Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Month: August 2015

Currently…August

Ah, AUGUST…a month of… local heat waves 3 and 4 of the summer (and maybe the start of 5)…some mornings that had the slightest hint of crisp and the promise of cooler days ahead…birthdays and anniversaries of many dear ones…seemingly endless summer produce at the farm stands…in the midst of it all, these are the things that filled my days…

A farm stand bouquet to start the month

A farm stand bouquet to start the month

Reading…working my way through the lofty vacation reads stack…after finishing up my recent Civil War read, I transitioned to baseball & World War II for my next narrative nonfiction – The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in World War II by John Klima has kept my attention while diving into the way that professional baseball survived during the war…no surprise that I didn’t get my summer reading challenge finished by the arbitrary end of summer that the local library decided upon: closing time on Tuesday, August 18…but I did achieve 12 books this summer before month end…August travel provided a lot of reading time…

Reading on a rainy Sunday morning in WI with Willie Bear at my feet

Reading on a rainy Sunday morning in WI with Willie Bear at my feet

Watching…Wallander was the Netflix series to start the month…Doc Martin was a fun show to work through later in the month…The Astronaut Wives Club was a fun summer series…it won’t be long until Sunday afternoon football is back in rotation (time to figure out football knitting)…

Never too old to have fun opening gifts

Never too old to have fun opening gifts

Celebrating, Part I…On the front end of my work trip down to Florida, I was able to stop in Georgia for a weekend in the ‘Ville…it has been years since I have been with my sister for her birthday – it was fun to enjoy her birthday celebration in person instead of via photos sent via text

A bit of summer crafting

A bit of summer crafting

Crafting…breaking in new colored pencils with some coloring books…knitting a few more dishcloths (you can never have too many on hand)…working on a new infinity cowl for me with some local-ish yarns…

Supper one evening - a nod to British breakfast: eggs over baked beans

Supper one evening – a nod to British breakfast: eggs over baked beans

Tidying…#konmari action in the kitchen means I’m taking stock of stockpots and food stocks and everything in between…it’s really amazing what items that once were “must have” items are exiting the house because they don’t spark joy these days…

Pan fried zoodles & homemade tomato sauce

Pan fried zoodles & homemade tomato sauce

Cooking…late in the month I started another Whole30 & I will be sharing some of my recipes in September…but I resumed many of the food prep/meal concepts at home early in the month…the key to success really is prep…hard boiled eggs in the oven become quick meals/snacks during the week…chopping & cooking up a package of bacon on the weekend provides a quick addition to meals and snacks throughout the week…mason jar mayo is a great base for dressings and dips/sauces…several times in the month, a quick supper involved throwing a couple of fried eggs on top of whatever was in the house…pan-fried zoodles with homemade tomato sauce was a delicious Sunday supper…

Jam & Pickled Blueberries ready to put up

Jam & Pickled Blueberries ready to put up

Preserving, Part I…A heat wave Sunday afternoon was spent canning with a friend and her daughters. After many years of “canning solo” in my kitchen, it was fun to have the girls help with some of the activities and see their reactions to the alchemy that is canning. In a couple of hours we made a double batch of a favorite Cantaloupe-Vanilla Jam and tried our hand at Ginger Pickled Blueberries.

WI weekend fun

WI weekend fun

Celebrating, Part II…a trip back to Wisconsin to celebrate the kids’ birthday – a total of 42 candles was celebrated among the 3 of them…in addition to the party, the long weekend was filled with just general fun of hanging out together and ended with Vicki and I enjoying a spa day & discovering a great restaurant in Appleton before I flew out on a Monday afternoon…

Putting up tomatoes for the winter months

Putting up tomatoes for the winter months

Preserving, Part II…A plethora of tomatoes at the local farm stand provided several opportunities for “putting up” tomatoes for the cooler days…for the freezer, I made several batches of the go-to tomato sauce recipe that I picked up at the Italian cooking class I took in Assisi in July 2011 (must share this simple recipe!)…for the cupboard, a batch of spicy tomato jam was put in jars and put up for the winter and for gifts…

Airplane & airport scenes

Airplane & airport scenes

Traveling…eight legs of air travel between the 2 trips: early in the month, a work trip down to Florida with the detour to the ‘Ville on the way down…later in the month, the Wisconsin adventure…

Starting the WI weekend off right with yummy root beer & frozen custard

Starting the WI weekend off right with yummy root beer & frozen custard

Looking Ahead…as we turn the page to September I’m starting a new weekly planner calendar to try to keep more on top of things…no definite travel plans are booked yet but several things are blocked out on the calendar in the coming months…

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


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

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