Flashback: Botanical Gardens

Yes, I am still writing posts at the end of April to catch up to March but this is the last one, I promise. During our mini spring-break trip to Buffalo we also went to the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.

logo Luke at first seemed uneasy about going until I explained to him that it was a giant greenhouse; almost completely inside. Then he was all for it.

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The wind was blowing hard as we went to the main entrance. Once we got inside we were able to take off our jackets and breath deep the fragrant air of many plants and trees inside the greenhouses.

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The Botanical Gardens has many different rooms each focused on different types of plants and their locations. We first stepped into the tall atrium called the Palm Dome. It was the first time Luke had seen palm trees since leaving California.

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Then we went through the fern collection (we see plenty of those where we live) and onto the topiaries and coy pond. Here all topiaries are shaped to look like dinosaurs.

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We went over the pond bridge and found a great place to sit and drink our coffee while watching the waterfall covered in purple flowers and moss.

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After sitting for a while we move onto the much warmer dessert room filled with cacti and succulents. Although I am much more familiar with these plants ( my dad/brother had a cactus garden in my backyard growing up) I was impressed to the variety they had in their garden.

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We probably spent the most time in the next room which housed several plant collections including the largest ivy collection in the world, a substantial bonsai collection and medicinal herbs/plants. Luke enjoyed the boxed-in exhibit of carnivorous plants as well.

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The next room: Archangel Room housed the brightest of spring flowers: roses, tulips, sweet broom and more. Here they had a water fountain in view of a ivy wrapped sitting bench, and a table to play checkers at. The room was decorated for spring including kites flying above and plastic easter eggs strung across the room.

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As we continued to wind around we saw one of my favorite new editions to the gardens: an orchid house. After that room we thought we were almost done exploring; surprised by  how detailed each room was.

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But we still had yet to pass through house 10 where they hold indoor events/weddings, their Panama cloud forest, and Florida Everglades.

By the time we were done exploring the gardens we had finished our coffee, warmed up from the cold wind, and relaxed taking in the peaceful gardens.

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To learn more about the Buffalo Botanical Gardens click on the link below:http://www.buffalogardens.com/pages/our-gardens

Puppy Love

I have a confession.

I have wanted a family puppy for more than a year now.

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Back in Corning we knew we couldn’t have a dog in our rented house, but that didn’t stop me from looking at dogs on pinterest, adoption locations, and dream that maybe if/when we moved we’d be able to get one.

Well we moved, been in our own home in Wayland for more than 6 months. All  winter I researched adoption locations, shelters, dog breeds/mixes. I nagged Luke with puppy pictures and my list of yes/no adoptions or rescues we were willing to work with in our area.

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We knew we wanted to wait until after the winter and snow. As I waited for this forever long winter to pass we talked about “what if” questions and planned out the practicals of owning/training a dog in a colder climate.

We have talked about the dogs we grew up with and how they were cared for and trained. We talked about what we will do differently based on where we live and our routine.

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In the last few weeks the snow finally thawed-I started to get anxious; we went to the local pet supply store and thought through what we would need to get.

This past weekend we finally put in an application with a dog adoption agency a few hours away who rescues litters of puppies from high kill shelters.

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Our newly bought doggy blanket from the pet supply store is by the door ready to go in the car once we have been approved.  We are hoping to very soon have a little lab retriever mix to care for in our home

Flashback: Buffalo Zoo

In March Luke and I went on a mini-spring break vacation to Buffalo.

One of the places we explored while there was their local zoo. Because it was cold and snowing we almost had the park to ourselves.

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Now I have  been spoiled when it comes to great zoos.  I grew up with the LA zoo where the weather is good enough to view all animals all year.  Then the weekend before Luke and I got married we went to San Diego  zoo. I had been before when I was very little but it was Luke’s first time. Of course that zoo is world famous and has a rare Panda exhibit.

I knew this going into the much smaller 20 or so acre Buffalo Zoo. But I have to say I was impressed. For a small zoo it was well organized, clean, and a good variety of animals and habitats.

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Of course because of the weather some animals were not so keen on coming out to play like the hyenas, some monkeys, and leopards. We watched as a lioness pouched, roared, and scratched at the door to go inside.

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not my pic, for more on Monica the baby Indian rhino click on the picture

But we were please to find out the zoo has been very successful with babies.We were able to watch several baby and toddler grey backed gorillas run around together, a baby rhino playfully charge at her mother, and two baby giraffes exploring their play area.

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Fortunately, this type of zoo is used to the rainy/snowing weather so the gorilla exhibit, giraffe house, elephant house, reptile house and more were all indoors.

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Another impressive piece of the zoo was their indoor rainforest ecohabitat. When we walked through the doors of this exhibit we sighed relief and took off our coats in the humidity.

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With a waterfall at the back and a river winding through the center, animals who would normally interact in the wild are placed in the same exhibit.We watched the capybara, rays, turtles, and tropical birds in the river.

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Tropical monkeys shared an exhibit with tortoises and above red ibis and toucans flew freely around landing on the tops of wire cages. They also had a separate exhibit for an anteater and for vampire bats behind the waterfall.

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Let’s just say in spite of the weather we were happy that we went to the zoo.

To explore the buffalo zoo for yourself link on the link below:

http://www.buffalozoo.org/

What is your favorite animal to watch at the zoo?

Flashback: March Maple Season

I know it’s April but as I wrote before I”m trying to catch up on our March events.

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When we moved to our house in October. For more see https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/im-back/. My sister in law Stina who was helping us move said she thought most of the trees  behind our house were maple. By the time we moved their bright yellow leaves covered the ground.

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We had seen signs along roads with a tree tapped with a bucket next to it and been to farmers markets were local maple syrup was sold.But we had never toured a local maple syrup farm, until this past March.

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All across Upstate New York during March or April is a Maple Weekend. For more see http://www.nysmaple.com/nys-maple-weekend/ when local maple syrup producers open up their doors for tours of their facilities, hikes through their maple trees, children events, sales on their maple products and pancake breakfasts served with their maple syrup.

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This year we chose to go to Wohlschegels sugaring facility near Naples NY. For more on this local maple producer click here: http://www.fingerlakesbulkmaplesyrup.com/

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By the time we got to the sugaring facility they had opened up the back end of their syrup/sugar processing building and filed it with tables and chairs for a pancake breakfast. We payed a small prices for all you can eat pancakes and were given generous portions of pancakes and sausage.

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We got coffee (they had maple flavored coffee as well) and enjoyed looking around and at the menu which advertised all the local maple weekend events in the area.

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After breakfast we sampled some of their products: maple mustard, syrup, creams and enjoyed an indoor tour on how they process  sap and turn it into syrup.

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Luke enjoyed the chemistry lesson and told me later that from what he heard much of the new technology for processing the sap to syrup  adapted from the brewing process for beer.

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We decided not to do the hike through the snow to the maple trees, maybe next year.

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After going to this local maple events I decided for a spring break treat to make maple cream sandwich cookies with local maple syrup and a light cinnamon vanilla buttercream. For the recipe and more on this go to:

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Do you like pancakes? Do you dip them in syrup or pour the syrup over?

Maple Cookies with Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream

In one of my flashback to March posts I wrote about how this past month we enjoyed an all you can eat pancake breakfast at a local maple syrup producer during upstate new york maple weekend.

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We bought local amber maple syrup that I was excited to use to make maple cookies. These cookies similar to a snikerdoodle have a hint of spice, perfect maple flavor, scented with vanilla, and a soft chewy texture.

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So here’s my recipe for maple cookies with cinnamon vanilla buttercream.

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Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar (3/4 C if using dark)

1 egg

1 1/2 cup real maple syrup (I used amber)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix

Directions

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt, dry pudding mix, and baking soda.
  5. Stir the flour mix into wet mixture until well blended.
  6. Shape into 1/2 inch balls.  Note: I hand roll them and because the dough is sticky I used flour on my hands to keep the dough from sticking.
  7. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

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Bake 9-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool on wire rack. They will deflate a little after coming out of the oven.

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I made these cookies small so they would work as mini cookie sandwiches. You can make them into 1 inch balls if you do not plan on making sandwiches out of them. They will probably need 10-11 minutes in the oven.

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Once cookies have cooled you can make the Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream. These cookies are great on their own but I thought a light butter cream would help balance out the sweet of the cookie.

Ingredients:

2 C powdered sugar

3 TBS vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

1 C salted butter softened

Note: you can choose not to use salted butter I thought it balanced out the sweet of the maple cookies

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Directions

  1. combine all ingredients
  2. start mixer on slow then slowly increase speed
  3. let the mixer get to its highest setting for 30 seconds.
  4. put a lid on it and let it stiffen up in the fridge
  5. spoon out a tablespoon or two of frosting onto a cookie and place the other on top to make a sandwich.

Note: I would keep these cookies in the fridge or cooled until they are ready to be eaten so the icing does not melt.

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Black Creek Park: Orienteering 101

This past weekend we went to our first Rochester Orienteering Club http://roc.us.orienteering.org/ event at Black Creek Park in North Chili West of Rochester.

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We decided to join the Orienteering Club after attending the Winter Festival at Mendon Pond Park back in January. For more on this see the link below:

https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/winterfest/

Luke and I thought it would be a good chance for us to explore the parks/trails where we live and get to know others who enjoy getting out in nature.

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In case you do not know what orienteering is think of a combination of cross country running and an adult scavenger hunt. All participants are given a topiary map of the park with course markers on it and a compass. The goal is to find flag course markers then insert a GPS key to show you have oriented yourself to find that location.

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Along the way you have to make decisions about what terrain you want to cover to get to the next marker quickly. Competitive orienteers will run 6 miles of course trying to beat their best time with at least 20 flag markers from start to finish.

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We are far from prepared for that but arrived in time to do a beginner instruction and the white (easy) orienteering course. Luke was in charge of the map/compass and I had the GPS key.

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It was a beautiful day with a light breeze. The course took us about 30-40 minutes quickly walking  about 1.5 miles with 10 markers. Because of the time of year, the toughest terrain decision we had to make was where to step to avoid being ankle deep in mud. Also finding flags was easier because the trees have not produced leaves yet.

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We learned on the way that we need to bring: sunglasses, hats, shoes that can get muddy, towels, and a change of shoes when we are done.

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Overall it was a great first time learning experience. Now we know we can do the yellow 3-4 mile course. We enjoyed exploring a new park; Black Creek Park has many trails, great facilities, a children’s playground, open meadows, a pond, creek, and allows dogs on leashes.

What are your favorite spring outdoor activities?

Flashback: Rochester Museum and Science Center

As promised I plan this month on doing more detailed flash backs to last month’s adventures (since I didn’t post them).

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For Luke’s birthday we decided to explore the Rochester Museum and Science Center. The museum had a traveling display of a few of Da Vinci’s writings and inventions we were interested in; as well as we wanted to check out the closest science museum.

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Luke and I have enjoyed several science museums in the past few years. They tend to be an interactive easy date-day activity. While we were dating we explored the California Science Center and enjoyed their exhibit on ecosystems.

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On a vacation in Portland Oregon in 2013 we visited OMSI the Oregon Museum of Science and Innovation. There we enjoyed many interactive displays, shows, and had the chance to tour a WWII sub. For more on this see the link below:

https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/vacation-highlights-part-2-date-days/

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We began our day at the Rochester Museum and Science Center in the Da Vinci display. In one gallery were working wooden replicas of Da Vinci’s mechanical inventions along with pictures of his original drawings. Each invention had an explanation of it’s purpose, use, and how we use it in modern day machinery.

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Around the corner in the same gallery were pictures of the Mona Lisa. A photographer was allowed to take raw images of the Mona Lisa and the results were displayed. The science of photography was able to help researchers discover what the Mona Lisa probably looked like when it was originally painted and how it has  been damage or aged over time. This was more interesting for the science behind photography then anything else, which Luke enjoyed.

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Around the corner was the larger Da Vinci gallery. Here were more  wooden replicas of some of his larger work in all fields: aviation, weather detection, musical instruments, sea exploration, civil engineering, biology, and more.

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I was unaware that he was the first to create the weather vane, tank, and some of our first drawings of human anatomy, later used in Gray’s Anatomy (the book).

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This was the highlight of our time at the RMSC. RMSC had an inactive outdated display of local colonial history as well as one of  cultural symbols from around the world that seemed untouched for at least 20 years.  To get to the  hands-on learning area you had to take an elevator from the 70’s to a half floor that Luke and I were unsure we wanted to ride in.

They did have a decent hands-on area for teaching about Rochester’s role in the underground railroad and natural history area including everything from dinosaurs to local farming and the environment.

It is clear that for children the best museum to go to is the Museum of Play for more on this click on the link below:

https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/museum-of-play/

Overall we are glad we went but have been more impressed with other science museums we have been to in the past.

What is your favorite Museum?