Saturday, June 30, 2012

Squatters' Rights

Mother Nature continues to teach. This morning, her dual lessons were about perseverance and patience... the first for the birds and the latter for me.

You've seen our gorgeous front portico, one of my favorite features of The Old Homestead. Our babies, nieces and grands have all napped there. Joe and I have shared many a meaningful conversation and I've read tons of books, all in this tranquil space. I've often added to the wreath, made from tree branches native to our property. Joe lovingly surprised me with the ginormous ferns, for Mother's Day. Consider almost forty-one years of history.

The nest has been atop our wreath for about a decade, empty after its initial use. I've been asked, "Did you place it there?" The answer is, "No!" I don't even know which species is responsible for its construction. 

Over the last few days, we've noticed a pair of Robins landing first in a fern and then heading for the nest. At first, we thought they were deconstructing the habitat. Silly us. We should have realized that the long strands of straw we found nearby were to repair the abode. And so, they just took up residence. I'm hoping they're the couple who had some poor luck, in our backyard. Perseverance.

At sunrise this morning, I perched myself on the farthest chair, camera pointed towards the nest. I listened. I heard Cardinals singing... seriously, Neil should hire them for back-up. I heard a nearby shrub rustling with movement. My arm was cramping... but then, patience prevailed. Please enjoy the rewards of my morning. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

WITH - Sunset

Walking towards home on Bridgeville Road and looking westward, across 17...

Pasta Salad - A Revelation

It was almost dinnertime when I decided to make pasta salad, yesterday. We had first helpings warm... a first. It was delicious. Joe and I were amazed, but in thinking about it, why not? The remainder shall be consumed chilled and will be even more flavorful, we're sure. This works well with oil/white balsamic vinegar/dijon mustard dressing, my permanent replacement for mayo. 

A two-ferBuon Appetito.

They're In!

Ooooh, they are delicious and so photogenic!

WITH - Without

'Tis a pity I left home without Nik, last evening, as our walk in the hood provided quite a few Kodak moments. There was the bunny, grazing in front of Robert Green's. Such has become a rare sight, due to an increasing coyote population. You know - the food chain. Mambo calmly remained in heal position, ignoring the dude. I couldn't help but imagine had Ike been along... he'd have charged Peter Rabbit, dragging me right along with him. There was nothing like a chase, for old Ikester.

In addition, there was an influx of huge box trucks, confusedly meandering onto our service road. It seems as though the state is doing fine job in rebuilding Bridgeville, but they are ignoring resulting traffic woes. This for locals... I saw numerous cars stuck on the road-no-longer by our own new exit, heading straight for Cimarron Pond. Drive using extra caution. They're back.

Last, but clearly not least, was the incredibly huge orange-ball-a-sun, setting behind our mountains. 

You see, we're trying to step up (no pun intended) our hike; stopping every few minutes to shoot looks too much like an excuse to rest. Still... 'tis a pity.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mornin' At The Ranch

Hydrangeas are a-bloomin'. I just love watching the flowers' metamorphosis from first greens to early whites, to be followed by intense shades of pink, purple and blue, at maturity. 

Our holiday Norfolk Island Pine was looking a tad peaked, indoors. Fresh air and mostly shade has afforded it new growth. With red Impatiens at its base, it's kind of like Christmas in June, don't you think?

Meanwhile, Mambo is back to happy fetching, after stomach problems that lasted for a few days. Joe had caught him in the act of ingesting something alien, and before he could say, "Drop".... you know.

Check out the shadows, reflecting a brilliant day. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bye Bye Birdie(s)

Yesterday morning's breakfast photo was hard-earned. Newborns required Mama Robin to regurgitate food into tiny beaks that were barely visible atop the nest. For fifteen minutes or so, I stood with Nik on my tripod, its mega-zoom fixed on my subjects. During that time, I watched the parents foraging in the dewy lawn. 

This morning, all was too quiet. We wonder just what stalked our birds, leaving an empty nest in its wake. :-(

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Heartburn, Sleepless In Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Julie And Julia...

Getty Image

I've loved everything she's ever put her signature to. What a shame. 
Nora Ephron.

Seeing Double

This was amongst my Minne-day captures, taken last Saturday. Please don't ask, "How?" I lack a response but like the illusion of a double sunset. 
As for the flowers, I intentionally allowed purple clematis to vine through a lush rhododendron shrub. The resulting cascade of color is so pretty.

Breakfast Has Legs

Oooooh, protein! I captured Mama Robin, early this morning, before she had a chance to eat and regurgitate breakfast fare to her tiny young. Quite the appetizer... yuck.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sky's the Limit in Minnewaska

Our beloved Lake Minne was a-hoppin' with activity, yesterday. It seemed as though half of New York wanted a piece of it. Is it any wonder, when you look at the gorgeous scenery? Not to worry, 'cause in its vastness, there was room for everyone to find tranquility in God's gifts. We celebrated Dawn and the pending arrival of someone special. It was so much fun.

Joe and I stopped at a lookout point, on the way home, where we waited for the sun to complete its magnificent descent. It's a view that never gets old, the painted sky.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Created by Gavin ♥

Gav's mind is always working in overdrive. Honestly, he must even dream creatively! Yesterday, red garden rocks became the subject of his intrigue, especially when he noticed their porous structure.

"G'ma, can I take a piece of this tree?"

"Sure, Honey; thanks for asking first," responded I.

The resulting modern art by my little 7-year-old Grand is something to see! And have I mentioned that he's a strong, fierce athlete, too?!

Friday, June 22, 2012


I'd been eying these for quite some time... just had to have them! They are oil and vinegar cruets, designed by Rachel Ray. Her line of cookware is so colorfully delicious, don't you think? They function very well, with nary a drip from either spout. Just had to share, in case you can't resist, either.

Buon Appetito!

Company For Dinner

Just a whisker from the patio where we dine al fresco, Robins have taken up residence. We're hoping for a bird's eye view of the babies, when they are ready to take flight.


Day Three of Summer proved to be another beauty, not even slightly marred by a quick sunshower that brought the kids out of the water, for a bit. Gav took shelter under the Ever-red Lace-leaf Maple tree, aka nature's umbrella. He quickly discovered that the red bark we've placed in our gardens works well in simulating red chalk. This Little Man of ours is creative beyond words. Boredom does not exist for him, 'cause everything holds potential with which to create a new game.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Karen Klein - The Greece Grandma

Just look at the AP picture, above. Please notice hearts and Teddies... a display case full of the latter... symbols of gentle love. What a heartbreaker that this lady was tormented and bullied by four seventh graders. Seventh graders!! By now, you've seen and heard the video, yes? If not, it is easily found via a Google search. I'll not be posting it here.

The boys' parents were stunned that their children could have displayed such cruel behavior. And the public? Most are mortified, already pouring money into funds to send Ms. Klein and her family on vacation. Why? 

Is it solely empathy that we're feeling? Or maybe there's a tad of guilt in each of us for having looked away at some point, as bullying occurred. I don't know. 

What I do know is our children are at risk, in school or on the playground or in cyberspace. And now, we have to worry about our Grands. I'm a Grand, and I've given the matter lots of thought. I don't know how I'd have reacted, in Ms. Klein's shoes. I do know that I'd like to throttle those four kids and set them up as an example in their school district. Then...

One district at a time, maybe the trend will catch on. Brand bullies. We need to eradicate vicious acts. Too many lives have been ruined or lost, in their wake.

"Don't slap the water, Sugar!"

Aubs has had all the components under her fins for quite some time... she just needed to put them together, in order to be a smooth swimmer. We had a breakthrough, on this second day of summer. 
In a methodical way, she went from water-slapping and lots of head motion to gliding, as she breathed effortlessly, along the waterway. Here's how:

Step 1: Do a dead man's float. Okay...
Step 2: Add strokes.
Step 3: Add a kick.
Step 4: Breath by lifting your head to one side only, opposite your stroke arm. On the next stroke, put head back into the water and release air.
Step 5: Glide, Girl, Glide!

By the time Bri arrived, my Sugar was rhythmically making her way from one end of the pool to the other. 
A great day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice ☼ A 50-SPF Day

Yippee!! It's officially summer. 
What better way to break in my all-time favorite season than to have Aubs and Gav test the water and try out a new raft?! Gramps chose well, as many a new game was spawned.

We're Trying With Our BabyGrands ♡

WITH Photo, taken last night... love Chevy's slogan!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WITH - We're Committed

It's Our Turn - Clematis

What Are The Chances? Sixty or Fewer...

Photo-Nikon's Small World Competition
We recently waited till the last possible moment to leave the beach, for Neil. Joe noticed a 60-something couple sharing space with us; the Mr. was wearing a Massapequa sweatshirt. Ah, my old home town, where I grew up on Unqua Lake, experiencing a very happy childhood. 

After a few introductory words, we began chatting it up, big-time. Turns out he graduated Massapequa High with my brother, whom he knew.... and.... he is still close friends with our then-neighbor, who resided at 60 Block Boulevard, also a childhood friend of Ronnie's. We lived at 44 Block.

How few degrees of separation in this small world we share... what're the chances, in a crowd of 10,000 plus?

Monday, June 18, 2012

WITH 1 - Walk In The Hood

Joe and I took a Walk In The Hood, tonight. Long days and bright nights are so inspiring. We brought along Nik(on), and I was an exceptionally happy camper. It's amazing how a camera's presence can give new life to everyday sights... right here in our own neighborhood. Won't you please come along WITH us?

A pond of runoff rainwater is full of plant and animal life. This evening, it captured Old Sol's first appearance of the day. How pretty-ful the reflections amongst the lily pads.

A tad further down Bridgeville Road, a local chainsaw artist is taking advantage of trunks left behind after NYSEG's tree-thinning project. His current work in progress is a life-size German Shepherd. If you're local, he'll craft anything your little heart desires... bears, eagles, totem poles, etc. Bring a photo or a suggestion. He's quite talented.

Tricolor G-F Quinoa Salad

Everything turned out so delicious, for our Dad's Day celebration. My amusing less-is-more garden is producing herbs like crazy, and they are enhancing many a recipe. I made a wicked penne-pasta salad with a healthy fistful of chopped chives, basil and parsley that I left in the strainer, after rinsing. The greens were blanched when I drained the hot pasta over them. Afterwards, I added veggies and dressed the whole shebang with a delicious mustard vinaigrette... even Chloe loved that one. I digress... back to quinoa...

I rinsed 2 cups of this fab Trader's product and sautéed in my rice cooker in 1/4 cup EVOO, till it smelled nutty. Then, I added 2 cups water/2 cups chicken broth and a short hit of salt, covered and simmered till liquid was absorbed. While hot, I stirred in my chopped herbs, as above, along with white balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, freshly ground pepper and frozen Trader's peas. More oil is unnecessary, as it has already flavored the quinoa, while cooking. That's it!

WOWIt was great warm... even better chilled... and the next day??? It was simply outrageous.

Photo promised, this coming weekend, when I'll be making this gluten-free goodie once again, for a little par-tay at Lake Minne... 

And here we go, with an update on June 22nd. I made a huge batch for tomorrow, this time spreading on a cookie sheet to cool, thus avoiding overcooking that would turn the dish to mush. 
Also added roasted red peppers...
Did you know that quinoa is not a grain but actually a seed that can be sprouted? I noticed little sprouts, last weekend, a fact that led me to research this ancient food. Check out my photo... what do you see? Please left double-click to enlarge, if you need a closer look.

Buon Appetito...Dine Al Fresco

Ribs - A Recipe

Succulent ribs, pre-cooked and ready for a quick finish...
On Saturday, I made spareribs for the guys. Here's my method:
Split a rack of ribs (we prefer the unseasoned cryovac product) into two halves, to be cut into singles before last stage of cooking. For the grill, place on foil and cook on low for at least two hours, turning a couple of times. For the oven, it's the same treatment, but on a pan.

To finish, place directly onto a medium grill and baste several times with Balsamic Vinegar, till well glazed and flavored, turning once... this for about half an hour.

That's it! I promise... they are delicious and minus the salts, sugars and other nasty ingredients that many barbecue sauces contained. Joe and Christian loved them and ordered up a double-batch for our rendezvous at Minne, this coming weekend. Food-photo to come.

To Note:  Fresh ribs can be pre-cooked, cooled and frozen, readying them for event-day completion. Don't want to grill them? Toss them in sauce, with no worries... fat has been cooked out and results shall be succulent. 
Dine al fresco... it's summertime!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Special Recipe - Fruit Salad ♥

Always In My Heart


Wish I could take credit for this shot!
We took a rowboat ride over to the island, yesterday. It was amazing to witness the abundance of bird-life that exists there. As soon as we landed, a flurry of activity and noise began. I opted to pass on the hike through thick foliage. This proved to be an excellent decision... 

Lots of unusual notes brought my attention to the treetops, where I saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles either frolicking about or protesting my presence. I'd left my camera behind, so as to avoid risk of water damage. 'Tis a pity, 'cause in our four decades of birdwatching, this is only the second pair of gorgeous orange birds I've ever spotted in the wild. What a treat!