Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saying Goodbye to our Sticks and Bricks

In the full-timing RV community (and I'll bet you never knew there even WAS such a thing!) a sticks and bricks, abbreviated to S&B, is a regular, non-moving home.  So I can finally say that we are on the road full time.  Yesterday was the hardest day so far, as we finished emptying everything into the motorhome.  At first we were storing everything neatly away, which was time consuming but kept the open areas neat. That was the weekend portion of the move. By Monday, however, we were tossing things into the trash pile by the side of the road and making trips with items for our good neighbor, Tom, to sell in his weekly yard sales, and what was left over was in bags and bins, placed on every surface in our motorhome.

By 4:00 we were totally exhausted, snapping at each other and finding it hard to put together words to make real sentences. One of us would ask where something was and would get an answer, "it's right by the thing, next to, uh, that thing there!" The language centers in our brains had ceased to function normally. It was frustrating for both the speaker and the listener.

We hooked up the car after a bit of a struggle (brains not functioning well, remember!) and were finally on our way to our eldest daughter's house. We had no trouble parking in her driveway--yay!! Aside from Jason having to use a telescoping scrub brush to raise an overhead wire so that the AC units on the roof wouldn't get caught on it, Bob maneuvered it into the space like the pro that he is.  Kristen and Jason have a detached garage with a separate electrical box so we plugged into there for our lights and water pump.

Bedtime was early, and after a dinner of chili I had made on Sunday, we hit the sack.

Today is the closing. Fingers crossed that it all goes smoothly!

Monday, September 29, 2014


Yesterday we took some time from our moving to attend an open house at Drumthwacket, the NJ Governor's mansion.  While Governor Christie does not live at Drumthwacket, he does stay there when he is in the area.

We arrived right before 11:00, our scheduled time for the open house.

We waited a few minutes by the gate before it opened and we drove to the front door.

The front lawn was quite lovely.

Outside the music room.

By the sun room.

Statue of a sleeping man.
Looking back at the house from the formal garden.


A pretty fountain area.

Lovely plantings.

The Master Gardeners of Mercer County maintain Drumthwacket's gardens.

Every estate needs a pond!

A view of the rear of the mansion.

The curved area is an office with beautiful views of the gardens. A nice place to work!

The office from the end of the mansion.

Plaque in front of the original house on the property.

This was the original Governor's home.

A last look before driving home.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Four More Days

We are getting down to the wire! In three days we will be moving out of this house completely, and in the motorhome.  In four days we pass papers and we will be home-free.  We got a bit moved into the rig yesterday, and the move continues today.  It is hard moving things when you might need them, but since the MH is parked in the driveway it is not far if we have to go get it. I have to get into "packing mode" at this point and set aside just what we need in this house for the next three days.  The rest goes to the MH.

Our water test was yesterday and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the water softener that was installed 12 hours before brought the iron levels to a legal limit.

We are in the process of selling our second car. I have to pick up prescriptions so we will have them on the road. Probably will have to do a grocery run.

There's just so much to do! I'd better start making lists so nothing is forgotten.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


My daughter Emily asked if I could come over and help her make valences for two windows on her breezeway, so I went there with sheets of foam core under my arm.  She and her husband we just about done with renovations in that room, and it is a lovely space. The windows, however, needed a pop of color to finish them off.

We were guided by a tutorial I found on the web here.  The foam used in the tutorial was a little thicker than the foam core we used, but it worked out just fine.  Duct tape was used to extend the length of the foam core pieces, and to attach the sides.  We cut the fabric about 2" larger than the foam core, then wrapped it around to the back and glued it with a hot glue gun.  Straight pins helped to tame the corners.

It looked so nice on the front, but the back looked a little messy so we made a shopping trip to some area stores to look for white contact paper.  Several stores later we were hungry and getting tired.  We stopped at Chipotles for burritos--yum!  Then back at the house Emily grabbed some computer paper and said, "how about using this?" Eureka! We glued the sheets of paper side by side across the crack to cover the glued-down edges and it was perfect.

It rained hard last night, and we noticed some water on the floor of our motorhome in the morning.  Gotta find the source of that leak. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Furniture Leaves

We had a sudden change of plans when we found out a truck to move our furniture had been rented for yesterday afternoon. We had an errand for the morning, then raced home to empty every drawer and shelf in the house.  The truck was filled, delivered, and emptied twice yesterday and there are still more tools and miscellaneous items to go, but the house is mainly emptied.  As I write this, I am sitting in our empty living room that has it it two lawn chairs, two tray tables, and two lamps.  And a loom that will go back in the motorhome today. We will drop off the lamps when we stay with eldest daughter Kristen next week.  Our bed is gone, so we slept quite comfortably in the motorhome last night. It finally feels like the move will happen! We have such great sons-in-law...they muscled all that stuff into the truck like pros.  We are happy to see all of our cherished things going to family and know that they will be appreciated and used.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EZ Pass and Update on the Move

Yesterday I traded my mini elliptical machine to my daughter's friend, Brittany, for a massage.  I've been getting massages from Brittany for years--she is a licensed massage therapist and does a fabulous job. It feels so good to get the kinks worked out!

If you live in one of the northeastern down through the mid-Atlantic states you have to deal with toll roads.  The first US toll road was built in Virginia in 1785, and it didn't take too long for the idea to spread to the rest of the colonies.  Toll roads are typically a relatively fast and easy way to travel long distances, and the fees collected help pay for the upkeep of the road.

For years we used a transponder from Massachusetts on our cars, though we did not live in that state. NJ charges a monthly service fee, even if not used, so we avoided that one.  A lot of people don't realize that you can shop around and purchase your EZ Pass or Fastlane device from any state you want.  They work the same way, but some states have better deals than others. And you can use a NH one on a MA car in NJ.

When we bought our motorhome we saw that NH's deal seemed better than MA's deal (the deals are always changing, so I recommend you look up each state's DOT page to compare.) So our motorhome got a NH transponder.  This will create problems if we are towing the car wearing a MA transponder behind a motorhome wearing a NH one.  We'd be charged by each state for both vehicles--yikes!  So today we are mailing the transponder back to MA.  Only the motorhome will have one, and if we sightsee in the car we'll have to just pay the toll. If the car had its own we'd be paying double because each vehicle's transponder would be charged for both vehicles. And unfortunately we can't put the motorhome transponder into the car, since it's a different vehicle class.

It gets confusing, but it's just one of the things we have to deal with.  We pay a LOT higher toll than a car does, so we have to be smart about this.

Tonight is the last night to sleep in our bed, as the kids are coming tomorrow to pick up all the furniture.  All that will be left is what's in cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom.  And the clothes in our closets.  We'll be sleeping in the motorhome in the driveway and sitting on camp chairs in the house. One week from today is our closing!

Monday, September 22, 2014


On Saturday I cleaned out my jewelry box, in anticipation of passing it to one of my daughters.  They have already gone through my jewelry and have taken things they wanted.  I sorted everything into piles of KEEP, GIVE AWAY, and TOSS.  Previously I had purchased a clear plastic box for my earrings, which latches well and takes up little space.  For bracelets and necklaces I got an organizer that hangs in the closet, from The Container Store.  I don't think I'll have much use for most of my jewelry in our new lifestyle on the road but I'm not ready to give it all up yet, so I'll hang onto it a little longer. Most of it is not worth much anyway but it has a lot of sentimental value.

After I emptied the jewelry box I vacuumed it well.  Amazing how much dust and DNA collects in a jewelry box!

I came across a little baggie of  jewelry parts.  We all have them--old ring settings, broken chains, etc.  I decided to take it down to a little shop nearby with a big sign WE BUY GOLD! It was an interesting experience.  The fellow who opened the door invited me in and I sat at a large table.  First he used a magnet to make sure each piece was actually gold.  He then took each piece and rubbed it on a pad with an abrasive surface.  I could see narrow lines of gold residue, as he arranged the chains and rings in front of each line.  Next he took a bottle of some chemical solution and dropped it on each residue line.  From this test he was able to determine if the jewelry pieces were 14 carat or 10 carat.  He weighed each group accordingly, then photo copied the pieces as well as my license ( I assume this was in case any of it had been stolen.) After adding up the numbers he gave me $419 cash! I was thrilled, and very glad I had kept all those bits and pieces of broken things.

Friday, September 19, 2014

WalMart and Washcloths

RVers love WalMart.  They love the one-stop-shopping thing, the good prices, and the fact that many WalMarts allow RVs to park overnight in their parking lots for free.

I know that WalMarts tend to take business away from small local businesses, and they do have a reputation for not treating their employees that well, so I have mixed feelings about them.

Having said that, my eldest daughter told me recently about WalMart's Savings Catcher program, and people have asked me about it, so here's the scoop.  You sign up online, download the app if you have a smartphone or tablet (although you don't need the app, it allows you to scan your receipts rather than enter a long number, so it is easier) and start using it.  Each time you shop at WalMart you scan in the receipt and Savings Catcher compares items with sales flyers in your area to see who has the best price.  If Walgreens had your chips for .50 less this week and you bought two bags, you get a credit of $1.00.  In my area there are perhaps 50 stores that they compare with, but in more populated areas they may be price checking against 200 stores or more.  Your credit adds up for each receipt you scan, and you can use the credit towards a purchase at WalMart whenever you want.

If you are interested, the Savings Catcher website is here.

The washcloths I finished this week came out very nice, I think.  They were woven on a two harness loom (my Saori Piccolo, but any table or floor loom would work well with this draft) using 8/4 cotton carpet warp for warp and weft. These are going to be a gift. Click to embiggen.

I just love handwoven washcloths!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Local Robbery

Yesterday I finished my dish towels that I had been weaving.  The finishing part typically gets put-off, but I'm not sure why, because as I am hemming things I get such a thrill to see the finished result.
I'm not sure who these will go to, but they will probably be gifts.

I also hemmed some washcloths that have been waiting patiently for months.  Today I plan to move all my sewing bins into the motorhome.

We had a bit of excitement in our normally quiet neighborhood yesterday, while I was merrily sewing away.  Four police cars pulled up to the front of our house and I could see cops talking with Bob.  Since I could tell by his body language that he was relaxed (i.e. not about to be arrested) I went back to my task and figured I'd find out later what was going on.  It turns out that someone had robbed the store at the edge of our neighborhood, and had beaten up the shopkeeper.  Bob had seen the two men walking past but hadn't really focused on them so he was unable to give a description.  The police ended up searching houses nearby where no one was home, in case the crooks had ducked into one of them.  About 23 years ago, when we first moved into the neighborhood, that store was robbed and the owner was beaten so badly that he was not expected to live.  Fortunately he survived, and the perpetrator was caught.  Let's hope the police find these two creeps!

The other exciting thing that happened yesterday was that we got our new mailing address in Texas! We won't be actually giving it out to family and friends very often,  as we'll be traveling around and will have to pay postage for mail to be forwarded, but it's a thrill anyway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ten Things You May Not Know About Me

Here are ten things you may or may not know about me.

1.  I don't eat wheat,because it makes my heart race like I've had five cups of coffee.

2.  As a teenager I had a diary in which I described a life that I made up.  I hid it between two studs in the closet of my childhood room and for all I know, it is still there.

3.  In high school I only applied to one college and had no back up plan.  The college attracted ten applicants for each one accepted.  I got in.

4.  Jobs I've had include working in a bakery, a kennel, a riding stable, two veterinary hospitals, a grocery store, a lingerie shop, a cross stitch store, and a fabric shop.  All that was prior to becoming a speech language pathologist.

5.  I have not used shampoo for three and a half years.  Instead, I use a baking soda mixture to wash my hair and a vinegar solution to rinse.

6.  I have always been an early riser, and love mornings.

7.  I love to give advice.

8.  I used to fantasize about living in France.  That was before I realized that speaking French did not really come naturally to me, and that French people switch to English when they hear me trying to speak their language.

9.  I don't understand people who don't have hobbies.

10.  I hate scary movies.  Hate them.  Action movies with suspense are fine, but nothing with demons or crazed killers, thank-yew-very-much.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

I had a call from my second eldest daughter today, asking for a ride for her and my grandson. He had an OT evaluation scheduled and their vehicle was not available.  So before I was able to write my daily blog post I was in the car to help them out. It took most of the day, but it was a nice time with them.

I plan to write a real blog post tomorrow. 😊

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spinners, Weavers, and Drumthwacket

I guess occasional rain is ok, right? On Saturday, despite threatening skies, our monthly spinners and weavers group gathered in Moorestown to have fibrous fun together.  Susan M., our guild coordinator, put on a great program showing the steps to prepare wool for spinning. Ellen T., who has taken over as Small Looms Group Coordinator, took it from there and demonstrated ways to use handspun by weaving it.  Since this will most likely be the last guild meeting for me until next June or so, it was bittersweet.  I have made really good friends in this group, and will miss them!

I invited all who were free after the meeting to come back with me to tour our motorhome, and eight people did just that. Some had never been in an RV before, and it was fun to show some of the little home-like qualities that we have in ours.

I remember the first time I was ever in a travel trailer. I was eight years old, and my Dad had surprised me and picked me up at school to take me to the New England Sportsman Show in Boston. We saw lots of rods and reels, boats and tents. But then, there was a travel trailer that we could walk through (we called them mobile homes back then.) What an eye opener! It was like a playhouse, with a tiny kitchen and bathroom, and a bed as well.  I knew right there that someday I wanted to live in one.  So my dream is coming true, and it is so much better than I dreamed of, so many years ago!

Another item on my bucket list has been to one day visit Drumthwacket, the NJ Governor's mansion. This weekend I Googled it, and lo and behold they are having an open house on Sunday, September 28, 2014.  I put our names in for it and we got a confirmation email--we are in! I can't wait!
For those interested, click here, and you can go, too.  They have openings at 11:00,12:00, and 1:00, as of this writing, and it is free.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hershey RV Show 2014

There is some controversy about which RV show is actually the biggest in the US.   Hershey claims to be the largest, while others contest that Florida's Supershow in Tampa is actually the largest.  No matter.  The Hershey one is plenty big, with over 1200 new RVs on display plus a stadium full of vendors hawking everything from pots and pans to RV insurance.  This was our fourth year in a row going to it, and we sure had fun.

Our buddy, Joe, from Colton RV picked us up in the parking lot in a golf cart and whisked us in the back door.  Joe has been so helpful to us, and is a super-nice guy!
We strolled around the Tiffin Motorhomes, and Bob and I talked with Bob Tiffin, the owner of the company that made our Phaeton.

We also met up with Carrie, who was the salesperson who sold us our MHZ last September.  Carrie lives in Spokane, Washington but comes out each year to help Colton RV sell Tiffins.
There is just so much to see at this show! We saw amphibious motorhomes that can go through rivers without sinking.
We saw very interesting tent set ups, too!
My favorites to go through are the Airstreams, with their shiny sides and modern interiors.

We had a really great day!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Becoming Texans

My original intent for this blog was for it to be travel and craft-focused.  However, as we are still in the process of selling our house, we are not yet traveling and there is no time to craft! Tomorrow, however, we will be taking a day trip to Hershey, PA for the big RV show that is held annually.  The show runs through Sunday, so if going to a place where there are thousands of RVs of all types, makes, and models gives you a thrill (as it does to us) then this is the place for you!

Bob, our dogs Auggie and Sim, and me, in front of our Eco travel trailer

Today we had our water tested, and later will be applying for a mailbox in Texas in preparation for becoming Texans.  A lot of people have asked us how we will get our mail on the road.  We are members of an RV group called Escapees, and will have an address through this group for our mailbox.  For a small annual fee they will forward our mail wherever we are.  Easy peasy! We can also have packages sent to us at a local post office if we ate going to be in one spot for a few weeks.

We have been talking for months about becoming South Dakota residents, but it looks like a trip to SD is not in the cards for us this year, so Texas it is! Yee Haw!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Angel Story #2

Yesterday's blog was about angels protecting my grandson, but I have seen divine protection for my children as well.  When my second daughter, Catherine, was an infant we lived near a department store in Grafton, MA called The Mart.  Long gone now, The Mart was like a K-mart, and had lots of low-cost items for sale.  We were close enough so that I could walk Catherine and her 5 1/2 year old sister Kristen to it during the day when I had no car.

On this particular day I must have had the car because I was using a carrier in the shopping cart that had a carrying arm across the top.  In those days, the car seats stayed in the car and We would use a separate, lighter weight carrier outside of the car.  Car seats in those days were really heavy! 

I set the carrier sideways in the seat of the shopping cart, as Catherine was too small to sit up.  I had just moved her from the car seat to the carrier and she was too little to wiggle out, so she was not buckled in.

All was fine until Kristen decided to climb into the main part of the shopping cart, and in her attempt the entire shopping cart flipped over.  Catherine's carrier also flipped into the air and landed upside down on the concrete floor.  For one awful second I was unable to move.  Then I bent down and slipped my hand under the carrier where her head was.  As I turned the carrier over I felt her head roll into my hand.  She had been flung upside down on a concrete floor with no straps holding her in, yet had not hit the floor. This truly was a miracle.  An observer came running over and said she had seen a similar accident in which the baby's face had been all smashed in by the impact. Something, or someone had held Catherine up and protected her from the fall.

I expect great things from Catherine.  God saved her for a reason, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Do a YOU believe in angels?

When our eldest grandson was 9 months old, my daughter Kristen called me up one morning with an amazing story.  She had gotten up early on that morning, letting her husband Jason sleep in.  Kristen enjoys her morning cup of coffee. And her son was at that age when he was not-quite-walking but able to grab things off higher surfaces.  So Kristen barricaded herself behind the ottoman and dining room chairs to sit in her favorite spot and drink her coffee without little hands grabbing for the cup.

She had just sat down this morning when she realized she had left something in the kitchen, just a few steps away.  She double checked her barrier system and it was intact, so she walked into the kitchen.  A minute later she heard her husband's voice shout KRISTEN and she ran back to the living room just in time to see her toddler reaching for her coffee, having circumnavigated the makeshift barrier.  Kristen reached over, picked up the cup, and sat down to finish her morning drink.

A few minutes later, Jason came down the hall. "Boy, it's a good thing you called me, otherwise our little guy here would have gotten a bad burn," she told him.  Jason just stared at her.  " I didn't call you," he said.

I still get chills when I think of this.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Our Busy Week

Bob and I were saddened last week to learn of the sudden death of the husband of one of my close friends from our weavers guild.  He was such a nice man.  Though suffering from a degenerative disease, he refused to bow down to it and continued to maintain his beloved gardens as long as he was able to.  Our prayers go out to his wife.

Saturday was one of our grandsons' 8th birthday, and we went to a local skating rink to celebrate.

Bob and I decided to sit on the sidelines and be baby-watchers, and had loads of fun watching everyone skate.

I had crocheted daisy headbands for the girls and they looked super-cute.  This was a very quick and easy project, and if you are on Ravelry you can find it here.

Last evening we took a walk to our old house to visit the new owners.  They are the nicest people!  Bob and I have visited with them a couple of times, and they are so welcoming.  They brought us through the living room, which now has the drapes from the family room in it.  The walls are a deep gold, the fireplace is burgundy with black accents, and there is a hand painted tree on the wall to the right of the door to the kitchen with family photos surrounding it.  They have really made it their own and it looks great! They were kind enough to allow me to dig up an herb plant called Vietnamese Cilantro that they hadn't bonded with (but they knew it was special to me so they surrounded it with a little barrier and protected it all summer long.) They also urged us to pick some sage from the huge sage patch we had left.  We couldn't have asked for nicer people to live in the home that we loved for so many years!

This is a big week for us.  The VA home inspector and termite inspector come tomorrow, the water tester comes Wednesday, and we will find out the results of our home appraisal.  Our friend's funeral is tomorrow as well, and I will be going to pay our respects while Bob keeps Auggie from taking a bite out of the home inspector. And I am visiting with friends for dinner on Wednesday night. It's a good thing we are retired so we have time to do what we need to do!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Knock Yourself Out

The appraiser came today to look at our house, with the VA inspector due next Tuesday.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!  We feel pretty confident that the house will pass inspection.  After all, Bob has gone over it with a fine tooth comb, looking for things to fix. We are as ready as we can be. Pretty soon we will be packing up the little we have left and making what may be our final move.

I really only remember one move as a child.  We had sold our home in Baltimore, MD and were moving to Gleeson St. in Framingham, MA. I was four years old, and recall my mom wrapping up the dishes and putting them in a large cylindrical packing container, like a barrel. I tried to climb in head first and Dad had to pull me out after he noticed my feet waving above the edge.

It was a long ride to Massachusetts, and as a child I was prone to motion sickness in a car.   I must have slept much of the way, because I remember being groggy, disoriented, and queasy as I ran into our new home.  The first thing Mom said as I started to explore was, "don't open the cellar door!" So of course I had to open it.  I lost my balance and fell all the way down to the bottom, waking up a few minutes later in a little cot in what was to become my bedroom.  I'm not sure if this was the first time I knocked myself out but it would not be the last.  I do recall that at age three I tried to ride my tricycle down the front steps in Baltimore but don't recall being hurt enough to lose consciousness. As a teenager I hit a car with my head while riding my bicycle home from school and was briefly unconscious.

Now that I know about head injury, I have often wondered if there were any lasting effects from what happened to me as a child.  Would my memory be sharper? I guess I'll never know.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

School Days

Yesterday and today have been first days of school for our grandchildren, and they have brought back memories of my early school days.  Gather round, my children, and listen to stories of the good old days.

When I was a young 'un, we lived just under a mile from school, so we had to walk. Kindergarten was private, so most children started school in first grade.  This was Massachusetts, where the winters were long, cold, and snowy.  And yes, we walked through snowstorms to get to and from school, almost a mile, uphill both ways! (I do love to say that, because it was true. We lived on a hill, and we went into a valley then uphill to get to school.)  it was a lot of walking for a five year old, but we were fit!

I do remember my first day of first grade.  I had been so excited to go to school like my big sister, Gail, and Mom brought me to the classroom.  When I got there, though, it was very scary.  We actually had a substitute teacher on the very first day, which confused me because when I went up to the teacher's desk and said, "Mrs. Hill,  I really want to go home," she snapped at me, "I'm not Mrs. Hill and no, you can't go home.  Sit down!"  Somehow I made it through the first day.

On day two, I walked with Gail, but when the bell rang and it was time to go in I refused to go.  Poor Gail had a dilemma! She went to the office and got the assistant principal, who was very kind and managed to talk me into entering the building.  I still remember his shoes; I never looked up at his face.

Weeks went by, and one day my Dad came into my room to have a talk with me.  He gently said that he had gotten word from my teacher (who finally showed up on day four of school) that I cried every day while standing in line for lunch.  I remember that line.  The lunchroom was scary and loud, and we had to rush to eat everything before we were told to head back to the classroom.  As I recall, lunch time was about 10 minutes long.  So I would stand in line and miss being home and tears would silently run down my cheeks.  I never made a sound, so I assumed that no one knew I was crying.

I told Dad I was just sad at school.  He thought for a moment, and said that if I stopped crying in school he would take me for a pony ride.  Now that was something worth being happy about! I loved horses, and from that time on, I would stand in line and think about riding a pony.  I was able to stop crying, and a few weeks later I did get my pony ride.  I was so happy!

Mom fixed up a little basket with a tiny teddy bear in it, and I was able to take it to school.  Throughout the day I would just reach down to the basket by my feet and touch my teddy--it gave me great comfort.  No one else in class had one, and I suspect my parents had made special arrangements with the teacher to allow a toy in class, but it really helped transition me to school.

It was not until I went to college that I really enjoyed school.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mr. Snake Comes a-Calling

We signed the contracts for our house sale yesterday, so we are under contract.  Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly through closing September 30.

Bob is always looking for things to fix.  It admittedly has gotten much harder to find such projects, as the house now is pretty darned perfect!  But yesterday he was messing around with a screen door, making it open more smoothly, when whom should he spy but Mr. Garter Snake.
He was a little guy, not causing anybody any trouble except for one thing...he was inside our screened in porch.  While I would have no problem sharing my screen room with Mr. G.S., Bob balks at such company (and I'm guessing that many other people would as well.) So we gathered up a small plastic bin and lid to relocate him.

In my youth, I would catch snakes and not worry about a garter snake's bite.  Honestly, their teeth are so tiny that even with their fangs embedded in my thumb I couldn't feel it. But they also give off a musky odor that gets all over my hands and takes hours to get rid of, so I thought I'd try the box this time.  And it worked well.  After chasing him for 30 seconds or so he leaped into the box, I was able to pop on the lid, and safely move him to the back of the yard by the shed, where he could hunt in privacy and safety.  Got a good picture of him, too!

A few years back I grabbed the tail of a four foot black snake and flung him out of the garage; I was glad I didn't have to do that, this time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Riding Horses

Bob spent yesterday working on the sound system in the motorhome so that we could play DVDs and use our iPods.  He's got it figured out, and it is good to go!

Meanwhile, I cooked much of the day, making a yummy (but spicy!) Mexican Chicken Soup for dinner.  I had found some chicken legs in the freezer, so I roasted them, took the meat off the bones, and used the bones and skin to make stock.  It took a few hours, including a trip to Walmart and the grocery store for a couple of key ingredients, but it was worth it.  I used this recipe here.

Last night I dreamt about riding horses, a lovely dream, and I recalled my last time riding in Iceland.  It was July of 2002, and Bob and I had spent five days in that beautiful country.  We had been on a whale watch, had stood on two tectonic plates (North America and Europe), had flown in a light plane to Lake Myvatin (an internationally renowned bird watching paradise) and had swum in the Blue Lagoon. We were leaving to fly home to the States the next day, and were walking around Reykjavik. The city has official tourist offices where you can sign up easily for tours, and one tour caught our eyes--ride Icelandic Horses.  We signed up on an impulse, as it was something I had always wanted to do.  Bob is such a good sport about things like that--I very much doubt that it was on a HIS bucket list as well.

So the next morning a car picked us up and we were taken to Laxnes Farms, where I was assigned a horse named "Sippi."  I had some trepidation, as I thought the woman called the horse "Zippy" and I explained that in English this would indicate a very fast horse.  She assured me that "Sippi" had no hidden meaning and it was just a name, so off we went!  Icelandic horses are more like ponies in size, and have a unique gait called a Tolt, which is like a very fast walk rather than a trot.  They also canter.  These horses are quite used to running safely over ground that is covered in softball-sized chunks of lava rock, without stumbling. Amazing.

Our guide, Kristina, led a group of three tourists: an Englishwoman, Bob, and me. Iceland doesn't really have mountains; instead it has a lot of rocky hills and where we were there were no trees.  It does, however, have loads of waterfalls, and Kristina took us to one on the Laxnes property.  It was so much fun racing across the Icelandic countryside on our little steeds!

A couple of hours later we were at the airport heading home.  Sore, but happy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

On Saturday I went out with my good friend Robbie, meeting at Zoe's Kitchen in Voorhees for lunch.  I had a very nice quinoa salad.  I've known Robbie since my days at Bancroft Early Intervention and we have been close ever since.

After lunch I went to DS and DIL's house to see the changes and improvements.  Kicking myself for not taking pictures! I guess I have to start thinking like a blogger and photograph EVERYTHING! They have the cutest little bungalow style home, and have loads of ideas for making it their own.

We had a great time at DD and SIL's house yesterday, complete with cookout and chocolate chip cookie bake off.  The grandkids helped judge, and competition was fierce! I was pleased with the votes that my gluten free cookies earned--it was a very close race with Emily and Kristen tying for first, and I was third with one less vote.  The grandkids took it very seriously; Adam had a bit of a meltdown because they were all so good and he just couldn't make up his mind!  I, of course, take credit for the win because I taught them how to cook! ;)  

My eldest daughter has asked me to share some breakfast recipes that are nutritious and yummy.  Here are a couple of my favorites:


I could eat this every day, it is that good.  It must be made the night before, but only takes a minute.  For each serving:
1/3 cup quick oats
2/3 cup milk (I use soy milk but any will do)
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Stir it all up in your cereal bowl and stick it in the fridge.  Next morning give it a quick stir and eat it cold.  The oats and raisins will have soaked up the milk and it will taste sweet and yummy.

6 Week Muffins
This recipe may not be as good for you, but it is better than any commercial muffins.
Place in bowl:  2 cups Bran Buds cereal
Pour over:  2 cups boiling water
Set aside to cool.
Cream together in large mixing bowl:  
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
Add and beat in:  1 qt buttermilk and soaked cereal mixture
Sift together:
5 cups white whole wheat flour
5 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and fold until flour is moistened.
Fold in 4 cups additional dry Bran buds.
Store batter in covered container in the fridge. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and fill well greased muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake 20 minutes. You may add a couple tablespoons of raisins, nuts, blueberries, chopped peaches, bananas, or apples right before baking, if desired. Or sprinkle cinnamon on top.

We are having a quiet day today.  Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day!