Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Inside the Country Fair

After seeing my last post I know you were thinking, "I really want to know more about the Country Fair". So, I will tell you about it!

My booth used to be just the Ice Cream Booth. Mom and Dad actually ran it until Mom got asked to be on the "Big 6" years ago. Then I took over. In 2002 we grossed $417 for the whole fair. The following year we started selling smoothies. This year Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday we grossed over $440 EACH night! (Not Saturday because we had yucky rain).

The Smoothies we sell come in half gallon concentrates. They need to be mixed one part mix to 3 parts water. The first year we did that we got a big bucket, poured in the concentrate, filled it with water, poured it into pitchers, poured the pitchers into the machines and made a big mess everywhere. There was also a funnel involved at some point. Throughout the years we have refined the process and it is much less messy and much more efficient.

During the messy years, our pastor learned that if he didn't cover his washer and dryer with a plastic tablecloth, there would be quite a mess in there. It is actually in his laundry room that the smoothie mixes are made! We don't really make a mess anymore, but he is still proactive. Actually this year other people made a mess in there and I kept cleaning it up. That was a little annoying.

Here is the *new* sign for our booth. We were super excited about it.

How exactly do we make the smoothies you ask? I will show you!

Here I am filling the empty jugs with water. First we pour the concentrate into 2 1-gallon containers. Then we fill up the rest of the container with water. We use a food grade hose attached to the sink. It is quite an art being able to fill up the jugs without making a ginormous mess everywhere. But we are professionals now!

Here is Amy pushing our many jugs out of the basement, up the ramp, and into booth.

Here I am filling the smoothie machines with our mix.

Oh? You wanted to know what the front of the machines look like?
Here they are!

And here is what they look like from the top. This is where we pour the mix we have made.

And this is where we store the extra mix. The smoothie machines need to be filled up several times an hour to keep them frozen enough to serve. So we are constantly making mix and constantly re-filling the machines. Luckily this year we had an extra refrigerator to store the mix in. Otherwise we have a crazy cooler situation and have to use ice and store it in the cooler you can see on the left. This is the cooler we lovingly refer to as "The Coffin" because...it looks like one!

Here we are standing in front of our new sign!
Steph and Amy-Chairs of the Cool Delights Committee
There is also a picture of me sharing Amy's first alcoholic beverage of any Country Fair with her. She just turned 21 and I was excited to buy her her first Country Fair drink!

This is just a neat picture dad took of the Ferris Wheel from atop the slide!

My artsy shot of the Ferris Wheel before we rode it.

I have not ridden on a ride at Country Fair since I was a kid. It surely has been over 10 years. Probably more. This year Adam suggested we take a ride on the Ferris Wheel and I was all about it. His brother Tony and his wife Jessica came by on Sunday night and we rode it with them.

On Sunday night the fair closes at 10:00. Just before that, little worker bees start working and tearing everything down. Pretty much the WHOLE fair comes down that night. What takes days to prepare all comes down by 11:22 (that was the time last night). We missed the record 11:15 by 7 minutes. We work in our booth cleaning and sanitizing everything, carrying buckets of water back and forth to do so and putting everything away for next year. Everyone else runs around taking down tents, booths, and anything and everything that is around.

Even Adam has a job during tear down. He goes to borrow the bucket truck from work and is in charge of taking down the speaker system. I think he loved me taking picture of him doing this in front of all of the men working.
The best part of tear down is the free pizza and beer afterwards for the workers. Well actually during all of this, the women all go upstairs and have chocolate, cheese, and wine. Now I love those things. Especially the cheese and wine part. But...since I am part of the "man" group that is tearing down booths (because no one else is going to clean up my booth if I don't), a few years ago I declared that I preferred pizza and beer to cheese and wine after the Country Fair. It just seems more appropriate after all of that hard work. So that is what I was doing until 12:30 on Sunday night. I still had to get up on Monday morning to teach all of my little preschoolers (who require a lot of attention) summer school. But I came home and took a 2 hour nap!
So that folks, is the Country Fair. Although it is busy and I spend lots of money and I don't get any sleep....and I get mad when people don't follow the rules and I tattle when I see other booths not doing what they are supposed to be doing....

I love it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dumbo and an Eggroll

Last week was the annual Country Fair at my church. For a church, it is a rather large scale carnival with rides, games, yummy food, drinks, and entertainment. I have been running the Ice Cream and Smoothie booth for many years. I recently tried to figure out how many. I think it has been more than 8. But I don't know for sure. A couple years ago I asked Amy to be on the Committee with me because she is an enormous help and I can rely on her to make smoothie mix and run the booth and she totally deserves a t-shirt for what she does. (Only committee chairs get a Country Fair t-shirt.)
Country Fair time means spending lots of money, eating dinner at the fair every night, getting little sleep and having lots of fun! It is also a huge fundraiser for the church. Which is why I don't mind the spending lots of money on food part. It starts on Monday night with set-up. Well...I take that back. It starts in June as soon as the fair is over. The "Big 6" we call them (the ones who run the whole fair), of which mom is a member, start working on next year's fair as soon as this one is over. But the craziness for me starts on the Monday before the fair starts. Monday and Tuesday are set-up days where we set up our booth, clean the smoothie machines, buy ice cream and make smoothie mix. Of course ordering and scheduling come before that....but I like all those organizational pieces. Then the fair runs Wednesday through Sunday.
I just had to post this picture because it made me laugh. On Monday, Amy and I got to the fair and saw Dumbo hanging out on the lawn of the church. Clearly he belonged to a ride...but he wasn't attached and he looked so cute. So the Carnies (those who work for the ride company) looked at my strangely as I took a picture.

Here is a picture of the fair!

And here was my big excitement this year!
An egg roll!
Not just an ordinary egg roll.
A vegetarian egg roll!
That doesn't happen very often.
As I mentioned, there are many yummy food booths. There is a Mexican Food Booth (called "Holy Taco"), Pizza, Filipino Food Booth, American Food Booth, Corn, Fruit Water, and Ice Cream and Smoothies. I have never been able to try to eggrolls from the Filipino Food Booth because they contain ground beef. I have *never been able to have eggrolls or spring rolls from any restaurant because they always contain meat or beef base or something.
*By "never" I mean since I have chosen to be a vegetarian. Which was in 8th grade. So it was a very long time ago.
This year the chair of the Filipino Food Booth (ahead of time) made vegetarian eggrolls for me. I was so excited! And touched. I was able to have a Delicious egg roll! Yum. I had several throughout the fair.
And Sunday, when I was eating my eggroll, we are just going to pretend that I did NOT find pieces of ground beef in my mostly vegetarian eggroll and spit it out in my napkin and then proceed to pull it all apart and only eat the very healthy fried outside part and let Amy eat all of the insides.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weeding, planting, and sunburn!

Disclaimer: Sorry Erin, this is another garden post!

In the midst of Country Fair craziness and over 100 degree weather with the heat index Amy and I braved the heat and tiredness and went to work in the little garden. It was in major need of some weeding and the last little bit of planting. We worked in the garden from 1:00-4:15 on Thursday afternoon and probably EACH sweated off 14 pounds. It was truly disgusting. It wasn't so bad when we were leaned over planting or weeding, but then when we stood up, it all ran down your face. I so wanted an 80s sweatband. I am so grateful for Amy's help because I wouldn't have gotten nearly as much done. We keep each other motivated and it is much more bearable when someone else is there. Don't worry, we each drank several bottles of water. We did well on the hydration part....but not so much on the sun protection part. We put sun screen on (and I even bought sweat proof!) but forgot the part of the directions that said in sweaty conditions it only lasts 80 minutes. And BOY were WE in sweaty conditions! So now I have a major and very painful sunburn on my back. I kept trying to tell myself that Erin is in 120 degree weather dressed from head to toe...but I was still hot...and sweaty!

On to the pictures!

This is a sugar snap pea plant. The crazy grass and weeds grew up all around the row where I planted them. We almost didn't even touch that row because it looked like a lost cause. When the plants are little I don't like to weed because I don't want to accidentally pull a plant, however, that causes crazy overgrowth by the time I am ready to weed. But...as we are really good at motivating each other, we attached it with gusto. We started by pulling the grass (because we know what that is) and suddenly I said, "AMY! Look at this!" and we noticed these in a row. We were SO excited and they are rather tall. Amy took some time to stake them up. Neither of us have grown sugar snap peas before, but they are one of my favorite vegetables! We also planted more of these.

My prized onions! There are two rows now and we planted 2 more more. We are going to have onions coming out of our ying yangs soon! But look how healthy they are!

A strawberry plant with a strawberry growing! We actually have a red strawberry on one, but it is moldy. We think it was sitting in standing water in the crazy rain last week.

Grandpa! This is one of your green onions! I told you on Father's Day that they weren't growing, but we found a few. Apparently green onions are a bit finicky. But we have a couple. We also planted another row.

This MAY be a carrot. We aren't really sure. We also had overgrowth in the carrot row and once we got to weeding we found a few of these little plants. They look like carrot foliage. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Our strong and healthy potato plants. I am so amazed that there is an underground village of potatoes growing. I think it is crazy that each plant produces so many potatoes!

This may or may not be a cucumber plant. We are leaning towards may not, but we are also optimistic. We have had BAD luck with the cucumbers this year. As I said last time, we just rototilled one of the sections under because there ain't nothing growing there. This section had a few of these weeds that we are trying to convince ourselves MAY be cucumbers. In any case, I replanted the bad section with 2 rows of cucumbers and planted some in this section as well between the phantom cucumber/weed plants. Here is a little cucumber last year, what is your vote? Are these cucumbers?

Healthy tomato plants!
So I just need to say that on Thursday when we were working in the garden and doing some planting, I was thinking about how all of this works. Isn't it amazing that you can plant this tiny speck in the ground (in the case of a carrot) or something half the size of a pencil eraser (like a cucumber) and get a huge plant? Isn't it amazing? I don't know the biology behind plants growing, but to me it is truly a sign of God. This tiny little speck grows into a plant that produces food! A little cucumber seed can grow into a long viney plant that produces 20 cucumbers! It reminds me of the end of the school year when we had caterpillars that turned into butterflies. Again, if I didn't believe in God already, I would have no doubt after watching that process. These teeny tiny caterpillars eat a bunch of food, go hang upside down, their bodies change, they sit for a week, and suddenly, out of this tiny little hard chrysalis comes a beautiful butterfly! How does that big butterfly come out of the tiny chrysalis? How does its wings fit inside? How does it change? It is truly amazing to me and truly a sign that God is present.

In other news, on Wednesday I finally got around to making the garden in front of my house beautiful. Last year this is what it looked like. Two years ago I ripped out the ugly alien-like fern plants that overtook the whole thing. In the spring this year, I ripped out the big ugly evergreen bushes that weren't so healthy looking. I started to plant about 2 weeks ago, but then realized that I was in dire need of some more soil. It is way too wet and when it rains, all of the water sits there. So over the last few days, Adam brought soil from his house, we mixed it with peat moss I bought and built up the bed. I am hoping this will stop the water from pooling by the side of my house.

Oh yeah, but "we", I meant "Adam" mixed up the dirt and peat moss.

But I planted some pretty bushes, daylilies and hostas and now it is very nice looking! Now I am proud of all my gardens at my house.

My other project on Wednesday was planting grass seed in front of my house. Last fall they ripped out the sidewalk and replaced my front porch but never came back to replant the grass. I was going to talk to the association about it, but then I had leftover grass seed from planting grass in cups for summer school and decided just to try my hand at grass planting myself. We shall see what happens. Will I grow grass? I will keep you updated!

Last, but not least, look at my pretty pots! Amy, this is the snapdragon I told you about. They are all curving like this! Do they always do this? They are very pretty!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Looking Back Blog Carnival-Easter (Easter 2006)

This post is a part of 20SB’s Looking Back Blog Carnival, and Ben & Jerry’s is awarding free ice cream to lucky bloggers and readers!

Read about it here

The rules of this state that I had to find a post from my first months blogging and post it. So...I looked back on my first blog posts and they are all super boring! I never used to WRITE anything. Sometimes I had brief captions for the pictures, however, often there wasn't anything! Like this post! Just some pictures of Easter. No words. No notes. No stories. I did have a family website before this blog, but it is long gone, so I am taking a post from this blog. I guess it was fairly recently that I started actually writing on my blog. I think it was when I made the transition from it being a "family" blog where I posted pictures of everyone (which people stopped sending me when they started sharing their own pictures) to just pictures and stories about fabulous ME!


We love banquet food!

So we spent Saturday afternoon at my pastor's farewell luncheon, left there and promptly headed out to my friend from work, Mikee's wedding! Unfortunately we had to miss the ceremony because we were still at the goodbye luncheon. I love the ceremony part, so that was a bummer. But Mikee was beautiful and I am so happy that I got to spend the evening with her and Dusty!

We had a lot of fun and Erin and I drank quite a bit of wine. We really just didn't want all of that wine to go to waste. If we left it on the tables, then it would just be thrown out. We didn't want that to happen because that is their hard earned money!

The card I made for them.

Flowers in water again....I think I am loving this!

The cake. And it wasn't even fondant! You couldn't tell from far away.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Dusty B!

Cute favors. They are huge White Sox fans.

The head table.

As I mentioned, Erin and I didn't want the wine they bought to go to waste, so after we finished the wine at our table, we headed around the room (with Mikee's blessing) and grabbed bottles from empty tables.

The girls from work!

Me and my honey
(Again, I was taking notes on my phone all night)

At one point we headed back to our table after dancing and they had removed all of our glasses. We REALLY didn't want that wine to go to waste, so we sucked it up and consumed it anyway.
We had a really good time and truly, I felt fine the next day! Adam says I shouldn't have been telling my friends, "You better stay this late at our wedding!". Erin says I was a wine pusher and Adam says I was a wedding pusher! Oh well. It was lots of fun and it is not often that we get to all hang out as a group!
Congrats Mikee and Dusty!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Adam and I met Mom and Dad and Grandpa for a yummy breakfast buffet. Then we headed back to Mom and Dad's house to chat on the phone with Erin and open presents. It was great to catch up with her even though we were only able to video chat for a short time before the connection ended.

After that Adam and I headed to his parents house for a dinner with his family. If I take too many pictures they accuse me of being like their mom, so I try to control myself with them.
Happy Father's Day to all the dad, granddads, soon-to-be dads, and want to be dads out there!