Hudson Valley Dreaming

Did everyone spend their weekend watching Season 2 of Stranger Things, or just us? It’s such a great, end-of-October show to immerse yourself in before the tricks and treats come out.

We were also lucky enough to spend time walking along the Rondout in Kingston last weekend and taking in the fall foliage.

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Miss Bindi loves walking on the Strand.

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I thought dad was perfect for this one!

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Bindi looooooves sticks, of all shapes and sizes!

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Now we are prepping for tonight’s festivities and grateful for the cooler temperatures since we’ve been back from New York. I’m excited to spend time relaxing with friends tonight while the big kids help the smaller kids fill their bags with lots of candy (they always give me their Almond Joys!!!).

I hope everyone has a safe, spooky, and fun Halloween!

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Rhinebeck 2017

Another year, another Sheep & Wool festival.  Though precious little changes from year to year, it’s precisely that known-ness that brings us back. If it’s autumn, it’s time to see the familiar sights and smell the familiar smells we can only get from the Hudson Valley. The smell of woodsmoke mixed with the tang of apple cider and fried donuts on the breeze, the brightly-colored trees all around, and the sounds of baaing from the barns. We’ve come to rely on these things as part of our year, and though the weather was less than cooperative (it was far too warm out and by noon most of us had shed any and all woolens we had worked so diligently to complete in time to show off) it was still a solid success.

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Probably wins my award for best handknit at the whole damn festival.

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These honeybear hats were super cute, though.

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Look at that beautiful wheel!

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This little cutie tagged along with us for awhile. One of my oldest friends, Janet, met us at the fair and brought along a friend and her daughter.

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BFL roving that Emily bought for me. I tend to always get these same colors!

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Since I always tend toward the autumn colors, I decided to get away from that when visiting my friend Lisa Check at her Flying Goat Farm booth. Not only is she one of my favorite people, she is a dyeing dynamo. I have mad envy of her color skills!

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Finally, I grabbed a few samples of roving from Delly’s Delights, which is, amusingly enough, located just a few miles from us in Virginia.

Hopefully this will keep me happily spinning for awhile (though really I have probably 100’s of pounds of my own fleece I should work on washing, carding, and spinning!).

As we were leaving we stopped by the apple cider booth (run by a Hudson Valley orchard) and ordered some fresh cider and cider donuts. Oona wanted the cider shake, which i assumed would be like a slushy. It was actually fresh cider blended with french vanilla ice cream. It. Was. Divine.  It was like apple pie a la mode in a cup. I’m going to have to try and replicate it at home. As for the cider donuts, well. Let me just say that I’ve gotten used to the offerings here in the south, and I had forgotten just how a true cider donut is supposed to taste. I remembered once I took my first bite. If there’s one thing New York State does well, it’s apples. And Sheep Festivals.

 

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.

 

Rhinebeck 2016

Once again, we had a whirlwind weekend in New York attending the annual Sheep & Wool Festival and visiting family.

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I loved these little felted guys!

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I think these little yetis were my favorite thing this year.

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I really wish this hadn’t come out blurry. This llama really liked my dad!

In completely unrelated news, all three girls agree we need either another llama or an alpaca.

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A Herdy! They had Herdwick sheep there!!! Isn’t she gorgeous?

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The Peruvian folk band, in their usual spot.

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Love this Angora goat!

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We didn’t buy a whole lot this year; Neve was saving for other things she wanted, and Emily and Oona and I had trouble deciding among all pf the amazing things for sale! (though if I hadn’t had such a long drive home I just might have bought an Angora rabbit!)

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I did manage to snag some lovely dyed roving to play with, though! This one is a Cormo/Silk blend.

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The yellow/green/orange Blue Faced Leicester reminds me of the mixed vegetables from childhood that came frozen in a block.

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This purple and red blend is Finnsheep.

Oona and Emily each got yarn and hats, but I was unable to photograph them before they took off with them, eager to start their own projects!

Lastly, these lovelies are now mine:

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I can’t wait to get to work with all of my new toys!

 

 

Escape!

There have been several escapes going on here lately. Firstly, the unintended escape from this blog I apparently had!  I have no real excuse, other than it’s summer, and busy, and yet somehow lazy at the same time.

I’ve also started working very part-time for friends who opened a new business downtown. It hardly feels like work; being in a fun place with your best friends makes the time fly and feel more like you’re socializing than working. It’s my next “escape” that’s been going on: Cville Escape Room. Have you ever been to an escape room? I never had. There are three rooms so far, each with a unique, completely immersive theme. When I’m there, I’m typically greeting people and re-setting the rooms after a group has “escaped”. It has gotten me out of the house and downtown a bit, which is my favorite part of Charlottesville.

My third escape? Book club weekend in Virginia Beach! Believe it or not, my camera didn’t come out with me this time. I felt the pictures were getting redundant, and I always worry about sand and saltwater getting in it and mucking it up. But, I do wish I had captured a group image this year, because we have two new members: Victoria and Maddie. Maddie! Yes, she’s finally official, and finally legal to come with us. And I couldn’t be happier, because she’s recently made an escape of her own. She and John moved into their own place up near D.C., where they’ve both got wonderful jobs. I’m so proud of her and how far she’s come.

But what about farm life, you ask?

The garden has done quite well this year, despite the massive amounts of rain drowning everything.

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Bumper crop of cucumbers, anyone? Before the dreaded wild morning glory weeds choked them out while I was away, the cucumber plants went mad with production power. So much so, that I have more pickles than I will ever need, have been eating them daily for lunch, and didn’t care when they were finally taken over.

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A mere fraction of what is in my fridge.

The zucchini and yellow squash didn’t fare quite as well; the squash bugs made a comeback mid-season. But, I did get enough of both to make it a success anyway.

The tomatoes have been the real disappointment. We had hundreds of fruit set on the vines and then we had several damaging issues. First, deer jumped the fence and trampled the plants, stealing many of the green tomatoes right off the vine. Then, the rain came and made the ground super soggy, causing a lot of wilt. And third, tomatoes in general are very late this year for everyone. So although I still have several healthy plants, the tomatoes are still very green and not wanting to ripen. I’ve gotten a mere handful of red ones.

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Better than nothing, right? I do still count them as a success, because I managed to do everything right: the soil, the mulch, the diatomaceous earth. If not for deer, rain, and mother nature, I’d have more than I could handle.

Then there’s the pumpkin patch. It’s gone insane. HUNDREDS of orange pumpkins. I needed the tractor to carry them all up to the house. Then I spent two damn days washing them in bleach solution to keep them preserved. In addition, I’ve pulled a dozen giant white flat pumpkins, several blue jarrahdale pumpkins, 6 big, beautiful butternut squash, and 2 giant acorn squash. The squash bugs and vine borers got to the field mid-season as well, and since the squash flowers were blooming and buzzing with pollinators, I didn’t want to treat for pests.

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The pigs have enjoyed quite a lot of pumpkins that I couldn’t save from the bugs.

The dogs, sheep, and goats are trying their best to fend of the humidity and the flies. Despite many generous applications of fly repellent and ointments, poor Sabine’s ear is rather raw. She’s gotten squirrely on me now, and if she sees me with anything at all in my hand, she won’t let me near her. She’ll be happy once fly season is done.

Piper is recovering from getting her foot stuck in the joint of a tree trunk. She’d been stuck there all day when I found her, and it took some doing to get her freed. Her skin above her ankle tore down to the bone (it’s very thin there anyway), but she was patient as I cleaned her up and got her sewn back together. The wound itself is now cleanly healed, though she’s had some secondary swelling in her hoof off and on. She’s walking just fine again, regardless.  My main concern is flystrike for everyone, though, so we’ve been keeping a vigilant eye out. I still get no shortage of enjoyment out of seeing them out there every day, and coming to the fence to beg for treats.

And, of course, I can’t help but try to infect everyone else with my enthusiasm for my fibery babies.

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An Edinburgh State of Mind

Maybe it’s because at this time last year we were gearing up to go to Edinburgh. Maybe it’s because right now the weather is rainy and cool and it reminds me of our time there.

Either way, I’ve been missing Edinburgh a lot recently.

Since I can’t just hop on a plane and go back right now, I figured the next best thing would be eating like I’m there.

On our second full day we had lunch at The Edinburgh Larder Cafe, right off The Royal Mile.

It. Was. Amazing.

It had been on our itinerary thanks to Pinterest. I’d spent quite a lot of time pre-trip researching the best non-touristy places to visit and eat, and this place had come up as a local favorite while still being close enough to where we’d be that day. It was a rather bitter and windy day, and Neve was particularly grumpy about it. The Larder’s warm and cozy interior was such a welcome respite.

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Neve was so grateful for it she wanted to camp there all day.

I wish I could remember what Neve and Maddie ordered, because they were both very happy, but honestly I can only remember the deliciousness that was my order: Curried Potato and Pea Pasty.

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It came with a side salad and some red cabbage slaw. So good. With some HP Sauce and a Thistly Cross Cider, are you kidding me? Tastebud heaven.

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Since we’ve been back stateside, this has become a staple dinner item for us.

You don’t need a really specific recipe for it, since it’s so simple. But this basically nails it:

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To make a big batch for my family (and everyone here eats at least 4), I boil up a whole bag of potatoes and mash them with butter and cream.   Then I throw in salt and curry powder to taste. Then I throw in some frozen peas. They don’t need to be thawed, since the mixture will end up in the oven.

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I use two packages of Puff pastry.  You could make your own, but it’s an awful lot of effort.

I roll each sheet out so that I can cut 9 to 12 equal squares out.

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Each square gets a spoonful of the potato mix and some eggwash to seal it up.

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Fold it over, brush with more eggwash, and pop a cookie sheet of them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden.

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Don’t forget the HP Sauce!

 

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.