Friday, September 12, 2014

Cat Sweater

I somehow always knew this day was coming.

I started by knitting small animals; I suppose it's only natural to progress to knitting for small animals.

Some family friends of our have a cat named Gus. Gus has an enormous amount of hair--which equals a lot of shedding. So our friends shave him down (except his head and the end of his tail. So he looks like a lion, naturally).

Alas, the price of no shedding is not inexpensive: Gus is one chilly kitty in the winter.

The answer? A sweater.

A cat sweater for Gus.

He's quite regal, really.

Gus really hates his sweater.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Glenfinnan House + Viaduct

So, I'm just going to come right out and say it. The only reason we stayed in this hotel is because it is conveniently located a mere 10 minute walk away from the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This may seem silly to some of you. Maybe it will seem less silly when I tell you that the Glenfinnan Viaduct was used in the second Harry Potter film. That's right. It's the bridge where Ron and Harry almost get hit by a train in their flying Ford Anglia. I realize that may still sound silly to some of you.. but also I got a really good deal from Groupon.

It's been a few months since my last Scotland post, but I'm not even halfway done yet, so let us continue on. The Glenfinnan House was beautiful beyond my expectations. It is located directly on Loch Shiel in a remote location. The house has its own dock, 27 bedrooms, a gorgeous formal dining room, a more casual dining room for lunch, and basically it was a dream come true. I talked Forrest into dining in the hotel that night and it was delicious and reasonably priced. We sat next to the floor-to-ceiling window and looked out at the lake with a candle flickering on our table (so romantic!). It was pretty stormy that night and it was lovely to watch the rain and dark clouds rolling over the loch from the cozy dining room (and if I remember right, there was a fire crackling in the corner) (but that could just be the overall dreamy haze infecting my memory). Sometimes, I have such a great experience somewhere and my brain remembers the time as even better than it actually was. I can't remember even one bad thing happening here and I'm pretty sure nothing did! Even the rain added to the magic. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Scotland? Like I said, it was a dream come true.

Speaking of dreams come true..

Don't worry, there are at least 30 more pictures of the viaduct in this post. Carry on!
Ah, Glenfinnan, house of my dreams.
This little chapel up above was a short walk down the road. It just looks so pretty up there resting on its bed of purple.
It must have been purple rhododendron season because I don't think I saw any other type of flower. The contrast with all the greens and greys made for a lovely effect--and I accidentally matched!
The Jacobite (the company that provided the Harry Potter films with its trains and, consequently, we carried a brochure for it in our car for over a year) runs on the viaduct. We were tempted to enjoy a wizarding train ride (I don't even think that exists except in my head), but a ride on the antique trains is an all day affair (from Fort William to Mallaig) for which we simply did not have the time. We were lucky enough to see a regular train roll across the bridge, however.
I'm not even going to guess how much time we spent wading in the stream just because we could, but I'm thinking it's an embarrassing amount.
This hallway.. there was another like it on the other side of the stairs. The house just kept going. We ventured to the third floor of the house (via winding staircase) and looked out a window (so sneaky, I know) (I must have been too preoccupied with our sneakiness to take a picture).

There are probably way too many pictures in the post, but it was all so beautiful. I would stay here again in a heartbeat.

P.S. Other posts along this journey:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pendleton + the Raccoon

Pendleton decided to go swimming today (or rather, Megan tossed him into the birdbath) in order to fully appreciate the last day of summer.

He walked around and around the birdbath until he discovered the raccoon. Now they are best friends. And isn't that just lovely?

Happy Labor Day!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saturday's Harvest

The neighboring farmer told my parents on Saturday that he was done harvesting his field of green beans and that we were welcome to come pick whatever we wanted. Forrest took this offer very seriously and proceeded to pick (with my reluctant help) an entire five gallon bucket full of the things. 

The other field along the house is full of a much sweeter crop: raspberries. Though we had to pay for them (the injustice!), we walked on over to purchase half a flat of those as well. 

We ate some of the raspberries right away and steamed + froze the entire bucket of green beans. That is a lot of green bean snapping.. although I will admit that Forrest did the bulk of the work while I painted my fingernails.

I'd say that with the entire year's worth of green beans and at least a few days supply of raspberries at our fingertips, we are doing pretty well for ourselves these days, um.. agriculturally.
And as I'm never one to end a random post without a picture of our favorite pup, I took this rather Phantom-esque picture of the masked Jasper after I found him lying in some dust in the garage. He shook most of it off before I could take the photo..

Also, Jasper is not a fan of raw green beans, but did proceed to catch, chew, and spit out every single green bean end that I snapped and threw to him. He's a very trusting dog.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Dismals (+ the time I saw my first snake!)

This post took me a million years to finish, but it's finally done. My life has sort of been taken up with apartment hunting, but mostly we have just been sitting around waiting for the apartment people to call us back (why must you play with our emotions in this way, apartment people?!). One day feels like a week when a good apartment is at stake. Forrest and I each have at least one meltdown a day and feel like we are probably going to end up living either a)in our car (why didn't we buy a bigger car?) or b) an hour-ish commute from our school. Each way. In traffic.

Anyway, we're still waiting for some calls, so I figured I might as well be semi-productive. 
Brad and Megan and Forrest and I went to the Dismals Canyon: a place that our grandparents and parents (except not Forrest's parents) visited and swam at many a time in their youth. My grandma told me that once she saw a snake there so she never went back. I guess I know where I got my fear of snakes (or I'm just a normal human).
They had a super cute gift shop and cafe with big porches for us to sit on and wait for tours to begin.

We decided to go all out and took the night tour to see the famous dismalites. Dismalites are a type of glow worm very similar to those found in New Zealand and Australia. I didn't take any pictures of the night tour because it was kind of impossible, but they basically just looked like little blue lights (sort of like stars). It was interesting to see because that is really the only place they are found in such a high concentration. 
The next day, we went down into the canyon again to walk around and also to go swimming because the heat + humidity were sweltering.
ALSO, we saw a snake

I had never seen a venomous snake in real life before except at the zoo and it was terrifying! I mean, I'm not scared of reptiles in general..or non-venomous snakes like the cute garter snakes in Washington that run  (er.. slither) away from you. It's more the fact that it could KILL ME with no warning that makes me cringe just a little. It didn't actually do anything to us, but I mean it was right next to the trail in a very convenient location to bite an ankle.

After this incident, I made Forrest buy me a snake-bite kit.
The canyon itself was beautiful. There was abundant moss akin to the Pacific Northwest and the bluffs were tall, cracked, and impressive. I saw all manner of colorful fungi, several frogs, a few interestingly colored bugs and one giant yellow butterfly.
We went swimming in the arctic pond at the top of the waterfall and, once we were nice and frozen, we headed down to wade in the mysteriously warmer water at the bottom..and to sit in the waterfall. As you do.
A butterfly landed on my head and wouldn't leave. I had to be extra careful not to dunk my head under water. 
And here we have Forrest trying to get back on the dock for a self-timer photo. I'm sorry to say that none of us were fast enough swimmers to ever beat ten seconds. 
And there you have it. If you're ever in Northwest Alabama, I would highly recommend a trip to the Dismals. It was somehow the first time I had ever been there (?) even though I've spent the majority of my summers only ten miles away. I guess I'll blame my grandma's fear of snakes and the convenience of their pool.