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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

NORTH MEETS SOUTH WHEN NYC WELCOMED THE NEELY’S!

We ventured out of our normal playground of the Hudson Valley and traveled into the world famous New York City to have dinner at the     Neely’s Barbecue  Parlor Manhattan’s Upper East Side on First Avenue.  Funny, I’ve grown up just about an hour outside of NYC and have never had an overwhelming desire to go into the city unless for a specific adventure/event or show and dinner and yet people travel from all over the world to visit the famous “Big Apple.” -Not that I don’t enjoy an evening in the city every now and then because I do, I just don’t know that I would make that my vacation destination of choice, perhaps that is because I have such easy access and can visit anytime….

Well, back to the Neely’s! My mother (Mama D as my honey calls her) LOVES to watch the cooking shows on the Food Network- including Down Home with the Neely’s.  So when my mother told me that the Neely’s recently opened a new restaurant in the city and suggested we go for dinner one night, we agreed. 

So we booked our table via Open Table and off we went.  Arriving a bit early, we enjoyed sitting at the bar looking around at the various dining rooms that surrounded the bar and chatting with Nicki.  Nicki and her friend “Wilbur” filled us in on the how and when Pat & Gina Neely came to be part of the Merchants and how warm and friendly they really are.  Each dining room is uniquely decorated each with its own ambiance and flare. 

As we normally do, we decided on two different dishes that we would share/sample.  First we started with the Candied Thick Cut Slab Bacon which is bacon strip coated with brown sugar & slow baked until it’s crispy and it was definitely crispy!   We then settled on the Pork Sampler Platter of Spare ribs, baby back ribs & pulled pork     and the famous “Blue Ribbon” Chicken (Aka Pat’s beer can chicken)    a free range chicken cooked with a pabst blue ribbon beer can in its belly!  The chicken came with 2 side dishes and the pork sampler came with one side so we had the delicious corn bread, the southern creamed corn and the sweet potato fries!   The chicken was great1 It was moist and juicy and I added the Neely’s Spicy sauce and all I can say is hmm hmm good!  The corn bread was delicious (which actually isn’t considered a side we just made it one of our sides) as were the sweet potato fries!  For me the southern creamed corn wasn’t all that creamy but, none-the-less it was good.

 Then of course there is desert, our favorite! Now, for those of you that follow WonderfulWonders, you know my honey and I always split a dessert, well, this time we didn’t . . .shocking right! We thought we probably wouldn’t be back to the Neely’s so we should be fair to them and experience as much as we could (LOL).  We did of course share; so together we shared the Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese icing, which honesty was a bit dry for my taste and the Blackberry Cobbler with vanilla ice cream which was my favorite of the two.

 A small selection of merchandise  is available in a small curio cabinet in the foyer and on their store page of the website.

 So, for all you southern folk livin here in the north, we would say the Neely’s Barbecue Parlor is a “must-do” the next time you visit Manhattan!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

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Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Out 'N About in NJ

Happy Memorial Day everyone!  To all our military brothers and sisters that have served, are currently serving or have lost their lives for us, I say to you THANK YOU!

Turned out to be a great weekend!  We decided to spend Saturday out ‘n about on one of our famous “day-trips” in New Jersey (my honey’s home state). 

We started off at the Bergen Amateur Radio Association’s Spring Hamfest. A Hamfest is the “lingo” for ham radio flea market. Who knew that there was a flea market for ham radio stuff – not me until I was introduced to the world of ham radio from my honey who has his Extra Class Amateur Radio License. 

Then we traveled across the state stopping along the way to browse (okay and make a few purchases LOL!) at a few garden shops!  We stopped off at the Stone Mill Garden Center located on 769 Ridgewood Road, Washington Twp, NJ only to find they had the most beautiful bluebells calling my name (hee hee) and right along side the bluebells were a few other perennials that of course I couldn’t resist.  Of course they all needed to be added to my garden so in the car they went! Along with a great new garden flag proudly featuring our great America Flag!

Next stop was the Olde Lafayette Village is located in the heart Sussex County at the intersection of State Routes 15 and 94 in Lafayette, New Jersey.  I truly love these villages – there is something to be said for enjoying a beautiful spring or summer afternoon strolling along pathways, while stopping off and visiting various shops and meeting new friends!  A few places I loved here included:

  • JUDY & UNA LEE’S PRIM PANTRY etc. and just as their slogan reads, this adorable little shop has a little of this and a little of that-I loved it!  Here I found this adorable little blue bird pot sitter which I immediately put on one of my window boxes!
  • CAREY LANE ACCENTS was great! Here I found the most beautiful flower lights that had my name on but, I contained myself here and didn’t actually get this, this time, now I have a reason to go back!
  • VILLAGE ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES was a treasure!  Here I purchased a beautiful table runner with lace trimmed edges surrounding a pattern of pinks & mauve roses!
  • NIHAO FASHION BOUTIQUE was fun! I love to find those special things that are unique and different – well here I found an adorable pink popcorn shirt and very special Victorian lady necklace holder!   
  • Everything Homemade Pastry Shop & Cafe and yes, our outings wouldn’t be complete without a little dessert, even if it comes as an afternoon snack while strolling through the shops of Olde Lafayette Village. 

 

As you know, we most enjoy the new friends we meet as we travel in and around the Hudson Valley and Tri-State area.  We are pleased to have had the chance to meet Don Thoenig, a.k.a. Don The Kazoo Man!  Don was a delight to chat with and most entertaining! If you haven’t yet visited this quaint little shopping village we say consider visiting on June 19 when you will be able to meet and be entertained by Don! 

Then, the surprise of the day was when we decided to get a bite to eat at The Chatterbox Drive-In, a family owned fifties and sixties style “drive-in” restaurant in Augusta, NJ.  From Memorial Day through Labor Day they  provide “Car-hop” service where you simply pull in and you will be served in your car by one of our waitresses! This will bring you back to the “good ol’ days,” even if you weren’t a part of them! But, back to the surprise, we pulled in only to find the Sussex, NJ Wanders Car Club was holding their Cruise Night! WOW, there must have been 200 or more amazing cars here! Check out some of the great cars!

We had another great day out ‘n about! As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!

Shad Fest 2010 in Lambertville NJ–then over to Peddler's Village!

This past Saturday was an absolute perfect day, so, of course, me and my honey headed out on one of our famous “day-trips” only this one was outside of our normal Hudson Valley adventures. 

I’ve been trying for the last two years to get roe for my father when the shad is running but haven’t had any success locally.  We heard about the Shad Fest in Lambertville, NJ so we decided we would make the trip (about a 2 hour drive) in the hopes of finding roe for my father.  While we had a great time, unfortunately we again were unsuccessful in finding any roe for my father. 

There’s a short period in the spring when Alosa Sapidissima run. American Shad, which are anadromous like Salmon, leave the ocean and swim up fresh water rivers to mate. There’s even a bush called the shad bush which blossoms about the same time of year. People look for the signs with eager anticipation of this once a year treat. Huge festivals celebrate the shad up and down the rivers where they run. Shad roe, the large double roe sac is a delicacy that appears on many upscale menus during spring.  Unfortunately, the shad population has declined in recent years to dangerously low levels.  To learn more about saving the American Shad and other Hudson River signature fish which are similarly at risk, consider attending the 20th Annual Shad Festival and Hudson River Celebration at Boscobel in Garrison, NY.

None the less, the Shad Fest in Lambertville was fun.  We enjoyed the “world famous” crab cake sandwich provided by Bell’s Tavern

Bell's Tavern

for lunch and strolling up and down the streets visiting the local shops and area vendors.  A few of the area vendors/shops we visited and yes, purchased great items from include:

Me & My Dog Pet Bakery offering gourmet pet treats made from only the highest quality, fresh, all natural ingredients.  No sugar, salt, artificial flavors or preservatives of any kind.  Their treats are personally hand-rolled, cut and baked to insure freshness.  In fact, their treats are so fresh and preservative-free that they recommend refrigerating them when they arrive.  So if your 4-legged family member needs spoiling, shop their online store today!

Anneliese Honsinger has the most adorable Pet Bandanas!  Bandanas are available in multiple sizes, colors and patterns to choose from.  Yes, my little girl benefited most from out shopping LOL!

OMG, while we were not successful in finding roe, Ennis Market & Gourmet Deli? located at 5 North Union Street in Lambertville had the best shad chowder – I was thrilled to be able to get my Dad a container!

Overall, the people, food, arts & crafts were “wonderful”!

It was such a beautiful day and we still had the afternoon ahead of us so, at the suggestion of our neighbors (thanks Donna & Hank), we decided to head over to  Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, Bucks County, PA which was only about a 4 or 5 mile drive.  Oh my gosh, without a doubt Peddler’s Village is now on the list of One of my “Top Picks” places to visit! You can’t help but fall in love with this quaint village with its winding brick pathways to unique shopping and dining experience!  There is truly something for everyone from 70 specialty shops and six restaurants to the luxurious 70-room Golden Plough Inn and the Giggleberry Fair family entertainment center. They have 11 annual events.  We visited a few of these “wonderful” shops including:

My Favorite Shoppe – WOW, I loved this shop!  I bought the cuties little flower shelf people to along the edge of my kitchen’s ceiling molding. There were so many “wonderful” items in this store that I had to restrain myself.  I can promise you, we will be visiting this shop again (and again!).

Pewter Plus – I know I’m repeating myself but, I loved this shop too!  Susan (the owner) was a delight and pleasure to meet.  This shop surrounds you with a warm and inviting atmosphere from the minute you open the door.  Here you will find a display of traditional table and accessory pewter, tastefully surrounded with fine American folk art decor and wall enhancements.  As a collector of perfume bottle, I couldn’t resist purchasing this perfect mini pewter and green glass perfume bottle! 

Signs of the Village was fun.  Reading the many custom sayings made us laugh at a few and become impressed by others.  All of their signs are custom made and manufactured in their Feasterville warehouse or now right there in the Village! If you don’t see a particular saying you were hoping for, just let them know and they will custom make your sign. 

Pigadilly’s Ice Cream and Gelato okay, okay, you all know how much my honey and I love to indulge in our desserts while out ‘n ‘bout sooo, we of course had to stop in at Pigadilly’s!  But, we were good, as usual; we shared an absolutely delicious dish of black raspberry ice cream!!  

Elderth Pottery has a great selection of exceptional hand-made salt-glazed stoneware and redware using many of the techniques employed by the Pennsylvania Germans. 

Thomas Kinkade Gallery – here too I could have purchased a few specific pieces.  My father has bought me a few Kinkade pieces over the years as I am such a huge fan of his work.  I one specific piece that I saw that I hope to go back and purchase soon!

If you haven’t yet visited Peddler’s Village I strongly suggest making the trip!  It’s a great place for the entire family or for a weekend get-a-way!

As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!

Shad Fest 2010 – Lambertville, NJ pictures

Peddler’s Village pictures

An Early Spring Afternoon @ The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens!

The weather was absolutely spectacular this past weekend!  On Saturday afternoon we couldn’t wait to jump in the car and head out on one of our famous “day-trips”!  This time we headed south (shh, we ventured outside of the Hudson Valley, LOL) and went to the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

On one hand, we were amazed and how crowded (because of the “recession”) and on the other hand we expected many people enjoying quiet time reading under a tree or walking through the gardens as we were. 

We were visiting at the beginning of the BBG’s Cherry Blossom Season which is April 3 – May 2. We are planning a trip to DC next weekend to visit during the National Cherry Blossom Festival so we choose to pass on walking through the early blooms of these cherry trees.  Instead, we headed to the left side of the gardens and leisurely strolled along.  First walking along the brick path passing Shakespeare Garden, which wasn’t yet in bloom but still beautiful and peaceful. 

Fragrance Garden

Then it was on to the wonderful Fragrance Garden.  The BBG proudly recognizes this as “the first garden in the country designed for the sight-impaired.”  The fragrances will capture your senses and take your mind wondering to a tranquil place that we can, for a movement, forget all the worries of our lives.  

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Continuing along we wandered into the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.  The garden was the first Japanese garden to be created in an American public garden. According to BBG, “it is considered to be the masterpiece of its creator, Japanese landscape designer Takeo Shiota (1881-1943). Simplicity and “harmonious asymmetry” are important principles in Japanese gardens, making them more beautiful than most to me. 

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Then it was on to the spectacular Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza

Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza

When I say spectacular, I mean spectacular!  I was surprised to learn there are some 17 varieties of magnolia’s.  Magnolia Plaza is both breath taking and fragrant.  An elegant formal garden of magnificent trees spread in front of the beaux arts Administration Building. The sweet scent and showy blossoms of magnolias are among the early signs of spring at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In March, the star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) bloom, covering the trees.

Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza

Then on to Daffodil Hill which filled the hillside with bright yellows sure to put a smile on anyone’s face, including ours! 

Daffodils on Daffodil Hill

Just down the steps past the magnolia’s we approached Lily Pool Terrace.  

Jenkins Fountain at Lily Pool Terrace

 The centerpiece of Lily Pool Terrace is the Jenkins Fountain, directly in front of the Palm House. Two large pools are situated to its north and south, bordered on the west by the mixed perennial border, and on the east by the annual border.  Two large pools are planted with nearly 100 varieties of hardy and tropical water-lilies and sacred lotus—a stunning attraction in July, August, and September. 

A Day at Lily Pool Terrace

Then we stopped and enjoyed a great lunch at the Terrace Café.  The café offers delightful outdoor dinning with a “wonderful menu of gourmet lunches & beverages from spring to early fall.  How special lunch was when we sat with another couple that is also planning on visiting the DC area next weekend for the final weekend of the National Cherry Blossom Festival; maybe we’ll see them in DC!

 Now for all you shopaholics, no trip (be it a “day-trip” or week long vacation) is complete without some shopping, but of course!  The BBGarden now has two shops, both located on Lily Pool Terrace.

The Gift Shop carries some unique stationery, personal accessories, and items for your home. Many items are exclusive to the Garden, including signature products featuring the Garden’s distinctive logo. Several products that utilize the artwork of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Florilegeum Society are also available.  If you can’t get to the garden, consider visiting the online Garden Gift shop

The Garden Shop carries everything for the garden, books, and gifts for children. New York Magazinewrites that “the (garden) shop has an amazing selection of plants … and features one of the most extensive selections of bulbs and seeds in the city.” The shop, located in Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s spectacular Steinhardt Conservatory complex, carries just about everything a gardener could want, from plants to tools to garden supplies, as well as an extensive collection of gardening books.

We had a great afternoon at the BBG and if you love flowers, gardening, strolling along pathways or simply enjoy nature and the outdoors, we encourage you to consider making a visit too. 

As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!

Beautiful!Persian Fritillary-Lily Family

Alpine Squill-Hyacinth Family

FEBRUARY: VALENTINES = NY to FL & BACK!

As February draws to its end, I look back and can’t believe the month is over already.  I know it is the shortest month but golly, seems like it flew by and at the end of the month the Hudson Valley saw one of its biggest snow storms in years!

My Valentines 2010 Roses

I was treated to long stem roses and a wonderful brunch at Overlook Lodge at Bear Mountain for Valentine’s Day! 

SUNDAY BRUNCH OVERLOOK LODGE at BEAR MT

The food was delicious as we enjoyed a grand view overlooking the Hudson River and its winter background. 

Our view while having brunch

Sunday Brunch @ Overlook Lodge at Bear Mt

My Healthy Brunch-egg white omlete-fruits and veggies

After a wonderful Valentine’s Brunch at Overlook Lodge at Bear Mountain, we headed south for a long weekend in the sunshine state; FL. 

Moss Tree

Our trip covered over 500 miles in just 4 short days. 

It was an action packed fun filled weekend of visiting family and friends from coast to coast.  First stop, was an overnight stay on the east coast in Ft. Lauderdale.  Then early the next morning we headed to Delray Beach to have brunch with family.  Next, we set out on a 4 hour drive across the state to Bradenton on the west coast. While traveling across the famous “Alligator Alley” (I-75) we saw several alligator along the banks. 

Alligator along Alligator Alley in FL

Arriving in Bradenton late afternoon/early evening, we enjoyed dinner and an overnight stay with more family! 

Bradenton FL

Early next morning we were in the car as we set out for a 3 hour drive further north & west to our next destination of Dunnellon, FL

Dunnellon FL

Arriving in Dunnellon late morning we now enjoyed a wonderful lunch with even more family (yes, I have family and/or friends practically in every corner of the state LOL).  

After a restful night at my aunts in Dunnellon, we headed out towards Cedar Key for a day of fun in the sun! Cedar Key is a quiet island filled with nature’s beauty!  A place that allows you to stop, relax and enjoy the unique qualities of the coastal environment.  One of my “Top Picks” and a place we can’t wait to go back and vist and maybe spend a week or weekend!  The streets are lined with my favorite type of unique shops and great waterfront dining!  We had lunch at Kona Joe’s Island Cafe overlooking the gulf!

Kona Joe's Island Cafe Cedar Key FL

Strolling along the streets of Cedar Key FL

All in all, we had a great month and great trip to FL – even if it was one of their coldest winters in 40 years some of the locals told us. 

Pelicans & birds in Cedar Key FL

As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!

Supporting the Verplanck Fire Department

Verplanck Fire Department

As a lifelong resident of the tiny hamlet of Verplanck, I am proud that my great grandfather was among the founding members of the Verplanck Fire Department  (VFD) now on 8th Street in Verplanck, NY, and my father also served in the department. 

The VFD celebrated 80th birthday last year!  The VFD is a volunteer fire department located in Westchester County, NY. They primarily serve and protect the residential hamlet of Verplanck within the Town of Cortlandt. In addition to this residential area, the Verplanck Fire District includes several commercial sites including the Indian Point nuclear power station located in the neighboring town of Buchanan.

The Department answers approximately 200 alarms per year, consisting of Fire Alarms, EMS, Auto Accidents, Boating Incidents on the Hudson River, and other emergencies. We provide mutual aid to our neighboring departments of Montrose and Buchanan as well as the City of Peekskill.

Besides the obvious reason of supporting my local fire department, I’m excited to have the chance of winning a 52″ Samsung HDTV & Samsung Home Theater System w/Blu-ray player! $5 a ticket or 5 for $20! 

Verplanck Fire Dept Raffle

The drawing will be Sunday July 18, 2010 *** THE WINNER MUST PICK UP THE PRIZE AT THE VERPLANCK FIREHOUSE IN VER…PLANCK NY OR PAY ALL SHIPPING COSTS*** If you would like to purchase tickets please send an email to verplanckfire@gmail.com with your order. Please be sure to include your name, address and phone number along with how.many tickets you want. 

You will receive your tickets along with a self- addressed stamped envelope. When you get the tickets, just return the ticket stubs along with your payment. If you plan to pay by check, please make check payable to the Verplanck Fire Protective Association.

 Follow the Verplanck Fire Department is on Facebook

 As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!

2009 A Year in Review – 2010 A Look Ahead

Winter sunset over Lake Meahagh-Verplanck, NY

Winter sunset over Lake Meahagh-Verplanck, NY

It seems appropriate to take some time to reflect on the year which is about to come to an end, 2009.  For me, reflecting back over the years brings smiles to my face J and joy in my heart for I was blessed with a wonderful year!  

The year was filled with great times spent with my family and exciting and fun-filled “day-trips” with my fiancé.  From celebrating birthdays and holidays and weekends with my family to fishing excursions in and around the area, state and county fairs, trips to the Catskills, Newport, waterfront dining on the Hudson River and more!

 

In April 2009 I launched my “Wonderful Wonders” blog which I’m thrilled to say has been viewed nearly 1,000 since it’s launch!  So to all my readers, I say thank you for taking the time to stop by and read about my travels and adventures.  I am looking forward to another year sharing with you places we visit in the hopes that you may find them interesting and want to visit if you hadn’t already.  Warning…..although the snow can be beautiful (as seen in the picture above of a beautiful sunset over Lake Meahagh in Verplanck, NY) I am not a huge fan of the cold so I do not do as much getting out ‘n ‘bout in the winter, as such, my blogging will be a bit less frequent. 

 

I hope we all take a moment to look back and reflect on the year as this helps us to remember; remember the events and activities we were fortunate to have been a part of and the people that we were blessed to have in our lives over the year. 

Happy New Year to all!

 

As always, I encourage all of you to take the time to stop and “wonder” – wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Christmas 2009

front-window-org-size-sm1

I can’t believe it is Christmas and 2009 will be coming to an end.  As my “honey” says, we had an “action packed-fun filled” summer filled with absolutely “wonderful” day-trips, long weekends and fabulous waterfront dining excersions!

Our house is decorated for Christmas, the gifts are purchased and wrapped, the cards are written and mailed, the baking is done as we  sit back to enjoy this very special time of year.  

our-tree-sm1For me, Christmas has always been a time of love surrounded by family.  I am truly blessed!

As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today)!

Flowers, planting and love….

Welcome to my gardenMy welcome stepping stone and imagine rock are nestled in my garden as you approach my front door.  I live in a condominium so gardening space is limited so I love tucking stepping stones and/or ornamental objects where ever possible. 

cimg2219 Purple Daylillies in full bloom One lonely yellow daylillie

For me I find peace in my garden.  While I am certainly not an expert gardener I so love the beauty.  Whether it’s my container garden on my deck cimg22021or the beauty of my perennials I love “play’in in the dirt.”  I’m certain that if I had a house with property we wouldn’t need to worry about cutting the grass as there would be a variety of flower gardens in each section of the yard!  

Andrea Bocelli Concert

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Andrea Bocelli perform at Madison Square in NYC this past week! 

We started the evening with dinner at Hill Country BBQ at 30 West 26th Street.  Best BBQ in NY – NY Magazine’s 2008 Best of NY.

Hill Country BBQ

Inside @ Hill CountryInside of Hill Country

For some reason my inside pictures didn’t really turn out too well but hopefully you can see what a different, unique and amazing place!

After a delious BBQ dinner it was off to Madison Square Garden to see Andrea Bocelli.   

Here is just a tiny sampling of how wonderful the evening was. 

Andrea Bocelli concert @ Madison Square Garden

If you ever get the chance to see Andrea Bocelli I would highly suggest it–he is an amazing performer!

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