Saratoga Cupcake Ride!

Finally we got down to Saratoga. Our legs were definitely itching for a long ride as it has been a few weeks.  That means cupcake time!

The ride down to Saratoga is not that exciting. It’s not as nice as how we used to go at our old house. It’s mostly along the main road with a couple of side tracks:

We packed lunches to have down there, so I needed to stop about halfway down to have a bit of a snack:

It was a cloudy day and only about 80 degrees, but pretty humid. I’m glad it wasn’t really sunny and humid!  We arrived in Saratoga and went to Congress Park to eat lunch.

This weekend started the horse track season and it was really quiet downtown because most people were at the track, which made it nice and peaceful.  My lunch:

That just looks like bread, but it’s a sandwich 😀

After eating, we strolled around the park.

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There was one duck with a little clutch of ducklings. Late in the season for these:

Baby ducks are just little puffs of cuteness. I wanted to gather them all up! 😀

Very nice landscaping. John was actually naming flowers that we passed. I guess he does listen when I natter on about my garden!

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The carousel:

It’s a very, very nice park.

After walking around for a while, it was time for the purpose of our ride!

We got some coffee and our cupcakes. Mine was cookies and cream:

This picture doesn’t really show how big this cupcake is. We call them gut bombs because that is what they are LOL!  Soooo good and super sweet. You would never want to eat a whole one of these without a 40 mile ride, that’s for sure!

We headed on home pretty uneventfully. We made good time, probably powered by some sugar 😀

 

Ride stats:

Total miles: 41.49

Average speed: 14 miles per hour

Saddle time: 2 hours 57 minutes

Calories burned: 1244  – half of which was replaced by the cupcake!

 

Legs are still feeling great for the season. It’s hard to believe that we are approaching August already!

 

What’s Blooming!

Happy Friday!  Lots of stuff to report on this week. We were gone for 5 days and when we pulled into the driveway Tuesday night, I was surprised at how much the garden “plumped” up while we were away. It’s been a somewhat wet summer and that really is making things go crazy. Including weeds.

I had overwintered my passion flower indoors and brought it back outside earlier in the summer. It doesn’t seem quite as nice as last year and the blooms are different colored this year:

There was a white ring in the flowers last year. This is the only bloom on the plant so far.

Balloon flowers needing deadheading:

I should have taken a picture after I cleaned them up because they look nice LOL. The white ones are finally showing up:

In thinking about it, I think I have been calling them white even though they really are pink.

I don’t know if these are spreading or just getting bigger. There were originally 3 plants for all that growth above.

I love letting self-seeding plants grow and will then move them somewhere else. I was taking care of what I thought was a cardinal flower, but it’s this:

Not cardinal flower. I don’t know what it is and  just pulled it up. Sometimes I end up cultivating weeds 😀

Here is one of my shrubs that is in year three and leaping:

It’s a hydrangea called strawberry sundae or shortcake. Something like that anyway. The flowers are supposed to turn pink as they mature.

I have another hydrangea that is in its second year. It was a tiny little stem last year and I was pretty surprised to see some blooms on it this year:

It’s called Annabelle. This is about 4 times the size it was last year at this time. It will end up around 5 feet tall when it is fully grown. The flowers are huge and it has sturdy stems so they aren’t supposed to flop over in the rain. We’ll see.

Liatris plus garden ornament:

In front of the liatris are the agastache, which filled out a lot in the last week:

That black thing is a solar spot light. It works great, I have to say. It will pretty much last to dawn if it gets good sun.

On the other side of that light are my mini penstemon:

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And of course another shot of the happy Cheyenne Spirit!

There are daylilies all over the place on the sides and back of the house:

One little foxglove sent out some flowers:

The Lysmichia are still standing at attention:

The bee balm popped open while we were gone:

This plant is a good 4+ feet tall. I saw a hummingbird flitting around it the last couple of days, too. Yay!!

Unfortunately, it is getting some powdery mildew on it. I started a daily organic neem oil spray on this and my peonies and hopefully that will stop it from spreading.

It’s like a mop head. Then the flowers will start to lose the petals in the middle and look like a monk 😀

If you crush the leaves of this plant, it smells like oregano.

Still more flowers to come that are getting ready to open!

This weekend we should be getting in a cupcake ride. Finally, jeez! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Colorado trip

We just returned from a trip out to Colorado. We arrived late on Thursday night and came back on Tuesday. We stayed in Greeley.

The reason for the trip was John’s sister and her partner of 20 years got married! 

There was a lot of last minute planning to do on Friday and part of Saturday before the ceremony. After it was finished, there was some work to be done at the reception. It was held in an art gallery, which was really neat. I wish I had a chance to actually get pictures in there, but it was so busy I didn’t get a chance. The gallery has a nice open space with a sound system area and hardwood floor for dancing. It’s such a great idea for a gallery to get exposure and bring in money by holding receptions.

John and I set up the beverage area and mixed up the sangria. The gallery has a little coffee shop attached to it, which was our food and drink area.  John behind the counter!

He’s so cute <3  It was fun doing all that.  One of Sarah and Cathy’s friends made some home brewed beer for the ceremony as well, with a homemade “kegerator”!

A good time was had for sure! Best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

After the first couple of nights, John and I moved over to a B&B for the remainder of our stay. It was the Currier Inn:

Interesting note, John and I lived 2 houses away from this when it was being built in 1998!

It is an octagon shape all throughout.

Our view in the dining room:

John did play this piano and it was really out of tune LOL. He didn’t play it for long.

Our host didn’t seem to quite know what to do with a vegetarian, which is so surprising to me.  They’ve owned the B&B for a few years and you would think other vegetarians would have stayed there. She asked if we were okay with eggs and cheese since everyone else was having some sort of meat filled entree. I ate veggie, too, as I figured it would be easier.

Simple, but good. The B&B was quite nice, although we both thought the price was a little high for the overall experience there.

We spent the trip visiting, playing games and walking. No trips to the mountains this time.

I did have one of the best cookies I’ve had in a loong time!

Ginger cookie with a lemon cream cheese filling. This cookie seemed like it was made just for me!  I kept talking about how good it was 😀

Greeley has been doing some nice things with art in the downtown area including murals in an alley.

Other than being in an alley and kind of “fragrant” on a hot day, it was very cool.

 

It was so hard for me to take a picture without my sunglasses on on a bright day.  It was pretty hot while we were there – in the 90s.

The trip went by all too quickly.

What’s Blooming!

Friday Fun Day!  Lot s of blooms today.

I try to carefully plan to make sure that I have at least some sort of blooms all of the time. One way I do this is to go to Bluestone Perennials website – or pretty much any online flower seller – and narrow the selection down to plants that fit in my zone. Then I choose the bloom time I want to fill and choose plants I like that fit the conditions I have. Sometimes that is tough, particularly in dry shade.

That works pretty well most of the time, although plants don’t always cooperate with what they are supposed to do. Even though I’m in Zone 5, it is on the colder end, so things tend to bloom a bit later than they might lower in the same zone.  Of course, you can always fill in with annuals, which bloom all summer long.

Here is my agastache, which I’m likely to start treating as an annual.

I haven’t ever seen hummingbirds in my front yard, only the back, but the bees like this one, too.

Supreme Cantaloupe is getting its ruffed center:

My balloon flowers are cooking along:

These bloom for a long time. The white ones still aren’t open yet. Slowpokes.

There is one Black-eyed Susan sitting behind these balloon flowers:

This one doesn’t seem to self seed as much as ones I have had in the past, which is actually good. Different variety, different results.

I am so loving the Cheyenne Spirit coneflowers:

This is a cluster of 3 plants. They just seem so happy and cheerful. Makes me smile when I go out the front door.

Fair Bianca is just about done with its first flush of blooms:

It’s like Cerberus only nicer. 🙂

This will send out a few more smaller flushes of blooms through fall. I love the reblooming roses.

In the back the gooseneck loosestrife are going gangbusters. They can be kind of invasive and spread pretty rapidly, which I agree with since I moved about 5 plants over here last year:

There are more on each side, too. Don’t you love how their heads all point in the same direction? Like little soldiers.

I might move some of these over to my shade bed and see what happens. It’s good ground cover at any rate.

And lastly, the drumstick Allium fully bloomed:

They are all drooped over because of some heavy rain overnight. They’ll perk up. These are maybe about 2-1/2 to 3 feet tall and sway in the wind like little pompoms. Very cute. I’m going to divide this clump in the fall and plant them all around.

Hope you enjoyed!

What I’m Reading

I haven’t updated my books in a while. It’s been a little slow on the reading front. My goal was to read 25 books this year and I have to catch up, although with some travel coming up I will have plane time.


The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

Considered one of the first feminist books in literature. It was written in 1899 and is told from the point of view of Edna, a Victorian woman who becomes disillusioned with the life that a married Victorian woman is supposed to have. This book was pretty shocking for 1899 since it includes infidelity and the questioning of a woman’s place in the world. Sometimes Edna comes across as being very callous, which I think is almost an effort to show feminism in a bad light. A very interesting read and you really wouldn’t think it was written so long ago.


Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

This book has an underlying premise that the underground railroad was an actual train that ran underground to safe houses. I wish that aspect had been explored a little more as a metaphor because it was a unique viewpoint. The book follows Cora, a plantation slave who escapes through the railroad across the US on the run from a bounty hunter. This book is a grim story about slavery and the lengths that were taken to suppress sympathizers and crush the railroad. It’s an uncomfortable read at times, but worth it.

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In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

This is a good summertime WWII mystery read. Set in England, the story is about Ben and Pamela trying to solve the mystery of a downed anonymous pilot on the grounds of Farleigh Place (Pamela’s home). The two also work secretly under cover for the government – each not knowing that the other does. It’s a fairly fast paced mystery with a nice twist at the end.


In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

This book is really nonfiction. Or it’s one of those books that takes historical letters, notes and news and creates a narrative from it. It covers the time that William Dodd was the US ambassador to Germany as Hitler rose to power. It takes you through all the steps that happened to set the wheels in motion and how the rest of the world would dismiss it until it was too late. The book is a little scary because everything in it is true and happened.

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The Coffee Trader by David Liss

Ha ha – you knew I picked this because of the title, didn’t you! It’s true. Set in Amsterdam in 1659, it follows Miguel as he partners with a Dutch woman to try introduce coffee to the trade industry in Amsterdam, which would make them both rich. It became a little tedious with the inner workings of the trade industry, so it was a bit dry at times and I found myself wanting the story to move faster. Of course in the trade world there is illegal activity, spies and sabotage, so you are waiting to see if Miguel succeeds or not.


The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

Yes, another book by Erik Larson. This is truly a fascinating story of how the World’s Fair came to Chicago in 1893 and the monumental task of building the complex for the fair, which became nicknamed the White City. Daniel Burnham is the architect behind the project and it is amazing to me the herculean effort that took place to get everything up and running on time.  A parallel story line follows H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who preyed on young women in Chicago during that time.  He built the World’s Fair hotel, which housed a gruesome holding place for his victims. All true, again told in a narrative format.  Very well done narrative.


Euphoria by Lily King

This story  is based loosely on the Leakeys and takes place in New Guinea. There are 3 main characters: Nell Stone, famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes, her  husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, another anthropologist who is a friend of Fen. The book basically is a love triangle, surprise, surprise… but a quick read. Fen has trouble accepting Nell’s fame and hatches a plan to go for a big discovery with disastrous results. There is a lot of discussion of how anthropology theories are formed, which is quite interesting. Plus what the realities of life were for Western people living with indigenous tribes. If you liked Water for Elephants, you will probably like this book.


An interesting array of books there. I’m still in the historical fiction mode, if you can’t tell, but also stories based on real life people and events.

Weekend mish-mash

The weekend started around here with taking Pixie to the vet on Friday. She was feeling poorly for the week and had tummy issues, which doesn’t happen much with indoor cats. However, we did take her out on her harness last week and she ate a lot of greenery. She loves being out in her harness:

The vet thinks she may have ingested a tiny mushroom since it has been so rainy around here lately. Any way, with being off her food, diarrhea and vomiting more – hairballs being pretty common – Pixie got put on antibiotics  and probiotics. Did you know they make special probiotics just for cats?

She is definitely feeling better now and eating her food.  We are waiting on a stool culture result just to make sure she didn’t ingest a parasite (ewww).

Unfortunately, there was no true cupcake ride this weekend. Saturday it kept raining on and off, which makes it too hard to go a long distance. Unless we wanted to ride in the rain, which I don’t LOL. We actually did end up having cupcakes anyway. We were down in Albany and stopped in at the new Rivers casino down there.

It’s quite nice, really, if on the small side. John has a players points card with a lot of points on it, so we got free food at the bakery, which is the reason we stopped in there! I should have taken a picture. Not sure why I didn’t, probably because I was overwhelmed with the sugar. It was a big cupcake and one that would really be only for a 40-mile ride.

My appetite still seems all over the place. I had gained a little from my Ireland weight last fall, then I took off a few pounds and then last week I was just eating too much. I generally ride 80-90 miles a week, plus walking, which is really a lot of activity. With that comes the boomerang effect of the appetite. It’s kind of hard to actually lose weight over the summer months, although I did that last year. It’s also a challenge not to gain – but when is that ever not a challenge for me 😀  I note that last summer, I actually cut down how much I normally exercise because I wanted to take off some weight.  It’s just hard not to be super active when our warm weather outdoor season is kind of short.

On the track of warm weather, I found this little guy/gal in the yard yesterday:

I think it’s a cicada and I’ve never seen one up this close. I know we have them around here, but I’ve just never seen one.

It was flailing around upside down and when I touched it with my glove, it just grabbed on and sat on my hand. I put in in a potted plant on the patio.  I had no idea that there were so many species of cicada and they do come out every 17 years, but with so many species every year has them – just not always in huge numbers.

Speaking of patio, we are certainly enjoying Radiance Falls, which we installed last year.

We need to cover it over the winter as the cedar trees left a ton of junk in it that was  a pain to clean out. We removed the pump over the winter just to keep it safe. It looks a little more naturalized this year. I have a few planting around it, but not much. It’s a tough spot for growing with dry shade.

It’s another busy week coming up. Hope you all had a great weekend!

What’s Blooming!

Welcome Friday! This was a weird week. It was like we had two Mondays (I worked Monday) and now I don’t even know what day it feels like today. 😀

Lots of stuff going on in the gardens right now. This is Liatris.

Also called Gayfeather. It comes in white and purple. This purple one is named Kobold, which always reminds me of my old Dungeons & Dragons days many eons ago. Not that I want to show my age or anything…

Balloon flowers:

It does look like a hot air balloon festival, doesn’t it? I have one white and two blues. The white one isn’t even close to blooming yet and it’s right next to these two. Go figure.

Closed:

Open – same flower the next morning:

They are just so much fun!

This is Supreme Cantaloupe coneflower:

It’s not quite as robust as last year. I moved it last fall and I’m not sure it was really happy about that. Hopefully it adapts better.

The Cheyenne Spirit coneflowers are going gangbusters:

I love all the different colors from the same plant. These are putting out a ton of baby plants, too. I’m going to let some grow and see if they look like the parent plant or not. Many times seedlings don’t look like the parent, so it could be interesting.

Speaking of seedlings, I had a Jacob’s ladder plant last year and it didn’t survive the winter. However, I notice that I have probably 6 baby plants!

I’m hoping that since these self-seeded they will have a better chance at making it through the winter.

I picked up some more Astilbe to fill in the shade bed:

Here are some that I planted a couple years ago:

For some reason, they aren’t very bushy. They grow very low to the ground and send up a couple of flower spikes.

Another view of my shade  bed:

This is a fun surprise plant:

In the summer of 2015, I bought some lily bulbs from a big box store. They were supposed to bloom that summer. Well, nothing came up at all, so I planted around them with other stuff. In fact, I kind of forgot where they were. Well, 2 years later and now they came up and bloomed. Right by my Baptisia and irises. 😀

Here are the tall old-fashioned daylilies:

Just to the left where the red flowers are is my neighbor’s yard. Our garden borders define the property since the fence came down.

For the pollinators, Butterfly weed:

Here is Audrey all grown up:

Doesn’t quite look so monstrous now. Interesting shape, too. That’s a Shasta daisy.

Closeup of a normal bloom:

This drumstick Allium isn’t quite blooming, but I thought it looked really cool like this:

Garden is in full swing here at Radiance Manor!

Here’s hoping for a good cupcake ride this weekend. The weather should cooperate, hopefully!

Snippet of Lake George

One thing about living in our area is that during the warmer months, there is sooooo much going on. You could do some sort of event pretty much every night if you wanted.

Each Wednesday night now through August is music at Lake George. These are free evening concerts held outside.

We took the trolley from near our house to the lake. That way we didn’t have to find parking and deal with the tourist traffic.  It costs $1 each way, which is really a bargain I think. It also gives us a chance to see a route different than what we see on our bikes.

Here are shots of our gorgeous lake:

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These are a new thing. You can rent this little tiki bar and take it out onto the lake.

The concert was Latin jazz this week.

It’s a nice venue. Very informal and you just sit wherever you find a spot or put your chair. I felt a little sorry for the band at the start because the sun was coming in at an angle right in their faces!

After listening to music, we walked around being a little touristy and checked out shops. I also admired the landscaping work done by the village. They do a good job.

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All the rain we have had lately and things are just so lush.

Sunset on the lake and time to take the trolley back home!

We are very fortunate to have such beauty around us.