Happy St. Patrick’s Day from CHICAGO!

8BF7374E-9223-490E-B952-5BC3D488D751For those of you not in Chicago, you can see we take St. Patrick’s Day very seriously! Every year, they turn the river green. It’s a site to see!

I wanted to share with you some photos of the river from different angles. We were lucky and had wonderful weather. Fun to see people dressed in green. The Irish are a lively bunch.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Exercise, going to the gym… WHY do I resist?

0F0940F2-A9CB-46EC-915C-1EBB132D0C60For over a week, I have resisted going to the gym. I enjoy exercise when I am outside, walking/hiking, I love the fresh air. BUT going to the gym, just hearing the word “gym” makes me resist. Every day, I have good intentions; yet, fail to follow through.

Why? I dislike the extra work of carrying a gym bag, getting there, changing clothes. You see, I am exhausted thinking of this. If it is in the morning and I need to shower, then I have the added stuff (makeup, deoderant (heaven forbid I forget that), work clothes, work shoes) that I need to carry, it gets heavy. At night, if I go home and THINK I will go to the gym after I eat dinner — that does not happen.

Yesterday, I beat myself up over this. I had the self talk conversation in my mind saying, “STOP with the nonsense, get to the gym.”

I’ve been tired lately, so the rebuttle from the “other side” of my brain was being lazy. Take it easy, rest today, go tomorrow. I started to fight those negative thoughts.

As I was deciding which way I would go, my daughter sent me a text, it said, “Look what is on TV at the gym, it’s Brunetti!”

WHAT?? I SMILED REALLY BIG, not CNN, not ESPN, but MHz! Donna Leon’s books have been turned into a mini-series, and “Inspector Brunetti” was on the television.

THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER. I could work out while watching an Italian detective show that takes place in Venice!

Suddenly, my brain did a switch over. Amazing, my mind was “now focused” on the positive aspect of exercising (Inspector Brunetti), which made me forget about the drudgery of carrying my gym bag.

Hallelujah, a major break through!

Hello gym, here I come…

Travel Tour websites… Why go it alone?

Egypt Rock TempleA girlfriend of mine is going to Italy in May and was looking up travel tours. I’ve never done a travel tour… OOPs, I take that back. My mother found a 10 day river cruise in Egypt that we went on. It was a FABULOUS trip. A travel package was critical in seeing all of the different sites. We needed a tour guide, he gave us the history behind the Abu Simbel Temples, Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx — there was so much to see. Incredible!

Other than that, I’ve normally gone on a trip and done my own planning. Why? Well, I don’t enjoy being on a constant schedule. If I am on a vacation, I want to relax a bit.

However, trips/tours make life easy, especially when the package is all inclusive (airfare, hotel, transportation), it takes the stress out of planning.

I came across these travel websites that were interesting.

horse riding tour

In The Saddle – This is a tour group that specializes in horseback riding holidays. Wow, right. I know, you’re wondering if I am an accomplished rider. No, but I found their trips interesting and adventurous. Check them out. I might have a sore bottom, but it would be worth it for a different type of adventure.

AdventureWomen – For 35 years, they have been focusing on unique adventure tours for active women. This is great, because in the past there were places that women could not travel alone (i.e. Botswana, Russia, Morocco, India, etc.), or if they did, it was at their own risk. If you are a woman, you’ll enjoy this website.

GROUPON Getaways – A girlfriend speaks highly of their travel packages. She bought a trip to Ireland through them. She said the hotel in different locations was great, they had a rental car, it was a good deal, everything went smoothly, hard to pass up.

Global Drifters – A new site I came across through their Blog. Clicking here and there, I found their travel packages. They are a younger company, visit and see what you think. Their tag line, “Not a Vacation, but an Experience.” They offer small group tours for the independent traveler.

Can you tell I am getting Spring fever?

Anyone open for a horse riding tour? Mongolia, to see the Eagle Festival? Bhutan maybe or back to Italy?

Hoping winter is coming to an end. It’s time for an adventure somewhere in the world!

Ash Wednesday… What are you doing for Lent?

E17412B4-8286-49D9-8DC5-DF802C4B0E86Yesterday, while at the coffee shop, a young man came and sat next to me. I looked over and thought, “I should tell him he has some black dirt on his forehead.” As I was contemplating how to politely reveal this to him, I remembered it was Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

So, I smiled and said, “Oh, it looks like you stopped by church.”

To which he replied, “Actually, at the University there was a booth and I was able to  stop by there without going to church.”

Interesting, so the Catholic church was making it easier to participate in Ash Wednesday by setting up a booth, knowing that people have busy schedules. Good idea!

Next, I noticed that he had this small journal that he was writing in. I couldn’t help it, I had to comment. It was so small it made me think he was a spy or a writer taking field notes.

So, I said, “I love your small journal, might I ask what you are using it for?”

He said, “I bought it for Lent, I’m going to use it as my daily GRATITUDE journal.”

What a great idea! Most people give something up for Lent and they preface it with “I’m going to TRY and give sweets up, etc.” To me, if you are using the word “try” than you have already failed.

I told this fellow, I liked his gratitude journal much better. I believe in the power of positivity.

He smiled, I smiled, and we wished each other a wonderful day!

It is Lent, I am grateful for meeting this young man who brought “joy” to my day.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday breakfast… waffles, pancakes, bacon and more

My daughter came home the other day and said, “Mama, look what I found.” I thought it would be a new pair of shoes or shirt, but it was this tiny waffle maker made by DASH. When we see “things” our mind immediately “thinks.”

My first thought was of Kellogg’s TV commercial for frozen waffles, where two siblings go to grab the round Eggo waffle that pops out of the toaster and they say in unison, “L’Eggo my Eggo.” This tag line for selling Eggo waffles was clever, such a great jingle to it.

0573D978-799D-4F5A-9F92-367D32AE67A3My second thought was of Sunday mornings when I was a child. If my mom said, “get out the griddle,” we knew we were having a breakfast feast. I have three siblings, so we would all do something. One would get the griddle, one would start to set the table, one would get the bacon and help make the pancake batter. Team work was key, we worked together as a finely oiled machine. Soon breakfast was ready!

The worst was when we were ready to eat breakfast and we heard my mother say, “ONE OF YOU has to get your father’s newspaper!”

At this moment, it was not team work, it was “it’s your turn, not mine.” My mother would say, “if you keep arguing, the food will get cold.”

Suddenly, silence. One of us would reluctantly say, “Ok, I’ll go.”

Ah… childhood memories!

So, that little waffle machine made me smile. We have gone from a big griddle for six people down to a small waffle machine meant for “one.” However, breakfast would still be honored… just in a small way.

Tradition, it goes from big to small and hopefully, back to a big celebration again!

Chicago: Below zero temperatures, Polar Bear was happy at the zoo

4EDAB912-2017-4E62-BC73-BA2875FD89F2This has been a COLD winter in Chicago. In the 20s Fahrenheit, not bad, but below zero temperatures are tough. For those of you who have never experienced below zero wind shield factors, I can tell you that your eyeballs hurt. I highly recommend staying in your warm climate and visiting Chicago in the Spring or Summer.

Yesterday, I took a walk at the zoo. I got a great photo of this polar bear swimming. I believe this was the female, the male was much larger and grumpy. She was trying to coax him into swimming, but he was not interested, so she had the pool to herself.

Here you see the BIG SPLASH when she dove in. Then she was swimming toward me, did her swimmer’s flip, turned around and re-circled the pool. After all this exercise, I could tell she was going to sleep very well.

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Next, I saw the penguins. These three were charming. Looked like a child trying to convince his Mom/Dad to let him go out and adventure, the father saying, “ABSOLUTELY NOT, and the mother winking to the child and working her magic on the father to let the child go.”

I must tell you, penguins do waddle in a very cute way. I also noticed that they each have a “distinct” waddle and some jump a lot while they walk, others do not.

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Finally, the lion. He was out. I went inside the lion building and it was SO HOT, I think he must have come outside to “cool off” from the unbearable heat inside.

I hope this makes you smile!

It’s March, the birds are chirping, Spring is ALMOST here!

Puzzles, brain teasers, word mazes, crosswords, and more…

Puzzle book 1I was looking at books, nothing in particular just “seeing” what was out there. As it was Sunday, I saw some people doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. I’m not good at crossword puzzles, I never seem to know the answers to the cryptic clues they give. Out of 50, I might get five right, which is very disappointing. I always give up.

Maybe, because I was thinking of crosswords, when I went to the books in the sale isle, I came across this “Puzzle Collection” book. Normally, I would give it a glance, nothing more. I saw the dreaded crossword picture on the front cover, but the words “puzzle collection,” caught my attention. I love puzzles. Both the physical ones you put together and the ones where you have to use your mind. So, I slowly took a peek in the book hoping it was more than word mazes, crosswords and sudoku.

I was not disappointed. In fact, as I was flipping through it, I got excited. The book had all sorts of interesting challenges. Lately, I have long boring train rides, this book would keep me busy.

Take a look, this was a fun one, “INTERNATIONAL SPY TRAVELER?!” I was on board with that. I felt like I was becoming “James Bond’s” travel agent.

Puzzle book 2

Then there was this one.

Puzzle Book 3

I have to say, “I was hooked!” Had to get this book. Better than crosswords, for me anyhow.

THEN I thought, I’ll get so engrossed in a puzzle that I will miss my stop to go home! If I took Amtrak, I could end up in San Francisco or New York. The book was worth the risk!

It’s good to challenge our minds.