Friday, September 26, 2014

Loving Work

Somehow I managed to secure what I like to think of as the best job in the world. Well, at least one your get paid for of course! I get to work with great folks, cool companies, and right here in my favorite state—Georgia! Folks seem to like to hear about my job and see the things I get to see on social media. I’m glad to share how awesome Georgia agriculture is to them!
I was able to bring Wyatt with me to our Georgia Grown Farmers Market Showcase in Moultrie. I don’t know who sent me good juju or prayed really hard or what, but I tell you Wyatt was almost 100% pure angel. He had a big bag full of toys to keep him occupied, he had snacks and way too much Coke, and he was able to be entertained chasing down the bean bags for the corn hole game. He was really proud of his new red Georgia Grown t-shirt and eventually changed into it. I think it made an impact on him. Every time we see a product in the grocery store with our Georgia Grown logo on it, he says, “Mama! I helped there!” Around 2:00, it was obvious he needed a nap. The rain had come and gone and things were wrapping up quickly so we called it a day. I’m glad he can see fun events like this and associate it with my job. I sometimes think Justin has the “fun” recognizable job—what little boy DOESN’T want to be a firefighter?
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I toured a new grass-fed cattle, sheep, and goat operation that is hoping to ramp up its agritourism efforts. This is the neatest place and only a few miles from Mama and Daddy’s house!
I was able to tour Meriwether County and visit with some peach farmers and other diversified ag operations. We ate at the Blackbird CafĂ© in Woodbury (the real one—a certified zombie-free zone!) that had the coolest decorations. An entire section of wall was covered with old painted doors and they had really neat glass insulator lighting fixtures.
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Meriwether County is also home to the longest and oldest covered bridge of its style. I can just imagine Sami would love to snap some photos here!
I also visited Cane River Vineyard and helped spread the massive list of Georgia Grown products we have gathered up. They want to carry Georgia products in their store right off the interstate in Byron.
Finally, at a Georgia Grown: 41 Trail Association meeting held at the Go Fish Education Center, we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility. If you haven’t been, you should really check it out. It’s really cheap ($5 for adults and FREE for kids under 12!!!) but if you can’t swing the entry fee, check out passes from your local library!
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stone Mountain

A few weeks ago, the entire Mastrario/Mathis/Cook clan (minus Daddy) went up to Stone Mountain. I have been dying to see the laser show for years now. It’s been since I was probably 12 or 14 that I’ve seen it. We got family day passes (get the Adventure Pass Meal Deal- it’s worth it to have free drink refills all day long!) and rode the train, took the sky tram to the top of the mountain (despite David’s deathly fear of heights, he did pretty okay!), and rode the Ducks!
The amphibious boat/car ride was the highlight of the boys’ day. We all got quackers and were encouraged to quack as much as we wanted.
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Wyatt and Liam even got to captain the boat in the middle of the lake for a bit. It was really neat that the captain let each and every single kid take a turn.
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By the time we got to the top of Stone Mountain, it was quickly approaching 2:00 and Wyatt was just about spent for the day. He barely wanted to smile in any picture. We were all hot so we headed to check into our hotel rooms and rest up.
Justin only got to watch part of the Georgia game since there was a rain/lightning delay. We headed back to the park to get dinner and watch the laser show. It was great! It didn’t seem to be as long as it used to be, but then what ever seems to be as good as it was when you were a kid? I am so glad we went and we all had a great time!

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Miscellany

At the start of this month, our town hosted the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. This 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall is brought to different parts of the country. It went beyond all expectations I had. Our community came together, with countless volunteers and sponsors, to bring this feature to our area to honor those that sacrificed their lives and fought for our country. It was a truly moving experience.
That same night, we drove up to the big peanut monument that many travelers might recognize from their drive on Interstate 75. I have been all over the country and when people tell me they’ve driven through Georgia, they always know where I mean when I tell them, “I’m from the town with the big peanut.” Justin remembers when his Daddy was in the Exchange Club and they helped renovate it many years ago. My dad’s leadership class helped get the gazebo built, but it is all in desperate need of repair. You can tell the points of the crown are supposed to be lit up but the entire thing needs to be re-wired. I believe I see a project coming on!
Wyatt started AWANA at church a few weeks ago. He is a Cubbie and is doing really well according to Ms. Mary and Ms. Marie. He learns a new Bible verse every week and is so proud to call folks and tell them what he’s learned. I’m thankful he is engaged and interested in learning about Christianity!
Riding down the dirt road with Justin the other day, I yelled, “STOP HERE!” I hopped out barefooted and snapped this picture of this beautiful red cow with the sun flare. I love it. The flare is a little overwhelming, but that’s practically how strong it is trying to drive down that road at the time.
We bottled up our honey after letting the “hive trash”—bits of beeswax, etc.—clear out of it. It is amazing to see and taste the difference in the dark and light honey and to know that these honeys came out of the same boxes!
This past weekend, my SIL Amanda told me about giant spiders that make their webs down the dirt road. Of course I just HAD to see them. She faced her ultimate fear and drove me down there, waited on the golf cart for me to get a stick, and didn’t even cry a tiny bit when I lifted it off its web and placed in on the dirt road to snap a few quick shots. They really are huge and have furry little leg warmer-esque legs.
Later in the day, Justin got out his (new-to-him) planter and fertilized the garden rows. He is busy planting our winter garden: collards, mustards, broccoli, spinach, and cabbage. I am a green vegetable fan so I am very excited about this harvest!
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Pulling Down Honey

Monday morning, we headed out to Justin’s parent’s house where our honeybees reside to steal their summer’s toil. We were robbing honey for our own use.
I spotted this dragonfly on the day lily stems and couldn’t resist snapping a picture of its fancy iridescent body and translucent wings.
I was able to get a photo of Justin smoking and dusting the bees off the frames before I got stung. One of the bees got tangled up in my hair and stung me right at my hair line. It hurt like a beast and I immediately popped two Benadryl (even though they were years out of date).
I woke up Tuesday morning like this:
Sorry I know it’s gross, but apparently the venom from the honeybee traveled down my face and made my entire eye swell shut. I quickly made it to the family clinic in town and walked away with a prescription for steroids, prescription antihistamines, and fresh Benadryl that wasn’t out of date. I slept most of the rest of the day. I was better enough on Wednesday to be able to drive and head off to the Governor’s Tourism Conference in Augusta.
***Now back to the original programming***
With the exception of the  one of her scraping honey combs, Sami took all of these pictures. I shamelessly use her photographic genius for blog material with her gracious permission.
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This is what the uncapped frames look like right out of the hive. The bees seal each compartment with beeswax.
We scraped, scraped, scraped. Usually pros use a hot uncapping knife and load their frames into a centrifuge but we haven’t become that high tech. We just scrape the cappings and honey into a colander. We let the honey drain out of the wax and into a giant Tupperware bowl.
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Our frames have plastic foundations to build their combs on. We stack the scraped frames up and put them out by the hives for the bees to clean off. They will clear every bit of honey out of the pots and frames in no time!
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After that, we strained the honey a bit more. I like to get as much of the cappings and beeswax out of the way as possible.
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Amanda squeezed the cappings to get every last bit of honey out. I think she was just having fun making a mess too! Justin said eventually the honey will drain out of the cappings on its own.
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Catching every last drop. It’s a messy business and we don’t want to lose any of that precious honey!
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While we were scraping the honey from the frames, Mrs. Desiree popped some biscuits into the oven. There’s nothing better than hot biscuits that have been rained down upon with fresh-from-the-hive honey!
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After we finished scraping all of the honey, Sami snapped a few pictures of the kids and Mr. Sheldon digging sweet potatoes from the garden. Some of them were bigger than two hands!
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Later that afternoon, we had a cookout at my Mama and Daddy’s house. We wanted to get a picture of all three boys together and some with Mimi and Pop. This was probably Sami’s hardest session ever. Wyatt and Liam were being ornery and neither would smile on cue. Thankfully, she was able to get at least one good picture of the three of them—even if it took some considerable Photoshopping skills!