Max and I have been really busy for the last couple of days...and will be for the next few days to come. We are helping out on a congressional campaign. We're working with a team of about 30 other young people in a lovely, old building.
The civic-minded young people waved campaign signs on street corners, passed out literature and talked to voters door to door, and made thousands and thousands of phone calls. They sit in the elegant conference room and dutifully call voters for hours on end.
Max has talked to people who have been friendly, people who have sworn, people who have hung up on him, and everyone in between. It's a great experience for a 13-year old.
And the campaign's been feeding us too. Here's a sure sign that young people are hard at work.
Autumn is the season when New England is at its best! My camera is always at the ready. So many beautiful scenes to capture. The seasons are so distinct here, and each one has its own work, its own look, and its own joys. Here are some of my favorite scenes from this season.
"New England has a way of doing this to people; they can be homesick for it even if they have never seen it." -- Mark Van Doren
Just today the last of the tomatoes were canned. Colette kept me company as I worked, lying on the kitchen floor and reading Calvin & Hobbes aloud.
The garlic was planted and covered with a thick, warm blanket of leaves and hay.
The garden has been put to bed for the winter. It's all tucked in. Let the leaves fall, the winds blow, and the snow blanket our world in quiet whiteness. I am more than ready to curl up inside and take up my knitting and sewing. The seasons are changing and so are our activities. Time to slow down. Time to rest.
This year, for her senior year of high school, I designed a Homesteading Skills course for Colette. She'll be studying about and learning skills in the following areas: candle making, soap making, first aid, candy making (her idea), bread baking, seed starting, canning, and more. But the year began with candle making, and today we spent the afternoon dipping beeswax candles.
Candle wicking was cut into 28" lengths
A nut was attached to the end of each cut piece, to act as a weight to keep the candle nice and straight.
The air was cool, damp, and cloudy today. While we waited for the beeswax to melt in our improvised double boiler, we enjoyed hot cider and chocolate-dipped leaf shaped cookies, because that makes everything more fun.
In and out and the first dip was complete.
When they were pencil-thick, the nuts were snipped off the ends and the warm bases pinched into proper shape.
The sun had set by the time we had finished dipping. Beautiful, honey-scented tapers.
Oftentimes on Fridays, Colette, Max, and I will take a field trip for school. Today we toured the John Paul Jones Home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
I thought touring the home of a naval hero would appeal to Max. But, alas, the home had very little to do with John Paul Jones (who, it turns out, only rented a room there on two occassions), and more to do with the general history of Portsmouth. The exhibits appealed to female tastes.
The butler's pantry:
This was my favorite area in the home. I am positively in love with crewel work fabric! There's a piece sitting on my sewing table right now, just waiting for me to decide what project is worthy of it. This chair's upholstery was in such a lovely pattern and colors.
Colette and I admired this persimmon-colored bodice (c. 1840) with velvet accents that was part of a special exhibit highlighting accessories and a few articles of clothing from the 19th century.
After a stop for lunch, we headed home. Along the way we stopped at this farm to purchase some pumpkins for carving.
Next time our field trip will need to be nearly entirely young man-pleasing.
A large bouquet of sage was one of the last gatherings from the garden for the season. Now it's hanging to dry in the pantry, waiting on the sidelines until it's called into action for Thanksgiving Day seasonings.
"When well-grown and shaped carefully while you snip it for kitchen use, sage is softly pretty, an old-fashioned plant that reminds us of our grandmothers' gardens. An indispenable part of American Thanksgiving dinner, sage goes back farther than that, having deep roots in the history of kitchen gardens."
A few of the harvested jalapeno peppers went into these small jars of horseradish jelly. Red onion, sugar, and more made for a pungent, spicy, sweet combination that awakens the tastebuds. Some crackers topped with a slathering of cream cheese and drizzled with horseradish jelly is a tantilizing appetizer. I did up the batch in 1/4-pint jars, just perfect for little Christmas gifts.
Felicity came over to spend the day with us. We love those days! Colette and she spent the afternoon in the kitchen with dessert on their minds. When they were done, we had this...an apple crostata.
An apple pie without a pie plate. It had the air of the unexpected about it in other ways as well. No cinnamon, no brown sugar, none of the usual apple pairings for this dessert. Instead there was an accompaniment of orange zest and orange juice. Quite deliciously fresh.
Colette and I went to the farmers' market in search of farm fresh apples.
We love the farmers' market at anytime of year. But I love how it changes so completely in the autumn.
Gone are the soft and luscious fruits of summer and the heaps of juicy tomatoes. No, those won't do for fall. Fall farmers' market pickings are thick shelled and sturdy. Rugged vegetables that will fill up your hungry family, your root cellars, and your pantries.
And then there are the apples. Sweet nectar of autumn in every crunchy bite!
Last week, when we had the freeze warning, we cut every dahlia in the front flower bed. Unwilling to miss any enjoyment from our beautiful dahlias, we brought them inside for safety. They've been gracing the mantle ever since.
5. clips for weighting down the tablecloth from unexpected gusts
8. vintage bakelite flatware
A small collection of red- and chestnut-handled bakelite pieces, picked up here and there from antique stores, live in our picnic basket. Keeping the picnic basket stocked with essentials means we can be ready for a picnic in a matter of moments.
This past weekend, I went on a wool arts tour. It's a self-guided tour and there were six stops on it; I went to three of them. So many delicious fibers to finger!
So many talented women sharing their love of all things woolen!
One of the delights of New England is continually discovering the unexpected. I am thrilled to discover that miles and miles down a dirt road lives a woman, quietly weaving away on her loom, making high-quality cloth.
On a sheep farm, lives another woman who dyes her sheep's wool with natural dye materials. Creativity thrives down quiet, country roads.
There's a freeze warning issued for our litle part of New England tonight. All hands were rallied to harvest the last from the garden: oregano, basil, flat-leaf parsley, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, the last cucumber, and nearly 250 tomatoes.
They'll take their sweet time, but eventually they'll all ripen. More tomato canning and salsa making and freezing are in my future.
Today we accomplished our weekly cleaning. We clean a little every day. But one day a week, the house gets a thorough scrubbing. Then, as it was a warm and breezy autumn day here in New England, the windows were thrown open and the breeze rushed through. Now everything smells delightfully lemon-scented and fresh. I love that lemon-scented sense of satisfaction at the house being well-cleaned. Now I can run and play guilt-free this weekend, because the housework is all done.
These days, Colette is sporting the newest apron in her collection. This one is vintage, linen, and covered in teapots and roses.
I wonder who wore this apron in the past? It's stain-free, so maybe it was only for special occassions. Maybe it was worn by some meticulous cook. Whoever wore it then, Colette's caring for it now and it's seeing some serious baking.
We've been making and freezing batches of this salsa for several weeks now. I think I've almost frozen enough to take us through to next "salsa season". It's HOT! It's smoky! Be sure to start with the freshest of ingredients.
Wonderful Life Farm's Fire-Roasted Salsa
3 lbs. roma tomatoes (don't substitute regular tomatoes, as it will be too watery) 2 or 3 jalapeno peppers 1 large white onion, sliced in thick rings and kept intact 4 green onions (trimmed to about 5" long) about 10 stems of cilantro 1 - 7 oz. can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce 1/2 t. salt 1 T. fresh lime juice 1/4 t. ground cumin 1/2 t. oregano 1/2 t. ground black pepper mesquite or hickory wood chips
Make a foil boat-tray for the wood chips. Soak a couple handfuls of chips in water for about 30 mins. Drain chips. Heat up grill. We have a gas grill, so we place the soaked and drained chips in the foil boat-tray and place them on one side of the grill. On the other side of the grill, place: tomatoes, jalapenos, white onion, green onions, and cilantro. (We have a higher rack on our grill, so the green onions and cilantro go up there.) Close the grill's lid and allow them to cook until lightly blackened, turning everything over once. It will take about 8-10 minutes per side. Remove vegetables from grill. Cut the stems off the jalapenos. Place all vegetables and remaining ingredients in food processor, and pulse until desired consistency.
When Felicity was about seven years old, I was at a little shop where I was purchasing for her a pair of hiking boots and a pair of black velvet dress shoes with exuberant black satin bows. The clerk asked if they were both for my daughter. Upon learning that they were, she laughed and pointing at the velvet shoes said, "I would never buy those for my daughter. She'd only be comfortable in the hiking boots." How sad. I wanted my daughters to grow up as equally comfortable in the world of hiking boots as the world of black velvet shoes.
Last weekend was one of those moments for Technohubby and I. Time to get out of the garden...cast aside the gardening gloves. Slip into something black and a little sparkly. We went into Boston.
The special event was a dinner cruise of Boston Harbor. Dinner was multi-coursed and delicious.
The city lights were lovely!
My black velvet evening coat had a good airing. Back to the garden now.