Friday, September 23, 2011

Falling for.........

A few (short) months back, I wrote a post extolling the virtues of summer, my favorite time of year. Sadly, it's over and we have moved onto fall. Normally this is the time of year when I begin my rant regarding the weather and my sadness over summer disappearing. However, this is a new year, one in which I am focused more on things to be thankful for, and less on things to complain about. I need to find good things in the everyday, rather than living for one season.  So in honor of today, the official 1st, full day of fall, I'd like to point out some of the things I'm looking forward to with the change of season.

Fuzzy Sweaters and cozy boots

Amazing colors of the leave changing

Annual tradition of carving pumpkins with Hubby

Homemade applesauce, apple pies, apple anything.....

Adorable knee high socks

Big pots of soup, chili and stew

Mulled wine (YUM!)

Pumpkin, Apple and Wine, outing with our friends at Brown's Berry Patch, Becker Farms and Marjim Manor

Nights spent in front of the fireplace

See, there's a lot that I like about this's just that......well......I know what comes after......

So, what are you looking forward to???

~ Adrienne


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial!!

      This weeks Testimonial, rather than being about a product, will be about a place.  It gives me the chance to talk about our recent wine trip and to brag about the wonderful area of the country that we get to live in. Now, I know there are people out there who loooove to make fun of our area of NY. They tease us about the high taxes, our football team (although did you catch Sunday's highlights??), but more than anything I hear about our weather. The snow, the cold, the "oh my, how can you live there." Well NY also has some of the prettiest scenery anywhere in the country and especially this time of the year.

      Hubby and I spent our anniversary weekend touring the winery area known as The Finger lakes. For those of you not familiar with this area, the Finger Lakes is a series of lakes, created about two million years ago by glacial flows. They're located located between Syracuse and Buffalo and feature over 200 wineries among them. For our trip, Hubby and I focused mainly on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail which is celebrating it's 25th anniversary. The Seneca group has 34 wineries but there are many more than that. The ones we chose were based on a previous visit from 2006 with some new ones thrown in. Most charge anywhere from $1-$3 for about 6 tastings. Some of the wineries gave you the money back if you purchased a bottle of wine and in some cases, you got to keep your wine glass!

I invite you to sit back and enjoy the view.................

A wedding was going to take place that day.....lucky couple!   

Check out our yummy lunch in their cafe and hubby with his new friend.....

Federweisser, their German Fest was going on that, food and fun!

Where to Next??

Prejean Winery
Very knowledgeable staff and they have a great Riesling!

You can boat right up to their beautiful new dock - what a view!
I couldn't resist taking a picture of their resident mascot.....and for those who may not like wine (what??), they even have a couple of beers to try. Hubby particularly liked their version of a black and tan called "Arf, Arf." :) And you get to keep your wine glass!

Villa Bellangelo
Extremely, friendly staff and look at that view!

Our hosts for the evening.....
A glass of champagne on check in, tasting coupons, a bottle of wine, private balcony, and an amazing view.
We also enjoyed a fabulous dinner and breakfast in their restaurant, but sadly I forgot my camera at dinner so you only get to see breakfast. Oops!
Check out the sunrise the next morning......
The bottle "tree" is in their lobby.....Mmmm how many bottles would I need to drink by Christmas?

The Next Day.................

One of our new favorites off the beaten path...their wines feature fun names like Highfalutin Red and Bodacious Blend.....I couldn't resist having my picture taken.

They also had 2 doggy mascots but neither one would sit still long enough to have their picture taken. 
But I did find this sign with my new favorite motto for life! :)

Another really fun, new one for us - their tasting bar is made out of Seneca Lake glass....beautiful!
Plus you also got to keep your tasting glass!

They were serving the most delicious mulled red wine....could have sat all day in one of their chairs...

Who doesn't love a little Red Newt?

Hubby loooved their Reds - fully stocked now.

All my cat lovers check them out! Home of Red Cat and Hubby's personal favorite the Jackalope (you don't want to know). Loved their dessert wine Bramble Berry....Unfortunately it was crazy there that day as they were having their annual Case Party, as in people who are members of their Case Club (yes they buy it by the case) are given an annual party in their honor. So we completely forgot to take a picture! Therefore you'll have to settle for a picture of my cat.....closest thing I could find to a Red Cat.

Wagner Vineyards
Hubby wanted to try out their beer tasting (loved it so much we came home with a couple of 6 packs.)
Here's what was on tap and a view from their porch.
Last but not least on our tour - we had a wonderful lunch on their terrace overlooking their spacious vineyards. Ironically they were setting up for a wedding that night as well.....what a backdrop they were going to have.

So, that's it! An amazing weekend of fabulous food, weather and wine. If you've never been to the Finger Lakes (or any area of NY), I highly recommend it!

~ Adrienne

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Road Less Traveled..........

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by,
~ Robert Frost

Eight years ago, I chose to take a road that some considered the wrong one. I gave up a good job, with the promise of advancement and left the city I lived in, because in my heart something was missing.

Instead, I took a lesser paying job, with no place to live, back in my adopted hometown. This was where I had gone to college and made some amazing friends and memories. My friend and her husband took pity on me and took me into their home until I could get on my feet and find a place of my own.

So, while living with them and struggling to make it in the new job, I took another new path. I said yes when my friend wanted to set me up on a blind date. Before I moved, I would pray to meet someone, because maybe that would make me happier with my job and where I was living. But with each one that I met, I felt worse instead of better. In my heart I knew they were not who I was looking for. So why at a time in my life when everything couldn't be any more hectic, did I say yes to this? When I was so unprepared to take on one more new thing, what made me say, "this sounds like a good idea." Maybe because when my friend said, "I think I've found someone for you," something felt right. Okay, it took a little more pushing on her part, but the point is, I said yes.

So I took the path to that blind date, with all the other things in my life that were up in the air, not to mention a horrible cold; but intuition knows better sometimes. And as we talked and talked, I thought to myself, "Oh yes, I know you. You're the one I've been asking for. I just had no idea where to find you." But in a way I had known. I had just needed to recognize what my intuition had been trying to tell me, when it was pushing me toward home. My prayers had been answered all along, but it just wasn't the answer I had wanted to hear, at the time. Unanswered prayers are sometimes exactly what we need.

One year and one month after that first date, I took a walk down another unexpected path. It was risky, scary, thrilling and the best path I have ever chosen. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.......

       Happy Anniversary Hubby......... :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I remember......

I apologize in advance for the length of this blog, but this is not an ordinary that was not an ordinary day........

It just didn't seem right. The color of the sky should have been ominous and gray, not blue and certainly not without a single cloud. It's the thing I remember most about that was a shade of blue I hadn't previously seen and don't think I will again. It was so clear, nothing to detract from that blue and the beauty of the morning. The tragedy of it is, that I will never again view a blue sky without thinking of that morning.

I was living in Albany NY on that day, working as an office manager for my Aunt's business in a women's health clinic. We shared the space with a few other medical services and we were a close knit group. Patty and Tina greeted me with our usual morning catch up before heading in with their first client's, as the day ahead was scheduled to be a busy one. Cathy, the medical tech from the office next to us, shared with me her excitement of the day. Her middle school daughter, was on a school sponsored trip. She'd won an essay contest that allowed her to go with a group to NYC, where they were working/staying on a tall ship in the NY harbor. They had no way to communicate other than email, but she had received a message from one of the chaperones that morning, and her daughter was having a great time.

A short time later Patty came out with her first client and they were discussing something about a plane crash. "The Today show is reporting a small plane crashed into the World Trade Center," I believe is what she said. I remember thinking that it was odd on such a clear day for something like that to happen. The phone rang a few minutes later, as Patty's next client was calling to apologize for being late. "I'm sorry she said, I got so caught up in watching this plane crash story." I asked her what was going on and she was updating me when she let out a scream. "Oh my God! Oh my God. Another plane just hit!" I remember going ice cold at her words. I do not remember anything else from that conversation.

Chaos ensued in a matter of minutes within our little world. Patty's husband, who was a volunteer fireman called to say he and the entire department were heading to the city to try and help. My Uncle who worked with the Red Cross would also leave with a team to help out. Cathy dissolved into hysteria. The email she had received from the chaperones that morning had a picture attached to it. The picture was of the class, on the deck of the ship, smiling away......with the World Trade Center as their backdrop. Her husband arrived shortly after to drive her to the school so they could hopefully be given more information. We gathered in front of the 2 small televisions that we had in the office, watching all of it unfold in complete horror. Random moments that I remember from that day....friends and family calling each other to check in. Even though you knew they were nowhere near any of the sites, you still needed to be sure they were OK. Even between our office and our other locations, we kept calling to check in. The one patient who sat in our waiting room in the midst of all the chaos of that first hour, and read a People magazine, calmly flipping through the pages while Cathy broke down. When Patty came to take her for her treatment, she asked Patty how her day was going, like she was oblivious to anything going on. The calls on all the radio stations for blood drives that were springing up all over the city. There was such a hope at that time that there would be survivors who would need the blood and the slow realization after that none were coming.

The moment of the day when it all became almost too much to bear, was watching the towers fall. Patty, Tina and I stood in a treatment room, huddled around that tiny black and white TV and watched the absolute, unthinkable happen. Towers that enormous and that strong do not fall, they just do not....It just could not be possible and yet it could not have been more real. The remainder of the day is a blur, bad news compounded by more bad news, until a numbness of sorts took over. At the end of the day I sat in my apartment, unable to tear myself away from the TV. I had a futon in my living room that I made into my bed that night. For the next month I slept there, falling asleep every night, some times very late, to the sounds of the news coverage. I couldn't sleep and I couldn't turn the TV off. I was terrified that something else would happen while I was sleeping. I attended a memorial service at my church the night after the attacks, looking for some comfort and not wanting to be alone. We were handed votive candles as we entered the darkened church, and at the end of the mass we one by one placed them on the altar. I took solace in the light the candles radiated and the number of people there with me. It was small, but it was a start.

In the days that followed our conversations were animated, to the point of manic. We all had stories to share, things to say. One of the women in our office told of leaving her house before dawn on the 11th to take her son to an early morning practice. She recalled seeing an airliner flying very low over the area and finding it extremely strange. It was later learned that one of the airplanes had diverted from it's flight path, circling over Albany for a time. The airport had received numerous calls regarding the low flying plane. Another medical tech in the building was off on the 11th and had been out running errands with her infant daughter all morning. As most young mothers do, she had kept her entertained with a children's CD in the car, so had no knowledge of what was happening. The road that led to her home took her by an atomic energy lab where she was met at the street's entrance by a National Guardsman. She was asked for ID, where did she work, where was she coming from and where was she going. When she asked the man what was going on, he looked at her sadly and said "Maam you should go straight home, lock your doors and stay there." The terror that he must have felt in not knowing what was really going on and what other areas may be a target. A client told us an amazing story of not one but four people she knew who had been spared on that day. Her father, along with some other colleagues had been scheduled to attend a meeting in tower 1 that morning. As they made their way to the building someone wanted to stop for coffee, which made them run late. Had they gone directly to the building they would have been in a conference room on the floor where the plane hit. A good friend of hers was a flight attendant who worked for American Airlines out of Boston. She was scheduled to work one of the flights that morning, but had to call in sick when she woke with a stomach flu. And two good friends who worked in separate areas of the WTC ran into each other coming off the subway that morning. They talked of the uncommonly beautiful day and decided on the spur of the moment to play hooky and call into work. They would not have lived had they not done so. I try to keep these stories in mind on the days when something disrupts my schedule or I get stuck in construction the morning I run late for work. There is always a greater power at hand.......

In the following weeks our lives revolved around TV and the news coverage, especially of Ground Zero. Someone brought in a bigger TV and we moved it into one of the exercise rooms. We'd gather around it at lunch time, focused in on the rescue efforts. We cheered every time there was a rescue, became silent when they spoke of a recovery and held our breaths when warnings came of another building possibly collapsing. I remember watching as word came in the middle of a broadcast that everyone needed to be cleared of the area as another collapse was possible. We watched the rescuers and volunteers running with a sense of helplessness. After that moment the TV never went off and in fact was moved into the reception area. I remember vividly, a well intentioned patient telling us one day, that we needed to turn the TV off and get back to the real world, reality. I told her as politely as possible that this was the real world and our new reality. We had family members who were down there helping and until they were home safe and sound, the TV would not be going off.

I've read things this week saying we shouldn't watch TV on the 11th and should try to forget it and focus on something more positive. While I understand the thought behind it (somewhat), I respectfully disagree, just as I did with that patient 10 years ago.  I think more than ever we need to remember everything that happened on that day. Even more importantly the things that happened in the days that followed. How we all began to treat each other with a little more kindness, talked to our families and friends more, took a renewed sense of pride in what it means to be an American. We heard amazing love stories from people who lost their spouses. We heard of children left without parent's who they adored. I'll never forget the interview Matt Lauer did with a little boy who lost his father, a firefighter. Kevin was 10 years old and in the midst of the interview, he broke down, taking Matt right with him. I remember watching that interview and sobbing for the pain that child was going through. They replayed the interview this week and it seemed as though time had stood still and I was sobbing all over again. For a little while the priorities of the world had changed. Firefighters, policeman, military personnel, and a group of ordinary citizens from Flight 93, were treated as heroes. They were revered in the way that celebrities and athletes are. In fact rock stars lined up to be part of a tribute concert to them. We learned to not take one second of our lives for granted and to be thankful for what we have. I think that is a lesson worth being reminded of......

Thank you for letting me share my memories......I'd be honored to hear your memories and thoughts of that day.

                                                                        ~ Adrienne



Monday, September 5, 2011

Tuesday Testimonials......

A Tale of Two Mascaras.....

Among the other obsessions that I've previously noted, and am currently seeking treatment for, makeup ranks close to the top of the list. However, I won't buy something unless it's on sale or have a coupon. Typically I won't buy a high priced makeup product, unless it's something that I have heard rave reviews about and will last a long time.

I also tend to go through periods of boredom, where I want to try something new and when there's a good price involved, I'm more willing to take a chance. Recently I did that with mascara. My typical choice for mascara has always been the old stand by of  Maybelline Great Lash. It's been around forever and it makes the list of favorite beauty products every year and for good reason. 
But every now and then, I wonder if there isn't something else out there that I'd like even better. So, when Avon had a big sale recently I decided to check out their mascara collections. They had a deal where you were able to mix and match 2 of their speciality mascaras for $6.99. If you've purchased mascara lately then you know that's a pretty good deal. Most mascara now starts at that price for just one. 

My 2 choices were SuperCurlacious (just the name is fun!) and Super Shock (hoping as the title implies, that my lashes would be shocked into looking more full.). I've always thought the length of my lashes was okay but their fullness leaves something to be desired.

I tested SuperCurlacious first and my hope was that I would no longer need my eyelash torture curler, as the product claim is that it will make your lashes 200% curlier for 12 hours. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised how much they did curl without the torturer, er...curler. But sadly, while they did curl my lashes, it did nothing for the extreme sparseness of them. In fact I could barely tell that I had mascara on. It almost seemed as though the mascara dried too quickly, preventing the buildup you would get from a couple of coats. I purchased both mascaras in brown and am also wondering if the color was too light. Overall, I think the mascara did what it promised in terms of the curl affect, but I think I will save this for the low key days, when I'm going for the "I'm not wearing any makeup" look.

SuperShock promises 12x the volume, which is what I was really hoping for. Now this product I think truly lives up to it's promise as it took barely 2 coats to make them look much fuller than normal. The brush on this mascara is HUGE though, which will take some getting used to. The other problem is that with a brush this big, it holds A LOT of mascara on it. So you need to spend A LOT of time trying to wipe the excess off before applying it, otherwise you'll end up with clumps (check out my 2nd picture below). Normally I don't wear mascara or just a very tiny amount on the bottom lashes, but as I am testing a product I wanted to give it a full review, so excuse the messy look! I think the first picture better shows the effectiveness of the product.

So, one slight thumbs down and one thumbs up...not bad. I think I'll use the Supershock for the times I really want my lashes to stand out and stick with my Maybelline Great Lash for my day to day look. 
So, what about you? Are there any makeup products that you can't live without? Something new you tried and loved? Share, Share, Share!!!

~ Adrienne

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Little Things......

TGIF......I don't know about you, but this has been a long week. One of those that makes you say "What a week, thank God it's Friday......I've talked about being grateful and the idea of a gratitude journal in another blog post, but I thought for today I would share the items that would make my grateful list. Sometimes it's the little things.....
In spite of the havoc wreaked by Irene, I'm thankful to report that all of my friends and family who were affected came through it safe. Trees down, power our, some shingles blown loose, but all repairable. Things can be replaced. People can not.

My husband going for a walk with me. When Hubby and I were first dating we loved to go for long walks late at night. Something about the quiet and the dark that made us feel comfortable to open up and be completely honest with each other. We learned so much about each other during those walks. To this day, if something big is going on in our life, there is nothing like a walk to get us talking. By the end of the walk we may not have things completely figured out, but we both feel better.


Great neighbors - We have a group of neighbors who are very close and very supportive of each other. (I must point out that one couple doesn't officially live in the neighborhood but they are adopted neighbors, based on the amount of time we see them.) They all take turns doing things like mowing each others lawn, snow blowing sidewalks, taking in garbage cans, and mail. They feed our cats, give us veggies from their gardens, let us use their pool and have impromptu dinners. This week one of the neighbors is in the hospital fighting a bad case of pneumonia and will probably be there until next week. During tonight's impromptu dinner, I offered to cook something for the husband so he wouldn't have to worry about meals. This led to all of us discussing meals that would be brought over when his wife returns home so that neither one of them will need to worry about food. After dinner, the men all made their way to our house to help Hubby apply sealant to our newly cemented driveway. Many hands make light work is the saying.....I'm thankful for the many hands and for the caring of all of them. Thank you - Samir and Candi, Debbie and Burt, Bill and Denise. Come home soon Debbie!   


And as usual the 2 who always make my list of things I'm thankful for......
What are you thankful for today?

~ Adrienne