Bird Nerd

I love birds. Big, small, loud, quiet… it doesn’t matter. I love birds.

So yes I admit it: I was the crazy woman who literally turned her car around and parked in front of someone’s house to take iPhone photos of a gorgeous Tom displaying his plumage. I see wild turkeys all the time, but it’s rare that I get a glimpse of one all fluffed up. So gorgeous. 

 

 

Autumn Hike at Wilderstein

Wilderstein view

Sometimes I feel bad for everyone else in the world who does not live here in the Hudson Valley. I’m not quite sure how my path brought me here, but I know for sure that it is where I’m meant to be. It is just so damn gorgeous, especially this time of year. We are lucky to have so many amazing historical sites nearby where you can go (for free) and just take it all in. Laura joined Daisy Scouts, and today was their first outing. We went on a nature hike at Wilderstein. Now, a few years ago I wrote an article on some rennovations that were completed there but until today I had never actually visited. It was a perfectly cool fall day, and a great time to visit. I forgot my DSLR at home, so I only snapped a few shots with my iPhone, but still, I think these photos give you an idea of the beauty of the area. I am a sucker for any Hudson River view. Can you imagine seeing this every day when you walk out of your house? Oh, what I would give! Hudson River view

And then, of course, there is the mansion itself. You can read about the building’s history here. We did not go on a tour (with 8 little girls, that would have been a challenge), but it’s definitely on my personal, ever-growing list of things to do in the Hudson Valley. I also want to do a little research to see if it’s haunted at all. With all the additions and rennovations over the years I wonder! There is a creepiness about it, but that’s not uncommon to many of these Victorian-era houses.

WildersteinThe girls hiked like champs, and we identified many different types of trees, nuts, and grasses. I think this might be the first time I’ve ever seen a ginko tree in person. Gingo leaves

And what little girl can leave without a few treasures? We collected a Sycamore leaf, some chestnuts, a black walnut, and an acorn cap (of which we must have hundreds in our own yard, but…). The acorn cap is to practice whistling. One of the moms showed everyone how to do it. I can’t seem to get it, but a few of the girls had no problem!

Nature hike treasures

Definitely a fun afternoon out! But now I am ready to wind down. I have a fire going and I’m making pork chops, baked potatoes, and broccoli for dinner. Afterwards I look forward to (possibly) seeing if I can manage any last-minute crochet (maybe a hat or cowl) to wear to Sheep and Wool tomorrow. Hope you are having a great Saturday, too!

HarneyFest 2015

HarneyFest 2015As you know, I love tea. I mean, I really love tea. A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned something in passing about some sort of festival at Harney & Sons Fine Teas. Lucky for me, Harney is a local company, located only about 30 minutes away. I immediately clicked on the link to the Facebook Event to learn more information. Oh. My. Word. It was a free (FREE!) tea festival! There was no question — I had to go.

Immediately, I messaged my friend and fellow tea-lover, Kelly. Since we met during our days at UMass, we have enjoyed many cups of tea together, shared info about new tea shops, and generally geeked out over a good cuppa. We made our plans to meet up and counted down the days until August 15th. Because the kids had two different parties on Saturday afternoon, we decided to meet up bright and early. HarneyFest started at 9, so we were one of the first people there. It got really busy by the time we were wrapping things up, so I would definitely go early next year. HarneyFest 2015

There was a variety of things to do including  tea tastings, a tea ceremony, and blending your own tea. Although the entire event was free, you did have to sign up for everything you wanted to do. This was not immediately clear to us, so we missed out on a couple things. Nevertheless, we started out with the factory tour, which was probably the main thing I wanted to see.

Harney moved their headquarters from Connecticut to here in the Hudson Valley a few years ago. The facility is huge and the pictures I took really don’t show the enormity of it. When we stepped inside the factory, I was just overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks and stacks warehousing bags of tea, just waiting to be blended, bagged, and packaged. They do it all right there, which is pretty cool!

HarneyFest 2015We had the chance to see the production lines in action. We saw silk sachets formed, filled, and tagged. We watched single-serve bags produced. We even got to see how they seal up the tea tins. I am fascinated with manufacturing (in part, I’m sure, because I grew up in a manufacturing town), so watching all of this was really cool. HarneyFest 2015

HarneyFest 2015

The other super fun thing Kelly and I got to do was create our own tea blend. Yes, it’s exactly what you think! We donned our very fashionable hair nets and made a couple “I Love Lucy” jokes about feeling like Lucy and Ethel. HarneyFest 2015

There was a table set up with a few tea bases, and several flavoring additions. Honestly, I didn’t know where to start! I finally decided on a rooibis base and I added apple, cinnamon, orange peel, and some coconut. The coconut was an impulse addition, and I’m not sure how it all will taste, but I’m hoping it will work. After we added our goodies to our tin, we brought it over to a Harney employee who blended it all together and then labeled and sealed our tins. I hasitily decided to call mine Carol’s Tropical Harvest Blend. I’m looking forward to brewing a pot of it once this weather cools down!

HarneyFest 2015Of course, there was a little shopping to be done. Honestly, I didn’t really  need much tea, and the flavors I was really looking for were not available at the tent sale, but of course I found a few things: their chai teabags, a tin of Chocolate Mint sachets, and a tin of Paris sachets. I am such a fan of tea lattes made with Paris, steamed milk, and a little sugar-free vanilla syrup. I also couldn’t resist this beautiful enamel Nina Jarema tea/coffee pot. The woodland pattern just called to me, and it was the only one I saw. HarneyFest 2015

There were a couple food vendors there, so we decided to grab lunch before we departed. There was a little booth serving up Mexican food that we decided to try. A couple people were getting tamales, and I never had one before so I figured this was the perfect opportunity! It was so delicious I just had to get a second (along with a chicken taco — yes, I went a little overboard, but the yumminess was hard to resist). I wish I knew the name of the vendor so I could give them a little shout out! All I know is that she told me she’s often at the Millerton and Amenia farmers’ markets. The food was cheap, filling, and tasty. She also had a nice variety of homemade salsas. If anyone knows the name, please comment and let me know!

HarneyFest 2015

The absolute best part of the day, however, was getting to spend it with my good friend. Kelly and I don’t get together anywhere near as often as we’d like. In fact, before Saturday it had been well over a year since we had the chance to hang out. The awesome thing about your best friends though, is that no matter how much time passes, you pick up just like it was yesterday. There is no one else who would have jumped for joy over tea with me (yes, I literally jumped when I learned I could make my own custom blend), and I’m so thankful we were able to make this happen!

HarneyFest 2015

HarneyFest was such a fun event. The company was generous with samples, the employees were super friendly, and I really hope they do it all again next year because I will definitely be there!

{More Catch-Up} R.L. Stine at Oblong Books

R.L. Stine at Oblong Books

I’ll be honest here: as a pre-teen (because “tween” did not exist in the late 80s), I was a Christopher Pike girl. Chain Letter got me hooked. But my husband has a crazy love for R.L. Stine that didn’t start until he was in college. It’s a long story involving his band, someone’s girlfriend and R.L. Stine’s book The Girlfriend. We had a huge box of Fear Street novels in our attic, our boys both enjoyed the “Goosebumps” series, and Laura likes watching the likewise-named TV show on Netflix. So the excitement level at our house when I learned that R.L. Stine was coming to Rhinebeck was seriously off the hook.

At first, Drew hemmed and hawed a little. I love going to author events. Sometimes, though, the reality of who that author is can disappoint. There can be an attitude that shatters your image of how awesome they are. But I convinced him 🙂 So after the Sheep & Wool festival back in October, we headed over to Oblong Books for this super-cool Halloween event! R.L. Stine is rebooting “Fear Street” and has been making the rounds to promote his new book.

R.L. Stine at Oblong Books

I’ve been to a lot of signings in my day, but this was certainly one of my favorites. Stine didn’t just read from his new book and answer a couple questions. He told stories. Stories about growing up. Stories about how he thought of book titles. He took tons of questions from kids in the audience. He connected with everyone there. And not only that, but he was willing to sign anything that people brought up. Sometimes there’s a limit, sometimes it’s just the author’s latest work. But R.L. Stine signed a stack of books for us (including some really old twist-a-plots that Noah adores).

R.L. Stine at Oblong Books

Drew told him the story involving his band, his friend’s girlfriend, and the book. Mr. Stine seemed amused.

R.L. Stine at Oblong Books

The kids had such a great time, and what a thrill to meet such a prolific writer! 

R.L. Stine at Oblong Books

Thanks, R.L. Stine and Oblong for hosting an event that my kids (and husband!) will remember for a long time!

{Catching Up} Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2014

 photo NYSsheepwoolBanner2014_zps113a4d49.jpg

You might think that as an avid crocheter and sometimes-knitter who lives right here, I’d go to the famous NYS Sheep & Wool Festival (commonly referred to simply as “Rhinebeck”} every year. Well, truth be told, the crowds often make me rather anxious and the traffic near the fairground can get snarly so it’s been a while. This year, however, was different. I found out that one of my oldest blogging friends (who lives on the complete other side of the country), was going to be there. No way was I going to miss my chance meeting the lovely kadyellebee!

I don’t remember if Kristine and I originally “met” on a wedding planning e-mail group, or via our blogs, but we’ve known each other since probably 2000. No matter, it has been a very long time of knowing someone online. Kristine noted that we knew each other long before either of us picked up a pair of knitting needles! Needless to say, it was an absolute thrill to meet this lovely and talented lady. Kristine is as sweet in person as she is online and I hope someday our paths will cross again!

Kristine & Me!

It was an absolute perfect day to wander around looking at lovely things. I visited some of my favorite yarn shops, felt lots of beautiful wool, and was inspired by so many of the designs I saw. I didn’t spend too much money this time around. I felt a little overwhelmed by the variety of colors and weights and my head just spun as I wondered what to do with it. However, I did fall in love with some of the yarns from Maple Creek Farm. 

Their gold-flecked yarns drew me in, and I ended up purchasing a hank of silk/superwash merino in this gorgeous shade of red. (The needles were a freebie!) I also picked up a felted stress ball that smells deliciously of peppermint, a vintage hankie (50 cents! How could I say no?), and a quilted sachet made from vintage fabrics. 

Rhinebeck Haul

It was definitely a fun day out and maybe I’ll even go again next year 🙂

Autumn Days

Autumn days

Ack! How is it already November? The days just fly by, don’t they? I find that now, especially since I am working every afternoon, time is a precious commodity. But things are great and we’ve been enjoying a beautiful fall here!

I don’t even know where to start catching up, so I think I’ll just post a few photos for now and try to get back on track with my blogging. I have several reviews that I need to get up (another Firmoo glasses review, TAZO chai, Chapstick, just to name a couple). I also ordered and received my 2015 Erin Condren planner, so I want to write about that (because there was a bit of a glitch this year — everything worked out just fine, though).

I haven’t been experimenting much in the kitchen lately. Because I try to do dinner prep in the mornings, meals have been simple family favorites: Zuppa Toscana, tacos, lemon chicken, meatloaf… pretty standard menu items. But everyone happily eats their supper so something must be going right! 

Hope all is well with you — if anyone is still reading this, LOL! It’s been hard to keep up with everything, but I’m trying my best. Here are some photos from the past month. Jake had his Court of Honor and received an award for outstanding first-year scout, we spent a long weekend in the Adirondacks, I turned 39 (!), and of course we celebrated Halloween! I had some fun with hair chalk and tried to be a little festive for work that day.

Merit Badges

Outstanding Scout

Adirondacks

sunflowers

birthday

halloweencarol

Halloween