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25 Years and Fanciful London Doors



Posted by on Nov 17, 2012 | 6 comments

Based on how old I feel, to be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary I must've gotten married when I was 13.  In fact, if it wasn't the case the year following my silver anniversary I'll be celebrating my golden birthiversary, I'd swear it.

In lieu of exchanging gifts (and to take advantage of the closeish proximity of living in Germany), my husband and I decided to make memories.  In London.

I had no idea how much I'd love it.

London Door Collage

I know for many people, London is at the top of their Travel Wish List; but for some reason, it wasn't on mine.  I'm not a Royal watcher, I didn't get up at dark-thirty for Kate and William's wedding (though I have to admit I watched Di's and Charles' back in the day), and I couldn't have cared less about seeing Big Ben or Westminster Abbey or the Tower Bridge.

What the heck was wrong with me?  It was frickinfrackin spectacular!

It only took a walk a few hundred yards from our hotel and I was smitten–London's Natural History Museum was ~that close~ followed by the Victoria and Albert then Hyde Park and Harrod's and Piccadilly Circus AND OHMYWORD WHYohWHY had I not been doing everything I could to get there?!

Ignorance, in this case, was not so bliss.  It was kinda stupid.

Anyways, in upcoming posts I'll share more of our sights, but for now a series of doors on a solitary street, somewhere between King's Cross Station (where Harry Potter would crash through Platform 9¾ to catch his train to Hogwarts) and the British Museum.  I was drawn to their color and whimsey, not just in the painting of wood but also in the patterned tiles leading to entry.  


Black door in London

Sometimes basic black isn't basic at all.


Coral door in London

I absolutely LOVE the tile in this one, complimenting the coral door and avocado trim. And the yellow leaves need to remain there all year!

Federal blue door in London

Gray blue door in London

Checkerboard tile makes me wanna sit and play. Simple and striking.

Red door in london

Isn't it amazing how a subtle rotation of the squares turns this from checkerboard to houndstooth? J'adore!

Sage green door in London

Understated color; overstated tile or just right?


Yellow Door in London

They've got sunshine…on a cloudy day…


Green Door in London

Silver door in london

This one conjured thoughts of Tin Man. It almost scared me as much as flying monkeys.

black double door in london

Again, basic and black and OH so beautiful!

Thanks to my friend Lisa for inspiring me to share something as simple as this.  The doors she photographed are much more diverse, likely because they weren't all located on the same street!  

If you have a favorite, shout it out in comments!

I'm curious if one is more popular than the others.

Wanna guess what mine is? 


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Burgfest ~ a SPECTACULAR Bavarian Castle Festival



Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 | 8 comments

Burghausen Castle - Bavara - picture by Robin Dance

I’ve taken to calling her Mayberry, this place that has gentled her way into my heart.

There’s no Andy or Barney but it’s small town and slow and her people simmer friendly and open. I know when it’s time to go for good, she’ll hold back a sliver of my heart.  How could that not happen when you live in the place fairytales are born?

Burghausen is home to the longest castle in the world, so it makes perfect sense to have a party that goes on for days.  And based on the crowds and revelry, I think every one of her 19,000 residents showed up or somehow took part in Burgfest 2012, a Renaissance Festival of Epic Proportion.

Children playing drums at Burgfest Castle festival


Burghausen Castle Festival processional

Burgfest 2012 ~ Dancing and music


Burgfest is sensory feast.

Festival eats and drinks, of course, but the scents, sights, sounds and tactile experience filled me to the overflow.  Imagine men, women and children celebrating their heritage fully committed with wild abandon.  In a storehouse of memory, this one dazzles me dizzy.

Burgfest 2012 ~ Drum processional


Steckerfische ~ literal fish (on) sticks!!

Food at Burgfest

Burgfest foods, grilled meats and sausages

Peasants at Burgfest gathering flowers

Renaissance Festival family


Their commitment to authenticity is remarkable, a romantic depiction of Medieval times.  Puppet shows, live entertainment, reenactments…all made me long to understand the language.  Then again, I understood enough.


Burgfest Castle Festival

Hand-cranked swing at Burgfest Castle Festival

Fruit and vegetable cart at Burgfest



Children of all ages had a difficult choice to make:  what festival novelties to take home.

Wooden clogs at Burgfest

Armor helmets, Renaissance Festival

Swords at Burgfest Castle Festival

Bows and arrows, Renaissance Festival (Burghausen Castle Festival)


It was all I could do not to buy Renaissance clothing (or a COOL bow and arrow)–you know me and my propensity for wearing princess dresses…. If only I had known I needed cash!  (After the fact, I realized I could have gotten a deal on period dress at Amazon.  Le sigh….)

I’ve never considered going to a Renaissance Festival before, but if they’re anything like Burghausen’s Castle Festival, attendance is just a matter of time (DO tell if you’ve been to one yourself).

Have you subscribed to blog updates yet to follow this series?  Tomorrow I’ll complete my recap of Burgfest with my favorite discovery of the day:  the thing squeezed my heart so tight I can still feel the hug months later….

Amazon affiliate links used.


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My sister & the Traveling Red Dress ~ Part 3 (Finally, the pictures!)



Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 | 27 comments

Who knew sweet Katie Couric was a THIEF? She STOLE the TRD from me!  (Part one)

A sister's tale aka Big Sisters are Bossy!  (Part two)

I have no idea how many women have worn and been photographed in the original Traveling Red Dress, but their dress sizes range from 6 to 18 or so. Some would say that's the magic of the dress….

But I don't buy it.


Traveling Red Dress in Europe.

July, 2012, Burghausen Castle. The Traveling Red Dress gets the royal treatment!

I call it determination.




I have no idea how long I carried the dress like this before my sister noticed I was flashing everyone behind me. The only way I was able to hold my head up and keep going was I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE UNTIL WE GOT HOME AND I SAW THE PICTURES!

How else do you explain enduring two hours of my sister bossing me around while I simultaneously sucked in stomach and back fat, tugged the dress up to hide padding and bra, and carefully carried the dress's train so as not to flash my turquoise underwear at ALL THE PEOPLE STARING AT THE LADY IN THE SHOCKINGLY RED GOWN.  

Grueling work, people.  I no longer snort with disdain when a model whines about how hard her work is; I give her a sympathetic nod.  Or I would if I ever actually heard a model whining.

The magic of the red dress isn't that it's one size fits most; its magic is what happens to the wearer when she puts it on.

It is as unique for each woman as her own thumbprint, but I'm inclined to think for all of us it represents much more than meets the eye.

* * * * * * *

I'll be 50 next year.


I've never dreaded milestone birthdays or getting older; realizing how young my mother was when she lost her battle with cancer I'm thankful for each year!  The year I turned 38–the age she was when she died–something happened inside of me: My perspective shifted.  No longer was growing older something that happened to me; it was the price I had the privilege of paying to enjoy life.

But 50 is a Big One and let's just say I'm a w a r e.  

So.  The Traveling Red Dress…

For me it was a matter of a few wonderful things ~ 

Simple j'oie de vivre.  





Discovering I have more wrinkles than I realized but being pleasantly surprised not to mind them; I decided they're simply the wake of my smile :).



Seeing myself through my sister's eyes.  

traveling red dress

"Put your hair up!" my sister demanded. So I did–no mirror, no help, just twist and clip. Good gravy, if I had tried to do this at home, it would've taken forever and looked like crap. I was shocked to see it turned out as well as my sister insisted it did.


Being brave and comfortable…and a little flamboyant in my 49-year-old skin.  



Traveling Red Dress

This is my daughter's favorite so I had to include it. It was funny to see which pictures were favorites of my family's (especially the ones that I didn't care for).


As I've shared before, my Word for 2012 is Adventure; putting on this dress and wearing it in public certainly made for a fun one.  That's a whole 'nother story in and of itself–something happened that has never happened to me before!

I hope you'll make a new entry for your bucket list that includes a Princess Dress; and that you wear it some place special and have someone you love or trust capture the moment for you.  You'll thank me, I promise.

Who knows–maybe Katie Couric will hear about it and beg you to be on her show….

* * * * * * *

The Katie Couric Show is offering viewers a red dress giveaway–click for details!




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A modern-day fairytale: My Sister, Katie Couric and the Traveling Red Dress



Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 | 9 comments

close up of Traveling Red Dress________________________________________________________________

Jenny Lawson's Traveling Red Dress

I'm cracking up after she commanded me to "Wink!"  Now those pictures are FUNNY because, news to me, I look like a circus freak when I wink…

My sister took a thousand pictures(1) of me last week…

and I can't decide if she loves me that much or just hates me.  Have you ever had to sift through a thousand pictures of yourself and choose a handful of favorites?  It's painful at times and narcissistically(2) sickening.

But I'm ahead of myself…I need to back up a bit ~

Over two years ago Jenny, a long-time blogging friend,(2) began a ballgown-revolution when she published The Traveling Red Dress, a blogpost celebrating women, joie de vivre and carpe-ing the heck out of diem.  It resonated with me because I wholeheartedly believe every girl needs a Princess Dress and had written about it just a few months earlier. 

Jenny's following is tall, wide and deep, and soon the Traveling Red Dress became legend.  It single-handedly almost broke Twitter one night when good people of generous spirit joined hands, offering free photographic service for those who'd wear a red dress, or buying and giving away red dresses to those who needed a smattering of pixie dust.  

Twirling in the Traveling Red DressThe Traveling Red Dress is magical–whatever you need it to be it is.

It is reckoning force, a whirlwind of fire and tulle.   

Eight months later, Jenny (aka The Bloggess if you haven't yet been introduced…a loveable, wickedly-brilliant and creatively-expletive writer) followed her first TRD post with another(5) and by then its story had even caught the eye of Forbes.

* * * * * *

When I unpacked after arriving in Germany, I realized I had forgotten to bring my Princess Dress.  

An upside to living between two countries, not being able to speak the language, and starting out a fraidy cat was our anticipated travel within Europe.  With basic expenses covered through my husband's employer (i.e., airfare to Germany for starters), we planned to visit as many places as possible while on the continent.  

I dreamed of traveling to cities I had only read about or seen in the movies.  

Since finances aren't unlimited we'd have to pick and choose. But s t i l l –Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic were within driving distance; a short flight or longer drive, and France and London made the cut.  

Sugar plum visions stirred imagination–twirling in my Princess Dress in front of the Eiffel Tower, riding a gondola in Venice's Grand Canal…but mostly walking the grounds of my neighborhood castle.

Then I remembered the Traveling Red Dress.

I emailed Jenny to see if the possibility existed to bring it on a European vacation, explaining I would be in the States two months and could bring it (and my Princess Dress) back on the return trip. 

She clapped her hands and squealed, "I likey!"

And then I wrote the Queen of Spain who graciously dropped it in the mail to me.

Which sounds absolutely crazy but is 100% true(4).

* * * * * * * * * *

Then one day Katie Couric decided to create her own TV show.  

THE Katie Couric I had spent years of mornings with after the birth of my first baby, right after her temporary Today Show gig became permanent.  I remember when her second daughter was born, then when she lost her husband to colon cancer…and how brave and strong and influential she was following his death, leading the way to early screenings and making a "colonoscopy" not quite so scary.

I thought about her when I had my own.

Katie likes to surround herself with smart women, so she agreed to speak at BlogHer this year.  Four thousand amazing women, each with a personal sphere of influence that collectively reaches millions of people.   

I'm so sad I won't be there to hear her in person; I've got a date in Paris instead…. I've got a date with Paris instead…!

But Katie had heard about the Traveling Red Dress, though.  And she decided she needed it more than me…

…but not before my sister took 1,000 pictures.

To be continued….


: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 

(1)  Oh, how I wish I were exaggerating….

(2)  I see no reason why I can't adverb narcissistic AND verb adverb.

(3)  Jenny Lawson, recently turned best-selling author of "Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)."

(4)  Jenny didn't actually clap and say "I likey" but she liked the idea.  The Queen of Spain, however, did send me the dress.  Mocha Momma had sent it to her….

(5)  The Bloggess is rated NC-17 for content and language but not nudity.  Yet.  You've been warned. 


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~ Join Me! ~ A FUN cell phone photo prompt for July: #Instafaves



Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 | 6 comments


I hope YOU'LL join in!!

Like many of you, my cell phone is an extension of my hand; not because I'm particularly talky, texty or twittery, but because I never know when a photo op will present itself.  While it's important to savor those special moments you never see coming, for someone as visual as me, I'm thankful there's a way to capture them in a photo to enjoy again later.

That's one of the reasons I think Instagram caught on so quickly–following family and friends, we're able to celebrate those special moments with those we love and care about…and sometimes see absolutely magical photography.

I'm a fan of writing and photo prompts.  Sometimes, a stated theme is just the thing I need to free the most stubborn of writer's block.  Where photography is concerned, well, I just love beautifully composed and captured pictures.  And both types of prompts allow me to consider other points of views and perspectives along the same idea.

I love that.

Recently I enjoyed instagram photo prompts by Karen Walrond/Chookooloonks' (#instacamp) and Leigh Standley/Curly Girl Designs (scavenger hunts); and whenever I can, I join Lisa Jo for Five Minute Fridays.  Even though I usually write for 10-15 minutes, for me that IS fast, furious, and a means to complete a thought in one sitting (not how I typically write ~ smile ~).

Another wildly fun photo prompt is  [this month's]PhotoADay by FatMumSlim; she provides a monthly list of daily categories and participants tag their pictures so those who are interested can search the day's theme.  To see another's interpretation of the theme helps me to become a better photographer, to see with new eyes.

Often I capture a picture that doesn't happen to fit any category or photo prompt, but it's one I'd like share because IT'S SIX SHADES OF AWESOME.  Like this one– 

Munich Subway

Plain train, no automobiles….

The color, the leading lines, the movement, the POV–EVERYthing about this picture makes me happy!  

Which is why I'm throwing out a weekly photo prompt for those who would like to join me:  #Instafaves

For anyone with a Droid or iPhone, throughout the week simply tag your instagram photos with #Instafaves; on Fridays I'll publish some of my favorites from the thread.  Also, compose a post with your top faves on your blog or Facebook page and then link it here to share with others.  Easy peasy, right?

Holla if you have questions, but for now will you help spread the word?  Start tagging your pictures with #instafaves (be sure to add the "s") and I cannot WAIT to see YOUR favorites!  

Here's a smaller graphic if you'd like to include it in a post, FB update or your sidebar.  And THANK YOU!!!  


Here's the code to copy and embed, sidebar sized:

<a style="display: inline;" title="Instafaves by Robin Dance" href="" target="_self"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Rsz_waterlily-instagram" src="" border="0" alt="Rsz_waterlily-instagram" /></a>


Or a larger size for a post:

Instafaves with Robin Dance


<a style="display: inline;" title="Instafaves with Robin Dance" href="" target="_self"><img style="width: 425px;" title="Instafaves with Robin Dance" src="" alt="Instafaves with Robin Dance" /></a>


Hope you'll join in beginning this Friday!!

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She was born to be wild…



Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 |

…and she's the one that got away.



April, 2012.  Near Regensburg, Bavaria, in a centuries-old park.  Ellie and Walter were kind enough to share details of their visit there in words and pictures.  Walter captured a delightful story in this image…it made me smile as soon as I saw it.  Be sure to click on the picture to see it larger–you can better see the large tulip bed from which this little maverick escaped!


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