What is your word?

The token I wear and have worn ever since discovering MyIntent is “Live Aloha”. People usually think of aloha as simply a greeting but it is so much more. Although I am not Hawaiian, the islands are place in the world that brings me joy. Most people think that “Aloha” is a word that means both hello and goodbye. … It is true that in Hawaii you say “Aloha” both when greeting someone and also saying goodbye. But that is not to be taken literally. The real meaning of Aloha in Hawaiian is that of Love, Peace, and Compassion.

So for me, a daily reminder of Love, Peace and Compassion…Live Aloha.

I am excited to announce that I have achieved a certification as a MyIntent Maker!  If you have not heard of MyIntent yet, you will be thrilled to learn about it.  Words are powerful and they can inspire us to do great things.  To wear a token made for you by a MyIntent Maker means you have found a word that you can wear as a daily reminder of something important to you.

Want to learn more about it or already know your word and want to get together and get your token? Contact me and we can put your word into action.

 

Who has time for a real breakfast anymore?

Is the problem cooking it or eating it?

So many of us working parents lament over what our children eat for breakfast.  When they are little, if we are lucky we prepare them a hearty breakfast.  And when they get older we hope they can fend for themselves but have learned how to make good choices.  It’s that in between time, when they need it the most that we all need a little help. Those high school years, our athletes really need every bit of sleep as much as they need a hearty breakfast to start the day!

I found these delicious Sausage Egg Muffins and they are perfect for me too!  My day starts so early, that nearly three hours have gone by at work, and it is finally a normal breakfast hour.  I have taken to making these every other week or so.  The weeks in between I get my teenager to make overnight oats.  I’ll have to post that recipe next!

Photo Credit: Erich Dark

The trick is to make the sausage and egg cups and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Upon reheating for one minute in the microwave (depending on your machine) I add the cheese for a last ten second blitz and serve with some slices of tomato or avocado.  You might like salsa and sour cream.  When packing my breakfast, I just put everything in divided Tupperware or sandwich baggies.

What you’ll need:

One tube, 1lb Jimmy Dean Sausage

3 T almond flour

3 T coconut flour

3 t ground flax seed

12 eggs

½ t salt

¼ t pepper

Cheese, either shredded or slices cut when ready to eat –  And tomato, avocado, or salsa and sour cream. Whatever strikes your fancy.

Prepping the meal:

  1. Preheat oven 400*
  2. Spray muffin tin with coconut cooking spray
  3. Mix sausage by hand with the almond flour, coconut flour and flax seed
  4. Divide sausage mix into 12 pieces and press into the muffin tins on bottom as well as up the sides into small cup shapes
  5. Crack an egg into each and sprinkle salt and pepper
  6. Bake 25 minutes or until sausage is fully cooked (160* with a meat thermometer).
  7. Once cooled store in airtight container in refridgerator.

Notes: My microwave likes one minute, and I keep my muffin whole, I have friends who have tried and their machines like 30 seconds and some like to cut their muffin in half for more uniform reheat.  You will need to find your happy microwave time through trial and error.  But remember, you can always add more time-over microwaving is yucky!

 

 

 

Mom I spilled boiling water on my foot

Not the phone call you want to take from your teenager when you are at work on a Friday night.  I work a night job and my teenager is learning to cook.  We use Blue Apron a delivery service for two dinners a week and our 13 year old has gotten pretty good at it.  Only, she gets a little ahead of herself and maybe a little too confident when she should check with her dad on the proper pot or kitchen tool.  While he was in his office the other night, she was recreating a recipe she learned for potato salad to take to a pot luck the next day.

Four pounds of potato and one giant pot of boiling water and a 101 pound teenager who is only 4’9″ do not mix well.  My Lizzie is not one for drama and when she tried to pour out the boiling water, she spilled it on her bare foot.  Now I mean ALL over the top of her foot.  She told her dad she spilled the hot water and she put cold water on it.  But he didn’t realize the severity of the situation and she didn’t elaborate.  She called me at work and asked what to put on it and my first reaction was lavender essential oil but wait how bad is it?

She wasn’t crying but said it did hurt though, understandably!  Her biggest fear was that it would stop her from competing in the first gymnastic competition of the season the next day.  The girl finished making the potato salad AND dinner before she started to become very emotional and that is when her father realized she didn’t mean she spilled hot water but that she burned the hell out of her foot!

Burns can be so nasty and this one was no different.  The next morning when I got up, I asked her to show me her foot so I could look into what I might be able to make to soothe her skin, thinking this was more like a sunburn.  Not expecting that much blistering!  More lavender, oh my goodness and a rummage through the first aid closet looking for all sizes of bandages knowing I couldn’t put any adhesive on the inflamed skin but that we would need to keep that clean and covered but able to breathe in order for her to compete.

She is a trooper for sure and had a great first competition.  Couldn’t keep a bandage from falling off but at least she kept it clean.  We already had a Doc appointment for Monday morning so I was comfortable waiting for a professional to look at it then.  In the mean time, I looked into what oils I could mix in a spray form to help support healing and support her with the discomfort.

There was no way she was going to rub an oil or a cream, but a spray seemed to be just right.  I love my oils!  I mixed Lavender, ravintsara, Roman Chamomile and German Camomile with some distilled water with a teaspoon of witch hazel. Lizzie started spraying that on 3-4 times a day about 24 hours after the initial accident.

Monday morning off to the doctor we went.  And I have to say I almost love our pediatrician more than my oils, ok not really but I really do love that she was very open minded when I said we have been using an essential oil spray mixture on Lizzie’s foot.  I explained each ingredient and why and the doctor actually said, you are doing good keep it up!

Over the next few days the blisters filled and popped and began to bleed. And then on the first day of school we had to face the issue that since it had only been six days and the blisters were so tender, she wasn’t going to be able to fit her foot into a shoe on her fist day of high school.  Oh, now it was time for drama!  We bought some suede ballerina flats and I wore big socks and stuffed my feet into them and walked around the house for hours to give them just a little more room (I wear and 9 and her an 8 or 8.5).  That’s what mom’s do, right?

One week after the incident the blisters had popped and the skin was finally starting to scab.  She had continued to spray her foot regularly 3-4 times a day.  Finally we were able to start using Young Living’s Rose Ointment.  I was really worried this burn was going to leave a horrible scar.   But I had to trust that she would heal and I also have to remind myself how lucky we were that it wasn’t her face the water splashed all over!

Then as soon as the scabs seemed to heal over we were left with tender skin and so I started to research scars and oils and how to support and promote healthy skin.  I made a roller ball with helichrysum, patchouli, lemongrass, Lavender, and V-6 oil.  It may take some time but already her foot appears so much better!

She may have a lasting scar but as time goes by, it will be so small and insignificant I am sure.  Has she made potato salad since then? No, but she has boiled water.  And she uses a much smaller pot when she does!  Why I use essential oils, because they really do work!I trust them for my family and my family enjoys what they do for us.  It has been three years since I started my oily journey and I learn something new about them all the time. Do I know everything? No way but I know how to use my resources. Go without essential oils? No way!  What to learn more about essential oils?  Just send me a message, I am happy to help.

 

Epic Adventure: Castles in Scotland Summer 2017

Where do you want to vacation?

If you have two women in your house chances are they will say Scotland!  Well that is if they dream about Castles, underground tours, fantastic accents and old architecture.

And that is just what happened with our first ever Passports.  Why Scotland?  Why not!  Their summer is grand, 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and much rain, sometimes sideways.  Oh, and drive on the other side of the road!  An adventure!  Bought some new luggage and the planning began.

Not knowing anything and I mean anything at all about travelling to Scotland let alone outside the US, I found a wonderful travel company that was advertising and had popped up on my FB feed:  www.Sheencotravel.com  These people really were wonderful.  I contacted them via email, some back and forth about budget and time and idea of what we wanted to do. Then they emailed me the most wonderful itinerary with links and pictures of the places we would stay. Sign us up! I would read that itinerary probably fifteen times before we arrived in Scotland.

June 27th: Our adventure began with a grueling early morning, really late-night flight from San Francisco to Chicago, a layover, and a second flight to Scotland.  Arrived in style we did with a car and driver waiting for us to take us to our first accommodation, The Bonham.  But as Murphy’s law usually follows us, the power got knocked out in the airport as soon as we cleared customs, all the doors shut and locked automatically and the lights went out. Luckily, the authorities corralled all the incoming arrivals and walked us out of baggage to the main exit and our driver skirted us around the crowd and on our way. Restless and tired we were, but excited and the Bonham kept our bags until our room would be ready.  We set off into the city.

That first day we wandered, found food and enjoyed temperate weather, no rain. And I can say it was an amazing city.  The architecture, the voices and accents, the bagpipes playing in all the tourist stores, and cobblestone streets!  Oh, the things to see: a view of Edinburgh from atop the 287 steps of the Scott Monument, Princess Street, Castle Hill, Edinburgh Castle and more.  Those stairs though in the Scott Monument, all stone, 60 then a landing walkabout, 60 and another, and as you continue to go up those stone walls seem to close in on you and get more narrow as you rise.  Truly not for the claustrophobic.  Once I reached the top, I felt I had reached my limit and very promptly told the teenager to have fun because I was going all the way down, “See you at the bottom!” That is a single two way staircase where my shoulders touch on both sides, no way to pass people politely when ready to immediately descend.

The next day we were ready, bundled up and moving.  Two days of walking Edinburgh. Wow, on day two we racked over 7.8 miles on foot, in the sideways rain on purpose!  Edinburgh Castle, and tea there is amazing.

But breakfast at the Bonham is unparalleled.  All the best for breakfast: Black Pudding, Haggis, eggs, toast, tomato, mushrooms, potato scone and bacon.  And coffee and juice.  Well, you can see why walking so much was necessary.  And can I just say that black pudding is delicious; I wish I could get some here in the US.

Now something to note when visiting castles in Scotland: You may take pictures outside the buildings and in designated areas but well, many of the wonders like the crown jewels and the historic Stone of Destiny you need to purchase a book if you want to look on them after your visit. We did not purchase books in all the castles we visited and there are a few I wish I had.

June 30th: Off to pick up our own car, and drive to the Highlands!  Okay first thing you must know about driving on the other side of the car and on the other side of the road, especially in a city with small streets… we will call it, “The Scotland Wheel of Terror,” The steering wheel that is.  I didn’t drive, the husband did.  And I didn’t bring enough valor essential oil for the trip, I ran out in the last few days.  Note to self: bring full bottle next time!

 

 

On the road from Edinburgh on the way to Invergarry are the stunning beautiful and green mountains of the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond and if you know when to look you’ll see the famous Kelpies.

And of course, Sterling Castle, which by the way has very little parking. You know what it’s like driving in a new place, trying to find parking and a uniformed person is telling you to keep moving? Well add to that the wrong side of the road and the unfamiliar side of the car! Avoiding one domestic argument we were routed down from castle hill and struggled to find parking on a city street below the castle stronghold where we met a resident who was enjoying a cigarette by his car.  I could not understand a word he said when I asked him if tickets or towing was the standard for leaving your car too long.  Even my husband who seems to have an ear for the Scottish accent, looked at me in wonder struggling to understand the fellow.  He was a friendly man, we were pretty sure he said they, meaning the police, don’t usually come by very often.

Not wanting to chance having our rental car towed on our first day we set off at brisk pace across a field past some Scottish cows and up hiking trails to the Castle on the hill.  Breathtaking and green.  Everything is green.  Green or stone that is.  Afraid of losing the rental car, we ventured only through the castle walls into the main courtyard and the outlaying grounds where there is a statue of King Robert the Bruce. 

Come to find out days later, The Sword of William Wallace is kept on display inside Stirling Castle.  Now we have reason number one to return.

 

Onward to Glengarry, Invergarry Castle and Hotel, once the stronghold of the MacDonells of Glengarry.  This would end up being my absolute favorite stay in Scotland.

There is so much rich history about this place that sits overlooking Loch Oich.  The Castle of Invergarry was the seat of the Chiefs of the powerful branch of the Clan Donald, known as the Clan Ranald of Glengarry.  Its situation on Creagan an Fhithich—the Raven’s Rock – overlooking Loch Oich in the Great Glen, was a strategic one in the days of clan feuds and Jacobite risings.  Today only the ruins remain of what was once one of the most renowned homes in the realm. The redcoats of Butcher Cumberland burned it in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden.  The walls stand in refusal to fall from time and they seem solid yet haunting and alone.

What you see here now is a mansion on the estate that is wonderfully serene and only 500 yards from the Castle ruin.  I found absolute calm from the hum of busy life here.  This Hotel estate is so very welcoming and the food is outstanding. The library is very peaceful, the staff is incredibly friendly, and the surrounding area is just beautiful.  You must have dinner reservations here to dine so please make yours when you check in.

We took a drive to the Castle most seen on postcards from Scotland and used in the filming of The Highlander.  I have dated myself admitting that I have seen that movie when it was not an old movie as my daughter would say.

Eilean Donan Castle- wow- it sits on an island where three lochs meet and dated from the 13th century. It took nearly 30 years to restore after it was destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719. It is amazing to see and the family owned castle used to have family living in it as recent as the 1980’s but now it is on display, unfortunately no pictures inside are allowed and all I can say is wow!! You have to see this! Just stunning.

July 2nd: We drove onward to Urquhart Castle, which dates back to 580 AD.  This castle used to be a Pictish hill fort, then by the 1200’s a stone hill fort, and by the 1300’s it became a strategic fortress in the wars for independence.  By the 1400’s many of the castle buildings were ruined during the 150 years of struggle between the MacDonald Lords and the crown.  In the 1500’s the Grants wanted a more comfortable and defensible home fit for a Laird and rebuilt the tower.

This castle is huge and I cannot possibly post all those pictures here, you’ll have to visit- there are a lot of steps good luck you might need some essential oils for your tired feet after, I know I do! PS the Castle sits on the banks of Loch Ness in the Highlands and no we didn’t see Nessy.


We continued our trek visiting the battlefield on the moors of Culloden where the Jacobite final rising in 1746 came to a brutal head in one of the most harrowing battles in UK history.  In less than an hour around 1,300 men were slain, more than 1,000 of them Jacobite.  Needless to say, it was sobering and we headed to two distilleries Glenfinnan and MacCallan and I can’t say I’m a fan of whiskey 🥃 but I gave it a try. The moors were windswept and cold so I can see why people like the warmth it gives! Me, I think I’ll stick with my essential oils.

In Inverness, we relaxed at a place called Kingsmill.  There is a wonderfully charming hotel that has a more modern contemporary building across the parking lot that even has a lift (elevator).  Elevators in Inverness are teeny tiny.  I would not want to get stuck in one of those!

 

 

I found Inverness to be less crowded than Edinburgh and the streets still scary driving on the other side and narrower but certainly less stressful. We enjoyed the days walking and I found myself intrigued by doors. All the homes are stone, the doors seeming to show their personality in color shape and size. Definitely time to pick a new door color when I get home.

 

In the middle of a suburban neighborhood amongst the residents out walking their dogs we found this fenced in flat stone. The plaque reads: The Broad Stone. The Broad Stone dates from before the 15th Century. The central hole would probably have supported a pillar or stone cross. It is thought to have been a town cross or shrine for pilgrims and wayfarers, possibly marking the well of the “Skower Burn” which used to flow through this area.

July 4th: We started off today on a long drive from Inverness back to Edinburgh. The views are amazing driving through the Cairngorms. There are so many castle and castle ruins and giant manor homes 🏡. We stopped for lunch at Blair Castle, which is an amazing place with an antiquity collection where once again you may only take pictures in an allowed area. This Castle Mansion is completely museum-like and vast.  I can tell you that I have never seen so many rifles and firearms adorn the walls as in this castle, one crazy musket rifle barrel was at least 8 feet long. How do you hunt and what do you hunt with something like that! There were so many Narwhale horns! I wanted so bad to take a picture of them they seem to me like unicorn horns and amazing! 

The drive back onto Edinburgh was 😜. We, and I should say I use we liberally, my husband drives and I navigate, was rough. When we start getting near cities the roads and highways and roundabouts come faster than the GPS can keep up so we made some wrong turns. However, we managed to get settled in at our last destination, Dalhousie Castle.

 

 

This Castle is a 13th century fortress set within acres of wooded parkland on the banks of the River Esk.  This castle has been mostly unchanged for 700 years.  Edward I stayed there before defeating William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk, Henry VI unsuccessfully besieged it for six months and Oliver Cromwell took it in 1648.  More welcome visitors included Queen Victoria, who took tea at the castle in 1840, and Sir Walter Scott, a close friend of the 9th Earl.

While visiting this Castle we enjoyed one of our trip highlights, which was an encounter in Falconry. The Falconry staff on site are very friendly and knowledgeable. First, we each flew and fed a Falcon but then a 10-month-old owl was just spectacular to fly and feed.  The Falconer surprised us when the young owl didn’t fly off the hand after eating the morsel of chick telling us to, “Just chuck him.”  I had to make sure I heard him right, chuck him, did he mean throw him off my arm?  He sure did; stating that the little guy is still learning to fly across the field after eating and he forgets to go so you have to throw him off.  Don’t be worried, he takes right to the air.  But each time he returned for more chick, he had to be chucked off.  Great fun!

Split pea soup with frothed coconut milk, black walnut and bacon brownie and a cheese wayfer

Now mind you this is a Castle, and they don’t have lifts or elevators in Castles.  Our room was a top floor, 96 steps to the door and a folly of five more inside the room to look out the rampart from our window.  Do the math, into the castle main and down two for the lobby to check in, up two and to the car for the luggage, then up 96 steps, and back down 96 for something left in the car and needed for dinner. Then back up 96 to dress for dinner, down about half to the library for cocktails and confit. Then brought down the remaining 96 to the main floor and then down another dozen or so to the dungeon where we had the pleasure of dining –The Dungeon Restaurant.  It is an ancient barrel-vaulted dungeon and don’t be confused, it isn’t cold or damp. Quite the contrary, the dungeon was extremely warm and incredibly fun.  Then full belly, back up to the room to retire.  I can’t think of a better way to work up an appetite or work off an appetite.

However, this Castle is known for its wonderful spa and Turkish style steam bath, we were unable to enjoy due to my daughter not meeting the minimum age of 16, no exceptions.  So very disappointing not to be able to sample the spa as it was part of our package to be able to use the spa and something we were looking forward to doing, even purchasing swimsuits in Edinburgh for the stay.

 

Exploring the Castle, we enjoyed a library and a less formal breakfast area overlooking the grounds.  And the first night a wedding was in full swing with wonderful Scottish music sounding from the hall.  This Castle once belonged to Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie, ?-1342. A soldier, and elder son of Sir William Ramsay, who fought at Bannockburn (1314), he was one of the Regent’s Commanders and Borough Muir, where England’s ally, the Flemish Army was defeated. He was present at the capture of Leuchar’s Castle (1335) and came to the assistance of Black Angus, the Countess of Dunbar, relieving the siege of her Castle at Dunbar in 1338. He recaptured Roxburgh Castle from the English in 1342, something Sir William Douglas had tried unsuccessfully to do. When Sir Alexander was rewarded by being made Constable of Roxburgh and Sheriff of Teviotdale, Douglas was outraged and captured Ramsay while he was praying at Hawick and Douglas imprisoned him in the dungeon of Hermitage Castle. Without food or water, he died, although it is said he survived for seventeen days by eating the grain that fell through from the Castle granary above the dungeon.

On the way to the dungeon at Dalhousie, you will see a sword hanging on the wall with this posted next to it: Thomas Yeudall- Claymore Armory: this is an exact replica of William Wallace sword which hangs in his monument at Stirling. The cross quillon bars and side rings were constructed to replace the original ones by Robert Selkirk in 1505 to give the sword a more modern appearance. The blade is of Swedish steel tempered to 75%, the hilt is if Ayrshire Oak bound in high quality leather. (It was in reading this that we discovered what we missed at Stirling Castle and I don’t think my husband will ever let me forget it!)

July 5th: Having had enough driving in Edinburgh the day we picked up our car, we decided to hire a taxi to take us into the city for our last day in Scotland. Because there were two things left on my daughter’s bucket list: eat at The Witchery and an underground ghost tour of the Vaults under Edinburgh.
We were we were fortunate to be able to get in to The Witchery at the end of our Journey. We had reservations at the beginning of our adventure but there was a mix-up at the witchery and only because my daughter really wanted to go there, we tried to fit it in at the end of our trip.  We were able to have an odd hour late lunch of 3pm at the establishment.  This place is truly creepy.  The service is not what I expected for such a sought-after place and after the mix-up at the beginning of the trip it wasn’t a surprise.  However, the food was superb.

This is printed on the back of the menu: “Established nearly forty years ago by James Thomson OBE, in a historic building at the gates of Edinburgh Castle, the Witchery takes its name from the many hundreds of witches burned at the stake, on Castle hill, during the reign of James VI than anywhere else in Scotland and the area around the Witchery by the Castle remains deep in history.

The Witchery occupies a substantial Sixteenth Century building in Boswell’s Court, named after former resident, James Boswell, uncle of Dr. Johnson’s biographer. It has been in continuous occupation for over four centuries, latterly as committee rooms for the Church of Scotland and as the Rectory of a nearby church. Castle hill has always been at the center of Scottish history, The Palace of Mary de Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scot, stood on the opposite side of the street, adjacent to some of the Witchery’s luxurious suites in Jollie’s Court.

Originally built in 1595 for merchant Thomas Lowthian, the candlelit Witchery is entered from a traditional close off the Royal Mile, where the original inscription on the doorway bearing his initials and motto ‘O Lord in thee is all my traist’ can still be read, whilst the ancient stone doorway built into the tower in the Secret Garden features the arms of the Duke of Gordon, Keeper of the keys to Edinburgh Castle.”

I will tell you this, besides the incredible history of the place and the scary ambiance, the food… well especially the dessert was phenomenal. I had a lavender meringue pudding they called it -with raspberry jam and blueberries and strawberry clotted crème. I could have followed the waiter back to the kitchen and licked the bowl, I kid you not.

After the meal, we had some spare time waiting for our Ghosts Stories tour so we sat on some benches by Parliament. There in the square is a statue that caught my attention, James Braidwood 1800-1861. I remember thinking he only lived 61 years – and wondering who he was that he had a statue in the square. I got up and looked at the other side of the monument…well, this one is for all my firefighting friends: Father of the British Fire Service. “This statue is dedicated to the memory of James Braidwood, a pioneer of the scientific approach to firefighting. It also recognizes the courage and sacrifice of fire-fighters, not only in Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, but all over the world. 
In 1824, Edinburgh suffered two disastrous fires which destroyed much of the old city. As a result, the City Council decided to create the world’s first Municipal Fire Brigade and James Braidwood was appointed to take command.

Quickly establishing an effective service, he developed new fire-fighting techniques, many of which are still used today. In 1832, he left his native Edinburgh to establish London’s first full-time fire brigade. 
Always at the front of the action, he was killed while fighting a fire in London’s Tooley Street.”

And then it was time.  Finally, the last of the bucket list: The creepy Evening of Ghosts & Ghouls tour was led by a fun Frenchman named Jeremy from Mercat Tours. He kept us captivated with his storytelling style and I must admit his accent proved to make the story telling memorable. Before we went below, Jeremy took us around the St Giles Square and through some very tiny walkways.  He taught us that if anyone ever asks you what to do when you hear “Gardiloo” being shouted from above, please as quick as you can hold up your hands and yell, “Hold your hands!”. If you are not quick enough you could find yourself doused in excrement!

The buildings in Edinburgh seem tall to me but there are only a shadow of what used to be. 12 and 13 story buildings without indoor plumbing! Buckets of shall we say brown water thrown from a window into the close (close is smaller than what we are used to as an American alley- really feels like an outdoor hallway but does pass between buildings). Just a lesson from our guide Jeremey! All the while he introduced us to ghosts and told of short and long rope hangings in the square with angry mobs as well as explained how the square is built on top of many buried bodies.

We had already walked the mile, and my teenager had really soaked up the lore and wanted to see firsthand the underground vaults. These vaults were only discovered and excavated in the 1980’s! Jeremey told us stories of how grave robbers used the underground tunnels to move dead bodies to the surgeries as it was a lucrative business.

People hid in these tunnels, many businesses had storerooms or workrooms in the vaults, some people were simply seeking shelter with nowhere to go once kicked of their highland lands. But some under cover of night could move things through the tunnels without detection and so, ghost stories abound. In reality, the vaults are not truly underground but the remnants of arches from a great bridge that spanned the valley near the Castle hill. Those arches hold up a main road of the city and there are a great number of vaults.

All that ghost and ghoul stuff made this American want a glass of wine! Personally, I wish I had sampled some Claret that was purported to have been stored in some of the vaults. Well, next Holiday, right?

We really enjoyed the rich history and the fun food – where else can you eat Salmon every day, Mackerel, Trout, Hare, Haggis, Black Pudding and remarkable dessert everyday.  Oh and the little toast trolly on the breakfast table, have to buy one of those!  However,what I did miss was a good hearty salad like no other, and we nearly missed our connecting flight in Chicago.  When we arrived home we certainly needed a vacation from our vacation.  Already dreaming where we can travel to for our next adventure.

Goodbye Scotland, Helo USA

These are a few of my Favorite Things

The Sound Of Music!  Oh my goodness that movie makes me SING!  All the songs get to me but this one in particular:

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles and warm woolen Mittens, Brown paper packages tied up with strings, These are a few of my favorite things.”

I can hear Julie Andrews in my head and then I hear myself and know the gift of song is not one of mine!  Never the less, I can at least share some of my favorite things with you and you wont even have to hear me sing.  Trust me, that’s a blessing!

kaia hydro headbandsThere are some things I love, one of them is working out.  I found Ohana in a program called Kaia Fit, a women’s only workout program.  Never before have I had so much fun getting into shape.  We use our own body weight for many exercises but also these awesome handmade kettlebells we call handbags.  My newest one is a hefty 20 pounder!  When I work out, I definitely need to hydrate and I can’t do it without my Hydro Flask.  I bought my first Hydro Flask on Oahu, but thankfully I have bought more on Amazon and it makes it to the mainland.  Currently I am growing out my bangs, they get in my face when I exercise so I keep them in line with MeKeAlohaBands- so many colors so many choices, LOVE.

YL favsI started using Young Living Essential Oils about a year and a half ago and never looked back.  I have some very favorite oil combinations that my family likes to diffuse: Daily- 5 drops Lavender, 5 drops Lemon, 5 drops Peppermint, so incredibly refreshing.  My all time favorite oil is Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood and today I diffused 2 drops with 2 drops each of Rose and Jasmine.  My house smells like a fresh flower garden, its beautiful!  Every month I have to reorder Lavender Foaming Hand Soap; it reminds me of the Lavender Farm on Maui.  My hands smell so good after washing!  And every month I have to order Deep Relief, a blend of Essential Oils that help me with my sore muscles, because lets face it, I go hard when I work out.

Today I am especially enthralled with my Mother’s Day gift: a new leather watch band for my Apple Watch.  Which by the way, I love the Apple Watch and this new band just sings of Aloha.apple watch bandAnd my last two favorite things well, they are in argument with each other.  I LOVE coffee.  But I know that 3 or 4 Lattes a day are not good for me.  I would not survive however without Nespresso and these fantastic little espresso pods.  FullSizeRender (003)The foaming milk accessory is a must and I am trying to go to only 1 a day!  I have purchased a brand new toy to get me through the rest of the day: Breville One touch Tea Maker.  It is really fun to use and easy. And I am working my way through a bag of Jasmin Pearls & Citrus Lavender- green tea.  This tea maker is so smart.  It knows how hot and how long to brew the tea based on the type of tea it is!  It will also keep my tea warm so I can brew more than one cup and come back later for more!tea I hope to lesson my caffeine intake so this here machine should help me get it together.  Well back to singing and scaring the family pets with my voice…

“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I am feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Inspiration

WWII vetMy ocean view hotel room was beautiful but my hotel had no coffee services other than the little K-Cup maker in the room.  Quite the coffee snob, I remembered seeing a little deli grocery store a few blocks away and thought I would head out bright and early before the conference began to get a real cup of espresso.  It was a cold morning on the coast and the wind off the ocean made my eyes tear up.  But nothing was going to keep me from a real cup of heaven.  As I reached the deli, I realized I was a little early and the store was not yet open so I looked over the newspaper stand to read the headlines.  In my peripheral view I saw an elderly gentleman jogging up to the store.  He stopped right in front of me and announced, “I just ran two and a quarter miles.”

What a character I was thinking as I took in his appearance, bright yellow wind breaker, WWII veteran ball cap, and leather gardening gloves.  I noticed he wore a hearing aid so I spoke up as I talked to him.  I told him it was admirable his staying in shape.  He told me he was 84 years old and I listened to him tell me his story.  He was a retired civil engineer, had 37 Caltrans projects going on at one time and designed freeways.  Sadly, his wife died just last Christmas Eve and he canceled his newspaper subscription so that he would be forced to run to the store every day to get a paper and talk to people.  He was quite social.  The gentleman explained to me that running everyday is what kept his body strong and he wore such heavy gloves so that when he did fall he didn’t cut up his palms.  He had had some face plants and grinned as he told me.  But even so he believed the daily jaunt kept his body strong so that when he did fall he was unhurt.

The deli opened and the store employees all greeted him, the regular that he was.  When I got my coffee, he had already paid for his paper and left.  I was determined to see him again; he left an impression on me that lingered and I shared his story with my conference table mates. So the next morning I rushed through my own morning routine so as not to miss him at the store.  And as he jogged up to the store, he greeted me with a big smile, “Hello again!”  We chatted a bit about his need to hire a contractor to repair his home having had a fire just last week.  He said he was able to put it out but it caused some damage and he also needed a new roof.  As he told me his problems, he just didn’t seem horribly upset about what might cause loads of stress for someone else.  I don’t doubt he will get his home repaired with any trouble, so confident he was.

I then decided I wanted to share his story with you and explained to him my desire to write about him and take his picture for this blog.  He gave me a smile as he thought about why I thought he was inspirational.  He figured he was just a regular guy. When he gave me permission, I told him he made my day.  He said, “No, you made mine.”

 

 

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou

create own luckAs the year 2015 comes to an end, we all tend to look back and try to reflect on where we have been and where we are heading. Many of us tend to spend time with family we may not have seen or spent time with all year. We tend to surround ourselves with people we call familial because of blood but not necessarily those that have become familial because of love. It forces us to see what choices we have made in our lives and to face our hopes for our tomorrow.

This reflection time sends melancholy waves through my spirit. The road I have been on and the turns I have chosen; have I chosen well? Will I continue to travel the course? Do I drive too hard to steer this course? Am I alone in the desire to reach a destination for my family, and my loved ones-those family that are not blood but who I surround myself with by choice?

All this uncertainty reminds me of a book, made movie, but a quote from that movie that I keep on a scrap of paper in journal of collected quotes:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” –Frank Herbert, Dune.

the sleeperThe litany against fear. The first time I heard this I was but a girl. Even then it resonated with my soul and has for years like a voice on the wind steadied by resolve. We all have an inner voice that speaks volumes to us and leads us to make our life choices. As I contemplate and set goals for 2016, I will hear that voice telling me to make good choices, to live a good life, to surround myself with those I care about and to be who I can be proud of, who my children can be proud of. And to make choices that give me new experiences so that I may continue to grow and live a rewarding life.

 

My Lokai Beads

I saw this add for a bracelet and I guess that marketing campaign worked because I ordered it. I saw the same bracelet on someone I knew and thought, “See… I knew that bracelet looked great, I can’t wait until mine arrives!” I love what it represents. She must think like me. Find your balance, the Lokai bracelet. I bought it for a friend. I am reminded to wear it now and again, but should wear it more often for sure. There are two beads on opposite sides of a circle. One is white and encases water from Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth. It represents life’s highest moments and is a reminder to stay humble. Then in the antithesis there is a black bead that encases mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest part of the earth. It represents life’s lows and serves as a reminder to stay hopeful.lokai pic

I wear it today as I contemplate the state of frustration and irritation I feel at listing my To Dos thinking I will never accomplish much and yet I have accomplished so much at the end of the day. Why is there still so much to do, I get so much done in a day? I celebrate that I have the breath to realize there is still another day on the horizon and what I cannot do today I will tackle tomorrow. Life’s joys are fleeting and life’s lows are too as there is only one way to go when on bottom, up.

I just love this bracelet! It makes me think. Do you have one? You need one.

http://mylokai.com/

 

Gymnastics Peanut Butter Energy Balls

peanut butter ballsFirst:  measure 1 Cup of organic oats into your food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the texture you want.

Second: You will then add the 1/4 C of peanut butter (or almond butter or cashew), pulse a few more times.

Third:  Add the honey (2-3 Tablespoons) and vanilla (dash of vanilla) and pulse a few more times.

Last: Roll into nugget sizes of your choice. There you go! It’s that easy!!!

Freeze them for storage, or keep them in the fridge up to two weeks if they last that long!

Note: I have my gymnast eat them at home before going to the gym as some teammates have nut allergies so check with your team/gym.

Ohana

I want to talk about Ohana today. I have been so overwhelmed with so many things lately and this blog has needed new content! What does Ohana mean?

Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.ohana

I have learned firsthand that family or Ohana is not just blood relative family but a person for whom you respect, admire, and would rush to aid if they had a need. Have you ever had a friend whom you lost touch with but years later found they were in need? I have. My friend was in dire condition. I was moved to tears to find that some of my co-workers felt that same sense of Ohana where my friend was concerned and I got to witness them all come together to see his world put back right. What a beautiful thing this Ohana.

I am moved to simply say Mahalo from the bottom of my heart – they know who they are, my Ohana.