Friday, January 31, 2014

11th Annual Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival

Almost as if to spite us, Mother Nature has curtailed the sub-freezing temperatures we've had here in Pennsylvania for the last few weeks, just in time for Lewisburg's annual Ice Festival weekend.
Ice ready for sculpture in Hufnagle Park
The award winning First Night Ice Carvers are scheduled to create some major ice sculptures in Hufnagle Park and in front of the Lewisburg Post Office.  As I write this, there is a LOVE creation going on in the Park, and another ice block has been delivered and is ready to be carved into a Bucknell University Bison at the Post Office.  Folks are already strolling the streets, watching the artists, and enjoying the tons of smaller ice sculptures located in front of many of the local businesses along the main street.

Artist at work
This annual Ice Festival has become quite the gala event over the years and draws in thousands of folks from the neighboring areas.  Here are some of this year's pieces:

A high heel in front of "Dwellings" - an eclectic home decor and gift shop
This fella is in front of the Campus Movie Theater.  What is he?
A fish in front of Barnes and Noble / Bucknell University Bookstore - sink or swim Bucknellians?
A flower in front of Mimi's second hand clothing boutique - old things bloom new?
Along with the ice art, there will be all sorts of other activities geared to the young and young at heart.

A singing group, "A Cappella on Ice," will perform at the Campus theater.

Chocolate lovers can purchase tickets to participate in a Chocolate Festival Tour and Ball.

Children can enjoy the Cocoa Fest For Kids, and winter games in the park.

Many of the stores along Market Street will be open for late night shopping, and offering plenty of sales.

Folks can participate in the Frosty 5K Walk/Run, or jump into the water and ice of the Susquehanna River during the Polar Bear Plunge.

I live just two blocks from the mighty Susquehanna, and having looked at the ice on it day after day, I'd require some seriously good money to get me to put on a swimsuit and jump in between those mini icebergs.

This is the site at which those lunatics brave folks will jump in.  This flock of birds were really making a racket, and I heard what they were yelling.  These geese were saying, "Go away!  Don't be silly, it's cold in here!"

"Look, I'm standing on only one leg!  It's that cold in here!"

I suppose we could look at this sudden rise in temperatures from one of two possible perspectives.  If you're a "glass is half full" type of person, these balmy temperatures mean folks can more comfortably and safely walk around outside and enjoy the ice sculptures and events.

However, if you're more of the "glass is half empty" persuasion, you would realize that these above freezing temperatures will quickly melt all those beautiful and expensive icy works of art into unidentifiable blobs sitting in large dirty puddles.

Probably your best bet is simply to just get out there today or tonight, and see what's to see while temperatures are bearable and before the ice melts.

As for me, I'll be keeping my eye on my own pile of ice out back.  Although our waterfalls have run all throughout the frigid winter we've been having, occasionally we have had to add several buckets full of water, just to be sure the pump down under in the bottom pond isn't getting frozen in a block of ice.

One last thing - can you tell I  haven't been to the food store in ages  am ready for the Super Bowl Game?

Enjoy your weekend folks, and stay warm.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Superbowl Celery Snack

If you are like me, you are possibly thinking about Game Day, and whether you are hosting a gathering in your home or watching the Super Bowl elsewhere, you are probably thinking about what food you will be serving or taking.

This tasty simple celery snack recipe requires few ingredients, is easy to put together, and simple to transport.  For some reason, two of the needed ingredients - celery and cream cheese - are things that often hang around in my refrigerator.  Lots of casseroles call for a little diced celery, so then I'm left with the rest of the bunch.  Also, if I buy a dozen bagels, I usually buy cream cheese to spread on them.  Then I'm left with a partial container of that, too.

So these celery snacks are the perfect solution to use up those two foods and waste not, want not.  I hate throwing any food away.

All you need are three ingredients - celery, cream cheese, and paprika.

First trim the ends off the stalks.  Wash your celery stalks thoroughly and blot them dry with paper towels. If your stalks are mostly dry, it will be easier to spread the cream cheese on them.

Cut each stalk into portions, as large or small as you wish, then using a butter knife fill the lengthwise cavities with cream cheese.  Sprinkle them with paprika for a bit of extra color and flavor.

Separate layers with wax paper if needed, and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  It could not be any easier.

My son Caleb has repeatedly told me that celery has no nutritional, taste, textural, visual, spiritual,  aesthetic or redeeming value at all, and, in fact, could be banned from the face of the earth, for all he cares.

I, however, think celery prepared like this is simply delicious and delightful.  And, it used up some leftovers in my fridge.

I'll leave you with this scene from another little chef's kitchen:

Granddaughter Ellie (2), amused herself making "tea" under the sink with dishwasher pods...for almost an hour!

I'd hire her any day to help me with my Superbowl snacks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lounging Around in Mexico

Son Caleb left last Saturday with a group of young adults from our church for a one week trip to the Cancun area of Mexico.  One of the group members is a travel agent, and she always works miracles finding great rates at awesome high class resorts all around the world.  Once again, she put together a trip that was such a great value for the price, that it was impossible to pass it up.

The El Dorado Royale
He is staying at the El Dorado Royale 5-star all inclusive spa resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.  This resort has seven restaurants and 13 pools.  I don't even know what I'd do with 13 pools, but I'd sure figure it out.  It's no secret that I'm feeling a little envious.

While we here in central Pennsylvania are suffering through frigid wind chills and temperatures in the low single digits, he is down there lolligagging around in the gorgeous sun and surf of the beautiful Mexican Caribbean.

The people in his group have pre-planned various activities while there.  Some will be horse back riding, zip-lining, or touring around on all terrain vehicles.  Caleb has opted not to participate in those adventures, because

1- he's on a tight budget, and must pick and choose carefully, and
2- he has had plenty of opportunities to do those activities at home.

Instead, he made plans to travel to and explore some of the Mayan ruins in the area, and to do some scuba diving with his roommate.

Yesterday he posted a short video on Facebook from one of his scuba outings, in which he filmed a 5 to 6 foot Eagle Ray.  When a friend asked him if he had touched it, he answered, "Ha no, didn't try to touch it.  That's sorta how Steve Irwin died."  Good boy, Caleb.

Then just moments ago, he posted a picture of himself at the beach, along with these comments:

"Today's theme of the day is 'blessed.'  If you had asked me one year ago if I would be on a beach at a 5 star in Mexico actually MISSING my job and the people I work with and for, I'd have called you crazy.  Well...here I am."

I'm glad he's enjoying himself, and eager to get back to his work.

However, back here at home, there's a gal that's sorely missing her "daddy."  She will find ways snuggle up with others, but it's just not the same.

Sheila's a little down.
We will certainly all be glad when Caleb is back home, safe and sound.  Please bring some of that warmth and sunshine home with you, too.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Should Probably Take Down My Christmas Tree

I am flabbergasted that it is already the 28th of January.  How did that happen?

That means our Christmas tree has been up for over a month and a half!  And, that also means I should probably start thinking about taking it down.

Some folks have suggested that I should leave it up, and decorate it next for Valentines Day, then Easter, etc.

Nah, I'm not that type of gal.  In my mind, a Christmas tree is for Christmas, period.  (And January, apparently.)

So my self imposed chore for today is to start thinking about maybe possibly working towards taking it down soon.  I believe those boxes stacked around the room are an indication that somebody in this house wants me to start the process, perhaps.

In other news around here, I've been parked in front of the television for hours.  That's really news for me, because I almost never watch any tv at all.

Daft Punk
I watched part of the 2014 Grammy Awards on Sunday evening.  It's not so much that I'm on top of all the current music.  Rather, I just like to see what people wear to these gala events, and how silly they look and act sometimes.  And, I had heard that the two remaining Beatles and Chicago would be performing.

It was great to see Paul Mccartney and Ringo Starr again, doing what they do so well.  However, R & B singer Robin Thicke teamed up with the Chicago rock band to perform the medley "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"/"Beginnings"/"Saturday in the Park"/"Blurred Lines."  In my impression Thicke ruined an oldy but goody.  I just wanted to hear the Chicago sound I remembered so well from my college days, and he kinda fouled it up.

True to my expectations, there were plenty of weird acts, costumes, and behaviors.  Hip hop artists Beyonce and her husband Jay Z opened the show with a racy number, "Drunk in Love."  I wondered if Beyonce was trying to "one up" Miley Cyrus with her twerking and provocative dance moves.  In this case, though, it appeared as if the audience was all for it.

Yoko Ono was there and still wearing a man's hat and dark glasses.  Why is she so weird?

The Daft Punk robots were, um, interesting.

Four couples from "90 Day Fiance"
I stayed with the Grammys until about 10:00, and then I switched over to another program on TLC, "90 Day Fiance."  The show follows four international couples.  In each pair, the male is a U.S. citizen and the female is from another country.  Although they have met and visited each other several times, now a visa allows each woman 90 days in which to marry or return home.

As expected, some of the couples are doing well together.  Others are having difficulty with the culture, inlaws, and children from previous marriages.

I found the show interesting at times.  I still don't get how it is possible to fall in "love" with a person who can barely speak your language.  I suppose there are plenty of definitions of what is love.

Finally, the hubby and I did the watch-a-movie-with-popcorn-and-ice-cream thing.  We rented the movie "The Butler" from our local Redbox DVD, as we had heard many good reviews about it.

The movie follows the life of a butler who served eight of the United States' presidents over a span of thirty years.  It also traces the civil rights movement in our country and how it affected the butler and his family members.

Although we agreed that it was an excellent movie, unfortunately there were times that we had a bit of difficulty hearing some of the dialog.  I did enjoy seeing the various cast members playing the parts of the presidents.

So, the reality is that the amount of time I spent sitting in front of the tv this past weekend will probably hold me for quite a long time.

That is, at least until the Superbowl.

 Oh yeah, or the Academy Awards.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Place Where the Children Aren't an Afterthought

(Note:  All photos in this post are from the KidzWay children's area at our church.)

I have attended church regularly throughout my entire life, because my faith is important to me.  Although I've only been a long-term attender at four churches, based on where I lived at the time, I have had opportunities to visit many, many other churches.

My husband and I were former members of a drama group that performed at many locations in the states and even one international ministry trip to Trinidad.  We received countless invitations to do our program in many churches.  I was always interested to see what facilities and programs were established in each for the children.

I often felt surprised, and then disappointed, to learn that children were relegated to the areas back "in the back," or down in a dark, musty basement, or in some other area that clearly appeared not meant for a children's ministry.

It is my strong opinion that without a thriving children's program, any church will ultimately end up closing its doors.

And here's the thing:  children growing up in today's world are not the same as children who grew up in the 50's and 60's.  Technological advances have made sure of that.  When churches do not take a serious look at what are the needs of families nowadays, and still try to minister in the same ways as what worked 50, 60, or 70 years ago, families will go elsewhere to find a place where their needs will be met.

Ok, I'm down off my soapbox now, and the whole reason I went down that thread was because I finally had an opportunity to explore the children's area at my church yesterday for the first time.  Although we've been attending this church for some time now, the children's program area is at a bit of a walk from the main service hall, and I simply hadn't yet explored it.

But WOW.  I've gotta say I'm blown away now that I've seen it.  My twin granddaughters Tori and Brianna slept over here Saturday night, so we took them along with us to church the next morning.  It was my chance to send them to the children's building and get a look at this place that up until now I've only heard so much about.

This is definitely a place where the families and their children are valued and cared for.  It is obvious that this is not a place where the children are an afterthought.  Ministering to the children, youth, and young adults is obviously of great priority to the leadership of this church.

The KidzWay Children's Ministry occupies the entire second floor of the church's family life center.  The area is created to look like an entire town.  The Safari Park handles babies 9-18 months, and the Circus accommodates toddlers 19-30 months old.  In the Fire Station are children 31 months to age 3, and the Airport ministers to four year olds.  The Town Park/Square is an area for the K5 through 2nd graders, and KidsWay City is the place for 3rd to 5th graders.

As you can see by the photos, all hallways, walkways and ramps are painted with murals to match whatever buildings they are simulating.

When the girls came up the steps and first got a look at the area, they were truly speechless.  I myself just felt overwhelmed with a sense gratefulness to those people that planned this and made this special place a reality.  I so appreciate those folks that have the heart for the children and are willing to make the investment of time and resources to take care of them.

Afterwards the girls had diarrhea of the mouths as they fought to tell me how great it all had been.

They definitely want to go back.  In fact, they begged me to take them back.

And really, isn't that the way kids should feel about going to church?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Traipsin' - Day Two

Yesterday I chronicled my adventures of traipsin' all over tarnation for the past week and a half.  After a week at daughter Lindsay's home, and a whirlwind overnighter at our little cabin in the mountains, I wrapped up the adventures with one last day of shopping and dance.

No I wasn't dancing because the shopping was over. I'll get to the dance part later.  First, we needed to get ourselves down off the mountain and back into civilization, before any shopping/dancing could happen.

On our way out, and not far from our little cabin, we spotted these four deer.  Their coats and bodies looked to be in good health, so apparently the frigid temperatures this winter aren't harming them.

Because the air was so cold (2 degrees), the snow looked as though there were tiny diamonds scattered across its surface.

Seeing those deer in that twinkly snowy area was like passing through our own winter wonderland.  Just so quiet and beautiful.

And then, it was back onto the main road and a very treacherous drive down the mountain.   Navigating the steep sections of the road, covered with repeated layers of ice and packed snow, was an inch by inch crawl.

Thankfully we arrived home safely, where we took a brief break to order three Ravensburger 1000 piece puzzles from the online puzzle store before heading to our next destination.  Random.  I know.

Next we spent the majority of the afternoon shopping to outfit a new kitchen.  Our new building project is getting close to the point where we will be needing everything ready to make it move-in-able.

I had made an inventory list of all the items in the kitchen of our old little cabin, and after listing each cooking utensil, pan, dish, casserole bowl, sieve, mixer, etc., my list ended up being four pages long.

Three overflowing shopping carts later, we had purchased most of the items on the list.  It's no small deal to set up housekeeping from scratch, for a kitchen that will be used to feed large family groups at times.  Also, it has been such a long time since I set up my own kitchen, that I don't realize how much stuff really is in all those drawers and cabinets.

Here is just a small portion of our stuff, added to the "New Lodge Holding Pile."  It's taking over my office, little by little.

The day wasn't over yet, as there was just one more adventure awaiting me in the evening.  Missing my hubby, as I had been away from him over a week while I was traipsin,' I was glad he had planned a special date night for us.

We headed out to Bucknell University's Weis Center to see a performance by Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal.

Let me just say this - he must really love me.  This type of show, well, let's be honest, any type of dance show, jazz or other, is definitely not his cup of tea.  The fact that he suggested this one, and followed through and actually took me, really says something.

I will even forgive the fact that he slept through the majority of the first half of the show.  At least he wasn't snoring or drooling, so I let him go.  He redeemed himself by watching almost the entire second act.

Neither of us really "gets" the whole jazz/modern dance stuff, but it was something new and a little different for us.  We're more the "watch a movie while eating popcorn" type, so this date really stretched our typical entertainment boundaries.  We even agreed that we sorta kinda maybe liked it.  At least parts of it.

Upon arriving home, I fell into bed, exhausted.  A lot had been packed into the last nine days for me.  I was looking forward to a good night of sleep, and a few hours to rest before our grandtwins arrived for a Saturday night sleepover.

Not really much rest for the weary.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Traipsin' All Over Tarnation

I've been noticeably absent from the blogosphere for several days, because I've been traipsin' all over tarnation.  Not that I'm griping.  I'd much rather stay busy and productive rather than sitting around waiting to die.

I got my Ellie fix.
After a week at daughter Lindsay's home, planning a baby shower, I drove the two hour trip home late in the day on Wednesday.  My plan had been to come home on Monday or Tuesday, but an 8-10 inch snowstorm put the kibutzes to that.  Better to be safe than sorry, and anyway, that makes more time to spend with granddaughter Ellie.

I no sooner got home, than I unpacked my bag, threw some wash into the washer, and began repacking my bag for another little trip.

Thursday morning I headed up into the mountains with my parents to our little cabin in the woods, and the location of a building project we are having done.  It was a beautiful drive through the Pine Creek valley as we headed north.  Pine Creek has a lot of ice at some locations from the deep freeze we've been having for the last several weeks.

In addition to the ice on the creek, there were quite a few icicles along the side of the road.  It was certainly cold enough that they weren't melting a bit.

The point of this little trip was to meet up with our carpet installer, guide him into our property, and allow him the chance to take measurements of the rooms that will be needing carpet.

A treacherous snowy and icy road was par for the course, the higher up into the mountain we got.

Finally we arrived safely, and after about twenty minutes, the installer had the measurements he needed, and then headed back down the mountain.  We took a good look-see around the project site, and then headed farther back in to spend the night in our little cabin.

I must say that I think the woods are so beautiful in the winter.  There is always something to discover and enjoy.  Everywhere I looked there were animal tracks in the snow, some fresher than others.

We passed by this serene little pond on our way.

After arriving at the cabin and unloading our gear and food, we set about to try and warm up the place. Although we keep the heater on low at all times, providing just enough heat to keep the kitchen and bathroom pipes from freezing, when we opened the doors to the other living areas, those rooms were not much warmer than the outside air.

Even after turning up the heater and building a roaring fire in the fireplace, it took quite a while to warm up the entire living space.  Finally we felt comfortable and enjoyed a few hours together having some delicious chili and reading books in front of the fire until bedtime.

But, my traipsin' wasn't done yet.

The next morning, after checking the outside thermometer (2 degrees at 8:00 AM), we loaded up and headed back down into civilization.  There was some shopping that we needed to do, relative to the kitchen in the new structure.

About one inch of snow had fallen overnight, and because of the low temperatures, it gave off that glittery, sparkly look.  Although my cheap camera doesn't do it justice, perhaps you can see the sparkles on the snow in these photos.  It was truly a winter wonderland.

'Twas a slippery, nail biter of a drive back down the mountain, to be sure.

As this post is plenty long enough, tomorrow I'll post day two of our traipsing about.  

Stay tuned.  This gal gets around.