Sunday, July 9, 2017

Eagle's Nest Hiking Trail

With our relatives visiting, we loaded up the truck and headed to La Porte, Colorado for a four mile hike at Eagle's Nest.  The weather in July is cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon.  With getting to the trails by 8 am, we felt that we could be finished with our four mile hike within two hours.

Arriving at the trails early, there was only one car sitting in the parking lot.  We were ready for the hike with our water, sunscreen and hats.

There are many hiking trails in our area and this was one we had not been on before.  This area has been home to nesting golden eagles for at least 100 years.  From February 1 to July 15, the area downstream of the bridge is closed to fishing and public access to protect the nesting area.

Eagle's Nest includes 755 acres.  This area has five miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, as well as the Cache LaPoudre River that runs through it.  These acres are home for deer, elk, coyote, mountain lions and other animals.

As we headed north on the red dirt trail, the majestic view of the Laramie Foothills was breathtaking. You could see for miles.  As we walked, we enjoyed the beauty of the wildflowers.  The wildflowers are so small and dainty.  The vibrant yellow, blue and purplish colors were striking.

To think that cowboys use to trail herds of cattle through this area.  The pioneer settlers migrated west to develop a new beginning.  It is hard to imagine what these people went through to have their own homesteads.

The trail led us to the river and there was a tree stump waiting for us.  It was nice to rest and to enjoy a duck and her ducklings as they swam across the river.  The sound of the running river and the swishing sound of the leaves as the wind blew was so comforting.

We took a different trail as we headed back to the parking area.  This trail was more climbing than the previous trail.  We would go a few feet and then stop to take in the beautiful terrain and the silence.

We were hoping to see Eagles, but we didn't and we were glad that we did not encounter a rattlesnake along the open, rocky areas that we hiked.

Colorado has lots of hiking trails.  This is a nice, simple trail to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the surroundings.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

Make Cake Balls Out of a Crumbled Pound Cake!

It is amazing what lessons we learn from our surroundings.  I was having friends over for dinner the other night and I wanted to bake a Pound Cake and have strawberries and whip cream with this cake. I hadn't baked one in many years.  With all of my moves in the past six years, I had gotten rid of the bundt pan that I would bake it in.  I purchased a new one.  After allowing the cake to bake, then cool, I proceeded to get the cake out of the pan.  No luck!  I had to cut the cake out and it was in crumbles. It wasn't in a beautiful ring shape.

I was a little upset.  But I realized, I could make lemonade out of lemons.  That night with my guest, I took out martini glasses, put a layer of crumbled pound cake, then whipping cream, another layer of crumbled cake, and more whipping cream and then added some beautiful red strawberries on top. Everyone thought the dessert was superb!  It tasted great!

Later that evening, I was telling my sister about the disaster and she said make cake balls.  Cake balls originated because bakers would have flops with their cakes or have stale cake.  To prevent waste, someone created cake balls.  They are made by blending cake crumbs with icing, shaping them in form of a  ball and then dipping them in a coating, such as chocolate or white chocolate.  You can then decorate them with sprinkles, nuts, etc.

The next day I gave it a try.  I wouldn't win a blue ribbon for the appearance, but it would win a ribbon for taste and texture.  My nephew loved them!

I began to think of my situations in life.  Sometimes we think things are bad, but God has a different plan.

One verse that came to mind was:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.  God works in all things for our good.  It does not mean that all that happens to us is good, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.

Another verse was:

"But Joseph said to them: "Don't be afraid.  I am in the place of God.  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" Genesis 50:19-20.  Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery many years ago because they were jealous of him.  Through this ordeal Joseph became the governor of Egypt and was able to save many lives during the time of the drought.

So the next time, you think something is a disaster, just remember God has a plan and He will help us through those times.  He will give us the wisdom, insight and knowledge that you need!

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

Cake Balls

Strawberry Short Cake in Martini Glasses

The Disaster

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Storm is Brewing

I watched the storm off of my balcony.  It was southwest of town and in the distance you could see the dark sky and the lightning, which would flash nearly every 10 seconds.  I tried to get a picture of the lightning, but it was just to fast to capture the white streak across the sky.

The wind had begun to pick up and I knew that the storm was headed my way.

Watching the storm, I thought that nature and mankind are so much a like.  In nature, storms produce heavy rain, snow, hail, sleet, thunder and strong winds.  In our lives, we also produce storms of drama, shouting, screaming, adversities, hardships, grief and so much more.

Just like nature is not exempt from storms, we aren't exempt from them as well.  We go through storms so that we can grow.  These storms in our lives help us to grow closer to God, as well as growing in understanding ourselves better.  They help humble us and force us to submit to the role that God has chosen for us.

As we go through these times, we need to continue praying; reading scripture(know that scripture is what keeps us from sinking); praise God for these trials; have faith(allow God to do something spectacular) and believe in miracles.  We need to believe that God is still in the business of performing miracles.

As the thunder and lightning was getting closer, I decided to go inside and to batten down the hatches.  I knew that after the storm, there would be a calmness, the air would be cleaner and there would be a freshness in the air and maybe even a rainbow.  I just had to be able to ride through the storm.

Riding through the storm is like riding through the situations in our lives.  I need to always remember that God will help me through my troubling times.  I just need to trust Him and look forward to seeing that rainbow!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Me & My Shadow

You have days where you reflect on the past and today was one of those days!

As I went on my walk today, the sun was behind my back and I could see my shadow.  At that moment, it was 1966 and I am back in the sixth grade at Crestview Elementary School in Waco, Texas reciting the poem "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I remember my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Fletcher.  She had red hair and bright blue eyeshadow.   We were always having to memorize something and reciting it in front of the room.

When I got home from my walk, I went to my books and I found the book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson that my father had given me back in 1962 and there was the poem "My Shadow".

It is amazing what our brain stores!  It was a good day to reminisce!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Name Is Written...

The light started peeking in the window around 5 am.  I dozed for a little while, but about thirty minutes later, I decided to get up.  Sunrise was at 5:30 am.  Yikes!  I do enjoy the long days and the warmer temperature.

After drinking my coffee and having my quiet time, I decided to go get my steps in.  The temperature was a nice cool, fifty-six degrees.  It is amazing how many people are walking around the neighborhood at 6:30 in the morning.  There are bikers, runners, walkers and people walking their dogs.

I am always amused at how many people have their earplugs in and are listening to music.  To me, the natural music is my surroundings.  The red-winged blackbirds are squawking, the doves are cooing and the hawks are soaring and screeching.

Today the wind was blowing, so I could hear chimes in the background as well as the rustling of the leaves.  Also, there was a train going down the railroad tracks and blowing the horn.

As I walked along the sidewalk, I thought of the words that I had read earlier.

"I have written your name on my hand."  Isaiah 49:16.  To think, He knows me by name.  Just like the shepherd knows his sheep and He knows them by name.

I sometimes wonder does He even care?  Does He know when I am hurting or when I am sad?  Does He know when I feel insecure or when I don't have the confidence to do something?

The answer is Yes, Yes & Yes!  He does know!  He is right there with me; guiding, directing and pushing me to be the best that I can be.  He gave me the mind and the feet to move forward.  I sometimes, just need to do that.

Max Lucado, an author and minister, said these words "If God is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life?  If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path?  If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs?"

As I am looking at my future and pondering the direction that I need to go, I just need to step-out and as Nike says "Just Do It".

When I got home, I looked at the palm of my hand and knew that my name was written on God's hand and that He wants the best for me.  So whatever you are going through, take a minute and listen as He whispers, close your eyes and see His hand as He writes your name.

Today is a new day and a new beginning!

Monday, June 26, 2017


Looking at these peppermint petunias, the word that comes to mind is "hope".  Hope of a new day, a new tomorrow, a new beginning!

I don't see peppermint petunias very often. But these petunias bring to mind the "legend of the Christmas Candy Canes".  The story is that the white of the cane represents the purity of Jesus Christ and the red stripes are for the blood that He shed when he died on the cross.  And the peppermint flavor represents the hyssop plant that was used for purifying in the Bible.

Without God, we have no hope.  During my devotion today, I read these words, "people can live without many things, but they cannot live without hope".  Sometimes that is all that we have.

I have so many family members and friends that are going through some difficult times.  I have several friends that have been diagnosed with cancer in the past several years and have gone through surgery and treatment.  Other friends that are grieving from a death of a family member; some are having marriage problems and others that have lost their jobs.  There is so much pain in the world.

When people are going through these times, what do you say?  You can feel their loss, but you can't fell their emotions/pain as they walk through this journey.

God is not trying to destroy someone as they walk through these hardships, but He is trying to get them to grow.  While we suffer, we have to have "hope" and know that God is merciful.  He is with us.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 states "For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  You will call upon me and pray and I will listen."

Jesus tells us when we feel hopeless and afraid, look to Him.  He is the source of hope and promises.
We need to remember as we experience illnesses; a job loss; problems with your marriage or going through persecution, that this life is not all there is.  There is life after death!

So today as I go through my challenges and think of my friend's challenges, I will keep my eyes on Jesus.  He is the only answer!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Missions/Churches in Santa Fe

Two weeks ago, I was in Italy seeing beautiful churches.  This week I got to see some old, lovely churches that are in the U.S.

Santa Fe is known for the churches.  The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the downtown area.  It was built between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, built in 1626 and destroyed in a revolt in 1680.

The Cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival Style.  It features round arches separated by columns and towers.  The large rose window was imported from France.  In the upper facade is a small, round window featuring a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.  This is a stained glass replica of the translucent alabaster window designed in the 17th century by the Italian artist Bernini for St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

After sitting in the church and observing the beautiful architecture, I headed down several blocks, which is the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail, to see the Loretto Chapel.

This is a former Roman Catholic church that is now used as a museum and wedding chapel.  It is known for its unusual helix-shaped spiral staircase.  This church started as a school in 1853.  The legend is that the staircase was constructed by St. Joseph, the Carpenter, and was built between 1877 and 1881.  It has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support.

Leaving the Loretto Chapel, I headed south a few blocks to see San Miguel Mission, the oldest church structure in the U.S.A.  It was built approximately between 1610 and 1626.  The original adobe walls are still intact.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is still offered at the chapel on Sundays.

There were many more churches in the area, but I wasn't able to visit them.  As you can see, there is a lot to see in the U.S.A.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Lorreto Chapel

San Miguel Mission

New Mexico State Capitol

As I walked along the streets of Santa Fe to the State Capitol, I passed many restaurants and shops. It is such a unique town with it's Indian/Mexican/Spanish culture.

I passed the Santa River river where young boys and their fathers were fishing for trout.  One family had caught several fish, which I assumed they would be eating for dinner.

It was still early in the morning and the temperature was nice.  Santa Fe is located at 7,200 feet and the climate is warm days and cool evenings.

Visiting all 50 capitols is on my bucket list and I wanted to make sure that I explored New Mexico's State Capitol.  The Santa Fe capitol is unique, in that, it is the only Round State Capitol. The Capitol is known informally as "the Roundhouse".  The Roundhouse is the fourth Capitol building of New Mexico. The Palace of the Governors, which now houses the state's history museum, used to be the house of government in Santa Fe for nearly three centuries.

The Roundhouse was dedicated on December 8, 1966.

I got to the Capitol just as the doors were opening for the day.  A young man greeted me as I walked in and asked me to sign the visitor's sheet.  He explained the building and the four levels.

The first level houses the house and senate chambers.  They were not in session.

The second level is the floor that visitors enter.  The Rotunda in the center of the building is inlaid with a turquoise and brass mosaic of the great seal.  The seal is New Mexico's Zia sun symbol, which is associated with the Land of Enchantment.  It is inspired by a design found on a 19th century water jar from Zia Pueblo.  The design is a circular sun with linear rays extending in four directions.  Four is a significant number, as it is embodied in the four directions of the earth, the four seasons of the year; the four times of the day(sunrise, noon, evening and night); and life's four divisions of childhood, youth, adulthood and old age.

From the Rotunda, you can look up and see the skylight, which is 60 feet from the floor.  It represents an Indian basket weave; the blue represents the sky and the pale pink the earth.

Also on the second floor, various artwork was exhibited.  There were beautiful, colorful quilts that local artists had weaved, which were displayed.

The third level houses committee rooms and offices and also features a lot of the Capitol Art Collection.  This collection features contemporary masterworks by artists who live and work in New Mexico.

The fourth level houses the offices of the governor, the lieutenant governor and the Legislative Council Service.

If you are ever in Santa Fe, make sure you go by the Capitol.  There are select times for a tour guide or you can do your own self-guided tour.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


This morning as I sat outside snuggled up in a blanket drinking my coffee, I reflected on the past week.  Had it only been a week since I flew back from Italy!  All week long, I have been replaying my time and the many adventures that I had on my trip.  It was such a great trip.  New memories were made.

It has taken me the week to adjust to the time change!  I have been up every morning around 5 a.m. The joy of getting up early is seeing the sunrise.  The sunrise has taken my breath away as I look out onto the sky to see the beautiful colors of different blues and the different pinks, as they swirl across the sky.  Within seconds, the colors change.  I am in awe!

While I was gone, the wetlands got greener and the yellow flowers popped up.  It seems like the birds have multiplied, as well. The rabbits definitely have multiplied.  The red wing blackbirds have a slurred whistle as the sun rises from the east.  The swallows are soaring from one house to the next.

Sometimes we forget about the beauty within our on home.  As much as I love to travel, to meet new people and to discover new surroundings, I always remember the words that Dorothy said in "The Wizard of Oz", "There is no place like home."

Enjoy today!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Alba, Italy

My last day in Italy was spent in Alba. Alba was once known as the "city with 100 towers". Today, it is famous for it's white truffles, peach and wine production.

In the area of Alba, there are 290 wineries that cultivate an area of 1,700 acres of land.  There are four distinct wine producing regions, but only two(Langhe and Monferrato) of these are dominate.  The vineyards are rich with soil, with history and with family tradition in wine-making that dates back centuries.

The town itself had a medieval flavor with it's cobblestone walks, narrow streets and the decor of the stores.  Just like Turin, there are cafes all along the streets.  Fashion is displayed in the windows and the merchants have their tables outside, selling their truffles, nuts, chocolates and displays of Alba's wines.

As I walked along the streets, there was a merchant demonstrating soap bubbles to the children. These soap bubbles were beautiful colors(almost like a rainbow) that were various shapes.  The children were fascinated with these bubbles.

After enjoying a cappuccino, the group was met by an archaeologist, who took us underground, a few feet beneath the streets and pavements, to discover the Roman Roots.  We saw the remains of the Roman Forum and remains of the Medieval towers and houses.

Some other sights to visit are the impressive Cathedral of San Lorenzo is in the heart of Alba; Gothic Church of San Domenico(which has triple arch within a pointed arch) and the Baroque of St. John the Baptist.

After sightseeing in Alba, we had a 3 course-lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beautiful vineyards.  We enjoyed veal, ravioli and a chocolate pastry, as well as different wines, prosecco and limoncello.

Our last stop was at the Paitin Winery.  This winery has been in the family since 1796.  From their 17 acres, they produce Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Arneis, Barbera and Dolcetto.

What a great day to end my tour of Northern Italy!  I will always treasure the memories that were made.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Exploring Turin, Italy

As I walked out onto the cobblestone street, I was in awe of the sunrise and the silence surrounding me.  I wanted to explore Turin from sunrise to sunset.  

This was a new city for me.  I was enjoying the quietness before the city awoke.  There is something about walking the streets and thinking back to the Renaissance period and the people that strolled along this same path.

Turin, which is pronounced Turino, is a city that is located in the northern part of Italy and is the capital of the Piedmont region.  It is located on the Po River and surrounded by the western Alpine arch.  The population of the city proper is approximately 900,000.

The city has a rich culture and history.  With all the restaurants, churches, universities, theaters, libraries, museums, parks and other venues, there is always something to do.  Turin is well-known for its Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical and Art Nouveau architecture.

Our guide gave us some interesting facts about Turin:

1.  It is home of the FIAT auto plants.  FIAT is Italy's largest automobile manufacturer.  The acronyms stands for "Fabric, Italy, Automobile, Turin".
2.  The "Shroud of Turin" is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin.  The Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man.  A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth.
3. EATALY - opened in 2007 in Turin.  It was built for the 2006 winter Olympic Games, and is basically a gourmet grocery store offering all foods Italian.  There are about three of them in the United States(NYC, Chicago & Boston).
4.  The movie "The Italian Job" was filmed in Turin in 1969.  Michael Caine was the main actor. This is a movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam.
5.  The Egyptian Musuem in Turin is the only museum other than the Cairo Museum that is dedicated solely to Egyptian art and culture.
6.  Cafes - There are at least 2 cafes on every block.  The historic cafes have remained favorite among politicians, intellectuals and artists.  One of the popular drinks that is served is "bicerin".  This drink has hot chocolate at the bottom, espresso coffee and milk, froth on top.
7.  Piazza San Carlo - This is Turin's most beautiful square.  It is the city's outdoor living room, surrounded by arcaded sidewalks that house the terraces of the cafes for which Turin is famous.
8.  Martini & Rossi, which was founded in Turin in 1863, is an Italian multinational alcoholic beverage company primarily associated with the Martini brand of vermouth and is also with sparkling wine(such as Asti).
9. and so many more other venues.

While walking along, be careful, as you could get run over by a bicycle.  Everywhere I looked, people were riding their bikes.

I was very impressed with this city.  Next time you are a planning a trip to Italy, put Turin on your list.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Italian Riveria

This afternoon as I strolled along the turquoise coastline of the Ligurian Sea, I reflected on the past several days.  With the waves crashing on the cliffs, motor boats humming along the shore, I had to pinch myself.  I was experiencing the Italian Riveria.

In the 1960's, the French Riveria(which is the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France) was where the movie stars and rich and famous would travel to.  Nowadays, the well-known celebrities travel to the Italian Riveria.  This lies on the northwestern corner of Italy, in the region of Liguria, which stretches along the Ligurian Sea from the Italian/French border to the Tuscany border.

The villages that I got to travel to were Portovenere, Le Cinque Terre and Santa Margherita & Portofino(the heart of the Italian Riveria.

What one experiences from each of these areas were the multi-colored pastel buildings; the fishing villages; tall rugged cliffs dropping down into the cobalt blue depths of the sea and the resort areas(beaches).

Portovenere is located on the Ligurian coast of Italy.  The very small quaint village has such beautiful panoramic views of the church, St. Peter, as well as the Doria Castle.  St. Peter's Church sits on top of the cliffs that looks out into the sea, and was constructed in 1198 A.D.  The church still holds services, as well as weddings.  The castle was built by the Genoese in 1261 for the very wealthy Doria family who were very instrumental to the political, military and economic life of the Republic of Genoa.

The rugged part of the Italian Riveria is Cinque Terre(five villages).  The five villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso.  Each of these have their own charm.  All five of these villages are connected by a trail.  Hikers love to travel to this area. The water and mountainside have been declared a National Park.

Riomaggiore is known for its historic character and it's wine.

Manarola is built on black rock.  The vineyards and olive trees are planted on the side of the steep cliffs.  The wine and olive oil from this area is expensive due to how these grapes & olives are picked and taken care of.

Corniglia is an ancient Roman village that is perched on a striking high bluff.  This is the only town without access from the sea.  To reach the town you ascend a long flight of brick steps known as "Lardarina" (33 flights with 377 stairs).

Vernazza is the most charming of the five villages.  It has the best access to the sea.

Monterosso is the largest of the Cinque Torres.  It has beautiful beaches, clear turquoise water and lots of hotels and restaurants.

As you travel north from Cinque Terre, you will approach Santa Margherita & Portifino.

Santa Margherita is one of the most important towns of the Levante Riviera.  It's special charm lies in the unusual mix of nautical & Belle Époque styles.  It is a beautiful old resort town favored by well-to/do Italians.  Santa Margherita Ligurie has everything a Riveria playground should have--plenty of palm trees, attractive hotels, cafes and a marina filled with yachts.

Portofino in the past, functioned primarily as a fishing village and occasionally, as a small naval port. Today, it is a classy resort village.  The waterfront is lined with multicolored pastel buildings and cafes.  There is a very panoramic view of Portofino from the church, St. George.  As you stroll through the piazza, you see many young lovers, as well as celebrities.

As you can see, the Italian Riveria has a lot to offer!

Lucca - home of Giacomo Puccini

Northwest of Florence is Lucca.  It is one of Italy's most impressive fortress.  It is encircled by a 2.5 mile wall that was used during the Renaissance to protect the people.  But today it is a wall that is enjoyed by bicyclists, runners & walkers.  The path is shaded with beautiful, tall trees.

The city is on the Serchio River in Italy's Tuscany region.  The cobblestone streets sends you back to when the Romans controlled Lucca.  There were approximately 160 towers within the city.  The towers showed the wealth of this town,

The amphitheater which sits inside the town used to be located outside the rectangular city walls.  Now shops & restaurants surround the amphitheater, which is used as a plaza for gathering of family and friends.

Of course, I can't forget two of the many churches, San Michele in Foro & Basilica of San Frediano. In it's heyday, there were 82 churches in this fortress.  Lucca was the first Mediterranean stop on the pilgrim route from Northern Europe and the Pope wanted to remind the pilgrims what awaited them in Rome.

So much to see in Lucca.  But if your time is limited make sure you see the Guinigi Tower, which has 227 steps to the top.  There is a beautiful view of the city among the five oak trees.

Also Lucca is home to the famous composer Giacomo Puccini.  He was born in 1858 into a family with a long history of music.  As you walk through the plaza to see his sculpture, you will here his music in the background.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cooking in Tuscany!

From the time that Rosanna, the chef, walked into the Villa, you knew that today's cooking class was going to be filled with learning, fun and laughter.  Her charm pulled you towards her.  Our class of eight was excited to be there..

She greeted us with a smile and saying "buongiorno".

Rosanna Passione has been working with food for 25 years.  She is a chef, a cooking teacher and an author of cookbooks.  She has taught many classes in Italy as well as the US.  She is a mother of three and began her love for cooking with organic foods.

With me taking a cooking class is very ironic.  I don't cook!  But for some reason, I have had a desire to cook in Tuscany.  Maybe it is because of all the romantic/comedy movies of Italy that I have watched for many years.

Rosanna handed out aprons for each of us and then began to let us know what our three course meal would be.  We would begin with the dessert, so that it could sit and savor the flavors.

The dessert was peaches and baked with crushed almond cookies & cocoa mix.   Rosanna showed us how to  cut the peaches in half, take out the seeds and add the mixture.  Rosanna wanted each one of us to take part.  And of course everything, we did was perfect.  She was so encouraging and you wanted to do more.

After we finished the peaches, we then started on the appetizers, which were the zucchini slices baked and we added smoked cheese and diced tomatoes.  Once again, we each sliced & diced the items.

The last course was the spinach ravioli.  Homemade pasta!  I can't believe I did it!  Rosanna showed us how to take two different flours and mix them.  Then you take the flour mixture and add the eggs. Special technique in making the dough.  Then you bring out the pasta machine.  A lot of people still use the rolling pin to flatten out the dough.

After rolling out the dough, we added the spoonful of spinach.  We used the cutter to make the squares of ravioli.  We had the water boiling and we added the spinach pasta squares to cook.

We set the six foot table outside for the meal that we were preparing.  Of course, we had wine!

As we all sat at the table with the food we had prepared, we were all laughing and filled with confidence.  We had each achieved making homemade pasta, an appetizer and a dessert.

All of us were in awe of the meal that we had prepared and we could now scratch off on our bucket list "cooking in Tuscany"!


Friday, June 2, 2017

San Gimignano & Siena

A full day of touring San Gimignano & Siena!

As I walked out of the Villa this morning, I was greeted by Alice(pronounced Alisha).  She has been a a guide for the past fifteen years & loves telling the story of San Gimignano(known as "little Manhattan").  San Gimignano is a small walled medieval town, which has tall walls and narrow streets.  It is the medieval "skyscrapers" that set the town apart from other towns.  Today there are only 14 towers that remain, but at the height of the Guelph-Ghibelune conflict there was a multitude of more than 70 towers.  The people were able to cross the town by rooftop rather than by road.

The towers were built partly for defensive purposes.  Useful for pouring boiling oil on attacking enemies, but also the towers were for bolstering the egos of their owners, who competed with the others to see who could build the highest tower in town.

Today, San Gimignano is known for the shopping.  It was here that I purchased two pairs of leather shoes and had the best gelato(saffron cream).  Gelateria Dondoli was voted as the #1 Gelato World Champions in 2016.

After shopping, we loaded on the bus and headed to Poggio Alloto to have lunch and to view the breathtaking landscape view of the towers(San Gimignano).

Our last stop for the day was Siena, another of Italy's best-preserved medieval city.  Walking through the city, we saw the medieval contrade, which are the 17 districts that have been historically divided.  The contrades are a vibrant part of modern life.  You see symbols of the contrada--Tartuca(turtle), Oca(goose), Istrice(porcupine), Torre(tower), which are on banners and engraved on building walls.  The Sienese still strongly identify with the contrada where they were born and raised.  This is very visible during the centuries-old Palio, a twice yearly(July 2 & August 16) horse race, which is held in the Piazza del Campo.  Almost 35,000 people attend this event.

It was another great of discovering Tuscany!

La Villa del Cigliano

The morning began in Greve, one of the quaintest piazzas of Tuscany.  It is also the capital town of Chianti.  It was still early, so the town was very quiet.  We enjoyed walking into the shops and talking with the owners.  My friend, Linda and I stopped by a small market to buy fresh fruits & vegetables. We then went to a leather shop to find a leather belt for Linda, which the owner sized specifically for her.

The bus driver, Andrea, drove us through the beautiful countryside to Villa del Cigiliano.  The Villa was like a fortress.  The Villa has been in the family since the 1500's, which was purchased by Alessandro di Niccolo Antinori.

We were greeted by Anna, the current winemaker.  Her sweet smile and gentle spirit began to tell us the story of the Villa.  Her mother, Eleonora Antinori, passed away in 2001 and she inherited the winery because her brother and sister did not not want any part of it.  Anna & her husband were living in Rome and decided to come back to the place where she had such fond memories of growing up.

Anna was born in Portugal where her father was a diplomat to the Embassy.  Throughout her life, she had lived in very exotic places and at the age of 59 she decided it was time to go home and keep the memories of her ancestors alive among her children.

The medieval country villa was filled with so much history.  Personal photographs filled the rooms with lots of history and stories. The arched ceilings & colorful furniture and paintings were very intriguing and added to the environment of the medieval times.  Anna had her own collection of owls scattered throughout one of the rooms.

Anna escorted us outside to the beautiful garden which was filled with roses, exotic plants and the pool which acted as a mirror to the main house.  She spoke of the memories of a young child sitting under a tree, which was at least 150 years old.  The tree is no longer there, but she has planted a new tree to shade her family & guest as they sit out in the garden.  The back facade was decorated with shells to represent Neptune.

As we walked through the garden to the barn, Anna picked strawberries for us to eat.  The taste was so sweet & so fresh.  She showed us where she stored her lemon trees in the winter.  There was another room which is used as a hanging place for Malvasia grapes which are left to dry for a few months until they become raisin like.  These rare grapes are used to make Vinsanto, the holy wine used in the church.

We also toured the Chianti Classico winery & cellar.  They produce about 40,000 bottles a year.

Lunch was served on a long oval table in the family's dining room.  The tablecloth and dishes were so elegant.  We were served appetizers, bread(which we drenched in the family's premium olive oil), homemade pasta ravioli, strawberries(for dessert) and of course the traditional Chianti Classico wines.

When our time came for us to load up on the bus, our hearts were saddened in that we had not had enough time to hear more stories told by Anna.

As I left, I told her I would be back!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Podere Il Casale(Organic Farm)

Driving southeast of the Villa on the one lane road, the driver would pull over & allow other cars to pass us as we traveled to our private excursion to Val d' Orcia.  It was going to be another sunny day in Tuscany!

After about 1 1/2 hours, we reached our destination of the organic farm.  We approached the farm with dust flying in every direction.  As we unloaded from the bus, we were greeted by the piercing call of the Indian peacock.  He strutted around displaying his extravagant royal blue & jade green plumage with the beautiful eyespots.

Uli, the owner greeted us and walked us to one of the most scenic views.  The Val d' Orcia region was breathtaking as we looked out into the rolling hills of vineyards and olive trees.  Parishes and countryside stone homes were seen in the distance as well as a volcano that has not erupted in over 200,000 years.

Uli told us a little bit about himself and his family.  In 1991, Uli and his wife, Sandra, left Zurich and moved to Podere Il Casale.  The 300 year old stone home needed lots of fixing up before they could start on their dream of building an organic farm.  The other buildings on the property were also renovated to be used as workshops, hayloft, stables, cellar & a dairy.

They have a small dairy, which is where they make their organic raw milk sheep's and goat's cheeses. The herd consists of about 200 sheep and 75 goats.

As Uli discussed his farm and the surroundings, the two donkeys felt very comfortable walking in and out of our group.  We toured the area of the goats & got to see the newborns, as well as seeing the sheep and pigs.

Uli discussed the cheese making process without using any chemical preservatives or additives.  He demonstrated the process of making cheese over a gas fire.  He said the three most important steps in making cheese were the temperature, rennet & curds/whey.

After the demonstration, we enjoyed a beautiful lunch of salad, pasta, cheese, wine & dessert, overlooking the valley of the area.

The day ended with us buying cheese, olive oil and wine!

Finding Firenze(Florence)!

As I crossed the Arno River into Florence, Italy, I knew that I would discover the true understanding of Renaissance art and architect.

Florence is a city which was founded in 59 BC, as a settlement for former soldiers, who were allotted land by Julius Caesar.  It is now known as the capital city of the Tuscany region.

As I was making plans to travel to Florence, several people had told  me that they would rather travel to Florence instead of Rome.  Florence's city population is approximately 400,000 verses Rome's city population at three million.  I visited Rome two years ago and I had enjoyed seeing the Vatican, the Coluseum and many other well-known sites, but there is something about the environment in Florence that I felt that I belonged.

Walking with the group on the cobblestone to the Galleria dell Accademia, it was hard to imagine that such great Renaissance men, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci & Raphael had once walked along this same street.

Arriving at the Academy, our guide, Sylvia escorted us into the first room to discuss the sculptures & art work of Michelangelo.  She took us back to the 15th century to help us understand how the sculptures would sketch their work and then roll out the clay to begin to create their masterpiece.

It was interesting to learn that Michelangelo destroyed most of his sketches.  He completed his finest sculpture at the age of 29.

His well known sculpture was David.  The statue was fifteen feet and was completed in 1504.

After the Academy, we then proceeded to the Uffizi to see the works of Leonardo di Vinci, as well as Raphael.  It was interesting to learn that Leonardo died at the age of 32, as Michelangelo died at the age of 88(three weeks shy of his 89th).

The Uffizi is the most important and visited museum in Florence.  The Uffizi palace was designed and began in 1560 by the architect Giorgi Vasari.  The early years of painting was done on wood panels and not the canvas that we are accustomed to.  You could spend days going through the Uffizi.  We hit the highlights of the great artists, such as Botticelli, Giotto, Raphael, di Vinci and Michelangelo.

On day two of touring Florence, we adventured to the Duomo.  It was not completed until 1436.  The real glory of the Duomo is Filippo Brunelleschi's dome.  Brunelleschi's engineering feat was constructing a novel scaffolding method to complete not only one dome, but two, one inside the other.  He employed a new method of bricklaying, based on an ancient Roman herringbone pattern, interlocking each course of bricks with the course below is a way that made the growing structure self-supporting.

Leaving the dome, we headed to the Ponte Vecchio.  This is a medieval stone closed arch bridge over the Arno River.  Walking through the crowds of people, we saw the shops of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.  These shops were once occupied by butchers(in the early years).

Everywhere you turned, you saw so many unique sites.  We ended the day with walking through Santa Croce Basilica, which is the principal Franciscan church in Italy.  Michelangelo is one of the well-known buried here.  The magnitude of this church is something that you personally have to see.  The stained glass windows throughout the Basilica brought out the beauty of this church.

As always, there is never enough time to see everything.  I will have to return to Firenze and walk the cobblestones where the Renaissance began!  Ciao!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Discovering Tuscany!

My adventure began on Friday as I headed to the Denver airport to catch my flight to Detroit to meet my friend, Linda.  We would then catch a flight to Paris, France to meet the group.  And then fly to Florence, Italy 🇮🇹.

Linda & I had traveled with this group two years ago.  We toured Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, Sicily(where we traveled to Palermo, Mt. Etna & Taormina) and then to Rome.  In Rome, we attended The Vatican & saw Pope Francis & all the other great sites in Rome.

Back in December, Linda called me & said the same lady who facilitated the trip in 2015, was putting together another group for Tuscany, Florence, Portovener, Turin & Alba.  I said "sign me up".

One of the things that intrigued me on this trip was that we were going to stay in a Villa in Tuscany.  All I could think about was the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" with Diane Lane.  She was a writer, who impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in order to change her life.

After almost twenty-four hours of traveling, we arrived in Florence. Andrea, our bus driver was patiently waiting for us as we came through customs.

All fifteen of us loaded up in the van & began our forty-five minute trip to the Tuscany area.  Driving along the highway, I observed the rolling hills of vineyards.

Along the road, I saw so many villas.  I wonder which one would be ours.  We finally pulled up to the rock gate of La Canonical Di Corrine Estate.  The bus was not allowed into the estate.  The staff greeted us and told us they would get our luggage.  

Villa Affresco is a magnificent classic Italian villa dating back to the 15th century and comprises part of an ancient Tuscan castle.  It is located in the heart of the Chianti countryside.

As I walked through the gate, I felt I had arrived into another era.  The whole world seemed to have changed and there were no worries before me.

Eliza, our Italian interpreter,  began to hand out the keys to our rooms.  She then began to show us what our accommodations would be for the next seven days.

The ceilings are about twelve feet tall.  One wall was painted a teal color with a medieval drawing.  There were floral accents throughout the Villa.

We proceeded outside to the gardens of white roses and then to the pool area.

From Linda & mine's room, we opened the eight foot windows to smell the surroundings, see the vineyards and hear the chattering of the birds.

Words can't even describe our dinner.  The two ladies started cooking about five p.m.  You could smell the aroma of olive oil and other spices.  We would be eating outside.  The ten foot table was covered with a beautiful blue tablecloth & napkins.  The dishes were light green with olives sketched on them.  The homemade pasta & their own wine made the meal extra special.  

I enjoyed conversing with the others, hearing the laughter and watching the sunset in the distance.

Tuscany was everything I thought it would be & more!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Broken Angel's Wing

I know that summer is not official until June 21st, but today was summer for me.  The clear blue sky and the eighty degree weather with the gentle wind made it official for me.

As I was out and about today, I looked into the sky and the shape of the clouds reminded me of a broken angel's wing.  In the summer, there are always so many clouds and the clouds take on such different shapes.  It is good to use your imagination.

As I looked at the broken wing, I thought of a recent devotion that I read written by Charles Swindoll.
The devotion was about how we all have skeletons in our closets.  We all have done something that we wouldn't want anyone to know about.  We all live with a past.  A lot of that past is covered by the sands of time.

We feel as if anyone finds out about our past that people wouldn't want to be a part of our life anymore.  That is not true.  Always remember, God used so many people in the Bible that had a past. Joseph had a prison record, but later became prime minister of Egypt.  Moses murdered someone and he delivered his nation from the slavery of Pharaoh.  Rahab was a harlot in Jericho, but God used her to rescue the Israelite spies.  There are so many more examples of how God used men and women that had a past.

Chuck Swindoll said "Mark it--when God forgives, He forgets.  He is not only willing but pleased to use any vessel--just as long as it is clean today.  It may be cracked or chipped.  It may be worn or it may have never been used before.  You can count on this--the past ended one second ago.  From this point onward, you can be clean, filled with His Spirit, and used in many different ways for His honor."

As you enjoy this new season, summer, remember that God has a plan for your life.  Something that you can't even comprehend.  Even with a broken wing, He can give you a new life.  Allow Him to use you in a mighty way!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Indy 500

As I got out of the car, I could hear the roaring of the race cars on the track.  People were rushing pass me to get to the gate to purchase their "Practice Ticket" to see the drivers as they began to qualify for the Indy 500.  This event is billed as the "Greatest Spectacular Racing".  It is considered part of the Triple Crown of Motorsports.

I can remember growing up in Texas and going to the car races on Friday night with my dad. The stands were always packed. The dirt from the racetrack would fly into the stands and the noise was so loud, you couldn't hear yourself think.

I had arrived in Indianapolis in the afternoon and I had decided that I would take Uber and head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  When I go to a new city, I always want to see a site that the city is known for.  To me, that site is the "Indianapolis Motor Speedway".

When I think of the Indy 500, I always think of the movie "Winning" with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner.  Paul Newman's character is a person who would do anything to win the Indianapolis 500 and that meant losing his family.  A lot of the movie was filmed at this racetrack.

As I paid my fee to get into the Speedway, I walked to the Museum.  This museum displays the history of racing and the various cars and race drivers of the Indy 500.  One of the major exhibitions is the "A.J. Foyt Exhibition".  A.J. Foyt was the 1st four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500s.  He won in 1961, 1964, 1967 & 1977.  The cars that he drove to win those races are displayed at the Museum.

The first Indy 500 was on May 30, 1911(Memorial Day). The track was in an open muddy field. There were forty cars in that race.  The winner was Ray Harroun and he won $25,000.  On that day, there were 80,000 spectators that attended this event.  People's love for car racing began on this track.

Before I left the museum, I had my picture taken in a race car.  I had to climb in and sit so low to the ground. I could almost feel the excitement that the drivers have as they slide into the car to begin the race.  Maybe one day I will get to drive a race car around a racing track.

As I left the museum, I headed towards the stand to watch the trials.  Even though, the race is almost a week away, the area was buzzing with vendors, participants and spectators.

After about an hour, I headed back to the hotel to begin to set-up for the Cosmetic Training Event, which was the next day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Where is Spring?

It has been several weeks since I last posted.  My life for the past three weeks has been filled with visiting family, celebrating my husband's 60th and finishing up Training Seminars for the Spring Season.

This past week Colorado received an abundance of snow.  Here it is the week after Mother's Day. This winter storm(which was named Valerie) dumped 40+ inches of snow in Colorado and Wyoming. It has been recorded as the heaviest late spring storm in 74 years.

What a contrast to see the white snow covering the green grass and colorful flowers.  After the storm, as I drove around I noticed so many tree limbs broken due to the heavy wet snow.  It is already warming up, the snow is melting and the grass is even greener(from the moisture) than it was a week ago.  I enjoyed my walk today as I looked upon the foothills to see the white snow in the distance.

I do hope this is the last snow until November!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Asking God Why

Today was a nice spring day!  The snow from Saturday has already melted and the grass is very lush and green from the moisture.

As I was looking through my photos today, I came across this picture of the yellow hibiscus that I took in Hawaii about a year ago.  Seeing that picture put a smile on my face.  I know that summer is right around the corner.

As I reflected on the various seasons, I thought about the seasons of my own life.  The roller coast of life.  There are those stormy days as well as those bright yellow sun shiny days.

The sermon on Sunday was the continuation of suffering.  The pastor stated "that we sometimes think that falling apart in the midst of suffering demonstrates a lack of faith--that those who trust God most fully won't feel hurt, depression, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness, anger or "Asking God Why".  In the Bible we see that God welcomes honest expressions of sorrow.  Expressing our sorrow and grief isn't a sign of unbelief.  It is a bold demonstration of faith in a God who welcomes us as we are."

The other day I read a story about a woman whose son was killed in a plane accident in 1947.  She just couldn't understand "why this accident happened".    A note from her son arrived a few days after his death.  He had written a note to his mother on a piece of paper he had picked up in the terminal. The paper was a piece of an advertisement with the single word "WHY"? written across the center. The son had written his note to his mother around the "WHY"?

We all have asked God, "Why".  Nothing can ever prepare us for moments when we are devastated from tragic news.

Remember Job.  He lost everything; his children, his livestock, his servants, etc.  He even broke out in boils.  Why?

God is all presence and all sovereign and He is always present!  Keep asking Him.  He is listening. God can handle everything for us.  He wants us to come before Him.

Such as Job, the mother stopped asking "WHY"? when she saw the "WHO"? behind all circumstances.

One day we will know.  Just trust Him.  You will see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Spring Snowstorm

This morning I woke up early.  A Spring snowstorm had brought snow to the area.  It was a delight to see the ground covered with about an inch of snow.

I sat in my chair and looked out into the wetland area.  Rabbits were enjoying the colder weather. The blackbirds were flying from one tree limb to the next, trying to keep warm. In the distance, I could see the mallard ducks in flight.

The surroundings were so peaceful.  I enjoyed the day by being at home and watching the huge white snowflakes fall from the sky.  By the end of the day, we had received about four inches of snow.

Today was a nice, relaxing day!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Recharging My Battery

It felt so good to be at home today.  I have been traveling non-stop for about six weeks.

Today was all about regrouping.  Getting caught up on reports, expenses, following up with people, unpacking, washing clothes, etc.

Even though it is the end of April, it is still cool outside.  This afternoon, I bundled up with my jacket and a cap.  As I step outside, I could smell the freshness of the air.  It had rained earlier today and I could see the moisture on the grass and rose bushes.

As I walked through the neighborhood, I could hear the doves cooing, the gold finches singing and flitting from one tree to the next.  Baby rabbits were hopping from one house to the next.  Dogs were barking and kids were playing outside.

Looking up into the sky, all I could see were the white, puffy formations of the clouds with the blue background.

After walking for about forty minutes, I felt recharged.  We forget that when we are busy and trying to accomplish a lot that our body, mind, emotions and spirit gets drained.  Before you get to that point, take some time for yourself.  That could be reading a book, taking a walk, having coffee with a friend or just being still.  I once read that "we cannot deliver the goods if our heart is heavier than the load."

Take some time and get your battery recharged!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Season of Suffering

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

As I think on this verse, I think about life and the many blessings that we all have as well as the suffering that we all go through.

Today's sermon was on the "Seasons of Suffering".  Suffering is everywhere and at times unavoidable.  I think about the people that I know and the suffering that has touched their lives. From battling cancer; chronic pain in their back; financial troubles; marriage problems/divorce; strained relationships with family members; death of a family member or a close friend; as well as being in a job where they are miserable.

There is nothing more certain in life than the fact that we are all going to suffer at some stage in our life.  As we are going through this suffering, we wonder if God really loves us?  How do we find hope when darkness hits us?

The chapter of Job discusses the suffering that he went through.  Job was a man of God and he was tested.  His life was filled with prestige, possessions and a wonderful family.  In a split second, he lost everything, his children, servants, livestock and home.  Job's testing of faith began.

Even Job's wife told him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity?  Curse God and die!".  Job's reply was "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?".  How true that statement is!

So often people tell us that we have done something wrong in our life or we are not walking with God or what can we do to change our situation?  We forget that our trials are what can bring us closer to God.  To trust Him with the the life that He created for us.

As we each go through suffering in our lives, I just want to encourage you to know that God is aware of your circumstance(s) and that He does have a plan even when we can't even understand or know what it is.

God is almighty!  He wants us to lay everything at His feet.  God will give us the wisdom that we need as we walk through the suffering.

Reflect on this verse:  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28  This does not mean that all that happens to us is good.  Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.

Enjoy this week that God has given you!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Springtime in Des Moines, Iowa

The past three weeks, I have traveled from Denver to Chicago, to Minneapolis, to Wisconsin, to Detroit, to Des Moines, and to Omaha.  I have flown in and out of seven airports, slept in six different hotels and I can't even remember how many different restaurants I have eaten at.

I have always enjoyed traveling and seeing new places.  I have seen many new sites in the past weeks, but one of the spectacular viewing was the Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa is located in the Midwestern United States.  It is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River on west.  It is known for its rolling plains and cornfields.  The population of the state is over three million.  One of the major landmarks of the state is the State Capitol located in Des Moines.

When I landed in Des Moines on Monday, the temperature was 75, sunny and low humidity.  It was a perfect day!  The hotel that I was staying in was about six blocks from the Capitol.

After setting up the room for training on the next day, I ventured out into the downtown area and soaked in the sun and the warmth.  My walk to the Capitol was very pleasant as I observed the paintings on the buildings, the quaint restaurants, the adorable boutiques and the lofts.

As I got closer to the Capitol grounds, I knew that this capitol was unique.  This is the only Capitol in the country that has five domes.  Most capitols only have one dome.  It was built from 1871 to 1886 and it covers 17 acres.  The grounds were covered with flowers and the blooming of the various ornamental trees.

Des Moines is a unique city located on the Des Moines River.  The population of this metro area(five counties) is approximately 600,000.  It is the number one spot of U.S. insurance companies.

Des Moines is an important city in U.S. Presidential politics.  As the state's capital, it is the site of the first caucuses of the presidential primary cycle.

On my bucket list, one of the items is seeing the fifty U.S. capitols.  I still have many more to see, but at least I was able to see the Des Moines Capitol in the spring time.  I was able to capture this view with the red bud trees in bloom.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Enjoying My Sunday!

Today was a quiet day of relaxing, walking and getting ready for a new week.

I was looking through photos that I had taken several years ago in New York.  This picture of the tulips in Central Park brought a smile to my face.

Sometimes it is the little things that gives us joy!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

This Is the Day!

As I woke up this morning and looked outside, I felt as if the weatherman had played an April Fool's joke on us.  Last night on the news, the weatherman said that when we woke up that we would have from 3 to 5 inches of snow on the ground.   A storm from the west was going to dump at least a foot of snow in the mountains and that the foothills would get at least 3 inches.

The morning began with frost on the roof and an overcast sky and no snow.

As I sat in my rocker and looked outside into the wetland area, a verse came to mind.  "This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalms 118:24

I felt led to text several friends with this verse, as well as these words:  "A great verse to say every morning, even though we may not feel like rejoicing.  Our mood is down, our situation is out of hand and our sorrow or guilt is overwhelming.  We can all relate.  Just be honest with God.  Talk with Him, let Him know how you feel.  God will bring to mind the things, situations, people...that give you a reason to rejoice.  Sometimes all we think about are the negatives and we can't escape from those thoughts.  God has given you this day to live and to serve Him.  Always remember, He has a plan for your life.  Keep rejoicing!  By rejoicing, the negatives will disappear."

God's timing is perfect!  I had several friends text me back and said I needed these words for today or how did you know?  I didn't know, but God did.

As we are still and listen, God will bring people and situations to mind.  Your words of encouragement could make all the difference to someone.  Enjoy each moment!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Celebration of Spring

Spring is a time for celebration.  Hopefully it is the end of winter storms and cold temperatures.

As I walked through Macy's, Herald Square, in New York City, the fragrance of blossoms and the vibrant colors are all around me.  The Flower Festival is being hosted on the first floor of Macy's for the next two weeks. This is the seventh year for this Flower Festival.

The theme of  "Carnival" is all around me.  The various flower arrangements cover the ticket booth, as well as the entrance into the "Midway". The carousel of animals, such as the rooster, rabbits and horses are represented throughout the store.  Flowers are in abundance!

The outside windows are landscaped with the various themes for spring.  One window represents, a merry-go-round.  The horses are layered with fresh flowers in colors of pink, red and white.  Another window says "Welcome to the Carnival" with a face of a clown with a bright red nose surrounded by yellow, red, purple and blue flowers.

The floral extravaganza is waking up my soul.  It reminds me that there is a new season to my life. Chuck Swindoll said "that we need to realize that the same Lord who renews the trees with buds and blossoms, who renews the grass with green in place of brown, is ready to renew your life with hope and courage."  As I read these words, I know that the valleys and mountains in my life are like the seasons.  Winter is over and spring is here to give you the encouragement and hope that you need to blossom.

Celebrate Life!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chrysler Building

Another beautiful icon in New York City!

I am enamored with the Chrysler Building, as I am with the Empire State Building.  When I think of NYC, these two buildings always come to mind.

The Chrysler Building is an art deco-style skyscraper located on the eastside of midtown NYC.  This building was constructed in 1928, two years before the Empire State Building.  The building is constructed of masonry, with a steel frame and metal cladding.  On the 31st floor, the corners of the building are replicas of the 1929 Chrysler radiator caps.

This unique architecture was the tallest building before the Empire State Building.  It is still the tallest brick building in the world with a steel structure.

The building was a project of Walter P. Chrysler for his children and not for the Chrysler Corporation. Walter Chrysler paid for the project personally so that his children could have this building.  He did use the building for Chrysler's headquarters until the mid-1950's.

At that time of construction, there was competition in NYC in who would build the world's tallest skyscraper.   The building was built at an average rate of four floors per week.  It amazes me how these men were able to build the tallest building at that time with the equipment that they had compared to what we have now, eighty-nine years later.  What is also amazing is that no workers died during the construction of this unique skyscraper.

At the time of completion on May 27, 1930, the added height of the spire allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest structure.

Another great building to visit when you are in New York City!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Empire State Building

Last week as I fly into La Guardia, I was able to see the Empire State Building from where I was seated on the plane.  I am always in awe of the Empire State Building.  This iconic landmark is in the middle of Manhattan.  As the taxi made its way into the city, the building was lit up white.

The building is always lit up for special occasions, such as red and green for Christmas; green for St. Patrick's day; red/white/blue for July 4th; blue for Hanukkah and etc.

Whenever I see the Empire State Building, I always think of the movies "An Affair to Remember", "Sleepless in Seattle" and "King Kong".  In "An Affair to Remember", Deborah Kerr told Cary Grant as they were setting up their reunion to meet, "The Empire State Building is the closest thing to heaven in this city".  In 1957 when this movie was produced, it was the tallest building in NYC.

Construction started on the building on March 17, 1930 and it opened on May 1, 1931.  It is a 102 story skyscraper located on Fifth Avenue.  There are 86 flights and 1,576 stairs to the first observatory.  The art deco throughout is something that everyone needs to see.

Several years ago, when I lived on Long Island and I would drive into the city, I always loved seeing this landmark.  I always wondered if the other drivers were amazed by this building as I was.

My hotel was directly across the street from the Empire State Building.  Every time that I walked out, I could look up and see this massive structure.

I didn't go to the observatory on this trip.  I have done it many times and  I have enjoyed the views during the day as well as during the night.  It is spectacular!  On a clear day, you can see at least 80 miles from every direction.

This is another must see when you are visiting New York!