So….How Does One End the Perfect Day?

Last night, I made the “perfect meal” to end my wonderful day.  Mark and the kids gave me the thumbs up and ate everything I prepared!

The chicken package below is Tyson breast fillets that I purchase at Sam’s Club.  Although they are more expensive than the chicken breasts that are found in the grocery store when they are on sale, these pieces are always uniform in thickness, meaning that the entire piece is always tender. The chicken breasts in the store are typically thick on the side where the two breast halves join together, and very thin on the rib side. If cooked without pounding them to a uniform thickness, the thick part is juicy and tender, whereas the thin part turns “rubbery” and dry.

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I used the Tyson chicken last night, as I wanted everything cooked evenly. Here is what I did…..

I marinated the breasts in Teriyaki Sauce. (I used the Kikoman sauce in a bottle) I left them in the sauce for about an hour.  Then, get a small amount of olive oil hot in a skillet. Add the chicken and brown. (takes about 5 or 10 minutes)

Remove the breasts from the skillet onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. (I always use foil on the sheet, as I get lazy and don’t want to scrub) Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, 1 tablespoon bacon bits (I don’t *do* pork, so I use the turkey bacon), and 1 tablespoon ranch dressing drizzled over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet and add a small handful of shredded Cheddar cheese over the tops. Place back in oven and continue baking another 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted!

That is it. AND, if you serve this, your family will think it is every bit as good as restaurant fare! Better, though, as YOU made it for a WHOLE lot less!

I served baked potatoes along with this. I prepare them like this….scrub the potatoes well, then rub a small amount of Olive Oil on the skin. Roll the oil coated potatoes in your favorite steak or chicken seasoning. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t over-season them! Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. My family likes the skins chewy. If you would prefer a more tender skin, wrap aluminum foil around each potato. Serve with butter, salt and pepper, and sour cream.

I was going to photograph the chicken fresh from the oven, but forgot. These are what I thought were leftovers, but the only remains are two baked potatoes!

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We also had steamed veggies and for dessert, I made Jello flan.  I normally would have made a salad, but we had big Greek salads for unch earlier in the day.

That’s it. If you try this, please let me know what you and your family think!

YES! What a Day!

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I think that we all have experienced days when we feel so blessed, we shake our heads and wonder what exactly we did to deserve such a fine day!

Such was today! Late this morning, Michelle and I went outside and washed the awning of the camper. We are trying to do those picayune little tasks that should be done as regular maintenance, but seem to slip by year after year. 

After we finished up, I decided to have a go at finding hummingbirds….yesterday I mentioned that Ben noticed one in the jewelweed that grows near the drainage ditches. I grabbed the camera and walked slowly towards the ditch from behind the camper. And, what should I discover? YES! A little hummingbird was making the rounds, visiting each and every flower! I took several pictures, but these are the best. I was working with a telephoto lens completely supported by…me, alone. Note: BUY A MONOPOD SOON!!!!

Please click on each picture to open it up so you can see the little hummer more clearly!

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I especially love the picture below. The little fellow was keenly aware of my presence,  but was too busy to be interrupted from partaking of nutrition!  I was standing about 30 feet away from my tiny subject, so was thrilled *any* photos turned out!

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The picture below shows how these little birds kind of “dive” deeply into “throaty” plants.

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After finishing up taking pictures of the hummingbird, and feeling so fortunate, I noticed a bird flying overhead…..the red of this bird was so “electrifying”, it nearly took my breath away!

I scanned the tree a few feet in front of me, and there he was! Not a cardinal, but even *more* intensely colored, was a beautiful male Scarlet Tanager.  He sat there perching, and looking down at me.

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Again, please click to blow these pictures up to see them in their glory!

In looking at this tanager, I thought it would be more fitting in a jungle scene. The funny thing is, I looked online and discovered these brightly plumed creatures of the air do indeed live in South America, making their way northward in April and May!

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As I stated previously, I am blessed!

Mark’s Strange Hamburger….

Yesterday, we had several things to do in Rochester.  Before we left, I asked Mark to look on the web to see if he could print out some online coupons for a burger place that was in close proximity to where we would be. Rochester has many burger “joints” that serve up good food.

Mark found buy one-get one free coupons, so he printed out 4 copies, as they allow multiple coupons in one purchase. As we got closer to Rochester, I called in our order so we could eat before going to the stores.

I went in and grabbed the goods…as always, the burgers tasted so good. We had placed a cooler in the back of the truck with icy cold sodas, so we were good to go! (at much less expense!) The kids and I were so hungry, we ate right away. Mark decided to eat a little later.

As we were nearly done with our expedition for the day, Mark decided to eat the first of his hamburgers.  He loves the hot sauce the restaurant serves,  so I had obtained some little cups with extra sauce for him.  He pulled back the bun on the burger and told me to look what was on his burger!

YIKES! I couldn’t see it at first, but as I looked, I sudenly spotted a green colored STAPLE on the hanburger!!! I was so relieved Mark didn’t bite into that staple. Gads, it could have caused some serious damage.

I decided this deserved a call to the restaurant to let them know. I called the restaurant and spoke to the manager. He was very apologetic and sounded rather embarrassed. He said they would be looking into the situation. He offered to give us two more burgers, or maybe some ice cream. I opted for two ice creams.

When we went back to the store, I realized that it was the manager who initially waited on me. I asked him if they discovered how the staple got on the burger and he said no, but that the staples they use do have a green coating on them.

The ice cream (actually frozen custard) was a yummy compensation, although I never even asked for anything!  One thing I know for sure….I am SO glad Mark saw the staple instead of BITING into it!!!

I Learned Something *New* Today!

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This is a picture of Jewel-weed that grows in the ditches of our property. It likes a moist environment.  Jewel-weed’s claim to fame is that it is an anecdote to poison ivy. Once exposed to poison ivy,  (or stinging nettles)  Jewelweed can be sliced open and the juice applied directly on the area. It is said that the juice of the weed counteracts the poison ivy.  I knew all of this.  I also knew that Jewelweed is often found growing in the same area as poison ivy.

I took the picture above yesterday, only because I love the brightly colored flowers found on these plants. They range from a golden yellow to orange to red. The flowers typically have orange-reddish “freckles” inside the flower and I can see why they were called “jewels”.

Early this afternoon, as we were leaving to go out for a while, Ben mentioned that there was a hummingbird in the Jewelweed. I did have my camera in the front seat with me, but Mark was in the driver’s seat of the truck. I knew that if I opened the other door, the hummingbird would quickly leave.  I never knew that hummingbirds were attracted to these flowers before, but in thinking about it, it does make sense, as hummers prefer “throaty” flowers they can poke their beaks into.

So, now I have a new assignment….that is to plant myself near the drainage ditch and await the little hummers!

Wednesday’s Pennsylvania Adventures…

As I had mentioned previously, we traveled to Pennsylvania for business on Wednesday.  I had discovered a couple of years ago, that my dear friend,  Jan, another Scottie lover, lives only 2 miles from the town we travel to!

Jan is the most wonderful hostess, as we never give her more than a day’s notice, it seems. She is always happy to see us, though, and you cannot imagine how much we enjoy visiting with her!

 Since we always travel with Angus and Murphy, we left them in the truck while we went in to visit with Jan, Piper J, and Max.

Jan, being the totally gracious hostess, always prepares a beautiful spread for us.  Mark and I have decided that we are going to make reservations to a nice restaurant and kidnap her so she needn’t be troubled with preparations for us!

We laughed and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and as always, little Max was just congenial as can be! This little guy should wear a bow tie, just because that is the kind of guy he is….joy and happiness *bubble* from him!

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Max also keeps guard of the front yard, making sure all of the bird feeders are full and there is no mischief going on during his watch!

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And this is beautiful Piper Jane! She is the queen of her home, making sure Max knows that all orders are given by and through her!  She really is a soft touch, though! She is a little leary of visitors, but once she warms up to you, you have a friend!

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And, as well as being very pretty, Piper is meticulous in her beauty department as well! Here, she is taking care of her nails and paws, making sure they are clean!

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At one point, Piper and Max were taken to another part of the house so Angus and Murphy could visit Jan.  As Murphy sat upon my lap, Jan brought Max over to see how the boys might react to one another. To my utter surprise and (great) disappointment, Murphy showed his teeth and snarled like I have never seen him before.  Poor little Max was a bit puzzled by this.  There are numerous reasons why Murphy might have acted like this….such as, it was very warm, both boys are intact, Murphy might have felt intimidated by another pup approaching HIS mama, or, Murphy was not at the same level as Max.

Well, Jan seemed undaunted by my ferocious little man who went back out to the truck with Angus, and we continued our visit. It was hard as always, saying good-bye, but we know that it shouldn’t be too long before we visit once again!

The Great Darien Lake Escape…

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We arrived at Darien Lake yesterday at about 3 pm. Although the skies were a little foreboding, it had not rained all day, and we thought we were fairly safe.  The kids got in a ride or two, and then……..this!

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Suddenly, all of the game arcades were full of people seeking refuge from the downpour. And, I *do* mean downpour! The rain hit the ground and bounced so high.  This little girl seemed not the least bit disturbed by the rain. In fact, she seemed to be rather enjoying the deluge!

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Carly had taken the big kids over to another ride, before the rain approached,  and Erin decided to stay behind with Mark and me.  We remained inside for about half an hour. We went back out after the rain stopped and within minutes, the scene repeated itself!

Carly said the kids had gotten onto a ride when the operator of the ride was relieved by another employee.  As the change ocurred, the heavens opened up….on the ride AND the kids. The relief operator had to put on his raincoat before running the ride.  The kids were getting soaked clean to the bone! But I do believe they had fun anyway! They definitely had a ball, in spite of the soaking.

As you can see from the picture below, we were caught in a cell of dark skies and threats of yet more rain.

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Since the kids were so wet, they decided to hike on over to the water park.  As we walked along, I spotted this Hibiscus, which remained cheerful and beautiful, no matter how much rain fell on it!!!

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Welcome to Hook’s Lagoon! We had to wait outside the gates until the storm cells passed, as there had been some thunder accompanying this storm.  The lifeguards stayed at their posts,  and we anxiously stood in line.

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The big barrel below is one of the highlights of the water area. When it fills up…..

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The kids gather underneath it and…………….

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We remained here until nearly 6 pm. Then we left the park to grab some dinner.  We went on down the road to a small place called John and Mary’s where we enjoyed a delicious sheet pizza.  The kids were able to hang out and relax a bit while we waited and we ate outside.

We returned to the park at about 8, and the kids rode and played until about 9:30.  I never realized jusst how tired I was from our Wednesday adventure until we were on our way home!

Mark took the picture below….the sky was so beautiful before the day came to an end. All in all, we had a very good time, and it was especially perfect because Erin’s birthday is TODAY! Happy 8th Birthday, Erin!!!

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Photo Hunters…Creative

 PSHunt

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Yesterday, we spent a few hours with the kids and my daughter and her kids at an amusement park.  The skies opened up nearly as soon as we entered the park, and it was so discouraging for the kids, but after a couple of downpours,  the sky cleared off…

Mark had concerns about using the wheelchair on the wet pavement, as it causes him to lose some of his ability to brake. He decided to stay in the truck for some time and just relax.  As it was getting dark, I left my camera behind with him.

When I saw the beautiful sky as sunset approached, I called him on the cell and asked if he would take a few pics. As I uploaded the photos for the day, I decided he should receive a gold star! I LOVE this picture! The Superman coaster is the premiere coaster at the park, and he could NOT have captured it any more creatively!!!!

Yesterday’s Business and Pleasure

Yesterday, we traveled about 630 miles in the course of about sixteen hours. We needed some supplies for the business,  and loving day trips as we do, decided to travel another very long day. (and night!)

Our travels took us to the state of Pennsylvania. Anyone who knows me knows that I am always saying that my heart is buried deeply in the hills of Pennsylvania. I was born there and although I only spent the first three months of my life in residence there,  I tend to think of it as “home”.  Many of my formative years were spent visiting family in Pennsylvania, and many of my relatives still remain there.

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This was the beautiful tourist information building that we spotted as we crossed the state line.

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Yes, yes, yes! Pennsylvania has much to smile about. Its beauty would be number one on my own list!

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At this particular area, there is a very beautiful garden planted with bright red geraniums. As I walked over, I saw several markers in memory of soldiers from
Pennsylvania whose lives were taken in the Iraqi conflict….a stark reminder of these perilous times we are living in…..

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This was such an outstanding rest stop, and although not too awfully exciting, I just had to share it. I was moved by the beauty and simplicity and just think it deserves to be seen!

We were still far from our destination…but the trip was not going to be all business! I have a very dear friend that I met on a Scottish Terrier board. She has two Scotties, and when I discovered she lives only two miles away from where we go for supplies, you cannot imagine the surprise and delight  our entire family felt! So, stopping to visit with Jan was a real highlight of our day! I shall share a few pictures from our visit in another entry!