Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day unfolding...

Chris and I spent the day together... running a few errands and stirring in a mixture of fun. We had some lunch at the Sea Dog in Brunswick, then hit a humongous flea market for some serious poking around. I found some treasures for Christmas gifts.

Then Rachel called and said, "Can we please get our Christmas tree today?" I was still firmly in Thanksgiving mode, but couldn't resist her enthusiasm. So we headed home and picked her up just before the sun went down. We headed to one of our favorite places to buy the annual greenery. We checked out almost every tree...
I love how the freshly cut evergreens are leaned up on this wonderful old truck. The red and green together.., and the heavy scent of balsam, it is hard to not be infused with the beauty of the season here.

There are wreaths, too, on the old barn doors... it is the picture of festiveness.

And the tradition continues... rather than trim the bottom off the tree outside like most people do, Chris hauled his chainsaw indoors, fired it up (the dogs, sensibly, scattered) and cut a clean edge. I can't watch... I am always sure the saw will hit my hardwood. So far so good... the floor remains unscathed.

Ready or not the Christmas season has begun and it will sweep me along with it. Tomorrow I will haul decorations from the garage and welcome the beauty of this time of year into our hearts and home.

Friday, November 26, 2010


One of the things I love about Thanksgiving is listening. I like to listen to the ebb and flow of conversation as people meet and greet and laugh. When the walls of this old house are filled to bursting with folks chattering and eating, it makes a certain sound that is just... joyous.
I also like to listen to the silence that happens for just a few moments when everyone begins to eat. The rooms take on an expectant hush as turkey and mashed potatoes are tasted.
And there is the dessert table! Pies, cakes, ice cream... sweet! This year my sister Deb, niece Elyse and daughter Rachel helped cook the food, (of course guests brought contributions as well.)We had a lively discussion about which of the younger generation will take on the holiday baton when I become too decrepit to cook the meal. It is a nice thought that the day means enough to them that they want to carry it on at some point.

We had 20 people here (from 3 states!) and served buffet style. We cooked twenty pounds of potatoes, because last year we ran out of them! A travesty!
Brother in law John and sweet husband Chris carved the turkeys. Yes, plural. Chris smokes one and I roast one. Dueling birds. I have to say those free range turkeys we bought (see post from a day or two ago) were simply amazing.

Just before company arrived I took a little break, and put my feet up. A mimosa tasted good after cooking, cleaning and getting ready for the feast. The dogs were happy to help hold me down while I rested a bit.

Now the guests are gone, and we are left with a refrigerator full of succulent leftovers and happy memories of a lovely holiday. A little bit of laughter, a lot of food, and bunches of love. SO much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Makeover on a shoestring...

A few days ago I posted about the makeover we were doing on our "bad bathroom." This bathroom had ugly open shelving, horrid, chipped wainscoting, a perma-stained floor, and a ceiling that was cracked and peeling. It also had a HUGE, hideous vanity. It was Ugly with a capital "U."
My sweet husband and I are fairly inept at home improvements. We are the sort of people who measure once and cut twice. And along the way this project had some grim moments... but much as we do in life, we just kept at it, chipping away, confident that everything would turn out alright. And it did! This little room is quite in keeping with a 100+ year old Maine farmhouse.
I have always been grateful for the indoor plumbing, hot shower and warmth of this room, but now it makes me smile when I see it, too. And Sherrie? Note your grandmothers painting on the wall! The perfect colors and such a great scene. Thank you for the gift, it is well loved.
The funky mirror was a recent yard sale find, $5.00! The 50's style tissue dispenser, toilet paper storage tower and painted shelf were all from flea markets and junk stores. The wicker trash can and paper dispenser cost $1.00 each. I do so love a "bah-gain!"
I am so pleased with the end result of our bathroom makeover!

Doing business the old fashioned way...

The last few years I have ordered expensive "free range" turkeys from my favorite local farm stand. I pictured turkeys raised on a farm, grazing on fresh grass and snatching bugs. Last year I realized that the birds I had bought were actually raised at a poultry place that does have a paddock for them, but mostly they are crammed together on dirt.
This year I happened to see a place out in the country that said, "Turkeys, Eggs, Boat Repair." How could I resist? So I called. I talked to a woman named Linda. She told me the variety of birds they had (broad breasted whites) and said they did actually live on pasture. We arranged that I would buy two turkeys, 15-20 lb. range. (Traditionally we smoke one and roast one. Leftovers for everyone!) She took my name and number and said she'd call me the Tuesday before Thanksgiving for pick up.
I asked if she'd like me send her a deposit to hold the birds. She said no, my word was good enough. I worried a bit, what if she didn't end up with enough turkeys? What if she sold more than she planned? What if she didn't call? What if I got down to the day before Thanksgiving and had to buy (gasp!) common grocery store turkeys?
Today, at 1 o'clock, my phone rang. "Hi. This is Linda. Your birds will be ready by 2. What time do you think you will be here to get them?" I told her it would be after work, "That's fine. I'll see you then!"
And now, two incredibly fresh turkeys are chilling in the 'fridge. And we met really nice new people. And I am loving the old fashioned way of doing business. Maine... the way life should be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lighting up the night...

In Maine in the late fall and winter, dark comes early. When I come home shortly after 4 PM, my world is shrouded in deep dusk. To me this makes coming home sweeter than ever. Inside is light and warm.

Some Mainers brighten this time of year by putting candles in their windows. I put mine up today... a flickering candle for every window. Then I went outside, wearing my husbands jacket. There I stood in the cold deep dusk, admiring my house. The candles say welcome to visitors and passersby and they flicker bravely in the face of the long, dark winter nights.

Morning chores...

I love my morning routine. The dogs wake up early, wanting to go outside. This time of year I pull on fleece pants, shirt and jacket, stuff my feet into my beloved warm warm boots and head out. The fall air is cold and crisp on my sleep warmed skin and wakes me up like a slap. The dogs love the chilly weather and romp across the frosty grass smelling things I never will. I scan the yard and surrounding meadow, taking in the weather and the sky and the scenery. Often now I hear Canada geese on the pond, their voices sharp and haunting. First I go to the garage and grab a water bucket and my old, battered grain scoop. The scoop I fill with black oil sunflower seeds and scratch grains. I fill the bucket with water from the hose unless it is frozen, (soon it will be frozen for the rest of the season.) On frozen mornings I take the bucket back inside to the kitchen sink and fill it with slightly warm water. I think the animals appreciate the warmth!

Most mornings the rabbit leaps to meet me near the chicken coop, where she waits for a handful of seeds and corn. I knock the ice out of the water bowl by the coop and refill it. I open the pop door for the chickens and they come out, one by one. Some peer out, blinking at the early light, others rocket right past me, hopping and flapping with obvious enthusiasm to greet the day. I toss a handful of chicken seeds out around their yard, check to make sure they have food and water inside the coop, and head out across the yard. The dogs tag along with me, leaping and playing. I sprinkle more seeds in various spots, the majority of them on the north side of the house under the pines. The chickens like to hang there, scratching amid the fallen pine cones. I fill another water bowl there.

Next I fill the bird feeders and check to make sure the suet cages are full. The air around me whirs with the sound of wings as the wild birds zoom in for breakfast.

The dogs run for the house and I follow behind, pausing to grab an armload of wood. I open the draft on the wood stove and if I am lucky embers from the previous days fire spring to life with a red pulse. Wisps of fragrant smoke curl up towards me as I add logs to the coals, and blow on them to get flames dancing. The dogs wait in the kitchen for they know that when the stove is going they all get a cookie from the old dough bowl on top of the refrigerator. Sometimes they get two.

A flick of a switch fills the kitchen with the scent of coffee brewing. A warm shower awaits and then the day unfolds from there. But it is all grounded in the first blast of morning, for which I am so grateful.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let the preparations begin...

This week I have been hauling out china (I have wonderfully mismatched stuff, gifts and items picked up here and there) and the "real" silver, (my grandmothers) and the butter dishes and candlesticks and napkin rings and table clothes. I am washing bed linens and buying groceries and going over the lists. LISTS! I am plotting and planning and happily anticipating. I love Thanksgiving and all it entails. Yes, yes, let the preparations begin!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Steak and more...

Today I went to a local meat processing place. By "local" I mean about 30 minutes from home, through some impressively pretty rural countryside, smack in the middle of nowhere. I picked up 1/2 of a steer that I purchased. I met the man who processed the steer. His name is Frank. He built this place inside an old barn. It was clean and neat, from the freezer where several deer and a few steers hung, to the room where he cuts the meat. I know this because I asked him for a tour, and he gladly gave it to me.

The steer I bought was carefully raised by a friend of mine, from the day he was born at her farm. He knew green pastures and sunshine and the care of his mother. He knew shelter from storms and unlimited lush grass. He knew fresh cool water and shade from the sun. He knew room to roam and romp. He never new fear or pain.

Tonight we grilled some of the steaks I brought home out in the crisp fall air, on the grill that spends the winter on our deck, (even in the cold and snow, we often grill our supper outside.) We sipped on Zinfandel and watched a perfect half moon rise over the oak and evergreen trees as we cooked, (and we smooched a little, but I digress....)
And then we dined. And that steak? It was the best we ever tasted.

I recently read the book The Omnivore's Dilemma. It was actually recommended to me by one of my blog readers. In the book I found the following, "... people who care about animals should be working to ensure that the ones they eat don't suffer, and that their deaths are swift and painless-for animal welfare, in others words, rather than rights."

Not so long ago I was horrified to think that someone could raise an animal and then have it killed and eat it. As a person who was born caring very much about animals, I have fairly recently embraced the idea that it is better to know that the animals I eat have had a healthy, happy life and a swift and merciful death. Tonight the enormous freezer we own is filled to the top with home raised chicken, lamb and beef, (and a bunch of stuff from my garden, too!) And I know that every bit of this meat was raised with care and kindness. And you know what? This is a good thing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Recently our daughter has been cooking. For the last two nights she has prepared our evening meal while I do other things. Last night was a dish that involved pasta, a bunch of veggies, a smattering of bacon and a lovely grating of Parmesan.

Tonight, while Chris and I worked on a home improvement project, the kid made an old family favorite... Cajun Scampi. This twist on the old dish involves some Tabasco and other seasonings. It is beautiful and one of my favorite meals of all time. The flavor is magically enhanced when I don't have to cook.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bad bathroom...

When I first clapped eyes on this house via the Internet 8 years ago, I fell in love. Hard.
And when I got to see the place in person on a raw March day I loved it even more. Except for the upstairs bathroom, which was uglier than ugly. And it smelled bad. It had heinous wallpaper and gross CARPET, (in a bathroom? icky!)
Shortly after moving I tore the carpet out. Under it was ancient, flaking linoleum. Up it came. I sanded the floor, stained and sealed it. I peeled off ick paper and painted the walls. Chris put up new lights for me, and I hung a funky mirror from a junk shop. I could not change the horrid vanity/sink or the oh so ugly tub. The room looked better, but the ceiling was a mess and the room has been an embarrassment. I figured the whole thing needed to be gutted and redone. Sadly, that level of rehab was not in the budget.

Recently, Chris has agreed to help me with the vexing bathroom by removing the hated vanity and replacing it with a simple pedestal sink. I was vexed about the ceiling. I was sure it was beyond hope and would need to be totally replaced. Tonight I scraped it, sanded it and patched it. After a few hours I sanded it again and rolled paint on. It came out far, FAR better than I could have hoped. In fact, it looks... good! (Not perfect, but really? GOOD!)

Next we will put in a new sink, new bead board paneling and hang an even funkier mirror. I will be so pleased to have this space refreshed and refurbished. It won't be perfect, but it will be just fine..

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Falling back...

I love it when we turn the clocks back in the fall. The thin light of early morning draws me up and has me bustling about. And coming home in the deep dusk of late afternoon to my cozy home, with wood smoke threading out the chimney and warm lights welcoming me inside does my heart good. It is the season for soups and stews and comfort foods, candle light and warm, cozy clothes and fuzzy socks. In my mind all those good things are tied up with the same ribbon that turns the clock back. My husband hates the time change as does one of my friends. I suspect it is because they are not morning people. I am a morning person. I wake up feeling so... grateful. At least I do when I wake up to dawn. Waking up in the dark makes me want to grumble and roll over, pull the covers up tight and resume dreaming. I'll keep the time change and smile slightly when I hear others complain.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Weekend...

I am home from the New England Pet Grooming Professional's Fall Festival show. I groomed dogs at the German Red Clipper booth, caught up with old friends and met new ones.
My sweet husband drove me there and back, and we enjoyed a weekend away from home, (though we both agreed that "home" had a better TV, a better bed and more cuddly sheets than the Crown Plaza!)

My dad used to say, "It is good to go away, but it is good to come home, too."
When we got home the place was tidy and a fabulous dinner of home made roasted squash soup was waiting for us, (thanks to our kiddo!) Me? I like the coming home part better than the going away part.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

And the pig says....

It's weee weee weee WEEKEND! (My weekend starts early... stay tuned for a full report.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ear music...

Example of ear music,"go sit and chill, babe. I'll cook supper."
Further ear music, the clink of utensils on pans, the rattle of silverware on plates.
And as if that is not enough there is the sound that comes later, after we eat. The sound of water running as dishes get washed and counters get wiped.
I love music!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


V Voting in a very small town has its own, unique flavor.
I go in. I state my name to the silver haired lady at the table.
She hands me a ballot and I go to the curtained booth where the pencil is sharp and I am curiously alone.

When I am done I poke my ballot into a polished wooden box. The lady who monitors the box holds a ruler to stuff stubborn ballots in with. She smiles brightly at me and I exit.

In the back hall there are home baked goods. Brownies, cookies, macaroons and more. You can have one just for voting... but donations go to the library or some other worthy cause. The woman at the tables grin broadly and offer sweets. I skip the baked goods but make a small donation. I love small towns.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November- (and being thankful...)

It is the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving. The icon and centerpiece of our celebration is... THE BIRD. These wild turkeys (the original BIRDS!) crossed my path today and nicely posed for a photo. Look how long and lean they are compared to the fat, broad breasted birds we buy at the store! I imagine the wild turkeys are a far cry to eat compared to the commercial ones we buy today.

I ordered two locally raised free range turkeys for the upcoming holiday today, (we cook two... one a traditionally roasted bird, one smoked.) It is November and time to think about Turkeys and company and the festivities that encircle the gratitude that we have throughout the year. That is a big burden to put on the backs of birds, don't you think?

Happy November!