Sunday, June 29, 2008

Now That's Italian!

So we actually found a good Italian restaurant down here. It's in Troutman of all places - which is sort of random - but it is nonetheless, actually good.

It's called Pellegrino's Trattoria and the owners are from New Jersey and all owned several Italian restaurants up there. Many of their ingredients are sourced from New Jersey and they even make their own mozzarella on site.

Marty & I ate there last Wednesday and it was only their second day being open. In fact - with no air conditioning, no curtains on the windows and still waiting on their wine delivery it was more of a soft opening but the place was still packed. Besides being a tad warm, the biggest problem was that the staff was not 100% familiar with the menu and our waitress messed up on 2 of our dishes.

I wish I'd paid more attention to the menu so I could describe it in detail but rather than recite the menu, I can tell you what we ate.

First of all, the bread was really good. Crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside with a nice dusting of semolina, it reminded of the good bread we used to get up in Hoboken.

My salad was fine - nothing to write home about. Marty ordered a Caprese salad to start (mozzarella and tomatoes) but the waitress got confused and brought out a prosciutto stuffed mozzarella that was fried and served over mixed greens. It was actually delicious and we were grateful for her screw-up. Marty eventually got his Caprese which was simple yet delicious.

I had ordered a side of broccoli rabe with my entree. Although you see lots of dark leafy greens down here (collard, dandelion, mustard, chichory, etc.) you don't ever see broccoli rabe which I absolutely love and could eat by the pound. It came out on its own (the timing in the kitchen was a wee bit off - another pitfall of being there during a soft opening) and it wasn't bad. The biggest problem was that the rabe didn't have a lot of flowers on it. But besides that it was well cooked.

Marty had shrimp parmigiana for his entree. I didn't taste it but I will take his word for it that it was good. I had ordered a veal dish that was supposed to be breaded, topped with mozzarella and prosciutto and served with tomato sauce. I apparently confused our waitress when I ordered it by it's name on the menu (vitello maximillian or something like that) and she wound up bringing me a veal dish with prosciutto, shiitakes and served in a brown sauce. It was actually still very delicious and although even though it wasn't what I ordered.

I can assure you that Marty and I will be back within a few weeks. There were a number of tasty looking pastas on the menu (a number of people were eating the lasagna which looked awesome), home made pizzas (which also looked awesome) and because this is in Troutman, NC - they have the prerequisite hot wings.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Look How Far We've Come

So we're not quite halfway through the year - but we're pretty darn close and I wanted to take a minute to reflect on my first post of the year when I wrote about the never-ending list of things to do around the house.

169 days later, here's what we've accomplished:

* Both buildings have been completely cleaned out. The larger side is now officially a garage and the smaller side is storage (which still needs to be organized but at least all of the stff in there we want or need).

* The buildings also have power which means....electronic garage door opener. I've never had one before - it's truly exciting.

* We have power and water at the barn.

* All of our window treatments are complete pending one topper for the living room.

* Only 1 or 2 lighting fixtures left to change out.

* The deck has been built.

* Landscaping in the front of the house including mulch beds and some tree trimming.

These are all seriously huge accomplishments. Still on the list is the purple bathroom (we're getting to it, I promise) and we're making some changes to the living room (new paint, new floors) but I expect both of these projects to be completed sooner rather than later.

All in all, I am so happy with the progress.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stall Stripping

So yesterday I stripped Dixie's stall and let me just say it is not something I plan to do again any time soon.

The whole motivation for the stripping was to switch her over from straw to shavings. We've been told by a number of people (mainly horse owners) that shavings are better than straw and when I was out at Hillside the other week picking up feed, I saw that they sold shavings pre-bagged. One of the reasons I had been hesitant to make the switch originally was that I thought we had to buy the shavings loose which would have required the use of the pick-up truck and ever since Marty put a lift kit on it and giant wheels I have a hard time driving it. But pre-bagged shavings? Problem solved.

I drove out to Hillside yesterday morning and they loaded up the Blazer with 6 bags of shavings. The thought was that it would take 4 - maybe 4-1/2 bags to cover the stall (which at 180 square feet is bigger than some NYC apartments) and we would have some extra. Not that I mind the drive to Hillside all that much - but I'd like to start maintaining some inventory of supplies because I feel like I am running to one farm supply store or another every week.

The other thing I needed to get was lime. Hydrated lime specifically. You sprinkle this over the ground once the stall has been stripped and it helps absorb the ammonia odors that build up in the ground. Hillside doesn't sell hydrated lime so I also had to stop at the hardware store to pick some up. Now let me just say that it never occurred to me that hydrated lime was anything...bad.

I get to the hardware store and ask where I might find hydrated lime. It was in a garden aisle and came in a 5-lb. resealable yellow bag with pretty pictures of healthy lawns and flowers. Applications and uses included balancing PH levels in soil and yes - helping control odors in animal stalls. The directions were "to apply liberally" so I wasn't sure exactly how much lime I might need but I didn't think that 5 pounds was enough. My choice was to get 2 5-lb. bags for $8 or a 50-lb. bag for $10. I figured I'd go with the bargain. Of course, the 50-lb bags were in the back in the warehouse and the bag I bought was loaded directly into my car so I didn't see the actual product until I got home.

Anyways, the first project was to strip the stall i.e. empty it of every piece of existing straw and waste. That took about an hour. Then it came time to sprinkle the hydrated lime. I dragged the 50-lb bag (rather than plastic and resealable this bag was paper and not resealable) into the stall, opened it up (white lime dust starting to fly everywhere) and took a shovel and started sprinkling it over the dirt. It only took a few sprinkles and more flying white lime dust before I started to cough and have difficulty breathing. I stuck my head outside the stall to breathe some clean air and as I came back in, it was then that I noticed the red writing one the white bag of lime. Words like hazardous. Toxic. May be harmful. Irritation. Do not breathe dust fumes. Wear protective clothing to cover your skin.

Ok - so who thinks that lime is toxic? I certainly didn't and I felt so STUPID. Did my best to finish spreading the lime and then came back into the house and made 3 frantic phone calls to people who might know for sure if lime was indeed toxic and harmful to animals. I even called to guys at Hillside who said don't leave the bag out where the animals can eat it but a little on the ground was not a big deal. Reports on the Internet seemed to indicate otherwise but it was too late. The lime was down.

I let it sit for a few hours (what had been recommended to me and at this point, if I was going to follow 1 recommendation, shouldn't I follow them all?)and later in the afternoon, returned to finish the change-out. This time armed with a mask over my face, I mixed the lime into the dirt and wound up spreading all 6 bags of shavings (so much for inventory) to ensure maximum coverage of the potentially toxic ground underneath.

The stripping completed, I led Dixie in for her first feeding in her new stall. The first thing she did was to start to eat the shavings which lead me to a whole new round of neuroses but I'll save that for another post.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Speak and Be Heard

A Letter to the Editor that I submitted to the Lincoln Times News was published on Monday (of course, I am just now reading the paper...). It was in response to a letter that appeared in the June 11th issue. Sadly, letters to the editor are not available on line so I can't show you the letter I was responding to, but in essence, the reader was complaining about the no-smoking-anywhere-on-school-property policy and what that might mean this fall during football games. He complained about the high cost of gas and having to drive off property just to have a simple smoke during the game and why couldn't he smoke in the end zone away from everybody else. In fact - he suggested that all smokers unite and gather in the end zone at one point to smoke in defiance of this policy which he felt was made in complete disregard for tobacco users everywhere.

Here's what I wrote and what was published on June 16th:

I would like to comment on Bill Auton’s letter published in the June 11th issue of the Lincoln Times News. First of all, I am an ex-smoker and I respect that the choice to smoke or not to smoke is a personal one. However where you smoke is not.

At heart, schools belong to the children who attend them – young, impressionable children who we want to protect from the well-known, scientifically documented, potentially lethal effects of smoking and second hand smoke. Can people really not sit through 4 quarters of a high school football game without having a cigarette? Furthermore, I hate to point out the obvious, but smoking continues to be outlawed in public places of all types throughout the world. Wikipedia has an entire list of smoking bans both in the United States as well as some 65 countries worldwide.

I’ll share a handful:
• According to the site, over 50% of Americans are covered by a ban ordinance of some degree.
• Twenty states have enacted total statewide smoking bans.
• Eleven states have enacted partial smoking bans.
• Bhutan is the only country in the world to have completely outlawed the sale of tobacco products.
• Beijing will implement a smoking ban for the Olympics.
• Cuba has banned smoking in most work places, cigarette machines removed and it has been illegal to sell tobacco products close to schools since 2005.
• Since 2007 smoking bans have been in effect across the whole of the UK.

It is only a matter of time before the North Carolina legislature enacts smoking bans in this state and to be honest, I can’t wait until they do. In the meantime, I applaud the county school board for their decision.

Sarah Paris
Lincolnton, NC

In other news, I think Marty found the hole in the fence and so Peanut and Buster have ended their chronic Harry Houdini routine.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cheating...Just a Smidge

Ok. I am cheating. I am super busy and am just home late last night after 3 days on the road (not a lot by some standards but a lifetime by mine). Wasn't going to post but then dad sent me in the direction of Rude Cactus who blogged on the subject of blogging. It's a really good post - and rather timely seeing as someone recently asked why I blog at all. Rude Cactus summed it up perfectly. So today -please go visit Rude Cactus and I'll be back in the next day or so with something original.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is It Too Late?

Two goats. Two separate instances. Two escapes. All before 9:30am. Is it too late to move back to the city?

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It Doesn't Get Any More Country Than This

Dump runs. Broken down trucks. Bojangles. Nail guns. Poison Ivy. Donkey stalls that require mucking. Escaping goats. It doesn't get any more country than this kids. Seriously - I am in the throes of a full on Country Girl Saturday.

My day started with a dump run. I don't know how but Marty & I generate serious amounts of trash and since we live outside the city limits, we are responsible for getting our trash to the dump. Saturdays are a bad day to go to the dump because EVERYONE goes to the dump on Saturdays, but I had no choice. When it's this hot, you don't want bags of trash sitting around.

Of course, when I started the truck, I noticed that the battery light was on. I asked Marty about it and he said that it was no big deal and I should be able to run to the dump and back no problem. Well - he was half right. I made it to the dump, but when I turned out to come home, the truck died. It needed to be jumped THREE times in order to get home.

Meanwhile, my in-laws are here and my father in-law Boyce, Marty & Steve have been hard at work the last few days building a new deck on the back of the house. Today was the day they laid the decking and I was told that I had to nail at least one row of nails. Just me and a trusty nail gun. Actually - it was no big deal and there were pretty purple lines that had been drawn showing me exactly where to nail. Or so I thought. Turns out, the line I was on was not in line with the underlying stud so my entire row of nails - useless. Come visit and stick your head under the deck one day and I'll show you.

Besides all that, Buster & Peanut have been escaping almost every day for the last week. Not sure how and since the guys have been out back working they have stayed in the pasture. Still - goats escaping daily is a problem we need to figure out.

To top it all off, we have a poison ivy problem which has manifested itself all over Marty's arms (plus a small patch on my left arm) and given the extreme heat, I am mucking Dixie's stall once - sometimes twice - a day to keep the flies around the barn to a minimum. I try to remind myself that I am indeed a Country Girl and that this all goes with the territory but sometime it's tough.

Oh yeah. And I had a Bojangles chicken biscuit for lunch today.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Broke Down

Truck just broke down leaving the dump. Sitting on the side of the road waiting for Marty to come get me. Seems like as good a moment as any to capture for posterity's sake.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

If That Ain't Country - The Video Files

Despite the overwhelming heat, Paris Keeling took the stage at Hog Happenin at high noon yesterday. For those who couldn't be there, here are some video snippets:

I Found


Also - some photo moments from the day:

Seriously - it felt like 104 degrees in the shade...

Marty melting in the heat...but still sounding awesome!

After the show with Pete DeGregory of Academy Street Sound.

Kelly and Nate.

Me having way too much fun despite being so bloody hot.

Kelly and I after our long overdue karaoke duet! Unforgettable...

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Plugging Paris

Hog Happenin' comes to Lincolnton today and there are not 1 but 2 great opportunities to see the Paris males perform.

Tonight at 7:30 on the American Roots Music Stage, ParisCountry performs. This is Marty's cousin Kelly and let me tell you - he can sing!

Then, tomorrow on the main stage at high noon, Paris Keeling plays live!

So come on down to hear some awesome music, eat some BBQ and check out some bikes.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...