Hostess Who Travels

My aunt and uncle offered us their house in Galway when they realized we were coming here for a meeting. They know how hard it is to stay in hotels with kids! They are off on an adventure themselves- to Sao Paolo Brazil to visit their son! I wanted to find an appropriate gift as a thank you and decided on a travel jewelry roll since my aunt always has gorgeous jewelry (don’t worry, she’s not bringing any of it to Brazil!!!)

I used mostly this tutorial, with some additional ideas from Pinterest.  The gorgeous fabric is part of my prize from Crafty Staci

Loops for bracelets and necklaces with tuck-in pockets, zippered pocket, ring holder, earring holder with protective flap.


Pirate Crew on Spot Pond

Our library finally got its library passes in for boat rental on our local pond. With the pass you can get 4 hours in the morning or afternoon for free, instead of $20/hour!!!

Paddle power

We stopped at our favorite landing point and the boys climbed this big rock twice after our picnic. It is so nice escaping outdoors sometimes, even when you can hear and see the interstate on the pond you can forget about it too…


We had a fun time scouting for fish, spotting plenty of little sunfish, like some pumpkin seeds by a little island.

Trying to get a nibble?

Nahant Beach

We went to Nahant Beach with Conor’s friend from school on Friday. It’s definitely nice having another parent around for when little ones are too tired to go to the water or big ones need to go potty… The boys had a great time.


The time for bulk orders from our farm coop has arrived. Some berries had a rough time this year because of our harsh winter, so I was glad to get these gooseberries. Mum really likes gooseberry jam so I wanted to make some to bring her when we visit Ireland next week.

Topping and tailing – a slog

Making the jam was a lot of work. I was in the kitchen for about 3.5 hours because I made two different batches. The first was a Gooseberry and Golden Raisin Conserve from my Bell Preserving book and the second was the one I made last year, a very simple jam recipe from the BBC.

Starting up the conserve

The jams took a good long time to boil to gel point. I discovered when making strawberry jams two weeks prior that I wasn’t really a fan of pectin. I tried a different strawberry jam recipe to last year without pectin first, but Eoin was potty training and that batch did not go well because I did not have any patience left… So I tried some pectin recipes for Strawberry and Strawberry Rhubarb, neither of which set according to the instructions in my Bell book ( I guess boiling hard for one minute after adding pectin just wouldn’t cut it for my jams). I also found the color of the jams is just way too weird. Sure, you use less fruit and it takes less time, but it doesn’t have a deep color and a jammy feel, and I also experienced fruit separation. I decided I will try and stick to the old fashioned way in the future. And that’s what I did with the gooseberry jam, which I haven’t even tried yet! We had too many other jams in the fridge! (I also made an excellent raspberry jam when Lovisa and Andreas were visiting…)

Looking forward to trying these out

Can you believe after all that jam making that I still had some gooseberries left? Last year I made a delicious cordial with lemon balm and gooseberries but this year I had a surplus of mint instead, so I made another BBC recipe, Gooseberry and Mint Lemonade cordial.

Once I got past the prospect of topping and tailing MORE gooseberries…

It was worth it

Lovisa and Andreas Visit

We had a fantastic July 4 weekend with a visit from Lovisa and Andreas, down from Michigan. Papa took them to Fenway for their first time on Friday night, but not before seeing some of the city. We met them in Boston Common with Trefor (on a flying visit) for a short time.

Alligators in Frog Pond

We went to Crane Beach on the Fourth, but have no photos!!! We were having too much fun! The boys absolutely loved Andreas and would have given him no peace from climbing, jumping boys if I hadn’t used some chocolate bribery…

On Sunday we went for ice cream, then to the playground and a mercifully short mosquito-infested hike in the Fells.

Survived the mosquitos

Camping in Cape Cod in June

We returned this year to Nickerson State Park, a really nice base for exploring the Cape. Our first port of call was the little beach near our campsite at Little Cliff Pond.

It’s good to be back

We spent the week trying to find our favorite beach. It was glorious.

First Encounter Beach

On the Atlantic


Most evenings we would make it down to the pond as well.


Conor really perfected his casting.

As long as you keep him away from trees

There was some excellent teamwork on display too, as long as the boys weren’t fighting over whose turn it was with the net.

Pumpkin seed fish

We had one rainy day that week, so we headed to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, also in Brewster.

Deep in thought

We then took a drive and things had cleared up pretty well so we found Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham by chance and had a lovely little hike along a trail that shows you the different coastal habitats.

Monomoy Trail

On our last day we had to avoid some wind so we checked out a Wellfleet beach on the bay side. It was a great place to relax after being kept awake by stupid teenagers at the campsite the night before. The boys were thankfully oblivious to my pain and Daddy took them off to the other end of the beach so I could rest. (I was ultimately cured by ice cream…)

Rock fort

This is all a farce. They wouldn’t get in the water all week!

For the last night, Daddy treated himself to 3.42lbs of lobster…

Happy boys!

The boys and I were more in the mood for hot dogs roasted at the fire

Overall a victorious trip to the Cape:

And these boys get so tired out that bedtime is a breeze…

Good morning!!!

Traumatic Caterpillar Infestation – The Brown Tail Moth

Okay, so I am still traumatized by the caterpillar infestation we encountered when we were camping in Cape Cod mid-June. It has made me delay posting blog posts for so long that I am going to get it over with first so I can concentrate on the awesome time we had when we were not battling millions of caterpillars…

So, when we checked in at Nickerson State Park, the ranger mentioned “gypsy moth caterpillars”… But when we arrived at our campsite, there were thousands of them! Crawling all over the ground, hanging from trees… If a caterpillar wasn’t dropping on you from the trees, their shredded leaves were instead. They were even eating PINE needles!!!

We went about our normal camping activities, but by mid-week the number had actually increased. Before every meal in our screen tent we would whack the roof, drop hundreds of caterpillars, smush, and two hours later more were back:


As you ate they would continue to drop. Here is a normal “drop zone” before clearing and smushing:

The brush was indispensable

There was truly no escape. It got very overwhelming at times and was hard to relax. By the end we had figured out to wear long pants, roll them into long socks, sweater… Then you could actually enjoy the campfire. And we took down the screen house too. They were far too attracted to it…

It must have felt like climbing a tree

So, that was all fine really. We survived, and we could avoid them during the day as we explored the Cape, but once we arrived home, we started coming out with a rash. Conor was the worst affected. His whole back was covered in a poison ivy-like rash, that didn’t blister… We were perplexed, because we were so careful about avoiding poison ivy. We tried googling caterpillars and poison ivy to see if they can transport oils (???) and that’s when we discovered the Brown Tail Moth, an invasive species from England that is only in small parts of coastal Maine and pockets of Cape Cod. It looks quite like the gypsy moth caterpillar. It gives you a rash by leaving barbs of hair on you. True enough, we remembered some particularly hairy caterpillars that would occasionally “spike” us… So we called Nickerson and asked them to please please let people know that these caterpillars exist. They had never heard of them, and also seemed to think we were saints for camping at our site?? Man, if you knew there was such a problem why didn’t you recommend we move our site??? Crazy stuff…

Melrose Touch-a Truck

Way back in June, before the elementary schools were out, Melrose Department of Public Works held an awesome Touch a Truck event at their depot very close to us. The street it is based on was closed off with trucks lining its whole expanse and the yard, and the athletic fields beside them had multiple bouncy houses and slides. We had a blast!

Eoin, with Conor below for scale!!!

Eoin is way more brave about things like these nowadays