Thursday, September 28, 2023

We Got Ourselves Into Quite the Pickle

When I planted the garden this spring, I never thought that the cucumber harvest would be quite as plentiful as it has turned out to be. This has been a great thing, according to Hugh, who has enjoyed his favorite creamy cucumber salad on multiple occasions this year. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating; I do not like raw cucumbers. I do, however, like a cucumber once it has been wrestled into submission in a good pickling brine, hence my decision to turn my bumper crop into pickles this past Sunday.

Since I had so many cucumbers, I decided to make a few different varieties of pickle, including a homemade dill variety that required a hunt for fresh dill that took Mom, Kristi, and I to the local produce stand, the Hooterville farmer's market, and the Mennonite store, just to purchases enough of the herb for my purposes.

I also had to purchase a new canner, since the one that I swear I once owned has gone missing. Now, Hugh and I are divided on whether or not I ever actually possessed such a utensil, but I am relatively confident that I had one back when we lived in Mount Pilot. I could be wrong, but don't tell Hugh.

Kristi had never canned before, but she jumped into the chore with enthusiasm. She scrubbed the cucumbers while I prepped the jars, and she wore an apron while she did it.

Naturally, I snapped a picture of her in it to send to Erin, who was following along on our pickling adventure virtually.

Our first couple of batches were the homemade dill and it went well. So well, I think we got a little cocky in our abilities.

The next batch we made used a packaged pickling brine that was labeled "spicy". Hugh loves a good spicy pickle, so it sounded like a great idea. And, it was, right up until the moment Kristi and I gassed ourselves on the fumes that filled the kitchen from the boiling brine.

Folks? It was like a can of bear spray had been sprayed directly into our lungs. I feared we might die, but we did, in fact, survive to tell the tale. Those pickles better be fucking amazing, because my lungs are permanently damaged.

Anyhoodle, we added a batch of bread and butter pickles, which were a staple in my Grandma Molly's pantry; this brought the total number of quart jars to 18. I hope the people in my life enjoy pickles; I hear they make great stocking stuffers.

Oh, and speaking of butter (we weren't, actually); while on the hunt for the fresh dill, I purchased a glass butter churn jar from the Mennonite store. Did I need a glass butter churn jar? No, no I did not. Do I regret the purchase? Also, no.

I made my first batch right after we cleaned up the mess from Picklepalooza and I served it with hot baguette for dinner. It was the best damn butter I have ever eaten. I'll never buy butter, again (ok, I'll totally buy butter again; it just won't taste as good).

All in all, it was a very successful day, from a Homesteading standpoint.

Yes, I know; actual homesteaders just rolled their eyes at me. But! Every homesteader had to start, somewhere!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

What's Up Wednesday, September 2023 Edition

It's finally fall, y'all! We are entering my favorite months of the year and I am here for it! But, first, let's get to What's Up Wednesday, hosted by Sheaffer and Shay.

What We're Eating

Recently, I had the world's best donuts, baked with love by the Mennonite community just down the road from Petticoat Junction.

That very day, I had southwestern eggrolls, which were simply delish.

And, on a somewhat related note,  I made butter. Like, with my very own hands. Ok, not just my hands, but with a hand-churner, like the Mennonites do (I'm guessing). It was the best butter that I have ever tasted and the bonus buttermilk that it produced will go into some baking later this weekend. I feel like such a homesteader.

What I'm Reminiscing About

It's Homecoming season here in Petticoat Junction and I can't help but reminisce about the years that Queen B and the Man-Cub were in high school; those were some fun years. Coincidentally, this Friday, I will be hosting Porch Night for the Old School Booster Moms; we haven't all been together since the last of the kids graduated and it is high time that we get the band back together.

What I'm Loving

The golf lessons that I signed myself, my staff, and the Daughter-in-Love up for came to an end this month. Our last session was spent playing several holes on the course. The Daughter-in-Love and I shared a cart and I can see us doing that a lot in the future.

What I've Been Up To

My favorite antique market took place last weekend and it was the best show yet. I found several fun treasures, ate the donuts I talked about earlier, and got to spend the morning with Hugh, Mom, and Kristi. I was a great way to spend the first official day of fall.

Mom, Kristi, and I also hit the fruit and vegetable stand at the local orchard. Mom is planning to enter the apple pie contest that the orchard hosts and she wanted to get some apples to practice with.

What I'm Working On

I am currently sorting through the hundreds of photos taken by our volunteer event photographer at this month's Barn Dance fundraiser. Once I get them culled, I need to get them posted to our organization's website , as well as adding them to the thank-you posts to our sponsors on our social media channels.

What I'm Dreading

Next month is both quarterly reporting month and budget drafting month. I don't love either of those things.

What I'm Excited About

Hugh got our old rowboat painted for a photo shoot that I am going to do with the Man-Cub and the Daughter-in-Love ; it looks great! Now, I'm just waiting for the trees to change color in the park where we will be doing the shoot. This excites me more than you know.

What I'm Watching

Kristi is staying with us while she waits for her spousal Visa to be approved by the UK. She made the mistake of telling me that she had no idea who Ichabod Crane was, so I made her sit through The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so she would understand the references I kept making to Ichabod and the Headless Horseman. I hadn't seen the show in years, so it was fun for me, too.

What I'm Listening To

The Office is playing in the background as I type this. That seems to be a theme when I write these posts, lately.

What I'm Reading

I grabbed a copy of Country Living magazine at the grocery store today, and I'm already halfway through the articles. This is the best that I can manage for pleasure reading right now, but I'm not complaining.

What I'm Wearing

I am wearing the usual business casual uniform for work, which isn't very exciting, I know. I did, however, wear the cute green dress that I got for Mia's wedding and I loved it.

What I'm Doing This Weekend

The apple pie contest that mom is entering is this Saturday. Hugh usually judges the contest, but, this year he will be at EMT class, so he isn't able to participate. This is probably a good thing; we don't want anyone to claim favoritism when Mom wins, now, do we?

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month

All. Things. HALLOWEEN!!! I can't wait!

Favorite Amazon Find This Month

I purchased this vest for both Hugh and the Man-Cub for the Barn Dance. The quality was really great and the price was right. The guys looked handsome and will be able to wear the vests for future events. Win-win.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Stories For Another Day

 Where to begin?

How about with the Barn Dance, which took place over a week ago, now? Why has it taken me so long to write about it? Several reasons, the most important of which is the fact that I didn't have the pictures back from the event photographer before now. This is the first year that we've had an event photographer (who wasn't me), and I'm not complaining, at all; I'm just used to having the images immediately. Don't worry, I'll get over that because it was really nice not to be responsible for that aspect of the event in addition to all my other duties.

Anyhoodle, The Barn Dance itself was both wildly successful and a huge shit-show. We thought we were ahead of the game when we set up for the event a full day early, but, Mother Nature was like "Not so fast", and she sent up a rainstorm that had us scrambling to move the entire event under the cover of the arena with less than two hours to spare before the event began. We managed it, and, our guests loved it, but what a complete pain in the ass (and, every other muscle, joint, bit of skin tissue, etc.).

The experience did teach us that the arena is a perfectly reasonable location for the event moving forward, so that is what we intend to do from here-on-out.

One of my favorite parts of the event was having the Man-Cub and the Daughter-in-Love on hand to help with serving dinner. They looked adorable in their saloon-wear and seemed to be having a really good time. Shanti even had Hugh and the Cub arrested by the Sheriff; they spent a hot minute in the jail before they managed to raise enough money to bail them out.

When they weren't serving up ribs and pulled pork, or playing around in the jail, they scoped out the silent auction (where we snagged a golf package at one of the nicer local courses) and danced to the music of the country western band. 

I'm relatively confident that they will be willing to return as volunteers again next year. which warms my mommy heart.

As I mentioned earlier, Hugh was also on hand, looking quite dapper in his western wear (I purchased the vests for both him and the Cub on Amazon, and they are now a favorite purchase). He was coming off a full day, having taken Emily to Neighboring City early in the morning for a surgery to install a pacemaker (long time coming, and definitely needed). The procedure went without a hitch and I was happy that he was able to join us, although I would have totally understood it if he had skipped it.

He does love a good silent auction, though.

As always, my staff were absolute rockstars, arriving early and staying late. They were especially awesome when it came to that last-minute push to get everything under cover. They were also really good sports about dressing for the theme, which was way outside some of their comfort zones.

When all was said and done, we had raised about thirty grand, which is not too shabby.

In the other story for another day; Kristi is still here with us in Petticoat Junction, awaiting her official UK Visa. This is a true example of "best laid plans often going awry". Erin flew out on the 18th, as her work Visa was a breeze to acquire, thanks to the fact that she has a job waiting for her in Wales. Kristi's spousal Visa required more information and time, and, despite requesting an expedited review; she is in a holding pattern.

Since the girls already had renters moving into their house, Kristi has been staying with us and is, of course, welcome for as long as it takes, but both girls are getting anxious to have her in the UK.

Erin traveled with their two dogs and has since managed to purchase a car, find a salon in which to get her eyebrows threaded, and made fast friends with the owners of the Airbnb that she is staying in, but she is feeling isolated and ready for Kristi to get there already. I feel for her. That being said, I'm going to enjoy every last minute of the time that I get to spend with Kristi.

I'm going to miss my friends and am looking forward to visiting their new home really soon. But, we'll let that be a story for another day.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Saturday at The Pea

Saturday morning, Hugh, Mom, Kristi, and I headed out to Pea Green for the fall edition of Pickin' at the Pea. Longtime readers here know how much Kristi and I enjoy this particular antique market, and, may be interested to note that, at this point, Mom and Hugh are also becoming big fans.

Of course, the Mennonite donuts are always a big draw, so much so that, this year; there was a maximum placed on the number of donuts that each customer could buy. This meant that both Hugh and I had to hit the line just to buy enough to go around for our group. It was worth it.

New to the market this year were homemade sourdough loaves. I didn't purchase one because I have a perfectly good sourdough starter just chillin' in my fridge, so I can bake a loaf whenever I want (the fact that I had completely forgotten said starter in the fridge until I saw the loaves for sale is neither here, nor there).

There were actually quite a few new vendors at the show, making it the biggest one, yet. And, while I didn't go with the intention of buying anything, I could not pass up several amazing (to me) finds, including two tabletop blow mold candles and a vintage Gurley turkey candle. Gurley candles were a staple in homes when I was a kid, and they take me right back to my childhood.

Initially, Hugh was unimpressed.

But then he laid eyes on Kristi's treasures and he realized that it could be so much worse 😂

Prior to Saturday, I would have said that Hugh's favorite part of the show is the donuts, and, while they are still in his top ten reasons; I can now say with confidence that the slow drip coffee and actual bargain hunting have joined  the list. In fact, Hugh engaged his bartering prowess to score a large black and white print for the guest room for less than half of the original asking price. He was quite pleased with himself, I assure you.

Mom didn't make a single purchase, but I think she had fun, regardless. And we certainly enjoyed having her with us.

All in all, it was a great day! Plus, I snagged this antique silver serving dish, which is already serving up a creepy surprise on my Halloween table scape. These are the small things that bring me such joy at The Pea.

I'm kind of weird like that.