Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jenne Farm

A few miles from our house along the main route to town is an unassuming turn off for Jenne Road. It's so unassuming, in fact, that it took us almost a year to discover the picturesque farm sitting just one minute up the road. The turnoff leads up a steep hill, and it's not until reaching the cusp of the incline that you realize what is about to happen. All of a sudden the land opens up to the most beautiful, pastoral scene you can image.

Jenne Farm is so idyllic that (according to Wikipedia) it has been used in movies like Forrest Gump, a Budweiser TV commercial, and is known to be one of the most photographed farms in America.

Since discovering Jenne Road, I've made a habit of taking a detour past the farm a few times a week on the way back from town. When it's foggy I want to see the clouds laying low in the valley, and when it's sunny and clear I want to see the long range views. Today we drove past to see how the foliage was coming along, and a group of art students were camped on a grassy mound with canvases and brushes, painting away. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I'd say.

My photos do no justice to the vastness of the place. Have you ever found an amazing view and snapped a photo, only to find that your little camera screen cannot capture even 10% of its expanse and beauty? That's how I feel about these photos, but at least they're something.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It's Starting

We're on the cusp of foliage season, folks, and the hillsides change by what seems like the hour.

Every morning we wake up to a few more turned trees on the hillside across from the house. The bright red trees are my favorite, and also the most rare.

The yellow trees are beautiful to stand under when the sun shines through the leaves.

Yesterday my friend Vanessa took me to one of the prettiest spots in our town, a dirt road lined with maple trees looking out over a grassy field and a long range view of Vermont and New Hampshire. I can only imagine how beautiful that spot will be in a few weeks when we've hit peak foliage. I didn't have my camera with me, but I snapped a few shots with my phone.

In other news, our 36" x 18" bluestone pavers for the covered porch arrived early this morning, and our next big project will be installing them.

We have been reveling in relaxation time and a break from house projects since the wedding, but we'll need to get these installed before it gets too cold to do that type of work outside. Lounging in front of the TV watching Salvage Dawgz marathons (new favorite show) and Homeland on Netflix has sure been fun, but we'll make one last push to get the covered porch project done in October. Stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Since Saturday

We've been going nonstop since the wedding on Saturday. Before our friends and family headed out of town we had brunch at Simon Pearce, a glass blowing and ceramics studio in an old mill building with a restaurant cantilevered over a waterfall on the upper level. A beautiful covered bridge sits across the way. Downstairs you can watch the glass blowers do their thing.

After brunch we headed over to Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park to wander around on the estate, check out the art exhibits, and tour the house.

On Monday Josh and I went for a hike on Mount Ascutney with the dogs while my dad drove family to the airport.

My dad stayed with us last night and this morning we took a walk over at Rockefeller National Park. He left late morning, officially ending our wedding week activities. It was bittersweet to see everyone go. Lately I find myself wanting to spend more time with family, which is tough reconcile with my folks living across the country and Josh's out of state. Having so much family and love around this weekend was a reminder of that piece missing from our lives. I hope we can find ways to be together more often this year.

Perhaps the pups feel the same way. They stood on the deck, watching my parents walk down the driveway to their car, waiting until they drove out of sight before turning away. I'd never seen them do that before. Heartbreakingly sweet.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Post Wedding Recap

You guys! I have to admit it, you all were right. Even though I was totally freaked out/bitter/scared/anxious to have a real wedding (as opposed to the low key city hall thing I lobbied hard for) I had a great time on Saturday once the anticipation was over and everything was actually happening.

What helped the most for me personally was to see everyone before the ceremony. Throughout the morning I worked with my friend Marie to set up tables, dishes, wine, linens, chairs, etc. I had my old beat up jeans and work boots on, and busied myself with things that needed to get done. My dad rode a rented bike to our house from the hotel to say hello around 10 am and that meant the world to me. Guests arrived a few hours before the ceremony to hang out and see the house, so when they came I was just Claire. Just me in my jeans the way I am comfortable. I was able to chat with friends and family as I worked rather than being sequestered in a room away from everyone. If any of you are dreading your wedding the way I was, and you have the flexibility to do things a little unorthodox, I'd highly recommend going the "no big entrance" route. It took so much pressure off. We also didn't do a "walking down the aisle" procession. I put on my dress about ten minutes before the ceremony, said "Ok, I think we're ready" and everyone walked down to the apple tree together and the wedding began. It was short and sweet. No droning on, no long-winded pontifications. It was soulful, but not sappy. Josh's grandmother wrote the ceremony and married us, and she was a class act. Grandma Marcia, you made the day. Our pup Fern was lying in the grass looking bored throughout the entire thing, which totally eased my nerves. Any time my throat started to get dry, I'd glance down at her and the moment would snap back into perspective.

After the ceremony we walked over to a flat grassy spot in our yard and had drinks and apps before heading to the tent for dinner. Our caterer knocked the ball out of the park. I can't wait to share the photos of the spread once I get them from the photographer, which apparently takes about 7 weeks. The wait is going to kill me!

The day went exactly as we had hoped. The weather held out for the ceremony and cocktails, then drizzled just a bit during dinner but didn't last and we were no worse for it. It was actually quite cozy with the fog rolling by on our hill. And thank goodness we didn't build that pergola because if we had we would not be dry and happy under the tent.

I'm not going to lie, the week leading up to the wedding was tough. We were stressed trying to finish the house. In one week we built a fence, four raised beds, planted about 20 flower bushes and potted too many other plants to count, built and painted a picnic table, cleaned the house from top to bottom, moved tons of construction supplies and power tools to the barn, graded the driveway, and attended another couple's wedding out of state. I had several meltdowns. Josh was no picnic either. Both of our heads were ready to explode. I bring this up for those of you who are also dreading the day, because our situation was far from ideal, but in the end the wedding day was amazing. Something bigger happens when the wedding starts. I hate to say that, it sounds so cheesy, but that's what happened. Everyone told me it would be wonderful and to be honest  I did not believe them, but I get it now. The love from friends and family blows you away, and I didn't have any concept of that until it actually happened. To all of the friends and family who trekked out to our little hill in Vermont this weekend, we love you so much and you made our year. Really!

Knowing what I do now, I'm glad we didn't go to city hall. City hall would have been a lot less stress and I would have been very happy with it, but seeing how excited our family was I'm glad we did it this way. People were crying and laughing, it was good stuff. It filled our hearts to visit with friends and family we don't get to see nearly often enough.

I can't wait to share the "real" photos from our photographers Ray + Kelly, but until then I've included a few of the images I snapped around dusk. This is just a small taste, lots more to come in November!

Images above, clockwise from top left: dinner tent  //  happy moms   //  string lights  //  our house with  finished garden beds, rock retaining wall, and fence!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

3 Days to Go

I'm sorry for the radio silence. We are now 3 days from the wedding and have been working hard to get the last minute parts done. Hopefully we will finish most of it today and have time to relax Thursday and Friday. I've been a ball of nerves. How did you all feel the week of your wedding? I don't like large groups or being the center of attention, so I am working every moment at not having a meltdown. Josh dislikes it when I say this, but honestly I just can't wait for it to be over. I hope I feel differently when it is happening, but for now that's just the honest truth. Anyone else? Please tell me I'm not alone.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homemade Salsa Recipe

We are up to our ears in tomatoes from the garden, so we decided to try our hand at homemade salsa last night. It turned out to be pretty easy, and we ended up canning 16 pints.

The recipe we used can be consumed fresh with no cooking, or you can heat it in a saucepan to bring out the flavor a bit more. We tried both ways and found that we preferred the roasted flavor of the cooked version. Below is the recipe we used to make a large batch for canning.

Tomato Salsa Recipe for Canning
*Makes about ten 8-oz jars or five pint jars

7 cups peeled, chopped tomato
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped bell pepper
8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (use more or less depending on how spicy you like your salsa)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped chilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling hot water for about 30-60 seconds, or until the skin wrinkles and starts to pull away from the fruit. Remove from boiling water and immediately dip in cold water. The skins will slip off easily.

Set peeled tomatoes aside and let cool while you chop other ingredients. Return to your tomatoes once cool, dicing and coring them.

In a large saucepan, combine tomatoes, onions, green pepper, jalapeno peppers, garlic, tomato paste, vinegar, cilantro, and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently until thickened, about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars, and lids. See this video for canning instructions. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of your jars when canning.

Voila! A little chopping, stirring, and canning, and we've got salsa for a year. The two hours of prep and cooking time was well worth it, and made a fun project for a rainy night. Let me know how it goes if any of you give this a shot.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Today we took a little road trip to The Alchemist brewery in Waterbury, VT. My wonderful friends Bryan and Emily are getting married this weekend in Pennsylvania, and being the foodies/beer snobs that they are (E&B, love you guys), their wedding gift request was a case of Heady-Topper beer from The Alchemist.

Heady-Topper was recently named the #1 beer by, and since then has blown up. The brewery was totally packed when we showed up at noon on a Tuesday, and every guest was walking out with a case and a huge smile. Aside from the crowds, the brewery was unassuming and completely unpretentious. They even had a few home grown tomato plants in the front of the building. Very Vermont, I would say!

On our way back from the brewery we made a thrifting stop (obvs.) then checked out a winery in Montpelier to see about wine for our own wedding. We left with a case of Vermont made wine then made the obligatory stroll through the vineyard and took some photos.

We go back to work on the house tomorrow before heading to PA for Bryan and Emily's wedding this weekend. I'll be back on Thursday with a post on the kitchen garden if we can make photo-worthy progress. Until then!

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Salvaged Work Table

As mentioned in a post last week, we salvaged a pair of old metal table legs from the dump a few months ago, and this week added a table top and lower shelf using tongue in groove wood boards that were in our barn when we bought the house. Here's what the legs looked like when we pulled them out of the dumpster...

We chose a nice shade of sage green and gave the legs a fresh coat of paint.

I'm not sure exactly what the plates are on the bottom. They have slots to allow for angling. I'm guessing those are meant to attach to the underside of the table, but because I wanted to use the cross bars to support a lower shelf, we decided to turn them upside down. I'm thinking it could be neat to add wheels to the bottom at some point.

Next, Josh made a simple frame for the table top using 2x4s and put together the wood plank top.

Josh screwed the frame into the planks, added a bit of trim around the edge, then attached the tabletop to the painted legs. Finally, I sanded the wood then treated it with a waterproofing finish, and the table was done. The extra work space is already coming in handy, and all for the price of a can of spray paint, screws, and a few 2x4s. Salvage projects are the best!