Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Big Hair Decision: Two More Inches and Then I'll Donate

My hair is long.

I realize long and short are relative terms but for me and my hair history, my hair is crazy pants long.  And I don't feel great about it.  

I should say that in general, I don't love very long hair on adult women.  I think it often looks like women are hanging onto younger years and once upon a time and it ages them.  So going into this, know that I am just not a big lover of very long hair.  It's not my jam.  

On top of that, I have very thin hair.  My pony tail is about as thick as that of a toddler.  My hair is also straight as a board and body-less.  I dry my hair upside down and use hair spray and round brushes and still get almost no body going on in my nest.

So long hair, in my opinion, just doesn't suit me.

However, what I see and what the world sees are different.

I get so many compliments on my hair when it's long.  And that's one of the only areas of my life that garners compliments.  So I've doubted myself a lot over the past few years when it comes to my hair.  I feel better with it shorter.  But the world responds better when it's longer.

As much as I would love to be in a place to say fuck it to society and not feel anything when a well meaning "Your hair looks so pretty!" comment floats my way...that's just not where I am mentally. Because compliments do help on those down days.  They're a boost and a comfort when you forget which way is up.

So I've gone back and forth on do I chop off this mop top sister wife hair or do I let it go a while longer?  

In the end, I know I will cut it.  If for no other reason than I just think it's annoying to have to deal with long hair.  It tangles and needs brushing more than the once a day that I prefer and always ends up in a pony tail by the end of the day.  

But something I've always wanted to do is donate my hair.  However, I've been told many times over that you can only donate non color treated hair.  And there is no way in hell I am about to go a day, let alone a year, without coloring my locks.  In fact, I care more about coloring my hair than cutting it.  All day, every day, if I was forced to pick between the two, I'd pick coloring.  

So no, not coloring my hair is just not an option.

However, after another Google search, I found out that one {maybe more, but I stopped at one} organization will take color treated hair.  The caveat is that it has to be at least 10" in length to donate.  

I do have the length but that would leave me with really really short hair.  And as much as I want it cut, I don't want it quite that short. 

So my new game plan is to grow it out another 1-2".  My hair grows fast so I estimate that takes me into January or February at the latest.  Which is perfect.

I turn 40 in February.  And currently have zero plans.  

So this is my new plan.  Deal with the stringy, long locks for another few months.  And then chop it off and start my fourth decade with a fun, fresh cut.  Plus, finally get the joy of donating to cancer patients who need wigs.

I didn't say this was an earth shaking game plan.  But it feels good to have a goal and an end date.  

If you have any short hair {it will likely be between my chin and shoulder at that point} ideas for me, please send them my way!  I'm open to anything style and color wise.  I'm pretty excited about making a fresh change in the new year for my new decade!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Roasted Tomato Tortellini Soup. Easy and Delicious!

When I pulled out my tomato plants from the garden a few weeks ago, I also harvested a bunch of green tomatoes, hoping they would ripen in a sunny window.  But weeks later, with most of them ripe and all of them in my way, I decided to put them to use.  My very last fresh, homegrown, heirloom garden tomatoes of 2017.

As the weather is now cold and dreary, there was only one answer to the question {I posed to myself} of what to make.  

Soup.  I needed to make a big pot of something cozy.  Truly there is nothing cozier than a tomato soup in my book.  It's like a liquid hug!  And this recipe is worth pinning to make later.  

But please don't let not having fresh tomatoes stop you from making this recipe.  I made a note in Step 2 and at the bottom of what you can use instead.  I just happened to have tomatoes that needed to be used up.  There are a few ways to get the same end result though.  This soup is so delicious and comforting and simple to make!

Roasted Tomato Tortellini Soup:

Step 1: If you have fresh tomatoes on hand, roughly chop them up, as well as some onions and garlic cloves, toss them in oil, salt, and pepper and lay flat on a sheet pan.  Roast at 350 for about an hour.

Roasted goodness.  A lot of the water has evaporated and the flavors are intensified.  Those onions...they are sweet like candy.  Or...I mean, like onion candy.  My point is that they're delicious!  

Step 2: Add all those roasted veggies to your pot.  {If you're not using roasted veggies, do not fear.  Just cook down a few roughly chopped onions in the soup pot with some oil.  Add garlic for the last minute or two so it doesn't burn.  And supplement in a few cans of tomatoes.  What kind of tomatoes?  It doesn't matter because this is all getting puréed.  So whatever you have on hand or love the most will be perfect.}

Step 3: Add in a large 28 oz can of tomatoes.  I used diced.  You can use whatever you have in the pantry.  It all gets puréed at this point.  Add in 1/2 can of water if you used all canned veggies.  Or a full can of water if you roasted your tomatoes.

Step 4: After everything warms up, purée it to a silky smooth texture.  

Step 5: Add an additional can of diced tomatoes and water {I added half a can} to reach desired texture.  

I added this can after the purée because I prefer soups with chunky bits in them.  However, it should be clear that nothing is hard and fast with this recipe.  If you don't want chunks of tomatoes, be wild and add them in before you purée.  You do you, boo!

Step 6: Add in all the seasoning you love in a tomato soup.  I added generous amounts of salt, pepper, dried rosemary, dried basil, and a bit more dried onion powder.  But play with it.  I think a dash of cumin would be tasty here too.  

Step 7: Add one cup of cream {I used half and half.  You should use whatever you have on hand.  Heavy cream, milk, soy milk, etc will all work just fine.}

Step 8: Add half cup shredded parmesan cheese.  Stir in to incorporate well.  The cheese should melt into the soup.

Step 9: Add 1-2 bags of frozen {or fresh if you're feeling fancy} cheese tortellini.  Let the pot come to a simmer and all the bits warm up and flavors meld.  

I topped mine with a bit more parmesan cheese, because why the heck not?!  But it's good enough to stand alone.  

You seriously need this soup in your life and your belly!  It's delicious and comforting and fills you up.  

Pin in to save for later!  I'm telling you, this will be a favorite in your soup rotation this winter.  Baby it's cold outside....but dang that pot of soup is cozy and happy!


**There are a few alternatives to the roasted veggies.  As noted, you can use canned tomatoes.  But you could also just as easily sub in a jar or two of you favorite tomato basil pasta sauce.  Or even use a pre-made tomato soup and just doctor it up with onions and seasoning and tortellini.  Don't feel boxed in to this recipe.  There are lots of ways to get a similar bowl of soup into your life, my friends!!  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My Favorite Podcasts

I didn't really get elbow deep into podcasts until a bit over a year ago.  So I felt pretty late to that party.  

Sure, I would listen once in a blue moon.  But I always switched over to music instead.  I never really got into a series enough to listen to more than a few one off interviews.

But now I flip flop between music and podcasts pretty regularly.  And often prefer podcasts when I am in the garden or taking long walks.  It's fun to have variety in my ears.  Especially with so many awesome choices available these days.

When Tricia mentioned recently that she didn't even know where to find podcasts, I giggled.  Because y'all are missing out if you aren't using that feature on your phone.  It's a great way to pass the time on a long car ride or while working out.  

So for starters, look on your phone.  The app came with your iphone so you don't even need to download it.  It's purple and appropriately titled Podcasts.  

Did you find it?  {You can also listen in iTunes and Spotify.}

Now let's talk about the beauty of podcasts.  They can be anything.  From a recording of a concert to an interview to a scripted series.  Do you have a favorite celebrity or author?  Type their name in the search box and chances are good you'll find something.  A topic you're into like cooking or religion or politics or parenting or exercise or books or or or?  Type it in and poof you will be presented with options!

Here's a bonus of podcasts.  While they do use up storage space {so be sure to delete them after listening}, they don't require wifi once downloaded.  So you can listen on a plane or train or car ride that is without a wifi signal.  

Three of my recent favorite crime mystery series are Accused, Dirty John, and S-Town.  I highly recommend all three as they keep you intrigued and really into the stories of these long forgotten unsolved crimes.  And at this point, S-Town is part of pop culture so definitely give that a listen.  {Though I liked Dirty John better if asked to pick between the two.}

I am so into Queery and Nancy!  I've listened to every episode of both and can't recommend them enough.  They are different, but both center around LGBTQ topics.  Both should be listened to by everyone.  I can't say that enough.  They are so well done and are important to share so that we all stop living in our little uninformed bubbles.  Plus, I really like the hosts of both series.  

Nancy is short.  So if you like a quick 15-20 minute podcast listen, this is for you.  It's pretty light and easy to listen to {for the most part- there have been a few heavier episodes} and has done a great job of bring new ideas and topics to the front of my mind.  

Queery is long.  Episodes are about an hour in length and each interviews a single other human.  So you really get to hear some deeper and broader topics discussed between Cameron and her guest.  Lots of heartfelt moments and lots of laughs and lots of oh wow I never thought of that before moments.  It's thoughtful and introduces a great mix of discussions.  If asked to pick my current favorite podcast, I'd tell you without hesitation that it's Queery!

If you're looking for a bit of daily life and politics, This American Life and Pod Save America are for you. This American Life has been around for ages and is hosted by Ira Glass.  The topics covered are incredibly diverse from cars to stories of people and everything in between.  Pod Save America is hosted by four former President Obama aids and if you were a fan of Obama, you will love it.  

Now for the one I want to ask you about.  My Dad Wrote a Porno.  It's British and about a guy reading the terrible porno book that his dad wrote and self published.  The first few episodes were hilarious.  The son plus two hosts add in side busting commentary.  My question though is if anyone has listened past episode seven?  I was a little {lies...all lies...a LOT} disturbed by where the story went.  It's kind of {lies again...it's definitely} horrifying.  The commentary is so funny.  But I am not sure I can get past the porn's story line, even though the series is about mocking it.  So if you've listened, give me the skinny. Should I keep going or just abandon ship?

So what are your favorite podcasts right now?  Have you listened to any from my list?


Monday, November 27, 2017

An Attitude of Gratitude

My Thanksgiving week was low key and lovely.  And I'm so grateful that stress and drama were kept at bay.  I find this time of year to be rather gloomy and difficult, so when one of the holidays comes and goes without a fuss, I let out a big sigh of relief.

I'm not a Scrooge.  I don't hate the holidays.  I just never manage to really get into them.  To me, they feel like they are intended for other people.  People who have people.  Not me.  

Maybe one day I will feel invited to this whole holiday spirit thing.  But for now, I am just happy to glide through them unscathed.

The best news is that the weather was amazing!  Wednesday and Friday I spent 4-5 hours each day down in the garden.  I did it!  I managed to mulch in the whole thing, add new T posts for a new tomato row next year, move a few plants, and tidy it all away for winter.  And then on top of all of that, i planted 200 cloves of heirloom garlic, which should grow into 200 heads of garlic next year!  

I would like to squeeze in another half hour this week just to make sure everything is truly squared away.  But beyond that, the 2017 garden season is officially over for me!

Family is complicated.  So this year, dad and I opted to have our own tiny holiday together.  Free of stress and drama.  On my chosen schedule.  I watched the parade {which...don't hate here...but if that ever gets cancelled, I won't care...it's just kind of a thing to have on as far as I am concerned}, the dog show {now that is something I can get into!}, cooked a giant meal, cleaned up, and we were able to see a 6:20 movie.  It's the perfect little Thanksgiving! 

But...did you know it's impossible to cook a small Thanksgiving meal?  It is.  But that's okay, because my personal favorite holiday is the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Not because of the shopping, of which I did none.  But because it's Leftover Day.  All the joy and none of the work.  Yum!

Also, apple pie was always an acceptable breakfast in my house growing up.  It's mostly apples...so practically a health food.  

I did a bit of shopping and bopping about on Small Business Saturday.  My beloved city, Troy, NY, has an ever growing downtown shopping area with great stores and antique shops.  It was a delight to see how many people were at the Farmers Market and in all of the stores on Saturday.  As much as we all love Amazon and free shipping codes, I do believe that people love shopping small just as much.  

Sunday the weather turned cold, windy, and gloomy.  But my father asked me earlier in the week to go with him to my grandparents' and great grandparents' cemetery to bring out the Christmas wreath.  I hadn't been in years and had nothing else that was pressing so it was the perfect day to drive out to the country.  

This little old red barn is just in front of the entrance to the cemetery and I love it.  The wooden star is so sweet.  It's hard to see in this photo but there's a lovely creek that runs behind it, too.

I often post photos on Instagram of my walks in a beautiful historic cemetery in Troy.  Which is fully of towering monuments and mausoleums. The people who were buried there once upon a time were clearly from great means.  

This little cemetery though, is way out in the country.  It's humble and sweet.  With some really beautiful stone walls that make me swoon.

Every time we go, which admittedly is not very often, my father points out where a general and his horse are buried.  And every time he says this, I ask "a general of what war and why is his horse there?"  Dad has never given me an answer.  For all I know, the bit about the horse could be an urban tale from his childhood.  But...I hope it's true.  I like the idea that a man and his horse are in the middle of this rural spot.  Everything is better with a dash of quirk.  Even a cemetery.

Snow flurries started to come down as we were standing there talking about who was here and who was in the various other spots.  Apparently I'm related to a lot of the people here.  Which I find comforting and endearing.  

I've decided that a Thursday holiday is ideal.  I wish Christmas could move to a Thursday every year too.  Having Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to play really feels like the perfect amount of time.  Someone should look into that!

How was your holiday?  Did you head to a big family meal or host a big {or small} meal at home?  Regardless, I hope you were with people you love and went to town on the turkey and pie!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide For Your Everyday Needs

I took some time to collect some must have, very affordable, holiday gift ideas.  Just a few every day items that are both practical and fun.  These are sure to check off all those hard to shop for gifts this season.

Like a tin can.

I kind you not.  You could open a can of crushed tomatoes {I'm looking at you, Mermaid} or you could head over to Tiffany & Co to pick up their Sterling Silver Tin Can for the low low price of $1000.  One thousand dollars.  

Where do you buy your balls of yarn?  Michaels for about $5 or Tiffany & Co for...wait for it...$9000.  Nine freaking thousand dollars.  American, not Monopoly, dollars.  Nine.  Nine thousand!

Have you ever shopped at Tiffany?  You know the complimentary cup of coffee they give you in a small paper cup, coated in their signature blue color?  Well you can also get one in bone china.  Comparatively though, this one is actually a total bargain.  

A pill box...so big enough for tiny pills...in the shape of a Chinese food take out container is less of a deal.  Though to be honest, I know people collect pill boxes so I suspect this one will be a big seller.  

But let me ask you, dear friends, where you store your band aids?  I slovenly store mine in the generic Target store box that they came in.  Gasp!  Proper ladies likely store their {store brand because let's be honest...how else are you going to afford this thing} band aids in sterling silver band aid boxes lined in Tiffany blue.  Oh how I wish I could one day be a proper lady!  

And my final gift suggestion is something we all need.  A rose gold bendy straw.  For $350.  Which better make your Diet Coke taste about $347 better than the plastic two cent variety!

So there you go.  Top tips for all you gift giving needs this season!  You're welcome!

Seriously though...I want to see a list of people who buy that tin can, bendy straw, and ball of yarn!  While I am of the belief that everyone has the right to spend their pennies as they so choose...no one needs a sterling silver tin can.  No one.  I'll take a blue paint pen and DIY that shit for you.  

Happy Holiday Season, friends!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Winter Blues: Struggling With Mental Health and Missing Sadie

Dear Sadie,

I've really struggled this week.  More than I have in ages.  Gasping for breath from crying so hard and telling you that I love you and just hoping against all hope that you can hear me.

You were more than just my fur baby.  You were my best friend and buffer from all the negativity in the world.  You gave me a reason to get up every morning and keep a routine every day.  You were a constant, daily source of sweetness and giggles.  You listened to my secrets and kissed away my tears.  I made millions of mistakes as your momma but you never once stopped loving me.

You taught me how to love and be loved.

A man, who I still can't figure out how I know, came up to me on Tuesday and asked me how my Sheltie was doing.  You.  He asked about you.  I said you passed away a year and half ago and he seemed shocked.  He mentioned seeing my dad, your Poppy, walking you for me and how sweet you were.

All this time later and you are still leaving the loveliest impression on people.  You were the very best little baby bunny!

As much as I miss you, I know that part of my emotional struggle this week has been the sudden change in weather.  It's quickly turned very cold and very gloomy here and even an amazing election night hasn't been enough to pull me out of my funk.  Between the darkness and coldness and looming holiday season, I feel like I am treading water just to breathe.  

I hate this feeling so much.  

I feel heavy, sad, and incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin.  I'm unsettled and foggy.  But also exhausted.  

When you were here, our routine would keep me on track.  Three walks a day at a minimum.  Pets and cuddles and conversations and meals.  

You saved my sanity.  And I owe you the world.  

But what the hell do I do now, without you here?

Not a day has gone by in the one year and six months since we gave each other our final kisses that I haven't missed you.  Not one day has passed without me thinking of you and sending up love to you.  And not many days have gone by in a row without me shedding at least a few tears.  

You were and will forever be my very best baby bunny.  And I am so grateful for all of our years together!

But for all of my preparation for your death, I never figured out how to make this part, the all consuming, gut twisting, heart stopping, breath blocking, body shaking pain of missing you, go away.  

Six months until spring.  Six months of darkness and gloominess.  I know I can do it.  I know I can grit and bear it.  Because I did it without you last year.  I just might need a friendly reminder now and then though.  Because I can feel myself slipping into that dark, quiet headspace.  And that scares the crap out of me.

Six months.  Saying that feels weighty.  Expect me to talk to you incessantly, Sadie.  But I'll find my way back to spring.  And smiles.  

I really miss you, sweet girl!  But I know you're on the best side of this life.  So live it up and eat bowls of whipped cream and run and leap all day and take naps in the sunshine.  

I love you and miss you to the ends of the earth!

XO Momma

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Day In the Hudson Valley Where Nothing Went To Plan and Everything Was Perfect

A month ago, Hamilton and I planned a group trip to the central Hudson Valley region.  The city kids were going to train up and I was going to drive down and everyone would meet at the Poughkeepsie train station.

The day, despite it being the end of October and often rainy or even snowy, was perfection!  Warm sunshine and clear skies from start to finish made for the most magical day outside!  Global Warming is a bitch for the polar bears but this October has been unbelievable here in Upstate NY!

After I managed to get lost circling the train station parking lot, we met up and headed directly towards our first stop of the day.  The Walkway Over the Hudson.

I've blogged on here numerous times over the years about visiting the Walkway Over the Hudson as it's a personal favorite way to spend an afternoon.  It's a great little walk, a great view, great people and dog watching {I literally ran into people while watching a cute dog...so typical}, and makes for a great, albeit always windy, photo op.

What made this visit for me fun this time though, was that it was a first visit for everyone else in the group.  I loved being able to share a bit of the bridge's history, some of my favorite random musings, and see it through their eyes!  And I'm fairly certain it was an all around win!  I always say when I'm down there that I would be at the Walkway every weekend if I lived in that area.  It's a nice, safe spot to walk and jog.

Next on the agenda was lunch at the Poughkeepsie Ice House.  I have a thing for ice houses.  They fascinate me and I love spotting them along the Hudson River.

{For those less nerdy...ice houses are brick structures along rivers that once housed...wait for it...ice.  Blocks of ice were cut out of rivers and stored in these cool, dark, buildings all year long.  In the case of the Hudson River, the ice from Upstate was shipped down to the city.  Once refridgeration made it's way to the masses though, ice houses became a thing of the past and for the most part have fallen into piles of bricks.  Like coal or horse carriages or those spiral corded house phones that we all grew up with on our kitchen wall.}

Because I tend to tell Hamilton all about my things in life, I once rambled on and on to her about ice houses.  And that grew to yet another inside joke.  So when we found an ice house turned restaurant, it didn't really matter what kind of food they were serving.  We.  Were.  Going!

And here's where things fell apart.

We walked in, asked for a table, and were told that they were no longer seating customers as a wedding was happening soon.  But it was chaos and there was no signage and tons of wannabe customers walking in asking for tables.  It was just sort of an odd situation.  That said, there's another restaurant right next door that also had outside seating with fabulous Hudson River views.  So off we went to River Station.

The view, the weather, the company, and the food did not disappoint!  I was sitting in my seat to take the photo above!  Stunning, right?!

The food was great, however should you find yourself at River Station in Poughkeepsie, NY, they are not lying about the length of time it takes to get orders out.  Order more wine and oysters and just embrace the experience!  You're going to be there a while.  It's worth it though for a casual lunch with your favorite people.

Hamilton is the best sport every time I hold up my phone and demand we take an us-ie.  I'm pretty sure she appreciates these cute gems as much as I do!

After lunch we wandered down by the river to check out these whale sculptures.  I'm not sure what or why but gosh we had fun playing on them like five year olds.  Couldn't stop laughing.

I mean...they're ridiculously cute!  I love my Hamilton and Eliza something fierce!  And I love that we all finally took off our purses for a proper photo {where I look terrible because I'm laughing but the other three loves look great}!  Can you believe the leaves and sunshine and water and bridge in this photo?  The entire day was surreal.

Our next adventure was also a bit of a miss.  We had hoped to make the last tour of Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt's home up in Hyde Park, NY.  However, lunch took ages and then my demand for 47 photo shoots added to it and we missed the final tour.  

Hamilton and I kind of predicted this might happen though and were happy to just walk around the property for a while.  What we didn't predict was how perfect it would feel to be the last visitors for the day just wandering around at our own pace.  We basically had the property to ourselves and it was entirely magical!

I've long known it was rumored that Eleanor Roosevelt was something other than straight, however it wasn't until a week ago that I read some excerpts from her letters to her long time love, Lorena Hickok.  It leaves nothing to question really except that I want to know so much more!  

Did Eleanor have partners before Hick or after Hick?  Did she not act on her feelings until after Franklin had his affair?  Did any of their six children know?  And which other men and women in history have similar stories?  

We got none of those questions answered.  And I doubt we would have on the tour either as the property is owned by the National Parks Service.  But we did walk around and imagine what life must have been like to entertain politicians and world leaders and your not very secret, but shh it's a secret girlfriend all in that same space.

I was surprised to find the gardens open to the public.  They were small but perfectly maintained and basically my dream gardening space.  Poughkeepsie is a zone or two warmer than here in Troy and I am curious to know if those artichoke plants over-winter down there.  They do not up here but it was the first thing I thought of upon seeing them still in the garden.  The rows of dahlias were a delight!  I most definitely need to plant some in my own garden next spring.

Let me paint a picture for you.

Hamilton and I are sorority sisters from the University of Georgia.  We reconnected over a year ago, both living in New York and both something other than straight.  And we spent Saturday romping around the country home of the original power lesbian couple while the Georgia Florida football game was being played.  

The entire experience was a full circle moment.  

Val-Kill is actually composed of several buildings.  A main cottage, a smaller cottage, and several other buildings.  It's a very humble estate compared to the FDR mansion and Vanderbilt Mansion, both just a few miles down the road in Hyde Park.  Val-Kill is not at all fussy or grand.  It's beautiful and sweet and looks like it made every visitor feel very much at home.  

We were all charmed by the sleeping porch {below}.  It overlooks one of the gardens and the beautiful pond and I can imagine how lovely it was to sleep out there on warm nights!

As I mentioned, we missed the tour.  But that didn't stop a bunch of nosey nellies from trying to peek in all the windows.  Big hugs to The Neighbor for capturing this photo of Hamilton, Eliza, and me!

I have a real weakness for stone.  I love that those rocks were created over time in rivers, dug up, and carefully jigsaw puzzled together to create this special home.  I am incapable of passing a stone house or stone wall without telling everyone in earshot how much I swoon for them.

And the white shutters!  The white shutters against the dark stone.  The white shutters against the dark stone against the blue sky as the sun sets and we pay homage to Eleanor and Hick...

Four perfectly placed chairs overlooking the pool with the stone fireplace in the background just beckons for us to sit for a quick photo.  And a chat about the lives that were lived around this patio and pool.  Who came for a dip and who stayed for a nightcap?

Of all the things we saw and imagined, this door handle was my absolute favorite part of Val-Kill.  First, because it's beautiful.  I've never seen a handle quite like it and was just really drawn to the shape and patina.  But second, because I imagine it's original.  Eleanor, Hick, FDR, their kids, their friends....and again...Eleanor and Hick...touched this door handle.  They walked in and out of the smaller cottage to the patio through this door and using this likely unnoticed piece of hardware.  It felt like I was getting to share a tangible piece of their history.

This is the Doll House.  I have no idea of it's purpose but it was cute and to me looked like a pale shade of pink and green {everyone else in the group swore it was cream...but I stand by it being pale pink}.  It overlooked the bar-b-que pit, pond, and tennis court.

I can find a moss covered stone to stand on everywhere I go.  This one was the bottom step of the Doll House.

Another sweet moment happened here on the back porch of the main cottage.  Eliza and The Neighbor got separated from us, so Hamilton and I sat down to wait for them.  And that's sort of a nothing story.  But it was an unexpected quiet moment with my best girl just watching a chipmunk and me wondering aloud about Eleanor and Fredrick and their relationship.  And again wondering...did our newly appointed mascots sit on this porch once upon a time too?

Val-Kill is humble but beautiful.  It's such a peaceful place with lots of space to relax and wander.  

There's even a small apple orchard!  So...this property is basically my dream home.  Please forward my mail to Hyde Park, friends!  I'm sure the government who owns the property will be cool with that, right?!

I will definitely make my way back down to Hyde Park and Val-Kill again soon to get the proper tour.  But until then, a quiet little toast to my girl ER and her girl, Hick!  Way to be pioneers for racial and gender equality.  Way to be smart and active and dedicated towards causes that still we're still fighting for today.  

Eleanor was a visionary and ahead of her time.  And you should expect more on her covered here because I have fallen hard down a rabbit hole and am crazy pants fascinated by the life of Eleanor Roosevelt!

The only part of the day we didn't have planned was dinner.  At one point we thought we would get a reservation at the Culinary Institute of America, but weekend reservations need to be made more than three days in advance.  However, without a plan and just a few miles away from the CIA, we thought we'd at least go walk around before the sun completely set.  

The CIA campus is beautiful!  I've driven past it a few times but this was a first time walking the campus for all of us.  One of my favorite sights was this fish sculpture made out of silver cutlery.  It was amazing to see all the spoons and fish knives and forks pieced together so perfectly to sculpt this fish!

Another personal delight was how the landscaping incorporated so many edible plants.  Boxwood hedges surrounded a large bed of lavender.  Planters with grasses and eggplants or sweet potato vines and rainbow Swiss chard.  I wonder if the students get tickled by that too or if they're busy 20-somethings just trying to get through the daily grind of a busy culinary education.

Our quest to get a drink at the CIA was a bust, but the little walk around the the campus and stopping to admire the sunset more than made up for it.

So Hamilton found a bar in Poughkeepsie where we could catch the last quarter of the amazing Georgia Florida game together and grab some dinner.  We got there and parked and as we were walking to the bar though, we passed what was essentially a restaurant mirage in an urban desert.  

We had to walk in.  Even though it meant giving up our only chance to watch what seems to be the greatest game in Georgia Florida history with one of my dearest friends from UGA.  We all just knew this beautiful and unexpected spot was the right choice.  

In a crazy turn of events though, not a single one of us took out our phones to snap a photograph.  But please trust me that if you are ever in the Poughkeepsie area, you must go to Brasserie 292.  The atmosphere, cocktails, and food are outstanding!  It was the perfect way to end our girls day trip in the Hudson Valley.  We left with just enough time to get the city friends to the train station for hugs before they had to catch their lift back home.  

{Shout out to Molly who out actually recommended Brasserie 292!  I didn't realize it at the time because we were walking past it when we stopped to look in the window.  But when I got home, went back to your email and realized it was one of your tips!  Kismet!  It was delicious and so pretty!}

I am so grateful to have Hamilton and Eliza and The Neighbor in my life!  We lived a week of adventures in less than 12 hours.  We had great chats and big belly laughs and took hundreds of photos to remember every last minute.  Nothing went to plan, but our day together was sublime.  My cup runneth over!



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