Holiday Flurries

We are embarking on the first leg of our holiday travels tomorrow.  I feel like there are dozens of tasks nipping at my heels but I’m taking a few moments to sit and chill.  I might call it tonight and just get up early tomorrow to git ‘er done.  Molly has school so I do have a good part of the day to pack, clean out the car and do a few other things.  We are driving down to spend Christmas with my family in Georgia.  That’s a pretty long drive from here so we’re stopping in New Jersey for a short visit with the inlaws and doing most of the driving on Sunday.  It’ll be rough but we can’t stand the thought of boarding Chowder for Christmas and flying with him feels too risky.

Spreading the Love

I got my holiday cards out this week.  I couldn’t believe how many more I had to do this year.  I feel very thankful to know so many lovely people.  I don’t send as much snail mail out as I would like to and I am going to try to change that next year.  It would be a great resolution.

Me and my Cuddle Bug!

Speaking of which, I’ve been mulling over some potential goals for 2013.  One thing that has me more focused on bettering myself is this new app.  My friend, Lindsay, has been working on this since I have known her and it launched in the iTunes store last week.  Very exciting!  You can monitor many different aspects of your life with it.  You let it know the things that are important to you and it will ask you a series of questions that you answer each day.  The algorithm will mold itself more towards your specific mindset as you enter more data over time.  I find that I am much more mindful of certain things if I have to account for them later and so I’ve been trying to nip and tuck undesirable habits in order to be able to record progress.  Some of the things I am hoping to improve are the quality of my meals (how often I eat out, etc) and how much time I spend in front of a screen.  I figured if I just went ahead and started this stuff now instead of waiting for the new year, it would be easier to keep it up.  We shall see!!


The eating out thing isn’t always easy to curb.  Sometimes I get into a serious rut.  I’ve really done well with cooking more often as of late and, of course, I’ve been feeling much better than I was before.  My crockpot has been a lifesaver.  The picture is a white bean and tomato dish based on this recipe.  I canned some tomato sauce a few months ago and it is coming in handy!

Now that we’re all focused for a moment on health and stuff, let’s change the subject to candy!!!

I cannot think of another time of year where my domesticity is at such peak levels.  I didn’t do fruitcakes this year.  I procrastinated and they really do need to sit for longer than they would have been able to by the time I got around to focusing on them.  I had way too many distractions back in early November.  I decided to go with more buckeyes this year.  As long as no one is allergic to peanuts, these guys are a guaranteed crowd pleaser.  I actually ruined my first batch of dipping chocolate last night.  I was using a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water to melt chocolate chips and some of the water got into the bowl.  The entire thing seized up and the game was over until I could go out this morning to get more chocolate.  They were still worth it.

Homemade Candy!

The adorable stamp came from Paper Source

I also reattempted caramels this year.  The December issue of Martha Stewart has a great spread with lots of helpful pictures as to what it should look like during the cooking stages.  I decided to spring on a digital thermometer since I my old one was most likely to blame for the disastrous first attempt that I made a few years ago.  They turned out pretty firm but they melt in your mouth and don’t stick to your teeth.  It was too hard to cut without shattering it so I placed the slab of caramel back in the oven at 170 degrees and let it soften back up a bit so I could cut and wrap them in parchment paper.  It took forever so make sure to set aside the time!


I brought in a slew of goodies for my coworkers today.  We all had a great time exchanging Secret Santa gifts.  I got a Macy’s card and I bought a nifty Barismo t-shirt for my person.  We’re both sort of obsessed.  The new location just opened up in Arlington this week and I’m so glad!  If you’re looking for a last minute gift, their La Loma coffee is exceptionally good.

Remember all of that stuff I said I had to do at the beginning of all of this jibber jabber?  Well, I guess I’d better see if I can get some of it taken care of.

I bought these cards from Black Ink

I bought these cards from Black Ink

From me to you and yours: Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.

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Season of Lights

Ho! Ho! Ho!

A lot of time has passed since my last post.  A lot has happened since my last post.  Most of it chaotic, some of it personal and a great deal is tied in to the holiday season.  These days, if you blink, you miss the sunlight.  The early sunsets and gloomy weather make me thankful that so many religions observe festivals and traditions that are centered around light.

Many of you don’t know this but my Oma took a nasty fall this summer.  She is in her mid-70’s and broke bones in both arms as well as her nose.  She was in the ICU for a few days and spent most of the fall learning how to walk again.  She has completed physical therapy and is going up and down stairs like a champ now.  I’ve been so thankful and proud for her progress.  I remember the first time she called me from home after being released from the hospital.

I’m down but I’m not out, she told me.  We talked about the upcoming holidays.  My Oma has always loved Christmas.  Her home looks right out of a magazine by the time she is done decking the halls.  She told me that she wasn’t about to miss out on her favorite time of year.

Eh ehhhhhhhh, NO!

That’s what she always says when she vehemently disagrees with the idea of something.  Imagine it with a sassy, Creole drawl.  I got choked up on the other end of the phone.  A few months prior, I thought I’d never hear her say that again. I try not to limit counting my blessings only during the holidays but the amazing recovery that my Oma made from that fall was my miracle.  She has been such an inspiration for me.  I come from good stock.

Needless to say, I cannot help but be overcome by the spirit of the season.  As for decking my own halls, my ornamentation is sparse this year.  We’re traveling so I went light.  We’re spending Christmas with my family by way of New Jersey.  We’ll drop in on my inlaws for a night and then continue on the road down to Georgia.  I am sort of looking forward to the trip.  My shopping is almost done and it will soon be time to sit and wrap gifts while watching Love Actually.

Gloomy Harvard Square

I made a conscious effort to shift as much of my shopping as possible this year.  I live in Boston.  We have tons upon oodles of incredible local businesses and artists here.  Anywhere you are, just open your eyes and look past the department stores.  Your local economy is bursting with makers and artists that deserve support.  I spread the love to the Jersey Shore when we were down there last month as well.  I did some doorbusting at Arrow Acres Farm.  I bought several pairs of alpaca socks and gloves for loved ones.  When in doubt, go with alpaca socks.  It’s one of those golden rules of life that I am passing on to you.  My friend, Shannon, and I also attended the tree lighting in Asbury Park.  The boardwalk was mostly spared from major hurricane damage and while the shops were still unable to open, the local shop keepers set up tents inside of the Convention Center.  Lots of folks had the same idea and I was happy to see how packed it was.  I found a great Tillie ornament for my tree.  If you’re looking for gift that gives back, one of my lucky family members is getting this t-shirt for Christmas.

Taza Chocolate Wheels

Back to the Boston area!  LOTS of loved ones are getting chocolate this year.  I work right up the road from a chocolate factory so this was a must!  Taza has an incredible cinnamon and orange blend wheel for the holidays and it is to die for!

I made an online order from Porcelain and Stone’s Etsy page. She’s from Cambridge and her jewelry is perfect for the ocean lover on your list.  The item arrived today and I couldn’t be more pleased!!  I will give it with pride!

Molly and her cousin, Christian, are both getting some gifts from Newbury Comics.  They are 11 and 13 so that place is chock full of loot for their age group.  Sign up for their mailing list because they have the occasional killer sale.

Black Ink, Boston location

I wish that I could say the same thing about Black Ink.  This is one of my absolute favorite local shops.  You won’t find better stocking stuffers anywhere else.  They will even can your gift.

No holiday shopping is complete in this house without a trip to at least one book store.  I really enjoy both Harvard Square and Porter Square books.  I got Shannon the Simon Winchester book, Skulls.  I gave it to her already so I can talk about it!  :-) It’s a fascinating compendium of images that focus on the collection of Alan Dudley.  Over 300 animal skulls!  There’s even an app!

The remainder of my gifts will be of the homemade variety.  That’s for another post.

Shopping for the holidays can be overwhelming.  I understand the frustration but I’m thankful to have such a wonderful collective of people in my life.  Material things are far from the most important part of the season but these tokens of affection are from the heart and I can’t wait to give them out!  These next few weeks are bursting with events and parties and I’m trying to spread out thin so I can hit as many as possible.  A Holiday Fiesta at Taza, caroling in Inman Square, a Pretty Things historical beer tasting, the Clover holiday party and Lady Kielbasia’s Holiday Spectacular.  Matt is a regular and I can’t miss this!  :-)

I hope that amid all of the Christmas chaos, you are finding joy, love and light.

Happy 12/12/12!  (It’s nerdy but I have the highest respect for numbers.)

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Through the Storm

I am guilty, when referring to a messy space, of saying that it “looks like a hurricane went through here”.  Molly can testify to this.  When I see everything that has happened with my family and our loved ones in the affected areas, physically and emotionally, the expression rings with deadly accuracy.

I did NOT take this pic. I’ve seen it floating around on FB this past week. I can’t find my own shot of it that I took last summer!  It’s on the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

I called the Garden State “home” for 6 years.   My husband, along with most of his friends and family, was born and raised there.  It always struck me how so many people we knew had spent their entire lives in New Jersey.  When I was growing up, I felt that very few people I knew had spent most of their lives in Alabama.  Since Huntsville employs many researchers and engineers, most families relocate there for work.  Growing up in the south is more of a unifying label among my friends and family then having done so specifically in Alabama.

New Jersey is different.  Remember how we all felt when they made that horrible Smurfs movie?  My sense of nostalgia felt violated!   Millions of childhood memories were ripped apart and swept away this past week.  The Shore, for many, has been a timeless relic that they shared with their families and friends playing in the sand, eating fried dough, working summer jobs and, for many, even getting married.  It is a part of the fabric of the soul of just about everyone I have ever met who grew up there.   To see the aftermath of the winds and flooding  has been heartbreaking for so many.  It is equally humbling to see these people pull together to heal and rebuild.  Strangers reaching out to house strangers, to help feed and clothe them.  I know people who still are without electricity, but definitely not without power.  Seeing pictures of the wreckage has been hard but we’re comforted and thankful for the fact that all of our friends and loved ones are safe.

As for us…

We were lucky up here in the Boston area.  There were times that I feared the winds would rip our roof off but, for the most part, we escaped the fury of the storm with minimal damage.  Stormy conditions and debris closed the schools down for two days but the lights barely flickered.

Halloween came and went.  Most of my NJ friends took their kids out for Halloween this past weekend.  Molly and her friends went out and terrorized the neighborhood.  I felt like the holiday was lower key than usual.

I chaperoned a field trip to Battleship Cove down in Fall River.  This was much cooler than I was expecting it to be.  My dad is a WW2 buff and he would have loved it.  You get to go through a submarine and, of course, a battleship.  The ship had a full bakery!  Going down into the sub was really incredible.  Especially when you realize how long the soldiers spent in there (while under water!).

from The Boston Globe

Yesterday, Aerosmith put on a free show out in Allston.  The set up a stage in front of the apartment building where they used to live, many decades and albums ago.  Megan went with me and the crowd was so enormous, we couldn’t see the band at all.  We could hear them loud and clear and, I have to say, they sounded great!  It was awesome hearing Back in the Saddle and Sweet Emotion ringing through the streets of Boston.

Part of the reason they were putting on the show was to put the spotlight on Election Day and the importance of voting.  The polls close at 8 pm here in MA.  There’s still time…..

If you’re still in the mood to make your voice heard,  here is a link to take part in voting in the Dig This of 2012.  The food and drink categories are listed and you can pick your favorites.  I didn’t have a horse in every race so I left some blank.  I did get some ideas for new places to try out.  If you want a few more suggestions, here are Boston Magazine’s 50 best restaurants.

I hope this post finds everyone in good spirits.  For those of you who were affected by the storm, I hope you and yours are healing and able to remain strong and hopeful.

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She’s a Biggun

East Coasters, I hope you’re all taking proper precautions for Hurricane Sandy, this storm is massive.

– They are closing the MBTA at 2:00 this afternoon.  Good luck to all of you who have to get home from work.

– There is lots of information and links on Mayor Tom Menino’s Twitter.

– More Twitter: City of Boston and Somerville

–’s official Hurricane Preparedness website.  Does it get more official than this?  Okay, here’s FEMA too.

– Have pets?  Here are some helpful prep tips plus, some useful advice for when the storm hits.

– Can I steal power from my car if my electric goes out?

Feed your family during a storm related power outage.  Here’s another good article.  It takes reader suggestions into account so there is a nice bundle of ideas.

– I saw this article on Yahoo! today and thought it had some useful tips for riding out the storm.  Great tips on perishable food.

111 indoor activities to keep your kids busy during nasty weather.

– In the path of a major storm?  There’s an app for that!

State by state rundown.  If you have internetz, here’s another weather link.  Want webcams?  Okay!  Here’s one perched on top of the Statue of Liberty.

– I keep putting off ordering this bad boy but I did it today!  I’ll be more prepared for the NEXT round of serious weather.  I do have a radio and batteries.  Here’s another article on ways to prepare to ride out a serious storm.

Meanwhile, we’re chilling at home.  They closed down the schools so Molly and I have been here.  I have some warm soup in the crock pot and we have a few cases of water and stuff to make pb&j sammiches if we lose power.  My phone is charged and I’m trying not to be too nervous.  We moved some supplies downstairs into my landlord’s basement apartment.  She lives in Greece so she isn’t down there right now.  We have the key and decided it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to have a plan of action.

Stay safe, everyone!

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Something Wicked Awesome This Way Comes

Fall is here, in case you haven’t noticed.  I strolled through the graveyard near my house last weekend and caught some lovely color.  I’m glad I didn’t delay doing this because it really seemed to peak that day and a lot of the brilliance has already vanished as this week has passed.  As quickly as it serenades, it, all too soon, begins to fade.

No one is really talking about the hurricane but we’re all thinking about it.  We’re experiencing a smackerel of warmish weather.  It really has been gorgeous outside these past few days.  We’ve been making the most of this beloved season: decorating, bundling up with fluffy layers and making soup.

I’ve been a veggie roasting machine these past few weeks.  Most of them have come from our CSA share which, sadly, ended this past week.  I’ve thrown multiple soups together for now and later.  There are some freezer bags of stock as well as a few completed soups that are ready to thaw and serve.

I scored a bumper crop of green tomatoes.  I asked around for some tricks to turn them red and I decided to put them into paper bags along with fresh apples since they give off something that encourages this to happen.  Sure enough, it did work!  I lost some to rot but I ended up with more than I expected to.  I roasted them, removed the skin and blended them with roasted peppers and garlic.

I canned almost a dozen 6 oz. jars of sauce and gave a few away to some friends.  I kept a few for us as well.  It’s a great base for pasta sauce (add some fresh basil, salt and pepper), enchilada sauce (add some cocoa and chili powder) or just add salt and pepper and you have some great tomato soup.

The Halloween Spirit has definitely possessed Molly and I.  Her party went really well.  The unseasonably warm night (mid 60’s) last Friday made it easy to let the girls take over the garage.  I put out pizza, snacks and bottled sodas.  Each guest (we had about 10 girls in there at one point!) received a goodie bag with a fake ‘stache, PopRocks, stickers, a glow stick and a pencil.  Nothing fancy but everyone had a great time.  I lined up the back wall with some cardboard.  I left out some markers and crayons so they could draw all over it.  That went over really well.  Molly is going to a different party tonight.  She’s a scary clown for Halloween this year.  She doesn’t have the mask on in the pic.

There’s a lot of great stuff happening this weekend.  Tomorrow, I am planning on going to the Day of the Dead event at Taza.  They city of Somerville is throwing a big party with graveyard ghost tours and people carving giant pumpkins with chainsaws.  We’ll definitely try to catch some of that action.  They’re having a scary costume contest at SOWA and this will be the last market of the season.  I’m tempted to go to this as well but I’m not sure if I’ll make it over.  There’s even more great stuff happening on Halloween.  Since it’s on a school/work night, I’ll probably be a fuddy duddy and bow out.  I will be dressing up as David Bowie for the big day at work.  This will be my third year in a row dressing up as him for an event.  What can I say?  It’s fun to be the White Duke for a day each year!

Last Wednesday, two of my friends and I went to the Junot Diaz reading at Porter Square books.  I may or may not have arrived 4 hours early in order to secure good seats….  At least it paid off!  We were second row and only about 6 feet away from him!  He did a brief reading and we had a powerful Q&A session with him.  He was so warm and approachable.  Considering how fast his star has risen, he’s still very humble.  His New Jersey accent was adorable.  I didn’t notice it this much the first time we met.  Speaking of which, he absolutely remembered me when we met again at the signing.  He immediately gave me a kiss on the cheek which lit me up for days.  I’m still glowing, actually.  He is doing several more events in the Boston area including the Book Festival this weekend.  If you have the chance to see him speak, go.  It was incredible to share space with such a brilliant mind.

I hope that everyone reading this has a lovely and safe remainder of October.  Hoping for the best for those of us in the path of the storm.

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Feel the Love

I feel that I rarely make posts that involve happenings on a more personal level.  Places, events, eateries…I am all over that stuff.

Here is a post about feelings and sharing, mmmkay?

I think that I am (hopefully) well defined by what I love.  That is what I choose as the focus of my blog.  I try my best not to be a h8er.  It happens to the best of us but why waste precious time and energy by dwelling on that stuff?

As I approach the 35 years old mark, I’ve realized that those things are, truly, my most precious assets.  I’ve been shocked at how little energy I am able to muster at the end of the day compared to when I was younger.  I was able to function the day after the Antibalas concert on 2.5 hours of sleep and I was so thrilled with myself.  I get up at 5:30 am most days so it’s rare for me to be out past my bedtime (which, nowadays, is about 9:30).  Yup, I’m not 21 anymore.

So, what do I love as of late?

– I mentioned Antibalas.  I’m obsessed.  I listen to lots of bands with bad ass horn sections.  I adore retro soul/funk.  Daptone Records is a huge favorite.  I am also a classic rock junkie.  I enjoy going to see live music.  There is a new music venue opening in Harvard Square called The Sinclair.  They have an impressive line up of shows and I have Martha Wainwright tickets already!  This will be my fourth time seeing her.

– I can’t get enough Barismo coffee.  I’ve never been one to drink much of it but, in the past few months, I’ve been drinking as many as two cups per week.  To top it off, they’re not even decaf!  Chris and I walk to Barismo almost every weekend.  I’m thrilled that they’re taking over the spot a few doors down from where they are because it’s slightly bigger and since there’s a bathroom, there will be seating.

Geez, decaf and early bedtimes.  I do sound like a little old lady!

– I can add to that list by saying that I really like the humble diner near my house.  Nothing fancy.  No hipsters.  The words local, organic or seasonal appear nowhere on the menu.  I love the AM radio station that they always have on.  I also enjoy their pancakes.  I can easily walk there from our place and I dig how in tune with my community that I feel.

– I really love Junot Diaz.  Just this week, he won the McArthur Genius Fellowship grant so, evidently, I am not the only one.  True story: He came in to where I work one day.  I recognized him pretty quickly and had a bit of a fangirl moment when he confirmed who he was.  I believe my exact words were: Oh my GOD! It IS you!!!  I really admire his work.  His nonfiction is as gripping as his fiction.  He has inspired me for years as a writer.  How could I not flip out a bit upon meeting him?  He was cool and gracious which only makes me love him more.  He has a new book and, unfortunately, I’ve missed his local readings but there are a few more coming up and I plan on being there, for sure!  I joked with some of my friends that it may have been for the best that I missed his first few events because if I’d gone to as many as I wanted to initially, he may have thought he had a serious stalker on his hands!

– I am enjoying the fall and everything that comes with it.  The foliage makes me practically giddy and it’s only just beginning to burst with color.  Hot chai with half and half, cozy layers and alpaca socks.  What could be better?  I decided to let Molly have a party with a few of her friends.  We both love Halloween.  I’ve been busting out some flair for work.  Some bright eye makeup and socks.  I’ll be going in full costumes starting next week.  I’ve been strongly encouraged by the CEO of Clover to step it up so I’d better bring it!  That’s another thing about me, I rarely hesitate to make a fool of myself.  I’m not a very serious person.

– I get really excited by the new wave of trucks.  Food and retail trucks are all over the city!  I love working on a truck and I am always excited to check out some of the other mobile offerings around town.  Boston just celebrated Fashion Week.  A slew of retail trucks were parked at City Hall.  I really like the Fashion Truck so I was thrilled to see that she has some good company.  Lola’s Urban Vintage, Sneakerbox, Brkfst Club and ARTichoke were all parked by the Government Center T stop yesterday.  I picked up the nifty shirt in the picture above from ARTichoke.  It’s a really sweet truck!  Their postcard/coupon has Dusty Springfield (LOVE her!) and Frank Zappa so I took it as a sign to buy something.  Chris is currently obsessing over Frank Zappa.  Do you have any idea how many YouTube videos I’ve had to watch while listening to my husband profess how brilliant of a guitarist he was?

– Last, but not least, I love that HONK! has finally returned this weekend!!!  I was out at Johnny D’s last night for the kick off show.  We will be heading out shortly to watch some of the 35 different bands play in Davis Square today.  This event is not to be missed!

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.

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Falling with Style

In the last few months, I did my best to prepare myself for what I knew would be a difficult transition.  I have few fond memories of middle school other than meeting my life long friend, Laura.  I was the new kid that year and I was terrified.  I did my best to prevent myself from projecting those emotions onto my own daughter as she started her own journey into the sixth grade but I know I did not always succeed.

Molly is lucky in that she already had friends when she walked through that door a few weeks ago.  It is a huge relief to know that someone has your back.  I knew these past few weeks would be stressful for all of us and while I wasn’t successful in fully preparing myself for it, at least we made it through!  We’ve been navigating some activities for Molly to participate in.  We’re thrilled for her to be a part of her fife and drum corp and she has some musical talent so she is going to start learning clarinet this fall.  She’s part of a gardening club on Tuesdays and she takes a baking class on Thursdays for the next few months.  The days are getting shorter and it’s important to us for her to have some fun things to do to keep her occupied.  It’s very easy to get restless and depressed when the sun sets before 5:00.

I’ve been making an effort to get out more often and do things for myself as well.  Last week, I went to the Paradise Rock Club with some friends to see Antibalas.  It was a helluva show, folks!  JP’s own Debo Band opened for them and I will be keeping an eye out for their next local show because they were also amazing!  My friend, Jesse, took this awesome footage of Antibalas.  It does a good job of capturing the spirit of the show.  This is the same band that played on Broadway during Fela!  I missed that show when it came to Boston so I was thrilled to be able to catch these guys.  The above shot was taken on my way home from Jesse’s gig with his own band at the Middle East in Cambridge.  I’m a sucker for a great horn section and these guys (Malabar) did not let me down.  They were worth taking the T home past midnight.  They have another show there on October 28th and if you have a pulse, you will probably enjoy these guys so stop in!

Another item on the local Must See! list is the Ori Gersht exhibit at the MFA.  Right before school started, I took Molly and a few of her girlfriends to the museum and we were all struck by the double edged brutality that the photographs and short films managed to achieve.  Gersht’s work is deeply rooted in the potent strifes of war and he skillfully captures those ghosts through breathtaking metaphors and deceptive loveliness.  This exhibit alone is worth traveling to Boston for.  We’re fortunate to have it here.

Speaking of our fair city, the 2012 Best of Boston magazine issue hit the stands about a month back.  I was happy to see Saus and Mei Mei Street Kitchen among the winners.  I love both of those places and when I saw that Mei Mei was parked right across from Saus last Monday, I decided to take Molly and Tenzin out for lunch.  And yes, my meal was Double Awesome.

Poached eggs with Vermont cheddar sandwiched between scallion pancakes.  This truck deserves every last bit of attention it gets.  I had the ramp bread pudding a few months ago and it was also delicious.  The folks are friendly and everyone is clearly having a blast.  Check out the website for their parking schedule.

I treated the girls to a big basket of Saus frittes and let them choose a few of their signature sauces to dip in.  My favorites are the cheddar Duvel and the truffle ketchup.  Don’t miss out on the waffle with salted caramel sauce.  FYI: If you’re too full from your meal, these guys heat up really well in the oven.  Just ask them to package them to go with the sauce in a container!

Many of the trees are already frosted with bright color as September comes to a close.  We had a quiet 6th anniversary (he got me those flowers) and we celebrated Chris’ 36th birthday.  Two days before that, our little nephew, Wade, was born.  We are, sadly, in the final weeks of our CSA share from Lindentree.  We got so much for our initial down payment.  The experience of getting to know the wonderful farmers who grew our produce not to mention the thrill of stepping outside of my comfort zone and learning to cook some new things.  This celery root is a prime example.  I’m hoping to be able to score a winter share somewhere.   I hear Red Fire has a good one.

Although the shorter days are tedious, I’d be lying to say that I’m not looking forward to everything the next few months will bring.  Fall is to New England like baguettes are to Paris.  Sure, you can experience it elsewhere but it truly shines here.  HONK! 2012 is less than two weeks away and I’ve already got my Halloween decorations up!  Chris will be whipping out apple dumplings in no time!

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