Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Giving Thanks, A Daily Practice

When you get to hang out with your soulmate every day and explore cool natural areas near and far, you can't help but feel that giving thanks needs to be a daily practice! We wish the same for you...whatever it is that speaks to your soul.

Our favorite Mohican State Park spoiled us in beauty on a recent hike.

You really just can't beat the fall foliage of deciduous hardwoods:

Turkey tail fungus - always one of our favorite forest finds:

Christmas fern, hepatica, oak leaves and moss - the forest floor is a wonderous foundation for so much life:

Nature is fascinating at all scales:

Soaring raptors - a universal source of inspiration. As we sat by the clear watered river and charted our life direction we felt such gratitude for this visit from a Bald Eagle.

Rotting wood - inspiration for early cartographers?

Nature's palate (why art imitates nature):

Vireo nest - certainly a safe and cozy home hidden amongst the many leaves of late spring and summer:

Witchhazel flower - little rays of sunshine:

Happy Thanksgiving to All, Everywhere!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Stuff from Junk: Arbor and Foot Path

Making do with space you have and cleaning out extra stuff always creates fodder for new projects. Some cracked tree cookies too thin for Steve' tree cookie stools make a natural pathway.

A newly cleaned out and organized wood shop makes creating so much easier. Steve whipped out an arbor for our garden using some old wood ladders and various other wood scraps that would have ended up on the burn pile otherwise.

Countersinking and pre-drilling prevents splitting on hardwood boards. Steve is still using up screws we salvaged from one of the many trash piles when we moved here in 2010.

And, here's the sweet gem as she goes up!

Just imagine a flowering vine on there next summer while we wait for the hops to fill in...charming! What did this cost us? Nothing, but an hour of our time. The amount of stuff around all of us already - just waiting to be used is pretty overwhelming when you start noticing it. We are working to think creatively about the waste stream and the role we can play in tempering it a bit, while making something beautiful and useful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Carrots and Horseradish: Two Hardy (& delicious) Root Crops

This year has been one crazy year with the start of our small business and all that entails so we are grateful for this extended fall and what it is allowing us to accomplish with the many, many things we put off in lieu of something else just a tad more pressing.

We've had several good freezes and frosts, but that doesn't hurt carrots so they sat in the ground till this past week when I dug them and put them in buckets to store in our basement root cellar. We put them in damp sand last year as instructed by many and that worked fine for preserving them, but the extras I put in a bucket lasted just fine too - and were much easier to work with - so bucket storing is now our preferred method. Digging through cold, wet sand is not so fun in my opinion.

I harvested lots of horseradish root this year because we love it so, so much. The warm, breezy day I processed these allowed me to open the windows so I didn't get overwhelmed with the potent fumes. After washing and peeling, I used the food processor to grate these roots into nice flakes. I'm so grateful for that machine!

I added a little vinegar to each batch to help preserve the potency and a dash of salt. You can add water to make it more smooth and creamy if you like, but we like it just as pictured. We are putting this on almost everything right now and just love it. I remember my first experience with horseradish in elementary school when I breathed through my nose after a big sample. Yikes! I froze the six half pints so we will see how long this amount lasts us. Old Timer wisdom says you can harvest horseradish in any month with an R in its name.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Incredible Gift of Leaves

We are so grateful for the annual leaf fall. By this time of year, our beds really need some mulching and the eventual nutrients from the decomposition of the leaves. Each year, for FREE, we get this incredible delivery of one of the best mulches.

Our favorite method for moving the leaves around is a rake and a tarp. We don't have a leaf blower and we prefer the quiet and physical activity associated with the humble rake. Our tarp of choice is medium in size so we can haul a good load of leaves, but not get it too heavy to drag. (Neither of our backs are getting any younger, though yoga Sun Salutations really, really help.)

Our front yard red maple makes a stunning mulch.

We leave most all our perennials standing until spring so we can enjoy their form and interesting seed structures, while also feeding the birds through the winter naturally. As a side benefit, this vegetation helps hold the leaves in place.

Our little Ninebark really benefits from the conserved moisture thanks to these leaves since the sun and the wind dry the soil much more slowly when it is protected. This past week we finally received a great rain - 2.5" over 24 hours so when I pull these leaves back, the soil is moist. Yay!

We have native Aster and Purple Coneflower blooming on 11/4.  These plants are just teeming with nectar seekers on warm days illustrating the incredible importance of late season blooms. They are mighty pretty look at too.