Monday, September 29, 2014

Bits of England

Sorry the blog is a bit late, but whew!, it is still Monday!

While in St Louis, I managed to find tiny hints of England.   Here we go!
Thursday evening we enjoyed a genre dinner.  This is an opportunity to dress up and show the genre in which we write.   We can dress up like our character would in our novels.  Really, anything we would like.  Obviously, within good taste.  So, it would not be a good idea to have  a gun on you if you wrote westerns.  The hotel staff would not be impressed!    Some dressed up, some didn't.
    Here I am with authors Julie Klassen and James Rubart.  Julie and I are kindred spirits.  We both love England!  Notice Julie is not wearing her name tag.  That almost cost her dinner!  The staff was not going to allow her in without it!  Good thing we vouched for her!
                                                   I loved the scarf!
                                                    Me and Julie's phones.
The "selfie" turned out pretty good of Julie and I.
Found one of Julie's books on sale in the conference bookstore.  She writes historical and gets to visit England for research.  Yes...I am jealous!
I will tell you more about this book on next Monday's blog.  I am half way through it.  This book won 2 awards at the Awards Gala dinner on Saturday night.  I am LOVING this book.

It was great to be at the conference.  I have great memories, but wow, it is nice to be home.


Thursday, September 25, 2014


Yesterday we drove out on an adventure.

We rode in the dark for about an hour, and then were gifted with this incredibly mesmerizing, glorious sunrise.  Spectacular. Awe inspiring.  The only one that surpassed this one was the morning my mother in law passed away.   I knew she closed her eyes on earth, and opened them in heaven. This sunrise to us was a gift.  An unexpected joy.

And then there were the trees.  Vibrant colors everywhere.  Greens and yellows, oranges and reds.  "Look at that one."  We drove a little farther.  "Ooooh look over there at those."  We never tired of the leaf peeping.  It literally looked like splattered paint on the side of the road.  Pictures just don't  do it justice.  We never knew what colors to expect  around the next bend!

Rest stops can be difficult to find at times while traveling.
This particular one left us in a bit of a conundrum!  We drank quite a bit of water and really needed one!  Not what we expected!

 Any guesses where we are?
 We expected this to be good, but it indeed surpassed whatever expectations we had thought about fried ravioli!
 A bit of Italy here.  Lots of statues and even some fake flowers!
 I am here for a writers conference.  It is the next chapter on this journey.  This crazy dream I have to pen a novel.  I am, indeed, riding in elevators with some of the best authors in the publishing world.  It is a bit intimidating, but wow are they nice!  Not that that should surprise me, but still!  It is great.  I am here to learn.  And learn I will do.

Like the sunrise and the leaves, I certainly did not expect to be so inspired today with those gifts.  I am not sure what to expect these next couple of days.  I guess I have no expectations.  But, I am getting on that elevator, and going to class with an open mind to whatever happens.

What dreams are you chasing?  And what are you doing to pursue them?

Monday, September 22, 2014


Its a beautiful sound.
The accent gets me every time.
I don't want to talk.  I just want to listen to them speak.  Takes me back to England.

She is here.  From that enchanted place.  And I got to have tea with her.
I didn't get to spend nearly  the time I wanted with her, but so thankful I had some!

Our table greets us!
We drank lots of tea.  Complete with cream and sugar.  Royal Wedding and Monks Blend were our favorites.
We walked away stuffed!  There were cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad, egg salad, lavender scones, ginger cookies...YUM!
I miss you already Marion.  You are one classy lady.  A delight.  I am so blessed to have you in my life.  (Thanks John and Yvonne...HUGS)  

Thursday, September 18, 2014


If you do nothing else on the internet today, click on this. 
Zach Sobiech was one incredible kid.  
Wise.  And oh so talented.  He died last May 2013.  But he lived.  More than most of us do.  

I dare you not to cry.  Then again, maybe you shouldn't cry, but think of how you want to be remembered. 

This is about a 7 minute video on the making of his portrait.  
Besides Zach and his guitar, there are other items included in the portrait.  

My favorite is the medal of St. Peregrine.  His mom says, "Zach called it "Perry" and carried it in his pocket with him everywhere."

I have followed this story for awhile now.  I pray for this family often.  They know how to give and they know how to live each day.  
Laura Sobiech ends most of her posts on caring bridge with "Peace."
Peace Sobiech family.  


Monday, September 15, 2014

Enjoying the day

We got to church early for a change.  Had our pick of seats.
I grabbed a bulletin as my family chose the spot.  The middle, right in the center is where we planted ourselves.
It didn't take long and so did someone else.  Plopped herself right next to us.  Her name is Kathy.  We liked her right away.  A grandmotherly type, she took to our daughter immediately.  Asked her lots of questions and told her she is "such a pretty girl."  She noticed I was looking at a bulletin and said, "How did I miss getting a bulletin?" and stood up to retrieve one.
I piped up, "you can have mine" and handed  it to her.
That one kind deed meant so much to her.  We made a new friend.

We were on our way home and decided we needed to linger a bit longer.  Enjoy this beautiful day together.
We managed to snag a table outdoors at a restaurant  we had never been before.   There is always at least an hour wait.  Judging by the amount of people standing in line as we were being seated, we made it just in time.  

We had a great view.  Couples walked hand in hand along the pier, boats floated past, and smells of Sunday brunches wafted in the air,   The cool breeze took us by surprise and we wished we had brought our coats!
Good thing they had tea!
We finished our meal and needed to make one more stop.
Nothing like the nostalgia of an old fashioned  candy store.    This screamed, "EAT ME GAIL."
And so I did!

Do you prefer indoor or outdoor seating?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


It started out good.
An apple, some almonds, and some string cheese.

Lunch too...  A shredded roast beef sandwich.

But then an awful, no good, evil specialist brought treats to our office  and the will power went bye bye.
  It had chocolate icing and different colored sprinkles.  I ate the whole thing.
After work I had to stop and get more apples.  The honeycrisps are now in the store.  My favorite.
Just so happens, these are available too.  Caramel and sea salt.  So, I had to buy one.  Well...maybe two!
  Nostalgia hit as I walked past these yummy treats.  They ended up in my boys' care packages a lot while they were in Alaska.
And then maybe one landed in my cart!
FUNKYCHUNKY=YUMMY!  Best caloric cheat ever!
There happens to be a Starbucks in the store where I was indulging in sugar.  Should I?  Ok...why not?!  So I did!  A non fat chai tea!
Why is it that it all looks so great, but then my stomach hurts and so does my head after eating all this junk?  Hmmmmmm.....!!

So, what's your snack temptation?

Monday, September 8, 2014

She is coming here!

I see a trip to a tea room in the near future.

I wrote a post called "Idyllic" this past July 14.

It introduced you to my friend Marion from England.
We had so much fun while in the UK.  We had tea, stayed at her home, visited Althorp together, and went to quaint little villages.  I loved every bit of it.  Can't even give a favorite.  It all was so wonderful.
This is a view from Marion's back yard.  Well actually, her "used to be" backyard.  She has since moved.  So glad I got to see this one!
I loved walking in the neighborhood!
We visited a lot of churches.  Sometimes I was so enlivened, I needed  these little reminders to not gasp too loud!

Well, now my friend  is coming here!  This is not a first time visit.  She is well acquainted with America.  But, I am so eager to see her.

What about you...have you had visitors from far away lately?


Thursday, September 4, 2014

They are back!

My son Mark, and his college buddy Nick have been gone a long time.
3 long months. 
I know what you are thinking...That's not that long!      

To me, the mom, that's a long time.  And to Kelsey, Nick's girlfriend...its even longer!

The two of them were fly fishing guides in Alaska.  What an adventure!  One evening we got a phone call from them.  "Guess where we are?" 
We couldn't begin to even guess!
"We are on top of a mountain.  The view is incredible."
And for the night, they slept under the Alaskan stars.  Not that there were many.  Remember...its light there for most hours of the day in the summer!  
A troubling night for me as all I could think about was their last comment..."We gotta go.  We see a bear and its getting pretty close!"
Click went the phone. 
NOT what a mother wants to hear. 

The stories are still being told.  Like the one where Mark is cleaning fish for his clients, and he forgot to look up once in awhile.  Not far from him stood a mommy bear and her two cubs.  She looked hungry!
This happened last year too.  You'd think he would have learned!  "No worries mom.  I had my gun.  It was all good.  I just had to fire a warning shot. "
He is not one bit scared of the bears.  He kept telling us, "We are in their territory.  They don't care about us."

The boys were busy.  Client after client came to fish.  It really is a dream job.  They met some pretty cool people.  Like in this video for instance.  This is a guy from the weather channel. 
The video is not long...about 2 minutes.  Nick is in the river fly fishing.  It is a pretty good shot of him.  He is a natural. 
My son Mark is toward the end in a quick blurb about the salmon. 
And yes...the runway in the clip is where the boys and their clients fly in and out of.  YIKES! 
This is where they spent all their time.  It is beautiful.  Enjoy the glimpse.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Afternoon Tea at the Mad Hatter

Recently, I had a most splendid afternoon having tea with my niece and sister.
My niece Claire had never experienced the whole professional  tea thing, and so I decided it needed to happen!  She and her family recently moved back from living out west.  (I am thrilled about that.  Them...well...its cold here!)  Back to tea...
Where to go?  That was easy.   The Mad Hatter tea room.
We were welcomed at the front entrance only to walk up to this...
the Anoka mansion!  I used to drive past this estate each day on my way to high school.  I imagined what it was like on the inside.  Now I know!  There is a library in there!  I didn't care about anything else!  There is a beautiful, sprawling back yard leading down to the river.  What a view!  I could live here!
   My sister Becky  and I.
Meet Claire.  Here she sips her first taste of tea!  "I really like this."  Whew!!  I told her about black teas and green teas and oolongs.  She enjoyed turning over the timer to allow the tea to steep.  It was a hard decision, but we went for the Mad Hatter house blend to begin.  A black tea.  We could get a new pot of tea at any point during the meal.  We had 4 different kinds.  Spiced pear, creme brulee, the house blend, and a jasmine tea.  She used the tongs for the cubed sugar and asked me if I had cubed sugar at home.  Hmmmmm....
Yes!  The answer is yes!
 She was impressed with the way the tea keeps warm.  A little tea light candle votive right there underneath the pot of tea.  Isn't the rose a lovely touch?  Just one flower in a clear jar.  Perfect.  And yep...I have one of those tea warmers!
How fun to watch Claire's eyes as she gazed upon these yummy delicacies!
See what I mean!
What a feast!  We had lavender scones, cranberry chicken salad on zucchini muffins, lemon caper egg salad, lavender herb cucumber canape, petit fours, pink pavlova with lemon chantilly...the list goes on!  It was yummy.  Trust me!  We were full!
Tea.  It is a simple thing, but such a great habit.  It makes you slow down and take in life.  There are so many different kinds to choose from.  We made a wonderful memory that day.  I think I made a tea drinker out of my niece too!  If you are in the area, this is a great place to go.
So, where have you gone for tea ?