Category Archives: Adventuring

Weekend Hodgepodge—Hidden Falls Edition

I sit here swigging on green tea and Gatorade, recovering after a weekend making sure the little ones in my Girl Scout troops were drinking enough water, yet forgetting to drink enough myself. Despite neglecting to properly hydrate, I had a fantastic weekend at Camp Hidden Falls with 5 Daisies, 5 Brownies, 8 Juniors, and 8 Seniors. It was bright, sunny, and warm, with minimal tears or injuries.

Camp Hidden Falls

Camp Hidden Falls

Girls on Dock

The first night, just the Seniors came along. They quickly found their favorite hangout location on this dock at Sunset Lake.

Bunks

Our first night’s accommodations were in a nice cabin just past the lake. We slept in these bunks. I got the top bunk, allowing me to feel tall for once in my life! We spent the evening snacking, talking, tie dying, playing games and making crafts- A laid back night before the arrival of the younger girls Saturday morning.

Ferns

Saturday morning, we took a nice hike to the ranger’s station to pick up the young girls as they got dropped off at camp. Ferns are one of my favorite woodland landscape elements.

Turtle

This turtle ducked his head in just as we passed by.

Hidden Falls

While we waited for the rest of the girls to arrive, the punctual scouts visited Hidden Falls, a quaint bridal veil waterfall not far from the camp entrance.

Flower

Near the falls, we saw these dandelion-like flowers with pretty rust colored edges.

Lake View Tent Site

We hauled our gear to the Lake View tent site, where all of the girls would spend Saturday night.

Two-Seater Latrine

The latrines were unlike what I was used to- Behind each large door was two seats with a partial divider wall … Awkward.

Buttermilk Falls

After a quick lunch and a discussion of Leave No Trace principles, we hiked out to Buttermilk Falls, completing a scavenger hunt along the way.

Stream

The girls had a great time exploring the falls, stream, and surrounding woodland.

Millipede

The girls saw lots of critters, including toads, snakes, racoons, and millipedes. Fortunately, despite the presence of bears in camp, we didn’t cross paths with any of them.

Irises

These irises grew along the path back to our unit.

Board Game

After the hike, the girls made Sharpie tie dyed bandana (Sharpie markers & rubbing alcohol) and played this game the Seniors developed. After rolling dice to move along the game board, the girls had to find a corresponding number card hidden in the surrounding area.

Rock Doll

A symbol on the back of the number told the Seniors which task to have the girls perform before moving on. Tasks included creating dolls out of natural objects (pictured here), making toilet paper dresses, solving puzzles, hula hooping, etc.

Columbine

While the girls played their game, I took a moment to check out the lake shore, and discovered these gorgeous Columbine blooms.

Campfire Cooking

After playing games, the girls got to work preparing dinner. The Juniors built the fire and made soup, the Daisies made baked potatoes, the Brownies made salad, and the Seniors made spinach and rice casserole.

Pot of Gold Soup

Pot of Gold Soup was tomato soup, loaded with nuggets of cheese wrapped in biscuit dough.

Spinach Rice Dutch Oven Casserole

The dutch oven casserole contained spinach, mushrooms, rice, cheese, and eggs. It was a big hit!

By the time we finished dinner, the sun had set, so we washed our dishes by flashlight and toasted marshmallows for smores before loading “smelly” items into the bear box and putting the younger girls to bed. Then, once the young ones were sound asleep, myself and another leader took the Seniors to the dock for some midnight stargazing. We saw shooting stars!

Sunset Lake

Sunday morning, the girls had “Jungle Breakfast” (where their bag of cereal and fruit is hidden in the woods), and we said goodbye to the beautiful lake. By 11am, we headed home to check for ticks, shower, nap, rehydrate, and get ready for the week (and another camping trip next weekend!)

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Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend, I actually spent a fair amount of time out of the Lehigh Valley, both in NYC and in the Pocono Mountains. I took a vacation day on Friday, so my weekend actually began Thursday night.

The DInner Party

Thursday evening, I joined about 20 other people from the Moravian College community for an homage to Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party." We each created a place setting in honor of a women of our choice (I chose Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouts). We all shared dinner and presented our place setting and brief biographies of the women.

Blog Award Celebration

Just after I arrived home from the Judy Chicago event, I found out this blog won "best neighborhood blog" in the My Choice, My Voice contest. To celebrate, we picked up a pint of Ben & Jerry's and enjoyed a nice, stiff drink.

Central Park

Friday morning, we were up bright and early to catch a bus with the art department to New York City. We spent the first part of the day visiting with my sister and geocaching in Central Park.

JG Melon

For lunch, we stopped by the cozy J.G. Melon to try one of their famous burgers. They lived up to the reputation- Juicy and flavorful.

Violinist Archway

After lunch, we walked back to Central Park to find a couple more geocaches. This musician was taking advantage of the archway acoustics to practice.

Wrought Iron

In our meandering around the upper east side, we came across some really ornate architectural details, like this fence.

Whitney Biennial

After lunch, we headed to the Whitney Museum to see the Biennial exhibit. This wasn't my favorite Biennial ever, but there were several works I really enjoyed.

Performance Art

This artist was doing a sort of performance art/social experiment, having moved her entire studio into the Whitney. She works in her studio for 8 hours per day, living in front of the museum visitors.

Birds

This arrangement reminded me of a Tim Burton sort of composition. I liked the use of space and the wiry feel of the birds.

Eli's

After the Whitney Biennial, we trekked back up to 80th St. to visit Eli's, a great food store with all sorts of specialty items and fantastic breads.

Granola French Toast

Saturday morning, I attempted breakfast again, with this crunchy granola coated french toast, topped with honey yogurt.

Eli's Purchases

We quickly gathered a few purchases before catching the bus back to Bethlehem. We picked up some erryngi mushrooms, fresh squeezed juice, challah bread, and a chocolate croissant (to snack on during the trip home!).

Basil Fried Rice

After the bus dropped us off, we picked up some food from Thai Thai II and relaxed after all of the running around we had done.

Padula Potatoes

Saturday was the first day in quite a while that I didn't have something major planned. I visited one of my Girl Scout's mothers to help her set up a blog, then drove out to Padula Potatoes to pick up my last bag for the season. I took some to my friend's home and ended up chatting over tea for much of the afternoon.

Ramp Stuffed Potatoes

Saturday evening, I made these ramp (or wild leek) stuffed potatoes for dinner.

Hail

Saturday night, a strong storm came through our neighborhood and left hail covering our porch.

Jumbars New England Omelette

Sunday morning began with a New England Omelet from Jumbars.

Camp Hidden Falls

Sunday afternoon, I visited Camp Hidden Falls, a Girl Scout camp in the Pocono Mountains, to see how it might work for our service unit camping trip.

Moss Flowers

Just before the rain began, I noticed these beautiful moss flowers at the camp.

Rainbow Trout

We ended our weekend with a meal centered around some rainbow trout Kevin caught for us (it was the first weekend of fishing season). I had never prepared trout before, but this dish, topped with ramps and bread crumbs, was delicious!


Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend was supposed to be mostly work with little time to play. BUT, the weather was sooo gorgeous, I couldn’t bear to be inside staring at a computer screen, knowing that the sun was shining, breeze was blowing and spring had sprung outside.

Jumbars Brownie Sunday

Friday evening we had a last minute visit with one of my sisters over dinner at my parents house. We enjoyed some meatless lasagna, salad, Jumbars dinner rolls, and broccoli. The meal was topped off with Jumbars brownies, topped with natural vanilla bean ice cream, and a dollop of espresso fudge. Mmm.

Tober & the Sardine

Saturday morning started with a bit of amusement as Tober was supremely fascinated with this illustration of a sardine. Too cute.

Running Sneakers

I recently began the Couch to 5k running program, in preparation for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in May, so I went for a run in the brisk morning air on Saturday.

Food Co-Op Logo Sketches

Saturday afternoon was occupied by Bethlehem Food Co-Op business. First, I spent two brain boggling hours with the other designers, trying to finalize and whittle down our numerous logo options. Then, I met with a few other cooperators to discuss a feasibility study at the Wise Bean.

Daal

For a hearty and inexpensive meal on Saturday night, I whipped up a batch of red lentil daal (recipe coming soon!).

Girl Scout Sunday

Sunday, groggy from the daylight savings time change, I headed to a place I rarely go- church. It was Girl Scout Sunday, so the members of our troops volunteered to be ushers and host a coffee hour at the church where we meet as a thank you to the congregation.

Coffee Hour Table

The girls did a great job distributing bulletins, reading liturgy, collecting offerings, and providing food for the coffee hour. I prepared a vegan coffee cake to serve.

Green Pond

Sunday afternoon, I couldn't bear to be indoors, so Kevin and I set out on a geocaching expedition to some of the prettiest places in Bethlehem Township. The first cache we found was located on the shore of Green Pond. Tranquil, although it did smell a bit rank since the area is frequently flooded.

Louise Moore Flowers

Next, we went to Louise Moore Park and had a picnic, having brought some sandwiches from Martellucci's. Signs of spring abounded, and we were happy to see the large community garden.

Monocacy Meadow Railroad

Next, we followed our geocaching GPS to Monocacy Meadow, a small but pretty park that is a popular fishing location. We found a multicache and took a walk along the railroad tracks.

Housenick Park

The last park we visited was Housenick Park on Christian Springs Road, one we had never been to before. It is an absolute gem! This is a relatively new park, still being worked on, and is a fascinating blend of history and nature. It is large and beautiful; 55 acres of rugged terrain, abandoned estate buildings, and the Monocacy Creek.

Sprout

It was so refreshing to see the tufts of green popping up through the layer of dead brown leaves.

Sun flare

We explored the rugged outlying areas of the park, finding several geocaches.

Archibald Johnston Home

Another fascinating part of the park is the Archibald Johnston home, abandoned and disintegrating atop a hill. It's a beautiful structure, full of intrigue and faded elegance.

Archibald Johnston Home

After a bit of research when we came home from the park, we learned that Bethlehem Township has hopes to restore this grand building that was once home to the mayor of Bethlehem/Bethlehem Steel Executive Archibald Johnston.

Crazy Tree

We found our last cache for the day within this crazy tree on the edge of the park. It will be exciting to see the improvements as the progress of fixing up/restoring this land continues.

Through the reading we did about Housenick Park and Archibald Johnston, we also learned a lot about a current conflict between Central Moravian Church and local environmentalists and township residents. As it turns out, the downtown Bethlehem church inherited a large stretch of equally beautiful land directly bordering Housenick Park. Instead of preserving or conserving the land they were charged with by a Johnston relative upon her death, they have entered into discussions to develop this land into apartments and business properties. After seeing the land and realizing what development would do to the environment (especially the already stressed Monocacy Creek!), the atmosphere and the dwindling open space in the area, I sincerely hope the church acts as responsible stewards, finding someone else to properly care for the tract if they cannot themselves. I cannot adequately explain the conflict or intricacies here, but I encourage you to learn more about this possible poor decision in the works, and let your voice be heard if you want future generations to enjoy the great natural spaces we have in our town. If you’d like to read more about this conflict, click here for a recent article in the Morning Call.

* stepping off my soap box *

I am so glad to have stepped away from what could have been an glum indoor weekend full of chores and tasks to enjoy the great outdoor areas we have in our back yard. Supposedly, next weekend will be similarly nice out, so I’ll have to make sure to work hard this week to play hard next weekend!

(Don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogs in the Best of Blogs contest! You can vote once per category per day.)


Weekend Hodgepodge

Camping. Ah, sleeping outside, waking to the birds chirping and the sun beaming through the tent flaps, cooking over a camp fire … Or not!

Each winter, my co-leaders and I take our high school Girl Scout troop on a winter “camping” trip where they have no responsibilities with younger girls, no strict agenda, and indoor sleeping quarters. Basically, it’s a sleepover in the woods (with no hot water and latrines instead of toilets!), and it’s a ton of fun for the girls and the leaders.

Camp Mountain House

Friday evening, I headed up to Camp Mountain House to have a non-camping weekend with the gals!

Pine Cabin

We stayed in Pine Cabin, a cozy one-room building decorated with preserved leaves and mounted snake skins.

Friday night was full of giggling, a group trip to the grocery store and a chili pepper pinata. We crashed around midnight in order to get up for a full day on Saturday.

This particular weekend trip was exceptionally posh as the girls decided to earn their “Dinner Party” badge. It was the most sophistication my mess kit has ever seen!

Chick Pancake

Saturday morning began with some creativity as the girls fulfilled a badge requirement by experimenting with different garnishes and shapes for some fluffy pancakes. This little chick accompanied a menagerie of other pancake figures.

Breakfast Taco

I turned my pancake into a breakfast taco of sorts with granola, yogurt and berries.

 

Bigfoot

After breakfast, some of the girls helped one of the adults on the trip with some Bigfoot "evidence" for a mock-umentary she is making. It was pretty hilarious.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

What should have been a pretty simple lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup became a little more exciting when a misunderstanding led to the addition of sweetened coffee creamer in the tomato soup. Luckily, a bit of improv (lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, etc) salvaged the soup, leading to rave camper reviews!

Girls Cooking

After an afternoon spent playing hide & seek in the woods, the girls began preparing the menu they planned for their dinner party. I was really impressed with the choices they made- The recipes were fairly healthy, included lots of veggies and fresh foods and really showcased different cultures!

They started with this punch, the classic concoction of Hawaiian Punch, ginger ale & sherbet.

Mandarin Orange & Pecan Spinach Salad

Appetizer, Group 1: Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Candied Pecans & Honey Poppyseed Dressing

Appetizer, Group 2: Lentil Soup

Appetizer, Group 2: Lentil Soup

Appetizer, Group 3: Filipino Lumpias filled with fresh vegetables

Appetizer, Group 3: Filipino Lumpias filled with fresh vegetables

Entree, Group 1: Farfalle with Lemon, Walnuts & Basil

Entree, Group 1: Farfalle with Lemon, Walnuts & Basil

 

Entree, Group 2: Indian Rajma (red kidney bean curry) with Cucumber Raita over Basmati Rice

Entree, Group 2: Indian Rajma (red kidney bean curry) with Cucumber Raita over Basmati Rice

Entree, Group 3: Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles

Entree, Group 3: Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles

Somehow, I missed taking a picture of the first group’s dessert: Fresh Fruit with Chocolate Fondue

Dessert, Group 2: Kheer (Indian rice pudding with cardamom & almonds)

Dessert, Group 2: Kheer (Indian rice pudding with cardamom & almonds)

Dessert, Group 3: Apple Cobbler

Dessert, Group 3: Apple Cobbler

After setting up one heck of a dish washing line, we collapsed in food comas for one more night in the cabin. Clearly, we really roughed it this weekend!

T-Shirt Rag Rug

Throughout the weekend, I used spare time to put together this rag rug from some discarded t-shirts. It's currently matching our 1960s aqua & black bathroom!

Trader Joes

Unable to settle in at home after a weekend in the woods, Kevin and I headed down route 309 to Trader Joes with a gift card in hand. We treated ourselves to a few organic goodies (like steamed pork buns!) and headed home to make some tasty homemade mac & cheese for dinner.

Tober is Bagged

Finally, home for the evening, we settled in and hung out with Tober (who loved the Trade Joes bags!) in the kitchen. What a fun and food filled weekend!


Weekend Hodgepodge: Everclear Edition

I am still waiting for my hearing to come back in my left ear and my voice to regain strength after this weekend’s awesome Everclear concert, but fortunately my fingers still work, so I can tell you about it! The weekend got off to a pretty low-key start, which is actually just what I needed after a particularly long (actually, all-day) meeting at work on Friday. After a happy hour drink with some colleagues at Roosevelt’s 21st, my Friday evening was filled with my crocheted blanket, homemade turkey noodle soup Kevin made for me, watching Fievel Goes West and reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, then heading to bed at some ungodly early hour. Yeah, yeah, not incredibly exciting, but some Friday’s you just need to kick back, you know?

Keepsake Farm

Saturday saw me wake up early to get some errands accomplished and catch up on some work so I could party hard with no guilt later on. First stop was the new Keepsake Farm store for some much needed milk and cheese. The new farm looks much bigger—I'll be anxious to take a look around in warmer weather! They are still missing their fluffy cat, who got homesick and snuck out a screen in the middle of the night. Hope they find him soon!

Farm Market Goods

I also checked out the return of the SteelStacks market and was pleasantly surprised to find longer lines at the indoor producer-only market than I did at Walmart! Since the Westgate market kind of flopped for us due to a large presence of resellers, we had been holding out (and getting sparse in the kitchen) until this market reopened! I am sooo excited for all of this fresh, local goodness!

SteelStacks dinner

After knocking out some design work and preparing pierogi filling, we headed over to SteelStacks to grab something to eat before the Everclear concert Kevin got me tickets to for my birthday. We were suprised to see that the lobby area becomes a candlelit, table cloth -enhanced dining area on Friday and Saturday nights. The menu was still the same Aramark offerings, but paired with the nicer ambiance and waitstaff, it made for a nice meal! I had a southwest veggie soup in a bread boule.

Since we didn’t plan on a sit-down meal, we got upstairs to the Musikfest Café a bit later than I had hoped to. I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t get a good spot in the general admission crowd—A problem I frequently run into as a short person in large crowds. Somehow, though, despite the fact that we got upstairs just as the doors were opening, we managed to get a spot literally against the stage. No joke, I used the stage as a table for my drink. Needless to say, we remained glued to our places for the hour-and-a-half before the show started (it began a half-hour late).

Sinclarity

Finally, the show started with Sinclarity opening. They rocked the house pretty well, and their style warmed everyone up for Everclear. The only bummer was that they announced before their last song that all of their money from the tour had been stolen at the venue. Granted, they weren't very smart having all that cash in a backpack they proceeded to forget in a public bathroom at the concert venue, but it was disheartening to know there was a thief among us at the show.

Everclear Set List

We were so close to the stage that we had a clear view of the setlist the Everclear roadie taped to the floor for the bassist. I thought about grabbing it at the end of the show, but my hesitation in order to think about it allowed someone else to grab it first.

Everclear

We couldn't have asked for a better view of the band!

Art Alexakis Everclear

Art Alexakis went acoustic for a couple of songs, including a cover of "Brown Eyed Girl," which he dedicated to his daughter (they played this instead of "Strawberry" on the setlist). It was funny to hear him talk about paying tuition for his daughter in one breath, then about revolting against authority in another. 🙂

Sean Winchester, Josh Crawley, and Freddy Herrera harmonize

Sean Winchester, Josh Crawley, and Freddy Herrera harmonize as Art Alexakis strums guitar.

Dave French Everclear

Rhythm guitarist Dave French jammed on a great solo at one point.

Freddy Herrera Everclear

We were literally inches from Freddy Herrera, bassist. He was great, letting several of us (including Kevin & I!) strum his bass at one point, making eye contact, and smiling or making a face for the camera if he saw you taking a picture.

Art Alexakis Freddy Herrera Everclear

Art Alexakis also made his way over to the mic right in front of us a couple of times.

Autographed Everclear Album

Amazingly enough, after the show, the band came down to actually hang out with the fans that stuck around! We somehow ended up second in line to meet Art Alexakis, then mingled at the bar with the rest of the band for over an hour! I had the foresight to bring my cherished "Sparkle and Fade" album for autographs, although I forgot a Sharpie and had to rely on others for writing implements.

Freddy Herrera Colleen Marsh Everclear

Freddy Herrara, bassist, and me!

Sean Winchester Colleen Marsh Everclear

Sean Winchester, percussion, and me!

Josh Crawley Colleen Marsh Everclear

Josh Crawley, keyboard, who performed despite a bout of food poisoning, and me!

 

Dave French Colleen Marsh Everclear

Dave French, rhythm guitar, and me!

Colleen Marsh Art Alexakis Everclear

Art Alexakis, lead vocals & guitar, with me!

As if this night wasn’t amazing enough, a completely random stranger stopped me after the show to tell me how much she liked my blog. I had never seen this woman in my life! Unfortunately, I was too starstruck, deaf and exhausted to say anything particularly intelligent or appreciative to her, but it really did make my night!

Jumbars Omelette

Sunday morning got off to an appropriately slow start. The ringing in our ears had slightly subsided by the time we picked up our food from Jumbars. This omelette with sausage, spinach, caramelized onions and provolone, with multigrain toast, was perfect for sopping up the last of the Captain & ginger ale in my stomach.

Chocolate Mochi

After finishing a couple of other design projects, I walked up to my friend Cathy's house to meet up with some co-op folks and prepare for this Thursday's big meeting. Of course, good food abounded, including tasty hummus and this chocolate mochi—A sticky Japanese rice flour treat that I can best describe as a mix between chocolate pudding and jello, but stickier and vegan. It was delicious!

Pierogies

Finally, we finished the weekend out with a big batch of pierogies for dinner (and freezing for later).

Also, after a quick trip to Moravian’s south campus, we ended up running around in the cold trying to catch a big orange cat that was running loose in the cold. Unfortunately, he got spooked away just as Kevin was getting him to come over. Hope he found some shelter from this bitter cold!

Here’s to a weekend that sure beat the last one!

 


To Live with Intention

Well, the web is a buzz with “resolutions,” and I figured it’s about high time I jump on the band wagon. Last year, my only resolution was to not throw up on New Year’s, and I achieved that pretty easily. This year, my list is longer, but I cannot bring myself to call the items on it “resolutions.” The word makes me think of Congress, and I try not to mimic that cluster. So many of the words used to describe this phenomenon of fresh-start behavior feel clinical, boring and confining. I don’t want to set rules for myself. I want to make life changes and enjoy life’s experiences, little & big. So, I am penning (well, typing) this list of intentions and some ways I might live them out. Living with intention in itself seems like a pretty worthy goal for the next year, so I think I am off to a good start.

  1. I will live with intention to be healthy.
    1. Exercise at least 30 minutes 3 times/week.
    2. Drink 60 oz. water per day.
    3. Eat local, chemical free food.
    4. I will walk to work every day it is not raining.
    5. I will not become a self-loathing hypercritical crazy person if I don’t always seem to go by these intentions.
  2. I will live with intention to expand my mind.
    1. Read a book for at least 30 minutes 5 days/week.
    2. Write (on paper) at least 5 minutes daily.
    3. Work on a farm.
    4. Practice Yoga.
    5. Visit the Unitarian Universalist church to see what it’s like.
    6. I will learn more about wine.
  3. I will live with intention to connect with my community.
    1. Work on a farm.
    2. Shop local as often as possible.
    3. Become immersed in community programs I support.
    4. Attend at least one community event per month.
  4. I will live with intention to cultivate kindness.
    1. Express gratitude freely.
    2. Compliment others when warranted.
    3. Practice at least one random act of kindness each week.
  5. I will live with intention to widen my comfort zone.
    1. Learn to laugh out loud on a regular basis.
    2. Try new foods whenever the opportunity arises.
    3. Learn to cook local game (if Kevin provides meat).
    4. Get over my awkwardness about dancing in public.
    5. Lessen my apprehension about dogs.

Weekend Hodgepodge: New Year’s Edition!

Happy New Year! I am writing this while wrapped up in blankets, desperately hoping that I feel better by Tuesday when I have to go back to work. What started out as a stuffy nose last week has developed into a full on chest cold complete with chills and a mysterious rash on my wrists. Perhaps the doctor will be in order tomorrow, if they are open on “New Years Observed” …

Regardless, I am so happy that I was able to fend off whatever this is until today, which allowed me to have a blast in Hershey with Kevin this weekend!

The weekend started out with an unexpected meal out, since we lost power Friday evening. Not a clue why it went out, but Kevin jumped at the opportunity to try The Mint Gastropub, which I had been to before, but he had not.

Apple "Pie"

This picture doesn't do it justice, but we shared this Apple "Pie" appetizer that was sooo good. It consisted of an herbed shortcrust topped with thin sliced apples, sharp cheddar and bacon lardons. I MUST learn to recreate this! Our entrees were good too- I had "Hodgepodge" with veggies on polenta, and Kevin had truffled mac & cheese. Including drinks, it was cheaper than the Brew Works and (I think) even tastier.

Driving

Saturday morning, we hit the road for the hour-and-a-half drive to Hershey, with Jumbars sandwiches in hand. This is my hardcore driving face, apparently.

Clouds Hershey

Arriving in Hershey, the clouds looked a bit threatening, but it didn't rain. We stopped and got some white pizza at Phillip Arthur's Fine Food & Ice Cream (owned by the Fenicci's people), then checked into our hotel before heading to the park.

Hershey Park

Hershey Park was open at a steeply discounted rate for "Christmas in Candyland," plus we had downloaded a ton of coupons from the Hershey Advent Calendar for extra savings. Did you know Hershey park was originally a park for Hershey factory employees?

Kevin Candy House

After an afternoon riding the kissing tower, the skyview and the Reeses Xtreme Cup Challenge, we headed over to Hershey's Chocolate World for a snack and tour. We also saw this huge Victorian house, built completely out of Hershey confections.

The Forebay

One of the great coupons on the Hershey Advent calendar was for a free entree at The Forebay, so we checked it out! The food was great, and the wine list was impressive. Kevin thoroughly enjoyed a rosemary braised lamb shank with chorizo & bleu cheese corn pudding, and I had crab cakes with maple sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts.

Big Kiss

After dinner, we wandered downtown to the big New Year's Eve gathering. According to the emcee, 6000 people attended. This 300lb Hershey Kiss was waiting to be raised (instead of dropped) at midnight.

Kissmobile

The "Kissmobile" was stationed at one end of the festivities, distributing free samples.

We the Kings

Live music was the centerpiece of the Hershey NYE celebration. We missed the local opener, and there's not much to say about Nickelodeon's Ariana Grande, who was the national opener. She whined on stage. Enough said. BUT, We the Kings, the main show, was great! They are musically talented, and we liked their style, although their lyrics could use a little depth. They had great energy and even got us dancing (we aren't really dancers, but it helped us stay warm!). The Hershey characters came onstage at the very end.

Kiss Raise

The giant Hershey Kiss was raised from 11:59-12.

Fireworks

At midnight, a big fireworks display started. It was a great show, and we could see the people setting them off, which was neat.

 

Mini Ammo Can Geocache

Sunday, we found a couple of geocaches in the Hershey area before heading back home for me to collapse with this awful cold. It was a great New Year's Eve, and I'd have to say that Hershey knows how to do it right!


Weekend Hodgepodge: Long Weekend!

I left the valley again this weekend, this time for a girl’s weekend in Ocean City, MD at a Girl Scout adult event called “Sharing by the Sea.” It’s way more fun than the title makes it seem. About 100 women from the eastern part of the country gather at a hotel right on the beach for workshops, beach bumming and good times. This year, the theme was “Making the World a Better Place,” so we raised several hundred dollars for the Juliette Low Fund, a scholarship fund and a local food bank. We also held a food drive for the food bank, and several workshops focused on charitable acts.

In true stereotypical girls on the town fashion, our long weekend away began with a shopping trip at the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth, DE. I generally find some holiday gifts at the outlets, but rarely get anything for myself. This time around, however, I lucked out and scored some great deals (which I didn’t photograph before I hung them up)!

Sunset

We arrived in OCMD just around sunset, catching this beautiful glimpse along the road. (Thanks for taking this while I drove, Sue!)

Salty Dog

After hauling in our loads of craft supplies, we headed for the Salty Dog, a locals pub near the hotel.

Crabby Fries

I justified these crabby fries (fries, crab, cheese, Old Bay) for dinner by thinking of the dish as a crabcake platter minus the fried breading and roll. Healthier, right? Plus, thanks to a fridge in the room, I had some for breakfast the next day, too!

Opening Ceremony

We all gathered the first evening for a candlelight opening ceremony, passing the flame from all points of the compass.

SBTS Sticker

The committee ordered these cool SBTS bumper stickers for each of us. I have never been so tempted to destroy my paint job.

Sunrise

For some reason, I morphed into a grown-up all of a sudden and now enjoy getting up to watch the sunrise on vacation. This was the view off the balcony of my hotel room.

Workshop Crafts

Our morning workshops taught us several new skills, including how to make survival bracelets from paracord, fashion bracelets from soda tabs and heavy duty bags or envelopes out of flimsy grocery store bags.

Wind Lines Beach

After crafting all morning, a group of us walked the entire boardwalk. The strong wind made these cool lines in sand in addition to making our cheeks rosy.

9/11 Memorial

I found my first MD geocache at this firefighters/9-11 memorial along the boards.

Thrashers

Lunch consisted of more french fries (wish I would have remembered we were doing this when I ordered the dinner fries!) and subs. My co-leader & I shared this tasty cup from a boardwalk classic.

Lifesaving Museum

I logged a geocache at this museum with a friend on the trip.

Body Builders

Walking back toward the hotel, we spotted an arcade full of vintage games and decor. It was slightly creepy, slightly cool and so NOT where I would ever let a child play.

Funhouse

The old school arcade also had these funhouse mirrors, so I enjoyed feeling tall for once.

Skiball

After the creepy arcade, we headed for a more modern location with ski ball. We blew through lots of quarters here and had a blast. I ended up with black and blue knuckles from unjamming the balls in my lane.

Toys

We cashed in our 300-some tickets for a variety of novelties to bring back to our Girl Scout troops at home.

Salmon

After walking just under 5 miles, we were pretty hungry, so we drove around until we ran across Waterman's, directly across the bridge from the city. I had this excellent grilled salmon with Thai chili sauce and roasted red potatoes.

Bagpiper

Arriving back at the hotel, we entered the ballroom to find a bagpiper serenading a woman who celebrated her 50th birthday on that weekend. He was quite talented, but I have to say that bagpipes always make me think of funerals…

Silly Sister

Saturday night was spent enjoying a silent auction and the silly sister white elephant gift exchange. One woman received this truly terrifying mask. I lucked out, walking away with a color-coded set of chop and scoop cutting boards!

Fish

Sunday morning, the wind had died down, so I went for a beach walk before closing ceremony. Pardon me if this photo is gross, but I came across this dead fish laying on the sand and was intrigued by it. Anyone know what kind it is?

Finally, we all gathered one last time for a business meeting and closing ceremony. I especially appreciated the sentiment of the closing:

The Knot Closing

As the Girl Scouts of the USA approaches its 100th anniversary, I invite each of us to take a moment to think about Juliette Low (our founder) and those women who helped her in the beginning. Consider the society and lifestyle of 100 years ago. Women had no right to vote, they had to defeat obstacles for higher education, having a career meant struggling every step of the way, and even when a woman married, she became Mrs. John Wonderful—and she lost her own identity. In spite of the world they lived in, these women pushed on to build a program to teach young girls that anything is possible with courage, confidence and character. They DID NOT let worlds like MAY NOT and DO NOT stop them or the girls they led.

Now nearly 100 years later, we—today’s women—take for granted the struggles they endured and all the hurdles they conquered for those first Girl Scouts. We have allowed ourselves to become complacent in today’s world…

I would like to call upon the spirit of the women of our past and ask them to inspire us to untie the KNOTS that are in our minds, hearts and lives. To give us courage to remove the HAVE NOTS, the CANNOTS and the DO NOTS. Give us the courage to erase the WILL NOTS, MAY NOTS and MIGHT NOTS that may have found a home with us.

Ask them to give us the character to release the COULD NOTS, WOULD NOTS and SHOULD NOTS that obstruct our lives or the girls we lead. And please give us the confidence to remove from our minds, our hearts and our lives all the AM NOTS that we allow to hold us back, especially the thought, ” I AM NOT good enough.”

Let us rediscover the strength of our founders, re-connect and embrace their strength as we continue to take action leading girls into our second 100 years. Ad let us remember … The only NOTS we should allow are the KNOTS we tie with rope.


Weekend Hodgepodge

FALL IS HERE! The sky is bright in contrast with the golden leaves, the air is crisp, yet the sun is warm, and I can smell the occasional whiff of a fireplace as I wander my neighborhood. I love autumn—It is by far my favorite season. The colors, the weather, the food—Ahh! So, being that this was the first weekend that truly seemed to embody fall this year, I relished every moment. I spent the weekend devoting myself to the sights, smells, tastes and feelings of the season.

Herb Roasted Chicken Breast

I began the weekend with some Friday night cooking. These simple ingredients became herb roasted chicken, served with roasted beets and turnips. Recipe soon!

Turnip Man

As I was preparing the veggies, I couldn't help but play with my food!

Butternut Spinach Quiche Slice

Friday night, I also whipped up this quiche using one of my favorite fall ingredients—Butternut squash. I'll be posting this recipe soon, too!

I also cooked up a big pot of chicken stock Friday night. You should be jealous of how my home smelled that night.

Pumpkin

Saturday morning, I got up early to tackle the pumpkin we received in our final CSA share for the season. (Yes, final. * sniff, sniff * Our farmer's fields succumbed to the rainy weather.) Instructions on how to turn a pumpkin into something useful will be up later this week!

Zumbathon

Having successfully transformed the pumpkin into puree and toasted seeds, I took a brisk walk to Moravian College to participate in a Zumbathon hosted by my sister-in-law's sorority. Two hours of looking like a fool, having fun and getting a great workout to support breast cancer education!

Kevin Bear Rocks

After a quick shower, Kevin & I were off for a short hike to Bear Rocks, one of our favorite places along the Appalachian Trail. We were looking for a geocache hidden here, but didn't find it.

Colleen Bear Rocks

I must have been feeling a bit masochistic to climb this after two hours of Zumba.

Us Bear Rocks

We made it!

View from Bear Rocks

The View from Bear Rocks is always worth the climb, especially at dusk.

Bake Oven Knob Sunset

After searching every crevice in Bear Rocks for the geocache, we hiked back the other way on the AT to view the sunset from Bake Oven Knob. Still rocky at BOK, but a little easier to navigate in the dark than Bear Rocks!

Jumbars Strata

Sunday morning started off with some great takeout from Jumbars. I enjoyed the flavors of fall in this whole wheat strata with sage and apples, topped with sausage gravy. Kevin had a sausage & farmers' cheese omelette.

Sage Scones

Inspired by breakfast, I whipped up a batch of stinky cheese and sage scones to pair with soup I anticipate making this week. Yet another recipe to look forward to seeing here!

Saucon Rail Trail

We walked off our breakfast with a few mile jaunt on the new Saucon Rail Trail, finding several geocaches along the way. The rail trail is quite beautiful and passes some seriously large homes!

Vulture

This vulture was circling and swooping right over our heads.

Flint Hill Farm Cows

After our walk, we drove to Flint Hill Farm to check the place out as part of Lehigh County Open Gate Farm Day. We got to buy some fresh butter, made from milk from these cows!

Flint Hill Farm Horse

I was envious of this horse's hair.

Flint Hill Farm Goat

A kid goat! Since the farm is an educational center, too (offering programs and service opportunities, plus training for handicapped individuals), we also got to see a milking demonstration.

So, all in all, this weekend was a huge dose of autumn. Now, at 12:33AM, with the apartment smelling like spices and a cool breeze coming in the window, I am off to bed to catch up on sleep!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 9

The 9th and last day on the road was a pretty straight shot of driving, but we had a chance to sit down for a yummy breakfast and find a geocache before we left Sturbridge.

The small diner next to our motel, Annie’s Country Kitchen, received rave reviews online, so we decided to investigate before check out time. I had a bit of déjà vu there that leads me to wonder if I had eaten there on a family road trip with a stop in Sturbridge in the past. The food was delicious, and the place was packed! When we left, the line was well out the door. I ordered a short stack of blackberry crisp pancakes (with crumb topping cooked in!) and a side of homefries, and Kevin had a corned beef hash omelette.

Blackberry Crisp Pancakes

Blackberry Crisp Pancakes—Even with a short stack, I brought one of this mega-cakes home!

Kevin's Omelette

Kevin's Omelette

On the way to the highway, we stopped to find a geocache at an unexpected monument/sculpture/park within eyesight of the interstate. It was an easy find, but we stuck around for a moment to take a closer look at the sculpture on the side of the road. It was an odd location for such a memorial. I looked the names up online, and could only find that the individuals were athletes who may have been run over by a truck.

Sculpture

Sculpture

We then hit the road to make good time back to Pennsylvania.

MA to PA

MA to PA

Our only detour on the route back was in New Jersey, just so we could be sure we found a geocache in every state. We got off the highway and found a pulloff near a trailhead. Walking down the trail into the thick woods, we were already stuck in the mud by the time we realized how wet the area was! So, since our shoes were already completely submerged, we carried on down the path. We found the geocache near this cool old car.

Cache Car

Cache Car

Finally, we returned home, fairly exhausted but quite content. Our animals were happy to have us back, and I think my in-laws were quite relieved to be done trying to give our enormous rabbit medicine twice a day. The trip was a success, involving adventures of epic proportion each day. Maine is certainly a state of great natural beauty, in an era when many states seem to have lost some of that valuable trait.


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