Friday, July 31, 2009

Why didn't I think of this before?

I love to cook/bake in a camp dutch oven. I'm good at it. Until now, the only time I ever do it is on canoe camping trips, at most twice a year, and oh, yeah, at my family reunion this past April down South. As I was sitting and enjoying my morning coffee one day this week, my mind was wandering aimlessly. All of a sudden, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me! Why don't I do this in my backyard? I can take advantage of being outside more, clean up is easy. . . there are a lot of advantages and I can't think of any disadvantages. So this weekend I plan to prepare a small section of my backyard to use my camp dutch oven. If you don't know what camp dutch oven cooking is, e-mail me and I'll tell you enough to get you started on your own.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quick and easy eggplant dinner

I enjoy this recipe year round. Slice an eggplant crosswise (in circles) about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Brush each slice with olive oil. Place a slice of fresh tomato on top. Sprinkle with salt. Top with shredded mozzarella and basil. Bake in a 350 oven on a cookie sheet until the cheese begins to bubble, about 5 to 7 minutes. That's it! These are really good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


The picture of Kevin and Bingo in the post below really tugs at my heart! I have always felt sorry for anyone who doesn't like dogs or doesn't have one in their life. Even my father, who put up a strong "I don't like dogs in the house" exterior, melted with Molly once. We were sitting at the kitchen table. Molly, very quietly, was sitting beside Daddy's chair looking up at him. He would look at her and then look away. Finally, he would say, "Go on, Dog, I don't love you." Molly would just sit there staring back at him. Then he said, as if continuing his sentence, ". . . even with those eyes, I don't want you." Then why, at a later time, when we took Molly for a walk, did he want to hold her leash???? His attempts that day to discipline her with his verbal commands make me laugh even to this day.

We all need a dog in our life. Dogs are all about unconditional love and acceptance. When you come home and the world has treated you like dirt, a dog is there to let you know, "I'm glad you're home!"

Kids grow up and move away and don't need you anymore. But a dog needs you always.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet Bingo!

Here is Bingo. Bingo has just been adopted by John, Jen, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew. Trust me, this dog will never lack for attention!!! I can't wait to see her in person!

What a real ego trip!

Today was the last class of the Presentations Skills class I have been taking at work every Tuesday morning for the last 4 weeks. Our assignment for today was to prepare and present a 5 minute segment of a 30 minute presentation, using the skills we have learned in class. I chose to do my presentation on camp dutch oven cooking.

The class was very receptive to the presentation, not only being complimentary of my presentation skills but also asking questions and making comments on the topic. They liked it!

Some of the comments I got on my evaluations from the class members:
  • Very calm and deliberate, like you were sharing a secret
  • Able to answer questions appropriately. I learned a lot in your 5 minutes of fame!
  • Very good presentation, made you want to learn more
  • Interesting material

At the end of the class as I was walking out the door, one man came up to me and said, "You know, your presentation could have been much improved if you had cooked a meal and served us!!!"

Definitely made carrying a heavy cast iron dutch oven and tools around this large medical center campus very worthwhile! Even my smallest dutch oven isn't lightweight.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Duh. . . I can't believe I gave in to the Facebook craze, but I did. I don't need another addiction. Aren't the blogs that I can't live without enough? I've been pressured from all sides from people I know that are on it. Finally gave in last night when I wanted to see Marisa's latest pictures. Why couldn't she just e-mail me the pictures?

Well, anyway, it has already provided a few laughs. I merely stated on my page that I still preferred my blog, began typing in the link to here and SHAZAAM, the link to my blog and my blog profile shows up out of no where.

Then it started "suggesting" friends - many I have known for years and others I never heard of.

How simple life was when we only had three TV channels to choose from, the word, "computer" didn't exist. . . well, I would tell you I can remember living in a home without TV, but then you would really think I am ancient. Notice I didn't tell you in yesterday's entry how old my boys are! But wait! I'm not old enough to sign up for Medicare. . . doesn't that count for something???

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, John and Michael

Today is my twin sons birthday. Happy Birthday, boys!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden update

Wanted to show you how my gardens are doing. The coneflowers were a little beaten down by the heavy rains today but they always spring back in place.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More photos of that wonderful weekend!

I hope the photos I have shown in these past few posts will give you an idea of just how pretty the area is and how much fun we had. My thanks to Rick for most of these photos. He took them with his iPhone and provided the rest of us with entertainment on all the things an iPhone can do!!!! They should pay him for his marketing efforts!


Found out yesterday that the incessant itching I have from the canoe trip wasn't insect bites, but poison ivy! I called my doctor's office begging for a prescription for anything that would give me relief. They wanted to see me. When I heard "poison Ivy", I was stunned. I've spent a lot of time in the woods in my life and never have had poison ivy so I thought I was immune to it. I'm told you can develop an allergy to it even if, in the past, you weren't bothered by it. When I took the prescription to be filled, I was told there is a higher incidence of poison ivy problems this year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More canoe trip photos

Here are more photos from our canoe/kayak trip! You see Ginger looking over a gigantic slice of pie (it was every bit as big as it looks!) at the Buffalo Head Inn, me sitting and enjoying the view (I had no idea Rick was snapping that shot!), another shot of Ginger at our campsite, the bacon wrapped water chestnuts I made in my camp dutch oven, and lastly, my poor, underprivileged dog, Molly, going hyperspaz because I was leaving. You can see it in her eyes, "Please, Please, can I go???? I'll be good, I promise!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pictures from the canoe camping trip

Below are a few pictures from our canoe camping trip. There will be more in the coming days. Here you see Rick making a really tasty breakfast on our last day with what was left from the past three days. It is amazing what you can come up with using only "what's left."

There is a picture of Caryl sitting by the fire, Ginger in her kayak and a view of our campsite. A HUGE tree had fallen several years back and the New York State DEC, which manages this area, cut it into sitting benches and makeshift tables.

I truly feel sorry for those people who cannot appreciate what a canoe camping trip can do for your soul. When you are surrounded by people you enjoy being with, in a beautiful wilderness setting, with loons to serenade you (What? You don't know what a loon is??? Friend, you need counseling to get your priorities straightened out.), and with time on your hands to really concentrate on having a good time - there is nothing finer in life, trust me on that one.

The day we paddled in to our campsite was an extremely windy day with waves over two feet high. My trusty Wenonah kevlar canoe just sliced right through the waves like they weren't even there. Rarely do I trust anyone in the stern of my canoe, especially with those treacherous conditions. I asked Caryl, as we started out, "Which do you prefer, the front or the back?" She said she preferred the back. I then asked her what her skill level was. Although she is one of the regulars on this trip, she has never been in my canoe. I said, "You know better than to let the canoe get broadside to these waves, right?" I believed her. She handled the back with perfection. Coming out on Sunday, the waves were to our back. But that didn't mean we had an easy time of it. Can you say, "cross winds?" Even though I trust my canoe and know how it handles in turbulence, I learned that I could also trust Caryl. . . and I will tell you all a little secret! I'm glad Caryl was back there instead of me!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A canoe trip to remember for a lifetime

Sometimes everything falls into place and a canoe camping trip turns into a perfect 10. This weekend was one of those times. Thursday morning four of us drove to the Adirondacks to a spot a group of us try to get up to every year for a long weekend, Ginger and Rick in their kayaks and Caryl and me in my big yellow Wenonah kevlar canoe.

We started a new tradition without realizing it! We usually stop at the pancake house in Old Forge for lunch. Two years ago we found a new place on the way home for dinner. It is the Buffalo Head Inn in Forestport, NY, just south of Old Forge. Ginger called this the "bookends". . . stopping at the pancake house for lunch on the way up and the Buffalo Head Inn on the way home on Sunday! Did I tell you Ginger is a creative person???

It was a lazy weekend. We found our favorite campsite vacant on Thursday. The sites here are at least a quarter mile apart and we saw few people over the weekend. It was like having this big beautiful lake all to ourselves.

I think I was a little child the last time I took the time to gaze at the clouds and pick out pictures or figures in their formations. I spent most of the four days just sitting and watching the view or preparing our meals in my cast iron camp dutch ovens that I love doing. For dinner on Thursday evening we had pot roast cooked with potatoes and carrots and an appetizer of bacon wrapped water chestnuts in a sauce of ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire. Friday morning I made Mountain Man Breakfast which included bacon, green bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, eggs, and I can't remember what else. Friday dinner was sweet and sour ham, again in one of my dutch ovens. . . Are you getting the sense that we don't eat the usual freeze dried stuff on these trips??? Ginger put together an excellent dish on Saturday with pasta, stewed tomatoes, and ham, among other things. This morning, Rick took our left over eggs, ham, green bell pepper, and cheese and put together a scrumptious dish.

Each evening we had a roaring campfire and enjoyed the wilderness experience along with good conversation.

We all live fast-paced, stressful lives. These four days were the best cure for just getting away and putting the rat race behind.

Over the next day or two, I will be posting pictures of the weekend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Outside my comfort zone

I am taking a 12 hour course at work right now on Presentation Skills. It was a class I wanted to take rather than one I was required to take. We meet each Tuesday morning for 3 hours.

One of the teaching methods the instructor uses is to force you out of your comfort zone. Now folks, give me time to think about what I want to say and prepare my presentation and I can do just fine. But hand me a slip of paper with a topic and give me less than 60 seconds to come up with a reasonable presentation? Uh - ugh. . . no way!

I am comfortable speaking in front of a group WHEN I AM PREPARED!!!

Yesterday my topic was, "My last meal on earth will be. . . . . " Hhmm. . . Well, dammit, in the first place, I'm gonna be around for a lot more years, so why should I be thinking about this now??? Okay, that mindset isn't going to get my anywhere. . . the clock is ticking. I was #6 so that gives me some time. Oops, there was no #2 or #4. . . how'd that happen?

I madly scribbled down strip steak, baked potato with lots of butter, sliced tomatoes with lots of salt, Italian Wedding Soup, a glass of cabernet, and a hot fudge sundae.

Okay, we are all in the same boat here. Why should I care about being perfect? I began by giving my list of items on the menu and went from there to say if it were my last meal on earth, then I didn't need to be concerned about ugly things such as cholesterol, low-fat, heart disease and what this meal would do to my health. I think I used facial expressions and words to describe my total delight for all the items on the menu.

Finally, my 60 seconds were up. I was pleasantly surprised at the written reviews I got from the rest of the class. While one person said I appeared nervous and another said I "swayed" too much as I was talking, most of the reviews were very positive. One person said I made her hungry!

Wow! I'm a grandmother, so that tells you I've been around a few years. I never knew I could do something like this before.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I saw my first Monarch Butterfly yesterday flying around the coneflowers out front. They are in full bloom right now and soon there will be hummingbirds too. The Black-eyed Susans have started to open up their blooms. Out back, the shrubs across the back fence, which are a type of hydrangea have started to bloom. They seem late this year. They begin as a big white bloom and towards Fall gradually turn pink.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What a wonderful day!

My son and his family from "down South" were in town today and we spent a wonderful day at the Strong Museum of Play and later dinner at my house. Folks, if you have never been to the Strong National Museum of Play, you are truly unfortunate. It has exhibits and activities for all ages. I am a member there and enjoy going with my grandchildren equally as much as going by myself to see the exhibits for us older children.

Margaret Woodbury Strong was an only child of very wealthy parents who lived in Rochester. She grew up with an extensive collection of dolls and toys from around the world. She died in the late 60's and left money for the museum to be formed. My mother-in-law and I were the third and fourth people through the door when the museum opened back in the 70's. It has grown tremendously since then and I have enjoyed every visit.

The top picture is a simulated Wegmans grocery store where children choose items off the shelf and then go through the check out process just like in a real Wegmans. They actually get a real paper receipt showing the items they "bought."
The next picture is Andrew getting a hug from a Berenstein bear. The Berenstein bear exhibit is a real delight.

Here is Jake climbing on the rock wall.

There is a new exhibit at the museum which has video games from the 80's and 90's. Remember Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Star Wars, and geez, I can't even remember them all? John could have spent the entire time here. I found it amusing that there were just as many 30-somethings and 40-somethings enjoying this room as the younger kids!

We came home and had dinner at my house. I made fruit salad, three bean salad, deviled eggs, hamburgers on the grill and lemon meringue pie. After dinner, John decided some of my trees and shrubs needed trimming. Kevin, Jake, and Andrew helped haul the debris to the street for the town to pick up on Monday. I was amazed how fast the pile at the end of the driveway grew. For me to do all that by myself would have taken half a day or more! THANKS GUYS!!!

While they were doing that, Jen was installing my new printer to my computer, something I could have done myself, but I have a short fuse for those kinds of things. Thanks much, Jen!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quote for the Day

My kitchen wall calendar for this year is all about Labrador Retrievers. Each month has a quote on it. Here is this month's quote and I think it has a lot of truth to it if you think about it.

"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly dog." This quote is attributed to Edward Hoagland, whoever he is or was.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What a day!

Hhmm. . . this morning, about 8 am, I was on my second cup of coffee. . . planning my day. I needed to mow the lawn, do some laundry. . . etc., etc.,

Then the phone rang. It was my long time friend, Nancy, wanting to go kayaking. Damn. . . when I'm enjoying my coffee in the morning, in the peace and quiet of my home, I suppose I am in such a mood that I could be talked into anything. Forget the lawn mowing, the laundry. . . etc., etc.

So off we went for a paddle down the Genesee River to the Erie Canal and then into Red Creek. Nancy had never been to Red Creek and she had heard me talk about what a nice paddle it was. Only trouble, we paddled WITH the flow of the current in the beginning and AGAINST the current on the way back. Whew! My shoulders were so tired at the end of what we estimate to be 8 or 9 miles round trip, I actually needed help getting out of my kayak at the end of the paddle. . . . I had lost all strength in my shoulders.

I take her to her house to drop off her kayak and her gear. Robert had dinner on the grill and invited me for dinner. . . dinner with wine, in my exhausted condition???? That was too good to pass up! So I enjoyed a nice cookout in their backyard, good conversation, good wine. . . what could be better than that?

Thanks, Nancy and Robert, for a wonderful day. Now I gotta figure out how to get the chores done today that went undone!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, Everyone! This is a holiday when I always pause to think about what a privilege it is to live in this country and to be a natural born American. Yes, we have a lot of problems right now and there are a lot of things wrong with this country today. But you know what? You need only to remember your high school history classes to know that throughout history, the United States has gone through a lot of tough times and we always bounce back. I remember as a young child, my grandfather, Popa, saying, "I just wish today's kids could go through the hard times that we have been through. Then they would appreciate the things we have today" He was speaking of the Great Depression and the hardships his generation endured. Well, Popa, WE HAVE! There was the Viet Nam War, the race riots of the 60's, and September 11, 2001, to name a few. When I was in Ireland once, I remember saying to an English couple that September 11th brought the American people to its knees. She said it had the same effect in her country. But we came through it and we survived. That is part of being an American.

Wanted to show you how my flowers are coming along. Above, you see the blooms on my Black Eyed Susans. Below are my daisies opening up.

And here are my coneflowers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Is it really July already?

It's hard to imagine that July is here. This will be a busy month for me. In just 9 more days, I will spend the day with my grandchildren. We will go to the Strong Museum here in Rochester. If you've never been there, you don't know what you are missing. Another weekend I will be on a canoe camping trip to the Adirondacks for four days. There is a small group of us that go up every year (or at least TRY to go every year!), do some paddling, and camp dutch oven cooking and enjoy sitting around a campfire. This is the month of my twins birthday. I won't tell you how old they will be 'cause that would make me look old. I'm also looking forward to taking a two day NRA sanctioned course on the use of a pistol in self defense at the Genesee Conservation League. The course is called Personal Protection Outside the Home. That will be an exhaustive weekend, ten hours of class each day. . . but well worth it. In between all these activities, I hope to get out more on my bike and in my kayak. Summer is just too short in upstate New York.