Monday, June 9, 2014

Secret Mission - Mystery Revealed!

As per my last post, Jim and I recently took a short trip up to Lancaster, PA. While we enjoyed the scenery, sight seeing was not at the top of our agenda. No, we didn't seek out any world-famous Amish wood working or quilts; no delicious canned goods, textiles or artwork. Not even one single souvenir or fabulous antique made it into our car. So, what did we go up there for? What did we drive over 3 hours to bring home? Here they are:
Introducing the two new loves of my life, the newest furbaby members of our family, Chloe and Fenway! Chloe is on the left and weighs 5.2 pounds. Fenway is on the right and weighs 5.6 pounds. They were 9 and 8 weeks old, respectively, when we brought them home.

I had been looking at rescue dogs and studying breeds since our beloved Sullivan passed away almost two years ago. During that search and research period, there were many road blocks - dogs that were already spoken for, dogs that just didn't fit our family, rescue organizations that would not adopt to homes with young children, adoption fees that were over our budget - all kinds of frustrations. Then there were our feelings that perhaps this was not the best time to get a new dog, with my back problems, the kids being so active and possibly scaring a dog, so many other responsibilities requiring our attention, but then I thought, is there ever a good or perfect time for anything? If we wait for what seems to be the right time to make any changes in our lives, will we not become stagnant and never progress? We decided to go for it and the search began!
Fenway Left, Chloe Right
I had a few favorite breeds in mind but there was one that I was particularly interested in - the Boston Terrier. I love their quirky little faces, their stubby tails and their love of life energy. They are reported to be intelligent, loving, great with children, playful and an all-around fun dog suitable for any family. Sounded perfect -now to find some in our area! This proved impossible!
I wanted a girl as so many of my former furbabies were males. What an ordeal! It took me a few months to finally come upon some females and after being beaten to them while I wasted time thinking about my decision, when I saw little Jewel, who is now Chloe, I jumped at the chance to make her ours! We planned the trip to Lancaster, called the contact and, while I had him on the phone, I inquired about sweet Bobby, now Fenway. (I always wanted to name a Boston Fenway after the Red Sox's ballpark!) By this time, "getting a dog" had turned into getting TWO dogs and who was I to argue? Turned out that each puppy was located at a different Amish farm, on opposite sides of Lancaster proper, which was really nice as it gave us an opportunity to travel along the back roads and take some pictures of the beautiful farms. I love farms! I love the open fields, the dirt, the animals, the smells, the rusty, crusty gadgets and equipment, the all-American feel of community spirit, simpler times and family values.

 Friday was the day! We checked out of our hotel and headed towards our first puppy with such excitement in our hearts. Fenway greeted us with a wiggly stubby tail and wonderful puppy breath kisses! He whimpered for just a few seconds when we placed him in the carrier, and we were on to puppy stop number two! Little Chloe was as cute as she could be! She too gave us puppy breath kisses, she even gave some to Fenway! After a short visit, both pups were snuggled together in the carrier and we were headed for home. It's a good thing I like farm smells, because both pups had a distinctive smell of cow LOL!

Upon arriving home, Jamison greeted us at the door and we handed the carrier to my daughter, so that the two of them could take the puppies out. Abigail was upstairs and when she came down, she squealed in the highest-pitched voice I'd ever heard, "Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!"

It's been a little over a week and everybody is adjusting well. The pups love chasing toys and the kids out in the yard and in the house, snuggling on laps at nap time and cuddling together in their carrier filled with fluffy blankets. They stay in our room and are up bright and early with their adorable tiny faces at the carrier door, just bursting to be let out and hugged. They're quite smart, coming when their names are called and using newspaper for potty time during a horrible storm we had last week. It's so nice to have dogs in the house again and I know that the more time we spend together and the more they grow, the more love and joy we'll share.
Chloe & Fenway
Thank you so much for stopping by! Hugs and puppy breath kisses, Leena,  Fenway and Chloe

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Trip To Lancaster, PA

If you follow me on Face Book or Instagram, you know that Jim and I recently took a trip up to Lancaster, PA. It's a beautiful area about 3 hours from our home, accessed via roads lined with trees, pastures and fresh produce stands, that wind through small towns filled with antique and junk stores (I was dying to stop!). A rather pleasant trip, it's high on scenic value and low on traffic, so the ride up was very enjoyable.
I had often told Jim of my past trips to Amish Country, a large section of Lancaster County made up of small towns with names such as Bird-In-Hand, Ronks, Fertility, Paradise and Intercourse (I really need to look up the origins of some of these names) and he was eager to experience the quiet, somewhat quirky, tranquility for himself. For example, where else can you go to a strip mall and find a roped off parking area for horse-drawn buggies only? Or, when was the last time you stayed at 5-Star hotel that was located next to a dairy farm? Have you ever seen Chow-Chow or Shoo-Fly Pie on the menu of your favorite eatery? Comfort, charm and curiosities - three words that describe the area very well. Here's a little trivia - Lancaster has 29 functioning covered bridges still in use - the second largest number in the United States!

Our first night, Wednesday, was a new experience for me as we were in a more metropolitan area of Lancaster that I didn't know existed. We headed out in search of a restaurant , which we never found. The directions said to get on RT 30, which we did, but then to make a U -Turn at a certain point. This was an interstate with a large cement wall in the middle. I don't think you're supposed to make a U-Turn there! We exited off and meandered through an old down town area, filled with charming duplexes, brownstones, and Victorian homes. As a real architecture freak, I was diggin' this area big time! Finally, Jim spotted a restaurant called The Brasserie and it was a great find! A cute tavern room with the best blue cheese burger and fries I'd ever eaten and an ice cold beer!
Thursday was my birthday and we'd planned on having lunch in a refurbished railroad dining car and Jim was going to surprise me with a hot air balloon ride (wow!) but wind and rain changed those plans. Instead, we studied up on the area a little,  then drove around taking in the local ambiance, stopping at the Dutch Haven in Ronks for some of their world-famous Shoo-Fly Pies to take home. When folks ask me what's in this type of pie, my answer is always simple: sugar, lots and lots of sugar! The ingredients include brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, eggs, flour - all those good healthy things! It is recommended that you eat it warm, but I like it better cold from the refrigerator.
Our dinner that night was at the Plain and Fancy Farm Feast in the town of Bird-In-Hand. I wanted to introduce Jim to "family style" dining and the wonderful home-made foods the Amish prepared. We shared a large table with a family and an older couple and really enjoyed the feeling of community and the fun conversation. The food did not disappoint! Large platters and bowls were passed around, filled with mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted corn, green beans, chow-chow, fried chicken, roast beef, mixed vegetables, salad, rolls, chicken pot pie, buttered noodles, sausage and fabulous desserts - oh my! What a birthday feast! All ingredients are locally grown, raised and prepared. Talk about comfort food! Side note: the farm and restaurant were featured on the Travel Channel's "Man versus Food" show!
Friday was a gorgeous sunny day as we set out on our "secret mission", our reason for coming to the area. I was able to take some nice photos of the area from the car as we went from one end of Lancaster to the town of Quarryville to the other end of East Earl. I'll share the details of our mission in my next post. For now, sit back and enjoy the peaceful countryside of Lancaster, PA.

 I hope you enjoyed your tour of Lancaster, PA and thank you for joining me! Stay tuned for the upcoming reveal of our "secret mission" mystery! Have a fabulous day! Hugs, Leena
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