My Corner Of The World

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Spring is finally showing itself in New Hampshire.

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For some reason, it feels like this has been the longest winter on record. Thankfully, New Hampshire gets a fair amount of sunshine all winter long. Just when you think you can’t stand another snowflake, the sun peeks out and blue skies are visible enabling you to endure just one more crazy New England storm.

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Today we’re promised sunny skies and 60 degrees. I’ll be sure to take a break and soak up some of that sun.

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We’ve been very busy packing, getting things ready, and trying to prepare for a future that still has quite a few unanswered questions. I like to be in the know, have a plan, have all the details locked up tight. If you need something organized, I’m your gal! You know, typical Type A. This is turning out to be a very big lesson in faith, patience, and letting go.  Add the ups and downs of crazed menopause hormones to that, and well…life can sometimes feel like a three-ring circus.

To de-stress, we’ve been squeezing in some beach time with the dogs before the leash laws begin, watching movies in the evening together, reading, taking walks, and trying to keep our minds occupied on anything other than the “what, how, when” scenarios us humans are so fond of torturing ourselves with.

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I also love to take breaks throughout the day and see who’s visiting in the backyard.

I’ve been trying to get a photo of our female Cardinal for a year. She must be feeling brave!

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They’re very skittish. She usually chooses to eat at the back of the feeder and peeks around at me. And if I move even a fraction of an inch, she makes a quick escape.

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 We will certainly miss the quiet of the country and all of our furry and feathered friends. And the lightning bugs! I’m so happy I was finally able to see them. There are certain things we won’t miss though. The summer humidity brings a lot of bugs. And I mean a lot. Like the jungle. Mosquitoes, black flies, spiders, and all kinds of flying things I didn’t even know were in existence prior to moving to New Hampshire.

And then the ticks. Unbelievable quantities.

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Speaking of ticks, a few days ago I went to the doctor and had more blood drawn for an extensive Lyme Disease test. I won’t be satisfied until someone can prove to me that the two waves of antibiotics worked and we caught it fast enough. Then, there’s the unsettling worry that I’ve had it for quite some time, and this was just a flare up.  This particular test is supposed to be the absolute gold standard test amongst Lyme Disease Professionals. It needs to be taken when symptomatic, which I am. They will grow it for 8 weeks. If it’s negative at 8 weeks, they will grow it for another 8 weeks.  As we’ve talked about in my Lyme Disease series, the bacteria has the ability to cloak itself, so we have to be patient and make sure we’ve given them every chance to come out of hiding. A negative after 16 weeks should be good news.

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The DNA test was negative, which you would think would be a good thing, but there’s a yes and no to that answer. The Lyme bacteria do not like to stay in the blood. Not long after you’re infected it moves from the blood and settles into muscle tissue, joints, and the nervous system. So if you get a positive on the DNA test, then it’s definitive. You definitely still have the Lyme Disease bacteria in your body. If it’s negative, all that means is maybe  you don’t have the Lyme bacteria or it may mean that you didn’t catch it quickly enough and it’s moved out of the blood stream.

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It’s important to keep track of symptoms because many people think the infection is gone, when in fact, it’s just dormant. Unfortunately, many of my symptoms have returned along with an ugly dose of some type of arthritis after a hiatus from the antibiotics . The doctor thinks I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, but the tests are coming up negative. However, 1/3 of people who have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis test negative. It’ can feel like a never ending guessing game. There’s also Lyme Arthritis. And then, studies show that you can  have Lyme symptoms off and on 6 months to 1 year after treatment . So even the symptoms aren’t definitive! Lyme Disease diagnosis and treatment can be very confusing and frustrating.

So for now, we wait.

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We visited our favorite Sugar House last weekend. Once you’ve had pure New Hampshire Maple Syrup…there’s no going back to that Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin Syrup. So we stocked up. Ten jugs of Grade A Medium maple syrup for pancakes and waffles, and 3 bottles of Grade A Dark for baking.

You can go here to see our first visit to a local Sugar House last spring. It was so much fun!

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I hope the beginning of spring is treating you well! Forgive me for being so behind on all of my blog visits. Don’t give up on me, I’m counting on the fact that life will slow down, if even just a bit, over the next few weeks.

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There’s a Mourning Dove nestled in there. I wondered why he chose to take a nap out in the rain.

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So much for the “squirrel proof” feeder.

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The Red Tail Squirrels are very creative. The Gray Squirrels are curious and act like they’d like to come into the house for a look-see.

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They also like to tease the dogs. And although the dogs have never caught one, it doesn’t stop them from plotting.

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Well, it’s getting to be that time when the house starts to stir and things begin to get busy. Until next time, have a lovely rest of your week and a relaxing weekend!

This Crazy Thing Called Life

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I have big news.

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We’re moving back to the west coast.

Those of you who are new to the blog may not realize, we moved clear across the country from Washington state to New Hampshire 16 months ago. It was a huge move. A major life decision that we did not take lightly, and an amazing adventure.

Sometimes life pushes you in a direction that really makes you look at things. Makes you ask all the hard questions. In fact, the last three years actually have come with a lot of change. Relationships reshaped and redefined, lessons learned, new paths taken, new adventures explored, and our fair share of stress and challenges.

When we left Washington my husband’s travel schedule was supposed to be much, much, lighter. And it was for the first couple of months we were here. But then it grew and grew and pretty soon, we were only seeing each other 8 days a month if we were lucky. And then those 8 days a month were spent getting things done that I can’t do by myself, rushing to spend time together, and trying to squeeze in quick sight-seeing days. Everything here is new to us, so we had hoped to soak in as much as possible.

But time is a peculiar thing and there’s never enough of it.

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Finally, we realized that although we love so many things about New England, our new home, and our town…some major pieces of our life puzzle are missing. Like quality time spent with each other and neither one of us are happy living 2,700 miles away from our only child. We had to ask ourselves some tough questions, the main one being, “What is the goal? Is this massive job stress and being away from each other and our son worth it? What happened to that work/life balance that we have always fought for?”

The bottom line and conclusion that we came to was this:

Life is short; how do we want to spend our remaining time?

In order to be truly happy, you have to try your hardest to make sure that all the pieces of your life puzzle fit properly. When we sat down and discussed all of the things we love about New England (what’s not to love?) and then the things we were feeling uneasy about, the missing pieces were big puzzle pieces. Not simple little things we all think about like, “I wish we had a hot tub that overlooked the ocean” or “I wish we had a fireplace in our bedroom”.

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I’m talking about big things like, “life is too short to only see your spouse less than 8 days a month and your kid 3 times a year”. Because unfortunately, as we all know, people get sick, hurt, life changes quickly. One minute you’re wishing you had more time to spend with the people you love, and the next minute something happens and that option is taken off the table. If you have the ability to spend more quality time with the people you truly love, you should do it.

So, we had several hard discussions. We looked at every option and tossed around every idea we could think of. We discussed what worried us, our needs, and what was missing from this seemingly fantastic life in New England. And we made some tough decisions. No matter how much you love the area you live in, the comfortable paycheck, the gorgeous house, when the major things that are important to you are out of balance, it only takes a short time to realize absolutely nothing can make up for those things.

We’re downsizing. My husband is looking for a new job with less travel and less stress, the house is sold (thank you God!), the moving company comes at the end of April, and we’re heading back west to be closer to our son and families.

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Where in the west we’re not sure. We don’t know where our permanent home will be just yet. There’s still lots of unanswered questions and things to consider and think about. And if you’re not careful you can just think everything absolutely to death. (I’m a pro at that.)

For now, we’ve done the most important part. Taken action and steps in the right direction.

We’ve made the tough decisions.  And I must say, although making another major life change in less than 2 years is extremely and shockingly stressful, I’m SO thankful that we had the cojones to face the tough decisions. 

We’ve learned a little something in our last 26 years together. We’ve worked hard to be a team. And we’re incredibly thankful that together, we have enough courage to say, “stop” and then take the difficult leap into the unknown to have a more fulfilling life.

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Isn’t it interesting, that sometimes the toughest choices are just simply about making the conscious decision to live with less so you can experience more.

So, strap in tight, we’re headed on another adventure!

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Be Aware of Lyme Disease ~ Part III

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This is the third installment of my series, “Be Aware of Lyme Disease”. In Part I we learned about what Lyme Disease is and its many symptoms, including mine.

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In Part II we discussed testing for Lyme Disease and the differences between the CDC, Lyme Literate doctors, and non-literate physicians.

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Part III is a gathering of all the research I’ve done on Lyme Disease, diagnosis, treatment, etc. There’s conventional information as well as natural treatments and non-conventional ideas, information, and discoveries. I’ve tried to categorize them as much as possible…it’s an overwhelming list of information, I know.

My goal is to save you a bit of research time if you need, or someone you know needs to educate themselves on Lyme Disease and all that goes with that very unsettling diagnosis. Don’t just rely on your family physician and the CDC to make testing and treatment decisions for you. The treatments and thought process behind this bacterial infection vary greatly and finding the right doctor will make all the difference for you.

I finished my second wave of antibiotics on February 1st. Many of the symptoms returned 30 days later but with less severtity…ringing in the ears, joint pain, tingling in the hands and feet. Right now I’m waiting to receive the DNA test results. If their positive, then it means the Lyme bacteria is not gone, if they’re negative, well, that’ a hard one. The bacteria only like to stay in the blood for a short time. Then, they leave and rest in the nervous system, muscles, and bones. So if you’re lucky enough to catch it while it’s in the blood then the test is a 100% positive. If it comes back negative and you still have symptoms, further testing will need to be done. I’ll keep you posted!

What Is It, What Are The Symptoms 

http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/could-you-have-lyme-disease-lyme-disease-causes-lyme-disease-symptoms/~ Could You Have Lyme Disease?

http://www.lymeresearchalliance.org/signs-symptom-list.html ~ Signs & Symptoms

http://www.ilads.org/lyme_research/lyme_articles6.html ~ More Research

http://www.tickencounter.org/tick_identification ~ Tick Identification

http://textbookofbacteriology.net/Lyme.html ~ The Lyme Disease Bacteria

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/08/an-update-from-the-frontline-of-the-lyme-wars.html ~ New Numbers on Lyme Disease

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/07/25/lyme-disease-part-two.aspx ~ The Unknown Epidemic

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/stages-of-lyme-disease-topic-overview ~ Stages of Lyme Disease

http://www.egodevelopment.com/5-important-neurological-complications-of-lyme-disease-to-be-aware-of/ ~ Neurological Complications

http://www.lymeneteurope.org/info/the-complexities-of-lyme-disease ~ The Complexities of Lyme Disease

http://www.lyme-aware.org/blogs/my-blog/1039-lyme-disease-great-imitator-of-over-300-conditions.html ~ The Great Imitator

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/ ~ CDC Lyme Disease Transmission

http://www.igenex.com/psychological_effects.htm~ Psychological Effects of Lyme Disease

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8tESJVvM88~  Dr. Alan MacDonald,The Biology of Lyme Disease Part 1 – video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RATCS-3v9Q~  Dr. Alan MacDonald, Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEjNMlNM3l8~ Dr. Alan MacDonald, Part 3

Lyme Disease Tests, They’re Not Created Equal

http://www.lymeinducedautism.com/images/LIATesting_handout_FINAL.pdf ~ A Complete Guide To Testing

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080219102415.htm ~ The Lyme Invisibility Cloak

http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2011/04/27/how-some-bacteria-hide-from-antibiotics ~ How Lyme Hides

http://www.anapsid.org/lyme/wb.html ~ Western Blot Test

http://lymediseaseguide.org/elisa-test-lyme ~ ELISA Test

http://www.dnalymetest.com/ ~ A New Affordable Lyme Disease DNA Test

http://www.anapsid.org/lyme/lymeseroneg.html ~ Reasons For False Negative Test Results

http://www.advanced-lab.com/~ Advanced Laboratory Services

http://www.igenex.com/Website/# ~ IGeneX

http://lymedisease.org/lyme101/coinfections/coinfection.html ~ Lyme Disease Co-Infection List

http://lymeproject.com/lyme_news/have-you-been-tested-for-lyme-disease-co-infections/~ Have You Been Tested For Co-Infections?

Treatment

http://mylymediseasetreatment.com/lyme-disease-general/how-to-find-a-lyme-literate-doctor-llmd-in-your-area/~ How To Find A Lyme Literate Doctor

http://tbdalliance.org/diagnosing-tbds/find-a-medical-professional~ Find A Medical Professional

 http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/index.php/doctors ~ Lyme Literate Doctor Referral System

http://www.treatlyme.net/ ~Step By Step Treatment Plan by Two LL Docs

http://www.ilads.org/lyme_disease/B_guidelines_12_17_08.pdf~ Treatment Guidlines ILADS

http://www.wellsphere.com/lyme-disease-article/female-hormones-and-lyme/919069 ~ Lyme & Women’s Hormones

http://www.ilads.org/lyme_disease/treatment_guidelines_clearing_idsa.html~ IDSA Guidelines for Lyme Disease

http://lymediseaseguide.org/lyme-disease-treatment-symptoms-herxing~ Treatment Detox Symptoms/Herxing

Legislation, News, and Things To Think About

http://truth-out.org/news/item/21206-from-aids-to-lyme-will-we-let-history-repeat-itself ~ The Epidemic

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr611#overview ~ Research Act 2013

http://vtdigger.org/2013/05/12/lyme-disease-the-silent-epidemic-house-health-committee-sends-directive-to-department-of-health/ ~ The Silent Epidemic

http://cumberlink.com/news/health/health-officials-lyme-disease-an-epidemic-as-big-as-aids/article_77bead1e-0f7d-11e3-b9a3-0019bb2963f4.html ~ Aids and Lyme Disease

http://www.projectcensored.org/21-lyme-disease-an-emerging-epidemic/ ~ An Emerging Epidemic

http://ticktalklyme.wordpress.com/~ News & Views in The Battle Against Lyme Disease

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/health/Task-Force-Takes-Lyme-Disease-Fight-to-Loudoun-County-124824524.html ~ Raising Awareness

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2013/12/13/three-deaths-reported-from-heart-inflammation-caused-lyme-disease/tA55TpWGXEjFKqnev6bB8N/story.html ~ Deaths Tied To Lyme Disease

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/09/27/doctors-find-link-between-lyme-disease-autism/~ A Link Between Lyme Disease & Autism

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/113734.php~ The Connection Between Autism & Lyme Disease

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/chartstables/reportedcases_statelocality.html~ Lyme Disease Cases per 100,000 Population By State

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/index.html?utm_source=publish2&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=www.kpbs.org ~ CDC Statistics

 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/health/research/new-tick-borne-heartland-virus-has-scientists-puzzled.html?ref=denisegrady ~ A New Tick Virus Discovered

http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/heartland/~ CDC Heartland Virus

http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/~ Lyme Disease Association

Late Stage Lyme Disease

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/lyme/lyme.htm - Neurological Complications

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/when-lyme-disease-lasts-and-lasts/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1 ~ When Lyme Disease Lasts & Lasts

http://www.lyme-disease-testing.com/lyme_chronic.html ~ Late Stage Treatment

http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/lyme-disease/possible-complications.html~ Possible Complications of Late Stage Lyme Disease

 Personal Experience with Lyme Disease

http://southriversource.com/2013/06/23/blog-my-eight-year-mystery-illness-it-was-lyme-disease/ ~ The Eight Year Mystery Illness

http://www.crazylyme.com/p/my-lyme-journey.html ~ A Mom’s Struggle

http://lymediseaseresource.com/wordpress/about/ ~ All Kinds of Information

http://lymediseaseresource.com/wordpress/about/ ~ Personal Stories

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/29/health/lyme-disease-missed-symptoms/ ~ 2 Years of Hell

http://julieslymediseasefight.blogspot.com/2012/07/joint-pain-lyme-or-damage.html ~ The Fight Against Lyme Disease

http://www.citylifemagazine.ca/health/lyme-disease-tick-talk/5717 ~ A Very Complicated Illness

http://inthelymefight.blogspot.com/p/my-lyme-fight-round-1-diagnosis.html~ In The Lyme Fight

http://www.livingwithlymedisease.org/living-with-lyme-disease.html ~ Living With Lyme Disease

Foods, Natural Remedies, To Help with Lyme Symptoms

http://coconutoilrecipes.weebly.com/how-i-use-coconut-oil-for-lyme-disease.html ~ Coconut Oil

http://www.faithfulwellness.org/lyme/ ~ Essential Oil Protocol

http://coilingforlyme.com/2011/03/06/women-and-lyme-disease/~ Hormones & Coiling

http://beyondessential.com/lyme-disease-essential-oils/~ Lyme Disease & Essential Oils

http://www.cindeegardner.com/articles/9545617127/treating-lyme-disease-naturally ~ Treating Lyme Disease Naturally

https://vitalplan.com/late-stage-lyme-disease-treatment ~ Natural Help

http://fiveelementhealing.net/in-depth-healing-strategies-for-lyme-disease-new/~ Varying Types of Treatment

Everything In Its Place ~ My Corner Of The World

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Good morning!

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What did you have for breakfast? I’m always curious about what kinds of foods people start their days off with. I prefer dinner leftovers, but since I put the remainder of the lasagna I made in the freezer, I had to settle with oatmeal.

Oatmeal is not my favorite by any means. A favorite breakfast would consist of a slice of cherry pie, or a big slice of chocolate cake, or even leftover spaghetti and garlic bread. Now that’s a breakfast. I did have dried cherries in my oatmeal though. Not that dried cherries even come close to pretending I’m eating cherry pie for breakfast. I also added dates, pecans, almond milk, and a Tablespoon of coconut oil…in case you were wondering. My teacup has organic green tea and a nice sized dollop of Manuka honey.

Also, what do you do while eating breakfast? Read the paper, a book, watch the news, sit in silence, chat with your family, eat standing up and multi-task, or maybe you don’t eat breakfast at all? If Tony is out of town I usually read my book or check email, FB, and Pinterest. If he’s here, we chat with each other about current events, what he’s read in the local paper, life in general.

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Today is cleaning day, but I spent most of yesterday organizing some of our closets. This house has an abundance of closets and we seem to have filled all of them to the brim…and not in an organized fashion. I was so excited when we moved out of the other house because I felt like we really got rid of a lot of “stuff”.  So how could we possibly fill 8 closets to the brim?

There’s only two of us in this house. This is only 3 of 8 closets.

Here are several before pictures.

Now don’t judge.

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So I tackled them. One by one, went through everything and managed 3 bags for Goodwill and even had to throw away a few expired food items. We recently switched to all natural laundry supplies and cleaners, so I managed to get rid of a large bag of cleaners and an impressive amount of laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets to a young neighbor.

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By the way, that floor steamer/cleaner you see in there? LOVE it. Cannot say enough good things about it and it makes my life so much easier.  Works on tile, wood, and I believe it also works on Pergo. You can see it here. We found it on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond and saved $30. It is worth every penny. We have a lot of tile and wood floors and it has cut my cleaning time by over an hour!

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I found the idea for using these shoe holders as extra storage and organization on Pinterest. They do work well for that, but after having them clank around every time we open the closet doors, I’ve had enough. We’ll have to utilize them for other things.

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For a house with a gazillion closets…the coat closet is tiny. We had to install a second rod under the upper one to store the winter coats. There’s lot’s of “weather” in New Hampshire. The extra rod doesn’t do much for a tidy look though.

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And here are the after pictures.

Now, when I open each one of the doors, there’s no need for groaning and dreaded disorganization.

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In fact, several times last night, I went over and opened each closet door and peered in, just so I could actually experience the effects of “tidy environment, peaceful mind”.

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And I’m not going to lie.

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It felt good, really good. 

Even if it did take me all day and I didn’t make it out of my pajamas until I crawled into bed with a fresh pair.

Be Aware of Lyme Disease ~ Part I

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Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium called a “spirochete” and it is a bacteria and an illness that can wreak havoc in your life.

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photo courtesy of WebMD

In the United States, the actual name of the bacterium is Borrelia burgdorferi. In Europe, another bacterium, Borrelia afzelii, also causes Lyme disease. Certain ticks found on deer harbor the bacterium in their stomachs. Lyme disease is spread by these ticks when they bite the skin, which permits the bacterium to infect the body. Lyme disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else. Lyme disease can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. (medicinenet.com)

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photo courtesy of WebMD

A few posts ago I shared with you that I am being treated for Lyme disease. I have finished my first wave of antibiotics and am extremely happy to tell you that I am feeling SO much better. Many of my symptoms have disappeared and the symptoms that remain have decreased by about 85%. I had a visit with my Doc yesterday. I started another 21 day round of antibiotics this morning in hopes that we can tackle the remaining symptoms.

If you think Lyme Disease doesn’t concern you, think again. Lyme Disease is at epidemic proportions in the eastern United States and thousands of people are being diagnosed in every single state in the US.

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I had no idea Lyme Disease was a bacterial infection. I thought it was a virus. Did you know that the bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi, is hard to detect and kill because it has the ability to cloak itself and go dormant? This enables it to hide from diagnostic blood tests and antibiotic treatment.

Did you know that you could have Lyme Disease and not even know it? That it doesn’t always come with that bulls eye rash we all hear about?

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photo courtesy of Wikipedia 

Did you know that once the tick bites and feeds, then transmits the bacteria, it falls off? That means if it’s tiny and in your hair and stuck to your scalp or in a crease on your body, you may never even know it was there.

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photo courtesy of Fairfax County

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photo courtesy of Connecticut Audubon Society

Did you know that Lyme Disease mimics 300 diseases? Including MS, Alzheimer’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Epilepsy, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Influenza, Lupis, Migraines,and Parkinson’s…just to name a few….making it even more difficult to sort out the symptoms and be diagnosed? Did you know that scientists have found that the Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood that is stored for donation although there have not been any proven cases where someone has been infected by a blood transfusion?

Did you know that you can have been bitten years ago and continue to have “flare ups” that can be triggered by stress? Only to have them go away eventually because the bug has gone dormant again? Meaning that you can be infected and not be symptomatic in between flare ups. This makes it very difficult to diagnose and treat. Did you know that the bacteria multiplies? And that the longer you have the infection, the more dangerous and difficult it is to get rid of?

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photo courtesy of citylifemagazine.ca

Did you know that the bacteria attaches to the cell first, and then enters the cell? Once it attaches to the cell, it causes the cell to release a digestive enzyme that dissolves the cell and allows the bacteria to go from your bloodstream to wherever it pleases… like your brain, eyes, joints, skin, spleen, liver, GI tract, bladder, and other organs.

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photo courtesy of Julieslymediseasefight.blogspot.com

The most important piece to this is that I would have never even thought of asking my doctor about Lyme disease had I not been in contact with my husband’s cousin’s wife, Amanda who has Late Stage Lyme Disease. (ha, try to keep track of that family tree) When I became ill in October and the symptoms were mounting weekly, I had talked to her daily. She said, “April, you have almost ALL of my symptoms, you need to talk to your doctor and have them test you for Lyme disease!” Had she not shared her symptoms with me and urged me to talk to my doctor, I fear where my health would be today.

Lyme Disease can be debilitating and in rare cases, even deadly when left untreated.

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photo courtesy of lymepeople.com

So before I completely overload you with information, to end Part 1, I will simply share my symptoms with you as they started and as they progressed. It could possibly make all the difference in your health or the health of someone you know and love. Sharing and awareness is of utmost importance, as the symptoms are different for many people, and as I said above, mimic many other medical issues.

Week 1: Flu/vomiting

Week 2: Fluish symptoms remain/ woke with vertigo – Doctor prescribed Meclizine for dizziness, didn’t help.

Week 3: Symptoms remain, physical therapy for vertigo, didn’t help. Blood pressure extremely high. Added symptoms: feel dehydrated regardless of what I drink, ringing in ears, severe morning nausea and diarrhea, major muscle fatigue, severe heart burn, heart palpitations, anxiousness, ongoing headache, numbness in toes, high pulse.  - Doctor prescribed blood pressure medicine and alprazolam for anxiousness. Alpraz didn’t work, stopped taking it.

Week 4: Symptoms remain. Continuing physical therapy for dizziness…although it did nothing. BP still very high. Added symptoms: 4 Migraines. – Doctor did EKG, it was fine.

Week 5: All symptoms remain, but BP meds are kicking in and BP is back to a normal level. Added symptoms: Herpes Simplex outbreak on back of left thigh. Deep chills where I need to take a bath to warm up. Sweating but cold. Anxious feeling improved. – Doctor prescribed acute Valtrex dose for breakout.

Week 6: Most symptoms remain, dizziness has subsided. Started natural antiviral and antibacterial ( for 4 days). Added symptoms: Horrible joint and bone pain all over body but especially in hands and legs, feet. Ribs on left side feel extremely sore. Blisters on roof of mouth. – 1 part of first Lyme Disease test comes back positive. Doctor advises we test again.

Week 7: All symptoms remain. Added symptoms: Cold sore on lip, incredibly fatigued. Can no longer go on regular walks and hikes, exhausting to walk up the stairs in the house. Can only accomplish a few tasks a day. (completely different from my all day active lifestyle) Migraines and headaches are worse. Neck and shoulders are stiff and painful. – 2nd Lyme test comes back negative, yet all Lyme symptoms remain.

Week 8: All symptoms remain, but with less nausea. Splitting daily tasks up and resting works better. – Doctor prescribes treatment for Lyme Disease. 21 days on antibiotic, Doxycycline. Prescribes a higher dose of alprazolam for neck pain to be taken at night to determine if the headaches are tension headaches,didn’t do a thing! Took it for 2 nights and stopped.

Week 9: First week on antibiotic and all symptoms remain. Added symptoms: Hands are hot and red. Feet tingling more in feet. Heartburn increased.

Week 10 and 11: A big energy difference on week 2 of the antibiotic. Still headachey and have joint issues, but all symptoms have decreased in intensity. At the end of week 3 when antibiotic was finished, a huge improvement. Can go up and down the stairs without major fatigue, nausea is gone, dizziness is gone, rib pain gone, migraines gone, chills and sweating gone, heartburn gone.

Week 12: Symptoms that remain: daily headache, mild joint pain, neck and shoulder pain, mild tingling in hands and feet, mild numbness in toes. – Doctor prescribed 2nd 21 day round of Doxycycline.

So as you can see, had I not shared my symptoms with Amanda, and she not shared hers with me, I would be swimming in a world of hurt right now. It would have never occurred to me to discuss Lyme Disease with my doctor.

Reading and Informational Resources:

Lyme Research Alliance Symptom List

Lyme Disease Transmission

Could You Have Lyme Disease?

CDC Cases of Lyme Disease By State  - per 100,000 population

A Very Merry Christmas

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I have such good news!

And I’m not even going to save the best for last.

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We are going home for Christmas!

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Now don’t get me wrong, we love New Hampshire.

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But home for me is where my mom and Brandon are.

(Not there of course, that is our shed.)

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So, we are packing up the dogs and driving 2,701 wintry miles home for Christmas.

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Spending time with my mom and our son, hugging him repeatedly and just being together…sounds like just about the perfect Christmas to me!

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Going home for Christmas makes me extremely happy, but there’s even more good news. I am now being treated for Lyme Disease.

It might seem kind of weird that I’m excited about this.

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Of course, Lyme Disease itself is not good news but the treatment of it can be.

So the goal is to feel better after 21 days on the antibiotic my doctor gave me. The results are kind of sketchy depending on how quickly you catch the infection. If it’s a new infection, then the antibiotic should handle it.

(This is our 11 ft Charlie Brown tree.)

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If it’s an infection from the past that we didn’t know about and I’m having a flare up, that can be a challenge to deal with. If I’m still ill at the end of the 21 days, then there will be other tests for other things as well.

But we aren’t dwelling on that right now.

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Each day is different as far as how I feel, so I’m learning to take each one as it comes.

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And although I have irritating symptoms and my body feels like that of an old lady on most days, I count any progress that I feel, as a major step in the right direction. If I’m not having a progressive day, then I think of it as just being in a holding pattern… there’s no going backward!

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 The past 8 weeks have been a lesson in patience and rest. I’m learning that baby steps are OK.

 And going home to see your mommy when you don’t feel well is a Christmas blessing to look forward to.

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So in case we don’t chat over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full to the brim of blessings, a heart full of happiness, and a healthy body and mind.

See you soon!

~ April

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Wholesome & Happy

8 Comments

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I recently discovered that many of the beauty products I’ve been using have gluten. It started with my face lotion that was making my eyes puffy, my nose itch like crazy, and my face feel rashy. I sat down at my computer and researched every ingredient. Whoops…gluten. Then I went to my body lotion, lip balm, hair spray, body soap, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste…and you guessed it, almost every single one of them had gluten. 

You can find all kinds of recipes on Pinterest for making your own body care products. Once you do a little research and get the basic idea, you can get creative using ingredients that appeal to you. You can order all of the ingredients I used on Amazon.com. I purchased all of the containers online from specialtybottle.com. I found they had the best variety and the best pricing.

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On Day 1 I started with a couple of easier projects so I could experiment with solid and liquid oils and essential oils. Turns out, it’s incredibly easyAnd SO much fun to create your own textures and scents.

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This mixture set up very quickly! As soon as it hits a cooler object it starts to set up.

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I made these the consistency of chap stick by just allowing them to cool in the tins. If you want a fluffier, kind of balmy or creamy texture, allow the oils to cool and set up in a mixing bowl, then whip with the whisk attachment on your mixer. Then just spoon it into the tins and smooth.

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~Luscious Lemon Lip Balm~

6 ounces of organic virgin coconut oil, 1 teaspoon pure almond oil, 2 ounces of pure beeswax, 1 Tablespoon of raw wild honey, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon essential oil. Melt the coconut oil, and beeswax in a double boiler slowly until completely melted. Add the almond oil and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the honey and essential oil and stir.

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~ Dreamy Sleep Salve ~

1 Cup of organic virgin coconut oil, 1 Cup of organic olive oil, 4 Tablespoons of pure beeswax, 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond oil. Melt the coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler slowly until completely melted. Add the olive oil and almond oil and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add 40 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil,  60 drops of ginger essential oil, 80 drops of peppermint essential oil, 80 drops of lemon essential oil, and 80 drops of grapefruit essential oil and stir.

The Dreamy Sleep Salve recipe was courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com. I used almond oil instead of vitamin E oil because vitamin E oil is typically derived from wheat germ which means it’s not gluten-free. And I tweaked the amounts on the oils just slightly.

Day 2 I moved on to a more involved experiment. But still SO easy!

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Piping it into your jars of choice is as easy as using a zipper bag and cutting a small opening in one of the corners. I would avoid using your good piping bags.

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You won’t believe how your skin feels after a night of being pampered with this cream.

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~ Calming Chamomile Night Cream ~

8 ounces of organic raw unrefined shea butter, 8 ounces of virgin organic coconut oil, 2 Tablespoons of beeswax, 4 ounces of pure jojoba oil, 4 ounces of organic virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of raw wild honey, and two tea bags with chamomile flowers, blackberry leaves, lemongrass, rose petals, spearmint leaves, lemon balm leaf, hibiscus flowers, lavender flowers, marigold flowers. You can purchase them already together or do your own. Mine are the Tazo Calm Chamomile tea bags. Add the tea bags to a double broiler and melt the shea butter, beeswax, and coconut oil slowly. Add the jojoba oil and olive oil and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Add the honey and pour into a mixing bowl. Allow to rest in the fridge for about an hour. Place mixing bowl on stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk until light and fluffy. This process will take some time. You will need to scrape down the sides and bottoms frequently until all is incorporated and smooth.

On Day 3 I decided to try my hand at making shower fizzies. When I have a migraine or I’m not feeling well, I love to shake a few drops of eucalyptus globulus, peppermint, or lemon essential oils onto the shower floor. If you haven’t tried it, DO! It helps a headache and nausea tremendously. The one downside is it washes away so quickly. A shower fizzie drenched in essential oils washes away slowly, allowing you to linger.

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Scoop them into muffin papers (I found that the tinfoil lined ones worked better) and allow them to completely dry.

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~ Sinus & Migraine Shower Bombs ~

1 1/2 large boxes of baking soda, 3 Tablespoons of potato starch, about 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 3 Tablespoons eucalyptus globulus essential oil, plus more for the tops after they dry. Add the baking soda and potato starch to a large bowl and whisk. Slowly add the water, mixing until you have a thick slurry, but not too thick and not too wet. Add the essential oil and spoon into muffin tins lined with muffin papers. Allow to dry completely, about 24 hours. Once they are dry and you’re ready to package them, put a few more drops of essential oil on the top of each one.

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~ Rise & Shine Shower Bombette! ~

1 1/2 large boxes of baking soda, 3 Tablespoons of potato starch, about 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Lemon essential oil,  and 60 drops of peppermint essential oil, plus more for the tops after they dry. Add the baking soda and potato starch to a large bowl and whisk. Slowly add the water, mixing until you have a thick slurry, but not too thick and not too wet. Add the essential oil and spoon into muffin tins lined with muffin papers (I used mini muffin papers for the Rise & Shine and regular for the Migraine).  Allow to dry completely, about 24 hours. Once they are dry and you’re ready to package them, put a few more drops of essential oil on the top of each one.

So by the end of day 3 I was feeling pretty darn proud of my creations. It’s quite addictive! Not only that but it’s fun and relaxing and no too labor intensive.

Day 4 brought a luxurious body lotion with five different types of butters and oils and three kinds of essential oils.

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~ Body Quench Luxurious Body Lotion ~ 

1/2 batch of my body butter without essential oils, 6.5 ounces of pure cocoa butter, 16 ounces of pure almond oil, 3 ounces of organic virgin coconut oil, 1 Tablespoon of spring water, 12 drops of lavender essential oil, 25 drops of peppermint essential oil, 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Make the 1/2 batch of body butter first. After it’s been whipped in the mixer, add the cocoa butter, and coconut oil (solid). Whip with the whisk attachment until thoroughly combined. This will take a while, you’ll need to scrape down the sides and bottom frequently until it is fully incorporated. With the mixer running on medium to medium high, slowly drizzle the almond oil into the whipped mixture about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing it to mix in thoroughly and fluff before adding the next 1/4 cup. Do this until all of the almond oil has been added. Whip on medium high scraping down the sides for 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle the water in a little at a time, whipping in between additions. Once all of the water has been incorporated, whip on medium high for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom about every 2 minutes. 

And lastly, Day 5 was completed with a scrub. This scent reminds me of the Seattle Market Spice Tea. Heavenly!

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~ Sugar & Spice Hand and Elbow Scrub ~ 

12 Cups of raw turbinado sugar, 2 1/2 Cups of pure jojoba oil, 40 drops of grapefruit essential oil, 40 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil, 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Measure the sugar into a large bowl and add the oil. Stir until combined. Add the essential oils and stir. Scoop into wide mouth containers.

Immune Boosting Breakfast

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Do you pay much attention to your immune system?

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders.

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Many of us probably don’t give our inner workings much thought until we become ill.

I take a pro-biotic, vitamin D, multi vitamins, adrenal support, and fish oil every day. I typically get outside and get fresh air and exercise myself and the dogs at least 5 days a week. I eat organic fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains. I’m dairy free and gluten-free. And even though I post a lot of sugary items on my blog, I myself don’t eat much sugar on a regular basis.  But sometimes, even when we feel we are doing all the right things when it comes to our health, something invades our bodies and down goes the immune system.

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The last time we chatted I think I told you I was suffering from dreaded Vertigo. Well, I went from having the flu, to vertigo, to having to be put on blood pressure medication, to a cold sore on my leg about the size of the palm of my hand, to a list of other symptoms, and now my doctor is trying to figure out just what in the heck is going on. Right now we’re traveling down the Lyme Disease road. I’ve tested positive on one of the tests and now the next step is to test again and see what happens. I’d say it’s kind of a double edged sword, all of this testing. On one hand, there’s NO WAY anyone would want Lyme Disease and on the other hand, you hope something in some test will come out positive so you can put a name to it, get treatment, and get back to feeling like yourself again.

This was my Immune Boosting  Breakfast this morning.

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Put a bit of organic olive oil in a small saute pan and heat. Add chopped spinach and stir until it wilts. Add one clove of chopped garlic, leftover wild caught salmon, and leftover organic brown rice. Gently toss around until everything is heated through and season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and dill.

Are you like me when you get sick?

I wage an ALL OUT war.

I research everything I can think of. Natural and mainstream medicine, ideas, and theories. I read blogs, I look for people who are talking about the same symptoms online, I look at all ways possible to get healthy again. Might sound a tad extreme, but educating yourself is never a bad thing. I like to feel good and healthy…doesn’t everyone? You’ve heard me say many times in past posts that you need to be pro-active with your health. Educating yourself and going to your doctor or Naturopath with ideas, concerns, and questions will only help you in the long run. Luckily, I have been able to find a practice that has an amazing nurse practitioner who so far is open to getting to the bottom of what is going on and exploring other options. I try to set aside my fears of appearing like a “difficult patient” when going in with ideas and questions. After all, what doctor has the time or resources to research every symptom, feeling, and question you have?  I remind myself that I pay big dollars for their time and help so I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about taking an active role in getting better. Most doctors welcome pro-active patients. They can’t help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself. So, the war is on. We’ll get to the bottom of all of this eventually. Until then, I’m just taking it one day at a time.

If I feel good I do stuff, if I don’t, well then I don’t do too much stuff. Ha, sounds simple, but that’s my reality right now. I’ve been reading sweet little Christmas stories during my down time. I LOVE the Christmas season. When there are “things” going on in life, it’s fun and relaxing to read joyful, Christmas stories. These are fun and will really get you in the Christmas spirit.

A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

The Cat Who Came For Christmas by Cleveland Amory

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

Angels At The Table by Debbie Macomber

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If you’d like a list of foods that help to strengthen the immune system you can go here:

Foods To Strengthen The Immune System

8 Foods To Build A Strong Immune System

20 Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Girl’s Week in New England

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Hello and happy Fall!

It’s in full swing in New England in the form of beautiful colors and a very slight chill in the air.

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I’ve just come off of one of the best vacations I think I’ve ever had. My mom came for a visit and we made it a girl’s only week. I had forgotten how necessary girl time is!

Here’s my beautiful mom, Meribelle. Getting ready to stick her toes in the Atlantic for the first time.

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We took a trip up the coast and spent several blissful days shopping, walking, sight seeing, and eating at some really fun restaurants.

You cannot do a trip up to Maine without first stopping in Hampton Beach to walk on the sand and let the water wash over your toes. Only during the week though…weekends are…yikes. Like sardines.

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We went up to Portsmouth to have a look around and spent one night. Then, we headed to Ogunquit, Maine where we stayed at the Anchorage Inn Seacoast. It sits right along the coastline, it was gorgeous. This is the sunrise view from the hotel.

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We stayed for a couple of days and looked at all of the sights and of course, shopped. And shopped some more. It was so convenient that the outlet malls in Kittery were right on our way to Ogunquit! (ha!) We also tried out some of the restaurants and admired the east coasters knack for landscaping and decorating in Ogunquit.

Ogunquit is a walking town and we had so much fun walking from end to end and seeing the sights. I have many photos of the amazing landscaping, but I hate to make you look through an entire album, so I’ll just give you a taste.

Yes, all of the pumpkins pictured are REAL!

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Right out the gate to the ocean at our hotel is a path called Marginal Way. It’s a 1.5 mile, paved path, that goes from downtown Ogunquit to the end of town to Perkin’s Cove. It’s beautiful and winds all along the edge of the ocean.

This is the entrance in town. We spent at least 10 minutes just examining the amazing flowers right at this spot.

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This is the view from the path in front of our hotel. That path winds around the point you can see and heads into Perkin’s Cove which is full of wonderful shops and restaurants. It was buzzing with walkers day and night. We felt very safe walking it in the dark.

The weather was perfect the entire time we were in Maine. It was in the high 70′s and the first day we arrived, it was over 80 degrees.

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This is the view from one of our lunch stops in Perkin’s Cove.

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This is the Ogunquit Memorial Library. It receives no funding from the town of Ogunquit and relies entirely on donations and endowments. Ogunquit has a long established art colony and keeps a collection of several paintings from local artists on display. We didn’t make it inside this time, but it will definitely be on the list for next time!

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The next day we headed into Kennebunkport for sightseeing and shopping. And eating!

This is St. Ann’s in Kennebunkport. Unbelievably gorgeous. And yes, they do have services from June until Labor Day. You may even get to see the Bush family who attend regularly when they are vacationing in their summer home, right around the corner on Walker’s Point. It has been a working summer chapel since 1892!

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The inside is filled with rock and stained glass and is breath taking. I can’t wait to attend a service next summer! They also have an outdoor service at 8:00 am every Sunday during the summer with the ocean as a back drop. The ocean as a back drop…can you imagine? Get there early, sometimes they can have as many as 400 attendees and once the parking lot is full, they have to close the gates.

Out of all of the stores we we went through in Portsmouth, Ogunquit, and Kennebunk…I would have to rate this one my favorite.

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This is the outside.

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And this…is the inside! There’s another room behind me as well. We spent well over an hour looking through every nook and cranny determined not to miss a thing. We both ended up leaving with several treasures and after lunch, I went back and bought one more item that I had had my eye on!

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Here is the view from our lunch table in Kennebunkport. There were doors along the entire wall of the restaurant and all of them were open. Leaves were falling from the trees, and as you can see, it was a beautiful day.

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This is off of Walker’s Point.

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And this is a lobster fisherman paddling to his fishing boat and then headed out to sea from Perkin’s Cove.

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I could show you all of our beautiful pictures of our adventure, but I wouldn’t want to keep you all day! So I’ll just leave you with a couple more Fall pictures until I see you again tomorrow with an Apple Pumpkin Upside Down Cake.

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By the way, this house is for sale, right around the corner. It looks amazing in every season. In winter it is the epitome of New England, covered in snow with a wreath on the door, a wisp of smoke spiraling up from the chimney…

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See you tomorrow!

Am I Ready For Fall?

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As I type this blog post, I’m wearing flannel pajama bottoms, a nightgown, and a sweatshirt. It was 54 degrees when we rolled out of bed at 6:00 this morning. It’s already turning into tea and fireplace mornings!

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Two small red potatoes, olive oil, 1/2 of a small sweet onion, kosher salt, pepper.

Rewind to two weeks ago when it was 94 degrees and 98% humidity for several days in a row, my answer would have been a resounding, “YES! I AM ready for Fall!”.  It was the type of weather that no matter how little clothing you were wearing, you felt like you were standing in a steam room…with a campfire. Even the central air conditioner couldn’t get a handle on the humidity. Have you ever tried vacuuming carpet when it’s extremely humid? It’s a major workout. The tile and wood floors are also sticky and damp and if you plan on keeping anything you cook or bake crisp…forget it.

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Fast forward to today.

 The dogs are completely covered in blankets.

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Romeo

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I’m warming my hands with a hot cup of tea so I can type.

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 And it’s only the beginning of August.

It’s true that you should be very careful what you wish for.

Soon, Mount Monadnock will be covered in color. New England in Fall…Now THAT, I’m looking forward to!

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How is your weekend going? I hope you’ve had a chance to get a bit of relaxation in. My husband is off to Massachusetts for a motorcycle ride this morning, so it’s breakfast for one.

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Organic breakfast for one. New potatoes, sweet onion, egg over easy, sliced strawberries, & Maine wild blueberries.

We tried a new restaurant last night and I went to bed with a horribly sick stomach and woke up with stiff joints, cement neck, and a lovely headache. They had a very nice menu filled with pasta and seafood but everything was swimming in dairy and piled on gluten. I had to settle on a bunless hamburger of all things! I’m always upfront with the wait staff right from the beginning that I’m allergic to gluten and dairy and they are usually very helpful. But, even in the best circumstances, which this was not, things “happen”. The waitress brought the burger with potato chips and then went into a huge panic saying, “WAIT! You can’t have potato chips……can you?” I told her that was fine but I had actually ordered the fries. So she brought me the fries and after taking one look at them I could clearly see they had been dredged in flour.  At this point I was thinking that we were probably by far her most annoying customers of the day.

Tony said, “Who cares if they’re annoyed? They’ve already delivered our food, they can’t spit in it now.” Way to set the bar high, honey. Ha! The fact that he even thought that was the type of restaurant we were in, made me wonder even more about my measly burger laying on a piece of wilted lettuce.

So she returned, eventually.  I asked her kindly if she wouldn’t mind asking the chef if the fries had been dredged in flour before frying. She came whipping back into the room (which was luckily empty except for Tony and I) saying in a loud voice,  “Don’t eat them! You didn’t eat any did you? Do we need to call for EMS?!” Which I’m assuming was her way of asking if I needed an ambulance.

Just shoot me. Gawd, the drama of it all. 

Remember in one of my earlier posts when I told you I absolutely dread bringing attention to myself at restaurants and having to tell people who invite us to dinner that I have food allergies? The only thing that saved me from walking out was the second glass of wine I was sipping. Which probably also gave me just enough wine fog to ignore the warnings going off in my head about the supposedly “safe” hamburger I was about to eat.

There’s still a bright side to my evening though.  We met and visited with some neighbors down the street who were very nice and our own age. They also have a very sweet and well-mannered 13 year old daughter, Hannah. We think Hannah will make a very kind dog babysitter. AND Hannah and I saved a baby bird from certain death and were able to return it to its nest.

Now, I’m off to enjoy the remainder of the weekend and I hope you do too! ~ April