Street Corners of Amsterdam

Street Corners of Amsterdam

One thing that I’ve noticed about traveling to new places is that around every corner there are exciting things…unfamiliar and yet, exhilarating.

So today, I thought we’d take a stroll around the street corners of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was the first place that my feet trod on foreign soil (outside of the German airport layover…but we’re talking “literal” soil).

If you’ve been reading my blog for sometime then you know that I traveled to Amsterdam this past April… a mere 4 1/2 months ago.

If you’d like to read some of my other posts from Amsterdam, you can find a few here, here, and here.

One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to just stroll along the streets.

I love to see the architecture.

Europe has much older architecture than in the United States so it was a treat to see the historical buildings as I walked along in Amsterdam.

While I admire architecture, I am not well versed in recognizing the period in which the styles came into construction. History, as well as geography, were never my strong subjects. I was a math and science girl with a little creative writing thrown in to round me out. It wasn’t until I became interested in traveling that I began to take interest in history and geography. Given that I’m still new to foreign travel, I have quite a bit to learn.

Amsterdam’s history dates back to the 13th Century.

At the time of my visit, I did not realize that I too have a history that winds its way through the streets of Amsterdam.

My 10th great-grandfather was Jan Frans Van Husum (Van Hoesen, Van Huss, Vanhooser). He was from Husum in Schleswig, which was part of Denmark at the time. He married Volkje Jurrians from the island of Nordstrand. Little is known about them prior to their marriage, but there was a great flood in 1634 that was devastating to Nordstrand and the coast of Denmark, including the city of Husum.

They were married in 1639 in Amsterdam and were living on Tuinstraat.  Little did I know while I was visiting the Anne Frank House, that across the canal and up a bit, once had lived my 10th great-grandparents. I do not know how long they lived in Amsterdam prior to their marriage, but a few months later they would set sail for America.

They sailed for New Amsterdam, which was the southern tip of Manhattan.

In 1662, he would purchase hundreds of acres around Claverack from the Mohicans.

He was the first of his name to come to America. All variations of his last name eventually make his way back to him and Volkje.

My line would make it’s way down to North Carolina and eventually Kentucky. I once read that the family name change from Van Hooser to Van Hoose was a disagreement between brothers over sides during the Revolutionary War. There are those much more knowledgeable than me into the genealogical history of the name that would know the details.  My 6th Great- Grandfather was John B. Van Hoose who was married to Mary Bryan. There is great debate and mystery over her heritage as the Van Hoose’s did travel to Kentucky with the likes of the Boone’s and Bryan’s.

But, nonetheless, that heritage that would travel to my maternal grandmother, Reva Van Hoose, would start with a marriage that took place in Amsterdam.

I wonder what the street corners looked like as they strolled along them?

Did they wave hello to Rembrandt as they made their way across town?

Did they stop and admire tulips or were they not in Amsterdam prior to the Tulip Bubble burst of 1637?

Street corners hold thousands of daily tales.

Do yours have any to tell?

Let your light shine!



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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Glasgow, Scotland

Oh how I love thee.

When I traveled to Scotland with my mother and aunt at the end of May, we broke up the trip into 3 stays… 2 nights in Edinburgh (since that’s where the plane was landing), 2 nights in Glasgow, and then 3 nights in Edinburgh (since we were flying out from here). While we were trying to plan the trip, we had no idea what we would truly accomplish given that we were relying on public transportation. Since Edinburgh had easy access for our day up to Stirling Castle and a lot of well known spots to visit, we made that our longer home base.

Our trip to Glasgow was mainly genealogy based. We knew that we’d take the train to Airdrie to visit the library there and walk the streets that my great-great grandparents (Agnes McLachlan & James Scott) had walked. We knew that Agnes’s father, Hugh McLachlan, was born in Glasgow, but most of the ancestry information we had at the time was from small towns surrounding Glasgow.

We arrived in Glasgow on a Friday morning and took our bags to the hotel. We had purchased our train tickets to Airdrie along with our train to Glasgow that morning prior  to leaving Edinburgh. There are two train stations in Glasgow, Central Station and Queen Street Station. We had arrived at Queen Street so that is where we returned to head to Airdrie. We didn’t see it listed so asked an attendant who told us that we needed to leave from Central Station.  They aren’t too far apart so we walked there and again no train to Airdrie. It did indeed run from Queen Street, but there was a service disruption. I went through the process of getting our tickets refunded, all the while conscious that my mother was on the verge of tears. This was our only day to get to Airdrie from Glasgow since the research library is only open Tuesday through Friday. Over lunch, we decided to make the trip from Edinburgh to Airdrie on Tuesday and to make the most of the time that we had in Glasgow.

We could already tell that the architecture was stunning. There is a palpable difference between Glasgow and Edinburgh, even in the architecture. I can’t put my finger on it because I am not a historical or architectural expert. The only way I can describe the difference with the architecture would be that Glasgow’s is “more imposing” or “masculine” and even that would not properly explain it.

My mother and I decided to visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. After the exhausting morning, we planned to take a taxi. However, we walked a block too far past the taxi stand. So a mile and a half walk it was! As we got close, our approach brought us through Kelvingrove Park, which was originally created as the West End Park in 1852.


The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is located on the west end of the city.

We entered from the Park side. There are also elevators located here.

Kelvingrove Art Galley and Museum first opened in 1901. In 2003, it underwent a refurbishment and reopened in 2006.


The first piece that we came upon was Floating Heads by Sophie Cave.

I had previously seen that this sculpture was located at the Kelvingrove.

Over 50 heads with different facial expressions suspended from the ceiling of the foyer.


And while the masks are white, the lighting accenting them changes colors and makes you notice something different about them each time.


Also, once you start climbing the the grand staircase to the second floor, you begin to notice the different expressions of those faces at the higher levels.

Kelvingrove contains 22 galleries and displays 8,000 objects.

We did not even begin to have time to take in all of the astonishing collections.

There were works by the Scottish artists, collectively known as the Glasgow Boys. There was beautiful sculpture by George Lawson. I spied a Rembrandt as well as one  of their most well-known pieces… Christ of St. John of the Cross by Salvador Dali. I have not typically been a fan of Dali because Surrealism is just not my preference, but I did love this piece.


That’s one of the things that I love about art. There are endless ways to create. We will be drawn to some and not to others. We may stand in the same room as another human who loves what we perceive as unattractive.

I’m not a fan of pretending to know what the artist or writer intended from their work unless they have specifically shared their intent. At that point, your opinion is subjective and no more correct than anyone else’s. I am, however, a fan of finding art that I find to be beautiful… whether that be in words, on a canvas, in a photo, in music, in architecture, or in the way that nature creates a scene so spectacular that we could only begin to fathom creating something as divine.


The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is amongst the top three free-to-enter visitor attractions in Scotland, and one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom outside of London.

We left the Museum because it was closing. Otherwise, we would have spent many more hours strolling around. We exited on the Argyll Street side.

The building is stunning in its coloring and architectural details.

The beautiful red sandstone came from the Locharbriggs Quarry in Dumfries, Scotland. The architecture combines a variety of styles, but is most commonly referred to as Spanish Baroque. It is a category ‘A’ listed building.



Besides a slight crop, neither of these two exterior shots from Argyll Street have had any post-processing. I attribute this both to the amazing light and to my Sony Alpha 7II, which produces crisp shots even when shooting hand-held.

Sometimes we would imagine our family walking these streets of Glasgow. We thought perhaps that sometimes there would be a reason to come to the big city. Since then we’ve found that my 3rd great-grandfather, Hugh McLachlan’s parents (Hugh McLachlan and Mary McLachlan) were married in Glasgow on October 7, 1827. At the time, Hugh is listed as a Seaman. Given that the Hugh that is my 3rd great-grandfather was born in Glasgow in 1835, it would appear that my 4th great-grandparents did indeed walk the streets of Glasgow for some time. I’ve not found the death records for Hugh or Mary, but at the time of Hugh’s (3gg) death in Airdrie in 1881, his deceased father’s occupation was listed as a Private Coachman.

Perhaps he never left Glasgow?

No wonder Glasgow felt so much like home.

Next time I return, I will definitely spend more than two days in Glasgow.

From the Kelvingrove, we would walk to the grounds of the University of Glasgow… but that’s for another day.

Let your light shine!


Are you Irish Dna Testing

Are you Irish? 


Kiss me, I’m Irish.

Just kidding about the kiss me part.  Not about the Irish part. (I love snapchat filters even though I have no intention of snapchatting anyone other than my daughter.)

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.

A celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.

Today, I’m going to share a little about my DNA, history, and ancestry. And some news I’ve been dying to share!

If you’ve been following me for a while then you know that I had my DNA tested last year. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I expected to be more Scandinavian.  I also expected to be more Irish.

Prior to my testing, I had stumbled across some Irish mythology on the Tuatha de Danann while initially researching some Welsh mythology.  Some of the stories have overlapping similarities.

There are some claims that based on descriptions of the Tuatha de Danann [tall, red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, pale skin, came from the sky on ships] that these were really Nordic vikings on ships, the likes of which had never been seen, emerging from the mist.

When I read about that, I thought… AHA!  When I take my test it will show Irish, but it will  be ancestral Scandinavian and will answer why I am not petite and am pale.


I mean look at my dad…red hair, freckles, pale (Florida sun hides this reality).


One of my children was born with red hair.

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Alas!  I am 10% Irish.  Less than my husband’s 20%.

I have also run my DNA results through (you can upload your raw DNA here and find matches who may have used other testing companies).

There are admixture with oracle-4 tests [I am still learning which to choose- I chose the MDLP K23b. If you are knowledgeable in this area, feel free to jump into the comment section as I am claiming no knowledge, only sharing my results].

These tests can also show a breakdown of your ethnicity. I have read that if your ethnicity is as homogenous as mine, these programs have a hard time really pinpointing the region that your DNA comes from.  I don’t know if this is true or not.

The 1 population approximation lists me as (top 3 and the @ is distance from similar ethnicity.):

  • English @ 3.29 (I’ve rounded these numbers)
  • Irish @ 3.34
  • English_Cornwall_GBR @ 4.16

The 2 population approximation is 50% German-Volga + 50% Orcadian @ 2.62.

3 population approximation is the same, they just change it to 25% Orcadian + 25% Orcadian

The 4 population approximation is:  German-Volga + Irish + Orcadian + Scottish-Argyll-Bute-GBR @ 2.57.

I do have an ancestral history of Germans who emigrated to the United States from the Palatinate region.  Palatinate Germans were some of those who emigrated to Russia upon invitation by Catherine the Great.  Perhaps that is why I show German-Volga. In case you are wondering, Orcadian is the native population of the Orkney Islands of Scotland who are historically descended from the Picts, Norse, and Scots.

While I think the ethnicity estimate is an amazing tool, most things will remind you that your genealogical research is always key.  I am by no means an expert when it comes to genealogy.  I am barely a beginner.

I’ve shared before that I was not interested in history until I took this DNA test.  This history became tangible when I applied it to people that I descend from.


One of my distant relatives, my paternal 8th great- grandfather, was William Durkee. He was born about 1632 in Ireland (I’ve seen it listed at Meath, Ireland).  He is thought to be one of the first Irishmen to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He arrived in Massachusetts on November 9, 1663 as an indentured servant to Thomas Bishop.  He came from Barbados and is thought to have been sent there during Cromwell’s military invasion of Ireland (There is a lot of controversy surrounding myths and facts about that situation.  I am not a history major…not even close.  I will not be addressing that.)  The reason so much is known about his indentured servitude is because there are court records.

Most of the court records that I have seen deal with the fact that he impregnated Martha Cross, who is believed to have worked in the house of Thomas Bishop.  There are records of them coming before the court, charged with fornication, and the option of being whipped or paying fees.  There are records of a suit by her father for abuse of his daughter (the impregnation) and a counter-suit by William for her father withdrawing consent to marriage.  They would marry December 20, 1664, and two weeks later my 7th great-grandfather, John Durkee, would be born. For some time, William Durkee was not able to purchase land because he would not renounce his Catholic faith.  I have seen that he eventually did purchase land, but am not sure what led to that possibility.

Almost all of the Durkees in the United States and Canada descend from his 3 sons. If you’re curious about my line it’s: William Durkee>John Durkee>Stephen Durkee>Phineas Durkee> Experience Durkee>David Woodbury>John Milton Woodbury>Laura Louise Woodbury (my great-grandmother).


The only other family line that I’m pretty confident originates in Ireland is my maternal great-great grandmother, Agnes McLachlan Scott (in the picture above). I’ve shared a little about my Scottish history in this post.

A synopsis is that Agnes McLachlan was born in 1865 in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, Scotland. She was the daughter of Hugh McLauchlan (the census spells the name differently repetitively) and Agnes Baird.  On December 20, 1889, she married my great-great grandfather, James Scott (son of James Scott and Mary Munn).

James Scott was a miner and this would lead them to immigrate with their four sons to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1911.  Based on the typical naming pattern used in Scotland, I was able to discover that my great-grandfather, George Brown Scott, was actually named after a stepfather.  Mary Munn married George Brown in Barony, Lanarkshire, Scotland on December 30, 1872 (I do not know what happened to James Scott) and appears to have had 4 more children bearing the last name of Brown.


My McLachlan trail is hard to follow as there are many Hugh McLachlan’s in the area. My reasoning for believing that at some point it becomes an Irish history is because of the McLachlan name itself.

The Clan MacLachlan is a Highland Scottish clan that claims descent from Lachlan Mor, who lived on Loch Fyne in the 13th century. Tradition is that he was a descendant of Anrothan, an Irish prince of the O’Neill dynasty who moved to Scotland and married the daughter of the King of Argyll.  Further back, the lineage claims descent from Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages), High King of Ireland in the 4th-5th century.



Remember some weeks ago when I shared that I was planning a trip with my mom and aunt?

Well we haven’t actually booked the tickets yet, but I can’t stand it any longer!!

My mom’s passport came in…

and at the end of the summer…

we are planning to take a trip…


Not only do we plan to see the sights, we are hoping to find some of the places listed on the census records and stand on the streets where our ancestors feet have stood.

Any tips or words of wisdom are greatly appreciated! has a referral program that saves you 10% on the kit and rewards me $10 if you purchase through them.  You can find my link on my twitter account, which is in the side menu of my blog. This post has not been sponsored by them.  The referral program is offered to any person who purchases a kit through them. And even if you don’t use my link, they run specials all the time with a percentage off of the full price (usually around holidays when you might like to know your lineage).


Let your light shine!









Don’t wait until it’s too late


The trouble is, you think you have time. -Jack Kornfield

I have never professed to be a good housekeeper.  Indeed I am far from it. But I am trying. Part of that is working on the process of decluttering.  I could talk all day about that process. And I may… but on a different day.

A few weeks ago, while going through a box of “where in the world does this stuff belong”, I came upon a letter written by me in 2013.  A letter written to my father-in-law.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you may remember that his passing away on February 9, 2013 was the major catalyst for us seeking a move to Virginia.  I touched on this somewhat last year in this post.

My father-in-law joined the Navy as a fresh out of high school, 18 year old. He and my mother-in-law were high school sweethearts and would marry in 1952 when he came home on leave. He would spend 20 years in the Navy, starting as an enlisted man, and working his way to Warrant Officer and then as a Lieutenant, serving as a Nuclear Weapons Officer on the USS Saratoga. He would then go on to become a teacher of elementary and middle schoolers, eventually getting his Master’s and becoming a school counselor.  He would work with children for 20 years before retiring.

When I met my future father-in-law, I was 20 years old and he was already retired from two careers.  I would celebrate my 21st birthday during that first trip to Virginia.  We would sit on the back porch every morning drinking coffee.


On that trip, we took in a football game at my husband’s alma mater and where the first born grandbaby (my niece) was cheering.


He would be my husband’s best man at our wedding.  Making everyone laugh during his speech with his request that we give him some more grandbaby’s (to add to the four he already had).


And we fulfilled that request.


Later, he would end up having leukemia. He had it for years. I usually spent two weeks every summer at their home, driving up with the kids and then my husband flying up for the second week. We often visited over Christmas Break as well. The Christmas of 2012, he was not feeling well. We opted not to go up because he was sick enough that all the germs we would bring would not be good.  They said it was now lymphoma. He was not getting better. A few weeks later my husband would be traveling up to help his brothers and mother set up hospice. At that point, I knew that I would never see him again.  And so I wrote him a letter.  I had hoped he’d be able to have it read to him.

That did not end up being possible.

In my college English class, I read the poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.  I can’t even begin to explain why that poem struck me so deeply.  I was a 17 year old girl who had not even begun to taste the sting of death.  And yet, that poem became my favorite poem.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


My father-in-law did not go gentle into that good night.  The end was not easy.  He asked to speak to me once on the phone.  There was closure for me in that he remembered me in those moments.

So today I share the words that he was never able to hear (abbreviations have been used in place of some names).

In Case I Never Told You

In case I never told you I wanted you to know:

That I noticed when you made sure to spend time with each of the kids separately- whether it was teaching H to drive, teaching D about the mighty power or taking S to feed the neighbor’s pets, amongst all the other things.  I appreciated the fact that you took the time to make them feel special and create memories.

That I admire the fact that you taught for 20 years.  My patience level is low and you have always been so calm with my kids.  I imagine all those students felt special.

That I think it’s great that you love science so much because I find science fascinating.  Your innate curiosity about all the wonders of the world is inspiring because I feel like I can never get all the information I want to gain.

That I love your library.  In it, I discovered Ludlum, that there is more than one Oz book, and a plethora of other great books.  Because of our mutual love, one of my kids’ favorite place is a bookstore and they love the smell of a library.

That I’m glad that you passed on to M what he calls the “Smith family curse”.  The one that makes you repair everything yourself.  I can’t imagine being married to a man who couldn’t fix things.

That I’ve loved our talks by the pool- watching the kids swim.  You always added a fresh perspective on my struggles in raising children.

That I thank you for serving our country.  I don’t come from a military family so that was all foreign to me, but how amazing to share such tradition.

That even though some of the jokes you tell make us groan, they are you.  And when M tells one that makes us groan, we say that sounds like a joke your dad would tell.  And when our kids tell one, they are like M and so on and on it goes.  What a privilege to witness not just a physical passing down, but also personality.

That I love you for accepting me wholeheartedly into your family. You have given me such a blessing just by knowing you, but also in raising a man that is a man who takes his vows seriously because that was modeled by you.

I have done my part in evolution.

I have evolved from the 21 year old that you first met, but a lot has stayed the same and one of those things is that I have a tremendous amount of respect for you even when our views differ.

I will help out with the survival of the fittest though because I think M and I have produced some pretty amazing kids.

Keep Strong and I love you.

There isn’t anything earth-shattering in those words.  We did communicate regularly over the years and he knew that I loved and respected him.   I share them because they are still things that I wish I had said.

Don’t wait until it is too late to say those things you want to say to people you care about.  Don’t hold on to grudges that you might later regret.  Tomorrow is never promised.  I leave you with my father-in-law’s words, written 18 years before he would leave this earth.


Let your light shine!


Time Travel Tuesday – Over the Rainbow



Last week we had a spectacular double rainbow.  It was so spectacular that my husband called me from his commute to tell me to grab my camera and shortly after that a friend texted me to grab my camera because the rainbow was just that awesome!

Unfortunately, my first sighting of it came before these calls and texts and it was as I was walking to the jeep to take my daughter to school. Because that’s how mornings roll, it was already the last possible moment to leave. Normally she takes the bus, but her bus pulls into her school 3 minutes before the bell. With soccer training she has extra bags and those bags must find a home before the bell…and that’s where I enter. Usually looking unkempt, but not in my pajamas in case the need ever arises for me to have to exit my car, I drive her to school earlier. I took two quick snapshots with my phone from the driveway and the rest of the views I just admired on the drive. Before we even finished the 10 minute drive to school, it was gone.

A fleeting memory.

And I am taken back to some childhood memories involving rainbows. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I did not have the conventional “child of the 80’s” childhood. For a while we lived in a converted school bus (yes, a tiny house) on our property in rural South Florida. Our power source was a battery and later a generator.  In fact, we would live on that land for 5 or 6 years without traditional power. This meant that things like the TV needed to run on 12 volt.

We had a 12″ black and white TV. I can remember there was a knob on the bottom that you turned to turn it on and control the volume. There was an upper and lower knob that  would click as you turned through the stations. We had four channels. ABC & NBC (channels 20 & 26 on the upper knob) PBS (channel 30 on the upper knob) and CBS (channel 11 on the lower knob). Sometimes the stations required a very precise lining up of the rabbit ears to get the station to stay tuned.

Every year, one of the stations played The Wizard of Oz.  I loved that movie! When traditional power came along in the mid-to-late 80’s, my uncle bought my parents a color TV for Christmas.  I had only watched The Wizard of Oz at home. That year, as we sat and watched it, my eyes were just as enraptured as Dorothy’s as she walked out of her home into Oz. I had no idea all those years that when Dorothy crossed over the rainbow, her world became a technicolor dream.



Going “over the rainbow” was also one of my favorite childhood imaginary feats. Our driveway had a dip where it crossed a ditch.  If I closed my eyes while I walked down the driveway, it felt as though I were going uphill and then back down. In my mind’s eye this became a rainbow.  My heart would beat a little faster as I climbed that rainbow, towering above the clouds, and then I would slowly come down the other side. Sometimes my brother, or my dad’s sister would join me. When my cousins came to visit they would travel over the rainbow as well.

The question became “What was on the other side of the rainbow?”  The answer: different lands.  Whatever you could think of, we could visit there. Time has faded most of the memories of where we traveled, but sometimes a pegasus would save our weary bones from traveling down the rainbow.  He would meet us at the top and carry us off to the land that we had requested. The wind blowing in our faces as his wings flapped up and down and propelled us forward. When we traveled across the rainbow, it was imperative that we all hold hands, that way we could make sure that everyone made it back safely.  Eyes had to remain closed on this journey or the vision might be lost and there was the possibility you would be trapped.

I knew this land we ran across.  My feet had covered most of its surface for almost a decade. I have distinct memories of two lands we visited. Dinosaur land and Candy land. We wandered around the front fields of calf-high, dry summer grass, walking amongst the legs of giant dinosaurs. We dashed and darted behind bushes planted in a row along my uncle’s property, hiding from the guards in Candy land, who most definitely did not like humans and did not want us there. Our feet would always find their way back to the gravel on the driveway to begin the journey back to the rainbow. Sometimes we would saunter back to the rainbow. Other times we were on a mad dash for escape.

The air would change at that rainbow. It was lighter and full of magic. I remember the day when it became harder to see the rainbow. How I was disappointed that my mind couldn’t see beyond the dip in the driveway. And one day the rainbow was gone.

A fleeting memory.


Let your light shine!


Time Travel Tuesday – Is that snow?



If you read yesterday’s Blogiversary post, then you know that we got our first snow here in Southwest Virginia!

It was beautiful.

Now I’m ready for it to leave.

When you are born and raised in South Florida, where 70 degrees constitutes wearing a hoodie, it takes a while to get accustomed to the kind of cold that makes your face and fingers numb.

Last year I was smart enough to get a longer down coat.  One that reaches mid-thigh.  After traipsing through snow last year in wool socks and rain boots, this year the hubby insisted I get proper snow boots.  Hooray!

Sometimes an ad on Facebook or Instagram just so happens to be perfectly timed.  Such was the case with my newest beanie.  New accessories for the winter are always fun.  What struck me about this ad was that Love Your Melon gives 50% of their profit to their non-profit partners who are involved in the battle against pediatric cancer.  The original goal was to put a hat on every child battling cancer in America.  To date, they’ve donated over $2.5 million dollars and donated over 90,000 beanies.  That second number is just staggering to me.  That cancer could be such the rampant beast that it seems to be.

Reading their mission and story, I decided that was a company whose accessories I would be willing to purchase.  Another plus for me was that it is made in the U.S.A.  And while I don’t pretend that the majority of my purchases are, it is something that I can appreciate. The beanie was much thicker than any I’ve owned, perfect for negative digit windchill.

I know a lot of people want to know if you are compensated in some way when you mention a product in a blog.  As mentioned, it was a well timed advertisement.  I spent my money, placed it on my head, and am giving my personal opinion with no acknowledgement or compensation from the company.

Since this is a Time Travel Tuesday post…. we should do some time traveling.

This time back to February of 1999.  That would be 21 year old me vacationing in the Blue Ridge area of Georgia.  We took a long weekend near Valentine’s and stayed in a beautiful log cabin (aptly named ShangriLog) situated right along the rushing Toccoa River.

At this point in life, I still had rarely left Florida.  Most out of state trips that I had ever taken were during the summer.Georgia mountains in February were much colder!  The cabin had a giant wood burning fireplace which we kept going during our time there.  The bed had flannel sheets and a thick down comforter.  I thought these were to lend to the ambiance of a classic Dovetail log cabin home, whose walls had no sheetrock. I have since learned that such things are actually for warmth on frigid nights to avoid placing the heat at “parch your skin” temperatures.

If you’ve read the post about how I lived in a school bus until my brother was born, then you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I did briefly live outside of Florida as a child. My parents were young adventurers with a baby in tow.  When I was an infant we lived in Alabama for about 3 months, and then again for almost 6 months when I was 2.  It was during that second time that it snowed.  My mom said that I hated it.  I would slide and fall because I wasn’t heavy enough to compact the snow.

That was the last time I saw snow.  And I couldn’t even remember it!  So here I am in Georgia, 18-19 years later, and in my mind I’ve never seen snow!  I was sitting in the window seat of the bedroom, staring out the window, waiting to head into town.  The sky was gray and blustery.  And then there were these little things falling from the sky.  It looked like ice when it would land on the roof and melt.  I thought it might be snow, but I didn’t want to be disappointed if it were some other form of precipitation.

“Look, it’s raining ice”, I said.  My love looked out the window and told me that it was snow.  I was like a giddy child.  He was amused by my naiveté.  Better to seem foolish than to be disappointed was my opinion.

We ended up having a wonderful winter wonderland excursion.  My Valentine’s gift was located at the end of a series of clues on a scavenger hunt.  Most were rhymes that really made you think, but this handwritten clue is one of my favorites.

The next clue was located on a mirror in that room.

Aww… it still makes my heart melt.


I can’t even remember what the gift was at the end the series of clues.  I’m pretty good at remembering why gifts were given : the anklet for my 21st birthday, the birthstone earrings for our 1 year wedding anniversary, the mother’s pendant with mine and my children’s birthstones for the mother’s day after we finished having children, and pearls for our anniversary the year that I decided I wanted to channel Audrey Hepburn.

But even though I can’t remember the gift, I have vivid memories of that trip etched into my mind.  Walking through the streets of downtown, the snow swirling around us.  Standing by the rushing river posing for pictures while the wind whipped at my face.  Creating poetry out of the word magnets on the fridge.  Solving the clues written on yellow paper. Smiles and laughter.

Eighteen years later, when the snow falls, we’ll still call out to each other “Hey, look, it’s raining ice”.


Let your light shine!


Time Travel Tuesday – Blogging Reflection


As the end of the year approaches, I’ve done some reflecting in the little snippets of down time here and there.

I’m also a few weeks out from my one year blogiversary.

So my travel back in time this week isn’t into the distant past, it’s to the beginning of 2016.


You can find my very first post HERE


A year for transition.

A year to press outside comfort zones, a year to grow, and to a year to figure out who I was outside of motherhood.

I pressed, I grew, but I do not know if I’ve still figured out enough to give a solid answer to the third part of the above statement.


One of my goals for the coming year was to get a passport and use said passport.  The process has been started and I will be stepping out of comfort zones next year by embarking on new adventures.

I’m hoping to have more posts up this week and catch up on reading everyone else’s.  But should life get in the way, as it often does (especially with the kids on break!), I hope all of my readers have a Wonderful, Safe, and Happy New Year!!


Let your light shine!