• Back to work

    The holiday weekend was an action-packed few days of fireworks, boats, and cook-outs. We spent an entire 24 hours with the Manfre clan at their lakehouse on Highland Lake, NH. It was a really beautiful area, with a cute little cabin right on a lake……parked next to boatloads of who else but honest-to-goodness New Yorkers! They were everywhere, on their (loud) motorboats, their (loud) ATVs, and at their “peaceful” lakeside cabins. Matt and I slept on the screened-in porch, which gave us the full effect of the New York surround sound. To be fair, I was woken up one time by a gaggle of loons passing by, so I can’t blame my whole sleepless night on them. Matt was so restless that he got up to fish for awhile----between the hours of 4 to 5 AM, which is actually too early for the fish! We still managed to have a great time, and caught some amazing fireworks right over the water (shot off by the next-door neighbors. Luckily we were out in the boat). The Manfres are champion eaters, so we ate really well---steak, corn, doughnuts (my fault), brownies, ice cream sandwiches, and other foods too numerous to mention.

    We came back to VT Saturday afternoon and started Part One of the birthday production. Matt got tickets to see Beth Orton, who was performing at the MOCA. It was an incredible concert, at once transformative, delicate, and powerful. I would highly recommend any of her albums, although I haven’t heard her latest.

    The last part of my mini-vacation involved going to a friend’s house for a sixth of July party. Lots of good food and some heated conversations about how the Olympics have been ruined by media coverage, as well as the use of Spanish smoked paprika as a secret ingredient (try it—it works with anything). A relaxing time….and back to work today.

    Did you know that Pinot Noir is really good chilled?

  • [wp_caption id="attachment_8" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Heirloom tomatoes"]Heirloom tomatoes[/wp_caption]

  • Happy Anniversary!

    We went about our day in a normal fashion, and had just gotten home with dinner (pizza with eggplant and goat cheese and Caesar salad) when Matt’s mom called. From my end of the conversation, I gathered that Matt was thanking her for a card we hadn’t yet received. I suddenly realized that it was our anniversary! Four years, which isn’t much in the grand scheme, but not too shabby. We both felt terrible that we hadn’t remembered on our own what day it was…and we would’ve been much nicer to each other if we had. Unconditional love is a nice thought, but sometimes dirty dishes get in the way…….

    I weeded in the garden for a bit today. Every day I venture out, vulture-like, to see what’s ready to pick. We’ve had some strawberries so far, and the blueberries are getting very close. The raspberries have started to turn, and I picked what I could from the edge of the patch. It always turns into a brambly mess as the weather gets nice, as hard as I try to keep paths clear so I can pick. Instead, I have to put on pants, sneakers, and long sleeves so I don’t get too scraped up.

    Tomorrow we’re going to New Hampshire for the fourth. We’ll be at the Manfre’s lake house, close quarters and hopefully fun times. I’ve always loved the fourth, since it’s right around the corner from my birthday. When I was little, we would go to Pennsylvania to visit with my Mom’s family. They would have a cake and present for me, and I would swim until my lips turned blue. There are pictures of me when I was six in my pink tiger bathing suit with the little skirt, eating cake.

  • I'm a blogger, too!

    [wp_caption id="attachment_17" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Sausage and peppers with fresh local squash"]Sausage and peppers with fresh local squash[/wp_caption]

    Well, those of you who have known me for awhile probably never would have thought they would see ME blogging. Since I am rather adverse to computers and technology in general, it is rather a stretch. I thought it may be a good project for someone nearing an important age (it's not 20). Maybe it's the fear, or just the novelty, but I hope to keep it going---at least for a few months.

    I am beginning my much-anticipated four day vacation. I plan to do lazy things that I don't normally have time for, like lying in the hammock (a new addition to the estate--check it out when you visit) and creating a brand new gelato flavor (I've been wanting to use fresh herbs in everything). Also, I am determined to make fun popsicles--all the rage now, but there's something very appealing about them. Like the Jell-O pudding pops that I loved as a kid--creamy and comforting, vanilla, chocolate, and swirl. My brother and I had them when we went swimming at my grandparents' pool.

    I also plan to get in the studio and try to remember what I do there. It's unfortunately been awhile...The good news is that 500 Handmade Books just came out (published by Lark Books), and my books are two of the 500! Not a very good percentage, I know, but good enough for me.

    Stay tuned to this space. I promise pictures and more.....

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Un-gift Guide

You may have guessed that I'm one of those people who make the majority of their holiday gifts. I do–but not always in the most well-intentioned way. After an entire month of making things for the farmers' market and focusing on what other people want to give their loved ones, I become gift-stupid. I forget about the gifts I'm supposed to get until a few days before we load up the car to drive south and visit family. Then my husband will conjure a list which has been in his head for the previous few days and gets worriedly translated to mine with our rural, limited shopping venues to keep in mind. Then, I'm in the basement staring down the least popular jams that are lingering on the shelves and wondering about the shelf-life of wrapped biscotti. After piecing together the most desirable edibles left over from the holiday market and any finished craft projects that may have been gathering dust for the past three years, some sort of homemade present takes shape. I don't necessarily feel proud of my efforts.

This year, I feel slightly more prepared for the season. I am trying to think about presents pre-emptively, order things, and have cute packaging on hand before I get busy making candies, truffles, and cookies for other people. One of my favorite things to do is to check out the gift guides: best books of 2011, best kitchen gadgets–really any sort of "best of" list instantly grabs my attention. I like looking at all of these things, but I don't imagine actually buying any of them. The guide that I am most inspired by so far is the one at Design Sponge for gifts made with your hands. And while they mention all the usual suspects, the guide could have been subtitled gifts made with your heart. It wasn't about invoking your inner Martha Stewart, but about really thinking about the recipient of your gift. What would she like? What would make her life better/easier/calmer? It made me think about how often we don't do that for people, even our close family and spouse. We get so wrapped up in finding the perfect thing that we forget why we're buying it in the first place.

So, maybe the true gift to put on your list this year is compassion. Imagine yourself in someone else's mental space for a minute. Maybe this person has been especially grouchy or happy or angry this year. There's probably a good reason even if it's not something that you can rationalize. Don't judge her, or tell her to snap out of it; instead, be accepting of where she is. And then cook her dinner or make her bath salts while keeping in mind why she's so important to you. Let everything else go.

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