Posts tagged: vacation

Making a Lemonade Day from a Lemon

By , September 14, 2019

I had an irritating errand to do this week in order to get re-hired for my job (I job-share with someone else — they work part of the year, I work the other part, and because we’re temp employees we have to get re-hired each time and it’s always a hassle-y process). In the past I had to just go to the HR office nearby to get fingerprinted but this time I had to drive to the next town an hour away for this stupid, simple 10-minute task — a waste of my time, energy, and gas.

I decided that in order to have a good attitude about the errand, I needed to make it fun for myself. So after the appointment, I stopped in at an antique shop across the street and took my unhurried time looking at everything. I got three little things including a little kitty picture frame, and this great book The English Country Home and wooden jar. I walked to a nearby cafe and got a fun treat-drink, and then I drove to a little town I’ve always been curious about, and stopped at a public open space area, which I had all to myself, and absolutely basked in the feeling of being in the mountains. I had forgotten how good it felt and how much I had needed it. The smell!!!!!! Spicy, earthy, pine-needle-y, heavenly smell. I’d forgotten how good the mountains smell. I came upon a little creek and spent a lot of time poking around there and soaking in the sound and sight of the moving water.

It all felt so incredibly good. It seemed like terrible timing to be away for a day since I have so much going on especially with all the garden produce flooding in. I miss a day and I get behind. A vacation day was extra-needed, and I didn’t realize it until it was happening. I’d done something Fun that day (!) and I came home feeling uplifted and renewed. I spent the next day flattened and fatigued unfortunately, but I made that stupid errand ‘work for me’ and it was worth it!


Photo Tour of The Good Life Center: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine

By , July 19, 2019

Care and artistry are worth the trouble. They can be a satisfaction to the practitioner and a joy to all beholders.

-Helen Nearing


In early August of last year I visited Forest Farm with my family on a special trip to Maine, and it was one of the top highlights of the entire trip. What a special place; I didn’t want to leave. Forest Farm was the entirely hand-built homestead of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of many books including the classics Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World and its sequel Continuing the Good Life: Half a Century of Homesteading. (Still relevant! The value of old books… see previous post.) My copy of Living the Good Life came down to me via my dad, from his mother many years ago. Growing up, his family would take beloved summer vacations to isolated Harborside, Maine and they would hear about the “commie” Nearings who lived nearby. Helen and Scott’s door was always open to those interested in observing, helping, and learning, and Forest Farm still welcomes visitors as The Good Life Center, carrying on the Nearings’ tradition of sharing and showing.

I took many photos! Are you ready for a visit?


Driving to The Good Life Center through tiny Harborside:

Arriving at the Nearings’ driveway. It was a peaceful, hot, still, muggy afternoon here.

It was very quiet; bees buzzing, small waves lapping the shore in the cove across the street. A few other visitors sifted through while we were there. You just park and amble in. Very laid back, you’re welcome to wander and stay as long as you like, soaking it all in.

This is the caretakers’ cottage over the summer:

Helen and Scott’s beautiful hand-built stone house:


Here is a photo of Helen doing the stonework:

Let’s go in. Here’s their kitchen — an airy, light-filled, feel-good space:

Those were the beautiful bowls and spoons they used.

Here are their mugs:

Here’s their kitchen as it was:

Helen and Scott on the right:

Now we walk into the living room, with a cozy wood-burning stove, book shelves lining the walls, and a wonderful view of the surrounding forest and out to their cove:

Here’s more of the house; this area is used as the little bookshop now. Visitors aren’t allowed upstairs to the bedroom but you can peek up the stairwell:

Here’s their original sign:

Let’s go out to the garden and greenhouse now. There’s a little apple orchard in the protected area between the house and the walled garden:

Here’s that lovely walled vegetable garden:

Behind the greenhouse:

Overlooking the walled garden toward the house and greenhouse:

Compost piles on the left, outside the garden:

The rest of the land is forested. There are some walking trails you can take through tall trees, ferns, tall grasses, and dappled shade.

Here’s their cove across the street:

And here’s the mission statement of The Good Life Center:

That concludes our visit to Forest Farm. I hope you enjoyed it!


Just up the road is Four Season Farm, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch — names you might recognize if you’re a gardener. The land was once part of the Nearings’.



By , March 15, 2013

Last weekend I had a wonderful retreat.

My folks were headed to the mountains for the weekend and my kitty and I went along with them. I didn’t realize how much I needed that dose of nature. My heart has been heavy lately with worry and too much of the ‘big stuff’ on my mind, and getting out of my usual daily pattern and having a fun little vacation really lifted me up. We all had a wonderful time!!

Kiss the kitteh!

These icicles were bent. Weird!

One day it snowed. It’s a shame I was too lazy to go outside and get a proper picture of this enchanted forest at dawn in the snowfall. Instead I took the photo through the window screen. Ug. Next time!


What have you all been up to lately??


Gratitude Sunday * July 1, 2012

By , July 1, 2012

~ I’m once again joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition. ~

Gratitude Sunday is a time to slow down and remember those thankful moments that graced our week. One reason I love keeping a daily gratitude journal is because it helps keep things in perspective for me. Each Sunday, I open my journal and share some of those moments with you here. If you’d like to join in, just leave a comment!

Gratitude is powerful energy. I love hearing others’ gratitudes!



– I’m so thankful for the most incredible trip we had to Hawaii. It was so renewing on so many levels. And FUN!!! Oh gosh. And so, so beautiful. I’ll share some pictures soon~

– The place where we house-sat. It was a gorgeous house that could be straight out of a magazine, on 3 acres, no visible neighbors, a wonderful organic garden, and a swimmable stream running through! OH man. I kept thinking, Can this be real?! You can see part of it up there in the top picture. That’s F lounging there, beneath one of the almost-daily rainbows! It was most truly a paradise. We soaked up every second of it.

– F and me, just being on vacation together. It was just so fun!

– For F doing all the driving; he’s such a good driver.

– Sleeping with plumerias around my head each night, and wearing them in my hair. Having their tropical scent around me. *sigh*

– Star gazing, and watching a meteor shower together at 2am, with the entire huge black sky and almost no light pollution.

– The tropical fruit! We ate gallons and gallons of tropical fruit — I had no idea a mango could be that fantastically delicious. And the papayas! I have never eaten fruit that delicious.

– That everything during our house-sitting time went so smoothly. Not one single thing went wrong; for that I am very thankful!

– Getting home safe and sound.

– No ants! In Hawaii, there are bugs. In your house. And lots and lots of ants. In your house. Leave one crumb, and very soon your counter has a pile of ants. I have a very new appreciation for Colorado being relatively bug-free! No ants… oh it’s so nice.

– The winds of change; they’ve been blowing good things in! More to come on that, too.

– Being surprised that I wasn’t too bummed to be home; I thought I would be. It does feel good to be home — although I do get pangs of longing for the home we stayed at and the fun times we had there!

– A special day today — my dad’s belated Father’s Day. Mom and I took him to lunch, then we went back to their house and opened presents from Hawaii which was really fun! I am so thankful for my dad. We share a deep bond. He’s just the very best and I love him so.

– Feeling optimistic. What a nice feeling that is — one I haven’t felt too much of these past couple years, truth be told.

– The little window air conditioner in our apartment. Because it has been very hot here!


What’s been on your gratitude list lately? Care to share?


Aloha to you!

By , June 20, 2012

Just a little bit of a check-in today, as we continue to love our time here in Hawaii!! We have seen some incredible scenery here, and now that we’re settled into our house sitting ‘home-away-from-home,’ we’re really just kicking back and relaxing. It feels so good, and it’s something we’ve both been long overdue for. Mornings here for me usually consist of lying out in the sunshine on the grass and then taking a cold, invigorating swim in the stream at the bottom of the yard, and then taking an outdoor shower amidst the orchids and bromeliads that live outside year-round here. Then I’ll brew some tea, and drink it along with a bowl of local papaya with plain yogurt, lime juice (fresh from the tree in the yard!), and grated ginger. Or, a beautiful salad from their organic garden. It feels so good to be here; so healing to ones spirit. It’s a gorgeous house in an incredible location. A little piece of paradise, really. What a gift this is!

Here are a few photos of what we’ve been feasting our eyes upon:

Hanalei Valley, Kauai. Taro is grown in the fields down there.

At the north end of Kauai

Hiking on the Na Pali coast, Kauai

Our tropical fruit! All this stuff is local. Hawaii has some of the most incredible fruit you've ever tasted; I wish we got stuff like this on the Mainland. In the center there's coconut meat from a coconut I found on the beach and hacked into!

Reading about taro in "Edible Hawaiian Islands" magazine, with tea, out on the lanai (patio), with the stream in the background. This is truly the life...


Our Airplane Food

By , June 9, 2012

Yay, we’re headed out pretty soon for Hawaii! We like taking our own food, so this is what we’ve got for the 2 hours at the airport plus the 7 1/2 hour flight:

Salads (all homegrown – lettuce, chives, oregano, dill, parsley)


Watermelon, pears, and peaches


Halved lemons to squeeze onto the salads


Homemade concord grape fruit leather


Pepperjack cheese slices

Wasa crackers

Slices of sprouted grain bread

Whole Wheat Gingerbread muffin

Some little sweet treats


I love eating my own food on the plane and it feels good to be taking all this good stuff. Plus we can re-use the containers while we’re travelling too — for picnics or whatever… and then fill them back up with tropical Hawaiian goodness to eat on the plane ride back. (Or with sea shells, as the case may turn out to be…)


Beach Day!

By , August 5, 2011

I have to tell you about a really wonderful day this week! My mom had emailed me saying “wanna go swimming tomorrow?” DO I! I could hardly sleep I was so excited, I felt like a little kid. It was an extremely hot day the next day and we drove to a reservoir that had a swimming beach. We had the best time! When was the last time you went swimming in a lake?? Ages ago? Me too. It’s much more fun than a swimming pool and different than ocean swimming (more serene, no rip tides). We did pause — only for a second! — to remark about the water (“it’s…GREEN”) but tossed precaution aside and went in. We were both literally squealing in delight, it felt so good to be in water!!!

Yummy snack…

After being in the water, I soaked in the sun on the beach and evened out my farmer’s tan got some vitamin D. I forgot how delicious it feels to lie in the hot sun after being in the water — like a sun sauna!

After swimming we took a little walk through a bog into a very quiet, very still, very enchanted meadow where two mama deer were grazing with their fawns.

Unfortunately the place was absolutely infested with mosquitoes, so we hardly spent any time here, even though it was so enchanting and inviting.

Quick, get a picture of this place so we can look at it later!” we only half joked, while swatting at arms and legs!

After that we went to Whole Foods for lunch!

I felt like I was on vacation the entire time. And I could just feel the damage being undone from some of those stressful workdays where I’d go outside at lunch and cry! What a wonderful day of rejuvenation and joy…



Back From Argentina!

By , December 17, 2010

Lost in the chaotic back streets of Buenos Aires

Boy it’s been a whole month since I posted! We got back from Argentina a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been getting things back in order, plus relaxing and enjoying the Christmas season!

We had such a great time on our trip! There were many things we observed and made note of, and I’ve listed them here if anyone’s interested. Just observations about the country. There are more pictures after the text.

We* ended up driving almost 3,200 miles from Buenos Aires down the east coast to Peninsula Valdez where we saw penguins, then west through Patagonia (route 25) to the Andes, then through the Pampas back to Buenos Aires.

*I was the map-reader and in fact did precisely NONE of the driving; F. did it all, despite the insane drivers, complete lack of stop signs, and basically no road rules. I was so sure we were going to get into an accident, but amazingly we didn’t. My Hubby is such a good driver! Wow.

Argentina was NOT cheap like everyone had said, however. Prices for everything (even in places well off the beaten path) were comparable to the United States. The nature there was first-rate, however. Beautiful! We loved seeing different animals in the wild, including guanacos, rheas (like ostriches), flamingos, penguins, whales, parakeets, sea lions, tarantulas, an armadillo, a stork, vultures, cara-caras, vermillion fly catchers, etc.

Some Random Observations:

Argentina is very Italian (say “Ciao!”). It’s all about pasta, pizza, ham-n-cheese -everything, and croissants. We ate enough ham & cheese cold cuts and croissants to last us a lifetime.

This country consumes a LOT of sugar! It’s everywhere, and in everything. And they love their helado (ice cream) and dulce de leche (carmelized milk & sugar)!

They don’t seem to be much into fresh food or vegetables. Salads are a little bit of wilty lettuce topped with mountains of ham and cheese, topped with, strangely, distilled white vinegar and corn(!) or vegetable oil. Canned fruit was usually the thing, rather than fresh. I was consistently underwhelmed by the selection and quality of fresh produce — and none of it was organic that I saw.

Despite the perfect climate and rich soil, I only saw a handful of backyard gardens and a couple of backyard fruit trees. Why don’t people grow their own food?

The supermarkets are crammed with processed foods laden with sugar, preservatives, partially hydrogenated oils, and white flour, with seemingly no healthier alternatives.

Milk is mostly all ultrapasteurized, sold in aseptic bags or in boxes on the shelf. And I stocked up when I could find plain yogurt with no sugar added!

I didn’t see organic anything. The organic/local foods/whole foods/fresh foods/no-GMO thing hasn’t reached Argentina yet, it seems. They do have Gluten-Free down pat, though.

No health food stores… none that I saw anyway.

They drink a lot of mate (pronounced mah-tay), anywhere and everywhere, all the time, usually with friends, preferably outside, but also at work and in the car.

Spanish is spoken with an Italian accent. And the double L sound is pronounced “sh” rather than “y”. Calle (“street”) is pronounced “kah-shay” instead of “kah-yay.”

The driving is completely nuts, reckless, and downright scary, but people are generally paying attention and usually not on their cell phones.

The road signage throughout the country is minimal, confusing, and often just plain stupid.

There are no stop signs at intersections, lanes are optional, red lights are sometimes disregarded — as are pedestrians — and it’s very much a “me first” attitude. I’m still completely amazed that we weren’t involved in an accident.

That said, the people (when not in their cars) seemed really nice everywhere we went. We didn’t really run into the machismo attitude we’d read about, although perhaps that’s because we were traveling as a couple. I got a few wolf whistles but mostly I just noticed that the men were courteous in general, and held the door for me.

Seat belts, car seats, and helmets are seen only occasionally.

Buenos Aires has a Parisian look to it, but the buildings are dirty and run down, perhaps from the air pollution?; the city is much prettier at night when you can’t see the dirt!

We drank the water everywhere with no problem.

All gas stations are full service. All cars are manual transmission.

What they call “NAFTA” is the regular gasoline we’re used to in the States; it’s expensive at around US$4+ a gallon. GNC (compressed natural gas) is also widely available (and usually a quarter of the price as NAFTA), and many cars use that as fuel.

In general, Argentinians are thin, easy on the eyes, and casually fashionable. Most have European blood.

The traffic lights will turn yellow before they turn red, but also again before they turn green.

Waiters will let you linger at a restaurant as long as you want; if you want the check, you’ll have to ask for it. The strange “table fee” added to your bill is for the bread, use of the table, clean silverware & plates, etc. It’s not the tip. It’s customary to tip at least 10% at a restaurant.

Police stations are in every town, no matter how small. There are lots of police “checkpoints” (though they seemed pretty laid-back).

Lots of toll roads, especially around Buenos Aires.

In Argentina they like to nickel and dime you for everything; however, parking was free, even at the beach!

No smoke detectors in hotel rooms.

Lots of cows eating lush, green grass. Famous grass-fed beef. However, they’re just getting into the feedlot-factory-farming thing — cringe!

Seemingly no emissions regulations on vehicles. The air is downright acrid in Buenos Aires.

Lots of dirty, run-down, soviet-style apartment blocks. Dead, soviet-looking building carcasses litter the landscape; too decrepit to resurrect, no money to tear them down.

The feel of the whole country is “not enough money.” This is thanks to their recent, turbulent political history.

Prices ARE NOT CHEAP! We read so many things that said “Argentina is cheap.” Well, Argentina is NOT cheap. Even in the small towns that are off the beaten path. Its prices are absolutely comparable to the US, except for electronics which are outdated and yet cost twice what they cost in the US. Jobs are evidently hard to come by, and people don’t make much money. We honestly don’t know how they survive. Thus, the look of “poor” throughout the country.

Siesta is every afternoon. Stores close for about four hours and then re-open later in the evening. They still put in a 40-hour work week though.

Argentinians are night owls; they eat late and stay up very late.

Dogs run free. There are dogs everywhere, napping on sidewalks, crossing streets, playing in groups, just “out and about.” Some are stray, some aren’t; all look happy!

Our Peugeot rental car

Somewhere in Buenos Aires

Mar del Plata

Driving along the beach, south of Mar del Plata (?)

Ubiquitous dirty apartment blocks -- these are in not-so-scenic Necochea

Pastry with dulce de leche -- the best deal in Argentina at only US$1

Someone's backyard behind the gas station. Can't remember where...

Every store had an entire aisle devoted to cheap vegetable oils. Only 75 cents US for a bottle. Not your thing? Then try the blocks of margarine in the refridgerated section!

Milk is sold in bags. Almost all of it ultrapasteurized; pasteurized (like the stuff above) is rare.

We stayed in Puerto Pyramides on Peninsula Valdez. I particularly loved this leg of our trip. Our room was right on the beach and we watched whales from our balcony!

We saw lots of sweet penguins at Peninsula Valdez!! Gorgeous water, too. (And very, very windy!)

Patagonia does feature a lot of nothing.

In the Andes, with Bariloche in the distance. It was SO windy! And the water really is that beautiful color.

Typical Argentinian hotel buffet breakfast. Ham & cheese, croissants (not pictured), canned fruit, sweetened drinkable yogurt, breads, and sugary pastries filled with dulce de leche.

The Pampas sometimes looked like the grassland prairie of the American midwest, while in other places (like here near Santa Rosa) it looked like the African savanna with lots of Acacia. (And notice the flamingos in the water in the bottom left hand corner of the picture!)

Old gas station with Che Guevara posters in the city of Chivilcoy.

Going to Argentina on Friday!

By , November 16, 2010

We have a big trip planned!! We’re leaving for Argentina on Friday and will be there for a little over 2 weeks. We’ve been talking about this trip for a long time, but only last week did we actually bite the bullet and buy our tickets. And then only last night did we really begin hammering out an itinerary. We’re still working on that part! Guess that leaves the plane ride to brush up on my extremely minimal Spanish. F used to speak fluent Spanish but not anymore. Though I’m sure we’ll get by OK!

At first we were planning to wing it completely with the itinerary, but realized that not having a plan would waste a lot of precious time (and probably money) because we want to see many different places with only 2 weeks to do it! I think having a rough plan will cut down on stress, too.

We’re going down there primarily to scope it out as a possible place to live. We’d like to be in the countryside (with several acres), but within reasonable distance from a good-sized city. We like smaller towns, but with a progressive mindset. And preferably near a beach! So we’ll be looking around in the area south of Buenos Aires and north of Bahia Blanca. Any recommendations? Have you been there? Know of a good spot to visit? Leave a comment and let us know!

The rest of the trip, then, will be sightseeing and getting a feel for the rest of the country. We’ll see some penguins in the south, the Lakes District in the west, and possibly Iguazu Falls in the northern jungle. If you have any recommendations regarding these places, too, please leave a comment!!

It’ll be a whirlwind trip! I think we’ll both be glad when we’re finally on the plane. We’ve been in trip-plan mode pretty heavily these past couple days, and as F and I both keep remembering more and more things we need to do, it’s getting overwhelming! Trip planning stresses me out, and traveling often stresses me out, too. I love travel, but I’m also a homebody and get easily overwhelmed. But gosh, I do love being out in the world seeing new places!

Preparing for this trip has been a little easier than previous trips, though. I’ve done the solo backpacking thing through New Zealand and some of Australia, so I know what to pack…already have everything I need…and have done it before and know the drill. SO helpful!

Anyway, our itinerary will still be fairly open, so if you have any pointers about places to see, or travel tips for Argentina, leave a comment!

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