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    Tart Cranberry Apple Pear Sauce

    This time of year I LOVE being in the kitchen. Baking, cooking, and more baking. Mostly with cinnamon. And cranberries. And pumpkin. And apples.

    This recipe is an evolution of my original Apple Cranberry Sauce recipe; and much improved if I do say so myself. But you don't have to take MY word for it. (Yes, that was a reference to Reading Rainbow, for the oldsters among us.)

    2 Cups of delicious New Jersey grown Cranberries (okay, they don't HAVE to be from NJ, but, humor me here. The Pine Barrens just do SOMETHING to make cranberries amazing)

    4 Large Apples (I recommend something on the tart side like Granny Smith)

    1-2 Pears

    1/2 Tsp Lemon Zest (this means grating the rind/skin - so please use organic lemons if at all possible)

    3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

    1 Cup Water

    1/2 tsp of Cinnamon

    Dash of Nutmeg

    Peel & cut the apples & pears into bite-size pieces. Combine the berries, apples, pears, sugar, lemon zest, water, and spices in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the apples are soft (but with a bit of bite still to them). The fruit and juices will soften and meld together into a deliciously sweet and tart sauce as it cools. Serve warm or cold - both are delicious!


    You can top with a bit of vanilla sugar if it's not sweet enough for your tastes (though I prefer it tart, you can also up the brown sugar to one cup, initially). Enjoy!


    Posted: Nov 08 2012, 18:25 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Hurricane Sandy and the Jersey Shore

    If you'd like to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, click here (to jump right to the bottom of this post).

    Two weekends ago, we took the day to travel "down the shore" (that's how we say it here in New Jersey). We went to Long Beach Island because it's the closest to us - a little over an hour drive - or 35mi due West as the crow flies.

    (running along Spray Beach in LBI)

    (one of the street markers located at each opening in the dunes along LBI)

    I'd been meaning to share our trip with you here in pictures, because it was such an idyllic  weekend at the beach. But then... Hurricane Sandy (known pre-disaster by the moniker "Frankenstorm" for its proximity to Halloween) came through my state.

    For my family, the hurricane meant a bit of scrambling around in preparation - gathering supplies, the unique opportunity to witness a hurricane up-close, 24 hours of lost power, frantic working to keep our warehouse up and running, and a delayed Halloween. We were truly fortunate to have missed some of the worst weather and after effects.


    For other families, some I know personally and others I've only seen in the media reports, the hurricane brought power disruption, home destruction, and most devastatingly, loss of life. The pictures I see coming in from the shore (where we JUST. WERE.) and from the surrounding towns and cities are almost incomprehensible.

    (looking towards the ocean on LBI during the storm - source unknown)

    (car buried in sand on LBI after the storm- source unknown)

    (the dunes, no longer there - LBI after the storm - source unknown)

    (a beach marker, nearly covered in sand during post-storm cleanup efforts on LBI - source unknown)

    My heart goes out to those still struggling. It's COLD here in New Jersey right now; and there's a Nor'easter coming this week (that means a BIG snow storm for those of you not from the North East USA). Millions are still without power, thousands of homes were damaged, and there's a gas shortage in the Northern part of my state. It's hard to watch the news, to talk about it with my children, to understand what happened so close to home. But it helps to know so many people have have donated time and money to help those most in need. The generosity of the human spirit is alive and well in New Jersey; I am so thankful.

    If you'd like to donate to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in my state, and the surrounding areas hit hard by the storm, here are a few places you can do so. (Each of these charities are non-religiously/politically affiliated and have received a commendable rating at CharityNavigator.org)

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy child welfare efforts: Save the Children


    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy hunger relief efforts at the Jersey shore: The Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties


    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy medical supplies and equipment: Direct Relief International


    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy companion animal rescue and care efforts: Best Friends Animal Society


    To donate directly to general Hurricane Sandy emergency relief efforts: American Red Cross


    To help find or to offer breastmilk storage to those without power: Human Milk for Human Babies - New Jersey


    Thank you for reading, for donating, for keeping those affected by Hurricane Sandy in your hearts and thoughts. Peace.

    Note: I am not affiliated with any of the above listed charities. When you click on the above links, you will leave my site, and go directly to the individual charity pages.
    Posted: Nov 03 2012, 17:10 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    All Things Seem Possible in May

    The world's favorite season is the spring. 

    All things seem possible in May.

    ~Edwin Way Teale

    I've never done a monthly wrap-up post before, but because May was particularly awesome this time around, I've decided to give it a try. What blessings hath May brought? 

    I RAN ten miles (without stopping!) at the Broad Street run in Philadelphia - My longest running distance ever (so far!): 


    The kids completed their first season of Soccer; making me a… (wait for it…) Soccer Mom. Should I get that soccer ball sticker for my minivan yet?

    Speaking of Mom, on Mother's Day weekend, I was treated to a box of brownies, breakfast, flowers, gifts, a drive-thru zoo where the giraffes come right. Up. To. Your. Car. (I love New Jersey), an amusement park, and dinner at my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Philly. Not bad if I do say so myself:

    Many of my flowers started blooming. May is one of the most amazing months in the garden.

    I traveled to a television studio in New York City and met two blogger friends and an attachment parenting guru:

    Next up, my baby turned FIVE. Five I tell you. Unbelievable. My heart:

    Later that week, we took the kids for their very first backpacking trip - 11 miles, three days, and two nights out in the backcountry of Virginia! It was amazing and awesome (and wet and exhausting) but so wonderfully bonding as a family. It was incredibly refreshing to get so close to the earth, and back to basics (No social media! No laptop! No cellphone service!):


    And we concluded with a trip to Washington DC to visit the museums and Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day:


    It's been a spectacular month. I can't wait to see what's up next - bring it on, June!!!    

    Posted: Jun 02 2012, 10:54 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Did You Feel That?

    Tuesday afternoon, August 23rd, while outside gardening with my children, we experienced an earthquake. Just typing this makes me feel alternatingly giddy and faltering (pun sort of intended). I only remember ever feeling one other earthquake in my life, and it was a teeny tiny one, as a teenager, and relatively unmemorable – nothing more than a bit of a shimmy. But Tuesday was so much more. And, as exciting as it was – living history! – it left me feeling vulnerable, all the same.


    We had been out back, sweeping off the porch after trimming back our tomato plants and putting down some soil on our pumpkin patch, taking advantage of the coolness of the afternoon shade to start preparations for the Fall.  Adam was inside, working from home (what a lucky thing, we’d both said, later). I began to hear our wind chime ringing, which, in and of itself, wasn’t a big deal, and my mind didn’t pay much attention – it was a normal sound for the back porch. Only, in retrospect (moments later, retrospect, that is, as little things began to fall into place as being connected and part of a bigger picture of EARTHQUAKE), I realized that there was no wind. That’s when we started to hear a clicking sound, all around… sort of like hail, only, there was no hail. I was looking around, up, down, trying to determine the source of the sound – it was like a crackling or snapping and it seemed to be coming from everywhere – when my husband came to the back door, shouting: "Did you feel that? Was that an earthquake?"


    The force of that word brought the clicking sounds and the ghostly ringing (now loudly jangling) into sharp focus: the clicking was not hail, but rather the house shifting and creaking, along with bits of things falling from the trees (we're backed right up to the woods), the windchime was chiming because the entire building, from which the windchime was hanging, was moving. Just as I took a step towards the back door, I felt a dropping in my stomach, like the sensation of being on a boat in rough waters, or in a car, going too quickly over a dip in the road. I was suddenly dizzy, disoriented, and just then – a good bit scared. We gathered the children and moved quickly inside. Then, as the woman-of-the-21st century I am, instead of rushing upstairs and out front as my husband and children did, I decided to hop on to Twitter, and tweeted:  

    And also: 


    The moment my feed refreshed, my suspicions were more than validated. Nearly every other tweet in my stream mentioned an earthquake! It was surreal. From as far south as South Carolina to as far North as Canada, people had felt the earth move! Interestingly, @Twitter had this to say, later in the day (making me feel a bit better for rushing so quickly to my computer):


    I grabbed my phone and stepped out front where I was greeted by the sight of the largest number of neighbors I’ve seen since moving here five years ago. Once we determined that yes, we all “did feel that”, and weren’t feeling it any longer, we ventured back inside to turn on the news. Already every local station had reporters on the street in Philly talking to folks who’d been evacuated from their buildings, and the national news stations were reporting from DC. Within minutes we knew the epicenter, and the magnitude of the quake: 5.9, near Mineral, Virginia.



    In spite of knowing – both in numbers, and in experience – that the quake was relatively minor, and no one was injured, and that it was over… we stayed glued to the set (and me to my iPhone) for the next half hour or so; answering the kids’ questions, and maybe, in the back of our minds, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It felt eerily reminiscent of 9-11. I did feel a bit dizzy about a half hour or so later, as did the rest of my family. Aftershocks, or, sympathetic vertigo of sorts.


    In the grand scheme of things, this earthquake was a brief moment in time. Tuesday afternoon is nearly two days past, and #earthquake is no longer trending. The news of the world has moved on to another event. We weren’t hurt, nothing near us was damaged, and the rest of our day proceeded relatively uneventfully. My children experienced their first earthquake, and I experienced a feeling of helplessness and insignificance and awe, moved as I was by my minisculeness; pushing headlong through time, magnetized to the unstable crust of our great earth, rocketing through our infinite universe. I’m humbled, and grateful that we were able to experience a bit of the wonder of the earth without any injury.  I’m amazed by the technology that allows us all to be so far from one another, yet so connected. I’m sleeping well, but maybe I checked on my children just a few more times than usual Tuesday night.


    Did you experience Tuesday’s earthquake? I’d love to hear your experience. (by the way, you can report your experience, here. I did!)

    Posted: Aug 25 2011, 01:16 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Not Quite Summer Cherry Picking

    It’s not quite summer… yet.

    But here in Southern New Jersey, it sure feels like it! School is out, the weather is warm, the flowers are in bloom, and today… we went cherry picking!

    I fondly recall my own childhood picking cherries as a fascinating experience that involved going up wooden ladders, balancing on the top step with a bucket in one hand, stretching & reaching up for cherries with the other.

    Apparently, over the last twenty, er, make that thirty-odd years, things have changed a bit, and cherry trees have become shorter.

    Or... perhaps it’s more likely that the farm we visited today just put the ladders away when the guests come around for picking. That, and… I’m a lot taller now than I once was.

    Even ladderless, the three of us had a blast riding on the hayride out to the orchard, trekking out to find trees whose lower half hadn’t yet been picked clean, then picking – and occasionally eating – the delicious dark red cherries!

    After our fingers were thoroughly red and sticky, and our baskets were full, we hopped a ride over to the strawberry fields for some strawberry picking!

    The strawberry-picking season is almost over here (can you believe it?!), and many of the rows were nearly bare,

    but the smell was still heavenly sweet – and so very summery.

    Three baskets and a wonderful afternoon later, we headed home with our luscious fruit. It felt good giving my children the experience of seeing where their food really comes from (not in plastic clam-shell cases!). And, what a great way to kick off our Summer break - there’s not much better than picking your own fruit on a (not quite) Summer day!  

    So, now… do you have any good cherry or strawberry recipes? :)

    Posted: Jun 16 2011, 23:16 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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