Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in New York

October 30th, 2016

If you haven’t been to a pumpkin patch, corn maze, apple orchard or Fall Harvest festival at a farm, you don’t know what you’re missing. You may want to know what to expect in order to plan appropriately! Look no further, this post will help you see with photos what they’re like!

The most common form of “pumpkin patch” are already harvested pumpkins. I like this arrangement so I don’t have to hike through a muddy field. Like Jackson’s Pumpkin Farm in Endicott, NY. This is a great place for the entire family to celebrate everything pumpkin. There pumpkin tractor pull ride for the little ones. This is an annual favorite of locals. http://www.jacksonspumpkinfarm.com/Farm.html

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When combined with a trip to the Cider Mill it is a special Fall day … so I did! The Cider Mill in Endicott has been a landmark in its location since 1926 and became part of the Ciotoli family in 1942. On a cold winter night in December of 1971, the Mill was lost to fire. Rebuilt in 1972, the “new” Mill became more popular than ever with both longtime community patrons, and touring visitors. The wonderful aromas and tastes of Fall in upstate New York attract thousands each year to the natural goodness of pure sweet cider and all the old-fashioned donuts and pies that complement its flavor.

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There are also fun corn mazes in the Endicott area, but I opted for the winding trails of Oakley Corners State Forest to hike off my donuts. Oakley Corners State Forest is a gem located in the towns of Newark Valley and Owego in eastern Tioga County. The forest has a well maintained 16 mile multi use trail system, 2 of which I hiked today. The trail was well marked and designed to offer family based recreation for hiking, and cross-country skiing in the winter months.

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Fall goes by so fast that it is important to remind yourself to sip the apple cider and savor every moment while you can. Enjoy! (PS: The fungi grew on me)




Friday Funnies

October 28th, 2016

A friend of mine shared these araprosdokians with me. Winston Churchill loved these figures of speech”  in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; I hope you do too!

1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’

13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

18. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

19. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

20. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

21. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

23. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

25. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Finally: If reading those didn’t lift your spirits today is National Chocolate day. 🙂

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Honeysuckle Bush

October 26th, 2016

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

When I moved into my Boynton Beach apartment, I had great intentions when it came to gardening. So, I bought a honeysuckle that reminded me of Baba’s. I chose the perfect spot, tried digging a hole, and planted it firmly in its new home. After a period, however, it became clear that the bush was not going to make it. Maybe it wasn’t deep enough, got too much harsh Florida sun, or I didn’t water it enough. Regardless, the bush died.

I did what any amateur gardener would do: I pulled it out of the ground and threw it out on the curb. But when trash day arrived, I discovered that on the curb was a beautifully blooming honeysuckle. I’d given up too soon.

Jeremiah 29 is a letter written to people who had been taken into captivity not too unlike my bush. They weren’t living the lives they had envisioned. It was as if someone had uprooted them from their carefully chosen spot in the sun and transplanted them into unfamiliar and undesirable territory. Yet, in that wasteland, Jeremiah wrote to them about the Lord’s plan for their lives, about a future and a hope. In fact, they were instructed to grow in that foreign land.

Life rarely goes according to our plans. Circumstances change, and in an instant, we can find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Or maybe just New York. It’s not God’s plan for us to wither away. Even when we are far from home, God’s desire is that we continue to grow.

Take time to thank God his week for His plans for you. Plans that include hope and a future – no matter where you are at this moment.

Sunday in New York

October 23rd, 2016

Bonus Sunday Post!

Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors like me spellbound. This was an amazing Fall hike and I couldn’t wait a week to tell you about what I saw on the trail: the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course! The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge for incredible photo opportunities.

It’s easy to see why Watkins Glen State Park was chosen from more than 6,000 state parks across the nation as a nominee in the 2015 USA Today Reader’s Choice for Best State Park in the United States. Look at the photos and see if you agree.

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Sentry Bridge

Sentry Bridge

Tunnels in the gorge were hand-cut into the rock in the early 1900's.

Tunnels in the gorge were hand-cut into the rock in the early 1900’s.

Sentry Bridge

Sentry Bridge

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Cavern Cascade is 1 of 2 visitors can walk behind. Cavern Cascade and other waterfalls have created Watkins Glen by eroding rocks deep in the hillside.

Cavern Cascade is 1 of 2 visitors can walk behind. Cavern Cascade and other waterfalls have created Watkins Glen by eroding rocks deep in the hillside.

In the Narrows area it stays shady and cool like a rainforest.

In the Narrows area it stays shady and cool like a rainforest.

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Glen Pools area

Glen Pools area


Looking down from the suspension bridge 85 feet above the creek. During the great flood of 1935, water rose within 5 feet of it!

Looking down from the suspension bridge 85 feet above the creek. During the great flood of 1935, water rose within 5 feet of it!


Sunday in New York

October 23rd, 2016

Niagara is known for the falls, but many overlook the magical Butterfly Conservatory which features over 2,000 colorful tropical butterflies floating freely among lush, exotic blossoms and greenery. Paths wind through the rainforest setting, past a pond and waterfall and the Emergence window, where butterflies leave their pupae and prepare to take their first flight! The self-guided walking tour of the Butterfly Conservatory prepared me with a short, informative video presentation.

Fully prepared I enjoyed a magical path winding through a warm rainforest filled with butterflies floating freely through the air. I wish all of us could enjoy such serenity in our lives.

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Yes, I braved the freezing rain to witness the classic North American landmark, Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. Its breathtaking beauty have been revered by generations of awestruck visitors. Today, Niagara Falls State Park welcomes visitors through freezing rain and wind who bring their spirit of adventure to experience this special place, with one of the world’s most popular attractions as its centerpiece. I was there and I’ll try to return for photos as weather permits.


Next week: Elmira

Friday Funnies

October 21st, 2016

Have you heard I’m driving to New York via Canada today? So I decided to list some of the funny Canadian jokes reflecting the sense of humour of Canadians? And have you noticed I spelled it as “humour” and not as “humor” like we do? This is another thing that sets Canadians apart from Americans. Canadian English is based more on British English. But let’s get back to the topic… eh?

You’re Canadian if:

  • You are excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada
  • You make a mental note to talk about it at work the next day
  • You understand the sentence, “Could you please pass me a serviette, I just spilled my poutine.”
  • Someone accidently stepped on your foot. You apologize. 
  • You stepped on someone’s foot. You apologize, then apologize for making them apologize
  • You don’t mind leaving your wet winter boots at the door when visiting your dentist, etc.

Here are some silly questions that were asked by people when I said I was spending the day in Canada:

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street?
A: Only if a person had been drinking.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada?
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact me when you get there and I’ll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada?
A: Yes, but only at Thanksgiving.

As a final part to this Canadian jokes section I’d like to ask you: How do you spell Canada? Answer: C-Eh!-N-Eh!-D-Eh!
The original name for Canada, dreamed up by a parliamentary committee in London, was “Cold North Dominion,” but that was too long, so they abbreviated it to C.N.D. The King’s Royal Governor presented the new name to the inhabitants, but they didn’t say a word. “Well, what do you think?” asked the Royal Governor? “C, eh?” said the first fellow, and just looked at the Governor. “N, eh?” says the second guy. “D, eh?” says a third one. Then silence. “Hey,” says the Governor. “I like that. It’s a whole lot easier to pronounce when you spell it that way.” And that’s how Canada got its name. LOL (Kidding!)


Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Creamed Tomatoes & Crackers

October 19th, 2016

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

Some foods just naturally go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Navy beans and ham hocks. Chocolate and, well, anything! There’s something unique however, about the pairing of creamed tomatoes and noodles (or crackers). According to Baba, “The longer it sets, the better it gets.” The creamed tomatoes were poured generously over crackers so that the juice would soak into every morsel. Such a simple meal that I enjoy just a much today as I did at her table.

The study of Scripture works much the same way. To delight in the law of the Lord is to partake of it generously and allow it to soak into our spirits. Our goal should not be to read as much as we can or as quickly as we can. Delight takes time as we soak up a verse, a phrase or a word sometimes.

We can spend day and night worrying about all the what-ifs of our life, and we can hang onto a grudge for days without end. What if, however, the thing we dwelled on was the goodness of God? What if it wasn’t worry but wonder that captivated us?

To meditate on Scripture is to read it over and over, allowing it to penetrate our minds. It’s to read it slowly and out loud, emphasizing a different word with each reading. It’s to ponder. To delight in the law of the Lord is to know that the longer it sets, the better it gets.

I want to work on this, so that reading the Bible isn’t just another item on my daily to-do list. I want to delight in it daily and meditate on it, no matter what my day holds. Join me!

Creamed Tomatoes over Toast or Biscuits: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/684/Creamed-Tomatoes73359.shtml

Friday Funnies

October 14th, 2016

Today my family is meeting at Crane Orchards: one of the finest u-pick orchards in Michigan. With over 17 different varieties of apples, 10 varieties of peaches and sweet cherries for the discriminating u-picker to choose from, and only 4 miles from Lake Michigan, the scenery is breathtaking. Which led me to apples jokes for my core audience to enjoy.

Q: What reads and lives in an apple? A: A bookworm

Q Why did Eve want to move to New York? A: She  fell for the Big Apple!

Q: Why don’t apples smile when you go bobbing? A: Because they’re crab apples!

Q: If it took six pigs two hours to eat the apples in the orchard, how many hours would it take three pigs? A: None, because the six pigs have already eaten them all.

Apples. Fruit goodness that you can enjoy anytime or anywhere!

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Bird Watching

October 12th, 2016

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap not gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

Although it may be hard to admit as they eat all the berries from the bushes in your yard, birds are fascinating animals. As a child I enjoyed attempting, and occasionally capturing, hummingbirds feeding on Baba’s honeysuckle. I’ve seen hummingbirds in my parent’s yard, but more recently I’ve been watching a pair of cardinals. Birds glide effortlessly through the air while singing such lovely songs. With a chip and a hop, they go about their business as if they haven’t a care in the world. It’s difficult not to envy them.

The fact is, just like every living thing, birds must have food and water. They have and take care of babies, they need shade from the heat and shelter from the storm. So why aren’t they scurrying and worrying? For the same reason you and I need not worry about anything. (including political matters) The God who created them also cares for them.

Though birds are very beautiful, we are far more valuable to God than the birds of the air. Our Creator is well aware of our every need. God is in control and able to meet each of our needs. We add nothing to our lives when we worry or stress – not minutes to our days or dollars to our bank accounts. Our worrying doesn’t alter circumstances or alleviate problems.

Jesus knew that the tendency to worry was part of the human condition. During His earthly ministry, He addressed the issues of worry and anxiety on more than one occasion, and His message is clear: when we worry, we are in direct disobedience. We should, instead, take our cue from the birds. Bod always provides for them, even if He does so with the berries in the back yard.

Forgive us Lord for our worrying ways during this season. Help us to live a little more like the birds and spend our days singing Your praises and trusting in Your provision.

Sunday in Michigan

October 9th, 2016

Treat yourself to a day of old-fashioned family fun by attending a Fall festival, such as an apple butter festival, like I did! Visitors to the Fenner Nature Center could help stir the giant copper kettle of spicy apple butter, crank the cider press, taste different apple varieties, donuts, talk with various craftsmen and listen to live folk music while walking the trails.

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The Fenner Nature Center is a Lansing nature center encompassing 134 acres. The property includes over four miles of trails uses year round and a visitor center. Inside the Visitor Center is a collection of live native reptiles and amphibians, with songbirds, deer and wild turkeys seen through the large picture windows.

With no admission fee, the Apple Butter Festival had activities for fall-enthusiasts of all ages! This is the perfect day or weekend experience for everyone from grandma to the kids.



Friday Funnies

October 7th, 2016

September 22nd marked the end of summer regardless of what the thermometer said. But now, the air is crisp and feels like Fall is in the air. Fall is a favorite of many that enjoy the seasonal apples & pumpkin harvests, festivals, spectacular foliage, and of course, Fall jokes.

Q: What did the tree say to autumn?
A: leaf me alone.

Q: What did one autumn leaf say to another?
A: I’m falling for you.

Q: If money really did grow on trees, what would be everyone’s favorite season?
A: Fall.

Q: Why did the scarecrow win the Nobel Prize?
A: Because he was out-standing in his field.

A family of fall leaves were trying to change a light bulb. A squirrel walked by and asked why the bulb wasn’t changed yet and the red leaf said, “Because we keep falling.”

From warm apple cider to camping trips, there are so many reasons to enjoy fall. It’s Fall y’all!

Devotions from Babas Front Porch: Sunday Naps

October 5th, 2016

If you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

If I ever want to hear about kids, I don’t have far to go. I’ve learned a lot (and maybe some things I never needed to learn) about kids from my siblings. The biggest factor seems to be that when you have children, sleep is the first thing you lose. As infants they keep parents up all hours of the night. Then they begin climbing into the parents bed in the middle of the night, kicking you in the back, and stealing your covers. At some point, they finally sleep in their own beds, only to wake up at the crack of dawn requesting breakfast. Occasionally, however, something beautiful takes place on Sunday afternoons: a family nap.

Whether it’s on the couch, in a hammock, or on a blanket in the middle of the living room floor, a Sunday afternoon nap is a wise gift for a weary body. To close your eyes and snooze in the middle of the day seems positively decadent, which makes the sleep that much sweeter.

Solomon knew the importance of wisdom in a person’s life. Of all the things that he could have requested from God, he asked for wisdom, and God granted it. Solomon also knew the benefits of wisdom in his life. Wisdom allows a person to walk in security and peace. A wise person is a source of life to those around her.

A foolish person makes foolish decisions and suffers the consequences – usually including difficulty sleeping. When worry and regret weigh heavy on a person’s mind, sleep proves elusive. A wise person, however, makes prayerful decisions, trusts God with the outcomes, and sleeps like it’s Sunday afternoon in Baba’s big feather bed!

Queen of Katwe

October 2nd, 2016

Chess is a game of strategy and problem-solving. Maybe it’s a cliché to say it’s a metaphor for life itself, but that metaphor is bigger, more pronounced and more profound for a girl living in one of the most challenging places on earth.

Katwe, a poverty-stricken, crime-ridden slum of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is the home of Phiona Mutesi, once a charming illiterate girl selling ears of corn on the street, now an internationally renowned chess champion transformed into The Queen of Katwe.

Phiona’s story is similar to many inspirational, true-life triumph sports films made before it, but Queen of Katwe transcends the mundane and predictable with its rich portrait of a person who refuses to be defined by her roots. The director communicates this by her opening shots, which aren’t the expected scenes of a city in overrun in poverty and people living with the threat of violence. Instead the movie opens with sun-soaked scene bursting with life and color. The audience feels that Katwe is a village as beautiful as it is dangerous, vibrant as it is depressed.

Phiona, played with easy sincerity by first-timer Madina Nalwanga, is 11-years old when the movie begins. Although Queen is primarily Phiona’s story, it’s also her mother’s. Nyongo’s remarkable performance of Harriet is placed perfectly with the right levels of desperation and depression though it was never spoken even during her vulnerable moments that are present in every scene. She is a woman with pride and trusts no one on the streets of Katwe.

The film features universal life lessons in patience, fish-out-of-water comedy and tear jerking Ugandan patriotism. It’s an underdog story, comfortable in many ways. However, I don’t think anyone cared because the director emphasized authenticity in the performances and setting. The drama at the chess board will please crowds, but it’s the real drama in Phiona’s home that’s the most gripping and make you want to talk about this irresistible movie for days to come.

Queen of Kawte is a must see for everyone who has ever challenged the power of the human imagination. Grab your family and/or friend and see this film.  



Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.