Welp…

I don’t really like to be political on the blog, but oh well.  We’ve done it America, for better or worse. Or half of America did it. Half did not. Hate won this election. On both sides. Whether it was hate for Hillary, hate for Obamacare, hate for Trump, hate of a democrat nominating a supreme court justice, hate of immigrants, hate of gun control, hate of POC… the list goes on.  And that is what bothers me more than Trump actually being president. This bed of hatred is now what we must lie in and I for one don’t want to.

The seedy underbelly of America was exposed and spilled itself into the rhetoric.  This has now encouraged the worst of the worst to go ahead and spout what they want now. Even David Duke, white supremacist bag of garbage, said this:

This is one of the most exciting nights of my life -> make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump

That should scare you. That should scare Trump as well. Let’s hope he has the guts to address the issue. The country is basically  still split down the middle and healing from that may never take place.  What kind of America do we have when some of our fellow Americans are now afraid to live here because of who they are?

The right says that now we know how they felt when Obama was elected, but no matter how much you dislike him or his policies, Obama is a decent human being. Back in the Bush/Gore election, I was terribly disappointed, but I didn’t think Bush was a bad human being. This time? Well, there is enough audio and video out there that speaks for itself.

I think Van Jones said it best:

And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come out and reassure people that he is going to be the president of all the people he insulted, and offended, and brushed aside, yeah. When you say you want to take your country back, you got a lot of people who feel they’re not represented well either. But we don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.

But this is more than politics. This is about human beings. We as Americans need to prove that we are better than this. We are. We have to be. No matter who you voted for, call out hate on the carpet when you see it. Hate should not be a presidential platform. You need to be able to look everyone in the eye and say “We all are equal. You matter” I think we kind of said the opposite to half the country.

I truly hope Trump is not the man he seems to be. I truly, truly hope that.  I so badly want this to be okay. Maybe he won’t revert to the form we saw on the campaign trail. Maybe he will make good changes. Am I optimistic? Nope.  I can only try to make my corner of the world full of kindness and acceptance and equality. If everyone does the same, maybe there is hope.

Now, better get all my doctor appointments in before January before we lose our health insurance…

Dulce de leche

I had a great show on Saturday!  That was really nice after that terrible one in September. The vibe was great. Everyone was really friendly and in a good mood.

I had been working on a new display and I like how it came out and looks a lot more organized.

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I was in a corner spot, so this actually wraps around the other side of the table as well.

It was really nice that this was on Saturday only and the crew there helped everyone load and unload their vehicles, which was amazing.

Big sellers?  Lemongrass, again. Every time. Plus pine and Honeysuckle, the last one being a surprise to me.

It was good to have a Sunday off. Well, mostly off. I worked for a couple hours to try to get some stuff caught up so Monday won’t be hellaciously busy.  I did try a fun recipe today. Okay, not really a recipe, but a technique.  I’ve been wanted to make dulce de leche using condensed sweetened milk, but doing it in a crockpot takes 8-12 hours.  Even with transferring the milk to mason jars so you can see it, I was still a little concerned about the jars bursting.  Then I found this recipe from Dave Leibovitz. It calls for baking the milk in the oven to caramelize!

All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk (I used low fat), a pie plate and a baking pan with a high lip.

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Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Pour the milk into the pie pan. Add water to come up about half way up the side of the pie plate. This is why you need a high lipped pan.

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Wrap the top in foil. It works best to take the pie plate out and put the foil on. Or wait and add the water after you wrap the top. I did neither and was messing in the water trying to put the foil on LOL.

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Into the oven and bake for 1-1/4 hours. That is according to Mr. Leibovitz. It took mine almost 2 hours. I think maybe that was because I used low fat milk?  Anyway, check it out!

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The top is messy because I poked at it with a spatula.  Once it cooled a bit, I whisked it smooth and it got a little more ‘loose’:

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Yum!  It’s really tasty. I could see putting this on some oatmeal.  We did drizzle a little on top of our lattes in the afternoon.  Delicious!

Is the time change kicking anyone else’s butt?  I have been having some insomnia issues for the last week. My insomnia is early waking. I fall asleep really easily, but I wake up too early, which has made me a little crabby today. I was up at 5:30 and I’ve just been really tired for the last week.  You would think I would wake up later with the time change, but no.

I have to stay up tonight, though. The Broncos are on Sunday night!  Please, please no overtime.  It would be nice if they put the game away in the third quarter and I could just go to sleep.

Speaking of someone who is awake, I put this on Facebook, but Pixie is so cute I will share it here.

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All those extra toes!  I can’t believe she is 9 years old.

Anyway, time for the game. Go Broncos!

Busy fall

November already. Goodness! Candy corn season is over now. At least until the after Halloween sale stuff is gone.  It’s funny how much I love candy corn, but I really don’t want it at any other time of year.  Now it’s eggnog time.

We had about 14 kids or so for Halloween. Not a ton, but actually more than last year. I’m not sure where the kids go to trick or treat as far as the best neighborhoods around here.  Guess it’s not ours 😀

I think most of America was up late last night to watch the World Series.  I couldn’t stay up, but John did. Congrats to the Cubbies. With it going into extra innings for game 7 and a rain delay, people certainly got their money’s worth on this series as far as suspense goes.

I feel like I have been neglecting the blog a bit. It’s just been busy and it’s really my same old routine.  Biking season is nearing an end. Each time we go out, it could be the last time for the season.  I did get a chance to go out the other day as it was in the 50s. I like to ride earlier in the day, so it was nice to have doable temps in the morning.

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I was only wearing a long sleeve shirt and 2 jackets LOL!  I can walk outside in a lot lower temps than I can bike… or willing to bike that is. 40 is about my threshold for cycling. You can only put on so many layers and still pedal.

This weekend starts the fall shows in earnest.  I have a lot of stock ready to go. Boxes and boxes of soap.

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Here’s hoping I sell a lot.  You just never know. The weather looks decent for Saturday, so that’s good.  The nice thing about the show this Saturday is that I only have to go a little over a mile to get there. Nice and close to home, unlike the next one which is an hour away.

Welcome in November, hope you stay around longer than October did!

What I’m Reading!

It’s been a while since I updated this.  Lisa reads a lot of books and her latest post reminded me LOL. My challenge is to read 30 books this year and I am 2 behind schedule right now. It’s busy around here as usual and I have 4 shows coming up in the next 6 weeks for my soaps, which means probably burning the midnight oil with my job and all that.  At least being busy keeps me out of trouble!

Here are the finished ones:


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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

This is a strange little book. It’s a metaphor, really, but still strange. It begins with the main character, Gregor, waking up in the form of a giant insect, but not understanding what happened to himself.  It’s never explained in the book how this came to be or even what kind of bug he is. It just details this part of Gregor’s life after the metamorphosis and how his family deals with what happened to him and what they should do with him.  Kafka never explained the meaning of this story, but it seems to say a lot about how we treat people when they cannot function for themselves anymore.


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The Absolutist by John Boyne

This book was really not what I was expecting at all, but it was a good book. It takes place after WWI in 1919 and begins when a young soldier, Tristan, returns letters to Marian, who is the sister of Tristan’s fellow soldier, Will. Returning these letters are really an excuse for him to come clean about the truth what happened during the war and the circumstances surrounding Will’s death.  The book is written in flashback leading up to the present moment and definitely has a big suprise in the end.  The title refers to conscientious objectors to the war and where do you draw the line of right and wrong in a war.  It’s a sad book, but good.


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The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

I picked this book because the subject was the meaning of flowers and how flowers could be used to convey messages. Victoria is an 18-year-old girl who was just released from being a ward of the state. She had a troubled past in foster care and now has found a job working in a florist shop designing flower arrangements that hold meaning. Victoria’s past keeps her from being able to develop relationships with people and her past comes back into her life.

The story was interesting, but I could not get past the fact that Victoria is just not very likeable. She is very selfish and has anger issues. It made the story hard to swallow because why is everyone so nice to someone who isn’t very nice back?  So, I’m kind of middling about this book.

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Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. Book 1

This book was fun. I didn’t realize is was actually based on the real life of Constance Kopp, who was the first woman deputy in the US in the early 1900s.  Constance was considered a spinster and a very tall and imposing woman.  When she and her sisters are involved in a carriage accident, Constance tries to get restitution from the man at fault, who turns out to be a very powerful businessman in the community. He begins to harrass Constance and her family, but Constance won’t give in and works with the local sheriff to try to bring the men to justice.

I love how strong Constance is and there are some real surprises in the book. I think I will read some of the others to see what else Constance got up to in her life!


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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale has “movie” written all over it. I would be really surprised if this isn’t made into one.  It takes place during WWII in France. Again, I pick another story from this time period!

This is the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle. When the Germans invade Paris, Isabelle joins the resistance and Vianne remains to rebel in her own way. Each woman has to face dire situations, Isabelle always at risk of being caught and Vianne having a German general billeted in her house.  The book really describes the hardships of an occupied country and what people went through and how they survived.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, although a little cliched at times.

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I have been having trouble getting into a new book and  I will toss them before I get too far in, which is one of the reasons I am behind schedule.  My Kindle is full of some classics, so I think I am going to just read some of those.

I was asked how I choose my books to read. What I do is peruse my library’s online book selections and then I read reviews on Goodreads to see if it would be interesting to me. Goodreads is much better for honest reviews than Amazon, in my opinion.

Early snow and pumpkin carving!

On Thursday, the forecast called for some snow, but I think everyone was expecting a light dusting and that would be it. Well, it started falling fairly heavy and wet and by late afternoon, this is what it looked like!

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Then it started to ice up after it got dark.  I heard what I thought was a snow slide off of our slate roof (sounds like rumbling) and didn’t think much about it until 15 minutes later when our neighbor came knocking on the door that some big branches fell across the sidewalk and a little into the road. She helped me drag them onto our lawn.  All night you could hear branches and debris thumping on the roof and such.  A lot of the snow melted during the night, but so many branches had come down.

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What a mess!  John was out of town, so I did most of the clean up with our loppers and put  all the debris at the curb for the city to pick up.  There was one big one that had to be cut with a chain saw, which I left for John 😀   Unfortunately, a lot of trees in town suffered damage and falling branches knocked out the power for some people, luckily not us.  The city work crew is going to be really busy this week.

Halloween is coming, so it was time for our annual pumpkin carving party!

Carvers busy, except for a couple missing people.

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My niece had what had to be a 30 pound pumpkin!

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My design was Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas.

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John did Jack Skellington 😀

Of course, snacks were had and for dessert, we made a pumpkin monkey bread with chai glaze:

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Recipe here for the bread. The chai glaze was just heating up a little milk, steeping chai tea bags and then adding powder sugar to make a glaze (removing tea bags). Delicious!

We had carved, painted with bling and sticker pumpkins this year:

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Boo!

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Happy Halloween everyone!!

Rock of Cashel

Last Ireland post!  On our last full day, we were swinging back around to stay near Shannon Airport since we had to leave around 8:00 in the morning to make sure we didn’t miss our flight. We made a stop to see the Rock of Cashel.  When driving in to town, the complex just rises out of nowhere. I wish I had gotten a picture of that because it seemed surreal.

Rock of cashel is really a group of buildings. It was originally the seat of the King of Munster (?). Eventually it was gifted to the Catholic church so that it would never go into the hands of another ruler.  The complex was added onto over the centuries. It was not all built at the same time, so there are many different architectural styles going on.

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It was home to St. Patrick and his famous cross from the 5th century, which you can see inside.

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That’s old!  This orginally was outside, but now is protected. Not sure if you can the light shining at the bottom. The cross is actually hollow underneath and they have a mirror under it so you can see into it. The thought was this might have been where valuables were stored in the case of conflicts.

Our weather was nice and sunny this day, but it was sooooo windy on the rock. Apparently it is like that all the time. That made it kind of cold. There is some restoration work being done, as evidenced by the scaffolding.

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This building was living quarters for the vicars (it is to the right of the photo above).

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Inside looks like a house, kind of.

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There are relics scattered all over, including the original St. Patrick’s cross above.

There is a romanesque cathedral:

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Stepping out to the back, I guess you could call it.  The cemetery area.

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The cemetery on the grounds has a lot of the high crosses at the plots.

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Everything is just so old!  The stones have some intricate carvings as well.

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The view is really amazing from the rock as well.

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This was such an interesting site with the building spanning centuries. There is so much history and folklore about the rock. img_4213b

Our last night we spent in Killaloe/Ballina. They are 2 sister towns connected by a bridge over Lough (lake) Derg.

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See what I mean about the weather while we were there? Doesn’t seem like Ireland LOL!  This area was a little sleepy because it’s really a summer lake town.

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We found a fantastic bakery just before they closed and had a snack by the water:

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Noms. This was one of my favorite sweets during the week.

One last pub visit:

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It was nice and open inside.

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You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but everybody was gathered on the other side because they had a soccer game on the big screen. Sorry rest of the world, it’s not football. There is only one real football and that’s the NFL. ‘Merica!!

One last toast:

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We were sad to leave. There is so, so much more to do and see. I doubt this will be our last trip to Ireland. It was the trip of a lifetime to go there.

All too soon the sun set on Killaloe and we had to say goodbye.

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Thanks for reading along on our travels!

 

Blarney Castle

One more Ireland post after this one.   Something that was on my bucket list for Ireland was to go inside a castle.  We had passed a few that were closed or no viewing was allowed, but  we weren’t detered.

There are many famous places and spaces in Ireland, and probably the most famous would be Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone.  We left Cork and drove north and a little west to our final night’s stay with the mission to see Blarney Castle on our way.  The weather was great, which it really was for the majority of our trip.

I guess I didn’t realize that Blarney Castle was castle grounds with gardens and such.  I thought of it more as ‘just’ a ruin.

This was one of those “I can’t believe we are here” moments:

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Anyway, a bit about the mythology of the Blarney Stones (as relayed by our B&B host).  One legend says that there was a king who had difficulty speaking with some sort of speech impediment. He was out one day and saw a woman drowning. He saved her and she turned out to be some sort of fairy queen.  She wanted to reward him with a kiss, but could not actually kiss him on the lips. So, she kissed a rock and told him to kiss that spot. When he did, his speech impediment was gone.  Hence the ‘gift of gab’.   I’m not sure how that rock ended up in Blarney Castle, but the rest is history.  Of course, that’s just one of many legends of the stone.

The castle is quite impressive, even from a distance:

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Waaaaay up at the top is the Blarney Stone. Yes. You have to climb all the stairs to get to the top.

This castle is huge. This is the bell tower here, which is a lot shorter than the castle itself.

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Underneath is a rocky cave that probably was used as a prison. I climbed in there and even for a shorty like me, I was quite crouched over.

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Even with that light it was so dark that I couldn’t hold my camera still long enough to get a good shot. I ended up using a rock as a tripod to take it.

Here is me coming out through a tiny door:

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Almost to freedom there!

As you climbed up all the stairs, you come across different rooms, like a bedroom:

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It’s fun to imagine this castle with all its finery, tapestries and full of fire and warmth (hopefully).

The spiral stairs up to the top were really narrow and steep. No railings except sometimes there was a rope to grab:

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I think if you fell you wouldn’t actually go down very far because of how narrow it is. You’d just get stuck and stop LOL.

Between crouching through the cave and these stairs, the castle did give the quads a workout, I have to say.

Finally at the top!

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It’s all open at the top. This is the line to kiss the stone. You actually have to go through the line to go back down, but you don’t have to kiss the stone.

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This is the view looking over the railing into the castle.

img_4162bPersonally, I think kissing the stone is kind of gross. They did have a bottle of some solution sitting by the helper, but I didn’t see him use it. Not to mention that I was sick, so who would want to kiss the stone after me? Yuck.  Anyway, this picture is how you kiss the stone (from the official website)

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There is a holder to assist you. Just to the left out of the picture is a camera person up on a chair taking a picture as you kiss the stone, which you can then buy at the souvenir shop (of course). It’s open to air and you are warned no hats or glasses and nothing in your pockets or it will end up down below.

I was way more interested in the view from the top of the castle. It was really something:

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I am a squidge afraid of heights, so I was a little nervous up here, but I managed to peek over the wall and take a picture straight down:

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Not sure if you can see the person by the bench just about in the middle. They were actually taking a picture upward, so I guess I photobombed them 😀

Anyway, very, very cool.

Blarney Castle has a lot of grounds to explore as well.  There are a bunch of different gardens like the poison garden:

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Every single plant in this garden is poisonous in some way. Nothing was really in bloom at this time except some monkshood. There were the usual suspects like castor plant, nightshade, cannabis (yes the plant was there!), poppies, foxglove and lily of the valley. Some were surprising to me like irises, rhododendrun, and larkspur. I had no idea!  I actually have quite a few poisonous plants in my garden.  Oopsie.

This was the herbaceous border:

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I never did find out what those cloth things were for. Maybe just decoration.

There are stables on the property, which aren’t used for horses now, but a cafe LOL!

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We had a yummy scone here:

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There is also a house on the property called, wait for it… Blarney House.   Actually, that’s really an understatement because it’s more a mansion than anything else.

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You can tour this, although it is lived in by someone.  I can’t imagine living there! I would probably get lost.

So visiting a castle is now crossed off my bucket list.

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This is most definitely worth the stop, whether you kiss the stone or not!

Corn Maze!

We were looking for a group outing this weekend and ended up choosing a corn maze.  We did one about 5 years ago and had a good time. This year we went to Schuyler Farms to try theirs.

It’s amazing to me how big and complex the mazes are.  This is an aerial view of our maze:

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Our welcoming host:

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Come on in!

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There was a phone number on our tickets to call if you got lost.  We split into 2 groups, the teens and the adults.  Of course, the girls finished before we did even though we ran into them a couple times.

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Lots of twists and turns. We just kept going in circles over and over again coming up to this bridge.

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It was no help to be up here because you couldn’t see the paths LOL!

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Wait up!

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This maze is open at night and is a haunted maze. There are some props and things around the maze.

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John going into the slaugherhouse:

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Uh oh:

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We entered.

Rickety bridge:

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Once we got through the first part, the rest of the maze went a lot faster and we finally made it out!

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We ended up walking 2-1/2 miles through the maze! That was a lot of walking.  It was really fun. We need to do them every year.

Schuyler Farms has other things to do along with the maze. You can pan for gems:

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Visit the petting zoo:

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Hey lady, where is the food???

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And the sweetest young cow:

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Isn’t it the cutest thing?? Eeeee!

You can pick up pumpkins and gourds as well.

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It was a great day. Really windy, but at least all the rain was gone from Saturday.

Until next year corn maze!

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What’s Blooming!

It’s getting to the end of the blooming posts. 🙁   We have had more warm weather, which had let some buds open.

This is that chrysanthemum that I got for free:

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I’m really surprised the bunnies didn’t eat this. It had buds in the spring and they all got eaten.

My Fair Bianca opened up several blooms. You can smell this rose from the driveway. It’s heady!

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The blooms are almost peony like, which is what I love about them:

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I am so tempted to put a big rose garden in our front lawn! Beats trying to get rid of crabgrass and weeds…

Fall displays are blooming.  Here are a couple from a walk I took the other day:

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The leaves have just passed peak here.  The other day they were gorgeous!

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Then we got rain and a lot of leaves are down now.  Guess it’s time to rake!

Cities of Cork and Cobh

After Kenmare, we headed a little more east to the biggest city of our trip, Cork.  Cork is Ireland’s 2nd or 3rd biggest city and really seems like any big city.

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This is the main section where all the department stores and business stuff was.  Mostly the same stores you see in the US, actually, except for some with a European counterpart:

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I don’t know why this made me laugh every time I saw it. We never did go in there and I love shopping the Maxx!

Cork is split by the river Lee.

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I think roughly the historic part is on one side and the newer part on the other, although that’s a little simplistic because a lot of Cork is old.img_4094b

The cathedral in this picture I think is St. Finn Barre’s. It’s hard to keep track of all the churches and cathedrals in Ireland.  We stayed in the historic part of Cork near the butter market museum. They have a whole museum dedicated to butter. It was a huge industry in Cork.  Our B&B was very quaint and the owner was a wonderful storyteller. He told us all the mythology behind places like the rock of Cashel, the Blarney stone and fairy trees.  He was great.  Our room was really tiny, though. Here is a peek out of our window since I couldn’t get a shot of our room in the camera frame because it was too small LOL!

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That round building is Firkin Crane, which really sounds like swear words to me, but it used to be the butter hub in the area where all the butter went through. Firkin is the name of the butter barrels and Crane is the name of the scale they were weighed on.

We were only a couple blocks from St. Anne’s Cathedral:

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Lots of nice architecture in Cork.

The city layout was a little confusing with curved streets and tiny alleys.

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You really could book your whole vacation in Cork. We only scratched the surface here. There are museums and some are free!

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Then there is the famous English Market:

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This market has been around since 1788!  It’s a foodie’s dream, too.

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We picked up some lunch at one of the stalls and the worker there was having trouble with our order. He then apologized and said it was his first day. We said it was our first day in Cork, so no worries!

This sign also gave me the giggles:

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I’m not sure if it is meant to be humorous or not, but I found it to be.

We found some good coffee in Cork. One place roasted their own:

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That is a serious espresso machine right there.  It made this:

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One day from Cork, we took a train to Cobh.  Now that is pronounced Cove, not Cob (like I kept accidentally doing even though I knew it was not).  Cobh is a port city. If you have any ancestors that came from Ireland, most likely they left from Cobh.

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Two other points of interest about Cobh.  It was the last port of call for the Titanic before it sunk. There is some attraction there called the Titanic Experience or something like that, but we didn’t do it.  Instead, we went to the Queenstown Story in Cobh Heritage Center.

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It covers the story of Irish emigration and also the other point of interest for Cobh, which is that after the Lusitania was sunk, Cobh was the port survivors and injured were brought to and taken care of.  When you pay admission to see the exhibits, you are given tickets, each with a name of an actual passenger on the Lusitania:

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Then you can find out whether you lived or died at sea. Eeek!  We actually both lived.

Cobh was definitely a neat place to visit.

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I do wish we had more time in Cork. When you only go to Ireland for a week, there’s a lot you can’t fit in!

One last shot of Cork at night and the river Lee:

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