Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Corn Maze!

Hello loyal readers!

I have had a crazy October. Allow me to list the states I have worked in this month: Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina (x2), Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland. Oh yeah, I also went to a conference in New York State. I think I have been home for a week. Not that I am complaining. I have gotten to work on cemeteries, in the city, in the country, and at both prehistoric and historic sites.

I have been a little sleep deprived and my kitten hates me, well, he will get over it and I will catch up at some point. I will won't I? Right?

Before I left for my epic journey, I gathered up some of my dear friends and went a corn mazing!

After a thorough internet search I selected McKee's corn maze outside of Hillsboro.

None of us had ever done this corn maze thing. Here we are at the beginning, ready to head off a journeying..

First we had to go on a tractor ride, hehe!

When we started, we were each given a ticket. In the maze there were stations where we could punch the ticket. The goal was not just to get out, but to complete your ticket. The record was apparently about an hour and a half. 1.5 hours, for truth. This is a grown-up maze.

They have a maze for babies too. Remember the good old days, when life was so much simpler?

We felt we could handle the whole twelve acres. We came in with a plan, in retrospect we probably over thought the maze concept. We also did not account for the randomness of the whole punch stations. It turns out that only turning one direction really will only get you to the exit, not the punch stations.

Julie looks a-mazing (sorry, had to do it).

We got through the whole maze in about 20 minutes! Whoopee! Except, we only had 3 punches. Then, we turned around and started looking for punch stations.

Josephine is so jaunty looking in this picture.

At this point, things started getting frustrating. We were retracing our steps and sending out scouting parties (no joke). When we found a punch station we would get all excited! Energy renewed!

Then the sun started going down. We started getting hungry. Who knew you should pack food and water for a corn maze?

I wish I could tell you we persevered and finished the maze. We has to stop. It was time to eat.

I was feeling a little bad about this until I saw all of the other tickets. Most people gave up after 3 or 4 punches. Wusses!

This was totally a value, about 3 hours of entertainment for only $8.


Somehow wandering amongst the corn stalks managed to feel both wholesome and creepy. It seems like a lot of scary movies involve corn fields. Farms seem so wholesome though.

List item checked off for the win!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Homemade Ginger Syrup + Gin and Ginger Ale

This week has been intense. I was on the road again.

Let me give you the quick version of my week. Monday, I drove to Mobile, Alabama. That is a long way away from North Carolina. I should know. Then on Tuesday there was work to be done in Mobile. Work ended and then I drove to Washington, Georgia. There was approximately 2.5 days of work to be done in Georgia and then I got to go home last night. It was epic. There was stress to be had. I managed to get yelled at, piss a number of people off, and get a wicked sunburn. The job got done. The parking staff of Mobile may be shooting darts at my head as you read this. meh.

Needless to say, I needed a drink when I got home.

I recently discovered my current favorite drink. Did you know that combining gin and ginger ale was extra special delicious?

I used to hate gin. It smelled like cleaning solution to me. Except then I tried it again, it did not taste bad anymore. This may be related to my sudden distaste for rum. As I matured (read, started buying nicer alcohol), I realized rum was too sweet and gin started to taste just right. Then I heard about this magical combination. Ginger Ale? Yes please.

Because I am me and I do not like that corn sugar stuff/the packaging ginger ales come in, I have decided to embark on my own ginger adventure. Well, we also got some ginger in our CSA (community supported agriculture, not confederate states of America, silly) box. That was a sign, clearly.

Homemade Ginger Syrup
This is a pretty simple recipe, that could be modified many fun ways. I basically made it up, but do not give me any credit. It is simple syrup+ginger.

1 root mass of ginger (more ginger = stronger syrup)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups filtered water

1. Chop up the ginger. I did not peel mine because it was fresh ginger from the CSA box, but if you buy ginger that has been sitting around the grocery store for who knows how long I would peel it before chopping.

2. Add ginger, sugar, and water to a medium sauce pan. Turn burner on to medium-low and keep on heat stirring occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Turn heat off and leave the ginger in the syrup to infuse for another 30 minutes.

4. Strain ginger through a sieve. I covered mine with a piece of (non-fuzzy) cloth, 'cause I fear chunks.

5. Now you have syrup! This can be added to tea, stirred into cocktails, mixed with sparkling water for soda, it is a personal decision.

I prefer to mix my new favorite cocktail: one part gin, one part ginger syrup, top off glass with soda water. If I have limes in the house am feeling fancy I squirt a lime wedge in. Then I drink it through a straw.

Life is good.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Carrboro Music Festival

Have I ever talked about how much I love my town? The town of Carrboro was established in 1911 and today the population is about 16,700 people. People talk to each other. There are lots of public spaces that are always full of people living together. We have two bike shops and three coffee shops (possibly more). Sidewalks are full of people walking. It is actually kind of hard for me to describe the way people in this town have managed to create a beautiful, walkable community full of babies, dogs, bikes, the young, and the old. You will just have to visit.

Once a year the town closes down and all of downtown turns into a stage.

180 bands play on every street corner. Some on real stages.
Some in parking lots.
Or in front of stores.

Or in the farmers market town square. That is where I buy my vegetables!

And at restaurants.

The music ranges from country, blue grass, rock, pop, soul, Latin, and everything in between. Every band had an audience and there were almost always people dancing. The best part it that the whole thing is free. It starts at 1 pm and goes until almost midnight.

We went downtown and got some milk shakes. Then walked around to listen to the bands, it was beautiful outside. It was wonderful to wander from stage to stage and watch the town party together.

I think we heard five languages being spoken. This is quite a town. The police officers were directing traffic with a smile. We were even encouraged to jay walk. By a cop. In Denver, she would have given us a ticket. In Carrboro, she laughed and told us to hurry up and have a good day.

The road became a canvas.

There were toys for the children. What does this look like to you?

Never mind. Don't answer that.

The town was full of children. Dancing children, climbing children, it was a family affair.

Events like this make me reflect on how lucky I am to live in such a community. It makes me think that despite our differences, our similarities are really more remarkable. With just an ounce of acceptance and a little bit of music, life is pretty good.

Sorry this post is so cheesy. This is really how I feel, sometimes walking around town causes me to burst into a spontaneous monologue about how wonderful it all is. True story, I am just a cheese ball at heart.