Tuscany, Florence and Pisa

The trip to Italy was about to leave Rome, and we were headed to Tuscany where the landscape changed. Even while just looking out of the window of the van as the country side zipped by you could see the beauty of Tuscany. Marco pointed out the olive vineyards and grape vineyards–both of them were beautiful. Another thing that we noticed was that cars were getting larger. In Rome it seemed like everyone drove something similar to a Smart Car and/or a scooter. On the way to Tuscany, the cars became larger, and scooters were not seen very much.

I’ve been to beautiful wineries in Texas, Napa and Mendocino, but Tuscany was always on my radar–it lived up to my expectations. From the moment we entered the gates to Tenuta Torciano I was in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. The only thing missing was Diane Ladd.

After being greeted and given the history of the beautiful property, we were off to our wine tasting. The setting let us know that this would not be your run of the mill tasting. First of all it was set outside under a huge tent. The tables were beautifully set with each setting having a plate that had food that you were instructed to match with each wine. I have always been under the impression that if you like it, then you drink it.

The tasting was a lot of fun with everyone picking out their favorite wine. Then we had the honor of eating even more when they bought out what the host called “his mama’s lasagna”. With this dish he served a wine that he called the “Big Boy”.

The wine, food, olive oil and balsamic vinegar were all good, but the host made the experience even better. We even had fun with another group that was from Canada. Good food, excellent wine and great conversation made for an amazing experience.

Our next stop was to the the quaint looking town of San Gimignano. It seemed that each store had some likeness of Pinocchio in their windows or showcase. It was here that I finally purchased items that were needed (my luggage was still somewhere else).

After a leisurely walk through the town, we were on our way Impruneta which is a few miles outside of Florence. We would stay at the Bellavista Hotel in Impruneta which was situated in a neighborhood that was easy to walk around and see the sights. The Hotel Bellavista had a great rooftop where you could enjoy a glass of wine and look out over the town.

Florence was crowded with people, but not all of them were tourist. As soon as we stepped out of the van, we ran into a protest–it was very organized and seemed more like a parade. Florence is filled with great sculptures many of which are located in Piazza della Signoria. Most people would probably say that the replica of David was their favorite, but I think that my favorite was the one of Neptune. It’s just how he is looking at David–you have to see it to understand it.

Now many people go to Florence to shop for leather and jewelry, and there was no shortage there. ln fact so many people in our group purchased items that they shipped them home. There was so much that it all seemed to go together. The crowds seemed to grow larger because there was construction and preservation work everywhere. One of the highlights to Florence was an amazingly simple salad that we had. It featured watermelon, avocado, red onion, feta cheese and a little something drizzled over it. It doesn’t sound like it should go together, but it did. I’ve even made it since I have been home. We did have a Russell Crowe sighting–I only saw him walking away.

After two nights in the Hotel Bellavista we would be on our way to visit the city of Pisa. Before we were to leave Imprueneta there would be a Farmer’s Market in this huge parking lot in front of the hotel. My cousin and I took a quick look at the Farmer’s Market as they were setting up. There was the most beautiful fruits and vegetables that we had ever seen. The stems were still on the plants. There were food trucks starting to cook their foods. You could purchase clothing, cosmetics, plants and so much more. Our one regret is that we had to leave before they finished setting up.

Our visit to the town of Pisa was just that–a visit. A choo choo train took us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Cattedrale di Pisa, Piazza dei Miracoli and more. One thing that we discovered was that after we saw the sites, we could just walk through the lovely area around it which had horse drawn carriages, restaurants, shops and more.

We had experienced wine, more wine, food, shopping til we dropped, history and more. It was time to move on to our next stop.

There is a disclaimer that I forgot to mention. All pictures of me are makeup free–it was in my lost luggage. So remember “thisisyourbestyear” you can get a natural glow without cosmetics.

**A special thank you to Ms. Fallon Alford for allowing us to use some of her photos. Fallon is a full time educator in Atlanta, Georgia who freelances as a photographer.

A Train Ride and Michelle Obama

The last two weeks have been hectic, fun, entertaining filled with laughter, good conversation and more. This post won’t be long since the pictures will speak for themselves.

We started out with a train ride to the Grapevine Mainstreet Arts Fest aboard the Trinity Metro from the T&P station in Fort Worth. We were able to meet new friends and have a great time walking Main Street, talking with the vendors, eating the food samples and more. Hopefully on our next excursion you will be able to join us.

The discussion of the Michelle Obama book “Becoming” that we held at Leaves Book and Tea Shop, lived up to everyone’s expectations. The participants sipped their ice tea while they discussed “Becoming” and life itself. There were no right or wrong answers which made it interesting. Once again we were able to connect with women that we didn’t know.

The participants were given a sway bag that contained items from Sephora (located on University). After receiving their bags, they were then presented with other items to add to their sway bags. Women entrepreneurs were then given a moment to tell about their businesses and products. They then had a surprise for each lady. Each participant received a beautiful gift box with a lovely bracelet in it from Melba Gordon Jones of Paparazzi Accessories. Ruby Powell of Ageless Perfection Skincare gave each of the ladies’ skincare products that were packaged in a lovely satchel. Beverly Gunter of Kay’s Hot Water Cornbread Mix bought samples to taste (they went fast), and then gave each lady a package of mix. Each of the entrepreneurs received a gift from Danette Wicker of Danette’s Urban Oasis. The ladies were then given tissue paper and ribbon to complete their sway bag.

Hope you can join us for our next event. Step out of your comfort zone because “thisisyourbestyear”.

Girls Trip To The Land Of Enchantment–Santa Fe, New Mexico

Going on a girls trip can be one of the best experiences, or it can be one of the worst ones that you can have. I have been very lucky, each time I have had a great time. Maybe it’s the girls I go with–they pick out amazing places, great hotels, fun activities, wonderful food and much more. Santa Fe, New Mexico did not disappoint even with the chilly rain on the first night there. My youngest daughter planned a great getaway.

We stayed at the Hotel Santa Fe, Hacienda & Spa which we both loved from the moment we arrived. It had that beautiful southwestern look. that I absolutely love. It is not a large hotel which made it a friendly place, from the front desk, to the bartender, hostess and beyond. Our room was comfortable with windows we wanted to be able to open (next time).

We sat in the lounge with its hugh wonderful fireplace which made it easy to talk with others as we all enjoyed the feel and smell of it. Nobody wanted to leave.

Our only full day started early with me going to have coffee and learn about the history of Sante Fe, New Mexico. The talk was given by Tours U Design with Nat Shipman leading the discussion. I am a history buff so this was right up my alley. They offered a tour, but I had other plans to see the city with my daughter.

The hotel runs shuttles on request that take you to the downtown area of Santa Fe where they dropped us at the Niman Gallery and the True West Gallery. There are so many great galleries in Santa Fe that it kind of makes it hard to pay and go into a museum. There were great paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more. Photos were allowed in some, but not others. Almost every weekend there is some sort of show in the downtown area, and this weekend it was the lowriders which my daughter loved. I even got into it. You can purchase native american jewelry from the locals while listening to local bands in the park. Santa Fe can be a walking place.

The choice of restaraunts is outstanding, you name it they have it except seafood. We couldn’t find a recommendation on one. There was a concensus that we try authentic New Mexico Food at Tomasito’s on Friday night. It was amazing, and we got there just in time. As we were leaving the line was out of the door in the rain. Lunch the next day was at this cute place called La Casa Sena that on my only other visit to Santa Fe my husband and I had visited. Since I love to sit outside it was perfect. The salads were yummy. Even with all of the walking we did during the day, our dinner was lite at a quaint Italian place called Andiamo. Everything looked great, but we settled for appetizers and even then we walked back to the hotel trying to walk off calories.

We did not have the opportunity to go to Ten Thousand Waves Spa (I hear they have a restaraunt now). This place is amazing, it is beautiful and the staff in fantastic. I had the opportunity to visit it a couple of years ago. You can even get your own personal hot tub. It has me spoiled, I can’t do the Asian spas anymore–I’ve had the best. Once you have gone to Ten Thousand Waves you can never go back to the chain spas.

On the way to Albuquerque to catch our flight, they even sent us off with a hot air balloon show.

In less than 36 hours Santa Fe, New Mexico proved to be enchanting. It made for a great girls weekend. As women of a certain age, we keep flying high and reaching for the sky because we know “thisisy(our)bestyear”.

Tea and Talk Discussion–Becoming by Michelle Obama

Join “thisisyourbestyear” on Thursday, May 23 at 6:30 pm at Leaves Tea and Book Shop for a sip of tea and great conversation of the Michelle Obama book–“Becoming”.

We will sip tea and have a great discussion of this important and honest story of the the former First Lady of the United States of America. Join us for an intellectual, though-provoking, honest, fun and real conversation about what we can understand, feel, and learn from this powerful book with some great networking too.

Registration is required. Tickets are free for this event. Go to Eventbrite and register.

Leaves Tea and Book Shop @ 120 St. Louis #101, Fort Worth, TX 76104

Remember “thisisyourbestyear” let’s relax and have great conversation while we sip great tasting tea.

Fashion, Food, New And Old Friends

What do you do when you are on your way to one of the most amazing runway shows this side of New York or maybe Paris? You make a stop that has been on your to do list.  First of all you take back the rental car and exchange it for a pickup.  We like to sit up high (thanks Enterprise Rental), and then we hit the road to Austin, Texas to cover Austin Fashion Week–Fashion X Austin and their Celebrating Texas runway show.

On the way we decide to stop at Magnolia Farms and see what Chip and Joanna have done to the place.  After window shopping for a while we were a little thirsty so we decided to go get some original Dr. Pepper at the soda shop next to the Dr. Pepper Museum.  Yes, it does taste different than the regular ones.  Then we were off to Austin, Texas.

This was our second time covering a show at Fashion X Austin, and this was being presented at the Austin American Statesman building.  At first glance you think that it can’t be a lot of difference between Austin and Dallas, but there is.  There were vendors in the gallery, free food and drinks and even photos to be taken.

All of the vendors, food and drinks were staged along the walls of the room which made it seem easier to walk.  The runway was set in the middle of the room with raised seating on each side which made it easier to see and even to take pictures and record the show.

Now most shows don’t want you to talk, but not Austin, they want you to be loud, show your love for the designers and all of their hard work.  The people who came to celebrate the designers of Texas did just that.  It kind of reminded you of the excitement of Friday Night Lights–no band, but still great music.

From the beginning it was not your typical runway show.  The first models to come down the runway were not professional models, and Texas designers did not dress them. They were modeling for the ARC of Texas and Nordstrom’s Department Store provided the outfits.  Austin was electrified.  Showering the models with love and respect.  It was great.  Even those who were so shy as they started their walk down the runway gained so much confidence as they continued their way.  We love Austin for this part of the show.

The excitement continued as each designer sent their models down the runway.  There was no polite applause, there was stadium sized enthusiasm which made it a great experience.  Austin does fashion different than most, but it is a good difference. 

After the show there was a party given at a local hotel with the models, and designers among the many guest.  They did it Texas style.

Since we were in Austin, we wanted to eat like the locals, but semi healthy.  Friends told us to go to Jack Allen’s a farm to table place.  It was funny, but we knew we couldn’t go wrong when our server informed us he was from Fort Worth. Great food and great service. While eating we were still discussing our favorite designers from the night before.

After lunch we decided to see the sights of Austin, but not the usual sights, we decided to walk the trails of Mount Bonnell which overlooks the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River.  They say it is a popular tourist attraction, but neither of us had ever been. 

We met up with old friends.  Some we were able to see and sit and talk with for a while.

On Sunday we were going to sleep late, and then catch breakfast and head back home, but we were invited to attend church at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and we accepted. It was a spirit filled service lead by Rev. Gaylon Clark. A big church with a small church feel.  Meeting the minster and the members was a blessing that we enjoyed.  Then off to lunch with a friend for more great conversation.  Finally off we went–home. 

We saw great fashion at Austin Fashion Week, ate great food at Jack Allen, fun exercise at Mount Bonnell, wonderful church at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist, and did we forget to say wonderful bed pillows at the JW Marriott. I could go on and on about the pillows since I have not slept on one for over 10 years until Friday.  The best pillows ever.

Remember “thisisyourbesyear”.  You can put a lot of enjoyment into one weekend. Work can be fun!

New Isn’t Always Better

I am a sentimental person I will admit, but I can let go of certain things.  There are some things that make my heart smile , and I will always keep them. My husband does not understand this sentiment.  He believes new is better.

Take for instance this quilt that goes at the foot of our bed each day, and when the weather gets a little chilly it warms better than anything electric.

This quilt has been with me since moving to Fort Worth some 44 years ago, and was probably not new when I received it.  As I packed my car to come to Fort Worth, my neighbor Miss Callie came across the street with this beautiful quilt to keep me warm when I needed it.  It was not only meant to keep me warm during cold nights, it was meant to keep me warm from cold people, cold circumstances–it was meant to ward off the coldness of the world.  This quilt was meant to wrap the love of Della Lane around me. It has done all of this and more.

Over the years it has warmed my daughters and now my grandson.  This quilt has warded off all evil spirits. Everyone reaches for this one quilt.  It seems to warm you from the inside to the outside.  Miss Callie’s quilt warms your heart.

Maybe it’s the love that it was made from. Someone made it with love for Miss Callie, and she lovingly gave it to me. 

As the years have come and gone, we’ve had to mend “our” quilt.  My husband once, and only once told me that we should buy a new one.  But now even he knows that the coldness of life can only be warmed by a quilt made with love.  Each time I spread it, or wash it I think of my street on Della Lane, and it warms my heart.

Do you have a keepsake that warms your heart–if so share with us? Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. When you warm your heart it shows.

Ladies Afternoon At The Rodeo Winner

WE HAVE A WINNER FOR OUR “LADIES AFTERNOON AT THE FORT WORTH STOCK SHOW AND RODEO!!
CONGRATULATIONS
Byrolyn G. Hill

We look forward to meeting you at the legendary Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo on Friday, February 1 at 2 pm.

Please email us your mailing address at: thisisyourbestyear@gmail.com or send a message to our Facebook Page so that we can get the tickets to you.

Sit tall in the saddle, and remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Ladies Afternoon At The Rodeo 2019 Giveaway

Hey everyone we are back with a great giveaway. This will be our first time giving away a set of tickets to the legendary Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. No boots and/or cowboy hat, no worry just put on your jeans and get ready to have some fun.

This year we are giving away a pair of tickets so that the lucky winner can join us on our ladies afternoon at the rodeo. We want you and a friend to come out for great fun and entertainment. After the rodeo we plan to visit the wonderful shops that offer any and everything from, toys, jewelry, hats, purses, furniture, tractors, saddles, clothing and more–make sure you stop by our friends at Danette’s Urban Oasis. We might even stroll into one of the restaurants including Reata’s three locations at the stock show, or we might wait until we hit the midway and grab one of the non-diet friendly foods while we explore the rides.

Entering the giveaway is simple! To win two tickets for admission to the rodeo on Friday, February 1 at 2 pm and gain admission to the stock show on the same day please complete the following steps:

  • Share this post (on Facebook or Twitter)
  • Make a comment below about why you want to hang out with a group of all around great ladies at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

We will select the winner at random on Sunday, January 27, 2019. We look forward to spending the afternoon with you at the legendary Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is old school cool just like women of a certain age.

Remember there is construction around the area so you might want to use Uber/Lyft or get there early.

Why Sit When You Can Stand?

It is amusing that people try to dictate when people should revert to rocking in the good old rocking chair.  Don’t get me wrong, I love rocking chairs.  There is something about rocking in a chair that reminds me of the comfort of home.  But saying that I was recently asked by someone who I considered to be a good friend when I was gonna sit down.

I didn’t answer, but it was a question for thought.  She said that it seemed that I was always on the go, always doing something, and even when I was just at home, it seemed that I was busy even if I was doing basically nothing.

Then it hit me, this person was one who loved to talk about age.  You know the person that loves to tell you how old they are, and the things they can’t do anymore.  Why is it that we are constantly telling others and most importantly ourselves what we can’t do anymore?  Most children think they can do just about anything, it is only as we age that we embrace what we can’t do.  My grandson recently attempted a gymnastics routine as I call it where you slide down the slide, propel yourself up and catch the monkey bars.  He did catch the monkey bars, but as the broken arm will attest he let go.

Even with the broken arm, he has decided that he is not to young/old to attempt this feat.  He goes go school, tutoring, plays sports, participates in worship at church, has play dates, studies, and so much more.  He knows exactly what has to be done, and those that he and his parents consider to be of less importance.

I say all of this just to say when he gets tired, and believe it or not he does get tired–he sits down for a rest.  But guess what, when he regains his strength, he is on the go again.  I know, I know you will probably say that he is all of nine years of age. But it should be the same for any age.

For once I am taking Honey’s Baby’s lead  (that’s my name for him).  When I get tired, I’ll sit down and rest for a while then get up again. My mother always told me that one day I might not be able to do the things I want to do so go for it.  I am also taking her advice.  So when I can’t any more, I will have great memories to bore my grandchildren with.  They will see that Honey had a ball even when she sat down and rocked.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  You will know when it is time to sit down and rest.

rocking chair 1

 

If It Works For You

Most people have read or heard all of the information on what makes a successful marriage. How to keep a husband/wife happy, the 5 or 10 or 15 steps to a happy marriage. How to fight fair. Men are from wherever and women are from some other place.

On August 4 I celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary. People asked if it felt like 40 years, did the time just fly by and other such nonsense. They also wanted to know how we made it work, was the relationship 50/50, how did having children change the dynamics of the marriage, who was the one with the last word?

There is no magic in having a successful, most of the time happy marriage. I love those people who say that every day it was almost perfect because they married their perfect mate. I personally don’t know who they married because I don’t know two perfect people.

First of all we were parented by different people. That plays a big part in the marriage. Whether we want to admit it or not, we learned from our parents–good or bad, and our parents learned from their parents and so on.

So I thought I would give you some of the myth busters that I have encountered.

  1. Never go to bed mad. Stop it! You still have to go to work because there are bills that must be paid. So go to sleep, sleep on the problem, and for the most part it may solve itself with a nights sleep. In all honesty sometimes when you sleep on something you see the other persons position.
  2. Hide some of “your” money, you never know when you might need it, and make sure you don’t let the spouse know. They know. Put it in an account with your name on it and move on.
  3. Always put your money in a joint account. You can if you want to. You know what has to be paid, and when it should be paid. Some people are not good with money. I have found that a lot of couples have separate accounts and everything works out for them.
  4. Marriage is 50/50–of what? I will leave this one alone.
  5. Marry your best friend. If I married my best friend then who am I going to have to vent my frustrations about him with? My best friend has known me since second grade.
  6. Happy couples never disagree. Who wants to be with someone who thinks exactly like they do?
  7. You should share the same interest and do everything together. We don’t even like the same movies. I’m a happy movie fan, and he’s a kill 15 people in the first five minutes fan. We compromise, well at least I compromise and go with him. He suggest that I go with my best friend to see my type of movies.
  8. You complete each other. If it takes another person to complete you, then you will never be complete. You are your own person. That’s what drew them to you in the first place.
  9. Never sleep in separate beds/bedrooms. My paternal grandparents never slept in the same room, and they were married over 60 years–they seemed very happy. They could see each other from their rooms.  I know some people who sleep in separate rooms because one snores and keeps the other one up. One suggestion is to purchase an adjustable bed–it helps if snoring is a concern.

What makes a successful marriage? I wish I knew. I can tell you that it is always a work in progress. The one thing that is a constant with us is that no matter what, prayers are said before we close our eyes and when we open them in the morning. We truly believe that prayer helps everything. He will never be a cat person, and dogs are growing on me.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. If it works for you…….