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On our first full day in Tanzania, we had breakfast and a briefing at Moivaro Lodge, our home for the first two nights of the trip, and then we all piled into a bus for our day at Shanga & Riverhouse, about 20 minutes away.

Kindness About Shanga:

Set under the towering Acacia trees of Tanzania, East Africa, Shanga is a heartwarming project dedicated to supporting and empowering disabled community members. With breaking down obstacles for disabled Tanzanians and a commitment to environmentally sustainable business practises as its core values, Shanga is a for-profit company that raises standards. Now comprised of a bustling workshop, open-air restaurant, and three trendy boutiques, Shanga has grown exponentially from what started with one beaded necklace and a desire to help those in need.

Shanga is simply amazing. People with disabilities, some who might otherwise be tossed away or ignored by society, are empowered through art, and they make some beautiful things on-site using recycled materials. Trash is a big problem in Tanzania; people burn it, and there was plenty along the side of the road, so being able to channel that trash into beautiful merchandise goes a long way in keeping this beautiful country clean.

Before we took a tour at Shanga, we had a sign language lesson where we also learned some Swahili words. Our lesson was held on a sprawling lawn on pink and green couches made from old beds. It was a stunning, festive space, and we had a great time learning and laughing.

 

Shanga and River House After our lesson we toured Shanga’s art workshop areas and got to meet some of the artisans behind the glassware, beads, paintings, and fabrics for sale in the store.  Our guide Paul was kind and fun, and he really showed pride in the people working with him.

craft demonstration

recycled glass As we wound our way through Shanga, we marveled at beautiful decor like walls of recycled wine bottles that magnified the warm light and made a lovely noise when gently moved.

beads

Shanga Tanzania Shanga has people making beaded jewelry and cloth from recycled materials. We all fell in love with stuffed elephants made from mens’ shirts. I think we bought most of their supply for kids in our lives.

colorful cloth

weaving There was so much talent, pride, and focus in the artists at Shanga, and it was fun to watch them work.

Shanga and River House At the end of our tour, we had time to check out the on-site restaurant, which was to die for. I want to go back and have another wedding there.

River House

We left Shanga with hand blown glass Champagne flutes, stuffed elephants, and a beaded Christmas ornament to remind us of our travels, along with a major respect for the people living and working at Shanga. It was well worth the trip and an enchanting place to spend the day.

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Tags: Africa, art, charity, Tanzania, Travel, travel blog, Travel Tuesday

Bliss

What a weekend! I kind of still can’t believe how beautiful it was. We had  a fabulous weekend, and I hope you did too. I started mine with a terrible, horrible, no-good 22 mile run. It was raining, which normally doesn’t bother me, but I was just achy all over. My knees and hips hurt the worst, and I was a little bummed, feeling like my body wasn’t ready. That is, until I ran up the three flights of stairs to our condo and saw my training shoes outside the door where I left them after my last run. I looked down at my feet and realized I was wearing really old running shoes, which completely explains all the pain. It didn’t make it any better for that run, but it made me feel a lot better about my fitness level. Crazy how much running shoes affect every single part of your body. My spine hurt that night!

Saturday we were up and at ‘em to watch Ireland lose to England in rugby, had a family barbeque, went grocery shopping and had an early night re-watching Shutter Island. And Sunday we spent the day with my father-in-law. He’s visiting from Ireland, and we celebrated his birthday at Alma Nove yesterday afternoon. It was delightful.

It’s my birthday week, so I am feelin’ pretty good today. The big day is tomorrow, and even though I am going to be 32, I still really love birthdays. Getting older is a gift that not everyone gets, and I have had it pretty good in life. I will be celebrating all week!

It’s no secret that I love Northern California, and I hope you all aren’t tired of posts about Sonoma and Napa. I have a recipe coming tomorrow, I promise.

But, for now, I am going to take you to Sonoma on our journey from San Francisco International Airport. We rented our car, quickly made our way through Golden Gate Park, and were on the majestic Golden Gate Bridge before we knew it.

Golden Gate Bridge

Sonoma isn’t far at all from San Francisco, and we have come to know the drive very well over the years. We toyed with the idea of stopping for lunch right outside of San Francisco, but we wanted to be in Sonoma as quickly as possible so we kept going. One amazing sign of spring in wine country, fields of mustard, paint the whole valley yellow.

field of mustard

Our first stop was one of our wine country favorites, Gloria Ferrer, It’s one of the first wineries you encounter on your way, and the sparkling wine and views are pure bliss. Below was the view from our place on the patio.

Sonoma

Gloria Ferrer produces a range of sparkling and still wines, and I love them all, but I love bubbly the most. I went with a glass of their Anniversary Cuvee which offers that lovely, toasty brioche nose I love, with flavors of lemon and lots of bubbles.

We made some new friends from the Bay Area while we sipped, and the heat and lack of food caught up with me pretty quickly. Our tablemates suggested that we head across the street to Cornerstone Sonoma to grab a bite since it was the closest place to buy food. I was grateful for their advice; when I get hungry it gets ugly pretty quickly!

Gloria Ferrer

Cornerstone is a complex that combines wine, food, and art with relaxing indoor and outdoor seating areas. Meadowcroft tasting room greets you to one side as you arrive. We skipped tasting because food was my #1 priority.

Meadowcroft Wines

Cornerstone was pretty empty, and we got to order and sit down in the shade with water pretty quickly.

Cornerstone Sonoma

Since we had dinner plans in Napa a couple of hours later, we split a pulled pork sandwich with pickles and cole slaw and a side of potato salad. Paired with a Blue Bottle iced coffee and lots of water, it woke me right up and made my hunger pains go away.

pulled pork

Lunch gave us renewed energy to explore Cornerstone’s sculpture gardens. They’re free to the public, and you can spend hours there checking out the various pieces of outdoor art work, in addition to indoor galleries.

Cornerstone

Cornerstone Sonoma

Cornerstone Sonoma

Wine country was everywhere, from the surrounding mountains to the fences covered in grape vines.

Cornerstone Sonoma

The art was really fun, but I was kind of in vacation mode and didn’t take any notes on the artists.

Cornerstone Sonoma

One of the parts I loved the most was the actual garden, food as art

Cornerstone Sonoma

This area represents Tomato Mania. I love the idea of crops as art; they’re always changing, you have little control over them, and they can yield something beautiful and nourishing.

image

The sculpture garden also featured a children’s area with brightly colored bird houses, their very own grape vines, and play houses. It was really hands on and a fun way to be able to expose kids to art.

Cornerstone Sonoma

I loved these “rain clouds”; aren’t they pretty?

image

Cornerstone Sonoma

We really enjoyed our walk around Cornerstone Sonoma. After a long flight and lunch it was nice to stretch our legs out, take a little break from wine tasting, and to take in something new and fun. It made for a blissful afternoon!

 

How are you enjoying this blissful weather we are having?

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Tags: art, California, Food, gardens, Sonoma, Travel

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