Category Archives: family fun

And just like that…it’s Fall!

Chopping peppers for the freezer. That's a bowl of foraged wild grapes there too.

Chopping peppers for the freezer. That’s a bowl of foraged wild grapes there too.

I guess in New York after Labor Day has passed, Mother Nature decides it’s time for fall, no matter what the calendar says. I vividly recall showing up to college over 10 years ago in late August from Phoenix and being mortified that our dorm didn’t have AC. I didn’t realize people could actually live without it. My roommate, being from the area, informed me that in a week or two it would cool down, and sure enough, it did.

Today I dressed in layers. I even put on a knitted hat when we went out to run some errands. I love it, since fall is my absolute favorite. I like it even more now that I live somewhere where leaves change color, you can have beautiful potted mums outside, and pumpkins and squash abound at the farmer’s markets.

For me fall also means rest. Summer is so short here that we are really gung-ho about living to the fullest for three months. Then add in the fact that I had my first table at a farmer’s market for my own farm this year, and that Chris was gone for 7 weeks (leaving me to take care of all the house stuff), and I was a very busy lady.

Now that things are slowing down it’s hard to find the motivation to get back outside to put everything away for the winter. I know it’ll get done, I just wish I could get back some of that, “Yay, it’s spring, let’s get this garden started!” umph back.

Now I want to sip tea, knit, and read on my couch surrounded by my two dogs. I want to roast veggies and make soups. I want to linger a bit longer under the covers in the morning too.

Making grape juice from the wild grapes. We turned it into jelly.

Making grape juice from the wild grapes. We turned it into jelly.

Overall I feel decently prepared for winter. I’ve made a lot of jams and jellies, stocked my chest freezer with veggies and fruits, and I’m already thinking out Christmas gifts. October will bring the last of the outdoor work, and the last push at procuring emergency supplies. They say we’ll have a very cold winter.

My DIY plans for the fall/winter are: making soap, some freshening up of paint inside the house, sewing new curtains for the kitchen, lots of knitting, and making citrus curd when the midwinter citrus is in season and ready to ship.

What are your plans? Are you sad to see summer go?

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A Little LOTR Wisdom

Jack and I made Lembas or Elvish Waybread and then wrapped it in paper Mallorn leaves.

Jack and I made Lembas or Elvish Waybread and then wrapped it in paper Mallorn leaves.

We got Jack all three Lord of the Rings movies for Christmas. I had only seen them in the theaters and it was so much different to watch them each a day apart. The story is so good. I love, love, love big epic stories of good vs. evil.

I think what I enjoyed the most is how in the movie there are many grey areas between those forces. Sam, the kindest of all the characters (in my opinion) must slay orcs in order to save Frodo. Gandalf, a “good” wizard, must also fight in many battles, and kill many.

The Ring itself pulls the worst from those who possess it.

I really liked that. I fancy myself a kind person in general, but I have my moments of lesser character. Also, the older I get, the more I realize how much grey there is in the world, and how little black and white. There are no simple answers when it comes to “good vs. evil.”

There was one part in each of the films that resonated with me deeply, and I wanted to put them down here so as not to forget them.

Frodo – “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened”
Gandalf – “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”

Frodo- “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.

I hope to think on these as we enter the new year.

Land of Enchantment ~in photos~

Some photos from our amazing trip to Santa Fe. Everyone should go there at least once in their life, especially at Christmastime.

icicles

icicles

Buddha in the snow

Buddha in the snow

blue glass chile ristra

blue glass chile ristra

glass pumpkins

glass pumpkins

Palace of the Governors, Indian Market

Palace of the Governors, Indian Market

giant snowball

giant snowball

Apache Spirit Dancer

Apache Spirit Dancer

Apache Spirit Dancer, up close

Apache Spirit Dancer, up close

sunset

sunset

tree outside Loretto Chapel

tree outside Loretto Chapel

candle prayers, Loretto Chapel

candle prayers, Loretto Chapel

state flag

state flag

 

Happy Halloween/Blessed Samhain

Today is my most favorite day of the year! I’m about to get ready and get into costume (yes I dress up and I try to spend most of the day dressed up as well!) and then we will be heading to Chipotle for $2 “booritos” and then to Jillian’s for some trick or treating.

I wanted to do something creative this year that involved nature. Last year we made bats and spiders out of construction paper and black paper plates. They are cute and we put them out again this year.

I decided we would make a pentacle wreath both as a nod to Mother Nature and as a protection charm for the house. I plan to keep it up until it’s too darn cold, and then I’ll move it to our interior door. The neighbors probably think we are weird already, now I’m sure they will think we worship the devil. 😉

We got everything at a craft store and put it together this morning. It was really simple and I think it came out nicely.

I explained to Jack about the history of Samhain and how it’s changed to Halloween over time. This is a holiday that seems more relevant in my life now more than ever. Since much of my life revolves around growing seasons, it seems very fitting that this is the end of the year.

In two days we will celebrate Dia de los Muertos with some sweet bread and an altar in the kitchen.

Now we march into the darkness. Onward to Winter Solstice!

In a Jam & I Painted a Chicken

Spooning in the jam.

Today I get to mention my friend Jillian twice. For starters, she also recently made the toaster pastries I’ll be talking about, and her combos not only look delicious but they are allergy safe.

At the April Food Swap I got to meet Alana Chernila and snagged myself a copy of her book The Homemade Pantry. Pretty much anyone who ever cooks food for themselves should own this book. The very next day I made the toaster pastries that are pictured on the cover, and knew it wouldn’t be long before I made them again.

Several half-used jars of homemade jam were piling up in my fridge. I wanted a way to use them all up before they went bad, plus I was overdue for some bulk snack making. I promptly made up a double batch of Alana’s crust and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

Ready to bake!

When I woke up I got to rolling. I really love her crust. It’s so easy to use because it’s never crumbly and it isn’t prone to ripping apart from itself. If you fear homemade crust, get the book and use this recipe.

In the end I made 18 toaster pastries. The flavors are blueberry cherry balsamic, raspberry balsamic, and strawberry/raspberry/rhubarb. I left 6 out and packaged the rest to be put into the freezer.

The finished product.

Later in the day Jack decided he wanted to paint. I’ve wanted to paint for some time as well so we headed out to get a few supplies. When we got home we set everything up and then just painted whatever felt right at the time. His is a chaotic scene of animals and fictitious creatures, and mine is a chicken.

creative genius

We are now officially participating in Jillian’s Artful Summer! I will continue to post about our journey with art during this season.

In Need of Nature

Bridge over Battenkill

When I was younger I didn’t care much for anywhere rural. I didn’t always live in huge cities, but being somewhere really dark and removed from a town made me freaked out at night. My parents had a small cabin in northern Arizona and I would only ever go when I could bring a friend to keep my mind off the creepy woods.

My parents took me into nature, we went camping and fishing, and I really did enjoy it, but I never thought I’d want to spend considerable time there. As soon as I could live on my own I went straight to NYC!

I’m pretty sure “jubilarian” is not a real word.

Last weekend I went to my college reunion. I only live 3 hours from the city, and I’ve been back several times. But for some reason, this time was different.

As soon as I got to the George Washington Bridge I knew something felt different. I felt a little claustrophobic and quite annoyed. I started thinking how if anything really bad happened, people would never be able to get out, there’s just too many people there. (Sorry, the Girl Scout in me thinks of weird stuff like that.)

Walking through neighborhoods I kept thinking, “These people have no gardens, or lawns, and they have tiny kitchens, and how can they store all the food they put up in these tiny apartments??” (Clearly, I’ve started to lose my mind a little!)

The city really does have so much amazing stuff to see and great places to eat and I’m glad I live close enough to return regularly, but I honestly couldn’t wait to get back to seeing wide open spaces. I knew I’d miss my friends, but I just had to see some nature.

No driving faster than you can walk!

Once I crossed back onto the Palisades Parkway I instantly felt better. You could see trees and grass and beautiful views for miles. I was so thankful.

Then this week we spent a whole day in a more rural part of our area going on two field trips. Jack got to play by the water, we saw an old covered bridge, we saw beautiful green hills, and baby cows.

There are historic markers like this all over our area, I love reading them.

Today Jack played in the mud with a friend at the market while I worked. He was filthy and happy and I loved it. I’m not saying that in Brooklyn there aren’t parks or mud puddles or edibles growing on stoops, it’s just that I need those things on a much greater scale now.

Although many parts of my personality remain the same, I’m glad some parts have changed. I’m glad Jack gets to live where we do, and selfishly I’m really glad to live here too. I’m glad that no more than 10 minutes away I’m right in the midst of farms.

Nature is truly my Xanax.