Category Archives: planning

Autumn in New England

It looks like this weekend might turn out to be a good one for planting my fall bulbs. One piece of common wisdom says to plant when the daily temperature is in the 60s consistently, and the 10-day forecast currently has every day in the mid 60s, with one day that might be 70. I think I’m safe. The landscaper is theoretically coming this Friday to do the bit by the driveway with nice cobbles, and once that is cleaned up I can split the Monster Hosta and start bulb planting. I’m hoping that Sunday won’t be rainy, because I don’t want to be planting in a cold rain. I can’t wait for spring, to see whether my 40 grape hyacinths come up.

So, I made shortbread for the first time. It was deliriously good. It involved cardamom, a non-traditional shortbread spice, but it contributed a warmth of flavor that was perfectly fitting for an autumn cookie. I was pretty afraid of shortbread, thinking it would be a finicky dough, but then I made a biscuit-type dough for apple dumplings and those turned out pretty good, and I wasn’t as afraid of shortbread anymore. The next thing I might want to try is my own English muffins, or crumpets. I found a recipe that makes them seem easy, as long as you have English muffin rings. So I just need to find those. I found them on the King Arthur Flour website. ❤ KAF.

Also, as you guessed from the previous paragraph, I made apple dumplings. They still need perfecting, but it was another America’s Test Kitchen recipe, so most of the bumps were already smoothed out for me. ❤ ATK.

Maybe the sun is trying to come out today? It’s hard to tell. Happy Autumn, folks. Bake something that smells fabulous & have a warming beverage.

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Filed under planning, the house

Things We’ve Been Doing

  • Weeding
  • Making wine jelly
  • Planning next year’s garden (what to plant, how & where to plant it, what to do with the harvest)
  • More weeding
  • Remaking the basement in to a more useful space — sealing the walls, dividing the space, et cetera
  • Trying to get over various qualms about making my own cheese — specifically, mozzarella. Jim says if I start with cow’s milk, I can eventually graduate to trying sheep and goat varieties.
  • Still weeding
  • Cheering on my blueberry bushes — two seem to be growing a bit, the third not so much maybe? Time to  give the little darling some compost.
  • Thinning out the vinca which are threatening to take over the blueberry bushes
  • Plotting out bulb planting — when & where
  • Gearing up for fall visitors — both sets of parents and at least one grandmother, maybe two, inside of three weeks
  • Buying scads of bed linens, on sale, no less
  • Eating chocolate

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Goal 2012, #2: Giving (More)

There is an odd pleasure that comes from giving back to one’s community. Some people occasionally give a little bit each week in their church’s offering plate, while some people set aside a whole tithe each year. Others support local organizations with donations of time, money, or material (such as donating canned items to a local food pantry, or volunteering to make meal deliveries to local seniors). Some people provide foster homes to children or puppies or kitties, giving time, love, and resources to the growing creatures in our world.

But do any of us give as much as we can?

I especially like to support history and the arts, so being (and remaining) a member of the Museum of Fine Arts does something to feed my soul — and in return, I get to enjoy world-class art exhibits year round. (In the years I wasn’t an MFA member, I was a season-ticket-holder at the Boston Baroque, supporting an excellent local fine performing arts outfit. If you live around Boston and haven’t been to a BB concert, you’re missing out.)

We’ve talked, casually, about expanding our giving to include other near & dear causes, but this year I’m setting the goal to finally do it. It’s in our power, so why not give a little back?

  1. Continue supporting the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (November)
  2. Finally donate to NPR!! Best to wait for a matching challenge, so what we give goes twice as far. (a spring or summer fund drive perhaps?)
  3. Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Mass. I’ve never even been, but this year I want to go visit and I want to give in support of this historic home and the efforts of its caretakers. (March, probably — how symbolic!)

And maybe one more cause — maybe a local animal group? Maybe donate something material, like dog or cat food?

A question for my (few) readers:
What do other people do to give back to the community?
How could we all try to give a little extra this year?

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July Reading Pile

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella, Alan Bennett
“When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.” —from the publisher

Every Living Thing, James Herriot
“The world-famous Yorkshire vet returns with endearing tales of people, animals and the wonder of life itself. Here is all the warmth, humor, drama, and local color we’ve come to expect, and a deep sense of the joys and trials of life in the English countryside. Herriot’s rare literary voice speaks to our hearts and minds.” —from Barnes & Noble

The Wolf in the Parlor, Jon Franklin
“A man and a puppy exhumed from a 12,000-year-old grave send a two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning science writer on a journey to the dogs.” —from the publisher

Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz
“Alexandra Horowitz’s smart new book fills a niche in this field. Most authors seeking to explain canine minds are pushing a trendy training style or a worthy humane-treatment goal. Horowitz sets out to study dogs for their own fascinating sake…Inside of a Dog offers a thoughtful take on the interior life of the dog, a topic often left to poets and philosophers and Marley & Me. A Barnard psychologist, Horowitz doesn’t deliver an academic monograph based on, say, freshly unearthed details about the wild dogs of the Siberian steppe. Rather, she mixes observations of her own dog with a breezy survey of animal-science literature as she ponders more basic questions about the pet dogs of the American living room: What’s with the sniffing? Why do they bark? Oh, and do they actually like us? The result is a work long on insight and short on jargon.” —Michael Shaffer, The Washington Post

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