Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salt Preserving, the February Food in Jars Challenge!

This month's food in jars challenge was a simple and exciting delight! I must admit that this terrified me at first. I slowly warmed up to it and got really excited. When I finally got going - I got three challenges - four recipes - done in under two hours!

The first recipe I made was Salt Preserved Egg Yolks. Having a flock of our own free range chickens this seemed a wonderful opportunity to take our homemade pasta nights to a new level. I used the recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook found here: I chose to use 6 eggs because it fits nicely in a muffin pan. I will update the blog with a new post when they come out of hiding on 2/31.
The process is easy. You separate the eggs. You line what ever container you are using with a half inch of salt (I used sea salt but you can use Kosher as well) and create a divot that you will place your yolk in. Once they are all in, bury them in salt, put them in the refrigerator, and wait one week.

The second recipe I made was Salt Preserved Lemons. I more or less followed the recipe on Food in Jars found here: but being a very visual person, I perused the web for recipes that had more pictures as well. This was another very straight forward process.
Step one, thouroughly wash and scrub your lemons. I wanted to scrub harder since mine seemed rather waxy but didn't want to upset the zest.

Step 2, you cut the nubs off either end of the lemons and then quarter them ALMOST all the way but keep them intact. I did make the mistake of cutting a few all the way apart, but just continued.

Put a good layer of salt on the bottom of your jar and then, holding the lemon over the jar, spread roughly a teaspoon of salt into all the cracks and then pack it into the jar.

Add salt after each layer of lemon. Feel free to use pressure to get them in there because the point is to draw out the juices from the fruit. I used 10 lemons and packed them into Quart Mason jars, about 5 lemons in each.

The jars sit out on the counter for 3 days before moving into the fridge. The goal is to have them covered in juices by the end. Here is my jars after two days. 

I am a little concerned about the salt leaking out of it and the lids not being airtight as a result, but I do not want to go to metal lids and bands because of the corrosion the salt will cause. We will have to see in a day or so. I am HOPING that i can fit them all in one jar before they go in the back of the fridge for three weeks. We will see and I will update with a new post.

The last recipe I made was two herb salts. I thought this was a wonderful way to make rubs for meat and to help stretch those herbs out even longer - whether it is store bought or garden grown - herbs so quickly wilt and rot. I used the following links for encouragement, A Raisin and a Porpoise and The Prairie Homestead. This was very straight forward : combine 1/2 cup salt and your bunch of de-stemmed herbs in a food processor.
This is my cilantro and then rosemary salts laid out after being processed. 

 Lay it out on parchment paper or on a dehydrator shelf, and dehydrate until all the moisture is removed. I used the oven since I don't own a good dehydrator yet (I killed my old one trying to dry out left over tempura fry). I set my oven to 200 degrees and left it in for about 1/2 an hour then I turned the oven off and left it in. (truth be told I had to go out).

The next morning they were thoroughly dried and shelf stable so I  jarred and labeled it.

I look forward to using there on some pork tenderloin or even smoked Trout this spring. Yum! I can't wait to see what the March Challenge will bring - jellies and "shrubs"? Hmm it has me thinking.

Friday, February 10, 2017


These are not my words but they resonate to the deep rumblings inside me. It speaks to the intensity of the reawakened activist in me. It is the fuel that flames the resistance movement. It is the resistance. Thank you Libba



You have woken the witch that lives deep inside me.

You have removed the slumber chains from the giant of old.

You have handed me a box of matches and no chaperone

And a world made of lies and polyester.


You have barked up the wrong bitch.

Proclaim it:

I have shucked off the good, southern lady’s cloak,

Of the homecoming court, the cheerleader,

The preacher’s daughter, hands gentled in her lap.

They tied it at my neck with a bow, a Gordian girl-knot,

When I was young and bossy and sure-footed

“For protection,” they said.

Whose protection? I wondered.


I have sent that shit out to the dry cleaners

I will not pick it up

They can sell it for a profit from a rack on the street.

From now on,

I’m exposing the raw pink edges of my true skin to the sun.

Some things can’t be prettied up.

I used to be embarrassed by this side of me:

Messy. Expansive. Unraveled by rage.

The barroom brawler holding out a broken bottle

With a shaking hand

Blood jumping to a punk-rock soundtrack in my soul

Eyes so alive they had to be narrowed to keep the light of all that truth

From burning up the room.

These mornings when I wake,

I feel as if I have eaten a breakfast of gunpowder and a handful of stars

The combination roiling, anticipatory, explosive

My mouth ready to spew out a universe of fire and

An ancestral memory of the silenced women who came before,

Rotting in their shrouds, long dead under the ground

Still angry.

No one seems to understand:

That rage has to go somewhere.

Some girls cut. Some girls starve.

Some fuck strangers, tell themselves it’s freedom, not numbness.

Some guzzle gin when no one’s looking.

Some girls swallow their rage down and vomit it back up with the

penetration of a reprimanding finger, stifling the voice,

an Inside Job

The internalized, reflexive police force

Body violating body,

Forever and ever


I have done all of those things:

Starved. Cut. Boozed. Fucked and run.

I’ve punished myself the way

the world wants to see its women


Spoiler alert: It’s exhausting.


You exhaust us.


You. Are. Exhausting.

You. And your bullshit.

You, the Senators and Churches.

You, the old men holding the law hostage to your whims.

Blind Justice?

Nah. That bitch sees fine.

Puts the blindfold on herself now.

Stockholm Syndrome, you know.

Happens after a while.

Shrug. Step. Repeat.

Jazz hands.

They told me not to raise my voice.

So I learned to swallow all my sharp words.

They told me not to be disagreeable.

So I learned lipstick and smiling, a catechism of femininity.

They told me I was shame.

So I learned to feel shame.

They told me not to curse.

Yeah. Good luck with that, motherfuckers.

Oh, beautiful for spacious goddamned skies

For “fuck off” and “bite my ass”

Thundering across the parched grasslands of my tongue

Like middle-finger mustangs who won’t be tamed.

Cursing was the first language of my anger.

The poison apple spit out, not choked in.

A weaponized mouth and a sharp wit

To establish a DMZ—“You shall not pass.”

That foul mouth has saved me from myself.

Try to take it from me, motherfucker.

I double-goddamn-dog-dare you.

Oh, my anger needs room to roam.

I will spread my legs on the subway seat

Let it take up space.

I will turn up my coat collar and skulk the streets,

Hands fisted in pockets, knuckles turned towards the world, ready.

Oh, it’s on.

I will call up to my sisters at their windows,

“Yo! Leave the dishes in the sink,

and the pantyhose to drip from the towel bar.

Leave your shame on the floor

So they’ll see it first when they come inside,

Expecting you

but finding you


nothing but a slipped skin, a


To remind them that they were right to fear you

All along.”

Then, soft as a lover:

“Come out into the streets, all you messy ones.

All you angry, hurting, had-enough ones.

It’s time.

Come on out. Come out.”

I have awakened to reclaim that girl.

The one refusing the cloak at her throat.

I am an angry woman with a voice

And a foul mouth

And a pen as cutting

as the jagged teeth of a bottle

that has been broken too hard against the bar

and is now a weapon

in a barroom brawl.

Your move.

Come at me, motherfuckers.

Monday, January 9, 2017

I made Marmalade! Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for 2017

Yesterday I completed my first challenge for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for 2017, a monthly skill based challenge for people interested in expanding our knowledge and skills in canning and preserving foods.

Here is the calendar for the 2017 Challenge:

Calendar of Preserving Skills
January – Marmalade
February – Salt Preserving
March – Jelly
April – Quick Pickles
May – Cold Pack Preserving
June – Jam
July – Hot Pack Preserving
August – Low Temperature Pasteurization
September – Fruit Butter
October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning
November – Fermentation
December – Fruit Pastes

I had never made Marmalade before yesterday and while it was a lot of work I can say I am a new fan! Looking at the calendar I can say that February's challenge with salt preserving slightly terrifies me, cold and hot pack preserving I have never heard of,  I'm fascinated to learn what low temperature pasteurization is, and  I will definitely need some tools and supplies for fermentation. Needless to say, I am stoked about opportunities that this Challenge will create.

I should start by saying that I found so much serendipity in the facts that a) My husband brought home Cara Cara oranges from snow making without knowing that I had a Marmalade challenge and b) Of all my canning books with Marmalade recipes, only Marisa's book Food in Jars (of the #fijchallenge) had a Cara Cara recipe. 

Yesterday was a long day in the kitchen as Marmalade takes more work than other recipes for sure!

I thought about how much ginger I needed to peel and realized this could be a long day.

I sat at the counter and got to work, minus about a bazillion kid interruptions. Seriously, no sooner did I send them to the sled hill and set out my mis en place when they were back and asking for food!

Ginger Juice was a first for me!
This is my 'scant' one cup ginger juice!
After that I needed to zest my ten oranges. 
 That's a lot of zest and my hands were tired!
Then I needed to peel and Supreme my oranges. 

While I did that I needed to cook my confetti zest and reserve the water. 

And then it all stated to come together and cook. Look at those beautiful colors!

I couldn't find my candy thermometers anywhere so I had to use a meat thermometer. I asked SP after the fact and he told me that one broke in the drawer and then he broke on making maple syrup. Well if you can see the thermometer well enough, it is well over 220. I also used the saucer test on it and it passed, or so I thought, on the second test. However, my marmalade never really set. 

 I am more than pleased to have my first Christmas 2017 gift put up on January 8th - another first!

Thank you Marisa!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

How to Make Orange Marmalade

I am participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. 

I am looking forward to it. This recipe is from her blog:

  • 1 pound Seville oranges
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  1. Give the oranges a good scrub and place them in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover them with the water and set the pot on the stove over high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and put the lid on the pot.
  2. Simmer the oranges for approximately 45-55 until the rinds are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. At this point, remove the pot from the heat and let the oranges cool completely.
  3. When the oranges are cool, remove them from the pot. Measure out 2 cups of the cooking water and reserve it.
  4. Cut the oranges in half across their mid-section, the way you would a grapefruit. Using a spoon, scoop the interior flesh out into a bowl. Remove the seeds and discard them. Put the seeded pulp into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining halves.
  5. Once all the pulp is in the bowl, turn your attention to the rinds. Cut each half into 4 wedges and then cut those wedges into thin strips. These can also be added to the bowl.
  6. Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 half pint jars.
  7. In a saucepan, combine the reserved cooking water, the orange pulp, the zest ribbons, and sugar. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook at a controlled boil, stirring regularly for 20 to 25 minutes, until the volume in the pot has reduced by about half.
  8. Monitor the temperature of the cooking fruit using an instant read thermometer. The marmalade is done when it reaches 220F. When it reaches that point, remove the pot from the heat.
  9. Funnel the marmalade into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  10. When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

June 9th

The latest garden plant ever.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Porch Fire by Abby

There’s a sort of foggy surrealness in the moments of waking—in that long and clunky brain boot-up when sleep is done (or done-ish).  For me, this sense is heightened when I’m sleeping in a bed that isn’t mine.  That night, I’d slept alone in B’s room, and I’d slept hard.  We’d had a roaring fire the night before, and I’d sat close, baking a particularly ground-glass case of carpal tunnel.  The heat worked wonders for my hand, but it had sapped me dry of energy and put me right to sleep. 

Through the fog, tucked into the middle of a nest of fleece sheets and down comforter, I heard voices—no clue what they were saying.  I’m rarely the first up, so it seemed a normal thing.  Then voices louder—still no coherent words taking shape in my brain.  Footsteps, fast and uneasy.  Sleepy eyes opened and fixed on a blue ceiling and walls.  

WHERE’S EVERYBODY SLEEPING????  I heard Madz through a closed door, totally frantic.

I sat up.

ABBY!!!  I heard Tyler call up the stairs.  Not in a “breakfast is ready” sort of way.  Meaning business.

I bolted out of the bed (fully clothed, praise baby Jeebus) still in a sleep stupor and opened the door.  There was the smell of smoke and a terrified Madz who looked at me and said something to the effect of “get out, the house is on fire.”  I don’t remember what she said exactly, but I knew her meaning before she finished her sentence.

I know I went down the stairs, but I don’t actually remember my feet touching the floor.  I’m a pretty gentle and deliberate mover in my life (though not always graceful), and there’s not a lot that makes me hustle (rogue fireworks, a momma that’s bleeding, a baby that’s not breathing), but I was FAST.  Madz thanked me later for having the presence of mind to shut B’s door and save the room from smoke damage, but I swore that it must have just been the draft of that much ass moving that quickly that sucked the door shut behind me—I don’t remember making that call.

When you hear that a house is on fire, you want more information, but you can’t make the words come.  HOW on fire is it?  I bolted down the stairs not knowing if active flames were taking down walls or if something was just smoldering. When your only other way out of a house is out a second story window, you don’t waste time making use of the one set of stairs.

When I hit the hardwood, my heart was beating so hard all I could hear was the rush of blood through my ears.  There were no flames visible from the living room, but black smoke poured out of the basement door and the fireplace, flowing out the open front door into the cold.  Madz was coming out of her skin and rushed by with a wooden box.  “…putting this in your car!”

My mind raced.  ARE THE KIDS HOME?  No, they were at a sleepover.

WHAT SHOULD I GRAB?  The portrait of Madz’s mom, the other pictures and albums, important papers?

Shane passed me, moving quickly and with purpose.  “Are we grabbing things??” was all I could make come out.  “No, not yet.”

Shane disappeared into the black smoke of the basement.  The power was out, so the stairwell was more like an extinguished dragon’s maw than hallway.  Tyler, Madz and I went out to the front yard.  Madz paced trying not to come out of her skin “…I NEED TO HEAR SIRENS.  WHERE ARE THEY??” 

Shane came out and got the hose.  The smoke was getting worse, pouring out the top of the chimney.  WHERE ARE THEY??

The neighbor Jenny came bolting across the field at some point.  Once she realized that everyone was ok and the kids were gone, she became the patron saint of needful things, running to Dunkin to get coffee and donuts for everyone.

Waiting.  Waiting.

I went back into the house, getting the first taste of just how hard it is to function in smoke.  I walked to the basement stairs and stepped down, eyes burning, onto the first landing.  “SHA….” Cough, gag.  Goddamn it’s hard to yell in smoke.  “SHANE—ARE YOU OK?”

Nothing.  Nothing.  I had a terrifying moment wondering if I could haul a grown man up a set of stairs.   Weak arms, strong AF legs.  Yep, I could do it as long as I could get him hoisted over my back, but damn it wouldn’t be pretty.

“SHANE, ARE YOU OK??”  ………... “YES!”  Thank Christ.  Back outside.

Then, after perhaps the longest five minutes that ever was, came the whole brigade.  Bridgton, Naples, Harrison.  Fire trucks, tank trucks, ambulances, volunteer vehicles.  Sirens blazing.

The to-do of the arrival made a sharp contrast to the first man out of the truck.  Bless him, he didn’t move very fast and had definitely seen younger days.  No one was hustling.  I think they’d received an update (which was no longer valid) that the fire was managed and out.

Shane popped his head out the door.  “We have active flames in here.”  Still, everyone moved like molasses, not hearing him.  “ACTIVE FLAMES!”

Then everyone hopped to, geared up, and went in.  They were pretty amazing.

And then I realized for the first time, standing out by the cars with Tyler, that I was FREEZING.  It was a particularly dreary and cold day, and I was wearing short leggings, a black short-sleeved dress, and patent leather flats.  My coat was in the house, but I did have snow boots in my car, and that helped some.  The fire team asked if we wanted to warm up in the truck, but my need for fresh-air-adrenaline-detox overrode my need to be warm.  Shane gave me a coat once the fire team had taken over.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur.   The verdict from all involved was a rogue electrical fire.  Everything was covered in toxic smoke residue, but the actual fire damage was relatively minimal—a portion of wall and floor, some joists, wiring.

All I could think of was how lucky we were both that Shane was able to manage so much of the fire before the department arrived and that the fire happened when it did.  We were home.  The kids were gone.  It was morning and people were up.  If the fire had happened the next morning at the same time, if it had happened just one day later, the whole house would have burned to the ground while people were at work and at school.  I’d never wish this on anyone, but all things considered, I’d say thank goddess for small favors.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Naked in Flip Flops

This photo was taken two days before the fire.
It began as a lazy Sunday morning as Shane and I snuggled in bed and planned what would be our last Maple syruping (yes that’s a word because I say so) day. I had wanted to sleep in after a late night the night before but fate didn’t have it in the cards. When I finally relinquished my hold on Shane and let him get out of bed, I stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling, and ruminating about what I would wear.

 I became vaguely aware of the sound of Shane going up, or was it down, the basement stairs rather loudly. It occurred to me that I was smelling smoke. It’s odd to smell smoke all the way up in our bedroom. We did have a fire going the night before and the wood stove had to be out by now. Just as this occurred to me, I heard the very loud and very fast pounding of Shane’s feet, distinctly upwards. Within seconds, he reappeared in the bedroom breathlessly telling me to get up, get dressed, and get everyone out of the house because we have a fire.

Instantly I found myself standing stock-still, in the middle of my bedroom, naked wearing flip flops. In my haste I missed some important steps and quickly righted them before leaving my room. I paused at the landing trying to think of who slept where and remembering that my kids were not in the house. In confusion I yelled, “Who slept where!?” to which Bruce hollered, “Abby!” which told me that I needed to open Brennan’s door to wake her. Apparently the shrill of my scream woke her as she had her hand on the doorknob when I opened.

We FLEW down the stairs and exited the house. I am not sure what actually happened in the proper sequence, but there are certain things I know I did. I know I fretted and worried about Shane being down in the basement, of course trying to put the fire out.  I know that I ran back upstairs to retrieve my jewelry box. I know I contemplated throwing a couple of antiques out the window. I know I looked at Bruce’s suitcase oddly half way in and halfway out of the door as I stepped over it. I know I went in to retrieve my computer and charger. I yelled down the basement stairs trying to lure Shane out. I confirmed the status of everyone including the dog, finding them safely out of the house, and then I panicked.

Anxiety filled my body at not knowing how bad the fire was but that my beloved refused to come out of the house. Black smoke poured out of the chimney and windows. I remember begging out loud with tears in my eyes, “Don’t let my house burn down! Please don't let me house burn down!” I realized that I needed to warn the neighbors as well as the friend that had our kids and called them both. All I could do was wait until the fire department arrived. Somewhere in here Shane came up out of the basement, left the house, and returned with a garden hose. He had a plan and was seeing it through and would not leave the house despite my begging.

Waiting is hard and I didn’t like it one bit. I started to hop up and down in place,  repeating the only mantra that seemed to keep me sane, “I need to hear sirens. I need to hear sirens. I need to hear sirens.” Abby suggested that I try yelling instead, which I did, but that failed because it made me feel angry, which I wasn’t. I was just panicking. My phone went off in my hand and I looked to find my friend who works with EMS texting me to ask if everyone was OK, as she heard the call on the scanner. I filled her in on our end of things including that I needed to hear sirens and she assured me they were coming. Our fire had been called in as a structure fire and three towns were coming. I can’t say if I felt relief or not, but I did feel an indescribable sense of comfort from her contact.

Arrive they did, starting with the police, then fire, and then EMS, filling our driveway, our road, and the street beyond. It’s hard to describe the senses and urges I had, but I can say I have never before so strongly wanted to urge someone to run. The firefighters seemed to be walking in slow motion, and the first one to reach the front lawn was old, and really slow. I don’t say that to be mean, I say it because it was surreal. Both Abby and I made the recognition and had a good chuckle over it later. At some point our dear neighbor appeared to take the kids, not knowing they weren’t here. She wonderfully wanted to do something to help so she left, went to Dunkin' Donuts, and brought us coffee and donuts. It was at that point that I realized I hadn’t had anything to drink this morning and was very thirsty so that cup of coffee was quite welcome.  Thank you Jenny!

The rest is a bit of a blur of yellow clad firefighters coming and going, in and out of the front and back of the house.  I am so thankful to so many – Bruce, Abby, Shane, Jenny, Allie, Kelly, Carrye – but especially the Bridgton Fire Department, and what ever other towns were there. Was it Waterford? Naples? I lost count. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A lazy morning saved the day? Guest post by SP


“Hey, where you going?” “I need to get started boiling sap.” “No! Snuggle me!” “But I really have to get started.” “Nooo. Snuggles.” she said emphatically.  Madz was right, snuggling sounded way better than going outside and starting work so I crawled back into bed and we fell back to sleep for a while. Upon waking we snuggled for a while more (we're really good at it) eventually we both decided it was probably time to get this sap boil started. So I got out of bed, dressed quickly, and headed downstairs.  I met Bruce in living room and we both observed it smelled little smoky. I sniffed over by the fireplace to check for a downdraft- nothing.  Upon opening the basement door I noticed smoke in the stairwell and assumed the woodstove it back drafted… Again. I headed grumpily down the stairs. When I flipped the light switch the basement lights didn't come on- that was the first clue that something was wrong. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I looked over at the woodstove but I was drawn to the glowing fire in the ceiling along the wall. Oh shit! There's a fire! I bolted up the stairs, told Bruce there was a fire, and tore out to the garage to fetch a fire extinguisher. I ran back down the basement stairs and emptied my fire extinguisher into the burning hole in the basement ceiling/1st floor. Not sure if the fire was out I dashed back upstairs to grab the kitchen fire extinguisher. Bruce met me with it in the living room.  Back to the basement only to realize that fire extinguisher does not work. At that point I pounded up the stairs all the way to the second floor, burst into our bedroom, and told Madz there was a fire, I needed to call 911 and she needed to get everyone out of the house.  Coming back downstairs I step out on the front porch, call 911 give them the details, and go back to the basement. There I discovered that the fire had rekindled so I ran out to the front yard,  grabbed a length of a garden hose, ran back to the basement, quickly attached it to the cold water tank and extinguished all the fire I could see. At that point the fire was out so I opened the bulkhead door and moved around some of the basement furniture to make access a little easier for the firemen and I carefully move the tables of Legos so they wouldn't get tipped over and the creations ruined. When I heard the sirens I went back upstairs and out on the front porch. I flagged down someone who looked like they were in charge and bade them,  “Come with me.”  I was concerned they might lead with the hose and knowing what a mess that could be, I took this firefighter to the basement and showed him where the fire had been. “Did you put it out?” he  asked? “Ya” I replied. “Good job! Now go get some fresh air.” I went up to living room and move that furniture around just like I'd done in the basement it was then that I noticed there was more fire burning in the wall to the left of the hearth. When I stepped out on the porch a small group of firemen were in a huddle discussing a plan, I got their attention I told him of the fire in the wall and said, there's some work for you guys to do too. At that point I went outside and hugged my wife and our friends, and milled around until the cleanup was over. 

*I know staying in the house and breathing all that smoke was not a smart decision.  I know that in a fire situation one is supposed to gather up the occupants, exit, and leave the work to the firefighters (I’m the son of a volunteer firefighter for gosh sakes.) but that knowledge not withstanding,  I could not bring myself to stand on the lawn while my house burned waiting for the fire department.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I shit the house on fire. A guest post by FWB

FWB (our dear friend Fireworks Bruce) was the first person to wake on the fateful April morning. Here is his guest blog post. He is shown in this picture.

"I Shit the House on fire

A CPAP is not a sexy thing on a 45-year old obese man, but it makes for a good night's sleep, so I cut it a break for getting me off the LDs' couch first thing in the morning. I'm a light sleeper, so I'm pretty sure I'm the first one up, and a short shuffle into the kitchen confirms that. Continuing down the hall to the bathroom, I fight with the drawstring on my fleece pajamas while hopping from foot to foot in a hilarious and desperate rendition of the pee-pee dance. 90 seconds later and I'm walking back into the living room, where I attempt to turn on the TV, and after 3 minutes of unfruitful fumbling with the touch controls in the dimness of the morning, I give up and crawl back into the couch. Where it becomes immediately apparent that maybe I left the bathroom a hair too soon. Snatching up my iPad, I bolt for the bathroom, and settle down to some light reading while I wait for nature to take its course. 5 minutes later and I'm out the door again, this time bumping into Shane as I turn the corner, where he looks at the ceiling and says, "It's really smoky in here, isn't it?"

I look up myself, and realize the smudgy vision I thought was the result of a late night of drinking and early morning strenuous "exercise" was actually a moderately thick layer of smoke gathering beneath the ceiling.

As if they heard our conversation, the house fire alarms start blaring.

My morning brain tried doing its morning brain things, and the next thing I knew, Shane had donned a headlamp and gone into the basement. I crawled into the couch again once more, but was up on my feet quickly when Shane came running up the basement stairs not-quite-yelling, "There's a fire in the basement!"

Shane sprinted for the garage, and I ran for the office. I met him coming back through the kitchen with one of those industrial-sized fire extinguishers the size of a mailbox, while I had grabbed the thermos-sized extinguisher from the office. He tore around the corner and was down into the basement and out of sight when I got to the top of the stairs. Smoke was at this point pouring out of the pitch-black basement, and when I flicked the light switch, there was no response. I ran into the kitchen, looking for a headlamp, under the toaster, in an empty can of coffee, behind the fruit bowl, all the usual sorts of places you'd find a headlamp when the house was burning down.

Shane came back up the stairs and I shoved the smaller fire extinguisher into his hands as he yelled, full volume this time, "There's a fire. We need to call 911 and get everybody out of the house!" He ran up the stairs and I could hear him calmly but firmly waking up Madeleine, while I threw all of my belongings around the living room, searching for my phone. After exhausting all the usual hiding places for my phone, I realized my searching had been slowed considerably by the fact that I was only using one hand, because the other one was clutching my phone. From upstairs, I could hear Madeleine saying, "I don't even know who's here? Who's sleeping here?"

"ABBY!!" I shouted up to her, hoping that Abby would hear me even if Madeleine didn't, while I tried to make this weird black rectangular thing in my hand do something, but I couldn't quite remember what the thing was I was trying to make it do: tell time? add numbers? It looked sort of calculator-y, what with it's 9-point pattern on the front. Oh right! It was my phone! I had to put in the passcode and call 911! What the FUCK was my passcode?!? Wait, was this my phone? What if it was someone else's phone and I put in my passcode? Would I only be able to talk to their friends?

Shane came down the stairs, still calm, exuding competence, and waved me toward the door. "Just get outside. I'm calling 911." Thank fuck for that, because I couldn't call 911 with this stupid calculator! I ran the 7 feet required to get me out the door, then turned around and ran back, threw all my shit into my suitcase, slammed it shut without latching it, and chucked it out onto the porch, like I was boarding the last lifeboat on the Titanic. I took the three steps to the porch, leaving the door open to clear out some of the smoke, and saw Abby come down the stairs without actually taking a single step. Madeleine follows, carrying something my brain immediately edits out, but I do notice that neither of them are attired for the 30 degree morning, nor am I, so I step back inside the house and put on my shoes and grab my coat, all while standing next to the door. Shane quickly joins us on the lawn, as Madeleine literally hops around the yard, screaming, "Sirens! I just want to hear sirens!!" until the first tanker truck appears."

Monday, May 2, 2016

We had an electrical fire in our house.

April, on the heels of March, certainly came in like a lion. On Sunday April 3rd, we had an electrical fire in our basement. We are so very fortunate, because everything that could go right, did go right. We have been blessed during this past very busy month with an excellent insurance company who took care of us and met all of our needs. We were not displaced from our house either. The structural damage was limited to two rooms. Our babies were not home and were spared any trauma. The amazing folks at Service Master spent two and a half weeks cleaning every single surface of our house. Reconstruction began this weekend. Painting, every surface of the house requires repainting, began today.

It was decided that in order to properly share the jarring story, I would invite guest bloggers to tell the tale from their perspective, in order of who rose first at 9ish am on Sunday April 3rd.

 We had two friends over, since we were planning on making our final batch of syrup that day. Abby and FWB were both here and will share their stories, along with mine and SPs. I am so happy that Beth was away in VT because if she was here someone would have been asleep in the basement and that person might likely have been overcome by smoke in their sleep.

Our lives are forever altered by this overwhelming experience. Someone was certainly looking out for us. We are so very lucky. I have the first one ready to go.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Butter from Houlton Farms Creamery

I have been sitting on these pictures for far too long. Puckstopper is now a senior who will graduate from MSSM in less than two months so my visits to the North County will end. One of the many amazing finds I have made since he started school in Limestone is this amazing butter.

Meet Holton Farms Creamery's most amazing butter. 

We also refer to it as Butter cheese because of its amazing color.
We usually buy Cabot butter, and fill our butter bell with it.

Cabot is GOOD butter, but can you see that color difference!!??

I highly recommend buying some of it. I am not sure if it can be mail ordered or not, but it is worth it.

Spiffy new paint job

It's amazing what a little paint can do!

Monday, March 28, 2016

2.5 Gallons of rich dark Syrup!

It went from this....


Saturday, March 26, 2016

When Boiling feels like a well oiled machine

There has been so much progress in the last month.

It's hard to type this post retroactively, knowing that there's a major life changing event that has happened since. I almost have little to say about these photos since it seems so minor in comparison.

The vivid green emerging from the recovering moss.
There was a lot of beauty and color in the places I looked.

Look at all those hues of red!
I think the most amazing event of this boiling weekend was the rebirth of Junior our tractor. That is all thanks to Uncle Gerome, who fixed the Magneto and brought the spark back to Junior.

SP was very happy to be skidding logs again. All is well in this world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


He thought they were chaps so I got excited but it turned out to be a man apron or a maple apron but we will call is a m'apron. It's still hot!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The darkest syrup ever!

Another beautiful Syrup Sunday happened at our happy Homestead.
It was nice seeing SP get to relax this time, instead of all the cutting and chopping he did days earlier.

There's that m'apron again, mmm hmm!
Getting the sap out of the pan was the only struggle and a little creative siphoning fixed that easily.

Getting it tipped up was a little bit tricky but it worked smoothly.

What was left behind was the most beautiful sediment Delta in the bottom of the pan.

It was really much more beautiful than either of these pictures capture.
It turned out to the be the darkest, yummiest syrup yet with a fantastic viscosity to boot.

We got over 2.5 gallons of the heavenly stuff too!