Monday, December 31, 2012

vendor love: lake mohawk flower company

Lake Mohawk Flower Company
4 West Shore Trail
Lake Mohawk, (Sparta) NJ 07871
(973) 729-6660

When planning our rustic, lakeside wedding, several guiding themes came through with the choice of flowers. Firstly, I wanted a cascade bouquet of white calla lilies. (I have always preferred callas to roses and found the cascade style, popular in the first half of the twentieth century, to be quite whimsical.) Secondly, I wanted the bridesmaids' and other complimentary ceremonial bouquets to be unfussy and capture the rustic quality of our summer wedding (which was held at a small country parish and the local country club). Thirdly, in keeping with the bird theme present throughout our wedding, I wanted to utilize decorative birdcages as centerpieces. (I had ordered a bunch from an online party wholesaler.)

With such a clear and specific vision, you'd think nothing would surprise me. But it did! Our florist Cathy Chute of Lake Mohawk Flower Company took these basic ideas and far surpassed my wildest imagination! The flowers she put together for each element of our wedding were nothing short of exceptional.

She was a doll to work with and kept within our budget. Her work was like a masterpiece and the flowers held up beautifully throughout the intense August heat. But let me allow her extraordinary work to speak for itself. In these lovely, candid photos taken by family and friends, it's easy to see her gifts:

Bride's Bouquet
The altar

Framing the pews
Bridesmaids' Bouquet
A birdcage on the sweetheart table

Sunday, December 30, 2012

coastal village star: mattebella vineyards

Mattebella Vineyards
46005 Route 25 (Main Road)
Southold, NY 11971
(631) 655-9554
We love wine, we do. In what has become a brimming agro-touristic industry on the
East End of Long Island, Mattebella Vineyards in particular stands out for making wines that are well, loveable. I extol the virtues of this particular winery not as a wine connoisseur but as someone who enjoys a truly solid, memorable wine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
We discovered Mattebella by accident during one of our wine trips. It’s one of the
few places that doesn’t have a hulking building and landscaping that seems to be East End de riguer (frequently eclipsing the quality of the actual wine at these places.) Not the case here, as the crew at Mattebella have a simple little tasting cabin and instead focus their energy on the art of wine-making. After doing several tastings here over the past few years, those glowing Wine Spectator reviews and Jean Georges’ notice don’t surprise. Proprietors Mark and Christine Tobin are as lovely as their wines. While many of LI’s wineries aspire to create a product that has an “Old World” style, it’s Mattebella that can assert that claim. The whites are infinitely drinkable (even stand-alone) and tend more to a Chablis minerality (though curiously of the ones we’ve had here, the new '10 Chard is the most fruit-forward yet). The Reds are profound and earthy; the’07 Old World Blend is beautifully structured, and the Famiglia Red has more gravitas (and bang for your buck) than just about any red table wine, anywhere. We loved the wines so much that we bought a dozen cases of the ’09 Chard and the Famiglia Red for our wedding--- a “taste of Long Island” to represent New York (and keep guests very happy) during our out-of-state rustic, lakeside wedding.

Friday, December 28, 2012

coastal cheap and chic #3: all it takes is paint!

Location, location, location.

The outward modesty of one's home is irrelevant. (Yes, I raise my eyebrows on House Hunters when I see young newlyweds looking for a house in another part of the country bemoaning the "ugly" cream carpet in a brand-spankin'-new 2500+ sq. ft house selling for $110,000.) Living on Long Island (like much of the metro NYC area) ain't cheap--- even moreso if you're living in a quiet town with a solid school district.

When we moved into Pond House, we were surprised by the amount of cosmetic work it would need. We pick and choose our battles. In spite of the expenses involved, one high-impact room of the house, our "Study" (a sort of bonus living room) ended up being relatively inexpensive to update, as it mostly just called for paint.

The faux-wood panelling received a coat of warm, cream-coloured paint, and the ceiling was painted a deep gold. The fireplace, which I tackled first, was a bit more complicated. It featured a very dated style of brick work and a stove insert, which ---while practical for heating the home--- was not attractive and prevented us from really enjoying the sight of a fire in the fireplace. Unfortunately, the insert was also more than 3 times my weight, so taking it out wasn't an option, and paying someone to take it away and junk it would have been exorbinant and wasteful. (Enter Craigslist.) We managed to find a happy home for the stove and that person had the manpower to transport it. Finally, I went to work coating the brick work with a masonry primer. Masonry primer was a challenge--- if I wanted to properly conceal the dark grout, I had to really push the primer in forcefully with a brush. Applying it well would later indicate the success of the paint adhering to the entire face of the fireplace.

Disclaimer: the below pictures were taken with my camera phone, which is trapped in 2005.

The scary fireplace insert. It still gives me the heebie-jeebies
like a villain from a 1970's claymation cartoon.

The three layers visisble at once: the semi-gloss, the primer, and the original brick.
As you can see, the wall colour was being debated yet... LOL!

Afterward the masonry primer, several coats of semi-gloss in Martha Stewart Picket Fence were added. Picked up a cool sunburst mirror at Target to the tune of twelve bucks, and with a minor investment in furniture and accessories, here we are!

Sorry, this pic is very poorly lit. (But you can get the idea.)
Happy holiday mantel. :)
Fireplace screen & accessories, The Home Depot; bottle, Home Goods; bronze-finish candle holders, Target;
cream candles, Ikea; gold curtains, Home Goods; curtain rods, The Home Depot; Lack table in high-gloss white, Ikea; bookcases, Home Decorators Collection; bronze Morrocan print lampshade, Lowe's; 
spray-painted lamp table base, family hand-me-down, property o' DH; framed printed, blogger's own.
(Not visible: natural fiber area rug, Home Goods; brown leather storage footstools, TJMaxx.)

There are some beautiful brick fireplaces out there, however if yours is like ours, a little paint can go a long way without breaking the bank! To find some great inspiration, simply click here.

two restaurant reviews ...and a dollop of jones beach.

Three Saturdays ago found us at Maze NYC among Jay Cardinal's dear friends. (Maze is the less formal of Gordon Ramsey's two restaurants located in the London, a mid-town hotel.)

The commute over the East River from Long Island (which enables one to behold three boroughs at once) is possibly one of the most breathtaking sights in the world.  (The part that involves driving through the middle of the island via 34th street is not. Never again, as I will override the car's GPS and tweak the route next time.)

Suffice to say, after we located parking in the fifties and made our way to the London, we were delighted with the best of company and a real culinary treat.  Maze had a slightly dated, seventies glow to it, but it also had a warmth. Though the place was very busy, we didn't find it noisy or overcrowded. The service would have made Chef Ramsey himself blush, so we'll be charitable and skip right to the food, which was excellent. We all went with the five-course tasting menu. The cauliflower soup was excellent, and the little parmesan crisp acompanying it was absolutely delightful. The ovenbaked beetroots with celeriac and lemon confit were heavenly. The sea scallops were perfectly done; the black cod was fair. The Valrhona chocolate fondant had a depth without being overwhelmingly sweet, and the ice-cream that accompanied it presented a lot of unexpected flavours.

Maze (at the London) on Urbanspoon

Yesterday, Jay Cardinal and I took a little road trip. Since the summer craziness has ended, I've had a strong desire to go for a drive on the Ocean Parkway. After Sandy, that became impossible; two months after the storm, the road has been partially reopened, and we were able to do just that. We traveled as far as the western most barrier islands to Lido Beach and Long Beach. It is amazing the amount of cleanup that has transpired in such a short time, but there is still a long ways to go. Signs of the storm's devastation were visible everywhere, in the dumpsters and filth that lined the streets as well as the boarded up garages and lower floors of townhomes. How these people manage is beyond me. At the same time, the businesses along the main drag have reopened, and it was so good to see the parking lots and streets full.

Views of Jones Beach from Field 6

On the way home, we travelled a stretch of 27a and found ourselves in Islip at Port Royal (which was featured in an episode of Man vs. Food). Our ambitions weren't as lofty as Adam Richman's; we just wanted a decent pint and a tie-one-over-to-dinner snack. The bartender couldn't have been lovelier, and she let us try a few beers. Palm was a polite, Belgian ale with a curious nose ---pickle--- (I'm not kidding), and Jim went with a wonderful, floral Peak Organic (don't laugh) seasonal beer. We split the Seven Seas Sampler. For pub food, it hit the spot, and the service was excellent. If we're in the neighborhood again, I'm sure we'll stop in.

Port Royal Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 7, 2012

short beach, revisited.

The beach is not a one-season stopping point for us. These are some photos taken in late November when DH & I got back to Short Beach for the first time since June. It was amazing seeing how things changed with the Fall. There was still considerable sand in the parking lot, blown in from Sandy, if but any other damage might have occurred it was mostly cleaned up.

Beautiful Nissequoque River.

I love how rocky the North Shore is.

maureen's kitchen review.

Jay Cardinal & I have passed Maureen's Kitchen numerous times with a healthy amount of curiosity, but since it's always been hopping we've waited for the perfect time to avail ourselves of their highly sought-after breakfasts. We were fortunate enough to happen upon a half-full parking lot after 7:30am Mass at St. Pat's last Sunday and took advantage of the occasion.

We were seated on the heated patio, which was very quiet compared to the dining room. Our waitress was prompt and responsive, and breakfast was nothing short of amazing! The white chocolate/pistachio/blueberry pancakes I had were incredible. DH's sausage was divine, and his croissant french toast was also quite good. The coffee met our exacting caffeinated beverage standards. Everything was very reasonably priced.

If you can get in before things get too busy, this is a real treat of a place! We will definitely make it a part of our Sundays as much as we can.

Maureen's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

coastal cheap & chic #2: gearing up for christmas.

December already?! Where has the time gone? Pond House has transformed into a very Christmas-y place, inside and out. One of my favourite seasonal changes, brought on by nature, is the sighting of many beautiful native birds. It's a regular feeding frenzy in our yard now that the Juncos and White-throated Sparrows have returned to the yard. This morning I counted close to two dozen Mourning Doves under the feeder! Our usual suspects (the Black-Capped Chickadees, House Wren, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Northern Cardinal) are with us throughout the year. On the lake, we're blessed with a Swan couple again.

There are numerous options for finding a fresh Christmas tree on Long Island. You can go the old school route and get a pre-cut tree at any number of roadside stands, or you can head out east to the agriculturally plentiful part of Suffolk County and chop one down yourself. There are tons of Christmas tree farms from Manorville through Southold. We went to a place in Mattituck called Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm. They couldn't have been nicer, and after we picked our tree, they did all the dirty work, cutting and balling the tree and mounting it on the roof of our car. This place, as well as numerous others, offer very family friendly activities in addition to cutting down a tree. There are cheaper places; there are more expensive ones, too. We're really happy with this place and expect to return next year.

Here's the big guy, complete with silver, gold and moss-toned ornaments. If you time it right, follow the circulars and clip coupons, you can get glass-blown and other nicer-quality ornaments for a song. All the ornaments were between 60-80% off.

Walt Whitman Lord & Taylor: Glass-blown feathers, abstract shapes, hearts and glitter/mercury glass birds, tree topper and glitter rosette picks
Stony Brook Michaels: Gold eucalyptus picks, glitter-glass ferns, solid moss glass ornaments, glass blown candles and glitter etched ornaments
Kohl's: Glass-blown pinecones, glitter birds in circles
Macy's: Glass-blown glitter fruits

One of the biggest nightmares price-wise is finding a Christmas tree skirt. I saw some pretty crummy ones for about $30-40, and nicer ones in the department stores even after sales and coupons were between $50-80. Fortunately, Home Goods, TJMaxx and the like have really nice quality tree skirts. I picked up one for $20.

My other penny-pinching strategy is I reserve solid-ornaments for the back parts of the tree, and those sections that are not exposed I actually don't decorate. Tinsel is also an attractive filler that can be found just about anywhere for $1.50 a pack!

If you want the amazing smell and branches sturdy for ornaments, go for the spruce (my childhood tree of choice), but the fir (which we selected) has a remarkable longevity and fullness. Do you have a tree preference? What do you and your family use?

Monday, November 19, 2012

overconfident human GPS in huntington...

After a long day at work on Saturday I had decided to treat myself to a movie. "A Late Quartet" was showing at the indie Cinema Arts Theatre in Huntington. After scouting out the theatre's location, I figured it would be a relatively easy jaunt on the way home. Especially for someone with the traffic calm of a taxi-cab driver and an inner GPS. Man, did I get cocky. First of all, in our few trips to Huntington, my dear husband has always done the driving. Secondly, I did not count on the sheer scope of the village, the windy, hilly old roads, and eventually ending up in Centerport or Halesite or some other sleepy burg and constantly being dumped out into the sound at every outlet-less turn as I tried to find my way back to 25a. But I digress.

I headed out to the theatre later in the evening for a second attempt (I am stubborn, if nothing else) but instead took J's car, which has a built-in fancypants GPS.

When I did finally get to the Cinema Arts Theatre later that evening, it felt like I wasn't just watching a movie, but also observing a community of people who really love movies. The people at the theatre ---both those working there and those watching the movies--- impressed me a lot. I was expecting to see a lot of hipster types, but the people who sat with me were regular folks, free of affectations, who simply and truly loved and responded to movies. The staff was very friendly, well-mannered and eager to assist patrons. We had a woman speak before the movie previews, and much of the audience (which numbered atleast a hundred) seemed to know her pretty well. You can see what's playing at Cinema Arts through their website, They're also in the process of raising funds to upgrade their projectors from celluloid to digital, so please consider supporting their efforts!

I'm glad I saw "A Late Quartet", because the subject matter piqued my interest, but my thoughts on the movie itself are mixed. I won't rehash the criticism that is clearly articulated in the reviews of far more capable movie critics but will instead point out that the one specific thing that I, as a lukewarm moviegoer, found tremendously impressive. Christopher Walken is a remarkable actor with a tremendous range--- I've seen him in other films playing villains, and so it was a joy to watch him embody a different sort of character who was finding his way through some very heavy human experiences. If you're a particular fan of his work, then I'd recommend that you see it.

What movies have you seen lately? What are your favorite theatres on Long Island?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

cheerful room + sunday.

Since I didn't go back to work until yesterday because of the gas situation, I spent time this week painting and cleaning up bedroom number three, a.k.a the 'Cheerful Room' as it has now come to be known. The walls aren't in great shape, but artwork definitely helps! While the rest of the house is more Scandanavian modern, this is the one whimsical space for arts, crafting, and a sitting room for guests.

The paint, Martha Stewart 'Eiderdown', was originally intended for the Study, but there was too much green in it to suit the dark gold ceiling I painted. Instead of throwing it out, it ended up in this room. (Waste not, want not!) The old wall colour was a very peculiar (err, unappetizing) shade of peach, so it's not missed.
The dresser, built by my great-grandfather (who was many, many moons ago the chief cabinetmaker at the Herald Square Macy's)  is simple, incredibly sturdy and fun to update. The drawer fronts were painted in Behr 'Southern Evening' and Benjamin Moore 'Mill Springs Blue'. They were picked to match the Morrocan printed carpet. (Speaking of Macy's, have you seen their cute new Christmas commercial? They always do something special for the holidays...)
The white pictures frames were on sale at the Stony Brook Michael's... 40% off with an additional 20% off coupon. Michael's tends to have really great deals on simple MDF picture frames if you time it right. I went online to find some pop-ish graphic art to print and frame. Two websites, kind over matter and everything etsy have links and collections of some very pretty free printables.
This little guy was in my old home, but in a pink colour. Now it
gets new life in Martha Stewart 'Picket Fence' semi-gloss.
The other furniture isn't on l.i. yet, but we'll be adding a white leaning bookcase, an old whitewashed desk, and a little day-bed for guests (thank you, Ikea.)
... and now it's time for Mr. Cardinal's amazing pumpkin pancakes! :) I think this morning's OT reading on Elijah and the widow baking the cakes got him in the mood (...not that this pancake nut's complaining.)

Wishing you a little peace and relaxation today, Long Island! (You certainly deserve it.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

winter wonderland?

Yesterday's view from Pond House

When I went out to the chicken coop around 6am yesterday, I wasn't the only one trying to make sense of the Nor'Easter. The chickens poked their little heads outside the coop with trepidation at the white stuff which they'd never seen before. It was pretty cute.

The night before that--- not so cute, as many of you can attest to. DH Jay and I scrambled to clean off cars over a bad online gas tip, but it was still worth it since we were then able to get both into the garage. Victory yesterday has come in the form of the Lake Grove Hess. While there are many well-meaning online gas websites, I've found that Hess' actual site is among the most accurate---  click here. The gas situation is still dire on the Island and in the Boroughs, but again, compared to people who've lost homes, lives, and are still out of power, it's nothing. It is a huge problem, however, for people whose livelihoods depend on consistent car access and businesess with transportation needs (as well as actual people driving to and patronizing their shops.) I mean to say that I write not complain about my own station---because we've been very blessed throughout the whole thing--- but to shed light on this continuing lack of infrastructure and basic modern-day needs that those in the metro area are faced with.

On a more upbeat note (please excuse the pun there), here's a long overdue review.

Yogurtini Self Serve Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

A day before the Hurricane craziness, Jay Cardinal and I wanted a frozen yogurt treat. Having tried every frozen yogurt place ranging from amazing to awful within a 15 miles radius of our home, we thought we'd give the new Yogurtini in Smithtown a shot. I went with their house flavour, "Blueberry Tartini", which ROCKED. Both of us were very impressed with the topping selection--- it's possibly the best we've seen yet. The staff was friendly and appreciative, the seafoam decor calming. A definite repeat visit.

coastal cheap and chic #1: transitioning warm to cool weather

I like nice things, but I don't like to spend money. ('Spose that makes me an aspiring cheapskate?)

Rather than spend money on clothes this year, I've been mixing up my wardrobe to create new outfits. So far so good, though certain things always beg the question...

How do I transition spring/summer pieces for fall/winter?

The challenge this time involves: basic striped tee + cotton fringed scarf + navy eyelet skirt + chunky peep-toe wedges

The solution:
Pairing with a tweed herringbone blazer + opaque aquamarine tights
The blazer warms it up (as far as textiles are concerned) and provides a nod to the gray in the scarf and top. The tights add another pop of color to compliment the navy in the skirt and keep the look from appearing too somber. Opaque tights also add a lot of warmth.

et voila!
Everything was bought over the years at deep discounts (50-80% off). I always make a beeline
for the clearance at the back of stores and ignore the stuff that's put out in front. The biggest
"splurge" of this outfit were these chunky peep-toe wedges by 704b, which were found for $40 at DSW.
If you haven't induced clothes shopping austerity measures, there are some great inexpensive ways to update your wardrobe through an opposite approach. Remaining warmer weather clothes are in clearance, so you can purchase them for a song. (As of this entry, I can see tees on sale in the big department stores for less than $10). If you're willing to layer with a blazer and opaque tights, you can add a lot of new looks for the fall and enjoy spring-summer clothes stand alones when the temperature rises.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

post-hurricane post

Jay Cardinal and I consider ourselves blessed. Our house is okay, our chickens are okay,

and most importantly of all, our family and loved ones are safe and sound.

I wish I could say the same for so many whose lives have been turned upside down ---some forever--- by this dreadful storm. As we strive to gain some sense of normalcy in our lives again and support those less fortunate with our actions and our prayers, I'm going to try to get back to a bit of blogging, celebrating all that is good on our wonderful little island. Please take care, be good to yourself and your families, and stay far, far away from any downed wires.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fort Knox vs. Hurricane Sandy?

(...and the outcome? We'll find out.)

"Fort Knox" is our affectionate term for the chicken coop/dog kennel combo that we set-up in August to keep our little darlings safe. We have two Brahmas and two Orpingtons ---the sweetest girls on the planet. Both breeds that are known for their temperament, cold-hardiness, ability to handle confinement like little troopers. Naturally, like most pet owners, we've developed a substantial attachment to our fluffy "babies". (You know you're a crazy pet owner when you start calling them your baby... ;-)

We received a very generous wedding present in the form of a hand-made Pennsylvania Dutch coop. The Dog Kennel requires a little explanation. After talking with a shop-keeper in town and discovering we have two litters of raccoons living in the pond marsh, we had to take some drastic measures before moving the chicks outside. Free range was not only not in the best interests of our neighbours (or the traffic which piles up occasionally near Pond House when the waterfowl try to cross the road) but it would compromise the chicks' safety. After researching online, we stumbled upon a 6'x10'10 kennel--- offering about 25 sq ft. of space per bird. The obliging hole where the grody old swimming pool sat seemed like a perfect place to set up chicken camp. The kennel was buried 6" into the ground, along with sheets of poultry wire and the pre-existing pool embankment. The exposed panels were covered in 36" of poutry wire from the ground up, and the top is composed of poultry wire. This little set-up is quite secure for the girls. At night, we take the food in, utilize solar lights and a patio light, and put on a shower radio--- all measures to discourage raccoons.  Garbage is no longer kept outside our garage, but only inside the garage or at the base of the driveway. All these little changes added up. Knock on wood, we've been issue-free from the second night until now and haven't seen any raccoons in the yard since. (Before chickens, they loved to terrorize our garbage.)

But now, we have a hurricane about to bear down on us. That makes matters complicated for everyone in the metro area, and we're unsure of how Fort Knox (or the 380-lb chicken coop) would handle this. They're heavy, they're critter-proof, but they're not permanent structures.

And so... we've moved the chickens inside the unfinished second bedroom, where they started their lives as little, peeping fuzzballs. I purchased heavy-duty sheeting at Costello's, and we found a portable dog playpen at the Lake Grove Petco and a sturdy, untippable double-dish dog bowl at the Nesconset Petsmart. Jay Cardinal created a roof out of deer netting and lined the floor with hay.

Getting them back inside the house was interesting. Since they've always been handled, they didn't put up much of a fight, but the experience (like most involving chicken-keeping) was extremely comedic. I'd pick them up and place them in a sterlite bin, one-at-a-time, and DH with clean shoes would shuttle them into the house and the temporary coop. There was no shortage of bawking during the process.

Unfortuntaely, they're much stinkier now than when they lived here before, even with the door shut. As the chicks have sensitive lungs, aromatic measures like candles are not an option. FORTUNATELY, there are a lot of great, natural ways to get rid of unpleasant odors that require no electricity. White bread soaked in apple cider vinegar is possibly my favourite.

Hopefully in another day or two, we'll be able to bring them back out. Now that they've calmed down, they seem to be taking to their new home better. We'll get you back out soon, girls!

I'm cute and little and I don't smell toooo bad yet...

Everyone can fit on Daddy's knee!

In our temporary home!

I. is checking out the water; you can see a little
Orpington tushie in the background.

Our two stress eaters, M. and I.
Please be safe, L.I.! No heroics! Take any mandatory evacuation orders seriously, and if you haven't done so already, please check your yard carefully for objects that could become flying projectiles as the winds worsen. We'll look forward to knowing everyone is safe and sound at the other end of this crazy storm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

recollection of ronkonkoma.

I will be eternally grateful to my parents' love of the outdoors for instilling in me an appreciation of nature. Camping; fishing; hiking. (Growing up in a borderline rural NYC suburb helped, too.) And what's all the more beautiful is, Jay Cardinal gets it. He and I never get sick of finding parks and reserves and natural beauty throughout this funny little island.

We knew a little bit of nature would do us the world o' good this past Sunday. Our travels allowed for a quick stop at Ronkonkoma Beach, a Town of Islip park. Now that the season's through, it's easy to access the other towns' beaches and parks.

No alligators in here, we hope.

Lake Ronkonkoma amazes me. It's not that large, but the shallows and the depths of the lake are pretty remarkable--- it can be eight feet deep one moment, and eighty feet deep the next. There are a lot of urban legends surrounding the lake, but the only Curse(s) of Lake Ronkonkoma that DH and I could find were the Canada Goose "presents" and pizza box garbage. Just as much a zoning curiosity as anywhere else on L.I., the lake is bordered on several villages as well as three of the large towns. Some parts of the waterfront are very nice, while others appear blighted. (From what I understand, flooding may be part of the issue.) Have no clue what it's like in the summer--- would definitely appreciate some historical anecdotes from native Long Islanders who grew up and/or recreated here. The Lake is beautiful and has great potential--- it would be wonderful to see continued renewal...

Looking north, towards Nesconset. (Don't think you can see
the Bavarian Inn in this one...)

Curious sand bars in the middle of the lake, with a
congregation of Canada Geese enjoying themselves.

What are your recollections of the Lake?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

wertheim national wildlife refuge

Last Sunday, Jay Cardinal and I took a very random drive along the South Shore. I've been having South Shore (both Suffolk and Nassau) withdrawal for sometime, but was envisioning a Sayville coffee-shop jaunt or something. Date-on-the-cheap for two crazy young 'uns fixing up their dream house.

Something much better happened... after driving through Sayville, Blue Point, etc., we decided we should just keep driving. Our efforts took us to Shirley's Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful marshland located on the Carmans River. There were no shortage of passerines (especially warblers) but they were far too fast to capture on my old school camera phone.

There is this neat deck/dock that makes you feel like you're floating over the river.

The way the trees grew over into the river made no sense! It was pretty cool.

The berry bushes also grew over the river like a canopy.

My husband, being artsy :-)

 Those taking the train must have a lovely trip home...
We're definitely going to take the train out east eventually. You can appreciate
this beautiful lanscape from a different vantage point.