Category Archives: nature

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!

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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.

Trees, Worms & Other Cool Stuff

This week was pretty hectic, but in a good way. We got to do a lot of fun things.

Lake Moreau, frozen

Monday we watched Dianna boil down maple syrup in her front yard. Jillian posted about it here. It was cool to see the sap coming out into the buckets and we got to taste it before it was done. It only tasted like lightly-sweetened water, so it’s hard to imagine that at the end of the day it’s super tasty syrup.

Tuesday we went up to Lake Moreau to take the Hug-a-Tree class with our friend who works at the park. I’m glad we went since we often go hiking in the summer. After the class we walked on the frozen lake. It was sort of scary but it was fun hearing the ice “sing” as it was expanding.

rainbow trout

Wednesday we took a walk into town and stopped by the candy store. Jack told me I’m the “best mom ever” for letting him get candy.

Thursday I took Jack to a 4H class on insects. They talked about compost, worms, pollinators, and all sorts of “buggy” things.

tie dye worm

If it isn’t too snowy, Friday we are going to Albany for a science fair.

Weeks like this are great but I’m just glad every week isn’t as busy as this! I appreciate some good downtime too.

Farkle, the perfect after-dinner family fun game, especially when I win. 🙂

On a Walk

Double rainbow over The Factory.

It’s seems like spring here (honestly I can’t complain too much, but I worry how this summer is going to pan out) so Jack and I decided to take a walk through town today.

It was raining on and off during the walk and we got to see a double rainbow. Actually Jack noticed the rainbow as I was trying to navigate the slushy ground on the nature trail we were walking on.

As we were out Jack kept making “predictions” about the rain. He’s wanted to guess if it was going to come back and if it would be stronger rain than before. He said he knew it would stop raining at some point because he could see where the sky was “torn up.” Basically meaning he could see that in between the rain clouds were patches of blue, sunny sky.

I was pretty impressed that he was so perceptive. Kids are weird in the way that they make you pay attention to things you normally don’t even think about.

You can barely see the rainbow peeking through the trees.

We ended up walking almost 2 miles. By the end Jack was telling me he wished we had a teleporter so we could already be home. (Thank you Star Trek!) We were both a little tired, and pretty wet, but we were glad we got out for some fresh air.

I’m glad for these little outings. I hope Jack continues to ask to do stuff like this with us as he gets older.

For the Love of Bees

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When my mom got remarried my stepdad used to tell us how he had kept bees and I honestly thought he was crazy. He talked about how he’d been stung a few times and how the bees would just walk around on him. Crazy, right?! I had no idea why anyone would want to do that.

Like most people, I used to be pretty cautious of bees. I can’t say I was ever scared (spiders are a whole other story though) but I didn’t like them anywhere near me if I could help it.

That changed last year when I went raspberry picking. The bees were all over those bushes but I was determined to pick several quarts of berries so I just stuck with it. I had to gently reach in around them and let them keep working. Being that close to them for such an extended period of time made me realize they don’t want to sting, they just want to do the job they were born to do.

When I’m in my garden I see the big fat bumble bees floating from flower to flower. Everything in my garden is pretty close together so as I’ve been harvesting they often end up pretty close to my face. I always try to excuse myself and work around them. I say silent “thank yous” in my mind to them.

I just found out that a farmer friend of mine is going to let me keep bees on his land in the spring. I’m elated. I need to do a lot of research and prep in these next few months but I can’t wait until next year when I’ll have my own honey.

Wow, my own honey! It seems insane to even type that. I absolutely can’t wait to bottle it next year.

…and we’re back.

Christina took this picture of me the morning of the Dash as I was picking up my CSA share.

This weekend I did the Warrior Dash at a mountain about 2 hours south of here. It felt really good to get beat up like that, especially since I haven’t been to a derby practice in ages.

I went alone and although there were lots of groups who were having great fun together, it was kind of nice to be alone. I was able to stay focused and just push myself mentally.

There were a few obstacles along the way that I was worried I couldn’t do. Had I had someone with me, I could’ve counted on them to encourage me, but since I was alone I had to force myself to just be brave and keep going.

I completed all of them. I swam through chest-deep mud water and had to hoist myself over floating logs. I climbed a two-story high rope wall, crawled through mud under barbed wire, and jumped over fire.

I finished in just under an hour and 10 minutes. It was so much fun, I’m definitely doing it again next year.

This is me after. As dirty as I am here, I had actually just rinsed off a bit at the shower station.

~Weekend-O-Rama~

Cilantro, Thai basil & sage

This long weekend (Chris had 4 days off) was an ongoing mix of work, cooking, and eating with friends. I feel pretty good about all of that.

The fence is almost done. Tomorrow looks like the day. It’s really incredible. I’m going to check out a yard sale Sunday for some patio furniture. I have zero clue how I’d actually get it home though. I feel like I want to sit out there with cocktails to celebrate.

sheep on a hill

We got to visit some friends this weekend and they live on a sheep farm. Within the next few years they will have a farm of their own with a year-round CSA. I’m so excited for them, they deserve so much success.

~Dinner in the Year 3000~balsamic pearls in olive oil, balsamic pearls on a salad of tomato, fresh mozz & arugula, beef cooked in a sous vide resting on caramelized carrots and topped with onion foam, strawberry daiquiri gel cube.

We had another installment of Fancy Food Club and the theme was “Dinner in the Year 3000” with a bunch of Modernist cuisine that was very good, especially the crazy gelled cocktails. We are up next. We have most of the menu already decided and I’m going to go completely Martha on the decor for the night, I can’t wait!

I’m currently in a Battle Royale with the tomatoes and weeds in my garden. The rains this summer have been frequent and intense which has caused the weeds to grow….well, like weeds. In 2 days I’ve spent 3 hours weeding and also pruning back my tomato plants. I’m still not done. Tomorrow I have to prune and tie up another row of tomatoes.

muddy garden feet

Oh, and if you are a lover of arugula, please come and harvest some from me. It’s either that or I’m going to have to blanch and freeze it.

This week is another Food Swap. I can’t wait! I already designed my labels and made my items. Now I just need to put it all together. I hope people want to swap with me! If you follow my Facebook page then you already know what I’m bringing.

Ahhh wine. What would I do without you?