Tuesday, September 22, 2009

High Time for Pie Time

So last weekend was a blast--of activity. On Saturday, we headed to the Applejack Festival in Nebraska City, EVEN THOUGH we swore we'd never go to the orchards during Applejack Fest again since last year's experience was a hellfest. See, Nebraska City has a year-round population of, like, 10,000. A-Fest brings in 50-75,000 peeps. CITY IS NOT EQUIPPED TO HANDLE IT, and so you find yourself waiting in ridiculously long car lines when all you want to do is make a right-hand turn to get out and back on the road.

Plus, you have to scrap with all the other families who are trying to get the peak apples off the trees. Last year, Kiddo was four months old, and we were huffing and puffing, trying to push her stroller down the orchard paths, clogging up the main artery and watching the lithe young kiddies sprint by with bags full of apples. Our apple haul last year? A disappointing mix of bruised, wormholed Golden Delicious.

But we were PREPARED this year! We got up and out early so that we were at the orchard by 10am; Vee wore Kiddo in the Beco on his back, and I bore A BACKPACK on mine, and we dominated the orchard paths. Golden Delicious? ONLY AT THE END! In the meantime, I picked a peck of Empire, Jonagolds, and Fujis, and by the time we were leaving, the orchard was just starting to reach Applejack capacity.


See, I had to load up on apples, because on Sunday, we hosted our Annual (which is to say, SECOND YEAR IN A ROW) Chili Hoedown, and you know I had to serve up some homemade pies. I am a serious pie-baking fanatic. Was I always this way? Hell no. I looked, uh, forward to every Thanksgiving when my mama would bake apple pie, but DID IT OCCUR TO ME that I could be doing it myself?

Do you guys remember that VEE DOES ALL OF THE COOKING IN OUR HOUSE and I do the baking?

So, like I was saying, I am a pie-baking maniac, thanks to this book that My Best Friend got me as a wedding shower gift back in 06 called, simply and elegantly, "Pie." Yes, a dude writes it, and yes, a dude is the pie-baking master, and YES, THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING COOKBOOK EVER! Seriously, I found my calling when I found Ken Haedrich. God bless the man.

This year's chili hoedown dessert options were the Golden Delicious Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping or the Cider-Infused Apple Pie. But wait! But wait! This year, 2009, is the year that I have finally started making MY OWN PIE CRUST! It's embarrassingly easier than I thought it would be, especially since, cough, I make it with my KitchenAid mixer. I can't believe I waited this long and kept buying those sha-nasty HyVee-brand freezer pie crusts.

I am quite in the throes of my favorite season now. Today is, after all, THE FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF FALL, and the Kiddo and I are going to celebrate by going to a local orchard and picking some Cortlands, the apples I revere most of all and got a serious bend for when we were living in Michigan. OMFG, eat your damn Honeycrisps, I am CHOWING DOWN on the best pie apples ever.

What are you doing to celebrate fall?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Laboring on Labor Day

(no, I was not GIVING BIRTH. Good night.)

We had my parents (Gramma Goose and Grampa PhD) down to see us for Labor Day weekend. I baked a cherry almond coffeecake pie (coffeecake consistency, pie crust) and, in exchange, they helped put up the IKEA shelves we've been dragging our feet on installing, got a huge headstart on painting the den (AT LAST), and watched Kiddokabiddo on Saturday so that Vee and I could go on AN ALMOST-THREE-YEAR-ANNIVERSARY ADVENTURE to the middle of Nebraska.


DUDE, BECAUSE! Have you ever driven through Nebraska on I-80? If you haven't, then you need to, and if you have and only have trash-filled things to say about that drive, then YOU SUCK because the prairie, as Laura Bush/"Alice Blackwell" said in American Wife, "is quietly lovely, not preening with the need to have its attributes remarked on."

We got to go to the Archway Museum, which has been tempting us since 2002. It stretches ACROSS I-80!


Up the escalator and on til morning! You wear these little earphones the whole time and you're hearing voices of pioneers and letters and stuff while you look at the displays. It was great and WORTH THE WAIT!

That's how we do it on anniversaries, y'all: living and loving the prairie. We had to celebrate early since our actual anniversary is the day before MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING and we'll be busy, obviously, since I AM Honorable Woman and all.

We worked our faces off for the rest of the weekend with my 'rents and my arms were so insanely sore by Monday night since I was painting and painting and painting. Still putting the room back together, so I'll get a Home Show post up next week with what we did, but HOLY SNAKE, I have not been that sore since I had to carry Kiddo around all the time.

What did you do for Labor Day weekend? You know, since it was almost a week ago and all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thrifting and Sifting

I went estate-saling and garage-hopping last weekend, as has been my Saturday ritual for most of the summer, to pick up odds and ends and stuff for my etsy store.

YES, YES, we all know I can't really craft so hot, but I can LOCATE AMAZING ARTIFACTS AND SELL THEM TO YOU FOR CHEAP!

My etsy store (prairie ghost vintage) has been doing pretty well--I've still got a huge stash of vintage postcards left over from, ahem, my wedding (almost three years ago. Uhhhhhh...) that I'm selling off, and then there's always those THINGS that I find when thrift-shopping where I buy it because IT'S TOO GOOD TO LEAVE IN THE STORE, bring it home, and then feel immediately guilty for spending $3.27 on a set of coffee cups when our cabinet is overflowing.

So I started reselling them.

ANYWAY, when I was estate-saling earlier this summer, which is BY FAR the best way to go--all these oldsters in the old neighborhoods I would LOOOOOOOOVE to live in keep going to assisted living, or dying, and there is probably nothing I love more than wandering around through SOMEONE'S HOUSE, especially when it is loaded with old books and housewares and STUFF ON THE WALLS and, yep, vintage toys--I came across this beauty:

It was pretty skanky and dirty, but the stickers were all in great condition, and I had to buy it for Kiddo. Because I USED TO HAVE ONE!

So she can now store her little farm buddies in the hayloft (how freaking adorable is this? I want to die)

But the TRUE AND AMAZING best find was last weekend. I hit the road at 8:30am (you have to get MOVING early to get anything in this town--there is no point in being out after 10:30am unless it is Sunday and you are half-price-buying at what's left at the estate sales) and went to the first sale on my list, which was in this absolutely STUNNINGLY gorgeous neighborhood that I would die to live in--you know, where all the houses are huge and built in the early mid-century and the trees are mature and OOH! YES-AH!

I walked up the driveway and was delighted to see all the vintage kids' toys--like rocking horses, old stuffed animals, etc. When I say "vintage kids' toys," I am shamefully talking about toys from my youth. I am THAT OLD! So I was smiling to myself as I sifted through a stack of old kids' records (like Care Bears Christmas, Strawberry Shortcake Christmas) and I got really happy when I looked on the ground and saw this old, old toy record player that I KNOW, FOR A FACT, I used to have!

And right beside it was a carrel of old Disney 45s/books where you'd put the record on and read along--including one that made me mist up--THE RESCUERS. I used to spend HOURS staring at those pages and listening to the sad/scary (because, really, it was both. SO SAD!) music while hoping THIS TIME Medusa wouldn't make Penny go into the cave.

(Aside: it was mildly terrifying to see Medusa in the book because EEE-IKES, I have HAD her hair. HAD! HAD! NOT HAVE!)

There was only one other person browsing around, so I plopped down beside the stack and started looking at the records, and I noticed that there was also an old kids' plug-in record player beside it. Wow. I was moved by my childhood memories and so I told the garage sale owner that I remembered most of them from when I was a kid, and mentioned that I had a 15 month old daughter. She told me that she had a daughter around my age, and had her over last weekend to pick out whatever she wanted to keep, and this stuff was what she had rejected.

I asked the lady, "How much for the record player, the toy record player, and the kids' records (meaning the 45s, and meaning individually what was she asking for them, since none of them were marked with prices)?"

She said, "Mmm, how about $8 for them all?"

I was like WHOA! but I knew I only had $6 on me. So I said, "I've only got $6..." and was about to ask what she would sell me for $6, but she said "I CAN DO $6" and offered to help me CARRY IT TO THE CAR!

Basically dying, but as I went for the toy record player, real record player, and the carrel of 45s, SHE GRABS THE ENTIRE CARREL OF 33 1/3S AND BRINGS IT ALONG TOO, and IT DAWNS ON ME THAT I JUST GOT THOSE TOO!

I should have seriously called it a day after that, since I knew I wouldn't get any better deals. And I didn't. But LOOK AT WHAT KIDDO AND I GET TO PLAY WITH NOW!

Anyone in the mood for "Camptown Races?"