All Shook Up Musical

A late post tonight, after a fun evening at the Pittsburg, Kansas Memorial Auditorium where my grandson Jonathan performed in the musical All Shook Up. What a superb way to end the day.

Jonathan joined 39 other 6th – 10th graders recently at Just Off Broadway drama camp, where they worked for two weeks on this production. All Shook Up features the songs of Elvis Presley. The musical was directed by Greg Shaw, with vocal direction by Karrie Fenech and choreography by Will Jewett.

The year is 1955 and hip swiveling, guitar toting Chad (Levi Ben) roars into town on his motorcycle. This free spirited young man is determined to spread joy and music throughout every community he visits.

While in town, he draws the affections of Natalie (McKenna Shaw), the mechanic, and makes the local geek, Dennis (Stuart O’Brien), his sidekick. Chad falls in love, not with Natalie but with the museum curator, Sandra (Mesa Jones), who in turns falls for another stranger in town, Ed (played by Shaw as well). Among these star crossed lovers Dean (Colin O’Brien) and Lorraine (Addy Campbell) find forbidden love against the wishes of Dean’s controlling mother, and mayor of the city, Matilda (Ainsley Balthazor).

There are lessons to be learned and loves to be sorted out, amid singing and rocking out to classic songs such Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak, and Jailhouse Rock.

This was such a fun musical! Jonathan was part of the ensemble cast, costumed smartly in a suit, singing and dancing his way through the night. I was so proud of him. He is a natural on the stage, and fearless in front of an audience.

The whole cast was quite impressive. These middle school through high school performers had powerful voices and great dance moves, and delivered their lines with wit and confidence. I love watching a play or musical where the actors and singers are so obviously enjoying themselves, and such was the case tonight.

I laughed and applauded and cheered and at the end, stood up in appreciation for a fine performance by a talented group of kids. There is a matinee tomorrow at 2:00, at the Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door. It’s money well spent. Check out All Shook Up. You will be glad you did, and leave with a smile on your face.

Bee Balm Tea with Kale Boats

I was grateful today for left over chopped and sliced veggies in the fridge. My afternoon tea was very late in the day and with those veggies already prepped, creating tea time food was a cinch. In a few minutes, I had two large kale leaves trimmed and ready for filling.

As I was driving home this afternoon, I was considering what I might prepare today and those last two kale leaves came to mind. With the leftover veggies and dipping sauce from yesterday, the kale would become the foundation of my treat today. And I don’t like to waste food. My idea would bring together all those bits and pieces stashed in the fridge and create a colorful, health boosting meal.

Here is my easy recipe:

Kale Boats

Trim, wash and blot dry two kale leaves. In a small bowl, combine chopped veggies of choice. I used tomato, avocado, mushrooms, green pepper, carrots and jalapeño. Spoon filling down the center of each leaf. Top with healthy dressing, if desired. I used my dipping sauce from yesterday. Sprinkle on chopped walnuts.

My tea this afternoon was a first for me…bee balm. Although this prolific herb is growing in my garden, I had not tried it yet as a tea. Bee balm is in the thyme family. This aromatic plant is antiseptic and diuretic, eases digestive disorders, and soothes symptoms of cold and flu. I was looking forward to sipping on it tonight.

By the time the tea was finished steeping, my food was ready. Chunks of cold watermelon completed the meal. I carried my afternoon tea into my bedroom, where the laptop was open upon the bed. I paused in my tasks of looking up properties and answering emails, to savor my tea time.

And savor it I did. I picked up the kale boats and folded them like soft tacos. They were a bit messy to eat, but so delicious and extremely filling. These late afternoon teas this week have in truth become my early dinners. The crunchy, sweet watermelon was good too. And bee balm tea, I discovered, tastes much like thyme tea. I am sipping on a second cup.

I have so appreciated these times of refreshment during a busy week in real estate. I understand why the practice of afternoon tea became popular and has become a tradition. I think after a week of afternoon teas, combined with light flavorful, healthy foods, this will once again become a treasured time of day for me.

Lemon Balm Tea with Cucumber Rolls

I had no idea, when I decided to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, that this particular week would be so full. What a blessing to look forward to tea time late in the afternoon, after long days of showing property or taking care of other real estate business. It was no mistake that inspiration nudged me toward this fun celebration. I’ve had the opportunity to have creative fun and savor downtime while I sip hot herbal tea and enjoy a healthy treat.

It hasn’t been a coincidence either that interesting recipes and fresh ideas have found their way to me as well this week. Today I prepared a simple and scrumptious treat from a recipe by Anthony William.

Cucumber Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Peel one cucumber (one cucumber = one serving) and slice lengthwise into long thin strips. Add slices of veggies or fruits of choice. (Suggestions: avocado, tomato, melon, peppers, celery, carrots, mangoes…any fruit/veggie desired.) Tightly roll up cucumber slice with veggies/fruits inside. Secure with a toothpick and set aside.

Dressing

Combine in blender and blend until smooth: 1/4 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons raw, hulled hemp seed (available in baking section at Walmart or health food store), 1 cup zucchini, peeled and diced, 1/2 inch piece jalapeño, without seeds, 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, 2 dates, 1 garlic clove.

I made the dipping sauce and refrigerated it in a small glass bowl while I made the cucumber rolls. I don’t own a wide vegetable slicer so I just peeled the cucumber and cut it into thin strips with a knife. For my rolls, I included slices of avocado, carrots, tomatoes, and green peppers. I secured each roll with a toothpick and placed the finished rolls in the refrigerator while the lemon balm tea steeped. When I arranged the rolls on my plate, I removed the toothpicks and placed them seam side down. They stayed rolled up.

Today’s herbal tea is a favorite of mine. Lemon balm is very easy to grow. In fact, I have to be vigilant or it will take over my garden and my yard! I love its lemony scent and crisp taste, plus lemon balm is so good for me.

What bliss to relax with a steaming cup of lemon balm tea and let the busyness of the day ebb away.

The cucumber rolls were easy to prepare and not only delicious but fun to eat. And that dipping sauce was wonderful…slightly spicy and full of flavor! I’ll be making it again for use as a dip with veggies and to top salads. I sliced up a sweet juicy pear to complete my light meal.

I had ahas and deep thoughts during tea time today, about the flow of life and the manifestation of desires and the playfulness of this beautiful dance I am engaged in with the Divine. I’ll save them to share at the conclusion of Afternoon Tea Week.

Tomorrow is another early start to a full day. Although it is barely dark outside, my bed is calling to me. I think I will answer that call.

Mint Tea with Stuffed Mushrooms & Melon

Day three during Afternoon Tea Week, and to celebrate I prepared a wonderfully satisfying treat today. I had the brilliant idea of making stuffed mushrooms for this afternoon’s tea. As I moved through my day, I couldn’t wait to play in the kitchen and see how my idea turned out.

For the mushroom filling, I adapted a brown rice and lentil recipe for the pressure cooker. Here is the recipe for my simple and healthy treat:

Stuffed Mushrooms

Prepare filling:

Rinse mushrooms and pat dry. Remove stem by cutting around edge of mushroom on the underside, leaving the cap. Place mushrooms in a small bowl, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Place mushroom caps hollow side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Fill each mushroom cap with brown rice and lentil filling, mounding slightly. Cook in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

As the stuffed mushrooms baked, I snipped sprigs of mint from my garden. While the mint tea steeped, I prepared the rest of my afternoon treat.

During the summer months I enjoy the juicy goodness of watermelon and cantaloupe. Chunks of chilled melon with sprigs of mint seemed like the perfect accompaniment to the mushrooms.

The mushrooms were perfect, tasty without being too heavy. This afternoon tea made a great early dinner when paired with the melon. And the mint tea was an excellent pick me up. And as with the other teas this week, everything was plant based, healthy and nutritious.

Greg walked into the kitchen as I was finishing my preparations. “You are having fun, aren’t you?” he asked. The answer is, I am. Being creative in the kitchen is great fun for me. And finding new ways to enjoy afternoon tea has been extremely rewarding, along with being fun.

Henry James wrote, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

I wholeheartedly agree!

Thyme Tea with Baked Pears

I am enjoying this week long celebration already. It has reinstated a custom I love, having afternoon tea. Creating a plant based tea time, rather than one featuring sweets and sandwiches, engages my imagination and allows me to try out healthy recipes. And taking time out late in the afternoon, to prepare my herbal tea and nutritious snack, and then sit and savor it, is a wonderful self care practice.

My goals are simple: During this Afternoon Tea Week, enjoy a different herbal tea and healthy treat every day. And have fun.

Today I chose thyme for my cup of hot tea, picking a sprig out of the garden. For my treat, I prepared a recipe from Life Changing Foods, by Anthony William. This simple, wholesome treat is easy to make, using only four ingredients.

Cinnamon Baked Pears with Toasted Walnuts

4 pears, any variety

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pears in half length wise and remove seeds. Arrange pear halves face up on baking tray. (I lined with parchment paper). Drizzle each pear half with maple syrup, brushing over the face of the pear, and leaving some inside the center. Divide the walnuts evenly into the centers of the pears and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 20-30 minutes until pears are tender and cooked through. Serve warm from the oven.

With blustery clouds filling the sky, I moved tea time indoors, setting up the cup and saucer and the food plate on one of my vintage metal tray. What bliss, to quiet my body and my mind and sip healing tea.

I added slivers of celery. The crunchy, salty tasting celery complemented the pears beautifully. And those pears? Delicious! They smelled wonderful as they baked and tasted as good as they smelled.

Tomorrow I am trying something new, involving rosemary flavored brown rice, lentils and mushrooms. Conventional tea time fare? Not hardly. Comforting, creative, healthy and delicious? Absolutely!

I am loving my unconventional afternoon teas.

Afternoon Tea Week

I came across this unique celebration while looking for something else on Google. I checked it out to make sure I had the days correct. This week long event began today and concludes Sunday.

I was intrigued. This custom that originated in England, afternoon tea, is one that I enjoyed on my first trip to Scotland in 2014. I adopted the tradition when I returned home. However, with my switch to a plant based lifestyle, I have only occasionally enjoyed an afternoon tea time in the past year.

The typical afternoon tea features a cup of hot brewed tea of choice, and finger sandwiches, sweet treats, scones with strawberry jam and a shortbread cookie. While I have easily substituted herbal teas for black tea, the traditional foods are on my no list. When I do have an afternoon tea, I include fruit and dates rather than sandwiches and sweets.

I do enjoy the custom. Finding the celebration the way I did, on the day it began, felt like an invitation to create my own version of afternoon tea. Earlier in the day, I had even been thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a plant based cafe in town, that offered afternoon tea. And then I discovered it's tea week. I accepted that inspirational invitation.

I had an idea about what I could prepare today. It was already late afternoon when this opportunity arrived. My afternoon tea served as an early dinner. I brewed a cup of pineapple sage tea, plucking the herb from my garden. The aromatic tea paired well with my healthy food choices.

Using fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and purple basil from my gardens, I made bite sized "sandwiches", minus the bread and cream cheese. They were so good! I didn't miss the bread or cheese at all. A cluster of red grapes, a sliced pear and three dates completed my afternoon tea.

I carried my plate out into the garden, which is my favorite place to savor a cup of tea. I enjoyed the food and felt good about the nutritional and health benefits. I proved to myself that traditions can be honored and practiced, and changed. This was a perfect afternoon tea for me.

I'm excited to celebrate a week of afternoon teas. Because playing is so important to me, I've challenged myself to create a different tea experience each day. I have many herbs growing in my garden, so a different tea each afternoon will be easy.

I'm looking forward to seeing what I can come up with, food wise, each day. It must be plant based and healthy. I am smiling at the thought of enjoying this beloved custom again. And just in time. When I travel to Scotland and England in a couple of weeks, I hope to find ways to have healthy afternoon teas there. I love how life and inspiration flows, meeting me where I am.

Tea, anyone?

The Continuing Adventures of Dayan

My grandson Dayan leaves tomorrow, headed to his new home for the next few years, a dorm room at the University of Missouri in Columbia. A few of us gathered for an impromptu dinner, to send him off with smiles and gratitude and promises to visit.

It is a big step, for him and his family. My children all attended local universities. Dayan is the first to venture farther out, which is so typical of this world minded young man. He thinks big. He lives big. I am so incredibly proud of him.

Dayan and I have had a strong connection since before he was born. When my daughter was pregnant with him, I had a dream in which an angel appeared, carrying a baby boy. He stretched his arms out toward me. The angel placed the dark haired, dark eyed child in my arms and we studied each other's faces. I knew this was my grandson. My heart overflowed with love for him.

Dayan began calling me Yaya when he was 8 months old. I discovered that Yaya is the Greek word for grandmother. How did this baby boy know that? I'm not sure. I only know he has an old soul, and he was a wise baby, meaning he seemed to know things beyond his years.

We have shared many adventures, this boy and I. We used to invent stories when we were together. We called them The Continuing Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. As he grew older we stopped telling made up stories and lived the adventures instead.


A little foreshadowing, from 10 years ago.

I have learned so much from my oldest grandchild. He taught me by his example to see the good in people, that kindness is always appreciated, and living as the person you are created to be requires courage. He has been my gardening buddy, introduced me to Doctor Who, taught me about the countries of the world, expanded my knowledge and my beliefs.

I have spent one afternoon a week with my grandson, picking him up from school or hanging out with him during the summer, since he was in third grade. We've played games, built virtual kingdoms, explored Joplin and beyond, and these last few years, sat comfortably together on the sofa, watching TV shows such as Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Okkupert (a Norwegian series with English subtitles) and most recently, Once Upon a Time. We've laughed, and sniffled together, and had amazing conversations about every topic imaginable. I always bring him Chinese food.

My heart was very full as I hugged him goodbye tonight. Dayan, these words I send with you as you embark on your next adventure:

I love you. No matter where you go, or who you are, or what you do, or who you journey with, nothing will ever change my love for you. It is absolute and unfailing.

I am always here for you. I am your fan, your cheerleader, your confidante. I will listen, offer my heart and my words, wrap my arms around you, applaud your achievements. You can call, text, message or visit me anytime. Yes, even in the middle of the night. You are never too old, never too far away that my love can't find you.

Be you. Always. Be kind and courageous. Use your mind and your heart and your voice. Learn. Grow. Travel. Explore. Follow your passions and trust your instincts. Keep looking for the good in people, in situations and in the world. Be the change you want to see in the world. Love. Love yourself and love others. Know that the Divine is with you, guiding you.

And keep having adventures. Lots of them.

I am very glad tonight that Columbia is only four hours away. This week, I will miss meeting Dayan at his house, Chinese food in tow. Wednesday afternoons will feel empty for a while.

I am grateful for the relationship we have, for the years we have spent building it word by word and hug by hug and adventure by adventure. I know Dayan will do great things. He has been raised well and prepared for this next step. That he walks on his own now is a tribute to his mom, stepdad and family.

Although I know we might have more adventures together, this is Dayan's time to adventure on his own. This is his journey. And when we cannot walk together, I will surround him with love and joy and peace.

After hugs tonight, I asked Dayan if I could visit him on the MU campus in a couple of weeks, before I leave on my next travel adventure.

"You can visit me any time, Yaya," he said. "Bring Chinese food!"

I will, Dayan. I will!

Movie Review: The Lobster

I became aware of this film this year as I watched the Academy Awards. During the program, as film clips are shown and Oscars handed out, I make a list of movies that intrigue me. The Lobster was one of those that snagged my attention. When I realized it was on Amazon Prime, I added it to my must watch list. This evening I at last pulled it up to see why this movie is described as one of the most innovative films of the year.

The Lobster stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Coleman, John C Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux and Angeliki Papoulia. This black comedy/romance was written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The film is rated R, for sexual content, language and a few violent scenes and has a run time of 1 hour and 59 minutes. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It did not win an Oscar.

In a dystopian future, it is the law that everyone must have a partner. If a partner dies, or a divorce takes place, or a young adult hasn't married by a certain age, the single person is taken to The Hotel, run by the rule enforcing Hotel Manager (Coleman). Each "guest" has 45 days to find a suitable partner within the hotel. If they don't succeed during that time, he or she is turned into the animal of their choice and released into the wild.

David (Farrell) is escorted to The Hotel after his wife informs him she's met someone else and she's ending their marriage. He takes his dog, Bob, with him, who was his brother formerly. David quickly makes a couple of friends, Limping Man (Whishaw) and Lisping Man (Reilly), but finds it more difficult to form a romantic relationship. He is told to select the animal he would most like to become, should he fail to find a partner. He chooses the lobster because it can live 100 years, remains fertile its entire life and it lives in the sea.

As his time at the hotel runs out, David attempts to fool the Manager and everyone else by becoming a seemingly ideal match for Heartless Woman (Papoulia). But he can't keep the pretense up, especially under the stress of sharing living quarters with his new partner during their trial period. On his way to a severe punishment for lying, David escapes and runs into the woods where single people, called Loners, live hidden among the many wild, domestic and exotic animals that used to be people.

Released from the pressure of finding a mate, David meets a woman who seems perfectly suited for him. Near Sighted Woman (Weisz) even shares a physical trait with him…she can't see well. Where the Hotel required each person to find a partner, the Loners, led by Leader (Seydoux) are not allowed to pair off. They must maintain the single state, or receive harsh punishment.

David is faced with the choices of falling in love again…or being turned into a lobster…or living as a single man for the rest of his life.

Caught between two societies that control relationships, or encourage the lack of them, David must decide where he fits in and whether to share life with anyone else.

I have to state immediately that this film wins the distinction of being the most bizarre movie I have watched in a long time. And yet, it was oddly compelling. Because the quirkiness rather quickly turns into unsettling strangeness, and there are a few disturbing scenes, I am refraining from recommending it. If you choose to watch it, remember you have been warned!

There is no year given for this futuristic story and no explanations offered for why society has created laws ordaining that everyone must be in a relationship. We are dropped into the story and left to interpret it as we will. In fact, Lanthimos' desire was that each viewer would decide what the movie meant to him or her, as seen through their own perspectives and beliefs. I have to give him credit for original and creative thinking.

The people of the future are repressed, direct, and fearful of being alone, lest they become an animal that can be killed and eaten by other animals in the woods. The other alternative, of escaping the City or the Hotel, and foraging in the woods as a Loner, seems equally frightening to them. And so they define each other by physical characteristics, hence the lack of proper names in the film, and match up with partners who are just like them. No one seems happy in their relationships. How could they be? They are fear based and forced. And if the couples feel stress or tension, or argue, they are assigned children. I did laugh at that.

At its core, this movie is a romance. Those who are alone are not allowed to remain so. And if you are a Loner, you aren't allowed to be partnered. The two extremes on the relationship spectrum have similar bizarre rules for living and no tolerance for those who wish to adopt a different lifestyle. David and Near Sighted Woman attempt to create a world of their own, where true love has a chance to take root. The question for David becomes how far is he willing to go, to keep that growing relationship? As with the synopsis of the movie, you get to interpret the ending for yourself.

Intriguing? Yes, this movie was. Hidden truths buried within it? Yes, I had interesting reactions to the extreme relationship viewpoints that will undoubtedly cause me to examine my own beliefs. Bizarre, uncomfortable and disturbing? Thought provoking, original and unforgettable? The Lobster is all of those things.

Drawing Eyes

Moving to the next lesson in my Fashion Design Studio book, I was inspired to focus on drawing eyes. This lesson's objective is to learn to sketch the features of the face. Fashion models have simplified features, so that attention is not drawn from the clothes to the face. However, style is exaggerated on the features as well.

So the eyes are slightly elongated with thickened eye lids and full lashes that sweep upward. A minimal make up look is desired.

Eyes can be challenging for me to draw. Perhaps because I am right handed, the right eye is easier for me to sketch. The left never quite matches the right eye. This is, therefore, very good practice for me.

I learned that the eyes are spaced a single eye-length apart. I found that helpful tonight as I worked my way through the drawing practices. And the closer the image, the more detail is required on the face. The eyes are considered the feature to give the most depth and personality to, rather than the nose and mouth, which are kept very basic.

My first eyes…a side view and front view.

Narrowed eyes and deep eyes. Note the simplified lashes. The most attention is given to the pupils and irises.

Beginning sketch for eyes that will be colored in.

Adding details and color. You can see my challenge with eyes. They don't quite match. The right one feels natural to me as I sketch it. The left feels awkward to draw. It would help if I was ambidextrous! I could simply switch the pencil to my left hand to draw the left eye. I made adjustments to my colored drawing and evened up the eyes a bit.

Although the fashion figures I will be drawing will focus on the outfits more than the facial features, I welcomed this opportunity to practice on the eyes. There are lessons coming up on drawing noses and mouths, hands, feet and hair, but the eyes called out to me tonight. I felt inspired to start there.

Why? Because the soul is glimpsed through the eyes. Intimacy starts there, with a look that sees deeply into another.

"Eyes are captivatingly beautiful. Not because of the color but because of the words they hold within them." Unknown

Communication starts there as well. The eyes can convey humor, love, sorrow, hope, joy and despair. So much of who we are can be conveyed with a glance, through eyes that are clear and full of life, or eyes that are guarded and veiled.

I intend to keep practicing on the eyes. It is important to me. As I snapped a pic of my final work, my iPhone camera, at least, recognized that there were eyes on the page. It struggled to focus on a face that was not there, putting up squares to define where the rest of the face should have been. I'll take that as encouragement!

St Stephens Green -Dublin

Three weeks from today, I'll be in the air, flying to Dublin, Ireland. My sisters, mom, niece and I have been planning and anticipating this trip for a year. As always, that time does indeed pass. We are counting down the days until our adventure.

I've had a very full day, with back to back appointments. Coming in this evening, with more work to do on the computer, I suddenly realized I didn't know what I was going to be writing about tonight. Two things happened, after I had that thought, as I sat on the side of my bed.

Checking Facebook, I saw that my sister Linda had posted a pic of an Irish pub in Dublin, commenting that we are leaving in three weeks. And looking up from my phone, I saw the book 20 Things to Do in Dublin Before You Go for a Feckin' Pint on the bedside table. There it was, double inspiration.

I've enjoyed some downtime this evening, reading in the humorously written book and thinking about Ireland. Dublin will be our home base while we are in that country.

Must see site #7 is St Stephen's Green.

This 22 acre park is located in the heart of Dublin, at the top of Grafton Street. According to the book, you can't miss it…it's the big green thing with all the trees! We are staying in the heart of the city, so I hope for at least a stroll through this gorgeous park.

Although this green space is peaceful and filled with ponds, statues, flowers and trees, the history of this place is anything but serene. In the 13th century there was a leper colony in this swampy, boggy spot, associated with a nearby church, St Stephen's. By the 17th century the area was converted into a park and the plots surrounding it used for building palatial homes.

The park became popular as a place of public executions. Until the late 18th century, most of Dublin's executions took place here. Crowds would gather to watch the unfortunate law breaker receive his punishment…which eventually led to the residents in the area protesting. The park became a private garden for the wealthy home owners surrounding it. In 1877, the great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the brewery founder, bought the park and donated it back to the city.

The park enjoyed a time of peace until the 1916 Easter Rising, when rebels used the Green as one of their bases of operation. Trenches were dug and the greenhouse used as a first aid center, but after a day, British soldiers began firing on the rebels, driving them out. Bullet holes can be seen in the Fusiliers' Arch entrance. An aside to this event: both sides agreed to a brief ceasefire so that the park groundsman could feed the ducks!

The arch is the most popular entrance to the park. It was built in 1907 to commemorate the soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fought for the British Army in the second Boer War.

Statues are scattered throughout the Green, including an artistic installation in honor of Irish poet WB Yeats. There's also one dedicated to Lord Ardilaun, who purchased the park and gave it to the city.

Other highlights in the park include the impressive facade of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the St Stephen's Shopping Centre, built to look like a conservatory.

There is also The Little Museum of Dublin, full of 20th century memorabilia, and one of Ireland's most famous hotels, the Shelbourne. Among the hotel's famous guests have been actors and actresses, authors, and John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie. The hotel features an equally famous pub, The Horseshoe Bar.

Reading about St Stephen's Green, including its colorful history, ramps up my anticipation for this city. This will be my first trip to Ireland…it is a first for all five of us…and I am excited to explore and discover and soak it all in.

Learning about some of Dublin's sites before I visit stirs a longing to see it all myself, and also creates a sense of familiarity when I do arrive. If we visit St Stephens Green, you can bet I will be checking the arch at the entrance for bullet holes!