Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tappin' Time

March in Western PA means two things... Mud and Maple Syrup.  You got to go through one to get to the other.

We tap of course for the sweetness of the syrup, but mostly, we tap because we do this together.  I realized while watching The Woodsman, the kids and Farmer Dan collect sugar water and sit around the fire that this is how we create love.

Some things never lose their magic - I drank a fresh, just tapped, drop myself.

It's also great to see how much the kids are able to do independently from year to year.

No need for fancy gifts - let's just spend meaningful time together.  It's a sweetness that will last far longer than the syrup.

Love you Daddy!

Friday, March 20, 2015

In Which We Venture North....

Last week, after several very busy weeks of preparing for, and doing our school production of Alice In Wonderland, the kids and I took off and headed North for a week of time with family and friends.

The Girl as "Lily", a sassy flower that makes fun of small Alice, sitting on the magic mushroom painted by Farmer Dan.

If you've spent any time reading about our lives, you'll know that the three of us are winter lovers to the core.  We spent two glorious days skiing at Killington.  I loved the long runs, and the kids loved the gondolas and the terrain parks.  We also really enjoyed spending time with family - both on and off the slopes.
The view from halfway up.

My sister, AKA ski buddy
First time ever I was ahead of her the whole time - another great reason to be a ski instructor next year.

Adventure Bob and The Girl at the top of the mountain

First run- headed down Great Northern

In the K-1 Gondola

Killington offers complimentary ski tours of the mountain.  They call it "The Beast" it's so huge.
We took an awesome 3 hour tour with Glenn on our first morning.  

 Then, on the way home we spent a few days in Manhatten.  We celebrated birthdays at The Jekyll and Hyde Club (wish I'd been faster with my camera so I could have gotten a shot of the sparklers in their birthday Sundaes), spent all day at the American Museum of Natural History, enjoyed great New York pizza and bagels, and soaked up time with our favorite New Yorkers.

Dr. Brain really wanted The Boy's hair to use for his mop.  Such a fantastic actor, so much to see and do.

Minerva, the maid, gives The Girl some French lessons (about eating dogs, but not cats).

Side Note:  If you take kids to NYC be sure to include The Jekyll and Hyde Club and the American Natural Museum of Natural History on your itinerary.  The former is a dinner theater restaurant with a decour filled with curious and interactive curiousities, and characters like Dr. Brain (who performs "surgery" to create a Frankenstein like monster).  Another bonus, for New York, the prices are very reasonable - about $15 for kid entree and drink, and $20 for adults.  The later is the biggest Natural History Museum we've even visited.  We've spent two full days there, and still haven't seen everything.  While there is a suggested admission price, you are free to pay what you will - another bonus for families on a budget.  

Underneath the Blue Whale in the Ocean Room - my favorite place in the museum.

Climbing rocks in Central Park (because that's what my kids do no matter where they visit).

On the Alice statue in Central Park

With the Balto statue in Central Park - We've been reading about the Iditarod.
 I returned refreshed, and ready to take on the busy spring.  In the world of Education - once you get to April, the school year moves at light speed toward the approaching state tests.  Soccer will start soon, and the garden is a disaster of weeds begging to be saved from last year's summer neglect.

Winter, despite today's spring snow and one final ski day planned on Sunday, is on it's way out.  But for now, I'll enjoy the year's last snow day, revel in the sound of the wood popping in the stove, and savor the last of the relaxation.

The Crocus will win this match.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Menu Planning, Substitution and Doubling to Freeze - Three Essential Tools for Healthy and Frugal Eating

Periodically, after a conversation about the current busy state of my family's life, someone will say something like, "I just don't know how you do it all."  My answer?  I'm organized and a plan ahead.  

The other day I heard a report on the amount of food that typical households waste.  Can you guess?  It was 40%.  That's crazy!  Americans are wasting almost half of the food they buy.  The NRDC said that the average family throws away $2,275 annually.  I almost stopped the car.  

Then I begin to wonder why?  The only answer I could come up with was lack of planning.  There are two tools that help us to eat well, and use up what we already have before we buy more.  First, I plan a menu.  I usually sit down on Sunday afternoon and think about the week ahead.  I then match the food we'll eat for supper to the kind of evening we'll be having.  The second tool I use is substitution.  I don't always follow the recipe to the letter.  Sometimes I use what I have.  For example, the pot pies below are intended to be made with potatoes, chicken, and a homemade white sauce.  I had turkey, turnips and potatoes and turky gravey.  Guess what?  The substitution version was just as good as the standard one.  Not a single person noticed - in fact, everyone aksed for seconds.  The final tool in my frugal kitchen kit is that usually, if I'm cooking something from scratch I'm doubling, or even tripling what I'm making.  The extra dishes go into the freezer for busy week nights.  

Every Lent I challange myself to spend as little as possible a the grocery store.  I want to use up what I have before the summer comes and we're wallowing in produce and processing.  Maybe this year, you can do the same?

The top line is breakfast; the bottom one is supper.