My November Bucket List (and how I did in October)

fall leaves

Do you all enjoy these bucket list posts?? They really help keep me accountable and productive during the month, so I might make it a monthly series if you’re interested?

I was just looking back over my October bucket list – I didn’t do as much running or hiking as I wanted to, mostly because I spent so much time working to get out the vote. I did, however, rack up miles and miles of walking while knocking on doors to talk with voters! With the November 6th midterm election coming up, encouraging voters became my number one priority for October.

** If you’re reading this and you’re in the USA, PLEASE be a voter this year!!!! Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, every vote is crucial!**

I also didn’t finish going through my fall and winter clothes; temps were warm for much of the month and it just wasn’t high on the priority list. I did start pulling them out; they are currently heaped all over the bed in my son’s old room (my husband asked “what volcano exploded in Alex’s room?”), so I will have to get them all sorted before he comes home for Thanksgiving!

So, without further ado, here is my November bucket list:

Attend my first ever Watch Party – on Election Night, after being a poll greeter for much of the day, I’ll be attending a Watch Party! This is the first time I’ve ever worked an election, and I’m super excited to share the anticipation and (hopefully) the celebration with my fellow Democrats who have all been working so hard to get out the vote!

IMG_1523Just a few of the books waiting for me….

Spend November 7th reading on my porch all day – so many things got put on the back burner during October, including reading! I’ve got a HUGE stack of library books waiting for me, so am going to spend a good chunk of the day reading on my front porch. A good book, coffee and my dog…sounds like a pretty perfect day to me 😊

Finish culling my fall and winter clothes – I want to keep only the clothes I love and wear, and consign or donate the rest. (And my son will need somewhere to sleep when he comes home for Thanksgiving, so there’s that – I work well with firm deadlines lol)

me and sisMe and my sister – so excited to see her at Thanksgiving!!!

Clean my house from top to bottom for the holidays – We are so grateful that all three of our kids are coming home for Thanksgiving! My sister and brother-in-law and my dad and stepmother are also coming, so we’ll have a fun houseful. I’m really looking forward to it, and will spend much of my time between the election and Thanksgiving doing a deep clean in preparation for the holidays. I’ve blocked out days on my calendar for this and will tackle two rooms per day.

gingko leavesSwishing through the fallen leaves is one of my favorite autumn activities!!

Spend lots of time outdoors – November is a great month in North Carolina, so I want to spend time outside every day in the fresh air and sunshine. My husband is heading back to work this month (yay! He got a job!) so I’ll be mostly in charge of walking the dog during the week now, which will definitely help with this goal.

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Schedule four blog sessions this month – I’ve been trying to increase the number of posts I do each month, but life keeps getting in the way (no firm deadline…that’s the problem😉). I signed up for an online blogging course way back in August but haven’t started it yet, so I am going to schedule four times on my November calendar where I will sit down and spend one hour on the blogging course! (If anyone out there wants to be my accountability partner and hold me to this, I’d be ever so appreciative!)

Find fabric and order two new chairs – We are in the middle of a living room refresh (our new couch comes on Thursday!) and I’ve been searching for a pair of swivel rockers to put on either side of our fireplace. I found the chairs, but am not enamored of any of the fabric choices, so am currently searching for fabric that I love. Wish me luck!

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Have friends over for a bonfire and roast some marshmallows – A couple of weeks ago, I hosted some girlfriends for a backyard fire and s’mores – it was a such a relaxing evening and I’m not sure why we don’t do it more often. I’m going to plan another evening this month – there’s just something about sitting outside when there’s a chill in the air, bundled in a blanket, roasting marshmallows and chatting around a fire.

So there it is…no big travel plans this month, but lots of nesting in preparation for the holidays. And I’ll be sure to throw in a spontaneous adventure or two for all of you!

 

 

 

A Day Out at Fontevraud Abbey (Wednesday Wanderings)

F Abbey in arch

When we went to France in August, we had one day to fill between our arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport and our stay in the Dordogne region (to read about our stay in the Dordogne, click here and here). I had just read a fascinating trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine, so we decided to spend our free day at The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud.

**Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres – reading about a place before visiting brings it to life for me. Anyone else out there feel the same? What are some of the best historical fiction books you’ve read recently?**

We only booked our flights about three weeks out, so didn’t have great transportation options. We ended up taking the RER B from the airport to the St Michel-Notre Dame stop in central Paris, then (after a brief visit to Notre Dame, which was nearly empty at 8 am on a Saturday morning) we rode Line 4 of the Paris Metro from St Michel to Gare Montparnasse, after which we took the TGV train from Gare Montparnasse to Poitiers. In Poitiers, we rented a car and drove to our Chateau B&B near the Abbey. It sounds harder than it actually was, but it was still a multi-step process that took a good chunk of our arrival day, so we were ready to relax when we got to our B&B!

**If we had booked farther ahead, we could have taken the TGV directly from the airport (Terminal 2) to Tours, which is much closer to the Abbey than Poitiers.  However, the TGV was sold out from CDG and I couldn’t find an available rental car in Tours; one of the pitfalls of booking last minute!**

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We arrived at Château de la Roche Martel in the late afternoon, and were given a brief tour then shown to our room. The historic property was built in the early 1400’s and has an addition from the 1600’s. It’s a historically quirky place and the owners, a Viscount and Viscountess, are careful to share that it is not a luxury hotel (no A/C; does have private bathrooms) but rather a privately owned chateau where they are delighted to welcome guests. I spent a relaxing couple of hours enjoying the garden on a chaise with a good book, and found myself wishing we had booked more than one night. Next time!

view from chateau b&BThe view from the garden at Château de la Roche Martel

Our hostess offered to make us a dinner reservation nearby, and she recommended the Restaurant Le Montsorelli  on the terrace at the Hotel Le Bussy.

chateau montsoreau 3Our view during dinner at Le Montsorelli

Watching the sun set over the Loire River, next to the Chateau Montsoreau, while dining in the garden of the restaurant, was the perfect beginning to our French adventure!

loire sunsetSunset over the beautiful Loire River

 At breakfast the next morning (the food was AMAZING, wish I had taken a photo), my husband, son and I shared a fascinating discussion of US politics with our hostess, a retired couple from New Zealand and a young couple from Moscow (one of the best parts of staying at a B&B is the fellow guests that we meet).  After breakfast, we packed up and headed out to the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud.

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Founded in the 1100’s and now the largest remaining monastic city of the Middle Ages in Europe, Fontevraud housed, in four separate priories, monks, nuns, women who retreated here after the deaths of their husbands (as did Eleanor of Aquitaine), and a hospital for lepers, all overseen by an Abbess.

Pretty flowers and gate F Abbey

Originally in an area of France belonging to the King of England, the English royals were great benefactors of the Abbey (hence the distinction The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud). Eleanor of Aquitaine, a complex and strong woman way ahead of her time, struggled with the constraints placed on her because of her sex. She was the heir to Aquitaine, but as women were thought unfit to rule by themselves, she was married off at age 13 to the future King Louis VII of France. After 15 years of marriage during which she only gave birth to two daughters, King Louis annulled their marriage and she then married King Henry II of England, who was eleven years her junior.  She had eight children with Henry, including King John and Richard the Lionheart. After Henry died, she spent the last 20 years of her life at the Abbey, and is buried there with Henry II and Richard the Lionheart, as well as King John’s second wife, Isabella of Angouleme.

Eleanor of AquitaneEleanor of Aquitaine and her second husband, King Henry II of England

After the French Revolution of 1789, the monastery was dissolved and the last Abbess was evicted in 1792. Napoleon turned it into a prison in 1804, in which capacity it served until 1963, when the French Government restored it, opening the Abbey to the public in 1975.

Cloisters 2 F Abbey

As we wandered the grounds and explored the buildings, it was easy to imagine the life of the nuns, going about their daily routines of work and prayer in silence. Did you know they went to EIGHT services a day?? The cloisters still exude peace and serenity, and the crowds were minimal, despite it being the height of tourist season. The Abbey hosts cultural performances, exhibits and events throughout the year, and also serves as a conference center with an onsite hotel, a restaurant and casual cafes.

Best Cloister Garden F Abbey

We finally had to drag ourselves away from this fascinating place…but will be back to explore more of the Loire Valley at some point!

 

7 Easy ways to help Get Out the Vote (that don’t involve talking to people)

vote is voice hats

For those of us in the United States, Tuesday November 6th is Election Day. I’ve been spending lots of time this month working on getting out the vote; I’ve even *gulp* gone out canvassing! Like most people, I was super intimidated at the thought of getting involved and TALKING TO PEOPLE (it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it’d be), so thought I’d share some easy ways to help get out the vote that don’t require voter interaction!

poll greeter

Wear a “Vote” button, hat, or tee shirt – An internet search shows thousands of buttons, car magnets, and tees with messages about voting! You choose the message you want to wear and when you want to wear it. I ordered this tee and this tee and am going to wear them on the days I know I’ll be running all over town. I don’t want to get into any confrontations with people, so chose a simple, non partisan message.

vote buttonHelp make buttons – ever wondered where all those buttons come from that everyone’s handing out around election time? Volunteers make them! Just call your party’s county office or your favorite candidate and say “I’d like to help make buttons” – easy peasy!

postcards

Write postcards – this is a super easy way to help! The postcards to voters project is nationwide, but many candidates and local party offices/precincts have initiated their own postcard writing campaigns. You can gather friends for postcard writing parties or do a few at a time during commercials while watching TV; handwritten postcards are a great way to reach voters! My precinct wrote postcards before our primaries, and several folks came to vote with postcards in hand – so very rewarding to know our efforts mattered!

Share information about voting on your social media – You may have friends and neighbors who don’t know how to make sure they’re registered to vote, whether your state offers early voting or what the locations and hours are for voting. Its easy to share factual information like this in a non-confrontational way, along with a reminder that its important that we ALL vote, regardless of our party affiliation.

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Drop off door hangers – Our precinct printed door hangers with info about early voting locations, the slate of candidates, and other issues on the ballot. We’ve had volunteers driving around neighborhoods and putting them on doors, as another way to contact voters.  I’ve done several neighborhoods and rarely does anyone come to the door when I’m there.

**Full disclosure: I did have one lady come to the door while I was approaching. I just said “I’m dropping off some info about early voting” – easy peasy!**

Put a sign in your yard – If you have a particular candidate or issue you’d like to support, ask for a sign to put in your yard! Candidates LOVE this, particularly if you live on a street that gets lots of traffic, as name recognition can make all the difference in who gets the vote.

Text voters – Lots of organizations/candidates use texts to get their message out. You can sign up to help text voters. Most use apps with pre-scripted messages that conceal all phone numbers for privacy reasons (yours and the people you are texting). While there is no face to face interaction, I’ve received both positive and negative replies. I handle the negative ones by texting back “So sorry to bother you! I’ll remove you from our list right now😊” This is super easy – the app I’m signed up on loads the message and all I have to do is tap “send” – I can send about 800 texts in an hour or so!

**And two bonus ideas if you don’t mind a little voter interaction…**

Phone banking – Many people these days don’t answer their phone if they don’t recognize the number, so you’ll mostly be leaving voicemails. Candidates and political parties focus on calling folks who they believe will support them, so you’ll generally be calling people within the same party. You will be given a script and a list of numbers; everything is loaded on a website to make it as easy as possible. You can do a few at a time (while waiting in the school pick up line, folding laundry, etc.) or a bunch all at once. If someone does pick up, you’ll usually have a positive conversation!

booth at pride

Staff a booth at a festival or fair – I’ve worked my party’s booth at two different fairs and festivals this month, asking people if they’re registered to vote and handing out  voter materials. I’ve had some great conversations and love that I’ve been able to provide help to folks who were unsure about their registration/polling locations/issues on the ballot. I’ve broken down and cried with a couple of women and been the recipient/giver of hugs  – it’s been an amazing experience!

 

A Day Out on the Glen Burney Trail (Wednesday Wanderings series)

Glen Burney Trail

Happy Wednesday! My husband and I spent today hiking in the North Carolina mountains with our dog.  I love having these midweek adventures with him; it will be one of the things I miss most when he goes back to work!

Perfect pose!My favorite hiking buddies!

We chose the Glen Burney Trail because it showcases several waterfalls and was only about a 90 minute drive from Winston Salem. An extra bonus is that the trailhead is located a block from Main St in downtown Blowing Rock, so it would be super easy to add in some shopping, strolling and eating to round out your day! We didn’t spend any time downtown today, but I’ve loved my meals at The Speckled Trout in the past. And if you really want to indulge, Westglow Resort and Spa is just a few miles outside of Blowing Rock; my husband gave me a day package there for Mother’s Day, and it’s incredible!

hiking 4

But today we just hiked and enjoyed the gorgeous sunny fall day. The trail is an out and back 3 mile route, which goes downhill on the way out and then heads straight back up. I was definitely glad I had my trekking poles with me. It wasn’t super strenuous by any means, but the poles take some of the pressure off my knees when going down steep steps. We had to scramble a little bit crossing the stream, as the bridge is washed out, but some kind soul laid a plank in exactly the right spot to help us out!

crossing bridgebridge 4

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent post about being a “river through the forest” kind of girl, so today’s trail was just what I love – we meandered through the woods beside the stream and passed several beautiful waterfalls.

scooby 6

waterfall 5

Scooby enjoyed exploring as well and happily posed for multitudes of photos (be sure to check out the last photo – I caught him mid-shake and it’s hilarious!) So much fun to hike with this cutie!

Can I jump?Can I jump, Mom?

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mid shake!

What are some of your favorite hikes in the Boone/Blowing Rock area? Let me know in the comments below!

 

My October Bucket List

blue glass front porchOctober is one of my favorite months…although it is 88 degrees today, I’m all about fall and am anxiously awaiting its arrival here in North Carolina (I got a quick little taste in Prague last week, where for three glorious days it was in the high 50’s).  Here are some of the things I’m excited for this month…

Digging out my fall clothes – I LOVE being able to wear clothes without sweating! It’s so much fun to play in my closet and say hello to my favorites from last year…I’m super excited to pull out my fall clothes this month! A huge closet purge will be happening – after living in Connecticut for five years before moving here, I have LOTS of winter clothes. But in the South, we don’t get super cold winters, and I’ve about given up on ever moving back to somewhere with colder winters. This year, I’m going to ruthlessly get rid of the thick sweaters I no longer wear and some of my heavier winter coats.

 

IMG_5975.jpgMy two favorite hiking buddies!

Hiking in the North Carolina mountains – Do you prefer the beach or the mountains??  I am a mountain girl all the way – I love hiking and our North Carolina mountains have some beautiful trails! Blocking out at least two or three days to head west and do some hiking with my husband and dog is a high priority for me this month.

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Working with my local party to Get Out The Vote – for those of us in the USA, midterm elections are November 6th. I spent all of 2017 being angry, then decided that working to help get out the vote was a great way to funnel my anger into positive action. Whichever party you belong to, please make plans to BE A VOTER this year – to paraphrase Barack Obama, “democracy works best when we ALL participate”!

purple reeds

The Chiluly at Night exhibit at the Biltmore – I have been so excited to see this exhibit of Dale Chiluly’s glass in the gardens of Biltmore Estate, but it closes this weekend.  So I spontaneously bought a ticket on Tuesday and drove to Asheville last night….the exhibit was AMAZING and I’m so glad I went!  If you are in the area and have been wanting to see it, I highly recommend it. The night tickets are sold out, but you can still see it during the day through Sunday.

glass ball front lawn**secret tip: You need a wristband to access the gardens after 7 PM, but if you have a daytime ticket, you can hang out in the shops and restaurants until dark and look over the wall to see a few of the pieces lit up in the front “side garden” – there’s also this beautiful piece on the front lawn that you can access up close without a wristband**

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Beethoven’s Fifth with the Charlotte Symphony – My husband introduced me to the joys of going to symphony concerts back in college – and now we go several times a year. This weekend we are heading to Charlotte to hear Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – I’m looking forward to getting dressed up and having a date with him.

Mornings on my porch – Even though it’s still in the 80’s here, the morning temps are a bit cooler and the humidity is lower, making mornings on my porch pleasant again. One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my porch in the morning with my dog, my coffee and a good book. if you happen to pass by, wave and say hello!

IMG_7921.JPGWith Marek, our running tour guide in Prague!

Running – After doing two runs in Prague (including our running tour), I’m looking forward to spending more time running once the temps are lower. Salem Lake and Tanglewood Park are two of my favorite places to run – they both have lots of shade and beautiful fall foliage. Once the leaves start to change, I’ll be out there a couple of times each week!

What are you most looking forward to this month?

Great October Events in Winston Salem, NC

tree-99852.jpgOctober is one of my favorite months in North Carolina!

Happy Saturday!  I’m back from my bike trip and have mostly recovered from jet lag. I have lots of great stories to share from the Czech Republic, but first comes the next installment in my monthly series “Great Events in Winston Salem”.  Lots of awesome happenings this month…the Dixie Classic Fair, PRIDE month, and Halloween, to name just a few! Here is a curated list of fun events in October (if none of these tickle your fancy, just check Facebook events for Winston Salem in October – there are thousands of listings)!

autumn-986343.jpgOutdoor events

October is one of my favorite months in North Carolina – the temps are finally cooling off, so I plan to spend as much time outdoors as possible! Here are some great choices…

Thursdays @ 5 PM – Innovation Quarter YMCA Trailblazers running group – run along the Long Branch Trail then head over to Incendiary Brewing for a post-run pint. Now that my bike trip is over, I want to do more running, so am definitely going to check it out!

Saturdays in Old Salem – Old Salem is beautiful in the fall and on Saturdays, it’s great fun to wander the Cobblestone Farmers Market then wander around Old Salem and walk the Strollway. They have special family activities on Saturdays as well.

Sunday 10/14 – Fall Foliage hike at Salem Lake – from 12:30 – 2 PM, enjoy a guided hike around Salem Lake to enjoy the fall foliage.  Free, but call 336-650-7677 to register.

Tuesday 10/23 – SECCA Slam for Art Charity Golf Tournament – if you love to golf and want to support SECCA, this is the event for you!

 

trivia night.jpgTrivia Nights

I love trivia nights – there’s just something fun about getting a team of friends together and racking our brains for those crazy tidbits of knowledge! Most trivia nights are on Monday and Tuesday, so it’s a great way to start the week with some fun.

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, you won’t want to miss Joymongers Barrel Hall’s special trivia night in honor of the new season of The Walking Dead starting at 7 PM on Monday, Oct. 1st.

Geeks Who Drink Trivia  This event is held every Monday from 8-10 pm at Wise Man Brewing – you can show up in teams of up to six people or as a single player and they’ll help you find a team!

Finnigan’s Wake on Trade Street hosts Trivia every Tuesday at 8:15 PM. My husband and I won t-shirts one night for coming in last…but we had tons of fun and always enjoy the great selection of beer and the delicious food here!

Foothills Brewpub hosts Trivia every Tuesday (8-10 PM) and Thursday (9-11 PM) – and Tuesday is half price fish and chips night!

 

pumpkin-2327488.jpgHalloween events

Friday 10/5 (and other dates) – Mystery & Mayhem Segway Tour – Every October, Triad ECO Adventures offers our Mystery & Mayhem tour on various Friday and Saturday evenings. Only for gliders with prior Segway experience, these night tours are limited to six people – come hear stories of “Spooks and Specters and Mischief Makers”! (Full disclosure: I am a Segway Glide Guide for this company; book a tour and I might end up being your guide!)

Tuesday 10/23 – SECCA is showing a National Theatre Live performance of Frankenstein – with Benedict Cumberbatch. Perfect for Halloween week!

finnigan's wake hearseFinnigan’s Wake used a hearse in years past for their parties…

Saturday 10/27 – Finnigan’s Wake Irish Pub is hosting a Halloween Party with live music. Costumes highly encouraged – music begins at 10 PM! Finnigan’s gets my vote for one of the best patios in Winston Salem plus they have a great selection of beers on tap.

Friday 10/26 – Tuesday 10/30 – Old Salem hosts the Night Watchman: Legends and Lanterns Tours. Night tours by lantern light through Old Salem hearing tales of ghosts and night time mischief – I’m in!

 

oktoberfest-968232.jpgOktoberfest!

Festivals and Fairs

Sept 28 through October 7th – the Dixie Classic Fair is back for the 136th year (it began as a wheat exhibition in 1882). This will actually be my first year going to the fair – I’ll be working at the Democratic Party booth in the Annex helping to register voters, so pop by and say hello if you’re there on October 4th!

Lots of Oktoberfest celebrations on Saturday 10/6 – Foothills Brewing Company Tasting Room from 12-6 and Joymongers Barrel Hall from 12 noon to midnight.

On the 13th, the Triad German Club is hosting their Oktoberfest Party from 5-11 PM.  Bratwurst, apple strudel and German Beer – what could be better??

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Thursday 10/4 – Sunday 10/7 – OUT at the Movies Fest – celebrate PRIDE month with this film festival showcasing LGBT films at the ACE Theater on the UNCSA campus.

Saturday October 13th – PRIDE festival and parade downtown in the Arts District. Always a fun event!

grafitti wall.jpgArt and Home events

SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) has an exhibit through November 7th about Cuban Art – this looks super interesting so I’m definitely planning to check it out.

SECCA also collaborates with the Arts Council of Winston Salem and Forsyth County to host a series of screenings from the National Theater in London – click here for the full schedule and details, but October’s line up includes Hamlet, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, and Frankenstein.

Southern Home and Kitchen offers up a huge variety of fun cooking classes, from How to Throw a Cocktail Party to Cooking with Cast Iron. I just bought my first cast iron skillet, so I may have to sign up for that one!

Tuesday 10/2 –  Come join the fun and sing along to Grease at a/perture cinema! Tickets are $18 and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Wednesdays – Did you know that the Central Library on 5th Street has Blockbuster Wednesdays? They show movies for free in the auditorium – click here for the full schedule, but on 10/3 the featured film is Coco (a great family movie), beginning at 4 PM.

What fun things will you be doing this month? Let me know what I missed!

Our running tour of Prague

winged lion prague 2The Winged Lion Memorial – a thank you from Great Britain honoring the 2,507 Czechoslovak airmen who served in the Royal Air Force during WWII.

Hello from the Czech Republic! I’m currently biking around South Bohemia with two girlfriends (follow my adventures on Instagram here) – if you haven’t been to the Czech Republic, add it to your list! It’s a beautiful country with warm, friendly people – we’ve had so many great experiences! We flew into Prague and spent a couple of days there before we started biking. I found this running tour of Prague, and it sounded like so much fun that we booked it for our second morning. Our guide, Marek, met us at our apartment at 7:30 am, and took us around the tourist areas of the city, pointing out landmarks and good places to eat.  We covered about 4.5 miles, but Marek let us set the pace, which as a beginning runner I greatly appreciated. It was a great way to get some exercise, especially after being cramped in a plane for the overnight flight just a day or so before, and as a bonus, we saw the tourist areas when they were blissfully uncrowded! Here are some of the things we saw…

babies with face

The Babies – these sculptures used to be “climbing” up the side of the TV tower in Prague, but now reside in a park on Kampa Island. We never did figure out why they have no faces…if you know, please enlighten me!

lennon wall prague

The John Lennon Wall – a spontaneous tribute to John Lennon when he was assassinated, this wall became an expression of hope for freedom during the Communist years. Every night, the government would paint over the graffiti, and every day, new graffiti would appear. We saw it with one other tourist at 8 AM; later that afternoon, we returned and there were close to 200 people at the wall.

wallenstein gardens 2

The Wallenstein Garden – built in 1623, this geometric, early Baroque garden used to be private, belonging to the adjacent palace.  Now, open to the public, the garden is a peaceful place with free-roaming peacocks, including some rare white peacocks.

white peacock pragueThe white peacocks of Wallenstein Garden

radio memorial prague

Memorial to Dr. Milada Horakova –  a Czech politician, she was convicted of fabricated charges of conspiracy and treason, then executed by the Communist Party in 1950. The memorial is in the form of a microphone like the one she stood in front of during her show trial, where she was given 30 seconds to speak in her defense. It honors her and all those who stood up against totalitarianism.

fruit market pragueA local market, founded in 1232!

And last but not least…

Charles Bridge prague

The Charles Bridge – the most famous bridge and an iconic sight of Prague, the bridge was practically empty when we ran across. Later that afternoon, it was full of caricaturists, souvenir stalls, street performers and tourists!

We loved our running tour of Prague – if you’re a runner, I highly recommend it! If you’ve done a running tour somewhere, let me know where and whether you enjoyed it!

**This post is not sponsored; we just had such a good time we wanted to spread the word!**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 reasons why women need friendships with other women

amigas with bikesThe Three Amigas – my biking buddies!

Happy National Women’s Friendship Day! I’m so glad there is a day to celebrate the friendships of women, because these are some of the strongest, most important relationships in a woman’s life. In honor of my amazing, incredible girlfriends, here are seven reasons why women need friendships with other women…

Emotional Support – Women are wired for emotional relationships, and we communicate differently than men. Men want to fix things; they see a problem and immediately start thinking of solutions.  Women think with logic AND emotion – sometimes, I just want someone to understand how angry/sad/confused/frustrated I am feeling. If I say “Can you believe this just happened?!”, I’ll immediately get an understanding and sympathetic “AARGH!” right back. And sometimes that’s all I need.

Honest feedback  True friends act as a sounding board and help us figure out how to deal with troubling situations. If I’m tangled up with emotion, my girlfriends can help me clarify WHY I’m feeling the way I am, whether my actions in response to those emotions are reasonable, and which actions might make more sense. And when needed, they’ll just give me the brutal, honest truth, whether it’s “That was a crap thing to do” or “You’re being unrealistic in your expectations”!

women's marchShared experiences led these dear friends and I to the Women’s March in Washington, DC, Jan 2017

Shared life experiences  There are some things that men and women just experience differently, and sometimes we need to tell our story to someone who can understand every step of the way.  Feminine health issues, childbirth, working in a male-dominated field, sexual harassment/assault, or figuring out how to deal with the children and men in our life are just a few examples. To quote one of my dearest friends, “We love each other’s children as if they are our own, and gladly cheer when they triumph and support them and each other when they stumble”. Men can certainly support us and talk about these things with us, but our shared experiences with other women bind us together in a unique way.

Stress relief – Women are nurturers – it’s what we do. We make meals for friends with new babies, have coffee dates where we vent about our current worries, and organize each other’s linen closets (making sure they’re stocked with toilet paper) without being asked. When life is exceptionally crazy, my women friends help take the load off, whether by helping me decorate for a holiday party, pulling me out for a coffee break, talking through my list to help me prioritize, or reminding me to make time for exercise, nutrition and sleep. 

Rellies!Some of my favorite shopping buddies – my family!!!

Common interests – While men and women might share any number of interests, I don’t have many men in my life who honestly love spending a day shopping, chatting and enjoying coffee. I, however, love spending time this way! I like romantic comedies and dramas; my husband and children (both my sons and my daughter) prefer action adventures and westerns. I like to read different kinds of books and do different kinds of workouts than my husband does. I could travel 200 days a year and be quite happy; my husband doesn’t love it the way I do. My husband will do these things with me, of course, because he loves me; and I do the same for him. But doing the things I love with other women who are having JUST AS MUCH FUN adds an extra layer of richness to my life. 

IMG_5070My daughter will forever be my partner in fun!!

Fun, laughter and mental health – To quote a wise friend of mine; “Spending time with girlfriends, laughing and having fun, can be like a retreat and reinvigorate you and make you a better parent/wife/partner, etc”. Women need social connections and to feel part of a larger community; taking the time to be silly, have adventures and laugh with our tribe is a vitally important piece of life. When we do this, we are re-energized and can jump back into our daily life with enthusiasm and patience. 

amy and I keukenhoffThis woman has shared my life since the day I broke down crying from stress in grad school – so many memories we’ve created over the last 30 years!

Self esteem and empowerment – we women are hard on ourselves! We deal with self-doubt and insecurities on a daily basis. My friends help me see my strengths instead of my weaknesses. They will be the first to cheer when I do something amazing, without feeling jealous or competitive. I have learned to be more accepting and compassionate toward myself when I make a mistake, and to appreciate all the powerful things my body can do (bike 240 miles through Austria? Done!) rather than criticizing the things I can’t do (pull ups? no way – and that’s okay!). My women friends know exactly how to build me up when I need a boost, and how to encourage me to reach for a goal that I may think is unattainable. And let me tell you this; if you’re hanging around with women who like to tear each other down, you need to ditch those women and make some new friends – you deserve better!

**Thanks to all the women in my tribe, wherever you are! I treasure your friendship – you have added immeasurable joy to my life!**

Ten Tips for a Successful Visit with Your College Student

IMG_E4599.jpgVisiting my son in Rome was the highlight of his first semester in college (For me, at least!)

Well, it’s that time of year…college students are settling in for the fall semester and freshmen parents are missing their kids ever so much! I’ve sent three kids off, and love visiting my kids at school! I’m not an expert by any means, but over the years I’ve come up with a few tips to make visits with my children smoother and more enjoyable for all of us. I’m sharing them here in hopes that they might help some of you – if you have any of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

**All of these tips are college student approved by my three adult children**

# 1 – Timing is everything.

Schedule your visit during a time that is convenient for your student and keep it to 2-3 days. Visiting during exam week won’t be fun for anyone!  Schedule your visit a week or so AFTER exams, however, and your daughter will be caught up on her sleep and happy to see you! Keeping your visit short also avoids disrupting classes, studying, extracurriculars, etc.

**If your student is studying abroad, the expense is far too great to go just for a weekend, so my recommendation here would be to arrive on a weekend, spend a couple of days with your student, then sightsee on your own midweek, meeting up for another couple of days before you head home.**

#2 – Be prepared to spend some time on your own.

Your daughter will be thrilled to see you, but she won’t have unlimited time…studying, club activities, socials, rehearsals, and other commitments may interrupt your visit. Be flexible and willing to spend time on your own while she’s in class. I’ve enjoyed many a peaceful hour in the gliders on the campus of University of Miami with a good book! I also once took a Segway tour of South Beach while my daughter was in rehearsal.

UM GlidersI spent many happy hours in these gliders while my daughter was in class!

#3 – Always let your student be the one to decide whether to invite friends to join the fun.

Don’t invite their friends along without checking with your student in private first. Sometimes they just want to be with you, and other times they’ll want to introduce you to friends or a new love interest.

eastman Quad at UREastman Quad at University of Rochester

#4 – Ask them to show you around campus.

My kids always loved showing me where they had their classes, the dining hall, their dorm, etc. I enjoyed getting that mental picture of where they spent their days.

#5 – Get a hotel room big enough for your student to stay with you (but don’t be offended if he chooses to stay on campus).

Sometimes your son will want to get away from the dorms or his roommate and stay at the hotel with you to chill; other times it may just be more convenient for him to stay on campus. Don’t take it personally. 

#6 – If your visit is for longer than one night, consider renting a place with a kitchen so you can cook some of their favorite foods.

During my oldest son’s first semester, we visited for a long weekend and rented a nearby cabin. All he wanted that weekend was home-cooked meals after two months of dining hall food!

# 7 – Take her on a Target run to stock up on snacks and supplies.

This is self-explanatory, but especially welcome if your student doesn’t have easy access to Target or her favorite stores. You’ll also win points if you bring her favorite homemade goodies (make sure to bring enough to share with her friends)!

# 8 – Family pets are always a welcome surprise if it’s feasible to bring Fido along!

Seriously…we visited our younger son when he was studying abroad, hosted nine of his friends for dinner, and they ALL said the thing they missed most was their pet (and Chick Fil A)!!

IMG_2544.JPGWho wouldn’t miss this face?

Tip #9 – DO tell their friends what to call you.

College is a tricky time; do they call you by your first name or by “Mrs. So and So”?  Your daughter’s friends will be much more comfortable if you tell them what you’d like to be called. The easiest way I’ve found is to say “You can call me Deanna” when my daughter introduces me as her mom.

Tip #10 – Leave some free time in the schedule to sleep and just hang out.

College students are so busy that they often don’t have enough time to rest and recharge. Go out for dinner, but then go back to your hotel and watch movies together in your pajamas. Or sleep in and have coffee and bagels in the hotel rather than going out to breakfast. Unscheduled time is a luxury for college students!

morning-1092771.jpg

Bonus tip: DON’T sleep through scheduled activities! Yep, been there, done that – I forgot to account for the extra noise of the hotel A/C unit and didn’t have my alarm loud enough…slept right through a scheduled breakfast with my son and his friends *Gulp* !

What tips do you have for great visits?? I’d love to hear them!

**Thoughts on Family Weekend**

There’s no right or wrong here. Some families love going to Family Weekend; some families don’t. My kids wanted us to visit when the campus was less crowded, hotels were less expensive, restaurants had shorter waits and we had more free time together. Other families love going to the football games, meeting the department heads, and all the other social activities that are planned. Ask your student and then decide together – some families only go freshman year, some families go all four years and it’s a fun annual event for them!

Great September Events in Winston Salem, NC!

bailey parkBailey Park is the site of so many fun events!

Of all the places I have lived (I have moved 20 times!), I think Winston Salem is one of my favorites! It’s big enough that it seems like there’s always something fun to do, but small enough that we don’t usually deal with major traffic. Today, I’m rounding up some of the great happenings in September. When I started searching, events just kept popping up, so I’m actually kind of sad that I’m going to miss most of these (I’ll be biking the Czech Republic)  – if you go, please let me know which events you enjoyed the most! I’m thinking of making this a monthly series, so let me know too if this is something you’re interested in seeing.

**I thought about titling this post “The BEST September events in Winston Salem”, but MY best may not be YOUR best; so it’s just going to be a list of some GREAT events in Winston Salem**

Here are some of the cool events I found, in chronological order:

This weekendBookmarks Annual Festival of Authors and Books runs through tomorrow, Sept 9th. Today is chock full of panels, book signings, author talks, and tons of other great stuff! I’m super excited to meet Anne Bogel, author and blogger over at Modern Mrs Darcy.  I’ve been a faithful reader of her blog for several years now and participate in her reading challenges each year. She’ll be talking about “What Do I Read Next?” at 1 pm in the Mountcastle Forum at Hanes Brands Theater – come join me and say hello! For full details and schedules, click here to go to the festival website.

Tonight  Looking for something fun for a date night tonight?  You’ve got a couple of choices! The second and fourth Saturdays of the month, AFAS (Arts for Arts Sake) holds a Salsa Social on the second floor of their building downtown at the corner of Liberty and Seventh St.  Cover is $10…click here for full details.

Your second great choice tonight is Viva Italia! The Piedmont Wind Symphony opens their 29th season with music from Italy at the Stevens Center on Fourth St, starting at 7:30 pm.  There are still some great seats left, and prices start at just $15! 

Wednesday, Sept 12thPicnic in the Plaza – Corpening Plaza is playing host to Simon 98.7 and the Make a Wish Foundation – for $1.98 you get a lunch and ALL proceeds go to the Make A Wish Foundation, which grants wishes for terminally ill children. For full details click here.

Stay downtown for the afternoon, because also on the 12th, Bailey Park hosts Sunset Salutations, a monthly free yoga class on the bottom level lawn of Bailey Park.  Class starts at 6:30 pm.

On Thursday Sept 13th, the United Way of Forsyth County is joining with A/perture Cinema for a showing of Homeless, a film about homelessness, filmed locally here in Winston Salem. A discussion and panel will be held after the showing…for all the details and tickets, head over here

The weekend of Sept 14-15 is full of awesome events, many of them free movies!

Friday evening 9/14  – Head back to Bailey Park for an outdoor showing of Zootopia! Bring a picnic or buy dinner at the food trucks. Food trucks open at 6:30, movie begins at dark. Full details here.

IMG_4014Movie nights in Bailey Park are one of my absolute favorite things to do in WS!

Saturday 9/15 – SO MANY GREAT CHOICES TODAY! You’ve got the Historic Bethabara Park’s Apple Festival AND the 2018 International Village Food and Music Festival during the day (why not hit them BOTH??) then THREE choices for a free movie night! You can choose Coco at BB&T stadium with the Winston Salem Police Foundation; Wonder at the Jerry Long YMCA out in Clemmons; or Field of Dreams, part of the new Films on a Farm series at Crossnore Children’s Home. The latter is a collaboration with A/perture Cinema – admission and parking is free; drinks and popcorn will be for sale to support Crossnore.

wsdashInstead of watching baseball, enjoy a movie in the stadium!

Wednesday, Sept 19thCommunity Yoga in the Atrium at the Innovation Quarter – a monthly free indoor yoga class in the Atrium of the Wake Forest Biotech Place! Click here for all the info.

Thursday Sept 20th – Historic Bethabara Park has a free Summer Nights Concert Series this evening at 6 PM…here are all the details!

Friday, Sept 21 – Friday Fun Day! How to choose –  you’ve got a Grape Stomp Harvest Party at Childress Vineyards, a FREE Fall Film Screening of the best short films produced by UNCSA Film Students on the beautiful UNCSA campus and the Moonlight Madness 5K at Bailey Park, the annual kick off Fundraiser for the United Way of Forsyth County.  I’ve done Moonlight Madness for the last three years and am sad to miss it this year – it’s always a fun event with music, beer and pizza for the participants after the run!

moonlight madnessMoonlight Madness is always great fun!

Sat, Sept 22 brings both Fiesta 2018, the Hispanic League’s FREE street festival – all day fun with food and music from many South American countries. Stop by the festival and then hit up Oktoberfest with Wise Man Brewing and the RamKat. If you’re still standing after Oktoberfesting, you can head over to the Salsa Social at AFAS!

For some midweek fun, check out A/perture Cinema’s showing of Joan Jett: Bad Reputation (Wednesday 9/26) or Pay What You Wish Thursday at Reynolda House Museum of American Art (9/27) – if you haven’t been to Reynolda House before, now’s your chance to visit for free.

Friday Sept 28thSunset Thursdays Free concert at Bailey Park, Mt Joy and Arlie are the featured bands. Don’t let the name confuse you – usually these concerts are on Thursdays, but September’s concert is on a Friday!

Celebrate the last Saturday of the month, and hopefully cooler temps, on  Sept 29th with a Whiskey and Wine Bar Crawl. From 2-7 PM you can wander downtown Winston Salem with a portion of the proceeds going to a local non-profit.

Wow! SO MANY HAPPENINGS in September! let me know if you’d like to see this as monthly series and which events you loved if you go to any of them!