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Burdens . . . just the sound of the word can evoke a feeling of stress within me.  How about you?

More and more these days’ people express feelings of being too busy, too stressed, and yep, too burdened. Though we all experience burdens from a unique variety of circumstances, the feelings we carry are known by all.

The journey I am inviting you on, is to take time to experience and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. To break free of the routines we have created for ourselves and try new things, to see life from a different perspective. I believe that in doing so, the burdens we carry will be a wee bit lighter and happiness will spill over us. Would you like to join me?


Dining Options

Exploring was the goal last weekend!  One of my daughters and I traveled to Old Towne Orange.  This was a place that I visited when I was much younger and lived near it, but it’s been many years since I’ve been there.  In fact, back in that day, we use to simply call it The Orange Circle.  We called it this because of the circle, round-about road in the center of the intersection.


When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see that this quaint, old towne has been well taken care of.  The buildings were beautiful with stores full of interesting things.  If you enjoy antique shopping this is definitely a place to visit.  Even if your not into antique shops, you would probably be entertained walking around a few stores to see some unique items.


After walking around a wee bit, we decided it was time to eat.  There were many cute places to pick from to eat.  We decided upon Watson’s Drug and Soda Fountain.  It’s an original location for the 50’s style drug store and soda fountain.  It has evolved into more of a restaurant and bakery, with a small gift area than a drug store.  However, it still has the soda fountain counter to sit at.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch together.


Visiting Old Towne Orange reminded me to look out past my usual dining options and to try new places.  There are many small diners in this area, each with their own special ambience.  Definitely a fun place to go back to.


Maybe you have some little diner type restaurants where you live.  What do you enjoy most about them?  Maybe a certain dish?  Maybe relationships you have built by repeated visits?  I’d love to hear about your favorite dining options.


Photography Time

SAM_5462I’ve miss you since I’ve been off my blog the past few months.  It’s great to be back.  Though I haven’t been posting, I’ve been thinking about my blog and how I want to grow with it.  So I am going to add a category for photography.

I’m pretty excited about this, however, I first need to state the facts for you.  I am just a regular person with a simple digital camera.  I have no formal or informal photography training.  I just know that I like to take pictures and it is something I am interested in learning more about.  Thus adding photography to my blog will encourage me to move in that direction and provide a place for me to share my pictures.  I hope you enjoy!

To get us started, here are just a couple of pictures I took today of some fall leaves lingering around on some trees.  I love the fall colors displayed in front of the pretty blue sky.


Time to Rock


The Experience

A slightly cool breeze brushes my face as the evening sun sets. The energy of people surround me as I waited for the show to begin. It was a Friday evening at my local shopping mall. During the summer months they have free concerts for the community. My husband and I decided we would try something new this week and attend the Fan Halen concert. They are a tribute band to the actual band Van Halen.


As we arrived for the concert, I was amazed at the sheer number of people that had gathered. It was packed. People brought camping chairs, beach chairs, and blankets to sit on. Others just simply sat on the ground. As for my husband and I we didn’t bring anything to sit on (our first time), however, we were fortunate that a planter seat opened up as we were walking by so we had a lovely, comfortable view.


When the band started playing, they were able to engage the audience and the excitement grew. Everyone enjoyed listening to favorite Van Halen songs played by Fan Halen. People joined in singing, clapping and even a few people danced through the whole concert.   What a fun time!


The Thoughts

The band Fan Halen was excellent and I would highly recommend seeing them in concert. They stated that their band was formed because they were all “fans” of Van Halen, thus their name Fan Halen. The songs they chose were enjoyed by everyone and they were “fan”tastic (I couldn’t help that one – ha, ha, ha) with their stage performance.

For me personally, I often see the articles and advertisements for these local, free, tribute band concerts. I’ve never felt drawn to attend one. Now that I have though, I will definitely plan to attend again. The crowd was energetic, the band was talented and best of all, it didn’t cost me a dime.


It had been a particularly hectic day at work for me and I was very tired. I really just wanted to stay home and relax. I sure was happy I didn’t give into that temptation. After the concert, I felt refreshed. All of the craziness of the work day had been forgotten. It was like having a mini-vacation in my own town.


The Question

Have you ever thought about attending a tribute band concert in your community or one nearby? I highly recommend it. There are talented musicians eager to share their music with an audience. It supports them and gives a new experience to you. How about it?

The Crafty Experience


The Experience

I found myself wandering through my local arts and craft store, wondering, what would be a fun “young craft” that I could do for my Walk Lightly Smile Often experience this week. My eyes moved up and down through the shelves, looking for a craft kit that would remind me of my younger, much younger years. There it was hanging on a hook right in front of me. It was a weaving loom. This week I am going to embrace my childhood and weave a hot pad.

The Thoughts

In opening my loom package, I was greeted with all the colorful stretchy fabric pieces. I remember being fascinated by these as a child. They were soft, stretchy and fun to shoot like a rubber band. I dug deeper into the package and found the loom, hook and the directions.


I glanced at the directions, which came in several different languages. Luckily the steps were fairly simple and there were only three of them. That’s what I like, simple and concise directions.


I decided upon my color choices and began attaching the fabric loops to the loom. This we fun!


Next step was to begin weaving the fabric loops on the opposite sides of the loom. I read the directions (which didn’t seem so simple now) and tried to follow them as best as I could. However, I couldn’t figure out how to attach the loop to the hook so that it would stay as I wove the loops through the base.


After a little frustration, I decided to look for a video on You Tube (resourceful don’t you think), so that I could see how it was done. I enjoy seeing things when learning something, more so than reading directions on paper. Sure enough I found a young girl who posted a how-to video. She did such a wonderful job and “showed” me an easier way to weave . . . with my fingers. It was much better then messing with the hook.


With the weaving done, I now needed to remove the hot pad from the loom by finishing the edges. This was simple because I saw what the young girl had done on the You Tube video. Yes, I did peek ahead and watch the whole lesson on making the hot pad . . . wouldn’t you?


Now my hot pad was done. Not bad I’d say.


Since I had so many of those intriguing fabric loops left, I decided to go ahead and make another one right away. After all, who knows when I might weave on a loom again?


The enjoyment from weaving came from remembering something I had done as a child and from stepping out of the adult rut that I can find myself in, to do something different. Was this life changing, not particularly in and of itself? But I believe that life is grown and changed through the small steps and decisions in life. When I see these hot pads, they will serve to remind me to always stretch myself and embrace the little things in life

The Question

What do you remember doing and enjoying as a child? Maybe it was painting, building with Popsicle sticks, or sand art? Possibly it could have been clay kits, stain glass crafts, wood burning or mosaics?

Take a moment and think back to your younger years. What could be something that you would like to experience again? Stop by your local craft store and wander the isles and see what you can find. You may feel a wee bit silly, as did I, when starting your experience. But the gift of the experience, is the involvement with stepping out of everyday living and “playing” just for a moment. What would you like to experience again?


Life Through A Lens


The Experience

Last week my family and I were vacationing in beautiful South Lake Tahoe, California. It’s one of our favorite places to go as a family. As you drive down the highway in Lake Tahoe, you can’t help but be inspired by the green pine trees, clear sky and vibrant blue water.


With this in mind, I decided that I would take an afternoon and be a nature photographer for my Walk Lightly Smile Often adventure this week. Yes, I know I don’t have the fancy, expensive equipment necessary to be a professional photographer, but since this is just for you and I, I don’t think either one of us will mind if I pretend.


The Thoughts

On this particular afternoon the sky was grey as a threatening thundercloud was moving in. I didn’t mind though as it made the temperature pleasant for the hike.


Off I went. Down, down, down the path of the Rainbow Trail. There were tall trees, shrubs, wild flowers, insects and even some wild life. The wind caused the leaves and branches to work together to create such a relaxing sound for my journey.


Though I am a novice when it comes to photography and I’m just using a point and shoot digital camera, I had fun being a nature photographer for this brief period of time. The thought crossed my mind . . . wouldn’t it be inspiring to do this as a career.


I was intrigued by the paths on the trail. They remind me that in life we are always on a path to somewhere or something. Some paths are straight. Some paths are curvy. Some are short, while others are long. Life is like that. I took quite a few pictures of the path I was on.


Normally I would just walk on this trail, casually observing the things around me. However, being the nature photographer that I was that day, I slowed down and noticed the sights of where I was.


I decide what angle I wanted to take my picture from. I noticed the background of my pictures. Even though I was looking through a small screen on my camera, I saw a lot more of the larger picture of my trail. Again, pretty similar to our walk through life.


It was fascinating when the thundercloud decided to open and drop some rain on the ground, and my head. Now the windy trees and shrubs had an accompanist from the raindrops. I couldn’t help but think of the song from the movie Bambi called, “Little April Showers” (you can look it up on YouTube if you wish). A smile came over my face with that thought. I was able to capture some of those raindrops on the surface of a stream. Pretty fun!


Notice the frog in the water.


I had a delightful time on my hike capturing all the pictures I could from this beautiful place. My experience has made me wonder if possibly I might like to learn more about photography as a hobby. I know there is a wide variety of resources available for a novice like myself. I think I will look into it.


The Question

Well, it’s time for you now. Do you want to take your camera and go somewhere and take a lot of picture? Not just 5 or so. Pretend that you are a professional photographer and see where you are at, through the eye of your camera.


Take multiple pictures of many things. You will be amazed at how the slightest change in position, or zooming in or out, can totally change the outcome of the photograph. Have fun! Play! And most of all, enjoy your journey through life, trying something a wee bit different. When you experience this, you will be seeing life through a different lens.


Jump . . . It’s Basketball Time



The Experience

I’ve always enjoyed watching basketball games. Not that I’m a loyal fan of any particular team, I just like the constant action of the game. There is always something exciting going on, something to cheer for as I watch. Usually if I watch a basketball game it is on the television. This week, I found a basketball game to go to. A local basketball sports association was having a tournament at a nearby high school and I decided this would be my “try something new” for Walk Lightly Smile Often this week.

As I arrived at the afternoon game, I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was no cost to attend this game. That scored a bonus point for me. Free basketball entertainment, what more could you ask for. Walking in to the event I was able to find the perfect seat near one of the baskets. Since I didn’t know either of the teams playing it didn’t really matter where I sat or who I cheered for (I actually found myself cheering for both teams when they did well).


These basketball teams were comprised of teenage boys. And let me tell you, those boys on those teams were each determined to win. They were focused, hustled, and went all out in order to raise their team to victory. It was a great game to watch. The score was constantly changing with one team ahead by a point, then the other team would score two points. It was very exciting!

Great job to both teams!

The Thoughts

The word that comes to my mind when I think about my experience is enjoyable. And don’t we all need more enjoyment in our lives.

I was not sure what to expect from this game when I sat down to watch it and I was pleasantly surprised. I got wrapped up in the close scores, the diving for the ball, the three point shots, etc. Certainly they were not professional basketball players and I was not a professional fan, but it was a great experience. In fact, I think I probably enjoyed it a bit more because of their “do whatever it takes to win” attitudes.


Entertainment these days can be quite costly, especially professional sports events when you are buying tickets for a whole family. Today my family and I saw an awesome game and it didn’t cost us one cent. I think that is fantastic. How about you? Free entertainment at its best! I am also confident in saying, I’m sure the sports teams liked having a few more people in their audience to cheer them on (especially me since I was cheering for both teams) J

The Question

Do you have any local youth sports teams in your area? How about venturing out of your normal entertainment realm and attend one of their events? Chances are you may have several types of sporting events to choose from. Call a school or sports organization and ask them for a schedule of their events. Give it a try and tell me about your experience!IMG_0724

A “Berry” Good Experience

 The Experience

It was a “berry” good day for me. How about you?

The warm weather has arrived so I decided to get a little creative and put together a refreshing smoothie drink for this week’s Walk Lightly Smile Often experience. I am not really one to create a recipe. Usually I follow a recipe exactly, or add a little twist. Today, I will create!

I’ve been wanting to incorporate more healthy fruits and vegetables into my diet and drinking homemade smoothies has been a main avenue for me to do just that.

I hopped into my car and went to the grocery store to gather the necessary ingredients. I must pause here and say this first, sometimes when I shop for smoothie ingredients I am taken back at the cost of some of the items. In the past I may decide to not buy an item if I felt it wasn’t in my budget that week. However, in more recent times, I’ve questioned myself about how I don’t blink an eyelash at spending $3.99 on chips (well maybe a small blink), but when I see that same cost attached to a basket of berries I hesitate. Now that I am aware of the irony of my thinking I am welcoming the expense more freely. After all, what is better for my body, chips or berries? Yes, you are right . . . chips, opps, I mean berries.SAM_4671

Okay, back to shopping. In my basket I placed some blueberries, raspberries, dates, and almond milk. Have you ever tasted almond milk before? I hadn’t. I cautiously tasted it at home and was pleasantly surprised. I really liked it. Maybe you want to give it a try? I know it’s going to become a regular item in my refrigerator (it’s great on healthy cereal).SAM_4657

Once at home, I set up my Vitamix. Do you see it? It is an older Vitamix. When going through my mom’s things after she passed away, I found it. It was in the original box, brand new. So even though it looks old, it’s actually very new and works beautifully. Thanks mom!!SAM_4660

Ready, it’s time for my smoothie recipe. Maybe I’ll call it Irene’s Berry Blast Smoothie. Into the Vitamix I placed the following: 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1 cup almond milk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 3 dates with the pits taken out, and 7 ice cubes. I processed it until it was nice and smooth.

I was pleasantly surprised at its refreshing taste. It was just the right thickness (I like my smoothies a bit thick and cold – thus the seven ice cubes). I also enjoyed the splash of vanilla flavor that came through. Yummy! Mission accomplished . . . a new smoothie recipe.SAM_4648

The Thoughts

As I think about my experience this week, I realize it’s a simple one, creating a beverage. I believe our lives are molded and changed by small things just as much as by big things.

In the area of food and my life, I’ve wanted to keep my focus on “adding” good things to my diet, instead of “taking” bad things out. My idea is to be positive about the change. Instead of thinking I can’t have a cookie today, I want to think about getting to have an Irene’s Berry Blast Smoothie. Does that make sense? Have you ever approached food in this way?

By increasing my consumption of good foods that I enjoy, I hope they will take the place of less healthy foods. Thus my diet will take on a healthy, more naturally occurring shift. It’s my hope that the more and more I do this, there will be less unhealthy foods that I’m eating.SAM_4646

The Question

Would you like to try Irene’s Berry Blast Smoothie? Or maybe you would like to create a recipe of your own? You could create one and share it with me. I’d love to give it a try.

Maybe you would rather go to the grocery store and purchase one of the already made healthy smoothies or juices? If you go to a place that makes smoothies, stretch yourself and try a new one, something you have never had before.

Remember small steps, create small change, and lead us on our journey of moving forward in life. Have a “berry” good day!