Category Archives: Life in the Big Woods

Rockywold-Deephaven contest: Please vote for me!

Squam Lake in NH is perhaps my favorite place in the world, and there is a very amazing and wonderful camp there, Rockywold-Deephaven, that we fell in love with last summer. It’s an old school (founded in 1897), rustic place, and I just love it. They are having an Earth Day essay contest to win a stay there this summer, and I’m one of the five finalists!

To win I need to get the most votes between noon on April 28 and noon on May 4. And I need your help, big time: I’m going to be out of the country for more than half of the voting, so it will be harder for me to spread the word towards the end.

Here’s my essay, which had to be fewer than 140 words and answer the the question, “What is one of your best moments or memories in nature?”:

I grew up in Oregon during the bitter battle to save the spotted owls from logging, and when I was 10 I was lucky enough to see the owls in the wild. We hiked deep into the forest, an emerald-green cathedral with a carpet of moss and ferns. When we stopped, the leader handed me a live mouse and I clambered to the end of an enormous fallen tree. I stood, holding the mouse out by its tail, and the owl swooped out of nowhere, so silent I barely registered it until the mouse had vanished. I never forgot that golden-green moment, the speckled owl whooshing past, the trees looming up overhead. I’m grateful that the logging trucks of my childhood–each holding one huge tree–have vanished, but that forest and those owls have held on.

Voting is now!! Please share with as many people as you can. Email it around! I am not ashamed to ask for help, here!

Vote here:

PLEASE vote for me, and please ask your friends to vote? We didn’t think we’d make it to the lake this summer because of preparations for the baby, and it would mean so much to either make one last trip before he’s born, or to go up and relax with him at the tail end of the season. Thank you, thank you, and please excuse the re-posts I will be putting up until the contest ends…

And so you understand why I’m so excited, here are some postcards from our weekend at Deephaven Camp last summer:

Squam 2009

Squam 2009

Squam 2009

Squam 2009

Squam 2009

Squam 2009

Don’t forget meatloaf!

I know, it’s going to be 70 degrees this weekend, and all you want to eat are salads. I’m just going to put this out there: Consider making a meatloaf for the leftovers alone. Meatloaf is America’s pâté! Cold meatloaf makes one of the world’s best sandwiches for your celebratory Spring picnic.

I use my mother-in-law’s recipe, which she cooks in a pyrex instead of a loaf pan. It makes all the difference in the world. Recipe is here.

We ate it for dinner on one of this week’s final disgusting sopping wet days, when warm food felt just right. Roasted broccoli and mashed rutabaga (yum!!) on the side:

Meatloaf, rutabaga, broccoli

I smugly ate sandwiches for the remainder of the week. The last piece awaits today, but since Ben has the day off of work I might have to fight him for it.

Enjoy the gorgeous weekend if you’re out here on the East Coast! I think we earned it, after all this awful rain. And last time there was that crazy 70-degree Saturday, Ben and I drove up to Dixville Notch, in Northern NH, and went snowshoeing. Oops.

There were some rough bits towards the bottom:

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

But for the most part, plenty of only-slightly-squishy snow:

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

I was obsessed with this gorgeous shelf fungi; look at those soft shades of mink brown! (Grace, avert your eyes for two pictures.)

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

We were told to take a route that would take us past this crazy ice “sculpture,” formed by water spraying out of a pipe punched full of holes, all winter long.

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

Snowshoeing at The Balsams

I hope those are the last pictures I post of snow until next January. From my mouth to God’s ears.

Maine: Misty mornings and Whoopie Pie Genius

While my parents were here (“Back East,” as we always said when I was growing up) we spent two nights with my aunt and uncle at a lodge they were renting on Great Pond in Maine. The weather cleared for us and we got to splash around in the lake and eat on the porch, and my dad and uncle did quite a bit of fly-fishing from the old canoe. The lodge is affiliated with a venerable and very cool boy’s camp, Pine Island Camp, which my uncle and cousin both attended. We got to have lunch there and tour the island, and it made me hope that I have at least one son one day, so I can pack him off to a mosquito-free island in a Maine Lake to canoe and row and sail and play crazy games and do carpentry and otherwise step back in time. I liked that there seemed to be a lot of emphasis on artistic achievement–music, painting, carving–as well as sports. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera that day, but Dad took a few shots. (The photo up top is of a group of boys rowing past our dock one morning.)

The campers still sleep in tents on platforms, just feet away from the lake.

(Photo by Dad)

Dad was smart enough to take a photo of an archival picture to show how little has changed in 100 years:

(Photo by Dad)

Other than that little trip, we mostly just cooked and ate and relaxed by the lake. We were visited by a distinctly un-shy loon:

Despite appearances, the green canoe was seaworthy:

Bug spray aside, this photo could have been taken 50 years ago:

And if this is basically my dad’s favorite kind of view (ok, he’d prefer a burbling trout stream, but framing anything with a fly rod helps):

I definitely captured his favorite way to shave!

Oh, and Mom and I cooked dinner one night!


After leaving the lake, we drove on back roads over to a resort in NH where my mom worked in High School. On our way there, we passed Douin’s Market, which looked like a convenience store, but sported a sign saying something like, “Home of the Brownie Whoopie Pie, STOP or you’ll regret it.” I yelled “STOP!” and everyone thought I was kidding. Once I made it clear that I take threats of brownie whoopie pie regret seriously, Dad and I ran in. He had the presence of mind to take an iPhone picture of a sign advertising the 10-lb Brownie Whoopie Pies Douin’s makes for parties:

We purchased the normal sized one (perched on the giant one in the previous photo), and devoured it with our picnic lunches. OMG, you guys. I like a whoopie pie as much as the next girl, but most of the time the cake seems to be sadly bland or dry. This subbed in the best brownie I’ve ever tasted–incredibly chewy and chocolatey and delicious. The market also makes a variety of normal whoopie pies, as well as some with peanut butter filling or pumpkin cake.

To die for. (Photo by Dad)

In case anyone will be in Maine soon, DO NOT MISS:
Douin’s Market, New Sharon, Maine
Home of the Brownie Whoopie Pie

Finally, on our way home Sunday we went to the very famous Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH. We called ahead to get on the list, so we didn’t have to wait long. Polly’s is well-known for serving some of the best pancakes anywhere. Your server cooks them to order, and brings three at a time, then your next three, fresh and hot, when you’ve finished those. I chose a sampler so I could try a few of the many, many options–the best by a long shot were the cornmeal blueberry (the middle pancake in my stack, below).

The smoky, crisp bacon and the maple spread were my two favorite things, though! Also the placemats, maple leaf shapes cut out of red vinyl, and the mismatched chairs all painted bright red.

Great, now I kind of want bacon for dinner.

Lakeside eats (and silliness)

Ok, vacation. Greta and I spent some time before the trip working on a google doc (brilliant) spreadsheet to plan the meals we’d each cook and what groceries we were each bringing. I hadn’t thought of using google docs and it was perfect–I highly recommend them if you’re working on anything like an address list or planning document that a couple people might edit.


We each had a few dinners to plan, plus lunches. For breakfasts we all just had english muffins or cereal, though Greta made her famous sausage balls on my birthday!

Happy times, the lake…

Night one: Kate

I brought vegetables from the CSA–small cavolo nero leaves I had blanched ahead of time, as well as a couple summer squash. I also brought cheese, etc. Greta brought dough, since she makes pizza every friday night. The dough rested at her feet during the 9 hour (lots of stops!) trip up to the lake (Ben and I were glad to have traded the 6 hour drive from NY for the 2 hour drive from Boston), and it was a little odd to work with but tasted fine.

(This one also has basil from my happy plant on the porch!)

We had a big salad, as well.

Night two: Greta
Greta made sirloin tips (marinated in Soy Joy), cous cous and roasted asparagus. I was in charge of getting the charcoal grill going–Dad would be proud of my chimney-use skills, though we never quite mastered cooking on charcoal instead of gas!

It’s important to keep your strength up at the lake, since the days are packed with strenuous activity:

Best Lunch Ever

Ok, fine, we didn’t have the baby for lunch, but doesn’t he look edible with his cabbage leaf hat? That day we actually had grilled hotdogs and cabbage slaw, and it was awesome. (The first full day we were all swimming when we got hungry, and Chris had brought beers down to the lake so we maybe had a beer or two before lunch (yikes) (it was late!) and I tipsily made sandwiches, then put them in a ziplock bag and paddled them out to everyone, floating in floaty-chairs and the canoe out on the lake! Whee!)

Dinner three: Greta

Pork tenderloin in a dried cranberry/red wine reduction, with roasted potatoes.
Delicious. Tender and tangy and luscious. She’s something, that Greta.

Wait, maybe THIS was the Best Lunch Ever

The next day we had a whole extra tenderloin all cooked, and Greta had the brilliant idea to make BBQ pork sandwiches. We got onion rolls and barbecue sauce and OMG SO GOOD.

The boys had gone out sailing and ran into some problems, so we ate around 1:30 and they ate around…4:30? At which point I had another little snack, too.

Night four: Joint effort

We were supposed to eat halibut and other lovely things for dinner, but shockingly no one was really in the mood after the heavy, late lunches. Greta (a veritable font of brilliance) suggested breakfast for dinner, and broke out one of the FOUR 1-pound packages of bacon she’d brought. Ben made blueberry pancakes. I made mimosas. We ate around the coffee table around 9:30.

Um, the four of us ate the entire pound of bacon.

Wednesday we rented an old-school pontoon boat for the day, and rolled like old people in total floating living room comfort. The guys really enjoyed being outside:

Jack was impressed when we went back to the house for panini and salad dockside at lunchtime:

And we all swam a lot:

We ate dinner that night early, at a restaurant in town. Everyone was tired, but Jack and Greta were able to play cards for a while:

While Chris kicked back:

To be continued, with back-to-back birthday dinners…

Vacation time!

Hurray! We’re off to the lake for a week with our friends Chris and Greta (and, of course, baby Jack)!!

Greta and I have become crazy people with multiple shared spreadsheets planning meals, groceries and packing lists. The car is about to be fuller than it has ever been. The lake house has internet!! Ahem. So I will try to post over the course of the week.


Bon Voyage, Tom!

I spent this weekend back up in Hanover helping my brother Tom get ready to leave for a two-month trip through Europe to absorb great works of architecture. He’s a smart puppy who won a travel grant to fund this trip. Since graduating from Dartmouth last June he designed and built a new timber-framed sugarhouse for the Dartmouth Organic Farm, worked at various timber framing jobs, and worked as a cabinet maker. He’s also a great cook!

I got up to Hanover Friday evening (after my first solo highway drive longer than 15 or 20 minutes–whee!) Tom was getting ready to grill dinner for me and for the college’s current Artist in Residence. We enjoyed sirloin, grilled asparagus, pasta with pesto and a delicious cabbage slaw.

He says he made the slaw using vegetable oil and cider vinegar with quite a bit of sugar for the dressing. I will experiment, since he wasn’t very precise with quantities! We ate leftover steak and slaw in great sandwiches the next day.

Tom has been working on a gorgeous custom fly-tying desk for a couple months, using many of the techniques he learned in timber-framing. He finished it on Friday and on Saturday we went to the woodshop to attach the top to the base and do a couple other final tasks.

Hardware and two doors will be added after he gets back from Europe. Pretty impressive, huh?

We also picked up some great book deals at the Five Colleges Book Sale, hung out with lots of Tom’s friends, finished packing up his stuff and figured out what he needed for this trip, which starts in Istanbul and finishes in Helsinki in late June. He’s packing very light (annotated version here):

Finally, almost a month ago Tom stayed at our place while we were gone for the weekend. When we came back I found this lovely handmade cutting board waiting for me–I can’t bear to use it yet; it’s leaning up against the wall in the kitchen, looking pretty:

Good luck, Tom! Safe travels…


Wheee, back from a mini-vacation: We went to our friend Ann’s parents’ lake house in Maine for Memorial Day weekend, and basically did nothing for three days. There was kayaking and a bit of walking around, and a couple plunges in the not-as-icy-as-expected lake, but for the most part we drank wine, sat on the dock, drank coffee, sat on the dock, played silly games…



Anyway, I will be updating more soon…

Suspicion of Ramps

I got out of the car today (I am now a licensed driver, and had just done my first solo set of errands), and was hit by a wave of onion scent. I was frantically carrying in groceries, so I didn’t think much of it, but a little while later it hit me: Ramps!

(Photo from Nosheteria)

It’s ramp season here in the Northeast, and that smell makes me suspect a crop somewhere nearby. I went outside and foraged in all the places that seemed likely, but didn’t find anything, and didn’t smell them again either.

A mystery! Too bad I didn’t find any; we’re having a dinner party tonight and it would have been fun to do a mini starter of backyard-ramps.

Distracted by Bikes

Something I never thought would happen…has happened. I have bikes on the brain, and want to go out riding. You should know that my dad has bike commuted since I was a kid (I remember watching for his bike light out the window when I was 6), and my brother is really into alternative transport and bike building/repair. I, meanwhile, learned to ride when I was 8 or so, had an ok mountain bike out in Oregon, but never rode with much pleasure or regularity.

Ben loves to bike, but has ridden a totally inadequate bike from high school for years (more than 10 years), and we finally decided to get him a new bike, and to look for something for me as well. I had seen the Electra Amsterdam in Blueprint and shown it to Tom, who gave it a seal of approval, to my utter shock. (I expected him to say it was a marketing ploy, designed to suck money away from unsuspecting rubes who….well, it’s usually something along those lines; you should hear him on beginners who ride racing bikes!)

Behold, the object of my lust:
Note the chain guard, wheel cover, lovely blue shade… It is styled after the bikes used for commuting in the Netherlands, and sports a 3-speed internal gear thingy. (Very technical, right?) I also like Electra’s “flat foot” design approach–the pedals are pushed forward a bit, so when you are stopped you can put your feet on the ground.

But when we went to the bike shop they didn’t have Amsterdams, only the cruiser styles, which aren’t what I want. And they started telling me about some other options, and asking if I really wanted a 3-speed or if I’d want to be able to go up bigger hills eventually. I don’t know! Here is the 24-speed they recommended, the Suede DX w by Giant:
Hmm. More retro-styling than the other Giants I tried, and it has a cute seat, but it doesn’t conjure up images of me biking along looking extremely adorable and European, does it? Reminds me more of a little kid’s bmx bike or something. (…I don’t even know what that means.)