Thursday, September 16, 2010

Letterboxing, Cemetery and Autumn in the Air

Today Music Man and I took the boys to our local cemetery.  It has wonderful stone walls all around and a bunch of very old hand forged gates, one of which appears above.  It sits smack dab in the center of our town at the busiest intersection.  There's no creepy sense of isolation in this cemetery, it's actually quite inviting and friendly.  In this cemetery there are 2 monuments that look like granite but are in fact made of metal.  It was quite a fun adventure for me to try to locate them, which I never could do as I thought they were headstones, not monuments. Music Man showed them to me today.  Apparently as the story goes they are members of a family that had a brother that owned a foundry, and he had them made.  A neat little tid bit of history from our little villa.

Our purpose today was not only to show the boys a bit of the history of the town, some of the founding fathers names and such.  They were particularly affected by the number of children that are in there.  That lead to an interesting discussion of why these children all died so young.  And a good lesson on how vaccinations have made childhood deaths fewer and further between nowdays.  Maestro is at the age and understanding of the fact that these children were just like him and his brother.  We talked about how one family lost 3 children in less then a month, and we hypothesized about what could have happened to them, why they all died so close together.  The thing I didn't say to him, but passed the prayer along to their mother how sorry I was that she suffered so much loss of all three of them so close together.  I can't imagine how I could go on in the face of that pain.  As she was still alive and died almost 50 years after her children, that's a long time to suffer such sadness.  But, I suppose they accepted that it happened to a lot of people then, but I still don't know how you could ever recover from that pain.

I also particularly like to look at the artwork on the headstones.  I attended a really fascinating talk about 4 years ago on what all the particular symbols mean that were carved into the stone.  We noticed today some peculiar ones that I've not seen before but want to look up to see what they mean.  In addition to lots of urns, willow trees and faces with wings, we saw some hearts with diamonds in them (some right side up, some upside down) along with some coffin shapes that were also either upside down or right side up and some celtic type designs.  I don't know why I'm so fascinated with old cemeteries, but I am. 

The other reason we wanted to take the boys into the old plot is that there is a letterbox hidden there.  For those of you that may not be familiar with letterboxing, it's a fun activity whereby you get a clue from the website, follow the directions on the clue until you find the box containing a stamp and journal someone has hidden.  Each person or family have their own stamp which you bring with you along with your own journal.  When you open the letterbox, you stamp your journal with their stamp and their journal with your stamp and write a little something in it such as the date, weather or anything else you might find fun to jot down.  Then in our journal we write where we found it, the date and any fun memories that happen to accompany the day and hunt for the box.  Then, you place everything back in the box and re-hide it in the same spot for the next "hunter" to find.  It's so much fun, and a completely family friendly activity.  Though it's by no means relegated to families.  I know a number of grown ups and retirees a like that enjoy it.  It gets you to places you'd perhaps never see otherwise.  We've been to many neat places, some of them miles in on a trail, or at a harbor or lighthouse.  My favorite, by far, however is the cemetery boxes.  And when I find the clue on line for one, I always save it for autumn.  Something about wandering around a cemetary in the crunching leaves looking for a mysterious box it's super fun for me.  And the kids really enjoy it, too.

Autumn is proving to be on it's way for sure. Letter boxing, fall and cemeteries go together like pumpkin spice tea, smores and fall campfires.  If you've not heard of letterboxing before or are interested in a simpler style entertainment every member of your family can enjoy, check out .  It teaches the kids lots about how to follow direction with the adventure of the stamp as a reward.  Fun time, free time and especially great as an autumn activity.

Wishing you stamps and cemetery adventures of your own, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Today was tomato sauce day!  I taught some friends of mine how to can sauce a couple of weekends ago.  That was fun!  I had not canned sauce in over three years, the last batch I made, I froze. So, I had forgotten that the lemon juice was necessary!  When you freeze, you don't need to worry about the acidity level.  But with water bath canning, it's imperative...if you'd rather not get botulism anyway.  After I had finished showing them how to make (oh, they taught me how wonderful an immersion blender works for this process!) and can the sauce, I took them home and reopened the jars, reheated the sauce, resterilized jars, added  the lemon juice and then reprocessed them!  I can tell you that I won't make that mistake again, lesson learned.

I still needed more sauce for the winter, so I asked my friends if they could get me 20 pounds of tomatoes from their source.  I have the impulse to ask them "Hey, you got my stuff?"  like some drug dealer.  Dealing in licopene and vitamin C, that's my kinda "deal".  See, they run the organic vegetable CSA that I belong to, the one that all those wonderful veggie pictures have come from.  They have connections for organic tomatoes, which I have not been able to find locally.  So, they hooked me up with the 20 pounds and made them a gift for showing them how to can the other batch.  So nice!  I was thrilled to exchange knowledge for produce.  Now, I have 7 pints and 5 half pints (for pizza!) and 1 quart of sauce to help get us through the winter doldrums. Open those jars, pour out the sauce, smell the aroma of basil and oregano and the freshest possible tomatoes with the snow falling as the backdrop.  Comfort, right?  That says comfort to me.  And  I think of that each time I open a jar, it's a total experience for me.  And now, I will also have memories of an afternoon of fun, conversation and sharing with dear friends to open when I break that seal on those jars.  Wonderful, truly wonderful. These are the moments that make a life.

Wishing you some basil and oregano comforts for your snowstorms, ~Peacemom

Cooking Like A Madwoman!

This weekend was Little Red's 6th birthday party.  So, Music Man and I spent 2 entire days getting ready for the three hour party.  Funny how that works out. But it was good because it forced us to get the half unpacked stuff all the way unpacked and hang some pictures and basically make it feel like home.  Little Red had a fun birthday party, and it was great to catch up with family again.

I spent the better part of a whole day cooking for this shindig. I made two different types of chili (white and red), corn muffins, chocolate chip coconut cookies and the cake you see above (that's my little cherub himself).  Thank the heavens it was a cool day and that the oven being on for hours didn't bother us!  I enjoyed coming up with what to serve, when to make it, all that good stuff. 

Though, entertaining many people is challenging for me.  I'm no Martha Stewart, but I do my best to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable in our home. That's very important to me, welcomeness and comfort.  We don't have the finest furniture or most up to date anything, but we do hope to always have people be comfortable in our space.  We try to be as resourceful as possible with what we have, and so it's never the finest of anything and often times mismatched or what have you, but if I see smiles on the faces in our rooms and hear laughter of loved ones, that's a successful party to me. 

Do you have a special tradition you like to do for parties or family gatherings?  As the holidays are approaching, I think about those things.  I wonder how other people do things, and am always looking for a cool thing to become a new tradition for our little family, something we make our own that is different then our other family members traditions.  Something the kids will look back on and say, "on Christmas, we always..."  or "For Thanksgiving, we have to do...".  What are some of your traditions?  Do you have something that  you incorporate in your celebrations that is unique to you?  I'd love to hear about it!

Wishing you welcomeness and comfort, too, ~Peacemom

Friday, September 10, 2010

Smells of Fall

As I sit here tonight writing this, the scents of woodsmoke and freshly cut hay are pleasing my nose.  I love the smells of autumn...I love living in the country...and I love that these are once again every day occurrences for me.  Thankful down to my very soul to have a place, a true place, right here.  Yes, this smells like home.

Looking forward to that first Pumpkin Spice tea, ~Peacemom

Fresh from the Farm!

This is today's bounty from NHCSA....Man, I love Fridays!  Today was 2 dinosaur kale bundles (kale chips for date night, my fav!), 1 swiss chard bundle, 4 pattypan squash (so super yummy), 4 jumbo carrots, 3 leeks and a sugar baby watermelon.  Gonna be good eating tonight!

Another bonus, a case of  organic "seconds" tomatoes...20 pounds worth.  I will get about 8 pints of sauce out of those.  They were a gift from my friends that own the CSA in exchange for teaching them how to can tomato sauce. It was a lot of fun, and of course the gift to me being asked to teach them.  That was my honor, they are kindred spirits and I was humbled to be offered the chance to pass along a skill they needed and I could offer.  A life lived in service is a wonderful thing, the chance to feel useful is a blessing unto itself.  The case of tomatoes is just icing on the cake.

Wishing you some autumn harvest bonanza, ~Peacemom

Friday, September 3, 2010

Today, we are waiting...

for Earl and the promise of rain.  It's been WAY too long of a summer, dry as a bone and hot as the dickens and I for one am more then ready to welcome Autumn to my doorstep.  I'm not a summer person anyways, I love the gardening aspect, but other then that I can leave it.  Ten years as a child in Florida just did it for me I guess.  Yes, waiting on Earl and Autumn today.

I'm off to the CSA to pick up this week's offerings...can't wait to see what's in store today!  I got a beautiful sugar baby watermelon last week, along with LOTS of kale and swiss chard...yummy!!  Tomatoes, today, I'm hoping for tomatoes.  And next year, hoping to be picking my own from my own garden again.

Have a great weekend if I don't get back here!  I've got to work on Monday, but if you don't get out and do something fun!

Sweltering too long, ~Peacemom