On Top of the World

A few days ago, Max texted me from the top of the world. He was at the observation deck of the new World Trade Center. Despite the cloudy weather...what a view! I was thrilled he had the opportunity to do some exploring in New York City. But mostly, I was thrilled that he's curious about the world around him and has the adventurous spirit to go along with it.

Garden Planning

Snowy January days are the best for garden planning. A cup of hot tea and a gift of herb stakes made it all the more pleasurable. And now everything is ready when it comes time to order seeds or mark out the beds one warm spring day. "To everything there is a season." - Ecl. 3:1

Trip Planning

Our big plan for 2017 is a trip to England, Scotland, and Paris! It's been a lifetime dream of mine and it is coming true! *giddy happy dance* Plane tickets have been purchased. Tickets to tour Highclere Castle were purchased next. (Priorities, you see.) And I just finished booking all our lodgings. I've been pretty much planted right here for the last two weeks...surrounded by maps and Rick Steves' London guide and endlessly studying hotels and tea shops and street views on Google maps.

Two weeks to make a few hotel reservations seemed ridiculous on one level. But we've never done this before, and I wanted the full experience in each place. I want to immerse myself in each, distinct location and feel like each place is the quintessential experience for that locale. Our lodgings include: a London hotel in a row of beautiful white buildings built in the 19th century, a classic Parisian apartment with tall ceilings and equally tall windows that open onto a wrought iron ringed balcony, an 18th century former country estate in Scotland that turned into a hotel when the aristocracy took a down turn post-World War I, a hotel in the Scottish Highlands (haggis served there), a farmhouse in the Lake District (our Christmas present from Colette) outfitted with wellies and a hamper of treats, a stone cottage in the Cotswolds with robin's egg blue kitchen cabinets and an Aga range (can't wait to try that out!), and (at the end) a London hotel built when Queen Victoria was on the throne. 

If you're planning an extensive trip, here are some things I learned in my planning:
- Set a budget and try your best to stick to it with each booking. If it's a bit over, but includes breakfast, it's probably still on budget.
- Maps are your friend. And Google Maps street view is your BEST friend. It enables you to check out the surrounding area.
- Rick Steves is a good starting place, but don't overlook Trip Advisor reviews too.
- Check out the traveler photos of hotels on Trip Advisor.
- Hotels are great, but get creative and check out Airbnb and other such sights for more distinct offerings.
- And when all else fails, try Expedia, which, despite what the hotel sites tell you, sometimes beats the hotel's best price.

Resolve to...

This week, I made good on my resolve to keep fresh flowers in the house more often this year. My favorite, reasonably-priced sources for fresh flowers are: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods (these beauties came from there), and local farms (in season). 

What have you resolved to do this new year?
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