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Archive for August, 2013

 

 

 

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I love taking pictures of my dog Meghan sleeping.   She is quite the active pup, but she also enjoys a good snooze on the couch, especially after a long day of playing at doggie day camp.  Here are some photos taken of her relaxing after her recent play day.

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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals was to read 50 new books.  The latest book I finished reading is The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope.

This book is about two people, Gina and Laurence, who have been best friends since childhood.  Once grown, they both ended up back in the same hometown, married to different people.    Then Gina’s husband leaves her and life changes for everyone.  Actions do indeed have consequences, and sometimes ones that are unintended! Families fall apart, then build themselves back together.   That’s all I’ll reveal,  in case someone wants to read the book.

I did enjoy this book, and while it doesn’t necessary have a patented “happy” ending,  I got the feeling that the characters would all be okay, and even happy again one day.  That’s almost as good as a happy ending, and perhaps a bit more realistic.

 

 

 

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5-5 to los arcos 25

On the way to Los Arcos – one of my favorite days on the Camino

I walked the Camino de Santiago this past spring, and was treated to an array of beautiful flowers. Below are some photos of what I saw, chronologically, starting in St Jean Pied de Port and ending in Finisterre:

walking out of St Jean

walking out of St Jean

4-28 to valcarlos 13 flowers

On the way to Valcarlos

4-28 to valcarlos 14 flowers

on the way to Valcarlos

4-29 to roncesvalles 5 flowers

Soil envy! On the way to Roncesvalles

5-1 to pamplona 1

On the way to Pamplona

5-1 to pamplona 4

On the way to Pamplona

5-3 to puenta la reina 30

On the way to Puente la Reina

5-3 to puenta la reina 38

On the way to Puente la Reina

5-3 to puenta la reina 48

On the way to Puente la Reina

5-5 to los arcos 18

On the way to Los Arcos

5-5 to los arcos 23

On the way to Los Arcos

5-5 to los arcos 24

On the way to Los Arcos

5-6 to viana 12

On the way to Viana

5-19 to calzadilla de los hermanillos 6

On the way to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos

5-20 to mansilla de los mulas 20

On the way to Mansilla de los Mulas

5-26 to acebo 5

On the way to Acebo

5-26 to acebo 19

On the way to Acebo

5-27 to ponferrada 2

On the way to Ponferrada

5-31 to linares 5

On the way to Linares

6-7 to arzua 2

On the way to Arzua

6-13 finisterre 5

On the way to the Finisterre lighthouse

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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 new books.  One I recently read was The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil.

Looking back over the books I’ve read this year, I notice a pattern:  light, easy reading, tending toward the humorous.  I also seem drawn to books about things I find interesting but will probably never do, such as quilting and knitting.  Sometimes things happen in books that I hope will never happen to me, either.  This book is easy to read and funny at times; is about quilting; and starts out with a tragic event.

Jo Mackenzie’s husband announces he wants a divorce,  leaves the house, and then was killed in a car wreck.  Not being able to afford to stay in her London house, Jo moves her two boys to her small  hometown and takes over her grandmother’s quilt shop.

This book chronicles Jo’s life as she adjusts to being a single mom, makes new friends (including a famous actress), and brings change to the quilt shop.  Despite the misgivings of long-time employee Elsie, Jo brightens up window displays, orders trendy yarn colors, and starts a quilting club called “Stitch and Bitch” to appeal to new quilters.  Along the way, she deals with disapproving inlaws, helps her grandmother enter the dating scene, and even finds time for a little romance herself.   A nice light read about how to handle life’s changes.  Unfortunately, I note that Jo handles things with much more grace than I do!  I tend to kick and scream, whine and complain, then move on.  Perhaps I could learn a lesson or two from Jo about going with the flow.

Anyway, I have noted that there are several more Beach Street books, so I hope to read them soon.

 

 

 

 

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5-1o to pamplona 12

Conch shells and yellow arrows marked the way for pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago

I recently walked the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage trail in northern Spain.  While there, I took more than 800 photos with my sweet little point-and-shoot camera, plus another 150 or so on my iPhone.

Some people have very strong opinions about taking photos on vacation.   I have heard more times than I can count, in very condescending tones, that taking photos removes one from the experience.  I have a different opinion.  Taking photos actually makes me more aware of my surroundings.  I notice the colors, the smells, the sounds, the sights.   In Spain, I really noticed the clouds.  I would walk along the flat parts of the meseta just staring at the sky!

I love taking pictures of landscapes and animals and flowers.  I also try to capture things that I find funny.   One of my favorite photos from a trip years ago was a sign in a petting zoo that said, “Bunnies can get grumpy, and grumpy bunnies bite.”

Now that I have a digital camera, I go hogwild with taking photos, as one might have already guessed with the large number listed above.   But for a long journey like the Camino, I just wouldn’t remember everything without my photos.

For instance, I would have forgotten about the inspirational signs I saw.   Those familiar with the Camino know that the trail has conch shells and yellow arrows showing pilgrims the way.   But there are also graffiti signs encouraging a weary pilgrim:

4-29 to roncesvalles 2 sign

I saw this sign after a particularly hilly stretch.

4-30 to zubiri 7 sign

At this point, I might have walked 20 miles, with about 480 more to go. Yep, gotta keep on moving!

4-30 to zubiri 25 sign

When showing a friend my photos, he asked why the stop sign was in English instead of Spanish? I don’t know.

5-30 to trabadelo 7 sign

This sign was further along, at the start of a long day of climbing.

5-31 to linares 1 sign

This sign was on the way to O Cebreiro and a beautiful church.

Besides the inspirational messages, there was also plenty of political graffiti, but I chose not to take pictures of that.

I also noticed signs that were amusing to me, for one reason or another. A few examples:

5-3 to puenta la reina 41

I’m assuming this was to warn people about dogs, but it must have been siesta time when I walked by, because not a pup was in sight!

5-5 to los arcos 28

The friend mentioned above said he wanted to go through this portal. I agree!

5-7 to navarette 15

In one area, I kept seeing these signs on businesses. Again, why the English? Still, they made me smile.

5-9 to santo domingo de la calzada 8

This man’s sons painted his shoes for him. Buen Camino!

I spent about six weeks walking, with four or five rest days here and there.  I loved my time in Spain, but was ever so glad to see the final marker in Finisterre:

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I had originally planned to walk to to Finisterre and Muxia, but I was injured and needed to stop walking in Santiago.  So I took the bus.  Even though I didn’t walk those last miles to the sea, I still got tears seeing the marker above.   After two years of planning, countless hours of training, and six weeks of walking, I had achieved my goal of walking the Camino.

I don’t know whether I will have the opportunity to walk another Camino.   But if I don’t,  I will certainly have 900-plus photos, including those of few silly signs, to remind me of the journey of a lifetime.

 

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I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to cook 50 new recipes.
Today’s recipe was Chocolate-Covered Katie’s black bean brownies.

I love looking at the recipes on this site, though I hardly ever make any because I would end up over-indulging. Luckily tonight, friends are coming over for dinner or else I would eat the whole pan in one sitting. (Yes, I just had to try one right after they came out of the oven!) These are delicious and I truly can’t taste the beans.

I’ve made several other recipes for black bean brownies, but I’ve found them to be rather dry since they don’t have oil. This recipe does use oil and maple syrup. Since I’m trying to limit oils to avocado, nuts and seeds, these brownies will be for special occasions only.

I wonder how my guests will like them. I also wonder if I should “spill the beans” about the ingredients?

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Image courtesy of Amazon

Image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 new books.  A book I recently finished is The Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini.

This book is part of a series about a group of women quilters.  I’m getting the books out of the library, and trying to read them in order.  However, the “next” book in the series isn’t always available so I have skipped ahead.  This latest book is one I skipped earlier, and even though it’s not the holiday season, I decided to read it up for inspiration.  Gotta get to shopping and/or making crafts for gifts!!!

Anyway,  The Christmas Quilt begins with Sylvia’s friend and business partner, Sarah, wanting to decorate Elm Creek Manor for Christmas.  Sylvia, however, was hoping to encourage Sarah to visit her estranged mother and possibly reconcile their differences.  Also, Christmas for Sylvia brought up painful memories of family members long gone and traditions no longer celebrated.

Sarah insisted, so went up into the attic to bring down the holiday decorations.  Amidst those decorations was an unfinished Christmas quilt.

From there, we learn about the origins of the quilt, which Great-Aunt Lucinda stopped and started too many times to count.  We also learn about the Bergstrom traditions of making strudel and picking out the Christmas tree.  The family also had a tradition of hiding the glass star that sat atop the tree, and the first child to find it could place it on the tree. One Christmas, no one could find the star, and what happened to it remained a mystery until much later in the book.

Time passes and traditions fade;  a beloved family member moves, while others die, including Sylvia’s husband and brother.  Sylvia and her sister Claudia become estranged, and Sylvia leaves the manor for years.  She returns after Claudia has died, and too late for resolution.  However, sister-in-law Agnes provides some welcome information about Claudia, as well as the long-lost strudel recipe.   Christmas traditions are once again celebrated and memories tinged with sadness now have joy infused in them.

This is another light, sweet book in the Elm Creek series.  Though the focus on the need for tight and straight stitching has made me realize that, rather than attempting to learn quilting, reading about it might be a better option for me.

 

 

 

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