Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Throwback: Top Five Things I Miss About Applefest (and Top Five Ideas We've Had for Making our Own)

 I wrote this two years ago, and if I wrote it today, mostly it would say the same things, with the addition that I would like to go see my dad's show. I doubt I will ever be ok with missing Applefest, though I do love our own little traditions now, and I bet lots of people feel this way. So here are my thoughts again...

I am feeling especially homesick this week, because it is Applefest back home this weekend. Franklin Applefest is a huge event in our town, and most FHS almuni go back for the weekend. We will never do that, because the Boy's family owns a restaurant downtown and my Dad is very often involved in the shows, so if we came home, no one would have time to hang out with us! So, this time of year I get pouty and start stating plans to move back as soon as possible.

So here are the things I miss most about Franklin Applefest every year:

1. The season- the air is crisp and cool, but most years it isn't too cold or too rainy (though those Applefests have definitely happened). The best part is that all the trees are starting to change color, so the whole area just looks beautiful. It is the BEST time of year to live in Pennsylvania. It's why fall is my favorite season, and I am pretty sure I am not the only one!

2. The Show! The Barrow Civic Theater always goes for a blockbuster at Applefest, so the show is often kind of "classic." I won't say they are all winners, but I love them when my Dad is directing. This year they are doing Oliver, and my Dad is the director, and everything I have heard is that the show is fantastic, so if you are in Western PA, buy tickets before they sell out (which they often do this weekend).
3. It's genuine and un-ironic weirdness- you get this a lot in the crafts. We have a shockingly large collection of Applefest seashells (The Pope, Elvis, the American Flag with Native Americans, etc.) The crafts every year go from sweet to just bizarre, but they aren't trying to be cool or weird or ironic. They are just awesome. Plus, very often when you walk around the parks, you will just happen upon something really odd. That is the insane beauty of living in a small town. Things are odd, without trying to be odd.
4. You see EVERYONE you know- This is a picture of me and my cousin Harrison from 5 years ago. This weekend, you can see Harrison with his band at Bossa Nova's on Saturday. Everyone comes back, and when you do, you can't go 5 feet without running into someone else you know. Of course, this is a mixed bag, especially if you are like me and you don't exactly love the small talk, but so often you get to see like 50 people you love in the same hour, and now I understand what a huge freaking blessing that is.
5.The Food- I am happy whenever I am in walking distance from some cotton candy. You could also get a great hot sausage sandwich. The Methodist Church also has a giant pancake breakfast, where you again see everyone you have ever known ever.

Ok, so we again are stuck here this year, so I am pulling out the old Applefest decorations and pushing the boy to buy the stuff I need for Apple Pie. So many of the things we just can't replicate- the crafts, the fall weather, and  seeing people we love. Those are all out (though we are serving at the church Saturday night, so we can look forward to seeing people who vaguely know who we are, oh joy). So I try to focus on the food, the weird representations of fall, and when we can we watch the movie version of the Applefest show. This is what I think works:

1. Apple Cinamon Pancakes- This is NOT what they serve in the basement of the Methodist Church, but it is what we have found works over the year. We make a regular batch of bisquick, just like they say on the box, then add less than a tablespoon of brown sugar and about 3 good shakes of cinnamon.

To make the apples, cut up whichever apple you choose (we usually start with something like granny apple, but for an apple like that you may have to add a little extra sugar). Peal, core, and slice the 5-6 apples, as if you are making an apple pie. Saute the apples with 3 tbs. of butter and a pinch of salt. Do this for 15 minutes, and add a bunch of cinammon, a 1/8 cup of sugar, and a 1/2 cup of water and have it simmer down til it is a consistency you like. If it doesn't seem right yet, throw in some more water and a pinch more sugar, and keep at it. Put on pancakes and enjoy!

2.  Drink apple cider! This may be the best part of our tradition, because it is so good. Even better now that I have given up juice.

3. Embrace our weird crafts and decor- Yep, we bring in little mini pumpkins and buy the weirdest fall/ halloween decorations we can find. I think now that I have the wall in the dining room, I might make some of my own weird crafts and hang them!

4. Hot sausage sandwiches- I am not sure I have any tricks to share on how to make these awesome, except that The Boy Puts the onions and peppers on the bottom of the sandwich so they don't fall all over the place.

5. Bring in fall-colored flowers- this may seem like a stupid thing, but here it is still way hot outside and it looks like July. You wouldn't even know it is fall. Bringing in some natural, but fall-shaded stuff. I am thinking I will try the apple candle-holders later this week. I will let you know how it goes!

3 Favorite Artists from Yesterday's Super Genoming

Yesterday, all I did was hang out on Artsy and try to get to a thousand artworks genomed (my monthly goal- I was around 200 short). I finally think I am figuring out how to step it up and get moving.
from womenspiritualpoetry.blogspot.com
1. Alyscia Cunningham's portraits of women of all ages- Gah, I love these. Please don't judge her off this kind of jank reproduction. This artist is still early in her career, but I think her work is both beautiful and really smart. Check it out.
from www.en.cas.uni-muenchen.de
2. George Kuettinger's (manipulated) panoramic landscapes- The artist takes photographs of landscapes over time and from different angles, then splices them together to make these gorgeous (but ultimately false) panoramic landscapes.

from www.re-title.com

from awesomeinsf.com

from badatsports.com
3. Michael Scoggins' oversized notes- The artist does huge scale versions of the kinds of materials I too made (when I was in third grade). The results are funny, but they also comment on American culture, what we represent to our children, and how we all learn to interact with each other.

Today's Inspiration- Fine Art Crafting

Today was the last day for this month's genoming, and I think it mostly went pretty well. One of the trends I really like to see, especially while I am missing painted seashells, quilts, and my Grammy's knitgoods, is Contemporary Crafting. I love artists like Florencia Walfish who quilt and embroider.

Florencia Walsh, Me Lo Dijo Mi Garganta ( My Throat told me), 2009, from www.gallerykrom.com

Monday, September 29, 2014

Remember- Wear Teal Tomorrow!

from http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/46/53/64/465364fb8d7d50711c9f0762dce0124b.jpg
Last week I wrote about my experience watching my Aunt keep at her fight against Ovarian cancer, and her daughter Shelly and I had a great conversation about how little attention and support this cancer gets. It has a REALLY high mortality rate and very little progress has been made in improving this number in almost 30 years. In other words, we need to do a better job raising awareness about this cancer for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month before everything turns Pink in October.

So, tomorrow we are doing one massive Teal-wearing Tuesday to make up for a lax September (but you know we will be back with a vengeance next fall!). Everyone can bring awareness to just how awful and undersupported this disease is tomorrow in 3 simple steps:

1. Wear Teal, because it is Tuesday!
2. Take a picture of yourself looking amazing!
3. Share the picture on Facebook, Instagram, and other cooler social media I don't know about.  With the picture, share one fact about Ovarian Cancer- it can be about the survival rate, the late detection, or even a story about your own experience (or love for someone who is fighting right now)!

If you don't want to be that kind of fancy, you could also just wear teal and then explain what you are doing when people shower you with compliments. I am just elated people want to get involved at all!

Thank you to everyone who has already shared the last post on this, and I can't wait to see some glamorous teal duds tomorrow!

6 Things for the Weekend- Seattle Date and Apple Week!

1. Surprise Date Day Downtown- Our plan was to go shop at our farmer's market, but it is in the University District, and there was a football game, so we decided to go to Pike's Market instead. It was kind of fun to land there spontaneously, though the whole place was popping because the weekend was nice. Still, we tried some new things there and landed at the famous gum wall while searching for a treat. We bought some really delicious apples there, though on closer inspection, I am pretty suspicious of how local or organic their produce is.

2. Creepy Birthing Bathtub Suites- We toured where the baby will be born, and I thought it would be really cool. It felt comforting that we chose the right place to have the baby, but the bathtub they showed us was so weird. Like a really old ladies bathroom being made into a very clinical spa or something. It has a weird energy I have definitely not seen before.

3. The leaves are changing- Trees are actually changing here! Not in our yard, but when we drive around, it actually looks like fall, which is a huge change from where we were.

4. This gutter- On Stewart (or Virginia? Not sure), you can see this down spout/ planter on your way back up from the market. No deep thoughts here, I just wanted to share a pretty thing.

5. Kicking off Apple Week with Flowers and Pie- God bless Seattle's flower sellers, because these dahlias are both amazing and cheap. I started putting up fall decorations yesterday, and the colors of these flowers just reminds me of the leaves on Pennsylvania trees this time of year. So I am excited to be celebrating the fall! We baked pie and made apple cucumber salad and grilled cheese with apple. Will do more food blogs later this week.

6. Our Apple Pie Recipe- Which incidentally I can only ever find on this blog, so I am repeating it here:


For filling:
7 Golden delicious apples
1/3 Cup sugar
A whole bunch of Cinammon, just crust those things
Two teensy slivers of butter on top

For Top Crust:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 TB cold unsalted butter
A whole bunch of Cinammon again

1.  Preheat the oven to 375. I have read all sorts of theories about turning the heat up or down on the pie, but I keep it simple.

For the bottom crust, I just use the frozen Pilsbury ones. I have never tried a real one, but my mom used to slave over them (they are apparently a real pain) and people liked the fake ones better or at least as well. So she gave up on them, and by the time I was learning from her, they worked. I kind of love them, and feel no shame telling you this. If you are going to have a dessert, guilty pleasure it all the way. Put it in the pie pan and fold over the edges.

2. Peel and slice the apples. If you like them crispier, keep them a little thicker, but I usually try to slice them very thin. pour in the cinnamon and sugar, but do the sugar in shifts so you don't over do it. Mix it up so the apples are coated and put them in the pie pan. Cut your little slivers (less that a 1/2 a table spoon and set them on top.

3. Mix the brown sugar, flour, and cinammon together. Then put little chunks of the cool butter in (again, pace yourself, and when the consistency looks right, just quit). When it looks like wet sand, your done! Pour and spread on top of your apples.

4. Put in the oven with tin foil around the crust for 15-20 minutes (we have one of those crust protector things, which really helps you not burn yourself- lots of recipes recommend putting this on at the end, but I find taking it off saves your fingers). Take it off at the 20 minute mark or so, sepending on how it looks. Then bake for another 35 minutes. Our oven was too hot, I think because of the pizza stone, so ours was done way early, but this timing usually works.

5. Let it cool for at least 45 minutes. Ideally, 2 hours, but we are all only human, and sometimes, you just have to eat the pie. Once you cut some pieces away, try to pour the goup out as much as you can. I try to imagine everything I am getting rid of is butter and fat, so then I can eat more pie. When I just have a normal crust pie, I do this straight out of the oven, but the strudel top won't hold on, so be careful!

Picture of the Week- Well, Hello Gross Seattle

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bumpwatch- Week 32

How Far Along: 32 weeks completed! Bumbo Baby is the size of a squash, but even more exciting, he seems to have found a more comfy spot for everyone involved, so I am pumped about that. Isn't it weird, when you think about it, that they spend up to 2 months hanging out upside down inside you before they come out? What kind of vampire bat is hanging from my rib cage? Also, for all the other advice you get to walk with a newborn or sing to a newborn because they are used to it, why is there no alternative parenting movement where you carry your baby upside down?

Best Moment of the Week: The Boy and I went to the birthing floor tour yesterday morning, and rather than coming out overwhelmed with our pre-parental laxness, I think we mostly felt pretty reassured by the whole thing. The rooms are super big, there is a one to one patient to nurse ratio, and they leave the baby with you the whole time as long as everyone is healthy. They even have big jacuzzi tubs, so it is like the most painful spa I could ever go to. It is weird to have an actual place to imagine now when I think about labor, and it made the whole thing feel real, but mostly in a good way. Afterwards, rather than panicking, we went on an impromptu date downtown, bought apples for apple week at Pike's Place Market and The Boy got me flowers. We also got fried clams and were almost attacked by seagulls (they are so gross). All in all, it was a good day!

Most Interesting Prego Quirk: Other pregos aren't that friendly! I was completely sure that one of the upsides of all these pregnancy classes would be meeting other people who were in the same boat. But so far, I have been totally shocked by how sour these people are. I mean, I get that no one wants to spend their Wednesday night learning about how to pick a baby doctor, but you did sign up for it. Why are they all so cranky? Where you think you are going to find a bunch of understanding, you find a lot of coldness or competitiveness ("I will be the expert of this class on baby doctors! I will get an A plus at asking questions!"). Maybe I have just been with the wrong people so far, but I have also noticed at Baby Yoga, mommas try to one up each other a little bit on the soreness. Everyone wants to be the first person ever to have a baby, and they want to have done it the best.

I Would Really Like Some: Home treats would be nice.  Also, I would like to be back inside my old self, so I can walk and lean over without the ooooph oooph noise. I mostly want to stop having to hear myself complain, because I am stuck with this whining all the time!
Bizarro Thing No One Warned me About:  After 31 straight weeks of eating everything in sight, being ready to eat again as soon as I finished the last thing, and generally just having the appetite of a grown woman and a baby elephant after a week of fasting, I suddenly just don't ever feel all that hungry. I am pretty sure that where the baby is landing just crunches up on my stomach in a way that I mostly feel full. I am sort of happy about this, because it is nice to not constantly be eating.

And The Boy?: Two baby classes left him feeling like we are way behind on the preparedness front, so he has stepped it up yet again. We added a bunch of doctor meet and greets to our schedule, so we have had lots of talk about family doctor versus pediatrician. It's kind of funny how much the decisions we make on parents are based solely on our experience as kids (so, we didn't die, so it must be fine, right?).

Looking Forward to: This week, I am looking forward to celebrating Applefest and the official start of fall in this house. Other than that, I am super excited for progress being made on the house and that's about it. We are settling into boring, and at least for now, I don't mind it.