Category Archives: vacation

I’m Ba-ack……

We returned home from vacation on Saturday.  I came back with lots of photos, a beautiful piece of coral that I found on the shores of Grand Cayman Islands – and and a nasty sinus infection.  I’ve been pretty much feeling like a wilted lettuce leaf since.

For our trip we decided to go on our first cruise.  A large group was going, including some very good friends of ours and one of the couples was getting married at the first port of call which was in Key West, Florida.  Since my husband works outside year round, winters can be brutal for him and we’ve both come to expect that he needs a break about mid-winter to thaw out and recharge.  The cruise seemed to be a perfect opportunity to see if we liked it or not.

Now that we’re back I have a couple of thoughts about cruising. One, it isn’t the best vacation to take if you need to remain a disciplined weight loss maintainer; there is food within an arm’s reach literally 24 hours a day – I’m talking buffet after buffet of food.  It’s crazy.

Two, cruises, in my opinion, are geared more for those who are night-owls; unfortunately I don’t fit into that group.  When I’m ready for bed, the entertainment is just getting started.  For much of the cruise I felt like an old woman among a bunch of teenagers, and missed out on a few really good nights with friends because I was ready for bed by 10 PM.  I know…I just can’t hang with the big dogs!

Some of the highlights of the week was going to the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West.   I truly feel at home with the Universe when I connect with nature.  I am at my happiest, and I was so content in that little patch of heaven:

Me and the Flamingoes

butterfly

While at our second stop in the Grand Cayman Islands my friends and I went to a local beach while my husband went scuba diving.  And at our third stop in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, I really pushed beyond my comfort zone and went zip-lining through the treetops. I was pretty proud of myself and now that it’s over I wish I had a photo to prove that I did it!

Now that I’m back home I’m trying to get some rest before I need to begin preparing for my art fair next month.  The next few weeks are going to be hectic but I can handle it.  In fact, lately I’ve been feeling a lot stronger and more sure of myself than I ever have and here’s why:  for the past few weeks I’ve been working on a therapy program for my back pain and believe it or not, my pain level has decreased by more than 70%.  This vacation was a test for me, really.  Normally I cannot sit for more than an hour before I HAVE to get up which makes air travel so difficult. It’s always been routine for me to prepare for longer flights by taking a back pillow and load up on heavy medication beforehand, leaving me groggy and lethargic for a day or two afterward. I’m happy to report that I sat through a 4+ hour flight without the need of a back pillow OR pain medication.  No pain.  I firmly believe that my life of chronic back pain is nearing an end, and I can’t wait to share more about my progress.  That, however, will have to wait until this sinus infection is gone and I’m feeling a bit better.

I hope you all had a good week.  Be well :)

 

C’mon, man – It’s California!

One of the reasons why I’m so happy to have my blog is because any time I think I’m not making progress in a certain area of my life all I have to do is look back at posts I’ve written since its inception and I am amazed – sometimes even floored at how vastly different my life is than it was three short years ago.

When I began writing I spent a great deal of time sharing personal things about myself, from a lowered sense of self esteem to my fear of regaining the weight it took me so long to lose. It was probably no secret to many of you but I didn’t realize how many decisions were made based on anxiety or fear. What driving forces those two were, just enough of a presence to dictate whether or not I had the courage to experience things that might actually enrich my life.

Three years ago I created mini ‘comfort zone challenges’ to push me beyond my safe little world which would force me to deal with the uncomfortable, sometimes stomach-churning feelings that went along with them. My goal was to increase the level of risk while learning how to coral those teeth-clenching feelings so that I could then accept bigger challenges and ultimately realize that I am capable of living a rich, fulfilling life that doesn’t have to be driven by fear.

While my online challenges were written about less frequently as time passed that does not mean I gave up on them. Actually, I’ve made great strides since eating solo at a restaurant (2010). This past week I journeyed to Los Angeles so Craig and I could spend a week with my friend Teresa and her family.

Taken near the Le Brea Tar Pits just outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. These trees will most definitely end up in a future painting.

Traveling has always given me anxiety. Going somewhere by car isn’t so bad because I can adhere to a schedule that I’ve created, stop when I’m tired and most importantly, get out and tend to my back when sitting becomes a problem. While those are all great reasons to take a road trip, it’s also why I can no longer do them; it takes forever to get anywhere and my back simply won’t allow me the luxury of sitting for hours upon hours while slowly making my way across the state or in this case, the country. But lets face it- an artist…well, anyone for that matter needs experience to draw from. Without it, there is little room for growth, so when there is a will, there’s a way.

A sign outside one of the many quaint shops in the city of Vetura.

 

In reality, I met some incredibly fantastic people there, enjoyed beautiful weather, spent time listening to the ocean lull me to sleep at night, viewed fine art from Picasso to Rembrandt and visited with my dear friend in person instead of talking to her on the phone while walking my dogs at the park.

This photo serves as yet another reminder that I was simply not meant to live inland.

 

In a way, I feel like my week was spent at Creativity Camp. Teresa is a multi media artist, her husband is a brilliant writer and their daughter Em is filled from head to toe with the kind of imagination That Dr. Seuss himself would have envied. Trust me, I’m scoring no brownie points by my description of these three; it’s all true. I feel grateful that my own creativity was put to good use by finger paints and Hello Kitty watercolors :)

Me and Em out at the gourmet food trucks by the blvd.

 

Craig and I decided on the way home that we need to make a point of traveling more, especially now that we are both currently healthy (knock on wood). Even an introvert/homebody deserves to be exposed to new things once in a while and since we don’t have children, we really don’t have many excuses not to make that happen.

Teresa and I sitting under those magnificent trees.

 

This week was a much needed break for Craig and I and we’re grateful for such wonderful hostesses. Now it’s back to work so I can prepare for some exciting things happening in the studio. More on that later. I hope all of you had a good week.

Are there any places you’ve wanted to visit but haven’t quite worked up the courage to make it happen yet?

 

Today’s post brought to you by the letter M

Missing:

I’ve been scarce, lately.  No post since Monday, and I’ve not been reading any blogs, either.  In fact, I’ve barely been on the computer.  I haven’t exactly gone missing but it kind of feels like it.  So, here’s what’s going on….

MRI:

…as in, Monday I have an MRI scheduled for my lower back.  It’s getting increasingly worse. Acupuncture has not helped; in fact, it seems to make my back feel even more angry.  I’ve been rotating between walking and laying down.  I can’t sit for more than 5 minutes at a time (unless I’m pretty medicated) and standing still is impossible.  So, I’m either walking on the treadmill at a slow but steady pace or I’m on the floor doing yoga stretches.  This has made my time in the studio very challenging.  I can’t paint and walk at the same time so I’m doing very short but furious bursts in between.  Not an easy task.  Still, I did manage to finish this little guy:

I went to the doctor yesterday and there may be a change in my diagnosis of degenerative disc disease.  He used words like bulging and/or ruptured disc. I asked him point-blank whether the excess weight in my younger days could have contributed to my condition.  Of course he couldn’t answer this with complete certainty but he assured me that if I were still carrying around those extra 100+ pounds I could likely be completely immobile right now.  This brings me to something I cannot stress enough: don’t abuse your body.  Respect every aspect of it, because It has to serve you the rest of your life.

Minus the Mister:

Tomorrow, my husband and I were supposed to be heading to Arizona to visit his sister.  I had to make the difficult decision to give up my ticket.  Sitting that long is an impossibility for me.  This was not an easy choice, but it’s the only answer for me if I want to protect my back from further irritation.  Besides, couldn’t you just see me in Arizona and then have my back go out?  I mean yes, there are worse things than being stuck in Arizona but what a nightmare that would be!  After a long discussion, I convinced my husband to go without me.  At least one ticket will be used and honestly, he really needs to get to a warmer climate for a few days.  Working outside in this single digit weather can be unbelievably draining.  So, it looks like I’m going to be a bachelorette for a few days.

Maintenance:

As part of my decision to continue with my Gratitude Jar, it has become easier to find things to be grateful about even when I could feel sorry for myself for having another health crisis less than a year after major surgery.  Since walking eases my pain, it’s been a breeze maintaining my weight.  Chronic pain kind of takes away my appetite, anyway.   I can’t imagine what it would be like if I were completely unable to move.  I swear I’ll never again complain about my ‘dreadmill’.  It has literally saved my sanity.

All right folks, I’m outta here for now.  Be good to yourself this weekend and I’ll see you back here sometime next week. 

xo,

Ellen

Baked Doughnut Donuts

Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year.  Seriously, what’s not to love when you have scenery outside that looks like this?

Truth be told, I had a completely different post planned for today.  News to share, photos to show. However, when the leaves change and it grows colder outside, my taste buds wake up to wanting food and drink that I don’t consider eating at any other time of year: pumpkin bread, sweet potato pie, hot cider and doughnuts. 

Yes, doughnuts.  Or, donuts.  Or, Heavenly Goodness.  Whatever you want to call them is up to you.  All I know is that today I made it my mission to find a good recipe for a baked doughnut.  Well, actually…this is what happened: I came across my nonstick donut pan this morning while rummaging for a saucepan and thought, ‘Huh.  I haven’t used that thing in a while.’  Then I thought about Krispy Kremes and remembered how sick I became the last time I ate them (who says you can’t eat 6 without throwing up?) which got me to thinking about how much I wanted a donut instead of oatmeal.  Then I remembered that the donut pan came with a recipe and, well….you get the point. 

Anyway, three revisions and a trash bin full of rubbery, donut paperweights later, I decided this was the one.  Now, if you’re in the mood for a cream filled long john, this recipe is probably not going to help you out very much, but if you’re looking for a healthier version of a traditional 300+ calorie-laden donut, then these at 123 calories each will do the trick.  I hope you like them:

Baked Doughnut Donuts

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of shortening

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease the doughnut pan.  In a large bowl mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  Then stir in the milk, egg, egg white, vanilla and shortening.  Beat everything together until well blended.  Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. 

Fill each donut cup about 3/4 of the way full.  Tip: scoop your batter into a freezer bag, cut the tip off one end and pipe it right into the donut cup.  This is so much easier than trying to use a spoon.

 

024

 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the doughnuts spring back when touched.  Let cool slightly before removing from the pan.  Yields 12 donuts.

Measure out two tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and put it all into a sandwich baggie.  While the doughnuts are still warm, drop them in one at a time, close the bag and shake until well coated.  Of course you can add other toppings as well, you know.  Hmm….right now I’m thinking maybe thin layers of jam, apple butter; a dusting of confectioners sugar.  I could go on, but then we’d be teetering on the edge of food porn and this is a family blog so keep those sinful thoughts to yourself, please ;)

 

Here is the final product.  Don’t they look pretty?

 

 

 

 

 

If thoughts of cider, spiced donuts and autumn leaves don’t put you in the mood for Fall, then come back here later in the week.   Lots of happenings in my little world this week as well as some exciting news that my dogs are thrilled about. I’ll let you ponder that thought for a couple of days. 

XO,

~Ellen

The Cycle of Life

While sitting in Atlanta International Airport awaiting my connecting flight that would take me to my getaway spot for the next several days I kept telling myself that this trip was not to be squandered.  Somehow, I needed to muster enough willpower to leave thoughts of the past few weeks at home and live in the moment; to distract myself long enough for my mind and body to prepare itself for the next stage in my life.  For a planner and a natural-born worrier like me, that seemed like a tall order to fill. 

Perhaps you feel like I do when recalling a past or present crisis in your life.  Just days or even hours before, you move along living your life like everyone else.  You get up, eat your usual breakfast, go to work and run errands afterwards.  You make an effort to eat well, exercise and have dinner. You spend what is left of the day talking with your family members, make plans for tomorrow and go to bed.  Although sometimes a bit mundane, it’s a routine that you’ve developed and it works for you. 

Then, suddenly – your entire life skids out of control like a car on wet pavement.  When the careening finally stops and you realize that you’re still alive, everything around you is a complete and total wreck.  Have you ever noticed that when Life hits you with a sucker punch it knocks the breath out of you and forces a cold stop, while it continues to move along like nothing ever happened?  It’s like you’ve been shifted onto a parallel universe where the people around you go about their usual business without realizing that everything is different.  You want to yell, “Don’t you see what just happened? Life has stopped, here!” But people continue their ritual of getting out of bed in the mornings while you struggle to touch your feet to the floor.  They eat their usual breakfast while you can barely tolerate a bowl of cereal due to the knot that’s settled in the pit of your stomach.  They go to their jobs; you no longer have one.  Their days pass with not enough time to complete life’s many tasks.  Your day drags on.  And on.  And feels like it will never end.  You’re so consumed in your own grief to see that it’s your life that’s changed, not theirs.  This is your battle to fight.

 

I heard from a dear friend during my time away.  I told her that I was struggling in my attempt at being in the now; I couldn’t shake the despair long enough to enjoy even the simplest cleansing breath.  She gave me in part, this advice:

Feel the warmth of the sun; appreciate the cycle of life, anomalous circumstances, compensation, beauty, simplicity, complexity.  Life is good, my friend. 

I understood and appreciated what she was telling me.  I made the decision that I was going to sift through the muck clouding my heart and head and find the beauty that was surrounding me.  As it turned out, the beauty found me. 

As some of you know, I have a special fondness for Loggerhead Sea Turtles.  They are some of the most beautiful, endangered creatures of the sea.  The last time we were in Florida we arrived at the end of nesting season.  During that time, my husband and I were given GPS coordinates to a turtle feeding ground.  We kayaked to the area a couple of miles off shore and watched as several dozen or so rose to the surface to gather air before plunging back into the depths of the bay.  This year our arrival coincided with the beginning of nesting season.  It’s during this time of year that the female Loggerhead swims to shore and uses all of her energy to make her way to the upper area of the beach where she uses her flippers to laboriously dig a hole deep enough so that she can deposit anywhere from 75 to 100 eggs.  Using her flippers once again she covers the nest with sand and then uses what little energy she has left to push her way back to sea.   It’s uncommon to witness this kind of activity, however if you’re walking the beach at daybreak you can spot evidence of the turtle’s activity from the previous night.  She leaves behind clues in the sand that looks like this:

Around mid-week my husband and I decided to take a walk on the beach.  I didn’t particularly want to go but reluctantly agreed.  It was around 10:30 PM.   We walked silently, enjoying the solitude of our surroundings until I spotted a dark object on the surf.  It was large enough to stop us dead in our tracks – most likely four feet long by three feet wide.  We stood there watching as it slowly worked its way onto the beach.  We looked at each other and I whispered, ‘Is that what I think it is?’  He didn’t answer, but we both knew exactly what it was – a female loggerhead looking to lay her eggs.  We watched in awe as she struggled against the sand, dragging herself to the perfect spot on the beach.  We remained nearby (within 30 feet or so) for almost an hour and a half before she finished covering her eggs with sand and made her way back to the water.

While we sat watching her in silence, I had some time to be alone with my thoughts.  Here was this nearly three hundred pound creature who likely traveled hundreds, even thousands of miles just so that she could offer the gift of life to her offspring even though roughly, only one in 5,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood.  I thought about how incredibly precious her life was; how beautiful she looked and how incredibly lucky we were that she allowed us to share such a personal moment with her. 

Then my mind started wandering to thoughts of Patty.  For the past year or so she often said to me, ‘Ellen, if I died tonight I’d die a happy woman. I have wonderful memories and have known some wonderful people. I’ve enjoyed my life, and feel very fortunate.’  There I was, in the midst of dealing with death while the beginning of life was unfolding before my eyes.  I missed her terribly at that moment, though my tears weren’t coming from the same sorrow I’d been feeling these past 3 weeks.  They were tears of understanding, acceptance.  We all lose people we love in many different ways.  We mourn broken friendships; loss of pets, the end of marriages, and the death of those whom we cannot imagine existing without.  We wonder how we will carry on.  I wondered how I was going to carry on with all of the changes in my life that are happening.  But then I’d shift my focus back to the turtle on the sand, and I felt at peace with it all.

When the sea turtle made her way back across the beach and slipped into the water it was around 12:45 AM.  I walked up behind her as she was about to disappear and took this photograph:

Early the next morning we waited anxiously for the proper authorities to come and mark the nest – tamping stakes into the ground and surrounding the area with orange tape.  They attached a sign to the site as a warning that it isn’t to be disturbed.  We thanked the team of volunteers for their time and effort, and one of them asked if we’d be interested in adopting the nest.  Along with a certificate and an open line of communication regarding the progress of the nest, we eagerly accepted with the standard $25 donation and asked that it be dedicated in honor of Patty’s memory.

 

I recently read a passage on grief.  I cannot remember where I read it, but in essence it stated: 

Grief is nature’s way of assisting us to cope with the loss we have experienced. We learn to take all the love and emotion that we had in the person we have lost and reinvest it in those living around us. 

I take comfort in that statement, and on that night, felt the love and emotion over losing someone dear to me being reinvested into that turtle.  She was a gift.  She gave me a deeper appreciation of the cycle of life and reminded me of how precious it is.

As I await the Memorial Service on Wednesday I know that Patty wouldn’t have tolerated my sadness in this way.  Instead, she would have reminded me to be happy that we had each other for as long as we did. 

For that, I am very happy.    

XO,

~Ellen

For Your Enjoyment: Eye Candy and Music

Happy Tuesday, everyone.  While yesterday was my dreaded surgical consultation regarding my impending surgery, I‘m finding myself unable to write about it just yet as I’m still processing a lot of the information from my appointment.  Sleep was not in last night’s plan, apparently due to the inability to turn the days events off in my head so I’m a bit foggy this morning.  For today, I thought I’d share something lighthearted, like my trip to Chicago this past weekend. 

Colin Hay’s concert on Saturday was worth every penny spent in parking fees (for those of you who haven’t been to Chicago lately, paying to park your vehicle in the city is kind of like being drained of your blood by a vampire)  He arrived on stage promptly at 8 PM and the show didn’t end until after 10. 

There’s something about listening to an artist perform without a band.  The amazing acoustical sound of a guitar and nothing else.  Colin played a song from one of his more recent albums which quickly became my favorite of the evening.  I was able to find a video of him performing it (elsewhere) on YouTube.  You can give it a listen while you’re reading the rest of the post, if you’d like.  Consider it your Mood Music for the Day Smile

 

Lovely song to hear live.

 

 

 

My husband and I stayed at the new Radisson Blu Hotel (thank you for the sweet deal, Groupon.)  Here is what the outside of the hotel looks like:

 

 

Staying at The Radisson Blu reminded me of that old cartoon The Jetsons.   

All that was missing was Rosie the Robot Housekeeper.

 

 

Here’s a couple of photos of the bar. 

 

The photo on the left was taken from the table we were sitting at in the bar.  The all glass tabletops have flameless tea light candles underneath; small lights hang from the ceiling.  The entire bar was decked out in highly polished silver, gold and white.  

 

 

The lobby had a fireplace along the entire wall, lit with small flames down the entire length of it.  Beautiful vases of pink lilies lined every table.  The vases looked as though they were hovering above the glass. 

No photos of our room, but it had some pretty funky furniture and futuristic doors.  They hung from some sort of pulley system and glided back and forth, closing one area while unveiling another. 

 

Definitely the most visually interesting hotel I’ve ever stayed at.  The only downside was the fact that we could hear every little noise outside our room.  It was though we were hosting a party that we hadn’t been invited to.  The ice machine was steps away and the elevators were within feet of our door.  Should you ever decide to stay at this particular hotel, be sure to ask for a room that is NOT located within this obvious party zone. 

I hope you all had a great weekend.  I will be spending the remainder of my week getting various pre-operative tests out of the way and figuring out potential dates for surgery.  Tell me, if you had to have major surgery, what time of year would you consider the least intrusive?  Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter?

Airport Purgatory

 

 

 

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times. 

Of course, I’m talking about vacation.  You know the saying, ‘getting there is half the fun?’  Yeah well, they couldn’t have been talking about flying. Certainly, most definitely not fun.  Not even half-fun. 

Friday was, of course, a nightmare for anyone who happened to be traveling by air.  From FlightStats regarding Friday’s air travel:

 

Friday saw high flight delays and cancellations in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast dues to a mix of snowstorms, high winds and blustery winter conditions. The Chicago area was hit especially hard with O’Hare Airport (ORD) cancelling 255 flights and delaying another 1500 flights. New York’s La Guardia Airport (LGA) cancelled 119 flights while delaying 563 flights.

 

The airport was packed full of people whose flights had been delayed due to golf-ball sized hail while others were waiting on the tarmac to leave but couldn’t because of an oncoming sleet storm.  Because our initial flight was delayed, our connecting flight had already departed by the time we landed.  We spent almost 8 hours waiting on stand-by, trying to get home.  Home.  There’s no place like it.  

I had plenty of time to think of a perfect analogy just for you of what it feels like being on stand-by.  Being on stand-by is kind of like waiting to see if the cool kids are going to pick you to attend their completely awesome, kick-ass, over-the-top party and the anticipation is unbearable.

So, what does a couple do when they’ve already passed through security and have been through the overpriced shops several times over?  

They walk their legs off. 

Going from gate to gate took a surprisingly long time, and we had our carry-on luggage in tow so it was quite a workout. Boring as all get-out, but it helped to pass the time. 

There’s only so much walking you can do, though.  Eventually, you have to eat. 

Finding something edible that didn’t have the words pan-fried, deep-fried or flash-fried as part of the food description was not easy.  Eventually, we ended up getting salads and bottled water at Moe’s Southwestern Grill.  The good news: my three main ingredients were lettuce, black beans and tofu.  The not-so-good news: I was weakened by the sight of the edible flour shell bowl and had to have it.

And Ellen said, It Was Good. 

But after hour number five?  I started feeling like Tom Hanks in that movie The Terminal.

 

We did however, finally make it home.  We spent the weekend pretending not to hear the phone when it rang and trying to bribe each other into bringing actual food home from the grocery store instead of raiding the cupboard for more crackers. But we were home. 

And boy did we get the cold shoulder from the dogs.  They were not very happy that we left them for a week.

One last thing, before I close for today:  my final thoughts on celebrating my birthday by leaving town?  A stellar idea!  I cannot recommend it enough for those of you who also have bad mojo on your birthdays.  Although, next year I will plan things a bit differently and actually be gone on my birthday – not just ‘around’ it.  For me, that’s important.  Even though it was exciting to know that we were leaving a couple of days after, it wasn’t much fun spending my actual birthday alone, packing. 

Happy Monday everyone, and come on back here Wednesday where I’ll be having a Leap Year Giveaway! 

 

~Ellen

Holiday

I will be unplugged and on vacation until February 27th. I’m using this static page as an opportunity to remind you that for those who currently use or are looking for Google Friend Connect, that option will no longer be available as of March 1st and as you can tell, I’ve already removed it from my homepage. I am hoping that Google Reader continues to update my blog for those of you who use it, but since I am on WordPress and not Blogger (who is apparently not affected by these changes) we’ll have to wait until March 1st comes to see if any further bugs need fixing.

In the meantime, here is a reminder of other ways to connect with me so I don’t lose touch with any of you:

*Sign up for email. Located on my sidebar.

*Get updates via Twitter – located at the top right-hand side of my homepage.

*RSS Feed – located next to the Twitter icon.

*And new: Pinterest. For those of you who don’t know much about Pinterest, it’s like looking at a visual extension of my blog. You know those posts that we bloggers do sometimes when we are asked to list random things about ourselves? Well, I look at Pinterest like that. From there, through visual images, you can view random things about me: my artwork, my recipes that link back to this blog, personal photos, favorite things, etc. You do NOT have to follow me to see my pin boards; only if you want to interact with me from there will you have to request an invite.  If YOU happen to be on Pinterest, please let me know so that I can follow you. 

Have a great week, everyone.  I will miss connecting with you but plan on returning with a fresh perspective and a calmer mind – both of which will make my blog better, for me and for you. 

XO,

~Ellen

Memories of Vacation, and vacations past.

Have you ever been eager to share vacation photos with someone, only to have them lose interest after viewing the first hundred or so?  Well, because I adore you all, I have sorted through the least boring ones.  But first, I thought it might be fun to share a few of my more, um…strange vacation pictures from over the years. 

 

 

 

 

OK, enough of that.  I was just stalling.  Turns out, my vacation photos are in fact, pretty boring – the memories are SO much better.  Here is a condensed version of what I did and saw last week:

 

 

Dead Lakes State Park was an area I would have loved to explore more of.  Supposedly, these cypress trees you see in the photo died when a flood came through the area.  This was the best photo I could get from land, however to really appreciate the beauty of this area one needs a boat, which we did not have access to.  For some stunning photos of the haunting trees in this park, go here to the site of photographer, Allen Rokach.

 

 

 

 

I do have a short video that I took, which I love and wanted to share with you.  The water along the shoreline was filled with various marine life, from stingrays to countless varieties of fish – and lots of hermit crabs.  I especially enjoyed watching them as they crawled around in the various shells they chose to inhabit and call home.  This particular crab was living in a shell that had an entire ecosystem on his back. 

So, as I settle back in to my own home, I will leave you with this:

 

Hermit Crab on the beach

 

Did you notice the smaller shell attached to the left side? There was a smaller creature living in there, too!  Every lump and bump on his home had smaller marine life living inside.  Amazing.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone.  Love the home you’re in. 

Ellen