Monday, September 30, 2013

The Waiting Game

Well, we are playing the waiting game now for that first egg... The kids are beyond excited. They put a single egg from the toy kitchen in each of the nesting boxes over the weekend.

And now, we wait...could be any day now!

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pick Your Own

So this is what I think of when I think of picking apples...

But, this is really what it is all about when your orchard has a super fun swing in the barn, right?!

And, of course, this!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Off Grid and A Okay

This afternoon we lost power in our town and surrounding towns for a little over 4 hours. It felt great to be just fine without electricity. Indeed living without electricity is something we do every summer. We spend time on an island with no electricity every year and we love to camp. But, at home?


My stove works with matches! So happy we had to upgrade a little over a year ago to propane... I cooked up some rice and curried eggplant and tomatoes from the garden. Excellent.

Will was off with Daddy playing in a soccer game this afternoon - no electricity needed for that! And the girls played in the backyard...

I got some reading done...

We even have this beautiful ships' clock that my dad gave to hubby years ago. It gets wound regularly and tells time no electricity required...

We heat with a wood stove so heat is no problem in the winter in a storm.

And once these chickens start their daily laying? Well, I will feel that much more self-confident. Power out for days in January? No problem! Eggs every day! I do need to work on preserving food. I make a lot from scratch but have not tackled canning. Next on the list...

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Common Ground

What a day! Today was the first day of the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine... We go every year, but made it in a Friday instead of a Saturday this time. There were still a lot of people, but not as many as there will be tomorrow, I am sure.

Highlights: border collie/sheep/goat/duck show, poultry barn, rabbit barn, highland cattle, the limeade, running into some friends we haven't seen in too long, and coming to dinner at a neighbor's house tonight...have I mentioned how much we adore our neighborhood?

I took only one picture all day. When I realized I had not taken a picture all day on the tractor shuttle ride on the way back to the car, I snapped this one of my sweet 5 year old and me. Had to take one.

It was a lovely day.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Garden to Mouth

We are getting down to the last week or so of pulling carrots out of my garden. Next year, I plan to plant more. They are such an easy thing to grow - the difficulty is in being patient until they are big enough to actually be worth while. We kept checking them throughout the summer and being tempted to eat them when they were still small. Patience has paid off and we have some nice (relatively) big ones now - big for us, I mean.

Not bad.

This morning we also found a large cucumber - possibly the last one for this year - and some cherry tomatoes that were ready. I am waiting and crossing my fingers that a whole lot of green tomatoes that are just starting to turn orange will make it to edible status before we get a real freeze here in Maine.

Not a terrible pull for my tiny vegetable garden in mid September in New England.

Straight from the garden to the chopping block for lunch preparations...then the greens and scraps head straight out to the chicken coop for the girls!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade Tortillas

So my whole family has a new LOVE... Homemade tortillas! Really very easy to make, although significantly more time consuming than opening a bag of store bought ones, I must admit. But, boy did they taste good.

I used this recipe -

I then used this recipe (very loosely, as I did not have any peppers or onions on hand and substituted plain yogurt for sour cream) -

I used zucchini instead of peppers and it came out great! The kids and hubby ate beef tortillas and I had zucchini ones (I don't do red meat). Absolutely fabulous!!!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Our Chicken Journey

This chicken journey (as I have started calling it) has been even more amazing than we imagined it would be. We have all learned so much - all three kids as well as us parents. We have pulled through a couple of chicken-related emergencies and figured out chicken coverage while still traveling as much as we usually do during the summer - thanks go out to the phenomenal neighborhood in which we live - filled with many like-minded families willing to help as well as excited about taking advantage of a few days of chicken sitting to experience something new with their children. We have all learned so much about raising baby chicks, building a brooder in the house then a coop in the back yard as well as where our food comes from and ways to reduce waste...

It has also been fun to watch the kids enjoy the experience of being the teacher when interested friends come over. The knowledge base and self-confidence they have developed through this family project of ours has been amazing to me.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ear Infection

Nothing like an ear infection to throw a curve ball on a Sunday morning... She is such a tough little girl! Confirmed my suspicions and started her on antibiotics and crossing fingers that she will feel better tomorrow.

Next time I will take her temp before heading to the doctor's office as new policies say she must wear this if there is a chance of a fever. I really don't think she had one, and she was not excited about wearing it, but was very cooperative!

Came home to make a very late brunch - local bacon, eggs, and blueberry butter cake out of the Black Dog cookbook...

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cutting With A Knife

Yahoo! My youngest learned how to cut with a knife at lunch today!

We had this rare one-on-one lunch together today. My 7 year old went to a friend's house for the afternoon and my 9 year old was off with dad after soccer games doing errands, so my 5 year old and I had lunch alone at home together. So nice. Very special. I really want to try and do it more often...

So, while I reheated homemade pizza from last night, she went out to the garden to pick carrots for lunch. Then she washed them in the sink. I just love that my kids know where much of our food comes from.

When the pizza was ready, she watched me pull it out of the oven to cool a bit and start cutting up the carrots she had picked and washed. She wanted to cut something too. Since she was two-ish, I have been teaching her how to cut with a kids' training knife. Here is a link to what we have if you are interested:

Well, today she wanted to use the steak knife I was using. I thought...she is ready. I started by slicing the pizza into sticks.

I taught her how to hold the fork backwards with her "helper hand" - for her, this is her left, as she writes with her right hand.

I helped her to point her index finger and press at the top of the back of the tines, then stab that stick of pizza!

I helped her correctly hold the steak knife, again with her dominant (writing) hand with the index finger running down the blunt side of the knife.

She sawed back and forth and easily cut through the slice of pizza. I showed her how to use the edge of the knife to get the piece of pizza off the fork, then stab the next section and cut again...

We talked about the fact that I trust her to use a sharp knife responsibly in the way it is supposed to be used because it would dangerous to act unsafe lay with it.

Then she moved on to cutting her slices of cantaloupe.

What a bonding experience. And, boy was she proud of herself!

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Family Nature Exploration

Labor Day weekend is one of our annual family camping weekends.  We love one last slow (once we get all set up...because, really, it takes A LOT to get packed, unpacked, then settled into a campsite, doesn't it?!) long weekend  before the business of fall starts up.  We have another wonderful family who we reserve this weekend to spend time with every year.  It is always a special time, but this year felt particularly so as my husband found the most amazing hike for us to do on Sunday.  

Screw Auger Falls in the Northern Woods of Maine.  Wow.  Spectacular.  

Highlights: fording a river near the start of the hike, balancing on wooden plank bridges deep in the woods, hiking approximately one mile of the Appalachian Trail, climbing up and down rocky ledges where you absolutely needed to be on all fours and hold onto roots and trees to keep your balance, and the treat at the end of the hike?  Swimming in a naturally formed pool under a waterfall.  Deep enough to dive and do cannon balls.  Bonus: we had the place to ourselves.  It truly felt like a scene out of Tolkien's The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic .

When friends and family asked how our camping trip was, all three kids said, "We got to swim under a waterfall!!"

In reflecting on our family's experiences, I like to think about what my kids as well as us as a family took away from the time spent we spent together...

Exercise, bonding with family and special friends (both children and adults), a wide variety of sensory experiences, a practical real-life lesson in geology as well as our state's geography, spiritual awakening at the falls, an opportunity to reflect on some of the scenes within The Hobbit which we read aloud together as a family within the last year, a discussion about what it would be like to hike the AT (we met a young man who was doing just that as he was sitting down to re-don his hiking boots after crossing the river shoe-less), and countless other benefits.

Where did you take your last walk in the woods?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

About Me

My family and I live in coastal Maine.  We live in a relatively large college town with lots to offer and GREAT people!  We live on less than an acre of land, but are trying to maximize the use of our space more and more each year.  We dream of living on a farm with "acreage", but...would also miss our terrific neighborhood if we were to move.  We have a small vegetable garden in the front yard (the only spot with enough sun), perennial beds surrounding our home (want to come and weed for me?), a colorfully painted (purple and bright yellow) two-story chicken coop out back housing six fiesty chickens who have yet to lay, our beloved chocolate lab, and three active kiddos aged 9, 7, and 5.

I have a masters of science in occupational therapy.  Although I do not practice professionally as an OT these days, I do use the knowledge I gleaned from my education and training every single day with my own children.

We live life to the fullest.  We ski, skate, and play in the snow in the winter.  We swim, boat, and explore in the summer.  We try to take advantage of all that the four seasons here in Maine have to offer us as we live and learn together as a close knit family.

I have been blogging since 2007.  In the spring of 2013 I had a "moment".  Well, maybe more of a few weeks..of pondering this blogging thing.  I started asking myself questions and trying to figure out why on earth I was sharing so much online.  I decided to take a break.  Well, after a summer off from blogging (I will admit, I posted a lot on Facebook during that summer!), I decided to give it a shot again...  I get a lot of pleasure out of connecting with friends around the world online and look forward to continuing this blogging journey.

Blogging & Pumpkin Pie

What do blogging and pumpkin pie have to do with one another, you ask?  Well, as I took this photo of the best ever (I swear!) pumpkin pie I realized that I miss my blog...  I have blogged in this space since 2007.  Then, last spring (2013), I decided to take down my blog.  Now I miss it.  I will need to start fresh as I deleted all my (tons and tons!) photos that were linked to the blog.  Sometimes it is nice to start fresh.  I must say it feels bitter sweet.  We'll see where this journey takes me...  Tonight's pumpkin pie got me sharing my thoughts again for whoever decides they might be interested in what I have to say.  

So.  Back to the pie.  It is a simple Joy of Cooking recipe but, wow, did it taste good.  Maybe it was because the pumpkin was fresh picked from our own small family garden in the front yard.  Maybe it was because I used allspice this time.  Not sure.  And, yes, indeed, those are finger marks in the top of the pie - I said yes when my daughters wanted to take a lick as soon as the pie came out of the oven.  Saying yes is good...even better than a pristine pie.