One of my favorite past times…food!

Exploring the culinary delights of New Hampshire and Vermont makes for a great adventure.  Elixir Restaurant in White River Junction, Vermont gets an A+ in my book. While the menu boasts lots of appetizing foods, I can never get past the Cocoa Dusted Filet Mignon. It is just way too good!  Add a piece of chocolate lava heaven, and the experience is complete.

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Suicide Prevention Movement Gains Traction

Project Light to Life

Hi all!

A little less than a year ago, I interviewed Emily Dayton, who began a suicide prevention movement with her parents known as You Can NOT Be Replaced. At the time of the interview, they had over 14,000 wristbands from their movement circulating across the country, spoke at school assemblies, etc. Now that their movement is growing, they have been doing even more for this cause and have been kind enough to provide us all with an update! Check out their guest post below:

dayton

Hey Christine and peeps!

We have had so much great stuff happen this year! We have given our assembly in Jr High and High schools in New Jersey to about 10,000 students! What an amazing ride and an honor to have a moment in front of a large group of school kids for an hour with the opportunity to reach that one kid in the…

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Teeth Marks on a Lunchbox

Did you know soft sided insulated lunch boxes are hard to tear with teeth?  How about the types of doors easily opened by a hungry Lab desperate to raid the trash? Twelve years with our yellow Labrador Retriever Tucker has taught our family many lessons.

First, love and food are the only ingredients really needed to be happy in life. Tucker didn’t care if our wallet was full, only that we had hands to rub his ears with.

Second, you are perfect just the way you are. Sweat pants and messy hair is just the same as a three- piece suit and shower (although getting dog hair on a suit seemed to be more fun to him).

Third, be happy in the moment. Tucker didn’t worry over the future or stress about the past. He only knew the present and was happy in every single moment.

Lastly, life is too short.  We knew someday we would lose him, but the day always seemed so far away.  Even as his health failed we clung to the permanence of his presence. Imagining a life without our gentle soul just wasn’t possible.  Recently, we were faced with every pet owner’s worst nightmare…deciding when quality of life outweighed quantity.  Our boy struggled with standing, and his labored breathing made us fearful he would die alone and scared.  We said goodbye to him as a family, and he spent his last few hours on this earth surrounded with love and pizza.

The first day back to “normal” after Tucker’s death came too soon. I made it through my yoga stretches despite missing the cold nose shoved in my face.  I even walked by the dog leash still hanging in its spot on the wall without crying. Then I packed my daughter’s lunch. As I opened the faded green lunch bag, I was met with hundreds of teeth marks on the inside. The teeth marks I scolded him for, and he would hang his head as if sorry…or at least sorry he had gotten caught.  One of Tucker’s gifts was his ability to find that lunch box even if hidden inside a sealed backpack.  Almost nightly, I would find it on the floor with bits of chewed plastic containers and licked clean food wrappers scattered around.

Tucker’s influence is still all around us. Like the teeth marks in the lunch bag, his spirit is permanently indented in our souls. Our hearts burn with pain, but we are grateful for the beautiful years we spent with him. A dog’s life may be too short, but their impact will last forever.  Rest in peace sweet Tucker, you will live on in our hearts.

Darkness of the Mind

A dear friend of mine lost her daughter to suicide this week. A young life destroyed by a silent killer, no family is immune from the effects of mental illness. There is no shame or weakness in seeking help for a troubled mind. True courage comes in facing one’s demons. Rest in piece, little angel.

 

Darkness of the Mind

By Susan Cunningham

Beauty hides lonely mountain in the mind

Jagged cliffs descend, blinding a life sought

Winter buries, storm clouds erase true thought

Stranded. Lost hope and reason left to find.

Anger chases. Revulsion preys unkind.

Guilt churns. Hope mislaid blue in endless knot.

Mist entombs spirit dark, weary from fought

Forgotten soul along road left behind.

Weak and evil assumed. Never known ill.

Inner thoughts flooding, an unsafe black slope.

Waste and decline bleeding courage to cope.

Grief and sadness consumed. Burned without will.

Could there, should there? No return with false hope.

Only death escapes. Life left unfulfilled.

The Food of Universal Studios

Yum!  What’s just as good as rides and themed islands? The culinary adventures you take along the way!  While most theme park food is mediocre at best in addition to being pricey, Universal serves a variety of delicious options. Be prepared to spend much more than you want, but with a little creativity, your food budget can go a long way.  Best advice is to eat your big meal at lunch since prices are lower than dinner.

Riding the Hogwart’s Express

All aboard! What’s the best way to move from Universal Studios to Island’s of Adventure? Hogwart’s Express transports guests from London’s King Cross station (Universal Studios) to Hogsmeade and Hogwart’s Castle (Islands of Adventure). Not only is the train air conditioned and a great way to save the legs and feet, but riders also experience an up-close encounter with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and even a few Demeantors!

 

Welcome to Diagon Alley!

The theme of the day….crowds.

As expected, the influx of Harry Potter fans to Universal Studios created a river of people to navigate through. The star attraction, Escape from Gringotts boasted wait times ranging from 120 to 350 minutes. Even entering the famous alley way from J.K. Rowling’s hugely successful books felt a little like crowd surfing. But….the final product of almost four years of planning is definitely worth the trip.