Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hopes and Dreams

I teach 8th grade. My students range in age from 13-15. In the fall, they move on to the high school. They are on the edge of everything. 

Middle school is a challenge...for students, for parents, for teachers. They are diverse physically, emotionally, socially, academically, culturally, socioeconomically and every other way you can be diverse from one another. 

Yet one thing that brings them all together is their hopes and dreams. They all have them. And they want you to ask them about them. 

They might not want to tell you, but deep down, they want you to ask.

I have an anchor chart in my classroom that gives my kids an opportunity to anonymously post their hopes and dreams. 

As the year comes a close, the chart has been busy. ♥ 

Yup...the bottom one says, "Be a Superhero" it!

THIS is why I teach. 

I LOVE their hopes and dreams. I love that they share them with me, with their peers, with the world. 

I hope that I inspire them to hope and dream. 

I hope that I prepare them with the skills and the confidence they need to pursue their hopes and dreams 

If you are blessed with kids in your life...ask them. 

Your heart, like mine, will be full. ♥

What are your hopes and dreams?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Road Trip Survival Guide: 6 Steps for Sanity

Now that Memorial Day is behind us, so begins the summer travel season. And for many of us, road trips are a way to escape for a couple of days or longer in search of respite from the day to day work grind.

According to AAA, 36.1 million Americans were projected to travel 50 miles or more by car over the Memorial Day Weekend alone, up 1.5% from last year. That's a lot of pit stops.

As part of a couple who loves road trips, I have learned some valuable lessons that make the journey just as memorable as the destination. Here's what I learned: 

1. Share the load. Offer to drive and give him or her a break to snooze, catch up on email or social media or to just look out the window. He or she will appreciate the break and your willingness to share the load.

2. Don't feel like you have to talk all the time. Share space and be confident in your quiet time to think, practice your selfies, meditate, wonder at what you see and play with naughty thoughts to make your stay-over that much more fun.

3. Plan ahead. Pack snacks. Pack water. Pack tissues. Pack medicine for a pop-up headache. Pack antacids. Pack a travel blanket and pillow. It's better to be prepared. I eat every 3-4 hours, but my husband could eat once or twice a day. To keep me from becoming "that girl" I pack a protein bar. Then, I'm good to go and a much happier co-pilot.

4. Be a diplomatic DJ. When making your play list, consider what both parties want to hear and play nice...take turns.

5. Do yourselves a favor, and if you don't have one already, get a dual port car charger. 

6. Recognize that art is all around you. if you're in the passenger seat, be ready to snap a picture whenever the mood strikes you. Maybe there's an amazing cloud formation, or the approach of a striking bridge. You never know when inspiration will hit, and with the amazing photo editing filters available, you can let your inner artist free.

I love taking road trips with my husband. Whether it's to a coffee house and bakery across state lines or north of the border into Canada, exploring the northern coast of Spain, or venturing south into Portugal, road trips can be about the journey as much as they are about the destination. 

Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

What are your favorite road trip tips?

Monday, May 26, 2014

With a Grateful Heart

Thank you to all those who fought for our country, to those who serve today, and for their families who love them. 

Blessings to you all on this Memorial Day and always. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014


I didn't have the best time in high school. I went to a small high school, where i traveled with most of the same kids most of the time for four years, and in some cases, for twelve. Familiarity, indeed, can breed contempt.

I was the fat kid, a little awkward and somewhat shy...a fairly easy target. I backed down from confrontation and insulated myself from social barbs in the ways I knew. There was a lot going on at school and behind the scenes. At times, I wasn't sure things would, or even could, get better. 

But they did. 

Once I got to college, I found a place where I was just me. I was still fat, but I was me, first. I made lifelong friends, and I found my voice. 

Now, most of my high school classmates are all connected on Facebook. Many of us have seen each other socially, and we have all grown into adults of whom we can be proud. There is no animosity (that I can tell) and we are happy to reconnect as adults. 

I received a message recently, from a high school acquaintance, who wrote to apologize to me for being a bystander when we were in high school. She said that she saw what was happening to me and she wished she had the courage to stop it. She said she is now raising her own children not to be bystanders. And that she would kick in the teeth of my bullies if it happened today. This message meant more than she will ever know for three reasons. 

First, it warmed my heart that she took time to reach out to me in this way. Second, it means so much that, despite what happened then, she noticed me in a time when I felt mostly invisible to everyone, except my bullies. And third, she is raising her own children to be tolerant and empathetic. This can be a lifesaver to someone else in crisis.

Bullies can be relentless and it's scary to put yourself in a physically and socially risky situation to help another. I don't fault her for this. In fact, I let her know that she had no reason to apologize. As I told her in my reply. I am living proof that it gets better. Because it does. 

I learned a long time ago that forgiveness is not so much about the person who did you wrong, but more about the peace that comes when you let it go. 

This is not to say that you forget what happened. All it means is that when you forgive, you release yourself from the wrongdoing. And you can find peace.

I have long forgiven those who hurt me in school. I have been so richly blessed in my life since then. Going to college where I did saved my life. It gave me hope that I could create the life that I wanted. I made some amazing friends...lifelong friends. And I found the voice I needed to advocate for myself and my dreams.

And it keeps getting better. 

I am blessed to have the opportunity to get together with this old new friend later this week. I can't wait to give her a hug and let her know that I think she is an amazing woman and mother and friend. How lucky we are to reconnect. 

Have you ever reconnected with long-lost friends? Or reconnected with a friend with whom your relationship was bruised or damaged?

What are your thoughts on forgiveness?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Foodie Friends Friday Blog Hop!

Welcome to the

Linky Party!!

I'm thrilled to be co-hosting this week's blog hop. Link up your recipes and share your fabulous foodie fun. 
Last week's recipes that received the MOST CLICKS!!  

Please take a moment to read through the rules before getting started, Thank You!

*By linking up you agree that you read these rules and all photos/recipes are original and belong to you. You agree to allow Foodie Friends Friday and any of it's affiliated websites or publications (Social Girls Media, LLC) to use photos, links, and recipes for reprint and/or republishing and distribution without monetary compensation to you. If photos & recipes are used, proper link backs to you will be included.



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Please remember to do this. It benefits you! To thank you, we will continue to feature those with links throughout the year on various outlets.

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Did you see all the recipes that caught their attention last week? Check out the Host Favorites on the Daily Dish for links to all the recipes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lovely Lugo...A Stroll Around the Wall

Lugo, the capital city of the province of Lugo, in Galicia, Spain, is the only city in the world that is surrounded by completely intact Roman walls used for protection against Germanic invaders in the 3rd century.

The wall has 10 gates in total, 5 of which are Roman, dating from 263-276 AD, and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two best preserved gates are Porta Falsa and Porta Miña. Of the original towers, 49 are still intact and another are 39 partially intact.

The entire circuit of the wall, which measures nearly 2 kilometers, is accessible to visitors and has been traveled by pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago since the Middle Ages, who most often passed through Porta Miña on their way to Santiago de Compostela. 

Within the confines of the wall is the old city, featuring a cathedral dedicated to St. Mary, originally built in 1129, though the facade and towers date to 1769.

There is much to see along the wall, from the modernity of Lugo's bustling city streets to the echoes of long past within the old city paths.

You lookin' at me?

Once you finish walking the perimeter of the wall, stroll around Plaza Mayor. Its large lawn area is close to the cathedral and hosts numerous cafes and restaurants overlooking the Plaza where you can get a coffee con leche, a tinto or a caña, as well as a tapa or two. You can people watch, admire the art, or just relax.

Lugo is only about an hour's drive from La Coruña and provides the perfect day trip excursion. If you're ever in Galicia, on a UNESCO World Heritage Site tour, or in Spain looking for something to see, consider the city Lugo and the Roman Wall and wonder at the stories those stones could tell.

Have you been to Lugo? What UNESCO Sites have you seen? Inspire me. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Us

Today is our years together, two years married. We are blessed.

"I have for the first time found what I can truly love -- I have found you. You are my sympathy -- my better self -- my good angel -- I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you -- and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one."    ~Charlotte Bronte

I give you my hand,
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law:
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
~Walt Whitman

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
~Pablo Neruda

Here's to another year of love and laughter...of travel and adventure...and of mixing up the glasses and the toothbrushes.

Happy Anniversary to my love. Happy Anniversary to us! Amor para siempre.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Date night al home

When the weather warms, the living gets a bit easier. There is no equivalent for a lovely night outside, under the stars with someone you love. If you want an easy, no-cook dinner, here's 5 things to gather for your party. 

1. Start with a cocktail or a cocktail. 
In the morning, before work, prepare a pitcher of my famous sangria. It is not too sweet and it is a crowd-pleaser, even with a romantic crowd of two. 

2. Build a charcuterie plate. 
Use a big wooden cutting board and assemble your favorite creamy cheeses and savory meats for the beginnings of a charcuterie board that you can make your own. Here's what we put on ours:

  • Manchego cheese from Spain
  • Local smoked gouda or aged Vermont cheddar
  • A creamy goat cheese infused with honey or fig, or coated with blueberries or cranberries and cinnamon.
  • Prosciutto
  • Jamon Serrano, if we can find it, or Spanish Chorizo 
  • French baguette
  • Gherkins for a sweet bite or dill or half-sour pickles
  • Assorted dried fruits, like figs, dates, or apricots. 
  • A sprinkling of nuts, or olives.
  • Add whatever you like...make it yours. 
And if charcuterie's not your thing, bring home a pizza and share it on a blanket under the stars with a bottle of wine or your beverage of choice.

3. Mood music. 
Our go-to Pandora station is Diana Krall, but consider a station featuring Sade, or Chris Botti or Miles Davis...or a station that's relevant to you and your love. Bluetooth wireless speakers make it so easy to stream music these days. Have a favorite playlist ready to go? Enjoy!

4. Candles/tiki torches/fire bowl
Here in Massachusetts, may flies take pride in their name. They arrive en masse and at times, overstay their welcome...perhaps waiting for their cousins, the mosquitoes. Regardless of these unwelcome visitors, stay safe and create a romantic barrier of light with candles, tiki torches or a fire bowl so the only nibbles you get come from your love. 

5. Dessert
If you have a fire pit, s'mores seem like the go-to dessert. But with a couple of minutes in the microwave tempering chocolate, you can have chocolate-covered strawberries, or cherries, or whatever is in season. 

Or, if you're not a chocolate person, try this with strawberries...dip them in sour cream and then in brown sugar. I know it sounds crazy, but it's divine 

And of course, if you're lucky enough to live to a farm close by, ice cream stands are a hot bed of romance. After all, it was here that I met my own husband. 

Two spoons, one ice, that's romantic. 

Or better yet, one get the idea.

So we're here. Por fin!  We have waited a loooonnnggg time for this weather. Enjoy it. Soak up every last second and savor these nights you wish would last forever. 

It's spring time, and the living's easy. Or, if the not the least the loving. Enjoy!


Inspire me...what's your perfect outdoor date night?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Visit Spain: La Coruña, Galicia..5 Must-See Sites

Tucked in the northwest corner of Spain is the region of Galicia. Santiago de Compostela, the political capital of the region, is the destination for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain, but La Coruña, the provincial capital, is a must-see unto itself. Located along the Costa de Morte, or Death Coast, the area around La Coruña is marked by quaint fishing villages, jagged sea cliffs and lighthouses.

La Coruña is Galicia's second largest city overall, behind Vigo. It is a port city on a peninsula, whose history dates back to the second century BCE, when the original Celtic tribes were  first visited by the Romans. Later, it is reported that Julius Caesar arrived in Coruña, around 62BCE, in search of a metal trade, hoping to establish commerce with Portugal, France, and England.

Characteristic of Spain, much has changed since the visit of the Romans, but, much remains as well. If you have the opportunity to visit Galicia, make your way to La Coruña, or A Coruña as it is called in Galician. 

La Coruña is a 6 hour drive from Madrid, but its airport serves most Spanish destinations, as well as service to and from London, Lisbon, Paris and Amsterdam; and its busy port disembarks more than 60 cruise ships per year. 

When you arrive, plan to visit these fun sites.

Torre de Hércules or the Tower of Hercules

The 180 foot (55m) tower is the oldest Roman lighthouse, as well as the oldest continually operated lighthouse in the world, believed to be in operation since the second century AD. Built under Trajan, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Cite in 2009. The myth is that Hercules fought and buried the head and weapons of his rival, Geryon, and ordered that a city be built upon the site. Overlooking the North Atlantic Coast, the Tower offers spectacular views as well as an opportunity to meet this guy at the lower sculpture park.

2. Mount of San Pedro Park
For even better views, especially at sunset, head up to the Mount of San Pedro. A former military fort, this park is accessible by funicular or scenic winding road with views of the Millennium Obelisk and a mosaic octopus, which plays homage to the beloved pulp gallego, the region's signature dish. And you can dine at one of Galicia's most famous restaurants, the Mirador de San Pedro.

3. Paseo Maritimo/ The Promenade
No visit to a seaside city or town is complete without a stroll along the beach. Paseo Maritimo, or The Promenade does not disappoint. One of the longest in Europe, this 9km walk (eventually 13km) offers both ocean and city views, including the city's beaches, Riazor and Orzan on the upper side of the peninsula. The port is on the lower side. 

4. Maria Pita Square
The city's Plaza Mayor in the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) is named after La Coruña's heroine, who is said to have climbed the city's highest wall to defend La Coruña against the English armada, led by Sir Francis Drake, in 1589, following her husband's death. Be sure to eat some seafood, including the signature pulp gallego or a tapa and albariño and listen to street performers playing Galician bagpipes, gaita galega.

5. Marineda City Shopping Center
If you're up for a little retail therapy, check out the largest shopping complex in all of Spain and the third largest in all of Europe. Marineda City features anchor stores, such as Decathalon and Ikea, as well as entertainment, including bowling, and ice rink, go carts and a movie theatre.  Fun trivia: La Coruña is House of Zara founder Amancio Ortega. You can visit the original store downtown.

Galicia is often overlooked for the more temperate, sun-soaked destinations in the South. However, the staggering landscape, the kind and humble Gallegos, and the hearty and fresh regional specialties makes Galicia a must-see and La Coruña has it all. 

Even this guy...

And it's not hard to imagine why.