Monday, January 29, 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Outback of Australia

I took this photograph on the road to the sacred site of Uluru.
The land and sky scapes are extraordinary. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Tennis Time

If you can't watch the Australian Open in person, you can join the group at Federation Square, in the center of Melbourne, enjoying the tennis.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Australia, Here I Come

I'm waiting in Newark Airport for my first flight to Vancouver. I am scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on Monday morning.

I am hoping to post a photograph a day on this trip. Not a lot of words, but pictures to share with Buttercupland. It may not always be possible, but I'll post when I can.

As ever, thanks for visiting. On to Australia!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It's My Blogaversary and I'll Party -- Because Why Not?

Buttercupland is nine years and a week old and it's time for a party. This is the same fun animal celebration that I posted at the first blogaversary. I'd like to think that things have grown a little more sophisticated through the years, but I also enjoy that Buttercupland is a place where we all can have fun together.

On my first blogaversary I wrote:

And my blogging goal for keep blogging, even when I come home at night and I'm tired and not very inspired. To be a good friend to my blog friends around the world and to keep my focus on all that is good and positive and joyful. Here's to 2010 and all the friendship and wonder and surprises that are yet to be discovered.  And now let's party!

And on my second blogaversary I added:
The paragraph above is from my post on January 11, 2010, exactly a year ago. I had no idea about all the friendship and wonder and surprises that were to be discovered in Buttercupland in 2010. I certainly had no idea of the joy I would be given. An immense and deeply felt thank you to my friends in Blogland. You have all given so much to my life and it is difficult to imagine the last year without any of you. And now let's party!

When I read both of these past blog quotes there's not a word I'd change. Nine years since my first post I still offer an immense and deeply felt thank you. And, once again, let's party.
I'm doing a blogaversary giveaway -- what's a party without favors! -- and I'll choose a surprise in Australia. Just leave a comment and be a Google+, Bloglovin or Google friend and I'll randomly pick one winner when I get back in February. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and thanks for being part of the fun!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Koala Dreaming on Such a Winter's Day

It's Australia for the Seven Continents

I've loved to travel from the earliest age when my family would take a car trip in the summer in New England. It doesn't seem exotic now, but we spent every spring talking about our next trip. We got into the car with maps and a couple of suitcases and drove to our destination. We had no reservations -- always seemed to find a cabin every night along the way -- and without long lists of restaurants and a lot of planning we enjoyed the trip.

I couldn't have conceived in the 1960s that I'd now be approaching my goal -- much more recently thought of -- of traveling to all seven continents. But if all goes as planned -- I'm counting on you, Air Canada -- I will be landing in Melbourne. Australia on Monday. I've got a few days on my own in Melbourne and at the end of trip in Sydney, but the rest of the time I'm traveling with a group to Alice Springs, Yulara, Cairns and finishing in Sydney. I'm excited and a little anxious. Air travel has gotten so much more complicated since my first flight in 1966 when I wore a dress and heels (really!) and I've gotten a little less agile. But I doubt if I will be more agile if I wait to take the long and complicated trips I want to take.

In the fall of 2016 I thought about places I wanted to visit. Santa Fe, New Mexico and Australia were at the top of my list. I booked my trip for Santa Fe at that time, not knowing that the very well-priced opportunity to visit Antarctica would come along. I ended up visiting Santa Fe in addition to Antarctica. I had no concrete thought of visiting Australia, just knowing I wanted to. Last summer, my friend K and I were talking about places we wanted to travel and for both of us, Australia was at the top of our lists. It's a big splurge, but both the time and the companion fell into place and Melbourne, here I come!

Is there anything else on my list? Of course! I hope to visit all six New England states this year, and in the far distance of sometime -- England, South Dakota and New Zealand. 

Once again, this winter we wait for more snow. Back to boots and hat. As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cozy!

Friday, January 12, 2018

To Look for the Light in the World

In the past I've chosen a word for the year and in a week or so the word has drifted out of my consciousness. But this year I've spent time thinking about my word for the year, health. I knew spiritual health had to be part of my good health focus, but I was having trouble defining how I wanted to further advance my spiritual health. Until this afternoon...

Every week my congregation receives an email with thoughts for the Sabbath written by one of our rabbis. There was a paragraph in this week's email that spoke to me. It was written by Rabbi Roly Matalon, who has been with our congregation for decades. His strong presence has been a comfort in many, many difficult times. He wrote:

As a person of faith, I believe that God strengthens us and guides us as we take on the challenges before us. I believe that God helps us to discover that we are stronger and more resilient than we think, that there is more light in the world than appears to the eye, that there is inspiration to be found to lift us and to move us forward.

With both physical and financial health I have concrete goals, but with spiritual health my goals are more amorphous. In a world that too often seems gray and brooding, my goal will be to look for the light in the world and when possible to create more light in the world. This is nothing that can be done with a checklist, but I will listen to the still small voice inside and move toward the light. 

As always thanks for visiting and take good care!  


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We're Having a Heat Wave, a (Not so) Tropical Heat Wave

My perfect inspiration from my favorite artist, Neil Myers

When I put this post together yesterday, New York was still in the midst of one of the coldest weather patterns I can remember here. But overnight life returned to winter normal and I very happily went out in less than my arctic wear. I had on "just" a winter coat and gloves -- no hat and no boots. I did a little closet decluttering and started my day with a quick trip to the Salvation Army. I'm optimistic that I will reclaim large portions of my storage closet in 2018!

One of my major inspirations during the polar freeze was the painting shown above. It's a watercolor done by one of my favorite artists, Neil Myers. His work includes many paintings of the American Southwest, but I was especially fortunate to acquire this beautiful watercolor of Provence. It hangs over my computer and while I'm typing I'm also enjoying the view of the lavender fields. It's not quite being in Provence, but it's a wonderful inspiration on a cold, cold day, or any day! Also a big thanks to my friends at GK Framing in Lower Manhattan who worked magic framing this painting. 
The winner of the PBS Kids Giveaway is Denise!
Denise, I will be in touch to get your address and send the video to you. Congratulations!
Now I'm off for another walk while it's sunny and (relatively) warm. As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Pink Saturday Goes to a Winter Wonderland

Central Park via Snapseed

After a complete day spent in my apartment building on Thursday because of the snowstorm, it was a mental and physical health necessity that I get some air and exercise on Friday. There was less than a foot of snow, but I'm not a model of balance and I dread slippery sidewalks, piles of snow where there should be crosswalks and mini-mountains at bus stops. Nonetheless I planned my route via subway to the Time Warner Center where I could walk indoors and then easily cross the street -- there's a lot of foot traffic in this area -- and visit Central Park. 

The temperature had warmed up to an almost balmy sixteen degrees by the time I got to Central Park. I had on enough layers for almost any (brief) outdoor activity, including a hat and my coat hood and hand warmers and really enjoyed being out of doors.

The view of Columbus Circle, looking east, taken in the Time Warner Building  

I also enjoyed my visit to the Time Warner Building, which is a very nice shopping center. Being inside and passing just about every store -- many sales -- was a great temptation during No Spending January. I was especially tempted at Sephora, but was I content sampling several very upscale hand lotions. It would have been nice to get a makeover, but I didn't think I had the fortitude to resist more makeup that I don't need. Hand lotion sampling for the win.     

This is the same view as the photograph above from a different angle.
Central Park is directly across the street.
Today was still cold, but the sidewalks were clearer and getting across streets was easier. I ventured beyond my immediate few blocks and saw "The Post," which I enjoyed a lot. I may even take the bus across Central Park in the next few days and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of course there will be pictures.

Once again, I'm delighted to join my friends at Pink Saturday for weekend fun. I hope you had fun this weekend, too, whether it was keeping cozy from the cold or enjoying being outdoors.

Thanks for visiting and take good care!

Friday, January 5, 2018

We've Got a Wild Winter Weekend Giveaway!

I don't know about your house, but here in Buttercupland we're getting a little stir crazy. I'm sure the junior citizens of Buttercupland are especially restless. Thanks to our friends at PBS Kids we've got a treat to make these winter days livelier. I'm doing a weekend giveaway of Wild Kratts Wild Winter Creatures. Join Martin Kratt and Chris Kratt on four snowy winter adventures. Meet rare wildlife and have fun, too! Thanks, PBS Kids.

This is a weekend giveaway and it closes Sunday night, January 7 at 11:59 p.m. I'll announce the winner on Monday, January 8. Please be a friend of Buttercupland on Bloglovin, Google+ or Google and leave a comment about your favorite winter activity. Easy, peasy!

On cold winter days I like cooking/baking. I like curling up in an afghan and drinking coffee and reading magazines or doing a crossword puzzle. I'm also especially enjoying blogging this winter. I've gotten a new spark and have lots of thoughts to share.

The snow stopped here last night and most of the sidewalks have been shoveled. It was nippy today, but I got to Central Park to see the snow and it was lovely. I'll be sharing my pictures over the weekend. It was cold, but worth bundling up to see the scenery.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and keep cozy.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Welcome to No Spending January

January 3, 2018 at Bed and Bath on Broadway.
 Clearly no one got the memo that it's No Spending January.

I've been thinking about my word of the year, "Health." When I initially chose it my perspective was pretty narrow. I was simply thinking of physical health and actions I wanted to take to improve my balance, weight and well-being. But in the last few days I've realized that (good) health includes much more than my physical health. It starts there, but once I let my mind wander I thought of financial health, intellectual health and spiritual health. It seems like too much to think about, even for an entire year. But I am going to pick one goal for each of these areas that will be specific and achievable.

My goal for improving my financial health is bringing back an old friend, No Spending January. This is as simple as it sounds. After the spending excesses of December I don't spend money on "things" in January. I can buy groceries, go to the movies, and pay my regular bills. But I don't make spur of the moment purchases for things I don't really need. I generally plan purchases, but I've been known to buy a new brand of shampoo when it's on sale, even though I have enough shampoo to wash my hair through the end of this decade. I will stay away from post-Christmas sales and won't look at emails offering giant discounts on clothes I probably don't need. In the interest of transparency I am thinking of using a gift card I received and buying a suitcase to replace one that is very heavy.    

In Manhattan temptation is everywhere. I took the photographs in this post yesterday walking from the gym to the bus stop. Literally every street corner seems to whisper "Buy something here." I'm usually disciplined, but a lapse here and there can eat a hole in my budget and I don't have much to show for these lapses.

This is the scene at the bus stop. It's so tempting to duck in and warm up while I'm waiting for the bus and just see what's on sale. Don't I need another pair of jeans or another pair of socks if they're on sale? Not if it's No Spending January.

My only purchase thus far is an e-book for my book club next week. I had hoped my reserve would come through from the library, but the I didn't make it off the waiting list. I used a gift card to buy Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You. 
What are your money saving tips for 2018?  

I didn't make it out of the house today. We had about 8 inches of snow, but it was windy and slippery and in the interest of prudence I stayed in, read and baked cookies. I also watched endless hours of weather coverage.

As always, thanks for visiting. Take care and stay warm.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow...

Actually, sleet will stop me
Last year I embarked on the journey of 1000 miles. My goal was to walk 1,000 miles in 2017. I was optimistic, but not entirely confident I would succeed. But I kept walking -- an average of 2.8 miles a day and on December 12 I walked a thousand miles. At the end of the year, last Sunday, I completed 1,039 miles. Was it difficult to do? No. Was it easy to do? No. Am I happy I did it? Yes!
Hot days sidetracked me. Sleet and icy days sidetracked me. Having the flu sidetracked me and breaking my shoulder took out some of February. Putting these days aside, there were approximately 300 days when walking was part of my routine. Living in New York makes it relatively easy. I can walk to the library, grocery shopping and the gym. I walked a mile this morning doing small neighborhood errands and wasn't outside more than four blocks at a time. 
If I did little else in a day, I was always glad I walked. So glad I walked that I'm doing the journey of 1,000 miles again in 2018 and hoping to surpass my 1,039 miles this year. I'm part of a formal #team1000 group on WeightWatchers Connect and it's great to have "friends" to walk with throughout the country. It's daunting to think of walking 1000 miles, but less daunting to know that I will do this in small increments. I have 996.8 miles to go and I'm excited to see where my sneakers and I will be going this year.  
I've been asked about practical details of my walking and here are a few particulars. I wear good sneakers almost all of the time with orthotics. I don't have a Fitbit, but use the Pacer app on my phone. It works well for me and I like the trend features. I note my mileage during the day and if I see I'm at 2.9 miles I've been known to walk an extra block to make it to 3 miles. My goal for every day is 6,000 steps. No, it's not the famed 10,000 steps, but I found this is a realistic goal for me. I'd rather accomplish my goal nine out of ten days, than succeed twice a week.   
Is anyone else joining me for the journey of 1,000 miles? I'd love to have company.
It's still cold here, but I got out for errands and now I'm enjoying blog time and a cup of tea. If you're in the freezing areas of the country, what are your cold weather activities?  
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and keep cozy!

Monday, January 1, 2018

(Good) Health

Good-bye, 2017 and a big welcome to 2018
The thought of my "perfect word" for the new year usually begins sometime in November. It's not a conscious act of thought, but words just float into my mind. I don't seek a word, but rather the word finds me. The word that found me for 2018 is (good) health. I became sick Thanksgiving weekend. I saw the doctor, followed her advice and after a week believed I had recovered. The middle of the next week my cough started again, but fatigue, glassy eyes and feeling generally miserable came with it. At the time I thought it was "just" a cold, but looking back I think it was more likely a mild case of the flu. Whatever it was it knocked me down, and I spent last week resting and getting my energy back. But this relatively mild bout of illness made me realize what my word for 2018 needed to be:
I take good care of myself and despite past major health issues I feel somewhat invincible. I'm blessed with energy, I eat reasonably well and I exercise. That said, I don't drink enough water, I skip strength training at the gym at the slightest provocation and there are days when vegetables are not a major part of my diet. It's past time to add some healthier habits, beginning with these three things. I know I'm not invincible -- one quick slip in my living room last year sidelined me with a broken shoulder for months -- and each year will add new challenges. This year I'm starting with more water, more veggies and more trips to the gym, starting this week.  
I did a lot of walking last year -- a blog post about my journey of 1000 miles will be published  tomorrow -- and will keep it up this year. But there's a whole lot more to add. After a great (and veggie filled) brunch with friends I attended a program on essential oils. I found it very interesting and look forward to figuring out what might be helpful for me. I'm not adding a million new things, but I'm open to learning about healthy practices that are new to me. 
The last few weeks have reinforced that health is the most precious of gifts and one not to be squandered. I raise a big glass of water to toast the good health of all in Buttercupland and wish everyone health, happiness and energy to enjoy our days. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and happy and very healthy wishes!