Monthly Archives: September 2008

Beer 30

Tonight while enjoying Beer-Thirty in the shed with Farmer Josh I witnessed yet another incident to further my rejection of the human race. A maroon van pulled into the gravel lot (the kind that has curtains parted with tie backs). A *family* exits the vehicle to parooze the goods. Josh enters stage left and proceeds to assist them with their purchase. A polite conversation takes place where the lady explains to Josh that she has placed her money in the self-serve box and continues to load her van with mums, apples and pumpkins. The lady even makes a point to mention that *it is a shame that some people just don’t pay* The family then gets into their vehicle and exits the lot. Josh opens the locked box to discover the absence of said moneys for products taken. Fucking People!!!


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Boobie Brigade

I will be participating in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in Harrisburg on October 18th. I’ve been mass emailing all my friends and family to persuade them in joining my team or making a donation. Hey they do it to me so it is only fair I do it right back to them, and besides who doesn’t like boobies!! 🙂

Our team name is the Boobie Brigade, thought up by yours truly. 🙂 I figure I will use all possible outlets at my disposal to get the word out. Not sure if anyone really reads my blog, except my stitchin sisters, so I may be talking to myself…which I normally do anyway, but I digress.

Here is the link to my page.

So why am I walking you ask? Well, it is more like who are the people I am walking for. Cancer is cancer no matter what form it takes or what system it’s effecting. This disease has touched so many people in my life. My mother is a cancer survivor, my aunt lost her life to uterine cancer. Last year a long time friend lost her 5 year old daughter to Leukemia and another friend’s daughter, who is turning 3 the end of October is currently battling Leukemia. My soon to be sister in law’s aunt was just diagnosed and another friend lost his mother to breast cancer last October. Those are my reasons for doing what I am doing.

Earlier in the year I made a charity piece for the American Cancer Society in memory of a lost life. Upon the sale of this item all proceeds will be donated to cancer research. Here is the link to my web page for the donation item.

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Practice makes Perfect

Ever since I was a child all I’ve ever wanted to do was learn to play the piano. My mother, who played as a child, always said “no, it is a piece of furniture and when the time comes we are not going to move it!” So I ended up with a very transportable clarinet…woo hoo for wood winds…not! About 2 years ago part of my dream came true when clients of mine were giving away his mother’s piano. They decided they were going to upgrade to a baby grand, must be nice. So when they asked if I knew anyone looking for a piano I about fell over! Oh Me Me Me said the child in the back of the classroom with her arm stretched so high and waving frantically she about falls out of her chair!! So we, Jason and I, rented a Uhaul, went to my clients home and picked it up. Since then I’ve moved it one other time. Oh and don’t tell my mom but IT IS a big heavy piece of furniture! Doh! Why is she ALWAYS right!?!

I can’t read music nor can I really play by ear, I am a bit (more like a lot) tone deaf. 🙂 So instead of hiring a classicaly trained teacher, I’ve been teaching myself by watching someone play the song first, then I figure out the notes and memorize it. Clearly I like doing things the hard way! lol Eventually I will have to get lessons because I am very serious about mastering, or at least getting a good handle on this instrument, and I don’t want to develop any bad playing habits. Besides it will make learning to play my guitar all the more easier.

Here is a short video I shot last night while practicing one of my favorite songs, 9 Crimes by Damion Rice. The song basically repeats itself the entire time so it was really easy to pick up. I play it at a slightly slower tempo and press the damper pedal to sustain the notes. I really think the melody is just beautiful, somewhat dramatic and even a bit haunting. Upon reviewing my video I’ve also come to the conclusion that I will have to get a metronome because I really do vary the tempo at times. Oops is that a bad habit starting already??

You can also catch a glimpse of my new pants I made yesterday. Well they really aren’t *new* as I have had them since college and this is the second time I’ve revamped them with side panels, but you get the point! 🙂 The patchwork was done randomly while using a vintage bird and flower print and corduroy in green and gold.

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Mary Kay Mischeif

Is it a prerequisite in the face color industry to be pushy, overbearing and never take no for an answer? Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against sales people, at one point in my life I was one and a good one at that. There is a way to push people without them knowing you are applying pressure, thank you Tommy Hopkins! I have gone through so many Mary Kay ladies for the reasons mentioned above. I am not a girly girl and rarely wear makeup. I am what you call *el natural*! 🙂 Besides I am sure the cows on the farm could give two shits if I happen to be wearing eyeliner as I am filling up the trough with left over produce. During the 4 months out of the year when I am working in an office is really the only time I will get all *fancied up*. Even then you can barely tell I have anything on. People tend to forget the rule less is more, makeup is not war paint people!

I emailed my sales rep with my order, cause you know she sure as hell isn’t getting my number! It is bad enough she knows where I live! I wanted to reorder a few eye shadows and a bottle of oil free eye makeup remover. Which by the way is the best product on the market for gently removing mascara. This past spring Mary Kay redesigned their line and of course all the new products don’t fit inside the old compacts, forcing you to spent a ridiculous amount of money on the new system. Um no thank you! I asked my consultant if she still had the colors I was looking for in the old packaging. She said she would check with her sister consultants and get back to me. Well she did find them and I was a happy camper.

Making sure to avoid yet another pushy covo about booking a party or facial or whatever the sales gimmick is that season, I picked a time when I knew I would not be around and she could just drop off my order. 🙂 Upon my return I happily saw the very noticeable bag in a lovely shade of retina burning pink hanging between my front doors. I opened it up to put everything away only to find the *sister consultant* had placed her contact info inside the packaging of my eyeshadow. Tricky, Tricky, Shadey McShaderson! What some people won’t do to gain another customer! Guess she really wants that pink Cadillac!

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Gifts from the Heart

Today I have a house warming party to attend in Harrisburg for my brother and his fiance, Krystal. They recently purchased and moved into a a beautiful 3 floor town home. Their previous residence was a one floor one bedroom condo that overnight became too small once my niece, Cecelia was born.

The new kitchen is being decorated in a rooster theme, so that is what I decided to make the focal point of inspiration for my gift. Earlier in the week I was flipping though one of my cross stitch books, low and behold there was a pattern for a rooster! woo hoo! I then remembered I had several kitchen towels in a crafting basket just waiting to be hand embroidered. I’ve probably had these blanks for over 13 years now. I just can’t seem to part with items that I know will come in use later in life…aka blank kitchen towels. I get my pack rat gene honestly. My step father always half jokes that if they loose everything in the stock market they will just open up the house as a gift shop. My mother is extremely talented in interior design. Every home she has ever built and decorated looks like it came right out of the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. It is actually kind of annoying because growing up we always had formal rooms that my brother and I were banned from entering. Mostly me because I was always getting into the curio cabinet and taking out the antique dolls from the 18 hundreds. They just looked so sad sitting there behind glass…I just had to set them free! 🙂 Anyway, I am off on a ramble, back to the point of this blog…roosters on kitchen towels, right. Krystal’s favorite color is purple so I thought purple roosters would be fitting. I had to mirror the image which was a pain in the butt because I would forget at times and then have to rip out several rows of stitching. UGH! In the end it turned out super cute and I was happy to be finished with the project!

I had found some really cute rooster themed napkins and a magnetic note pad and my local True Value hardware store, Longenecklers. That store is awesome and has everything! There is a farm & building section, crafting & yarn supplies, candles, holiday decorations, a garden center, home appliances and anything else you need. Their prices are a bit higher, by about 25% but it is right down the street and I am all about supporting small/local businesses!

I tossed in one of my newly canned jars of organic grape jelly, which also happens to be Krystal’s favorite flavor!

Unfortunately I didn’t have a rooster gift bag so I decorated a recycled one with some flower stickers. This is where mom’s craft closet would have come in handy because I am sure she would of had 5 for me to choose from, all with coordinating tissue paper no doubt! lol

All in all I think the gift turned out nice and I know it is all items that they will use. There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a thoughtless gift you know you will go directly into the closet and never get used!

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So Long Sleep

I’ve been up since 3:30, not sure why?? I love my sleep just about as much as sewing! I am a bit confused as to why I woke up an hour and half early. Normally my day starts off with a wake up call given by PBS radio. The men who read the world news are so dry and old I’m convinced they fart dust! I have it cranked so loud it startles me awake. I am sure it is pretty funny to watch. If I set the alarm to the atrocious beeping it instantly pisses me off once I realize what the noise it and where it is coming from! So, monotone chatter on world events it is!

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Kitchen Kraftyness

Since my grape jelly was such a success I decided to try my hand at canning fresh juice. I picked about 10 lbs of grapes off the vine last night. If there is anything that rivals picking strawberries it is grapes. The constant up and down and side to side quickly alleviated any guilt associated with not exercising earlier in the day! I prepared the grapes in much the same way as I did when making jelly. Mash, boil, strain, then I let the juice chill over night, restrained and reboiled then canned it in pint jars. Most recipes call for adding sugar to taste, I omit this step as I find the natural juice to be sweet enough. From the 5 lbs of grapes, I was able to yield 4 pints of fresh juice. I think I am going to make more jelly with the rest of the grapes. 🙂

I also spent a bit of time in my garden picking peppers for freezing. I had an over abundance of banana and jalapenos so I sliced a few and froze them on a cookie sheet so they could be placed into freezer bags w/o sticking together.

I also made my famous kick ass curry for diner the other night, it’s always a hit at the festivals! Curry can be made several different ways. I make it the same way we use to at my friend’s Thai restaurant, coconut milk and paste. You can use powder but the paste is more potent and just tastes better all around! Usually I will use Basmati rice but I decided to switch it up with a bit of Jasmine this go round!

While my tofu was pressing I started cooking the rice. I chopped up some organic beets and carrots from my garden along with a potato and some of farmer Josh’s onions and garlic. I sauteed them in clarified butter, sometimes I use EVOO. (stupid Rachel Ray’s abbreviation)

After a few moments I stirred in the cubed tofu, some jalapenos, banana peppers, green beans and shrooms. While that was cooking I started to simmer the coconut milk.

Once the coconut milk starts to lightly bubble add the curry paste. You want to be careful that you do not *break* the milk, that will cause it to seperate and get kind of a grainey curdled look. It still tastes ok just has a funny consistancy. Simmer the milk just long enough to mix the paste and then pour it over the cooked veggies. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry.

Remove from heat, spoon over rice add chop sticks and enjoy!

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Going Grape

Last night I decided to embark on a new adventure, making and canning jelly. The concord grape vine in my back yard is ripe with fruit and each time this year I get the itch to do something with it. Sometimes I snack on the grapes while gardening or mowing, there is nothing like fresh concord grapes! The only drawback is they have lots of tiny seeds, so when your finished eating your teeth are packed full! Your pearly whites are more like pearly purples!

There are only 4 ingredients needed in making jam and jelly; fruit, sugar, water and pectin which is a natural product derived from apples. The first step is to pick your fruit. I will be making jelly since I will be removing the seeds and chunks of fruit. A good *rule of thumb* (enter Boondock Saints flash back) is a pound of grapes will yield almost a cup of juice. I used 5lbs of grapes because the recipe called for 5C of juice. You can also purchase concord grape juice and make jelly that way. I prefer to do things the old fashion way, and besides, if you can’t make a huge sticky mess then what’s the fun in it! 🙂

After the grapes have been washed and weighed it is time to crush them to release the juice. I use a potato masher, you can also place them in a food processor.

Place the mashed grapes on the stove and bring to a slow boil, this will help to breakdown the grapes and release more juice. You can also give them another mash at this time.
Once the grapes have cooked, approximately 10 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl through cheese cloth or you can use a jelly strainer for a clearer result. The left over mash can be composted, which I did.

Once the juice has been extracted from the mashed grapes place it back into a large pot and add pectin mixed with about 1/4C sugar and bring to a boil. It will take the mixture 5-10 minutes to reach a hard boil, the kind that can not be stirred away. Add the remaining sugar, stir and boil hard for one minute. I used the no or low sugar pectin because it cuts the amount of sugar used by half!

While my juice was simmering on the stove I started boiling a large pot of water to sterilize my canning jars. You can use unsterilized jars but you have to process them for 10 minutes instead of 5, which can result a runny jelly.

Once my jars were ready I ladled in the hot jelly leaving 1/4″ – 1/2″ head space and processed in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.

After it was all said and done I ended up with 8 pint jars of fresh homemade ORGANIC Grape Jelly! YUMMY!!!!

I had a bit of grape juice left over, so I bottled it to enjoy later. There is nothing like the taste of fresh squeezed juice! I think I may have to can some juice later this week as well!

While cleaning up I noticed the juice separating into several colors which started my wheels spinning…I may just have to try experimenting with natural dyes sooner than later!

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Family Tyme

Every Autumnal Equinox weekend my mother’s side of the family eagerly travels towards our annual family reunion, held at my parent’s (mom and step-dad) cabin in Everette Pa. Most campers start rollin’ in early Friday afternoon. Tents are popped, food begins to cook and the party continues till about noon Sunday when goodbyes are exchanged and the anticipation for next years event returns.

During the course of the weekend everyone gathers for the family photo. This year’s t-shirts were forest green and read *Days End Farm* Where Memories are Made*. Now that my parents are retired at the end of the day they can be found relaxing on the front porch swing growing memories. That is the explanation my mom had for this year’s theme. Gee, I wonder if it is hard to spot me in the photo! 🙂

The weekend is spent doing whatever, time is passed listening to music, relaxing in the hammocks, chatting around a campfire or gathered around the dinner table. Games of Pong Ball are set up, one for the adults and one for the kids. It is always fun to cool off after a long hike with a 3 wheeler or gator ride through the fields. Eventually someone has to go into town when they realize the forgot to pack an item or for a much needed beer run. This is always a good way to take in the *local scene*.

Saturday my mom, Jack and I went for a 3 mile hike around the loop. I came across the path of an interesting worm and had to stop for a picture.

I took a moment to snap a few pictures of the surrounding scenery, and to give my parents time to catch up and have a breather! I was happy to see I was in better shape than I though, guess that farm work is doin’ me good! This is looking out over the back side of the property.

Here are a few random shots from the weekend.

I was able to shoot some video footage of my adorable niece, Cecelia getting down to some bluegrass. Looks like I may have a festival buddy in the making! Sorry the video is sideways! I always forget that even though the display window shows an upright image it really is sideways. And of course I have no idea how to flip it!

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Road Trippin’

Last weekend my travels took me to good ol‘ Indiana Pa, where once upon a time I cohabited with a certain someone. Let me tell you that town sucks! There is always an 80% chance that it is going to rain, despite what the weather report says. It is blistering cold in the winter and usually starts snowing in October and stops in May! Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point! The summers are beautiful as the town is nestled in the mountains creating a picturesque scenery, and fall, OH you should see the foliage!! I was fortunate enough to become friends with some really righteous wizards, which is what draws me back time and again to this crappy mountain town.

Here I am mid drive, eagle eying some douche bag up my tail pipe! It’s times like these I wish I still had my eclipse! How I miss that little car, especially in the summer!! Indiana is 222 miles from Lancaster and usually takes 3 hours 20 minutes. Depending on Mother Nature’s current temperament your drive can be a real bitch! My mother came to visit me once while I lived there. She came on an active weather day and vowed to never return! Usually this sign is flashing away, which also happens to be her favorite part of the story when retelling her adventure.

Since I’ve driven this path so many times I have a few places I and things I look forward to each trip. One of them would be the tunnels. I get to pass through Blue Mountain, Mt Kittatiny and the Tuscarora Mountain. The way the lights chase each other on your car’s interior is very psychedelic, almost like a flashing disco ball.

This is my favorite mountain, it comes into view as you are exiting the Tuscarora Mountain.

The first event on my itinerary included attending the wedding of long time friends Chris and Christy. I’ve know Smiley (Chris) for about 8 years and Christy for about 6. Smiley is part of a close knit circle of friends that was established during my Lone Star college days. The ceremony was simple and beautiful. Christy was absolutely stunning and I’ve never seen Smiley look more handsome! Noah, their oldest child was ring bearer and Molly, a friends daughter was the flower girl. Aiden and Isabella were also included but since they are so young they did not actually walk down the isle.

Here we are at the reception. For some reason every picture that was taken with my camera someones head was cut off. So I *borrowed* this one from the wedding album! 🙂

After the wedding I made plans to hang with the Havens. I have not seen these amazing people since last visiting Boston, a year ago. Last November Naomi Jain made her way into the world and I could not wait to meet that little peanut! She loved wrapping her little fingers around my long locks and tugging away.

I wanted to surprise Naomi Jain with a piece of Peanut Patchwork. I just so happened to find the cutest kitty fabric at a quilt shop near my house earlier in the week. I think the jumper turned out adorable and I can not wait to see her in it!

Here I am with mama Katelyn and papa J. I can not tell you how much I love these people! They are two of the most kind, thoughtful, caring free spirited beings I know! Man I wish you guys were closer! We did a bit of partying Saturday evening and J had left to get some beers, next I knew there was a Magic Hat #9 in my hands! My friends know me through and through!

After several hours of good friends and great conversation I was overcome with sleepiness and retired to my room on the promise that I would stop by again before heading home.

This was my suite located at the rustic, historic Twin Pines Motel. You gotta love the authentic 70’s decor!

Sunday morning I had breakfast plans with Jenn. Good ol‘ Vally Dairy was our destination and veggie omelets were our mission! It is comforting to know that some things just don’t change! 🙂 Since my last visit with Jenn a year had lapsed and Miss Meah had been born. I had surprised Jenn’s family with a loaf of my homemade organic zucchini bread packed full of chocolate and love! MMM MMM GOOD if I do say so myself, and so does everyone else!

After Jenn’s it was time to venture out to the thriving metropolis of Shelocta to see my long time friend and *spiritual adviser* Dg…oh yea and I guess crazy cat lady falls into that mix as well! She has the biggest heart of all my animal loving friends! I believe she has something like 30 cats that she cares for b/c people tend to NOT spay and neuter their animals *in these here parts*. She is always looking for loving homes for the over abundance of kitties, which is how I ended up with Jimi and Janis. These two puffs of fuzz are from her latest litter. I am so proud of my use of self control! I can not tell you how badly I wanted to scoop these two up and take them home with me!!!

The one pictured below is Barrel Kitty, she smushes up her little humpy nose and gives you the *I know you’re not talking to me* look! Too freakin’ CUTE!

As I left Shelocta and navigated back to Indiana I passed the Homer City Nuclear Power Plant. I attribute this plant and the other two found in the vacinity to the wacky weather patterns.

Before leaving Sunday to return home, Katelyn had packed me a travel snack bag. It’s contents included a babagnush sandwich, which I like to refer to as sweet lovin on bread, an apple, cheese, crackers, a homemade pickle and a big ol’ cup of hot joe! I was suppose to leave mid afternoon but just could not tear myself away despite the setting sun and the quickly approaching storm. I hate driving at night because I get soooo tired! I arrived home shortly after midnight full in both heart and soul. I love my friends!


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