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!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

What Makes Up Your Year? Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes...

I am going to wrap up 2019 with my yearly "Seasons of Love" lyrics (a wee bit of the song) that truly give meaning on what makes up a year. What makes up your year? I think mine is somewhat like the lyrics, except the coffee (I am a teetotaler). Is it in sunsets? Cups of coffee? Games of soccer? Going to doctor appointments? In making quilts? In travel? In quiet times?

Or is it as the song says?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life

How about love?
Measure of love...

Seasons of love!

Thank you all who read my blogposts in 2019, even if it was just one post. I am grateful for each day and tried my best in "all" 365 days. Though I did not post every day, I am always thinking and living and finding what brings value to my life and those around me. I am very interested in what the next decade will bring me, my family, our community, our nation, our world.

I think we all need to fasten the seatbelt and hang on for a ride!

BSoleille! The bright side of saluting all the days of 2019; the good and the not so good...


The below photo of the family was taken 364 days ago...when 2019 brand new on 1/1...and the years keep rollin' by. (Harry Chapin)

Monday, December 30, 2019

Hawaii Wrap Up

I believe that a vacation can be savored, with the memories stored away once there is some time and distance from that fantastic time away. So, too, with our family time in Hawaii this month, and Christmas in Cleveland on the heels of that trip. Now back from all the hoopla, we can sit back, think back, and remember those precious memories made on Oahu and Maui.

Photos really bring those memories to the forefront, and I'd like to share some of our favorites (and the photos of "The Best Daughter" and Ryan from their whale watching/swim with dolphins/snorkeling excursion in Oahu) that I did not have earlier.

End of years blessings and an heart full of gratitude while looking back; not only this month, but the entire year of 2019. A new decade looms ahead and I hope it's a grand one! What are "they" calling the 2010-2019 decade?



The excursion photos were done by a professional photographer on the boat of the snorkel trip

Sunset over Waikiki Beach

Photo looking out to the ocean from the top of Diamondhead (Oahu)

Luau in Oahu

Lots of "beached" turtles on a small beach in Paia (Maui)

Some super driftwood on Maui (this is on that small Paia Beach with "beached" turtles

A large field of sunflowers - we just had to stop after passing them many times going back and forth on Maui

Morning walk to snorkel on Kaanapali Beach Maui

Sunset in Maui

Sun is certainly bright; we can barely keep our eyes open for the photo op!

Kaanapali Beach (The Whaler Village is on the left of photo).

The wings were painted on the side of the building and I had to jump in for this photo op too!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

High School Hockey - Rocky River Pirates!

A Christmas hockey tournament began in Kent, Ohio, while visiting during the Christmas holiday. I am thankful to have seen my nephew, Zach Pejeau, play the game with great skill along with the rest of his Pirate teammates (Rocky River High School). The game I/we went to was very exciting with lots of goals scored by both teams that ended in a 5-5 tie.

As much as I love the NHL and the Washington Capitals, and the fast paced play every second of most games, there is something pure and irresistible with high school boys who are "just as" intense, and skilled, and give everything they've got out on that ice to hopefully win for their school (plus mom/dads/siblings/aunties and girlfriends!). It seems most high school athletics are that way, and I hope it continues for a very long time in the most authentic way.

BSoleille! The bright side of Rocky River Pirate Hockey! Arrgh!!


Below is the start of the game with Zach wearing the #14 sweater.

Zach #14

Friday, December 27, 2019

Family Time with my Mom at Christmastime

My/our trips to Cleveland, Ohio, typically include a few visits with my Mom/Sophie who is 88 years young and doing well enough through 2019. She's strong like bull and her eyes are bright and blue and we were happy to make a family visit with her over the Christmas Holiday. I'm thankful that my sisters, Kimberly and Annette, take the time for visits with her when their time permits, and of course, in between my visits to Ohio. It's not easy living in a nursing home, but we all do our best and our parts to keep her safe and secure every day.



Below; Mom/Sophie, me, "The Best Daughter" and sister, Kimberly

Mom with "The Best Daughter", Ryan and me (Bill taking photos).Chj

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Peace Joy Love

Merry Christmas! Short and sweet and sincere for sure. I am/we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams and hope my blog readers are too during this wonderful holiday season.



Photo of Olivia and Ryan from Christmas 2004 in Durham, North Carolina (at Duke for Ryan's BMT that fall) and last night.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We are loving the N’Sync song in my post title and wish all my family and friends a very Merry Christmas this night of Christ’s birth. And it goes without saying Happy Holidays as well. Today we gathered at my sister Kimberly’s home in Broadview Heights, Ohio, where we happily meshed two sides of the families including the (Kocan’s, Hennis’s, Butcher’s, Pejeau’s and Tomoff’s. We did a fierce game of a Yankee Swap with 19 people that was a resounding success. Plus the food, drinks, cookies and dancing was the stuff that makes Christmas so special.

Merry Christmas!


Kocans and Hennises young men

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Coastal Flats "Miracle"

Have you ever tried to get eight (really nine) friends together that live in a 50 mile radius? And one of those friends is a doctor who saves lives as a living? It's nearly impossible until today (and we are missing one....Beth Goldberger who is out of the country); and it's the holiday season to boot. The fact that it is holiday time just may be the reason most all were available to have a brunch in Gaithersburg, Maryland, this afternoon, and we all remarked that it's a "Christmas Miracle" that we were able to do so. These Cancer Fighting Moms (from our Georgetown Hospital days) and our favorite doctor, Aziza Shad, plus our favorite hospital administrator, Tim Mooney, got all caught up on our lives as the conversations pinged around the squeezed in round table at Coastal Flats for several hours.

For those of you who have dined in one, or all, of the Great American Restaurants in the Northern Virginia area know of what I speak in that it was all terrific and delicious! Coastal Flats in Crown, Maryland, is the first to cross the Potomac and I am/we are thankful they did. We had outstanding service and delectable apps (awesome crab dip and deviled eggs) and meals, and I hope they decide to come way East to Crofton or Annapolis as well. Check them out here: https://www.greatamericanrestaurants.com/gar/AboutUs/OurStory

As we all go into the Christmas week, let us be thankful and kind as we visit/party/dine/celebrate with family and friends we hold dear and close to our hearts.



Photo of our table:
L-R: Tim Mooney; Patty Lubin; me; Donna Shank; Marilyn Eichner; Allison Soussi-Tanini; Aziza Shad and Carmen Cheng

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Busting Through "Jet Lag" by Wrapping and Wrangling at Montgomery Mall, Bethesda, MD

One way to combat some West Coast jet lag was to get up early and out the door to volunteer to wrap and wrangle presents at the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland this morning. Though we missed our wrapping buddy, Sharon Johnsen, the family took the early morning shift to help many in the mall who actually seek out the wrapping station that benefits NIH Charities and Special Love, Inc. We had an awesome early morning set of volunteers that worked hard to made each gift wrapped unique and pretty (those bows they crafted were fantastic!).

I was/we were thankful that within the first hour, our booth was rocking and rolling with many of the passersby gifts to be wrapped so beautifully for their loved ones. Ryan and I began volunteering for this event about 10 years ago, and the past few, Bill and "The Best Daughter" have caught the bug to help as well.  Like they say, "it's a family affair."

If local and in the area of shopping at the Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, please head on over to our booth located near Nordstrom's Department Store lower level.



"The Best Daughter" and Bill

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Mele Kalikimaka!

That's the island greeting being sent to you on our last day in "paradise." Sad to leave such beauty, but the time spent with family was the most precious gift of all! And from the looks of it, lots of families were celebrating the 2019 holidays here too. I don't think anyone can go wrong in these parts of the world, sunny skies and a year round temperature of 82 degrees (water temp around 80 degrees), what's not to like?

Heading back on our last leg of the trip before arriving in Maryland, my reflection is that my heart is full and mahalo (thankful). Blessings all around this season, and if there is anything to take back besides the great family memories made here, is the spirit of aloha (hello, goodbye, love, peace and compassion.)

BSoleille! The bright side of aloha  - living in harmony with people and land around us with mercy, sympathy, grace and kindness. This is the greatest takeaway (minus the errant sand in our bags, shoes and clothing!) The spirit of aloha is unique to Hawaii, but it is something we can all share anywhere in the world!


Photo from The Whaler's Village

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Last Day in Paradise

Our last full day in this luscious "paradise" was partly spent on the Road to Hana. It's a super green and lush and miles of a very winding road with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, rainforests and waterfalls. Thankfully, all my passengers made the trip with nary any nausea (or at least they did not tell me or show signs - equally good, I'd say).

Our morning swim with tropical fish and a few turtles near Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach was also amazing, as is this entire island of Maui. Never once did it disappoint and now we all understand why this is a destination millions of people travel to from all over the world. It is stunning at every curve!

We also snorkeled on our way back home just off the road in a quiet and "waveless" area south of Lahaina (Olowalu) where after we swam and got our rental car (Grand Cherokee; note get a Wrangler instead) stuck in the sand, saw a sign that said it's pretty much shark infested waters (we did not see any!) Yikes...that's not a part of the Aloha at all!

Of course the photos shared here do not do this place justice, but hopefully, if you've never been, this may have whetted the appetite to book a trip here when you can.

BSoleille! The bright side of brilliant sunshine every day of the year!


Below: "The Best Daughter" making sure the temperature of the water is still warm...it was and all clear to dive right in!

On the Road ot Hana

It's hard to be a tree and this sign says: "Quiet Trees At Work"

This was a muddy path to some views

Another muddy path to a beautiful waterfall

While trying to bale the jeep out of the sand, we looked up and saw this sign only after we were safe and out of the water!

Does this look like "shark infested waters" to you? We thought no and jumped right in (good fish sightings too).

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Days on Maui are Flying By but Lasting Memories are Being Made!

As I write this post, folks back home and East are already fast asleep. It's funny how time and, of course, distance can "separate" all of us a bit. We know one country (China) keeps the same time zone for thousands of miles across their vast land which can be good, and perhaps, not so good at times.

However, no matter what time it is in Hawaii, we are on "island time." The days are flying by way too fast, but thankfully, the memories  made here will last a lifetime. The beauty, the snorkeling, the beaches and small towns peppered along the beaches have made these islands, and what everyone else says about them: paradise! We could not agree more with that adjective for sure, and happy to partake in some of the island adventures!

One big thing that was not cooperating with us today was the sun...but only at 10,000 ft. on Haleakala (East Maui Volcano.) "No one" could coax the sun out to rid the cloud cover over this very special (sacred, really) and massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% Maui. But the trek up by car (we did not opt for the sunrise...just the morning) was still fun and many vibrant rainbows were glowing all around us on the way up....as well as the way down. Mr. Sunshine shed it's long rays below 7,000 ft. and we were happy to be back in 80 degree temperatures once again.

Dinner tonight at the Lahaina Grill was truly amazing (Thank you Brett and Debbie Tomoff for the recommendation), as every single bite of all our meals was delicious indeed (we all earned the clean plate ranger distinction). The wait staff, chef and presentations from start to finish were truly exquisite, and frankly, one of those meals that goes into your top 10, or even, top 5, that you've ever eaten in your lifetime -  it was that good!

BSoleille! The bright side of warm waters of the Pacific!


Below; Sunset in Lahaina

"The Best Daughter" snorkeling

Ahinahina (Silversword) - only grows in Haleakala National Park (and was almost extinct due to vandalism and browsing by cows and goats)


Sea Turtle sunning itself in Paia, Maui (and bigger than it looks)

Terri and "The Best Daughter" poolside

Ryan and Olivia

Dinner at Lahaina Grill, Maui