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Fall is definitely in the air here in Vermont. The trees are showing what’s left of their yellow, orange and red selves. It’s definitely “putting by” season. We had a definite frost/freeze last night and it’s a good thing that I spent a few days gathering what was left in the garden. However, with the harvest coming the processing, the part that sounds good but is so time consuming. As I type this, celery leaves are drying in the dehydrator, second batch. The first batch of those and a jar of sun dried cherry tomatoes are already stored away. Basil has been pureed with olive oil and frozen into tablespoon size portions to mix in soups or pasta sauces. Potatoes are dug and in the shed, drying so they are easier to dust the dirt from before moving into the basement for storage. The onions, which were picked several weeks ago, are there too, now ready to put by in the basement for fall and winter usage.

A very pleasant surprise were the volunteer tomatillos that were growing in the garden. I was convinced that they would not be ready to harvest, but pleasantly surprised to gather a large basketful, weighing in close to 8 pounds. Some of them have already been roasted with said onions and peppers for a green salsa.

The voles commandeered most of the beet crop but I was able to gather a handful to enjoy. They don’t seem fond of the carrots, but I’m sure that their appetites will change as food becomes scarcer since I’ve harvested most everything else.

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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.

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.

DSCN3991Tomorrow is Town Meeting Day across Vermont. Tonight was Town Meeting in Wallingford. Democracy at its finest. If you’re not from New England and have never been to town meeting, I strongly suggest that it be a reason for visiting during the midmost of mud season. Tom really wanted to bring popcorn but he held back. Honestly, depending on your town, it can be that good. 🙂

The first Tuesday in March is a state holiday, Town Meeting Day. While some towns in Vermont vote all or a part of their town meetings through Australian ballot, there is no legal requirement to do so and in fact, there are still some towns that do all their voting from the “floor” a town meeting. For instance, tonight herein Wallingford, there was actually a motion from the floor to increase our town’s budget and therefore the town’s taxes from the floor by a fellow citizen. Where else does one person just raise their hand, stand up, state their name and make a motion to increase the town’s taxes? Not in New Jersey, that’s for sure. The vote because it passed, required the moderator to do some math on the fly to revise the following article to reflect the new budget amount when the same group of town residents voted on the town budget.

The issues run the gamut as stated by the Burlington Free Press from whether or not to purchase a new truck in the town to impeaching the president. I remember our first town meeting, we showed up wide eyed and amazed at this wonderful New England tradition. Here in Vermont, the farmer down the road, the local elementary school teacher or the 18-year-old college student can stand up, raise his or her voice and change the whole budget for the town or persuade the town to support a cause or convince them to pull support for a cause or a budget item. Amazing, still after ten years.

 

Plastic shopping bags. You can accumulate them like mad if you have a family and do any amount of shopping. While you can recycle them at the store for re-use or reuse them yourself for trash can liners on wastebaskets or such, they do accumulate quickly, don’t they?

I always used to smirk at the sign planted just outside the automatic doors at Hannafords – “Did you remember your reusable bags?” I have joked with the cashiers that the sign, while loaded with good intentions, didn’t help walking into the store at all since if I forgot my bags, they were a good 12 miles away at home. That sign, I have said more than once, needs to be in my driveway.

I try to use my resusable shopping bags every time I go grocery shopping. In fact, I often say that I feel like a tourist if I forget them because it becomes very apparent to me, in the store that everyone else who isn’t from away on vacation, has their bags.

Pretty soon, here in Vermont we may join California, Florida, Arizona and many hundreds of other towns and cities across the country in banning the plastic disposable shopping bag from our stores. H.105 is a bill that has been introduced here in Vermont to ban plastic disposable shopping bags. The bill would protect small businesses and not apply to compostable bags or recycled plastic bags.

I remember the first reusable grocery bags I found years and years ago when I still lived in New Jersey. Chico Bags. They were very nice bags that could fold up and be put right in your purse or glove compartment or pocket. They could even attach to your car key ring. They came in a variety of colors, but all the same shape. osrd-3

Now, Chico Bags have bags on their site in every style, size and color. In fact, most every store you walk into, be it grocery, clothing or hardware, has its own type of reusable bag for sale. Bags are made from varying materials for strength and durability.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? Do you need that Hannafords’ reminder sign in your yard? What’s your favorite bag?

Friends and family often comment that we are lucky to live here. We absolutely are. We are blessed with beautiful views, good friends, wonderful neighbors, good cross country skiing and great fresh air. But we are also stuck with nights like tonight. We decided to head out to a local place for a quick bite. It was not late, but it also wasn’t early. We got to the spot and it was packed. Of course what did we expect? Friday night during ski season in the land of skiing, right in the path of those coming from out of state. It was disappointing to both of us and reminded us that there is a downside that is not always readily apparent to those that come to visit.

Enough of the whining. Now, the upside. We headed home grabbed some frozen beer battered haddock from the Wallingford Locker, made some rice pilaf from scratch with lots of garlic and parsley and had a delicious but quiet dinner at home. When you are in the mood to go out and socialize, as my husband who doesn’t get out all week with work, was – it was disappointing. But we made the best of the situation. And the other upside, was the delicious blueberry turnovers for dessert. Ssshhhh.  Those are the same turnovers I am bringing in the morning for my school board retreat. 🙂fullsizeoutput_6ad4fullsizeoutput_6ad5

Last night was Christmas, all over again. We got tickets from our son for a concert at ArtsRiot in Burlington. It was a lovely evening. We had dinner with some of our favorite young adults, walked over to the concert venue on Pine Street and settled in for a nice musical evening. We were not disappointed. The entire concert was an acoustic event. The opening act was a Burlington singer/songwriter named Henry Jamison. He was wonderful. If you have not heard of him or his music, take a listen here. If you have the opportunity to see him near you, I would recommend it highly.

The main act was a Maine singer/songwriter called Lady Lamb. Another acoustic performance. While we were not all that familiar with her music beforehand, by the size of the crowd and the sold out show, Burlington was definitely familiar with her. A great performance. It was a very nice night of lots of great music, evidence that a gift of experiences trumps a gift of things.

It was also evidence of the small world we live in. Another couple asked to share our large half moon booth, to which we gladly agreed. Turns out, she was a Mill River graduate who was very familiar with our little corner of Vermont. The four of us had a great conversation waiting on the concert to start. It was a lovely evening on many fronts.

 

Kerplunk – To fall with a sound like that of a heavy object falling into water.

Wednesday was not a good day. Didn’t start off so terribly, I woke up and that’s a positive right there. No, the problems started when I put my phone in my back pant pocket in order to carry my basket of laundry downstairs first thing in the morning. Since I never put my phone in my back pocket, I forgot that it was there and went about my business. Until a short time later when I walked into the bathroom and heard that sound – kerplunk. As the definition states, it is sound of a heavy object falling into water — or in my case, the sound that your Iphone makes when it falls into the toilet and sinks immediately to the bottom of the toilet bowl. At first, the sound did not register, what could have fallen into the toilet? Then with horror I realized it was my phone. There was cussing and screaming and crying because you see, my phone is not up for a new phone until much later this year and a wet phone is not a good thing. Not at all.

I immediately grabbed the phone out of the toilet and now the flash was on and the phone wouldn’t shut off and …did I mention I was crying?… gave it to my husband who thought I must have been suffering some medical emergency when I came screaming and crying out of the bathroom. Into the bag of rice it went, I grabbed my computer and texted my eldest son, who deals with these sort of phone emergencies in his daily work. In compliance with his instructions out of the bag of rice it came. It was taken apart and the battery was disconnected so no further damage could occur. It was left open to dry for 4-6 hours as directed by the kid into whose mouth I put spoonful upon spoonful of rice cereal 21 years ago.

And we waited. And I also decided, after I ripped the molding off the door trying to bring the wood cart in with firewood later that morning, that I should refrain from doing anything further to endanger myself or those around me. So, I waited some more, not doing much of anything, except maybe still crying and chastising myself for being utterly stupid.

Hours later, with eldest son on call as the phone was reconnected, we learned it wasn’t completely dead, but sadly wounded. I then contacted his work, Wires Computing‘s website and opened a ticket for a repair since he was in Burlington and I was here and my phone desperately needed his expertise two hours away. With an interesting role reversal, he calmly assured me that he sees more of this type of thing than I knew and I was evidently one of the eleven or twelve other people (mostly women) who have their phones fall out of their pockets and into toilets on a weekly basis – and who also seek his help.

My phone was mailed the next day as directed, received the following day and repaired that same day by my dear, sweet, very talented son. It was shipped out to me this morning and if all goes well, I should have it by Monday.

While I am always proud of the boys, I am particularly proud of the guy who was able to save his mom (and her phone). He is going to school for engineering and graduating this May, but he works doing micro soldering (which is soldering done under a microscope on electronics) repairing phones, computers and other electronic devices that are mailed to them from all over the world not working, with water damage, with cracked screens, etc. If you are in need of this service, as I was, I would encourage you to check out their website. The service was quick, can be done from anywhere (in the world, evidently as he said he has phone from Europe, South America and the Middle East right now he is working on) and there is little hassle. You receive emailed updates of the status of your repair and an email when it is finished, your invoice is ready to be paid and your phone is on its way back to you. The final email was my particular favorite and I’m sure you can figure out why.  🙂

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We still haven’t figured out if that was just because it was my phone or whether that message accompanies every repair he does.

 

Evilwife on the move

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