An Historical Weekend Away

It’s been almost a month since Boyfriend and I decided to take a little long weekend trip to Gettysburg, but I suppose I ought to share some of the photos I took. It was a lovely weekend, with generally nice weather, if a bit warm and sunny some days. I certainly got more sun than usual, even with my sunscreen and parasol at the ready.

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We left on a Friday evening from work and did not meet much traffic, so we pulled up to the bed and breakfast a bit after 7 p.m. I had phoned ahead to make sure someone would be there to meet us if we were later than 8, and to save us a plate of food so we wouldn’t have to stop for dinner. But because we arrived before the restaurant closed, we were able to sit down to a nice family-style meal, complete with a glass of local wine for me and beer for Boyfriend. It was a lovely beginning to our weekend, and we got to our cottage relaxed and happy.

The next morning, we had our breakfast in the kitchen room of the main B&B house. It started with porridge, fruit, and tea, and then continued on with a big plate of cheesy eggs and bacon and toasted homemade bread with strawberry jam. The jam was obviously homemade as well, as it tasted incredibly fresh. I don’t generally prefer strawberry jam, but I enjoyed it very much. From there, we spent the day hiking around the historical park, doing plenty of walking. Although the clouds became rather dramatic at times, we did not get rained upon, although our feet were quite sore.

We ended up walking all the way around the north part of the park and back into town, where we got sandwiches for lunch at a little French-themed cafe, and then took the car back to the B&B to rest and clean up before dinner. Dinner was at the historic Farnsworth House, where we ate at the tavern before going on a ghost tour. The tours are given by guides in historical dress, and focus a lot on history, but devote plenty of time to the modern stories of paranormal encounters. I’m not too proud to admit, I felt a few chills while we sat in the haunted attic of the house.

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Sunday, after a casual breakfast in our room of sticky buns and blueberry muffins, we spend the morning touring the various wineries and cideries in the area. The countryside was stunning, particularly with the trees so laden with ripening apples. We bought plenty of wine and some cider to tide us over until we can get this year’s batch fermenting.

From there, we went back into town, where we had lunch at an Irish pub. It was rather upscale pub food, and I enjoyed my Scotch egg, fish and chips, and Murphy’s with relish. I was excited to see they offered “a wee bit of fish and chips” and 10 oz. beers for those of us with smaller appetites. Duly fortified, we ventured back into the historical park to walk around the south part of the park. Sadly, the hiking trails are far less well maintained, with the most care taken to keep up the newly paved driving tour route, so we spent much of our time walking along the road instead of braving the somewhat deserted trails. I found it sad that the roads so greatly reduced the number of walkers on the trails, with people preferring to drive up to the landmarks, get out of their cars for a few minutes, and then get back in and continue driving. But we enjoyed our walk, and I got a lovely panoramic view from the observation tower.

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Two days of so much walking and sunshine left us ready to head out on Monday after breakfast on the deck of the main B&B house. But it was a lovely weekend!

Weekend Crafting and Historical Exploration

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I had a lovely, relaxing weekend, this weekend. I started off on Friday evening by having some friends over to play board games and share a nice fall meal. I made my standby butternut squash pasta casserole, along with mini cheesecakes to celebrate a friend who had a birthday last week. It was simple, but delicious and certainly fortified us for an evening of fun games. It also served to soak up some of the cocktails we poured.

And then on Saturday, I went to my aerials class, and then just relaxed. I puttered around in the kitchen with some crafts. I recently ordered all the butters and oils and beeswax I need to make lip balms and lotion bars for holiday gifts, but I receive a small sample of cocoa butter in the order. I also recently bought some babassu oil for soaping, but discovered it could be a lovely balm ingredient as well. So I mixed up a couple of experimental batches. The cocoa butter was just enough to make one tube of lip balm. I mixed it with beeswax and some hazelnut oil to make a chocolate-hazelnut lip balm, although it smells only lightly of cocoa butter.

Then, I mixed up a slightly larger batch of babassu oil, mango butter, and beeswax to try out as both a lip balm and a lotion bar. I poured most out into an empty deodorant container (clean, of course) to use as a body butter, and then also was able to fill five lip balm tubes. The babassu oil melts at just below body temperature so it rolls on smoothly, but soaks in rapidly, so the skin is not left feeling greasy. I used some of it after shaving last evening, and found it left my skin feeling velvety, not oily. Boyfriend especially appreciated it, as when I use a soft balm in a jar, I tend to apply too much and my lovely smooth legs get a little greasy.

From there, I decided to make another batch of soap. This one used tallow, coconut oil, and olive oil to make a lovely, simple bar. I increased my super fat just a tad, as I’ve found my recently-tested first batch to be a touch drying. And I added oatmeal and calendula to the soap batter for an extra skin-soothing touch. They rested in my craft room for a couple days and I unmolded them this morning. My crafting room shelves are certainly filling up with soaps and balms!

I also used Saturday to just rest and relax and make a big batch of butternut squash and sweet potato soup for my lunches this week. The soup comes together quickly, simmers for a while, and blitzes up in the blender with very little effort. And soup and a cheese sandwich will be a nice early-fall lunch.

After such a relaxing Saturday, I went out on Sunday. I went downtown and spent the day at the National Museum of American History, where I browsed their new Innovation wing. There, I learned about all the inventions we take for granted that really changed the world. I was fascinated that they chose to include things like alarm clocks and deodorant along side exhibits about televisions and computers. And they had an entire exhibit about how ready-to-wear clothing changed the way people dressed and how the poor could move upwards in society. A truly neat look at how the early 20th century changed our social structure.

But the day spent on my feet meant I was particularly glad to come home to Boyfriend’s vegetarian chili and a nice hot bath for my Sunday evening beauty ritual!

The Ghost in Our Room

This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, as I don’t actually believe our room is haunted. You see, for the last year, I’ve noticed that the light coming through our bedroom window shines on the far wall, near the door of our bedroom, and takes the vague shape of a person standing there. It startles me in the middle of the night.

But I don’t want to put up dark curtains or a shade to block the light because I like having sunlight in the morning. Also, our bedroom light fixture burned out shortly after we moved in and we’ve never been able to find a replacement bulb that fits. So I like having a lot of natural light; I just don’t like the streetlights shining in.

And in some strange way, it’s almost like this false ghost is becoming a real comforting presence. Whenever I start in the middle of the night, I can remind myself that anything I think I saw or heard is probably nothing, like the ghost. We’ve even taken to calling the reverse-shadow “the ghost.” As in, “we have to go something about the ghost,” or “it’s just the ghost” when I wake up panicked.

So now I wonder, what if I were to come up with a story about the ghost who watches us benignly from the doorway of our bedroom? I’ve always said that our room might have originally been meant to be the children’s room because it is large enough to house a couple of bunk beds. Perhaps the gentle presence is some long-forgotten mother who wanders our little historical town and peeks in the doorways of bedrooms to make sure those inside are safe. It’s a nice thought, and somehow turns a ghost from a frightening presence to a comforting one.

It is foolish, I realize, to make up a story about a patch of light reflecting on the wall. But it’s there every night as I try to fall asleep, and ghost stories are ultimately stories about history, which are so interesting.