Monday, April 20, 2015

Road Trip -- Pennsylvania and Maryland

We hadn't planned on a road trip out East to Maryland but when Rick's Uncle Jim died we knew family was where we had to be. And, where we wanted to be. So we packed up and headed east.

We started with a short ride to Rick's Toledo aunt, Carol, for a delightful overnight and then headed to Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania, a bit east of Uniontown. We had no reservations but found a lovely "lodge" with a room overlooking a pond and with a small patio. Rick got in a short walk and I think I read about six pages of my book before the rain forced me inside.

No, I can't say the weather was divine. The next morning it was pouring. Let me tell you where you do not  want to be -- in a hotel room with Rick in an area that is filled with country roads and big hills -- and with a bicycle in the trunk. Can you spell c-r-a-n-k-y? But once we got out of the hotel and on the road, things lightened up a lot!

Claes Oldenberg's Apple at Kentuck Knob. Note forsythia -- spring is coming!

We weren't far from Fallingwater but the admission price was high. (If he'd been on the bike, I would have gone, but $25 each was a tad much for us on this trip). But we did go to Kentuck Knob, another Frank Lloyd Wright-built house. Well, we didn't go into that house either. But by then the rain had stopped and we enjoyed a nice walk through the sculpture garden.

(There was a reason for this, besides not really wanting to kick in for the admission that day. Many years ago, I was invited to a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home (similar to Kentuck Knob) here in Lansing. We didn't just get a tour of the house -- we saw the insides of closets and drawers, all the details explained by the people who lived there -- and then had ice cream. There's a bit about this story HERE when I wrote about the book "Loving Frank." I really didn't want that experience distilled by a visit to a place similar.)

Nonetheless, the walk was fun and fascinating, until it got a little too muddy to continue!

This is a piece from the Berlin Wall.

I need to do some research to see if the graffiti on one side was done in the East, the West or after!

This is Ray Smith's "Red Army." It was enormous. It was also probably two tenths of a mile away. I love my zoom!

From there we hit Ohiopyle on the Youghiogheny River (aka the Yough). The Cucumber Falls were moving fast on this rainy day (yes, it was raining again) but it was beautiful.

The whole area was gorgeous. And yes, we'll be back!

From then it was on to Frederick, Maryland, new country to me. We kicked off the visit with a crab dinner with Rick's aunt and two of his cousins. Oh, seafood to die for!

The rest of the weekend was family and I found myself both wrapped in warmth and love and frustrated as all get-out that there wasn't time to explore the Civil War-related sites and Washington DC (and their cherry blossoms) -- all within easy driving distance. That, and wishing I could discover the antique and art shops in the charming Frederick downtown. Another visit.

Road trip home -- all one day this time, due to commitments. But we know one thing. We will be back -- and we won't wait too long. Life is too short not to explore more!

And besides, there are a few crabs in Maryland that we haven't sampled yet!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Forsythia Wreath at Southern Exposure

Spring is on the edge at Southern Exposure! In the two or three weeks since the moss basket workshop, it's a little greener, a few more buds on the trees and altogether lovely in anticipation of spring!

My workshop this time was to make a forsythia wreath using silk forsythia and curly willow. More on that in a minute. First a quick walk about and through the garden gate we go!

As usual, the fountains and bird baths were filled with flowers.

The gentle crocus had made the first announcement of spring.

New life was sprouting everywhere, just waiting for that last bit of warmth to brnig it into bloom.

Even the old Chevy was out, looking well spruced up for the new season!

After our walk we returned to the Corn Crib for dinner. As usual, it was lovely.


The tables were set to perfection and when they brought our dessert, we swooned. Lemon and berries and a bit of fluff to die for. Our host, Scott, then told us some of the lore and history of the forsythia. I learned that they were indeed edible -- but a bit on the tart and bitter side. Nice for a garnish, perhaps, but think twice about forsythia salad!


In the vestibule was the sample of our project, the forsythia wreath.

Full and more than satisfied we moved over to the craft tent and started working on our wreaths.


The initial work of winding the forsythia into the wreath form was done before we arrived. Our role was to add curly willow to give it that wild and crazy look. Micah gave us good tips not only on using the willow in our wreath or other arrangements but also in rooting it. I rooted some last year and it has grown into a small but sturdy tree. I hope to do the same with my leftovers.

We were set up on hay bales again -- a good surface for working.

And best of all, the Southern Exposure rescue chickens were being very friendly. I'd never pet a chicken before -- their feathers are like velvet or satin!

All good things come to an end and so did our evening at Southern Exposure.

But when I returned home, I added a bird (and later, a dragonfly and nest) to my wreath -- and I was very happy!


I'm headed back to Southern Exposure soon for a third workshop, "Garden Gate" -- and I'm hoping by then a few more of the blooms are out!

Till then, wait, wonder and anticipate!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New on the Gypsy!

Just a quick head's up, in case you haven't noticed it already!

On my black menu bar underneath my blog banner, I have added a link to Cork Poppers posts. For those new to the Gypsy, Cork Poppers is the wine group I happily attend every couple of months.We taste a variety of wines from all over the world and eat well, too! And the table decorations aren't so bad either!

In the Cork Popper posts you'll find our regular cast of characters (and some really are characters!). We aren't wine experts -- we just want to learn a little more about wine and enjoy tasting and finding new favorites. We taste six or seven wines each session -- usually with a regional theme but occasionally it will be something like "Wines for Thanksgiving" or "Wine for a Summer Night."

I decided to put the page up, partly because I was having trouble finding my own posts and I wanted to refer back to them when heading to the store! I thought maybe it would help others new to the Gypsy or who, like me, just wanted to remember something from long ago

Posts are listed by category (French, German, Italian, etc.) with links to the original post. Each post includes a photo of the wine bottle and the price at the time of the post. Bear in mind that a great 2010 vintage from one winery, for example, might not be as great in 2014! And it may be more expensive as economies fluctuate.

But they can give you an idea of what our wacky group thinks and if you're ever short of wine ideas, it's a spot to start!

Check it out if you enjoy wine! And cheers!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Week

Before we get too far away from the holiday I thought I'd do a quick recap of Easter Week, which was filled with music, eggs, flowers, food and family!


We started with a trip to Detroit to hear the Detroit Symphony -- a wonderful concert of Schumann, Mozart and a couple others I can't remember without looking them up. Being in this magnificent space never ceases to make me smile and admire the beautiful restoration of Max Fisher Hall.


A few days later it was off to Southern Exposure for my forsythia wreath workshop -- more on that in another post!.

The next day, Good Friday, was Macaron Day! A year ago, my friend Kate and I made French macarons shortly before Easter (see this post) so we decided on an encore! It went much smoother this year and lots faster. I piped a few minis in raspberry but the greenish ones with lemon filling were full sized and perfect!

A few hours later, Rick was making pizza and friends Mark and Jan came for our annual egg dying and "Life of Brian" viewing.

This year I took a few notes from Rick's book and dyed some raw ones too. I learned (as I was making deviled eggs on Sunday) that next year I need to put them in two separate and well marked cartons, as I ended up with a couple of raw eggs sitting in a container in the fridge waiting for an omelet!

Easter Saturday means go Horrock's, our wonderful market with great veggies and flowers. They have things I have no idea how to cook -- a "Chopped" episode waiting to happen!

But the flowers were fabulous! I bought a hydrangea with eight blooms that I hope to keep alive till planting time and all sorts of lovelies for the house.

Easter Day started with the perfect breakfast -- French toast from Rick's challah bread.

A bit later, I got to enjoy the fun as my neighbors had the annual garden egg hunt for their grandchildren.

There were a lot of eggs hidden out there, even in the trees!


With all these so brightly placed, I'm surprised Bushy the Squirrel didn't decide to go for the eggs instead of the bird food. He was caught in the act!

Easter dinner brought the tribe home. Kevin and Molly have just made an offer on a house. Greg finally sold his super-sized chalk Faberge eggs and is nearly finished with a new restaurant mural in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham and has a summer job and all is right with the world.

There is a great joy in sitting around the table long after dessert is done discussing grown up subjects with grown up kids. They have opinions -- they always have. But now they know how to talk about those opinions. To make a case. You may or may not agree with it, yet the discussion is lively and fun.


Some weeks just are the way you want them to be.

This was one of them.

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