Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chicago - Part 1

So last week, my friend Marcy and I took a trip to Chicago. There was no special occasion, we just had some money saved up and time to spare, so we decided to check out a new city.

I think it took about 11 hours to get there, but with the time change it was like it took 10! The only noteworthy event on the way was the first time we stopped for gas and my car didn't want to start again. It took about 10 minutes, but the engine eventually turned over. Oh, also Ohio is the widest state ever. PA took a few hours to get through, and Indiana took no time at all, but Ohio was never ending. The city actually wasn't terrible to drive in, but there was a detour and my GPS started to beep at me... like a car horn beep.... It may have freaked me out. I probably cried a little. :-P

We finally got to the hostel (yes hostel, not hotel), and I pulled up out front so we could check in. As soon as I put my car in park, it shut off. Like, I didn't turn it off... it just gave up. Trying not to think about it, we checked in, got a parking space and a map of the area, and went back to move the car. It didn't start. Like, for a long time it didn't start. It got so bad that I looked under the hood, shrugged at it, and tried again. After about half an hour, the engine turned over and we got it to the parking lot before it could die again. I decided not to think about it for the next few days, and just prayed it would start again when it came time to leave.

After all the car drama, we unloaded and found our room. The hostel was actually pretty amazing. Downstairs there were a bunch of couches and chairs to hang out in, some computers to use, a full kitchen, pool table, music room, grill, dining tables... I could totally live there. Even the elevator was awesome:

The pads on the floor had colored oil and water inside, so when you step on them, it swirls and smooshes around. They provided many minutes of in-elevator entertainment.

Our room was hostel-sized, but big enough for the two of us, and we splurged on one with a private half-bath. We just had to use the communal showers, which were still fairly private and pretty clean. Our room had this awesome mural on one wall:

After we got settled in, we found a bar. We went to Frank's. It was a sports bar, but they had decent, fairly cheap drinks. After... a few... we found this Mexican place that was open until 3AM, so I got some tacos and Marcy got a burrito. It was de. licious. We headed back fairly early since we were exhausted from 11 hours of driving after an early start.

I know this is a fairly short post, but I figured I'd do a post for each day, so Part 2 will be our first full day in the city!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Butter Festival

I meant to post this before I left for Chicago, but the internets weren't cooperating and I gave up. While I work on some posts about the Chicago trip, I'll post this one!

The Saturday before I left was New Columbia's Apple Butter Festival. I set up a stand to sell crocheted and baked goods. When I got up at 7AM, it was pouring, and I thought I wouldn't get to set up. It stopped a little before 8, though, so my mom and I ventured over.

There weren't a lot of people with stands. I don't know if that was all the people that signed up, or if some didn't show up because of the weather. It was kind of a shame, because it could be a nice little gathering. There were maybe 6 or 7 craft and baked good stands, including me; 4 food stands; a couple of games; a guy selling mums and fruit; and a junk stand/yard sale thing.

The wind was killer. At one point, it was so strong that it flipped one of my tables over, and the baked goods were only saved because my friend Sarah grabbed hold of the table! A couple of hours into it, it looked like rain again, so my mom went to my uncle's and got his EZ-Up tent, but we only had it up for a few hours since the wind kept trying to take it away.

I had quite a few crocheted items done - towels, dishcloths, hats, scarves, and snowflakes.

I also had half a dozen loaves of Peanut Butter Banana Bread and Chai-Spiced Bread, as well has two dozen Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies and S'more Rice Krispie Treats.

I didn't sell much crocheted stuff... just a few dishcloths and towels. My mom's friend bought a scarf the other day. If anyone would like to buy something, or see more pictures of stuff that I have left... or order something special for me to make, leave a comment or e-mail me!!

I sold almost all of the baked goods. I just had half of the Chai Bread loaves left, and half a dozen S'mores.

Overall, I feel like it was worth it. I had fun, despite the wind and the cold. I got to see some people I haven't seen in awhile, and I made a bit of a profit! If I'm around next year, I may go again, and maybe I'll look for more festivals to set up at!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chai Tea - Spiced Bread

Whew! It has been way too long since I last posted. I just haven't had the ambition. My life of leisure has turned into a life of slackery. Slackerness? Slackerosity? Laziness.

The hostel is booked for my trip to Chicago! Just one more week! I still have to decide on the show(s) I want to see and get those tickets. My friend Marcy is going with me, and since it's just the two of us, we splurged on a private room. We still have to use the communal shower, but we won't have to sleep with 7 strangers, and we have a private half-bath. I'm so excited! This week, I think I'll print out directions from the hostel, to all the places I want to go. That way if we can't find something, we'll at least know how to get there from where we're staying. The fat kid in me is most excited for deep dish pizza.

It's also just one more week until the Apple Butter Festival. I have about half the stuff made that I want to get done. I need to step it up this week. I'll do all the baking the day before. I want to do a minimum of 2 dozen S'mores and Whoopie Pies, and half a dozen each of the breads. If I happen to have more time and ingredients, I'll make more. Speaking of baking, I tried the Chai Tea-Spiced Bread. It's pretty much awesome. Oh, and there are no tea leaves in it... like my mom thought. There's prepared plain tea, and then the Chai tea taste comes from the cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Chai Tea-Spiced Bread

3/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. butter - softened
1/2 C. prepared tea
1/3 C. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

-Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease bottom only of a loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
-In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, until fluffy. On low speed, beat in tea, milk, vanilla, and eggs until combined. (The mixture will appear lumpy/curdled.) Stir in the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Spread the dough in the prepared pan.
-Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Do not underbake.) Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then loosen the sides and remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 C. powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, and 3 Tbsp. milk. Add more milk by the Tbsp., until the mixture is a spreadable glaze. (Do not add too much milk, it will be runny.) Spread glaze over the cooled bread, and sprinkle with extra cinnamon.