Revival time

I guess I’ve been on a little hiatus.   Too many things to focus on so a break from everything was essential. I am reviving my time to my blog and well, let’s see where we go from here.

April brought another ending to a great dance year for the Hudson Dance Studio.  Over 200 dancers of all ages and I was honoured to be asked to take some pictures.

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Of course I will start with my favourite dancer, my daughter.  I was so happy when she saw my camera and she threw me her beautiful smile. 

The girls, and a few boys always put their best foot forward and bring the audience an exciting show.

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Colourful costumes and tender emotion brought to the stage by the dancers helps tell the story of their dance.

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But, as entertaining as all these dance performances are I always prefer the “behind the scene” action.  This is where the feeling comes from. So much time dedicated to put it all together.   The behind the scene is simply put as  “organized chaos”.   It’s a wonder that everything runs a smooth as it should with so many people running around in a small area.

The smiles and laughter go from ear to ear and everyone helps everyone.

Patience is everything for these girls and boys as it is a long day.  There are always 2 shows and for the little ones, sometimes it gets a little long and tricky.  But even with the long, late night everyone brings it when the curtain goes up and the 60+ songs start to play.

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I know these girls and boys are already looking forward to the start of their lessons in September, and some have already started practicing amongst themselves with the anticipation of an exciting solo. I can only imaging what next year’s show will bring going into its 22nd year.  

Registration begins in 10 weeks and some of the dancers are already counting the sleeps. Wishing them all a wonderful summer and will be seeing them soon in rehearsals.

The little 4 legged things.

A small walk down Church Street in Burlington, VT.  The weather wasn’t great so it was hard to find something nice to shoot. Sometimes, when I go with the intention of making my outing a photography outing I often come back with less than more.  For example, today. Our trip to Burlington was planned so that we could capture the special golden hour light, but it was just too darn cold and grey.  All that said, socks pulled up and start looking.

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One thing I can always count on while in Burlington is the amount of people walking their dogs.  In the winter the dogs are all decked out in coats and boots, and in the summer the pooches get to enjoy a drink of water while their owners enjoy a cold one on  a lovely terrasse.  Their trusty companions by their side.

EDF7ECB3-88A4-442A-8487-474655ACA9ACThere is always something so funny in the dogs faces when the dog watches you take their picture.  It’s like they are asking me why I am are in their space.   I typically ask owners for permission to take pictures of their dogs but sometimes you don’t have time.

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646556A9-8DC3-4675-B3B9-589CEF25D974Dogs really are man’s and woman’s best friends. It doesn’t matter the size or breed, they just are.  They are our support and our shoulders to lean on when alone and sad.  They are the happiest to see us when we get home and the saddest to see us leave.  This little Griffon named Rosie was lucky to be carried around today.

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My little Chihuahua named Squeakers below is caught licking her lips after eating a chunk of peanut butter during her mini photo shoot.  She looks vicious but is really a sweet little girl.

My next visit back will require better weather planning.  Looking forward to more doggy pictures.

Me time

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Today is a pampering day.  It’s long overdue but I have a full day booked at the salon for my hair.  Yes, the full day.   I took the plunge a few weeks ago and decided to change salons.   It’s quite the thing.  I’m not sure if it’s the same for men but for women, there is a bond between the hair stylist and client.  It’s a colour treatment, cut, blow-dry and therapy session all booked into one.  The relationship between the customer and hair dresser is truly like a long term couplehood.  Trying out a new salon gives you that “I feel like I’m cheating” feeling.  If it doesn’t work out you have to go back to the old salon and confess.  The can always tell you went somewhere else.

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As I sit here with multiple layers of dye goop cooking my hair I can’t help but get carried away in other people’s stories and conversation.  I’m not shy and often join in but also have enough decorum to know when to stay out. In the 2 hours I’ve been here so far I’ve learnt about one woman’s brother’s heart surgery, another is looking at buying a specific hangar on line from Wayfair. Some one else is booking a trip to Bali and the other is discussing her new puppy.  I want to go to Bali.

The hair salon is quite the magical place.   It is so geared to women that even if you are the most solid standing feminist, you can’t help but let yourself go and get “womanly” at the salon.  Please, no hate mail!  It’s the only place where everyone openly discusses life’s problems and celebrations and gasps and laughs run freely through the air.

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I’m trying out this new salon Salon Mauve near my place, well it’s not new but I am new to them. I was instantly greeted with a coffee choice of which I chose cappuccino,  and the promise of a glass of wine if I’m still around late afternoon.  At this point I was hooked. It wasn’t even about my hair anymore but rather about making me feel comfortable and happy. The set up of a cafe style work station where you can sit and work, read or just chat is fantastic.  I can have my hair done and be productive at the same time instead of,  just sitting in front of a mirror for 2 hours staring at the foil in my hair which is processing colour.  At the same time, all this foil keeps any alien brain invasion away from my head.

The thing I noticed was that not only did they have hair products for sale but also decorative items.   I assume that they must be on some sort of consignment plan  from a local vendor but I cannot confirm this at this time.  On my next visit I’ll ask more about this concept.  It’s fantastic and added such a lovely vibe to the place.

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Salon Mauve has such a friendly staff.  It’s beautifully decorated in a modern contemporary look  but also has the country charm  that we all love out in our neck of the woods.  There has been a lot of effort put into customer care and it shows.  The staff is beyond knowledgeable and honest,  and I have to say that I am excited about my new look.

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Thank you for the wonderful care today!

Instagram: hairbykaite.v.k.

#hairbykaitie.v.k, #mashuphaircare

Cayo Coco, Cuba

A quick jaunt to Cayo Coco, Cuba.  The kids and I spent an exciting week enjoying the beach despite the “Tourista” we all caught.  It didn’t spoil our fun and we truly had a good time.  Iberstar Mojito was our home for the next week.

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The beach went on for miles.   We basked in the sun for short spurts and made the most of the ocean.  A little ocean side frisbee and some time spent scuba diving.  It was our first time trying it through the resort and it was worth every minute of it.

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We rented a jeep and took some time away from the resort. We did some off roading through dirt and mud and into the mountains near Moron.  Here we spent time at a beautiful ranch overlooking lush greenery.  It was simply breathtaking and the picture is an injustice.  Apparently, this was the place to buy cigars and I sure did.  Hand made by the workers at this ranch and a great souvenir for friends and family.

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Here, we jumped on the back of a couple of horses and got the grand tour.  Our horses took us out on the rocky terrain where the cows roamed freely.  We passed mango groves and picked fresh mangos off the trees. YUM!   We were shown how to drink from the mango right there on the spot.  I felt like a kid who was sucking the juice out of a juice box.  No straws necessary.  Later, back at the ranch we sat and chatted with the locals.  I, in my broken Spanish and them in their broken English.

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A pontoon boat ride to a tiny island where again, we were greeted by smiley local residents who lived on bare minimum.  We ate a typical Cuban lunch, had some drinks and all the free time we wanted to cuddle the 15 day old puppies.  We compared, shared stories and laughed at how different our cultures are.  Most of it went over all of our heads as no one was fluent enough but, we shared a beautiful afternoon together nonetheless.

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We visited a little town called Chambas.  It was hidden between sugar cane plantations and some little run down villages and was tricky to get to.  This was the home town of our guide and we got the inside scoop on all the local gossip.  Before we headed back to our resort we did a quick swing by his mother’s home where she greeted us and provided a little treat for her son who in return gave a big hug.

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There was no shortage of cats  and we took advantage of it.  We are big animal lovers and any opportunity to spend time with 4 legged creatures of any kind is a welcome part of our day.

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We were surprised at how many cars we saw from the 50’s and 60’s and brands that my kids never heard of.  Lada, Renault and the list goes on.  Not to mention, the colours.  Yesteryear, truly a time of expression and colour.  There was no hiding the plum purples and canary yellows.  Today, these colours stand out in rush hour traffic and receive looks of  “dude, what were you thinking?.  What happened to expression?

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We ate, we drank and we laughed.  We made friends from around the world, not just Cuba and that’s always my favourite part of travelling.  It’s meeting people and learning about how their home town compares to the rest of the world.  Vacation is a time of forgetting borders and past rulings, but more about embracing new adventures and cultures. It’s about everyone coming together and having a good time.

Cuba is still on my bucket list as I hope to return one day to visit the rest of this little-big country.

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Toronto, the city that keeps on giving.

My boyfriend and I went on a mini vacation to Toronto, Ontario.  We hade quite the lovely time.  This was a trip about nothing.  We really had no plan and it was way too hot to take many photos, but some fun was had nonetheless.

We had a quick lunch at a place called Wvrst.  In German, it would be spelled Wurst but it’s a cool spin on the word sausage in German.  I had my all time favourite,  currywurst.

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Some kids love ice cream, others chocolate but for me it’s really all about currywurst.  A simple Bratwurst sausage grilled to perfection, topped off with a tomato sauce and yes, curry.  Mmmmmm…………  I thought I could only get this in Germany but to my surprise, Toronto has it.

A trip about nothing means random photos.  It’s a great opportunity to take snap shots of whatever.  Flavoured straws?  Why not?   A huge selection of coloured candy straws to sweeten up an already sweet day.

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Walking the streets of Toronto I am surprised at the different types of architecture.  For the most part the downtown core of Toronto has modern sky scrapers, however, if you look around unsuspecting corners you can be surprised at the random buildings that stand out on their own design.

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I always find that seeing an old-fashioned bicycle has some sort of romantic notion.  I picture myself  biking down a dirt road, the sun starting to set and that warm evening glow surrounding everything that is beautiful.  I have a variety of wild flowers in my basket next to a bottle of wine and a fresh baguette.  The golden hour is the time of day that makes everything sparkle with specks of gold.  My imagination never stops.  Back to Toronto.

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John and I decided to take part of the kitchie act of buying a love lock and attaching it to the metal structure that bears all the love locks of previous lovers.  I wonder if it will be there next time we go.  We always get odd looks when we tell people our names are John and Doe. We think it’s rather funny.  Toe tag not included.Snapseed 46

Random picture of a sack of potatoes.  I love how this new generation is going back in time to simpler ways, only now we pay twice the price of old-time traditions and way of life. I find it rather comical.  What used to be the normal, natural way of life is now a luxury.

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Well, there is nothing traditional or random about this.  My glass of wine.  My fishing act to a random nothing day and yes, another currywurst.  Cheers!!!

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What to write…….

Sometimes, I sit and wonder what to write/ blog about.  I wish I had the natural gift of writing.  I sometimes watch movies about women writers and it just looks like it’s the best thing ever.  I see them struggling at their laptop,  a glass of wine or a steaming cup of coffee keeping them company as they pound away at the keys or stare at the screen with empty thoughts.  Some are crying and typing ferociously while others are happy and have nothing to share.  I hear music playing in the background.  It’s usually French cafe style music and the songs are always played on accordions.  I’m thinking that it must be a romantic notion for me as this is what I’m drawn to.

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So, tonight I am channelling the movie star writers. I grabbed my laptop and decided to blog. I have the house to myself, I have a glass of red “organic”wine and I will try to be one of these women I dream of and envy for what seems to be a rewarding career.

I have set the stage.  First, music.  Since we don’t have a radio anymore and our lives are run through apps and downloaded music onto our devices,  I had to turn to the entertainment system for help.   I turned on the tv and spent close to 20 minutes struggling with Apple TV looking for the right music. Apple Music didn’t have any French Cafe music! Now what?  Youtube. I spelled out French Cafe accordion music and BINGO!!!!  I found some.  2 hours of uninterrupted accordian music.  Perfect. Plenty of time to write something.   Ironically, being German I grew up with accordian music in my house and I always thought it to be annoying, and I know how to play an accordian. So why is it more special when we throw the word “French” in front of it?  Is it because we think of Paris,  sunset walks along the Seine, champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, café’s and cheese?  I know have no clue .

Untitled Design-17Next up, a comfy chair.  I have decided on the comfy gray lounge chair with pouff. Actually, it’s an ottoman.  I used pouff as it part of tonight’s theme, French.  My legs are crossed and the laptop nicely propped up on a pillow and I notice I’m already out of wine.  Refill!  My glasses are on my face just like in the movies.  All the women writers seem to wear glasses.  Great, I look the part too.  Everything is ready.  Now I wait.  I wait for some exciting thing to pop into my head to share with you but it’s blank.  I wonder if I’m distracted from the music.

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I live the life!!!!   It’s 9:40 pm, and I’m exhausted of doing nothing today.  Relieved this blog is not a paying job as I’d be fired.  I wonder if other bloggers out their struggle with keeping up their blogs.

I received a text from my daughter which broke my creative thinking.   We discussed her progress with her and her horse’s training.  While I’m texting her I thinking I need to turn off this accordion music. I’m guessing it only works in the movies, in short spurts.  Instead, I put on a favourite, no brainer movie playing in the back ground just for noise.

Inspiration. I’m still not able to come up with anything special tonight.  I hone into my tv writing mentors and now I feel like those who stare at the empty screen and pound their fists on their laptops out of frustration for lack of creation.  My brain is churning but I’m being drawn into my no brainer movie playing in the background.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better blogging day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to step up

 

So, we’ve recently begun the process of reducing our plastic and we thought we’d start with coffee. Our house is a huge coffee drinking household and between the 4 of us  we’ve decided that if we are going to permit ourselves to OD on caffeine daily, then the least we could do is be smart about it, recycle, reduce and reuse.

To start, you should know that we have 4 different types of coffee machines that we use on a pretty regular basis.  Two of these machines require pods or k-cups of sorts.  The other two do not.  Lets break it down.   Our Jura brand, automatic espresso machine does not require a filter or pod.  It just grinds the fresh beans down and the used coffee grounds go into a compartment within the machine.  When  the compartment is full, the old grounds can get thrown out.  We use this machine to brew decaf coffees in the evening after a long day at work.  The aroma of the fresh grounds of coffee fills the house giving it that European coffee shop vibe.

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The second one, Kitchenaid,  uses a standard cone filter which this too can  be tossed into the trash.  Our Kitchenaid  is our power horse machine for the weeks the kids are home.  It’s responsible for sometimes brewing 1-2 pots of coffee per day depending on everyone’s schedule and day of the week. That’s a lot of coffee and our machine always holds up to the task.  I call it “old reliable”.

Now come the culprits, Nespresso and Keurig.  Why culprits? Because they use pods or K-cups which are a single use item and contributes to waste.  Our Nespresso machine is our go to when we want to sit down on a lazy afternoon with a piece of dark chocolate and a nice steamy cup of coffee.  It uses its own brand of pods and they offer a wide variety of delicious flavours.  This is the one we use when we really have time and want to plan or daydream. Fortunately, Nespresso recycles their pods fully so there is no feeling bad about that.  However, there is some work involved to recycle their pods.  To recycle the pods you can simply put the used pods into a green recyclable bag provided by Nespresso which once full, you toss into the recyling bin. The green bags then get sorted out at the recyling center and are sent back to Nespresso. Once they are back at Nespresso everything gets separated and recycled.  You can also just bring your full green bag back to a Nespresso store and they send them for recycling as well.

Last but not least, our Keurig.  This is our quick, on the go, lets grab a fast coffee for the road,  machine.  It’s the quickie.  The Keurig can use all kinds of pods and k-cups. Some of which are just now becoming recyclable.  I have noticed that not all are 100% environmentally friendly so we’ve finished our last K-cup and are now using a “reusable” one suitable for our Kuerig.  It’s a little more work but worth it for the environment.  It still makes that yummy on the go coffee we all love.

It’s not just coffee and pods we’re reducing, but we’re continuously reducing the amount of plastic in our home in general.  We now use a filtered water system and reusable water bottles.  Instead of using plastic bags for our lunches, we are using reusable containers regularly now as well.

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Our home is definitely on the move to change the amount of garbage we dispose but I must admit, it’s not easy.  We have become so dependant on single use items that it’s really hard to commit those extra minutes to reduce, reuse and recyle.  It sounds ridiculous when you think about it or say it out loud, but when you’re running late and you want that coffee to go, it’s faster to throw in a pod instead of going through the whole process of filling a reusable one.  Same goes for many other things in our lives.  Does it boil down to saving time or is it pure laziness?  I don’t know.  It’s probably both.

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Since we are focusing at recyling plastics,  we thought we’d take on the task of composting as well.  We are researching which type of composting system will work for us and also, how to do it.  It seems tricky but we figured that since we discard so many coffee filters and used grounds into the trash why not turn it into something useful instead.  Our compost will go towards a garden which is something we’ve done in the past.   I’m not a great gardener nor am I a succesful one, but I always put my heart into it. Maybe knowing that the compost we’ve created from our own trash will give me that green thumb boost I so desire. My mother was an avid gardener and a natural at it. Unfortunately,  I did not get that gene.

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I strongly feel that we all have a responsibility in keeping our planet clean and we all need to do our share to help clean it up.  In some form or another, we have all left a negative imprint on our planet.  It’s time to turn that into something positive, sooner than later.  My house has made a big effort to make change and I hope that the results will have an impact on the environment.  It may not be instant but some change is good change.art-background-blur-255441

 

Eye opening vacation.

We just came back from Roatan, Honduras which is a very popular destination for divers and snorklers.  The ocean surrounding this little island offers beautiful views and adventures underwater.  The memories I have from snorkeling there will be with me forever.  Roatan may be a small island, but it is full of blue skies, breathtaking sunsets and great photo opportunities.  We were happy to be back on this little pleasure island.

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My partner and I spent our days venturing around the island in hopes of capturing that perfect picture.  He is a professional photographer and videographer and I, well I think I’m an up and coming photographer of life.  Not professional, just capturing the things that make me happy.

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I’m a lover of animals, nature and tiny little objects. My photos usually consist of furry critters, sometimes children and random people, and lots of odds and ends.  I seek that special little something that stands out and captures my attention and imagination. Being ocean side, there definitely was a lot of beautiful and interesting things to find.

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So, it came as a big shock when my partner and I went on our adventure and came across a beach front loaded with plastic bottles, straws, flip-flops and garbage of all kinds.

snapseed-15We drove around and found this little clearing that led us to the front row of the Caribbean Ocean.  We expected beautiful ocean surf smashing up against the rocks but instead, we were greeted by debris.  It was overwhelming.  This little piece of heaven was not part of a resort or property but rather left alone for nature to take care of itself, as it should.  A rather impossible feat I would think with all this garbage.

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We were both speechless. We had a hard time walking close to the water as there were plastic bottles all along the beach front.  We wondered how far down the beach this went.  Where did this all come from?  How many other ocean fronts were covered with plastic like this?snapseed-16

We were not able to walk the entire length of the beach as the terrain was a bit tricky, but as far down as we could see, we saw glistening plastic covering the shoreline. If this is what’s along this portion of beach, how much is floating around in the ocean?  Now, I know that there is garbage in the ocean and it’s a problem, but I had no idea that there was so much.  It’s rather sickening and disturbing that companies that fill these bottles shown in the pictures above are not working at providing a more efficient and cleaner way of distributing their products.  I wonder, do these multimillion dollar companies feel any remorse for what’s happening to the ocean with their plastics?  It’s not just bottles that washed ashore but it was the most of what was there.

I am so angry and this has consumed my thoughts ever since. It has struck a chord and I feel that I am now on a mission.  I need to do something that fixes this and fast.  For starters, my partner and I have decided to make changes in our daily lives and household.  We are already pretty good with recycling our garbage,  or so I thought, but there is definitely room for improvement.  This is just the first step.

We are pledging to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our house and hope to eliminate the big contributors such as plastic bottles, plastic bags,  straws, plastic cups and cutlery and anything else that we see along the way.

My concern is, who is going to clean up that ocean front?  How can I do it?  I am at a loss for words.

I would love to hear stories about how of you reduce your plastic and garbage in general.

Please see PlasticOceans.org, TheOceanCleanup.com and StrawlessOcean.org

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