25 October 2016

Travel Adventures // Cromer's Mill Covered Bridge

This may strike y'all as a bit strange but when I travel locally I really prefer to do so by my lonesome.  Now, I'm a super introvert who spends a lot of my time striving daily to be more extroverted (as any of you who work in any public service based industry can understand) so I often need time to recharge the ol' internal batteries.  And traveling around to bridges, small towns, markets, whatever, with my truck windows down and singing at the top of my lungs and taking pictures (some good & some bad) and eating roadside fruit from tiny Mom & Pop stands are all the things that help reset all the buttons life likes to push.

Going back to that 'traveling around to bridges' part, I found myself over at Cromer's Mill Covered Bridge in Carnesville, GA (about 40 minutes away from Athens) not too long ago...

The area around the bridge looks pretty neglected (and read on for more about that road!) and there was a ton of trash around but the bridge is in really good shape considering the age and the limited repair its received.  Plus there were tons of flowers about, including my favorite Spider Lily, and the creek was high enough to do a bit of wading in.  Nice!

To be honest, this is the first time on my solo adventures that I got a wee bit concerned about being in the middle of nowhere.  My first attempt at approaching the bridge put me on one of the worst rutted and overgrown roads I've ever driven on...and I've driven on some bad roads here in the heavy snow areas of the western US, in the mountains of Puerto Rico and in the hills of Croatia.  None of them compared to this one Georgia road.  I seriously thought our 4-wheel drive truck might get stuck down this little road so many miles away from home (and from AAA) and my phone had no service.  There were a few homes around but they had signs with things like 'shoot first, ask questions later' and 'the south will rise again!' and I do not mess around with that shit.  Most folks in the world are nice enough but when they advertise that kind of stuff I don't take my chances.  I finally said 'oh hell NO' and reversed myself right out of there and made it back to the main road with no problems other than a lot of bouncing and jarring and things sliding off of seats.  Whew!

I decided to drive over the main bridge spanning the river (Nail's Creek, to be exact) and see if I could approach it from that angle, and to my surprise I found a super easy and short path directly to the bridge.  Thankfully, it's also in plain sight of the main road because some super sketch dudes showed up with a cooler of beer and some bad vibes and freaked me out.  Not what I wanted/expected but I did a) get some pictures, albeit in the mid-day sun and b) get about 30 minutes of me time before I was forced to leave by drunken idiots.

While it was soooooooooooo not cool that some 'hey baby' guys showed up at a freaking covered bridge drunk as skunks and ready to cause trouble, it is something I almost never deal with and I feel like I handled it appropriately and I refuse to be cowed about adventuring out on my own.  Although I decided that I am not going anywhere where I don't have cell service (that road made me double think my approach...literally and figuratively) and I'm giving Brady my schedule/route so someone knows where I'm at just in case something happens.  It's the unfortunate reality that women have to be aware at all times in all situations in order to feel safer and to help eschew blame if something were to happen.  I mean, just look at how people have responded to the rhetoric from this election.  *sigh*  I'd like to rant and rave but this was supposed to be a post about finding a cool covered bridge!  I'll save all that for another time but I have a feeling that most of y'all know how I feel and how I'm voting and all that jazz...

So, this trip did somewhat recharge my batteries but it also got my adrenaline flowing.  Luckily, the produce guy was super nice and even gave me a few apples for free after I told him my story.  See, nice people are out there!

On the way back home I found this little church and adjoining cemetery that had more granite on, in and around it than any other church I've seen.  The foundation was granite!  Even the sign with its classic font was granite.  Red clay + white clapboard + granite = rural northern Georgia memories for me.  They are quite the combo...

And as you can see that as of last week some of our leaves are still a ways away from changing in many places.  While Athens is starting to really look like fall, other spots are still holding onto summer.  With temperatures in the 80's this week, how can you blame the trees for being confused?

20 October 2016

Vegan Pumpkin Pie



And I kind of think it's the best thing ever.  Yes, I know it's a fall cliche or whatever but I truly don't care!  Embrace the love of fall, and with it, pumpkins, without shame for fall is the best of all the four seasons.  Truth.  Now, I don't eat pumpkin m'self on the regular but I love making all kind of baked goods with it.  So far this season I've made:
  • pumpkin sandwich cookies
  • pumpkin swirl bread pudding
  • maple chai pumpkin cake
  • pumpkin pecan spice ice cream
  • pumpkin vanilla cream cake
  • lemon pumpkin cream pie
...and I'm not slowing down any time soon.  Pumpkin stuff rules!

The easiest and best-selling item for the business right now is your classic 'on every table' pumpkin pie.  You just can't go wrong with basic deliciousness, right?  Especially if it's easy to make and bakes up beautifully.  And if you're vegan you don't have to give up on finding a decadently creamy pie with just the right amount of spice and citrus notes.  It's all here for you in the following recipe.  Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

1 12oz box silken extra firm tofu
2 cups pureed pumpkin (either canned or roasted then pureed pumpkin)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pie spice

Combine all items in food processor and blend til smooth.  Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl numerous times to ensure all items are processed thoroughly.  Once smooth, spoon product into prepared vegan pastry crust.  Bake at 325 for 50 minutes to 1 hour or til golden but not too browned.  Pie will still be a bit jiggly but will set as it cools.  Garnish with a vegan whipped cream or cute pastry cutouts or just leave it simply beautiful.

Our restaurant serves vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, carnivores on a healthy break and everyone in between, and this pie makes them all happy.  Really, really.  This pie is the shiznit.

If you give it a go then let me know how it works for you.  I'm all ears for substitutions and creative additions!

05 October 2016

My Life In Pictures

My hands and nails are not the prettiest thing since I've been spending a ton of time in the yard weeding & then repairing my bike & then baking a lot more than usual.  But let's talk about how delicious this switchel is!  Maple + Ginger = My Heart.

A date night at the cinema where we watched Hunt For The Wilderpeople and drank beers, and where I posed on the softest wrap-around sofa thingie in the world.

All the Kudzu blossoms are gone now.  And I didn't harvest extra.  Dagnabit!

“Candy might be sweet, but it’s a traveling carnival blowing through town. Pie is home. People always come home.” ~ Pushing Daisies

There's been a lot of college folks looking for memories of home lately because I'm making more pie than ever up here at work!

Favorite flower.  Always.  Popping up everywhere right now!

Planning some long/short-distance trips for the upcoming cooler weather.  It's my favorite hobby.  Maybe I'll even daydream-to-reality a camping trip or 2?  But for now I'm still trying to just get in the truck and drive whenever I can to wherever I can - small towns, Atlanta burbs, covered bridges, gardens, over to see my folks.

Right now, today, this miserable minute, I'm suffering from a terrible cold that juuuuust might be morphing into a titch of bronchitis.  Fun times, right?  But that means I can finally have an excuse to sit on the couch under my quilt and watch some shows that have been piling up in my 'to watch' list.  So far it's been all about Luke Cage and Veronica Mars.  Oy, both of these are so good and I'm so sucked in that it takes away from the constant state of snottiness and coughing that is my life.

On that note, why had I never watched VM before now?  Wow.  The fashion.  The strong female lead.  The sleuthing about.  Did I ever mention it's one of my secret life ambitions to learn how to pick a lock with a hairpin?  Did I mention the fashion?  Brady's watching vice presidential debates and I'm all over here like 'Omfg, look at all the black chokers and cargo pants and all the stuff that Athens kids are wearing now because irony!  Nostalgia!'  Eh, I'm keeping up with politics but when I'm sick I don't want to deal with that circus show of shouting.

In between sniffles and nose-blowings, I'm trying to get a lot of things settled in preparation for the upcoming weekend.  Brady's playing a few shows out of town as well as a gig at the Georgia Theatre so that means all 6 of the animals, and there various special needs, will be all on me.  I have a pretty big wedding order for the weekend but luckily my assistant is working extra so I can have some rest time before all that begins.  Oh, and did I mention that our friends from the UK are visiting?!?  I can't wait to hug their necks and buy them a tasty dinner at The National.  Splurgggggge for sure!  Fingers crossed I can taste things by that point.

The couch calls, y'all.  I'm off to nap and fever dream of being better.  Happy Wednesday!

03 October 2016

First Days Of Autumn

The more realistic title of this post would be 'yeah, it's Autumn but it's still in the 80's because we live in Georgia so that's not unusual but it's better than over 100 days of being in the 90's that we just got done with'.  We're taking what we can get!  And in Ms. Tullah's opinion this is the perfect time to get out of the house and explore.  It's not too hot (for a 70+ year old chihuahua) and it's not too cold (again, for a 70+ year old chihuahua)...it's juuuuuust right.

And we can't leave the kitties out of it, of course...

26 September 2016

Summer Goals / Update

A while back I came up with a short list of my late-ish summer goals.  How did I do now that summer is at end?  Let's take a gander...

Movie Matinee Mondays

Ah, Mondays.  They have a bad reputation don't they?  And you know what else about Mondays?  They are absolutely the worst day to try to schedule a regular movie schedule with the gals.  We went from Mondays to Wednesdays to just whenever we could get together but we did get together almost every single week.  So I'm counting this as a win!

Here's a short list of what I had originally planned to view with the successful ones crossed out:

Captain Fantastic
Star Trek Beyond
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Swiss Army Man

I'm still bummed I missed Captain Fantastic but I'll rent it on video soon.  As for Lobster, well, I decided to not watch it and I'm not regretting that choice.  Too many people told me too much about the plot and I didn't like what they shared.  So, for now, that movie is shelved.

As for the ones I did see from the list, well, most weren't groundbreaking or the like.  Ghostbusters was laugh-out-loud-at-times good but it didn't blow me away like I had hoped.  And Star Trek Beyond felt waaaaaay cheesy this go 'round for me even though Simon Pegg has my heart as an actor since Spaced.  Ab Fab was one of my favorite movies of the summer in regards to comedy.  I seriously couldn't stop snort-laughing almost every 10 minutes.  Of course it helped that I went with 5 awesome ladies that made the whole experience just a hill of fun!  Swiss Army Man was beautifully shot and a really unique premise but it just got kind of silly and made it more of a 'meh' than a 'yeah!'

There were so many other movies I found myself lucky enough to be sitting in a theater watching and out of all of them I have to say Hunt For The Wilderpeople was my ultimate favorite.  So, so, so good.  I will warn animal lovers though that there is a bit of a difficult scene about 3/4 the way in so be prepared for that.  But I'd watch the movie again in a heartbeat...just like I would with Taika Waititi's other popular work What We Do In The Shadows.

Georgia Ghost Town Road Trips

My state has so many ghost towns scattered all over and it was my intention to see them all...or at least as many as I could during the summer.  Little did I know that the number would remain hovering at the same ol' 2 that I had seen at the beginning of the summer.  Ooops!  I did visit one new one but I didn't bring my camera and I was super grumpy pissed that I forgot it and I just turned around and came on home.  Real mature, I know.  So that doesn't count and this goal remains incomplete for now.  But I'm still going to visit all the ghost towns because, um, ghost towns.

Take a gander at the original post here and the first two ghost towns here and here.

Tubing In Asheville

I now have several friends that live in Asheville so I'm trying to get up there on the regular to visit them and to explore.  Annnnnd even though I went just a few times this summer I failed to do any tubing.  Nor did I tube around here.  Hell, I haven't even taken out my kayak in months.  So this one is a no-go for sure.

Become A Master (Or At Least A-Ok) At Cooking Indian Food

Does eating lots of Indian food count?  Nooooo?  Then, fail me at this one too.  The only Tumeric that has been residing in my kitchen is in my multi-vitamin.

Go To At Least One Summer Festival

Peaches.  Tomatoes.  Ice Cream.  Butterflies.  Peanuts.  Bluegrass.  BBQ.  Art.  Cars.  Races.

What do all of these things have in common?  They were are all central concepts behind many the  festivals featured in Georgia this summer.  Festivals that were free of this Jennifer Keene since I didn't go to a single one.  Nope.  Not a one.  FAIL!

I do, however, have big plans for some fall festivals, one of which is all about vultures yayayayay!, so let's see how things go...

Explore Atlanta

Whoooo!  I got off my tush and got in the car and explored Atlanta quite a bit this summer.  We did the Botanical Gardens, continued our search for the best Vietnamese food on Buford Highway, had quite an experience at Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party, tried to get into the Bellwood Quarry but it's all private and I haven't gotten permission yet, walked the BeltLine and so much more.  I'll have pictures coming soon for sure but for now let's just write this off as a successful goal.  And a fun one at that!

Even though I didn't make all my goals I'm not upset.  They were supposed to encourage me to go out, have a darn good time, learn something new, etc, and I did all those things in some way even if it didn't align completely with all of these goals.  I'm just happy to have had a happy and healthy summer!