There’s Christmas break, Winter break, Spring break but I really needed Snow break. That planned vacation finally happened and I’ll share a few highlights from the trip in a picture montage. Hope you enjoy! Orlando, Florida was our destination. So much to see and do there. Disneyworld is always a favorite spot. Magic Kingdom was debuting a new parade and new Fantasyland is almost complete. That’s the Beast’s castle in the picture. An escape from reality helps start a vacation off right.

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 Then there is nighttime Disney…fireworks over the castle and the Electric Light Parade.

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But that’s not all there is to Orlando. Every time we go we find great restaurants, shopping and things to do. This time we even found a winery.

1901905_694268146021_283020984_nThen there’s the “real” Florida. A trip to Blue Spring State Park.

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Guess what these are?

IMG_3499Manatees! They come to the springs during winter.

So if you’re in the mood for a little of this:


Or a little of that:


You’ll find so much more in the state of Florida. It’s one of my favorite places.

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In my “Closing of the Pool” post, I said I’d look for one thing to love during the dreaded winter season. Well, I found it. The days start getting longer after the winter solstice. It happens slowly but by the end of January we get almost an extra hour of daylight. So that’s it.

After rereading that, I decided I could do better. So I’m going to make a list. Things you can to do to help you while-away the cold winter days. Please feel free to add to it. The only rule is your suggestions have to cost little to nothing.

If you’re a homebody-

1. Light candles throughout the house as soon as evening comes.

2. Read a good book in front of the fireplace or any other cozy spot in the house.

3. Play with your pet/pets. If you don’t have one, go on-line and look at cute puppy/kitten pictures. I highly recommend lovebird sites. They’re the cutest things! Also am a little prejudice…Love you, PJ!

4. When you feel down, make a steaming hot cup of tea, cocoa, flavored coffee.

5. Bake! Fill your home with wonderful smells.

6. Eat those baked goods. Freeze some for the next time you need a winter lift.

7. Background music – Make a playlist that can be played quietly and fill the house with music.

8. Organize one thing. Pick a closet, drawer or cluttered spot. Focus only on that. When you finish, relish in your accomplishment.

9. Look for new recipes. Magazines were always my go-to, but with Pinterest and recipe sites on-line you can have a field day. If you don’t have a Pinterest account, create one. Save all your recipes there.

10. Make grilled cheese and tomato soup. An old favorite!

11. Make sure you have a great pair of slippers. Snuggle in some flannel pajamas.

12. Write or journal or start a blog.

If you’re adventurous and willing to head out in the cold and snow

1. Visit your library. Stay awhile and skim through a pile of books. Pick some out to take home so you can do #2 in the group above.

2. This might also involve a trip to the library but it’s a great idea. Reread a favorite book from childhood.

3. Walk a mile or two at your local mall. No shopping allowed.

4. Visit the closest park. Take in winter nature, even if you do it from the window of your car.

5.  Anything to do with snow. Build a snowman, make a snow angel or just tromp through it.

6. Go outside on a clear night and count the stars.

7. Drink hot chocolate outside.

8. Take a walk under the full moon.

9. Visit the closest lake, river, or pond and take in the winter scene.

10. Go outside and blow bubbles. I read they turn into ice bubbles!

And remember! Feed the birds.

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Grand Canyon HikeMy books recently tagged along on a hiking adventure. They were excited to go and leave home the first time without me. It’s all they could talk about for weeks on end.

Actually they didn’t really have to do the walking; they hitchhiked along in my niece’s backpack. She was kind enough to take them when she and her father hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. As a favor to me, she took pictures of them along the trail. I’d love to hike it myself, but I don’t think I’d ever make it back out alive or with two good knees. It’s all uphill, I’m told.

On the trip she’d have to carry a backpack filled with 25 to 35 pounds of supplies which turned out to be more like 50. Two more pounds would be added because of the books, but she took them willingly.

Being a talented, creative girl I had no doubt she had big plans for the books. I decided they would provide entertainment for the travelers since there’d be others in the group. I was sure my niece would use any and all ideas…as long as one of them wasn’t to toss the books into the canyon. It turned out the couple that joined them on the trip were seasoned hikers and mountain bikers. They were very fit and forged ahead without the group at times. I’m sure they did want to throw the books into the canyon after all.

She chose a one-day down and two-day back up package. They camped overnight at the bottom of the canyon and then again halfway up Bright Angel Trail at Indian Gardens. It was a trip of a lifetime and one I’m she she’ll never forget.

I am going to end this post with a summary of her trip in her own words:

Holy crap, y’all. We made it. We freaking made it. This was hands down the hardest thing I have EVER done, ever. I literally sobbed when I got to the top.

If this is something you want to do, go for it- but do not underestimate the canyon or overestimate your ability. 


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Euclid Beach 1Whenever you’re writing a novel, I don’t care who you are, you rely on memories. There are stories tucked in the back of your mind itching to be set free. Characters might be based on people you know and scenes set on experiences you’ve had. Since it’s summer, I thought I’d share a memory that came to mind after reading about the long closed Euclid Beach Park in the paper.  It brought back old childhood memories.


Euclid Beach was a magical place to little kids back in the day. Why? That is a question my son asks. What’s so great about Euclid Beach? He, who has been exposed to every kind of park from Disney to Busch Gardens to Cedar Point.  Well, in those days, there weren’t a lot of places that catered to kids except Roller Rinks. We didn’t have all the choices kids have today. We only had three channels to choose from on one television set. Hard to believe, isn’t it, kids?GoldenTicket


On the last day of school, we would all get that golden ticket. Yeah, I stole that from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but give me a break. I’m a teacher and it’s one of my favorite books.  The ticket was actually yellow and it listed all the rides you could go on for free.


At the park, you usually bought tickets for each ride. Some rides were worth more tickets, like the Flying Turns, and were excluded on the golden ticket. If you wanted to ride, you had to pay.

I think we had to go on a certain day for the ticket to be valid, something like School Days. Euclid Beach wasn’t a far drive but to a kid it seemed far away.  We usually went with friends or cousins.


Once we entered the park, the first ride we ran to was The Bug.  It was great because you could fit a lot of kids in the circle of seats. Whoever was on the wrong end would get smashed by the rest of us. We always did our best to smash that person with a few extra pushes, too.  The Rocket Ships were usually next.  Two fit in a seat and the ships would leave the concrete pad and swing out and around in a circle. It was a thrill! And one of my favorites.

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Afterward, we’d head down the midway past Laughing Sal and the Fun House. Never seemed like much fun to me, just the opposite. It was pretty scary. Sal would be in one of the corners of the outside of the building, supposedly laughing, but to me it was a sign to stay far away. I don’t remember going in there until I was much older.



over the falls

Laugh in the Dark was not to be missed. Those type of rides are now referred to as a  dark ride because, well, it was in the dark. You’d travel inside a dark building in cars on a track and things would light up to scare you. I think my all time favorite dark ride was Over the Falls. You sat in a four person boat; two in front and two in back, and weren’t even strapped in. The boat went through a tunnel and scenes lit up but were not scary. When you came out of the tunnel you started chugging up the hill and then dropped straight down into a pool of water…without ever falling out. To this day, I never understood why not. I know there’s a scientific explanation but still…

Euclid Beach had many coasters, too. The Racing Coasters were fun because they took off at the same time and everyone wanted to come back first and win. They were the tamest of the coasters. We talked my mom into going on it one year. She was afraid of coasters and most rides. Well, we never heard the end of it. She hated it and repeated the story many times how we made her go! The kids loved the fact she went on a coaster. We thought it was great and, of course, funny.

coaster I always remember coming to the back edge of the park. The last ride was the Flying Scooters. They looked like butterflies and you moved the wing back and forth to make the scooter go up in the air. There was a trailer park community beyond that and people were not allowed to walk through. I never remember going down to the lake although the park sat right by it. We’d stopped at the trailer park and felt we came to the end of the line.

 When it was time to go home, we’d stop for ice cream cones and buy popcorn balls and taffy to take home. What a great ending to a long day.

So, to answer my son’s question, what’s so great about Euclid Beach? Hard to put into words but I think my answer would be the same every time…the memories.


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