Saturday, October 25, 2008

Apple Pie = Home

Chud and I had a wonderful weekend. We hosted our very first get-together at the new house and it was a splendid success. We're so grateful to everyone who stopped by. The weather was beautiful, the food was delish, and family, friends and neighbors were mingling like crazy. It was a wonderful weekend.

I have to say, there was one moment this weekend when I felt particularly nostalgic. All week long we worked on the yard, planned the grocery list, cleaned the house, etc. just so that I could wake up Saturday morning and make a couple of pies. I've been craving pumpkin pie since the leaves started turning, and I can't make the first pie of the year without making an apple pie as well. Why? Because that's the pie Mom makes, and it wouldn't be fall without one. I don't know what I looked forward to more: making the pies or having the party! For me, apple pie is the definition of fall, and as soon as the pie hits the oven, my senses take over and I get teary-eyed thinking about Mom's kitchen. For me, Apple Pie = Home.

Let me give you a little background. My Mom, Joyce, is one of six kids. All of them have their particular talents, but my Mom is "the pie-maker." Every holiday or gathering would not be complete without her apple pie. I remember, when I was little, everyone would make such a fuss over Mom's pies - especially the homemade crusts. Apparently they're pretty hard to do. Growing up, it seemed like every weekend from mid-October to late December was filled with pie making extravaganzas in Mom's kitchen. She had flour flying everywhere, and once she lined the pie pans, the leftover dough was used to make crackers for me and my brother. Pies were just a normal part of our weekend life, and I'm ashamed to say, I didn't really care much about how they were made. Mom tried to teach me, but I had bigger and better things to worry about; like who I was dating, where I was going to college, and what I was going to wear for the weekend.

Once I finally went to college, there weren't many people making apple pies in the dorms. I came home on the weekends with my arms full of laundry, but as soon as I walked in the door, I would drop my basket to the floor and take in a big whiff of Mom's apple pie sitting on the counter. Mmmmm....home. She continued to insist that I learn how to make one, but I was too busy. I had papers to write and beer to drink and semesters abroad to plan. No time for pie.

After I got married, Mom found the exact same 1980 copyright version of her Betty Crocker Cookbook at a yard sale. This was the one with HER crust recipe and she was so excited to find it that she bought it and gave it to me...just in case I ever wanted to try to make a pie. "Thanks," I said, and I stuck it on a shelf.

Last year I found myself craving an apple pie. I knew my first attempt wouldn't be nearly as good as Mom's and I didn't want it to be, because "Mom's Apple Pie" took years of practice to make, but I figured I might as well get started. Don't you know, that pie was pretty good! I took it to school and everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the homemade crust and I started thinking..."Mom might be on to something here."

Well, this weekend was the biggest "Aha" moment for me. As I was tossing the cold water into the flour and salt, I was imagining myself as a tiny little girl, sitting in the kitchen, watching my Mom do the same thing. I started wondering if my Mom watched her Mom do that when she was little, and so on and so on. Then I started putting the pie together and fluting the edges (that's the really hard and impressive part) and I realized that it wasn't that hard at all, because I had seen HER do it so many times before. It was like my hands already knew what to do, just from watching her. It really was amazingly satisfying.

When I put the apple pie in the oven, I started cleaning up the kitchen and finally got a good whiff of the cinnamon and apple goodness coming from the oven. My whole body felt warmer, happier, cozier....just loved. I felt loved. I felt my Mother's love in her 1980's Betty Crocker recipe, I felt my grandmother's love in her six child house; I know it sounds crazy, but I felt like all the women before me finally took a minute to stop and think, "Wow, Rachael's grown up, and she can finally make a pie."

The only test was the party - and folks loved the pies. Pete ate two pieces of the apple pie and I got lots of compliments! All night long I thought about all the traditions my Mom tried to start. She would give me jewelry and say "I hope you give this to your daughter someday; I want it to be an heirloom." She even spent months on a special quilt just for me to give to my kids. She tries so hard to find things to "pass on," but the best thing you could pass on to a kid is something you teach them without even knowing. If it weren't for her, I couldn't begin to make a pie. I'm the worst cook in the world, but since I SAW her do it, I could picture myself doing it, and when I see myself doing it, I picture they way she used to do it, and suddenly - it all makes sense. I don't know why I never wanted to make pies before. I guess it's all a part of growing up and being a Mom and saying to yourself, "This is the way things are done." And when you have a party, you make a pie.

I'm sure I'll try to teach my daughter how to make pies and I'm sure she'll tell me it's silly and she doesn't want to learn. But when she finally gets the gumption to make her own first pie all by herself, I'll be there to reminder her that pies are what we do. Fasciottos and Neltners, we know how to make pies. It won't fix the economy or whisk us off to exotic places, but it makes where ever we are feel like home and that's why we do it.

Apple Pie = Home.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We Were Not "Right for the Fight Today!"

Well, thanks to a lovely lady at my school, Chud and I had four UK Football tickets dropped into our laps on Thursday afternoon. We called Michael and Emily and were not surprised at all when they agreed to go with us. We woke up bright and early this morning to head on over to Lexington, and hence, our UK Football adventures began.

Michael had some free tickets to the Buffallo Trace Burbon tent, so that was our first stop (at 11:00 in the morning). We enjoyed some bourbon before heading to Emily's cousin's tailgating spot in the parking lot. Then we made our way to our seats, and let me tell you, walking in to that stadium was SO exciting! Everyone was cheering, the field looked great, the band was fufilling their pepping duties and all was right with the world.

The first three quarters of the game were very exciting - we were winning, and the sun was shining. Then, in the fourth quarter, our boys suddenly decided that they didn't want to THROW the ball correctly or even CATCH the ball that was improperly thrown. (If you haven't figured it out, I don't know much about football - but I know you have to throw it and catch it to win, and that, our team did not do.)

Regardless of a disspointing loss, we still had a great time!

And if anyone out there ever needs to unload some UK football tickets - you know who to come to. We'll take those off your hands anytime!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Homeowner Heaven Part II

I cannot believe how much we got done today. Mom and Jay came down to help us paint. That was the goal: go to Lowe's, pick out a color, come home and paint the hell out of our front room, dining room and hallway. Yesterday, Chud and I moved the furniture and put painter's tape along all of the baseboards, doorways and windows, just to get ready. So when they arrived this morning, all we had to do was PAINT.

However, since we moved in, both of us have been wanting to tear up the carpet and redo the hardwood floors. This is tricky business. Best case scenario: pull up the carpet to find beautiful hardwood floors underneath that just need a good sanding and waxing. Worst case scenario: pull up the carpet to find hideous floors that would require a professional to come and redo, or that would require a professional to install new carpet.

While we were painting I tried to explain to my mother that beautiful hardwood floors were my goal, but if I had to settle for new carpet, I'd be happy to do that too, because I HATE the carpet that was already on the floor. No, we cannot afford new carpet, and our housewarming party is a few weeks away, but I would make it work. Mom and I went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth about the whole thing until finally I just shouted "Forget it!" and decided to leave the carpet where it was and deal with it later......then I spilled a gallon of paint.

I tossed Mom a rag to wipe some paint off a baseboard and by doing so, knocked over a jar of paint sitting on a piece of funrniture. It didn't just fall to the floor, either. It fell and spread paint ALL across the living room floor: one big splotch in the middle with many small streams radiating from its center. We both started screaming, Chud and Jay ran inside from the yard, and we all looked at each other as if to say, "Well, shit. Now we HAVE to tear up the carpet." Chud was chuckling inside because he wanted nothing more than to tear it up and he didn't want to say "I told you so." Mom and I went outside to clean off the paint supplies while Jay and Chud started the massive tear-up job. I couldn't bear to watch. Before I knew it, Chud came running around the corner of the house and said, "Rach, you have to come see this."

I ran inside and looked down the hallway. Don't you know, the hardwood floors were in PERFECT condition. A few staples here and there, but the holes are undetectable. It was better than "best case scenario." No sanding, no buffing, no NOTHING needed to be done. We worked for a couple of hours and got all of the carpet up, moved the furniture around to tear up the liners along the wall, pulled out all of the staples with pliers, and now we're sitting at home with beautiful hardwood floors all throughout our house. Phew!! Mom swears that God was telling me something when he made me knock over that jar of paint and I believe her. If it weren't for that, we'd still have ugly brown carpet and we'd be calling contractors for estimates on flooring in the spring. How lucky!!

So, by dinner time, we had new paint on the walls and new floors under our feet. It looks like a completely different house. I can't wait for all of you to see it!

Homeowner Heaven

Painter's Tape..................$10
Shower head.....................$18
2 Pumpkins......................$11
Queen sized sheets..............$40

Spending and entire day with my amazing husband-----PRICELESS!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Who is "Joe Six Pack" and Who Exactly Lives on "Main Street"

Did anyone else watch the vice presidential debate? Let me just say, I'm voting for Obama, I think he's going to turn this country around and cure what ails us. I've made fun of Sara Palin ever since she was elected and I still think she's political play-dough for the republicans. However, I have to say, the McCain campaign prepped her well. She was freaking ON tonight and it made me so MAD!! I don't agree with anything she said, but they way she said it, with the references to "soccer games" and "hockey moms" and "darn its" and "you betchas," and the "hey, can I call you Joe?" I thought, damn it! She's winning over tons of people right now! However, whenever she was asked a question, she CHANGED the topic to something else! Sure, she looked at the camera, but she didn't give me any evidence as to how McCain is different from the current administration.

It doesn't matter, though. I've been on board with Obama for the last two years. Joe Biden wasn't amazing, he didn't have any cute quips and he didn't wink at the camera, but he literally outlined (with his "number one....number two" way of speaking) all of the ways that McCain is a poisonous detriment to our country and all of the ways Obama is a beacon of hope, to borrow a Palin term.

I know that no matter who gets elected, my everyday life won't change very much. But I'm so invested in the democratic party at the moment and I'm starting to feel that worrisome pang in my heart. That feeling of..."Oh my god, what are we going to do if Obama isn't our President?"

So, with that note, I encourage anyone to WATCH the debates, to TALK to your friends and family, to READ the newspapers, and to VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE in our next election. I'm finally interested in politics. I'm doing it for my family, I'm doing it for my friends, and I'm doing it for my students and my future children who will someday run this country. For heaven's sake, let's not screw it up even more, people. Our kids will have enough to worry about.

As for Joe Six Pack, I find that reference offensive. As for the Wall St. versus Main Street reference, I still haven't quite figured out if Main Street means "America" or if there really is some Main Street in New York that is useful in measuring the effects of this economic crisis. Any information or advice you might have on the subject would be helpful!