Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pickin' Pumpkins!

It rained all weekend at the Rivir Ranch but it cleared up for just enough time to pick our pumpkins on Sunday. The pumpkin  patch was quite the success, I had over 80 pumpkins. I'm working on decorating the house, inside and outside, with all of them.

Since it was muddy outside, I put on my big rubber boots with shorts...yep, I know, stylish!

We picked all the pumpkins then used the tractor to haul them up to the house. It took us four trips. And since we didn't want to drive on the new grass, we went all the way around the around yard and up the driveway. Carl drove and I rode on the fender, I'm sure the neighbors were starring.

We also had a bunch of other things to pick in the garden - tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, watermelons, zucchinis and squash. We have alot of squash, I'm not sure what we're going to do with all of them yet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's a New Season

The seasons have changed from summer to fall and doesn't just mean the temperature outside, the new tv shows begin tonight. The new tv shows on TLC begin tonight and I've got the DVR ready. One of our favorites, Cake Boss, returns along with other shows that I watch. Carl refuses to watch Little Couple, 19 Kids and Counting, Sister Wives, Say Yes to the Dress, DC Cupcakes and more. Me and my reality tv...sigh. But since we do love Buddy and his famiglia on Cake Boss we drove out to Hoboken, NJ, in March to check out the bakery.

We waited in line for over two hours before we made our way into the little bakery where it was even more crammed with people. The bakery is just like it seems on tv, except smaller.

Here is Carl checking out the fondant layer cakes. At $45 a cake, it was a tough decision but we couldn't pass up the chance to try one of Buddy's famous fondant cakes.

We made our way to the end of the counter and Grace came out to the front of the bakery. Carl and I were both a little star struck and didn't know what to say to her, so all we managed to say was 'Hello' and where we are from. She probably thought we were really weird, oh well. We didn't get to see Buddy but we did see Mauro, Frankie and Joey in the backroom.

There weren't any signs labeling all the goodies and it was so packed with people that you couldn't go back to pick anything out but we did manage to buy some lobster tails, cannolis, a cupcake, cream puffs, crumb cake, 7 layer cookie, Mexican wedding cake cookies and a fondant layer cake. 

We ordered the blue fondant layer cake with the bow and they asked if we would like to have a message written on it. So I said "Sure, write Carl loves Lindsey." They took the cake to the back room to have the message written on it, the girl came back with our cake and it said "Carlo's Love Lindsey." Oh well, guess that's close enough. The cake was pretty good and the fondant was better than we expected. We were just glad that we got to have a slice of fondant cake made at Carlos Bakery.

We had a fun time visiting Carlos Bakery even though we didn't get to meet Buddy. I'm looking forward to the new season of Cake Boss and the other TLC shows this fall.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Update - Vacation to Niagara Falls - Part 1

I forgot to mention that on our way to Niagara Falls, we stopped in Buffalo, New York, to eat at the Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo chicken wings. This is the restaurant the invented the Buffalo wings, hence the name. Sorry Jessica Simpson buffalo's don't have wings...

I ordered the mild wings since I'm the biggest wimp when it comes to spicy foods.

And Carl ordered the spicy barbecue wings. These were so spicy that you could smell the spiciness on them without even eating them.

After a few chicken wings, he was sweating, eyes were watering, mouth and lips were on fire and he couldn't drink enough water. The waitress ended up just leaving a pitcher of water at our table since we were drinking it so fast. He did manage to eat all ten wings and not breathe flames.

Caramel Corn

The night before we left for Niagara Falls, I made batch of the most delicious caramel corn. Starting off your trip with a big bowl of buttery caramel corn is always great and highly recommended! We had the caramel corn eaten before we made it to the Falls. This is my mom’s recipe and it’s perfect! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I might need to make some this weekend.

8 quarts popped popcorn (3 microwave bags)
2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter
½ cup white Karo
¼ teaspoon cream of tarter
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Melt brown sugar, butter, Karo, cream of tartar and salt over low heat for 15 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium and boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Stir until foaming stops. Pour over popped popcorn to coat the popcorn. Heat oven to 200 degrees and bake on two baking sheets for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

Vacation to Niagara Falls - Part 4

We took our sweet time travelling home on the last day and made a few stop along the way. The region along Lake Erie is packed with vineyards and wineries. The interestate was lined with the grapevines for miles and miles. So on our way home we stopped at a vineyard to pick to some grapes.

We picked over 20 pounds of grapes and our car began to smell like grapes too, which was wonderful.

Now we are working on turning all those grapes into homemade grape juice.

Our next stop was at winery not far from the vineyard were we picked the grapes. They weren't offering any complete tours of the winery that day but we did do a wine tasting with 20 of the wines that the winery makes.

Don't worry, we shared those little glasses of wine and we didn't even finish them all. I preferred the sweet wines and Carl likes the red wines.  They gave us a menu of the wines we were sampling so that we could purchase some later.

And we did buy a few bottles of wine, three of our favorites and a bottle of grape juice.

So that wraps up our trip to Niagara Falls. We had a wonderful time on our little vacation and it was quite relaxing before the busyness of deer season, craft shows, house projects, holidays and more begin this fall.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vacation to Niagara Falls - Part 3

On our third day of vacation we headed back down to the Falls to ride the Maid of the Mist boat tour and go through the Cave of the Winds.

First up was the Maid of the Mist boat tour. We boarded the boat along the Niagara River and chugged along the river passing the American Falls and then going into the Horseshoes Falls. Since we read on online and heard from other people that you get soaked on the boat, we only took a couple waterproof disposable camera since we didn't want to ruin our good camera. Also, since we knew we would be getting wet we wore our Keen shoes and shorts and t-shirts while other people hopped on the boat with jeans, sweatshirts, and gym shoes and socks. After the boat tour, I'm sure they were uncomfortable because everyone got soaked. They did give us a poncho but that only goes a little past your knees and only helps so much. But since we planned ahead with our attire we were fairly dry and shoes aired out fast.

This was a great view of falls! When we boarded the boat everyone raced to the front of the boat but since we were a couple of the last people to board we ended up in the middle of the boat. but once we got into the middle of Horseshoe Falls and everyone was getting soaked they all raced under the canopy and Carl and I shot to the front of the boat to get the best views and totally wet. We had a great time on the Maid of the Mist tour.

Next up was the Cave of the Winds tour at the base of the American Falls. Again, we planned ahead with our attire but we ended up getting quite wet on this tour. The poncho they gave us was pitiful; tissue paper is to regular paper as the Cave of the Winds poncho is to a garbage bag. We even ripped a few holes in the things trying to get it opened up before the tour even started.

Again more great - up close and personal - views of the falls.

The ponchos have to be the most unflattering thing of all time as well.

Towards the end of the tour, you can go up to the Hurricane Deck, which the Falls powerful wind and splash create hurricane conditions. Alot of people on the tour skipped this section because you do get drowned with water but not Carl and I, we headed right up there. Since we had our waterproof disposable cameras with us, a few other brave souls who ventured up there with us took our pictures.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vacation to Niagara Falls - Part 2

On the second day of our trip we ventured out to see some of the other sites in the area. Our first stop was to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. We just toured the grounds, looked at some of the 150 saints statues and climbed to the top of the dome to look at the giant Mary statue. Then we visited the gift shop and bought a few books.

Next we drove over to Youngstown, NY, to have lunch at a little cafe and stopped along the shore of Lake Ontario to check out the (faint) view of the Toronto skyline. Look closely in the center of this picture to see Toronto, Canada.

Then we made our way over to the Old Fort Niagara. This was one of Carl's highlights and he could tell you way more about the fort than I can remember. We toured the museum, watched a short video about the fort and listened to the tour guide tell about the fort as well. Then we were off to explore the old fort, it's over 300 years old.

This was the 'French Castle'

Apparently, the people back then were much shorter than Carl.

Carl is looking out over the river to see if any enemies are coming...

After our tour of the Old Fort Niagara, we went back to the hotel to change our clothes for our night out on the town. Usually on Fridays, we eat Mexican food, so just because we were on vacation we couldn't skip our Mexican dinner. I googled Mexican restaurants and found one, when we got to the restaurant there was a line out the door - always a good sign. The food was really good too. Then with our cowboy boots on we headed down to the casino.

I'm no Aunt Alice when it comes to gambling. I only play 25 cent video poker. Here is my biggest jackpot - $6.25. It wasn't much but it felt like a lot at the time - I won 25 credits, woohoo!
After a few hours of gambling and 50 dollars we called it a night and left with nothing but a good time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation to Niagara Falls - Part 1

Last week we took a four day vacation to Niagara Falls. We had a great time and packed alot of activities into those four days. I'll highlight our trip in four blog posts, one for each day of the trip.

Day 1 - Thursday, September 15th

We left for Niagara Falls on Wednesday after work and made it to the Falls on Thursday afternoon. Our first stop was on Goat Island. We walked out to the Three Sisters Islands to check out the Niagara River that was rushing over the Falls. While we were at this little landing there were two college girls that had climbed out to that second log to take some pictures, a little daring considering the water is rushing by and they could easily fall in. They were trying to take a self picture but it wasn't working out so well so I got their camera and took a picture of them. As the girl climbed off the tree limb to get the camera from me she turned around to go back out there and fell in the water. It was hilarious (I love when people fall) luckily she fell between those two tree limbs and not on the other side because I was not going in after her. She was soaking wet and Carl and I were trying not to laugh out loud so we had to leave the area. It was a funny start to the day.

We hopped back in the car and made our way out to Terrapin Point to view the Horseshoe Falls. The mist of the falls can be seen a long ways away.

Here are some more pictures from Terrapin Point. We took that boat into the falls too, I'll get to that in another blog post though.

Then we made our way to the other side of the island to check out the American Falls.

The falls were really awesome from the American side but I really wanted to go the Canadian side to see them too but I don't have a passport. Carl has a passport but since we didn't plan very far in advance I didn't get a passport. After a little convincing Carl to try to go to Canada with just my drivers licence he finally gave in and pulled up to the border crossing agent. I told him the worst thing that would happen is that we would get turned around, no big deal. Well, I was able to convince the Canadian border crossing agent to let me go to Canada even though I just have a drivers licence and no passport. He was a little unsure of letting me in but finally gave in and told me when I go back to the US I may have to go to Immigration since I don't have a passport, oh well, I'll figure that out when I get there I suppose. So on we went to Canada, woohoo! Here is the Rainbow Bridge from the US to Canada.

We walked along the path of the river and the view of the falls were even more awesome in Canada. This is the Canadian view of the falls.

Next we rode to the top of the Skylon Tower. We hopped in the little yellow glass enclosed elevators for a 52 second trip up 775 feet on the outside of the tower up to the observation deck. Carl was a little worried that I was going to freak out or something (and I didn't take any Dramamine) in the elevator going up but I handled it like a champ.

Here is the view from atop the Skylon Tower.

After our trip up the Skylon Tower we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We always get shirts from the Hard Rock Cafe whenever we are vacation so it was great to add a new shirt to our collection. Then we headed back towards the Rainbow Bridge, hoping that I would be able to easily get back in the United States and not have to go to Immigration. Well, we pulled up to the Homeland Security Border Agent and Carl hands the guy his passport and my drivers license. He looks at me and says "This is all you have?" and I said "Yes, it is." He said that only a drivers license might work for the Canadians but not us. So then he proceed to ask him a bunch of questions and wanted to see more ID from me. Well all I had was my work ID and my credit cards, so I handed them over to him. After some more questions and him telling me that this would not work again, he let me go back to the United States.

I'll be back tomorrow with highlights from our second day of vacation to Niagara Falls.