Some of My Favorite Books

A lot of the books I have really enjoyed have similar themes. Homesteading, hard work, faith, love (of course love), birthing babies, and raising families. They are usually in the ‘olden times’. Almost always, there is a (head) strong female for the main character.

A classic, and one of my most memorable reads is….

I remember reading it when I was pregnant with my first daughter, thirteen years ago! Yikes! I loved the book and even read the sequel. Didn’t love the sequel. I loved Scarlet’s quote, ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow!’

I was a librarian, actually a library director, (there is a difference), for about 5 years. My mentor, the retired librarian suggested I read ‘Come Spring’ by Ben Ames Williams. I didn’t read it right away, but when I finally did I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved this book. It has all the characteristics of what I like in a book. It is a very thick book but it goes fast. Too fast. I live in Maine, not too far from Union, the town in the story. How cool is that!

Sometimes a book is so good you want to re-read it many times. I have read the series ‘The Awakening Land’ twice. I wouldn’t mind reading it again. It is that good. I didn’t read it in the big book I have pictured here, but kind of stumbled upon it while perusing the shelves. First I read Trees, then Fields and finally Town. Again, hard work, homesteading, faith, and a strong female character. One of my favorites!

Recently I started reading the pair of books about Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy Turner. I love them. I’m so excited to find out there are more books by this author and plan to read them as well. Don’t you love when you find a great author and she/he has written lots of books? I enjoyed the diary format in ‘These is My Words’. Being quite outspoken myself I can relate to some of what she talks about. Now I just need to buy myself a gun! (No, I won’t.)

I don’t always read about characters from days long ago. One of my favorite authors writes from a modern point of view and I love her books. Ever heard of Debbie Macomber? I have read all of the ‘Blossom Street’ novels. I only wish she would write them more often, but maybe they wouldn’t be so good if she did that. Do try and read them in order starting with ‘A Shop on Blossom Street’

I read a lot and I read different styles. I love biographies. Lately I have been reading a lot of books about Julia Child. Another favorite biography I read was about Eleanor Roosevelt. I have read almost all the Catherine Cookson novels. I love reading Bill Bryson’s books. Just heard he has a new one out called ‘The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain’. My favorites by him was ‘In A Sunburned Country’ and ‘At Home’. I learn so much when I read his books.

I have always and still do read a lot to my children. Some of my favorites, and theirs too, are ‘The Little House on the Prairie’ series and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ series. I have read them so many times I have lost count. There seems to be a lesson every time I read them.

I would love to hear what your favorites are.

Happy Reading!

 

My Gardens

Hello Tuesday! It has been over a month since I did a post on my gardens. It is high time. You can compare if you like by going to Announcing a Garden Party or to Pushing Up. I am amazed at the difference myself. It is helpful to look at the progress in pictures especially when you are starting to think things are growing slowly.

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There are bare boxes as you can see. One reason is that I do succession planting. I love to have a continuous supply of greens. I also like to plant another round of beets and broccoli. I just ordered more seeds yesterday for some Hakurei turnips, broccoli, a lettuce mix and Arugula.

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Another reason for the bare spots is I had a garden fail. Seems like every year it is something. I hope this will be it. I always fear my squash and tomatoes will fail. I planted a whole box of beets and they came up sporadically. I have since replanted in the empty spaces.

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As you can see there are plenty of successes. So far. Always on guard here in the garden. You never know what is around the corner.

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The flower garden is really blooming now too.

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One day we drove by an antique store and I found this cute little bird bath. It was only $24.00. I had been wanting a nice bird bath and was glad to find it. It isn’t really an antique but I love it.

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How is your garden growing? I would love to know.

 

 

What’s for Dinner

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Strawberries plus Rhubarb equals PIE! I am so glad this season is here. I love making pies and even more I love using fruits that are in season. Two of these pies I delivered to the farm that gave me the lard to make these lovely crusted pies. I am so thankful that I have a local, organic source for my lard and it is free to boot!

Making lard is one of the easiest things to do. I don’t have any pictures because really it isn’t all that pretty or interesting. Actually the finished product is pretty. A nice clean, white, odorless lard. It is the pork fat that isn’t all that nice to look at.

To make lard I take a nice pork back fat and cut it up into chunks. Then I put it all in my crock pot. Turn the pot on low or warm and let it melt throughout the day, or night. When the fat is all liquefied you take off the little cooked fat pieces that will be on the top. These are called cracklings.  Then you pour the fat into jars and let harden. I freeze mine so they last a little longer. I need to find a better way to store the lard though. I found that it is really difficult to get the lard out of a jar. Maybe there are molds somewhere that I can use. My husband suggested using a bread pan lined with paper. When it is hardened just take it out and freeze. I will try it next time. Seems reasonable that it would work.

I use all lard when I make my pies. I don’t feel it is unhealthy because it is coming from a local, organic farm and I think we are getting many good things from that. Some people use part lard part butter or part shortening. I think how ever you make your pie crust is your choice. I imagine your family and friends love it and eat it right up.

So here is this weeks menu:

Monday: Tuna Noodle Casserole (quick meal for the first play off game)

Tuesday: Boneless Teriyaki Chicken on the grill with couscous and asian greens and snap peas

Wednesday: Steak on the grill with sweet potatoes and cole slaw

Thursday: Fish Tacos with Hake

Friday: Spaghetti and Sauce with a salad

Saturday: Stir-fry with rice noodles. 

I am using more and more from the garden these days. It feels so good to be able to walk out and snip a few things off and bring it to the table. More on the garden this week.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

Acadia National Park

For three years in a row we have gone biking in Acadia National Park. Where else can you get the ocean, woods, mountains, bogs, ponds, waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, and peace in one place? Well, there are probably plenty, especially here in Maine, but it was nice that it was not a super long drive for us.

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This year (and our first year) we rode along the carriage roads. The first day we rode along Witch Hole.  It is claimed to be the easiest ride in the park. It is great for children or people that are not up for a strenuous ride. I did think it was easy, but be warned, there were some long gradual hills that were a little difficult. On our second day this year we rode to the Ampitheater Bridge along the Mountain carriage road trail. There were some pretty hefty hills to get up but certainly worth them when you get to coast down. There were plenty of nice flat and level roads to ride along. Last year we rode along Schoodic Point. The ride is mostly all along the ocean. While this trail is a longer and a bit more difficult my girls did great. Personally, this trail is my favorite in Acadia. I just love the ocean!

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There are so many spots along the trails to just sit and soak in the sights and sounds. We had a picnic along a bay and stopped for apple and water breaks along the many carriage road bridges. The waterfalls were so beautiful. Sometimes we just stopped to stare at the beauty of it all.

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Oh Acadia, I love you!

A Birth Story in Pictures

One day about a month ago my daughter and I set out for one of our daily walks and stumbled upon a nest with a bird in it on the ground. We later found out it was a Kildeer momma bird and the dad was also nearby. They both did a broken wing dance as we approached and we were able to see that there were eggs in the nest. So exciting!

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First there were two eggs.

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The next day there were four! We continued to come back and check on the nest. We knew that at any time we could find that the nest had been destroyed or eggs eaten as it was on the ground. We were pleasantly surprised each and every time we took our walk.

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Here is the mama bird on her nest. She flared her tail feather’s every time we got close. Over the next month (it takes about 24 days for a kildeer egg to hatch) the birds got used to us and didn’t get as mad when we approached.

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Here the male is protecting the female. We think. We actually never were able to distinguish between the two which one was female and which was male.

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One of the birds would always be on the nest while the other would be walking around, crying out, and doing the broken wing dance nearby.

Then one day we walked up and miraculously two of the eggs had hatched! It was so very exciting.

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The female was such a good mama! She trusted us enough to let us get a few pictures of the bundles of joy. She soon joined the nest though, letting us know that that was enough!

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I hope you have had a chance to see some baby birds this Spring!

 

 

 

Starting a Shawl

I have started a new project! An interesting one after all those socks! I enjoy sock knitting but love to have something that is a bit of a challenge that keeps me on my toes. I found a pattern on Ravelry called Curlew Shawl by Verily Knits. I love how it is coming along. I talked about the yarn here.

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I am reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ right now by Elizabeth Gilbert. I like it. I read some of the reviews and most were not great but so far I am enjoying her adventures. Yes she is a bit self absorbed and has an air of entitlement but sometimes I think we need to be that way when we are struggling through something. No, in the big scheme of things her struggles are not earth shattering, but for her, when she wrote them they were. It is sometimes difficult to understand how someone that seems like they have everything going for them or that they don’t have any ‘real’ problems could be depressed or lonely but it happens. My sister battles severe depression on and off and it really is disabling for her. When you hear about some of the horrible things that are going on in the world it is hard to believe that people who are safe, have their basic needs taken care and have loved ones who care could possibly be down in the dumps but it happens.  Intellectually they know that there are people out there that are having a much worse time of it, but it doesn’t change the way they are feeling.

I am joining Ginny today for the Yarn-along. I can’t wait to see what everyone is reading and knitting!

 

What’s for Dinner

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Doesn’t that look good! I love this dish so much. I haven’t made it since last summer though because I love using fresh vegetables out of my garden. I shouldn’t let that stop me though. It is such a pretty meal. I am dreaming of making it since the garden is really taking off now.

We are almost in complete summer mode! Orchestra is over for the year. Music lessons are finished for a while. Softball has only a  few weeks more. Two more weeks of regular games then the playoffs. My meals got a little changed around last week. Some games got cancelled and rescheduled for weather. My husband and I got a chance to go out for supper once and then we all went over for games and pizza another night. So it looks like I am repeating some of the same meals but actually just carrying them over.

Here is this week’s menu:

Monday: Pasta salad with bow tie noodles

Tuesday: Sausage Calzones

Wednesday: Beans and rice

Thursday: Talapia, red potatoes and a veggie

Friday: Angel Hair pasta with shrimp and a salad

Saturday: BBQ chicken

Sunday ~Monday : Camping food. Hot dogs ….

Enjoy your week, and Happy Cooking