Monday, January 16, 2017

my trip to the pennsylvania farm show

On Monday, the accountant at work sent his typical bi-weekly email about payroll, only this week he added one extra line.  A reminder about the famous milkshakes at the farm show.

Last week was the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held in Harrisburg.  Thanks to a little research, I can tell you that it's the largest indoor agricultural show in the county, taking place on 24 acres and hosting 6000 animals.

I just so happened to be staying six miles from the farm show this week due to a work trip, and I decided to head over for a little agricultural experience on Wednesday night.  I don't usually go to things like this alone, but the previous two nights my evening activity had centered around walking around (and around, and around, and around) Target to get my steps in for a Fitbit challenge, and I think after a third night of that the employees would catch on to me.

After my meeting I made my way to the farm show complex, parked in an overflow lot about a mile away, and hopped on a school bus where the driver told us that they brought her in from two hours away for the week.  Then she said, "Ya'll here for the rodeo?"

Well yee-haw.

I walked in and was greeted by a sign for the cheese competition.

I've never felt more at home.  I wandered through the exhibit hall and saw competitive exhibits including but not limited to hay, straw, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, maple syrup, Christmas trees, mushrooms, and anything else that can be grown in Pennsylvania.  

From there I wandered past this bull and into the dairy cow barn.

I guess someone had tried to pet him on his head.

There were cows, everywhere.  Lying, standing, looking around.  And the more remarkable thing to me was that little kids, (from their farm, not just random little kids) were lying beside and around them, reading or taking naps or just relaxing.  And the cows were as calm as could be.

It was about this moment that I realized I'd made a rookie mistake.  I just wore a cute vest instead of a jacket because I made the foolish assumption that the entire show would be heated.  It was not.  Because cows and goats don't typically require a heavily regulated indoor temperature of 68 degrees like I do in January.

After I'd seen enough cows, I made my way to the goat barn.  I tried and tried to find a goat that wasn't completely goofy looking, but it was impossible.

As I watched this adorable baby goat (kid?) I heard a woman behind me say "excuse me," so I moved aside and glanced behind me.  And it's a good thing I got out of the way because the woman was walking with a giant bull.

The room next door was hosting the sheep to shawl contest, which is just what it sounds like.  They were shearing sheep and then making shawls, which makes a trip to the mall for a new sweater seem incredibly lazy.

I finally arrived at the promised land, the food court.  The room was the size of several football fields, and filled with food from all over Pennsylvania.  I ended up with a potato donut and a famous milkshake from the PA Dairymen's Association, one of over 100,000 sold during the week.

It exceeded expectations.

The antique tractor pull was going on next door so I decided to watch while I enjoyed my donut and shake.  I also got an education on competitive tractor pulling from the two old men sitting beside me.  I learned that Internationals are good, Farmalls are overrated, and that you can go out of bounds in a tractor pull.
I know this last thing because they kept yelling OUT OF BOUNDS!

After several heats of tractor pulling, I visited the horse barn, where I remembered my love of the Thoroughbred book series.  Did anyone else read them?  I spent about three years of my life wishing I was Ashley Griffin living at Townsend Acres with her very own horse named Wonder.  

There was  draft horse/mini horse challenge at 7:00 that I wanted to see, so I found the arena (right next to the mechanical bull, obviously), sat down, and George Strait was crooning Amarillo by Morning through the speakers.  I texted Matt then and there that we should buy a farm and move to the country.

The draft horse/mini horse challenge was just that.  I wanted to put that tiny horse in my pocket and take her home with me.  Her owner's name was Laura so she would have felt right at home.

The farm show closed at 9 and it was getting late, so I decided to hit the alpaca barn on my way out.

And I'm glad I did, because my life is better now that I've seen an alpaca wearing sunglasses.

I'll have to remember to buy some sunglasses for our own alpacas when we get our very own farm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

i guess you get what you pay for at the Target dollar spot

It's important to do what you love.  

Unless you love making signs, but are a terrible speller who lacks attention to detail.

In that case, do something else.

Monday, January 9, 2017

i have some thoughts on some things

In a stunning turn of events, the local weather forecasters barely made a peep about snow this weekend, and then on Saturday it ended up snowing all day long.  Matt ventured out in the morning to get a haircut and to buy the ingredients for a huge pot of spaghetti sauce (or as he would say, gravy) but other than that we hung out at home.  There's nothing like being home all day while it snows outside and a big pot of sauce simmers away.

On Sunday afternoon I braved the grocery store, which was twice as bad as usual because all of the typical Saturday shoppers (me) were there too.  For months I've boycotted the deli because the workers make something as simple as slicing half a pound of turkey seem like it's something as complex and time consuming as, let's say, brain surgery.  Also, the last time I ordered from the deli, my cheese looked like someone cut it with their toes WHILE DOING BRAIN SURGERY so I took a photo of it and emailed the store manager to complain.

And then the manager himself called and left me a voicemail.

Obviously I didn't call him back because what was I going to say?  The picture spoke for itself and also HOW DID I BECOME A PERSON WHO CALLS THE GROCERY STORE MANAGER TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE NEATNESS AND UNIFORMITY OF HER CHEESE SLICES?

Anyway, desperate times call for a pound of Cooper Sharp cheese, so I bit the bullet and took a number.  When it was my turn I ordered my pound of cheese, waited patiently, and then the the worker handed me a package with precisely one half a pound of cheese.

I told him I ordered a pound and he said, "Oh.  My bad."

Yes sir, your bad.  YOU HAD ONE JOB.

Anyway, when I got home I made the spur of the moment decision to empty out every single kitchen cabinet and drawer and reorganize.

We have a large kitchen that consists of 22 cabinets and 13 drawers.
(This is only half of it.  Also, how do you like that wood paneling?)

Needless to say, that was a decision I regretted the moment I emptied the final cabinet, but now everything is nice and neat and in a completely different place than it was 24 hours ago.  The timing wasn't the best because I left today for a 4 day business trip, so I hope Matt can find what he needs in there.

Before I hit the road today, I went to my parents' house today to check on Pearl while they were at work.  Two weeks ago, they brought home a calm, quiet, nervous little puppy.

And since then, you could say Pearl has turned into a bit of a wild woman.

I also had a Lean Cuisine for lunch at their house.  The directions on the box said to, "Place the flatbread on the revolutionary grilling tray."

Oh, so that's what we're calling cardboard boxes now, Lean Cuisine?  How fancy.

I got to my hotel around dinnertime tonight, so I ordered takeout from the Chili's right next door and went over to pick it up. Since I was only going to the pickup window, I wore a few pieces of apparel from my relaxation collection.

That's a fancy way of saying yoga pants and a hoodie.  I'm taking a page out of Lean Cuisine's book.

Unfortunately, there was a sign at the take out window that said, "Takeout customers - please see bartender."

Even more unfortunately, not only is tonight the first night of the Pennsylvania Farm Show which happens to be in this town, but also the college football championship.  The bar was packed with farmhands and sports fans.

The bartender asked my name and then went to get my order.  And when I say she came back with my bag of food, I don't mean a tiny, ladylike, there's-probably-a-small-salad-in-here-at-most bag.  I mean a Chili's SHOPPING BAG.

The container of food was huge.  For scale, here it is next to my laptop.

I think maybe tomorrow I'll just buy a Lean Cuisine and microwave it in my room.  With the revolutionary grilling tray.

While wearing my relaxation apparel.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Well, it's a new year, and around here we are walking New Year's stereotypes.  We've been drinking fruit and veggie smoothies for breakfast, systematically de-cluttering the house, going to bed earlier, and we joined a gym.

Actually Matt joined the gym but has granted me guest privileges, but he isn't starting until Monday.


Because why start a new workout routine today when you can start on Monday?

Anyway, the fizziest drink around here on New Year's Eve was the Akla Seltzer Plus Cold tablet Matt dropped in his water before dinner.  And then, he dramatically held up another tablet and said, "How much would you pay me to just eat this straight, without dissolving it in water?"

First of all, we share a bank account, so I would pay exactly zero dollars to watch Matt ingest an Alka Seltzer tablet.

Second of all, can you say wild partiers?

We did rally and had a fancy dinner and some fun snacks while we waited for 2017 to arrive.

On my last day of vacation, I met Stacy for coffee.  We hadn't seen each other in a while, so we caught up on all the goings-on and then before I knew it, we were talking about what grocery stores have the best prices on meat.

I guarantee you that's not the conversation we would have been having the morning after New Year's Eve 8 years ago.

My Christmas break ended with an unbelievable spring-like day, so I had no other option but to go for a long walk at my favorite place.

I hope to log a bunch more walks here in 2017.

When I'm not at the gym, of course.

Friday, December 30, 2016

it's (just past) christmastime in the city

On Wednesday morning I joined my mom and 21 year old Emily for a trip to the Big Apple.  I believe I've mentioned before that my own 21st birthday celebration also had a New York theme, and that theme was Long Island Iced Teas.

Emily's theme was the Museum of Modern Art.  She really wanted to see the original Starry Night painting by Vincent van Gogh because she is very sophisticated.

A local tour bus company offers day trips to NYC, so we hopped on the bus at 8:30 and were deposited in Times Square at quarter of eleven.  I sat beside Emily on the bus and as we got rolling on the New Jersey Turnpike, Emily pulled out a bag, a mirror, and began applying her makeup, most notably, mascara and eyeliner.

I'm here to tell you that I apply my eye makeup standing in my bathroom mirror in my stationary house, and I still get it all over my face on a not infrequent basis.  Emily applied it while sitting on a coach bus whizzing down the NJ Turnpike at 70 miles an hour and it was flawless.

Maybe I need to re-think my makeup strategy.  Perhaps Matt could drive me around in his old pick-up each morning so I can put on my eyeliner.

When we got to the city we wandered down 6th Ave for a bit past all the fancy business headquarters and to see if we could snag Emily an eligible and financially secure bachelor.  No luck in that department, but we did get our pictures next to these nutcrackers.

We ate lunch at Rosie O'Grady's, and after that made our way to the MOMA.  It was more crowded than we anticipated, but we made a beeline for the fifth floor and there it was, The Starry Night.

I'm no art aficionado, but I will say that the painting was absolutely beautiful in person.  The colors were so vibrant and if there hadn't been a security guard standing there and the consequence of a felony, I would've brought it home and hung it in my living room.

From there we wandered through a few more galleries and then my mom said what I had been thinking, which was "I'm not sure I understand why some of this is considered art."

The next gallery featured this particular larger than life piece of art that to my untrained eye looked like a bunch of crayon and pencil doodles.

People were ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and my mom whispered to us, "I threw away hundreds of pieces of paper that looked just like this when you kids were little."

Sounds like my siblings and I were prodigies whose calling was overlooked.

 After that, we unintentionally but happily walked right into a small cafe offering only one thing: a cup of pour over coffee for $4 flat, with cream and sugar if you so desired.  Nothing fancy and no frills.  We bought a few cups and sat in that fourth floor cafe looking out a wall of windows on the sculpture garden and the city and drank our coffee and chatted and it was lovely.  Not to get all sentimental but it's not lost on me that I enjoy my family so much (and they love me enough to invite me to a girl's day like this).

We walked through the sculpture garden on our way out of the museum, and this was the first sculpture we saw.

My mom gasped, and said "Oh no! That one fell over."

I lost it.  And then we left.

We went to see some other art in the form of diamonds at Tiffany's.  Tiffany's is right next to Trump Tower, so we had to go through a police checkpoint to get there.

 It was worth it though because Emily got a necklace, and my mom was told there are no prices on any item in Tiffany's because your heart needs to fall in love with it first, no matter the price.  My mom's heart fell in love with a pair of sunglasses that the saleswoman then informed her cost FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS, and that love affair ended quickly.

After that, we walked by the windows at Bergdorf Goodman's...

...down 5th Avenue...

...and through St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Mom and Em had been there before but I hadn't, so they sat in a pew while I walked around and to the small chapels behind the altar.  It was so beautiful I almost cried.

We snuck out a side door and made the terrible mistake of walking past Saks Fifth Avenue.  Listen, I am no NYC expert, but I've been several times, and I have never experienced it like this.  We literally could not walk.  It was shoulder to shoulder people, and we just got pushed along with the crowd.  It was impossible to turn back around, so we went with it, but it was a little scary and probably took 20 minutes to move one block.  Because the city was prepared for New Year's Eve, there were metal fences along the sidewalk, so you couldn't even cross the street.  As soon as found a break in the barrier, we crossed the street to Rockafeller Plaza to check out the tree, but since it was so crowded we viewed it from the periphery and kept moving.

This was out front of Saks.  You can see the heads of ALL THE PEOPLE.

We were home by 9 and exhausted but happy from such a fun day!

Yesterday I just hung around, and today my siblings and I exchanged gifts because my brother was in town.  Annabelle opened her gifts too, and may we all be as excited about presents as she was.

We did a sibling pollyanna this year for a change, and my brother had me.  He got me a scarf, a new set of colored pencils, and a giant coloring book of wilderness scenes.

I'm going to go start on it right now.

Maybe next year, we will be visiting one of my own pieces in the MOMA.


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