Kirby’s dos and don’ts…

What’s that saying….”Failure is the stepping stone to success” or something like that.  I wanted to share some things I’ve recently learned with my readers to prevent you from making the same mistakes.

#1.  Wear glasses while cutting onions.

The lenses will prevent the onion’s chemical from getting into your eyes and you won’t cry. “Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears.” (Quote from recipes.howstuffworks.com)

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Onions for tomato pie.

2.  Put a cookie sheet under your pie crust when baking.

The reason being, if whatever you are baking should boil over it is much easier to clean a cookie sheet than the baking element in the bottom of your oven.

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See….the cookie sheet saved me!

3.  Put wax paper under the rice when you prebake your pie crust.

I made a tomato pie recently and the recipe called for me to prebake the pie crust before filling it with all the goodness that is tomato pie.  The crust puffed up and cracked a bit.  To prevent this the second time I filled the crust with uncooked rice (this weighs down the bottom) and prebaked. You can use dried beans as well.  The one thing I didn’t do was put a barrier between the rice and pie shell.  Oops.  Hence, I spent the next 5 minutes picking rice out of my shell. Wax paper is your friend.

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I used brown rice, which made it even harder to see to pick out.  😦

 

Opa!

It’s that time again!  This weekend was the Greek Festival in downtown Columbia and we went on Saturday.  We being me, Donna and Jennifer.  Suprisingly enough Jennifer had never been to the festival so we were excited to bring her along.  We also ended up meeting up with more friends Dawn, Edie and Edie’s daughter Haley.

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Me, Haley, Dawn, Edie, Donna & Jennifer

Now looking at the vendors is all well and good but the main reason for going to the Greek festival is the food!  Speaking of food, I would like to take this opportunity to poll my readers about the pronunciation of one particular Greek dish.  The gyro.

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I grew up on Long Island where a gyro is phonetically pronounced “ji-ro” and then I moved to South Carolina where everyone phonetically pronounces it “e-ro”.  Supposedly I’ve been saying it wrong all along but I just can’t bring myself to change my ways on this one.  I’ll say “buggy” instead of “cart”, “highway dept” instead of “DMV”, even “wreck” instead of “accident” but I just won’t budge on how I say gyro.  How do you say it?  I’m curious.

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Donna enjoying her Gyro 🙂

And yes, we both ordered gyros for dinner and Jennifer got chicken strips.  The gyros had a plain yogurt sauce on them with some onions and tomatoes.  They were good but Donna found hers to be little dry due to the cook being a little stingy with the yogurt sauce.  Now on the other hand, the chicken that Jennifer ordered was delicious.  The chicken itself was very moist and the breading was extremely tasty.  I was very pleasantly suprised by this.  We didn’t even need dipping sauce, it was that good.  Next we headed to the building where the desserts were.  My sister was originally going to come with us but she was sick and had to pass on this crawl.  Although she did put in a request that I bring her some baklava to help cure what ailed her.  Uh huh.  Baklava is the best medicine for any illness, no?

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Instead of getting the traditional baklava that is layer upon layer of filo dough I chose the chocolate baklava, which is rolled instead of layered.  I actually preferred this over the traditional being it wasn’t as syrupy sweet.  It was delicious.  Funny thing, the way my dad judges if a dessert if good or not is by how much it weighs.  If I bring him a sweet, he’ll hold it in his hands and checks the weight.  He’ll eat it regardless of how much it weighs but he prefers one that’s heavy.

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Dad at Zesto with two of his favorite things…his girls and ice cream!

Now this photo was obviously not taken this weekend (it’s cooled down a little but not quite to the “I need a knit hat” temp) but I just wanted to include a picture of my dad and his love of sweets.  Why?  Because I think he’s pretty great and I wanted to share that with all of you.  So if you have someone in your life that you too think is pretty great, tell them.  Life is short.

 

Labor day lunch date

Originally we had planned to meet my cousin Jennifer over at D’s Wings on Axtell Drive in Cayce for lunch but when we got there they were closed for the holiday.  Thankfully The Kingsman, which is right next door, was open for business.  It’s hard to believe that in the almost 6 years that we have lived here I have never eaten at The Kingsman restaurant.  Donna has gone there once before but I have never been.  The parking lot is always filled to maximum capacity every time I drive past.  My dad told me that the restaurant has been there for forever but in actuality it has been there for 45 years.

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Grilled chicken sandwhich, Kingsman burger and a reuben.

The menu included steaks, chicken, burgers, wings, sandwiches and salads.  Jennifer decided on a burger and fries and Donna chose the grilled chicken sandwhich with bacon & cheese with a salad off the specials board.  I, on the other hand, ordered a reuben on texas toast with a salad.  Usually this sandwhich is made on rye so I wasn’t sure about the texas toast but I was willing to try it.  This is a food blog, isn’t it?

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Reuben sandwhich with side salad.

As long as salad is an option on the menu I order it.  I love salad and there is nothing more disappointing to me that getting a crappy salad.  The salad at The Kingsman has passed the test and earned the “Kirby Culinary Crawl” stamp of approval!

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The shirt is to pay tribute to USC’s win this past Saturday.  Go Cocks!!!

The pastrami on the sandwhich was very good, sliced nice and thin.  The cheese was melted to perfection and the thousand island dressing, even though a little thin, was very tasty.  I was not a fan of the texas toast.  Although it was delicious, it was not a sturdy enough vehicle to deliver the weight of the pastrami, cheese, kraut and thousand island.  The bread was too soft and got soggy making the sandwhich difficult to eat.  Rye is a much denser bread and better suited for this sandwhich.

Feeling full from lunch we decided to walk it off at Michaels craft store.  This is Donna’s favorite place and the gift card she had gotten from Dad & Yuri for her birthday was burning a hole in her wallet.

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Jennifer having fun in the Halloween section 🙂

After we left Michaels we headed over to a new ice cream joint called Brain Feeze over on Knox Abbot Drive.  Unfortunately they were  closed for the holiday.  So over to Krispy Kreme we go.

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Introducing “The Krispy Kreme Girls”

Now Jennifer had said that they had ice cream at Krispy Kreme so that’s why went (also to get some cool hats so we could be the envy of all our friends) but when we asked at the counter… shut down again!  “No ice cream for you!”  They stopped carrying ice cream.  We got doughnuts, a coke and coffees to go and we were off.

We had texted our good friend Deanne who works at one of our favorite places, The Old Mill Antique Mall on State Street, to see if she’d like a coffee.  Next stop, Antiques!

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Deanne was a good sport for agreeing to wear the Krispy Kreme hat we brought her with the coffee and doughnut.

You just never know what the day is going to bring.  Today was filled with family, delicious food, lots of laughter, good friends and a stroll through an antique mall.  Whose got it better than me?

Gratitude….

As a recovering alcoholic of almost 26 years I know the importance of being grateful.  “A grateful alcoholic is a sober alcoholic”.  This is was what I heard, over and over, early on in my sobriety and it stands true today.

Today I am brimming with gratitude for my life.  Nothing special or out of the ordinary happened today and I didn’t win the power ball last night.  But all the same I wouldn’t trade my life for any other.

I am off today due to issues with my back.  My job has been extremely supportive with my injury, as they have always been with any misfortune that has come my way.  A good job is nothing to take lightly and the goodness is not just measured by how much money you make.  My Home Depot family genuinely cares about my well-being and success in and out of the workplace.  I have spent 19 plus years under their employ and they have always taken care of me.

 

I have to admit that I am not the best patient and I can be as stubborn as a mule when it comes to asking for help.  I would like to think that I have gotten better in this department but I guess you’d have to defer to my caretaker of the past 5 days of my back being out.  Accepting that I am powerless was another lesson that I learned early in my sobriety.  At that time it was being powerless over alcohol and now powerless over my injury and having to ask for help for things I currently can’t do myself.  Thank goodness for Donna.  She is the best medicine for me, whether I’m injured or not.  Over the past 9 years she has learned the ins and outs of Jenn Kirby.  When to nod in agreement and then just wait until I come to my senses and finally agree with the rational decision she posed in the first place.  To allow me to grow as a person through failure and success all the while being my number one cheerleader, rallying me on.  And if I crash and burn she is the first one there to pick me up after I’ve fallen and encourage me to try again.  Donna makes me a better person and I would be lost without her.

As far as where we live, it’s like being on a permanent vacation.  Living right on the Congaree River is just amazing.  I get to sit back on my patio and watch the folks float down stream in their kayaks and inner tubes.  Or occasionally I’ll see a fly fisherman knee-deep trying to catch the big one.  There are fan boats and boats with small out board motors out on the water.  I always get nervous when the river is very low that they might hit bottom being that there are many large rocks hidden right below the surface of the water.   Then there are the birds, the beautiful birds!  Egrets, swans, seagulls, ducks, etc.  Every time I wake up, open the blinds in my living room and see that river I just sigh to myself and say “How lucky am I”.

So, as you can see I have much to be grateful for this Sunday.  I do hope you all can find what you are thankful for and hold it close to your heart…

 

A walk in the park…

 

Nine years ago this past Thursday, Donna and I went on our first date. We spent it at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale, Long Island. To celebrate our special day we decided to kick off our “Ultimate Outsider” Challenge. The Ultimate Outsider Challenge is to visit all 47 state parks in South Carolina and once that is completed you get an “Ultimate Outsider” t-shirt and receive discounts at the parks, even some free stuff! So this will be a new topic for me to blog about. I know I haven’t shared much lately so this has lit a fire under my butt to blog.


We decided to start with the park closest to our apartment, Sesquicentennial State Park. What a gem!  There is a campground for rv’s and tents and rentals for canoes, paddle boats and standup paddle boards that you can take out on the 30 acre lake.  You can even rent fishing poles, just make sure you have your fishing license first.

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30 acre lake

The trees in the park are amazing.  I have included pictures but in order to experience their awe you truly need to see them in person.  There are small waterfalls and wild life all around.

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Towering pine trees
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Like something out of a movie set
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Small waterfall

It was so serene just listening as the water fall cascaded beside us as we sat and reflected on the past 9 years of our relationship.  How grateful we are for each other and for our new life here in South Carolina.  Both of us have been awakened by our new home, finding hidden talents and new strengths that were buried inside both of us.  The south is truly our “happy place” and we never want to leave.

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Kitchen towel our good friend Sheila & Teresa gave us 🙂

Why are warning labels so small?

While I was at work today I found myself squinting to make out a warning label on a can of paint stripper.  Why is it that the writing on these labels is so incredibly small?  Of course my glasses were not on my head but in my locker, so I had to pull a George Castanza and squint.  That is odd don’t you think.  No, not the Seinfeld reference but that the instructions on how NOT to harm yourself would be almost illegible without a magnifying glass.  I don’t get it.

 

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See, I told you!