Meal Planning

Trying to eat plant-based, non-processed, real FOOD and being organized pretty much go hand in hand. It’s near impossible to make good food choices without a bit of prep work behind the scenes and some thinking ahead. Beautiful salads don’t magically appear I’m afraid. I sure wish they did. So, with all this in mind, I finally had some spare time today to create a meal plan template that I can use for each week. It’s been a bit of a process….

I went from winging it every week (which means- a higher grocery bill, with more wasted food, and more nights of me wondering, “what should I make for dinner”???), to this:jvKME%ltTby2VbRZQ5dZhgTo this!XVuham2+RwaYFlIhu05JAAIsn’t it pretty?? I’m such a nerd for organization. I’m already seeing ways I need to alter it though. I know I won’t sit down and highlight different colors for each different grocery store every week, so I need to separate the lists out as I write: one list for Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough (If I were rich I would just buy everything there, but for now I just stick to their bulk items and beautiful produce and fish), Trader Joe’s (so far away from my house but you just can’t beat their prices for organic stuff!) and good ole Market Basket (close to home but an utterly depressing shopping experience lol).

I chose to start my week on a Wednesday you may notice, because that is the night I am able to do my grocery shopping. However, this is the tricky part for me since I shop at 3 different places… there’s no way I’ll go to Trader Joes and Natures in the same day. Some weeks I may have to alter the day of the week I start on is all. It will be tough, but I am determined to get into a good food rhythm for healthy (mostly) plant-based meals! Of course, this time of year is also excellent with the garden providing so much for us! The goal is to be totally garden-dependent in the summer for produce (someday!)

Here is a link to a PDF version of the Meal Planner  I made up so you can print it out for yourself as well! I hope it comes in handy. I designed it so it can be folded in half like so:4tBbd0VgQUqiIn%EmqwImQDanBWTERTw+KeytALnA I hope this meal planner is useful for you! Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions or helpful methods: I’m all ears! 🙂

Postcards from England: Sissinghurst

The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows. ~Vita Sackville West

fullsizeoutput_17c4Was there ever a place more magical? A place I felt happier? This place made me giddy with delight and wonder. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by beauty. Situated in County Kent, Sissinghurst Castle garden is the beautiful creation of Vita Sackville West who lived there starting in 1930. For an excellent history and historic photographs of this extraordinary place, see the National Trust’s article here. For now, enjoy the photographs I took while visiting Sissinghurst on 29 April 2017. We hopped off the plane in Gatwick London, met up with dear friends, and sped on down to Sissinghurst where we were immediately immersed in stunning scenery and gorgeous gardens. I felt that no matter what happened on the rest of my trip to England, I would have had a successful trip because the time at Sissinghurst was just beautiful. Enjoy the photos, my friends~fullsizeoutput_19f8fullsizeoutput_17f8fullsizeoutput_17c5

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fullsizeoutput_17c0From the top~

  • Gorgeous flowering quince in front of a cottage
  • The White Garden
  • Tulips in bloom in front of the tower
  • The Purple Garden
  • Collage: Roses at the entryway, trees on the grounds, tulips bordering brick
  • Collage: A fern tunnel with statue at the end, flower pots
  • Blooming boughs in front of a cottage
  • White Narcissus filled field
  • Collage: My friends Sam and Kassie 🙂
  • Collage: Wisteria and roses, hide and seek in the hedges
  • Collage: View of the towers, pink magnolia blooming
  • Collage: the sun peaking out, me in front of the sunset garden’s cottage
  • The Sunset Garden with towers behind
  • The view from the towers
  • An old ivy covered tree on the grounds
  • A view of distant pastures
  • Collage: beautiful white blooms, afternoon cream tea
  • The stunning gardens from above

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before. ~Vita Sackville West

Florence Griswold Museum

There is a little gem of a museum in historic Old Lyme, Connecticut. It’s called the Florence Griswold Museum and it’s home to artwork new and old, gorgeous gardens, and a lovely river view.img_9207

img_9203The Museum centers on the home of Miss Florence Griswold, who opened her big colonial home up as a boarding house to members of the Lyme Art Colony in the early 1900s. As you stroll through the lovely old house there is art work everywhere. Not only traditionally hung paintings, but also fun and unexpected little paintings on the walls and door panels. The artists would have competitions with each other to each paint in a certain style, say impressionism. They would have to paint the same subject on either side of the door panel. The result are whimsical paintings done in a free style on most of the houses’ doors.img_9139img_9149img_9176

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img_9147Across the flower gardens, the more modern Krieble gallery houses newer works of art. The day we went happened to be their Art in Bloom day- that was such an awesome surprise! The flower arrangements to match the works of art were some of the best I’ve seen. They really captured their assigned paintings.img_9121

After being thoroughly inspired from the various art and flora which fills the premises, definitely take a stroll down to the Lieutenant River. They have Adirondack chairs set up just waiting to be sat in.

img_9197img_9195There is also a beautiful little art studio in a cedar shake cottage right by the parking lot. Be sure to poke your head in there.

img_9219I felt thoroughly inspired and refreshed after my visit to the Florence Griswold Museum. How serendipitous to be there for art in bloom as well! You can find the museum off of Highway 95 in Old Lyme Connecticut. Enjoy your visit!

 

 

The Grand Connecticut Adventure Day

We set off for The Grand Connecticut Adventure Day at five in the morning because we live so far from Connecticut. I never mind waking up early for adventure, it’s almost easier, and I’m so excited that I can’t sleep anyways. Connecticut has been in the works for quite some time. I’ve been eyeing up various destinations on my Pinterest board. When a day off from work arose, I mapped out a route which was somewhat coherent. Good thing I have a very game mother-in-law who’s willing to drive three hours there, and then one hour between destinations, and then sit in traffic for five hours on the way home. It was a great day. As usual, I’ll let the photos tell most of the story~

Thanks to good conversation and surprisingly traffic-free highways, the drive down went quickly. We intended to start off at the Florence Griswold Museum, but as we arrived an hour before they opened for the day, we had to kill some time (not difficult when you’re exploring). We asked a local for a recommendation and said to check out the town of Essex- what a great suggestion! Set right on the water, it’s a quaint New England town whose Main Street is lined with old houses and dead ends at the ocean. An hour passed quickly and we made our way back to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. I did a separate post about that lovely place which you can find here.

img_9207img_9149After a good couple hours’ wander around the art museum and grounds, we hit the road again for Terrain, a garden shop extravaganza which was quite the place. I hesitate to rave about it too much, as I felt it was very pricey and also I am not sure of their business ethics (I just haven’t looked into where and how their products are made). Located in Westport, on a busy street of shops and commercial sprawl, it was a surprisingly beautiful and expansive shop.img_9229img_9233

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img_9260After a quick and yummy vegan lunch (and the best iced coffee I’ve ever had- seriously) at Green & Tonic, we headed over to our last stop, just an hour before their closing time of 4 PM, to Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, CT. Operated by the National Parks Service, this gorgeous farm property is the only one of two National Historic Sites dedicated to the arts (the other one being Saint Gauden’s National Historic site in Cornish, New Hampshire). It was free to enter, and you could stroll anywhere on the large property. The old gardens, stone walls, and surrounding woods were so beautiful. We arrived too late to tour the house, but we did get to poke into the two art studios – inspiring!img_9265img_9288img_9277

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img_9303At that point, it was time to head for home. In hindsight, it may have been wise to get dinner in Westport or another nearby town and head for I-84 once most traffic had passed (or maybe make a weekend trip out of it and stay somewhere overnight- there certainly is a lot to do in the area- we just scratched the surface!) Alas, that wasn’t to be, for tiredness took over. So we headed onto I-84 and dealt with the traffic. Good conversation and snacks kept us going, and before we knew it we were home. Another successful adventure day for the books. It truly was a perfect day off- one of those days you just can’t get out of your mind. I keep thinking and thinking about it 🙂 img_9308img_9337

Off Season in Maine

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We took a trip to Maine this past November for our 5 year anniversary. We shared a wonderful cottage on a cove in Phippsburg, Maine with 3 other couples, our dear friends, who also were celebrating their 5th. While November is definitely not thought of as a prime time to visit the craggy seashore of rural Maine, and we had one day that was very cold, and another that was rainy and windy, it still was a beautiful trip.fullsizeoutput_2965

fullsizeoutput_28a5The fun started before we even made it to the cottage. We drove a little north of Phippsburg to Boothbay Harbor, a place I have fond memories of going to as a child. We stopped off for lunch at the Tugboat Inn, which did indeed have a tug boat as part of the restaurant. It was a perfect Maine meal: fresh lobster rolls while looking out over the shining water dotted with pine trees perched atop rocky little islands.

fullsizeoutput_289cfullsizeoutput_2892We made sure to do a bit of antiquing and poked into the shops of Wiscassett, a quaint and historic little Main street community that was a joy to wander around in (even though the wind was whipping and cold!) We’re glad we took the back way down to Phippsburg, because we stumbled upon an old mansion perched on top of a hill. The sun setting behind it made for quite a sight. For those wanting to see it, it’s actually called Castle Tucker, it’s found on Lee Street in Wiscassett, and it is sometimes open for tours.

fullsizeoutput_2898fullsizeoutput_289eA highlight for me was waking up early on both mornings to take solitary walks. It’s always so easy for me to roll over and keep sleeping, but I’ve never regretted taking an early morning walk: it is so centering, calming, and makes the day feel accomplished before it even starts.

 

On Saturday morning I was graced with the sun streaming onto the white curtains, lovely and golden. I slipped outside and took a walk down to the point. The weather was sunny and brisk. Down on the docks there were fishermen getting their boats and lobster traps ready for a day on the water.

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fullsizeoutput_28f3Sunday morning’s weather was opposite: the sun was replaced by heavy rain and winds lashing against the house. All the same, I donned my rain coat and wellies and took my early morning walk. What a joy it was even in that weather! Exhilarating really. The waves were coming in fast and strong, but it was on the warmer side so I wasn’t uncomfortable with my face in the rain-filled wind. I stumbled upon some deer tracks, very fresh, leading right down to the water’s edge in the cove. I looked all around for the deer but must have just missed it.

 

fullsizeoutput_296bAfter the walks, I settled in to the cozy cottage and waited for my friends still sleeping peacefully to wake, one by one. A little trick that made the morning extra easy and enjoyable was pre-cooking oatcakes at home the day before we left for the trip.  That way, when I got back from walking, I could just heat up the oatcake on the skillet really quickly, top it off with berries and fresh maple syrup, and call it done! I will definitely do that again when taking a weekend trip. It’s so much easier cooking in your own kitchen at home and not having to deal with making batter and a mess was awesome. And people could heat up their own pancakes as they woke up. Just a little tip 🙂fullsizeoutput_28f5fullsizeoutput_28fffullsizeoutput_28fdThere are many activities to enjoy around the Phippsburg area. One that my husband remembered fondly from childhood was Popham beach and the fort at one end of it.  I loved beach combing there, I found little driftwood nuggets as we took to calling them. I took a few pocketfuls back home.fullsizeoutput_2902fullsizeoutput_28f2fullsizeoutput_2913We also took a little hike in the woods to an overlook and drove down a side road to discover little coves tucked away. Both of these were off of West Point Road in Phippsburg. There was a sign marking it with a parking area, but it’s best to drive all the way down because there is another parking area right by the cove. Unless you want to take a stroll of course. I’m sorry I forget what the cove was called, but it is on West Point in Phippsburg.fullsizeoutput_2912IMG_2893We made a couple of stops on the journey home. Freeport Maine is home to the L.L. Bean Factory store, which is really like a sprawling campus of stores and lucky for us they had reindeers in the outside barn area. Real reindeers! That was neat, and very unexpected. Our last stop was the Portsmouth Brewery, always a classic place to eat in that quaint Port town.fullsizeoutput_296dfullsizeoutput_2916So, in other words, a nice trip to Maine doesn’t need to be taken during peak season and you don’t have to pay a premium. If you split the cost of a rental with friends, bring food from home, and entertain yourself with free of charge hikes and beach walks, it really is a quite reasonable excursion. And there is little else more inspiring and beautiful than the craggy shore of Maine.fullsizeoutput_2944

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A Quiet Winter

Ah winter. Quiet, rest, hibernation. Those “activities” are generally my over-arching winter goals. Yes, I miss outdoors time and flowers and long hours of light and warm air. But the calming nature of winter, the spare beauty, and the indoor coziness just about make up for it. This particular winter was quite restful for me, as I had to have surgery at the end of January. So I was able to rest and rejuvenate more than usual. I did manage to get out and about a little bit. Here are my favorite shots from this winter.fullsizeoutput_28f1


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Tuesday’s Inspiration: Dulac

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Edmund Dulac, Illustrator  

The Snow Queen and Other Stories from Hans Christian Andersen.

London: Hodder & Stoughton 1911.

Isn’t this illustration just marvelous! I’m so happy I saw it on This Ivy House this snowy and icy morning. It’s been a rough weekend and I haven’t felt well, but it’s amazing what a bit of inspiring art can do to lift the spirits. Edmund Dulac was a French born illustrator who, after giving up law school, lived and studied art in England for most of his life. His modern art nouveau illustrations beautifully bring to life various fairy tales and myths. Through the course of his career, Dulac also worked for magazines and newspapers, designed stamps, and even designed chocolate boxes. Here’s a compilation of his wonderful artwork on WikiArt. Scrolling through I am struck by the color palette he used, his strong attention to detail, and the whimsicality of his work. Looking through these images and learning about this talented artist was the perfect thing for this icy morning.

Tuesday’s Inspiration: Marc

Franz Marc
The Tower of Blue Horses
1913

Long admired by myself, this painting is by one of my favorite artists, Franz Marc. I’ve always loved the sweeping movement in his paintings, the curves in the horses necks, and the geometry he used to render organic figures. Though this is not the actual painting, I like the muted version of The Tower of Blue Horses shown above. A more true to life version can be viewed here.  Another rendering can be viewed here. I didn’t realize this, but in my research on this post I discovered that this painting has actually been missing since the end of World War II. Sadly, it fell victim to Nazi opinions on modern art and was removed from  the National Gallery in Berlin in 1937. Later, Hitler personally ordered the painting be removed from a second art exhibit because he declared it to be “degenerate”.  Subsequently, the painting was lost. I wonder if it is still out in the world somewhere? I do hope it was not destroyed completely.

Marc himself also fell victim to war. At age 36, he was killed in the Battle of Verdun in 1916.

What ravages war has brought.