Monday, October 9, 2017

It Was Grape!

Hey there, Friends.

So this past weekend I got to do something pretty cool. I got to go stomp some grapes at Benmarl Winery. My friend, we shall call her Gertie for anonymity, asked if I wanted to go. Who wouldn't want to go stomp some grapes if given the opportunity? Such a silly question! (You may recall Gertie being mentioned before, Friends, like in this post where she opted not play in the abandoned building and look for graffiti with me because she's responsible and stuff. She's my BFF although we tend to be polar opposites a lot of the time.)

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "grape stomping"? I know my brain went directly to this:

Admit it -- it looks pretty awesome

I was ready to link arms and dance around in the big vat of grapes with Gertie. Sadly, my dreams were crushed (ha!) when it turned out to be two smaller vats side by side. It has been pointed out to me -- several times now -- that this is probably to keep fools like myself from trying to recreate the above scene. Probably true. It was still cool.

The views from Benmarl are gorgeous!

Hello, Hudson Valley!

It also has some cool decor

We started out by tasting a few wines. Every time we go to a wine tasting some variation of this discussion occurs:

Gertie: I'm going to try the white wines. I love them!

Me: I'm going for red.

Gertie: I hate red wine.

Me: It's my fave. You're a freak.

After a few tastings, we went on a tour of the winery. It was really very interesting to see the behind-the-scenes process.

Grapes waiting to be separated and crushed.

Bottling machine

While we were in the room with the bottling machine we also got to hear about the process of how they make the wines. We even got to see them preparing the yest mixture for the fermentation process. You could hear the yeast working, and it kind of sounded like Rice Krispies in milk.

Then we got to go to the wine cellar and hear more about the history of Benmarl.

Barrels hard at work...well, rest.

More wine

I had no idea prior to going that it is the oldest vineyard in America. Since we were a small tour group, we got to go and see the old wine cellar as well. 

The guide said they aren't drinkable - probably mostly vinegar at this point.

Gertie was not nearly as thrilled as I was to be playing in the old wine cellar.

Gertie: Ugh. It's all musty in here.

Me: I know. Isn't it awesome?

Gertie: No, not really.

Me: I love it. It feels like there should be a secret tunnel, or catacombs or something hidden behind the shelves.

Gertie: You are so weird.

Bottles in the old wine cellar

Decor between the old cellar and the one they actually use

As we were finishing the tour and exiting back outside, we got to see the machines in action.

Gotta keep 'em separated

We went back to taste a couple more wines, and then we decided it was time to go stomp some grapes. We watched a couple of people go, and then two tweenage girls went right before us. The one was kind of uncertain about sticking her feet in there, and the other loudly exclaimed that it felt like walking on eyeballs.

Gertie: Eyeballs? Oh, God.

Me: What, you don't want to stomp on eyeballs? It'll be great!

Gertie: You are so weird.

And then it was our turn, and we got to stomp some grapes!

Why yes, those are my feet covered in grapes.

Honestly, it wasn't like squishing eyeballs....not that I ever have squished eyeballs, but you know what I mean. It was kind of like a mushy, juicy, foot massage.

And then a guy who was there taking pictures asked Gertie if he could shoot some video of her feet while she was stomping the grapes. She said yes, of course. She was dressed all cute in a skirt, with her pink pedicure. I had on jeans and my toenails are polished black. Not that you could tell under the grapes or anything, but there was a slight difference in style between the two of us. Maybe this will spark a new career for Gertie as a foot model! Ya never know. I'm kind of curious to see if they ever post the video. I was babbling away in the background about how much younger our feet were going to look after being submerged in all the antioxidants. I'm guessing they will probably edit my blathering out if they do use the footage somewhere.

After getting our feet hosed off and trying to remove the purpleness of it all, we decided to have a proper glass of wine instead of just a tasting.

I think we all know which glass is mine at this point

It was a really enjoyable time. I can cross "stomp grapes" off the bucket list now. If you ever have a chance to do it, you absolutely should! There really is no good way to explain what it feels like. 

I'm pretty sure my feet have now returned to normal color on the bottom. Not going to lie -- it took a couple days and some scrubbing to get all of the purple off. Still no reason not to do it though. How many people really look at the bottom of your feet on a daily basis anyways?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It's My Treasure Now

Hey, Friends.

This post has been in the making for a while. The story happened a few months ago at a thrift shop. I didn't write about at the time because I told myself I should wait until it was more "seasonally appropriate" to do so. Last night it hit me that now would be a pretty opportune time to do it, and so I went to bed all excited about my plan to finally write the story up this evening.

Friends, have you ever had an idea late at night that you think is brilliant, but come the morning you are second-guessing the wisdom of your late-night decision making? That has been my day -- arguing with myself about whether I should do this or not.

I find the story amusing, but I'm also a giant dork. There's really probably a very small audience who would even care about this. Then again, that's probably true about pretty much everything I post here. I might come off looking just a tad ridiculous, but I'm pretty sure sure that ship has already sailed. The most popular post I have ever written is the one about taking a shower with my shoe while fighting off my nemesis, the spider. Ridiculous has already been reached and exceeded. You all seem to keep reading and enjoying my posts, so I must be doing something right. I like to think it's because I'm an amusing, lovable dork. Please don't feel the need to clarify that if I am wrong.

Okay, enough babbling. On to the story! I'm calling it:

Thrift Store Treasure

Our story takes place back in early Spring. Winter was finally loosening its grip on the world, and everything was becoming a little more green. This is largely irrelevant, since the entirety of our story takes place in a thrift shop, but it helps to clarify the "seasonally appropriate" comment I made above. 

I was minding my own business, looking through the racks upon racks of clothes in the store.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I do remember being surprised by the large number of people that were in the store.  

So I was flipping through the rack of dresses in front of me, half looking at the stuff and half watching this woman three long racks away from me. I don't know what the hell she was doing, but it was a very involved process. She was very slowly flipping through each article of clothing, and most of the time she would just shake her head "no" after looking at each one. Occasionally she would lift a shirt up, lay it on top of the rack, and then bend down and examine every inch of it while running her hands over it. Maybe she was looking for imperfections or damage to the clothing -- I honestly have no idea. She had her own small rolling rack with garment bags on one end, and about 10 items on the other end that had passed her inspection. I'm guessing she either takes her clothing very seriously or she has her own store somewhere and was looking for deals to sell at a higher price later.

I fully admit to being a people-watcher. I had never seen anyone do this in a thrift store before, so I kept checking in on her progress as I browsed. It was kind of fascinating to see what got the okay and what was rejected.  

About 30 minutes later the magic moment happened. She was making such slow progress that I was now about 2 huge racks behind her. She flipped to this one shirt and quickly bypassed it as a t-shirt with writing on it. In that brief moment I caught a glimpse of part of the writing on the t-shirt.

Not possible!  The writing on that shirt cannot possibly say what I think I just saw. I kind of froze for a moment while my brain tried to process it. I realized that I had to go find that shirt and see what it said.  

I couldn't just run over there and shove this woman out of the way to get to the shirt in question. That would be incredibly rude. I decided to just play it cool. She flipped by that t-shirt pretty fast. I probably read it wrong. I would summon up whatever amount of chill I possessed and try to remember where it was. No need to draw attention to the treasure I may or may not have accidentally spotted. I'd just keep doing what I was doing, lollygagging and working my way through the racks. I'll get there eventually. Besides, what were the chances that anyone else in the store would care about that one particular shirt?

I will admit that my dawdling started moving at a slightly brisker pace. Any browsing was just my sad attempt at acting like I was paying the slightest bit of attention to what was in front of me. I was keeping my eyes pretty much glued to that t-shirt until I reached that rack.

One rack. One rack away from my potential treasure, and these two older women were standing right in front of the t-shirt. They were chatting away, idly flipping through the shirts. The one woman looked at my shirt and just kept her hand on it while they continued talking.

This could not be happening! I didn't even know if I really saw what I thought I saw, but they absolutely could not take that shirt before I got there. Damn my stupid dawdling!

I will admit to resorting to an attempt at mental telepathy at that point.  *Move away from the shirt. You do not want that shirt. Keep going. Ease on down the aisle and step away from the shirt.*

Now, I'm not even going to suggest that my mental powers had anything to do with it, but they did eventually move on without the shirt. It's far more likely that they just happened to be standing there when they got to a particularly juicy bit of gossip. The shirt was still there, and I didn't really care why they moved.

All pretense at chill disappeared at that point. I had almost lost my potentially-precious shirt once. I made a beeline for that thing as soon as they left the area.

I got to the rack and started flipping through the shirts. I had not counted on there being quite so many white t-shirts with writing on them in that general area. After flipping through like 20 other shirts, I finally found it actually said what I thought it did!

Why yes, this would be the shirt at the center of our story.

Not to be too blunt, but I was totally fucking amazed at what I had just found. I was 99% sure I had completely misread that thing from a distance. Now, I'm sure there is more than one person in the world with that name, but there's only one that I can think of off the top of my head.

  • How does this even exist? Who made this thing and where did it come from?
  • How in the hell did it end up in a thrift store in Poughkeepsie?

At that point my inner teenage fangirl took over, Friends. Clearly, none of these people understood the treasure that had fallen into their hands. It needed to belong to someone who would appreciate it. The fact that I spotted it from across the store was clearly a sign. Fate, destiny, kismet -- call it whatever you wish. My inner fangirl declared that it was my sacred duty to buy the thing and give it a good home.

But first I had to check the price. Not to poo-poo the sacred duty and all, but I was working with a budget here. Where the heck is a price guide when you need one? I had seen one at some point, but my brain had turned to mush and I had no idea what price was reflected by a green dot sticker.

Turned out, green dot = $2.

Sacred duty shall be fulfilled! (Sacred duty was also a lot less expensive than I thought it would be.)

Sacred duty also did not involve bothering to check the size of my new-found treasure before purchasing it. I could wear this thing as a dress. That is why you are looking at a picture of it on a hanger and not on me. I'm sure it will make for totally comfy pjs closer to Christmas. 

And that, Friends, is my story.  

You're probably wondering how this is "seasonally appropriate" right now. You might be wondering a lot of other things as well, but I'm just going to address the first statement. 

Yes, I am well aware that it is September and Christmas is still months away. I have not totally lost touch with reality. I have decided that it is "seasonally appropriate" because Logan Henderson  -- the name on the shirt -- has a birthday tomorrow, and is releasing a new song on Friday. (His birthday might actually be today by the time I finish writing this, proofreading it, editing it. You get my point.) There is a thought process behind all of this. It's birthday season, in case that wasn't clear.

On the off-chance that Logan ever actually sees this and reads it...

Hi Logan.

We've never met. You don't know me, and I don't know you. I follow you on Twitter and I dig your music. BTR was great, but I really love the music you are making on your own and can't wait to hear more of it. I'm not a creepy stalker, I swear! I've seen countless posts in the last couple of days about your upcoming birthday, so I thought I'd share this story as a little gift.

Unless you hate it. Then we can both just agree to pretend like this never happened and go on with our lives. You can make music, I'll buy it and listen to it, and sometimes I'll reply to you on Twitter.

Are we cool?  Hope so.

Happy Birthday!

@tammyshampoo on Twitter

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Let's Talk About Texas

Hey, Friends.

Last week I had thought of writing up a big post about Texas. I chose not to do so at that time. The impact and the scale of the storm just seemed to get worse every time I saw the news. I didn't feel it was appropriate to share my ramblings here when so many people had lost so much.

I don't know that now is a particularly "better" time to do so with Hurricane Irma headed to Florida and already having devastated some islands.  It is what it is.

As I've mentioned, my brother lives in Corpus Christi, out on Padre Island.  He and his family are fine, thankfully, as they were away at the time Harvey hit.  They were lucky to only suffer minimal damage at their home from the storm.

Port Aransas wasn't so lucky.  13 miles.  That's the difference from the minimal damage my brother got, and the people of Port A.  I love Port Aransas!  I visit  every time I am down there. My heart goes out to the people who lost their homes and their livelihoods.  I can't even imagine what it is like to go home and see nothing recognizable left.

Even scarier?  This is even closer to my brother and his family.  It's owned by the family of one of my niece's friends.

And then the flooding in Houston!  It was like the storm was hell-bent on making sure everyone knew just how many different kinds of damage and horror it could cause.

I know many of you have already donated to a charity to help the people who lost loved ones, their homes, and/or their livelihoods.  Thank you for doing so -- from the bottom of my heart.

Maybe you haven't donated yet.  Maybe you just don't have the money.  That's totally understandable. It doesn't make you a bad person or heartless.  Everyone has their own circumstances to consider. Maybe you plan to donate in the future and just can't swing it yet. That's fine too. There have been fires in L.A. (still burning actually, about 80% out last I saw), and Hurricane Irma is on a path of destruction as we speak.  Lots of people, all over the place, are going to need to help.  Choose an international charity if you wish.  I'm sure the people in Mumbai could use your help as well.

Maybe you want to help, you want to donate, but you just don't know what to do. There's been a lot of conflicting and (in some cases) misleading information floating around online in the last week as to which charities are "good". Go with whichever one makes you happy. Personally, I think it takes a special kind of asshole to berate someone online for where they chose to make a donation to help other people. But that's just me. It's seems to have become a constant thing in the last week.

If you have a little extra money, let me share this: Laguna Little League

That's a link to the fundraiser for my nephew's little league in Corpus Christi.  Their fields got destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. As you can imagine, baseball fields are kind of low on the priority list with all of the damage that happened in the area.

I'm not saying baseball is more important than people.  By all means, please give as generously and as often as you can to help the people who have lost everything!  As covered above, a lot of people need help.  Consider this an option being offered.  It might just seem like a baseball field, but it could help bring back a sense of normalcy for some kids in Texas.

Let's try to end this on a positive note, shall we?  I went back through my pictures from various trips to Texas over the years.  These are some of my favorites.

My brother and sister-in-law got married on the beach in Port Aransas

Sandcastles on the beach on Padre Island

Schlitterbahn when it was still under construction

Pelicans at the National Seashore

Bob Hall Pier as seen from Mikel May's

Moby Dick's in Port Aransas

View from the tower in the park in Port Aransas

Palm trees at sunset

 While waiting for the ferry in Port Aransas

The National Seashore

 Taking a stroll with my brother

This is one of my favorite parade floats ever!

I'm not big on "selfies", but here you go, for those curious souls amongst you.  From the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Corpus last year.  This was taken after we had left, so the makeup is looking a bit rough.  No judging.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer and Books

Hey, Friends.

Remember way back at the beginning of the summer when I talked about doing a summer reading program for adults?  No, probably not.  Just trying to keep up with the news is enough to boggle the brain at times.  If you want a refresher, you can read all about it here.

Sadly, the summer is almost over now.  School will be starting again here in a couple more weeks. Last night we had our party to celebrate the end of the summer reading program for adults and give out the prizes.

I chose some fabulous pink flamingo decor.

Rather than bore you all to tears with way too many details about it all, I'll just say it rocked.  Everyone made ice cream sundaes and chatted about books, and some lucky people won some pretty sweet prizes!

Being me, I had to complete the challenge even if I couldn't win any of the prizes.  I mean, it would be pretty sad if the staff running the program didn't do what we were asking all of the patrons to do, right?  Lead by example and all that jazz.

I will confess to using my own "quick and dirty" method to hit all of the categories in the challenge. Totally fair since I did announce to everyone at the launch party that it was possible.  I don't know that anyone else chose to go that route.  Doesn't really matter since my only prizes were the enjoyment of reading and getting to have ice cream for dinner.  (Hey -- you work until 9 pm and you can eat ice cream for dinner as well.  No judging.)

At the launch party everyone had been given a little notebook to keep track of the books they read, what categories that filled, and any notes they wished to make about whether they liked the book or not, any random thoughts the books brought to mind, etc.  

I chose to write down a snippet from each book that I really enjoyed.  There isn't any specific criteria for it when I choose them.  Some might have struck an emotional cord with me, or were amusing. Maybe I just liked the language and that particular phrase stood out.  There wasn't a set theme is the point I'm trying to make.  I've saved snippets from books for years -- I have notebooks filled with them.  If you've been hanging around long enough you might recall that I have shared some of them with you before:  Snippets.

So, I'm going to provide a link to Amazon for each of the books mentioned.  I feel the need to clarify the following, Friends:

I am not partnered/affiliated with Amazon or in any way making money from this.  I get absolutely nothing out of it if you should choose to buy a book.  I'm simply providing a link to the book for those who are unfamiliar with the title and want to read more about it.  If you are really interested in reading a title, I encourage you to go to your local library and check it out for free, or buy it from a local book store.  Hell, buy it at a garage sale for all I care.  The link is just for your information, not to sell you anything.

Are we all clear on that, kids?  Excellent.  Now on to the book snippets.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

"The pause makes you think the song will end.  And then the song isn't really over, so you're relieved.  But then the song does actually end, because every song ends, obviously, and THAT. TIME. THE. END. IS. FOR.REAL."

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the Mustn'ts

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

"He said he didn't know: on one level, his heart believed that he should help as many people as possible, which was exactly what he was doing now.  But another part of his heart really wanted to see where this music thing might go if he put everything he had into it.  Couldn't your heart tell you more than one thing?  If you were truly confused about something, which he was right now, wouldn't that mean your heart was, too?"

"Perception is reality, and reality is whatever I decide it to be."

"This town is a sinkhole of leeches.  Everyone's trying to manipulate the political system to his own special advantage, often to the detriment of the country."

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

"Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve."

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

"Once you've seen how broken someone is it's like seeing them naked -- you can't look at them the same anymore."

There you have it, Friends.  My summer reading at a glance.  The Hate U Give was by far my favorite of the books I read this summer.  Everyone should read it.  (One More Thing by B. J. Novak was really good, too.  The story about the girl on a date with a warlord was hilarious!)

Any of you read anything this summer that you thought was fantastic?  I'm always looking for recommendations!  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

That's What He Said

Hey, Friends.

My niece and nephew were up visiting from Texas for the last month or so. They just went home on Friday and I miss them already.  I'm going to write about them a bit now to help me to keep the memories close.  If you aren't feeling that, think it sounds deadly boring, please feel free to take yourself elsewhere.

We're going to talk about my nephew here, Friends -- more specifically the things that he says.  He's 9, and I find some of the things he says to be hilarious. Sometimes it's because he really wasn't paying attention and repeats what he thought he heard, sometimes he can't remember the word he really wants to use so he comes up with a close approximation.  He's also just a really funny little dude.  I started making notes of some of them. I think they're priceless, but I'm totally biased on this.

Without further ado, I present the sayings of my nephew, Austin. I call them:


Let's start with a couple of classics that my brother relayed to me.  

1) "Ham on tuna" -- Hannah Montana.  They had been discussing the show, and clearly Austin wasn't really listening very carefully.  When he was really little he had to watch it a lot because my niece was obsessed with the show, and he used to call it "Best Show" because of the theme song.

2) "Can of fish" -- again, his listening ears weren't working so well.  Apparently my sister-in-law was trying to talk and he kept interrupting, and she said, "Can I finish?" 

3) Another older example I was present for:  he couldn't remember the word 'elves'.  He called them "Santa's midget clowns", and claimed that they hated children.  

On to the gems from this summer.  Some are pretty clear, and others might necessitate a bit of explanation.

4) "Like a rhino in a Chinese store" -- he meant bull in a china shop, but didn't quite get it right.

5) On dealing with  his sister:  "I'm not allowed to touch her.  At all."

6) On briefly seeing a display for something called Spikeball in a sporting goods store: "It's just what drunk people play."

7) To his grandmother, "You're wasting my words."  This could go a couple different ways.  Originally he meant that she was twisting his words.  He also used to complain that, "Grandma is always asking me a million questions about everything," and she was making him waste his words answering her.

8) When I asked him what he had been doing since his fingernails were caked with dirt:  "That's not dirt.  That's memories."

9) "Hands are nature's silverware.  Teeth are nature's knives."

10) To his sister, "You have all the length, I have all the muscle."  (She is older and much taller than he is.)

11) On debating with me whether 'bogosity' was a word: "Bogosity -- search it up, Aunt Tammy!  It's totally in Urban Dictionary!"

12) He came to visit me at the library where I work, and took it upon himself to put all of the puzzles in the children's area back together correctly.  He also morphed into a 90 year old man.  "These darn kids are irresponsible, losing all the pieces. They shouldn't be allowed to have puzzles!"

13) "Little tickets to heaven" -- that's what he called the goose poop that was all over sidewalk when we were out for a walk.

14) Showing me his profile picture on his Instagram account: "That's a cupcake.  I made it.  His name was Diabetes."

15) "Is this going to be an Austinism?  Don't write that down.  I can do much better than that!"

16) We were in the car.  He was really tired, watching YouTube videos on his tablet and trying to listen to the conversation Lili (my niece) and I were having about Pretty Little Liars. "Who what did?" and then whispered under his breath, "Oh, God."  

17) Commenting on his sister: "She's now turning into a real giraffe!  Long neck, long legs..."

18) He went to baseball camp at Marist College, and he would come home starving and totally exhausted.  He would never cop to being tired and would fight it every night.  It led to him saying things at dinner like, "I can't talk because there's a mouth in my food."

19) And when tired he kind of scrambles his words a bit: "Is the dar clocked?"  Is the car locked.  Totally wouldn't admit he said it, either.  Cause he wasn't tired, damn it!

20) My brother was up to visit for the week before taking his kidlets back home to Texas.  My mother had made a pasta salad with garbanzo beans in it.  Austin was sitting closest to the salad, and was dishing some out to my brother when he asked. "Do you want the garzombie beans?"  I like his word better, honestly.

21) "Everybody likes ice cream.  Except for people who are lactose intolerant."  Then he whispered, "They have explosive poo later."

22) He came home from baseball camp and announced to his sister and I, " I have swamp butt."  I don't know what it is, and I don't think I want to know.  I told him to make sure he told his Dad, since he was here.  Aunt Tammy doesn't handle Swamp Butt.  New rule.

23) This happened on Thursday night.  I worked late and went over to my parents' house after to visit everyone.  My brother had already taken Austin up to bed to start the process of trying to get him to sleep.  I went up to the bedroom to see him before he went to sleep.

Austin:  Hi Tomato-mobiler!  *cracks up laughing*

Me: Hi there, Giggles.

Austin:  Get it?  Cause Dad calls you Tomato and he sent your birthday present to Tomato and they delivered it!  And your car is red-- like a tomato!  The Tomato mobile.  You're a tomato-mobiler!"  He was giddy he was so tired, just cracking himself up.

Me:  Whatever you say, Swamp Butt.

His birthday is next week.  I hope he finds it just as hilarious when I address his present to Swamp Butt.  He doesn't think they will deliver it.  They totally will. I send flowers to my niece every year for her birthday.  Back in the day I used to address them to her self-proclaimed moniker of Princess Flapjack Electroboom.  They always got delivered.  Swamp Butt is in for a surprise!

Just to be fair and round this out, I'll share a bit of ridiculousness that my brother, my niece and I got up to.  It's entirely my fault.  I take full blame.

My brother, Lili, and I were all watching television at my parents' house.  (The kidlets stay there when they come to visit, as neither would be up and motivated to go when I have to leave for work in the morning.  My brother crashes at my house when he is in town.) There must not have been a Yankees game on at the time as I had the remote.  I was flipping through the channel guide, trying to find something appropriate for all viewers, and I noticed a show was on Animal Planet called "Finding Bigfoot".  

So I chose it.

I thought it was going to be something discussing the history of the Bigfoot legend. Nope.  They were in Iowa, I think, and were going to go out and look for Bigfoot where all of these sightings had purportedly taken place.  I assumed they were going to debunk them -- examine the area and talk about what native animals (like bears) people might have been mistaking for Bigfoot.

I was so wrong.

They were legitimately out there trying to find Bigfoot.  They had night vision cameras, thermal readers -- you name it.  Still cool.  It was interesting to see what they could find.

The thing that did us in was the terms they were using.  Did the area look "Squatchy?"  They were going out "squatching".  I really thought I heard them wrong the first time, but they kept saying similar things.

So, fast forward to the last day of their visit.  Lili had told my brother that she wanted the two of them to "go on an adventure" while Austin was at camp and I was at work.  We came up with a bunch of things they could do as an adventure, depending on what time Lili managed to drag herself from bed after being up chatting with her friends on her phone half the night.

They ended up going to Minnewaska State Park to go hiking.  It's really beautiful.  I go there quite often to get away from it all.

My brother takes some pictures while they are there, but he tags them with things like "squatchwatch2017". When they were taking a rest, it was a "squatchsquat".

I might have replied and asked if the area looked "squatchy".

But the best of them was definitely when he said, "Going to find them where they live.  Catch them in their sas-hole."  I found that highly amusing.  I don't really care if that makes me seem incredibly immature.

My point, Friends, is that Austin comes by his crazy sayings naturally.  We all do it.  I just happen to find my little dude to be super funny. Like I said -- I'm very biased.  

I hope you found some of this to be at least mildly amusing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

But Can You Do It With Frosted Flakes Instead?

Hey, Friends.

Long time, no talk.

Sorry about that.  My niece and nephew are up visiting from Texas, so I've been spending as much time as possible hanging with the kidlets when I'm not at work. They win over you, Friends.

To make it up to you for the almost month-long silence, allow me to share this evening's attempt at a culinary creation.  It may end up being a total disaster. Doesn't that sound like fun?

I feel the need to explain that I am, generally, pretty damn good at baking and making desserts. Ridiculous amount of steps?  No problem.  High percentage that it could all go horribly wrong?  I love a challenge.  Going to require getting every pan I own dirty?  Okay -- that I'm not keen on, but I'll do it.

For no good reason, Rice Krispies Treats are like my kryptonite.

Picture from Rice Krispies recipe, which can be found here:  Original Treats

The commercials show children happily and easily making them with their families:

That's not remotely what happens when I try to make them.

The first time I tried to make Rice Krispies Treats it went very, very wrong.  You know what smells horribly nasty? Burnt marshmallows.  Also a bitch to get off of your pans.  

Some marshmallow tips from me to you:

1) Never use the giant "campfire" size marshmallows, even if they are the only option in the store.  I don't care how many different stores you have to go to, keep searching for any size that is smaller. Trust me on this one.  Learn from my misadventures in the world of marshmallows.

2) You want to try using fun, colorful marshmallows?  Be prepared for them to come out looking slightly grayish.  All of those fun colors are going to melt into one big, grayish pile of goo, not pretty swirls.

3) I know the official recipe says to use mini-marshmallows.  Maybe you can handle that.  I cannot.  That stuff will turn on you and start burning in the blink of an eye. You need to be vigilant in your marshmallow cookery.

4) I just use the normal size marshmallows.  No one will know once they are melted into ooey-gooey congealed goodness.

And for the record:  I have never tried the microwave route. My track record with marshmallows is bad enough that I'm not about to introduce them to my microwave. I have visions of them exploding all over the place, or expanding and oozing everywhere.  

Marshmallow woes aside, I can pull it off and successfully make them.  

Fruity Pebbles Treats

I have a process, now that I have screwed it up badly  made all of the mistakes  done it enough times to find all of my problem areas.  I don't know that the good people of Rice Krispies would be too thrilled with it, but it gets the job done.

How To Make Rice Krispies Treats: The Tammy Method

1) Get out your butter-flavored cooking spray and coat a 13x9 pan to within an inch of its life.

2) Get out your wok.  It's got a nice wide top for pouring in marshmallows without spilling them all over the place.

3) Put your box of Rice Krispies (or other fine cereal of choice) by the back door.  No, I'm not kidding. Make sure it is opened and ready to go!

4) Put the butter in the wok and melt it over low heat.

5) When the butter is melted, dump in your entire bag of normal sized marshmallows.

6) Stir constantly and avoid all distractions while stressing out and trying not to burn it.

7) When the marshmallows are nice and smooth and melty, turn off the stove.

8) Take your wok of marshmallow madness, your spoon, and your box of cereal and go stand in the driveway.

9) While holding the wok in your left hand, dump the cereal in using your right hand.

10) Drop the empty box on the ground by your feet and start trying to mix it all together before the marshmallow goo starts to firm up.

11) Pay no attention to the cereal flying out of the wok while you stir.  This is why you are doing it outside.  The birds and other neighborhood wildlife can enjoy a tasty snack later.

12) When it looks as mixed as you can get it, hurry back inside and put it into the pan.  Press that stuff in firmly so that the bars will (hopefully) hold together when you try to cut them up later.

13) Cover with waxed paper and hope for the best.

14) Go back outside to get the empty box and throw it in the garbage.

That's really my process, Friends.  I am apparently incapable of stirring in the cereal without making a gigantic mess.  I like to think of it as an urban campfire scenario.  A brief intermission en plein air.

Why are we discussing this, Friends?

Well, I have my book group tomorrow night.  We will be discussing One More Thing by B. J. Novak. In the book is a story called "Kellogg's".  As you might have guessed, it mentions cereal.

You probably remember that I like to serve refreshments that go with the theme of the book at my book groups.  (Don't remember, or you are a new reader and are dying of curiosity? You can click here or just click on the "book group" tag.)  Well, this particular chapter mentions Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes.  What am I supposed to do with that?  I'm not going to serve my book group bowls of cereal. You're killing me here, Mr. Novak!

And then I had an epiphany: I could make Rice Krispies Treats, but use Frosted Flakes instead!  My euphoria was short lived.  After my initial rush of giddiness subsided,  my brain had a lot of questions as to what I thought I was going to do.

  • What the hell would you even call them?  Frosted Flakes Treats?  Frosted Flakes Bars?
  • Is this even a thing?  You cannot be the first person to ever have this idea.  There is probably a good reason you don't see commercials for Frosted Flakes Treats.
  • Will these things even hold together?  Rice Krispies are small and easily coated.  Frosted Flakes are a lot bigger with more surface area.
  • You should probably Google this before trying it.

You're right, brain.  I could Google it.  I probably should....just to avoid a potential disaster.  It would be the smart thing to do.  You raised some valid points.

Yeah, I totally didn't bother to look it up.  It will be our own little culinary adventure, Friends!

So, just a few minutes ago, I mixed up the Frosted Flakes treats-bars-things

Why yes, those would be Frosted Flakes in my driveway.  I wasn't lying about that step.

and I have now squooshed (technical term) them into the pan.


As I write this they should be firming up into a nice solid block.  Cross your fingers and send me good vibes.  I'm not even going to attempt to cut these bad boys until tomorrow.  I promise I will fill you in on the outcome -- for good or for ill.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make carrot cake for my book group.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Art on the Farm

Hey, Friends.

Happy Fourth of July!  And Happy Tuesday to the rest of the world! I hope you're having a good day, wherever you may be.

I went to the parade in Hyde Park earlier this morning, and I'll be going to see the fireworks down by the river this evening. Earlier this afternoon, however, I went to see an outdoor sculpture exhibit with my Mom.  Art on the Farm

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that this was the first time I had ever been to Vassar Farm or the Poughkeepsie Farm Project.  I drive past the entrance on the way to work every day, but had never gone in to explore.

So what prompted me to go today?

Well, last week I noticed a big orange thing on one of the fields as I was sitting at a traffic light on the way to work.  It was just far enough away that I couldn't figure out if it was a sculpture or some kind of fancy new watering system.  I was intrigued.  I asked around and found out it was some sort of art display, but nobody really seemed to have any details about it.  Eventually a banner went up with the information.  (See the link above!)

It's really pretty cool.  I had to take pictures, of course.

Staged by Jean Brennan -- Beacon, New York

Starting From Scratch by Ed Benavente -- Beacon, New York

Angelina by Dick Crenson -- Pleasant Valley, New York

Lifecycle of an Idea by Julian Mackinnon -- New Paltz, New York

Cactus by Carl Grieco -- Hyde Park, New York

Man is an Island by Richard Marx -- Hyde Park, New York

Translogical Corner by Robert Parker -- Walton, New York

The Endless Picnic Tables, Then and Now by Chris Oliver -- Ithaca, New York

King Belotes by Jack Rusinek -- Marlboro, New York

Hoe Down by Peter Schlemowitz -- Beacon, New York

This would be "Whirly", but there seems to be a technical difficulty.

You Can't Find This on the Internet by Madeleine Cichy -- Ithaca, New York

Anomaly by Antonella Piemontese -- Beacon, New York

Walking on Eggshells by Anita Fina Kiewra -- Verbank, New York

Thunderhoof by Dave Channon -- Shandaken, New York

Wind Chapel by Nancy Steinson -- Beacon, New York

Setting Sun by Tom Holmes -- Greeley, Pennsylvania

The last one is a very bad picture.  I had to take it from the car at a traffic light.  That is the piece that lured me in to begin with.  

I would encourage everyone to go see this.  The pictures don't do the pieces justice.  It's an easy walk, and the farm is very pretty.  I'll definitely be going back since I had no idea there were so many nature trails on the property as well.  

And I had to take some random pictures while I was there.



Not that I'm playing favorites or anything, but this was really cool.  Walking through the trees to the giant mushrooms.  Made me think of Alice in Wonderland.