Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vacation Prep: Packing for Pets


It's fly week for us, and as new pet parents, we are anxious about leaving our sweet Gracie for longer than a weekend. 

We know she will be in good hands. We are blessed with friends who have offered to take her for an extended playdate with their own pup, Sasha. 

Nonetheless, we are making a list of everything Gracie and her caregivers might need while we're away. 

Here's what we packed.

  • Her crate and bed: Gracie still sleeps in her crate at night and will often spend time in it during the day, if she will be unsupervised. It's a matter of safety and comfort for our den-loving girl. 
  • Chew toys
  • Her heart worm and flea/tick monthly repellent
  • Her long lead and leash
  • Her favorite treats
  • Her food and water bowl (and food)
  • A copy of her vaccinations and vet information and her pet insurance information, in case of an emergency. 

We're going to miss our girl, but we both know that Gracie is going to have the time of her life. She has had a few play dates already and she and Sasha are now good friends. It puts our minds at ease. 

Pet parents, have we forgotten anything? 

Have fun, Gracie girl. 




Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lovely Reads #4

Good morning, friends. Happy Sunday. 



Here are a few items that crossed my radar this week. 


The No-Brainer Purge: 20 Items to Get Rid of Right Now without a Second Thought

The decision to de-clutter is easy, but it's often easier said than done. This helps. 

How to Quit Your Job and Become a Digital Nomad in 90 Days

This isn't for everyone, but if location independence is your end goal, this free bootcamp from Rob at Money Nomad may be worth reading. If it's important to you, make it happen.  

Why Snapchat Matters

Aside from sending funny filtered snaps to my teenage niece, I don't understand this incredibly popular social media platform. Adventurous Kate helps to breaks it down and explain why it's important to anyone who wants to further build a brand. 

Even on Food Issues, Politics Divides Americans
This was a really interesting take on how our politics shape our attitudes on food, including sustainability, food safety, and trust in government programs related to food. 

When Breaking News Breaks Your Spirit, Is It Okay to Tune Out?

More and more, I encounter people who say they no longer watch the news because it is saturated with sadness and mean-spirited messages. What say you?


What was on your radar this week? Send me a link, if you so desire. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody. Cheers!

Special happy birthday wishes to the Señor, whose birthday was yesterday. 




Happy Birthday, love. 
¡Te quiero!


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Friday, July 22, 2016

A Castle on the Side of the Road: Exploring Vimianzo in Galicia, Spain

Vimianzo is a town on the way to the end of the world, Finisterre, in northwest, Galicia, Spain. 

As you make your way into the center of town, you pass this...


Spain has its share of castles, and this one is a lovely find. 

Castillo de Vimianzo is a 12th century castle built by the Moscoso family of Mariño de Lobeira. The castle changed ownership through the years, following conflict and reconstruction. 


On July 1st of every year, the castle is remembered with the Asalto de Castillo, or Attack on the Castle, commemorating the Irmandiño War, during which people rebelled against the feudal lords who oppressed and abused them by attacking their castles and forts. 

Today, the castle is open to visitors who can observe traditional Galician handworks, including bobbin lace makers, called palilleiras, leather workers, pottery makers, basket weavers, and silver and gold smiths. 

There are plenty of photo opps in this historical "playground."  


It's a fun place to explore after lunch and a Spanish siesta. 


Vimianzo Castle is open Tuesdays through Sundays. It is maintained by the local government and it is free to explore. 

Rúa de Torre 22
15129 Vimianzo Spain
981-716-354





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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Preparing the Littles for Kindergarten: A Teacher's Perspective


Walk through any big box store and, already, you can see the Back to School banners, and like every new school year, some parents of five year olds are anxious and unsure whether they are ready to send their children into the unknown world of academic kindergarten. 


I am not a parent, but I am an auntie, and I am a teacher in an elementary school, working with students in kindergarten through grade four. Kindergarten is not the developmental kindergarten of years passed; academic kindergarten has significant cognitive demands and high expectations of social and emotional behavior. 

Whether you agree or disagree with the trajectory of American education, the reality is that this is the climate of kindergartens in the United States, and in schools and districts marked by poverty, the rigidity of curriculum is inescapable. 

Every year, parents, in genuinely wanting what is best for their children, ask what they can do to prepare their kids for school success. 

In my opinion, the best way to prepare children for the demands of an academic, standards-based kindergarten is through engagement

Here are some ideas to help. 

1. Engagement in literacy and numeracy. 

  • Read to your child and model reading with your child...let them see you as a reader and the value you give to reading. Children can "read" the pictures, even if they can't read the words...and no, they do not have to come to kindergarten reading...but, they have to leave kindergarten reading. 
  • Can your child identify upper and lowercase letters and sounds? Can he or she identify the numbers one through ten? 
  • Vocabulary development is critical to literacy. Call objects by their names. Add descriptors related to size and color and degrees of comparison. 
  • Play with synonyms and antonyms and shades of meaning. Provide other ways of saying words. For example, explore shades of color and other ways to express various actions and emotions. Play with opposites and precision of language in self expression. 
  • Count forwards and backwards and skip count (by 10s, for example) and begin the concepts of adding and subtracting. 
  • Notice patterns and comparisons (for example, bigger or smaller, faster or slower) and make predictions based on those patterns.  


2.  Engagement in conversation and social skills. 
  • Meal time and drive time is the perfect time for conversation. Ask open-ended questions, like how, why, or why do you think that. Ask them to explain something to you and ask you questions. 
  • Talk about reading. Ask them to retell stories and make predictions. 
  • Allow them to make choices and encourage them to explain themselves. 
  • Allow them to play with others, unplugged and try to stay out of conflict as much as possible, allowing them to find resolution through words and logical consequences.

3. Engagement with their community. 
  • Visit the local library and take advantage or story and craft time. 
  • Use museum passes to local museums. 
  • Expose kids to experiences and build their cultural literacy. 
  • Travel as much as you can. Be a tourist in your own local community, city, state capital or region. 

4. Engagement with nature. 
  • Allow children to play outside, unplugged from technology and media. 
  • Let them get dirty and use their imaginations.  
  • Ride bikes, climb mountains, splash in puddles, grow gardens (and cook together), play in snow, and in wind, and at the beach. Learn to swim. 
  • Visit local farms or farmers' markets and teach them the connection between farms and food. 
  • Teach kids how to respect the natural world and plant seeds of stewardship. Recycle and clean up litter. 
  • Learn how to approach animals safely and treat animals with respect and kindness. 

5.  Engage with themselves. 
  • Allow kids quiet play, read-to-self time, and time to entertain themselves with imaginative play. 

The reality is that parents are their children's first teachers. The experiences children have with their parents and siblings set the foundation for their future learning. It's not all or nothing. Do what you can and we'll take care of the rest. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer. 



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kayaking with Manatees on the Weeki Wachee River

One of the highlights of my trip to Florida, and one of my top experiences overall, was kayaking the Weeki Watchee River in central Florida. 


My sister-in-law, who knows me pretty well, suggested this excursion last year, but for one reason or another, we never made it out there. Admittedly, I was hesitant, having only been kayaking once, and my uncertainty over whether river kayaking was for me nudged me toward lazy days at the beaches Siesta Key and St. Pete/Clearwater over paddling downstream. 


How wrong I was. 


After suggesting it again this year, reassuring me of my alligator and heat stroke concerns, my sister-in-law (and kayak pilot) booked our reservation at Paddling Adventures at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on Florida's Nature Coast. Soon, we were on our way.  

From the moment we launched, I knew I would have a great day. It was so beautiful; the water was crystal clear. 

My niece piloted a kayak with her friend, and my sister-in-law piloted ours.

She's a pro!

A gentle current guided us down the stream, which was canopied by cypress, oak, and palm trees. The rangers told us that we could observe fish, turtles, and birds, and just after launching our kayaks, we saw this guy drying his wings in the morning sun. 



There are places to stop and swim all along the route, once you exit the state park portion of the 5.5 mile route. 

Checking out shells and playing with the Go-Pro. 

You can wade along the sandbars, swim in the cool river, or even jump from a tree into the deeper water of the crystal clear Weeki Wachee River. 


My daredevil niece and her friend had fun with this. 


We knew that manatees visited this area, but we didn't expect to see them, since they are known for visiting during the winter months, when the gentle herbivores migrate toward warmer water to feed on the river's grasses and plants. 

We were wrong. 

This manatee swam right under our kayak!



To see a manatee in her natural environment felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience...so gentle, so graceful. What a thrill!

Once we arrived at Rogers Park, we were assisted out of the river by the Paddling Adventure guides, and after they stowed our kayaks and gear, they shuttled us back to our launch point. 

My Weeki Wachee adventure exceeded my expectations beyond measure. If you are visiting Florida's Nature Coast, make this experience a must. 


Paddling Adventures at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

6131 Commercial Way
Weeki Wachee, Florida 34606
352-597-8484

What is an experience you had that exceeded your expectations after going into it unsure about whether you would even enjoy it?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sobrado Abbey: A 10th Century Monastery in Galicia, Spain


The Santa Maria de Sobrado Abbey is located in the A Coruña province of Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain. It is situated on the original site of a Benedictine monastery dating back to the 10th century, but has since been managed by the Order of Cistercian monks. 




The newer, Baroque abbey church, built at the end of the 17th century, was dedicated in 1708, featuring the recognizable cupolas and domes. 


The original monastery was soon abandoned, but it was re-founded in 1142 as a Cistercian monastery, and it flourished through the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1498, the Sobrado Abbey was the first in Galicia to join the Castilian Cistercian Congregation.








Today, the Sobrado Abbey offers a guest house for spiritual reflection and retreat, and a hostel for peregrinos, or pilgrims, who are walking the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route across Spain, which ends in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.



If you visit, be sure to go into town for a drink or a tapa, where you are sure to share space with peregrinos sipping cafe con leche or drinking a caña (a refreshing glass of beer, mixed with lemon soda), playing cards or a guitar, or journaling about their experience. 



The Santa Maria de Sobrado Abbey was a lovely find, indeed. 


The Santa Maria de Sobrado Abbey
Praza Portal, s/n, 15813 Sobrado dox Monxes
A Coruña, Spain
+34 981 78 75 09



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Weekending with my Girl in Tampa


Greetings from swampy and hotter than hell Tampa, Florida. I am melting soaking up the rays and having a great time with my favorite girl. 


And, at 15, she is a newly permitted driver. 


Thank goodness for all of us, she's a natural. 

Driving in Florida is not easy. Making a left turn can involve 6-8 lanes of traffic. 

Thankfully, she is careful and aware of her surroundings; she is going to be a great driver.


I reunited with some old friends and met a couple of new ones. My niece is fostering kittens. 

She's a critter whisperer, for sure. She wants to be a veterinarian when she's older, and she even volunteers at a local animal hospital. 

Missing from this picture is Mizty, her older baby-faced cat. 


So far, it has been a fun, low-key, relaxing visit. 

We spent most of the weekend by the pool, dodging rain showers....but then there are the rainbows. 


We also have been playing games, like Rumikub, The Game of Life, and Monopoly Empire and watching movies, like The Maze Runner (and its sequel, The Scorch Trials) and If I Stay

The kittens like the game boxes...instant cat catchers. 

I found summer here, for sure, and the chance to spend time with my favorite girl makes this time cherished time. 


I hope you had a great weekend as well. What did you do? 

American friends, how was your 4th of July?



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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5 Podcasts for the Location Indie Lifestyle


Most people have an end goal...some big, scary push goal, as they say, that pushes them through the day to day tasks related to achieving that end goal. 

Some stay motivated with vision boards; others seek personal development through books by leaders in their field. Others join mastermind groups made up of people pushing toward a common goal. These groups can meet in person regularly or through conferences, or in online groups and forums, and typically, as with anything, you get out of them what you put into them. 


I engage in a lot of personal development, but my favorite these days comes from podcasts. My go-to podcasts are in the areas of travel and location independence. If you're like me and would love the freedom to work anywhere or to create a more intentional life, these podcasts will help you build a mastermind that helps you achieve any goal on your list. 


While I don't listen to every episode of each podcast in its entirety, I cull nuggets of wisdom and action steps I can take from each episode that I download. 


As with anything, I get out of them what I put into them.

1. An Uncluttered Life with Warren and Betsy Talbot 

Learn how to live your Plan A life with practical strategies to remove the physical and emotional clutter that weighs you down. Each 30 minute podcast comes with a downloadable worksheet outlining the topic strategy and how it works. Warren and Betsy also offer courses and an online support community called The Life Lab to help you reach your goals. 

2. The Chalene Show and Build Your Tribe

Chalene Johnson is a motivational speaker, fitness trainer, and social media strategist. The Chalene Show is a mixed bag of personal and business development and the Build Your Tribe podcast is dedicated to branding, digital marketing and community building. 

4. Location Indie
This podcast features Travis from Extra Pack of Peanuts and Jason from Zero to Travel, two  well-known travel-based podcasts in their own right. With this project, they collaborate to provide "an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at what the location independent and digital nomad lifestyle really looks like." They also offer an online support community to help you achieve your own location independent goals. 

5. Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
This podcast is dedicated to all things related to creating and maintaining an online business. The podcast features interviews with leaders in the field, like Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Chalene Johnson

There are countless others as well. Do a topic search for podcasts in iTunes or whatever platform you use. You can download specific episodes or subscribe to entire podcasts. You can build a mastermind around the topics that interest you. 

Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites?




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Monday, June 27, 2016

Move over, Sangria...Try Tinto de Verano

People outside of Spain tend to believe that sangria is the drink of choice throughout Spain. It is widely available, but it's for the tourists. Spaniards are drinking gin and tonics, clara con limón (close to a Summer Shandy of beer and a lemon-flavored soda) and tinto de verano, literally, the wine of summer. 


Tinto de Verano is sangria without the work (or the brandy). It's simply an equal mixture of red table wine and a gaseosa, some carbonated soda, like seltzer or lemon-lime soda. Serve it over ice, and you're good to go...easy and refreshing. 

¡Salud!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Lovely Places: Pilgrim's Inn on Deer Isle, Maine

Overlooking a serene mill pond in Down East Maine, Pilgrim's Inn on Deer Isle in Penobscot Bay, was the perfect place for the Señor and I to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. 

Built in 1793, this beautifully restored post and beam inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. Innkeepers, Tony Lawless and Tina Oddleifson, purchased the inn in 2005. Their hospitality philosophy is "to anticipate the needs of our guests and provide excellent service, while at the same time giving people the space to create their own experience." And they did, indeed. 

Pilgrim's Inn is a member of Select Registry, a portfolio of more than 300 quality assured, premier bed and breakfasts, inns, and select hotels. Each property is held to a 200 point inspection, insuring that guests are treated to the highest quality experience. Tony and Tina provided that, and so much more. 



From the middle of May through the middle of October, Pilgrim's Inn offers twelve rooms in the main inn, as well as three cottages for a more secluded experience. All rooms have private baths, lush linens, air conditioning, bathrobes and hairdryers. 

Guests have access to free, on-site parking, wireless internet throughout the inn, a guest computer, and a guest phone line, which offers free calls throughout the US and Canada. The main room has a library filled with books and a game room with board games and cable television, the only television in the inn.


Outside, the property has Adirondack chairs for relaxing beside the pond. 


And lovely grounds to stroll. 


The Señor and I stayed in Room 2, featuring a beautiful king-sized bed that overlooks the mill pond, lawn and gardens. 



The experience of an inn like Pilgrim's Inn and many Select Registry properties, is found in the details. 


BeeKind is a line of products with all-natural ingredients. A portion of their sales goes to honeybee research. 

Such a lovely touch. 

We had dinner in the Whale's Rib Tavern, and what a treat it was!


Fun lobster trap chairs. 

We began with drinks in the bar. The Señor enjoyed a local brew, and I asked the bartender to create something fruity. Using fresh Maine blueberries, that's exactly what she did, and it was delicious. 


In the dining room of the restaurant, the Señor and I toasted to our anniversary over a bottle of  full-bodied cabernet. He enjoyed a perfectly cooked grilled beef tenderloin and I chose a grilled duck breast. 



For dessert, we chose a chocolate pot de creme and Maine blueberry crisp. It was easily, one of the best meals of our lives.  

Reservations are highly suggested at this destination restaurant. The staff is knowledgeable, helpful with recommendations, and do everything to make your experience one to remember. Tony, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with over 25 years of industry experience, oversees the kitchen and insures the highest quality of flavor, presentation, and service. 

A full breakfast for two people is included in your stay at Pilgrim's Inn, and homemade cookies, fresh fruit, and beverages are available throughout the day. Breakfast is served in the inn's restaurant, the Whale's Rib Tavern, and, at this time, is open to guests of the inn only. 



Pilgrim's Inn was featured in the The Boston Globe and Maine Magazine, and was an Editor's Choice in Yankee Magazine. It was also featured in A Thousand Places to See Before You Die: North America Edition. In addition, Pilgrim's Inn has received Certificate of Excellence awards from Trip Advisor, and they are members of the Diamond Collection with BedAndBreakfast.com

Deer Isle, Maine, is close to Acadia National Park, Stonington, and Isle au Haut. It is rich with activities related to hiking, kayaking, bird-watching, art galleries, and farmers' markets.  

Anyone can stay at a chain hotel that offers an impersonal front-end experience; but if you're looking for more...a place where you are welcomed as if you were coming home, then choose a Select Registry property like the Pilgrim's Inn and experience Down East Maine like a local. It is a lovely place, indeed. 

We are grateful to Tony and Tina, who hosted our stay and anniversary celebration, in partnership with Select Registry

For booking information, call 888-778-7505. Pilgrim's Inn is located at 20 Main Street, Deer Isle, Maine. They can be contacted at innkeeper@pilgrimsinn.com. 



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