Acadian Adventures

My sister has a milestone birthday this summer. To celebrate, we decided to take a road trip to Acadia National Park and on up to Prince Edward Island. As the spring progressed, we booked our Airbnb stays…we built our itinerary…and before we knew it, Rebecca arrived to Pennsylvania on a Friday evening in late June for our adventures to begin.


On Saturday morning, we loaded up my car (aka Annie), picked up large iced coffees and were ready to hit the road. The trip odometer was set to 0, a new notebook was at the ready to capture the license plate game. A quick selfie was snapped. And we were off! As we hit the road, we came up with a few meal rules for the trip: No US chain restaurants – although Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee is a given; focus on local establishments; In Canada, enjoy uniquely Canadian eats.

Ready to hit the road!
The first day was a long haul drive to reach Acadia National Park. Traffic sailed through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. In Connecticut, it became heavy and that continued pretty much through Massachusetts and New Hampshire until we reached the Maine state line.

On the road!
What is a road trip without homemade treats? Rebecca brought a bag of Mom’s classic road trip cookie – Colonial Rocks – with her & they were enjoyed throughout the trip.

Mom’s cookies for a road trip!
It was early evening on Saturday when we arrived to our motel, The Twilite Inn, a classic roadside motor inn that we found via Airbnb. As we checked in, we discovered our innkeeper was a Packers fan…Supper was seafood from a roadside lobster pound – a lobster roll and fish sandwich definitely said we had arrived to Maine.

Our classic Americana accommodations
On our way back to the motel, we decided to stop at a local dairy bar for ice cream. The “small” Wild Maine Blueberry ice cream cones were delicious – even more so after waiting 25 minutes from order to cone in hand (the teen boys behind the counter were struggling mightily with a large group of customers).

Glad we only ordered small cones!
On Sunday we headed into Acadia National Park. Our first stop was the visitors center – in addition to a few souvenirs, we also picked up the Audio Tour CD and used that as the basis for our wandering through the park. Once we pressed play on the audio tour, we were off and proceeded to spend most of the day looping around the park. Words can’t adequately describe the views that we enjoyed – I’ll let a few picture highlights do the talking. The color of the water is a gorgeous navy-teal.


It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached Cadillac Mountain. The views from up top were pretty spectacular – but we both agreed that being right along the coastline was what we enjoyed more.

As the audio tour ended we made our way to Northwest Harbor and then over towards Southwest Harbor and the lighthouse there before just driving around the island.

For dinner, it was another roadside seafood shack – this time, fried clams and fried shrimp. After a bit more driving around we tracked down the last piece of blueberry pie at a local restaurant to end the day.

Sunday eats
Next up…meandering through Maine and New Brunswick, Canada towards Prince Edward Island…

 

Weekending…Down the Road…

This summer has been filled with all sorts of busy as a big work project nears a Labor Day weekend deadline. In the midst of this, my Texas crew relocated to Pennsylvania and we have been trying to figure out when a visit would occur before school started – either them to see me or me to see them. This past weekend, I “mostly” took a break so that I could head northwest in the state to hang out with my girlies in their new home and new town. After a busy Friday morning in the office, I finally left around lunchtime with a goal of quality time with some of my favorite people.

Blue Skies

It was a beautiful day for a drive and the scenery was great. In no time at all I was there. The girls and dog ran outside to greet me as I pulled into “my” parking space and before long they were giving me the tour of their new home and amazing yard.

yard

Friday evening included a great meal at Happy Valley Brewing Co – then a driving tour around Penn State – then we stopped into the Creamery on campus for delicious ice cream cones to end a lovely summer evening. The August Pie flavor of the week that I chose was a perfect taste of summer. We all chuckled that the littlest in our crew got the largest ice cream cone…AND she managed to eat it all!

Ice CreamAfter the girls were in bed, it was great to catch up with the grown-ups over tasty after dinner drinks. And then, Riley the dog graciously let me sleep in the guest room that she has claimed as her room in the new house – she stayed with me all night.

Riley

I was awake early on Saturday morning & did a bit of work before the 2 youngest girls tiptoed downstairs and into my room. The morning included a visit to one of the great farmers markets where we loaded up on an assortment of beautiful produce and treats. Saturday afternoon started with a visit to the Boal Mansion and Columbus Chapel for the local Herb & Garlic Festival.

Grange

Then we headed a bit down the road to experience the 142nd annual Grange Fair. The girls had a great time on the midway rides. Because it was the last day, most of the animal exhibits were already empty so we didn’t get the “full” fair experience. We did enjoy strolling through the streets of the tent camp that has been a staple of this fair.

Bumper Cars

Saturday evening meant homemade pizzas and dinner on the patio under the pergola. As the sun set and the soundtrack of nighttime nature kicked in we stayed around the table for quite a while talking all sorts of serious and silly topics with the ever curious girls. Since pizza on the patio was a frequent evening during Texas visits, I commented that we must be home since we were enjoying pizza on the patio at their new place!

Pergola

Sunday morning started with a seemingly never ending round of Uno with the girls before breakfast that included some delicious treats from a bakery stand at Saturday’s market. We then visited a local church which reminded me of their Texas church home. After lunch, the girls insisted on washing my car which yielded some soggy girls.

Wash

Before long, it was time to load up and head home. It was another beautiful day for my drive towards home. It is an easy and scenic drive between our homes and I anticipate there will be many trips between our towns as the days and months go by.

Wonderful Weekend

On this Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday weekend…joining in on the Ten on Tuesday Weekending edition to recap a great extended weekend in the ‘Ville with the family – earlier this month, Dad had emergency back surgery and the days and weeks since then have been filled with rehab and recovery. As the month progressed – and Dad progressed – I started formulating a plan for a visit…we decided it would be best for me to just “show up” and not tell Dad I was coming. Last week started with a work trip and when my meetings were done, it was time to detour to Georgia for family time.

  • Caught the 5:55 Thursday morning flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta. The early departure time didn’t dampen my excitement to be going home.

Surprise

  • Walked into Dad’s rehab room at lunchtime on Thursday and rendered him speechless with my surprise visit for the weekend.
  • Hung out with Dad each afternoon and balanced rest time for him with plenty of activities. While I spent a bit of time with him each morning and evening, the afternoons were “my” time to provide Mom with some respite for her nonstop presence by his side.

Meal Prep

  • Made yummy meals for us to enjoy as a family sitting together in Dad’s rehab room: Roma Italian Pie (with extra veggies) and Shepherd’s Pie. We have all decided that Dad needs “tastes of home” for each meal instead of the tray from the rehab dining room.
  • Sat in salt…on Saturday morning, Rebecca & I tried out the halotherapy/salt room at a local med spa and thoroughly enjoyed it. We see future sessions for us.

Color

  • Colored pictures with Dad on a Friday afternoon. I pulled out my “travel” coloring book from my work bag and Dad worked on a coloring book that was under the Christmas tree for him.

Stroll

  • Strolled the halls each afternoon with Dad – our laps through the building provided more opportunity for him to strengthen his legs by powering his wheelchair with his feet.

Knit

  • Knit on a new shawlette – digging into the stash from 2006 for this version.
  • Read several books in my down time – when Dad was resting in the afternoons; while easing into the days after seeing Mom off to the rehab center; while waiting up for Mom to return in the evenings.

Merry Mom

  • Celebrated “Merry Mom Day” – finally spoiling Mom with gifts for Mother’s Day and her May birthday. The quick way to get everything wrapped was to use our Christmas fabric bags – which provided plenty of giggles for all when I carried in the bag of bags.
  • Split a yummy Cheesy Chicken Sausage & Spinach omelette with my sister when we met “Uncle Mike” for breakfast on Monday morning.

Farewell

Much too soon, the weekend was over and it was time to head to the airport and wing my way back to PA. Thankfully I managed to get through the security line at the ATL airport in under 10 minutes in spite of all the recent security line troubles. As I settled into the backseat of my ride home from the airport, I was so thankful for the ability to be home with the family for these 5 days.

What did you do over the holiday weekend?

Mom Made

As the calendar turns to May and Mother’s Day approaches, Carole prompts us today for 10 Favorite Foods Mom Made. Of course I’ll share in this list! My Mom is a wonderful cook and baker! When she was in college, she spent her summers as a camp cook; when I was in elementary school, she managed to cook for the high school youth group missions trips to San Quintin, Mexico in a small kitchen in an airplane hangar. From an early age, I learned the lovely art of hospitality from my Mom – she loves to share from the heart by way of the kitchen. Growing up, we were often delivering a meal to new moms at church – something that I have done many times since I’ve been on my own. Missionaries, church friends, college kids and more have sat around our table and shared life over simple and delicious meals from Mom. In the age of Martha Stewart and Pinterest and Instagram and trying to portray “the” perfect dish, I’m so thankful that I learned from Mom the true joy is in the making and sharing of the dish – not in the picture and presentation.

Mom's Strawberry Pie
Mom’s Strawberry Pie
In no particular order, here are some favorites from her kitchen…and really, this list could go on and on and on…

  • Strawberry Pie – I’ve written about this once or twice; a simple and tasty recipe that always brings to mind Grandma’s strawberry patch in the backyard of her home in Southern California…
  • Lemon Chicken Florentine – A simple mix of chicken, spinach, onion, lemon juice & tumeric; a great make ahead dish – just as delicious hot or chilled…
  • Santa Maria Beans – A simple and delicious staple of Santa Maria BBQ from our time in Lompoc – even better when paired with a Tri-Tip…
  • Italian Squash Soup – Another Artisan Mom “recipe.” Brown & drain a pound of Italian sausage. Add in 24 oz tomato sauce, a couple of zucchini & yellow squash diced, some chopped mushrooms, & Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, pepper, garlic, etc) to taste. Bring to a boil & simmer for 20 minutes…
  • Simple Sausage & Cheese Biscuits – A favorite for breakfasts and perfect for parties and holiday teas
  • Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions & Mushrooms & Gravy – Always a delicious Sunday dinner to come home to after church…
  • Sugar Cookies – A recipe Mom discovered in a book on hospitality, this is a “go to” recipe – delicate and dainty cookies that are a good excuse to use a cookie stamp…
  • Cardamon Cookies – A family staple in the Christmas baking – delicious with or without or without frosting…
  • Tater Tot Casserole – Keeping the theme of simple…ground beef, onions, green beans, mushroom soup and a layer of tater tots on top…
  • Green Enchiladas – A recipe that Mom found in the Air Force news when we were in Wichita more than 40 years ago – turkey, onion and cheese enchiladas with a spinach sour cream sauce. My sister requests this for her birthday dinner. Thanksgiving turkey leftovers often are set aside for a batch of these…

….and this list could go on…Lemon Meringue Pie…and on…Fresh Salsa…and on…Ebelskivers…and on…Applesauce…and on…

Today as I putter in the kitchen, I’m so thankful for all that my Mom taught me (& my sister) through the kitchen…not only the recipes…the kitchen tips and tricks…the fun…but also the art of simplicity…the focus on taste…the joy of hospitality…

What are some of your favorites from your Mom’s kitchen? 

Texas Time

In typical Amy fashion, work trips & fun trips ended up stacking up in early March. After being home from Wisconsin for 3 1/2 days, it was time to head to Texas for a long overdue extended weekend with my girlies. When I arrived on Wednesday evening, the girls were already asleep; however, as I settled into Miss M’s room for the weekend it was evident that someone was excited I was there: I was welcomed into the Hotel M’Amy suite that included many reminders of being in Miss M’s life.

Welcome to Hotel M'Amy!
Welcome to Hotel M’Amy!
Thursday was a low key day – plenty of playtime with the girls. Miss V was initially a bit shy to me but in no time all was normal and she was even reading to me. (Following in her sisters’ footsteps in the reading, for sure.) Miss M & Miss K treated me to a piano concert as they practiced – including a duet. And where we used to leave the little girls behind to spend time shopping, this time Maya & I took a backseat to 3 girls with definite opinions as they were clothes shopping.

18 months was too long
18 months was too long

Now it's Miss V's turn to read to me!
Now it’s Miss V’s turn to read to me!

Piano concerts from the girls
Piano concerts from the girls
Friday had us on the road right away to head into Dallas. After telling me about it for years, the girls were able to finally share the Perot Museum of Nature & Science experience. We started with a fun 3D flick about chipmunks preparing for winter and then headed to the top level and began working our way down through the levels. This curious gal had so much fun exploring with my curious gals – we were battling spring break crowds so we didn’t get to do everything but how fun it was to step back & watch them explore.

3D movie fun
3D movie fun

No tulips this spring break - but we like sea turtles, too!
No tulips this spring break – but we like sea turtles, too!

Finding the microscopic worms
Finding the microscopic worms
Saturday started with homemade pancake breakfast and then playing at home. Later in the morning, Miss M decided I needed a sparkly spa pedicure. After lunch, we went to a local pottery place & had some painting fun. I look forward to incorporating my new plate into my decor – each of the girls painted a flower for it.

Painting a "M'Amy's Girls" plate
Painting a “M’Amy’s Girls” plate
After days of gray & rain, Saturday was beautiful weather so instead of going out for dinner we decided to open the patio dining season at home. Grilled steak and chicken and veggies were delicious as we sat at the patio dining table surrounded by twinkle lights and the beautiful backyard. The clear sky and sight of stars and the moon sparked conversation about space exploration from the girls, including “has a woman ever walked on the moon?” Dinner was topped off with s’mores made in the outdoor fireplace.

Pondering space exploration while dining under the stars
Pondering space exploration while dining under the stars

Ending the evening with s'mores
Ending the evening with s’mores
Sunday started slower as we sprung ahead. Another gorgeous day had dawned and so we spent plenty of time outside – walking the dog, flying kites in the open lot across the street, at one point, Miss K & Miss V decided it was time to jump in the swimming pool.

Giving the pool a try
Giving the pool a try
Before long, final hugs were being given and it was time to head to the airport. As we backed out of the driveway, this sweet scene was bidding me a reluctant farewell.

goodbyeThe days with these girls were just what I needed! I’m so lucky to have these 3 delightful little ladies in my life!