Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fairs and Festivals

There is something glorious and exciting about celebrating. And somehow it seems to make things even better when you are celebrating absolutely nothing at all. Everyone is created equal because there are no "guests of honor" or particular people to be the center of attention. It's just a chance to celebrate life and community and all the goodness that goes along with it.

Last weekend I went "home" to Cullman to gather stuff from the house for the yard sale in a few weeks and to also spend a little time with my dad and step-mom (and pick up the wedding pictures!) I put home in quotes because it feels less and less like my home now. I've been kind of torn about where my home is for several years, but that is beside the point.

Last week was the Cullman County Fair. I used to enjoy going to the fair when I was young. It was just nice to have something going on in a small town that gets kind of boring in the fall. As I have gotten older I don't have the desire to go to the fair I once did, but I can still respect it as a part of the life of the community. My dad took us up there for a little while. Since he's in the Lion's Club and they sponsor it, we got in free which was good. Catherine rode one ride and we watched her. We checked out all the exhibits and visited a little bit of livestock, and strolled through all of the fairgrounds just to remind ourselves why we didn't want to stay too long. There were lots of rednecks and the place had a very distinctive odor of fried food, animal poo, and tobacco spit. Still, I have a few fond memories of the fair from childhood and probably always will.

We are going back to Cullman this weekend for round two. And this weekend marks the beginning of the Oktoberfest. I am very excited about all the food and the German Festival at Sacred Heart. In elementary school my best friend went to Sacred Heart so I would always go to the German Festival with her. In high school I played in the German Band and got to go to quite a few varying events. No matter what, the food has been and will continue to be my favorite part of it. I don't think I would be quite as excited if good German food was readily available in the same way that so many other foods are. I never did get to try out the Gerst Haus in Nashville. Maybe one day when I got back for a visit. 

I like getting to celebrate absolutely nothing and have an excuse to get excited about things. Not just these, but all the different fairs and festivals that are out there. My other favorites are the arts and crafts fairs or any other seasonal thing. If you know of a good one and want to share the experience, let me know!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wedding Photos

I got my wedding album back from the photographer on Friday. This is just a little preview. If you want to see the whole thing you have to visit in person (or let me come visit you!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Southern Women's Show

I went to the Southern Women's Show in Birmingham on Thursday. I never thought much about anything like this until I went to my first race expo and had a really good time. Then I went to a bridal show and had a good time with that. So I have been really looking forward to this for several months.

I was up bright and early Thursday morning. At first I was a little hesitant to go early because I had worked a health and fitness expo while I was in college and I remember even right around opening time, there weren't many people and a lot of the exhibits were still being set up. But when I had to hunt for a parking spot for almost 15 minutes and saw the line to buy tickets, I decided early was better! 

It was really nice. It wasn't super crowded and after I got in I never really had to stand in line for anything. There was a lot of shopping, which I looked at but didn't really buy anything. I spent over five hours just walking around, so I saw just about everything. I enjoyed lots of food samples, watched a cooking demo, listened to a seminar about using coupons, and had a fantastic time!

Of course, I also came home with some giveaways - a tiny jar of mayo, several packets of seasoning, a pen, two re-useable shopping bags, a koozie, a jar gripper, a magnetic clip, a tea towel, several balloons and buttons, a calendar, two nail files, a bracelet, and I'm sure some other things. 

I did buy a few things - the first thing I got was a little ceramic plate that has tiny teeth on it for grating garlic or nutmeg or whatever without cutting yourself (because it's not metal blades). Yes, I already have a little microplane and I usually buy garlic in a jar, but I really wanted one of these. I first saw it on the show "Pitchmen" and thought it was really cool. I also got a cannister of pepper spray because I didn't have any (although I did get the pink keychain holder for it). I also got a new set of sheets for our bed. They are very soft and comfy, but the biggest thing that appealed to me was the fact that it came with four pillowcases instead of just two! Plus, they threw in a free pillow so I feel like I got a really good deal. 

I really would love to go back tomorrow for a few hours, but I doubt Jeff will go for it. We'll see though! 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

144 Kentwood

I have been keeping this kind of quiet because there's always the chance of something happening to derail this whole process but...


It's a beautiful place in Alabaster. It's a foreclosure but it's in surprisingly good shape. It's not move-in ready by any means, but it doesn't have any major structural issues. The biggest thing we will have to do after closing is replace the siding on the chimney, paint inside and out, trim the shrubs, and replace all the carpet upstairs and the kitchen floor, replace the microwave and maybe the stove, plus make a few minor repairs. 

The plan right now is to move around the first of the year. That way we can get all the updates done, have the place deep cleaned, and survive the holidays before we tackle moving.

We haven't set a closing date yet but it will definitely be before the end of the first week of November. We're hoping for the last week of October. One of the conditions of the contract is that the seller gets to choose the closing stuff. Well, the owner is technically in California. If they want us to come out to California to close, I am FINE with that! I really doubt that's going to happen, but I can dream!

Coming soon - The Southern Women's Show, Yellow Cake, Beef Stroganoff, and Christmas Shopping.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chicken 2.0

Last night I tried roasting just the chicken breasts. I think they came out surprisingly well. It would have been better had I had whole sprigs of rosemary, but all in all it was a dinner success.

It was basically the same recipe as before - onion, lemon, celery and carrots with rosemary and butter on the skin to make it crispy. Roast it for about an hour at 375 and let it rest a few minutes before eating.

I have been a slacker about cooking lately and it has been good for me to get back to it. The meal plan is a little off thanks to the craziness of life but here is the plan as it stands right now.

Tonight - leftovers. We have a choice of burgers, pizza, chicken, or jambalaya
Wednesday - beef stroganoff or smoked sausage and potatoes
Thursday - whatever we don't have Wednesday
Friday - probably go out for DQ  if we're not home in time for dinner.
Saturday - chimichangas 
Sunday - more leftovers
Monday - baked spaghetti
Tuesday - pizza or roast
Wednesday - pork chops 

Let me know if you want to come over for dinner! I'm excited about the baked spaghetti because I have a new recipe. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I am not a farm girl. I have never really had to work the land or grow my own food. Working outside in the sun and the dirt has never been something that appealed to me. But recently I have discovered the amazingness of watching something grow in a garden.

I'm sure you may be wondering how you grow stuff in a garden when you live in a second floor condo. Well, we received an upside-down patio garden as a wedding gift and planted a few things. We weren't really sure what to expect, but we decided we would just be thrilled if everything survived, we weren't expecting a whole lot to be produced.

We have been amazed by the output from this tiny little plastic tower. We were able to put in one banana pepper plant, one basil plant, one parsley plant, and three tomato plants. So far we have gotten a dozen tomatoes off the three plants, with at least a dozen more still on the vine yet to be ripe. We have gotten more banana peppers than we can count! There are at least a dozen in the fridge and two dozen more on the plant at this moment. The parsley is all over the place, I'll never use it all. And my basil plant has turned into a TREE! We've had to cut off at least half of it and just throw it out because it was choking out everything else. 

I had a small thyme plant but it was kind of sickly looking from the very beginning and the parsley and basil exploded so fast that it couldn't get any sun and it died. Oh well, maybe next time!

In addition to sitting back and watching everything grow, I've actually enjoyed the work of maintaining the garden. Jeff does the watering when it doesn't rain and will spray for bugs if we need it, but I go through and pick off the dead or eaten leaves. And it's actually really rewarding. 

I want to have a few more things when I have some more room. I still want some thyme (I'll just know not to put it too close to the basil or the parsley!) and I would love a rosemary bush, but that would definitely have to go in the ground and not into a pot!

Solo Travels

I am now planning for my first "business trip". I've been to several meetings, workshops, and seminars as a part of school and now that I've got my big-girl job, but they've all been day trips. In November I'll take my first major overnight trip. And the exciting/frightening thing is that I will be doing it totally alone. I will not be traveling with anyone and I don't know anyone who is planning to be at this seminar. It will be in Chattanooga so it won't be totally foreign territory, but it will be exotic enough to be a little adventure! 

Jeff went to the beach with his family this weekend and since I had to work on Sunday I didn't get to go. Because of that, I'm thinking about taking a little vacation on my own in the spring. I have a few ideas in mind.

#1 - go down to Orlando to meet up with Kath and Stu. I would probably end up driving because it would be much cheaper than flying. At first the idea of an 8 hour drive on my own was somewhat intimidating, but I've done it before and it was actually kind of fun. Plus, Jeff isn't much fun at theme parks anyway so I wouldn't feel guilty about riding stuff and just leaving him standing outside.

#2 - go to Nashville for a few days. I would probably still spend the money on a hotel rather than staying with friends (even though I know it would be cheaper!) I don't have anything in particular that I would want to do while I'm there, just hang out. Oh, and go eat at the Loveless Cafe! It would be nice to spend time with my TN friends but it wouldn't exactly feel like I was all alone in a strange city or that I have to be with people the whole time either. 

#3 - someplace else I haven't thought out the details for! Suggestions are welcome

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used to love to bake cookies when I was a kid. I still love eating them but hardly ever go to the trouble to make them. It's not that it's that hard or makes that big a mess but I just don't do it. Last Christmas I went on a cookie-baking frenzy and tried all kinds of new recipes. But the one thing I didn't make was good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies. 

I don't know what got me thinking about them recently, but I decided I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies. I can't remember the last time I made some that weren't from a package - probably high school, maybe even earlier. It was a good way to waste some time and not have to feel quite so bored and lonely.

They came out very well. Then again, it's kind of hard to screw them up! I'll probably take them to the UMW meeting tomorrow since I forgot to get milk and can't eat them all right now!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Food and Wine Classic

I never even knew there was such a thing as the Food and Wine Classic until I started watching Top Chef. I have fallen in love with Top Chef so I have gotten curious about the Food and Wine Classic. 

I don't necessarily claim to be a "foodie" because I am a picky eater. And I love junk food and certain classic comfort foods that are certainly NOT gourmet. But I have had a few chances to experience really GOOD food, and I really enjoy it when I can get it. 

I started thinking about it and looking into it. It looks like it would be an AMAZING vacation. I would love to visit Colorado, but I'm not a skiier so summer would definitely be the best time to go. The tickets are SUPER expensive - even the basic ones are over $1000, and it's only a weekend. But you do get 7 seminars, 5 tastings, and a million exhibits and the chance to be in the presence of culinary genius. Then there is the option of the "green pass" which is basically a VIP pass, and gives you a lot of other benefits including "free" gifts, tickets to several special dinners, and $1000 of the $3100 cost is donated to a charity. Part of me would like to do that, even though it would cost me an arm and a leg and I probably wouldn't like a lot the food at the dinners! And really, are the gifts worth that much more that I would be paying? I really doubt it. At the same time, getting the VIP seats at the seminars and all of that would be FANTASTIC and probably well worth it in my book. 

I'll keep dreaming about it. Maybe one of these days I will make it out there! If you want to go with me in maybe 2011 start saving now and let me know!