Share Six: August 2022: Travel

I chose the them {Travel} this month because I knew I would only be arriving home from 12 days in Macedonia four days before we were due to go live.

Travel plans to Macedonia started way back in 2019, but circumstances kept postponing it. In December 2018, Amy & Daniel got married in our back garden, however, none of Daniel’s family could be with us. So Amy & Daniel planned to go to Macedonia and have a reception there for his family in 2020. Well we all know that covid happened and that put paid to any traveling. 2021 was the year from hell, and Richard’s health played a big role in us doing anything. In addition Amy was pregnant and was not able to travel. So 2022 comes around and the kids are determined to go back home to Daniel’s family and they wanted us to go with. This would be the time to have his family celebrate their wedding and also have Luka baptized. We would spend almost a week in his home town before heading out on a road trip to see the rest of Macedonia as best we could.

Below is a short synopsis of the traveling we did. Details will follow in additional posts.

There is nothing worse than a cellphone pic, through a tinted glass window at the airport. But I had to take it to start off our travel plans. We were flying Turkish Airlines out of Miami, to Istanbul, Turkey, and then on from Istanbul to Skopje, Macedonia. Travel time was 11 hours to Istanbul, with a 1.5 hour layover (which did not quite happen) and then a 1.5 hour flight time to Skopje. Seeing the kids and my little man, Luka, was a huge relief and such a pleasure. Luka had been gone for 10 days and I missed him. Driving through the countryside traveling to Vinica reminded me of the Natal midlands that I had grown up in.
With just a short time to unpack and a quick shower, I kicked off the afternoon with Amy at a bridal bread making ceremony. From what I understand, traditionally the brides family make a round loaf of bread which is broken by the two families. Since Amy’s family only arrived that day, Daniel’s mother gathered her family and they did the bread making at their home. Of course, chef Luka was in the middle of it. A coin is placed in the bread, and when the bread is broken the person receiving the coin is declared to have good luck for the year.
Vinica is a small town with some history. At the top of the hill is a the ruins of a fortress known as Vinicko Kale and dates back to the Neolithic times. On another hill is a giant cross that overlooks the town. We opted to walk up to the ruins on Friday. Kuddo’s to #babgyjogger stroller. It did some heavy duty all terrain traveling. One thing about getting to the ruins is it is all uphill. It seemed to go on forever. It is then when you realize just how unfit you are and that you cannot actually breathe. I would love to blame the change in climate, and I am sure that contributed a little bit, but unfit is a good word to use for me. The ruins were interesting and the view of town gives a good idea of the size of it. On a side note, I opted to skip the climb to the cross, but Richard did it.
Friday afternoon, after recovering from our hill climbing, Amy, Richard, Luka and I went through to Kochani, which is a slightly bigger town than Vinica. We found an Irish Pub, that really did not have much Irish going on, but the atmosphere was nice and the staff were friendly. The one lady I spoke to was a teacher, but said that jobs were slim and so she was working in the pub. From there we walked around the town, and climbed another hill to a church I had spotted. Lunch was calling and we headed to a small tavern like restaurant for a light snack and some “fan” time to cool down. Luka was really overheated with all the activity so he got to spend the night in air conditioning with his Nuala and Granda.
Saturday was the start of the wedding ceremony. Traditionally the groom steals the bride from her family early in the morning and takes her to his family home where the celebrations begin. Daniels mom had set up an outdoor area of high tops under umbrella’s. The ladies had made a huge amount of food. There was fridges filled with drinks. She had hired a group of musicians who came and played music for 4 hours while the celebrations took place. It was a time of celebration. Everyone enjoyed themselves.
Moving on from the home party we headed to the valley of the mountains where the actual reception would take place. We opted to get dressed there, which in hindsight was probably a mistake. The temps were 103F and there was no air conditioning at the venue, and I was dying just getting strapped into the bustle of my dress. Amy & Daniel had to stand at the entrance to the event and have a photo taken with every single guest. I on the other hand got to hang out with Luka and keep him busy. The evening was wonderful. For the first few hours the guests danced the Horo. There was a short break into contemporary music and then it was back to traditional music. Their groomsman had organized a beautiful fireworks display. The wedding went on until 1am and then we had to drive back to their hometown.
Sunday was a lazy day of rest for everyone. Clean up for the family, but for us we headed to the Park for a beer and downtime. Monday was Luka’s baptism in their family church. Tradition has it that the godfather is the one who presents the baby to the priest, so Zlatko was the person to hold Luka, in his good mood and in his tears. The ceremony was interesting although I did not understand a word of it, but he was anointed with oil and had 3 strands of hair cut and he was dipped in the font of water. He was not too happy with the last part.
Tuesday we began our road trip. We headed to Ohrid via Tikvas Winery. We did a tour, and then stopped for a lunch of meats, cheeses, and salads and of course a bottle of very nice wine.
The drive to Ohrid was through some beautiful mountain scenery.
Ohrid is a lake town. On the other side of the lake are the shores to Albania in certain places. Our hotel was 5 minutes from the town area and we were able to walk along the promenade to the city area. Exploring the downtown area was interesting, walking the town was tiring. Lots of ups and downs, and some straight up’s and steps galore, all different shapes and sizes.
Sunset from the promenade was beautiful and at the tip of the land is the beautiful Church of St John the theologian, something that we would visit in our three day stay.
Wednesday we headed down towards the town of Naum and very close to the Albanian Border. Three quarters of the way down we visited a place called the Bay of Bones. The is an authentic reconstruction of the pile dwelling settlement. It was very interesting to visit, and I took a lot of photo’s of the living style.
From there we headed to the campgrounds at Ljubanishta Beach where we were able to swim in the lake setting below the gorgeous hills. The water was chilly but the day was hot, and I waded in to cool down. We spent a couple of hours there before heading further down the road.
While the Monastery at St Naum was extremely beautiful, I found the walk to the monastery very commercial and a little disappointing. This was an active monastery and so I was expecting more solitude and a time of reflection, not a busy restaurant, a hectic beach and a road full of souvenir sellers. That said the design of the church, and the architecture is stunning and I want to spend some time reading up on the different styles of building over the centuries. The monestary is just a short way away was the Albanian border, but we did not cross it.
On our full second day in Ohrid, we planned to visit the city. I had made a list of 18 places to visit. Some we had done the day before but some I still had to do. We literally walked the town starting out at the Church of St John the Theologian, then heading up to Samoil’s Fortress, then down to the ancient Macedonian theatre, passed the Church of St Sophia, and back into the city. Now that may not sound like a lot but it was a good 4 hours of walking along boardwalks, climbing steps, meandering pathways, and climbing sheer hills to get to the fort. Coming back down had me thanking God, that we had not chosen to go up that way because the road was a steep downhill to the bottom, which meant it would have been a steep uphill to the top. The ladies went back into town to do some shopping in the afternoon. Dinner was an interesting affair. Since Amy, Richard, Luka and I were ready, we walked into town arriving at our restaurant just before the rain started. The rest were behind and got stuck at the hotel we were staying in. The rain was crazy and we ended up feeling like we had just been hit by a freak tropical storm. The wind ripped off the awning, turned over chairs, and tables, there was broken plates and glassware on the floor. Everyone had rushed to the back of the restaurant and the rain was coming in sideways and we were being hit with hail. What an experience. Suffice to say we had dinner there because we were stuck until the water on the road subsided and the rest of the group had dinner at the hotel.
Friday was our day to leave and we detoured through Struga on our way out. Another pretty lake town at the top end of the lake. It had a very attractive river walk. It was fun to see people swimming in the river and diving off the bridges. In one place there was a young guy canoeing in the river.
As we ventured more into the town of Struga we came across an umbrella walkway. After lunch, we began the next leg of our journey through the mountains to the House of the Miyaks in Mavrovo. The house is built in the style of Miyak construction which is stunning. The staff were impeccable and accommodating and that went a long way to a very enjoyable overnight stay. This was down time from the hectic trip. Other than visiting the monastery there was nothing else to do.
The active Bigorski Monastery St John the Baptist was set up on the mountainside higher than the House of the Miyaks. It is a a Byzantine monastery originally built in 1020, it was partially destroyed by fire in 2009. Work began in 2010 to restore the buildings as close to their original style as possible. We had access to walk through the monastery but we were not able to take photo’s in the sanctuary. However, I will say that the paintings on the wall were stunning and I really wish I could have taken them. This was truly one of my favorite parts of the visit. More about this monastery later.
Saturday, and we are in the last stretch. Leaving the monastery we visited another favorite, the Sunken Church called the Old Mavrovo Church. Originally known as the St Nicholas Church, this church served the village of Mavrovo. However around 1952, the government built a hydroelectric power station and an artificial lake and the church got submerged under water. I had seen numerous pictures, some of the with the water to the roof, some with water halfway up the building. It so happened that the day we visited the water level was low and we were able to walk inside the damaged church.
Moving on from the Sunken Church we headed to Matka Gorge. This was a must on Richard list. The gorge is beautiful. Getting there a little more difficult. The Gorge is situated just outside of the capital Skopje. Arriving there you quickly realized that there was chaos with regards to parking and no clear direction on which way to go to get to the various areas of the gorge. However, once we got our direction correct, we made our way to where we could catch a ferry boat that would take us into the gorge. We decided to stop and have a bite to eat at what was an expensive restaurant. Another interesting experience was the toilet situation. I have seen some interesting toilets in my lifetime, but never have I experienced an eastern toilet on a hot sticky day wearing jeans and needing desperately to use the bathroom. Some gymnastics came into play during that experience.
The boat trip took us deep into the gorge where we were able to go into a cave to view stalagmites and stalactites. I am not a cave person. I find them claustrophobic. I went down the first flight of steps and up the second flight and then I turned around and left. I managed to get enough images to satisfy me. That aside, I could climb up and down those uneven steps without someone hovering behind me as I exited the cave and made my way back down to the boat.
The last stop of our trip was the capital Skopje. Very much a city Skopje seems to have two sides outside of the suburbs. Our hotel was situated on the main square of the city, and so we had easy access to both sides. There is the more modern side of the square, and if you crossed the stone bridge, you came to old town Skopje. This is made up of narrow streets of shops and restaurants. Beyond that is the bazaar which we walked through. It had a huge food market and I bought some kerrie (or as I know it curry). There curry is very different to the South African curry, both in color and spices. South African curry is typically hot while the Macedonia curry was flavorful but not hot and spicy.
We decided in the late morning we would head up to the Millennium Cross that over looks the city of Skopje. Getting up to it was by cable car. Once at the top we were able to walk around, and then sit and have a beer. When we went down, we picnicked in the gardens for a short while before heading back to the hotel. I have to be honest that by Monday afternoon I was tired. My feet ached and all I wanted to do was take a siesta. We chilled while Luka was sleeping and when he woke up at 7pm, we headed out to find some food.
Walking back to the hotel after a very pleasant dinner at Gino’s, we were able to see the square all lit up in the Macedonian colors. It was very pretty and I am glad that we were out late enough to see that.

Macedonia was a beautiful experience that we may never have done if it was not for Amy and Daniel asking us to go with. I am grateful that we got to meet Daniel’s mom, brother and sister in law, and their daughter, as well as extended family on both his mothers and father’s side, his groomsmen and friends. We also got to experience some of his culture and understand Daniel a little better. Added to that we got to see a fair bit of the countryside. Hopefully Daniels mother will be able to come out later this year and we will be able to reciprocate the hospitality. Today I get to try to make two different macedonian dishes, kebapi and borek.

Travel rounds out your understanding of the world and life as it is lived by others. It gives you a better sense of knowledge and helps you to be more tolerant of different ways of life. Travel broadens your horizons and gives gives you the opportunity to meet new people, taste new foods, and drink new drinks. Travel is something I wish I could do more often. Next on the list is a visit to family, part of my family history and a place we have always wanted to visit, Australia.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Janet Douglas is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Instagram page. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_travel

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the LIfe: July 2022: All about today

{All about today} is the theme for the month of July and was chosen by Lynne Grant Photography. Friday’s typically are my Luka day, but last week I had him overnight on Saturday, and this week I had him on Saturday as well. We are getting closer to our travel dates, and Amy wanted to do some last minute shopping. So we got Luka on Saturday so that she could get out and do what she needed to do. So this is my {All about today}.

This little guy holds my heart. Every time I look at him I feel this enormous amount of love. He’s at the age now where he is a little frustrated. He is not crawling but really wants to walk. You put him on your lap and he is wiggling down. Then when he is down he is wanting up.

He was lying on the floor on Saturday and he suddenly bit my toe with his two tiny teeth. We are trying to teach him how to get up on all four’s but when Richard showed him this weekend he just collapsed to the floor. However, he is nearly there. He was sitting and reached for something and managed to get on all fours but did not know what to do with himself so he collapsed to the carpet again. He does love to stand though.

Feeding time is always fun. I have my own high chair at the house and he knows when he goes in there exactly what is coming. He eats a variety of “baby foods”, pureed mango, or pear, or pumpkin, or numerous other combinations. He always makes sounds after each spoon. This week I actually gave him pear pieces. Half of it landed on the floor, but when he got it in his mouth I made a big fuss and clapped my hands. He gets the biggest smile on his face when I do that.

After feeding time, I headed outside to see if I could get an image or two of him. It is super hot and humid outside and he has not spent a lot of time outdoors, but we went into Granda’s big chair and I snapped a few of him in there. Every so often when I look at him I see my brother. I also see a lot of Amy these days.

Sleep snuggles is my favorite time. It is when we go quiet for a while, slow down what we are doing. I get to rock him to sleep and then we go on the bed, and he has a good sleep on my chest. I get to cuddle and make sure that he is not disturbed. I elevate the head of my bed and he seems to sleep so much better and longer. I know that this routine is not going to last much longer, but I do love those little cuddles and that happy face that he wakes up with.

Once he woke up Granda and I took him back to mom and dad. While Amy was making lunch for us, I took this wiggly little man out to his swing set. A couple of months back I bought him the swing and the saucer swing, and his Granda built him the frame to hang it from. So we went outside for a short while and he seems to enjoy it.

Given that it was so hot, we decided a swim was on the cards. Luka is like a fish. He instinctively kicks his legs. Amy puts him in the floater, but I have been pulling him out and holding his body so that he can have the freedom to kick and move his arms. I want him to learn to swim as soon as possible. Once he gets mobile the pool will become a hazard until he is able to get himself from his entry point to the steps. We learned with Amy that being prepared is good. She loved the water and we fished her out twice.

I honestly never thought about what it would be like to be a grandmother. Amy always said she was not getting married and not having kids. I always said the right person will come along and all that will change. Having Luka in our lives is such a joy. He was a balm to a horrible 2021, and watching him and Richard interact brings me such pleasure.

{All about today} is about the simplicity of life, the joy of a new child, and the gift of being able to love on this beautiful and delightful light in our lives.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Katherine from Cobert Photography next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_allabouttoday

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 minutes in the life: June 2022

I am writing this early in the month so that I don’t get caught up with things later on. I work from home so very often I don’t venture out my office, let alone my home. Richard arrived home at about 3pm last Thursday and he mentioned there was a big bird out in one of the flower beds. I can see from the photo that it is part of the Peacock/hen family. I grab my camera and go out the back patio door and walk down the side of the house hoping to take some photo’s before she disappears. She spotted me and started walking away, then turned around and walked towards me. I got a little nervous as I wondered if she might peck at me. She didn’t, but I decided she may be hungry so I grabbed some of the duck seed and put it in a bowl and put it outside for her. She walked right back around and came to eat from the bowl.

She disappeared in the afternoon and Richard later found her on top of our double story house. I did not know that a peahen could fly that high. I always assumed that they were more ground birds

Richard saw her briefly on Friday on the back canal. Saturday she was spotted on our neighbors yard. Today is Sunday, and Richard told me that she had dug a hole and was settled in it. I got really excited thinking she may start laying eggs, but then Richard found her in the garage. So now I am wondering if the hole in the sand is a way for her to cool down. I am probably going to go outside and now and leave a bowl of water for her.

Monday she was back again, so I ventured out to take a few more photographs. This time I lay on the grass and watched her walk around me.

I think it is so cool when I get to see the different critters in the garden. I love all the birds and the animals that frequent our property.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: June 2022: Light

Well this month has passed and I have done one walk. I have struggled to get out on my free day as I have had Luka and for the past 6 weeks he has been sick. Last weekend when I did plan to go out, I ended up with him spending 3 days in our home. Amy had bronchitis and she did not feel at all well, Daniel was working night shift, and honestly we did not want Luka to catch something else. As it was I took him to the doctor for a check up on his cough and discovered he had another ear infection, and subsequently received another antibiotic. Poor guy spent a good bit of time in my arms.

So I looked through what I had not edited this past year and pulled images for light from there.

This image caught my attention because of the bokeh and the light shining through the wings. This poor Anhinga has clearly had a run in with something, probably an aligator, given the loss of feather. I have to wonder how it is flying to be honest.

Whenever I go to shoot the sunset, I always take my lensbaby, but for some reason I never pull it out. This was one of the light images that I had not edited 2 months ago. This is my favorite spot to get some nice pond reflections. What I like about this image is the reflection of the son on the leaves of the reeds.

Out in the garden and just after the rain. The light was dullish but I was able to capture the waterdrop at the tip of the leaf.

Out on my walk recently I spotted this Iguana in pockets of light. He was on a berm surrounded by trees and there are odd spots that get lit up along the edges. The Iguanas are in mating season and this guy clearly has been fighting as he has a bloody spot on his back that looks like a claw snagged him.

Sunsets are my favorite and sometimes they are average and sometimes they light up the sky. I loved the different shades of light in this image.

Moody kind of light found along a secluded walkway. This are my favorite kinds of images.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Janet from @wiredtothemoon next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_light

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the LIfe: May 2020

Well it is June already, but since there were not too many people blogging, and I had a sick baby in my arms all weekend, I opted to request that we wait a week and blog late.

Luka takes up my play days, and unless I get to play with Luka along, I really don’t get to go out as much as I did in the past. However, I love having that one day a week with him, where we can continue to bond and grow closer. His little face lights up bright when he gets to see his Nuala and Granda. There is such big smiles that it just brings such joy to my heart.

Suffice to say I have not got out this month because he is on the 7th week of being sick. The one nurse said to me that day cares are “evil” and I tend to agree. You no sooner send him back to day care and he is off sick again. I guess one has to start adding up how many days you are paying for day care that he is not actually going.

That said I did get one walk in this month. My goal was to see the new babies in the wetlands, but honestly by the time I eventually got to see them they were juveniles already. Here is a few images from my walk.

Flasher lol – This is a typical position for some birds on a really hot day. However what you cannot see behind mom’s wings is some teeny tiny Woodstork. She was shading them from the sun.
These babies are no longer tiny babies, however, they are still reliant on mom to feed them.
The Woodstork take over the nesting areas in the wetlands much to my dismay. There used to be pockets of Great Blue Heron, who have the cutest mohawk looking chicks, but the Woodstork have really pushed them out of the area.
George taking a nap on the berm. What you don’t see is a number of Iguana playing chicken. They are perfect gator food.
This guy was on the other side of the walkway. This is typical mating colors for the Iguana.
These Tri-colored Heron are newbies. There were three in the nest.
Cormorant are some of my favorite birds. The Cormorant in the wetlands are fairly tame and you can walk right up to them, and they will just stare you down. These birds have the most incredible turquoise eyes.
Lazing in the afternoon. Turtle suntan time. I love seeing them especially when there is a group of them hanging out on a log.
Juvenile Great Egret. Not sure where mom was but they were hanging out waiting. What I love about these birds is that there legs bend backwards.
That’s it folks 🙂 The Woodstork certainly have a lot to say for themselves.

It was good to get out and walk again. If I had planned to do it this weekend I would have been in trouble. We have a tropical storm passing over us and dumping a huge amount of rain. Nothing else to worry about although Richard did say that some cars in Miami were up to their windows.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what she has for you this month Kristina from Hello Olivia Photography is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: May 2022: Flat Lay

I was so impressed by out featured artist @everythingamylsmith‘s {Flat Lay} last month, that I wanted to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and to do something a little different. So I asked the blog team to try the art of {Flat Lay}. I have never done a {Flat Lay}, but this was a lot of fun. Thinking up the different themes and how they relate to me. It was definitely an endeavor to draw on who I am. Of course, me on top of a tall stepladder is never a good thing, but I survived the experience with a few pictures to show.

I hope you enjoy this theme this month.

Writing is a lost art. I remember growing up we did not have internet. In fact, we did not have computers. And yes, I know that I am dating myself, but it is what it is. What we had was the run of the mill snail mail. And I had pen friends. So many of them, that if I had really put my mind to saving my money, I could have traveled to every country in Europe, to Scandinavia, and throughout the UK and I would have had a friend in at least 1, maybe 2 cities in each country, along with a whole lot of family in the UK. I remember waiting, impatiently, for the mail to arrive. There would be a one page letter. When I think about it now, it is almost anti climatic, but in those days it was awesome. What happened to all those pen friends, I have no idea, but today I am still friends with my very first pen friend, Andrew who lived in England, and my Danish pen friend, Lone. Both came over to South Africa to stay with us. Lone when I was in my early 20’s and Andrew when I was married. If you haven’t written a letter for a while, grab a card, and bless someone with some kind words. It will make their day.

Coffee is something I love, but my body hates. I loved the idea of the coffee beans spilling out of the packet and into the cup. So I went to the local Fresh Market and found some Jamaican Blue coffee beans (the kind Richard likes). I have to be honest, the smell is divine and I would love to just pour myself a cup of coffee. Probably I could sit and sniff it for a while and get my fix, but to drink it is like poison for my system.

Many years ago, around 2012, Richard had a group of Portuguese guys come over on business, and he decided to host them one evening for dinner and just give them time out of the hotel room. They were great fun, but the memory of my kitchen floor is something that keeps coming back to me. As the evening progressed, the stickier my floor became. So what were they making – caipirinha. What do you need – limes, sugar, Cachaça, and ice. There was a lot of work that went into the making of this drink, and I think the more that were made, the more that was spilled on my floor. We all had a great evening, and that made it worth the cleaning of the sticky floor before I went to bed.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a staff retreat. This is the second year we have been to this location, and I have to confess I love it. It is art with wood. You pick a project and when you arrive you are shown your project and you have to make sure that the wording on your stencil is correct. Then you begin by sanding your project, then staining your project, then doing a wash of some sort, then adding your stencil (which is an art in itself), and then painting the stencil, waxing your project, and finally adding the hardware. We got to do that all in 2 hours. This flat lay was taken in the staining process. I loved the end results and was able to gift it to my daughter and her husband. I have decided I would like to go back there again and do a 3 hour project. That way I will get myself a nice charcuterie board.

So, tea time is my thing. I can drink tea till the cows come home, as my mother would say. For the most part I love Red tea or as South Africans call it, Rooibos tea. I have been drinking it for years. Every so often, I will pull out vanilla tea, and a lot of memories of my dear friend Gavin, and on occasion Earl Gray Tea. For this flat lay I tried to color coordinate the theme. I had a small tray handy. I raided my cupboard for a sweater and a scarf. I pulled out two of my mothers pass me on’s – the cake plate, and the tea cup. Found the scrabble tiles. Dug out the candles. Borrowed the pine cones from the arrangement in the kitchen. I had bought some tulips to use, but by the time I got to shooting this project the tulips were dying and I had to go and buy some more, but I loved using the dead leaves as well. A nightly habit for me is tea and my book. It is a way for me to destress and let go of the day. Sometimes I destress too late into the night, and then the lack of sleep becomes my stress point, but Friday is just around the corner. The whole project was placed on the carpet in my office, which blended with the colors in the theme.

Last but not least is my wishful thinking. In 2018, Amy and Daniel got married in our back garden in a small and intimate wedding ceremony. Amy had lost contact with her friends as a result of being overseas for almost 3 years, and Daniel’s family could not travel out for the wedding. Their plan was to go to his family the following year. However, that was postponed due to his legal US paperwork. In 2020, covid happened and we could not go. In 2021, Richard was diagnosed with melanoma, and covid was spiking in Europe again. In addition Amy was pregnant and was too far along for traveling. Luka was born in December. So we are now 4 years later, and have still not got back to Macedonia.

However, It’s official, Amy and Daniel have booked their tickets, and the date for their family and friends reception is set for mid July. They want us to go with, and I very much want to go. Richard wants to wait for the results of his Pet Scan, which is at the end of May, before we book our tickets. So I am praying that he has nothing to worry about and that we get to do some traveling in July. This flat lay is me prepared to travel. Of course there is so many things to do, but I am working on them in anticipation of us traveling. Aside from the reception, and spending time in Daniel’s home town and meeting the family, Luka being baptized, there are plans to go to Ohrid, which is on the lake, and to the capital Skopje. I am excited about the thought of traveling, and seeing new places. I tried learning the language when we first talked about going and then it kind of fell by the wayside. I have all of 2 words right now – hello – Zdravo, and goodbye – chow (although that is not what google tells me).

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Kathrine of Cobert Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_flatlay

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: April 2022

This month flew past so darn quickly. I have a busy work schedule closing down a clinic and trying to keep up with everything else that is going on.

In the middle of all of this our company plans a Staff Retreat. A staff retreat is always appreciated. Our work is busy and our locations are far apart, so it is always good to be able to reconnect and have a bit of fun.

A year ago we went to a studio for some team building time together as part of our staff retreat. This year we went back to the same place. I loved it.

If you are ready to get messy, Board and Brush is the place to be. It is an art studio with a difference. You are creating a wooden piece of art. You can go traditional, you can go all out, you can even use glitter.

Last year I made a coffee box, this year I wanted something a little different. So per the instructions I signed up and I was given a link to choose my artwork. Since I gave the coffee box to Cameron and Kathryn last year, I decided to get Amy’s feedback on what they might like. She said she would like a tray. So that is what I picked.

The day arrives and it starts out with coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts. I missed that due to a serious accident blocking my commute. So no problem. I did a U-turn and found another route to follow and arrived just as everyone was setting up. I checked in and was shown to my project.

I had taken my camera, but opted not to use it because it was going to get messy and I did not want to appear like the camera queen. So I used my phone. All pics shown below are taken with my iPhone 11.

Welcome to Board & Brush, where you are guaranteed to get messy and have a whole lot of fun. First things first you need to check that your template says exactly what it is supposed to say. If you are happy, your template is whisked away so that it does not get messy. Then the fun begins.

If you are doing one of their classes the option to additionally enjoy yourself is there. Ours was a morning class and the beverage was coffee. I am not sure that I would want to add alcohol to the mix. I tend to get serious about my art projects. But back to the fun part….

On the table in front of you, you have a selection of tools – a hammer, some chicken wire, 2 types of meat mallets, some screws and a piece of chain and you are going to spend some time destressing your piece of wood. Now I learned from the last time not to do any destressing where you are going to have text, because the paint can bleed. So I opted to use the chicken wire in the corners, and to take the mallet and bash up the edges of the tray.

My coworker had a blast destressing her box. This box was similar to what I turned my coffee box into last year. I went with a very dark ebony and did they writing in a cream color. My coworker turned hers into a movie night box.

Next step is to take some sandpaper and smooth off all the rough edges and get rid of the little pieces sticking out.

Gloves on for this part. Now we are going to stain the wood. There were a variety of different stains going from a dark ebony to a light natural wood, and also including some gray stains as well. Amy had said to keep the tray just light the picture, which was a light center and darker edges. So I choose a lighter stain for the wood.

You’ve picked your color stain, next up is to pick up a brush and get busy staining. It is such a neat feeling to get into the project and watch it slowly come to life. Of course, my first move was to tip the stain over. Luckily the paper is thick and I was able to just pull it up from where it landed.

Once that was done you had the option to leave your article as it was or to accent it. For me that was to do a color wash. I wanted the edges of the tray a darker brown to the inside. This is the messy part and it takes some concentration because you do not want to mess the color on the inside of the tray. They decided to test it on the back of the tray to make sure I was happy with the color. What happened was that she went outside the lines, (my lines that is) so I ended up doing a color wash on the entire base of the tray, along with the sides. For some reason I forgot one inside and had to do it at the last minute. Anyway, you paint on the color wash and then take some paper towel and wipe away the excess of the paint, making sure that you are happy with the end results.

Next comes the stencil. First you have to choose the color that you want on your project, and as you can see there is a huge variety. I opted for the same color I had painted the edges. I wanted it to pop on the lighter wood.

Taking the stencil apart is probably the hardest part of the whole project. I, of course, choose a project with a lot of words and there had to be some careful maneuvering to make sure that all the little pieces stayed in place. First you take off the back. Then you lay down your stencil. Then you have to peel off the front. All the while you are making sure that it is not sticking to the plastic. My coworker and I tucked the plastic up under the paper.

Once the stencil is in place, you then take one of these sponge brushes and dip it in the paint. Then you get the excess of the paint off the sponge by wiping it on the brown paper. Then using a tapping motion you begin to cover the letters of your stencil. Once you are finished you repeat the process.

Next comes the ripping off of the stencil. Then you have to take one of those little sharp cutting knives and remove any parts of the stencil that has stayed behind. Like the center of the “e” or the “h” or the “g”. I spent a bit of time with a sharp knife, cleaning up a couple of bleeds that happened when I was lifting these little pieces.

Suddenly you have a project that is starting to take shape. But we are still not finished. Once that is done you take your sandpaper and gently sand the text to get a destressed look. I did not do it very hard, and probably would not do it given the choice again.

Next step is to grab some cloth out of the silver bucket and to start waxing your project. The wax smells strong and when finished it feels like it has brought out the color of the wood and leaves a nice shine on the project.

Last but not least, I got to play with the power tools. Actually, it was not working well for me so I had a friend help me. I had to screw in handles on the side or the project and holding and trying to screw in the little screws is not a one man endeavor.

Finally, I have a finished project. All I have to do is put their stamp on the back of the tray and I am done. I love this kind of activity and I hope we get to go back there again next year. However somewhere in-between I would like to go back on my own and do a 3 hour project, where there is a bit more involved. Below is the project that I would like to create next time around.

Since our class was a 2 hour project this was not an option for me, but I love the idea of building a charcuterie tray for myself.

I am grateful to our decision makers that they chose this venue again for our staff retreat. It is fun and you get to walk away with something of your choice. Added to that we ended off our day with lunch at a local restaurant. From there I headed to the day care to pick up my little man and have some Luka time. Overall I give the day a 10 out of 10.

If you have a Board & Brush near you, I would encourage you to check it out and see if there is something you may want to do. And a shout out to our local Wellington team, who are efficient, helpful, encouraging and super organized. They were awesome.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what she have for you this month April White Photography is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: April 2022: Joy

This month Kathrine of Cobert Photography chose the theme {Joy}. Kathrine is going to some personal struggles right now, and my prayers are with her and her family as they walk each day.

When I was 17 my mom turned 50. As an arrogant teenager I really thought my mom was old. How little did I know. I have by-passed 50, and rapidly approaching the big 60 and I don’t feel old. I lie, there are days when I feel old, but not everyday.

My mom loved being a grandmother. She transitioned into the role with glee. I couldn’t imagine being a grandmother. Did that make me old? I hoped not. Amy was adamant that she did not want children, and Cameron’s and Kathryn are not able to have children. So I figured I would never become a grandmother.

To some degree I grieved that thought. I wanted to be a grandmother, just not old lol. Little did I know what {Joy} it being a grandmother would actually be.

This little man came into our lives at a time when life was so unsettled. We were dealing with Richard’s melanoma diagnosis, Amy’s high risk pregnancy, Amy buying a house, Hoo dying, my brother having a melanoma diagnosis, my sister in law being diagnosed with Colon cancer, and me having covid. It seemed like once a month something stressful was happening. I am an emotional eater, this is not pretty.

In September I was already worrying about Luka’s arrival. I was with Amy as much as I could be. I was on the phone the whole day she was in labor. It was a long day going well into the evening. And finally at 10:50pm he was born. Amy had me on facetime within minutes of him being born. He was so beautiful. My heart was relieved and filled with joy.

Where sorrow had been sitting on every aspect of our lives, this little boy brought such joy.

When I looked at Luka all I could see was Cameron, my son. I was amazed at how the genes had transferred from one generation to another. He is definitely our side of the family. More recently I have begun to see Amy in his face. She had a lot more hair but even the coloring is hers.

One of the fun things we get to do with him now that he has got a bit older is water time. He loves his swim time in the jacuzzi. He is so cute to watch as he is already instinctively kicking his legs. I will also take him out of his floatie and hold him under his body and let him kick as well. My goal is to teach him to swim as soon as possible.

At some point when he started drooling, I bought a pack of “My First” bibs. So recently we took him along to the St Patrick’s Day Parade so that he could wear his bib and enjoy that wee bit of heritage that comes from my maternal grandmothers side of the family. My great great grandparents originated in Ireland, moved to York, England, and then my great grandfather took his family to South Africa. Where our downline continued. Luka is our first generation American.

Amy is a great mother to Luka. She does all sorts of activities with him. She is constantly encouraging him. I told her today that she is really good with him, and she said he makes it easy. He really does. What has been a real joy for me is how much she trusts me to look after him. It is tough being a working mother and unfortunately I am a working grandmother. Truthfully, I think when you become a grandmother you should stop working and just enjoy baby life. Luka, right now, gets to spend Friday with me as that is the one day I do not work. While it can be stressful when he is crying, the moments when he is smiling and laughing brings such overwhelming love to my heart. His little giggles are infectious. I recall one day laughing with him so much I was crying.

His personality is a delight. He is such a happy baby. He has discovered his fingers, and at this time everything goes to his mouth. He has discovered that he can sit up, problem is that he is not totally steady. When he is in his stroller, he can hold on. He loves to be pushed around while he is sitting up. To help with the sit up time, we are working on the core. He love pulling himself up to a sitting position.

Tummy time is fun. He is learning to roll over, and I noticed on Friday, that he is starting to lift his tiny butt and push with his feet. The downside of this move is that his face goes forward to the floor. But one push at a time. This last week he found his voice and he is now very vocal. Sometimes I am not sure if it is a happy or mad vocalization but he sure is letting us know.

This little boy is my heart. He has lifted the sorrow of last year and has really helped to ease the pain. He brings me so much joy. If being a grandmother means I am getting old, I am more than happy to be old. I want to spend as much time as possible with this little guy. Fortunately he only lives 30 minutes away.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Kathrine of Cobert Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_joy

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: March 2022

Just a heads up – this post is more than 30 Minutes. There was way to much going on on my time out.

We have a wee bit of Irish in our bloodline. My grandmother was born in Halifax, Yorkshire. Her father Michael Nolan, was born in York, Yorkshire of Irish Immigrants. My great grandparents emigrated to South Africa where my mother was born, as was I and my children. However, I do hold onto that tiny bit of Irish history.

It was St Patrick’s day, and so we dragged out Luka’s “My first St Patrick’s Day” bib and headed to the local parade. We grabbed some starters at a local restaurant, some beers and Guinness and family time until the parade started. I have to confess when I go to a parade like this, I honestly expect to hear and see all things Irish. Sadly I was disappointed. Green beads, green outfits and loud hooting does not make it Irish. The parade was not great and so I spent more time people watching, which seemed a lot more interesting.

I needed a low key photo for my 52 Frames project so the two images that you see in black and white were my choices for my low key images. I eventually decided to submit the image of the young lady.

Here are some images from the St Patrick’s Day outing.

The wind picked up, the dust was blowing everywhere, Luka was tired and getting dust in his eyes and Amy was getting stressed. We tried to find a seat at a restaurant and they took forever, and then only gave a seat for 2. He wandered off to try and find out if he could seat four. While we were waiting for the table, the police opened the cross roads, and so we abandoned the table and crossed the road heading back towards our car. Richard did not want to leave with all the traffic so we wandered down the road, and came across an outdoor Italian restaurant playing Irish music and offering corned beef and cabbage. So we hung out there for a while and had another beer. Just before we finished it started spitting, so we packed up and headed to the car as quickly as possible, each of us agreeing that we were glad that the parade was over and vowing we were not getting caught again next year. I needed Irish music, lilting laughter and good beer. Perhaps there will be another time. Or perhaps, we can plan to visit Ireland.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month, Kristina Dominianni is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: March 2022: Revive

As I sit here and write, the news is on the the attack on the Ukraine is happening. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine. My prayer is for peace and no more senseless killing. I pray that they stay strong and resolved see this through to the best of their ability.

The theme this month is {Revive} and was picked by Elizabeth of It’s Still Life Photography by Elizabeth Willson.

Revive, I had to put on my thinking cap for this one. Books revive me, or allow me to escape. I thought about a spa day, but there’s no time for that.

What does {Revive} me is getting out and walking in the wetlands. It gives me peace. It restores my soul. It centers me. I am in awe of creation .

I also realized that nature itself is in {Revive} mode, certainly in South Florida. The weather is warming up, and there are definitely signs that spring is on it’s way. I took Luka for a walk this past week deliberately looking at nature for this revival.

The flora definitely has little spikes of green happening.

However there is more, Revive is happening amongst the bird life as well. As we see winter come to an end, the bird starts coming in and creating nests, doing their mating dances, and before long we will see new life again.

The Great Egret is one of the most stunning birds in breeding season. They get these really wispy feathers that are used to attract the male and you are fortunate if you get to witness both the calling dance and the mating dance of the two birds. Above this bird was in the middle of her calling dance. Her feathers were splayed wide and and the stand up wide as she moves. The green around their eyes deepen in color.
New to the wetlands is a set of baby gators. Mom was hanging out in the shallow water. if you look at her body you will see the head of a baby gator resting up against her. In the reeds (but at the wrong angle for me) the siblings were playing in the reeds.
The male Great Blue Heron is the stick collector and you will see them flying out to find a stick, and bring it back to the female. She will attempt to wedge it into the nest. They also go through the mating dance routine, and I have actually managed in the past to capture the actual mating.
The Wood Storks are currently moving in. When they first arrived some years ago I was over the moon. These guys have a prehistoric look about there. I have since discovered that they have a prehistoric behavior about them as well. They move in in mob form and take over. They have pushed all the Great Blue Herons to a section that is not as easy to photograph and by the end of the season I am convinced that I am breathing toxic waste by the time I have passed them. While it is nice to see them I kind of feel that they have taken over.
The Cattle Egret, like the Snowy Egret, also get this wispy feel to their feathers. The top of their heads get darker. They are really cute and I wish they would nest closer to where I can photography them well.
The Anhinga is also doing their thing. One of the amazing things about the Anhinga in the mating season is the color of their eyes. They get this ring of turquoise green rings around their eyes. The male gets these wispy feathers on top of their head. Below I managed to get up close to a male anhinga that I hopped up onto the board walk to dry it’s wings. When they go fishing they are weighed down with the water and can only fly a short distance and then they need to dry their wings so that they can fly again properly.

Spring is a time of revival. It is a time of new birth. It is a time to start planting. It is a time to revive.

Thank you for joining us this month.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Ceri Herd Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_revive

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.