Monday, August 29, 2011

Hoffman Family Vacation 2011!

The "Caviest Cave in the USA"
 We had a week of glorious gallivanting-- crossing the borders of 5 different states.  We started with a trip out to see my brother Cameron's troupe, Barely Balanced perform at the Bristol Ren Faire in Wisconsin. We stayed in a suburb of Chicago, and unfortunately, my brother in Chi-town, Ian, was out on tour with his band, Voice of Addiction. We must get back out there to visit him, which seems doable as the boys did pretty well on the ride. We stopped at Seneca Caverns, "the caviest cave in the USA", or as we like to call it, Hell. The caverns were great, don't get me wrong, the staff was wonderful, and the slogan is the best ever, BUT... I had on a dress and flip flops and a big old purse and it was treacherous, and I was responsible for Vladdie and apparently for cutting off any circulation to his hands as I held onto him for dear life.
Here's the pics of that leg of our travels:

Cameron, on stilts
Nothing says "Ren Faire" like food on a stick and giant pickles. So a giant pickle on a stick should merit at least one "Huzzah!"  

Next up was camping out at Mohican.  We stayed at our traditional campground, Camp Toodik. We first stopped at a great Amish restaurant, Des Dutch Essenhaus where even the vegetarians left full and happy.  The boys loved the toy train that runs through it and Wolfie enjoys interviewing any Amish people that he meets and especially enjoys informing them over and over that they are Amish. After refueling at the restaurant, we worked a wee bit of it off on the boys first long hike-- 4 miles of hilly terrain in Mohican State Park-- with almost no complaints from the boys. Jas and Nate on the other hand... just kidding! We camped out, the only campers that night...maybe because the gorgeous weather of the day turned into a 5 hour torrential thunderstorm that flooded most of the campsites and all of our tents. Somehow, after it stopped, clad in a garbage bag, I managed to get the fire started and bake blueberry pies with my toast-tite.  So what I mean to say is, I had completely lost my mind. The day turned into gorgeous 70 degree weather with a light breeze and we took the boys on a 10 mile canoe trip where we had the whole lake fork branch of the river to ourselves and a heron that we seemed to be following. Alas, the weather was set to have more thunderstorms plus hail and damaging winds, so we packed up and headed home.
Here's the Mohican pics:

We survived our hike!

I am a twisted firestarter. In a trash bag.

Next up, a day trip to Pennsylvania's Pymatuning State Park.  We visited the Pymatuning Deer Park for a picnic where we ate like animals (yeah, we stopped by an Amish girl selling little pies and cinnamon rolls on the side of the road. We bought one of each flavor of pie. We ate it all. and yes, Wolfie interrogated her and her Amishness) and then fed the park's animals. Then we stopped by the Linesville Spillway, "Where the ducks walk on the fish" where Wolf fell in love with "squishy mouthed fish" and longed to hug a carp.  Photographic evidence of our journey:

My heroes

A flurry of Carp

     We were able to celebrate my littlest baby, Vladdie turning 4 during a short break at home.  He requested a "Rainbow tornado snake cake".  We obliged.

Vlad and his cake
Vlad's  annual Birthday sign

Lastly, we decided to head back after I got off work on Saturday and revisit the spillway, at the Hoffbros' request. Then we finished off with a trip to Conneaut Lake Park. Mind you, this park had fallen on very hard times. It is not the park of my youth, but there are still so many things to recommend if you like nostalgia. 

A little glimpse into what is left of Conneaut lake and even some of the old houses there in the park:
Devil's Den

The Hotel Conneaut

Many of my favorites from yesteryear were still plugging away, like Devil's Den (with the infamous wall of chewed gum), the jolly caterpillar, the bumper cars, the tumble bugs and the old hotel. After dark, we sat on the  boardwalk and enjoyed fireworks.  It was chilly and everything had that summer fading into autumn quality.  It sort of felt like you knew everyone there and were bidding them goodbye, and for me, all the memories of having been there with my Dad. A good way to end an end-of-summer vacation.
Matt swoops me up in a whip, ala Indiana Jones, and plants one on me, right in front of the whole world. Swoon.


Some recent Wolfieisms:
   --"Timing is everything."  This was his comment during our dash to get to the aquarium building at the zoo before the rain hit.

--"This is my third finest hour."  This was his comment when we got  to the aquarium before the rain hit and he was finely viewing his beloved stingray, Dot.

--Wolfie was speaking to a woman at the park. As he bid her adieu, he reached up and tipped an invisible hat to her!!! Swoon!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Something Old, Something New...

 My daughter just got married this Summer in a beautiful, eco-frugal, vintage, DIY wedding. Whew. The wedding day was so much fun, but so was all the preparation.  One of the questions we had to answer was how do you come up with a bouquet that doesn't involve fresh or silk flowers, that can be made ahead of time and has personal meaning?  Our answer was to fashion fabric flowers from clothing that belonged to some of the Bride's Grandmothers.
  We took silk scarves, a fancy nightie, old brooches, feathers  and the jewlery that the Bride wore to prom with the Groom, and turned it into  a vintage chic bouquet.
Some of the flowers were made from a Grandmother's "fancy" nightie that was also worn in the Father of the Bride's "first" wedding!
The bouquet ended up being a really fun project that brought a lot of memories with it.  We learned a lot about making a bouquet.  One of the best tips I learned was to create individual picks for the jewelry and flower combos and then it was a lot easier to arrange the larger bouquet. We also learned that tea staining and coffee staining are cool eco- friendly tips to help blend newer materials with antiques.  Also, you can blow-dry feathers, and they stink when you do so, but not once they dry, thank goodness!

a sad little feather after a brief coffee soak, tea just didn't do it.

Post fluffing with a blow dryer
Much better and stink-free!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Things I am loving right now...

Flax seeds  Just like that sweet little Granny in the hot sauce commercials-- I put that $^!# on everything!  In my yogurt, oatmeal, bread dough, baked goods, everywhere.  Matt got me a little coffee grinder so I can grind them up and I am a happy flax-grindin' fool.

Cocoa butter I just use this like a big old lip smacker lip gloss.  Only 100 % cocoa butter and it is somewhere around $2.  Awesome.

Skin Deep Database I love that I can easily research the risks associated with cosmetics and toiletries and make a decision whether or not I want to take those risks. Known carcinogens are in so many products it is sickening (literally) and overwhelming. I challenge you to look up a few of the products you buy for your family. If the risk is too great, you can easily find products listed that are safer.

Cleveland Metro parks We use them so much! Whether it is one of the many excellent nature centers, the zoo or just some cool little spot, you will find us there a couple of days a week.  We started going back to one of my favorite childhood haunts, Tinker's creek/ Hemlock creek.

Edgewater, a beach on Lake Erie

At one of the Nature Centers during Super Pollinator Weekend

That's me, kickin' it after a rainstorm in Hemlock creek

Bananagrams We have been playing this game like crazy!  A fun, portable game that is good even with only 2 players. I looooooove word games!

Pick-ur-own So far this summer we have hit local farms for cherries, blackberries, and peaches.  Soon will be raspberries and apples. Last night we had peaches and "cream" (skim milk, stevia and a squirt of light whipped cream,but one of my fave treats anyway!) Tonight was the mother of all calories, peach cobbler with ice cream. Amazeballs.

Actin' a fool  I had a date night the other day which included a margarita. one. Which left us "tipsy" enough (Yes, we have become panty-waists) that we didn't want to drive.  So we tormented a nearby drugstore, taking pics of things that titillated us.  Somehow we did not get kicked out.

Attention: No animals were injured, or even mildly humiliated during filming of this date night. O.k., Maybe just a little.
Grown-upVisitors Yeah, visitors that drink coffee without a straw. That are old enough to drive. It is so nice to get company that can talk to you without needing to be put in time-out for slapping or standing on the table.  It was extra nice to receive such a visitor today AND they came bearing soup, which made for an excellent dinner.  Thanks Mama Jo!

What are you loving right now?