A blog about "nothing"!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Laney Visits the Ocean!

Hello everyone!  We just got back yesterday from a week at Oak Island, North Carolina.  Laney went with us--this was her first trip to the ocean!  Unfortunately it was still very, very cold there (gee thanks jetstream!) but we still had a good time, even if we couldn't stick any toes in the water.

The first few days were very windy--you can see here from the look on Laney's face that she was NOT happy about it:
Oak Island has it's own lighthouse--not a very pretty one by lighthouse standards, but unique in that it never needs painted.  When this lighthouse was built, the coloring was added to the cement mix, tinting it whatever color it was to be for all eternity.  Pretty cool, huh?!
Towards the end of the week the wind had finally calmed down, so we made a trip to the beach again that she enjoyed a little more.  You could definitely tell there had recently been some bad weather, the sand was so packed down it was like walking on cement.  Tons of seashells on the beach, great for someone wanting to pick.

Our trip home was dreadful, the traffic was frantic--and Virginia DOT decided that Good Friday would be a good day to repair guard rail--seriously??????  By the time we got to our hotel, we were all beat, Laney included.  We were glad that the rest of the drive Saturday morning was much easier.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What's New With You?

March was definitely an eventful month around here--unfortunately it all involved spending unplanned money!  Hopefully we are past all of that now.  I had posted before about Laney being sick, and at that time I thought we were okay.  Boy was I wrong.  Later that morning she started vomiting again, so I called the vet and they squeezed us in.  Three injections, two prescriptions and $100 later we were on our way back home.  Poor little thing was so sick, we knew something was definitely wrong when she not only refused her food, but then stuck her nose under the edge of the dish and flipped it upside down, throwing kibble everywhere.

She's back up to snuff now, but it was a messy couple of days.  So messy that she desperately needed a bath, and I had every intention of doing just that myself, but I stopped at the pet store to pick her up some treats and decided to look in to their grooming prices.  On Monday she had her first professional grooming appointment, and it was worth every penny to me, she is so soft now and they gave her a haircut.  Doesn't she look pretty?!
Once we got her past the worst of it, I did manage to find some time to get out and check out a favorite thrift store about 20 minutes from home.  I found a couple of goodies that had to come home with me--

A cute polo shirt and a pair of jeans--couldn't pass the jeans up, they were all of $1!  They were the same size and brand as a pair I bought in the fall that were too big in spots, but I was able to easily alter.  This pair actually fits better than the ones I bought previously after my alterations :)
These cool beads on a ribbon--yay!  I have been looking for this and having no luck, I saw a really cool use for it on Etsy, so I was very pleased. 
Photo courtesy of Nantucketgirls on Etsy
Now if I can just make mine look this pretty!  I have some fabric to make a liner with that will go really well with it.  The hardest part is going to be deciding which basket from my collection that I want to use for this project. 
And last but not least--
Yes, two more of those glasses!!!!  I now have eight.  I really need to wash them all at the same time and decide which ones are the nicest.   One of them has a stain/mark on it that doesn't seem to be coming out.  Funniest part is I just kind of glanced in the glassware aisle and didn't see these until for some reason, I decided to bend down and look on the very bottom shelf.  Meant to be!
Have a great weekend everyone! 
Enjoy clothing thrift finds?  Check out these two blogs:  A Colourful Canvas  and Refashionista   --two ladies with a great eye for style who have found some wonderful items at thrift stores and kicked it up a notch!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ireland, Part 8--Wicklow Mountains and Bad Americans!!!

For our last day of this trip to Ireland we thought it would be fun to do a tour of the Wicklow mountain region.  Very rugged and scenic--the perfect way to wind down our trip!  We booked the tour the day before and were to meet up with it at a hotel just down the street from where we were staying.  We boarded the bus and waited.....and waited...and waited.........turns out we were waiting on a group of four people who were also supposed to be there.  They never showed up and our driver/tour guide decided he'd waited long enough and we left.  We were on our way out of town when he got a phone call on his cell--and we had to go back and get them.  Kevin (tour guide) was not amused as he had not only waited an extended period of time, but had also gone in to the hotel lobby to look for them.  I loved his response to them when they finally did come out--"what did you want me to do, drive the bus in to the lobby?"  I liked this guy! 
We drove a little while and he got another phone call--it was someone he knew who had a young newlywed couple that really wanted to go on the tour, could he meet up with us somewhere.  We ended up stopping in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dunleary)  to meet them, and I was excited because that was the town where a friend of mine had grown up.  After hearing all of those stories I was finally going to get to see it.  We weren't there for very long, but I did get a couple of pictures.
After picking them up we drove for a little bit and then stopped at Avoca Woolen Mills main store just north of the Wicklow mountains.  It's a neat place with lots of shopping and a cafeteria style cafe where you can grab a snack.  I really didn't see the point, but I have since learned that tour guides in Europe get a cut of the sales from stops like this!  We didn't buy much (a snack) but on a later trip to Ireland I did buy scarves there to use as Christmas gifts, and the quality was superb. 
We continued our journey down through the Wicklow mountains--earlier I said this is a rugged area.  Lots of thatch and such alongside the road and not many houses.  Right about then, one of the group of the "bad Americans" chimes in and says "Are there any snakes in there????"   **GROAN**  I wish I'd had a picture of my face when he said that, (along with most of the people on the tour).  Kevin was on the ball though, his response was priceless--"no, the only snakes in Ireland are in the government!"
Our next stop was Glendalough, home to a medieval monastic settlement set in a valley.  Gorgeous setting and in remarkably good shape considering it had been partially destroyed in the 14th century.  There had also been problems with a local farmer helping himself to some of the stones from one of the buildings!  Kevin was VERY knowledgeable about this site and was more than happy to answer any questions anyone had.  One of the things I found most interesting about it were the tombstones that had no inscriptions--Kevin explained that it wasn't a case of them wearing away, but that they had no inscriptions because a lot of the people living there at the time were illiterate. 

 We drove over to the the adjoining lake and participated in an Irish tradition--a shot of Jameson's whiskey for good luck!  Not sure if it worked or not?!?!?!

We spent a good part of the day driving through the mountain areas and Kevin pointed out all sorts of things that the average passerby would have missed.  Well worth going on the tour just for that.  We then stopped at the top of these mountains where the view was spectacular:

At the base of one of these mountains is the Guinness estate--note the lake looks like a pint of beer!  The color occurs naturally due to the minerals from the mountains, but the sand--that was imported from Florida to make it look like proper Guinness foam!

I personally was fascinated by the peat bogs in the area--in Ireland you can't just go digging in them anymore, they are protected by the government and you have to get a special license to dig in them.  Peat is a combination of soil and vegetation, very highly compacted, dug out in rectangular pieces.  It is then dried and can be burned as a heat source, used in some Irish homes where other sources aren't available.  Ireland doesn't have a lot of trees, so burning wood isn't an option.  Kevin told me a lot about peat, the main thing being that once it is burned in a home, that odor lingers on forever--he said that you can tell a house that it has been burnt in the minute you walk in the door, it has a very distinct odor to it, even years later.

Before heading back to Dublin, we stopped in the town of Enniskerry where Kevin treated all of us to ice cream.  One of the folks decided to share some of theirs with a local dog, to which Kevin replied "oh great, the dog will be waiting for the bus every day now!"
I hope you have enjoyed our little tour of Ireland--and hopefully you will get to go there yourself someday if you haven't already!  One of my favorite places that I've been to, I could move there in a heartbeat.  It's been 3 1/2 years since we were there last, and I'm really itching to go, perhaps once I get my knee straightened out.......

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ireland, Part 7--Dublin

Dublin is a fun city to visit, lots of things to see, do and lots of shopping!  It's a wonderful place to end your trip and do all of your souvenir shopping, there are so many places selling Irish goods.  Plenty of interesting things to do as well.  I highly recommend getting on a "Hop on/Hop off" tour of Dublin, you learn a lot about different sights around the city and it makes it a great mode of transportation as well.

I don't have a ton of pictures of Dublin, we were too busy enjoying the city, the food and all of the people watching.  Our first night in Dublin we did go to a large pub that offered free entertainment.  The catch is if you want a really good seat you need to make a reservation for dinner, but if you weren't as picky (like us!) you could sit in another section and just get a drink and still listen to the music and watch the dancers.

 The interior of the pub--I wish I could remember the name!
A pair of the Irish dancers--we recognized one of the girls on a travel special after we returned to the States! 
One of the best places in Dublin for food and drink is the area known as Temple Bar.  If you can't find someplace good to eat there, you are just too picky, there is just about every cuisine you can think of.  There is even a Hard Rock Cafe there if you are serious about getting American style food.  We ate at two places there while we were in Dublin--one was a wonderful Mexican place called "Poco Loco".  I had to give a couple of Irish ladies an education on Mexican food, they had no idea what any of the items were and were a bit intimidated by "refried beans".
Another place we ate at that was very good was "The Bad Ass Cafe".  It is primarily a pizza joint, but they have a fairly extensive menu and I got a really good steak there.  I got a kick out of the horseshoes embedded in the sidewalk out front!

Dublin is a very young city population wise, when we were there in 2003 the average age of a Dubliner was 27!!!  It is probably one of my favorite cities that we have traveled to because of it's location and variety of things to do.  To me you haven't been to Ireland if you haven't been to Dublin. 
Along the river Liffey

One thing that is a must see in Dublin--the library at Trinity College which houses the Book of Kells.  Both the library and the Book of Kells are just beyond beautiful.  I have no pictures because they aren't allowed, but it's probably one of the neatest places we have ever been.  North of Dublin is a place called Newgrange that is also on our list of "must sees" when in Ireland--but also a place that doesn't allow pictures! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Week on the Rollercoaster

It's been a heck of a week here.  Monday and Tuesday weren't too bad, actually pretty good, I had several things sell quickly on Ebay that I wasn't expecting.  Wednesday morning we woke up to a cold house--our furnace had quit.  I called the repair guy, hoping it was something simple.  Not so--the furnace was dead, not just broke, dead dead.  As in "has to be replaced dead".  Ugh.  Luckily when we bought this house almost three years ago (has it really been that long?) we were aware of the fact that it wasn't exactly a new furnace, so we were somewhat prepared for this and not completely shocked.  But why does this kind of stuff always happen when it's nasty cold out and not just mildly cold?  Luckily for us we have some nice electric space heaters and the dining room has a ventless gas heater that we don't use just sitting there.  I shut off the unused bedrooms and we were at least able to stay warm just using those.  Yesterday they came and put the new one in and we are all toasty warm again.  Just need to get the odors that come with new equipment out of the house.

So yesterday while I was waiting for them to finish the install, my purse came that I ordered from Overstock--love it!  I needed that pick me up, couldn't have come at a better time.  And in the evening I was looking for something on LLBean and came across a coat on sale that I couldn't pass up.  I LOVE love love my LLBean barn jacket and I wanted one like it with just a bit more insulation for running errands and going to the grocery store in during colder weather.  I have a very nice Lands' End parka but it is just a bit too warm for when you get in the store and start walking around.   Lo and behold, LLBean had a corduroy version with quilted lining like my favorite barn jacket on clearance for $33!!!  I couldn't get my order typed in quickly enough.  Nothing like a little retail therapy bargain to make me feel better about the $3000 I just forked out for a new furnace LOL.

I was barely done basking in the thrill of my LLBean bargain when Laney started acting strange.  Next thing I know "yak" all over the edge of the carpet.  Got it cleaned up only to have her puke again.  Then we discovered two more in the bedroom.  Before it was over with she puked 11 times!!!  I did call the vet and he gave us some advice (I love our vet)  and the last puke was a combination of liquid, Pepto Bismol and a little bit of blood (which the vet had forewarned me might happen)  all over my nice tan rug.  Great.  I did manage to get most of it out with disinfecting wipes and got her settled.  She hasn't had any problems since, we think she ate something out of the backyard.  I know I will be scrubbing the rug in the living room before the weekend is out.  My neck is killing me, I'm sure the stress of the week has caught up with me.  Thank heavens for Excedrin Migraine.

Today I am going to concentrate on getting the last of our taxes done, getting caught up on all the house stuff that I couldn't get done because it was too cold in here, and this afternoon we are going to see "Lincoln".  We have one of those $3 theaters here and we've been waiting for it to get there.  Good timing!  Have a great weekend everyone! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ireland, Part 6-Jerpoint Abbey

On our way back to Kilkea from Waterford we made a stop at Jerpoint Abbey.  A Cistercian Abbey, built in the 12th century, it flourished until the Dissolution of the Monastaries by Henry the VIII.  It is well known for it's carvings, and many well known and distinguished people from the surrounding area are buried there. 


When we were there they were doing some repairs and building a small visitor center, a common sight around various Irish landmarks.  An influx of money along with help from the European Union made it possible for many historic landmarks to be upgraded and repaired. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ireland, Part 5--Waterford Crystal

I am going to warn you in advance--this particular post is very picture heavy!  I thought it necessary though, and I hope you will agree once you see it :) 

One nice thing about where we were staying was we had a lot of options of things to do and see.  Highest on my list was going to the Waterford Crystal factory, so we headed out early in the morning since it was a bit of a drive to get there.  It was well worth the trip though, probably one of the best tours of our entire trip.  I was very surprised at just how much of the manufacturing process we got to see.

The tour started with a history of the company with a fantastic display about the celebration for Millenium New Year's Eve.  Waterford made the ball that dropped in Times Square for the event:
Two were made--one for the actual event and the "spare" shown here. 

From there we got to see the glass blowing process:

Some pieces awaiting the next steps in the process:

This woman is marking reference points for the glass cutting process:

The glass cutters at Waterford have gone through a rigorous training process and there are only several people who do all of the cutting. 
Some of the prototypes with the layouts on them for reference. 
 This is where some of the custom work is done.  I especially liked this vase with the ship etched in to it. 
Two trophies for golf tournaments here in the United States:

Of course the tour ends with an exit on to the showroom floor!  I purchased a small item, partially because it was all I wanted to spend and also because lead crystal weighs a ton.  I'd already purchased a large piece at Galway crystal and I had to take in to consideration packing these pieces in my carry-on bag! 

As you exited the showroom, this beautiful crystal harp was displayed, how appropriate.
I will say that I can't guarantee anyone the same experience we had.  A couple of years ago Waterford hit hard times, underwent a complete re-organization and closed the Ireland factory.  I thought that seemed kind of strange seeing as that is where it started!  They have since resumed operations in Ireland, but I don't think it is in the same location it was originally, I have no idea if they still have tours and if they do, no idea if they are as extensive.  It would definitely be worth checking out though, if it is anything close to what we experienced, you won't be sorry!