verbs of doing

I set about writing my to-do list early this morning. Limited by the small scrap of paper, I decided to keep it simple and without much detail.

It’s still summer, after all.

What evolved was a lean list of tasks, a single word each, using only verbs.

Verbs of doing. Action words all.

So succinct. So fun! Because when it got right down to the doing, I sometimes had to think a minute. Empty? Oh … the dishwasher.

And let me tell you … the doing got done!

Here’s today’s to-dos:

polish

fold

wash

pack

chop

play

move

delete

search

walk

lift

empty

feed

shop

read

write

love

hope

pray

What are you doing today?

an early spring

Did you know spring arrives earlier than usual this year?

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the spring equinox falls on March 19th – earlier than it’s been in over a century! For those of us counting – and here in the northeast, we are many – that’s only 18 days away! Not only that, but we’ll turn the clocks ahead an hour only seven days from today as we spring forward into Daylight Saving Time.

For me, there’s no hope quite like spring hope!

Here’s a few fun ways to enjoy, celebrate, and spend your days in positive ways while you await spring’s arrival:

  • Keep a spring flower journal … The arrival of spring flowers is a beautiful progression of blooms to watch and document. I know just where the daffodils bloom next to the foundation at church and spotted a few green shoots this morning. I can’t wait for the forsythia and lilacs to bloom out back, and every year I spend lots of time photographing the neighbor’s iris. Journal your way to spring by keeping a written record, watercolor paintings, sketches, or photographs.
  • Keep a birding notebook … In our part of New England, Canada geese are making their way northward. Bird calls are increasing by the day, and I’m ready to research just who’s heralding spring around here. It’s time to learn how to match the call to the bird … a new project for me!
  • Visit a sugar house … with the warmer daytime temperatures and still cold evening temperatures, the sap’s been running well here in New Hampshire. There are over 350 maple producers in New Hampshire and you can learn about them here. The 25th annual NH Maple Weekend is scheduled for March 21 – 22 with open sugar houses across the state. Visit the Vermont Sugar Makers’ Association here. If you aren’t able to visit in person, visit either of these sites to order syrup or mix up some maple sweetness in your kitchen with a variety of yummy recipes!
  • Bake hot cross buns … a spiced sweet bun with dried fruit and marked with a cross on the top, hot cross buns are a Christian Lenten tradition. I wrote about baking them here and used this recipe, substituting dried cranberries for raisin or currents.
  • Plan your summer garden … no matter the dimensions of your yard or size of your containers, the Old Farmer’s Almanac can help you plan what to grow in it. You can explore their free garden planning trial by clicking here. Hope springs eternal in a growing garden, and you’ll harvest a bunch of health benefits too!
  • March for Babies … According to the March of Dimes, two babies die every hour in the United States and one woman dies every 12 hours from pregnancy complications. Register here to March for Babies and find a local spring march for healthy moms and their babies.

loving lately

warm days and cool nights * avocado toast with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes * monarch butterfly sightings * our tiny, but tall, sunflower patch * porch time * a return to routine * meal prepping vegetables for the week * ripening tomatoes on the windowsill * this dough hook * this app (for a secure connection to one I love so far away) * jigsaw puzzles * lemon ice water * kitchen dancing * fall baking (more on that another day) * football season * curtain- billowing breezes * 43 new students * this (clean) hair styling treatment * end of season sales (for back-to-school-shopping) * mums on the stoop * goal setting * evening walks * hot, buttered popcorn * zinnias * Spotify * five o’clock bird play * red tips on maple leaves * friends and fire pits * four day weekends * this granola recipe * Community Share Agriculture * peach juice dripping down my chin * watercolor painting *

present participles

recent present participle verbs at home, work, and play

  • paddling
  • walking
  • Vermonting
  • (weight) lifting
  • eating (more intentionally)
  • meditating
  • granddaughtering
  • baking
  • puttering
  • writing
  • paring (down our possessions)
  • meeting
  • (re) connecting
  • painting
  • assembling
  • organizing
  • planning
  • cleaning
  • thinking
  • imagining
  • (jigsaw) puzzling
  • playing (cribbage)
  • worry beading
  • praying
  • hoping
  • thriving

And what are you up to?

living like I mean it

I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone: summer.

I’m living like I mean it. I’m a shell gatherer. A flower picker. A storm cloud watcher. I’m a bird listener. A porch sitter. Healthier. Happier. Whole.

Around the house, I putter at this and dabble at that. No pressure. Not many have-tos. I make my bed every morning and tumble back into it at night, satisfied. My blood pressure’s down, and my hope’s up. And yes, I have sorrows. But blessings too. So many blessings.

 I thrive in summer. All steam heat and sultry days. Plenty of time and lots of the very best things to eat, see, and experience. In essence, I’m living all summer has to offer.  Just picked fruits and vegetables. Digging my feet in the sand. Estimating the time I have on the hard sand before the tide rises. Endless and awe-filled gazing at our grand daughter.

All the important stuff.

Ive read this book

and this one

and this guide has helped me create more simple and healthier options into our cleaning caddy.

I’m paging through this new cookbook

and so thrilled to be spending more time experimenting with this one.

Feel good about using this sunscreen every day and loving the fresh, summery scent of these lemongrass essential oils  in our laundry.  These reusable produce bags are my new favorite shopping habit.

Cannot wait to try my new tripod (thanks to a couple of Christmas gift cards, a bit of extra time for a road trip here, and a really good deal.) Maybe one of these is in my future?

Yep. It’s summer. And I’m living like I mean it. 

Headed here for the day!

Postcard to follow!

 

summering the alphabet

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We’re summering our way through the alphabet again this year.

Not letter by letter in order, of course, that would be far too constricting. However, the structure the alphabet provides is some sort of reminder to get out, go out, find out, and do something with the lovely (and fleeting) days of a New England summer.

In no particular order, we’ve summered the alphabet so far with:

S: strawberry picking

H: hiking

T: tennis, both at home and away (our racquets travel with us)

P: picnics

Some letters fill up quickly, and others are a bit of a challenge.  Last year’s Y: yard sales will likely be this year’s as well since I’ve got a new classroom come fall and find myself in need of several solid bookshelves. It’s okay. Repeats are fine. I impose no rules or restrictions when summering the alphabet, although I usually only document those people, places, and events we meet, visit, and experience together as a couple.

I’d rather not summer solo.

We add the destinations we reach like some sort of alphabetical post card documenting the places we’ve dreamed about visiting throughout the long winter while waiting for summer to come.

E: Ellacoya State Park, Gilford, NH

C: Calef’s Country Store, Barrington, NH

M: Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert, Vermont

Of course, V is for visiting Vermont in all her fine, full-on summer greenery and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. We’ve stayed with our favorite Vermont family at I: Inn at Manchester (which incidentally also appears on our fall and winter alphabets,) and for the first time ever, we’re also summering at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont – which of course means W is all set.

The alphabet’s filling up fast this year … it’s not even July, and we’re almost halfway through. Maybe this summer we’ll experience a letter or two more than once.

And won’t that be fun?

 

 

 

 

Miss Maggie’s Pumpkin Biscuits

 

DSC_0376Little Miss Maggie arrived in our lives early this January.

Puppy love.

Indeed.

I’m pretty okay with the fact that my first grandchild is a dog. And I spoil her accordingly ~ especially when her daddy’s not around!

Here’s the recipe for the healthy homemade dog biscuits I make every week for our girl:

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MAGGIE’S PUMPKIN BISCUITS

preheat oven to 300 F

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
  • chopped fresh parsley ~ about two tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • water

Mix together the flour, oats, parsley, dried milk, and salt.

Add the eggs, pumpkin, and peanut butter and mix well. Add water a bit at a time to bring the dough together.

Flour a cutting board and roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut with cookie cutter or roll into small ball-shaped treats and flatten with your hand before baking. Keep re-rolling the scraps until you’ve used all the dough.

Bake for about 45-60 minutes until crisp and browned.

Today, I baked eight large dog-bone shaped biscuits and 32 tiny heart-shaped treats for my Miss Maggie. I pulled the tiny hearts out @ 45 minutes and the larger treats at about 60 minutes.

Such an easy way to love the girl who’s brought so much love to me.

leaving a trail

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East Inlet, Pittsburg, NH

My husband tells me I leave a trail behind me wherever I go. Bags. Books. Projects. Clothing. The deeper I get in the work week, the longer the trail. Our bedroom gets looking like a locker room, and the kitchen counter’s in piles of disarray.

Life goes on, hence the trail.

Life stacks up too. I could tell you about the laundry pile, the work pile, the bill pile, and the to-be-read pile. I’m sure you have some such versions of your own, so you probably don’t need to hear about mine.

Make no mistake: I’m all about order, but there’s only so many hours in a day (and I probably need to note that I’m none too perky during some of them.) Scheduling life helps. (I wrote about it here.) When push comes to shove, or I’m pulled in one way or pushed in another, order’s a little low on the priority list.

If you think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, however,  I’m pretty knee-deep in self-actualization (achieving one’s full potential, including creativity,) which is a step higher on the pyramid than esteem needs (prestige and feelings of accomplishment.)

So it’s all good. But back to the trail.

Here’s a little trail I’m leaving behind here, so you know what I’ve been up to:

  • exploring in northernmost New Hampshire … all the wilderness a girl could want, and then some.  We stayed here where you have your choice of accomodations from the lodge to your own lakeside log cabin. The food at both the Rainbow Grille and Tavern is just this side of scrumptious with a shot of tranquility all around.
  • shooting photography here, there, and everywhere … according to my husband, I spent 45 minutes taking photographs of frost-covered grass in Pittsburg, but that’s an unsubstantiated claim.  Meanwhile … I’m back at studying my favorite creative outlet at our local evening adult education program.  (See above link to Hierarchy of Needs and Self-Actualization.) I’m also using this book for reference.
  • reading this, this, and this
  • writing about childhood memories with my Nana … picture book?
  • decorating for fall, and eventually Thanksgiving with pumpkins large and small, orange and white, dried Chinese lanterns, gourds, burgundy-colored eucalyptus .. and of course, candles … Did you know Walmart sells these in a 12-pack?

I hope you’re all well and pursuing your own trails! I’ll be around and about as I have time or something to say.

 

in september

 

DSC_0329 (3)As surely as April brings thoughts of throwing open the windows to the warmer, fresh air, September starts me layering, feathering, and gathering. Yes, I’m sad to see summer go … but I’m determined to welcome fall and find a bit of time for some fun before the snow flies!

Although it’s not formally fall, it feels like it, and it’s starting to look like it too. Yellow and orange mums sit on the stoop where it seems only days ago were daisies. We kick acorns down the road when we go for a walk and hickory nuts too. We’re gathering the last of our luscious tomatoes and saying so long to our flowers.  I’m thinking less about burgers on the grill and more about soups in the crockpot. Suddenly, I’ve a hankering to bake bread!

Just now, apples simmer on the stove on their way to becoming apple sauce. It’s the season of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. We’ve been to the orchard once already and will probably return today. Later, and by request, I’ll make the first pumpkin recipe of the season: pumpkin whoopie pies.  We’ve got neighbors to thank … and those pies are a whole heaping handful of fall gratitude.

Just as we did this summer, we’ll be living out a (fun-seeking) fall alphabet:

A- apple and peach picking (of course!) — B- bonfire in the fire pit out back — C- cider and crisps and cornstalks on the porch — D-  E- F- festivals and fairs and foliage — G- H- I- J- K- L- M- mums from the garden center N- O- P- pumpkins on the steps and in the oven! — Q- R- S- T- U- V- W- X- Y- Z-

We fill it in as we go along and somehow, the alphabet inspires us to keep looking for all the fun we know is out there … but we’re sometimes too busy or tired or overwhelmed to think about. It’s a fun kind of fill-in-the-blank we look forward to.

I can’t wait to leaf kick (L) and discover what face emerges on our Jack o’ Lantern (J). It’s time to pack up the beach towels, layer on the sweaters and boots, and feather the bed with our winter quilt (Q).

I’m hoping for a few more walks on the beach and a couple more tosses of the tennis ball, but mostly, I’m headed toward autumn – full steam ahead!

For those of you local … We’re planning for this Equinox Festival and hopefully headed to this fair for the first time.  This slow-cooker soup is on the menu this week.

And if you’re looking for an easy fall side or transitional topping for the last of summer’s ice cream, you’ll find my go-to applesauce recipe below:

APPLESAUCE

from my mother-in-law’s Betty Crocker cookbook
  • 4 medium cooking apples, each cut into fourths
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat apples and water to boiling over medium heat; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally* to break up apples, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; boil and sitr 1 minute. Makes about 4 cups.

*I used a potato masher!

 

 

 

classic summertime play

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Just about the time the daisies burst open and the tomato plants have grown nearly to my chin, I get a hankering to play croquet.  You can read about the rules and history of the game here, but more than likely you have your own family history of alliances, revenge, and personal croquet vendettas played out on the green grass of your youth.

The lawn’s just mowed.  Can you smell it?

Who’s ready for a little friendly competition?

I call yellow ball!

My sister and I traveled north for two weeks every summer to stay with family. Croquet was a late afternoon event informally scheduled somewhere between the lighting of the charcoal briquettes for dinner and the chasing of fireflies at dusk.  Family, friends, roots, and rocks – all is fair in love and croquet. Playing barefoot is best, and nothing says summer like the wooden thwack of a croquet mallet on someone else’s ball.

A quick search outlined croquet sets available everywhere and high cost to low from L.L. Bean to Crate and Barrel, and of course, Amazon.

Other old-timey fun I’m nostalgic about every summer:

  • Parcheesi   : best played (inside) during a thunderstorm with a big bowl of popcorn
  • kite-flying  : on a beach, in the park or pasture, high-flying fun for everyone (except maybe Charlie Brown)
  • jigsaw puzzles  : our family goes for 1000 piece puzzles – leave it out on a table with plenty of elbow-room, and eventually everyone’s looking for and placing pieces – our recent favorites:  Candy Wrappers and The Games We Played
  • gimp : it’s been awhile, but how about weaving one of those gimp keychains? Here’s a video to show how to weave a square stitch and Michaels has gimp aka “plastic lacing”
  • potholder loom : any look back to how to pass the time in summers of yesteryear needs to include the annual weaving of – many – colored, cotton potholders. Vermont Country Store still has the looms and loops! Caution: this project may come with some crying, however, removing the potholder from the loom is a rite of childhood passage, tears or no, and will one day be remembered fondly.

Of course, there’s always Monopoly, cribbage, checkers, and umpteen card games to rediscover. Don’t forget backyard badminton, a swing on the playground, and a good old-fashioned game of catch!