The Woods

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When I was a kid I would wander the woods in back of my grandparent’s house for hours by myself. I’d pretend I lived out there among the hardwoods, the maples and oaks.

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Now, I have two amazing souls to wander with me.

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The sun was shining down on us today as we immersed ourselves in nature.

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For most of the day we meandered through a pine forest.

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We sat by the water.

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We picked pine needles.

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We stopped to notice lichen on bark…

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And patterns left by wood boring insects.

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We ate low bush cranberries.

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And we chatted with chickadees.

Now that we’re home we are enjoying those pine needles we picked and the vitamin C they will provide in a batch of Pine Needle Tea. We also picked newly sprouting black birch branches for Black Birch Tea.

Go wander the woods, it’s good for the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change, the only constant

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Heart-shaped, fluffy white clouds in the blue sky.

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Purple and pink sky in the morning. A sure sign of an oncoming storm.

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Snow can change the landscape dramatically.

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And it sure is fun to play in. Peaking through the hemlock boughs as Ethan prepares to sled down the big hill.

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Have you ever browned butter? If not, you should. Swap out one stick of softened butter with one stick of browned butter and your chocolate chip cookie recipe will be forever changed.

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Do you see what Regan sees?

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Afternoon sun shines on cattails in the frozen ground. My shadow on the bridge.

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Daffodils are emerging from the leaf litter. Change is upon us.

 

New Year

Each year goes by faster than the one before.  Just like everyone else, I’m finding my way.

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We celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. I’ve been on this planet for thirty-five years.

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We finally had some snow. I spy Ethan. Do you?

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This is our bedroom window on a cold winter’s morning.

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I’m in awe of the beauty of this planet. And I’m always looking up.

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It’s nearly February and the geese are still beating their wings and honking.

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I’m rewarded with color.

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And beauty.

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And squirrel tracks.

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Each year we reflect. I love what I see.

 

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. I’m five years old. I’m lying in bed watching the light stream through the vinyl blinds. It’s nighttime but the moon is bright and it’s being reflected off the snow that is blanketing the ground. I’m supposed to be sleeping. I can hear music coming from the other room.

I lift the covers off of me and swing my legs out of bed. I place my feet on the carpet and walk through the dimly lit kitchen and into the living room where I see my mother sitting in the middle of the couch on the very edge of the cushions. On the coffee table in front of her are the two slender red candles we put out weeks before when we were decorating the apartment for Christmas. Tonight, they are lit and I can tell they have been burning for some time because they are half the size they were and there’s wax all over the silver candle holders. It seems like she is waiting for someone. I think it must be Santa.

She tells me to go back to sleep. Santa won’t come if I’m awake. I run back to my room and call for her to tuck me back in but she’s already making her way back to me. She wraps me in blankets and says goodnight.

I toss and turn for what seems like an eternity. I wonder if he will skip my house because I’m still awake. I finally start to doze but then I hear footsteps. I’m lying on my side, my face towards the wall. I hear my door creak open, I see light shine in from the kitchen, I see the shadow of Santa. He tiptoes into my room and as I hold my breath, he places my stocking at the foot of my bed. I want to turn around to see this mysterious person but I know I can’t. I concede to simply watch the shadow on the wall. He retreats.

I gently nudge the stocking with my toes. I hear wrapping paper crinkle inside. I feel as if I just might burst with excitement. I can’t wait to see if he received my letter and brought me the very toys I asked for. I close my eyes and smile. It’s almost Christmas and I almost saw Santa.

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December

Each one of these December mornings I am gently reminded just how many days are left until Christmas.

Today? 4 days!

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Inside, our balsam fir tree is trimmed.

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Outside, it feels more like October.

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There’s time for walks…

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There’s time for practice…

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And there’s always time fore baking…

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These unseasonably clear skies offer us more time outside to enjoy the splendor of December.

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Merry Christmas!

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Today, we celebrate Thomas!

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Today is my husband’s birthday.

We met when I was a freshman in high school. We started living together almost immediately. Thomas and I made a great team back then and now, nineteen birthdays later, we are unstoppable.

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In one of my English classes, we were tasked with writing an essay about an important person in our lives. I wrote about Thomas. I read it aloud and everyone stared. Mr. Loomer said, “Wow, saying one person is your whole life is a big statement.” It was a big statement and it’s still true. Although now, we have a son that shares that spot with him.

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I could go on for days about how amazing he is but instead I will just say Happy Birthday to the funniest, most caring, devoted, and thoughtful husband in the world, who makes me feel adored and as if it’s my birthday every day. Happy Birthday to the greatest, most compassionate, and positive teacher and father to our boy.

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You are my hero and my pillar of strength.

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Thank you for being you.

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November in New England

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It’s November in New England, a very special month for my family. My son’s twelfth birthday is in a few days and the day after that marks sixteen years of marital bliss for Thomas and I. The love I have for these guys is inexplicable, more than I could ever put into words.

November is the month of Thanksgiving and we have so much to be thankful for.

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Queen Anne’s Lace leaves are still poking through the dry and browning leaves.

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Tiny rose hips lend color to the muted landscape.

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A single poplar leaf is bright in contrast to the dirt of a meandering trail.

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The shining sun gives a golden hue to the leaves that are still holding on.

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Autumn is acorn harvest time.

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Chilly nights and rainy mornings call for a fire in the wood-stove.

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Fires in the wood-stove call for a steady supply of fire-wood.

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Sweet treats in the shape of the ever falling oak leaves can be made with the processed harvest of acorns.

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The blue sky and white clouds can now be easily seen through the bare branches of our mighty maple tree.

I am forever thankful for all this life has to offer.

xo Jodi

Orange and Autumn Olive Pancakes

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Autumn Olive (Elaegnus umbellata) is ubiquitous. Right now in New England the branches are heavy with speckled red berries.

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The fruit is tart like a cranberry and what pairs well with cranberries? Orange.

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For us, pancakes always start with flour, salt and baking powder.

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The juice of an orange is combined with milk and added to an egg and a couple tablespoons of melted butter.

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The batter comes together studded with red berries and orange zest.

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This recipe makes four good sized pancakes that are packed with bright flavor.

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Enjoy with a little pure maple syrup.

Orange and Autumn Olive Pancakes

  • Servings: makes 4 pancakes
  • Print

This recipe is easily doubled.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 medium sized orange
  • milk
  • 1/4 cup autumn olive berries

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl combine egg and melted butter. Zest the orange and set aside. Squeeze orange into a 1 cup measuring cup and add milk to make 1 cup of liquid. Pour into egg and butter mixture and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Fold in the berries and the zest.

Pour about a half cup of batter into a cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Cook both sides until lightly browned and serve with pure maple syrup.

 

Pumpkin Walnut Loaf with Chocolate Chips

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October is upon us, which means pumpkin.

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We collect our ingredients in the sun strewn kitchen on this beautiful Sunday morning.

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Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and all spice speckled flour is incorporated into creamed butter and sugar.

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Alternate with pumpkin puree until mixture is smooth and orange in color.

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Chopped walnuts and a healthy dose of chocolate chips are folded into the batter before it is placed into the loaf pan.

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More walnuts are sprinkled over top before it is placed into the warm oven.

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While the loaf is baking, we mix cinnamon and nutmeg into confectioners’ sugar and milk for a decadent glaze.

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Pumpkin Walnut Loaf with Chocolate Chips

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add flour and pumpkin, alternately beginning and ending with flour until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and 3/4 cup walnuts.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the top of the baked loaf.

Slice and enjoy!

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Apple Season

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Here in New England, September is apple picking time.

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Out of all the fruits in this world, I like apples best.

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We chose a sunny day to go to the orchard to pick our share of Macs.

Now, what to make?

My usual would be the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie, always a favorite.

Then there’s the traditional Apple Crisp, you can’t go wrong with that.

Maybe I could turn the apples into Spiced Apple Braid Bread.

I made Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake last week and it was gone in just one day.

If I had some puff pastry in the freezer, I could make a Caramel Apple Tart.

Or I could start the day with a German Apple Pancake!

An easy cake to make: Apple Butterscotch Cake

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Biscuits are easy to make and delicious.

I could go with Oatmeal Apple Cookies but I’m thinking more along the lines of Baked Apple Donuts.

(If you click on a link, it will bring you to the original post, complete with pictures and instructions.)

If you have an apple recipe worth sharing, please leave a comment!

xo Jodi