Saturday, July 30, 2011

Perfect Saturday Morning

I'm enjoying reading about the next royal wedding while enjoying a fabulous cuppa joe and awaiting a beautiful berry and nut pancake.  Then, it's off to direct a beautiful wedding this evening!  It's a great day!!  Happy Saturday! :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

My "Literary" Weekend

Last weekend I found myself with some extra time between errands and thought I would indulge in a little Barnes and Noble time. I love to poke around in the sale bins and was so giddy when I found these two fun finds!

I have to admit that the Real Houswives series on Bravo is a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me, so when I saw this book in the sale bin, I had to take a closer look.  Then, I saw that it told all about the behind-the-scenes development of the different series and told about the casting of each housewife, and I knew it needed to come home with me. 
Mommywood was also in the sale area and I have been wanting to read it ever since I finished SToritelling, Tori Spelling's first book.  I had looked for it at the library, but it always seemed to be checked out, so a good deal seemed to be the perfect opportunity for purchase!  After my great deals at B&N, I headed to the ultimate great deal, the library!!  I found these two:

I've started reading The Friday Night Knitting Club and love it!  Of course any story set in Manhattan is extra intriguing to me! :)

And with all this triple digit heat we have been experiencing, an ice cold drink is essential.  Enter Bahama Bucks' Caribbean Cola.  The perfect and yummy way to cool off!

I also spent some time learning more about my camera.  I thought this brightness was  a fun setting.  My biggest discovery of the weekend was that I can take video with my camera!  I was a little thrilled about that find, so who knows, a vlog may be in my future!!  Hope you have a fantastic weekend! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

Our first morning in Jerusalem dawned bright and beautiful!
But before we headed out for our day of adventure, breakfast beckoned.  I forgot to mention earlier that we entered Jerusalem on Friday evening, so we were told breakfast the next morning would be a cold breakfast due to Shabbat.  We enjoyed tasty pastries and the most phenomenal cereal pictured above.  These little cereal puffs were filled with chocolate!!  So delish!  How I wish I could find them in the States. :)  I'm feeling a grocery store trip in my future!  Okay, y'all know I get a little sidetracked by the food!  Now, for our first stop of the day...

We walked near the Mount of Olives to enter the traditional site where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer.
A stunningly beautiful church has been built on the site.

In the courtyard were different renderings of the prayer in a wide variety of languages.

So, now I'll let you in on a little secret...I frequently was confused on the trip about where the traditional places really were.  Eventually I would figure it out (usually after asking a few questions), but this photo was taken of what I thought was the place traditionally cited where Jesus said the Lord's prayer.  I thought it was strange that it was out in the open...

Not to worry...this is the place!  It makes more sense that it is well protected and set apart! :)

Here is an image of some of the prayers in different languages.

A beautiful walkway surrounded the courtyard.

I loved the architecture!


One of our professors discussing the Lord's Prayer with the Latin version in the background.

Beautiful arches

In English!

I just loved the design elements, especially with the beautiful blue sky peaking through.
Next, we headed to the Mount of Olives!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Little Sparkle

Sometimes a fun accessory can give me a little extra boost for the day, so when I saw these fun stack rings at H & M in Chicago, I just couldn't resist!!  Happy Wednesday!  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Going to Jerusalem!

So, after our trip to Masada, we were ready for lunch, so Dan arranged for us to grab a quick sandwich at a fun place!
I don't know if you have ever used AHAVA skincare treatments, but they are created from the salt of the Dead Sea.  I remember when an adorable boutique in my hometown carried the line and we always knew some AHAVA bath products would be the perfect treat for my mom.  I remember her telling me they were made in Israel, so it was surreal to be at the factory, which was right across the street from the Dead Sea!  I may or may not have left with some souvenirs from the gift shop! ;)

These sculptures were in the lobby.  They are made from the Dead Sea salt!
After lunch, we changed into our swimsuits and jumped in!
Well, maybe it was more of a slow, gradual process to getting in the sea, but once we were in, it was fabulous -- you really do float!!

Here is a photo of the beach.  Word of caution: whenever you go to the Dead Sea make sure to pack some water shoes -- those rocks are kinda poky to walk on!

Said rocks.  Don't they look sharp?!
The Dead Sea was so relaxing.  We met some fellow Americans as we floated along and one plays for the WNBA and was a former Volunteer under Pat Summit!!  Small world.

The water does really have amazing properties and so does the mud on the surrounding beach.
The view doesn't hurt the experience either!
After our time in the Sea, we spent a few minutes in the warm sulfur springs nearby. 
It was a wonderful spa experience and I could have stayed all day, but Jerusalem beckoned!

After we loaded the bus, we drove for a while before we came across this sign.  Again, I was overwhelmed by the reality of where I really was!
We were Going to Jerusalem!!!
Now, a little inside scoop on the phrase "Going to Jerusalem".  When I was little, my dad and brother and I would play this boardgame that had belonged to my great grandmother called "Going to Jerusalem".  It was so neat because the little pieces you moved around the board were apostles and you would stop at all these different sights along the way, reading biblical passages as your apostle moved along the path.  I can't wait to play again now that I have actually visited some of the locales!
Image found here.

Then, as we journeyed down the road, our bus came to a stop, so that we could experience a fun surprise -- camel rides!!! :)  I was hoping we would be able to do this!


Jesse and August

Isn't he cute?!

Then, it was my turn!

Listening to instructions. 
Oh my goodness!  When the camel stands up, you feel like you are leaning forward much further than you are! 
We made it all the way up!

Riding off into the sunset.

Then, I decided I would pretend like I was in a circus and give a big wave! :)

So much fun!

The camel kneeling down was also a surprise -- I thought I was almost going to fall off!

What an amazing experience!!

After our fun camel rides, we loaded back on the bus and drove to Jerusalem.
God gave us the gift of a beautiful sunset to enjoy on our way.

We also passed a bedouin village as we journeyed closer to the city.

And soon we were on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The sky was painted the most beautiful colors. 
I couldn't stop taking pictures.

Finally, we arrived to begin the next part of our adventure!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The story of Masada is an incredible one.   

Approaching the site.

These are some copper coins found amongst the ruins.

Amy and me before riding the cablecar up to the top.

The Dead Sea in the distance

View from the cablecar

I just couldn't get over the gorgeous blue of the Dead Sea

Our group walking up to the city ruins.


More images of the Dead Sea.  I thought it was so beautiful and unbelievable that I was actually there.

Alan read Elazar ben Yair's final speech at the end of the siege. 

I found it here and have copied and pasted it if you would like to read it.  It is from Jewish historian Josephus Flavius' book Jewish Wars.

"My loyal followers, long ago we resolved to serve neither the Romans nor anyone else but only God, who alone is the true and righteous Lord of men: now the time has come that forces us to prove our determination by our deeds. At a time like this, we must not disgrace ourselves: hitherto we have never submitted to slavery, even when it brought no danger with it: we must not choose slavery now, and with it penalties that will mean the end of everything if we fall alive into the hands of the Romans. For we were the first of all to revolt, and shall be the last to break off the struggle. And I think it is God who has given us this privilege, that we can die nobly and as free men, unlike others who were unexpectedly defeated. In our case it is evident that day-break will end our resistance, but we are free to choose an honorable death with our loved ones. This our enemies cannot prevent, however earnestly they may pray to take us alive; nor can we defeat them in battle."
"Let our wives die unabused, our children without knowledge of slavery: after that, let us do each other an ungrudging kindness, preserving our freedom as a glorious winding-sheet. But first let our possessions and the whole fortress go up in flames: it will be a bitter blow to the Romans, that I know, to find our persons beyond their reach and nothing left for them to loot. One thing only let us spare -- our store of food: it will bear witness when we are dead to the fact that we perished, not through want but because, as we resolved at the beginning, we chose death rather than slavery." (Josephus Flavius, Jewish Wars Book 7, 8:6)

The line on the rock marked where the original stone ruins ended (below) and where the recreated work began  (above).

A model of Masada

A Byzantine church built on the premises

Another image of the church.  I thought it was so neat that there was a window.  Can you imagine attending a church service and looking out the window and seeing the Dead Sea? 

Here Dan is pointing out The Breaching Point or the place where the Romans finally broke through the walls after the three year siege.

Again you can see the line signifying the original stone (below) and the recreated area (above).
The actual ramp the Romans built up to Masada.

A Dovecot
I believe these were used as lookout points.

The land surrounding Masada

The synagogue


A closer image of the cistern

A Bathhouse

Information about the water system at Masada.  Since Masada is in such a desert environment, water supply was essential for survival.

By pouring water in a certain area of the model, you can see how the water system worked.

King Herod built a palace at Masada.

Looking down from Masada

My friend Chris and me

Here you can see the ruins of the camps where the Romans were stationed.

pigeons :)

This is a model of Herod's northern palace.  Herod loved to build things and evidence of his architectural obsession is all over Israel.

This image is of the Northern Palace looking down from up above.

An image of the ruins

Information about the bathhouse

A model of the bathhouse

The original mosaic

The interior ruins of the bathhouse.  I was so amazed that some of the wall coverings are still visible.

This area housed the sauna.  A large slab of marble was placed over these cylindars, warming the floor.  It was kind of amazing to imagine that in this dry and arid land where water was a precious commodity, King Herod was okay with using water in such a recreational way as a sauna.

Exiting the bathhouse

The Israel flag with the gorgeous turquoise of the Dead Sea in the background.

This whole area was used as a storehouse for food.  By seeing the size of this storage area, it is easier to understand how the Jewish people could survive here for three years during the siege.

These photos are of more ruins found at Masada that are now housed indoors in the visitors center.

It is amazing to see how all of these artifacts have survived for so many years.
It was incredible to visit this important piece of history and to learn about what happened there.
After this visit, we were ready for lunch and then a dip in those beautiful azure waters of the Dead Sea!!