.

Once again, I slowly ascend those stairs, and this time I will sit upon the chairs.

I will breathe deeply in that creative space.

And I will think on those whose written words have made it from their fingertips and on those whose words are still waiting to be written.

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. - Jack Kerouac

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

Doors of the Royal Yacht Britannia

Doors of the Royal Yacht Britannia

Royal Yacht Brittania.

When I shared some photographs from my time at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh in this post, I also mentioned that we had purchased the 48-hour Royal Edinburgh ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus tours.

We went that route because it included fast track admission into Edinburgh Castle, The Palace Of Holroodhouse, and The Royal Yacht Britannia.

The first two places were already on our itinerary to visit so the Royal Yacht Britannia was a bonus that we were squeezing in to the day.

We decided that meant that we would catch the first bus there. We were staying at Princes Street Suites, which is located at 16 Waterloo Place, so it was walkable to the bus tour which departs from Waverley Bridge. We grabbed a breakfast sandwich to go from Rabbie’s Cafe Bar (many tours of Scotland depart from here) which was just down the street at 6 Waterloo Place. It was a gray, drizzly morning in Scotland as we made our way to Waverly Bridge.

The Majestic Tour line is the bus that will take you to Leith where the Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed. Along the way you will see parts of the city that you might not have if you were just walking around the Royal Mile area of Edinburgh. The glimpse that I had of the Royal Botanic Garden as we passed looked like it would have been a beautiful place to visit.

The entrance to the Royal Yacht Britannia tour is housed inside the Ocean Terminal on the second floor.

There is an audio tour which is offered in 30 languages. My mother and aunt had a good laugh when the gentleman handing out the listening devices asked me “German?”. My DNA is 79% British…plus I can only speak English and bits of Spanish. I’m pretty sure he heard the German family behind us talking and was just trying to be proactive. I felt bad that he was embarrassed by his mistake. I thought it was sweet that he was being helpful.

While the Royal Yacht Britannia wasn’t originally on our list due to our limited time in Scotland, its impressiveness did not disappoint.

Today, let’s see some of the doors I passed through while walking along the tour

Because who doesn’t love a wooden door and porthole windows!

The recommended time is 2-3 hours to do the tour. We may have done it in less as we had a very full day planned.

The Britannia was launched on April 16, 1953. It served the Royal Family for over 44 years and traveled over a million miles.

The tour covers the Britannia’s five main decks.

It begins at the Bridge, meanders through the State Apartments, then on to the Crew’s Quarters, and finishes at the Engine Room.

The Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. Its decommissioning also marked the end of a long tradition of British Royal Yachts, dating back to 1660 and the reign of Charles I.

Have you toured the Britannia?

It’s listed as Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction.

I’d love to hear what you thought.

If you enjoy doors, hop over to Norm’s (host of Thursday Doors) blog and be sure to check back as I share more photos from my tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Let your light shine!

Amy

In the Shadow of Sacre Coeur

In The Shadow Of Sacre Coeur

Sacré Cœur.

35 rue du Chevalier de la Barre.

After a morning spent making our way to some shops on rue d’Hauteville in Paris, we realized that if we had traveled all this way that we should continue on to see Sacré Cœur.

We had already covered 2.2 km (1.37 miles) making our way from the hotel to the area where we shopped, so while the hubby knew how far we needed to walk, I left it nebulous to the teenagers. They are more action-oriented than sight-seeing oriented and I knew the basilica wouldn’t be high on the list if they knew that there was still 2.0 km (1.24 miles) or around 30 minutes more walking on top of the 30+ minutes they’d already done.

After some “how much farther” and “are we there yet” questions (yes, even teenagers still ask that question. To be fair…so do some adults), we finally arrived at Boulevard de Rouchechouart and got a peek of Sacré Cœur rising up on the Butte Montmartre located in the 18th arrondissement.

Sacré Cœur is a Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica.

The basilica was designed by architect Paul Abadie and six other architects succeeded him to complete the building. The architectural style is Romano-Byzantine.

The first stone was laid in 1875 and although the basilica was ready to be consecrated in 1914, World War I put that on hold and it was consecrated on October 16, 1919.

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The exterior travertine stone is known as Château-Landon. It exudes calcite upon contact with rainwater, which is how the basilica stays so white.

Sacre Couer in Montmartre with carousel in foreground

Be forewarned that if you decide to walk along the area in front of Sacré Cœur, you will likely be harassed by scam artists known as “string men”. We were familiar with many of the talked about scams in Paris, but had not heard of this one. It is very obvious that there must be an underlying scam and we were very direct in saying “no thank you”. However, these men were especially keen to try to prey on my 15 and 17 year old sons by appealing to the fact that my boys are friendly. One tried to fist bump the 15 year old and as he went to oblige, the man opened his hand as if to handshake instead and began to place the string. I turned and pulled my son away, again saying “no thank you”.

It left a sour taste in your mouth that it did not end. Others would continue to come up and tried to talk to my sons when they weren’t standing right beside us. Originally, I wasn’t the least bit worried about harassment of my sons since they stand at 6’6″ and over 6′, and while the men were not aggressive (in a hostile way), they were unrelenting.

There were no police around to create a presence that would perhaps eliminate the harassment.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying the beauty of Sacré Cœur.

Even though everyone was tired, I coerced them into climbing the stairs and getting a closer view of the basilica.

We did not go inside the basilica. We climbed to the balcony above the crowds picnicking on the lawn.

The views of the city were breathtaking.

At one point while the hubby and I were taking selfies and Miss Sunshine was capturing the city views, the boys sat down near the lawn below and listened to a gentleman playing his guitar.

It was a resplendent spring afternoon in Paris.

The beauty of the basilica more than made up for our tired feet.

I can still remember that day so clearly.

Walking along the streets of Paris, hunting a little boutique for Mr. D to buy his girlfriend a present.

Deciding that I,too, must have a present and finding a bangle bracelet in a little shop along rue d’Hauteville.

Watching my teens stroll along drinking their sugar laden Starbucks fraps.

Holding my husband’s hand in Paris.

Climbing the stairs of Montmartre.

Taking in all its beauty.

From here we would make our way to my one requested stop… Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore in the heart of Paris

… but not before getting off at the wrong stop along the way.

Each moment a memory.

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things- Kurt Vonnegut quote with daisies in the background

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Prisons of War Exhibition Edinburgh Castle

Prisons of War Exhibition – Edinburgh Castle

Prisons of War.

One of the exhibitions at Edinburgh Castle is Prisons of War.

It’s located within Dury’s Battery, which is at the top of the hill past the Royal Scots Museum.

The re-creation shows what life was like for the prisoners of war.

Of course, I found the doors most intriguing…

…a detail in architecture that I tend to notice more thanks in large part to having stumbled upon Norm’s (host of Thursday Doors) blog.

The first prisoners were French privateers captured in 1758 soon after the outbreak of the Seven Years War (1756-1763).

In June of 1781 this prison was more crowded than at any other time. There were over 600 Frenchman, almost 100 Spaniards, a number of Dutchmen, 30 Americans, and a few Scots and Irish. Almost all who were held here were sailors.

 

Here we get a peek at the graffiti that they carved into the doors.

Ducatez is Spanish. Also carved into the door is Lefevre (French) and Garrick (presumed British or American). They were shipmates on the French ship Le Rohan Soubise, captured off the east coast of Great Britain in April of 1781.

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On the other side of the display case is another graffiti covered door.

While much of the graffiti is hard to see on this door, besides the letters and numbers, there are carvings of the types of ships in which the men sailed. The most common are “two-masted” brigs and cutters.

Not only did Edinburgh Castle house prisoners during the Seven Years War,  it also housed prisoners during The American War of Independence (1775-1783) and The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

In 1811, 49 prisoners of war escaped through a hole in the south wall of the castle. It was mostly due to this fact that Edinburgh Castle ceased to be used as a prison from 1814.

An interesting fact about those who were held here is that only ordinary seamen were imprisoned at Edinburgh Castle.

Their officers were allowed out “on parole”… in other words, to stay in private accommodations.

The prisoners at Edinburgh Castle included young cabin boys, soldiers, ship’s carpenters, and cooks, as well as ordinary seamen.

Their sleeping accommodations were hammocks hanging from raftered frames.

There are audio recordings playing that hint at what life may have been like at the time.

You can learn about their rations, healthcare, allowances, and more throughout the exhibition.

It doesn’t take long to tour and the cost is included in the entrance fee to Edinburgh Castle.

There is quite a bit of interesting history and I would recommend taking the time to go through the Prisons of War exhibition if you are spending the day at Edinburgh Castle.

Have you toured this exhibition at the castle? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Haven’t visited the castle? Is it on your “must see” travel list?

Update: I’ve had some people wonder how they missed this during their visit to Edinburgh Castle. I’ve included the YouTube trailer video from Historic Scotland. Based on the fact that it was uploaded in 2014, perhaps this is a newer exhibition.

I found both Edinburgh and Glasgow to be wonderful places during my trip to Scotland and discovered that I didn’t have near enough time to see everything that would have made my “must see” list.

I think that means that I must return again someday!

And then there is the most dangerous risk of all - the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself freedom to do it later - Randy Komisar

Let your light shine!

Amy