Monthly Archives: November 2008

Seven Years

Seven years ago tonight Ed and I went out on our second-first date.  Our first date was about six months earlier and then we just went on with our lives, but we reunited on November 30.  It was a double date, thanks to my friend Jessica, a.k.a. Green Mamma, agreeing to tag along with me.  What are good friends for?

We went to dinner and a movie, and I remember Ed dozing off during the movie.  The details are a little blurry, but he dropped me off at home and we had our first kiss in my driveway, next to the apartment that my dad was building for me over the garage.  Little did I know then that the apartment would become our home for the next five years.

Even though we don’t celebrate this anniversary anymore, since we have the official wedding anniversary in June, I still like to stop and think about our date.

Two weeks after that dinner and a movie, I remember telling Jessica that Ed was the man I was going to marry.  I don’t know how I knew, but apparently it was love at second sight.

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Ed and Abbie, December 26, 2001

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First Snow

Sunday Stroll

It was snowing when Ed and I woke up this morning.  We snuggled up under the covers and watched the snow falling outside our window for a long while.  It has since changed over to rain, but not before I ventured out to snap a few shots.

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To see who else is strolling today, visit The Quiet Country House.

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Christmas Village

Christmas Village

Setting up my Christmas Village on the day after Thanksgiving has become tradition.  This year, I have two separate villages, one on the mantel and one on the “bird’s eye” maple table that Ed built for me. 

When Ed and I got engaged, my Auntie Di gave us a church to get our village started, complete with a bride and groom.  Over the years, the village has gotten bigger and bigger, mostly through gifts.  As I set it up, I like to think about who gave each item to us: the greenhouse from our friends Alicia and Vinny, wedding presents from Auntie Di, a little woodworking shop from Ed’s mom, a Santa from Ed’s grandmother, a windmill from my grandmother, and a barn that my mom gave me last year.  I love all the pieces, but I especially love the lighthouse that was a gift from Ed (although I know his mom really picked it out!), complete with a rotating beacon.

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So far this year the only additions to the village are a snow blanket that lights up, a little John Deere tractor and fawns that I’ve named Apple and Pumpkin.  But who knows, someone might just give me another piece this Christmas or I might buy something on sale after the holidays are over.

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I can’t explain why I like Christmas Villages so much, but it’s probably because they put me in the Christmas spirit.  I love setting it up and getting everything just right, from hiding deer in the trees to placing the mirror-pond in just the right spot.  I also set up my Christmas candles in the windows today, and the combination of them and the village gives such a pretty glow in the house.  I still  have lots of decorating to do, but setting up the Christmas Village is my official start of the season.

What do you do to get yourself in the spirit of the season?

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It’s Officially Thanksgiving…

… last night I burned my finger taking pies out of my oven and this morning the smoke alarm went off.  Not due to my cooking… some smoke got in the house from the wood stove, and the bad thing about good insulation in a new home is that the smoke stays in the house and sets off the alarm.

For the last two years, Thanksgiving has been incredibly low key for my family.  Up until then, we were always working at the farm.  We would bake pies all night long, and customers would start to line up before 6 a.m. to get them.  Apple and pumpkin were the favorites, of course, followed closely by Fruits of the Forest, which is a mixture of apples, strawberries, rhubarb, red raspberries and blackberries.  I remember as a child staying up late with my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, running in and out of the warm kitchen at the farm market and camping out in my grandmother’s office.  We’d help box pies, label the the boxes, wash trays, take out the trash.  One of the most fun parts was jumping in the cardboard dumpster to help make room for more.  We’d get to skip school on Tuesday and Wednesday, since they were the busiest days.  There are so many funny memories of those late nights baking, from falling asleep and burning a load of pies to our “Employee of the Year” nomination accompanied by a goofy picture.  In high school, I couldn’t miss school because of basketball try-outs, but I’d always end up at the stand afterwards, helping customers and then baking into the night.  In college, I’d again skip classes so I could bake all night, take a quick nap and then get up early to work on the cash register.  We’d spend endless hours counting pies and playing the guessing game that we’d baked enough of each kind, but not so much that there would be too many left.  When I started teaching, I’d rush out of school at 2:00 to head to the stand to relieve people who had been working all day, and then I’d stay and bake until 10 or 12 before heading home to get some sleep before going back to school.  It was stressful, and there was more than one customer that lacked the holiday spirit, but like most things in life, I remember the good parts.  The Thanksgiving rush, in my mind, is the perfect example of a farm family working together to make it.  Everyone, all generations, help out, doing whatever needs to be done.  From small children (although we’re all grown up now) to my grandmother and everyone in between, all had a role to play.  But, by the time Thursday came around, we were so exhasted and nobody wanted to eat pie.

Last year we decided to close and skip the Thanksgiving madness.  We’re still open from May to October, and lots of customers buy pies to freeze for Thanksgiving.  As we all grow up and work off the farm, it’s hard for everyone to find the time to help out, and my grandmother can only do so much.  Last year was the first year I actually got to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving, and I know a lot of my family feels the same way.  Instead of running around like crazy this week, I got to coach my school’s powderpuff football team.  Although we didn’t win the game, I was impressed by all the hard work that the girls did to get to that point, and I was extremely proud of the way that the girls represented their town.  It feels strange to not be rushing around, but it feels good to only have to bake three pies instead of thousands.  Last year we attended Ed’s family’s party at his aunt and uncle’s home in Rhode Island for the first time, and this year we’ll be eating dinner with my family.  It’s a new tradition and a new chapter in my life. 

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Stairbuilder’s Stairs

The old saying goes that the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.  And the stairbuilder’s house has no balusters or railing… Until NOW!  Ed finished up the stairs over the weekend, installing all of the balusters and putting the railing back on.  Now, when I say finished, it’s like saying our house is finished.  Meaning, it’s not.  Ed still has some trim to put on them and something else but I can’t remember what it is (I guess I wasn’t really listening).

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Being that Ed’s a stairbuilder, he wanted the stairs to be an impressive part of our house.  He didn’t decide to do elliptical or spiral stairs like for his clients because we’re not that kind of fancy people. 

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Instead, we opted for a classy, traditional staircase with square paneled posts, spiral balusters that we designed, and black walnut railings. 

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The railings are curved, which give them a fancy look that’s reminiscent of a saddle.

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I’m under strict instructions not to decorate the stairs with garlands this Christmas, since sap will get on the balusters, posts and railings, but I am going to put a big bow on each post and some white lights around the railings.

I’m thankful to have such a talented husband!

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Cranberry Buckle Made with Leftover Cranberry Sauce!

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This is the perfect coffee cake to use up leftover cranberry sauce.  You may like it so much that you find yourself making cranberry sauce just to make the buckle! 

Buckle:

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover homemade cranberry sauce

Streussel Topping:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Maple Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 Tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the egg and vanilla.  Alternately add the flour mixture and milk.  Stir in the cranberry sauce.  Spread in a buttered baking pan.  Combine all ingredients for streussel with your fingers until crumbly and spread on top of buckle.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Combine ingredients to make maple glaze and drizzle over the cranberry buckle.

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