Looking back…

I don’t know where this week disappeared!

It seems like it was just Sunday.  The kids wanted to do something special for Mother’s Day, so we loaded the car and took off for Watkin’s Glen.  It really isn’t too far from our home and it was a beautiful day to be outside! I had been sick for a little over a week.  It seems I had picked up a strain of flu that likes to hang around for awhile.  Although I didn’t feel “sick”, I felt weak and lacking energy.  I spent much of the days lying in bed reading.  So, the Mother’s Day outing was the perfect getaway!

On our way to Watkin’s Glen, we stopped in Penn Yan for takeout Chinese.  Once we got to the park, we walked to a picnic table and enjoyed our meal.  It felt so good to be outside breathing the fresh air!  (Even when I felt really tired when I was sick, I put on my winter jacket and sat outside on the porch swing. The oxygen in the air felt so good!) Even though we didn’t spend a long time out, it was a perfect day!

Mark and I spent Monday doing things around the house, knowing that Tuesday was going to be a very busy day!  We were up and out the door shortly after seven to take our pickup truck to the garage to have a brakeline replaced.  It had rusted through and one day, the brake pedal went nearly to the floor when Mark stepped on it.  He decided to have the garage do the work, so we had to drop the truck off by eight, then be on our way to take Mark’s mom to a doctor appointment. Everything went smoothly and we got home with just enough time to get ready to go out to Bill and Carolyn’s as we do every Tuesday night.

We hadn’t gotten together the previous Tuesday, as sicknesses were making the rounds….bronchitis, bad colds, and the flu!

Bill had made an awesome pan of Lasagne and Focaccia (bread) that was awesome!  Sue brought an antipasto plate and there was so much yummy food!  Afterwards, we were treated to a Black Forest Cake Bill made to celebrate Sue’s daughter, Dee’s birthday.  As we were finishing up, “it” struck.  My oh my!  The thunder and lightening put on a spectacular show!  The rain came down so fast and furiously and all of our cell phones kept making sounds to alert us to a flash flood watch.  We weren’t too concerned, as Bill and Carolyn live at about 2300 feet above sea level.  I did wonder about Naples as the evening progressed, but….

We were finally ready to leave a little after eleven o’clock.  We had had a very long day. But, when we opened the door to go out to the truck, the lightning stretched across the sky, the thunder boomed, and the rain looked as though it had no intention to let up.  We waited. And waited.  Finally, things let up a bit and we made a mad dash for the truck. As we drove off, we were wondering what it was going to be like getting home.  We didn’t wonder too long!  As we drove down the short road to the next road, we passed over streams glistening in the headlights where the roadside ditches were now overflowing onto the roadway. We turned the corner and less than a mile up the road, a large log probably twenty feet long was lying in the road. There was other debris there as well.  I got out of the truck and attempted to move the big log, but it would not budge. The water was over my ankles and I quickly moved the smaller debris and we were able to pass through.

We passed through several more non-intentional streams flowing over the backroads until we finally hit the major route between Prattsburgh and Naples.  We were pretty certain once we were on the main road, everything would definitely be better.  As we drove along, there were a few breaches where the road seemed to disappear under a briskly flowing waterway.  We were determined at this point to make our way home!

As we got closer to Naples, everything seemed much better.  There was no more water covering the road, and it seemed all was well.  Once we got to the other side of Naples, however, the water was rushing like mad off the hill where County Road 12 rises sharply up from the Naples valley.  Lights were flashing and volunteer firemen equipped with headlights on their hats seemed to be everywhere.  We were told Route 21 through Woodville was impassable, so we were advised to take County Road 12.  The firemen told us they had not received any calls about damage there. We drove up the steep incline and the only problems were where higher roads intersected the road and left deposits of dirt and rocks all over the road.  We were so thankful to have the truck!

We got home and were so grateful! There was no damage at our house.  Michelle said it had been a bit hair-raising, but all was well. Murphy was at home with the kids and he was a bit upset, but was fine!

We got alerts on the cell phones that flash flood watches are in effect through Friday of this week. Wednesday, I went out and got groceries.  I have never taken the flood warnings seriously, as we live in a pretty safe place.  After the trip late Tuesday night, I am a bit more inclined to listen! We are all still in awe of the fact that the National Weather Service can alert people via cell phones….

Today was Ben’s last day of his first year of college. He has done well and I think he is pretty happy to have it behind him. We went out to a restaurant to celebrate and then wandered over to Seneca Lake State Park for a bit.  It was so windy and people were parasailing on the lake. Water was splashing all over on the breakwalls but it was warm and nearly balmy!  We have a front passing through now that is giving us some more rain and then the temperatures will drop some over the next few days.

Well, if you do come across the time I am missing from this week, please let me know!!!

Amazing online friends…

I mentioned previously that I participate in Instagram.  This is a site where you can send photos and other people who have similar interests and such can comment on your offerings. I have met so many people there who go nuts over their Scottie dogs!  (Gee, we thought we were the only ones!) One of the ladies there does painting and she decided to give watercolors a go. She began looking through all the different photos people sent and she painted many.  She would contact the person and ask for their address so she could then send her painting!

Back in February, Sheena asked me to email my address to her. She said she did a painting of Murphy! I asked her if I could pay her for the painting and she said no! She just was loving doing all these paintings and expecting nothing in return! She did a painting of a photo of Murphy’s beard all caked and covered in snow.

This was one of my favorite photos I took during the winter. Murphy enjoyed the snow so much and it was cute seeing his little face packed with snow!

It is cool to think that one can meet such incredible and generous people online!

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!

My Goodness……

I have not been here in ages.  I don’t really like making excuses. but I just deleted three separate posts that I began (one, weeks ago!) but left after having problems uploading photos and not being able to edit them.  I’m not really sure why things are happening as they are, but I have a feeling it might be a problem with our web host. I am using WordPress for this blog and I really like the ease of use but they are telling me I need to update. I think our web hosting site is so far behind the times, I cannot update to the newest version on WP. I am suspecting this might be a probable cause of my difficulties publishing my entries.

‘Nuff said!

Winter has been long and somewhat brutal this year! We have endured some long spells of cold temperatures that were well below “normal”.  We didn’t have huge amounts of snow, but the cold temperatures and wind has caused more weather alerts to pop up on my phone than I ever remember.  Thankfully, the cold is diminishing….little by little. We have even had a few days that felt *warm*!

One week ago, we were given a “Winter Weather Alert”, meaning that we might see some rain, freezing rain, and possibly snow.  Why that alert wasn’t upgraded to a “Winter Storm Warning” is beyond me! We actually wound up with about eight inches of snow!  It began with a pounding rain early in the evening, changing over to freezing rain, and by 10 pm, it was snowing like crazy!  And the snow!  When I began shoveling Sunday morning, it was like shoveling water….it was heavy! But….it warmed up on Tuesday and Wednesday, and much of it disappeared!

On Tuesday afternoon, I took Murphy outside and he immediately scrambled up onto a snowbank Mark made with the plow. That pup went absolutely crazy, rolling around in the soft (heated by the sun) stuff.

I was afraid he would roll right off the bank, but the snow was so soft, it conformed to his body!

Things have been moving right along here in the Bristolwood.  Michelle is currently looking for a job. She wants to remain in the area, so she has been searching locally. Ben is attending Finger Lakes Community College and is doing very well.  At this point, we are seeing that home schooling didn’t harm either child. (Although they might say otherwise!)

Mark and I are still getting together with friends every Tuesday night. It is a blessing to have such friends and it is a blessing to be able to get together as we do!  We gather around the table for breaking of bread….and wow!…the incredible meals we get!!!….and then Mark and the “girls” practice music together.  Sometimes there are eight or nine people, other times, twelve or thirteen.  I really look forward to these times!

Now I have a great favor to ask.  If you are inclined, would you please pray for a friend?  His name is Mike and he is needing a miracle. I won’t go into details, but God knows Mike and He knows all about the situation.  Basically, Mike needs a healing touch from God.  Thank you, in advance!

Well, I am getting a bit antsy for kinder weather so we can get outside more.  Right now, the wind is a-howling and it is pretty chilly out there. I think the Beatles summed it up fairly well…….. “Little Darlin’ it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter!” Now…..let’s hope “Here comes the sun”!

Truck update!

Within seconds of Mark and his lovely assistant (who just happens to be our daughter!) peeking under the accelerator pedal in the truck,  the dilemma of the secret code “reduced engine power” became obvious!  There were broken wires! Mark had explained to me that there are actually a pair of these devices and when one malfunctions, the error code pops up in the dash. Redundancy. Mark always talks about it and it is used a good deal with mechanical gizmos and gadgetry.

So, the good news is that the truck is now parked in the driveway, awaiting a new part that Mark has ordered to replace the broken part. Thankfully, this one looks like a relatively easy fix compared to others!

In other news, it is snowing! We have been snowless for so many days, it seems almost strange to see white clinging to everything once again!  Oh, and I so am not complaining!!!