Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jam up and Jelly Tight

So I'm dropping my entry form for the 2008 Tennessee State Fair into the mail today. Last year was the year of the pepper jelly fiasco. Submitted for your pleasure, reprint of the press release:

For Immediate Release:


Nashville, TN
Sunday, September 9, 2007

In what can only be described as a stunning turn of events, urban gardener and jelly enthusiast Allison Breyer Everett, of Nashville, TN placed 4th in today's judging results at the Tennessee State Fair. Everett had entered a jar of her pepper jelly into competition on Wednesday.

The defeat is made all the more bittersweet with the knowledge that there were in fact, only four entries.

"I think it would have been less disappointing if there had been a dozen entries," said Everett from her Acklen Avenue home Sunday evening. "Because I came in fourth of four, there's a lot of self doubt - I mean, should I have entered a jar from a different batch? Would I have placed if I'd entered the green jelly instead of the red? I'll never know."

When reached for comment, Everett's mother, Lucy Breyer of Roswell, GA said, "I can't believe she didn't win - her paternal Great-Grandfather, Julius Breyer, owned a thriving jelly-making business in Nashville [Delited Jams and Jellies, which eventually sold to Bama]. In fact, he too, lived on Acklen Avenue. She had everything going for her!"

Everything, perhaps, except prize-worthy jelly. Her father, William Breyer, initially didn't wish to comment, but eventually reluctantly admitted, "She has shamed our family."

For now, Everett consoles herself with a ribbon she purchased at the local Dollar Tree. "It says 'Wow' on it," she says ruefully. "They only give out ribbons for 3rd place on up, but I really wanted something to show for all my hard work. I mean, I made three batches of jelly. In the heat of August. With habaneros that I grew in my own garden. Have you ever tried to grow anything in this limestone? Have you?! I mean, isn't that worth something?"

Everett's husband, Matthew is skeptical, "I told Allison that ribbons are only for winners, but since she believes in her heart that she deserves a ribbon, and since it was only a dollar, I figured, why not?" He also offered to flirt with the octogenarian judges next year to ensure Allison's place in jelly-making history.

For now, she consoles herself with the knowledge that failure is not falling down, but staying down. "I've already started planning for next year," she says "Aside from which, I have three cases of pepper jelly that I'm planning to give as gifts to my friends and family for Christmas."

When asked if her friends and family would be content with a jelly that carried the stigma of being merely mediocre, Everett shrugged. "It's not like there are tons of uses for it anyway. I expect most people will hang on to it for a few months out of a sense of duty, then they'll toss it."

So that's what I have to live down. I'm doubling my odds by entering into a second category - Most Creative/Unusual Jelly...I can't say just yet what that will end up being, but I'm pretty excited. The plan is to start on it this weekend. Next weekend is the annual Weekend on the Water - we're canoeing the Harpeth/Camping again with some friends - the weekend after that, I'm headed to Atlanta to hang with my Dad (Mom's off to see her grandbaby), and the weekend after that, it'll be time to drop the jelly off.

Where has the year gone?

Along those same lines of "unbelievable", we're closing in on our 3rd Anniversary. Leather. Or Crystal/Glass... So, a buggy whip and a Crystal Gale or Phillip Glass CD?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Full Blown Crud

So whatever it was I thought I was coming down with, I came down with. It's not flu - maybe just a cold or low-grade sinus infection. As a result, flying home yesterday was super awesome. I kept popping my ears every five minutes - and they still feel gummy. Plus my throat hurts and my joints ache a little. It could be worse. One row ahead of me, this sweet little Indian girl threw up. I felt bad for her, and just as bad for the woman sitting next to her and her grandma.

That said, it's good to be home. Matt and I celebrated his birthday with presents, Mexican food and a coconut cake (thanks, Pepperidge Farms!). Lola looks skinny, but I gave her a bath and she's been pretty playful.

Today, I mostly slept, because that's what my crud demanded of me. We did take time to hit Sam Ash - and Matt bought me a new ukulele book - Hollywood tunes.

I would have bought it myself, but I left my ATM card in a machine in the Nashville airport yesterday afternoon - I needed cash to pay the cab, and in my hurry to get the hell home, 5/3 Bank (which should be 1 2/3 Bank, if we're cleaning up the fraction), now has my card in their posession. Suntrust is cancelling that card and sending me a new one. Yeeha. Good news is, I have some cash because I went to the ATM.

I've done a few loads of laundry, and I'll be honest - I'm anxious about coming back to work after having been gone for a week and change. It's all good - but at the same time, it's that old Sunday night dread creeping back, which has never happened before. I know that my compromised immune system and my sleep deprivation are adding to the anxiety, but that doesn't make it any better.

I've got to come up with an idea for dinner - I'd like a grilled cheese and a bowl of soup over at Noshville, but when don't I want that?



Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Emerald City in an Evergreen State. And I'm feeling a little blue.

So...Seattle. The two most pleasantly disorienting things have been the weather - cool, cool, cool and overcast-ish; and the flora - plants that thrive in the aforementioned climate. The city has done a fine job of planting flowers and creating lots of green space - and then, there are evergreens everywhere. On my first day in training, I described them to my captive audience as "straight out of Dr. Seuss" - hopefully, they took that as the intended compliment that it was. Even the flowers that people buy at the market for $15 a bunch are incredible. Had I gotten married in Seattle, I'd have gone to the Market the morning of the wedding and picked out flowers then and there.

The food here is top notch. I get a healthy per diem - I have to pick up the bar tab, which is never more than a few bucks, given that I'm a lush. I've had two completely different Italian meals - both excellent - I may hit up one of them again tonight - I never tire of Italian. Last night, fish and chips on the pier - again, very, very good - you can't get seafood of this caliber in a landlocked state. And really, when you get right down to it - fish and chips are really just a kid's meal of fish sticks and french fries. I went to Ivar's which has been on the pier since the 30's and is something of a Seattle institution - their specialty is clam chowder. I'm not a clam lover, so I made do with my fish sticks. But they were great - washed them down with a Seattle microbrew.

As far as cultural pursuits in my leisure time - mostly I've just walked around the neighborhood - I'm right near the Market, and that was fun. No, I haven't seen the guys that throw the fish - though like anyone in my industry, I've read the book that was based on their work ethic. I'll probably hit the Market again tonight and find a bite to eat nearby. My colleague who lived here has suggested a few activities - a tour of the Underground, Space Needle, etc. I can't say I'll do those - because I'm fundamentally lazy and don't want to drive any more than I have to.

I did the one "must" thing on my agenda - a 25 minute drive to Archie McPhee - a gigantic store which sells all kinds of novelty items - birdwhistles, fake bugs, propeller beanies and so on. I spent two hours (and $40) there. There's also a great toy store across the street from my hotel - I bought my parents' pug a Karl Rove chew toy, and got a book for young Henry.

I made time to get a pedicure next door at the T&T Salon & Spa - too many ampersands in the name, but otherwise, the best pedi I've had in several years. And at $20, a bargain. My color this time is OPI's I'm India Mood for Love - a nice peppy hot pink. It probably looks silly, but I'm OK with that.

Today, I'm taking a quick break away from the training center for some lunch at a place called Calamity Jane's - I had some pasta from there yesterday, but I'm told that the meatloaf sandwich (served only on Thursday) is a reason to return. And I'm a fan of meatloaf, so if I can find the place again, I'll hit it up for a sandwich.

The people at the hotel are super nice - I've gotten 2 parking tickets in the parking garage because I wasn't properly displaying my placard - which, given that I didn't get a placard, is ridiculous. In fact, I just double checked to see if I was mistaken. No, I definitely didn't get a placard.

So. The hotel is going to get me one. Also, it's a good thing I called - they thought I was checking out tomorrow, when in fact, I'm leaving Saturday morning. So - I have a more expensive room for that last day. My credit card company loves me right now. Good thing I have a $5000 limit. And that I'm getting reimbursed.

That said, it's been nice and all, but I'm ready to come home. I miss my husband, my dog, my own bed, my own car, and my nice little town with traffic patterns I understand.

That's it for now...I'm a little worried I'm coming down with something, so let's think positively, shall we?


PS - Lest you think my time here has been a total pleasure cruise, I've also spent each day at the facility, running sessions and at least an hour a night catching up on work after training is done. So, yeah, it's a business trip - but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

See Who?

So, I leave for the airport in 1.5 hours - a brief layover in Las Vegas, and then Seattle for one whole week.

We spent the weekend with Matt's family - good time and good chow - a winner on all counts.

I don't mind all the flying (or the two hour layover with Slot Machines), but I think air travel is so dirty. I just want to disinfect once I get off the plane.

That said, I really need a pre-flight scrubbing right now. So I guess that's it for the moment.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Lonestar State

So, I'm in Texas. It's hot and humid. I'm prepping for a demo tomorrow AM that is kicking my butt.

Had a great meal tonight, but why do people feel compelled to discuss politics at the dinner table? Rudeness!

I've been putting in some extra hours at the office, and the house is a mess. I'd love a week of 8-5 days, come home, make dinner using stuff from the garden. Which probably needs watering, come to think of it.

I wish I had something, anything interesting to share. Work is going well and so the long hours have been worth it. But work talk is boring unless you're involved.

My bike is ready at the shop - I should see if Matt can get it for the weekend. If not, I fly out again on Sunday (Seattle).

What is it about air travel that makes me break out into a sweat? Maybe I'm worried that the drug dogs will sniff out my stash...

On that note, I have miles to go before I sleep. A bientot!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Location, Location, Location

When we bought our house, there were three key selling points our realtor missed - she wouldn't have had any way to know:

1. We are located close enough to Greer Stadium that when they have Friday and Saturday fireworks at Sounds games, we can hear them - and even see a few. Lola's aversion to fireworks is greatly lessened.

2. We are about a mile and change from a Colonial Bread bakery - and some mornings (Thursdays seem to be a sure thing), you can smell bread baking when you take the dog out.

3. This last one may be an olfactory hallucination, but we're also a few blocks away from Mrs. Winners, and occasionally, I smell fried chicken.

We're also near the Emergency Vet and the Fire Station - so all three of us are covered for safety. And, we can walk to Mafiaoza's, Las Paletas, Trim, the Taproom, etc.

For me though - it's all about the bread baking.

One last thing - my favorite comic strip, Rhymes With Orange comes up with a winner nearly every day - but Hilary Price's July 3rd offering hit especially close to home:

Considering that Lola is never far from her cone (or hotspots), I found this one especially amusing.

More of her treasures can be found at http://rhymeswithorange.com

Off to bring home the bacon bits!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fabulous Fourth Re-cap

So, I could use more weekends like this past one...

We left Nashville on Wednesday around 7:30PM CT, got to Mom and Dad's around midnight ET, and went directly to bed, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

The following morning, Dad and I went to the local Kroger, where we loaded up on supplies - as a side note, because my father shops at this store all the time, and they know him well, we got some of the best customer service I've ever seen - kudos, Kroger located on Hwy 120!

We went back to the house, loaded up Matt, Lola and Maggie and headed north to the cabin.

Thursday was a mix of unloading the car and unwinding - Matt and I took a swim in the waterfall, tooled around on the Rhino and then we had a great dinner - pork chops, turnip greens, and some cowboy beans. We watched a little TV and then slept like logs.

Friday, we spent time playing with the dogs, visiting with neighbors, and riding the Rhino - this was the first of my two attempts at self-mutilation. We're on the Rhino, a branch snags the rollcage and snaps back, whipping me in the arm. It hurt like hell. As a result, I now have a large bruise that looks like Haley's Comet on my right arm.

Mom came up after volunteering at the Peachtree Road Race, and we barbecued a few chickens for dinner - we watched fireworks on TV -which isn't as good as the real thing, but since we can see the fireworks that the Sounds do on the weekends, it's not like we felt deprived.

On Saturday, I went to the annual meeting for all the members who own cabins on the mountain - the highlight of which is that I've been named the new head of the Social Committee. Good thing, too - later that night, we held the annual July social in the field in front of our cabin. A potluck with lots of chicken dishes. Note to self - next year, do something that isn't chicken. Mom's cupcakes were a hit, though.

My second act of self-mutilation occurred just before the party - Matt and I went for another swim in the waterfall, and I misjudged the spot where I opted to slip into the water - there is a deep hole in one section that is bisected, several feet below the surface, by a large wedge of rock. I hit my shin on said rock and howled in pain for several minutes. The good news is, if you're injured, being in cold mountain water helps the swelling. At present, I have about a two inch scar on my shin, surrounded by a large bruise.

I've read that left-handed people live shorter lives than righties, due in large part to accidents - I wouldn't doubt it based on my experiences this weekend.

We headed back to my parents' house Sunday. I drove Dad back in his Jeep, as we had to stop and pick up a knife he had left to have a new sheath made for.

While the owner was getting Dad's stuff ready, I walked next door to an Antique Store I've passed a million times, always wanted to look at but never had time. Within three minutes, I'd spotted the Holy Grail:

This is a Ball Pitcher from the Hall China Company - circa 1936. Growing up, my father had one that was spearmint green in color that his mother used for iced tea - he has it now and uses it for iced tea. I got one for Christmas a few years back in shell pink, and I love it. This one is sort of jade/emerald green, and it's in perfect condition. She wanted $65 for it - and not being a haggler, I paid it. Worth every penny. When I walked back to the knife shop to show Dad, he had a fit. Hall now makes repros of them - in white and cobalt blue (I gave Laura a blue one for her birthday a few years ago), but the originals are much harder to find.

I don't know what it is exactly about these pitchers that I love so much - but I find them really esthetically pleasing as well as functional - the lip is designed to keep ice from splashing into your glass when poured. My new purchase is currently on the mantle til I find a permanent home.

Last night, upon returning to Nashvegas, I started a big load of laundry, then we chilled - both literally (I iced down my shin) and figuratively (we started Hot Fuzz, which arrived via Netflix in our absence).

So that's that - now I'm easing my way back into everything I walked away from Wednesday night.

It's not pretty, but as Dad would say, "That's why they pay you."

Um. Yeah.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Aloha, Y'all!

Ok, so here's my favorite little guy in the whole wide world.
In fact, looking at this photo helps me forget all my deadlines, the people breathing down my neck and the fact that I have dustbunnies in my house big enough to kick my ass.
Note the Magnum PI shirt. Courtesy of Henry's favorite Aunt and Uncle.
I thought I'd have pictures of the chocolate fountain, but apparently, they didn't make the cut onto the highlights reel.
So this will have to do for now.
I'm feeling a little like I'm coming down with a cold, so I'll be pounding generic Airborne for a bit - mostly, it's throat, but my ears feel, once again, a little gummy. I need a good ENT to give me the once over. And some drugs to boot.
Oh well - maybe this fall - I still haven't re-booked with Lola's allergist.
OK - mini-vacation over - back to the deadlines and neck-breathers!