Weekend Reading

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Happy almost weekend!

Taking a pause from kitty pictures momentarily to share what else is going on in my little corner of the world.

After spending many moments thinking about all the things I used to do and miss I decided it was time to literally get back on the horse again. This past week I started taking horseback riding lessons and got back in a pool. I consider myself a relatively active and happy person, but my routine has gotten a bit stale as has my environment. I need, like any living breathing thing, stimulation. The happiness from the hours I spend on horseback and swimming laps will permeate into the rest of my days and add a healthy dose of pleasure.

I had a conversation last night with one of my oldest friends. We were talking about the difference between taking care of one’s self and selfishness. The latter is ugly, the former is necessary.  The former is about not waiting until every single thing has been completed on your to-do list, about tossing guilt into an imaginary paper sack on the side of the road (no real littering folks!!). It is about a careless afternoon wandering through bookstores and having lunch at your favorite diner. It is about taking yourself to the movies. It is about reading a book on a bench in the sun. It is about going to a baseball game sipping beer and eating one of those divine pretzels covered in mustard. It is about putting on your favorite music, pouring yourself a glass of wine and reorganizing your closet. And so much more.

Better Late Than Never
I finally started paying attention to podcasts. Talk about late to the party. I love The Kitchen Sisters Fugitive Waves and Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy. The former chronicles hidden bits of history and subjects who have shaped our diverse cultural landscape. The latter tells stories of people and place in the American South through food.

Living Mindfully
Be humble. Be courteous. Behave yourself (inside voices). Be friendly. Be modest. Say “please” and “thank you” always.

Link Love
Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution – a site for introverts. Let the education begin.

*Note, on the social media front….I removed myself officially from Facebook. I privatized my Instagram account. Deleted several boards from my Pinterest account. And, am only holding onto Twitter as I love it for a research tool.

For the longest  time I have been observing this world we live in – and how the smartest, kindest, bravest people I know are caught up in social media. These computerized tools have turned them – and for a time me too – into affirmation addicts. We post something and constantly check to see how many people have liked or commented on said post. After realizing this was not healthy and a giant waste of time I came to two conclusions (1) The reality of most social media feeds – pictures are posed, professionally lit, styled…they are not real – they are the best outtakes = they are no more real often times than the models on the pages of Vogue magazine. (2) The things I enjoy – that bring richness to my life – are not technological or industrial – they are things we make with our hands. These are real things. Lovely and human.

Kittens Post Two

The last time I adopted a kitten it was the age of film and I did not take as many photos. This digital age I am making up for it with these three. No promises there will not be more kitten posts of Faulkner, Harper, and Tennessee in the future :)

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Weekend Reading: Kittens

I really will get to a thorough Weekend Reading post soon, but for this week I hope the pics of the three adorable kittens I adopted earlier this week will do.

Introducing: Tennessee (a ham for the camera!!), Faulkner, and Harper. Since the feathered gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm are all named after my favorite female authors I took the opportunity to use the names of their male counterparts. *I was going to name Harper “Truman” but just couldn’t get the image of the former U.S. President out of my head and well, Harper Lee does have that book coming out in a few weeks (pre-ordered via Hello Hello Books!!) I went ahead with it. The three are brothers adopted via a cat rescue. They are the sweetest things. Their number one favorite toys? The trash can and the printer cable. Wild furballs of energy they exhaust each other.

Without further adieu…

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The ham of the bunch – Tennessee. Before I got him home the image of him shouting ‘Hey Stella!’  just came to mind. He has this overwhelming personality to him = cuddles!!

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The only picture of Faulkner and Harper both in the frame and not in motion. Oh boys!!

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Harper, who is a tad lighter than Faulkner and little bigger too.

 

 

Belated Weekend Reading

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Loretta Lynn said “You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread – stale and dry.” Well folks, all this growing has meant a lot less posting in recent weeks.

Things I have been up to:
Reading – Faulkner, Anne Rivers Siddons, more Alexandra Fuller… Signing up for horseback riding lessons – cannot wait. Signing up to volunteer for Special Surfers Nights. Loads of research for three writing/creative projects I am in love with. Planting vegetables and flowers. Fighting a losing battle with the resident woodchuck(s) – I may have the upper hand after tomorrow with higher fences – so there! Beekeeping – splitting hives, installing new ones in Portland (pics at top). Stitching a shirt for me and one for a friend. Taking classes online for free with my beloved Coursera. Nursing a wild duck some jack#$ hit with a car (as of this morning he is with a local waterfowl authority/nurse/Dr. Doolittle person). Filling out paperwork for/and meeting my new kittens – what do you think of Tennessee, Faulkner, and Harper? Okay so they are three boys and Harper is of course for Harper Lee – but the name Harper could go either way and I just don’t love the name Truman (though I love Capote’s writing). Hanging out with a friend up the coast – sitting outside on a dock eating mussels mmm. Hanging out with another eating Somali food in Lewiston and attending another uber talented friend’s photography show opening. Having tea – so civilized – with another in Portland. Eating more of those ridiculously good biscuits with the homemade jam and whipped butter at Tandem Bakery. Hanging out at the library. I did not realize how much I missed hardcover books! Getting a new (old/used) Filson ruck sack I am in love with and will use every chance I get = road trips, out of the country trips…

And…I keep thinking about how I value things I do with my hands – and how with the exception of using the computer for research and Netflix – I am so uninterested in technological and industrial things. I want to make things – food, pottery, clothes – garden – ride horses – real stuff. Marketing folks call this “slow living” I call it humanness. There has been a loss of kindness in this world with all the tech/industrial advancements. It has greatly and sadly affected how people behave and are raising their kids.

Every day I confront rudeness and ugliness. Whatever happened to people holding the door open for the next person, saying please and thank you, giving advance notice to canceling an appointment, responding in appropriate time, not using your mobile device during a meal, inside (vs. outside) voices, giving your seat up to an elderly person, etiquette at the dining table, and on and on.

In the vein of using one’s hands – this might be of interest to some: MOFGA’s orcharding workshops, including Summer Orchard Care on June 27 with MOFGA’s organic orchardist, C.J. Walke, and Bud Grafting on August 8 with Seth Yentes of MOFGA-certified organic North Branch Farm. For fee and registration information on these and other events, please click on the Events tab at www.mofga.org.

Weekend Reading (aka Bee Update and Swarm Info)

I promise more of a proper Weekend Reading post next week. This is really just a “here are some photos I took of today’s hive inspection” – in which we (my mentor J and I) split two hives and moved around some queen cells. We also fed a lot of drone brood to the featured gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm – side note I am beginning to think some of my gals are more like dogs the way they tug at something like a dog would a bone and then go hide it before devouring it – dog like?

Anyhow, we split the hives to create two new ones in Portland (I will be sharing pics soon as next week I believe) and so J would have some queen eggs to rear queens – he says he likes my queens because they are so calm.

For more on reasons to split hives go here.

This is smack dab in the middle of the season when a beekeeper will split some hives. It is also when folks will report seeing swarms. Note, swarms are when bees are at their calmest. Unless you go sticking your neck in the middle of one or something stupid chances are you can observe them (a swarm is a beautiful thing) safely from several feet away.  **If you do spot a swarm please contact an experienced beekeeper and/or this hotline.  I would imagine The Honey Exchange in Portland might also be interested, but the hotline or a beekeeping friend really should be your first contact.

OK, pics:

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What you are seeing:

Pics 1-4 interior hives

Pic 5 split I’ll take into town to install next week

Pic 6 look close and you’ll see brood!! (yup, look like tiny maggots)

Pic 7 J’s truck being loaded with frames he’ll take back home

Pic 8 J’s queen castle or throne – as he says shouldn’t a queen have a home? He had this made for him – it’s so cool with three compartments so he can transport the beginnings of three colonies.

 

Weekend Reading

Has it really been three weeks since I posted here? Spring SPRUNG here in Maine and time has begun to fly by.

There’s been a coup (followed by futbol), an earthquake, the saga of Deflategate, NFL draft, more riots, dangerously bad reporting of the riots by Fox, and then in my corner of The Shire: chickens, bees, gardening, and stitching. The ice cream stands have all opened up where I am and the out-of-state license plates are here and in Portland in droves.  I polished off a few more books including Alexandra Fuller’s incredible Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Her writing inspires me to be braver, more accepting, and a generally better/more interesting person. It also brings Africa to my front porch, where I sit and watch the chickens wander about and enjoy an occasionally strong whiff of the lilac bush when the breeze winds up and around my way.

Wishing you and yours a fun long weekend. In honor of our vets and those still in uniform, a couple charities that help military families: Operation Homefront and Wounded Warrior Project.

A few pics from the past month…

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I’m repurposing t-shirts into corsets for myself and friends using the Alabama Chanin pattern.

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Went to NYC for a few days to visit friends and attend a couple meetings. Hung out in Brooklyn Heights (went to The Long Island Bar, Sahadi’s, and Damascus Bakery), had crazy good pancakes at a Chelsea neighborhood diner, drank really strong gin punch at The Dead Rabbit, wandered around SoHo (went to Rudy’s Music with a musician/artist friend and got to hold a John Monteleone guitar), and spent time at the American Museum of Natural History.  Thanks M & JW!!!

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It is swarm season in Maine, so I have been dutifully checking my hives for closed queen cups (top bee pic shows open ones). I will likely go in tomorrow morning and make a couple splits = two new colonies will emerge that I will install in the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious hive bodies a creative associate painted for me. Those hive bodies will be installed in Portland.

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One of my favorite gals, “Big Momma” or MFK Fisher, snagged one of her toes on something in the coop and has been hobbling around the yard. She is still eating and able to move around, so not too worried yet. Her favorite spot is usually at my feet. Always has been.

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Get Lost: My Hometown: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

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I am super excited to share Jessica Antola’s (adopted) neighborhood of Carroll Gardens in the NYC borough of Brooklyn with you today. Jessica is a talented photographer I met in Maine (she photographed the gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm for a TBD article) who shares a love of Africa. Check out her website here!

How long have you lived in Brooklyn ?

I’ve lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn for eight years, since Feb 2007 … and the time has flown!

What does it feel like in spring in Brooklyn?

There is an overall sense of relief and buzzing energy in the air. More people are on the streets, smiling and strolling about. Everyone comes out to thaw and new buds and flowers begin popping up everywhere. The landscape transforms from a grey, lifeless world to one filled with the most saturated, bright palate. The energy of this daily dramatic shift is infectious. Spring and fall are my favorites times of year in NY

What’s your favorite way to get about the area?

On foot or bike.

What do you miss most about your neighborhood when you’re away?

Being walking distance to basically everything I need as well as running into
friends on the streets.

What would surprise a newcomer to your area?

The Italian history and ongoing strength of the Italian community in the neighborhood. Carroll Gardens is full of Catholic churches, funeral parlors, Italian gentlemans’ societies/ clubs, various shrines to saints and the Virgin Mary and groups of older men speaking Italian are found on many corners.

Where are your favorite places to go with friends?

Restaurants/ bars:
Long Island Bar
Prime Meats
The Brooklyn Social Club
Hibino
Fort Defiance
Colonie
Rucola
The Brooklyn Inn
Pok Pok

Shops:
Bird
Book Court
Sahadis
Erie Basin (in Red Hook)
Antique/ vintage stores on Atlantic Ave

Where do you go for weekend getaways?

Shelter Island
Storm King
DIA Beacon
Upstate

Image by Jessica Antola from The Long Island Bar.

Bee Update

I am happy to report all four of my bee hives made it through the winter. Here are a few pics from a quick inspection we did this past weekend. I will continue to feed them a sugar/water mixture until the dandelions appear – so probably another 7 -10 days. The second pic is of bees festooning or hanging from the inner cover.  Nothing to be concerned about, but definitely a hive to watch closely during the next few weeks leading up to swarming season.  I like to think this festooning I am seeing is akin to NFL players heading to spring training camp. You can never start preparing/working out too early…

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Get Lost: My Hometown: Bloomfield, Kentucky

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Have you been to Kentucky?  You should!! It is the home of some of the greatest bourbon, horses, home cooking, hospitality, farmland, and college basketball in this country. During my most recent trip to the “Bluegrass State” I visited Lexington, horse country, and Bloomfield (home to my favorite antiques shop).

I met Vicki Robinson years ago during one of my first visits. She graciously agreed to participate in this travel series.

How long have you lived in Kentucky?

64 years

What does it feel like in spring in Bloomfield?

The birds are singing, the grass is green, and the trees are already budding out. Tulip trees, fruit trees, redbud trees, and dogwood trees are just a few that are full in bloom. Lilac bushes and beautiful tulips are in every yard. The temperature has been warm, and after a cold and snowy winter it is welcome relief.

What do you miss most about your hometown when you’re away?

I love the rolling hills. I miss the smallness. Big cities are nice to visit, but the fact I know most people in town takes away any loneliness I might have in my heart.

What would surprise a newcomer to your area?   The friendliness of the people in my town. You won’t be a stranger very long.

Where are your favorite places to go with friends?

Bloomfield has Hometown Pizza in town. Hometown has excellent food in a very friendly atmosphere. If antiquing is your favorite thing to do, shop at Nettie Jarvis Antiques that has 5,000 square feet of high quality American Antiques. The Old Sugar Valley Country Store has the feel of an old country store filled with antiques, KY Proud Products, books from KY authors, artists and potters.

Bardstown 13 miles away has many places to visit. My Old Kentucky Home which is the Rowan House who invited Stephen Foster to visit and it inspired him to write the song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” In the summer there is and outdoor theater that shows “The Stephen Foster Story.” Bardstown has an excellent Civil War Museum of the Western Theater. Nelson County is considered the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” Some of the local distillers are Barton Brands, Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Jim Beam, and Makers Mark.

Some of the restaurants in the Bardstown area are Kurtz Restaurant, Mammy’s Kitchen, Harrison Smith House, RickHouse, The Old Talbot Tavern, and Kreso’s Restaurant.

Where do you go for weekend getaways? (e.g. any favorite places to stay/eat/shop in Lexington and/or Louisville – I loved visiting both those cities during my visits to Bloomfield) Louisville, KY has a spring and fall meet at Churchill Downs. Of course, the Derby is the first weekend in May. Two weeks prior to the Derby is Thunder over Louisville where fireworks are happening on a bridge over the Ohio River. Keenland Race Track meets in the spring and fall in Lexington, KY.

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Weekend Reading

Happy almost weekend!!

It’s been a few weeks, but here’s another “Show and Tell” entry,  in which someone tells us about something special to them.  *In case you missed the last one on my friend Samantha of  Gathering of Stitches check it out here.

Here, Allison Carroll Duffy (Master Preserver and author of Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin) writes about the mortar and pestle a family member gifted to her. (Copy and Photos by Allison)

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Mortar and Pestle
by Allison Carroll Duffy

Almost twenty years ago, my parents decided to sell their house and live aboard their boat. They brought a handful of things with them, put some items in storage, held massive yard sales to get rid of other things, and gave a lot away. One my most favorite things in my kitchen today is a mortar and pestle that my stepmother Ann gifted to me at that time. I remember it displayed on a shelf in our family’s kitchen when I was growing up, and I recall it being quite special to her. She’d acquired it in her twenties, during the decade that she’d lived in Germany and Greece in the late 1950s and 1960s, earning her Doctorate in philosophy. It’s not a time of her life that she ever talked about very much, at least not with her children, but I’ve always imagined that the mortar and pestle must have held strong memories for her of that time long, long in her past–though I’ve never known what these memories might be. I don’t actually know what the mortar and pestle is made of; it looks like ceramic, but it’s heavy as a rock. It’s probably the heaviest implement in my kitchen. It has a smooth, almost dull, off-white finish, yellowed a bit from age. The handle of the pestle is made of wood, now well-worn and slightly cracked. I’ve used it for so many things over the years–grinding all kinds of spices, cracking dried grains, crushing nuts, crushing ice, grinding coffee beans when my coffee grinder was broken, and attempting to break up blocks of beeswax (the last one of which, admittedly, was only marginally successful, and gummed up the pestle a bit). I’ve always kept the mortar and pestle in a place where I can enjoy looking at it as well as using it–it’s currently displayed on an old pine hutch in my dining room. To me, it is truly as beautiful as it is useful, and in my mind, that’s about the best kind of kitchen tool there is.

Better Late Than Never

Soooo excited for this new series from Netflix on some of the world’s great chefs. Here’s the description: Chef’s Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world’s most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef, featuring Ben Shewry (Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken in Järpen Sweden), Francis Mallmann (El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA, USA), Dan Barber (Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns and in New York City, USA) and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) and thier unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven. Chef’s Table premieres exclusively on Netflix, April 26th, wherever Netflix is available. And, a link to the trailer.

Because I’m oddly obsessed with prison culture (gardens, food, drink) – this recent Lucky Peach article by Kevin Pang on the food at Westville Correctional Facility. While a good article, personally I am far more interested in “Spread” – there was a fantastic article in an old issue of Gastronimca on the making of this inmate made food.  Want to go down that rabbit hole with me? Here’s a link to the article.

Have a fantastic weekend!!

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about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.

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