Summer Vacation 2018: London and Beyond!

So this past August I took an amazing trip to London and Paris with my two friends Pam and Darlene. We had a blast, saw tons of awesome stuff, and walked miles and miles and miles!  I know I probably should have written all this stuff down sooner, but we did a LOT, so the prospect was a bit overwhelming! However, with Holidailies, I figured what better time to finally get all these great memories recorded for posterity!



My friend Darlene was already in London with her brother visiting family, so Pam and I travelled together. We flew on British Airways which I highly recommend as it was probably one of the best flying experiences I've ever had! Even in coach the seats were comfortable and there was plenty of legroom. We had two large meals, free wine, and new movies to view on our own personal viewing screen (also free!)! Since the flight to Heathrow was overnight, however, I only watched 1 movie (Avengers: Infinity War) and spent the rest of the time trying to sleep. We arrived early afternoon to beautiful sunshiny weather. Originally Darlene was going to meet us, but she was not able to, so Pam and I decided to just take a cab to the hotel rather than fight the Tube with all our bags and stuff. It worked out perfectly, and we were able to see a lot of the city as we were driven in. 





The hotel Darlene chose (Park Plaza Waterloo) was really nice and in a perfect location just around the corner from Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament, and the London Eye. The Tube and bus stops were all right across the street! Pam and I had a chance to unpack and relax a little before Darlene arrived and we hit the ground running! The Hotel had a free evening reception for the upper three floors which included salads, snacks, and wine or soda. It was really nice and there was lots of food to choose from (we did learn , however, that it is best to get there right when the reception starts, as if you're even a half hour late there will be very little food left!), and the view from the observation deck was spectacular! After eating, we went for a walk and headed down towards the Thames river to check out the London Eye (but didn't ride it ... not yet!). We spotted Big Ben on the other side of the Thames all covered in scaffolding as it's undergoing a refurbishment at the moment. It is also silent, as the famous bells have been shut off while the work is being done to protect the workers. It will only chime on special occasions such as New Year's Eve, and the refurbishment is expected to take until 2021. We've already decided we have to come back to London that year so we can hear the "bongs"!

London eye2

London eve2

After wandering around until after sunset, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the adventure that awaited us! In just over a week we will visit London, Warwick Castle, Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Paris! 

TGIF: New Shutterfly Bag

Hi, everyone, and TGIF! A while ago I mentioned getting a free reusable shopping bag from Shutterfly after redeeming a coupon I got at Von's. It came out really nice, see?


I also got coupons for a free set of coasters, and a calendar, both of which turned out beautiful! Recently I got another coupon for another free reusable shopping bag, and jumped on it right away. It only took a few weeks after ordering to arrive, and I can't wait to see how it turned out! 


Inside they also include instructions on how to fold the bag so it will fit easily in your purse, or maybe even a pocket!


I really like the pretty pattern on the back of the bag. They colours are really great for fall and winter, I think!


And, here is the front! I used several photos from my recent super fun trip to Portland to visit my very dear friend Darlene. The pictures came out great, and I really like how this bag turned out!


I am really impressed with the Shutterfly products I've received. By the way, this is totally NOT a sponsored post! I just enjoy sharing the cute and very well made items I've received from this company, all of which have been through coupons, so the items were free. All I paid for was the shipping and handling, which came out to around $7.00 or $8.00. Such a great deal! If you ever get a grocery store coupon for a free bag, or calendar, or anything from Shutterfly, go for it! You will NOT be disappointed! Hope you're all having a great week! Cheers!

2016 Photo Calendar

I'm not sure if this counts as a Thingadailies entry becauase, although I personally took all the photographs in this calendar (and enhanced the following pictures of each month's picture using the Urbane filter from Picmonkey), the calendar itself was made by Shutterfly. Still, I'm posting it and you can decide for yourselves if it counts as a "thing" or not!

This personalized 8 X 11 calendar usually retails for $24.99 on Shutterfly, but I received a coupon from Vons for a free calendar, so I only paid $7.95 (or something like that) for shipping and handling. Since I didn't have a calendar for 2016 yet, and I didn't have time to actually make one because it was well past January 1st, I decided to try this out. It was super easy and they have lots of different themes and background designs to choose from. You can even make a collage with multiple photos, and add text to it. I decided to use the "Art Gallery" theme, which was just a plain white background, and use the full photo option to showcase my photographs rather than adding anything to them.

I chose "Garden Zen" for the theme of my 2016 calendar, and used photos of various garden statuary from my own backyard as well as some public gardens around the area, and some flowers from my garden. I think it turned out great, and I enjoy looking at it! I hope you enjoy it as well!



My cover shot is a stacked stone sculpture in my back yard.


January featured one of my gnomes, also in my back yard.


February has the shot I call "Diana Flowers". It's a picture of a flowering tree in SLO enhanced with the Diana filter from a photo app on my phone.


March is a shot of the Alice in Wonderland statue and display in the garden behind Heart's Ease in Cambria, CA.


This little daffodil used to bloom in my back yard, but hasn't come up for a couple years. Thankfully I took a great picture of it and will be able to enjoy looking at it in April.


This serene dragon is also in Heart's Ease in Cambria, and will be featured in May.


For June I chose this Buddha statue which was for sale at The Garden Gallery in Morro Bay, CA.


July features a gorgeous bloom from my Midas Touch rosebush.


August features another Buddha, this time from the back garden of a little bookstore and wedding chapel in Morro Bay, CA.


For September (the month of the Central Coast Writer's Conference and also National Banned Books Week), I chose this adorable little fairy reading a book. I believe it was also in the bookstore garden.


October features some of the metal garden art I have in my back yard. The "Garden" and little birds I got at Hand's Gallery here in SLO, and the tall "tree" with the birdfeeder and thermometer I picked up on sale at OSH.


For November I picked this cool head planter I found at The Garden Gallery in Morro Bay. (Now that I look at him, I think I should've used him for December because he could easily pass for a Santa!)


And finally I'm ending the year on a serene note with another Buddha also from the bookstore garden in Morro Bay.

So, have you picked out your 2016 calendar yet? What kind of calendar do you like - beaches, puppies, inspirational quotes, firehouse hunks? Let me know in the comments! Cheers!

Friday Five January 15

God, but this has been a crappy week! Tears for days! We lost David Bowie AND Alan Rickman! WTF? We also lost a local judicial officer, Commissioner Sefton. (I never had the opportunity to work with him, but I understand from people who did that he was a pretty nice guy.) We've also had a lot of chaotic changes at work, and just when we thought it was settling down into a nice little routine,  the chaos starts again.

le sigh!

So, anyway, I've been trying to think of something positive and upbeat to give you (and me!) on this semi-rainy, end-of-a-rotten week TGIF, and have decided to share five photos I took of pretty, serene garden statutes, which I included in my new calendar from Shutterfly (titled "Garden Zen"), and hope to receive soon. Please enjoy! Have a peaceful, lovely, joyous weekend. Cheers!









P.S. Are you going to Weetacon? I'm considering a couple of these pictures for the charity raffle. Would you put a ticket in a bag for an 8X10 of one of these pictures? (Or even a 5X7?) If so, which one? Let me know in the comments! It's about time to get going on my charity donation items!!!

R is for Red

This past Saturday my mom and I went down to the Grape Encounters EmPOURium in downtown Atascadero and I had a One Way Red Flight. It was a lot of fun, and I got to try some delicious new-to-me red wines. I'll be posting a more detailed entry about this adventure soon, so stay tuned! I turned to PicMonkey once again to enhance this picture by first cropping it, then using the Urbane filter to soften it. Cheers!