Thursday, August 31, 2017

Nebraska State Fair 2017-and Giveaway

Happy 150th Birthday, Nebraska. What better place to throw a statewide party than the fairgrounds in Grand Island? And what a party it was! We had a blast!
We met The Sower from atop the Capitol building in Lincoln, though he was the silent type and didn't have much to say.

 There was even a display devoted to me!  It was also "Older Nebraskans Day" which meant I wasn't the oldest person in the room for a change.
 The fair had many educational exhibits...
 I'll say that's a small animal...looks like a single cell to me.
The winners from the horticulture division.
Creative use of junked auto parts in woodworking (I loved this).
But the real reason we went was to gawk at Danny's entries. These four were his including the best of division. In total, he had 57 ribbons-23 of which were blue. It would be an understatement to say he's over the moon. We are too, but we were already proud of him, ribbons or not.
This here is what's left of the poppy seeds tea ring. Best of division. It was a large tea ring when he entered it...I guess the judges really liked it. This was his second year winning the tea ring competition. Can he do a threepeat next year? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he probably will.
 Decorated Nebraska 150 cookies...
 ...a cinnamon bun that looked better a week ago (sitting in the cases on display doesn't do baked goods any favours)
 ...and the beehive. I was disappointed the didn't cut into it as it contains a whopping two cups of honey and it was expensive to make-maybe they took a taste from the underside. It would be a shame to have skipped trying a cake that tasted as good as it looked.
There's Danny totaling up his wins in the various cases. He's estimating it should be around $300. USD in winnings which is convenient as he's looking to buy a new camera for birding. He's threatening to enter the photography contests next year.
 I took some pies to the fair, as you do.
 This was my plum pie-it came in fourth (I entered it in "Other" fruit pies, and it lost out to raspberry). The apple came second, the cherry second, and the rhubarb strawberry below was my first place pie. It was a surprise as it was the pie I thought would be least likely to ribbon. Go figure!

It turned out this year that the champion of previous years is no longer competing as she's now running a bakery. I don't know if the rules changed, but I think it was all for the good as it was discouraging to think I'd have to compete with a pro. I had a hard enough time against amateurs! We have some very skilled pie bakers in Nebraska.
The pies are judged live on stage, and believe me, it is nerve wracking! The woman sitting in front of me in this photo won best overall pie for her cherry entry-and it deserved it! I never saw such a beautiful pie. We were joking that it was a little like listening to someone being critical of your children, but in the end, there is good, useful criticism offered. It was great fun, and I'm happy to have the ribbons, but I don't think I'd do it again. I'll leave the baking to Danny.
There it is in the case. They only display a slice so you can take home the remainder of your pies. We're going to be eating a lot of pie over the next few days!
I LOVED this entry-it wasn't ours. That's an excellent use of cookies! I might be a bit biased, but the Open Class entries at the Nebraska State Fair are always spectacular. To be honest, the exhibits at the 4-H building are equally impressive-those 4-H kids know their stuff! Don't believe it? Maybe you should get yourself to Nebraska for the State Fair and see for yourself.
 But make certain you wear your very best hat. As in previous years, I have a Nebraska State Fair cookbook with last year's winning entries available for the drawing winner, and this year I've also included a Nebraska 150 tea towel. Drawing is open worldwide, so leave a comment by Midnight CST 15 September 2017 to be entered.

I took my barn box bag to the fair. It attracted a lot of attention, as did my hat. I'm glad I dressed for the fair as it brought out more than a few smiles. It also brought out a drunk 90-something gentleman exclaiming, "Aren't you cute as a button!" Yeah, well...if you say so gramps.
We had a second loaf of the swirl bread at home, so I packed sandwiches to take with for a lunch picnic. Here's Mr. ETB showing off his lunch made of the same bread as the winning entry. Next year, we should stand in the parking lot handing out slices of prize-winning bread. By the time we get a perfect loaf, there can be as many as six not-so-perfect loaves. Needless to say, we have a freezer full of bread at the moment.

Finally, three cheers for all the employees and volunteers that make the fair such a great success year after year. It is an incredible amount of work that goes into organising and running this fair. Visitors only see that everything runs smoothly so they can experience a great time-behind the scenes there's an army of people working to make the State Fair the fun that it is. If they gave ribbons for hard work it would be blue ribbons all around. Thank You!

Don't forget to enter for your chance at the cookbook and tea towel. I'm already excited for next year!

Monday, August 28, 2017

"You Look Like a Lawyer on the Way to Sue Someone:"

 Okay, but I'm billing for this time.

I wasn't exactly offended by the observation as I was thinking this suit was a wee bit too professional looking for my life at the moment. I couldn't pass up a vintage Pendleton linen suit for $7.99, but I really don't have much occasion to wear it. The skirt will get tonnes of wear though. I recently bought a vintage Dior linen suit in pale pink that is also completely useless for me, but it was too good to skip. I'll try to get that one worn at least once before summer is over.

 Outfit Particulars:
Pendleton vintage linen suit-Goodwill
Laura Ashley sleeveless top-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage clutch-Goodwill
Shoes-K Mart
Pearls-Filene's about 25 years ago
Lippy-Revlon Super Lustrous in Siren (finally, the perfect coral shade for my skin tone!)
Fragrance-L'Air du Temps

I managed to get fifteen miles in today, but I'm really struggling with the crazy schedule I've been keeping and the serious lack of sleep. Thrice in the past week I've woke in the dead of 3 AM with a baking dream. This morning, I woke to the sensation of wrapping a loaf of bread in cling film. I'll be glad to see this over. I don't know why this year seemed worse, though obviously having a flare right in the middle of it all hasn't helped. I'm looking forward to getting my routine back even if I need to work school around it. I hate grading papers, but not as much as I hate doing dishes. I can promise you, I'll never wake in the night dreaming about calculus. Ever.
This plum pie needed five minutes longer to prevent the extra liquid. I've made a note to correct that, otherwise I'm really happy with the pie. Plums are underappreciated in pies, but they're delicious and you can't beat that colour. I might do a spiral top on the final pie to show off the filling. I'm saving my lattice for the cherry pie.

It has been brought to my attention that I have been neglecting the flip-offs of late. Here you go. See you in court on the flip (off) side. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Week of Terrible Photos (but interesting stuff)

Making my way through the World Market on my way to the rear of the store where they keep the beer, I spotted this coffa-like bag. I rarely buy handbags (or much of anything else) new, but it was the only one, and I wanted it. Forty dollars later, it was mine. I think I will remove the pom poms and give it a proper makeover with gold braid and some fringe-but not until the end of summer. I rather like the casual look of the pom poms. So that was my extravagant purchase of the summer-not too bad. 
A somewhat less extravagant purchase was this vintage wood brooch. I know we still have a short time until autumn leaves are an appropriate accessory, but I couldn't resist giving it a wear on an unseasonably cool day earlier this week. 
 Pardon the mirror selfie.
The skirt and top are both true vintage, and I'm sorry I didn't get better photos. Sometimes the Universe conspires against you. 
Outdoors photos weren't much better. Eh, whatever. 
 Here's a look I don't do often...beige.
Pleated  linen trousers, raw silk blouse, big earrings. I've had the Liz Claiborne trousers since the 80's. I've worn them maybe a dozen times, but they're so practical I can't bear to get rid of them, even if rarely worn. Anyway, it was good enough to wear for mini-golf. I won too! We are trying to eek out every last bit of summer before school starts in September.
This was today's outfit. The dress has a matching short-sleeved jacket, but I don't like how it looks. Sometimes, I wear the dress with a vintage kimono, but today I went for this Coldwater Creek jacket I bought years ago but never wore.
 The sleeveless dress doesn't really require a jacket as it is bias cut and looks less like a sack than long waist-less dresses typically do. I had a bit of business to attend to today though, and I thought doing my best, "Authoritative old lady" look would make things easier. It did, but I still resent the fact I need to dress like Iris Apfel to get taken seriously in middle-class circles. Not that there's anything wrong with dressing like Iris Apfel. I just wish it were more choice than obligation. I also had to channel my mum and start my sentences with, "What you need to do" as I find idiots respond better to instructions than open-ended requests. To ensure a good performance, I did my very best Katharine Hepburn-esque New England accent. Sigh, the lengths one must go to getting a refund for a faulty pastry cutter at Sur la Table without their receipt! When the revolution comes there's gonna be free pastry cutters (that work) for everyone, and we can dress however the fuck we want, whenever the fuck we want, comrades.
 Flapper comb...
... giant faux jet necklace.
I'm spending the weekend resting after all the sleep deprivation of the past few weeks, then Wednesday is the big pie event. I've perfected my sour cherry pie, and my plum, but the apple is worrying me a bit. In the U.S. apple pie has both a top and bottom pastry which does change things a bit. I've come to understand when baking for contests it is best to give people the pie they want rather than the one you think they should! That said, I really don't like cornstarch (cornflour) as a pie thickener, so I'm likely sticking with quick cooking tapioca. Just for the family, I use flour in apple pie, but for the fair I suspect they're looking for something clear and thick. *Shrugs*. I just found out that the woman who dominates the contest year after year is a professional pie baker with a business selling pies. Right. There's nothing in the rules prohibiting a professional from entering, so I can't blame her. Knowing this does make me feel better about having my arse inevitably served back to me on an 8 inch pie plate!

Okay, maybe next week will bring better lighting and better photos. I know when to call it a day! 
Okay, g'night. See you later. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Sun (and kolaches)

As luck would have it, drop-off day for Danny's state fair entries was the day of the eclipse-and Grand Island was smack-dab in the middle of totality. After getting his entries in, we stuck around in town to join everyone else in hoping the clouds would clear in time for the eclipse. They did-and it was two minutes of breathtaking viewing. I didn't think fiddling with my camera was how I wanted to experience it, so I just watched it instead­čśÄ. Here, Danny is showing you with a kolache what it looks like when you see the sun's corona around the moon. You get the idea. 
Yeah, that was cool. The five hour drive home through standstill traffic on I-80 was a drag, but in the end, obviously worth it. We go back to Grand Island next week with my pies for the live event, and we'll be able to find out how Danny's entries did. I'm expecting he will be bringing home some ribbons. 
When the fair opens, the hall will be filled with exhibits. This is Danny's beehive honey cake covered in candied borage leaves. There's a cup and a half of honey in the cake and another 3/4 cup in the honey/lemon glaze. This was for a contest sponsored by the Nebraska Beekeepers. 

The photos really don't do the cake justice. I hope he wins a ribbon for it.
By the end of the day those tables will be covered with entries for judging. We were the second to arrive. Now that's done-onward to the pie baking!
I made a quick visit to the Grand Island Goodwill before the eclipse and found two pair of vintage earrings. There was a necklace that matched the pink ones that I didn't buy as it was long. If it is still there next week, maybe I'll get it-I really shouldn't quibble over a buck. I don't wear a lot of long necklaces, generally. 
Today, I've been slowly returning to a normal (ish) routine. I washed my hair for the first time in over a week, so that's something. Maybe I'll find 15 minutes to give it a trim as well. 

 I finally wore this polyester dress I bought months ago. The heavy polyester knit isn't great in summer temperatures, but the short sleeves won't do much in winter. We've been unseasonably cool this week, so I took advantage of the weather to try this dress out. I like it, though the matching tie-belt does seem to disappear in the pattern.

 Outfit Particulars:
1960's polyester dress-Goodwill
Shoes-K Mart
Vintage handbag-Goodwill
Fragrance-Patou Caline (it reminds me of Parure. Not a dupe, but in the same spirit)
I'll leave you with a look at my new sweatshirt. I don't need a shirt to encourage me to do what I've essentially been doing my entire life, but it was soft, warm, and inexpensive. I picked this up at Target when I bought the unicorn leggings. It got a laugh from the woman ahead of me waiting to pay when she realised I was buying them for myself, not a child. Yeah well, like the shirt says. 

I'm taking a few days to relax before the pie-a-thon begins. The Nebraska State Fair runs 25 August-4 September 2017.