A Day at the Fair

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I’ll be up front with you: I’m not one of those people who lives for the county fair. In fact, the last time we went was, oh… about six years ago. I looked back through my photos and it was 2008. Laura wasn’t even born yet! Typically, the crowds and traffic make me anxious, but this year Jacob got free ride tickets for moving tables around with the scouts. So we decided to go this year.

And you know what? I actually had a graet time! Yesterday we went around 3:30, we didn’t hit traffic (yes, believe it or not, even though we only live 10 min. from the fairgrounds it IS possible to get stuck in horrendous traffic), we got a great parking spot… everything just worked out.

We started in the arts & crafts builing and I was so happy to see that one of my friends did exceptionally well in the culinary category. She won best overall, as well as several specific awards. Then… imagine my surprise to see a blue ribbon on someone else’s fair entry… Laura’s! The kids actually did the barnwood painting at day camp in July and if parents agreed to have the project enter the fair, it was done. I believe she is the first Bancroft to win a blue ribbon in the Dutchess County Fair. (Though truth be told… next year I am seriously considering entering a few entries into the knitting & crochet categories).

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Of course, we walked through the 4H barns and ran into some familiar faces. I didn’t take any pictures but oh, were those piggies cute! And the chickens… if I were not concerned about wolves, foxes, and bears I would definitely have some backyard chickens here. But for now I will just admire those at the fair.

The kids had a great time on the rides. Noah surprised us and said he wanted to go on this ride that swings you way high… like almost over the top. A bit reluctantly, I said OK, and well, he certainly learned that he is more like his mom than his dad when it comes to carnival rides. Nevertheless, he made it through and got off with a smile. That’s my guy!

Dutchess County Fair 2014

Laura loved the carousel. (And the up and down motion of the horse was about all I could take — yes, I am a total wuss, LOL!). She went on a few other kiddie rides and had a great time.

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I am happy to say we did really well when it came to fair food. There were so many tempting treats: fried dough, tempura, pizza… lots of bad-for-you, but oh-so-good treats.

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Drew and I got gyros for dinner (which were absolutely delicious and worth every overpriced cent), and the kids got burgers or hot dogs. Later on, everyone got to pick a treat. Drew got a chocolate-covered banana, Noah got a walk-away sundae, Jake got a candy apple, Laura got cotton candy, and I got a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

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It was definitely a fun way to spend a Thursday evening.

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Guys, last year I had to miss out on the debut of the Country Living Fair here in Rhinebeck at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We had events that entire weekend and there was no way I could eek out the time to attend. But this year? I wrote it in my planner as soon as I found out the dates and I was not going to miss it again!

The weather was absolutely perfect for a day of walking around and being absolutely inspired by all of the creative ideas I saw. The fairground was transformed! I had just been there for CamporALL with the Cub Scouts, but it didn’t look anywhere near as pretty as this. Check it out — buntings everywhere! And I swear they were misting the scent of lavender and cinnamon because everything smelled wonderful.

Country Living Fair 2014

Obviously the vendors want you to buy their wares, but I couldn’t help but steal a few ideas for finished products that were out of my budget. This “Pickles” sign was one of them. The sign, while super cool, was not coming home with me for over $100. And while I doubt I could do a perfect lettering job, it still provided some inspiration.

Country Living Fair 2014

I loved these chairs with the ragamuffin strips hanging down the sides — kind of like a prim tutu, isn’t it?
Country Living Fair 2014

Here was another project I thought I could replicate with a shabby frame, some ticking, an old BINGO card, and a cute vintage image:
Country Living Fair 2014

And who knew that if I could safely take down a hornet’s nest I could not only use it as a home dec accent, but I could also charge $35 for it? (But I have to admit — it does look cool.)
Country Living Fair 2014

Here are a few more “this and that” photos of pretty things:
Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

I am already excited for next year! I’ll have one more Country Living Fair post this week all about “glamping.” I’d never heard that term before, but if you love the idea of cute caravan/camper decor… just wait! These ladies had more style in their tiny little campers than I do in my entire house, LOL.

Snow Day

snow day

You’d think that after living in the Northeast for my entire life, that snow would be boring by this point. But you know what? That first real snowfall is still so exciting and beautiful and I just stare and think about how magnificent nature is.

I really am so lucky to live in the most gorgeous part of the country.

snow day

snow day

snow day

snow day

snow day

Saturday Catch-Up

poet's walk pavillion

Hey everyone! I know, I know… it’s been a quiet week. My MIL took the boys to Maine earlier this week, so I guess I’ve been on vacation of sorts too. Things just weren’t on schedule, you know? We were going out more, I was being a little bit lazier… but I guess that’s the beauty of summer, right?

They came home on Friday morning and had a great time! They walked on the beach, swam in the hotel pool and had a ton of fun. Meanwhile, we kept things pretty quiet. We did go to the Indian buffet (Laura was obsessed with the mulligatawny soup!)

laura

We kept things close to home on the 4th of July. We grilled burgers and watched movies. Nothing too crazy.

I finally (finally!) got my new crock pot. Oh yes, I definitely needed an appliance lift. As I mentioned, my old slow cooker died. Today I broke in my new one with sauce, turkey meatballs, and Italian sausage. Sure it’s great using the slow cooker when it’s cold, but it is a life saver when it is hot & humid — no heating up the kitchen!

new slow cooker

This morning we headed over to Poet’s Walk Park in Red Hook. Although it’s a very popular place to hike we’d never been there before. We all had a great time!

This is the bridge I drive across several times a week to go… well, pretty much anywhere (Walmart, Target, Michael’s, Dollar Tree, any and all fast-food restaurants). I love getting the different perspective! That’s the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains you see in the  distance.

kingston-rhinecliff bridge

I also decided to step WAY out of my comfort zone and plank in public. I’ve been doing the 21-day Plank With Bex challenge. I started out at around 58 seconds 12 days ago. Today I was up to 2 minutes 10 seconds!!! It’s amazing to see how much progress you can make in just a few days — so awesome!

planking at poet's walk

Ugh, as for tonight, I’m just trying to keep cool. It has been ridiculously hot & humid lately. Hate it! I started a granny stripe blanket and I love it and I need to blog about that, too. But honestly? I think all I’m doing this evening is drinking ice water (actually, chewing on ice) and vegging out to whatever we put on Netflix.

Tomorrow Jake has SCUBA (seriously, he does the coolest stuff with his Boy Scout Troop! We absolutely made the right decision when weighing the two different troops in town). Then we need to head over across that bridge and get house stain at Home Depot. After that, who knows? Lake? Sprinkler? We shall see…

{Recipe} Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

Sometimes I just feel so blessed to live where we live! Sure, once in a while I get homesick and think about moving back to Massachusetts, or feel like exploring a completely new area of the country. But by and large, my adopted home of the Hudson Valley suits me very well. One of the things I like best is all the pick-your-own farms. A favorite is Fraleigh’s Rose Hill Farm just a few minutes away in Red Hook. Yesterday we took advantage of some free time to head over and pick a real summertime treat: sour cherries.

Sour Cherries | www.puresugar.net

Contrary to the name, I don’t find sour cherries to really be all that sour. But certainly they are not as cloying as the sweet cherries. They are also infinitely easier to pit, which makes them my preferred cherry for baking, jam, canning, and so forth. The kids were begging me to bake a cherry pie, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for the crust so we went with a cobbler instead.

I was very excited to use my Lodge cast iron skillet for something besides steak!

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler
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Filling
  1. 4 cups pitted sour cherries
  2. 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  5. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Biscuits
  1. 1 cup unbleached flour
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 2 Tbsp. sugar
  5. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  6. 6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
  7. 1/4 c. boiling water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine cherries, cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside and let everything come together.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a second bowl, adding the butter pieces last. Using a pastry tool or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients, cutting in the butter until crumbly. Carefully add the boiling water, a little bit at a time, and stir until the mixture forms a soft dough.
  3. Add the cherry mixture to a cold cast iron skillet and gently bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop spoonfuls of the biscuit mixture on top of the cherries. If desired, sprinkle extra sugar on top of the biscuits. Bake for 45 minutes until the biscuits turn golden.
Notes
  1. * You can probably use regular old AP flour -- I just prefer the unbleached flour and that's what I had.
  2. * You are probably supposed to use unsalted butter for this. I didn't have it and used regular butter. Tasted a-okay to me!
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/
 All three kids oohed and ahhed as I took this delicious dish out of the oven. And Mean Mommy made everyone wait until supper was finished (and vegetables had all been eaten) before anyone could have a taste. But it was worth it!  Everyone savored this yummy dessert. It might have been better if I’d had whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but I didn’t hear any complaints so I’m not sure anyone even noticed.

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

First Weekend of the Summer

Summer geraniums

Good morning everyone and happy Monday! It’s here! It’s here! Summer is finally here! Friday was the last day of school for the kids and we decided to kick off the summer with a backyard movie (“Airplane!“). Most of our friends already had plans by the time we decided to do this, but a couple other families came and everyone really seemed to have a great time.

showtime

This is something we intend to do all summer long and honestly — it’s the easiest kind of entertaining there is. No need to worry about about meal or how clean your house is (well, maybe the bathroom 😉 ). Everyone brings a blanket or some chairs and sets themselves up in the yard. We did have popcorn, Twizzlers, and lemonade and I think it was great. 

Saturday morning Drew and Jake went off with the Boy Scouts. His troop was having a “summer camp shakedown” — a quick overnight camp out to prepare for camp in a few weeks. Drew just went for the morning and early afternoon to help out. While they were over at the state park, I took Noah and Laura to the library tag sale. One of our patrons had a fantastic idea for a massive tag sale to benefit the library. You paid for a spot, that went as a donation to the library, and it was your show from there. There were a lot of really nice items — not just your typical “yard sale” stuff. I held back, though, and only came away with a corner shelf for Laura’s room (which I will repaint). I did let the kids get something though. Laura wanted a couple Beanie Babies and a pair of Snow White dress up shoes. And Noah was enamoured with a Domino Rally set. 

Then we came home, had a bite for lunch, and decided to go to the lake. They had a blast splashing and playing in the sand!

lake

We had burgers outside for dinner and then let the kids run through the sprinkler.

Yesterday was really low-key. I spent the morning browsing Pinterest and shopping online for a new slow cooker. My big 6-quart Crock Pot died about two months ago and I’ve been trying to see if we could live without it, but… I just can’t do it. I need the big one for broth, ribs, roasts, etc. Add that to the list of kitchen gadgets decided to go ka-put. We also had to replace our toaster oven this month! Ugh… too bad there aren’t Crock Pot/toaster  appliance bundles. Anyway, I decided on a beautiful new slow cooker and I can’t wait to get it!

 photo slowcooker_zps839643f6.jpg

Jake got home around lunchtime and showed us what might be the most adorable bottle of Tabasco sauce that I’ve ever seen. One of the dads is in the service and brought some MREs on the camp out, and this was included with Jake’s sloppy joe.

Tiny Tabasco

The most stunning thing about the entire weekend was this: yesterday afternoon we all napped. Yes, even me! I never sleep during the day unless I’m sick, but I guess I was just really tired. No matter, it was so relaxing. Then it was Crock Pot chicken tacos for dinner (outside again, of course), a run through the sprinkler, and we did another outdoor family movie (just us) because the screen was still up.

I really can’t think of a better way to kick off summer. Of course, now it’s Monday and back to work. But it was lovely to not have to make bag lunches or put kids on a bus, so I’m not going to complain 🙂 Hope your week is off to a great start!

Click!

A few months ago I bought a 50mm lens for my camera, thanks to our tax refund. And I’ve really been enjoying using it. In fact, it’s re-ignited my interest in photography. Not since the early days of Flickr have I taken so many photos! So when It learned about a site that is just for local photography, well it didn’t take much convincing to get me to join.

Coincidentally, they currently have a 50mm challenge going on right now! I thought I’d share the photos I’ve entered so far.

The Very Hungry (Thirsty?) Caterpillar by Carol Bancroft on Capture Mid-Hudson Valley

The Very Hungry (Thirsty?) Caterpillar by Carol Bancroft

Azalea by Carol Bancroft on Capture Mid-Hudson Valley

Azalea by Carol Bancroft

Memorial Day Fun by Carol Bancroft on Capture Mid-Hudson Valley

Memorial Day Fun by Carol Bancroft

Vintage treasure by Carol Bancroft on Capture Mid-Hudson Valley

Vintage treasure by Carol Bancroft

It’s a start!