Adirondack Adventures

Since last October, the Artisan family had been planning for a July vacation. Our church in Georgia planned to spend a week “at camp” in the Adirondack Mountains and we decided that we would join them. By the time camp rolled around, a total of 51 of us made the trek to Camp-of-the-Woods in Speculator, NY.

As we left our Poughkeepsie Play, It was an easy drive north on the NY State Thruway towards camp – early afternoon we left that roadway in New Amsterdam and had a quick lunch, a quick Walgreen’s stop & filled up the tanks before the final hour drive up through the mountains to camp.

The first view of the lake...amazing!

The first view of the lake…amazing!

By mid-afternoon, we had made our way into the mountains and were checking into camp. As Mom & Dad settled into their adorable cabin with the screened in porch and Rebecca & I were settling into our room in the longhouse, Rebecca’s phone was abuzz with others from our church group arriving. Before long we were all gathering at our group of tables in the dining hall & our camp adventures began.

The sunsets were spectacular. Our first night there, as we came out of the great concert we were treated to a beautiful sky and a view of the new moon and Venus.

A few of the amazing sunset views from the week...

A few of the amazing sunset views from the week…

Where to begin with recounting the time that was our camp vacation? Our pastor likened it to a “landlocked cruise” in that there were more activities than you could possibly do and you could choose as many or as few of them as you wanted and make the week your own.

The daily chapel sessions were powerful – the speakers for the week were Dr. Ravi Zachariah and Dr. Nabeel Qureshi and each time they spoke you were filled with new insights. And my virtual book stack grew with several titles from them and that they mentioned.

The music programming was top notch – great singing during chapel sessions and so much more. Stellar concerts from the camp music staff: on Saturday night the concert included selections from “Oklahoma!” which made us smile; on Thursday evening a great recital from some of the staff; to close out camp on Friday evening another great concert which featured “Phantom of the Opera” selections. The sounds of Brass on the Beach filled the air several times during the week.

Artisan sisters having ceramic fun in the arts & crafts cabin!

Artisan sisters having ceramic fun in the arts & crafts cabin!

After morning chapel, the days were wide open and the possible activities vast. A couple of mornings, we wandered over to the “Tee Pee” & picked up some of their famous cinnamon rolls and cups of coffee for a late morning snack at the lakefront tables. A few afternoons, we ended up at the beach of the gorgeous lake – our group had “a spot” staked out in front of the accommodations of one of the families so we always a place to enjoy the sun, sand and water.

The Monday afternoon canoe race to the island & back

The Monday afternoon canoe race to the island & back

On Monday afternoon, Mom & I cheered on Rebecca & several others from our crew that were doing the canoe race out to an island in the lake and back to shore. A couple afternoons, the Arts & Crafts cabin provided fun in the form of painting ceramics. One afternoon, I spent time with our pastor’s wife and she taught me shuffleboard. There was always the lure of the fabulous screened-in porch at the folks’ cabin – I didn’t read nearly as much as I had hoped, but just being in that porch was so restorative.

So much to do & so much nature to just enjoy!

So much to do & so much nature to just enjoy!

As we confirmed plans for the week at camp, I was only able to stay through Tuesday morning chapel – work commitments required me to be back in the office for the rest of the week…or so I thought…when I got to the office on Wednesday morning, the big item got rescheduled and so I decided to turn around and go back to camp. Since I had done camp laundry (but not unpacked the rest) on Tuesday evening, I was able to quickly load the car on Wednesday afternoon and head northward – I pulled into camp around 8:30 and in no time was around the campfire with the church group. Thursday and Friday at camp were definitely bonus days of fun and family for me.

Not a bad "office" on a Friday morning...

Not a bad “office” on a Friday morning…

Friday morning I had to do a little bit of work before starting my day. So I grabbed my laptop & went to the TeePee for coffee, a pastry & a stronger wifi connection. The view from this “office” was pretty inspiring and in no time, my work was done so that I could enjoy the rest of the day.

A quick family pic...maybe a Christmas card contender?

A quick family pic…maybe a Christmas card contender?

After Friday morning chapel, our family loaded in my car for a bit of local exploring – we picked up a few souvenirs at the fun department store in town and picked up delicious iced coffee from the local café – then we decided to drive for a bit and enjoy the scenery. Right about the time we needed to find a spot to turn around to head back to camp, a sign appear for a scenic stop overlooking a beautiful lake – so, we pulled in and found a great spot to snap some family selfies, listen to the sound of the water against the shoreline below us and just take in the scenery.

Our last night of camp included a large crew of us piled into several vehicles and ran into town for one last vacation ice cream at Lakeside Licks. Much too quickly, we arrived at Saturday morning and it was time for everyone to scatter from camp. Rebecca was the first to leave at 7AM – she was riding/driving back to Georgia with a family who first needed to deliver some folks to the Syracuse airport to catch flights back to Atlanta. After one last meal in the dining hall & picking up our glazed ceramics from the arts & crafts room, our vehicles were loaded and we reluctantly pulled out of camp – at the camp entrance/exit, I turned right to follow my route back to PA and Mom & Dad turned left to head west to visit family in Ohio.

Family fun at the camp carnival!

Family fun at the camp carnival!

One of the families in our church has been going to this camp yearly for more than 30 years. After our week there, we can see how this becomes a family tradition. We all hope to return there in future summers for additional spectacular weeks in Speculator, NY. Since camp, it is amazing how often it peppers our conversations – without a doubt, we are hooked.

What summer camp adventures have you had? 

Recently Read…August 2015

After too many months away from this link-up, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy this month to share QuickLit reviews on some of my recent reads.

A bit of lazy Sunday afternoon reading on the screened in porch while at camp...

A bit of lazy Sunday afternoon reading on the screened in porch while at camp…

  • Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials the Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik –  A fascinating look into the material world around us that is anchored in a picture of the author enjoying a book and a cuppa on in his rooftop garden. Each chapter focuses on specific material: steel, paper, glass, chocolate, plastic; graphite; concrete; implants; foam; porcelain;
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott – A very engaging story of 4 women who impacted the Civil War through their different ways of providing undercover support. For the Union, a Richmond spinster socialite led a very active underground route of information, goods and escaped Union prisoners of war. For the Confederacy, a DC society widow gathering and sharing information from Union soldiers and officials. For the Union, a young Canadian woman who enlisted in the Michigan army as a man… For the Confederacy, a young Virginia woman gathering information and bolding lying. A well written book that was filled with all sorts of Civil War history, other trivia and many “I didn’t know that” moments. I read a lot of this while home in the ‘Ville last weekend – numerous times I looked up from the pages to mention a fact to whichever family member was in the living room at the time.
  • The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel – I picked this up on my Kindle through some “great deal” last fall and started reading – then it languished for a while. I picked it back up while on the road last week – one evening when I was in a reading mood but not wanting to start anything too taxing. As I’m in the midst of my own KonMari after reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” this book seemed more enjoyable now. While her premise for the objects in her house that she highlights isn’t necessarily about “sparking joy” I found her collection of stories tied to the objects she has around her to be clever & something to give me pause to recall the stories of the things I keep near.
  • The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry – The latest installment in the Cotton Malone series that I enjoy. This time, the unknown piece of history that looks to bring down the US government is focused on the Federal income tax and if the constitutional amendment that implemented it was legally ratified. A mix of fact and fiction that included Andrew Mellon and FDR in the historical flashbacks. A good adventure read – I will stick with this series as long as Cotton or his newer partners continue to answer the call to save the country/world from imminent demise due to a long lost secret.
  • The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs –Hmm, where to start with this. Last year, I read a book that ended up being the first in the series (The Apple Orchard) – it was a “sweet” story – a bit outside my norm. As I finished that cute read that was really a romance novel with an interesting flashback history twist, I turned the pages on the Kindle and discovered that it was published by a Harlequin imprint and honestly my thoughts of the book decreased – I contemplated if I would read anymore in the series. Fast forward to this summer & this second book in the series – I decided to read it & it confirmed that the series/storyline were way too much in the category of romance stories that I don’t enjoy. The first book seemed to be a non-Harlequin story…this book confirmed that the series was firmly in the Harlequin camp. So long to any future reads in this series.

My library’s summer reading challenge runs through August 18th – really, why stop it so early in the summer? I set a challenge of 12 books – so far I’ve logged 9. I don’t know if I’ll meet the challenge by their arbitrary date but I know I’ll meet it by Labor Day.

What are you reading these days?

Poughkeepsie Play

As I’ve mentioned, July included a great Artisan Family vacation in upstate New York. Since last October, we had been planning our time “at camp” in the Adirondacks. As the date got closer and plans solidified, we decided to take a bit of a detour through the Hudson Valley enroute to camp.

Ready for the show!

Ready for the show!

Mom & Dad arrived at my place on Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning, we picked Rebecca up from the airport and once back at my place we quickly packed up both vehicles and set out northward towards New York. Our plan was to do some tourist-ing along the Hudson River in the Poughkeepsie, NY area. Initial thoughts were to visit the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. A later addition to the agenda was for Friday evening – seeing a new staging of “Oklahoma!” at Bard College as a belated birthday present for Artisan Dad.

Due to a softball tournament in the area, our Friday night hotel choices were limited and we ended up staying further away from things than I would have preferred. But sometimes, that works out for the better. Once we checked into the hotel, I looked at the map and realized that we wouldn’t be able to get to the FDR site and to the show on Friday afternoon/evening. So as we all rested a bit in the late afternoon my first order of business was to find a fun dining option for before the show. I indeed googled “restaurants near me” and ended up finding a great winner for us: Farm to Table Bistro was just up the road from us and en route to the college. We enjoyed an early dinner at this delightful restaurant – reading through the menu it was difficult to choose from so many delicious sounding entrees.

With Friday traffic and smaller roads, it was about an hour drive up to Bard College – a lot of beautiful scenery filled our time. As we turned on the road to the theater, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the Richard B Fisher Center for the Performing Arts – a billowing array of stainless steel shingles that is a Frank Gehry hallmark.

The first glimpse at the Gehry design

The first glimpse at the Gehry design

(As an aside, I was very impressed with the emails I received from the center leading up to the performance date – in addition to directions to the venue & dining options, they included an online version of the program as well as links to the NY Times review and a pre-opening article.)

What an amazing experience we had at that Friday evening show. We knew going into the evening that it was a “different” staging of the show and I just hoped that the rest of the family was as game for the variation as I was. In the end, they were – whew! The show was in a small theater that had been configured basically as theater in the round (actually, a rectangle here) – the audience was seated at 2 rows of tables that ringed the stage. Red crockpots filled with simmering chili where on the tables. As the audience filled into the theater, the 6 person band was warming up. Before long the show started – 10 actors; the front row of tables were used as part of the staging; cornbread was mixed together in the opening scene and served during intermission with the chili and lemonade; with the pared down staging, I felt like I was noticing the lyrics and lines much more than I previously had.

After the show, we made a wrong turn on our drive back towards the hotel & ended up crossing the Hudson (unplanned) – we quickly picked the new way south on that side of the river & then enjoyed the late night crossing of the Mid-Hudson/Roosevelt Bridge to come back on the side of the river that we needed to be on.

There were a few raindrops to start our Saturday morning but that didn’t stop us. Since we were in New York, of course our day started with a great breakfast spread at a diner across from our hotel. Once our order was placed and we sat at our table with mugs of coffee or tea, we all were reflecting on the performance the night before – without a doubt, it had 4 Artisan Family Thumbs-Up.

After loading up the vehicles and picking up iced coffee for all of us we were once again on our way. We stopped at the FDR site (picked up a postcard or 2) but realized that we didn’t have the time on this day to spend touring the site – so, I guess we need to come back. And as we had driven through the cute small towns the day before we all could easily see us coming back for a multi-day visit.

Leaving the FDR site, we got back on the NY State Thruway in caravan towards our next stop…camp in the Adirondacks…to be continued


Ah, JULY…a month filled with summer heat and humidity…a month of no business travel…a month of family vacation time (including unexpected extra days)…in the midst of it all, these are some of the things that filled my days…

The reading I packed for vacation...wishful thinking...

The reading I packed for vacation…wishful thinking…

Reading…not nearly as much as I had hoped with vacation on the calendar this month…out of that big stack of planned vacation reads, only a Kindle read from the library was completed this month…

Watching(on the home screen) evidently a bit of a Brit fix on Netflix: the 3rd season of Death in Paradise; Last Tango in Halifax; Luther; The Bletchley Circle…running a bit behind with the current season of Under the Dome on the DVR…

The gorgeous Gehry designed theater at Bard College...

The gorgeous Gehry designed theater at Bard College…

Watching(on the stage) a spectacular revival of Oklahoma at Bard College on a Friday night as we started family vacation…this was not your “typical” staging of this classic – but this new production was a great twist in telling this story…theater in the round – the audience sitting at tables that became part of the production – chili, cornbread & lemonade served at intermission – the score played by a 6 person band instead of an orchestra…such a fun way to belatedly celebrate Artisan Dad’s birthday as a family!

Knittinga project that has been on my needles since January finally came off the needles over the long holiday weekend – now to get it blocked…a red, white & blue burp cloth was finished for a Yankee Doodle little girl…I had planned to knit a dishcloth during the World Cup final but was too involved in the game to do more than a couple of rows then, ha…a few dishcloths…a new cowl for cooler weather is currently on the needles – although the planned vacation knitting on it didn’t happen…

So thankful to enjoy family vacation time at camp in upstate New York!

So thankful to enjoy family vacation time at camp in upstate New York!

Vacationingwith the family in upstate New York…originally I thought I would only be able to get away for 5 days with them; however, when I got back home work plans changed and so I hopped back in the car to drive back north and enjoy a couple more days with them…more about our adventures at camp in a coming post…

Tidying…July got away from me without dedicated time starting onto the next phase of #konmari…but as I continued to settle into my newly tidied wardrobe, I culled another 3 bags of clothes and shoes for donation…I’ve started some digital tidying…as August arrives, I’m rerouting my journey into the kitchen before diving into the bookcases…

Never too old for camp crafting!

Never too old for camp crafting!

Crafting…of course we had to check out the Arts & Crafts room while on family vacation at camp – painting ceramics was just what I needed!

Cheering…Team USA during the Women’s World Cup – it was especially fun to cheer when Kelley O’Hara was in the game, she is a Fayetteville native…

Always a favorite!

Always a favorite!

Enjoying…a dozen sunflowers from a local farm…glad a Saturday errand run including driving by “my source” for this bit of Kansas sunshine!

Cooking…deconstructed burgers over the holiday weekend: caramelized onions + ground beef were tied together with a jar of my tomato basil jam from last summer…the frozen riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s is becoming a kitchen staple – such a simple & nutritious backdrop for all sorts of quick meals – hoping that it becomes an always available item at the store…

Fuel for the first drive home from family vacation...

Fuel for the first drive home from family vacation…

Sipping…plenty of fun flavors of infused water…iced coffee – black…

Looking ahead…a FL work trip will include a GA weekend on the frontend…a quick trip to WI to celebrate the kids’ birthdays…

Linking up with Leigh’s monthly “What I’m Into” Roundup. What are you into these days?


Tastes like Blue

For today’s Ten on Tuesday, Carole’s prompt is 10 Favorite Blueberry Recipes. I’ll modify this a bit by going with 10 favorite blueberry tastes – some are recipes and some are not.

That time I rented a blueberry bush

That time I rented a blueberry bush

  1. Blueberry Infused Water – This summer, blueberries are making a frequent appearance in the infuser core of my water pitcher – often paired with mint and maybe lemon or cucumbers. So refreshing!
  2. Blueberry Coffee – While normally I’m not a fan of fruit flavored coffee, this is a winner. At home, I toss some ground cinnamon in the French press with the coffee grounds – the cinnamon really enhances the flavor. My favorite is from Door County Coffee and Tea.
  3. Berry Dressing – I discovered this recipe earlier this year and it has been a delightful addition to both salads and assortments of roasted vegetables
  4. Blueberry Butter – A simple crockpot recipe for making blueberry preserves to can
  5. Blueberry Jam – One of the first jams I canned during my first foray into canning in 2009.
  6. Blueberry Beer – For something different, I’ve been known to select the “local” blueberry brew at breweries/restaurants. The last time I did this (in February in Florida) the pint glass included a couple of fresh blueberries.
  7. Blueberry Egg Bake – I discovered this recipe during my 1st Whole 30 adventure and tweaked the recipe a bit – I have come back to it several times – it is a nice make ahead breakfast option for the weekday mornings.
  8. Blueberry French Toast Casserole (in the crockpot) – I think it has been 9 years since I first made this recipe – it is a fun twist on french toast and bonus for breakfast crockpot use.
  9. Blueberry Yogurt Parfaits – A handful of blueberries…a dollop of yogurt (normally plain Greek)…a dash of cinnamon…a bit of granola…maybe some walnuts…a simple meal or snack at anytime
  10. By the handful – Blueberries are a great snack! The sweetest version of this was in 2009 when I rented a blueberry bush in Michigan and came home with 17 pints of berries from “my” bush. While I rented again in 2010, I wasn’t able to make it over to pick the berries so the farm harvested them & cold shipped them to Artisan Mom instead.

What are your favorite blueberry recipes, uses, tastes?