Monday, March 19, 2018

A Catch Up Post

I basically took a month off of blogging right after my post about keeping up with blogging in January.  That’s the way it goes, right?

It hasn’t been a terribly interesting month, and work has been insane.  Most of the time at the end of the day I just want to come home, crawl under a blanket on the couch, eat lots of junk food, and watch Netflix.  That doesn’t lead to doing much blogging, or much of anything else.

Nick and I have been passing some sort of cold back and forth for the past couple of weeks, so that has also made us much more inclined to spend a lot of time on the couch watching TV.  We’ve been taking lots of vitamins, so I’m hoping we’ll finally shake it for good this time. 

February and March seem to have traded places as far as what the weather is supposed to be like.  We had several beautiful, warm days in February.  Our daffodils and hyacinths bloomed.  It really seemed like winter was over, and spring had arrived early.  Nope.   March has been cold, rainy, and windy.  We’ve had some snow, and there’s more snow forecast for later this week.  We’re kind of at the point where it feels like winter is never going to end.  The daffodils and hyacinths are still holding on, so that’s a hopeful sign. 

We finally visited the North Carolina Arboretum on one of the nice Saturdays in February.  Nick had been before, but I hadn’t.  We had been talking about going for years, but just kept putting it off.  We finally picked a Saturday to go with our friend Alex.  We met Alex at the Farmer’s Market first, and spent some time walking around and perusing the booths there.  It’s still a little early for some things, but we bought some fresh produce and a few jams and sauces.  I absolutely love farmer’s markets and produce stands, so I always find something I just can’t live without. 

After the Farmer’s Market we had lunch and then headed to the Arboretum to walk around.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and honestly tried to keep my expectations pretty low so I wouldn’t be disappointed.  I was definitely not disappointed.  It’s huge!  There are so many different gardens, picnic areas, lots of walking paths, and more strenuous hiking trails.  We only had a few hours before dark, so we stayed off of the longer trails, and mostly stuck to the gardens and walking paths. 

Of course most things weren’t in bloom yet, but some of the trees and flowers had bloomed.  We saw some Royal Star Magnolias that were in bloom.  They were absolutely gorgeous!  I think I want to try planting one in our yard, despite my terrible track record with trees.  They’re gorgeous enough to make me want to try again.  Being there and seeing the gardens made me really want to get out in the yard and start planting things. 

I think it will be absolutely gorgeous at the Arboretum once spring is actually here and more of the flowers are in bloom.  We definitely want to go back.  I think it could be nice to take a picnic and spend the entire day there. 

I think that’s really the only interesting thing we’ve done for the past month.  Other than that it has mostly been work and just day to day chores.  I’m hoping we’ll be able to get out and do more once the weather stays nice for a while. 

So what about you?  What have you been up to for the past month?  Is it finally spring where you are?  Or is winter still holding on?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How I Did With Doing Things In January

Since my goal for the year is to actually do things, instead of just talking about things I want to do and making plans that never happen, I thought I’d try to do a monthly post with how I did the month before.  Since February is more than halfway over it seems past time for a post on how January went.  I didn’t have a picture that really went with this post, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share this one of Howard.  I think he looks adorable. 

I don’t think it was a stellar month, but since it’s my least favorite month and it was crazy cold for a large part of it, I don’t think it’s too bad.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

On the blogging front, I did ten posts in January.  Considering the fact that I  only did twenty-five posts total last year, I think ten in a month was a definite improvement. 

For going and seeing new things, we finally went to see the Poinsett Bridge.  It was something we had been talking about doing for years, so it was nice to finally go out there.  That’s the only new place we went in January, but a lot of the places we want to see are outdoors, and it was just too cold to do much outside. 

On the getting rid of clutter in the house front, we did a Pantry Challenge.  We did really well in sticking to it, so we did manage to thin things down, at least in the kitchen, a little bit.  There’s a long way to go, but it’s a start.  I think that also counts toward the goal of saving money/getting out of debt, since it meant we spent significantly less than usual on groceries.

And that’s pretty much it.  I didn’t really do anything toward any of the other goals I want to accomplish.  I’m really not sure whether to call January a success, a failure, or maybe just a neutral.  I guess it depends on how you choose to look at it. 

So how about you?  Did you set any new goals for the year, or choose a word for the year?  How did you do with that in January? 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

It Was Nice While It Lasted

On Thursday we enjoyed temperatures in the mid seventies.  It was sunny and beautiful, and it was wonderful. 

I wanted to enjoy every minute of the beautiful weather, so I ate my lunch outside, and took this picture of these tiny little wild flowers that are blooming in the yard.  I was so happy to see something colorful and blooming.

After work Nick and I loaded the dogs in the car and went to the cemetery to walk.  It’s not as weird as it might sound, I promise!  It’s a really big cemetery; lots of people walk and jog there, and bring their dogs.  It was fairly crowded Thursday evening.  I think a lot of people had the same idea.

We also walked through the neighborhood near the cemetery, and Nick showed me the house his grandparents lived in when he was born.  They moved from that house when he was five, but he still remembers quite a few things from when they lived there.  It was fun to picture a little version of Nick playing in the yard. 

We walked until it started getting dark.  We knew the nice weather wasn’t going to last, so we wanted to take advantage of every minute of it.  I think the dogs enjoyed the long walk, too. 

Yesterday started off sunny and warm, but the temperature started dropping in the afternoon.  It dropped twelve degrees in between the time I went back to work from lunch and the end of the day when I left.  It continued to drop last night.  Today has been cold and rainy.  The temperatures haven’t gotten above the mid forties, and it has been raining all day.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re going to drop down to freezing, so hopefully the little flowers will survive.  The beautiful weather was so nice while it lasted!

So how about you?  Have you had any warm days?  Any sign that spring might be on its way?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thrifty Thursday - Send A Free Military Care Package

Do you ever have posts that you just absolutely have to do on a certain day?  Posts where everything just comes together in the right way, on the right day (or at least really close), and it’s the only post you could possibly share that day?  It doesn’t happen often for me, but this is one of those posts. 

Yesterday would have been my grandfather’s (a.k.a. Dad Dog) 89th birthday, and he was retired from the Air Force.  Recently I found an opportunity to send free care packages to troops.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a Thrifty Thursday post about sending a free care package to troops the day after his birthday!

Crown Royal has teamed up with Packages From Home to send packages to troops serving overseas.  You can access the site here.  You have to be 21 or older to access the site, you have to provide your date of birth, and you have to provide your email address.  However, there is absolutely no cost to you.

Once you’ve accessed the site, you can choose four items from the most requested list to be sent to troops.  I chose cookies, nuts, lip balm, and tea.  Of course I have to choose tea any time it’s an option!  Dad Dog was also a tea drinker, so it seemed like an appropriate choice.  Coffee, oatmeal, chips, and pretzels were some of the other options.

It takes less than two minutes of your time, costs you nothing, and maybe makes life just a little bit more pleasant for someone in harm’s way, away from their family and loved ones.  If you’re so inclined, please take the time to visit the site and select four items to send.   If you participate, I hope you’ll share your choices in the comments.  It’s always interesting to see what other people choose.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We Went to Saint Augustine

I doubt anyone noticed I was gone last week.  I had a few posts scheduled, so things didn’t go completely silent here.  Thanks for all of your visits and comments while I was gone.  I am working on catching up with everyone’s blog posts.

As part of our plan to actually do more things, rather than just talking about things we want to do, we took a trip to Saint Augustine, Florida last week.  It had actually been in the works for a while.  Our neighbors go almost every year and love it.  Last year, they spent a week there in January.  It was their Christmas gift to each other.  Being the type of people to copy a good idea when we hear it, we decided to do something similar.

We made the decision not to give each other any gifts for our birthdays or Christmas last year, but instead to save the money up for a warm weather vacation during the winter.  We reasoned that we really didn’t need any more stuff, we want to travel more, and our neighbors seemed really happy doing that.  And if you’ve been visiting here for a while, you probably know that I absolutely hate the winter.  I don’t do well in the cold, gray months.  I’m mostly miserable during the worst of the winter weather, and unfortunately, I think I tend to make those unfortunate enough to be around me miserable as well.  Poor Nick.  So an escape to someplace sunny and warm was particularly appealing to me.  Nick tends to wilt in the heat, so is much happier visiting beaches in the off season when it’s warm, but not hot.  A winter getaway to a warmer climate seemed ideal.

We chose Saint Augustine based largely on the neighbors recommendation, the fact that it was reasonably affordable during the off season, the fact that it has a lot of history, the fact that it was less than a seven hour drive, and the fact that it would be warm enough to make me happy, but not hot enough to make Nick miserable.

We take the dogs with us on our Folly Beach, SC vacation, but chose not to take them to Saint Augustine.  Folly Beach works well for them; we go there often enough to have taking them down to a science.  We rent the same house every year, so we know what to expect, where we can take them, and where we can’t take them.  It’s much more difficult to find a pet friendly place to rent, especially a place that’s okay with two dogs, and one of them being over 90 pounds.  We’ve also learned over the years that some places aren’t as dog friendly as they claim to be, so it usually works out better not to take the dogs with us the first time we go somewhere.  Honestly, it’s also nice to have a little break sometimes, too.  The dogs stayed in the kennel at their vet’s office, and seemed to have a good time based on the pictures the vet sent while we were gone.

We rented a condo that wasn’t at all dog friendly, and took full advantage of all the amenities it offered including a hot tub, heated pool, and Jacuzzi.  I would have preferred the weather to be just a little warmer, but it was warm enough to wear shorts most days; we both came back with a tan.  We walked on the beach, did some tours, spent time in the pool, visited some museums, and ate a lot of great food.

We had a great time, but I don’t think Saint Augustine is a place that we’ll go back to every year, or over and over again.  A lot of it was much more of a tourist trap than what we typically like to do.  Some of the tours and museums felt more gimmicky than educational.  I’m not saying that we didn’t enjoy a lot of things.  We really did, and it was wonderful to have a winter vacation.  I plan to post about some of the highlights later on.  It’s just not a place that we think of as “our place”, like the Charleston area.

We’re definitely hooked on the idea of not buying birthday or Christmas gifts for each other in favor of a winter trip to somewhere warmer and sunnier than home.  There’s definitely something to be said for experiences over stuff.  At least for us, right now.  We’ve decided to start researching other places for next year.  Maybe another beach in Florida.  We’ve also heard good things about Jamaica.  If anyone has any suggestions for a place that’s nice and warm in January or February I’d love to hear them.

I’m working on getting caught up with all of your blogs as soon as I can.  I’m looking forward to catching up and seeing what I missed while we were gone.