Weekend Recap

Happy Monday friends!

What a weekend. Thursday morning we received the news that William’s paternal grandmother went to join the Lord and her husband. She had been sick for a long time, so we knew it was coming, but it still caught us off a bit. We quickly packed, asked our neighbors to watch the house, and headed south to Alabama. We thought about driving straight through, but hit a detour in Cincinnati and torrential rains from Louisville to Bowling Green, so we stopped for the night and finished the drive Friday morning. While it’s wonderful to see everyone again, I wish it were under different circumstances.

Friday we spent time as a family and went through old photographs to decide what to display at the visitation. I loved her dental hygiene graduation photo and her bridal portraits, but she also looked darling in her first communion picture! That night one of her sisters brought over a roast and the whole family got together at William’s aunt’s house to spend time together.

Saturday was hard. I always try to view funerals as a celebration of the life lived and creating intentional time with the family that’s together. We had a family lunch at noon, they brought Gana’s body around one, we had private family viewing until two, followed by the visitation and then the Presbyterian service at three. After the service we headed to the grave side to see her lowered into the earth to join her beloved. I know that she was sick and the last time we saw her it didn’t seem like she knew we were there, but it was still hard. Being graveside feels so final. I missed my PapPap’s funeral in 2015 and wish I could have been there. I’m fortunate in that the last funeral I attended I was in second grade. I missed the funerals for my great-aunt Rosie, her son-in-law Jack who I loved, and my dear childhood friend Ive when her brain cancer took her in 2001. I’ve had to process grief without the final goodbye, so I’m glad we were able to come down to say farewell to Gana and spend time with family.

Sunday we were able to have lunch with one of my dear friends whose on TDY at Maxwell. He and I graduated high school together in Montana and my parents were his sponsor family when he went to the Air Force Academy. He was deployed during my wedding and will be on his TDY still for Rae’s wedding, so it was special to get to see him again! We also got to meet our dear friends son who joined the world a couple weeks ago and wish his older sister a happy birthday – she just turned three. It was sweet to celebrate old friendships and new, little lives in the midst of the heaviness of the weekend. It was a poetic balance to say goodbye to someone we loved at the end of her life and hello to someone we love at the beginning of his life.

Ithaca Day Four

Today I’m recapping our last full day in Ithaca, last Friday! We visited two state parks – Buttermilk Falls and Watkins Glen and had fun visiting a winery and the cider house we loved from a few days prior.

We started our day with a walk to the Ithaca Coffee Co. to grab coffee and breakfast. I had a latte and an egg biscuit and William had a cappuccino and an egg bagel. After breakfast we walked back to the hotel and headed to Wegman’s to grab a picnic lunch. I got a harvest salad, cherry tomatoes and a peach and William chose a beef on weck, a Cuban and a peach.

Once we had lunch packed in the coolers we breaded to Buttermilk Falls State Park. This park was pretty and would be great for company picnics or scout troop outings if you lived close, but was pretty underwhelming. Normally you can swim at the base of the falls, but the falls were pretty dried up when we went, so it just wasn’t as impressive as we had been told it was. We hiked the falls and then decided to head out to a different state park.

William decided to head to Watkins Glen State Park since it’s ranked the highest of the state parks in the Finger Lakes region. This park was packed! It was beautiful though. We started on the Gorge Trail which was stunning, and when we reached the end of that trail we climbed the set of steep stairs up to the picnic area and enjoyed the lunch we’d picked up earlier. Instead of hiking back along the packed Gorge Trail, we took the Indian Trail back where we saw hardly anyone, but missed the beautiful Gorge views of the earlier trail. They were doing construction in parts of the park, so we definitely want to go back and explore more when the construction is complete.

After our hike, we drove back to Ithaca to get showered and ready to go out. Our first stop was to Thirsty Owl vineyards where we did a tasting and purchased two bottles we’d tried – a red blend and a white that had won awards for the vineyard. We really liked their property and wines and will definitely visit again! After our quick tasting we headed back to the Finger Lakes Cider House from earlier in the week. On Friday nights they have dinner and a musical act and we had loved our previous experience there so we were excited to go back. It was just as enjoyable Friday night! The musical act was a local string band who were really fun and dinner was delicious! We both had the butter braised cabbage with peaches, brown rice and pulled pork dish. We loved dinner so much, we asked for the recipe of the cabbage and have worked to recreate it at home. The ciders from Kite and String are incredible and I just can’t recommend insisting them enough if you ever go to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail near Ithaca.

Our trip to this beautiful area of New York was so relaxing and full of so much good company, delicious food, tasty drinks and stunning views! We look forward to taking family who visit up to Ithaca and exploring more in the future!

Ithaca Day Four

Today I’m recapping our last full day in Ithaca, last Friday! We visited two state parks – Buttermilk Falls and Watkins Glen and had fun visiting a winery and the cider house we loved from a few days prior.

We started our day with a walk to the Ithaca Coffee Co. to grab coffee and breakfast. I had a latte and an egg biscuit and William had a cappuccino and an egg bagel. After breakfast we walked back to the hotel and headed to Wegman’s to grab a picnic lunch. I got a harvest salad, cherry tomatoes and a peach and William chose a beef on weck, a Cuban and a peach.

Once we had lunch packed in the coolers we breaded to Buttermilk Falls State Park. This park was pretty and would be great for company picnics or scout troop outings if you lived close, but was pretty underwhelming. Normally you can swim at the base of the falls, but the falls were pretty dried up when we went, so it just wasn’t as impressive as we had been told it was. We hiked the falls and then decided to head out to a different state park.

William decided to head to Watkins Glen State Park since it’s ranked the highest of the state parks in the Finger Lakes region. This park was packed! It was beautiful though. We started on the Gorge Trail which was stunning, and when we reached the end of that trail we climbed the set of steep stairs up to the picnic area and enjoyed the lunch we’d picked up earlier. Instead of hiking back along the packed Gorge Trail, we took the Indian Trail back where we saw hardly anyone, but missed the beautiful Gorge views of the earlier trail. They were doing construction in parts of the park, so we definitely want to go back and explore more when the construction is complete.

After our hike, we drove back to Ithaca to get showered and ready to go out. Our first stop was to Thirsty Owl vineyards where we did a tasting and purchased two bottles we’d tried – a red blend and a white that had won awards for the vineyard. We really liked their property and wines and will definitely visit again! After our quick tasting we headed back to the Finger Lakes Cider House from earlier in the week. On Friday nights they have dinner and a musical act and we had loved our previous experience there so we were excited to go back. It was just as enjoyable Friday night! The musical act was a local string band who were really fun and dinner was delicious! We both had the butter braised cabbage with peaches, brown rice and pulled pork dish. We loved dinner so much, we asked for the recipe of the cabbage and have worked to recreate it at home. The ciders from Kite and String are incredible and I just can’t recommend insisting them enough if you ever go to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail near Ithaca.

Our trip to this beautiful area of New York was so relaxing and full of so much good company, delicious food, tasty drinks and stunning views! We look forward to taking family who visit up to Ithaca and exploring more in the future!

Ithaca Day Three

Thursday morning we started with a short walk to Waffle Frolic on the Ithaca Commons. I had the gluten free waffle with homemade lemon curd and a dirty chai, and William enjoyed a buttermilk waffle with local maple syrup and a cafe ah lait. It was really enjoyable!

After breakfast we walked back to the hotel and headed to the Botanical Gardens and Arboretum at Cornell to explore since Cornell is known for their agricultural focus. My favorite part of the Botanical Gardens was the Herb Garden; it was laid out in a variety of sections from ancient herbs to religious and mystic plants to herbs for tea and beyond. I loved the design of the garden and got ideas for what to plant and try to cultivate in our own garden. It felt very English in how lush and full the Gardens were and I love that – it feels so homey and welcoming!

We also wondered through the rhododendrons and wildflower areas before heading to the Arboretum to walk through the gorgeous varieties of trees and around the ponds. This area of campus was stunning and I look forward to visiting again in the autumn when we can go to the apple orchards and purchase some of the varieties grown, created and currently being tested by the students and faculty at Cornell. There is genuinely something so restoring and refreshing about spending time in gardens and around trees!

After several hours spent surrounded by gorgeous beauty, we headed to the Ithaca Beer Co. for lunch and for William to be able to try some of their beers. I really enjoyed their house made root beer and also tried a new local cider and a local rose during the hours we spent there. They had a great tap room, gorgeous views on their outside patio, a biergarten, and fun lawn games to enjoy. We leisurely enjoyed just sitting, trying new drinks, people watching and playing corn hole.

I love that at the restaurants we tried in Ithaca so much of the food was not only farm-to-table, but many times at least part of the meal was from that restaurant’s own garden. That was the case for my delicious salad I enjoyed alongside my mister basket of French fries – definitely too many fries to eat by myself!

After our fun afternoon at the brewery we were both feeling tired, so we stopped by Wegman’s to grab some dinner to eat at our room and went back to read and relax.

Day three was full of so much beauty and such a fun day with William!

Ithaca Day 2

Day two started out by a walk to get coffee and bagels at Collegetown Bagels. I had a Chai Charger, or a dirty chai as I've always known them, and a salt bagel with cream cheese and William had a cafe au lait and a sesame bagel with strawberry jam. We each really enjoyed our coffee and had half of each bagel. The salted bagel was really salty, too salty honestly, and the jam they used was really good. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in Ithaca and their sandwich menu for lunch looked extensive and delicious!

After our morning chatting outside the bagel shop and watching people, we came back to the hotel to grab swimsuits and our backpack to head to one of the local state parks, Taughannock. It was beautiful! We did the upper rim trail for about a half mile of the nine mile loop and then we headed down to do the base trail that went closer to the waterfall. We really enjoyed exploring the Falls and the easy trail before heading to walk around the lake portion of the state park which includes Cayuga Lake. It was such a gorgeous day, but the water was really chilly!

While we did not boat, you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, and paddle boards or bring your own boats or jet skis. There was so much activity! The whole park seemed so great for families between the easy trail, swimming access, playgrounds, and boat activities. It was fun to see families and day camp groups enjoying the park too.

In the afternoon we checked out two stops along the Cayuga Wine Trail. First we headed to Bellwether Wine & Cider Cellar. William did the cider tasting and I did the wine tasting. The wines were four Rieslings and a table red. Three of the four Rieslings were dryer and I really enjoyed that, because most of the time Rieslings are too sweet for my taste. However, one was considered their driest and I enjoyed it enough to purchase a bottle! William seemed to enjoy most of the ciders and selected the King Baldwin to purchase, so I'm looking forward to trying that soon!

Our second stop was at the Finger Lakes Cider House, home to Kite & String, formerly Good Times Cider, but they also had three other local cider farms represented in their tasting menu and shop. We really enjoyed our time here! I did two tastings, so I could try most of the extensive tasting menu, William did one tasting, I got a glass of cider and William had two. We also had their cheese plate which featured three different types of cheese from three different local dairies which was cool. We ended up purchasing three of our favorite ciders – one I loved, one Williams loved, and one we both loved! We each enjoyed so many of their ciders though and I know we'll be buying more from them again – and hopefully bringing friends and family to visit there too we enjoyed it so much!

After our tastings we grabbed ice cream at a local creamery on the side of the road. William had the pralines and cream and I had the salted caramel. Then we headed back to the state park to sit by the lake and enjoy the last hours of the day before heading back to the hotel for showers and bed.

It was such a fun day chasing waterfalls, hanging out by the lake and trying local New York wines and ciders!

Ithaca Day 1

Last week we decided to take a week and visit Ithaca! The city slogan is Ithaca is Gorges and it's true! There are many gorges and waterfalls, but it's also gorgeous!

When we first got to town we headed straight to Cornell to walk around and explore. It was so hilly! We did see a couple waterfalls and the campus really is beautiful, despite not looking like the buildings were well planned out. William and I looked at each other at one point and said, do you think they just found an empty space and decided to put a building here? It was great for getting our exercise in climbing around campus though and I'm excited to visit again in the future.

After Cornell, we parked in the garage near the Ithaca Commons and headed out in search of lunch. We decided upon a Mexican restaurant that was busy (always a good sign!) and had a delicious lunch! We tried their salsa trio for an appetizer and then William had a trio of soft tacos (beef, chicken & chorizo) and I had a carnitas platter. I also enjoyed a tasty and refreshing margarita and William began his trial of the Ithaca beers. We really enjoyed it all!

After lunch we just walked and wondered for a bit around the commons, down to a little farmer's market, and into a couple stores like Mockingbird Paperie. At the paperie I got my new planner for the year, a recipe box I've had my eye on and some new recipe cards from Rifle Paper Co. We also wondered over to the Ithaca sale House for a couple drinks and I enjoyed a new to me New York cider called Original Sin. It was good, a bit sweet at the front, but I liked the tart on the back of each sip.

After drinks we walked around a bit more before checking into our hotel, the Hotel Ithaca. The hotel is undergoing renovations to modernize their aesthetic and services and we were in one of the recently redone rooms (the whole wing is remodeled) and it was so nice! Hardwood floors, soft beds, a nice size shower and bathroom. It was really convenient to everything and a great place to stay! I'm thankful for the deal they were running this week that allowed us to stay there!

After we checked in, we took a nap and then got ready for dinner. We walked down to The Boathouse which is on the bay across from the crew houses for Cornell and Ithaca College. We sat on the patio and the views were beautiful! Our served was wonderful and the food was all delicious! I had a cup of the lobster bisque as an appetizer, pan seared scallops over mushroom risotto for my main course and a slice of key lime pie for dessert. I also tried a local wine since this area has a lot of vineyards and I really enjoyed the lightness of it! It's called Cayuga White by ??? William had a cup of the clam chowder, roasted scallops over fingerling potatoes, asparagus and burst tomatoes, and cheesecake. He drank another local Ithaca beer. It was such a perfect dinner! The food was incredible, the view was stunning and the company was the best around!

After dinner we walked back to the hotel and I crashed. I was exhausted between all the walking we did up and down the hills and around downtown Ithaca (10 miles!) and from Mavis' early wake up calls of 4 a.m. these last few days.