Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Hurrah for the pu-umpkin pie!"

Goodbye, November! (although, the way you kept snowing, I kept thinking you were December!)

Maybe, a few of you will remember reading my post on Halloween. We got a foot of snow, a few days before, which panicked my youngest into thinking that we might just possibly skip Halloween, this year. All was well and expectations of candy galore were filled but, the day after ("All Saints' Day" and, better still, Grandma's birthday), when Toby came home from school and we were vacuuming to have her over for a special tea (and because of all the special hub-bub and the snow), Toby exclaimed with strained and excited voice, "is it time for the Christmas tree, now?"

The snow is pretty festive!

(but it melted)

First, however, we had a lovely Thanksgiving. I hope that my friends, here in the US, did, too. It's awfully fun to have a good old fashioned Thanksgiving in New England. Perhaps, I feel closer to the pilgrims' experience. ;) Well, alright, they had it a titch rougher than I do....but, I mean, it just seems very 'right', somehow. =]

Perhaps, 'traditional' is the word for it.

Anyway, speaking of Thanksgivings past and age old traditions, I've often heard stories from my friends who are a generation or so ahead of me - stories of how the pond was always frozen and everyone would go ice skating after dinner, on the day. Well, our pond was frozen over but it was very thin ice. The day before, however, we got a foot of snow (again); so, it turned out to feel rather truly like the typical old fashioned holiday of lore!

The best tradition, of course, is being all together and sharing a special feast to celebrate....

just to celebrate!

...and to set apart time to recognize that we are, indeed, so full with good things (even when there are hard things, too) - and glad about it!

and, then, look how warm and inviting Grandma's house is...

Grandma's house is amazing! The kids are always perfect. Everyone is always happy and has a wonderful time and I have no idea how she so effortlessly spins out that huge dinner. She's very Jeeves-like!

The "Ha-ha" game with too few players (all cousins)....

The only thing I was responsible for was the pumpkin pie! It was a breeze of a day and I was so thankful for that, too! ;)

 (although, I'm fully aware that the Christmas Feast is all mine to do and coming!!! ...soon!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apple Picking Time

 One thing that I just love about living in the New England Countryside is the sense and celebration of the changing of the seasons.

Here, in Vermont, our lifestyle and activities, our mindsets, really, our whole psyches, change with the light and the weather. Well, it's hard to ignore the pending frozen wasteland that we can feel in our bones is about to beset us. We may complain about the cold and being housebound and (for those who have to shovel it) the snow but, really, I think that most of us genuinely appreciate the down time - the cozy, homey hibernation that winter brings. (Mostly, those who, truly, don't like or appreciate it, pick their lives up and migrate to Florida.) When, autumn comes and the scent of woodsmoke tantalizes our senses and there's that certain crispness in the air and nature, in a severely festive mood, decorates the hills with those lively colors, we feel a thrill of the shift of the season. We start bustling excitedly about, getting ready, inside and out for the relief of the exiled quietness to come.

Well, in this household, in October and November, it's not only the need to stack wood that sends this pod into hyper drive, it's, also, the arrival of my mom and dad for a three week visit. There are adventures to be had, when Nana and Grandpa are in town! Festivities, celebrations (five birthdays, no less!), explorations, outings and traditions are on the agenda and they range from the elegant and out of the ordinary, to the simple and subtle.

One simple tradition that we enjoy, most years, is apple picking. This year, my mom and I were a little worried that the boys might be getting a little too old and find it uninteresting. We forged ahead, though. I made corn muffins for a reviving snack-to-go and, when three scruffy, tired, young men tumbled off of the school bus, we bundled them right back in to the truck to go for a late afternoon, spur of the moment outing. Hey! They were willing!

The apple orchard is only a fifteen minute drive from our home and is situated on a very high hill. It's truly a gorgeous spot!

and,... errr, I like this tractor well enough but what I really want to show you is the beautiful setting of the autumn colored hills.

What surprised my mom and I is that, what the three maturing men were interested in the most, was the petting zoo. It was really fun, funny and sweet to see how they interact with the animals - now, that they have so many at home - now, that they're older - now, that they've developed these funny, dry senses of humour!

(er, exotic.....chickens!)

I have to confess that the experience of watching these piglets attack their mother for food was a bit unnerving for me.....

and, I can't believe that I didn't get a picture of the bunny metropolis that they have going in the petting zoo! I did get a pic of one of the many, many escapees, though.... (there were rabbits all over the place!)


The joy of living here means that we don't have to come on the weekend when the masses are visiting. The down side is that the orchard seemed to be stripped bare by the apple locusts! After wandering for about fifteen minutes, we were overjoyed to finally see this sign! (we were supposed to turn right after the mulch pile and keep going but we never found the mulch pile. We were lost in the orchard and too mellow to be found!;-))

 Twist, snap!

A freshly, just picked apple is so crisp and juicy and has such an alive, appley flavour!

but, at the end of the day (which it was), this is a working orchard.

apple sauce, anyone?

Up next is what we did with the apples....

and, I just want to give a very warm welcome to my new friends/'followers'! It amazes me that I can journal my simple joys and experiences - throw them out to the winds - and they find resonance with others from different parts of the world. How fun is that?!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Looking back!

I've had such a whirlwind time, the past two months, and a lovely autumn season. There are several happy memories that I would like to share with you in hindsight before the Christmas season starts in earnest; so,....if you don't mind me blogging while looking in the rear view mirror....

The season started out looking like we might not have much color in the trees at all. With all of the rain we've had, there was a bacteria effecting the leaves and making them turn brown and just fall off. It was very unsettling and more than a little disappointing but, then, quite suddenly, I woke up one morning and looked out the front door and saw this! I was so genuinely surprised! Many people had a similar experience - they noticed a sudden pop of autumn color, just when we thought it was all going to be over.


Well, around about that time, my sister and husband invited me to go to one of our favorite restaurants - LA Burdick's - Boston, New York City and....Walpole. It cracks me up, every time. I mean, who's ever heard of Walpole? ;) but, here is this wonderful restaurant in our obscure "neck of the woods". There was no particular reason to go - no birthday, etc.  My husband had done a favor for the family tea room and my sis was treating him and he, in turn was treating me. How luxurious to go for no particular reason....

It wasn't until I got into the car that I found out that there was a particular reason...


(in September, no less!=])

Oktoberfest traditionally starts the third week in September and ends the first Sunday in October. It began in 1810 in Munich as a series of festivities in honor of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The decision to repeat the festival in the following years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest. Today, the Oktoberfest in Munich is the largest festival in the world and is celebrated worldwide in similar events.

There was a "mostly traditional German menu with some contemporary and seasonal dishes that will focus on originality with a few creative twists... special German cakes and pastries, as well as a selection of fine German beer and wine... "

and a brass band playing German folk, drinking and dancing songs.

Polka, anyone?

There was a tremendous flow of unbelievably tasty and comforting handmade bretzels with German mustard and a soccer game - USA vs. Deutschland.

Inside, as always, there was atmosphere galore!

Beautiful bouquets....

and the food...
warm potato salad served in a crispy bacon basket with German wurst and hot mustard.

Salad of quail with fall mushrooms and hazelnut vinaigrette.

and for dinner...
Venison "Baden-Baden" with Spaetzle, pears and chanterelles

(Venison medallion served with wine-poached pears filled with lingonberry jam, chanterelles and handmade Spaetzle.

Every bite was heaven!

and as the music pumped on into the night...


and the laughter grew louder

and there were stars in our eyes from having shared such a wonderful experience with each other...

The best was yet to come...

Dessert, of course!!!

(Silly, what were you thinking the best thing would be....?)


I had the bee-sting cake.

but, of course, black forest cake abounded everywhere!

It was a wonderful, wonderful surprise!
Such a happy memory and there are

 more adventures to come....