I Love Summertime

I love summertime for the songs the birds sing,  the brightly colored flowers we can see and smell, and the warm sunshine that touches our skin. 

Why do you love summertime?


Willard Tour Date 2014 and Buttery Iced Shortbread Melts

I am often asked by my blog readers when the next tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane will be.  Well, mark your calendar folks!  The next public tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane is scheduled for May 17, 2014, 9AM, at Grandview.  Rain or Shine!  If you want a sneak peak of some of the things you might see on this tour than check out my post, A Day at Willard Asylum for the Insane.  The tour is $10.00 per person.

And since it’s been ages since I’ve baked and shared a sweet treat on my blog, I decided to share what my daughter now claims is her favorite cookie recipe – Iced Shortbread Melts.  These cookies earned their name because they are so sweet and tender that they really will melt in your mouth!

Buttery Iced Shortbread Melts

2 sticks of butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Cream ingredients together; add flour. Continue to mix ingredients until everything is blended. Form dough into a ball.

Place  dough on a piece of parchment paper that is coated with a light coating of flour. Roll dough out until it is about 1/4” thick. Use more flour if needed. Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet about 1 1/2” apart. Bake for about 8 minutes. Do not over bake. They will firm up after removing them from the oven. Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before moving them.

I made a thin batch of buttercream icing and dipped the top of each cookie in the icing.  I used some homemade colored sugar sprinkles to fancy them up.

These cookies would be perfect to serve at a ladies luncheon, bridal shower, or a tea party.

What is the last kind of cookie you made?

Lot’s of Sunshine and Blue Skies; No White Sandy Beaches

Yesterday we decided to break free from the bout of cabin fever we’ve been having and go for a walk.  The day was slightly warmer than what we’ve been accustomed to this winter, and the sunshine and blues skies were welcoming.  The best part of the walk, other than the fresh air, sunshine, and blue skies, was the pretty little bluebird that welcomed us to it’s habitat.  I tried to get a picture but it was too camera shy.  

There is no question the land is barren and there is little to photograph, but here is what Mother Nature had to offer us.


Impatiently waiting for spring…

Tin Can Tourist’s Return to the Finger Lakes Region

Last September I was elated to go to my first Tin Can Tourist Rally to ogle over the most vintage campers that I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.  And as you might imagine, I didn’t miss my chance to ogle this year either. 

This weekend Sampson State Park in Seneca County is playing host to yet another Tin Can Tourist Rally.   Today was the open house where the proud owners of these campers opened their doors and shared glimpses of them with the public.  If you have a interest in anything vintage, enjoy camping, or love the Finger Lakes Region Region, I can almost guarantee that you would enjoy this event.

Here are some of the great campers and vehicles that caught my eye at the open house.  Check out my pictures and tell which one catches your eye the most.

Thank you TCT for opening your doors to those of us that admire your wheels.  Happy Camping! 

Crockpot Apple Crisp

Fall is fast approaching here in the Finger Lakes Region and apples are a big thing in my neck of the woods.  And as luck would have it, New York State is the 2nd largest apple producing state in this country.  We have beautiful apple farms to go apple picking at, fun and tasty apple festivals to entertain us and help keep our bellies full, and this year I am hoping hubby and I can make our way to Wayne County for their 16th annual apple tasting tour which sounds like loads of fun to me.

So, in honor of our soon to be autumn, I decided to cheer it on with a  delicious warm and gooey apple dessert.

This dessert is perfect for those days when you don’t feel like turning on your oven, or if you need a dish simple dish to pass but don’t have a lot of time to fuss.  Top it off with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream or dollop of homemade whipped cream and it just keeps getting better!

This dessert recipe is adapted from Food.com.   My adaptation appears below.  If you prefer the original recipe just follow the previous link.  This recipe makes about 6 servings.

Crockpot Apple Crisp

5 Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 c. old-fashioned oatmeal

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. margarine or butter, melted

Generously grease a medium sized crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add all ingredients except apples; mix thoroughly.  Layer half of the sliced apples on the bottom of the crockpot and top the apples with half of the oatmeal mixture.  Repeat with remaining apples and oatmeal mixture.

Place the lid on crockpot and bake on high for 2-3 hours, or until apples are tender. I stirred the dessert a couple times while it was baking. Turn crockpot off and stir once.  Keep covered and allow dessert to sit until ready to serve.

This dessert is a winner in my book.  Fix it, and nearly forget it.  I shared this with my husband’s family and there wasn’t even a spoonful leftover.  I consider that a good thing!!

What is your favorite apple?




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)


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)


Finger Lakes Food Revolution 2012

If someone were to ask me to explain to them what makes the Finger Lakes food and beverage scene so unique, I’d have say it’s the fact that we are fortunate enough to have it all.

We are literally sitting in the midst of four specific wine trails – Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Canandaigua Lake. There are dozens of craft or microbreweries scattered throughout the region, and yes, there is even a handful of spirit producing distilleries here as well.

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But don’t let me steer you into believing that the Finger Lakes is just about booze; it’s not.

We have a considerable number of local Finger Lakes dairies producing some of the most delicious farmstead cheeses you’ve ever tasted. We have access to pasture raised meats, farm fresh ingredients, u-pick farms, along with deliciously unique products produced right here in this region.

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Also on the food scene, there are community supported agriculture programs, local farmers markets to explore, along with and farm to table dining experiences at an array of local eateries.  Not to mention,  agriculture food festivals galore; maple, grapes, potato, garlic, tomato, sauerkraut – take your pick.

And it only gets better.  This year the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection which promotes tourism in Ontario County, is hosting the Finger Lakes Food Revolution, all part of the annual Slice, Dice and Spice IV.  This event gives locavores like myself, and tourists who love Finger Lakes, the opportunity to nominate, vote, and support our favorite Finger Lakes foods, beverages, restaurants, food events, and locally made ingredients.

Do you have a something you favor from the Finger Lakes? You are welcome to participate in this event too.  Just visit the Finger Lakes Food Revolution website and get in on the nomination process which is currently underway.  Nominations are expected to wrap up in early December – so don’t miss your chance to join in on the fun, and let your voice be heard!

Pink Paradise–Update #2

A lot has happened in the Pink Paradise since my last update

We insulated and installed wainscoting on the ceiling and wall in the area where the table/bed will be. Spackled and filled holes, prepped the surface of the floor, and installed self-stick tiles where the table/bed will be.  We wallpapered behind the stove, and then took it back off after finding that the surface underneath the paper was in need of more work. We tested the electric and found the lights and the stove hood all work, puttered with the fridge and believe it works but we need to level the trailer before we go any further, repaired damaged screens, and did a little more painting.  Whew…

This area shown (below) was exposed prior to getting the camper.  The insulation was missing so we replaced it.  I wasn’t paying attention when my husband said we needed to reinforce the ceiling before putting up the wainscoting and you will see a slight sag in the new ceiling.

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The floor tile (below) was so inexpensive, and was an easy quick install.

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The wallpaper on the side of the cupboard (shown below) stays, but the rest of the wallpaper had to be removed. More wall prep is necessary before re-installation.  But we have lights!

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Nearly every screen needed to be replaced.  They look so much better now.Frolic June3 047

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There is going to be a vintage travel trailer rally here in the Finger Lakes area (Sampson State Park) in September.  I can’t wait to go check out all of the cool campers.  If we don’t take the Pink Paradise this year, I’m hoping to do so next year. 

Yet to come; covering the exposed wheel well and revising a cupboard area, trim work installation, cushions, curtains, and wallpapering, bathroom remodel, and firing up the appliances.  And once we finish the inside, we will move to the outside. 

Have a great weekend!

Shittake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

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Last year, around this same time, I visited  Blue Oyster Cultivations, a mushroom farm located here in the Finger Lakes Region. 

I visited BOC to conduct some research for an article I was about to write for a local publication. 

Once I was done interviewing the owner’s of the farm they picked some of their fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms for me to take home. 

With their delicious, fresh, and locally grown mushrooms I made this salad.  

This salad pairs well with chicken and fish.  It can be served warm or chilled, and it makes a picnic dish.  It’s a welcome change from other  salads that are loaded with calories from the mayonnaise used in them. 

Shiitake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

1 – 7oz. box of long grain & wild rice

2 green onion, sliced

1 – 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 c. oven roasted, no salt, sliced almonds

3 – 4 large shiitake mushroom caps, sliced thin

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

dash of salt & pepper

Prepare rice according to box; set aside.  In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, almonds, and mushrooms.  Cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat, add cooked skillet ingredients to rice.  Pour Balsamic vinegar over rice, along with salt & pepper.  Mix thoroughly.

Serve warm, or chilled. Makes 4 servings.

Surprise your family with this rice salad that’s loaded with tasty flavors!


A historic event, a statue, and photo’s

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Left -Susan B. Anthony, Center – Amelia Bloomer, Right – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The Seneca Falls Convention, also known as the First Women’s Rights Convention, was held nearly 164 years ago (1848) in Seneca Falls, NY.   It was then that five, strong-willed women, mustered the courage to solicit public interest and pursue reform in the civil and social injustices.

On a recent trip through Seneca Falls, I spotted this remarkable statue and stopped for a photo session with these three important  ladies from the past. 

This bronze statue depicts the initial introduction of the Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by Amelia Jenks Bloomer which took place in Seneca Falls in 1851. 

All three women were pioneers in their own rights, assuming roles of some of America’s very first feminists.  On their agenda’s; anti-slavery,  women’s suffrage,  and the temperance movement

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After taking the photo’s I couldn’t help but notice the images of the women appeared shadowed.  The shadows could have been caused by the direction of the sun, the time of day, or the women’s hats.  Or maybe, it is an accurate depiction of the first meeting between some very strong women that turned out to be forces to be reckoned with.

To learn more about The National Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, visit the National Park Service.

Thank you Seneca Daily News for posting my story!