A Dozen Fleas, Please

In case you were wondering (and I'm certain you were wondering), I have been on the professional garage sale circuit since I was about 4 years old. It's true, the thrill of the quest for second-hand treasures runs in my blood. In general, I prefer second-hand to brand new. I don't know, there's just something about acquiring an item that already has a history. It's poetic somehow to embrace a thing from the past rather than having Crate & Barrel ship you the same damn thing everyone else already has. And, ya know, now that everyone is jumping on the sustainable wagon, re-usable stuff is a good thing. Uh-huh.

I don't know what all your childhood consisted of, but sizeable chunks of my childhood summers were spent mapping out weekend garage sale plans; circling the ads in the newspaper that sounded enticing. Going to the weekly flea market at the Peninsula Drive-In (which sadly, no longer exists). Spending an afternoon at an estate auction. Yep, I am no stranger to second-hand junk...er, stuff.

So, on Saturday I coerced Daniel to go with me to the Nashville Flea Market which is held at the fairgrounds every 4th weekend of the month. I'm ashamed to say that even though I've been living here for two and half years now, I have never been to the Nashville Flea Market. In fact, I haven't been to ANY flea market in a loooooong time. It's sad really.

Flea markets are hot, dusty affairs, and the Nashville Flea market was no exception. It was a very typical and satisfying flea market experience (btw, anyone know why they are called "flea" markets?). You had your local produce vendors and greenhouse vendors. You had your antique dealers and your brand-new sock dealers (why? why does EVERY flea market have booths of socks?). There were the junk dealers and food vendors. A veritable Portobello Road...well, sans the Calypso dancers.

I am particularly partial to the antique-y junk dealers. I like old bowls. Mmm hmm...old bowls...and pretty old plates. I also have a peculiar fondness for old hardware. Old hardware, you say? Yeah, you know, like old glass doorknobs or carved cabinet handles or brass drawer pulls or iron hinges. Call me crazy, but that's some good junk...er, stuff.

You just never know what you're gonna find at a flea market. Well, okay, you KNOW you're gonna find socks...but beyond that, you could stumble across anything. Like a large rusty mermaid statue...or an old Nazi sword...or a box full of 8-track recordings of Neil Diamond...or lovely old crystal chandeliers...or milk glass salt and pepper shakers...or a piece of Christmas Village (score!). Old shaving razors and teacups and postcards of places you've never seen. Stained cookbooks and petite candy dishes and political buttons of politicians you've never heard of. Clip-on rhinestone earrings and comic books and paintings of anonymous countrysides.

And, of course, socks...lots and lots of socks.

P.S. If I had been on the ball, I would've taken my camera and snapped a few fun photos of the flea market. Alas, I am rarely, if ever, "on the ball". Often I am running alongside the ball or tripping over the ball, but not actually ON the ball. Thus, no photos for your enjoyment. My sincere apologies.


Neurotic, Party of One...

Daniel has been married before.

This annoys me. Why does this annoy me, you ask? Because I’m a neurotic crazy person. Duh.

Honestly, I’m not even entirely sure why it annoys me. I have dated guys before who had been married in previous lives and it never bothered me. In fact, I really couldn’t have cared less. Let’s be realistic, by the time a person gets to 32, the odds of stumbling across someone with whom you’re compatible, and either, A.) isn’t married or B.) hasn’t ever been married, are rather slim.

And it’s not like Daniel’s previous role as a husband is a fact he’s tried to hide from me. It doesn’t make me sad or jealous or angry…just…annoyed. Irrationally so? Yes of course, but that’s not the issue.

The issue, ladies and gentlemen, is that my boyfriend had a big ole traditional churchy wedding with groomsmen and flower arrangements and tuxedos and the walking down the aisle bit…and all the hoopla associated with weddings, without me. And dammit, it’s annoying.

But here’s the really stupid thing: I’m not even envious of the actual wedding. Nope. In fact I hate weddings. Don’t ever want one. Never have. Also, never been a big fan of marriage in general. Single women usually have much more interesting lives than married women, don't they? Heh. So, seriously, what’s the deal? Why does this annoy me?

Unless a person is like 16 years old, there’s bound to be some relationship history attached to a person. It’s inevitable, right? Hell, I have my own history. Granted, it doesn’t include something as monumentally important as marriage, but still. Hmm…maybe that’s my beef – the enormous weight of it. A wedding and the marriage that goes with it is a BIG FUCKING DEAL. A major, life-altering experience and he went ahead and made a decision like that without consulting me first.

So what if he didn’t even know me back then!
So what if I lived 3 states away!
So what if I wasn’t even driving yet!

He’s had that experience. Been there. Done that. And I haven’t.

And, yes, there are things that I've done that he hasn't, but nothing so incredibly important...nothing so weighty...nothing so once-in-a-lifetime.

Maybe I should go to Vegas for a weekend and get married and divorced with some sad sap just so I can say, “Ha! See? I’ve been there and done that too. So there!” Meh. Maybe not.


Got Blueberries?

Are blueberries taking over your life?

Are they cluttering up your countertops and crouching in your freezer?

Do you feel like you're about to turn into Violet Beauregard if you eat one more fresh blueberry?

We sprinkle blueberries on oatmeal, we puree them into smoothies, we mix them up with cantaloupe, we pop them like M&M's...and still there are blueberries to contend with.

So, last night after a dinner of fresh corn on the cob and fried green tomatoes (gotta use the produce!), I made Blueberry Boy Bait. It's kind of like a blueberry coffee cake and a good way to use up some of those blueberries.

Here's what you'll need:

2 C. flour (yep. just your everyday all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 C. white sugar
2/3 C. butter (unsalted, if you please)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks (separating eggs can be tricky, proceed with caution)
1 C. milk (I used organic 2% - not sure if that makes any difference whatsoever)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites
1 to 2 C. fresh blueberries (depends on how fond you are of blueberries - or how many you want to get rid of)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a springform pan (I think the one I used was a 9 inch). Note: The original recipe says to use a 9x13 baking dish, so if you prefer that look, then go ahead and use a 9x13 if you must. Just make sure you cut down on the baking time.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or a couple of knives until you've got a bowl of pea-sized crumbles. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and set aside (you'll use this later for the topping).

Stir the baking powder and salt into the remaining mixture, then mix in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla beating on low speed for 3 minutes.

In a large glass or metal bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form and then gently fold those suckers into the batter. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and sprinkle the blueberries on top. Then sprinkle the reserved topping mixture over the blueberries. Note: I added a pinch of cinnamon and a little bit of brown sugar to this mixture before sprinkling on top of the blueberries.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until cake springs back when lightly touched in the middle. Note: My cake did not "spring back". In fact, it was kinda jiggly, but the edges were nice and brown after about 62 minutes, so I took it out. Turns out the jiggliness was due to the massive amounts of blueberries I used on the top of the cake. The cake was done perfectly and once the blueberries cooled a bit, it was fine and dandy.


Crushed Under the Weight of Blueberries

Last night we picked up our 7th weekly box of farm fresh produce. Daniel said, “So what week are we on now? The 900th?”. Clearly he was being facetious – his memory hasn’t completely vaporized with his advanced age. But, seriously, since becoming part of the CSA program at a local farm it often feels like our lives are being run by produce.

We are handed a butt-load of fruits and vegetables every week by the kindly John and Judy of Doe Run Farm. This week our box contained things such as sweet corn, tomatoes, green tomatoes, poblano peppers, beets, red potatoes, eggplant, lettuce, blueberries, blackberries…and thankfully, for the first time this summer, NO SQUASH.

For the past 7 weeks our refrigerator and countertops have been full of every imaginable type of produce – cabbages and onions and cucmbers…squashes and strawberries and peas…broccoli and asparagus and beans. We have bags and bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer along with one enormous bag full of blueberries. We spend our days trying to come up with creative ways to use our overabundant produce supply and we spend our nights cooking or freezing the produce. It’s always there and it always has to be dealt with.

We are not farm folk, dammit! We do not spend our weekends putting up stores in the pantry. We do not delight in the making of preserves. We do not own a root cellar! We are busy people who don’t have the time or inclination to cook every night!

Yes, it’s healthy. Yes, it’s nice to have fresh produce while supporting community agriculture. But, damn! It gets to be exhausting and tedious having this constant obligation to use all of our healthy, local, organic produce.

Clearly, one share in the farm is just too much produce for only two people. IF we ever decide to participate in a CSA again, we’ll have to find more people to go in on it with us. Any takers? Only seven more weeks to go! After that I think we’ll go back to relying on Whole Foods, and regulate our produce consumption to a more manageable volume.


The 4th

My trip to Erie last week for the fourth of July was alarmingly similar to my Whirlwind Christmas Trip to Erie last year.

Drive 6 hours from Nashville to Columbus
Drive 4 hours from Columbus to Erie
Drive to grandparents for dinner
Drive to karaoke bar to meet friends for drinks
Drive to uncle's for 4th of July party
Drive to stepmother's for 4th of July party
Drive to mother's for 4th of July party
Drive to friend's for 4th of July party
Drive to beach
Relax on beach, wriggle toes in sand
Drive to amusement park
Ride on rollercoaster with friend
Drive to cousin's graduation party
Drive to bar to meet friends
Drive to restaurant for breakfast with grandparents
Drive 10 hours from Erie to Nashville

Except this time, Daniel came with me. I have to say, it's rather satisfying to have someone share in the utter exhaustion of my hometown visits, even if I felt pangs of guilt at dragging him all over town with a sprained ankle. (He fell off of our driveway. Don't ask.)

Okay, so even though it's a seriously draining endeavor to "vacation" in Erie where almost all of my family, my two best friends, and their families reside, it IS nice to see people. But, not unlike my Christmas visits, there are so many people to see and so many places to be, that "quality time" ceases to exist. Instead it becomes a mad dash to see how many engagements I can cram onto my plate so as not to disappoint anyone. Yeah, it's ridiculous.

I think a good solution to this situation is to encourage various friends and family members to move to other places. That way, when I go somewhere to visit, there won't be SO many people to see all in one place. AND, I'll have lots of different places to visit. See how that works? Heh.

So, listen up friends and family members of Erie: I need some of you to move. May I suggest Honolulu? Or perhaps Boston? Maybe a few of you could move up to Maine - I hear it's pretty and you would still have plenty of snow to enjoy. What about Denver or Colorado Springs? Or hey, how about Chicago - you'd still have lake and cold weather. Eh? Eh?

I'm just sayin'.


This is just a silly, slumber-party-esque name generating game that I found on Jackie's Blog and couldn't resist. Post your particularly amusing names in the comments. C'mon! Fun for all!

1.YOUR ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car):
Tiger Aurora not bad, not bad...better than Tiger Oldsmobile

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe):
Rocky Road Heels okay, that's retarded...

3. YOUR NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal):
Red Lion sounds more medieval european...but whatev

4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you were born):
Mary Erie weak

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (the first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name):
Joh-Ca Jedi knight, Joh-Ca...has a nice ring to it

6. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink):
Orange Water sad. really, what could possibly be an appropriate superpower to go along with a name like Orange Water?

7. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers):
Kenneth Clark oh yeah

8. STRIPPER NAME (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy):
Kenzo Chocolate hmm

9. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):
Miller Minneapolis try saying that with a mouthful of marbles

10. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower):
Christmas Peony oh, that is SO what I'm naming my firstborn!

11. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now):
Raspberry Underpants

12. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):
Eggs Magnolia magnolia?