It’s always hard to find outdoor activities and festivals in the winter season around here. So when I saw there was an outdoor winter festival in Rochester I thought Luke and I could check it out.

Luke and I decided to go to Mendon Ponds Winterfest near Rochester. Winterfest is an outdoor festival put on by several Rochester organizations. It is a very popular event that has more than 5, 000 guests that has been happening for the last 10 years.

The schedule for the festival included snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing races, sled dog races, a fly-in from Mercy Flight Helicopter, and skate-sailing on the pond and more. The events were spread out among the different hills and areas of the park.


So we parked at the northern entrance bundled up and set out to walk around. We first saw the snow-shoeing club who was lending out snowshoes to people for short walks around and talking to them about their planned hikes for the day. Around the corner was also horse drawn carriages for people to get a tour of the park.


We turned to the left and saw the smaller sledding hill and an indoor facility where there were children’s activities including face painting, petting zoo/animal education, puzzles, games, and crafts such as pinecone bird feeders. They were also selling warm food including chili and mac and cheese to the adults as they watched their kids slide down the hill.


We got a map of the park along with the activities lists and decided to walk to the pond. It was not very windy so the skate-sailing demos were over for the day. But people were still invited out onto the frozen pond and the sails brought bright color to the grey sky. There at a covered picnic area was also  information about local fishing and hunting in the area.


We went over to the field where the snow-shoe races had just finished and went inside a meeting room. There we found information about many winter outdoor clubs and organizations in the area. We talked with the Nordic Ski group who hosted the cross-country skiing races earlier in the day and the local orienteering group who also gave a sample course that we wish we had known about earlier in the day. We decided we may be interested in orienteering and signed up to get information. We picked up a few outdoor organization’s newsletters and got a cup of coco.


As we shared our coco we watched the older kids come down the larger hill by the field. We also waited for the mercy flight helicopter to fly-in and land on the field. We enjoyed watching everyone walk their dogs who were also enjoying exploring the snow. After this we decided to take the long walk back to the car as activites were wrapping up for the day and we were getting hungry.


We enjoyed getting out on our winter walk, learning more about ways to get exercise and get outside in the winter, and watching families enjoying the cold season.

Holiday Season part 3

We got back to the Greene house Christmas Eve’s eve and helped with some last minute Christmas present planning.

On Christmas Eve we had a family dinner with all of Luke’s family and some family friends. We then took naps or watched movies for the rest of the afternoon so we could go to midnight mass. We went to midnight mass as a family and John (Luke’s father) played guitar for carols before and during the mass.

We came back, had eggnog, and helped to fill stockings then went to bed.


Early the next morning in our PJ’s everyone opened stockings, then John put on the santa hat and started handing out presents. Luke even took over for a short time so John could have a break and open his own presents.


Later in the day the whole family was able to get play time with the niece and nephew and their Christmas gifts.


We loved spending time with our family.

We left the next day back to New York. Then we had a quiet New Years’ Eve just the two of us. As our joint Christmas present we bought a fondue set. We decided to continue our tradition of cheese and chocolate fondue at home. We used chardonnay with blue cheese, swiss, and goat cheese. Then we did merlot with white and dark chocolate for dessert.


It was a relaxing evening. The next day we play some games and enjoyed a nice steak dinner.


That was the end of our holiday season.

Home Improvement Update

We are slowly making progress on changes to the house.  Old shelving and nails from pictures have been removed from the walls downstairs and the holes filled them in. We also picked up paint for the walls and trim so the next step is to scrub the walls and touch-up paint where it’s needed.

Also very exciting news: the bright orange street light out side our bedroom is gone. The NYSEG came by and took down the pole and all! So we finally moved into our master bedroom.


With some Christmas money we are starting to decorate the house; buying rugs and curtains. It took Luke some convincing that they were more than just decorations. But once he realized the heating bill for our place and that the rugs and curtains can help with insulation he was on board.

We have a wonderful new living room rug. It brings so much more color to the space! And we are waiting for the delivery of thermal curtains for the sliding glass door in the living room and curtain panels for the bedroom.

The piano tuner came back this past week so the piano is now in real working order and Luke is working on creating a workshop space for himself in the back storage/laundry room.

With all of the cold and snow it’s nice to know there are plenty of projects to do in the house while staying warm.

Do you have any winter projects?

Holiday Season Part 2

Sorry it has taken so long to finish my Christmas update. It’s been so cold here in the last week that we were without internet for a few days.

Back to December: We arrived at my parent’s new home in Florence after a rainy drive to the coast on Saturday night. We stayed up late getting a tour of their 1960’s home, hearing about their plans for changes, and catching up with Matt and Stina, my brother and his wife, and their travels.


Next day was our “Christmas Eve” so we did some Christmas baking for the next morning’s traditional Halvorson Christmas breakfast. We also opened one gift early: ticket to ride a board game for the group to play while we were there and enjoyed a couples-team game.


Later in the evening we went downtown Florence to walk around the shops but everything was closed because of the rain and holiday hours. Luke and I took everyone out to dinner at the waterfront Depot then we came back and talked until we decided it was time for Santa to come fill stockings.


The next morning we followed Halvorson Christmas patterns. We opened stockings and then Stina read out-loud an illustrated children’s Christmas story. We then had our sour cream coffee cake and blueberry buckle with scrambled eggs, smoky links, and bacon. Last of all we opened presents.



After enjoying our “Christmas” Morning we decided to take turns joining my parents in their canoe on the Woahink Lake. It was a cool morning but clear and we enjoyed the quiet ride. We decided to then get some coffee at Dutch Bros and walk around the downtown shops that were closed the day before. Later we returned downtown to have our Christmas dinner at Bridgewater Fish House.


We came back to the house after a nice dinner out and watched one of our stocking gifts: Guardians of the Galaxy on a laptop while enjoying ice cream.

Next morning we packed up and went out to lunch before we all hit the road again: my parents and Matt and Stina headed to California and Luke and I back to the Greene house.

Holiday Season Part 1

Well the holiday season came and went by in a whirlwind and now it’s back to the new/old routine for 2015. Luke has been back at work for a week now and I have meetings to prep for the new semester starting this week. But before we move onto the new-year goals I thought I’d share about our first married Christmas out on the West Coast.

We flew out on Monday December 15th and got to the Portland airport late that night. We were greeted by Luke’s parents who we hadn’t seen in more than a year and a half and Luke’s brother who we had last seen before we go married in July of 2012. We got to the Greene house and ended up staying up late talking and trying to wear off the jet lag.

In the next few days we decorated the Greene Christmas tree and enjoyed spending time with the niece (4) and nephew (2) while listening to old Christmas tapes.


We took the time to sneak off for a date to see the Hobbit: Five Armies and get some northwest teriyaki chicken.

Then also ran errands and went Christmas shopping. After a day of shopping with Diana (Luke’s mom) we ended up at Bob’s Red Mill where we got dinner and goodies to make her gluten free organic versions of my chocolate baker’s cookies.


At the end of the week Luke and I did an early Christmas present for the Greene family: a homemade dinner for 10. We decided on a menu of our grilled tilapia fish tacos with all the fixings. We also made a large bowl of guacamole and a side of refried black beans . For dessert we had my lime brownies.


Not at all the traditional Christmas dinner but everyone seemed to like it pretty well.


The next day we took family pictures for the Greene side then packed and headed to the coast for Christmas with the Halvorson side of the family in Florence OR.

Halvorson Christmas is up next post.