Starting outside Dublin, we visited Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, medieval Kilkenny, Viking-established Waterford and it’s crystal factory, and a recreation of the Dunbody potato famine ship.
Next, we headed west, taking a scenic route along the southern Irish coast in County Cork. Our first stop was the seaport town, Cobh, and the Irish Heritage Centre. Later, we ate a picnic lunch and spent the afternoon at Blarney Castle and it’s extensive gardens and grounds. Afterwards, we headed into County Kerry, spending the next two nights in popular Killarney.
My favorite day of the entire 12-day Ireland trip was spent exploring the spectacular Dingle Peninsula. Another reason it was so much fun? Along the way, we stopped for a misty view of the Gap of Dunloe, went shopping for quality Irish-made goods, drank a Bailey’s Coffee at the famous South Pole Inn, and dined at an authentic, family-owned pub for a traditional meal.
Although the scenery and experiences were impossible to truly capture in pictures, I hope you’ll enjoy coming along on this virtual Ireland trip.
For Labor Day weekend, I planned brunch for two, with a peacock table setting on the covered porch. The “goodbye to summer, hello fall” table is one of 20 included in this year’s Welcome Fall Tablescape Hop.
I always find this the most challenging to style, since it’s still so darn hot here in Pittsburgh! This year was no exception, as the 89 degree temperatures had me perspiring as I set and photographed the alfresco peacock table.
Because of the heat, I’m especially loath to head to the attic to retrieve fall decor items stored there. It’s also difficult to get in the mood to change up tableware and linens. Usually, I wait until the end of September. From Labor Day through then, I use non-seasonal, everyday and rooster theme dishware and decor.
So rather than acquire something new, I pulled peacock motif dishes from the kitchen cabinets — ones I haven’t shared here before. Although used pretty much year-round, the color palette works particularly well for a fall season setting. I hope you’ll agree! Styling a peacock table also provided the opportunity to use a new napkin fold I’ve been wanting to try.
I’ve been on a blogging hiatus while dear hubby and I enjoyed an Ireland vacation. Due to the pandemic, third time was a charm in terms of scheduling! Although air travel was a nightmare, with cancelled and delayed domestic flights resulting in us missing the first day of our organized Irish tour.
But we sure were lucky in the weather! Not only didn’t it rain, but most of the time we experienced beautiful blue skies with lots of sunshine. It wasn’t until our very last day in Dublin, that we used umbrellas and rain jackets. Our good fortune, however, may have been another consequence of global warming.
Based on a recommendation from dear friends, we booked a guided tour through CIE. Founded in Ireland, the company has 90 years experience and is the largest travel operator in Ireland and Scotland. Several years ago, our friends had taken a different itinerary.
We chose the 10-day Irish Legends tour, which covered a smaller, more concentrated southern half of the island. After the organized trip, we added two more nights in Dublin to explore on our own. Let’s begin with an overview of our Ireland vacation itinerary. Then I’ll share pictures and descriptions from the first three days; visiting National Stud, Kilkenny, Waterford and New Ross. See why Ireland exceeded our already high expectations!
Today, I’m taking you to urban Philadelphia, to see my youngest son’s back deck and rooftop garden. D purchased the 1920 rowhouse nearly two years ago, during the pandemic.
Prior to the move, he rented a third-floor, walkup in an 1800’s building that had been converted from a carriage house and stable to condos. During the pandemic, his one-bedroom unit did double duty as an office. And, there was no balcony for fresh air or to grow plants. Feeling confined to the apartment, he went on a search for a home with more living areas, room for a dedicated office, big kitchen, outdoor space, and the ability to have a dog.
However, D also loved the walkable and vibrant Fairmont District neighborhood. So when he finally spotted the listing for a 100-year-old rowhouse — just blocks from the carriage house — he jumped at the opportunity to be a homeowner!
Over the next year, D created a little backyard oasis and rooftop deck on the third floor of the rowhouse. In both areas, he enjoys spending time outdoors, playing with the dog, tending plants, barbequing, and entertaining family and friends. An accomplished cook, D also created an urban rooftop garden where he grows herbs and vegetables to incorporate into fresh, healthy meals.
Taking you up on the roof to see my son’s’ urban garden on the wraparound terrace of his Manhattan penthouse in New York City.
I had planned to share this last year, but the summer got away from me! For happy reasons. First, I was training Whiskey, my Energetic & Playful Scottie Puppy. And, instead of sitting inside at the computer editing photos and composing posts, hubby and I were enthusiastically out and about.
We spent late May and early June visiting family and friends in Philadelphia. That included a Memorial Day gathering where we experienced how Using a Smoker Grill Enhances BBQ. Mom came back to Pittsburgh with us for the rest of month. Then, over an extended July 4th holiday visit with our sons , we enjoyed a baseball game, amusement park, dining out, and fireworks.
Come August, we headed to Washington D.C. There we went to an old-fashioned county fair, the Warf Marina, and an ABBA tribute concert at Wolf Trap National Park. Finally on Labor Day, we flew to California, exploring Sequoia National Park,Kings Canyon, and Yosemite.
Now with a broken finger and after prolonged period of Covid isolation, I’ve found the time to show off my eldest’s vegetable and herb urban garden. Come up on the rooftop for a bird’s eye view!
Stuck at home, after mom and I came home from Philadelphia with mild cases of COVID, we set a summer lemon table for a nice outdoor brunch before she flew back to Charleston.
Instead of being out and about, visiting with friends and family during mom’s visit to Pittsburgh, we spent the ten days isolating at home. Since breaking my right-hand, ring finger, I’m also contending with the awkwardness and restrictions of wearing a splint for six long weeks.
After all being fully vaccinated and double boosted, this was not how we planned spending our summer visit. COVID continues to mutate and spread. Life = lemons, sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that the vaccines and five-day course of therapeutic pills protected us from severe illness or worse. I experienced feeling like I had a severe cold. But, I was nervous about my elderly mom, and felt badly that she caught the virus while on “my watch.”
My finger, well that is indeed frustrating! Accidently broken by Mr. Buzz during a new card game with friends, I have another month wearing a splint And, of course it had to be my right hand — geez! Usually when I need a mood lifter I craft, but that’s not an option presently. Instead, mom helped me to set a sunny yellow lemon table, with tableware and linens already in the house. I even managed a new napkin fold!
Returning today to our September 2021 California vacation and visit to breath-taking Kings Canyon. It was the second of a trio of national parks we explored — beginning in Sequoia: Land of Giants and ending in a three-day Yosemite Vacation.
Did you know that Kings Canyon is the deepest canyon in the US? It’s gorge reaches up to 8,200 feet; thousands of feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona!
A scenic road cuts through the park ‘s wide canyon, and along the Kings Rivers. In addition to its famous grove of sequoias, there are forests of pine, fir, and cedar, a rocky river valley, waterfalls, lakes, a marble cavern, and expansive meadow. So much of nature’s wonders to see and experience!
Apparently the most common way to “see” Kings Canyon is to simply drive though on Generals Highway —with a stop and short hike at Grant Grove Village. But then, you’d miss the spectacular vistas and deep river valley along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway!
Instead, hubby and I dedicated an entire day and overnight to Kings Canyon National Park. That allowed us time for the amazing roundtrip drive into the canyon itself, with time to explore the richness of the deep river valley.
While vacationing in California last September, we spent two days and nights exploring neighboring Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Depending on how you look at it, we were either very fortunate (my view) or unlucky in the timing of our visit.
Much of the state was experiencing drought conditions. That was quite evident during our days wine-tasting in dry and hot Paso Robles. All the ranch and grazing land looked brown and parched. On September 9, 2021, there were severe thunderstorms. More than 200 lightening strikes occurred within the two neighboring parks! Fires were discovered the following day — as we arrived in Sequoia National Park.
We had left Paso Robles early, for the three-hour plus drive to Sequoia. Fortunately, our day and overnight at the park lodge proceeded mostly as planned. But, by the time we left for Kings Canyon, the fires had exploded –closing the park entrance, lodge and highway behind us!
By December 2021, Sequoia and Kings Canyon were devastated by the KNP Complex and Windy fires. As many as 2,380 giant sequoias burned to death, or are expected to die within several years! Mr. Buzz and I are heartbroken by the destruction of those majestic trees.
But, I also feel blessed to have been among the last people to have seen the sequoias, redwoods and parks before the fires. Let me share them with you.
Last September, Mr. Buzz and I spent half of our California vacation exploring the bountiful natural wonders of three National Parks, including Yosemite.
After deciding it was too early to reschedule our pandemic-cancelled June 2020 Ireland trip, hubby suggested California. That March 2021, he had snagged two nights in September at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, the crown jewel of national park lodges. We built our entire vacation around those nights. First, we worked backwards, booking other park lodging in Kings Canyon and Sequoia.
Due to the continued uncertainty of pandemic conditions in 2021, we only booked the lodges and other accommodations that were fully cancellable. Several months later — and fully vaccinated —we felt confident enough to book direct flights. Then hubby filled in the rest of our stays at B&B’s and hotels in Monterey, Big Sur, Paso Robes and San Francisco.
It was wonderful to be outdoors, without a mask, enjoying all the mountain fresh air! After having the park closures of Sequoia and Kings Canyon right on our heels, we were relieved to arrive safely in Yosemite with the scent of smoke and fires behind us.
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Hi! I'm Debbee, a maker of all manner of things, who likes to incorporate themes into craft projects, holiday and seasonal decor, table settings, and parties. My friends call me, the Queen of Theme lol!
Home is the suburbs of Pittsburgh, but I also enjoy exploring the world with my husband. We raised two wonderful sons and are now early retirees.
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Meet Glenfiddich "Whiskey," a brindle coat Scottie and full of vim and vigor!