Tuesday, November 30, 2010

332/365 - Birds on the Wire

I have been meaning to get a picture of birds on the electrical wires ever since I saw a ton of them coming out of the Red Lobster back in September or October. I got my chance while stopped on a country road today, on my way to violin lessons.

10.11.30 - Birds on the Wire

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Monday, November 29, 2010

331/365 - Walgreens

I don't know what it is with the kids and Walgreens - they love the Walgreens! And chance they get, they want to go to the Walgreens. Probably because they can get lots of goodies there - you know - gum and candy.

Scott and I ventured out on this rainy night to take the car to the shop to have some repairs done. Brian came along for the ride, just because he knew we would pass by the Walgreens. And we stopped and he bought some gum.

10.11.29 - Walgreens

Ah, gotta love the Walgreens......

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

330/365 - Published - A Hike Along the Cinque Terre

The local newspaper prints submissions from readers for their Travel pages. The article I wrote on the Cinque Terre was published this morning, along with several photos from that portion of the trip.

10.11.28 - Published

Since I never blogged about our Cinque Terre hike between all five villages, I am including it here. With more pictures as a bonus.

Along the Ligurian coast of Italy, the Cinque Terre offers travelers a respite from the museums and historical attractions of the main cities in Italy. The Cinque Terre consists of five villages, all built into the rugged coastline. The area surrounding the villages is part of the Cinque Terre National Park. To reach the Cinque Terre, you have two main avenues – by car or by train. The train from La Spezia services all five villages and if you have a car, you can park at the La Spezia station. If you plan to drive, be prepared for steep and narrow roads as well as hairpin turns that seem to take you over a cliff. Once you reach your destination, you’ll have to park the car, as most roads are limited to pedestrian traffic.

The main attractions in the Cinque Terre include beaches, breathtaking coastal scenery, and the network of hiking trails along the coast and up through vineyards and olive groves. During our visit, we chose to hike the Blue Path, or “Sentiero Azzurro”, which allowed us to experience each of the five villages. To gain access the hiking trails you must purchase a Cinque Terre Card, available at each of the train stations in the villages. A basic day pass costs 5 Euro, and multi-day passes are available. The entire Blue Path can be traversed in one day, or in portions spread over two or more days if you prefer a more leisurely pace.

Perhaps the most famous portion of the Blue Path is called the Via Dell’Amore (Lover’s Walk) and takes you between the southernmost village, Riomaggiore, to its sister village of Manarola. Along the paved walk, locks and graffiti adorn the fence line, even the rocks. Couples write their initials on the locks, along with a date (maybe an anniversary, maybe the current date), in order to represent "locking" their love forever. This trail only takes half an hour to complete, and at the height of tourist season is extremely crowded.

A Quintessential View of Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore Marina

Locks of Love
Locks of Love Along the Via Dell'Amore

From Manarola, it’s a leisurely 90 minute walk along the path (portions are paved), winding you along the coastline towards Corniglia, smallest and quietest of the Five Lands. But before you think you have arrived, you must climb the Lardarina, or series of stairs, comprised of 382 steps. Alternatively you can take the bus instead of the stairs.
On the Edge
The Walkway to Corniglia

The Rugged Coastline
The Rugged Coastline

After Corniglia, the hiking trail becomes much more challenging. The trail to Vernazza takes you away from the coast and up through olive groves and vineyards. The path is un-paved, uneven and rocky and takes you up and well above the villages. Be sure to look back at Corniglia because the view back is as stunning as the view going forward. After two hours you will be rewarded as Vernazza reveals itself from behind the trees.
100727DSC_6547_lowres
Looking Back at Corniglia

The View Once Reaching Vernazza
Vernazza Appears

The Marina
Vernazza's Marina

Vernazza Overlook
Overlooking Vernazza. We're Pretty Tired at This Point, but Push On towards Monterosso

The final leg between Vernazza and Monterosso will take another two hours, up and down through the lush forest and then through more vineyards. The trail includes steep stone stairs and narrow paths, but is less rocky than the previous leg. Once you reach Monterosso, you can dip your tired feet in the turquoise waters of its large, sandy beach front.

Along the Terraced Path
Scott and Dave Pose Among the Grapes

A Last Look Of the Path
Our Last Look at the Hiking Path once in Monterosso. Can You Tell the Sun is Setting? I think we arrived back around 7pm. The hike took us over 8 hours!

In between each leg of the Blue Path, we took time to rest and explore each village. The villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola are a delight to wander through, with narrow, winding alleys, colorful Italian buildings and boat filled marinas. In quiet Corniglia, we enjoyed lunch at an outdoor cafĂ© in the small piazza. Vernazza’s main plaza opens up to a small beach and harbor. Two towers flank the town – the clock tower of the Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia and the Doria Castle. Of the five villages, the northern most Monterosso Al Mare feels more resort-like and touristy. Monterosso boasts a large sandy beach and numerous modern hotels - perhaps not as quaint as the other villages, but with plenty to see and do.
Bulls-eyes
The Beach in Monterosso

Rooms rates during the summer range from $100 for basic accommodations to upwards of $250 for a three star hotel. Off season rates will be lower, and the area less crowded with tourists.

With so much natural beauty, the Cinque Terre is a beautiful diversion to enjoy. Even if hiking isn’t your thing, you can still relax on the beach, eat delicious seafood, pasta and gelato – all with a beautiful view of the sea.
The View from the Hotel

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

329/365 - Ornaments on the Tree

Just a few of the ornaments on the tree.

Illuminated

10.11.27 - Snowflake

And "my" ornament, transformed into a "fake Polaroid":
The Mom Reindeer

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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving

Tradition - to pick out our tree the day after Thanksgiving. We started this tradition eight years ago, being new to the area, just having moved into the house. So this will be the ninth time getting our tree. We go to the same tree nursery, and on the ride back home, we stress about that tree tied to the roof of the truck, fearful that it will come off. Because it nearly did eight years ago and we haven't forgotten about it - seeing the tree out the side view mirror of the truck, something one should never see.

I think the tree place changed their policies around securing the tree to the roof of vehicles, because in the past, they had always helped with the rope and the weaving of that rope through the tree trunk and branches. Not this year - they give you some twine and you are on your own. They must have had other customers experience what happened to us, eight years ago - and maybe even lost the tree to the pavement. I shudder to think about that!

But enough about tying the tree to the car - here we are with this year's tree:
Our Traditional Tree Search

And the start of the decorating:
The Mini Tree

Trim The Tree

We were so lucky to have a beautiful, sunny day today, after yesterday's rain, sleet and sprinkling of snow. But a bit on the cold side, so we only got the indoor decorations up. And unpacked some of our favorite holiday friends:
The Entire Rudolph Gang

We finished up the day with a trip to the movies to catch the latest Harry Potter movie. A great post-Thanksgiving day.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

327/365 - Happy Thanksgiving

From our house to yours.

10.11.25 - Happy Thanksgiving

We didn't include Rascal in the picture - too much work.

And some of pictures leading up to the whole family:

After Picture Motion

Checking Out the Feast

On this cold, rainy Thanksgiving, we are so thankful for our friends, family, our warm home and so much more.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

326/365 - The First Ice Storm of the Season

Yup, this morning, completely out of the blue.

Because it was 75 degF on Monday, I think we were caught off guard.

After all, I ran outside in shorts on Monday. Today, I'm bundled up in my winter coat with a hood and I was still cold.

10.11.24 - The First Ice Storm

Fortunately, the temperatures have warmed up since this morning and the sheeting of ice that covered the cars at work. But it's still cold and rainy out there, so please slow down on the roads when traveling tonight!

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325/365 - Pickles and Glee

We love the comic strip, Pickles (does that mean we are getting old and can relate?) and I love the show, Glee, so imagine my delight when the two are paired up today.

10.11.23 - Glee Comic

Ah, so much fun. I wish life could be as fun as Glee sometimes, breaking out into full song, with a full orchestra accompaniment.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

324/365 - Love and Peace

The first of the Holiday decorations to be displayed at our house.

10.11.22 - Peace and Love

I generally don't want any Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving, but Scott saw Snoopy and Charlie Brown at the Walgreens and couldn't resist. [But somehow he resists buying a Sham-Wow - go figure]

But that's it until Friday.....

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

323/365 - These Boots Are Meant for Sloshing

We assembled at a local restaurant - an informal gathering to celebrate Jill's birthday. Jill didn't want any gifts, but Heather couldn't resist these funky rain boots.

10.11.21 - Birthday Present for Jill

Too bad we didn't have them two weeks ago. Oh, except it rarely rains in Vegas. I guess that's why they are sold here instead.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

322/365 - Mile 3

This morning's fog didn't burn off until almost noon and made for a very peaceful morning run.

10.11.20 - Mile 3

I drove back to this spot, along the golf course. Much of the fog had burned off by then, but not along the water here.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

321/365 - Carnage in the Village

Jill's kids have a great sense of adventure and humor. Example - Jill set up an Indian Village scene off her kitchen to commemorate Thanksgiving. While we were in Vegas, it appears the boys rearranged thing in the village - the animals revolted and attacked the villagers. From the raccoon to the bear - all the animals can now be found on top of a person in the village. Even the turtle was found on top of a papoose.

Carnage in the Settlement

Close Up

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

320/365 - Reading Night

It was reading night at Brian's school tonight. Several classrooms were set up with readers - teachers and athletes from the university. There was a classroom set up with fifth graders - Brian and other fifth graders signed up in shifts to read "The Ugly Duckling".

10.11.18 - Reading Night

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

319/365 - Pad Thai Ingredients

Here are some of the ingredients for tonight's dinner - Pad Thai.

10.11.17 - Pad Thai Ingredients

Mainly purchased at the Asian market, but I have found the Sweet chili sauce at our big grocery store. The Pad Thai Sauce is a must and is so cheap at the Asian market. And then you can pick up the rice noodle there, too.

I ended up adding a "tiny amount" of Red Curry paste. I didn't think it rendered the sauce too spicy, but my daughter, with her sensitive palate nearly revolted. I guess next time, I'll leave it out.

But tonight, no bean sprouts - the ones at the market were nasty - there was one bag left and they looked slimy. I like the crunch they add.

I'll be back to post the recipe. Gotta run for now!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

318/365 - New Exercise Class

When Brian re-started TaeKwonDo classes last week, I was intrigued by another class going on on the opposite end of the TKD facility. Two of my friends, Chris and Amber, were in the class, beating up on these heavy bags. It looked like fun.

It turns out it was a Cage Fitness class and is available for people outside the TaeKwonDo program. Chris invited me to try out a class on Thursday and I signed up for a 8-week session tonight.

10.11.16 - New Exercise Routine

And after my normal morning workout of kick boxing DVD and 3+ mile run, my legs are in serious pain now. But in a good way. The bonus - I take the class while Brian is in his TKD class and I have plenty of time for extra stretching afterward (something I always seem to skip in the rush of the morning).

My intent is to take the class at least twice a week, and maybe three times.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

317/365 - School Pictures

10.11.15 - School Pictures
This year’s school pictures – I am amazed how grown up they are getting. The funny fact about Brian’s picture – he is wearing the same shirt he wore last year. The difference this year – no braces! This year, Erica put a lot of thought into what she wore and how she did her hair (straightened that morning). A sign of the times…..

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

316/365 - Sunday

10.11.14 - Wave in the Wind
Taken on the way to the Stables this cool but sunny Sunday.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

314/365 - Couch In the Kitchen

Scott and the kids have taken to setting up a “couch” in the kitchen, in order to enjoy the TV there. Line up all the chairs and wrap yourself with blankets. It’s like watching TV in bed.

10.11.12 - Makeshift Couch

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

313/365 - Veteran's Day Sunset

10.11.11 - Veteran's Day

On this Veteran’s Day, I thank all the service men and women who keep our country free.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

312/365 - Some Monster For Ya

10.11.10 - Monster
The kids have been clamoring about these “energy drinks”. I read where the younger generation prefers these beverages over coffee. So Scott bought some Monster and some Red Bull. I tried the Red Bull – it was OK.
I once tried some diet Monster and have to say, it was disgusting, so I didn't try this new Monster....

The kids were allowed to have some over the weekend - I don't think they were super-wowed about the drinks but you know how it is with these kids - if it's something new, they'll want more.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

311/365 - Back to TKD

After a three month break, Brian is back at Tae Kwon Do. Three months away isn’t a lot of time, but the TKD academy has made many changes – the most notable being that they moved locations. They moved only two blocks from their original space, but the new facility couldn’t be more different. A ton of floor space, separate waiting area and cool punching bags that are suspended from the ceiling. Winches bring the punching bags down when in use and back up out of the way when done. It’s like starting new at a new academy. I think Brian is glad to be back kicking and punching.

10.11.09 - Back at T-Do

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Monday, November 08, 2010

310/365 - Back To Reality

10.11.08 - Fall Afternoon

It’s back home and back to reality, but the weather couldn’t be nicer – highs in the 60s today and into the 70s the rest of the week. Some trees are still holding onto their leaves – I took this picture in the park across from Erica’s school – I picked her up after she stayed afters chool to perform some community service.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Last Glimpse of the Weekend

A last view from our hotel room at the Aria:


I'm Leaving Las Vegas
Lights so bright
Palm sweat, blackjack
On a Saturday night
Leaving Las Vegas
-Sheryl Crow

Time to get back to our normal lives.....

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309/365 - The Group Photo

You can't go to Vegas with a group of people and not take a group photo.

I had the group pose outside the hotel, in front of the water wall.

And as Scott can attest, I can't just take one picture - there has to be multiple ones. That applies even if I'm not taking the picture. I asked an unsuspecting Asian man to take our picture. After he agreed, he didn't know what hit him - I looped the camera strap over his head and instructed him on how to take the shot.

"You see the rectangle in the viewfinder? I need you to place the rectangle on the man in the orange shirt.... Yup, just push that button..."

After the shutter was actuated, I said "Wait!" (Scott predicted this and muttered to our friends "look, she's going to make him take the picture again").

I had the nice man take the picture again. This was the result:

The Second Take

And the 2nd shot was much better than the first.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Day 308 - Spa and Love

After a full Friday, much of Saturday was spent relaxing. All the ladies indulged at the Aria Spa in the morning - I had an hour long massage, then soaked in the hot tub, then the steam room before jumping in the cold jacuzzi.

I had never experienced a cold jacuzzi - it's like an jetted ice bath! The ice cold right after a hot steam really gives you a jolt. I think my pores have never been so confused!

In the afternoon I walked South of the Aria, taking in the daytime sights:
Lots of M's
The M&M Store

Facade
Part of NYC

City Center
Our home for the weekend - City Center and Aria

We enjoyed dinner at Sensi in the Bellagio, and took advantage of the lovely Bellagio decor, taking pictures:
Smiling for the Camera

I had the sea bass - prepared with Tuscan beans:
Sea Bass Tuscan Style

After dinner, we walked over to the Mirage and took in the Cirque Du Soleil show, Love, which features songs by the Beatles.
Amy and Dan Busted in Front Of Love
Lisa and Jeff managed to snap their picture in front of the Love sign, but Amy and Dan are just about to get busted by security in this picture.

The show, as expected was fabulous. I wish I could take pictures during the performance, but I understand why that isn't allowed. I was just happy they let me bring my camera into the theatre.

And some more Vegas neon from our evening:
The Classic Flamingo
I'm a sucker for the older establishments. A Total Classic.

Harrahs
Harrah's next to the Flamingo

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Copyright Notice

All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of SLPhotography and shirley319 (© 2009, 2010). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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