Sunday, July 17, 2016

Church Festival Eve

Someday I will share photos of my church festival. Unfortunately every year I am so busy that I never get a chance to take any pictures!  This year was no exception. So I will again be sharing photos of Church Festival Eve. 

I was baking pies. Lots and Lots of pies. 

One of the features of our church festival is the BBQ Chicken dinner. We switched to a new bbq'er this year, young guys with a different method and recipe. It was a difficult decision with lots of thought and prayer and we will have to wait for our evaluation meeting to find out if we made the right choice. We have an "all-day" kitchen crew that makes roasters of green beans with bacon and onions and mashed potatoes and gravy to serve with the chicken (or ham in roasters if you don't like chicken). Other sides include roll and butter and a slice of HOMEMADE pie, as well as coffee, water or lemonade if you "eat-in". We do a pretty big carry out business, too. 


To start my pies, I gather the ingredients: a pound of flour, a can of shortening, a teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 cups of milk. I always pick up an extra roaster pan on sale after the holidays just to mix pie dough. 
Mix the 5 pound bag of flour with the teaspoon of salt. 

Next, cut in the WHOLE 3 pound can of shortening. As you can see, I use two pastry cutters, one in each hand, for this job (and it is a job to get it crumbly.)
Once it looks like this, you can mix your 3-31/2 cups of milk and 3 tablespoons of vinegar in a 4 cup measuring cup. Make a well in the middle of your dough and pour it in. I have no photo for this step because it is a horrible mess. The only way to mix it is with your hands. Just dig in and mix. It will be terribly sticky and all over your hands. You will know when it is mixed enough because it will come off your hands! Really, it will. 
The recipe says it makes 15 crusts. I always get way more. Just cover the counter with flour (you will need at least 2 more cups of flour than what came in your 5 pound bag) and pinch off two handfuls. After you roll a few, you will be able to judge how much dough you will need per crust. 
Because I was baking all my pies in the same day, I rolled each one, put it in an aluminum pie pan and layered them with waxed paper. It was in the 90's with 100% humidity the day I was baking (of course) so even with the air conditioner humming, my 425 degree oven kept things pretty warm. I kept the waiting crusts in the refrigerator, grabbing one out to fill, flipping the next one on top, cutting the slits and putting them on my PREHEATED metal cookie sheets to bake two at a time. I do have a confection oven, but they just seem to bake better on the regular setting. 
This year's pie count: 11  This year's cake count (for the cake walk): 6
The final count was 2 pumpkin, 1 peach, 4 blueberry and 4 cherry. 

We almost ran out of pie! We barely had enough for the 1700 Chicken halves, some of which are sold as quarters so I am not sure how many dinners that made. 

The little toothpick flags on top are designating flavor. I like to make it easier for the ladies in the pie room. 

If you are not a person who is going to bake 11 pies in one day, the crusts can be frozen unbaked, too. I suppose you could freeze them in the pie tins, but I just roll them between 2 layers of waxed paper and fold it in quarters and put them in a freezer bag. They keep several months and can work for chicken pot pies, too! 

I did speak to several women who asked about my shingles. When I told the first one (a former hospice nurse) I was on Lyrica, she asked me about my "Lyrica Brain" - the forgetfulness and general fogginess. I felt very vindicated. When working in the kitchen with my husband and sons in the after-dinner-clean-up-crew, two of the women had used Lyrica for nerve damage and were commiserating about the weight gain, feeling of drunkenness and general complaints. I feel fortunate that I have been able to reduce how much I am using it for the nerve pain. For the past two days I have not taken any during the day and am able to control the tingling with ibuprofen. I am still using it at night, but using less. I am hoping that maybe in a week or two I will be done with it! I have too much to do to deal with this brain fade! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

I am so excited to finally be able to go outdoors and do - well, do anything! I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday and I want to discuss reducing the pain medication I am on for the nerve pain in my hip and leg to see if I can get a little more clear headed. I still have a healing rash, but it much better than a painful, blistering shingles rash! 
My small town hosts an epic Fourth of July parade that is several hours long. If you are from a small town, you will know the kind of parade I mean. The first 20 minutes or so includes the Flag Bearers, The Veterans and every sheriff, police, fire department, fire volunteer and military vehicles in the county.  We all stand, and the guys remove their hats, and the children salute. I get teary eyed every year. 
Every youth group marches with a float or a decorated pick up truck or rides their bikes in matching t-shirts. Every politician or political hopeful has their own marching group of friends, relatives, bikes and strollers and carry baskets of handouts. All the vacation bible schools have floats, too. Some hand out frozen icees and another church hands out bottles of water. 
All the local communities have summer festivals complete with Queens and Princesses and the county fairs even have a few Kings. We wave and smile back to all the royalty because we used to royal parents ourselves! 
It will be the first time out for many of the middle school and high school bands, who have lost their "veterans" to graduation and have been busy practicing with the new guys. 
Several of the local businesses participate in the parade, too.  Last year featured a giant sneaker with a live band from a local bar, as well as pizza places, a local beer distributor (no, they don't throw free beers, just coasters and coozies), really any and every business you can think of. 
My personal favorite would be a tie between the Little Leaguers and the fifth grade DARE graduates. Both groups are between 8-12 years old and are on bicycles. The brave souls who gather them, line them up and travel the parade route with them deserve a special prize!
The end of the parade features local business again, this time with vehicles, semi trucks, work trucks and even a septic tank company's vehicle, complete with sound effects! 
I used to invite everyone back to my house after the parade for lunch. Last year my son and his wife bought a house with a great backyard with a view of the evenings firework celebration, so we all went there.  This year he has to work so we are going to my daughter and son-in-law's new house which features a pool. Of course I can't go swimming with shingles and I am just getting back on my feet anyway. It will probably be an early day for my husband and me.  

Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It is the Dawning of a New Day

The path to my faerie garden. 
I am so happy today. I am starting to feel like a new person! This is week 5 in my shingles battle and I feel like TODAY I have turned the corner. For the first time in 5 weeks I am wearing PANTS. Yes, pants. I would like to apologize for all those who saw me in church for the first Sunday in a month wearing an oversized blouse and knee length white pj pants that I pretending were capri pants. 
My husband suggested the aquarium stone after my first thought of pea gravel failed to showcase the faeries area. 
The rash was on my hip, the back of my leg and knee and my tailbone EVERYTHING hurt the rash from the OUTSIDE, from the sheet on my bed, to any clothing with a seam that was not t-shirt material, to the texture on furniture. It was fun times. 
This is the window across from the chair where I sat for the past month cushioned by bed pillows.
 I moved my bottle tree to this side of the house - can you find it?
Unfortunately on the INSIDE I am still suffering the nerve pain, finally controlled by medication which makes me feel merely drunk during the day for twelve hours when I take one pill and unconscious at night when I take two pills. I have tried not taking the one pill in the morning so I can drive safely, but the unspeakable pain returns by noon, so I will continue as is for now. I have refills until December, but am hoping that it doesn't take THAT  long to subside! 
This is what is in hiding my faerie garden. I know I am crazy, but I love the "overgrown" aspect of my gardens.
 I planted all these bushes myself about 10 years ago. 
MEANWHILE, I wore my pants outside and took pictures of my yard in the 75 degree temperatures that pushed those nasty 90 degree days with humidity somewhere over night. 
This is the path my husband put in while I was in my chair. The pieces of sandstone came from one of the houses he grew up in.  We had originally used them for a path behind our garage, probably 35 years ago. In our clay soil, they had sunk to China. He spent a lot of time digging them out for me. (Probably to get away from my whining!) 
There is a gentle breeze which is making today even better! After taking the photos, I came inside and started brewing some Sweet Peach Decaf Iced Tea. I purchased the leaves at a little hardware store in a nearby Amish "neighborhood" (a crossroad with a few stores in the vicinity). I bottle it in recycled Lipton bottles. This is the first time I have made tea since Memorial Day. I am so excited. 

I almost missed the blooming of my day lilies. My mother and I used to go for drives in the late 70's and dig them up by abandoned railroad tracks on country roads. We would carry shovels and park the kids, jump out, dig a clump and stow them in the trunk. These grow almost 5 feet tall and spread like crazy. The Blooming of the Day Lilies is one of my most favorite times of year! One of my other favorite features of my wild day lilies is that they are very lush and hide the weeds. They are the perfect planting! 


This is the walkway to my front porch. Originally I had planted day lilies along the foundation. They grew so large we could not use the sidewalk! We dug them out and laid that brick ourselves and still remain married! Now the lilies are spreading backward and jumping the sidewalk! I think we will have to re-locate some in the fall. 
I always wanted a clematis and had no luck. I picked this one up on a whim by the cash register at Lowe's. It is named "Polish Beauty" and my husband is polish, so . . . It loves the front of my house. We went through several trellis and this metal one is nailed to the house. 
And before I forget, one of our new trees! On our side of the sidewalk so the city can't cut it down. I believe it is a flowering pear. I was hoping for dogwood, but they were a little sad looking. 

Here are some relocated lilies on the side of our garage, joined by a little red one I picked up at a nursery. 
More along the fence in the play yard. 
And - a new oak tree! We lost many of our ash trees to the Emerald Ash Borer and need to replace our shade so that our 8 grandchildren have a safe place to play. 
View from the driveway to the house. Gosh I love these lilies!

Thanks for indulging my look at my yard. I have not felt well enough to go outside this summer and am so glad the lilies lingered long enough for me to enjoy them! 

AND I want to remind everyone aged 50 or older to please be sure to get your shingles vaccine. It is a painful and miserable disease. And I feel blessed that mine was located on the lower left side of my body. I have heard of the mother of a friend who contracted it on her face and had permanent blindness. A classmate has been battling shingles for almost a year, suffering from PHN, which is constant nerve pain, along with damage to her eye resulting in sensitivity to light.  Please get your shingles vaccine. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Month of June is for Brides!




Thank you to the Creative Country Mom for the inspiration for a June post! June is the month for brides and I have some special photos to share with you. 

The photo above is my beautiful mother on her wedding day. I have this dress in my closet. My daughters tried it on as teenagers and could not squeeze into it. Not only is the waist so tiny it is unbelievable, but the sleeves (which button all the way down) were so narrow they could not get their arms into them. 

My oldest daughter married in 2001 and wore this lovely gown. 
And last summer I had her five year old daughter's photo taken in the same gown!
Isn't she precious?

Then my second daughter was married in this gorgeous gown. 
And here is the Lovely Lydia wearing mama's gown and her fascinator while clutching her great great gramma's pearls (top photo, second from the left) that her mama wore at the wedding. 
Lydia's mama wants to take a photo of her wearing mama's gown every year. What a treasure!

And here is me - in my 1970's quiana knit glory. I let my daughters play dress up in my dress and it was dirty and stained. When I needed it for a fashion show, I wasn't sure it could be saved. I sprayed it with Shout, ran it through the washer and hung it dry. It was a good as new LOL. 
Weren't we adorable? 

Thanks for going with me on this trip down bridal memory lane!

Miss Merry