My First Night of Glamping!

Ready or not – glamping here I come!

Just so you know, I’m writing this post from the Pink Paradise!

With today being the last day of July, I was slightly discouraged because the camper remodel isn’t completely done.  Of course there are a number of legitimate reasons for this.  The extreme heat this summer has slowed us down, family emergencies, illness, broken down vehicles, and lack of money are just a few of the things that have kept us from finishing her up.  Hey, it happens.

And then I had an epiphany… Why does she have to be completely finished to enjoy her?

With that thought bouncing around in my head I quickly tracked down some bedding that would fit the camper bed.  I then asked hubby for a few minutes of his time so we could convert the dining table into the bed; he graciously obliged.  As he disappeared to work on another project that was calling his name, I lit my new Yankee Camping Out candle, poured a glass of wine, cranked the tunes, and hopped up on the bed with my computer to write.  Yep, it’s just me and PInky.

Between the smell of the fresh linens and fresh air I am in heaven. The temperature inside is perfect, the dimmed lights in the camper project a warm and cozy feeling, and looking outside all I see is darkness.

I  remind myself that one of these days soon we will finish this project.

In the meantime, I will sit back, relax, and enjoy using her just the way she is.

I only wish that all of you could be here glamping with me.  What fun we’d have!

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Independence Day, Simply Vanilla Ice Cream, and More

Tomorrow is Independence Day, and at this point, I have no idea how we will celebrate it.  I’m not usually a big plan in advance kind of girl.  I’d much rather act on spontaneity.  Last minute barbeques, campfires, a trip to the lake, and road trips are so much for fun when they aren’t over-thought. 

Regardless of what we might decide to do on the 4th, I am sure of one thing, we will need to eat.    I’m thinking that this Bacon, Ranch, and Onion Dip will get the party started.  I’ve made this before, but it’s worth mentioning again, especially since I just made a bowl of it.

And then there are those fat slices of my Sinful Midnight Cake resting peacefully in the freezer; right next to a quart of this Simply Vanilla Ice Cream that I made.  So, I’ve got an appetizer and dessert covered.  Hey, it’s a start!

This ice cream requires no cooking or eggs.  And it’s delicious!  I found it in a booklet that came with my Crofton ice cream maker.

Simply Vanilla Ice Cream

2 c. heavy cream

1 c. whole milk (I use skim)

3/4 c. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix milk, cream, sugar and vanilla.  Stir until sugar has dissolved.  Follow the instructions that came with your ice cream maker.

Do you have plans made to celebrate Independence Day? Or are you like me, flying by the seat of your pants?

Happy Fourth of July!!!

FV

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Join Me in My Write a Letter Campaign

What is it that you find in your mailbox these days?  Junk mail?  Bills? Local advertising publications? And more junk mail? 

When is the last time you actually received an honest to goodness letter from a close friend or relative? 

It’s sad to say, but letter writing is nearly extinct these days.  I suppose it’s understandable with text messages, instant messaging, and email at nearly everyone’s fingertips. 

The reason that we  resort to our tablets, computers, and phones to communicate?  Time and convenience.

But honestly, I miss getting notes or letters in the mail (the old-fashioned way).  I miss the personal touch a handwritten letter conveys, and  I miss buying pretty stationery and notecards to  send my letters and notes on.

Can you think of someone you’ve lost touch with, or someone that you know would really appreciate a heartfelt note or letter from you?  If so, consider this post an opportunity to get in on my write a letter campaign.  It doesn’t have to be complicated or  time consuming;  just a quick note on a pretty notecard will suffice.

I happened to have these plain cards and pretty little paper flower kits (that I bought on clearance at  Michaels last fall) sitting around my craft room.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them until I decided that I was going to write my favorite aunt a letter.  I want my letter to be as pretty as it will be personal.

Do you still write letters and notes and send them by mail?  If you decide to join my write a letter campaign, who will you send yours to?

I’m sharing this post with BeBetsy.com –  one of my favorite websites.  To help promote my letter writing campaign please share this post on your favorite social media sites!

3 Favorite Recipes and 3 Years of Blogging

Today marks my 3 years in the blogosphere.  I hadn’t even given it a thought until WordPress sent me a congratulatory message this morning.

To celebrate my blog turning 3 years old, I decided a virtual party was in order, so here are a few of my favorite desserts for you to indulge in.

These HOMEMADE LEMON CUPCAKES are one of my favorite cupcake recipes. Moist and lemony – these are perfect recipe for any Spring or Easter celebration.

This OLD-FASHIONED CUSTARD PIE WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE is one of my favorite pie recipes.  The smooth sweet taste of custard is countered with the tangy strawberry sauce.  This pie will delight your flavor buds – guaranteed.

And these CHOCOLATE COVERED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE BARS are one of my favorite bar recipes.  These cheesecake bars will take care of any craving you might have for chocolate and cheesecake at the same time.  The caramel is just a huge added bonus.

Thank you all, for reading my blog and helping it grow.  Without you, the readers, it wouldn’t be what it is today.  Your interest is what inspires me to continue baking, writing, photographing, and sharing glimpses of my country life.

 

 

This Story Begins at the Brown Hound Bistro

“Good things come in small packages”.

This story begins at the Brown Hound Bistro, a small, yet cozy and tastefully decorated restaurant that is situated in  the hamlet of Bristol Springs, NY.  For those of you not familiar with the area, the restaurant is in close proximity to Naples and Canandaigua, NY. 

Last night, a  group of bloggers, travel writers, and some of the Finger Lakes tourism folks met at the Brown Hound to sample  an  array of  deliciousness that the Finger Lakes  has to offer; along with gearing up for this evenings Finger Lakes Foodie Awards, all part of this years Finger Lakes Food Revolution Slice, Dice and Spice IV event

The dinner menu was prepared using local meats, cheeses,  fruits, and vegetables.  And yes, plenty of  Finger Lakes wine flowed throughout the evening.

When we weren’t eating, drinking, and chatting till our hearts content, we did what bloggers and writers do best – we took pictures. 

The Brown Hound is one of several restaurants in the Finger Lakes Region that focuses on local resources.  As Trish Aser, owner of the restaurant explained, her goal is to make her guests dining experience as local as possible.  She does this by displaying local artists work in the restaurant, by inviting local musicians to perform there, and by preparing meals using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.  And I’d say that Trish does it well.

If you’re looking for a  great place to dine, celebrate a special occasion, or simply want to  support the local food movement,  then the Brown Hound Bistro is must.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willard Asylum for the Insane – Suitcases

In 2011, I was lucky enough to take a public tour of the former Willard Asylum for the Insane in Seneca County, New York.  During that tour, I took a lot of photographs of both the interior and exterior of many of the buildings.  I later shared some of those pictures and my thoughts about the tour here on my blog.

Grandview Building – Willard, NY (2011)

Grandview

I never expected that my Willard post would create such a following.  It has been my number one post for two years running.    As a result of that post, I have received numerous emails from people looking for information on the former institution, suitcases, and the cemetery.  Many emails have come from people searching for information on family members who they believe were once patients there. I have personally responded to all of those inquiries, and hopefully have steered everyone in the right direction.

Recently, I found some information related to the Willard suitcases that I am eager to pass along.

Photographer Jon Crispin has been photographing the suitcases of former Willard patients that were found in an attic at Willard prior to it’s closing in 1995. The suitcases have been in the custody of the New York State Museum since they were located.

Crispin’s exhibit “The Changing Face of What is Normal” is slated to open on April 17th, 2013, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. 

These photographs are very thought provoking,  This exhibit (in my opinion)  humanizes the patients who resided at Willard and is a great memorialization to them.  And when you consider some of the mundane reasons that people were institutionalized in the late 19th, and early part of the 20th century, the title of Crispin’s  exhibit couldn’t have been better named.

To read more about Jon Crispin’s photo project, follow the links below.

Slate Magazine (Article)

The Telegraph (Slide show)

The Telegraph (Article)

NPR Radio (Interview on Talk of the Nation)

The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things (Article)

 

A Book, Photo’s, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

I’m dreaming of spring.  I want sunshine, warm temperatures, budding flowers, and green grass.  I want campfires, picnics, and days on the water just rowing our canoe to nowhere in particular.  I want to be able to open the windows and let loads of fresh air in, without letting all of the heat out.  I want to work on the Pink Paradise, and once she’s road ready I want to camp, or should I say glamp.

I’m not asking for much considering I live in upstate New York and we’re not even through the month of February yet. 

To help the cold winter months pass more quickly I’ve been reading and walking more.

I just started to read a book that I won during a giveaway hosted by the blog Pixi Wishes & Forehead Kisses.  It’s too early to give a  review, but I have to say that I was so glad to have found out that the author, Sandy Ward Bell, grew up a little less than an hour away from where I did.  

And as for the walking, it’s being done in an effort to help burn off some of the calorie laden treats that I can’t seem to stop making.  To make my walks more interesting I’ve been taking photo’s.  I thought I’d share a few.  If you’re looking for anything that resembles spring you won’t find it in these pictures.

And as long as I’m sharing – here is one of those calorie laden treats I was talking about.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Pretzel Bars

1 c. chopped pretzel pieces

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

2 tbsp. sugar

1 c. mini- marshmallows

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into two

1 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Lightly coat an 8”x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large a saucepan on low heat, melt peanut butter, margarine, and brown sugar.  Add marshmallows, half of the chocolate chips,  powdered sugar,  and stir until completely melted and mixed. Remove from heat and press mixture flat into prepared pan.

In a double boiler, melt other half of chocolate chips and shortening.  Spread melted chocolate over top of peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?

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Peanut Butter Fudge and Bah Humbug?

Bah humbug?

So far, I haven’t won a single pair of (the most beautiful) cowboy boots (that I’ve ever seen) that The Pioneer Woman is giving away this holiday season. The last winner hasn’t been announced yet but I’m fairly certain as my luck runs, it won’t be my name that’s picked from that Oklahoman’s hat. 

Like a lot of other hard working folks in this country, we are feeling it’s economic collapse.  So no, there won’t be a sleigh full of presents parked under our tree come Christmas morning.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I forgot to add the butter to the one and only (favorite) batch of frosted sugar cookies I made for the holidays.  Please don’t ask…

As I sat sipping my nice warm cup of coffee and writing this post  the picture became very clear.  Sometimes we need a few bah humbugs to remind us that a good life is not  just about pretty boots, money, and perfect cookies – it’s about so much more than that.

If you know of someone who is having a bah humbug holiday make them a batch of this fudge to help sweeten their day.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1/2 c. margarine

2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. milk

1 c. peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 c. powdered sugar

Lightly spray a 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt margarine; stir in brown sugar and milk.  Bring to full boil for 2 minutes – stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter and vanilla.  Once completely mixed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.  Refrigerate until firm.  Cut and serve.

Wishing everyone a joyful holiday!

Help Solve This 33 Year Old Cold-Case

I am about to share a true homicide cold-case with you.  This post is considerably different from those that I normally write.  If you get the least bit squeamish or uneasy with these type of stories than please just skip this post.  I  understand that stories like this one can make some people uncomfortable. 

In 1982, I was a student of  a law enforcement vocational program.    As part of that program, our class was introduced to an unsolved murder of a young, unidentified girl, whose body was found shot and dumped in the nearby town of Caledonia, New York, on November 10, 1979.

And while it’s hard for me to believe, this week marks the 33rd year anniversary date of Jane Doe’s death. 

Jane Doe

Jane Doe - Caledonia

For me, this case has been hard to forget.  Maybe it’s because our law enforcement class spent countless hours making fliers, addressing envelopes, and mailing them to law enforcement agencies across the United States; maybe it’s because the victim was probably about my age when she was brutally killed;  maybe it’s because she has never been identified and I find unimaginable to believe that her family hasn’t  looked for her in all these years; or maybe it’s difficult for me to swallow the truth, that someone has gotten away with murder.  Whatever the reason, here is the story of Jane Doe – Caledonia.

On November 10, 1979, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a local farmer who had found a young girls lifeless body in his rain soaked corn field. 

Upon physical investigation of the body it was determined that Jane was approximately 13 and 19 years old at her time of death. She weighed approximately 120 pounds and was  5’3” tall.

She was shot twice with a .38 caliber gun.  Once over her right eye, and once in her back.  She was found fully clothed with her pockets turned inside out and stripped of any form of identification. The only two personal items reported to have been found on her body were a necklace and a key chain.

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She had visible tan lines that implied that she was not from the area where her body was found.  Her brown, wavy, shoulder length hair had been frosted about four months prior to her death. She had no previous dental work, but had some serious dental decay.  She was wearing tan corduroys, a boy’s plaid button down shirt, blue knee socks,  brown lace up ripple shoes, and a man’s red nylon zip up jacket that had black stripes down the sleeves.  The jacket was made by Auto Sports Products, Inc..

Jane Doe's Pants

Jane Doe's Shirt

Jane Doe's Shoes

Jane Doe's Jacket

There are reports that indicate a waitress at a local diner may have seen Jane and an unidentified male eating there the night before her body was found. The FBI has posted a composite of a person of interest in this case, along with a description of the vehicle he may have been operating.  It is also reported that some truck drivers thought they saw Jane hitch hiking in the area the day before.

In 2006, Jane’s clothing was tested by Texas A&M University to determine what type of pollen traces were present.  The tests concluded that the pollen on Jane’s clothing could be  found in several geographical regions, including parts of Mexico, south Texas and Florida, three regions of  California, and the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.  Based on these findings, the investigators believe she may have originated from the Southwest. 

Along with the pollen tests,  DNA extraction was preformed on Jane’s body.  This process could help identify her through potential living relatives.

Jane was laid to rest in a Dansville, New York cemetery with the following inscription on her gravestone; “Lest we forget an unidentified girl. November 9, 1979. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

I would like to believe that this case can still be solved, and I believe all of you can help by tweeting this story, sharing it on Facebook, and/or re-blogging it. 

33 years is long enough -  it’s time to find out the who, what, where, when, why and how.

Note – The images and information related to this case are from various web sources, including The Doe Network, Wikipedia, Livingston County Sheriff’s Officethe FBI, and the blog – Kidnapping, Murder and Mayhem.

If you have information that you would like to pass on regarding the identity of Jane, information regarding the crime itself, or the person of interest in this case,  please contact the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office at  (585)243-7100.

My Cookbook!

It’s all said and done!

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Finally, after countless hours in my kitchen baking, photographing, writing, editing, pulling my hair out, biting my nails, and cussing just a little, my cookbook is finally finished.

A while back  I told you that I self-published my own cookbook and there would be more on it later.  Well, it’s later.

With that said, let me get the important stuff out-of-the-way.  First off, let me start by saying that I am not, nor have I ever, professed to be an Ivy League English major.  I am not a copyright editor in any sense of the word,  I am a self-taught photographer who probably values my work far more than any professional ever will,  I am a modest home baker, and I am a sticker. 

By sticker, I mean persistent, determined, and  who doesn’t  give up easily.  Perhaps that is the best quality to have if you ever decide (like I did) to write your own cookbook.

While writing and self-publishing your book may sound easy enough, I eventually concluded that I must have been bordering on the brink of insanity when I made that initial decision.

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My cookbook features a combination of my favorite sweets recipes, along with a full-page color photo for each recipe - 90 pages in all.

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Mission accomplished!  One more thing to cross off my bucket list…