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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

.Happiness

Feelings change, people change, and time keeps rolling.  You can hold on to past mistakes or you can create your own happiness.  A smile is a choice, not a miracle.  True happiness comes from within.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting on someone or something to come along and make you happy.

Happiness is a choice.  It is a state of mind!

I am making the choice to be happy today

This makes me happy!



Monday, September 26, 2011

Well hello Fall!

Friday was the 1st day of fall.

I do not know about you but when I think of fall I think of: an inviting fire in the fireplace


And a bowl of delicious tomato basil soup:


Then I think about how much longer it will be until i will be wearing:


And:



and of course - my favorite:

And then I walk outside and realize that I can wear:




So - the question is...will it ever cool off here in Texas?


Thursday, September 22, 2011

My love for Green Olives

I have loved green olives as long as I can remember.




(source unknown)

 
When I was in college I was introduced to cheese olives ( a green olive rolled in a spicy cheese dough and baked) and green olive pizza.  OOOOH…what can I say – I was in love!

(source unknown)





Now – that I have more sophisticated taste buds (cough…cough) I have learned to enjoy green olives in many different ways.

I do not like the taste of a martini but if someone had one I would not hesitate to ask them if they wanted their olives.  Of course – I have never ever done this before…*nope…not me*  I am much too sophisticated to beg for someone’s leftover olives.  AND…if someone tries to convince you otherwise…just look at this innocent face and I ask you…who do you believe? 


(source unknown)
 
Let’s take for example – green olive bread.  A few years ago I was in Boca Raton, FL on a business trip and while at dinner we were served green olive bread.  What can I say but “WOWSA*  Not only did I have the beach right outside but I had green olive bread.  I could not even tell you what I had for dinner that night but I can still remember the green olive bread.  As a result I have been searching for an easy recipe for green olive bread and “voila”  I think that I have found it!  Look at the picture – doesn’t it just make your mouth water? .

(source unknown)

If you decide you would rather not go to all the effort to make your own green olive bread you can always visit Hilton - Fort Walton Beach and Resort in Fort Walton, FL and have them serve you their yummy green olive bread.

Last year while in San Diego, CA for yet another business trip…I had the pleasure of having dinner at a quaint little restaurant close to the hotel.    My traveling business partner (giving a shout-out to Rosemary – my traveling business cohort!) suggested this restaurant.  Well – as soon as I saw that they had fried green olives as an appetizer – I knew what I was going to order.  Folks – I am from the South…everything in the South if fried!  When the glorious fried green olives arrived at the table I wanted them ALL to myself but being a southerner – and my southern upbringing kicked in.  I knew I had to share!  I have located a recipe that I must try.  Take a look at this picture.  Doesn’t that just make your mouth water?  I am going to make them this weekend and will let you know how great they taste!

(source unknown)

Okay – I am getting hungry now…off to the kitchen for some…OLIVES!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Look what I bought!

I bought this:

So I can take pictures like this:



Actually the picture of this  beautiful stain glass which can be found at First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was taken by my mobile phone.  Not bad eh?

So - I am now beginning my new journey of learning how to use my new Canon EOS Rebel camera.  Stay tuned for new pictuires of which I am sure some will be good and some less than good!




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life's Journey - Key West, Florida

Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit Key West, Florida.  I have always been intrigued by the Florida Keys and let’s face it – the hint of the tropical breezes, the blue waters and the laid back lifestyle is very appealing.  Key West is the southernmost part of the U.S.  Matter of fact it is closer to Cuba than to Miami.

The 156 mile trip from Miami is primarily over water and the scenery on the drive is breathtaking…



The first thing that I noticed about Key West is the attitude…it is like entering into a different country….matter of fact – they call themselves the Republic of Conch.

I was just like a kid in a candy shoppe…so many things to see…the various restaurants, bars and specialty stores.

I quickly realized that the place to be was on Duval Street – this is a happening street and it has the traffic to prove it!  People from afar travel to Key West to experience the beauty of this key.

During my travel to Key West I found myself on a mission (or two).  I wanted to find authentic Caribbean Jerk Sauce as well as the best Key Lime pie on the face of the earth.  Key West did not disappoint.

Off of the main street I found a cute little specialty store called Peppers of Key West.  If you are into sauce – this is the place to be!  Every type of sauce you could ever want is to be found here.  I not only found my Caribbean Jerk sauce but many other types of sauces as well.  The folks at Peppers are some of the friendliest and most well informed folks I have met.  Want to try a sauce?  No problem – they will open up a bottle for you and tell you everything about the sauce!

Peppers of Key West


Next to my next stop…KEY LIME PIE!!!  Be still my heart.  I am here to tell you that I found without a doubt the BEST Key Lime Pie I have ever tasted upon my lips…Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe.  Not only do they sell the authentic key lime juice but they also sell pies AND slices of their pie.  I ordered my pie and walked outside to their small garden equipped with a koi pond.  It was not only a tasty treat but it was also a serene place to enjoy the tasty treat!

I have ordered their Key Lime juice on several occasions and had it shipped to my home.  This juice freezes well and will last a long time in your freezer.  I would also recommend using their own recipe for the Key Lime pie that they serve in their bakery  *YUMMY*  Just trust me on this...buy the juice, bake the pie and enjoy it!




There are so many restaurants in Key West but I have to admit after eating the pie I was stuffed.  Along the way I found someplace that I just could not resist!  Hog’s Breath Saloon.  Now how could anyone pass up a place with a name like this?  I just had to go in and boy am I glad that I did.  I ordered some delicious bar/saloon food and had a wonderful Key West tropical drink.  Perfect quantity of food and libation.

Hog's Breath Saloon

The one thing that surprised me was the number of chickens I saw…they were EVERYWHERE!  Walking down the busy street…wandering in yards…

One other place that I would love to visit but will have to wait until the next trip is Ernest Hemingway's home in Key West.  There is so much of his life story revolces around his time spent in Key West.


I did not get to observe the famous Key West sunsets but on my next trip you can bet that you will find me about two hours before sunset at Mallory Square to celebrate the best sunset to be found!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life's Journey - Vancouver, British Columbia

As I have noted before – I have a bucket list.  One of the items on my list was to visit Whistler.

Why Whistler?  I have always felt an incredible bond with mountains…preferably tall, glorious, covered with snow type of mountains.  Several years ago I traveled to Calgary-Banff-Lake Louise and was just overwhelmed with the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.  While spreading the “news” about the Alberta area and how EVERYONE should go there once in their life – I was told that I needed to visit Vancouver in British Columbia.

As some of you know – I feast on the Travel Channel every chance I get.  I was able to watch several programs on the Vancouver area and fell in love with this part of the country site unseen!  I knew within my heart and soul that I was meant to travel there.

This past March I had an opportunity to travel to Vancouver on business.  Folks – I was just a mere hour away from Whistler…my  #1 bucket  list entry!  I had to find a way and find a way I did.  We were able to finish up our business a day early and had a free day to travel north to Whistler (big thanks to my manager Phyllis who made this happen).

I am not sure what I expected – I mean – I knew it would be beautiful but I  felt moved to tears with the scenery, with the lakes, the beckoning mountains.  I felt like I had come home…this was a place that I knew that I could find my creative soul…I could write, I could sit and I wanted to sit and play the piano for hours, I could just sit and absorb the glorious mountains and lakes on either side of the road that I was traveling on.



When I reached Whistler – I was NOT disappointed although it was very commercialized – thank you Winter Olympics!  The snow was falling at a rapid pace – and I will admit – I was a kid playing in the snow…I stuck my tongue out and caught snowflakes on my tongue!  I heard the crunch of the snow beneath my feet and the fragrances of the winter enveloped me totally. 







I felt renewed with this trip and while I can mark it off my bucket list I know that I will some day return…for Vancouver will romance us all with it incredible beauty and serenity.

I call this the Icicle house.  Can you see those HUGE icicles hanging form the house?

May your journey be serene and transforming.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life's Journey - A Journey to the Heart

Several years ago I read a book by Melody Beattie entitled “Journey to the Heart”.  This book is still offered on Amazon.Com and I highly recommend it.

In the book it takes us on her personal journey as she travels to find peace and tranquility in her life.

One of the stops along the way was at El Santuario de Chimayo a mission located just 30 miles north of Santa Fe.  This mission is said to hold sacred healing powers and each year 30,000 people from all over the world make pilgrimages to this site especially on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.



After reading Melody’s writings about this legendary shrine and realizing that it was no doubt the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the U.S.  I felt that my own personal  journey was needed.  I am not a Catholic  but the tug of the historical healing powers touched me like nothing I have ever felt before.

Legend states that a friar was watching his sheep and contemplating his blessings even though he was very ill.  A vision of the Patron Saint – San Esquipula beckoned to him and the friar knelt on the spot to pray.  The friar was healed immediately and as a way of showing his gratitude and thanks he built the chapel so others could be healed too.  It is said that the dirt on this spot is blessed by God and holds great healing powers.  Many have traveled to this spot to for a hope to be healed of what ails them.




After driving through Santa Fe on this journey I finally discovered the turn to Chimayo (if you are planning a trip here please note that it is miles off the main road).   I reached the end of the road where the adobe mission stood with a bell tower on either side of the church. I felt like I was walking back in time.  I proceeded to walk through the walled courtyard and into the old mission.  I was in awe of the glorious elegant doors which I soon discovered were carved by the 19th-century carpenter Pedro Dominguez. Upon enteringthe mission I immediately felt the comfort and the spiritual beckoning of this simple chapel. 

After entering the main room, I walked to the small room in the back (called el pocito)  where in a round pit (well) the “holy” dirt can be found.  There were several people there kneeling and actually placing some of the dirt in their own containers to keep for future blessings.  The one thing that I noticed when I looked around this room was the number and sizes of crutches that were left behind on the walls.  It was apparent that many entered this quiet, simple room with the hopes and belief that they would be healed.  When they left – they no longer required their crutches and left them behind.


I hope to someday return to El Santuario de Chimayo.




Monday, September 12, 2011

A Journey in Life - Sedona

Each journey that we take in life helps to mold us into the person that we are today.

Some of our journeys have more of a profound outcome than others.

I had one such journey several years ago.

I had a friend who lived in Sedona, Arizona and each time that she spoke of her hometown it left me with a thirst to learn more about this incredible place.

It is known as a spiritual destination that is the home to many artists and  many seekers of truth.

It is rumored that the red rocks of the mountains hold tremendous healing powers so much so that people travel from around the world to find peace and comfort in this beautiful place. 



My friend recommended a retreat for my stay and let me tell you – she nailed it…it was exactly what I was looking for.  It was a recently opened retreat in Oak Creek.  When I say creek – I mean creek!  I had to drive across a dry river bed to get to my destination.  As I was driving in this remote area I just knew that I had taken a wrong turn and was lost for sure.  When I reached  the end of the dirt road – I found the retreat – a house all alone – surrounded by the majestic mountains.  I found myself all alone there when I arrived because all the other guests were out and about exploring.  I went to my room and promptly plopped down on my bed.  The room was so serene and quiet that I fell asleep for 2 HOURS!  I could not believe that I slept and slept hard in the middle of the afternoon.  This is a true testament to how at peace I felt.



Once awake and fully rested I decided to wonder out and explore the town.  I found local bookstores and quaint shoppes where I feasted my eyes upon the various local art and the sounds?  Oh my – the Native Indian flutes were playing in the distance – a calming invitation to enjoy all that Sedona had to offer.

That evening the retreat was conducting a Native American tradition – a sweat lodge.   I once read a story by the author of “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul” and her experiences while attending a sweat lodge fascinated me.  Maybe it is the lure of the Cherokee Indian blood that courses through my body but something about this ancient tradition spoke to me.  I would like to say that I completed the entire event but alas – I could not.  The distant sound of a lone coyote provided a lullaby that night.

If you aver have a chance to travel to Sedona – I encourage you to do so.  You will not regret it.  Stay away from the commercialization of the hotels and find yourself a small bed and breakfast or like me a retreat.
                                     
Hike the red rocks of Sedona and do not miss the evening sky.  The stars are so much brighter and shooting stars abound.

God left his blessing upon this spiritual ground.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

Let's us not forget those innocent ones that gave their lives on 9/11...and for those who sacrificed theirs to save others...








God bless the U.S.A.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Introducing Dallas aka "Hyper-Pooch"

In February, 2010 Dallas "aka Hyper-Pooch also known as "Diva" came into our lives.  First let me state that my son Chris adopted her at a local pet shoppe in Alabama.  He was the one that she spoke to among all those other puppies up for adoption that day.  Now I know why - she is just like him!

Little did we know that a puppy would tug at our hearts so much.   Shortly after she came to be a part of the family she was diagnosed as having parvo.  As you probably know - parvo is a dog's worse enemy. We did not know if she was going to survive this or not but Dallas was indeed a fighter and she fought back like a trooper.  After that experience Chris quickly realized that he could not devote the time that she needed/required while going to college fulltime and playing collegiate basketball.

Here comes "MOM" to the rescue.  It was a huge sacrifice on my part *insert snicker here" to drive to Alabama and bring her back to Texas.

Dallas has proven to rule the house here now.  Everything must revolve around her...her daily walks, her daily feedings and even her toys!  Have I mentioned that she is one hyper dog?  Guess that is the Jack Russell Terrier in her!

She has brought much laughter, entertainment and companionship into this home.

All I can say is...Dallas you may be a diva...but you are one loved diva!

Isn't she just adorable?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Amazon Kindle or a B&N Nook?

I LOVE to read...I mean - I really LOVE to read

I could open a Used Book store with all the books that I have purchased over the years.

Most women love to shop for shoes...but oh not me...point me in the direction of the nearest Barnes and Noble and I feel like I have hit the mother load!

There is something about walking into those huge bookstores and drooling over all of those books.  Every which way I look - BOOKS...BOOKS...BOOKS.

I walk up and down the aisles looking for that book that catches my attention - you know the one that you just can not put down.  There is something so special about finding that delicious book that you can not wait to take home and curl up with.  You form a bond with that newly purchased book...and the words come to life as you delve into the written word of the story...that story that you can not wait to see unfold with each page that you turn.

Well - not too long ago I decided to purchase an E-reader.  Being the typical "seasoned" shopper that I am - well let's say - I had to do lots of research.

I weighed the pros and cons of both the Kindle and the color Nook.  While the Nook had some good features (including an 8 hour battery life as well as a touch screen) the Kindle won out.  Why you ask?  Well..first of all the price.  It was much more economical than the Nook.  The Kindle did not have the "glare" problem that the Nook has. I also loved the idea that Amazon has every type of book that I could ever think of available in Kindle.  I found that the Nook was not as robust in their book offerings as the Kindle.  Also - Kindle has TONS of free books that you can download.

I am a believer now.  I take my Kindle everywhere I go.  It fits nicely in my purse but the real bonus?  My AT&T mobile phone comes with Kindle.  I can read anywhere I go now.

I am not being paid for this heady endorsement but Amazon - if you are reading...I will be more than happy to talk to you about using my blog for advertising your product  *laughing*


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goals and Bucket Lists

I have always been a believer in goals.  Not only do I believe in setting goals - I also believe in writing them down.

First of all - a goal is nothing more than a roadmap - a roadmap of your life.  Now before you "pooh" at my simplistic explanation - let me ask you something.  If you were plannig a roadtrip - would you leave your house without directions?  Would you engage upon a 10 hour journey without knowing the exact route to get to your destination?  Well - in my mind a goal is simply a roadmap to a destination in my life.

Now to address the writing down of my goals.  Once I commit to paper (or a blog) I am committed to achieving my goal.  Afterall - not only am I accountable to work toward that goal but YOU are going to keep me honest too...correct faithful readers?

So - what is the difference between a goal and a bucket list?   Well - not much in my mind.  I consider a goal something that I want to achieve in my life and a bucket list is something that I want to do in my life.

Right now my bucket list is short and sweet...maybe even a tad bit difficult:

1)  Travel to see the Northern Lights
2)  Travel to Scotland and Ireland
3)  Learn how to use my new Canon Rebel SLR Camera that I just bought.  I want to be able to capture all the inspirational sites along my journey.
4)  Write - truly write an inspirational and effective blog.  One that people can not wait to read each and every day (which or course means that I HAVE to write everyday too).  I want to be a great blogger but I have to first find my niche in the blogging world.  Should I write an inspirational blog?  Should I write about my day to day life?  Nah - not that interesting - really - believe me!  AHHH - decisions...decisions...decisions...

Well - all I can say is that I will figure this one out - do not fear dear readers. 

BY THE WAY - this frustrated writer is open to all thoughts/opinions and even constructive criticism.

In ending - I bet you want to know how many items I can check off my bucket list so far this year...well only two.  With that in mind - these were two really BIG ones!

I finally made it to Whistler in British Columbia and also to Europe.  Check and check....

How about you?  What is on your bucket list?  How many can you check off this year?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Musings- Can you make money from blogging?

I was going to blog today about a totally different topic however I have changed my mind and will save the blog on my personal journey for another day.

With our economy up and down like a rollercoaster I know that people feel like they are on a merry-go-round.  I know that I do.

I think that it is important for everyone who depends on their income to have a plan b...a plan c...and actually as many as they need in order to replace their paycheck if necessary.

I am just amazed that so many people in the blog world actually make a sizeable income from their blogs.  I have decided to bite the bullet and see if I can also discover how people do it.  I read this weekend about someone who makes 5K a month from their blog...PEOPLE...that is $5000 a month from blogging on a particular subject or even several subjects.

Starting today - I am going to focused on how people can if not replace their income in case of a job loss at least subsized their income if they are under-employed.

Stay tuned as I explore how you too can make money from your blog!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

Life is an adventure

It is not the destination that we reach that is most rewarding...

It's the journey along the way.

Where has your journey taken you?

In the upcoming days - I will be sharing some of my journey...some of my memories...all of which have made me the person that I am today.

Until then - goodnight all and may all your dreams be fulfilled...



Friday, September 2, 2011

Are you a morning person or a night person?

I have always considered myself a night person because let's face it - I love to sleep in!

As of late however - I have been awakening earlier and earlier and the one thing that I have learned to appreciate is the beauty of the early morning.  There is just something so very special about the glorious colors - the reds, oranges, purples and palest blues of the morning sky.  It is simply a reminder that with each new morning there is an opportunity for us to have a chance to have a better day than te one before.

Do you ever see a breathtaking moment in the early morning hours or even in the evening hours when the sun is setting?

Do you ever just stop and admire the beauty of the earth?

I find myself reaching for my cell phone so I can snap a picture when I see that burst of morning color. 

This picture was taken early one morning as I was traveling.  Can you believe that this was taken by a cell phone?




So - the question is - are you a morning person or a night person?  What is it about the beauty of your surroundings that inspires you and makes you stop and be thankful?










Thursday, September 1, 2011


Can you believe it?  It is September already!


I am soooo glad that August is over...it was hot...hot...hot!  I have to think that the extreme heat was the cause of so many crazy actions of people around here.

AND - it was almost too hot to do anything outside.

I love the hint of fall in the air - the temperatures will be changing soon (I hope!) and before you know it we will be surrounded with the fragrance of logs burning in the fireplaces and a nip of coolness when walking outside first thing in the morning.

Now - while I live in an area where we really do not see fall colors - I can imagine what it is like...Once you experience the glorious yellows and reds of fall foliage - it will always be a memory to file away and bring out on those cool morning.

Good-bye summer and hello fall!