Bucks County


Over the years, my husband and I have found that both of us and both of our children find great serenity while immersed in nature.  It is the thing that centers us and renews us.  And, to that end, we decided that it is of greatest importance that we spend some time in nature every weekend.  The daily stresses and sensory overload that we encounter during the school/work week dissolve as we step into nature.

Last weekend, we used our nature escape to say goodbye to summer and to welcome autumn. It was a very warm day for the end of September, but the breeze was delicious and the morning sun was beautiful filtering through the treetops.

 

Our plan was to hike all morning and stop at 10:49am to say goodbye to summer and to welcome autumn.  This wasn’t my idea.  This wasn’t my husband’s idea.  The two kids.  It was all them.

But as we hiked, we encountered some very cool wildlife and sights.  The first was an eastern box turtle, quickly identified by my fabulous husband.  He loves all things reptilian.

 

When we stopped hiking at 10:47am to say goodbye to summer, we were in a dried creek bed, exploring what might be found in such a spot.  Here we came upon a little frog.  If you look closely at the back end of the frog (is it a pickerel frog?), there is a small orange-red protrusion.  We assumed it was an egg sac, but as we were unsure, please feel free to comment the correct answer, if you know!  WE would love to know.  Another amazing hiking find.

At this moment, our children each took a turn saying a tearful goodbye to summer, one blowing a kiss and one giving an air-hug.  It’s always said that we can learn so much from our children.  Living in the moment is one of the greatest of these lessons.  And there it was again as they cheered a welcome to fall.

And we continued on our hike.  My favorite nature find that day, although kind of gross, was this owl pellet.  For anyone who doesn’t already know, when an owl eats, it digests what it can of the creature it has eaten and then throws up the bones, fur and whatever else it cannot digest.  These are known as owl pellets.  We had never discovered one on our own, so this was pretty exciting for us!

 

It was an amazing day.  One I won’t soon forget.  We hiked for TWO HOURS with a nine-year old and a six-year old!!  I witnessed my children’s intense sentimentality, and we all came away from it centered, contented and ready to face the week.  What an amazing escape.

 

I’m a little late writing this post, as Memorial Day was a little over a week ago, yet my thoughts on it keep stirring…and I cannot make peace with them.

It seems a time in history that our American society focuses more on our own happiness and self-gratification than on making contributions to improve humanity.  It seems a time that we focus more on the celebration aspect of holidays than on the true meaning.

Every Memorial Day, my husband and I take our two daughters (who are currently 4 and 7 years old) to our local Memorial Day parade.  And every year we explain exactly what Memorial Day means.  Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have sacrificed all that they have for our country, for the values we hold dear.  In a word, freedom.  For us, it isn’t about trips to the beach or barbecues, it really is about the sacrifice.  Although neither of us has served, we come from families that have and know those who do.

So as we watch the parade make its way up the hill in our little town, we teach our children to stand as the first American flag of the parade approaches, right hand upon heart….to stand as the veterans pass us in historic cars or Jeeps….to clap and cheer for the World War II veterans who may or may not make it to the next Memorial Day parade….to wave and thank all veterans who pass us, solemnly aware of why they are in fact in the parade.  And we hope that we remind them of the cost of all that we have today.

I love wool.  There.  I said it.  It has such a primitive smell, look and feel to it.  Handling it is such a wonderful tactile experience, whether it’s uncarded, carded, spun, dyed, wet-felted, needle-felted or washing machine-felted.  My latest wool obsession using the washing machine to felt wool sweaters has taken me to multiple thrift stores and found me exploding with the desire to create, create, create.

A few weeks ago, I purchased several sweaters at my FAVORITE thrift store and proceeded to throw them into the washing machine on hot with detergent.  After a full cycle, each sweater was about 1/3 of its original size:

The shots of these sweaters are only after they’d been felted.  In my excitement to get them into the washing machine to felt them, I failed to take “before” pictures.  (I did, however, take pictures of my most recent purchases.)

I settled in to start creating.  I wanted some kind of banner to hang on the front door for Valentine’s Day.  Something very cozy-looking.  I chose to begin cutting hearts out of the felted sweaters and then stitched them one on top of another.

Cutting and stitching together hearts.

Ivory background for hearts banner...or another heart?

All hearts. A warm welcome for guests.

And my first recycled sweater project is complete!

Many years ago…maybe ten…I baked my first pie.  It was pumpkin and it was tasty, but it was not a crust made from scratch.  You see, I’d been told by many that making piecrust from scratch was too difficult and time-consuming.  And that Pillsbury  refrigerated crust IS awfully tasty.  I’d hear horror stories about others spending hours working on piecrust only to have it fall apart before they could get it in the pie plate.  And it didn’t taste so good.  That was really enough for me.

Until this weekend.

I had picked up a magazine at a Tractor Supply Co. a few months back called Mary Janes Farm.  What a great little magazine about country life and organic living!  Loved it.  Anyway, there was a recipe for a homemade piecrust that didn’t sound too difficult.  I set aside the issue for when I had a chunk of time to work on it.  That chunk of time came this past weekend.

I knew I had apples….yummy granny smiths and galas (my favorites!).  And I was fairly certain I had all of the ingredients.  So I set out to give it a try.

It was easy!  You wouldn’t believe how easy.  Flour, salt, butter, cream cheese…and that was it.  It rolled out easily, although I chose to make it a little thicker than Pillsbury would approve of.  And it was tasty, too.  I’m not trying to toot my own horn, this was my husband’s proclamation.  He LOVED it!  All I did was follow the recipe.  I certainly can’t take credit for how tasty it turned out to be.

 

My first homemade piecrust...unbaked.

 

 

And baked.

 

 

I know I’ve already talked about how much I love our Landis market.  Each time I shop there, I’m reminded how truly remarkable small-town living is.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything…except maybe a few acres we could homestead.  But that’s another post.

Yesterday, I stopped at Landis with the kids just to pick up a few things.  As we were checking out, the cashier, a kind older gentleman, smiled at the kids and asked “How would you like to see some bubbles?”  I don’t think any of us could have anticipated what he was going to do, but he pulled out a small bottle of bubbles from his apron and began blowing them for the kids!  So as he was ringing up our groceries, the kids were laughing and popping bubbles with such joy.  Such an unexpected simple pleasure from our local grocery store.  That wouldn’t happen at any of the bigger chain supermarkets or “super” center department stores.

I love it.

I like to think we live in “the country”.  We’re surrounded by farms and very gently rolling hills.  I really should post some photos of the bucolic countryside.  Living in the country provides us with the wonderful opportunity to truly “buy local”.

One of my favorite places to shop is Bolton’s Turkey Farm.  And we do go there on a fairly regular basis.  Oh, how good it smelled in there…just like Thanksgiving!  Mmmmmm.

Today I stopped for a roasting chicken.  Bolton’s roasting chickens are delicious.  I wish I could share with you virtually how wonderful it smelled in my oven.  The fresh garlic cloves I sliced and placed in its cavity permeated every inch of the chicken.  It was spectacularly delicious.  I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy one of their tasty turkeys!

When my husband and I first moved to this area nearly nine years ago, it took us quite some time to find our way around and figure our where the local treasures were.  For a while, we drove an extra ten to fifteen minutes to a grocery store.  Then I learned about Landis.

I remember my first trip there rather well.  Admittedly, I’m not a very religious person and I found myself quite taken aback by the Landis supermarket’s tagline….”Faithfully Serving You” and was curious what a store with such a tagline might be like.  But I fell in love with it.  Yes.  LOVE.  How many supermarkets do you think get that kind of affection?

I walked in and it just felt different.  Homey.  Comfortable.  Warm.  I felt welcome.  You might think those odd statements about a supermarket but I tell you with absolute honesty and certainty that this was how I felt.  How I still feel when I walk in those doors.  Landis employees seem happy to be there.  I promise.  They seem a family.  Whether that is indeed true, I don’t know.

But it’s not just the warm feel, it’s also the welcoming appetite-whetting smells…bacon frying, rotisserie chicken roasting.  And the tastes.  “Free Samples” at the counter in the back.  My kids are always excited to see what the offering of the day will be.  Mmmmm.  But the bakery is what Landis is probably best known for.  Black bottom cake.  Sour cream coffee cakes.  Pumpkin bread.  Hard tack cake.  Shoo fly pie.  Such delicious Pennsylvania Dutch goodness.

We have grown quite attached to our Landis supermarket over the last almost-nine years.  Even my husband enjoys shopping there.  Really.  And we’ve always appreciated and respected the fact that Landis closed its doors on Sundays.  So we found it a sad statement that Landis feels the need to change its long-standing tradition and open those doors beginning Sunday, May 2, 2010.  Competition has become too fierce.  The big ones are taking over….Costco, BJs, Target, Giant and (coming in the next year) Wal-Mart Supercenter.  We will continue to shop at and support Landis.

And the idea that I find it appealing has me a bit disconcerted.

Manure.  Yes, I said “manure”.  As I picked my daughter up from school, I noticed the gamy odor of cow manure wafting across the school grounds.  It was so intense it elicited my gag-reflex from deep within.  But in a moment or two I found myself deeply inhaling the crisp air.

You see, as acrid as it was, I knew it was a decidedly auspicious sign of spring.  After the snowiest winter in the last decade, the John Deeres were hard at work in the fields behind the school, spreading a heavy layer of manure.  Manure isn’t spread unless fields are going to be planted.  Farmers don’t plant fields unless spring is truly here.

Inhale deeply.  Sigh.  There can’t be a more satisfying  sign of spring….except, maybe, for the heady scent of sweet lilacs.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.