Sunshine

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Well, the burning (no pun) question is whether summer has officially come and gone in the UK?!?! A week of temperatures (and matching humidity) over 30c and the country was good and baked.

This summer, I’m in Las Vegas (hello, overdose on vitamin D). In all the years of going to Las Vegas, I’ve never ever never visited in the summer. I don’t like extreme heat, and I certainly don’t like sustained temperatures of 35c+ (100F+) for days on end. The first week I was here, it was ok and I thought I’d survive. Within a week, triple digits! 40c+ and I was dying. (How deceptive does that header photo look, temperature wise?)

I don’t care about it being a “dry heat” – it’s HOT. I’m taking one of the dogs out for walks at 6-630am and that’s the only walk we get for the day because it’s not safe to be out. No evening walks because even at 930-10pm the temperatures are still in the low 100s (upper 30s). Thankfully, there’s a smart thermostat in the house and surprisingly, it’s set at a very, very conservative 80-82F.

The other problem with Las Vegas? Ignoring the fact that my life is not a huge pool party with a cabana or dance club adventure that lasts until 3am every night, I come in two colours – white and red. I burn very easily. First purchases, 2 straw hats from Nordstrom. I saved a tonne purchasing them during the half-yearly sale, and hopefully, they’ll be more stylish whilst still shading me (the cotton baseball hat I’d normally wear was making my head sweat too much).

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Next purchase – sunscreen. What kind? I generally buy SPF30 or SPF50. I love Australian Gold simply because of the smell – and reminds me of my first visit to Las Vegas years ago and I stayed at Treasure Island (TI). I purchased the one with the built in bronzer (I need all the help I can get). (Hawaiian Tropic is another that smells great and the oil that all the cool girls used – think it was probably SPF -2 back in the day!)

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At Target, I grabbed a bottle of Pacifica SPF50. Pacifica is an all-natural brand, and this has no sulphates, no phthalates, no parabens, etc. and is mineral based, leaping bunny product. It comes out of the can white, so you do have to rub it in a bit. The smell is supposedly coconut, but I think it smells like white birthday cake.

And last, at Trader Joe’s I picked up their own brand of SPF50. Super affordable $5.99 price too! It doesn’t really have a scent at all, and what I like about it – it sprays clear! So, when walking Flash in the morning, I’ll spray some on my hands, then wipe down his ears and the bridge of his nose. White dogs can sunburn too!

You can’t have too much sunscreen right? I’ve probably had three really bad burns in my life (typical) and growing up, you didn’t really cover yourself in sunscreen like you do today. It was almost a badge of honour to have that super red, peeling, lobster skin, right? Bad field day in 8th grade and my shoulders were toasted beyond belief; summer on a boat rental in Lake of the Ozarks and my face was cracked, oiled, and horrid like a basted Thanksgiving turkey; and college graduation lunch – Annapolis, Maryland – eating crabs at Cantler’s on the water with no hat. My head got so sunburnt it hurt to wash and brush my hair for a few weeks.

Regardless of where you’re spending your summer, whether locally or abroad, buy a hat and wear sunscreen. You’ll thank yourself years from now.

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English Heritage Day Trip

Back in the autumn, I waxed lyrical about my English Heritage membership and all the historic sites across the country you can visit… Well, in the newsletter they email out, I learned Wrest Park (Bedfordshire) was hosting the largest St. George’s Day festival in the country! For a nominal fee (on top of the membership fee), we could go and enjoy all sorts of activities over the weekend! Even better – if tickets were pre-purchased online, you could save an additional 10% – excellent.

So, what did we do? There were a tonne of “living history” re-enactments – everything from Vikings and Romans who lived in England long ago, to Medieval/Renaissance knights and folk, Crusaders, and 18th-century lords and ladies! Plenty of food choices (though an equal amount of people brought picnics as the weather turned nice), activities for kids of all ages, falconry demonstrations, the ability to enjoy the amazing grounds and gardens, and the house was open as well!

My dad really enjoyed it – he’s still talking about it! For Americans, since there’s no “national holiday” like we’re used to with 4th of July celebrations, this was a fun substitute. I even got a little St. George’s Cross flag for that patriotic vibe!

Overhearing a worker when I was having lunch, I learned Wrest Park was expecting 9,000 – 10,000 visitors over the 2-day event! Easily comparable to many of the Civil War or Revolutionary War re-enactment events you’ll find on the east coast of the US.

There are over 300 English Heritage sites to visit across the country – a membership can easily pay for itself in about 4-6 visits.

Best Gift

Hopefully, everyone had a nice relaxing Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year?!?

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So the best Christmas gift I got was a membership to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. While the museum is normally free for standing exhibits, they do charge a fee for special exhibits. As a member, I’ll be able to get to see all the special exhibits as part of my membership! I won’t lie – I really wanted a contributing membership, but a standard membership will work too.

If you’ve never been to the V&A, go! Go immediately! The easiest tube stop is High Street Kensington (Circle/District) and follow the signs, or it’s an easy walk from Knightsbridge (Piccadilly) if you take the exit for Harrods. They have an amazing collection of Medieval and Renaissance art and sculpture, including the entire front of a building that survived the London fire of 1666. They have amazing fashion through the ages (did you see the shoes exhibit last summer or Alexander McQueen?) as well as Middle Eastern art that will blow your mind!

This weekend, I’m headed down to see Opus Angelicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery which is on through 5 February.

 

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Seal Bag, about 1280, England (c) Westminster Abbey: photo courtesy V&A Museum website

 

City Techie – the results

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Here are (some of) the photos from the workshop I took at Apple Covent Garden store today! I learned a few new tips & tricks for the phone I never knew about previously – which came in handy. I was really impressed with the 4 gentlemen from Apple who guided about 10 of us around various locations near Covent Garden (and answered all our questions), and I got a tonne of pictures!

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On the ghost front, I learned there are lots that haunt the theatre district, including WWI soldiers, a man who was stabbed to death, severed heads, Charles Dickens’ old publishing warehouse, Diagon Allen (yep, like from Harry Potter), and so much more! It made for a very interesting time too, because our little group was out on a rather balmy Saturday with typical London scenes, tourists, the theatre crowds in the evening, AND all the Halloween craziness I never thought I’d see outside the US!

Extra bonus – the city walk tour/workshop is not a one-off! Apparently, Apple does these events at least twice a month and so does the shop on Regent Street; Cambridge is starting them too! The next one is a Charles Dickens theme on 2 November! (I sooooo wish I was able to go but I’m packing for a trip to the US!)

 

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London from the Waterloo Bridge at dusk

 

 

Welcome!

After much contemplation, I finally decided to start a (new) blog. I had a tiny blog, years ago when blog posting was in its infancy and long before Facebook and other social media became popular. It faded after so many changes in my life, but I have decided to revive it here with a new focus and direction. Life changes, right?

So why “covered in dog fluff?” It is, literally, the story of my life at this point. I am always covered in it. I had cats for years, and now, I have greyhounds. Three greyhounds. Specifically, two white greyhounds. White greyhounds that shed more than a Persian cat in July. White greyhounds that leave me constantly battling fluff all over my house and everything I own! All. The. Time.

How do you have nice things when you’re always covered in fluff? How do you try and get dressed in the morning (wearing black or dark clothes) when you’re covered in fluff so embedded it is impossible to remove with a lint roller?

Fluff aside, products here are things I like, love, and actually use. Trips are places I have been and recommend. Clothes and living are things I like, think are practical, or just new adventures and, hopefully, a good value for the money. Food is picky, often simple, generally comforting, mostly healthy, and not at all trendy. There are even days when sustenance is just a sack of liquorice and copious amounts of very strong black tea!

So, grab a cup of your favourite whatever, even while you multi-task on other things, and enjoy…

-Cindi

 

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Left to Right: Angus, Flash, and Ruby

 

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