I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
Today, I wanted to share something that I read which inspired me, especially during this difficult time for our country and world during the pandemic.
“Rather than focusing on the obstacle in your path, focus on the bridge over the obstacle.” -Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gymnastic Gold medalist, who also won two silver medals and two bronze medals in 1984
Life is good; find that bridge somehow somewhere today. Carpe Diem, friends.
Day two of my seven days of eating lavender. How could I go wrong with lavender honey ice cream? How could I EVER go wrong with ice cream? My daughter and husband now wonder out loud why we didn’t choose seven days of cinnamon.
I found a recipe that uses lavender with honey, so I elected to use orange honey, a local favorite here in Florida. How could I go wrong with orange honey either? Orange honey tastes a little sweeter than the regular clover honey which is what one normally thinks of when one thinks of honey. It is also a little more “floral” in taste.
Using heavy cream, whole milk, dried culinary lavender blossoms and honey in a pan on the stove until steaming, this is how I began the process. The recipe says to cool the mixture for one hour in the refrigerator after it is steaming, and the honey melts and to follow the instructions in one’s ice cream maker. At some point, I strained the lavender flowers from the mixture, too. My ice cream machine says to put cold ingredients into it before starting it up, so that’s what I did. I cooled the mixture much longer than an hour. I decided before I put the mixture into the ice cream maker that the muddy-colored default ice cream color simply would not do, so I added a few drops of neon purple food color before continuing after I strained the lavender out of the mixture. Lavender should be purple. One of life’s axioms perhaps.
After waiting with great anticipation, the ice cream started to freeze and began to take shape. After my first trial of a recipe using lavender yesterday (lavender-mint water), I was a bit skeptical, but the ice cream looked so appealing in the ice cream maker. Finally, the time came for me to try it……ready…get set……….go…..Smooth texture, appealing color but tastes like…….SOAP. I immediately reminded myself that the French word for “to wash” is “laver”. Sounds like lavender. Lavender is associated with WASHING, noteatingevidently, and for good reason.
After freezing the ice cream for many hours, I decided that it tasted a little better when it was colder. The texture was smooth and creamy, and I almost liked the flavor. ALMOST. I am wondering now if the hints of floral taste to the orange honey may have given it the strange after taste. Might try this again another time with standard clover honey instead……or….might NEVER try this recipe again.
All in all, it was fun to experiment with a new flavor. I have come to like expecting the unexpected.
Life is good………..find enjoyment in the unexpected today if you can. Carpe diem, friends.
Note to self: perhaps combining lavender with lemon tomorrow might do the trick! Luck with lavender and lemon……at least the alliteration is fabulous!
As you may recall, I purchased some Painted Lady caterpillars a while back as a diversion during the state “safer at home” orders during the pandemic. The caterpillars arrived along with their “muck in a cup” (or pre-made food).
After about ten to twelve days, the caterpillars crawled to the top of the cup in which they arrived and started to form the tell-tale sign that they were about to form pupae. The tell-tale sign that signals the beginning of this stage is seen when the caterpillars begin to look like the letter J, as they prepare to bundle up to make a case which is attached to the cup lid by a silk pad they have fabricated. After about twenty-four hours of hanging upside down, the caterpillar skin splits off and exposes a case or pupa.
Seven to ten days later, the painted lady breaks free from its pupa and metamorphisis has been completed. During this stage, the adult structures are formed, and finally the pupa has now turned into a butterfly that needs to dry his wings before he can fly.
Wings dry and harden after about twenty-four hours, and the butterfly continues his life for about two weeks during which the butterfly can travel up to one hundred miles a day at thirty miles per hour. The butterflies can mate around five to seven days after emerging from the cocoon, and the female can lay as many as approximately five hundred eggs in their short life time. Eggs are singly laid on a host plant, such as thistle, mallows, hollyhock, legumes, and others. Once the butterfly reaches the adult stage, their diet includes many nectar plants, such as blazing star, cosmos, New England aster, Joe-pye weed, Mexican sunflower, purple coneflower, and zinnias. They will visit other nectar plants, though, including red clover and milkweed, too.
In our home, when we woke up one morning to find that the first one of our pupae had hatched into a butterfly, there was a great deal of red exudate on the side of the net cage. This exudate is not blood, as many people think, but is meconium, which is waste products of their metamorphic activity.
Shortly after, a second butterfly emerged before we knew it, about a half hour later. We decided to watch the remaining pupae and actually had the good fortune of actually seeing a butterfly emerge from its pupa stage. It was a magic moment, watching life literally unfold before our eyes.
After giving the painted ladies some orange slices and sugar water on a cotton ball on dish in their cage, we decided to let them go free. It was yet another magic moment for us, as my daughter reached inside their cage, and the each butterfly crawled onto her hand in order to be released.
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” -E.B. White
If you are interested in raising butterflies, I would recommend you order a kit with pre-mixed painted lady food to start (“the muck in a cup”). Now that we’ve gotten the butterfly “bug”, we plan to raise butterflies from eggs to caterpillars, then caterpillars to pupae, then pupae to adult butterflies. Each type of butterfly needs a certain host plant to lay eggs upon, but there are often many nectar plants that they will eat from as adults.
Three valuable sources of information and supplies can be found at:
We have been busy gathering a few host plants and many nectar plants for containers around our yard and likely will try malachite butterfly eggs next.
” And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Life is good; find something new in some hidden spot that excites you. Carpe diem, friends………
I am always of the mindset that if we don’t like whatever situation we are in, or if we can’t change the situation, we must change our thinking. Changing our thinking puts our life back into our own hands and allows us a choice as to how we proceed. Self- isolating was (and is still) difficult while we cope with the pandemic, so I began to think of all the wonderful ways I could connect with others beyond my narrow little world in the last few months. I really enjoy reading, so I found an on-line book club which met weekly during the pandemic. Although I didn’t love the books we read, it was such a welcome break to speak with others on-line about a shared experience. Talk centered around the book, but also drifted from time to time to how everyone was feeling about the pandemic. Talk continued also about what our experiences were like, which stores were opening, what restaurants were closed, etc…as the United States began to re-open in the last month or so.
The link below contains a small list of on-line book clubs for avid readers that want a shared experience or wish to try something new:
I have found it helpful in my life to exercise my body, to exercise my mind, and to exercise my soul regularly to stay healthy and well, and during this pandemic it was no different.
Life is good; try out something new today to help you cope with the trials and tribulations of the pandemic. That’s been the beauty of the pandemic, if there is any. That is, we all have found new ways to re-connect with others and to what we may have enjoyed in the past. Find a way to change your thinking and come up with a new diversion, too.
Carpe diem, friends……..
(If you belong to an on-line book club, feel free to message me, and I’ll post a link for others to hear about it, too.)
-“The Bare Necessities” song sung by Baloo in “The Jungle Book”
For some reason, I thought about this song yesterday. It has been years since I’ve seen the movie, “The Jungle Book”, yet that song has stuck with me through the years. It’s application is universal and very timely. When I think about the song’s meaning for my own life I am constantly reminded about what’s really important to me. Time with family. Friends. God. Laughter. Health. Food for the mind. Food for the soul. Food for the body. Exercise. Free will. Freedom. Perhaps everything beyond that is a luxury, even certain brands of toilet paper, napkins, or paper towels in this pandemic. Certain brands of hand soap, too. All luxuries. The pandemic has taken us back a bit to examine what is really meaningful in our lives to help us get back to basics. For every drop of rain that falls, as it has been said, a flower really does grow……..
Life is good. Find and think about what your own bare necessities are if you haven’t already.
Lanterns have been used throughout the ages for many things. First and foremost they have been used to light up a dark area. They are the inspiration for many festivals around the world, especially in Asia. They remind us that the light they yield can bring us out of darkness, if we follow the light, both literally and figuratively. Finally, lanterns symbolize joy, celebration, good fortune, longevity, and protection (from evil.) Lanterns have also been associated most recently with knowledge, finding one’s way or helping another find his or her way, light over darkness (or good over evil), intelligence, and even truth.
It’s uncanny to me that “Teen Traveler”, my daughter, and I discovered by chance recently that we both had seen lanterns made out of cans independently and both wanted to make them some day. Someday is today, whenever I can make it so. To that end, we have been washing out cans from the vegetables we stocked up on for the pandemic. Seems as though we’ve been eating our fair share of canned green beans. Probably even more green beans then we ever wanted to eat. Probably even more green beans than we ever will eat again. That being said, we put some water in the washed cans and froze them overnight. This makes punching holes in the cans easier (and safer), as the can is less likely to roll when working on it.
After we decided on our designs, we put the can on a towel to prevent it from rolling while we were working on it and to catch the water as the ice melted. The internet is full of can lantern patterns, so we looked on the net for inspiration. Some people spray paint their cans afterwards, too.
With a hammer and a nail, we punched a hole through the pattern we taped onto the can. This project takes just a few minutes and yields a lot of fun when doing it together with someone. “Teen Traveler” makes me laugh so much that tears flow from my eyes, and this project was no exception. Ice from inside the can broke like an iceberg off a continent while we were hammering the nail, and the ice slid (and sometimes flew) out of the can. The pattern from the can became wet and disintegrated after a while. The project looked so easy to those that had gone before us to do this very same project. The more the project didn’t work out according to our plan, the more we laughed. Life isn’t perfect, as they say, and neither is this seemingly easy project. I am reminded of something Alan Alda, and American actor, once said he wished he had told his younger self years ago. That is, the need to “adapt, adjust, and revise.” We adapted the pattern we wanted to use. We adjusted the pattern we had chosen, as it was far more complicated than we originally imagined to accomplish. Finally, we revised our plan to fill the yard with a barrage of lanterns we would make and hang from the tree. Maybe just two is plenty, afterall….
I wanted to think of some clever poem or song about lanterns to provide us with some inspiration, but then decided that simply being together with my teen daughter doing something fun was inspiration enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is what it is, and what it is was beautiful.
Life is good; find a way to make something wonderful with someone you love today. Create beauty and recognize the beauty of the moment.
My daughter, “Teen Traveler”, and I used to have a lot of fun when she was little with the computer chair. On days where it was rainy, and we were stuck inside, I pushed her around in the wheeled computer chair through the living room, into the kitchen, then into the family room, along with some twirls and spins along the way. When she was a bit older (and stronger) we took turns pushing each other in the same manner, laughing again until our bellies hurt.
It has been a while since we did this, but the other day, “Teen Traveler” rolled me out from in front of the computer….into the living room, into the kitchen, then into the family room, along with some twirls and spins along the way, laughing and laughing as we went along.
I was recently thinking about how much we missed going to Walt Disney World while it is closed due to the pandemic. While I was laughing in the computer chair, an idea came to me. I have seen how some people have gone to great lengths creating Disney World in their own homes during the pandemic, so I wondered how we could make a fake “Buzz Light Year” – type ride. I got off the computer chair and went into my daughter’s room to get our old supply of nerf guns, ammo, and tactical vests. You can imagine her watch me, wondering what I was up to. Even the look on her face made me laugh. Yet, just minutes later, she completely understood what I had in mind and let me know with her twinkling eyes (and her glimmering smile). Before long, we were donning our tactical vests, loading our guns with ammo and re-filling our ammo pouches. Not too long after that, we were busy making bulls-eye type targets to hang around the house. Game ON! I loaded Teen Traveler into the computer chair, both of us still laughing, and slowly moved her out of the computer room into the living room, spinning her a few times, watching her try to hit the targets we had taped on the walls. We kept score, and she is evidently quite a marksman, EVEN when trying to hit a target while moving. My “Lara Croft”.
Next was my turn. Armed with my tactical vest and belt, I was poised to beat the record. Game ON again! Ready……set…..GO! Of course my daughter turned and twirled me in my chair every single chance she could, and I was already dizzy before we even started. Try as I may, I can not beat my daughter’s score, but we had such a fun time. NOT “Lara Croft Mom”.
Life is good. Try to connect with those you love in ways you haven’t connected in some time. Find the fun. Look for a way to laugh ’til your belly hurts today.