“Take me out…..to the Fair”

June 30, 2010

Catch that cow....at the County Fair!

Come to Simply Bed & Bread and “take her out to …..the Fair,” the County Fair, that is.

The annual Kent County Fair is Thursday, July 15 and Friday, July 16.

Experience the old-fashioned, farm fun of the County Fair!

“And so proudly it waved”

June 28, 2010

I’ve been wracking my brain lately to try to uncover some childhood memories of the Fourth of July, but I’m still pretty blank in that department. I have no idea what we did on our Fourth of July holidays in the 50’s and 60’s. I’m guessing there wasn’t a lot going on–at least, not out on our farm, anyway.

But thinking of the Fourth does make me think of some more generic summer things….like running after the plow behind my father’s old Oliver tractor when he was getting the ground ready for the garden. That must’ve been in the spring, but I have memories of it being hot enough for us to be running around without much on (nobody could see us since we didn’t have any neighbors close by). I can feel the freshly dug dirt, and I can see the worms, newly exposed from their underground worm-work, and I can hear my sister and me squealing and laughing as we tried to catch up with Daddy.

…..I can remember the fireworks at the Harrington Fair, the site of the Delaware State Fair, which was always our big “trip” that we looked forward to each summer. (There was no vacation like so many people have, where a trip is scheduled for a week or two away, so any day trip away from the farm was huge, and was something we all looked forward to.) I can remember the American flag cleary, as it exploded and formed right in front of our eyes over the grandstands at the fair grounds, and thought that was what all fireworks looked like. I have since learned that that is not so. I have only seen fireworks that matched that fairground summer splendor one other time — at Niagara Falls. There was an American flag there as well. You just never forget that.

….Nor will I ever forget the patriotic concert performed by the Air Force Band that we serendipitously happened upon in Williamsburg as we vacationed with our French girls, Magalie and Annabelle, when our own girls were teenagers. The caliber of the playing was unequaled, as far as I could tell, and I was impressed enough to come out of the snit that I’d been in when I had “known” I was right about something, but didn’t end up getting my own way. I’d been outvoted, and forced into another activity–the band concert, which caused us to find ourselves in an open air setting where this band was playing. And it was there that I was transformed. I can see the little old man, a WWII vet, beside his little old wife, as the 80-something, or maybe he was 90-something–gingerly tugged on the flag next to where he was standing, as “Anchors Aweigh” was played. He pulled himself upright, and stood erect, hand over his heart, eyes straight ahead, hand holding onto that outstretched flag as he waved it ever so slightly, until the last bar was done. I, too, was done, when I saw that, although I actually barely saw it, since my own eyes were full of tears. Annabelle had asked me before the “patriotic concert,” “What does patriotism mean?” After that display, I turned to her and said, “That’s what patriotism means.”

Gluten – Free (Part 2) and On My Way To The Farmer’s Market

June 26, 2010

One of the participants in the Bay To Bay Bike Ride tomorrow had to cancel her booking for the night, so we will only have one person here (unless someone else calls at the last minute).  So….since this guest needs a gluten – free diet, I thought, “Cool!  I’ll just concentrate on that, and mix up some goodies before I get out the door to hit the Farmer’s Market.”

So that’s what I did.  Carefully cleaning the counter (it was already clean but I wanted to be extra-vigilant, since one can’t be too careful in the preparation of gluten – free foods), I opened my trusty bag of Bob’s Red Mill gluten – free flour, grabbed my banana bread recipe, along with the very ripe bananas from the fridge, and got going.  It didn’t take long, and before putting the batter in the loaf pan, I got my “lick” from the mixing spoon.  (I always “lick” what I mix up, and have since I was a very little girl — sneaking the licks when my mother’s back was turned — she was quick, but I was quicker), so of course, this batter would be no exception.  Prepared for the usual yummy-ness, you can imagine my surprise (and horror) when it hit my tongue….YUK!  It tasted AWFUL!  I thought, “Hmm…were the bananas too ripe–didn’t know that was possible–I just couldn’t imagine what the problem was except for that flour.”  I was big time bummed.  But I decided, “Well, I’ve gone this far; might as well pop it into the pan, and then the oven, and see if a chemical reaction of heat plus batter would create some kind of culinary miracle.  I wasn’t expecting much.  I figured that when I got back from the Farmer’s Market, I would pitch it into the trash and call it a day. 

So…..on my way to the Farmer’s Market, I passed…..these flowers out in front of my niece’s house, then I saw…..

My niece's flowers

When I passed all of these things at the Market, I zipped on over to the Natural Foods Store to see what commercially-prepared, gluten – free items I could find for our guest, then I went back home.

The banana bread was done.  I smelled it as soon as I stepped back inside the front door, so I tested it, then took it out.  D-Day.  Verdict coming.  I sliced it.  Took the first bite.  ….And I don’t know how this was possible, but it was DELICIOUS!  Wow — every bit as good as the “normal” recipe that I make!  So….I will serve it after all, and I will also mix up a batch of homemade biscuits to serve with breakfast in the morning!  Woo hoo!  Who knew?  And THAT’S the story of Gluten – Free (Part 2) and On My Way To The Farmer’s Market!

“How allergy-friendly are you?”

June 24, 2010

The young woman called a couple of  months ago about the Bay To Bay Bike ride and wondered, “How allergy-friendly are you–I don’t suppose you have any gluten-free foods, do you?”  I said, “Oh, we’re friendly enough for that; we can figure something out!”

When I went to Byler’s near Dover, I found just the thing, well, actually 2 things:  gluten free flour and the xanthan gum needed to use with it.  As soon as I saw it on the shelf I thought, “Yea!  This will be perfect!”

I haven’t yet decided exactly what I’m going to make, but will be making that decision soon, since the Bike Ride is this Sunday.  I’m thinking maybe some blueberry muffins, since the berries are in season, and also because they’ll be easy to eat in the car on the way to the Ride……We’ll see…..

Blueberries

June 24, 2010

L -- a quarter, R -- a blueberry

On the left is a quarter, and on the right, a blueberry.  Our guests went berry picking yesterday at Lockbriar Farms and said that the berry bushes were really full.  It took a very short time to pick as many as they wanted and the berries were huge!

Pink Tea Pot

June 18, 2010

When I walked in the back door yesterday, I yelled in to David, asking my normal question: “Anything new happen while I was gone?” He came out to greet me and said, “Did you order anything from ____,” and he identified the packages that had arrived in the mail for me by giving me a woman’s name. The name was familiar–I knew it belonged to a former B&B guest–and I said, “No,” and asked him to open it, since I was again, still on the run. Inside, were treasures…..

I knew immediately why the packages had come. A conversation I had had with this guest came back to mind, and I dug into it with gusto–not even trying to contain my excitement! She had mentioned that she had been cleaning out some of a relative’s things and that she had items that they coudn’t use within the family and that they might have to be discarded. I had said at that time, “Oh, if those things could end up in the trash, perhaps you could throw them my way.” Well, these were those boxes of “trash,” but they were anything but!

Inside were some vintage linens, including two table cloths that will fit on my dining room table in the B&B area (and this was thrilling because the one I have that was my Aunt Sara’s has a couple of holes in it — usually not a problem since that just adds to the “character” — but they do eventually get past the use stage if there are holes.) So these two will supplement my linens supply and they are just as lovely as Aunt Sara’s! And that was just the beginning, since the two boxes were packed full of things! I pulled the items out, one at a time, unwrapping each, with as much delight as a child at Christmas time. My smile got bigger and bigger as I dug, and my gratitude grew. But I was undone when I saw what else the boxes contained….

Remember: Opening Night was yesterday, the same day that the boxes had arrived. One of those plays is “The Tea Drinkers,” in which I have a “main” part (OK–it is a 10 minute play, and only 3 characters, but I am one of the “tea drinkers”). OK, that’s background. A review. Back to the present, and the unpacking of one of the boxes. What would it mean to you if you found a tea pot and cups and saucers inside of those boxes?

My parents were killed in a car accident when I was 15. So I have never known what it is like to have parents as an adult “child.” Now, I know that is a mixed bag, (and I’ll just let you fill in your own blanks there, but everyone has these), but there is still something about knowing that no matter what you do or are, there are those who are rooting for you–maybe you can’t even hear them but that’s what they are doing. It’s that little kid inside of you who is there, needing that, needing to know that there is at least one person on this earth who is smiling because you’re you and when you’re in a play and it’s Opening Night you go to that little kid place just a tad. But there’s no one around who knew you when you were that little kid. My aunts are gone now, too, and I am now in that oldest generation. BUT… (and there’s always a “but” it seems….and again, you might not know it or be able to see it, but it’s there). BUT at Dress Rehearsal, guess who was in the audience? My drama teacher / director from my high school days–one who knew me when I was an (almost) little kid!

And then the next day there were the boxes.

Now you explain these things. OK? I have my own explanations….but as one of my wise daughters told me once, “Just let the story tell itself.”

Debut

June 17, 2010

It’s hard to say exactly when my actual “debut” has been….Tonight is Opening Night at The Prince Theatre: “Short Attention Span Theatre” — which is a series of 9 10-minute plays. I am in two of them; I have one line in “The Romantic,” and I am Agatha, a tea drinker, in “The Tea Drinkers.” The dress rehearsal was last night and it felt real to me. But was that my “debut” on the Prince stage? I’m not sure….perhaps it was actually yesterday, earlier in the day, when I was in the Cardiac Care Unit at University Hospital in Baltimore. My sister’s heart attack last Friday had set the stage, and yesterday was her birthday, so I had wanted it to be special. I had promised to bring the script and my plan was to ask one of her daughters to read Marsha’s lines, (the other tea drinker was Marsha), but I forgot to stick it in my bag. When I told Bobbi, my sister, she said, “Awww!” very loudly and with obvious disappointment, so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll just go for it.”) So I did. I just played all 3 characters by the side of the bed. I knew I had a very forgiving and appreciative audience so how could the show not go on? I made my entrance, welcoming my sister to the “cruise ship” (she loves cruises), looped my rolled-up sweater around her neck as a “leis,” since she was being welcomed onto the cruise ship to Hawaii, gave her her gifts, and announced that it was Show Time, and so Show Time it was. Seemed to me that this may have been my debut….(unless you count the read through with a set of our B&B guests a couple of weeks ago). I know this: there was applause and the thrill of the “stage,” so I figure that must’ve been it,…especially since it really doesn’t get much better than this. My role as B&B innkeeper, or sister, or Agatha–whatever–it’s all fun, and well, that’s pretty much the point, or at least a big part of it.

Thirty-Five

June 15, 2010

35: that’s how many years my husband and I have been married–as of…today.

We were talking this morning and one thing led to another — you know how that goes — and I found myself telling him about a gift my father had given my mother. I don’t think it was an anniversary present; I think it was for her birthday, but I remember it quite well because I was old enough to be invited to be in on the surprise.

She had wanted a plum-colored dress, so Daddy wanted to get her one. He wasn’t a shopper, and wasn’t much of a buyer either, since there wasn’t a surplus supply of money, especially for plum-colored dresses, but the two of us decided to come up with a plan. Looking back, it really wasn’t all that creative, but at the time, it seemed nothing short of genius, maybe because he went to the store himself (he never did that, but this was big!) and bought some plum-colored fabric. He folded it, tucked a $ 50 bill into the folds, and covered it with tissue paper inside of the box. My job was to wrap it after he put the note inside. And I can remember that note as though it happened yesterday: “Here’s your plum-colored dress, Wifey.” To me, that was warmth, comfort, romance, generosity, care and intimacy wrapped up all in one — in one box full of purple polyester.

Well, I have my own Prince Charming package memory, too. 10 years ago, for our 25th wedding anniversary, David came up with a surprise for me. He made the reservations, and all the detailed plans for a surprise get-away for the two of us to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine (my favorite national park). We didn’t actually go (because of a family emergency), but that didn’t matter at all. It was all the same purple polyester stuff wrapped up for me, the same care, that same special-ness, and it was as good as going. This was a time when truly it was the thought that counted more than the actual trip. And 10 years later, I remember.

The Story In Between

June 8, 2010

pink bling

I wish I’d known this earlier in my life, but I’m learning more and more that sometimes the best stories are the ones in between…..

They drove up as I was shaking the rugs from the kitchen–the last thing I had planned to do before our guests arrived.  It was the four of them–in town for a special family / friend event.

You know how you just know you’re going to really like somebody before you even really know him?  Well, it was like this from the first contact made by the daughter-in-law.  And then when she got out of the van, at quick glance, she looked just like our neighbor’s daughter-in-law, so that cemented my first impression.  Yep, this was going to be a fun family. 

(I might add that this seems to be who comes to Simply Bed & Bread — simply great people!  Today when one of our guests wanted to know who our “typical guest” was, I hesitated for a couple of seconds, while thinking, but could only come up with “nice people.”  Our guests have not all been our age; nor all our daughter’s ages; they’re simply a mix.  And “nice” seemed to be the only common denominator). 

The four family members were kidding one another as soon as they stepped onto the sidewalk with an ease and a grace that invited you in.  I was the official hostess, but they were bringing their “welcome” with them.

The older woman of the two was one of those women who can wear bling.  Her glitz was on the subdued side, but it was just right.  Some women can pull this off and some can’t.  (I have one “official B&B necklace” that I’ve bought that is a wannabe glitz piece, and I’ve worn it some, but it isn’t my normal style.  I like it, though.  Maybe some day I’ll get the hang of this look.  The verdict will be out a while on that one. ) Anyway, on this particular guest (and we’ve had other guests who could do this look), it really did look nice.

They had a full weekend, so they weren’t here much.  But it was enough to underscore my initial feelings.  I was gone when they checked out, but David and Nancy, our assistant innkeeper, were both here, and as soon as I got back, David told me that the older woman, the mom, had left me something. Since I love surprises, I high-tailed it to the stove in the kitchen too see my gift, which is pictured at the top of this post.  There was a slow intake of breath as I took them both in.  I had not only received my first official bling-that-I-really-will-wear, but I had “heard” the “story in between.

Rachel’s “Cry Baby Cakes” Recipe

June 6, 2010

Here’s the recipe in case you want to make these before I get a chance to bake them!

1 cup sugar
1 cup New Orleans molasses
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water poured over 1 T baking soda
5 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
Mix. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes.

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Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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