Back in the Swing Friday Fotos


My last first week of school is in the books. 8 more until my last Fall Break. It's been an exhausting week and I haven't even started seeing my students yet!

I made scones from a King Arthur Mix and they were delicious!

Looks like I wasn't the only one tuckered out by the end of the week!

My stuff is back in the room but no flooring. I'm hearing over "break" but I don't think what break was specified. I'm glad they polished the floor, but the concrete dust was everywhere

After over 2 weeks the Mystery Machine is back! CH took her to a place for routine maintenance on the brake line but the people messed it up so he had to have it towed to another place to have it fixed. It was weird not seeing her in the driveway. I missed her!

Gurl Dogg was just too tired to chew on the chewy one morning but she kept it close so Laika wouldn't snatch it from her!

On Election Day I drove over to this restaurant in the mountain town to grab a sandwich.

It's right on the river so you can sit outside and enjoy the sound and the view. 

How cool is this? When you walk in you walk through the chapel to get to the bar area to order food.

As I said...1 week down, and 8 more to go until Fall Break. I'm really making an effort to be in the moment and not take pictures. With school back in session, there's not just a whole lot else going on!

Miscellaneous Friday Fotos

There aren't a lot of photos from this week, but I do have a couple along with a video of one of our pups. 
I saw this turtle in the fountain as I was walking one evening. I don't think it's the same one I saw in a different section of the park, but they were very similar in size.

This is what my room in my mountain school looks like. I don't know if I'll be getting flooring in or not. I'm okay with the polished "industrial look" but I do need my stuff put back in!
The brook was filled to the brim after a summer storm. I'm thankful for the afternoon rains we're getting.

And last but not least: Here's Laika performing so she can get her chewy:

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Fiver Hodgepodge

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. According to author Gary Chapman there are five love languages-words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. Which one is yours? 

Acts of service

2. What are five foods you eat every day? 

Cereal, yogurt, fruit, graham crackers (most days), and some kind of meat.

3. Five places you'd love to visit?

Lake Louise/Banff, Scotland, the Grand Canyon, Italy, Lichtenstein. That last one may seem a little strange but it's a country I've wanted to visit since I was young. I used to have a couple of posters in my room of Lichtenstein. I was close to it when I went to Germany with a group from the Small Town High School. The teacher tried to make it happen but it just wasn't doable. You can find posts from that trip under the Germany/Austria tab (or just click on the link).

I'd also love to go back to Ireland and England; heck, all of Great Britain! Almost anywhere in Europe would be great. I'd love to one day go to Fatima, Portugal since my Parish is named for the "Miracle of the Sun" that happened there. There's just so much to see in this great big world. 

4. Something you've done recently that deserved a 'high five'?

5.  Give us five 5-letter words that describe your July. 

Binge: I binged on Marvel movies. My greatest accomplishment of the summer is that I completed the whole series from beginning to end.

Early: I woke up for early morning walks every weekday.

Habit: That quickly became a habit!

Oasis: A couple of quick camping trips became an oasis for CH & I.

Faith: Except for the days when we were camping, I attended Daily Mass. I loved being able to start my day expressing my faith and maybe that made up for the binging! 

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

As July comes to a close, the school year begins. This is my last school year before I retire. Honestly, I just want to get through this year and continue to do the best job I can to help these little ones. This was the first summer since we've been married (38 years) that CH & I both haven't been working. Last year he was working from home so it was a bit different. There were definitely some ups and downs as we try to get used to so many factors in our life. I would be lying if I said I didn't have some apprehension about what this year will bring. I just have to leave it in God's hands and trust in His plan. 

Catching Up with Friday Fotos

It's been a while, eh? Here's a "catch-up" of my pictures on my phone over the past few weeks.

Proof that our strawberry plants produced fruit. We didn't get to eat them, though but I'm sure the birds enjoyed them.
CH & I took an overnight camping trip to Mile High Campground near Cherokee, NC. We stopped at Newfound Gap which straddles the TN/NC border and were treated with some spectacular views enhanced by the cloud cover.
The rhododendron were blooming. I don't recall ever seeing them quite in full bloom like they were. Just beautiful!
This is the view from our campsite. Mile High is one of our favorite places to camp and is a great place to escape the heat. We were there in early July and once the sun went down I was in leggings and a sweatshirt.
There are elk that roam the campground but our site was too far away from where they are usually seen. We saw this girl at the Okonaluftee Visitor's Center on our way out. I have to say this as a PSA: If you see these gorgeous animals, stay in your car. They are not pets and can do some damage. Some things are best admired from a distance!
I was walking Gurl Dogg one day and saw something moving in the distance. I thought it looked like a little alligator...what??? Alligators in East TN??? I was able to get fairly close to it, keeping GD behind me to get a better look. GD must have some smarts about her because she could have cared less to have seen this snapping turtle.
On another walk with GD, I saw this mushroom growing on a tree. It kind of looks like a patio umbrella for fairies, doesn't it?

On yet another walk with GD, I barely saw this rabbit. She did a good job of camouflaging herself against the pile of mulch.
We took another short camping trip as my last summer as a school employee wound down. We didn't get the elevation I would have liked, but this was a new campground for me and we wanted to try out the tent that attaches to the awning off of the van to see how I liked it. If you want to find out, watch for a comparison between that tent and the one we usually use on our Flyin' the Coop blog.

These 2-a-day walks make for one tired pooch!

That gets me caught up for now! Follow my IG account @mskicoop as well as our camping IG @flying_the_coop for more.

Ireland Adventure: Next Time

I just can't let my Ireland Series go! It was indeed a trip of a lifetime, and it's given me the encouragement to go on more trips like this and to be more adventurous. 

Throughout our trip we found ourselves saying "next time we'll ...". Hopefully there will be a next time, if not to the same areas of Ireland then parts that we didn't visit.

Next time, we'll definitely use Bunk Campers again. If I'm not with CH, I'll rent a car and stay in B&Bs. And I'll go a little later than mid-March. I want to see the heather in bloom.

Next time, we won't even plan where we're going, we'll just go where the wind takes us. We'll take advice from locals and go from there.

Dublin: I missed Kilmainham Gaol the previous 2 visits, so that has to be at the top of the list next time. I just don't want to spend more than 1 day in Dublin; there's too much to see to be stuck in a metropolitan city that doesn't really "feel" like Ireland!

I would definitely go to Athlone, County Westmeath (between Dublin and Galway) to visit Sean's Bar, the oldest pub in Ireland (over 1000 years old). And then go back to Ballinasloe to catch up with Sean the barman. And then drive over to Sullivan's in Oughterard for pastries and coffee. After that, I would be all for heading north. I'd love to re-visit Knock; my SIL and I visited there during our visit. 

Next time we'll check out the hurling schedules and watch a game in person. We learned about hurling during our visit to the EPIC museum. If you don't know about the game, this may help:

Next time I'll purchase a cell phone when I get there. CH had his turned on to use internationally and it cost us $10/day. I haven't looked into the cost of just buying one once we get there but it seems like it would be much easier to do that. We had a bit of trouble figuring out the phone numbers so that would alleviate that problem. It also would be much easier to pull up the places we're visiting while we're there instead of finding out what we missed after we got home. 

Next time, we'll plan out our meals and go shopping as soon as we can. That would have been such a time-saver (and money saver) for us. While we enjoyed eating at the pubs and restaurants, I think we should have only eaten out once a day instead of eating out for lunch and supper. In my opinion, we spent too much time in grocery stores almost every day when we could have been doing other things. 

When I wrote the recap post for Flyin' the Coop, CH's advice for anyone thinking about going to Ireland and really visiting Ireland is to just do it. Even if you have to put it on your credit card and pay it off later, just do it. You'll be so glad you did!

This is exactly how we felt about Ireland!

From My Kitchen: June 2022

Figuring out what to cook for dinner during summer in the South can be difficult at times. I definitely don't want to be slaving over a hot stove but I don't want to turn my oven on and make the kitchen even hotter than it is, either. This summer I decided to try some recipes that are an alternative to the stove/cooktop. This month I'm relying on my slow-cooker, air fryer, and breadmaker. 

First up: Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers from The Slow Roasted Italian. I started making these in the oven this past winter and we liked them. I mentioned in the From My Kitchen: January 2022 post that if I realized how easy and good they were I would have made them when the boys were growing up. 

These were good; however, the peppers were a bit "soggy". I don't know what you could do to keep them from getting that way. Would I make them again? Yep; I wouldn't change anything unless I could figure out a way to have the peppers keep some crispness. Leave your ideas in the comments!
Air Fryer Roasted Vegetables. I used mushrooms, onions, a red bell pepper, and squash. I sprinkled the veggies with Greek Seasoning. I sprinkled some feta cheese on top and cooked for about 5 more minutes. These got a 👍 from MS so I'll definitely make them again.

Ziti in the slow cooker? Absolutely! The pictures are from the second time I made it. Definitely make sure you add the tomato sauce! The first time I made it I didn't have any in my pantry so I thought, What difference is 15 oz. of tomato sauce going make?  Answer: a TON of difference. It was much better the second time! And it makes quite a bit so I froze half of it and we had it for supper the next week. 
Last slow cooker meal: Spicy Mongolian Beef and Pineapple. CH & I aren't real fond of warm pineapple, but there was just enough to not cause us to turn our noses. This is another recipe that I made the month before as a kind of trial run; this one was better...a little spicier. I'm not a fan of real spicy foods but this was just the right amount of spice.

Now for the breadmaker trials! I didn't make suppers in them but it was great for making breads I usually use the oven for.
I'm trying to perfect Irish Brown Soda Bread. I think I've almost got it. I used a traditional recipe my SIL sent me that she received from a B&B in Northern Ireland so I can't post that recipe. MS said it tasted too "grainy" so I'm going to try 1:3 ratio of Irish flour to all-purpose flour and see if that makes a difference. It definitely needs the wholemeal flour in it. This recipe is very close to the one I received from my SIL. I didn't use the breadmaker to mix the ingredients but I did use it to bake the bread.

I tried making banana bread in the breadmaker before (see From My Kitchen: January 2022 ) but this recipe was better. I made sure to scrape the sides of the pan while the batter was mixing to decrease the amount of flour that didn't get completely mixed in. Putting the settings on the right loaf size helped as well. This recipe was interesting because it used a bit of buttermilk in it. I think I've found a keeper with this recipe from Tasty Oven.

Okay, this is one thing that I never make in the oven! I don't like to chance that the dough isn't going to rise so I use the no-fail breadmaker recipe. I thought the loaf turned out beautifully using King Arthur Flour's Bread Machine Bread- Easy As Can Be.

How do you beat the heat when it's too hot to turn on the oven? This past month was pretty successful; I'll try all of these recipes again.

Just a Few Friday Fotos

I didn't take very many pictures this week; it's been a week of finally getting off my duff and doing a little bit around the house.

The sunrise as I walked to the park. For some reason, I turned back around and saw this amazing sunrise.
After not working for years, the Sacred Heart Fountain is not only working but a bench was added.
I've done about everything I can to keep the squirrels out of the bird food. This failure occurred after CH brought home some seed with red pepper flakes in them. It doesn't hurt the birds and it's supposed to deter the squirrels. Not this one, apparently.

That's it for this week! Stay cool and stay hydrated!

The Hodgepodge is Heatin' Up

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Something you learned from your father? 
Before my father passed away we had a lot of conversations about different things. I learned a lot about him, things that I had no idea about his life. One of the things he taught me while sitting on his back porch that I carry with me every day is how to identify a cardinal's song. They have different songs, but the one that always makes me smile is when I hear one singing, "Pretty, pretty, pretty". My dad, who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket (for exaggeration!), would do his best to sing like a cardinal. 

2. Do you like onions? Raw or cooked? How about onion rings? What's something you love to eat that calls for onions? 
I'm not a big fan of onion rings but I think onions add a lot of flavor to different dishes. I don't guess "Funyons" count, do they?

3. It's officially summer (in the Northern hemisphere)...your favorite and least favorite things about the season?
Most favorite: being out of school for the summer (no-brainer!)
Least favorite: the heat & humidity

4. When you think about the summers of your childhood what are two or three things that come to mind? 
Walking to and from the local swimming pool and playing outside. We didn't have air conditioning so we played out under the shade trees...a lot. And spent a lot of time at the pool.
5.  A hot mess, the heat of the moment, beat the heat, if you can't stand the heat, catch heat, in a dead heat...choose a 'hot 'phrase and tell us how it applies to your life right now.
This one has me stumped. I guess I'll go with "beat the heat" since I walk at 6:00 a.m. before the heat settles in.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
The past couple of days have actually been pretty nice, in fact, the mornings were cool...I didn't even break a sweat while walking. It's not going to last, though. The upper 90's are forecasted for the rest of the week.


Animal Foto Fridays

Another Friday already? Time to look back at my phone and see what pictures were taken this past week!

I had to really look to see the duck couple hanging out at the fountain. I've never realized how well they (especially the female) blend into the rocks.
This squirrel was desperately trying to get a snack from the suet. But...look at her tail. I felt sorry for her but didn't want her on the suet. MS said his cat got ahold of a squirrel the other day so it's possible that this was it.
My view as I walked into the park the other morning. The moon was full (or almost) and was peeking between the trees.
This last one isn't a photo but a video. Gurl Dogg trapped a squirrel on the suet in the middle of the yard the other day:

An Enchanting Hodgepodge

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Elaborate.  
Not only do I wear my heart, but also my thoughts. It gets me in trouble from time to time...I'm definitely the person to play poker against if you want to win!

2. A favorite love song? 
Old-Fashioned Love Song immediately came to mind.
But if I had to pick just one, it would be If by Bread. (My freshman year in high school the marching band played this on the field.)

3. Do you consider yourself a trusting person? Explain. 
Absolutely. I'm too trusting, in fact. I could tell you stories that would make you shake your head and wonder how I'm still here without any scars! 
I've been burned so many times by people I thought were friends or at the very least had my back. After I'm burned I usually put up a wall and don't let that person back in. I may get to a place of being cordial, but that's it; my guard is up after that.

4. June 14th is National New Mexico Day...have you ever been to New Mexico (aka The Land of Enchantment)? Any desire to visit the state? Some of the top-rated tourist attractions there are- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Park, The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, Bandelier National Monument, The Georgia O'Keefe Museum, Santa Fe Plaza, and the Petroglyph National Monument. Of the attractions listed which would be tops on your list? 
I've never been but it's on my list. I definitely want to go to Carlsbad and White Sands, but the place on the top of my list is Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. More specifically, the staircase. The chapel was built without access to the choir loft. The nuns weren't able to find a suitable builder who could come up with a way to access the loft. They said a novena (prayers said 9 days straight) to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the last day of the novena, a man came and built the staircase. He only had simple tools and left without payment or without saying his goodbyes. The stairs spiral 20 feet to the choir loft and appear to not have any support. No nails were used in the construction, only wooden pegs, and glue. The wood is some kind of spruce but is not indigenous to New Mexico. 
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

5. What's something you've found enchanting recently? 
The woodpeckers and hummingbirds. I guess that's a sure sign I'm getting old! There's a red-bellied woodpecker that visits the suet several times each day. 
The hawks in the park also get my ear when I'm walking; especially in the evening. The other day I saw 1 being chased by 2 blue jays. The hawk had something in its claws (I couldn't tell what it was) and the blue jays weren't happy about it.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 
I have 1 more Ireland post and that series will be complete. I'm glad that I have this blog to keep my memories of amazing trips. Even though I don't "rough it" ( and will never!), I do like camping in different places. I think it gives a different perspective on the places we travel to. Instead of spending the night in a hotel and turning on the tv, I like listening to the sounds of where we're camping. Like I said, it gives you a different perspective.

The Best of Our Ireland Adventure


For a major re-cap of our Ireland Adventure, here's a list of my "Best of Ireland":

Best Campground

My favorite campground was Hungry Hill on the Beara Peninsula. The owners were so very nice, the showers were great (although it was a tight squeeze for CH), and I just liked the overall feel of the place.

Best Drink

Definitely the Guinness. I tried Murphy's but it didn't hold a candle to the Guinness. CH's would probably be the Bulmers Cider, but I'm more of a beer girl! I had 1 "Jamie with Ginger & Lime" (Jameson, ginger beer, and lime) but couldn't get enough of the Guinness. Especially since I learned my lesson by not trying it until the end of the last trip!

Best Food

This is a tough one because we didn't have a bad meal the whole time we were there. The beef stew at The Castle Inn really stuck out for me, so that's what I'm going with!

Best Irish Coffee

Without a doubt, the best Irish Coffee I had was at MacCarthy's Pub in Castletownbere, County Cork, on the Beara Peninsula. I told Adrienne (the owner) it was the best I've had, and she laughed and said that I probably said that every time I had one. 

Best Scenery

This is another tough one because every time we turned a corner there was something more beautiful than what we had just seen. While Ladies View was gorgeous, I'm going to have to say the scenery at Kilcatherine's Point/Church on the Beara Peninsula. It took my breath away.

Best Ruin

Out of all of the castle/abbey/tower house ruins we saw, I think Tintern Abbey was my favorite. Rock of Cashel is definitely in the running for the best, but there was just something about Tintern Abbey, with the battlemented bridge and church ruin, not to mention the walled gardens, which I'm going to have to go back and see again when it's in full bloom.

Best Surprise

The best thing that we experienced without expecting it was the Irish Red Deer on our walk from Ross Castle back to Killarney. I knew the deer were in the park but had forgotten about them until we saw them.

Best Pub

Oh, gosh, y'all! We went to a lot of pubs while we were there! If I had to pick one that I would definitely go back to, it would be the Moycarn Lodge and Marina. It's not really considered a pub, but it set the beginning of our adventure with new friends, laughter, and (of course) drinks. 

Best Story

The best story from the whole trip is meeting Maeve & James in the Killarney Pub. We walk into this packed pub, ask to sit with a young couple, and end up sitting there for hours talking, drinking, and laughing. The best part is that Maeve is a Special Education Teacher of high school-age students with Autism. I only regret that we didn't swap information so I could ask her more questions!

Best Advice on Where to Eat

This one is a no-brainer! The first piece of advice we received before we touched down on Irish soil was the best: Sullivan's in Oughterard, just west of Galway. Incredible coffee and just as amazing pastries. I would go out of my way to stop there again!

Best "Do-Over"

There are only 2 things that CH & I did that my SIL & I did in 2017. One was taking the ferry over the River Shannon between Galway and Killarney. That was a time-saver. The other thing was my favorite: Finding Husseys Pub in Killarney. In 2017, we found it by accident and had to go in because of the name. This time, CH saw it (again, by accident) and we had to go in. If you find yourself in Killarney, definitely look for it. 

Best Overall

How can I not include the Irish people in this category? Every person we spoke with was incredibly nice. (Well, there was that 1 bus driver in Dublin but I put the blame on myself for that one!) Everyone was so helpful. If we had not spoken with anyone, we wouldn't have seen half of the really cool things we saw. Before we went on our trip, we watched videos and read about what not to do when you're in Ireland. One of the things was not to talk about your heritage. I think I'm a rarity of an American because I have no Irish in me...I'm only German. Almost everyone we spoke with at any length asked us if we had Irish blood. So strike that advice about not talking about your heritage! It struck me how many people had traveled to the USA or to Australia. It was rare to speak with someone who had never been, and almost every person said they had a relative who lived in the US. If for no other reason, go to Ireland for the Irish people. Don't be to the people in the pub. One lady at the campground in Killarney told me to stand at the bar in a pub...don't sit down at a table unless you want time to yourself. 

But the absolute best thing we did for the whole trip was hiring the campervan. Having a toilet at our disposal (ha!) was perfect for our needs. Having the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted couldn't have been more perfect. And, on top of that, it was most certainly a money saver. We couldn't have been more pleased with Bunk Campers. If you're planning a trip to Great Britain or to Ireland and want to go at your own pace, check them out!

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