3 Days In Paris: My Time In The City Of Lights

Adventure and Travel
3 days in paris

As I explained in my last post about shopping for fabrics and fiber, my Paris itinerary was far too ambitious for a 3-day visit. I knew that even before we arrived.

But the way I see it, no one has ever died from a surfeit of aspiration. And so, before we left home, I decided to make a very long list of all the things I wanted to do, see, and buy during my time there and simply do as much as I could.

All things considered, we ticked quite a few things off the list.

We started off with a sunset boat tour on the Seine with Bateaux Mouches. It was definitely touristy but this turned out to be one of our favorite activities while in Paris and gave me a good overview of the history and geography of the city, as well as some stunning photo ops!

They offer dinner and champagne cruises but we just went with the basic tour, which was quite reasonable, and saved our money for dinner at one of the city’s many lovely cafes. (We never had a disappointing meal while in Paris; it’s reputation for gastronomic excellence is well-deserved.)


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One-point Tomato Lentil Soup Recipe with Turmeric & Lemon

Food for Grownups
lentil soup recipe

True story: it snowed here today. Not even October and I’m pulling on my snow boots and stuffing Showgirl into a sweater.

This weather certainly took me by surprise, not just because of general weather trends that I’ve grown to trust, but my body just isn’t quite ready for below freezing temps yet. I needed to be eased into it a little more gently and ceremoniously.  Despite my goosebumps and a chill that I can’t seem to quite kick, I’m thrilled for the snow and the seasons and the winter wonderland that came early. Because it brings two truths to mind: it won’t be hot forever (AMEN!) and the holidays are around the corner (a.k.a. my favorite time of the year). continue reading

Walking The Cotswolds, Part 1

Adventure and Travel
walking cotswold way

Many people have a travel bucket list. Taking a walking holiday in the Cotswolds has long been at the top of mine. 

In 1968, the Cotswolds was designated An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. That makes it the second largest protected landscape in England. Encompassing more than 750 square miles in south central and south west England, the Cotswolds is home to picturesque villages that could have been plucked out a fairy tale and mile upon mile of bucolic, unspoiled scenery. It is also home to the Cotswolds Way, a 102-mile National Trail that goes from Bath to Chipping Campden.

A thriving tourist industry has sprung up around people who want to walk the entire length of Cotswolds Way, with tour companies that book walkers into B&Bs and transfer luggage from one village to the next along the route. Though taking a hundred-mile hike and staying a rustic little B&Bs along the way sounded like heaven to me, the same couldn’t necessarily be said of my husband. 

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Pumpkin Spice Up Your Life: A Few Pumpkin Spice Recipes to Kick off Fall

Food for Grownups

Yesterday morning, I sported a sweater and took the dog for a walk. I reveled in the slight chill in the air and the gold and auburn hues peeping their way through the trees. My Cavalier King Charles, Showgirl, seemed to have an extra pep in her step, too.

We are officially in Fall, or autumn, as some would say. While I know that an arbitrary date on the calendar doesn’t mean much when it’s obvious that temperatures and climates vary greatly throughout the country, it’s certainly feeling cooler where I am in Central Oregon. It brings a feeling of anticipation of the weeks ahead – the vibrant fall foliage, the pumpkins standing guard on the porch, the savory fall flavors and food like sage, apple, cinnamon, and butternut squash. The holidays off in the not so distant future. It’s one of my favorite times of year. Of course, I say that about every season. But the changing of the seasons is one of life’s most profound but simple everyday miracles. Simple or not, miracles should be savored and celebrated, none more so than the arrival Fall. continue reading

Finances and Football: How to Create a Financial Plan

how to create a financial plan

I’m thrilled to welcome back my fierce friend, Peggy Doviak, to share her wisdom on how to create a financial plan.

Peggy is the author of 52 Weeks to Prosperity along with other blogs posts you can find on Fierce Beyond 50 like: paying for college, advice about prosperity vs. money, setting financial goals, saving for retirement and curbing your holiday spending. She has a wealth of advice and we’re all better served by having a professional like Peggy in our corner!

Is there anything more fun than college football? Possibly, creating a financial plan. You don’t agree? You might be surprised to learn that football and finance have more in common than you might think. They both require a good offense, a solid defense, and some effective special teams.

Here’s how to create a financial plan that will set you up for success!

Football Starts With Offense

To play financial offense, you have to be proactive with your money. Your game plan begins by creating a budget. Take a nonjudgmental look at both your income and your spending. Once you know where you are, organize your information into expense categories and reasonable targets. You can make some spending adjustments if necessary.

Your budget and cash flow analysis provide the information that will drive the creation of your emergency fund, life insurance needs, and retirement requirements.

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Proper English Tea: The Perfect Downton Abbey Watch Party

Hospitality and Entertaining
proper english tea

Taking an afternoon break to enjoy a soothing cup of hot tea has long been a part of my workday. But my recent trip to England and a visit to Highclere Castle have renewed my appreciation for serving and enjoying that most satisfying and civilized of snacking rituals, A Proper English Tea.

(Grammar snobs: please don’t write to me about the incorrect usage of capital letters here. I’m just trying to indicate that a truly proper tea is something of an occasion. I’m also trying to be funny. Thank you.)

Even if you’re the only guest, and perhaps especially then, hosting and enjoying a proper tea is a wonderful way to add touch of elegance and tranquility to your life. It’s also a lot easier to accomplish than you might suppose.

Yes, a proper tea may involve multiple courses and a full-blown decorating scheme with accompanying floral arrangements but simpler variations on the theme can be just as proper and just as enjoyable. The point of a proper tea is to make space in your day to nourish your body, renew your energy, and refresh your spirit.

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Downton Abbey In Real Life: A Visit To Highclere Castle

Adventure and Travel
highclere castle downton abbey

Our two magical weeks of European travel are now at a close. All that’s left now are incredible memories and a lot of laundry. (SO much laundry…)

I already shared a bit about our adventures is Paris and have another post in the pipeline with plans for at least one or two posts on the second leg of our tour, our walking holiday in the glorious Cotswolds region of England.

But since the Downton Abbey movie premiers next week for United States audiences and many of us are counting the days until September 20th , I thought I’d write about the final, capstone event of our trip today. That’s right, I’m talking about our visit to Highclere Castle, aka the REAL Downton Abbey.

downtown abbey

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The Perfect Fall Salad: Roasted Cauliflower with Honey Tahini Dressing

Food for Grownups
cauliflower salad, fall salad

While I’m not jumping head first into a pumpkin spice latte (there’s a time and a place for that, Fierce friends, and, in my humble opinion, it happens on the first official day of fall), I’ve noticed that the flavors of summer are definitely phasing out. The offerings at the Farmer’s Market are already shifting. The merchandising displays at the grocery store have morphed into shameless autumnal extravaganzas.

With summer coming to a close, I’m thankful that I enjoyed a lion’s share of fresh tomato sauce, summer salads like this cherry tomato couscous number or my summer’s bounty quinoa salad or my farmer’s market carrot salad. I really got the most out of summer.

And I’m also looking forward to the impending butternut squash, cozy sweaters, crisp mornings, juicy apples, hot soups, and even the humble chicken stews.

But that’s a few weeks off yet. Right now, we are in that weird transitional season just before full-blown pumpkin everything. When I made this cauliflower salad the other day, I realized that it’s a great salad year round. You can easily substitute different herbs based on what’s at the store and cauliflower is a year long delight. The roasted and caramelized cauliflower brings a hint of autumn and spice while the lemon and herbs keeps it just a little bit summery.

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Fabric and Textile Shopping in Paris

Adventure and Travel
fabric shopping in Paris

My itinerary was too ambitious. I knew that even before we left. Three days simply wasn’t enough to see all the many, many must-see sights and attractions of Paris, or acquire all the many delightful and oh-so-French items on my shopping list.

But I made the list just the same. A little aspiration never hurt anybody, oui?

Those shopping aspirations included perfume, macarons, chocolate, lingerie, fabric and craft items and, if possible, six grandchild-sized berets in assorted colors. I hoped to visit at least three shops in each category so I could share my discoveries with you.

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Broccoli Salad, Made Healthy

Food for Grownups
broccoli salad
Broccoli salad seems like it should be healthy, right? After all the main ingredient is broccoli! The vegetable mothers have been trying to convince children to eat since the beginning of time!
I’m sure those moms were the ones who came up with the classic preparation of broccoli salad, the delicious concoction that is a staple of deli counters and picnic tables everywhere. And I’m clearly on a kick with summer salads lately. Have you see the watermelon feta or the vegetable quinoa salad or the tomato couscous? I think I might have a problem…but that’s a topic for a different post.

Back to Broccoli

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but our mother’s and grandmother’s broccoli salad is the farthest thing from healthy. In fact, with a cup of nuts, a cup of mayo, and dried cranberries loaded with sugar, the classic preparation clocks in at 17 Weight Watchers points!

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