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!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hidden in Plain View

After seeing lots of big animals and birds in Africa, I was pleasantly surprised to get a close up of a little birdie outside my window flitting between the boxwoods this morning.  About six inches separated us and I am shocked he didn't fly away as I got closer and closer to grab the shot! I even moved the sofa out of the way as quietly as possible to get in close. 

On a Oscar note, I only saw three of the movies nominated this year, one being "The Martian", that I viewed last night that I really liked. Who knows though? May the best ones win!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

National Center for Citizens Safety

I am thankful for a busy day to jet me out of jet lag! A tshirt quilt drop off, a soccer referee meeting, and this evening, a fundraiser for the National Center for Citizens Safety in Columbia, MD. My friend, Angie Kozlowski, has been working with this grassroots and local organization founded by Lois Blevins, who believes every citizen deserves the education, training and resources to prevent and combat domestic terrorism. 

They also provide the resources needed to help survivors and to prevent these devastating crimes from happening in the future. I certainly hope these ideas of prevention will help communities remain safe and provide resources when needed. 

We were raffle basket winners and bid and "won" on two more! A great night at the Glory Days Restaurant in Ellicott Ciry, MD. 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Out of Africa: Last leg of Trip...

I am thankful to be back in the USA after the most amazing trip to Africa! The flight is long, but oh so worth it! A big shout if THANKS to Helen and Dan Gruneisen for hosting me while in South Africa, and for Helen in our adventures through Botswana, Zambia and my "foot" in Zimbabwe!  More photos and stories to tell once back home and I can organize them all (in Atlanta as I write this post)!


Monday, February 22, 2016

Rock Candy

An ambitious four hour hike in the Golden Gates Highland National Park near Clarens, South Africa was the flavor of the day today. Mild temps and sunny skies made the trek of 9,000 ft. bearable! Fantastic scenery in every direction, especially while viewing  some zebras and wildebeests in the distance. (No baboons this hike). Helen said "it takes work to reach the top!" And by golly she was right! We are both so thankful this part of the trip went so well (this hike could be weather dependent), and the drive back into crazy busy Johannesburg went without incident as well!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Clarens South Africa

The area of Clarens (northern Drakensburg mountain range) in SA is really beautiful! The charming town with the shops and restaurants is the perfect backdrop for some hiking in the area that we will persue tomorrow. It was an easy four hour drive south of Johannesburg through the African countryside of farms and rolling hills. The B&B we are staying in is called the Millpond House complete with an English garden and the owners are super nice and friendly which captures the essence of this entire place! 

BSoleille! The bright side of a charming little town!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

"Rocking the Cradle"

No babies to rock, but mountain biking at the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa. Helen is training for the huge Cape Town Race (50,000 riders) in less than two weeks so she needed to get out and ride today. Of course her husband Dan and I jumped on their mountain bikes and completed the loop! Let me say it was tough for me...mountain bike, sandals, no helmet because we forgot them, and we were riding at altitude. Crazy combination but we finished. Helen rode extra and she is in great biking shape. Me, not so much, those hills that went on forever were killer! Ha!


Friday, February 19, 2016

Breakfast in the Bush

Less than 2 million people live in the country of Botswana, but lots of animals do, and the folks in this country take their "Big Five" very seriously. This is a great attribute to have for many in the world to enjoy these majestic animals. But to get to them while visiting on a camping adventure, breakfast starts the day off at 5:30 am or so (wake up call is 5:00am!) From what I could tell, lots of game "came alive" between 7:45-9:00 am, before the heat of the day settled in. It is pretty amazing that three meals a day were cooked on an open fire (braai), in which they were all quite delicious and plentiful!

BSoleille! The bright side of a bush breakfast!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mosi-Oa-Tunya...the smoke that thunders

The rest of the world knows these great falls as Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria of England by Dr. David Livingstone of Scotland in about 1850. Unbelieveable experience to be near and "on" the falls. This kind of thing would never fly in the USA, or any other country for that matter, because of the danger. (Devils Pool was closed because the water level was too high). But with the "level headed" guides, it felt not too dangerous to us...and we took the plunge...

I will hopefully be posting more photos and stories of this wild and adventurous trip in the days to come. I am so ever thankful for this opportunity, and if anyone reading this has any desire (even and inkling to stretch your comfort zone), or "need" to head to Africa, please come and experience this awesome continent to the best of your ability. You will never regret your efforts in making this trip, ever!

BSoleille! The bright side of wild and exotic Africa! 

Photos on Zambian side with Helen Gruneisen.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sealed with an Elephant Kiss!

Today we visited The Elephant/Monkey Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort Dam, about an hours drive from Johannesburg. Two "tame" elephants (of about the dozen they have there) are calm enough (bribed with food, of course) for people to pet them. And, if you so desire, be kissed by Timbo (the male). It's Valentine's Week, so I figured I'd go for the sloppy muddy suction kiss on the cheek! Touching this majestic beast was awe inspiring and borderline spiritual. But it did not stop there. The tour included "holding hand to trunk" and going for a walk. Very cool indeed! 

The monkey side of the sanctuary harbors lots of different kinds of monkeys given up to them by previous owners.  Once many of them reach maturity (four years old or so), they become very possessive of their owners (especially the females of a home). They were also very stinking cute!

BSoleille! The bright side of a kiss to remember, elephant style!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Safely Ensconced in Africa

The flight, the Delta staff, and the "playground" isle I sat in gave me a great start to my African adventure. Two "serendipity" happenings were having the same flight attendant I/we had last year, Ella Patton (she told me to think Ella Fitzgerald and General Patton), and  my pre-flight buddy (Shane) who was on a mission trip to Durban, and my seat buddies (Yuri and three year old Albert) who were born on the same date: February 20th. How is it that the two people traveling to SA that actually talked to me were born on the same date? I should have asked Ella her DOB for a trifecta!

BSoleille! The bright side of a safe flight, landing and pick up by my hosts, the Gruneisen's!

Photos: 1) with Shane, 2) with Ella, 3) with Helen. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Out of Africa" or "Going to Africa" Again...

First and foremost I am blessed/spoiled/crazy/add an adjective, to be heading back to South Africa to visit my friends, Helen and Dan Gruneisen. The opportunity arose and I "had" to take it and I am very thankful to be making a return trip I am calling the "miracle trip", as opposed to last years' "trip of a lifetime"! 

Helen and I have an exciting itinerary that is full of adventure around every corner, and not only in SA, but a few other countries starting with a safari in Botswana. I will be posting photos and details of the trip provided we have wifi, and there maybe a couple to few consecutive days of no posts, but will post when I can. Helen will also be posting to Facebook when she can as well (she will tag me). 

As many of you know who have followed my posts, and my 2015's trip, I simply fell in love with the continent of Africa. Few words can describe the "feeling", but that is exactly what it is, not a place, but a feeling. And that is the true beauty above all else. 

As I prepared for this trip with shots, malaria pills, and packing, I have also read about our travel adventures. I embark today and leave my readers with this from a travel magazine: "Travel tends to make all of us hyper-aware of details; when we are away from the distractions of our lives, we come awake to the small moments. That's why we travel, and why we take lots of pictures. The trick is to bring hyper-awareness home with you and to keep it alive!"

BSoleille! The bright side of doing just that!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Adam Grant at 6th&I Synagogue

Two unique events tonight brought us to downtown DC, and in conjunction with each other. First was the inside "peek" at the renovated 6th&I Synagogue (built in 1908 and has a storied past) that holds many events throughout the year including tonight's lecture and book signing with Adam Grant and Daniel Pink. My husband and I are big fans of Mr. Grant's work ("Give and Take"- his first book), and when my husband learned his new book was out and that he would be local, we jumped at the chance to snag a couple tickets and go. 

The informal "lecture" was mostly on his new book: "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World", along with Dan Pink, who played host (and also a book author). It was a lively discussion and I/we really enjoyed the entire evening

Adam Grant is an author and a professor at the Wharton School of Business at U Pennsylvania. Check him out at www.adamgrant.net

BSoleille! The bright side of thought provoking ideas!

Photo of the night:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl 50

50 years of a USA sporting event is pretty great. One "big" game to settle the score on the "latest" and "greatest" football team. Win or lose, the NFL tries to capture millions of viewers and brings out all the stops. A spectacle, really. The commercials and advertisements are just as "worthy" as the game for a lot of folks. Nevertheless, hosting this event for 50 consecutive years is a feather in the leagues cap; winner or loser, lover or hater, they make it all work somehow. 

So curiosity got to me tonight and I had to check what is television's longest running show and it is none other than "Meet the Press" (NBC) for the past 68 years! Now that is some record, and I have never once watched an episode, though I may now. 

BSoleille! The bright side of Peyton Manning going out on top and a champion at age 39!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Brass Camp Tshirt Quilt

I was recently commissioned by a Brass (Brother and sisters of kids with cancer; aka, siblings) Camper Staff/Volunteer to make a quilt out of all her camp tshirts. It was a joy looking back through the years of camp, as my daughter has been a camper as well as a camp counselor (she even designed the shirt one year), and was excited to make it fun! The "fun" came into play with the outside border of colorful popsicles that "screams" camp!

BSoleille! The bright side of Brass Camp Staff (part of Special Love, inc.)


Friday, February 5, 2016

Good "New" Neighbors

Our "new" neighbors, Paul and Christie, moved into the neighborhood in March of  2015. We have socialized with them through events and local parties, but we finally got them over for a hearty bowl of chili and some good wine. It was a lovely evening, and I am truly thankful for this sweet couple who live right. next. door. 

BSoleille! The bright side of wonderful neighbors no matter where you live in the world. 


Thursday, February 4, 2016

World Cancer Day

I certainly would be remiss if I did not mention this big day in the cancer world. And I also believe world-wide, with seven billion people on this earth, everyone of us has been affected by it and knows of someone who has or had cancer at some point in their lives. Of course, my hope would be a cancer-free world; now that is something to be hopeful about some day...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When Fall Meets Winter

The snow can't melt fast enough for me, but my photo today shows that fall and winter are intermixed, just like the weather of late! Creepy fog is all over the place too, but difficult to capture on "film"! Stay safe no matter where you are, spring is right around the corner, according to that Phil (animal) guy in PA!


Monday, February 1, 2016

New Book Club

The neighborhood cookie party in December segued into our first neighborhood book club that was very successful this evening. Kudos to our first host, Liane MacMillan, who served some great Chevy's (Mexican) appetizers and drinks. Eleven of us read the book: "Breaking Night" (a memoir) by Liz Murray, and we had a thoughtful discussion about the book its nuances. One of the key components we all agreed on was how friendships (good ones) can keep us whole and it's the family we choose to help us live our lives. 

BSoleille! The bright side of learning how a bright homeless girl (in the Bronx) made her way to Harvard!  That takes a lot of guts...