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Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to....well, Smell, A Lot Like Christmas!

Frigid, frigid temperatures, but no sign of a white Christmas here for us ~ at least not in the official can always hope for that Christmas Eve miracle. It has happened before! However, after a day filled with holiday baking, it is beginning to "smell" like Christmas...warm, sugary, sweet - no doubt we will have visions of sugar plums tonight as we slumber! :-)

Favorite new recipe this year is a white chocolate and cranberry shortbread ~ absolutely melts in your mouth and is much too addicting. Must give some away soon!! LOL!

Just finished up a batch of sugar cookies, and now Hannah is taking over the kitchen with plans for us to move on to the traditional pressed cookies - musn't forget those! Tomorrow will be the Weinacht Stollen and Buche de Noel (shh! surprise for Grandpa!) - we're heading over to Sarah's larger kitchen for those projects!

In between batches, I'm catching a favorite flick - one I can't believe I left off "The LIST" (and will remedy immediately!!) -- "The American President" -- ahh, yes, a little romance! :-)

Shop is "closed" for the holidays - reopening on January 5th - but if you are a local friend of SignatureSterling - feel free to email me or give me a call if you're looking for something. I'll be happy to have you stop by and take a peek.

Peace and joy to you and yours this holiday season...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Birthday Girls" :-)

My birthday was yesterday and Gram, the "spring chicken" (!) will be 98 on Saturday!

A Birthday Reflection

Andrew will be celebrating his 23rd birthday on January 3rd ~ in Tanzania, of course ~ and I've asked friends and family to help us "celebrate" by sending me birthday cards to forward to him (don't worry - he doesn't "check in" here very often so I'm not thinking that I'll be letting the cat out of the bag) :-).... Just received the most wonderful note today from Ellen that she asked me to print off and send off to him ~ and as I read it, just one day after my "big day," I couldn't help but be called to reflect myself....thanks, Ellen!

Andrew, Who would have thought when you were celebrating all those birthdays as a kid that someday you would be celebrating your 23rd birthday in Tanzania??? We are enjoying following you on this adventure that will impact you for ever! I am passing on a birthday reflection written by a Joyce Rupp, a Des Moines Catholic Sister of Mercy. Happy Birthday on this special day!!! Your cousin, Ellen

A Birthday Reflection
I look back upon the past year, through the many ups and downs, and I gather my significant memories-people, events, inner stirrings,dreams, jolts, joys, heartaches, etc.-all that touched my life in any sort of special way.

As I look over my year:
I am especially grateful for... the love and support of family and friends.
I am amazed at... my inner peace and strength.
I am puzzled by... difficult lessons and challenges.
I wish that... I might have found that strength and peace sooner.

As I look toward the coming year:
I long for... a purpose-filled life of love, calling, peace, and joy.
I hope that... my family and friends continue to share and grow with me in the journey ahead.
I trust... that next steps are clear, positive, and grounded in who I am.
I promise... to live the life I am called to live.
I ask... for God's direction as I step out in faith.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

MY 50...

It is the eve of my birthday week ~ yes, THE birthday week. Growing up, I was "blessed" (although I don't recall it as a blessing at the time) of being the youngest in my class, in my fact, still being 17 when I left for college, I didn't turn 18 as you can see until almost the end of my first semester there ~ again, not a "blessing" in my mind at the time! LOL!

Now, obviously, ahh - the wisdom of the "ages" - I realize that age is relative...and becomes more relative the older one gets! :-) Of course, this is something I am especially reinforcing in my mind as I begin this week ~ "age is relative" should perhaps be my mantra this week?

But, as I was thinking of that "relative number," I also started to think about the blessings, joy, peace, and happiness that surround me now ~ AND what may still lie ahead for me....what do I still want to do in the next ...(insert "relative number" here)....years. The idea of a list intrigued me, and of course, the internet did not fail me!

Yes, there is a website that can help ~ "My 50 Things to Do in My Lifetime" is a site specifically designed for creating such a list. It is complete with links of sample lists to peruse, suggested places to visit, things to do, books to read, quotes and motivational ideas, others' goals.....lots of "fuel for the fire." I know I'm going to enjoy "playing" with it this week. :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The New York Snowman Returns...

The tree is up and is awaiting decorating. If you have been a "follower" of this blog for some time, then you already know the "Tale of the New York Snowman" ~ but for those of you who may have joined us more recently, I've decided to re-post (at the risk of "spilling the beans" on my true "non-creative" roots! LOL!). Of course, this year the New York Snowman journeys a new home with the not-so "little girl" as she begins a new life on her own again.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a little girl who was a "Bluebird" (the CampFire Girls version of "Brownies" for those Girl Scouts out there). One day, at a December Bluebird meeting, the little girl's troop leader announced that they would be making snowmen to decorate their Christmas trees. The little girl clapped her hands with delight as she loved to craft, even though through the years to come many art teachers would tell the little girl she was artistically-challenged.

As the little girl and her friends gathered around the large wooden work table, filled with a delightful assortment of colorful supplies, she could feel the excitement and energy of what must be the artistic muse filling the room. Dozens of hands reached across the table through scattered lace, sequins, styrofoam, and pipe cleaners, everyone laying claim to the perfect pieces for their own snowman sculpture. But, the little girl had a different idea has she quietly scooped up two lone gray styrofoam balls, pinned them together with paper clips, and began adding scraps of red and white lace and netting, pipe cleaners, and sequins to her creation. As she neared completion, the troop leader suddenly took notice and asked, "Why, dear, here, we still have some regular styrofoam balls left. Don't you want to use them?" "No, " replied the little girl, quietly, still gluing and positioning her lace, "this is the snowman I want to make." The troop leader continued, "But it's gray." "I know," answered the little girl, and simply smiled as she finished gluing the final piece of lace into place.

The little girl took her snowman home that night and hung it on the highest branch that she could reach of the family Christmas tree. Her mother smiled and told her it was a wonderful snowman, but it was her father that gave it the name that has lasted all these years. He took a very long look at the gray snowman and said, "Oh, I get it - it's a New York snowman!" And he laughed a very long time. The little girl didn't understand at the time why he was laughing, but she was glad that the snowman made her father happy.

Over the years, the New York Snowman always came to have a place of honor on the family Christmas tree, and yes, as the little girl grew there came a time that she did understand why her father laughed and gave the snowman its name. She laughed with him as she thought of pure white snow made dirty by the exhaust and travel of city traffic.

And then one year, her first year alone at Christmas and many, many miles away from family, the little girl received a package. Inside was a carefully wrapped bundle with a note in her father's handwriting ~ "It's time for him to go on your tree now." The New York Snowman had come home to the little girl.

The little girl has grown up, married, and has a growing family of her own now. Yet, every Christmas, one of the very first ornaments still placed on her tree, in a place of honor, with heartfelt memories of what it means to create with love, to share with family through the years, is the New York Snowman. May your holiday decorating be filled with love and sharing!

~Post Script #1....the "little girl" has just now noticed that New York Snowman is "Scarlet and Gray"! How fitting ~ GO BUCKS!

~Post Script #2...when the "little girl" made this "Scarlet and Gray" New York Snowman, she was living in Michigan ~ how ironic!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Snow

It's snowing! Our first one ~ and it's not a wimpy, spitting, oh, let me thing about it, maybe I'll just be a flurry's that beautiful puffy, floating - you're in the middle of a snow globe - snow...I could sit here curled up on the sofa and watch it all afternoon. Well, at least until halftime's over 8-) - GO BUCKS!

The "muse" was working overtime last night, and I've gotten a couple of the new items listed in the shop ~ still a couple more to list.

~ Scarlet and Gray Elegance Earrings

~ White Ice Earrings

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feeling Blue? This Will Make You Smile!

Here's one of the latest shop listings ~ "Feeling Blue? Necklace," a deep blue "chunky yet classic" look with nuggets of sodalite and rounds of lapis lazuli and sodalite...and sterling silver, naturally! Added "bonus" is in knowing that the gemstones sodalite and lapis lazuli are associated with the natural properties of inner peace, healing, and love ~ now that will bring a smile to your face!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

O, what a night!

Well, the "pundits" aren't quite ready to "call" it, but I will and yes, "O, what a night it is!" as we see the election of Barack Obama as our next President.

Hannah, who just returned from an election party held at school, has been following the entire election closely with me this year, and we do share pretty much the same viewpoints on most issues, including our readiness for change and delight with the election outcome. As I see her youth and enthusiasm, and reflect on the impact of the importance of this night to our country, I have "memory flashes" of other moments from my younger life ~ JFK's assassination (I was only 4 and could only fathom that my favorite cartoon show was being interrupted); the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy - I was older then and more aware of what we were losing, what was at stake, yet not quite not old enough to completely take it all in; and then late in the evening of June 5, 1976, our high school choir (some of us just having graduated from high school) found ourselves standing near the Lincoln Memorial (in D.C. for a choir competition) and gave a short impromtu concert for a small crowd, ending with "Abraham, Martin, and John" ("has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham? can you tell me where he's gone? Freed a lot people, but it seems the good die young...") - an older woman in the crowd came up to our director afterwards with tears in her eyes and said, "Thank you, do you realize that today is the 8th anniversary of RFK's death?" Of course, none of us had, but again, we were called to reflect on where we were standing and who had gone before us.

Tonight is one of those "life" moments for all of us - not just here in the states - but across the world. We are embracing and celebrating a change, a new world that clearly moves us forward in a direction, though perhaps uncharted, can only be seen as positive, exciting, and historically shifting for all. Take a breath, breathe in and out, and remember where you are this night. O, what a night.

Friday, October 31, 2008

FALL INTO COLORS ~ The Rest of the Story...

These gorgeous creations are worth the wait, I are more challenge pieces from the ABSTEAM's (Artisan Beaders Street Team) "Fall into Colors" October color palette challenge.

First, from Lee of AbeleesHandcrafted are these beautiful autumn earrings using a "Fall Orchard" palette.
And, I think you'll agree that the chainmaille handiwork on this necklace by Meri of Merigreenleaf is absolutely awesome!

Nicole, of Beadwright, shows her intricate artisan design skills and handiwork ~ amazingly beautiful ~ with this necklace, truly fit for a goddess!

Speaking of detail work, check out these "yummy" APPLE SPICE (what a great name!) earrings from Donna of Creative Treasures by Donna ~ hmm! One of my favorite parts of fall!
My other favorite part of fall? The changing leaves....captured here so perfectly by Brenda of The Jewelry Box (and with the lovely lampwork leaf by our own Deronda of DerondaDesigns)!
I am SO honored and thrilled to be a part of such a talented group of wonderful artisans (and great friends, too!) :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have NEVER been a fan of of the television show, South Park; until tonight, I have never seen an episode in its entirety, instead, being "turned off" by either the topics, language, sheer neglect of common decency or all three....yet, it is, sad to say, one of the favorite shows of all three of my children ~ go figure! So, you can imagine my hesitancy...more like, "kicking and screaming" when my youngest suggested that I "absolutely had to see the encore showing" of last night's episode of "Pandemic 2: The Startling" (imagine "Cloverfield" meets "Blair Witch Project" meets "King Kong" or just imagine giant guinea pigs invading New York City and the only "salvation" being Peruvian pan flute bands....). There we were, mother and daughter, for what was supposed to be just long enough for me to see these "giant guinea pigs" ("look, Mom, aren't they cute?") and yet, I was hooked -- this was, incredibly, so, so funny - yes, I had to admit it, and I had to watch the WHOLE thing!

Now, this does NOT mean I'm tuning in next week to see Craig (that's the only character name I remember) and the rest of the crew -- no, I'm sure I'll still be sufficiently shocked to keep the remote rolling, but this episode did have me ROFLMAO (if you have to ask, find a teen-ager!). The clip above just focuses on the "guinea pigs" aka "guinea bees," "guinea rabbits," "guinea rats,".....but if you watch the episode in its entirety (see link below) you will really understand (!! understand South Park? is that possible?! Well, yes, within the confines of comedy, that is -- you will understand and ROFL!!). Enjoy!
South Park ~ Pandemic 2: The Startling


As explained in yesterday's post, the ABSTEAM (Artisan Beaders Street Team) of Etsy is completing a "color palette" challenge, entitled "Fall into Colors," and I'd like to share the beautiful designs created by my fellow artisans. Some of these items are available for purchase in each designer's/creator's Etsy shop along with other wonderful items! If the particular design is not listed in the shop, but you're interested in it, feel free to convo them through their Etsy shop and inquire! :-)

From Vicki of Orion Designs is this gorgeous pendant based on a palette called "Eat Some Leaves."

A palette called "Five Flavors" was the inspiration behind Patty's (Broken Tepee Designs) beautiful necklace.

Ainsley aka Kaskaad had me drooling over this necklace which used a "Cherries and Chocolate" palette. What about you?

And what will be the most special creation of the challenge for all of us is this incredible pendant from Cori of CCDesign. This was the final piece designed and handcrafted by this talented artisan who we were so blessed to know and call our friend as she died suddenly on October 27th from a brain aneurysm. Peace, dear Cori, to you, your family and friends.

More challenge pieces tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Back in September, the Artisan Beaders Street Team began a "color palette challenge" for the new season ~ "Fall into Colors." Each participating member was to design her own palette with the only requirement being that at least one of the colors being brown and then create a finished piece using the colors from the created palette.

It was wonderful to see the developing colors from the team and over the last few weeks, it has been especially exciting to see the incredible designs come forth.

My "October Wedding" palette was inspired by an upcoming wedding of a dear friend's son which was to be held in a beautiful outdoor setting ~ at the bride's family orchard, next to a small lake, late in the afternoon. The colors try to capture what I pictured would be autumn browns, reds, light rose for evening sunset.

The wedding itself was, of course, even more beautiful than anything I could have imagined, and I was thrilled to discover that the colors of my palette were actually "spot-on" (even the bride's dress was a rich, gorgeous deep burgundy!). Upon returning from "wedding road trip," I designed "October Wedding," a necklace with a crab fire agate diamond, surrounded by silver leaf jasper squares and rounds, fancy jasper ovals, rounds of rainbow jasper and green opal, Swarovski pearls in maroon, light-catching Swarovski crystals in silk, garnet, and light smoked topaz and sterling silver rounds.
So, can you find "October Wedding" in the shop? Well, it did reside there for a very short time, but I'm happy to say that it now is going to the perfect home....shh! That's all I can say. :-)

Tomorrow's post....a look at the incredible "Fall into Colors" creations from the Artisan Beaders Street Team!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Victory...By the Light of a Harvest Moon!

Tournament play began last night ~ an exciting match-up with Mt. Vernon under a beautiful October harvest moon. Congratulations, ladies, for a game well-played (4-1) and for moving on to challenge your next opponents!

Marysville 4, Mount Vernon 1
MV (4-11-2) — Goal: Boutin. Saves: McBride 14.
MARY (7-6-4) — Goals: C.Rogers 2, Westbrook, Spears. Saves: Zacharias 2, Clarridge 1. Halftime: 2-1.

Monday, October 6, 2008

And one hopes...

The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
— Allan K. Chalmers

Monday, September 15, 2008

OSU Game - No Comment....SNL Skit? ENJOY!

Enjoy this while you can - not sure how long it will be up on "youtube"...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Way TOO Close - Whew!

Ohio State 26, Ohio 14..............................SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY! Oh, my goodness!!

But, hey, we won! Yes - GO BUCKS! "Play of the game?" - my favorite has to be the one below - way to go, Ray!! Punt return for the TD!! :-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

August Afternoons

The August afternoons are quickly slipping away, but that doesn't mean they're not yet to be enjoyed ~ this stretch of warm, sunny weather has been perfect for afternoons on the dock and floating in the pond. Who knows how many more days or weeks I'll have left of such sweetness!? I think the water has been on my mind again as I go to the "designing board"...

Setting Sail Necklace

~DIVING IN Earrings
Diving In Earrings

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Long-Awaited Phone Call!

First there was the email waiting for me yesterday morning telling me in very excited fashion of his official assignment, and then the news that he had, indeed, purchased a cell phone and was going to call me right away.....Yes, finally, direct contact and updates from Andrew, my Peace Corps volunteer son in Tanzania!

We had the most wonderful phone chat -- although I can't tell you the number of times both of us simply said - "It's just so good to hear your voice!!" (wonder how much that cost!!??) He is doing so well and succinctly states that the experience so far has been indescribable, incredible, and amazing.

The map above shows roughly where his assignment as a "MENTAL" (Peace Corps environmentalist) for the next two years will be. He was thrilled to learn that he is the first PCV being assigned to this site, but reassured me that there are "plenty of cool volunteers already there" in the region, and explained that he will be approximately 14km from Same. As he describes it, "I'm going to be in the mountains... like... IN the mountains." You can see from the map the close proximity of Mt. Kilimanjaro - a climb he has hoped to make sometime during his time in Tanzania!

Andrew will be sworn in officially on the 20th and then sometime in the next couple of days after that make the trek to his new "digs". I was also happy to see some new photos that he's shared, and he tells me he's sending me more of his host family who I'm looking forward to "meeting" through pictures since they took such good care of him and he thought so much of them!

"No worries, Mom!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Look at the Celebrations!

Here's a look at some of the "Sweet Sixteen" :-) Celebrations this weekend...

And a special birthday greeting from Vermont!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It's been such a great birthday weekend...pedicures and massages (ahh!), dinner at Buca's, a surprise sleep-over party (ok -- almost surprise - until the last minute when she saw Sam's truck!! LOL!), and now a family cookout with even more surprises in store, I'm sure!

Don't forget...shh! Still about 7 1/2 more hours to go on the "Secret Sweet Sixteen" sale in the SignatureSterling shop - see details in the post below!

Friday, August 8, 2008


Yes, it IS a very special "sweet sixteen" birthday weekend around here and we are certainly celebrating! If you see the "birthday girl", be sure to wish her a happy day! :-)

The SignatureSterling shop will also be celebrating this special occasion with a "Secret Sweet Sixteen" sale all weekend long, going on now through Sunday night at midnight, EDT ~ 16% off EVERYTHING in the shop (except gift certificates). What a great time to pick up new Buckeye gear, spruce up your fall accessories, or plan for holiday gift-giving!

To get your secret discount, just put "Sweet 16" in the "Notes to Seller" at checkout and WAIT for a revised invoice before making payment. If you prefer to pay immediately, I'll refund your discount through PayPal. And remember, local friends of SignatureSterling always receive free delivery for even more savings (no shipping charges!).

Tanzania Report

Yes, I've had another long-awaited (whew!) email from Tanzania and, thanks to the "wonders" of Facebook, a picture as well of Andrew "in Peace Corps action!" (he's on the far left, wearing his "signature" beanie!). As a Mom, it is so good to hear from him and yes, so good to see him looking well! He tells me that he's completed his language training (Kiswahili) and has been shadowing another "mental" (the slang term for Andrew's position - "environmentalist").

Official training period is rapidly coming to a close, and he will be returning to Dar Es Salaam soon to be sworn in officially and receive his village assignment where he will serve for 2 years. And yes, he promises that he IS getting a cell phone when he gets to Dar so I'm really looking forward to that first phone call!

AND...Andrew even found time to update his Peace Corps blog so be sure to check it out!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Change in the Air?

Maybe it was the first soccer scrimmage of the year, a sign of the upcoming fall season...or the noticeable coolness as the sun set last night...or perhaps, the refreshing late summer breeze this afternoon as we enjoyed another day on the pond but this time aware of the water being just a bit chillier...and, yes, the weather forecast for this weekend is almost early autumn-like.

No doubt, we will have many more warm sunny summer days ahead, but a change is in the air ~ getting us ready for our Buckeye football, back to school, a full successful soccer season, warm fall sweaters, Friday night lights, brilliant trees, and all the many changes that come with every autumn.

Breathe deep and enjoy!



Saturday, August 2, 2008

Let the Games Begin!

Rankings are ALL over the place, but only ONE ranking really matters and that's the BUCKEYE NATION POLL where our BUCKEYES are #1!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Heat Wave = Fall Fashions???

In the midst of a midwestern heat wave and threatening drought, can I possibly be thinking about fall fashions and colors? Well, err....yes...I must admit that in my attempt to "keep my cool" this past weekend (see post below about the awesome soccer but brutal heat!), I a). escaped into a Borders to enjoy the AC and peruse the magazines, finally settling on the new Vogue (the "Age-less" issue, of course! LOL!), b). discovered the only grove of trees which provided wonderful shade and at least a -10 degree respite between a couple of matches - a perfect spot to doze, cool down, and see what the pages of Vogue were foretelling for fall.

As I looked through the pages, the key colors that appeared over and over again in ads and features were rich purples/plums/amethysts, highlighted by greens, navy or teal/Caribbean blues (summer carries over to fall!), always classic red, and not-to-be-forgotten neutrals. Beautiful, cool, exciting colors! So, I wondered how "on target" my eye was and checked in with PANTONE FASHION + HOME Color System to see what the projected "hot" colors are for Fall 2008. My "eye" (or I guess I should honestly say the Vogue spread!) was right on -- looking forward to a wonderful season of great colors!

What is "PANTONE" and how do they predict colors for the upcoming seasons?

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Kick-Off" to the 2008-2009 Soccer Season!

It was a steamy weekend for the Ohio Cup Tournament, but our ladies "kicked" off a successful season despite 90+ temps and "don't tell me the humidity!" -- how DO they keep running in that heat? WOW!!! What a weekend! 5 games for each team - yep, 10 games of incredible, non-stop soccer action! You can see more pics at my Flickr site (see the link over in the left column).

Just a preview of what is to come - a winning season, indeed! Each of our teams took second in their divisions ~ CONGRATULATIONS, ladies! You are off to a great start!

(So how did I keep cool in between these sweltering games?? my next post about what's coming for fall colors!! LOL!!)

Monday, July 21, 2008


Not quite "Caribbean" but as close as I get, and I'll take it! :-) Just found out Sarah and Mike will be heading to the condo as well in a few weeks - a great way to end the summer!

Naturally, all that time on the beach was inspiration for these pieces...
Carribbean Dreams Necklace

Carribbean Dreams Earrings

Sunday, July 20, 2008

English Gardens and Beautiful Sunsets!

Well, proof that beautiful sunsets can happen anywhere! :-)

And...some new pieces inspired by the beautiful artisan lampwork beads of DerondaDesigns which made me think of rich, wonderful English gardens...a matching set if you like! Check out the new listings in the shop.
English Garden Necklace
English Garden Bracelet
English Garden Earrings

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tales from Tanzania...'s a real, "live" letter (well - the first paragraph of a 4-pager!) from my "Peace Corps" son, filled with such wonderful details about his first few weeks in Tanzania. As he explains, the "PC" advice is to celebrate the small victories in life -- good advice for us all, huh? So what are the small victories Andrew has to share with us so far?

Victory #1: Completion of his first official week of PC training which he describes mainly as intensive language training and one day of "MATI" (still not sure what that means!) training - Andrew defines that as a day where they get to touch base with other PC volunteers, get more vaccinations (and I thought he already had all his shots before he left the states!), and "doodle while they lectured (us) on important issues such as malaria, evacuation plans...blah, blah, blah." Yep, that's our Andrew!

Victory #2: "Mimi ninajifunza Kiswahili!" (Not sure, but I THINK this means "I can speak Kiswahili" -- don't quote me!). Andrew explains that he's learned more Kiswahili in one week than three years of Russian!

Victory #3: Andrew has a great homestay family - who he will be with in Rudewa until August 20th when he is assigned to his village. His "mama gave (me) a very nice bracelet (kikuku) when (I) arrived and (I) haven't taken it off since." And he tells us that "mama" is a fantastic cook. "Baba" (the father) is helping him a lot with the language, and Abduhli, Andrew's "new" 3 year-old "kaka" (brother) seems very happy to have a "mzungu" living in the house. Andrew explains that "mzungu" simply refers to a white person, literal translation "European" and that he hears it alot when walking around the city - "People here are very excited to see white people and I often hear it ("mzungu") when walking around....but it's not said with ill intent." His host family owns a string of shops along the main road of the city, and his "babu" (grandpa) is the "Bwanakiti wa Kijili" (Village Chairperson) while his uncle owns the school used by the Peace Corps and serves in the government.

Victory #4: Andrew is happy that he has read 2 books of the many he brought along -- World War Z (he now says he is ready for the inevitable zombie invasion - LOL!) and Slaughterhouse V.

While the host family has electricity, internet access is limited to whenever Andrew (and the other volunteers) can get to an internet cafe in Rudewa or to the Peace Corps office - time is limited. When he can, he will be updating his blog about his experiences, so be sure to check it out and see what might be new!

As for me, I'll be waiting anxiously for the next email and/or letter! And, I'll try to remember to keep celebrating the small victories.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Final Sunset...

Too good not to share (our last night on the beach) ~ enjoy! Tomorrow - news from TANZANIA! Yes, I've had a very "newsy" letter from the Peace Corps "boy"! :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

South Beach! A Day to Remember...

Our planned trip to South Beach was as wonderful as we could have hoped ~ an almost empty beach, crystal clear water with an incredibly quiet surf today which allowed us to actually do some more shell-seeking in the ocean. Not having any goggles or snorkeling gear, we simply relied on our sunglasses and scanned the sandy ocean floor which today was so clearly visible. Getting to the "treasures" was quite a workout as neither one of us wanted to take a "full dunk" (planning to head up to the restaurant later for lunch) so once we found what looked like a "good shell," we needed to keep our balance against any incoming surf, using our toes and feet to grab and bring the shell up to the surface without falling over -- we were quite the sight! But, as I said, I think we've come up with a new exercise routine that's quite fun! LOL!! Here's a peek at the "treasures" we found...

After a morning of sunning and "surfing" for shells, we were more than ready for our grouper treats at the South Beach Grille -- and we were sure to call Grandma and Grandpa to let them know how much we were enjoying it (since it IS their favorite place, too!).

As Hannah drove us home through Boca Grande, we took some quick stops to grab pics of some favorites sites and then headed for our beach at the condo for one more late afternoon nap. We were surprised by the surf at Englewood though and ended up spending the time body surfing instead ~ great fun, indeed!
Tonight will be one more Gulf sunset and then tomorrow we "hit the road," heading first for South Carolina tomorrow night and then North Carolina on Saturday for Hannah's camp on Saturday. It's been a great week!

Beach Walking

One last early morning walk on the beach ~ so peaceful and quiet, no sounds except the steady surf and occasional gulls in the early sun and I was alone but for a fisherman and one other shell-seeker walking the shore. You never know what the sea will deliver - my favorites are the "kittycat paw" shells - white, pink bumpy exteriors - and I also picked up some beautiful polished pieces of shell which I hope will challenge me with some wireworking when I get home.
I always look for one special rock or stone, but this time, I found an unusual "metamorphasis" of tiny shells, stones, and sand which the surf brought to my feet on the walk back....I couldn't let it go. Everytime I look at it, I see something new.

2 Girls on the Road ~ Final Day in Paradise

Well, since it's after midnight, it is the beginning of our final full day in "paradise" ~ what a great week it has's a quick tour ~ beach, pool, Barefoot Trader (the best souvenir shack on Manasota Key), fried gator bites (yummy - and yes, they taste just like chicken - LOL! - a first for both of us!), more beach, more pool...

...Gulf sunsets, early beach walks for Mom (runs for Hannah - who then decided that running to the Lemon Bay drawbridge was better :-) ), yep - more beach & pool (what can we say!), lobster tails! (we shared - Hannah's first - she loved it!), dolphin-spotting from the balcony (Hannah did the "spotting" and Mom did her best to catch them at the right time with the camera!), AWESOME tans - we are such beach beauties - LOL!!... nights - alternating action thrillers with chick flicks - saw some great DVD's (Live Free or Die Hard, Mad Money, Vantage Point, 27 Dresses) and a venture out on a late afternoon during a typical late-day sudden SW Florida rainstorm to see "Hancock"...

...retail therapy at the Ellenton outlet mall - we "behaved" but had great fun! :-), more beach, more pool - including, of course, a night swim - a little chilly even for mid-July in Florida but fun! Ask Hannah about her tea parties and hand stands - LOL!, what have we saved for our "final" day in paradise -- a trip to one of our favorite places -- SOUTH BEACH! This wonderful "tucked away" haven is a short drive and just south of Boca Grande (home to some of the most incredible architecture - and, according to Hannah - the expert on these things, of course, - the site of one of Tom Cruise's residences - who knows? Anyways, gorgeous homes!)....and the beach there is spectacular and quiet AND to make things even better, right there on the beach is the BEST place to eat lunch in all SW Florida (at least in our opinion!) -- just lay in the sun, romp in the Gulf all morning, then wrap a towel around you and walk up to the South Beach restaurant for incredible grouper -- Hannah's going for the grouper basket -- think I might have to stick with my grouper reuben (yep, a grouper reuben - it is awesome!)....and then, you just go right back to the beach for more sun and surf! What could be better!

It's been a great trip - we'll definitely add to the picture collection with our outing tomorrow :-)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Road Trip ~ Independence Day

We arrived at the condo in plenty of time to settle in, catch our first Gulf sunset, and join the July 4th celebration on the beach...and indeed, there can be no better place to enjoy the 4th. The beach sky was literally lit for hours just as Cindy had promised. As we toasted to the beginning of our "official" vacation (mojito for me, Gatorade for Hannah!), Hannah said, "This is our independence day."

It was an awesome night!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

2 Girls on the Road - Day 2...

Ok ~ confession time, lest family and friends out there start to panic that we've gone off the deep end :-) ~ our GORGEOUS tattoos from Day 1 are henna tattoos and will last up to 3 weeks....but they are quite sweet. Hannah is trying desperately to convince Mom that the "discreet" Chinese peace character needs to become a permanent fixture below the back nape of Mom's neck, but so far Mom's not buying into it! :-)

Day 2 found us "landing" in Tallahassee with Aunt Donna and being hosted by cousin Cindy and family for a wonderful dinner - seeing the kids was a wonderful treat! Lauren is such a sweetie and Taber is all-Winslow for sure! Catching up with Aunt Donna was terrific - we live too far away, indeed!

AND...we were a bit delayed in arriving Donna's condo as we made a quick stop at the outlet mall in Georgia to do my first MIMI SHOPPING ~ that's right, I'm going to be a MIMI (while I am absolutely THRILLED with the news, I'm just not quite ready to accept the "g-word"!!) :-) Sarah and Mike are expecting "Ima Little Connolly" (as he or she is now affectionately called -- thanks, Jack and Dad!) in February!! Such exciting news! So, yes, we did stop and pick up just a few "gender-neutral" ADORABLE items for my first grandbaby! WOW - that's a big word, isn't it?!

Next stop....condo at the beach! YAY!

OH...must not forget ~ QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Hannah: "Oh, look, a puppy! Is that a puppy?!"
Mom: "No, it's a girl with really big hair."

It's an interesting trip, no doubt! :-) Pics are almost impossible to load via dial-up here so we are adding them as we go in the "SUMMER ROAD TRIP" album here on the blog - check it out!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

First Day of Vacation...2 Girls on the Road :-)

Mom and daughter heading south for a full week in the Florida sun, with the biggest decision being whether to relax on the Gulf beach or by the condo pool -- ahh! Theme quotes for vacay:

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.
— Moshe Dayan

AND - a repeat of a favorite so we don't forget :-)
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.
— Anonymous

So, in our first day of traveling, what did we do to celebrate our first official day of vacation? Why, get tattoos, of course -- what a silly question!
Here's Hannah's ~
And, here's Mom's (the Chinese symbol for "peace" - naturally!) ~

Manasota Key ~ here we come! :-)