Easton Place

Isle of Skye, Scotland

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If someone had granted me the gift of creating the most beautiful day in Scotland possible, I wouldn't have done as good a job as Mother Nature did when I visited the Isle of Skye. My husband and I were visiting Scotland with two of our dearest friends. The first leg of the trip, we rented Highland Apartments by Mansley in Inverness. From there we were able to drive to a few spots in the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Skye being one of them! 

Carron Restaurant in Strathcarron.

Our first find along the way was in Strathcarron, were we stopped for a mid-morning snack. There, next to Loch Carron, was the cutest little restaurant which served delicious house-made muffins and scones, and tea, along with full meal items and Scotch, of course. After enjoying a bite, we returned to the car and traveled up to the Isle of Skye. Upon arrival, the sky completely cleared and the sun came out full force. It was absolutely the loveliest weather.

Our adventure took us to a castle ruin, a field of sheep (ok. that's pretty much everywhere.), through some of the most darling villages, and down some of the most narrow roads I've ever been on. And in case you're wondering, the traffic was two way! Polite driving is a must, especially when meeting a large tourbus coming from the opposite direction!

We were enjoying our adventure so much, we forgot to think about food until all of us were peckish. So we stumbled upon a little market, and picked up some hummus, fresh veggies, crackers, water and fruit. With weather like we were having, we didn't mind enjoying a car picnic! 

On our way back, we had a little mishap with the car, and needed to be towed. (Side note: It is always a good idea to pay the extra $6 per day for roadside assistance insurance.) Long story short, we and our rental car took rides on/in two different flatbed trucks, and that was an adventure in itself! I have said over and over, the people of Scotland are kind as the Summer day is long! The second tow truck driver we had, Angus, even stopped along the way so we could have a few photos in front of Eilean Donan Castle. By then the sky had become quite moody and dramatic. In other words... Perfect!

  Eilean Donan Castle  at night.

Although we had a bit of misfortune with the rental car, we kept our sense of humor and ended up laughing most of the rest of the night. It was a really long day, filled with memory making adventures. Of course, this view from our apartment was a lovely way to end each night regardless.

 View of  Inverness Castle  from our apartment's balcony.

View of Inverness Castle from our apartment's balcony.

Iceland, 2017

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I had the terrific fortune of traveling with my husband and two sons to Iceland. Our older son had just completed his freshman year at college, and our younger son was about to begin his senior year in high school, so we wanted to take a bit of a celebratory holiday. It was a fun week full of adventure, delicious food, lots of laughs, and new experiences.

 The view from Reykjavik water's edge.

The view from Reykjavik water's edge.

Whilst we were there in July, the sun didn't really set. It was the time of the "Midnight Sun", and that saying is spot on! My younger son, Ben, and I stayed up to see what the Midnight Sun looked like, and it pretty much looked just like the image above. Maybe a little less bright, but in general the sky was never dark, even at 3 am. That took a little getting use to, to be honest. And there's so much activity going on at all hours, that it really is easy to accidentally stay up until 3 am. There is certainly a lot of partying happening within the city of Reykjavik! 

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We stayed just a few blocks down from Iceland's largest church, Hallgrímskirkja. It was designed to mimic the rock formations on the black sand beach. It's absolutely a sight to behold. 

Not far outside the city limits of Reykjavik we hiked a gorgeous mountain. There were four different options for hiking difficulties and length of hike, and we opted for the 4-6 hour hike with medium difficulty. It was beautiful, but more difficult toward the top of the hike, than I'd expected. I was actually proud of myself for completing it. The views were breathtaking! And the fresh, glacial water that came out of the ground was the most delicious water I've ever tasted. We were told by a local hiker, and I'd also read several travel posts stating the same, that the natural spring water was not only safe to drink, it would be some of the most delicious water tasted. It was 100% true!

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We spent one day traveling via a bus tour, booked through Extreme Iceland Tours. We saw the varied landscapes, the black sand beach, the natural rock formations, and of course waterfalls and glaciers! The weather in Iceland in July, is actually quite pleasant. Yes, there was some cloud coverage and a few sprinkles, but there was also beautiful blue skies and sunshine. Temperatures ranged from mid 50s - mid to high 60s. Quite nice for hiking and general sightseeing.

The Blue Lagoon: Yes. We did the most touristy things, including whale watching and enjoying the Blue Lagoon. How often does one get to travel to Iceland? You might as well do as much as possible! I loved almost every moment. The Blue Lagoon was SO fun to experience with my family. The whale watching was exciting, as we got to witness several whales, but I was sea-sick most of the time (even after taking dramamine before boarding). I really wish I wasn't prone to sea-sickness. I do really love being on the water, otherwise. We also took a few hours to stroll through the Botanic Garden of Reykjavik. It's lovely, and holds much inspiration for rock gardens and cutting gardens for cooler climates.

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 Cappuccino with oat milk and a vegan brownie at our favorite spot Te & Kaffi

Cappuccino with oat milk and a vegan brownie at our favorite spot Te & Kaffi

I will be sharing the food we enjoyed on this trip, but that's for another day. I will say that the cafe Te & Kaffi has THE most delicious cappuccinos and vegan (and non-vegan) treats! I'm fairly certain we stopped in at least once per day... maybe twice.

 Let me know if you've been to Iceland, or if you're planning on visiting! I could see returning and visiting the less populated areas on that trip. It's fun experiencing new places, don't you think?

 

Scotland: 2015

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Oh hey! Don't mind me. I've just decided to write a journal post about a trip I took nearly two years ago. What? Why? Well, it's like this... I simply haven't taken the time to put my photos and thoughts on virtual paper. Seeing how I'm preparing to travel to Scotland next month, I thought it was perfect timing to revisit my first stay there. Makes sense, no?

from the top of Arthur's Seat, overlooking all of Edinburgh, Scotland

Seriously, though, I absolutely love Scotland, and this summer my husband, myself and two friends are going on holiday to the Scottish highlands as well as to Edinburgh! Two years ago Matthew (my husband) and I were fortunate enough to stay for the better part of a week in Scotland. Neither of us are golfers, so when we made our hotel arrangements, we were unaware that the 2015 Open Championship was being held the exact same week of our Scotland holiday, so we were shocked at the cost of hotel accommodations. It wasn't until we had checked into our room, and questioned the manager about the expense compared to the look of the room, that we discovered we had picked THE most expensive time of year to stay in Edinburgh. Live a learn, I suppose.

Our 2015 visit included renting a car to explore outside the city. We headed for Glencoe, which is part of the Scottish Highlands. If you follow me on social media, or have read any of my travel posts, you probably know I LOVE Ireland and all its beauty. And while it is still my favorite place on earth, I can honestly say that I've never experienced such natural beauty as the day we drove through Glencoe. At one point, my husband pulled the car over so we could get out and just marvel at the sites. I'm not at all embarrassed to tell you that I was so taken by the beauty, I began to weep. There is something incredibly spiritual about the Scottish Highlands. If you have a travel bucket-list, I strongly urge you to include the Highlands.

The weather that week was incredibly cold. The locals told us it was unseasonably cool with some days hovering around 45℉. Still, we did manage to see some sites whilst layered in my summer clothes. At one point I believe I had on 2 shirts and 3 cardigan sweaters. Ha! There were a couple of warmer, sunnier moments. Hiking up Arthur's Seat was a mix of sun and clouds... perfect!  

Oddly, we didn't really see either of the castles in town. That's something I'm looking forward to doing this second trip. I did manage to snap a few photos of the Queen's castle. So lovely!

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I'm going to try to recap my 2017 trip a bit sooner than the 2015 trip.... but no promises. Cheers to Summer Holiday Travels!

The Latest Book Cover Design

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A few years ago, an online acquaintance announced she was going to be releasing her first book. I sent her a message asking if she'd hired a cover designer for her book yet, and if not, would she be interested in working with me. Six book covers later, I am very happy to report our teamwork, and friendship, is going strong. The author I'm writing about is Terra Kelly.  I'm so excited to tell you about Terra's latest book, "Let's Dance". It is the 6th cover I've designed for Terra, and the 7th book she's released so far (I know there are others in the works).

I thought I'd take a moment to show you all the covers. 

 

The Winters Family Series has four books so far.. The second series, Torn Pieces, offers two books; "Falling Deep Into You", and "Take This Pain Away". You can find these books (and e-books) at Amazon, or by visiting Terra's website.  Pick up a few for your summer beach reading!