Sunday, August 30, 2009

The edge of nowhere

I have heard it said that Charles and I have moved the middle of nowhere. Heck! I might have even uttered that once, but I have to tell y'all that after the driving that Charles and I have done this weekend, we do not live anywhere near the middle of nowhere! I can now say that I have been to the middle of nowhere and have returned to tell all about it. Charles and I were invited by some very sweet friends to join them at a weekend rodeo event. We were supposed to go on Friday night and stay until Sunday, but because Friday was so rainy we decided just to go on Saturday instead. The rodeo was great fun and I have lots to tell and show about that, but right now I'm gonna share a different tale.

On our way to the rodeo Charles was consulting his printed map from Google. He was using a Google map at his own choosing even though Ann had provided directions via a text message. Charles being Charles decided on using his Google map. The Google thing took us the back way. (Cue the "something-bad-is-gonna-happen" music!) We start driving on an interstate and after a couple of turns after our exit, we find ourselves on a back country road. This looks normal, like a lot of the roads I am becomming familiar with. Then the road starts to change. It is not a 2-lane road anymore, it is about a 1 1/2-lane dirt road. As we drive further on this road, the trees seem to close in on us and in spots grow over the road creating a tunnel effect that blocks out most of the sunlight. With little light and a dense tree scape, it made me feel like we could easily have been swallowed up by the woods. I asked a number of times if this was the right way, and after consulting the Google God, I was told we were doing fine. I was spotting fewer and fewer houses, and the ones I saw seemed straight from a movie set-a few dilapidated outer buildings, overgrown yards, inside furniture used on the outside, rusted farm equipment scattered across the yard, smoke coming from battered containers... I jokingly turned to Charles at one point and said, "Paddle faster...I hear banjos!" After another 10 minutes on this same road I saw no more houses, just the hint of a house here and there like a mailbox at the road...a path cut up the mountain...the sound of a dog barking from the woods. It was getting darker and I knew that if we didn't find the rodeo grounds soon, we would have to back track to the interstate and follow Ann's directions and we would be driving these roads in the dark. Charles didn't want to admit that his precious Google map had gotten us lost because...well...because he has testicles! But he did let out a maniacal laugh at one point and admit that we were possibly in trouble! We came to a fork in the road that Charles couldn't find on the map and had 3 (!!) houses near. At one of the houses there was a teenage boy standing out front with his dog and I rolled down my window and asked where the road was that we were supposed to be on. He polietly asked, "Are you looking for the rodeo?" (How in the world he knew that two people in a Vibe with Florida plates and 2 chihuahuas on their laps were looking for a rodeo is beyond me!) After following the boy's directions and a few minutes extra for Charles to pull out that blasted map to "orient himslef" we found the rodeo sight! Thank goodness and a teenage boy!

Yes we do live off a dirt road. Yes there are miles and miles of forest behind our house. Yes deer and the occasional bear visit our yard. But Casa Peck is 10 minutes from downtown Manisfield, 8 minutes to the Walmart, 12 minutes to McDonalds...we are far from living in the middle of nowhere. Maybe we just sit on the edge of it...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Should be charging an admission!

Here is tonight's entertainment! Charles has been thinking of a clever way to rid the wall of the yellow jackets. His idea is to super-heat the area and blow them out from the inside that they will think it is an undesirable hive and abandon it. Good luck my man! This is actually a funny show to watch and I couldn't stop myself from snapping a few shots. I really think I could have sold tickets to this one!

From the inside of the house, Charles removed the outlet, cut a hole in a storage container, attached my hair dryer and is blowing the wasps out of the hive! I am trying to convince him to add a bit of pesticide, but he is such a numskull about using toxic chemicals even in major circumstances that it is a tough battle!

At the hive opening outside, Charles is laying in wait to suck them up in the vacuum cleaner. You can put your hand on the hose and feel them flying in!

Now he gets smart and sets it up as a hands free death machine!

Here he is laughing at the wasps hanging on for dear life!

My question to him was what was he going to do with the vacuum bag full of angry yellow jackets. He grinned and said, "Tonight's a good night for a fire!"

Monday, August 24, 2009


(D242) Finger meet Fiskars!

(D241) Supper tonight...veggie Italian sausages with grilled mushrooms & onions is a Guinness gravy!

(D240) Elphaba, the kitty, finds a sun spot. (PS-upper left side of the photo is where the bear appeared from)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The coffee shop

Last weekend went by with not much happening because we never made any plans. We decided to just go with the flow. Well, the flow went and we stayed. That was last weekend-this weekend I marched into the bedroom this morning and said, "This is what we're doing, get dressed!" We started our morning off at one of the coffee shops in Mansfield, The Night and Day Cafe. We had breakfast sandwiches and coffee. I had the white chocolate=hazelnut that Leisa and I discovered was so tasty while we were in Utah last. YUM! we were sitting there enjoying a leisurely breakfast I was people watching. A favorite pastime of mine. What I noticed was there was a very unique and diverse group of people coming in for coffee and whatnot. When we arrived there was a farmer sitting in the front, bump-out, old fashioned store-front window, a college professor sitting in the back reading his morning paper and a clearly foreign couple trying to decide what to order before they headed to PA's Grand Canyon (I think they might have been Italian). Then after we sat down, in walks a couple of college students who had just rolled out of bed(I know this because they were still in their PJs(, a woman in a business suit who seemed in a hurry and a family straight from church. Next comes in two motorcycle dudes dressed in their leathers and had bandannas on their heads. They take an outdoor seat when in walks a cowboy and his lady. He was in shiny black boots, a HUGE belt buckle and a HUGE black cowboy hat. They order and I notice a cyclist coming in with his super tight shorts on followed by a snooty, uptight mom with her family. It was odd looking around at so many different "types" of people in that tiny little cafe in our tiny little town. All I could think was, "how cool is this?" Now if I could get someone to open up an Indian joint somewhere in Mansfield life would be pretty close to perfect!
Oh, and the rest of the day was spent in the big city of Elmira. We did our "city shopping" with stops at Michael's, Staples, Target and Panera. Got some supplies for the Spooktacular Crop, Eclipse in paperback and some Halloween decorations. After that we and saw Inglourious Basterds. It was a fun film. I love me some Tarin-tooty movies-and he re-wrote history in this one!

On the way back home we spotted two kitties on the road very near our house. One young cat and her very new kitten. We stopped and Charles jumped out to give them something to eat. Happens that the only thing we have for them is 1/2 of his chocolate chip cookie from Panera-they ate it! I tried talking him into bringing them back to give them some real cat food, but he wasn't buying it. He did come home and pack a Ziploc with cat food and put in his car because he plans on putting food out for them on his way to work tomorrow. What a softy!
All in all a pretty darn good day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One Hit Wonder-September

Here is the sample I created for next months One Hit Wonder class at Whim So Doodle. If you are in the Tampa Bay area, you need to head over to the Doodle and check out this class. In this class you get the supplies to create a double-sided layout during your lunch hour. Yep! The class is only one hour AND they feed you lunch too!

Head on over to their website to check out this and more classes:
Whim So Doodle's classes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dinner with friends/P365

Tonight we had some company come over for supper. Before they got here Charles and I sat out on the front porch with the pooches! It was nice, but after our company left, we were back out on the porch with a couple of drinks, pooches in laps just watching the stars and enjoying the 69 degree weather, the motion of the rocking chairs and the fantastic breeze blowing through the trees. Imagine, if you will, my view this evening as XM's Cafe station plays acoustic music in the background...Luna in my lap, the porch railing softly lit by the inside lamps, darkness beyond, tree line illuminated by the moon and every now and then by lightning bursts, fire flies flitting around the yard and thousands of tiny stars twinkling everywhere in the sky. For me, life just doesn't get any better.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A happy surprise/P365

This morning the mail lady pulled up the drive, honked her horn and when I went out the greet her she said, "Good morning, Sweet Potato Queen!" I had no idea what she meant by that, but I took the two packages she had for me and took them inside. After I got my shower, started the laundry, etc I decided to check out those boxes. There were two boxes from the lovely Miss Dianne. She had written on one "Jen Peck, The Sweet Potato Queen"! What a hoot!

I rip open the boxes to find one filled with tons of tiny wrapped packages all in Halloween colors and the other filled with...sweet potatoes! I've got to ask her just why sweet potatoes, but I know I'll be making Sweet Potato Bisque tomorrow night!

I had a grand time opening up all my goodies. Someone knows how much I love Halloween, (and that there is NO Joann's up here-yet!), and filled me up with new spooky stamps and embellishments. There were two sets of gloves in there. I'm gonna need gloves and one was even Halloween-themed. The envelopes were great and I'm saving those to give out AND there was my cute little jacket that Dianne had altered for me! Wow! What a great afternoon going through my boxes!

Thanks 'lil missy!

Charles Schultz Philosophy

I got this email in September of 2006 and I've kept it in my inbox for awhile. Now I'm gonna share it with y'all and delete it from my inbox.

Charles Schultz Philosophy:

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read the e-mail straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fantastic supper!

Tonight I cooked the most yummy supper for Charles. I adapted it from a recipe from the Real Age website. Here you go!

Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich :

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4  large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, sliced
1  large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium veggie broth
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese
4  whole-wheat buns, split and toasted

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, oregano and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted and soft, about 7 minutes.
Reduce heat to low; sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Stir in cream cheese. Stir in broth and soy sauce; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, lay cheese slices on top of the vegetables, cover and let stand until melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
Divide the mixture into 4 portions with a spatula, leaving the melted cheese layer on top. Scoop a portion onto each toasted bun and serve immediately.

Serves 4


Today is a banner day! We moved into this beautiful home on July 3rd and today is August 18th. In my book that is about a month and a half. As of today I finally have the trash situation figured out, put into place and settled! When we settled on this house, we knew that trash burning would be in our future, but we are city-folk and had no idea what that was all about. Our first trial at burning resulted in a few accidental, mini-explosions of hair spray bottles and unlit fireworks. Yikes! So we did some internet research and found out what we could and should burn. This left us with lots of stuff that we couldn't burn. Plastics, glass, metals, etc. Those were mostly recycleable stuff so I set up a recycling area in the unfinished part of the basement. I sorted as I thought I should, hoping to find out exactly were the closest recycling center was. So now we have piles of trash, "to burn", "recycle" and "other". What to do with the "other"? We didn't have a truck come by and pick up, so how does this work? I asked neighbors, folks from town and looked on the internet. Found out that you can get trash pick up up here, but there is no monthly fee. Turns out that you head to the Pump N Pantry (love that name!) to pick up color coded, pre-paid stickers to go on your trash bags. You call the waste management folks, find out your area's day and get put on the route. Stickers for our area are pink and cost $2. That would be $2 per bag. You put the sticker on your bag (make it a big one!) and put it out at the street. Easy? Easy! Now I still have mountains of recycling to take in and find out the nearest drop off is a few towns over. I put it on my calendar of "to do"s and then when I am at the post office one morning I get to chatting with this extremely nice (but very talkative) gentleman who happens to organize/host one of the mobile recycling units at his house each month. And guess what? He is about 5 minutes from our house! How cool is that? Don only collects #1 and #2 plastic, so that means I still have to travel to Blossberg every now and then to drop off my #3s and up. So last weekend Charles and I loaded it all up, dropped it off and are as happy as recycling clams!
Now I am sure you are bored to tears with my garbage tale so far, but I am very excited to have the big rubber (American made) "to burn" can very handily located between the kitchen and the back door and hidden from sight. Very excited to have assembled a plastic shelving unit that holds our 5 different kinds of recycling bins-glass, paper/cardboard, metal, #1s and #2s and #3 and up. Very excited to have the mini garbage can under the sink for the "non-burnable" and to have a big area in the unfinished basement to hold the bags for pick up!
Who knew that it would take me a month and a half to get something as mundane as garbage figured out?! Not me!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Critter update and P365

(D238) A visit to Agway.

(D233) Kiwi waits for Daddy while he gets directions and chocolate malts, downtown Mansfield.

(D221) Turbines on the wind farms in NY-we are getting a big wind farm just up the road a piece from us.

(D231) One of the reasons I love Charles: he really loves animals! When Luna wasn't feeling too well (URI) instead of sitting in his new rocker, he laid out on the front porch with her so he could pat her. What a guy!

(D234) Still sweeping up dead or almost dead yellow jackets from the all over the house.

(D227) The outlet where the yellow jackets are coming in from. You can hear the "hive noise" all the way to the living room! It's a bit unnerving.

Yesterday Charles and I were driving home from picking up our pizza at Papa V's (they deliver 5 miles outside of Mansfield, and we are a little over 6...drat!) while he started grumbling about the lack of wildlife we have seen since moving to the new place. I looked at him funny and said that I didn't know what he was talking about! Since moving here I've seen: raccoons, squirrels, a chipmunk (my first ever!), two turkey hens, about 12 1/2 groundhogs, 13 living and 2 dead dear, all kinds of birds, bats every night and one bear. That seems like a lot to me. In an email, my dear friend, Dee, confused my singular bear sighting as a multiple bear sighting and I wrote a funny reply that I'm sharing with y'all in case there are any more of you thinking that it was more than one bear running around in my yard:

Um...let's not get too crazy here! It was a singular bear. Not plural. I do not have bearS running around my yard. Just the one. He was a little dude too. Not at all scary. Well, not too scary anyways. And he was running away from the house, not towards. I mean since he was a little bear, he shouldn't be all that scary. Right? I mean, one bear? Running away from the house. Not bad. I can handle that. I could probably walk the dogs further than the bottom of the stairs. Right? It's not like I've seen a bear in the whole month we've been up here before now. They are not waiting at the edge of the property watching me. Surely they are not doing that. It was just one small bear. Way too grown up for it's mama to be close by either. Very mature, but small bear. Everybody says that bears are more scared of me than I am of them. That bear sure looked scared-it was running for cripes sake! Yeah, that was one scared bear. I'm sure he is too scared to ever come back here. He probably told his bear buddies to stay away from the scary property, too. Just one little scared bear. That's all...

Friday, August 14, 2009


(Day 231) Sunset from the second bathroom window. Not a very good photo, but I love the colors and the barn that peeps through the trees.

In all the bear excitement I totally forgot about another thing that happened that same day. When I came home from running around I discovered about 100 bumble bees buzzing around the bay window-on the inside of the house! I had NO idea what to do, so I got some bug spray and let loose. After about 20 minutes they were all down and I used the vacuum to clean them up. I called Charles and explained to him what happened and he said he would talk to one of his co-workers who is an apiarist and might be able to help. After I got off the phone, I saw about 30 more bees in the same location. I then freaked out, thinking it was some sort of plague or poltergeist thing until I noticed an outlet near the window that was completely covered in bees-the bee super highway if you will. I sprayed again and this time got the outlet too. All the "outlet bees" disapeared into the outlet and I got closer and could hear a GIANT wooshey-buzzing sound coming from the wall. Turns out there is an active hive IN THE WALL! So, I go on another killing spree and get rid of the last in the house and procede to tape up the outlet so that they couldn't continue to come inside. That was a couple of days ago. We are waiting for the apiarist to come out and there continue to be about 30 bees a day that get through the tape. Never a dull moment...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I talked a good long time with Ginni yesterday. Nothing like catching up with a good 'ole friend! Made my day. Ginni requested that I start posting my P365 photos each day (that I can remember!) I think she wants to see seasons change vicariously! Well, here are a few from these past weeks and I'll try to add them each day-or at least each day of interest.

(Day 222) Beautiful vases on display at the Corning Museum of Glass.

(Day 224) Kiwi showing the 'rat terrier' part of her personality and trying to flush out critters.

(Day 225) My emergency fern shipment from Val's Baskets.

(Day 229) Charles works on getting our mail box up. The lady at the post office will be so pleased.

(Day 230) The Painted Pantry in Wellsboro.

(Day 231) I knew someone was trying to log onto my Facebook!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It happened....

I was sitting in my favorite chair catching the last few minutes of Kitchen Nightmares while the salmon was finishing up in the oven when I spot a black thing moving in our yard. I think to myself, "My, that is a pretty big cat." Then it starts to move and I think some more, "That's not a cat. That's a (gulp) BEAR!" Now I guess that I didn't just think it, I actually shouted it 'cause I heard Charles shout back from the potty, "Get a camera! Get a camera!" I watched the bear run from the front of our yard to the back of our yard and the entire time I shouted, "BEAR! BEAR!! BEEEAARRRR!!" It was running, not taking it's time to stop and smell anything or possibly stake us out for a future attack. Needless to say I was gobsmacked! Charles came running out of the bathroom in his boxers asking, "Where is it? Where is it?" and ran out to the porch in his undies really excited to see this bear. (What a dork!) The bear was long gone...and so are my evening morning walks...any dog walking that isn't just steps from the house...night time star gazing...walking from the house to the barn/garage...eating dinner outside...walking to the neighbor's long.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One of my favorite movie lines...

One of my favorite movie lines is from Jerry McGuire and goes something like this, "Help me, to help you." I use this all the time when I get some unsatisfactory service and I was thinking that over the last few days as I am trying to negotiate the purchase and installation of a window-unit air conditioner. First I try Lowe's. They charge me $35 to come out to inspect the spot that the AC will go into, make recommendations on what size and type of unit I'll need. Once that is established, they sell me a unit and set up installation. But wait! How can I get an installation if I am in PA and the unit is in FL? This will require my signature. The lovely Lowe's dude tells me that he cannot do the install because they need my signature on the contract. Um..OK. How can I get the contract? He suggests that I drive to my nearest Lowe's and he will fax it to them for me to sign. That should do it. Nope. As much as I like Lowe's the closest to me is about an hour away. "Is there another way", I wonder to the dude? He doesn't think so. (Now is the part in my brain where I chant, help me, to help you.) I suggest that he fax to me directly and I could sign it and fax it right back to him. You could see the light bulb go off over Tampa from here on my mountain! OK. It's all set, signed, paid for and a date for the install has been picked. About 1 day before the install I get a call saying that the unit isn't the correct unit that is needed (as determined in the original visit) and that Lowe's does not even carry the one I need. Refund. OK. I'll move on to Sears. Sears is a venerable establishment. They'll have what I want and the customer service as well. So I call the Sears in Tampa thinking that there is where I would contact if I was needing a AC unit in Tampa. Right? Wrong! Yes, they have the slide-out unit I need. Yes, they can install it. No, they cannot complete the transaction over the phone. Why? Because I want to use a Visa and not a Sears card. (only have the one credit card, sorry) Huh? No, sorry, we cannot take your credit card over the phone. I ask the Sears employee what my options are to which she has no idea. Her suggestion? Take care of it in Florida. You've got to be kidding me, right? (Again with the personal me, to help you) I get a little squinky on the phone and say, "I have money that I would like to exchange for goods and services. Do you want my money? Will you be able to provide me with an AC?" "We would like your business, but I just don't know how." I thank her, drive to my local Sears in PA and find Jim. Jim the Gem (who happens to sound exactly like John Malkovich-I love John Malkovich!) I explain what I need, he consults a co-worker, a pamphlet and the help desk and in a matter of moments, he has my AC unit ordered, an install date picked and it all paid for! Sigh... Nothing like good old-fashioned customer service where the customer has nothing to do with coming up with the service part. Thanks Jim!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New house photos

Here are some photos from the new house as it looks with all of our stuff in it. I honestly LOVE this house!

This is some of the shelves with my scrapbooking stuff. There are still about a dozen more boxes to unpack, but I have the "essentials".

The wall of embellishments.

Cardstock, inks and more.

Ribbons and patterned papers.

My desk area.

The finished basement with the "library" on the back wall.

The daybed all ready for a visitor or two!

All my lighthouse, fishing and dad's stuff.

The library nook.

The fireplace mantle.

My peas & carrots collection. (From Forrest Gump..."Me and Jenny were like peas and carrots."

Into the hallway with my printer's box.

The favorite chair in the house! So comfy!!!

The hutch in the dining room.

The bar. I'm ready to make some French Martinis!

The coffee cafe in the kitchen.

Looking into the living room from the dining room.

Looking down the hallway from the dining room.


Looking into the kitchen.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another fun night out

Charles' folks came into town for a nice long visit and on their first night in we decided to go to dinner and to Ten West Coffee Shop on Main Street for one of their Friday night music events. It was fantastic! A cozy little coffee shop with people just sitting around listening to a two man band playing acoustic music that sounded like it was from the soundtrack from Oh Brother Where Art Thou. At one point when they did Keep on the Sunny Side of Life, the whole room was singing along! It was so relaxing and wonderful. We met some more people from Mansfield and I don't think I could imagine a better evening. I can honestly say that I am truly taking to this kind of lifestyle...