Category: This New Hampshire Life

It’s So Eggciting!

Chicks waiting for pick up at our local AgwayWe’re getting chickens.

I blame Cammy.

Cammy keeps a small brood of chickens in her backyard. A few years ago, she gave me some fresh eggs. My life was never the same. If you’ve never eaten eggs laid by chickens NOT raised on a commercial farm, it is hard to describe the difference. The yolks are more yellow. The flavor is richer, eggier if you will. Now when I have store bought eggs, they just taste watered down. Local eggs add a subtle depth to the flavor to any recipe.

I’ve mooched Cammy’s eggs for three years. She’s very generous and I’m exceedingly grateful. Early on, I thought of keeping hens, but we like to go to the lake in the summer and we tend to travel occasionally the rest of the year. Chickens need daily care and attention.

A chance conversation with some neighbors changed that. There are four families involved and we figure the chance of ALL of us being gone at the same time are slim to none, plus, my experienced chicken whisperer Cammy has offered to pinch hit if necessary.

I’ll order the chickens on Monday and the chicks will be in late next month. I’m really not sure where this will lead, but I’m excited for the adventure and for the fresh eggs!

Advertisement

High Tech Hide and Seek

Fall Family Fun - My husband two kids and our dog make their way down a fire road.
Fall Family Fun

The story goes like this; my husband and I got lost walking in our own backyard, so my in-laws bought my husband a hand held GPS for his birthday.  While standing in line to pay for said GPS, my mother-in-law spied a book on Geocaching, the book was an impulse buy that launched us on an addictive family activity.

Fish holds a medium sized container cache filled with trinkets and a log book.
A container cache

Never heard of geocaching? Oh, are YOU missing out.  Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunting game.  “Cachers” hide small containers in various locations and post the GPS coordinates (and a hint or two) on a web site geocaching.com.  You can search geocaching.com by address, zip code or by state.  There are over 5,000 caches in New Hampshire alone. There are 5 within a 1-mile radius of our home and over 400 within a 10-mile radius.

A cache hidden between some rocks in an old rock wall.
Hidden in plain sight (sort of)

Caches are rated by how difficult they are to find, and the difficulty of the terrain where the cache is located.There is usually a hint included as well (encrypted for those who want the an additional challenge). There are caches everywhere and some of the descriptions and hints can be kind of funny.  Like the one in Boston that said “when you reach underneath the bridge for the box, make sure you don’t grab the rat trap”. Icons included in the description, will also note whether the site is handicapped accessible, stroller and or pet friendly.

When you choose a cache you want to find, you download the coordinates to your GPS unit. It is worth noting that may of the newer units meant for cars, can also be used for geocaching.  That said, a hand held unit is more rugged and easier to carry.

GPS, in hand, you make your way to the specified location and try to locate the cache.  Keep in mind that consumer GPS units are typically only accurate within a few feet of a given location, so there is definitely some searching skills involved. In my opinion, that’s half the fun. Caches can be of various sizes, our first find was a military ammunition box.  Others have been camouflaged Tupperware and even peanut containers. Some caches are location caches where the originator wants you to see a great view or even a monument you may have walked by a thousand times.

Inside container caches there is a log book that you sign to confirm your find.  More importantly for my kids, there are small “trinkets” to be traded.  If you take something, you are supposed to leave something. Parents this is a phenomenal way to get rid of all those fast food toys.

Mim reaches for an empty plastic water bottle while I hold a trash bag.
Cache-In-Trash-Out (I carry trash bags and hand wipes)

The majority of caches are on public land, if one is on private property, it can only be placed with the owner’s consent and that fact will be noted in the description.  As a rule cachers try to be respectful, though there have been some caches that have been viewed as suspicious and investigated by police. Cachers also try to leave things better than they found them, the saying goes “Cache in, Trash Out” and we’ve collected a few trash bags of littler on our adventures.

After you find the cache, you return to the web site, log your find online and leave a comment or a photo about the find.

I love geocaching because it gets us out and moving as a family and it stokes my kids’ sense of adventure and curiosity.  At the same time, it gives them opportunities to practice problem-solving skills and be good environmental citizens. Most importantly, we have found locations that we otherwise might not have found.  The first day we were out, we found a series of walking trails 2 miles from our house that I had no idea even existed.

In New Hampshire, there are several active caching communities that frequently place new caches and maintain existing caches.  The Concord group even meet informally on a regular basis. Information on the events, called event caches, can be found on the geocaching web site.

Membership to geocaching.com is free, but a premium membership ($30 per year) supports the site and gets you added benefits like a listing of geocaches that can be found along a specified route.  Also a few rare caches are available only to premium members.

Me in a neon orange LL bean ball cap.
Our last trip was during deer season. Like my snazzy hat?

For what it is worth, we didn’t really get LOST lost, in our backyard. We just couldn’t turn around and follow the path from which we came.  We ended up making our way to the nearest road and came out about a mile from our house leaving us to walk back the long way. That said, I’m glad it happened as that one journey has launched many more

Take THAT mother Nature

A column of pictures Smells like snow logo on a t-shirt, One compressor, Some of the fittings, The snow gun in action, Mim sledding, Fish sledding

Despite getting off to a fantastic, albeit early, start this winter in New England has been very brown. It’s been cold enough for the ski areas to make snow, but there is nothing like a fresh coating from Mother Nature right outside your window to really get the blood pumping.

The last few years, my neighbors have thrown a sledding party to celebrate their daughter’s birthday. With temps in the 40’s on a fairly regularly basis, Mother Nature was threatening to squelch tradition. What is a father to do? He can’t let his little girl down on her birthday can he? No of course not! Especially when his neighbor (ahem A-Man) has sent him a link to detailed plans for making snow in your own backyard (literally).

http://www.instructables.com/id/Home-Snowmaker-Snowgun-internal-mix/

The necessary parts were acquired (it’s funny how we suddenly “needed” a new compressor and convenient that Tractor Supply had one on sale!) and a few nights before the party they set about putting the pieces together.

B and I sat and chatted while the men assembled the pieces. We heard the pressure washer fire up, but it was a false start. I looked over a few minutes later and squealed. Seriously, you’d think I’d never seen snow before. They did it! Two compressors, one pressure washer and a bunch of pipes and fittings later, it was snowing!

It ran for 10 hours a night for two nights and made enough snow to cover the hill the kids would use for sledding. It was not the luge of previous years, but it was fast and the kids loved it!

A-man said, it was worth it for the bragging rights alone. Way to go guys!!

 

How I Watched the Superbowl

In my glider, in front of the TV, feet up, laptop in my lap alternating between Facebook and Twitter.

In my glider, in front of the TV, feet up, laptop in my lap alternating between Facebook and Twitter. A-Man’s not a huge sports fan.  We tuned in because of Mim and the game was good enough we watched through to the bitter. end.  I had a blast watching the running commentary of friends and acquaintances (is that how you refer to someone you’ve exchanged a handfull of tweets with on Twitter?). I enjoy sports, but really only in a community environment.  I really got a kick watching the game with my virtual companions.

The Superbowl and The Seven Year Old

Mim was ALL about the Patriots this year.  “You know, he just likes football because of his friends.” His sister said.  Oh yes, I knew that, but still, it was fun to be a part of his excitement. I have fond memories of family time when the Eagles were in the Superbowl and more importantly when the Phillies won the World Series in 1980.

I had planned a quick dinner so we could eat before the game, but at 4pm he came to me asking for a snuggle so we could talk about snacks.  You see, snacks are very important to the Superbowl.  We agreed that popcorn would be a good choice and maybe some kind of chocolate.  We discussed the evening routine and how he should shower before dinner so he wouldn’t miss any of the game.  All of this in a reverent tone worthy of a discussion of the Nobel Prize.  It was hard to keep a straight face.

Despite her disdain for football, Fish pulled Mim aside just before kickoff and wrote GO on one cheek and PATS on the other with face paint.  He beamed as he took his seat in front of the TV. She beat feet to her room.

Mim watching the talking heads at the beginning of the game.As the game progressed, A-Man and I tried to offer some instruction of football basics.  Yeah, explaining the safety was fun. He was so cute to watch, occasionally rooting for the Giants by mistake.  When we’d tell him the play wasn’t good for the Pats, he’d say, “but it was still a good play.” Yay for good sportsmanship buddy!

The Superbowl used start at a reasonable hour and end early enough that you could let a child watch the whole game.  Not so any more.  Given the late start, Mim only got to watch the first half and given the outcome, I am really glad. This is a kid who sobbed for forty-five minutes when NorthShore, his favorite group was voted off of The Sing Off.  I wasn’t looking forward to telling him that the Giants were the Superbowl Champions this morning. There was sadness, but he bounced back pretty quickly. I hope it always stays that way, momentary excitement and quick sadness. After all, it is only a game.

 

Dennis’ Rosemary Roasted Chicken

When Dennis and my mom first met, he worked 9-5 and she worked 11-7. That meant that he frequently cooked dinner for us. He had a few misadventures, like Steak Miraculous, and the time he used olive oil in a gourmet chocolate cake recipe, but in general he was a decent cook. High praise coming from a kid who was a ridiculously picky eater.

He had one recipe for fried chicken he refused to share. He would pontificate about going to a local hiking trail at just the right time, to acquire the necessary spices for his fried chicken, but refused to give me the recipe. I swear it was a mix, but he took it with him to his grave. Bastard! *ahem*

A roaster, garlic, rosemary and lemon.However, he did share his roasted chicken recipe and today, I’ll share it with you. Dennis was not an exact cook. He was more of the little of this, little of that mindset, so my measurements aren’t specific.

Ingredients

  • 1 roasting chicken – I am feeding two adults and two kids (also picky eaters), and I like to have leftover chicken, so I go with a 6 or 7 pound bird. Pick a size that suits your family and adjust the seasoning and cooking times to meet your needs.
  • Fresh Garlic – (for my bird I will used 4 or 5 heads, because garlic yumm!).
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary – Fresh is fantastic (you’ll need more), but typically, I only have dried and that works fine.
  • Lemon – I have used oranges and even apples in a pinch. The point is to provide moisture to the white meat while it cooks.

Roasted Garlic Fresh from the oven, Garlic cloves with rosemary, the bird prepped and ready to cook

 

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove the loose papery skins from the heads of garlic and slice off the pointy end.
  • Nestle in a bowl made out of tin foil and cover with a healthy dose of Olive Oil. Pinch together the edges to seal.
  • Place the packet in the oven on the center shelf and bake for 45-60 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the garlic cool. I try and do this in the morning while I’m getting the kids ready for school and then just leave it to cool during the day.
  • When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove the garlic from the pouch and squeeze the garlicy goodness out of the skins into a bowl.
  • Add some rosemary. I usually use about 1-2 teaspoons of dried rosemary depending on how much garlic I have. If you are using fresh rosemary you’ll have to add double what you’d add if you were using dried.
  • Add a splash of olive oil and mash together until you have a moist paste.
  • Wash the chicken and pat dry inside and out.
  • Use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the flesh (but don’t remove it completely).
  • Slice the lemon into quarters and stuff it in the cavity. You can sprinkle the lemon with dried rosemary or stick a sprig or two of fresh on top of the lemons in the cavity.
  • Take the garlic rosemary paste and slide it between the skin and the flesh rubbing it into the meat as you go. Smooth more on the outside of the skin especially in places where you can’t separate the skin from the flesh. Try and touch the whole exterior of the bird. If you have leftovers, you can massage it into the inside of the cavity.
  • Place chicken on a roasting rack in a pan and place on the center rack and roast according to package directions. I go for 350 degrees for 20 minutes per pound.

Usually I serve it with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Enjoy! Oh and if you have a recipe for Bowman’s Tower Fried Chicken, please share it. 😉

The roasted bird in all its mouthwatering glory.
The roasted bird in all its mouthwatering glory.

Whew!

'Girls running in B&W' photo (c) 2010, Mark Hesseltine - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/I’ve heard it said, “Life is a Marathon, not a sprint.” I agree, that this is true, but any distance runner will tell you there are times when you just have to sprint to get through it. This weekend was my sprint.

Five days as a single parent

  • Two snow days
  • One holiday
  • Two weekend days of subzero temperatures

One semi-regular occurrence of frozen pipes. Not in my house, but in my purview.

Stops at L.L. Bean, Books-A-Million, Walmart (my own personal hell), the farmer’s market, the bank and Toys ‘R Us.

Fifteen meals

Two dogs, 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Four karate classes

Some fun, like an afternoon skiing and tubing, playing some games and making homemade soup and bread.

I DID IT!

And, other than the small stain on the carpet where one dog puked up said chocolate chips, there was no damage done.

Don’t mistake this as complaining per se.  I know I am blessed and that right at this very minute people are running marathons that are far tougher than mine.  I’m just taking a few minutes to celebrate my personal victory.

Here we go!

Well, hello there! How are you?

Sorry to have been away for so long. Christmas was great and we had a great New Year’s Eve with friends. My 2012 began with a  7 year old sobbing my arms “I’m going to MISS 2011!! There are too many good memories.”

Santa brought me a new iMac and I spend much of last week getting that set up and my office cleaned out. It was one of the few rooms passed over in the great purge of 2011.

I took about an hour last Tuesday and completed this worksheet from Susannah Conway (Hat Tip to Jennifer Louden for the link on Facebook)  I found it provided a valuable perspective on 2011 and allowed me to plan for 2012. My word is commitment.

I have make three commitments to myself for 2012.

  1. I will lose ten pounds.
  2. I will build a writing practice (that will ultimately lead to a book). I did a good job in 2011 posting here regularly and I have several snippets of books in play. It is time to commit the time to finish the first drafts so there is something to edit.
  3. I will find a financial planner and get our retirement funds in order.

One week in I’ve made some progress. I’ve signed up for Sparks People, downloaded the app to my phone and started tracking my intake and exercise. tracking what I ate worked before, it is time to commit and do it again. I’ve also sent inquiries to a few people looking for recommendations for a fee-for-service financial planner. I don’t have a lot of leads yet, but it’s a start.

Today, I’m starting to build my writing practice. I’m trying to carve out the mornings for writing and afternoon for life management activities. Everyone knows that a mom’s life is not her own from 3pm until 8pm weeknights. It’s going to take some work on my part to put my writing first, but it is important to me so it’s time to make it happen.

That’s what’s new from here.

What are you plans for 2012?

 

 

 

Oh the guilt!

ETA I no sooner finished this post when I hear about Amazon’s Price Check app and their latest promotion. I’m really disappointed in Amazon. I’ll have more to say in a future post.

Three different views of the Kindle 3GRecently my friend Cammy and I made our annual trip to the local Main Street Holiday Celebration. My friend and I strolled the street, shopped and enjoyed the discounts, the atmosphere and a fantastic cup of hot chocolate! Our last stop was a quick trek into our local, independently owned, bookstore. As we passed through the door I averted my eyes and generally tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I felt like a lapsed Catholic walking into a church. Please don’t let lightening strike me down.

My name is Lee and I am an e-book reader, exclusively and I feel REALLY guilty. I believe in the power of the small business I’ve owned several small businesses myself I understand the need, the drive, the desire to make your own way through this world. Books are so wonderful, I truly can’t imagine a better product to bring to the marketplace.

As a kid I remember Paperback Booksmith, the bookstore at our local mall or as I knew it Nirvana. I could get lost in the young adult section in the back left corner for hours. The walls were lined floor-to-ceiling with dark wood shelving and the wood floors creaked when you walked on them. The cashier looked down upon customers from on high and was The Oracle of Knowledge with regards to what was available and what was out-of-print.

College and graduate school took a major toll on my pleasure reading. After grad school when I was working and had the time to read, the mega-bookstore had emerged. I was lured by the giant selection never mind that I had no interest in a 400 page retrospective of the hub cap (does anyone really?). There were books lots of books oh my! Then came marriage and motherhood and that huge time suck that is parenting. By the time I came out of the haze of diaper changes and sleep deprivation Amazon.com had firmly entrenched itself in the public psyche and the psyche of one very tired overwhelmed mother who relished the idea of good books inexpensively delivered right to her door.

Before I knew it, I’d fallen in with the herd mentality and independent books stores were paying the price with their balance sheets. Still, I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted to. It was too much work and much of what I wanted to read was not available in large print. Then came the Kindle. That was probably the final nail in the coffin of the independent bookseller for me. The Kindle rocks my world. I’m visually impaired and small print has always been a problem. The Kindle changed all that. Within the 1st year of receiving my first Kindle read more books than the previous 5 years combined. I could read. I could read a lot without eye strain, and it was good.

Oh, but the guilt! As traditional publishing has floundered and Amazon has assimilated itself in almost every nook and cranny of our collective retail consciousness, the independent bookseller has struggled. I buy local when and where I can but I can’t extend that thinking to my bookshelves. With very few exceptions if it’s not available on the Kindle I don’t read it. This is especially true now that I’m in my mid-forties and short arm syndrome has set in (a rant for another post). I need the flexibility of being able to enlarge the font and the reduce eye strain.

To independent bookstore owners everywhere, I’m sorry, really, I am.

Sunrise

Sunrise taken with an iPhone 4s
Taken with an iPhone 4S

 

Sunrise Taken with a Canon Rebel T2i
Taken with a Canon Rebel T2i

 

To be fair, the shots were taken a few minutes apart, and the color scheme was changing rapidly.  I also have NO clue what settings the DSLR was set to as it was 6:40am and I hadn’t had my tea yet.  Still, amazingly beautiful.