Saturday, August 31, 2013

Frost and Fire

I'm a Viking.  My family name is Holt and while I've not done detailed research to dig deep into my family tree, I know I'm a Viking. 

In the early 90's, Iceland was added to my travel wish list and the reason might have had something to do with my Viking roots calling.  At any rate, I was thrilled when we were actually able to visit Iceland and spend a number of days exploring an incredibly beautiful and quiet place.

I have about 20 best favorite places or memories specific to our travels in Iceland but one place that stands out in my memory was a hotel stay that combined nature, art and hospitality (we also stayed at the base of a volcano and on a farm but I'll save those stories for another time).  Hveragerði is a small town located about 30 minutes from Reykjavik.

Frost and Fire gives guests the opportunity to enjoy their own "hot pot" and the chance to get to know an Icelandic artist.  Each room is named in honor of an artist and the room is furnished with his or her artwork.  Guest are invited to relax and enjoy an evening of soaking in their own "hot pot" with healing warm waters provided by nature.  In fact when you drive up to this hotel it's quite a sight to see the hot springs bubbling up all around the hotel grounds.  

Our room featured the works of Karl Kvaran.

Every room has a beautiful view of the river.

Our room's jacuzzi or "hot pot."  We spent the evening soaking under the stars.

Not only will guests enjoy dining with pottery made by local artist   Margrét Jónsdóttir, the breakfast area is filled with sculpture and paintings by Icelandic artists including The Last Supper by Jóhanna Kristín Yngvadótti. 

If you enjoy traveling and beautiful photography, stop by and visit Noel's blog at Travel Photo Discovery.   I'm joining him for Travel Photo Mondays.

Yum Bunz is YUMMY!

Recently I received an invitation to visit Yum Bunz for an enjoyable evening with dinner for me and a guest.   So I quickly responded to the invitation and excitedly emailed my husband.  Yay!  A date!
I'd never heard of Yum Bunz but after doing a little bit of googling I found out that it's a new restaurant and the owners founded and developed The Real Chow Baby.  Love that place.  It's also over on the west side in Atlanta.  So many interesting places are popping up and Yum Bunz is one of them.  
It's educational  - learn Chinese!
The food concept is simple, "dim sum fast" and fast it is. And also extremely good. 
Love this fixture!
We got to the location, found our parking (free parking and easy - yay again!) and walked into a beautiful contemporary space with a discreet Asian flare to it.  The place did look a bit like a fast food restaurant but truthfully I had no expectations that evening.  For us it was just a fun evening out. 

Stepping up to the register I was overwhelmed with trying to pick something from the menu board and there was a line behind us so the girl at the register said she would surprise us and that is exactly what she did. 
The server first brought us an incredible mango margarita.  We've had very little summer weather in Atlanta this year (odd, right?) but suddenly it has gotten really hot so the frozen treat was a great way to cool down and start the evening feast.  

Next came the dim sum - two kinds of bao and a variety of sides including one incredible eggplant delicacy that I simply can't quit thinking about!!!  
It's hard not to talk about the paintings on the wall and I must confess that at first glance the paintings looked like wallpaper.  They just seemed to professionally perfect to be paintings, but they are. 

While our dinner was complimentary, I saw the prices on the big board and Yum Bunz is extremely affordable high quality food.  
If you live in the Atlanta area, or if you visit Atlanta, you will want to give Yum Bunz a try.  It's good food fast, affordable and healthy food too.  Read up on their website.  It's not just the ingredients, it's the preparation process too.  Hope I see you there!

I'm linking up with The Tablescaper so head over there to see what's happening on Seasonal Sunday.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Japanese Garden in Atlanta

Sometimes you don't have to go far from home to get away from it all.  I was so happy to have recently attended the Haven Conference and you cannot imagine how happy I was when I found out that the conference was going to be at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta.  
Japanese Garden
Grand Hyatt Atlanta 
 Years ago my work very often involved programming and conferences and the Grand Hyatt space was one of my favorite places to hold meetings.  Most of the time my past visits to the hotel left me little time for enjoying a very special place - the Grand Hyatt Japanese Zen Garden.
Grand Hyatt
Grand Hyatt

 The Sunday morning after Haven, I got up really early, grabbed coffee and some breakfast, and headed out to the garden for some quiet time in a beautiful setting.  

Hope you enjoy the picture tour as much as I enjoyed the visit. It's an incredible hidden treasure.
Grand Hyatt

Grand Hyatt

Grand Hyatt

Grand Hyatt

Even the small things matter. 
Today I'm linking up with The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sunday and I'm especially excited to be linking up with Noel over at Travel Photo Discovery and joining in Travel Photo Monday.  I hope you stop by!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"The Birds" and Bodega Bay

The Birds has always creeped me out, but even so, I loved the film.  And didn’t you love Tippi Hedren and her suit? 
Jojo's Joys

Jojo's Joys

Jojo's Joys
Tippi's Autographed Photo in our Cabin

The film left me with a genuine fear respect of birds.
Jojo's Joys

Jojo's Joys
It was exciting to spend a weekend visiting the area where the film was made.  Even more exciting to see such beautiful countryside - the vineyards and the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Jojo's Joys

Jojo's Joys

Jojo's Joys
Jojo's Joys
Jojo's Joys
My imagination always gets away with me when we travel. In the back of my mind I’m always trying to imagine myself living wherever we visit and Bodega Bay passed muster (what is a muster?) in my book.
Jojo's Joys

We spent a long weekend enjoying the coastal area, visiting Ft. Ross, touring a few vineyards in Sonoma County and of course visiting one of the most memorable places from the film, “The Birds.” 

Jojo's Joys

Jojo's Joys

I think I need to add something here about the Bodega General Store. If you are in the area you won't want to miss this place.  We stocked up on delicious dishes for the weekend including crab mac 'n cheese. Yum!
Jojo's Joys

Many times when we travel we’re staying in hotels but this trip we stayed in a little cabin on the bay.  It was an adorable cottage with tons of windows giving us a gorgeous view of the bay. I loved being able to snuggle up in the evenings with a quilt and a book. 
Jojo's Joys

You know, sometimes a perfect weekend getaway is all one needs to get lost in relaxation, daydreams and moonbeams.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Laughter IS the Best Medicine. I Want Some!!!

Carol Burnett & Friends Makes Me Laugh!

Now that the grandgirls are gone the house is so quiet and since their departure I’ve realized something.  I don’t laugh very often.  I know I used to, but what happened?  Children laugh approximately 400 times a day. Adults? Only 15 times.

What is up with that????

Laughter used to be an everyday thing for me but truthfully I’m not so sure that I’m hitting the 15 times mark.  
Are you?

Here’s a true confession. I used to be one of those people who would laugh at inappropriate times and that would make me laugh even more!  Remember the Mary Tyler Moore episode?

Does laughter slow down along with metabolism as we age or are things no longer funny like they used to be?  Or does the stress of life interfere with one's ability to laugh?
 Laughter is a terrific workout for the abdominals and let me tell you, I could use some laughter to help with this middle-age spread!

I love how coconuts are always smiling!
 Some of my funniest memories were really stupid things like turning a fan on a speaker in the midst of a meeting causing the speaker’s notes to scatter across the meeting room.  Or what about the time my oldest son took a laser pen to school on assembly day and shone the light on the principal 's forehead during the entire assembly (okay I should have been mad about that but it was too funny).  I couldn’t quit laughing at the other son’s graduation when during the ceremony he’d orchestrated the release of 30 beach balls during the program.  Once again the principal was mad but the entire graduating class had a blast and it made such a memory.  

What am I doing?  I can't swim!!

Last year when traveling in Italy, this same son decided to join a protest in downtown Rome having no idea what was going on, grabbed onto the banner, marching and yelling, “NO MORE LASAGNE! NO MORE LASAGNE!”  Now this made me laugh!  There he is in the blue shirt smiling at oldest son who is capturing the moment on camera!
No more lasagne! No more lasagne!

Do you laugh frequently?  What makes you laugh? Maybe we need to start a laughter movement! "LOTS MORE LAUGHTER! LOTS MORE LAUGHTER!"
I'm linking up with The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays.