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DIY: Laundry Detergent

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I did some digging and found a super easy and economical recipe for laundry detergent. I want to avoid as many additives, chemicals, dyes, and perfumes as possible. Gavin’s skin is pretty sensitive, as well as my own, so I like to play it safe. I’ll be honest, I used to prefer Gain. I love that Gain fresh scent! But that stuff seriously irritated Gavin’s skin and NOTHING is worth going through THAT again. I also do not use fabric softener for a variety of reasons including: a) it’s really […]


Jeeping In Our Jeep

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On Saturday, we took a break from the chicken coop construction. Matt has been a member of the local 4 wheel drive club here, called Range Riders for almost 15 years. He finally had the chance to go on a “run” with the group this past weekend. A “run” is basically going out with some like minded 4×4 enthusiasts and having fun. We started out strong, but . . . well, let’s just say they didn’t end the same way. And for the record! Jeeps never get stuck. They just […]


Coop Progress: Days 5 & 6

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I’m a little behind in telling you about our progress. There has been quite a lot of progress, but I’ve been just too exhausted to write about it. We worked on the coop all day Friday & most of Sunday. But . . . we took Saturday off to go play. And guess what? We painted a little more. How fun! We decided on a color for the hen house and it’s RED! How traditional. Here is what we have done so far, plus Matt has installed a bunch more […]


Upcycling & Repurposing

About seven months ago I redid a couple of our dining room chairs. The craft shop on base was closing soon and I had no time to waste. I picked out fabric that was almost identical to the other chairs. I had two to redo and really didn’t want to do all of them if I didn’t have to. Prying out staples isn’t my idea of a good time. I completed the two chairs, the craft shop closed, and then . . . the fabric on two other chairs ripped and wore thin. Seriously? Are you kidding me? So, we had two ripped up chairs for a few months. I was weighing my options: (a) order fabric on-line, (b) buy fabric locally, or (c) start using the patio chairs. Option A just ended up being a waste of time. I searched stores, but you can’t really see and feel the fabric and that’s something that I need. I just couldn’t bring myself to do Option B. I cannot in good conscience overpay for something that I don’t want to pay for in the first place. And I ¬†think the patio chairs might be too low for the table. Many months passed and I continued to live in denial. Trying to avoid the ugly chair dilemma. But, we had some visitors coming for lunch and I HAD to do something.

I quickly sprang into action and headed for the basement (where all my brilliant plans are hatched). I decided to just get them covered, even if it meant with little cowboys and Christmas fabric. I was looking for some extra fabric – you know all that extra fabric that you can’t bear to throw out. Hey, if I couldn’t do the chairs right, at least I would make a temporary cover. Immediately, I came across a failed project of mine. I had saved one of Matt’s old long sleeve t-shirts to repurpose. I brought it up stairs, separated the front from the back, and started stapling. When Matt got home and saw the chairs, he couldn’t figure out where I had gotten the fabric from or what type of material it was.

This is just a temporary fix. I do plan on redoing all the chairs once I can do a proper job and pick out the right type of material.


Running in Germany

Running in Germany has its ups and downs. I’m talking about recreational running, not running from a cheetah kind of running. That is a whole different sport. In Germany, for instance, I just love the infinite ways to get from point A to point B. There are so many paved paths that take you where ever you want to go and places you could never see by car. Plus, the countryside can be breathtaking. Like right now, the red poppies are sprinkled in the golden fields.¬†IMG_0506

When running anywhere it is important to be prepared. For some it’s planning the route, distance, or time. Still for others, being prepared means dressing for the weather. Personally, I try on both counts. I usually have some idea of where my run takes me, how far I’m willing to go, and when I’m expected to return. But honestly, my legs usually do their own thing. My mind says, “Hey this is too much work. Let’s turn around and go home.” Whereas another part of me is saying “Shut up and run.” I’d like to think my legs have some say in the matter.

Dressing for the weather. Dressing for the weather in Germany. That one is a doozy. My standard uniform is Nike Tempo Shorts, a mis-matched tech shirt, a hat that used to be white, sporty sunglasses, and of course, running socks and shoes. My socks are so smart too. They tell me which is left and right, so I’ll never have to wonder. Continue reading


Longest Paddle Yet

This past Monday, I set out in my kayak to go from Marathi Beach to Stavros Beach. Both of these are on the Akrotiri Peninsula on the northwestern part of the island of Crete. It was to be my longest paddle yet and the first time I’ve not had to go out and turn around and come back to the same launch point. There was only one good place to stop along the way – in fact, it was a really nice, secluded beach accessible only by boat. The only problem is that once you get around the most eastern point on the peninsula, you get the pleasure of smelling what I can only express as a highly concentrated geep (goat/sheep) urine/feces smell. No joke! It just so happened that the little beach I stopped at must be somewhere near Ground Zero. So, while I did hang out there for a few minutes, I didn’t linger as long as I would have had the wonderful aroma not been there.

After that, it was a long paddle around to Stavros. The scenery was gorgeous and being pretty much the only one out there (other than the odd fishing boat) was very nice – though being a beginning paddler, it is nice to know folks are around in case you get into trouble. Fortunately, I didn’t have any problems and just enjoyed the morning. I only wish I had actually eaten something before starting out – my energy was definitely waning there at the end.


Gramvousa & Balos Trip

On Memorial Day the boys and I took a trip to Gramvousa & Balos. Our friend Silvia invited us to go with her, her kids, and her house guest Katie. Our friends Richard and Melanie went too and were so kind to drive us. Unfortunately, Matt had to stay home and work on a school paper. The good thing is… he had the peace and quite necessary to get it done.

After waiting nearly an hour (or more?) the ferry left the port. It was incredibly slow, as compared to our last ferry ride to Santorini. After an hour of boating the island of Gramvousa was in sight. We saw an awesome castle on the hill top, overlooking a sunken pirate ship. The beach was beautiful and we were so glad to have brought our water shoes. Melanie, Richard, and Katie hiked to the castle while Silvia and I stayed on the beach with the kiddos. Gavin discovered some sea anemones living on rocks. They were so cool and sucked to our fingers. That was before we realized that we were probably being stung. Continue reading


Hiking

While Matt was having fun with our good friends Harry & Kristie in Virginia Beach, I took advantage of my time alone. My friend Melanie and I took a morning hike. Melanie invited me over for breakfast and we had fresh orange juice, coffee, and yummy Greek yogurt with honey.

Then we headed out to the trail head. We started at Gouverneto and hiked down through a small gorge and finished out to a cove. It was getting quite warm and Melanie went for a swim. I just stuck my toes in the water and checked out the sea life.

In the midst of our hike, we ran into two American college backpackers who were way too hopeful in waiting for a local bus to pick them up. So we took them into the closest town (Chorafakia) and checked on the bus schedule for them. I hope they made it!

It was a really nice hike. Not very long and not exactly challenging. It is a perfect hike for the morning before heading to the beach.

Ginger


New Photoblog

All right, so you’re probably wondering what a Photoblog is anyways. I’ve basically set up a separate site where I can post the photos I’ve taken that I like the best. I wanted to have something completely separate from this blog so that the photos could just speak for themselves. Well, that’s the idea anyways. Besides, I’m a geek and I like to play with new stuff!

For those interested in checking it out, here’s the link: www.thebarkersworld.com/photoblog. You can also get there by clicking the link titled “Matt’s Photoblog” at the top of this page.

I’ve already posted my first photo so go check it out! I’m hoping to add at least one a week (hopefully more), but we’ll see how it goes.


Window into Tain

Window into Tain, originally uploaded by mwbarker.

This photo was taken during our trip to Scotland in 2003. The city this was shot in was Tain, which is in the north of Scotland. It was a beautiful town, and these flowers were stunning against the original building color, but I wanted to bring the colors out a little more. Hope you like it!