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"We have nothing to offer each other, except a haven." — K. Nafziger

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Ornaments of joy

You may have your color-coordinated Christmas tree with classy ornaments. Not us. These are our favorites…

Continue reading “Ornaments of joy”

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April 7, 2014
Where old toilets go to die

Is football in decline?

Here we are: Superbowl Sunday. I’ve heard it described as the biggest day in sports for the United States. So what’s up with the SportsIllustrated.com homepage? Here’s a screenshot from this morning:

SI.com - Feb 2, 2014 @ 9 am ESTThe words ‘Super Bowl’ are mentioned twice, each at the very bottom of a section. (In the one case, ‘Super Bowl’ was even clipped in half.) You might also recognize that the various NFL awards are handed out on Super Bowl weekend: MVP, player of the year, rookie of the year, Hall of Fame enshrinement. (But then again, you might not know this if you aren’t a football fan.)

Instead, top billing goes to college basketball, and there is plenty of room for other stories, as well.

Could it be that football is in decline?

It’s ok with me – I’ve already watched the commercials online… including this one, that the NFL would prefer that you not see:

Derek’s Red Ribbon Marmalade!

(For when the best is just too much.)

Derek's red ribbon marmalade

Ordinary Spouse thought it would be funny to rename this blog or create a new Facebook page in honor of the pink grapefruit marmalade I entered in the Westmoreland County Fair. In a very respectable showing, my marmalade won the second-place red ribbon (out of two entrants).* And so she suggested the title, “Derek’s Red Ribbon Marmalade”, and the tagline, “For when the best is just too much”. I agreed it would be fun, but I couldn’t see myself putting in the effort to keep a Facebook page going (I have enough trouble with ‘High in the Alps‘), and I didn’t think that one red ribbon was sufficiently momentous to merit its own blog. So instead, you just get this blog post.

* In my defense, the judges were under no obligation to award me second place. I could have been third or fourth out of two entrants!

The fair was a really enjoyable family bonding time this year, and we’re already looking forward to the next one! We’ll try to improve on this year’s showing. 🙂

Our ribbons

Here comes the fair!

Westmoreland Fair Banner

The end of the summer is here, and the Westmoreland County Fair has arrived right on schedule!

Westmoreland County FairLast year, we visited the fair for the first time shortly after we moved. It was a whole bunch of fun, and we immediately started planning to get more involved this year. At the time, I thought that maybe I should make some marmalade (partly because there was so little competition).

Fast forward a few months… Frequent readers may remember that I worked on pink grapefruit marmalade back in December. Also, the girls got involved in 4-H, and started working on sewing, baking, gardening, and art projects. And Ordinary Spouse came out of fair-entry-retirement*, and decided to work on a few sewing and baking projects.


* Here is a major side note… Ordinary Spouse was a professional fair entrant as a child. Check out her ribbons from back then…

All of OS's fair ribbons!

I’m guessing that other 4-H members saw that she was entered in the same category and immediately ran up the white flag in surrender.

Ok… the major side note is done. 🙂


All of our work reached its culmination yesterday. We woke up early to put the finishing touches on a total of seventeen fair entries:

  • Ordinary Spouse – a dress, a loaf of bread, and cinnamon rolls
  • Oldest Daughter – a blouse/culottes outfit (2 entries), a watercolor painting, and blackberry jam
  • Middle Daughter – flower arrangements (3 entries), a multimedia painting, cornbread, and stuffed animals
  • Youngest Daughter – a flower arrangement, a painted wooden fish, and pumpkin muffins
  • o(m) – pink grapefruit marmalade

Some scenes from the day…

Coffee
Starting work on fair entries at 7 a.m. Get the coffee brewing!
Reading the rules
Oldest Daughter looks over the rules before putting finishing touches on her work
Kitchen counter
The kitchen is ready for baking
Dough
Get the dough rising!
Prepping the cinnamon rolls
Making cinnamon rolls. Note how they even get weighed.
Finished cinnamon rolls
Finished cinnamon rolls
Making pumkin muffins
Youngest Daughter making pumpkin muffins
Arranging flowers
Middle Daughter arranging flowers
Messy counter
By the end of the day, the kitchen was a mess

And here are the finished entries!

We had a four-hour window to drop things off yesterday afternoon…

Dropping off fair entries
The lines to submit fair entries

The judging happens this morning (I think), and we’ll go back to see how we did tonight when the fair officially opens. (Ordinary Spouse noted that there was only one other marmalade entered in my category, so maybe I have some hope!)

In the meantime, here are some things we can look forward to…

The midway
The midway – home of motion sickness
Fried food
Fried food heaven… or is it hell?

Stay tuned for more fair reporting!

How do you eat your Oreos?

Double Stuff OreosA package of Double-Stuff Oreos recently showed up in our kitchen.* My family knows that, in general, an unopened package is a safe package. However, once opened, things seem to disappear quickly.**

* They may have been a gift from my parents to their grandchildren, but around here I always impose what I call ‘the daddy tax’. Thanks.

** Blue Pom Wheat-fuls behave similarly. My family has gotten pretty smart about this stuff.

So I was keeping an eye on the package, and suddenly it went from unopened to this:

Personalized oreo ziploc bags!Each of us had a personalized ziplock bag of cookies! Which, of course, made me laugh…

Curses! I’ve been foiled!!

As for the eight Oreos in the bag labeled ‘Daddy’, they immediately became this:

Deci-hexa-stuff

If one cookie is a double-stuff, is this a deci-hexa-stuff?

Amazingly, I haven’t eaten it yet.

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