A Cup of Cheer

As amazing as my post yesterday made me feel about my writing frequency, I kept the blog tab open and was hit with a little guilt that there isn’t enough balance flowing through this space.

40846561193_b14c1510ce_kI remember feeling so cleaver when I came up with the title of the tab that would house my tea drinking obsession and I set out on a rather ambitious goal of regularly posting about the tea I drink.

Nowhere in my mind did I think that would be a problem because I really do drink it all the time…and I did…

 

Last year, at the end of the summer, I visited some friends in Chicago and they introduced me to David’s Tea. I was instantly hooked and have been very blessed that those same friends have kept me well supplied in the months that followed.

In fact, it’s about the only tea I drank for the months of December-Feb and I kept track of all of it…I saved tea bags, tried my best to give honest feedback…it was great, until it wasn’t.

My goal is to drink and enjoy tea, not critique it. So, when I sat down to start planning blog posts about it, nothing interested me about posting my reviews…and ultimately, not only did I stop taking notes about my experiences, the drinking of it slowed also…

And then May happened…

Drinking a good cup of tea is part of who I am, part of my self care and I gradually forgot that along the way.

Maybe it was the pressure to track every sip that crossed my lips or maybe guilt that I spent so much time with one brand but whatever the reason, I shut the door on this room and I am here to bring it back to life.

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The above photo was taken at a dear friends house. It’s an herbal blend from, you guessed it, David’s Tea. In my search for the literal dozens of tea sachet wrappers to share, I found this and thought to myself, this is what I want to share instead.

A cup of tea is comforting and soothing to me…like a friend or a good hug. Sharing tea with people amplifies that experience for me and I think, ultimately, that’s what I wanted to do here…share a cup a tea, with a friend…

So, welcome again to this corner of Wanderwood Lane.

That being said, as much as I enjoy big brands like David’s Tea, Tiesta, Yogi, etc., I’d like to focus on smaller brands, perhaps home blenders, that would potentially benefit from the exposure. If you have a small tea company in mind you think that I should try, please leave a comment!

 

 

***For those curious, David’s Tea remains one of my favorite brands of tea. I think I tried over 25 blends since discovering them and there isn’t a single one that I couldn’t finish. By all means, Check them out!!!***

 

 

I’ve got a crush on you

Almost 2 months away seems really bizarre…

The truth is I have been writing. I’ve written letters to pen pals, two poems, a chapter in my book and LOTS of letters that I’ll never send. The lesson I learn time and time again is that I process exactly how I need to, in my own time and in my own way…and I am kinda diggin’ that right about now!

 

I am excited about today’s post because I have promised to be apart of this for months and haven’t followed through, yet. My friend Ashton has a great website called Eight Hundred Words and I found their writing prompt today the perfect opportunity to participate.

 

The Prompt: Tell the story of a crush you never actually spoke to (or did and it ruined the crush).

Now, my romantic life may only be a comedy to me but this is a chance that I can’t pass up…so, here goes.

It was evident from the beginning that I would be unable to pinpoint just one encounter because, well, I kinda do the same thing, EVERY, SINGLE, TIME.

For a decade I’ve been telling myself “I want to be a writer”, while the millions of sheets of paper left in my wake scream “what, exactly, would you call this?”.

As silly as it might sound, more than half of those sheets of paper have served to witness me, pouring my heart and soul out. Writing with pen on paper, even though my handwriting is plain awful most of the time, helps me process and I hand write often, to this day.

**

I’ll start with a story over a decade ago.

I was helping a friend work her handmade candle booth at a craft fair one fall when I noticed a guy helping his grandmother in the booth 2 down from ours. We made eye contact often but my feet wouldn’t make the trek over to say hello. SO, I wrote a short note of hello and my number on a piece of paper and made my booth partner take it over. The first thing he did after he received it is call me out for not bringing it over myself. Crush, Crushed…

YEARS later…

Befriending people comes really easy to me, guys especially. I like to think it’s because I grew up with two brothers and can relate a little better because of it. Probably also why I all too often put myself in the proverbial “friend zone”.

In my late 20’s/early 30’s I happened to have several great guy friends. We had dinner together, played video games (especially Rock Band and/or Guitar Hero), had long phone conversations and hung out weekly. It was amazing to be forming such incredible friendships but unfortunately my hopelessly romantic heart wouldn’t let me leave it there.

To the one…I went over to his house the day before he was about to be out of the country for a month to tell him (vocally) how I felt and a new roommate was moving in, so I lost my nerve and ended up writing an email a book long. His response was “he never saw me that way”.

To the other…I played the true friend for years, watching the ending, beginning, ending of his relationships until he hit a seemingly solo run. We chatted and had dinner often and I just knew we were working up to something. Losing my nerve became my middle name around this time and as lame as I feel, I ended up telling him how I felt in a very vague text that was never addressed.

It took a while but eventually, both of those crushes were crushed too.

 

Within the past 6 years…

 

  • I had a MAJOR crush on an up and coming musician that I got to meet one time. I had a lengthy letter, telling him how wonderful I thought he was, in my pocket but didn’t have the nerve (shocker) to give it to him. So, I mailed it to him, weeks later, with hope.
  • I started attending a writing group and met a guy that I was quite taken by, had the chance to smooch, chickened out and never got another chance. I typed him out the equivalent of a parody song and then put it in the computer’s recycle bin. That one at least made me laugh.
  • A guy I am a pretty big fan of wrote a book that only made me like him more. I wrote to him on almost every page of the book, hoping, somehow, he’d know it. Years later I met him in person and we are friends 🙂
  • When I get the nerve to verbally say something to a crush, I literally say something about how cute they are (like a school girl), turn and all but run away (like a school girl) and then end up writing (another letter I’ll never send), saying all the things I meant to say to them in person.

 

 

The reason this prompt was so perfect is because the one of the things I want to do the most in the world (convey thoughts and feeling via written word) isn’t really hard for me…at all…I do it all the time without even realizing it…I guess it just takes the right prompts to remind myself I do!

 

Maybe I’ll get better at the crush game, maybe I won’t but at least I know I’ll always have something to write about!

 

Thanks Eight Hundred Words! This was fun!

 

 

 

A May Day

It’s just before 8am on a Sunday morning and I’ve been tossing and turning for the better part of an hour, so I though I’d put the coffee and on and sit down to write for a bit.

My mind has been busy as of late and thus my anxiety through the roof.

A dear (and true) friend reminded me that writing was one of my tools and this morning I had to remind myself that I had this corner of the world to put some of it in.

My thoughts started in a really good place this morning, so I wasn’t upset to be awake sooner than usual on a day off, but weight quickly crept in and so I know it’s going to take more than coffee to get me going.

I had originally planned to apologize and speak to why posting has been so sporadic these past few months but then realized I am here to live a real life, with authenticity and transparency…so I won’t be doing either of those things…

 

What’s on my mind this morning is, in many ways, no different than most other days, the overcast sky and still of the morning are just amplifying it…the Heavy and the Light…

A lot has happened in my mothership market of Charlotte (and it’s surrounding areas) this week, even just this morning…the kind of things that make me want to gather the ones I love and hold them close…the kind of things that make me want to be held.

So much has been shared in our Heart Camp group this week and while we are there for whatever each of us may need, a lot of virtual hugs, love, light and peace for the hurting has been sent this week.

One of my best friends told me last night that she might be moving soon and even my wide eyed wanderer was saddened by that news…

But good things woke me this morning…something that was new a few weeks ago is hitting a comfort level that makes me smile, it’s my Grandmother’s 80th Birthday and she shares it with some pretty amazing people and as I type, the sun is coming out and lighting up my office.

 

It’s SO easy, almost too easy to let the Heavy things in life be our constant companions… This morning I am grateful for the trenches in which those that love us get in with us until we both find our way to something more hopeful.

We have to hold on to the Light, even if it’s a minute by minute refocusing…we have to fight for those moments that remind us that in all that, frankly, sucks in the world, we are the ones with the power to love, support and lift eachother out of the darkness.

Still do the things that bring you joy, even and perhaps especially in a Heavy season because we MUST continue to offset the balance…we have to.

 

Writing is one of the things that brings me joy and I am so glad I leaned into it this morning.

 

“Love is still the most powerful force on the planet” and I am sending it to you all today.

 

Happy Birthday Momaw Martha!

My Dream Trip ~ Ireland

For as long as I can remember, the emerald Isle of Ireland has called to me. From the rolling green hills, to the lively reels, the folk lore and magic to the welcome of the people, I have called Eire, my homeland.

It seemed only fitting that my first post in the Tookish Travels room of Wanderwood Lane, include THE trip of my dreams.

It was the Fall of 2013 and my two best gal pals and I were getting itchy to travel. At this point, between the 3 of us, we had probably taken a dozen weekend getaway trips together and we were looking for something a bit bigger.

I threw out my dream of Ireland, a dream my gals were very familiar with, and being that they both wanted to be with me when I finally saw my “homeland”, the decision was easy. We gave ourselves about 6 months to prepare and it was on!!!

At this point in time, I had only been on a plane a few times but handled the long flight very well!

We flew overnight, so when we landed in Dublin, we got our rental car and away we went (oh yeah, my friend Ashley drove) 😉

 

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There’s a longer story here but we made it all the way around the island with this Captain Ash

Our first few hours in Ireland were spent watching the scenery go by from the window of our Jetta BUT I wouldn’t have had it any other way. A few miles outside of the city and the country opens up beautifully…and I didn’t have to keep my eyes on the road, so they were plastered to the scenery!

 

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Northern Ireland

We pulled over for this view and it was the second, of many, times I was overcome with emotion. I was in the place I had loved from afar for so long and this view was one of the reasons why.

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Carrick A Rede rope bridge

Back then I wasn’t a big a fan of long walks as I am now, but the first thing we did when we were out of the car for longer than a minute was walk the mile and half down to cross this famous rope bridge…Now, at the time, my undiagnosed anxiety threw a million curves at me on any given day and I remember wanting this trip to catch some of them.

This was a test, for sure!

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The small island on the other side of the bridge! We made it!

Fun Fact: You can see a bit of Scotland from this side of the island! Pretty cool!

Once back across the bridge, we stopped in our first café and had what would become our late lunch of choice…the soup of the day, half a sandwich and a cup of tea.

From Carrick A Rede we drove on to one of the WONDERs of Ireland, Giant’s Causeway.

 

Awe had absolutely struck me at this point. Pulling up to this site is something you don’t even know you are doing. There is so much wide open, beautiful, countryside to see along the way, that sights like this become the icing on the cake!

 

We arrived in Portrush well after dinner time but found our B&B for the night without much trouble, had our first, SUPER tasty Guinness and fish/chips!! No photos, sadly, because it was so dark BUT we sat by the water and enjoyed gushing about our first day.

Our first B&B was Beluah Guest House and dinner was at 55 North

***thank goodness I still have my journal!!

The Irish breakfasts were easily a TOP favorite thing about the trip! My first morning meal was fresh fruit/juice/cheese followed by eggs/link sausage/bacon and coffee. It was delicious and filling (which would serve us very well budget wise, as we would find out).

 

 

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On the road again

 

One of the cool things about this trip was how loose our itinerary was. We planned first/last nights accommodations and a few major “must sees” and let the maps and books take us from there!

Day 2 we followed the signs, way off the path, but found a castle (this happens a lot in Ireland).

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Glenveagh Castle nestled in 10,000 acres of Glenveagh National Park

Before we took this detour, we were headed to Galway but honestly, I am so glad we got sidetracked. Touring a castle and it’s grounds with nothing but countryside around it is really something to behold.

Now, while our second night’s accomodations were a little difficult to come by, they were my favorite (and every single one of our hosts were fantastic).

Ross House, ran back then by Nicholas and Oriel was a lovely covnerted farmhouse in the town of Ross in Sligo. We were greeted warmly by Oriel who, even at 9pm, led us into the living room where Nicholas was sitting. She offered us the traditional tea and biscuits but also noted we hadn’t eaten supper so she made us a frozen pizza while Nicholas (in is tweed pants and wool sweater) told us stories. Minus the frozen pizza, this was the Ireland I was waiting for ❤

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Ross House Guest House

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I really hated to leave Nicholas and Oriel, so was very pleased when they invited us to attend church with them that morning. It’s the most memorable Easter Sunday I have had in a very long time. I, sadly, don’t have any photos of the old stone church but it was lovely!

 

As we did with Belfast, we popped in and out of Galway city. Ashley had heard about The Quays Bar, so we found it, had lunch and drove right back out! I’ll say this, once you get use to wide open, the cities can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have much time there!

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On the way to Doolin, our stop for the night, we passed THE castle I had purchased a photo of from a friend years earlier…so we had to stop and capture it too!

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It’s not a good a photo as Heather’s but it’s the same vantage point 🙂

Doolin was probably my favorite B&B location of the trip. The Ashford Lodge was set slightly uphill and facing Galway Bay. The view from our guestroom was spectacular!

We drove just down the hill to Fitzgerald’s Pub and had another incredible meal of she crab claws, seafood pie (like shephard’s pie only seafood) and boxty!!! Delish!!

Day 4, after another amazing breakfast, we took an early morning ferry to one of the Aran Islands. Inis Orr, which included a look at the cliff face of the Cliffs of Moher.

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All the houses are near the port
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Each house get a plot of land elsewhere on the island to farm
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We opted for a carriage ride to get around a bit faster
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This stone had to be busted up to create the walls for the plots of land
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Cliffs of Moher

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Cheese!!!

From Doolin, we drove onto a ferry and over to Tralee, where we got to Maureen’s B&B in plenty of time to be warmly greeted by John and Maureen, freshen up and get directions to a place to have dinner.

 

At this point in the journey we get even sadder to leave so quickly because we realized that Irish hospitality really shines after you’ve finished breakfast and the host(s) come in a visit with you for a while. We just start getting to know then when we have to leave 😦

From Tralee we head and explore the Dingle Peninsula.

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Dingle is lovely! After walking a few blocks, getting some locally famous ice cream and shopping a bit, we drove around the rest of the area, which being seaside, is a beautiful as you can imagine.

I think I should tell you here that we were told all week that Ireland was having an unseasonably rainless week that week. This was one of the only days it was even overcast and that didn’t last long! We were blessed!

 

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We pulled in to Wayside the earliest we had made it anywhere, yet, at about 5:30 and were excited to get a lay of the land, freshen up and head to dinner.

Theresa was a wonderful hostess and came out the patio with tea, local maps and a few recommendations for a meal!

Wayside is situated just before the Gap of Dunloe and at it’s entry is a little square that had both a pub and a café. We got dressed up and enjoyed an evening with a slower pace and some live music!

The next morning, after a huge breakfast, we hiked one of the trails in the Gap, where it rained on us for the first time, and then followed the hike up with a BLT/soup and cup of tea at The Coffee Pot.

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Gap of Dunloe
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Worth the climb and the rain
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The Coffee Pot

We finished the day off with a drive around the Ring of Kerry, which sadly, we didn’t have time to get out and explore much of BUT it was another beautiful drive and this time we could see the surf and a few golf courses along the way!

 

Day 6 ended at Mount View B&B in Cobh, where we, again, pulled in early enough to freshen up and take a lovely walk to dinner, along the port.

I think this is the only dinner where we opted for a Malbec instead of more stout! As with ALL the rest of the cuisine, it was delicious.

 

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It’s Day 7 and after another, truly lovely, chat with our hostess Noureen, we headed for a morning of shopping in the city of Cork.

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Cork is a shoppers paradise. There are streets and alleys full of unique shops and stores.

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My first tattoo experience EVER

And by mid-day (and mid-trip), I had talked about getting a tattoo so much that my friends challenged me to go into the next parlor we passed or stop talking about it!!!

You see which one I chose and I do not regret it because I would have never done it otherwise and I now have 4, very special, tattoos!!

*****

Sadly, the rest of the trip is a bit of a whirlwind! I think it took us about 5 hours to get to our last accommodation, in Swordes, just above Dublin, and we got there just as our host family was pulling out for dinner. Luckily, we were still early enough to wander down the street and find one last pub to eat at. We sat along the wall and enjoyed one last pint and fish/chips before we fell into bed…

We had to be up earlier than they served breakfast the next morning but thankfully and kindly, Sharon had made us up a basket of goodies for the road!!

 

There is SO much I left out but the important stuff is all here and in my heart. So many times in my journal, I remark on the gratitude of finally getting to make it to Ireland and for being able to share it with my friends.

And I’ll tell you one more thing…not only are we still friends, great friends…we’ve been on many more adventures together! Stay tuned!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February’s Tangled Web

As I mentioned in the last post of Turn the Page, reading really hit a lull for a few weeks.

I am a true believer in everything that happens is trying to teach me something. February not only came/went too quickly, it had more than it’s fair share of challenges (lessons).

My take away was (as obvious as this may be to most) that no matter how enthusiastic the goal, I have to WANT to read what I am attempting to read.

Choosing an Austen after a memoir probably wasn’t the best choice. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her, but let’s face it, my head & heart have to be in the same place to fully enjoy it.

So, instead of throwing in the towel, I spent two weeks trying to get myself into it…

…it turned out like the photo below…less than stellar…

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Needing to save February from a big old goose egg, I turned to one author I knew would get me back in the swing of things…Gail Z. Martin

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Gail is one of my favorite authors and with countless (ok, I could count if I wanted to but I don’t 😉 ) books in a half dozen worlds, there is always something from her I can add to my TBR pile!

To save my February reads, I chose…

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Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curios shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them and along with her business partners Teag, who has Weaver magic and Sorren, a 600-year-old vampire, they get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.

When zombies rise in Charleston cemeteries, dead men fall from the sky, and the whole city succumbs to the “grouch flu,” Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren suspect a vengeful dark witch who is gunning for Teag and planning to unleash an ancient horror. Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren—and all their supernatural allies—will need magic, cunning, and the help of a Viking demi-goddess to survive the battle with a malicious Weaver-witch and an ancient Norse warlock to keep Charleston—and the whole East Coast—from becoming the prey of the Master of the Hunt.

Tangled Web is the third book in the Deadly Curiosities series and though I can’t pick a favorite just yet, this one is very close to the top. Teag is a character I have grown very fond of. The idea of weaver magic intrigues me and I have been anxious for more of it in a story…Boy did I get it.

The familiarity of setting with this series helps me to really immerse myself in the story and Tangled Web is no different. As the cover suggests, the team has to deal with horses, both living and undead, and the case briefly takes them to Aiken, SC. This was a welcome and pleasant surprise as I have a cousin that lives in Aiken and I have seen how big the area is on all things horses!

One of the things I appreciate most about Gail is her attention to detail when it comes to coming up with both friend and foe in this series. It would take me a while to name every ally/villain but suffice it to say that I have wanted to learn more about the ‘old ways’ of multiple people groups because of her work in Deadly Curiosities. 

Tangled Web was indeed the perfect choice to spur me into my March reads and I am so happy I chose it!

 

About the Author

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Gail Z. Martin is the author of Scourge: A Darkhurst Novel, from Solaris Books. Gail is also the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel and Trifles and Folly 1: A Deadly Curiosities Collection, the latest in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC; Shadow and Flame is the fourth book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga; The Shadowed Path (The first Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures collection), as well as Iron and Blood a Steampunk series, and Spells, Salt, & Steel, both co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities and Tangled Web. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Gail’s work has appeared in over 35 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Journeys, Hath no Fury and A Haven Harbor Halloween.

You can also find Gail on: Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin

January Friends

Yes, January was two months ago, I know, but I have to complete postings…even if they are past due 😉

When I started the month I was SO excited to meet my reading goal. If you will remember I set myself up for 4 reads…

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After The Time of My Life I decided to go with the classic Sense and Sensibility because I thought I would make short work of the two short books while I was in Orlando for Heart Camp, come back, and round out the month with the last one…WRONG

The first few pages were a breeze and I enjoyed the banter between the characters but then I began to lose steam. I could blame it on always reading from my bed and getting sleepy but the truth is I was use to the story and at that moment in time, I took for granted knowing it and hit a snail’s pace making my way through it.

I didn’t read at all in Orlando as it turns out…BUT, I did listen to an audiobook that saved me from only completing one book in January.

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Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy was a delightful listen that kept me great company on my 16hr (round trip) drive to Orlando.

Tourists enter the hilltop tavern, alone and in pairs, for a casual lunch. But a sudden tragedy in the harbor below causes these perfect strangers to become unlikely friends as their lives begin to entwine…

Fiona left her nursing career in Ireland to be with the man everyone thinks is wrong for her. Elsa fled Germany and her high-powered television job once she learned what the man she loved was hiding from her. Thomas mourns his failed marriage and misses his young son in California, while David yearns to reconcile with his family in England without having to go into the family business. Chance has brought them together, and together they will find new ways of looking at the lives they left behind.

The narration of this story was brilliant. I don’t think I have every wanted to go to Greece, England, Ireland and Germany simultaneously before..but I do now!

I haven’t had the courage to travel solo yet but stories like this, fiction though it may be, give me hope that I will someday and that hopefully I will find good people, like the ones in this story, from all over the world, and become friends with them.

Nights of Rain and Stars is filled with charm, wit, great imagery, emotion and a little intrigue. It was a good introduction to MB and a good choice for a solo road trip.

Though possibly not and audiobook, I will be reading more from Binchy in the future!

 

Now, on to February! Happy page turning!

The first 4 miles of 2019

Whew,

I don’t know about you but January and February have really gotten away from me.

When I did the math a few months ago, I realized that 8(ish) miles per month would help me reach the #nc100mileschallenge goal with, almost, no issues.

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Well, here I am, a few days away from March…looking at only one trail so far…

BUT…

I am still hopeful I’ll meet the goal and so I want you to see where I started this year.

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Lake Norman State Park found me a couple of years ago, when I was first introduced to the challenge and at only about 45min away, it’s quickly become my go to for a morning outdoors.

The Lake Shore Trail provides several miles of hilly terrain, great for a cardio boosts and a multiple views of Lake Norman itself. If you catch it early enough, it’s nice and quiet out there.

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I have been blessed to have my Dad along with me for the past three times I’ve come here. We usually start early, with a big breakfast and hope to complete at least half the trail within an hour and some change.

Hiking with my Dad is great because he helps me hike at a good pace which helps me with conditioning for more intense hikes in the future.

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I’ve done the entire (almost 7 miles) of Lake Shore in the beginning of June the first time I’d set foot on the trail and totally exhausted myself (I mean calling on angels exhausted) so I am a little scared to go for it all BUT I am working toward it.

 

Mornings are my favorite time to hike this trail because I can catch it before it gets too warm AND there are these amazing spots where the trail goes, almost, right to the water.

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This creates the perfect spot to catch your breath and/or a selfie 😉

 

Lake Norman State Park is where I decided I’d start adding park pins to my collection and so it holds a near and dear place in my heart and on my trail hat (courtesy of The Trek).

 

Until the next mileage update, Happy Trails!