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Hi friday!

November 4, 2011

Was someone around here afflicted with not-enough-apples-syndrome? Well. I feel so much better now. We had a last minute picktravaganza at a neighbor’s tree. I dragged a ladder around under the canopy of a gorgeous old golden delicious tree while the kids did some high-level Halloween candy trading: 1/2 of a gummy bear for 1/4 bite of an m’n’m. (I think homeschooling families chalk this up to learning math fractions).

Oh, and you were wondering about the fermented apple chutney? (it’s done) How it turned out? (amazing) If Rose ever got over her disgust at having a huge bubbling gallon jar of fizzy weirdness parked in front of her seat at the table? (no).

~apple chutney: lower right quadrant. Strange mustard greens in upper right quadrant. Also, I am the kind of eater who likes to mix and match and blend tastes. Sometimes I skip salad dressing because the rest of the dinner becomes the salad dressing~

Also, remember the experimental, hair-on deerhide Dan was tanning? It’s done and it’s really soft and and cozy. I am enjoying it tonight before the kids wake up tomorrow and it becomes really sticky and cozy.

Also, a few internet gems this week:

A recipe for chile-lime squash fries which is perfect, because I love winter squash and I love Catherine Newman.

I loved this take on gratitude and turning 40.

And an announcement for an upcoming free class at Durango Natural Foods:

Using Food as Medicine for Healthy Children, November 8th from 6pm-8pm
Taught by Julia Fisher LAc, Dipl OM of Namaste Health Center

In Chinese Medicine, the child is not viewed as simply an immature adult. Children have unique physiology and energetics and therefor deal with unique health challenges. In this class we will focus on delicious and healthy foods that can be a parent’s first defense against his child’s illness. There will be samples and recipes, so come armed with spoon, bowl and questions!

*** ** *** ** *** ** ***

The kids and I are reading Charlotte’s Web, which is turning out to be one of the most beautiful children’s books ever. So gentle and magical and clever. E.B. White, who moved from NYC to a farm in Maine (and wrote about it in his book “One Man’s Meat,” which I will return to you Molly W.) is a gorgeous writer and it’s a pleasure to read a book that all 3 of us love (even if the oldest of us is all choked up over the life cycle of a spider).

Also, in the grown-up reading department I am thrilled about the 3 books that just came in for me at the library: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, and Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Yippee! I feel like 3 good friends just came to visit.

What are you all reading?

What chapter books are your kids enjoying?

And, finally:

The winner of The Dirty Life is: Melissa h, who wrote:

“Gosh. Long term I want to move out of the Los Angeles area and find a town like your Durango. Short term, my dream is to turn my 400 sq feet back yard lawn into garden and not have to ever buy produce or canned goods again. Right now, about 25 sq feet is garden. I’m on my way!!!”

Melissa, send your address to sanjuandrive(at)frontier(dot)net and I’ll send out the book.

Have a fantastic weekend, and really, do tell, what are you reading these days?

46 Comments leave one →
  1. Nana Judy permalink
    November 4, 2011 7:45 am

    Speaker at Montclair (NJ) Art Museum last night was Claudia E. Cornett – tireless advocate for infusing the ARTS into every aspect of life and learning. Gotta check out her books: Creating Meaning through Liberature and the Arts, and Comprehensension First: Inquiry into Big Ideas using Important Questions. She stresses the importance of encouraging kids to make pictures INSIDE themselves – the mental images that drive meaning. Great resource for home schooling.

  2. November 4, 2011 7:55 am

    For my book club, I’m re-reading Isabel Allende’s My Invented Country. I’ve read it before, but I became an ex-pat since the first time I read it, so I understand much more now the experience of living in a foreign land. And because I can never read only one book at once, no matter how I try to force myself, I’m also reading a digital photography book and Your Three Year Old. There’s always a parenting book in the mix, it seems.

    We have Charlotte’s Web sitting on the shelf and I’ve put it off because I’m not sure I’m ready for the sadness! We’re about to finish Winnie the Pooh, and I think next we’ll move on to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Some friends are reading it too, and I thought it would be nice for my older daughter to be able to chat about it with her friend since my kids are the freaks who can’t chat about the current TV shows.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 4, 2011 8:50 am

      Oh, Charlotte’s Web is sad. I think it’s affecting me more than the kids. And I know what you mean, I always seem to have a parenting book in the mix, too…and several books going at once, and The New Yorker and maybe a few other magazines.

  3. Kathy permalink
    November 4, 2011 8:58 am

    Rereading Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds Feet on High Places, an allegory of a journey through the valley to the higher places, inspired by Hab. 3:19, reading for my character Pearl in my book;
    Lord John and the Private Matter, by Diana Gabaldon, my favorite fiction/fantasy/time travel/romance author, an off to the side story about a character from her Outlander Series;
    and a newly published book by Kim Edwards, The Lake of Dreams, one I picked up from the library, not sure where this is going except the character is going home. I try to read newer books to see how they are written and why they are popular.
    The fourth is a book about the Durango & silverton Narrow Guage Railroad, just to be reminded of the history in which my book is set.
    Am I getting much writing done? No… :) The one before that was about four young women who hitch-hiked to Mesa Verde from Gunnison in 1922!
    Many years ago (23?) we saw Charlotte’s Web at the Globe Theater in Odessa, TX. It was the first time for me and my then 9 and 4 year olds. We haven’t read it since. That does not imply it was not good; we just moved on to other plays and books, some Shakespeare, Dumas, and Rogers & Hammerstein plays.

  4. November 4, 2011 9:15 am

    What is the first best kids book?? I’m reading the Harry Potter books to the kids. We’re almost done w/ #4 and they’re showing no signs of flagging enthusiasm (I was hoping they would learn to read themselves before we got too far along, but since they’re at the very bottom of their first grade class in reading level, I don’t think that will happen. The nice thing is that M will come and join us to listen, which hasn’t happened in years). I just got Joyce Carol Oates (Woman) Writer from the library, but I don’t think I’m going to like it much. I just finished Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction, finally after many years of it sitting on my shelf. I think I need some inspiring new reads. This month’s Sun magazine is very good (Do you like Laura Pritchett–she’s right up your alley, literally and figuratively).

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 4, 2011 2:49 pm

      Andrea, I just gave my latest copy of The Sun to one of my writing students. Did one of Laura Pritchett’s essays appear in there?

  5. November 4, 2011 9:22 am

    i just finished lynda hopkins’ “the wisdom of the radish” which a friend loaned me after i read the dirty life. it wasn’t quite as good, but i do love living vicariously through startup farmers these days. i also just finished chop wood, carry water, been meaning to read that for years. quinn and i read the hobbit this past month, and we are in the market for some more chapter books as well. we’ve been pulling out older favorites like mrs frisby and the rats of nimh (lots of subtle stuff in that one for adults but great kid story) and all the books we have by wendy orr (mokie and bik, nim’s island- she is insanely good kid writer, and the kids in her books are pleasingly unschoolish). i’m sort of between books right now myself, so i keep poking away at a stack of national geographics a friend passed on, and thumbing through carla emery’s encyclopedia of country living. looking forward to all the great ideas here… oh, and we do love charlotte’s web. what a great book.

  6. Ania permalink
    November 4, 2011 9:40 am

    my son enjoys Frog and Toad (short, witty stories).
    I was reminiscing on my childhood Indian fascination reading Farley Mowat’s Two Against The North (but my favorite book of his is Never Cry Wolf).

    Thank you for sharing your reads. Charlotte’s Web is a great book!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 4, 2011 9:34 pm

      Is Two Against the North a children’s book? I certainly have a child who is fascinated by Indian stories here.

  7. kelsey permalink
    November 4, 2011 9:54 am

    Simplicity Parenting is one of my favorites! Right now I am reading State of Wonder and a slightly trashy Jen Lancaster book for a book club. Happy Friday!

  8. ike permalink
    November 4, 2011 10:47 am

    Loved Cutting for Stone and now enjoying ” The lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver. Aside from good writing, you learn some Mexican history and culture and American history of the 1930s (e.g., Bonus Army encampment in DC).
    Yup, charlotte’s web is a tear jerker..

    • November 4, 2011 12:25 pm

      Loved both of these books (and, yes, cried my way through Charlotte’s Web as a kid). On the waiting list at my library for State of Wonder. Right now I’m reading Katrina Kenison’s The Gift of an Ordinary Day, a mother’s memoir, really lovely.

      Right now, my 4yo is reading The Hobbit with his dad. Not sure how much he is getting, but it seems to be increasing the cast of characters in his make believe play. (Don’t tell anyone, but a dragon named Smog took up residence in our backyard last night. Shhh…)

      • 6512 and growing permalink*
        November 4, 2011 2:59 pm

        Loved, “Gift of an Ordinary Day.”

        I’m pretty sure there’s some dragons living under our shed with the skunks. Maybe Smog rakes up leaves?

  9. November 4, 2011 11:25 am

    howzabout the recipe for that chutney?

    aw, my heart got really warm reading about your experience with “charlotte’s web.”. you probably already know it’s one of my favorites, given the name of my daughter. :) …i love it for the same reasons you mentioned…the simplicity, the sweet slowness, the magic in the mundane, and how one little girl following her heart changed the world around her.

    how is simplicity parenting? it’s on my list. i am alternating between “radical ecopsychology” and “the herbal medicine maker’s handbook”. fern’s “chapter” books have been “little bear” and “frog and toad”.

    have a good weekend rachel, and enjoy those apples!

    • November 4, 2011 1:07 pm

      mary! i never got the connection with fern’s name- that’s so awesome!!!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 4, 2011 3:17 pm

      Love that you named Fern after Fern.

      Apple Chutney Recipe: 3 cups apples 1/2 cup water grated rind of two lemons 1/8 cup honey 2 tsp sea salt 1/4 cup whey 1/2 cup pecans 1/2 cup raisins 1 tbsp cinnamon. Mix everything together (except water and whey). Place in a glass jar (we multiplied the recipe by 4 and it made enough for a gallon jar). Add water and whey. Add enough extra water to submerge the chutney, and/or place a weight on the chutney (clean rock) to keep the fermentation submerged and anaerobic. Leave out of the fridge for 3-5 days, checking daily for bubbling and taste.

  10. November 4, 2011 11:49 am

    What a fine meal from your own hand…I’m a food mixure too but not nearly as much as my wife.:)

    Charlotte’s Web, one of my favorites as a young child…that and Tom Sawyer or anything by Jim Kjelgaard. Right now I am reading Organic Gardening & Farming by Joseph A. Cocannouer…wonderful book about weeds, soil, and the health thereof.

    Oh, and I just stumbled across another blog you might find interesting about foraging for wild edibles in Colorado –

    Congrats to Dan on such a nice hide. Loved those apple pictures too…boys and ladders.:)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 4, 2011 2:56 pm

      Ooh, Tom Sawyer…can’t wait to read that to the kids. Thanks for the reminder, and the blog recommendation.

  11. Anonymous permalink
    November 4, 2011 1:10 pm

    I just finished Island Beneath the Sea, Isabel Allende. Keenan is loving The Magic School Bus Series. He also loves Frog and Toad, Boxcar Children (one of my faves), My Side of the Mountain, and Redwall, and Avatar, the Last Airbender. I want to get Bunnicula, as I’ve heard it is funny and I think Keenan will love it.

    I’d like the chutney recipe, too. Looks great, and I have a cooler full of apples (my freezer is already full…time to start canning).

  12. November 4, 2011 1:52 pm

    Love your deer-hair couch cover. Perfect for Fall and warming up. We are picking apples and dehydrating like there’s no tomorrow. Except that’s just it, tomorrow might mean no-more-apples so we’re scurrying. We’re reading a giant anthology of Pooh, which is so lovely – words on the page sometimes like e.e. cummings. I love it, in part to how much my mom adored reading it with me as a little lady. Good stuff. Does Rose want to change her name to Fern yet?

  13. November 4, 2011 3:08 pm

    La Lacuna is *awesome*. I’m starting The Plague of Doves by my fav Louise Erdritch.

    For the kids we LOVED the Poppy series about a brave female deermouse, by Avi. And Matilda by Roald Dahl and we’re re-reading The BFG right now because it is so funny and exciting. We loved the audio version of Charlotte’s Web because EB himself reads it. Next I think we will go for Swiss Family Robinson, I hear it’s wonderful.

  14. Melissa H permalink
    November 4, 2011 3:28 pm

    Yay!!! I’m so excited about the book! I just sent you an email!

    Thank you!!!!

  15. November 4, 2011 4:47 pm

    i agree 10,000% about the lacuna… it’s fabulous. but you’ve probably already read that, rachel.

  16. November 4, 2011 7:13 pm

    Right now I’m loving The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. I guess its been made into a movie.

  17. November 4, 2011 8:03 pm

    I love your apple hoarding…we picked 80 pounds this year ( because that’s necessary!). We are just getting into fermentation … will have to try your recipe. We are listening to Charlotte’s Web in the car (read by E.B. White) and with his sweet Maine accent…it couldn’t get much better! Happy reading! xoxo, pennie

  18. Jaim permalink
    November 4, 2011 10:45 pm

    I love book sharing! I have Cutting for Stone in my line up but I have just started The Book Thief. I would also recommend People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund.

    My girls (5 and 3) and I started with Charlotte’s Web and struggled through tears. The girls also love the Henry Huggins and Ribsy series and we spend a lot of time in the car due to our location so my kids really like to listen to the Jeff Corwin series My Backyard is Wild. Sorry, clearly a book weirdo.

    That apple chutney sounds lovely.

  19. Jan permalink
    November 5, 2011 1:24 pm

    I’d like to recommend MEMOIR FROM ANTPROOF CASE by Mark Helprin. I have to say that it’s one of my favorite books ever, and I read lots!


  20. chris permalink
    November 5, 2011 9:47 pm

    Our youngest is Fern because we were reading Charlotte’s Web to our oldest when I was pregnant. She was determined that the baby was a girl, and her name was Fern. And so she was. Funny to hear of another young Fern in your comments–there aren’t many, and most of those are 80+!

    Is the hide shedding at all? I thought that was the issue with leaving the hair on deer hides.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 7, 2011 12:01 pm

      Chris, yes, the deer hide is shedding…but so is our cat and my own head, and at least the shedding is confined mostly to just below the couch, and the amount of hair that needs to be swept up is nothing compared to what needs to be swept up under our kitchen table, daily. xo

  21. Ania permalink
    November 5, 2011 10:12 pm

    Two Against the North is right there with My Side of the Mountain. I read both books not long ago myself, although they are aimed towards young teens. But you could certainly read them to Col. I think I wouldn’t be able to put them down as a kid ,and I was only imagining the country, the challenges and the life, while your family is actually living (parts of it) out.

    I’m crazy about fermented anything – half sour pickles, fermented beets and soup made of fermented rye/wheat flour being my absolute favorites – but I’ve never had apple chutney. Got to try it out.

  22. Twinsanity permalink
    November 6, 2011 9:43 am

    I’m currently reading The Rhythm of Family by the Soules and The Locavore Way by Amy Cotler to myself and The Boxcar Children series to my nine year old twins. I never dreamed that this series would be as big a hit as it has been with my boys, the whole family is really enjoying these stories. Drew and Ian are also liking the Michigan Chillers and American Chillers series by Johnathan Rand. I was hoping you could recommend a book (or books) for me. I would like to try making salves, so I’m looking for a good DIY book. Specifically, for Rosacea. I was recently diagnosed and the prescription the dr wants me to use not only will cost me nearly $400 but is also petroleum based. Double Yuck. I was feeling very overwhelmed by all the conflicting information I’ve been finding on the internet, but then I remembered your giveaway post back in March and anyway, if you can find the time, any pointing in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

  23. Christy permalink
    November 7, 2011 8:06 am

    I am between books after a recent reading binge. I thinks I am going to start Water for Elephants tonight. I loved the Little House on the Prairie books as girl. I so wanted to be a pioneer.

  24. Emily P. permalink
    November 7, 2011 10:01 am

    whoops, I missed book suggestions! How can I pass up a chance to suggest kids books? Moomintroll books are awesome, start with Finn Family or Comet in Moominland (no really these are the best books ever). The Animal Family is excellent (quick, sweet, and features a hunter and a mermaid, so really how could it be bad?).

    When my kids were Col and Rose’s ages (and into all things related to living in the wild) we did My Side of the Mountain, Swiss Family Robinson (which I found horribly repetitive by chapter 30), Treasure Island (not abridged, and they very quickly adapted to the antiquated language), The Hobbit. My Father’s Dragon (and the next two in the series). Swallows and Amazons is waiting in the wings right now, and looks to be good after a quick pre-read.

    I must admit to being a bit obsessed with children’s lit, even since my epiphany that if I didn’t research good books I would be doomed to death by the bland, predictability of Magic Treehouse and Animal Ark. I went searching for children’s lit blogs, book lists and websites. I now have a never ending post-it note of books to combat drivel and saccharine in my home. It’s like a root cellar and plot of land for the mind.

    • November 8, 2011 2:31 pm

      ha! i came back to this post to add to my own never ending post it note, which i am motivated to do expressly to dilute the number of times i may have to read more magic treehouse books……

  25. November 7, 2011 12:45 pm

    Your talk about Chinese medicine and using food as prevention gave me chills. That’s how I was raised and I still prescribe to some of the methods. I think it’s mostly because it reminds me of my beloved (Chinese) aunt who was a staunch believer of food’s healing properties.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 7, 2011 12:49 pm

      Write a post about it! Pleeeeease!

  26. November 7, 2011 1:43 pm

    For slightly older kids – Bridge to Terabithia is one I cannot wait to read with the kids, Even though it is wonderfully terribly sad.
    Has anyone mentioned Little House on the Prairie?? Ahem.
    For adults – just read the latest David Mitchell, and Lullabies for Little Criminals, and then The Cat’s Table (Michael Ondaatje). That last one is top-notch.
    I can’t be witty today, or I would burn the chili and triple the baking soda in the cornbread (again). Some things are mutually ecxlusive. Funny people can’t cook (at least not while they’re being funny).

  27. Molly permalink
    November 7, 2011 5:19 pm

    I’m going to scam off your commenters’ book suggestions at the library this afternoon. Don’t worry. I’ll just get one – it’s all I can handle. I recently finished Breakfast with the Buddha, which was a light read about transcendence. It reframed overeating for me as something that could interfere with my stuff, just as can overdrinking etc. I was so smug about not being an alcoholic, and now I don’t look at Cheetos the same way, or even TOO MUCH of local organic anything. This effect will probably last another week. No rush on the book, Rachel. I’m just glad it’s still available in the world.

  28. November 7, 2011 5:50 pm

    That class sounds great; wish I could join you! We’ve loved some colorful “Choose Your Own Adventure” books for younger readers this week (scored a bunch at our local library) and brought back some favorite Jan Brett books for the beautiful pictures. Family favorite of all time is “The Quiltmaker’s Gift” (a children’s book). A lovely story with pictures that are just as wonderful…

  29. November 7, 2011 8:12 pm

    Wanted to share another good one: I am reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books myself (planning to read them at bedtime but couldn’t resist starting). Little House in the Big Woods and the Long Winter so far. Neat tales of simpler times and a good life (even though a harder one). Love hearing about making preserves and carving beautiful gifts! :). Sounds familiar… ;)

  30. Ania permalink
    November 8, 2011 9:36 am

    how could I forget The Neverending Story? I loved the movie as a child and the book is sooo much better. Somebody mentioned Moomins, and I’ve only seen the original TV series, which was amazing. I’m setting on a search for books now.

    • January 5, 2015 2:27 am

      Okay I’m convdncei. Let’s put it to action.

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