Monday, August 25, 2014

Finding Happiness...

I've recently returned from a hectic trip to Italy to explore and embrace the history and culture.  This is a major trip for my son who has been dreaming of Italy since he became obsessed with Rome and Greek history.  For me it was more about the food and sights, but you know... to each his own.  We combined both.  The food was amazing and since returning (we're still suffering from jet lag), I've found myself totally uninspired by my cooking.  I literally stood (half asleep) in the grocery store aisles and found myself unable to grocery shop.  I didn't feel inspired anymore.  I need to do more of that.  However, this post isn't about my culinary tastes, it's simply about the book I picked up while standing in the book store at the airport looking for some light reading on my trip.  I wanted something light, literally since dragged luggage around during our 3 city tour was not my idea of fun. 
When I spotted this book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I remembered a review I'd read a while ago praising it's virtues and since it was part of my plan to begin focusing on myself for the next little while I picked it up.  Couldn't hurt I decided. 
At any rate, I finished it before I returned - lots of wait time in airports and train terminals helped with that.  I was mid-way through when my son and I landed in Florence mid-trip.  A discussion broke out and remembering something I read in the book I decided not to interrupt and simply keeps my thoughts and opinions to myself and let my son get some things off his chest.  This was very difficult as he informed me of things that are hard for a mother to hear.  Apparently, I'm not winning any mother of the year award even with this trip to Italy (paid for entirely by me I might add).  But I listened and while I fumed about his short sightedness and felt unappreciated, I had to admit rather begrudgingly that he had a point.  I've been so focused these last few years on some rather major issues (such as the sudden death of mother, my father's battle with ALS and being the prime caregiver in my home, career stress and other health problems for both him and myself, and the dog for that matter that I really hadn't been thinking about how this was affecting him.   Actually that's not entirely true - the trip to Italy was my attempt at trying to repair the damage and make it up to  him - but I had been so distracted for the last few years... it wasn't easy to hear let's just say that.
At any rate, after this discussion, I decided to start my own Happiness Project and see where it takes me.  While this book is a few years old now (I'm so behind the times) I do recommend it.  Having read the book I'm just beginning my research phase so I'm really not there yet, but I'm starting with this post.  It seems like more of a pledge to myself this way I guess.  I don't have the budget she has or the time to do as much in-depth research, but we'll see where this leads me.
Oh yeah, more on Italy after I sort through the thousands of pictures that I took - I need to remove some things from my computer in order to download them from my camera.  Yeah, I went a bit crazy with the new camera.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Finally Did It

It's taken me over a year since my dad's passing to finally organize and clean up the house.  The ramp and other large equipment was donated to a firefighter with MS (feels good to know this stuff is needed and appreciated).  The many items we cleared out of my parents home after my mother died has been sorted through and put away or packed and donated to the Cerebral Palsy Association.  I can finally put my car in the garage again.  However, there is still so much to do.  The rugs need to be cleaned or replaced, the garage door was damaged and needs to be replaced, and there are a million other small things to do.  All of which cost money.  However, they can wait.  I'm busying organizing for a trip which I'm really looking forward to but also looking forward to a more relaxed pace after we get back just as much.  Without an extensive to do list whatever will I do with myself?  Begin taking care of myself.  That's the plan - for once my life comes first. 

OK this isn't my panty - I actually don't have room for one.  However, it's my inspiration.  I'm planning a slower second weeding out as I work to simplify my life and keep only what we love, need.... or can't afford to get replace at the moment.
When I search for inspiration, I use the images as a guidepost.  Would whoever owns this wonderful room have this in his/her home?  That sort of thing.  Do I care about this so much that I don't care if they would have it or not because it's ME?  You get the idea.  That's the plan and I have lots of inspiration to work with.  And, I'm taking my time since I now see this as a lifestyle change.  My son won't know what hit him.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Clean and Simple are my new words

Love these rooms from Greige Design .  I suddenly feel claustrophobic in my little house.  I really need to de-clutter.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What a Great Idea...

I love this idea.  For someone who loves fresh flowers this is so right for me.  I didn't find it first however, Life in Aventi Cup beat me to it.  I don't watch Shark Tank - in fact I boycott all reality TV.  It's not always my idea of entertainment and some of the formats are just sad and depressing to watch.  Seriously, Big Brother - who needs to watch a bunch of people making idiots of themselves.  Not my cup of tea.  However, some great things have come out of these shows - I begrudgingly have to admit. (Not many).  The Bouqs Co.  sounds like they've got a great thing going.  Fresh flowers from an eco-friendly farm sitting on a active volcano - brave.  But I've heard flowers grow beautifully in the soil and these examples don't let you down.  I wish them all the best.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Whatever Happened to Aging Gracefully

In anticipation of an upcoming trip, I decided that I needed something appropriate to wear while visiting the churches in Italy.  I haven't purchased any clothes in well over a year and decided it was time.  What a shock to my system.  I knew I was gaining weight when my dad was dying but he was my priority and taking care of myself wasn't something I was thinking about.  But seeing myself in the awful lighting with full length 3 way mirrors reflecting me from every angle was horrifying.  Had I really gained that much weight? - a trip to my scales upon arriving home confirmed it.  I knew I'd let myself go but this couldn't be.  Had I really aged that much?  A good look in the mirror for the first time in years confirmed that yes I had.  Where had all those spots and wrinkles come from.  Why was my face looking so puffy?  When did everything start sagging so much? 

Truth be told I haven't been taking care of myself for years.  There was always someone else to take care of.  But now after this thorough self-examination I have to admit that something must be done.  I'm in my mid-fifties and hoping it's not too late.  The irony of it all is that I'd promised myself that I would make my fifties the best time of my life and really focus on taking care of myself.  I lost 25 lbs. without much effort - then my mother died before my 51st birthday and the nightmare began.  I've been steadily gaining weight ever since then.  While I've read that stress can really age a woman, I'm can confirm that this is a fact as I'm looking in the mirror at living proof.  So as soon as I return from my upcoming trip serious new lifestyle changes are going to be kicked into gear and self-discipline will be needed.  

In the meantime, I'm looking for older inspiration.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Update - Enjoying life in Utah

Thought I would update my blog so you don't think I've dropped off the planet. 

My father always wanted to be a cowboy.  We literally grew up on John Wayne westerns and he had quite a library of western novels and movies (which I still have no idea what to do with).  At any rate my dad's final wish (besides dying at home) was a trip out west.  Unfortunately, by the time the weather was nice enough his health had deteriorated to the point where travelling without a nurse was out of the question and although we researched this possibility the expense was too great.  By then we realized how much home care was going to cost us and had no idea how long this would go on.  We promised that he would go one way or the other and we made arrangements to scatter they're ashes on the property of some friends we made while out there.  Hence, Utah. 

I discovered a real thing for these drift wood like trees out there framing scenery.  You don't realize how many shots you have until your sorting through hundreds of photos when you get back.  We're trying to weed it down to create a book for our kids but it's really hard when you're dealing with over 500 pictures.  These are just a few of the highlights.
We rented a car to travel around a bit and I suddenly had a better appreciation for my dad driving with a car and trailer pushing him from behind on twisting winding roads.  I didn't have a trailer, but winds really can whip you around out here.  Hence tumbleweeds.
Hogan Trading Company in Moab, Utah - the best place for stunning original pieces.  We shopped here four times and bought something every time we were in there.  There is just so much to see. 
I so wanted one of these but there is only so much you can buy when you're flying home.
I loved this vase but really couldn't afford it - I ended up buying a considerably smaller version and when I got home and saw how beautiful it looked wished I bought a couple more.  Ah well, live and learn.
Of course turquoise jewelry is a must and there are so many semi-precious stones used in these works of art.  This traditional color is actually harder to come by now since they found gold in the mines and it took precedence.  And naturally the prices go up.
So - I went with opals - my bracelet is the fifth one from the left.  I was looking to match a necklace and earrings set I already own at home.  I also purchased a turquoise pendant similar to the green one on the shelf above along with earrings to match. 
We chose to stay in Moab because it's centrally located to some of the best parks in the area and we visited them all. 
Park Avenue in Arches National Park.
We spent an entire day here and came no where close to seeing it all.  Hiking in 90 degree weather isn't easy.  We did some hiking but quickly discovered the rule of hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Just a short hike to some of the sites left us parched.  I can't recommend it enough though.  Its worth it if you're into hiking and in good shape.
Never tire of the mountains in the background. This area is just amazing.
Traveling along beside the Red River.  See, the mountains in the background never gets old.
On the other side of Dead Horse Point - just ask Thelma and Louis about this area.  Apparently the last I heard the car is still down there.  They couldn't get to it.  It was here that my fear of heights kicked in - that wall in front of me came to the tops of my knees.  I had to get down to take this photo since it felt like I was going to be blown over the edge.  My sister thought I looked hilarious trying plant myself to take pictures so that I didn't lose my balance.  The rich blue is a potash facility.  Blue dye, similar to food coloring, is added to the evaporation pond brines, to aid in absorption of sunlight, hence the rich turquoise blue shade.
Actual Dead Horse Point - the history of this is sad.  Someone had corralled wild horses out on the point here and the then disappeared.  They died so close to the water but unable to get to it.  The road you see there is for off roaders.  Trust me I wasn't brave enough for this - you'll see why below.  A lot of these roads were created by miners during the Uranium mine heyday.
Canyonlands National Park - one of my favorite places.
Seriously - I have a thing for these trees.  I also discovered the need for lens hoods here as the sun really washes out some of the photos.
The road down in the canyons - sorry no pictures - I just wasn't brave enough.  But the adventurous person would love this - so many camp and hike through there.  My sister's bad back and a lack of time was our excuse - and we're sticking to it.
Petroglyphs are right beside the road way - you don't even have to walk to these.
We drove pass twice before we saw the sign and stopped, then couldn't spot them.  My sister's eagle eye finally found them and suddenly we saw them everywhere.  Helps if you know what you're looking for.
We decided to follow the GPS home and it ended up taking us back through the mountain range on our way to Salt Lake City.  Believe it or not this shot is taken up in the mountains just before the snow line and across the valley to the other mountain range on the other side.  That's my arm in the shot but trust me it's a twisting winding highway with trucks following close behind.  Stopping to take pictures wasn't an option so we just drove through - both hands on the wheel and my foot hovering over the brake on the downgrades.  It would have to be my turn to drive.
Flying home over the mountains - that's Salt Lake City down there - you can just make out the Salt Lake on the horizon.  Yes those are the mountains I drove through.  We ran out of time to visit this and the Morman Tabernacle on Temple Square in Utah.  Sorry we missed it, but flights won't wait just so you can fit in your itinerary. 
A closer shot of the Salt Lake from the air.  I think I like this perspective anyway.
 So enough photo's for now.  Since this trip I've been very busy getting rid of all the medical equipment and the ramp we had for my dad.  We ended up donating it to a young firefighter who has developed MS.   So sad, but it's nice to know someone will get good use of it. 
Note to caregivers:  It's expensive and we used up so much of my dad's money from the sale of the house on his care.  However, what caught me off guard was the expense of putting my house back into order.  It cost more than we thought and a large junk of my inheritance went towards this.  I'd do it all over again.  But keep that factor in mind if you're considering it and sorting out your budgets. 
We're now in the process of clearing out the garage and basement which became storage areas during this time.  I need it in order before we leave on our next holiday in August - the last of my inheritance.  This will give you a hint - Ciao for now.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

So Long

We'll 'I'm off on vacation for awhile to the Southwest.  A recent health scare - this time my own has forced me to take a much needed break.  It's also forced me to face a number of lifestyle changes. It's time I guess since I've been burning the candle at both ends for far too long.  Too much stress I guess.  So I'm disappearing for awhile as I put new changes in place in my life.  However, first a much needed vacation to get away from it all and get some perspective. Long overdue. 

Thanks for your patience and understanding. 

Looking for a new Colour

I like this new colour for pedicures this summer.  I think I need to get some colour first though.  The Beauty Look Book never let's me down and seeing it on someone helps tremendously when trying to make a decision.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Shopping with Garance

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't checked out her site recently - somehow it appears to have come off my favourites list.  Something I will correct immediately.  At any rate, I discovered a new feature - SHOP.  Needless to say that caught my eye right away and I checked it out.  Here are just some of my favourites available.

Cool note books

A body oil that sounds delicious

Spring garden scent
Something I think I need to try this weekend.

Preparing for the upcoming summer


TO DO lists - a must for someone like me.

Love this bag from  Yves Saint Laurent - Might be a bit small for me but I carry too much stuff around all week anyway.  Maybe as a weekend bag.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Spent the afternoon in a hospital gown.  I could use some serious glamour right about now.



This and next few images townhouse of Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick

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