Autumn Dinner Party

Remember this gourd wreath I made?  Well over at Violets & Laurel we made it our centerpiece for our Autumn dinner party.  Head over there to see all the details and for other great events we put on.




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Renting A Vacation Cabin

Looking back, we typically vacation in cabin rentals.  We did for our honeymoon, for Christmas and we even rented a one room cabin at a KOA when we went to Niagara Falls.  Ryan did the same when he surprised me with this New Hampshire vacation!  For this trip he chose to rent a cabin on a picturesque lake in North Conway, NH.  Vacation rentals can be found all over the inter-webs simply by googling the location and cabin rentals.  There is always Craigslist (be careful of scams) and vrbo.com where Ryan found this cabin.
Reasons I like to vacation in rental cabins:

- We could invite lots of friends and family to join us.

- We could bring our dog Glacier!

- There's a kitchen to cook our own meals, which is very attractive if you are allergy free.

- We could relax! and not always have to be on the go to find our next meal or place to go.

- We could take advantage of the property for things we would have to pay for if we were staying in a hotel.  In this cabin we were able to swim (at all hours, even the night), have camp fires, kayak, canoe, grill and enjoy the scenery!

- We could play loud music and laugh all night during our spade tournaments.

I'm already wondering where our next vacation rental will be!


Things to Do in October Around New Hampshire

Ryan surprised me with an trip to New Hampshire last week before our lives started to get a little hectic busy.  It sure was an amazing surprise.  He put so much planning into it by renting us a lake cabin and secretly inviting our friends to join us up there.  I really had no idea all of it was being planned. 

We ended up going up to New Hampshire during prime time when all the leaf peepers (yes that is what they are really called!) head up to see the tree colors.  This post is to tell you the places we went to see to act more as a guide for others looking for activities while there. I will be posting more about our adventures and the lake cabin a little later.
Let me first start out saying we were in the North Conway, NH area.  
Everything we did was within an hours drive.

Mt. Washington
This was truly great.  The trip up and down were narrated and was informative as you took in the views.  I've driven to the top of Mt. Washington before on the Auto Road and I preferred the railway to driving for the simple fact I wasn't so worried for my life the entire time.  If that kind of stuff doesn't bother you, both ways up are good.  Or even better,  hike it!  Anyway you do it, get to the top of Mt. Washington!

Lincoln, NH
The Flume is a natural gorge with a waterfall/river going through.  Plank ways were built so we were able to walk right into the gorge.  It was breathtaking and unexpected.  We ended up walking the full loop hike instead of going back down through the gorge which I wish we would have gone back through just to see it again.

Mt. Loon, Lincoln, NH
This activity wasn't my favorite.  To me it felt like a regular ride up a ski lift and it made me motion sick on the way down.  Although, the view on top was good and there was a neat glacier cave trail.

A 26 mile stretch of highway with amazing views and scenic stops.

North Conway, NH
We caught a sunrise here!  There is a road to the top, which we took, but you can also hike to the top.  The view is perfect for the sunrise.  We brought our hiking stove and made breakfast on top.

and some great restaurants...
North Conway, NH

North Woodstock, NH

That is what we fit into our too short vacation up to New Hampshire.  We also spent time enjoying our cabin and kayaking on the lake.  New Hampshire has "Brake for Moose" signs everywhere and did I see one moose?.... no.  Anyway have any of you been to New Hampshire?  What did you do while you were there? I'd love to hear.



DIY Gourd Wreath

I love decorating this time of year, especially with all the gourds and mini pumpkins you can get from an orchard.  I usually get the gourds and set them on the deck railings or up the stairs but this year I wanted to try something a little different and make a wreath.
I don't love buying materials for DIY projects and tend to make due with what I have on hand, so instead of buying a wreath base I made it all from ivy in the yard.

Items You Need:
 (Giant Dog Not Needed)

Ivy - I used some that was growing up trees in my front yard, I know one kind was English Ivy but I'm not sure what the other type of ivy I grabbed was.  Although, I know it wasn't poisonous, so don't be grabbing any poison oak.  Any branch or ivy (non-poisonous) that is bending will probably work for this.

Wire - I used some floral wire I had on hand. Most any wire will do.

Scissors - or wire cutter

Gourds and/or Mini Pumpkins
Start by making one of the ivy branches into a circle and then secure and then continue to add ivy branches until it looks like a full wreath.  Secure each main branch as you go and I tucked the off shooting branches in where they fit so they didn't stick out everywhere.
Then lay out where you want your gourds and/or mini pumpkins before you start securing so you get the look you want.
Now start securing the gourds and pumpkins to the wreath with your wire.  This is the hardest part.  I have no great way to do this.  A little tip though is to know which way is up when you will be hanging your wreath and wire according to which way gravity will be pulling.

And viola, hang your gourd wreath!

I love how it looks and adds more interest then just setting some gourds on my deck railings.

UPDATE:  We made this wreath our centerpiece at an Autumn dinner party here!


Camping at Pachaug State Forest

Back in June we went camping at the Pachaug State Forest (I've been a bit busy in the meantime having a baby and all so I'm just posting it now). It was a campsite where you parked and had to hike into so you only brought what you could fit on your back.  Carrying everything in isn't as easy as it may sound; it's the camp fire wood and water that really make things heavy, but on the way out it's a lot lighter!
The campsite was free, we just had to register online so we knew it wasn't taken. 
I think it is no dogs allowed though.... (shhh don't tell).
The hike in was only about a mile or so and had a shelter to prop your tent up in.  We brought books and some good food to cook over the fire.  It was probably one of the most relaxing camping trips we've had together.  The state forest also has another free shelter to hike into that we would like to try out sometime.

Are any of you going camping this Fall?  I might be too soft to handle the cold.



How CSA Helps Me Eat Allergy Free

We were new to the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) concept this year.  We heard about a local CSA early last spring from a co-worker and decided to check it out for a few reasons:

1) We wanted to spend less on healthy food. (Eating allergy free/organic can be expensive!)
2) We are bad about actually going to grocery store to get food therefore eating out a lot.
3) We love fresh local food but don't have a place to grow it ourselves.

So we went to check out the farm.  This particular farm had meat as an option for the CSA (I guess most only do vegetables).  They raise chickens (for meat and eggs) and pigs.  So basically one goes weekly to pick up their 'share' as they call it and you get about $20 - $30 worth of local, seasonal food.  The share we choose we got contained vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs, and meat (chicken and pork alternating each week).

What I thought of it: 

 Overall, I liked the experience so much I also signed us up for the Autumn share without the eggs though.  I'm allergic to eggs so Ryan was on his own and just didn't eat enough of them so many were wasted.  In the future we will just buy a dozen eggs from them here and there when Ryan wants them.

I was concerned at first about the meat because they supplemented their chickens with soy and was hoping I wouldn't have a reaction being I'm allergic to soy and all.  Thankfully I didn't have a reaction to any of the meat!

Every other week we got a whole chicken which is a bit daunting to cut and cook.  I'm still working on this, and still maybe a little scared (I have seven whole chickens in freezer right now).  I'm looking for easy ways to cook this whole bird if you have any suggestions.  I will be trying it in the crock pot this week.

We always ate our pork immediately each week we got it.

As for the vegetables, there were some I didn't care for, or maybe didn't know what to do with such as the turnups but this was rare.  Our farmers often let us choose, for example we could pick up one eggplant OR a couple bell peppers.

I ate more of a variety of vegetables than usual.  I sometimes get in a rut and buy the same familiar things at the grocery store but with the CSA I ate what was in season.  For a while, I had zucchini in my stir fry a few times a week or made a green bean casserole; two vegetables I NEVER would have bought on my own.

If you eat Paleo or eat allergy free you can't go wrong with a CSA like this.  So if  you have any in your area, I encourage you to go check it out and see if it would be a good fit for your lifestyle.