IMG_6816Home. A simple four letter word that is absolutely emotionally charged. Don’t believe me? Ask any parent of a college kid. “Home” is home, the house and family that you grew up with, the parents that worry about you and provide you with everything…or at least  did until you left for college.

Home is defined by Merriam Webster as:

1a one’s place of residence domicile 
b house 
2the social unit formed by a family living together 
3a a familiar or usual setting congenial environment; also the focus of one’s domestic attention 
b habitat 
4a a place of origin

I remember quite clearly when the my boys first returned home from college for a long weekend or break and referred to that place where they reside when they are not with me, as “home” as in “when I get home…..”. No. No. NO! You cannot call that “place” home. This is “home”. WE are “home”. Not some place with thrown together furnishings, decorated with beer cans, sorely in need of a good mom cleaning, a place that those other than college folk would find unworthy of being called a home. And yet there in lies the rub. “Home” is not so much a place as a state of mind.

Houses, apartments, condos, dorm rooms – these are all physical spaces that accommodate us and keep us out of the elements, provide a sleeping space and a place to store all our stuff. Home is where you are gathered with those that you care about, whom you care you about, those you support and those that support you – in short, a place where you feel safe, cared for and loved. A place you are happy to spend your time.

It took a while and a lot of fervent wrangling before this college mom came to the non-emotional realization that home means a lot of things to different people at different ages and stages, but boils down to those essentials – happiness, safety, friendship and love. For me, I am more than happy that my kids have found “homes” where they are surrounded by laughter, friendship, safety and love. I know that our home is the foundation of all that and will always hold a special place in their hearts.

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tyler scan 3I remember being very worried before Tyler was born, how was I possibly going to love this new baby as much as I loved my first. Seems silly now, looking back, but at the time I was genuinely concerned. The second that I saw him though, I fell in love hard and it became instantly apparent how a mom’s heart grows to love each and every one of her kids as if he or she was the only one. Today, 22 years later, it’s hard to imagine what my life was life before he was a part of it.

tyler scan 1When one says that time flies, the young scoff. As you get older though you realize that it really does fly by in the blink of an eye. In my mind, I see the adorable kid with the infectious smile in these pictures. Before me, stands a young man that I am proud to call my son. He is intelligent, funny, kind, thoughtful, quiet and sincere. In many wonderful ways he reminds me of his dad, particularly when they both gang up to pick on my lack of musical recall. (The Red Hot Chili Peppers are seared into my brain thanks to him). He is my forever date to go to a Tracy Chapman concert with (if and when she ever tours again) and to see the Northern lights. The partner who gets to spend her life with him will be one lucky girl because he gives his heart fully and completely. He will be a wonderful champion for our environment as he embarks on his career upon graduation.

tyler scan 2My wish for his 22nd birthday is that he realizes just how special and talented he is goes out into the world. The world is lucky to have him, as am I.

Happy birthday Tyler, love you!

~Mom

PS – Yes, I get to post the toddler pictures, it’s part of the reward for going through the birthing process. 🙂

 

 

IMG_7379The weather outside my window this first day of Spring is very un-spring like but pretty typical for this time of the year, looking back through blog posts from past vernal equinoxes. We won’t see many signs of spring coming up through the snow today, unless they are herculean daffodils or crocus – that are about 3 feet tall!

Anyhow, I came across this draft of a blog post from this time quite a few years ago and I thought I would share – if nothing else, it might make a smile cross your face and that would be a delightful addition to this spring day!

Here are some very zen thoughts for a Tuesday…well kinda zen but pretty funny. Not sure where I originally got these so I can’t give credit where credit is due. ~sorry about that but know you made me laugh.

  1. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  2. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  3. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
  4. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
  5. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.
  6. If you ever feel you are worthless remember that you are full of expensive organs.
  7. It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
  8. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
  9. Always remember that you’re unique, just like everyone else…
  10. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
  11. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  12. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  13. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.
  14. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
  15. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  16. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
  17. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
  18. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
  19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.
  20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  21. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

1, 6 and 12 are my personal favorites, although the lawyer in me chuckled at 21.

Which are your favorites?

mYCZwunGTZC0LOTyRSDSIQI have been coddling my starter all week and today, with over two feet of snow on the ground with more on the way, I thought I would use some of it for these muffins bringing a little bit of summer into this winter day. I hate throwing away discard starter and have been looking for ways to use the extra starter without donating it to the septic system (which is fine some of the time). The blueberries come from right across the street at Sugar Hill Berry Farm, which will be open to the public for berry picking this summer. We were fortunate to get the opportunity to do some private picking last summer and these huge, sweet berries have been taking up residence in my freezer since then, waiting for a good recipe.

I used this recipe from Turnips 2 Tangerines . This is the second time I’ve made these muffins and they turn out great. I add a little bit of sparkling sugar to the top of each for both looks and an extra bit of sweetness. I love the recipe because it doesn’t require me to use the mixer to blend the batter, elbow grease and a spoon is all that is needed, so it comes together quickly. 30-35 minutes in the oven and you have some delicious muffins. Give it a try and if you’re up this way in the summer, come pick some berries, your winter self will be thanking you. 🙂

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For the first time since I’ve been on the school board, I am running in a contested election. First let me explain that by “contested”. I in no way mean mud-slinging and nastiness, but rather that there is more than just one person (namely, me) running for the open seat. In fact, there are three of us running to fill the two open school board seats in our town. You have no idea how excited I was when I learned that not one, but two townsfolk submitted petitions to also run for school board. I was soooo excited that others were interested in joining the school board and working for our community’s kids. I could hardly contain my excitement that my pleas for folks to get involved seemed to be heeded. It was my husband who, after letting me enjoy my excitement for a bit, had to point out to me (gently, I might add) that this “wonderful news” I was blabbing about meant that I was now involved in a contested election for my own seat on the board. Talk about bursting one’s bubble. NOOOOO! But alas it is true. So, this will be my first contested election. Wish me luck. Here’s a throwback to that first election when I wished my dad could have been alive to see his little girl’s name on the ballot.

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Win or lose, please make sure that you get out to vote if you live in Vermont. Your fellow community members count on your support and it’s an amazing and important process, unique to the New England area and particularly Vermont.

 

 

IzTUdKHgTwe%GhBf%w%o4wrZ54chYuQRKsKJQLfEOCYwTried my hand at making homemade hot Italian sausage without the casings. It was a surprisingly easy project. Took my 3 1/2 pound pork butt and cut it up into smaller chunks that could fit through my grinder. Put them in a ziploc bag and froze them for about an hour which amazingly makes the grinding all that easier. Ground the pork on a course grind and then laid it out on cookie sheets and added the spices and seasonings. Kneaded it all together and put it in the fridge for a day to meld all the flavors together. Tonight we tried it, cooking up a couple tablespoons to test for flavor. Delicious. This will be bagged into individual portions that I can use in sauce, stir fries or on pizza.

 

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Local is awesome. It’s so neat to be able to have your neighbor plow your driveway, get your eggs and produce from someone down the road and know your firewood came from local trees. It’s such a good feeling to know that your decisions are helping local folks and supporting local businesses. It is also amazing when you see local businesses supporting local people.

Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington is an amazing outdoor store, locally owned and operated (if you have never been, get yourself there!) and I just read that they have combined efforts with the Vermont State Parks to offer brand new camping equipment for rental at designated Vermont state parks this season for free (yes, I said free – F.R.E.E.) The program is part of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative‘s work. The hope is that by offering essential camping equipment for rental for free at the designated five state parks, it will foster more folks and particularly families to get outside and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer in the great outdoors. The program will make stoves, lanterns, tents and sleeping pads available for loan to folks camping in the parks. Since the only missing item would be sleeping bags, which don’t really lend themselves well to being loaned out repeatedly – Outdoor Gear Exchange is working on getting low cost sleeping bags manufactured so they can be made available for purchase for campers to buy at a very reasonable price.  The idea is that your only “equipment” expense might be sleeping bags allowing you to borrow all the other necessary equipment from the park.

Mark Sherman, the owner of Outdoor Gear Exchange was the person responsible for this amazing brainstorm idea and has already gotten the support of several well known manufacturers, OGE deals with, like Kelty, Black Diamond, Mountainsmith and Jetboil to volunteer their goods to the cause. How amazing is that?

I totally understand that putting together all the necessary equipment to even get away for a weekend of camping can be financially daunting to a lot of families especially if it’s your first time out or your first experience bringing along the little ones. This is the best of both worlds, getting the family outside and getting to borrow new working equipment without having to beg and borrow from family and friends, who may not even be in the same state.

This is just another reason that if you are in need of some outdoor equipment, perhaps you should just bypass the big box outdoor folks and support local businesses like Outdoor Gear Exchange. They are trying to give back to the community with programs such as this, helping to make the outdoors more accessible for everyone.

Kudos to you, Mr. Sherman and your business, you will continue to have my support! You can read more about the program here.

Not having an oven makes you become a bit more creative, or at the very least, try things that you keep saying you wanted to do, but just haven’t had time to get around to actually doing. I’ve been wanted to do my own english muffins — even having gone so far about a couple years ago to buy english muffin rings from King Arthur (which still remain in the original package – you don’t actually need them for this recipe).  You see, without an oven, my poor sourdough starter has stayed in the fridge longer than would normally happen over the winter months. I had a bit of a panic attack recently that the only jar of starter in my fridge might not be as patient as I have been waiting on the oven, so out came the 18-year-old starter and it was fed, fed and fed again until it was nice and happy again. Can’t lose that baby, we have a history together.

Now, what to do with my nice fat, bubbly, happy starter? Sourdough english muffins seemed to be calling my name. I found the recipe I used on Genius Kitchen and substituted Lactaid milk for real or powdered milk to deal with lactose intolerance issues in the family and of course the honey added was our own Heffernan honey. The dough mixed up easily enough, sat overnight as directed and with about 1/2 hours’ worth of work total and an hour additional rise time Saturday morning, we had these babies ready to go into the cast iron frying pan to be cooked.

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Into the cast iron pan that was already heated and given a tiny bit of butter and oil to keep things from sticking, they went in about three batches. 4 minutes on each side covered to help them bake properly all the way through and here’s how they looked…t3k7Cj8hRVyI+Frnk0lbRgSQTduk++QfGXDbVCnL%9ywnA6G8zfXRoaaMTgPxmV5%w

After they came out of the pan, I took a fork and fork split each one, simply poking the fork into it around the muffin. Easy enough. Of course, Tom and I had to do a QC testing with the warm muffins while I was finishing up the last of them. So, into the toaster they went….

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Out of the toaster, topped with some butter and here’s the final result….a nice sour tang and lots of nooks and crannies.

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Vermont’s school funding is in the state and local news of late and we will all be asked to vote on school budgets soon. The Vermont School Boards Association produced a video to help explain how the process works. It does a good job of explaining a fairly complex process, making it a little easier to understand.

Bella

Bella Pup

I’m sure that they think we are crazy.  I’m pretty sure that we are, on more than one level but it is QUIET when they leave. There’s no one sitting in my space on the couch, no one to clean up after, no one to cook for (although my husband would disagree on that one). I think that the emptiness is bad when they leave in August, but it is deafening when they leave in January. Deafening, I tell you. First, you have the chaos that is the holiday season – the social commitments, the catching up with everyone, the exhaustion that comes from trying to make it perfect, or at least perfectly chaotic. Then, when the holidays have passed, the calendar has begun a new year, there is the dreaded “un-decorating”. That in and of itself could be enough to make one go mad. Couple the un-decorating with the gradual disappearance of one… then two…. and now all three and it is just plain quiet, with a capital Q, U are going to lose your mind, I am definitely going to lose my mind, Empty house, Tell me about it! So, what do you do? You’ve prepared for this depressing inevitability of college kid life by getting yourself  a puppy.

Not just any puppy, mind you, but a cat/puppy or at least that’s what the puppy thinks she is. With this new addition to the family, it doesn’t take long for you to remember that sleep is really, really important to your physical and mental wellbeing or you will go completely off your rocker; you realize exactly how messy your house really is when the little pup is pulling at and apart every single little thing in the house that she can get her paws, or more likely, her mouth on and lastly you remember how much you actually enjoyed it when it was an empty nest after they left no matter how much it broke your heart to see them go. Too late for regrets though because during all this chaos, sleeplessness and insanity, she’s already melted your heart with that silly “who me?” face that she makes when you scold her and you can’t help laughing when you find that she’s jumped over the couch and is sitting on the window sill pretending she’s a cat, looking outside and completely unable to figure out how to get back over the couch. And the way they act like little boys again when they play with her and fawn over her when they were home…well, yes, we are crazy but it’s completely okay. I’ll take crazy any day.

For all of my lawyer friends, this is the brief that we all wish we could have written. Snarky, sarcastic. If you are familiar with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you probably caught the recent episode where he discussed coal and a certain coal mine owner who does not like publicity. He threatened to sue, and in fact he did. The West Virginia ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief which is just … too darn good. Even my non-lawyer friends will get a few good chuckles out of this. To give you an idea of what you might be in for, there are section headings such as “All of John Oliver’s Speech Was Protected by the First Amendment. You Can’t Sue People For Being Mean to You Bob” and great legal points such as “Bob Murray thinks John Oliver was mean to him, and doesn’t want him to be mean to him again. While that is sad for Bob Murray, it is unconstitutional for a Court to order such relief.” ACLU Brief, P. 8

I encourage you to follow the link here and give it a read yourself. In addition to brushing up on your First Amendment law, it’s quite the read. Excellent job, ACLU, excellent job.

timToday, our youngest son flips the birthday page and a decade, turning 20. Hard to believe that 20 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. I remember the day he was born like it was merely yesterday. I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing young man he has grown to be, with his feet firmly rooted in his heritage and his family and a soul that loves to explore– always inquisitive, searching, learning, growing. The scope of who Tim is clearly reflected in what he is doing  now and where he has been this summer. He started his summer exploring his Italian heritage in Sicily, working hard to secure himself a coveted spot on the National Italian American Foundation’s Voyage of Discovery where he spent two weeks learning about his Italian roots, practicing his Italian and enjoying all the history that Sicily had to offer him. As I write this, he is exploring this country, from coast to coast, and will spend his birthday today hiking and exploring one of our country’s national parks. This picture taken on his journey this summer, it is so “Tim” I couldn’t help but “borrow” it for this post.

I admire and respect his tenacity, his thirst for knowledge and the breadth and depth of what he already has learned and his beautiful voice. He is a kind soul, always ready to lend a hand and a hard worker as anyone who is familiar with his work last summer could definitely attest to in a heartbeat.

I know that he will do great things in this new decade and those decades going forward.

One night a while back, when we had ordered some take-out Chinese, we sat around and opened our fortune cookies as we normally do, laughing at what each said. Tim’s fortune that night summed up him perfectly ~ “You are a traveler at heart. There will be many journeys.”  

Happy 20th Birthday my (not so little anymore) traveler! Love you!

Evilwife on the move

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