Category Archives: fun

A Different Kind of Christmas…

Standard

I’m one of those well-organized Christmas people who files decorations away like library cards, keeping them neat and in order for easy accessibility the following year.  By this time, I usually have cheessecake made, cookies baked, bread baking, and the house spotless.  I have everything wrapped, and ready to go under a beautifully-decorated tree, and have usually hosted our annual Christmas decorating party.

Our granddaughter, Maya, came down from Seattle last year to join us, but is working two jobs this year, and won’t be able to make it.  We would have invited our dear friends, Peter and Toni, but they are preparing to marry and to go to Thailand on their honeymoon, any day now.  Our friends, Baranna and Eric have gone to Texas, and my daughter has pneumonia.  Ingrid has a 103 degree temperature, and my husband, John, is working fervently to get his final grades in by the end of the day….so I’m pretty much on my own this year, when it comes to decorating.  It’s ok.  I don’t mind.  I would have preferred the party, but my main concern at this point, is that my family is ok.

It’s three days before Christmas, and my first full day off in months.  Can I do it?

You bet I can!  I got up early this morning ,and have already started.  One step at a time, accomplishing what I can.  I have the Wood Brothers playing on Pandora….my current favorite station….and my fireplace is roaring.  The smell of cookies baking in the oven, is wafting toward me in the living room, and I have my daughter’s lunch simmering on the stove.

It won’t be the same as in years past, but I am happy just knowing that Ingrid’s temperature has dropped two degrees, that my daughter is improving, and that John is nearby if I need anything.

I can do this thing.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Moving Right Along….

Standard

Dear Readers,

Yesterday, my business became an official LLC in the state of Oregon!  I couldn’t be more thrilled.  A professional website is in the works, and I am scouting locations.  My partner and I do not expect to open our first retreat until the spring, but there is plenty of work to do until then….and it’s all exciting and lots of fun.  I am working on my certification as an Integrative Wellness and Life Coach to go along with the new business.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-28-52-am

Meanwhile, a creative spark hit my brain and I have been on a roll in that regard. Yesterday, I finished the underside of the wings on the giant butterfly that I am mosaicing. Each tile is individually hand cut glass and placed by yours truly.  By the end of it, I swore I never wanted to see another gold tile! However, I’m happy that it’s done, and will be so happy when I get the body area completed so I can grout the whole thing.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-31-15-am

For those of you who didn’t see the other side when I posted it previously, here is what it looks like pre-grout:

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-33-59-am

And…as if that were not enough, I am on a shrine making kick.  Here is a heavy one that I only recently started.  Who knows what I will add to it, nor how it will turn out!?  This is a very loose rough draft which might look completely different when I finish. I am using hand-formed clay on Wediboard with lots of found objects. Nothing is glued down yet.  Just messing around with different design ideas. I will post more photos as the project progresses.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-37-06-am

Meanwhile…everything is good in life and in love….and absolutely nothing has changed there.  I feel as happy as ever.   I hope you do, too!   I start training for a new job today that will help me meet my opening business expenses.  Looking forward to that as well.

Until next time, I remain….

Stacy Alexander

 

Which Airline is Best for Flying Pets?

Standard

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.26.38 PM

Traveling with pets requires its own set of logistics. Each airline is different, and each has its own pet policy. What works well for one trip might work better with a different airline for another. The individual airline determines whether it will allow pets inside the passenger cabin of the plane, or whether it is necessary to check the animal as freight.

If in-cabin pet travel is allowed, it should be noted that pet containers are often considered to be carry-on baggage that, like regular carry-on baggage, must be sized to fit beneath the seat in front of the pet owner. In some cases, an extra fee is required.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.27.29 PM

In most cases, a health certificate is also required for any pet prior to be shipped as cargo. Some destination states may require a health certificate also. Veterinarians or the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be able to provide all the necessary details.

The United States Humane Society does not advocate pets traveling in cargo: “We strongly discourage having your pet travel by air in the cargo hold of a plane,” its policy states. “It can be dangerous and stressful.”

To find out additional information, one should call the airline in advance of the trip. Only a certain number of pets are allowed inside a given plane cabin at one time, so it is important not to wait until the last-minute to make pet reservations.

What are the Top Airlines for Pet Travel? It all depends on the specific requirements of the traveler, the airline policies and which airlines makes the best match for a particular situation. Here is a rundown of some of the highest rated airlines for traveling with pets, their pet policies and safety concerns, followed by notes that may be particular interest:

Delta Airlines

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.28.21 PM

Pets are permitted to travel on U.S. domestic Delta Airlines flights. Because of high numbers of pet deaths prior to 2015, Delta stopped accepting pets as checked baggage, but does allow in-cabin transport. Exceptions are made for individuals who carry permits for service dogs, or for military animals.

The airline also accepts shipment of pet birds and warm-blooded mammals or exhibition/show animals in the cargo hold as freight. Prices for Delta Cargo shipping range from $193 to $1,481, depending on the animal’s size and other factors.

Dogs, cats and domestic birds are able to travel with their owners (or a designated handler) in a Delta Airlines cabin for a one-way fee, which is collected at check in, to/from the following destinations:

  • Virgin Islands: $125 USD/CAD
  • U.S./Canada: $125 USD/CAD
  • Outside the U.S.: $200 USD/CAD/EUR
  • Puerto Rico: $125 USD/CAD
  • Brazil: $75 USD

Household birds are not permitted on international flights.

Of particular interest:

Delta’s new pet policies were put into place in the wake of a large number of pet deaths between May of 2005 and September of 2015, and have shown great improvement since. The airline has taken measures to assure safer, more successful travel for pets since March of 2016, and is now receiving high customer reviews.

Delta has banned snub-nosed dogs and cats on their flights, as these animals are more prone to respiratory distress than other animals, while flying, as this type of animal made up a large percentage of the number of pets who perished on Delta flights.

American Airlines

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.29.31 PM

According to BringFido.com, a travel review website, American Airlines is now the only United States-based airline to allow cats and dogs only to travel in the checked baggage compartments of its airplanes. This is allowed only on flights that stay within the 48 contiguous United States, St. Thomas, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix. Dogs and cats are also allowed in-cabin to or from the United States and Central America, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico and certain South American destinations, depending on the country.

American Airlines will not accept pets on flights more than 12 hours in duration, or on flights that travel to the United Kingdom.

As do most of the airlines that allow pet travel, American requires a health certificate prior to flying. Checked pets will only be able to connect through a hub city. Certain dog breed restrictions apply. Checked pets are not accepted when the forecast or current temperature is higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit or lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary.

The fees for checked pets are $200 per kennel or $150 to and from Brazil. Carry on pets are $125 per kennel. Service pets, including military animals, do not incur charges for travel aboard American Airlines.

Of particular interest:

American Airlines has very high customer reviews for pet handling, and is considered by many to be the best airline for traveling with one’s pet. The airline is noted for its helpful staff and friendly assistance. However, an American Airlines baggage handler made news in 2011, when he stacked a United Airlines animal crate on top of another. The crate fell, the cat who was confined inside, escaped and ran free in a New York airport for 61 days. Every airline has isolated incidents that happen from time to time. American Airlines is noted overall for its excellent pet-handling practices.

Alaska Airlines

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.30.13 PM

Alaska Airlines has high customer satisfaction ratings for its pet accommodations. The airline takes pride in advertising “great care” for its passengers’ traveling animals, both with and without their handlers. The airline has a special Pet Connect program that also flies pets separately, if desired.

Like most other airlines, Alaska no longer accepts brachycephalic, or short-nosed pets, such as pugs and boxers, and certain cat breeds. The fee for pets both traveling in the airplane’s cabin, as well as those in the cargo bin, is $100.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.32.43 PM

Passengers must be a minimum of 18 years or older to fly with a pet in the cabin. Passengers with pets cannot occupy an emergency exit row seat, bulkhead, or any seat with an airbag safety belt. Passengers may travel with as many as two carry-on pet kennels in the airplane’s main cabin, so long as the same passenger purchases a ticket for the adjacent seat.

Pets allowed in the passenger cabin include dogs and cats over the age of 8 weeks, rabbits, domesticated birds, and tropical fish.

Of particular interest:

Consumers recommended Alaska Airlines for taking good care of their pets during travel, and for keeping their dogs in the travel kennels for as short a length of time as possible. The airline is noted for its courteous, friendly staff that is available to answer pet owner’s questions and to assist in getting their pets settled into their crates for departure.

As the nation’s ninth-largest carrier by passenger traffic, Alaska Airlines has one of the industry’s most pet-friendly policies of any airline. Unfortunately, prior to 2013, it had a high number of incidents of pet deaths on route. This could be attributed to its allowing brachycephalic animals prior to that date. Today, the airline has high customer ratings and is noted for its caring attitude and competency in flying domestic animals.

Southwest Airlines

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.31.02 PM

Southwest Airlines allows passengers to fly with small, vaccinated, domestic dogs and cats, in-cabin under the seats in front of them. The airline requires that pets be carried in an appropriate carrier. Southwest does not allow pets to travel in-cabin on international flights, or on any itinerary that includes an international flight.

A maximum of 6 pets, all over the age of 8 weeks, are allowed on a given flight, and are checked in on a first-come, first-serve basis. The fee charged per pet, per carrier is $95 each way. The company has an optional, specially designed pet carrier available for $58, or passengers may use their own, provided they meet measurement criteria. No flying without owner or handler is allowed.

Of particular interest:

A large number of customers rated Southwest Airlines as the best airline for overall pet travel, due to its seamless processing and courteous overall services. However, it should be noted that in case of an emergency, Southwest has a policy against administering pets any type of special assistance, including oxygen, so pet owners might want to take this into consideration.

And the winner is…

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.31.56 PM

Each airline offers a unique travel experience for pet owners/handlers and their animals. It is best to compare all airline policies individually to come up with the best match for a given situation and animal.

by Stacy Alexander

 

Summer Breeze – Makes Me Feel Fine

Standard

We hopped in the car yesterday for a spontaneous trip to the coast.  It was as close to perfection as a day can get. Ingrid just finished up French camp for the summer and is with us full time during the days for the next three weeks.  All of us needed some R&R, not that we really needed an excuse.

We went to Cannon Beach first.  Since it was such a sunny, beautiful day, we expected a lot more people than actually showed up there.  The beaches and the town were sparsely populated for this time of year.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 6.47.27 PM

 

John wore the wrong shoes and wasn’t up for as much walking as Ingles and I were, so he sat in the shade and watched us as we played on the beach.  She was so happy to be there.  We buried her legs in the sand, chased one another, ran into the waves and out, and generally had fun.  In the following photo, she is running down a stretch of beach made famous by the film “The Goonies”. Remember that one?

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 6.52.50 PM

Soon the entire beach was inundated by tiny clear jellyfish, so we decided to leave a little sooner than expected.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.06.25 PM

We left the beach and walked back to the village.  John and I stopped into a wine shop and bought some nice flatbread and cheese to go with the picnic we’d packed before we left home.  We sat in front of the Cannon Beach theater on their nice benches and had a good chat while we ate…and laughed…and generally enjoyed being where we were. John forgot his pocket knife and had to struggle with the cheese. 😉

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.08.47 PM

Ingrid was such a delightful girl…so polite and friendly.  John and I just can’t get enough of her.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.10.41 PM

 

After our trip, we went to a local glass blowing studio.  Here are some of the delightful pieces we saw there.   (My sweet friend usually sends me glass hearts for my birthday, for Christmas and for other occasions, so my own heart went pitty pat when I saw this one.)

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.12.53 PM

 

And this one….

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.14.18 PM

 

This vase was my favorite.  Don’t you think this would look great in my house?  😉

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.15.36 PM

We left the studio and picked up our annual bag of the best salt water taffy ever.  This soft, gourmet variety is locally made, and comes in virtually every flavor imaginable.  I got so much that I had to put a lot of it in the freezer.  We don’t eat stuff like this often, but when we go to Cannon Beach, we make an exception.  I got some extra so I could send some to my friend.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.17.46 PM

Next, we headed to Ecola Park.  This is a magical place….really beautiful. I had John let me off a few miles down the rode while he and Ingrid drove on ahead.  I met them there later, after my wonderful hike through the woods.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.21.00 PM

When I got to the top of the cliff, I met up with John and Ingrid and the three of us walked to the lookout point.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.22.16 PM

The view was impeccable.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.23.32 PM.png

We met a couple who had their long haired chihuahua with them. They were nice and we hung with them for awhile.  We didn’t take the Beebs, because we felt she would be more comfy at home….but we missed her!   We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out in this beautiful spot.  Ingrid recited spontaneous poetry and danced for us.  It was nothing but pleasantries, one right after the other.  We had such a good time!

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 7.27.05 PM

 

If you ever find yourself in Oregon, I highly recommend the coast.  It is one of the most gorgeous coasts you will ever see.

Boutonniere Inspirations for a Wedding

Standard

Long ago and far away, I worked as a freelance wedding planner.  My specialty was economical weddings in dramatic settings, such as beach weddings, foreign destination weddings and weddings in authentic Texas locations.  I once planned an elegant wedding in an old Austin Texas  barn, attended by some famous C&W musicians.   As they invited me to participate in the wedding celebration, we all had the times of our lives. The juxtaposition of elegant finery contrasted with the rustic elements provided by the barn was just perfect, and I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 9.57.59 AM

As part of my promo literature at the time, I gave tips about wedding attire, honeymoon accommodations and other useful things.  What follows is some advice I had for boutonniere inspirations.:

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 9.52.10 AM

Nothing can quite add the panache to a groom’s wedding attire  like the classic style embodied his boutonniere. This traditional symbol worn on the lapel of the groom’s jacket is a gesture brimming with meaning that reaches  far beyond the flower itself. Boutonnieres symbolize beauty. They symbolize the fragility of life, and love undefined all captured in a single blossom.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 10.01.27 AM

Classic Wedding

A classic wedding calls for a classic symbol. A single red rose boutonniere with, perhaps, a tiny spray of baby’s breath embodies all of the characteristics any bride could wish for in a groom. The red rose symbolizes courage, sincere love, respect and a hearty congratulations to the happy couple. The baby’s breath symbolizes everlasting and undying love.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 10.02.43 AM

Beach Wedding

Keeping things natural at a beach wedding is the way to go. Tiny white lily boutonnieres trimmed with raffia and miniature seashells can add a nice touch, or for something more ornate,  earthy boutonnieres with lavender, green blueberries, wax flowers and rosemary can add a subtle, yet beautiful touch the blends right in with a stunning ocean environment.

Western Style Wedding

A sunset wedding on the ranch, or at the beach, calls for shades of yellow with a boutonniere made from dusty miller, billy balls and handmade wooden button flowers tied with twine. This is a winning combination that can dress up any groom’s lapel without going over the top.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 9.59.15 AM

Castle or Mansion Wedding

Any  groom can  look like a prince in a beautiful purple boutonniere made of royal ranunculus buds and rose hips that are wrapped with white or purple velvet ribbon.

High Desert Wedding

Ranunculus and rice flowers in soft desert pinks, corals and yellows are a perfect combination for a high desert wedding boutonniere. An alternative choice is silvery brunia and tiny, mint green succulents wrapped in a pale pastel ribbon.

Elegant Cocktail Lounge Wedding

Imagine the beauty of an elegant cocktail lounge wedding atop a skyscraper overlooking the glittering lights of the city. What better boutonniere could adorn the groom’s lapel than one inspired by the fresh ingredients and herbs found in the fine spirits that are served there. An aromatic boutonniere made from cinnamon sticks, Douglas fir, hops, bay laurel, grains, juniper and rosemary will be the highlight of the groom’s suit.

Hawaiian Wedding

Hawaii is one of the most popular destination wedding locations in the world. The groom will fit right in with a simple orchid boutonniere, or, for a little more flare, a boutonniere made of astrantias and jasmine blooms against a background of local foliage.

Remember, a successful wedding celebration is all about the details.  The marriage?  That’s all about the couple.

Save

Bitten by the Mosaic Bug…Again

Standard

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 8.50.37 AM

This year, I have again been asked to participate with a plethora of other international mosaic artists, in the 2017 Beyond Borders auction.  All proceeds go to benefit Doctors Without Borders , an organization that helps people in third world countries receive medical care to which they would not otherwise not have access.

For Doctors Without Borders, the ability to respond quickly to medical humanitarian emergencies is crucial to saving more lives. Unrestricted funds allows the organization to allocate their resources most efficiently and where the needs are greatest.  This is a good cause, my friends. I hope you will attend the virtual auction and find something you like, because the money really helps a lot of people.  Plus, there are some incredibly talented artists and many pieces from which to choose.

As I anticipate the design of this year’s piece, I am mindful of the fact that I have a whole lot on my plate right now with opening my retreat business and continuing my writing business…but I cannot function properly without art.  I have to have it, at some level, which is  why my sketchbook never leaves my side when I’m lounging in the evenings.   I miss working in mosaic, and am going to get back into it. It is hard work, but it is something that I truly love.  I love glass especially.  I love its properties.  I love the way it cuts, and how the light dances across its surfaces.

I have one project started already, which I can probably finish up fairly quickly.  I am building it on a wooden substrate and it is already extremely heavy.  After it is finished, it will probably weigh up to 12-13 pounds.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 9.14.15 AM

Other than the round “globs” (as they are called…..those white, round pieces that you see on the tips of the wings…) each piece of glass was hand cut and placed by me.  I am now working on the body, and haven’t quite decided what approach I’m going to take with it.  I may end up painting part of it, because the surface is so uneven.  The underside is all gold  and blue tiles, and is very sparkly!  The grout will unify all of the sections and pull the piece together.

The wings are asymmetrical, so getting a balanced look was difficult to achieve.  The OCD in me hates the fact that the dark blue colors aren’t symmetrical, but after it’s all grouted, it will look better.

I really hate to grout, but after one applies the mud and begins to wipe it off, that is when the magic happens, and that is what transforms the piece into a work of art.  I am excitited bout this one.

I am getting ready to begin a couple of other pieces as well.  One celebrates a new life, and the other,  honors a life ended.  My cousin, Daina, is getting ready to become a grandmother on Juy 3rd, so I am making the new baby a small mosaic for his or her nursery.  I’m thinking about a white star….or a pastel colored heart.  Still considering what I will make.  It will be something simple, fast and easy.

The other piece will be for my friend, Sarah Beth, who left this world recently, in a tragic, tragic way.  Her loss is a tremendous one, and weighs heavily on my head and heart. She was my friend for more than 40 years.   I am, at this time, working on a design for a three dimensional encasement for her ashes.  She always wanted a home with children, so I might do a house-shaped piece. Not sure.  This is a tough call. I need to get past the point of crying every time I think of her death, before I can proceed, but I feel that working on this particular piece will help the healing process.   (That theory was the foundation of my thesis when I got my masters in Psychology.)

So….today is another day.  I am working this morning.  John and I are getting ready to go out for a long walk with our puppy.  Then, my friend, Baranna, is coming over for a few hours this afternoon.  Anticipating a good day….because, after all, life goes on…with us or without us.

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

A Six Year Old Impersonates Sarah Palin

Standard

This is six year old, Ingrid.  She worked very hard on her impersonation of Sarah Palin.  I hope you enjoy it, and that you will share it if you do!

 

Thanks for watching!

Day #28 – Looking In

Standard