Sunday, October 15, 2017

Afternoon Tea Party at St. Brendan's

Though I’m not a tea drinker, or maybe because I’m not a tea drinker I thought this would be a good event to help out with (since they were looking for volunteers). I’m not sure if this is only the second year they’ve held it, but I definitely didn’t attend last year. Fr. Bob (who is British) stopped in while we were setting up and reminded us the proper way to clean out a teapot when you’re done with it, is to just rinse it out since any residual matter just adds to the taste of future pots of tea. Also, it’s proper to heat up the teapot before making tea inside it so the water doesn’t go cold quite so quickly. I told Fr. Bob I had to learn all these nuances when making tea for my bosses at Pearson May (in Bath, England) when I used to have to assist with catering meetings at work.

We had pretty good attendance at around 45 people total (including children and those of us who were assisting as well). The only snag to the plan was the fact that there weren’t (round?) tables set up for us, so we just borrowed some of the cafeteria tables and the show went on!

How this whole thing worked was we provided tea pots with boiling water for each table (which was heated inside the school kitchen), a tray of assorted cookies & pastries (I made lemon blueberry scones, so those were the pastries), tea bags, sugar cubes, and creamers. People were asked to bring their own teacups (saucers optional). For those who didn’t we had a table with extras people could borrow. There was also a table with paper and crayons to keep the little girls occupied. 

The only thing we didn’t have was music, but maybe next year I’ll offer to bring my boom box and CD of Music for an English Country Garden. People are happy to chat to one another so I know music isn’t necessary, but might be a nice touch as long as it’s not too loud. Yesterday morning we made centerpieces using pie pumpkins and artificial flowers stuck into them. We gave them away to anyone who had a September, October or November birthday (not many people did).
my lemon blueberry scones

 After we made sure everyone had been served and had enough hot water, we sat down next to friends, neighbors, and acquaintances and had a chat while enjoying some tea and refreshments ourselves. I admit I had a couple chocolate chip cookies and a tiny cupcake while enjoying the lemonade meant for the children. I probably should have brought some of my cold Chai Tea drinks I have in my refrigerator, but I didn’t think of it.

With about a half an hour left to go Donna, the one who organized the tea party, stood up and spoke about the various ministries (clubs/organizations) at St. Brendan and the contact details for each, which were listed on sheets distributed amongst the various tables. If any representative from any particular ministry were present they were asked to speak about it. Since I am the unofficial co-chair of the Arts & Environment Committee I stood up and spoke about that.

Probably the best part of the afternoon was meeting new people and getting further acquainted with others I only know casually. I met a lady named Rose who I think is from Dundalk, Ireland (she said she was from a city north of Dublin near the border of Northern Ireland, and the city started with a ‘D’). Rose told me the only restaurant that actually serves boiling water adequate for enjoying a good cup of tea is, funnily enough, McDonald’s. I told her I’m not surprised. After all, they once had a lawsuit on their hands when someone spilled hot coffee on him/herself and got scalded. 

I told Rose I hoped to someday have proper afternoon tea at a tea house with my husband, Andrew. Our best option is the Cambridge Tea House in Grandview, but you need to get there early (not sure if they take reservations) on a Sunday and definitely dress up. We were going to go there on my birthday weekend, but we weren't dressed up and there was no parking (so we went to the Chocolate Cafe instead where I had a chocolate tea drink that I'm sure I probably liked more than if I had had a proper tea).

The next best part was the easy clean-up. It’s true what they say, ‘Many hands make for light work.’ All I did was organize the leftover cookies so they got returned to whomever baked/bought them if they so wished. This is how I got to take home a few leftovers (quite a few actually). We were done and dusted in less than 15 minutes after the event was over. I will definitely pencil in this event for next year since it was really fun and not really that much work (one short meeting to make plans, one even shorter meeting to make the centerpieces, and then the event itself), less than five hours in its entirety.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 9, 2017

An Afternoon at the MAiZE at Little Darby Creek

Saturday afternoon my mom, sister, my nephew and his friend and his friend’s mother and I drove out to the MAiZE at Little Darby Creek. This MAiZE is like one of those mysterious crop circles and equally as ornate with a pattern only discernable from the sky. This year’s design was the Columbus Blue Jackets (hockey team) logo.

There are two paths you can explore in the maze and ten signs scattered amongst various junctions. To choose your path you can either wing it, or take a Passport containing 10 questions related to the theme of the Passport. I chose the Girl Scout passport and my sister chose the TV/Movie passport. When you choose an answer there are directions (like take a left or a right) to help steer you to the exit. The TV/Movie passport didn’t seem too difficult, but I probably only knew maybe 50% of the Girl Scout questions.
We didn’t have too much trouble with the first path, but the second one was a lot harder as we kept doubling back on ourselves. Suddenly the idea of leaving a kettle corn trail didn’t seem like such a bad idea. At least it was a nice sunny (and very breezy!) day so the idea of spending time wandering around in a corn maze was a nice way to pass the time.

There’s also lots of family activities to do around the grounds as well as a couple lop eared rabbits you can pet, some goats you can feed and a couple pigs to look at (not sure what other purpose they served).

Not only was it an entertaining afternoon, but an educational one too as there were signs scattered about the property containing fun facts about animals. For instance, did you know that cats aren’t the only animals that purr? Apparently rabbits do too. Horses have the largest eyes of any land animal. I forget what they said about goats.

For an additional $3 you can ride the hay wagon out to the field and pick out your own pie pumpkin to take home. I opted to skip that figuring I’d probably be doing that in a couple weeks when I go again when I attend my husband’s Fall Fest activity there.

They have a pretty good selection of snacks and treats as we discovered when we went to the concession stand for cool drinks and popcorn (I got a pumpkin cappuccino that really hit the spot & burned my tongue, but no biggie).

Have a good week everyone!

Monday, October 2, 2017

new Fall TV Season

It’s that time of year again – the fall TV season when old favorites return and new programs try to capture a share of the audience.

I used to buy TV Guide and get on the internet and look up info on all the new shows and what was in the cards for my returning favorites. After having a busy winter & spring where I was out so many evenings (and I’m not one for binge watching programs), it literally took me all summer to catch up on my recorded programs (better late than never I guess). Hence, I decided it might be a good idea to not add any more (or at least not many) new programs to my already full dvr.

I did, however, make an exception for two newcomers: “The Good Doctor” & “Young Sheldon” and one old favorite back by popular demand, “Will & Grace.”

“The Good Doctor” (ABC):  According to ABC, “Freddie Highmore plays Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital's surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues.”

The pilot was just riveting enough to hold my interest and had just the right balance of sentimentality to not play with our heart strings too much. It goes without saying that you have to suspend belief in order to buy into the whole premise, and there are one or two minor plot points I have to pick at. First of all, no one asks to see credentials when Shaun is at the airport and about to operate on a young boy covered in glass shrapnel from a fallen sign. But later no one will let him in to the hospital, and Shaun never once tells anyone who he is (that could be down to the autism though). Also, Shaun meticulously sterilizes the wound and all the tools, except for the knife (unless that was done off camera).

I plan to stay tuned for now, but not sure I hold out high hopes for this show after the failure (last year) of a similar show about a young, revolutionary doctor with a rare disease that opened a hospital for all the patients science gave up on, called “Pure Genius.” (CBS)

Since I love “Big Bang Theory,” of course I was going to tune in to “Young Sheldon,” as I imagine a high percentage of other fans did the same. It’s a pretty simple premise, young Sheldon is a genius who doesn’t have the social skills or a filter between his brain and his mouth to know how to properly communicate with people. This is often a problem for the more grown up Sheldon in “Big Bang Theory” too, but thanks to help from his former roommate, Leonard, and his new fiancĂ©e, Amy, he’s learning.

Depending on the quality of the writing and my time and patience, I plan to stay tuned for now, but I wasn’t blown away by the pilot, as much as I wanted to be (perhaps my expectations were too high).

I eagerly awaited the return of “Will & Grace” (NBC) and I can honestly say they haven’t lost their touch. The writing is still stellar, the acting spot on, and the whole package just a joy to take in. Though I’m not really a fan of our choice of President, if we can attribute his taking office to the reason for “Will & Grace” returning to the airwaves, then thank you very much DT. However, I don’t think one had anything to do with the other, but DT provided much fodder for a very witty first episode.

Loved the bit when Grace was trying to match a swatch to DT’s hair and pulls out a bag of Cheetos. “Yep, close enough!” (holding up a Cheeto to the swatch).

Part of me is really happy the show is back (though only in a limited run), but another part of me feels like wasn’t 8 years enough? (apparently not). Either way, I will stay tuned and try to be grateful for this brief resurrection. Can’t wait for the “Roseanne” reboot next year.

I love this excerpt from Slate, “…So the best Trump joke of the pilot is not the hat, nor is it the Cheetos bit, or the impeachment reference. It’s the red-hot burn of the idea that Trump has so lowered the significance of the Oval Office, has so utterly deflated our expectations for what takes place in that room, has so thoroughly diminished any anticipation of respect or awe, that an utterly normal, irreverent episode of Will & Grace could be set there. It’s not that there’s no dissonance whatsoever; there’s absolutely an “I can’t believe they’re doing this” element to the entire plot, and to all the scenes set at the White House. But that disbelief doesn’t come out of shock that they’re disrespecting the solemnity of the office. It comes out of the dissonance of hearing that oh-so-familiar patter once again, set against a backdrop of gold curtains and a curved wall. It comes out of how ordinary it all feels, and how ultimately fluffy.”

Also loved this bit from Slate, “The jokes that land best are the ones that use Trump as a lens to make fun of our fearless foursome, like when Karen tells Grace that Melania asked if Grace was pretty and she replied, “She’s no threat.” Or when Karen was in the Oval Office and asked the waiter to fill up her martini glass. “Don’t give me the Laura Bush pour. I want the full Pat Nixon.” The cheapest shots are things like Trump having a Russian-to-English dictionary on his desk or having the complexion of Cheetos — two jokes that are so stale that, if they were crackers, not even a starving pigeon would eat them off the street.”

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Apple Picking Time...

It’s that time of year again – apple picking (later pumpkins & whatever else). I suppose our main motivation for picking apples is to make applesauce, which is one of Andrew’s favorites (it wasn’t one of mine until I tasted a batch Andrew once made and that definitely won me over).

We decided to go to Lynd’s Fruit Farm which is out in Pataskala, (about a 30 min drive). I had previously been there with my mom, sister and my sister’s friend, Amanda. I remember filling our bags until they were pretty much overflowing, so I reminded Andrew of that tradition – along with the tradition of eating one of the apples fresh off the tree (they encourage that).

Since the temperature is still very summer-like with an expected high of around 90 degrees, we decided to arrive sooner rather than later. Luckily we didn’t have too much competition as there were plenty of apples to go around (and plenty on the ground).

We started out with the Golden Delicious apples because they were pretty easy to distinguish from all of the red apples. We filled about half a bag before moving on to one of the other varieties. Although there was a blue ribbon to mark the location of one of the other kinds of apples, apparently there was another variety just mixed in with those, so we weren’t exactly sure what we were picking, but Andrew noticed the shape of the leaves was different between trees, so kudos for power of observation. I figured it didn’t matter anyway since they’ll probably all get mixed together when we make applesauce and whatever else.

Probably my favorite part was when we went to the farm store afterwards. I remember there being lots of good stuff inside and outside, so before we went in Andrew and I split an apple fritter. Among other things inside, I selected one of my favorite seasonal delights, a fry pie (strawberry rhubarb), a container of natural peanut butter, a red pepper (to cook with later in the week), and a jar of jam (Cinnamon Pear). Andrew selected a couple bags of flavored noodles and a package of bacon (which he later fried up and made himself a couple bacon buttys).

Andrew told me he expects one apple-related dessert every night now since we have like 10 pounds of apples rotting in our basement now. Lucky for him I have an extensive collection of recipes with a half a chapter in my dessert collection dedicated especially to apples, so I better get baking…

Have a good week everyone!