Words from my heart…

To me, one of the worst things in life is knowing you have hurt a friend’s feelings. It appears that I have done just that recently.
I felt the need to share this in case anyone else was feeling upset by my actions.

A dear friend wrote to me and shared that she was hurt because she and her husband were not invited to Bill’s birthday dinner.
Maybe there are others of you out there who feel the same way?
Luckily for me, this friend came to me and spoke her mind so I could clarify things.

Let me start by saying that Bill did NOT want a party. And he hates surprises! However, I wanted to do something special for him as it was his 50th.
I took him away for the weekend and hired a private room so we could have a surprise birthday dinner for him.
I had to make an executive decision on numbers guest-wise as the location was expensive and we were limited for space.
I was absolutely delighted when all of Bill’s brothers and their spouses wrote to me and said they wished to attend the event.
Bill’s Mum also flew in from NC to be there.

There were a lot of people I would have liked to have invited. We know a lot of amazing and special people, and Bill is much-loved by many.
And in return, we love a lot of wonderful people.
However, I was limited to a certain number of guests.

Please know it was not my intention to leave anyone out. There was no hidden agenda or bad feelings.
I would never want to hurt anyone’s heart.
I only wanted to do something good for Bill… a small celebration of his turning 50.

There are many of you out there that I would have loved to have come to this event, but please know it wasn’t a big party and I wanted to keep it as intimate as possible, because I know that is what Bill likes.

I hope you all understand my predicament and where my heart is.
Please reach out to me if I have offended any of you at all. I will listen with an open mind and heart.

The Opera Garnier, meeting Michi and Ramiro, and Montmartre!

Opera Garnier

Opera Garnier

So stunning inside... real gold and marble

So stunning inside… real gold and marble




Michaela, my dear friend from Austria

Michaela, my dear friend from Austria

With my BFFs, Ramiro and Michi

With my BFFs, Ramiro and Michi

Opera Garnier

Opera Garnier


Dinner at La Poissonerie

Dinner at La Poissonerie


Doors of the Notre Dame

Doors of the Notre Dame

Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge!


Van Gogh's pad in Montmartre

Van Gogh’s pad in Montmartre

The view from Montmartre... you can see the Opera House with its gold roof in the distance

The view from Montmartre… you can see the Opera House with its gold roof in the distance

One of two remaining original windmills in Montmartre

One of two remaining original windmills in Montmartre

The Night Fox... a legendary guy who could walk through walls, but got stuck one day....

The Night Fox… a legendary guy who could walk through walls, but got stuck one day….

Montmartre... Mountain of the Martyrs

Montmartre… Mountain of the Martyrs

Beautiful gardens near apartments

Beautiful gardens near apartments




Lapin Agile

Lapin Agile

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur


The Wall of Love in Montmartre

The Wall of Love in Montmartre



The holidays are coming!

…and I haven’t posted in ages!

October was a funny old month. It was a month of feeling pretty blue. I am glad to say I have since picked myself up, dusted myself off, and am back on track again.

The end of October brought the loss of a dear friend of ours. Herb O’Brien was an amazing man who was like a father and mentor to Bill. It’s so sad to think he is gone and we won’t see him again. We loved him very much and we love his family. We flew up to Seattle the first week in November to attend his memorial service. It was held at his beloved Radar. It was a very touching affair and it was so good to see old friends. I am so grateful that I was able to go and I am very thankful to my lovely co-workers at The Bar Method for covering my classes so I could go and support Bill and Herb’s family.




We enjoyed a lovely weekend with one of my dearest friends, Jenn, last weekend. It was her birthday and so she came to stay with us for a couple of days. We went to Epcot for the day on Saturday and had a wonderful time! She is so easy to be with and Gwennie adores her too!



I had my evaluation with Karen at The Bar Method last week. It went well and was a positive experience! I am really looking forward to the future! I feel so lucky to be doing a job that I love!

Gwennie has had a busy week what with a Thanksgiving Pow Wow with her Kindergarten and The Nutcracker ballet recital! Such precious memories!






Now we are gearing up to the Thanksgiving celebrations which we will be hosting at our house.

My Mum arrives on Monday! Can’t wait to have her here for 2 weeks!

A very happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I am so thankful for my amazing family, for dear friends, a job that I love, and good health!


A week (or two) in September

I have been itching to write a post for a while now but life just gets in the way! I have had so many topics in my head depending on the day and my mood.
I guess now will be a mish-mash of thoughts and happenings!

What’s going on?

Spent a lovely mini-weekend with my beloved Bar Method Babes.
Karen (the boss from heaven) treated us all to a retreat at an idyllic location in New Smyrna Beach in honour of our 1 year anniversary of the Winter Park location.
We all met up at the house, which was tucked away up a country lane surrounded by beautiful fields, after lunch on Saturday.
We took part in some team building exercises, which were a lot of fun.
Karen, generous as ALWAYS, gave each of us a gift of a framed group pictures and she had made hilarious Paper Plate Awards for each and every one of us.
Mine was: Most Likely to Get Anyone to Do Anything Just by Opening Her Mouth!
Then it was time to get our fun on! Trish had made a wonderful welcome cocktail with Malibu and Pineapple Juice (and other special secret Trish ingredients!!!!). It was perfect!
Then the wine bottles were cracked open. We all made pizza together. Ellen was our Pro Pizza Maker… she had us all in fits as she rolled and flipped and spun the dough around like a true Italian!
I have the most beautiful memories of this amazing group of women, each so different in looks, style, background, and personality, as they all came together and just laughed and laughed and laughed.
I have some great videos of our weekend, which I won’t share here… anyone who wasn’t there probably wouldn’t truly “get it” anyway… but for us girls, it was a great memory to keep and we all said how much we rolled around just watching the footage again.
We played a game into the wee hours…. Ellen brought it and I forget the name, but it was something like “Guesstures”… a type of Charades. It was absolutely raucous and hilarious!
We all cozied up and slept a little before congregating in the kitchen once more for breakfast and more giggles.
It was a great bonding experience and we really missed the ladies who were not able to make it… Kendra, Kelly, Morgan, Fionaaaaaaa, and Suzanne.
A huge thanks to Karen for making it all happen. Once gain, I am blown away by this amazing family that I am so lucky to be a part of.

The Bar Method Winter Park 1 Year Anniversary Retreat

Talking of families, I want to give kudos to my darling husband, who still amazes me every day with his supportive nature and actions.
Bill held the fort whilst I went away for a night. As typical as life is in throwing its curve-balls, his shop was broken into on Saturday night.
Thankfully our BFF James was in town staying at our house and so he watched Gwennie whilst Bill drove in to town to meet with the Sheriff.
Really, really fortunate, else it would have been an even more difficult situation for Bill.

I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such good people. Bill has just been amazing with my new work commitments.
Obviously, as the owner of a successful business, he is the bread-winner in the family. For me to work, it had to fit around his schedule.
However, he has been so kind, supportive, and helpful to me. It has been a transition to go from stay-at-home Mum to back-in-the-workforce Mum.
We live out in the sticks and to get G to school and go to work means driving around 60 miles a day. I get up at 5am most days during the week.
I spend about 2 hours in my car every day. Sometimes more.
I have to admit, I was feeling a little burned out last week.
Even though he works all hours, Bill immediately jumped in and offered to take G to school an extra couple of mornings this week so that I could have an extra hour or so in bed.
I appreciate it so much… it truly is the little things that mean so much. I am so lucky to have such a great husband/friend.
He has thrown himself into his new workout regime and has spent 4 mornings this week working out with his TRX personal trainer.
I’m really proud of him, because I know he does not love working out!

Bill & Gwennie at Daddy Daughter Donut Day

Gwennie continues to enjoy her new school life.
I did laugh this week as she came home informing me that her class is raising money to adopt a manatee.
She thought that adopting a manatee meant that said manatee would come and live with us… in our pool… or pond across the road.
I had to explain that the money raised to “adopt” the manatee would just go towards caring for him in his natural habitat.
Cue sweet disappointed face!
She is all fired up to go back to Sea World and visit the manatees there though.
I am looking forward to less humid days so that we can get back into visiting some of the parks on a weekend. So much fun!

Dear Kate is still the matriarch of the house. I hate watching her start to struggle with her stiff back legs.
She doesn’t seem to be in pain, but it is an effort for her to get up after being laid down for a while.
I loathe that she is getting older. She will be 13 at Christmas. I wish we could press the pause button.

Sweet old lady, Kate!

Vegas Baby!!!!

We had a truly wonderful time in Vegas. Talk about getting spoilt thoroughly by my amazing husband… and some other very special folks! I am such a lucky girl!

(Just to let you know you can click on the photos below to see them larger!)

We drove up to North Carolina with Kate on Saturday. It is such a long drive and I was so glad that we hadn’t done that with Gwennie in tow. We already have the “Are we there yet? This taking for aaaaages!” after just 40 minutes. Kate, on the other hand, is a trooper and slept the whole way up albeit for a few potty breaks.

I couldn’t get over how tall Gwennie looked when we arrived. She came running out of the house and I was taken aback! I swear she grew a few inches in just a week. Ginny had made a lovely dinner for us… Mexican pizza followed by delicious cupcakes from a new bakery in town, Oh My Cupcake!

With my bright little spark!

“Look at Miss Kate up there!!!”

Then it was time for an earlyish night as Bill and I had to be up at the crack of dawn again to get to Asheville airport.

Picked up in a limo at Las Vegas airport!

We arrived safely in Las Vegas and grabbed a bite to eat and a drink whilst we waited on our suite to be ready. We then just chilled for a bit and settled into our room before heading out to watch Zumanity at New York New York. Our friends Lourdes and Gerald were due to join us in Sin City for a few days, so we met up with them before the show and had a drink. It was so good to see them!

Me, Gerald, and Lourdes

Me and my handsome man!

Zumanity didn’t disappoint. It truly is such an amazing and fun show! We had a blast. Then it was off for a special birthday treat… to Joel Robuchon for a “quiet romantic” dinner with my hubby. I had been dying to go there for years! I knew something was amiss when we arrived the hostess said, “Hallo Mr Porter. Party of 5?” I knew Lourdes and Gerald weren’t eating with us so was a tad confused! We took a seat and waited in the reception area and shortly I noticed BFF, James McKeown, popping into my vision, followed by his lovely girlfriend, Laura. Bill went out to get them and told them the game was up… I had spotted them… and who should walk in with them but my Dad also!!!! Such a lovely surprise! I was just so thrilled to see them all! We enjoyed an amazing meal thanks to my darling Bill. It really was out of this world. The restaurant itself was stunning and very intimate. Such a fabulous treat!

Bill, me, Dad, Laura, and James

My beautiful salmon

Dad completely overwhelmed by his dessert!

Me and my love!

Monday morning brought an hour or so by the pool with my Dad. Then we went to meet up with Laura and James at Cesar’s Palace. We had lunch at Beijing Noodle No. 9… very kindly treated by James’ friend, Bonnie, who is the hospitality manager at the hotel. We enjoyed a lovely feast of Singapore noodles and various chow meins.

Me, Bill, James and Laura

Ready for lunch!

Bill and I then took Dad to see the Bellagio and experience its beautiful conservatory and Chihuly glass sculptures.

Chihuly glass

Bellagio Conservatory

The hotel lobby

In the evening, we all met up (introduced Lourdes and Gerald to James and Laura) and hit the show called Le Reve at the Wynn. It really is another of my faves and is stunningly gorgeous.

The Wynn Lobby!

Gorgeous couple!

Ready for the show!

We all headed to Gordon Ramsey’s Steak in Paris for dinner afterwards. We had a semi-private room to ourselves that was fab. I had Gordon’s signature Beef Wellington, which was to-die-for! So tender! Much laughter and hilarity, of course!

Beautiful Lourdes got lucky and won $2.75!!!!

Tuesday brought rainy skies, so Dad and I hit the Planet Hollywood Miracle Mile of Shops whilst Bill did some work at the hotel.

We then met up with Laura and James for lunch at the Wynn, at one of my fave lunch hangouts, The Terrace Pointe Café. We had to then sadly say goodbye to them as they were flying home that evening to the UK.

James and Laura gave me a gorgeous Pandora bracelet for my birthday!

Dad, Bill, and I walked back through Cesar’s Palace Forum of Shops. We got Gwennie a couple of cute outfits from Gap Kids.

In the evening, we met up with Lourdes and Gerald at Nobu at the Hard Rock Café. We had the most wonderful meal. Gerald and our waiter did an outstanding job of picking out various plates and dishes a la Tapas style. The flavours and quality of food was completely out of this world. I think we all agreed it was out best meal of the trip. So much fun! We wished James and Laura could have experienced it with us too.

In the MGM Signature Lobby

Oh Gerald!!!! I’m going to name my rock after you!

We kept our rocks as a memento of a fab night!

Happy birthday!!!!

Wednesday brought my big 4.0.
Crazy… I might look it, but I still feel 28 on the inside! Well, okay, maybe 32! LOL!

Dad, Bill, and I headed off to the airport and took a Maverick helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun.

Enjoying one of the seven wonders!

Looking all official!

Ready to take off!

Back in 2003, when Bill and I first went to Vegas, we took a helicopter ride to the Canyon and I thought he was going to propose to me. He didn’t until a good year later… but we always joked about it. This time, he grabbed my hand once we were out of “the bird” and proposed to me once again, finishing with “This time I brought a ring!” He proceeded to give me the most gorgeous amethyst David Yurman ring. It is absolutely stunning! Talk about being a spoilt lady! Dad bought me lovely pair of amethyst earrings to go with it. I was so delighted!


My beautiful ring and earrings!

Thanks Dad!


I love it!!!!!

The Grand Canyon

We enjoyed a glass of champagne, took some photos, and all too soon it was time to fly back to the city.

Bill and I met up with Lourdes and Gerald for lunch by the pool at their hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. What a gorgeous place! We had a fabulous lunch and some wicked cocktails! Then we had to say goodbye to the dear O’Connors as they were flying back to Orlando that afternoon.

I then hit the pool with Dad for a bit before heading up to get ready for the evening.

I came back to our hotel room to find a bottle of champagne and dish of gorgeous chocolate-covered strawberries from my beautiful boss (and friend!) Karen! I was so touched! She is so thoughtful!

Thank you, Kawen!!!!

Bill and I went to see the show Absinthe at Cesar’s Palace. Wow! What a show! So different, funny, intimate, spectacular, and close-to-the-edge! Definitely an experience! We loved it! Not for the faint of heart, that is to be certain!

Afterwards we met up with Dad at Emeril’s in the MGM for dinner.
What a full and fabulous day!

Thank you for the beautiful dress, Lourdes and Gerald!

Thursday was our day to catch our breath a bit! We had a leisurely breakfast and then Dad and I cooked out by the pool for most of the day!

In the evening, we went over to the City Center and showed Dad Crystals and the Aria Hotel. We then met up with Bill’s friend and former employee, Brian and his sweet girlfriend, Monique, at the Todd English Pub. We had a wonderful meal (again!)… Dad and I were excited to share oysters and introduce Monique to them! We then had a walk through the Cosmopolitan and had a drink at the Chandelier Bar, which was a lot fun.

With Brian and Monique

Crazy Vegas nights!

The boys at Crystals

At the Cosmopolitan

Friday morning came all too soon and Bill & I were up at the crack of dawn to catch our flight back to Asheville.

What a truly amazing five days! I can’t thank Bill enough for all that he did to make it so very special for me… and so much gratitude to my Dad, James, Laura, Lourdes, and Gerald for joining us and making it that much more fantastic!

Happy girly!

As you can imagine, I am feeling a bit flat now!!!!!

It was wonderful to get back and see Gwennie and Kate again… and Ginny too, of course! We were so grateful to Ginny for looking after our girls for us!

Our little flower!