Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Parade

As sson as I found out there was going to be a Penguins victory parade I started pondering the best course of action to take . Should I drive…should I take the bus in …the T out…drive to the T and take the T…well I decided to take the bus that stops about 70 yards from my front door…Having an injured knee I did not want to walk more than I really needed . So at 8:07 I boarded the 36 Banksville to head on down for the 11 oclock parade…so usually a quick trip the ride was about 40 minutes due to rush hour traffic . As I slowly walked up the boulevard I noticed there were more people than the previous year at about the same time of day…at the end of the day the estimated crowd was 650,000 people…I say…no way…maybe 500,000 which is still more than the previous years estimated crowd of 400,000 …I really do not know how they guesstimate .

Anyway I had concerns about sun and length of time to wait…I found my place and had a front row view…There was still 2 hours before the parade…I tried to make small talk with folks around me…but no one was very talkative…and recovering from a torn meniscus and having plantars fasciitis I decided to sit down on the ground…shortly after more and more people were gathering around when 2 lovely women came up near me and one asked…”do you think when the parade starts there would be room for us when you stand up ? ” I assured them we could all fit . And then they sat on the ground with me . And the next two hours flew by as we chatted mostly about hockey… so I learned that Linda and Linsay are Penguins fans and they came all the way down from Ontario…that is pretty awesome support…and as we sat on the ground …most of the people stood around us…shielding us from the sun…I didnt plan this it just happened…and before I knew it…the parade was closely approaching…so we stood up and we all fit in the space I had occupied sitting and with my camera gear and water

North Allegheny band started it off right behind the police escort…Surprisingly NA had on their full dress…I thought it was ridiculous…and found out later they were not allowed to drink fluids as they marched…the rest of the bands …at least that I can recall…Mt lebanon , Allderdice…Penn Trafford and Gateway…all were more reasonable wearing t shirts and shorts…many of them in Penguins t’s

And as the players approached the photographers gathered in front of us…some moved but one guy in particular liked staying right in front of us…both Linda and Linsay asked him to be considerate and stay low or move up or below us…he just ignored the requests… I know he is doing his job…but being kind is appreciated and it seemed sometime he stayed there just to be annoying . So I was using a short 12-55 mm zoom…so I ended up zooming in further up the street or shoot as the players got behind us…though many shots look similar…that is what you get when you are locked in…but I think I got an image or 2 that I really like .

As the parade ended near us it was time to bid farewell to my new friends…not only did they give me the time of day and their friendship but Linda also gave me a 125th anniversay of the Stanley Cup Canadian quarter…it made it home safely Linda…not to be spent

So here are a bunch of images from the parade…

Best Friends Day

this is short and sweet…for most of my 63 years I have shared my life with dogs…here are some of my best friends


Club Rugby Playoffs

the weekend a week ago I had the good fortune of sitting and watching some top quality rugby at Founders field as the playoffs for DI , DII and DIII took place . Both mens and womens

I apologize for the lack of variety or amount of images as some health issues are limiting my abilities

Anyway the match I enjoyed the most was NYAC v Mystic River in the quarterfinals…NYAC ended up winning and was in control but this match was so well played and the hitting was hard…it was a shame someone had to lose . NYAC went on to beat Chicago Lions in the semifinals ….so NYAC is headed to Colorado for the finals

The next match I enjoyed was in the semifinals on Sunday morning…Detroit Tradesmen v Life Running Eagles…I thought the turning point in the game was when the match was knotted…I think at 18…and Life was gaining momentum…but all of a sudden Detroit gets the ball back…and instead of trying to control play and posession they decide to kick the ball back to the Eagles…game over as Life took control of the game from there…They go on to Colorado as well . I was informed by a knowledgeable rugger you dont give up posession like detroit did…it certainly cost them…but it was an entertaining match

And in the womens the Raleigh Venom took on Nova in a defensive struggle…I think the venom led 3-0 at the half and things became a bit more offense oriented and raleigh held on to win 18-10 sending the Venom to the Finals as well

I did not get see a lot and missed more games than I was there for but congratulations to the winners for moving on and good luck in the finals…bring those cups back east

Do You Want To Build A Snowman ?

Well it is almost Christmas and there is no snow on the ground . I do live in the northeast and temperatures have been fluctuating so the snow we use to have is gone and now looking at a rainy Christmas day…as I am writing this i am listening to fairy Tale of New York…one of my favorite Christmas songs…and to get into the Christmas spirit I do want to build a snowman . I was inspired by work that I saw on pinterest …from a page called…CAKE TIME…it is written in Polish but you can get an English translation . I did not use her chocolate cookie recipe …only her idea…I used a chocolate sugar cookie on Sweetopia…that is very chocolaty

So I put these two things together . Cake Time uses sugar paste to coat her cookies…I instead used the glaze that is…2 pounds confectioners sugar…10 T karo…10 T milk…and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon emulsion and a teaspoon of cream cheese flavoring . So I cut out 3 different sizes of round cookies…I found very inexpensive plastic round cutters on amazon…I then iced them all….let them dry 12 hours…and then I used my Wilton food writers to start drawing arms and eyes and a mouth….after that dried I started stacking cookies…using frosting as glue…I used 5 cookies per 1 snowperson .

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a grand New Year

It Took 62 Plus Years

Most men have a nice tool box and not just a screw driver and hammer and needle nosed pliers…they have things I cannot even pronounce in there . If you looked in mine there was a hammer…a screwdriver…only one but if you pulled of the flathead screwdriver part and flipped it end to end you would also have a phillips head screw driver…and needle nose pliers …and to find those you would have to dig through my coins and cards and cups and balls and books by David roth …John Mendoza and an encyclopedia by Tarbell …complete course of magic . WellI finally made a giant leap as I was working on a project…I found a mirror in someones garbage and decided to try and do something with it…and as the project was winding down I was trying to figure out how I was going to attach the new back to the mirror…it was at that moment…I became a man .


the staple gun…not only does it insert staples…it can do brads as well…I read the directions…and of course being who I am…I became afraid of it…Hell this thing could kill someone…that came to mind after watching a recent Bones rerun in which they determined the victim was killed by a nail gun…So i learned how to load the gun with staples and brads…and as I finished attaching the back to the mirror….I disengaged the rest of the staples rendering the gun harmless

Well any way i found this perfectly good mirror


No major damage and the mirror was in excellent reflecting condition…but of course…that is not what I wanted

I went to youtube to find out how to distress a mirror…So I had to remove the back from the mirror and then I had to remove the paint from the back of the mirror…I used Citristrip


This is a pretty green product…the odor was not too bad and once applied to the back of the mirror it took around 30 minutes and the paint came off easily with a plastic scraper…to reveal copper and silver backing on the mirror.

So I wanted to make the reflecting part look older…I could have used muratic acid…but then me being me again…acid scares me…so I went with a mixture of bleach and water…this became a complete experiment for me…as i was not getting quite the effect I wanted…to the point that I had removed much more of the silver than what I really wanted .So to the rescue


Rustoleum mirror effect paint…you can use this on a plain piece of glass and make it a mirror …but you need to paint the back side of the glass to get the effect…So Iused it and still wanted some distress…so I used a mixture of vinegar and water and sprinkled it on the mirror glass…before I painted…so wherever there was water and vinegar the paint would not stick…I did this with 5 layers until I got what I was looking for.

And sometimes things just happen…I had no intention when I started on this to make it a winter or holiday decoration…but that is what happened…it is full of memories of my Mom….who…on cold winter mornings was making us hot cocoa on the stovetop….putting in an enamel coated pan a mixture of milk sugar and hershey’s cocoa…she always made it perfect…and helping my Mom with her holiday cards while she was in a nursing home…even at the age of 87-88-89 she thought it was important to add a hand written message in the card…I pretty much saw Mom 5 days a week…sometimes more often as I lived close by…She was working on a card for me…and when she gave me the card and I opened it…it said…Let it it Snow ! I just laughed …It made me feel so good…my Mom really knew me…Every year for my birthday I always wished for snow…I still have that card from Mom

So working on this project maybe just a step closer to becoming a man…I do not have power tools…but the staple gun is a step in the right direction

Anyway here are some images of my project

Good for the USA…and the World

I am glad the election is drawing to a finale .

And I want to address the people who are still undecided…or who are choosing not to vote or vote for a third party .

First of all a vote for a third party candidate is not throwing it away…it is a vote for Trump…so actually your protest vote will actually help trump so you are actually deciding to support him whether you realize that or not .Here is a man who constantly lies …continues to lie and believes his lies . Big big lie…Hillary sold uranium to the Russians…not true…there were nine agencies including one from the Canadian government. Hillary was not involved…and she had no veto power to stop it . Benghazi…Hillary took the fall for this but there were many parties responsible for this …including the republican controlled Congress who would not give the secretary of state more funds to secure not only the embassy in Benghazi…but to shore up all US embassies as …many …many …many are unsecured…again Hillary tried but Congress refused to help…Dr Ann Stevens  sister to the late ambassador Chris Stevens places the blame   with Congress failing to act on Clintons requests.

Another lie…Hillary will take your guns…another lie…you will be able to keep your guns under Hillary …she wants to tie up loopholes…make it a bit tougher to get a gun…especially wanting to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill…pretty good idea if you ask me .

Hilary supports the working man…Trump just the rich man…giving the rich a tax break…that does not help our economy…only the rich…the rich get richer and the poor poorer . Hillary’s plan to stimulate job growth …as well as Trump’s have been analyzed by experts…and their conclusion…under trump the USA loses jobs…under Clinton millions of jobs are added .

All of the scandals about Hillary have been started by the gop…They have been attacking her…and she is still standing . Her emails…there is nothing damaging in there…did you read them…if you did you would see that Hillary Clinton helps the people…helps the children…helps the elderly . She has been dedicated to service making many sacrifices…yet when Trump was asked…what sacrifices have you made…he said…I built great structures…really ?

Also trump is not a billionaire…he says he is but if he were he would show us his income tax files…show us how uncharitable he is . He is a racist , sexist , mysogonist…and I could go on and on…but simply the guy is a moron . He has no plan…and lately he has turned into a puppet …just a mouth piece for the GOP telling him what to say .And the way Isee it…The republicans have been about the party…not about representing the people . Look at our past democrat presidents…I think they have kept our economy in good shape . President Bill Clinton left the country in pretty good shape as well as President Obama .

So…the man without a plan…a hater…wants to divide this country….or Hillary who not only has a vision but has a plan to enact that vision for the good of the people the nation the world

For any decent human being the choice is easy…Trump made that clear from day one . He is truly unfit .

Hope you can find a few minutes in your day tomorrow to vote for Hillary

They aren’t called quickbreads for nothing

This started…well it started 48 years ago…learning how to bake with my Mom . She was such a good teacher…so patient and nary a negative word .

Well now in my more elder years I still prefer to bake from scratch but I am not opposed to using a mix once in a while

I have been having my eye on the Nordic Ware autumn cakelets pan . Nordic Ware makes really nice products…with great detail…and in most cases easy to clean up as is the case with this pan

So I bought the pan and the Williams -Sonoma gingerbread spice quickbread mix for 12.95…I also bought the trader Joe’s gluten free Pumpkin bread and muffin mix for 3.99

Both mixes have similar mixing directions…one you add water…one you add milk…one you add oil…one you add melted butter…and they both use 2 eggs

My taste test reveals…and I am the only taster in this test…is that they taste very much alike but I find the Trader Josef”s to be more spicy and very similar to a gingerbread . I had hard time trying to taste the pumpkin…I wish there was more of a pumpkin taste…so to me they both taste like gingerbread…and that is fine with me…I love gingerbread and the spicier the better…plus there is a huge difference in price…all things considered this is a TKO for Trader Joe’s.

I made a thin glaze of some maple syrup and powder sugar and a little water

Erie Tall Ships

Had an iopportunity to go up to Erie late yesterday

The Erie Tall Ships Festival was winding down . I was traveling with my good friends Kaba and Sammy so we went straight out to the peninsula for a little 80 minute hike . On our way out to the Oliver Hazard Perry monument…Perry known for “Don’t give up the ship . ” and “We have met the enemy and they are ours . ” and helping to win the Battle of Lake Erie…a great turning point in the War of 1812…any way as we traveled out the peninsula …I spotted a schooner on the bay…and later as we got out of the car for our hike we spotted the 60 foot rubber duck…luckily I took a picture then because on our way back to the car we saw the rubber duck deflate very quickly…by the time it took us to walk half a mile…that duck was downright flat …It was bigger than the one we had in Pittsburgh…but it looked a lot more flimsy….nonetheless…I love the idea of the giant rubber ducks…they make me smile.

So we headed off the peninsula…passing by Sara’s without even stopping for an orange sherbet/ vanilla twist cone…I headed to the Giant Eagle in the Yorktowne Plaza to get the kids something to eat…I got them some canned chicken…fully cooked and 97% fat free…so they were fed and watered…and then we ventured over to the Bayfront area to get closer to the tall ships…the festival was long over….but there was still plenty of people milling around and visiting local eateries and getting ready to watch the fireworks….So Sammy Kaba and myself just did an easy stroll around the beautiful bayfront area…by the time we were done meeting people and getting back into the car it was 7:30…not staying for fireworks…Sammy is not a fan…we headed home

Coming home we had about 45 minutes of light…got us down to around Meadville…It became darker and darker and by the time we reached Grove City there was no longer any light on the western horizon . We listened to Alice Cooper’s show on the buzz of the Wuzz…WUZZ titusville , oil city radio station. He did not play many tunes that I cared for…but I did learn the Who were once called the Detours…this was before Keith Moon was the drummer…Maybe that explains to me why the Who had an upwards arrow as part of their logo

Anyway…getting closer to home I switched to WDVE…and just getting a little tired…a man did not come on the radio telling me how white my shirts should be…but Jim Morrison did tell me to keep my eyes on the road my hands upon the wheel…and I did…I like driving in the dark… as long as the roads are dry…then DVE played an annoying Steve Miller song…the special effects just hurt my ears…so I turned off the radio….and in ten minutes I needed something to keep me alert…so back on the radio comes…and I am thinking…I can be listening to the radio with my brother Joe…even though we are 3,000 miles apart…so I put on WYEP…Joe listen to YEP on Sunday nights for bluegrass…so after a few bluegrass ballads…on comes…Tennesse Blues…there is nothing bluesy about it to me…lot of high speed picken goin on here…and then that was followed by Big Stone Gap…another faced paced tune…this was like getting a double shot of a dark roast ethiopian yirgacheffe right into a vein

Needless to say we all made it home safely…the dogs were tired …made some new acquaintances…and always enjoy being near the water

Be well all…have a great week…the weather is getting cooler and easier to breathe

A few images from our trip

Lemon Lavender Biscotti

I love biscotti…well I just love food…looking through different recipes  I was inspired by a lemon almond biscotti recipe on the  King Arthur Flour site …so I played around with it and made a few changes…and this is what I came up with


Lemon Lavender Orange Blossom Honey Biscotti

preheat oven to 350

2 1/4 cups of flour….I do love King Arthur flour but this time I used Trader Joe’s      ……………………………………unbleached white flour

1.5 t  baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

combine the above dry ingredients together and set aside

1 stick of light butter….I used Land o ‘ Lakes…softened

1/3 c sugar

1/3 c orange blossom honey

1 T lemon zest

2 t vanilla

3 T lemon juice

1 egg

2 egg whites

2 T dried lavender


so in a mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar……add the honey and continue mixing for a minute or two

pulverize the lavender to release the oils…I do this in a coffee grinder

add the lavender…the lemon zest…the vanilla …and the lemon juice….mix until well combined in the butter/sugar/honey mixture

add the egg…mix until incorporated and then add egg whites and beat on medium high for 2 more minutes


slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture…..the dough /batter will be on the soft side

line a baking sheet with parchment

with a rubber spatula…help ease the dough out of the bowl onto the parchment…and I then  flour my hands to pat the dough into shape…the dough takes up just about the entire length of the pan…except for maybe 2.5 inches on either end of the baking sheet

I then put it in the oven for 30 minutes after 30 minutes I take them out and let them rest

Lower the oven to 300 degrees…and let the log rest for 20 minutes…after the 20 minutes start slicing the log into 1/2 inch slices…I ended up with 20 cookies…large cookies…take the slices and place them back in the oven for another 20 minutes

take them out and let them cool


so while cooling I make a lavender lemon glaze…I do not measure when Imake a glaze…but I did measure out 1  T dried lavender buds…and again pulverized them in the coffee grinder…I then used roughly 3 T lemon  juice….and added confectioners sugar until I reached a consistency I liked…I then piped the glaze onto the cooled cookies

Biscotti are great by themselves…or for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee…or a mid day snack with a glass of milk…no matter how you like them…they won’t last long and you may be hearing requests for….more ?


The table  I used to photograph the cookies is just a plain square raw wood table from Ikea . I painted it with chalk paint …I used the folkart chalk paint that you can get at Jo-An fabrics…..I used Java as a base and then painted patina  on top  …I then used a crackle medium on top that crackles clear and gives a crackle like you might see on porcelain…it was made by decoart…I don’t think I will ever use it again…even though I like the end results it produces….there are no warning on the bottle…but while using this …my tongue started to go numb and I started getting heart palpitations…as soon as I got away from this stuff I started feeling better…so after the crackle I started to distress the rest of the paint with just a wet rag…a little sand paper… a little steel wool…and then i finished it off doing a little dry brushing…now i need on figuring out how to seal it .


Macarons v Macaroons

I did a web search the other day…I typed in…. macaroons and what I got was a lot of results for macarons…and the first five listings were all of french macarons…The web is supposed to be so smart…search engines are supposed to give us the best results…but even it does not know the difference .

I had to type in coconut macaroons…and then I got what I was looking for.

Macaroons are basically coconut based…and macarons are nut based…usually almond meal…but you can use hazelnut meal as well or grind up your own pecans or whatever nut you may have on hand

Macaroons are basically flaked sweetened coconut…egg whites , sugar and a little flour….and a flavoring…I like vanilla or almond


and when they are done baking and cooled …I sometimes dip them in some dark chocolate. I do not have a recipe handy but usually on the bag of coconut there is a recipe for these cookies


so this is what a macaroon looks like


Now as simple as it is to make a macaroon and takes up very little time…macarons take up a lot more time…but I find it worth it . I weigh my ingredients  using an inexpensive kitchen scale…mine you can also weigh mail on it as well… so much for the kitchen partmac1


so I made here is a raspberry macaron with a champagne buttercreamcheese frosting

115 g Almond flour/meal

30 g freeze dried raspberries…I get mine from Trader Joe’s

230 g confectioners sugar…make sure it is pure and does not contain cornstarch

so in a coffee mill  I will pulverize the raspberries into a powder…..I place that into the sifter…and after sifting there may be some seeds still in the sifter…I throw those out …and then sift the almond meal…and then the powder sugar….sift them all together

then you are going to get

144 g egg whites

pinch of cream of tartar

72 g  sugar

beat the egg whites on low for a couple minutes…then move to medium speed for another minute or two…as soft peaks form I add the cream of tartar and slowly add the sugar a little at a time I usually divide it in thirds…keep beating until your eggs whites form stiff peaks


then you will take the sifted dry ingredients and fold into the egg whites…but you dont have to be careful in folding in the dry ingredients…actually you want to deflate the egg whites…so as you fold and turn you also smoosh the egg whites up the sides of the bowl…this may take anywhere from 35-50 folding actions…what you want is the batter to be like a lava consistency

Then I put the batter into a piping bag and start to pipe the cookies onto a cookie sheet that i have lined with parchment with a template…I will put another sheet of parchment on top of the template that I created using a cap from some medication bottle that produces a cookie of about 1.25 inches and then before baking I slide the template out



so pipe 2 pans of cookies…this will make 48 shells…or 24 completed cookies…provided none of the shells brake…or you decide to sample…also you will want to drop the pans onto a counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles


from here I let the cookies rest for 30 minutes with a fan blowing across them …before putting them in the oven the surface should be dry to touch…I also bake only one sheet at a time….in a 300 degree oven for 16 minutes…let cool completely and then fill with the champagne buttercreamcheese frosting…but you could fill these with a raspberry preserve or a lemon  or lime curd as well



Champagne Butter Cream


this recipe was inspired by Stacy at Wicked Good Kitchen


5 cups powdered sugar

1 cup pink champagne

1/4 t almond emulsion or almond extract

1 cup butter softened

1 cup cream cheese…do not use fat free or neufchatel…your frosting will be too runny

1/3 cup powdered original coffee mate

2 T flour

pinch of salt

pour the champagne into a saucepot and reduce to half a cup

have the powdered sugar in your mixing bowl and slowly pour the hot champagne reduction into the sugar…keep mixing until the mixture has cooled down


add the butter until completely combined

add the cream cheese till completely combined

add the flour …coffee mate and almond emulsion

beat until light and fluffy…if too stiff add a little more champagne or water…if too thin add a bit more powdered sugar


Pipe this onto a half shell and complete with another on top