Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer: Lake George Vacation

We spent a week at Lake George again this year.  It was a week full of relaxing, laughter with friends and family, and some adventures with the dogs.  The week always goes by too quickly, but we always spend the next year anticipating our next trip!  Here are a few pictures:)
 We hiked up Sunrise Mountain one day.  I was on this hike when I found out about Robin Williams' passing, and that is what I will always think of now when I think of Sunrise Mountain.  It's hard to stay up on current events at Lake George because we don't have a tv, internet, and there is no cell service (love that!).  My friend Amber told me about it on the way up the mountain, as her friend had seen it on the newspaper earlier that morning.

I was SO excited to learn before our trip that we would be seeing one of the "supermoons" of the summer while at the lake; which meant seeing it come up over the mountain!  Amber and I found the perfect spot to set up our tripods and camp out while we waited for the moon to rise.  (We went to the neighbors' for the best view!)  The next few pictures are the August supermoon rise, and some of the moon over the lake, making it very bright and looking like daytime.

 This is taken at 10 pm, shortly after the moon rose!  It was so calm and beautiful.

One of our neighbors' houses.  So cozy.

We rented a boat on the warmest day of the week.  Here are a few shots:

 We had such a wonderful time catching up with life-long friends.  My cousin was there for the week as well with her son and husband:

Me + Tracey = BFF!

My niece and I having fun one afternoon.  (photo by Erinn Spack)
We had some fun nights at the campfire (photo by Erinn Spack)
Lastly, a hummingbird that Opa keeps well-fed:)

Until next year!

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Summer (Part Bobby's Visit)

2014 was a great summer!  There were several highlights.  One of the best was my favorite nephew coming to visit!

This is how every out-of-town visitor who is flying in starts.  I sit at my desk at work, hitting "refresh" every few seconds, until I see that they are descending.  It is torture and like watching water boil!!!!


Of course, we had to take a pit stop at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. 

Sadie and Bobby picked up right where they left off- goofing around and catching up:)

 I highly recommend Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson!  We took our friends there in January (which embarrassingly enough was my first time!  oops!).  It is definitely a place for children and adults.  Bobby loved it!  As did Jim's mom.

 Using an old fashioned camera.

The gardens there were beautiful.  They grow every vegetable and herb you can imagine.  I took about 50 photos because I wanted to capture all the ideas down!  You're welcome for not posting them all :)
We had lunch at the tavern at Monticello where they served southern food buffet style, by candle light.  Outside of the tavern, they had an area where you could play old fashioned games.  Here's a blurry shot of Bobby trying his hand at one.
Fortunately there was a carnival in town the weekend that Bobby was here!  He loved it, and even won me a goldfish.... (RIP Mr. Skittles:(  )


 More fun at home....

It had been a few years since Bobby had been to visit.  One of his favorite memories though, was tasting the oil and vinegar at the local shop.  He begged us to go back.  However, it wasn't quite as he remembered, as evidenced in this picture!!!!

 We hung out at the pool for a few days...

We took him to the local farmer's market, where he picked out this unusual peach.

Jim smoked two different types of meat, wow!!!!  I am drooling just looking at this picture again!  Delicious!!  

When Bobby was little, he couldn't say "Auntie"; it always came out "Tummie".  To this day, he calls me "Tummie Emmie".
He told me to close my eyes at one of the antique shops that we were in.  I obliged, only to open them and see this!!!  I think it would be so cool to have this picture framed.  Bobby is a very sweet child and I look forward to his next visit!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Best Vanilla Iced Coffee!

for Lisa

A strong claim, I know.  But it's really good and pretty easy!

This recipe has multiple steps that you can start days in advance.  I always have 2 items on hand:

-Coffee Ice Cubes (Not necessary but makes it less watery)

-and Vanilla simple syrup.  (Similar to the syrup they use at Starbucks!).

I always make extra coffee on Sunday mornings and pour the excess into ice cube trays.

The recipe for the vanilla simple syrup is below.

I usually anticipate that I am going to drink iced coffee several hours to a day ahead of time.  That way, I have time to make a normal cup of coffee, and either sit it on the counter to cool or put in the fridge overnight:)

Once I am ready for the coffee, I start by putting several ice cubes in a cup, followed by about 1-2 tablespoons of the simple syrup.

Sometimes, I will add a squirt of this delicious caramel sauce.  It is the closest I have ever found to the kind they use at Starbucks.  I found this in Walmart in the coffee aisle.  It just adds a tiny bit more sweetness!

After the optional caramel sauce, I pour in the coffee (not pictured).  Now comes the good stuff.

 You can use your favorite creamer.  I personally love this local half & half.  It is SO rich and very creamy.  For a long time I was using plain milk until my husband brought this home one day.  I have to say, it makes such a difference!

 Add the optional straw and mix up!  It goes great with any breakfast and tastes so refreshing on these warm summer days!

What I love about iced coffee is you can drink it fast!  Which means you can wake up even faster:)

A great outdoor space always helps too!

The Best Vanilla Iced Coffee
-Few cups of brewed coffee, chilled (however many cups you'd like)
-Several coffee ice cubes
-1-2 tbs Vanilla Simple Syrup (recipe below)
-Splash of Milk, creamer, or half & half
-Caramel sauce, optional

1.) Start with a cup mostly full of ice cubes.  Pour in 1-2 tbs of simple syrup.  Can increase/decrease depending on desired sweetness.

2.) Pour in chilled coffee, leaving room for creamer.

3.)  Add creamer.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Simple Syrup
-Vanilla Extract

1.)  Add one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a saucepan.  Bring to a light boil over medium-high heat.

2.) Once boiling, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

3.)  Remove from heat.  Once mixture has cooled, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Stir well.

4.) Store in refrigerator until ready for use.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Favorite Holiday

The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday.  It started that way mostly because it meant it was the beginning of a long summer at Lake George.  While that's unfortunately not the case anymore, it remains my favorite because everyone is so happy!  There's good food, festive activities, and reasons to get together and have a BBQ.  This year was great since July 4 fell on a Friday, that meant a 3 day weekend!  Nothing kills the 4th of July buzz faster than a July 4 Wednesday, with work early the next day. :)

This year we went to the annual car show in town again. 

We went to 2 different BBQs: one at an English family's house, and another at some friends across town.  One friend has a knack for making killer sangrias.  Here was her July 4th one:

We made peach cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream.

On Saturday we took a hike in the Shenandoah! 

We hiked along a stream nearly the entire way, which meant lots of little waterfalls.  Sadie was in heaven.  The water was so clear, cool and refreshing!


We found a patio set for 50% off in July!  I was expecting to wait until October at least to find a sale like that.  We got lucky:)

I've been perfecting my iced coffee recipe.  I think I finally have it down.  The secret is coffee ice cubes, vanilla simple syrup, and half-and-half produced locally.  So refreshing!

Also not pictured: our Hibachi night out with friends, complete with the chef pouring sake into our mouths and drinks that came out on fire.

It was such a beautiful weekend.  There was 0 humidity and the weather stayed in the 70's/low 80's for the most part.  It was almost like I was at Lake George. :)