A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jet Lag

I really was not thinking jet lag would be a "problem" for me, but I guess it creeped up on me and by 4:00pm I could barely keep my eyes open. Thankfully, I got some sort of second wind and made it to 8:30pm. It is lights out for me now with the hope tomorrow this pesky jet lag will be in the rear view mirror!

My photo today was taken by Helen Gruniesen, travel buddy, former college running teammate, the hostess with the "mostess" in South Africa and photographer extraordinaire -perfect!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Wow, the past two weeks in South Africa flew by and I am very thankful for the trip and my travel companions where lifetime memories were made. No post yesterday due to the almost 20 hours in the air (17 hours from Johannesburg to Atlanta and according to the pilot, it is the second longest flight in the world!). Whew....

So one of the hardest things to get through once back is waiting for the doggone luggage, and staying up for two more hours before hitting the sack. 

BSoleille! The bright side of gutting through some jet lag. 


Photo of Laura Murphy patiently waiting for our luggage in Atlanta. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Friendly Sky Flying

Does anyone get tired of flying the friendly skies?  I know I really like it and look forward to being up there at 36,000 ft. and in the clouds. We had a great flight back to Johannesburg from Cape Town (a little less than two hours), and realized this is our last night in South Africa. As one of my photo indicates, the sun in setting on this trip. Truly a trip of a lifetime, and so very thankful for all of it. I will be reflecting back on how South Africa is a part of me now. 


Stellenboesh South Africa

Our last day in wine country began with a run with all six of us in Franschhoek. Pretty cool that we did that, and we got plenty of "gawky stares" while running through the streets and backroads. I am thankful we did that because the rest of that day was filled with two wine tastings and the best meal we had on this whole trip at a restaurant, appropriately named, "Ryan's Kitchen".  Awesome small plate dinner place with great wine pairings with each entree!  Gastronomical extravaganza for sure!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Franschhoek Wine Valley

About an hours' drive east of Cape Town is South Africa's beautiful wine country in the Franschhoek Mountains. Today six Bowling Green State University alums (where we all met on the men's and women's cross county teams, respectively) hung together touring a few great wineries this country has to offer. Not only was the wine sparkling and refreshing, the food was even better (I had a delicious springbok meal for our lazy lunch), if you can believe that!  The one constant thing you hear in SA is how good the food really is here and consistently inexpensive as compared to the US or any European country. It really does seem cheaper to go out than to buy food in the grocery store (and Helen emphatically agrees!)

BSoleille!  The bright side of delicious meals all through South Africa!


Photo at Mount Rochelle where Jodie and Scot Smith are staying (place is owned by Sir Richard Branson):
me, Laura Murphy, Jodie, Scot, Helen and Dan Gruniesen

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cape of Good Hope

Otherwise known as the southernmost tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The ocean views were beautiful with the various gradients of color, but this all comes at a high price of being very very windy!  

Prior to getting to the point, we checked out the super cute penguins (on the endangered list, unfortunately) in Simon's Town. Though the waters were swiftly moving, the penguins are very agile swimmers beating any waves to get where they were going, like the rocks in my photo. 

Our morning was all about shopping and checking out two markets in Cape Town. The first one was mostly a food market/ local farmers market on the grounds of the Cape Town Premier's (mayor) residence, Helene Zille. A great beautiful site for hosting a market, with respectful people and what seemed like very little security on the property. (But it's there somewhere we all know). A good breakfast was had by all. 

The second market was at The Old Biscuit Mill with all kinds of food, local arts and crafts, and restaurants. Nice. 

BSoleille! The bright side of a cosmopolitan mountain to sea adventure. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mountains by the Sea - Cape Town

Our destination this morning was Cape Town, South Africa, a quick two hour flight from Johannesburg. Flying into this beautiful city where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet was a true delight. I am still pinching myself that I am here and very thankful to have made this trip!

We are down to three since Jodie met up with her husband Scot in Johannesburg last night. We hope to meet up with them once again in the wine country. 

After a long leisurely lunch at "Mana's", we changed into hiking clothes and headed to Table Mountain. Our goal was to reach the top in under two hours (we did) taking the Platteklip Gorge route. Stunning views all around I must add, and because it was late afternoon, we opted to take the rotating Gondala back down (good choice). 

BSoleille! The bright side of exploring a new city!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Royal Natal National Park

The sunshine and mountains gave way to an early start for our last hike in the Drakensberg Mountains. It was quite hot (80's) as we trekked about two hours to Devil's Hoek. A perfect amount after yesterday's ambitious trek and low water reserves.

Once packed up and checked out we headed down to the visitor center where we encountered local women selling the mountain grass reed bowls, baskets and wares. I loved the colors and bought one as a souvenir!  I even asked if they would not mind me taking photos of them and they thankfully said yes. I then asked who made the one I purchased and they pointed to "the sister" and I was delighted to take an "ussie" with her!

We all strapped in for our four hour drive back to Johannesburg with Helen as the captain/driver. (It's a little difficult for me to get used to that driving is on the left side of the road and drivers/steering wheels are on the right of the vehicle). 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In the Viewfinder

We just finished a 15K hike in the Drakensberg Mountains through a high overpass and down in a rock gorge. Lots of rock scrambles and beautiful 360 degree views including waterfalls and wildflowers all around us. This World Heritage Site also included a chain ladder climb and a vertical rock climb with an assist with a steel guide wire. The most difficult part was conserving our water since it was in the mid 80's and the hike took about eight hours to complete!

Very thankful we are back and drinking lots of water, lemonade and iced tea!


Photos from the hike are from my iPhone. I am hoping that the photos taken on my other cameras will be even better!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa

A whole different part of South Africa is the Drakensberg Experience, mountains in the Royal Natal National Park. It is a four hour drive from Johannesburg and beautiful!  We did our first hike that took about three hours on a narrow path filled with tall grasses, wildflowers and great vistas!  But the crazy thing here is all the baboons!  They are like our squirrels, but bigger. Signs are everywhere not to feed them. They are clever things that can open doors and get into the cabins!  Fun....


Monday, February 16, 2015

"Human Sightings at Madikwe"

The adventure of a lifetime on safari at Madikwe drew to a close this morning (sniff sniff).  I simply could not have scripted the last few days any better, and I am still in awe of the beautiful and majestic beasts that make South Africa home to over 10,000 animals in this reserve. I loved the two times a day game drive, or rather, the seek and find of the many animals and birds in Madikwe, and especially love the elephants!  I could not get enough of them, so tender and true to their herd!

So this last game drive yielded sightings of rhinoceroses, wildebeests (with babies in tow), elephants, lots of birds and those funny zebras!  My first photo looks like those zebras were giddy to sight humans first thing this morning. Enjoy the few extras as well (wildebeests, and the gang under a 600-800 year old Shepherd Tree)

BSoleille!  The bright side of an African Safari. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Adventures Around Every Corner

The South African summer is hot and teaming with lots of big game. Our guide, Murray, has been great about getting us around Madikwe and providing interesting tidbits about each animal spotted!  Of course we saw lots more elephants, but branched out to cheetahs, lions, giraffes and rhinoceros aroud the vast preserve. 

And by the way, two VERY cool things here are: an African sunset and being in the Southern Hemisphere for star gazing (Orion, the Frying Pan and Southern Cross). The Milky Way is not too shabby either!

BSoleille! The bright side of sharing this adventure with great friends!!!

Enjoy the photos:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Elephants, Elephants, Elephants

The Tau Game Reserve in the Madikwe National Park on the Bostwana border of South Africa is simply the most awesome park filled with lots of wildlife and over 1100 elephants (my favorite). We were all very thankful of the "show" the beasts displayed to us on a hot summer day on the range!  Right outside our lodge is one of the water sources for many animals and we were delighted with the antics of two juvenile males trying to show their dominance to each other. (Whoever wins this game in the next few years will become a dominant male of a herd, or get his top pick of the available mating females). 

Once on the the Safari we got to see more elephants, giraffes, water buffaloes, spotted hyenas, rhinoceroses, wild boars, and birds including owls!  A lot to see on the first leg. Our next safari is at 5:30am!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Groenkloof Nature Preserve

First morning in South Africa was met with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80's. After a leisurely breakfast and quick dip in the pool, we packed up and headed about an half hour north of Johannesburg to the Groenkloof Nature Preserve, home to various African animals, floral and fauna. About half way through our 7 mile hike we did see some antelope (antlers only), as they moved through the tall brush. 

I am very thankful that the day was complete, animal looking wise, when we came upon two (quite cute) zebras near the end of the hike. I was so excited to see their natural beauty and took several photos of the playmates! We think the hot weather prevented the other animals to take be out on the range and took shelter in cooler areas of the reserve. 


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Johannesburg South Africa

The American contingent arrived safely to SA after a straight 15 hour flight. And even though we sat in the "playground" section of the plane, the toddlers and babies did as well as can be expected (I sat next to a Mom with a cute 10 month old)! It was evening and dark once out of the airport, but we finally got to our final destination to Helen Gruniesen's house with Jodie Smith in tow as well (arrived yesterday). We are set for the adventures this country has to offer. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Whew!  On the Tarmac in Atlanta ready for takeoff and  diligently trying to post this before we move. Laura Murphy and I are on our way to Johannesburg South Africa!!! 


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

All Packed

I may not sleep tonight due to the giddy excitement of my trip starting tomorrow!  A lot of firsts: going south of the equator, 17+ hours in the air on the second leg of the trip, and nothing to compare South Africa to.  I am thankful to have read the book, "Cry, the Beloved Country", by Alan Paton, several years ago, which is rich in prose and filled with Biblical references and allusions, and written before the passage of a new law (1948) institutionalizing apartheid, which of course, is no longer. A classic work of love and hope, and am so looking forward to the adventures that courageous and dignified country has to offer!


Monday, February 9, 2015

A World in One Country

A world in one country is South Africa, or at least the travel guides say so, and I am thankful to embark on a trip there this coming Wednesday.  I am referring to it as a college "road" trip with three former cross country & track teammates from Bowling Green State University that will include trains, planes and automobiles!  I am super excited to visit the African Continent with adventures of a lifetime and hopefully take some good photos of the land, wildlife and its people. 

One of our travel companions, Helen, lives in Johannesburg and put together an outstanding itinerary.  I only peeked at it once though because I want to be awed and surprised at every turn of the two week trip. 

My goal is to continue this blog while there, and hopefully with some great photos to boot, but only when we are in wifi areas (which maybe limited at times). I will do my best to record the daily happenings! 

BSoleille! The bright side of a once in a lifetime trip on deck. 


Photo of one last February 2015 sunset in Maryland 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Quilts in a Day

Last month my Possibilibees got together to sew for a day. We had so much fun we decided to do another day this month. So today we got together to not only work on some of our own projects, but focused on making four quilts (two completed), plus other charity quilts and silent auction items for our 2015 Quilt Show next month. I am thankful for the "friendship through fabric" and how productive we all were in accomplishing our set goals for today!


Photos of our lunch break (Carrie Casto, Susie Stevenson, Shelley Jackson and Janet McCabe) and a finished quilt top. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Afternoon in Baltimore

It was a great afternoon in Baltimore visiting with Josh Franek with a repast at the Alexander Tavern in Fell's Point that was awesome (I got the crab cake). And after 18.5 years living in this metropolis area, we drove through Ft. McHenry, a place I have been wanting to get to for years and plan to go back to in the summer (warmer weather to check out the fort). 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Stack of Apples

These little cuties (apples) are good and a perfect size to eat. They are 25 cents each but not available all year. I am glad they are back for a spell. I took the photo after stacking them up, and I love the cobalt blue bottle too. Apples and a bottle!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Wait is Over

Just in case you were wondering whether you should donate your overalls or coveralls (and you are not a farmer) they are back in fashion. I think this cycle is about 25 years in the making and wonder how the "younger" generation will embrace this fine fashion in 2015. 


Photo of overalls hanging around at Target today!