Eleven Years and Counting…

On Wednesday, June 5th, eight of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook gathered at Lovella’s for a luncheon to celebrate our 11th year together.

Lovella provided all the oh so delicious food except for that beautiful cake that Anneliese made and brought to share.

Prayer For Friendship

You have blessed us, O God,
with the gift of friendship,
the bonding of persons
in a circle of love.

We thank you for such a blessing:
for friends who love us,
who share our sorrows,

who laugh with us in celebration,
who bear our pain,
who need us as we need them,
who weep as we weep,

who hold us when words fail,
and who give us the freedom
to be ourselves.

Bless our friends with health,
wholeness, life, and love.
Amen.

This poem by Vienna Cobb Anderson was shared with us by our dear Betty who lives in the same Province as Charlotte so neither of them could be with us for this celebration at Lovella’s home. The weather did not hamper our wonderful time under the tent. Our time and our ongoing friendship is all this poem expresses.

My Surprising Life Hodgepodge

1. What’s surprised you most about your life or life in general? 
Looking back the things that have surprised me most in life are the people God has put in my life, the places and adventures I have enjoyed and the protection from God that I benefited from on these adventures.
Here’s a short list of some surprises in my life:
That God brought Dear and I together during our time as part of a Christian Rock Band performing in the U.S. and Great Britain.
That we had three children.
That we moved to Washington State away from all our extended family for Dear to pursue a whole new career.
That our three children married helpmates who love God and we’ve enjoyed so many adventures with all of them.
That through my blogging experience God blessed me with the Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Who would have guessed I would be part of this group of women who love God, their families, are growing disciples of Jesus and who love to feed orphans and widows with our royalties? The adventures I’ve had with this group alone is mind boggling.
That we are now enjoying our first little grand.
That it looks like we’ll be moving away from the City to the Country. I’ve been a city mouse all my life…
That God is good to me and has surprised me my whole life long.
2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin pie…you have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?
It’s a toss up between butternut squash soup and sweet potato fries.

3. What’s a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?

I went to Goodreads and looked at their list of top 200 books from Washington State and I haven’t read even one. My daughter read all the Twilight series. The top votes went to Snow Falling on Cedars. The only book on the list that looks interesting to me is The Boys in the Boat.
4. There are 60 days until Christmas…have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?

No, I have not shopped at all yet. We have just had our family discussion on what Christmas will look like this year. The only thing that is organized for the holidays is the fact that I have everything in the attic in it’s proper containers. The holidays that I choose to gather decor for have their own bins, etc. I hope our kitchen will be completed before Thanksgiving or before Christmas.

5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you’d like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

SeaJack #6 010The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis’s Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee’s Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson’s home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)

How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

SeaJack #6 025Back in May of 2014 our daughter and I drove from Seattle to Jacksonville, North Carolina to set her up in an apartment just before her Marine husband returned from a long tour of duty in Afghanistan. We drove through part of Tennessee to get to North Carolina. Our first stop was Hendersonville to spend the night at the home of one of Andrew’s Marine buddies who was in Afghanistan with him. The next day we drove through part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and had a sandwich in Gatlinburg. We drove through Pigeon Forge to get to Gatlinburg. That is one weird town. Click here and you’ll see my post from our drive through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

I’ll have to pass on traveling to Tennessee again.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Mommy and Addy. We had 7 days enjoying her and watching her every move from October 12-19. She cut her first tooth upon turning 7 months old.

Thank you to Joyce From This Side of the Pond who asks the questions for Wednesday Hodgepodge. And thank you to everyone who took the time to read my answers. I appreciate your time and comments.

 

A Baker’s Dozen of Love…

11 Collages and 2 singles equals 13, a baker’s dozen.

On Thursday September 21st I left our home at 4pm to head to the airport to pick up our precious cargo from Seatac airport. Our usual 30-35 minute trip to the airport took 2 hours on this evening with traffic and then a major collision just a few miles from the airport. I left in plenty of time because I’m Moisi’s daughter and I had time to park and find the baggage carousel that our kids luggage would arrive on a few minutes before we met up.

I’m so happy to report that Addy May seemed to recognize me and she smiled and giggled when we made eye contact. I held her while we waited for the luggage and everyone that walked past her got a smile and she got lots of compliments. She seems to be pretty social. It took a lot less time to get home from the airport and Dear had his famous Tomato Rice Soup ready for our travelers. Addy enjoyed her new Baby Einstein Walker that Baba and Gramps bought for her, sitting in it and standing outside of it. We all learned colors and numbers in English, Spanish and French!

Addy is enjoying some soft food these days and she had her rice cereal mixed with homemade no sugar applesauce and a little of mommy’s milk for her meal. Uncle Andrew and Aunt Katie joined us on Thursday night for dinner and some Addy time.

On Friday morning Uncle Josh, Aunt Katie and Uncle Andrew arrived in time for some breakfast, a walk and then lunch at our local Mexican restaurant so Addy could meet our favorite waitress who has been seeing weekly photos of Addy since she was born. Auntie Laura had to work on Friday and was wrapping up two weeks with International workers at World Concern, the non profit she works for.

Addy lights up for her uncle’s and auntie’s and here she only has eyes for Josh.

Auntie Katie is making sure Addy doesn’t fall over as she lifts herself up to stand next to the couch and give it a taste.

Saturday morning jammy time and once again the uncles and aunties are over for meals and hands on with Addy May.

Auntie Laura got some looks of love from Addy in the collage above.

The reason the kids flew over for these few days were all about tickets for a concert that were purchased a year ago. This crew above all had seats together at Century Link field for a Coldplay concert on Saturday night. Jamie and Sarly are dear friends of both our boys and their wives. Jamie and Dan have been best friends since 2nd grade. Who could have guessed Dan would marry a Jamie, too. Josh came up with a vehicle that the six of them could travel in together. They had a wonderful time and little Addy May survived her first full night away from mommy and daddy. Not saying there weren’t any tears but we all survived and she did take a bottle from me successfully.

The morning after she was still smiling at me and was happy to come to me. I’m glad I remembered to snap a shot of the these three before they headed back to the airport Sunday morning.

Addy was a great little traveler, granted the flight was only one hour long, but it was still a good start for her traveling memories.

Our time was rich and now Gramps and Baba are recuperating from all the fun, bending down, lifting, chasing and feeding the ones nearest and dearest to us! Thanking the good Lord for all that we enjoyed.

Family Time

I’ll be getting around to reading your posts now that our kids are back home with little Addy. We had good times with yummy food and lots of laughs. Addy was the center of attention. I’m kicking myself for not getting a photo of the nine of us while we were all together. Addy survived her evening alone with Baba and Gramps and her parents had a wonderful evening out.

Blest Be…

…the Tie That Binds.

On Friday we all gathered at Josh and Laura’s and enjoyed some bonding time with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas. Uncle Andrew finally got to meet Addy in person. Our grandniece was at Katie and Andrew’s wedding (a wee babe) but little grandnephew was not born yet. We all were meeting little “Mister” for the first time.

Addy enjoyed watching “Mister”. He was entertaining the adults with his knowledge of States and Capitals. We yelled out a state and he gave us the capital. He’s three and he knows capitals better than us adults.

Sister-in-law, Christina is married to Dear’s only brother and they have 3 daughters. Jenna was their first daughter born and she has two children that we got to know during their 5+ day visit from New York. Jenna is Dear and my first niece and we spent lots of quality time with her in her early years since we all lived in Southern California. It was nice to see her as a mommy.

“Sky” is five and she got a kick out of little Addy. Addy likes to stare at her, too.

Uncle Josh, Addy, and “Mister” with the cool reflections I didn’t know I was capturing in this photo.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

Words: John Fawcett, 1782.

This hymn was sung in the 1940 mo­vie Our Town, which was nom­in­at­ed for sev­er­al Acad­e­my Awards.

And here’s Baba reunited with her sweet grandgirlie, Addy.

I’m busy catching up with many of your posts that I’ve missed over the last several days so I’m not joining memes today since I won’t get a chance to visit other participants. Can you believe we are halfway through 2017 already! Praying for some of our blogging friends, bj at Sweet Nothings who just lost her Mr. Sweet, Cuisine Kathleen who lost her dear husband suddenly the end of May, and others who are suffering from long term illnesses. May you be revived by God’s “glorious hope”.

Keep the Old ~ Monday Mosaics

16265595_10212122633486947_7943960224829511106_nMake new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other gold. A week ago Monday I was able to attend the memorial service for my long time friend Heidi’s mother in Tustin, California. We had a message in Russian and a message in English. Heidi’s son, son-in-law, and brother gave eulogies and remembrances of their grandmother and mother. My brother-in-law led us in singing familiar hymns and the singing was robust with organ accompaniment.

2017-01-24-miscThe service was held at the same church that Ken and Heidi were married in back in 1978. I was her matron of honor. Heidi and I have been the best of friends since 1969. We spent countless hours in each others homes and around each of our sets of  parents and siblings. Heidi lived in Dear and my home during her engagement to Ken.

2017-01-24-misc1The photo on the top of the mosaic is of me, George (Heidi’s brother), and Heidi. The lower photos are of Dear’s brother and sister-in-law and friends of ours from our Christian Rock band years.

misc-so-cal-1-17-034Me and two of my sisters with our dear old Pop. Our extended family and Heidi’s family attended the same Russian Baptist church growing up.

misc-so-cal-1-17-032Two of my sisters with a cousin and cousins by marriage.

2017-01-24-misc2My cousin Jim with my pop, Jim’s uncle. Can you see some resemblance? Jim’s father was one of my father’s older brothers. Me and my bestie from college days, Jeanie, who married my cousin Jim.

arroyo-dr3Heidi and I had many adventures together from 1969 and on. We traveled the East Coast of the U.S. in 1970 and traveled to England with our rock band more than once. Our kids were born in alternate years, our Josh in 1979, their Nikki in 1980, our Dan in 1981 and their Nathan in 1982.  We added one more with Katie in 1985.

ventura11Our kids enjoyed their times together when they were little. We moved to Washington State in 1988 and then our visits were few and far between and the times we get together now are for events like weddings, baby showers, or funerals.

mohai70After the memorial service two of my sisters and I spent late afternoon and early evening with Ken and Heidi in their home with their kids and grandsons. So many good memories shared. It was so encouraging to see the relational dynamic within their growing family and get to know Nikki’s and Nathan’s spouses better. We loved those kids as little ones and really enjoy them now as adults. I wish I would have thought to take a photo during our time. Our hearts are with you as you miss the presence of your mother, grandmother and Gigi here on earth.

Linking up to Mosaic Monday with Maggie at Normandy Life.

Thanksgiving Mosaics

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This is a big week in the U.S.A. with our annual Thanksgiving Day on Thursday. My mosaics this week are all about Thanksgiving.

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A few weeks ago I went to a sign making class and it was fun to make the sign above and then find a spot in our home for it.

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This mirror has moved around our home but it’s always the spot for our THANKFUL blocks.

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Gobble gets it’s spot on the hutch closest to the table where we will gobble our Thanksgiving Meal.

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Some different settings over the years.

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The food that our plates are never big enough for. Always turkey, always stuffing, always candied sweet potatoes/yams, and always gravy. We can take or leave mashed potatoes or something green. Desserts include pumpkin pie and or pecan pie.

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The most important thing is to have people we love sitting around the table. Most years besides our immediate family we have my sister and her hubby with us. She’s the only one of my 7 brothers and sisters that live in the state of Washington. We’ve also had my brother Tim and his wife Letty fly up to spend Thanksgiving with us.

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Most years we have two gatherings one at home on any day before or after the big day and one at our friends home with all of their family and friends on the actual day. We work around our kids for this big day. Every other year Josh and Laura trade off being with us and being with Laura’s family. Next year Dan and Jamie will stay home with their new little one. It’s hard to trek 5-1/2 hours over the mountain pass to get here. Andrew missed a few Thanksgivings because he was in Afghanistan or at his base in North Carolina. Katie spent a few Thanksgivings without him by her side.

When your kids get married and have more than one family to enjoy you have to let them have the freedom without nagging and guilt to enjoy holidays elsewhere. We are happy to celebrate anytime we can with our kids. It doesn’t have to be on the given day.

Growing up in my family celebrating Thanksgiving was not a given. My parents immigrated to the U.S. after WWII and it took a while for this holiday to set in. Then the church we were part of had annual conventions over Thanksgiving weekends so the meal was big and in a church hall. Dear and I spent most Thanksgivings after we were married at his mom and dad’s. After we moved our family from California to Washington state we started hosting Thanksgiving. This next photo was our one and only Thanksgiving in Washington State with Dear’s family with us. Dear’s father died in 1985 a couple months before our Katie was born. We moved Dear’s mother up to Washington with us in 1988 and built a mother-in-law apartment for her in our daylight basement.

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I’m guessing this was 1989 or so. Dear’s brother and SIL at the head of the table, to the right their two oldest girls (they have one more daughter born in 1991), our three, BIL Steve with glasses that rival mine, sister Lana, me, brother Leonard (Lana’s twin) and Dear’s mother Verna. We left this house behind in 1997.

If you live in the U.S.A. where are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Do you cook or are you invited elsewhere?

I’m going to link up with Maggie from Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday and later this week to ABC Wednesday for T is for Thanksgiving with additional thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and Roger’s team of ABC’ers.

ABC Wednesday is close to starting their Farewell Tour in Blogdom and we were challenged to come up with our first ABC Wednesday Post.

You can see my first post in February of 2008 by clicking on, D is for…

Favorite Five on Friday

The Lord is good to me and my family. Last Friday I flew from Seattle to Southern California to visit family and friends while Dear traveled to Chicago for an Oncology Conference. When I exited the plane in Santa Ana, California, my sister Lana was at the gate ready for her flight to Seattle. She is a beloved passenger on Alaska Airlines from John Wayne Airport and her friends at the gate decided I was special because I’m her sister so they booked me in first class for my return flight to Seattle. Yes and amen to that!

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Here’s my baby sister with her sassy new hairdo. I’m so thankful that she shares her flying privileges with me. She’s a million mile traveler with Alaska Airlines and she doesn’t lord it over the airline employees but treats them with kindness and love and that trickled down to me.

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My brother Leonard, Lana’s twin, and my sister Vera met me outside of baggage claim to take me to lunch. Yes…my family is always there for me. We had lunch at South Coast Plaza before Leonard and I headed out to Neuvo, California to visit another brother and his dear wife.

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Spending time with my dear old Pop (93 years old) and meeting my sweet little grand niece (5-1/2 months) was a treasured experience while I was in Southern California.

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I also spent a few hours over lunch with my Russian Baptist best friend, Heidi. Upper left hand photo from 2016 and the rest from the 1970’s. We were marveling at God’s goodness to us in allowing us to survive some crazy choices we made.

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My flight home in first class was very nice. Beautiful views of the California Coast with a nice meal and more great views of Mt. Rainier when we reached Washington State.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig! We are working on a new phase of our yard project putting a border along our front planter.

Phase nextWhile I mowed and weed whacked Dear worked on digging out the trench to add the blocks for our new planter border. Woohoo! Hard work with us now sitting and wondering how we can manage getting up and down with our aching muscles!

Thank you to Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday and dear Susanne at Friday’s Fave Five.

V is for Vera…

Vera is one of my older sisters. She was recently widowed and has moved into a 55 and over community not far from her old home. While I was visiting she had an open house to share her new home with friends and family.

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Her manufactured home is open concept with 9 foot ceilings that give it a spacious feeling.

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There are 3 bedrooms which include a large master suite with a walk in closet and large bathroom with a separate tub and shower. My younger sister Lana lives with Vera part-time when she is in Southern California working. Lana got to decorate her own room. Since Lana was in Washington while I was in California I got to crash in her room. My brother Leonard from Texas was also staying with Vera and he got the bedroom/office and the blow up mattress.

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It was good to see some of our cousins and old friends during the open house. Vera used an old email list for her invites so if she missed you she apologizes.

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It was a nice day and we set up tables and chairs in the carport. I did not get photos of everyone, oops.

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On Sunday Leonard, Vera, and I met some of our family for brunch in Newport Beach at Sol Cocina.

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Leonard and I got to meet our newest grand niece for the first time.

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Ellie with her Baba, my SIL Kelly.

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Later in the day some of my family gathered at Vera’s again for more food and fellowship.

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I’ve posted this photo before but I love it enough to post it again, Pop (dzeda) and Ellie. My dear old pop made it out to Vera’s twice and he lasted for several hours which was good for him.

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My pop with 5 of his 8 children.

Leonard and I managed to be with our pop for dinner at Kathy’s on Friday night, open house on Saturday, Dinner at Vera’s on Sunday and then we drove out on Monday morning to go out for breakfast with him and my sister Kathy and to say goodbye to him until we meet again. He got his 2 eggs sunny side up with hash browns, sausage, white toast and coffee and even though it was at Coco’s instead of Denny’s he said it was good. He also insisted on paying. He says he needs to get rid of his money. From breakfast we headed straight to the airport for Leonard’s flight back to Texas. I still had 24 hours left in California.

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The fun just kept coming. After I dropped Leonard off I met up with my BFF from my Russian Baptist days and we had lunch and a few hours of catching up. Would you believe from this meet up I headed to the third restaurant of the day, Zov’s, to meet my sisters for dinner?

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Kathy and I split our Kebob dinner and we all shared the dessert tray. Kathy, this could have been your late birthday celebration if my brain wasn’t completely fogged up by then! Oye!

When Vera and I returned home Dear’s brother and SIL stopped by for a brief visit since they couldn’t come to the Open House. It was good to see them face to face. BTW, Dear wasn’t with me in Southern California because he was working at a conference in Chicago.

I’m now home after flying first class and that’s a fun story all by itself. This post is way too long already. It’s good to be home and I thank God for watching over me and giving me valuable moments to treasure with my Pop, family and friends.

Since it’s Wednesday and ABC Wednesday is on the letter V this post will be linked up for V is for Vera! Thank you Mrs. Nesbitt and Roger with his team of ABCers.

Friends Touring San Francisco

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About forty six years ago I met Alice through my Russian Baptist church friends in the Los Angeles area. She lived in San Francisco and would come down and stay with her good family friend, another Alice she was named after. When she visited we had some fun adventures. The photo above is of Kathy (a New York Russian friend) myself and Alice at the Rose Parade in Pasadena. This was New Year’s Day in 1971. My friend Alice’s family came out of China to the United States years ago.

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Fast forward to January 2016 and since I was in San Francisco I messaged Alice to see if she had the time to get together. Happily she was more than willing to pick me up at our hotel and take me on a incredible driving/walking tour of the city she knows well. We started by driving the scenic route to Golden Gate Park to see what we could see. We started at the Conservatory of Flowers but were very disappointed to find it was closed for maintenance. We found a great alternative at the botanical gardens in the same park.

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Magnolias were the feature of the day. I also captured this great Blue Heron.

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We left the park and drove through the Presidio where there were some good views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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China Beach past the late Robin Williams’ home gave us another great view of the bridge. The stone reads Since Gold Rush times this cove was used as a campsite by many of the Chinese fishermen who worked in and around San Francisco Bay. Their efforts to supply the needs of a young city helped establish one of the areas most important industries and traditions.

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At this point we headed to China Town to have lunch and walk about and shop. It’s good to know what garage to park in because parking is difficult in China Town. Alice chose a restaurant nearby and suggested the Dim Sum sampler. “Dim Sum” refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food, traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. It reminded me of High Tea. We had fun shopping about the streets of China Town with all the special wares offered for Chinese New Year (Year of the Monkey) that is coming up in early February. Many of the celebrations start the last weekend of January. I bought some fun items in hopes of setting a Chinese New Year table. This year Chinese New Year will be competing with the Super Bowl and all the preparations for that. I will share more from China Town tomorrow.

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Our last stop of the day was at Twin Peaks high above the city of San Francisco. You can see that the city is going all out for Super Bowl 50!

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The views from Twin Peaks were incredible. From here we drove through lots of traffic and made it back to the hotel in time for Dear and me to walk a couple blocks to dinner.

My visit with my old friend Alice was so good. We had so much time to catch up as we drove around the city. So much life happens in 46 years! Thank you my friend for spending the day with me and showing me your beloved city!

I’m linking to Sunlit Sunday at My Little Home and Garden and Amaze Me Monday with Cindy at Dwellings (The Heart of Your Home).