A Few of My Favorite Things

This year has been an interesting one for me.  Let’s just say that 2017 has presented me with lots of opportunities for growth.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life, and I am very grateful for every aspect of it, both the chuckles and the challenges.  But I have found myself as this year is beginning to come to a close taking time for a lot of personal inventory.  Asking myself questions like, “What am I supposed to do now?”  And hearing myself say things like, “Well, that didn’t go the way I thought it would.”  Midlife crisis?  I dunno.  Maybe.  I think I thought I was too young for that, and that really that only happened to men, but of course neither of those statements are true.  We all have to reevaluate ourselves from time to time if we have any hope of making any real progress in life.

So, for the last week or so I have kind of put the breaks on a lot of things in my life.  Not permanently, but just long enough for me to slow down and think more clearly.  But just because I said, “Whoa, Nellie” on certain aspects of my life did not mean that the blows quit coming.  A client who will not forgive me.  Difficulty and hurt in a relationship in my family.  Watching someone I care about struggle, and knowing there is nothing I can do.  Making another really big, really embarrassing mistake.  And then there was the trip to Utah.

That I am not on.

When this trip was scheduled, I was anticipating having a very different list of things on my plate, and I knew that I really couldn’t take the time to go out west with my husband for a long weekend and camping and hunting trip with the family.  A few weeks ago it became obvious that things were changing and that I really did have time to go, but I also knew that plane tickets are pricy, and we really do plan those kinds of things pretty far in advance in order to keep our costs as low as possible.  It was just too late.

Dropping Jeff and a friend off at the airport was feeling a lot like salt being rubbed into the wound that has been 2017, but I am pretty much over that crap.  No, I was not happy about missing out on a chance to see kids, grandkids, in-laws, nieces and nephews.  No, I was not happy about missing out on clear, cool mountain air, campfire smells, dutch oven cooking and more stars than I used to think it was possible to see in one night.  But there are lots of things to love right here in my own backyard.  Lots of things things to counteract salt, and bind up a wound.

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Doughnut Dollies is my most favorite donut shop ever.  It is also 46 miles from my house.  Obviously, I can’t make a trip to Marietta, GA every day or even every week just for my beloved donuts, but I can once in awhile.  We live south of Atlanta, and south of the airport, so I began my trek north for the day.  I went straight to Doughnut Dollies from the airport, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

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Like I said on Instagram, caramel goes pretty dang well with salt, and even better on a donut, so a salted caramel donut it was.  And an orange gingerbread one for the road.  I know the question begs to be asked, “Why is Doughnut Dollies the best?”  I love their hip, crafty and creative takes on my favorite pastry, and the shop itself is an absolute delight, but really the reason I love them so is the texture.  I love bread.  Soft, fluffy white bread.  These donuts are much more bread-like than most donuts, and I love that the donut itself doesn’t seem to be as sweet as others.  The sweet seems to be more in the add-ons, and I just really like the balance.  (This may also explain why I hate Krispy Kreme donuts, especially when they are hot.  It’s like just eating fried sugar.  Bleh.)  Plus, the peeps that work at Dollie’s are really nice, so that’s always a plus.

From Marietta, I decided to keep heading north.  This weekend is the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, and Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega.  The weather is beautiful and finally starting to be a little bit cooler and drier, which around here is nothing but good news and puts a lot of people in a good mood and stirs up a desire to head to our version of the mountains.  A lot of people.  Knowing that this weekend is festival weekend up north, I also knew that it meant the apples are in, and it’s time to make applesauce, but I wanted to get up there before the crowds.  So, I plugged in Sybil and headed up the highway.

From the Atlanta area, I just take I-75 north to I-575, and stay on it until it ends and becomes GA-515.  The first apple places you come to in Ellijay are on the right, Panorama and Penland’s.  I have to be honest, I always stop here, but it’s not really usually to buy apples.  My husband’s favorite hot sauce comes from this place, and they don’t take phone orders and they don’t ship.  So I stock up on it, and a few other gift items for the holidays.  I did buy a peck of Arkansas Black, and of course, some apple cider donuts.  They are my second favorites behind Doughnut Dollies.  Every time I go there I am greeted by busloads of seniors headed to Ellijay for the day, and quite honestly, I think that is their biggest clientele.  I don’t have any opinions about Penland’s, as quite honestly I’ve never been there.  I just get what I come for at Panorama, and then move along.

I keep going north on GA-515, then turn right on GA-52.  This is where the majority of the apple markets and farms are located.  There are little bitty, no fuss places like Hudson’s Apple House, and there are larger markets complete with petting farms and hayrides like Hillcrest Orchards, and there are several in between.  It really just depends on what you are looking for.  When my kids were younger, we went to the bigger places more often because there is a bit of tourism and fun about it, but nowadays I really am just going for the apples. I realized on my drive up that it was the first time that I had ever made the drive without my family.  It made me a little sad, but then I gloried in the fact that I could do what I wanted without worrying about this or that, and I got over it quick.  Apparently that’s the name of the game.

I love Hudson’s Apple House.  It might be my favorite stop of all.  It is small, and located in what looks to be an old service station.  The family is lovely, and I always like to visit with them.  There’s no fuss.  Just apples.  And kindness.  I wanted a tart, hard apple, but not just a Granny Smith, so she offered for me to try a Pippin, which was delightful.  If my family and other close friends are reading this post, they are probably laughing at that pic of the partially eaten apple.  I hate biting into food like that because I feel like I get it all over my face and I’m sticky and dirty and need a shower.  But, she wanted me to try it before I bought it, so I did, and I loved it, but I was really glad I had wipes in the car.

My other favorite on Ga-52 is the B.J. Reece Apple House.  It is one of the bigger places, and is a little touristy, but seriously has a really great selection of apples.  I think you can also pick your own here, and they may have hayrides and things like that, but I don’t really pay any attention to it.  I’m just there for some serious apple shopping, a jug of peach cider, and maybe some produce.  I didn’t buy as much as I usually do this year, something I will explain in another post, but I did pick up some Braeburn apples, which I am looking forward to using.

If I had the kids with me, I would have continued on southeast on GA-52 and gone to Burt’s Farm.  I took the kids there many times when they were younger to pick out a pumpkin, or just to take photos with the rows and rows of pumpkins of every size and color.  When they were very small, it wasn’t as well known, and it was easy to park, and there weren’t a lot of crowds to contend with.  It is still gorgeous. and lots of fun, but it is also a popular destination for school field trips, and is often packed with people at this time of year.  I did debate about going over to Amicalola Falls just past Burt’s Farm to climb the stairs by the falls, just to see if I could do it and not feel like I was dying like I did the last time, but I opted for a different route. I still think I might go back up sometime this fall.  I feel those stairs challenging me.

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Instead, where GA-52 takes a sharp left to head towards Burt’s and the falls, I turned right onto GA-183 and followed Sybil’s directions back south and into Atlanta.  When I got to Intown Quilters I shared apple cider donut and apple joy with Sarah and the crew, and they shared fabric and fiber joy with me.  It lifts my spirits so much to be with creative friends and talk about our passions.  I love this shop, and it’s crew.  I never leave there empty handed or without inspiration, and yesterday was no exception.  We laughed and chatted, and even disagreed, and in the end I left with both my hands and my heart filled.  It was a good day.

Even though 2017 and I have been battling it out, I know that in the end I will prevail.  I’m totally watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve this year because while 2017 is going down in flames, I will live on.  This year may have beaten me up a bit, but I’ve lived long enough to know that bruises heal, even the ego type.  It is just a matter of time, and as my husband says, learning how to fall so maybe next time there are no bruises, or at least smaller ones that heal faster.

Saving the pot…

I need my pots and pans to last me for as long as possible.  Mostly because I am pretty practical and just don’t want to spend money on pots if I don’t have to, but also because I want new when I move, not now.

So, I was pretty unhappy about this.

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One of our daughters got married this past summer, and at the end of the night we had 17 quart bags of BBQ pork left over, along with about 10 of macaroni and cheese, and 6 of sweet potatoes.  Of course it all totally fits into my regular nutritional life, so no problem eating it all, right?  Ummmm, no.  But every once in a while, I pull a bag of it out of the freezer and work it into a meal one way or another.  This time it was the sweet potatoes.  Oh, those sweet potatoes.  Oh, so much sugar.

And bad planning on my part.  I was being lazy, and I didn’t set them out to thaw.  I figured it would be fine and threw it in a pan on the stove with some water.  Then I started playing on my phone or watching the baseball game or knitting or whatever, and suddenly the scent of forgotten sweet potatoes started invading every part of our house.  Of course it was totally too late, and I had ruined the potatoes, and probably my pot.

I let it soak a couple of times, but the burned food wasn’t getting any softer, and I was running out of patience and elbow grease.  I started thinking about how when food is high in fat and it sticks to the bottom of the pan, all you really have to do is stick the hot pan under cold water and it pretty much comes right off.  The sweet potatoes had a lot more sugar than fat, although I’m sure they had plenty of fat in them as well, but the sugar was what made them burn so badly.  So, I thought I’d try something other than soaking.

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First I put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan, and set it on to boil.  Then I added a little butter to the water when it started boiling.

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I used my egg whisk (one of my favorite items from IKEA), to try to loosen some of the burned bits from the bottom.  Kind of like how I make gravy, only grosser.

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Then I added ice water.  Again similar to the gravy idea, the mix of fat and cold gets the bits off of the bottom of the pan.  I didn’t know if it would work, but it made sense to try.  It actually did start to work, and a goodly amount of the black started to come loose.

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But not all.  So I tried it again, but this time I used canola oil instead of butter.  I’m not sure if the oil works better than the butter, or if it just needed to be done twice, but it totally worked.

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A little bit oily, and just a few spots left that came off easily with a bit of scrubbing.  Saved for another day!

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Getting it together

This past January I weighed more than I ever did 9 months prego and on the verge of delivery. I was not by any stretch what most people think of as extremely overweight, but I still could not move. I dreaded putting away dishes because if I knelt down, I had to use the countertop to pull myself back up again. And stairs. Don’t get me started about the stairs.  I didn’t like driving my fun little car anymore because it was so hard to get in and out of it.  Then I had a customer pull me out into the hallway during an event in The Green Apricot studio to tell me that I really needed to get it together.  That I should enjoy the holidays and my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, but that when I got back I needed to do better.  All these quilters just sit behind their machines and get fat.  I was, obviously, totally offended.

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Then I saw this pic that my husband took of me on our trip, and I finally had a discussion with myself.  The conclusion was I am not getting younger, and it isn’t going to get easier. so get started. So I did.

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The irony of looking like this for most of my life was that I ate everything in sight and never did anything athletic or that even remotely looked like exercise.  Like never.  Ever.  When this photo was taken, I was about 37 years old.  I had brought 4 humans into this world who at the time were about 11, 13, 15 and 16 years old.  I had been divorced and remarried, and honestly had been through a lot.  But I was not prepared for what was to come in the next couple of years.

The difference between those two pictures is about 7 years, My Great Depression, and 50 pounds.  When I was 39, I went through some tough times.  I gained 30 pounds in about 3 months.  I then struggled through a deep depression that would last for about 2 years, and still lingers from time to time.  After the initial gain, I just kept adding on, a little more each year.  I went from being able to carry my weight around with little effort, and even less thought, to not being able to get off of the couch without my hips hurting.  I couldn’t get up a single flight of stairs without being winded.  But seriously, you don’t want to hear the stair rant.

Now, to be clear, I don’t really care to be as small as I used to be.  I am a grown woman, and I am totally cool with what that means.  In fact, I would be just fine with what the scales read last January if I also could move around with ease.  Now, again to be clear, I do have issues with vanity just like everyone else, and there is a part of me that would like to be size such-and-such again, or at least close to it, but almost as soon as I have those thoughts, I am reminded that it really is irrelevant.

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The difference between the picture at the beach and the bathroom selfie is about 10 months, about 200 workouts, a very different outlook on food, very little neck and joint pain, and 25 pounds.  I took this picture yesterday so that I could thank my friend for sending me this cute LulaRoe top.  We kinda have a joke running because almost every item of clothing I buy from her I say, “A jean jacket would be cute with that!”  So, I posted it on social media, really only thinking about the shirt, but when a couple of my friends made some kind comments, it got me to thinking.  I started looking over pics from this past year, and it has made me really grateful.

I like the woman in the pic with the orange bandana.  I also like the woman in the pic on the beach.  But I don’t really want to be either of them again.  The bathroom selfie is who I am today, and I like her too.  She’s been through a lot.  She’s made a lot of mistakes.  A lot.  She’s cried a lot.  She’s laughed a lot.  She still has trouble letting go of some of her baggage, but she’s learning to move on.  She’s learning about who she is, and who she isn’t.  She’s taking time to sort things out.  Slow down a bit.  Find balance.  Then pick up and run the race when the race is on, but slow down for the training.

There will be more pics.  And when there are, I want to be glad that I am no longer the woman in this bathroom selfie.  It’s all about progress.  It’s always about progress.

 

A Nice Place to Land

Travel is a very real part of my life, and I imagine and hope that it always will be.  Most recently I was back and forth from home in various stints over a stretch of a month and a half.  I will be home for about that long, and then gone again soon.  Then repeat.  Sometimes I travel for fun, like the trips we take twice a year to celebrate our marriage.  Or family reunion.  Or trips with our kids and their families.  Or the occasional quilt retreat that has no work attachments involved.  But while I don’t always travel with fun as the main purpose, it still is always fun.  Like visiting family, especially our kids and grandkids.  Or going to Quilt Market, if or when I go.  Or quilt retreats with work at least partly in mind, although sometimes work is the sole purpose.

For instance, the recent retreat The Green Apricot hosted in Crossville, TN.  I had a great time, and I loved being a hostess and cooking and hanging out and having a good time with friends.  On Thursday when it ended, it was good to see smiling faces packing up cars and heading back home again.  I, on the other hand, was not headed home.  Our granddaughter was having a birthday party in TN on Saturday, so rather than head south to Atlanta and then back up to Nashville the next day, I decided to hang around a bit and take it easy between retreat and birthday party.

As many of you know, I am a bit obsessed with donuts.  One time my husband looked at me and basically said, “If you’ve eaten one donut, you’ve eaten them all.”  I just stared at him.  The donut thing has been real my whole life, although I have hated Krispy Kreme for many years.  Mostly because my dad would get them on road trips, and inevitably I would get car sick, and well, the rest is history.  (As a note, I tried them again a couple of years ago, and I really do still hate them.)  The obsession, however, has really taken flight in the last couple of years because, well, donuts, and I love the idea that an easy way to shop local when traveling is to find a donut shop.  So, I try to look for donut shops whenever I am on the road.  This time I found Ralph’s Donuts in Cookeville, TN.  They’ve been there since 1962, and are located in a fun part of town with boutique shopping and eateries.  It was way off of my charted course from Crossville to Nashville, but totally worth it.  When I asked what was the one donut I had to order I got an immediate answer of, “Butter Twist.”  So, Butter Twist it was, and I was pleased.  I usually get two donuts at places like these.  A standard that I can compare with other donut shops, and their specialty.  But I had just returned from quilt retreat full of Oreos and Peanut M&Ms, so restraint was called for.  However, if I ever get to go back…

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Since I wasn’t in a big hurry, and I didn’t have the husband in tow, I thought I might check out Craft South in Nashville.  I’ve met Anna Maria Horner a couple of times, including once in a restaurant bathroom during Quilt Market, but that’s another story.  I’m kinda a big fan, and I love her work and her style, so I was looking forward to her shop.  However, it turned out that I might have actually been able to go into the store if Jeff had been with me.  I followed Sybil’s directions and found Craft South in a super trendy, fun neighborhood not too far from Vanderbilt’s campus.  But, all that fun and trend has a tendency to equal no parking.  After circling a neighborhood crawling with both construction and hipsters three times with no luck for parking, I bailed and headed to my evening destination.  Thompson’s Station, and Suzy Homemaker.

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Who exactly provides a snack bar in their guest room?  Who exactly puts together the perfect dinner because she knows what her guest needs?  Who exactly can cut through the crap and get to the real story with everything from politics to quilt shops?

Suzy Homemaker, of course.  No, that’s not totally her real name, but she is Suzy.  I met her a few years ago as she is Chris Warnick’s right-hand woman in putting on The Stash Bash, and have enjoyed her friendship ever since.  I messaged her a couple of weeks before I was going to be in Nashville to see if I could visit her and crash at her place for a night.  I knew it would be a treat to get to visit with her and her husband, but had no idea just how perfect of a place it was for me to land.

I had a great time at the quilt retreat in Crossville, and very much loved being a hostess for such an event.  But when it was over, I truly was exhausted.  It wasn’t until I settled in at Suzy’s that I realized how overstimulated I felt, and kind of wired.

Suzy keeps a lovely home, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  So much of it is in the details.  Everything from the soap to the bed that I could barely convince myself to get out of the next morning.  Everywhere I turned there was something to look at and think about, but not in an excessively analytical way or in a trendy, copycat kind of way.  More like a “Huh- that’s cool-  I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it works perfectly” kind of way.

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She has such a great mix of wood and metal and white and black in her home, and just seems to highlight all the right things in all the right places.  Suzy and her husband are also in the race car industry, and there were hints of it throughout the house, but without being brash and kitschy.  It felt like Nashville, but it also felt like a canvas for conversation.

It was just what I needed- to be hosted for a day after hosting for a few.  We chatted into the night, and picked up again in the morning.  And of course, we had to get a donut, and head to a quilt shop.  This time there was plenty of parking.

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I stole these photos from the internet.  I am admitting it openly.  I’d like to give credit, but honestly, I’m not sure to whom I should give it!  At any rate, Suzy promised I would love Stitcher’s Garden, and she was not wrong.  Not by a longshot.  This place was packed.  I mean packed.  In every good way.  We have a shop in Georgia similar to it called Thread Bear Fabrics.  Both of the these shops have a crazy, serious selection.  You want traditional?  You got it.  You want modern?  You got it.  You want fat quarters?  You got more than you can imagine.  I had a fabulous time sifting through and making plans, and even remembering projects gone by.  I showed a bit of restraint, as I already have plenty and enough, but I did get a couple of things with purpose, and a couple without.

We literally shopped until the last moment.  Jeff flew in that afternoon, and I needed to navigate through Nashville traffic to pick him up at the airport.  It was good to see his face.  I enjoy my adventures, and I feel that I am fairly independent, but I miss him terribly when we are apart.

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Jeff and I go to Nashville from time to time as two of our daughters and their families live there.  We have a favorite place to stop and eat- Coco’s Italian Market and Restaurant.  My favorite appetizer is the bruschetta, pictured above.  I’d like to deconstruct it and try to make it at home, but I’m afraid I’d never get the bread quite right, and that I’d gain a couple hundred pounds!

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Speaking of low-cal Italian treats, we also never miss a chance to share a piece of Chocolate Eruption cheesecake.  We are kind of known for taking it to go with the intent of eating it a little later, but it never makes it more than a mile or so down the road.

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The next day we headed to our daughter’s house to spend the day celebrating our granddaughter’s birthday.  It was such a nice day with family, and I am so grateful that we were able to be there.  I feel very grateful for all of the travels, even the ones that can be somewhat stressful, but I am especially grateful for the travels that take me places like this one.  Some things matter, some things don’t.  Some things last, some things won’t.

 

A Lobster Tale

by Angela Gubler.  Originally written June 2016.

“I think I’d like to have dinner with you.”

“Hmmm, that sounds nice.  How about an appetizer?”

“Yes- what do you have in mind?”

“How about some lobster rolls?  I really love lobster.”

“Actually, I don’t really like lobster.  Why don’t we try something else?”

“Sure- how about this instead?”

“Much better.  These artichoke hearts are amazing.  So yummy.  I’m so glad we are here.  I love spending time with you.”

“I’m glad we are here, too.  You liked the appetizer, didn’t you? ”

“Yes, it was nice.  What should we have for our main course?”

“How about steak and lobster tail.  I really love lobster.”

“Oh, I like steak.  Especially a filet.  But I don’t like lobster.  Remember?  I told you that earlier.”

“You just haven’t had it like this.  It’s amazing.  You’ll love it.”

“I dunno.  I’ve tried it lots of times, and I never seem to like it.”

“Just one bite.  I’m sure you’re going to love it.”

“Okay.  I’ll try it again.  You are a great cook- the steak is amazing- so maybe you are right and I will like the lobster.  Just one bite.”

“Here.  I even dipped it in butter.  It’s so good.”

“Oh, no.  I don’t think it’s the way you make it.  I really just don’t like it.”

“Here’s another bite.  I’m sure you will like this better.  I love it.”

“I don’t feel very good.  I think I’m finished.”

“I think more lobster will help you feel better.  Here’s another bite.  I love you.  It’s wonderful.”

“You seem to really love it.  I want to like it, too.  But I don’t.  Is there any more steak? Or maybe artichoke hearts?”

“No, no more steak or artichoke hearts.  Just lobster.  I love lobster.”

“I hate lobster.  I want to leave.”

“But you can’t leave.  I’m not finished yet.  Don’t you want to stay with me?  I make a great steak.”

“I do like the steak.  But you said you don’t have any more steak.  Just lobster.  And I don’t want lobster.  I think I’m sick.”

“You’re not sick.  Just eat the lobster, and think of the steak.  It’s the practically the same thing.  I love lobster.”

“It’s not working.  I know you love lobster, but I really don’t like it.  I don’t know what to do.”

“You love me, don’t you?  And I love lobster.  So you love lobster.”

“No, I don’t think it works like that.  I do love you, but I still don’t like lobster.”

“Eat it anyway.”

“What?”

“Eat it anyway.  I don’t care that you don’t like it.  I like it.  Eat it.  I love you.”

“I need to go.  It’s getting late, and I want to be prepared for the morning.”

“I will die if you leave.  I can’t eat lobster alone.  I need you.”

“I don’t want you to die.”

“Have another bite of lobster.  It’s so good.  I love it.”

“I don’t want any more lobster.  I hate it.”

“You hate it because you won’t even try it.  You make me love lobster.”

“I feel dizzy.  I don’t feel well.  I think I am finished and I want to go.”

“Don’t go.  I will die.”

“I don’t want you to die.  But I don’t like lobster, and you aren’t happy when I don’t eat lobster.  Which makes me sad.  So I think it’s time for me to go.  I am leaving.”

“You can’t leave.  You will never be able to digest the steak I gave you.  It will sit in your stomach forever.  Like a rock.  The only thing that will make it go away is if you eat lobster with me.  If you don’t eat lobster with me, you will drag through life with me in your gut.  You won’t be able to eat anything else.”

“I can’t see.  I am so tired.  I think I am dying.”

“It’s your own fault.  You don’t like lobster.”

“I can’t die.  I have to be ready for tomorrow.  I have to go.  Let me go.”

“You’re gonna die.  You can’t survive without having lobster with me.  You may as well stay.  I love you.”

“I might die.  I don’t think you love me.  I don’t know how I feel about you anymore.  I have to go.  I am leaving.”

“One more bite.  I love lobster.”

Not another bite.  Not another word.  Not another minute.  I might die, but I am going.  I am gone.

The Grand Architect

by Angela Gubler.  First written June 2016

There was once a Grand Architect and his Wife.  They worked together daily planning and creating a beautiful home, all the while watching their family grow.  They had a wonderful family, and each day they would look into the eyes of each and every child, imprinting everything about them onto their own hearts.  They loved their children very much, and their children loved them.  Their children gathered around them always- watching and listening to them.  The Architect and his Wife were very happy, and it brought them great joy to be with their family.

But the Architect knew that his children loved him, at least in part, because he was all they knew.  He also knew, in his infinite wisdom, that the great bond that he had with each of them could only grow deeper and stronger if they had the chance to choose to love him.  But how?  How could he give them a chance to choose?

He would build them a new home, similar to their real home, so that they could remember him, but different, so they could have a chance to choose.  Plans were made, and the new home was created.  The Grand Architect knew that he couldn’t be there with them because his bond with his children was so great that if he was there, they would automatically choose to be with him, thus taking away their ability to choose.  So, who would watch over them, and help them the way he would help them if he was there?  He needed someone who was most like him, who knew him best and would take care of them the way he would himself.

“Ah, yes, that one,” he thought to himself as his heart whispered the name of The One.  But what if they couldn’t remember him, and what if they chose to love someone or something else more than him?  He knew they would be lost, because while they were his children and could become as powerful as he was, they were still just children, and could not do it alone.  He thought of the The One again, and he thought of what he himself would be willing to do to save all of his children.  His heart seemed to stop at the thought. He knew what The One would have to sacrifice and suffer so that all of the others would have a chance to choose.  He knew it was the way, the only way, but it hurt him so that even one of his own children would have to suffer so terribly.

But he couldn’t hesitate.  The bond between himself and his children needed to grow in order for them to grow.  They could not become like him- grand architects- if they didn’t have the chance to choose to be with him.

So, he gave them the opportunity to go to their new home.  He explained his plans to them.  Some of them wanted to stay where they were, but most of them listened to their Father, and took the opportunity to build their bond with him.

They went to their new home, and as he knew they would, they forgot about him.  They didn’t remember their real home, and their new home was full of conflicts and choices and experiences they had never had before.  There was pure beauty and soft voices that reminded them of something they couldn’t remember, but there were also so many things that were new, and sounds that were loud that caught their attention.

He watched as they struggled, and he waited each day for them to look for him, to gather around and watch and listen to him as they had done before.  The One showed them the way, and taught them to remember the Grand Architect.  The Grand Architect was grateful, as he missed his children more than he could bear.

The children had a harder time than they thought they would.  They had thought that they would easily remember their Father, but it was not so.  Sometimes they loved other things or people more than they loved the Architect, and so their bond with him weakened.  As their bond weakened, they became weak.  They found it difficult to stand.  They found it impossible to grow.  How could they ever get back to their home?

The One knew how.  He knew how to mend the bond between the children and their Father, and he worked at it tirelessly.  He had become a Great Welder, and he used parts of himself to meld the children back to their Father.  But they had to choose.  They had to take their broken bonds to The One in order for him to fix it.  They still had to choose to love Father in order for their bond to become stronger and deeper.

Many came, but many did not.  It was a chance the Grand Architect had taken.  But he loved all of his children, so he made new homes for all of them, even the ones who chose not to love him and come home to be with him again.  As time went on, his children made their choice.  And so, he gave gifts to all of them, regardless of whether or not they chose to love him.

But the ones that chose to love him over everyone and everything else found a deeper and stronger joy than the rest.  They found themselves to be like him- grand architects with families of their own.  And so, they did as their Father and Mother had done before them, and built a beautiful home.

Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market- just a few things. This time.

I really don’t know much about the history of Your Dekalb Farmers Market, but I do know a little bit about my history with this place of awesomeness.

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I grew up in Georgia, mostly in the Atlanta area, and have lived in and out of the area most of my life.  I remember going to YDFM when I was very young with my aunt who lived in Decatur, not far from the original market.  I also remember going after they moved to the current site, but I believe it looked a bit different back then.  I was still very young, and I only went a couple of times, but I seem to remember being just enthralled with huge tanks of fish, and watching the employees reaching into the water to nab one for a customer.  There are still tanks of fish now, but I don’t think as many.

YDFM doesn’t allow any photography inside of the market, so sadly, I cannot show you the amazingness of this place.  However, I can tell you a little bit about it.  At least this particular trip.

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I live about 40 miles from YDFM, which in our area means it can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to travel to or from the market.  And yet, it is where I buy the majority of our meat and fresh produce.  It is also where I buy spices, fresh pasta, drinking vinegar, and international products that I would like to try.  I also take our recycling to their recycling center as the one in our county does not accept as many items.  The photo you see above is from the furthest parking spot facing the front doors of the market.  I often refer to the parking lot as the Serengeti, mostly because the few trees placed here and there makes me think of the pictures I have always seen of that place.  I usually try to park under one of the trees, but on this day I decided I could use the walk since I skipped the treadmill that morning.

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If you’ve never been to YDFM, there are a few things you should probably know.

First, as you can see, they have extensive hours.  However, if you have any kinds of issues with crowds or claustrophobia, some days and hours are better than others.  I try to go during the week, early in the day.  Mid afternoon isn’t too bad, but for me the traffic on the way home is terrible, so I’d rather go in the mornings.  I’ve been on a Saturday a couple of times, and will only do that now out of desperation.  Also, the week or days just before a holiday are insane.  As in you can’t reasonably shop with a normal shopping cart on those days.

Second, speaking of shopping carts, if you want one, you’d better get it from the parking lot on your way in because there are none inside.  There are rolling plastic baskets that are deep but slim, and of course, hand carried baskets.  But I can only go every couple of weeks or so, so I generally need a bigger cart.

Third, they don’t take credit cards, and they don’t really like to take checks.  Cash or a debit card are your best bet.

Fourth, I have the same suggestion for this place as I do for IKEA virgins.  The first time you go, show some restraint and don’t buy much.  Just a few things, then go home and let everything you just saw kind of settle in your brain for a bit.  Otherwise it is easy to waste money and end up with a lot of food that you can’t possibly consume before it goes bad.

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My weakness is the bakery department.  I actually don’t buy anything there anymore for a couple of reasons.  First, it is so dang good that I could probably eat my weight in breads and muffins and croissants and cookies, and that just doesn’t work out very well.  Second, they are fresh baked and don’t have any preservatives, and so should be eaten within a day or two of purchase.  Sadly, I have found that we can’t eat it fast enough, and usually have some waste.

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As you can see above, I mostly focus on fresh produce at the market.  There’s aisle after aisle of varieties of produce, most of which I am familiar with and know what to do with, but some is just foreign and intriguing.  There are organic and nonorganic options, and the description above the bins includes the origin of the food.  I find that the produce is fresher than at the grocery, and that the prices are at least competitive, but often are better.  They bring in and move such a large volume that the turn over is amazing.  Also, if you are wondering if something is actually in season, or if it is maybe late in the season, you will know quickly at YDFM.  In the height of the strawberry season the berry table is overflowing with packages of berries, but when in winter the selection is much smaller.  While there are always a wonderful variety of apples available, it is evident that apples are currently in season by how many more than just the standards there are in the market.

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Other favorites are the deli, seafood and meat departments.  Pictured above is a pretty normal lunch for me.  YDFM smokes their own meats on site, and I prefer their sliced turkey, chicken and roast beef over other places.  While I don’t often eat it in a sandwich, I do like to make kind of a deli plate for a light lunch. They have an amazing selection of cheeses from all over the world.  I like to buy a new cheese to try from time to time, and then talk my husband’s head off over dinner about where it is from.

The seafood department at YDFM is a force in it’s own right, and simply has to be experienced to be understood.  My house could fit in the seafood department.  My entire house.  And if it is seafood and they aren’t selling it at YDFM, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.  I have gone in there when every bin and tank was full, and and I have been there when the seafood selections were thin.  There’s a reason for that.

I don’t like to buy chicken anywhere else.  I find that the chicken at YDFM is the size that you would expect a chicken to be.  It doesn’t look like it came from a chicken that could beat you up in a dark alley.  And they have just about every cut you could think of.  They also have turkey, beef, bison, lamb and pork.  There’s probably something else in there, but I can’t remember, and well, no pics allowed to help me remember!  We love the sausage that YDFM mixes.  They have it in turkey, chicken and pork.  The hot is the best, but to each his own.  *Here’s a tip… When buying seafood or meat at the market, ask for ice.  If they have any available, they will double bag your meat purchase in a bag of ice.  However, I find the cashiers don’t really like it because it gets the labels wet and makes them difficult to scan.

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Spices are another thing that I love at YDFM.  They are significantly less expensive than the national brands at the grocery, and are fresh.  They don’t come in fancy packaging, but they don’t need to look good to taste good.  I use the pumpkin pie spice in my favorite fall protein shake.

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McClary Bros Old Timey Drinking Vinegar is another thing that I recently discovered at YDFM.  I believe you can purchase it elsewhere, but it’s just as easy for me to get it there since I know they carry it.  Every evening before bed my husband prepares a glass of this drinking vinegar mixed with some seltzer water for each of us.  The biggest benefit we’ve noticed is a significant reduction of acid reflux at night.  I don’t know that it is as healthful as Bragg’s, but it is definitely more palatable.  There are several different flavors, but we like the Michigan Apple Pie the best.  I’d say the Beet and Carrot one would come in second, but really, by a long shot.  The other flavors are just too sharp for me.  It’s also a little pricy in my opinion, but we only drink a little at a time, and since we don’t really drink anything else other than water and Red Rock Ginger Ale, we have room in the budget for it.  Again, I am sure Bragg’s is a healthier option, but how healthy can it be if you hate it so much you won’t drink it?

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Dinner on the same day as a trip to YDFM usually involves whatever I saw that wasn’t actually on my list.  This time it was fresh whole wheat pasta and YDFM’s own marinara sauce.  I’ve wanted to try their marinara for a long time, and it was quite good, but I have to be honest, I like mine made from our homegrown and bottled tomatoes better.  The pasta was perfect, but Jeff wasn’t crazy about the texture.  Fresh pasta is a little different from dried.  I froze what pasta we didn’t eat that night, and I’ll probably have it for lunch some time.

So, that’s your intro to Your Dekalb Farmers Market.  If you live in the Atlanta area and have never been, you really should give it a try, and if you are in the area visiting, it is worth putting on your list of places to visit.