steamy cups of hot tea in the early morning light. sometimes I get the fire going first, sometimes not. usually I plug in the white twinkly lights. it's best when all three are enjoyed at once. I've discovered I quite like dandelion root tea with cream and sometimes a splash of maple syrup. now that it's clear we'll have plenty of syrup to more than see us through until we tap again I've been a bit more liberal with its use.
it's 28 degrees out now and I can hear the wind whooshing around the house and up and down the street, teasing stalwart leaves from their branches and lifting up anything that isn't fastened down. which brings to mind the plastic covering on the beds....... fairly well fastened, I'm quite sure. according to the weather channel the low tonight will dip down to 17 and we've got a 50% chance of snow.
I can't recall a November this consistently cold. the woodpile, though still plentiful, has dwindled a bit over the last couple of weeks. noticeably so. so far November is cold and a bit sharp, but beautiful all the same. the early morning light calls to me to rise early but the biting cold of morning in a home heated by wood (and inhabited by humans who do not rise at night to keep stoking the fire) keeps me burrowed under the covers a while longer. there has been pumpkin pie and a lantern-walk, some reading and working and real efforts by this mama to get sweating. I went for a trail run and, surprisingly, mostly loved it. there is farm school and ballet for the little one. the chickens, despite having extra bedding and food and love (and we've even for the first time ever put a light in their coop on a timer) have been on strike for a few weeks. I pick kale and lettuces and parsley and radishes and carrots from the garden and I bring in some raspberry leaf and comfrey to dry. I see a stray bee now and again on warmer days. papa is home from his trip and so we're back to a household of three. which is nice.
bundle up, hunker down. tis' the season.
a low in the twenties last night, high of thirty-five or so today. it's cold here. the greens are protected under plastic, the wood pile is being visited often, and I had to change out frozen chicken water this morning. it's been a jammies-until-work, sit by the fire all morning drinking tea and reading books kinda morning. our cat, Ziggy, is snuggled up on my bed.
a good sort of morning to have every now and again, I think. or more often, if needed.
papa will be coming back home tomorrow. he promises to bring some bagels from NJ for his little lass who announced she is so, so hungry for bagels. bagels, then. but no venison. and that's just fine.
we girls are talking about making some homemade pumpkin pie tomorrow for his homecoming. there are two big pumpkins on the table and one of them will meet the oven after ballet tomorrow.
we hosted another swap party this weekend. it was the first since last December and it was good to get back to hosting the live-in-person ones after two rounds of blog swaps (this past February and August). those were a ton of fun as well, but obviously lacking in the personal connection and eating-lots-of-food categories. and I can't say that the blog swaps get me to give my house a good deep clean ahead of time, which of course is one of the perks to hosting a gathering.
it was a large-ish swap. we've had anywhere from 8-17 swappers and this time around we had 14 and a nice sized gaggle of little ones running around mostly keeping themselves busy by eating lots of cheese and grapes and running and kicking balls and looking at (um, and handling- there was some of that) the sweet dead titmouse the cat brought in just before the party started.
I've got to say, this particular group of 14 women really got on well with each other and we had a blast. lots of meeting and connecting and chatting about recipes and life and mothering and everything in between. as always, there was an amazing array of goods laid out on the swap tables. a fire inside and out. music. whiskey and cider. though I think I may have been the only one to partake in that. there was a pretty decent spread on the table inside, which I completely neglected to photograph, along with jovial scenes of people hanging out. I even forgot to photograph the lovely cheese and charcuterie boards that Mike was tasked to create and did so beautifully. ah well.
here are some scenes of the making and such beforehand, the food prep, the goods....
the butternut squash soup came out really well- I roasted it beforehand and the sauteed some ginger, onion, and an apple in olive oil. added broth and squash, pureed. added 2 cans full fat coconut milk, a splash of maple syrup, about a cup of cider, and a healthy sized pinch of nutmeg. a little salt. mmm mmmm good. the brussels sprouts were tossed with a mix of maple syrup and olive oil and roasted (as suggested on the tag that came on the stalk of sprouts I bought at Trader Joe's).
there was good, crusty bread. a la the Mother Earth News no-knead dutch oven bread recipe. yumyumyum. I've been eating a lot less wheat and gluten these days, so it was a very tasty treat. particularly when slathered with butter.
the tables were covered with all sorts of edibles, medicines, body butter, scrubs, and salves along with kombucha, plants in hypertufa planters, suet treats for the birds in teacups (!), scarves, play dough, letterpress cards, handmade children's clothing (and the cutest baby booties ever), and more.
afterwards, two swap tables left with just a scattering of labels and such, an almost-done-fire,
and a table left with yummy bits for snacking. (and a girl with a little truck)
at about 3am, papa got up to pack up his car to head up north, north, north to my grandfather's place in the Adirondacks. no one is up there now, so the place has been closed up for the winter, but he's sleeping inside and using an enclosed porch for cooking on the camp stove. there is one kitchen light still working, and one outlet, which I believe he plans to use to alternate powering a very small space heater and a small lamp. he'll be up there most of the week. he's got a pile of books and a lot of warm clothes and plans to try his hand at some hunting. the cabin is across from a lake and the area couldn't be more beautiful. I've not been up since I was 6 months pregnant so I'm a wee bit jealous but mostly thrilled for him to be taking this time, which I choose to believe can't be anything less than restorative and wonderful. he could use that. he'll also be scouting a place for us to (hopefully) build a tiny, tiny cabin of our own up there. think 12 x12 feet, or even less. a place to go for a couple weeks here and there. something with room for a woodstove, a table, a mattress. not much more.
but I digress. Claire and I (on the other hand) slept in and had a slow, easy morning. easy like Sunday morning, you know. I picked at the leftover bits of cake, made us a proper (as in, not cake) breakfast,
and took stock of my own goody pile. voila! love these gatherings. you know I do. I write enough about them. sometimes I wonder if I couldn't come up with a whole book's worth of info about swaps... because if so, I'm there.
I contributed to the swap vanilla extract, elderberry syrup, and chai tea. I took away a starter kombucha, chocolate coconut cookies, deodorant that smells so good I want to eat it, a dried hot chili mix, walnut mustard, cocoa/shea body butter, the sweetest little suet feeder you ever did see, garlic and herb compound butter, pumpkin spice body scrub, and letterpress cards. I was also given some cranberry simple syrup (give me ideas for something yummy to use it in!), wool dryer balls, and some popcorn. and Claire got her own little prize of a handmade lip balm.
the rest of the day we continued to take it easy. we lay on a blanket in the sunshine for a while, fed the chickens, planted and mulched the garlic (finally). we went down to the lake and walked/balance-biked around a couple laps before playing at the playground. and then back home for a simple dinner and a movie. we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. she saw the little icon for it on Netflix a while back and has been asking about it for a while. pretty funny, still.
and that's the weekend~ playing along with Karen.
the morning after Halloween we were greeted by a dusting of snow and still-falling flurries. breakfast looked like this (what I think may be the perfect breakfast, by the way, especially if you added in some garlicky greens) :
(the hard bargaining over nerds at lunchtime? now that I could do without, but since they were part of her few selected candies to keep before handing the rest over to the "candy goblin", well, I was game)
this past week has seen us drying apples, making sauce (the cider is still fermenting and smells, so far, what I think fermenting hard cider ought to smell like so I take that as a positive sign we didn't just waste five gallons of it)
also, a final salsa batch of the year from the last of the tomatillos.
there were some roasted vegetables,
stirring spices for a fragrant apple-raisin chutney,
enjoying Heidi's baked oatmeal again on cool mornings,
and slowly but steadily hauling in a few things here and there from the fall garden~
playing along, a final time, with Heather for her This Week in My Kitchen blog hop
(papa thinks perhaps this picture and the title of the post need some explanation, but I reckon it's kinda self-explanatory. but, in case not: presented with the above 'activity sheet', she turned it into a rattlesnake, which she proceeded to sound out and spell on her own as "RADLSAC". papa helped her with the "N", and thus: "RADLSNAC". but I kinda bet you already knew that - at least the bit about it being a rattlesnake and all.)
because, gosh. she just rocks my world. big time. I am, every day, amazed by her. by her big heart and her precociousness, her humor, and so much more.
it was our first year growing them and I suppose it was fairly successful. we got lots of little ones and a couple large ones. the one next to my foot is the prize-winner (and I wear a size nine). we'll grow these again, I believe. maybe mix some sand into the soil next time. I hear they like that.
today, it snowed. the garden is a different place now. plastic over hoops over two of the beds, beds filled with lettuces and other greens. the rest of the beds are in various states of being 'closed up' for the winter. deep leaf mulch, dead plants here and there.
the garlic almost went in the other day. at least we got all the bulbs separated. any day, now.
let's not even talk about the potted plants I ought to have tended to before the snow. and before the coming 25 degrees tonight. ah well. suppose I should at least reach my hands out and bring in the potted citrus and aloe. and so off I go.