Friday, January 30, 2009

Home again

After all the goings here and there in DC, we got home last night and all is well.
Other than being tired after working today, we have wonderful memories of our four days in our nation's capital.
Thanks for joining me on the virtual vacation!
Where are you headed next?

Air and Space

I think the most interesting Smithsonian Museum we went to see was the Air and Space museum.

They had all the originals and replicas of early flyers, including the plane of the Wright Brothers and the Spirit of St. Louis:

We saw amazing displays of what NASA has built:

And of course, the lunar landing scene:

It's funny, when I see the planes and the incredible things that are launched into space, I almost wish that I was in the Air Force, like my dad.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

5 pictures - 5000 words

Tuesday was one of those days when my honey would be in conference meetings all day and I would go see things that he couldn't care less about. What to do... what to see... where to go...

The art museums it is! There are three of them and I went to them all!

The breath taking lobby of the Museum of Art. The marble pillars were about 50 feet tall and the fountain in the center was topped with the bronze statue and surrounded by the most beautiful flowers.

How well do you know the master painters? Can you name the famous painters of these four works of art?

I wasn't so sure that I wanted to go to the art museums. I have been to galleries before and am usually not enthralled over the experience. This was different. There were people sitting and sketching things. Some would sit on a bench just looking at the masterpieces. It was very right-brained. There were guards everywhere. Walking into Gallery #85 where the Monet works were hung actually took my breath away. What an amazing experience. Seeing a reprint is great. Seeing the original is so much better!

I saw a sketch that was drawn in 1505. I gazed on ancient Chinese vases. I saw a painting done by Leonardo da Vinci. There were perfectly formed statues in stone and in various kinds of metal. Craftsmen have been at it for centuries. Art is a part of man. Creativity is a trait of our good God and He gave it to us to enjoy. I am really glad I decided to go to the art museums. I walked out feeling inspired.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


There was an elephant in the lobby of the Museum of Natural History. Ok, it was stuffed. I think I'll stay away from these guys.

And this was one of several trains on display in the Transportation Collection of the Museum of American History.

There were a lot of guards around the room where this baby was! Apparently, blue is a very rare color in diamonds. This one is 54.5 carats of rarity.

Sights of DC -day 1

After getting up at 4 in the morning yesterday, Sparkie knew something different was happening. He is wise to the breaking of the daily routine. When he was let out at 4 a.m., and then put back in his "house" at 4:30, we heard him yipping sadly as we shut the door behind us. Feeling a little guilty for about one minute, the reality of what was coming next hit us with great anticipation. We are going to DC! Next stop, the airport for our 6:15 flight out of Albany. Yes!

Arriving in around breakfast time, our cab brought us to the hotel where we were able to check in early. Thankfully the room was empty and ready for us. So we unloaded, went and got some food, and then trekked down to the National Mall.

When we were flying in, the one monument that cannot be mistaken is this one. Even when we viewed it from the plane's window, it looked so tall and proud and strong. Seeing it from the ground is even more amazing. You can always get your bearings if you just look for the Washington Memorial. Unfortunately, it was too cold to be walking around alot, so we didn't get right up to it. Regardless, it was a fabulous thing to see, even if it was at a distance.

One of the attractions we were interested in seeing was the National Aquarium. This was near the monument in the basement of a humungous office building. They had alligators, marine fish, fresh water fish, snakes, frogs, sharks, moray eels, and probably the biggest lobster I've ever seen! He would point his antenna at you, like he wanted you to know he had a bead on you. The salt water tanks are the prettiest, in my opinion. There is nothing more colorful than a reef system.

There is more to say about day 1. This will have to be a two-parter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crock Pot Lovin'

We all agree that this time of year gets us wanting warm-you-to-the-bones sorts of dinners. I was talking to my friend, Libby about the crock pot she just got for Christmas. We are giving each other ideas of the lovin' recipes we can make in our time-saver dinner makers.

I just found this link for Campbell's Kitchens where they offer several crock pot recipes. Click on the recipe ideas link on the left side, and then on the slow cookers link on the right side. I'll have to admit, some of them sound really tasty!

Alton Brown from Good Eats is another genius that I have learned from and achieved cooking success from and will evermore hail as king of the kitchen. I have made his tapioca pudding in the crock pot. So creamy and delicious!!! This fan page link will give you his incredible recipes. I have never not liked any of his recipes. Even when I tried the collard greens, which have the potential of getting slimy and soggy, and we all know how much I hate those textures in my food. Can you say gag me? OK, sorry for the digressing. Back to the point. :)

Today, I am crocking up a nice beef stew in my crock pot (set up in the conference room here at work) for some friends. They just had a baby and I am swinging by after work with their dinner. Banquet Crock Pot Classics can be found in the freezer section at the store and the Beef Pot Roast is really good. You can keep it GF if you add beef stock instead of the gravy packet, and thicken it yourself when it is done. Sometimes I'll add GF noodles and omit the potatoes for a casserole type result. Regardless of how it is served up, crock pot cooking definately dishes out the love!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Countdown to DC

So, there are only four more days of preparing before we get on that plane early Monday morning.

Interesting enough that the airline is the same one as the airline that crashed into the river not even a couple weeks ago. Not having been on a plane in a very long time, this scenario can't help but fuel a teensy bit of concern in the back of one's mind.

Which reminds me of the first time I boarded a plane. My sister was living in the orient, and my parents and I were going to go see her. This was during a spree of problems with planes where the cargo doors would be ripped off during takeoff, the landing gear would malfunction, some crashed due to pilot error, and most disturbingly, engine failures. One even had an engine fall off of the wing. Of all the plane styles out there, the one we were to take half way around the world had every one of these accidents on their list. Go figure. Nevertheless, we boarded and got there (and back) with no problems.

Now we are considering the details of our time away. What has to be packed. Who is going to do what while we are gone. Whether or not we can get away with just carry ons. Double checking that our life insurance policies are paid up. tee hee! What fun! I love to travel!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stephen Patrick

I got a call from my mom today that her brother, known by us all as Uncle Stevie, passed away last night. He was 93.

This is what was happening in his birth year, 1915:
-income ranged from $200 - $3400 a year
-Ellis Island was stop #1 for immigrants
-a postage stamp was 2 cents
-World War I had been going on for a year
-there was no effective shot for a tetanus infection
-Woodrow Wilson was president
-a call from NYC to San Francisco takes 23 minutes to go through and costs $20.70
-the Klan was on the uprise
-most phone calls spanning more than 40 miles are still inaudible
-the first stone for the Lincoln Memorial was set in place
-Babe Ruth hits his first career home run
-Japan develops the x-ray tube, which will bring radios to the world in 1919
-Fox starts a film company
-The RMS Lusitania is sunk by a sub, killing almost 1,200
-a proposal for women's right to vote is rejected
-the millionth Ford automobile is made
-Frank Sinatra was born
-Booker T Washington died

Uncle Stevie served in WW2, married, settled in New Jersey, had children. My mom described him as a likeable man. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to get to know him. In my opinion, he lived during the most amazing years of time. It would have been interesting to hear of his memories. Even though I did not know him personally, I feel some sense of loss. Good bye, Uncle Stevie.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It was made official on Monday and the countdown has begun. We will be going on a trip to DC on the 26th!

My hubby has to go there for a business conference and I will be his tag-along, his escort, his flying companion, his costume mistress...whatever you want to call me...I'm it!

He made the plans to have us go really early on Monday so we can spend the day doing things in town. Then he has conference things to go to on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then we leave late Thursday to come back after another day of doing things in town.

I am looking forward to the get away. Looking forward to a change of scene.

Have you been to DC? What do you recommend seeing there?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Comfort

The one thing that we can do during the winter to stay comfortable is have fabulous, warm dinners to take the chill away. One thing to make that possible, especially if you are in the workforce, is to use a crock pot. My last post was for soup made in one.

I have some select dinners that I really like using the crock pot for. The one I want to share today is your basic cooked chicken (GF of course). Super easy and super delicious.

Crock Pot Chicken
One whole roaster chicken, any size that fits in your crock pot
1 package McCormick seasoning of your choice (I like the Garlic & Herb one)
4-6 cups water

Take chicken, place in clean grocery bag. Add seasoning package and shake to coat bird. Place in crock pot. Pour enough water in crock to cover bird, but do not fill more than 2/3. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Remove from pot, saving the broth. Bird will fall apart from being so tender. Remove meat from bones. Strain the broth into another pot to make gravy with a water/cornstarch thickener.

If you have whole potatos, you can place them in the bottom of the pot, and they will be ready to serve when it's done cooking. Just be sure the water level isn't too high. You may have to cut the chicken or use precut pieces if you want to add them in the bottom of the pot.

If you are not a GFer, you can spoon biscuit dough on top of the cooking chicken during the last 20 minutes of cooking to make dumplings. I'll have to figure out a GF way to do that. They are really wonderful!

The next day or so, you can use the leftover gravy and add the chicken to it, heat it through and serve it over rice. Broccoli goes really well with this.

Crock pot cooking is not only easy, but the meats made in one come out so amazing. If you put it in early, you can come home to a dinner ready to give you that feeling of comfort like cozying up under your best blanket for the night. Stay warm!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ham bone soup

Here it goes - I'm attempting to make the soup today. I hope it is yummy. I've never been a pea soup fan.........
Get out the crock pot and try it

Split Pea Soup
one ham bone with remaining meat
1 cup minced onions
2 tsp. black pepper
1 pound dried split peas, green or yellow
1 cup chopped carrot

Place the ham bone and other ingredients to a crock pot. Just cover with water, and cook on low all day long or high for 4-6 hours. I cook my peas til they are fairly mushy, but you can cook less if you like them less done. We always ate big bowls of this soup with bread and butter. Very simple! If the meat isn't falling off the ham bone, remove and use a fork to remove it and place the meat into the soup. Discard the bone.

I'll let you know how it is and if I am a convert or not!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First try

I have never baked a ham before. After having a really tasty one at my in laws house for Christmas dinner, I thought I would give it a shot. The Good Eats version was my first choice, of course, and it came through with flying colors. Basically, you bake it for a couple hours until the internal temp is around 130 degrees. Then coat the outside with mustard, brown sugar, a spritz of a tasty liquid, and GF ginger snap crumbs. Then bake it for another hour until the internal temp reaches 160. The drippings that coat the pan carmelize the crumbs into sweet and spicy crunchy goodness. Who wants to clean the pan? I do, I do!!!

Dished up with a hearty serving of peas and carrots and a half of a roasted sweet potato, topped with the crunchy goodness, is a fabulous dinner fit for anyone who sits at your table.

I kept the ham bone and have been encouraged to try to make split pea soup. I have no idea how to do that, but in the spirit of trying new things, I am going to attempt that next. Check back again for that adventure.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Which jazz artist

do you like best?

Al Jarreau

Anita Baker

Spyro Gyra

Diana Krall

Sunday, January 4, 2009


When I was growing up, my parents had the foresight and recognized that I was a musical person. There was a piano in my house, as well as an acoustic guitar, a flute, a clarinet, and a trombone. I tried them all. The piano was the instrument that I was naturally drawn to the most, but I also found a home in playing the flute.

My first one was an Armstrong. It was a chrome finish, C tuned flute. It was beautiful to me and I started lessons when I was in 4th grade. My music teacher was an amazingly gifted man. Mr. Stry would not only teach you, but he would also play accompanying music with you when you would do your lesson music at class with him. I had, and still have, the most fond memories of learning music with him. Within two years, I was in the All County Band as the third seat flutist and loving every minute of it. Unfortunately, my original flute was stolen, but my parents made sure I got another one.

There were a couple other teachers in high school, and competitions gave me the opportunity to solo-perform against other musicians on a state and on a national level. Some times I would win, some times I would not. Good times!

There was a point where I wanted to audition for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, but when they told me I needed to bring my flute and my piccolo, my heart sank because I didn't own a piccolo.

This one happens to be my sister's flute. I asked her if she had one I could goof around with, and when she gave me the Armstrong, I couldn't help but think about the amazing times I had in my youth playing music in band class.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I'm not a reader

...but I am interested in reading the Word.

If you are like me and need a schedule to help you read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in 2009, I have just the site for you! is the place to go for just that very thing. They offer about 30 versions, a place to jot notes, ways to highlight and flag verses. It is really interactive and a resource worth checking out.

If you can get through 3-6 chapters a day, you can do it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Clean slate

It is interesting to me how our minds make some days out to be much more important than other days. I'm not talking about events like a dinner party or a family vacation. I am talking about a day that has more meaning than the rest of the days of the year. New year's day is the day we all have a clean slate.

People are amazing. We are varying sizes, have different abilities, display different personalities. Different but yet all the same in a few areas. One of those areas is we all have a sense of hope and a need of purpose for our lives.

I read a cute little saying and shared it with some people a few weeks ago. ...... Yesterday is history..... Tomorrow's a mystery.... and today is a gift........ that's why it's called the present. Is that the way we see each day? As a gift to open and enjoy?

When you were, oh let's say 8 years old, that most likely was what each day was to you. An amazing number of hours to embrace and squeeze the life out of. There are highlighted moments that would come, like your birthday party, summer vacation, Christmas day. Life was pretty much about what you wanted and needed and could experience in your very young life.

This is not the way we can continue, of course, since life cannot continually revolve around our demands forever. My dad used to tell me, "you can't always have what you want", which at the time was an awful thing to hear, but as I grew up and understood life more, I could see that his statement was very true.

I listened to a message this morning about relationships. It gave basic points but they are worth repeating. In a nutshell: 1) I need to place my relationship with God first. That is the base of all things. 2) I need to put my relationship with myself next. Why? If I don't like me, I will not get along with others in a healthy way. I spend the most time with me, so I better learn to like who I am! 3) I need to place my relationship with others third. Spouse and then family and friends.
This order can easily get mixed up. We all have relationships. They need time given to them in order to be. If I am not getting much out of them, I should analyze my priorities. Then I should see how much effort I am giving to them. Healthy relationships. A good thing to remember for 2009.

Speaking of giving, what is the hope there? Giving time, energy, emotion, money, resources, or whatever else, has a personal attachment to it. We can't help it; it's there. Perhaps there is a hope of acceptance attached to it. Or the desire for a positive reply. Maybe the gift is a tangible way to display love, instead of the giving of time. Gifts can be wrapped with many conditions. God offers gifts to all - righteous or not. He shows the perfect example of giving and states to simply give and then it shall be given to you... It doesn't say when or by whom. Unconditional giving. A God thing to remember for 2009.

I really meant to keep this post short and kinda sweet. I trust you are reading my words as a positive progression. Summing up, the first day of any year is one of those meaningful days. We can't help but think we can clean our slate, make some resolutions to strive for and have hope for a better year, a better me. The cold hard fact is, hope takes its time. It is not instant. We can't be one way one day and, poof, become something different the next. We need to work at betterment. We cannot let the purpose go. Will there be failure? Most likely so. But the hope that our good God placed is in us can rise up each and every day to do its work. That is probably the most important thing to remember in 2009.

Happy New Year!