Archive for the ‘Family’ Category




Her happiness was palpable

Taking Time to Stop and Smell the Roses Flowers

We had a lovely walk in our local park’s herb garden with our three-year-old granddaughter over the Memorial Day weekend. She was so excited about all the flowers and herbs, and wanted to stop and smell them all (no roses though!). It was a wonderful experience to watch and be part of, and it made me think about the famous saying “take time to stop and smell the roses”. Her joy in this actual activity was certainly an example of the truth of this.

The saying “to take time to stop and smell the roses” is attributed to Bernard Kelvin Kline in Your Dreams Will Not Die. The actual quote is “Today, just take time to smell the roses, enjoy those little things about your life, your family, spouse, friends, job. Forget about the thorns—the pains and problems they cause you—and enjoy life”.


smellpeonyThese days “Stop and smell the roses” may be a cliché meaning to relax; to take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life.

But, new research by Rutgers University psychology professor Nancy Fagley, published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, suggests it’s sound advice for finding satisfaction in life. She found that appreciating the meaningful things and people in our lives may play an even larger role in our overall happiness than previously thought.



Read Full Post »


A great shot taken by Rod Mackie through the window to us inside

A great shot taken by Rod Mackie through the window to us inside

A Lovely Wine Bar
4069 Shaw Boulevard, St Louis (corner of Thurman)
Not far from the entrance to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
Open Mon-Sat 11am-1am, Sunday 10am-12am

A delicious plate

A delicious plate



Rod M outside on the patio

Rod M outside on the patio

Our daughter lives in St Louis and we have visited Sasha’s many times, at different times of the year—in the warmer weather we sat outside on the patio but in the cooler weather people can still sit outside, as two outdoor fireplaces have lovely fires. Inside, in winter, there’s also a cozy fire with big stuffed chairs and couches around it. We sat there December 2013, to celebrate our daughter’s graduation from nursing school.
It’s a lovely place to go for a small celebration, or just to hang out with family or friends. Buy a bottle of wine—or two—and a cheese or meat platter for a relaxed couple of hours.
The last time we were there in October we were happy to use their new menu on individual tablets (some iPads), which was easy to navigate. The wine selection is pretty extensive (whites, roses and reds), plus there are a number of local beers too.


Sonya D and Nathalie M. Happy graduation

Sonya D and Nathalie M. Happy graduation

We’ve always been happy with the service there and love the ambience—informal, but bustling. The wine racks stacked at odd angles up to the ceiling are different to most others we’ve seen and the toilet doors are covered in wine corks—very innovative, as all wine lovers realize that corks collect up very quickly and then…what to do with them?

Read Full Post »

Some of the vines at Blaauwklippen

Some of the vines at Blaauwklippen

Entrance to Blaauwklippen Estate

Entrance to Blaauwklippen Estate

The Wine Center, where wine tastings are held

The Wine Center, where wine tastings are held

A Cape Winery That Has It All

Blaauwklippen is situated on the slopes of the Stellenbosch Mountain, not far from the town of Stellenbosch, and is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa. It was founded in 1682 by Gerrit Jansz Visser, which makes it 331 years old this year. The first vineyards were planted in 1688. Another interesting historic snippet is that Cecil John Rhodes became the owner of Blaauwklippen in 1899…but only for one day! “Blaauwklippen” means “blue stones” and is named after the blue granite outcrops on the estate.

In 1971 the Stellenbosch Wine Route was founded and Blaauwklippen was one of the first members. In our opinion, Blaauwklippen is one of the Cape wineries that pretty much has it all, as there are enough activities to keep the whole family happy. It’s in a gorgeous setting just off the road a bit, with expansive lawns, plenty of trees, and views up to the mountains. The first building that catches your eye after parking is the Wine Center—a white Cape Dutch-style building shaded by huge wild fig trees. Here you can taste and buy any/all of the superb Blaauwklippen wines, plus other wine-related products and some special “Weinwurst” (wine sausage). The estate has many wine offerings, notably cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot and shiraz for reds and a lovely sauvignon blanc. It is also well known for its zinfandel—zinfandel was first planted here in 1977. They also produce a number of good brandies.

Next door is a small Carriage Museum in the old carriage house, with a collection of old carriages. Next to that is a large

Entrance to the small, but interesting, Carriage Museum

Entrance to the small, but interesting, Carriage Museum

pen/paddock with animals—many goats, a couple of alpacas, and a couple of ponies. Kids love watching the animals, especially the goats jumping up and down on their special platforms. Here too is a small kids’ playground, with swings and a jungle gym, always well used. Many families sit on the grass nearby enjoying a picnic, of food provided by the restaurant—the waiters bring out white cloths and then baskets of picnic food (make reservations 24 hours in advance). More on the restaurant below.

Blaauwklippen hosts a Family Market every Sunday from 10am-3pm, a really fun event with food stalls, craft stalls, fresh produce, children’s entertainment, including pony rides, and music. And of course, Blaauwklippen wines.  People are encouraged to bring a blanket and relax under the trees.

The 3-year-old in our party has fun feeding one of the friendly goats

The 3-year-old in our party has fun feeding one of the friendly goats

At the moment Blaauwklippen is also hosting an African Sculpture collection, like a miniature Chapungu Sculpture Park. These are large stone sculptures from Zimbabwe that are designed to be displayed outdoors or in large indoor areas, such as foyers. There are a number of these eye-catching sculptures dotted around the grounds, so you can wander and admire (and buy, maybe?!).

The Barouche Restaurant (the name fits in with the carriage theme) is a very relaxed, family-friendly space with a large shaded outdoor terrace. Note: it’s also a free Wi-fi spot. We had lunch there one weekday and it’s perfect for sitting outside in sunny weather, at the tables with cheerful red and white umbrellas and awnings. The menu is innovative and the food is very good, based on fresh seasonal ingredients, all served on large white plates. Service is really friendly although a little slow, but it didn’t matter, as leisurely is the order of the day when in the winelands. To give an idea of the variety on the menu: our party sampled the avocado soup and gazpacho soup, which were very cleverly divided into two halves in one large bowl; salmon salad; oxtail-stuffed squid; butternut-filled ravioli; a cheese plate with a few fruits and preserves; and the 3-scoop sorbet with unusual flavors (melon, bitter orange, mango). All very tasty and perfect with a bottle of chilled Blaauwklippen sauvignon blanc, followed by coffee. There’s also a kids’ menu and the 3-year old with us loved the mac ‘n cheese and, of course, the scoops of regular icecream!

Lunch outdoors at the restaurant in the dappled shade

Lunch outdoors at the restaurant in the dappled shade

The restaurant is open daily 9am-5pm, except January 1st, and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays in winter. In summer, they have special Tapas Sundowners Wed-Fri, 4-7pm, and High Tea Mon-Fri, 2:30-5pm.

Chilled sauvignon blanc at lunch

Chilled sauvignon blanc at lunch

Two of our favorite Blaauwklippen wines are the Sauvignon Blanc (dry, crisp, hints of gooseberry and kiwi) and the Shiraz (very smooth and fruity with a hint of oak).

The estate is also a good setting for weddings, other special events like birthdays, or conferences.

Wine Tastings: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (winter), 10am-6:30pm (summer), and 10am-4pm Sunday. Cellar tours are available by appointment only.

Find Blaauwklippen on R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

For more information go to www.blaauwklippen.com

Creamy avocado soup, and gazpacho artfully separated in one bowl

Creamy avocado soup, and gazpacho artfully separated in one bowl

An old wagon with wooden barrels

An old wagon with wooden barrels

Fun in the playground

Fun in the playground

Our 3-year-old grand-daughter devours her mac 'n cheese!

Our 3-year-old grand-daughter devours her mac ‘n cheese!

Gorgeous setting for the Barouche restaurant

Gorgeous setting for the Barouche restaurant

Read Full Post »

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are a few personal family pics: our grand-daughter, Eva, in her “turkey dress” and parading in some of our collected Mardi Gras beads.


Read Full Post »

A Blessed Double Journey

1/1/2010: Orlando, FL, birth of Eva Naledi Mackie

This is a different kind of posting to my usual—part travel and part personal journey—but seems fitting as the first post for a new year, as we were blessed with the most wonderful New Year’s gift: our first baby grand-daughter (we already have an amazing 14-year-old grandson from our daughter).

Rod and I are in Oviedo, Florida—that’s the travel part. We flew down here to celebrate a late Christmas with son Kevin and daughter-in-law Joanna, and to be here to help them with the birth of their first baby—that’s the personal journey part.

We were very honored and privileged to be part of the long, hard labor process, which ended with a C-section, and then to be present for the recovery time and be able to help at home after the home-coming. We witnessed two sunrises at the hospital before Eva arrived, so everyone (especially the new mommy) had serious sleep deprivation, even before getting back to the house 3 days later.

Anyway, we’re all working through the new routine and it’s great to find that this Grammie can still get up and do night shifts!

The new baby’s names are significant too: Eva means “Life”, and “Naledi” is a Sotho name from South Africa that means “Bright Star”. Kev and Joanna’s baby is certainly both, and this new little life is a bright star for all of us for the New Year.

Read Full Post »

To Market To Market (1)

One of the things many people like best about a trip to France is a visit to a local market. Each market has its own flavor, reflecting the style of the region or the neighborhood. The markets give an authentic taste of everyday French life, as well as a snapshot of French culture.

stalls.jpg(market at Palaiseau)


(fun-fair atmosphere at Rambouillet in summer)

 Paris and its suburbs boast more than 60 roving markets and 20,000 vendors, plus many open-air and covered fixed markets and street markets. This explains why Paris ranks as one of the best food-supplied cities in the world.

cheese.jpg (market street in St Germain des Pres in Paris)

 Many people say that “Paris is always served first”, which explains why you can eat fresher seafood in Paris than on the coast, or why prices are often lower at food markets in Paris than in the provinces. So, where do the vendors, chefs, restaurateurs, and other food professionals of Paris and Ile-de-France shop? At Rungis. Situated close to Orly airport, Rungis (which was built to replace the once-famous Les Halles wholesale market in central Paris) is considered the largest wholesale market in the world for fresh products.


(on Ile de la Cité near Notre Dame, the Flower Market is next to the Metro entrance. On Sundays it becomes a Bird Market, below) 


 But, it’s not only about food—many markets reserve some space for non-perishable items, such as arts and crafts. And of course there are flowers, at every market in every season. As much as the French people love good fresh food they love flowers. One of the oldest and most famous markets in Paris is the Marché aux Fleurs on Ile de la Cité, not far from Notre Dame. Besides flowers, they also sell plants and gardening stuff. On Sundays, this becomes the Bird Market, also fun to browse.

cages.jpg(which one shall I choose?)

 pixbird.jpg(very photogenic)



Coming Next: 2. Market Streets  3. Our Local Market 

Read Full Post »

We want to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season. The family are here—Nat and AJ, Kev and Joanna—and we are having fun showing them around (more on that later). In the meantime, here are a few pics to give you an idea of our travels around this city so gorgeous at night, and especially so during the holiday season. winebar.jpg  (At a wine bar in Montmartre)
(Having dinner at our little house in Lozere)
(Kev and Joanna on Place du Tertre) 
sacrec.jpg(Sacre Coeur from Place du Tertre)
 ce.jpg (Champs Elysees to Arc de Triomphe) 
ce2.jpg (Champs Elysees to Place de la Concorde with its ferris wheel) 
et.jpg (golden glow as Eiffel Tower lights up) 
sulpice.jpg(St Sulpice—of Dan Brown fame—and its Marché de Noël)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Tom Plevnik Photography

One picture could change your life.

The Little Blog of Magic

The alluring travel blog.

Celtic Connections and Travels

Many trips over many years to Scotland, Wales and, recently, Ireland, deserve to be grouped together, so here we go!



kirilson photography

the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa


Ingredients for a Beautiful Life!

Creative Gardens

Grow the Garden You've Always Wanted

Minerva's pencil case

Marilyn's musings

Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Dining with Donald

Donald on Dining in and Out.


Travel and my anecdotes

Deuxiemepeau Poetry by Damien B. Donnelly

Between the lines and through the lens...

Camellia's Cottage

Lifestyle Blog

Our Visits to Japan

Trying to capture the essence of this lovely country

Sunny District

Welcome to my happy place!

Transplanted Tatar

Travel of the hidden-treasure variety

Odedi's Wine Reviews Blog

Wine reviews so good, you can almost "taste it" !