Winter Wonderland

There's something wonderful about the first few days after Christmas. The tree is still up, there's tons of leftovers, but all the shopping, baking, and hassles are over. From what I hear about grandparenting, it's much the same -- all the fun, without the heavy lifting.

Today it was a blustery 3 degrees, so cold, my dog refused to go outside. I tried to tell him it's a long time until spring...too long to hold it, but he just looks confused.

The wind is cold, but the scenery is just perfect. Vermont is the epitome of a winter wonderland. In honor of all that is cozy and picturesque this time of year in the Green Mountain State, I put together a little collage. Hope you enjoy it!
Clockwise from top left: Highland Cattle in Fletcher, our lovely little Christmas tree, my Christmas eve place settings, Baby Ranch in her cozy calf coat, my little elf -- procured at a Copenhagen flea market, blustery branches, sleigh horses in Stowe.


Ingredient Mission Impossible: Quince

What's a girl gotta do to get her hands on some quince? Ever since I stumbled upon Martha's recipe for quince biscuit pie, I've had quince on the brain. But finding those nubby little buggers at the market has been a real chore. Having resigned myself to the fact that I was unlikely to find them in my local produce aisle, I expanded my search online. But still, no luck! Not even good old Harry and David can sell them to me. It appears my best bet is to order a sapling from Europe, plant it in my back yard, and wait 2-4 years for it to begin baring fruit.  Anyone out there have a quince hook-up they'd like to share?


Farm Girl Gift Guide

Good news for all you last minute shoppers desperately seeking gifts for that special farm girl in your life! Here's a gift guide to help you make all her down-home dreams come true. Included are a few of my all-time favorite possessions, plus a few I'm hoping to find under the tree. Sure to please any lucky farm girl on your list...

1. Nothing beats a Le Crueset dutch over for cooking up buttery, belly-filling casseroles. I treasure the goldenrod yellow model that I inherited from my grandmother. Fifty years later, it still gets the job done.

2. My all-time favorite hoodie, Crescent Sunshine, by The North Face. Looks great with jeans and boots, but also comfy enough for lounging around the house.

3. It's never to early to start planning your garden! This nifty gadget turns newspaper into starter pots. Talk about up-cycling!

4. This room spray smells fantastic and does wonders when a certain someone brings stinky barn boots indoors.

5. Forget Team Edward or Jacob, the real question is Rhett, or Ashley? Winter is a wonderful time to crack open an epic tome like Gone With The Wind. A classic edition will look great on your farm girls lap now, and on her bookshelf later.

6. Burt's Bees lip balm is my go-to for kissable lips all winter long.

7. Every farm girl needs a sassy apron.

8. Feeling poetic?  Moleskine journals travel well, thanks to the elastic strap that keeps them shut tight, so you can capture your whimsy on-the-go.

9. I am absolutely in love with Darn Tough socks, the most comfy, rugged socks around. Made right here in Vermont, they are guaranteed for life. Her toes will thank you.

10. It's worth investing in a good pair of Felco pruners. Woody plants heal faster when clipped with good shears. She'll think of you every time she trims her roses or cuts a bouquet of lilacs. 

11. Farm girls love unfussy, nature-inspired jewelry. Dangling gold earring looks great with broken-in jeans!

 12. There's nothing like a thick glob of Weleda Skin Food to make your weathered hands feel shiny and new again. I keep a tube handy at the kitchen sink so I remember to lather up after washing the dishes. A must for any gal frequenting sub-zero winter climates, like me.

Merry Christmas!


The Importance of Maintenence

This may come as a bit of a shock (ha, ha) but glamour hasn't been one of my top prioities lately. Historically, I have always been a fan of the "natural look," mostly because it excused my lack of effort.  More recently, I've indulged in the "farm girl alibi," delighting in the opportunity to laze around in wooley sweaters and torn jeans. For a while, I really felt like the hassle-free approach was working for me. But not tonight.

Farm girl glamour at its finest!

Tonight, as I stood helpless before the mirror, attempting to "fancy myself up" for a holiday party we were set to attend in less than an hour, I panicked. Nothing was working. Suddenly, I remembered all-too-well the feeling of showing up for an exam without the benefit of studying, or even attending class, all semester. It was now too late.

As I struggled to fit into too-tight clothes and smudge various cosmetic products on my eyes, cheeks, and lips, I was reminded of the value of maintenance.

Yes, maintenance...timely, regular upkeep. I struggle with maintenance of all sorts. Oil changes, flossing, regularly scheduled eye exams...these are not my strengths. I guess I ought to add exercise and a proper beauty routine to the list of items I've been neglecting.

The Lean Cuisines and Pilates classes that defined the after-work evenings of my singledom have been replaced with buttery pot-pies and cozy evenings in front of the woodstove with R, watching Jeopardy. My heart and soul are thriving, but my ass and thighs need serious work.

Fortunately, New Years is right around the corner. What better time to start anew! Which means I have one week left until I have to clean up my act.

Until then, bring on the pot-pie!


A Very Good Day, Indeed

I woke up this morning to gray skies and a sore throat. I rallied early for some Christmas shopping, thinking I'd beat the mobs, only to find I was not alone in this thinking. As I battled through the crowded aisles and long, snaking cashier register lines, I began to realize I'd made a grave mistake. An unsavory R&B-style Christmas soundtrack was playing on repeat over the sound system. At one point to vocalist actually sang the words "Christmas Bling." Someone rolled their shopping cart over my foot. The store was all sold out of the item I was looking for. And my throat still hurt. 

Bruised but not broken, I emerged from the store having secured no new gifts from my list. But if I was inclined to feel sorry for myself (and frankly, I was) I missed my chance, because the sun had broken through the clouds and everything was glittery and glistening. Talk about Christmas Bling.

When I got home, I swallowed some Tylenol, pulled on my snow boots, grabbed the camera, and headed down to the barn to shoot some photos. So much fun! Funny how quickly things turn around. 
Lucy strikes a pose while waiting on line to head in to the milking parlor


Glorious Struggle

  "Once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle, you are equipped with the basic means of salvation." -Tennessee Williams

Yesterday I woke up to a smoldering fire. Before heading out to work at 4:30am, R had filled the woodstove with the last of the logs we'd piled indoors.He wanted to be sure the house was warm and cozy when I got up. Two hours later when I rose from bed, I was snug as a bug in a rug. But in order to stay that way I needed to get more wood.

I pulled on my snow boots and headed out to the woodshed in my pajamas with my dog Moe at my heels. He's just a little guy, so in eight inches of snow he's chin-deep. I thought back to winters past, before moving to Vermont, and imagined myself sipping a Starbucks gingerbread latte in a cab en route to FAO Schwartz for some Christmas shopping. David Bowie's baritone echoed between my ears..."ch-ch-ch-changes..." 


No one dreams of a beige Christmas

Snow crept up on us Tuesday night
Our first snow fall of the season snuck up on us last Tuesday....more than 18"! (Hard to believe the "official" start of winter is still over a week away.) Something about the snow kick-started my holiday spirit and inspired me to invite everyone over for an early holiday dinner (more on this later) and start ticking off gifts from my holiday shopping list. I was buzzing around like an Elf on Red Bull!
Wednesday morning we awoke to heaps of snow
One of my favorite things about living in Vermont is that you can pretty much always count on a White Christmas. I don't think Bing Crosby was a Vermonter, but he'd fit right in here. So I was shocked and dismayed this morning to wake up to a beige landscape. A warm front crept in, bringing with it 36 degree temperatures and heaps of rain. Our winter wonderland was reduced to mud puddle.


The Upside of Rotten Bananas

We've all heard that old adage about lemons. This week I'm tweaking it a bit..."when life gives you rotten bananas, make muffins."


Tis the Season for Indoor Gardening

Winter is a great time to focus on the indoor plants I (mostly) neglected all summer while I was busy fussing over their outdoor counterparts. It sure is easy to get distracted by the firecracker colors of zinnias and that generous, juicy bundle of joy known as the tomato plant.

But now that the weather is colder, my indoor plants are (finally) getting the TLC they deserve. Lucky for me, they are forgiving friends. It's almost as if I never neglected them at all.