"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

23 March 2018


It's been a crazy, busy week but now that it's Friday, I can pause and reflect back on it to find the blessings from it.  I'm linking up at Susanne's to share FIVE of my FAVES this week. These are just some simple things I'm thankful for.

photo courtesy of google images
  • SAFE ROAD TRIP:  I had to get Claire, our college freshman, back to the UNH campus on Sunday as Dave had an obligation.  It took about 4.5 hours to get there and about 5 to get back to my house in eastern NY. We had no issues and traffic was not bad at all going north.  A bit heavy going west later in the day but roads and skies were clear and sunny!  Hallelujah!  The entire trip took a little over 9 hours.  I'm thankful all went well.

  •  NEW TEA!  I discovered a green tea I really like!  I spied it at our local Target store and had a coupon for Lipton tea.  I don't usually buy the Lipton brand but this beckoned to me because of the orange-passion fruit flavor.  I usually only like green teas iced but this one tastes fantastic steaming hot.  I sipped a mug of it on Wednesday afternoon after work because I was wanting something hot and didn't feel like making coffee.  I know...shocking, right??!  I'm thankful to try new flavors and have them be yummy and on sale too!

my new tulip coasters

family room wall shelf is all set for Easter
  • SPRING/EASTER DECOR: I started decorating the house for the new season/holiday. (even though we still have some snow on the ground)  It felt good to put the last of the winter/Valentines decor away and tidy up.  I put away the Valentine coasters and set out these new ones I found in a country store up in the Adirondacks.  I love making my home cozy for a new season.
  • GRASS AGAIN!  The snowstorm we were supposed to get on Wednesday didn't happen thank the Lord!  The sun was out for 3 days in a row and much of the snow melted in our front yard.  This photo shows the corner of the deck where snow is finally starting to melt....one of the last places in the yard every year.  I'm thankful we've had more days of sunshine even though it still has been pretty cold with temps in the low 30s.

  • 25th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!  Our church held it's 25th Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday March 21.  It was exactly 25 years ago that date that our pastor officially began the church after being here for a Billy Graham Crusade in 1990 and hearing the prompting of the Holy Spirit to stay and plant a church.  Albany, NY (the church is in the suburbs of the Greater Capital Region and our home site, where Dave and I attend, is located right in our suburb of North Colonie).  Anyways....Albany, NY is considered one of the  most post-Christian place in the USA!! In fact, most of the major metro areas in the Great Northeast fall into this list.  Check out this link.  Yup.  Sad.  But we are slowly changing that as we make more and better disciples.  Anyways, Dave and I didn't join Grace Fellowship until the summer of 2005 so we've only been there half the time the church has been in existence.  But it is HOME.  We wish we had discovered it long before now.  The anniversary celebration was amazing.  Our sanctuary holds about 1200 people and every single seat was taken.  All 4 sites were represented and the music for praise and worship was astounding.  And that cake!!  We had many desserts to choose from and the top of this cake pictured here went to the Pastor and his family.  (the bottom part is unedible).  I'm so thankful for our church and for the vision our senior pastor has for the next 25 years! :)
That wraps up my week.

I have a hike planned for tomorrow morning and I'm super excited!  First time out on a hiking trail since early November!

Happy Weekend!

22 March 2018


on the firetower/summit of Balsam Lake Mountain
Catskill Mountains
April 2014

Ah....Spring.  That elusive season!  At least for hikers in the Northeast!
It seems it will never get here and then when it does it either packs a punch or goes right from winter to summer.  Sometimes we get lucky blessed and have a "real" spring of temps in the 50s and 60s and rain instead of snow.  Sometimes we get sunshine and warmth at the start of a hike and sometimes we end on the summit in a snowstorm as pictured above!  Sometimes a little rain and sleet is mixed in too which was the case on the hike I did in the photo. (Balsam Lake Mountain, April 2014, Catskills). 

This always has been a challenging season for me personally when it comes to hiking clothes.  I have learned over the years to dress in layers.  And to pack mittens/gloves and an extra pair of socks.

Here's  what I wear (usually, and from mid March-about the end of May.  I also tend to wear these in late autumn depending on the temperature of where I will be hiking):

image courtesy of LLBean
  • HIKING LEGGINGS or TRAIL PANTS: The ones I buy tend to be water resistant and be fleece lined.  I have some that are unlined that work well for me as I tend to get hot if climbing to a summit.  I save the fleece lined ones for when the temps are below 30.  I have about 4 pairs of long hiking leggings.  I love the one pair I have with a side pocket (pictured above) because I can put my phone in there and have it easily accessible for photo taking if I'm not bringing my camera).  How are they different from regular leggings you wear with long tunics??  Well, they are usually not knit or pure cotton like regular leggings. Trail pants are great because they are typically water proof (depending on brand) and are made of rough nylon and spandex.  They are almost always quick-dry.  You want to avoid denim, 100% cotton and 100% knit.  The trail pants I own also have zippered pockets and can be shortened to capri length or shorts.
image courtesy of LLBean
  • TEE SHIRT/TANK/CAMI:  I like a sports bra under a hiking tee shirt for my base layer if hiking in early spring or late autumn.  (winter hiking I use a different base).  A tee like the one pictured above runs about $30 and lasts FOREVER!  I own several by LLBean or Champion.  Other good brands that are affordable are Northface and Natural Reflections from Bass Pro.  Any tee that is made from the slub poly-blend fabric and/or has the "wick away" detail is a great item to have in your hiking gear.  The tees come in all kinds of colors and can be worn with the leggings or hiking shorts in summer.  Try several kinds on and see which ones you prefer.  You want to avoid 100% cotton as that will chill you if it gets wet and isn't quick dry.
image courtesy of columbia sportswear
  • LONG-SLEEVED TEE:  this works great as a base or for over the tee. (I wear just the long sleeved if i know the temps will be colder than 50). I wear this over the tee if I think the temps are going to climb over 50 and I need to peel off layers.  This type of shirt is one that I have in a couple different brands.  Target sells the Champion brand for less than $30!  This one pictured here runs about $40. I prefer my LLBean which is anywhere from $20-50.  Again, these are items you wear for hiking or biking so they last a long time if you drip dry them and follow the washing instructions.  I love the fitted ones like pictured above but there are looser fitting ones as well.  Get what works for you.  This one is a mix of polyester, cotton and spandex.  I do have one that includes the sun protectant and bug repellant material and it's awesome on a chilly summer morning or a windy summit.
image courtesy of Northface
  • FLEECE JACKET OR PULLOVER:  This is vital in my opinion.  I own the one pictured above for when it's spring or mid-late autumn.  I also own the one pictured in the first photo....I'm wearing the 3-in-1 jacket from LLBean that includes the fleece zipped into a thick waterproof  shell which also includes a hood that can be tucked into the collar when not in use.  I find fleece works as a great layer for under any type of slightly larger windbreaker.  Get the brand that works for you and look for ones with pockets to stuff a pair of gloves inside.

  • WINDBREAKER or SOFT SHELL WATERPROOF JACKET:  (see first photo).  This is vital because weather changes so often in the mountains, especially in the Spring season!  I typically stuff this into my backpack if I start out on a dry hike.  You can pull it out as needed or begin the hike with it, and peel off when you no longer need it.  It also works great on kayaking trips!

image courtesy of Dickies
  • EXTRA SHIRT/FLANNEL/CHAMOIS:  Dave and I really like hiking with flannel shirts.  They make a great extra layer. Cozy and warm!  Sometimes I wear this instead of the fleece jacket especially if climbing to a summit and the temps are between 45-65.  They roll up easily to stuff into your back pack.  I like the slightly longer look shown here.  Again, if you look for the LLBean or Eddie Bauer sales, you can get a shirt that will last for years.  Or just get a couple of cheaper ones from Target or Boscov's.  You don't have to spend alot of money to acquire good hiking shirts.  I try to save the better quality ones (LLBean, Northface, etc) for just hiking and I buy cheaper ones for around the house.  Do what works for you!  For winter hikes (Which I rarely do) or late Autumn hikes on very chilly days, I wear my one fleece-lined flannel shirt from LLBean. It is truly one of the best purchases I have ever made.  I've owned the shirt for about 8 years now and it looks brand new!

image courtesy of Patagonia
  • HEADBAND OR KNIT HAT:  I love keeping fleece or wool headbands on hand in my hiking bin.   I have all kinds.  Dave prefers a knitted hat.  Ear-muffs work for some people.  I prefer the headband because once my ears are no longer cold or the temps warm up, I can simply slip it down around my head like a scarf.  I think it's vital to keep your ears comfy!

image courtesy of Amazon
  • GLOVES:  I tuck these into my pockets "just in case".  I don't tend to wear gloves or mittens unless the temps are well below 35.  But they are always good to have in your pack because you never know!  Unfortunately, my friend and I did NOT have gloves or mittens with us on the hiking trip pictured in the first photo!!  Thank God we had extra pair of socks to use as mittens when the snowstorm started half way up the summit because it got very cold!!  The temperature actually dropped 10 degrees that day.  (when we got back to our car, it was 55 degrees and no snow!).  Always have some kind of gloves in your pack for spring hikes.
Other things to keep on hand for spring hikes:

extra pair of socks in backpack
pair of leg warmers in case trail is muddy (I don't own gators nor do I plan on buying any as I don't hike often enough in mud season which is what Spring is known as in hiker lingo!)
extra shirt for layering (if not worn under jacket)
micro-spikes in case of ice

The hike I plan on doing this coming Saturday 24 March will be an interesting one as I've never been to the nature preserve where the hike is taking place.  The temps are only supposed to be in the 40s and because I don't know the trails there, I don't know how much snow is actually on the trail.  So everything from the above list will be worn or packed!

As the spring season continues, and i venture out on more hikes that are mainly flat ones, I probably won't need the micro-spikes.

Whatever you end up buying for hiking, you can probably also use for kayaking, biking, and camping trips.  That's how I've saved money......

Note:  if you are an active work-out person, you probably already have many of the work-out shirts or leggings/yoga pants.  Just use those!  However, keep in mind that yoga pants tend to be loose around the bottom so if you want a tighter fit for hiking socks to go over your pants, stick with the hiking leggings.  I've learned this from experience!)

Happy Hiking!!

17 March 2018

2018 Book Review #10: The People vs. Alex Cross

This author holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers.

And his Alex Cross detective series are the ones I read. 

This book is his 25th novel in the series.  I have read them all, in order, and love them!


Alex Cross, the famous Washington, D.C. detective and psychologist, has always upheld the law and has taught his three children, Damon (now in college at Johns Hopkins University), Jannie (now a high school sophomore) and Ali (now at a charter school and aged 9) to do so as well. His wife Bree Stone is a detective as well.

But Alex is now at odds with the law because he has been accused of killing three of Gary Soneji's cult followers! (Gary was a character in a few previous novels whom Alex finally caught) No one believes that he acted in self-defense other than those closest to him.

Will the jury see him as just another rogue cop gone bad??

While he prepares for his trial and to prove his innocence, his best friend and former partner, John Sampson (married to Billie), brings him a very gruesome and disturbing case:  blonde teen girls are being kidnapped and held hostage with the perpetrators making videos to make it look like they are being tortured and killed!  Murder, it appears, is the new form of entertainment on the world wide web.  Although Alex has been suspended from working cases due to the upcoming trial, he can't help but get involved.

With his professional and personal lives on the line, Alex will still do whatever it takes to stop a dangerous criminal and to find those 6 girls alive.  But will it cost him his freedom??


Brilliant.  This plot is brilliant.  Fast-paced as usual and short chapters making you turn page after page far into the night.

I love seeing Alex's family grow up and rally around him.

I shudder to think that some of internet entertainment might actually occur (and I'm sure it does exist to some degree).

This book touches on the power of strong marriages, the effects of ALS, (one character has this diagnoses), prescription drug misuse/addictions,  and the problem of cops shooting innocent people in this country.

 I don't want to reveal which way the jury's verdict went regarding Alex Cross as I don't want to ruin the plot for you.  But it was excellently executed!

Some of the content is a bit disturbing but nothing is too graphic and there is no swearing or s*x scenes other than one short one to describe two of the blonde girls and set up their character development.

If you like drama, action and mystery, you will love the Alex Cross series of books.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature content).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

16 March 2018

Mid March Faves

FRIDAY!  What a week.

We got stuck with yet another (small, thank you GOD!!) snow storm.  But...it IS still winter and I'm taking a pause in my day to find FIVE blessings from the past week.  There are several of us who do this faithfully and then we link up to the person who started it all, Susanne.  Check out her site and join in!!

Claire and I
the Rye beach/NH
Sept 2017

  • HOME!  Claire arrived home for spring break last Friday afternoon.  I was thankful that Dave had clear weather to go out and back in one day.  (I'll be bringing her back to UNH on Sunday...please pray that I also have good weather!).  It's been fun having her home even though I've had to work all week.  She has been able to rest, hang out with a couple friends who are also on break, and take a couple ballet classes.  It's hard to believe she will be back for the final stretch of her first year of college!  I'm thankful for my "baby" daughter.
my niece Emma (far right, front row)
performing in Bye Bye Birdie
(photo courtesy of my youngest sister Jill )

  • GIRLS DAY OUT!  My two daughters and I had tickets Saturday to go see my niece Emma (age 14) in her high school musical.  They live about an hour north of us so we made a day trip out of it.  Her school did an outstanding job.  In fact, it was one of the best high school musicals I've seen in awhile, and trust me...I've seen a LOT!  The costumes, set design and vocals were just superb.  Harmonies were tight and the lines were performed flawlessly.  It was fun to see my youngest sister's oldest gal perform and then we all went to dinner and drinks afterwards at this fave place. I'm thankful we got to see the show and have a fun day away even though we got back rather late!

  • COMICS:  I saw this comic image online and loved it.  Wow does it sum up our thoughts!  We had our 4th 2 hour delay since December and let me tell you, we are actually tired of coming in to school late.  It usually means we don't have all our students and it is the time of year when we really are working on getting those IEP goals met.  But, it IS still winter here and this IS the north east.  Thankfully, where I live in NYS, we only got about 4 inches of snow and it wasn't too cold which made for wet, heavy snow but we got the driveway cleared in time for Dave to leave for work and all ended up being ok.  I'm thankful for a husband who gets right up to shovel and for some comic relief.

image courtesy of Keurig
  • COCONUT COFFEE!  It's back!!  Last year for some reason, I couldn't find this flavor of Green Mountain coffee anywhere in our area.  Last weekend, I was running some errands and spied it at our local grocery store. It's a limited spring edition so I grabbed a bag and will get one more next week.  I like it in the late afternoons after work when I'm having my daily quiet time.  It just reminds me of warm days and golden sunshine......so thankful for those little things!
image courtesy of the Bible You version app
  • NEW DEVOTIONAL:  Kathie Lee Gifford is someone I have always really liked and admired.  She's a Christian and I first discovered her charm on the Regis and Kathy Lee show.....remember those days?  I used to watch it when I was off work.  Well, she wrote this new book and the Bible (You version) app I use on my iphone and iPad had this 7 day reading plan!!  I LOVE IT!  In fact, I love it so much I will be ordering the book.  I have 3 more days of the mini devo and am so thankful I discovered this.
that wraps up the week of blessings.  Please, if you think of it, keep me in prayer on Sunday as I drive up to New Hampshire in the morning to return Claire to the University.  It's a 4 hour drive with no major traffic tie-ups and then we will do lunch, I'll help her get her stuff moved back into her dorm,and then I gotta drive the 4 hours or so back home.  Dave can't go with me as he has another obligation.  Thanks!

Enjoy the weekend....Spring is almost here!!

11 March 2018

2018 Book Review #9: Beneath A Scarlet Sky

I just finished one of the most amazing historical fiction books I have ever read.

A friend of mine gave me the book after she bought it and read it.

It's a story that is real.  These things in the book really did happen.  Yet here in America we haven't known about this Italian war hero and his role in WWII.  This book is so well written and informative.  


This book is based on the true story of a long forgotten war hero.  Pino Lella doesn't want anything to do with Nazis or the war.  He just wants to be a normal Italian teenager who is obsessed with music, girls and food.

His days of being an innocent teen are short however.  His parents' home in Milan is destroyed by the Allied bombs.  His parents send him to Casa Alpina, a school for boys run by the Catholic priest Father Re.  It is where his younger brother Mimo is living, too.  Soon Pino joins the underground railroad helping the Jews to escape over the Alps into Switzerland.  He also falls in love with Anna, a young widow who is 6 years older than him.

After a few months, he has to return home to Milan and in order to protect him, Pino's parents force him to enlist in the German army.  As a spy!! He is only 18 years old when he becomes the personal driver for Hitler's left hand man in Italy! That man's name is General Hans Leyers and he is one of the Third Reich's most mysterious and most powerful commanders.  Or is he??

Pino now has the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside German High Command.  It is here where he witnesses the horrors of World War II and what the Nazi's are doing to innocent people.  Pino is a courageous young man whose love for Anna keeps him going.  And then one day, all is lost.

Will he ever escape the horrors and tragedies?

Will the world ever know just what he has endured? Will Leyers ever get what he deserves??


The author actually met with the real Pino Lella before writing this book.  He did extensive research and heard Pino's story.

This book has excellent character development and setting.  The descriptions are vivid, brutal, beautiful, and haunting.

Pino Lello is a forgotten hero but after this book, he will be remembered!

The author has some end notes in the back of the back explaining exactly what happened with Pino and the other characters in the story (his parents, uncle, brother, friend Carletto, etc.).

Reading about WWII is one of my favorite things to do but I had never read fiction set in Italy during that time.  This was quite an eye opener.  Pino did speak with Mussolini and he did make it to America.

The real Pino never spoke about the war until the 1990s.  Here is a quote:

"I've never told anyone about the war, Bob (speaking to Robert Dehlendorf).  But someone very wise once told me that by opening our hearts, revealing our scars, we are made human and flawed and whole.  I guess I'm ready to be whole." ~Pino Lello, pg 502 Beneath the Scarlet Sky, c. 2017~

Another good quote from Pino is found on page 508.  He is talking to the author of the book at this point and says:

"Life is change, constant change, and unless we are lucky enough to find comedy in it, change is nearly always a drama, if not a tragedy.  But after everything, and even when the skies turn scarlet and threatening, I still believe that if we are lucky enough to be alive, we must give thanks for the miracle of every moment of every day, no matter how flawed.  And we must have faith in God, an in the Universe, and in a better tomorrow, even if that faith is not always deserved."  He was 89 years old when he said this.

I want to tell you so much about this book but my words won't do it justice.

I highly recommend this story of a very real hero.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature content)

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

08 March 2018


It's Friday!

By the time many of you read this, our youngest daughter will be home from UNH for a week of Spring Break!  I can't wait to see her, hug on her and cook for her tonight! 

For now, I'm reflecting back on this crazy week and sharing 5 of the blessings that came my way.  If you head over to Susanne's site, you can learn how to join in!

  • SNOW DAY!  Last Friday, we had quite a nor'easter.  We ended up with anywhere between 8-12 inches of snow depending on what part of town you were in.  I was annoyed that we got the snow but the blessing was that it meant I could watch the live coverage of Billy Graham's funeral!  Oh my. It was very moving.  Our pastor was there and Dave and I actually spied him walking out of the tent to greet one of the family members.  If you didn't watch the funeral, you missed out on a great "last crusade".  (I believe you can catch most of it by going to the BGEA website). He truly was a humble man who represented Christ well and lived a life of integrity.
  • MOVIE NIGHT:  Dave and I had an in-house date night last Saturday evening.  We ordered Chinese food, opened a nice bottle of Reisling, and watched Lincoln which was on Netflix.  We never go out to the movie theaters because around here the tickets for one person is $15. So we watch Netflix because we get unlimited amounts of movies and series for only $9 a month!  We both loved this movie.  Sally Field and Daniel Day Lewis were outstanding.  And Lincoln happens to be my fave president.  I highly do recommend this movie if you are a history buff.

  • DISCUSSION:  During the small group I lead on Tuesday evenings, we were chatting about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and sharing some thing we all learned from the latest chapter we completed.  I was blown away by a couple of the thoughts that the ladies shared.  It was so deep and soooo good!!  I love small groups because it is so encouraging to hear how one another is growing in Christ or to share trials and prayer needs.  I'm thankful that even though there were only 3 of us this time, the discussion was deep and thought provoking.

my tulips are coming up!
7 March 2018

New snow!
Thursday morning about 7 a.m.

  • LESS THAN PREDICTED!  On Wednesday I had a professional workshop day.  Our students had the day off.  At the same time, there was another nor'easter moving in.  Remember, the East Coast had just had one last Friday (we got about 8 inches of snow I think with that one).  This one was predicted to be 8-18 inches depending on where in the capital region you were.  We ended up just getting 6 inches here in my town BUT...the funny thing was that the news media were telling people to get off the roads early.  So our director of the workshop sent us all home at 10:30 Wednesday morning.  It was not snowing!  I did some shopping, cleaning, reading, baking.  Then the snow hit.  Dave and Courtney got home safely as they both left a little bit earlier than usual.  Thursday morning we woke up to just about 6 inches so it was easy to shovel.  The school where I teach had a 2 hour delay so I had a nice slow start to the day yesterday.  The photos show Wednesday morning when I discovered my tulips coming up, and then Thursday morning looking from my family room/deck out onto the backyard.  What a difference, huh??  the blessing is that we didn't get as much as predicted.  THANK YOU GOD!

photo courtesy of Taste of Home website

  • NEW DINNER RECIPE!  On Wednesday afternoon I was looking through some cooking magazines and came across this recipe.  It was wonderful!  Dave, Courtney and I each ate 2 for dinner along with a Pineapple Coleslaw I made and Melon.  I was in the mood for a dinner that reminded me of Spring. I'm thankful we were all home safely and could eat yummy food together.  (Feel free to copy the recipe as the link takes you to my post from yesterday.)

That wraps up my week.

Tonight our ballerina daughter comes home for a week as she is on Spring Break from UNH!!
Her first year of college is almost over!!

Happy Weekend!