Re-learning how to eat.

Weekly SaladFor quite a while, I’ve had an itchy, scaly patch in my ear, which got worse after I had a course of antibiotics for a bad tooth. I suspect I have a systemic candida infestation, so on March 1st, 2016, I started a candida cleanse and diet, hoping to heal the cause of my ear trouble rather than just treating the symptoms.

The first day was broth only. Days two through six – only vegetables. On day seven, I’ll start the diet, which is consuming absolutely NO sugar, grains, yeast, or alcohol. I’m going to do it for at least the month of March, and longer if I feel I’m not healed of the infection.

Read more…Re-learning how to eat.


Recently, we’ve been exploring the Upper Pithlachascotee River Preserve. It’s a small park with walking trails and a boardwalk through a cypress swamp. I’m fascinated with the cypress knees – you can see them poking up in the right of the picture – they look like skinny, short stumps.


This is the first time I’ve really gotten close to cypress trees. And, the park has the 8th largest bald cypress tree in Florida. Neat!

Here’s a closer view of some other cypress knees.

cypress knees

Scientists aren’t sure why the cypress trees have these… perhaps for stability.

Back at it again!

Wow, it’s been over a year since I wrote an actual blog post. And, I fell off the gratitude journal again. But then, yesterday, I read an article that said it’s a good thing to do a little review of what you’re grateful for at the end of the day, so I thought I should pick that back up. It really does help me keep a better mindset when I do it.

In other news, I’m trying again to grow tomatoes! Kelly brought back some San Marzano seeds from Italy, and when we visited, I filched some seeds. They all sprouted and here are six plants, ready to go into the ground. Have to get some dirt and stuff this week. I just hope it doesn’t get too cold before they’re ready… should be early to mid-December. Crossing fingers!!

Tomato plants


It’s been a while since I blogged, though I have been keeping up with the gratitude journal! That’s why I moved it up to the top right, so it’s easier to see and shows more.

We’re currently in the throes of helping to plan the Playing It Forward Music Festival. It’s fun and a lot of work, too. Hopefully it will be a successful event!

And here’s a random picture of a reflection in a canal, taken while we were at the Bayport Inn, having a delicious prime rib dinner.



Happy New Year!

A lot happened in 2013. We got married! We went on a cruise for our honeymoon. We did several mud runs. We held a ballroom dance event. I’m sure there’s more but I never did get around to posting about things. Several people have asked about my blog so I’m going to start posting here again, starting with writing an entry in my gratitude journal every day. Thank you for reading!


Warrior Dash complete!

We traveled down to Lake Wales (a two hour drive) to participate in a 5k mud/obstacle run. It was a lot of fun!

Entering Warrior Dash

The obstacles were good and the camaraderie was awesome. We waited at the start line for nearly 30 minutes so we could be in front, and on one of the obstacles we had to wait almost half an hour to go on it, so we talked to quite a few people and watched everyone go over the obstacle in front of us. Some of the people were quite amusing. They encourage crazy costumes at Warrior Dash; we found Nemo and Waldo, too! We also saw men in suits, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, men dressed as fairies, beauty queens, and princesses, and all sorts of people in tutus.

While waiting, we talked to one guy in a kilt… I was wondering if he followed the tradition of men in kilts being bare under there but he said he kept it family friendly. This same guy had already run a 5k earlier in the day and had a soccer game to coach in the evening. Whew! The lady behind us was 55 and we were quite impressed with her physical abilities.

Here we are, nice an clean before the race:

Before the mud run

And after:

Warrior Dash 2013

They took pictures at various points of the run so hopefully we can get some good ones and post them.

For obstacles, there were several mud pits and a couple of places to wade through knee deep water. After the first mud pit, my mud-caked shoes felt like bricks on my feet but I was able to stomp it off as we went. I was amazed at the number of shoes left laying around after each mud pit! People also seemed to shed clothes on a regular basis. Running through the deep sand was very difficult so we’re going to try and find places to train around here where we can run in loose sand.

My favorite obstacles were climbing ones. One was a big plywood A-frame with knotted ropes, up and over! The other one was near the end… 3 A-frames that started and ended by climbing a net, with rock climbing-type walls in the middle. My little legs had trouble on parts of that but Trav helped me! He’s a great teammate and partner. I want to challenge myself physically and get over the obstacles on my own, but his help is appreciated very much when I need it.

One of the other obstacles I enjoyed very much was an up and down balance beam where we were getting blasted with freezing cold water. So refreshing! And one was a little nerve-wracking because as we were going over one where you climbed over a frame using chains, there was a guy underneath with a nail gun, putting the obstacle back together!! Whoops.

We were pretty dirty at the end.


Sticky, sticky mud! It just kept coming and coming when I tried to rinse off. On the way home, we went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s and I still had dirt on my ears, neck, and arms. Luckily, the rest was hidden by clothing.

Also at Ruby Tuesday’s we saw the people that were behind us in the obstacle line. They came over to thank Trav for being such a standup guy, because while were were in line, a kid cut in front of the ladies behind us. Trav noticed and told the kid that he was very rude for cutting in, and the kid just shrugged and continued to stand there!! Ugh. But the ladies were grateful he said something, and they did manage to get in front of him, but he still jostled and cut in front of people while actually ON the obstacle. It was nice that they came over afterwards to say thanks, for that, and for helping the 55 year old over the obstacle, too.

Oh, and the last obstacle was jumping over fire!! I’m hoping the pics for that came out good. Trav and I jumped over them hand-in-hand, and also crossed the finish line that way. Awesome!

Our next run is Mud Endeavor in Brooksville… can’t wait!

Good Grammar!

English was always one of my favorite classes in school. I love reading, vocabulary, grammar… all that stuff. One of my newsletters had a good infographic about 15 common grammar mistakes. I see these every day and it annoys the heck out of me. I suppose I’ll post this on Facebook, too. Maybe it will help people! Click below for the full infographic.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly

I would add one more thing to the list – the difference between to and too:

  • Too means ‘as well’ (e.g. He’s going to the movies, too.)  or conveys the idea of ‘in excess’ (e.g. Too many cooks spoil the pot).
  • To is a preposition (e.g. Give it to her.) or is used to show the infinitive form of a verb (e.g. I want to run.)
Click the link above for a little quiz on the usage. Fun!

RV Trip 2011 – New Jersey, Part 1

We arrived about five minutes before Kelly got home from work. Nice timing! For a lovely welcome, Kelly shared a special bottle of wine with us – one she brought back from Italy.

Italian Wine with Kelly

The wine was delicious and went perfectly with dinner – rack of lamb! Kelly is such a good cook – the food was yummy and we had a good time chatting.

Kelly grilling rack of lamb

Here is Kelly’s new kitchen! It’s awesome… granite counter tops, spacious cupboards and a stove to die for.

Kelly's new kitchen

The next day we went to Philadelphia. First stop – Kelly’s work. We met many of the people she works with – all very nice. I wish I had taken their pictures! Here we are near her building, with City Hall in the background.

Emily & Kelly in downtown Philadelphia

Kelly treated us to lunch at one of her favorite restaurants – Barbuzzo. Kelly & I had pizza (hers with a fried egg on it and mine with lardo) and Dad had a burger. We really enjoyed the meal and it was an interesting place to visit. The chef sent over an antipasto platter when we got there, and boy was it good! Olives and vegetables and cheese – nom nom nom.


After lunch we decided to spend the afternoon at the Camden Aquarium, just over the river in New Jersey. It’s a very nice place! They had a HUGE tank with all kinds of interesting stuff in it – various sharks, stingrays, huge turtles and big schools of fish. Our favorite in that tank were the fish riding on the wake of the stingrays.

Here we are touching the stingrays. It’s surprising how they are velvety soft.

Touching the stingrays at the Camden Aquarium

The piranhas better watch out for Kelly!! hehehe

Kelly biting the piranhas!

I loved this part of the aquarium. It was very tranquil, being surrounded by all that water.

Aquarium tunnel

There were so many awesome creatures to see. I took lots of pictures but won’t bore you with a whole bunch of them – unless you come over and ask to see! There’s video, too. I did want to include this beautiful sea dragon, though.. he’s just stunning. The picture doesn’t really do him justice.

Seahorse at the Camden Aquarium

The last “show” we got to see was the Penguin March. The penguins knew it was 4:30 and time for them to go in, eat and bed down for the night. They lined right up and marched in when the door was opened. Each penguin has its own spot inside and I think they said they enter in the same order every day… they have a hierarchy thing going. So cute!

Penguins waiting to go in for the night

I don’t remember what we did for dinner that night, but in all, it was a fun and relaxing day spent in good company.

The next day we planned on driving up to Rochester to visit with Dad’s family there, so that will be my next post! You can also read about the entire trip here.

RV Trip 2011 – Florida to New Jersey

Dad and I set out for New Jersey on Saturday morning. Our first destination was St. Augustine, Florida, to visit the Fountain of Youth. Here we are at the entrance, with Don Juan Ponce de Leon.

Dad & Emmy at the Fountain of Youth

It was a nice little place to explore, with exhibits about the native Indians and the Spanish people who landed there in 1513. We were welcome to take a drink from the Fountain of Youth. It tasted of sulfur.

Drinking from the Fountain of Youth

The park guy said we were lucky it only stank a little because some days it was just terrible. We finished our tour and after driving all afternoon ended up in Savannah, Georgia, where we camped at a little RV place just off Route 16.

Camped in Savannah, Georgia

There was a bad storm during the night and a very large tree came down near the entrance. It rained so hard some of it got under the slider covers and when Dad pulled out, it spilled down his back in the driver’s seat when he first braked! Luckily it wasn’t overly much but it was sure enough to wake Dad up fully!

We made our way down to the beach in Tybee Island and it was a very pretty drive. Some of the streets of Savannah are very narrow… we took up the entire lane.

Street in Savannah, Georgia

Tybee Island is a beautiful place and I would love to go back someday. It’s full of little artsy shops and stuff. We parked a block away from the beach and walked down to put our feet in the sand. Here’s Dad on the beach.

Dad on the beach at Tybee Island, Georgia

On the way back we saw these cats doing what cats do best… laying around and looking pretty. 🙂

Tybee Island cats

I drove from the beach on the very narrow roads (only hit one curb, whew!) and then we went all day. For Dad’s Father’s Day dinner we found a steakhouse in Smithfield, Virginia, where I treated Dad to two of his favorite foods – steak and ribs! The food was very yummy.

Father's Day Dinner 2011

It was almost dark by the time we left the restaurant and got to the RV park in Selma.

Camping in Selma, Virginia

We camped by a lake and in the morning, some ducks came by to see if we had anything for them.

Virginia Ducks

We had another pleasant day of driving, conversation and listening to music. We went under the Baltimore Harbor. I’m always amazed by these feats of engineering… driving under a big body of water like that is incredible.

Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, Maryland

I’m also a big fan of bridges but some of them were a little scary in the RV… the ones that had very low sides made me pretty nervous. Seems like you could go right over the edge if something bad happened. Even just looking at the picture now gives me the willies!!

Crossing a high bridge with low sides

Here’s a spectacular bridge that goes from Delaware into New Jersey – the Delaware Memorial Bridge. There was a lot of traffic but we kept moving.

Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey

Yay! After crossing the bridge, we were very close to our destination.

Welcome to New Jersey!

The next post will be about our first couple of days with Kelly in New Jersey. Read about the entire trip here.

RV Trip 2011 – Spring Hill

I was so excited when Dad, Greg & Adrianne pulled into the driveway!

Arriving in the RV

They arrived in good spirits, ready to tour our little part of Florida. With no clear plan (hey, it’s vacation!) we set out to enjoy the next three days together. The day of arrival was spent visiting and enjoying a delicious dinner expertly grilled by Trav… ribeye steak, baked potatoes and salad.

Each morning, Sadie was the guide for Crews Lake Park.

Crews Lake Park

The next day, we went to Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida. Here’s Dad enjoying the sunshine on the beach.

Dad on the beach, Honeymoon Island

Adrianne and Greg on the beach.

Adrianne & Greg at Honeymoon Island

The waves were the biggest we’ve ever seen in the Gulf! If we had known, we would have taken the body boards.

Trav at Honeymoon Island

After the beach, we went to Dunedin Brewery. The beer and food were delicious!! The vanilla bean beer was soooo good. Adrianne & Greg had the 7.9% apv honey beer. Dad had a delicious apricot peach ale. And Trav, our designated driver, had lemonade! I’m so happy we found a good place to eat down there.

Dunedin Brewery

Day six started with 18 holes of frisbee golf at Word of Life Camp in Hudson. It was a first for me, and fun! I took a picture of the map and it helped us find some of the tees. The course was pretty well maintained and we got to see a bunch of birds, including a pair of Sandhill cranes, pretty close up.

Frisbee Golf

After golf, we prepared for canoeing down the Weeki Wachee river. We arranged to rent a canoe and a tandem kayak at Weeki Wachee Kayak Rental. We usually rent from the state park right at the launch site, but they were all sold out for the day. We were very happy with the service from the rental place and would go there again. Here we are at the beginning of the trip.

Canoeing with Dad

The water in this river is crystal clear and 72 degrees. We saw lots of birds and fish, and a merganser of some sort accompanied us for a while.

Greg & Adrianne Weeki Wachee

We stopped to play on the rope swing about halfway through the trip. There were some kids using it and we just joined right in. Dad got some really good pictures. I especially like this one… everybody looks so happy over Adrianne’s big splash!

Rope swing!

As we got closer to the Gulf, we saw 7 manatees! A couple of them were pretty big and we also saw a baby with his mama. The rental guy picked us up at Davis Park and took us back to our car.

We got home with enough time to pick up Greg & Adrianne’s luggage and get them to the airport, where they left feeling satisfied and happy with their vacation… they got to do a lot of stuff and see some neat things.

On Friday, I had my RV driving lesson in the parking lot of an empty warehouse. I did pretty good but got a couple of fails on right turns going over the curb. Then I drove it around on the street a bit and did just fine. I love the view from the front windows in the RV!

That evening, we went to the Elks Club for dinner and dancing. Dad & I did a great polka plus a couple others and line dancing.

Line dancing at the Elks Club

Dad got to meet a lot of our friends and we all had a good time. The early night at the Elks allowed us plenty of time to get home and get to bed for a good night’s rest before our departure.

Next post – the trip to New Jersey!

You can browse the trip archive to see all of the entries in one place.

Anniversary Picture

On the morning of 9/11/01 I was working and Kevin called me and said, “Turn on your TV, to CNN, now!” I asked why and he said, “Just turn it on!!” Then I sat and cried for the next three days. Such a dark time… and we have lost so much because of what happened that day.

RV Trip 2011 – First Leg

This year, my Dad fulfilled a lifelong dream when he bought a 30′ RV. Way to go, Dad! I’m so happy for you. 🙂

Dad's RV

His first major trip was in June, to vacation and visit family on the east coast… first us in Florida, then to my sister Kelly in New Jersey, and his sisters in New York. The plan was for Dad, my brother Greg & niece Adrianne to come to our house, stay for a few days, and then fly home. Then Dad and I would drive up to Kelly, pick her up and continue on to New York. Then back to New Jersey and I would fly home.

When Dad arrived at my brother’s house to pick them up, Zoey jumped right in and was ready to go!!

Zoey in the RV

She had to stay home, though. Kinda hard to get a big dog like her home on the plane.

The first leg of the trip was a leisurely 4-day drive from Tucson, Arizona to Spring Hill, Florida.

Dad driving the RV

Day one brought them to Texas, where they camped overnight and then went to The Caverns of Sonora before hitting the road for the day. They said it was the most spectacular cave they had ever been in… a beautifully preserved, living cavern with so many interesting formations!


Everybody took turns driving. Here’s Adrianne behind the wheel!

Adrianne driving the RV

Next stop – New Orleans, Louisiana. They were able to park pretty close to the French Quarter and spent the afternoon touring Bourbon Street and seeing other sights, such as a giant lubber grasshopper and a sign at a park warning of no swimming due to alligators.

Bourbon Street

I love this picture Dad surreptitiously took of the t-shirts hanging outside a shop. The second one is especially good!!

New Orleans Funny T-Shirt

The end of day three found them in Pensacola, Florida.

RV Trip Pensacola

They stayed in an RV park right on the beach and after taking a little dip in the Gulf of Mexico, they set off for our house. My next post will be about the time we all spent together here.

You can browse the trip archive to see all of the entries in one place.

A show we never watch, but everyone asks if we do…

Last night, Trav & I performed a ballroom dance routine for the “Dancing with the Stars” show at the Timber Pines community, for their Newcomer’s Club. Our dance teachers Bonnie and Chris were hired to put on the show. Bonnie did a wonderful job with my makeup, hair and costume. And Trav looked so handsome and dashing… my latin lover!

Trav & Emmy - Merengue 2011 at Bonnie's

About 200 people were in attendance, and we were the first couple to go on stage. We did the merengue, with the other couples dancing Rumba Bolero, Cha-Cha and Swing. We took pictures, did pre-show interviews, and recorded the whole show, and Trav made an amazing DVD of the whole production! We can watch it when you come over. Click below to see our dance!


I was shaking like a leaf the entire time we were on stage… thank goodness Trav had himself together!! After our performance, we all went to Carrabba’s and had a delicious dinner. What a wonderful evening… everything a girl could want. 🙂

Bacon Sundae :p~

I just had to try this when we last went to Denny’s… a sundae with bacon and maple syrup on vanilla ice cream. The combination of salty and sweet is sublime! I couldn’t finish it but I did fish out all of the bacon.

Maple Bacon Sundae

Childhood Art

This is the remains of a plaque I made for my parents when I was a child. It appears to be a flower made of glass tiles, corn husk, and beans. On the back it says in pencil, “To mommy & Daddy From Emily” (click on the picture for the large version, if you like).

Flower remains

It’s so neat my mom kept stuff like this.

Bok Tower Gardens

A couple of weeks ago, we went down to Tampa to visit our friend Barb, and she took us over to Lake Wales to visit Bok Tower Gardens. What a beautiful place! Among the gardens, there is a 205 foot carillon bell tower made of pink marble and coquina. It sits on a hill called Iron Mountain, which at 295 feet is one of the highest points in peninsular Florida.

Bok Tower - Trav

I laid on the ground to get that one. 🙂 Here’s a closer view of some of the extremely detailed and gorgeous carvings:

Bok Tower Details

And here we are the entrance:

Bok Tower Emmy Trav

On our way out, we took some time to go over to Spook Hill, where you can make your car seem to roll uphill. We didn’t get it. But I looked around and found this video and now it makes a lot more sense! Pretty silly but also entertaining.



Here’s one of my favorite pictures of Mom and Dad:

My Dad and Mom

It’s been a week and a day since my mom passed away. I love her laugh, her smile, her sense of humor, and her dedication to the project at hand. My mom was always all in, whatever she happened to be doing. I remember she tried her hand at sewing, crochet, embroidery, Artex, bear collecting, teddy bear construction, genealogy, photography, baking and cooking and did very well with all of them! Plus she played the guitar and the piano, and she was kind to animals. She was a good mother and I’ll miss her very much.

Change Your Thinking

Passed on to me by Jim. Thanks, Jim!

It will take just 37 seconds to read this and change your thinking.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation…

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’


There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present.’