Monday, July 27, 2009

What it feels like to walk away

I hate housing hunting. I hate searching for SOMEONE to give us a pre-qualification for a home mortgage. I hate negotiating for hours and hours only to get nowhere and nothing. So, today we walked away. It could have been the perfect starter home and now...nada. It is so frustrating.

The End.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Oh, ho ho, my CSA is lovely!

I am ever so delighted by my CSA farm. Going there is always so much fun and it is really neat to know that all the proceeds are going to a really great cause. This week is week 7 out of 20ish and I am really starting to love the variety of organic goodness that we are getting.

CSA Week 7:
2 large walla walla sweet onions
1 1/2 lbs. Red Norland potatoes
2 beets, red and white
1/3 lb. Swiss chard
1 lb. beans, green and yellow wax
1/4 pint of mixed red raspberries and blueberries (it is a transition time; blueberries are going out and raspberries are coming in)
1 clove garlic
3 HUGE scallions (seriously! How do these things get so big?!)
2 cucumbers
1 eggplant
1 handful of basil

I love bringing home my share from the farm and trying to figure out what to do with it. Tonight I am going to make spaghetti with a pasta sauce made with tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, zucchini and onions, all organic and almost all local! Even the pasta is organic, now that I come to think about it. With the Swiss chard I think that I am going to take the advice of the farmer at the CSA and make a curry out of it and put it over rice.

Another great thing about the CSA, that I haven't really taken advantage of yet, is the Pick Your Own patch. There they have a variety of herbs and flowers that you can pick in moderation. This last week we had the choice of zinnias, snapdragons, basil, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and some others. I just haven't gotten the courage to go for it other than picking some mint for iced tea. Next week I think I will just have to go for it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg

I LOVE Colonial Williamsburg! It sounds very corny, but it is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. My parents were taking a vacation there the first week of July and we decided to join them for a few days. We really had a wonderful time, learned a lot and even had a few exciting adventures.

Adventure #1: Traveling with a baby that only wants to crawl/toddle everywhere is extremely difficult when all that is separating your child from precious antiques is a rope that can easily be crawled under. Oh my goodness! It was incredibly difficult to tour the houses with sweet Ravenna inserting her own commentary of modern parenting into our tours of the houses of Williamsburg.

One time it even got me into trouble, or rather, I got myself into trouble! The employees of Williamsburg take their jobs very seriously. When we were touring the Governor's Palace Ravenna got upset at being unable to move around on her own so I asked the tour guide if I could leave and he VERY willingly obliged. I was on the second floor at this time so down the staircase I went and stopped in the foyer below where I was met by a very upset footman. "You need to exit this way, M'am" he says to me. "But can't I just stay down here and look into these rooms?" "No, you need to exit this way," he replied getting more frustrated by the second. "Why can't I just stay right here?" I asked, because seriously, what on earth was I going to do with the guy watching me like a hawk? "You can't stay here because of all the antiques. You need to be with your tour." I then explained to him in very serious terms that I had to leave my group because of my daughter and that I would just wait here for my tour to return, at which point he realized that I wouldn't do what he asked and he gave up.

At the printer's: This guy was hilarious but nobody got his jokes but me and a few others. It really made a bit of an awkward situation but the guy took it in stride. The book binder was really funny as well, but in a really creepy way. He kept saying things like "we don't know who we were."

A lady blacksmith! You might be thinking that this wasn't very historical but I learned something new about women's history: women were employed in just about any profession and trade that you can think of. Seriously! Women basically did whatever their husbands or family's did, although very often women had their own trade along with their husbands. The head blacksmith at the shop pointed out that back then only the wealthy could afford for their wives to stay home. It wasn't until the Industrial Revolution that this changed.
In Yorktown with my parents!
The obligatory photo-op, and below, a video of me helping to make bricks

Williamsburg will always have a special place in my heart. Going there was such fun and I really hope to be able to go back again soon! Oh, and I got a really awesome gardening hat but it was STOLEN. I almost cried. More on that later.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Case of the Missing Praxis Scores

Moving is a messy business. Things get lost and often ruined; tears are shed, occasionally accompanied by a wailing and gnashing of teeth. Our recent move to Pennsylvania was one of these moves. The most valuable thing that went missing, however, was just a slip of paper: Andrew's Praxis test scores. This test is given to teachers to evaluate their ability to teach their subject. As arbitrary as that sounds, these scores are vital for a job application and Andrew's score report had vanished.

We searched everywhere we could think of, tearing apart the storage unit, digging through piles of Andrew's teaching papers but they were nowhere to be found. Prayer after prayer was said and yet, no answer was forthcoming. The next step was to just have the test administrator send another copy, right? Sure, if you want to wait three weeks and pay $40, which we didn't. So what did we do? We stalled.

Maybe it is in Andrew's electronic Placement File? Great idea! Uh, the site is down...still down...STILL not working. A week later it still wasn't working. Meanwhile, our stalling tactic had worked, Andrew had a job interview, but the school district was requesting that he bring his test scores with him to the interview. Drat! What now?

On the morning of the interview we were both a bundle of nerves. Andrew going to the interview without being fully prepared was weighing on both our minds. Just a few hours before the interview, I recalled that right before the move I had been making copies of the test for his PA Certification application. It seemed unlikely, but we both agreed that it couldn't hurt for Andrew to go back to the storage unit and look under the lid of our scanner. Amazingly, after a month of searching, the test had been there ALL ALONG! We were saved at the 11th hour by what we can only conclude was divine intervention!

Well, with confidence restored Andrew went to the job interview. Two grueling hours later he was offered the job. After much thought and prayer, he accepted. See? We told everyone that moving to Pennsylvania without a job wasn't crazy! This is just another example of how much our Father in Heaven loves and cares for us if we have faith and follow His will for us. We feel very blessed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Water Fun

I do realize that posting pictures of my daughter in her "natural state" is probably a faux-pas but I promise that all you will see is cuteness and nothing of an obscene nature.

As for this weeks CSA, everything was pretty much the same. I didn't get Greens this week because I have serious doubts as to whether or not I will ever develop a taste for them. The berries were fantastic, again, and we were also able to mix in a few red raspberries that had come in early. From our backyard garden this week we were able to harvest our first cucumbers and even more zucchini. Summer is wonderful!

Ever wonder what to do with fresh mint? It grows like a weed and yet, other than garnish, what do you do with it? My friend Shannon gave me a great recipe for a refreshing summer drink: heat a gallon of water to nearly boiling, throw in a heaping handful of fresh mint, remove from heat and let steep for at least 10 minutes (I did it for 30). Strain and refrigerate. You can add honey or sugar to sweeten. This reminds me of a mint julip so I will probably try to add some lime next time I drink it.

Here is a challenge: send me your favorite summer recipes using ONLY seasonal ingredients. It shouldn't be too hard but it will get you thinking about what produce is best to buy now.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kutztown Folk Festival

This picture says it all! Today we went to a celebration of all things Pennsylvania Dutch at the Kutztown Folk Festival in Kutztown, PA. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely was not struggling to maneuver a stroller through the huge masses of crowds that descended on Kutztown. The weather was decent and there seemed to be plenty to see, but the PEOPLE! There must have been something in the air today because it seemed like everyone was in a bad mood (except Nettie, of course). I actually saw strangers getting into shouting matches with each other on two separate occasions, and on our way to Kutztown Nettie got road-raged by some crazy lady.

On a happier note, though the food was expensive it was pretty tasty. Ravenna got her first taste of sasparilla and funnel cake, Andrew and Nettie sampled the Ox sand which, while Jon dug into a fresh apple dumpling. I also found some yummy maple sugar covered peanuts.

This is my souvenir from the day. There were lots of traditional crafts and really unique pieces, but those definitely exceeded my price range. I fell in love with this hand hammered recycled aluminum plate of the "Tree of Life." Pretty folksy don't you think?