Forever Country

I grew up on country music. I even worked at a country radio station for a short period of time in (and right after) college. While it may not always be on my radio, it will forever have a special place in my heart.

For me, listening to country music has a very grounding effect. Spending the majority of my teenage years in West Virginia and being involved in the WV 4-H program, there is one song that means more to me than any other – “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself with an arm around a stranger as the entire room circles up to sway and sing along with this most famous of our state songs.

That moment you are family and friends with every single one in the room as John Denver sings words that pull at your heartstrings. “I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday. Country roads, take me home to the place where I belong: West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads.”

“Country Roads” resonates deeply with me at this particular time in my life. I find myself making a difficult choice; my work takes me across state lines, and the commute is taxing on my time, stress, and car. The fellow and I have started looking at houses in the same town as my job, and I believe that we will purchase there – just across my beloved state line.

While I’m excited about owning a home and getting our life established, having a place of my own (and a place to store wedding decorations), and of finally not facing the constant frustrations of crappy apartments and moving every year, it’s bittersweet. I love my state. I hate that I have to work outside of it, but now to move outside of it . . . It feels like a loss of self. That sentiment is something I’ve heard from others who have moved out-of-state, but what I’ve learned from those individuals is that no matter where we go, or where we find ourselves – West Virginia is always our home. Our hearts will always guide us back to the mountains, and the mountains will always welcome us home.

It amazes me how at every part of life certain things find us. While going through this process, all of my 4-H friends started posting links to this video. It’s a phenomenal collaboration of country artists in a mashup of some country classics. It entwines “I Will Always Love You” as well as “On the Road Again” with “Country Roads.” It was exactly what I needed.

 

It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus!

I know it’s not October yet, but I am so ready for Halloween. I broke out my dvd stash and watched Hocus Pocus over the weekend.

I don’t know why Sarah Jessica Parker gets such a bum rap. I think she’s the cutest. Her performance as the boy-crazy Sarah Sanderson is adorable.

Funny enough, for all my love of Disney, I didn’t watch Hocus Pocus until high school. If you’ve somehow missed out on this adorable Halloween classic, you need to check it out.

Speaking of Hocus Pocus, fall is also Renn Faire time! I’m not sure if I will make it out this year (Next week is Pirate weekend, and I really want to go, but it’s not looking good.), but a year or so ago I saw these lovely Sanderson Sister cosplayers at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. (If you know who they are, please let me know – I’d love to link over to them.)

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I also took advantage of the first crisp morning for an excuse to show off my shiny that just got back from being resized a mini-fall photo shoot. My fellow wasn’t around to be in the pictures that day.  I can’t wait to actually get our engagement photos taken!

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Nothing like tea and a good book!

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Color Pop Skillet

Fall is slowly creeping in. It’s still warm, but the mornings are crisp, and I’m ready for hot apple cider. While fall is coming, the last bits of summer are fading away including the end of most of the fresh garden produce.

A friend recently gave me a beautiful summer squash and I was so excited to use it! (The zucchini was purchased.)

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A staple meal in my tiny apartment is a veggie skillet. Usually I go for a spaghetti sauce-based meal, but for this one I went with just some seasonings.

Ingredients:

1 Yellow Squash
1 Zucchini
1 Large Onion
Grape Tomatoes
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Chop your zucchini and squash, slice the onion, and halve the grape tomatoes. Squash takes longer to cook than the rest of the veggies, so get those in your pan first! Add a little bit of olive oil and cook over  medium heat.

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Once the squash has softened, add in the zucchini and onion. Next add in some garlic. I used two heaping tablespoons of garlic, but that’s because I love garlic. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and a seasoned salt. Garlic-seasoned salt is the best. Now, the seasoned salt I used is from a phenomenal spice vendor from Pennsic (the SCA event I attend each summer). Don’t worry; the dish with just the ingredients listed above holds its own!

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Also, I was so excited to get this fox bowl! I wanted one last year, but the only one  in stock was cracked, and they never got more in. Now this one is in my cupboard!

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Pickle Party!

Sometimes you just don’t question where ideas come from. This was one of those times. A Facebook invite popped up from a friend for . . . a Pickle Party!

He provided the vinegar, liquids, and spices, and everyone brought their own jars and whatever they wanted to pickle.

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The Fellow and I ended up bringing mushrooms and green peppers since that was what I had in the fridge. We made an apple cider brine that I feel pretty confident will turn out yummy.

We quickly realized that having multiple pots of vinegar boiling in an enclosed space was probably not the best of ideas, but once we got the windows open and fans going, it cleared out. It was a lot of fun; everyone chatting and swapping ingredients, recipes, and ideas!

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Our host also made a special appetizer in advance – Koolickles. Yes, you read that right. Koolickles. Kool-Aid soaked pickles. Apparently, they are a delicacy from the Mississippi Delta region. They are a cherry, sweet, dill pickle infusion, and they are amazing!

Here’s the recipe from Taste of Home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar (32 ounces) whole dill pickles, undrained
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unsweetened Kool-Aid mix, flavor of your choice

Directions:

  1. Drain pickles, reserving juice. In a small bowl, combine the reserved juice, sugar ,and Kool-Aid, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Slice pickles; return to jar. Pour juice mixture over pickles. Discard any remaining juice. Cover and refrigerate for one week before serving. Store in the refrigerator up to two months. Yield: 3 cups

Try it; it’s interesting!

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Liquid Energy

Shhhh . . .  I’m cheating! I’m cheating on my tea with coffee that is.

I love my tea, and after 10:00 AM you’re more than likely to see a “Cuppa Rosie” (rhyming slang for tea – actually a really neat side language you should check out!) in my hand, but most mornings I need some java in my life.

I fully blame work for this addiction. I made it through college without drinking the stuff daily, but work has made it a necessity, and a convenient one, since I’m just two feet from the coffee pot.

Coffee gives me energy. I don’t know that I particularly like it; it’s not the same experience as tea (A blog post for another day will have to be the experience of “taking” tea.), but it does exactly what I need it to – wake me up and keep me moving.

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Check out these other fun graphics.

I’m kicking around coffee options for my tiny apartment. I currently drink instant coffee when I need a cup at home. Yes, coffee purists, go ahead with the loud, horrified gasps or spewing out a mouthful of coffee as you shriek in terror. Instant coffee. It works for me, and since I’m not a huge true “coffee person,” I throw some milk and flavor in there and I’m good – time to start my day.

Seriously though, so many people are sooooo insanely picky about their coffee. I’m pretty serious about my tea, but my rules are basically this: no Lipton tea (and even then there are exceptions if  I’m desperate for a cup), and I must have real milk (even almond milk works), but not coffee creamer. Two rules.

I think the most likely candidate for my coffee needs will end up being a small French press as I have my electric tea kettle already, and it can get tucked in a cabinet instead of living on my counter top, but we will see.

Please feel free to share thoughts or opinions!