Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Musings...

It's been a busy summer and here's what I'm thinking about.

Maybe I Should Have Been a Bartender.

At the museum we have a small bar called The Freight House. It's part of an old train station. On a few occasions now, Saturday night, at the museum's MidsummerFest, being the most recent, I've bartended there. It's just beer so it's easy-Filling growlers, pints, etc... I even learned to do the cash register.  It's a hoot! I like talking to customers about the beer and the museum.  I'm surprised at HOW MUCH I like it. It's fun. Perhaps I've missed a calling of mine. One woman on Sat told me I was so warm and approachable. Really??? She was, of course, drinking when she said it....

I told Al my food service manager and he told me I could come to the VFW some night (Al is a veteran and all around nice fella and also works at the VFW Wed evenings) and bartend at Celebrity Bartending Night. The fact that I would qualify as a celebrity just for being Al's boss makes me think he's more of a big deal than I thought ;-)

Why is my Cat Pooping on The Floor?

SO why is my cat pooping on the floor???? We left her overnight last night and today she pooped all over the kitchen and my husband stepped in it. When I yelled at her and flicked her nose he told me not to. That it would just make her hate us more and want to poop more. WTF??? Is this true????  I can't deal with this attitude.

I think we may be Dog People......

Right now she's all curled up next to me in bed like nothing happened....
And she's chewing on a small stuffed German Shepard. She thinks she's very tough.

It's Fun To Play At The YMCA

We joined the Y this summer and it's been an awesome decision. They have some outdoor pools & spray parks and my girl has been taking swimming lessons -she just finished 2 weeks and starts 2 more weeks tomorrow. We like the wellness workout center and my daughter loves the child drop off at the one we go to most often. We paid a little extra for the passport which lets us go to any Y, and it's been worth it. Since it's been so hot we've gone swimming a lot in the outside pools. It always feels like vacation when we are there.

And speaking of heat....

We were without power for 15 hours last Thursday... Yes, the hottest day of the year here so far.... They kept telling us it would be 90 more minutes until we had power.... All night long. And like idiots, we kept believing them. At one point at 3 am there were a bunch of RG & E vehicles in front of my house. And I noticed some neighbors too. So I got a flashlight and freeze pop and joined them. One of my neighbors pulled up in her SUV, frantic from the heat. She complained to the RG& E guy for a while and then sped off into the night. Where was she going??? Later I thought I should have gone to Wegmans and done my grocery shopping....

Garden Report

My 7ft fortress has been breached and when we came back from an overnight at Keuka Lake today today much of my garden had been destroyed. The gate was closed and yet everything was eaten. All of the beans, and tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, peppers & even the morning glories. It's really disheartening. The broccoli, cabbage & potatoes were fine as was the basil. That's about it... I'm not even frustrated. I'm resigned....Ok, I am frustrated, I'm just trying not to let it bother me too much. I had a nice garlic harvest last weekend... Whatever..... I seriously dislike deer.... I swear, I'm moving to the middle of the suburbs to avoid this... Oh wait.... I already live there... I swear, how to real farmers deal with this cr@p????

I took some nice pictures a few days ago to post but  since it doesn't look like that anymore I'm just gonna sit here and sulk over it.

I'm seriously considering harvesting deer from the garden....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thought For The Day As I Approach 40.....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Observations on Gambling & I Still Travel On The Cheap

So this past week, my husband and I went to the Casino at Niagara Falls for an overnight. We don't gamble really. In truth, I am a very nervous gambler and it doesn't do much for my husband. We go because my grandma gets us a free corner suite with a jacuzzi tub and floor to cieling windows that look over the Niagara River.
We drive there early, stop at a winery along the way, take advantage of the nice pool/hot tub at the hoteland I sit in a deck chair on their patio and read a book while my husband excercises. I usually take a nap. My grandma and Bob pick up the tab for dinner. All in all, it's a pretty good way to have a nice overnight in a nice hotel-and it was especially nice when I didn't work and funds were tighter. We always bring some snacks for the room. This year I brought some 1803 Fat Ox Ale that I purcahsed from the museum so we didn't buy any drinks there and we bring yogurt for breakfast.

Every year we both took $20 after dinner for gambling and usually lost it withing 30 min. 

After dinner my husband decided he didn't want to gamble with his $20. He actually said something that really resonated with me. He said "Look around, NO ONE is smiling;" and he was pretty much, correct. Everywhere you looked people were staring at those machines, puching the buttons in an almost trance-like state. Some had drinks, some were smoking... NO ONE was smiling. No one looked like they were better off for the experience. NOT ONE PERSON. That pretty much killed it for me, not that I needed a lot of coaxing. He was right...I've never gotten a rush from gambling, but that description made me really think about it in a different manner. No one looked particularly excited even. I think if I'm just throwing my money out the window, the least I would want would be a thrill from doing it. I could not find a smile in the place. It was rather depressing.

We walked across the street to Starbucks where I got a Frappachino and used their free Wi-Fi to download a book in the series that I'm reading.  We used the jacuzzi tub and looked out the window at the night lights and drank Fat Ox Ale.

Turns out I'm still a cheap date.
How the weekend broke down. We did go shopping for food for the room beforehand and I didn't count that in the total of money spent.

$10 at Bruggers for my ALL TIME FAVORITE Everything Bagle with lox and coffee.
$50 at the Winery for 4 bottles of wine. They had a 3 for $30 reds sale that my husband liked and I picked a white I liked as well.
$5  Frappachino
$8 for a download to my nook
$5 for Tim Horton's Coffeee this morning
$32 for Lunch at The Waterstreet Landing in Lewiston today-While sitting by the river I noted that this was a way better way to spend $30 than throwing into a machine for a few minutes.
$18 for Olive Oil and Vinegar at D'Avolio in Lewiston-Ditto above.

$123 for a nice overnight, I still like a bargain!

At the Waterstreet Landing, they also havethe Wet Jet Boat Tours. Now the people that got off of those boats looked happy. They even clapped when their boat docked.  You could see the difference in the people and it was interesting to note that the ones on the boat looked like they just had a little energy knocked into them, while the ones at the gambling machines looked like the life was getting sucked out of them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Value Of Hard Work

So the Civil War almost killed me.

I worked at the museum this weekend for both days of the Civil War Re-enactment. 2 twelve hour days. My normal job entails sitting in an air conditioned building at a desk, walking around the museum a bit, typing on the computer and sometimes I get in the car and drive somewhere for a meeting about something. Most days I wear cute heels.

This weekend I wore sneakers. The 24 hours I spent this weekend entailed selling ice to the troops in the morning, driving the golf cart around and running food service stuff all over the museum grounds, delivering ice to food service locations, hauling growlers & bottles of beer, serving food, selling water & soda, hooking up kegs, bartending at the Freight House bar, etc, etc, etc.... To be fair, my boss, the CEO, sold ice with me in the mornings and worked a roast beef stand during the day. Everyone worked hard this weekend. There were people who put in more than 12 hours a day. I was no exception and no hero.  My food service staff fed 2500 people a day who seemed like they all wanted to eat between 1-2 pm and they did an awesome job. I'm feeling all proud of them tonight. I wish I could give them all a raise. Today I laid down for a few minutes that turned into 2 hours. I was exhausated when all was said and done.

Last night when I was talking to my mom on the phone I realized something. I told her that I could not remember another time in my life where I have worked 2 12 hour days doing physical work. I really don't think there is one. I mean, sure I've worked hard at work before, and I garden (but not for 12 hours at a time) and I can paint walls, and lots of other things. I have just never spent 12 hours ever doing any of those things. 

I supposed in many regards this makes me a lucky person. There are women in sweatshops who routinely work 12 hours days or longer and they don't have a golf cart to drive around in.  There are farmers and doctors who work on their feet all day long. The list goes on.  And while I may be lucky it made me feel a little ashamed saying that in my almost 40 years I cannot ever remember working this hard.   At the very least it makes me someone who hasn't always understood the value of manual labor-And I mean to the economy as well as to the soul.

Because it felt good to move 300 bags of ice. It really did. When it was done, it was done. A task completed. A job well done. (Now I really don't want to do it all again tomorrow honestly) but there is a certain satisfaction in stuff like that. In serving the public (most of them anyway.....) and in participating in a way that you don't normally.   It kind of felt like a summer camp version of my real job. Well maybe a work camp version of my real job. I liked it........

I'm ok going back to the air conditiong tomorrow though.

The Civil War reenactment itself was awesome! I've never seen it before. My boss and I remarked at how some of those men looked so much like they belonged there. The camps were so interesting and there were oer 800 people camped in the village between soldiers and civilians which transforms the village and give life to it in a big way. The cavalry charge and cannons were awesome to watch and  having never actually seen a live reneactment battle before, it was pretty thrilling!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

We're Jammin' -Strawberry Freezer Jam and a Surprise Jam!

This past week on my day off, we headed out to our favorite fruit picking spot-Burnaps Farm Market.  This palce is really beautiful and so much fun.

I was all excited to go and pick strawberries so that I could make some jam this week. Alas, when we got there it was 5 min to 1pm, and picking stops at 1-Who knew? If you pick the berries, they are $2 a quart but if you buy them they are $4. I was momentarily flummoxed... I wanted 8 quarts and I didn't really want to spend $32... Then, there, on a table in the front I saw "Berries for Jamming $15" That was 8 QUARTS FOR $15!!! So I ended up spending $1 LESS than if I picked them myself. These berries are RIPE!!! And we've been eating them all week long too-They are just fine for that. They are just very very ripe!

So we're Jammin'

First we made Freezer Jam. Now I've never made Freezer jam berfore. Freezing jam seems like, I don't know, jam..
 A long time ago they didn't have freezers...
Then I reminded myself that a long time ago they didn't have running water or heat and I pretty well like those things. Just try the damn jam...
I wish I could say that I used some old time freezer jam recipe, but I didn't. I used the recipe on the Ball Freezer Jam Pectin

Small aside, does anyone else love the new ball pectin in jars so you just measure out what you want?... It's cheaper in this large size too... LOVE IT!!

My girl did a lot of the work!!!

The thing about freezer jam that is differnt from canned jam, in that you don't cook the jam. It's just fresh strawberries, sugar and pectin... This results in really really fresh tasting jam. Like summer sunshine jam...
Now I understand Freezer Jam.

Very Proud of Our Jam!

Tonight I mixed it up a little. I planned on canning my jam so today I used my cuisinart (BEST MACHINE EVER that my mom picked up from her friend's Garage Sale for $15. I woudl pay full price for this machine in a heartbeat..) Anyway, I used my cuisinard to puree many cups of strawberries so I could make and can some jam in jars.

And I had a neat idea. I was thinking about how when things grow at the same time, they very often work together well.. So I was thinking. Mint. Strawberry mint would be nice... But maybe another time.


Strawberry Lavender Jam!!!!

I used a basic low sugar recipe and added lavender during the cooking. I took the stems out before canning. A few flower petals are in there though. Just a few.

This jam is really sophisticated. You can really taste the lavender. It's just so fabulous. Though I need to find something to put it on. This is not peanutbutter and jelly jam. This is jam for people who like to eat flowers. It tastes like you would imagine it smells. It's delicate and wonderful...

Here is an awesome Jam tutorial if you need one! It's really complete though may make jam look more complicated than it really it. This is all you need to know though!

My husband also got into the act with the berries today and made grilled pork chops with a balsamic strawberry/blueberry compote. Yum!..
And yes, those are snow peas....
They are still growing...
I think tomorrow I may pick some to freeze for a winter stir fry.