Back to the grind…or not?!

Happy 2012 to you and a huge welcome to all our new readers!

I’ve stretched out the holidays longer than I think the calendar intended. 🙂

I know it’s time to get back to work and start the New Year.  But…

Instead, would you like to squeeze out a few more delightful moments of the season and enjoy a little vacation together?!

I’d love to take you with Rob and me on our trip last week to Key West, Florida.

Wanna go?  You don’t need to do a thing!  Just settle in, close your eyes and take a big, deep breathe.

Now imagine … the sun is shining and a buttery breeze is warming your face as you arrive in the southernmost city in the U.S. – Key West.

First stop is our 5th floor hotel room at The Reach Resort and a long pause  to soak in the view. Can you even believe this is real life?!

In Key West, the scene is both gloriously gorgeous – and comically kitschy.  Can you hear the chickens clucking and roosters crowing?  Watch out! They roam free and dart about everywhere you walk.

Now, for a little breakfast.  Blue Heaven is the most popular morning restaurant but today we are going to La Creperie.  You know my rule that I never eat anything bigger than my head – but I make an exception – and I recommend you do, too – when it comes to La Creperie’s Nutella and banana crepe. YUM!

Did you read novels by the writer-of-all-writers Ernest Hemingway in high school or college?  He was quite a larger-than-life character in Key West and we are headed over to his house now.

He had several homes including this famous one in Key West.

For a man who went through four wives, Hemingway had remarkable staying power when it came to his profession.  A Nobel Prize winner for literature, he wrote every day from 6 a.m. to noon and then went fishing for the rest of the day.  Every single day!

The house is beautiful inside as we walk through each of its elegant rooms.

Unlike any other monument to a famous, dead person, aren’t you surprised how different this tribute to him feels?  It’s because it’s very alive! There are 43 cats prowling about – all descendants of Hemingway’s beloved cats – living here! (Check out one of Hemingway’s famous six-toed kitties hiding under the vanity off of his bedroom.)

Hemingway was a tall, large man and back in his day (he died in 1961) king-sized beds weren’t even introduced until 1958.  So he ingeniously lashed together two twin-sized beds to make this one below.  The headboard is a Spanish gate.  His bedroom remains as he left it. (The silky fellow curled up on his bed below is probably his great-great-great-great grandkitty.)

Now, for a really magical experience, we are entering the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.  What an amazing surprise to have hundreds of these beautiful creatures flutter toward you and even land on your shoulders or arms!

Rob took some of the most magnificent pictures of his photography career here. Doesn’t it feel like you’re in a scene from a Harry Potter movie with all butterflies coming at you?

I’m starting to get a little tired.  How about you?

I’m thinking it’s now time to prop up your weary feet in a hammock and rest a while.  Let the soft ocean breeze gently rock you while you gaze out into the ever-changing colors of the blue-green ocean.

Happy and relaxed from your mini-vacation to Key West?  I sure hope so.

So, as you dive into your work, your life and your dreams this year, please know you can always return here for a quick trip to relax.  Five minutes floating away in paradise may change the course of a busy, stressful day!

I loved going on vacation with you — and I look forward to many more fun and joyous occasions  in 2012!

May your year be filled with good health, relaxing days and happy surprises at each turn.