« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

Nature ~ Home ~ Friends ~ Woven Together

001 005 006 020 023

027 025


What a story I had to share about how these little weavings came to be, and the friends that joined us as we worked the afternoon away... typepad unfortunately has chosen to be difficult this morning. I've lost this post 3 times already! My time on the computer is now up as major Halloween preparations are calling me, it tends to be epic around here.

The photos will have to be a story in themselves today. A little snapshot of what is happening outside and inside our home right now. It feels good to slow down and observe the season so mindfully. At the same time it is difficult to not dream of what our next weavings will look like. After all, there is winter to capture, then spring, then summer... what a collection it will be.

Inspiration found here... isn't it wonderful?

I hope you are inspired to capture your home, inside and out, before the season slips away.

Life Rolls On

"When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden."   

~Minnie Aumonier

007 Applie pie making

Remember the 100 pounds of apples I was set out to acquire and all of your suggestions about freezing them? I began the process yesterday, setting up a little apple pie making station in the dining room. My plan was to get lost in these apples, to release worry and fear, discard it right along with the piles of seeds and peels, send every last bit of it to the compost. Allow it all to breakdown and manifest into something worthwhile.

I worked for a few hours on this while Emily was in school, as of this morning there are eight pie fillings in the freezer, more to put up today, probably another four pies worth. I also need to make some more apple butter. So far I've made and canned two batches (six pounds each), making a dozen 1/2 pint jars. I think I'll do a double batch for another twelve jars and that should hopefully do it for apple butter. The rest will be applesauce for Emily. Oh, let's throw a few cakes and some muffins in there too.

Last Friday, I called ahead to the orchard and inquired about gathering drops for a reduced rate. I thought of this after I read Erin mention she gathers drops for free... it turns out they can't offer this because they use them in the cider press. The owner did tell me in the little store on the farm, kept in the walk in cooler they sell 'seconds' for .65 cents a pound verses the $1.00 per pound for pick your own.  I know many of us are smack at the end of apple picking but ask your farm about this. The quality of their seconds was superior to anything you'd find in the grocery store. And I spent $65 instead of $100.

I wish I could've spent the entire day at my apple station, but I needed to head out for my little part time afternoon job at my daughter's school. I haven't had the time to tell you about this yet, I will soon. It's been a lot of fun for both of us. 026

On the way home we were gifted this beautiful setting sun (which my wimpy camera is incapable of capturing, but trust me) and a phone call carrying the news that my husband's job, the one that we were told he was losing last week, has been reinstated for the time being.  While we don't feel any long term security in this announcement, we are presently feeling a little steadier. The details of all that took place I'm not able to get into as his profession is bound by all sorts of confidentiality and ethical restrictions (ie... this wife can't shout from the rooftop what she is really thinking about it all...).

As we continued our drive home I listened to Emily's story about the major digger she took during a soccer game at school, how there is now a large bump on her head. I asked a battery of questions trying to gauge whether her belly ache and overall funny feeling were the result of a head injury. It turns out she's fine, nothing one huge apple off the pile on the dining room table couldn't fix upon returning home.

And so it goes. The sun finally set... this morning it rose again hidden behind rain clouds, but it is here. And it will move cross the sky until it releases into the horizon at the end of another day. This I know will happen. Anything else that may or may not enter our lives between now and then, I have no idea.

Soup, to Warm the Soul


It's all about self-nurturing around here this weekend. Sitting down to a solo lunch quietly while my family was tied up on an errand, and being okay with it. They eventually arrived home. The bread was still warm, and my wine glass remained half full. We sat at the table together enjoying these simple pleasures, and one another. Emily's friend stopped by as we were finishing so now they are playing about the house, Adam has moved down to his workshop and is probably tinkering with a particular small engine whose repair has become one of great frustration and priority. A useless distraction really, as I know his mind is elsewhere. So much to think about these days, so many burdens to bare. Craving simplicity, wondering why life's web needs to be such a complicated, chaotic, tangled mess. Remembering to breathe.

Todays lunch, adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Cream of Tomato Soup

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion

  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2-1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, pureed

  • 3 Tbs. dry sherry

  • 1 teaspoon honey, or more if tomatoes are more acidic than you like

  • 4 oz. cream cheese

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube or tsp. ( I use Frontier, found in bulk spice jars at our co-op)

  • minced fresh parsley

1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add onion, garlic, salt, herbs, pepper and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft. (10 minutes) Add the sherry and cook for a couple minutes.

2.Add tomatoes, and honey, bouillon. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.

3. Cut the cream cheese into the hot soup and whisk until it dissolves. Add the milk. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

4. Serve hot, topped with parsley.

The bread is our favorite recipe, and the wine is straight from a box. Have you tried the newer boxed wines on the market these days? The quality has moved way beyond Reuniti and Franzia... there are four bottles in one box, the price is slightly more than you would pay for just a single bottle of the same brand, and each glass is as fresh as the last. No air in the pouch means the wine lasts for well over a month once opened. A couple to try... Black Box and Hardy's Merlot. Seriously, do just a tiny research and you will find plenty of drinkable and affordable boxed wine.

Breathe Heather, Breathe.

018 Things feel really intense right now... the weeks been busy, I can't believe it's only Wednesday... a lot of behind the blog kind of stuff. I'm going to take a day or two off, align a few things, and get on the mat. Actually, I may not get off the mat...

I've got a new post up over at the co-op if you care to come say hello. Do yourself a favor and take a minute to visit the comments when visiting. There is great dialogue and inspiration happening within. Rhonda's post, Home production of simple needs is a great example. And I love how Melinda asks "What would my grandfather do?" Beautiful words. Really good things are happening over there, thank you all for such a warm welcome.

Take care, I'll be back soon. 

The Gift of a Full Day

DSC00005 Yesterday, we returned from our day at the Farmers Market as we usually do, tired and happy. With dinner prep underway, the oven full,  glass of red wine poured, a fireside game of Uno being played, and my knitting needles working patiently on a project that is slightly more interesting than a scarf...  Adam casually surprised us with the news that he had Monday off from work due to the holiday (Columbus Day here in the states).  I've gone on enough (probably too much) about how intense Adam's work schedule is. Him getting a day off like this is an extreme luxury and we plan to squeeze every drop out of this gift of a day  by doing not a whole lot, together.

I'll be back tomorrow with some very exciting news to share... be sure to stop by.

In the meantime, if you have some time today and would like to take in some incredibly beautiful family photography, pay yourself a visit to Eyes of Wonder. Simply breathtaking.

Cropped oven
As I was making our bread for the week yesterday afternoon (as well as Alicia's apple pie), I realized I needed to correct the cooking time on my bread recipe. In my oven I bake this bread for 25 minutes, not 30. Over baking will certainly take away from the tender quality of this sandwich bread. I've gone ahead and adjusted the recipe in the original post as well.

Have a wonderful day!

Chunky Monkey Oatmeal


I would eat this for dessert as happily as I would for breakfast. It's hard for me to write recipes as I am very much a throw as you go cook. But I'll try because I think the world could heal on this stuff.

Chunky Monkey Oatmeal

makes 1 generous serving

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped
  • small handful chocolate chips
  • small handful chopped walnuts (maple glazed are nice, homemade.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla yogurt (optional)
  • maple syrup or brown sugar to taste (1-2 tablespoons)

Combine oats, water and cinnamon in saucepan. Heat over medium to medium high heat just to a boil, stirring often. Turn heat down just a bit, add chopped banana and sweetener. Simmer for a couple minutes, stirring. (I like my oatmeal barely cooked  - to me it's best when the starches are just released but the oats are still a bit chewy. No mushy oatmeal for me.) Stir in nuts. Pour mixture into serving bowl and top with chocolate chips and yogurt if using. In no time at all the chips will begin to melt and will swirl into the oats as you stir.

Oh man, writing this makes me want another bowl.

An Afternoon Hike, an Evening of Truth

DSC00004 Saturday was beautiful. The afternoon was spent in the woods, hiking trails that are new to us (I'll share more about our surprisingly beautiful local hiking discoveries soon). We took a break mid-way for an autumn picnic and a little social interlude with a fella named Dave and his dog Rosie. We exchanged trail stories, his far more impressive than ours given his 54 year old veteran hiker status, but he made us feel that our family hikes were of equal if not greater value. He encouraged Emily to always "hang out" with her parents, to continue spending a great deal of time together outdoors as a family. DSC00013
I always give Adam a hard time about bringing a full pack along on all hikes, no matter if we are taking a two hour stroll in the woods or a full day mountain hike. He will always be carrying enough gear for a family of three to stay safe, fed, warm, sutured, and bandaged for at least two days. Just in case. Meeting Dave provided the validation Adam has hoped for over the years (to keep me quiet) and carry on with his ways. Dave too (hiking less than a mile from his own house) was decked out in full hiker regalia. Is it a guy thing or am I just a terrible scout, never prepared and one ominous rain cloud away from peril?

It was a great time. We said our goodbyes to Dave and headed down the trail, it was getting dark and we had somewhere else to be. We piled into the car and drove up the road a few miles for our next family outing. DSC00028

Veterans for peace

It was a hugely memorable evening. 

Looking Ahead to the Weekend

This shot was taken at The Farmers Market last weekend, it was rainy and grey, the angle is weird. Not the finest quality. I've struggled for over a year now with how to display my bags. It's the sort of thing that I'm generally pretty good at, but I've never loved any of the many ways we've had our display. It works, is easy to transport, assembly is a breeze, but I don't love it and am very open to suggestions of improvement, hint hint. The cake plate stand works like a dream for the dog collars however!
My cousin recently asked me if I used a pattern for my bags, I don't. Or I should say I didn't. It's hard to describe my method for the bags that I typically make. It's sort of a little of this, a stitch or two of that, and somehow along the way, voila! A functional and relatively cute accessory is born. By nature I am resistant to things that are rigid or fussy. But I got to thinking about it and how I really do need to grow in my work, expand my comfort levels with various techniques.

I've been slightly obsessed with all things 1930's for many months now and became intrigued by the idea of the various hobo bags I've seen around. I couldn't find a tutorial on line that matched what I had in mind, the same goes for existing patterns out there. None of them were the bag that already existed in my mind. I stomped my feet a couple of times and admitted that I would indeed need to attempt to create my own pattern. The real deal, having zero clue where to start but doing it anyway. It took me several weeks and a handful of forgettable hissy fits, but it happened. I created my own design and my own pattern, miracles occur.

I've had my hobo bags at the market for a couple of weeks now, and if you are in the area this weekend I will be stocked pretty nicely this Sunday. I'll share more about the evolution of this hobo bag next week sometime... oh, the trials and errors... in pictures!!

Ahh... this feels good, a little craft post to head into the weekend. We're going on an awesome hike tomorrow, then the market on Sunday followed by the annual Farmers Picnic (which they so graciously invite us to), and hopefully enough time to catch the end of The Downtown Country Fair.

Hope your weekend is filled with fresh air and crunchy leaves!

Feel free to click on small photos to expand. I can't for the life of me figure out loading vertical, center placed photos on typepad... sorry.

The Lunch Box Post


Here we are, stepping into October. There is very little that is more beautiful than October in New England.

Most of our children have been back to school for about a month now - and you know I've been trying to collect some good information to formulate one (as it turns out very long) blog post about packing lunches. I'm finally getting to do that and I hope you are still in need... I do believe whether your children attend public, private or home school - making lunch an interesting, likable and fresh experience is somewhat of an art form. I have a lot to learn myself and your links and suggestions have been a tremendous help. I'll be sharing each and every one here. I'll also be sharing a few recipes and ideas from my own kitchen, but mostly this post has been written by each of you! Sorry it's taken me so long to place it all here in one easy spot. Here we go...

Cropped 1


It is fitting that a lunch post from this household starts off with chocolate. You could say it is part of our daily lives. Have you ever made your own chocolate sauce? Does your little one (or you!) love chocolate milk with their lunch? You will never buy the throwaway land-filling bottle again once you make this recipe, and you will know each and every ingredient that goes in. Makes a mama feel good.

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (we use evaporated cane juice crystals)
splash of vanilla extract

Sift cocoa and sugar into saucepan, add water. Heat, whisking often until it comes to a boil. Let it simmer for a couple minutes. Add vanilla, turn off heat and stir. Cool for a bit and bottle it up! Store in the refrigerator and shake before each use.  I haven't done the math but my guess is that this costs less than .50 cents per bottle to make. Pretty economical and easy as can be. 



I've tried many, many bread recipes with the hopes of finding a good, soft sandwich bread. One that would stay soft for longer than a single day... it's been important to me that I replace store bought (nice and soft) wheat bread for one that we could make here and Emily would go for... I came up with this recipe, it fits the bill perfectly. And again, I know what goes into it. Let's just say that is my lunch-making mantra.

You Could Call This Sandwich Bread

2 cups warm water (110F)
1/2 cup honey (or sugar is fine)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup light vegetable oil (your preference)
4 cups all purpose white flour (we use organic white whole wheat, germ still in)
2 cups whole wheat bread flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the agave in the warm water, add yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam, about 10 minutes.

2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Work in 6 cups of flour. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Use a little more flour if needed. Place in well oiled bowl, and turn once to coat the entire surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a clean damp cotton cloth. Allow dough to rise until double in size., about an hour.

3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place into two well oiled 9x5 loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

4. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes. When you thump the top of the bread it should sound hollow.

TIP: My house tends to be on the cool side, even in the summer. I turn my oven on 200 and allow the bread to rise on the stove top. Works really well.

For a buttery crust, brush hot loaves with butter. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

Ideas From My Kitchen

  • fruits and veggies are tastiest when pierced through a toothpick or wooden skewer. an assortment on a single stick is even tastier and keeps the kiddos from getting bored with one veggie.
  • leftover pasta tossed with a little pesto is always a big hit.
  • i tell emily to eat her fruit and/or veggies first and then she won't have to worry about it. she somehow listens to this. if i don't suggest it each morning though, she will not remember to practice it.
  • sandwiches made with the cut-n-seal are a huge favorite. the crust provides our pup with a rare human food treat. this tool is also great for making mini-fruit pies. use regular pie dough, fill, crimp and bake. really hard to eat just one!
  • i keep my freezer pretty well stocked with an assortment of baked goods that are pre-portioned and wrapped in packages appropriate to a weeks worth of lunches for adam and emily. for instance: recently i made a texas sheet cake (chocolate zucchini style). we can't finish a 15x10 sheet cake before it turns stale... i froze about 2/3 of it, all cut up, in a few packages. i can then just go into the freezer on sunday and select  a few different baked goods for the week. it works really well. i have a pretty good rotation going and nothing sits in the freezer for more than a few months.
  • the above idea is also great for when you quickly need to provide something for a playdate or get together with friends. many professional bakers agree the freezer is the most under-utilized tool in the kitchen.
  • quesadillas. i make them in the morning and let them cool to room temp before packing up. eaten at room temperature they are still yummy.
  • the moosewood vegan chocolate cake is my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes. these also freeze beautifully (frosted even) and can be taken one at a time from the freezer for an occasional treat. they will thaw by lunchtime.
  • i try to set an example of being a good earth steward by having minimal to no packaging in the lunch box. if it isn't picked from a tree, or baked at home, we try to make our snack selections from the bulk bins at the co-op. emily's current favorite salty snack is flaxseed corn chips.
  • homemade leftover pizza  - huge hit!
  • a thermos of homemade soup or macaroni and cheese.
  • overall, emily is a pretty plain eater (as many of you know by now) and thinks simple things are better. i think her favorite part of lunch every day is the note i slip into her lunch box.  i know she looks forward to it and it only takes but a moment to do. i keep paper, stickers and pens in a drawer right next to where lunch is prepared. i never forget, and she saves every single one. the daily note is perhaps the most important lunch ingredient.
  • smoothies! current favorite is strawberry/banana/chocolate.
  • bagels and cream cheese - even cuter if min-bagels are used.

Ideas From Your Kitchen

  • Cyndyava: A thermos filled with warm chicken rice soup, or broth and pastina! She's a soup girl. She also gets a lot of great ideas from this great food blog.
  • Jessica: I make a pot of soup on Sundays and then put it into crocks to eat at lunch time at work. Every week I try a different soup so it doesn't get too boring. I add fresh veggies to dip into dressing or salsa (I'm a dip person as well!) and a piece of fruit leather or an apple. I'm pretty seasonal with my lunches so in the fall there's apple sauce and in the spring lots of fresh salads.
  • Amy: I like to roast a turkey breast on Sunday and have slices of turkey for lunch during the week. Sometimes it turns into turkey salad with grapes and or dried cranberries (we're not into nuts here, but I think walnuts would be nice also)
  • Sarah: I make two meals for each girl so they have a hearty snack as well. I used to serve porridge every day for the first "meal" but now I serve porridge for breakfast every day, so need something new.
  • Iris: I love talking lunches...dread making them each day though. New ideas are KEY. Now that Jonas is almost 10, I have him involved with side-by-side preparation of lunchmaking (I still do most of the work for the 6 y.o.'s lunch). We do this at night (can't face any more morning details than absolutely necessary, plus Jonas sounds quite different than Emily...He sort of meanders around a bit in mornings, though he is an early riser. I find my boys like smaller amounts of food, but with greater variety. So I think about lunch food as a bunch of small and healthy snacks...Nuts and dried crans, half of a sandwich, crackers and cheese, Pirate Booty (a favorite), some kind of homemade power bar, fruit slices, veggie sticks and dip, goat cheese with a tiny spreader and rice crackers, etc. etc. My boys are NOT into thermos items, no way no how. One friend uses Sundays to whip up some "deli" type items, like soups and salads that her four children can avail themselves of come the lunch-making week. The whole lunch thing can kind of get maddening. I hate it when lots of food comes home to me uneaten and wasted (or for chicken food!). I also hate having someone come home and tell me I didn't pack enough. So getting their input has helped this somewhat. Woah, maybe I better do my own lunch making blog post! Yikes! Hope this helps...
  • Elizabeth: I haven't had to prepare a lunchbox since I made my own when I was a kid, but in those days the best best thing to have for lunch was a cream cheese and olive sandwich. Cream cheese slathered on wheat bread with sliced green olives.
  • QT: There is a blog I go to everyday that you should check out for your lunches. I usually just look on in envy - Lunch In A Box.

Web Inspiration

I hope you were able to find an idea or two within this post, I really appreciate all your help in putting it together (just sorry it took so long). Please feel free to continue this post within the comments, it really is a never ending subject. I for one would love to hear even more!