Well, the robins are back. That’s a sure sign of Spring.

I’m experiencing my first Spring in Western New York.

Some of the first blooms to show up around our new house.

Some of the first blooms to show up around our new house.

More than being a lovely season, it’s been an honest time of “firsts” for me.  One such realization came not too long ago… Continue reading

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Running Around Western New York

Three weeks into marathon training and the Fall Distance Group through Fleet Feet Buffalo – and all is well.

Due to the inevitable navigational errors that seem to have become a weekly staple, this past Saturday was an 11.11 mile jaunt through residential downtown Buffalo.  Despite the extra distance, I felt mostly strong throughout – and finished with a flourish.  I’m forever grateful to the new pals I’ve made at the group who dutifully pace and push me, helping me get faster and stronger every week.  Running with people is one of the best choices I’ve made in a good, long while!  Not only is it more fun, it’s clearly beneficial.

Yesterday, late afternoon, Duggs and I had an errand to run in town.  And then I literally ran home, made the house a water stop and grabbed the dogs, and finished my five mile active recovery jog out in the grapes.  After using KT Tape for the first time this weekend, last night’s run was the first in a while in which my shin did NOT hurt.  Amazing, huh?  I have an idea to post about some of the running gear I’ve stumbled across lately.  Some favorites have clearly emerged (KT tape being a big one) – but as time goes on, I’ll know more about the other stuff I’m giving a whirl while I run.

Last week I mentioned about the lack of Hawaii as a potential discouragement from reading – and some of y’all kindly requested more Western New York pics.  Pretty and outdoors is still pretty and outdoors; I personally see the beautiful merits of each location, clearly for varying reasons – but both pretty none the less!

Saturday’s run in downtown Buffalo… here are some photos I went ’round and collected post-run.  I didn’t want to photograph the entire area, I have to leave some aspects for the weeks to come!

post-run stretching!

marketing fail

but the canisius school is gorgeous, really

just down from the school, we run along this pretty pristine tree-lined road

behind these trees, and nestled closely with homes and small non-profits (a nursing home is across the street) – is a gorgeous orthodox church. greek, i believe.

the front view

taking in a fuller view for better context.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky was so blue on Saturday.  Colder weather and rain was promised to us – but instead, once again, we were treated to a cloudless sunny day.  It was mildly cooler in the morning, but as soon as the sun hitched herself high enough to be seen in full, it was nothing but heat that came our way.   Want more deets?  Check out this run map: http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/116526237

From the Farmer’s Market I’ve mentioned.  In a small park amidst opulent older homes – the market feels more like a picnic, the atmosphere is happy and relaxed.  I love just wandering around, people watching.  It’s the Elmwood-Bidwell Market, btw, if anyone wants to look it up.  I just adore the whole neighborhood it’s in!

the street along the farmer’s market – this one house is always selling furniture and stuffs out front

same side of the street, facing the opposite direction from the yard sale house

After I left the Farmer’s Market, it was time to drive home.  But fear not – I disregarded safety (and probably the law) and still managed to snap a few pics from the whip.  They’re poorly focused, but at least you get a feel for the area from them:

so many roundabouts (or rotaries for my bostonians)

i think that there is canada!

From last night, running through our small rural town that’s about an hour south of Buffalo.  I love it here too.  Yesterday’s run was just one of those feel good workouts, the sky was blue and the air was thick and hot – but I had a grand ole time!

quaint and oh so charming, yes?

all roads lead to home. specifically this one is pretty direct.

my lens was blurry, but it kinda lends to the whimsical nature of where i really live

running past sullivan’s charbroil is hard – oh the smell, so enticing.

and of course, the backyard and the grapes

the pooches need a workout too, of course

i look downright crazy in this one. i like it!

oh hay, i’m getting some sun out on my run

shaka!

love the cancer survivor running tee!

Ahh. So if you follow me on Instagram (as you should – @RadRosie) or Fb, or Twitter (see the side bar for those) – you know about the tee from last night’s run.  As I was sweating to the electropop (and some oldies) I was, as I said above, just having fun with it.  I kinda dance along sometimes, I usually smile – so when people kept honking and waving, I thought that seeing a be-neoned gal in a crazy get up bopping along was a novelty of some sort for such a one-horse town.  Only way after the fact did I register that I was rocking my SURVIVOR tee!  Oopsies – duh, of course that’s what people were pumped about.

So that was pretty fun, actually.  I love strangers that will a shout out and some encouragement over something like that – so rad!

Well, that’s all I have for today.  If you think you could stomach it, I’m so tempted to post the photo diary of my “evolution of a blister.”  I have a nasty, slightly infected, triple blister on my right foot.  It’s heinous and admittedly, painful.  I’m dying to gross everyone out with it.  Thoughts?

Hope you’re all having lovely weeks; to my runner pals: enjoy the warm weather while we still have it, and holler at me about how your runs and training are going.  I’d love to have more running pen pals and blogs to follow to chat about training, tips, injury prevention and the like!!

As always – THANKS FOR READING!  

XOXO, HHR 

Accountability, Speed: Glad I Joined Now!

This past weekend was my second ever experience with the new running group I’m in.  And let me just be very clear: Week two was markedly, crazily, way better than week 1!

I still got lost, but at least this time I wasn’t lost alone, haha.  I actually made the acquaintance of some really nice ladies and jogged near and at times, with, them!  The added advantages are not only social and navigational.  Turns out that when running with people, my pace time improves like woah.  Yeah, I may have shed about 20 minutes off my 8 mile time.  Ha!  How’s that for crazy?  Turns out when left to my own devices I dawdle, who’d have thought!

Anyways, aside from running faster, I also felt much stronger.  I completed the run feeling strong and the soreness has been minimal now in my post-run days.  So, all in all, really nice and I’m just so pleased with my current progress and commitment.  It feels good to be sticking with it.

In other news, we stumbled across this INCREDIBLE hippie neigborhood.  I met my peoples!  I was just running along, and I noticed the signs started to feature buzzwords that caught my eye:

“co-op”

run… run… run… 

“local produce”

running still… 

“yoga”

“organic”

“music shop”

“handmade”

“repurposed”

FREAK OUT!!! 

It was just so much, I could have exploded.  MY PEOPLE!  So after the run, Duggs and I headed over there for brunch and to scope out the area.  After a tasty meal and some nice conversation, we made our way over to the Farmer’s Market.  It was AWESOME.  They take EBT/Food Stamps at the Farmer’s Market!  It was all too rad, I cannot wait till next Saturday now.

I did have my phone with me, but I was in a very in-the-moment kinda mood and I just hardly so much as snapped a pic.  I do promise that next weekend we’ll bring the good camera and actually take some nice photos of the area.  Man oh man, downtown Buffalo totally stole my heart this weekend!

The rest of our time was spent with relaxing, stretching, some cleaning and organizing, light chores – nothing major really, but the lazy down time was much needed.  It rained a lot of Sunday morning – but by mid-afternoon it was blazing hot and sunny again.  I even got a couple hours on the lounge chair out back with a good book.  I’m telling you, yesterday was luxuriously lazy!   I was hoping for more rain though, our garden ain’t looking so good these days… Ugh.  Oh well, time will tell what’s to be!

I hope y’all had a great weekend too.

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

Western New York: I Feel Home.

Western New York is a beautiful place to live; constantly I’m awed and surprised by the bounty of this land.   After being here for about three months, I’m beginning to feel settled.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to live in versatile and dynamic places – I mean, Florida and Hawaii – does it wackier than either of these tropical touristy havens?  A Floridian childhood is special in its own ways, yes.  But there was always the part of me that would jealously eye the neighborhoods in John Hugh’s movies, wishing I lived in a northern suburb somewhere – dreaming of White Christmases and houses without stucco.

Western New York is a rich, amazing place.  In the outdoor activity department, WNY’s cup runneth over for sure.  Season to season there is so much to enjoy outside.

Summertime brings swimming, boating and all kinds of water sports on the ample lakes and waterways – specifically Lake Erie – there’s fruit to pick, festivals to go to every weekend, cook outs, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and on and on.  The weather is sunny and warm most days, varying between balmy and mild, the latter giving way to gloriously cool evenings.  This far north the days are long, with dusk’s light fading out at almost 10:00pm sometimes.

As Indian summer fades into Fall, we’ll head into different picking seasons… the grapes first, then apples, pumpkins.  The length of daylight and the level of mercury will both sink.  Hunting season will open up, hiking and camping become more enjoyable with fewer bugs and the festive beauty of the autumnal color show.  Winter snow and the iced over lake will bring even more to do: snow mobiles, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, skating – all things winter.  Thanks to the lake effect snow this region is known for, winter sports and activities are almost always a go ahead (last year was a particularly weak winter, so I’ve been told).  And then as the spring thaw happens, the whole cycle kicks over again, baby animals and wildflowers bloom as warmer days grace this land.  Gardens are planted, the trees extend soft green leaves out of their barren branches, and the desire to run outside and play is felt by all.

More than just a pretty face who’s good for a fun time, Western New York is deep – her rich and dynamic history, specific to my family, has me enthralled.

You see: I’ve always been a transplant.

Growing up in Florida was awesome, don’t get me wrong.  I could swim before I could walk, I’ve seen my fair share of crazy critters, gorgeous sandy sunrises, Mickey Mouse ears, shuttle launches, big cities and sleepy country towns.    Nice, but in ways I’ve never identified before – often hollow.   I’ve never felt like I “fit in.”  Rest assured, I know this is a broad and baseless complaint experienced far more often than people convinced that they’re popular.   But it’s true nonetheless.

Now being here, in the land of my family, where our roots go so very deep (well, American deep, haha) – it’s a very different experience.  An intangible comfort is omnipresent here; I have the confidence of my ancestors encouraging me every day, something in my DNA guides me and tells me, “YOU ARE HOME NOW.”

Being related to so many people in a proximal area is really rad.  Both immediate and extended family are here – and I can hardly go anywhere in town without there being a long-established family connection in place.  And not in a grease-the-palms kinda way, just in a friendly, “Oh! You’re Kathy’s daughter!” kinda way.  My Great Uncle is something of a living legend here too, so that always makes me proud to be known as a Gioia ’round here too.

In Florida, my last name never held currency.  No one cared, no one knew who we were (save for the small immediate circle of my Dad’s co-workers and perhaps the people who did community service with my Mom).  But familial love and long standing relationships bred into generations of families in a small town is something indescribably nice: there’s nothing like the easy acceptance and welcome I feel here.  (Okay, anonymity is nice in its own ways too – especially if you have some wild oats to sow and would like to be able to do just that without seven hundred years of shame brought on your house; my hat tips to Florida for that!).

We’ll go out to eat and there’s a story, many stories, of how one such family member was close with the original owner, and on and on.  I love that the history of this area relates to ME.   My Aunt Patty is always telling me these connections, the old stories, and I’m 100% fascinated.

More than ministrations and tales, it goes deeper, down to something instinctual and primal – something that eludes a direct understanding – that pulls me to this land.  I just can say I “feel” it.   My sense of direction here is flawless –  I grew up in a sleepy beach town with a grid system for roads and huge bodies of water to serve as glaring directionals – Yet, on twisty country roads that weave through hills, I feel like I know my way around.   Sometimes I have this (morbid and) strange vision of late relatives guiding me, walking alongside me, smiling with familiarity as I travel paths they’ve undoubtedly walked along countless times before me.

Weird?

Yeah, I know.

I’m being super weird.

I’ve been mulling over this feeling for weeks now and this is merely my feeble attempt to put the idea into something digestible.  There’s just this massive looming of emotional connection to the actual dirt and trees, the wind and weather here, that I cannot put into words (although I’m trying damn hard as I reach nearly 900 of them in an attempt to suss out an understanding of the feelings this place evokes).

Sigh.

It’s just lovely is all.  I’m happy to be here.  I feel safe, welcomed, wanted, and normal.

Oh!  I can elaborate on the feeling of normalcy, actually.  Growing up in Florida you’re living with a mixed bag of snowbird transplant families.  When I was in college there was legit stat that 30% of Floridians were born in Ohio!  It feels like everyone merely lives there but actually considers New York or Boston or stinky Ohio (sorries! my Dad went to UM, so I gotta hate a little) to be “home.”   Of course I know that there are long-standing Florida families, and that the expansion of the mid-1900s is now making way to third and fourth generations who’ve called the Gunshine State their own.   The vast majority are though, relocated folks from the great white north.

For me, I always knew we were not of that land; I felt like a visitor.   And now – only after living here – do I understand some of the quirks I was raised with that always felt so odd to me.  They’re cultural norms up here!  Little things, like ordering a strawberry shortcake and having it served on a heavy drop biscuit, the exact way my mother always made it.  I’d never in my life had a strawberry shortcake made that way by anyone other than my Mom.  In FL the norm would be angel food cake, pound cake maybe.  Taking a bite of the slightly salty and dense biscuit covered in local strawberries and whipped heavy cream – it was like childhood relived.  “Oh!” I literally exclaimed at seeing the biscuits next to the strawberries last night at Tops (supermarket) – “this is why my Mom does it this way,”  realization of this region’s influence dawning.

The list of little silly habits goes on.

And while I know it seems minute and weird, after nearly three decades of assuming I was just a sore thumb raised by a pair of quirky, wacky (albeit very loving), nut jobs – there’s something so reassuring about being normal.     Yeah, I do think I almost fit in here.  Now… If only I could rid myself of the gentle lilt that betrays me every time I open my mouth.  That and ditch the tie dye, fanny packs, legwarmers, bandannas and other fashion statements akin to wearing a neon “I’m not really from here” tee shirt….

Hahaha.  I kid, I kid.

Yeah, I know I’ll never be run of the mill – a happy realization and one that I’m proud to own.   Don’t worry, I’m not seeking cultural assimilation by any means.

It’s just a nice realization to be able to piece things all together, is all.  And of course, it should go without saying, Florida will always be “home” in so many, many ways.  (I’m actually terribly Florida-sick lately, missing the sand and saltwater more than ever before.  Oh yeah, and all you people who live there too – I miss y’all as well.     But that’s another post for another day.)

For now, wrapping myself in the dichotomous distant familiarity of a land long inhabited by my own blood is just new, fascinating, calming, and … nice.   My induction to Western New York has been altogether charming.

Okay, that’s enough waxing poetic for now!  You get the point, yeah?  (haha, Hawaiian joke.  See, I’m still a regional grab bag).

HAPPY FRIDAY and HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE!

xoxo, hhr 

Marathon: It’s On!

I did it.  I really did it – I signed up, registered, paid for, a real live marathon.  On October 21st I WILL run 26.2 miles.

Logo for the Empire State Run

I’m not sure if I’m ecstatic or terrified.  Both? Hahaha.

Oy, let me back up.  So I’ve been running a lot lately, and several months ago – when I was still back in Hawaii – I said I wanted to run some races again.  It’s been a few years at least.  Well, I started to get really sick in the months leading up to the move, fell off my running schedule, lost my endurance, and so on.  We move here, the fresh country air of rural New York state wipes out the black mold and sickness from my body and bam! I’m up and running again.

Taking it one step further, I couldn’t shake the idea that if I wanted to really commit to running – really take it seriously – I needed some form of accountability.  Thus, I started looking online for running groups, coaches, that kind of stuff – and I found a marathon training group out of Buffalo.  I called, showed up on Saturday, signed up, ran 8 miles on the route they set up, and now I’m in!

holding up “five” for being at the five mile mark during saturday’s run

buffalo has very pretty scenery during runs

The group I’m running with is through a store in Buffalo – Fleet Feet Buffalo.   The marathon I’ve signed up for will be in Syracuse – it’s the Empire State Marathon.  There’s also a half and a huge running/fitness expo over the days before the races.  Anyone who wants to cheer me on – c’mon, c’mon!  It should be an awesome time, a good weekend for sure.

fleet feet buffalo – first day of the fall 2012 distance group. can you tell which one is me?

So.  I’m off to go do a prescribed five mile run (part of my daily training plan) and I’m getting really excited.  It’s been a long time since I’ve jumped into the world of legit endurance sports, so I’m happy to be back!

Get ready for lots of running chatter and my amateur nutrition info.  In order to prepare, I also have a lot of learning to do.

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

Happy Birthday to Me and to The USA!

What a busy week it’s been!  My birthday is July 3rd, America’s is the 4th, I had a whole mess of family in town for the festivities and it’s just been a lot of good times and fun.  Oh, and food!

So my mother (Krazy Kathy) came into town on the 2nd.  I hadn’t seen her since she visited Hawaii almost a year ago! Yowzers, that’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing her.  So it was a much overdue visit and it was so nice to have her up here!  We ran some errands together (go figure), hung out, discovered an awesome sandwich place a stone’s throw from my cousin’s house, visited the family cemetery, went out to eat, caught up, so on.

my mom, at my great uncle’s house

dinner pics from our evening at the brick room in downtown fredonia – awesomely great food!

The night before my birthday Kath took us out to eat at this great little Italian place in downtown Fredonia: The Brick Room.  Our food was incredible and it was the perfect ambiance for our very inappropriate and bawdy dinner table talk.

I think it’s easily safe to say that a good time was had by all.

going out to dinner on the 2nd with my mother, husband, and great uncle

love this billabong maxi dress!

Then on the third of July, my actual birthday, I spent the day with my Mom.  Well, I worked a bit in the morning – Duggs worked all day (stupid weird mid-week holiday is such a bummer!).  Then I hung out with Mom.  Once it was dark out we headed over to Uncle Bobby’s – my cousin, his wife, and their kids are up here visiting too, so we got to go see them and hang out.  Sadly the fire works for the third were cancelled because of crappy weather!

mom

and me

this is very funny to me for some reason!

 

 

Alright, so my Mom and I had a nice time on my birthday.  We ran into my Uncle Chris and Aunt Betty who were also in town for the 4th, at the cemetery, how wacky is that!

Oh, the sunset over Lake Erie on my birthday was awesome:

light em up !

pretty paper lanterns

Fourth of July Fun!

The fourth was a busy holiday.  We started the day hanging out at home and getting food and treats ready.  I baked a boatload of festive red, white, and blue cupcakes.  You can flog me now for my flagrant use of food dye, I know I’m terrible!  This is the summer of hypocrisy or something, lol.  Anyways, at least I did bake some without dye (and in the stash I kept home for us I included plenty on un-dyed options).  After getting everything ready, we went over to Uncle Bobby’s for a big ole picnic and cookout.  We played some ladder ball, laid out on the beach, had some delicious steamed clams, hung out with everyone there, I ate some of the best potato salad I’ve ever had… and then we wrapped it up and headed over to my Aunt Patty’s house for a nice cookout!  Al cooked up some awesome steaks, Aunt Patty made ribs and mac’n’cheese, and we all hung out and had some cocktails and cold beers.

Busy, but an awesome holiday for sure!

sweet treats from the 4th

4th of july at uncle bobby and miss peggy’s house

the good stuff!

collage from the cookout at my aunt patty and al’s house

And in case you were wondering, I wore red, white, and blue ALL week.  Haha, just to clarify in case there was any doubt.

It’s been an awesome week, that’s for sure!  And we still have a weekend to go now (okay, maybe I take back what I said about mid-week holidays being stupid).  I hope to get back into a more normal routine come next week, that’s for sure!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Sour Cherry Pie – A Hand Picked, Homemade Summer Treat

This summer dish is such a fun treat.  Tart and sugary, with flavors perfect for this time of year, this nice sour bite will happily cut through a hot, humid day.

sour cherry pie

In Western New York, the local eats are amaze.  This place has the best food in the USA, I’m convinced.  Hello, Buffalo wings?  Chiavettas? Besides, think of how many Italians live here and you can instantly understand my POV.

A week-ish ago, Austin and I went to the backyard cherry tree and had a good ole time picking some of the red, ripe fruit.  The tree was so very generous this year, and without a ladder, we gathered SEVEN POUNDS of sour cherries.  Yes, I’ll clarify: this isn’t your regular ole Bing or Ranier cherry tree, it’s good ole SOUR cherries.

We took these bitter lil lovelies to Nick’s Grandma and she happily baked some pies for the family.

(Are you tracking all of the names and relations? Probably not.  Duggs, my husband, and I live with my cousin Nick – his Grandma, EZ, lives nearby and she’s our go-to pie baker, gardener, painter, hunter extraordinaire; mentioned her in this post).

me, having a lovely summer day

we started out slow, and then that bowl just filled right up!

If you don’t have a tree in your backyard (sadface), I’m not too sure where you can buy them.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen them hanging out in the grocery store produce section – but you never know.  Farmer’s Markets, specialty shops, or perhaps a well-placed phone call to a store that can order them for you (like Publix will, my mightily blessed SouthEastern friends, oh how I miss Publix…) would do the trick?  Good luck and Godspeed.

Step 1: Acquire cherries. 

So yeah, step one has go to be getting the cherries.  We did this with an hour or so of picking.  Austin, being the spritely nine year old that he is, climbed up into the tree.  Me, being the 5’8 Godzilla that I am, just reached up and picked.

austin and i, the backyard tree, and tons of sour cherries!

Step 2:  Pit the cherries. 

This one is time consuming.  I suggest an ice cold beer (because picking cherries in the hot summer sun is a sweat-expiring experience) and a TV show or some jams.  Just pop the pits out of each and every cherry – pinch them and you can go pretty fast.

Step 3: Get your nearest Grandma-like figure to make you a pie.

Hahaha.  I kid, I kid.  EZ made the pies for us, yes.  I do, however, have the filling recipe she’s used for years.  For your baking pleasure:

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs Tapioca
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • sour cherries, about 1.5 lbs per pie
Directions

Take your pitted cherries and just mix them with the above ingredients – the sugar, the lemon juice, and  the tapioca.  I asked EZ about the tapioca, and she said she gets the Jell-O brand, opens up the packet and measures out three tablespoons of the granules.  You can find it in the pudding section; she really strongly suggests using tapioca – it’s essential for the flavor.  And as a big fan of this pie, I’m saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This pie is amazing, so just do as your told.

Then you’ll just mix everything up.  Some cherries will mash up a bit, some will stay intact -this variety in texture is desired.

She didn’t give me a crust recipe (I didn’t ask for one) – but just use your favorite regular crust, put a bottom layer in the pie dish.  Then add your mixed filling.  Then, add a top layer of crust and sprinkle some more sugar on there if you’d like to.  Given the tart flavor of the cherries, I really encourage the sugar on top.

Then bake.  She said she bakes until the crust is the golden brown “done” color – about an hour in her oven, which she cautions, does not operate properly and as a normal new oven would or should.  So, yeah, this isn’t a scientific recipe, I know.  But you can guestimate, right?  I think like 350 or whatever the normal baking temp is, is good.  (Right?)

And then… ta daa!  Homemade sour cherry pie. 

finished pie, lovely!

Happy picking and eating y’all – if you attempt this one, let me know how it turns out.

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

Bullets, Boooze, and Berries

Sounds like the perfect day, huh? We had us a good ole Redneck Sunday this past weekend! Yee-haw!

Note: Always practice firearm safety, use weapons responsibly, and never fire a gun for fun while intoxicated.  Guns are serious weapons and should always be respected for how powerful they are.

My cousin Nick, his son Austin, my husband Duggs, and I went over to Aunt Ruth’s house (EZ’s younger sister) for some target practice.  Aunt Ruth’s house is known for being THE spot for deer sightings around here. With plenty of property, not a lot of neighbors, and some good areas to set up target practice – it’s the ideal location to go shoot some guns!

loading the bed of the truck with all of our guns

nick, austin, duggs

I mean, if we’re going to be able to hunt successfully at all this upcoming season, we gotta get the practice in now – right?

nicky showing austin how to do it just right

i did awful with my pistol accuracy this weekend, some of my worst shooting ever

austin and the pistol

success!

here’s a sweet little action collage of me with two guns and my fanny pack on. aww year!

he always catches the shell between shots, so hawt!

i could look at this all day long. the man looks good with a gun!

comparing their groups – nick had the top target, duggs used the lower one.

lookin good hot duggs o’ mine

yeah nicky! nick is great at shooting standing up, more sensible than prone position for hunting.

my cousin nick, hittin’ bullseyes all day

i made him pose for this and he was so annoyed

i love using duggs’ rifle, i did way better with it than with the pistol

sassy prone position

my shoulder got beat up. bad!

i’m a gun slingah… in leg warmers, neon tie dye, and a fanny pack.

All in all, we had a lot of fun.

It was a super hot day, which was a mixed bag: I was thankful for the break in the rain we’ve had so much of lately.  But man, it was really hot out – like muggy, humid, hot.  I know that come winter I’ll be longing for these sunny hot days, but after Florida and Hawaii, the cooler weather of New York has been nice.

Hunting and shooting are two hobbies that I’m okay with.  I think that if you’re going to eat meat, getting your meat via hunting is far more humane, healthy, and natural than the factory farming system we have here in the US.  I know that for some of my animal-loving pals, the act of hunting is hard to understand.  If you ever want to know why I feel the way I do, just ask!

Strawberry Festival!

After a couple hours of target practice, Duggs and I headed over to the local Strawberry Festival!  Put on by a near by winery, Merritt Winery, the strawberry festival was a grand ole time.  We swung by mostly to pick up some food for lunch, so we didn’t stay long.

It was a pretty small set up though, so even in about 30 minutes – we were able to at least see everything there was to see.

The festival is home to their world-famous “Sangria Slush” – as soon as I heard that, I was just dying and begging to go all week long.  And trust me, I was not let down.  The red sangria in slushie form was oh so tasty!

After a hot afternoon in the sun, this hit the spot:

What to do after you’ve been shooting all day? Why, shoot some more of course!

The festival all went to benefit jeuvenile diabetes research (great cause, and local too). One of the tables was a small Glock range, and for a few dollars you could fire off seven rounds.  With a beer in hand, Duggs just had to go and shoot some more.

Shoot a bullseye, and win $5 off your food!  Since we were buying burgers and hot dogs to bring home – this worked out perfectly! Good job Duggs.

The fine boardwalk of booths and sundries:

And of course, the classic car show!

the car show portion of the festival was pretty swanky! 

General Lee

little me in the general lee

Strawberries and other fine foods!

strawberry shortcake, the old fashioned way with a heavy drop biscuit

We actually got way more food than this… including some NY state 100% pure maple syrup, a homemade spice and herb mix to cook with, and all the hot food we brought home for lunch.  I should have grabbed some pics of that!

The festival was cute, but I didn’t mind not hanging around for a long time.  There was a band, and the singer was pretty good – but she was just doing covers mostly, and it was nothing epic.  My cousin told me the line up for Saturday consisted of some great local bands that he’s heard before and really likes.

This weekend seems to have kicked off “festival season” – all summer long, just about every weekend around here is some kind of festival or fair.  I am SO EXCITED!  I love fair food, I love the atmosphere, the fun vibe – I want to go to as many as I can (if Duggs actually read my blog, this is the part that would just fill him with dread, lol – imagine going to a fair every weekend? haha).

We had a really fun time.  The sunny hot Sunday outdoors more than made up for how rainy Saturday was and the outside time we lost because of it.  I can’t wait to see what else summer in this new place brings, hopefully more good times and neat stuff to see and explore.

Do you have a lot of festivals in your area? Do you go to them?

ready to head home after a wacky fun day – arms full of treats and awesome

As always – thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

I Love The Crazy 80s! (Octogenarian 80s)

A weekend ago, we celebrated my Great Uncle John, Zio Giovanni’s, 81st birthday.  Can you believe it? 81!  And this past Saturday, we had the pleasure of celebrating Nick’s Grandma, EZ Lyman’s, 85th Birthday!

Both are incredibly talented, wonderful, kind people – who’ve both been these crazy family legends that I’ve heard tales of my entire life.  These octogenarians know how to get down, that’s for sure.

So yes… around recently, we’ve been kickin’ it crazy 80s style.  Let me re-cap the two most recent birthday parties I’ve attended:

EZ Lyman, Happy 85th Birthday!

EZ has always been a tomboy-with-class idol of mine.

happy birthday to ethelyn

She’s Uncle Bobby’s Mom and you can so tell: Ethelyn is long-known for going hunting and fishing with the boys, keeping up with their outdoor antics and being able to hold her own.  The flip side is that she’s a wonderfully warm and sweet woman, known all over the region (and probably farther than that) for her incredible landscape and nature paintings.  She’s won awards and prizes for her ability to capture the charm of Western New York scenery – whitetail deer, sugar houses, snow covered trees, glens and dales and that sort of thing.  Everyone I know in my family (except for myself *pouts*) has some of EZ’s paintings displayed in their homes.

I’ll have to do a whole post about EZ’s artwork, it’s just wonderful.  Even as I was Google-ing her the other day, I found some awesome old newspapers with photos of her artwork, or articles listing the prizes she’s won.  Maybe I can even sneak over to her “studio” and get some action shots of her painting.

So Happy 85th Birthday, EZ!  It’s so nice to be up here and able to get to know you better.

EZ’s spice cake with fishy candles

fish candles

spice cake with birthday cake ice cream, delicious

I was a derelict on Saturday, and spent far more time eating pasta (along with Uncle Bobby’s incredible venison meatballs- perfectly seasoned, they tasted just like Italian sausage, and not gamey at all), and laughing as we were shooting the breeze and telling crazy stories, than taking photos.  So I don’t have too many from this past Saturday’s birthday afternoon.

yeah, we were hittin’ the hard stuff

duggs, all full after a big ole pasta dinner

some old photos were busted out, including this gem: uncle bobby, holding chad and nick, his sons and my cousins – and then me, in the pink. oh precious!

Uncle John, Happy 81st Birthday!!

My Great Uncle John celebrated his 81st Birthday at his home, a rustic log cabin (his dream cabin) out in the country… kinda near Cherry Creek, but mostly near some dairy farms and Amish folk.  He requested a birthday bonfire, so that is exactly how we celebrated. (Hence why I’ve been eating microwave s’mores lately, we brought home the leftovers).

you gotta love this man, jean overalls and everything!

happy eighty-one to you

Now, my Uncle John is a very special man.  He’s our family patriarch, and really has been my entire life.  Dynamic, witty, sassy, outstanding and incredible – there is no one on this earth like my Uncle John.  A former Marine who fought in Korea, the first ever Brut model, a Broadway star, a television actor, world-traveler, biker leather daddy, Italian-speaking, chef extraordinaire – he’s amazing.

Really amazing – and just always himself, be that cheesy, or silly, or a little bit country.

my great uncle john, blowing out his 81st birthday cake

He used to teach drama for years and years, and although recently retired from that – he’s still acting.  In fact, he has a play coming up this fall that we’re excited to see.  He’s brilliant on stage, always stealing the show.

Ahh my Uncle John.  I just smile when I type his name.  I’ve always held such a special place in my heart for him.  He’s the brother of my late Grandma Rose, whom I was named for – and who I’ve never actually met (she passed away before I was born).  I’d have to dedicate an entire blog (not just a post, an entire blog itself) into chronically properly the life and times of the one and only UJ.

So for now, I’ll just post a ton of photos I took at his 81st birthday bonfire:

gathering the fire wood

making the fire

UJ’s property, out in the quiet near cherry creek. Austin, Aunt Patty, Matthew (Duggs) + Nick

now that’s a fire

After building the fire, making s’mores, and hanging out in the cool air by the warm burning wood for hours… we decided to let it die down so we could head inside for cake and birthday gifts + cards.

side view of UJ’s cabin, his “hideaway”

uncle john’s sweet pooch

oh sweet girl – UJ was dog sitting this sweet one

oh jeez we’re silly

take two? austin, great uncle john, me and nicky

nice family pic (third time’s a charm)

austin, doing his best UJ impression

austin and UJ

playing with the doggies, go figure

It was getting late, and we were all getting loopy… so we decided to call it a night and let UJ enjoy some birthday peace.  All in all, it was a fun evening and I’m glad I could actually be up here to celebrate one of my Great Uncle’s birthdays with him (I don’t think I’ve celebrated an actual birthday with him since his 75th?).

Happy Birthday to both EZ and UJ, it’s been a blast celebrating with you Crazy 80s – but more so, it’s been a pleasure knowing you and spending time with you, always.

As always – thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Happy National Running Day!

My new friend Amanda over at Fancy Oatmeal (yeah, I decided we’re “friends” now, she’s moving to Jax, FL + teaches English + runs + is awesome) posted earlier today letting me know about the June 6th fun that is “National Running Day.”

Thanks, Amanda!  I made durn sure to get my celebration on.

Did you run today?  If not yet, are you going to?

I just went on a whopper of a run.

me, instagram style, on today’s runny run

Well, it was only for 40 minutes, but it was outside and I was doing harder intervals than I’ve been doing since I moved to NY – with a higher run-to-walk ratio.  I didn’t much sleep last night, and for some reason I’m STILL sore from Monday’s crazy 64 minute run/walk/exhaustion-fest.

So here are some recent running pics, from a couple diff runs last week, Monday’s night run and today’s celebratory run.  I’m so so proud of myself for getting back into and trying so hard and giving it my all to get back into shape.

I love running, and running loves me.

Your turn: tell me about your most recent runs!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr