Friday, March 28, 2014

Plantasia: March 22nd, 2014

There’s one thing I love about the end of March (besides the fact that I’m off snowplowing duty!) – it’s time for Plantasia, the annual garden show at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. It’s a great place to shop, get ideas and just get an overall taste of spring – while trying to convince yourself (especially after this year!) that, yes, spring is REALLY coming!

This year’s theme was “Party in the Garden” – this display had one of the best party themes going!

There was a lot of outdoor lifestyle displays, like this backyard golf course:

…and this cool treehouse (it just screams Mayan temple to me!):

There were also lots of succulents…

…and lots of whimsy!

One thing I wasn’t crazy about: too many “non-garden” sales pitches. I understand grill pans and wine for the party theme, but handmade soaps and candles are a little off-topic. I was also really hoping there would be more landscapers at the show who don’t work exclusively with one type of stone product – because I have all the stone I need for my project, I just want it rearranged!

Monday, February 24, 2014

And so the calendar begins to fill…

In the midst of all this snow, cold and outright dreariness, there are a couple of things that are bright lights in my cruel world – 1) gardening season is on the way and 2) filling my calendar with cool things to do in the spring, summer and fall!

One of my favorite ways to travel is via organized bus trips – leave the driving and the parking to someone else! Last year, I went on bus trips to Toronto and the Bronx for Yankees games, QVC and King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, and Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes region. This year, I’ve got five bus trips on the radar, four of which are booked: Yankees games in Toronto and Cleveland, Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, NASCAR at The Glen and a trip to Seneca Allegany Casino to see (some of) the Osmonds…don’t judge, I’m reliving my childhood!

I’ve got a couple other trips planned, as well as some day trips and some races out in central NY. Then there’s the Garden Festival, other fun stuff happening in and around Buffalo, (free or cheap) concerts…see how the calendar fills up?!?!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Farewell to the Captain

It’s been tough being a NY Yankees fan for the last few years: first Jorge Posada, then Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, and now Derek Jeter. The last member of the “Core Four” has announced that 2014 will be his last season, ending one heck of a run as a Yankee.

all photos:

I remember Dad talking about this kid at short stop who was going to be phenomenal – I snicker when I say “kid” because he’s only a couple years younger than me, but let’s face it, back then I was a kid and so was he! Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to see all four members of the “Core Four” play in Toronto, Cleveland and the Bronx, including watching the “Sandman” enter Yankee Stadium to the strains of Metallica. After Mo’s amazing send off last year, and the heroics displayed by Pettitte in his final game, I can only imagine what this year’s farewell tour will look like.

I’ve said since Posada left that I wish the “Core Four” had retired together so they could all go into the Baseball Hall of Fame together. They might not all make the Hall, but I’m pretty sure there will be a couple more trips to Cooperstown in my future. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Elegant Builders Raceway Park – August 17th, 2013

The track formerly known as Lancaster Speedway and Dunn Tire Raceway Park hosted its big annual Modified event, the Tommy Druar-Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110, on Saturday, August 17th, and it had the potential to be part of a big weekend for Erick Rudolph, who won the $13,000-to-win Summernationals at Ransomville Speedway the night before.

Erick Rudolph

Some of the biggest names in Modified racing in the NY/PA area were at the track for this special event to honor the brothers-in-law who both lost their lives in Modified racing accidents, including Matt Hirschman, Rudolph, Chuck Hossfeld, Billy Putney and Andy Jankowiak, who was honoring his father and uncle that night.

Andy Jankowiak
The night didn’t end with a perfect weekend for Rudolph, but he was the runner-up – the win belonged to – who else? – Hirschman.

Matt Hirschman (60) leading Mike Feibelkorn Jr. (10) and Karl Hehr (59)

Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 travels: New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua

As part of my recent bus trip to Canandaigua, we visited the New York Wine and Culinary Center, located at 800 S. Main St.

The Center’s mission, according to its website, “is to educate, engage and excite our visitors by celebrating and showcasing New York’s finest in wine, food and agriculture. Whether you have 30 minutes or an entire day, The Center offers you an array of inviting experiences in a setting that proudly highlights the natural beauty, rich history and agricultural bounty of New York State. Through supportive partnerships with area farmers, winemakers, artisans and entrepreneurs, The New York State Wine & Culinary Center brings you the best of New York, all in one beautiful and scenic spot on the northern shore of Canandaigua Lake.”

We sat in on a class in the Educational Theatre, which had a very nice set-up for a cooking class. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the entrée presented, but the salad wasn’t bad and the dessert was unbelievable (I do love peaches!)!

I do, however, intend to make a trip back to the NYWCC someday, because in looking over their class list, I’m very impressed: from apple pie baking workshops to bread baking to chocolate truffles and homemade pizza, there are actually too many reasons for me to want to go back – I wish it was closer, I’d be in some serious trouble!

Find the class list and more information on the NYWCC at

All photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013 travels: Sweet Expressions in Canandaigua

My recent bus trip to Canandaigua included a side trip to Sweet Expressions, located at 169 S. Main St. in Canandaigua. To call this a candy store is an understatement – it’s confectionary bliss! Silky chocolates, bark of all kinds, truffles, sugar -free items and much more line the shelves. There is also a gourmet food section featuring foods from New York State and the Finger Lakes region, which Canandaigua is a part of.

One of the samples we received upon arrival was a piece of salted milk chocolate bark – I didn’t understand the whole salted chocolate movement until the moment I tasted this! Instead of using sea salt, they used a locally-produced coarse-grain salt – just downright delicious!

As a parting gift, we got this beautiful milk chocolate grape cluster – signifying the wine region – filled with chocolate cabernet wine sauce from Arbor Hill Winery, located at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake.

Check out Sweet Expressions online at

all photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 travels: Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Sonnenberg Mansion from the Italian Garden
Mom and I took a bus trip to Canandaigua, NY (Finger Lakes region) on Thursday, August 22nd to check out, among other things, Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion. Built from 1885 to 1887, the mansion was the home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson – incidentally, my grandmother was also Mary Thompson, but not this one!

Inside the Mansion

There are many different gardens at Sonnenberg, with a Japanese Garden, a Sub-Rosa Garden, a Rose Garden and an Italian Garden among them. There is also a conservatory that reminded me of a smaller version of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

Italian Garden from the Mansion

This reminds me of a Thomas Kinkade print

One problem with my visit – not nearly long enough to check out all the gardens! I guess I’ll just have to go back again next year on my own :)

The Mansion
Find out more about Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion at