Guess the Category Hodgepodge

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

1. February is coming to a close. Give us a two-word phrase that tells us something about how yours went.


2. If you had to describe how you're feeling right now as an amusement park ride, what ride are you on? Explain. 

Lazy River. Things are starting to slow down for me and I'm trying to just take it all as it is coming.

3. What's something on your desk or a nearby wall that cheers you up when you see it or walk past? 

This is the Divine Mercy with the words "Jesus, I Trust in You!" under it. I taped this to my window during COVID and it has stayed right where I put it. This image has gotten me through so much over the past 3 years; it's a constant reminder that He always has my back. 

4.  Are you a salad eater? How many salads do you typically eat in a week? Your favorite kind of salad? 

If I eat veggies, I eat them through a salad. I've never cared for cooked vegetables, but give me some raw ones and I'm all good! I prefer just a regular tossed salad, and ones from restaurants are so much better than any I make at home. I really like the Texas Roadhouse salad.

5. Without telling us the category give us your top five ______________. 

Miss Scarlet and the Duke
All Creatures Great and Small
Doc Martin
Unforgotten (Seasons 1-4)

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

It's been 7 months since CH & I went on our trip out west. I'm finally getting around to posting about it on the Flyin' the Coop blog. I decided to cross-post over on this blog, so check back every Monday for a new installment of the series. Part One was published this past Monday.

The Great West Trip 2023: Part 1

This is a cross-post from Flyin' the Coop

For our big trip, we talked about either going north or west. It just happened that the northern US was being pounded by a lot of rain, so we decided to go west. One of the reasons for that decision was that I (Mary) had never been to Utah. I wanted to see Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Arches. Plus, I wanted to see some places in Colorado that CH talked about. We decided that we wouldn't push ourselves and would take our time. We didn't make any reservations except for the Harvest Hosts on the way to the Badlands. 

We made our way out of TN with the first Harvest Host as the first goal. We ended up leaving a day later than expected because of an issue with our cabin air conditioner. We took it by the dealer where we purchased the van only to be told that the battery was okay. I'm not sure if they didn't understand that we knew the battery was okay; it was the AC that needed to be looked at. In hindsight, when CH bought it, I think he just checked to make sure that it was blowing and not that it was cooling. Anyway, we made the decision to go ahead with the trip without a working AC unit in the cabin; if it was too hot at night we would just get a hotel room. This actually worked extremely well for us. We ended up staying a few nights in hotels but opening the window above the bed and turning on the MaxxAir was all we needed. 
Holt RV Service was our first host. We spent the night of the 4th of July there. They were so very welcoming, even though they had a family party happening that night. We were treated to fireworks and nice conversation. If you're thinking, "Couldn't he have fixed the AC?", the answer is "no" due to the voltage of our AC. 
Nice spot at Holt RV Service
They have a super friendly cat that we had to make sure we didn't take along with us when we left the next day.
The next stop was my sister's house in Missouri, just north of Kansas City. We ended up spending a couple of nights there so I could have my sister time, then headed to the next Harvest Host site in Iowa. Stensland Family Farm is a working dairy farm. We dealt with flies, but it is a dairy farm. The parking was in the parking lot which was very level and quiet. We got a quick tour of how the freeze-dried ice cream was made and were given some samples. There is a small store with a pizza maker, ice cream, and cheese. You pay via the honor system which means if you want to use a credit card you have to make a phone call. They ended up getting a bit of a tip since we didn't have exact change.
View heading toward the farm

View from the front of the van

We parked in the parking lot but it was a quiet night. There was one other camper who came in while we were there.

It's a working dairy've gotta take a picture with a cow (real or not!)
On to the Badlands! On our previous trip out west we drove past this National Park but didn't actually go into it. This was one place I knew I had to visit and it definitely didn't disappoint. The scenery was breathtaking! We found an amazing place to Boondock, along with about 100 other people. You'll want to make sure you get to this space in the afternoon; if you wait until the evening you won't be able to find the best spot.

The view from our van

We spent 2 nights on the Pinnacles (also called "Badlands Boondocking Area" or "Badlands Boondock Campspot" on Google Maps). The whole drive through the Badlands was just breathtaking. We rode through the "loop" when we got there, found a spot to spend the night, and then spent the next day going back through the park at a much slower pace. We showered at the campground and then headed back to the Pinnacles to find a spot for the night. 

We had been advised to be aware of the wind. We had a young couple in a tent in back of us. Luckily the winds weren't too bad that night and their tent didn't end up against the van. We ended up seeing the couple again a couple of days after that on the interstate to Billings. It was very cool to have someone to wave to when we were so far away from home. 

From the Badlands, we started heading north/northwest. We had the luxury of taking our time deciding where we were going to go next as we drove along. We averaged 4-5 hours of driving each day which was perfect for us. I was already amazed at how beautiful this area of the country is; there was much more to come!

Bringing Back Friday Fotos

Photo by Designecologist:

I decided it's time for me to revive my "Friday Fotos". It's a way for me to find the beauty in my everyday life and share it on Fridays. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this up, at least for a while. This post is a short one!

Gurl Dogg rarely gives me cuddles. The other day she crawled onto my lap and laid her head on my shoulder. 

I popped into the church and noticed the light produced a shadow of the cross behind the crucifix. 

During a walk, I noticed a branch fell and landed sideways with other branches holding it in place. Interesting.

If you read "An Opinionated Hodgepodge", you've already seen this picture. YS put some bird seed on the window ledge in my office so I could enjoy the birds up close & personal. This titmouse seemed interested in what I was doing before he grabbed a snack.
I took this as a sign of how safe the Small Town is. I noticed this child's bike the day before I snapped this photo. It was in the same place the next day. Gurl Dogg is checking it out.

What interesting and/or beautiful things did you see in your world this week? Notice the world around you and take a photo each day of something beautiful. 

An Opinionated Hodgepodge

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

1. What kind of thinker are you-doer concrete thinking) analyst (analytical and abstract thinking), orator (logical thinking) inventor (imaginative thinking) or original thinker (creative)? What makes you say so? You can try this little quiz (link here) to help with your answer. 

The test result was "Inventor" but I disagree with that. I think "Orator" fits me better after reading the descriptions. One of the reasons I disagreed with Inventor is because I have an extremely difficult time imagining what something is supposed to look like. I have to have it right in front of me or see a visual representation of it.

2. Do you own a crock pot, air fryer, and/or instapot? Do you leave said small appliance sitting out? How often do you use it/them? Favorite thing to make in one of these? 

I have all 3 and they don't sit on my counter. I try to limit how much is on my counter; I don't like it to be cluttered. That being said, MS has a Ninja Foodie that has options to air fry/air roast/air broil/bake/toast/bagel that is too big to fit into my appliance cabinet. And it drives me crazy that it has to go on the counter and can't be put up. It's a very handy appliance, though, and is so versatile! Maybe a cover would make me feel better about it living there; maybe not. It gets used a lot; if not every day then every other day. It's great for popping a pizza in or single servings. 

I have a separate air fryer but it will be going in with items to sell in a yard sale, when we get our act together! I had to buy a new oven last October; the new one has an air fryer built in. I haven't used that feature yet; I don't need it since a Foodie is sitting on my counter.

I love to make soup in my crock pot. It gets used more in the hot summer months when I don't want to turn on the oven. I also like how my roast turns out when I use it.

I haven't used my Instant Pot a whole lot. I bought a 3-quart IP to make it easier to cook while camping. We made pasta in it a couple of times and I've discovered how great it is at making a baked potato. It cuts the time in half! 

3. What's something you hold a strong opinion on that matters not at all in the grand scheme of things? 

Oh, gosh! So many things. I'm a pretty opinionated person and won't hold back if you ask me. I don't think I can narrow it down to 1 thing. Maybe the opinion of having things sitting on the kitchen counter. (See #2)

4. Describe the view from your window. 

YS filled up the bird feeders on Monday and I have a couple outside of my office window. I'm currently watching some purple finches (which are actually red in color) enjoying their snacks. YS put a little bit of seed on my windowsill. I had a brave little titmouse come a few times and snatch some after looking into the window at me for a few seconds.

5. Do you have a favorite brand? Explain.

Of what? Once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it and not deviate. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

My travel calendar is filling up! I have something every month from April to October. Some activities are with family, some with friends, and one that begins by myself but will end with family. I'm on a waitlist for a trip at the end of October; we'll see if I get in. If I don't, I'll find things close to home to do. There is one trip I'm gathering information for, but I think that will have to wait until Spring. It's going to be a longer one, time-wise. Hopefully, it will pan out because it's to some places I've seen on TV that are just gorgeous. And, I have friends in that area of the world who have offered their assistance. It just doesn't get any better than this!

A Lovely Hodgepodge

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

1. What does love mean to you? 

Being there for the other person no matter what. Doing the hard things, the gross things, things you don't want to do or ever thought you would have to do. Laughing through the hard times and knowing that at some point one of you will be left to remember the love you shared through the good and the bad times but still sticking beside that person through sickness and health.

2. Is love blind? 

True love, the kind that carries through the years is not. Once you live with someone for decades you know that person inside and out. There is no way it could be blind!

3. How do you remember Valentine's Day as a kid? Do you have any special plans for the day this year? 

I don't remember any of them except my 3rd grade. This was the year the schools in the small town integrated. There was a slight riot at the high school so we didn't get to have our party. You can read about it here. As I re-read that post that was written 11 years ago, one thing that is different is that both sides of town are truly integrated now. 
I've never been a big Valentine's Day person; in fact, I think it's the dumbest day the card industry has come up with. 1 of my sisters asked me if that day was going to bother me, and I told her "no". We never really did anything special that day so it's not going to bother me at all. Besides, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day so I'm thinking that's more important to focus on. 

4 Are you a fan of the movie genre known as 'rom-com'? What's your favorite (or one of your favorites)?

I do like a good rom-com! If you know anything about me, you know that The Holiday is my favorite movie. Period. If you haven't seen Valentine's Day, it's a good movie to watch this time of year.

5. What's something you recently put your heart into? 

Discovering how to travel solo. I'm doing a lot of research into traveling solo, both domestically and internationally. At some point, I'm going to have to actually get out there and do it. I've found a podcast that has excellent advice, along with a couple of blogs. If you've traveled solo and have some good sites I need to investigate or some tips, please let me know.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

This past weekend was busy. I drove a couple of hours to spend some time with a friend who isn't well, then to CH's aunt's surprise party, and spent the night with 1 of his cousins. The next day I picked up a college friend for lunch, and then spent the night with my sister who lives in the area. Sunday morning we had an amazing breakfast in the oldest town in TN. On the drive up, I thought about how many historical sites there are between my house and my sister's (Davy Crockett Tavern and Andrew Johnson's home are just a couple). I'm going to make it a point to visit them and start my solo traveling in my backyard. 
Olde Towne Pancake House in Jonesborough, TN
The biscuits & gravy were sooooo good! The apple pancake was also delicious.
The entrance to the restaurant
I couldn't go by the largest Buc-ees and not stop for some quick shopping. My favorites: Overbites and Beaver Nuggets. I didn't get the kolaches this time. The boys like the beef jerky so I bought some fresh jerky for them.
The world's largest Buc-ees (for now, anyway!)

Waiting...and Planning Hodgepodge

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

1. Something you've waited for recently? 

All I've been doing is waiting! Right now I'm waiting for April and a trip to a place I've been to a couple of times before. I'm taking 3 of my sisters with me this time and then meeting my SIL there. 
Here's a hint...can you guess?
2. What's something you loved to do as a child? 

Why is this question so tough? I can only remember things I did during the outside and go to the swimming pool.

3. Something you learned from a grandparent? 

I didn't really know my grandparents; only 1 was living when I was born and I only saw her every other year. Even then, I only saw her for a short amount of time. But, she was an amazing woman, of what I knew of her. I'm sure I've learned things from her through my mom.
I'm crouching down beside my grandma; I was around 8 at the time.

4. The most visited cities in the world last year (according to this site) were Bangkok, Paris, London, Dubai, and Singapore. Have you been to any of the cities mentioned? Which would you most like to see? How do you feel about international travel in general these days? 
I've been to London and would like to go to Paris. I have no desire to visit the other places. I have no worries about traveling long as it's to Europe or Great Britain. 
This is the church in Surrey that was in the movies Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones' Diary, and The Holiday

5. February is the perfect month to ______________________.

Dream of spring and plan new adventures. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I am doing a great job of coming up with places I want to go and things I want to see. Now I just have to gather the courage to get off my tush and do it! 

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