Tag Archives: Outdoors

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar…Part Deux by Valerie J. Patterson

You might recall that back in 2012 I regaled you with a tale about using power tools, namely the power washer.  I’m sure it was one of those purely unforgettable stories that you then repeated many times around a campfire, the dinner table, and at the office water cooler!

When you’re done either laughing at my recollection or scratching your head while trying to recall what I am talking about, let’s move on to today’s “Roar”.

I am woman hear me roar…with a mower too big to ignore!

Steve and I bought a new lawn tractor and I am the operator of said tractor.  My first ride, I could feel the power as I zoomed up the driveway toward the front lawn.  I turned toward the lawn, lowered the blades, and smiled as thousands of pieces of grass confetti shot out the right side of the cutting deck.  My hair was pulled back, the wind was blowing across my face…and so was the grass I had just cut!

Note to self:  never mow into the wind unless you LIKE the taste of cut grass!

These days, I whip around the yard and zoom up and down the driveway.  It’s fun!

I’ve made good use of that power washer, too.  My porch furniture never looks better than after a fresh power washing!  It has a way of making everything shiny and new!

Plus, I can also add the snow blower to the list of power tools I have mastered.  Had plenty of opportunity to use that baby this past winter.  Kind of glad it’s been exchanged for the lawn tractor, though!

Until next time, may there be power tools in your life that make your life easier, comfier, and more beautiful!  Happy Spring, Y’all!!

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Cloudy With A Chance of “Rain Day” by Valerie J. Patterson

Rain Day statue in borough park

Rain Day statue in borough park

According to the rain record, it’s rained on July 29th 113 of the last 138 years in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.  Now, this may seem an odd thing for someone to track, but in Greene County, we celebrate the fact that one local farmer made a comment to William Allison, a local pharmacist back in the late 1800s, that it always seemed to rain on July 29th.  Mr. Allison and his brother Albert kept a record of the rainfall until the 1920s when Bryon Daily took over the recordkeeping.  Today, we close off High Street, the main thoroughfare through uptown—we have no “downtown” as you must go up a hill to get to downtown Waynesburg —and we have an old fashioned street fair.  The center of the festival takes place on the courthouse steps.  This tradition began in 1979, and Rain Day is the only celebrated holiday in the world that is not a success unless it rains!!

Greene County Courthouse

Greene County Courthouse

1939 marks the earliest record of the notorious “Hat Bet” when celebrities—the likes of which include Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, The Three Stooges, Johnny Carson, Willard Scott, Harry Anderson, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Fran Drescher, Jay Leno, and the Dixie Chicks, just to name a few—wagered their hats against our rain!  The hats won from the multitude of celebrities who lost their wagers are on display here while others were auctioned off in order to raise funds to begin a hospice care in the 1980s.

High Street

High Street

Rain Day festivities include the Miss Rain Day Pageant, comedy and musical entertainment, face painting, food booths, the Texaco Country Showdown, umbrella decorating competition, turtle racing, bubble gum bubble blowing competition, and the Company K Salute.

High Street, 2

High Street, 2

The Company K Salute commemorates the courageous Greene County men of Company K, 2nd Battalion, 110th Infantry.  The Rain Day festivities are stilled each year and a moment of silence is given in honor of those brave men of Company K.  Nearly half their 250 men were either killed or wounded in France during World War I on Rain Day, July 29, 1918.  The late John O’Hara, a local newsman, is often quoted for having once written, “On that Rain Day in 1918, it rained bullets on the men of Company K.”

Young or old, the people come out to celebrate and hope it pours!

If you’d like to know more about Rain Day, navigate the Rain Day website, which can be found at: Rain Day

If you’re going to be in the area and would like to enter your turtle in the race, just come on over…but you might want to bring your umbrella!

Until next time…may the rain in your life always be a cool summer shower and a cause for celebration!!

Outdoor Food Simply by Valerie J. Patterson

I’m late!  I’m late!  I guess I thought this blog was going to write itself!  It’s been a very hectic week, and I have not been here to visit, to read, or to comment.  Nor have I been here to write my blog.  So, unfortunately, I need to write this one right off the top of my head and hope I don’t bore anyone.  I had minor laser surgery today as well, so this is *really* late.  Please accept my apologies!

From the time I was a toddler my parents took my siblings and me camping.  I loved the clean mountain air, the cool, crisps nights, the bright and early mornings, and THE FOOD!  Meals cooked over an open fire just have a certain flavor one cannot achieve indoors no matter how it’s prepared.

As an adult, I have spent countless summers out in the woods with either my Girl Scout troop or my Preteen Sunday school class.  Everything was cooked over a fire, over a coffee can, inside a coffee can, or inside a whiskey box covered entirely with foil!

There were a couple mishaps along with way–like the time the fire shifted and our spaghetti toppled over, or the time the brown paper bag with our eggs and bacon caught fire and became a massive torch, or the time the sun was not nearly as hot as we would have liked and our chocolate chip cookies took an entire day to bake in the whiskey box!

But mostly, it’s been wonderful eating in a gorgeous setting with loads of laughter, tons of thanks, and many great adult friends to work beside.  Some of my fondest memories are from trust hikes, but that’s another blog!

My friends Sharon and Amy reminded me of some of my favorite recipes the other day so I thought I’d share them here for you to try as you will!

Here are a couple you can try at home–outdoors of course!

Tacos in a Bag:

You will need small individual size bags of Doritos (regular flavor), lean ground beef cooked perfectly over your wood fire, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and hot sauce to suit.  Open your bag of Doritos and then crunch them up while they are still inside the bag.  Add two tablespoons of beef, lettuce and tomato and hot sauce, hold the bag closed and shake, shake, shake!  Open bag and eat!  These are excellent tacos plus clean up is the pot you cooked the beef in and the utensils.  Snap!

Omelets in a Bag (seeing a pattern here):

You’ll need heavy duty freezer zipper bags (1 quart size), eggs, crumbled, precooked sausage, salt and pepper to taste, and shredded cheese.  Open your zipper bag and crack two eggs into it, add crumbled sausage, shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste.  Close zipper bag–making certain it is sealed perfectly–then shake, shake, shake until eggs are scrambled.  Place the zipper bag in a pot of boiling water for 12 minutes.  Remove bag from water, open, and toss omelet onto plate.  Eat and enjoy!  In a large group, this fast and easy breakfast insures that everyone eats together instead of waiting for each omelet to cook.

These are so good and so easy, I have made them on a Saturday morning on the stove.  No mess, no fuss, no left overs, either!

Milkshake in a Bag (definitely see that pattern, now, don’t ya):

You’ll need (per milkshake) one cup cold milk, 1/2 cup cream, 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract, and flavoring to suit–like chocolate sauce–2 zipper bags (1 one-gallon and 1 half-gallon).  Mix milk, cream, vanilla, and chocolate sauce in the 1/2 gallon zipper bag and seal shut–making certain it’s sealed perfectly–place inside gallon bag and surround with ice.  Add a dash of salt over the ice and seal shut.  Next, shake, shake, shake the bags until mixture is thick and frothy.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!  This tasty treat is especially fun as kids find creative ways to shake their bags!

Foil Dinners (nope, no bag for this one, just a pouch):

Per dinner you’ll need two sheets of heavy duty foil, one section of the weekly newspaper dipped in water, but not dripping wet.  Place wet newspaper between two sheets of heavy duty foil.  In center of foil place 8-10 cubes stewing beef or chunks of fresh chicken, 10-15 chunks cut raw potato, some onion, carrots, celery, and season salt, salt and pepper.  Gather two ends of the foil together above the center and roll down to seal top , forming a pouch.  roll each side in toward the center and scrunch tightly together to seal pouch.  Place each pouch inside hot coals from campfire checking after 15 minutes to see if veggies and beef or chicken are cooked to perfection.  Eat right out of foil pouch.  Only cleanup are the utensils!  This meal was such a hit with my Girl Scouts they took it home to their parents who made it on the grill, placing the pouches beneath the charcoal.

And finally–Breakfast Muffins:

You’ll need whole oranges and Jiffy muffin mix.  Cut the top off of each orange and scoop out until orange peel is clean and without any holes.  Save scooped orange to eat with muffin later.  Prepare Jiffy muffin mix and fill each orange 3/4 full.  Replace orange top.  Carefully wrap with foil and set oranges on hot coals.  “Bake” for 10 minutes and check muffin with toothpick.  Replace on coals if not quite done.  Eat muffin right out of orange peel.  Only cleanup are the utensils!  These muffins are incredible and packed with natural flavor, but feel free to add cranberries or blueberries or whatever fruit you’ll like and enjoy!

I wish I had photos of each to share, but I hope you’ll be adventurous enough to try the recipes out!

Until next time…happy eating!

Take care,

Valerie

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar … With Power Tools! By Valerie J. Patterson

I believe I completely know how Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor must have felt each time he held a power tool in his hand.  Sunday evening the bubbly hubby and I decided to finally open our screened-in outdoor living area so that we could take advantage of some of the cool evenings that have followed tremendous heat and high humidity days.  Ordinarily, Steve has this done in early May, and usually has dinner made and the outdoor table set for a nice little evening free of bugs and whatnot.

I love our outdoor living space because I can sit on our very generous swing and place a table in front of it, my laptop on top of the table, beverage of choice beside it, and allow the creativity to move my nimble fingers across the keys, their steady tap-tap-tap beating out the rhythm of a great mystery to be solved by my favorite heroine.

But I digress.

My swing turned 13 years old in May, and so did the cushion, which accidentally got left out in the elements instead of being securely tucked away for the winter.  Sadly, it needed replaced.  Not an easy task, I assure you since I wanted something very comparable to the original cushion.  So, Steve and I went shopping for what seemed like the eighth or tenth time, having taken back the cushion we bought in May because–while it looked nice in the store–it did not quite suit the character of the swing.

While we were out Steve said he wanted to buy a power/pressure washer so the cleaning of the outdoor living space would move faster and more thoroughly.  We finally settled on a washer about the same time we settled on the new swing cushion, which not only suits the character of the swing, but also passes the “Can I nap on it comfortably?” test.  We’re driving home and I asked, “Will you be power washing tonight?” Even though it’s 90+ degrees and humid as can be.  I’m anxious to use the swing and new cushion.

He shakes his head affirmatively, “I have a new toy, er, new tool to test, so I very well may power wash tonight.”

As we empty the trunk of our purchases, I caution that perhaps it’s not the best time to power wash given the fact that within seconds of being out of the air conditioning everything sticks to skin, and it’s as hot as a pizza oven outside.

He nods, considering my comments, but I can tell by the glint in his eye that he’s going to get that power washer out of the box and be outside before I can make the same cautionary comment.  And I’m right.

Sitting on the sofa in the house–where it’s not only cool and comfortable, but also humidity-free–I listen to the whir of the power washer and wonder what all the excitement is about power tools.  Changing into a pair of old capris and a tee, bare foot, and ready to get soaked, I open the side door and stick my head out.

“How’s it going?” I ask as I look around and notice everything is white again and spotless.

“This thing works like a dream,” he responds.  “I don’t think I need to repaint the banisters after all.”

I notice that he’s cleaned the screened walls, the banisters, and the flooring, but all the furniture is outside on the lawn.  “Can I power wash?” I ask.

“Sure, just put something on your feet.”

I grab his sandals from inside the door, slip my feet into them, and follow him out to the lawn.  He hands me the power gun, which isn’t as heavy as I imagined, and instructs me on how to use it.  I aim it at the first patio chair and squeeze the trigger.  A 46-degree jet of water shoots out and obliterates the winter grime covering the patio chair.  Instantly, I hear the tool man’s guttural, “ooh-ooh-ohho-oh” in my mind and nearly belt it out myself.

Steve turns the chair over and I do the underside before he flips it back over for me to do the topside again.  Instantly–and I do mean instantly–the patio chair looks brand new … like I just brought it home from the store.

I grin.  I can understand why Steve jokingly–or was it–said he had a new toy to try out.  I move onto the next patio chair, then the table, then my ornamental flag my friend, Sharon gave me eons ago.  Hah!  What do you know?  The flag looks as good as the day I first set it out!  Now, I’m ready to power wash everything in sight!  Let me at it!

I go back into the screened enclosure and look at my old friend the swing.  “You haven’t done this yet?” I inquire?

Steve shakes his head.  “Not yet.”

“Good.”  And I unleash my jet stream of water and soap onto the swing.  Last winter’s grime is no match for my, er, Steve’s new power washer!

I release the trigger, lower the gun, and stare at the now clean swing glistening with droplets of water.  I look toward the sky and unleash my own version of the tool grunt.

Yes, indeed, I am woman.  I use power tools.  Hear me roar!