Category Archives: Inspiration

Lesson 1568 – The view from Salem, Mass

A few weeks ago I spent some time in Salem, Mass (yes, *that* Salem) to gather some information for articles. If you’ve never been to Salem, you might be a bit overwhelmed by all the “witch” goings on there. Salem sure does like its witch heritage.

They have witch and haunted tours, graveyard tours, and if you’ve even wanted to buy the ingredients for a spell, this is definitely the place to go.

On a more serious note, next to the town cemetery is a stone bench memorial for all of the women and men who were hanged or pressed to death for being witches. I have yet to go and not see token on each of the benches left by relatives or simply those who want to say they are sorry.

But Salem is so much more than witches. It has an incredible maritime history. Here is the Custom House where all goods coming in from ships were weighed and recorded. Nathaniel Hawthorne worked here and inside you can see his desk and the pen that he used when he recorded shipments.

Speaking of Nathaniel Hawthorne, in Salem you can also visit the House of the Seven Gables which inspired the book of the same name. (For the record, The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne remains one of my most favorite stories – it was my first introduction to a strong, kick-butt woman.)

Just down the street from the House of the Seven Gables is Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie – America’s oldest candy company where they make fudge and old fashioned treats.

While there, I stayed at an AirBnB run by a friend of mine, Hope. She calls her home Rose Garden because of the rose bush with a trunk “as thick as a tree” in her front yard. It’s an older, completely charming house that reeks of history. If you want the whole Salem experience consider staying in an AirBnB like this one.

Hope loves to pamper her guests and she provides the most incredible breakfasts when you stay with her. This is a breakfast tart made from cherry tomatoes freshly picked from her garden that morning. On top of this, the other guests and I had a sweet bread, eggs, potatoes, bacon, and cup after cup of deep, rich coffee. It’s pretty hard not to be happy when you start the day like this.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1567 – The New Christmas Tree

 

It’s a tradition in our house to put our Christmas tree up during Thanksgiving weekend. We typically take it down *after* the first week in January – my birthday is January 8th and so we (I) try to have it up until at least then. Of course, there was that one year that Griffin’s special birthday wish was to have the tree up for *his* birthday (March 24th.) We did it, but for the most part the tree is gone by early January.

For obvious reasons we need to use an artificial tree.  When Marc and I moved into our house 25 years ago, we bought a large, beautiful artificial tree. At the time, we were impressed with how it looked. It was taller than me, had large bottle brush needles and each branch had to be manually inserted into the tree base dependent on a color code. It was quite state-of-the-art for a tree.

Over the years, the tree has gotten musty and dusty – putting up the tree now required a good pre-dose of Claritin and a post-dose of Benadryl to calm the welts from needles scratching our skin.

But we persevered and continued using the same tree, because like a dog who pees on the floor, it’s still ours.

And we love it.

Until this year.

With the kids getting older, no one wants to help put the tree up anymore.

Our large tree became a sneezy chore that put a damper on the holidays.

So I made the executive decision to get a *new* smaller artificial tree. A fir tree with life-like needles.

The tree arrived last Friday and I had the kids set it up to see how it would look. It comes in three sections and when you insert each section into the base, the branches all fall down, like an upside down umbrella.

One, two, three – the tree was set up.

Of course we still need to fluff the branches, but it’s a lot less work than our old one. And take a look at these needles!

We didn’t get a pre-lit tree because everyone said that after a few years, you have to string lights anyway because the lights stop working. I’m okay with untangling and adding our lights each year, because, I mean some traditions must remain, right?

I love our new Christmas tree.

What does one do with an older (now vintage) musty, dusty tree?  Griffin has laid claim to his “birthday tree” and he plans on taking it with him when he leaves the house.

Sure thing. It’s all packed up and ready to go… along with the Claritin and Benadryl. Many future happy Christmases sweetheart.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1566 – Damn Peckers

We are under attack at our house. It seems that for the first time in 25 years, woodpeckers are drilling holes with abandon in our home.

We have a very old cedar-shingled house and I know the wood is probably soft but geesh – one day I came home to this:

 

And a few days later, we had this. Continue reading

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Lesson 1565 – A Mother’s Prayer

 

A Mother’s Prayer

Wendy E. N. Thomas 

It is time.

Anxious to join the world, the little chick unfolds her wings

Uncoils her body

Stretches her legs

“Take care, take care,” cautions mama bird

 

Feathers not yet fully matured  holding only future promises

The chick steps on the edge of the nest and looks at the precariousness before her

You’ve got this.

A deep breath

A leap of absolute faith

Exploding from the nest flying, falling, tumbling to the ground

Momentarily discouraged by the inability to fly like the others

A bruised feather

“Take care, take care,” encourages mama

 

She quickly flies to the chick’s side

Teaches her to hide from the hawks

How to find shelter

This is what you eat

 

The chick regains balance

She begins to feel solid

Worthy

Confident

Awkwardly, she hop-flies to the nearest tree branch.

And looks out upon the world that is now hers

She’s got this.

 

“Take care, take care,” prays the mama

 

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1564 – New Challenge (clap your hands)

Okay, so I really didn’t think that going through Charlotte’s Web chapter by chapter would take so freakin’ long. But now that I’m on the other side of it, I can say that even though it took a fair amount of work, I enjoyed the exercise  and I can tell you that I have a new understanding that I hadn’t had when I read it as a child.

So what’s next?

Well I still have to tell you about Barcelona. (I’ve made the potato dish learned in a cooking class many times since coming back.)

And I haven’t written about this year’s border to border walk.

I’ll get to those pieces, but I also wanted a new family challenge. Like I did when we weighed all of the good food that was wasted in one month (over 20 pounds) or when I de-cluttered the house and managed to move out thousands of pounds of clutter (yes I weighed it) or when I tried to hold a birthday party for under $10, kept the Christmas tree up until March 24th, or yes, even when we got our very first incubator chicks.

I was recently at Barnes and Noble and noticed a premier issue of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street – The New Home Cooking magazine. The red banner across the top of the cover reads “56 Recipes for Bold, Easy Weekday Meals.” I bought the magazine and when I got home, settled down to read it.

Milk Street (called that because of their address in Boston) holds cooking classes, tapes their PBS show at their offices , and now they publish a cooking magazine designed to teach a different approach called “the New Home Cooking.” Their purpose is to teach people how make good food quickly that goes beyond the ordinary. Milk Street wants us to up our dinner game.

Milk Street is a quality magazine with heavy pages and has gorgeous photos of each dish. Each recipe is actually a short article giving a little history or memory associated with the food. The type of food is varied with recipes from all over the world. Each write-up also suggests ways you can modify the dish and things to avoid.

Interestingly, each recipe includes how much time it takes to make it from start to finish.

It’s a stunning and impressive magazine, but photos and writing aside, what if the recipes aren’t really as easy as they say they are? What if it says it takes 15 minutes to make a dish, but I find out that unless you ‘re an automatron, there’s no way you’re getting this to the table in under 45 minutes?

So I plan to make every single one of the 56 recipes in the Milk Street premiere issue (i have no timetable other than at least one a week.) I’ll be making the dishes on a weeknight (Monday through Thursday) and I’ll let you know if the recipes are 1. Easy, 2. Quick, and 3. Tasty.  I’ll also report on how long it takes to make each dish.

The magazine is at stores and book shops now – go get an issue if you’d like to play along at home.

 

Note: I have absolutely no affiliation with Milk Street. My posts will reflect a true and honest account of my experiences making these recipes.

 

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

Leave a comment

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Lesson 1563 – Lessons Learned from Charlotte’s Web – Chapter 22

Charlotte’s Web Chapter 22 A Warm Wind

Wilbur returns to the Zuckerman’s barn. In the days that followed, he was very happy and grew to a great size. His medal is hung on the side of his pen for all to see.

Winter comes to the barn. Wilbur plays in the snow and breathes on Charlotte’s egg sac in order to keep it warm.

True to his word, Templeton gets to eat from Wilbur’s feed trough first. He also grows to a great size. “You would live longer,” said the old sheep, “if you ate less.” Continue reading

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Lesson 1562 – Lessons Learned from Charlotte’s Web – Chapter 21

Charlotte’s Web Chapter 21 Last Day

Charlotte and Wilbur are alone in the fair stall. Charlotte is getting weaker and weaker. She explains to Wilbur that he will live to see the different seasons. He won’t be killed. He’ll be okay.

But she won’t.

Wilbur wonders why Charlotte did all of this effort for him when he hadn’t done anything for her.

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte.

Wilbur tells Charlotte that life will be wonderful when they all get back to the farm. That’s when Charlotte tells him that she won’t be returning. Continue reading

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