Thursday, February 27, 2014

Travel Wrap-Up

In 2014 I decided to focus on 7 areas of my life - instead of making particular "resolutions".

Travel was on the list . . .

We have always traveled to see our kids - our son in Texas and our daughter in Topeka.  Those are the places we visit most, with a few trips to see my sister in Nebraska.

I knew that we had our Caribbean trip coming up and that was when I decided to put traveling on my list of things to improve on . . . 

I would give the trip 5 stars but I would give my packing skills 2 stars.  As I mentioned in earlier posts the lines at the Punta Cana airport were long long long.  I wore myself and hubs out with our carry-on bags!  I had a fear of my luggage not making it clear to the Dominican Republic with me.  So I thought it very clever to load my overnight bag with clothes, swim suit, shoes, etc. just in case!   I had a beautiful new purse given to me by my son and his wife for Christmas - with the trip in mind - - - but it was loaded down also!  

So - when traveling my Lesson #1 learned is to travel light - take the least amount of items you can.

For instance - - - here is what I would take if packing again for the same trip:

One suitcase to check at airport with:

1.  2 pair of casual/sports shorts with tanks/tops to match.
2.  One nightgown.
3.  One swimming suit and cover up.
4.  Two pairs of capris/shirts to match.
5.  One sundress.
6.  One pair each - tennis shoes, flip flops.
7.  Curling iron.
8.  Make-up bag with toiletries - including deodorant, face soap, face lotion, body lotion. 
9.  Sunscreen, hat or visor.
10. One light fragrance.
In a small SMALL back pack to carry with me at all times and on the plane:

1.  Billfold/drivers license
2.  Chapstick and gum.
3.  One book.
4.  Pen and paper.
5.  Cell phone with charger.
6.  Sun glasses.

Also - Hubs will do the same - check one suitcase and carry-on his back pack.  
He brings the flight plans, passports and ipads/chargers.

That my dear friends is all you need to spend 5 days/4 nights at a resort on the beach.  

You may laugh that I have spent the time to tell you how to pack your suitcase - - - I just wish I had thought it through for myself this time.  Although it didn't ruin a wonderfully fun trip, I can just imagine how much easier life could have been on traveling days!  

That is it for my first lesson learned about travel . . . but oh wait . . . since I am already planning our next bon voyage . . . I found out today from a seasoned traveler that Triple A can handle all of the details for you - - - and since the next time we take a trip we will be on our own - - - I was thrilled to learn about this option!  Call them up - - - give them your list of specs on your trip - - - and they find just what you want!

Hubs says we are going to New York City to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary on June 11, 2017.    I plan to get a little help from these folks for that trip! 

Travel often, travel smart, travel light . . . 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Caribbean Adventure - Saying good bye

My mom asked me who we were going on our trip with and I told her five other couples from Farmway and 300 other couples we don't know - - - She said, "Well you will make some new friends!"  I commented, "I HAVE friends, I'm not looking to make new friends, I don't care if I talk to anyone but Clay!"   Once again mother was right . . . first of all you dump 600 people in a foreign country and stuff them in an airport and on a bus and then leave them at a resort that is larger than most of their home towns . . . they lean on each other real quick!   We soon discovered that we were not the only couple who thought the first day was fairly tough!  Everyone was feeling the same - lost.

The following days we jumped on a small bus that circled the resort and took us from our rooms to the beach or pools - golf or the lobby - etc.  The people were so friendly - and as I mentioned in an earlier post, we met people from all over the United States.  And so yes mom, I did make some new friends.

Today was our last day to spend here at Punta Cana and we took a bus ride to another marketplace on the beach - and there we also found the most beautiful water and beach and it was not as windy!  On the beach the local people had sent up one shop after another.  We had a shopping list - I wanted a big floppy beach hat of my own - loved the one I borrowed for the trip.  I also wanted a Punta Cana bag and hubs and I wanted to find a "toro".  Then the fun began - - On our first "vacation without kids" we went to Estes Park two years ago and we saw all the elk - so we bought our own souvenir wooden elk to remind us of our trip.    I threw that piece of information in to explain that on our first night on this trip we ate at a restaurant on the beach called "Toro's" and it quickly became our favorite.   Hanging from the ceiling are several bulls - thus the name Toro's and I don't mean hanging - they were actually upside down - standing on the ceiling.  Beautiful too.  Wooden.  Aha!  We would find a toro of our own to take home.    That was not an easy task - - - the first marketplace shop I politely asked the man for a bull . . . "bull?" . . . yes a bull . . . "bull."  He quickly shows me a ball - no no I say - an animal - a bull - like a cow - but a bull - - - and finally I even said "toro" - still showing me balls - - - he said write it down - - - as soon as i wrote "toro" he understood - but had none.  Then we found a rather large toro  . . . way too big to get home easily.  Pretty soon a man came up behind us with a perfect sized wooden "toro" - perfect!  The price of course was to be bartered - - - and I have no problem with that because I think I should get everything for almost nothing.  We were able to make a deal and only spend $20 for our souvenir toro!   Soon we gathered up some other small gifts to take home to family and headed back to our bus.

Well you can take the girl out of Kansas . . . but you had better not leave her very long  . . . and I say that because although I intended to be a beach babe again today - my skin was saying enough - so the afternoon was spent in another wonderful way!  Spa time . . . 

Clay had signed me up for an aromatherapy massage and so I was told to arrive one hour early for my appt. so I could enjoy the hydrotherapy rooms!   I did - and after slipping into my robe - over my swim suit - I was led into the most beautiful "zen-like" winding, dimly lit oasis of pampering!  Tea or water with fresh fruit and then my little attendant led me to a quiet area where I could relax or I could enjoy the pools - two hot tubs, two small warm water walking areas, two cold tubs, two foot soaks, and then around the corner was a large pool with warm water and many jets - ah heaven.  Now I had been given very good instructions by my little attendant to "wear your swimming suit . . . wear your swimming suit . . .".  So you can imagine my shock as I prepared to step into the warm water when a woman walked by  . . . and well let's just say . . . she did not remember to wear her swimming suit!!   She walked through the cold pool and out the door.   Oookkkay . . . but it gets better  . . . later as I enjoyed a cold foot soak - great for any swelling  . . . lo and behold here came another young woman who did not get the memo either . . . WEAR YOUR SWIMMING SUIT . . . and she plopped into the hot tub.     Anyway I finished out the afternoon with a wonderful massage and felt very spoiled . . . 

Our last evening of a wonderful trip . . . we headed to our favorite restaurant  and enjoyed a great meal with a couple Clay knew.  We walked to the beach - and around the resort - back through the lobby - and back to our room.

Great blessings this week in time with hubs.  It helps me to see how really big our world is - - - it's just one country out of many - - - but we both commented how we will feel a connection with the Dominican Republic and it's people from now on.  

Praying for a smooth traveling day tomorrow - we are one of the last groups to fly out - so will be having a long day - but all worth it!

                                      On the beach at the market place today.

                Clay in his new island shirt!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Caribbean Adventure Day #4

Beach time today!!  Beautiful sunshine - then clouds and rain - sunshine and rain all morning!

What's the saying?  A bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work?  Well maybe it's something about a bad day fishing . . . but I thought the same this morning.

After leaving the beach we headed across the road to one of the pools called The Guitar Pool - shaped like a guitar obviously - after showering off the sand - we spent the next hour swimming and pool walking - and I had a new first - - - swam up to the bar and ordered two diet cokes!!

Can you spot me in this picture - - - I'm the big hat at the bar!

Afternoon we were scheduled for an 18 hole round of Putt Putt golf at the Hard Rock Golf Club.

The beach party was moved indoors tonight as the weather could possibly be raining some more - and so we have decided to order room service and rest . . .

Need all of our energy to hit the flea market tomorrow and a chocolate factory!  And of course the beach.

Buenas noches!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Caribbean Adventure Day #3

Much more relaxing day today - Clay had a business breakfast early in the morning and then we were free to spend the day our own way.

The beach is where we headed - and although it was filling up already we were lead to a spot with two loungers in the shade where we could sit and watch the ocean.  The blue-turquoise water that you see about only on TV was great!  I notice though that whenever I have been to a beach - anywhere - the wind blows!  Where are those calm, serene, romantic crystal blue waters that I see on The Bachelor!!!   Bought my first ever jewelry on the beach!  Locals had their wares and walked the shore.

The resort hosts 15 pools and we headed to one called The Moon.  It is the pool we had seen in the brochures - I had been looking for an infinity pool and I'm not sure if this one counted - but designed very close to one - - - more pools to check out later . . .

Lunch at Toro's and back to the room to make our plans:

     Do we spend our time at the Rock Star Mini Golf  . . . no scheduled that for Friday afternoon.

     Shopping . . . not today either - but plan to do that on Saturday.
     Or head back here . . . 


We decided to head to the lobby and check out the spa - hubs wanted me to have a massage or something like that - We set up an appointment for an "aromatherapy massage" on Saturday.   I was feeling very pampered as I also headed upstairs to the salon for a "Not in Kansas anymore" pedicure. 

We ended out the day with supper back at Toro's again with a couple from home and really enjoyed the food, atmosphere and especially getting to know coworkers better.  

A friend from work asked me to let them know about this resort - they are looking for a place to take a vacation and I would highly recommend it - the first day we were overwhelmed and after talking with others today - everyone was overwhelmed - I would suggest that the resort do a little better job of helping folks find their rooms - and get a general idea of the layout of the place - as I said before it is huge - and not just for this girl from Kansas - but also people from Iowa, Indiana, New York, Georgia, Nebraska and they all agree!  NOW I am not going to be critical of anything on this trip - it's not a trip the Henningsen's would be making on our own - and once again - very thankful to our company and the company sponsoring this.

Headed to bed to watch some Olympics  - Back tomorrow with another report - - - Lesson learned today - head to the beach earlier than 11 - to find a chair and cabana for shade!  And "beach party" on the agenda for tomorrow night.

Caribbean Adventure Day #2

Lesson learned - - - leave entire closet home when you travel to another country.  Go small.  The modern convenience of walking into any airport in the USA and within a reasonable amount of time moving through check-in, security, and boarding has for us been a pretty manageable feat!

Of course you know I needed every pair of shorts I own, and every shirt I own, two swim suits and two cover ups and multiple pairs of flip flops to coordinate with each outfit - - - bags of sunscreen - well one bag and then the rest of what a person might need - - - I love choices when I travel :)  But I do NOT love packing my new Vera Bradley lookalike Avon quilted tote - plus my huge purse filled full through hours of lines . . . 

The first day was a long one - a lot of waiting - but fun galore - We arrived at the Punta Cana airport - complete with thatched roof buildings and waited and waited for planes to unload - waited for our "exit stairs" to be rolled over to the plane and climbed down onto the tarmac - - - just like you see in the movies - - - More waiting on our bus to take us to the hotel - - - and off to a Welcome party for the evening.  Little food eaten yesterday - - - so by the time we arrived at the party - a server at the door offered me something pink in a pretty cup - I asked twice - what is it?  I could not understand him - - but it was pink, slushy and cold - - - I drank it.  

The Hard Rock Casino and Hotel is humongous and we are just now heading out to see the rest of it as we got here late enough last night to go to a welcome party and then out to eat.  Couldn't wait to see the white sand beach - but did so in the dark - - - still awesome - - - 

The folks here are friendly - and we are good on our exercise - - - walking a ton!

Check back later - I'm taking a bath in sun screen and heading to the beach/pools!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Caribbean Adventure Begins

We are off and running . . . jaunt #1 successful . . . easily checked into our overnight stay at the Fairfield Inn in Kansas City, MO. MUCH improvement over my "go-to" motel for the night before a flight - - - I won't embarrass any particular motel chain by naming names - - - but there are NO GNATS in this motel - - - I think we definitely must upgrade to here for future Texas trips!
Clay was given this trip by his employer and a chemical company - we are two of 600 very thankful people! We leave at 7 a.m. tomorrow to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for five days in the Caribbean. So blessed . . .

My bucket list includes St. Thomas or St. Lucia in the Virgin Islands?? The bluest of waters, etc. and it's amazing how those "bucket list" items can come our way unexpectedly!

Forgive me if tonight I sound excited - - - it has been slow in coming - - - unfortunately, I have spent most of January and early Feb. getting through and over and over and over the influenza bug, cold, cough, and then topped it off with ten days of a toothache. As of yesterday - - - all of the above has healed!! Getting things finished up at work was the next thing on my mind - - - and so now that it is here - we are feeling excited!

I might add that this trip in particular is why I chose "travel" as one of my focuses for 2014. Traveling through airports can be tiring - challenging - exhausting - - - but of course a great way to stay close with family. I want to focus on traveling smarter, more efficiently, and enjoying it!  Plus - I want to look at ways to save a little extra money each month for the trips! So - - - my first postings about travel will begin right now!

I will post some of the details from each day - but for now - it's off to bed for a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call and some more "firsts" tomorrow - - - praying that hubs' artificial leg that sets off all alarms in airports everywhere - doesn't get him arrested in a foreign country!!

Feel free to pray also!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


A focus I have chosen for 2014 is to work exercise into my day - each day - working out most days or just being active the rest of the days.

Don't you just love this commercial . . .


I saw it this morning and it struck me funny - oh yes - I can improve my health as easy as brushing my teeth with Colgate Advanced Toothpaste.  I know I know - there is more to the commercial than just that. And dental health is very important to overall body health.   But with the frame of mind I'm in about exercise and eating right - reducing stress in my life - etc., it just made me smile that Kelly makes it alllllll sound simple with this toothpaste!

The dreadmill is my plan this week - yes dreadmill - that's what I call our treadmill.  

Once again, my sister Tami sends out a challenge - I am tempted to ignore the text - I could always say that  my phone was dead or on the charger - but no - I can't hide from her.  Challenge for tonight was to do 1.67 miles in 30 minutes.  After arguing that I was comfy in my chair with the dog on my lap, the phone rings, it's my dad, I think it was planned, and so I was out of my chair and headed to the basement.   My results:  1 mile in 21:42 minutes.  I was tired and I felt so out of shape.  But I did it!  I moved!!

This is where I begin again to continue on - - -

Stay tuned for more focus on Exercise as I have been challenged to an even bigger goal!  Details to follow!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Zentangle Thursdays - A Try at Something New!

Heather at Books and Quilts has been sponsoring Zentangles Thursday for quite some time and I have loved watching what she and my sister Tami and others have created!   On Super Bowl Sunday I finally got to take an in-person zentangle lesson from my sis - and so although I have threatened to throw my first "tries" out the window . . . I am giving it one more shot!

Heather's challenge includes letting readers give suggestions for a theme for each week.  My sister Tami from Just One More Thing chose the theme "Olympics" as the Winter Olympics began today in Sochi, Russia!

So tonight as I listened and watched the figure skating - I created my first Zentangle.

I quickly realized that Zentangling for me - might be a bad thing . . . nothing else was getting done!!  I needed to make a meal for a family at church and I needed to pack for the weekend.  I wanted to sweep and mop the kitchen.   Then I told myself - I had been off work today as I really had not felt well - - - so I NEEDED to sit and relax with a zentangle most of all.  

I can doodle well.  I can draw a really cool 3-legged foot stool - learned it in drawing classes as a young teen. But I may be zen-challenged . . . You see in the Zentangle world there are many patterns to choose from - and they are awesome!!   I learned from Tami that each pattern has a little rhythm to it and a place to start - well - here is where the challenge comes for me - - -seeing it - - - but I loved it and could hardly put it down.  

I consider this Olympic inspired picture a success - - - but oh boy - far from right - - - hey - remember those puzzles you did as a kid??  "Can You Find What's Wrong in This Picture?"     Well go for it!
One more challenge for you - can you find the "hidden" word in the Olympic Rings?  (answer at end of post)

Have a few ideas to try that will be Olympic related - hopefully improvement will come!

Thanks to Heather and Tami for inspiring me to Zentangle!

The Olympic flag ... has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red ... This design is symbolic ; it represents the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colors are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time.
— Pierre de Coubertin (1931)

Answer:  SOCHI is spelled out in the rings - one letter in each ring.

Monday, February 3, 2014

January Wrap-Up

Feb 3 has rolled right into view!  Happy Birthday to my favorite daughter tomorrow Feb. 4th!!  We enjoyed a great weekend with her and her husband, grandson and his family - especially little great-grandson Grayson!

So thought I would wrap-up January for you - and give you Henningsen Highlights . . .

What I did . . .

     Purchased some extra clothes to take on our upcoming trip to the sunny and hopefully
     warm Dominican Republic!

     Purchased a new pair of glasses and sunglasses!  Much needed as my prescription had
     changed drastically.  Good news though that my eyes are very healthy!

     Developed a tooth ache and so now I have begun the final stage of dental work that will
     give me very nice - healthy teeth and a smile I can be proud of.  See this old post for
     the beginning of this project!

     Decided to create "prayer flags" for those in my family and friends that I want to
     remember to say a special prayer for.    Check out Tami's post at Just One More Thing
     on how to create those.  Wonderful thing about them - - - each one is unique - no rules -
     no wrong way to do a prayer flag.  Coming soon . . . my first prayer flag for our youngest
     granddaughter Elaine.

     Sent our son Todd his birthday gift on January 15!  A fun one - really neat when we can
     find something the kids want and need - and can send it there way - - - FHSU worthy
     gold and black golf bag!  He loved it!


     Hosted a birthday party for my dad's 79th birthday!  Small crowd of 6 - - - special night.
     Again this year - - - I spent a lot of the month with a huge cold - Influenza A - sinusitis -
     cough that would not die - - - and a headache.    I'm canceling January next year!

What I did not  . . .

     T & T Book Club Selection for January was up to me - and I chose that Tami and I would
     each pick a book of our liking and then blog about it - - - I intend to blog about it after I
     finish it - - - but alas - - - I didn't get as much read - - - and I blame that on not being able
     to see very well!!  And not having a great "reading corner" - - - need to fix that - - - glasses
     are paid for and sitting on my face - - - so not an excuse anymore. 

     WALK ... EAT RIGHT ... - - - ENOUGH SAID.

     Avon Valentine Open House - - - plans were made - - - invitations written out - - - life
     got in the way . . . Actually it was planned for February - so could still be accomplished
     but as I said - - - other things have come before this - - - so I will look forward to a Lucky
     Leprechaun Avon Open House or a Step Into Spring Avon Open House - - - .


That's my first month of 2014 in a wrap-up.  Some goals were accomplished - and some not.
My plans for Feb will include as mentioned above - prayer flags - reading - dental work - trip
and saying goodbye to 10 pounds (again).

This year I have chosen not to feel despair at projects not done - weight not lost - house not cleaned and other tasks left incomplete - - - just move on with prayer and hope for a good month ahead!

Want to share your pluses and minuses for the month of January!  Feel free to comment here!

P.S.  Started February off with a wonderfully hosted Super Bowl Party at Dave and Tami's house in Nebraska.  Although our team didn't win  - we had a great relaxing evening with good food, fun entertainment, some crafting and zentangle lessons, and best of all - dear family!  Perfect way to start a new month!