Saturday, April 14, 2018

Going to Guatemala on Holland America's Rotterdam

Happy weekend my dear friends.  I've been away on a short spring break vacation with my family.  I actually returned home last Monday but I thought it was time to update my blog.

On April 1st we sailed out of Tampa, Florida on Holland America's Rotterdam.  It was our first time sailing on Holland America and I must say, it's going to be one of my favorites.

Leaving the port in Tampa, I loved seeing these iconic homes along the shore all dressed up in their pastel colors.  

Our first port stop was Key West, Florida.  It had almost been 20 years since I'd been to Key West.  Last time I went there it was extremely hot, humid and uncomfortable in the heat of an August summer.  This time the weather was quite agreeable but I must say, the quaint town has been damaged by being a cruise port.  I saw the typical cruise shops you will find in any port city.  Loud music and lots of people.  We did take the conch train ride and ventured a little ways outside the main center.  I loved this home that is still wearing it's natural wood color.  It's now a home decor shop over 100 years old.

On the same street was this cafe/coffee shop dating from 1909.  It's amazing that it still is standing and still doing business.

At this same place, this sign was posted on the fence.  Imagine that  President Truman was here in 1946. I'm sure Key West was a charming seaside city back then.

Next up was Roatan, Honduras.  I'd been to Roatan before but never to Mahogony Bay. It was a private beach area for the cruise lines.  The beach was beautiful but crowded with 3 ships in port!

One place I'd never been before was Guatemala and I am in love with this country!  Such natural beauty.  We took a proper tour and drove over an hour through the lush, green countryside.  Our port was in San Tomas de Castilla which is an industrial port city.  But, once outside, it was beautiful.

Our destination was the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara which is on the Dulce River. 

The fortress dates from the early 17th century.  This property was added to the  UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. 

The canons are still mounted and aimed at the intruders which came via the Dulce River.

This is the inner courtyard of the fortress.

Upon entering the fortress, is was surrounded by a moat.  It was soon time to get back on board the bus and head back to the ship.  It was a most interesting ride back as we went through a little town where the people where making tamales, selling and buying fruits and vegetables and also selling ready made meals for the workers.  Our tour guide had light brown hair and blue eyes; his grandparents were Belgian and English!  He told us it was the Germans who developed the coffee industry in Guatemala and still today there are a large group of Guatemalans with German ancestry.  It was very quite interesting.  My dear son-in-law was born in Guatemala of Guatemalan and Spanish ancestry.  

We stopped at a port in Mexico where I had never been before; Costa Maya.  Here is a replica of a Mayan monument in the city square.  It's a small beach town with a thriving tourist industry.

We ventured off to a private beach club, Maya Chan, owned by Americans from San Diego, CA.  It was really quite lovely and excellent hospitality from our gracious hosts.  They had all kinds of nonmotorized watercraft at our disposal, and all inclusive food and drink.  The only glitch is that this part of the ocean has an abundance of sea grass but it was wonderful being out in the water and enjoying this beautiful, tranquil setting.

Many times I read where people say they will never take a cruise.  My family started cruising 20 years ago and we go at least once a year.  It makes it so much easier as a family since you know where you are going to sleep each night, you can eat whatever your heart desires at anytime, and there are so many activities to do. My little grandson who is 8, just completed his 12 cruise and my granddaughter who is 2 just finished her 4th!  It's a pleasant way to see the world.  As I mentioned above, I was really impressed by Holland America.  Guest Services printed out a list of the art that is onboard.  The above is in the center atrium of the ship.

This is a very poor photo I took of a 17th century Italian desk with all these little compartments.  The parquet design was amazing.

And, this is a lovely marble design in floor of one of the lounges on board.

There was a lovely mix of passengers on board; old, not too old, young and a few youngsters.  Just the right mix.  And I enjoyed the ambiance of the ship.  It was a lovely trip except for our flights.  We had chosen the discount airline Spirit Air and it turned out to be a disaster.  Long story short, our flight home was postponed, we spent an extra night in Tampa and arrived back home on Monday instead of Sunday!  But, all is well and everyone is back to their routine.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  My Saturday was spent at a Norwegian heritage fair where I made waffles!

My best wishes to you,


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Meet Peter Rabbit and Cottontail Along with an Historical Australian Knitting Pattern

 Greetings everyone.  I'm writing this on beautiful Saturday morning here in southern California.  Our landscape has been refreshed from an overnight rain and it feels wonderful to see the sky dotted with clouds.

Easter is fast approaching and I again knitted some Easter bunnies for my little grandchildren.  

Please meet Peter Rabbit and Cottontail.  I made them from  Stylecraft DK yarn that I had leftover from my numerous blanket projects.  You can find the pattern and all info here on my Ravelry page. I was inspired to make these after seeing the delightful Peter Rabbit movie with my grandson.

I had the most fun embellishing their little outfits.  The patterns are free so basically this project cost me nothing other than my time.  My dear husband jokingly commented that instead of wasting my time knitting these little creatures I could have bought them for less than $5.00 each!  But, if you're a crafter, you know that it's not the money but the fun in making something and seeing your rewards.

I joined The Handmade Sock Society and I'm still working on the first pattern.  It's called Hellebore and I was so excited to see my Hellebore (Lenten Rose) blooming this year.  I think it's a perfect match to my socks.

If you're a needlework person, I'm sure you've heard of Weldons Practical Needlework which was a popular Victorian needlework magazine.  The scarf shown above is the Double Rose Leaf Pattern.  I found the pattern* in my March/April 2016 edition of Piecework magazine. But wait. . . there's more!  I knew this pattern was featured in Weldon's Practical Needlework magazine but it also was featured in the Australian Town and Country Journal on June 26, 1886.  The Town and Country Journal was a weekly newspaper out of Sydney New South Wales Australia and was in print from 1870 to 1919.  You can see a copy of the original pattern here.  I don't know about you but for me, finding this link makes this pattern very real to me.  To think that over 130 years ago, there were ladies out there knitting the same exact pattern as me!   

I love history and all things that have a story from long ago.  I've always wished I could transport myself back to those days.  Although, I don't know what I would do without my vacuum and washing machine!  ahhhh

Until next time, I wish you all the very best,


PS If you're a knitter and wish to try this pattern, please remember that "make one" means "yarn over" in this pattern.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Grocery Shopping at my Persian Market

Hello my friends.  Lilly thanks you for the kind comments you left for her. It's been a nice week here.  My husband took me out to lunch this week at my favorite Persian restaurant which happens to be on top of my favorite Persian market.

This is a view of the market from the landing of the restaurant.  We discovered this wonderful venue when we first visited our daughter in California 10 years ago.

After our lunch, we did a little grocery shopping.  They had this beautiful Haft-Seen table set up for Nayrouz (Persian New Year).  There are seven symbolic items on this table that are attached to the new year celebration.

Next up is this wonderful, freshly made Sangak bread made in this special oven seen behind...warm and tasty!

We basically buy all our food items at the Persian markets.  Yes, that's plural and there are lots of them down here in SoCal.  I love the meat counter where there are actual butchers who can prepare your meat to your liking.

Next up is the in house bakery.  I sometimes buy these goodies as they are so yummy.

Right now they have lots of already made goodies brought in for Nayrouz.  These cookies are made in Iran.  

I haven't bought any of these yet but I may just have to!

They're known for they fresh, crispy Persian cucumbers.  They were on sale this week at .79 cents a pound.  My little granddaughter loves these.

Their produce is always fresh and the prices can't be beat.  I think because maybe they cut out the middleman.  I don't know but most items are priced at .50 cents a pound with parsley and or cilantro at 4/$1.00.  I used to pay $1.00 for a few wilted sprigs of parsley!

Here is the fruit section.  I bought some Cara Cara oranges; they are pink inside and so delicious.

Most everyone loves bananas at .59 cents a pound.

The Persians are known for their love of spices.  Their food is so flavorful with the addition of spices and wonderful fruits sometimes added.  The prices for their spices are super inexpensive since they repackage them themselves.

I think I've become a bit of a rice snob.  Sorry, but there are so many delicious varieties out there.  Right now my favorite is a sella bastmati rice which is a parboiled rice which I buy in ten pound packages.  Sella rice has been milled differently and results in a unique texture.

I always enjoy looking at the home decor section.  This time they have added these Nayrouz candles for decoration.

And, they had these special flowers brought in for Nayrouz.  The scent was heavenly.

I love my Persian markets where I basically do all my shopping unless it's cleaning supplies, cat food, etc.  Then I go to my local Walmart grocery store (yes, it's only a Walmart grocery and it's not my favorite but for basic staples, it's great).  Oh, and I can't forget Costco (big, huge warehouse store), which is a world unto itself!

From reading lots of blogs, I find it interesting where people shop.  Some of my UK blog friends have described their favorite grocery stores.  When I lived in Washington, we had Safeway (it's Vons and Pavillions down here in California), Kroger (Ralph's here), and Albertsons to name a few.  But, my oh my, are their prices expensive on fruits and vegies compared to my Persian market.  But, when I do go shopping, I enjoy a bit of ambience if you know what I mean.  The other day I went to Smart and Final to pick up a couple of items they had on sale.  Oh boy, was it ever an unpleasant experience.  I felt like I was in a warehouse.  And, to top it off, the clerk told me the sale prices are different in every store!  Alas, I didn't get such a great bargain after all :(

Back in Tacoma, Washington, we had a Metropolitan Market.  It was like a French market meets a NY eatery/bistro.  It was so much fun to have lunch there and try all the exotic and imported foods they carried. Every Wednesday, they would get fresh bread flown in from Poilane Bakery in France. I miss those days but I have good memories.  There's a Whole Foods a few miles from where I live but I seldom get over to that part of my area (I can't say city since you'll being driving along, cross over a street and you'll find yourself in another city!)

It's suppose to be a quiet weekend around here with some rain showers.  I hope wherever you are, that you are safe and have a wonderful weekend.

With my best wishes,


Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Rainy Weekend with Lilly

Hello my dear friends.  It's Lilly here writing today.  My Mom is busy taking care of the grandchildren so she suggested that I write this blog post.

I woke up to drizzly, gray weather today so I've had to stay indoors.  I missed walking around the pool and looking for geckos.  But, as you can see in this photo, I found my Mom's lily bouquet and chewed on the leaves.  I know, it's a no no so she put the vase up on the fireplace; away from me and the grandchildren.

My parents took an overnight trip this past week to eastern San Diego county.  My Mom loves the drive there since it's very scenic and such a natural setting.  (They actually spent the night at the Pala Resort).  I missed them but I enjoyed my alone time, too.

Can you believe that my Mom still irons?  She irons every Tuesday and has for years and years.  Who in the world irons sheets and pillowcases in this day and age?  She insists on ironing and it really puzzles me. . .

I'm not a lover of sweet things (I prefer fish and savories), but Mom made a country style apple pie.  It's her own recipe using her standard pie crust recipe along with sliced apples, a few wild frozen blueberries, with a tad bit of butter and some brown sugar and maple syrup.  It smelled heavenly.

As you probably know, I'm a lover of birds - all kinds of birds.  Look what I spied this week near the pool.  Two beautiful little doves.  I sometimes hear them cooing.  Such delicate little birds.

This is the first time I'd have such a close look at these birds.  After they flew away, we had two Canadian geese land in the pool.  Oh my, was my Dad upset as they make a huge mess.  They are so majestic though and flew away.

Earlier in the week my parents went to the beach to have lunch.  It was a lovely, spring day and they enjoyed it very much.  The day before, there had been a shark sighting at the same beach.  Scary stuff! (My Mom "stole" the photo above from my Sister who is an excellent photographer)

Well guys, here I am, relaxing in my recliner chair.  I'm a bit upset since the grandchildren have come over and taken over all my favorite spots to nap.  But, I will survive.

I hope each of you have a wonderful weekend wherever you may be.  It's always good to hear from you and I send you and my furry friends a big MEOW.

Hugs from,


Thursday, March 1, 2018

School Shooting in Moses Lake

It was only seventy miles east from where I grew up, but this area seemed so foreign to me.  It was a town with almost no history and with only a handful of people who had actually been born and raised there.

Moses Lake is a small agricultural town in Eastern Washington, situated in the Columbia Basin.  It became a town in 1946 after Grand Coulee Dam was built.  The building of the dam harnessed the power of the mighty Columbia River and also brought water to the semi arid land that held all the resources for growing vast amount of crops.

It was back in 1975 that I first came to Moses Lake as a new bride.  Being in a small town wasn't difficult for me as I was from a small town.  What was difficult was that this town held no historical facets and the setting was flat, no mountains and no trees.  Very different from the lush Kittitas Valley that I came from east of the Columbia River.

Being young, I easily settled into my new life with my loving husband.  I kept myself busy with my job at the bank since there were no children at that time in the home.  

Little did I know then that tragedy was nothing new to this little town.  Moses Lake had been home to Larson Air Force Base which had closed down in 1966.  Years earlier in December of 1952 one of it's transport planes had crashed and killed 87 people of the 115 on board.  It was the deadliest aviation accident of the time in the US.  Tragedy struck again in September of 1963 when 7 people were killed in the explosion of the sugar silos at U & I Sugar Company.  At the time, U & I Sugar was the largest sugar processing plant in the US.

Tragedy raised it's head again on February 2, 1996.  It was a sunny, cold winter day.  I was sitting in my reading chair, waiting for my children for arrive home from school.  My Dad, who was a retired policeman, had given me a police scanner.  I was listening to it off and on and I sensed something was not right.

When my daughter came home from high school and my son from elementary school, they confirmed my suspicions.  A student at Frontier Middle School had opened fire on his classroom and killed two students, one teacher and seriously wounded another student.  It seemed unreal for this to be happening in a small little town with a population of less than 15,000 people.  Frontier Middle School was located on one of the main streets in the town, about 2 miles from where we lived.

Being a small town, everyone at that time knew of or knew everyone else in one way or another.  Especially if you attended one of the old time churches in the community.  One of the students killed, Arnold Fritz, was from our  church.  Arnold was 14 years old when he was killed by his classmate.  I knew Arnold, his parents, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles.  One of his uncles had retired from U & I Sugar, his grandfather ran his own meatpacking business, another relative worked at the post office.  Everyone was connected in one way or the other.  I knew the parents of the girl who was severely injured as they were customers of the bank where I worked.

The gunman, Barry Loukaitis was a troubled youth who cited a saying from a Stephen King novel at the time he started shooting.  His home life was disruptive, too.  Sadly, no one stepped in beforehand to help him with his state of mind.

The pastor at the church where Arnold Fritz attended was all of a sudden put into the spotlight with this school shooting.  He handled it very well for the community.

But, this was not the end of this tragic situation.  It was just the beginning.  You see, Arnold Fritz had a cousin, Aaron Moore, who also lived in Moses Lake and attended the same Lutheran church.  It was another cold, winter day in December. I'll remember this day, December 6, 1996, forever.  I was at one of my rentals painting the kitchen.  I had my radio on and heard the news of a shooting in Moses Lake.  It scared me but luckily it didn't involved the schools.  I returned home to meet the children after school.  I then took my son to the local barber shop and as I was waiting for the barber to cut his hair, I saw on the local news that the shooter was Aaron Moore, Arnold Fritz's first cousin!  It seemed like deja vu as the barber shop just happened to be located directly across the street from the middle school where the school shooting had happened months earlier.

Supposedly, Aaron had felt depressed over what had happened to his cousin months earlier.  Aaron took a rifle and killed his mother and little sister and then himself.  Aaron's stepfather was not at home at the time since he had left for work.  His little sister, Mallory, had been a student in the vacation Bible school class I had taught a few years earlier.  When I heard this news, it made my heart break.  Tragedy all over again.  And, the pastor of our Lutheran church had to go through all the heartache again with our community.  Our pastor's wife was best friends with Aaron's mother who was now dead at the hands of her son.

Aaron's body was cremated and they held his funeral.  His mother and little sister's funeral followed.  There was nothing left as everyone's heart was broken.  Imagine how Aaron's stepfather felt as his family had been wiped out.

Since these tragedies back in 1996, this scene has been repeated many, many times at schools across the US.  I applaud those Florida high school students who are now standing up and wanting change and I'm with them all the way.  Believe me, you'd never imagine something like this can happen in your little town that most people have never heard of.  There is a little brightness to the end of this story.  Although I left Moses Lake in 1997, I heard later on that Aaron's stepfather had later moved on and remarried and had a child with his new wife.  As I don't know the specifics, it's heartwarming to know that he had the strength to carry on again with his own journey through life. 

I try to keep my blog "upbeat and bright", but I felt I needed to share this with you today.

Wishing you peace,


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Some Old and Some New

Greetings my friends on a chilly Sunday afternoon.  It was a lovely, warm day today until a couple of hours ago and the cold weather from up North has made it to SoCal.  We're suppose to have freezing temps these next few nights!  I know, I shouldn't complain but it is unusual for most folks who live down here :)

There's so many things I want to share with you and write about.  But, sometimes I am at a loss for words.  My heart is heavy these past few days with yet another school shooting.  I admire those high school students who are now speaking up and I am with them all the way.  One day I will tell you the story about the school shooting that took place in our little town in Eastern Washington.  That will be for another time.

Besides babysitting my little grandchildren these past few days (morning, noon and night), I had a dinner party last week.  It's always enjoyable for me to plan the menu, set the table and all the other things that are needed.

This time I decided to use my Mom's Community Silverplate.  This flatware and chest have been around for as long as I can remember.  I think my Mom would have purchased it back in the early 1950's.  After my Mom passed away back in 1993, I kept this as a keepsake and didn't use it.  Until last weekend. . .

It so happened that I rediscovered this flatware through a dear blog friend I recently met via her blog.  Margaret has the same flatware and had written about it on her blog.  Of course I commented to say I have the same pattern!
It was so interesting to learn about the history of this flatware pattern.  The name of the pattern in the US is Coronation.  In the UK, it is known as Hampton Court.  Originally, it was designed and introduced back in 1936, in honor of Edward VIII becoming King of England.  Of course, as you know, he abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.  Hence, the name was changed for the UK market but stayed the same for the US.  When I set my table last weekend I found that I do have a complete service for 8 along with an extra  dinner fork along with 8 extra teaspoons.  So, I hurried over to Ebay where I found a matching knife and dessert fork so that my set can now serve 9.  Hopefully, one day I can pass this set onto my little granddaughter for the next generation. 

Now for the new, the bed is complete.  After the bed arrived, it was another two weeks for the mattress to arrive via Costco.  It worked out great as Costco's price and quality couldn't be matched at the places I checked out.

Lilly was quite pleased to check out the new blanket and gave her approval :)

Between watching the little ones, cooking and cleaning and the never ending paperwork, I started on my new sock pattern.  It's a fun easy pattern and I love the yarn.  However, I'm finding it's a bit hard to work in the evenings as the dark yarn against the dark needles can be trying.

Yesterday, my husband and I had a wonderful time with an impromptu dinner at the beach followed by grocery shopping at my favorite Persian market.  So, there's plenty of goodies to make some nice dishes for the upcoming week.  I'll sign off now since my homemade vegetable soup is ready to serve along with homemade corn muffins.  It's cold outside!

It's always a joy to hear from you.  Please feel free to say "hi" if you  wish.

Until next time,