Sunday, August 28, 2011

So, Friday night I had Kim over for dinner - felt like cooking from my new Blanchard's cookbook (Blanchards is a restaurant in the Caribbean ).  I made this awesome awesome pasta dish with all this fresh veggies and cheese.  Here's the recipe - you HAVE to try it and its actually pretty easy.

Fusilli With Spinach, Tomatoes and Mozzarella
1 LB fusilli pasta
3 TBS Olive Oil
2 Lg. yellow onions, chopped
1 14 oz. can whole plum tomatoes with their juice -- OR -- I used FRESH tomatos, I did about 4 or 5      whole vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1 LB spinach leaves, stems removed
3/4 cup chopped fresh basic
1/2 LB fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
 - I also added 2 chicken breasts in cubes although the recipe didn't call for it -
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the fusilli and cook until tender.  Dreain well and return to the pot ( I actually did this towards the end so the pasta was really hot)

While the fusilli is cooking, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cut them into smaller pieces with a spoon.  Simmer until heated through.

Once the fusilli is back in the pasta pot, turn the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, olives, spinach, chicken and basil and toss well.  As soon as the spinach leaves are slightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes, toss the mozzarella with the pasta and remove from the heat.  Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.

I also made this basil lemonade that I found on a blog that I follow....
DELICIOUS!  Have to use up all that basil I have in the garden so I also did caprese salad and bruschetta... BASIL BASIL BASIL --- YUM YUM YUM!

Kim and I ate and then we watched Valkyrie, with Kim leaving around 10ish as she had a morning appt in WI.

And then, because I'm crazy, Kim left and I was like - its Friday and its 10 - I'm not going to bed!  I'm making CUPCAKES!

I was going to do my faves again - the dark chocolate with the choc mint ganache and mint buttercream icing.  But then, I decided to go a little different.  I went summery...

I kind of took a recipe and then made it my own.


Preheat oven to 325F
Mix together in blender until white and fluffy - about 4 or 5 minutes
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar

Mix together in a separate bowl and set aside
3 cups CAKE flour (has to be so its lighter)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

After the butter and sugar are mixed until light and fluffy - add one at a time
5 large eggs

Slowly beat in
2 tsp vanilla
4 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons (zest the lemons and then squeeze them)

Add, alternating the liquid and dry ingredients
Sifted flour mixture
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 TBS sour cream

Put 2 spoonfuls of mix into muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes

1/2 cup strawberries - cut and pureed, about 8 TBS of strawberry puree
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
7 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat butter and salt until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to slow and add confectioners sugar.  Add vanilla and 3 TBS strawberry puree.

This is a doubled recipe for the frosting as the cupcake recipe actually will make about 24 - 26 cupcakes.  The frosting as it is in a recipe will only cover about 12 so the recipe I gave above is doubled so it will cover the 24+ cupcakes.


I was up until about 12:30 finishing these little yummies and boxing them and then I ended up texting my BFF who promptly called me and we were on the phone until almost 2 a.m.  Ah!  But, it was worth it!  Even though Saturday morning I had to get up to go to a Mission Committee meeting at church and then leave to meet up with someone to exchange some things.

I took the doggies in the car in the afternoon and brought some cucumbers (which are totally invading my garden and the yard) and some cupcakes, which had invaded the kitchen, over to my Uncle Raine and my cousin Debbie.  Calvin was happy to get in the car and feel the breeze in his hair :) 

Oh, here's an event that I didn't mention before.  On Wednesday night I picked up my sister's dog and brought her home with me around 9:30 at night.  I let both Cal and her out of the car and they jumped out and ran right into the woods, coming back about 4 minutes later foaming at the mouth and smelling like skunk.... EEEKKKK - I was SO SO SO mad!  Bailey definitely had the major spray and I think Cal was behind her, but they both got it in the face.  I spent until almost midnight trying to bathe them in - don't laugh - pasta sauce (its all I had) and other things.  The next day I ended up picking up some Skunk Be Gone or something like that from Petsmart and gave them their 3rd baths.  6 baths between the two of them - I was so exhausted and I can't even think of giving them another bath even though Bailey is lying next to me right now after a romp at the dog park in which she rolled around in stinky muddy water.  She can stink up the room but I'm not giving her another bath for a while....

The picture at the very top is what my Saturday evening was.  Kim and I met with Laurie and Kate (from my sailing adventure) for dinner.  Kate had us over to her place in Wauconda which is on Bangs Lake and we sat on her deck and enjoyed an awesome meal and watched the sun set.  It was so wonderful.  We stayed until about midnight just talking and laughing and I was so glad that Kim got to meet Kate and Laurie and that she loved them as much as I do.  

So, right now, its Sunday afternoon.  Sunday School, church, lunch with Kim, dogs to dog park, home to blog and now, as I close, I'm psyching myself up to make two batches of my Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes for a International Workers Outreach that is tomorrow night at church.  We'll be having about 30 Chinese student workers from Six Flags, plus people from some area churches who are coming to help out with dinner and then the movie.

So - I'm going to close and start zesting lemons and pureeing strawberries.... Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Liberate Your Art

While roaming around different blogs one day, I discovered a blog by a woman named Kat.  It was called Kat Eye View of the World and what attracted me to the site is that she was an American living in Italy.  That was just so intriguing to me and, as a group of my friends and I are planning a trip to Italy next year, I figured maybe I'd glean a few tidbits of advice as far as cool places to go while in the land of Pasta and Vino...

Kat is a photographer as well and so she posts intriguing photos almost everyday.  One of posts at the beginning of the summer was a little venture she embarked on called "Swap Your Art".  She asked people to sign up for an art swap.  We had a date that we had to have our art in by and then we sent 5 postcards with our "art" (whatever mode it may be) along with labels with our address on it and postcard stamps.  Then, Kreative Kat :) had this imaginative way in which she swapped all of the postcards and sent us 5 different cards back to us.  It was just so cool as I not only got to see different art, but I was also able to connect with some new friends through their art, some in country and some out of country.

Here are the cards I got ....

 This card was the first one I got.  I received it right before I went on my sailing adventure and I used it as a bookmark while traveling, so everytime I broke out my book on Russian books and the psychotic people who love them, I got to be refreshed by this amazing bright pink flower - I love the shading in the back of the photo so you're totally concentrating on that front big flower.  It was done by Claudia who has a bunch of her work posted at  She has tons of beautiful nature photos posted - theres a garden in Utah where she lives that looks exactly like something you'd see in England - its just so peaceful.  Thanks Claudia!!!!!

 This is a totally cool, one of a kind card, made by hand.  You can feel the texture and see the vivid colors.  The painting is called "You Are Wonderful".  It was created by Tia whose website is  I really love this card - its just so original!  Thanks Tia!

 Here's another hand done original....  Again, you can feel the texture and then you really examine the painting and you see so many little intriguing nuances.  Can you tell that its in a different language :)  Its by TJ at   TJ is an American who has just moved to Germany and is creating more art in her community there.  Great stuff and interesting to see her life changing as she posts.  Thanks TJ!

Here's a photo called "No Ride For Me" by Kris.  I love the lighting....

This one is from Lorraine at Paperbird.  Her blog is  

And last but not least, Kat herself sent us all a little thank you for participating in the Art Swap.  One of her amazing pictures from around the world.  I feel like I'm in Italy just looking at it.  What a sweet little Vespa - I wish we could ride them in Chicagoland - somehow, spinning those little wheels through 15 inches of icy snow somehow just probably won't work.  But I can still dream, can't I?  Thank you so much Kat for such an awesome idea and for some great new connections to blogs that spur my artistic-wanna-be!  Here's Kat's creative and continually changing blog!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What To Do On THAT Birthday....

Yes - its that time of life!  I'm sitting here letting you know that I am mourning the loss of my 30s.  I've tried to lie and deny and deceive myself into believing that its not really happening, but I can only go so far and then I'm faced with an adorable picture of my friends' kids spelling out what my fate is.... 40 

I've had a lot of love and support today.... Thanks to Karlene, Kim, Kristine, Debbie, Jayne, Pr Farish, Brian, Kevin, Anson, Wendy, Pat, Cindy and so many others who have sent me cards, texts or called.  I spent about 3 hours of Karlene's phone call just catching up on life - that was a really nice birthday gift.

I have used this day to wisely avoid the obvious by not drawing too much light on this momentous occasion.  I ran 6 miles this morning and was going to do a 7th just to prove I'm better now than I was on my 30th, and then I just got really blazing hot.  But, since I had put that thought in my mind, I couldn't let it go so - to prove that I'm not old and decrepit, I'm going to head out for another 6 mile run in a few minutes.  Old people can't run 12 miles in one day, right?  I keep on telling myself that so, if you think differently, please do not inform me of this.  Let me live in blind bliss on this the day of my birth...

Saturday, August 20, 2011


So - I have to share something else quickly...

I had bought this new dress for the wedding.  I got it last weekend.  When I found my size, it fit perfectly but it was a wee bit short - like about and inch and a half above my knees - too short for a soon to be -- 38 year old :)

SO - I did all my running around and then didn't get time until Tuesday morning to drop my dress off at the  dry cleaners to have the hem TAKEN DOWN.  So, I left the little hispanic lady with two pieces of information -- "take the hem down as far as it can go" -- "I need dress back by Thursday-HAS to be Thursday".  She said "OK".

I went out of town.

Mom went to pick my dress up for me on Thursday and they looked at her and said "what?" and then, as mom will, she demanded that it would be done and he said that they would make sure that it was back and they would stay open until they were able to get the dress back that night.  They did it - called me at 7:30 and then I picked up my dress which still had the chalk marks on the bottom as they hadn't had time to steam it.

Today - I'm rushing trying to get ready for the wedding (I actually ended up coming up to Aunt June's room as we were trying to facetime the wedding - didn't work out).  I go to put my dress on and I'm like "WHAT!"  They had take the hem UP!  So - instead of just being a little sleazy, I suddenly turned in super hooker!  I mean, that hem was up to my thighs (actually higher, but I don't want to go there).

Therefore, I am now on the "learn to speak English" bandwagon!  Hem DOWN -- Not UP!

It turned out ok that I didn't go to the wedding as I had to go with an alternate outfit that was not quite wedding appropriate - I'll tag over to the reception and get some free food in my "reception wear".

In the meantime - make sure to give your dry cleaner enough time to adjust a hem and also make sure to use very extreme hand signals to indicate UP or DOWN.....

Slow Torture

I'm sitting in a nail salon in Greenville waiting to get my eyebrows done because I didn't have time to do it before I left home. We've got my cousins sons wedding in about 5 hours. The salon I'm sitting in said they could do my brows and then plopped me down in front of a tv to wait. It's been a long time - it's been a painful long time... The video they have playing on the tv is the Best of Yanni. Do you all know who Yanni is? Do you all realize how stupid Yanni is? (sorry Yanni and Yanni lovers...). This is akin to Chinese water torture - hmm, the people who sat me down here are Chinese... Could I be on to something?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What $25 And A Really Mean Woman Can Get You

IMG 3412
Its been a busy few days. I've been airport runner-extraordinaire, friend, Soap-Lady (as I'm know in my business) and dog-walker among other things. Sonya, one of my friends who used to be in youth group when I was a youth leader, is now in CO, but had a wedding to attend in the area and, since her family had moved, she had asked me to pick her up last Friday evening and then I had to pick her up again from the wedding on Saturday in order to have her stay at my house so that I could bring her to the airport early early Sunday morning. It was fun to see her even though it wasn't for long enough.

Then, Sunday night, my friend Seiko, from Japan came back to Chicago so that she could start her second semester of her masters at Moody. I picked her up from the airport around midnight and she stayed a few days with us until she could get into her apartment in Chicago.

You all know how my Monday went - needed a little mid-day mojito....

Calvin had the pleasure of having his mama home everyday to take him walking so, even though it was hot, he was a happy boy.

IMG 1997

And then on Wednesday, I had to get back down Northwestern for work, finished up early and, because it had been playing around in my head for a while, I took the opportunity to squeeze into a class at Bikram in the City -- AH! My beloved Bikram - how I have missed you!

I seriously was just thinking about it on Tuesday, hoping that I could finish up early enough to get into a class, dreaming in my head of that amazing feeling - going over the routine my head - and then eagerly packing my yoga bag in the off-chance that I could catch a class. And I did! Yea! I think one of the best things that I ever bought (besides my Blahnik shoes) was my little skid resistant yoga towel! I think I got it in Dallas or Memphis or one of those studios. I had done a few classes and always got mad at the plain old towel I would use because, with all the sweat, it would just skid around and then bunch up under my feet or my back and would make me break a pose because I could stand or lay straight. Drove me crazy.

Then, one studio, I saw these great towels that had all these little plastic dots on the back so it wouldn't skid - I bit - I paid $25 and I haven't looked back (as I've said with my Blahniks!) Its just the best yoga towel ever and it lays straight and I can do every pose with no interference and it rolls up nice in the beginning and end. Yea for $25!

I was TOTALLY on yesterday in class! I don't think I've ever had such a good class. Maybe distance makes the body more limber or something. My stretches were right on, my balance was almost perfect - while everyone else would hold a pose for a few seconds and then fall out, I was there, the model student of bikram. I kept on thinking "don't get too proud of yourself because you'll end up totally stinking" but I pushed through. I felt every stretch fully and today I can really feel it in my thighs and glutes. Love that feeling.

In case you don't remember, Bikram is a 90 minute class and its in a room thats around 105 degrees and the humidity is like 70% or something like that - its HOT! Its like hades hot - thats why that non-slip towel is a must. Yesterday, it was fairly warm outside so the classroom was a little hotter than usual and probably midway through I started having to lecture myself to just breathe. It was a first, but there was a girl who actually ran crying from the classroom and I thought "poor newbie".... Thats really a no no. They'll tell you that if you feel like you can't make it, that you should just got to the ground and lie flat to let your blood circulate. It you run out of the heat quickly, it can actually be more harmful. So, probably after about 15 minutes, the girl started lying down and making these soft noises and then after close to an hour and a lot of lecturing from the teacher about how she should be lying, she ran out with the teacher saying "don't leave the classroom!" But she was gone. This was actually a really nice teacher. Some of the Bikram teachers can be pretty mean. I know I have a friend who goes to classes in Evanston and she says they're basically Yoga Nazis there. They won't let you wipe the sweat off your face or anything. Chicago is pretty good. I don't feel really pressured by them, just strongly encouraged! :)

Anyways - $25 and a woman who pushes you to bend and sweat - I'm a more flexible and patient person...

Namastay :)

Lucky In Ohio

I'm in Cleveland area for work for the day.  I took an early flight in and had a little time to kill before I headed to my account in Salem.  SO......  I went to my favorite Cleveland spot -- LUCKYS!  I've featured it on my blog before and I got Pat and Randy to try it when they came out this way a few weeks ago -- they can testify -- I did not lie about how great it is!

I was going to try something different today, but I ended up back with the biscuits and gravy.  I'm adventurous, but sometimes, you tastebuds just demand something really great that they've had before, you know!

The last time I was here was earlier spring and so they didn't have the outdoors really going yet, but the whole gimmick (or whatever you want to call it) of Luckys is that everything is local and so in the summer, they have this garden that they use the veggies from in featured dishes.  Its kind of cool because its in this neighborhood in the city, but they have this little yard area with this garden.  

Hopefully it will be a quick day for me as there is one specific goal I had in coming out.  I think I should be able to get it done and maybe even on an early flight home.  We'll see!  But in the meantime, I feel lucky that I got to stop at LUCKYS!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Mojitos

Its Monday.  I'm sitting in a conference call meeting with some big talkers - one just drones and drones and doesn't stop.

I was informed when I came in at 8:30 this morning that I needed to have a presentation ready for an 11 a.m. meeting (that had been scheduled since a month ago) - after which we promptly walked into another tedious meeting that lasted until 10:30.  I was reminded by "someone" as he walked into a meeting at 10:30 that I needed to have my presentation by the 11 a.m. meeting.  Seriously - why do people not think ahead!  I hate hate hate having things put on me last minute when its just someone else's lack of preparation.  I just finished my presentation and now I continue to doze while Mr TX continues to talk on the conference call.   I suppose its life...

But sometimes, you just need a Monday Mojito....

Enjoy a recipe that I've found as I browsed around blogs whittling time away in this long long Monday meeting....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What $100 And Good Genetics Can Do For Your Ego

Yesterday, I had an "eek" Welcome Back meeting at the office. It wasn't really a formal welcome back, but it was a mental welcome back for me. It was one of those mundane, but intense meetings that drone on and on and seem pointless after a while. I had part of the presentation and it was frustrating to me as I had a whole slew of slides that walked through everything that needed to be known for training, but I started the first slide and then it led to an onslaught of questions that I finally had to comment that if I would be allowed to proceed to the next slide, the questions would be answered in a viable succession and would lead to a better understanding of the topic. I said it in a pretty nice way, I think - no one cried or gave me dirty looks so, I'm pretty proud of myself that I didn't snap :) Its my pet peeve when people don't let you get through your presentation AND THEN ask you questions.

Anyways - the meeting was in our office but it was for one of our customers and so they came in to us. As such, I felt the need to dress up a tad more than my capris or Athleta-wear. However, as I wear pants (or as my dad used to call them, overalls :)) all the time, I opted for one of my less used skirts.

So, you know how sometimes you buy one thing that you use the heck out of or that is just one of those things that makes you feel good and thing - the money I spent was well worth it! I have a couple of pieces in my closet that are like that. I pick it up because it makes me feel good, maybe its on sale, maybe its not. I have to admit that most of the "not on sale" piece turn out to be the ones that I wear and wear and go with anything and are complimented all the time.

So is the case with my Thursday meeting shoes. I buy a lot of clothes that tend to go in my once a year closet and don't get brought out again so I'll bring them over to the Upscale Resale shop in Libertyville to get rid of them. While they're going through what they want to take, I'll usually browse around the shop, never really buying anything as I admit I have a little issue with wearing clothes that someone else that I don't know has worn. I've only ever bought a couple of pieces from a resale shop. Three to be exact. It has to be an amazing label and a great price. One piece was a black leather jacket that felt like silk and was brand new - I got it in a resale shop in Manhattan for like $125 and it was a brand name that I can't remember but was a really good deal.

Upscale Resale is in Libertyville and because its Libertyville, a lot of times, they'll get some really good Kate Spade purses in that I'll zero in on. So my one ultimate buy was what I coupled with my skirt on Thursday. I was in Upscale one time, browsing around when my radar honed in on a pair of almost new Manolo Blahnik shoes - MY SIZE - FOR $100! I mean, seriously! Manolos are usually about $500- $1000 and here they were, bottoms hardly worn, beautiful heels not dented, calling my name for $100! I snatched those babies up and haven't looked back since!

Here's the thing that has amazed me. I've brought some pretty great shoes in my time. I have ones that I've just died over and I have gotten compliments on them a few times. However, EVERY time --- EVERY TIME -- I wear my Manolos I have people bee-lining to me and saying in awe "those shoes are amazing!" Which, to me, it really does prove that you buy a good pair of shoes and its evident. I think there is a difference between a $50 pair and a (in my case $100) $500 pair. Not that I'm advocating that we all run out and throw our $50 shoes to buy $500 shoes - I'm just saying, I think the difference really is there.

Anyways, yesterday was no exception. However, the twist was yesterday - the attention was focussed on my legs. Or should I say, what I think, are my family's legs -- Askew that is. From what has been told and what I've seen, Grandpa Askew had great legs and so did Uncle Don. I think, like I got those shoes from someone else, my legs came from, well, definitely God, but also my family. Right from the beginning of the day I had people at work following me asking me what I did to my legs. Then I would come out from the conference room and people would say, come here Alison, folllowed by a "darn, they were right - your legs are hot!" They were all convinced that I had done something and wouldn't believe when I said that I had the same legs, it was the shoes. Like, what could I have done to my legs - I had just worn a skirt the day before, but with flats and no one said a thing. Crazy people.

I went home to find a picture of Uncle Don or Grandpa with their legs exposed and couldn't locate one to prove my point. Admittedly, I do think that running helps shape them, but I have good genetics to begin with. And then there are the magic shoes... :) They are the best ego boost that I've ever bought for $100 - I need to wear them more often! I even had my CEO tell me "you did a great job in the presentation!" even after I had told him and the customer to be quiet and let me finish my presentation - I owe that to my Manolos because my CEO doesn't usually tell me "great job".

 My Manolos are amazing magic shoes and I never regret the $100 that I spent on those wonderful little yummies!  SO - my lesson learned here is, sometimes, its worth it to splurge a little if you're buying something quality and if it gives you a little boost -- SOMETIMES.  Please don't look for regular Manolo Blahnik purchases in my future...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Crew In Review


Although Gaye was not the Captain of the boat, I'm starting with her for a reason. If we were the cast of Gilligan's Island, I'm not sure who all we would be, but Gaye would definitely be "Little Buddy". She's not "little" (but she's not big, she's just bigger than little :)), she's not crazy or idiotic, I don't think she ever "cooked up a scheme" or did anything Gilligan-ish, but I think I can say Jane, the captain, depended on Gaye like the Skipper depended on Gilligan. They have a special relationship that only two really good friends can have and I understand that because of my relationship with my best friend. Gaye is one of those people that you are just drawn to. She's not overly talky, but she's a great conversationalist. She definitely cares about you when she talks to you. She asks great questions and listens and really has a heart to get to know you. She's the kind of person that you just want to see her happy and you respect her without her even doing anything. You know those people that just radiate calm and peace - thats Gaye. She's got such a wonderful heart and she wants to see people truly happy from their hearts. She's godly and has a depth to know God and to help others achieve a sense of knowing God. She doesn't push, she doesn't pull, she just - is. She can coax the best out of you without any of the aforementioned. She was a super teacher, patient and willing to step back and let us do the anchor and make knots and pull the sail - but she was there if we needed her. She was a super snorkle guide - you can see this passion for the ocean and for all God put in it when she puts her fins and mask on - she's at peace in the water and has gotten to know it inside and out. 

The reason I put her first is because I have a PRAYER REQUEST for my blogger friends.... The last evening, Saturday, on the boat, we were sitting out on the bow like we did every evening, just talking and focussing on our day and on God. It was one of those quiet moments and Gaye shared a big piece of her heart with us. 

Three weeks before she came on the trip, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was on her way back after the trip, on Wednesday, to have a biopsy done. You can tell she's aching, but she's not frenzied or outside of her mind. She has a total peace that God will care for her and her family. She came on the trip to take time away from the diagnosis and to basically "forget" about it for a few days. She hadn't told us at the beginning as she didn't want to overwhelm us or ruin our trip. Thats just Gaye. She's more concerned with others than with herself and thats where she's at her best. Please please pray for Gaye as she comes home and moves the process of what needs to be done. Pray for comfort and peace for her family and her. Pray for good doctors and even healing.  I guess my big prayer for her is that God would make her an even better person tomorrow than she is today - that her confidence of "I'll be fine" will be founded and that her kids will see and know that she's fine no matter what the outcome.

  IMG 6697 

Jane - our "Skipper", or as the BVI calls her on our permission to sail - our Captain. Wow! I admire Jane so much. She knows the boat inside out and has sailed forever. She could handle a boat all by herself. She has everything under control. I know her peace comes from, not only sailing experience, but God experience and knowing that he's in control. She has a amazing solid faith and has been through some pretty intense life storms but has kept her calm and peace. She's a great teacher as well and is quickly willing to give up her helm and sails to complete novices who just want to learn. Her reputation has preceded her through my friend Kim. Kim has so much respect and love for Jane, it carried over to me before I even met her. She exudes peace and calm.  She's so knowledgable about the water and all the creatures underneath and just desires to share that passion with others.


This was my bunkmate. We had some great late evening chats. Donna has had some pretty amazing experiences in her life. She's been at the top of some pretty big companies, including Quaker, and is a smart (excuse the pun) cookie when it comes to business - you can just tell that. I admire her determination and creativity and I think she would be an awesome mentor. She's taken a little course change with her work and has just finished a physical trainer program and is now doing training and teaching all kinds of classes including boot camp and spin among many others. How gutsy to change your course of life so completely after the experiences she's had. She's my kindred spirit with the travel bug... She and her husband do walking excusions and they've been to New Zealand and Machu Pichu and many other places just hiking. They bike all the time and she gave me so many great trail ideas around us (thanks Donna!). She's never sailed but wanted to learn and add it to her list of activities and now she's got a bug as well. She's sounds like a great grandma and spends time with her grandkids just trying to help them think through life and learn through life. She gives her time back to things that have affected her through charity work. Donna is someone to learn from and admire!


What can I say about Laurie - she was a true joy to get to know! She's got this spirit that floats like a bubble on the top of the water. She's always got a sincere, heart smile on her face, I don't think I ever saw her without. She's weathered the storms as she's just recovered from two bouts of breast cancer as well (so this was a great match for Gaye this week - I think it was so providential of God to have her sign up at the beginning of the year and then have Gaye find her news out) and she's still on the positive side. She's got this confidence that only comes when you've thrown everything into the air and said what comes down is what I am. Talk about fun! She's always got something up her proverbial sleeve and she was like the energizer bunny that someone pulled the string on. She found her new passion in snorkeling and was in the water all the time. You can tell her heart is just joy and to bring joy to all around her!


I have found me... :) Kate is me, but just a lot better. She's tons more bubbly and nice than I am - but maybe that because Laurie, her BFF, has brought out the best in her. They were always saying that you wanted your friends to be someone who would help make you the best version of yourself. All I can say is, kudos, Laurie - I think Kate was probably a lot better than me to begin with, but a good Laurie never hurt anyone! :) Kate has quite the interesting life and is starting her own business as of about 3 years ago. She works with writing grants and training and stuff for law enforcement agencies and other public services. I think I summed it up. She's licensed in ploygraph and mediation and pretty cool stuff that helps catch the bad guys. She's from NY and she was an interrogator, but, if you've even seen The Closer, she's probably like that - you see this really sweet person and you don't expect that "ROAR" thats actually inside. I love it! If you're interested in taking a peak - here's her website that she's still working on.


Helen has an amazing servant's heart. She gives and gives and then gives some more. She's one of those background givers to where you don't even know she's given until after its done (thanks for covering my galley shifts for me, Helen :)) She's a masseuse by trade and she's passionate about her work. She would always go around giving massages, but not little 2 minutes ones, but ones that lasted a long time and really worked on areas that people needed work on. We never really asked her, she just did it because that was what was in her heart. She's extremely outgoing and can make friends with anyone, but in a full way that really makes someone feel like she cares about them.


This one has got hootspa (how dow you spell that?). She went back several years ago and got her nursing degree - I know I've looked at going for nursing school but have been overwhelmed with the task, so I know that it really takes a lot to totally reinvent yourself in this way. You can tell she's a great nurse as she's pretty calm, even personality. Always happy and perky, even when she's maybe battling motion sickness or not really into getting into the water to go snorkeling. She does it anyways. That was pretty impressive as well that, even though she was battling motion sickness at first, she pitched right in and did her fair share - she found the things she could do to contribute and she did them well. She was always making sure that we had what we needed and would never complain or say anything if you were in the water and wanted your shampoo (or anything else) and asked her to run for it. She was just the best team player! 


I kind of know Alison better than all the other crew member so I'll try not to be too hard on her. The long and short - Alison needs to be on a deserted island hugging palm trees WAY more than once a year. Maybe it should be a mental palm tree hug thing as thats where it all starts - in her head. 

I know I've always known a lot about her, but I think I solidified my discoveries much more on this trip as there's no place to go on a boat.  Alison actually had to stay in one place which was very hard for her.  Hence, the conclusion I've drawn is Alison is way way too intense in her head - she thinks way too much and then overthinks what she's thought until thinking is just one big blur. She's always in a hurry even when there's nothing to be hurrying for (have you ever seen her walk? Its like she's on a mission. EVERYTHING is a mission with her when it comes to getting there). She passes little old ladies just because they walk too slow and if you've ever gone to the airport with her - watch it, those carry on suitcases can run you over pretty good. 

And then the other thing that goes on in her mind is, well, its Alison. She thinks a little too much about herself - whether its good or bad, there's always something going on her head that concerns herself. I think thats my biggest problem with Alison. 

But, there is a little good, and only God can claim that good, because as you've read from the above, Alison's bad qualities kind of overtake a lot of her head space.  The other reason I know God can only take the good is because after Alison has done the good, she usually sits back and thinks "where did that come from?", and she says it with honest bewilderment.  

I think God has given me (can I stop referring to myself in 3rd person now?) a heart for people in need and those who are hurting. Goodness, I can't even watch movies where people are being hurt or whatever without just wanting to cry - I feel it pretty deep. I know God has given me a pretty loyal streak as well - if you're my friend or in my family, I'd probably take a bullet for you (in fact, I've taken some pretty bad emotional "bullets" from friends in the past). And I do love making new friends. Maybe thats why I'm not on Facebook too, because I love to see the faces and really get to know people from the heart - I so value all the friends that I've made literally all across the world and different things I've gotten involved in here at home that have brought new people into my life. 

Case in point - SoulSail! What great new friends God has brought into my life and I see some of them sticking around for a long time so - thank you God! It wasn't one of those lie on the beach relaxing vacations, but I think I just really got so much out of the people that I met that I came home feeling ready to go again and feeling like there are things that I'd like to give God the liberty to start working on.  To quote Laurie and Kate "friends are people who make you a better version of yourself!"

 Thanks crew for a great vacation 
and for sharing your lives with me!!!!! DSCN4981

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday - Debbie Downer Says "This Is Our Last Day...." :(

 Saturday :(  Our very own Debbie Downer (aka Laurie) had pointed out a few days before that our trip was almost done, so by my reason of deduction, I concluded that Saturday would mean that it was the last day of our trip - ergo, I became the Debbie Downer of the trip in my own head.  Sad.

The picture above was our Friday night stay - pulling out in the morning.

The picture below was our Saturday morning excursion which we tried to hit early as its another hot-spot.  Its called The Indians.  Its this group of rock formations kind of off by themselves.  We got to the spot and pulled up to a buoy, had breakfast and then geared up and dived in to snorkle The Indians.  There was a soft coral area around the base and we even saw a group of scuba divers down below us.

We took off around 11 and then we went to our next point, Peter's Island.  Here is Laurie helping with the anchor.  We have to find a sandy spot and then kind of signal the boat "driver" to where the area is that we want to anchor.  Then, once we drop the anchor, we put out it by about 25 feet at a time and then let it kind of settle and signal which way the chain is dropping.  Very interesting stuff.

We ate lunch and once again geared up to snorkle around the reef area of Peters Island.  We also were able to come into the shore and hike around a little.

All along the rocky shore area, there were lines of rocks that people who had visited had left.  We of course added our contribution.

The monkeys of Peter Island :)


 The rock skippers are at it again!  Kate and her great arm and Jane and her main swing.
 Sunset over Peter Island.

Friday - A Morning Snorkle at Sandy Spit


 We had anchored for the night at Sandy Spit which is across from Tortolla. Its this litte tiny island thats just in the middle of the ocean. Its beautiful. Waking up with the sunshine and the going to the front of the boat to do morning yoga with the wind blowing and the sun just grazing the sky. From all the snorkeling, some of us had gotten some blisters and so we equipped our feet with moleskin in hopes of combatting further blistering.


 Slapping on the fins, most of the group took off in the water to visit the small beach and explore.


 Late morning, we pulled up the anchor and headed out for Norman Island which was about a 3-4 hour sail away. It was our first day tacking which meant that we would go up one way and grab wind and then have to turn the boat and flip the sails to catch wind the other way - we did this about four or five times. It was peaceful just laying on the trampoline, talking and watching the sails blow.


 Pulling into Norman Island, we were about the second boat in this little cove area that ended up with four boats by the end of the evening. It was a peaceful cove area where you could hear the waves lapping up against the rocks. We once again took out the snorkle gear and jumped into the water to explore the shoreline. We saw a ton of conch shells and what was even funnier is that several of them were being invaded by crabs in other conch shells that were just looking for new homes so we saw the crabs trying to crawl into the empty shells. One of them I wrestled the crab underwater for and came up with a nice pink shell that I plan to take home. Kate and I made dinner so we swam back, "showered" off and then made turkey chili while Laurie made our rum drinks and Jane split open the coconut that we had gotten off the tree on Salt Island one of the first days.


 We finished drinks and dinner up and saw the sun setting in the distance - way over the other islands - such a peaceful scene....


 And then we finished the night off with more chatting and even end of the day massages from Helen.


Goodnight moon! Goodbye Friday :(