Garden Dreaming…

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The backyard is still covered in a glassy layer of snow, but the crocuses and tulips have started to pop out from the cold earth. Winter still has a firm grip on upstate New York despite the fact that the first official day of spring has come and gone. I’m hoping winter releases us soon, because I am ready for warmth and color. More specifically, I’m ready to plant my new veggie garden.  Once the snow has melted, I will tend to the dirt and prepare it for planting. Depending on the weather, I will be able to direct sow some things in April. Hopefully.

Last year, my garden consisted of jalapenos, green and red bell peppers, carrots, peas, cauliflower and a variety of herbs. This year I plan to utilize my second garden more and move my sunflowers to the front yard. Between these items, my CSA farm share, and pickings from the fruit farm next door, I will have PLENTY fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of which will be organic.

C’mon spring!!!

Garden 1:

Green beans (1st time!)

Jalapenos

Bell Peppers

Carrots

Garden 2:

Blueberries

Basil

Thai Basil

Thyme

Parlsey

Chives (1st time!)

And something else? Maybe zucchini?

To Be Built Tomato Area:

Grape

Beefsteak or Roma

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{Trip Report} NYC Holiday Style

I’m sooo behind on my trip reports! Since December I’ve been to NYC, FL, and Lake Placid; plus, I have another trip in a week. I must get cracking! Okay, so here we go….. All last year I thought about going to NYC for a weekend. Originally, I hoped to go in June. But, plans fell through. As the year grew older, I realized that a holiday trip would be ideal. Christmas decorations make the city such a magical place, so in December I made the trek with some beautiful friends of mine. 

DAY 1: With Dunkin Donuts coffees and a full tank of diesel, Keri (my next door neighbor) and I set off for NYC in the morning in my trusty Jetta. The drive through NY, PA, and NJ was mostly boring, though we did cut through some mountains near the end of the four hour trek. We opted to stop once for some lunch and a bathroom break. I had no desire to drive into Manhattan or compete with the aggressive taxi drivers, so I valet parked at Seacacus Junction at exit 15x off the NJ highway. As we unloaded our bags, the valet raised an eyebrow, and questioned us: “and HOW long are you staying?!” Okay, so we may have packed a ton of shoes and wine, but this was a much needed girls trip! We definitely regretted our packing choices as we lugged those heavy bags around the train station, then on the NJ train to Penhttps://leighuf.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1044&action=edit&message=10n Station, and THEN to the Metro, and THEN on the E train, and FINALLY the three blocks to our hotel. Both Keri and I had sore muscles the rest of the trip, but we had plenty of wine. And shoes.

Packing Must Haves

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NYC digressions

*I think helping a neighbor’s son with his common college application essay may have prompted this post. Hmmmm…

Ahhh, the BIG apple! This infamous city has grown on me.

The first time I set foot in Manhattan in 2004 I wasn’t smitten. I found NYC to be overwhelming, smelly, crass, and packed to the seams with people, honking taxis, and obnoxious sounds. It kinda frightened me; it was sensory overload. I sat on the red double decker tour bus, amazed at the sights yet feeling incredibly small under the soaring buildings we passed. A vivid memory from the trip was a taxi ride. I recall jumping in a cab near Central Park during an intense thunderstorm one hot August afternoon. The welcome relief from the humid, wet air was short lived; the driver roared the car toward a massive puddle, and the water shot up like a tsunami to soak a dozen smartly dressed professionals waiting to cross the street. The driver deviously laughed as the people yelled obscenities at us. I sat back, silent, as I watched horns pop out of the driver’s temple. I was horrified.

Okay… I may have exaggerated one part. Regardless, it left a lasting impression.

In retrospect, I have realized something (call it self-reflection): I was young and naive and uncultured. No that doesn’t excuse the taxi driver’s actions…. New York City was nothing like my innocent Disney-esque hometown Orlando or any “biggish city” that I ;had ever been to. Heck, I was a naive young 20-something living in the middle of New Hampshire at the time! I had a bubble complex. I was unaccustomed to the “hard knock life” of big cities.

Since then, however, I’ve blossomed into a foodie, obsessed with farm to table cuisine and international dishes; I consider myaself an adventurer who longs to travel and embrace the change and tastes of unfamiliar places. I have since seen and experienced much more of the world. In short,  I now have an intense curiosity: I am a wanderlust.

Perhaps my 2004 NYC trip was the turning point?

Since then I’ve visited  other true big cities like London, Rome, Florence, and Barcelona. I’ve become more confident in foreign situations, like navigating large unfamiliar airports by myself in Japan (where they temporarily lost my bag), Spain (where I had to practice using my Mexican sounding Spanish to find out where to go), and South Korea (where I had to spend the night … and HAD to locate the next book in the Twilight series- in English of course).  I’ve learned how to deal with language barriers on public transit systems in Paris, Monte Carlo, and Naples; how to “fit in” at community mess halls in remote parts of Yukon, Canada; and the importance of not taking a nap as soon as you arrive on the other side of the earth. I’ve learned to embrace unusual travel activities such as Zorbing down a hill, jumping backwards off a waterfall into a dark New Zealand cave filled with glowworms, snorkeling with sting rays in the Caymans, ziplining in the rainforests of Belize, or landing on a glacier in Alaska. Additionally, I’ve learned to appreciate different varieties of food, customs, and appearances. Nothing beats a warm croissant from a Parisian bakery, or champagne with a splash of Kir from a French bistro, or the smell of fresh lavender in Provence, or hot chips with a splash of vinegar in a dark London pub, or figuring out how to eat noodle soup without a spoon in Japan, or  receiving shot of limoncello with a glass of free champagne courtesy a cute Italian restauranteur in Italy, or accidentally ordering a huge seafood meal with oysters and shrimp in Barcelona (btw, I hate seafood), or being reminded to take off your shoes before sitting on the floor at your table at a restaurant in Tokyo.  Ahh, but I digress…..

New York City, the international mecca in all her beautiful glory, overwhelmingly appeals to me now, and I can’t wait to see her soon.

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Lafayette, NY Apple Festival

Approximately 30 miles south of our home is apple country. Apple trees dot the landscape and farms boast U-pick prices (the price I paid was $0.70 per pound) and apple fritter stands (OMG, they are sinful! Apples deep fried in dough and topped with sugar heaven!). In the small town of Lafayette, an annual tradition is their Apple Festival. Its comparable to the Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival in St. Louis that I attended annually… but this is on a country-scale. They have carnival rides, country crafts, farm equipment, wagon rides, farm animal petting zoo, 1000+ lbs pumpkins on display… and of course, APPLE FRITTERS! Yummo! Xander won two goldfish in a carny game, I bought nothing but ate lots. Perfect fall day!

Riding the Merry-Go-Round

Xander won 2 goldfish

Xander the Conductor

checking out a big tractor

me

Pumpkin Picking

We came home with 8 pumpkins after our weekend visit to a local pumpkin farm called Katie’s Pumpkin Patch. How much did that cost us, you ask? Only $16!! We live in farm country, peeps! Anyway, Xander had a blast tripping around the pumpkin patch though he was a little confused as to why all the pumpkins were on the ground… he kept saying “why did they fall off?” as if they fell from a pumpkin tree! We also did a true corn maze… it was quite large and tricky and even Nick and I began to wonder if we’d ever escape! Any trip to a farm isn’t complete without a hayride so we did that too. Our 8 pumpkins now litter our front yard, making our house feel very “fall-ish.”

Daddy & son

He found one just his size!

Our loot

Checking out the corn maze

We kinda got lost in the maze

at least it was a pretty day to get lost!

last but not least, the hay ride

Waterfall sightseeing

Today Xander and I packed a lunch and drove an hour to Chittenango Falls State Park near Cazenovia, New York. The small park is home to Chittenango Falls. The park website says “glacial sculpting over 400 million year-old bedrock is responsible for this scenic feature.” Anyway, the falls can be viewed from the top, from the middle and from the bottom via a trail that is very steep and mossy. It was 65 degrees and overcast/windy making it a bit chilly when the mist from the waterfall blew on our skin. The waterfall was powerful and quite loud which made it all the more enjoyable for my little 3 year old. However, I think the lunch I packed made him more excited! He got to eat chips and drink soda! Don’t worry I also had turkey sandwiches and grapes but they weren’t as popular! 🙂

View from the top! Xander thought the water looked dirty.

View of the falls from the middle platform

View from the bottom. We got sprayed with mist!

Time to make the steep climb back up!