My Little Slice of Heaven

I wanted to share my special placeβ€”just a couple blocks from my home. It’s where I feel like I can connect with the rest of the world.

Wishing all my friends a wonderful weekend and Happy Easter. Be well!

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~Ana

Sending Warm Thoughts to My Northern Friends

I am originally from the islands in the Pacific Northwest and from there moved up into the mountains (I am adventurous that way). I lived on a plot of land that bordered the National Forest. The air was fresh, our creek’s water was pure glacial run-off, and there were firs and pines as far as the eye could see. Idyllic.

north-cascades-national-forest-ana-livingston-fine-artistAfter a wonderful first summer and beautiful fall, winter struck on the first of November. I found myself buried under snow for the next six months of my life. One quickly learns at a point such as this that you have a choice: do or die.

Needless to say I got very adept with a snow shovel (and later a snow blower) but even those tools didn’t do much in handling the constant physical (and mental) strain that arises from trying to carry on with even the simplest of daily activities.

I now reside on the Suncoast of Florida, but that does not mean I don’t have compassion and an understanding of what you folks up north are enduring. We are thinking of you down here and hope it ends very shortly.

From me to you, here’s a little something to warm your day:

dunedin-edgewater-clearwater-florida-ana-livingston-photography-copyrightedChin up!

Love,

Ana

Mariah June and a Sherbert Sunset – Clearwater, Florida

It’s another calm and colorful late evening. Seated is my daughter, Mariah June, enjoying the few last moments of a setting sun here in Old Clearwater Bay. In the distance is one of the beautiful barriers islands to the mainland: Clearwater Beach.

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A nature woman just like her mother; my youngest, Mariah June

This sunset is a wonderful gradient of sherbert hues: yellow through to orange, pink, purple, and finally blending to blue. The tide is out, offering many treats for the seabirds and a warm breeze glides silently over the water with nary a care. It’s almost magical.

Wishing my friends an equally serene and carefree weekend.

~Ana

Poolside on the 4th of July Weekend

What a glorious weekend it is; low 90’s with a nice breeze, constant boat traffic to and fro in the Intracoastal Waterway, and I am enjoying every moment, in and out of the pool.

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I’m downwind from someone’s great smelling bbq!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. My best to you all!

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The water temperature is a little coolish. Perfect on a hot day!

~Ana

Through the Pages of Tuscany

Ah, Tuscany. My favorite place in the world.

Because Tuscany is a treasure trove of fine art, breathtaking architecture, savoury food and world renowned wine, travelers to the central Italian region often overlook its rich literary history. Yet for any lover of great poetry and prose — particularly writers like Boccaccio, Petrarch and Dante — Tuscany is also the muse that inspired some of the writers’ greatest works. Read on…

~Ana

Siena's Basilica of San Domenico houses the partial remains and relics of the city's patron saint Catherine

Siena’s Basilica of San Domenico houses the partial remains and relics of the city’s patron saint Catherine. (BBC)

My White Sangria Sunday at the Lake

I just had to shareβ€”well, at least via a photoβ€”a most delightful discovery I’ve made as of late: Eppa White Sangria. Now, I’m not a drinker by any stretch, but this stuff is just plain good and 100% organic, to boot.

In Eppa’s own words: “Introduced with a fruity and inviting nose that leads into a light-bodied and refreshing taste, Eppa SuperFruit Sangria is full of amazing flavor.” Too true.

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The new Eppa SuperFruit White Sangria. My one-word review: yum.
http://eppasangria.com/

I’ve tasted both the red and newly-released white and though both are very good, my personal palate leans towards the latter. If you have the opportunity to try a glass or two, do write and let me know what you think.

Bottoms up! πŸ™‚

~Ana

The Sleeping Giant Awoke

Well, I’m back.

It’s odd to think that those three little words are the first line of my long-overdue post while simultaneously being the last line of a long, yet very epic novel (spoiler alert for that link). At any rate, it’s been awhile, eh? Probably 3 months. And I’ve missed you. πŸ™‚

I have been wrapped up in this and that, and well…you know how life goes. In deciding the content for my first post in so many months, I thought of my time in Hawaii so many years go.

I had just graduated high school at age 17, my step-grandfather had passed away, and I was asked by my grandmother to accompany her (with parental permission) to Hawaii that next winter. My family and I were living on the west coast at that time, and I had always wanted to experience the islands; all the while growing up they seemed so close but at the same time a million miles away. Now my dreams were to become reality.

Winter came and I found myself boarding my very first airplane to a new world. We left a frozen land, crossed an endless sea, and ultimately landed in an oasis of sun, fun and surf. The two of us then proceeded to travel the normal tourist route of shops, hotels and marketplaces in bustling multi-cultural Oahu.

I have to admit that Oahuβ€”or The Gathering Placeβ€” being the busiest and most tourist-friendly of the islands, did not resonate with me. After due time I was happy to find myself finally climbing a tarmac staircase onto a rickety puddle jumper destined for Maui.

Now, this was many years ago, mind you, and probably at least 2 dozen major hotels have since been built on the leeward side of the Valley Isle, and built in what I remember as being “nothing more” than pineapple and sugar cane fields at the foot of the West Maui Mountains. In those days it was a magnificent sight and one I never grew tired of.

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The West Maui Mountains back when pineapple and sugar cane fields ruled the shorelines.

After the Maui experience we flew up to the northernmost island, Kauai. The Garden Isle, at that time, was scarcely populated and I recall there being a building restriction in place: a maximum of 5 stories. Consequently, it kept the hotel chains to the bigger islands and the result on Kauai was that you were surrounded by the native culture, which I had come to love.

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I stayed in a hut on the Wailua River. Banana trees grew in the front “yard” which seamlessly merged with the shoreline.

For a short time I stayed in a very small cabin on the Wailua River. This was a calm and quiet time, and I somehow escaped ever viewing the boat that would take sunburned tourists up the river to see the famed Fern Grotto.

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The famous lava-rock grotto covered with hanging ferns otherwise known as the Fern Grotto. Kauai, Hawaii.

I was more content to pick ripening bananas off the trees by the shoreline or crossing over the road and down the hill to collect shells on the beach by Kapaa Town. And then, there were always the moonrises…

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Moonrise on the shore of the Wailua River. Otherworldly, to be sure.

Kauai is known for many things, one of them being the mountain range that serves as the resting place for the mighty Sleeping Giant (Nounou Mountain). As Hawaiian legend goes, the giant (after much labor or overeating….or both,) laid down on the mountain ridge and never again rose.

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This island also holds the record as having one of the rainiest spots on Earth: Mount Waialeale (Hawaiian: overflowing water). Rain has fallen more than 340 days within a single year here, and has at least once accumulated close to 700 inches of annual rainfall. The result is endless green.

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The “Wall of Tears”: a mountainside in the crater atop Mount Waialeale, Kauai.

It’s interesting that I recalled these memories today, and perhaps even more interesting to me that I decided to share them. Simply put: Hawaii was a life-changing experience for me all those many years ago. It was there that I decided what I wanted to be in lifeβ€”truly.

Is that to say I haven’t taken a detour now and again? No. But at least I knew when I had wandered, and which was the right path when I’d finally made my way out of the wilderness.

Well, I’m back.

~Ana

Dinner on the Beach (Clearwater Beach, Florida)

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Clearwater Beach, Florida. The sunsets here are incredible.

Sunset from my Patio

A friend of mine is traveling Europe and the Far East for a month or so.Β  I’m housesitting and loving it.Β  I’ve temporarily traded in my Gulf view for that of a calm lake.Β  No complaints here.

Sunset on the lake.  Peaceful times.

Sunset on the lake. Peaceful times.

~Ana

Sunset in Dunedin. Florida

Sunset in Dunedin. Photograph by Ana Livingston

Sunset in Dunedin. Photograph by Ana Livingston