When I started my blog a few years ago as a hobby, I never imagined that sharing the things that I love to create, would allow me to connect with the most amazing women. The Haven Conference was created to bring bloggers together, so they could network, gain knowledge and create lasting friendships while following their passions. No kidding, I get goosebumps every time I think about how incredible the blogging community has become, and how lucky I am to be part of it. Continue reading
As the end of May quickly approaches, I’m thinking about summer vacation possibilities. Feeling landlocked in the middle of Texas, I can’t help but dream about beaches, coastal waters and big waves. Yesterday, I painted a watercolor of a sandcastle, hoping that my travels this summer might take me to a beach. I can go south, east or west. I’m not picky!
Last summer my adventures were in Scotland and the Isle of Sky with my daughter Andrea, where we explored some fantastic castle ruins. Thinking about that trip, I decided to add a wee flag of Scotland on the center tower of the sandcastle just for fun. Continue reading
I must admit, I’m not very consistent when it comes to cooking and eating vegetables. If you’re like me, then maybe all you need is a bit of inspiration. I created three easy vegetable salad combinations, that you can make too. My enthusiasm for fresh vegetables was stirred from an eclectic mix of restaurants I discovered during a weekend get-a-way. Continue reading
Now that I have temporarily quenched my thirst for all things Scottish, it’s time to reveal some of my favorites, from the Isle of Skye, to Pitlochry, to Edinburgh. Too bad I don’t have a photo of every plaid pattern I saw on my trip to Scotland, but I do have wonderful experiences and places worth sharing. Continue reading
My daughter Andrea and I can turn a trip to the farmers market into an adventure, so imagine what it’s like when we go on holiday. Usually our adventures can be classified as quests, journeys, explorations, and sometimes escapades. A typical escapade would be making a wrong turn, getting lost, then realizing we passed what we were looking for three times. Luckily, our adventures during the Isle of Skye tour were kept in check by our experienced guide Ian, from Inverness Tours. Last year he was our guide for only one day, this year it was three days. Poor man.
We had several outdoor adventures, starting with a stop at Glenfinnan on our way to Skye. Above Glenfinnan is the location of the possible site Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s standard was raised, on August 19, 1745. As we stood in front of the weathered rock that recorded the historic location, I was trying to imagine how much determination the Jacobites must have had to fight for their dreams.
My thoughts were interrupted, as I was introduced to the most vicious insects on the planet. Midges! The attack was fast and almost lethal. As the midges swarmed my head, I’m pretty sure I heard one say, “oh-aye, the lass’s hair smells bonnie”. It was just a wee bit annoying at first but by the time we turned to walk down the hill, I had visions of rolling in the grass to dislodge the beasties. I scraped up every bit of self-control I had, not to scratch like a flea-bitten mad dog.
From the hill-top, part of the Glenfinnan Viaduct is visible. If you are a Harry Potter fan you will recognize the viaduct from the movies. No sign of the Hogwarts Express though.
The imaginative tales of the Isle of Skye fairies, are not so hard to believe, especially when surrounded by magical gardens. If you don’t accept the existence of fairies, you might change your mind with these breathtaking, Isle of Skye botanical beauties. At every turn, I was captivated by fascinating flowers. I discovered fairy hats and sparklers; chandeliers and fireworks; fairy ladders and cushions. They were all in plain sight, but the fairies were asleep.
The Dunvegan Castle gardens were the most enchanting, although the nature walks at the Clan Donald Centre gardens were stunning. The lilies below were waiting to greet us in front of a wonderful shop called Bay Pottery in Armadale.
Sure, I can power lift a 45 pound bag over my head into the luggage bin. Traveling light has never been a problem, however last year when I went to Scotland, I packed as if I were going on a month-long expedition to the Himalayas. Idiot! This year I’m using simple packing tips for Scotland and solemnly swear to pack smarter.
- Start with light weight luggage. A great example of light weight luggage is this Samsonite roller which weighs in at about 6 pounds. The Vera Bradley weekender bag is also light weight and has a convenient strap to fit over a luggage handle which allows for easy maneuvering. You can hardly beat Vera Bradley for its practicality and inexpensive price tag. Think about letting your bags do the work and save your back.
- Wear comfortable clothes. On travel days I wear leggings and a tunic for marathon flights. Of course, I can be stylish without looking like I’ve been working in the garden.
- Lay out clothes before packing. By getting a visual of tops, I could switch out different looks. Everything is light weight cotton in coordinating colors, that can be layered depending on the weather. Luckily, everything goes with jeans which go just about anywhere. Jeans can be dress up or down with the right top, shoes, accessories and attitude. 😉
- Pack the right shoes for walking. Sorel short booties are great for walking, look fashionable with jeans and leggings, but best of all they are water proof. Oh yeah, I’m talking comfort and on rainy days in Scotland, that’s a big plus.
- No matter what kind of boots or athletic shoes you choose to wear for walking, invest in good quality socks. Feetures are my favorite because they fit snug on my feet, prevent blisters and keep my feet dry all day while walking or hiking.
- Don’t forget the right outerwear. The Mac is a must in Scotland. I also packed a light weight polar fleece and a denim jacket, which should be more than enough. Two pairs of jeans this time? I can do this!
- Pack a few things for convenience, such as tissues, an adapter, snacks, and hand-wipes. A journal is a great idea to record interesting places, restaurants, and special dishes or cocktails. I could throw in more items but the goal is to pack light.
- Packing a power charger is a good precaution; helps to avoid that feeling of impending doom when the cell phone is about to run out of battery. There are lots of these on the market, this one is made by Beare.
- Find the right concept for packing. The small space bags work best for me especially for items I’m not concerned about getting wrinkled and dirty clothes. As far as rolling vs. folding: I do both so I can efficiently use all the space I have in my luggage.
- Decide on the right style of handbag or backpack for your needs. No matter what I’m wearing, I feel as if I could be “trending now”, with my Kate Spade backpack. The durable nylon in black goes with everything, has comfortable straps and is light weight. The roomy interior efficiently holds my camera, umbrella, wallet and any other lifesaving necessities I might need in a single day.
Keep it simple and you will have a great trip. Off for another adventure to Scotland…
The best travel experts suggest that whenever possible to eat and drink locally. Whatever the reason for travel, it is a great reminder to seek out cuisine from the most original and unique eateries you can find. My perfect weekend began with a mimosa, red fish tacos and the promise of non-stop girl talk. Of course, how could it not be perfect when visiting my daughter who lives in Fernandina Beach?
It was almost comical how many times our itinerary changed over the weekend. We didn’t accomplish all of our objectives, but somehow managed to have a terrific time. The best stroke of luck was going to the famous Annual Shrimp Festival on Amelia Island. As with most open street celebrations, many booths featured trinkets and t-shirts. Catching my attention this time was the exceptional art work and junk dealers. As we dug though the detritus, my daughter found some glass bottles covered in barnacles, while I spied a petrified whale vertebra. Now this is my kind of shopping.
Relaxing at the Amelia Tavern was a treat for our exhausted feet. I studied the menu getting more thirsty by the second trying to decide on which local brew to try. I finally followed my daughter’s lead and ordered a pint of Buzzin Bee. The coolest aspect of their beer selection was that all their choices were from local Jacksonville breweries. The pint of Buzzin Bee was definitely the boost that I needed to finish my junk shopping. Before buzzin along to our next destination, I snapped a photo of the cool wall at the end of the bar. I would love to return for lunch or dinner and enjoy the high-spirited vibes and comfortable atmosphere.
I could have hauled in a lot more, but was limited by the size of my carry-on suitcase. So much for the ship lanterns and rusty pulleys. However, I did have room for some fishing corks.
As hard as it was to pass by my favorite ice cream spot, I was quickly distracted when I entered Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop. For once, I had no trouble deciding what to order. “The honey lavender cupcake please!” Then my brilliant daughter picked out three more cupcakes to try; Triple Chocolate, Nutella and Red Velvet.
Beautiful colors of Marzipan.
Continuing my perfect weekend was a walk on the beach. I’m still like a little kid and not satisfied until I look at every shell. The dark blue and black are still my favorite. We passed a tortoise on the beach who looked rather out-of-place. Maybe he was on his way to meet a distant sea turtle relative.
An interesting rock I found on the beach has little sea shell impressions on all sides.
I managed to snap one selfie on the beach.
Before leaving, I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of my daughter’s family room. What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t do some rearranging? One of our objectives was to find a new coffee table. Since we failed miserably, I moved her old table out and improvised with the chair ottoman. It’s more the size needed for the space, and will do until we find something better on our next hunting excursion.
The green bottles on the mantel are the ones we found at the Shrimp Fest.
The most perfect weekends always end too soon. Mine ended with a sweet hug at the airport.