Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Grapes: A New Year's Tradition

This piece has been updated from the archives...wishing you all good things in 2015. I hope all of your wishes come true. 

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year! 

No doubt about it, Spain has great wine! 

And when you're a winemaker, there's bound to be a surplus crop at times. 

I don't know how the tradition of Spaniards eating grapes came to be on New Year's Eve, but it was marketing genius to associate grape-eating with the end of the year. What better way to rid yourself of extra grapes and guarantee the need for fruit late into the season.

If we were in Spain tonight, we certainly would be readying ourselves to celebrate the birth of 2015 with twelve grapes, the tradition of Las doce uvas de la suerte or The Twelve Grapes of Luck

From our home here in New England, we have our grapes ready to go...each of the twelve, ready for our wishes, hopes and dreams for each month of 2015.

With each chime of midnight (based on the clock tower in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, near Kilometre Zero, the center of Spain), Spaniards eat one grape with the beat of each bell. This is said to promise good luck into the new year. 

Here in the States, where time is counted in seconds as the Times Square ball is lowered from its lofty perch, it's tricky to properly space out your grape consumption; however, as long as you eat your last grape before 12:01, you should be in good standing for the new year.  

Think about your twelve wishes. Are they for you? For your family? For the world? Visualize your perfect 2015. 

As 2014 is washed away, and 2015 takes its place, what changes will you make to create a better life for yourself? For your family? For our world?

Get some grapes and start a new New Year's tradition. 

Happy New Year, friends. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo

Wishing you much joy in 2015 and always.


Closing the Books: Top Posts of 2014 and a Blog Hop

This week, the blogosphere has been abuzz with reflections on 2014, and here, it is no different. It's fun to go back and look at what posts were popular in terms of views and comments. As with anything, reflecting on the hits and misses provides the foundation for future plans. 

I am so grateful to my readers. Your comments and support have inspired me to consider projects once thought of as pipe dreams. I can't wait to see 2015 unfold. Thank you!

And now, here are the posts that provided the most traffic in 2014. Have you seen them all? Interestingly, most are among the most pinned as well. 

Be sure to scroll down to the end to find more inspiration from some of my local DIY and crafting blog friends. 

Image provided by Candace at Lucky Scarf. 

1. Summer Road Trip Theme Ideas 

2. Second Anniversary Gift Guide

3. Save Money Now: 25 Ideas for Saving

4. Big Buts

5. Missing the Heart: An Educational Tragedy

6. Ten Healthy Snack Ideas

7. Planning our bilingual, bicultural wedding

8. Three Travel Resolutions You Can Keep

9. Sangria de la Gringa: Best Sangria Ever  also featured here.

10. And the post with the most comments: Decluttering 101

If you're looking for some DIY and craft inspiration, check out these local blogging friends. 

Image provided by Stephanie of Sandpaper and Glue.

1. Candace from Lucky Scarf
2. Stephanie from Sandpaper & Glue
3. Michelle from Weekend Craft
4. Rebecca from Authentically Bold: Rebecca

Happy New Year, friends. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dream it, do it; vision boards for 2015

From the archives...the original post appeared January 3, 2013. As I scour magazines for my 2015 board, I am reminded of the importance of recharging the vision. Cheers!

Like a hamster in a wheel, many of us travel through our days with the same schedule, broken up only by the errands of our weekends and the minute-by-minute activities of our limited vacation time. 

We do the best we can with what we have, but our batteries wear down. 

In the details of our day to day responsibilities, we begin to lose sight of our dreams; we nostalgically remember what once made us smile, and at those crazy times, it all seems like worlds away. 

So what do we do? How do we get it back? How do we recharge our batteries when it seems like all of our chargers are plugged in somewhere else? 

We re-group and we visualize. 

It's time for an arts and crafts project. 

Some rainy Sunday or maybe a quiet Tuesday night, clear off the kitchen table and channel your inner kindergartner. 

It's time to make yourself a vision board.

For this project, you need a big piece of paper. Poster board works well. You also need scissors and a glue stick. 

Scour your house for magazines. If you don't have magazines, you can ask your friends for theirs or you can ask the local doctor's or dentist's office. If you have access to a printer, you can also print images. 

What makes you smile? 
What do you want more of in your life? 
Where do you want to go? 
What do you want to do? 

  • Want to travel to Paris? Find yourself an Eiffel Tower (or some other Parisian icon).
  • Want to run a half marathon or get to a certain level of fitness? Find a picture of a runner with a physique that is appealing to you. 
  • Want a new car? Find your car of choice and paste it on the board.
  • Want to try kayaking? Add that too.
  • Want to get married? Find yourself a bride and groom. If you have someone in mind, add a picture of the two of you. 
  • Want to learn how to cook some fabulous new dishes from a certain cuisine or diet? You get the idea.

Arrange your images in any way you want. You can organize them by theme or in any way the spirit moves you. 

You can also add words and phrases. 

This is your board. 

Your vision. 

Anything goes. 

Now, find a place to put your vision board. It should be someplace where you can see it everyday. It should be in a place where you can ask the universe to deliver all that your heart desires.

And it should be in a place to give you the motivation to seek all that your heart desires. Don't leave it all up to the universe; give her a little help.

Try to update your vision board at least once a year. Keep those images of what still makes your heart pitter patter, and remove those images of dreams you may have outgrown.

Will creating a vision board rescue you from all of life's stress?

Probably not.

But can it recharge your batteries and give you what you need to get through another week? Another month? Another year?


Especially if those images start to become a reality.

What do you have to lose?

Happy dreaming!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Regrouping: Why I love the week between Christmas and New Year's Day

As I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work this morning, I brewed my second cup of coffee with a sigh. 

Here we are, on a Friday, on the day after Christmas, and he has to go to work for one day. 


There should be some sort of law that bridges end of week holidays to the weekend. I guess my head is full of other countries' public holiday sensibilities. 

Ok. Rant over. 

We had a great day shared with family and friends. 
Time with those you love is the best gift of all. 

As a teacher, I don't have to work on the days between Christmas and the New Year.  I know that I am lucky. because not many have this luxury This time off gives me the opportunity to regroup and mentally prepare for my favorite holiday, New Year's Day. 

Whether you're working or not, there are things you can do to transition yourself as the days of 2014 fade into memory.

Reflect on 2014. What brought you smiles? What inspired a desire for change? 
What were your greatest blessings? What do you want to learn more about in the new year?

Think of a word for 2015...something to guide your a trait you would like to harness or a theme to ground your choices. 

And if you're a resolution maker, consider your goals for the new year as you wipe the slate of 2014 clean. 

Think about people who embody traits or lifestyles that you admire and see if there is anything you can glean from these role models. 

How lucky we are that we get a new chance every year to create the life we want. We acknowledge this opportunity annually on January 1st, but really, we have that new chance every day. 

I hope your holidays have been all you have wanted them to be and that you are looking to 2015 with a spirit of eagerness and optimism. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Best Gift Ever

Here we are. It's Christmas Eve. 

Many people are neck-deep in gift-wrapping, baking, and planning last minute runs to the supermarket and mall.

Others are done with Christmas preparations and are celebrating the arrival of faraway family and friends who have returned for the holiday festivities. 

And others are wishing the next few days away.

People arrive at Christmas from many different journeys; some are marked by love and Norman Rockwellian images of love and belonging, and others have ghosts of Christmas past, scarred by pain and trauma. 

Regardless of the lens through which you view Christmas, there are gifts you can give to others which cost nothing, but can change lives. 

Merry Christmas, friends. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Last Minute No-Clutter Gift Ideas

In these last few days before Christmas, we are reminded that time is running out. 

Thank God. 

I like the idea of Christmas, but this mad rush to spend money on stuff that eventually goes to a landfill or the back of a closet just isn't for me. 

Bah humbug.

Based on the news reports, people procrastinate with their holiday shopping because they just don't know what to get the person who seems to have everything. And that seems like most people on many people's guest list. 

Personally, I like doing things rather than having things. And if you know people like that, here are five gift ideas for the person who collects experiences, not stuff.

1. Unstuff

Unstuff Gifts is a clearinghouse of ideas for gifts that you can "download, experience, or ingest." 

Click on an experience and visit websites of vendors offering the service or experience. From there, do your own thing...purchase the product, like a share in a CSA, or the experience, like a Breaking Bad trolley tour. 

There are ideas at every budget level, like spooning Bigfoot by reserving a campground at around $25 or un-beer-belly the one you love with a Cross-Fit membership, at $100-200/month.

2. Tinggly

Tinggly is another experience gifting site. With gift packages starting at $125, you can offer over 100 experiences in over 50 countries for your recipient to choose. And they have up to two years to choose their gift. 

Here's more on how it works. 

3. Groupon

Groupon is still a great place to find a gift. Whether it's a paint night, a pampering massage or beauty treatment, discounts at a local restaurant or tickets to a local event, Groupon may have the perfect gift for that person who has everything. 

4. Goldstar

Goldstar is a nationwide service that offers discounted tickets to events, such as theatre, music events, and even city tours in more than thirty cities and neighborhoods across the country. There are no printed tickets; your recipient picks up the tickets at Will Call. NOTE: Make sure the recipient's name is designated for the tickets. They will need a photo ID to pick them up. 

5. Spread the local love
What about a summer share in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? 


  • movie tickets
  • ski passes
  • sleigh rides
  • theme park passes
  • mani/pedis
  • massages
  • hair services
  • cooking classes...Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma offer them  
  • fun fitness classes like CrossFit or a yoga pass
  • local library passes
  • local continuing ed class
  • school vacation camp
  • homemade gift certificates for babysitting, date night or a girls' night out

Nowadays, adults generally buy what they want and need. By gifting experiences, people have the opportunity to try new things that may lead to new hobbies that bring year-round fun for years to come. 

Experiences give people memories. 

I hope your holiday makes memories that bring joy for a lifetime. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Exploring Galicia: Camariñas and Cabo Vilán

When we were in Spain this summer, we took an afternoon to explore the coastal village of Camariñas and the lighthouse at Cabo Vilán on Galicia's Costa da Morte, or Death Coast. 

Camariñas is a fishing port and village known for bobbin lace work, located in the province of A Coruña on Spain's northwest coast. This lace is very popular in Spain, used for baptismal clothes, curtains, and table linens. There are approximately 3,500 lacemakers, or palilleiras, in the area, integrating traditional designs with more modern techniques. 

It is a small village, perfect for an afternoon stroll and seafood tapas and a drink or a gelato. 

In this port, or in any port in Galicia, it is not uncommon to see people, like this man, mending nets before the fishing boats go back out to sea. 

After our gelato, we drove up to Cabo Vilán, home to the oldest electric lighthouse in Spain. 

Because of its rocky cliffs, Cabo, or Cape Vilán is considered one of the most dangerous ares of the Death Coast. In 1890, an English ship, the HMS Serpent, sank here, killing 173 men. 

The lighthouse stands 410 feet high and its light reaches just over 34 nautical miles. It is attached to the old lighthouse keeper's building and it is considered a national monument. It was declared of National Interest in 1933.

There are areas around the lighthouse to explore, like this rocky outpost with the remains of the original lighthouse, built in Roman times, that provide other views of the more modern lighthouse and coast. 

At the base of the Cape is Stolt Sea Farm, one of the world's largest producers of turbot, sole, sturgeon and caviar. Headquartered in Santiago de Compostela, Stolt has six farms in Spain, as well as farms in France, Iceland, Norway, Portugal and caviar farms in the United States. 

Cafe con leche...with a view.

With each trip, we explore more that Galicia has to offer. Spain is so much more than Madrid and Barcelona. If you have the opportunity to visit Spain, consider a trip to Galicia. You won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New England Gems...Maine's Beloved Nubble Light

We are blessed where we live to be within an hour's distance of the six New England states. And most New Englander's would agree that part of the magic of this area lies in its beautiful rocky coastline. 

The Cape Neddick Light, or Nubble Light, is beloved to New Englanders and arguably, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Photo by Waterlogue app

Located in York, on Maine's southern coast, Cape Neddick was built on a "nub" of land in 1879 and is still in use today. Only 41 feet tall, the lighthouse stands an additional 88 feet because of the rocky islet on which it's perched. 

The actual lighthouse is inaccessible to the general public, but that does not deter the estimated half million annual visitors that come for the spectacular views all year round.

The lighthouse is part of Sohier Park, which offers free parking for up to 60 cars, stone benches,  a telescope, restrooms, a small gift shop, and nearby places to get fresh seafood and ice cream.

You may see lobster "pots" or diving flags in the water as well, as this is a popular place for divers, as well as for family photos and even engagements on the rocks below, perfect for romance, picnics, or reflection. 

Information on the area, including lodging and dining and the nearby Kittery Outlets can be found through the Greater York Chamber of Commerce's website. The area is perfect for a weekend getaway in any season.

Have you ever been to Nubble Light?