Chirped by Tina and Cass
Another month, a new season… and our latest list of places, projects, pups and pleasures that pumped us up!
Our book selection this month is The Rent Collector, by Cameron Wright. The story takes place in a community that lives in (and scrapes a living from) the refuse of a Cambodian waste dump. It describes the unexpected relationship that unfolds between an uneducated young mother and the dreaded woman known as the “rent collector”. The novel itself is heartwarming and inspiring, but the larger historical backdrop was also riveting. Many of the characters are loosely based on real people that the author’s son met while filming a documentary about life in this municipal waste dump. We also learned horrifying details about the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in Cambodia. It’s something of a perfect trifecta when a book combines vivid world-building, great character development, and enough historical fact to make it educational as well as enjoyable! Two thumbs up!
Favorite Local Restaurant
With the chicks back at college, we’ve been rediscovering all the empty nesting habits we’d set aside for the summer. When it comes to meals, that means extremely light fare most weeknights, with the occasional date night or dinner out with friends thrown in on the weekends. One restaurant we really enjoyed in September was Northbound, in Souderton, PA.
Our Saturday night visit featured an outdoor table next to the tracks – and a brief visit from the historic New Hope and Ivyland train! It only idled next to us for about five minutes before reversing direction to head home. We thought it actually added to the ambiance of this re-purposed train station bar and restaurant. Due to some strange liquor license laws in Pennsylvania, Northbound is only able to serve locally brewed, bottled and distilled spirits. Don’t let that scare you away though. They make a nice Cosmopolitan, and the Karamoor Sauvignon Blanc is quite good! Cass is a fan of the Northbound Red Blend, and her husband enjoys the beer selection. The menu also incorporates the bounty from local farms into as many dishes as they can. (My Big Eye Tuna Tartare with mango and avocado was probably not one of them, but it was certainly delicious and a feast for the eyes!) Northbound doesn’t take reservations, but on a nice evening you can get a drink at the bar and sit outside until your table is ready – which is almost as good. (-; My hubbie and I like to pair dinner at Northbound with a show at the Montgomery Theater down the street. The Outgoing Tide is playing through October 6th – fantastic acting, but bring the tissues!
Kayaking in the Fall
With temperatures finally dropping a bit, September was a great time to get out in our kayaks. Cass and a friend enjoyed an afternoon paddle on a favorite lake in Bucks County. Tina and her hubby set out for an early morning meander in the Poconos. Cool air, quiet water, flocking geese, peace and serenity…
Weed Control Victories… and Setbacks
Those of you following our brand new Instagram feed (#TwoFlewOverTheEmptyNest) have been privy to my experiments with newspaper mulching in my overgrown flower beds. In an effort to steer clear of toxic weed-killers, I’ve been trying an old trick of my mom’s. After pulling the latest weeds from a section of garden, I rake back the old mulch and then put down a layer of newspapers. Then I hose the papers down, so they don’t blow away and they form to the terrain a bit. Next I pile on two or three inches of a combination of old and new mulch (the old never stretches as far it originally covered). Then I wait to see what happens!
This method of weed suppression has been much more effective than weeding alone. My first small section is still completely weed-free after a month and a half. My expanded efforts in a different bed have taught me not to scrimp on the newspaper. Three layers is not nearly enough for thistles – several hardy specimens broke through in less than a month. Now I shoot for six to eight layers and plenty of overlap. I’ve also found that sloped beds are tricky – a good rainstorm can wash chunks of mulch right off the paper. Occasionally some critter decides to dig up a little paper overnight, too. It’s an ongoing learning experience! I started this whole endeavor in mid-August, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up over the winter and into next spring. Keep an eye on our Instagram page for in-the-moment updates… but I think it’s going to be worth the extra effort! #TwoFlewReNesting
Yard Sale as Clutter Control
Unfortunately weeds aren’t the only things in our lives in need of controlling. If you’ve been with us since we started this blog, you may remember that I (Tina) am what I call a “high-functioning hoarder”. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easier to be high-functioning when you have more space to work with. If I were living in a small apartment I’d be full-blown, no question! Lucky for me, I can contain most of my clutter in the unfinished side of the basement, my craft room, and the garage. I’m working on all those spaces, and a neighborhood yard sale was just what I needed to get the de-cluttering ball rolling! Even Cass, the Felix to my Oscar, needs a yard sale once in a while to clear things out. Happy to report that (almost) everything on the tarp in this photo has left the premises! Either bought at the yard sale, donated to the local thrift store, handed off through Freecycle, or sold on Facebook Marketplace. A few are marked for an upcoming electronics recycling event. I’ve got some room to breathe again! Ahhhhh…!
Craft Room Update
Remember last year’s post about reclaiming my craft room? (Check out “The Feather Hoarder”…) The yard sale really jump-started my enthusiasm for that project again! Nothing like clearing four boxes of old magazines from your closet to make you realize all the things that could go in there to replace them. c(-; I’m not proud of my hoarding tendencies, but I know there are lots of people out there with the same problem, who may be inspired by my progress. So here it is, my latest “before” and “after”, the yard sale being the catalyst for this major leap forward. Still have a looonnnng way to go, but my craft buddies and I can start working in there again!
Bird House Basin Bling
A friend has a water detention basin located in her side yard. It doesn’t do a lot for the curb appeal of her house, so we’re working on a plan to give it a little extra pizzazz – without violating any zoning rules. The basin is already a haven for cattails, and with cattails come red-wing blackbirds. What other birds could we attract to the yard? The plan: to paint and install some pretty birdhouses and create a relaxing outdoor seating area to take advantage of the bird-watching possibilities. As an added bonus, I’m going to finally find a home for the birdhouses my kids made in Cub Scouts! (I mentioned being a hoarder, right…??) Keep an eye on the birdhouse progress via our Instagram feed! #TwoFlewOverTheEmptyNest, #EggshellsAndFeathers
Dog Grooming Adventures
The Blog Dog may not shed, but he’s still high maintenance from a grooming perspective. You wouldn’t believe the mats if you don’t stay on top of brushing! Add to that the back strain of bathing him in a regular bathtub – with no built in spray attachment. But sometimes solutions pop up from unexpected places, like your aunt’s house! Turns out there are shower heads that double as spray attachments. Who knew? Even I can replace a shower head – just need the new head, a wrench, some plumbing tape, and a strong hubbie (if the old fixture doesn’t want to screw off). Having the right tools makes a big difference, so bath-time is a little more comfortable now, and it’s easier to rinse out the conditioner.
The post-bath brush-out also benefits from special tools. A raised table with screw-on hairdryer attachment arm lets you sit comfortably and focus the heat and airflow right on the offending mats. That allows you two hands to tease them out. I’m getting better at this, but it still takes close to three hours, start to finish. But doesn’t he looks great? c(-;
Meanwhile, Cass just throws both dogs in the shower, soaps them up with de-shedding shampoo, and lets them air-dry in the backyard. Done in five minutes. But she has to vacuum at least twice a week and she sends her kids baggies of dog hair to remind them of home! Lol. Pros and cons both ways. Good thing we love our fluffy nest-fillers!
Alien Warfare and Distant Downpours
Summer’s not letting go without a fight, and when Mother Nature decides to let her hair down, it always makes for a good show! Check out the approaching storm Cass captured on a recent trip out west, and the alien warfare going on inside a cloud bank near my house!
Of course it’s not all floodwaters and fury in the skies this time of year. We’ve enjoyed plenty of fire, too – of the fabulous variety…
>Sigh< There’s just something about a sunset over the water that makes you breathe deeper and relax… Or maybe it’s the wine that usually accompanies the sunset…?? (-;
Whatever form your own “cheep trills” take, may they brighten your nest like autumn leaves on the lawn!
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Thanks for reading!
Wow – loved the before and after photos of your craft room Tina-
Thanks! There’s hope for me yet!!