Halloween!


Today the temperature was in the 60's. The 60's! I love Indian summers. It's like a short, sweet trip down memory lane, letting me say hello to summer one more time.


It's Halloween today, and we were very excited to join our friends for some fun and trick or treating. We had trouble getting to their home at a nice early hour because 'H' decided to poke herself in the eye with a pencil this afternoon and she scratched her cornea. Jeff took her to the doctor and she was prescribed eye drops. She's okay.


The afternoon was rushed and I didn't line them all up for costume shots, so these are the best I have tonight. 'A' loved her princess dress and also loved seeing some of the other, older princesses on the street tonight. 'H' was in a very cute s'mores costume. The only thing she liked better than dressing up as candy was eating it.

Both girls had pretty dramatic candy highs and lows.


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!



Today was a big day, in an unexpected big thoughts kind of a way. It's been a while now that Jeff and I have been making an effort to eat locally and watch our consumption. For me, it's not so much about moving away from the typical American diet as it is about moving toward a lifestyle of incorporating our ideals into our everyday life. I think about it, but mostly in positive terms. I do still go to the grocery store but only to purchase things like dish soap, orange juice, rice milk, and margarine. We get our vegetables and fruit from local sources now (gosh do we eat a lot of apples these days!) and I make my own bread, croutons, bread crumbs and salad dressing. I still buy my flour at the store but am excited to check out a local wheat farm soon to see if I can source local flour.

I knew that moving toward a local diet would mean making a shift in our eating habits, and I knew that it would be accompanied by a mental shift as well, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional shift. Today I walked into the grocery store and I wanted to buy some mushrooms. It was my first trip to the produce department in a long time. Our produce department is pretty darn full of all kinds of things from all over the world. No matter what time of year it is, you can count on finding what you want. I stood there and was really surprised by my reaction. I think it comes close to culture shock. Asparagus and strawberries were on display, front and center. "Who is growing all of those at this time of year?" I thought. Then I saw the pineapples, the green beans, the tomatoes, the bananas, and it was too much to take in. Something that was once a welcome sight looked all wrong to me today. It wasn't just the type of produce available: it was that there was so much of it, all on display in this big, overlit room. And it's not like this was the only store for miles around - I know perfectly well that there are many other area grocery stores that have this same set up.

The last time I had this feeling was just after I returned home from a year in France. Things are so different in Europe - the overconsumption isn't as obvious, and when I got back here and went into a grocery store for the first time, I was in shock. It was worse than today's reaction, because back then I turned and ran in tears, unable to figure out how to handle it.


On the positive side, I'll tell you something I realized this week about our local diet. It has so much flavor! Everything we eat is bursting with ready-to-eat flavor and goodness. Our taste buds are more alive than ever, savoring every bite. Wow, what a wonderful difference this is. I love it. There's no turning back.

Something else I love: take a look at these Halloween decorations 'A' made today. She is so creative! She does her best work when it's unprompted. She took it upon herself to decorate the "entire house" for the holiday, and made (with no assistance at all) a bat, a witch on a broomstick, a spider and a ghost. My girl!


sage


I realized yesterday that now that 'H' stopped nursing (at least I think she stopped - it's been about a week without a request from her), a whole new world of herbal tea is open to me. Sage tea has so many medicinal uses and for the past several years where I've been either pregnant or nursing or both, I haven't been able to use it. The timing couldn't be better - with the autumn and winter cold and flu season upon us, sage tea is the perfect "feel good" remedy.


It rained all day today. We did not make it to the Halloween party and we were sad to have missed it. We did however make it to the farm for our last pick-up and I was just as sad as I thought I would be to see the season end. The sky was dark; the ground was muddy; and the air was heavy with... emotion?


I'm still feeling the tug of sadness about the end of autumn and the winter season ahead. This poem by Mary Oliver was sent to us by Justine Denison, one of the owners of Denison Farm, where we pick up our produce each week. I like it - it understand it, and it understands me.

Song For Autumn
In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come – six, a dozen – to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.







One last look before we go....


Wow, it's the end of October already? How 'bout that.

Today I'm finishing up 'A's costume (princess dress, to be revealed here tomorrow when it is done) and working on 'H's costume (finally she decided what to be: a S'more!). We have a party to attend tomorrow afternoon where the girls will be wearing their costumes - nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?


This morning we went to the Round Lake Library (which as you know by now is one of my favorite places to spend time). I had signed 'A' up for the story hour, which is set up as a way for children to hear a story, do a craft, and feel comfortable leaving their parent for an hour. I was told that 'H' was too young to participate, but when we arrived, they let her go with the bigger kids. I stayed downstairs and scoured the shelves for some interesting new children's stories. I was told afterward that 'H' did great up until the point where she cut her craft into a million little pieces (something she enjoys doing at home, so I wasn't surprised), and then cried because she wanted something to take home just like the other kids. Oh well. I tried telling her it's a learning experience and I taught her the word "regret", but it all fell on deaf ears.

Our pellet stove is working out very well and I am loving the heat and warmth that are now a part of our life. Warmth is a good thing, a very good thing. In fact, I think I'll heat up a cup of apple cider and warm my bones by the fire before I resume costume-making.

Warm thoughts to you!

Today we joined a few other families from our Unitarian church for a hike at Kane Mountain. The mountain is just inside the boundaries of the Adirondack Park and overlooks several different lakes. The trail was wet, muddy and slippery because it rained heavily yesterday, and though the climbing was tough for our little 4 year old (even with waterproof hiking boots), it was definitely do-able. That's good because Jeff and I love to hike, but until now we haven't been able to go as a family and all have a good time.


We made another wonderful food-based discovery yesterday at the farmer's market: local popcorn! We love to pop a big bowl of popcorn on the stove but have always used the popcorn we find at the grocery store. Yesterday we stopped at Anna Mae's booth and bought a bag of the red seed popcorn that her husband grows and dries, and when we got home Jeff couldn't resist making a batch. The difference is amazing! The kernels didn't pop up as nice and fluffy as the store brand, but the taste was beyond comparison. So rich and flavorful. We're hooked.


Someone asked me yesterday what we're doing this year for "preschool at home." I told her that we're pretty much living life here, but when I think about it, we do a lot of fun things that I thought I would take a moment to share.

Both 'A' and 'H' are heavily into imaginative play. Many times each day they decide what they're going to act out (a friend coming over to visit; a trip to the doctor's office; a mommy tucking her child into bed...). They figure out which role they each play and usually get heavily involved in the storyline. They're so good at staying in character that even when they get hurt, they stay in character. One time 'H' was pretending to be a visiting friend and she fell and hurt herself, and in between her tears she asked me to call her "mom" and let her know that she got hurt.

The girls help me cook, shop for food, and keep the house organized, inside and out. They clear the table and load the dishwasher. I am reluctant to establish responsibilities for them (a.k.a. "chores") because at their age, it will only set them up for failure and set me up for nagging, but I do encourage them to be helpful and to pitch in when asked or when they feel they can make a positive difference. That works pretty well for us - they like to feel like they're being helpful.

'A' has begun to work on her "handiwork" - sewing, and starting soon, finger knitting. She desperately wants to learn to make a sweater and I keep reminding her that she will get there... eventually. I'm not sure that cutting and gluing counts as handiwork, but it sure is something they both enjoy immensely.

Both girls are fascinated with geography. It probably helps that they have several map puzzles, a nice big wall map of the U.S. hanging in the kitchen, and they each were given a U.S. map from their grandparents for collecting the state quarters. They know many of the state names and capitals and we recently began looking up the state flags to see what imagery is on each and what it represents. We also talk about people around the world and how their lives might be different than ours. I am really hoping that Santa will bring the girls a globe or a world map so we can see where all of these other people live!

We spend time outside every day, running around and playing, rubbing leaves between our fingers and enjoying the fragrance, swinging on the swings, digging in the sandbox, and more. Outside time is one of those things I make a point of scheduling every day - it makes a huge difference in our quality of life to get out and see the sky.

And we read, which I almost forgot about because I love to do it and so do they. It's just a part of our daily rhythm.

So, for our year at home, we do simply "live life," but since life is rich and there's always so much to learn and appreciate everywhere we look, we spend a lot of time doing just that.








today


Today:

We picked up our first fall CSA share at the farmer's market and were surprised to find so much food in our share;

Dinner with friends, who enjoyed the fresh-picked veggies and want to join the CSA too;

Rain, which is a nuisance on one hand but on the other is much needed by the plants and trees;

Love, all around.


We've been running around lately, doing all of the following and more:

*Visiting the Brookside Museum to learn about harvest days back in the 19th century

*Picking up our vegetables at the farm (I have so much produce in the house, it's unbelievable! We're definitely having squash soup for dinner tomorrow)

*Welcoming our pellet stove and feeling happy about the wonderful heat it gives us

*Enjoying the warm weather this week

*This one is just about me - I've working a bit this week on a new project (computer stuff, design stuff)

*Sewing Halloween costumes


Enjoy your autumn weekend!




Turning leftovers into bread

I think I love turning leftovers into bread even more than I love turning them into veggie burgers. Tonight I made roasted root veggie bread, using the celeriac, sweet potato, turnip, onion, garlic and rosemary mix I made on Saturday. I made up the recipe and it's my first try at using vegetables in yeast bread, so bear with me... but it can be done! Here's what I did:

Dissolve 2 teaspoons yeast in 1 1/4 c. warm water
add:
1 cup roasted root veggies
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons wheat gluten (to make up for the lack of gluten in the vegetables)
3 + cups of flour, enough to make a soft dough

Mix it together and knead until soft and smooth. I let it rise once in a greased bowl until doubled and then a second time in two bread tins. I baked it at 425 for 30 minutes. It came out of the oven hard as a rock but softened up as it cooled. This is a bread that goes well with soup!

We "Ghosted" our neighbors!


We decided to "Ghost" a neighborhood family with young children and a neighbor who is older, just to spread the love over the generations and see what happens. Each ended up with two ghost pictures to hang on their door because we got going on making ghosts and couldn't stop. 'A' delivered the goods!


rethinking 'H'


I'm rethinking 'H's fainting spells. A while ago, after we had a visit with her pediatrician about it, they stopped just as suddenly as they had started. I thought it was over. But it's creeping back in. I would still think nothing of it if it was just a fainting spell and nothing else, but I can't help but notice that she is a wee bit sleepy for the rest of the day after each spell. That concerns me. I think I'm going to bring her to a pediatric neurologist after all.

We walked forever today, partly to enjoy the nice weather, partly to run some errands in town. 'A's gold shoes are cute but not great for walking - ahhh... to learn such life lessons so young...


This afternoon I kicked a soccer ball around the house a few times and made us all run after it. I'll be dreaming of these days in a few months when my house is an island in a sea of snow!



cooking on Sunday


Jeff made candy apples with the girls today. They're very excited to eat them tonight and I'm excited for them. Now that they made them and I tasted the candy, I know why I never thought to make them at home. The corn syrup sweetness is sooo not my thing. The apples are almost as unappealing as Candy Corn.

Luckily, I won't be around for the candy apple feast, because I'll be at my small group tonight, meeting with some thoughtful women to discuss life issues. For this group, I took time today to make apple muffins, a new recipe, one that turned out quite well.


I had the most wonderful dream last night. 'A' and 'H' asked (as usual) for our coin jar so they could play with the coins. I said yes (this never happens in real life). We ended up at my mother's house, at the Cape, out on the flats at low tide. The girls had great fun tossing the coins in the air, burying them and finding them over and over again, and scattering them everywhere. Before long, the tide started to come in. The sun was low in the sky, and it hit the surface of the water in a way that made everything sparkle. Big, bright sparkles were all around. I saw the scene from above, and what I saw were coins scattered for miles, as far as the eye could see, surrounded by shimmering sparkles. When I looked closer, I saw that the coins had grown in both size and denomination. The pennies because giant $100 coins. The dimes were enormous and the quarters were even bigger. What made me so happy was understanding that none of it was for us anymore. It was there for anyone who needed it. Whoever needed money to buy food or shelter could come and take some of this gigantic, sparkling money and use it to fulfill their needs. My girls had taken something of ours and in the process of enjoying it, they watched it grow, and it became something far bigger than what it had been.

The funny thing is, although the dream was about money, I don't think the money represented money to me at the time. I think it represented ideas, thoughts and feelings. I woke up with the feeling that my family had done something magical to change the world for the better. Wow, what a great feeling.

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!