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    At Home  --  Inspire  --  North America Travel

    Sanity Staycation

    Location: Whidbey Island Washington USA

    Not everyone is up for a staycation right now. But for me, getting away even for a day, or two, or three, is a great boost to mental health during pandemic paralysis. Since it looks like it might be awhile until we can fly off to the Alps, or the Cote d’Azure or the Azores…a little sanity staycation is a perfect pandemic prescription.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Our Cottage at Quintessa

    We’ve decided to do several sanity staycations in the weeks and months ahead, visiting places within a few hours or a few days from home. Places reachable by car with low impact as far as crowds or contact with humans. Our first sanity staycation was to the beautiful Whidbey Island less than two hours from my home in Washington State where we have been on travel pause for two months.

    Whidbey Island

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    The Quintessa

    First, traveling mid-week is a great way to avoid crowds. On Whidbey we felt like we were the only visitors, and that was okay with us. We rented a cottage on the grounds of the Quintessa, a wedding and events location. But on a Tuesday, we were the only guests and it felt really special to have it all to ourselves.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Langley Washington

    Whidbey is easy to get around by car. We’ve been here before so didn’t need to see everything, but if you haven’t visited before the cute shops especially in Langley and Coupeville are my favorites. If you are game there are also wine tasting rooms, distilleries and taprooms. Greenbank Farms will serve you wine and cheese and send you off with a delicious berry pie to take home – giving you a chance to savor your sanity staycation for a day or two more. Or pick up some world famous Penn Cove Oysters while here…the tiny sweet delicious mollusks are the best.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Joe’s Wood Fired Pizza

    If you are an experienced cyclists it’s a great place to ride, but we left our bikes at home this time and opted for some easy hiking. We chose to do a really fun day hike in the Fort Ebey State Park, perfect for any fitness level and offering some really beautiful views. Exactly what my mental health was craving.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Fort Ebey State Parl

    Although we didn’t have a reservation (highly recommended) we were able to slide in for an early dinner at the highly rated Prima Bistro in Langley. Both indoor and outdoor dining and a really great menu makes the Prima Bistro a top choice. If you want to social distance try to get a reservation off peak, although the restaurant was following all State of Washington distancing rules. On our second night we got take-out at the highly rated Joe’s Wood Fired Pizza. Excellent New York style pizza, in the Bayview area halfway between Langley and Freeland. We also made a quick stop for a treat at Coupeville’s Red Hen Bakery – killer cinnamon rolls, take out only.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    The historic building in Langley,home to Prima Bistro

    Plan Ahead

    A sanity staycation takes a bit of planning…don’t assume everything is open and running regular hours. For instance Joe’s is only open for take-out currently (July 2020).

    Also very important is that you check the current schedule for the Washington State Ferries (unless you plan to arrive from the North over the Deception Pass Bridge). Currently due to reduced staffing Washington State Ferries are running at half capacity (July 2020). The Mukilteo to Clinton Ferry (closest from Seattle and King and Snohomish County and all points east) is usually a 2-3 boat wait unless you can travel during non-peak. Another option is the Port Townsend to Coupeville Ferry. If you are coming from points west and south ( Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason or Jefferson Counties) this is definitely the way to go. The great thing about this boat is you can make a reservation and be secured a spot on whatever sailing you want.

    Ebey Landing

    But that’s all part of the “fun” (she says tongue in cheek) during the time of Covid. Learning to live with new rules and guidelines will serve us all in the long run…and taking a mental health sanity staycation is a highly recommended way to feel better and wash away the blues – but only if you are comfortable being out. We plan to choose safe, quiet and unpopulated places to visit on upcoming sanity staycations.

    Not a soul around. Enjoying a cinnamon roll outside Red Hen Bakery

    Be safe. Be smart. And above all else, please be kind.

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    At Home  --  Inspire

    Skin Care at Sixty

    My Six- Week TimeWise Repair Journey

    Location: At Home, USA

    Being in lockdown, and returning so abruptly from our world travels back to the USA, put me in a position with free time to step back and take a look at myself. Everything that had fully occupied my time over the last four years had come to a complete and unexpected stop.

    But this provided an unexpected blessing – an opportunity for me to focus on self care. Something I have been wholly unable to do most of my life; to no one’s fault but my own.

    Me no make up on
    Me last week no makeup.

    When we arrived in the USA I found I had a lot of free time on my hands. I began to realize I could use this stay-at-home time to accomplish some self-care things I had so often put on the back burner before. I immediately started a running training program, joined NOOM weight loss (to date have dropped 20 pounds and will be blogging on this later) and set out to focus on revitalizing my aging and neglected skin and focusing on skin care at sixty.

    I’ve never been someone to spend a lot of money on beauty. I get my hair and nails done, but shop for myself infrequently and never too extravagantly. Most of my skincare products and makeup generally come from Target. When we travel I go months without wearing makeup and most days only use cleanser and moisturizer with SPF 15.

    But here I am with all this free time…free time to get healthy both inside and out. Free time to finally focus on skin care at sixty. Better late than never? Well, you be the judge.

    On arriving back home I contacted my friend Susi who is a Mary Kay consultant, because I had heard some good reviews about the MK line called TimeWise Repair. This line of skincare products is specifically designed for women like me, who are looking to repair damage from sun and sea, age and neglect.

    I began using these products in early May. I did a video on YouTube at that time, to share the start of my journey. You can see that first video below. In the video I share all the products I began using; 1) TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser 2) Indulge Soothing Eye Gel 3) Eye Renewal Cream 4) Vitamin C 5) Lifting Serum 6) TimeWise Repair Retinol Night Cream and TimeWise Repair SPF 30 Day Cream 7) Deep Wrinkle Filler

    Here is the first video…and by the way you will notice the 20 pounds heavier in this first video as compared to today…that alone makes my face look healthier.

    May 8th video

    I spent the next three weeks religiously following the night and day program for Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair products and I immediately began to feel my skin was moister and generally all-around healthier. Once a week I used two more products in the evening; 8) TimeWise Repair Facial Peel and 9) TimeWise Repair Moisture Renewing Gel Mask.

    Here is the second video I did at week three. I REALLY notice in this video the bags under my eyes. At the time of this video I had not yet been diagnosed with a sinus infection…but clearly it was raging and causing me trouble. I kept hoping the Mary Kay eye cream would take care of the bags, not realizing it was something more. Here is the second video.

    May 30

    So today at week six I am pretty happy about how my skin FEELS as much as how it looks. I also feel like by focusing on this for six weeks I have developed good skin care habits for both morning and night, something I never had before. I would say that the products I feel have been the best for me would be the TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser, the Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, the Day Cream, the Night Cream, the Facial Peel and the Gel Mask.

    My consultant Susi feels strongly that the serum is one of the best things I can do for my skin. And I feel like the night cream with retinal has contributed greatly to the diminished wrinkles. It’s been nice having Susi at my fingertips for questions…something I can’t get from sales people at Target or the mall. Worth it for me in my busy life.

    It’s not pretty, but I’m sharing with you my before shot that was done on the Mary Kay Skin Analyzer App the first week of May, and my After Shot taken this week. Note I’m purposefully not smiling…to really be able to see my problem areas. The skin analyzer is the tool we used to both determine the products that would be best for my skin issues, and to see the results. Here it is. Oi. Embarrassing.

    Mary Kay Skin Analyzer picture week one
    Week one early May
    Mary Kay Skin Analyzer picture week six
    Week Six Mid June

    However, I see much improvement in the wrinkles, and am hopeful with continued use it will get better still. Although some of my most prominent wrinkles, like the “11” between my brows haven’t really improved at all, I’m happy to accept those as part of my sixty year journey. I think those are just here to stay.

    My final video, posted yesterday, shares a fun time lapse look at my routine to finish off the experiment. Here it is.

    So, again realizing I have dropped 20 lbs in six weeks, and started running every day combined with this skin care routine I feel really healthy overall. I see a difference in my skin, especially how it feels and even how my makeup feels on my skin. Here is another before and after shot with my make up on.

    March in Israel make up on
    BEFORE this is me early March in Israel, make up on
    Last week with makeup on
    AFTER Me mid June with makeup at home

    AND since I am making all this effort, I bought a new hat with a wider brim to protect my skin more than any hat I’ve owned before. Sassy. I am feeling so much healthier over all, I hope all these new habits will stick, and I can continue to improve my skin, weight and activity level in the months and years ahead. Because, you know, I’m fabulous!

    My new hat, make up on
    Protecting my skin with my new hat

    I would love to hear about your self care journey. Comment below or message me anytime.

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    At Home  --  Inspire

    Immunity Boosting Foods for Healthy Life

    We are all a bit anxious these days about our health and well-being. Remembering the important recommendations for social distancing, mask wearing and washing your hands A LOT remains super important. But what we choose to eat in our lockdown lives is another important factor in staying healthy. Immunity boosting foods for healthy life is something we should learn to do all the time, not just when the world is fighting a pandemic.

    (The links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you. )

    Choosing to add immunity boosting foods to your diet is really easy, without giving up the tasty comfort foods we all are enjoying during these anxious days. Over the past few years I have been working on a diet that is rich in both immunity boosting foods, anti-inflamatory foods and foods that are good for gut health.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Blueberries

    I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, just a lay person who has experimented and found some things that work for me. And maybe they will work for you too!

    Gut Health

    Last summer we purchased a sauerkraut maker, manufactured by a company called Cultures for Health. Now we eat a few tablespoons of homemade sauerkraut every day. Homemade sauerkraut is full of good bacteria for your gut. Unrefrigerated store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills all those good bacteria and so you lose the healthy benefits. You can use this sauerkraut maker for other fermented foods too like pickles, beans, radishes. Eating fermented foods adds good bacteria and enzymes to your gut! And they taste good too.

    Here is our fun video on how to make your own!

    Now I know you’re gonna want your own fermenter. Here is the one we recommend.

    Daily Breakfast

    Our daily breakfast nearly every day of the week includes a lot of immunity boosting foods for healthy life. Each morning we eat a bowl full of blueberries (antioxidants, phytoflavinoids & Vitamin C), spinach (fights cardiovascular and chronic disease), almonds or walnuts (packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals) and other fruits like apples, bananas, mango. We mix this with homemade yogurt.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Spinach

    The probiotics in yogurt (live cultures) are really good for your health. Yogurt is a great source of low calorie protein, as long as you aren’t eating the sweet and fruity kind. We make our own yogurt very simply in a yogurt maker we bought from a manufacturer called Euro Cuisine, through Cultures for Health. It’s really easy. All you need is a live-culture yogurt starter and milk. We make it once a week at night, and when we wake up in the morning it’s ready to eat. You can get one at the link below.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Yogurt Maker

    Eat the Rainbow

    The rest of our daily diet includes a variety of immunity boosting foods for healthy life like ginger (free radicals build a defense system), garlic (anti-inflamatory), dark greens and broccoli ( full of good vitamins and anti-oxidant goodness) peppers and citrus (nothing like the Vitamin C in these foods to strengthen your immunity) and apple cider vinegar (used in small quantities is a great anti-oxidant boost).

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Citrus

    We eat meat including beef and pork, although most of our meat consumption is chicken and fish ( watch for a seafood blog coming soon). We try to have salmon, canned sardines and responsibly fished canned tuna regularly, all foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Nuts and spices and ginger

    Tea Time

    Although I am a coffee lover, I often take a cup of herbal tea before bed. I love a ginger tea which helps me sleep as does chamomile, and I’m also fond of peppermint tea as a pick me up in the afternoon. I don’t drink green tea very often, but like the teas I mentioned above, these all are high in immunity boosting anti-oxidants. The world of tea is actually very fascinating…there are entire books written about it and tea is definitely a immunity boosting food for healthy life. For me, just an herbal cup each evening is both delicious, healthy and relaxing.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Herbal Tea

    Staying healthy isn’t just about food of course. Finding ways to stay active, get lots of rest, drink lots of water and engage in activities we love during these stressful times are all part of keeping your immunity system thriving despite the stress. It’s okay to have that brownie, or burger too. It’s not about depriving yourself. It’s about making good choices, adding immunity boosting foods for healthy life to your diet, the things science knows help our bodies fight back anything from the common cold to an uncontrolled virus.

    Take care of yourself my friends. Choose healthy options and be well.

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    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Immunity Boosting Foods

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    At Home

    Deer Resistant Plants for Container Gardening

    Deer Resistant Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

    Location: Kitsap Peninsula

    I’m living in a new neighborhood and have inherited a garden quit different from anything I’ve had before. The neighborhood is beautiful and the landscape is focused primarily on native woodland plants. In addition to our wonderful landscape we inherited something else…dozens of deer. Our new neighborhood is brimming with deer and other wildlife. So I have been studying all about deer resistant plants for both container gardening and landscaping.

    http://mastergardener.wsu.edu
    My yard in the morning

    The deer in our neighborhood are so used to humans they will come right up to the front porch and eat the flowers there. Oh the nerve. What’s a girl to do? Well the deer were here first…so I need to adapt to them.

    My friend Kim, who is a local Master Gardener, came over and brought me some lists of some of the tried and true plants and remedies to turn deer away from my yard. There are a lot of plants deer won’t eat, although even some of those they might take a nibble.

    http://mastergardener.wsu.edu
    Social Distance gardening with my friend Kim

    After my help from Kim and lots of research on Pinterest I headed off to my local nursery and stocked up on lots of plants that are supposedly deer resistant and I bought a couple of other things to try as a gamble.

    I planted eight pots of flowers, planted four pots of tomatoes, and added several things in the ground. After three weeks here are my success stories and the fails from A – Z;

    Astilbe

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Astilbe

    I planted 12 astilbe in the ground. The deer took a few nibbles in the beginning, mostly just nipping off the new flower shoots, but have essentially ignored the astilbe ever since. However, the astilbe is planted around a small Japanese Maple, and the deer keep walking on the astilbe to nibble on the Japanese Maple.

    Peonies

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Peony

    Last fall I put eight peonies in the ground near the front of my house. The deer do not have any interest in them and the plants are flourishing beautifully. I think I will add some more.

    Mugwort

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Mugwort

    I planted a couple of mugwort in a pot last year but they got so big I moved them to the ground this year. Mugwort has a strong odor of curry and the deer stay away. It’s not my favorite either but I’ll learn to live with it. I’ve grouped it with some lavender.

    Lavender

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Lavender

    Another great plant the deer find offensive is lavender. Deer usually will stay away from most herbs, and although we love the smell and texture of lavender, deer do not. I now have six lavender in the ground, all healthy.

    Rhododendrons

    We inherited many mature Rhodies and were gifted some more from a neighbor and the deer have no interest in these beautiful and easy shrubs.

    Hosta

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Hosta

    I got a little carried away at the plant store and, without checking my list, picked up three hosta to go under my maple tree where we removed some unsightly heather. Only later did I read hosta is deer candy. So, the hosta are there, and so far the deer haven’t eaten them but I am prepared for that to happen. Then I will try something else – maybe Bleeding Heart.

    Bleeding Heart

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Bleeding Heart

    I put two Bleeding Heart (one of my favorite shade plants) in the tiny garden near our front door and they are doing great. For as delicate as Bleeding Heart is I am surprised the deer don’t like it, but apparently they hate it. More Bleeding Heart coming up.

    Shasta Daisy

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Shasta Daisy

    I have a healthy Shasta Daisy in a pot from last year and the deer ignore it completely. I’ve added some Dahlias around this daisy for color and contrast.

    Dahlias

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Dahlias

    It’s been years since I grew dahlias and this year I bought several from a local dahlia farm (Papa Paul’s Dahlia Farm). I put them all in pots. As of this writing they are emerging strong and healthy and so far the deer walk right by. I’ll need to wait until later in the summer to see if they ignore the blooms.

    Canna

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Canna

    Canna is one of my favorite plants and I have four in two different pots. The deer are staying away so far. The other great thing about canna is it overwinters well in the Pacific Northwest.

    Day Lily

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Day Lilly

    I actually am not a huge fan of day lily, but they make the list of deer resistant plants so I have added two yellow ones to one of my pots. So far, no deer.

    Liatris

    This purple flower falls into the deer resistant category of “usually”. So I put a nice healthy one in the same pot as the day Lily. The deer immediately nibbled off the tips of each oncoming bloom. Since then I have not seen any more damage. Fingers crossed.

    Delphinium

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Delphinium

    One of my all time favorite flowers of summer, delphinium also falls into the “usually” deer resistant category. Last summer the deer ate all my delphinium, so this year I planted three in a pot closer to the house. So far they have taken a nibble on the petals of one of the plants but nothing more.

    Cone Flower

    I planted several cone flower in with the canna and a Black Eyed Susan from last year. These have been great performers in my pots and the deer have been pretty ambivalent.

    Herbs

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Oregano

    In addition to the lavender I have some sage, lemon thyme and oregano scattered around my yard and pots. I think I’ll intersperse a few more herbs like mint and parsley, as herbs certainly seem to work to offend the deer and keep them away.

    Vegetables

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Tomato

    My four pots of tomatoes and one pot of lettuce are just outside my kitchen and I have never seen a deer come up close to this door. All these plants are doing great.

    Zinnia

    Deer Resistant Gardening
    Zinnia

    I’ve never tried zinnia from seed before, but the odor and texture are a big turn off for deer (I’m sure you see a pattern here) so I sprinkled zinnia seeds in the ground and in one of my pots. I haven’t seen them even sprout yet, but I’m hoping for good color from these by midsummer.

    That’s My Garden

    Since we travel most of the year (well hopefully that will continue when the pandemic is over) I need a yard that doesn’t need a lot of care, but offers the summer color I crave when we are home. I will continue to experiment with deer resistant plants, and occasionally give a deer or two a good talking to when they visit.

    Me in my garden

    There is a ton of information available online for deer resistant plants and how to approach gardening with wildlife. You can also try some old tactics. Irish Spring apparently works and I have some hanging near some plants, as does having your husband pee around plants you want the deer to stay away from. We haven’t tried that yet LOL. You can also purchase chemicals designed to keep the deer out. As much as possible I’d like to stay away from the chemicals, and instead learn how I can live peaceably with these rather annoying, outrageously hungry, but also beautiful creatures.

    http://mastergardener.wsu.edu
    One of the locals

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    Deer Resistant Gardening

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    Deer Resistant Gardening

    At Home  --  Inspire

    My System for Organizing Digital Photos

    This is my system for organizing digital photos. It might not work for everyone but it works for me. I use an iPhone and a MacBook so if you are not using Apple products your system will need to be different. For those of you who are not Mac users, I have included in this blog information about Google Drive photos (see below). So at the request of some of my friends, I have put together this blog that lays out my system for organizing digital photos. I hope it can be helpful to you.

    Photo Library
    Me with my first iphone

    What Kind Are You?

    I read an interesting article once that placed digital photo people into three different categories; casual, moderate or enthusiastic. My photo library has 59,000 photos and nearly 400 videos. I’m pretty sure I fall into the “enthusiastic” category. Or crazy. I think my husband would label my photo taking as crazy.

    I was a Mac user before I was an iPhone user and the day I realized my two devices were going to be talking to each other was the day my life changed. I mean really. It didn’t take me long to give up my SLR camera altogether and use my iPhone as my sole camera. I currently have an iPhone 11x and it takes beautiful images. Even though I have a few complaints about the iPhone 11, photos are not one of them. So I take lots of photos every day and I need a good system for organizing my digital photos.

    Photography
    Photo I took in 1980 on my first film SLR when I was learning photography in college. That’s my husband…before he was my husband.

    Editing

    Before I get into storage let me talk briefly about editing. On the iPhone you can adjust the light level before you take a photo by tapping lightly on the screen and adjusting the up and down toggle for brightness. But often I don’t have time to do that if I need to capture a fleeting moment. And so I do it in edit mode after. The iPhone editor has a wide variety of options for lightening, brightening and adding color to your images. Sometimes I will turn a color photo into a black and white photo for dramatic effect. You can warm up a photo or cool it down. It’s all very user friendly.

    Photo drama
    I added color and drama to this image taken from a moving car.

    Sometimes I use the bounce or loop feature on the iPhone and I really enjoy the long exposure feature. When traveling I find I love it for any water image, storms or even traffic.

    Iguazu Falls before editing
    Long exposure photography
    Iguazu Falls in Brazil, long exposure image

    Another cool feature with the iPhone is the live camera. I keep live on all the time. If I capture an image where the subject may have moved unexpectedly or a car moved into the frame, often you can go back to the live edit and skip back a frame or two to easily make your photo perfect. Super easy without needing to be a techno whiz.

    Old Route 66 gas station before editing
    Filters on photos
    Using Snapseed I made this old Route 66 gas station look very vintage

    The only other edit program I use is a very rudimentary app called Snapseed. In Snapseed I can add lots of dramatic color to a stormy photo. Or I can make an old vintage truck look even more old and vintage. I can make my photos look like they were taken on a Polaroid camera 40 years ago – or a number of other very simple edit options. I use Snapseed often and don’t find I need any other complicated editing software for the purposes I use my photos for.

    Before editing too dark
    Lightening a photo
    In this image I was in the shadow with bright light behind. I used Snapseed to lighten up the forefront of the image. This image also is in portrait mode, one of the features on the iPhone 11

    Types of Storage Options

    Not so long ago all my photos were printed and put into photos albums. I still have all those photo albums and one long term project goal is to eventually transfer those to digital.

    Photo Albums
    All my old photos albums from 1970-2006

    Not so long ago I was storing photos on CDRom and thumb drive. I hated this system because I didn’t seem to be able to keep these organized or find them easily, needing to pop the CD or thumb drive in and out of the computer.

    Then came the wonderful cloud.

    Today there are a variety of photo storage options available and everyone has their favorites. My photos are in iCloud, while other people prefer options like DropBox, Shutterfly, or Picasso. Amazon Prime has a photo storage program, but I haven’t been able to find anyone who uses it. From my experience the two most popular are Apple iCloud and Google Drive. Since I don’t use Google Drive I asked a fellow blogger, Slavka, to share a little about Google Drive:

    Do you have a Gmail email address? If you do, Google offers other convenient services that you can access via your Gmail email account. Google Drive is one of them and it’s great cloud storage for your photos and other files.

    Google Drive Photo Storage
    Google Drive Photo Storage is popular and reliable

    So how to use it? First of all, you need to have or open a new Gmail email account. With this email account, you have 15 GB of free space. You can use this free space for any of the connected services such as Google Drive, Google Docs, or Google Sheets. You can access these by clicking on the 9 dots icon that appears in the top right corner next to your login icon. Click on the triangle icon of Google Drive. This is a space where you can store photos, videos, audio files, documents files, etc. You can group then into separate files and share them with others via a sharable link.

    Google Drive storage is convenient for the temporary storage of recent photos or the ones you want to share. Older images and files should be downloaded to an external storage drive for archiving. Or, if you want to keep them available online, you might need to pay for additional cloud storage after you run out of free space. Currently, Google charges approx. $28 per year for 100GB of cloud space.

    Link to my blog:  https://on2continents.com

    Thanks Slavka. Be sure to check out Slavka’s wonderful travel blog on the link above.

    So, the iCloud photo storage works basically the same way. It’s free for the first 5G and then you pay monthly for additional storage. For a long time I paid $4 a month for 200GB but now I pay $10 a month for 500GB. My photos are automatically uploaded regularly to the cloud.

    iCloud photo storage
    Using iCloud photo storage works for me and millions of other people.

    No matter which storage system you chose, keeping your photos organized is the challenge. For me it’s a big committment given the number of photos I have and my constant need to access them. Here is how I do it.

    Organizing my Images

    When you open the iCloud photo library, you can go to File in the top left hand corner. Click on File and you will get an option to create an album. In my photo library I have dozens of albums. I have albums for family, friends, house and garden, genealogy, cycling, hiking and camping, and of course cats. (LOL). Then I have an album for every country we have visited. Sometimes I will combine a couple of countries to save a little space. Additionally I have separate albums where I store art work for my blog, birthday funny memes, or things I might want for holidays on social media. I have one whole albums for Seahawks and Cougar football memes.

    digital photos
    My photo library

    Creating the albums is the easy part. The hard part is continually moving your new images into the files. Here is how I do that:

    Every few weeks I sit down and delete images. Ideally you should be doing this daily or minute to minute on your phone, but that doesn’t seem to happen for me. So I go through and delete duplicate images, poor quality images or other images I don’t want in one go.

    Photo organization
    Albums for all the things I love and want to keep organized

    I check the date I last moved images to albums and after deleting I start with that date and begin moving the images (click and drag) into the albums. Sometimes an image might end up in multiple albums (for example family album and hiking album). This way I can find it easily for future use.

    Photo storage
    Working on deleting hundreds of images

    The Big Delete

    Since I’ve had A LOT of free time on my hands these past few covid months, I began a new delete project. Going to the overarching file called Photos, where all images are from all albums, I started with the oldest images and slowly am going through and deleting. I have found there are photos I don’t even remember taking or where I took them. Some photos that seemed important at the time, no longer have meaning for me (the first time I saw a wild baboon it seemed impressive…now so many thousands of baboons later who cares). And so I delete. This is very time consuming but will eventually help my overall storage issue. I am committing a few hours a week to accomplish this task by the end of the summer – it’s about ten years worth of photos, but an important goal for organizing digital photos.

    So What About External Hard Drives?

    For a couple of years before I went all Mac I used to have an external hard drive I would plug in to my PC and back up my photos regularly. But I haven’t done that since I went to 500 GB in the cloud, as I feel confident in the system I am using. However, I recently purchased a new external hard drive called Photo Stick that stores 128GB of data. I haven’t started using it yet, but I decided it was worth it to have it since it is very small (like a thumb drive), has a huge amount of storage, works continually and will help me clean up duplicates. It also will offer me even more peace of mind. Hopefully it actually does all those things. I paid $79 for it.

    So What is Best for You?

    Remember in the beginning when I asked what kind of photo person you are? Determining the answer to that question is your first step in getting your images organized and safe. As an “enthusiastic” photographer, as well as a blogger, travel writer and very active social media user, my photos are incredibly important to me in my day-to-day life. I consider myself a good photographer, after years of practice and a small amount of training, and photography is an important hobby in my life. So I spend both time and money making sure my images are protected, accessible, and good quality.

    No matter what kind of photographer you are, you can start organizing your digital photos with a little knowledge and commitment. Good luck!

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    At Home

    Covid Cocktails for a Summer Lockdown 2020

    Delicious and Fun Cocktails

    Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020

    Lockdown is easing, but we still will be finding summer 2020 a bit of a lonely place; no summer concerts, parades, fairs and events. Many weddings postponed, graduations and parties done virtually. How will Fourth of July look? And our favorite restaurants and bars? They just won’t be the same for a while.

    Summer 2020 is gonna need some creative energy to pull us through and that is exactly what I have for you here today! I’ve been “researching” (ah-hem drinking daily) for this blog for two weeks and I think I am ready to share my Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. You can thank me later.

    The Social Distance

    Covid Cocktails The Social Distance
    The Social Distance

    (AKA Tequila Sunrise) Our version of this delicious and inspiring summer cocktail comes together easily but with rum instead of tequila. Combine 12 oz of orange juice and 3 oz of dark or light rum. Pour a third into one ice filled glass and a third into the second glass and set a third aside. Add two tablespoons of grenadine to the third you set aside and slowly pour over the top of the two glasses. Garnish with lime.

    The Quarantini

    Covid Cocktails The Quarantini
    The Quarantini

    (AKA Dilly Dirty Martini) I’m a sucker for a gin dirty martini, but this version tastes like summer using dilly beans and the juice from the dilly beans instead of olive juice. Add 6 oz gin to a martini shaker, 1 oz dilly juice, shake and pour. Garnish with dilly beans and olives.

    Covid Cocktails The Covid Colada
    The Covid Colada

    Covid Colada

    (AKA Pina Colada) This blended summer treat takes you away to a tropical island, with frozen chunks of pineapple and nutty coconut/almond milk. In a blender combine 4 oz of rum, a cup of frozen pineapple, 4 oz of coconut almond milk and a splash of pineapple juice. Add a cup of ice to the blender. Pour into two glasses and top with a tropical paper umbrella and forget your Covid troubles.

    The Fauci Fizz

    Covid Cocktails the Fauci Fizz
    The Fauci Fizz

    (AKA Gin Fizz) Make this one really taste like summer using your favorite herb such as rosemary, basil or mint. Make the simpe syrup on the stove top with half a cup water and half a cup sugar and herb of choice. Let cool then strain. In a martini shaker pour 2 oz of gin, juice of one fresh squeezed lemon, 4 oz of seltzer, one egg white and the strained simple syrup. Shake the hell out of it and get your Covid frustrations out. Pour into a pretty glass and garnish with herbs of choice and lemon wedge.

    The Orange Trump Crush

    Covid Cocktails The Orange Trump Crush
    The Orange Trump Crusgh

    (AKA Mimosa) More than a mimosa this is an Orange Trump Crush Mimosa!! Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and zest of one orange on a small plate. Use juice of the orange to wet the rim of your glasses then rim the glasses with the orange zest sugar mixture. Fill half the glass with orange flavored seltzer water, add champagne to about an inch from the top and finish with orange juice. Save the rest of the champagne for the next drink.

    The Pandemic Penguin

    Covid Cocktails The Pandemic Penguin
    The Pandemic Penguin

    (AKA Orange and Lemon Granita) Use the other half a bottle of champagne from The Orange Trump Crush. Pour into a shallow dish. Make a simple syrup of 1 cup water, the zest of one orange and one cup sugar. Let the syrup cool. Add the juice of one orange and the juice of half a lemon to the champagne then mix in the cooled simple syrup. Freeze for three hours, stirring occasionally. Scoop into pretty glasses and enjoy your Pandemic Penguin!

    What The Hell Day Is It?

    Covid Cocktails The What The Hell Day Is It?
    The What The Hell Day Is It?

    (AKA a Dark and Stormy) Ginger is healthy right? Boosts your immunity too! All good things during this virus summer! Get a good quality ginger beer 12 oz. In a blender add the ginger beer, one tablespoon of fresh ground ginger (must be fresh), juice of one lime and about 2 cups of ice. Blend. Pour into glasses and then pour a dark rum (about 2 oz per glass) over the top.

    The Working From Home

    Covid Cocktails The Working From Home
    The Working From Home

    (AKA Coffee with a kick) Use a French Press to brew a very dark rich coffee. Add 1 oz of good whiskey and 2 oz of almond milk. It will make those zoom meeting way more fun.

    The Lemon Lockdown

    Covid Cocktails The Lemon Lockdown
    The Lemons Lockdown

    (AKA Blueberry Lemon Margarita) Squeeze one and half lemons or enough for one cup of fresh lemon juice. Add half a cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. On the stove top make a simple syrup of 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, zest of one lime and 1/2 a cup of blueberries. Let cool and then strain. Use two chilled glasses and rub a fresh lemon on the rim. Dip the rim into a mixture of salt and sugar on a plate. Add ice cubes to about half way up the glass. Pour in 2 oz of tequila into each glass and 1 oz of triple sec into each glass. Add half the fresh lemon juice mixture to each glass and then top with the cooled blueberry simple syrup. Garnish with blueberries and a lemon wedge. Lockdown never tested so good.

    Bra? What Bra?

    Covid Cocktails The Bra? What Bra?
    The Bra? What Bra?

    (AKA Spicy Bloody Mary) Super simple. Super delicious. Buy premixed Bloody Mary mix. Mix with Vodka. Garnish with Celery stalk, dilly bean, olives…whatever you want. Remove bra before consuming. Unless you haven’t had a bra on for two months.

    The Mask-a-rita

    Covid Cocktails Mask-a-rita
    The Mask-a-rita

    (AKA Pineapple Margarita) Chill two glasses and then rub a quarter of lime around the rim, then dip in salt. To each glass add 2 oz of tequila, 1 oz triple sec, 4 oz of pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lime. You can shake it in your martini shaker if you like it a bit frothy. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or lime wedge. You’re gonna need to remove your mask before you can drink it!

    Virus Breakfast of Champions

    Virus Breakfast of Champions

    (AKA Gin & Tonic) Duh. The best summer drink ever so you know I had to add it here. Choose your favorite gin (we usually use less expensive gin like Gordons for this and save the good stuff for the martinis), your favorite tonic (we like Schweppes), lime is mandatory. Over ice pour 2 oz gin, fill glass with tonic, squeeze of lime, garnish with lime. Drink!

    My Corona

    My Corona

    (AKA Beer) Chill. Drink.

    So there you have it. My Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. Enjoy a few of these in the months ahead, for some fun and sane entertainment as we navigate our way through Pandemic 2020.

    Be well everyone. Love you all.

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    At Home  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    Running on Empty – Hal Higdon’s Training Program

    Hal Higdon's training program

    This week I started training for a half marathon, using Hal Higdon’s training program. Ouch. I feel like I’m running on empty, as I still am settling back into my new chapter here in the Pacific Northwest.

    Even though I run regularly, it’s been about six years, maybe more, since I ran a half-marathon. Back then I was running one or two half-marathons a year, and finding it a great way to stay fit and healthy, and clear my mind.

    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Finish of the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon

    But when traveling, finding time to run long distances, or even to run at all, has been difficult. But now here we are back home, waiting to see when and if we can travel again, so there are no more excuses. Time to train and get back in shape.

    My husband used Hal Higdon’s training program when he was running marathons. He has run 7 or 8 marathons, so when I was ready to try a half, he set me up with the program.

    Higdon, a life-long runner, accomplished marathoner and Olympic Trial alum currently is a contributing editor to Runners World Magazine. He developed his training programs to help both novice and experienced runners reach their training peak at the optimal time to be successful in a distance run.

    Hal Higdon's Training Program
    Finish of the Gig Harbor Race for a Soldier

    I’ve used this training program multiple times and have always felt prepared when the big day finally arrived. The training is a 12-week plan, and starts with a 3 mile run.

    I know you think you could never run a half-marathon – I thought that too. But with the right training, just about anyone can do it. In all the races I have run since I started running about 12 years ago, I have always crossed the finish line. And the finish line is my only goal. I don’t agonize over my time, I don’t chastise myself if I need to stop, stretch or walk for awhile. I set my sights on finishing the race. And that is what Hal Higdon’s training program has done for me.

    So for the next eleven and a half weeks, I’ll be running with Hal. Want to join me? Here is how you too can get started. Let’s spend our lockdown summer running and getting in shape! You will be amazed what it does for both your body and your mind and we all need that right now don’t we?

    I’d love to hear from you if you want encouragement or to run virtually with me this summer.

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    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program