Wednesday, October 30, 2013


When I was in high school taking Latin my teacher had a nervous breakdown during one of my classes.
In college, my creative writing instructor also had a nervous breakdown during our class.
I was the common link. :)

Last year at about this time Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast of the US with high winds, rains, flooding and other acts of nature.
This past weekend large parts of the UK experienced winds of 80mph, a deluge of rain, downed trees and flooding.

I was in the US last year.
I am in the UK this year.

As a few friends have pointed out, it might not be JUST a coincidence. :)

You just might want to figure out where I will be and head somewhere else.  Just a suggestion. :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Foraging for Mushrooms: Ginger, please forgive me I have fungus to enjoy.

Russula virescens, showing the spotted edges to the cap

Broad leaved woodland, especially beech.  It is difficult to confuse this mushroom with any other Russula or fungi in the British Isles.

We came home and did some research and found this online.  I then identified the trees amongst which the mushrooms were growing as, in fact, being beech.

That, plus the last line above, convinced me we would not be killing ourselves.  Therefore...

We harvested the above 12 mushrooms which I have cleaned and frozen to be enjoyed in many lovely meals to come.  I  am really loving this foraging thing. :)
Sorry Ginger.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quick, How many ounces in a cup?

If you answered 8 and live in England you would be WRONG.  Here, there are 10 ounces in cup and 20 ounces in a pint.

Gas over here is not gasoline, it is natural gas.
Gasoline is diesel or petrol.

Nappies are diapers.

A boot is a car trunk and not footwear.

Silverstone is a type of expensive beef and not a non-stick covering on your frying pans.

A jumper is a sweater.
Pants are ladies panties and trousers are what you talk about in public.

Chips are fries and crisps are our potato chips.

Treacle is molasses.
Sugar is either granulated, caster, icing or brown.

Corn starch is corn flour.
Cornmeal is coarse ground corn.
A swede is a turnip.

Washing soda is washing crystals and borax is NOWHERE to be found.
Dish washing liquid is washing up liquid.

Passata is spaghetti sauce.
Stock melts are boullion.

You can buy shredded beef suet in the store as well as cubes of lard.

And, you can also buy canned cod roe (which I have yet to figure out how I would use.)

And ASDA is the British branch of Walmart.

We only think we speak English. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pa and Laura in 21st Century England

For those of you who have read the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and specifically Little House on the Prairie, here is a door like Pa and Laura build in that book.  See the Z timbers providing the support?  See the chain that provides the locking mechanism? That is Pa and Laura.  The door below is in the bathroom of our temporary "home".

This is our front door in our current rental.  If you look closely, you can see that the lock mechanism is basically the same, although the door above has a key to locki it.
It also is a split door.  I can open the top half for air/breeze.  Lovely.

I am sure Pa and Laura would be happy.

What do you think, Faith?

Sloe and Crabby with a Beautiful View

We have picked even more sloes along the canal path.  We will be making more sloe gin as a break from our ginger beer.  I will also then have more pits to crack and take the centers out to use to make almond flavoring. (Who would have thought almond flavoring was made from fruit pits. Not me.)

While out on the path we also picked crab apples and will be using the juice to make a ginger/apple beer and some juice to enjoy in the morning.  I also picked some larger crab apples to use with some of my reduced apples to make applesauce. The larger crab apples are from a regular apple tree that has gone back to the stock tree that was grafted to (often a crab apple.)

For the beautiful view, look above.  If you look closely, you can see a second rainbow in the above picture.  And, although we could not get it into one picture, we could see the beginning and end of the rainbows.  That is supposed to be a sign of good luck.
And for family members, yes we did say Hello to John.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fish and Chips and Fraud

Mike and I discovered this past weekend that somebody had obtained access to our bank account and was buying things using our money.
We cancelled our debit cards (what they were using) over the phone but they needed a notarized form in order to reimburse us for the purchases made.
Sounds easy, doesn't it.
First, a notary in the UK is not the same as a notary in the US. Magistrates in the UK are notaries.  They don't want to spend their time authenticating signatures.
So, we tried to find someone who would do it.  Doctors in the UK will authenticate signatures but only if you are on their register of patients.
Banks used to authenticate but most have now stopped doing so, even for their customers.
However, we did find that Lloyds would authenticate for us if we opened an account there.
Today, we did just that, had the paperwork signatures authenticated, and faxed it out to our bank.

To celebrate, we went to the pub, had a pint and some fish and chips.  It was a lovely celebration!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Request for Info for Blog "Maintenance"

A friend who reads the blog has let me know that she is unable to post a comment onto the blog after reading a post.  I was wondering if anyone else has had the same issue.
I noticed that there were very few comments but just figured my ramblings were such that comments were not called for. :)
Also, since I am not technologically inclined, does anyone have an idea of how I could fix such an issue.  I checked the one thing I knew to check and it is set up to take your comments.  I now have no idea what to do next. (Joelle, wish you were here. :)
Thanks for any help you can give me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Physical For Emma John

Yesterday, while I was being snugly domestic, Mike and the BSS inspector were giving the Emma John a physical.  The systems as well as the physical structure were given a thorough going over to make sure everything was shipshape and Bristol fashion (to use an old British saying). :)

I am pleased to report that except for needing to secure a battery to the floor Emma John passed with flying colors.  The inspector was quite impressed with how well she had been outfitted and maintained.  So, with the luck of beginners, we managed to get a boat that was even better than we thought.  I much prefer that to the alternative. :)

However, Mike did come home cold and wet after a very long day of inspecting (10-4) and no lunch.  So, I brewed him a cuppa, warmed up some leftover pasta with sausage and blue cheese sauce and followed that with some ginger beer since we all know the warming power of ginger. :)

Later we had baked potatoes with all the fixings, oven roasted root veg with apples and some of the blackberry custard pie.  By bed time he was feeling back to his usual self.

A Domestic Rainy Day

Extracting Cherry Noyaux | Oysters & Pearls

It rained almost all day yesterday. So, I busied myself around the flat.  I did such necessary things as laundry, paperwork, dishes and such.  But then I also did the fun stuff.

I started 3 more bottles of ginger beer.  Mike has decided that liquor is just too expensive here to allow for his nightly cocktail ($30 for less than 720ml) so he will be joining me sipping a glass of ginger beer in the evenings.  So, have to keep the supply fermenting. :)

Gin o'clock: look out for trees drooping with damsons

I also took the sloes out of the freezer and separated the pulp from the pits. The pulp was then mixed with gin and sugar.  It will now sit until around Christmas time when it will be strained and we have some beautiful dark purple liquor to enjoy over the holidays.

Extracting Peach & Cherry Noyaux | Oysters & Pearls

I put the pits back into the freezer so that the outside shell will be easier to break when I decide to make homemade almond extract.  The inside bit of the pits of fruits such as peaches, cherries, plums is what is used for this.  I will need quite a few but I am now well on my way.

I then turned my hand to making a batch of homemade granola to enjoy for breakfast and for dessert with fruit and homemade yogurt.  Since the day had a feel of fall I seasoned it such with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and with just a little brown sugar.  Once it had toasted in the oven I added the sultanas with orange peel.  We had some for breakfast today and it turned out great.

While all of this was going on I had a batch of blackberry jam going slowly on the stove.  Since I had no pectin to add I used time and lemon juice to do the job.  It took a little longer but we now have a largish batch of jam in the frig to enjoy with toast or to use in recipes.

I still have half of the blackberries to do something with so I will probably make some blackberry syrup today to use on pancakes or french toast.  I'm glad I bought extra sugar when I went shopping Sunday. :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

We Have Foraged Again

Today was a beautiful day with the temp outside being warmer than inside.  So, we took a walk along the canal path and harvested over a kilo of blackberries that are destined to become jam and syrup.  YUM!

While picking the blackberries we noticed that there were still some sloes in the hedgerow.  So, in the afternoon we were back harvesting a kilo of sloes that we will use to make sloe gin.  Sloes are of the plum family but they are mouth puckering bitter on their own. However, mixed with gin and sugar they blend to make a wonderful liquor that can be drank and used in many recipes.  Hence, two bottles to see us through the winter. I see sauces for meat, a Christmas pudding and some jelly in its future.

Yesterday I made some mustard for our thinly sliced ham and cheese sandwiches on homemade bread.  Quite nice.
For dinner we had homemade pizza with the homemade ricotta, onions and homemade italian sausage.  We really enjoyed our "junk food" meal.  And ended it with a blackberry custard pie.

I also started another batch of ginger beer. I find it quite tasty to sip in the evening and at only 1pound or about $1.60 per 2 litre batch it doesn't break the bank.  Bourbon here is about $25 for 3/4 of a litre.  Whiskey (scotch in the US) is about $30 for a litre. Drinking here can be quite expensive...unless you can make your own, such as my ginger beer. So we will leave the hard stuff for special ocassions and celebrations. :)

Another enjoyed beverage, my Starbucks sugarfree vanilla soy lattes, will be a very infrequent treat. When we bought one on our first day here we discovered that they are not the less than $5.50 drink I enjoyed in Erie but a $14.77 drink!  OUCH!  It will now be a VERY SPECIAL treat.  Unfortunately. :(

Friday, October 18, 2013

An Image of Traditional England

A beautiful thatched roof just up the road from where we are.  How wonderful to see it is still used.
A thatched roof can last 50 years!  Since a new layer is often put over the old layer, the roof can be 7 1/2 inches thick.  The thatch acts as wonderful insulation keeping the house warm in winter and cool in summer.  And, it is very eco friendly, if not an expensive way to roof your home today.  The iron is that it was originally the roofing material of the poor!

To me it looks like a piece of living, working art.

The Emma John

We have decided to rename out boat.  We have no idea and cannot find any information about Dobie Jade and what that means.  So, we are renaming her to mean something to us.  It is felt by some that renaming a boat can bring bad luck.  But, I am sure this name will bring us only good luck.  How could it do otherwise?

Welcome to The Emma John. Long may she sail and always in peaceful waters.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A little of this and a little of that

Above is my homemade ricotta draining.  I did not have cheesecloth so I used two of Mike's hankies sterilized with boiling water.  The whey that drained from it is mostly gone since I used it to make two loaves of bread.  The rest I will use in the pizza dough I am making tomorrow.  Some of the ricotta will also be on that pizza.  Yum!

Below are the cookies I made, a chocolate/peanut butter/oatmeal.  Mike loves them.  A dozen and a half are already gone and I have had maybe the half dozen.

This is the view from the top of the hill overlooking where we are staying.  I think it looks like a scene out of the BBC series "All Creatures Great and Small".  Beautiful

My Charity Shop (Mostly) Kitchen and Bedroom

On the seat of the couch are the majority of the items for my kitchen: plates, mugs, bowls,coffee/tea pot, glasses, liquid measuring cup, pots and pans, quiche pan, oven proof dishes, muffin pan, metal rack, grater, mixing bowl, cutting board, rolling pin, measuring cups, measuring spoons, potholders, dishcloths, wooden spoons, spatulas, silverware, etc. 

On the back of the couch are my two sets of linen for our bed.

In front are the items bought new: 4 pillows (just can't even dream of using used), a mattress protector (ditto), an imersion blender (no sign of one used) and my 2014 calendar with cute kittens for each month.

All of this for only 144.67 pounds sterling or approximately $231.48

I still need to get a cookie sheet, stove top pressure cooker, a toaster and, hopefully, a pizza pan (to me a rectangle pizza is not a real pizza :).  That, hopefully we be about another 50 pounds sterling or $85 dollars.

So, a total cost of about $306.48.  What do you think, did I do well?  It has been so long since I bought most of this stuff I really don't know.  Oh well, too late now.  It's all ours.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Third Time is a Charm?

Remember the tuna chowder I made awhile back?
It later morphed into a tuna and cheese strata.
Today it will morph into tuna and cheese patties with a cheese sauce.
And, God willing, it will be done with at the end of dinner. (Please.)

I am good at cooking for many.
I am not so good at cooking for two.
I can not make a small pot of soup no matter how hard I try.
Hence the two makeovers above. :)

And, it is not just the soup, if I am honest.

Remember the eggplant and bean burgers?
That morphed into the meatballs and pasta.
I still have another dinner of that in the fridge to finish.

And the bangers and mash with onion gravy?
The mash morphed into potato pancakes.
The gravy was used with stock to cook a rice pilaf last night AND YOU GUESSED IT
I now have leftover rice to figure out how to use up. :)
But that one is not fair.  I only used a 1/2 cup of rice.  Who knew it would make so much! Obviously I didn't. :)

Does anyone know if there is a support group available for people who can't judge the amount of food to cook?  I seem to need one. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shopping Time

I have been spending and having fun.  I have done my second grocery shopping going for some meat (chicken legs and a combo mince of pork and beef), cocoa, cornmeal, canned tomatoes, beet root and vodka to make vanilla.  I also bought two quarts of semi skimmed milk that I used today to make ricotta cheese.

I have also started visiting the charity shops looking for dishes, pots and pans, bedding, etc. that we will need for the boat. Today I was at 6 and tomorrow, at a different town (Royal Leamington Spa), I will be visiting 8 more.

Today I found a duvet cover and pillow cases, a glass mixing bowl, 2 oven bowls, a grater, mugs, a tea pot, a tea kettle, two more pillow cases, and 3 ramekins.  I have kept them white so that I can mix and match what I find at different locations. What fun.

I have yet to find any pots and pans since I want ones with metal handles so that they can be used in the oven, too. Maybe tomorrow.

I also need plates, bowls, glasses, etc.  I have a week so wish me luck.

My hope is to buy most of what I need from charity shops but I may have to resort to regular stores eventually.  We'll see.

Oh, I think I forgot to tell you that I made cultured buttermilk (some of which I used in pancakes this morning) and creme fraiche.  Homemade vanilla is now in the works but it will take awhile. I am so proud.

Tonight I made rice with mushrooms, onions and spinach and mushroom toasts with creme fraiche. Homemade applesauce and broccoli rounded out the menu.

Last night was made over eggplant and bean burgers into pasta with "meatballs."
We have also foraged more blackberries to enjoy.

Life is good.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Just Want to Celebrate!

We have a boat.  The Dobie Jade is to be our new home.
boat drawing
She is 57 feet long and was built in 2004.  Wonderful news : she has a portable washer and a small 4 cf freezer!  I am in heaven.  She sleeps 4 easily and could do another 1 or 2 with a little extra rearranging. There are covers for both the bow and stern, although you can only see the one for the stern in the picture, which makes those spaces more useable.  She also comes with the bike you see in the picture.
Here is a picture standing at the bow end looking toward the stern.
She is a little too "busy" for my taste but I will start changing that by changing the curtains.  That should make it more "soothing" to the eye.
I especially love the flooring since it will be much easier to keep clean and looks much richer to the eye than carpet throughout.
The circular "hole" You see by the seating is where a table fits in for eating.  It stores in the gunnels under the windows when not in use.

 boat photo
 This is the everyday table.  

Here is the solid wood stove with an eco fan on top to circulate the warm air that sits in the corner of the living room.  The radiators under the gunnel are fed from the boat's boiler as one way of heating and the stove is the other way.  Always good to have a backup if you don't want to freeze.
boat photo

The same is true of the hot water.  The boat's engine is the primary source when you are motoring but there is a backup immersion heater for when we are stopped. Hence, no need for cold showers.  Yeah!

 boat photo
 boat photo

  Here is my new kitchen.  It's compact but it is all there, including the beloved freezer.  You can just see the roof window in the kitchen that will provide more light and air flow when open.

boat photo
boat photo

Self explanatory.

boat photo
Here is a shot of our bedroom.  This will be the first time I can watch TV in bed but we won't have TV.  The laugh is on me.

boat photoThe curtain you see at the back of the picture is to keep drafts out.  It is at the bottom of the stairs to the stern area.

The grand tour is now at an end.  Hope you enjoyed your "stay" on the Dobie Jade.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Robin Hood Country

Today we went to Nottingham to look at more boats.  Unfortunately, we saw no sign of Maid Marion, Robin Hood or the famed Sheriff.

We did see more boats.  Our sales lady was Emma Shakespeare, no joke.

 Hopefully Mike will stop looking soon.  We need to just draw a line and make a decision. 

This is a man who buys houses quickly (twice after only looking at one house and once without my even seeing it). But now he can't seem to commit to a boat.  Soon Mike, please.

Tonight I made a traditional British dish: Bangers and Mash with onion gravy made with my homemade veggie broth.  It was very good comfort food.  I served it with a blackberry crisp made with our foraged blackberries.  It was the perfect ending to a comfort food meal.  Since it rained all day, comfort food was a must.

I also made banana bread to have for breakfast tomorrow.  Little Miss Domestic.  That's me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sarah D, Lady C and Dobie Jane

We saw more boats today and I hope this is soon over.  They are beginning to blend together.

Outside our rental door I took the time to look down :) and discovered a chives plant and a sage plant. I have dried some sage leaves and am wondering about the chives.  I have not like the results of either drying or freezing chives.  Any suggestions as to what I am doing wrong?

Tonight I tried my hand at making slightly alcoholic ginger beer.  If we like it that could be our tipple of choice. :)  Will keep you posted.

We are becoming experts at the roundabout that abound over here.  They would be a great way to teach a child how to count as you figure out whether to take the first, second or third exit off the roundabout.

Today getting to one marina we stopped at the GPS was a little frustrated and ended up just telling us we were driving on a road (very narrow and unpaved)  but she had no name for it.  And neither did we but we found the marina any way.

Tonight I made aubergine and kidney bean burgers for dinner.  In the US an aubergine = an eggplant.
They were quite good.

I have also done my second load of laundry.  The capacity of the washer is much smaller than I am used to BUT I can wash and dry the load in the same machine and I don't have to be home to do it. The machine does it automatically. :)

Hope everyone is well.  Remember you can send me a plain email at


 Our foraged blackberries.

Our current neighbors at the rental.
 Our rental.
View from our rental.

Ezzy Doze It, Straight and Narrow, Wind in the Willows and more

We have our first day of boat shopping under our belt with at least one more to go and probably two.  We looked at quite a few in our size and price range and discovered they run the gamut from yuck to this could work. We have not found the one that speaks to both of us and has what we want such as a bow thruster, a generator, etc. So, the search goes on.

Where we are staying is near the canal and last night we wnt forraging in the bushes that line the canal bath and picked blackberries.  The hedge was full of them so I know that will be repeated a few more times.  I think I might make a cobbler.

Last night I made a chowder for supper along with apples and cheese.  It hit the spot after a day spent in and out of a light rainfall. 

We had to slow down yesterday to allow a quail to go trucking across the road as if she owned it.  We also took time to watch about six deer grazing in a field gleaning what the farmer had left behind. 

Mike took some pics for me to put up here as soon as I have a moment to figure out how.  Until then, I guess you must live in anticipation.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Technology Day

Wednesday was all about getting our technology in place.  After breakfast (I made biscuits using self rising flour and single cream, so easy) we drove into Coventry to Cell Phone Warehouse. This store had been recommended to us.

Visa in hand, Mike ventured forth into the fray while I, a technology midget, sat in the car and did paperwork and crossword puzzles, with a break to walk across the street to get something to drink. Literally hours later, Mike returned with a Samsung Galaxy smart phone and monthly coverage plan. (Mike and the salesman THOROUGHLY explored the pros and cons of ALL available choices. :) )

The phone will also act as our needed hotspot on the boat to provide internet connectivity. It's a wonderful thing. I could be falling in love here. Now I can email and blog and stay connected with friends and family. :)  We have a plan heavy on data and light on calls which should suit us fine. I would tell you the new phone number but Mike hasn't given it to me yet. When he wakes up I will ask. I promise.

Once that was done we again went grocery shopping but at a different store this time. Their selection was better but their prices higher. I did, however, find some reduced produce and cheeses. Hopefully we are now set for several days.

After the shopping we ended up driving home in the dark, a new experience but accomplished without incident. Although, I noticed cocktails were served promptly but I am sure that was only because it was past 7:30. :)

We had beans and greens over pasta, garlic cheese biscuits and shortbread with sliced bananas. After dinner I made a loaf of Cuban bread which looked and smelled divine but I haven't tried it yet.

Thursday is day one of our boat shopping. Think good thoughts. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

David Winter Cottages Below

As we were preparing to land in London at a few minutes before 7:00am local time (2:00am US time), I looked down on the countryside around London and could have been excused for believing I was looking down on a scene made up of David Winter cottages.  It was charming and soon I would be a part of it!

We left DC the evening before on Virgin Atlantic.  Although they don't give you any more space in economy class, they do try to make the flight more comfortable for you by supplying ear plugs, eye shades, pillows, blankets, wine and decent food.  All in all, I recommend them, especially since they gave us a wonderful deal.

Once on the ground and through passport and customs control, we headed to the car rental desk.  Mike had rented a car to take us to the flat we rented to house us until we buy and move onto the boat. 

But, before driving there, we had to first find the store suggested by the nice lady at the Enterprise car rental desk  as the place to buy our GPS to be used in the UK and Europe.  That took a few passes  and a couple of additional requests for directions before we could locate the store.

Driving on the left as we headed to the store resulted in only one close call caused by instinctively going to the right instead of the left side when turning the corner onto a new road.  Really, not too bad, although my heart did pound for a few minutes after it occurred. :)

GPS leading, we then set out for our temporary home located about one hour outside of London.  Mike did quite well driving for a man who had been awake as long as he had.  My job was to remind him at necessary points (turns and roundabouts) to keep left.

The scenery along the was beautiful.  Quickly out of the urban area, we passed trees still full of leaves, green fields, woolly sheep, and contented cows. It was amazing how quickly the trappings of the city disappeared to be replaced bu centuries old buildings and fields surrounded by hedge rows instead of fences. Wonderful.

Arriving at our destination, we had lunch (and a celebratory pint) at a local pub, unloaded our luggage into our flat, and headed out to buy some groceries to see us through the next 24 hours or so.  We found a local Aldi and bought 25 pounds of groceries.  Dinner that night consisted of roasted potatoes, Irish sausages, carrots and homemade shortbread for dessert.  Cheese had been our appetizer to go with Mike's whiskey and my hard cider.

By 10:00 pm local time  we were on our way to bed.  I did not blog since I might  have been awake but my mind definitely was not functioning at peak performance after so many hours without sleep and who knows what I might have written (although it might have been fun to see).

Our adventure has started!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The game is on

To me, beating the system has  always been a fun part of the game of saving money.  One of my favorite places to play this game is in the grocery store. I search for bargains and stock up  when I find them. By doing so I have managed to feed the two of us very

In England this will be a challenge since the conditions to be faced are very different.

First, I will no longer have a freezer to store my good buys.
Second, my frig will be about the size of a dorm frig so no extra storage there.
Third, even the stockpiling of shelf stable items will have to be kept to a minimum considering the overall space of the boat.
Fourth, food in England is more expensive than what I am used to spending.

However, I am determined to find the tricks that will let me beat the system there, too.
I will be keeping a record of the cost of food and using that to help me determine the costs of meals. My menus will be adjusted accordingly.
I will be exploring the supermarkets, local shops and other resources for food to discover what to by where.
And, I will be paying close attention to the locals and how they shop. I am sure there are tricks to be learned from them.

My first shop is just about 48 hours away. I will report back but I warn you, I will shamelessly blame jet lag if the final cost is outrageous.:-)

More about Downsizing

I have been asked to give a few more details about our downsizing so here goes.

Over time we have inherited and purchased enough stuff to fill the largest U-Haul truck and have an embarssing amont left over.

Over the last year I have worked hard to find new homes for at least 95% of it.  Some went to family (they got first dibs), a lot went to friends, and car load after car load went to the Salvation Army. Mike and I were there so often that they now recognize us both and we have some new friends.:-)

Initially, I went through the hose and cleared out the easy stuff such as extra mugs and no longer worn clothing. I was self chastised when I donated all the craft items I  purchased and then never used. (Memo to self: craft using what you have!)

The second round required some more thinking and some harder decisions. I had to give myself permission to not keep every inherited item or gift. I took a "memory picture" and let it go. Box after box of holiday decorations, family linens I didn't' use because my table wasn't the right size, etc. left to find new homes. Freeycle was a great resource for finding some of these new homes.

The final pass through the house saw some treasured items leaving to be loved by new families. Surprisingly, this was not as hard as expected since I now had practice and a new mindset. My china (12 place settings)  went to someone at work who loves to entertain. My crystal went to another friend at work. The dining room set is being enjoyed by  by some of my extended family of the heart. And, my wedding gown will be used to make christening gowns and family heirlooms for new families. I am content.

By the end we have kept 13 pieces of furniture, 15 paper boxes of miscellaneous items and 3 larger plastic totes of bulkier items. Plus, Uncle Bill's snow blower, the new grill/smoker, and the newer patio furniture.

I no longer feel owned by my possessions. They do not define me.

Who knows, there just might be something  to this new minimalist life style.:-)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Language and Driving Skills are Tested

Yesterday afternoon, after a Hurculean effort by Mike (he seems to work best under pressure :) ) we left behind Erie and headed to DC.  We were driving both cars since we hoped to sell my Honda to an interested father in Virginia. (Sale has now been completed. Yeah!)

I am not a willing big city driver. More than three lanes and my nerves begin to fray and my language skills lessen to just good old Anglo Saxon words of frustration.

Because we left later than planned we missed rush hour BUT we ended up having to drive I270 and the beltway after dark. Not good. Every lane change led to silent prayers and not so silent words of frustration since all the headlights merged into a mass and an accident seemed in the inevitable future. But, God protects those such as me and we made it safe and sound. After a small scotch and water all was again right with the world.

If I could handle yesterday's drive the canalboat holds no fear. There it is only two lanes and max speed of 4 mph. I was traveling a little faster than that last night when I would throw myself in front of traffic.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Inside or Outside the Box?

Mike and I have been doing what we laughingly refer to as "The Farewell Tour."  During one visit I saw another view of myself that has had me thinking.  Apparently our quickly approaching adventure seems out of character for many who see us (especially me) as VERY inside the box.  The funny thing is I have never seen myself that way.

I have always felt outside the box in comparison to my generation.  I cooked from scratch, canned, made bread, sewed curtains and clothing, thrift store shopped, upcycled/recycled, etc. LONG before it became even somewhat the norm. To paraphrase an old country song, "I was frugal and eco before frugal and eco were cool."

Plus, I have always loved the idea of traveling.  There are so many places to see and not enough time to see them.  This part of our retirement is a dream come true.

And, it is almost here!  We leave for DC to visit kids and grandkids in about 48 hours. We are flying Virgin Atlantic nonstop from DC on Monday.  We will be staying in an apartment/house while we find the boat and get it ready for the water.  We have found one for sale that we both like and that is in our price range.  Hopefully it will be available once we get there.

My two checked bags are packed and weighed and come in at just under 50 pounds each.  I have my carry on and purse almost packed and I have my fingers crossed that the bag is under 23 pounds.  If not, wonder what stays home.

Mike has not packed yet but he is laying out what he hopes to take.  Max, however, keeps pushing it all off the table to the floor.  Apparently he does not approve of Mike's choices.  It could be a long Thursday for him. :)  

I am really starting to get excited now.  Can't wait to start.

An aside, I must apologize to those who so faithfully gave me addresses to send this to.  I had them just a few days ago and not they are AWOL.  Hence, the sending to work addresses.  If you resend the address to I will update my mailing group.  Also, I am still figuring out the ins and out of all of this blogging stuff.  Patience on your part will be required.  Please remember that I am technologically challenged.