Monday, 19 September 2011

It's going in the favorites pile

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls. There's not a whole lot you can say about gigantic waterfalls. They are...ginormous. They are loud. And they are hard to get a decent picture of because of all the mist coming up! Regardless, I'm glad to say I've seen them.

These are the falls from the New York side. You can't actually get a decent shot of the Canadian side all rainbowed up at night. But while it's tacky, it's also awesome. I loved the rainbow falls!

Beanie for Oz

This was the first knitted project I was able to finish since being on the road. Unfortunately, I didn't bring enough skeins along to knit up the jumper for Oz that I was planning on. I might order it anyways and just stash it away to do when I get home.

Welcome to Canada!

I can not tell a lie. We made a lot of Canada jokes while driving towards border patrol. We were beyond tired and I know we smelled bad. We looked like dirty hippies and we hadn't showered in what must have been a week. So no doubt the car smelled funky. We looked funky. The following conversation ensued:

Border Patrol: Do you have any marijuana with you?
Griff: No
Border Patrol: Not even a little bit of marijuana?
Griff: No.
(Ashley is stitching up a knitting project)
Border Patrol: Ma'am?
Me: No.

So apparently we looked like we might just have some marijuana with us (even a little bit). We had a huge laugh about it afterwards, but we did take 2 showers each after checking into out hotel. I'll remember this for visiting Canada next time.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


The Corning Museum of Glass is now one of my favorite places ever. It was amazing for my family as a day out. On a personal level, it turned me on, like only good art can. I was completely enthralled and inspired.

This particular piece was featured in the gift shop. THE GIFT SHOP. So before we even began the experience of going through the different galleries I was in love.

The Museum begins with pieces of modern art. I will admit, I enjoyed this much more than Griff did and he was very patient to entertain Oz while I looked, read and photographed pretty much every piece I saw.
I loved how this piece was a wonderful example of how something completely inorganic, such as glass, can be manipulated into something just as beautiful (and as fragile) as actual plant life. The attention and quality of detail moves me deeply.
Then pieces like this I want desperately to touch. It looks soft and smooth, rough and distorted all at the same time. It's a medium I know I could never attempt to work with because of my intense fear of being burned and I am completely in awe that people are able to create such amazing, beautiful things out of heat.

After Modern Art, there is a very long gallery about the history of glass and the display is long and thorough. Griff was interested in the earlier eras and I was more interested in the later. I could probably dedicate an entire blog just to beautiful glass objects. But anyways, here is a small sample of later displays of glass work that I found inspiring.

As I mentioned in the blog before, the Museum also has several hands on workshops that you can pay to partake in. It also has several demonstrations for watching by experienced glass workers. And while I enjoyed the art aspect, they Museum also has a section about the practical and scientific uses of glass (for example fiber optics) which really appealed to Griff. We could have easily spent many many more hours there, but Oz wasn't happy for an entire day. But without a doubt, our family will certainly be returning in the future.

Blown Away

One year on Channel 4's Kirsty's Homemade Home or Homemade Christmas or whatever, Kirsty went and did a bit of glass blowing. Griff thought it looked really neat and wanted to give it a go. It's one of those things you say you want to do, but it's a lot harder to get around to ACTUALLY doing.

So when my friend Emily told me that the Corning Museum of Glass has different glass workshops I knew immediately I was going to book Griff in for one. I didn't care which one, I just really wanted him to be able to do SOMETHING. And they did have a glass blowing class! SO I signed him right up as soon as we got there.

Of course, he wanted to make an ornament for our tree and we agreed on the rather traditional colors of Green, Red and White. I can not wait to see how it will look (because it takes so long to cool, the ornament was shipped from the museum to my parents house so it's waiting there for us! We haven't actually seen the finished product yet!).

Griff did enjoy the glass blowing. I think he would have enjoyed actually handling the glass, but because it's an all ages class, they do make it very safe. I think I will look into finding him a more instructional, hands-on class where ever we may end up.

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

It did feel Magical. I think the Gardens could only be best enjoyed on a bright sunny day to see all the amazing light reflecting through the glass pieces. We didn't do anything else in Philly that day (we're trying to limit big city days- they're just too difficult and exhausting with Oz), but this was an easy enough stop. If you can, go there.

The National Christmas Center

In Amish country they have a National Christmas Center. It was a rainy afternoon and it seemed like a good idea to spend the day somewhere Oz could run around. When we arrived it was all but empty and we raised our eyebrows at the cost (it was something like $10 per person) but thought "what the hell? what else are we going to do today?"So we paid our admission and began.

The Center begins with the story of Yes, Virginia (which yeah, I got a little teary eyed!) and then sets off to tell you about all the different Christmas traditions and interpretations of Santa around the world. Then you proceed and see some wonderful Santas and ornaments.

There is a Santa's workshop full of toys and elves and at the end of the room is Santa's chair. I can only imagine the line up at Christmas when Santa is actually sat there.

Then there is a very "interesting" bit where it's a Christmastime story told thru a village of animatronic animals being very festive. Oz loved this whole section and spent a lot of time waving at all the animals. However, he did not like any animals actually being on eye level with himself and would dash away. It was cuteness overload.
The center ends with a nativity walk through where you would have retraced the steps of Mary and Joseph. Past that there is a whole room full of miniature nativities from around the world. My favorites were the African and Asian ones.

So it was a great visit. The gift shop was tiny, but we did buy a pickle for our Christmas tree.

It's odd visiting something like this. Either people will love it or hate it. Griff and I are unabashed Christmas fans. We love the decorations, traditions, shopping, music...all of it and we go all out every year. (If you asked Griff what his favorite type of music is, he will answer "Christmas music". He's very Scrooge in that he is the type of guy that keeps Christmas all year). So if you are a cynical anti-Christmas "it's soooooo commercial" type of person I wouldn't recommend it. I doubt it would thaw your tiny frozen heart.

We had an awesome time there and I was happy it was pretty much empty. It meant we could take our time and enjoy. We will definitely return.

Amish Country

We thoroughly enjoyed Intercourse, Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. The immediate tourist area wasn't great, but if you enjoy riding around in the car, it was totally worth taking the back roads and seeing the farms.

I completely splurged and bought a quilt. We called it an early birthday present. The quilts were all works of art and I could have spent hours looking at all of them (and wanting to wrap up in them). I bought this one out of a family's home and the woman was so kind and was just showing me as many as I wanted to see. She said it takes about 12-16 weeks for them to complete one quilt and each woman in the circle will work on a particular bit. She said her 86 year old mother does the edging. It amazes me they are able to part with them!

We spotted at another house where they were selling cheese and Root beer. Odd combo, but why not? So we bought cheese and root beer. I had never had home made root beer before and O it was O so good. I thoroughly enjoyed every last drop. Of course, the cheese was tasty too and went into a few of our pasta dishes over the next few weeks.

I loved seeing the horse and buggies all over town. I did try and be respectful and not take too many obvious tourist photos, and never of any of the Amish peoples faces. I had been told that they generally just ignore tourists, but when we were on the roads further out and we would pass someone on horse and buggy or out in their yards/farms, we received a lot of smiles and waves which was nice.

So Amish country so was a definite win and we will be going back again. Hopefully to buy another quilt and eat some more Shoo Fly Pie

Favorite picture ever?

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Triceratops

The last time I posed in front of these, I was 5 weeks pregnant. So it was very cool when at the Smithsonian in DC, Griff told me to stand in front to take a picture. I was like a wonderful, gigantic circle. Good stuff.

Adventures in Book Hunting

So I am a Stephen King fan. In particular, a 'Salem's Lot fan. So when my sister found a website to a bookstore specializing in Stephen King books called Betts Books we immediately added to the list of places we needed to see on our travels. It had originally been located in Bangor, Maine but has now been relocated to Fairfield, Connecticut.

So this morning we headed out from Amherst, Mass. and put the address to Betts Books into the GPS. We were checking out of our hotel at noon and a last minute check had me finding that Books closes at 3. With a 2 hour drive that would leave us an hour for browsing. We were off!

We were making great time and then when were about 10 minutes away we hit some major traffic so we took a detour that would add another 20 minutes to our drive. That would give us only 30 minutes to browse...that is if they decided to stay open. Indie bookstores have that luxury of "O no one is in, let's close early".

The GPS started leading us into a residential neighborhood. Initially Griff thought it was giving us a shortcut but all of a sudden we found ourselves parked in front of someone's house with the GPS announcing we'd reached our destination.


I was freaking out and screaming swear words at the GPS for taking us to the wrong damn place and threatening to destroy it for its stupidity.

Griff drove up the drive way. "But this is someones HOUSE" I kept saying.
Griff, "Look, see that SK sticker on the car? I'm going to go and have a look. If it says Stephen King, I'm knocking on the door. If not, we're driving!".

Next thing I see my husband going up to knock on the door and lo and behold, the gentleman does run the bookshop for his home. Apparently most sales are done from online and about 5 people in the last 3 years have shown up on his doorstep.

He was amazingly kind and we had a great chat about King books, illustrations and was able to examine some great editions.

And Yes. I did buy something. I bought a 2 books and some prints.

Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Valentine's to me.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A Quick post about Aging

Today I turn 29.

I am so excited for our future I can't fathom being upset about actually aging. I have so much to be happy and excited about it. If this year is as awesome as the last one (and the one before that...and the one before that...) all I can do is say "BRING IT".

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dinosaur Kingdom

First, I give you a cute picture of Ozzy being "hatched" from a Dino egg.

In small town called Natural Bridge in Viriginia there is a man by the name of Mark Cline who likes to create odd roadside attractions. One of these is Dinosaur Kingdom (which has Haunted House attached to it as well).

The premise of Dinosaur Kingdom is that a group of archaeologists have been digging and uncovered an underground cavern of dinosaurs. It just so happens that the Union Army stumbles upon the dinosaurs and wants to wrangle them up and use them against the Confederate army (this of course taking place during the Civil War).

Just Bizarre.

What's more bizarre that by the end of it all I could think was "what a strange expression of Southern aggression". But maybe I'm just cynical. Regardless, we loved it.

But if Dinosaurs and Haunted Houses aren't your "thing", Cline has also created Foamhenge (the Foam equivalent of StoneHenge) and there is also a Wax museum with a factory tour of how they make the figures. And a butterfly exhibit. We didn't do all of those things. Just the Kingdom/House/Henge.

AND there are some Caverns in Natural Bridge. And a Natural Bridge. SO you could easily spend 2 days seeing things in this very teeny tiny place.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Christmas Ornaments

Some Pretties for my tree!