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!

First Snow of the Season

First snow of the season

It snowed last night! Around 9:00 I was leaving a friend’s house and was excited to see a dusting on the ground and flakes falling from the sky. Funny, isn’t it, how it just takes a couple months for us to go from “Ugh, more snow?” to “Yay! It’s so pretty!”

First snow of the season

When Laura walked down the stairs this morning, she immediately gasped and asked if it was Christmas! So cute, right? Noah was hoping he could play in the snow after school, but I explained that it would most likely be melted by then (and for the most part it was). Nevertheless, it was a lovely start to the weekend.

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

I realize that I basically take the same photos year after year when it snows, but… somehow it just always seems new. Maybe it’s just me. I am sure that by the end of January I will be longing for warm days, but for now I am very content to bundle up, sit in front of my fire, and enjoy dark, cozy evening.

{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!

Snow Day

snow day

You’d think that after living in the Northeast for my entire life, that snow would be boring by this point. But you know what? That first real snowfall is still so exciting and beautiful and I just stare and think about how magnificent nature is.

I really am so lucky to live in the most gorgeous part of the country.

snow day

snow day

snow day

snow day

snow day

A Perfect Fall Day

autumn

I’d be hard-pressed to choose a better month: May or October. They’re both my favorites. Yesterday some stormed ushered in the most wonderful, cool, fall weather. And finally, finally, finally I was ready to open up that pumpkin spice coffee creamer :-)

Autumn

After getting Noah on the school bus this morning I decided to snap a few photos. The rain brought down a lot of leaves, but really the colors are just starting to show up. I’m hoping that they’ll pop in the next few days. Saturday we’re having a family portrait taken and I would be thrilled to have some brilliant color in the background. Anyway, here are just a couple shots from the yard.

Mums & scarecrows:

Fall Decor

My Knockout Rose, still going strong:

Autumn Rose

My burning bush — I think this is the brightest I’ve ever seen it!

Burning Bush

In the meantime I’ve been puttering around, doing some detailed cleaning. Boy, are those circular knobs that are grooved a pain to clean? We have them on some cupboards and somehow there’s always something stuck in the grooves. I also caught up on laundry — hooray!

Tonight I think I’m making a simple Western frittata for dinner with a salad. Maybe I’ll throw an apple crisp together, too… just because I feel like a bowl of some apple-y dessert and a cup of hot tea would be the perfect way to end to the day. Might have to get peeling those apples now!