Just Before We Usher in 2020

 Happy New Year everyone!!!

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas.
The time has gone by so quickly and now the new year is upon us.
I have a New Year's prayer for you as you move into 2020.



I had a nice Christmas with family members and post Christmas with friends of mine. 
It is nice to spend time with loved ones over the special holidays.

I also went with my nephew and my brother to visit my niece in Kamloops, BC.
It is about 4.5 or 5 hours drive from where I live.
The roads were great and the weather was fine as well.

The snow started falling while my niece and I were at the newest (and last) Star Wars movie.
The city looked like a winter wonderland that evening as we exited the movie theatre.

I had the very best sleep that I can recall in recent memory at a new to me hotel.
It was nice to feel refreshed and rested.

I took a few photos to share with you. 
I hope you enjoy them.

These photos were all taken along the Coquihalla Highway about 10 minutes north of the Town of Hope, BC.





 


 I haven't had a chance to make the next post my travel series because time passed so quickly over the holiday.
I hope to resume the travel posts early in 2020.


The next time I post, we will have turned a corner and entered the next decade.
My hope and prayer is it will be a wonderful, healthy and peaceful decade for each of you.

Many blessings.
♥♥♥





Christmas Happenings 2019

Christmas draws ever closer. I hope you are all enjoying the festive season thus far.

I am enjoying everything and the pace of activities. It isn't quite as quiet as I had hope but that isn't so much because of Christmas activities. It has more to do with unexpected events and timelines concerning my dental work. After all the planning and waiting for insurance approvals and so on, it turns out I can't get a bridge after all. Or at least I've decided not to proceed with it after discussing with my dentist.  One of my teeth is not so strong and over the long term the bridge isn't a good solution. The alternatives are a partial denture or an implant. I've decided to go for the partial and have talked to the dentist about possibly doing an implant in the future.  Unfortunately, this unfinished business will be going with me into the new year though I had hoped to complete the dental work in 2019.  At least I have now have a firm plan of action and I am comfortable with the way forward.

I finally completed the book on Coco Chanel. I say finally because when I really enjoy a book I can finish it within a few days even if I'm busy. But this book took me a few weeks to read. It was interesting and very detailed. I think the detail put me off a little because Coco Chanel lived a very long life.  Of course, like most people, the events in her life were repeated a few times over the decades of her life. So the book was a bit repetitive in that way but necessarily so.  Her rise to prominence is made more interesting because she lived during the WW2 and she retired for a long while before resurrecting her career and focussing on inroads with the United States.  Besides discovering these things I also discovered a lot of things I didn't like about Coco Chanel.  However, one thing is clear.  She achieved a lot and she left a lasting legacy despite not having any children of her own to carry on the business.  The author of this book did a good service in writing such a detailed and well researched book about Coco Chanel.



On Sunday afternoon I joined a friend for the one and only Christmas concert I planned to attend this year. It was quite enjoyable and different from what I usually see.  My friend and I enjoyed the concert and we exchanged some small gifts with each other.


The concert itself  featured JS Bach's joyous cantata BWV 62 ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland’. It also featured Christmas works by Poulenc, Chilcott, Rutter, plus audience singing.  Next year I plan to try and see a Christmas program featuring harpists. It is a very popular concert here and generally gets sold out each night.

Some of you might remember I purchased 2 small fiddle leaf fig trees. I was a bit concerned about tending to them over the cold winter months. They are tropical plants that need very precise and favourable conditions in which to thrive. I'm happy to report that one of the two plants, the one that looked less healthy, is actually sprouting a new leaf. Can you see it in the center? I am very happy about this and I hope I can continue to nurture it through until repotting is necessary in the spring.


A few years ago I saw a humongous Christmas cacti in the window of a barber shop and it was in full bloom. It looked so beautiful that I had to find myself one and see if I can get it to that point too.  I purchased a small Christmas cacti about one week ago and right now all the blossoms are coming out. I heard that they only bloom at Christmas.



I have finally been able to coordinate and organize a short trip with close family members to visit out of town for a few days. I'm looking forward to seeing my niece and she is looking forward to going to a movie with us and a good old family visit.
🎄 🎄🎄


I don't usually do much baking at Christmas but this year I decided to make Christmas bark. Later I may also make some dream bars (my late mom's recipe).  I made the bark last night and it was so delicious and surprisingly easy. I thought you might like to try it too.



Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. (225 g) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 pkg. (170 g) Baker's White Chocolate
  • 1 cup chopped toasted almonds, divided into 2 batches
I also added about one half cup of chopped, dried cranberries to to each batch of chocolate

Directions

  1. Microwave semi-sweet chocolate in microwaveable bowl on MEDIUM 1 to 2 min. or until almost melted; stir until completely melted. Repeat in separate bowl with white chocolate. Stir 1/2 cup nuts into chocolate in each bowl.
  2. Drop spoonful’s of chocolate mixtures alternately onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet; swirl gently with knife.
  3. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces.

TIP: Prepare as directed, substituting pecans for the almonds, and stirring 1/4 cup each dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots into the melted white chocolate before spooning onto prepared baking sheet as directed.
Substitute toasted flaked coconut for the chopped almonds.
How to Store: Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.


Joining Our World Tuesday today.

That's all for now blogging friends.
In my next post I hope to continue with the travel update.
Thanks for stopping by.
Enjoy the week ahead.
♥♥♥



The Palace Tour Continues Through the Hall of Mirrors and Out to the Gardens

There is so much to see at the Palace of Versailles, Versailles France that I doubt very much you can capture everything in photos or in sightseeing all in one day. The Palace and the grounds are the kind of place that requires you to return often to enjoy it in the different seasons. If you live close to Versailles or you happen to be visiting, you are lucky you can enter the gardens free of charge and spend the day if you like. It's a wonderful place to spend time.

As you can see by my photos, the weather was quite overcast. It was a Winter's day in January 2019 but I found the weather perfect. In fact, indoors with my coat on it was too warm but outside it was drizzling rain and I found myself dressed just right.

I left off in my last post here just as I was about to enter a very special place in the palace.


 

 The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France. As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France's third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles, construction of the Hall of Mirrors began in 1678.


 



The Hall of Mirrors or La Grand Galerie in French, is a massive room.  It measures about 240 feet long and 34 feet wide and has a 40-foot ceiling. On one wall, 357 mirrors stretch from floor to ceiling. On the opposite wall, 17 large glass doors offer breathtaking views of  Versailles sprawling gardens.  I took care not to look outside as I wanted to have my first real view when I exited the palace.
 

 The decoration of the Hall of Mirrors was completed in 1686 by  Le Brun and is a tribute to the military victories which led to the peace treaties of Nijmegen





 The palace houses many fabulous paintings, statues and furnishings. Most of the paintings are of the various battles and wars in which France was involved.
The salons are very impressive.




I honestly didn't get to spend as much time in the palace as I would have liked. After a few hours I was getting hungry and also very tired. The crowds seemed to be growing. When I exited the palace to look for a place to eat, this was my view.


I found a small bistro in one of the adjacent buildings and there I had something to eat. I don't remember what but I do remember having a nice coffee.

When I got outside to the gardens it seemed they stretched on forever in front of me.








 After assessing the size of the gardens and the time of day I had to make a quick decision about what to see next.
I'll share that in my next post.

So glad you stopped by.
Please come again soon as I'm trying to post a few more of my travel photos before the end of the year.
There are just so many photos to sort through and to try and select a few. I may come back and edit (add or delete photos and update narrative).

Joining in this week with 

A Little Behind But Forging Ahead

Thank you to everyone who left such wonderful comments on my last post. If you missed it you can find it here.

I hope to continue my travel posts in a few days but for now just wanted to pop in here for a moment.

In not so fun news, I finally had the first dental for my bridge work.  As always there were unanticipated costs because there was a deep cavity under there and it required work. My dentist had to remodel my gum to properly get at the tooth. That wasn't anticipated and meant I had to get prescription antibacterial mouthwash and some kind of ointment. It also means 3 dental appointments rather than 2 so the dentist can see how things are going before the new mold is made for the laboratory to make the new bridge. I'll be glad when it's all finished.

I've been busy busy with cleaning, decorating & shopping. The shopping wasn't just for Christmas though I did some of that too.  I was returning some items previously purchased and looking for a new coffee pot. My coffee pot is perfectly fine but very basic.  For some time I've been wanting a coffee maker with a thermal carafe to keep the coffee nice and hot. Well imagine my surprise to find all the coffee pots are well over $100 Canadian. In fact most of them are double and triple that cost and I find that to be too much money.

The best deal I found on line was for a Cuisanart coffee maker with a thermal carafe. Cuisanart is a good brand for kitchen appliances. But then I decided I had better use a gift card that a dear friend gave me for Christmas last year.  The gift card was for a store called Canadian Tire.

Canadian Tire had several pots and I settled on this coffee pot by Hamilton Beach. It doesn't use a carafe because the coffee is kept in a holding container inside the coffee maker.  You can set the timer for how long you want to keep the coffee warm. I've made coffee in it twice already: one very small pot and one larger pot just to test it out. It seems to work just fine.  Best of all I got it for 'free' with the gift card because it was 55 % off and most of the reviews for the pot are very good.  I'll wash and box up my old coffee pot and store it just in case I need it later.


Other than that I bought a pre-lit cedar bough for the top of my bookshelves since I can no longer reach the socket now that I moved the bookshelves around. The prelit lights use triple A batteries and suit me just fine though I may actually return it for a wider bough made of artificial pine needles and berries. When I went to the store the garlands were very picked over so there may not be anything left by the time I return.

My decorating is never over the top but it is a lot for me since I am not a big fan of decorating for the holidays. I love to see the end result but I do not enjoy the process. I have everything up where it should be but now need to work on fluffing up the leaves and garlands and putting the small bulbs on my small tree. I hope to finish on the weekend because I'll be too busy this week to spend time on decorating.  Once I finish decorating I do really enjoy sitting in the evenings with the main lights off and the Christmas lights on. They cast a cosy glow and make me feel very contented and joyful.

I also continue to be busy with the missions in Kenya. I don't have a lot more to report to what I mentioned in this post but I do have some very good news. The doctor has said that my friend Eunice could be going home in about 2 months as she has been slowly but steadily improving so the family and I are cautiously optimistic. It has been a long, hard road for Eunice and the family and for me so this news was very welcome. If you'd like to make a contribution to her recovery, please see the link on the right side bar or contact me.

Sunday I'll be going to a luncheon with two family friends and it will be a nice time to visit before the Christmas season is fully upon us. One of my friends just had a baby on November 11, 2019, Remembrance Day and  it will be my first change to see the baby girl. I have been busy shopping for little Christmas gifts for those I will see and making it a  priority to wrap them so they are ready to go. I also popped a few extra Christmas cards in the mail though most went in the mail late last week.   Before the week is over I hope to finish wrapping gifts for the family but I still didn't find the time to alter clothing for niece. Once I confirm the measurements it won't take that long.

Do any of you grow ficus lyrata or ficus bambino?  I've been wanting a larger ficus lyrata for some time now but the ones that are a good price at IKEA are sold out whenever I've tried to purchase one.  On Friday night I managed to find a store that was selling some small plants.  Their larger ficus lyrata sell for over $400 Canadian. I was very happy to get two smaller ones for $16 and tax.  Living in a north facing, coldish condo doesn't really help with growing tropical plants which can be quite finicky in our climate.   Even with the heat on,  the drafts that find their way indoors are not good for the plants. That's another reason I don't want to spend too much money on any plant.

Here is a photo of the baby plants. If you know about this kind of plant let me know what you think it is because  I may have actually purchased a ficus bambino and not the ficus lyrata.  In any case I will enjoy trying to make these little plants grow.

I asked why the top leaves were so big and the under leaves were so small. The salesperson said because the growth comes from the bottom. That doesn't make any sense to me since the new shoots are coming out at the top of the plant not the bottom.  I remember days long ago when I lived in other homes. My plants did well in those days and I hope and pray they will do well again.  I find plants are wonderful addition to a home.



I haven't had time to do any reading or movie watching so I'm still making my way through the book on Coco Chanel. I was surprised to learn things about her which cause me to admire her less. I won't say more in case you want to read the book yourself.  I will say that she made a lasting impact on the world of women's fashion and it is good to know more about her.  For that reason alone I am happy to read this very well researched book.


Last, but not least, I picked up this movie from the library called She Walks Ahead.  It's based on a true story about Catherine Weldon, a painter, (played by Jessica Chastain) who leaves New York and travels to the plains to paint Chief Sitting Bull. Chief Sitting Bull is played by Canadian actor, Michael Greyeyes. Of course movies don't always stick to reality so if you are interested in knowing more, read here.  This story was all new to me and a very interesting bit of history.


That's all for now. Have a wonderful week.

A Little Outside Paris

Hi there,

Almost a year ago I travelled to Paris, France and Nairobi, Kenya. I started a few posts on my travels but looking back over the year I realized I didn't get too far with the travel posts. I will try to catch up now before the year ends and see how far I get. I left off after a visit to the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris. If you missed that blog you can find it here.   The first post in what was intended to be a series can be found here.

Today we continue with my tour of the Palace of Versailles.  There were just so many photo opportunities that it is very difficult to do only one post.

Firstly there are a few things that you might be interested in knowing. There is a lot of useful information on line to help you with your visit to the palace.
  • The Palace of Versailles is located just outside Paris and about 1 hour by the city train. How long it takes you will depend on where you are staying in Paris so it could be a little less time or a little more time. Once you reach Versailles there is also a short walk to the palace.


  • Some people can enter the palace for free.  Check on line here.
  • You can purchase your ticket on line by computer or smart phone. There are a variety of ticket types. The type we selected was for timed entry to ensure we got in on the date and time we wanted.  This is particularly important during the height of tourist season to ensure you won't be disappointed.  You can check here for tickets.  I believe we arrived at 10 a.m. and after a short stop to pick up coffee we carried on to the palace. We needed the entire day to walk through the palace, stroll quickly through the garden and on to Trianon. By the time I got back to the front gate to meet my nephew (we separated here and there) it was already 5 p.m. and the entire place was closing for the day.  I am so glad I visited this place in Winter season and not in peak season because there were plenty of people there. I noticed too that a lot of people arrived just to see the gardens and did not enter the palace.
  • The palace is open every day from 9 a.m. onward except on Mondays.  The estate of Trianon and the Coach gallery are only open in the afternoon.
  • The Park and Gardens are open every day and the gardens are free unless there is a fountain show.
  • The following items are not allowed in the palace and must be left at checked luggage where they will store them for free: pushchairs (wheelchairs), metal baby stroller, walking sticks, crutches, bulky luggage and umbrellas.  I honestly don't know how a person who needs mobility aids is supposed to see the palace or the gardens if they have to check their assistive devices. I also don't see how a mother with children will be able to get very far without a baby stroller. When I checked in I didn't know about these restrictions and I took my walking poles with me thinking it was a good idea because I'd likely have to do a lot of walking. When I  entered the palace at my gate, I went through security clearance.  They asked me about the poles and scanned them and then they let me through. It was only while I was walking through the palace that I was stopped about 3 times and questioned about the poles. I was permitted onward in every instance. I think it helped that they accepted my story that security staff had scanned my poles and let me pass through.
  • There are a few places to have a quick bite to eat and/or drink on the grounds. You will need it because you will have to spend hours there to make it worth your while. If you are only going to see the gardens you can probably pack your own lunch.
As I mentioned in my first post on the palace, I was most interested in seeing the personal spaces of the King and Queen and in that regard I was not disappointed. I was also most interested in seeing the special place that the King built for his wife and as depicted in the movie, Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst in the title role. More about that later.

Today I'll start with a few photos of gigantic paintings that were on a temporary exhibit in the Africa Room. I felt very privileged to have been there during this special display. Unfortunately I don't seem to have many photos of the paintings. At that point I was very tired and trying to put my sticks and bag under a table in the room so I could take unobstructed photos. However the security stopped me from doing that.  Even so, this room and exhibit was one of the major highlights of the day for me.

The large, displayed notice of the exhibition.


The first three photos were taken in the Africa Room.


 A beautiful desk with a Egyptian sphinx on either side. I'm not sure if they are made of brass or gold


The photo above gives a good idea of the scale of the paintings which all depicted military scenes from various wars.



The photo above gives some idea of the grandeur of the passageways and the height of the ceilings along with the fabulous painted ceilings. 

The next several photos of a room with red walls and lots of gilt and chandeliers are of the King's bedroom.



The King's bed was much smaller than I expected.




The "green" room was the King's office. 
I remember thinking that it didn't look much like an office for doing work in though I imagine the King really did have work to do, people to meet, papers to sign and so on.  It was also quite dark in the room so I imagine there were many, many candles to light the room especially in Winter. I visited in January when I'm sure it is much darker than other months of the year.




My memory is hazy now but I don't believe this huge fireplace was located in the King's office. 
I took a photo of it because I seldom see such massive fireplaces.
This one had a beautiful painting above it and as you look up to the ceiling you find extensive gilt work and the ceiling of course is ornately painted.




There were a lot of paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte at various stages of his life.



One of the many statues in the palace. This one is of Charlemagne also known as Charles the Great.

 

 The next photos are various salons and passageways. 
At times it was difficult to look at paintings and objects.  When tour guides were passing by the tourists would block passages and didn't seem to worry that others needed to pass through.  There were also a lot of school children on tour. I enjoyed seeing them and I thought how fortunate they are to see such things at such a young age.
My nephew and I were not part of a guided tour.  We opted for a self tour with information fed to us through headsets.  Even so, it is far too much information to recall. I like simply looking at what strikes my fancy and learning a little here and there.
One has to be quick though because there is just so much to see.





The massive painting below depicts the scene in which Mary Magdalene washes Jesus' feet while he and the disciples eat together. That is me walking past it.


Here I am looking out one of the palace windows over the massive gardens which is where I will head soon.



Before I get there I still have something wonderful to see inside the palace.

Thank you for your visit.  Please come back soon.

If you've already visited the Palace of Versailles let me know what was your favourite part.

Farm Animals at the PNE & A Few Other Things

These are not the best photos due to low lighting and use of a poor phone camera but I took these several years ago and don't believe I ...