Tag Archive | travel

The Grateful Jar 2017 – What are your Blessings?


Feeling the effects of cabin fever set in, I made reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner at Pangea, voted one of twelve best new restaurants in the St. Louis area. It was located in an area called “Newtown”.

The bright and contemporary restaurant was bustling with servers dressed in black, scurrying back and forth between table delivering cream-colored plates of aromatic delectables. The hostess seated us behind a half wall, far away from the brisk night air streaming in whenever the entrance door was opened.

The menu was set for the evening – Ricotta Knudi, Filet Mignon and Shrimp, Lemon Elderberry Cheesecake, and Ancho Chile Chocolate Mousse. Dinner and dessert were divine; I was left craving more of that par excellence flavor. My tall glass of sparkling Prosecco was a nice complement to the dinner.

After dinner, we motored homeward. Once inside, we turned on the TV searching for the Dave Clark New Year’s Eve Celebration channel. I suppose the food was too much excitement for me, as I fell asleep shortly after 10 p.m.

Hubby woke me up with a kiss at midnight, singing, “Happy New Year”.

For the last three years, I’ve started the tradition of a Grateful Jar (or a Blessings Jar). During the year, you pen all the things you’re grateful for, and drop the small bits of paper in the jar, to be opened on New Year’s Day, or shortly after.

Today, with the help of my sweet little Ireland kitty supervising, I read through the memories tucked away in the jar.

Here are the awesome people, places, and memories that made 2017 great.

This was posted by my friend Abby. (She must have snuck this into the Grateful Jar while we were on vacation)

“Blessed by the fur babies I kitty sit. Love all 4 of them so very much.” Abby

  • Despite my friend Dave Reed going through cancer treatments, he and his wife Dena prepared a lovely January birthday dinner for me.
  • August 23 – The view of the bees pollinating the purple and white cleomes outside my window. The cornflower blue Morning Glory wistfully twisting around the deck spindles.
  • The artist, Craig Hosner, I met on Santa Rosa who constructed a beautiful American flag in the sand with all-natural materials — seashells, pine cones, and oyster shells.

DSC_0678 Craigs Flag copyr

  • August 21 – The total solar eclipse visible in the Missouri sky over our house. The purple and red violet flares on the corona made me cry, it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life, almost spiritual in nature. The stillness of the event, the birds singing, the crickets chirping – stunning!Sheree pic eclipse crop VEnus contrast copyr
  • Grateful for good friends to confide in.
  • Writing a story on my friend Janet Jonas, of Gentle Touch Canine Massage, Sunset Beach. Hearing her inspirational story and her love for animals.
  • My story on the Waterfront Seafood Shack being voted 1 of 5 top stories in South and North Brunswick Magazine in 2017 by the readers.
  • Watching my niece and nephews grow taller, smarter and stronger.
  • Thankful for a beautiful dinner and dessert with the hubster for Valentine’s Day.
  • Thankful for a birthday outing with girlfriends Tina, Peggy, Janet and Abby.
  • The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.
  • The dolphin excursion in Calabash, North Carolina, where I viewed more than 35 dolphins following a shrimp trawler.
  • Great friends and fellowship.
  • Being invited to Burbank in 2018 for a private taping of the Big Bang Theory by a special friend I met on Sunset Beach.
  • My love of cooking and baking.
  • Six fur babies that live with me and the hubster.
  • Ephraim, Wisconsin, and sunsets with the dogs and hubby on the private dock with the Adirondack chairs.

20170831_193551 R B S fishing

  • Unexpected double rainbows on August 20 (the day before the solar eclipse). God sure was working that week.
  • Snow for Christmas!
  • The majestic 100-year-old white-washed barn in the neighbor’s corn field.
  • Spending Christmas eve with my crazy cousins!
  • Enjoying all the wonderful coffeehouses in Nashville with my friend Pat on a girlfriend getaway.


  • Winning 4 writing awards at the Show Me Writers Conference in April, and a free registration for 2018.
  • Sneaking peaks at the cats and Bordeaux watch birds and wildlife outside the French doors and the storm door.
  • The adrenalin rush leading up to hiking Twin Falls on the road to Hana, Maui. Crossing the raging stream with hubby, thinking we’re going to fall over the drop off. Finally reaching the falls. Hearing the rush of the water, the chilly feeling it left on my skin. Enjoying watching Russell swim behind the waterfall.
  • Santa Rosa Beach sunsets, savory food, yummy coffee, the Red Bar, Eden Gardens, meeting Namon and Rebecca.
  • Walks with the dogs to clear my head near the lake in Heritage Park.
  • A sneak peek at the cover for my picture book with Pat Wahler, Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat.
  • Watching Christine’s hen in Nashville lay 6 eggs in a row!
  • Finding our friend Dave Reed is cancer free, for the second time in his life.
  • Grateful for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis!
  • Dancing the polka with my cousin, Susie, around the tables at Das Bevo while listening to the Waterloo German Band.
  • Have a publisher request my poetry collection manuscript. (Still patiently waiting for an answer)
  • Being surprised with a sandwich from Jimmy John’s by my husband, delivered right to the front door.
  • Listening to two jazz musician groups this year at Jazz at the Bistro.
  • Touring Leiper’s Fork Distillery and learning how to sniff, swig and chew whiskey.
  • Meeting David Hodges from Evanescence and Alicia Witt, the actress, at the Bluebird Café in Nashville.
  • The weird art exhibit museum event with longtime friend, Tina, where we were told by museum volunteers NOT to take pictures of the pictures!
  • Walking to the Kindred Spirit Bench with Russell, Sandra, and the dogs in October before sunset. The sky was amazing!
  • Little girls named Remy at Sunset Beach in October, and husbands flying kites.
  • Touring the Bissinger Chocolate factory with friend Abby, and wearing hairnets and coats like Lucy and Ethel.
  • Meeting tango dancers Elise and Marco on the beach at Sunset Beach in October in the midst of a pumpkin-hued sky.
  • My love of photography and writing.
  • Sharing my love of travel with my husband.
  • The ability to vacation seven times this year.
  • Grateful for my fur babies and their funny quirks.
  • Grateful I’m able to comfort friends in difficult times.

What where some things you were grateful for in 2017?





When Parents Are Away (in the Bahamas) Animal Children Will Play — Part Three

DSC_2034 umbrellas Nassau copryAs some of you might know, my hubby and I added a new canine child to our family about a month ago.  He’s half Bernese, half Aussie. (see photo)DSC_1697 Bo smaller file

Although we were conflicted about leaving for a travel assignment by AAA in the Bahamas (hard decision), we asked our youth minister Brandon to housesit while we were gone.

Since the arrival of the new dog, our other dog, a mini Aussie has been quite happy and content.  She was quite a gatherer.  We were used to seeing shoes, cat toys, pillows, underwear, among other household items waiting for us after we arrived home from errands.

DSC_1700 Sab and Bo nose to nose smallerThree days into our vacation, we Skyped with our house sitter and he alerted us to the fact one of the dogs must have been frustrated while we were gone.  So much so, they destroyed a bed pillow, and a ‘cuddling’ pillow the three-legged cat likes.  And the TV remote.

dog pillows torn up IMG_4699 dog pillows

I have to admit I laughed so hard, tears flowed freely when he showed us the photos.  I imagine my carefree attitude had something to do with the lovely Caribbean atmosphere of Sandals Resorts.

We called Brandon again on Tuesday, and he told us one of the dogs had destroyed their bed.  It was the big fluffy new ‘pet pad’  we purchased just weeks prior.

Still no worries.

“They’re mad.” I told him.  “Did you walk them twice today?”

Brandon hesitated.  “No.  Just once.”

“Try walking them again this evening.”


We touched base with Brandon on the way home.  He said they were doing much better.  Upon arrival, Brandon showed us the bags of fluff extracted from the dog beds and pillows.

I told him not to worry about.

I took a couple hours mending what I could, repairing what seemed salvageable.

After a day of chores, hubby and I decided to go grab a Culver’s custard.  As we walked in the house and turned the corner to the living room, this is what we saw.

We’d been gone 45 minutes.

DSC_2224I think I’ll go back to Sandals Resorts.

At least there we can get 8 hours sleep and butler service…

Review of Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel

Travel coverA surprise came in the mail yesterday in the form of a contributor’s copy on Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel.

The book looks super, and is an effort from writers all over the world created by Dahylnn McKowen, Ken McKowen, and Terri Elders.  Dahylnn and Ken have over 60 years writing and publishing experience, with ten of those years spent as consultants and coauthors for four Chicken Soup Series.  Terri has traveled the globe with the Peace Corps.

So excited, I couldn’t wait to dig into the book.  Russell and I motored to the local Starbucks yesterday, I ordered a wet cappuccino, and I opened the pages of the anthology.

Three local authors and I are holding a book signing at the Barnes and Noble Store in St. Peters, Missouri on June 1. Naturally, I was curious to see their final creation, so I skimmed the Table of Contents until I located their specific chapter.

Linda O’Connell’s “Ordering A la Carte” was set on a cruise ship.  Her main character had me laughing out loud. The staff at Starbucks had to turn around to see the commotion I was causing.  My laughter, now infectious, had them laughing, as well.

I shrieked with laughter as I read, Greg Lamping’s “They Only Come Out at Night” about an overnight camping trip and the critters he and his wife encountered.  I’m glad I was wearing a Depends, ‘cause I almost peed myself.

And Sioux Roslawski’s “Half Right” made me smile from ear-to-ear.  While in France, do as the French do.  Nuff said.

I searched for other writer friends in the book…

“My Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow was one woman’s whimsical recreation of a scene from a movie classic.  New York City in the early morning…  I could almost picture myself in Elynne’s shoes.

Another Missouri author, Mary-Lane Kamberg wrote about flying when the swine flu epidemic was in the news.  “When Pigs Fly” is priceless.

And of course, my essay, “No Bad Juju Allowed” is about keeping your sense of humor on a scuba live-aboard during Tropical Storm Jerry.

Terri Elders has stories in the anthology as well. Can’t wait to meet her – she seems pretty cool.  I’ll see her at our book signing.

So go get your copy of “Not Your Mother’s Book… on Travel” by Publishing Syndicate.  You won’t be disappointed.  The authors in the book are rare gems.

Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel – No Bad Juju Allowed

Woohoo!  More good news!

Just received a congratulatory email from Dahlynn McKowen, CEO, Publisher and Creator of Not Your Mother’s Books, Publishing Syndicate LLC.

My essay “No Bad Juju Allowed” about my personal account of Tropical Storm Jerry will be distributed nationwide in the NYMB on Travel due out March 26, 2013.

If you have not read NYMB’s, I urge you to do so.  There are many local writers I know in several of the books distributed in the recent months.

Travel cover

I am unique.

It was recently suggested that I decide on a ‘brand’ for my book of inspirational essays with lyrical introductory photos of which I am seeking representation.  As I pondered this idea, I’m not sure if I came up with a solution.

I am certain of who I am and what makes me unique..


I love taking long walks on the beach, and searching for shells.  The motion and harmony of the people, nature, and the waves, stir up feelings I can’t explain.

The great rush of water on my neck, arms and legs as I jump giant stride off a diving platform in the deep blue gives me the biggest adrenalin rush.

I cherish all animals big and small – from the tiniest dragonfly in the last stages of life to the ten foot Caribbean reef shark I encountered while diving in the Bahamas with my husband.

There are no bad days at the beach.

Family is important, especially since mom and dad have passed on.  I love my brother and cousins unconditionally, and my Aunt Georgia, the matriarch of our family.  They never cease to amaze me.  I call my husband’s family my own.

I love the feel of a horse’s coarse mane running through my fingers, and their soulful eyes.

Interacting with people and developing relationships is important to me.  My long time friends and I have experienced life together – laughing, crying, analyzing.

I’ve weathered tropical storms. Island people have threatened my deportation.  I’ve endured traveler’s diarrhea.  I’ve picnicked on unsuspecting homeowners lawns.  I’ve been called names by little girls in the Turks and Caicos, and even flown over the Atlantic Ocean in a seaplane during a thunderstorm.  And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

There are no bad days at the beach.

My three-legged cat boy, my butter-eating black cat diva, and my neurotic Aussie Shepherd give me endless pleasure, comfort and laughter.

I enjoy learning about my ancestors – through Uncle Willie’s Farm, or through an online ancestry registry that leads me closer to my father’s heritage in Lithuania.

If I couldn’t travel, I would shrivel up like a prune.

My transportation modes have been many – helicopters, planes, trains, automobiles, golf carts, hobie cats, bogie boards, canoes, kayaks, live aboards, dive boats, cruise ships, and mask, fins and snorkel.  Faraway and familiar places are countless, and the memories are enough to last ten lifetimes.

I believe you can’t write a story without snapping a photo.  Pictures make the best memories.

I love that I married my best friend.

And there are no bad days at the beach.Image