Monthly Archives: June 2015

Travel Plans Update

It’s been awhile since my last post on my travel plans, and wow – it’s less than three months before I leave! September 15th is SO impossibly close now.

Remember there was Plan A (Iceland, England, and Egypt) and Plan B (Iceland, England, and Someplace Else)? And the decision between the two was really difficult. I went with Plan A largely because of the Egyptian Revolution, and my hope that I’d be able to get into the country while the hoards of tourists were still too afraid to travel there, but before anything major blew up again. I’m good with some civil unrest.  But after it has become pretty clear that the Muslim terrorists attacking the current government are changing their tactics from attacking government buildings and officials, to striking the government where it hurts more – in the tourist trade – I’m almost 100% decided to go with Plan B. I’m not comfortable with the recent gunfire at the pyramids, and the suicide bombers at Karnak Temple.  It makes me very sad for the Egyptian people though – tourism was just beginning to recover, and they depend upon it so very much.

So, Plan B. Iceland, England, and Venice! I’ll take the ten days I was going to have in Egypt and visit York, Bath, Oxford, Salisbury, the Cotswolds and still have one night in Venice.

veniceAlso, I’ll have time for a few more experiences I’ve always wanted – like hot air ballooning over Bath.

slide2871I’m pretty terrified of heights, but I love to do things to challenge that fear. A few years ago, I did this, and it pretty much took all the courage I had, and it was awesome.

I’m also spending a couple of days in the Penzance/Mousehole/St. Ives area, via the sleeper train from London. Taking a sleeper train has long been something I’ve been dying to do.  And the beaches/coast? So pretty!

st-ives-harbourjpgI hope it’s nice while I’m there. Or stormy.  One of the two!

I’ve also been shopping for travel things. I found this wonderful skirt on Amazon. It really is fabulous; I love the fabric it’s made from. So comfy and cute, and I’ll be able to dress it up or dress it down.  I think I want one in every color for when I’m home. It’s very soft and squishy, so it will pack extremely well. That’s important, because I’m taking ONE carry on bag…and it’s even smaller than the airline’s limit! Seriously, if I weren’t doing active things like riding horses, I wouldn’t bring pants at all. Skirts are so much more comfortable, packable, and versatile.  Did I ever mention that I do all my outdoor work and gardening in a skirt?



I found a great day pack/purse for my “one additional personal carry on item”.  It’s just large enough for my kindle, journal, and of course my various important papers.

And my big splurge – I bought this gorgeous and wonderful new camera.

cameraI’ve had it for a few months now, and I love it to pieces. It’s everything I ever wanted in a camera.

And while I’m on the subject of reviewing products, I just remembered that I never said how I liked my experience wearing Jamberry nail wraps.  Boo.  Hiss. That was a HUGE disappointment.  First of all, they do last quite a long time (I wore mine nearly two weeks before removing them) and they do look gorgeous on. But.

But. If you use your fingernails as tools as much as I do, no matter how carefully you follow their directions and stick them down, they are going to constantly get slightly ragged and rough at the tips. Which means you are constantly going to be filing your nails to make them smooth again – at least if you are driven mad by nails that constantly catch on fabric like I am.

The worst thing, though, was the removal. Soak them in coconut oil, was the top recommended tip for gentle removal. I liked that – no harsh chemicals, like with nail polish.  I tried it.  The wraps came off, but they also removed a layer of my nails – which was not obvious, until my nails started splintering and breaking like crazy.  For months.

Months!  It took forever until my nails were back to their normal strength.  Then I did a little more research, and I find out that, contrary to what the sellers recommend, the company says you have to soak them in nail polish remover.  Uh, no thanks. Isn’t this one of the major reasons why I picked Jamberry? To avoid the chemicals?

So between the constant filing (if I wore them regularly, I wouldn’t have any nails left!) and the difficulty removing them, they aren’t worth the pricy price tag. What’s left of my Jamberry sheet went straight into the trash.


Garden Update & Dexter’s First Beach Day

It is so unusually hot here – we’re having our August weather in June…which makes me concerned a bit about August.  Never thought I’d miss the rain!  But the beans, tomatoes, and squash sure love the heat. I think I’ll be canning beans in under a week.

Good thing, too, as we only have three cans left from the beans I put up last summer. I LOVE home canned beans! They are so much tastier than store-bought.

We’ll be eating summer squash by next week, too. Beans and squash are my favorite summer foods.

It’s been so long since my last update, that I didn’t post the pics I took a few weeks ago. Here’s the front yard vegetable then:

And here it is now. It’s a jungle!

Though the biggest jungle is inside the greenhouse.

Look – we have the brick floor in! And there are SO MANY green tomatoes.  The melons in there are flowering now, too. I’m hopeful that I’ll actually get a bunch of homegrown melons this year.  Early on, I noticed the three peppers I have in there were getting attacked by aphids.  In the outdoor garden, this would be absolutely NO reason for concern, as within days, the beneficial insects would find them, and demolish them.  I never spray anything in my garden, not even soap solutions. Though those are not nearly so harmful as pesticides, they still disrupt the natural cycle of predator/prey in your garden.  If you let the aphids be for a year, you’ll allow the beneficials to establish a base in your garden, and then you’ll never need to spray anything, ever again.  It’s simply amazing to observe.

Inside the greenhouse, I wasn’t sure if a natural balance would be able to happen, but guess what?  After about a week of tolerating aphids on my peppers, the aphids just suddenly disappeared completely! If I’d had to keep the greenhouse door closed during the day, the beneficials probably wouldn’t have been able to find their way inside, but with this hot weather…yeah, it’s an awesome June for the garden and the good bugs!

We’ve done a few more improvements to the chicken coop/yard, with still more to come.

Inside the coop, mom tore out the upstairs loft. She had never been happy with it, and she finally managed to turn me around to her point of view.

Now the girls just have perches along the back wall, with a wind barrier of straw bales in front. Before winter, we’ll have to put in a little more protection, but it’s working for now.

I also got the signs I designed and painted up.

Each girl has her name, along with a picture of the egg she lays. Plus, a blackboard to write their requests/demands.

Outside in the yard, we’re working on making it more chicken-friendly (more shade, more secret nooks, more edible perennials for them and us). So far, we’ve put up two hog panel trellises.

One has two varieties of grapes growing up it:

And beyond that, to the side against the fence, is another with thornless blackberries and a (still-to-be-planted) rose.

Complete with bench, for sitting and holding chickens. Once the vines get a chance to grow up, it will be very nice for all of us.

The neighbor on the other side of the yard finally put up the fence he’s been talking about since he moved in. It’s probably the most white-trashy fence I’ve ever seen (the posts are all cut to different heights, and the boards are nailed on a definite slant), but it does the job. It’s so nice to have privacy again! And now we can tear down the falling-apart fence that used to be there.  We said we’d tear it down for him before he started building his, but he said he wanted to take it down himself.  Then, he just left it up, and built his new fence in further on his property. So he just gave us about ten inches more land!  Woot!  😉  He’s an very odd man.

The new fence extends into the side front, which is very nice. And from this view, you can see just how uneven those posts really are!

Anyway, now that there’s a fence, this just became prime real estate. I’m thinking a bunch of raised beds (the ground’s truly bad here) with raspberries? It gets excellent sun.

Yesterday, we took Dexter to the beach for the first time.

He loved it, but had serious concerns about the sea monsters that kept passing by in the water. We tried to explain what boats are, but he knows what a sea monster is when he sees it, and he knows it is part of his job to keep a wary eye out to sea.

He did love the water though – even though the waves did freak him out at first.

He was so exhausted on the way home. He just collapsed in the back seat, and didn’t move.