Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm thirty!

I am officially thirty today! I'm a little sad to not be able to celebrate more, but I did get doctor's approval to have a glass of champagne despite my heavy dose of antibiotics. (Can you really turn 30 without one? I'd really like more, but whatever.) My main birthday treat today is getting to go to a really nice oyster bar with Eric.

I've been really sick off and on the last two weeks and finally got my blood work results that confirm I have lyme disease. Apparently my long stint of paradise in the Pennsylvania countryside came at a price! I'm very lucky though for the symptoms to have shown up so early and for the tests to confirm everything so I could start antibiotics fast. A lot of people get sick much later and the disease is often very hard to detect through testing.

I'm really looking forward to this upcoming year and am excited to be thirty. I have more things to post about from my travels, so I'll slowly be posting more things from my summer trips.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Raspberries, raspberries & more raspberries

Each day of my stay in Pennsylvania we picked ginormous bowls of raspberries from my grandma's raspberry patches. I have a little backyard at our place in Austin and I kept trying to estimate how large her patches were in comparison to our backyard. I'm thinking 3 backyards. (My backyard is the size of 4 small bedrooms.) Do you like my estimations? I should just guess in square feet...

Above, a normal morning's pick.

The berries start to get moldy after just one day (!!), so mom froze a ton of them and we juiced some. We hand squeezed the juice to fill the contents of the jar above. We used the old school pillowcase method! Lots of squeezing and big mess. The above jar is on its way to becoming raspberry vinegar.

After seeing how much work my mom has to do to juice (raspberries, tomatoes, etc.), I decided to order her a much needed gift: a Breville juicer (same as the one I own). Above she's enjoying using it for the first time.

A few days before I left, mom ordered a dehydrator. It came in the mail the day before I was leaving and we attempted to dehydrate some berries for me to take with me on the next stop of my trip. Sadly, after 15 hours, they still weren't finished! Mom said they eventually finished later that day, but sheesh! So long.

I wish I'd made the raspberries scones I intended to, but we kept ourselves busy with everything else. Mom made lots of raspberry tea (delicious) and we ate as many fresh berries as we could before freezing or juicing.

I'm back in Austin now, but more to share soon from PA and from visiting friends in DC.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brad!

Happy Birthday to my big brother! I hope you're sleeping in and then your day is full of things you love: running, steak & sweet treats.

Love and miss you! Wish we were together on your birthday.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Campanelle with Chanterelles

Mom and I went looking on my uncle's property for chanterelles a couple days ago and found a bunch. They are such a treat. I'm being spoiled with the mushrooms we can find locally in the woods up here - fresh black trumpets (OMG), chanterelles, and horse mushrooms. My parents are growing shitakes and oyster mushrooms outside, but I don't think they'll be ready until after I leave.

 I made a creamy pasta for lunch today with them and peas from the garden. I used this recipe with campanelle instead of fettuccine. Delicious.

Still having a lovely time up here and am amazed at everything there grows here. Mom asked me the other night if I wanted some chamomile tea...from pineapple chamomile she found growing next to their garage. It never ends :).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Grandma's Gardens

This is my second week up in Rimersburg, PA, the town my parents are both from and much of my dad's side of the family still lives. It's a small town with rolling hills, farms and forest. My grandma has had huge gardens and orchards her whole life growing berries, apples, pears, grapes, flowers and nearly every vegetable you can think of. Today my Uncle Alan showed me the four (four!) different types of onions they have planted.

peas so good we usually eat them raw. 

husband in the garden.

garlic going to seed.

friend in the raspberry patch.

strawberry fields forever.

husband hunting for strawberries.


mom and I made net covers for the blueberry plants.

I can't remember how long it's been since I've been so relaxed. Every day consists of coffee with the parents and my Uncle Alan, red & black raspberry picking, rides through the forest on the golf cart, cooking (usually treats from the garden), mushrooming (more on that soon), thrift store shopping and reading. L O V E. I'm so happy.

Rimersburg Family Trip

Last week Eric and I flew up to Pennsylvania to stay with my parents along with my Aunt Barb and cousins Fred and Mike. We had a blast all week relaxing, sight seeing in the country, walking through the forest and just spending time with each other.

Here's a few funny moments from last week for my family to remember:

"This right here is the King Boofer chair" - My dad
While taking a tour of my parents' new place, my dad made sure to point out the worn-out small recliner on the porch. This is where he chills out boofs (as he would call it). He asked me the other day, "did you ever think you'd see your dad relax like this?". Me, "nope!".

"Well, I gotta go have sex with my squash" - Uncle Alan

My Uncle Alan is the primary caretaker of my grandma's gardens. He fears there aren't enough bees around, so he has to pollinate the blooms himself. He comes to my parents' house every morning at 7am to have coffee with them and often leaves saying something like, "it's time for my fertility clinic" or "I have to have sex with my squash."

"We aren't leaving until we see an elk!" - Everyone in the van trip to Elk Country

My dad, mom, Eric, Fred, Mike and Aunt Barb loaded up in the rental van one day and headed up to check out the Kinzua bridge and drive around Elk Country. After checking out the bridge, we drove another hour or so to look for elk. It was unfortunately really hot and in the middle of the day, so our luck at catching an elk was slim. We even extended the drive to ride along the creek for miles hoping to catch one having a drink. After a number of hours, we were exhausted and hungry and began to settle for finding a spot with elk burgers and making our drive home. We spotted a sign for a restaurant 5 miles ahead and on the way we finally saw an elk! And we got to have elk burgers.

"Grandma, what kind of hot dog is it?" - Mike

Mike (7 yrs. old) is one of the pickiest eaters I've ever seen. He only eats a few different things, one of which is hot dogs, but he won't eat one unless it's been microwaved. We had a weenie roast one night by the fire and guess who wouldn't eat a hot dog? Mike. Luckily his grandma was happy to spoil him on vacation and walked up to the house and microwaved one for him.

"WOW! This is like the Hunger Games!" - Chloe & Mike

You can't live in Rimersburg, PA without owning a 4-wheeler, side-by-side or golf cart to ride around the trails (and often the small roads!). We must have gone on thirty rides during the week (the kids couldn't get enough of this) spotting animals, checking out wildflowers and blasting up hills in the forest. The day before everyone was leaving, we were going on our final rides. I took the kids and headed out for a different path than Eric had taken them earlier....only to come across a ton of mud at the bottom. I got the golf cart stuck and before giving up and walking home for help, we tried to pull it out and took some time trying to think of a solution. Chloe quickly yelled out that this was like being in the Hunger Games (we'd watched the second movie the night before) and there had to be a way to get it out. Mike and Chloe chatted about how we'd get it out if we were in the HG while we walked back home. (I would lose. My dad and cousin Fred came to the rescue and pulled it out!)