A Note to Self: Drink in the Joy


A note to self:  Come up for air and drink in the joy.  Life happens in the now…be in it, and enjoy.

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The photo above was taken while I was in Chiang Mai (in my Mother’s yard).   Now, a month later, I woke up this morning unexpectedly thinking of this photo.  And thinking of how this little fishy seemed to be taking a breather…and thinking what a good idea this is for me to remember to do the same.

How about you, have you seen anything lately that’s got you thinking?  And have you written any notes to self?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Clay on Canvas – “Still and Strong as Stone”


Firstly, I’m here to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway.

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Meg, please contact me with your mailing address so that I can send you a copy of Bella Grace along with some trim from my trip to Thailand.  And to everyone who participated in this giveaway…thank you very much for taking the time to comment.  I very much appreciate all the beautiful energy that you left behind!

Now on to the next item, which has to do with a clay on canvas piece of artwork that I created for the current issue of Somerset Apprentice.

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Here’s the artwork in print.

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And here’s another look at the artwork (photos taken at home).

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I created this artwork to express my thoughts on stillness and strength (which you can guess from the article title, “Still and Strong as Stone”.)  The stone is represented by the clay used for the bird figure, and the stillness is shown in the peaceful colors that I chose to use along with a sense of rest that comes from the purposeful positioning of the bird (letting it sit on some string) rather than posing it in flight. Sometimes sitting still can accomplish more than getting caught up in action.  And personally, I’ve found that being still very often connects me to my truest self…my strongest self.

This week there happens to be a free online workshop that’s scheduled for Wednesday, September 10th.  This workshop (“Success Without Struggle”) is being hosted by Deepak Chopra, whom I greatly admire for his wisdom about stillness and mindful living in general.  Bill and I will be tuning in to participate in this workshop and if you’re interested in it as well, here’s a link to sign up: https://www.chopra-online.com/successwithoutstruggle/

Okay, back to the artwork shown above.  I’ve included the specific step-by-step instructions in the article (a full list of materials used is also included).  Please know that if you ever have any  additional questions, just leave a comment to the post and I will be happy to answer your questions there (this way the information will be available to anyone with a similar question).

Have a beautiful week ahead and wishing you all some quiet time to think, dream, create…whatever you need to feel grounded and peaceful.

 

 



Green Adventure and a Giveaway


As most of you already know, I recently spent two amazing weeks in Thailand. While there, I had a chance to explore the Northern region of Chiang Mai, which is where my biological mother has lived all of her life (as did generations before her.)  This scene is from behind my mother’s house, located in the gorgeously green Mae Rim district. The mist and mountains are nothing short of magical.

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Down the road from my mother’s house there’s a small village of rustic huts…

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…with elephants in the yard.

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Also down the road from my mother’s house is the Mae Sa Waterfall.  Here’s a photo of my mother and I walking together through the rainforest towards the falls. It was a rainy day but we were feeling sunny on the inside…just to be together like this.

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The Northern countryside is amazing with the mountains and the fertile ground…

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…so rich is the soil that the rice grows like weeds.

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And the water is just as abundant and life-giving.  It is like a mirror for the sky…the trees…and all the makings of life.

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Everything about this peaceful place takes my breath away.

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Before leaving for this trip, I had a feeling that there was a great adventure ahead, but I had no idea that it was going to be quite so significant.

And speaking of adventures, Stampington Publications has just come out with a brand new magazine.  The photography within the pages of Bella Grace (which is more like a book) are elegant yet deeply honest and the stories inside are just as rich and full.

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This magazine is “devoted to discovering magic in the ordinary” or as the subtitle reads, it’s about capturing the idea that “Life’s a Beautiful Adventure”. To celebrate this wonderful publication, Stampington is doing a blog hop.

As a participant of this blog hop, I’m offering a free copy of Bella Grace as a giveaway.  For a chance to win, simply leave a comment to this post by Saturday, September 6th, and I’ll put your name in the hat.  Then I’ll be back the next day to announce the random winner.

In addition to the magazine, I thought I’d add a little something from my own stash of goodies to the giveaway.  I picked up this pile of locally made antique hand-stitched trim while in Chiang Mai.  I love the well-worn look and have a feeling that many of you would too. So, for this giveaway, I’ll be cutting off the ends of some of the pieces to share. The winner will receive both a copy of Bella Grace as well as some of this trim.

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Now that summer has come to a close, I wish you all a fun-filled fall full of adventures.



Thailand – Food and Flowers


I’m just back from Thailand.  The trip was incredible…we saw so much, we did so much, we ate so much, but best of all, we experienced much love from my Thai family.  It was an intense visit and I’m still working on processing it all.   A lot of unexpected things took place…mostly good things, but still, sometimes good things can be hard to digest.  And speaking of digesting, for now, let’s move on to a subject that’s much lighter…such as the food.

Bill, Brook and I arrived in Bangkok in the evening so we were tired, and we didn’t want to put a lot of effort into finding a fancy restaurant. Luckily, there was a charming little sidewalk cafe near our hotel that served traditional Thai food.  Eating like the locals (sitting on stools at simple tables in an alley, wearing tee-shirts and flip-flops) is a favorite for our family.

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A day or two later, we had a chance to enjoy some more traditional food at my cousin Jiew’s house.  Her mother very graciously prepared a home cooked meal for us.  She cooked all morning long so that we could enjoy a late lunch together.  Her food was extra delicious because she cooked with love.  I was so touched by her giving spirit.

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In Thailand, rice goes with everything.  The fragrance of this jasmine variety is burned into my memory (certain smells have a way of immediately connecting us to our childhood).

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Food shopping in Thailand can be great fun since the markets there are stocked with fruits galore.  Everything is extremely fresh and fragrant, and colorful and fabulously exotic.

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These funny looking things below are a couple of my favorites.

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In contrast to the prickly outside, the inside of this fruit is pleasantly smooth and sweet (perhaps a bit like some people, I suppose).

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In my opinion, the durian fruit is also very sweet and delicious, although many consider it to be super-stinky in a bad way.

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To clear the palate and to quench the thirst, a fresh coconut always delivers.

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Coconut alone is wonderful, but combining a dollop of it with a bevy of mango makes it even more sublime.

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While we were in Chiang Mai, we had the opportunity to dine on Northern Thai cuisine while enjoying a traditional Khantoke performance.  This style of eating (many little dishes) is both beautiful and bountiful.

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Sticky rice is a staple in the Northern Thailand region.  You eat it with your hands by shaping it into a small flattened ball, which you then use to scoop up a teaspoon or so of one of the main dishes.

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Dining while watching the figures dancing…

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…the flavors and the flowers were a definite delight.

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Speaking of flowers, here’s a pretty pop of purple (spotted in a public fountain in Bangkok).

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At closer view you can see the golden light radiating from its heart.

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Gold was everywhere, and especially at the temples.

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Although all of the flowers above are beautiful, my favorite flowers were given to me by my mother.  These mini flower-like cakes speak of Mother…

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…they are soft and sweet, delicate and gentle.  With hints of happy and floral notes.  My time with Mother nourished the deepest part of my soul.  Before this meeting I had a hunger that I did not know existed.  And now, I feel fed…I feel blessed.

My time with my father and his family was also fulfilling.  And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I will need more time to process my thoughts before I can find the words…which I know will eventually flow.  Everything that moves us can move us forward.

To flowing forward with love…this, I believe, is what we’re all meant to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Homecoming and Coming full circle


Seventeen years ago, on our honeymoon Bill and I went to Thailand.  Here’s a picture of us in Phuket.

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While we were in Thailand I had a chance to see my biological father and mother (my father in Bangkok and my mother in Chiang Mai).  After that, we lost contact (this was before emailing became popular and there was a lot of moving house on mine and Bill’s end, so our addresses kept changing and any letters from abroad didn’t make it to us.  Also, I must admit that I was very young back then, and struggled to keep on top of our family life (Brook was born within the year after our trip so I went directly into motherhood mode).  Becoming a wife and a mother, and a first time home owner (which came with home renovations), and leaving my job to stay at home to be with Brook took all I had.  Money was also really tight back then, and so was time…so I let things slip, and I lost in touch with my Thai connections.  My Thai family was a whole world away and my heart wasn’t ready to go the distance either.

Prior to mine and Bill’s trip to Thailand together, I had only been to Thailand once on my own when I was 16 years old.   This was the very first time that I saw my biological mother since she gave me up for adoption and I moved to the States at the age of 3.  I remember how intense this reunion was…my mother cried a lot (I’m sure she was filled with mixed emotions about having to give me up) and I could feel her deep love for me.  This kind of love scared me and my young mind could not process it all.  My heart simply couldn’t understand it.  And to make matters even more complicated, we were challenged with language problems (my mother speaks mostly Thai with a little bit of Chinese, and I speak mostly English with no Thai, but also a little Chinese).  So we had to rely on the little bit of Chinese that we each knew, and luckily, I was traveling with my cousin who could translate our Chinese and Thai (but no English so this wasn’t exactly ideal).  But we got by…and I could read the love in my mother’s eyes and smile so this was more than I could ever ask for.

Flash forward 17 years later…and I’m so very excited to share with you that I’ve located both of my biological parents!  After several attempts to find them over recent years, I finally found them through my adoptive family’s church circles (this circle reached all the way from NY to Thailand). It feels like this was meant to be.

I’m so happy to have learned that both of my biological parents are well (still living their separate lives with my father and his family in the city and my mother and her family in the countryside).  I’ve been in touch with them both for many months now, and best of all…I’m going there in just a few short days to see them!

Brook will be coming back from camp tomorrow (she’s been away at her camp in Maine for nearly 3 weeks now and I miss her terribly).  Her homecoming will be so sweet…I can’t wait!  And then we’ll have a couple of days to get our things packed before taking off for Asia for two weeks.  Our first stop will be in Hong Kong, where I will see my adoptive mother, Lydia.  The last time we were in Hong Kong was in February of 2013, when my father, Philip, passed away.  That was a HARD trip and I’m fearful of going back to the place where there was so much deep sadness…but I must, for my mother.  This homecoming will be bittersweet.  However, I know that all will be okay because I’ll have Bill and Brook with me.

After some days in Hong Kong, our little family will be off to see my biological father in Bangkok.  I have mixed feelings about seeing him.  On one hand I’m excited (he’s been very welcoming and warm in his emails to me), but I’m also nervous.  I think this nervousness comes from a place of insecurity.  I don’t really know what happened back when I was a little kid…why did he let me go and where was he all these years?  The last time that I saw him, seventeen years ago, Bill and I spent time with his entire family, which included his wife, 2 sons (my half brothers), his siblings and their children as well as his mother.  I was surprised to know that I had such a large family, and I was confused as to why I never knew about them.  I guess that being all the way across the world, and being so young myself, I didn’t have a clue about any of this stuff.  I didn’t know what was important, and I didn’t know how to go about things.  However, all of that is in the past.  I now know better…I have grown and my heart has grown.

And speaking of growing, Brook turned 16 several months ago.  This is the exact age that I was when I first reunited with my mother in Chiang Mai.  I love the fact that I’m able to bring Brook to see my mother, and at the same age that I was…what an interesting coincidence.  But what isn’t a coincidence is that Bill and I named Brook after my mother (Brook’s middle name is Sunoon).  Also not a coincidence is that Brook was born at 11:30 am.  If you break up my mother’s name, the letters of Sunoon could be Sun and noon, which happens to be when Brook was born (11:30 am is between the sun and noon).  Although I have not spent much time with my biological mother throughout my life time, her love has traveled with me…and it has reached my darling daughter.  This love lives in me and this love lives in my daughter…in name and in spirit.

Guided by the spirit of love, I created this necklace to give to my mother.  I can’t believe that I’ll be able to deliver this to her in person.  I hope that when she sees me she’ll be able to tell how happy I am…how good my life is with my Bill and Brook.  And that she doesn’t need to worry about me.  She can be at peace knowing that when she gave me up to have a chance for a better life in America, things turned out fine.  I can’t wait to put her mind at ease.

For mother.

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Her heart was full of hope (a feather is my favorite symbol of hope)…

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…and with a love that shines pure and bright.

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The photo below was taken at Brook’s 16th birthday celebration after Brook and her group of friends saw The Blue Man Group.  It was by accident that she was standing under a glowing circle-like sphere, which very much looks like a halo to me.

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I can’t wait to take my angel Brook to meet my angel mother.  This all feels like it’s coming full circle.  Homecoming…I’m excited and nervous…but mostly excited.  To revisit where I came from.  To smell the smells, to hear the language, to taste the food…to just be.  To bring love and to show love.

On a totally separate note, to those of you who are used to visiting me here, I’ve changed my blog banner as well as made a couple of other design changes.  Since starting my blog five years ago, every year for my birthday (Aug. 1st) Bill does a bit of redesigning for me.  This year I asked him to lighten things up some…for a bit of fresh air.  Fresh air and fresh starts, both personally and through my artistic work…I welcome this next stage with open arms.  Hugs to everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Heaven on Earth


Last weekend Bill and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary by spending a few days at the Cape – Yarmouth to be exact.  We stayed at a tiny cottage…

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…with huge views.

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It was lovely being surrounded by so much lushness.

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The birds seemed happy with the view too, since their chirping filled the air with joyful music.

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That first evening on our way to dinner we stopped at nearby Gray’s beach for a little walk…and again, we were treated to a huge view.

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On the walkway I happened to notice a board with a romantic thought written across it (“Our first kiss”).  Seeing it made me smile.

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It was so quiet that night.  The waters were calm, the air was just as calm, the light was low and easy on the eyes, and the entire earth felt like a gentle whisper.  I felt like I was at a point where the heavens and earth come together and meet.

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And again, it was lush…a quiet kind of lush, and yet very much alive.

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As Bill and I watched the light lower and fade, my heart felt full.  The beauty on the outside, filled my inside, with peaceful content.

Prior to our getaway I made Bill this card…

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…with these words…

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…that came from my heart.  Living this life together…feels like heaven on earth.

The day after our anniversary, Bill and I hiked the dunes at the Cape Cod National Seashore.  While there, I came across multiple moments of inspiration…some which are art related, as well as more personal, similar to what I’ve shared above.  I’ve been debating whether or not I should keep sharing these very personal parts of my life.  To get right into it, I am concerned that by sharing so much, I may come across as bragging…and at a time when I know that some of you have been struggling with your personal relationships (I would never want to make anyone feel bad by bringing up my own joy).  Plus, maybe you’re only interested in reading more art making related posts?  At this point I’m really not sure what direction to continue.  My heart says to show more, yet my heart also says to edit more.  What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Articles with Little Things


Inside the summer issue of Somerset Life you’ll see two articles of mine.

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One shows a clothespin necklace…

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…with a message of love.

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I used mini-clothespins to make my necklace since the regular sized ones are too large.

My other article also shows necklaces, which are fish-inspired (from our recent Christmas family trip to Spain and Portugal).

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Along with the necklaces I made a hanging fish, intended for our Christmas tree, but I can also display it year round since the theme is not limited to the holidays.

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All three fishes were made using Das air-dry clay.

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Adding a dangling pearl or crystal gives the fish a spot of gleaming light.

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For texture, I used some scraps of lace.

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I love using little things to make little things…I’m guessing you do too!

 



Patriotic Picture


Hi there…just popping in to share a few patriotic-themed photos with you.  I came across this shop a few days ago while I was in downtown Provincetown, MA.

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As you can see there was an abundance of red, white and blue in the above scene…and what a fun coincidence that the woman in the photo is wearing a bright blue shirt.  I wish the focus on my camera was better though.

Luckily, the focus was more clear in the photo below…and so is the message…

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…which speaks of “Love and Happiness”.  And the peace sign at the heart of the flag completes the picture perfectly.

We all need freedom and we all need love…to be happy…to have peace.  From my “Loveland” to yours,  Happy 4th of July…a day to celebrate independence and freedom.  And a day to celebrate our oneness as well.

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Note:  The photo above was also taken in Provincetown.  So much love in one place…how fantastic is that!

 

 

 

 

 

 



Two Birds, One Story


Can you believe it’s almost July?!  So much going on…and so little time it seems.  I have some catching up to do, and I’m planning to ease into it by enjoying some quiet reading time this coming weekend.

On that note, I just received the new issue of Somerset Studio in the mail.  And there’s an article of mine inside.  It’s a short story about summer salvation and transformation.

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Within this article you’ll see two pieces of artwork, both with a birdie.  And both using watercolor.  The first one is of a birdie in a cup.

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Here are several close-ups.

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Layering colors, textures and shapes in a playful way always perks up my mood…

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…and I bet you’re not surprised that I included a feather.  Adding a touch of nature always feels right to me.

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This second canvas is smaller, and the birdie is nestled inside a mini printed paper bag.

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Glittery thread and yellow string…to me this says sunshine.  And you know how much I love shine.

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Not that I have anything against brown bugs…but personally, I prefer the vision of a pink bird.  Something about this vision makes me feel happy and light…like summer.

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San Francisco Love


I spent most of last week in San Francisco with Bill (he had work opportunities there).  Brook had school obligations so she couldn’t join us on this trip.  Instead, she stayed home with her older cousin Stephanie (they had a terrific time bonding and doing girlie things together).

My visit to San Francisco started off with a burst of sunshine.

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And when there’s sunshine and flowers, there are birds.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this adorable humming bird casually going about its day in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city (our hotel was in the Union Square/SOMA district) and this little guy was at nearby Yerba Buena Gardens.  I was so delighted to have come across this rare sight, and this reminded me to appreciate the magic of simply being alive.  I savored this moment as I watched the hummingbird savor the sweet drops of nectar (another free gift from nature).

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Speaking of savoring, the two birdies that you see below seemed to be taking it all in as well.  When they felt my near presence, they didn’t budge a bit.  They just sat there and enjoyed the view.  So side-by-side we remained until I moved on to see more of the garden and city.  What a treat it was to have shared this peaceful view with my birdie buddies!

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Our hotel was also only blocks away from Chinatown, which to me was a huge bonus!

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It was wonderful being able to so easily get my dim sum fix.

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Also, I’ve been obsessed with bubble tea lately.  I usually get taro flavor (this flavor reminds me of my childhood and tastes like sugar cookies), but they didn’t have taro at this shop so I tried the guava (also yummy!)

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While in San Francisco I was on my own a lot since Bill had to work, but he had one full day off so we spent it well…and fully (we walked around sightseeing covering at least 9-10 miles of walking.)  The hills everywhere were definitely a challenge!

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During our daylong walk I kept noticing signs of love everywhere…

…underfoot…

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…up in the air…

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…and even within the architecture.

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It was so much fun capturing all of these little signs of love as we strolled along.  I didn’t have to look hard to find them…they were just there.

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Sometimes I don’t always see the love right away.  For instance, I originally stopped to snap a photo of this rosy-pink bush.

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After getting home and reviewing my photos, I spotted a couple in the background.  What a sweet scene this is…sweethearts connecting under a tree with beautiful blue skies all around.  Such a simple scene, and yet so romantic and timeless.

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In contrast to the quietness of the above scene, there was an explosion of colors everywhere…

…in natural form…

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…as well as in art form.

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My favorite art scene was located inside the historic Coit Tower.  Amongst all the New Deal era murals…

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…this portion really spoke to me…

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…for what it says, I wish to be true.  Coming together in harmony can create more harmony…and peace, through love and common respect…for everyone.

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As this trip came to a close, I left feeling the glow…

…of light…

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…and of love.

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Although the above photo is blurry, one thing is clear…and true.  And is everlasting…the love for my love…the one who makes me glow, wherever I go.

I hope that you’ve all been enjoying the summer so far.  Wishing you happy days at home, and safe traveling if you’re off to somewhere wonderful.  May love be with you…always.