Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Autumn brings an irresistable urge to bake, and treats to go with it. Behold, for my kitchen has been taken over by oven mitts, brown sugar, and cinnamon-y goodness. This was the pear-cranberry crisp I made last night, using Molly Katzen's recipe from the (newly acquired) Sunlight Cafe. I love that it's a brunch and breakfast cookbook, and that it contains recipes for fruit crisps and cobblers. Because we were all secretly looking for an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Stockings-- one of my favorite things about fall.

I love them coiled all snailish and sweet. They'll be keeping the knees of this die-hard skirt-wearer warm on many a chilly autumn night.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This is one of the best things: a cold rainy fall day, a warm kitchen with a whistling tea kettle. I just spent the better part of the day in there, puttering away and humming, listening to some of my favorite autumn music (Uncle Earl, Jo Serrapere), and just basically being in love with being home.

In spring and summer, we thrill in getting out, exploring, adventuring, seeing the new and being seen. Come fall, we turn inward. All of a sudden, it's a September Sunday and I'm laying in bed fantasizing about spending the day with my kitchen. It's the best possible date: there is music, and good smells, and hot tea and a floor to dance on if the mood strikes.

Now I am picking sage. Now I am chopping an onion. Bit by bit, there's the release of the wild expectations of summer, the humble simple acceptance of fall. It's like a drug. I've been grooving to it all week.

I hope fall is finding you similarly enchanted.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Putting squash in baskets. That's just one of those autumn things, isn't it? At least around these parts.

Also, I got my favorite table runner out of its drawer. I own exactly four table runners, and they change with the seasons. This is one of my rituals: the old one gets washed and folded, the new one gets pressed and spread out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Today I filled jars and freezer bags, stuffing in as much summer as I could. By noon, scarlet jars lined the countertops, a sauce-pot sputtered on the stove, and every window in the house was covered with a thick, runny layer of condensation. Patrick's glasses fogged immediately when he came home from work and ventured into the kitchen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We are back from the beach, and ready to launch ourselves headlong into autumn. It felt like a good transition point, three sandy days to take in the sun and reflect on our summer.

Back home, the leaves are trickling down from our black walnut tree, the asters are in full swing and the sedums are fading away. I was only too happy to rise early and get down to business: canning 50 pounds of tomatoes, and making preparations for a new season.

Thanks to my wonderful inlaws for warmth and good cheer, and wine on the balcony.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Headed off

Jersey shore, here we come. For the next three days, I plan on emulating this guy as much as possible.

Sunshine? Check.
Immotility? Check.
Smile? Check.

Back Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My new apron

It was a fitful night. I suppose I should've known better than to spend time poring over old Anthropologie catalogs and this gorgeous blog while in bed, but suffice to say it was a bad idea. My brain was filled with beautiful and irresistible visions of things to sew, and no matter how many times I rolled over, no matter how many times I let my mouth fall open and made peace with the puddle of drool on my pillow, I still couldn't sleep. The fitfulness culminated with the two-am decision that I absolutely could not let the sun go down on another day without finishing my Emmeline apron, the pattern for which has been sitting in my craft room since last November.

So. This was the only possible course of action. To absolutely haul through the project, from pressing the pattern pieces to clipping the last pesky threads, and to not rest until I could tie it on. I was a driven woman, head bent to my mission, squinting at that shiny needlepoint.

In retrospect, I would say: do not try this at home. This is not a one-day project. Though it is, emphatically, the absolute most adorable apron I have ever worn (or will ever wear), and despite the fact that I now look cuter in my kitchen than I do in any other room of our house... well, it was still a godawful lot of work. I should not have rushed it. I should've let myself be calm and meditative, not driven.

But damnit, sometimes enough is enough. Sometimes you've just let an unfinished project linger so long it shows up and proceeds to drive you out of your mind at two am.

Well, I've put it to rest now. Whew. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to don a very adorable apron and make me some borscht.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Old cemeteries

What is it about old cemeteries? Patrick and I have a bit of a fascination. We like to head for them on Saturday mornings, choosing one or two we haven't yet explored from one of the tucked-away crossroads that used to be a town. The older the better. Tumbling stone walls are sweet and endearing, as are towering old cedar trees. Happily we putter down the snaggledy rows of graves, calling out the more interesting names to each other:

"Mehetable Jones!"
"Orange P. Phelps!"
"Content Kingsley, 1803."
"Nehemiah Briggs, hey, Revolutionary War."

Of course, underneath their outright interestingness and gentle creepiness, there's something peaceful and almost romantic about them. So many lives no one remembers, so many husbands resting next to their wives under the hydrangea blossoms. So many little tombstones, all in a row. If I let myself, I can get carried away with the traces of stories in these places, so many of them unspeakably sad. What would it have been like, living back then? Life was a lot riskier then, and death a much bigger part of everyday life.

This past weekend we went exploring in New Berlin, NY. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this very unusual grave marker:

Yes, that's a tree trunk, carved out of marble, complete with ferns, bark, and twining ivy. And a cross, lashed onto the pretend-tree with pretend-rope. This one isn't so much on the gentle side of creepy.
It's on the creepy side of creepy. The family plot is demarcated with matching pretend tree stumps, each bearing a carved O for Oatley, the family surname.

Why a tree? Was this guy a nature-lover? A wood cutter? A gnome enthusiast? Is there symbolism here, and why, in all the old-cemetery-sleuthing we've done, have we never come upon anything similar before?

I guess old J. Clark took these secrets with him to a spot under his very own pretend tree trunk.
Edit: This link explains everything. Woodmen of the World. Who knew?

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