Saturday, September 30, 2023

She's the Apple of Our Eye

This morning, Kristi and I drove Mom out to the local orchard to enter her apple pie into the 4th Annual Apple Pie Contest at the Apple Festival. Mom has been practicing her pies all week and we were confident in her ability to win.

Some of you may remember that Hugh has been a judge of the contest for the past three years, and, that this year he was unable to fulfill the duty because EMT school conflicted with the festival. This was probably a good thing, because we wouldn't want anyone to accuse him of favoritism if he judged Mom's pie.

As it was, the new Petticoat Junction Chief of Police stepped into the role, as did the kids' old PE teacher, who was replacing a woman who had also judged the contest since the beginning. 

While we waited for the judging to begin, we took in the attractions, including the old cider press, which Kristi found fascinating.

We also sampled the juice that was pressed fresh that morning.

And, took some pictures for posterity.

Once all the pies were entered and accounted for, we settled in to watch the judges do their thing. Kristi was super frustrated by the poker face nature of the PE teacher's facial expressions, which made it impossible for her to discern what the woman was thinking. This cracked me up.

In addition to the Chief and the PE teacher, there were two additional judges this year, so the decision came down a lot faster than anyone was expecting. In fact, Mom and I got back from a trip to the porta potties just in time to hear her name announced as the third place winner. Her prize was a set of ceramic soup bowls, which she appreciated.

Unfortunately, since the schedule of events had said that the announcement of the winners would be made at 1:00, and the actual announcement was made a full hour early; the Man-Cub and the Daughter-in-Love didn't make it in time to see Mom take her prize (nor did either the first or second place winners, who were not present at the time. I imagine they were quite disappointed). 

Since they missed it, we decided to have the kids judge a sample from each of the pies (all entries are dished into bite-sized samples for the festival-goers to enjoy), and, not surprisingly, Mom's pie was their favorite, so she's a winner any way you slice it. Ha! Pie humor!

After we finished our pie sample, Kristi, the kids, and I went on the hayride through the orchard, where we got to stop to pick apples. We gathered enough for Mom to bake at least one more pie. Or, apple fritters, which are a specialty of hers. We also got enough to dip caramel apples later in the month, so we are set on apples.

It was a great day, and I know Mom will be scheming ways to take first place next year. 

Friday Favorites, September 29th Edition

Once again, I am a day late with my Friday Favorites post. In my defense, I had friends over and time got away from me while we were catching up. Anyway, here I am, on Saturday, with a bonus post. That's my story and I'm sticking to it (like you care).

This one is going to be short and sweet. Last week, I noticed some pubescent-like eruptions on my face. Folks, I'm at least one solid year into this whole menopause thing; pimples are for children. What the fuck?

Anyhoodle, I booked an appointment for a facial at the day spa in Hooterville and it was glorious. Facials are a favorite, as is being an adult who can afford to get one (sorry, pubescent Chelle! You just had to suffer with the zits because you were a poor).

In addition to scheduling a facial appointment, I also had a hair appointment. I asked my colorist to give me some lowlights because, while I am trying to embrace this gray journey, I was tired of my one-dimensional, brassy locks. She understood the assignment and I could not be happier.

The last favorite of this post circles back to the first paragraph: the friends that I had over last night! I didn't get any pictures, so you'll have to trust me when I tell you that two of the Old School Booster Club Moms made it over for drinks and snacks on the porch. Booster Club President Extraordinaire (BCPE) wasn't able to join us at the last minute (her father-in-law is having some pretty serious medical issues and Decisions needed to be made. We are all praying for her and her family), and Mama Jill was out of town on assignment; we missed them both. But, we agreed that we need to make this a more regular thing, so I'm sure we'll have other chances to get the entire band back together.

Friends are always a favorite.

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.