April 30, 2016

Remembering The Food- In Europe

The Food-

Image result for pictures of french pastries

Ah, yes we cannot forget the food. 
My first recall is that they eat lots of BOILED EGGS in Europe-Every breakfast had that option

Then we have PASTRIES...not to worry if you pass up a won der ful pastry shop- Walk just a few
yards on and there will be another just as fantastic, perhaps more so!

Incredible Pastries for desserts, snack, coffee time & of course for Breakfast

-No complaint here.

Image result for pictures of french pastries

Let's just see you walk past this deliciousness Americans.

More on the subject of Restaurants and Food later

This is a good spot to say
'to be continued'
I just remembered-we have a wonderful [1] local
in downtown Troy. 
It's Saturday afternoon and I have not left the house..
nor have I had anything except
- only coffee  and a bite of cheese today.

Dolce Pastry Shop

to be continued-

April 27, 2016

An Afternoon Tea Party - Shall We?

It Doesn't Matter

If It is Just A Tea Party of Four

Hosting a tea party

Afternoon tea party

Or a simple but ever so elegant 'tea for two'
with a loved one available and willing
to set aside an indefinite amount of time for
"Just Us."

Afternoon tea cake stand

Apple scones with blackberry compote

 Apple Scones


Short Bread

An Impromptu Garden Party Tea
Requiring 90% Creative Imagination

Aha, I have a backyard, a wonderful primitive table,
scraps of old handmade crochet from another time,
Pretty collectible tea cups, weed flowers  & old, old bottles
[for vases]
Yes I actually have a
[unused] Silver tea pot- various recipes of southern Iced Tea works fine.

That sounds like A PLAN Girls-
~Could someone bring some fresh fruit?


April 26, 2016

Abby- In Germany

As it is approaching the end of April..this means it's time to actually start on all the papers and projects I've been procrastinating on. But aside from that, I've had a very eventful past two weeks since being back! Last weekend I was fortunate enough for my cousin Bryana to come visit me in Manchester! She is currently studying at a University in London & I've been able to see her the few times I've been to London which has been so cool. But it was such a treat for her to visit me at my school & to be able to show her around the town and what I do every day. We spent the weekend exploring the Manchester, visiting a massive mall, checking out the night scene, & of course trying a lot of different food. It was an unforgettable experience and I find it so cool to say that we were both able to hang out and make memories in another country together.

This past week, Manchester has been blessed with SUNSHINE! Since being here, I kind of forgot that sunshine existed. It was high 50's, low 60's, & not a cloud in the sky. I finally got to break out my sandals! This weather brought a whole different feel to campus which was really cool to observe. Everybody was sitting outside in the grass, at picnic tables, listening to music & doing homework. This was such a nice change and I'm hoping for the weather to stay this way for awhile. On Tuesday, Amanda & I decided to plan a last minute trip to Germany from Thursday-Sunday night! (That's another thing I love about being here. Planning trips to other countries, even super last minute, still aren't as expensive as if you were to leave from the US).
Thursday afternoon we made our way to the airport and landed in Berlin later that night. We met a really nice guy while waiting for the train who helped us navigate to our hostel. My first impression wasn't the best (especially since it was dark, & I was lost and tired), but we had multiple drunks approach us while navigating to the hostel which was quite unnerving. This was our first time staying at a hostel, so it was a new experience for us. We stayed in a 4 bedroom room, so we were going to have 2 random people as our other roommates; which was a little strange to me. But we met a really nice guy from Poland, so it was cool to be able to talk to him and learn more about where he's from.


We got up on Friday and made our way to see the Brandenburg Gate, which was neat to see in person. We were lucky with beautiful, sunny weather most of the weekend! (except Sunday). We took our typical touristy pictures, made an appointment at the Reichstag for the following day, to go up to the dome and overlook the city. We ended this day by having dinner on a rooftop bar, which was spectacular. When we sat down to eat, we made sure to ask the waitress if they had a 'card minimum', since that is a very popular thing here. She told us no, so we placed our order and enjoyed the view while we waited for our food. (side note, they played sweet home Alabama over the speakers at this restaurant...in the middle of Germany..I couldn't believe it). After our yummy bratwurst, we went to go pay and we handed her our cards and in a thick german accent she says "no! no cards!" I said "I asked you in the beginning about card minimum and you said no?" She then said "No, I said no card!" But all was okay because she led us down to an ATM to take out cash. It just gave us quite the chuckle because Germans are just very blunt & to the point.
Saturday morning started off with another funny experience. Amanda & I stopped at a bakery to get breakfast before visiting the Reichstag. She ordered a sandwich with no tomatoes & I was going to ask for a pastry. Before I could even ask for my pastry, he sets the 2 sandwiches on the counter along with 2 random pastries and charges me 13.50. I tried explaining that I didn't order any of those. The best part was, we get outside to eat our sandwiches with no tomatoes, take a big bite & realize  there is tomato paste all over the inside of the sandwich.  Hey,  another thing to laugh at. Luckily, there was a Dunkin Donuts next door. 
Sunday was a cold & gloomy day but we spent it walking the Berlin Wall trail across town! We started at the East Side Gallery working our way throughout the whole trail until we ended back at Checkpoint Charlie and a nice outdoor exhibit about the wall & saw the part of the wall that was left. That was such a neat experience to be able to see it with your own eyes and read all about the history of what took place during that time. We ended by grabbing another amazing German dinner and getting Haagen Daz for dessert! (we got Haagan Daz every night for dessert on this trip..but it's okay because my Fitbit was blowing up the whole time so we really just burned it straight off..right?).
This trip was filled with a ton of delicious food, loads of laughter & of course adventure. I officially finish with all my school work/classes on May 11 so I have a whole month of free time to travel/do whatever until my family comes to visit! I'm looking to visit Morocco, southern Italy & Spain before I leave. So far in 3 months I have visited 8 countries. I've loved being able to travel so much because it's so fun comparing all the different countries & cities we visit. It's always so interesting to me how each place is unique in its own way.

Abigail Koch

April 25, 2016


Way Back in 1959-

Dreams - Expectations - Hopes - Plans

Take note right here that I personally am a
 P. L. A. N. N. E. R.
Note: all of you super mom bloggers who are so hard working and gifted-Listen Up,
None of you have cornered the market on trying to be, do and define PERFECTION
[she says while laughing out loud]

My online profile after much consideration reads like this:

A Planner-Producer-Promoter-Performer-Planner

That pretty much describes me as honestly as I can.

Now, today's thoughts-  (guest post by Holly Hopson on Heather's Blog)

How often we  observe people & actions and  ask ourselves or anyone listening:

What Was She Thinking?

Holly shared with us  what she was thinking-

 as she began life as "a couple"

-My Turn-

Back to 1959- 
Sure we had Dreams

But Our plans were not exactly long range..more like 3-6 months ahead.

Now our expectations-
that's a different thing. 

We expected to always stay together..

any other possibility was not a part of our mind set.

We did expect problems
  • We did expect disappointments
  • We did expect lean times
  • We did expect failures

  • We had realistic expectations of the life ahead.  We saw real people, real families around us struggling with life but with good solid families and rich lives. I did not say 'riches', but rich lives. 

    they were NOT PERFECT.

    As a young Bride and then Mom of four children born from 1960 to 1966 I never thought I was aiming for perfection.  We didn't hear that conversation (yet). But I know and have for many years known that I had set a high bar for myself. 

    I  never recall actually wanting to be Miss Perfect


    - as a wife, a mother, a 'keeper of the house' & finances, Home Room Mom, PTA President, Community Theater, Garden Club, Charity Fund Raiser,  you name it. I rarely ever felt I measured up.


    Now the lighter side...
    "What ever was she ( that would be Me ) thinking?" 
    Not much really...
    We were playing it 'by ear' I guess
     a lot of Faith
    or just not much sense Maybe both-

     [it's okay you can laugh here]
    The Brundidge, Alabama  season of our lives.
    (Home since 2006)

     Girls just wait awhile for another Season of life-
    You Can  'have it all'
    But not all in the same year-

    'For everything there is a season...."


    April 21, 2016

    Just Sharing Pretties ~

    Just Sharing Pretties from the roadsides and ditches-

    Breakfast Room Table-Simplicity- showing off God's creations displayed in a perfect gift from my middle son-Way to go David!

    Kitchen window standing at the sink (fresh herbs from the backyard plus a few weed flowers)
    btw: don't throw out those Salt & Pepper shakers without lids

    I usually call them Weed Flowers - also known as "Beautiful"

    April 19, 2016

    Spring Break Notes from Abby- Studying Abroad in London ~

    Spring Break!

    by abbyabroad
    I have traveled to London, Paris, Tours & Nice! The University of Manchester allows students a 3 week Easter Break  Amanda , Kathleen & I traveled to London  to explore Bath & Stonehenge through an organized trip through our program.  It rained all day (surprise), but the Roman baths were truly gorgeous! Easter Sunday I  met up with my cousin Bryana and get lunch at CHIPOTLE!  After lunch the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race! People aren't lying about going through  4 seasons in one day in London. Before getting on the tube, nice and sunny. Getting off the tube, skies  dark and hailing -  wind was insane!  All part of the experience, right? It was  great spending the day with my cousin during Easter.
    That Monday Amanda & I took off on our 9 hour Megabus adventure to Paris! When booking our ticket I remember thinking "oh 9 hours, we can do it..we're saving so much money..it can't be THAT bad..". Fortunately, it wasn't THAT bad, but very long. We arrived at the bus station around 7pm and made our way  to the train station to meet Manon. [Back story, Amanda came to France 2 years ago during an exchange through her school & stayed with a sweet family in Tours. Their oldest daughter lives in Paris and she was kind enough to let us stay with her for the 5 days we were in Paris!]. She was  the sweetest person, so welcoming & hospitable and guided us to her flat that night where we stayed up talking and telling her all about our plans. No problem sleeping!
    While in Paris we visited the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Catacombs, Palace of Versailles, Sacre-Couer, the Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Le Marais, Champs de mars, and of course a million bakeries. When visiting Paris, make a pitstop at Laduree (the famous macaroon shop from Gossip Girl). This was my first time trying a macaroon, and I was not dissapointed. My favorite day here was Friday. When we awoke  Manon made us crepes  ( better than any crepe shop).  Manon, Amanda & I were going to spend the day at the Palace of Versailles. 3) The weather was BEAUTIFUL that day-and we finally had sunshine! 4) We ended the night back at Manons' with  a wine & cheese night. She bought multiple cheeses  to taste (fun fact-try spreading cheese on bread and adding jam to it!  quite tasty). My experience in Paris was unforgettable.  We saw  famous monuments, tried  amazing food, and were surrounded by  lovely company. -Off to the next stop-Tours!
    Tours is where Amanda's French exchange family lives, in Northern France, south of Paris. When she came last, she  spent 10 days here and really got to know the family and  the town. We stayed with Agathe ( our age) and her parents, Bruno & Sophie! This family  was SO kind and welcoming. They had breakfast waiting for us upon arrival and  constantly wanting to hear about our experiences and travels. We spent the weekend exploring, meeting with old friends, and visited a castle! Thankfully, the weather in Tours that weekend was gorgeous ( nice change from rain). It was so different being in a not so 'touristy' place, because not that many people in the town & in shops knew English; which is understandable since French is the main language. Luckily Agathe is fluent in French & English so she was able to translate for us! But it was cool being exposed to that & trying to interact and communicate with people whose first language isn't English. Another observation were the meals. When we sat down for lunch one day and finished the first course, I remember thinking "okay time to clean up the dishes", but no, the food kept coming out. They break up their meals into 4 courses instead of eating it all at once like we typically do. I really like that concept because it gives everyone a chance to enjoy their food & the company. The main food group in France is definitely BREAD. Breakfast, lunch & dinner was bread, bread & more bread! I think I've turned into a loaf by now. 
    Next stop, Nice! I was  looking forward to Nice because I knew  there would be sunshine. Our two good friends from Manchester, Kane & Oscar, were meeting us here! Stepping off of the train you felt the warm sunshine and cool breeze on your face. Amanda & I had no room in our luggage- we had to wear 3 layers of clothing, so it was a pretty hot trek up to our AirBnB. We met up with the boys and spent our first night exploring, grabbing dinner in Old Towne & sitting on the beach. The next day we hiked up to Castle Hill, where breathtaking views overlooked the city. It was a gorgeous day as well, with not a cloud in the sky. The whole next day was spent laying out at the beach which was absolutely wonderful. The beaches here are different than America - they have rocks instead of sand.   Our last day we took a train to Monaco which is known as "the playground of the rich", Now I totally understand why.  On every corner there were either Maserati or yachts. Let's just say my new goal is to retire here one day. Having a few days to relax in Nice and hangout with friends was the perfect way to end my Spring Break!- so many good memories.

    April 13, 2016

    Once Upon A Time ~

    Once Upon A Time Becomes 'This New Life'

    Have We Had This Conversation Already?


    [If this post rests for too long in 'drafts'-Oh well here goes:  It is not intended to mark a specific milestone  or date-just my thoughts shared with you if you care to linger for a while. ]

    "Once upon a time"
     Early childhood years..

    L-R:  Carl, Gwenell, Calton & Jonell

    A  teenager

    "And they lived happily ever after." 
    June 21,1959 forward -

    PHS Class of '59 Jr./Sr. Banquet (Prom)

    June 21, 1959

    Family of six:
    I always knew being a Mom was an important job
    until the world around us began telling me I was not good enough . 
    I tend to think of the years of parenting as a time of molding and shaping young lives-

    ...Those children were molding and shaping our lives. 

    L-R  David-Steve-Johnny
    circa 1970 ish

    Then there was -
    The Miracle Years-
    Pop's Story

    While  I've learned so much along the way...
    I am  often asking the same questions

    The newly built Wisteria Arbor /July 20012

    What Now, Lord? -

    New Season-New Life-

    August 18, 2013

    Table For One, Please.


     I recognize  This is another day the Lord has made and I will be glad for it but-

    "What- do- I- do- with- this- day?"

    A wise son  said to me in the early days following August 18, 2013

    "Manna for today Lord, Just Manna for TODAY"

    [and I held that simple prayer close to my heart especially in those early months.]

     With no health issues significant enough to even mention, let alone  have an entire conversation
    I could have 5 more good years  before my move heavenward or 
    I m a g i n e that-
    90 years old! 

    ~another note to self:
    I cannot spend all my days having morning coffee at 
    Chick fil a 
    & lunch with friends...

    I cannot  travel to Europe every year..
    [so many landscapes in America I have never seen]

    A New Season-A Different Life

    For saying yes!

    For making a difference in the lives around me-

    This really is the desire of my heart-
    To make a difference~


    "What do I do with these years ahead?" 

    "How can I be used for You Lord?"  

    (Perhaps start by simply saying "Yes" )

    How many times in years past did I say to self or others
    'I have to learn to say No?'
    Interesting  Turn Around-

    Okay, I'm Listening-


    April 06, 2016

    Checking In With Abby- Studying Abroad

    My Most Favorite [est] Photos to Date

     (The hard working- Blog Contributor,  studying abroad in London Abby )

    One could almost title this
    "Just Singing in the rain"
    Oh but she's far too young to make that connection-yeah-

    "She left her heart in Prague"

    Abby is having too much fun y'all-oh so you think she's majoring
    on FUN  and minoring in TRAVEL? (not really)

    Random Trip Notes -A Few Things I Learned

    We Live And Learn-

    True Confession time here:  I do not have total recall of step by step of our agenda- Surprise! 

    First-Believe it Jet Lag is Real-Plan For It

    Your body knows even if you do not  acknowledge it.

    The flight over was non stop and dropped us off in another world  7 hours later than our Alabama CST so it was 8 a.m. on the ground..  Someone explained to me later upon returning home that we had just experienced a 36 hour day by the time we slept in Amsterdam...too hard for me to cypher.

    Let's get the BATHROOMS out of the way first, okay?
    Their bathrooms are different.  And they are smaller than HGTV bathrooms.
    What's that?

    I know, I know, it's all about using our world resources wisely-
    It's just different.

    And....don't expect a bath cloth or two towels for each person.  When in a jam, did you know you can dry off "carefully" then use one end of your towel as needed for a wash cloth? Yep, been there..

    Did I mention that beds seem to be smaller than ours?  We are ( LOL ) so spoiled.  I know that!
    I remember my rural South Georgia  roots.

    This is simply a record-my recollections, thoughts, impressions and sometimes weird 'take' on things.
    After all I am a ( North American ) Southern Girl.  I might hedge on 100% truth but I would never be rude, right?

     After a very short time for this about to be 75 year old Gramma, everything became about volume and weight.  I began asking myself:

    1. What can I do without?
    2. Can I download some things out of my fabulous anti theft bag that hangs around my body 24/7? This has to be great for a person who loves being organized, right? All those compartments! But then you must be compelled to fill each - Okay, You begin to get the picture.

    3. Do I really need all these things to survive the day? There came a day (very soon) when  this list was revised drastically. To be continued-

    And I began to have a more realistic view of myself-the woman who does make an effort to present herself appropriately to the world I face daily. 

    Explanation:  There's something about me and foreign countries and CURLING IRONS. In Costa Rica in 2015 my Curling Iron was twice dropped and broken...it died.  Then in Europe my curling iron  quit even trying to heat up after the first 5 minutes being plugged in..No heat, No curling iron-Yes I am vain. But I learned:  Next time expect something to go wrong and take along multiple options for face saving when it happens...head bands, hair clips, etc.  (My only option was one pretty scarf day after day)

    My   Reality: I felt like a pack mule loaded for travel.   Come on you can laugh at/with me. 

    About halfway into our trip when we no longer had to present our passports I reduced my "carryon the body" to the antitheft bag with the cross body smaller one inside and dropped the passport case inside that one....Condense & Reduce (volume/weight)

    Next Time-New Options-Priorities-Next Time

    1. Luggage Planning ( in store not online ) Consider Using Checked Bag in Largest option which means less carryon weight & increased space for shopping finds.

    2. Outerwear-No Umbrella-Lightweight Raincoat or Poncho-Lightweight trench coat w liner packed when not needed

    3. ICE - When The Curling Iron Dies-options for horrible hair day situations (hair clips, head bands, hats)

    4. A New Cross Body Bag Size-Smaller than my super anti theft style but larger than my little cross body style

    5. Rx in Advance 'just in case'

    Other Bright Ideas

    *Pack less Bath & Cosmetic Items-Choose Multi Purpose Products

    One for- Body Wash-Soap-Shampoo
    One for-Moisturizer-Body lotion-Hand lotion)

    Something To Think About

    *Consider packing Cheapest/white wash cloths & discard daily = less chores & less weight or Choose pkg of face cleaning wipes omit wash cloths - Same option can work for ladies panties-choose cheap & discard=less weight and less dirty laundry

    *I saw no small hotel soaps. Save extras during the year, use one for each hotel on the trip-If you'll only be staying in one hotel the entire trip then that takes care of the soap & wash cloth issue.

    to be continued