Pumpkin Patch Time

Monday night was pumpkin patch time with my little punkins...all four of the world's cutest grandkids!

It's this little one's first autumn, and he's looking mighty cute!

Rainy Autumn Baking Day

Rain, rain, and more rain fell on New England last night and intermittently throughout the day today. The sky was full of swirling leaves falling like so many enormous, golden snowflakes. I always love the sparkle of the raindrops on the windows and the hazy image of the vibrant leaves beyond.

It seemed like a perfect day for baking! 

Lately, our family has been enjoying some homemade biscotti in a variety of flavors. My personal favorite is almond biscotti. Click here for the link to the recipe I've been using. It's a keeper! The guys like it dipped in their coffee. And Colette and I like to dip it in hot cocoa.

Wattle Fence Stored for the Winter

This summer, Colette spent many, many hours making wattle fencing for around each of our garden beds. We loved the definition it gave the garden and the charm it added.

But lurking in the back of my mind was the coming winter. The fencing would have to be removed. The thought of all that work being undone was a bit heartbreaking. But Saturday was the day set aside to put the garden to bed for the winter, and the time had come.

The upright stakes pulled out of the ground easily and were stored in bushel baskets.

The branches were separated between the long ones (that ran to the corners of the garden) and the short ones, and bundled and tied and stored in the shed for the winter.

We're happy that the branches can be used again. And we're even mulling over the idea of using the long branches upright in the front porch urns with Christmas lights entwined come December.

Autumn Gatherings

The weather has been so lovely of late that I try to take a walk nearly every day. Cool crisp air making it necessary for just a lightweight jacket, but allowing for brisk walking without working up a sweat. The roadsides are thick with fallen leaves, windfall apples, and the occasional acorn neglected by the local squirrels. This pretty bouquet of leaves, all contained on a single stem, was scooped up just before I returned home...a little momento of another autumn walk.

Sabbath Rest

"When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free,
For God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me."

- William B. Bradbury (1859)

The Withered Garden

The garden, which was simply fabulous in its production this year, is done. One recent evening, with overnight temperatures below freezing, all the leaves died, hanging brown and forlorn come dawn. And last night was another one of those exceptionally cold autumn nights. As I let the dog out this morning, and stood shivering in the open doorway, I couldn't help but think there's a bit of beauty left in the garden with the early morning light adding a transparency to the thin leaves.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;"
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

But herbs are born of heartier stock, for the parsley, chives, and sage live on, despite being covered in frost this morn.

Hudson's Golden Gem

I like to try out new (to me) heirloom apples from local orchards. We're so accustomed to having a choice of maybe eight different apple varieties at our local supermarkets. But in past centuries, there were thousands of varieties from which to choose. I have the greatest admiration for the orchardists who nurture and propagate these rare apples for their preservation for future generations.

This autumn, I discovered one with which I'm completely smitten! It's called Hudson's Golden Gem.

It's skin is not tough, but is slightly textured. It's quite round in shape. It's nice and crisp. And best of all, it tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear! My apple reference book even says that in a blind taste test, it can be mistaken for a pear. It's good for: eating, pie, and cider.

Ask around and see if one of your local orchards grow Hudson's Golden Gem. If you live in New Hampshire, you can find them at Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, and Gould Hill Orchard in Contoocook...and probably more, but at least those orchards. Happy apple picking!

A Chill Autumn Day in Boston

On the last day that our friend from The Merry Hearth was with us, we drove into Boston to do a whirlwind tour of some of our favorite sites. After parking beneath Boston Common (did you know there's a parking lot under all that grass?), we caught the subway to the North End. 

We didn't want to walk all of the Freedom Trail, Boston's famous trail that winds through the city's most historic places, but just hit a few of the highlights. Walking shoes on. Ready to go!

There we visited the Old North Church, from whose belfry the lanterns hung the night of Paul Revere's famous ride.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

The North End of Boston is where the Irish settled during their great wave of immigration to the United States. And eventually, they were displaced there by the Italians, who still occupy it in a most delicious way...the aroma of garlic, Italian restaurants and grocers, gelato places, and a bustling conviviality pervades all. Mike's Pastry is one of those delicious places, where, I must confess, we had desert before lunch...Mike's famous cannolis.

Then we continued following the Freedom Trail (in reverse) through many streets, crowds of Saturday visitors, and traffic back to our starting place and beyond to the quiet, quaint streets of Beacon Hill. We took our time admiring the classic architecture of this sanctuary in the bustling city.

We had a late lunch at Figs in Beacon Hill. Then, with the sunshine slanting low across the city, we strolled through the Public Garden, saying "hi" to the Make Way for Ducklings statues.

We popped in a coffeehouse on Newbury Street and a couple of shops, including the Ralph Lauren store.

The girls paused for a picture at Trinity Church in Copley Square.

This is my favorite picture of the day. There's something really charming about a queue for chocolate...especially when it's out the door!

We had such a wonderful time with our friend, and hope she comes back soon! Be sure to check out the blog she keeps with her sister by clicking here!

A Tour of Concord, Massachusetts

Last week, we took our guest to tour Concord, Massachusetts, which is renowned for it's historical and literary heritage. It was a cool, crisp autumn day and just perfect for sightseeing.

On the drive into Concord, I spied a farmstand and just had to turn in for an impromptu visit. Autumn farmstands are THE best! We admired the squashes, bought some freshly-baked bread, and continued on our way.

Our first stop for touring was Louisa May Alcott's Home, Orchard House. We took the short, guided tour and saw the tiny desk where she penned "Little Women" and the rooms and places that served as her literary inspiration. (No photography allowed inside.)

Then we went down the street to tour Ralph Waldo Emerson's large home.  It had been built by a previous owner as a summer home. Emerson purchased the home in the summer, only to discover that it was nearly impossible to keep warm in the cold, New England winters. The home is beautifully furnished with the family's original belongings.

Then we drove through town and beyond to the Old North Bridge, where the "shot heard round the world" was fired at the start of the American Revolution.

The property next to the Old North Bridge is Old Manse, Nathaniel Hawthorne's home. It always looks so beautiful in the fall.

Just as Hawthorne kept a large garden, so one is planted each year at Old Manse. It's in the foreground in this photo, in its dying, autumn state.

Then it was on to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to see the final resting place of Concord's famous authors.

We did a bit of shopping in the town...coffee and hot chocolate, a visit to the cheese shop and bookstore, and a leisurely browse through my favorite boutique, Nesting.

Last stop in the waning autumn sunshine was Walden Pond.

Coming in from the Cold

It's been uncommonly cold here since Saturday night. Overnight lows in the 20's and highs in the 40's. Brrrr. It's difficult to crawl out from beneath the warm duvet in the morning. And hot herbal tea has been my drink of choice...warms the hands and warms me from the inside out too.

Before the cold really arrived Saturday, I thought to bring the outdoor pumpkins indoors. If they freeze...it's all over for them. So they've been keeping us company...awaiting warmer temperatures to resume their duties of making the house look seasonally festive.

Sabbath Rest

"Rejoice in glorious hope!
Our Lord and judge shall come
And take His servants up
To their eternal home:
Lift up your heart,
Lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!"

- Charles Wesley (1744)

Apple Picking Day

Our friend, at The Merry Hearth, and her sister love supporting local businesses and good home cooking. So, yesterday, we began our day apple picking and ended it baking an apple pie.

Our first stop was this orchard, which drew us in with its claim of 70 heirloom variety apples and a 147-year old working cider press.

Each tree was neatly labeled with its variety name. Stayman Winesaps are my favorite, so I was thrilled that they had them. Stayman Winesaps are great for pie, applesauce, and cider.

Isn't this a great name for an apple?

Then we moved on to another orchard with commanding views of the rolling hills of Vermont in the distance.

This orchard also boasted a fabulous farmstand with: pumpkins, squash, Indian corn, gourds, and more.

We had a delicious lunch at L.A. Burdick, a french-style bistro and one of my favorite restaurants.

A stop at an antique store on the way home, and the day was complete!  Well...that and the pie!

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