Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'll Get To It Sometime

So, I'll go ahead and warn you, this post doesn't have much of a purpose.

I have some ideas for upcoming blog posts.

I will detail our trip to the North Carolina Zoological Park.

I will give you a pictorial view of an average day as a housewife.

I will tell you all about my current project of making myself a new Christmas tree skirt.

I will give you weekly updates on my attempt to serve 18 people Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.

I will tell you all about our trip to Atlanta this weekend for a Braves game against the Phillies. Just so you know, the Phillies took the division lead away from the Braves and now we're trying to hang on to the Wild Card bid into the MLB playoffs. And by "we" I do mean myself and the Braves. I'm part of the team....

I will tell you about the town I grew up in.

I will tell you all about Hornworms and the love / hate relationship I have with them.

But for today I'm just telling you about the things I'm going to do. That way, maybe I'll actually do them. On that note, maybe I should tell you about all of the things I need to do today before we leave, so that I will actually get them done. But then again, I don't want to lose all 5 people who read this blog. If I were to list those things you would all die of boredom. And I'm not a murderer. Unless you count Stink bugs. In which case, I'm guilty as charged and proud of it.

Here's a thought - would you guys tell me if you even want to hear about any of these things? Please, comment, tell me if I should even spend my time writing about any of this stuff. And if I shouldn't please let me know what you would like for me to blog about. World peace, the life of a watermelon, whatever.

Also, once you've done that, check out Single Dad Laughing. He's heartwarming, thought provoking, and hilarious!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm a Cheater

So, in reading one of the blogs I follow by Little Mrs. Married I found this other fun blog myleighashley and found a fun (could also be read lazy) way to provide a mid-week blog post.  So here you are, a wee bit of me.

{one} have you ever won a trophy? if yes, for what?
YES!  I won 3 "Glennys" while I was in high school.  It was my high school (Robert B. Glenn) drama department's answer to the Emmys.  One for Best Actress at the North Carolina Theater Conference that year in "A Friend of Mine", one for best actress in the spring show of 1999 which was "Help! I'm Trapped in a High School!", and one for ensemble acting in "A Piece of My Heart" again at NCTC my senior year.

{two} what was your favorite subject in school?
Given the above, Drama.  I was "that" girl...

{three} what time do you get up in the morning?
When Hubby has to work between 5:00 and 5:30, when he doesn't or he goes in later we sleep really late and get up around 8:00

{four} if you could open your own business, what would it be?
A pie shop.  I love making pie.  And I don't know one person who doesn't like to eat pie.  Wanna be an investor?  I'll "feed" you the business plan until you're convinced!

{five} if you could spend the evening with one rock star/band, who would it be?
Hmm, a band in the rock genre.  Aerosmith.  They must have fun stories.

{six} what sitcom character reminds you of you?
MaryJo Shively from Designing Women.  I can rant like Julia but I just don't have the guts to do it to whoever or whatever has made me that angry.

{seven} what are the 3 most important things to you?
most certainly my family, my faith in God, and my KitchenAid mixer

{eight} chips or popcorn?
Popcorn.  There is a popcorn hierarchy though.  1) Homemade, 2) Movie Theater, 3)Microwave, 4) from a holiday tin, and 5) bagged from the snack aisle

{nine} have you ever ordered anything from an infomercial?
Not from the infomercial itself but I have purchased infomercial items at the store. Many, including but not limited to a George Foreman grill, a PedEgg, and Perfect Straps

{ten} what is one thing that you are grateful for today?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reverence & Rememberance

I, like all Americans older than 12, remember where I was 9 years ago today.  I think I will always remember.  I hope I never forget.  I was a college freshman in Charleston, South Carolina.  I had only been away from my family for a week and a half and the newness of college, new friends, a new town, new experiences, a new boyfriend, had yet to wear off and really make me homesick.  However, on this day 9 years ago, that was brought to an abrupt halt.  I suddenly wanted nothing more than to be at home with my mom hugging me and telling me it was going to be OK.  I woke up a little before 9:00 that morning.  Unlike most new college students, my classes didn't start until 1:30 in the afternoon.  For an 18 year old who had never been on her own it was great.  It was even greater that my first class of college was Mixology - the science of being a bartender.  I wasn't even old enough to drink the beverages I was learning to concoct but how cool would that make me among my high school friends when we all saw each other again at Thanksgiving?  Anyway, I got up that morning and 2 of my room mates had already left for class.  My third room mate Megan, who I shared a bedroom with, had not quite roused herself from sleep yet so I shuffled in my pajamas to our living room and turned on the television.  I was immediately stunned and confused by what I saw in front of me.  The words the reporters were saying didn't register to me, all I remember seeing were people in New York running and it looked like they were covered in snow.  It seemed like an eternity before I realized what had happened, a plane had been flown into the World Trade Center.  I watched in awe, waiting for answers on what had happened.  Was this an accident?  Was this an intentional attack.  "Surely not, this is America after all."  I remember thinking that.  Clear as day.  Then I watched in horror as the second plane hit the second tower.  I heard Megan move in the next room and went to get her.  I told her what was happening to the best of my ability and had her come into the living room and watch the news reports with me if for nothing else but to confirm that I was actually seeing and hearing what I thought I was seeing and hearing.  For the next couple of hours I sat in front of the television somewhat in disbelief of what I was seeing.  I saw the report of a plane hitting the Pentagon.  I heard about Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  I still kept thinking "This can't be happening.  This is America.  This can't be happening."  Eventually I embraced the fact that it was happening and my life was still happening and I had to go to class.  I dressed and walked to the bus stop where for the first time no one was talking to one another.  The bus ride from West Ashley to our downtown campus was silent.  When class started our teacher, Mrs. Hawkins, first asked us if there was anyone in the class who had family members in New York or Washington that they couldn't get in touch with.  She then told us that if we felt like we needed to go home we were welcomed to but she had a bit of advice before we made that decision.  She said that while these events were tragic and mind blowing, she thought that the best thing to do was to keep going on with our lives.  To help each other by keeping ourselves busy.  To not let these people, these wretched and frightening people who were responsible for these events, to have the power over our lives that they were trying to take.  We could do this best by going on with our lives and while not disregarding what happened or acting like it didn't happen but instead using it as a reason to go on, show our strength as Americans, show that they could not cripple us or disable us.  She was a wise woman.  So I stayed.   Class ended early that evening and I think I got home by 6:30.  My new boyfriend and I went downtown just to get out and walk, be where other people were, people who were sharing our fear and disbelief.  Something about staying at home that night seemed so stifling. That night a place that was usually alive and full of tourists on vacation was empty.  I remember most walking down King Street and for all the world it looked like it was 2:00 in the morning instead of 8:00 pm.  Shops were closed.  The sidewalks were nearly empty.  Signs were posted in doors alerting customers who weren't even there that the owners and staff were taking the time to be with their families and pray.  It was a strange world that evening.  One with so much uncertainty as to what was going to happen next.  Would there be more attacks?  Where was there 9 left to try and attack?  Would we go to war?  Who on Earth were we going to fight if we did go to war?  What happened?  Today I pulled out the journal I started the day I moved to South Carolina and had to flip only a couple of pages to find what I wrote that day.

"I'm scared to death.  There's been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center & the Pentagon.  Both of the World Trade Center buildings have collapsed.  There's no telling how many people are dead and I haven't left the apartment to see how everyone around here is reacting.  But, I'm so scared.  I'm afraid that there's going to be a war.  I'm even more afraid that it's going to be on our soil.  Around us.  I really wish I didn't have to go to class.  I'm just so scared of what's going to happen."

9 years later, at the age of 27, I don't think I would react any differently than my 18 year old self did.  I still pray for our country.  I always will.  I will not ever forget.

"Time Does Not Change Us.

It just unfolds us." - Max Frisch

Below I offer you almost 3 years of my life.  When I moved into my house in 2005 I designated one room in my house as a "craft room".  I painted one of the walls with chalkboard paint with the idea of jotting down ideas and sketching out patterns.  Instead it became a place where my friends left their mark with chalk.

Every couple of years I erase it and start over but before I do I take pictures of each message and picture so that I don't lose the love and laughter that was left in my home just for me.  Here I will share with you 2 years worth of visitors.  Some of them will never step foot in my house again but, in retrospect, each one left a bigger mark on my life than they did on my wall.

These messages are from my awesome sisters in law.  They came to visit me before we were married, before I even had an engagement ring.  This is a testament to how wonderful his family is though.  They embraced and accepted me as part of their family from the first time we met.

This is from one of my sister's ex-boyfriends.  He came to my house one Christmas for dinner with the family and got wrangled into installing my wireless router.  I guess it took a while.

I had a party once.  I can't even remember for what.  But this is from a room mate of my other sister at the time.  Moe is awesome.

I think this is from the same party.  A friend brought his friend Dirk and at some point in the night we ordered a pizza.  The first number we dialed was incorrect and the person called back.  This is how Dirk answered the phone.

My awesome sister.

I'm not sure which child drew this awesome Christmas picture but it's a treasure.

Before my Hubby was even my boyfriend and before I ever met his friend Mike I started keeping score of things we knew. I got this point for knowing that "nabs" is a southern term that refers to snack sandwich crackers.  More specifically, cheddar crackers with peanut butter filling. This is still the score.

I think this is from my other sister, Tabitha.  If it's not and you lay claim to loving me, let me know so I can give you credit.

This is from one of my cousins.  Either Ian or Ryan.  I'm not sure which one.  I'm not sure if it's grammatically correct or if it's even all in the same language.  But what do I know?

Either Heather or Tabitha.  It's a heart full of siblings.  It makes my heart smile.

A bad series of dates.  However, that bad series of dates is partially what led me to realize that I was head over heels in love with the man that is now my husband.  So I appreciate that bad series of dates.

Tabitha went to Canada for an internship shortly after she wrote this on my wall.  She was gone a couple of months and then came home but there was never any chance of forgetting where she was while she was gone.

My adorable friend Kayla.  She's the daughter of a friend and co-worker of my parents.  My mom says that she's just like me when I was younger.  I hope Kayla takes that as a compliment.  I do.

My godson's mother marked his height at the time of their visit.  He's 4 now.  Amazing.

I think I drew this.  This is the extent of my artistic ability.

This is my most cherished message.  My Aunt Sherri left this one at my Mom's 51st birthday party.  She passed away the next April after fighting breast cancer like a champ.  I won't erase this one.  I can't.  I'm thinking of cutting out the piece of wall that it's on and framing it to take with me when I move.

So that's me.  Or, 3 years of me.  In those 3 years I went from being alone in my home and without a relationship to being married and a housewife.  It's been a heck of a ride.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Can Can, Can You?

I've had that title floating around in my head for a month.  I apologize again for the break.  I can only blame my usual 2 excuses - life and laziness.  However, today, the dishes are done, the laundry can wait until Saturday, and I am procrastinating the menial chores of dying my hair and peeling pears.  What a transition into the purpose of my blog!  Pears!  I am peeling these pears to make pear butter which I hope to can a LARGE batch of early next week.  For those of you who will receive this pear butter for Christmas, be excited, be very excited.  Also, be prepared, because the photos in this post do not include pears.  They include tomatoes I canned earlier this summer.  I realize that in today's culture very few people my age can and preserve their own food.  In fact, my husband and my sister-in-law, Briana, are the only "twenty somethings" I know who continue this age old practice.  It is my hope that with the current push of "going green" more people will pick up the torch and continue.  It's a way of making sure there isn't a waste when you grow your own food.  It's a way to support local farmers when they sell their fresh produce.  It's a way to reduce household trash and in turn save money as the jars used to contain the food are reusable and they lessen the need to buy canned foods at the grocery store. For me the most important reason for canning is having access to food that tastes, in my own opinion, ten thousand times better than that which you can buy at the store.  Below, I will chronicle the process I use to can tomatoes.  I use the water-bath method of canning for tomatoes because they are high in acid and quite honestly the pressure function of a canner scares me a little.  One day I will embrace it when I am forced to can products which necessitate that method but, for now, I stick with what I feel safe with.  Please note, I would prefer it greatly if you wish to learn to can for you to purchase the Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving for specific instructions rather than using this post.  It's a matter of food safety and I don't want to be responsible for your botchulism in case I leave something important out.

I began this journey with tomatoes.

LOTS of tomatoes!  My Grandaddy provided all of the red ones.  We grew these little yellow beauties!

They're called Yellow Jelly Beans, a sweet variety of grape tomato that I am still gathering in mass quantities, sometimes up to 50 a day.  You may notice the "x" marks at the bottom of each tomato above and below.

I do this because I have to prepare the tomatoes.  I take out the cores, any "bad" spots and bruises, and then I mark the bottoms with an "x".  This helps me when I take the skins off.  From this point I quickly blanch the tomatoes and then submerse them into an ice bath.  The "x" lets the steam and hot water get under the skin so that I can slip it right off after the blanching process.  The comes the jars.

It doesn't HAVE to be a Ball jar.  It could be a Kerr.  It could be a Mason.  There may be another brand but I don't know about it.  However, what is more iconic than a glass jar.  They are used for more than home canning.  Some people drink out of them.  Some restaurants use them as their primary drink vessel.  Then again, so do moonshiners.  Not that I've ever drank moonshine or know where I might be able to find it or know people who may have made it.  Not me.  Not ever.

So after preparing the jars, making sure they are clean and sanitary, I stuff all of the tomatoes I can into each jar with some salt and citric acid while leaving proper head room.  If you need a technical description of head room please refer to the book I recommended earlier.  The end up looking kind of like this.

All of those red tomatoes filled up 5 quart sized jars.  All of those yellow tomatoes filled that one little half pint jar.  Amazing, huh?  They'll be spectacular when the weather gets cold and I have no options for home grown delicious flavor packed tomatoes.  Then I follow the instructions in the book to process them.  For water bath canning it takes approximately 90 minutes in boiling water.  Believe me, it warms the house up.  It's a shame you can't can in the winter.  I suggest having some lemonade nearby during this process.  It helps cool you down.  The upside is, if you need a facial, just peek in on the jars.  The steam does wonders.  Anyway, this is what they look like when they come out.

Then you wait.  Within 10 minutes you will start to hear the most glorious noise.  Pop, Ping, Pop.  Those are the seals.  As the jars cool on the outside, the tomatoes inside are still raging hot.  The gap in temperature causes suction and all of the air is forced out and those little seals just suck in and make a wonderful noise.  The one you hope for and dream about.  Maybe it's not that revolutionary to you but it is to me.  Just try it once, you'll share in my joy.

Gross Out Alert and Side Note: To those of you that watch True Blood - look at the red tomato jars.  Do they not slightly remind you of the jar of "Talbot remains" that the King of Mississippi carries around?  Maybe it's just me.