Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What's Up Wednesday, September 2020 Edition


It's officially fall, y'all! My favorite season of the year, chock-full of festivals, tailgating parties, antique sales, pop-up craft fairs, pumpkin patches, and fun get-togethers...oh,'s 2020. Well, at least we still have What's Up Wednesday with Sheaffer and Shay. 2020 can't take that from us, right? If I'm wrong, please don't tell me; rafting down the Denial is the only trip I'm taking this year and I would kind of like to enjoy the scenery.

What We're Eating

I'm maintaining a steady diet of sugar, fat, and empty carbs, thank you very much, 2020. On the bright side, those three food groups meld nicely into Mexican and Italian dishes, with ice cream for dessert. I'm not sorry. I do, however, apologize to the waistbands in alllll my pants).

What I'm Reminiscing About

In a normal year, Petticoat Junction High would be celebrating Homecoming right about now. This year, not so much. I am extremely grateful for getting to experience all of the activities that Homecoming had to offer back when Queen B and the Man-Cub were in school and I feel really badly for the kids who are missing out on it all this year.

What I'm Loving

The Man-Cub turned 22 this month. I love seeing the young man that he is becoming. I also love these photos that he took; he's getting quite talented behind the lens and, I could not be more proud.

What We've Been Up To

Hugh and I attended an event at the local orchard this past weekend. Hugh had been asked to judge the apple pie contest, and, there was no way he would have missed out on that honor. We got some great cider out of the deal so it was a win-win.

What I'm Working On

It's that time of the year when families start to think about Christmas cards, which means photos, which means my schedule is starting to fill up with appointments for photo sessions. This past Friday, I started with this beautiful family...

...sadly, theirs will be one of only five sessions that I will be able to accommodate. I just don't have as much time to work on my side hustle as I would like, thanks to New Job. 

Speaking of which, I am still plugging along. This month, I organized my first virtual 5K. It was a first for the organization as well, so, the fact that we netted over $7,000 feels like a pretty big accomplishment.

On the home front, I accomplished the task of getting my indoor Halloween decorations put up. I kind of jumped the gun a little, but, with as crappy as this year has been; I figured I would enjoy the decorations for as long as possible, just to bring myself a little joy. I don't feel the least bit sorry about that, considering that the big box stores already have freaking Christmas merchandise on display.

What I'm Dreading

October at New Job is going to be incredibly stressful (yes, even more stressful than usual!). I have several grant applications that are due, as well as several reports for existing grants that are due. In addition, I have a virtual site review with the national chapter that will determine whether or not my center will still be accredited. If we aren't accredited, we aren't funded. The stakes are high and I am anxious. Worrying about how I'll juggle everything that needs to be done keeps me awake at night, not gonna lie.

What I'm Excited About

I am dreading October for all of the reasons mentioned above, but, I am also excited for it because of Halloween. I've already said that I have the house decorated, but, I didn't mention that Hugh and I have already started working on the skeleton display for our yard as well, and, folks? It's going to be epic! I can't wait for the neighborhood kids to see it.

What I'm Watching 

I'm really into mindless entertainment recently. I don't think I'm alone in that, honestly. So, hopefully, you will judge me less harshly when I tell you that I have not missed a single episode of Love Island

I'm also watching season 2 of The Boys, which, is gory AF, but, entertaining, nonetheless.

I'm trying to hang in there to the end of this season of  Big Brother, but, I gotta admit, that's been a struggle. At this point, I am having a hard time rooting for anyone. I definitely don't want Memphis or Dani to win, so at least I know where I stand on that.

I watched and enjoyed Enola Holmes on Netflix, and, not just because it stars the uber talented and totally not hard to look at actor Henry Cavill. It also stars the adorable and quirky Millie Bobby Brown, who many of you may remember from another Netflix show that I love, Stranger Things.

What I'm Reading

Sadly, I find myself with too little free time for pleasure reading again these days. I continue to hold out hope that this season of my life will eventually give way to a season in which I can focus on a good book for any length of time.

What I'm Listening To

At the moment, I am listening to Boomer Dog, snoring at my feet.

What I'm Wearing

Lately, it's been cool enough to wear layers, so; cardigans, t-shirts, and jeans have been in heavy rotation. I also busted out my supply of leggings and have been pairing them with, you guessed it, t-shirts and cardigans. I've noticed that this relaxed wardrobe is generally being worn by the majority of the professional women with whom I interact. I don't think any of us miss more formal business attire, and, I doubt we ever return to overly restrictive, uncomfortable clothing again. That may be the one decent gift that 2020 has seen fit to bestow upon us.

What I'm Doing This Weekend

Assuming the stars and planets align accordingly, Hugh and I will be completing the Halloween yard display.Fingers crossed.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

I am looking forward to finally being done with Looming Project at work, visiting the pumpkin patch and corn maze, seeing the look of delight on the faces of our Trick-or-Treaters, and to scratching one more month of this horrible, terrible, no good year off the calendar.

What Else Is New

I got nuthin.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Something Vexes Thee?

 At the beginning of September, I wrote a post essentially promising 50% less whining on this here blog. It's now the end of September and I feel like I've done a remarkably good job of sticking to that promise. That being said, today, I reserve the right to utilize a few fractions of what remains of my free bitching time.

You've been warned.

Vexation Number One: I know we are in a pandemic and, as such, the usual supply chains between the US and countries from which we import goods have been interrupted, but, does that actually explain the shortage of replacement CO2 canisters for my Soda Stream? Is all carbon dioxide produced in some foreign country? Or, are there people out there, stockpiling the canisters like people hoarded toilet paper in the Early Days? I am so confused. And, less bubbly.

Vexation Number Two: Also, on the topic of ridiculous shortages; let's talk coins. I have friends who work in banks who have assured me that there is no shortage of rolled coin. Those same friends also assure me that cash is still a perfectly acceptable form of currency with which to purchase goods and services. So, why does the Hellmouth no longer accept cash in any of their self-check kiosks? I prefer to use cash over credit and to use the self-checkout because it's generally faster and more convenient; now I can do neither. This is actually just one of my many vexations with the Hellmouth (that would be Walmart, for the uninitiated), but it may be the straw that breaks the camel's back as far as continuing to shop there goes. 

Vexation Number Three: Where have all the Halloween decorations gone? Hobby Lobby skipped right to Christmas, as have the Hellmouth and Target. Gone are the awesome displays of merchandise that have always made Target a destination for me this time of year. It makes me really sad.

Vexation Number Four: The whole "busting out Christmas merchandise in September" thing. At this point, I'm seriously considering a boycott of Christmas shopping just on principle. Maybe this is the year for us to exchange hand-made gifts or to simply revel in the gift of time spent with one another. I could totally get behind that.

The Final Vexation: Home Depot was selling this awesome, amazing, truly spectacular twelve foot skeleton, and, it would have been perfect for this year's yard display, so, of course it is sold out and probably will not be back in stock this year.

2020: The year that just keeps on giving.

And, with that, we return to our regular programming, now with 50% less whining!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Hugh's Got a New Chick

 Before he was pressed into service as an apple pie judge on Saturday, I utilized one of Hugh's other lesser-known talents: chicken wrangler.

See, my friends, The Lesbians, were out of town and had asked me to check in on their girls while they were gone. They offered us the eggs that the hens laid in their absence as payment for my efforts, and, since I have personally never raided a chicken's nest to collect eggs, I made Hugh do it.

He didn't seem to mind. In fact, he made nice with the broodiest of the brood hens.

And, we got a dozen and a half eggs for his efforts.

Now that I know he's so good at this; I'm thinking about turning our dog kennels into a chicken coop. 

Ha! Kidding, Hugh!

Or, am I?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Apple (Pie) of My Eye

 Yesterday, Hugh was invited to judge an apple pie contest at a local orchard. The owners of the orchard are regular customers at the hardware store and were an integral part of the Fall Festival that we all hosted in downtown Petticoat Junction last year. Obviously, the 'rona scuttled plans for the festival this year, but, there are no current regulations on small events, so, the orchard decided to host an open house, complete with orchard tours, apple cider tasting, and, an apple pie contest.

The rules were simple, because, there was only one: the bakers had to use apples from the orchard. Despite the minimal advertising done for the event, it still drew eight bakers, which, was more than adequate from a judging perspective, according to Hugh and the other two judges (a retired professor from the college in Neighboring City and a highly respected pastry baker from the Mennonite community).

The pies were judged on three criteria: appearance, taste, and texture. All eight were distinctly different, which made the judging a challenge, but, this trio was up to the task.

The judging took about an hour, during which time I wandered around the orchard, visited the market stand, watched apples being pressed into juice in the old cider press, and visited with folks from the community. It was just like Before Times (only a handful of masks, which, were quickly abandoned in favor of fresh air).

I returned to the judging tent just in time to catch the judge's tallying of the scores and to watch the award ceremony. 

Hugh raved about the winning pie (#5), we grabbed a cantaloupe and some cider, and headed out to grab lunch before going home to start decorating the house for Halloween (me) and setting up the physical build for our annual skeleton yard display (I come up with the vision, Hugh does the building, and I finish up with the details. More on that to come! It is only September 27th, after all).

It was a really great day, in all honesty. I almost felt like my old self again. And, when Queen B came home to spend the night in her old room (she had an appointment in a nearby town first thing this morning and decided to cut the commute down), it was the ice cream on top of the pie.

Ha! Wrapped that nicely!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Monthly Musings: Fall and Halloween

 Today, I am linking up with Holly over at Pink Lady for Monthly Musings . It's my first time, so be gentle with me.

Favorite Fall Tradition

When our kids were small, we made a point of creating traditions around every season and every holiday. Fall traditions were some of my very favorites, and, as the kids grew up and on, it turns out that they were some of their favorites, too. When they can, they join us for our annual visit to the local pumpkin patch and corn maze. When they can't, they find something local to them and they re-create the tradition with friends. This is harder for the Man-Cub, who attends college in Hawaii, presently.

Favorite Halloween Tradition

Oh, where to begin? Halloween is my jam! Hugh and I have gone BIG every year since we met, way back in 1992. That has included haunting the porch for the kids and their friends, jack-o-lantern carving, caramel apple dipping, costume parties, yard displays, and a fully decorated house. It's hard to pick a favorite; I love it all.

But. If I did have to pick just one, it would be this:

Every year, from the time the kids were toddlers until they were too old to Trick-or-Treat, Jana and I would dress the five of them up and take them out. If I close my eyes, I can still hear their little voices begging the neighbors for candy. I can smell the smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces, carried on the crisp, autumn air. I can feel the crunch of fallen leaves under our feet as we walked the neighborhood, and I can taste the hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps that Jana and I poured into thermoses to keep ourselves warm while the kids darted from porch to porch.  I am sad about not having kids to take Trick-or-Treating anymore, truth be told.

Ghost of Elvis? Favorite kid costume, ever!

What Will Halloween Look Like This Year

Hugh and I fully intend to forge ahead with our annual skeleton yard display. I've been planning the theme since last Halloween and I will not be denied! Besides, the neighborhood kids have come to expect the display, and, God knows, they've had to give up a lot this year, already. We are also tinkering with the idea of hosting a costume party on the porch; that way, we can still hand out candy to any Trick-or-Treaters who thumb their noses at the governor's suggestion that Halloween be cancelled this year (seriously, Gov? They're outside! In masks!).

Share Your Favorite Fall Recipe

This is an easy one! Hands down, it's my butternut squash soup. I make a huge pot of it every fall, then, I freeze it in individual serving containers and we eat it occasionally throughout the winter.

Favorite Fall Fashion Staples

Fall is one of my favorite seasons for fashion. I love boots and cardigans and plaid button down shirts and layers. I love the colors of the fashions this time of year, maroon, gold, sage, navy, mulberry, hunter green, and rust. Graphic t-shirts with flannel button-downs are a favorite look.

Favorite Halloween Costume

The year Hugh and I were married, we worked at a haunted house fundraiser. I went to a thrift store and found everything I needed for a dead prom queen costume that was, to this very day, my favorite costume. And, folks, I've had a lot of costumes.

Favorite Halloween Candy

This is a tough one. I mean, I hate to discriminate against any candy. If I'm forced to choose, I guess I would say miniature candy bars, especially Almond Joy, which, is weird, because Halloween is pretty much the only time of year that I even think about Almond Joys.

Favorite Family Halloween Movie

Duh! Hocus Pocus! I mean, isn't that every family's favorite?

I wasn't kidding when I said I have a LOT of costumes!

Scary Movies, Yes or No?

Yes. A thousand times, yes. But, I draw the line at gory and/or unnecessarily violent.

Favorite Fall Beverage

Perhaps, surprisingly, this is not where I wax poetic about Starbucks pumpkin spice. Bleh. I'm more of a hot cider gal.

Well, this was fun! Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday, so, this was actually the perfect link-up for me! Thanks, Holly!