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.

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