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~reading~ Equal Parts Terrified & Excited

When I was visiting friends in the city we were talking about books and I mentioned all I ever read anymore are books about farming and food. This isn’t 100% true, but pretty close.

A couple weeks ago I breezed through a book on microgreens in just two days; on my night stand is a book about garlic, in my living room there are books about bees, farming and cooking; on my couch is The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman.

Yesterday I told a friend/coworker that the more I read the more I feel like I just don’t know anything. Also, not 100% true, but sometimes it feels that way.

I want to start “farming” this fall. I put it in quotes because I certainly won’t feel like a farmer. I think that would take years, to be quite honest. I just want to put something in the ground. Much like having a kid, I feel like there’s never a good time to do any of this, but if I just do it, I have propelled myself forward.

I’m trying to also be frugal, but wincing at the costs of some of the things I will probably really need. I need to start very slow, as I am certain many mistakes will be made along the way.

In the meantime, I’m reading everything I can fit into an already busy schedule that relates to what I want to do.

It’s awfully weird to know that within the next year I get to begin doing something I’ve wanted for some time, while also knowing I will have days where I cry my eyes out with frustration and exhaustion. It’s also weird knowing you will have failures, but have no idea yet what they will be.

A friend of mine in college used to say that I’m like a cat…I always land on my feet. I really really hope that it still holds true.


Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

Gingerbread farm we made at the Kilpatrick Christmas party.

Well we did it, we survived the holidays and rang in the new year. I knew that somehow I’d get all my homemade gifts finished in the nick of time. Seriously though, this year I’m going to craft things all year long and just squirrel them away so I’m not so frantic near the end.

I also decided upon a new tradition. Going forward I’m going to make a handmade gift for Jack that he can open on the morning of Christmas Eve. We were never allowed to open anything on Christmas Eve when I was little so I’m the same way with regular presents. That’s why it will only be handmade and something really special.

The hat in action.

I’m proud to say that Jack loved his surprise Angry Bird hat and has been wearing each day since he opened the package.

Christmas morning Chris went to work and Jack and I had a nice breakfast together. I got to enjoy two lovely, homemade gifts during breakfast. Jillian had made me some tasty foccacia bread and Christina gave me a jar of home-roasted coffee. I had them with some tasty farm eggs and it was the perfect way to start the day.

Chris actually had New Year’s Eve off from work so we ordered Chinese food and watched Green Lantern. This was followed by Portandia and Star Trek: Next Generation, while I furiously tried to finish a cowl I was knitting. At the stroke of midnight I was binding it off. I really like how it turned out.

New Year’s Day we slept in, made homemade waffles with KFF strawberries, real homemade whipped cream, toasted pecans and local syrup, then took a walk through the Village with our pups. At night we went to Albany to see Hugo (which was awesome and reminded me of my days working at The Film Forum) and surprised Jack with a trek over to The Melting Pot for some chocolate fondue.

Monday Chris was off again so we took down all the decorations, put the tree on the curb, and cleaned the house. Now it’s time to look ahead to what we are going to do with the year.

I pondered writing out very specific goals for myself here (and I still might in a future post) but for now I’ll just say that my theme for the year is “stewardship.” I want to be a better steward of all the amazing things in my life.

I want to be a better steward of the land by planning and working my garden better this year and by continuing to improve the market experience for KFF. I want to be a better steward to my kiddo by being more patient and doing more fun/creative things with him on a regular basis. I want to be a better steward to the important people in my life by being more kind and understanding. I want to be a better steward to myself by exercising more, namely running.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful, eventful year!

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels & More!

The finished products.

I needed to make some simple gifts for neighbors and the Kilpatrick Family (because they are seriously like a surrogate family to me, and they are amazing people), and I really wanted to do something where Jack could help.

I figured these chocolate dipped peppermint pretzels would be the perfect solution.

Peeled candy canes, ready to be turned into minty dust.

I used two different colored candy canes (traditional and ones that include green), peeled them, and then separately gave them a good crushing in my food processor. When each was done I poured them into their own shallow bowl.

Powdered minty magic.

I got 2 bags of the honey wheat pretzel sticks. They are a good, medium length. I melted (separately) white and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler. When they were all melty, I put the bowls at our workstation and we got to dipping.

After we dipped each one we rolled it around in the peppermint crunchies, then we set them down on a huge silicone mat. You could also use wax paper or parchment paper if you don’t have a silicone mat.

Almost done....

At the end we took red and green colored sugar and sprinkled it on them, then waited for them to dry.


I realized when we were finishing up the pretzels that I still had lots of melted chocolate left. Since wasting food makes me feel nutso, I knew I had to figure something out.

Chocolate peppermint coins

I got out my mini muffin tin, spritzed a little cooking oil in the bottom of each space and then started pouring the melted chocolate in. I quickly sprinkled the leftover peppermint and sprinkles on, then stuck the whole pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

If you don’t have a mini muffin tin you could use a regular one, but the disks would just be thinner and wider. They may also be a little harder to get out so silicone muffin cups might make things easier if you have those.

When I pulled the pan out I let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before carefully popping them out. I put them in little baggies and I’ll be giving them as gifts.

For the pretzels I got some inexpensive containers to package them in. I found a set of green plastic containers and a glass jar with a hinged lid. The glass jar was less than $3 at local dollar store!

When I filled them I put some candy cane striped ribbon around the top and then little “To, From” labels on the top.

The whole project didn’t take more than a couple of hours and it was really affordable. This would also be a great project if you have kids of multiple ages, because even though they might not be able to all the steps, even just putting on the sprinkles would be fun.

So if you are scrambling for any last-minute gift ideas definitely give these a  try!

~happy home~ Like a Boss

The understock is so beautiful it almost makes me cry. I'm glad I actually have some photographic proof of what I used to do.

*If you tinker with DIY stuff from time to time, you may not find this super helpful. However, I find in order to really have the time for all the projects I love (and there are many!), I really have to streamline the stuff I hate (cleaning, organizing, etc.). For the past few months I’ve been trying to be more mindful about what needs to get done to make our house a Happy Home and I’d like to share that here. By no means is any of this a perfect fit for everyone, but if it helps you find the time to make some awesome homemade bread or knit yourself a scarf, all the better!

These past few months I’ve been trying to use skills I learned when I was a boss outside of my home, to being a boss inside my home. I’m always trying (and a lot of times failing) to not be bossy (especially with Jack), but I also think a lot of things work well in both environments.

For instance, when I worked at Calvin Klein we had certain things we did each day of the week, almost always. This made things run more smoothly because all the things that had to get done each week were assigned to their own day. By week’s end, all the important stuff had been taken care of.

Generally speaking, I try to get a huge chunk of house stuff done on Sunday and/or Monday. Lots of chores and weekly prep cooking (ex: making bread dough, granola, tortillas, etc.) get done on these days. It makes me feel like I’m starting the week off on a good note when I have a clean house and a head start on meals.

Other days we already know we have things to do (art class, trip to the farm, 4H), so those get penciled in, and other things get worked in around them. I am not to a point (I’m not sure if I’ll ever get there) where I’m super strict and assign a specific chore to each day of the week. I just try to keep track of them mentally, and get them done at some point during the week.

As Jack gets older I’ve been trying to delegate certain tasks to him. He now has to vacuum his room each week, and organize the shoes by the door each day. The older he gets, the more chores I will teach him how to do. Delegation is crazy important as an effective boss, and there’s no way I’m doing all this nonsense through his 18th birthday!

I’ve also been trying to think of other things that may help too. For instance, I’m really going to start trying to finish certain things up before bed each night. Every properly run business (I’m speaking mostly about retail/service stores here) has a “closing checklist.” There are things that simply must get done before people can leave for the night. I’m pretty sure if I just drag myself off the couch earlier at night, I can eek out an extra 10 minutes to load the dishwasher. I know it will make me feel better to not look at a sink full of dishes first thing in the morning.

Again, I know there will be nights when I’m just exhausted or weeks that everything goes bonkers, but then again, I’m not going to get fired if I take it easy from time to time. After all, I want my home to be a place I can relax and not feel super stressed out over. However, I do think a lot of workplace skills can transfer well into the home.

Do you have any great tips for making things run more smoothly at home?


Me in my costume. I'm pretending to be in an old-timey portrait, looking very grim, probably because half my children have cholera.

I realize I’ve been a tad M.I.A. these past few weeks but that’s mostly due to my fall-onset desire to absorb into my couch at night and also the crazy amount of fun things we’ve been up to.

As a quick recap: Halloween went well, both mine and Jack’s costumes worked out. Now I need to start thinking about next year. We recently went to a wedding in Cooperstown, which ended up being like a mini vacation. I’m prepping for Jack’s birthday party and there has been lots of recent holiday cooking/baking.

I just wanted to say “thanks” to anyone who has ever read anything here. Although this is mostly a record for us to track the things we’ve made and done, it’s nice to know others enjoy it as well.

We’ve had a really wonderful year and much to be thankful for. I know we are truly very lucky. I can’t wait to see what’s left in 2011!

A goodbye and a thank you.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”~Garrison Keillor

That might just be my most favorite quote of all time. I think it sums up the end of this first DIY Summer Camp perfectly.

Jason leaves bright and early tomorrow (Thursday). Somehow 7 weeks went by faster than I could ever imagine.

A fence was built, beers were had, stuff got made. It was amazing and unforgettable.

It’s sad that it’s over. I don’t know much else to say exactly. We each have our separate lives to get back to…but it’s still sad.

Jason didn’t just come to hang out, he came to work and learn. He got to work with us and the Kilpatricks. He got to be part of our world for a brief moment, and I hope he enjoyed it as much as we did.

I hope he can show his crazy college friends how easy it is to make bread, or how fun it is to roast a pig. That it is totally possible to build your own fence, and can jam. And how important it is to support local, sustainable agriculture.

Most of the time I feel like these things are the only hope for this ridiculous world. I wish we could’ve done more, but we did a lot. I’m thankful for all of his hard work and willingness to learn.

So as you go back to college and on with your life….Be well…Do good work…

…and keep in touch. Thanks.



Tonight NY voted 33-29 to pass marriage equality in the state. I’m overwhelmed with so many emotions right now. I’m glad I lived to see this happen in the state where I live.

I’m so happy for everyone I know who can get married now. There are so many of you and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like for those who have been together for years and years to hear this news tonight.

Thank you NY!