Blogger Bouquet #44

I’ve been visiting Elisa Ruland’s beautiful travel blog for a few years now, and I am always amazed by her breathtaking photography, her enjoyable narratives and her knowledge of historical destinations. Love her tagline too: “All you need is love…and travel.”

From Elisa’s About page:

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend from Atlanta, Georgia, doing my best to live in the moment. A passionate Francophil, I love to travel, I adore the ocean and am weirdly fascinated by maps. I’ve been told many times that I walk too fast.”

I chose to highlight this recent post of hers because of the photos, the info, and because I just might visit there next year, if all goes well.

Day Trip to Canterbury

Comments are closed here but you can leave a comment on the blogger’s page.

Have an inspiring weekend, everyone!

Guest Post: EuroTrip Planner – When to Go and What to See

With my eye on a trip to England next year, I am sharing a guest post by lifestyle blogger, Marie Nieves, who gives some practical advice on planning a European adventure.

I am also welcoming other guest posts on the topic, primarily about travel to the United Kingdom and nearby countries. Please send your guest post ideas to:

Take it away, Marie!

EuroTrip Planner: When to Go and What to See

 Europe, Source

Having a tour through Europe is always a great idea. However, if you would like to explore Europe, there are a number of things to consider beforehand. First of all, you should know that regardless of how long your trip lasts, it will not be enough to see everything you want. What you need is to make a plan of your trip in a way that you can make the most of the time you have. Doing this is often difficult as you need to be realistic, but at the same time trying to meet all the expectations regarding the trip. I’m here to help you do that!


There are three main traveling seasons in Europe. They are called high, low and shoulder seasons. The first one is from June until August, the second one is November to April, and the Shoulder seasons are April to June, and September to November. Choose the season depending on your preferences since it will have a major effect on your trip. If you can stand the heat, the high season is great for you. However, if you prefer traveling when temperatures are lower, some other seasons may work better in your case.


Since you’ll be visiting many countries, and therefore changing locations frequently, I advise you not to bring a lot of luggage. This may or may not be possible depending on how long you’re staying, but try to bring only your essentials. You need money, passport, phone, camera and something to wear. Don’t stock up on anything since you’ll be able to buy things along the way.

Metro, Source


This can be tricky. Perhaps you can choose a country which will be your base and then have excursions from there. For example, you can choose England as a base. If you’d like to stay in a hotel, Tavistock House has great reviews. You can also choose the Oceanic Hotel in Falmouth or the Grasmere Hotel. On the other hand, if you prefer to save a few bucks, there are great offers for shared accommodation in England. One suggestion would be to book a hotel at your primary location in advance and find accommodation for your excursions on the go. Keep track of offers before and during your trip to get the best price for a stay in other countries, as well as to keep your routing options open.


Depending on how you structure your trip, you will set the time for exploring England and other countries. It’s all about maximizing your performance during the time given. That is why enticing canal cruises in England are a convenient way to see several different cities such as London, Reading, Windsor and Oxford.  You will surely enjoy cruising along the River Thames and admiring the scenery you pass by. As far as other countries are concerned, the good thing is that it’s really easy to travel by plane from England to any European country. The connections are excellent, so you can go anywhere you want.

River Thames, Source

If this is your first trip to Europe, I recommend sticking with just a few countries. For instance, visit France, Italy and Germany from England. See the capitals and all the main places in these countries. Try the local cuisine, walk down the streets and breathe the air and atmosphere of each city you visit. Give yourself enough time to really experience every country. It’s better to stick with just a few of them rather than try to visit as many as possible and end up confused and exhausted. European trips should be done this way, in stages. Every time you visit, you’ll have a completely different experience!

About the author

Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels, she likes to read poetry and prose and to surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag. Most of her free time at home she spends walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Not-So-Obvious Reasons Why Italy Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

Ah, wanderlust. I’m experiencing you again.

My husband and I are beginning to yearn for a return trip to Europe. We are planning on seeing England sometime in the future, but we still get a warm and fuzzy feeling when we look back on our trip to Italy.








We all know that food is one of the main draws to Italy. After all, it’s undeniable that their pizzas and pastas are the best in the world, and we feasted on both often, during our travels there.

Many people visit the country to experience the renowned cuisine, and crowds upon crowds of tourists frequent the popular cities of Venice and Rome.

But there is more to Italy than these things. Here are some not-so-obvious reasons why Italy should be your next travel destination.

Wonderful Festivals

One thing I hadn’t known when we visited is that Italy knows how to put on a good festival. If we ever return – and I hope we do – we won’t forget to sample a few. In the summer months, there are many outdoor festivals, full of music for locals and visitors to enjoy. One festival you won’t want to miss is the Carpino Folk Festival. It’s the biggest folk festival in the country and is fantastic if you want to listen to some haunting melodies. You can find out more about this festival in this article.

Amazing Craft Shops

Shopping is one of the biggest draws to Italy. The clothes are fantastic, and you wouldn’t want to leave without visiting some of the designer stores. But as well as clothes, there are some fabulous craft shops. You’ll find many towns across the country with stores selling all the craft items you could possibly need. One place to go to is the Palazzo Pitti. As this feature explains, you can find some great artisan shops here, selling ceramics and leather. You’ll be going home with a full suitcase of fabulous finds if you head to beautiful Italy. All you need is the money!


The Beautiful Countryside in Tuscany

The views are one of the best things about Italy. Places in Italy like the Amalfi Coast are some of the most stunning in the world. If you head to Tuscany, you’ll see the gorgeous countryside, full of vineyards and olive groves that are breathtaking. The Apennine Mountains are a sight to behold. I recommend you find somewhere to stay in the heart of the Tuscany countryside to have an unforgettable Italian holiday.

We stayed in a lovely villa for an entire week while we were in Tuscany, and took day trips to Florence and Siena. Next time, we have to remember to book a trip to a winery for something a little different.


Beautiful churches

Even if you are not religious, the churches in Italy are worth taking in. For one thing, they are absolutely beautiful treasures of architecture. They were a highlight of our trip and something I will never forget. Just make sure you cover up out of respect when you visit the churches, or you won’t be allowed in. 🙂


As well as all this, the country has some of the nicest people in the world. My husband and I would go back in a heartbeat!

Have you ever travelled to Italy?
Do you have any not-so-obvious reasons to add it as a destination?

Fun, Sun, Sand and Smiles

After nine days, the children have gone home.

Our house yawns astonishingly quiet and empty. The beaches here on Sandy-Feet Avenue and Perry’s Point look abandoned, lonely and forlorn; bereft of the three little beach bums that ran across them countless times a day.

A myriad of reminders surround me: empty sand pails, tiny mementos in the form of sea glass and shells from the beach, our grandson’s toy army tank left behind, a day pass from Windmill Bight Park, a box of our granddaughter’s favourite crackers in the cupboard, a candy wrapper under the bed. There is even a folder of GoPro videos they made saved on my PC desktop.

And I’m amazed at how much longer it takes for the dishwasher and the washing machine to fill up in their absence.

We miss our two grandchildren – plus one little friend – but we had an incredible time together filled with sweet summer memories and photos to look back on.

And there is always next year, God willing!

Here are a few captures from last week.

FullSizeRender (6)
Searching for starfish, hermit crabs and other treasures
“Wanna go clam-digging again?”

FullSizeRender (10)

FullSizeRender (9)

FullSizeRender (8)

FullSizeRender (5)

FullSizeRender (11)
The weather was beautiful nearly every day!

FullSizeRender (12)

Our girl having fun at the nearby playground
FullSizeRender (1)

FullSizeRender (3)

FullSizeRender (4)
Waiting to dine on ‘Surf ‘n Turf’ at the local restaurant*

During one of these lazy afternoons, our girl decided she wanted to write a story. So while her friend and our boy continued playing on the beach, she sat down nearby with a pad of lined paper and a pencil. When I asked her what her story was about, she said with a shy grin, “Cats.”

I guess the (grand)apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

FullSizeRender (1)

*All photos taken with iPhone 6

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fun

Mini-Me and Murphy’s Law

What does a true-blue introvert do when her debut novel is coming out the next day?

Why, she flees the country, of course!

Yep. On Wednesday, hubs and I will fly away to a warmer, sunnier clime for a little rest and recreation. Truth is, this long-overdue vacation with family has been planned since early last fall, when I didn’t know the Calmer Girls release date yet.

Murphy’s Law took over then, making sure that out of the fifty-two weeks in a year, the release had to take place during the same week I’m missing in action, on the day after I get there!

Oh well, there isn’t a thing to do about it, only keep abreast of the event via the “interwebs” and if necessary, emails and phone calls. Smart phones are wonderful things, aren’t they? I won’t be able to take a complete holiday from technology like I usually do when I go down south, but I suppose that’s the trade-off (and a cool and understandable one at that) when one has a novel published.

There will be plenty of time to work on marketing when we return. At that time I’ll look into hosting a giveaway, and as the weather improves, there will be a book-signing to plan. It’s all good.

On another note, I’m sharing a childhood picture today. 

Already a hardcore bookworm at 11 yrs. old
Already a hardcore bookworm at 11 yrs. old

Yes, I know it’s only a Charlie Brown Peanuts book but (besides the fact that I consider Charles M. Schulz brilliant) it was still a book to bury my nose in so I wouldn’t have to socialize at an extended family gathering. So shy and introverted, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at my aunt, the photographer. Not much has changed; I still prefer to be on the other side of the camera. 🙂

If you knew my granddaughter, you would not believe the resemblance.

  ~ Hey! I just realized what my long-lost natural hair colour was! ~

See you all again when I get back. In the meantime, please check out my new Author home page, and if you are so inclined, like me on my new Author Facebook page.

Thanks, and have a great week!

A Cup of (Extra)Ordinary

Nothing gets me out of bed in the morning quicker than the expectation of savoring rich, delicious coffee.

At least two big, fragrant, caffeine-infused cups are an essential part of my routine and a necessity to get my brain working. Later in the day, however, my beverage of choice is tea, usually of the green variety.

IMG_0182 (800x533)

I know; big deal, right? Why am I blogging about something so ordinary?

Because sometimes, something as simple and mundane as your cup of tea or coffee can be elevated to (extra)ordinarydepending on where you are, who bought it or brewed it for you, or who may be around to share the experience.


Sometimes a cup of tea is made extra special when it comes to you as a gift – a pretty mug and coaster in your favourite colour, along with your first infuser, and a yummy variety of loose tea flavours from DAVIDsTEA. (Thank you, Daughter. 🙂 )

mothersday 015
Forever Nuts is my new favourite from there. How fitting. 😉


Other times, a cup of coffee can be special when you get to enjoy it in a new locale.
Like the Caribbean!
And that is whether you drink it inside where it’s cool…

cuba 159

…or outdoors in the incredible, tropical  heat.


Morning coffee tastes particularly wonderful in Rome

rome 051

Of course, when in Rome, it should be espresso, shouldn’t it?
Perhaps cappuccino? Nope. I stick to old, reliable Caffé Americano– style.


Java on the balcony of your room in Cannes also tastes pretty darn special.


And during a dinner cruise on the Seine in Paris?
The pleasure of a coffee after your gourmet meal is hard to outclass.

But as delightful as you can imagine all of these cups of coffee and tea were, there is one cup of tea I remember the most with enduring fondness. Today in particular, it makes all the others pale in comparison.

It is the memory of Mom and I sipping tea together in the late afternoon sun…

My wedding day, August 1998

…on an incredibly special day, made that much more memorable by an intimate moment shared.

Today also happens to be a noteworthy day for my family. To be able to indulge in a good ol’ cup of orange pekoe tea with my mother today, on her birthday…it doesn’t seem like a great deal to ask for.

But again this year and for the rest of my days, fond memories will have to do.


Happy Birthday, Mom.
Knowing how much you always loved your tea,
this morning I’d like to imagine Dad putting the kettle on
and the two of you enjoying a cup together.

And I’ll raise my cup to you.



What is it that inspires our desire to create?

What moves an artist to draw or to paint a picture? What sparks the passion in a writer to pen a poem or a story? What is it that prompts a photographer to run for her camera and try to capture that perfect shot?

Here are a few things that give me continued inspiration:

1.  The ocean, which surrounds me… (No surprise there, right? 😉 )

092 (1024x509)Every day, it is a slightly different colour, morphing between shades of blue sapphire, steel grey, or deep, dark navy with racing waves and frothy white-caps. On other days, it is as calm and flat as a mirror.052 (1024x683)The sea is a living thing: mercurial, organic, merciless, and endlessly beautiful.035 (1024x461) 2.  I’ve always had a passion for all animals (no, not just my cats! 😉 ).
Horses, dogs, whales, and birds…102 (1024x683) …natural beings of the forest and untamed creatures of the sea and sky.058 (1024x683)

3.  My granddaughter inspires me with her sunny smile, her boundless energy and curiosity, and her sweet innocent, loving heart.

036 (1024x861) 4.  My grandson inspires me with those impossibly long eyelashes, his sense of humour, his quick wit, and his infectious laughter (even when he teases his crinkly Nanny).037 (1024x902) 5.  Teaching children about Nature, and why we need to respect it, appreciate it and care for it is a spark for my imagination. I love answering their many questions…055 (1024x683)… and listening to them tell of their own experiences in the beautiful, natural world.


Have you ever noticed how Children and Nature go so happily together?064 (1024x683)

“Children are born naturalists. They explore the world with all of their senses, experiment in the environment, and communicate their discoveries to those around them.”
~ Audubon Nature Preschool061 (1024x683)

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us..”
~ Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth

Do you have special childhood memories of exploring Nature?

What fills you with inspiration? Do tell!

Vivian’s View From Here: Kilmory Getaway

024 (1280x856) Welcome back, my peeps and pets, to Vivian’s View From Here.
Today we take a page from my Summer Travel Diary.

074 (1280x837)Our “staff” took a break from St. John’s this past week
to spend three nights at Kilmory Resort near Swift Current.

034 (1280x867)It was beautiful and secluded there in our pine log chalet,
which, of course, was right up our alley.

026 (1280x852)Maisie and I especially loved the loft, because we like perching up high.
001 (1280x613)So peaceful, so cozy…
019 (1280x800)We weren’t particularly fond of the noise from the jacuzzi jets, however.
012 (1280x897)But we appreciated the bird’s-eye view of our beloved staff.
006 (1280x779)Here I am practising my “lumbersexual” poses. That’s a thing!
010 (1280x853)If you never heard of it, go google it! I’ll wait. 🙂
002 (1280x894)As nice and comfy as it was, after a while
we grew weary of having to staying indoors.

021 (797x1280)“Hey, I hear lots of birds and squirrels!”
Maisie meows. “Can you please let us out?”
085 (1280x954)After all, we’re used to going out all the time on Perry’s Point.
087 (1280x815)And look how beautiful and sunny it is out there!
086 (1280x819)Please???
147 (1280x908)Begging works! Our staff fashioned makeshift leashes,
so we could explore outdoors for a bit.



Thanks for dropping by, everyone!
~ head bumps & nose kisses,
041-800x415 (1)

Kilmory Resort

Weekly Photo Challenge: Walls – Part 2


For one of the weeks of our vacation in Italy, our party of eight stayed in a stone farmhouse villa in the Tuscan region near Siena and Florence. It is known by the Italians as an Agriturismo.

Located in the province of Arezzo, this ancient agriturismo, the Scarpellino, had been renovated in 2005. All of its original architectural details were restored.

Tuscan villa 063


I loved how warm and homey the villa felt with all of its stone walls, inside and out.

test1 201

I also loved where it was situated, nestled in the middle of vineyards and olive trees.
Complete privacy was a given.


Here are some inside shots:

test1 209

villa19One would think the hard stonework of the walls would make one feel cold.


 Perhaps it is my “inner cavewoman” that likes the atmosphere stone walls create.

Tuscan villa 092

Tuscan villa 097


The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Walls

Photo Challenge: Inviting Nighttime

During our trip to Italy and France in 2011, I took hundreds of photos, the majority of which were daytime shots. Here are some favourite captures from two of France’s cities in late evening and night.

I still find them as inviting as ever.


France 139
Lights wink on as dusk descends.
France 143
Window-shopping in Cannes; almost as fun as the real thing!
France 144
Boulevard de la Croisette invites us to explore. Ritz Carlton on the right.
France 145
The Croisette stretches 2 km long beside the Mediterranean Sea.
France 146
The entrance to our hotel beckons.
France 154
Home Sweet Home for three nights.

On to Paris:

France 231
The view from our hotel for four nights

France 234
France 001

France 105
On the Seine River Dinner Cruise…
…which ended at the Eiffel Tower.
France 125
Bonne nuit, mes amis!  

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

Weekly Travel Theme: Inviting