August 31, 2010

Tackle-It-Tuesday with CelticMom

If you have a big project that "looms large" and would like to join with us in prayer and encouragement along the way, click the graphic above and visit CelticMom to learn more!


Praise the Lord for dear friends who get together for a group "push" to get things done!  Mary and Shani, had it not been for you two this week, and the knowledge that on Tuesday we would share what we got done, I probably wouldn't have done it.  What a blessing! 

I haven't been blogging much because I've been working so hard on cleaning up after the window replacements, and also on doing a MAJOR de-cluttering while I've been cleaning.  We did school over the summer this year, so we didn't get that break to go through things, and with Bryan's "surprise" start of college this week, I had a lot of files torn apart so I could get his portfolio put together in a big hurry! Then we did all the special testing for his accomodations for the learning glitches (our word for LD's), and by the end of all the paperwork and rush jobs, things were a real mess. 

I've been working on 3 rooms simultaneously this week; all 3 are now "construction dust-free," and each one has stacks of things that have to go into the other rooms.  I decided to finish the room we call the "Library," since it needed the most decluttering before things could go back in it, and it's where Bryan and I need to do the exercises and therapies we have chosen for his dyslexic tendencies.  It is where we used to do school, but now they are mostly in their room w/their laptops. It's also where we have the papers/receipts/records for the sharpening business that they operate out of our home. There's a LOT of old stuff (papers, catalogs, notebooks, binders, etc) in there, and I went through every one this week.  I think I can still do another round of decluttering in there, but for now, I am delighted.

BEFORE PHOTOS:
Furniture and papers coated with construction dust

Dust everywhere...
The Library closet...ugh...this is where 8 years of homeschooling
plus all our other files live, and it's such a mess!
Other half of library closet with piles of papers that have been there for months...
DURING THE CLEANOUT:
The vacuum has done its job (doors, walls, baseboards, floors, furniture/upholstery, loose and stacked papers, bookshelves and EVERY book on the bookshelves...all were vacuumed to get the fine dust off, and this was NO SMALL TASK); the papers are in the process of being sorted, thrown away, stacked according to where they will ultimately live, and/or filed; the furniture is migrating back to its original location, the pictures are going back on the walls, and my dog is getting wierded out by all the fuss and activity.  Here are the photos:





Once I was at this stage, the physically-harder portion of this job was over, but the part that my dh and I call the "gumption trap" began. It's when you have to start dealing with the "minutia" that helped to cause the problem (clutter) to begin with, and it gets all your "gumption" and drives it into the dust. 
 

The easy way to "clean" it is to take all the paper pieces and put them into stacks, nice and neat, and call it "organized."  But, as FlyLady correctly says, "you can't organize clutter."  I was determined to get rid of what needing ridding, so I made 3 piles...recycle, garbage can, put away. Here is one of 3 bags that went out in the recycling pick-up which, fortunately, came today:




I threw out an entire bag-full of stuff that couldn't be recycled, and I put, in a bin, curriculum that I want to try and sell, and in another bin, curriculum that we will no longer use but that I want to save to give to the boys someday if they are blessed with kids and the ability to homeschool them.  This curriculum I would like to loan to friends who may not be able to buy it for themselves.  It is sitting in my basement on the ping-pong table (that's for another Tackle-It-Tuesday!).

AFTER THE JOB WAS COMPLETED:
I wanted to quit a couple of times, but knew I had to post photos of how I ended up; so, last night at about 9pm, I finally took these "After" photos:





(The crockpot has to sit there on the bookshelf until I get a kitchen storage area cleaned out...stay tuned for another episode of "Tackle-It-Tuesday," LOL!!!)

GOALS FOR NEXT WEEK:
1. Living Room: the dusting and most of the cleaning in this room is done; it needs to get from the "during" phase to the "Finished" phase.
2. Kitchen: I really want to get a bunch of stuff removed from my cabinets; I want to pare-down to almost the bare minimum.  I don't necessarily want to throw things away or give them away, but would like to get a bin started for my ds1 so that when he finishes his degree (spring of 2012, Lord willing), he'll have some things to use in a kitchen if he's not living/working near home.  Attached to the kitchen is the mudroom entry off the garage, and I keep some things for the kitchen and the microwave on a shelf there, so I'll count it as part of the kitchen.

Remember to visit our lovely hostess, Shani (aka CelticMom), for more Tackle-It-Tuesday sharing!

August 28, 2010

A Peek at my Week

The Big Picture
The house is getting cleaned up, bit by bit; school started!

The Details

House Happenings...
Room by room, things are looking better here this week.  Thanks to Shani and Mary and the anti-procrastination challenge, I took some photos of the post-window-replacement mess, then hooked up the dusting hose on my Rainbow vacuum cleaner and got to it.  The living room and the library got done...at least in terms of the vacuuming of dust from every piece of furniture, every knick-knack, every bookshelf and every book on the bookshelf (with our library-room, that is no small feat).  The library is still in a state of disorganization, as I threw out a lot of old homeschool papers and articles that have been buried on the shelves for years.  I have so much curriculum that I need to sell!  A lot of it went at our last used curriculum resale in May, but there is still much leftover.  Like, boxes-full.  I need to organize those boxes, get lids on them, and store them downstairs until I get another opportunity to sell.

Homeschool High School & College Notes...
It's official...school has begun here.  I probably would have waited another week if it had been up to me, but the local community and junior colleges started on Monday, so that's when we hit the launch pad, too!  Bryan had a GREAT week, he is really enjoying being in an Ag. program (for a suburbanite kid who wants to be a farmer, it's been difficult to satisfy that yearning!), and I think it should go well for him this semester, Lord willing.  Nathan is really enjoying his math class at the college (pre-calc. I) and his German III class, and we've started our year with Diana Waring's Romans, Revolutionaries, and Reformers as well as Sonlight's American Literature.   

My Creative Side...
Umm, can I say I'm doing "creative dusting and vacuuming???"  Sorry, gang, I am still "stifled" here.  Grrrr. One of my creative outlets is writing, so I suppose a blog post will have to suffice for now. 

Kitchen Happenings...
The tomatoes have gathered...they are ripe and in my refrigerator waiting to be turned into sauce, and will then go in my freezer.  I hope I'll have a picture of a finished product in my next Friday FarmGirls post!

In the Garden...
I harvested a few more jalapenos today...
My tomato plant had one small, red tomato with blossom end rot, and then these guys...still green at the end of August.  Hmmmm.
 Good thing my friends' tomatoes were producing like rabbits this year, so I have lots of them to go with my hot peppers, LOL!  I do feel very happy about my raspberries, which are now starting their 2nd round of delicious production (I get one in July, and another in late August/early September):

Where the Lord and I Walked This Week...
Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?  "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest"--
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11)

This week has been one of productiveness, as opposed to the overwhelmedness and "shut-down" that I was feeling the previous week.  Not that I don't get overwhelmed (the tasks of the month are not over with yet!), but I am working for Christ and in His strength, not mine which is depleted. There is more in my life that I've not yet shared that adds to how tired and depleted I feel besides just remodeling dust, but the important consequence of it all is that I am at the end of my strength, and that actually puts me in a better place than when I am pushing myself to use my own.  My Proverb this week:


August 27, 2010

Friday FarmGirls@Heart

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar!  You can grab code HERE.

School has started again in this FarmGirl's home!  For the oldest, it's at the community college, and for the youngest, 3 classes at the college, 3 at home, one of which has an online lecture each week. So my days of little ones snuggled up on the couch with me while I read stories to them are loooong over! 

The community college is...well...it's not my kind of place.  For a lot of reasons.  Nathan (ds#2) doesn't much like it either, but he enjoys the classes he's in this year (pre-calculus I and German III, plus a P.E. class for aerobic fitness and strength training), and they are a means to an end, so we both tolerate the environment. 

After he finished this afternoon, we decided that we needed a beautiful view and some fresh air, so we went home, grabbed his pre-calc book, and headed off to our beautiful Arboretum, which is just 10 minutes from our home.  They have a lovely library there (filled with books about plants), which is so nice to be in, but what we were after was attached to the library...it's a reading garden which you get to by going through the library.


See the little table and chairs in the back?  We sat there, and there's a lovely little fountain bubbling away in the small pond.  Nathan finished his homework there, and I happily spent the time reading and list-making the things I need to accomplish over the next week and a half. 

There is nothing like a lovely, sunny, late-summer day in a quiet, tranquil garden setting to make a beautiful balm for a weary and suburban-burned-out soul! 

"He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul..."
(Psalm 23:2-3)

I know this isn't terribly "farm-girl-ish" today, but other than vacuuming up copious amounts of construction dust and wood pieces, getting school started was pretty much all I've done this week!  I am hoping to have the bulk of the cleanup over with in another week, and some spaghetti sauce made and frozen (doubt I'll have time to can this week, so in the freezer it will go!); a dear friend gave me LOTS of tomatoes, and all I can think of, besides a bit of fresh salsa to eat right away, is marinara sauce!  We've been eating lots of fresh, sliced tomatoes with our lunches and dinners, what a treat!
Have a great Friday!


Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

August 21, 2010

Window Replacement...What a Mess!

The Big Picture
An awful lot of big changes crammed into 2 very little weeks...makes for overwhelmedness and tiredness.  I thank the Lord for wonderful friends!

The Details

House Happenings...
We got home from our church camping trip (the hot, humid, buggy one...remember?) on Thursday, 8/5.  Spent Friday and Saturday doing laundry and dishes and repacking the camping gear away so it's ready to go for the next trip (currently set for next summer sometime).  Sunday after church we began to move every piece of furniture that was anywhere near a window, in every room of our home, either to the center of the room or, if not enough space for that, we moved it out of the room and into a larger one that had space. 

Why for?

Monday morning, August 9, at 8am, a crew of 4 showed up at our home to begin replacing the windows.  Not just some of them...ALL of them.  They worked until 7pm that night, then came back at 7am on Tuesday and worked until 7:30pm, and had it done.  Wednesday everything "rested" while caulk set up, and then on Thursday morning, 8am, the paint/stain crew of just one arrived to stain the wood interior frames of the windows.  He stayed until almost 7pm and hadn't made much progress (the day was largely spent taping and prepping the windows for staining) by the time he left.  Friday he arrived at 7am, and 2 more cheerful men joined him a couple hours later for the entire day, and things were looking more optimistic at the end of the day when he left at about 7pm.  Saturday he was here from 9am until about 5 or 6pm, and the job was FINALLY done.


During this entire week, temps were in the 90's and we had miserably high humidity.  But with the stain and polycoat fumes, we had no choice but to open the windows a bit.  We packed cots and sleeping bags and spent the nights at my mom's house (she lives 15 minutes away).  PTL for mom!  She made us dinner every single night of that week, and was I ever grateful.

Now, this week, the cleanup began...and stalled.  There is a fine layer of construction/wood dust on every...single...surface.  Every table, every chair, every picture frame, every dried flower in a vase, every pillow, every cushion, every piece of paper that sat on a table. (Did I mention that they came 3 days after we got back from a camping trip?  And that we didn't have time to totally de-clutter the house and clear off every stick of furniture?)


Dust gathered in the panels of a 6-panel door. 

After spending an entire day cleaning my bed/bathroom,

my kitchen counters and appliances, and the boys helping to do their room and their bathroom, I got so overwhelmed looking at everything left to do that I gave up in a little fit of despair.  Mind you, we've been prepping to start school on Monday, and we cannot put it off because school involves college here.  We've had orientation days, advising sessions, textbooks to purchase...

So I gave up for a few days, and we still have lots of dusty rooms to go.  I had some wonderful visits in these last few days with dear friends, and simply ignored my dusty house, and my spirits have picked up wonderfully!  I do not know exactly when I'll get my sweaty clothes back on and clean again, maybe after Nathan and I get back from the college on Monday afternoon...but it'll happen, just in little chunks.  I think I can handle that better!  Maybe by Thanksgiving...



Homeschool High School & College Notes...
I am feeling a little more stunned every day that Bryan will be going full time with college courses beginning Monday.  I've known it for a few months now, but the reality is hitting more and more.  I think because he's communting to a neighboring county's community college, rather than moving away and into a dorm somewhere far from home, that I don't "process" this like he's gone.  But 90% of my homeschooling with him is done.  He'll be giving me a speech by tomorrow evening to complete the 1st semester of high school communications/speech class which he did over the summer, and then we'll be doing intensive (I hope) exercises to help with his dyslexic symptoms (getting the perfectly clear thoughts in his head to come out of his mouth in a similar form, and/or to write them on paper in a similar form, and spelled so you can at least recognize them!) for the remainder of "communications" class; geometry he's pretty much doing on his own, and is about 1/2 done, and American Lit is reading and composing short papers, which I don't need to do too much on other than advise and grade.  Lord willing, it'll all be over at the end of December, and then it's him and the college from there on out.  I'll still be helping him, critiquing work, helping him study, of course; but I will not be responsible for teaching or keeping records once he's graduated.  Whew.

We met, last week, with the folks at the college who approve the accomodations for kids with special needs or learning disabilities.  Brayn spent countless hours this summer going through testing to "diagnose" his learning difficulties, which ended up being exactly what I told them they were when we went in for the first meeting (gee, what a surprise!).  We took in all the paperwork which was finalized, of course, the day that we had to meet with the college (raced around that morning driving all over 2 counties from end to end), and, PTL...Bryan was given every single accomodation that we had requested (and prayed for), no questions asked.  On Thursday Bryan and his brother, Nathan, and I all went out to the college again for the official student orientation program.  Bryan drove, then I took his car and Nathan and I went down the street and killed a couple hours looking at the campers and trailers at the RV store a mile down the road.  Fun fun fun! (I know, Shani...not so fun!!!)

Nathan has been doing nothing but playing for this last week since he finished taking the final math test of his summer course.  He took it the day they started the windows job (I left Bryan there to watch things), and because all the teachers were on their official break, it has to sit until Monday before it gets scored.  But Nathan felt really good about it, so we haven't really even thought about it!  He's so glad to be done, and I've been more than happy to just let him sit and veg-out for a couple weeks.   


My Creative Side...
I have nothing to share other than that the wonderful, ever-patient and talented Tamara finished my blog overhaul a couple days ago, which is why it is so pretty and colorful here!  The template she used is such that I should now be able to use my own backgrounds and things that I find that I like, rather than just being locked into the blogger stuff, though it wasn't too bad, I must admit. When I open my blog, I feel at home again.  For me, that's really important, because writing is very personal to me.  If I don't feel comfy in my "space," it's really hard for me to post.
Mary and Shani, keep with me...I'll be knitting in just a bit, I can feel it!  Once I vacuum the dust off of my sofa...  Thank God I decluttered a little bit a few months ago and had some empty bins with lids just the right size for yarn in my craft room, so it's all safe and dust-free!

Kitchen Happenings...
Again, my mom has bailed me out during our construction time, and this week we've been eating up these frozen meals I had stocked up on for just such occasions.  We've eaten out a couple times, too (been away from home this week every day).  I am sooooo ready for homecooked food again.  My stomach is, too.

In the Garden...
Dear friends have had successful gardens this year, and I have been blessed to recieve wonderful tomatoes and zucchini.  Now, with my little peppers that mangaed to grow this year, I am ready to make salsa.  Yumm, yumm, yumm.

Perhaps this would be the place to mention a farmers market happening...Bryan and I worked our final market of the season...YAAAAHOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Can we just share that it has been a miserable summer market season with just about no money earned (last year was BOOMING but we had a different location that we got closed out of this year) and little other than dangerously high heat and humidity in which we sat, week after week, for 6 hours at a stretch to make, oh, maybe $10?  PTL he took in about $150 on this last day, and it was about 88 degrees with low humidity.  Still not enough to make it worth it to do all the work it takes to sharpen "mobile-ly" at the market.  He can make that doing it at home well enough. We are soooo glad this is over!

Where the Lord and I Walked This Week...
These times of being overwhelmed and exhausted keep me coming back to Isaiah 40:31...

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.  

These last few days of waiting and praying and enjoying the fellowship and friendship of brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than in focusing on a dusty house, have been such a help to me.  Thank you for your prayers, and for those who are nearby, for times of fellowship. I am feeling more ready to tackle this home of mine, and am excited to simply throw and/or give away much of the dusty stuff rather than keeping it.  May it bless someone else who can really use it, and may I be left with only what is truly necessary here so the focus can be on Christ and what He wants to do with this place.   

It has been a long, busy, and difficult summer for me and the boys in various ways.  Fall is on the horizon, what with school beginning in just 2 days.  I can close my eyes and feel the cool breezes and see the tawny colors, and I am praying that God will bring the very big and very needed changes to our home now that summer is behind us!  I look forward to a less cluttered home, an extra couple hours each week for crafting, hospitality, and encouraging my sons who are young men and coming ever-closer to flying this coop for coops of their own, crackling fire in the fireplace with the smells of supper on the stove, 2 feet of wet, heavy snow to shovel...

...Ahem...sorry, I think I fell asleep there!  Let's just stop with the supper on the stove and leave it at autumn for a while!  Quite a while!   

I want to introduce my bloggy friends to my dear friend, Christine, who has a lovely blog titled, "Indeed My Heritage."  Stop by and say hello to this beloved Sister in Christ, Godly woman, and fellow-homeschooling mom (tell her I sent you!).

August 20, 2010

Friday FarmGirls at Heart ~ Zucchini & Tomatoes

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar!  You can grab code HERE.

This time of year my friends who have successful produce gardens are bringing buckets-full of zucchini and tomatoes to share, and what a treat they are!  Here are 2 recipes to help us enjoy them:

Summer Bread Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese

1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped baby zucchini
1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped sweet or green onion
1/4 cup chopped imported olives (black or green)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbl. wine vinegar (I use red wine vinegar)
2 tsp. minced garlic
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
5 - 6 cups firm-textured bread cubes (sourdough, pita, etc.), dried or toasted (note: soft fresh bread will get too soggy and gooey)

Toss all ingredients except bread in large bowl; let stand at room temperature to develop flavor, tossing occasionally, 1/2 to 1 hour.  Toss in bread just before serving.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Mock Apple Cobbler
Filling Ingredients:
3 pounds peeled, seeded, and chopped zucchini (about 8 cups)
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar (I use evaporated cane juice crystals)
1 tsp. gorund cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Crust Ingredients:
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine zucchini and lemon juice in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Stire in sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; simmer 1 minute longer.  REmove from heat.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Oil a 9X13-in. baking pan. Combine flour and sugar in a bown; cut in buttter with pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir 1/2 cup of the crust mixture into zucchini mixture. Press half of the remaining crust mixture into pan. Spread zucchini mixture over it, then crumble remaining crust mixture over zucchini. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake until golden and bubbly, 35-40 minutes.  Makes 12 or more servings.

Both of these recipes are from a neat book I bought a couple years ago from my CSA farmer titled,
"From Asparagus to Zucchini - A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce."



It's been yet another insanely busy week at our home, and I am really ready to have the work of cleaning the mess/dust from the window replacement over with, but I've only gotten to little bits at a time, so the job still looms large.  The other day I was reminded of FlyLady's advice to break the overwhelming "big picture" up into chunks of 15 minutes at a time.  Such a simple thing, but I'd forgotten it and allowed myself to be overwhelmed.  Tsk, tsk.

So, for the last 3 days, I decided to just ignore the mess and enjoy the 4 clean rooms that I have!  Right away we'd done our bedroom/bathroom, and the boys did their room and their bathroom, and I did my kitchen countertops/appliances.  It was good to just leave the dust alone and focus on everything else that we had to do (more in my Weekly Wrapup with CanadaGirl on Saturday). 

This morning I get to enjoy a lovely bridal shower with dear friends, and then it's home to clean some more.  I think I can stand it better now!  For 15 minutes at a time, anyway...

Have a great Friday!


Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

August 18, 2010

Changes, They Are a-Here!!!

Welcome to the remodeled "Plans4You!"  Many, many thanks to Tamara at Branch of Wisdom for this lovely bloggy-makeover! Wow...what a blessing.  Let me tell y'all, that lady has the patience of a saint (I think I was a pain in the neck, but she put up with me anyway).

There are some things that are still in progress (friends list has to be input all over again, but Tamara warned me to copy all the coding in the sidebars, so I have everyone, just don't have time tonight to do the work; and my avatar seems to be missing up to, so we have to find me and get me back; and I am changing around some buttons, but that'll take a day or so to figure out.

Now, my question for you:
Is the grey print too light and therefore too difficult to read?  Maybe it's my 50 year old eyes, but I think a shade darker might be better...what do y'all think?
AND...
Does the background distract too much?  For some I wonder if the flowers are spinning and moving about...(meaning it's just too busy).  Let me know what you think, I am interested!

More busy, busy days on tap for us, there's stuff going on each day until Sunday, and then Monday morning school (and college) starts for the boys.  I hope to be back more in bloggyland once that starts up and I have a few hours to myself while they're in classes.

Thanks for stopping by, God Bless!

Changes, They Are a-Comin'!!!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I am getting excited...a change is on the horizon, and I can see it! Yaaayyyyyy...........

Blessings,
Lori

August 13, 2010

Friday FarmGirls@Heart ~ Home Remodeling!

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar!  You can grab code HERE.

Oooooh, it's a MESS here!  It's a home remodeling week at IllinoisLori's place (new windows going in the entire house, and NO, we're not doing it ourselves!), so there's not much time for blogging. 
But please let us all enjoy your Friday FarmGirls at Heart posts! 

FarmGirl Blessings,
IllinoisLori

Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

August 12, 2010

Mexican Vacation Highlights (Part 2)

As many of you know, we took a dreamy trip to the Mexican village of Zihuatanejo in early June.  Part 1 of my "Mexico Trip Highlights" focused on our beautiful accomodations (click HERE to view part 1).  In this post, I'd like to share more about the village and the beauty that God has created there.

The Land
We were so blessed to be able to take this trip!  I cannot say this enough.  It really was a time of refreshment and wonder at the power and majesty of God in His marvelous creation.  (Remember, I live in suburban Chicago...being 30 miles from Chicago itself, we don't even see Lake Michigan except on special trips into the city, which don't happen that often).

Before I start, I want to just say something about our feelings of being "safe" while in Mexico, given all the recent news reports of the drug violence.  One of our guides told us that tourism in their area was down 80% thanks to the American TV news.  I believe it.  This has put a lot of people there and their jobs at risk.  Here in Chicago, we have a horrible gang problem, with murders almost daily, all related to drugs (which is the chief business of gangs).  Should visitors to the US cancel their trip to Disneyworld, or even the Lincoln-sites here in Springfield, IL, because there are drug-related gang murders in Chicago?  That's what is happening in Mexico.  Would we have driven from, say, Texas, across the border into Mexico and then on through to Zihautanejo?  Of course not.  It is in the border areas and surrounds that the violence is concentrated (again, thanks to OUR country's demand for drugs).  So if you're thinking about a trip in to Mexico, turn off your TV, search the internet for where the heavy drug violence is happening, then do your homework and learn about Mexican geography!  And enjoy your trip to this wonderful country!  Did we feel safe?  Yes. 100% yes. Did we wander around on our own after dark?  No.  I wouldn't do that in my own neighborhood much of the time, and it is safe here.  OK, back to our vacation... 

Like the USA, Mexico as a country is made up of individual states.  Zihuatanejo is a small fishing village in the Mexican State of Guerrero, located on the Pacific Coast. 


Actually, there is an inlet from the Pacific Ocean which forms Zihuatanejo Bay, where Zihua sits, so it is more "protected" and creates that marvelous sport fishing (see center region of map, with yellow highlighting). Our resort was located on "Playa La Ropa" (which means "Clothes Beach," named for a Colonial era merchant ship which sank in the Bay, whose cargo of silks, fabrics, and clothes from Bombay washed up on the beach).



Zihua is formed by the Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and extends inland into the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountain Range. 



During our stay, we spent a lot of time on our own beach (Playa La Ropa), toured "El Centro" (downtown Zihua), took a boat-taxi from El Centro to Playa los Gatas (which means, "Cats Beach," named after the cat shark that once lived in its waters; this beach is only accessible by boat, and offers the areas best snorkeling, though we found it unimpressive when compared to the coral reefs in the Caribbean...I know, we are incredibly spoiled, aren't we??!), and also visited the unbelievably cool Barra de Potosi area (birthplace of Pacific hurricanes, actually called "typhoons") for a meal and meeting with some local farmers and craftspeople (more on that in the next post). 
Dots represent locations where hurricanes begin their development.
Photo Courtesy of Physical Geography.net: http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7u.html

While we were visiting this restaurant for a late lunch,

we remarked to our guide and our waiter how much we were enjoying the unusually cloudy day, strong winds, and resultant lower heat and humidity for 2 o'clock in the afternoon!  That's when he told us that a tropical depression was being birthed.  "It's always like that when they are born...lots of clouds and wind, but no rain."  Fascinating...and very comfy!  (Notice the roof's palm-frond strands blowing):

Obviously, this region is classed as "tropical." We saw and tasted many neat things, some familiar and others new.  Among them were:
Mango (in hand) and Guanabana (aka "Soursop")

Tamarind

Sesame Seeds

Coconuts

I love coconuts! The coconut water is so delicious, and packed with electrolytes and nutrients.  So good when you are very hot, tired, and thirsty!

My next post (part 3) will cover some of our eplorations of Zihuatanejo's people and culture, and part 4 will be about one of our favorite parts of the trip...the delicious food!

Thank you for visiting today, I look forward to hearing from you!
Blessings,
Lori

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