Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to JULY!!!! Our Lilies are blooming now... So gorgeous!!! Here is one of my many favorites! Meet DIZZY.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Let's Talk Friday: Vacation Spots

I recently read an article online listing the Top Ten USA Vacation Spots...  Except for Las Vegas, this particular article only mentioned STATES (not specific areas).... But--it's interesting to see what people choose as the 'top' vacation spots  when you read these types of articles... The Top Ten list in the article I read includes:
  • Hawaii
  • Las Vegas
  • Florida
  • California
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Virginia
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Colorado

What do you think of a list like this????   I personally (when reading about a 'popular' vacation spot)  usually decide NOT to go there --because so many places are nothing but tourist traps --and wall-to-wall people....  We live near the Great Smoky Mountains (which for some reason didn't make this list) --but it is a very popular vacation spot for many people.  George and I stay away from the Smokies during the tourist seasons because we don't like sitting in traffic or waiting in lines.. Besides--we love the mountains when there are FEW people around!

I guess that is why we choose places like Mt. Nebo, Arkansas or  Ocean Isle Beach,  North Carolina.  Those two places are fabulous ---but would probably never make a "Top Ten" list.   Mt. Nebo is a state park on the top of a mountain.  Ocean Isle is a beach town north of Myrtle Beach.   Myrtle Beach is one of those touristy places where we would not choose to stay.

Mt. Nebo and Ocean Isle Beach are two places we visit at least once every year (sometimes more).  BUT--we've had other great vacations since getting married.  Our South Caribbean Honeymoon Cruise will always stand out as a fabulous vacation.  Then there was the trip to see Niagara Falls... AND--we loved our visit to Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown...  Oh My---I will never forget our Virginia trip to the Shenandoah Valley, or our trip to Charleston/Savannah....  This coming Summer,  we'll be visiting the Grand Canyon--so I cannot wait for that trip.

It's hard to choose a favorite vacation --but I guess if I 'had' to choose one of ours,  I would choose the South Caribbean Cruise.  It was the first cruise for both of us --and we were newlyweds...

Here are some places which I would love to see sometime:  Alaska,  Hawaii,   Yellowstone,  Yosemite.  I'm sure there are others,  but these four come to mind quickly.

My questions today:
-What is your favorite vacation EVER --if you had to choose only one?
-What are some other places you haven't been --but would love to visit?

Speaking of vacations,  we are taking a BLOG VACATION this next week.   We'll be back on Monday,  May 9th.  Have a wonderful week.

UPDATE:  I wrote this blog post a week ago,  but after all of the damage and devastation caused by tornadoes in our country this past Wednesday,  I really thought about doing something different.  I hate thinking about vacations when so many people don't even have a home to live in anymore. 

But--after thinking about it,  I decided to go ahead and use this one.  BUT--I'll end with a request:   Please say a prayer for all of the people who suffered so much loss due to the tornadoes.  And--if you have a little extra money,  give a donation to the American Red Cross for them.

Hugs, Prayers and THANKS!!!

P.S.  ALL photos/illustrations came from the internet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Blooms in our Yard

I have talked about our Crocuses,  Hyacinths,  Daffodils and Tulips... Now --we have lots of Irises and Azaleas blooming.. They are beautiful and I'll share some pictures of them soon.  BUT--today,  I want to share some of the other colors in our yard.. Above is a picture of our PINK DOGWOOD tree with the gorgeous BLUE sky in the background....

Speaking of blue skies,  we need some here.  We had TERRIBLE storms yesterday with tons of wind/rain/lightning/thunder and storm, tornado and flood warnings off and on all day..  This is the first time since we moved to Fairfield Glade that the tornado warning sirens blared TWICE.   But--we were okay,  which is better than many people in the path of these storms.  God be with EVERYONE who was affected by these horrible storms yesterday.

I've talked about our Pansies being so gorgeous this year.  WELL---the HOSTAS are beautiful also.  I have several different varieties ---so here is a pretty one which I'm sharing today.  This one begins almost white --and then turns green, as it grows and ages.

We have been trying to find good ground cover for our big rock bed  (on the lower side of our home) for several years.  Here's a picture showing color in this bed now  (Phlox,  Candy Tuft and Dianthus).

This is a close up of some of our pretty PHLOX. I love the different pink colors.

It has taken some time but the CANDY TUFT is finally beginning to spread.  This is a pretty ground cover,  if you are looking for something with some color.  Question:  How much are you supposed to cut back the Candy Tuft after they bloom????  Mine are getting too 'leggy'.... Thanks!

George got a great macro of one of the CANDY TUFT blossoms.  Isn't this a neat little flower?  It's amazing to see some of our beautiful flowers close up!  Sometimes, we just don't notice how much detail there is.

A friend of mine gave me a cutting of  DIANTHUS several years ago.  She called them "Pinks" ---so I didn't know their 'real' name until recently.  This is another ground cover which spreads nicely.

Finally,  here is another macro picture which George took for me.  This is a close up of the DIANTHUS...  Isn't it pretty?

Well---there's good and bad about having TONS of rain.. The good is that the yard and all of the flowers LOVE it... But--that includes all of the weeds also!!!! ha ha

The bad is that,  with the high winds and heavy rains,  our Irises and Azaleas look as if they have been beaten with a stick....  Glad I got some pictures BEFORE the storms hit.... (We got 3 inches of rain yesterday!)

Hope you are SAFE wherever you live.  As I've said several times,  Mother Nature needs to take a 'happy pill'!!!!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

OOPS---You can't visit this Family.....

Look at that picture above.... What do you see?   Lots of water????  YES -of course!!!!  BUT--what else do you see?

Now--look closer... See that road?????  It leads to someone's home on the other side of the flooded creek..... You can even see the road on 'this' side of the creek better in this picture....  YIPES!

Here is the home on the other side of the creek...  Don't think I'd want to live there. You????  Hopefully,  there is another way in and out!!!!

These pictures were taken in Dahlonega, Georgia when we visited there for George's Birthday trip.  Click HERE  for more pictures from that trip to Amicalola Falls State Park.   IF you remember,  this was a very very rainy day.  These pictures were taken AFTER we walked up and viewed Amicalola Falls and Cane Creek Falls.

This picture shows a NEW waterfall for us (CLAY CREEK FALLS) --which is found in Dahlonega.   However,  this picture came from the internet --and shows the falls as they usually are... Aren't they pretty????

THIS however is what we saw on March 9, 2011....  There was so much water coming down that creek on that morning that we couldn't even see any of the rocks... I will admit that it was fun seeing that over-flowing creek that day,  but the 'internet' picture of Clay Creek Falls is much prettier.  (Guess we'll have to go back sometime for another photo!!!!)

This is my favorite picture from that area.  I love the way that raging water looked like SILK...  This place (above the falls) is where one can 'usually' cross the creek to get to the houses on the other side...  NOT that day though!!!!   IF you want to visit those folks on the other side,  I think you'll have to wait awhile!!!!!

Have a wonderful day.   We went to Tullahoma to visit George's parents yesterday.  We found them in fair condition --but they both ate a hearty lunch when we took them out.  Bless Their Hearts!!!!!!

MORE storms on the way too.... GADS!!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 21-- an Important Day

Why do you think April 21st is important to George and me?????  If you have read my blog for over a year,  you will KNOW.....Here's our story: In 2001,  when George and I were dating,  he took me to Fall Creek Falls State Park here in Tennessee  on a gorgeous Saturday --which happened to be April 21, 2001!!!!

Several things are important about this April 21, 2001 date:
-This was the beginning of our love of waterfalls... Little did we know in 2001 that we would have visited at least 450 different waterfalls by this date in 2011. Fall Creek Falls has SIX waterfalls --and we enjoy seeing all of them,  especially after much rain (which we have had this spring).
-Fall Creek Falls is where George first KISSED me...  Now--that is awesome!!!!
-AND,  Fall Creek Falls is where George and I first told each other that we loved each other.  All of this happened on April 21, 2001!!!!

Because we love to celebrate,  we return to Fall Creek Falls on this date every year.  This year was no exception.   Last Thursday,  we drove to Fall Creek Falls and enjoyed seeing all six of the waterfalls.  We had dinner in the lodge restaurant--which we have done each year also.   It was a wonderful day.

Today I will share with you some photos from this year's April 21st trip to Fall Creek Falls..  Above is a picture of one of the waterfalls,  called the CANE CREEK CASCADES.  As I said previously,  since we have had LOTS of rain,  the waterfalls were all flowing well...  They were just beautiful today!

This is the 'main' waterfall at the state park,  named FALL CREEK FALLS.

And this one is another fav,  but not as easy to get to.  George took this picture using his long lens,  since he was at an overlook quite far away.  BUT--it's one of the best pictures I have seen of PINEY FALLS.

There is a little dam on Cane Creek surrounded by some interesting rock formations.   We usually see birds going in and out of these 'cave-like-holes' in the rocks.  But, during this trip,  we didn't see any birds.  (Maybe they were napping!! ha)  Anyhow,  the rock formations are so interesting I think.

Here are more of the rock formations.   I love seeing the reflection in the water here.

Just look at 'our' mountains..  Are they not just awesome???  This picture was taken from one of the overlooks at the Fall Creek Falls gorge.

Finally,  here is a picture of the two 'lovebirds'....Note what is written on the shirts we are wearing!!!!!!!!   Do you believe that?????   ha ha

Hope you enjoyed our April 21st visit to Fall Creek Falls.  By the way,  I did get a KISS this year also (actually, several of them)... YEAH!!!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Interesting Sky Pictures from Arkansas

On our recent trip to Mt. Nebo, Arkansas  (click HERE for more pictures from that trip),  we have talked about the weather that week ALOT.... ha....  Anyhow--every single time we go to Mt. Nebo,  we love to take both sunrise and sunset pictures... This year was a huge challenge...   BUT--as things always seem to work out for us,  we did manage to get some very interesting and 'different' pictures this year. Hope you enjoy some of our 'sky' pictures from Arkansas.

Above is probably the closest thing to a SUNRISE we saw all week.  A couple of mornings, we didn't even try since it was so cloudy.  BUT --two other mornings we got up early to see the sunrise at Sunrise Point,  but the fog and clouds definitely got in our way!!!!

This beautiful picture of the fog (mist) in the valley below was gorgeous --as we sat there at Sunrise Point waiting to see the sun!!!   You can see some lights in the valley --but what I loved was seeing all of the fog.

Here is one last picture taken from Sunrise Point --showing the fog in the valley,  and the pretty morning color in the sky.

We had a little better luck with getting some SUNSET pictures than we did sunrise.    From our cabin,  here is the beginning of a very pretty sunset.

I love this picture, also taken from the cabin.  There is always something special while watching a sunset when there are lots of clouds in the sky.... LOVE it.

This picture was taken on a very foggy afternoon.... I love seeing the sun through the fog --and also reflecting on the rocks outside of our cabin.

Here  is another good picture of the sun as it begins to set ---while peeking through the clouds!!!!  It was awesome to watch this while sitting on our back porch at the cabin.

Finally,  I saved the best 'til last.  At least,  it is MY favorite.  We drove to Sunset Point one evening for some pictures.  The sun went down behind the clouds --but all of a sudden,  the sunbeams just jumped out at us... Is this not awesome???? Wow!!!!!

Hope you enjoyed seeing more of our Arkansas visit photos.

P.S.   Did anyone see that tremendous Hallmark Movie on CBS last night,  entitled "Beyond the Blackboard"????  As a former teacher,  it made me proud to be in that profession.  Hope you saw it!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let's Talk Friday: Easter Memories

All Christians know and celebrate EASTER each year.  This is the time when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

However,  today I want us to talk about some SECULAR Easter memories... I'm going to list some possibilities  ---and then you can pick out a few memories to share with all of us.

Did you decorate Easter Eggs as a child ---or do (did) you decorate them with your own children????   My funny memory about Easter Eggs was when I was a little girl,  our eggs were ALWAYS the real thing.  There were no plastic eggs back then.  We would decorate them --and then hide them in the yard.   Almost every year,  there was at least one of those eggs which I could not find.  Even my parents (who hid them) couldn't find it....  A few weeks later,  we would find it---simply by SMELLING it!!!! ha

Did the Easter bunny bring you something on Easter morning?????

Did the Easter bunny bring you an Easter basket?   I remember feeling like it was Christmas morning----because when I would get up that day,  I just knew that the Easter Bunny was bringing me a special basket filled with eggs and more.

I don't remember getting much candy in my Easter basket back then--but what I do remember is buying my kids (who are now in their 40's) those big chocolate bunnies to go in their baskets...

The thing I remember about those big chocolate bunnies was that they were the worst tasting chocolate I had ever had!!!!!  (Wonder if that was because I bought the cheapest ones available?????)   However--my 3 sons loved them and ate every bite!!! ha

Did you wear an Easter Bonnet to church????   I used to, when I was a little girl ---along with fancy gloves and new shoes,  and a new dress.   However,  I don't think I ever wore a hat like the one pictured above... ha ha

I just have to include this picture...  (ALL of my pictures today are from the internet.)  Anyhow---I googled Easter Outfits and this one popped up..  I  absolutely love that little Easter outfit that little girl has on.   It is gorgeous...  My Easter Outfits NEVER looked that cute...

I raised three sons (no girls) ---so I couldn't 'frilly' them up on Easter... However,  just ask my sons about the year I bought and made them all wear those gross beautiful LEISURE SUITS....  Anyone remember them?????? ha ha

Did you make any cute little Easter crafts????  This one using the gloves is adorable.  It's a Glove Puppet.

Finally,  I have always thought of Easter when I see Easter Lilies... Going to church on Easter Sunday and seeing the church decorated with Easter Lilies is a memory I will always cherish.   There have been many years when I placed a Lily in church on Easter Sunday in memory of my parents.  After the worship service,  we could take those Lilies home with us to enjoy in our homes.   OR--we could give the Lily to the area nursing home or to an elderly person to enjoy.

OH--so many memories I have about the JOYS of EASTER....  Not only do I enjoy the real Easter Message,  but I also enjoy all of the other things which make Easter enjoyable for all.   Now--it's your turn!!!!!   Tell us one (or more) of your special Easter memories.

Have a very Happy Easter --and a great weekend.  I will see you on Monday.