Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today's Task: Yogurt

Hello All,

I've decided to not dwell too much on recent miseries and mistakes and move forward.  It does none of us any good to think about what almost was or could have been.  Apparently, life does not allow for those things to be achieved for me. I guess I'm not quite accepting, but just deciding to move forward.  Someone else will get a really great barn out of all our work, but we had a big hand in saving the 110+ year old structure.  We'll take some solice with that, I guess.  The focus for us at the moment is finding Music Man a new job.

That being said, we spent so much time all through the fall working on the barn we were to buy that most of my weekend and spare time was spent with that task.  I did not get to do the things in the autumn season that make me happiest and I definitely did not make time for as much home cooking as I'm accustomed to doing.  So, today I decided to put myself to that task again.  And as we've got a stomach bug rolling through our house, I thought I'd make some yogurt from scratch to boost up our beneficial bacteria levels.  Probiotics rule.

We start this whole process with the farm fresh milk we get from our friends who run our meat and milk CSA, Field To Fork Farm.  Now, they also used to provide us with eggs, but I'm so happy to report that the girls are still laying well even with the shorter days.  We're not getting as many as during high sun, but they average about 3 eggs per day between the 5 of them, so I've nothing to complain about there.  It's probably helping that our weather has been fairly warm for this time of year, as well. 

This is how we get our milk every Sunday, two gallons, freshly milked...and yes, that is cream on the top, see the difference in color?  It makes the MOST delicious whipped cream ever!

I should mention also that I use a yogurt maker now.  If you've been reading me for a bit, you know I've done this using just a cooler and warm water, and it did work, but sometimes the "cooking gadget" is so worth it.  Kind of like the Kitchen Aid mixer I was not sure I wanted.  I was given one by a friend who had one that was his mother's and she no longer needed it.  I use it all the time and love it.  I'm not opposed to the 21st century implements when they are useful to me.  I really do find the yogurt maker such a great tool. I get to make fresh, organic yogurt, which I control the sugar content and additives of and it's so much tastier then anything you will find in the store!

So, the first step to yogurt, after making sure all your instruments are scrupulously clean, is to heat 42 ounces of milk to 180 degrees in a sauce pan.  Use a deep one, because the milk will rise up the side of the pan as it's heating.
Then, shut the heat off, remove the pan from the hot burner and let cook to 110 degrees.  I use a wooden spoon to skim the skin off that forms on top.  If you leave it and mix it back in, it won't hurt you or anything, it just makes small lumps in the yogurt.

After the yogurt has cooled to 110 degrees, take 6 ounces of unsweetened, plain yogurt and whisk into the milk.  You can also use yogurt starter, which you can buy in most health food stores or online. I've never needed it and either a jar of yogurt from my last batch or a 6 ounce cup of Stonyfield organic does me just fine.  Whisk that until smooth and well incorporated.  It's at this point you can add some flavoring if you like.  I actually prefer to do it just before serving this way, if one of the family doesn't want strawberry jam from the summer harvest,why we can just do a little maple syrup for them. Or, just plain, which is how I like it myself.  It's also helpful not to flavor if you're cooking with it.

After adding flavoring or leaving as is, you pour them into the individual serving dishes that come with the yogurt maker.  I love these, they are just the right serving size at about 7 ounces each. 
After this is done, place the 7 jars in the maker, place the lid on, set your timer and push the start button.  It's that easy!  In 9 hours I will have some of the tastiest "medicine" for our tummy troubles going and you can't beat the nutrition level either.  Good stuff! 
You can set the timer for different time periods depending on the type of yogurt you want. I like the richer, creamier Greek style, so I put mine in for 9 hours.  If you prefer the looser, more table type yogurt, you can choose 7 hours.  If you like it more like yogurt cheese, you'd leave it for 10 or so hours. I think this yogurt maker cost me about $42.00 and I've more then made that back in the homemade yogurt and health benefits from making my own.  If you're a yogurt lover like I am, and you've the means to pick one of these up (I got mine at King Arthur Flour's website) I highly recommend you take the plunge. I promise, you won't be disappointed! 

Reconnecting to my skills, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I came across this picture today while searching for something in a long forgotten place.  This is Little Red when he was about 2 1/2 at the beach.  I LOVE this picture of him, he's so cute it makes my heart ache.  I remember when he was this sweet.  And was just beginning to speak.  He was a late talker and was in speech therapy as a little guy.  I still firmly believe he was just not ready to talk yet because once he did, he never stopped.  And still hasn't.  This child chatters constantly.  If he's not chattering to his brother, he's talking to himself or singing or whistling.  There is always noise eminating from his being.
Just thought I'd share a wonderful memory with you today.  I'm looking forward to beach weather again.

Waves and gulls to you, ~Peacemom

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with peace.  2012 has to be better then 2011, so we're looking forward.

Nollaig Shona Daoibh, Feliz Navidad, Joyeaux Noel, Fröhliche Weihnachten and Merry Christmas to you all....

From our little hockey players to yours, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Moving On

Well, I'll give the jist of what happened here and then I'm gonna move on.  Last Wednesday, 3 days before the company party where he would have received a nice Christmas bonus for a job he felt very worthwhile, 2 weeks from FINALLY closing on our farm, and three weeks before Christmas, my husband along with 1/2 the engineering staff in his company, was laid off.  Again.  They sent his job to China. 

So, not only is he back to looking for another job and feeling quite defeated in the latest round of "it's just business", but we lost the farm.  No one gives you a mortgage if you don't have a job.  Almost 5 months of work for everyone involved and now that dream will belong to someone else.

And the worst part of it all was telling our sons that they weren't going to get that big, wonderful, sunny bedroom or really cool barn.  Their room here is basically not a whole lot larger then a walk in closet.  After all the hours, days and months we spent working on that barn, we're all crushed.  Perhaps so many hurdles in the way along the whole process should have taught us not to keep trying, but we're not quiters.  At least until someone quits on us.

Goodbye Grace Note Farm, we're beyond sad to see you go.

Still grieving it all, ~Peacemom

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's Over

There's something I've had too many opportunities in my life to discover and am going through it again now.  The stages of grief  are not actually stages.  They cycle, you see.  You will experience the anger, sadness, fear and acceptance in waves as you're working through your grief.  Yesterday was anger and fear, today is sadness and acceptance, tomorrow will be another wave and for the months, and indeed years, the cycle will continue, gradually lessening over time.

The real tragedy in my mind and soul is that after a while, you have to shut yourself down to emotions all together, even the good ones because you can't mentally handle the disappointment, fear, anger and sadness of it all.  You try to force yourself right into acceptance, because anything else is just too painful.  But the side affect of that is that you also don't allow the joy, happiness and contentment in, mostly because it's been my experience that they are dangerous places to dwell and will indeed pass.  It is safer just not to feel things.

We've had a big blow here this week, I promise, once I'm able, I will talk about it.  For now, this is the thoughts in my head.  I implore you, please be thankful for what you have that's stable in your life, stability is a great place to reside.

Riding the wave, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Little Archers

This was my oldest's birthday gift this year.  A compound bow.  Now, those of you that really know me, and know that I am a pacifist to the core may be surprised that I'm buying Maestro such a gift.  It really is beyond the scope of comfort for some, and I completely understand that point of view.  It took a lot of soul searching for me to get to the point to arming my kids.  But, perhaps if I explain my reasoning, you'll feel more comfortable, too.

As I grew up in a household that did not believe in hunting, it took me quite some time as an adult to come to the place where I am not only comfortable with the concept, but welcome it.  See, I got my first taste of venison cooked right and there was no looking back.   Being that I'm an omnivore, I felt it was not hypocritical of me to embrace hunting.  And the way I've come to see it is this.  These animals have lived free range lives, not confined, not "slaughtered".  They have picked at the berries and grass, they have eaten apples from the tree, leaving a path in the frost to the woods and basically lived life in a manner that is inherent to their being.  The way God intended them to live.  Yes, we are killing them to eat them, and this is not something that we take lightly, but they have lived in a way that honors their very spirit.  And let's face it, in the scheme of things, at least when they are killed in the wild, they have a fairly good chance of escaping that arrow or bullet all together.

(Let me just say first that I LOVE the tongue sticking out in this picture, he gets that trait from his Dad who does the same when he's really concentrating on something).  Being all that as it is, and me having two boys that are, well, boys, we decided it better to control their exposure to weapons.  Our boys are not allowed to "play guns", they don't shoot at each other with Nerf guns, they don't pretend to kill each other in any way. It is not allowed.  But, they do have what seems to be an inate curiosity about guns and weapons in general.  Because we've decided that we'd like our boys to be as self sufficient as possible as they become men, we've also decided that teaching them to be responsible with weapons and conscientous hunters is the best position we can put them in.  Music Man took the state hunter safety course this summer and learned a lot. So, when 4-H sponsored a shooting/archery sports instruction series, we enrolled Maestro.  Little Red is a year too young to participate, but if the funding is there for this course next year, he will be enrolled as well.  Maestro went to his first lesson last Saturday and had a great time and learned a lot.  It's a very worthwhile program, it runs every other Saturday morning from 8:30-12:00 at the Rod 'n Gun club here in town if you're local and interested. 
Because he's a little brother and, well, that's what little brothers do, Little Red needed to try out the new bow.  Now, there are a couple of things that inhibit him in this process, one that he's left handed and the bow is set up for a rightie, and the other is that he's not yet strong enough to pull the cord back far enough on his own to actually shoot the arrow.  A little help from Dad was needed.  I love his face in this picture, too.  He has just released the arrow and that's the expression that remained.

I also need to explain that the boys are never allowed to use these without either Mom or Dad being present.  They are off limits without supervision.  We're also contemplating getting Maestro a BB gun for Christmas for some target practice.  He was shooting .22's in class, so we think it will be a good intro for home.  I know all of you that know me can't believe I'm letting even a BB gun into my home.  Things changed when we decided to get more self sufficient, my mind set has evolved. 

Wishing you little marksman of your own, ~Peacemom

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Carrot Haul

This was the last of the carrot haul from the garden.  Normally, I would leave them in the ground, but in anticipation of moving, we decided to pull them and store them in the fridge instead.  Gonna be a ginger carrot soup in our future!  I've already harvested this amount of carrots, together with these,  from a patch of garden that was about 1' x 3'.  That's really productive for a such a small space!
I prefer to leave them in the ground and harvest them all winter, just put a nice deep layer of leaves on top and they won't freeze.  The longer they are in the cold ground, the sweeter carrots get.  These are very sweet indeed!

On another note, so weird to have the boys out in short sleeves on Nov 20th in NH.  Very discomforting, really.

Wishing you winter stores of your own, ~Peacemom

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Capris & Mucks

I know you Farm Girls are going to get why this is cool.  I discovered a few days ago that I can still wear my capri pants with my Muck "Chore" boots.  They are the perfect length to stay out of the way of these awesomely awesome boots for chores.
That is all for now.  Carry on.

Only time for fun brevity today,  ~Peacemom

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Little Teaser....

Remember wasn't so long ago, but feels like an eternity to us...this was our little barn to be.
Oh, so many people told us we were nuts.  What were we thinking?

And, we'll agree it was, well, scary indeed. 
But then, our faith and lots of hard work on the part of everyone involved started to give it a glimmer of life.

The men doing the roof did some serious balancing acts, I admired their comfort and bravery at such heights.

We started to feel like it was not all for nothing.  We had a vision and believed it could come to life...the ol' behemoth WAS going to be resurrected.

And here we are mere days from getting a closing date, we knew it could be done. All the hours and money that has gone into saving her was all so worth it when we see from whence we began.  It's not quite done yet, but it's got such a great start. 

We can't wait to hear music rebounding off the beams and posts and friends and family gathered around to celebrate the saving of this little piece of humble American history. 

Our deepest and heartfelt thanks to our friends that have done so much to help, Gary, Laura and the Paul family, Julianna and the Dunwoody children for entertaining ours while we worked.  A labor of love for many, and our hearts will never forget the love shown to us by these people.  So much more was gained in this whole endeavor then just a house and barn needing attention, a home is being made and love has grown and we could never repay their selfless kindness.  Stay tuned for more to come...Soon, it will be our homestead and we can't wait.

Realizing the dream,  ~Peacemom

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So Saddened

I got the call from my sister last week.  She said my mother had just called her to tell her...then she said "I can't say it".  I asked "Is he gone?".  She answered sadly, "yes".  And so started the tears for both of us.  The man that I still consider my brother in law, even though technically, he's my ex-brother-in-law, lost his battle to cancer on Oct. 26th.  He and my sister did not make happy husband and wife, but they remained best friends even after they divorced, raising an amazing daughter together.  My sister has remarried to a great guy, but my ex brother in law never left our family, being embraced by my current brother in law and acting as a second dad to their daughter.   He attended many family functions and gatherings with the rest of us.  He has been in my life for 31 years-that's a very long time when you're only 43.

He was an amazing person, giving, loving and filled with grace.  I will dearly miss him and shed so many tears over the loss of him in the past week I'm still surprised there are any left when they unexpectedly fall.  His wake was really a wonderful testament to his life, so many people came to honor him and say goodbye to such a grace filled spirit. Each knowing him in their own way, all loving him and filled with great stories of times spent with him.  His daughter, filled with sorrow and her own grace, paid wonderful tribute to him at his funeral. There was not a dry eye in the place.  He was such a great father to her, she was incredibly lucky to have had someone so supportive, warm, loving and kind.  And did I mention he also had a fabulous sense of humor?  He had a laugh that was very distinctive and fun.  Music Man said at one point when we were gathered at my sister's home after the wake, that he could hear his voice and laugh in the crowd.  I agreed, it's just the kind of gathering he would have very much embraced, all of us together enjoying each other's company.

So, I find a hole in my life, that I didn't even realize before now, that he filled.  I will never forget the man he was, the member of our family he remained and his bravery in the face of a horrible disease.   Grant, I will miss you for the rest of my days, and I will try to live more in your spirit-enjoying life to the fullest whenever possible.  Godspeed to you, my friend, brother and inspiration.  No, I will never forget you. 

Prayers to our departed, ~Peacemom

Monday, October 24, 2011


Hi All,

Feeling quite disheartened today.  Life's been throwing me some deep doo for the pile lately.  House purchase is dragging along, so frustrating and we're beginning to wonder if all these hurdles we keep encountering with this place are a bigger sign of why NOT to buy it.  Deep and total frustration has replaced any excitement we had about owning this place.  It will make someone a great home, we're just not quite sure it's going to be us.  Music Man and I are completely and totally mentally and physically exhausted with the long 5 month process we've already been through.  We have spent every weekend there working on this house for a month now, invested money into it, and we don't own it yet.  All trying to get it to the point where the only type of loan we can get for it, a rehab loan, will let it qualify.  Our amazing realtor, who is also our dear friend, has been just unbelievable in his time, expertise, hard work and patience. He's been the leader of the renovations and knee deep in all the dirt with us, dirty hands, sore muscles and all.   He's living proof to us that God works through people in our lives when we most need them.  We could never repay him for his efforts and are feeling badly that, if this house falls through, he will have done it for nothing.  Except as we all have brought the barn, that was so badly falling down, to saving.  That piece of history will live on, and whether we own it or not, we can say we had a hand in saving it.  That's a cool thing.

A call from my sister on Saturday night informed me that a person very dear to our family is in the final stages of terminal cancer and was given a week to live.  There's not really words to express how this is affecting my heart and phsyche at this point in time.   I feel so badly for him, but also for his daughter and son and all the people who care as deeply for him as I do.  He is a wonderful, kind, brave man who has done a lot for a lot of people and I can't really process the fact that he's really going. He's been in my life and family since I was 12 years old.  He's rallied against this horrible disease in the last year, went through some painful and, let's face it, crappy experimental chemo that allowed us to have him for a bit longer then we would have otherwise.  But, now he's really going and I'm not able to process this.  The pit to sorrow is too deep for me to allow it in right now, I know it will come soon.

So, things are tough right now at the Casa de Peaceable Kingdom.  Drawing from faith, friends and family right now to keep leaning forward. 


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scarecrows and such

Our town started a new activity last year.  The Historical Society thought it would be a great idea to do a scarecrow fund raiser.  They sell the head for a fee and then the person buying it comes up with a clever scarecrow to house the noggin.  Last year, they sold out of the 50 they had made. This year, they sold out of the 100 they made and there's already a list for next year.  Pretty cool idea, I thought, and money raised for a great cause.  Enjoy some of the fun antics we have going on around town, won't you?
Josh, the pizza chef and butcher extrodinaire at your local general store.

The EMT outside of the fire station and ambulance service.

That's one GIANT spider at the Brown's house!

you can't see in this picture, but boy to the right is playing Super Mario on a fake tv, the little girl in front is walking their dog, Mom's harvested the garden in the back, not sure what Dad's up to...

At a local beekeepers house...

At the oldest resident's home, she's got got the Boston Post Cane this year and is 94!

Headless Horseman indeed!  We'll miss the person who used to ride up and down the street on Halloween night dressed at the headless horsemen with her bay horse, they moved to Tennessee this year.

an ode to the snow lovers...

A local artists home, pretty neat and it's rained a bunch since this was taken and the painting looks the same!...

At a retired shepherd's home...

Where we get our hunting licenses and deer cutting station...

Their daughter is an adult ballet dancer...

And Maestro's favorite, a Patriots fan watching tv with his big bowl of snacks, soda and magic 8 ball...

If I get a chance to get out and take more pictures, I'll add to this, there are 100 of them around town, after all! 

Scarecrow adventures to you, ~Peacemom

Friday, October 14, 2011

A bit of a teaser, I know...

This is a picture of our future barn...I realize it's a bit of a teaser for any of you following the plight of this ol' behemoth.  I can't go into it much right now for reasons I will explain at a later date, but this was the state of the barn about a week or so ago.  Sad.  Downright pitiful, I know.  Stay tuned for things to come...

Sorry to keep you waiting...~Peacemom

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In Pursuit of The Lurker

On Friday evening, Music Man and I were sitting in our sunroom (our very favorite room in the house).  It was dusk and so the colors were black and skylight.  Distinguishing actual colors other then that were not possible, so twilight you see.  From the chair I call mine in that room, I could see under the chicken coop, which is on a hill.  So sometimes I see animals there, traveling back and forth in the field beyond.  I happened to be looking underneath the coop at just the moment I saw a smallish black form moving across the grass beyond.  I excitedly exclaimed to Music Man "I just saw an animal moving behind the coop!" 

He bolted out the door and went to look around.  I paused to put on my shoes, so he had a minute or so head start.  He was still looking around when I got up the hill with him and he told me he didn't see anything.  It was hard to see much as the colors had faded and the sky had gone, what I like to call "Maxfield Parish".  Maxfield Parish painted the most amazing artwork using the colors of the twilight sky, black tree forms on a golden and blue backdrop.  Just that time of night when you concentrate only on the forms of things before darkness settles over.

I told Music Man I felt like the back was humped up like a raccoon does when it walks, with scurrying steps.  I caught that in the very quick moment it was silhouetted black against the sky beyond. As we were walking back towards the house through our apple trees, Music Man spotted a black lump in one of the trees that just didn't belong, noticable in the twilight beyond.  Figuring it was the animal we were in pursuit of, he excitedly whispered to me, "There it is!  See, in the tree!"  So, we got a little closer, but it was not possible to distinguish just what this lurker was, except that the tail that I could see in the silhouette was definitely not raccoon.  Music Man ran to the house for a flashlight and my camera and rushing back, he shined the light on it.  At first it was not possible to tell what it was, it was still as can be trying to hide from us.  Then the flashlight hit it just right and Music Man could spot the quills.  Yes, we had a very handsome porcupine hanging out in our tree!

I had seen some apples with strange gnawings on them.  We have a large squirrel and chipmunk population around here, so I figured it was one of those.  Then, I got a load of the teeth on this beauty, you can see them in the picture above (the yellow spot near the lowest branch on the right) if you look closely...I then knew what had been gnoshing on our apples!  We went into the house to get the boys to come and check it out, we were literally 10 feet from this guy, who honestly seemed totally unphased by our presence and appeared to just want to go to sleep.  The boys were astonished, and Maestro said to me as we walked back to the house, "Wow, Mom, I never expected to end my day today with a porcupine!  That's one good day!".  Yep, that's just one of the reasons we live in the country, and are so happy that our boys seem to be getting the reverence for nature that we have.  A good way to end a night indeed.

Wishing you quills in your apples, ~Peacemom

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lamb & Pumpkin Quesadilla With Cilantro Sour Cream

My oh my...this was possibly the best quesadilla I've ever tasted!  I can't take credit for this recipe, it was from Cooking Close To Home by Diane Imrie & Richard Jarmusz.  I borrowed this book from the library in my quest for local eating recipes.  The authors live in Vermont, so I thought it would be a good bet that I could find one or two inspirational recipes.  I was not disappointed!

This recipe called for lamb, and after two trips to the grocery store and unable to find it locally, I used ground hamburger instead.  The other substitution I used was parsley instead of cilantro (as those of you who have graced me with your readership know, I very much dislike cilantro).  I also added shredded carrot, because, well, we all like them, I thought the flavor would compliment the pumpkin and I had them in the garden ready to be harvested.  I was looking for a pumpkin recipe as I got one at the CSA last week and wanted to try something with pumpkin that was not sweet.  This is a recipe I will make again, it's being added to my "bag of tricks" as it was a quick and nutritious meal to put together on a work night.  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!

Lamb &  Pumpkin Quesadilla with Cilantro Sour Cream
Serves 6

1 tsp olive oil
8 oz ground lamb (or ground beef)
1/4 c onion, chopped
2 tsp fresh garlic, chopped
1 1/4 c raw pumpkin, shredded
3 Tbl fresh cilantro (or parsley, as I used)
2 Tbl water
1/4 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper (I used chili powder as I didn't have chipotle pepper)
1/8 tsp salt
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
6 six-inch whole wheat tortillas (or corn, which we preferred)
(I added  1/2 cup shredded carrots to the mix also)
Oil for pan

1 cup sour cream
2 Tbl fresh cilantro (or parsley)
1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice (my addition, yummy)

1.  Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil, ground meat, onion and garlic, and saute until fully cooked.  Stir to crumble lamb as it is cooking.

2.  Add the pumpkin, cilantro, water, chipotle pepper (carrots if using) and salt, and saute for 3 to 5 minutes until pumpkin is tender but still holds it's shape.

3.  Remove from heat.  Place the meat mixture in a bowl and add cheddar cheese.

4.  Lay out the tortillas and divide the filling equally between them.

5.  Spread filling in one half and fold over to form a half moon.

6.  Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and lightly oil.  Place the filled tortillas in pan and cook about two minutes on each side.

7.  In a small bowl mix together the sour cream and cilantro (and lime juice if using).

8.  Cut each tortilla into three triangles and serve with sour cream on the side.

So yummy!  The pumpkin is delicious without being overbearing in flavor and I loved using it as savory instead of sweet in a recipe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Still, No Verdict

I know, it looks perfectly horrifying.  This is the barn that is on the house we are buying.   But, if you'll notice, the topline on the roof is straight as can be, no sagging, the hefty post & beam frame is mostly solid.  We have a contractor that has agreed to do the roof and structural issues for the modest budget we have available to us.  Our plan was to start with that, get it buttoned up as much as possible and then do the siding and such as we had the funds.  Then, the appraiser put a hitch in that plan today.

Apparently, we're going to need to have the siding done and stained as well as the front of the barn (shown above) repainted as well...before closing.  There is NOTHING as frustrating in home purchasing as dealing with the federal government to obtain the loan.  The hoops you must jump through, the paperwork that has to be submitted, the rules and red tape are the most annoying process in obtaining a mortgage as possible.  And we thought we had the ol' girl saved.  Now, not so sure, really not sure at all.  

After Music Man being unemployed for 14 months before obtaining this last job, we don't have unlimited funds to accomplish all that needs to be done.  So, now we are back to whether the barn stays or goes.  I'm beginning to mourn it as this piece of American history may, yet again, be on the chopping block.  We want so badly to save it, but as I told the old structure today, "Yer not making this easy!".

And that is without even knowing what is and isn't going to be required to be done in the house itself.  We're in a waiting pattern now (yet again!) to get the appraisal report and the underwriters requirements back, probably a week or so from now.  Closing date?   A very distant future.  Sure could use a little good news today.

As frustrated as possible, ~Peacemom

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can You Smell IT?

I woke up this morning, and autumn struck me.  There's a special smell to the air when it's becoming autumn...clearer, crisper, chillier...I dug out wool socks yesterday and smiled as I pulled them on to sit in our wonderful sun porch and have hot tea, with toasty toes.  It was not iced tea that I reached for as I have all summer, but wanted to hold the mug in my hand to feel it's warmth, to inhale the vanilla goodness, see the steam rising.  Flannel, wool socks and hot tea, perfect comfort are these.

Now, anyone that knows me, or if you've been following my blog for a time know I am totally obsessed with the Fall Equinox season.  There is something very interesting that happens to me during this time of the year.  I don't know how or why, because certainly in this day and age we've got all modern conveniences that basically totally negate this visceral reaction that I have to the cooler temps, the color of leaves changing, the need for another blanket on the bed.  The ingrained sense is's time to get the hunkering down started.  I have a drive to make sure there's wood split, the shelves in the pantry are full of canned goods, the sweaters and wool socks should be in good working order or mended if need be, the fall comforter needs to be hung on the line and freshened up.  All these things harken back to a more basic time, don't they?  But, they honestly do exist in my nature, the drive is there and starting up with full force. 

As I woke this morning to work in total darkness, I noticed that first light didn't arrive in the sky until about 5:50.  At the height of summer, it began getting light about 4:10 in the morning, so oh yes,  the days are definitely shorter.  That's sometimes a bit tough for me being the morning person that I am, I'm ready to go with first light usually.  But when first light doesn't come until almost 6:00am, and I've got to be up at 4:45 to start work...that's a tough one some mornings.  My internal clock pushes out too, and suddenly I should have been up earlier and now it's 5:30, messes up the whole flow of my day.  I don't use an alarm clock, I've got one in my brain.  It takes a little time to adjust to the fact that  I need to get up in the dark rather then the light.  And I've been doing this for over 40 years, you think I would have the hang of it by now!

 I do so love waking to a chilly house in the morning.  It's not yet the cold of winter, it's the feeling of cozy-the feeling of wanting to pull the blanket up close to my ears and rest for just a few more minutes.  That chill when it's not yet time to turn on the furnace, but time to just put on a layer or two.  Cozy is just the right word for that feeling.  And I know I'm in full autumn swing when I reach for the hot tea mug and make that the first beverage break of the morning.  In summer, I have iced tea going all the time, in fact I drink about 2 quarts a day (unsweetened, I don't muss it up with sugar or anything else), but fall/winter/spring it's hot tea all the way.  I'm not a hot weather worshipper, in fact, as you probably know, I really, really dislike being hot.  I much prefer the need to add layers of cozy clothes and blankets then get to the summer heat where there's just so much I can take off an not freak out my neighbors.

This week's autumn preparation will include harvesting the copious apples on the trees in our current yard.  They are spotty, funky in shape and multicolored, but taste great.  So, I'll be saucing and for the first time trying my hand at canning my own apple juice.  My boys prefer it and I figure if I can stop buying the organic kind in the plastic bottles for a while and have a few gallons preserved for them for winter, that's a win-win all the way. 

Wood smoke on the air this morning...can you smell it too?

Wishing you apples and wool socks of your own, ~Peacemom

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come On Irene

Well, we're getting ready for the hurricane to hit us tomorrow.  After the 6 day power outage when the last one hit, well, I gotta say, I'm not psyched for this one at all.  We also have a basement that requires two sump pumps, which in turn requires power, and well, if we get as much rain as we're forecasted to get...We seriously need to get a generator, it's becoming more and more necessary here in New England.  The weather is so unpredictable these days, it's disconcerting to say the least.  Perhaps in our new house, we'll try to figure out something smaller solar so that at least we can power the absolute necessary on days when the power goes out.  We do have a well pump, sump pumps that need to run, a furnace when that's needed and a freezer full of hundreds of dollars worth of our hard-gotten food.  Yes, we need some alternative form of power for those harsh days.

I just went out to the garden to harvest the last of the tomatoes.  Some of them are still green, but they will ripen off the vine, so it's all good.  We're forecast for up to 70mph gusts and I'm thinking the delicate romas, which barely cling to the vine as it is, will be scattered to the four winds if I leave them out there.  So, today will be some prep for me for this storm.  I'm going to clean the chicken coop out well (I do it at least once a month anyways when they are spending most of their days outside), but since they'll be trapped in there all day tomorrow, I figured I would make it nice and cozy for them to weather out the storm.  I just hope they don't pig pile in a corner and crush each other like one of the other severe thunderstorms we had.  Just praying that the coop will stay put and they will be okay.  I'll be glad to get them more permanently attached to the building at the new house.

Speaking of new house...things are slowly rolling along.  We had one last crew come out to check on whether they could get the barn done for our modest budget.  That's 5 contractors that have come out now.  One could do it for our budget, but not until February (it's got to be done before closing, no options there because of the mortgage company requirements), the other 3 said nope, can't do it for that price.  Then my realtor found a crew of 3 guys who are qualified and hungry and said they could do it for the allotted cash.  Their written proposal should be coming in to the sellers today, so we'll be making the final decision on the barn by the end of the weekend.  We're running out of time so we've got to get the decision made now.   I never thought one old barn could cause so much worry and stress. 

Our realtor, who is also a very good friend of our family's, has been utterly and completely AMAZING through this entire process.  He's renovated old homes, barns and carriage sheds and his knowledge has been a God-send.  And he's been there for us 150% of the way through this whole process.  Just amazing.  We've had other realtors that were horrible in the buying and selling of past homes, he is by far and away , the best.  We are blessed to have him on the journey with us, someone is looking out for us with his guiding hand for sure. 

So, I'll update more on the progress with the house as time goes on. Today is the septic inspection, another check written out for more inspections and such.  We've got an appraisal to schedule as well, which will be another large check, and we've paid for the home inspection already also.  I find it so amazing (and truthfully absurd) the amount of money you have to pay out before you even sign on the dotted line, then all the closing costs and then proceed to hand them the hard earned down payment.  Wow, oh wow, thousands and thousands of dollars before you even get to the down payment.

Well, if the power's out, I may not be back for a bit.  Hopefully in the pleasantness of summer it wouldn't take the power crews as long to get it back on, but depends on the tree damage I guess.  Stay safe everyone! 

Riding out the storm, ~Peacemom 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Much Hope

This is the south side of the barn on the house we are buying.  It's got warts...great big ones. Unfortunately, after two structural engineers looked at it along with countless contractors, it appears there's not much hope of saving it.  It has seen 110 years in it's long and productive life. 

It's a true post and beam, not the bolted kind that just uses the bolts and brackets, but the real deal.  Most of the beams are in phenomenal shape for a barn of this age and life, all it's lines are clean and square.  But somewhere along the way, an owner allowed large holes to form in the roof and years of water damage have sent some of these beams to need to be replaced or reinforced.  That's before the new rafters, sub roof and roofing need to go on.  This barn is quite large, and the roof alone is cost prohibitive, but needing structural work is beyond our means.  It's very savable, but not for us financially.  As it's been for sale for over a year, no one else seems to want to tackle it. We're so incredibly sad to be having to make this decision.  It's a true piece of American history, and certainly one we're sure our little agricultural town would love to see saved.  We wanted to make it into a space where friends and musicians could gather and enjoy music together in a wondeful atmosphere, something Music Man has always wanted.  And a dream I really want to help him realize.

Short of a miracle windfall, we don't see how it's possible to save it.

Very sad today, ~Peacemom