When we got there, we discovered that I hadn't read the website closely enough. The store is open daily until 5:30, but the apple orchards are only open on the weekends.
So we had a good laugh, and spent our time in the store drinking fresh hot cider, buying apple cider doughnuts, apple pies and more.
Since we came to pick apples, we each chose a peck of apples from the store's display bushels filled with apples the owners had previously picked.
Four pecks a bushel makes, or so I believe. We were all ready to begin the annual ritual of making apple butter.
I washed the apples;
Sliced them in quarters;
Put them in some very huge pots to cook;
Soon all the apples were cooked. The house smelled heavenly.
A bushel of cooked apples was passed little by little through the Foley food mill.
And four pots of applesauce were set to boil for hours and hours (actually days). I cook them over medium heat stirring every five minutes - so this is a slow laborious process.
Then I added the rest of the ingredients from the recipe and the spices that turn the applesauce into apple butter: cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Now the house really smelled delicious.
Now each pot was a golden brown. It was just a matter of cooking down the spiced applesauce until it was thick and rich.
Finally, after a few days of cooking and stirring and stirring and cooking, the apple butter was complete. I cleaned and sterilized the Mason jars, filled each one with apple butter, and sealed them tight in boiling water according to the canning instructions. I had such a bounty that this year I'll have more than enough apple butter to last the season.
The best part of all? Primogeniture actually tried and liked apple butter for the very first time. Secundogeniture and I have been fans for a long time. Now we've brought one more into the fold. Life is good. We love to eat it on fresh baked bread, English muffins, heck, just about anything!
While hiking the Connecticut's Appalachian Trail this weekend, I was caught up in the beauty of the surroundings and the rugged terrain. In the middle of nowhere, often high up in the mountains, we found solitary stone walls. If you've ever been to Connecticut, you know that we grow stones like other states grow crops. In fact, our stones are often referred to as Connecticut potatoes. They just keep coming up out of the ground.
Here's a sheer rock wall, looking from the the bottom going straight up. But this isn't exactly the type of stone wall I'm talking about.
These stone walls are everywhere.
Some were low by the Housatonic River. Some were high in the hills.
The one unifying characteristic is that they were made from big heavy rocks with no apparent signs of ownership - current or former - in sight.
And the stone walls are here, and there, and everywhere.
Who built these stone walls? When were they built?
Yes, the cairns are recent, but the stone walls are likely more than 200 years old.
If these stones could talk... the stories they would tell.
This weekend we went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail - or AT for those in the know.
If you're not a backpacker, please think about going for a 12 mile hike... and now think about going for that same 12 mile hike with a 40-lb pack strapped to your back. Now think about that same hike - and think about climbing up to 1,200 feet with that same 40-lb pack on your back.
We hiked from Kent, CT to the Cornwall Bridge - up in the mountains with the beautiful fall foliage just beginning to change -
and along the Housatonic River.
We camped two nights at the AT marked campsite along the trail. I changed from my SmartWool hiking socks to my handknit sleeping socks.
And even with a temperature range of 49-65 degrees, I wore shorts the whole weekend.
Of course I brought some knitting. In fact, in my endeavor to help my sister and go through my yarn stash, I found some wonderful sock yarn called Birch that was a gift many moons ago. I brought it along as I thought it was the perfect sock yarn for the AT.
Oh, you probably can't see it in that picture since it's so well camouflaged against the birch tree.
Finally, this morning around 12:30 we left the AT and took the descent trail down to Cornwall Bridge - with the final section alongside the road.
It was a very successful weekend and we all had a blast.
Next year, I think I'll hit the treadmill a month solid before the trek - and program some very steep inclines into the workout. Oh, and I should probably strap on that 40-lb backpack for the dress rehearsal.
I knit up my first three mice for Christine's charity project.
I used leftover Paton's Classic Wool Merino (NO SUPERWASH WOOL!) as I have tons leftover from my felted bag days in 2004-2005.
If you're going to make some cat nip mice for the cats in your life, Christine offered her finishing tips:
I put the catnip in a piece of pantyhose so it is contained and to be honest I have not measured it. I use some poly stuffing in the nose and put the catnip mostly in the back end of the mouse. Before I felt, I do french knots for eyes, sew on a few stitches for the little pink nose and thread through some whiskers (after felting). Sew up the bottom and you are good to go.
There you have it. Are you already knitting some cat nip mice?
If you were to poll my family and close friends, they would all tell you that I like to help others. I always have. It's a big part of who I am. In fact, yesterday at a very sad funeral, BF, MIL and I were talking about what's on our bucket lists. Of course, I have some of the traditional items - travel; watch my kids grow to be happy and successful in life; grandchildren, and retirement somewhere fun with BF - but high on my list is to help others in a permanent meaningful way. I might have to win the lottery to fulfill that wish! But I do like to help people. So it was easy when Christine sent me a pattern in the mail with a plea to help her knit some Catnip Mice
Christine sent me these cute pictures of last year's mice.
She asks that her friends each knit 3 mice in worsted wool (Lamb's pride, Cascade 220, Classic Wool Merino) and send them to her.
She'll embellish, felt, stuff, sew, and add eyes and whiskers.
Once they're done, she sells them to collect donations for her two favorite cat charities. It's part of her annual cat food drive for the kitties she loves so dearly.
Many of you know that for several years I have been donating both time and resources to The Stratford Cat Project (SCP) www.stratfordcatproject.org and FeralCare Inc. www.feralcare.com. In addition to holding my annual holiday cat food drive, I would like to donate all the money from the sale of hand knit catnip mice to these very worthy organizations. All money will go directly to help the 81 cats currently housed by SCP and the monthly low cost spay/neuter clinics run by FeralCare. Last year, I sold 57 mice to my colleagues at the high school, earning $285.00 for the organizations. The mice are so popular that after they sold out, I had to feverishly make more before holiday vacation!
I am asking if each one of you would knit at least three catnip mice with the enclosed pattern. It does not take very much yarn (about 20 yards) and is a good use of some scrap yarn that you may have. The only requirement is that it be 100% wool so it can be felted. I will take care of the felting, stuffing with catnip, sewing and embellishing with eyes, nose and whiskers. I just need the mouse “bodies” knitted. If you need yarn, please ask me; I have plenty to spare.
If you choose to contribute your time and talent, please have the mouse “bodies” to me by Thursday, December 1st. I really appreciate your help with this. If you have any questions, please contact me. Thanks again for sharing your gift with some loving and deserving felines.
What a great project! You get to use up your odds and ends of leftover 100% wool and help kitties at the same time. What could be better? And because we like Christine so much and respect anyone who knits to raise money for their favorite cause... Wilma is going to put your name in the raffle for some yarn (and other goodies for every 3 mice you knit and get to Major Knitter before December 1st. (Comment or email me for mailing info). Plus - for everyone who donates mice, I'll donate some cat food in your name.
1 skein Mountain Colors Hand Painted Yarn
60% superwash wool 25% mohair 15% nylon
gauge - 56 sts/in
needle size 3-4
I hope you'll be able to help with Christine's cause. Meow!
My sister Ellen got her first check today and wrote this note to me and to all of you who have helped so far:
How do I thank you and Gary and all of your amazingly generous knitting friends for rallying around our family as we put our home back together from the Missouri River flood? You have been my steady rock as we could do nothing but wait and watch through June, wait through July, wait through August, wait into September and then begin the demolition and recovery journey. I am so overwhelmed by the magnitude of what it takes just to return tonormal that thinking logically and communicating clearly are not my strengths right now. Thank you for filling in the gaps and being the voice of clarity!
The gift that you and your friends have given us will make returning to live in the half of our house that is livable much nicer as it will make it fresh and beautiful with new carpet! I have made an aggresive goal of being able to move in by Christmas! (okay, some decisions are still powered by emotion!) I don't know if that is practical with the drying out time frame...but you have inspired the painter in all of us to press on! Although I may have to send the kids to Grandma's as they really do want to "help" paint!
Words do not express our gratitude, and yet we say Thank-you!
Thank you all for your generous support of my yarn sale to support my sister. I really can't thank you enough for all your generosity. It means so much to me.
But I thought I should give you an update. Ellen went to the local Menard's and looked at carpet (as all the carpet in the house has been removed due to the flooding). She was suffering some pretty major sticker shock when she got the estimate.
Won't she be surprised when she gets the check in the mail today?! Everything that's been received to date has already been sent to her. And there's still more coming in.
Did I mention that I have the best knitting buddies ever?