September 12, 2014

Friday's finish

Let's get down to business!  The winner of the maple syrup giveway-chosen by Random.org- is Pam B.  Yay and congratulations!!!!  I'll be contacting you to get that jug headed your way ASAP.
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You know what?  You know what this week brought?

{Life in general}
- Bear's second week of school
- Ace testing positive for a decent amount of lead in his blood
- Mid Autumn Moon Festival
- chopping off some of my thumb while chopping cabbage
- Ace having his blood drawn again, this time in a lab
- Bear's root canal appointment
- soccer practice began for Bear
- Champ and I maintaining busy, busy schedules
- a somber, reflective Thursday for Americans

{Life extraordinary}
- a friend calling to arrange an extended visit here
- driving Bear to and from the bus becoming a welcomed routine
- Ace's second set of blood work coming back negative for lead
- getting stopped on our walk by a stranger complimenting Huckle and Trot
- I still have 5 fingers on my right hand
-  Bear's root canal turning, in the 11th hour, into only a bit of scraping and
    hollowing out
- finding hidden pockets of free time in scheduled days






God and I have been having some deep conversations these days: regarding my friends, my family, my life. I started off yesterday's chat with Him by saying "you know when last week in church that woman patted my sons' heads and said 'you are blessed'? Today I am beginning to understand what she already knows.  I'm aware that blessings don't always go hand in hand with lovely outcomes; yet while I can recognize that not all weeks will have happy endings, I am on my knees with gratitude that this one did."







Get out there and enjoy your weekend.  I'm not gonna have any trouble enjoying mine.      

                                                                                                                                                 

September 08, 2014

The wait is over
















a classic morning at the bus stop

The wait is over.  Bear is a newly minted a kindergartener.  He couldn't be happier.


He practically owns this year already, what with the confidence he's displayed this past week (cranky, mr. tired-pants has also been displayed, but we won't get into that!). Champ and I are delighted with his easy-breezy attitude towards it all, since it currently presents as an eagerness to learn and become part of the school community.  




If a swagger while stepping off the bus is a side effect then we won't call it cocky, rather an assured feeling of knowing he's in the right place, finding the right path each day within his new community of fellow learners.
















last year's schultute


That's all I can say for right now without getting all reflective and sentimental, but even when wallowing deep in my Mama thoughts, I can recognize that this was a most lovely way for Bear to have begun his official school career.  Here's to kindergarten 2014!

ps: don't forget to enter the maple syrup giveaway!!!!

September 03, 2014

Giveaway Hooray!

Today I put Bear on the school bus for his very first day of kindergarten.  Now do you see why I timed this post laden, giveaway full, launch week so appropriately?  Kinda trying to keep parts of my brain from focusing too heavily on what is happening here.  Yes, yes even if it is a very good thing.  Anywho, more on that later since you are here for the giveaway after all, correct?!



I got two, count 'em two, giveaways for you.  First up, a free printable quoteboard designed by yours truly. To Kill a Mockingbird is my most favorite book of all time, Bear's journey to solidly following his own conscience began today: the combo seemed fitting.  Print out your free 8x10 copy of the quote here.

Before I get into the second giveaway, I've got a few other announcements regarding Any Given Moment's new look.  Do you like it here?  I sooooo do and the behind the scenes stuff is so so much easier now.  Let's all have a big round of applause for Rita over at The Coffee Shop Blog- I cannot tell you enough positive comments about how helpful she's been.  Thank you again Rita, for dealing with my fickle heart and my crazy schedule!!!!  The slideshow on my header, the organized layout, the page tabs, the LARGE PHOTOS are all thanks to her.  


A huge shout out to Coupons by answers.com. I am ever so grateful to have them advertising on Any Given Moment (seriously, those coupons are pretty great!), especially since their funding made my work with Rita possible- hence a cooler blog for all of you.  Win-win-win.











What else?  Oh, I streamlined how to follow this blog, made it more mobile friendly, and added a photo gallery on the side bar labelled "The Latest Moments".  It will be my version of instagram, so check it regularly.  And then there are the super new tweaks.  I'll speak to them directly in the weeks ahead; in the meantime get ready for a little more action from Trot and Huckle, a few more pages turned during book reviews and discussions, and a bunch more free quoteboard downloads, because I adore you all. Thanks for visiting- and continuing to visit- this here space!



Did you guess the second giveaway yet?  MAPLE SYRUP!  Remember I live in Vermont?  AND I like pancakes.  Here's how to enter the giveaway for your own quart of locally sourced maple syrup:

All those new ways to follow Any Given Moment- well go ahead and use them!  Sign on to follow along, then leave me a comment telling me you've joined.  Have you been kicking around here for a while?  I am so appreciative for your company!  Leave a comment telling me what you plan to do with the maple syrup if you're the lucky winner.  The giveaway ends next Tuesday, September 9th. at 9am est.  Good luck. 

                    (the syrup was photobombed, so it should be extra tasty)

xoxo,

September 02, 2014

Travelling with kids: a few tips (and pairs of Minnetonka moccasins) I've picked up along the way




Vacationing with kids.  That's a weighted sentence to say the least. Thus far our travel has been limited to cars and so that's the framework for the tips I offer here.  If you are planning on flying somewhere well... how about you take me and my family along with you and then I can tell you how I'd set up some systems?
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A few things that have worked for us, including a very Cape Cod specific, and kind of unrelated item... children's Minnetonka  Moccasins.  Weird I know, but listen the Cape is full of them!  














Look for those SURF/SAND shops that line each town.  The front entrance often look like the one that Bear's scooping out.  Stroll inside heading for the sale section (it's usually dusty) or the shoe section if the store has one, then put on your detective glasses and look around.  Before long the moccasins will begin popping up.  They will be disorganized and in wrong boxes.  Infant booties will be mixed with an occasional women's 7.5. (score!  I found a pair last year in Buzzard's Bay), some shoes will look like they are from an entire era ago, other's will look like they have only arrived there yesterday.  If you persevere, you will win big!  Minnetonka shoes for a fraction of the price- rock on!  This year Ace fell in love with a pair of white beaded moccasins; they make him look like a 67 year old blonde tycoon who owns a yacht, yet they somehow suit him.  Bear found a larger size in the style he favors.  Happy Hunting.





Before leaving on any trip I do two things.  First, I collect up any books we have that might be pertinent to where we are going: in this case I packed books with seashore/beach themes.  You could use library books if you are uber responsible.  I am not.  The books come in handy in a whole manner of ways: general independent entertainment- especially the car, as reference materials, and as humane restraints- such as when waiting in line for a table when dinnertime was oh so 2 hours ago.  The other thing I do is to cook up a few snacks to take on the road.  I think that a majority of families do this to some degree.  Our classic beach items (i/e don't melt easily) are hard boiled eggs, chex mix, ingredients for making daily sun tea, and hummus and pretzels.  I occasionally pack a flask of alcohol too because if we are talking kids here, some nights a small nightcap is simply perfect.  With these items I can offer an early breakfast if we are waiting on someone to wake up, or a filling snack at the beach when the ice cream truck is still 30 minutes away from arrival time.      

















We stay at places with pools.  It makes life so much easier when waiting on the rest of your party, or if  plans change and you are left with down time, or if everyone just needs to feel rooted and not so on the go for little while.  The pool is the place to be.



We pack our own bathroom facility because you never know.  Or it's because Ace is toilet training and packing that thing enables him to be as independent as Champ, Bear, and I when in a motel room.  I will not answer why Ace parked his toilet in the doorway. 









This was the first year we packed a tent for sleeping arrangements- it worked out great!  Our issue always is that we are in a tight space; the boys need to go to bed, but it's early yet for Champ and I.  We found that if we tucked them into the tent all zippered up and then lowered the lights or the tv, they would have a sort of screen while Champ and I could sit back and relax.  I'll give you that the first night was a trial, but after that the system worked smoothly.  On the flip side, mornings were easier too because whoever woke first would unzip and crawl out of the tent, but the other was able to sleep on in his shaded nylon cocoon. 

How do you like to travel?

*pst!  See you back here tomorrow for the giveaway!*

September 01, 2014

Foraging on Cape Cod: late summer



Bees aren't the only ones who know how to find good things in nature!  Today I have some tips on finding your own FREE!!!! bounty by the beach - just keep in mind to respect the land laws and mother nature where ever you are foraging.  And I suppose it bears to be stated: if you're not sure of what you're picking, don't pick it.  

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Foraging Cape Cod
{Buzzard's Bay}

I'm starting with the mainland side of the Cape because that's where we stay and because that's where I've found pears.  Yes!  Pears!!
















Near the entrance to Buzzard's Bay Park/Cape Cod Canal are pear trees lining the sidewalk- my guess is Bartlett variety.  They are prolific with fruit by the time I arrive in late August, and the pears lay in bounty on the grass.  A part of me always wants to collect up all that available fruit, but instead I leave some spoils for others and take only a handful for us to snack on as they ripen during our vacation.  As an added bonus that's not quite foraging, cross the street to the Canal Creamery where you will find some seriously tasty ice cream!  I had a mindblowing bourbon praline swirl when I was there AND came to find out that the owner's son has the same name as my youngest; rare find of creative names and creative, homemade ice cream.  


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{Falmouth/Woods Hole}

















Black rasperries grown happily in the woods spread around the Cape.  I harvested a bunch near a beach we were at; they were perfect for the boys to munch on as a snack after swimming.  























 Grapes were growing wild in this area too, but as they weren't quite ripe yet and thus a little on the sour side, I was the only one who found delight in eating them.  While wandering around in any available wooded area should prove fruitful for foraging (ha!  get it?),  if you're more in the mood for a direct experience, try the Salt Pond area.  





















Bayberry is a newer discovery for me and frankly, I think it's my favorite thing to forage for on Cape Cod.  It may even top shellfish in my book.  If you are looking for it, you will easily find it everywhere, Cape-wide!  It is a low growing, hearty shrub.  I spotted boatloads of it growing along the Cape Cod Rail Trail as well as all along Nobska Rd where it seemed pleased to be breathing in the salty, ocean air.  I harvest bayberry branches and hang them at home to air dry.  I use the berries in floral arrangements and potpourri mixes and I'm looking in to adding them to the sugar scrubs I make.  Culinary speaking, this plant is brilliant!  I use the berries the way I would use juniper berries, the leaves the way I would use bay (laurel) leaves.  Stews, chilis, chicken dishes...  all taste better with a bayberry leaf tossed in (remember to remove leaves from the dish before serving).  






Rose hips are a traditional forager's delight on Cape Cod.  Again, I harvested mine in Falmouth, but they are found Cape-wide, as well as in other New England states.  The hips are the fruit of the rose plant.  This pink flowering plant grows heartily on the Cape as it thrives on salt water breezes. 










 Pick the rose hips to fill your sandcastle building bucket.  Then fill another one!  Haul your loot home.  Remove any remaining stems, rinse the hips, and then try out this recipe for Rose Hip Jelly.

Rose Hip Jelly (recipe from Famous New England Recipes
edited by Dolores Riccio)
Put fruit in a pot.  Add enough water to barely cover.  Bring to a boil and cook until fruit is soft.  Pour into a jelly bag and strain.  For every 2 C of rose hip juice, add 2C apple juice, 5 C sugar, and 1 box pectin.  Cook until jelly falls from a spoon in sheets, then turn off heat immediately.  Food coloring can be added, if desired.  Skim jelly, pour into sterile jars, and seal.

field notes: May be stored in fridge, but I can mine- rose hips contain large amounts of vitamin C so the jelly stores well and I find there is no need for a water bath as long as the jars are completely sterile.  It is yummy on toast (what jelly isn't?!), and makes a lovely glaze for pork.  I especially serve it to my family during cold season, so that the vitamin C can help keep us healthy.

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Don't think foraging isn't for you!  If you are faint of heart, worrying about contaminates or poisoning yourself, keep looking! Take your walks with a discerning eye.  Even if you choose not to harvest what you see, feel more connected with the natural world of Cape Cod by recognizing and noticing the same food sources that the Wampanoag people first discovered so long ago.

 
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