My One Year Blogiversary

Today marks one year since I launched my blog.  I’m not really an interesting or creative writer, but I’ve still enjoyed sharing my thoughts with those interested enough to read them.  Today, I went back and read my first blog post where I laid out the goals for what I wanted to accomplish.  I am continuing to meet those goals by sharing my positive thoughts and writing about experiences of things that make me happy.  I hope that at some point over the past year, I’ve helped someone to “look on the bright side.”

Over the course of this year, I’ve written something like 65 blog posts, which I’m pretty proud of.  I’ve written about products I like, faith, and books I’ve read.  I don’t blog about all the books I read, because I’m not that great at writing reviews.  But over the past year, I did blog about four different self-help/memoir style books.

a fave shirt of mine

I wrote a lot about travel, which is one of my favorite things in the world.  Over the past year, I was fortunate enough to visit and write about Jamaica, Biloxi, Montreal, Hot Springs, Walt Disney World, and even my hometown of New Orleans.

I wrote about music, movies, and plays that I loved and had the pleasure of experiencing this past year, including Disney movies, Broadway plays, and awesome concerts.  I am fortunate to have been able to enjoy so many of these things that bring me joy.

I’ve written about food, family life, and positive thinking.  I’ve reflected on quotes or sayings.  I’ve shared my thoughts on many different topics.

I hope you have enjoyed following along in my journey of positivity.  I wonder what will happen in year two?  It is already starting off very different since we’ve been social distancing for over a month now.  The adventures and fun this year may look different.  But I shall continue to find the joy in whatever God sends my way!

My Christmas Tree

Tonight, my daughter and I decorated our Christmas tree. We are not the kind of family with super posh and coordinated holiday decorations. But I loooove my Christmas tree.

My husband pulls the fake tree out of the closet. I turn on the Hanson Christmas albums. And we start decorating.

As I place each ornament on the tree, I smile and reflect on a special memory. You see, while my ornaments may not all match, each and every one is part of my story. I love to travel. On every trip I take, I carefully select an ornament to add to my collection. Each year, as I decorate the tree, I get to think about all of the places I have been.

These are the ornaments that I collected just this past year in 2019!

I have so many favorite ornaments that I cannot share them all. Here are a few.

Of course, we also have lots of Disney ornaments, so I get something different each visit.

Not all of our Christmas ornaments are from travel. Many are special because they were handmade by my grandmother. She has given me many homemade ornaments over the years. These are just a couple.

She made these elephants for my baby shower.
These even have a special tag on the back to show that she made them.

Some ornaments don’t represent my travels, but rather my home!

St. Charles streetcar and a Mignon Faget oyster shell.

Other ornaments represent important life events. The church plaque pictured below is where my husband and I got married. The long thin Santa shell was bought on our honeymoon. The angel shell is from my daughter’s baptism.

And of course, like any good tree, there are the Christmas ornaments made by the hands of a small child at school or elsewhere.

My tree is eclectic. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

I spent the past three days in New Orleans attending a conference. Yesterday, I had some extra time between sessions during my lunch break and decided to walk into the French Quarter to visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, since I had never been there.

It is the perfect size museum for a short, lunch break visit. It is located on two floors, so not accessible to those who can’t climb a big flight of stairs. There are lots of interesting exhibits and plenty of fascinating information.

There were many tools used by both pharmacists and doctors, illustrating the evolution of medicine.

It was interesting to read about the use of certain substances for medicinal purposes that are now considered illicit or still being studied, such as marijuana and heroin. It was especially interesting reading about the problems with prescription opiod addiction in the 19th century, in light of the current crisis our nation is facing.

There was an even an exhibit on alcohol and spirits used medicinally. Pictured below is a prescription for alcohol written during prohibition.

The shelves were filled with all different sorts of medicines, arranged by the type of ailments they treated.

Here is a leech jar. Thankfully, there were no leeches in the museum. I have always had quite the irrational fear of leeches.

Pharmacies also used to be soda fountains.

The museum is full of interesting facts and history.

There was even a section on voodoo medicine, which of course has a strong history in New Orleans.

The topics covered in the small museum are quite thorough.

I feel like I learned a lot with all of the exhibits.

There is even a nice little courtyard located at the back of the museum.

If you are visiting the French Quarter, I definitely think it is an interesting place to spend an hour or so, if you like museums. It costs only $5 for general admission, which is worth it for all the cool things you get to see.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

I was fortunate enough to spend a week recently in Hot Springs, Arkansas. My aunt and uncle rented a house on the lake and were kind enough to invite me along. We had a great family trip and my daughter got to hang out with some of her cousins.

The house we stayed in had a pool, hot tub, kayaks, and a canoe.

Hot Springs National Park is unique because it includes downtown and Bathhouse Row. The old bathhouses all still stand, although most have been transformed into something else. Across from Bathhouse Row are shops and restaurants and such. The green spaces of the park are located directly behind Bathhouse Row.

Buckstaff Baths is the only traditional bathhouse still in operation. My aunt and I went and had the traditional experience, including a soak in the tub that was filled with mineral water straight from the springs. After that we were covered in hot towels, which was a bit intense. Then I sat in a steam closet, had a sitz bath, and a needle shower. It was an interesting experience.

The Fordyce Bathhouse has been turned into a museum about the history of the bathhouses in Hot Springs.

One day, we took the children to the Mid-America Science Museum, which I highly recommend. There was lots of hands-on fun inside and a dinosaur trail and skywalk outside.

Another day we visited Garvan Woodland Gardens, which was fun and pretty, but very hot! There were free strollers available, and my five year old had me pushing her uphill through the gravel! The botanical gardens are part of the University of Arkansas. There was a tree house and lots of other places to hang out and play.

Hot Springs was a nice, laid back little place. It was a fun place for a family visit.

Dining in Montreal

My final post about Montreal concerns my favorite topic, food! I love to eat. When I travel, I love to try different restaurants and different types of food. Montreal is an international city with lots of different types of food. We didn’t get to try it all, but here are the restaurants that we did get to visit.

Our first meal of the trip was at Brit and Chips. We ordered some fish and chips, specifically the maple battered haddock. I figured since we’re in Montreal, I should order anything with maple syrup! We also ordered our first poutine of the trip. Poutine is the most famous Quebecois dish, consisting of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. The restaurant was casual, quick, affordable, and tasty!

At Maison Christian Faure Patisserie, we stopped in and got three different fancy desserts. They were delicious!

Occasionally, when traveling with a 5 year old, one is required to stop at McDonald’s for some poulet mccroquettes.

One of our dinners was at La Maison du Magret, a restaurant completely devoted to duck! As a complimentary appetizer, we were given some duck rillettes and bread. We ordered duck confit and duck poutine. It was all tasty.

It’s always important to get ice cream while on vacation.

One of the mornings, we got breakfast at Allo! Mon Coco, a chain in Quebec. The food was good although service was slow. I had a strawberry flambee on crepes bretonne!

After the first big crepe of the trip, we went to two more creperies! My daughter had spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread at both. First, we went to Chez Suzette in Old Montreal. All of the crepes were delicious! We had dinner crepes and a dessert crepe.

We ended up at our second creperie the next day after our intended destination ended up being too crowded. It was a family restaurant in the Mont Royal area of town, called Creperie Bretonne Ty-Breiz. I ordered a smoked salmon crepe.

I also ordered escargot and took a picture of my daughter’s face when I told her that I was eating snails. Yum!

Our hotel was connected to the World Trade Center, so a few mornings I grabbed a quick breakfast at La Fabrique de Bagel. Montreal is famous for their bagels, which are thinner and crunchier than the New York bagels you may be used to. There is nothing better than smoked salmon on a bagel!

One night, we went to C’Chocolat for dinner. A chocolate restaurant for a well-rounded dinner. They actually have sandwiches and salads and such, but we just ordered dessert. We had hot chocolate with marshmallows, a liege waffle, and their signature dessert – the c’wow. It was a chocolate dome which was melted tableside by hot caramel revealing the yummy stuff inside, which included waffle, brownie, gelato, crumble, berries, and pecans.

One of our lunches was at Reuben’s Deli and Steakhouse, downtown. They are famous for their smoked meat sandwiches. The coleslaw was particularly tasty.

For our last meal of the trip, we decided to walk to Chinatown. We ate at Chez Chili, and it was very tasty. We had some pork ribs, dumplings, fried rice, and fried bananas!

I hope you have enjoyed my series of posts about our trip to Montreal. We had a great time there, and like always, I enjoyed trying all the food!

Notre Dame de Bon Secours and Chateau Ramezay

For our last afternoon in Montreal, I explored Vieux Montreal on my own, while my husband and daughter went back to the hotel for a swim. My first stop was Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Secours. This church was built by Marguerite Bourgeoys. The chapel became a favorite place of prayer for sailors and has some model boats hanging from the ceiling.

In the chapel, I also visited the Marguerite Bourgeoys museum. She was a French nun who founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal. She developed a convent and a school for girls, the poor, and First Nations children. It was an uncloistered community. There were exhibits on her life and little miniature scenes of her whole life.

Next, a tour guide took me down into the archaelogical site below the chapel. Recently, they have found the remains of the original chapel, constructed in 1675, that was destroyed by a fire.

Back upstairs, there was also a temporary exhibit full of the paper sculptures of artist, Claude Lafortune.

Next, I climbed up the top of the tower, which has the highest view of Old Montreal.

Next, I walked to Chateau Ramezay, a residence built in the 18th century. Its exhibits cover over 500 years of Montreal history.

There was a really interesting temporary exhibit called War Flowers. It told several stories from World War I through the senses, including pressed flowers. At each exhibit, you could press a button a smell the associated scent. It was a touching exhibit.

Redpath Museum and Barbie Expo

We visited the Redpath Museum on the campus of McGill University in Montreal. As listed on their website, “its mandate is to foster understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our biological, geological, and cultural heritage through scientific research, collections-based study, and education.”

There were many animal specimens.

There were also lots of historical artifacts, including mummies, and lots of shells and gems.

Overall, it was an interesting little museum, but smaller than I expected. The building was not air conditioned and is not handicap accessible. If one is in the area, I suggest a visit, but it was not a must see. There is no cost to enter, but there is a suggested donation.

Next, we walked to the Barbie Expo, which is a free exhibit located in Les Cours Mont Royal, an upscale mall. I was entirely too excited about walking around and looking at all of the Barbies!

Many of the Barbies had outfits designed by different designers.

There were also many Barbies designed to be famous people or famous characters.

I took pictures of almost every Barbie. But I will not post them all for you, just a few highlights. There were hundreds of Barbies!

There were Barbies representing different countries around the world.

My daughter and I even transformed into Barbies for a short moment.

It was a fun visit if you like Barbies and are in the area.

Lac aux Castors

In Mont Royal park, we visited Lac aux Castors (or Beaver Lake). It is an artificial lake, built in 1938. It was very pretty out on this day, and not as hot as the previous days of our trip. The perfect weather for time in the park.

My daughter insisted that we make wishes on all the “wishing flowers.”

We rented a rowboat and my husband rowed us around the lake.

There were a lot of people climbing the waterfall and kids playing in the water.

We also found a playground for my daughter to run around and explore. There were lots of unique pieces of playground equipment that the children loved.

As we waited at the bus stop to return to our hotel, I had to take a picture of these “Christmas trees.” If I return to Montreal, there is a lot more of Mont Royal park that we did not get to explore. I am glad that we got to experience this little corner of the park, however.

A Downtown Stroll

On Sunday morning, we finally received our luggage, after having been in Canada since Thursday night! I decided to do a bit of exploring on my own, while my husband and daughter went swimming and watched the soccer game. I headed downtown to take a look at St. Patrick’s Basilica.

It is another pretty church, opened in 1847.

The church was built for the Irish immigrant population in Montreal. I liked seeing all of the Saint Patrick details.

Since Saint Patrick’s is the main English speaking Catholic church in Montreal, I decided to stay for Mass. There was a little park area out front (and down the many steps) where I spent a little time by myself before Mass began. The parishioners and visitors attending Mass made quite the diverse cultural group.

Since it was Sunday morning, I timed my visit to the next church to be between Masses. As I approached the Cathedral of Marie Reine du Monde (Mary, Queen of the World), Mass was just ending. I walked inside for a look around. The thing that makes this church unique is that it is a miniature replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I’ve never been to Rome, but one day!

On my way back to the hotel, I passed Place du Canada, where it appeared some sort of gathering or concert of Muslim people was happening. I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on as they weren’t speaking English over the loudspeaker, but everyone was carrying the same flag. Montreal is definitely a diverse and international city with many cultural influences.

Montreal Science Centre

Our next stop on our trip to Montreal was the Science Centre, located in the Old Port. This is a must see place if travelling to Montreal with young children. My daughter had a blast exploring the many exhibits and probably could have spent much longer there. It caters to children, but there are lots of interesting things to learn and explore.

There was a huge creativity/building/engineering section where you were challenged to build different things out of the provided materials.

My daughter enjoyed the hands-on activities where she learned about the human body and the process of evolution.

The temporary exhibit while we were there was on spiders.

With its large space and varied exhibits, this museum is definitely worth a stop for families travelling with children. I definitely saw people visiting who didn’t have children with them, and I’m sure it was still interesting. But the main fun came in watching my daughter explore all of the different topics.

I enjoyed taking these illusionist pictures.