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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Earthkind: #1 Pest Prevention and NATURAL!

Earthkind's Natural Pest Repellents
Thanks to Tryazon, a great sampling program, I recently had the opportunity to discover and test Earthkind's natural pest repellents, and host a "Facebook Live" party for them, and I have to say that my husband and I are Very impressed with their products! Our inn (and home), the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, is in Extremely Rural southern West Virginia, and pests have always been an issue "out here in the boonies"- in great measure because we cannot and will not use toxic, poisonous pesticides in our home/inn or on ourselves or our pets. We have pets, as well as guests with children, and we live here, and do not want to be constantly exposed to poisons, or risk our pets being poisoned. And so our options for pest control have been limited, and until we found Earthkind's products, not terribly successful. Every place has its share of pests: in NYC it was cockroaches and water bugs, in Florida No-See-Ums and Palmetto Bugs, in Israel it was giant, flying Egyptian "scarab" cockroaches... But West Virginia really takes the cake in the Pest Department: Some of the many pests we have had to deal with in our rural area for the last 19 years include: rodents, spiders, and moths, as well as pantry bugs, "stink bugs", "Ladybug Beetles", ticks, skeeters, chiggers, Japanese Beetles, and many others! The only "natural" and successful pest solution we ever had were our two rescue kitties, Caramel and Butterscotch, who were natural mousers, and who kept our building free of that issue for years, but our new kitty, Miss Chex, is NOT a mouser!  (She's a wonderful, sweet, and loving critter, but she has No Clue how to be a cat...) So we spent a Lot of money on "electronic" rodent repellents that did Not work, and used traps with only limited success: when the clever mice literally ate the bait out of our traps, DIY Dan created a weighted, spring "diving board" over a bucket of water, but even that didn't work: the little monsters figured out how to get to the bait without tripping the diving board! And the problem with traps is that if they Are successful, you then have to deal with Dead Pests, which is NOT fun... We just want them all to STAY AWAY!  So when I discovered Earthkind's "Stay Away" products, via Tryazon, and had the opportunity to learn about and test their products I jumped at the chance!
Earthkind's products are made with Essential Oils, so they not only work- and are GUARANTEED TO WORK- they smell GREAT!  
Today I officially joined 2020, LOL, and did my very first "Facebook Live Party" for Earthkind, and it was a success! In the process of setting up for the party and trying Earthkind's products, I learned a lot, not only about the products, and how to best use them, but also how to keep places as free of pests as possible.
Earthkind currently has 5 products: Stay Away Rodent, Stay Away Spiders, Stay Away Ants, Stay Away Moths, and Stay Away Mosquitoes- but they actually work to keep more than just those pests away!
Stay Away Rodent is made with Balsam Fir Oil, and, as with all the Stay Away pouches,  one packet will last from 1-3 months; when the scent diminishes, you know it's time to replace it. If you use their hanging Pouch Pod you can extend the life of the pouches, as the oils will evaporate slower. I learned from Earthkind that the scent of dog food is THE Number One attractant for rodents, and that putting dog food - and, actually, all foods- in a sealed container (as opposed to the boxes and bags they come in) will help reduce the problem!
Stay Away Spiders is made with Rosemary, Lemongrass, and Citronella Oils, and so it smells great, too! Earthkind suggests using one pouch per entryway, or two per room, and putting them in places where spiders like to hang out. I also learned from Earthkind that vibrations from music will help to keep your place spider-free- so crank up the radio! :-)  
Stay Away Ants is made with Lemongrass, Peppermint, and Thyme Oils, and you use one pouch per cupboard. Stay Away Ants has ALSO been used to keep German and American Cockroaches at bay- and they are a Huge problem in places like NYC!
Stay Away Moths is made with Cedarwood and Geranium Oils, and Geraniol, and you use one pouch per storage container or closet. We've lost more sweaters and other woolens to moths than I can count, so discovering Stay Away Moths was HUGE for us!  
Stay Away Mosquitoes is Earthkind's spray-on insect repellent, and it also works for ticks, biting flies, chiggers, and gnats, and has been used to keep no-see-ums away, too! It's made with Picaridin, a safe insect repellent that can be used by pregnant women and children. I will Definitely be using this in our garden this summer, and when we go ATVing to pick berries, as I am usually eaten alive by chiggers and skeeters, and constantly picking ticks of of us and our pets...

Earthkind's Blog has LOTS of great info on keeping pests at bay: https://www.earthkind.com/blog/

Since this party was all about bugs, I decided to make some Bug-Themed Appetizers and Drinks, to keep everyone amused, at least virtually: Tomato Ladybugs, two kinds of Mozzarella Mice, and a Spider Cocktail: 
Tomato Ladybugs
Mozzarella Mice
Mozzarella Ball Mice



My Spider Cocktail & "Stay Away Spiders"










Click here to see my "Facebook Live" presentation- it gets good at about the 5 minute mark, after I figured out what I was doing, LOL:  https://www.facebook.com/822334729/videos/10158336443609730/
Me, on Facebook Live!

















Do you have pest problems?
How do you deal with them?
Have you tried Earthkind's products? 
Let me know in the comments! 





Thursday, March 26, 2020

Railfanning the Caribbean: Barbados & St. Kitts!

Barbados Historic Steam Train
St. Kitts Railroad
As many of you know, Chef Dan and I have the Elkhorn Inn and Theatre, our historic inn, and we have a lot "railfan" guests, as the Inn is right across from the very busy Norfolk Southern "Pocahontas" railroad line; the Elkhorn Inn written up as "the best legal train watching location in the USA" in Railfan & Railroad magazine! Although we didn't know the world "railfan" until we bought our building, LOL, Dan and I have always enjoyed train travel, and we look forward to "riding the rails" on our travels around the world. I traveled throughout Europe by train in the 1970s as a student, and when I lived in Germany, 1988-1992, I traveled all over Germany and Europe on business exclusively by train as I didn't have a car! In my opinion, there is nothing nicer than sitting in the dining car, watching the world go by as you enjoy a nice meal or a glass of wine! Dan and I have had the pleasure of traveling by train in Israel, Vietnam, and China, as well as in the USA, and I have blogged about those trips. We recently returned from a wonderful Caribbean Cruise on the NCL Dawn where we were able to take two excellent, and very different, train excursions, one in Barbados and one in St. Kitts. Whenever we have the chance to travel I always "Google" for interesting, "off-the-beaten path" things to do in each place- foodie tours, cooking classes, train travel and other adventures- and this time I found two unique opportunities for us to take trains! 
Our first train trip was in Barbados, where we booked a private tour with Yvette of Tervette Tours and Taxi Service,        
St Kitts Railroad
that took us to the St. Nicholas Heritage Railway and St. Nicholas Abbey Great House Plantation and Distillery, and then for a lovely lunch. Although the train excursion was available thru the cruise line, booking a private tour with a driver gave us the opportunity to do the additional tour of The Abbey and Distillery, and have a rum tasting, to take our time and not be rushed, and to have a lovely lunch at the Animal Flower Cave Restaurant on the water! I found Yvette when I emailed the St. Nicholas Heritage Railway through their website to inquire about their excursions; Anna Warren recommended her highly, and she was right to do so! We booked the Combination Tour (Steam Train Excursion and The Abbey Great House & Distillery Tour) on their website, and then I emailed Yvette to arrange where she would pick us up at the pier, and what we'd have time to do after the tour. Yvette was right on time, and we got to the train station early, so we had time to have a coffee at their Cafe while waiting for the train:
The station, from the Cafe
Ringing the bell!
Ringing the bell!



At the station
















We rang the bell :-) and then boarded the train. The steam train takes you through the plantation fields and mahogany woods, and the "end of the line" is at Cherry Tree Hill, where you can get out and enjoy the gorgeous sea view. A docent tells of the history of Barbados railroading while the train is actually turned around on a "turnaround", and the passengers can help! The excursion is short, but really excellent, as you can see from the photos, and the steam locomotive is gorgeous!!!  You can stand out on the little "balcony" at the end of the car and watch the engineer loading coal, enjoy the steam, and take in the full glory of the train's horn! 


All aboard!
Steam Train fun!!!!



Steam Train work!
Turning the train around at Cherry Tree Hill...
 




Turning the track...

Turning the track...

The view from Cherry Tree Hill





All aboard!


Flipping the tracks...
After stretching your legs at Cherry Tree Hill, you re-board the train for the ride back to the station, where you can take the optional tour of The St. Nicholas Abbey Great House Plantation and Distillery, as we did. The Heritage Railroad, restoration of The Abbey, and the Distillery, are all truly labors of love by the renowned Barbadian architect, Larry Warren, and his wife, Anna, who together created THE great new Barbados tourist attraction! The Heritage Railway Steam Train has only been in operation since 2018, so this is truly a brand new thing to do in Barbados! The Abbey's Very special rum is made in the tradition "Pot Still" manner, from the Sugar Cane Juice Syrup they make at the Plantation after they hand-harvest their sugar cane in February- and if we are lucky enough to get back there it will be in February!! They hand-feed the cane into their steam mill, where it's crushed once to extract the sweetest juice possible, after which its made into syrup, and then magically transformed into a fabulous, hand-crafted rum in Pot Still "Annabelle"! 

Pot Still Annabelle!
Our engraved artisan rum!

After the rum tasting at the Distillery (where I quietly was allowed to taste the 8-year old rum, which totally sold me on it, even though it is Much more expensive than their 5-year old rum... check out all their rums here: http://www.stnicholasabbey.com/Rum/Our-Rums/- they are sold ONLY at the Plantation's Gift Shop!), we bought bottles of their Sugar Cane Syrup and Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Rum (delish for marinating steaks!), and a bottle of that Very special 8-year old rum, which is honestly THE FINEST, SMOOTHEST RUM I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! I can only imagine what their older rums are like!  They even engraved the bottle for us with our names and Wedding Anniversary date on it! :-)  The St. Nicholas Heritage Train, Abbey, and Distillery Tour is truly a "Must-Do" when you visit Barbados!
The Great House
Great House Shell Chandelier
Barbadian Thorn Trees!












At the Distillery







                      
From the new to the old! 
From the St. Nicholas Abbey, Yvette drove us to the Animal Flower Cave Restaurant, one of Barbados' oldest attractions, which is perched on a cliff, and where we had a delicious seafood lunch overlooking the water...

Rum Punch and a view!
YUM! Lunch at the Animal Flower Cave

Octopus (Sea Cat) Salad!

Happy Anniversary to us!

At the Animal Flower Cafe

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To start, I had a delicious pickled octopus salad, which is called "Sea Cat" in Barbados :-) and their "Catch of the Day" with yummy grilled breadfruit- you can see their menu here: https://www.animalflowercave.com/the-restaurant  Note: Barbados Dollars are double US Dollars, and you need to know that, or you will have a coronary when you see your bill. LOL Yvette apparently told them that this was our Anniversary and at the end of lunch they surprised us with a fun desert cupcake with a sparkler! 

We wished we could have stayed longer and explored the Animal Flower Cave, as well as a number of other things we wanted to do, especially to visit the Synagogue Historic District in Bridgetown, which dates from the mid 1600s, and the Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum- the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemispherebut we had to be back on board the ship by 4pm :-( The downside to cruising is that you usually only have one day in each port and a limited amount of time to see and enjoy things... but there are a lot of upsides to cruising, too: getting to go to a number of ports and doing fun things in each one, lovely food, wine and cocktails, live music, luxurious spa treatments, real relaxation, and on-board fun- and, especially, our BALCONY stateroom! And we love it!

For our day in St. Kitts we booked NCL's "Rail and Sail" excursion, which included both the St.. Kitts Scenic Railroad Excursion, and a catamaran sail back to the ship, and it was an Excellent day that we Highly recommend if you go to St. Kitts! We booked the excursion through the cruise line (NCL), and we were a tad nervous, as our experience with cruise-line excursions hasn't been all that stellar, but this was honestly THE BEST cruise line excursion we've ever taken! The train excursion is on a vintage sugar mill narrow gauge railroad, and it takes you all around St Kitts, making a 30-mile circle around the island. Built between 1912 and 1926 to transport sugar cane from the island’s sugar plantations to the sugar factory in the capital city of Basseterre, today, this “Last Railway in the West Indies” provides visitors a truly unsurpassed opportunity to experience the scenery and culture of St, Kitts! It's a double-decker train, so be sure to sit on the top, open-air level, which is bumpy fun, so you get to see all the cool sites, such as old sugar mills and churches, towns along the way with lots of happy kids waiving so you'll wave back, the mountains and gorges you cross on the train, and the gorgeous coastline... all while drinking freshly-made Daiquiris or Pina Coladas, and listening to the three-voice a capella St. Kitts Railway Choir singing Caribbean folk songs & hymns!  
Here comes our train!







The a cappella St. Kitts Railway Choir!

The Choir!






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Freshly-made Daiquiris!


Crossing a gorge...















And old sugar mill



Goats in the graveyard...



An historic church...























At the dock...


On the catamaran, heading back to our ship...























After the train excursion, we boarded a catamaran for a lovely, relaxing sail back to the port, enjoying a bottomless cup of Rum Punch and coconut cookies!

Seriously- does it get any better than this?!

  




















Sailing back to our ship...










What do you do like to do when you cruise? 
Have you taken any great train excursions? 
Tell me in the comments and give us some ideas for our next trip!