With fall officially set to depart on Thursday this week, I have to say that fall this year has truly been one of the more beautiful ones that I can remember. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a rather mild summer. Oh sure, we had a short period of time when the temperatures were in the 90’s, but for the most part, the summer stayed in the 80’s and when fall came, it actually was cool. That might have had something to do with the amazing show that Mother Nature put on in our region. Driving to work, the bright oranges and reds of the trees with the early morning sky showing pink and orange in the background made for a beautiful drive.
And all those wonderful colors on display made for a lot of weekend road trips for my husband and myself. We did a lot of leaf peeping in the region, making several trips to Pennsylvania, including a fall foliage train ride and a tour of covered bridges. We also visited the Great Falls National Park on both the Maryland and Virginia side and discovered a tasty little barbecue place along the way. Can I just say that Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls, VA serves the most amazing loaded fries, which comes complete with burnt ends, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onions? Yum! They are worth a stop if you are in the area.
Here are a few photos of some of the places that we visited…
Rocks State Park, Maryland
Great Falls National Park, Virginia / Maryland
Bucks County, PA view from Bowman’s Tower
One of the Buck’s County, PA covered Bridges
All photos © lenalee
Now that the days are getting shorter, I am back to driving to work in the dark. Some mornings are darker than others, depending on the cloud cover. Although I only travel 6 miles from my house to my job, most of the roads I take are two lane with limited lighting. Driving in the dark means having to watch out for the various animals that are trying to get back home before dawn. It also means having to watch out for the deer that always seem to want to cross in front of my car. Note to the deer…stay where you are. It really isn’t better on the other side of the road.
If watching out for deer isn’t enough, we have to add the morning exerciser into the mix. While I salute those who actually have the energy to get out of bed and go for a walk or jog, doing so in all dark clothing is not a good idea. Why? Because we can’t see you! There are all sorts of fluorescent exercise clothing and shoes that have reflective things on them, so why can’t people actually wear them? They sell them for a reason. Companies don’t want you to get hit by a vehicle when you are out exercising.
But if you aren’t going to wear some bright neon shoes that light up with every step you take, could you maybe wear one of those lights that blink on and off? A light can be seen by someone in a car. If the light is too expensive, can you slap on some glow in the dark duck tape? I don’t care where you put it, but maybe a strip along your arm and leg that faces the street or wrap some around your running shoes….in other words, somewhere a driver can see it. That will help drivers and other exercising people see you and hopefully not run into you. Safety first!!!
Labor Day, also known as the unofficial end to summer has arrived and now begins the push into fall. The weather has actually been very fall like during the past week or so with temperatures mostly in the 70’s and even dropping into the 50’s at night. Of course it is supposed to get back into the 80’s today, so we will get a reminder that summer is still around. The last two days were also rainy as Maryland was visited by Harvey as the former hurricane exited the U.S. Next on the horizon is figuring out the path Hurricane Irma will take as it gets closer. For those of us along the Atlantic coast, we hope that the path stays well south and avoids the U.S. altogether. But, in case things don’t work out that way, and the path brings it up the eastern coast, we will get ready the best we can.
You can tell that the seasons are starting to change as the trees are beginning to thin out their leaves. Before long we will be able to see the homes behind us again. It is nice during the summer when you only see the green of the trees. Or in the case of our Japanese Maple, a beautiful red wine color. The cooler weather also caused some of the leaves to change from vibrant green to lighter green with yellow tones. So it won’t be long before we start seeing the oranges and reds as nature puts on its fall show.
We have started planning short day trips around the area now that the weather is more comfortable. We booked a fall foliage train ride in Pennsylvania in mid-October and are planning a longer trip in early November. We are taking a covered bridge driving tour and another that will tour barns, some which are hundreds of years old. I hope to get plenty of pictures.
We recently returned from our trip to the Poconos, specifically the area around Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The trip up was very pretty. I was surprised by how much further along the trees in Pennsylvania are in terms of turning colors for autumn than we are here in Maryland. We ran into a little glitch during the planning phase. The place that we originally planned to stay notified us about a month out that they had made an error in booking and we would only be able to stay one night with them and would have to move somewhere else. They seemed surprised when I asked for a refund and declined to stay one night with them. I informed them that I didn’t want to move somewhere else so I would not be staying with them at all. They finally agreed to a full refund and I went to our second choice, which was a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the main historic area downtown.
We planned to arrive early enough to catch one of the train rides that would take us into the mountains to view the fall foliage. As we drove into town, we saw that there was a picnic area by the train station, so we decided to take our snacks and have a light lunch before the train ride. While my husband purchased the tickets, I went to scout out a spot for lunch. And immediately discovered that the area was swarming with bees. Not just a few, but hundreds of bees. They were everywhere. Even in the shade, which is rare as bees tend to like sunshine and not shade, but it didn’t matter to them. As for me, I am someone who if bitten, swells up a lot. Like major swelling. So I hurried back to my husband, who was noticing the bees around the ticket window as well. Lunch was eaten back in our car and we waited to board the train until they blew the five-minute warning whistle.
The ride into the mountains was very pretty. I left most of the picture-taking to my husband as he is taller and can hold the camera higher. We saw several roads that led to some of the areas around the mountain, so we decided to go back the next morning to check out some of the old tunnels that had been used to haul coal back in the 1800’s. After the train ride, we had some time before we could check into the B & B, so we drove out to find the monument to Jim Thorpe, which was in the other area of town.
Upon checking into the B & B, we were told to just go up to our room on the third floor and the owner would be up in a few minutes to go show us where everything was. Our room was the only one on the floor and we had a small terrace that had a nice view of the mountains. After a brief meeting with the owner, she gave us our keys and said that she would bring up our breakfast baked goods before she left for the day. After unpacking a few things, my husband and I decided to go explore the downtown area. There is a street that runs behind the building that we were staying with little shops and restaurants dotted among the houses. The surprising thing was that many of the shops were already closed for the day. Checking the hours, most were open from 11-4. We poked around those that were still open. My husband was looking for a little gift for his co-worker that would be picking up most of his work while he was gone. He didn’t find anything for her, but we did find a set of slate coasters that were made in Pennsylvania and were rather cute. We ended up back at the B & B and sat on the front porch for a while as we tried to decide where to go for dinner. We had passed several places, so we pulled out our phones and searched for recommendations. We ended up going to a little Asian restaurant down the street and it ended up being very good.
The next day we left after breakfast and found the roads that we had seen the day before from the train. We explored the tunnels and enjoyed the mist floating down from the mountain. We also explored the surrounding area in our search for the covered bridges that I had read about when researching the trip. We found both of them. One is still in use today and the other is located in a State Park. We planned on lunch at Roadies Restaurant and Bar, which is located at Penn’s Peak, which is a concert venue. The food was typical bar food, but was really good. It was the view that was the main feature. We ate lunch while bopping to music from the 80’s and relaxing with the view. If you are in the area, even if you just get to the parking lot, stop and take a look. You won’t be disappointed.
We made it back into town in time to tour a couple of the museums and shops. Before dinner we decided to take advantage of the little terrace outside our room, catch up on the news and read a little. After just a few minutes we started to hear a loud buzzing. Looking up we realized that it was a drone. Someone thought it would be a good idea to buzz the street. It kept going back and forth and was rather annoying so after flipping it off, we went back inside. After dinner, we found a shop that we knew would have the perfect gift for our son, the House of Jerky. We had a really nice time getting away and spending time together. There were some WTF moments, so I will write about those next time.
Now that fall is here, the weather is turning cooler and I am planning all the yummy foods I can make in my crock pot. I use my crock pot during the summer, but it is usually to cook a roast or put in pork roast for some pulled pork. In the fall, I love cooking different soups and stews. There is nothing like coming into the house after work and smelling the wonderful aromas from the crock pot. So I’ve been thinking about what the first soup of the season would be. Last week, one of the grocery stores had rotisserie chickens on sale for $3.99 each, which is a deal. I usually buy one and we will have it for a quick-lunch on the weekend, but this allowed me to buy several. And after taking them apart, I had lots of chicken to use in different meals. I froze them for use later.
When I saw that this past Saturday was supposed to be cool and rainy, I decided that I would use some of the rotisserie chicken to make soup. So Friday, I asked my husband if he would bring up a package of the chicken from the freezer downstairs. He wasn’t sure which one I wanted, so he brought up two. I pointed to the one I wanted and he went to put one in the refrigerator and the other in the freezer.
The next morning I gathered up all of the ingredients for the soup and pulled out the crock pot. I went to the fridge for the chicken and didn’t see it. I searched the entire fridge, opened all the doors and even went back downstairs to see if he put it in the fridge down there. Nope, no chicken. Hmm, maybe my son ate it for a midnight snack. Nope, he didn’t know anything about any chicken. I called up to my husband to ask where he put the chicken and he said in the fridge. Nope. Not in there. My husband came downstairs and mumbled something about “I bet it’s so close it will bite you.” I let him open the fridge and search for himself. Nope. Still not there.
So I reached around him and opened the freezer. Guess what I found? Yep, two packages of frozen chicken sitting on two separate shelves. My husband looked at the chicken and then at me and said, “Huh, I thought for sure I put the chicken in the fridge. So can you put it in the crock pot frozen?” I shook my head, “No. That isn’t a good idea.” He looked back at the chicken like it had done something wrong, “Hmmm, so where do you want to go for dinner?” I looked out the window at the rain that was coming down, and had been for several days, “I don’t know. We’ll decide when it stops raining.” And for dinner, we had canned soup and sandwiches at home. It was still raining and I really didn’t want to go out. So Rotisserie Chicken soup will be in the crock pot again. I’ll just make sure that I take the chicken out of the freezer myself.
It used to be the only time you ate something pumpkin was at Thanksgiving. On a rare occasion, you might have also had it at Christmas, but if you did, chances are you were considered to be a little outside the norm in doing so. I mean pumpkin is for Thanksgiving, or at least it used to be. Now, it seems that pumpkin is in every food imaginable. If you like the taste of pumpkin, then you should be in heaven.
There are the usual offerings, such as pumpkin bread and muffins, but it has now moved on to pumpkin spice coffee at any number of coffee shops, as well as being available in your favorite individual pods and cups to making a whole coffee pot of the fall flavor. There are marketing campaigns that try to convince you that you have just been marking the days off the calendar just waiting for your favorite pumpkin coffee to come back to your coffee shop. I’m sure they sent you an email or text alerting you to the exact moment the coffee would return to the store. Right? And they will even sell you bags and pods of pumpkin coffee that you can make at home and it will taste just the same. Nope.
If that isn’t enough pumpkin for you, there are also pumpkin creamers by many different companies to make your coffee taste even more pumpkin. Each one tastes different, so the pumpkin fan will buy them all to find the one that it a perfect fit. It has invaded our breakfast cereals and toasted muffins. I actually saw pumpkin shredded wheat and pumpkin O’s cereal along with pumpkin English muffins and bagels. Just imagine, you can spread your pumpkin cream cheese on your pumpkin bagel to complete your morning pumpkin fest. And did I mention soup? Search the internet and you can find pumpkin recipes for soups, butter, pudding and even waffles. I’m sure you’ll find something that you like.
I will admit that in October, I usually buy one of the pumpkin cream cheese rolls that you can find in almost every grocery store. They are rather yummy with a cup of hot coffee after dinner. My son also likes pumpkin bread and I will make at least one batch from scratch. If he wants more, Pillsbury makes a great mix :). That treat usually carries us until Thanksgiving and the pumpkin pie still warm from the oven with lots of whipped cream to top it off. Yummy! As for the other things, I’m really not a fan. I’ve tried pumpkin coffee and didn’t like it. I finally tried pumpkin coffee creamer and it is okay, but once the bottle is gone, I will not buy it again. Honestly, most of the items made from pumpkin really don’t taste good to me, so I will stick to the original, pie, and occasionally branch out to bread…with warm butter. I can almost smell it. Oh well, off to make some. It’s September, but it’s not too soon, right?
Next month, my husband and I will be celebrating our 25th Anniversary. It really is hard to believe that we have been married for that long. Looking through the pictures that my husband has been scanning lately, we looked so young back then. When we first planned to marry, the Army decided that my husband would be deployed when we wanted to get married, so we went to the Justice of the Peace and were married at the courthouse. It was a Friday and on Monday, when my husband went to work, he learned the deployment was canceled, so we were married again three months later in the church, but we celebrate the August date.
We didn’t have a honeymoon. We couldn’t afford it back then and we talked about someday going somewhere to celebrate. Before long, years passed and while we have gone on vacations, we still never had what would be considered a honeymoon. When we moved to the east coast, we talked about going to Vermont in the fall for our 25th, but when my husband started his new job last year, he had to start earning vacation time all over. We didn’t want to take a whole week to go somewhere so I was tasked with trying to find somewhere close by that we could go to for a long weekend. Many people have talked about going to the Poconos, but they also say that it was years ago and they weren’t sure if the places they visited were still nice. One day, while visiting one of the blogs that I read, Mistress Maddie was discussing her recent Memorial Day getaway with a side stop to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. She included several photos and the one from the veranda of the Harry Packer Mansion with a view of the mountain side covered in trees totally caught my interest. I kept looking at the picture and thinking that the view must be incredible in the fall.
I began to research the town and learned that they have a fall festival every weekend starting in September and all through October. They also have fall foliage train rides which is something that we also want to do. I sent some links to my husband to get his input and researched places to stay. While the mansion is booked up, we were able to find a little bed and breakfast in town that had an opening for when we could take leave. We are booked and planning our stay. I have started my packing list…yes, I know it’s early, but can you tell that I’m excited?
So thank you Mistress Maddie for being such a wonderful tour guide in your descriptions of your travels. You inspired us with a place to visit. While our trip won’t be as wild as yours are 😉 we are thankful that you helped us decide where we wanted to go and we will have a cock-a-tail in your honor as we relax and take in the view.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you just had to laugh? My husband and I had one of those moments this weekend. We both wear glasses. I’ve worn glasses since I was 10 years old, had bifocals at 29 and was told by my optometrist two years ago that I was starting to develop glaucoma. My husband did not need glasses until several years ago and then it was only for reading. That changed last year when he was told he should wear them all the time. He has resisted that and I often remind him that he is supposed to have his glasses on. He usually replies the optometrist told him he should wear them all the time, not that he had to.
Both of us have started having problems with colors such as trying to figure out if dress pants, both his and mine, are black or dark navy or taupe or olive. My husband has always had problems distinguishing colors. After his time in the military, where he wore a uniform every day in varying shades of green and khaki, he left it to me when it came to selecting his suits, dress shirts and ties. He will give me his opinion, but he has a problem determining if some of the colors actually go together. He doesn’t see the subtle differences in some of them. He usually pulls out several shirts and tells me which pants he wants to wear and I select the one that goes with it. He will occasionally choose a tie and if it doesn’t go, I will quietly switch it out and he goes on about his day.
Lately, it has gotten harder for even me to distinguish between the colors. I take the pants to the bathroom and look at them under the light, which is a brighter LED, and I hope I have the black plants instead of the blue. I hand them off to him to select the shirt and tie. But it has gotten harder and we have even taken to labeling the item’s tag with the color. Needless to say I have gotten concerned that my eyesight may be getting worse. My husband began searching the internet and found an article about how the type of light you have in your closet can actually make your clothes look different colors. He explained, in great detail mind you, that the type of bulb (ours had a yellow hue) could actually cause the problem with telling the difference between colors. He said we should change the bulb and if that didn’t work, we might have to change out the globe because it could also make it hard to distinguish colors.
So this weekend we changed out the lightbulb in the closet. And I could tell the difference between black and navy blue pants. Success! And then we laughed because it was such a simple fix and we couldn’t help but think how long we had struggled. That had us wondering if we ever went off to work with mismatched colors. If we did, I’m sure the lighting would have made it look fine. Hmmm, okay, that’s what I hoped happened. If not, it will be something to laugh over.
After growing up in the Midwest and living in the South for 11 years, the one thing I missed the most was not being able to see the leaves change in the fall. There was a saying that there were two seasons in the South, summer and February. For the most part, that pretty much held true. It was always warm and humid and then during February, the weather seemed to go through the three remaining seasons, rainy for spring, cooler for fall and really cold (or at least in the 40’s) for winter. When we moved to the Mid-Atlantic three years ago, I was looking forward to seeing the beauty that is fall. So I was rather disappointed when the past two years fall has seemed to arrive late and leave in a few weeks. The leaves never really turned colors. The just seemed to turn yellow and then fall to the ground. Hmm, not what I was expecting.
At least not until this year. Maybe it has something to do with El Nino, but our summer was rather mild when compared to other summers. We had a few days with the temperature in the 90’s, but for the most part, we stayed in the 80’s. We also has more rain that we usually received. So when the calendar said that it was fall, the temperatures actually seemed to agree. And because of that, Mother Nature has put on an amazing show. The leaves have been turning all sorts of colors and they have lasted for weeks. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many different shades of orange and red. It has been beautiful. It has also meant that my husband and I have been able to take our weekend drives where we just enjoy the fall show. Some of the roads, especially those in the state parks, are beautiful to ride through. Today we realized that the area around us has finally peaked. There are less trees to view and many more are almost completely bare now. So thank you Mother Nature for providing us with such a spectacular view of fall.
Okay, I have to admit that I am one of those that love fall. I love it when the leaves start turning and the nights get cool enough that you can keep the windows open. There is nothing like sleeping in on the weekend, all bundled up in the blankets because you just can’t bring yourself to get up and close the window. Nope! I will gladly pile on the blankets instead of stepping one toe out of bed to close the window. It’s the principle. I gladly trade a cup of coffee after dinner to a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallow fluff or marshmallows. I’m not picky.
I spent too many years living in several southern states where you only really had summer and February. February was the month where you would have lots of rain, a cool spell (maybe about 45 degrees) and yes, even a flurry or two. Or the one January when we were living in Tennessee and we actually woke up to 8 inches of snow. Our pug had no idea what snow was and refused to go outside. We would carry him out and set him down and he would race back in the house. Eventually, my husband had to shovel a path around the yard that showed him that the grass was still there. The little guy stuck to that path and did all his potty trips along that route until the snow finally melted.
When we moved to Kansas, where it snowed a lot more, we bought our pug little snow boots. Yea…good intentions, but an epic fail. Our pug went out with them on once and began to shake each leg until his little boots flew off, landing in the snow, and then he proceeded to kick the snow until he was sure that he had buried them for good. Of course my husband had to dig through the snow to find them, much to our pug’s disgust.
This year, the weather gurus are calling for a colder, wetter winter courtesy of El Nino. Of course, that translates into lots and lots of snow. Before that happens, I hope to enjoy fall. I want to get in the car and drive into the countryside to look at the beautiful fall foliage. I want to go to the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect pumpkin for our porch and stock up pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin butter. Oh so yummy good!!