This & That


can you see Jay working inside his woodshop?

tomatoes are coming!

Hello dear friends!  I certainly hope this finds you doing well.  How has your spring been?  We've been doing all of the usual things - planting the garden, increasing our weekly production at Cobble Hill Farm Soap & Mercantile, caring for Oliver & Jack, cleaning up the flower beds, reading (me, not my husband), writing (me, not my husband), fishing (my husband, not me), and so on.  Today's post is a little catch-up and will jump all around in topics. 

The weather has been beautiful, for the most part.  We've already had some high heat and humidity which I could do without, but at least it has mostly been mild.  Currently we are battling pollen, a huge infestation of the spongy moth caterpillars (the trees are literally raining them), and, of course, ticks.  Oliver is taking the brunt of the pollen and the ticks, it seems.

Although I've absolutely struggled with seasonal allergies since my early 20's and began taking OTC allergy relief medication daily by my late 20's, I have found a HUGE relief in this these past few years.  Ever since I began working for myself and changed what I ate (switched to primarily anti-inflammatory foods and eliminated all dairy), I have not had any issues with my allergies/sinuses and haven't taken any medications.  Dramatically reducing my stress and eating differently has made all of the difference it seems.  I previously assumed that daily allergy meds and severe sinus infections 2-4 times per year would be with me the rest of my life.  Thankfully that was not correct!  I now purchase zyrtec for Oliver - he has developed minor seasonal allergies (of course he has....why not add that to the mix? 😁).

The veggies are growing, as are the weeds, so everything is in full swing.  Bugs are eating away at my zucchini and summer squash plants, and something, a chipmunk I believe, has killed all of my sunflowers.  I suspect it's a chipmunk because there were a few new holes dug in the vicinity, so I think the small sunflower plants were an unintentional target.  I have the hardest time trying to grow sunflowers.  They either get eaten or destroyed by the wildlife every.  single.  year.  Ugh.... year I will start with pvc pipes and row covers, and leave my beds covered until the plants that need pollination require the covers to be removed.  I think I'll leave the remaining plants covered.  On a positive note, our greens are doing great, as are the sugar snap peas, asparagus, and herbs.  The rest of the veggies are still pretty young so only time will tell.

We have decided to implement an intentional low spend year this year with our personal budget. I have been diligent at watching our spending on groceries and keeping it low, but we also decided it would be best to watch all of our spending. Last winter was a tough one for our business and it will likely be similar this coming winter if the current state of the economy is any indication. Our sales have been quite unpredictable this spring too. It's hard to know how the remainder of the year will go.
Are any of you spending a bit more conservatively this year as well?

That being said, one thing we did decide to replace was the tent for our back deck.  We absolutely love eating outside during the spring, summer and fall, and having a screened-in area is a huge help when those bugs are at their worst in summer.  Our old tent was in pretty bad shape from being out in the sun for a few years, so we now have a new one.  You can see in the photos that Jay made Ollie his own "chair" for eating at the outdoor table.  He's not a huge fan of it but he'd rather be in it than be left on the deck or in the house, so it works out.

Speaking of the deck, I am also cooking outside as much as possible.  Our grill has a side burner that I use a LOT and we have additional outdoor burners when needed.  Grilled homemade pizza (our favorite) is on the menu quite frequently during this season.  It is the best - even reheated, it just has such a nice crispy crust and flavor.

And speaking of spending money, I managed to somehow break my camera lens last month.  Ugh....  So that will need to be fixed/replaced as well.  Doesn't it seem like these are the crazy things that happen when you decide to implement a hold on spending?

Oh, and I just topped off my gas tank yesterday.  I paid $4.83/gallon.  Yikes!  I'm sure it's even worse for many of you as we've heard that gas is up over $5.00/gallon and as high as up to $10.00/gallon in some parts of the U.S.

Oliver continues to do well.  Although his back end continues to slowly degrade, he is happy (and crazy at times) and gets around just fine.  He still isn't great about sleeping at night but the remainder of the day and evening he does pretty well.  I will say that I am absolutely grateful that we decided not to add another dog to our lives.  After Emerson passed away, we very strongly considered it.  Thankfully I had doubts and we stopped moving forward. Not only are we exhausted from taking care of Oliver, but I think we would have been dealing with significant jealousy issues, which is what made me put the brakes on initially.

Jack also continues to hold his own.  He is keeping his weight static which tells us (hopefully) all is well at the moment.  He has a follow-up with his cardiologist in August (for his heart disease diagnosed almost 2 years ago) but continues to have his weight monitored by his regular vet.  He also continues to act exactly the same as always, so we continue to hold out hope that the sudden weight loss of 1-pound last year was nothing major.  It was thought initially it could be a sign of cancer because all of his bloodwork came back perfect.  So, we continue to monitor him and will bring him in for an ultrasound if needed.

Ok, so remember a couple of months ago I mentioned that I was against adding more chickens to the flock and my husband had wanted to?  Then he came to his senses and agreed with me?  Well, I lost my senses this week and suggested that maybe we should add a few chicks.  Jay quickly agreed and, well, one day after having made the suggestion we brought home 8 new little ladies to add to the mix.  The good thing is that they are a month old and we didn't have to do the whole heat lamp thing.  That, to me, is half the battle of raising them.  Our local feed store had some chicks left that are one month old (or so), so that's what we chose to go with.  I am amazed everyday that our flock of senior citizens continues to hold on AND continues to lay eggs but it has to end at some point, so I figured it's best to be prepared. 

And just like that we are back up to a flock of 35 ladies.

I have read a few books!  I did read a couple of books that I wasn't thrilled with, but they are not on this list.  These are the books I've enjoyed the past 2 months (affiliate links):

Barefoot: A Novel, by Elin Hilderbrand - if you're a fan of Elin's then you know how incredible she is at developing characters and keeping great dialogue going between them.  This book certainly encompasses all of that.  Three women leave their lives behind and spend the summer on Nantucket to enjoy each others company and the sunshine while giving themselves space to work through life's issues.

A Season For Second Chances: A Novel, by Jenny Bayliss - written by a British author, this book transports you to a charming seaside town where the main character, Annie, is able to start a brand new beginning after her marriage comes to an abrupt end.  The characters are quirky and caring and I found myself wanting to find out what would happen next!  I read Jenny's first book which was a fun read but her writing style, in my opinion, has evolved with this second book.  I'm excited for her third book release this September!

Eight Perfect Hours: A Novel, by Lia Louis - I enjoyed Lia's writing style so much that I sought out her first novel, Dear Emmie Blue, to read after this.  She does use quite a bit of profanity, so if that offends you, her writing may not be for you.  This book focuses on 2 strangers who meet in a blizzard and spend 8 perfect hours together while waiting for the roads to clear.  They assume they will never see each other again but surprisingly, their paths continue to cross.  I enjoyed the characters in this book, including their real-life challenges as well as the twists and turns she provided for each of them.  It's easy to predict the ending, as it is for many enjoyable reads, but the development and path to get there I found entertaining.

Dear Emmie Blue: A Novel, by Lia Louis - as noted above, I sought this out after reading Eight Perfect Hours because I thoroughly enjoyed Lia's writing style.  This book also contains quite a bit of profanity, in case that is of concern to you.  This book focuses strongly on friendship and love, and the lesson that sometimes when things don't work out the way you wanted it's because there's something much better in store for you.  The characters are witty with fluid conversations that clearly identify with their character development.  Lia gives each of them real-life challenges which feed into the twists and turns the book takes.  Emmie Blue released a balloon that held a secret she desperately wanted to release when she was 16.   Lucas discovered the balloon and contacted Emmie Blue.  Their relationship turned into an intense friendship.  Now, 14 years later, Emmie wants to let Lucas know that she secretly has fallen in love with him.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club: A Novel, by Amy Reichert - I have really enjoyed Amy's other books that I've read so I couldn't wait to dive into this one.  When I first started it I almost gave up.  I didn't enjoy it nearly as much and it wasn't what I'd expected.  I did continue, however, and I'm glad I did.  While it wasn't my favorite book I'd read this time around, it was very enjoyable.  The characters were funny and charming and the storyline was strong.  The main character, Sabrina, finds herself jobless and is forced to move back home with her parents in Wisconsin.  Moving back home means Sabrina also returns to the family curse - the women in her family can see the spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business.  Sabrina meets a handsome and delightful restauranteur and together they work through their own family challenges while developing a sweet relationship.

How has your week been?  What types of things are you doing to help combat the rising prices?  Have you read any good books recently?


  1. So much going on there!
    Glad to hear the boys are holding their own. One less worry for momma, right?

    I wish I had a remedy for the sunflowers. Except for planting something stinky around it, like garlic or onions, I can't think of a better solution than netting or fencing.

    Thank you for the book list. I like anything that Elin Hilderbrand writes and have also recently started diving into Jenny Colgan. I love the magic of books, as they can take you completely out of your world into someone else's.

    Enjoy your weekend, friend.

  2. Sweet Oliver looks like he's on his throne in that first photo. Garden challenges can be so frustrating. We are having issues with some new to us disease in many of our tomatoes. We've pulled out quite a few, and replaced them, but more keep coming down with it. Every year brings new challenges. I'll be interested to see what gas is here when I go out today.

  3. Hi Daisy - one less worry is right! lol Good thought on the sunflowers, I'll try that! I replanted so we'll see how it goes.

    I enjoy Jenny Colgan as well! If you like her writing style you will probably like the book by Jenny Bayliss. The main difference is that Jenny's writing is not "americanized" through editing whereas it appears Jenny and Lia's books are. I enjoy reading either style. And yes, I agree, a good book is magic indeed.

    Happy end-of-the-week and weekend!

  4. Laurie - Oliver's throne indeed! After all, he is the Prince of the household so it's only fitting. 😉 You are sooooo right about every year bringing new challenges to the garden. You can never feel too confident!

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

  5. Wow petrol over there is crazier than here even with the conversion rate of gallon vs litres and USD vs AUD. We are up to $2.24 per litre which the govt gave some of the duty back for 6 months which ends in September. Not sure of the exact amount that is 20 or 40 cents I can't remember. The price of an iceberg lettuce here is $11.90 [for one lettuce] capsicums are $14.90 per kg. The price of groceries, fuel and electricity is going up 1st July. Times are really crazy. I remember when the GFC hit fuel went through the roof but this is higher than that. I've had to double my fuel budget and I don't even drive much. Sorry to hear about your camera lens, that's no good. I've just bought a 2nd hand film camera [same one as I had for my first camera when I was 17]. Lots of people are shooting with film and I needed something fun for myself as we had a lot of family stuff going on. I've got Covid this week [finally caught up with me] so I'm out tomorrow and can pick up the film I ordered which was delivered to the post office last week as I went out 10 mins before they delivered it [always the way]. Have a good week.

  6. Kathy - my goodness, the price of a head of lettuce where you live is absurd! Yes, gasoline here is ridiculously priced and will continue to rise. Everything has gone up (and continues to go up) here as well. Times are crazy indeed. That's fun that you'll be shooting with film again! So sorry to hear that you have been home with COVID but happy you are doing well.

    Have a wonderful week/weekend!


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