“Do you get lonely?”

I asked my friends on Facebook for inspiration for a blog post. We have transitioned to the life we are living very slowly. It took us about 5 years from reading a book about farming in Vermont (while living in a very dense, downtown area), to where we are today. This question was raised by a dear friend from my previous life, back when I was in college.

I chose to answer this question first because I remember looking at pictures of land and houses back then, and craving the sense of peacefulness those pictures evoked.

The pictures I share on social media are close to reality, they depict the essence of our life pretty accurately. But as the normal social media consumer, I do not share every details about my life. Mainly for privacy concerns, but also because I often assume that some aspects of rural life/my life is so obvious, that I tend to not share those aspects. Like how to stack wood, how to split wood, how to cook on a wood-stove. It has become second nature.

IMG_0770Picture from our main window, something I would share on social media.

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Picture from our side window, that I would probably not share on social media. We have neighbors! And a road a few yards from our house.

 

 

We have reached a routine that only seem relevant to mention when friends from a previous life or when family visit us.

So, back to the main question: “Do you get lonely?” My honest answer is “sometimes, I wish I was”. Sometimes, I wish we lived in an even more remote area, in an even smaller house. Sometimes I wish I could live in those pictures you find online when you type “off-grid living”. Sometimes, I google picture of off-grid living, and want to just escape from our life.

Our life hasn’t changed that much since moving here.
We both have a job, we have a child that attends the public preschool, and we volunteer whenever we can. I am the librarian in our little town, which means that I interact with a lot of people, even on days when I don’t feel like talking to people. Off-grid living doesn’t mean I am not connected to my community. I am still paying property taxes, I am still very much connected to my neighbors.

I have actually never felt so connected and not-lonely in my life. I am friends with people of all ages, of very different backgrounds. I am friends with people I would have never associated myself in the past. Being physically close to people, but far from other communities tend to bring us closer together. We all have something in common: we love this place we call home, and we work together to make it better. And sometimes, that is enough to forget our differences.

We did it!

We finally moved into our new home, that we started May 1st, 2015. We moved in July 15th, 2015. It is far from being done, but we are so happy to be in. It feels like camping sometimes, but we love it!

Here are a few pics of downstairs and our sleeping quarters.

The view from upstairs window, before we moved in

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Up the stairs

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Beautiful stove, not yet connected. View from the beginning of the stairs

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Our kitchen area

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Our sleeping quarters, upstairs. Our little one has a little reading/playing area next to it. Will become bigger as soon as we have futons/tatami for our sleeping area.

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And here it is! Our beautiful small home!

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Summer Series: Maisie Dobbs

Every summer, I pick an author, and try to read everything I can from that author. My first summer doing this, I picked Mary Higgins Clark (which doesn’t meet all the requirements I now have for my Summer Author). I forgot a few summers, but last one was Louise Penny. What a fun summer that was!

This year, I discovered Jacqueline Winspear, and she is perfect for this project. I am on book 3 of her Maisie Dobbs series. It has all the elements I require to be a good Summer Author:

– light reading, but I do like to learn something while reading

– enough book published in the series that can entertain me through a summer

– travel to another period or country

Next year’s contestants: Martin Walker (Bruno, chief of police), Laurie King, Alexander McCall.

Freedom Rangers

Hi all,

We have a few extra meat birds (around 12) for sale. We will process them in two weeks, early September. They are Freedom Rangers, fed 100% organic feed from Green Mountain Feeds (local and organic). They are also free-ranging every day, on .05 acres. We do have fence, but it’s mainly to keep bears and foxes out. We thoroughly clean the coop every week (no deep litter, everything is cleaned out and new straw is provided). $5.5/lb (around $27.5/bird depending on how much they will weight once processed), $6 if you want it custom cut. Delivered to your house.

These birds are smaller than the one in the store, but at the end of their life, they are still able to run (and Robin makes sure he chases them around every day), and they don’t die from a heart attack.

You are welcome to come and see them before we process them, we have toys outside for little ones, and I can do a storytime and a hands-on activity (looking for eggs in the chicken coop, getting close and learning about chickens, etc.) with preschoolers.

Louise Penny – Still Life

I’ve been reading Anna Karenina for weeks now, and it’s taking so long because I’ve discovered a new mystery writer after listening to VPR’s Vermont Edition.

Louise Penny seemed so nice on the interview, I picked up her first book the next day. It was a wonderful read. Three Pines, the village where the story takes place reminded me so much of Sharon, VT where we live. A small New England village.

The characters are fun and unique. They reminded me a lot of Fred Vargas’ characters, but less complicated. Adamsberg and Gamache (homicide detectives in Vargas and Penny’s novels) are very similar, they absorb information, very slowly.

I am now off to read the second book in the series: A Fatal Grace. Anna Karenina will have to wait a little bit longer.

Time for a harder cheese: Gouda

I said in the previous post that I was going to try a cheddar, but I didn’t have the correct culture for it. I had some MM100 culture which is good for a Gouda, and is very similar to making a cheddar.

I started with about 3 gallons of farm-fresh cow’s milk. img_0350

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I heated to 90F, at which point I added the culture (MM100 from Choozit, 1/8 tsp). After I let it ripe for 10 minutes, I added the rennet, about 3/4 tsp diluted in 1/2 cup of cold water.

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After waiting and cutting the curd, and cooking it, I scooped it out in my mold.

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Now, the fun part: pressing it overnight. Unfortunately, Ben’s press doesn’t come with a way to know how much pressure I am applying. img_03751

Undressing the cheese:img_0377img_0394

Now all we need to do is wait a few months…

Baklava

Middle eastern food is my favorite ethnic food. Anytime I want something out of the ordinary, I am never disappointed by a middle eastern dish. It mixes ingredients we usually don’t use, and can be very light (this recipe is not one of those though).

Serving : 25-30

Preparation : 30 minutes

Baking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1 roll of phyllo dough sheets (Athens foods sell them by two per package) ~ 1 lb

8 tbsp butter melted

2 cups of crushed walnut

1/2 cup sugar

For the syrup:

1 cup sugar diluted in 3/4cup water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp orange-flower water

1 tsp rose water

Instructions:

allow the phyllo dough sheets to reach room temperature before using.

Brush a large dish that fits the dough with a little bit of butter.

Place a sheet of phyllo on this greased dish.

Brush the sheet with butter. Add another sheet and repeat the process until half the sheets are used.

In a food processor, crush your sugar, walnut.

Place this mixture over your pastry.

Place a phyllo dough sheet on top, brush with butter, repeat the process until you don’t have any remaining sheet.

Brush the top with butter. Cut in square or diamond shape.

In a preheated oven, 375F, bake for 45 minutes, or until top is lightly colored.

In the meantime, make the syrup.

In a saucepan, simmer the water+sugar for 10 minutes, no stirring.

Just after removing from heat, stir in the lemon juice, orange- flower and rose waters. Let it cool down.

Pour the syrup over the hot pastry, and set aside to cool off.

You can store this for a few days in an airtight container.

Bon appetit.