Wednesday, October 31, 2012


In the end, the hurricane luckily brought us nothing more than a few hours of exciting-scary wind, minimal rain, and an excuse to hunker down, eat soup, and play board games Monday night. We never even lost power. After last year's two hurricanes-- one that nailed the Catskills, and the other that nearly obliterated Owego, for the second time in five years-- we were overdue for a pass. 

This morning, letting the chickens out and walking around the garden I'd cautiously hoped would survive the storm, I nearly tripped on that big, safe blanket of provision-- this is why I homestead, I thought. For that garden, for those chickens. For realizing that, when a storm comes, the preparations are already there, especially this time of year: rows of canned goods, a full chest freezer, neighbors with a wood stove. A very lucky thing. 

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Monday, October 29, 2012


Cities are useful places. I could never live in one, but that's why I have family and friends who do. Patrick playing a show in Philadelphia this weekend provided the perfect excuse to make a trip to see my sister- and brother-in-law's new house, and most of the rest of the family came along, too, for a fun weekend of doing things that Gilbertsville just doesn't have. Like walking crosswalks, and going to the ATM. 

And eating at a hibachi place, and a tapas place, and a BYO brunch place where we emptied a magnum of champagne. Hey. Ok. I love my chickens and my rows of beets in the ground, and my big yard with the beautiful view, but I'm still a twenty-something (for two more months). I also like brunches with champagne. 

My sis-in-law knew just where to bring me, too. Anthropologie. That was post-champagne, ahem. I don't know how long I was down there, trolling through the sale racks, but it felt like a lifetime. A dazzlingly beautiful lifetime. It was, in a word, nice. 

This week is bringing us a hurricane, it would seem, which is almost a relief. I need to eat vegetables, and beans, and drink things like tea and more tea and no champagne. As much as I love it, there's no denying that lil' old rural me can't quite handle the fast and hard city life. 

Though I sure do love it, every now and then, for a weekend at a time.

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hello, gorgeous

This happens every time. Every time I begin a big project, I stumble through the early phases, under-motivated and uninspired. Then, I get a small symbolic chunk checked off the list-- such as a freshly painted front door-- and from there it's suddenly exciting and thrilling and all I want is more more more.

I am so pleased with how this is turning out. It is genuinely amazing what a difference a coat of paint makes. Suddenly things go from shabby and run-down to polished and pretty.

The color is a little enigmatic on film-- in person it's more of a teal. Deep, dark teal. In Binghamton there was a house around the corner from us that was painted a dark cerulean blue. Mornings when I'd board the bus for the classes I was taking at the time, plug in my iPod and blearily cruise past, I'd imagine it was made of velvet. Something about that color-- it changed the texture in a way I've been thinking about since. Standing on the street, I am pleased to report our house-- or at least, our porch-- now looks as if it's made of velvet too.

I can't wait to continue heat-gunning and scraping and priming and painting... wait, scratch that. I can't wait to see the results of continued heat-gunning and scraping and priming and painting. Of course, snow is forecast for next week, so there's no telling how far I will really get on this before winter. Thank goodness we have next year, and next year, and the year after that...

Happy Friday, friends!

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Monday, October 22, 2012

An adventure

When we went to bed late Saturday night (well, midnight), we told ourselves we would sleep in the next day.  We had a rare Sunday off together, after all. But then I woke up at 8:30 and started thinking about how we might fill our day together-- oh, the possibilities. It wasn't long before I woke my hubby, and soon we found ourselves in the car, blinking blearily through the windshield as the hills looped out ahead of us, headed off for an adventure.

This castle is an amazing place. It's near Roscoe, NY, and after hearing from one friend or another who'd explored it, over the years, we decided it was time to make a foray of our own. Here's a link with more photos and information:

What a fabulously beautiful and creepy place.

The arched windows, the peeling paint, and all that marble...

It was so nice to do something totally thrilling and scary and novel together again, for the first time a whole long summer's worth of busy times. There's that thing going around on Pinterest and other places that asks, "When's the last time you did something for the first time?" and today I'm proud to have a kick-ass answer for that question. I explored an abandoned castle. Yes. Yes, I did.

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A few things

  • Thunder this morning. I snuck out between storms for a picture. I plan on living here for a good fifty years at least, and I anticipate that view will always stand me still. It's stunning in every season.
  • Genevieve has not come home to our coop, or our neighbor's coop, for three nights. A twilight sweep of the adjacent property, last night, did not reveal to me her hiding place. She can be seen during daylight hours, foraging, so we know she's safe. Just wild and independent. A famously difficult chicken.

  • I have eaten kale in every meal of this week. All hail, the kale. Braised with blue cheese and walnuts, simmered in stock with wild rice for soup, mixed into a hearty bread pudding with butternut squash. 
  • I replaced the fishing line in my deer fence with light wire a few weeks ago now, and in some places I twisted small bits of wire around the outside almost like barbs-- though they're not really sharp-- and it is thrillingly keeping the buggers OUT. Hence, we are able to harvest and enjoy our kale.
  • I've started playing guitar again, which is making the tips of my fingers so sore they're almost numb. This makes typing difficult. But it feels so good to play.

  • The porch is coming along, finally. Hello, pretty yellow door. And hello, pretty painted storm windows. The white is primer; after I finish this post I'm going downstairs in the thundering to apply some cream-colored paint over top. We are getting deliciously close to priming and painting the siding, which is fortunate since it's nearly November. Ah, projects.
Have a good weekend, everyone!

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A little bit closer...

Five out of nine rafters up, time to get back out there...

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October sunshine

Nothing really to write about today, just some pretty pictures to share from a small and very new state park we discovered yesterday, pretty close to home. I love it when that happens. Patrick and I managed to carve out space for a half-day date, after the mowing and the raking and the siding was done. It was lovely.

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Change is good

When undertaking a painting project of the size we undertook, starting November 6th, 2010 (good heavens, has it really been almost two years?!), it is inevitable that at least one bad color is selected. This is the one, the only, I'm proud to say. Behr Pear. Honestly, does that look like PEAR to you? The answer is no, no it doesn't. Behr Pear is evil like a yellow highlighter. It looked even worse before I decorated-- adding in huge doses of plain brown to tone down the funk.

Anyway, I kissed that color buh-bye last week when I threw up new wall paint.

We had most of a gallon of flat white wall paint sitting here when we moved in, left over from the previous owners. To that I added a leetle bit of a color called Apricot mousse, and a leetle bit of a color called Filoti Olive, and then I came up with this pretty pale artichoke color.

Then I went and painted the ceiling, for extra credit. Because I'm all that. I also did the ceiling of the master bedroom. This evening Patrick and I are going out together, and before that I am changing out of my awesome painting clothes (not) and showering with LOTS of epsom salts. Epsom salts are my friend.

Next up in here, I paint the floor, roll out a rug, and call it done. Wahoo!

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the winter garden

Sometime last February, I started reading Four Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman, and I decided I should become a winter gardener. The book is tremendously practical and tremendously optimistic, full of good Yankee wisdom and charts and diagrams and advice. It inspired me towards imagining row covers and a heavy mulch of leaves, rows of carrots and beets standing straight through heavy freezes. All season I've been imagining this.

Wondering all the time if I'd really have the energy to keep planting and weeding and harvesting and planning straight into cold weather. Some years, garden enthusiasm peters out at the end of July. But, never underestimate the energy gained from trying something new. The end of July, I was still planting arugula, spinach, herbs... and watching the carrots and beets (above) which I'd planted July 1st coming in.

I do believe this was the very perfect-est year to try a winter garden. The summer was tough-- so dry, many of the usual summer stalwarts didn't do so hot. My tomatoes refused to set fruit through the whole month of July; my potatoes were pretty underwhelming. But now, those rows of arugula and spinach I planted in late July are absolutely kicking butt. We've had a few weeks of cooler days and good, soaking rains, the kind of weather all those leafy crops love. I've honestly never quite seen arugula so happy as the above; this week and last I've been making a special sort of salad out of it with craisins, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a mustardy dressing. Gobble gobble gobble. I love fresh salads.

When it gets a few dozen degrees colder, when daytime highs are in the low forties, billowy row covers will settle themselves down over the crops still in seedling-hood, like these baby mizuna and kale fellows above. I'm not sure about marching out here in my mucklucks to kneel in the snow and pick salad, but if my above lesson in the joy of trying something new is any indication...

I think I just might be perfectly well suited to this winter gardening business!

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Yes, I went out to dinner, and I drank fancy cocktails; and yes, I went to a farm party and the farmer's market and witnessed a tug-of-war over a pit full of rotting apples. But mostly, I sat for hours and shared conversation with good friends. Long conversations, full of intriguing tangents and revelations and the sort of challenging, hard-hitting truths you only get from your closest friends.

Oddly, summer is the most isolated season for me. The garden and other outdoor projects compel me close to home, keeping them spinning towards completion. As things wind down in the fall, there's more freedom. I am going to try my best to keep a trip to Ithaca on my monthly to-do list in the coming year, because it does me so much good.

As reward for helping my farmer friend Sharon label her 325-some row feet of dahlias, she sent me home with a jar stuffed-full. So yesterday afternoon, home again and happy, as I made tea and sliced apples and relocated my slippers (for it was 56 degrees in our house!) I also snipped and trimmed and made arrangements.

I don't really know what I'm doing, I just know that it's fun.

And I know that I did not expect pink to pop so gorgeously against our dining room's gray walls. Duly noted. 

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Story of a morning

I've been painting on our front porch, making one last stab at headway out there before the snow flies. We had such high hopes when we started tearing off the siding, back in April for goodness sakes, but summer life and its incredible full schedule intervened. Thanks to my father-in-law, however, I now have a mechanized awesome paint stripper dealie AND a legit man-lift (like the kind they use on telephone poles) on loan, so, in spring, I imagine, we can get back to it.

Aack, this post wasn't supposed to be about projects!

Ok, so, the point is, I was painting on the porch. I heard caterwauling from the neighbors' yard, went to discipline Pete (the culprit), and was walking over to get back to work when I came around the corner of the house, saw the above, and immediately went to grab my camera. Those property-line maples are stunners this time of year-- soon they'll be completely scarlet, a color only a tree could pull off without being tacky.

Then I saw our hydrangeas out front, and took this picture, because they have a pretty autumn coat, too.

So there I was, painting away on the window trim, and the chickens decided to visit. Boom.

I was out there painting yesterday, too, and they came to visit me. Twice. I have no idea why. They're really getting big-- not laying yet, but loving the free-ranging. I almost can't wait for frost, so I can let them into the garden and let them eat up all the bad grubs/rotten tomatoes in there.

 Patsy, the barred rock, is especially gorgeous. Our neighbors got chicks the same time we did, and one of theirs' has grown up into a rooster, which is interesting. Both of us have really small coops that won't be able to handle more than five or six birds, but both of us are at the same time a little intrigued at the prospect of hatching chicks.

When I finished painting, I headed off towards the garage, turning back first to see this: Olive, patiently watching the chickens through the window I'd propped against the doorway.

Then I remembered you haven't seen our new chairs yet, and though the front room is most definitely disheveled, I decided to go snap a picture of that. AND you can see our new front door-- not actually new, but wearing a shiny new coat of paint! It was burgundy before, same as the rest of the house "accent" colors-- and I absolutely loathe burgundy.

Anyway, the chairs are good, and growing on us. The pets love them; they're really comfy, and worlds better than the stiff little wicker ones we had before. Which we still have, and are planning to put someplace we don't sit as often as we sit in our front room. 

So anyway, those are my updates for the week. Painting progress outside (and in, which I'll show you next week!), porch chickens, and new chairs. That's a wrap. 

I am off to Ithaca for the weekend, and despite the cold gray weather outlook for both days, I am thrilled. Fancy cocktails and Vietnamese food tonight, apples and cider and bratwurst tomorrow, and who knows what sort of other social delights will fill in the gaps! Happy weekend, friends.

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tomato's last hurrah

I pulled out my tomato plants this week, looping them like spent Christmas lights over my elbow. After piling them in the compost, I went back and walked over the beds where they grew all summer, with my harvest basket, scapping up fallen cherry tomatoes. Walking dazed towards the sweet lullaby of October I may be, I wasn't ready to give up on fresh tomato-based meals just yet.

We've been making this pizza ALL summer. For crust, use the recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver:

3 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water 
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

The recipe makes enough for two ample crusts, which I love. I also love the partial whole-wheat character-- rustic but not too rustic.

Then, the truly amazing and mind-blowing sauce:

12 oz cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
enough shredded mozzarella to cover, a little over 1 cup

Get the olive oil good and hot inside a cast-iron skillet, and toss the cherry tomatoes around in there until they blister and start to ooze. Then transfer them to a bowl, and mash them with the back of a spoon along with the garlic, basil, fennel, and a good sprinkling of salt.

Roll out the dough, spread out the sauce, top with cheese. Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees, then lift off the baking pan using a pizza paddle and lay directly on the oven rack, as low as you can get over the element, for five minutes. That's optional, but it guarantees crisp crust.

Serve with green substance of your choice. We chose kale slaw.

There, now. Now it can be fall.

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcoming October

I love this shift. Both ways. In spring, we swing from indoors to outdoors, and we revel in the sun on our bare skin and the earth turning under our strong legs. I'm already looking forward to that shift, next year, after the winter.

But right now, I'm savoring its opposite: the shift from out to in, as the days shorten and the mornings crispen and the red maples on our property line begin to go from burgundy to scarlet.

Slowly, the outdoors projects will be completed or shelved-- not in an, "oh man, I should've finished this on time" way, but in a, "well, that'll be good enough" way-- the tools will be cleaned and put away, the little trees will be fenced, the leaves will be raked and hauled and piled in the garden.

Right now, I'm loving the stepping back and letting go and letting be and being content. I wrote about the feeling here, and here, and I'll probably write about it again, next year, at length. Some things are eternal. The autumn un-plug and tune-in is one of them.

How are you all feeling about the coming of fall and winter?

Psst! Click here to subscribe to the feed!
Related Posts with Thumbnails