Beal’s Pickles N Pints

Beal's PIckles N PintsDo  you like pickles?  Do you like beer?  Beal’s Pickles N Pints in Willoughby is where the two collide, in the best possible way!  You can read my review of Beal’s in my post for the Lake County Visitors Bureau at Beal’s Pickles N Pints.

The Beal family makes their own pickles.  I have never canned pickles before but at the Mentor Farm Market this summer a lady at the West Orchards stand told me she had heard of an easy method for making sweet pickles in the microwave.  She had some beautiful small pickling cucumbers so I purchased six, went home and fired up Google.  I found this recipe for Microwave Bread and Butter Pickles at    I made up a batch and they were delicious!  Who knew making pickles could be so easy.

1 large cucumber, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. In a medium microwave safe bowl, mix cucumber, salt, onion, mustard seeds, white
sugar, distilled white vinegar, celery seed and turmeric.
2. Microwave on high 7 to 8 minutes, stirring twice, until cucumbers are tender and onion
is translucent.
3. Transfer to sterile containers. Seal and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

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A crab cake to write home about – Brennan’s Fish House

A few months ago I shared this photo with a group of friends on Facebook:

Brennans Fish House Crab Cake

The gasps were audible, even from afar!  Brennan’s Fish House is the place I go when I want a truly delicious crab cake.  It’s the topic of my article this month for the Lake County Visitors Bureau.  You can read entire article here: Brennan’s Fish House in Lake County.

Scroll to the bottom of the article to find a link to owner Sharon Hill’s history of Lot 32 in Grand River, Ohio.   Like many old buildings, it’s seen a lot of history!

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Mardi Gras in July – Fairport Harbor Mardi Gras Parade

On July 3, Andy and I got to participate in the annual Mardi Gras parade in Fairport Harbor, Ohio.  Fairport Harbor is generally a sleepy little town on Lake Erie.  It comes alive in summer thanks to it’s very lovely beach, boat launch area and lighthouse museum.  On Mardi Gras weekend it is jammed with hundreds of people who come for the carnival rides and food on the beach, the parade and fireworks.  There are two fireworks shows this year, Friday and Sunday, since last year’s were cancelled due to rain and wind.   The city’s fireworks shows are legendarily huge, as are the crowds.   The one year we attended it was amazing, as each firework lit up the sky and you could see beach area fully packed with families.  Not so fun was the two hours it took to get out of town!

For this year’s parade Andy and I had a good time riding on a truck with his friends, singing and playing simple instruments to the songs “God Bless the USA, “Beer in Mexico,” and “Call Me Maybe.”  We rode along with the Spots Carpet Cleaning crew, a company owned by Andy’s boss, Denice, and her husband, Ed.  Several of their employees and friends rode in their two vans and walked the route, throwing candy to the crowds on the sidewalks and in yards.

While we waited for the parade to start, I got a chance to take some “back stage” photos.  Happy 4th of July everyone!

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Full Flower Moon at Observatory Park


If you were outside on the nights of May 24 and 25th and had the good luck to have clear skies, you would have seen a beautiful sight – the Full Flower Moon.

The Flower Moon was so named because it occurs in the time of spring flowers and planting.  Flowers come into full bloom and corn is ready to plant. It is also called the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.  Some call it the Dyad moon, (the Latin word for a pair) which refers to twin  stars of the constellation of Castor and Pollux.

Dana and I decided Saturday would be a good time to take Andy to visit the new Observatory Park in Geauga County, Ohio.  Dana has a 6″ computer guided telescope that hadn’t seen the dark of night since we last had warm weather in the fall.  Saturday the 25th was not exactly warm with temps in the mid 40’s!  However, the park visitor center was open and I popped in every once in while to warm up.  The sky was not perfectly clear but we had a very good view of the beautiful full moon which lit up the landscape almost like day!  Dana pointed his telescope at Saturn – the view was so good one visitor who looked through his scope joked that he must have a photo taped to the front.  I actually thought the same thing when I looked – the view was that perfect.  The twins, Castor and Pollux, were there in the sky as were the seven sisters, the Pleiades.  The Big Dipper gave all the kids a thrill since most of them could find it, high overhead.

Observatory Park is a 1,100-acre park in Montville Township, located within the Cuyahoga River watershed, which allows people to explore nature from the ground to the galaxies. It is Geauga Park District’s intent to protect this natural area in perpetuity.

In 2003, Geauga Park District purchased a large tract of land in Montville Township, an area that had long been recognized by astronomers as one of the few regions left in Northeast Ohio that had not yet been affected by light pollution. After a series of additional acquisitions, and the addition in 2008 of 280 adjacent acres that included the Nassau Observatory, formerly owned and operated by Case Western Reserve University, plans took shape to develop a park dedicated to the natural sciences.

At its dedication in 2011, Observatory Park received permanent distinction from the International Dark-Sky Association as a Silver Tier Dark Sky Park, becoming one of only eight Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. and 11 in the worldClick here for more about this designation. — Geauga Park District

Maybe you remember seeing thousands of stars when you were a child.  Due to increasing light pollution, the only night sky object people in highly populated areas have seen is the moon, if it’s rather clear.  At Observatory Park, you have a chance to see at least most of the brighter objects in the sky and on a very dark night with little or no moonlight, you may see the Milky Way.

The night we were there Andy and I attended a very good slide show program on our moon and the moons of other planets in our solar system.  The photos our satellites in outer space send to us and the data gained from them is truly amazing.   I marveled at how much we know about our solar system compared to the many years ago when I was in school.

The park is open from 6 am to 11 pm every day.   During the day there is a trail system that runs through a meadow.  The trail has educational signs along the way about the earth and the galaxy.  At night, a naturalist is on duty during published hours and if the weather permits, will assist you in looking at night sky objects through the park’s telescope.  There are power outlets for those with computer driven telescopes and amateurs may stay past the 11 pm published closing time for night sky viewing.  A naturalist on duty the night we were there told us they have future plans to include a campsite on the property for those wishing to spend the night.

Visit Observatory Park’s web site for hours and complete information.  There you can link to information about viewing conditions before you go.  Here are some photos of our visit to the park.

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Ice Cream and so much more!

One of the joys of living in a part of the world with seasons is when the turn comes from winter to spring.  That’s when all the lovely ice cream parlors, hot dog stands and other seasonal eateries open. For this month’s article for the Lake County Visitors Bureau I write about all the yummy hot dogs and ice cream served up by Scooter’s Dawg House in Mentor, Ohio.  A couple of  other places just now open for the season are: Charlottes Ice Cream Charlotte’s Ice Cream – a family oriented 50’s style soft-serve ice cream store located at 1250 Lost Nation Road in Willoughby, OH. Biggies Biggies Custard – 28 flavors plus of custard style ice cream and other treats.  5665 Andrews Road, Mentor, Ohio.  Only a block from Lake Erie. What’s your favorite seasonal eatery or ice cream place?

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Art Show at VGC*

Andy's artwork

Andy’s artwork

Just like the spring flowers, art and craft shows are popping up all over!  A couple of weeks ago the call went out at Andy’s workplace for spring themed art and craft items to display in their front showcase.  I knew there was a lot of artistic talent there and many wonderful pieces were submitted for display.  Of course our favorite guy, Andy, got busy and made a lovely spring scene using craft foam and tissue paper.  In fact, Andy was one of the winners  in the show and he was presented with a very nice kit for making 3 different wooden vehicles.  He will enjoy putting these items together and painting them.  Here is a photo gallery of all the wonderful art work.

A winner!

A winner!

*The Vocational Guidance Center (VGC) is one of the adult workshops run by the Lake County Board of Development Disabilities/Deepwood.

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Lunch at Lakeshore Eatery


20130407_124424Some of the best restaurants are found in strip malls.  There are some fine examples of that right here in Lake County.  One of our family’s favorites is Lakeshore Eatery in Mentor.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside but the food and service are top notch.  We are not not the only ones who like this place –  recently they were one of the winners in the Mentor Chamber of Commerce Restaurant Showcase.  You can read about my most recent experience at the Eatery on the Lake County Visitors Bureau web site, Sunday Lunch at Lakeshore Eatery.

20130407_124517Here’s a tip about the Eatery.  On New Year’s eve it undergoes a transformation.  The tables are covered with white table cloths, the servers change from their usual polo shirts and jeans into more formal attire of white shirts/black pants.  That’s when the Eatery holds its annual reservation only, prixe fixe five course dinner special.   It’s an early evening, for those headed out for a big night or for those headed home to watch the ball drop on TV.  Each year Chef John prepares a memorable gourmet meal unlike any served there on a regular day.  Start looking for info on this special night in early December and make your reservations – it’s always a sell out!

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Journal to Idol: Part 2

Rock on!

Rock on!

The results are in and Weapons of Mass Percussion did not make the finals.    The whole group did a great job and I was sad to see it come to an end!  We all had a lot of fun, making music 2 to 3 times per week for 3 months.  My life is better for working with these individuals.  Some people lump individuals with disabilities together but they are all unique.   Some of my group have Down syndrome and many people think individuals with DS are all alike.   That is also not true.   They have definite likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams,  favorite hobbies, foods, etc., just like you and me.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to put on this HUGE production at the Vocational Guidance Center.   The staff cleared out their cafeteria and turned it into a beautiful concert venue.  Special thanks go to everybody in Work Training II for all their help and support, and especially supervisors Denise and Dawn, to Pfabes Music in Painesville, Ohio for the use of the drum set and Best Truck Equipment in Willoughby for buying the group’s cool T-shirts.

You can view video taken by Fox8 television here.

WOMP’s journey ends here but the Journey to Idol continues for ten finalists.  They will perform on stage at Great Lakes Mall on March 30 at 2 pm.  I encourage you to come out and support their efforts.  Last year the show was amazing and I know this year will be the same.

You will also be able to view an art show of the top art projects from all of the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities programs.   I’ve seen many of the entries and not only do they have musically talented individuals in their programs but artistically talented also.

WOMP hopes to perform again next year – I’ll keep you posted!  Enjoy these performance day photos.


Look Beyond

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Ice Bubbles

Foolishly I thought we might be done with winter here on the North Coast.  Today we woke up to 3″ of wet snow.  Guess we will be having a white St. Patrick’s Day!  I was considering going shopping today for a pretty, springy Easter outfit.  Two weeks away, there’s some chance that we might have a warm up by then.  But for now I’ll keep my sweaters handy!

Ice Bubbles

Ice Bubbles

I took this photo last weekend at Concord Woods Nature Park, part of the Lake Metroparks system.  Around the edges of the pond the ice was clear, well clear-ish.  Bubbles of all sizes were frozen in the ice.  While I watched more bubbles came up from the leaf litter covering the bottom of the pond.  Was this from decomposition of the leaves or was there a little creature hiding down there?

Not much was moving at the park that day.  Here are some more photos of the park and the beautiful blue winter sky.

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Fun in the parks! Lake Metroparks Adapted Programs

Andy reflected in the Fresnel lens, Fairport Harbor Lighthouse Museum, Fairport Harbor, Ohio

Adapted Lighthouse Tour, August 2012. Andy reflected in the Fresnel lens, Fairport Harbor Lighthouse Museum, Fairport Harbor, Ohio

One of the gems here in Lake County, Ohio, is our Lake Metroparks system.  Great places to hike, play and swim are minutes away from our homes.  Each season they publish Parks Plus!, a big book of programs and activities for all ages, from children to seniors.

Among the many programs offered are those for children and adults with developmental and/or physical disabilities.   Andy signs up for a few each season and he always has fun.  He has made many friends through participating in Lake Metroparks programs.  Each program is run by knowledgeable staff with plenty of volunteers to help out.  Indoor and outdoor sports, music, nature lore, crafts, hiking, animal fun – they do it all!

Following are just a few of the upcoming adapted programs.  See a complete list of programs at  You may register on-line or call 440-378-7275.  You can pick up a copy of the Parks Plus! guide at your local library. I recommend you register early, some programs fill up fast!  Even if a program you would like to go to is full, put your name on the waiting list.  The program co-ordinator, Jim Meadows, his staff and volunteers do all they can to make sure anyone who wants to participate will be able to.

Nature Journaling – April 20, 2013

The Environmental Learning Center is the perfect place for an easy going nature walk.   Watch birds, collect leaves, look for animal tracks.  Search for newly blooming spring flowers and trees.  Preserve your memories in your very own nature journal.   You may make rubbings of leaves and tree bark, draw pictures, and/or collect items to put in your journal.  The only limit is your imagination.  No reading or writing required.   For ages 8 through adults.

Spring Formal Dance – April 21, 2013

This annual dance is held at the elegant Pine Ridge Country Club.   Girls, put on a pretty spring outfit!  Guys, shine up your dancing shoes!  Enjoy dinner, dancing and music provided by C. R. Entertainment.  For teens ages 14 and up and adults of all ages.

Soccer Game and Tailgate Party – May 10, 2012

Head to the beautiful Helen Hazen Wyman Park in Concord Township for a game of soccer followed by a tailgate dinner party.  This will be an easy instructional game, fun for all ability levels.   Appropriate for ages 10 and over.

 Bicycle the Parks – May 23, 2013

Dust off your bike and take a ride on the flat, crushed gravel trail at Chagrin River Park then enjoy a snack when done.  What will you see as you roll along?   I know for a fact that a large variety of birds, deer and many raccoons make this park their home.   Maybe you’ll see one peeking out as you ride by.  Don’t let the raccoons steal your snack though!   Bring your own bike.  You must be able to ride at any level and the ride will be at your own pace.  For ages 12 through adults.

Fantastic Fishing – May 8, 2013

Andy's friend Kenny caught a big fish at Hidden Lake!

Andy’s friend Kenny caught a big fish at Hidden Lake!

Do you like to fish?  Would you like to learn?  This program is held in a very special place – Hidden Lake in Leroy Township.  This lake has limited public access so the fish will be hungry!   I took Andy to this program last year and everybody was pulling out fish left and right.  Fishing poles and bait are provided or you may bring your own.   You will especially appreciate the helpful volunteers who will bait your hook for you!


If you have any questions about Lake Metroparks adapted programs call program co-ordinator Jim Meadows at 440-585-3041 or email Jim,  These programs are designed to accomodate a variety of ages and abilities.  Feel free to contact Jim if you have questions about participation.  All Lake Metropark activities are open to persons with disabilities.  If you need accommodations for any activity just let them know.


Look Beyond

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