Being a stay-at-home person

Being a stay-at-home person for most normal people is 70% awesome and 30% meh.

For normal people the separation from their co-workers, and the lack of social interaction in general, causes them a great deal of misery and depression. For me, it’s not an issue. I am a solitary person. If it wasn’t for my husband, I could go months, even years, without speaking in person to another human being. Except maybe a thank you or please to people who need it. No conversation though.

For normal people, getting up in the morning at a reasonable hour is also something they find difficult – for me, it’s not, as I have so many reasons and motivations: firstly, my husband gets up early and I get up with him so that I can make him breakfast, and pack his lunch (yes, we’re old school – and we’re good with it) and I also feed my dogs (two of them have to eat early in order to prevent acid reflux which causes them to vomit if they have an empty stomach for too long) and take them outside for a quick piddle break. So I have no CHOICE really, but to get up at a reasonable hour to start my day. Usually, during the week, the dogs and I go back to bed after their breakfast and husband has left for work. It’s an hour or so of a nice nap to prepare for the day. Then we get up and go for our long morning walk, which lasts anything from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on where we go and what we do.

This leads me to another issue that normal people seem to have with working from home (or being a stay-at-home person) and that’s getting out of your pajamas. Once again, thanks to the dogs, I don’t have a choice in the matter. I have to get up, get dressed in clothes that I can be seen in out in public. and head out. I also do the grocery shopping, generally, and that involves being in public, so I definitely wear reasonably acceptable clothes for that too. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, so it’s not difficult. I also have a capsule wardrobe which mostly consists of clothes that I can wear both on a dog walk AND at the store!

Normal people also complain about their eating schedules – I don’t really have that issue. I eat breakfast after feeding the dogs “second breakfast” when we get back from our long walk. This is any time from 0930 to 1030, depending on how long the walk was. So I’m pretty full right up until around 1400 or so. I have something small (soup, a sandwich, cereal) for my “lunch” and then the next time I eat is when I make dinner for my husband and I. I think it works for me, as it stops me from “snacking” all day and eating junk food. If I am bored, I eat. So this meal schedule helps me keep the weight off.

I also have the Bird Bar, as we call it, to take care of. And my plants and herbs and flowers need watering as well.

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I have to admit that I have become a bit of a “social commenter” on Facebook, much to my disgust. I realised this today, after reading an article about this subject (working from home) and finding that only a few of the items listed actually concerned me. There are a couple of groups on Facebook that I check daily, a few times. I have made some lovely friends and learned some very helpful and interesting things there.

 

But other than that – I love being a stay-at-home person. When I am done with school, and I begin actual work, I don’t think my routine will change much. Perhaps a little less time on breaks and more time working (my work will be time sensitive) and completing things in a timely manner.

Sometimes being a little odd and being a loner is pretty useful. It helped me through long periods of separation with my husband too, while he was on the other side of the world. I’m a self-sustaining person. If I have no interaction with humans, I am just fine. I don’t get miserable or depressed. i don’t get anxious or desperate for another human voice. If I want to hear people speaking, I simply watch one of my favourite tv shows. I talk to my dogs, yes. I talk to them a lot. I don’t find that strange. Sometimes they help me, simply by listening, to sort through things or work out ideas. And anyone who says that dogs can’t have a conversation has not spent enough time with them. 🙂

My dogs are interacting with me in many ways, all the time. You just have to be aware of it, and be willing to let go of human conversation rules. My dogs have taught me a lot about silence.

Like the silence of the forests we walk in – that silence that’s made up of all the sounds of the forest at once. I love that. I gives me great serenity and fills my body with energy and inspiration and I can get on with my day. I find days that I don’t walk in the forest with my dogs, are days when I am physically tired, and I struggle to concentrate on my school work. It’s no coincidence, I feel.

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Capsule Wardrobe Update

Here’s a little update on my Capsule Wardrobe experience so far!

  • My capsule wardrobe, it works! It’s made my life a lot easier. I know exactly what I have to wear and I waste no time choosing it in the morning.
  • Even when I include my workout and dog walking clothes, my capsule item count is lower than I thought it would be.
  • If I do my best to keep everything in the same place after it’s washed and folded, my cupboard is so neat and tidy it’s so awesome.
  • I have barely anything to do when it comes to laundry time! I have so few items and I wear them through the week (I have enough capsule items for that) that I only have to do one load on the weekend. That’s pretty cool, and energy efficient.
  • My new outlook on my wardrobe has even encouraged my husband to tidy his side of the cupboard! He hasn’t gotten rid of anything, but his wardrobe is pretty minimal already, being an army man. He has a lot of tshirts, but that’s it really.

I still haven’t taken the boxes to the thrift store – I need to check when I’m allowed to bring in items for consignment. I want to make SOMETHING out of this. Even if it’s just a little bit. 

We took all the extra dog stuff (ended up being a large cardboard box full) to the nearest local animal shelter and they were grateful, but I was expecting a LITTLE bit more excitement, I have to admit. I mean I didn’t want a parade or streamers or anything! But a “Thanks, this will make the dogs happy!” would have been nice. We got a nod, a “yes, that’s nice” when I showed them some of the cool stuff in the box and then they wandered off. I know they’re busy but if you rely on public donations etc… a little bit more… public interaction would work, is what I guess I’m trying to say. ENTHUSIASM. That’s the word I’m looking for. They were grateful, but not particularly enthusiastic. I think that’s what kinda got to me a little bit. HOWEVER, I do understand the sad realities of animal shelters and working there. The sad truth behind the daily grind – finding food, cleaning cages, watching dogs and cats pine for owners who abandoned them, or shut down from years of abuse, or being overlooked because they’re quiet and shy. And the golden oldies being ignored for the cute little puppies or kittens. It gets to your heart after a while. I do understand this. I did a lot of work with shelters, I know what it’s like. So while I understand the jaded numbness, perhaps taking the enthusiasm from the person offering things and feeling a LITTLE brighter about it all, just in that moment.. that might work?  I greatly respect and admire people who volunteer and work for places like that. I know it’s hard. I wish I could win the lottery and give them all a HUGE donation. Or buy a huge farm with a big warm house and lots of land and high fences so I could adopt ALL the animals (goats, chickens, sheep and everything else too) and let them live out their lives in a sanctuary with freedom. It’s a big dream.

 

In other news:

Blue Apron

We got our first Blue Apron delivery on Saturday morning! We’ve prepared two of the three meals already and tonight we will make the final dish I think. We made the first meal together, and I made the second meal (pasta) for his lunch on Monday. It was definitely outside our comfort zone, but we stuck to the recipe instructions exactly and it all turned out great. If you ever get the chance and/or inclination – give Blue Apron a try… It’s exciting (and a little terrifying!) diving in like that, but the recipes are pretty easy to follow and they give you ALL the ingredients already measured out perfectly.

 

Capsule wardrobe update

Capsule wardrobe fiddling

 

I did it! I overcame my natural instincts to cling to everything, to hang on to everything “just in case” and to keep things that are sentimental or that someone gave me and I felt bad giving away.

I did another mighty clothing purge a week ago and got rid of ANOTHER full box of clothes! 

When I get a chance, I will take it all (consolidated, of course) to the local thrift shop and see about getting a consignment for it all 🙂 That would be awesome, if I could make some money from it. I could maybe make back some money from all the expenditures I’ve made recently (or should I say, my dear husband has made) for my jewelry business.

Most capsule wardrobes are 33 to 42 items, with the majority fixing on 37 items for some reason.

I haven’t counted my capsule wardrobe yet, but it’s most likely in the 40 to 42 range, if I exclude (which you are supposed to) sleep clothes and workout clothes. If you don’t count socks and undies, then I’m in even better shape! 😀

I was very strict in my choices, and I tried EVERYTHING on and decided how many other items it would go with, as is suggested by the capsule wardrobe gurus.  I found that a lot of the hand-me-down items given to me really didn’t suit me, if I was honest with myself – and I felt this was a good time to be honest! Trying to build my personal style got so much easier as I found what I really liked, what fitted me well, what went with at least 2 other things versus the stuff I was just hanging on to for some strange guilt excuse (Given to me! Got it free! I would feel terrible if they knew I had just put it in a box to give away!) or something like that. Your capsule wardrobe is meant to be filled with your absolute favourite pieces of clothing – the ones you can’t live without, that make you look and feel good whenever you wear them. I also added “make me feel comfortable” to my list of things I wanted for my capsule.

So here are a couple of shots of my TEENY TINY CAPSULE WARDROBE!
Everything to the left of that black bag hanging there, and above and below it. Now this also includes my running/dog walking/workout clothes and my sleep clothes (pajamas and comfy items that I don’t generally wear out the house)

 

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That’s really not a lot of stuff, now that I look more closely at the photos. Especially excluding socks, undies, workout/exercise/comfy clothes. I should really go and count them all, right?

 

In building my capsule wardrobe and general personal style idea, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. It’s a magical place. There are so many different ideas floating around, so many boards on just about anything you can think of, it’s actually a little bit overwhelming! I could spend hours on there. That’s something I would NEVER have thought I would EVER say! It’s a bit scary, really! But in seriousness, I’ve found many great links through it – not just for style, but for other things I am interested in as well. Plus, I use it extensively for my Chloe and Isabel online boutique marketing.

If you have any questions, or suggestions, feel free to comment.

 

 

Teeny Tiny teeny TEENY tiny capsule wardrobe

For the last few months (even before we left Germany) I’ve been pondering the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I had a lot of clothes, mostly given to me by awesome people when I had nothing – but only a few items that I actually chose for myself and brought with me from back home in South Africa. 90% of what I had was not really my “style” and as I have been pondering and thinking and formulating and percolating the idea of what my style actually is I have come to the realisation that I can live with a lot less, but still have a sense of classic style. That’s what my style is – old school, not vintage per say (but I DO love vintage 30’s 40’s and 50’s obviously, however I’m not really built for them) but the old classics and pieces that never really go out of fashion. I like comfortable, simple and clean lines, and now that I’ve lost weight I can wear pretty much all the things I like. Thing is, I don’t own a lot of the things I like – I have things that other people liked, but they gave to me. I’m not ungrateful – that’s totally not what I mean – I’m simply stating how things turned out.

When our HHG arrived, I made my first task a “layout” of everything. Absolutely EVERYTHING I owned. That included shoes (most of them I had never worn, as they were just a TINY bit too big for me or I’d never had an occasion to wear them… or they were just NOT my style and I took them anyway because who doesn’t like free stuff, right?) and underwear and scarves and everything else. I got rid of at least 70% of the things I had. I learned in my research on capsule wardrobes, that your “exercise” stuff, and your “fancy” stuff and your “sleep” stuff are not included in the capsule count – this made me happy, as I have a lot of exercise clothes, thanks to my previous horse riding and dog walking “jobs” and my current 3 dog circus daily walking.

I also decided, 1 week after our HHG arrived, to go through everything one more time and get rid of more jerseys, sweatshirts and jackets. My mother in law was visiting at the time and she took a few tops and things that were her style, or her sister’s and even a piece for her mother (that just tells you that the items I had really were NOT “me” hey?) so that helped me too. The rest all went into a donate box which is CHOCKA BLOCK full of stuff now. I’m quite proud of myself, actually. If I force myself, I think might even be able to cut it down some more – but if I do that, I need to know that I can buy the pieces I WANT at that time, so I’m holding off on that until I’ve made some money with my Chloe and Isabel boutique. I want to be able to do these things on my terms, with my own money. I feel so guilty using my husband’s money! I know he says “what’s mine is yours!” but it still irks me. I used to earn my own way. It’s hard to rely on someone else COMPLETELY for things. Just really hoping my jewelry sales take off, because that would be totally awesome. Word of mouth works way better than trying to market yourself to a new audience all the time. I know this well from my photography days. I never even put out a flyer. I had business cards, for a while, but mostly it was just word of mouth from happy riders that got my name out there. I don’t know ANYONE here, and not being on Facebook is (and I admit this very grudgingly) somewhat of a road bump in all this. But I’m not going back to it. Nuh uh.

Now that I have unfettered access to Joann’s and Hobby Lobby and every other fabric and sewing store imaginable, I can also start buying the proper things to MAKE what I want! Vintage or otherwise – I have patterns for just about everything I need. I just need to get going. In the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf – JUST DO IT!

No more pansy ass procrastination! No more excuses! No more “tomorrow I will” putting it off. TODAY! TODAY! TODAY!

 

Adventures in Americaland: Part Bee

And in this adventure story, there will be hurricanes, DNA results, surgeries, Lyme disease, new old cars, a road trip to the rural South of Georgia, new opportunities, broken things, fixed things and lots and lots of boxes.

Adventures in Georgia - Tip of the Hurricane

First – the hurricane. If you are even vaguely aware of the weather around the world, you would have seen in the news the swath of destruction left behind by Hurricane Joaquim. Luckily for us, it focused its rage on South Carolina, and we only got the tail/tip – but it was pretty heavy even then. Pouring, driving rain for 5 days straight, windy and ranging from very cold and wet to very warm and wet. Strange times. The dogs and I got soaked, generally (I went through a lot of socks) as I wasn’t keeping them indoors anymore, because we were in the middle of discovering/mentally mapping our neighbourhood and checking out all the walk routes we had on offer. Note: there are LOADS of different routes, some nicer than others, some to be avoided in the mornings (too many kiddies on the way to school “OOH PUPPIESCANIPATTHEMCANICANIOMGTHEYBARKED *cue the screaming* and also the forest paths are lovely but best avoided in the early morning and early evening as that’s when the deer come out… and thus.. the hunters. Seriously.) and others to be avoided around lunch time as that’s when people come home during their lunch hour and feel it’s fine to just kick the dog out and “let them be” outside. No lead. No tether. No watchful eye. Nada. Odin does NOT like this idea and we’ve had a few frothing snarling snapping sessions while I drag him down the road, accompanied by barking (excited) Azzie and growling and barking (protective) Gina. Tim (from BH) was right: there was a great deal of “regression” for Odin in his behaviour, but he seems to be coming right now. It’s much easier to remove him from a situation than it was when we first got here – he was a monster. *Deep breath* I don’t even want to think about that first week.

 

Speaking of Odin! His DNA test results (thank you Wisdom Panel) came back today! And we were TOTALLY WRONG about the breeds he has in him! No Greyhound whatsoever (of any type) or Border Collie for that matter. Guess what he is? German Shepherd…. and… Irish Red and White Setter… AND… wait for it… Keeshond! Yes, you heard me… Keeshond! We were NOT expecting that one! Not sure where that falls in with his traits and behaviours and looks… but there you have it. He’s truly a mix and match, our gentle boy. I was on the right track with his training though – they are all tracking/hunting/search dogs, and of course GSH love agility too, so we’ve got him right there. Now we just need to find a local area to practice/socialise him again. And the girls.

Adventure Dog Odin - German Shepherd Dog, Red and White Setter, Keeshond
German Shepherd, Red and White Setter, Keeshond. Who knew?

I finally bit the bullet and bought the training collars… tone and vibrate only. We’re going to test it on ourselves first anyway, and then decide HOW and WHEN we will use them. Azzie will get one as well (I bought the 2 pack) to help curb her various naughty habits. We’ve tried everything else and she just ignores it and does what she wants, so I think this will work. I’ve been consistent. I’ve been patient – but over 2 years and she’s still doing her own thing, despite my best efforts? Yeah. Time for a new angle, right? I would never hurt my dogs – let me just state that right up front – but for distance training (for Odin) and catching Azzie in the exact moment of her bad habit (various ones!) will be much easier with this option. I’m still reading every bit of literature I can find on training using the collars, and we will only begin when we feel totally sure of what we are doing. My dogs are too precious to me to mess it up by just wading in and learning as we “go along” kind of thing. Nuh uh.

Precious dogs being Bernese, we keep a watchful eye out for lumps and bumps… and we found two (and now THREE) on Azzie, of various sizes. So on Friday morning last week she went in for surgery to have them removed. She didn’t go under – she was heavily sedated though, because she’s wriggly – but there was a heavy local anesthetic in the affected areas. She came through fine, none the worse for wear. The incision on her back is quite large, and for some reason the vet missed a stitch.. so there’s a little gap between two of them (6 stitches altogether) which we are keeping a close eye on for infection. She’s handling it well – I trimmed the excess hair around the edges of the shaved part, as it was tickling her and making her lick/scratch the area – and has been 80% good about not messing with the surgery areas. The one on her front leg is healing very quickly (only 1 stitch) and she has totally stopped licking that one now. She goes back to have the stitches removed in just under 2 weeks time. We MIGHT have to go in earlier if it gets infected, despite our best efforts. Here’s hoping they hold out until then.

Adventure Dog Azzie - Bernese Mountain Dog
Azzie ponders things in the back of the minivan

My other precious Bernese, Gina, got a faint positive for Lyme disease before we left Germany, so the vet there suggested (strongly) that we get her tested again when we settle in here. So we did. Took over a week for the results (they do off site testing, unlike Germany) and it came back with another faint positive – so she either HAD Lyme disease (which is totally likely with the HORRIBLE ticks we had in Baumholder, who were seemingly impervious to anti-tick stuff!) at one point recently, or currently has it. Either way, she is being treated now and hopefully no damage has been done to her (already delicate) kidneys. Also hoping it will clear up the random lameness issue she has. It should, if it’s Lyme related.

Adventure Dog Gina - Bernese Mountain Dog
My sweet girl

In our urgent quest for a reliable and suitable second hand car (before our rental had to be returned) we have traveled far and wide around Georgia. One of our trips was far out into the country to view a comfy and well loved and used 4Runner. We headed down toward a place called Lincolnton and a road called Lincoln. This was the real South, people. The one you see in the movies and on TV shows about farmers and small towns. White fences, huge acres of grass, big drooping Willow trees, horses, cows, beloved old trucks kept in mint condition, combine harvesters, rolls of wheat resting in cropped down pastures, men and women sitting with their dogs on the porch and enjoying the afternoon light and the sweet smells from the Sweetpea flowers. Idyllic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. The light was absolutely gorgeous and I wished I had brought Bertha along. Little Ziggy (my purple point and shoot) did just fine though and I got some lovely shots as we drove through back roads and tree lined avenues that went on for miles and miles in one direction. It was a serene trip, there and back, and we had comfortable silences and many interesting and amusing conversations. We didn’t bring the dogs on this one, as there wasn’t much space in the back of the small rental car (we swapped it out a few days before – got rid of the minivan, as we didn’t need it anymore) for them to relax on a long trip like that. We checked out the 4runner, but it was a little TOO worn for our liking (knobs and things missing, bits falling off, and an unsettling smell that we couldn’t quite narrow down) and we thanked the VERY nice people and headed back home. Dogs were thrilled to see us of course. A few days later we went to check out an SUV (also an older one) and that was even more “well worn” – but luckily the man who was sorting the sale out for his elderly neighbour said “well I have this car here that we’ve done up and we’re selling” and we walked across the road to have a look at an older Honda Accord Station Wagon. We liked her, the moment we saw her… but we still had others to check out, so we drove her a bit, had a think and said we would get back to him. We then checked out a whole bunch of other cars and it all came down to a choice between a younger Honda Civic and this older station wagon. It was a difficult choice, but in the end a vast array of Pros in favour of the station wagon won out and we purchased her two days later. The Georgia DMV – Augusta one, anyway – is rather nice 🙂 We had no issues and soon we had plates, and license, and registration and then we had to think of a name. It took a few days, but we settled on Daisy. As in… driving Miss Daisy. She’s adorable and the dogs are LOVING all the space in the back! We’ve been giving her lots of TLC (new tyres, new sparks, etc etc) and she’s giving us back a smooth easy ride. Match made. Happy us.

Adventure car - Miss Daisy Adventure car - Miss Daisy

Before we even left Germany we were on the look out for a washer and dryer (they don’t come with the house furnishings, unfortunately) and we found a set for a good price. We asked the reason for the good price and we were told that the dryer “just needed a starter button” and it was good to go. Lies. LIES! We’ve changed the starter button, changed the thermal fuse, tested all the wiring with a (newly purchased) volt meter and WE STILL CANNOT GET THE DAMN DRYER TO WORK! So it’s been “hang it outside on sunny days” old school laundry for us. The Sears serviceman was meant to come and check it out this morning, but they called and changed the date so we’re without a dryer for ANOTHER week. Meh. Hopefully it stays sunny for the next few days so we can get some laundry dry.

At least the washer works well.

My DIY husband handyman has fixed a few things in the house on his own, and when our shelves arrived with our HHG, he also (with a tiny bit of help.. seriously, hardly any help from me – I just held things and handed them to him) put them up and anchored them like a pro. Very proud of his handiwork!

A long time ago I had a chat with a friend about ways to make money while being a stay at home wife and fur mother, herbalist, photographer and seamstress but also contribute to my awesome family in more ways (especially financial) I have found many things and done many things. Where we were living before (Germany) made it quite difficult to get green things going and maintain them (and we had no garden and anything I grew in pots had to remain behind when we left… which we did, just over 2 weeks ago. It was hard saying goodbye to Persephone, Bob, George, Terence & Phillip, and the little Bamboos, but we found them a good home with a lovely German lady who will take good care of them all) and my other hobbies and potential income avenues (vintage inspired clothing and photography) were not allowed on the military post. Long story. But NOW… now we are back in the Land of the Free, and I can once again pick up the reins of these various projects and I’m very excited. I’ve also added two more ways to add to the family income. One is a virtual assistant site that I am a proud member of (Fancy Hands, if anyone is interested) and the other… wow… the other is even more exciting. I’ve been accepted as a Merchandiser for the rather cool, clever and fashion forward company chloe + isabel.

Adventures in Jewelry - Chloe and Isabel

Now those who have known me since I was younger might be a little surprised at this (for a few reasons) and why I am so keen and excited about this opportunity. They perhaps thought I was too much of a tomboy to be “fashionable”, but I was always interested in fashion (even tried my hand at fashion design, much to my mother’s horror) but could never afford anything that I wanted and never had the tools to make anything properly. Or the patience, I will admit. I’ve always had very expensive taste (something I share with my mother and now my husband as well) and my idea of style was classic and elegant. (I’m an Isabel, according to the Friendship Philosophy of Chloe and Isabel) A complete opposite to what I wore (wear still…) when I was not in school uniform. Audrey Hepburn type of style: effortless, simple, classy and never going out of fashion. I secretly (and not so secretly) collected Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and any other fashion magazine I could get my hands on. Didn’t matter if it was 10 years old or 10 minutes. I’m not sure what happened after that (don’t remember – thanks head injury) that made me stop dreaming, but there were many years of quiet introspection where I “made do” with what I had and never really looked beyond my comfortable, useful and simple daily clothes. Work or weekend, I wore the same kind of thing. To be fair, I rode horses, walked dogs and stood around at events taking photos for 8 or 9 hours at a time, so comfortable was pretty key in what I wore.

The last few years, after marrying my gorgeous and awesome husband, I’ve started trying to develop my “style” – in between walking dogs of course. I’ve looked at starting a capsule wardrobe (after I learned that you don’t include “exercise” clothing or pajamas in the count! WOO!) and was looking at Stitch Fix as an option as well, but have since had a look at my wardrobe contents and I think I can make something out of what I already own, PLUS I will have all these GORGEOUS accessories from chloe and isabel!

jewelry adventures and why I love my branch necklace

Now to the point of this: moving to the States, settling into our little home and not having to move for a few years has made me realise that NOW is the time to start this: fresh clean slate, new me, new style, new attitude. I think that Chloe + Isabel is that kick in the bottom I need. I’m very excited about this!

When our household goods arrived two days ago (and with it, my clothes and shoes) I have been brutally honest and begun the process of paring it down to a few classic and timeless items that I can mix and match. The rest will go to charity/thrift shop. My mum is also going to send me what’s left of my stuff back home. It’s not a lot, but there are clothes there as well (I had to fit my life into two suitcases when I left home and moved to Germany to join my husband) and some shoes too (boots mostly, and riding things) and lots of books and music! I’m being positive about this all. I’m taking it all as a major opportunity to be the ME I’ve always wanted to be. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive husband as well. He makes all the difference. He said, “You have to spend money to make money, Andrea, so just do it.” I don’t want to let him down so I will be dedicated and try my UTMOST to make a success of this. I already have ideas, I have to admit, for things to do to get my name out there and start selling these beautiful pieces. Just have to get it all together. We’re still unpacking boxes from HHG, but we’re getting there and our house is beginning to look like a home already 🙂

I think that’s a good place to end Part Bee of the Adventure stories.

I’ll update more as it happens, of course.

Until then, thanks for reading!