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Category Archives: Summer Fun

Kicking off 2018

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I read a post this week at Feeling Stitchy asking if anyone still blogs anymore. An enjoyable comment thread ensued with most people sharing that they still did and they did it because they liked to keep a record of their sewing/crafting etc. It made me think about how much I love this blog as a record (even though when I started it ELEVEN years ago) I didn’t actually think it would be a journal.  And I feel inspired to write a post. After all, I do have a couple new embroidery items to share.
This might be the first year that I didn’t follow up my “year in review” with a New Year’s Resolutions post. I think I’m probably in a “same old same old-let’s see what I do this year” kind of rut. However, one difference is that I KNOW I will embroider and sew more because I’m no longer taking those extra graduate course that have been hanging over my head for two years. I can honestly say since the end of December it’s been such a weight off my shoulders (Paul: “Really? Because it didn’t seem like you did that much work.” yeah, but I was always thinking about it!) My point is-here I am with a glorious Saturday and Sunday with nothing scheduled and I can indeed just try to get back to enjoying my hobbies. First up in January (Oh how I love sunny cold January weekends!) was finishing up this land-head-girl piece: 20180113_175540

I had the pattern download for a pretty long time (purchased from Etsy shop Cozy Blue) and half-heartedly poked at this at occasional stitch-a-thons, but now I was ready to really enjoy and finish it.20180113_175553 My favorite parts are the birds/clouds and her face.
20180113_175558 I love how it turned out and now I need to frame it. Which reminds me of the now long since finished adorable teapot which was meant to be made into a cozy and now just sits on my sewing table.

I’m ready to plunge into a new project! But before I did that I was eager to use some of my new Benzie felt and make something. I found someone on IG who makes lovely felt pincushions and the like and I found it inspiring to look through all her pictures. Why not just embroider and make out of felt pictures of things I like? So simple, but seeing that process was like a lightbulb for me. So to begin with I decided to make a little Valentine’s Day ornament. ( I have a co-worker who bought a house. I intended to do a felt Christmas ornament, and even cut out the pieces, but somehow December passed, and so now she gets this.)  A few weeks ago I had a card-making night at my friend Melissa’s. I really liked this one I made: 20180203_104730

Melissa liked it too and so did a similar design, but giving her panda a whole bouquet of the hearts. Bouquet of hearts? Hmm…. instead of a felt panda though, I went to my go do-an adorable bird. 20180128_164758I love how this turned out
-especially the effect of a single strand of white floss to be the many strings of all those hearts aloft.IMG_20180130_194048_558
I used a blanket stitch around the edge.
I like this so much I think I’ll do another one for myself.

Perhaps my resolution for this year is to return to my special hobbies and also return to writing about them!


Live Free or Die (a vaguely threatening motto…

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Our much anticipated summer vacation has come and gone and it was wonderful! This year we went to New Hampshire, where I’ve never actually stayed before and neither has Paul. Frankly we just hoped that we’d picked a place that would be pretty, have a few things to do, not too much, have some ice cream nearby, and we’ve both relax and have fun together. We picked a place off of VRBO, which not knowing anything about the area, was kind of difficult. But guess what? Our vacation luck streak continues! It turns out we had chosen a popular (but not wild) outdoorsy area of the lakes region. Little Squam Lake was an offshoot of the big Squam Lake, and the whole thing was surrounded by woods. Not only that but it’s where On Golden Pond was filmed! As soon as I heard that I started listening and looking for loons. We never saw any, but one night around 3am I heard them!!! I was very excited by that and woke up Paul so he could listen too. We heard them the next night as well. Our Little Squam Lake area was perfect-we had access from our cabin to a small beach shared by a couple other houses. We loved kayakingThe lake here was very shallow and not too big. We could just step onto the paddleboards and take off, or kayak, or swim, or canoe. From the water, looking toward the shore:Floating on the calm lake, if only I had a book in my lap...
The water was unbelievably crystal clear, and even though there were rushes and water lilies, it was not murky or icky.lilies The water was like a mirror. The water was like a mirrorI even found it delightful that there were turtles: friendly turtles swam by usThe whole little lake area was a no wake zone and we enjoyed kayaking all down it and checking out all of the lake houses and boats along it. At the other end was a covered bridge and once you went through that you were into the big lake, which was very big and people waterskiied and the like on it and could drive their boats fast. On our last day we hiked up a mountain to a spectacular view of the whole Squam Lake (and Little Squam, etc.) and this is what it looked like:
The view of it all!
We ate plenty of ice cream. We were especially enamored of something called a “Snowball” which was a scoop of ice cream rolled in toasted coconut and hazelnuts, sitting on hot fudge and topped with whipped cream. I was happy to read a few books, and we even played enough games to satisfy me. And we had a couple of outings too. In addition to the hike we also spent a whole afternoon at the Squam Lake Natural Science Center,an evening at the “world’s largest arcade” (Funspot at Weirs Beach/Lake Winnipesaukee) and another morning at the Polar Caves. The whole caves thing was reminiscent of Bushkill Falls–a natural geologic feature turned into a family attraction. In this case it was a series of caves in this mountain. I opted out of 3 of the caves, including the “Lemon Squeezer” and “Orange Crush.” One of the caves was called “Fat Man’s Misery.” There were definitely some tight and narrow spots, but none of us got stuck or freaked out.

All in all, it was a terrific week away!

A Retro Day

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Last week I saw a listing on Freecycle for a girl’s banana seat bicycle. Tabby has always been in thrall of them from me talking about how great they were when I was a kid, so I jumped on this. I picked it up on Thursday and it’s lovely and in great shape. A pink Schwinn with the flowers on the seat still looking good, the chrome shined up nicely, and it fits her. She has been having such a great time with it. Yesterday we went to the park to ride it (alas, after all the effort of putting the bike rack on the car, filling my tires, wrestling the bikes on to it, getting to the park, wrestling the bikes off of it, I discovered that my rear tire was flat again and apparently has a hole in it.) Since I remember my own banana seat bike so fondly I hopped on to see if I cold pedal, even though it’s too small for me. I could! It was wonderful! Here’s a blurry pic Tabby took.
Our second retro event is sewing related. Last week I buckled down and sewed together the quilt top of the green and white giant pinwheel quilt. I am really pleased overall with my points (Here’s a perfect one, but they weren’t all perfect) and the overall look. For the backing I got the idea that a vintage green and white sheet would be perfect. Got on Etsy, found several to choose from, I especially liked one and it was only $15, which I certainly couldn’t buy 4 yards of fabric for, and ordered it on Friday. It arrived yesterday (so fast! 5 stars for that seller!) and it looks perfect. The greens actually match perfectly. I’m going to baste the quilt together today and then I need to figure out how to quilt up those vast white triangles.
Last week Tabby went to Girl Scout camp (day camp) and loved it. The camp has been closed a few years and just reopened this summer, so it was her first time. The week included a final overnight on the Thursday of the week, which she really enjoyed. After she returned Clark headed out early Saturday morning with his Boy Scout troop to go to Virginia for a week of camp. I’m sure he’s having a great time, though we do miss him. Paul, Tabby, and I are doing lots of movie nights of movies Clark never votes for her. First we watched Moana, then last night Tabby chose The Shaggy D.A., which was a hoot. Between the bike, the fabric, and the movie is was a full day of visiting the past!

Happy Summer!

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It’s been a bit over two months since my last post, but I’m inspired to catch up-mostly because my dear friend and loyal reader said she missed it and today is her birthday, so here you go Perri! As a present to you I will be self centered and write all about my life 🙂 I think I will work backwards with the last few days. (*edit: it’s two days since I started this, so no longer her birthday, but there you go.)
Yesterday late afternoon I was thinking about the two fresh apricots I had bought and some leftover toasted almonds on my counter. I thought, “hmm…I bet that Thin Pear Tart I sometimes make in the winter would be a quick and tasty dessert with fresh apricots, and I even have the 2oz cream cheese necessary for the dough.” I easily whipped up the dough (this really is a quick and easy thing) and then saw that the apricots had rotted. No matter-the NJ blueberries are showing up at store and I had a few tasty pints in the fridge. I scattered blueberries across the top, baked, and voila!
Now, what else? Since that last post we’ve had Paul’s birthday

Father’s Day (I don’t have any cute pics of Paul and his human children, so here’s a very sweet picture of Paul and the kitty who adores him.)

The Last Day of School.  This is such a crazy event for me still and the whole last month of school felt so exciting and like we were barreling towards summer. I will really miss some of the students and it made me feel so good when many of them told me that they would miss me (our 5th graders are moving up to middle school.) I may have been even more excited than the kids for school to end. This was my first full year of teaching and hooray! I made it!! I like my job a lot, but was definitely ready for some resting and recharging, looking forward to plenty of time in the hammock and plenty of reading. [School got out June 23, today is July 4th, and I’ve read 7 books so far.]

Since summer has begun we haven’t done much of anything: reading, relaxing, kids playing with friends. I did sign up for tennis lessons through the rec dept. and am doing that with friends. We’ve only had 2 lessons so far, but I think we’re doing great! I even got together this morning just to play with someone. I know I’ll be even better when I can actually run to the ball. Presently I’m plagued by a painful knee situation. After being troubled by it for weeks I did go to the dr. and unfortunately the treatment is one of those slow and steady “do this exercise every day” things. It’s been a week and today it hurt all day long. Which is a total drag and makes me cranky.
I hosted a luau themed bunco, which was an excuse to make pina coladas and pull out a bunch of “tropical” recipes.

The main thing I’ve been itching to do since school let out is get into some sewing projects. I really do miss having the time to quilt or embroider (yes, I could do it in the evening, but I’m usually just needing to lie down in front of the tv), which is my creative outlet.I am hoping to make 2 quilts this summer. One is a giant pinwheel, which I got the pattern out of a book a long time ago. My pinwheel will be green and white, and I bought all the fabrics a couple months ago. I cut out the squares of green, but neglected to buy the background fabric, which I’ll be doing later this week.(*done! and I bought a hot pink for the binding, which will be a perfect accent.) The second is something I started a long time ago and then somewhat recently made a plan for. Like the pinwheel quilt it is all triangles (not my best shape-let’s see how many points line up!) and I bought the fabrics a few months ago. I sorted out the triangles today and made 5 blocks. I have a lot of pieces and have decided to NOT lay out the whole thing at once, but rather create a lot of blocks and then decide how they will be put together. My general guideline is that the center is a pair of peachy/coral and a pair of mushroom/taupe and the outer triangles are in the green/blue collection. But the pairs don’t necessarily have to match. I’m not even sure if it will all be put together just block after block after block, or if I’ll separate the blocks into concentric squares. I love all the fabrics I chose for it.

Finally, here’s a darling dishtowel I started, oh, years? ago. This was a set of retro style embroidery transfers, and I put this on a vintage style dishtowel. I think I got both at Walmart on the cheap. When I didn’t have a bigger project at our stitchathons I just worked idly on this. I basically forgot about it and came across it a couple of days ago noting that I only had the text left. What was I waiting for? Not only is it cute, but it would also be an adorable background for freshly baked bread that I’m taking a picture of for IG!

In the coop our numbers have continued to dwindle. A small sad flock remains. However! A hen finally went broody and last week chicks hatched. But it was a difficult week, there were deaths, and there is just one little chick. Let’s cross our fingers it grows up to be a hen, not a rooster. *update: the chick died yesterday. I found it lying on its side, dead. What gives? did a big chicken step on it? Not only that, but this morning it looked like something scratched up the dirt outside the coop gate. And the mother is missing. We are down to 4 hens and 3 roosters.

Willow just had her second anniversary of coming to us. Boy has she grown! We are so lucky to have her-she really is a marvelous dog.

In other dog news, my mom got a new dog! His name is Harry and he is adorable.
And today (2 days ago) is Blackie, our only remaining guinea pig, ‘s birthday. She is 5. I guess she’s at the far end of a guinea pig’s life span, but she still seems pretty spry. She even accommodated me for this birthday photo op.

We are not doing any vegetable gardening this year, save for lettuce and cilantro in a pot. Our peach tree is loaded with peaches and we hope at least a few will be edible. For the first time EVER the sad apple tree has apples on it- 3!

The flowers are in mad bloom and there are so many lovely colors everywhere. The coneflower has spread even more, making the front garden look almost cottage gardeny-just what I’ve always wanted. I’ve noticed that coneflower is also very popular with many different insects and butterflies and moths, so that’s good.

And, of course, peony season was tremendous and beautiful.

And as I type this we are getting ready to celebrate Clark’s birthday–#12! He is now officially taller than me by 1 1/2″.  Ok, that was also a couple days ago. The day was celebrated with many special meals and some fun at the arcade.


I think I’ve gotten some photo organization under control and hopefully will do more posts this summer that aren’t so long and rambling, but perhaps focused on one thing at a time. With that in mind-time to start sewing! (Of course it poured rain all morning and I cozied up with a book. Now the sun is out and it’s gorgeous and I probably SHOULD be doing outdoors things.)

A Look Back at 2016

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It’s time for my favorite post of the year! A look back at the past year. I really enjoyed reading the 2015 look back just now (that stuff was so long ago!)
2015 began with a bang for us-I got a job and returned to work. I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year anniversary of my first day! Obviously it’s been an adjustment in many ways for all of us (including the dog), but overall I’m so happy to be back in the field and very happy where I am. Not surprisingly, many of my hobbies took a hit from this, especially photography and sewing. I thought I’d make it up in the summer, but I didn’t.

In the spring Clark graduated from Cub Scouts and achieved the Arrow of Light. This was a big deal ceremony and we were very proud of him and happy for him. After so many years with the Cub Scout families and events it was a change for all of us to say goodbye to all of it.img_5945 Clark joined a new Boy Scout troop and has liked it very much. It began with going away to camp when summer began and continued in the fall with a few camping trips, some of which Paul went on. The best was a trip to Harpers Ferry W VA. A cool thing their troop does is have their own patch for the Appalachian Trail. You get a pin for each state you hike 6 miles of the trail in and spend a night in. In December both Paul and Clark received the patch with their first three pins on it. So far he has achieved Tenderfoot rank, which I wrote about here because of the embroidery aspect of it.
Meanwhile, Tabby and I continue along in Brownies. I’m happy that I was able to continue on being her leader, as I really enjoy our group of girls. Our troop attended our first “Camporee” and had a great time. It was not so much camping as all of us (including parents) attending an outdoor resort. We stayed in cabins and got to canoe and zipline and swim and it was all a lot of fun (even if Tabby & I were huge babies on the ropes course and got terrified.)2016-06-04-10-59-09
While Clark was at camp this summer Tabby and I took a trip to visit my dear childhood friend, Joanna, and her daughters. We enjoyed our road trip very much and spending time with our friends. We capped it off with an extra special surprise visit to the National Zoo. Tabby adores pandas and to see them in person was very exciting for her (and me!) It was super fun and special.




After that it was pretty much just summer as usual, until we took our family vacation to Boston. Although I barely posted anything this year, I did write a pretty big post about that trip here.  It was a super vacation including whale watching, art, history, and the big event-Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. mosaicboston
Speaking of concerts, it was a big year of concert going for me and Paul. I wrote about all the summer/ fall concerts here. All told, I went to see the Indigo Girls, Guster, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam (twice!), Weird Al, Kishi Bashi, Band of Horses, The Monkees, Squeeze, The Legend of Zelda (symphony), Pokemon Symphonic, Ben Folds, Ben Folds with yMusic, XPN Fest (Darlingside, David Wax Museum, The Districts), Barenaked Ladies (with Howard Jones and OMD),  Flight of the Conchords, Crash Test Dummies, and Richard Thompson. It was a good variety of music and venues and a great part of the year.2016-09-24-22-37-56

We had one other trip this year, and that was a short getaway to Watkins Glen, NY. We’re not race car fans-the allure for us is the amazing gorge there. We’d been there once before, just to hike the gorge (in the rain!), but this time we stayed in a cabin for a couple nights. It was a lovely relaxing trip that included not just hiking the gorge, but also a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, which was awesome.mosaicwatkins

Our menagerie remains large, but this year we sadly said farewell to Nibbles. He had been losing his sturdy plumpness and got rather thin and then one day it happened. We all loved Nibbles and were sad to say goodbye to him. Nibbles

We also said farewell to my mom’s dog, Sophie. At 16 1/2 years old she had a wonderful long life, but her departure left a hole. Perhaps she’s playing somewhere with her dear old friend, Pippin. In the coop there many additions as well as deaths. Our big President Rooster died, I chased a fox across our front yard who had a chicken in his mouth-she escaped but he came back for her and her dumb friends on the following two days. There were 13 chicks hatched over the summer and it was just baby baby baby peep peep peep everywhere.2016-08-09-13-17-32
Peeping out from Mother Hen
Some babies were nurtured more than others and of the un-nurtured group, who never were taught to go in the house at night, 6 of the 7 eventually got killed. Idiots. Our rooster Baddie was dethroned as the king of the coop by a up and comer young new rooster. Gordon continues to live in harmony with his chicken friends.
Willow continued to grow and mature and although she still eats food off the counters she is a marvelous dog. Although I think we both miss the big daily walks, she is actually very happy to instead have shorter walks in the meadow where I let her run off leash.2017-01-01-15-46-40

There were, of course, other fun days here and there-a Princeton football game, a Princeton hockey game, Tabby performing as Augusta Gloop with her 4H club at the fair, visiting the aquarium in the midst of XPNFest, holidays, birthdays, and fun for me-special days at school. One especially fun new thing this year was embarking on a long term tabletop game with our friends, Liz and Eleanor. We began Pandemic Legacy, which is a very intense game in which we are working to save the world from horrible pandemics. As you play the game you affect the board, actions, and characters (you can kill some) for the duration of the year long game. We are about halfway through and all I have to say is, good thing we’re not the real CDC.

Now, although I did say I haven’t been keeping up with photography, and there’s been a sad reliance on my phone this year and lack of Flickr participation, I did set one photography project for myself that I really enjoyed. Matching the Crayola colors from the 64 box to real life flowers in my garden.


I didn’t even keep up with my “Favorites of 2016” folder! Here’s a link to it.

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Now, the elephant in the room. I can’t talk about a year end reflection without acknowledging that since November 9 we’ve all been down in the dumps (well, the adults in the house) and had our beliefs about mankind and the world gravely shaken. I have tremendous worries and concern about the next 4 years, but I will strive to do one small part by teaching my children to show respect and kindness to people and stand up to bullies.  Although it may not feel like it, I know there are still good people in the world and good moments. Would you believe we met another Pearl Jam fan in Boston and kept in touch? I mean, how lovely is that?  And I get to be a librarian again and immerse myself in educating and sharing books with students. And I get to see my children growing up and being smart. And even though I didn’t enjoy my hobbies as much this year, I do have them! And I met my reading challenge this year (read that big recap of my top books of the year right here.) And I have a super husband who is my concert partner and biggest fan. So, that was 2016. Let’s see what happens in 2017!

Boston: Travelogue

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Last week we took a trip to Boston for an action packed 4 day vacation, which included the previously written about Pearl Jam concert.  But what else did we do that left us so tired? We arrived on Thursday late afternoon and checked in to our hotel. We were staying kind of outside the city in the midst of not much, an option that many other PJ fans were doing as well. Free parking, free shuttle to the T stop that was 2 miles away, and much cheaper than right in the heart of the city. The one thing that was by our hotel was a Boston Bowl, so we ate dinner and went candlepin bowling and had a grand time. Speaking of the T stop, we spent an awful lot of time on this trip taking the T to get here and there, including many transfers. For our kids, who live in a public transportation free area, this is easily one of the most fun parts of a city vacation. They loved it and that we rode all the lines. And let’s face it, people watching is so much better than when you just get in your car and drive to Wegmans.
On Friday we did the quintessential tourist thing and took a duck tour.2016-08-05 13.33.28 Before it started we had two hours to spend at the Museum of Science (that was the starting point of the tour) and it was a really lovely science museum. zapWe only saw part of it and would have liked to have gone back after our tour, but lunch and other things beckoned. As for the Duck Tour, I was really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. We were driven all over the city while the knowledgeable tourguide told us all kind of interesting facts about everything we saw.IMG_6903 It was a good way to not have to walk everywhere and get a nice overview. And we did so enjoy the part where we went into the Charles River and the kids even got to drive the boat.
Afterwards we headed over to Quincy Market and got some food and ate outside and walked around and soaked up the ambience. Then went into a branch of Newbury Comics for a long time and bought new graphic novels.
We then met up with my mom, who had driven up that day. We went swimming at the adjacent hotel in the funny little incredibly deep pool, and then all refreshed and hungry, headed back into the city for a late night dinner in the North End.  Because it was late I figured we couldn’t dither around trying to compare restaurants to find just the right one. We walked briefly and I saw a place off the main street, it looked charming, they had room for all of us, so in we went. And o what vacation serendipity!! First, when I got home and looked back at emails I saw that someone had actually recommended that restaurant! (I hadn’t even noted the name.) Second, it was one of the best meals of my life. I had the cioppino and it was spicy Italian seafood heaven. My mom had the lobster ravioli which was incredibly rich and delicious. And Paul had some “four meats” thing that was Italian meat heaven. We wrapped up the night by heading into the famous Mike’s for famous cannoli.2016-08-05 22.12.01
On Saturday Paul took us over to Cambridge to Harvard Square. I should mention here that Paul used to live in Boston for a couple years, going to school, working in a bookstore in Harvard Square, buying stuff at Newbury Comics all the time, and the like. So for him it was fun to show us some things he remembered and revisit locations and see how they changed. It rained a bit here so we went to a coffee shop, I browsed a fancy stationers, we took a quick peek at the Harvard campus, and then hopped on to the T to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. My mom and I had put this high on our list of Boston sights, though I’m not really sure why. I think just that I had always heard it was a good museum, plus it had the fascinating unsolved robbery many years ago. [We did not see the empty frames notes in that linked article.] It was a beautiful and quiet museum, and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum View from above We all enjoyed imagining that we were super rich people in the late 19th century who collected art.
After that mom headed back to the hotel while we took the kids over to Fenway Park to check that out and buy some official Pearl Jam merch.Welcome to Fenway That evening the kids enjoyed more swimming and dinner with mom while Paul and I went out to a viewing of the Friday night concert. The next day, Sunday, was a big one. We had tickets to go whale watching at 10, leaving out of the aquarium wharf. It was clear and sunny and the big boat was nice. It took about an hour to drive away from the city, though we could still see it on the horizon. We reached the Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary, an area where humpback whales naturally congregate to feed in nutrient rich waters and, a whale!Look! A Whale! For the next hour we saw humpback whales in groups of 2,3, and 4, as well as alone, doing all the things you might expect. Humpback Whale
FlukeIt was truly exciting to see them so close and humongous, to see their beautiful flukes as they dove, great sprays of mist from their blowholes, and so on. I’m so glad we did this because it was amazing. 2016-08-07 11.45.54When we returned to the dock we went into the aquarium to enjoy that for a while. Due to it being insanely crowded, we enjoyed and explored this wonderful aquarium much less than we wanted to. It’s clearly a way better aquarium than the one we usually go to, but we were only able to see all the many adorable penguins (being hand fed) and the great big center tube deep ocean thing with a spiral ramp going around it for four floors. I loved this and really, we all did and it was very satisfying.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel, refresh, and say goodbye to the kids and mom while Paul and I headed out to the concert. Which you can read all about here.
The next day we had planned on just coming home, but instead we made it another full vacation day. We said goodbye to mom and got back on the T for one more city outing. This time we went to the Public Garden, where it was, to our pleasant surprise, uncrowded and peaceful. Boston's Public GardenWe admired the famous swan boats and took a pleasant ride on one. Then we saw the statues of the famous Make Way for Duckings. Make Way for DucklingsWe then walked a few blocks into Chinatown, which is always fun. When I saw a fabric shop I insisted on going in. Quite a different experience from  Pennington Quilt Works.2016-08-08 11.53.45 I bought a length of beautiful fabric which who knows what I will do with. Then, more vacation serendipity, Paul looked up what the best place to eat there was and it was right there and even though super tiny, we only had to wait a couple minutes. The menu was so fascinating I could have sat their reading it for 15 minutes.2016-08-08 12.19.07 I did not get sauteed blood and leeks, but rather Ma Po Tofu, and we got lots of delicious dumplings.
After that we headed out of the city, collected our car, and headed home….almost. It was only 40 minutes to Plymouth so we decided to go there and visit Plimoth Plantation for an hour. A wrong turn took us not to the plantation but right into town and Plymouth Rock, which turned out even better. More serendipity! A parking space right along the water right by Plymouth Rock.Plymouth Rock We admired the small rock, climbed some stairs to a beautiful view, marveled that the island right off the shore was called Clark’s Island, went down to the docks and looked at the Mayflower II and enjoyed the lovely harbor.Mayflower II
Mayflower II
We capped it off with some really awesome ice cream from a place with an extensive list of creative homemade flavors and finally buckled in for the very long drive home. Very long. We got home about 1 am (but I’d rather waste a night than a day driving!)
All in all it was a great vacation, very tiring, but we did and saw so many things.



Summer Fun

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Since Clark’s birthday we’ve been having a pretty routine summer. It’s been hot. We ate ice cream. We went to the beach. We went to concerts. Etc. Here’s the highlights/pictures:
We had a unexpected and great beach day with our good friend Mary Lynn.
Belmar BeachShe invited us to go with her to Belmar to see a sandcastle building contest. The day was grey and overcast and apparently it rained all afternoon here at home. But at beach…the sun came out after a little while and it was gorgeous. 2016-07-13 13.22.02-2 2016-07-13 11.38.01Our first foray into the ocean this summer and the water was a glorious temperature, crystal clear, and the waves just right for frolicking.
The sandcastle creations were also really cool to see. The kids (and Mary Lynn) were vastly entertained and delighted that someone made a giant poop emoji.Poop emoji sand I especially liked this one.World on a turtle back We don’t get to the beach very often, but I”m so glad we can go when we want to. (This particular beach is probably what most people think of when they think of the Jersey shore-pretty crowded and good people watching. It was so fun! And as ML pointed out, it’s nice that some things just never change. There’s always some teenage boys playing football in the waves, some little kids digging, and everyone swimming in the same way.)Tabby, down the shoreClark ended up spending the whole weekend down the shore with friends. While he was gone we had a great night out roller skating with Tabby. She loves to skate and I love how completely unupdated the roller rink is.

Somewhere in there were concerts-one for just Paul, one for all of us, and one for the two of us Steel Stacks. As you know, we’ve been loving Bethlehem and Steel Stacks for the past year. This was my first concert there, though Paul has been to more. The concert was Ben Folds, who is a favorite, and he was playing with a group called yMusic. You can read Paul’s detailed write up here. For me here’s the big takeaway–the last time we saw Ben Folds was at PNC Arts Center, a pretty big venue. I could not believe that this was a stage set up in front of the steel stacks and we could literally walk right up to it. There were only two people between me and the barrier. Ben played his piano and the center rear of the stage so he actually wasn’t as close to me as he could have been, except at the end when they all took a bow. Ben Folds @ Steel Stacks Still, it felt like a private concert at a party with a couple hundred people. I couldn’t believe was a small venue and crowd it was and the show was great. It really was a thrill! And the Steel Stacks looked gorgeous at night, all lit up.Ben Folds @ Steel Stacks

We also went to a concert as a family-Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions. We had heard about this a year or so ago and this year when we saw it was playing at the Mann Center, we decided to buy tickets (when we were there for a different show.) The date of the show happened to be just a couple days after Pokemon Go was released, so there was an especial Pokemon fan fervor going on that was a lot of fun. There was some cosplay and basically everyone else was wearing some kind of Pokemon attire.
Pokemon Symphony This show turned out to be a lot of fun. The Pittsburgh Symphony was playing and I just don’t understand how the acoustics were so good at an outdoor venue. They sounded amazing! The music was beautiful. Our seats were in the balcony and were in cool wooden boxes. Behind the symphony was a big screen that showed the game play through the evolution of it.Pokemon SymphonyThe encore were the songs that had words, including crowd favorite sing along “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” (Which, I would include right here, but I don’t know how to insert from Instagram, which is where I shared the edited video.So, uh, I guess follow me on Instagram if you like?)

As for keeping busy elsewhere, Tabby just finished up a week at the beloved nature camp, while I finished a week of doing the craft station at vacation Bible school.

Odds n’ ends-I chose this hot week to take up running again and am slowly working my way up to going a tiny bit further each day. I am rereading one of my all time favorite books and am in a daydream most of the time, thinking of it. Three hens are broody and so we are not getting any eggs (but will maybe have more chicks soon?) And we have a possibly very fun weekend lined up, if we don’t all expire in the heat!
Me and a buffy