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

18 August 2017

LAST WEEK OF SUMMER SCHOOL FAVES!


It's my last day of teaching summer school!

The families all come today for a picnic and we say "good-bye" to four very special 5 year olds from our classroom who are transitioning to their respective public schools for kindergarten level.  

I'm looking forward to these next 17 days of vacation and tomorrow we bring our youngest child to the University of New Hampshire for her first year of college.  It's hard to believe.

Let's take time to find the FIVE FAVES from the week....we call these blessings we are thankful for...and link up with Susanne, our hostess.


 Claire on Rogers Memorial Park beach at
 the village of Bolton Landing on Lake George
Eastern Adirondacks


from l-r:  Emma (age 14) and Mady (age 9), Claire (age 18)
Mady and Claire love jumping off the dock!

My youngest daughter Claire with her two youngest cousins
(my youngest sister's girls:  Mady, Emma)

Jill and me
  • ANNUAL GIRLS DAY AT THE LAKE:  So my youngest sister Jill and I finally had our annual girls day at the lake.  We have been doing this with our girls for several years now.  We usually go to this lake.  But Claire requested that we go to our favorite beach on this gem of a lake. Bolton Landing is a very small village that comes alive in the summer and autumn months.  It is about a 20 minute drive north of Lake George village which is just too kitschy and touristy for me.  We love the park there and for only $5 you can park from sunrise until 11 pm!!  We had fun swimming, eating, walking up the hill from the beach to the village sidewalks and into a fave ice cream shop for a special treat.  We spent several hours on the beach before my sister and her girls had to leave due to some houseguests coming.  I really enjoyed my time with these gals and the weather was so perfect with bright blue sky and temps of 76 (F).


Our oldest daughter Courtney gives her testimony
 of why she is choosing water baptism


"
"In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"
  • BAPTISM!  Our oldest daughter Courtney decided it was time for her to be baptized!  This made Dave and I so proud and thankful.  She gave her testimony of accepting Jesus as Savior at age 7 but then not really doing much with it.  She shared about going to a Christian College where the Lord became more real but she didn't go deep until graduating and moving back home to join the young adult ministry at church.  The person baptizing her is one of her mentors and leaders of the young adult ministry.  This was such a happy occasion for us at church this past Sunday!





  • PEACE:  I needed some peace regarding a certain situation going on right now in our classroom.  I was waiting for an answer from the site supervisor about an issue that had come up this summer regarding some staffing changes and being the new person on the block, I was a little nervous as to what those changes were going to be.  After leaving it in God's Hands, of course I was still a little nervous, but there was also this underlying peace in my mind and heart. AND....yesterday morning, I was called in to the supervisor's office and she explained a couple of things to me that was going on and without revealing anything that is supposed to stay confidential, let's just say I LOVE my teaching job and I LOVE the changes that are about to take place in September.  I'm at peace and am thankful I didn't succumb to listening to the "chatter"  er gossip, that was flying around the school.


  • COOLER EVENINGS:  We have been blessed this past week with cooler temperatures at night so that we can turn off the central air and open the windows for sleeping.  It's been downright heavenly!

  • CHECK!  This past week, our youngest daughter has managed to get everything on the check list done!  We leave tomorrow morning for the state of New Hampshire and the university area which is a 4 hour drive from our home.  We will most likely need two cars but that is ok!  She is all packed and tonight we will start loading the bigger items into Dave's car. It feels so good to have everything done for the dorm room.  She moves in on Sunday morning!!
That wraps up my week.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  We covet your prayers as we travel to UNH/Durham and then on to the Cape Cod area.

Blessings to you all!!

11 August 2017

mid-summer faves

So here we are at Friday again!  This week flew right by me.  And yeah, because one week from today we say "good bye and  good luck" to the 5 year olds in our classroom who will be leaving our wonderful preschool and heading to their various special ed classrooms in their public school districts.  And then I will have a glorious 2 week vacation!

Let's pause on this summer day...we have a little more than a month left of this wonderful season, and give thanks for FIVE of our FAVE blessings.  


Sunflowers 

growing out by our bird feeder.......
from dropped bird seed.....
love that they brighten up the back corner by the shed and kayak rack


Fresh lemons for water....
....a natural detox and flavoring


hiking with old and new friends..........
in the Central Adirondacks...
 up Moxham Mountain

 for a total of 5.2 miles
mountains, small wilderness lakes,

 sun, clouds, rock cliffs
oh the wonder of it all!




Sitting on my deck.........
on a cool, summer evening..........
star gazing...........

2nd favorite month of the year




Annual Family Picnic
in Central NY
l-r: the host, my sister Hope, Mike (my sister Jill's husband)
their oldest daughter Emma, age 14 and my youngest sister Jill
much laughter revolving around the food and fellowship 
and fun with Apples to Apples game

L-r: my sister Joy (her oldest son and my oldest daughter had to work)
my husband Dave, and my sister Hope
 (her husband Donny was dealing with the grill)

we all loved sitting on the screened in porch!

beautiful sunny skies with cooler temps and no humidity!

That wraps up my week.

What were the special moments you discovered?

Please share and link up at Susanne's site.

Have a great weekend!!




09 August 2017

2017 Book Review #23: CHAOS

So happy that the latest book from one of my fave authors was on my town library book shelf last week.  I read her Kay Scarpetta series, although I have read 3 of her other fiction books and the biography she did of Billy Graham's wife.  I enjoy her Scarpetta series immensely and this latest twist, did not disappoint.

STORY SUMMARY

It is a hot, humid summer evening in Cambridge (Boston), MA. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner and forensic psychologist and her investigative partner and friend Pete Marino get a call about a dead, young female bicyclist found near the Kennedy School of Government where the next day, Kay and her long time friend and expert in forensics, Briggs are supposed to give a talk. The weird thing is, this young lady crossed paths with Kay just a couple of hours earlier over near Harvard Square!!

The young lady seems to have been electrocuted somehow!!  In fact, it is beginning to look like it wasn't an accident, but a homicide.  The strange thing is, before Kay even gets the call from her headquarters, the Cambridge Forensics Center, her FBI agent husband Benton Wesley, gets some suspicious phone calls on his private mobile number and the person calling pretends to be someone from Interpol!!

It soon becomes obvious that these string of murders (2 other people are found dead from similar causes and one will shake Kay to her very core!!) are related and the result of harassment from an anonymous cyberbully named Tailend Charlie.

Lucy, her genius tech-savvy niece, can't even figure out or trace just who this person is or how he/she comes to find out personal and intimate information about Kay, her sister Dorothy, Lucy and her partner Janet and their adopted son, Desi.

This is something much bigger than Benton, Kay, Pete and Lucy could ever imagine.  It is also extremely dangerous and will rock their world before they solve this problem.  And then.......they discover that something used in the crimes, is actually something that isn't even found on planet Earth.

What will happen when Kay gets to her house later the next day only to discover Janet, Dorothy and Desi in a hostage type situation.  Kay will get the shock of her life when she discovers just who it is behind these gruesome murders.

MY THOUGHTS

This was probably one of the author's most brilliant books in the series to date.  It totally surprised me at the end and it was something I was NOT expecting at all.

I did guess as to who was brought back into this latest book from previous Scarpetta novels.  That part really was no surprise and I was actually glad because a couple of her books prior to this current one were just downright boring in my opinion.

I do not want to reveal who this character is, because some of you might still need to read it if you are a Kay Scrapetta follower.  All I can say is.....be wowed....and although the confrontation between the "bad guy" and Kay was not as exciting as I was hoping, the twist at the end was well done and quite creative.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.




04 August 2017

Beginning of August Faves


How is it August already?  Part of me is glad, because this means that two weeks from today will be my last day of teaching summer school and then a 2  week vacation,  plus the holiday (Labor Day, 3 day weekend) break. Then, back to teaching on September 6th.  It will still be summer although late summer which is actually my favorite time of year!

For now, let's give thanks for the many blessings God brings into our lives.  One way to do that is by listing FIVE of our FAVES from the past week and linking up at Susanne's site.  She is our very gracious host.


  • VEGAN CLASS!  Last week, Claire (my youngest, who has been totally vegan for over a year now), and I took a free class at a library in a town to the north of us.  The class was only a little over an hour but it was excellent!  We learned all kinds of things and I learned how to get extra protein and certain vitamins.  I've been mostly dairy free and beef/pork free now for almost 3 years although every once in awhile I will still have crumpled bacon in an omelette.  This is the summer I am getting away from even that.  I do still eat eggs and soft serve ice cream.  But for cereal, I use unsweetened almond milk and for baking (which is rare these days), I replace eggs with ground flax-seed.  We learned about some tricks for shopping vegan and Claire learned that yes, vegans sometimes have to really watch their sugar intake.  We also learned that Canada has done away with the dairy section in their food guide!!  I think that's pretty awesome.  We learned that people in the USA have the worse diets of most other countries and the highest incidences of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease along with obesity.  Some of these facts I already knew. It was very informative and I'm pretty excited to be leaning more and more towards veganism.  For now, I guess you'd call me an ovo-vegetarian.

  • BREAKFAST OUT!  Saturday was Dave's birthday so we celebrated by going out to breakfast, which is what he really wanted, to a place called The Breakfast Spot not far from our home.  It was delicious and we got there just as they were opening for the day so we were in and out quickly.  The place really fills up on the weekends.  After that, we did some errands and then he relaxed most of the day while I did some shopping with my youngest for more dorm stuff.  I grilled his steak for dinner while Claire and i had a yummy vegan dinner. (photo below).  Dave wanted to eat while watching a video but I wanted to eat outside on the deck.  He loved the gifts we surprised him with (A board game and the latest book by our beloved Red Sox player).
my vegan (minus the cheese) dinner



  • FIRE AND A BOOK! So, the evening of Dave's birthday, he really just wanted to catch up on some ted talks or something so I decided to make a fire in the fire pit (he helped) and we sat together for a bit on the swing which was nice.  After he went in, I had time to just sit and relax with my book. One daughter was out working and the other daughter was out with friends so it was just so nice to have the backyard to my self.  The entire neighborhood was fairly quiet that night too.  It was a bit chilly with temps in the low 60s so just perfect for a fire.  I'm thankful for all of these kinds of moments that summer brings.

  • ROAD TRIP! On Sunday, Claire and I went to Vermont to this town.  Oh my goodness, the place was busy!  Many tourists and locals out enjoying the beautiful sunshine and perfect temperatures.  It only takes about 40 minutes to get to Vermont from our house and another 40 to get to the town where we were going...it is actually closer to NH than NY.  The town is kind of an artsy, "hipster" town and they have an amazing vegan cafe.  The cafe has very slow service (they have signs posted that they need another chef and wait staff) but the food is just out of this world!!  We were there for brunch so I chose Wild Blueberry Hotcakes (like muffins), and a sunseed scramble with fresh pressed lemonade with Vermont maple syrup. Claire chose the pesto melt sandwich on whole grain bread and a  seaweed salad plus the Funky Monkey smoothie. We also did a bit of shopping...she wanted to buy some Russian book from a used bookstore.  I actually didn't purchase anything because the dress I had my eye on was too expensive. I did end up surprising her with a very early Xmas gift:  The owner and head chef of the vegan cafe just had a book published with all kinds of recipes for her famous juices, tonics, and smoothies.  Oh my goodness...everything in that book looks amazing.  We will be trying some of the recipes before she heads to college and I told her we can try some when she is home during the Christmas break.  It was a fun day!

  • STAFF SUPPORT:  I have had to be the master teacher for the last two weeks at work because our classroom master teacher has been out......she is actually in the process of leaving after 16 years, to go to a different school.  So of course they asked me to be the teacher but I said no.  I want to stick with being just an assistant as I do NOT want the extra paperwork, meetings, home visits and IEP writing plus the annual reviews and testing.  Been there done that in my 20s and 30s.  SO.....because L had to leave for 2 weeks, I did agree to be the sub teacher.  And of course the agency is now looking to hire a new master teacher so we have had a couple of candidates visit our room. The staff on the classroom team plus my direct boss, have been very supportive.  I also have had to keep doing my job of dealing with the emotionally disturbed 5 year old I work with one on one and he has had many major meltdowns this week.  There are some major issues he is dealing with.  So the staff have really rallied around and been running the room while I work with him on some play therapy.  I'm very thankful to have supportive staff...it is truly a blessing!!

That wraps up my week.  We have a busy weekend here...a family picnic out to my sister's farm, and the next day I am hiking. So I will be watching church online again and counting the days until my vacation!

Whatever you have planned, take time to give thanks!!

Enjoy the weekend,


02 August 2017

Grilled Bean/Vegan Burgers

So most of you who read this blog regularly, know that my youngest daughter is a vegan and that I am trying that lifestyle out slowly.  For the past 4 nights, I have only had meat (deli lean, antibiotic and hormone free oven roasted turkey), once.  The other meals have either been vegetarian or vegan.

Tonight I tried the following recipe taken from a recent issue of Simple and Delicious magazine.

I LOVED these burgers...super easy to grill and takes much less time than beef or bison.

Warning:  there is a bit of prep to this recipe so allow your self about a half hour of prep/grilling before wanting to serve dinner.

This recipe makes 8 burgers....I grilled two and froze the rest.

Steamed spinach, Grilled vegan burger, peach

GRILLED BEAN BURGERS
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c. shredded carrot
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
dash of black pepper
1 (15 oz) can each of pinto and reduced sodium black beans,
 rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (I used spicy brown)
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 c. organic steel cut quick cook oats
hamburger buns, split


  • In a large nonstick frying pan, heat oil over medium heat; saute the onion for 2 minutes.
  • Add in the garlic and cook while stirring for 2 minutes.
  • Add in the shredded carrot and spices.  Cook and stir until carrot is tender.  This took about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, mash the drained beans.  I used a potato masher.
  • Stir in the mustard, ketchup, soy sauce.  Mix well and then stir in the carrot mixture, mixing well.
  • Add the oats and mix well.
  • Shape into 8 patties.
  • Grill for about 5 minutes per side.  Keep grill at medium heat.  Grill until just browned.
  • Serve on buns with lettuce, ketchup,  sliced tomato, pickles, or salsa. 
ENJOY!

DINNER IDEA:  I served these burgers with steamed spinach and fresh fruit.  

You can also serve with a side of pasta salad or tossed salad. Or any steamed vegetable of your choice.  For an easier, quick meal, serve with lightly salted veggie chips or blue corn chips!

If you eat cheese, consider adding a thin slice of cheddar cheese to the burger during the last minutes of grilling.  

NOTE:  these burgers are filling due to all the protein in the beans. There are 12 grams of protein per serving.


29 July 2017

Italy Trip Day 2

So to continue with a photo display and brief summary of each day of our trip to Rome, Italy I begin Day 2 with the weather. Oh my goodness it was still so hot.  I'm not a huge fan of temps between 85-98 degrees.  This day was not humid but it was so hot and the sun was bearing down even at 9 a.m. while walking to the metro.    I didn't mention our hotel at all in the summary for day 1.  We can highly recommend the Hotal Diana right in the heart of Rome....in fact, it is only a mile walk to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. However, the concierge there (I don't know the word in Italian), was NOT as assertive or helpful as the one in Paris.  They staff did answer any questions we had, but they didn't go out of their way to make us feel special and welcomed as they did in the Paris hotel.  But I found that to be anywhere in Rome.  Definitely a different feel.  The hotel had an "all you can eat" breakfast buffet every morning and you could also order room service (too pricey for us) or reserve dinner on their roof top garden. An Italian breakfast was a bit more than a French one:  a variety of thick artisan breads,croissants (much sweeter than French ones and I didn't care for them as they had powdered sugar on top), granola, milk but no almond or coconut milk so not super vegan friendly, excellent dark coffee or a choice of lattes, espresso or American style coffee.  I chose the regular Italian coffee, black which was excellent and didn't need sweetener.  They also had a hot dish (usually some kind of egg with sausage, ham or bacon...again, nothing for vegans), and plenty of fresh fruit along with tossed salad fixings.  The choice of juices was excellent and all were unsweetened and fresh from the actual fruit.  Most of the patrons ate inside the restaurant but many of us ate breakfast every morning on the rooftop. It was gorgeous.  The bathroom was done in real Italian tile and the bedroom suite was perfect.  Large closets and dressers.  I've always loved that Europe has their sink and shower areas separate from their toilet area.  We chose to stay in a non-American owned hotel (such as Marriot, Sheraton, etc.) because it is a bit more authentic to their culture that way. We also did the same in Paris several years ago.

We took the subway to the third largest park in the northern part of Rome, called Villa Borghese Gardens.  (the Spanish Steps lead to one of the entrances to the park!) The villa was built in 1605 after it had been vast vineyards. Cardinal Borghese owned the vineyards and he was the nephew of Pope Paul V.  The villa (house) is now the Galleria...the art is gorgeous.  Here is a sculpture of Paulina Borghese.

Most of the Galleria features paintings and sculptures by Bernini,Titian,  Raphael, and Caravaggio. There are also other artists featured but lesser known ones.  Of course, like every other museum in Rome, there were many many Madonnas and the Christ child. We actually were getting bored of these. We saw the Madonna (Mary) in so many different forms, colors, and shapes. I guess if we were Catholic we would appreciate them more but my faves were definitely the sculptures and art I am showing here on the blog.

Paulina Borghese in the Galleria Borghese
sculpted by Canova in the neoclassical period

The Gardens in the Villa Borghese Park are the famous English style gardens.  Here are a few of my favorite photos.  I especially liked all the lemon trees!

Villa Borghese Gardens
not open to the public but we had good views around the gates

love this lemon tree!
Gardens behind the Villa
we could walk through these..there were several
The only places in the park where there was grass was around the gardens. All other walkways, and under the trees, was dust/sand/dirt.  My husband thinks it is because there are many pine trees.  The pine trees are cut quite high so the needles are really only at the very tops.  But they totally cover the ground in many places.

another museum in the Villa Borghese Park
This was not open the day we were there.
Note the trees and lack of grass.
Claire really enjoyed the art in the Galleria so we spent about an hour in there exploring all the rooms. 
Claire enjoyed the art in the Galleria Borghese

My favorite painting which was actually a part of a door!
Can you guess why it is my fave?  comment in the comment section
 This was my favorite sculpture at the Galleria Borghese:
David and the slingshot with the stone, about to kill Goliath
Sculptor:  Bernini
This took 7 months to complete from 1623-1624
It has always stood in the Villa Borghese!




After we wandered around the Galleria and saw everything, we walked around the villa to the back gardens and down a trail that led to a street where middle class people live and work.  It was threatening to rain and rain it did!  We made it just in time to a little trattoria for a pizza lunch that also had vegan options for Claire, and while we ate, the rain came down. Lunch in Italy is very laid back and casual and isn't typically eaten until between 1:30-2 pm. By the time we had finished lunch, the sun was back out and it was a little humid.  We headed back to the Park to see the lake area, where we enjoyed a boat ride.  Tourist attractions are a bit less expensive in Rome than in the United States.  We were allowed a 20 min ride.  Dave did the rowing!  It was great fun.

Another fountain and garden just outside the Galleria Borghese

A typical apartment house in Rome
There are really no single family houses in the city as it is too crowded

looking down the street towards the Villa Borghese Park
from the Trattoria, where we had lunch
Part of a walled Gate area just outside the Villa Borghese/Galleria
but still within the Park.  We were not allowed past this gate.
Giardino del Lago
(The Lake Garden)
my absolute fave spot in the Villa Borghese Park


There were fountains on both sides of this temple

Dave...our captain!

lots of beautiful ducks and geese on the Giardino del Lago

Claire really liked the boat ride and watching the wildlife






 Ionic Temple to Aesculapius

After we did the boat ride, we headed to the area of oak trees next to the lake, known as "the plain of oaks".  It is here where we all read the books we had brought with us, enjoying the cool of the shade and the breeze that is constantly present in Rome.  I'm guessing it is because it is near the Mediterranean so they get the sea breeze. Although Dave tells me it is at least an hour or so to the sea.  Who knows?  Sometimes the wind does create havoc with the blowing of the dust, especially near all the archaeological sites.  But it is definitely refreshing.  This turtle amused us for quite a while because he was literally trying to get out of the gate around the lake by trying to squeeze through the slats.  I did manage to get a photo of him doing that, but somehow it and the one I took of the Globe Theater replica in the park disappeared from my phone!
After watching this turtle, another turtle came by and tried the same thing.  The first one just hung out but the 2nd one made it into the lake.

After spending about 2 hours in the park reading and walking around taking photos, we headed out a gate towards the Villa de Medici.  Yes. THAT Medici family!  Here are some photos from that area.


This is the name of the street and what a typical street sign looks like in Roma.

Villa di Medici which is now a restaurant and the French Academy




Towards the late afternoon, we decided to leave the park via the gate that was near the Spanish Steps, so we ventured back towards the Steps and took some photos.  Because it was late afternoon, when many tourists are shopping or having a drink or gelato (there is no open container law in Rome so there are cocktails to go!  We stuck to water bottles except at dinner when we enjoyed the absolutely amazing red wine!), the steps were virtually empty so we got some great shots:

Claire on the world-famous Spanish Steps
29 June 2017


Dave and I on the Spanish Steps


After walking the extra mile back to our hotel, we freshened up, rested for about an hour, changed our clothes to dinner attire and walked a little over 2 miles to a vegan place that Claire had researched.  It was located in a rather "dark" part of the city...but we felt safe as there were many people out and about.  Keep in mind that in Europe, dinner tends to be about 8 pm.  We arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 and were the 2nd family to be seated.  The entire menu was in Italian with NO English translations like other places we had been in so far, so our knowledge of other languages and our smart phones really helped us.  I ordered an amazing bean based veggie burger and roasted potatoes.  Claire had some kind of pasta dish with plankton.  I cannot remember what Dave ordered. We all enjoyed a glass of red wine plus water. Here is a photo of my amazing food.

Faith's veggie burger....much better than any here in the USA!


We walked back to the hotel at a rather quick pace...it was still hot out but had cooled off considerably now that the sun was down.  The streets were not well lit until we got closer to the hotel.  We all fell into bed quickly due to needing to catch a train the next day to Florence!  Thus ended our 2nd full day in Rome.