Merry Christmas from Florida

Spending Christmas in Florida is fun!  This is the first time my husband and I have been somewhere warm over the holidays.  After savoring a home cooked turkey dinner, we headed out to the hot tub and pool and got a little silly.  We talked about past snow skiing trips while enjoying the warm weather.

Not looking so happy here…

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Really happy here…

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Christmas Celebrations…a time for Friends, Family and Gratitude

I’m sure most of you have multiple Christmas celebrations…with all of the divorced families and grown children splitting their time between families.  I enjoy being able to have lots of opportunities for spending time with family and friends!  My first celebration was with my son and his girlfriend last weekend.  He is spending Christmas with his father, step-mother and sister in Texas.  He was excited about seeing his 14-year-old half-sister and I’m so happy that he’s happy!

I received a really special gift from him this year…one of my favorite photographs that I took in Namibia, Africa…framed!

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Friday night we spent a wonderful evening with my long-time girlfriend from middle school and her husband.  She prepared a delicious fish entrée and then we had game night…a couple games of pool and Wii bowling.  Downstairs was decorated for a party their teenage daughter was having the following night.

The photo on the top right is after we arrived home…Randy bringing wood in for the wood burning stove.  That’s how we heat the house in the winter!

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Saturday night we had lots of fun at a friend’s (more like family) house, along with my brother, his wife, and my niece and nephew.  Lynne…the hostess had decorated the table so festively…

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We had a different wine with each course…

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After the gift giving and white elephant…we sang songs…mostly Christmas songs using a Karaoke machine that hooks up to your I-pad, that Lynne received as a gift.

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I was a bit obnoxious with my camera…snapping photos throughout the evening.  But, hey…that’s my thing!

My husband was a bit melancholy because all of our parents have passed away.  It can be a difficult time for people…but I read an interesting article recently that helps people control and redirect their thoughts.  Basically…imagine there is a computer in your head along with a trash bin that you can drag negative thoughts into.  I’m usually quite optimistic, so I don’t need to utilize the technique extensively, but it’s amazingly effective.

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Christmas day we’ll go my cousin’s in the afternoon and then to the neighbors’!  We’re blessed to have such good friends and family!!

 

Preparing for Christmas

I’ve been quite busy since arriving home from my six-week–4,200 mile–road trip through the Southern U.S.  In addition to the normal duties one has when returning from a trip (i.e. unpacking, laundry, opening mail, paying bills, cleaning house, grocery shopping, etc.), with the holidays right around the corner, I decorated the house…

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did some Christmas shopping, met a friend for happy hour, responded to party invitations, and took my doggie hiking at the nearby trails.  A couple of days ago, I looked out in the front yard, saw the frosty grass and the shadows stretching across the yard and thought how pretty it looked…so I captured the moment…

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Tomorrow evening my son and his girlfriend are coming over for an early Christmas celebration because he’ll be going to Dallas to visit his father over Christmas.  I’m really looking forward to seeing him, since the last time I saw him was before I left for my trip. I’ll be cooking dinner and a delicious dessert!

In memory of the slain children, here is a photo I took a week ago in Florida of happy frolicking children by the sea at sunset…

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May their families hearts not break from the sadness.

Wishing everyone a joyful weekend!

Urban Hike…Downtown Cincinnati

Yesterday, I went on a two-hour “urban” hike through the streets of downtown Cincinnati with my hiking club.  Like many people, I’ve taken my own City for granted and am excited to be doing more things around my hometown.  We started our hike at Fountain Square…

In the winter there is a temporary ice skating rink set up…

As you can see, I like to display my photos as a collage now-a-days, because it doesn’t take up too much space that way…so I can display more photos.

We stopped in a few hotel lobbies to view their holiday decorations and to warm up briefly from the chilly weather (30’s) outside.

I discovered many new sites while walking…this statue of Abraham Lincoln is cool…didn’t even know it was here.

The two big buildings on the right are the Procter & Gamble headquarters.

Some of my photo collages are just for art’s sake…combining a variety of photographs that have interesting textures, colors and/or shapes.

A major grocery store in town is the Kroger chain.  It was started in 1883 by Bernard Kroger, who invested his life’s savings-$372 (roughly equal to $8,739.34 today) to open a grocery store in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Cincinnati.  Kroger was the son of a merchant, and his slogan was simple: “Be particular. Never sell anything you would not want yourself.”  In the 1970s, Kroger became the first grocer in America to test an electronic scanner.  It is the second-largest grocery retailer–behind Wal-Mart–with over 3,600 stores located mainly in the midwestern and southern states.

Our newspaper is The Enquirer and Macy’s is a popular department store.

The Cincinnatian Hotel is one of the upscale hotels located downtown…

There were gingerbread creations on display…

We stopped at Cadillac Ranch…a restaurant/bar…for a late lunch.  They have a mechanical bull to ride.  I haven’t tried it yet.

The photos below are of Garfield Place.  In 1882, after the assignation of James A. Garfield (1831-1881), the short-lived Ohio President, the two block “park avenue” was memorialized as Garfield Place in 1882.

As we walked through the Netherland Hotel, I was surprised to discover that it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.

There was a lovely water feature in the hotel…

The two photos on the right are large “graffiti” paintings on buildings and the photo on the left is in front of the library.  It’s a sculpture of books!

This is one of my favorite shots…

An Urban Hike is a great way to learn about your own City…so don’t let the cold keep you from getting outside!

O’Bryonville Christmas Walk

On my quest to explore more of Cincinnati, my friend Dee and I went to the O’Bryonville Christmas walk last night.  It was fun…all of the shops had free wine and snacks!  This is another area of Cincinnati that I don’t usually frequent, but who could pass up free wine!

Some of the arts and crafts were very interesting and “crafty”!  These are quite whimsical!

The “hair like” photo below is actually a lampshade!  And…the last photo that looks like a flower is a chandelier with cloth draped on the ceiling!

The materials that some of these things are made out of are unique!

I know it’s a little early for Christmas decorations…but here are some that were displayed.  I know it’s kinda wierd…but I already put my Christmas tree up.  I usually wait until after Thanksgiving, but I had the time!

We stopped into the Phyllis Weston Art Gallery and saw some works by Mark Patsfall.  The lady in the photo is the owner.

Here I’m snapping a photo of us in a mirror above us at a restaurant we stopped in!

Events like these are nice because you get some exercise, meet new people, eat, drink and be merry!