Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ocean at Autumn

This past weekend, we took our annual four day trip to Freeport, Maine to camp in the autumn splendor.  It's my favorite time of year to camp for many reasons, but the best of all...and you New England campers know what I'm talking about here...NO BUGS!  A few of the other bonuses are few people to compete for quiet with, beautiful scenery, migrating geese heard overhead, the campfire is much more necessary for warmth and the ghost stories by firelight can start earlier as the darkness falls sooner.  We had a glorious time together with 4 days of uninterrupted family time.  It is never lost on me that we have precious few years of this time together.
I called a few days before leaving to reserve a site.  This time of year there is little competition for the sites, so I usually wait to be sure it's going to be decent weather before taking the plunge.  Once the reservation is made at that late date, there aren't any refunds.  We have a site that we've always stayed in, Site 6, it's kind of a tradition for us.  I was happy when I called that it was available and made the reservation.  The helpful woman in the office explained that no one would be there in the office this time of year on the weekend, but we should just settle in and if we need anything to call the number on the office sign.  Yep, much more laid back this time of year!  When we arrived, we found someone else already happily set up in Site 6 with no one around.  I was not happy as this was the site I reserved for a reason, it was our tradition, and I was upset that these people would just move into a site that was ours.  Then I read the sign on the office door and our site was listed as available.  GRRRRRR...the woman in the office neglected to check to see if our site was indeed available and put it in on the list anyways.  I called and though she apologized profusely, there wasn't much we could do but take a new site.  The folks who set up there did it in good faith, they had no way of knowing it was indeed reserved and we weren't going to kick them out.  So, reluctantly, we chose the site next to it, Site 8.  The site is pictured above, and in the end worked out better for us then 6 did, with a nice area behind the camper for the table and fire pit.  Sometimes, you have to get over yourself and being disappointed and just take what life gives you.  This is a lesson that has been pressed into my being over and over the past year, since losing the barn we were so in love with.
Do you ever wonder how you could need SO much stuff for a few days away from home?  It's unreal the amount of packing and all that goes into a few days camping, makes you realize what you could live without if you needed to, that's for sure.
These were our neighbors for the time we were at the campground, which is surrounding a working farm.  We like to call these little chubbsters Oreo Cows, or Whoopie Pie Cows but their really Belted Galloways, a breed native to Scotland.  Little Red especially loved a heifer with the number tag "707" on it's ear, fuzzy and cute.  It's one of our favorite parts of the experience, the farm itself.  Being country and farm folks, we feel right at home there.
We spent a lot of time just exploring the shoreline and tidepools left by the receding tide.  Little Red is especially fascinated by all things nature, so he reveled in this unspoiled, unrushed time to just poke and explore.  This is the best homeschooling I can offer them.  They can read about a tide pool in a book, but how can they know the sensations of cold Atlantic water in the fall, seaweed swirling around their hands as they reach for a mussel or periwinkle to examine unless they are there, putting their hands in that actual water?  How do they learn the ebb and flow if the tide unless seeing it come and go in it's natural way?  Though I'm a firm believer in book learning too, there are many things you can't learn from a book, or from watching some ap on your Ipod.  You have to get out in the world and explore, feel, smell and taste it.
We let periwinkles sit on our hands and dance their dances, leaving trails of water along our hands as they moved.  It was a fun experience for us all, and we all named our pets periwinkles until we returned them to the sea.  There were definitely clam beds surrounding us as well, which we could see evidenced in the broken shells that were in ever crevice of the rocks.
We explored tide pools for fish and seaweed, noting the different types that were growing in the different areas of the tidal region.
Another highlight of the trip was harvesting periwinkles to eat!  I had read in a book years ago about a couple that have a place on Mt. Desert Island and they would harvest their food out of the ocean.  One of their delicacies was periwinkle stew.  So, I researched online to see how to cook them and we were all willing to give them a try.  They were actually quite good!  You just boil them for 3 minutes, and pull them out of the shells using toothpicks and plop them in your mouth.  They would probably be good dipped in butter as well, but we are a family that enjoys fresh seafood sans butter, so it was good for us this way.  And, we lacked the ingredients to make the stew, but I promised the boys we would do that someday as well.
Winks harvested and awaiting rinse before the hot boil.
After cooking, they are ready for the toothpick challenge.
Maestro enjoying the first wink, it was decided then that they were actually delicious!  I LOVE this kid's willingness to try anything, my true adventurer.
There were many other wonderful parts of our trip that included a nice meal at Gritty's, a wonderful stroll around LL Bean and the new Bow Street Market, Wicked Whoopies, a movie night for us in the camper watching "Casper", the boys first taste of true freedom as we allowed them to bike ride all over the, all but deserted, campground (with a walkie-talkie in hand so we could keep tabs) without us accompanying them.  We had wonderful memories made and none of us wanted to leave.  And with views like this, who could blame us?
Thank you, Freeport, we thoroughly enjoyed being there and came home refreshed and renewed.  Just what this little family needed.
Wishing you periwinkles and campfires of your own, ~Peacemom

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Autumn Tea Continued

Ah, a lovely table set for lovely ladies...I couldn't wait for them to arrive!

I've made the house festive, the crock pot in the corner has spiced apple cider brewing, making the house smell heavenly!

At last!  My sister and her daughters have arrived!  Left to right is Katelyn, Deanna and Emily.  Mugs in hand and ready for some delicious chili and corn muffins and a variety of beverage options including chai tea, the spiced cider and hot cocoa...with homemade marshmallows!  The dessert was a wonderful pumpkin cobbler that my sister makes (it's kind of a tradition now) topped with homemade cinnamon custard ice cream mixed by Music Man.  It was OUT of this world!

After a delicious lunch, we decided to go to the cemetery to search for any relatives of one of my other nieces who's family could not attend.  Her family got their start here in our little town directly from Ireland, and we were hoping to find any ancestors.  Alas, after searching the grounds, we did not find any.  However, our town pond and a road in town bear her last name, so they were definitely here, I've got to research harder.  The cemetery stroll was lots of fun just the same!

This is my nieces hugging one of the huge ancient trees in the cemetery. So lovely, these!

Immediately upon our arrival, this cat made his presence known. He was a VERY friendly cat and escorted us all through the cemetery as we searched and read the tombstones.  It made me wonder if he was an apparition or really there...
Both of my nieces are truly cat people, and I think this kitty knew that.   He sure was friendly!
This old watcher didn't seem too amused by that kitty!

Such beautiful color, peeking its head to be seen!  We heard the traffic on the highway from folks visiting NH for the weekend from Mass and points south was insurmountable!  But..we did not have to worry about that at all during our respite time together.
On our way out of the cemetery, we bid adieu to this gentleman...the scarecrows are back up in town, more on that in another post!   But...this is the one that Music Man and Little Red's scout den put up in the center of town, our little scout camping and roasting a marshmallow...
We headed home and started our craft project.  I thought this leaf mobile would be a fun idea...Katelyn wasn't amused with it as it was hard to thread the beads on the string (which was a bit too thick!).  But, I think they came out pretty well in the end!  We each made our own variation of it and they were festive when completed!
Afterward, we enjoyed the cobbler and ice cream...
And then we packed up for our goodbyes...I think a fun time was had by all!  I know I certainly cherish the time together laughing and eating good food and just bonding and communing with other females that are dear to me.

What Autumn tradition would you like to start or what do you to welcome in the season?  These ladies are a key part of it for me!

Wishing you traditions of your own, ~Peacemom

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A little Autumn Tea Perhaps?

Each year, I try to have an afternoon tea for the ladies in my family.  For the past couple of teas, my oldest sister and her daughters have not been able to make it.  Sigh...but it is a wonderful tradition we've established.  Living in a house full of males, it's a bit of a special time for me to reconnect to some female energy, and I really enjoy doing it.  I make it a special thing.  I spiff the house up, we have a home cooked lunch, everyone brings a treat for dessert to share and we make a small autumn inspired craft project.  Of course, while enjoying, tea, cocoa and warm spiced cider.  We've been known to stroll through the local cemetery as well!  This is an activity that my sister and her girls enjoy doing, too, so it's fun for us all.

A bummer to this day for me is the absence of my dear mother.  She has some concerns with traveling, it's hard on her physically.   Yesterday, this beautiful autumn flower arrangement arrived at my door, with a note from her to all of us to let us know she is here in spirit if not body.  We love you, too, Mom and we'll be thinking of you.  I was very touched to have gotten those flowers, they truly brought a tear to my eye and happiness to my soul.

Remember to make some special family time for your loved ones.  Join in however you are able, make memories and maintain family bonds.  In this life of go, go, go! it's a good idea to put all that aside every once in a great while to just enjoy each other at a slower pace,  After all, it's what makes life worth living.

Looking forward to tomorrow, I'll post pictures for ya, ~Peacemom

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Juuuusst in case you were wondering where I've been or what I've been up to...this should answer your questions.  Preservation continues this week with fruit!  I've canned 9 quarts of pears, 9 quarts of sliced apples, 6 quarts of applesauce and 6 pints of apple butter this week.  Still have about 15 pounds of apples left from the 50 I bought recently, and I'm not sure what I will do with those just yet.  I would like to dry some, I think, for addition to granolas this winter.

Again, I am amazed that my grandmother did this for all 6 of her family members for many years.  This is the first year I've tried to get as much put by as possible, and it's been a tremendous amount of work.  But, my whizbang apple peeler sure made the apples much easier!  I've owned it for years, but never really used it much because I thought it took off too much of the apple with the peel, and didn't peel it thoroughly enough.  Well, that's because I didn't have it adjusted correctly!  I found a site online with some suggestions of how to deal with those problems, got 'er all adjusted and bang! had 20 pounds of apples peeled, cored and sliced in no time.  Love that little labor saver!  And probably my favorite part is that it's manually operated.  No power failure can make that stop working, my favorite kind of "appliance".

How about you?  How's your preservation efforts coming along?  Getting your larder stocked up?  Autumn is the time to learn from the squirrels!

Wishing you a store of your own acorns, ~Peacemom