Late Fall View from the Mountain

First of all… Can I talk about my first eggs?!!!

Six months ago, when I began my chicken-keeping journey, I had no idea how exciting it would be to unexpectedly discover these three eggs!

Hen house building materials + sweat equity provided by my awesome husband makes these eggs worth about $1500 each.

Wow. I’m afraid to eat them.

My First Eggs!!!

 

Our first hard freeze was coming, and  I wanted to winterized one raised bed. Under the great set-up (pictured below) are my arugula plants. Yummy!!!! I am obsessed with arugula and spinach salads.

My Best Arugula Salad Recipe:

To the arugula and spinach mix add seasonal fruit (blueberries, pears, apples, or strawberries…usually just one type of fruit) + glazed pecans or a packet of mixed nut salad topper + blue cheese (or feta or goat) crumbles + creamy balsamic dressing (No HFS dressing! I like Paul Newman’s because it is easily found in most grocery stores.) and, for a more hearty meal, add chicken.

Here’s a great hint: Place salad ingredients in a large bowl, add a small amount of dressing and toss. This method allows me to eat tons less dressing, and it tastes much better than dressing-drenched lettuce. Arugula is so flavorful, I can eat it plain.

A great testimonial from a girl who eats M and M’s with regularity.

I  feel like a murderous gardener when forced to pull perfectly alive and growing plants out of their beds. With the 2018 summer growing season officially ending at HC Farm, the question became:

What to do with green tomatoes left on the vines?

My son fried the BEST fried green tomatoes (My first!) which tasted very close to fried pickles, slightly less sour. I learned the secret is to slice the tomatoes as thin as possible. Next, I canned green tomato pickle relish.

Which brings me to the 1995 fruity-tile in my kitchen. With each Fixer Upper episode, I fervently prayed for Joanna to help me out, ” Please do fruity-tile. Please do fruity-tile” was my chant. My daughter-in-law, too young to remember the fruity-tile era, tells me they are not so bad.

But… I know the truth.

I also know the truth of the back-breaking removal of these tiles. Ain’t gonna happen.

Green Tomato Pickle Relish + Vintage 1995 Fruity-Tile

Enter Anna Bond.

Behold, my new Rifle Paper Co. Loloi runners. They perfectly match the dark blue color I had just painted my kitchen island + look at that awesome fruity-tile pairing.

This runner makes my kitchen look as amazing… as a 1995 fruity-tile could hope to look.

Unless… Joanna would do a kitchen with fruity-tile.

With the recent announcement  the Magnolia duo will return with their own cable channel, it could still happen! I’m holding out for my fruity-tile miracle.

Rifle Paper Co X Loloi Runner

And… here are my green children safely tucked in for the winter. They usually do quite well on my enclosed, climate-controlled porch. I love my herbs!

My Green Children

What is this???? We had a dusting of snow and sleet, Highly unusual for an Arkansas November. Winter seems to have hopscotched over autumn.

The end of Daylight Savings Time spirals me into my yearly seasonal sadness. All the light goes away. I am less productive.

I think about M and M’s more than I should.

Time to consider organizing my house + Drinking more green tea + Painting the last of the 1995-era-color bedrooms + More calligraphy practice + Teaching Mr. Kite (the Art Studio Bunny) a new trick + Dreaming of that Peloton Bike

 

Whaaaaa??? Snow in November!

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7.5 Incredible Insider Secrets of Why Cruising Will Rock Your World

I completed my first cruise. I am now (because the internet allows me to self-proclaim whatever I desire.) an expert, an insider, a person who possesses all cruising secrets I now have the authority to tell you cruising will rock your world.

Me, having my world rocked:

I had some pre-cruise fears, of which I had previously written: sea sickness, weight gain, onboard charges, bathing suit, white skin, sun damage, a tsunami, unknowns, bathing suit, and bathing suit.

World Rocker #1:  I am happy to report zero sea sickness. Even though I have cruised exactly one time and (because: internet) I am now an expert, my entire 7 days at sea was smooth sailing. Still… no sea sickness. I wore the sea band the first day, but as I looked around and saw no other cruiser wearing  sea bands, I took them off.

World Rocker #2:  My ship had a walking track. Yay! I think being able to exercise helped me to not feel “stuck on a boat”. Walking several miles daily also whispered in my ear,”You earned that chocolate molten lava cake!” Double yay!

Port Days also helped me to not feel stuck:

World Rocker #3:  It took me a day to figure out the best way to get coffee and whole milk (not creamer in those small plastic things) and how to hoard cereal and milk cartons, in case I needed a midnight snack.( We had a refrigerator in our cabin!) I also watched how other cruisers were doing stuff and, being a college graduate and part-time genius, I figured  out how to keep my expense account to a bare minimum. I’m not a drinker, so this was pretty simple. I did, however, get a bit lax with my Ben and Jerry charges the last two days.

World Rocker #4: The answer to the bathing suit fear: my very stylish cover-up.

White skin: I am very late to the party on using bronzing lotion. It looked super real and was just enough to help my skin out a bit.

I am 99.9% faithful in using sunscreen to protect my skin. A tsunami did  not happen. There was one unknown which I will explain in a minute, and bathing suit, bathing suit… oh well. Added Bonus: I took ZERO selfies and, quite frankly, NO ONE was noticing me.

Except this selfie, I took this one:

World Rocker #5: We made friends with our cabin steward. An experienced cruiser friend had given us a dry erase marker for mirror note writing. We encouraged our cabin steward friend daily (and she encouraged us!) We also tipped her (in addition to the standard pre-paid tip) at the beginning of the week, as well as at the end. All this friendliness worked to my advantage when my diamond earrings, stored stupidly in tissue paper, were thrown away. We called our cabin steward, and she dug through the ship’s trash to retrieve my earrings! Wow.

World Rocker #6:  Private Balcony. It is the only way to cruise. My balcony was peaceful and…well…private. It was the place where I sunned, read, and napped. A true vacation. Being on the top deck was LOUD and way too people-y.

Can’t you just feel the peace:

World Rocker #7: The food in the main dining room was super good. The portions were small, but we could order as many courses as we wanted. The food at the casual buffet was ehhhh, but we only ate there twice. The food in the pay-extra restaurant was definitely worth the splurge. The pay-extra desserts were definitely a notch up from the main dining (5 star for sure). And I give out my stars according to the desserts.

World Rocker #7.5:  Would I go again? Of all the vacation choices in all the world, I would probably choose an active vacation (skiing, bicycle touring, hiking) over cruising.

Look at this amazingly peaceful view:

HOWEVER, was cruising a true vacation? Yes. For this reason alone… cruising will rock your (fast-paced) world. 

I think you should go.

One last beautiful view. (Good-Bye, Jamaica!)

P.S. Yes, I know it is called a “ship” not a “boat”. (Emoji with tongue stuck out.)

P.P.S. We took zero excursions (At least $100 a pop, and, in my “expert” opinion, not worth the price.) We shopped on our port days, ate at the local restaurants, and returned early to the quiet ship. If you like spa treatments, this would have been a good time to snag a good deal.