Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekend Scenes...Vacationing in Tampa

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

I even reunited with a couple of old friends.

Jack, the dog, and Mitzy, the cat. 

From where we are, we're about an hour from the "beach." Tampa Bay is nearby, but according to my family, it's better for sunsets than for swimming. It is a bit strange to me to be so far from the beach when you live in Florida; it's a perception thing. When I lived in South Florida myself, I was only about 10-15 minutes from the closest Atlantic beach. From where I am in Massachusetts, I am about an hour away...about what we are here from the Gulf. Nevertheless, it's still beautiful here. I never tire of palm trees. 

So far, it has been a fun, low-key, relaxing visit. We spent most of the weekend by the pool, and yesterday, we ventured out to Clearwater Beach. 

We took advantage of a couple of photo opps. 

And later, we had some dinner and stayed for sunset before the rain moved in. 

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?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Traveling Fit...5 Ways to Stay on Track

Committing to a healthy lifestyle takes planning. You plan what you're going to eat, prep your meals and easy to grab snacks, and you try to arrange your schedule to include some sort of physical activity. 

Staying on plan when you travel can be more of a challenge. When schedules loosen and food options expand, staying on track takes more thought and initiative, but it can be done. 

Here are five ways to stay committed to your fitness goals, even when you're traveling. 

1. Plan. Putting water and your favorite go-to snacks in a cooler will give you the flexibility to make healthy choices. Pack a bag with other snacks and avoid the gas station wasteland. 

2. Pit stop stretch. Stop along the way and stretch. Energize your body and brain during these needed rest stops. Need a circuit? Try this one. 

3 When you arrive at your destination, think about a walking tour or a bike tour of the city. How about a photo stroll? Walk whenever possible and explore excursions that keep you active, at least part of the time. 

4. Shop and cook when you can. This is better for your wallet and your waistline. When you do go out, grilled protein and a veggie is a great choice. Order your salad dressing on the side and dip your fork before you take a bite, instead of pouring it all on top. You can decline the bread basket if you want, and if you're ordering dessert, one dessert split among many can give you the bite of sweet that you want without overdoing it.

5. Enjoy a treat now and then. Don't deprive yourself of your favorite things. Eat a cupcake, and then work off a cupcake. 

Travel and healthy living can go hand in hand. Plan and prep where you can and when you can't, use what you know to make good, healthy choices. And enjoy the treats. 

Happy travels!  

What is your best tip for staying on track with a healthy lifestyle when you're traveling? 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

All about Me, from A-Z

Every time I see someone posting the latest installment in an A-Z blogging challenge which floats around the blogosphere every few months, I wonder to myself whether I have the endurance and creativity to make through the challenge myself. 

Perhaps in the next round I will explore my alphabet through a theme, but until then, here's a peek with snippets and links into what makes me who I am, with a bit of an A-Z trivia about me. 

A--Apples. Johnny Appleseed was born in my hometown. And I'm an Apple devotee. I like to eat them and drink the warm, spiced cider. And I love Apple technology. I'm an Apple girl with pear shaped body. 

B--Bachata, merengue and salsa. I love to dance. And for a couple of years, I took Latin dance lessons and danced salsa out and about at least once a week. 

C--Concert...Jimmy Buffett at Meeting of the Minds '04 in Key West Florida

D--Favorite Day much possibility for seemingly endless fun. 

E--E-Reader or Book
E-Reader when I travel; book when I'm home. 

F--Finch...Atticus Finch, from To Kill a favorite fictional character. 

G--Goals. I am a goal driven person. I love making lists and vision boards and then doing what it takes to make it happen. 

H--Happiest when I am traveling and exploring new places. No surprises here. 

I--Ice Cream
I met my husband while getting ice cream. Seriously. Here. 

J--Journey I want to take
My husband and I are planning the Great American Road Trip, which will take us through the United States and Canada, and later, around South America. We're in the early planning stages, but it's something we have wanted to do for a long time. Any tips? We would also like to walk the French route of the Camino de Santiago. Blame it on The Way. 

K--Kiley. Part of what makes me who I am is being Auntie to this one here

L--Llamas. I once went on a llama hike here. They're a small farm and they love their animals. Hikes are available in the fall and in the spring, before it gets too hot. 

M--Midwifery. I studied midwifery with a licensed professional midwife (LPM) part time for almost two years. I realized quickly that I never wanted to be the one in charge. I did, however, certify as a doula, but I never went beyond a couple of births.  

N--Never will I be excited about... winter coming. I struggle with the reduced sunlight, the barren trees, and the cold, damp weather. Sorry snow enthusiasts...winter is just not me. It's pretty, but for me, it's better in pictures and in movies. 

O--Outfits. I wish I could say I had even an ounce of fashion sense, but I just don't get it. I look at the mannequin, match it up, and hope for the best. 

Well, maybe three days a week...

P--Petty Pet Peeve
If I order a coffee and it is "for here," don't give me a paper cup. Please. Give me a mug. 

Q--Quirkiest attraction you have visited
Lucy the Elephant in Margate, New Jersey. 

R--Romance. For me, it's all about the little things. I couldn't have an A-Z without a mention of my love. It's in the little things...sharing bites of ice cream, Sunday coffee dates, holding hands, date nights, quiet days at home, dinner after our work day. But it's in the big things too... shared passions, common interests, moving along toward the same goals, supporting each other, being friends, as well as lovers. It's all of it and so much more. 

S--Shaking my head and saying "No, thank you!" to green beans. Yuck! I even pick them out of canned soup. Other "No, thank you" foods include olives, anchovies, sardines, octopus, and organ meat. Not for me. 

T--Teaching. This year closed out my sixteenth year as a teacher. What a ride this has been! Most of my teaching career has been in middle school English Language Arts, minus a couple of years teaching high school English. This past year I taught ESL to kindergarten and second graders. What a gift! Students climb right into your heart. My philosophy? Love them first. Then, together, you can make great progress.

My kinders, after a bit of shaving cream fun. 

U--Underwater hockey. Yes, I tried this once, for a YMCA fundraiser. It was fun and sparked my interest in becoming SCUBA certified...that and Jaws

In Spain, we drink vermouth on a Sunday afternoon before lunch to open the palette. My favorite? Martini and Rossi on ice, that's nice...with a twist of lemon. 

W--Writing. I may not publish often, but the wheels are always turning. Writing makes me happy. If I could find a way to make a living doing it, I would. I need a plan. And an agent. 

X--eXcited about thunderstorms, shark sightings on the Cape, and Sex and the City marathons. 

Y--You might not know...

More on my story here. It's been a lifelong journey. 

Z--Zealous fan of personal development. Decide. Commit. Succeed. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gap Year Gift Guide

Graduation season has just about passed and many grads are preparing for what comes next. 

No doubt, most high school graduates follow the path directly into college, university, the military, or to work. But more and more, graduates and even more established workers are taking a gap year or a career break to travel the world and to explore different career options. 

According to the American Gap Association (Who knew this even existed?), there are various reasons why people decide to take a break, but overwhelmingly  people choose a gap year for personal development and to expand their life experience.  This seems obvious. 

There are benefits, academic and otherwise, to taking a gap year or a career break. For starters, those who return to university are likely to return more invested because they are actively choosing to participate in their education and not going simply because it is expected. 

Those who travel during their gap year or sabbatical will return with more empathy as a global citizen. They may be better able to problem solve or to collaborate. They may come back bilingual, or with an enhanced skill set that makes them more marketable. 

Do you know someone who is taking a break to travel the world? Try to be supportive of their choice and make plans to stay in touch. 

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to send with them, here are some ideas that may come in handy on their journey. 

I would love to say that I am an Amazon affiliate, and that I could make money by suggesting these things, but these are just items I thought could be helpful to someone as they take to the road or things I have used myself or would like to try. 

1. A backpack cover to protect packs from the rain. 2. A sleep sack 3. A travel safe

4. A Jackery Portable Charger (my husband and I both have these and love them. 

5. A Kindle or other tablet loaded up with guide books, maps, or whatever he or she likes 

to read.   6. A travel towel

Still looking for ideas?

How about a Eurail pass or a gift certificate to Tinggly?

Whether you're gifting for someone embarking on a gap year or a sabbatical, or you're someone who loves new travel gear yourself, this gift guide may spark some new ideas. 

What would you recommend to someone taking off on a round-the-world trek? Inspire me. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ezaro: Waterfalls to the Sea in Galicia, Spain

In the Galician coastal village of Dumbria, in the province of A Coruña, on Spain's Death Coast, is an attraction unique to Europe. 

The waterfalls of Ezaro, or Cascada Ezaro, located at the foot of Mount Pindo, are fed by the River Xallas the largest river feeding waterfalls that empty into the Atlantic Ocean. Scotland and some of the fjords in Norway have similar streams, but these are said to be the largest. 

Small, but scenic, the road to the top of the Mirador, or lookout point, has a 30 degree gradient. It's not long, only a bit over a mile (1.9 km) but it is steep, seeing over an 800 feet (250 meters) difference in that short distance, averaging a 13-29% gradient. 

Even more remarkable was the fact that part of the Vuelta a España, a multiple stage bicycle race, took on this road as part of its tour, making it one the steepest roads a Spanish bike ever taken on in a road race. 

The views at the top are grand and the sunsets, spectacular. Sadly, once we got to the top on this day, we were in a cloud of fog. But we took advantage of a photo with the family, nonetheless. 
La familia

On a clear day, you can see the Cape of Finisterre, the beach at Carnota, and Corcubion Bay.  Here is one visitor's trek up the road to the top to capture sunset. It's gorgeous!

Visitors can walk close the falls on tiered wooden walkways, with various lookout points that make fun photo opps. 

And rocks along the bank of the river where you can climb and explore. 

But no swimming. 

There is a small river delta and marina before the river hits the beach.

And there are places for picnicking along the river's shore. 

The Falls at Ezaro, or Cascada Ezaro, may be unknown outside of Spain, or even outside of Galicia, but they made for a lovely after-siesta walk and a place to explore some of the natural beauty this region has to offer. 

What is one area of your world, virtually unknown to most, but worth a visit and some exploration?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why Wait? Tell Them Now

Father's Day is this weekend. Bloggers everywhere are pulling together gift guides, and advertisers are selling all things Dad. 

And it's a nice idea to shower someone with special treats, but if it's done in relative isolation, it's missing the mark. 

This video about fathers and their children came across my media feed last week and it's a good one.  

If you're lucky enough to have your dad in your life, tell him what he means to you. Don't wait. 

Time is precious. He has enough stuff. 

Your time, your words, your love...they're the best gifts of all. 

And if Father's Day is a struggle, because of circumstances of loss or unfulfilled expectations, I wish you peace and healing and the opportunity to tell someone you do love what he or she means to you. 

This weekend, I will celebrate my father, and I will tell him what he means to me, because he means the world to me. 

Happy Father's Day! 


Friday, June 5, 2015

Fun at the Bean: Smiles at Chicago's Cloud Gate and A Linkup

The people watching is spectacular. First timers and residents alike can spend an afternoon watching tourist explore the fun-house mystique of Chicago's Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean for its elliptical shape. 

Located in Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, by Anish Kapoor, is the British artist's first outdoor public art piece in the United States. 

It's a looker. Meant to resemble liquid mercury, the piece is made of highly polished stainless steel plates (with no visible seams) that reflect the Chicago skyline and the clouds above. 

Selfies underneath The Bean with my friend and tour guide, Mona. 

Measuring 66 feet long and 33 feet high, and weighing in at 110 tons, the elliptical sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world. There is a 12 foot high arch, the "gate" that draws visitors inside a mirrored concave chamber which produces a funhouse effect of reflection and distortion. 

Be sure to look up. 

One of the perks of travel is discovering the fun touristy attractions that provide great photo opps and lots of smiles and giggles. These spots may be cliched and teeming with tourists, but who cares? On longer trips, there is time for travel off the beaten path. When you visit a place for a short time, such as my weekend in Chicago, you hit the biggies. And Cloud Gate is a Chicago must-see. 

When you travel, do you stay off the tourist route or do you hit the major attractions first? 

I am thrilled to be part of a new travel series with Angie from Reasons to DressWe invite you to share your reasons for travel, both domestic and abroad. Share your favorite spots, your favorite tips, and your reasons to travel. 

Here's how...


A place for everyone to share their travels.
You don't have to be a travel blogger to want to share your favorite local spots or tips on international travel.
#REASONS2TRAVEL is a new linkup, open for the whole month where you can share, discover and explore travel! Linkup any travel related post OR picture from INSTAGRAM and join our community of TRAVEL and LIFESTYLE BLOGGERS.
and you'll get a retweet from your co-hosts!
reasonstodress thecrowdedplanet insearchof unlockingkiki chasingthedonkey Image Map


  1. Linkup your TRAVEL related posts, new and old! Or Linkup a travel related picture from Instagram with the hashtag #REASONS2TRAVEL
  2. Add the badge or a link back to ANY of the co-hosts
  3. Follow each co-host on at least 1 social network , we're friendly, social and generally over-sharers!
  4. Tweet your link with the hashtag #REASONS2TRAVEL for a retweet!
  5. Please be social and visit a post that interests you. Don't forget to use the #REASONS2TRAVEL hashtag to let people know how you found them!

Happy Travels!

REASONS TO DRESS - An Italian Lifestyle Blog About Travel, Fashion and Life in Italy
THE CROWDED PLANET - A Nature and Adventure Travel Blog
UNLOCKING KIKI - A Travel Blog From An American Expat in Iceland
IN SEARCH OF - A Travel Blog From An American Expat in Vilnius, Lithuania
A LOVELY LIFE INDEED - A Lifestyle Blog about Love, Travel & the Good Life
CHASING THE DONKEY - Travel Croatia Like a Local, People, Places, Food and Culture
  REASONS2TRAVEL featured blogger Diary of an Urban Housewife 

This month's featured blogger is Kate from DIARY OF AN URBAN HOUSEWIFE. A semi-nomadic family who has lived all over the US and Canada and is currently in Amsterdam. Last month Kate linked up a beautiful post about her visit to the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in Lisse, Netherlands. Check out her post and visit her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see real live from a fit family in the Netherlands.