It's That Time of Year

If it was a normal year we would be on a hot beach somewhere soaking up the sun.. but this has been no normal year..

We are keeping spirits high though.. the snow filled past week really help amp up the joy.

We have a slopping backyard which comes in really handy when it snows.. we had some neighborhood kids stop by and sled down as well.

Keeping with the holiday spirit we decided to make cookie decorating kits for our friends and neighbors. I baked over sixty sugar cookies, packed little baggies of sprinkles and made colorful icing.. I had a bunch of pastel food coloring so our icing looks less Christmasy and more Easterish. 

I'm going to be taking a blogging break for the rest of the year.. I wish you all a very Happy Holiday and New Year. 
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Reading lately

So I am currently reading my 25th book of the year.. that is a record for me, post children. Covid and being stuck at home obviously had a lot to do with it. 

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

Synopsis - Winnie and Helen have kept each other's worst secrets for more than fifty years. Now, because she believes she is dying, Helen wants to expose everything. And Winnie angrily determines that she must be the one to tell her daughter, Pearl, about the past—including the terrible truth even Helen does not know. And so begins Winnie's story of her life on a small island outside Shanghai in the 1920s, and other places in China during World War II, and traces the happy and desperate events that led to Winnie's coming to America in 1949.

Thoughts - This wasn't a really long book.. but sometimes it felt really long. Based in China during and before World War II it was not always fun to read about all the horrors people have to live through during war. But add all the injustices women have to suffer through just because they are women made me so angry and sad. Historically, I did not know anything about China's role in the World War so I learned a little.. but mostly the book was about one woman's journey from a unloved chilhood to an abusive marriage to finally migrating to America, where until a few years ago this was a land of opportunity, a home to people of all colors, races and walks of life. I did not love or hate this book.. it was a good read and Winnie was a colorful narrator, I could imagine her as many eldery relatives of my own.  

5th Horseman by James Patterson

5th Horseman by James Patternson and Maxine Paetro

Synopsis - It is a wild race against time as Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer and the newest member of the Women's Murder Club, attorney Yuki Castellano, lead an investigation into a string of mysterious patient deaths--and reveal a hospital administration determined to shield its reputation at all costs. And while the hospital wages an explosive court battle that grips the entire nation, the Women's Murder Club hunts for a merciless killer among its esteemed medical staff.  

Thoughts - This is my 5th in the Women's Murder Club series. I liked the idea of all these strong women at the top of their fields solving crime. They killed off some major characters in the earlier books made the books less predictable but I'm not so sure anymore. They don't compare to Karin Slaughter's crime thrillers, there are a lot more tame and that is probably the problem. I don't think I will continue with the series. They are easy reads though, something to read between more intense reads. 

All That Glitters by Gita Trelease

All that Glitters by Gita Trelease

Synopsis - Paris is a labryinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t...When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome younge inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality of magic—before Paris burns.

Thoughts - This was such a fun read. It had a bit of everything, Paris, magic and love. It was a perfect escapist read. 

My to read pile for next year is already quite tall.. new reads are always sneaking there way in and the pile never gets any shorter which brings a smile to my face. I buy books for the kids but I mostly use paperbackswap.com or bookmooch.com (a new discovery) to swap books and I have been lucky with goodreads giveaways and have managed to win quite a few. 

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The Happiest People...

So.. we had a little Covid scare last week. We found out M who barely leaves the house except to go play cricket once a week in an outdoor field with some friend came into contact with someone who tested positive. Someone who decided to keep it a secret for a week and not tell anyone until another aqcuaintace sussed it out of him. And now everyone at the cricket game and all their families had a bit of a freak out. We cancelled everything.. had our groceries delivered and didn't leave the house till thankfully we got the negative result. But how infuriating.. some people.. argh.

And with the cases on the rise again the kids have gone back to virtual school.. and yet with the kids staying home we get regular emails informing us of students still testing positive.. what? how? Well I'll tell you how.. we had to go to the mall over the weekend.. and I say had to because we needed to return on online purchase and JC Penny has gotten with the program yet and makes you pay to ship returns. And to our shock and surprise the mall was full!The food courts were full. The last time I had ventured into the mall you could get food but couldn't sit down to eat.. not anymore.. there were people everywhere.. noses poping out of every other persons mask... argh. We just wanted to turn around and run out. I just can't.

So I need a major Monday pick me up, but these will just have to do.. plus a lot of coffee. My current Pinterest feed is overflowing with these beautiful and uplifting quotes. So I thought I'd share a few.

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How was everyones holiday? We spent four days doing nothing. Well actually they spent 4 marvelous days doing nothing.. I did what I have been doing since March, cooked, cleaned and was surrounded by my boys. While the holidays and long weekend were about getting some of that much needed family time, the pandemic has given us all loads and loads of family time.. I wouldn't mind some un family time right about now. Me, in the house by myself.. that would really be something. I am not trying to be negative.. everyone is ussually doing there own thing.. not exactly bugging me or anything but you get what I mean right?

I loved not having an alarm.. we woke up when we woke up, which is still queit early.. but then lazed about, made lots of pancakes and waffles and drank plenty of coffee.. earlier this year we started making pour over coffee and it is the best. One day the kids decided to make breakfast.. M chipped in to help but the boys hardly needed any. I am really really trying to teach them some basic kitchen skills, H is all up for it, wants to be a chef when he grows up. D not as enthused but he can make an egg. M on the other hand does not have a single cooking bone in his body. 

D was much more interested in the monetary side of things and decided to charge us for the so called sweet gesture!

We watched a bunch of Christmas movies and played board games and that was pretty much it. 
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Friday Photography

Photograph Bright Blue Book Box Free Library in Notting Hill London

Vertical Art Print Bibliophile Home Decor

Photograph Bright Blue Book Box Free Library

The Book Box - A lovely blue Book Box - Free Library found in the streets of Notting Hill, London. Read more about our trip to London here.

You can buy this print here. Get Free Shipping with code BLOGGER

Prints also available in larger sizes. Contact for more information and special requests.

I am open to wholesale and licensing opportunities. Get in touch for more information.

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I've been a little off these past couple of weeks.. the days seem to be speeding by. I haven't been sleeping well.. and the days just seems to be blurring together. I feel uninspired and unmotivated. Not to say nothing has been happening.. life still goes on. 

We have of course been reading.. D is reading The Mysterious Benedict Society and H is attempting to read The One and Only Bob, he still needs help with some of the words. We finished the first Harry Potter book and have now started the second one. Over the last few weeks we also watched a lot of movies based on books. We watched the first Harry Potter movie, The One and Only Ivan and Wonder. When asked, the answer was unanimous, the books were better than the movie. Hands down. The boys preferred the way they had imagined things, the movies skipped so many parts.. 

The weather has been all over the place.. and we are making the most of all the warm days that are popping up. In fact we even had an impromptu photo session one day. 

 It was perfect timing because the next day it rained and the wind blew all the leaves away. 

I had a few recipe fails this week.. a cheesecake that didn't set, kebabs that were too dry.. but some hits as well. I had some leftover pizza dough and tried my hand at some money bread.. it was delectable.. so so unhealthy yet so good. M and I had to restrain ourselves to only one piece each, the kids devoured it and ate whatever was left for breakfast. 

and I make this chocolate banana bread often, though I make it in the form of muffins. I added some peanut butter to half.. we loved the peanut butter addition though M preferred chocolate only. 

The longer nights and cooler days gives us more time to indulge in our sweet tooth and we really must control ourselves but everywhere I look there are more dessert recipes just waiting to be tried out. 

Wishing my fellow American's a Happy Thanksgiving.. stay safe everyone. We usually have a friendsgiving but with two of our friends being pregnant we will most likely do nothing.. I anticipate lots of eating, watching movies, board games and maybe some sleep. 
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Friday Photography

Mollestien street in Aarhus, Denmark

Framed Art Work

Photography Home Decor

Mollestien - Little houses, rose bushes and cobblestone streets found on the charming Mollestien street in Aarhus, Denmark. Read more about our trip to Aarhus here.

You can buy this print here. Get Free Shipping with code BLOGGER

Prints also available in larger sizes. Contact for more information and special requests.

I am open to wholesale and licensing opportunities. Get in touch for more information.   

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We Did It!

Wow.. what a week. I'm sure I'm not the only one when I say that I have been an emotional wreck. I have cried many tears of happiness.. for a second there on Tuesday night I had the same apprehension I had four years ago.. but we did it! 

This beautiful video of CNN contributor Van Jones pretty much sums up how we (those who voted blue) all feel right now.. video. It's been making rounds over social media but if you haven't seen it please do.. and grab a few tissues. 

The boys didn't have school this week so they were also just as tuned into the election process as we were.. the first thing they would do when they would wake up in the morning was ask Alexa who won.
They learned a lot from watching it all unfold. They learned about the electoral college, they learned about the importance of democracy and why we needed to count every vote. They heard President Elect Joe Biden address the nation and noticed how he spoke about hope, unity and bringing people together and now they are seeing how our current President is dealing with loss.. ungracefully.  
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Halloween Covid Edition

How was everyone's Halloweens? We are big on Halloween.. it's the one holiday we properly celebrate.. we host a party every year.. here's last years shenanigan's. We dress up.. nothing over the top but we do a little something.. we decorate the house.. go trick or treating.. 

This year everything was a little different.. no party for one. :( 
While the kids are going to school in person for a couple of days a week the school decided that Halloween would be celebrated on the day everyone is virtual. I convinced the boys to opt for low key costumes.. we bought these scar tattoos from Target last year for M's costume and had plenty to spare add a knife through the head and voila.

They had their virtual parties on Zoom. It a good thing kids are easy to please. 

We decorated the outside of the house.. we add a little every year. Its a mix of store bought and DIY. The bats and black webs are hand cut

We opted against Trick or Treating.. but a neighbor invited the kids over for an outdoor magic show so we went.

All the parents handed out goody bags for the kids.. and the host had scattered bags of candy in their backyard.. and we came home with far more candy then we had expected.

We too had set up a candy table for our trick or treaters.. When we came back we had two little candies remaining.. I restocked the table for the night time trick or treaters but no one else came.. 

All in all not really a bad Halloween. 

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Friday Photography

Freetown Christiania Photograph

Framed photograph

Freetown ChristianiaTaken in Freetown Christiania, an intentional community and anarchist commune of about 850 to 1,000 residents in Copenhagen, Denmark. Read more about our trip to Copenhagen here.

You can buy this print here. Get Free Shipping with code BLOGGER

Prints also available in larger sizes. Contact for more information and special requests.

I am open to wholesale and licensing opportunities. Get in touch for more information.       
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Reading lately

Where the Crawdad Sings

Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens

Synopsis - For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.
But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

Thoughts - This was such a beautiful story. A coming of age tale of being abandoned, loneliness and survival. I really can't say much more. It's a must read for sure. Kya is a character we should only be able to meet and love. 

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons

Synopsis - Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.
Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of color and sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, pizza parties.
Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead. But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?       

Thoughts - This was a perfectly fine book. I was pulled in by that characters name, how unique and beautiful is Eudora Honeysett. But it reminded me too much of The Love Story of Missy Carmichael and other books that follow the grumpy old person keeps to themselves and then they meet someone who reintroduces them to the joy of living. I will say Eudora had a better back story than Missy. So if you must choose between the two I might lean towards Eudora a smidge more. I have decided to steer clear of such books for a while.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Synopsis - Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case that unleashes the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried forever…

Thoughts - This is my 8th Karin Slaughter book. There is no other author I have read this much. This is the first book I have read of hers that was not part of the Will Trent series. She is the master of horrific crimes, she was aptly named, yes that is her real name. But this is the first book of hers where there wasn't a ticking clock to solve the crime. The crime was already committed and the book deals with the affects it has on a family, how it shapes your life. And then what happens when another horrific crime takes place so close to home.. While I missed the ticking clock aspect of her books.. I still really enjoyed this one. It was more character driven and I liked almost all of the main characters.

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Autumn in the Berkshires

Last weekend was a long weekend..we took Friday off as well and went to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. On Friday we drove up to North Adams. We had lunch at A-OK BBQ. It was so so good. The kids had mac and cheese while M and I had the pulled chicken sandwiches.

A OK BBQ North Adams Massachusetts

We walked around the area.. discovered a gorgeous shop called Roam selling goods made by African villagers and craftsmen. The Mass MOCA Museum is also located there, unfortunately we could not stop in for a visit :( Before heading out we grabbed coffee and the boys ice cream from Tunnel City Coffee. 

Our next stop was Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts. The internet informed me that hiking to the summit with small children was not easy so we decided to drive right up to the summit. 

Mount Greylock Massachusetts

While on Greylock we decided to hike to Stony Ledge, a rocky outcropping offering scenic vistas of the Greylock mountain range. Google said it was a 30 minute walk to the vista point.. but it took us much longer.. the hike was less a hike and more a walk on an unpaved road covered with leaves.. it didn't have enough 'adventure' H complained. But the view almost made it worth it.

Berkshires Massachusetts

Stony Ledge Greylock Mountain

Tired.. we finally made our way to our hotel. We stopped on the way to pick up a pizza from Betty's Pizza Shack in Lenox, which was also very good and ate it in our room. 

We went back and forth about renting a place via VRBO again or staying in a hotel and went with the hotel because it is easier to cancel if things like the weather or a peak in the virus happen and we decide not to go. It was our first time in a hotel since Covid and I don't think we would do it again for the time being. There was no temperature check, they didn't ask us which state we were from.. what if we had needed quarantining? We filled out the basic form stating we hadn't been in contact with anyone with Covid etc. There was no maid service, they just placed towels or anything else you may need outside the door, which was a good thing. Breakfast was coffee and pre packaged baked goods and fruit also a good safety measure. But there were just so many people and variables.. 

On Saturday we had breakfast in Lee at the Starving Artist Cafe and Creperie. Nom nom.. my pumpkin crepe was delicious. 

starving artist cafe and creperie

After breakfast we walked around the town for a bit.. they had a small farmers market.. the weather was nice and sunny. 

Our next stop was the town of Stockbridge. We started by hiking the Ice Glen, a lush ravine with a lot of boulders. Because it gets very little direct sunlight there is ice present in the crevices of the rocks even in summer. We didn't see any ice but it was definitely much cooler in the glen. This was one of our favorite hikes for the trip. Lots of rocks to climb over. 

Ice Glen Stockbridge

Stockbridge Massachusetts

The Ice Glen hike continued on to Laura's Tower hike. The tower was a bit of a let down. The trees surrounding it were so tall and over grown there was no view. We headed back to the town and had some lunch at the Main Street Cafe and then walked around for a bit. Fortunately we happened across Peace Love and Chocolate and bought a few chocolates. 

A note on our fellow hikers.. everyone was very courteous. A majority of people masked up when they approached each other, many stopped to give way or moved to the other side. Never did it feel over crowded or unsafe. We were surprised by the number of people saying hi as they passed.. can't see smiles so I suppose verbal greetings were used to show friendliness. Solidarity. 

We refrained from eating our newly purchased chocolates and instead drove down to Great Barrington to try out Massachusetts' best ice cream, SoCo Creamery. M is very rarely impressed by ice cream, he was so in love with this ice cream we stopped in again to get some more ice cream the very next day. 

SoCo Creamery Great Barrington

Next we headed toward Monument Mountain Reservation. There were three paths to choose from. We started on the blue Indian Monument Trail which was relatively flat and boring.. then connected to the red Squawk Peak trail. The red trail was our favorite.. a must do, had lots of rocks and boulders for the kids to climb and beautiful view points which honestly made us a little nervous because my little guy thinks he's a super hiker and can wander off to the edge of cliffs. 

Monument Mountain Great Barrington

Autumn in the Berkshires

We made our way down via the orange Hickey trail.. not a favorite. It was incredibly steep and dark. We headed back to the main downtown area of Great Barrington to find some food. While there were plenty of outdoor options there was not a lot of availability being a Saturday night. After waiting a long long time we finally got our food. We ordered from Fiesta Bar and Grill. It was starting to get cold, we were hungry and tired. I'm not sure what we ate but we ate, no one talked or complained.. we devoured, drove back to the hotel and crawled into bed. Ah sleep.

Sunday we had planned on driving a part of the Mohawk Trail. The Mohawk Trail began as a Native American trade route which connected Atlantic tribes with tribes in Upstate New York and beyond. We stared the trail from the town of Shelburne Falls. 

We had breakfast at Foxtown Diner.. walked around, perused the shops. Shelburne Falls is also home to the bridge of flowers. Initially a trolley bridge.. eventually a new bridge was needed to be built but this one could not be demolished due to it also housing a water main. Hence, it remained abandoned and home to overgrown weeds. In 1929 a local housewife decided to turn it into a garden. The Shelburne Women's Club raised the money and voila!

Shelburne Falls Mohawk Trail

Bridge of Flowers Shelburne Falls

Unfortunately, the bridge was closed due to Covid but it was still pretty. Just a walk away were also the Glacial Potholes. There are up to 50 glacial potholes, a result of the last glacial age and the magic of erosion.

They were much prettier in person and up till 2002 they were open to the public to take a cool soak on a muggy New England day. 

And then we were on our way.. turns out the Mohawk trail aka Route 2.. all 30 miles that we drove on looked like any other New England road with lovely orange, yellow and red leaves. Which gets a little repetitive after a while. I had imagined a pretty road with an occasional coffee shop or eatery.. some shops.. but there was nothing of the sort except if you count the one tacky Native American themed store. Luckily we drove by the Hicks Family Farm. The kids wanted to do the corn maze. And I must say this was one of the best corn mazes we have ever done. 

Hick's Family Farm

Hick's Family Farm Corn Maze

There was a scavenger hunt and scenes from Wizard of Oz, Alice and Wonderland etc were scattered throughout the maze. We were impressed by the amount of thought and effort that was put into it. There was a petting zoo and other activities as well. The boys both got baby pumpkins after they turned in their scavenger hunts. 

Next we stopped at the Mohawk State Park. It is a camping spot.. we didn't hike any of the trails but we stretched our legs along the river bed. 

Mohawk State Park

There was nowhere to eat along the Mohawk Trail.. except the Golden Eagle. They had the perfect location on the corner of a hair pin turn. With nothing else available for miles one doesn't really have much of a choice but to eat there or not eat at all. Plus bathroom for customers only. Since they are the only choice quality of food is not really their top priority. But the view was incredible. 

Hairpin turn along Mohawk Trail

Our last stop along the Mohawk Trail was the Natural Bridge State Park. Named for its natural bridge of white marble, unique in North America. The bedrock marble from which the natural bridge was created is estimated to be some 550 million years old. Water from glacial runoff began carving the arch after the last Ice Age 13,000 years ago.

Natural Bridge State Park

Natural Bridge State Park

We drove back down to Great Barrington for dinner. Some delish Thai food and topped it off with some more ice cream from SoCo Creamery.. it was that good!

Monday we checked out ready to head back home. We had breakfast at On a Roll Cafe and then swung by the chocolate shop next door, Chocolate Springs Cafe and bought some more chocolates!

Chocolate Springs Cafe Lenox

It was a refreshing little getaway.. since there will be no sitting in planes this year we are going to try do do more of these local getaways.. though it may be harder when the temps start to drop. We were blessed with good weather all three days we were there and then it rained all the way home.. phew. 

Autumn in the Berkshires

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