photography

Another picnic and choices….

This could easily become a habit!  One of my favorite things to do is to go on picnics! It is so much fun being outside and as my mom has always said, food *always* tastes better outside!

Michelle and her fiance, Jacob, want to have a wedding next May.  Michelle wants to be married in the spring, and she was thinking the weather might cooperate by the end of May. They also have agreed that they don’t want a typical church wedding.  Since they both love the outdoors, they have decided an outdoor wedding would suit them well. Of course, the problem that arises is where such a wedding can take place.  There are venues such as Sonnenberg Gardens State Park in Canandaigua, but it comes with a hefty price tag.  Also, Michelle and Jacob are thinking a more rustic setting is what they would like.

So….yesterday, Mark, Michelle, and I (Ben was working) set off for Letchworth State Park in Mount Morris. We met up with Jacob, his parents, and his two younger sisters to explore the various pavilions that Michelle and Jacob had scoped out previously.

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This was the first (and only enclosed) pavilion we looked at.  It is quite pretty. And here is the opposite end…

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Since weather can be somewhat unpredictable in May, this might be a good venue as it is enclosed.

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Michelle and Jacob really like this field as a choice as well. They were thinking that they could rent a party tent and set it up here.  This is a beautiful setting and there is lots of parking nearby as well.

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This pavilion was yet another choice.  The problem here would be if it was rainy or chilly, it would present problems. 

As we discussed the various areas, we saw why they liked the park.  I only wish it was closer. It might be a bit challenging moving all the necessities there as well as food and decorations. 

There are places closer to home that are nice, but there are issues of restrooms, parking, and size that present problems.  Thankfully, Jacob’s dad is a minister, so he can do a wedding wherever they decide!

We stopped along the way and had a wonderful little picnic. It was a beautiful day and there really weren’t very many people in the park!  It was so enjoyable.  Our picnic table reminded me of the Flintstones!

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We got home a little after nine-thirty and I think we all slept well! We did get some exercise, hiking about to look at the various buildings!

Hummer Fun

This afternoon, I had to clip you-know-who’s nails.  He really isn’t thrilled to get his nails clipped, so I have to muzzle him.  After doing his nails, I got my camera and sat on the floor for a few minutes with him.  I had placed a hummingbird feeder outside my window, and as I was on sitting there, a bird came to feed!  I quickly snapped away! Unfortunately, this was far away and also through the window, but I got a photo!

 

 

Balloons over Letchworth!

Sunday was a rather remarkable day. I had discovered that hot air balloons would be launching at Letchworth Park over a period of a few days during the Memorial Day weekend. I love hot air balloons and I especially like photographing them!

I spoke to Carly on Saturday and asked if she and her family would like to go, too. They did! Since the balloons were launching at 6:30 pm, and Carly wasn’t available to go until afternoon, we made plans for an impromptu picnic.  We had grilled chicken breasts, a broccoli salad, and a lemon meringue pie.

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That doesn’t sound like a lot of food, but I think we all were full at the end of our picnic!  Oh, we also did something different….we ate at one of those stone tables!  It reminded me of something from the Flintstones!  It was wonderful, though, as we had a scenic view of the gorge.

After our picnic, we headed off for the balloon launch. It was fascinating. The ad  said there were thirty balloonists invited and although I didn’t count, I know there were lots of balloons there.  It was amazing as it seemed like the field would never contain many of these aircrafts! The public was allowed to sit and watch very close to the actual balloons.  This made it even more fascinating. I never realized they used a generator and fans to begin the process of filling the balloons.

As the first balloons began being filled, there were some breezes that would move them about!  I left everyone and went a bit closer to the first batch.  I met a young lady there with her boyfriend who sometimes rode in the chase vehicle for one of the pilots.  She told me all kinds of information.  She said the pilot has to get permission to land….I had never even thought about that before. She said that some people absolutely refuse to allow a balloon to land on their property, so the pilot must lift up again and go on until they can obtain permission from another property owner.

This was such an exciting adventure!

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We actually saw some of the baskets (with people inside!) tumble to one side as the wind blew and caused the balloon to sway!  People from the balloon crew quickly hopped to the rescue and held the basket upright! Some looked as though it took a great deal of effort!

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This was so awesome! The balloons just seemed to hang in the air over the gorge!  It was so beautiful. I am so glad we were able to do this!  I plan on making this an annual event!!!

Wishing you were here…..

so you could experience the fragrance that is filling the entire downstairs of our house!  Our Lilac bushes suffered from the severely cold winter.  Instead of being filled with loads of flowers like last year, the flowers made a sparse showing this year!  In fact, I also lost my two Butterfly bushes in front of the house over this winter.  I decided since there weren’t that many flowers on the Lilacs, I might as well clip them and bring them inside to enjoy!

Stir Crazy!

Our weather has been making me stir crazy.  Either that, or perhaps I am suffering from cabin fever! Seriously. It has been chilly, wet, dark, dreary, and just not the kind of weather one wants to venture forth in!

When I get like this, I need adventure! I love looking at seed catalogs and such, but I need something more hands on! I belong to Instagram, where folks post photos they take and others can comment on them. I love this, as I have people commenting from all over the world.  Most of my Instagram friends have Scotties, so it is cool seeing photos of these little dogs in their various environments.  Whenever I have some spare time, I take a look at photos from all over and one thing kept coming up over and over again.

French Macarons. No, not Macaroons. Macarons!

Naturally, I needed to do some further research….I found lots of information and recipes online for these cookies, but everywhere I read, I found discouraging reports. Things like, even professional chefs fail at making these “delicate” cookies.  You must go out and buy a silicone baking mat for these cookies; otherwise, they stick to parchment paper and fall apart. The first attempt at making these cookies is usually a failure. You must use only gel food colors in these delicate cookies, or they won’t turn out.

Determination became my companion. I will make French Macaroons. And, I *will* succeed!

Having made this proclamation, I went to Canandaigua in search for what I needed! I looked in WalMart, Michael’s, And JoAnn’s for a silicone baking mat. Since each of these stores sells Wilton products, I was confident I would find the said mat. Fail. I left the stores feeling deflated. How could I possible make these cookies with a silmat? I was about to leave Canandaigua when Mark wanted me to run into the Dollar Tree for him. I wandered the aisles and I found a small roll of parchment paper in there. Some of the recipes for French Macarons called for parchment.

Yesterday morning, I woke up determined to succeed at cookies! I watched a video on making them and read every tip I could find. Then I went to work. My eggs were left out for a couple of hours since they were to be room temperature.  To make sure they were, I placed them in some warm water for five minutes. I decided that since I had no superfine sugar, I would place my granulated sugar in the food processor and make it more fine.  After that,  I took the Bob’s Almond Meal/Flour I had purchased and ran that through the food processor as well. I mixed my powdered sugar and almond flour together and sifted them, making sure there were no “lumps”. I was now ready to begin. And, more importantly, succeed!

French Macarons are actually a “meringue” cookie, described as very light. Since I had never actually tried one, I wanted to! I made up my batter, making sure it remained light and airy. One thing I did that was not advised was to add a couple of drops of blue food color.After the batter was made, one is instructed to use a pastry bag with a tip on it to form little circular cookies. I have no pastry bag, so I grabbed a ziplock bag, placed the batter inside and snipped a tiny hole in the corner.  I was delighted as I piped out my delicate little cookies.  After they are piped onto the parchment paper, one is instructed to slam the cookie sheet down to release any bubbles! I did this, then placed the cookies on the table where they remained for forty-five minutes.  After they form a dry surface, they are ready to bake!

I placed my Macarons in the oven….I saw on a video not to bake more than one tray at a time. I set the timer and held my breath.  A while through the process, I stopped washing dishes and decided to look inside the oven door through the glass front. YES!  My little cookies were rising up just as they should!  They are supposed to form a ridge, called “feet”. Yes!!! My cookies were doing just what they were supposed to!  However, there was a comment to add extra food coloring as the cookies fade…my two drops of blue coloring turned my sweet treats a pastel green.

I made up a batch of Swiss Buttercream to fill my cookies. In the end, the family advised me these cookies are delicious!  Wow! They kind of melt in your mouth.

Sweet, sweet success!!! Now I wonder if I will be able to repeat it?!

Resurrection Sunday!

We hadn’t been back to visit my parents and Randy in such a long time!  With such a cold winter, we hadn’t gone out much at all.  When we saw that the weather was going to be warm and sunny yesterday, we made plans to visit!

The morning started out a bit chilly, but we saw the temperature outside climbing as we drove along.  I had picked up some pretty yellow Tulips for Mom and Dad and couldn’t help snapping a photo of them against the blue sky as we drove along! Of course, they looked beautiful once Mom placed them on a table in the house!

We went out to eat at the rod and gun club and as usual, the meals were out of this world!  When Mark, the kids, and I discovered prime rib was on the menu, we all ordered that.  Afterwards, we went over to the house. Mark, the kids, and Randy went to a park where they fiddled around flying remote-control helicopters and Michelle walked Murphy. Michelle told a funny story later….seems a foreign woman at the park saw Murphy and thought he was a goat! Poor Murphy….

At dinnertime, we were still pretty full from our large lunch, but Mom had a beautiful veggie tray. Since the sun was shining and it was such a beautiful day, we ate our veggies (along with carrot cake for dessert) outside at the picnic table! We laughed later, knowing full well if we had planned anything like this, it probably would have rained.  Or snowed! We also knew if we told anyone we ate outside on April 20th, they most likely would not believe us!

So….a picture tells all!

We had a great time visiting and as always, it was hard saying good-byes. All in all, it was a beautiful day, well spent!

A Busy Weekend!

It was a busy weekend with much to do, but actually, it was a busy week!

I mentioned previously that we attended a Passover Seder on Tuesday evening.  We also attended another one on Saturday evening.  Our friends, Bill and Carolyn had decided to have two Seders instead of one because they wanted to have music and there isn’t quite enough space to have tables set up and also music equipment. Carolyn is part of the music group, along with Sue and Mark. Bill does all of the food….the man is an amazing chef!

I forgot my camera on Tuesday, but I did grab the camera bag on Saturday!  There was a lovely group of people in attendance.

Our host and hostess, Bill and Carolyn as Carolyn lights the candles.

There were four young adults who just added so much to the event.  They were awesome!

The purpose of the Passover Seder is to remember how God delivered and saved His Chosen People (Israel) from bondage when they were in Egypt.  This is a retelling of the Book of Exodus, relating the hardening of Pharoah’s heart and how God used plagues to finally get Pharoah to release the Israelites.  The final plague was when God instructed the Israelites to slaughter a lamb and paint the sides and top of their doorposts in the blood of the lamb so he would pass over their homes as He passed through and killed the firstborn of the Egyptians.

One fact that I forgot to mention is that Bill was diagnosed with pneumonia in his right lung on Monday morning.  The Seders were important to him, so he carried on with his preparations….and both Seders, even though he was not up to snuff!

The Passover story takes awhile to recount, and as it is told, participants eat various “elements” such as bitter herbs (parsley dipped in salt water),  hard boiled egg, horseradish, lettuce, and *delicious* Charoset (which is apples diced into pieces, with walnuts, raisins, spices, and honey mixed in).  After the story was told, Bill served up a most wonderful meal beginning with his homemade matzah ball soup, followed by roast turkey, mashed potatoes, his homemade matzah (unleavened bread), stir-fried vegetables, and Kugel.  Believe me, no one goes home feeling hungry after this feast!

We had such a delightful evening, and after folks left, the young adults and the music group hung out and played and sang music for quite awhile.  It was a memorable night and one filled with good fun and fellowship! We really appreciate all the work Bill and Carolyn put into these Seders, and also the effort put into Tuesday nights as well when they host a dinner and music practice!

Hot Dog!

I had been wanting to add some photos I took of Murphy this winter. More than ever before, he seemed to enjoy the cold and snow this winter. Scotties are kind of unique little dogs in that they usually cannot be left off lead. They have a tendency to run off and being independent little critters, they aren’t likely to listen when called to come back!  That said, with snow that was pretty deep this year, and a supply of “cookies” (treats) kept in my pocket,  I was able to let Murphy run in the snow a number of times.

As you can see, those tiny little legs never slowed Murphy down at all!  This pup was *made* for the snow!!! Angus always loved the snow, but Murphy really adores the cold white stuff!

Evidence….

that is coming.

Forget the fact that it was 12 degrees this morning when I got up at 5:30. I grudgingly trudged to the garage and gathered kindling and wood to make a fire in the woodstove.  Yes, for the past two or three days, this wasn’t necessary and I had already resigned myself to the fact that I might no longer need to build and maintain fires in the stove.  Ah well…

We do know that warmer days are coming no matter what the thermometer says today!

I am a sucker for flowers. I love having flowers in the house. They are cheerful and add so much color!  I couldn’t resist this Spring Cactus as I was walking through Walmart last Thursday.

We have had some temperatures that were so warm, I actually grumbled a bit because I got overheated doing my work around the house! We had the windows open and one night, we ran the whole house fan the entire night to cool the house! With all this warm weather, the tiny Crocus plants I had uncovered from a deep bed of leaves practically flowered overnight!

I always had problems in the past….it seems the bulbs I planted for some spring flowers would disappear!  This year, however, it seems as though the crop of springtime harbingers has multiplied immensely! I have so many pretty Crocuses in purple, white, and stripes! As I photographed some on Sunday, I noticed another sign of spring in the form of a Bumblebee working away to gather pollen!

I did save the best for last, though.  As I was working in the bedroom, a Goldfinch caught my eye. I could see that the vibrant yellow coloration was returning to a little male sitting on a branch outside the window.  I walked over and grabbed a camera, but when I returned, the little bird had flown off.  Disappointed, I was about to walk away from the window when something else caught  my attention……

Yes, this beautiful little male Eastern Bluebird sat and posed so nicely for just a few seconds! What a treat!

Today, the temperature is to remain only in the 30’s, but then it is supposed to warm up into the 50’s the rest of the week!

Last night, we attended a Passover Seder at the home of our friends, Bill and Carolyn.  Mark has been practicing with Carolyn, Sue, and another Carolyn for music for not only last night’s Seder, but another one on Saturday night.  Bill is such a tough guy….on Sunday night, he got the chills, then became a bit “out of it”. After reducing a fever, he went to the doctor on Monday morning. The doctor ordered an x-ray and found Bill had the beginnings of pneumonia in his right lung.  When he told me on Monday when I spoke to him, I asked if he would still be able to have the Seders!  He replied that of course he would! He had already done lots of his preparations on Sunday.

The Seder last night was wonderful.  Bill made a fantastic meal to follow the reading of the Haggadah.  Please pray for Bill. Although he is a tough guy, even tough guys need some rest!  The music was awesome as well.  The only downside to the night was that it was bitter cold and the roads were slippery! Thankfully, our trip home was non eventful.

Although it is chilly outside today, the sun is shining and we are cozy and warm inside!