Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miami Bound!

Tomorrow I head off to sunny Miami, Florida (why does Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami" song always play in my head when I mention Miami?) to welcome my sisters first baby boy.

Baby Nicholas is technically due to arrive on January 20th but he seems to be totally comfortable where he is. I am not complaining since that means I will actually get some quiet time with my sister and mom before we all become sleepless in Miami! So before he arrives, I know mom-to-be and I have a couple of to do's on our pre-baby list...

Having brunch at the Buena Vista Bistro.

Gorging ourselves on the best Argentinian empanadas outside of Argentina in Graziano's Market!

Taking the boat out for a little ride.

Enjoy our favorite Miami "sky scrapers".

Have our "last meal" at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.

Hopefully be able to digest our yummy food by sitting by
the ocean with the warm winter sun shining down on us.
Who doesn't swoon over this view?

Even the birds love it here!

The only thing I don't like about Miami is that I miss my little girl MUCHO!
Please keep my little sister in your thoughts and wish her lots of luck and good health for our new family addition to come soon!!! We can't wait to meet you baby Nicholas. :)
Tia Gigi

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Stone Mountain...

As promised in yesterdays post I set out today to conquer our local landmark, Stone Mountain! Armed with a year long park pass ($35) I was eager to get my hike started. As I started my ascent to the top of Stone Mountain I regrettably had flashbacks to when I was a 1st year college student. In those days I ran to the summit in about 15 minutes, this was not the case today!

While the hike up was only 1.3 miles (2.1 km) it took me about 32 minutes to reach summit. I won't lie, I was breathing heavy a good portion of the hike. The granite rock was slippery wet since it had rained the night before and to be quite honest we weren't sure how long it would be before another downpour would occur. But lets stop the whining and set the record straight...a 7 month pregnant woman beat me to the top and as I was happily panting my way to the summit an older gentlemen, "Dale the plumber", had the audacity to ask me if I thought he was taking so long to climb the mountain because he was overweight? Folks, did I mention he was in FRONT of me?? I couldn't stop laughing. I have a long spring of training ahead of me!

                        Below are some snapshots along the trail I thought you would enjoy.
Cactus at the base of the mountain.

Slippery and uneven rocks on your way to the top.

The trail to the summit is marked by this yellow line.
 At its summit, the elevation is 1,686 ft (513m) and 825 ft (251.5m) above the surrounding Atlanta metropolitan area. On a clear day, minus smog, I am sure you can really make out the Atlanta skyline. The sunsets up here must be incredible as well. As a matter a fact, according to Wikipedia "Europeans first learned of the mountain in 1597, when Spanish explorers were told of a mountain further inland which was "very high, shining when the sun set like a fire." You see... those Spaniards know a good thing when they find one!

Even on a cloudy day the view was wonderful!
BTW, that is "Dale the Plumber" in the picture. :)
 It felt good to out in the "elements" this morning. Looking forward to heading back out again tomorrow, although tomorrow I may do the 5 mile walk around the base of the mountain and work myself up to a solid "take II hike" on Friday.

On our way home we even saw this Beetle on the road that just made me smile. The Beetle had one sweet eyelash and she winked at me. ; ) All in all, it was a good 1st try.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nature's Path

Today my brother-in-law and I took a six mile walk through the Hahn Wood's trail near Emory University leading up to Candler Lake.

Peachtree Creek was our guide through the tidy walking trail and along the way we found beautiful blue birds, geese, and turtles lounging by the creek.

If you look closely you can see the 3 turtles on the tree branch over the creek.
We mainly walked in silence taking in the gentle lull of the creek and making sure we didn't take a fall on the muddy patches (big rain storm last night). However, both of us got a kick out of running across the suspension bridge and feeling it give beneath our feet.

This picture is of the suspension bridge in the spring/summer.
Last year the Atlanta Outdoors Club also hosted a walk through the park.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that even in the chaos of the city you can find these stunning retreats to escape to. We promised to do it again and now have a list of "must do" walking trails throughout the city of Atlanta. These trails will help us get ready for our Yellowstone and Inca Trail trip this summer. I will keep you all posted on our progress... tomorrow we conquer Stone Mountain!

View of Stone Mountain Park. Picture found HERE.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

Dear friends,

Happy New Year to all my dear friends from Inspired Life & Home! I hope all of you had a peaceful and healthy transition into 2012! I confess that my first order of business for 2012 is to apologize and make a commitment to you, my dear readers...

Having abandoned my blog since October (my apologies!) I admit I've been trying to decide - as my brother-in-law, Zack, repeatedly asks me:

          "What are you trying to do with this blog? What do you want people to know?"

Last year Inspired Life & Home was really about practicing my writing and having somewhere to share my photography, home inspiration, love for Spain, and simple thoughts. I wrote here and there with no true compass and maybe submitted a blip on the screen once or twice a month. Friends and readers alike asked why I wasn't writing more and when I realized I had reached 4,000+ hits on the site I knew I should take the blog seriously. But truthfully, I was wiped out and could barely hear my own thoughts.  I desperately needed to get some personal time and space away to reflect on 2011 and ask myself some hard questions. So I headed off to my beloved Spain SOLO for some fresh air, inspiration, and clarity. This is what I found to be true about myself during this journey....

Steps near back entrance of Cathedral in Girona, Spain
During a 7 (14 miles round trip) mile hike on the Costa Brava from the seaside town of Llanca to El Port de la Selva a hearty winter breeze was my push to keep going through these desolate ghost towns (this coast is packed in the summer!).
Map of la Costa Brava found @ immocostabrava.com
During this walk I was reminded how determined I can be and that I am a sucker for a worthwhile view on life!
Port de la Selva windsurfers

My pathway and vista during my "hike".
Resilience From Within:
I was reminded that I am my mothers daughter and fear is not a word I give power to! Fear had been plaguing me these past three years, I let it creep inside and I was finally able to cut it loose and bury it! Its sword was shiny and jeweled but I realized that for me, not everything covered in gold is good for you and masked good deeds are the hardest to decipher.

The lock to the main door of the old Royal Tobacco Factory in Sevilla.
Now the Universidad de Sevilla.
Which brings me to the following commitment...

Promise to Listen:
Do you remember during your college years how you actually listened to your own thoughts? How you followed your own whims without hesitation, understanding and accepting your own reasons- without any guilt, without putting anyone else first because "this was the time to do so"?

Happy Koi fish doing their own thing in Cordoba's Gardens of Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos

I realized on this trip that I haven't heard myself like this in so long but when I finally did I felt exuberant, happy, positive, thoughtful and alive! I am finally starting to find clarity in my own thoughts, treasuring every little inner message, every little word that comes out of me because it is truly my unprotocoled self. It doesn't require a rule book.

One of the hidden courtyards of the old Arab baths in Cordoba's Alcazar

Appreciate the Simple Beauty:
Even with all these wonderful experiences, I can share with you that I am most proud of the life I have chosen to live, more importantly, the people I have chosen in my life to share this journey with. They are the true treasures of my life, my precious medals, my biggest accomplishments, my everlasting diamonds. My base that keeps me ME, that loves me for ME, that continuously helps me improve ME!

Me in Placa Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain
Even when I had lost bits and pieces of me, (if you are not careful the outside world can do that) they each seem to trigger in me what the spirit of me is and always with unconditional love. For this, I will always stand by their side with love, respect and loyalty...admiring their beauty always.
Parc de la Devesa in Girona, Spain
So my answer to Zack's questions: "What are you trying to do with this blog?"
I'm trying to be me, share a simple form of living where life happens in the spontaneous details, where the gift of time is the most valuable and where I can share with everyone my thoughts on simple everyday beauty. I also hope to share in this blog my sincere affection and adoration for Spain. Who knows maybe this blog will help me one day create my physical home there!

As for "What do you want people to know?"
I want people to know that there are still good, simple people out there and that beauty truly is where you find it. You just have to never stop searching!

In regards to my commitment to this blog.... I want to write at least 2-3 posts per week and if you like what you read then share it with as many people as you know. If we do this right, I will be able to start my bed and breakfast in Spain in no time and you all are invited!


May the new year bring new hope and continue to feed our dreams!