Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Busy Week, Getting Busier

     Well, it's been a full week since we spoke last. Our first craft fair went well. A bit of a slow start, but that's how it usually goes. We got some good insight as to what will be successful at these shows and what may not be.

     My little brother is here, all the way from Honolulu with his lovely wife and new baby. I am one happy auntie and sister right now. I do miss them terribly. Yeah, I'm sure they're happy in Hawaii, who wouldn't be? But we miss them. So this is an extra special treat. That little nephew is ridiculously cute and has the most wonderful scrunch-faced snort that any little dude could have.

     In their honor we held a huge family dinner. We went old fashioned New England style roast beef supper on them and it was such a hit!! We made roast beef, pan seared scallops, baked beans, brown bread, green bean casserole, mash potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots, gravy and of course pies! No one left hungry, that's for certain, and there were around 30 of us!

     I was also accepted into an Etsy sales team known as EtsyMaineTeam, and am hoping it will help with exposure and sales. Everyone on the team, as you may guess, lives and produces right here in the greatest State in the union, Maine. You know how I feel, local is best, so I'm excited to be apart of the team. It is also forcing me to do a little "housekeeping" on the site which will be wonderful. Check them out and join us for the cash mob on November 8th...you won't even need to change out of your jammies.

     The rest of the week will include taking new pictures and adding new product to the Etsy page. We will also be headed back to New Hampshire to spend more time with my brother and go pumpkin picking. Of course Thursday is Halloween. I have a parent teacher conference and an admissions interview Friday and another craft fair on Saturday. Whew! This week is going to fly by!

     Oh and tomorrow I go in to get my hair colored, for the first time in YEARS! I'm getting back to my crazy funky self and going full pink! Yep, pink! Say what you will, I'm psyched. I'll post pictures, probably to Facebook so check in over the next day or so.

I love being busy, but maybe I've over done it this season. What do you think? Wish me luck!

Simple City Sam

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pears: Part 1

     So we picked the tree clean of pears at GG's house this weekend. The end of the season bounty was huge. We had so many pears! It was such a lucky break too. Things have been especially tight lately and we weren't able to do our usual trip to the apple orchard this year. Pears became a quick substitute when I realized how many we would have. This was even more so when we saw that these pears were very hard and often misshapen. They lent themselves to cooking willingly. We have prepped all the pears at this point and are ready with so many uses. I will cover them all, with all the recipes, I promise.
      First up is dehydrated rings. They are first because they are the easiest and take a long time. It really helps to get an impossibly cute kid to help you. Child labor may be illegal in some parts of the world, but not here in this house!
     I had another major score this weekend when my grandmother gave me an apple peeler/corer/slicer that she found, unopened, at a yard sale. Great news! Just as I suspected, it works with pears too! Hooray.
     For the rings, we prepared 3 pears with the slicing machine. I broke individual rings off using only the ones that were all pretty much the same size. The small pieces I threw in the pot marked for sauce. I laid them out on baking sheets covered in parchment paper and lightly sprinkled them with sugar. I got 12 to a sheet but you don't really need to worry about overcrowding. They will shrink considerably in the drying process.
     We let them dry out in a 225 degree F. oven for around 2 1/2 - 3 hours. They could have gone a bit longer, but the girls like them with still a little firmness. We got 3 dozen rings dried in our first round. They are so yummy! The girls love them for snacks and they have even been satisfying my late night sweet tooth.

     The best part is that they were only the first step in our major pear preparations! Keep your eyes out for future pieces. Soon I'll bring you pear sauce (instead of boring apple sauce), prepping and freezing pie and crisp ready pears and pear jelly made entirely from peels and cores! As always they'll all be super simple.
You can bet I'll be munching on these at my next craft fair!
Simple City Sam

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Craft Fairs 2013!

     Make sure you come and see me in all my crafting glory at, at least, one of my craft fairs this season. I still have a very few empty lines on my dance card so let me know if you've got a fair near you that needs a little Simple City Sam injection.

 (No, that's not me, that's my wildly talented mom, another SimpleCitySam engineer and my cousin in the foreground shopping like a pro.)

Oct. 26th, 10am-5pm. Freeport First Parish Market at the First Parish Church, Freeport, ME.

Nov. 2nd, 8am-3pm. The Great Pumpkin Craft Fair at the Page School, West Newbury, MA.

Nov. 9th, 9am-3pm. Atkinson Congregational Craft Fair at the Atkinson Congregational Church, NH.

*Nov. 23rd, 10am-2pm. Steep Falls PTO Holiday Fair at the Steep Falls Elementary, Standish, ME.
(*updated 10/31/13)

Nov. 29th, 9am-4pm AND Nov 30th, 9am-3pm. Christmas in the County Craft Fair at Bonny Eagle High School, Standish, ME.

Dec. 6th, 5pm-8pm AND Dec. 7th, 10am-4pm. Holly Jolly Fair at the First Parish Church, Freeport, ME.

As always, if you can't make it to one of our fairs you can always check out our offerings at our SimpleCitySam Etsy store or like us on Facebook. If you're local to Portland, Maine or know me real well :-) message me for a drop off and free shipping. Check it out and get a jump on Holiday shopping and gift giving.

Get it while the gettin's good.

Simple City Sam

Not-Childless By Choice

     I know! I know. I know. I have been a terrible blogger. I haven't been around as much as I'd like. Truth be told, losing one job and stepping back from the other simultaneously - but not purposely- has really thrown me for a loop. I can't seem to honestly figure out why really, but it has. I can't seem to find my motivation anymore. Which, in itself is doubly frustrating. I am still here, making soaps, detergents, home made meals and a multitude of crafts and quilts. I am not, however, finding time to write and explore just for myself. Those moments seem to be eluding me. To be honest I'm not sure why.

     I do see myself getting back into a "funk". I have battled depression my whole life and only partially successfully. Outlets and releases are something we all need. For the depressed they are literally prescribed not merely suggested. So in order to head this momentum off at the pass I am prescribing myself on outlet, a release. I am back to requiring something tangible of myself. I am back to writing and exploring and sharing simply.

     I must work actively to fight those voices I hear, both inside and out. "So how is it being back home, relaxing again?" Relaxing? You guessed it! That doozy was asked by a non parent. Because any parent out there knows a colonoscopy would be more relaxing than being home all day with a toddler or two.

     "How do you like being a mom again, finally?" Hey, nincompoop! I never stopped being a mom, I just used to be a mom with a paying job, that's all.

     "Pull it together, Sam, it's not as hard as you're making it out to be. Buck up, you've dealt with worse." While I have a point, I have dealt with worse. Harsh criticisms have always been my most brutal weapon against myself. Why allow perceived outside judgments and standards to affect my day to day being? I'm not sure I'll ever be able to answer that, though I so desperately hope that I do. As of late, as well, I have been taking offense to many of the opinions that seem to be thrown around so haphazardly. I'm working at not taking them all to heart, but some are more pervasive than others.

     Now, I know opinions are anyone's prerogative and are what keep life diverse. But with the onslaught of Facebook posts, Pinterest ideals, and a myriad of politically charged bumper stickers it's enough to make a girl want to rip her hair out! I will not digress into a political discord. I will however address my biggest irritant, the worst judgment given at the present moment. The one from your well-meaning friend, empowered aunt or trendy-well-to-do-gay office mate, that goes, "See? This is exactly why I CHOSE not to have kids." I can't begin to tell you how many blog pieces I've read lately that cite how enlightened they are at not having children. Some will even tell you that they are in fact smarter for having the forethought to not follow the unthinking masses into parenthood.

     Didn't you get the memo? In order to be happy you have to have money and be smart and have lots of friends. The only way to do that is to not have kids. Kids ruin your figure, spend all your money, run your friends out of town and remove any intelligence or professional drive you may have at once possessed. To anyone who has made this lofty decision these are not theories but facts.

     Well, let me be the one to set my record straight, please. I am smart, happy most of the time and find those that are still my friends to be the best ones I've ever had. Here's the thing...yeah, having kids is super tough and toughest on your previously fabulous single life. Yes, some- no, many- children are created by "accident". In no way does that mean all children. I CHOSE to have children. I even CHOSE to have them in my 20s. GASP! No! The shock, the horror. You're only allowed to choose to have a family if you're in your late 30s and married to a doctor. All other pregnancies are drunken one night stands from a population much too young and stupid to think for themselves.


     I chose a road I knew would be difficult. I chose a life that by all right does not appear glamorous. Ever. I chose to put my professional goals, of which I have many, on hold for a temporary amount of time. Knowing that once rekindled it would still always be second in my life to my children. I chose to do all this while young, in good health, and before making my own personal fortune. This does not make me dumb, or those whose chose otherwise to be genius'. I, in no way, regret it. In fact, I wager, that if you ask any parent not one of them regrets it. Of course, we all would agree to a night off. Don't you like getting the night off from your glamorous, high paid, job that affords you all of your awesome-ness? Why are parents any different?

     Just because my health insurance premium is higher than any medical procedure you'll ever have, doesn't mean I should have waited until I had six figures sitting in the bank. Just because I don't get to go out on Friday nights anymore because I'm on kid duty while hubby works, doesn't mean I should have waited until the bar scene lost it's appeal to me otherwise. Just because I had my first daughter at the age of 25 doesn't mean she was un-planned. Just because my choices are different from yours doesn't mean I'm missing the big picture or have made foolish mistakes. It just means we're different.

     My husband and I had been together for 5 years and married for two and a family was so much of what we wanted. (In no way do I mean to imply that longevity or marriage equal good parents, just citing some statistics that shouldn't actually matter, but seem to nonetheless.) We tried for a long time to conceive. It was hard. I believe that my children will learn a great deal about money and responsibility and work ethics from watching parents who need to work and economize to survive. I can't wait to be in my forties and enjoying their company as young adults. Hopefully, I'll still be out there, "playing" with them considering I'll still be young enough to be in good health. Hiking, biking, even maybe drinking...again, the horror! I will be able to focus on my career and still work hard for it after having learned some valuable life lessons about what really matters in life and what can slide for the sake of the big picture. Suffice it to say that, I have a plan.

     So, get off my back. There's absolutely no need to pity me. And please, think about the connotation of your comments before you come at me with them. Because guess what? My kids aren't dumb either and they can hear you. Let's not make them question the consciousness of their beings, not just yet, huh? Perhaps you speak so loudly of your many choices because in fact they have not been choices but paths you simply were lead to and followed. Perhaps they were conscious choices.

     How would I know? I'm not you. Isn't that the whole damn point?!

Simple City Sam