The Last Snow

It’s snowing. I can’t believe it, but it’s snowing. Last week I was running around in flip flops and now it’s snowing.

Hopefully, this will be the last snow of the winter. We grilled out one night in the warm weather and that made me so happy. I’d forgotten how much I love hanging out on the porch.

At work yesterday, the lady who is working on the Wellness Group and I decided we should lead by example and take a walk on our lunch break. It was great to get out of the building and move, feel the sun, and the breeze/ tornado level winds.

I’m slowly but surely getting the apartment more organized. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there. I reorganized the corner cabinets (both the base super susan and the corner wall cabinet). Those two cabinets are black holes. There is really no good way to organize them, but I think I’ve found something that works.

Pinterest usually knows best, so I drank the Kool-Aid and went to the Dollar Tree where I bought a bunch of storage bins. Some went in the super susan; some went in the TV stand that the fellow just updated for me, and some went into the new wire kitchen shelf! I hate open shelving, but sometimes it’s just necessary. I hate, hate, hate having all of my appliances stored on top of my cabinets. I don’t mind a few boxes on the end, but it just looked so cluttered with everything up there.

The kitchen is getting more functional, but I’m still working through the cupboards, so no pictures as of yet.

Know what I would love? To get a giant throw rug to cover up the hideous brown 80s shag carpet in the apartment. Everything. Is. Just. So. Brown. The carpet is brown, the cabinets, doors, tile, curtains, and dishes are all brown. If I could find a giant light or patterned rug that would cover my entire living area, that wasn’t exuberantly expensive, I’d be a happy girl.

St. Patrick’s Day has come and went and I wanted to share two things:

The first being these cute little candy treats I made for the Team. Any day I come in to chocolate on my desk is a good day for me, and it’s nearly twice as much fun to be the one handing out the candy!

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The second is a funny experience from our St. Paddy’s Day dinner.

The whole family got together to go eat at this little Irish pub. We waited to be seated in the pub portion of the building downstairs while a table cleared in the restaurant upstairs. It was a two-hour wait. The wait didn’t bother me much; I was waiting on the fellow to join us and catching up with my folks and watching the drunken happenings.

Once we were seated, I noticed that there were a couple of priests a few tables down. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen a priest in real life (we’re not Catholic), and I remarked on their presence. My mother looking over and spotting the collar asked, “Is that what you think they are?” Now, call me crazy, but the black shirt and collar seem to indicate clergy to me . I looked at her puzzled and asked, “Well, what else would the collar be for?” Her response: “Well, they could be another denomination.”

I wasn’t too convinced – call me crazy, but in an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m betting they aren’t Greek Orthodox.

We all had a good chuckle then tore into our delicious food. This place has the best food! I want to get just an entire loaf of their soda bread (which I believe I could actually do…. maybe I need to look into soda bread recipes…). The majority of the table got corned beef and cabbage, but I got a giant chicken breast sandwich.

As we ate, they had live music. This adorable little old man was playing the guitar and singing Celtic favorites.

So there we are in an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day just a few tables down from a couple of priests enjoying a good hearty meal and some classic Irish favorite songs, when the live entertainment breaks out into “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Ladies and Gentlemen – America.

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Gingerbread and Shamrocks

Have I mentioned that I’ve always been slightly obsessed with Ireland?

Someday I hope to visit and see the old ruins and castles, wander through little towns, stop and eat in pubs, and chat with the locals.

Granted, I’m American, which means that I most likely will actually be on super commercial tours and be generally annoying to the locals, but a gal can dream.

As a girl I was always told that I had ancestors that were from Ireland, but I was never able to trace the genealogy. A few summers ago, we dug into it a bit and we’re one missing link away from connecting our family to the high kings of Ireland (and hey, that’s close enough to royalty that I’m counting it).

Anyway, the love of Ireland means that I love St. Patrick’s Day. For our monthly pot luck I made a batch of warm spicy gingerbread cookies. For the majority of the cookies, I dipped them in melted white chocolate and it was delicious! I’m definitely tucking this one away for all kinds of occasions – Christmas especially! I can think of all sorts of different applications – using the chocolate to adhere festive sprinkles, bits of candy bars, all different types of cookies as well. It’s just so darn simple and pretty.

The circles with the clovers are the white chocolate dipped cookies. The other cut-out cookies are held together with icing. I made a grand total of three of the Celtic knots before I realized that without a cookie cutter I would be there all night. But they did look super neat!

I also made a beef pot pie with a Celtic knot crust. I don’t own a deep pie pan so I used a cake pan and it didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped. The thin edge didn’t support my crust and the crimped edge didn’t hold.

 

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Not quite as decorative as I had hoped but it sure was yummy!

Life has been very full these days. I’ve been working a lot of over time. I was promoted at work and I am very excited, but as I’m transitioning over I’m worried about my old slot.

I’m trying to get things set up for the girl moving over full-time to have all the resources she needs. Not that I won’t be just a few desks over, but I still worry about the sudden change and making sure everything goes smoothly. I’ve been working through lunch and trying to get to work a little earlier to get a few things together for her.

I’m also partnering with a lady at work to start an employee-based wellness support group, and I’ve been working on some documents for that. I hope that the group catches on as I feel that we can achieve so much and really help with the work/home/life balance.

On top of the new work things, I’m also trying to get the apartment more organized, and I’ve been getting up at 4:30-5:00 to work out. I can’t quite make myself go to the gym, but I have a few DVD work outs I’ve been trying. I lost 20 pounds last year, but I’ve gained about 5 back. It’s beginning to get me down so I’m trying to get myself back on a healthier path.

Throw in trying to keep up with friends, family and the fellow, and I’m a bit overwhelmed. But overall, everything is a positive and I’m so excited about what is in store!

Mountain Strong

What do you call 32 West Virginia beauty queens? Punchline: A full set of teeth.

That was the joke that was instantly told when a person I had just been introduced to asked where I was from, and I responded that I was from West Virginia.

I cannot fathom how someone could think that this was acceptable. To have such little regard for a person’s background, heritage, family or feelings – it astounded me. I was angry; my stomach clenched in knots, and all I wanted was to make this person see that what he had just done was not acceptable.

Unfortunately, the social situation we were in would not allow it, and I am much better at expressing my thoughts in writing than in the middle of hostility.

Let me explain what I feel about my state.

I feel love. I feel sadness, I feel hate,  I feel pity, I feel hope, and I feel the pull of home.

I feel love that is my youth; love that is my family homestead, and love for the mountains where I learned to drive and that speak to my soul. It is beauty and grace and a wild ruggedness that captivates and overwhelms. I love the history that runs as deep as the veins of coal through her hills. I love its gentle calm; its fierce rawness and its people. I love its festivals and fairs and pageants. I love its music and its heart. I love West Virginia.

I feel sadness that everyone cannot experience the joy that is my West Virginia. I am saddened at the disregard for its beauty by government and business. I feel sadness for its people who are under educated and isolated, but who are strong with such potential and who may never be helped. I am sad because they are among the last acceptable groups of people who can be publicly ridiculed -backwoods, redneck, toothless, feuding, hill folks sipping shine and kissing cousins, illiterate, inbred, strung out, banjo playing, accent-speaking Hillbilly – an “acceptable” joke.

I feel hate that I cannot protect my home. I hate the lack of jobs and options, and I hate the feeling of helplessness that haunts me. I hate the strip mining that cuts through the mountains and leaves its scars, and I hate the poverty that oppresses its people. I hate that when coal leaves so will so many of her citizens, and I hate that no one seems to care. I hate that we are so easily laughed at and ignored. I hate that our youth are looking outside of our boundaries for a solution, some type of answer, looking to shrug off the stereotype, to “correct” their accents and look forward to acceptance.

I feel pity that people are so small they cannot see the harm they are causing. I pity those who will never know the warmth of a small town; who won’t understand when they are waved at by a passing car or when a stranger smiles. I feel pity that the world will never know its swimming holes and small museums, nor the struggles of its small communities and the secrets it holds just around every mountain curve.

I am hopeful that West Virginia will grow and flourish. I feel hope that with each year there is another change, another chance. I hope that we can find our place and make our stand and to show what we can offer and what we can overcome. I hope that the world will understand and learn to appreciate my state and see our struggle and help us. I hope that our youth will come back to our hills to bring new life and ideas. I am hopeful that West Virginia will rise to the challenge and show the world who we are.

We are mothers and fathers, coal miners and farmers. We are 4-H and FFA; we are actors and musicians. We are scientists and engineers; we are politicians and businessmen. We are frontiersmen and civil rights activists; we are history and hope. This is our home and we are mountain strong.

 

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