The First Trip of 2023—And the Most Important Item to Pack.

Almost two weeks ago I embarked on a trip to Florida to visit my Aunt Terry.  T’was  a girl’s weekend—my sister Theresa is flew in  from California and my sister Germaine from Long Island.

10 Things to Know About Florida

Actually, the Sunshine State wasn’t too sunny-but I didn’t need a coat so it was fine by me!

Fingers, toes and eyes crossed that none of us will experience dreaded delays and will all meet up within moments of each other in Tampa airport.  What with the way the airlines have been running as of late, I have my rosary beads at the ready to start praying to Mary that we all fly without problems.

Loop Text GIF by xponentialdesign

Instead of counting sheep, we can count flight delays!

Since this was a short visit—we  arrived late Friday afternoon. Due to work obligations, I left Sunday morning and they stayed on till Monday. The weather forecast for Tampa looks good. Highs in the 70’s lows in the 40’s –can’t complain.   Summer clothing won’t be packed. Instead, I opted for clothing that can suffice on those balmy autumn and spring days.

Waiting for my plane to arrive, I had to sit next to a self-important passanger having a LOUD conversation with his daughter about relationships and his Christian ideology.  If he was a true Christian he would have made his conversation private. I retaliated by playing Mozart on my iPhone louder than his mouth.

The usual flight outfit of J. Crew Pixie Pants was replaced with a lighter linen blend that I bought a couple of years ago at Target, a black shirt, black ballet flats and a denim jacket.  I’ll be traveling with my vintage Louis Vuitton Randonee PM, and in my carryon was a pair of Pixie Pants and a black jumpsuit worn for Saturday evening’s dinner out.  Another tee shirt. PJ’s, underwear, an additional wig and some makeup.

My flight ensemble for the first trip of 2023!  Very, very comfortable. I wore Luxurious by The Wig Company on my head. A very nice wig for travel. My smaller Randonee went with me and it was perfect!

The suprise upon arriving in Tampa, wasn’t the huge Pink Flamingo welcoming travelers, but it was all of our flights landed on time!  We met, then took an Uber to my aunt’s house.  BTW, Sorry for the lack of photos–I was really having a great time with my sisters and aunts!

This Pink Flamingo looks intimidating but everyone was snapping pics like crazy. Some even took photos of their dogs under this fun structure!

We had a quick dinner at my Aunt’s clubhouse, then headed back to the house for tea and conversation before calling it a night.  On Saturday, we hit a local mall because one of my sisters needed makeup. Then it was on to my brother Tommy’s house to meet the newest family member–baby Emma!  I can’t believe my brother is a grandpa!

MOTHER OF THE BRIDE DRESS ALERT!  MOB ALERT!  I saw this dress at Dillard’s.  Honest to god, I almost purchased it even though I’m not a MOB. It’s just that after writing my blog post : The Mother of the Bride Dress Saga Continues

Okay, back on track–we  headed to Capital Grille on Saturday evening for dinner.  In perusing the menu offerings and in light of the weight I need to lose, I had already decided what I my choice will be—the appetizer portion of the Tuna Tartare for my main course and Oysters on the half shell (0 WW points).   I can do without wine or a cocktail. I’ll stick to unsweetened iced tea.

That whole thing about eating a WW-friendly meal went out the window. I had a cocktail and meat!  Blue Filet Mignon.

BWAAAAAAAAAA!  All that healthy eating went to waste. I was having a great dinner with my sibs and my aunt.  Actually, the healthiest thing I ate was the night before–I had a Cobb Salad at my aunt’s club  (Top Left Pic). And the pic on the top right is the Blackberry Bourbon and Thyme Sidecar I ordered. Yeah–since everyone was pulling my leg I went for the win.  That drink was THE best cocktail I ever had. Thank God it was expensive–the price stopped me from ordering a second.  We enjoyed a Calamari appetizer (bottom left) and I ordered the filet mignon.  I ordered a plain coffee for dessert!

Me and my sibs.  I wish Pete was with us but I know he was looking down from a star and smiling.   Top Left:  My brother Tommy, me,  Aunt Terry, my sisters, Germaine and Theresa. Bottom left is my SIL Beth and my very hungry brother.  Aunt Terry, smiling because we are sitting next to each other!

The next morning, it was time to bid adieu to my family.  We had one last bit of conversation in the car on the way to the airport and the trip was over.  I had a surprise on the plane. It was the day of the Eagle’s playoffs. The plane was filled with “Iggles” fans and when we landed in Philly, they actually sang “Fly, Eagles, Fly”.  I’m a Giant’s fan.  I’ll leave it at that!

And, in true Cathe travel fashion–it rained as I was about to board the plane home. It’s not a trip unless the weather is raining on me. Still it wasn’t enough for a delay!

Hanging out waiting to board my flight back home. Yum. Yum. Biscoff cookies were served on the flight!  And I got to write in my journal! It was a great little trip!

But the most important item—or items  tha went to Florida with me were my traveler’s journal, pens to write with, and a little instant camera.  Allow me to explain.

My Journals.  BTW, the Journal on the right is my Traveler’s Notebook. Pricey but a great way to journal. On the left is one from Amazon–a dupe that was less than half the price. It’s just as good. If interested here’s the link:  Refillable Leather Journal

In the past I’ve always journaled during our trips to France—whether Paris or the Cote d’ Azur, taking the time every afternoon and even evenings was a time to relax, reflect and describe the activities of each day.

Last summer’s visit to France–memories contained in here!

And the memories contained within those journals are priceless wonders.  Every now and then I’ll open a journal from a past visit and will read about the great times we had in 2011—or 2007—or 2022. And my favorite years are the years Vincent’s aunt, my beloved Daniele was alive.

And now–my recent trip to Florida is nestled into my journal!

But, I don’t write when we head to New York City—which is so weird because I lived there for  decades, was born in Rockaway, lived on Long Island then back to the city.  Ink hasn’t hit pen when we’ve visited Cincinnati—and with two grandsons, I feel almost evil that I hadn’t written about our fun experiences there.

I do have past blogs regarding trips over the bridge into NYC but I haven’t journaled about them. It’s a shame too. Next trip. I journal!

The weekends that The Frenchman and I spent over the years in Washington DC deserved to be recorded. And I failed to do so.  The best I did was to write on the blog.

Actually, one of my first blog posts was written about the greatest weekend we had in Brooklyn.  When Jake, Roman and Oona Christmas-gifted Vincent and me with a stay at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, a cake-baking class at Momofuku Milk Bar and a fantastic dinner at an Argentinean Steak house.  In case you forgot, here’s the link : A Great Weekend In Brooklyn, NY!!!


This pic is from one of my first blog posts–and one of the best weekends I’ve ever had in my life.  Oona hadn’t even met her husband yet.  I honestly wish I had started journaling back then.

We need memories.  They are important. Recording our trips, events, and activities are a tremendous asset in our thought process—especially as we age.

Season 1 Starz GIF by The Rook

Although we never want this to happen, we oftentimes forget the little things–and journaling is perfect for those little things.

Writing these future memories  brings to our loved ones the gift of words—words about where we’ve been, what we’ve done,  our emotions, our sense of humor and our sense of who we are. We are able to express ourselves in the written form at times, far better than verbally.

I’ll even add little daily entries into my calendar!

And journals are fun to decorate! No matter how old you are! 

Which makes me want to take this a step further.  Writing notes like the simple “thank you”.  The “Thinking of You”. Or basically, any excuse to take a few moments to get a pen, a sheet of stationery or a card and for a minute or so, just to let someone know you are thinking of them.

This card arrived from my Aunt Terry in the mail yesterday. On the inside is a beautiful handwritten note that I treasure!

I’m guilty AF for sending off an email or a text.  Rarely do I have phone conversations anymore. When I do its family. When I text—it’s family.  I need to invest in note cards. And various holiday cards and send them out to let others I love and care about know I’m thinking of them.

Thank-You Notes & Blank Note Cards | Hallmark

I need to invest in notecards and send them out.

But back to the journals. And notebooks.

Back to the journals!

It’s so funny because now, perusing a website for stationery has taken the place of sleuthing down clothing. In fact, the week before my trip,  at my insistence, my husband and I headed into Philadelphia to a Stationery store, Omoi Zakka, so that I could purchase refills for my Travelers Notebook.   It’s such a little gem of a shop, I could have spent hours there—and I definitely plan on returning.

Omoi Zakka, in Philly’s Old City, is a little gem of a stationery store. I need to get back.

I purchased refills..

…and received this cute postcard!

Then I discovered another stationery store located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; Yoseka Stationery.  (I’ve just  received my order) Now I have an excuse to get back to Brooklyn!

If I lived back in NYC, I would be subwaying it to Yoseka Stationery on a regular basis.  I purchased girl stickers by La Dolce Vita. I’m in love with these beautiful stickers.

These stickers from artist Bofa Huang, creator of La Dolce Vita, are, hands down, my favorites. They are very empowering..Here’s a link to a very sweet Interview with her:  Bofa Huang Interview

So, tell me dear friends. Do you keep journals?  Are you writing about your travels? Are you writing about your memories? Are you sending little notes to friends and loved ones?  Do tell because I’m intrigued!

Let me know!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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10 Responses to The First Trip of 2023—And the Most Important Item to Pack.

  1. Momcat says:

    Lovely post! So glad you had a wonderful time with family in Florida.Keeping a travel journal is a great idea. Many years ago we spent two weeks travelling around California, my journal was a note pad from the first hotel we stayed in in San Francisco! I wrote in it every night and still have it. It’s fun to look back years later and see where we went and what our impressions of those places were..SF big thumbs up SanDiego, not too impressed. Maybe we would see it differently now??!! I think a hand written travel journal is far more interesting than writing ‘notes’ on a cell phone. What type of Instant camera do you have? That’s another good idea too.
    Funny you should write this post, I just received a hand written thank you note from a friend. It was a thank you to a group of us that had made a contribution to a charity in our friend’s late mother’s memory….she could have easily sent a group email but took the time from her busy life (the only one of our group still working and has a spouse living with MS) to send a personal note.
    Not only have we forgotten how much it means to receive a handwritten note….according to statistics many of our adult kids can’t even compose a letter or thank you note or answer a written invitation. True story, I once had a young colleague (with two professional University degrees under her belt) ask me what RSVP meant!!!!!!! I explained what it meant in French and that it was a polite way of asking for a reply, as in will you be attending or not. She looked at me and said ‘Well why don’t they just say that?’ OMG….

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Al, And the educational system here in the USA continues to slide downwards. Kids can’t tell time if it isn’t digital. Forget writing notes. It’s a lost form of etiquitte that needs to return. The camera I have is an Instax Mini 11. It takes shitty pictures but at least I get an image–so that’s a good thing. It was actually fun writing this post because it brought back a lot of fun memories. In fact, I wrote about the blog post in my journal! XOXOXO

  2. Eleanor ford says:

    I start and stop and start and stop! I’d love to restart and add ephemera etc to it!

  3. Liz says:

    Really appreciate your idea of making journaling fun again! -by adding stickers, etc. I do like to send snail mail to friends with stickers. 🙂 And journaling about your trip with a disposable camera is a great idea; rather than just leaving pictures on your phone forever and ever. It’s nice to flip a page, hold a real photo, and read penmanship to make it even more exciting and fun!

  4. Maryellen says:

    You might say that I am a compulsive card and note sender. I always have cards ready for any occasion, or just happy/pretty cards for no occasion. I am always cheered by a personal card in the mailbox from a loved one, so I decided years ago that I would become a card-sender. I think it makes people happy. For example, I wasn’t certain it mattered to my daughter until I visited her and my cards were displayed on her fridge. I think everyone loves a good card and I think they give our loved ones a moment of delight. Don’t we all like to know that someone is thinking of us?

  5. marsha57 says:

    I think it’s wonderful you and your siblings were able to travel to see your Aunt Terry! I’m sure there was lots of laughter and maybe a few years!

    Now you have me really thinking! We downsized this summer big time into a one story condo as my husband fell down the stairs at the last place (during Covid) and broke his ankle. He had already broken the other ankle a few years before. This caused him to have arthritis (he says). Anyway, in downsizing, I’ve been thinking I needed to do some of that Swedish Death Cleaning. I still have the cards from my mom’s funeral. I have cards from my students over the years as well as other ephemera from them. Do any of these things mean anything to my kids? Nope! Not at all. So, that’s my conundrum. On top of the fact I have no place to store them, am I just creating more stuff for my kids to toss when I’m no more? But, on the other hand, I have these wonderful memories I want to preserve (while I still can). I wish I had been as smart as you and journaled the wonderful trips we’ve taken. You can bet I’m going to do it now. I need to figure out how I can do that and keep doing it. I’m like Eleanor…I start. I stop. I start. I stop.

  6. Ann R says:

    I bought a six pack of valentine cards last week to send out this year. I have to do this tomorrow, thanks for guilting/reminding me!

  7. Marze says:

    Catherine, in a few weeks I will go to FL for a visit with my 2 sisters and my brother. And like you, I hope our youngest brother will be looking down on our gathering and be happy to see us all together. I cherish these visits with my sibs. We live in distant points on the continent: LA, Ohio, FL, and RI. So happy for you all!

  8. Gee, I enjoy your blogs. I need WW also But don’t know if I can do it. But I do or did keep records of my travels. I usually buy a journal for a trip. How did you get those photos into your journal. Do you have a colored printer? Loved it. You did cost me an arm and a leg in cards. I’m ashamed to say I have not been sending out cards and I should. I think a thank you from the heart is the best thank you. So you inspired me to buy some lovely letter press cards to send out. Thanks for the reminder that texts just aren’t the same. PS I love your new look. It’s very youthful.

  9. Susan D says:

    I first kept a journal when I went to California in 1980 and again in 1999 when I went to New York. When I met my husband in 2000 I started again and have journaled every holiday since then (lots). Lots of wonderful memories and also a good reference. Today hardly anyone writes thank you notes and it’s amazing how many people don’t even say thank you. So sad.
    Keep journaling and blogging, we love you and THANK YOU…..
    Susan D

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