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Here on the hill we were the recipients of the most beautiful snowstorm that has come around these parts in a while. The snow was wet and heavy and clung to every surface and every single stalk, bough or branch, even the tiniest. It created an amazing winter wonderland, comparable only to the very tippy-top of the ski mountains where everything contains a frosty, magical white coating. 

Winter Wonderland 

I love snow. My feeling is that winter shouldn’t exist unless there is snow on the ground. No snow and we might as well be gardening and growing things. 

With every plus, however there is a minus. With all that breathtaking clingy snow, came downed trees, some bowing so heavily under the weight of the snow that they look as if they are bent in a deep curtesy, their gentle tops almost brushing the ground below. Some branches couldn’t support all that weight and broke off, tumbling to the ground below and in many instances taking electricity lines down with them. So, while we are living in a winter wonderland, we are doing it without electricity. 

How, might you ask then am I typing this and communicating electronically with all of you? The power of the generator, I tell you. I remember when we first bought this house, I thought a generator was not necessary, but I soon learned differently. You see, here on the hill, when the power goes out, it could be out for a while. And while candles and cooking over the open flame might sound romantic and very grounding, it is – but water, in the form of a hot shower, flushing toilets and that with which to cook and drink, doesn’t happen when you are on a well and lose power unless you have a generator. The winter is a little easier to deal with than the summer, especially if the gorgeous white stuff is outside, because you can fill a pot of snow and bring it in and melt it over the wood stove, but it doesn’t work as well, or at all for that fact, in the summer, when there is no fluffy white stuff outside your door. And for those without the power of the wood stove to heat your house, it can get mighty chilly mighty fast without electricity to heat the house. 

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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.

 

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?

img_4887So here’s a question. Do you push in your chair when you get up from the table?

Does the type of table you are getting up from determine whether or not you return the chair to its position tucked under the table?

Do you even have any idea what you do or don’t do with your chair when you get up from the table?

Do you push in your chair when you leave a conference room?

I have been observing. In my heart, I think I am a true people watcher.

Lately, I have been noticing people and their chairs. Weird, I know, but I notice that it is about evenly split, whether one pushes in one’s chair when they leave a table or not. This got me to thinking about the etiquette of pushing in one’s chair and if there was even such a thing.

img_5364I was raised to push my chair in after I got up from the table. Maybe part of it was that our kitchen was also our dining room and there wasn’t much room to spare, so pushing in your chair when you got up was not only polite, but it made sense. With our house, our family pushes in chairs when they get up from the table. The boys were taught that was the proper way to do things, at least at home, although I have personally observed them pushing in their chairs when we are out at dinner. Proud mama moments, they are truly the little things – but I digress. 🙂

I notice that not everyone pushes in his or her chair. In fact, a lot of people don’t push in their chairs. It can be annoying when you get up or try to get up from the table at a restaurant and bump into the chair behind you that wasn’t pushed into the table. At home, it is frustrating when I have to go around and push in chairs if someone doesn’t push in their chair when they get up, things look off, could be OCD on my part, but hey, it’s my house and I like my damn chairs pushed into the table. 😉

So, the question remains, what is the proper etiquette? According to Emily Post, the mother of all things “etiquette”, it is basic table manners to push in one’s chair when one leaves the table. It’s so basic in fact, that it is in categorized in her 1922 etiquette book under the category “The Kindergarten of Etiquette”. Evidently, according to Ms. Post’s rules, a child should not even be allowed to dine at the adult dinner table until the child learns how to pull out and push in his or her chair (along with other basic table manners).

As I investigated even further, modern manners, almost 100 years later, still expect that when you get up from the table, you push in your chair, even if you are just leaving to use the restroom! In fact, just because you are eating your meal at McDonalds and not some fancy five star restaurant doesn’t excuse you from pushing in your chair. You are even expected to push in your chair when you get up from a conference room table at a business meeting. The prevailing thought is that it is just plain ol’ polite and helps to prevent someone else from bumping into or falling over your chair.

Therefore, it appears that we all may have a bit of work to do in the chair pushing in department. Next time you are out and about, be a bit of a people watcher and take notice. Let me know what you find to be the prevailing trend. I’m truly curious.

 

 

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

Today, we were on our way into Ludlow to run an errand and came upon the Mount Holly Moose once again.  We have seen her many times in the past months, sometimes with an out of town guest which really made their day. This time, she was laying down in someone’s yard just relaxing. So, with good camera in hand, here are some of the pictures. She looks totally unfazed by the humans on the side of the road that were gawking at her and taking pictures. After all, not many moose posing for cameras. A few years ago, we had a couple young moose that would wander through our neighborhood, but we haven’t seen any that close around our house in years.

There is concern that the moose is ill and that is the reason for her lack of concern for cars and people. There is talk that the moose may ultimately have to be euthanized. Hopefully, that is not the case.

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img_5108It is a very quiet house here at the T’s. The boys are all back to school and our company over the holiday weekend is gone. While this is the beginning of the second semester of school for the boys, it is the beginning of Empty Nest Part II here at home. Empty Nest Blues….when it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that they are gone again.

In thinking about it, the dog and I have a great deal in common at this point in time. While sitting here in the living room by the wood stove, typing away, I half expect a kid to come sauntering in. No such luck but at every errant noise, both the dog and I look to the doorway expectantly, both with similar expressions of hope in our eyes. Both of us realize almost simultaneously – no, that was just a noise, not a boy. We probably have the same disappointment float momentarily over our faces. We then both turn to Tom to entertain us and make us forget that there was no boy at the doorway.

Sad, but true. I have been reduced to equating myself with the dog. At least when it comes to the first few days after everyone has left. My goals for the second semester is to take my dog companion and get out there and soak in some Vitamin D on a daily basis. A little (okay, any) snow to make it a little more appealable (and ski-able) would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

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Since just before Christmas, I have been chicken sitting for a friend. There were three hens that needed some watching while my friend was off doing research during the college break. Among my many talents (adding this to my resume) is my years of experience with chickens, although this honestly is my first official chicken sitting stint. I liken it to babysitting. Once you are a parent, you pretty much have the necessary qualifications to babysit other people’s children. As a chicken owner, I evidently have chicken cred. 🙂

Just for giggles, I actually googled chicken sitting. Yes, much like everything else anyone can think of, there are several pet sitting services that offer chicken sitting as part of their services. I get it, but there are honestly a few businesses which as their sole business, do chicken sitting. I. Kid. You. Not.

Which brings me to the question. Why? Oh why did I spend all that money on a law school education when I could just have been a professional chicken sitter? 58% of Pet Sitters International 2016 survey on pet sitters do chicken sitting, which it reports is a sharp increase from its previous survey. It appears that chicken sitting is an up and coming area of the pet sitting business. Silly me. I thought that chicken sitting was something a neighbor does for you when you are out of town for a few days or a few weeks. A simple neighborly thing, not a whole profession. I really do need to get out more. Seems I have been missing this.

Seriously though, I have enjoyed my chicken sitting stint. Particularly since there is no rooster involved. Roosters can be a pain in the bottom and I bet those  professional chicken sitters probably collect hazard pay when there is one or more roosters involved, since that usually involves having eyes in the back of your head to make sure that rooster isn’t trying to take you out while you are tending to the ladies and collecting the eggs.

Eggs. Gotta love fresh eggs. For all those folks out there that haven’t experienced freshly laid eggs, you have no idea what you are missing! Nothing better than cracking open an egg that has a beautiful bright, deep yellow (almost orange) yolk. Trust me, once you’ve had a fresh egg, you  will simply hate anything that comes to you weeks (or more) old.

So, what do you think? Professional chicken sitter as my next career? Somehow I think I’d have to move to the city or darn close to one to pull that off, and I’m not ready to make that move.

 

 

A couple years ago, Tom went out and bought himself a fat tire bike when his knee was acting up. The orthopedist’s advice was to keep his knee moving without jarring it too much and causing further damage. He suggested biking. Tom did his research and while we both have mountain bikes, they are probably as old (if not older) than the wedding anniversary we just celebrated. He wanted a new bike and the idea of a fat tire bike intrigued him. It would give him the ability to have a little more four season biking opportunity. When he showed up with his new bike that looked quite odd at the time, I really didn’t quite get it. We had mountain bikes, which could go almost anywhere, why fat tires? He seems to enjoy it, and he can go places (like the beach) where my little old mountain bike just can’t handle because of its fat tires. But alas, fat tires on their own can get you a lot of places but they still don’t work well when there is ice and snow on the ground. So, he has lusted after studded tires for his fat bike for a while. Honestly, we couldn’t justify the expense of another set of tires for a bike, when there were trucks that needed tires and the costs could actually be somewhat similar on a per tire basis.

When we were up in Stowe last weekend, we came across a fat tire bike convention/gathering of sorts that we decided to stop at and take a walk around. The place where he bought his bike, up in Burlington, Old Spokes Home (don’t you love that name?) had a tent with some cool bikes and accessories. Lo and behold they had some studded tires at a great price. I treated my sweetie to an early birthday present.

The next day, after doing some research, he decided to give a try to change over the tires himself. A few hours which included a complete clean up of the bike and reassembly and  the studded tires were on. He took it for a test drive on our icy roads and had nothing but good things to say about the studded tires. I think that this will make the snow/ice riding much more pleasurable and falls due to the bike slipping and sliding, less likely to happen.

If you are a fat tire biker and are debating the studded tires, I can say that they work, I’ve seen it up close.

 

 

Sounds like a great mystery book or a movie title, but it’s not. This week in Vermont is Open Farm Week. It gives those of us who love to wander through farmers’ markets and eat fresh from the farm produce a chance to see what actually goes on at your favorite farm and learn more about agriculture and farming in our lovely state. This opportunity gives a whole new meaning to “learning where your food came from” as you have the opportunity to not only see where it came from, but meet the folks behind your favorite fare in their own environment — and even lend a hand and see what it’s like to be a farmer for a few hours. A great opportunity to gain even greater appreciation for the men and women who are behind the farmers’ market tables each and every week.

There are farms all over the state of Vermont that are opening their barn doors for you! Of course, Vermont farmers are so friendly and welcoming that you don’t need a special week to visit your favorite farmer. But, I digress.

Here is a sampling of some of the things you can do this week at a farm near you. You could even schedule a whole week of farm fun and take a tour of Vermont farms, taking in their uniqueness as each of these places puts their own special twist on farming and for that, we are very grateful.

Merck Forest and Farmland Center will teach you all about draft horses and maybe even get the opportunity to help drive them around the farm.

Health Hero Farm is having cooking classes demonstrating how to cook their fresh beef.

Have a Farm to Table Dinner by the gardens at Boyd Family Farm in Wilmington. The proceeds for this dinner go to charity.

Take a nature photography course at the Smokey House in Danby.

You can also visit an alpaca farm, visit a vineyard or visit a mushroom farm. There are lots of choices and really something for everyone. Take advantage of really learning where your food comes from this week. You’ll be glad that you did.

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I have been trying, for several years to grow lavender. Last year, I had beautiful plants that I grew from seed but didn’t flower much but were hardy. I brought them in to over-winter since the prior year’s plants that I bought as young plants didn’t survive. Guess what, the hardy plants died on me.

This year, (third time’s a charm) I purchased several small lavender plants in late spring and put three together in one planter and the fourth elsewhere in the yard. Guess what, all four of them are flowering with lots of flowers on each plant.

Mind you, they aren’t those lush lavender plants that you see in photos, the fields of lavender, but they are my four little plants and they are alive and they are flowering. That makes me happy. In fact, ridiculously happy — I’ve been trying so hard to grow this for years now. Today, I harvested my first bunch of lavender flowers to dry and couldn’t resist snapping this picture to mark this rather monumental (in my book at least) occasion.

This is particularly good news since the garden is coming along, but slowly. It is the battle of Tammy v. the Vole (or vole family, not sure yet). I plant, it eats. I plant more, it eats more. I douse my plants in castor oil, cayenne and dish soap and, you guessed, they are eaten (although it did take a few days). I pull out the Italian mama’s size jar of crushed red pepper, cover my little plants in red pepper (haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get that pepper completely all out of the lettuce – so house guests beware!) but it has managed to slow the critters down. Next step, break out the Irish spring soap – my mom told me that would work and I’m ready to give it a shot. I am hopeful that as the little plants grow (grow plants, grow!) they will become less appetizing and the critters will go elsewhere for their green veggie intake.

So….you see, a little tiny bunch of lavender is really a pretty monumental thing in my world of gardening these days.

 

Evilwife on the move

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