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Traveling to Scotland

Scotland, a land of rugged landscapes, ancient castles, and warm-hearted people. It invites travelers on a journey steeped in history, culture, and breathtaking views. From the dramatic Highlands to the historic cities, every corner of Scotland unveils a unique part of its rich history. Plus, it’s also the filming sites for my favorite book series and TV show, Outlander!

Edinburgh – The Capital

Start your Scottish adventure in the capital city, Edinburgh. This city is a blend of historic charm and contemporary energy. Explore the iconic Edinburgh Castle, balanced atop Castle Rock, offering panoramic views of the city. Wander down the Royal Mile, a historic main street lined with medieval architecture, lively street performers, and traditional pubs. Plunge into the city’s cultural scene with a visit to the National Museum of Scotland or a stroll through the art-filled Dean Village.

The Highlands

Plan to travel north to the Scottish Highlands, where dramatic landscapes and historic castles await. Drive through Glencoe, a valley of towering peaks and haunting beauty with a tragic history. Explore Eilean Donan Castle, an iconic fortress nestled on a small island. This castle provides a glimpse into Scotland’s medieval past and you can stay on the grounds. Hike through the Cairngorms National Park, a wilderness of rugged mountains, ancient forests, and pristine lochs.  If you love the outdoors, the Highlands is for you.

Stirling

Stirling, with its historic significance and cultural richness, is a must-visit destination. Explore Stirling Castle, a symbol of Scottish royalty, and the surrounding Old Town with its cobbled streets and ancient architecture. Pay respect to the iconic Wallace Monument. This icon is standing tall on Abbey Craig, commemorating the national hero Sir William Wallace. Stirling’s blend of history and vibrant culture captures the sense of Scotland’s resilience and national pride.

Glasgow

Travel to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, known for its contemporary flair and artistic vibrancy. Explore the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, housing a diverse collection of art, artifacts, and natural history exhibits. Stroll through the trendy West End, filled with independent boutiques, cafes, and the beautiful Kelvingrove Park. Glasgow’s modern and creative spirit offer a dynamic contrast to the country’s historic landscapes.

Castles and Battlefields

Embark on a castle-hopping adventure through Scotland’s scenic countryside. Visit the, the majestic Fort William or the fairy-tale-like Craigievar Castle, soon to be newly renovated in late spring 2024. Each fortress carries tales of centuries past, from royal intrigues to battles fought on Scottish soil. The Battle of Culloden was fought on a soggy field over 200 years ago, and would change Highland culture forever. The well-preserved historic sites stand as guardians of Scotland’s history and heritage.

Scottish Traditions

Experience the warm hospitality and traditions of the Scottish people. Attend a traditional ceilidh dance, where lively music and energetic dancing showcase Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. Taste traditional Scottish cuisine, including haggis, neeps and tatties. These treats can be savored with a “dram” of Scotch whiskey a beverage deeply rooted in the nation’s identity.

Scotland’s pull lies not only in its breathtaking landscapes and historic castles but also in the warmth of its people. Don’t forget the resilience of its culture too. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Edinburgh, hiking the Highlands, or exploring Glasgow’s art scene, Scotland promises a lifetime experience. A journey that transcends time and leaves unforgettable memories of its beauty and tradition.

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Weekend in New York

 

Looking for a holiday getaway or a quick trip in January?  A weekend in New York City might fill the bill as long as you dress warm!

Flights

To maximize our budget think about flying into a smaller neighboring airport such as Newark in New Jersey.  Even Long Island Airport in Islip is doable with the train station so close.  Planning your flight midweek or even on a Thursday will help with airfare and might be less crowded.

But even these days, my flights this year have all been full. Be prepared to have extra time checking in at TSA or think about signing up for Pre-Check or Clear to make security lines less of a hassle. (Some credit cards will also reimburse you for these and other services, so check with your card company.)

Sights of NYC

Be sure to secure your hotel or VRBO near a subway or train line. NYC’s mass transit system is one of the best in the United States.  Being within walking distance of Times Square, Central Park, and museums are the best “home bases” for your trip.

Plan your visits along the subway line so you don’t miss out on winter activities in New York. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center and the NYC Rockettes usually have audiences through January.  Don’t forget the standards such as The Metropolitan Museum or Museum of Modern Art for your art and history lovers. Lines might be long at MoMA, so check the website for hours and special events. At night with the Christmas lights is also a site to see and enjoy this time of year.

Food

 Dining options are everywhere in New York. From fast food pizza to fine dining, you will have your pick for any budget. If you’re only in NYC for the weekend, maybe one or two “nice” dinners at an Italian eatery. Then the next day, think about grabbing breakfast (some are still free) at your hotel or café to people watch. Asking the locals (at your activities) is one of the best ways to get reliable local restaurant and eatery recommendations.

Remember to be flexible with your travel companion and plans in general. You might want to think about extending a work trip to enjoy the sights.  More people than ever are traveling and patience is needed to navigate trips these days.

Just enjoy the memories, photos, and last-minute trip flying off to New York.  Travel is the best way to experience new places, people, and cultures…so enjoy!

For more travel inspiration check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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New Holiday Traditions

Holidays are more than just dates on the calendar; they are an embodiment of culture, values, and cherished memories. As societies become increasingly diverse, the opportunity to integrate new holiday traditions into celebrations such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah arise. Embracing these traditions not only promotes inclusivity but also enhances the richness of these festive seasons. Here’s how to thoughtfully integrate new holiday customs into these celebrations.

Embrace the Spirit

Begin by embracing the spirit of curiosity and openness. Learn about the diverse cultures and traditions that are relevant to the holiday you are celebrating. Understand the historical significance, rituals, and values associated with each tradition. This knowledge lays the foundation for meaningful connections.

Blend Culinary Delights

One of the most enjoyable aspects of holidays is the food. Incorporate dishes and recipes from various cultures into your holiday feasts. Whether it’s adding a Kwanzaa-inspired dish to your Christmas dinner. Or you can include a Hanukkah specialty during Boxing Day. Culinary fusion can be a wonderful way to honor multiple traditions.

Share Stories

Holidays are an ideal time to share stories and teachings from different cultures. Incorporate storytelling sessions where each family member or guest shares a tale from their heritage or a tradition. This not only educates everyone about new customs but also fosters a sense of unity.

Meaningful Gifts

When exchanging gifts, consider selecting items that hold significance in the traditions you’re integrating. This could be a book about the principles of Kwanzaa, a symbolic ornament from Hanukkah, or a handmade decoration that represents a cherished Christmas custom.

Volunteer and Give Back

Many holiday traditions emphasize the importance of giving back to the community. Integrate this value by participating in volunteer activities. These should align with the principles of the holidays you’re celebrating. This not only integrates new customs but also embodies the true spirit of the festive season.

Encourage Dialogue

Create an open space for discussions about the new traditions you’re integrating. Encourage family members and friends to share their thoughts, feelings, and questions. This fosters a sense of inclusivity and promotes a learning environment.

Respect and Sensitivity

Above all, approach the integration of new holiday traditions with respect and sensitivity. Ensure that the customs you’re adopting are authentically represented and celebrated. Avoid cultural assumptions by engaging in thorough research and consultation with members of the respective cultures.

Finally, integrating new traditions into celebrations like Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah is a way to honor diversity and foster understanding. By embracing a spirit of exploration, culinary fusion, and respectful engagement, you can create festive season for everyone.

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Thanksgiving To Remember

As the holiday season approaches, I think of memories of past Thanksgivings. My family would spend time cooking and filling our home with laughter. Yet, this year, there is a subtle but undeniable shift in the air—a desire to change our Thanksgiving. Is it time to embrace new experiences?

When do you make those changes to your traditions? How do you create lasting memories that reflect your evolving values and priorities?

Coming Together

For me, Thanksgiving has always been about coming together with family and friends. We share a feast  (usually turkey and my cornbread stuffing) and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives.

These familiar customs have been an anchor, a comforting thread that connects us to generations past. However, as life unfolds and circumstances change, it becomes important to adapt and find new ways to celebrate and connect.

The decision to change our Thanksgiving traditions was not made lightly. It involved open and honest conversations with family, each expressing their expectations. We acknowledged that traditions should not be stagnant but should grow and evolve with us.

We collectively embraced the idea of including fresh elements that reflected our shared values. We want to enjoy the holiday and respect one another’s different ideas of togetherness that Thanksgiving represents.

Community Service

This year, we decided to organize a community service project as part of our Thanksgiving festivities. Instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen, we will dedicate time to serve others at a community home.

Our family’s aim is to extend our gratitude to the wider community and make a positive impact who need it. The joy of giving back will undoubtedly deepen our sense of gratitude and reinforce the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Core Traditions

While service is a new addition to our Thanksgiving, we remain committed to preserving the core holiday traditions. The gathering of loved ones around a table with traditional family recipes will always be at the heart of our celebration.

We will continue to savor the flavors that evoke childhood memories and ignite conversations about family history. Again, I’m referring to my Grandma’s stuffing recipe, that I make only once a year.

The idea of changing Thanksgiving traditions may initially stir mixed emotions.  As we bid farewell to familiar routines and ideas of what the holiday should, it’s time to discover something new.

However, the essence of Thanksgiving lies not in the specific rituals, but in the deep connections we have and the love we share. By embracing change, we open ourselves up to the possibility of discovering new traditions that resonate with our present selves. Will you be making any changes this year? A new host or maybe try a community project?

Ultimately, changing Thanksgiving traditions is an opportunity to deepen the bonds we share with our loved ones. Making sure to honor values and embrace the spirit of gratitude in new and meaningful ways for your current lifestyle. Here’s an invitation to create lasting memories that reflect who we are today.

As I embark on this journey of change, I am filled with excitement and a little anticipation. I know that our Thanksgiving celebration will continue to evolve and grow. Be sure whatever our plans, you foster a sense of belonging, love, and gratitude. This will remain with your family and friends long after the holiday season fades away.

For more self-care inspiration check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Halloween 2023

 

Halloween is just around the corner this year.  Planning the perfect costume that is safe, non-political, and easy to pull together can be a challenge in 2023. Fear not! Here are four suggestions that will spark your imagination and ensure a memorable Halloween experience for all.

Classic Movie Characters

Step into the magical world of cinema by dressing up as a beloved character from a classic movie. Whether you choose Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” Indiana Jones, or the iconic Charlie Chaplin, these costumes are timeless. With a little creativity and items from your own closet, you can recreate these characters easily.

Add some finishing touches with props like Dorothy’s ruby slippers or Indiana Jones’ fedora hat, you’re good to go! Get ready to transport yourself into movie land with these costumes

Mythical Creatures

Embrace the magic and mystique of legends by dressing up as a mythical creature. From fairies and unicorns to dragons and mermaids, the options are endless. Tap into your imagination and create a costume that brings these creatures to life. You can use colorful fabrics, sparkly accessories, and face paint to enhance the fantastical elements.

Let your creativity soar as you craft wings for a fairy or design scales for a mermaid. These enchanting costumes are sure to inspire wonder and awe, making them perfect for all ages.

Book Characters

Pay homage to the beloved characters from your favorite books by bringing them to life this Halloween. Whether it’s Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, or the mischievous Cat in the Hat. These literary icons offer a world of possibilities for creative costumes.

 

Browse your local thrift stores or search your own closet for clothing items that resemble the characters’ signature styles. Add some key accessories, such as Alice’s headband or Harry Potter’s round glasses, to complete the look. Not only will you celebrate your love for books, but you’ll inspire others to dive into the world of reading.

Taylor and Travis

Yes, I went there! Why not mix the best of both worlds and go as two of our most popular icons in 2023? Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift “look a likes” would make a perfect Halloween couple’s costume.  Football and pop music blend seamlessly and talk about easy costumes to gather.

A Kansas City football jersey and some “Swiftie” swag and you are both set for Halloween!  You could also add those personal touches of hair color, beard, microphone, and #13 for effect.  Have fun this year with our most watched couple of the fall season.

Choosing a safe, non-political, and easy-to-pull-together Halloween costume may seem like a challenge. But, these suggestions provide a perfect starting point. Whether you opt for a classic movie character, pop icons, or a beloved book character, the key is creativity people!

Remember, safety should always come first.  Also make sure your costume is comfortable, allows for easy movement, and doesn’t block your vision. And don’t forget to add your own personal flair and unique touches to make the costume truly yours.

As Halloween approaches, let your imagination run wild and create a costume that brings joy to those around you. Whether you’re trick-or-treating, attending a party, or simply celebrating at home, these ideas will help you shine.

Keeping the focus on the fun and festive spirit of Halloween is the main point.  So, unleash your inner creative spirit, gather your materials, and get ready for a Halloween filled with magic this year!

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Beach Reads 2023

As summer ramps up and vacation calls, it’s the perfect time to read a good book while lounging beachside. As a librarian, here a few “beach read” recommendations sure to please any reader.  Each title promises to transport you to different worlds and capture the heart of this summer season.

Strong Women

Dive into a story of love, self-discovery, and sandy shores with “The Summer of Lost and Found” by Mary Alice Monroe. The story is set in the enchanting coastal town of fictional Sullivan’s Island. This novel brings together the lives of three generations of women as they navigate their personal journeys.

With vivid descriptions of the beach and an exploration of family dynamics, this book is a perfect beach read. For those seeking an emotional and touching summer read about family, chose this story. 

Thriller

If you’re craving a suspenseful thriller, “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn is sure to keep you riveted. Set in the bustling city of New York during a hot summer, this psychological thriller follows an agoraphobic woman. (She’s deathly afraid of going outside of her home.)

She believes she witnesses a disturbing event in her neighbor’s house. As secrets unravel and tensions rise, the story will keep you on the edge of your seat, turning the pages.

Hollywood Glitz

If you want a blend of romance, history, and exotic settings, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is for you.  By Taylor Jenkins Reid (author of Daisy Jones & the Six) this book is a must-read! A captivating novel taking readers on a journey through the glamorous and wild life of Evelyn Hugo a fictional movie star. With its rich character development and fascinating narrative, this book brings you into the world of Hollywood and forbidden love.

Self-Discovery

If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted and delightful summer read, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman is an excellent choice. Meet Eleanor, a socially awkward woman with a strictly structured life. Join her on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and unexpected connections.

This uplifting novel explores themes of loneliness, friendship, and the transformative power of compassion. This book makes a perfect companion for lazy days by the seaside.

No matter which book you choose for your summer adventures, find one that speaks to you. A book’s well-crafted story has the power to transport you to far-off places, stir your emotions, and leave lasting impressions.

So, grab your beach towel, slather on some sunscreen, and lose yourself in the pages of an enthralling summer read. Whether it’s a tale of romance, mystery, or self-discovery, these book recommendations are sure to boost your beachside bliss. Make your summer even more memorable and check out a book today from your local library!

Check out more summer reads from: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Travel Abroad

What brings you joy? What gets you up in the morning every day even when times are tough? Travel brings me joy, and here’s why it fills me with happiness every time, every trip.

New Experiences

As we get older you experience the highs and lows of life. As a wise soul once said, you can’t see the light without experiencing the darkness. You also find that one (or two) joys in life will fill you up, bring you light.  New experiences that bring me happiness, contentment, and joy involve traveling.

I don’t have to travel far.  Learning about historic waterfalls in my neighborhood was a fun and enjoyable bike ride. I just love learning and planning out my new experiences, which a good part of that involves seeing new places.

Solo travel

Recently, I’ve started enjoying my travels solo. Discovering new destinations on my own, has given me the freedom to see more and do more. I won’t let the lack of a travel partner hold me back. I plan the trip on my own, and have the flexibility to enjoy the location I want to see.

I’ve become a better navigator and risk taker, with solo travel too. Traveling gives me confidence to do even more in life. And now, I’m planning much longer trips in the future for summer and fall.

Photography

Traveling bring me joy afterwards with the photos and memories I bring home. I’ve become a better photographer through practice and a lot of trial and error. Enjoying the images from my trips, allows me to relive those joyful experiences.

Traveling feeds my photography hobby as well as and providing me great pleasure in discovering my next shot. Capturing landscapes during different seasons and my own flower garden photos to share, gives me another creative outlet.

Self-Reliance

Finally, planning and taking a trip on my own builds my self-reliance to do more and take more risks.  If you’re not growing, you’re not living. And I want to continue to grow, experience new countries and cultures and build new memories.

What will you be planning today?

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Fathers Day

Father’s Day is a special day celebrated worldwide to honor fathers and father figures. It’s a day to appreciate the contribution and sacrifices that fathers make in their children’s lives. Let’s delve into the history of Father’s Day and explore some gift ideas that you can consider for this special Sunday.

History of Father’s Day

The History of Father’s Day Father’s Day originated in the United States and was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. It was started by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was inspired to create a special day to honor fathers.

After hearing a Mother’s Day sermon at church, the rest is history. Dodd’s father was a single parent who raised six children on his own. She felt that fathers deserved the same recognition as mothers and slowly it took hold.

The idea of Father’s Day slowly gained popularity in the early 20th Century. Finally, in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. However, it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a permanent national holiday. (The late 70’s until Dads got their official holiday!)

Gift Ideas for Dad

Finding the perfect gift for Father’s Day can be challenging, but there are many options to consider. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Personalized Gifts – Consider getting your father a personalized gift, such as a mug, photo frame, or keychain with his name or initials on it.
  • Tech Gadgets – If your father is tech-savvy, consider getting him a new gadget, such as a smartwatch, wireless earbuds, or a fitness tracker.
  • Outdoor Gear – If your father loves the great outdoors, consider getting him camping or hiking gear, such as a new tent, sleeping bag, or hiking boots.
  • Books or Movies – If your father enjoys reading or watching movies, consider getting him a new book or movie that he’s been wanting to read or watch.
  • Food or Drinks – Consider getting your father a special treat, such as a food basket or a bottle of his favorite wine or whiskey. Or make a special homemade dinner for your dad complete with a heartfelt card.

Father’s Day is a special day to appreciate and honor fathers and father figures. The history of the holiday dates back to over a century ago and has gained popularity worldwide.

While finding the perfect gift can be challenging, there are many options to consider. Whatever gift you choose, remember to show your father how much you appreciate him and the role he plays in your life.  A very Happy Father’s Day to my dad and husband this year!

KathyHusserTempe.com

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Last Minute Gifts

Do you feel like gift giving and the holidays have taken on a whole new life of their own recently?  During October, I saw many Christmas displays full of gifts and decorations, but Halloween hadn’t even been celebrated! Here are three ways to make your holiday gifts more meaningful this year without buying stuff.

Give Experiences

Enjoying an experience with a dear friend, colleague, or your family is my first choice when thinking of gift giving. Something as simple as driving to a friend’s home and enjoying lunch together. Having a heartfelt conversation with your parents or a trusted colleague, seems so simple, but how often does it happen?

Science has proven that personal connections with those we love and care about provides us health benefits. Friendships and positive relationships enrich our lives on many levels, so take advantage of the holidays to show you care.

Give Your Time

I’ve written about volunteering before and can’t stress enough what you receive when you volunteer. Donating time to your community is a service that keeps giving throughout the year.  I’ve donated my time to local art organizations and events. Having a common goal with these groups connects you to your community.

I’ve donated to animal rescues in my father’s name, since we both love helping animals find their forever homes. Dad still talks about it being the best gift ever! Give your time to assist with a shelter’s website, an adoption event, or fundraise for larger projects and supplies.  The sky’s the limit, and you feel so good after volunteering!

No Gifts Rule

The final option is something I use with my husband and very close friends, and that is “no gifts please.” We just don’t exchange gifts, period. The “no gift rule” is something I’ve used during many anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmases. No gifts, just re-enforces the other two options highlighted earlier.

I love to give my time to these very special people and nonprofit agencies. These are “my tribe,” who have given me so much over the years. My gifts are the memories of a special meal together or reminiscing during a walk around the park. Time together to make new memories is our gift to one another.

You should try something new this year. You might be surprised how the pressure to the find the “perfect gift” has been lifted for both of you. If you bring up one of these gift ideas, you might spark a new tradition this holiday season.

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career Health

Holiday Season

During the holiday season, I wonder why I sometimes feel a little blue or sad during this time of year? I’ve come to understand why the holidays bring many different emotions and how to help myself feel better. Read on for tips if you are feeling a bit melancholy this holiday season.

Change is Hard

Change is hard for some, especially if your mind is processing a change as “negative” rather than more growth oriented.  For some, their parents are aging, and daily life is more difficult. Science has proven seniors tend to get depressed, especially during the holidays.   Being alone, memories of “what was,” and realizing past choices have affected their wellbeing play a part in mental health.

You need to continue to be active mentally as well as physically. Remaining fit with puzzles or games to keep your mental agility in tip top shape. Even a daily walk for 30 minutes has proven to keep your flexibility and mobility in best form. I am learning these two important lessons from my parents. Understanding what needs to be done now, for the future is a healthy start.

Traditions Equal Memories

The holidays are a time for family traditions, and some are not the same as time marches on. As your children grow up and have families of their own, new traditions also bring up memories of times past.

Making new traditions now with your family is the best way to feel happier and accept the new memories. Again, this might take a few years to work out your feelings of acceptance. Give yourself time and grace to make new memories and try out new holiday traditions that work for your family.

Patience

Lastly, we need to be patient and accept things will never be the same. The pandemic has changed many holiday activities we enjoyed in years past. My parents and kids are older, so priorities have also changed.

Having patience to accept that we have our health and our love to keep us strong into 2023 keeps me grounded in a positive mindset. Remembering these should help make you happier and more accepting of changes.

If I need a reminder, I’ll re-read this article and reflect on my blessings. Happy Holidays, and hope you enjoy new traditions and memories this year!

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