Soup Greens

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Today is Book Group Day. It is my turn to host. My house is not quite ready for guests, (see Winter Sewing) so I am having it at my cousin’s. Our group is perhaps a bit more about the food than the books we read and being hostess means crafting some sort of fabulous soup to go with all the other pot luck items. We are rarely disappointed so when it is my turn I feel a tiny bit of stress to come up with something a) different and b) edible.

You might remember me talking a little about snow this winter. Well it hasn’t stopped yet. A snow day from school again. While the white stuff was piling up outside and a 40 car pile up was being cleaned up in Bangor (very scary stuff) and my husband took off to sno-blow ours and the neighbors’ yards I pulled out all the things I bought yesterday for my soups (2) and realized it was another blog post in the making! I searched through all my cook books and the recipes I decided on were Asparagus Vichyssoise and Lettuce Soup. Both from this cookbook

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Here are some photos of the process, I think you will see why I felt Okay about posting this on Gathering Greens! When life gives you white, go green any way you can.

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The collection from the grocery store

 

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Lettuce simmering

 

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Asparagus Vichyssoise

 

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I also bought some ripe avocados for guacamole

 

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Maybe we will try growing some green with these avocado pits.

 

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The bowl is a little too small

 

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Lettuce Soup, Asparagus Vichyssoise and Guacamole in snow bank.

 

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I was even wearing my favorite green sweater.

Oh I forgot to tell you what we are reading this week.

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A Maine story and author, no snow involved. (well maybe a little)

 

Apple Tree, Apple Tree…

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I just found this book at a nearby library and decided to bring it home on a whim, after all, it is way past Christmas and we are all a bit tired of winter around here. I am happy that I allowed myself this opportunity. I was attracted initially, I think by the “Little House” quality of the pictures and of course the old fashionedness. (I know that is not a word) I now love it because of the tree. That apple tree is reminding me of my own from my early years, right outside this door. Mine is not doing too well these days but is well over 100 years old and still hanging on, barely.

This book, “Apple Tree Christmas” by Trinka Hakes Noble was published in 1984 by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York. I believe she also did the illustrations as the dedication page says,

‘For my wise and wonderful Father, who made a drawing board for me many years ago… on which I drew this book for him, many years later…’

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In this book the family still live in a cozy, barn “apartment” with the animals below as the father has not had time to build the house yet. They are preparing for winter by picking apples to save for cider, pies, the horse and Christmas decorations from the large and lovely apple tree in their yard. Once the apples are harvested the girls can get back to their tree house activities. One likes to swing from a vine that grows with the tree and the other, the author, likes to sit in her special spot that she calls her studio, to draw. As Christmas approaches they must batten  down the hatches and stay inside as a three day blizzard comes. (We can relate this year!) The blizzard takes down their tree. The only thing Dad can do is chop it up for firewood to keep them warm. The girls are very sad about losing their friend. Enjoying the Christmas preparations is not easy this year. Ah, but Dad has a plan, as he is chopping away down below, he saves the very most important parts of the tree for special, always to be remembered, presents.  He hangs the vine from the rafters for a swing and he built a desk from the “studio” branch.

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My Tree

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This picture is what is left of my childhood tree. It is hard to tell with all the snow but it sits close to our driveway, below a stone wall. It had a natural border of bushes and smaller trees so it was close by home but still private. This limb is one of two that used to run parallel. The other is gone now but was right underneath this one and ran along the ground until meeting a large rock and then swung up and over the rock. It was my house, my horse, my garden and kitchen, elephants on safari, whatever we happened to be playing at the time. The best part were the two rocks that were right underneath. The large roundish one made the perfect throne with the flowering limb right above and the other was a flat, moss covered wonder that made the perfect floor to all the games we could come up with. Paradise really.

Someone recently asked if I wanted him to prune and take away the dead parts in return for apples for a cider press. He can have all the apples he wants but I don’t think I will let him do the trimming, yet. Maybe someday I’ll be ready for my own desk or horse made from that branch.

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This is the look we are dreaming of these days.

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Old Books or Winter Reading 2015

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I love to collect old children’s books. The covers and pictures are sure to be interesting at the least, and absolutely amazingly beautiful at best. My Little Library, the one we are seriously trying to bring up to date, is full of these treasures. As with most of my passions, this one is full of contradictions. I want to update and bring in the new, but really cannot bear to get rid of these fabulous old treasures. I fear my house will end up with sagging book cases. Who am I kidding? It was long ago that I had room on the cases, the books are stacked all over floors, shelves, beds, tables…

Here are a few I have been enjoying this winter.

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Happy Days on the Farm by Ella H. Hay Beckley-Cardy Co, 1941

pictures by Jack Merryweather

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Pretty adorable book about a couple of city kids going to live with their grandparents on the farm while their parents are away. It has all the usual adventures, rides in horse carts, puppies being born, the county fair and an old clunker of a car adds to the fun. My favorite part? The description of getting the mail, “Some got letters. some got postcards. Some got nothing at all. They liked to talk to their friends and watch other people get their mail.” Sounds just like the post office in my town when I was a kid.

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Jeremy Mouse by Clara Atwood Fitts, Beckley-Cardy Co, 1937

Ills. by The Author

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Jeremy Mouse finds a happy home in the attic studio of an artist. He shares the space with a collection of characters, dolls that come to life when the owner is out of the room and creatures borrowed from nature, living in a fish tank.

The best part of this book is the way it came to me, It was a party favor from a very fab wedding I attended last summer. There were stacks of vintage books and salt & pepper shakers and other cool things on all the tables for the guests to choose from. I am so glad I was assigned the table with this book! I mean LOOK at those illustrations.

I just realized that the these two books have the same publisher.

And Now

 

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Now for This Charmer, Maggie Rose Her Birthday Christmas by Ruth Sawyer, Harper & Brothers, 1952.

ONE of the best parts, Pictures by Maurice Sendak.

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“This was her secret place. She had claimed it from the woods that stretched from the plowed fields to the other side of the Point-the respectable side of the Point.”

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I cannot even begin to tell of the thrill I got when I discovered this gem on the shelf of my little town library. As I have mentioned before I am the President of the newly re-formed library group that is working hard to keep this sweet little building full of treasures alive and well.

Franklin Library in snow
Franklin Library in snow

Ruth sawyer had lived in or visited (not sure which) Hancock Point, Maine, The town right next door and wrote this charming tale of a little girl from a rather large, perhaps lazy family referred to as “those Bunkers”. She is the third of seven children who although they never have much to eat or new clothes or a house to be proud of are still full of love and fun. Maggie Rose is the sensible member of this family, she wants nice things and tries to clean up her parents act, they, in return think she is the most special creature ever born because she is so different from them. She really wants a special celebration for her Christmas Birthday this year, 1951. She goes though a summer and fall working extra hard to make enough money to have a party with all the town invited. As you can imagine, she has a few misadventures on the way but in the end, with help from all, gets the party and the family she has always wanted.

This book is full of characters that actually lived right here in my neighborhood back in the 1950’s. The retired sisters, the Crabtree’s and Captain Foss who had a schooner named the Jerry B. that he sailed around Hancock Point and Frenchman’s Bay. Of course the thing that really caught my fancy is the fact that I have Bunker ancestry too! And of course, do not forget that the pictures are done by MAURICE SENDAK!!!

Since I found this it has been passed around to all the board members and other town folk and we are all in love with Maggie Rose. Some of us have even ordered our own copies.

Winter Sewing

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Do other people have a fabric addiction? I think they do. I can’t be the only one. I may be one of the few that buy cloth just to look at, however. I really am not much of a sewer but I have a Singer

Newly named, Maude!
Newly named, Maude!

 

( I think I’ll call her Maude) and sometimes I actually do cut a piece of fabric to make something, hopefully of use.

 

Yesterday I decided to go to our local discount/salvage store and buy some white cotton to finish off the curtains for the “new” kitchen we are working on.

Kitchen under construction.
Kitchen under construction.

The word “we” may be untruthful, I have not done much  any work on this project it is really all The Husband.

I was seriously ONLY going to buy the white stuff and nothing else when I walked in but you see there was this really awesome row of plaids and one in particular caught my eye. The fact that it was green helped me justify my need for it. I could do a blog post about Gathering Green fabric, cool I really need it! and this other one that works as a nice contrast, and those packages of ric rac and iron on ribbons…

I started the curtains, actually got three sets done (three more to go), but I knew I had to get on with that plaid. Today is snowy, again, and what better way to spend a snowy day in February, the 986th snowy day, than making balsam pillows. I made eight, one is quite a bit smaller than the others due to the fabric width and my inability to do proper math.

Directions;

Cut, Iron, Sew (leave space to fill), Fill & Sew.   easy

The Purchase
The Purchase

 

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The cutting board.

 

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Yes, me, Yes, pajamas and Yes, my PJ ensemble includes 3 wool sweaters, a scarf and wool socks.

 

Little Balsam Pillow in fresh snow.
Little Balsam Pillow in fresh snow.

 

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Eight in a row on really pretty tray.

 

 

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Finished, in sweet basket with holly sprig.

 

I used the store bought, Paine’s Balsam, Made in Maine this time but soon to figure out how to make my own with all the leftover wreaths and tips from my business, Winter Wreaths.

Did I mention it was snowing here?
Did I mention it was snowing here?

 

 

Winterwood Market Pop-up Shop

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A long week of heavy snowstorms up here in Maine. I do mean that, we have had more snow in the last two weeks than the last 5 years! (I might exaggerate a little) The man of the house was away in Quebec doing this:

Sculpture by the Maine Team at the Winter Carnival in Quebec, Canada
Sculpture by the Maine Team at the Winter Carnival in Quebec, Canada 2015.

  While we struggled with our own world of white right here.

Front door to the wreath shop and now, Winterwood Market.
Front door to what was formerly (last month) known as the wreath shop, now morphed into , Winterwood Market.

Back in December it seemed like a really good idea to turn this space into a little craft shop in the off season. So I made this poster

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 and got some people, mainly my sister, excited about a sort of pop-up shop for crafts and vintage… I was ready to call it quits when we kept getting whammed with storm after storm after storm, furnaces broke, cars were stuck, schools were cancelled, it was a real mess. Somehow, the day I had chosen turned out to be nice and sunny so Winterwood (aptly named) Market opened up with fabulous goods from 12 crafters and a Tea by my sister with donations to benefit our little library. It was a fun time actually, probably because we all needed to get out and see some color so badly.

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Back Yards

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Behind this house there is a trail, http://sunrisetrail.org

134 It used to be the railroad track. I miss the railroad track. This is okay though, at least it is well groomed. It is a trail all the way from Ellsworth, Maine to the Canadian border in Calais, Maine. People drive ATV’s and snowmobiles on it. A few try to run, walk, cross country ski or bike. I walk sometimes, it goes past our beautiful mountain, Schoodic http://www.mainetrailfinder.com and it goes behind some folks houses.

At twenty something I left for a trip West on a train, Boston to Denver.

Here we are after arriving  in the Rockies. (Me on the right)
Here we are after arriving in the Rockies. (Me on the right)

 I remember a friend saying, before I left, how lucky I was to get to see all those backyards. It stuck with me even though I was not quite sure of what she meant at the time. I did pay attention to what I was seeing out the train windows.

Here are today’s photos of the backyards I love the most, the ones right here at home and my own, the one I spent a happy childhood in.

Home.
Home.
The blueberry factory
The blueberry factory

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My friend Poose's house.
My friend Poose’s house.
The Library and Annie Gray's house.
The Library and Annie Gray’s house.

By the way, it is snowing now, again.

Hello world

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I guess I’ll let that “Hello World” title stay. It does feel a bit like I am starting a new life here. I’ll start with my title, “Gathering Greens”. Last year my husband and I bought a wreath business from the folks where I have worked every fall for the last  6 years. We just finished up the first season and it was an interesting experience. I think we enjoyed it. It was certainly fun to get my childhood barn fixed up and decorated. It was also fun to meet all the wonderful wreath makers and tippers (more on that later). My husband became a tipper and gathered greens in abundance for wreaths and centerpieces. We learned a lot and hope to do even better things next year.

My husband in his decked out truck Gathering Greens!
My husband in his decked out truck Gathering Greens!
One of our wreaths with skis made by my great-grandfather.
One of our wreaths with skis made by my great-grandfather.

The other parts of “Green Gathering” come from the fact that I am a lover of foraging for things in the wild. I am not much of a gardener but know where to find plantain and shore greens (goose tongue), mushrooms and of course dandelions.  I also love foraging for the perfect vintage find, the ultimate reused “green”. I am full of ideas for crafts, sewing, paper… and although none ever come out the way they look in my head I promise to show them to you (some of them) here.

I live in the small town that my family settled in the 1700’s. I love that I have this deep family and community history so close at hand. I always have said that I was raised “Victorian” a lot of Great Aunts and Grand Parents around.

A row of Aunts and Great Grandmother, and the little one is my Grandfather.
A row of Aunts and Great Grandmother, and the little one is my Grandfather.

I also gather educational ideas and children’s books. I am a children’s librarian by heart so you may see a few of my favorites from time to time. My kids may pop up too I have logged a lot of hours driving them around but now everyone has their license and sometimes I miss the moments in the car with them.

At the moment It is snowing, has been snowing for what feels like years up here in Maine and it is hard to imagine “Green” with the snowbanks up over the windows, I know it is out there-somewhere?