Wordless Wednesday August 25, 2010

Since we’re in Toronto this week shooting the 8-Metre World Cup, I thought these would be fun. Check out the whole gallery on Sail22.com to see more of these gorgeous boats in action.

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DSC_0004We are in Toronto, Canada this week for the 8 Metre World Cup. Absolutely gorgeous boats and we’re enjoying being here to photograph them. If you’re bored and want some photos of pretty boats to check out, head over to Sail22.com and the galleries. These classic boats are amazing and even the modern ones are stunning!


Wordless Wednesday August 18, 2010

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AlwaysHappyLife.com is excited to have Liza Sussman as a guest author this week! Liza is a 4th and 5th grade inclusion teacher in New York City and I’ve known her since we were in high school. When I saw her photos from her recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, I asked her to share more on her trip. So here it is, a top ten list of their adventure!

My husband, Josh, and I left for Vancouver on July 30th, without a major plan in mind, which was a little different for him, but refreshing for me. We had our hotels booked, and a few ideas, but we only really knew that we were going to have to get on the train to Seattle by Tuesday, August 3rd at 5:45 and that we had Mariners tickets for Thursday night and needed to be at Port Angeles by Friday night. After that it was open.

What resulted was a great adventure, filled with our own ideas, based on what we read in brochures and guide books as well as recommendations from friends back home, locals and other tourists. I figured I’d share our adventure with a top 10 list of our favorite parts of our trip, hoping that someday others will get to head out to these fantastic parts of our own continent, and take some of our advice, as well as have their own adventures.

10. Seattle Space Needle
We were fortunate to find ourselves in Seattle on one of the rare, clear days. Great place to stop first before beginning our self-guided tour with map in hand.

P10105259. Grouse Mountain, BC

British Columbia is known for it’s skiing (which I’m not good at anyway). But the mountains are available to visitors year round and Grouse Mountain was a great place to picture ourselves skiing without having to wear all the gear J The mountain also hosts some animal sanctuary areas, which is where the bear picture from August 11, 2010 Wordless Wednesday came from.

Picture yourself gliding down the mountain in the green areas between the trees…

P10102658. Pike’s Market, Seattle WA

This was only a brief stop on our tour of Seattle, but it certainly yielded the prettiest pictures…Pike’s Market is filled with gifts and beautiful locally grown and fished food and flowers.

I took hundreds of photos of the foods and flowers here!

7. Seattle Underground Tour

Tour of early Seattle from beneath the modern city!

6. Biking around Vancouver

We rented bikes the first morning we were there at a local place called English Bay Bike Rentals (that wasn’t the HUGE bike rental place that everyone told us to go to, but bikes were comprable and the cost was the same). We started out exploring Stanley Park and ended up riding completely around the entire downton Vancouver Area. This was a great adventure!

The view of downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park is fantastic. The entire ride around the park is very scenic and most riders can make it around in a little less than hour depending on traffic from other bikes and the number of pictures they want to take.

5. Granville Island
This was part of our bike ride in Vancouver, actually the next stop. Josh and I, still on bikes, went to Granville Island, an artist village and tourist shop area where we came across a sign that said we could play at the glass shop and make our own flower (for a small fee of course). So we did! This is me experimenting with glassmaking. We were able to make the flower that day after just a short wait, and pick it up a few days later.

We also spent time in the village making plans to go whale watching the next day and had a lovely lunch by the water. We will be going to glass making class again (but probably in Brooklyn). We finished the ride by heading to the Olympic Village from the Winter 2010 games and went to see the Olympic Torch.

4. Whitewater Rafting / Bridal Veil Falls / Harrison Hotsprings, British Columbia

Ok, I’m cheating a little lumping these together…but we went whitewater rafting on the Chilliwack River, then decided we wanted to go on a quick hike, so we found the nearest hike we could complete fast by looking at the local hiking map and found Bridal Veil Falls, just off the highway. Then, as we took back roads back towards Vancouver, we saw signs for “hot springs”…so we went! The results were a magnificent adventure!

Josh is in the front on the left and I am directly behind him.

After cleaning up from rafting, we hopped into the car and after a short ride and a shorter hike, we found the falls. It is a little hard to see but Josh has his “Always Happy Life” t-shirt on. (I was a little chilly so mine is under the hoodie).

We then got back in the car and ended up at Harrison Hot Springs:

We didn’t actually go in the springs…but the town is very cute, and the lake looks like this! Amazing water surrounded by breathtaking mountains.

3. Amtrak Cascades Line from Vancouver to Seattle

Just get on the train, and you get to see this:

2. Hoh Rain Forest, Washington

One of the only temperate rain forests in the US. The wettest place in the United States…and we were there during the dry season! We felt really lucky to visit it and take a tour with a ranger which gave us a LOT of information about Temperate rain forests that we never knew before.

1. Hurricane Ridge, Washington

Overlook of the Olympic Mountain Range. The drive and the hike created one of the most incredible places to see that we have ever visited.


Toronto has always been one of my favorite cities to visit. It’s just big enough to have everything and it’s small enough to be easy to navigate. And I’m of the map/directionally-challenged sort…it’s genetic, I swear. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl to visit museums (the Royal Ontario Museum is one of my all time favorites), art galleries, concerts (the Canadians know where it’s at with music), theater and for regattas. It’s just a great city overall, so I was excited to be here this week as a bit of a tourist while Ed sailed in the Etchells Canadian Championship. I needed to catch up on some things from the past few weeks with Sail22 (we’ve been busy…go check out our blog!), but I also wanted to spend some time playing.

DSC_0032We stayed at the Delta Chelsea hotel, which is pretty centrally located and perfect for wandering around. I’d work on photos in the morning and then head out for walks to different locales. The first day, I wandered up Yonge Street and then to Bloor Street, which is Toronto’s shopping mecca (ie. NYC’s 5th Avenue). I window shopped (they are pretty expensive windows) and I people watched. The store with the pretty blue boxes, white ribbons and bright shiny objects called out to me and I wandered in. Oh, how I adore that place…I hadn’t been there in awhile and yep, I still like it. I actually think I just like the boxes and bags though…but I also like what comes inside of them. The store is magnetic, I just couldn’t help being drawn inside. I made it out, wallet intact (personally I like to give and receive gifts from there, but I’ve never purchased anything for myself) and will settle for the catalog. 😉

I continued to wander over the next few days (through the University, along Queen, King, Bay and the Esplanade) and definitely was surprised to see the amount of Starbucks that have ousted the Canadian favorite of Tim Horton’s. It wasn’t that way a few years ago. I think the ratio was about four to one, which is fine with me since I love my Starbucks chai teas, hot or cold…depending on my mood and the temperature. I definitely checked out a few of them and give my seal of approval.

Toronto has some great architecture and it’s just a beautiful city in general. Historic and well cared for. I do find it a little sad that things aren’t has bustling as they used to be with the theaters, but it looks like they are on the upswing, with some of the major theaters being renovated currently and some big broadway shows also starting up again.

The restaurants are fabulous too. I’m grateful Marché is back to it’s original owners and can’t wait to try it out. It just wasn’t the same when I was there last fall and it was under new management. It’s always been one of my favorite places and I was disappointed. For those familiar with Wegmans, it’s like an enormous Market Café where individual chefs cook what you want in front of you. I think I’ll be persuading Ed that we need to go there for dinner sooner than later (next week to be exact).

DSC_0037We did dine at Barberian’s which is a classic old steakhouse. Lewnes’ in Annapolis still wins as my favorite classic steakhouse though. If you’re ever visiting Annapolis, it’s well worth every penny.

DSC_0023I also visited the St. Lawrence Market and loved it. It reminded me of a huge version of the Amish Market in Annapolis…but better.

Fresh produce, seafood, bread, cheese, foods, flowers, people, different languages. Amazing. Only thing I couldn’t find there were whoopie pies, so I think the Amish Market has a leg up on them. If you don’t know what they are…just Google the recipe and think ginormous cake like Oreo cookie with whipped cream filling. Nothing really compares.

I’m definitely looking forward to being back in Toronto again next week for the 8 Metre Worlds. The boats are classics and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club does a phenomenal job hosting events. I’ll definitely be sharing some of the history and photos!

We’re off to Newport, Rhode Island for a quick trip now. Another great town…we owe it a blog for sure. Luckily, we’ll be back there again in September and October, so we should have time to make it a good one!


Wordless Wednesday August 11, 2010

Traveling currently and finally I am able to post it!

Bear-LizaBear Photo credit: Liza Sussman (She’s writing a guest blog about her trip to Vancouver & Seattle for us for next week! Can’t wait…her photos were awesome!)

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P8090002We have had Ed’s oldest nephews with us since last evening. The boys have been great. Last night they put themselves to bed…and this morning they slept until after 9am. Gotta love that they were worn out from a long weekend of fun at the lake.

After we sent Noisy in to wake them up this morning and we had breakfast, we headed out to Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. The boys could NOT wait to jump out of the truck and head up the biggest dune they could see. The biggest boy in the group, aka Ed, was leading the way of course!

P8090003We climbed around in the dunes, jumped down, ran up another, over and over until they were too hot to do it any more.

Luckily Lake Michigan beckoned to us from the top of the dunes and was very cold cool and refreshing (once you found the warm spots). We splashed around for awhile and then hung out on the shore for some sand castle building and sand burying. The boys thought it was pretty cool to bury themselves and Ed and I relaxed and watched.

After awhile, we convinced the boys to head down and explore the creek. This seemed like a great idea until we got into the shade and the mosquitos began to attack.

We quickly ran back to the sun and the beach for some more swimming, splashing and fun. Who would have thought a swim marker and three boys could be so much fun. They had a blast trying to balance on it and I think we may just have a few Christmas card worthy photos. 😉

We convinced the boys that we needed ice cream and stopped at a pretty cool place in New Buffalo, called Oink. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Didn’t hear any complaints from them at all. Dessert before dinner and then of course a movie and popcorn before bed.


DSC_0272Last night we hosted Ladies Wine Time at the Farm. We had quite a crowd! Thirty-five to forty women, wine and appetizers for an hour and a half. Ed was entertainment director and tour guide (and I secretly think he was just making sure the house was still standing). It’s such a fun (and easy…ssh…don’t tell!) event to host and a great concept.

We also do a Couple’s Wine Time once a month. I personally think there should be more Wine Times in different places, so here’s how it works. I highly recommend getting it started with your friends and then let it grow as people invite more friends to join.

  • Each person brings their own wine glass. Our Wine Times now only allow plastic wine glasses…there have been a few incidents. 😉
  • Each person brings either an appetizer or a bottle of wine to the party. There is always plenty of food and plenty of wine!
  • The location changes for each Wine Time and people sign up to host it so there is a schedule months in advance. The host is responsible for opening up their house to everyone, providing some plates and napkins and usually some back up glasses for people who forget.
  • During the summer months, Ladies Wine Time is every Wednesday night from 6-7:30pm. Couples Wine Time is year-round on the first Friday of the month at the same time. Usually, people head out for dinner afterwards.
  • Ladies Wine Time is for a good cause. (Sounds better that way, doesn’t it?!?) Every person pays $10 the first time they come and the grand total is donated to a charitable cause.


Horses, ice cream, fudge and beautiful views sum up Mackinac Island. And…they now have a Starbucks too…whohoo! Every year in the sailing community there are two races to Mackinac Island, one from Chicago, Illinois and one from Port Huron, Michigan. This year, as part of Sail22, I had the pleasure to work with a team coordinating shore support (there were over 20 people on the team!!!) and Ed also raced the Chicago to Mackinac race. I didn’t have much time to play with my camera there, but I tried to capture as much as I could when I had it in hand.

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DSC_0079I saw the Mackinac Bridge by land and by water. It’s definitely a welcome sight for the sailors as they approach the island and from there you pray that the breeze continues to the finish line!

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I took a ferry over…there are fast and slow ones, but even the slow ones only take about 30 minutes tops to get there.

The light house is very quaint and is part of the finish line for the Chicago Mackinac race. I’m sure it’s a very welcome site to see after 333 nautical miles of racing.

The island has no cars…so there are horses and buggies everywhere. Definitely a slower way of life. Bikes and walking are also big on the island. We wanted to take a carriage tour, but the line was ridiculously long…so it’s still on our to-do list for future visits.

DSC_0075We stayed at the Chippewa Hotel. It’s right on main street and the Pink Pony Bar & Grill is downstairs in it. That is the place everyone goes when they are done racing and it’s packed both morning and night. Julie & Nadine and the rest of the staff are wonderful and will take great care of you!

While waiting for the team to arrive, we had a little time to kill, so we headed up to The Woods, a very cool little restaurant in the middle of, you guessed it…the woods.

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They have the oldest bowling alley in Michigan. Duck pin bowling to be exact and you have to reset your own pins. Only one lane too. I’m guessing the alley has a lot of history to tell.

This moose and his friends probably do too!

The island is a wealth of old architecture. Two of my favorite places are this little stone church and The Grand Hotel. I just love the porch at The Grand and it has one of the most amazing views on the island. Very classic.

DSC_0058As the boats finished, Mackinac Island definitely takes on a different flare, as any place does when it is invaded by sailors.

The regatta party was hosted at The Grand Hotel on the lawn. Mt. Gay rum was a major sponsor for the Chicago Mackinac race. Veuve was as well and they made their presence very well known throughout the island. Two of my favorites for sure!

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We had a great time catching up with some of our friends who we don’t get to see all of the time. It was great to see Jessica & Justin Hood and congratulate them in person on their recent wedding! Ed and Justin have been friends for many years and we couldn’t be happier for him and Jess!

Did I mention the water in the Upper Peninsula area is as blue-green-aqua as the Caribbean? It’s gorgeous.

DSC_0014If you missed last week’s Wordless Wednesday photos…make sure you check them out. More Mackinac Island beauty!


Wordless Wednesday July 28, 2010

A little preview of the beauty of Mackinac Island, Michigan. More to come later in a blog!

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