Vacation!

At the end of July we went on Trav’s birthday trip for this year, to visit family and friends in Pennsylvania and New York. It was a fun and relaxing trip! We drove straight through both ways – 22 hours up and 26 hours back.

The first two days we spent at Trav’s dad’s house. On the way there, we were out in the sticks and saw a sign on route 80 that said “Highest point on Route 80, east of the Mississippi” and Trav said, “Hey look, we’re in the middle of nowhere, and I can see my Dad’s house from here!” It’s so far out, Google Maps doesn’t even know the way to his house. We drove through some quaint little towns on the way, so that was nice.

On Saturday we made a bunch of cream cheese penguins, for the family reunion we were to attend on Sunday. It went really fast with 5 people – we had quite the assembly line going. I had an idea for a transport box which may  have worked if I had been more precise, and if we hadn’t been driving for 3 hours to get to the reunion. My sandal also came flying out from the back and smacked the box right in the middle. I took dental floss and strung it in a cardboard box, making square sections for the penguins to stand in. Here’s how it looked when we got to the reunion. Oh, the carnage!

Penguin Carnage

The family reunion on Sunday was a lot of fun. We picked up our niece Alia and took her with us for the day of visiting. At the reunion, we got to see a bunch of people from Trav’s mom’s side of the family. There was lots of good food (including a few raspberries plucked off the bushes) and many friendly people. They held a mystery package auction to raise money for next year’s reunion and we played bingo for little prizes. I got some nail art bling for winning a game of bingo. Whee! I’m also pretty excited about getting some rocks with fossils out of the creek. We have no rocks in Florida and I got to bring home some really cool slabs of slate. Pictures to follow later.

AfAlia's dyed hairter the reunion, we went to visit Trav’s Frewsburg Gramma and his dad’s side of the family. That was a lot of fun, too. More food! More great people!! I snapped this pic of Alia’s newly dyed hair while we were there. I just love how this one turned out… she’s such a pretty girl. We also had birthday cakes there… Janelle made an eclair cake which was delicious and not too much trouble to make. Let’s see if I can remember… mix a batch of whipped cream with french vanilla pudding. In a cake pan, make layers of graham crackers and pudding mixture, then melt some frosting and pour it all over the top. Refrigerate and you’re all set. Mmmmm!

The next two days we spent visiting with friends in Jamestown and Frewsburg, New York. We also did some work for one of our oldest and very best customers, setting up a new laptop and cleaning up his PCs. Here we are sitting on Ralph’s $70,000 Harley:

Trav & Emmy on Ralph's Harley

Ralph took me for a little ride on his bike and I must say, it was very comfortable!

One of the places Trav likes to go when he’s home is Johnny’s Lunch. They serve Texas Hots there – hot dogs and hamburgers with a kind of chili sauce and piled with onions. Yummy! They’ve been around since 1936 and show no signs of slowing down… the place was packed the whole time we were there.

Trav & Bleys at Johnny's Lunch

We met John & Carol and Rick & Terry at Patsy’s on Monday and for supper we had Lena’s pizza. More yum! They have the best pizza.Then on Tuesday we went to The Rio in Frewsburg, to meet with up with some of Trav’s old school chums and family, too. That was a really fun night. They had good food and we laughed and laughed together. Here are the family members that showed up:

Family at The Rio

The last two days we spent at Trav’s dad’s house. For my birthday, we went to a couple of wineries and sampled & bought some really good wine. After that, Syl and I went shopping at the thrift stores in St. Mary’s, and I scored a bunch of nice jewelry and a new dress which has been dubbed my “couch dress”, because Trav thinks it looks like something a sofa would wear.  🙂  It’s a very pretty dress and I can’t wait to wear it on a Friday night when we go out dancing.

On the way home, we went on what is apparently the second most congested highway in America. During rush hour. On Friday! It took us several hours to go 35 miles on Route 95 South in Virginia, near Washington, D.C. I’ve never seen traffic like that before, and I hope I don’t again any time soon! It all worked out, though, and that brought us to Fairfax and Richmond, where we stopped to visit with a couple of Bleys’ friends. We went with Langdon to a place called Noodles & Company which had really good food at reasonable prices – college students know all of the best places! Lex took us to a little downtown diner where I got a slice of green tomato pie, which was interesting and tasty.

The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful… we slept and drove in shifts and arrived home around noon on Saturday. I just love getting home to see Sadie and the kitties. They were very happy to see us, and we were so happy to see them! Luckily, Trav’s dad has three very friendly cats so I didn’t get too homesick this time… I had somebody to pet. Plus we were pretty much on the go the whole time we were there.

In all, a great vacation.

Dance Video

Last night, one of our dance friends brought along a video camera to film birthday celebrations at the Elks. They also happened to capture us doing a merengue dance, so as soon as we can get a copy of it, I’ll post it! People really seem to enjoy watching us do that one. Must be because we have so much fun!

Dilemma

I’ve had a particular tab open in my Opera for months now… it’s very sad but I can’t seem to get it out of my mind and I don’t want to forget.

The site below has a series of pictures from a little island that’s 2000 miles away from the nearest continent, where lots of albatross chicks are dying because the parents pick up plastic floating in the ocean, believing it’s food for their babies. The pictures show the contents of the chick’s bellies.

Midway – Message from the Gyre

I’m not sure why it affects me so much … it makes me want to do something about it. Perhaps my next calling in life will be to help clean up the Great Garbage Patch. And here’s the Wikipedia entry for lots more info.

New poll & puzzle

Today we started assembling a puzzle, and as I sorted to find the edge pieces, I wondered what other people do when they find pieces still hooked together.  So here’s the poll!

[poll id=”6“]

Here’s the puzzle – I got it (still shrink-wrapped) at a yard sale for $2:

Dragon Puzzle

The colors in it are just beautiful. We got the most fun part done this afternoon – the edge. 🙂 We’re finally set up to do puzzles without them getting wrecked by the cats. The last time we were at Lowe’s, we got a piece of plexiglass which we can clamp onto the kitchen table. It works quite well so far… now we just need to find time to complete it!

Finally! A good place for Mexican food.

And we only have to go to Orlando to get it! We went over to visit Bleys and ended up discovering Agave Azul.

Agave Azul Authentic Mexican Restautant in Orlando, Florida

The food was delicious! I had a combination plate with chile relleno, chicken enchilada and picadillo taco. Trav had beef fajitas and Bleys had chicken fajitas, which they said were good. The homemade tortillas were very tasty and with the appetizer chips they served a yummy ranch-based dip.

The restaurant is beautiful. The entrance has a fountain of stone wall with a curtain of water and the decor is of soothing blue and earth colors, with nice tables and cushy, comfy booths. I can’t wait to go back! I’m going to get the Mole de la Casa next time. Mmm!

Dance Friends

Tonight we went out with a bunch of friends from dance class. First to Pape Kibo’s for dinner and a fantastic flamenco show with Gypsy Star, then on to Sam’s Hudson Beach… a little place right on the Gulf, perfect for watching sunsets.

Sunset at Sam's

We had a group of 12! Thanks to all who showed up. 🙂

Dance Crew

It was a good sunset, too! I like this picture Trav took (I adjusted it just a little).

Silhoutte

I wish I had taken pictures of the show at Pape Kibo’s. They had a flamenco dancer who was very good – dramatic – dancing to the music of a 5-piece band. The lady doing percussion was very entertaining, too. My favorite part was the dancer, in her fiery red ruffled dress, castanets  expertly wielded in her fluttery hands. Amazing.

Easter Gathering

We had a fun and delicious Easter celebration this year, at our house. It was so good to see everybody. Here are the pictures!

Aunt Susie
Aunt Susie
Taffy
Taffy
Trav
Trav
Aunt Susie & Pris
Aunt Susie & Pris
Bleys
Bleys
Kathy & Steve
Kathy & Steve
Gramma
Gramma

Spring Break Visitors!

My niece and her boyfriend came to visit Florida for spring break and while they were here, we got to see them! We all went up to visit the manatees at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Adrianne and Phillip at Homosassa Springs

The park serves as a rehabilitation center and refuge for endangered West Indian manatees that have been orphaned or injured in the wild and also for manatees that have been born in captivity. In addition to the manatees that live in the park, we got to see a few wild ones, including one with her baby in tow.

Mama and baby manatee

The spring is the headwater of the Homosassa River, pumping millions of gallons per hour of crytal clear water.

Emmy & Trav at the headwaters of Homosassa Springs

We had a really great time at the park and Adrianne surprised me with a stuffed manatee! He lives on my desk and I take him into my lap for patty-pats now and then. He is so soft and I just love him.

Adrianne, Phillip & Emmy in front of the Wyland mural

After the park, we took the scenic route to a little place called Pape Kibos, for dinner. Along the way, we got to see the Gulf, lots of sawgrass marsh and palm trees.  We also spied a redneck taking his dog for a walk… the dog was going along the road, and the redneck was in his pickup truck, staying alongside the dog. Too funny!

Pape Kibos was a nice place for dinner… we plan on going back there again. The food was unusual and very good. I had a dish called Scallops Al Duko, which was scallops sauteed with black olives, capers, white wine, tomato and overfried spinach. The spinach was really good – it was like tissue and it melted in my mouth. Trav had a chicken ceasar salad. Adrianne had Chicken Grandma (with white wine garlic sauce with capers, black olives, artichoke hearts and asparagus) and Phillip had Snapper Bobo (with grilled asparagus, tomatoes, capers and oregano bread crumbs). It was all very yummy.

Then we went for ice cream – Phillip’s treat. Thank you very much, Phillip!! After dessert we went down to the Hudson marina to see if we could catch a nice sunset. It was really cold and windy down there! But we did stay long enough to see the red sun dip below the horizon.

Hudson Beach Sunset

In all, a fantastic day. Thanks for coming to see us, guys!

Barbie Nails

The prom must have turned on some kind of girly switch in me… I discovered it’s fun to paint my nails! Here’s a design I did a couple of weeks ago – my first attempt at fingernail painting.

I actually kind of like this one – it reminds me of the Barbie dune buggy from my childhood. I’ve been getting inspiration from the designs at Schmucknagel.de – there’s some really cool stuff on there!

Prom!

On his birthday this year, Trav took me to my very first prom. It was the Senior Prom, sponsored by the YMCA. We were the chaperons because we’re under 50… someone needed to keep all those senior citizens in line! Here we are, dressed for the occasion (you can click any picture for a larger version):

Dressed for prom

See that grin on my face? It was there from the time I got my hair done until way after we got home. The prep started with getting my hair styled in an updo by Sofia at Kurl Up & Dye in Spring Hill (her number is 352-836-2012). Thanks, Sofia! Everybody really liked it.

On the way home from the salon, we picked up some of the new Dominos pizza and it turned out to be pretty good. We enjoyed our simple dinner of Hawaiian pizza & beer. Then a little later we got ready to go. Here’s a closer-up shot of the happy couple! Trav is so handsome and he looked quite dapper that evening.

I felt like a princess! Trav got me a lovely corsage from Sherwood Florist. And Trav’s mom gave me some very pretty press-on nails and lovely blue earrings to wear. Plus she supplied me with some really cool nail polish for my toes.

The prom was a lot of fun. We got to hang out with a bunch of people from our dance class and nibble on cookies and punch. Trav’s name was drawn and he got to serve as one of the princes of the prom, to stand up with the king and queen as they were crowned. And we danced and danced and danced!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with love and joy.

Merry Christmas!

p.s. It’s a little late for this year, but I would love for you to participate in the new poll (see the right sidebar). Thanks!!

Happy Halloween!

What a fun day! We were invited to a party, so we made penguins for a snack… they got to dress up, too! They were a hit at the party – people were taking them home to show and stuff. We had a lot of fun making this batch.

Cream Cheese Penguins

Also see my new page about the penguins… it has a flipbook of the best costumes.

I’ll try to get more pictures of Halloween. Here’s a good one… Trav & his mom. Isn’t his mask creepy!!?!

Halloween Witch and Jason (2009)

And here’s one of the many awesome decorations.

Pumpkin Decoration

Best of all – WE DANCED!!! East Coast Swing and a couple of slow dances, and I practiced the cha-cha a little bit at the table. There was a lady dressed as a princess and she danced a lot and was very good at it. She was having a blast, even if she was the only one on the dance floor. I was thinking on how I admire people who will go up and dance if they want to and then realized – we were those people!

New Door

One of our recent projects was to replace the leaky sliding glass door. Water started coming in and managed to ruin part of the floor. Here’s what was there:

The back door - before

Trav & Terry got the old door ripped out and started repairing the floor (cutting the damaged part out and putting in new plywood).

Floor repair

Floor repair

After the floor was repaired, we got the door in. And then the fun started, trying to get it all level and closing right. The actual fun part was squirting in Great Stuff around the edges, to seal it up. Here’s the final result:

Door in and done

We really like the new door because it’s highly energy-efficient, and the blinds are sandwiched inside the glass, so we never have to dust them! It uses a magnetic system to slide the shades up and down.

Next project: 18′ x 18′ concrete pad – the start of our porch!

I’m in the 7%

My friend Jane sent this, and I wanted to share… Thanks, Jane!

Written By Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio. Here’s a link to the original posting, and one to Regina Brett’s site. You can also get an archival quality reprint. Neat!

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:”

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
  16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
  23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
  27. Always choose life.
  28. Forgive everyone everything.
  29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  33. Believe in miracles.
  34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
  35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  37. Your children get only one childhood.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s,we’d grab ours back.
  41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  42. The best is yet to come.
  43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

Jane’s note at the end of the email she sent:
Its estimated 93% won’t forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will, forward this with the title ‘7%’. I’m in the 7%. Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.

Cocoa Beach and Orlando

Today we went over to Orlando to see Bleys’ new place. “On the way”, we went to Cocoa Beach and spent several fun-filled hours body boarding.

Cocoa Beach

I was pretty excited because Cocoa Beach also happens to be where the Ron Jon Surf Shop is… a place I’ve wanted to go ever since we started seeing ads for it in Florida. It was really neat! Way overpriced, though. I don’t think I will EVER pay $72 for a pair of flip flops, even if they do say Ron Jon on them. Not everything was that terribly overpriced but we were a little shocked by that one. The store was huge, with two stories, and they had a lot of cool stuff there. Apparently it’s the largest surf shop in the world. Here’s a view of the outside, including one of the statues gracing the front yard of the store.

Ron Jon Surf Shop

After the beach we went to see Bleys’ place. Of course, the minute we got there, it started raining cats and dogs, so we had to sit around in the lobby and eat Dum-Dums while we waited for the rain to let up. Then they took us to see the model apartment and it was quite nice. I never had such a nice place when I was going to college! He’ll be sharing his apartment with 3 other guys so that ought to be an interesting experience. Hopefully it all goes well.

So that was our exciting day. Next we’ll rest and treat our poor poor sunburned skin! And Trav burned the soles of his feet on the hot wood of the boardwalk, can you believe it! I never saw that happen to anybody before. We’ll probably go back next week, after we move Bleys into his new pad. Can’t get that close and not stop by the beach! 🙂

More Tucson Trip 2009

Here’s one of my favorite pictures of two of my very favorite people in the whole world – my parents!

My Dad and Mom

It was so great having our phone on vacation. Trav took a ton of pictures and got many good ones with the phone – he shared some of them on Facebook where people have been enjoying them tremendously! Neat.

The big event of our vacation was the Birthday Bash. Jeannie made a cake for each of the six people celebrating a birthday and they were INCREDIBLE!! My cake was tie dyed, how cool is that? 🙂 The other cakes were a golf ball for Dad, Jeannie’s “Happy Birthday to Me!” heart cake, Adrianne’s book (24th edition), Becky’s confuzzled cake (from a book series she likes), and Anthony’s southwestern theme. They were delicious, too. Here we are with our cakes:

Birthday People with Awesome Cakes by Jeannie!
We had a marvelous time at the bash… it was so good to be able to visit with everyone and the food Greg & Jeannie prepared was awesome. A bacon-wrapped hot dog and baked beans are a great way to celebrate being on this planet!

Another fun thing we did was to stop by the San Xavier Mission, one of the oldest churches in the southwest. I wanted to get a popover (Indian Fry Bread) and of course explore the bulding. Here I am, in front of the mission eating my popover. Mmmm!

Fry Bread at San Xavier Mission

If you’re ever in Tucson, the mission is a great place to see. Notice how the bell tower on the right side is naked? Some believe they never finished the church so they wouldn’t have to pay taxes.

Another good thing about the trip is I got a bunch of postcards from the Tampa airport, a few from Desert Museum and a few more from San Xavier Mission. I’ve already sent some out to people on Postcrossing.

I have a few other pictures to share of our jaunt to Nogales, but I’ll post that another time.

Arizona

We took a trip to Arizona to visit my family. It was wonderful! I’m happy we got to see everybody and spend some quality time together. I’ll post more later… for now I wanted to put up this picture of the mountains. It was early morning and we were on our way to the Desert Museum. I just love the way the mountains are in shadow. The desert was so beautiful!

Mountains