Monday, August 29, 2011

My Life As I Know It

So what's going on with you right now? Anything exciting? There's not a lot going on with me, but I'm bored and want to blog, so you're getting an update. :-P

My life is basically what it was while working at the Brooks... just without the working. I've been trying to get up at a decent time every day like a real human being, but it usually ends up being eleven. At least it's still AM? I've applied for a few jobs since I got home. I was really hopeful about a position at the Fulton in Lancaster, PA since I used contacts and networking, and threw a name around on my cover letter. I haven't heard back from them, though, other than an e-mail saying they received my application. It's the same deal with the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg, except I didn't even get the confirmation e-mail. The lady in charge told a friend to tell me to send in my resume, and then ignored me when I sent it. Thanks?

Oh, well. I still have enough money in the bank to be unemployed for another month (or two, if I'm stingy). The treatments and surgeries and meetings with doctors are starting up for my dad's cancer, so it's good that I'm home to run him around. Tomorrow, he's having a medi-port and feeding tube put in, and my niece is having an operation, so my sisters and I are going to sit at the hospital together. Maybe I'll be able to cross #25 off my 30 Things Before 30 list by the time we get through this?

What else have I been up to...? Oh! I'm finally working out regularly again. I was going to join the gym when I got home, but Gold's in Lewisburg is $45 a month. I think not. Then I was going to start P90 again, but I decided to make my own workout schedule. I've stuck with it for the most part, and if I miss a day, I double up the next. I'm pretty much just jogging/walking and building up my stamina and endurance. I'm also doing a new yoga every week, on Sundays and Thursdays. So far I've done "20 Minutes of Power", "Detox Yoga", and "Core Yoga". Next week is "Lunar Flow". I've lost a few pounds, and I feel awesome. If I end up losing a hundred pounds, maybe I'll publish my workout schedule and become the next big weight-loss guru! :-P

Other than sleeping, working out, and reading J.R. Ward's "Black Dagger Brotherhood" series like my life depends on it, I've been doing a lot of crocheting, a little cooking and baking, and a lot of movie-watching. I have a list of 59 movies that I own, that I've never seen. I buy $5 DVDs, or my dad used to bring home sample "screener" DVDs, and I never watched them. My list is down to 40, so I'm making progress. As for the crocheting - I decided that if I just get a stockpile of crocheted goods, I can open up an Etsy shop and stop looking for a real job. :-P At the very least, I can have Mom take in a sign to school and try to sell stuff to teachers. lol

As for the baking, last night I made chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies for snack time for my mom's students today.

I also made Pumpkin Spice Scones with Spiced Glaze. I had one last night with a cup of tea, and I had one this morning with a mug of Pumpkin Spice coffee. De. freakin. licious.

I will leave you with the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever come across. I've had it for awhile, and tried others, but this is by far the best. The cookies don't spread out too much, and they're not too moist or too crispy.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen

1/2 C. butter - softened
3/4 C. dark brown sugar
1/2 C. white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 bag chips (chocolate, peanut butter, whatever you want)
2 2/3 C. sifted flour

Blend butter, sugars, soda, powder, vanilla, and eggs until well-mixed. Stir in chips, THEN flour. Chill 15-30 minutes. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough onto greased cookie sheet. (Return dough to fridge when not using.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool on pans for a few minutes before moving to cooling racks.

Keeping the dough cold is important in making the cookies not spread out too much. Also, I love making these with chopped up Andes mints instead of chocolate chips!

Well, I guess I should find something to do until Dad's PET scan this afternoon. Maybe something like showering and eating would be a good idea. Leave comments to let me know what you all have been up to, and suggestions for things to keep me busy (or job opportunities if you happen to own a theatre and/or bakery and/or bookstore)!

P.S. If you don't know how to leave a comment or don't want to log in with Google or FB, go to the "Name/URL" option on the drop down list. You can just put your name, you don't have to fill in the website.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Seneca Lake Wineries - Part 2

*click on a pic to enlarge

So my last post was day one of my family trip to the wineries around Seneca Lake in NY. Day two started with a continental breakfast at the hotel. It wasn't anything fancy, but I had a pretty darn good bagel, and there were doughnuts, cereal, oatmeal, bananas, and coffee and juice. After breakfast, we checked out and went to a little park with a path around the lake. It was GORGEOUS, and I took about a million pictures.

It's my mom's favorite place in the world! We walked around for probably an hour, and made some seagull friends. We then embarked on the the journey down the other side of the lake, to 11 more wineries and a brewery.

Our first stop was Ventosa Winery. They were kind of big and overwhelming. We didn't taste there, just looked around the shop. We then hit the Three Brothers Wineries. This was by. far. my favorite. There were three wineries and a brewery, all together. Each winery had very different wines and atmospheres. The first, Stoney Lonesome Estates was kind of sophisticated and had dryer wines. They had a Gewurtz that I liked, but not even close to that $24 bottle the first day. The second winery at Three Brothers was Bagg Dare Wine Co. You had to go through a little path in the woods, with this at the entrance:

It's Louisiana bayou-themed. "Bagg Dare" is Louisiana-speak for "Back There". They had sweet wines with fun names like "Skirt Lifter", "Well Hung", and "69 Ways to Have Fun". Their mascot is a skeleton. I want to go back right now. Maybe they're hiring??

The last winery in the group was Passion Feet. Mom and I decided that if the three wineries represent the three brothers, this one is gay. It had wines with names like "Seduce Me", "90 Seconds of Heaven", and "Heart Pounding Crush". Connected to Passion Feet was the brewery - War Horse Brewing Co. They had some great beers - my favorite being the American Black Lager. It tasted like coffee. Hardcore. They also had the best root beer I've ever tasted. Ever.

So yeah, Three Brothers was by far my favorite thing ever. They had a "passport" you can get for $8 that lets you taste 5 wines at each winery, and all the beers and root beer at the brewery. It was fan. tastic.

After Three Brothers, we hit up Zugibe Vineyards. They were good. I got a Gewurztraminer there. It was floral and fruity, and as good as the $24 bottle, if not better. Wagner Vineyards was next, and they had a pretty awesome gift shop, but no really amazing wines. We were going to eat lunch at their restaurant, but they didn't really have anything Dad could eat, and the deck facing the lake was pretty much full, and who wants to eat inside with that view?!

Next up was Caywood Vineyards. They had free tastings, and the guy just went to town. I tried several "meh" wines, and a Madeira that'll put hair on your chest. Then. Then we tried their chocolate wine. Just by itself, it was amazingly delicious. But when he mixed it with the strawberry wine? It was a downright religious experience. For. real. I also got to try some champagnes which were awesome and bubbly.

After Caywood, we hit up Standing Stone Vineyards, and Penguin Bay Winery. I tasted at both, but nothing really reached out and grabbed me. Hazlitt was next. I'd had some of their wine before, that Mom and Dad brought home from their last trip. I got a "Bramble Berry" wine there. They also had a great gift shop. Our last stop was Red Newt Winery. They had some fantastic wines, and the people giving the tastings were super fun and friendly. I got a nifty hat here, and a bottle of Blue Newt wine.

By this time, it's after 4PM, and we realize we never ate lunch. Mom and I had been tasting wine and beer all day, and all we'd eaten was a bagel at 9AM. Yeah, we were petty much drunk. We decided that we should find some food, so we headed down to Watkins Glen at the bottom of the lake. (You should know that my Dad was driving, and had not been drinking. :-P) We first tried to eat at the marina, but they were between lunch and supper. After some debate/argument/walking, we got back in the car and went to Montage Italian Restaurant. It was pretty much super expensive, but deeeeelicious, and Dad actually managed to get half of his ravioli down. Oh, and the view from our table....

So it was an EXCELLENT two days, and an unforgettable experience. I'm glad we got to go before my dad starts all his surgeries and treatments. We're also now fully stocked up on wine. I have 27 bottles, and my parents have something like 50 bottles. Should get us through the winter. :-P

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seneca Lake Wineries - Part 1

So this past Monday and Tuesday my mom, dad, and I went to Seneca Lake in NY. It's one of the finger lakes, and is surrounded by wineries. Sur. round. ed. I decided to make this into two posts since we went for two days, and I took lots of pictures.

We hit 13 wineries and a brewery the first day, and 11 wineries and a brewery the second day. We came back with 27 full bottles of wine, 4 mini bottles of wine, and a mini bottle of champagne. That's right. You're jealous.

The first day, we left our house around 8:30AM. The GPS took us on some weird back ways, but we were in NY and at the first winery around 11:30AM. The first one we stopped at was Heron Hill Winery. They had an amazing Chardonnay - I think the best that I tasted the whole trip. I didn't get any pictures here since it wasn't very impressive, and they didn't have a view of the lake. We continued on to Hermann J. Weimer Winery. Here, I tasted my first Gewurztraminer. (Pronounced guh-vertz-truh-meen-er.) It. was. awesome. I tasted many throughout the trip, and none were anything like this one. You know when someone says a wine has "floral" qualities? Well, this one seriously did. It was like drinking roses. No joke. It was $24 a bottle, though, so I will have to go back after I hit the lottery.

Ashley Lynn Winery was next. It was kind of hick-ish. You tasted out of a disposable shot glass, and they only had fruit wines (apple, blueberry, cherry, etc.). They were very good, but I don't like too-sweet wine. They had a nice little gift shop, too. We got a few bottles there. I got an Apple-Cherry wine that was pretty magnificent. Fruit Yard Winery was down the street, and also had a lot of wines made from fruits other than grapes. I got an awesome Pear Wine there.

Up until this point, I hadn't taken any pictures because none of them were especially impressive buildings, and didn't have views of Seneca Lake. When we got to Glenora Winery, though, it was gorgeous.

Plus, they had these huge wine barrels all over, and this awesome wine bottle tree. I could totally make one of those. Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas. :-P Since we hadn't eaten all day and Mom and I were basically tipsy, we had lunch here. I had a Cuban Pork Sandwich. It may be the best thing I've ever eaten. It was huge, and smoky and sweet and a little spicy, served with homemade potato chips.... I would totally drive the three hours back up there just for that sandwich. We also got a tour of the winery here that lasted, like an hour. It was cool, but halfway through I was ready to be done.

After Glenora, we backtracked some and started back up to the top of the lake, since our hotel was in that direction. Our next stop was Miles Wine Cellar. This one also had a brewery. The building (which I'm very mad I didn't take a picture of for some reason) was this old plantation-looking mansion. They claim to be haunted, and say that the ghosts like sitting on the porch. I tasted a few great wines, two beers, and a wine slushie here. That's right. A wine slushy. Mmmmmmm. Miles also had a dock, and you can go right down to the lake.

We left Miles and hit Torrey Ridge Winery and the Earle Estates Meadery. I think I should have gotten some kind of amazing discount at Torrey Ridge. How many Torreys do they get? Come on.

Connected to Torrey Ridge is the Earle Estates Meadery. They make honey mead, and had an active beehive right in the tasting room.

After Torrey Ridge, we hit Seneca Shore Wine Cellars, Fox Run Vineyard, and Billsboro Winery. We tasted at some of these. Seneca Shores was a cool medieval-themed winery. None of these really stood out, though, and I didn't take pictures. We then went to White Springs Winery. I didn't take pictures here, but they had some awesome Sangria wines. Dad got a wine bottle accent light here, that I think he was nuts to pay $20 for. I've decided I'm going to learn how to make them. Some people may actually get these for Christmas if I buy the glass-cutting drill bits.

Our last stop for the day was Belhurst Castle Winery. I didn't actually taste here, because nothing really struck my fancy, and they were pretty high-end and pricey. I would love to stay in the castle some day (honeymoon??).

After we hit all the wineries for the day, we checked into our hotel in Geneva, NY - just a few minutes from the lake. It was decent (a Days Inn), and clean. They had a complimentary gym (that I didn't use) and continental breakfast. That night, we went to the Waterloo Outlets. It's this huge 100-store outlet mall in the middle of nowhere. I just got some gym shorts and a workout shirt because I had forgotten to pack pajamas.... The outlets closed at 9, and we headed back to the hotel. I didn't realize there was a 24-hour Coldstone right down the road, or we would have stopped there. :-P We went to bed early since it had been a very long day of getting drunk, and everyone was exhausted.

I'll post day two soon. This post was long enough, and the second day was just as eventful!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mmm, Casserole

So to keep me from going completely insane, I convinced my mom to let me make supper the other night. I needed to make something soft with no big bits of anything so my dad could swallow it. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer the other day, and he hasn't been able to swallow real food for a month now. I made a casserole that I had made in SC, but with some modifications.

I got this from a cookbook called "Favorite Recipes from Quilters". The recipe is called "Sue's Casserole", but I don't know who the heck Sue is, so I'm trying to come up with another name for it. I might just call it Noodle Casserole... or Torrey's Casserole... or something.

The recipe is:

1 lb. ground beef
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
3-8oz. cans tomato sauce
6oz. can tomato paste
4oz. cream cheese, softened
1 C. sour cream
8 oz. noodles
1 C. shredded cheese

1. Brown ground beef and drain off excess fat. Add garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, tomato sauce, and tomato paste to the beef. Mix well and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and let simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

2. Cook noodles and drain.

3. In a bowl, combine sour cream and cream cheese. Remove the meat sauce from heat and stir in the cream cheese mixture. Toss this mixture with the cooked noodles.

4. Pour contents into a large baking dish, and sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly.

I like this recipe because it's so versatile, and you can use whatever you have on hand. This time, I used spaghetti noodles, last time I used penne. It would be just as good with egg noodles, or anther kind of pasta. I also didn't have fresh garlic this time, so I just used garlic powder. I also let it cook longer - about 30 minutes, so it would be a little more set up.

I'm excited to make this again and experiment more with it. I think next time I'll add shredded cheese in with the sauce instead of just on top. My mom had the idea of doing it in layers with some sliced mozzarella.

It's a super easy recipe, and pretty fast. I think anyone who reads this should try it out, and let me know what modifications you make. I'm also open to suggestions for a new name for it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Me, Myself, and I

So I've been working on a project for the past month. I think it's a good topic for my 50th post!

Every night from July 14th through August 14th, I wrote something about myself in my notebook. Just a sentence, starting with "I...". Some things are deeper than others, and some nights it was difficult to come up with anything. Sometimes I knew what I was going to say before I even sat down to write it.

The idea was to learn something about myself. While I don't know that I came up with anything surprising or revealing, it's a pretty accurate list and portrait of who I am, so I thought I'd share.

I... collecting things.

...fall in love about twice a week. easily embarrassed. a hopeless romantic. pretty OCD. making people happy. a big baby. adventure.

...simultaneously love and hate change. antique/vintage things and thinking of bygone eras. a planner.

...hate bad drivers... but am one. such an introvert. stubborn. a loner.

...have a vivid imagination.

...will always be a kid.

...hate not accomplishing my goals. quiet moments just to think.

...have no self-control. incredibly lazy. a totally different person than I was 5 years ago. usually totally awkward.

...hate talking on the phone. completely not a "morning person".

...constantly and consciously overeat. making music.

...would never work again if I were independently wealthy. pillows and blankets, and feeling cozy and secure. unique names. (Sorry, future children.) not actually sure what to do with my life.

...have always wanted to write a book.

So there's me in a nutshell.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back in PA Partay

So Friday I had a few friends over for a welcome home party. That's right, I threw myself a welcome home party. What of it?

It's nice to be back home, leading a life of leisure. My only problem is that I don't get to cook and bake almost every day anymore. I'm sure I could, but I never want to disrupt my mom's plans for dinner, and I don't want to bake constantly because I don't have co-workers to share with anymore, and I've gained about 10 pounds since I moved home as it is. No. Really.

My party was a nice release for all the built-up culinary tension in me. I made Cheddar Potatoes, my Aunt Cathy's meatballs, Bongo-Bongo Dip, Cookies 'n' Cream Brownies, and a super awesome "Under the Sea" Cake. My mom made Deviled Eggs for me since hers are the best and I can never get mine exactly the same.

Awesome cake:

Delicious brownies:

We also had more alcohol than a typical bar. I tried very hard to get drunk, but I had eaten too much delicious food. :-p Some of us then camped out in tents, until the next morning when it started to rain, and we discovered our big tent leaked. I mean, it is something like twenty years old. You can't blame the thing.

So last Friday was super fun, and it was nice to catch up with everyone. I'm going to start cooking and baking more, especially when Mom gets back to school. She has co-workers I can bake things for! Although, I applied for a job today that I actually used networking to find out about. A friend of the brother of a friend told me I should apply for the House Manager position at the Fulton Theatre because he works there. With any luck, I could be moving to Lancaster soon! *fingers crossed*

I don't want my blog to fall by the wayside, so I'm ordering my PA Waterfalls book tonight or tomorrow. I'll have some more hiking blogs, and I'll start up with the culinary arts again. I've also got about 5 crochet projects going, so as I finish them, I'm sure I'll blog about it. I know my hundreds of readers need to be kept up to date! :-p

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chasing Waterfalls - Brasstown Falls

So the night before leaving South Carolina, I managed to make it to one last waterfall - Brasstown Falls. Which means... I made my goal of seeing 10 SC waterfalls! If/when I make it back to visit my Brooks buddies, maybe I'll take my pack and do another one. I was thinking I could after In the Heights, but Woody won't respond as to whether or not I can work, so it's not looking good.

So Thursday night after packing up all of my worldly possessions and loading up the truck, I headed out for this one last South Carolinian hike. It started out well... I got lost and ended up in Georgia. :-P I realized where I went wrong and finally made it to the trail head. The trail was nice and short and flat... until I got to the actual falls. There's a steep, rocky cliff that you have to fight your way down. As I climbed down as gracefully as possible, I realized that there were half a dozen people watching me. Apparently it's a popular spot.

The falls had three tiers. The first is where all the people were watching me look like an idiot.

They were nice and moved for me so I could get some people-less shots of the falls, though.

As I was about to head to the second tier, one of the guys came up to me and said that I probably didn't want to take the lower trail since there was a yellow jacket nest hidden somewhere and a couple of guys got stung about 20 times earlier. If that man ever reads this blog... thank you. lol

I opted to take the high road, as it were, and fought my way to the second tier of the falls. The "path" was steep, rocky, and exhausting. I made it to he second tier, though, and it was awwweeeesssooommmeeeee.

This is the first one I've seen that you could stand under like a shower. lol

There was a third tier, but I was tired and in the middle of moving, but here's a shot looking over the edge:

There were some more people down there swimming, and I didn't feel like fighting my way over more cliff while people watched me flail. lol

This was definitely one of my favorite series of falls, but I wish it had been more secluded. (Although the warning about the yellow jackets was nice!)

I'm excited to start getting out to see some PA waterfalls. I'm ordering this book from Amazon. I think it's the same person who wrote the SC Waterfalls guide I was using. My friends and I have also talked about going to Ricketts Glen State Park for a weekend and seeing the waterfalls there.

Seeing as this was my last SC waterfall for awhile, I had to get an awkward pic of me in front of it!

Monday, August 1, 2011


Well, I started this blog when I thought I was finally out in the world on my own for good. Turns out it only lasted a year. I'm back home in PA living with my parents. I am glad to be closer to my friends and family, but I miss having my own place already... and I've been home for 2 days!

I'm hoping I will get a job sooner rather than later, but I'm aiming for 3 months tops to be living at my parent's. I intend to make the most of my time here, and have a list of things to get done. Not the least of which is purging all the junk I've been hoarding. As it is, I have two huge garbage bags of clothes and shoes, and a box of stuff to get rid of... and that's just from cleaning out my closet. I'd kind of like to have a yard sale, but it's usually a lot of work and three days of getting up early... all to make about $15. I might end up just donating everything to a thrift store. Could I count that towards the charitable contributions on my 30 Things Before 30 list?? I vote yes. :-P

I am also trying to get involved in something while I'm home. I'm already doing the Milton Community Band concert in a couple of weeks, and might be acting as spot operator for the Community Theatre show at the end of the month. I'd also like sing in the Pops Concert in September. The last two are contingent on a certain someone answering my Facebook message, though (*cough*Russ*cough*).

Also on my list are finding some hiking trails around here, re-finishing this old vanity that we have in the basement, installing my mom's new shower surround, and some other odds and ends. I might as well make myself useful while I'm here. I want to make this (hopefully) brief period of unemployment productive, stimulating, and rewarding... all while still allowing myself to sleep till noon once in awhile!

Well, not that this was a filler post or anything, but hopefully I'll have something worthwhile to blog about soon. Oh! I totally made it to another waterfall before I left SC. That made 10 out of my goal of 10! So be on the lookout for a post about that last excursion!