Gearing Up For Christmas

We are finally starting to really feel some of the holiday spirit we’ve been needing. I won’t give all the credit to gluhwein and egg nog, but it certainly hasn’t hurt!

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Everyone loves the tree!  It feels magical at night with the tree lights and the heady scent of fresh pine. If only we’d get some snow, to complete the effect.

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We’ve only just begun our cookie baking in earnest, and I’m definitely feeling the crunch. We’ve managed to get some pfeffernusse done today and I’m working on linzer cookies next. Tomorrow I’ll put the kids to work making the iced cookies.

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Oona’s been working on her Christmas gift knitting in between devouring chapters of Harry Potter.  She’s completely obsessed right now, and I couldn’t be happier. I told Paul that since she was too young to really appreciate Harry Potter World when we went to Universal Studios that we’ll have to taker her again!

Tonight we are watching It’s A Wonderful Life while I frantically work on more cookies, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

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Walkway Over the Hudson

On Sunday my stepmother suggested we head over to the Walkway Over the Hudson, an old rail bridge re-purposed into a pedestrian walkway over the Hudson River. I’d been wanting to see it for quite some time, and since we could bring their new dog, Bindi, as well as my stepbrother and niece, I was all in.

The Hudson Valley really is a breathtaking place. So much of it speaks directly to my heart; a few days spent in the land of my youth is like a healing balm for my soul.

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Though the leaves weren’t yet at peak, they were far more colorful than what we’d left behind in Virginia.

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Sweet little Bindi. She’s an 8 month-old Red Heeler, and the friendliest little thing you’ll ever meet.

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Normally I have a fear of bridges that span bodies of water; the walkway didn’t bother me one bit, though.

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Those leaves!!!

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After we hiked over the bridge and back, dad came with the kids and I on a short trip down memory lane past one of our old houses, and on down to Kingston Point Beach and Hasbrouck Park to see the view.

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The old Hutton brick factory.

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Heart-shaped brick!

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Neve took lots of pictures of the gulls.

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This is the view from my parents’ condo. The kids are mad jealous.

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As for me, I’m mad jealous of this tree. I’d love one just like it in my front yard.

Now that we are home the kids are sad to see the leaves here aren’t very colorful (to be fair, we usually are a few weeks behind here with our leaves) and are ready to move back north. I’m feeling refreshed and revived and connected with my family again. Tomorrow it’s back to school and the normal routines, but I’m hoping my bubble of contentedness lasts for awhile longer.

 

Who Turned the Heat Back On?

After we got used to some absolutely beautiful, crisp, autumn weather, we are back into the mid-seventies now.  We all feel like we are roasting alive!

All of the soups, stews, and warming foods we had planned seem downright ridiculous now.

So do all of the holiday decorations I am seeing going up everywhere.

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The sheep have been chasing the shade all around the field. They’re not fans of the heat, either. It means there are still too many flies around.

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I’ve also had to turn the air conditioning back on; in the fall and winter the back of our house (which is all windows) gets direct sunlight the ENTIRE day. It’s great when it’s cold out. Not so much when it’s unseasonably warm.

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The kittens, Poppet and Widget, are settling in nicely. We had them separated for awhile we we awaited their FIV/Feline leukemia tests, and also because they were so tiny we worried about the dogs stepping on them.

They’re still pretty darn small, but they’re learning to navigate us a bit.

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They LOVE the dogs, and Cini, especially, loves them.

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Widget is only slightly larger than Cini’s paw.

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Had to throw in this picture Neve took of Oona playing in the leaves!

A nasty cold virus has been making its rounds here for weeks now, and we are trudging along trying to get through it.

I’ve been occupied with new knitting; not only did I cast on a pair of socks, but I’ve also started swatching for my next Shepherd sweater AND an additional sweater pattern called “Chimney Fire”.  I couldn’t help myself! After Rhinebeck, i want to knit all the things!

Bring back the cold weather!

Hudson Valley Weekend Part 2: Barton’s Orchard

The thing about Sunday was the weather.

Neve and I were very much looking forward to a day at a Hudson Valley apple orchard, spending time with my stepmother and aunt, taking pictures and enjoying hot apple cider and cider doughnuts, and hearing my dad’s band.

Well……..

We did get to do those things, but not as much as we had hoped, and Neve was downright miserable and grumpy.

Because this happened:

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Snow. On October 19.

We had brought sweaters and coats and winter accessories, but we never imagined it would actually snow. And, in all honesty, it didn’t bother me all that much. But the cold took hold of Neve and turned her into a grumpasaurus in the same way it did when we were in Scotland. I could have easily managed it and stayed for the entire day, but we were forced to bail early lest Neve freeze entirely.

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During the brief moments of sun we visited the animal enclosures and pet the goats and mini ponies.

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You could buy handfuls of grain to feed the goats and alpacas. I can’t imagine this at home; my animals would be suffering from extreme bloat!

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The band played all day despite the weather. Good thing they had a covered stage!

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Neve perked up a little when we got her back to the house; she even grabbed my camera and went out for some pictures.

My father and stepmother live in a townhouse overlooking the Rondout canal, and the views are spectacular.

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I think she captured some really nice images!

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Neve fell fully in love with the scenery, as I always have. I really need a good week or more to re-explore the area and capture all of the beauty.

On our way out of town we stocked up on birch beer (can’t get that down here), and Keegan Ales’ “Mother’s Milk” stout for Paul and I.

Many hours of driving later we were home, and despite the time it takes to get there, I really need to get back there more often.

Hudson Valley Weekend, Part 1: Rhinebeck

Sorry it’s taken so long to post this. Although I brought my computer with me, it died the first day. And by “it died”, I mean I now need a new computer.

Sad face!

Only Neve ended up making the trek north with me; Emily was anxious about leaving the animals, and Oona was torn over not being with the new kittens for that many days.

It’s been many years since I was in the Hudson Valley for fall; I think perhaps last time was for Rhinebeck as well. I love the feeling of going home and seeing all the familiar things.  This time I had one of my children with me, and she has a new understanding of how and why I get homesick so often.

As for Neve, she was gobsmacked by the festival. She’s been to the Montpelier Fiber Festival, but really, it can’t hold a candle to the size of Rhinebeck.  The crush of people, the sheer amount of all things fiber, the food, the trees. What an incredible reminder of why I love this world.

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I was thrilled to be able to meet up with some of the Juniper Moon Farm aunties and friends, and also lucky enough to run into a few other people, like Virginia from Gather Here (who recognized me first, and I’m glad she did, because I was so off in my own world I would’ve walked right by and missed her), and the always delightful Pam Wynne, who was sporting a windfall new capelet she will soon be releasing a pattern for on Ravelry.

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We couldn’t get over the felted pumpkins, so we bought two. I really need to learn needle felting!

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All of the alpacas and llamas made us miss Jerry. He was such a butthead, but such a character.  In the future I wouldn’t mind a smaller alpaca; Paul might kill me.

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I think Neve will do great if we can get her into shearing school in the spring!

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This lady looks just like our Border Leicesters.

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I cannot get over how big some of the sheep were. It’s not an exaggeration to say some were the size of small ponies.

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I bought Neve her very own crook.

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Maple cotton candy is an absolute must.

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We loved these felted lamb ears!

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Neve spotted her yarn!

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Neve has decided she needs a Shetland sheep of her very own, and I have decided we really need to do this every year.

Sweet Stuff

Have you seen Magic Custard Cake????

Alicia Paulson blogged about it recently and I just had to try it. And now, you should, too!

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So creamy and delicious!

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I’ve made it twice now; my family keeps asking for more! It was super easy, and though I was sure it wasn’t going to turn out properly either time, it “magically” did.

Speaking of sweets, Oona turned 8 this past Friday.  As usual, she requested a Carvel ice cream cake. She decorated it herself, and where Neve usually writes “Treat Yo Self” or similar on her cakes, Oona wrote “This cake is MINE”.

Can’t say I blame her – those things are so terribly good (and bad for you!).

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You see the size of that thing? She has eaten almost all of it now – two days later – on her own. We all have some of it on Friday, but she has claimed it all for herself since. I told her to enjoy it, because at this rate I’m going to withhold all sugar from her until Halloween!

The news I am particularly happy to share, however, is that I finished the second sleeve of my Shepherd Sweater!

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I am now working steadily on the hood. In fact, I’ve done precious little else all weekend. My needles are on fire!

Another Beach Trip In The Books

One last summer getaway, and now I’m back.  Local schools started up again yesterday, and though we aren’t starting until after labor day, I’ve realized just how precious little time I have to enjoy summer’s remainder and finish my before-school tasks.

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I did get to put my toes in the water before the “Hazardous Water” warnings went up.  Friday the beach and the water were perfect, but Saturday and Sunday we simply sat and watched the waves, as the red flags warning of rip currents were up.  We couldn’t believe how many people were still swimming. Worse than that, how many little kids were playing in the dangerous surf. The news yesterday ran a story that lifeguards rescued 22 people from the waters on Sunday. Crazy!

Despite that, we enjoyed our time immensely and it was just the respite I needed.

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Look at those beach colors!  I want to knit with those colors.  Time to go stash diving!

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Looking down to Gabi and Theresa.

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Laura enjoying the breeze

The great thing about our beach trip each year is that we’ve been there enough times now to know where to eat, what’s fun to do, and how we”re going to manage it all.  Our traditions mean we don’t have to think too much or worry about planning.  We can simply enjoy our time together.

It’s also, apparently, Neve’s signal to herself that summer can be over and we can start doing “fall” things.  That kid.

I’m not ready to give up summer, though. There’s more swimming to be done, more marshmallows to roast, more fresh pesto to eat, more mornings to sleep in.

Slow down, August!