Weekly Photo Challenge — My 2012 in Pictures

2012 was a year of discovery and fun!

I participated in lots of activities…

Activities

Pinterest inspired me to make over 125 new recipes!  My husband gained a few pounds.

And…I made homemade Febreeze, carpet stain remover, deodorant, In a Pickle Bag, scarves made from t-shirts, and these beautiful Easter centerpieces…

Made

I attended lots of fun festivals, farmers’ markets, parties, and concerts!

Festival2

Festivals1

I was a tourist in my own hometown of Cincinnati and the surrounding areas…

Tourist1

And–had so much fun seeing familiar places with new eyes through the lens of my camera!

Tourist2

In May/June, I camped for 26 nights of the 40 nights I spent touring seven AMAZING countries in Africa.  You can read the first post here!

Africa

Met unforgettable people and had once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

People of Africa

Strangers opened their homes to me in South Africa, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida–through an organization called Couchsurfing!

It is an amazing way to meet new people, make travel affordable, and get tips from locals on what to see and do!

Couchsurfing

My six week-4,200 mile-USA road-trip through North & South Carolina, Georgia and Florida was an adventure!  I left in late October and returned home in December.

I so enjoyed walking through all of the cities I visited!

Roadtrip4

There is so much beauty in the USA!

Roadtrip5

Florida was too pretty for words!!

Roadtrip2

Roadtrip1

I took a wine painting class with girlfriends, went to Columbus, Ohio for a girls’ weekend, and had girlfriends visit me in Florida!

Friends

Last…but most importantly…had quality time with family!  I thank my husband for being a good sport concerning my passion for travel!

Family

My cousins and I had fun taking photos with Santa!!

Santa

I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such a rich life…but I’m truly grateful and if 2013 is as good or better than 2012…then all I have to say is…”LIFE IS GOODGREAT IN YOUR 50’s”!

End of Summer

This weekend has been wonderful!  Saturday we started the day with our usual three-mile trail jog at the nature center.  There were beautiful wildflowers weeds everywhere, so I picked some to bring home.  Breakfast was a yummy smoothie with strawberries, banana, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, oatmeal flakes, honey, 1 cup of ice, and some Chia Seeds.  I discovered the Chia Seeds at Trader Joe’s and was impressed by the amount of fiber, Omega 3, and Protein in 1 tablespoon!

That afternoon we rode the Harley to the Milford Street Festival.  We stopped along the way because Randy wanted a photo with this tank…

We stayed at the festival for about an hour and stopped by the booth of one of Randy’s friends…Steve Black…who makes cool jewelry out of spoons and forks.  A lot of the pieces are Harley and breast cancer (ribbon) related.

There were a variety of booths including face painting…

This parrot was cool…

We stopped in a gun shop and I thought this would make an artsy photo…

And this wall looked cool.  The three different colors and textures really popped!

We rushed home, changed clothes and left for our next adventure…Bob’s Pig Roast.  It was in honor of his deceased wife who had died from cancer.  Everyone donated $10 to the American Cancer Society…so $2700 was collected!

This is Bob…

I took about 150 photos, but picked out just a few to post.  This is my friend Shari.  I took 7 photos of her with my flash on and she blinked every single time.  So I turned the flash off and…voila…

This was the beginning of the party…before most of the group arrived.  The port-o-lets were for the guys and the inside restrooms were for the ladies.

Randy, Frank and I were toasting with three different beverages in a wine glass.  Wine for me, beer for Randy and water for Frank!

It was a busy and FUN day!  I’m grateful we have so many nice friends!  We’ve had beautiful weather, but it is cooling off this week.  Hope your weekend was great and wishing you a wonderful week!!

xoxoxo

Exploring Cincinnati

Yesterday, my friend Dee and I went exploring in Clifton, an area of Cincinnati next to the University of Cincinnati.  I haven’t been there in five years and enjoyed walking around, taking photos, and having a bite to eat!

Here’s some of the architecture…

We stopped in a wonderful wine shop called “Ludlow Wines” and here’s a photo of Mike — the extremely hospitable owner!  He loves his business and is expanding into a larger building down the street.  We had a tasting of four wines for $5.00.

Next, we went through some of the shops that lined Ludlow Avenue.  I have so much fun just looking at things with an eye for photography.  It keeps me busy and an added plus…I don’t spend money!

This is an African shop owner and some of his wares…I remember going in here and buying a ring back in 2006.

We went for a short walk through Burnett Woods.  Dee was going to go for a hike with the Tri-State Hiking Club through Meetup.com, but she knew I needed some company, so she came with me.  I’m thankful I have good friends like Dee!

We filled our tummies at Sitwells.  I had a Gouda and Guacamole Sandwich.  Our waitress was cool…she had red-eye shadow on and a few piercings.  I love when people feel free to express themselves through fashion/makeup/body art.  She was very pleasant and sweet also!

This picture was in Sitwells…when you look at the lady from one angle, she looks like this…

and from another angle like this….

No matter where we live, there is beauty and interesting people…so let’s get out and explore our own backyards!

Tour Director School in San Francisco

Today is my first day back in Cincinnati from the two-week ITMI class I took in San Francisco, to become a Tour Director.  I go into more detail about what a Tour Director does in my other post entitled “What Makes Me Come Alive“.  I met a lot of very nice and very interesting people.  There were 27 of us taking the course ranging in age from 23 to 60 something.  We had class every day (no time off) and had quite a bit of homework.

For me the hardest part was the public speaking.  You’ve probably heard that there are more people afraid of public speaking than of dying.  We spoke a total of about 5-6 times ranging from a couple of minutes to 5-6 minutes each time.  We weren’t allowed to use notes, so it was difficult.  One of my topics was Black Americans in California.  We were on a motor coach (not a bus) a couple of times and in the classroom the remainder.

The last time I spoke in front of more than 5-10 people was in college in my 20’s and I remember being so nervous and shaken, that I’ve avoided it since.  I’m proud of myself for jumping so far out of my comfort zone!

I learned that it’s O.K. to not be perfect and to try to be myself!  My next step is to join Toastmasters and become really comfortable and well-spoken!  Anyway, here are some of the new friends and people I met…

We went on an overnight trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nat’l Parks and here is a photo of the class, along with the instructors!  I’ll have a separate post about these beautiful Parks.

 

This was in Sonoma…that’s Thyra (pronounced TEAR-RA) and me.  She’s from LA and a very cool and very smart person!!

 

This is Elise on the left and Daywee on the right.  I didn’t get to know Elise as well, but I really respect Daywee.  She’s got her stuff together and has a very bright future!  She’s from Indonesia and took some of us to an Indonesian Restaurant while we were in San Francisco and it was the best meal of my trip.

 

This is Lena…she was my roommate.  We were on opposite schedules…I would wake up between 4:30 and 6:00am and would turn just the bathroom light on to get ready in the morning.  Then go down to the lobby to do homework, or jog first.  We were able to make it work and she’s a sweetie and one of the smartest people I’ve met!!

 

This was taken at Fisherman’s Wharf.  From left to right…Thyra, Claxton (from Texas, former schoolteacher with a dry humor and good guy), Mary (she and I got to know each other on the overnight field trip because we were roommates)…really sweet and smart lady, and Bernard (French…that says it all…very charming and sweet)!!

 

This was one of the first photos I took…I love it…it’s Elliott (he’s loads of fun) and Sue (who I didn’t get to know as well as some others…but like everyone…very nice and friendly)!!

 

Here is the “cute couple”…Alyssa and Colton…they are both very smart and warm-hearted!  They’ll both be very successful in life!!

 

This photo turned out kind of weird, but this is JJ.  A few of us went out for sushi and it was his first time trying this cuisine.  He’s a cutie from Louisiana!

 

I’ve mentioned everyone that’s in this photo, but Ken (the big dude in the middle).  One of his topics was Sequoia trees and he touched my heart (just like many of the people did on the trip) when he gave his talk!  I’d like to mention everyone, but I only have so much time and space.

I’m looking forward to staying in touch with my classmates!!

What girls do on a girls’ weekend

 

This weekend I went on my annual girls’ weekend with my friends Sherry, Gina and Dee.  This was Dee’s first trip with us.  The tradition started almost 20 years ago with a trip to Put-n-Bay and the destinations have included Myrtle Beach, Red River Gorge, Ky, Indianapolis, Shawnee Nat’l Forest,  and Nashville, to name a few.  Typically, we would find a cabin with a hot tub and the weekend consisted of eating, drinking, talking and hiking.  But more recently we’ve been heading to cities for sight-seeing and listening to bands.  I’m usually in charge of finding the accommodations and booked a 3 bedroom condo in the Highlands section of Louisville for the weekend that I found through VRBO online.  It was in a great location, within walking distance to restaurants, boutiques and a large park with walking trails.

The Highlands reminds me of Yellowsprings, Ohio.  It was an eclectic blend of boutiques selling handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, books and wares from around the world; cozy coffee shops, a yoga studio, art galleries, and many restaurants that varied from Indian to Asian.

 

This painting caught my eye in one of the shops!

 

 

An interesting sign…

 

 

While walking down the street we were stopped by a local T.V. reporter wondering if we’d be interested in giving our opinion on pornography pop-ups on the internet.  So…being it was a new experience…I volunteered.  I don’t remember most of the questions, but I’ll be able to view it on their website.

 

We had fun trying hats on in one of the shops…a little pricey for me at $190 per hat!

 

 

 

It was a beautiful fall weekend for our escape…so we went hiking in Cherokee Park.

 

 

We went to a bar that caters to the over 40 crowd called Jim Porter’s Good Times Emporium.  Boasting three live bands (Pop, Rock and Blues) we had a great time dancing most of the evening!  Our husbands don’t particularly enjoy dancing…so we indulged ourselves!

 


The following evening we dressed for Halloween and our first stop was 4th Street Live in downtown Louisville.

 

 

We stopped a man on the street to take our photo before we left the condo…he was a bit shaky I believe!  As you can see, Gina was a girl scout!  But what was remarkable about it, was that it was her uniform from when she was 9 years old!

 

 

After having a very tasty dinner at the Red Star Tavern, our plan was to party downtown…but it seemed a little dead…so we took a taxi back to Jim Porter’s.

 

 

 

 

Being “Supergirl” I had to pick someone up, so I chose this girl…but the photo turned out too blurry to post!

 

 

This girl “the naked girl costume” won third place in the contest at Jim Porter’s.  I didn’t think it appropriate to take a picture of the front, although it wasn’t real!

 

 

 

 

My husband thought I should call this post “Cougar’s Weekend”!  Hope you had a Happy Halloween!