Adventures & Images from Amanda, the one "Behind the Zoom"

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reduce Reuse Recycle ~ Swingset to Chicken coop~

Our daughter is a Junior at college this year and we still had her swingset in the back yard.  Parts of it were weathered and unuseable but the frame was solid.  While raking around it one day I realized it was time to either let it go or do something with it. That's when the swingset to chicken coop idea came to be ~ 

Surfing the web and pinterest I see that others had done it and it didn't seem that difficult.  Our whole 4 acres is fenced and we have dogs loose, making our chicken predators limited to hawks and owls.  We would stake it down but the fact that we could possibly move it around was going to be great!

We stripped it down added chicken wire length wise along 2/3 of swingset.   The wire is attached to each other with O rings and the pliers tool made it super easy.  silimiilar hog ring pliers The ends are wraped around the swingset frame.  The tin is attached to the frame legs

The bottom needed reinforced along the long areas, we used metal strips inside to attach the fencing to the tin.

Our swingset was extra long, the last part we decided would be enclosed.  We also wanted to leave the small cross bars for support and roosts.

The door frame was made out of extra swing set pieces and a piece of metal we had attached with hinges, don't forget the top trim to stop rain from getting in.

My husband and I can carry this around, heavy but doable, we get inside and walk it.  Later could add wheels if we wanted easier mobility.
We hung the feeder and water with chains it really helps cut down on the ants.  
After a few days we realized the crossbars were skinny and slippery so we cut tubing and placed on them with zip ties now it is much wider and they can grip on to it.
Eventually when the rooster moves out we will put a shelf in the enclosed area with nesting boxes.
It took us 2 weekends because here in AZ in the summertime it gets really hot and we only worked on it am and pm for hr or so.  A lot of what we used my husband had sitting around his shop.  Only  purchased the chicken wire, the o rings and tool to apply them, the metal trim inside on bottom to reinforce the chicken wire at bottom, trim at top for rain on enclosed area and the feeders.
 It is staked down at all 4 corners, could bury it all around if needed but we just don't have that kind of predators to deal with.  Any questions feel free to ask!!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Adventures with a Bar Cart

So some time ago I watched Cierra put together an ikea bar cart and decorate it for the holiday.  I have always liked decorating for holidays but it seems as we get older I just am not into decorating the whole house except at Christmas.  After looking around I just didn't find a cart I liked enough so had postponed the idea until I came across this one Craigs List ad.  It was her mothers cart stored in the garage with other items.  The glass top lifts off for a display area and the wood, shape and wheels fit into our eclectic western house.  $60 bucks later we are the proud owner of a bar cart ~

                             First display was grab around the house and see how it fits in...
Craigs trophy buckles fit under the glass nicely and those probably will stay most of the time.

1st holiday we have after purchase is the 4th of July so here we go with our 4th of July bar cart ~

Also in July is our anniversary.  We were married at the MGM in Las Vegas so we have ~

 Yes, I love Sunflowers, not a fan of roses
 That's as far as we have gotten with our bar cart decorating.  Looking forward to what we come up with in the future.  I do love the change of view in that little corner and really it isn't that much effort!

We have moved along into the holidays updating the bar cart as we go ~

And one of my favorites so far ~ Hot Chocolate bar ~


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Beauty of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu a bucket list destination.  
The majestic ruins are truly amazing and images can't do justice to the incredible beauty and majesty!


Monday, May 30, 2016

Girls Night Out

A friend asked me to shoot her girls night out celebrating an important time for her.  Great fun watching these woman connect and enjoy each others company!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gizmo at the dog park

Had some fun at the local dog park ~


Friday, April 1, 2016

Machu Picchu ~ part 1 the idea & the packing

We weren't sure where we wanted to go but knew it was going to be International.  Cierra had seen my moms scrapbook from her time in Peru with Amazon/Andes Expedition Explores Natural Health & Healing and from there the Peru/Machu Picchu idea came to light.

I am not big on tours, be there, be here and follow along.  More the wing it and see where we land kind of traveler.  That being said I do like to feel a little grounded and have some idea of what & where plus I don't want to miss something that is a "must see".   So a few months before our trip I started googling and reading blogs. Anything I could find on getting to and staying around Machu Picchu.  Mom sent her info she had saved, pamphlets and maps.  
Machu Picchu Peru is a truly majestic Inca ruins situated above the Sacred Valley and voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. When going be aware of the seasons ~ December, January, February, and March are the rainy seasons.  We went March 12 - 18 and saw signs of rain but were lucky and had perfect weather!  The currency is the Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN) and language is Spanish.
We decided to have money exchanged prior and our local bank did it at no charge a week ahead.  We exchanged $450.00, at the time of our travel that equaled 1,420 PEN and I carried 2 credit cards.  Few things to note on our packing list...power converters - some blogs said it was the converter/adapter with pins and others said flat plug- I puchased 2 converters/adapters, one for each of us Insignia Travel adapter & converter & iConcepts World Wide travel adapter converter  we used the Pins in Ollantaytambo and the flat in Cuzco so you may need both adapters.  I purchased a cheap rain poncho at Walmart but never used it.  Was thankful we had purchased a Small backpack, this brand folds into itself so makes it so easy to travel with! A North Face light jacket as the evenings were little chilly and early am in Machu Picchu was cool.  Granola bars & snacks. Sunscreen (very important as even on cloudy days the elevation is higher and sunburning is fast & painful).  A blog we had read said use regular shampoo as bug lotion so we had little travel samples for "bug lotion" and regular insect wipes.  Our time wasn't bad for insects but I do believe it really depends on when you are there. Passport, credit cards and the bulk of our Sols I wanted to carry in a RFID protected money belt, I wasn't sure about this as never wore one but I had it on from Lima on and really forgot it was there as it is comfortable and didn't show. (After some thought and reading on the money belt I think next time I will use a "dummy" wallet instead as someone could grab your waist and feel the money belt). Comfortable hiking shoes and socks, extra camera batteries and extra sd cards. 
We kept luggage to a min. one small roller each and 1 messenger bag.  
Remember to tell your credit cards you are traveling and find out about your phone service, we have Verizon and could add International for the month.

* next blog post ~ Machu Picchu part 2 the adventure begins...


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Machu Picchu ~ part 2 the adventure begins

Ready to go, vacation days all set and 2016 Spring Break Machu Picchu trip is happening!!

So our basic plan is to fly to Cusco, take a Collectivo (bus/van) to Ollantaytambo, stay there couple of nights, take train to Machu Picchu then spend day or so in Cusco on way home...
A couple of days before we left I went ahead and purchased the Machu Picchu tickets ***They are not available for purchase at the entrance, you must purchase them in advance*** we used Tickets for Machu Picchu, you do pay an additional 20% I believe but you can print them out at home and you are done. There is a daily limit on tickets so check ahead and watch your days if traveling during the high season.  We added the Machu Mountain in case we wanted to hike more from what I can tell it is the less severe of the 2 additional hikes.  There are places to purchase in Peru but I just wanted to have them done.  The other purchase I did ahead was the Peru Rail train tickets from Ollantaytambo round trip to Machu Picchu.  ***these you can purchase online but you must go to a train ticket office with passport and the credit card used for purchase at least 4hrs prior to departure to get tickets***
The only other thing I booked ahead was a hotel in Ollantaytambo La Casa Del Abuelo.  It had good reviews and I wanted a place 1st couple of nights to start.

Out of Phoenix Arizona we catch a flight to Dallas Texas.  I was assigned a middle seat in the back of the plane and was thinking ok not such a long flight not a problem.  Cierra was towards the front of the plane.  I get back to my seat and to my left is "Baylor", a Jr college student headed back to school from his spring break in California, to my right is "Air Force"  3 yrs in a special unit just left some paratrooper training...  Cierra where are you this is the perfect seat for you not me!!!  Had great fun talking with them and the flight time flew by! Arrive in Dallas and are looking forward to the flight that evening out to Lima Peru.  As an employee of an airline there are travel ups and downs...the down here was we couldn't get on the flight to Lima that night so we are over night our first night in Dallas.  Thank you Motel 6 for the quick and easy room and the next day, all day, in the airport.  Dallas Ft Worth airport has lots to do...

Ride the Skylink, play games in Admirals Club, Check out the art displays, do selfie luggage pics and  when all else fails sleep...

That night we are on our flight out of Dallas and headed to Lima!
We arrived in Lima first thing in the morning and were booked on a LAN flight couple of hrs later from Lima to Cusco.  An earlier LAN flight had cancelled so the flights were pretty full after seeing that we changed over to Avianca and had a great flight from Lima to Cusco.  Thank you Avianca!  (Right past security in the Lima airport the Peru Rail has a small ticket area, we picked up our train tickets that we had pre paid for there).

Met another airline employee and her daughter on our flight and shared a cab into Cusco from the airport. Parted ways there as we were catching the Collectivo to Ollantaytambo and they were at a hostel up the street.  Now the Collectivo is somewhat of an experience in itself.  The van/minibus is parked in an alleyway and only leaves when it has a min. number of passengers.  After 2.5hrs of waiting with a backpacker from South Korea we had enough riders mostly locals~ we thought we were ready~ drove around the block and came back to get the smaller minibus~ then we were off.  The drive was about 2 and 1/2 hrs I believe and it is everything everyone says about it fast, slow, hold your breath passing, slide one way, slide the other and astounding views. 

We arrived into Ollantaytambo and found our "home away from home "  La Casa del Abuelo.  Close to the town plaza, short walk to the train, great room, nice bathroom, clean, hot water and very friendly helpful staff
Unloaded the bags and headed off to find something to eat and explore.  Hotel recommended and gave us a discount coupon for a great place just up by the plaza Uchucuta restaurant.  We enjoyed our first ever Coca tea and I have to admit it was truly good tea so sad I couldn't bring some home!!  The meal was great too!
Such a big sandwich we actually had half each left over and packed it with us into Machu Picchu for lunch!

*Next blog post~ part 3 our day in Machu Picchu~

Monday, March 28, 2016

Our day in Machu Picchu

The morning of our Machu Picchu day started with a quick application of sunscreen and shampoo (shampoo acts as a bug repellent).  Check of our backpack/fannypack for snacks, our 1/2 sandwich from dinner, waters, camera batteries, tickets - both train and Machu Picchu, money and passports.  On our way out of our hotel we grabbed our sack breakfasts they made ahead for us!  The Perurail train station is just a short walk down the hill so off we headed to make the first train out at 5:05am.  We booked the Expedition roundtrip as times seemed to work and low cost.  Really comfortable, there was snacks served and as soon as it was light we could see the Urubamba River,  the train follows it along alot of the way.

 The Ollantaytambo train is booked Ollantaytamo to Machu Picchu but doesn't actually go to Machu Picchu.  It goes to the small town of Aguas Calientes. (Some people choose to stay here when traveling to Machu Picchu, we wandered the town on way back down but didn't stay long).  From Aguas Calientes we purchased roundtrip bus tickets to Machu Picchu.  Round trip guaranteed a bus down as they fill up especially toward the end of the day.  We went straight to the bus and after a switchback ride up the mountain we ended up at the entrance to Machu Picchu.   To enter we had to show our tickets and passports.  You can come and go a couple of times but they stamp your ticket each time, restrooms and food are only available at the entrance.  If you want to stamp your passport with the Machu Picchu stamp it is right inside the entrance.  

The clouds were low so we weren't seeing everything all at once, we hiked in and our first views were of the current residents, Llamas!

Cierra was happy as they were on her wishlist for the trip, they put up with the visitors, allow you to pet them, but don't come running over.  
We headed up to sun gate which is quite a hike UP!  But as the clouds started to break the views were breathtaking!

Headed down from Sun Gate we could see more people had hiked in.  We were so glad we got there early and weren't crazy crowded for awhile.  Looking out over the ruins really takes your breath away and gives you a sense of pure wonder.  Truly incredible what was built and the planning, just Wow!
We hiked down and out for lunch and restroom break.  There is a little cafe there but it is kind of pricey.  We had some fruit from there and our 1/2 sandwiches we packed in.  Headed back in to explore the ruins up close.  More visits with the llamas ~
The ruins are amazing, the aquaducts, the buildings, the whole idea this was built 500 years ago without modern tools is incredible and the engineering of the homes, terraces, whole community is so mysterious!  It is truly one of the wonders of the world! 

Now we were not booked on a return train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo until the early evening train but after a solid 5 hrs hiking around we were ready to call it a day.  We didn't do the additional hike and were ok with that.  It was getting crowded, warm out and I was starting to feel the altitude and climbing/hiking exhaustion.  We decided to catch the bus down and explore Aguas Calientes a little.  Note:  from our experience visiting Machu Picchu early morning was the best, less people, the cloud cover opened up to amazing views also wasn't as hot!

Aguas Calientes has hotels, hostels, restaurants, shopping. It is bigger than I thought it would be.   After walking around town for awhile we ended up back at the train station and were able to catch an earlier train back to Ollantaytambo, for a cost.  Earlier train time we wanted was the Vistadome which is an upgrade from the Expedition so off we went on the "first class" train back.  Now it was also quite comfortable, had snacks, but this train had a fashion show and skit to music ~ not quite sure I would up and pay for the different train but in this case the time worked better for us getting back so we would have time to eat dinner and relax after hiking. The skit did involve the devil dance and it is here that ~
Cierra "danced with the devil in Peru"

*Next blog post ~ leaving our home away home in Ollantaytambo and headed to Cusco


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