Thursday, January 21, 2016

Look Up

Hark! Er...Honk! What is that I hear? Thousands and thousands of Snow Geese arriving!

Until I moved to the FLX, I had never heard of Snow Geese let alone saw one or dozens or hundreds or thousands. Now, I see hundreds of them every winter. Usually, I see them in fields on River Road in Waterloo/Seneca Falls on my way to Sauder's.

This year I was treated to a truly amazing site. When I was leaving my store a few weeks ago, I heard tons of honking.....well goose chit chat. I looked up and was amazed at what I saw. There were hundreds and hundreds of geese flying overheard! Who knows how long they had been flying overhead before I went outside. I stood there in the parking lot for at least 4 minutes watching them.....4 minutes! By then thousands of geese flew over me.....and not one dropped anything on me!

I could see them over the city buildings....they were coming from the residential side of the city....looked like they were flying towards Seneca Lake....until they weren't.....seems like the head goose was taking a detour...maybe they wanted some wine? Or had to much wine? There are still grapes out on the vines at a few vineyards for the Finger Lakes Ice Wines.

As geese do, they shifted who's in the lead and changed direction.....closer to where they wanted to go.....another goose took charge and wow did they change course! They were now heading towards the lake. They had to loop around about 135 degrees when originally they needed to turn left like they're at Watkins Glen driving in the NASCAR race.

How do I know they were Snow Geese? Well, most of the time I was watching them, I thought they were Canadian Geese since we have an abundance of them. Seriously, if you ever want a Christmas Goose, go find a pond or lake or body of water around here and during the day you'll get yourself a goose. Fair warning, they're noisy! And they WILL charge! But they are beautiful. **Check out the NYS hunting regulations and the federal laws on protected species before hunting anything!!! And make sure you're not trespassing unless you have documented proof the property owner gave you permission to hunt their land.**

Back to the geese.....Once the goose who knew where they should be flying took charge, they kind of bottle necked so they were flying in tiers. They started coming down lower and lower. I could see them! They were all white with black wing tips! SNOW GEESE! They don't usually arrive until early January....and they were right on time! Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone with me so the photos aren't spectacular, but hey I got some!

They don't stick around long. They are on there way down to the Atlantic Coast...around NYC, Jersey, Maryland, down in that area along the coast.

Cornell has some interesting details about Snow Geese. Shouldn't be surprising with the bird lab they have, right?

This area has a huge massive migration system. The abundance of water and forests probably doesn't hurt! There are many nature preserves. state forests, national forests, protected wetlands, and even a national wildlife refuge - Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Here's a bit of the history of Montezuma from Wiki. Yes, you can go into Montezuma. There's a road and a exhibit building. They even look for volunteers to count different birds and eggs at different times of the year. It's a fascinating place! And on a good day you just might see a Bald Eagle!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Mother Nature sure keeps us on our toes! Winter seems to have arrived in the FLX....well sort of. Cold has come in.....wind is blowing right now....but where's the snow? I know some areas actually have gotten snow that you can measure with a ruler. Not so much where I am in the FLX. I can measure by how much of the driveway I can still see!

Seems like true winter won't ever come. Just when you think it's not coming, the weather reports take a huge turn. Looks like we're supposed to get dumped on this week with Lake Effect Snow....yippie! Snow day anyone? Now before you go and figure out how to spend your day off......well is it really a day off? There's the whole shoveling/snowblowing/unburying the cars dance we all do. Wait and see if Mother Nature really does dump white stuff upon us before getting too excited. I've been let down a few times this winter already.

I can tell when the cold has kicked in. The little dogs cling to any blanket they can find. The two of them become super snugglers. Even at night, they burrow themselves under the comforter, blankets, and flannel sheets on our bed. They sleep on each other without any grumbles. When I'm home, you can find me under a pile of fleece blankets or a handmade afghan from my great grandmother......and you will find at least one little dog with me....the last 2 days you would find both of them stuck to me like someone rubber cemented them to my lap. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Help for Rotisserie Chicken

I know you all buy them. How do I know everybody out there buys rotisserie chicken? Because Wegmans runs out of them by 6 pm many nights!

They're a great dinner....Eat as it is or heat up or save it for another night.....or make other dishes from it! Wegmans has rotisserie chicken noodle soup. I may give it a try sometime. I'm not a huge soup person and I like salt even less. Most soups taste like a salt block from Tractor Supply in the goat section......not that I've ever actually licked one. I'm just guessing.

Back to that rotisserie chicken. What can you do with it besides eat as is?

rotisserie chicken noodle soup
rotisserie chicken rice soup
chicken salad
chicken tacos
chicken pot pie

Here's what I do....came up with this all on my own! BBQ Pulled Chicken. My hubby loooooooooves him some pulled not so much. BBQ chicken however I looooove.

So my secret recipe......

Pull the chicken apart before you refrigerate it. It's easier to pluck while it's still a bit warm. The skin and fat won't be stuck to the meat this way either.

You can refrigerate the pulled chicken and cook it tomorrow or use it right away.

I put the pulled chicken in a good size pot - depends on how much chicken there is. I add an entire jar of bbq sauce. Currently, I'm addicted to the Apple Butter BBQ Sauce from Sauder's in Seneca Falls. Fill that jar with water. Pour the water into the pot. Stir so the sauce isn't in lumps. I cook it on medium. I stir frequently. Let it reduce to the thickness you want.

Apple Butter BBQ Pulled Chicken, Cheesy Breadsticks, and Macaroni & Cheese

Viola! BBQ Pulled Chicken. You can put some on toast or a roll. I love it in a pile on a plate. Often times, I make cole slaw as a side dish along with Martin's Potato Rolls (I buy these at Sauder's as well). When I'm wild and crazy, I make macaroni and cheese from scratch to go along with it. I'll share that recipe another time.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Howdy Folks

Wow, I see I haven't blogged since just before I opened my paper crafting supply shop! Well, I'm back and I'm changing my blog a bit....not only will it include my paper crafting adventures, I'm going to be adding some cooking and travel tidbits.

Yup, I'm back to cooking! I took a cooking hiatus for oh 10, 15 years. Why did I give up cooking? It's a bizarre story. I was in culinary school. I was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America's Baking & Pastry program. It was a 4 year program and I would have graduated with a bachelor's degree in baking and pastry from one of the best culinary programs in the world. Getting in was quite an accomplishment. Think Harvard for cooking. I know several people who I was in culinary school with who were not accepted. I knew one other person who was accepted. And we were in one of the best culinary programs in the country at a community college.

Then it happened. My life kind of fell apart.....all because of some judges who were kind of harsh on our culinary team. I was on a culinary competition team with the American Culinary Federation. The ACF is who you test with to get those fancy titles and letters after your know Executive Chef and all that jazz.

Our team always had problems. Members would skip practice. Yup, we actually practiced cooking! Many people didn't take it seriously. I was uber serious about it. Then again, I started baking when I was 3 years old. Seriously. I would help my mother make bread and cookies at 3 years old. By the time I was 5, I was doing most of the work!

That competition at SUNY Delhi was a complete and utter disaster. We were the only team not to score. We didn't even get an honorable mention. We got certificates for participating. That's it. We were the only team that sucked that bad.

Part of team didn't even come to the hotel with us the night before. Those of us who showed up spent the night before trying to figure out what to do if those people didn't show. Nothing like coming up with a new plan for something you practiced for months.....we were up past 11pm trying to figure out what to do. It was so stressful.

Luckily, the next day the missing people did show up, but the damage was done. We did not work like a team at all that day. We were in a kitchen we had never used before. Using equipment we never used. Talk about a nightmare.

After making our food, the judges taste it. We don't see them. They are in a room somewhere on campus. After they taste our food and score us. They pay us a visit and drill us in front of all the teams. To say it was humiliating would be an understatement. I'm not a crier and I was on the verge of tears right then and there. After they ripped us a new one, they gave out the awards and honorable mentions....oh and the thanks for participating but you suck certificates. I ran out of the room and bawled. I was completely devastated.

After that day, I only cooked at school. I stopped cooking at home. I only cooked for the big holidays when we had friends and family over. If I could find the thing I wanted to serve at the grocery store, I bought it. Fresh. Frozen. I didn't care. I sucked at I felt because of what one man said to me. What did I know? I had only been cooking and baking for 20+ years. I was accepted in the most prestigious culinary program in the nation. But I sucked. My confidence went in the trash along with my chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce.....yup 15 years later I remember my crappy dessert.

I never did go to the Culinary Institute of America which had been a dream of mine for years. My dreams were crushed....shattered all because of one man who didn't know me.....didn't know anything about me....couldn't find one positive thing to say.

I learned something that day. Words hurt. They can destroy a person. Here we are 15 years later and I'm finally starting to cook again. I am actually enjoying myself. I HATE the kitchen in my house. I love my house, but the kitchen was not made for someone who does serious cooking. We will be adding a new kitchen when we do a remodel in the next few years.

What got me back into cooking? One of my friends! She doesn't even know this. When she reads this, it will be the first time she hears what an impact she has made on someone.

My friend started a Facebook group about cooking more. She was trying to encourage her friends to cook at home more. Lots of us (waving hands here and jumping up and down like I'm 3 years old) eat out multiple times a week....some of us ate take out or in restaurants 6-7 nights a week....yeah that was me.

So I joined her Facebook group. I was like well maybe I'll be interested in something someone makes. I kind of ignored it for awhile. Then my husband was like we need to eat home more. He was sick of eating out. I don't think he had any idea how much we really spent eating out. He could probably come up with a rough guess if he really wanted to....I don't think he wanted to know how much money we were practically throwing away. He also didn't want to pressure me to cook.

So I caved and started thinking about things we could make at home. I'm not a big frozen dinner kind of person, but I bought some of those to make the husband happy....some prepared things from the deli at the grocery store.....that made him happy.

Just doing this I could see a difference in our finances.....over just 3 weeks we saved over $600!! Back to Facebook I go....looking through my friends group and the postings she and the others make.......ok so if I make a list, I can go grocery shopping like a regular person and make some food like a regular person instead of the freak I had become.

Now there's a paper pad and a pencil on our fridge. Every day is on the paper pad with a meal on it. And there's a list of meals I want to make in the future!

I'm actually cooking meals from scratch!! I plan our meals now. I've been doing this for a few months. It dawned me a few weeks ago. That I am actually enjoying cooking again!!! My confidence is still in the crapper about what I make, but it's getting better.

I've even made items people mention on that Facebook group. Brace yourself! I even asked about a couple different dishes - loaded baked potato soup, macaroni and cheese, and potatoes au gratin! Not simple things like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I have actually made the macaroni and cheese and the potatoes au gratin. I grabbed the wrong cheddar cheese from our fridge when I made the mac and cheese so it was just ok to me. Hubby LOVED it though. I don't eat's pretty rare that I do...I ate potatoes au gratin for 3 dinners!!! I still have to tackle the potato soup.....and I want to make tacos from scratch......I've also ventured out of my comfort zone and tried a Mexican restaurant this past summer. It's now one of my favorite local restaurants.

So to my dear friend E, thank you! You have helped me in ways you will never know!