pictures, words, food, adventures and once in a while, something random


Life according to Charlie

You’re not gone… just on another great adventure. ~Christine Sternfels


Today, I picked up Charlie’s ashes and paw print.  First I cried, then smiled, then cried, then smiled.  Passersby were starting to look concerned (or scared).  I finally got myself together, wiping the tears and snot from my face then I started to think about how life is according to how Charlie lived.  Thought I’d share…

According to Charlie…
Life is simple. If you have to think too hard about anything, you’re just making it complicated and your brain cells are dying in vain. Love abundantly and shamelessly.  Family is so precious, never take them for granted.  Lick their faces if they’re mad at you.  If you want friends, be one.  If you don’t have friends, you probably need a bath.  Be grateful.  Be kind.  Live simply.  Want nothing beyond your needs.  Smile, and it’s okay to drool at the same time.  Give without wanting anything in return, maybe a belly rub now and then.  Dream.  Chase other dogs in your dreams.  Dream about chasing other dogs in a dream.  Take long naps.  If you start snoring, tell your boss it’s nasal therapy.  Work hard.  Play harder.  Change happens, go with the flow.  If the kid gives you a tacky Mohawk, she loves you.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, there’s better use for that energy. Cry if you have to.  Laugh out loud (literally… none of that lol text stuff).  Hug.  Sing (or in my case, howl).  Dance.  Be silly.  Have compassion.  Reserve barking for when it is really needed. Wag your tail even when you’re sad.  Don’t be sad too long.  If it doesn’t smell right, don’t lick it.  Not everything is edible.  Be yourself.  Let life teach, then learn.  If you weren’t born to chase squirrels, don’t.  Different strokes for different folks, opinions don’t always have to be shared.  Don’t judge.  Don’t be a bully, it’s dumb.  Be gentle.  You don’t have to chase the ball just because that’s what the other dogs are doing.  Balls can be admired from a distance.  Relax, I’m just smelling your butt… there is no way I’m eating that!  Listen when someone’s talking.  Do no harm.  Don’t hold grudges.  Get along.  I want world peace.  If you have to explain, you probably should have done it.  Be honest.  Be true to yourself and to others.  There is always a bright side.  Look for the good in everyone.  You don’t have to understand everything.  Wealth is not always measured in gold, money or possessions.  Usually it’s how often you get hugs and belly rubs.  Be remembered for the love you gave.  Love.  Love.  Love.  If all else fails, lick their faces.
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I know all dogs go to heaven

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

I miss you_1

At 10:47am yesterday, our sweet boy Charlie drew his last breath.  He would have been twelve this Thursday.

We got him for Danielle’s thirteenth birthday.  She wanted a chocolate Lab so we went to a breeder’s house.  When we got there, there were several little chocos running around and people were there trying to pick the next member of their family.  That’s when we noticed a little tethered box in the corner.  Something was moving under the rags when a head popped out.  He was trying so desperately to uncover himself, but his paws were so big and clumsy.  The breeder told us to make our pick before they were all gone and we asked him, how about the cute one in the box?  He responded “Oh that?  You don’t want that, he’s the runt and I can’t give you papers for him.  You don’t want him”  That’s when we knew, he was ours!

He was three months old and his paws were the size of his head.  He always stumbled and his belly was so big that it dragged on the floor.  We got him a trainer and she came to the house every week.  It took three lessons for us to know, Charlie can’t be trained… he’s so smart he plays dumb so well!  He was sweet, sensitive and very funny.

He loved camping and going for hikes but get this… he hates the water.  Yes he’s a pure bred Hunting Labrador from the Dakotas and does excellent pointing to ducks, but trying to get him in the water was impossible.  He cries when we bathe him, he whines when we take him to the beach but he’ll run around in the shallow water if he thinks we’re chasing each other.  When he realizes he’s wet, he walks around as if he was saying “Ewe…ewe..wet..ewe” carefully trotting his way out of there.  The first time we took him to the river and tried to get him in the water was fun.  It was like playing tug of war.  We were on one end and he was on the other.  He dug his two front legs into the pebbled beach and anchored his butt down and pulled back.  It was funny and it caught everyone’s attention because here was this water dog, afraid to go in.  The drag marks was classic.  Charlie gave in to trick us because as soon as we thought he was going in and stopped pulling, he ran away really fast.

He loved rolling in dirt, freshly cut grass and sand.  He loves to pounce on short girls, get them down to the ground and just lick them.  He was a 90 pound lap dog, oh he loved climbing on my husband’s lap all the time.  It was a challenge pulling him back on road trips because he wanted to be in the front with hubby.  He loved french fries and peanut butter.  One time my husband was eating his pb&j sandwich.  He had the sandwich in his hand, looked away for a second, turned to take another bite and it was gone!  There was Charlie, licking his chops and getting rid of the evidence.  He also loved getting his nails done.  Good thing dogs are color blind, if he knew the kid was putting fuchsia on his toenails, I doubt he would have just sat there and let her… but then again he loved her so much he probably wouldn’t have cared.   It’s fun watching hubby and the kid play catch with him.  They will throw a frisbee or a ball, Charlie will look where it went, then look back at them with an expression on his face as if he was saying ” And you want me to do what with that thing?…” Charlie loved life, but most of all… he loved us and we knew it.

I will miss waking up to big eyes staring back at me after getting a whiff of his stale breath.  I will miss having my morning cup of coffee outside when he does his morning business.  When we watch scary movies, he will sit on the couch, bury his head under the blankets and shake like a baby.  I will miss having to hide my gum or anything minty in a high place because he loves it so much.  One time I was in the hallway passing by my daughter’s room when I saw him in there quietly (as if on stealth mode)  unzipping her back pack to get to her gum.  He even got into my aunt’s luggage and bit into the can of Altoids… that was a bit too much for him because he didn’t finish it.  But no matter how much gum or mint he ate, he always had bad breath!  I will miss his stinky farts, especially when the family is intensely watching a movie… everyone is quiet and concentrated until we all scream “Ewe, Charlie!”.  I will miss making salad because he loved the bottoms of romaine hearts.  I will miss him walking into my office in the middle of the day to rest his head on my lap or nag me with his paws to go outside.  Packing lunch for the kid won’t be the same without him waiting for me to drop something on the floor.  I will miss our therapy sessions where he sits there, paws crossed, listening to me while I complain about the little petty things.  He always made me feel better, with his wise and quiet reassurance that life is so much more than that and everything will be okay.  He was such a gentle giant, I think I’ve only heard him bark at most 4 times in his post puppy life.  But when he barked, he meant business and they were times he was protecting us from squirrels, raccoons and stuff.

I could write a book on our life with him and all the things we’ll miss about him, he was so special.  I will miss you terribly my sweet boy and my heart is hurting so much right now.  You will be in our hearts and thoughts always… we love you Charlie!

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Not just another Friday

WHEN I GROW UP - Copyright Christine SternfelsIt was an ordinary morning.  Everyone got ready for the day like any other Friday.  Dad’s in the shower thinking of his presentation that afternoon, mom’s in the kitchen packing lunch and checking the family’s calendar for the weekend, the kids are half awake rubbing the sleep off their eyes.  Everyone was doing their thing.

Some families sat down for breakfast, others just grabbed something and dashed off to work and some sipped their coffee while the kids worked on their bowls of cereal, then off to school they went.

A few hours into the morning, the phone rings.  Your child’s school is in lock-down.  Someone decided to do a terrible thing and your child’s situation is unclear.  Is she alive?  Did he get hurt?  What’s going on?  Dear God, please let them be ok, please let them be ok.

The lives of families who lost their loved ones that day will never be the same.  Every year, the holidays will be a bitter reminder of their loss.  There are gifts under the tree that will never be opened.  We all know what took place that day and I have no words to describe one terrible act that took 26 lives.  My heart goes out to the town of Sandy Hook.

On day 23 of this series, I want to share with you an opportunity to give.  United Way of Western Connecticut set up an official fund for the families of the victims and the community as a whole: The Sandy Hook School Support Fund will provide support services to families and the community. All donations to this fund will go directly to those affected.



Almost, but not quite

I just wanted to give you an update on my upcoming book “God… is this you being funny?”  I’ve been working on this for months now and between stuff and procrastination – I’m about half way there.  At least now I have a title and I’m toying with some ideas on a cover, like the one I have here.  What do you think?  Does anybody know a cartoon artist that can help me with this cover?

This book is about starting over at any age, in different situations.  It will make you laugh and cry, or at least I hope it does!   I wrote it to check  “Write a book”  off my bucket list while hoping to inspire people in dark places where there seems to be no end to heartache and sadness.  I know what it’s like to feel like you have your own personal cloud hanging over you and I also know how good it feels to overcome the yucky stuff that life throws your way.  Once it’s ready for download, I will let you know.  I’m also still deciding on how to publish… that will be the fun part!  Oh joy!

Tomorrow, I start a new series on random acts of kindness and paying it forward.  Have a great day everyone!  Love & hugs to all!

The little things… day 30


Those who wish to sing always find a song.  ~Proverb

I’m grateful for…
Songs that uplift me and remind me it is a wonderful world, regardless of all the things beyond your control.

I’m letting go of…
Listening to sad and depressing songs… I am so over that.  It helped when I was in high school, when I needed to cry until I ran out of snot!  I need to find more inspiring and positive songs to listen to.

I’d like to end this series with a song, instead of a picture.  My favorite songs in my favorite version.  What should have taken a month, took four months to finish this series.  Life happened is the best way I can describe it.  I know I promised a few weeks ago that I would do better and get back to daily blogging, but that didn’t happen.  Starting tomorrow, I will try again.

I hope you enjoyed the series of gratitude, being thankful for the little things that we take for granted everyday.  Before I jump on to the next series, i will post a few recipes and some photos – then off to the next series… acts of kindness.

Thank you for staying tuned… I love you guys!  Till my next posting, have a wonderful day and I hope you enjoy this song that I dedicate to you!

The little things… day 29


Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.  ~Albert Camus

I’m grateful for…
The beauty of this season, the clear blue skies, crisp cold air and colorful landscapes.    

I’m letting go of…
Dreading the next season  because I know there is beauty to be found in winter.

Whenever fall arrives, it always makes me think of the seasons in my own life.  Just like the leaves, I want to grow old beautifully, colorful and vibrant!

The little things… day 28


A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.  ~Alexander Pope, in Swift, Miscellanies

I’m grateful for…
Quiet Sunday mornings when the dogs and the kid are still asleep and I get to play scrabble with hubby… all the made up words he thinks he’s getting away with… learning how to spell better… finding out I’ve been using certain words in the wrong context.   

I’m letting go of…
Using the excuse that English is my second language… excessive use of my phone to play word games –  I would much rather see hubby’s expression when I get 75 points on scrabble using 2 tiles.   

Scrabble is our favorite word game.  We also love Bananagrams and Boggle.  Sometimes, it takes us four hours to play just one game, yes we use the dictionary and take our time.  Do you like word games too? 

The little things… day 27


Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. ~Henry James

I’m grateful for…
A season that brings longer days and makes lounging a great excuse to enjoy the sun!  

I’m letting go of…
Complaining about the bugs this warm weather brings.  I know, it’s all part of our ecological system but I do find pleasure hearing the zzzt from the bug zapper.

We have one week left in summer, I can’t believe fall is around the corner.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this season, have a great weekend everyone!

The little things… day 26


Memory is a child walking along a seashore.  You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.  ~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

I’m grateful for…
Moments I can reflect upon, that warm my heart and lift my spirits.

I’m letting go of…
Holding on to painful and bitter memories.

I don’t think any of us had a perfect childhood, but some have defined themselves the person they are now; because of it.  A scent, a place, a song… those are triggers you have no control of.  We can’t pick and choose what we remember and how we feel about it, but it’s still up to you to use them in a way that benefits you most. 

Life is what you make of it and that includes how you process what happened to you as a child.  Sometimes even happy memories can make you resentful, if you let them.  I wish I can encapsulate those good feelings and take a dose when needed or stumble upon a time machine in my backyard and go back to those happy moments.  But hey, not all of us want to be Peter Pan because growing up is just as beautiful as childhood. 

The not-so-pleasant memories can give you strength, instead of a cold heart.  It can make you wiser, not rebellious or angry.  It can make you see the difference between good and bad, not a victim.  Then some memories are best left alone in the past.  You don’t have to analyze everything all the time – it’s one of those “it is what it is”.

When I think about the many wonderful moments of my childhood, I smile (or cry, it depends what time of the month).  When I think about the sad moments, I give my self a moment to process it.

My childhood was great with sad moments and I have found “counter memories” to be helpful.  For example, the memory of my grandmother’s passing is sad.  Then I counter that memory of mornings with her watching the sun rise before tending to her garden.  As I work on my collection of counter memories, I cannot believe how many great and wonderful childhood memories I have, for that I am grateful.

What are your happy childhood memories?

The little things… day 25


Out of 86,400 seconds we get each day, I think we can spend 10 of it counting our blessings. ~ Christine Sternfels

I’m grateful for…
Time I am given each and every day.  Time to pray, time for myself, time for my family, time for work, time for leisure and time to do absolutely nothing at all!

I’m letting go of…
Wishing there were more than 24 hours in each day, I would probably be exhausted everyday if that were so.

First of all, I’d like to apologize for reducing my daily blog down to a weekly post.  That is temporary.  I’ve been putting so much time on finding ways to raise funds for my non-profit organization that I’ve forgotten about my love…  pictures and words.  Oh well I guess the kids and hubby too!  In addition to being so focused, I’ve neglected to set aside some time for my family.  Can someone please kick my behind?

Time… It’s the one thing you can’t buy and holds more value than the most expensive possession you’ve ever had.  It’s also what most of us take for granted and should be more mindful of more often.  It isn’t something we can ever get back.  It moves too swiftly, yet not fast enough for others.  We are all given this, how you use it is up to you.  So now, I will take some time away from the computer and spend it with my family, under the stars, in front of the bay and away from my crazy routine… Have a great weekend everyone!

The little things… day 24


An ice cream cone can solve any problem— even if it’s only for a few minutes. ~Anonymous

I’m grateful for…
Yogurt shops that have mastered fat-free and sugar-free ice cream tasting treats!  That I am not lactose intolerant.  Hot summer days, when ice cream seems to be the only solution to cooling down.

I’m letting go of…
Thinking ice cream is just for desert.

Ok, so there are a few people who don’t love ice cream like some of us do, but can you imagine a world without it?  There’s something about eating ice cream that makes me feel like a kid, every lick down to your fingers always brings back some happy childhood memory.  Not to mention how yummy it is!  When was the last time you enjoyed a scoop or two? 

The little things… day 23


I wept because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet.  ~Ancient Persian saying

The quote says what I am grateful for and letting go of.  Simple, but says a lot.

This past weekend, we volunteered to help Child United pack over a hundred over-sized boxes of clothing, shoes, books and toys for kids affected in the recent typhoons that devastated parts of Central Philippines.  These shoes were donated by a child who still wore them, they still fit him.  I was told that one of them was his favorite pair… but he donated them anyway, because he knew another child thousands of miles away (a child he doesn’t even know) needs them more than he does.  I am also thankful for big and kind-hearted kids who do these amazing things.

Look at your shoes, reflect on all the journeys they have been through with you.  Be they sweet or bitter memories, there are always blessings to be counted.

Have a great week everyone.


The little things… day 22


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar,
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

I’m grateful for…
Trails that lead you to breathtaking surprises.  The things you find and learn along the way.  The endorphins that kick in after trekking through a national forest.  The memories you create.

I’m letting go of…
Complaining why we can’t drive to places like this.

This picture was taken at Cape Flattery in Neah Bay, WA, the most northwestern tip in the contiguous US.  There were no enhancements done on this picture taken from my cell phone, and it’s beautiful isn’t it?  There are many wonderful places we’ve yet to find.  Go and find a trail… discover what nature has in store for you.


The little things… day 21


Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really.  ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

I’m grateful for…
Our dogs.  They love unconditionally, don’t judge, lick the stress out of you, comfort you just by being there.  They are the best companions, always look at you admiringly, hand you their paw just to say “Hey, are you doing ok?  I’m here for you.”

I’m letting go of…
Shooing them away when all they want to do is cuddle.  I know he’s a 90 pound labrador, why should I be upset if he thinks he’s a lap dog?  Disconnecting myself when they’re needy.  Ignoring them because tv is more interesting.  Yelling at them after they ate through your kid’s backpack just to get to that stick of gum.

The dog in this picture is Hasha, my brother’s dog.  She passed away a few days ago, she was eleven.  We held her in our arms as she drew her last breath on the cold aluminum table at the vet clinic this past Saturday morning.  She was such a good dog.

Our lives are so busy that we neglect to make an effort to really enjoy our pets.  When they pass away, we can’t help but think of what we could have done better or the time that we will never get to spend with them because they are gone.  We often forget to celebrate their lives and acknowledge the good we’ve done because we grieve over their loss and can’t help but make it about us and our feelings.  But at some point, we need to make it about them and all the good memories, all the wonderful times we spent together.  Never forget they knew you loved them.

My two dogs Charlie and Daisy are still alive.  Charlie’s eleven and Daisy’s nine.  Losing Hasha has made me realize that I need to be a better dog owner.  I need to make more time to enjoy them, while they’re still around.  I know I will grieve when they are gone but I hope to remember to also celebrate their life while we were blessed with them. 

We’ll miss you Hasha.  We’ll miss you girl.


The little things… day 20


You can dance anywhere, even if only in your heart.  ~Author Unknown

I’m grateful for…
The joy I feel when I’m dancing.  The calories I burn when I dance to my favorite tunes (I love disco!) while I’m cleaning the house or cooking and making a mess in the kitchen.  The rhythm and the right foot my husband has developed, now I don’t feel like I’m dancing with a pendulum (I love you honey).

I’m letting go of…
Thinking I’m too old to go out dancing with my girl friends.  The fear of line dancing.  Dreaming that one day I will learn the Argentinian Tango.  Tried it, failed it – I’m sticking to the electric slide.

When was the last time you danced?

The little things… day 19



Life is either a great adventure or nothing.  ~Helen Keller

I’m grateful for…
The adventures I’ve had in my life, across the world especially or in my kitchen.

I’m letting go of…
Over planning some vacations.  I usually have more fun when I just plan the destination and length of stay, instead of scheduling “Must see” attractions every day.

Adventures don’t need to be grand or expensive.  Sometimes it’s as simple as pitching a tent in your backyard, getting everyone dressed as super heroes (yes, including the dogs) and pretending you’re stranded on a planet with no way back to earth as aliens invade it and you’re the only hope to save the human race.  Or pretending you’re James Bond and you and your lady friend have to leave a secret message by tagging a tunnel with purple spray paint.

PS… I don’t condone vandalism, but this picture was screaming adventure to me, don’t you think?

Have a wonderful and adventurous day!

The little things… day 18


If you’re doing your best, you’re not failing.  You only fail if you quit or don’t even try at all because you were too scared to fail. ~ Christine Sternfels

I’m grateful for…
Lessons learned from the many, many failures I’ve succeeded in attaining.  Strength gained from pain I had to endure from all my failures.  Love and support my family continued to give in times of my lowest low.  Some wisdom from having to experience one failure after another.  A chance at a fresh start.

I’m letting go of…
Thinking that finishing last is failing.  Giving too much thought to what people might think if I failed.  Success is too far away because I’ve failed too much.  Being discouraged to get up every time I fall.  Giving in to defeat just because I had a weak moment.

Failure is something that happens, not you.  So get up, brush it off and start all over again… now.

We are now on Facebook!

It took a while for me to decide if I should make a Facebook page for  I finally did it yesterday!  Stop by and “Like” us at

Thank you and have a great day!







The little things… day 17


A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should.  ~Author Unknown

I’m grateful for…
Friends near and far, old and new… and yes, even the divas and drama queens!

I love my girls.  They have prevented me from going crazy, although some of them drive me crazy.  They tell me when I’m being ridiculous without blinking an eye.  They laugh with me, cry with me and celebrate life with me.  They will drink wine and eat chocolates with me even if they’re on a diet!  I am so grateful to have beautiful, wonderful friends in my life.

I’m letting go of…
Conditional friendship.  I know sometimes I expect a little too much from my friends.  Just because I would do almost anything for them, I should never expect that in return.  Working on it… but sometimes my feelings get hurt because I’ve put that expectation on them.

Hug your friends today.  Let them know how much they mean to you.


The little things… day 16


Ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash?  ~Robert Brault 

I’m grateful for…
The use of my legs, allowing me to go for walks.  My daughter, who drags me out on a beautiful day to take a stroll.  My dogs who look at me, begging to be taken out.     

I’m letting go of…
Being too lazy on a beautiful summer day, choosing to stay inside instead of going for a walk. 


It really is amazing how many wonderful discoveries we stumble upon when we venture out on a path, in the woods or a trail. What’s even more amazing is how clear my mind gets after a good walk and how much better my mood and creativity gets.  It has been proven that walking is good for you, but just like eating veggies and healthy treats… I don’t know why it’s such a chore!  Ok, going for a walk now.  See you tomorrow.   

The little things… day 15


The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller 

I’m grateful for…
Inner beauty.  The source of love, compassion, empathy and kindness. 

I’m letting go of…
Judging a book by its cover. 

I’m back and I’ve missed you guys! 

The wedding was beautiful, my daughter was stunning, my new son looked dashing in his tuxedo and everyone had a wonderful time.  Their photographer took over 4,000 (yes-three zeroes) pictures and I don’t know when we’ll be getting the proofs.  I will do a montage when we get them and share that with you.  For now, I must share my favorite picture – which was taken by their dj.

I hope everyone’s having a great summer so far!

The little things… day 14


 Promise little and do much. ~Hebrew Proverb 

I’m grateful for…
The hope a promise can bring, the good ones that were fulfilled, the bad ones that failed, the life  that emerges from well-intended ones.

I’m letting go of…
Making too many promises that I feel is “fixing” the situation at hand.  Promises are like little packages of dynamite, that if not handled properly – it can explode and hurt you and everyone else around it.

My daughter’s getting married next week!  It’s bitter-sweet, but I am so blessed she found a wonderful man who is her best friend and he simply adores her.  In one week, they will be promising their lives to each other and my child will now add “Wife” to the list of who she is. 

One day, she will add “Mom” and I am eager to be “Lola” (This is what Filipinos call their grand mothers).  She promised to have one within four years and I promised to spoil them as soon as they arrive.  So many promises! 

With all the preparation for the festivities and family coming into town, I will not be posting for the remainder of the month.  We Filipinos like to celebrate before, during and after weddings, then I will need to recover for a few days.  I will miss you all but I will be back in August.  I hope you’re all having a great summer so far, take care!

The little things… day 13


 As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.   ~Audrey Hepburn


I’m grateful for…
The use of my hands.  With it, I can hold my husband’s hand when we go for walks… paint my daughter’s toe nails, while she paints mine… make a feast, toast to life and hold a wine glass… unwrap chocolate… caress a baby’s soft cheek… comfort a friend… close a business deal… take pictures… draw… paint… create… give… I can keep going!

I’m letting go of…
Taking my hands for granted and take care of it better.

It’s amazing how much value you find something to be when you think about what it would be like without it.

The little things… day 12


 In a world full of people who couldn’t care less, be someone who couldn’t care more.  ~Author Unknown


I’m grateful for…
Random acts of kindness.  It doesn’t need to cost much to make you feel like a million bucks!   

I’m letting go of…
Trying to figure out “big” ways of helping to make an impact.  It’s the little acts of kindness that amount to something bigger.


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