Memorial Day, Remember why.


A day to remember those protect our nation and our freedom.
A day to connect with family as summer casts it’s golden spell on our country.
A day to enjoy company of friends and neighbors at the Village Parade.
A day to re-invent what all of this means…my youngest daughter, my son, my husband, my baby sister, her daughter, and my adorable neighbors were one family today…remembering, connecting, and enjoy all that the day had to offer here on our small farm. If you can’t be with all of your loved ones…remember them as you enjoy your re-invented family.
I love you all.
J.

as part of the Boston Holocaust Memorial, is a gathering of neatly placed cobbles…each one signifying a child”s lost life ~ when the Nazis murdered as many as one and a half million Jewish infants and children.

Boston statement - Copy
Freedom isn’t Free.
Each May, the United States celebrates a day called Memorial Day.
Does Memorial Day have meaning? I sure do hope so.

This weekend, as my husband dresses in his Fire Fighter’s Uniform, dressed in their best, they ready to march in our town’s parade in honor of those who gave so much for OUR FREEDOM . Across the country children and their parents gather for their Town’s Memorial Day Parade ~ little ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a BBQ or a picnic at the lake or beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember
Boston names
“And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.
…..We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does.
Ronald Reagan,40th President of the United States

Boston North side - Copy (2)…..
”It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Abraham Lincoln,16th President of the United States ~ Gettysburg Address
Thank you all, who have given so much to preserve our Freedom and the Freedom’s of others.
God Bless America!
Pray for God’s blessing on America. Ask for God’s protection over all branches of our military
Be Well,
Jessica

Asparagus. Asparagus? Yes, Asparagus.


An aphrodisiac. Yeah, you heard me; Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century herbalist, wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.”
In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served 3 courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinners (not absolutely necessary, I hope, but asparagus lore nonetheless) to, well, you get the picture.

Asparagus

Can you tell I’m in the mood ~ for Spring!

What is spring without asparagus?!Do you have asparagus growing in your garden? If not, it’s not hard to get started, you just have to be patient, well. for a couple years!spears

You can get asparagus crowns at most garden centers.
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Dig a furrow about 10 inches deep and wide and as long as you want your row to be. Fill the trench about halfway with compost and place your asparagus crowns on top, about 10 inches apart and cover loosely with soil and water. This is best done in the springtime as soon as the danger of frost has past.
You won’t get any spears your first year, but the fern-like foliage will still be pretty. Make sure you mulch well every autumn to keep weeds down and a steady stream of nutrients coming. Asparagus is a hungry plant.
asparagus-1

Do not harvest your asparagus until it’s at least three years old. This allows the plant to have time to build a strong root system. When your’s is ready; gather the asparagus and leave at least one stalk in the ground, for good luck, so the lore goes; actually it is common sense, it leaves seeds for sowing.
Asparagus is great for permaculture because it can live 15 years or more and keep providing you with tasty spears each spring.
It grows best in sandy, alkaline soil in full sun, but it’s not picky. It can handle a bit of shade and less than perfect soil too, as long as you fertilize it well.
spears
Your plants will start sending up shoots shortly after the frost has past and may continue well into June. Cut the shoots near the base when they are about 10 inches long and about as thick as your finger. If they are thinner than a pencil, your plant isn’t ready for harvesting yet, or it’s gotten tired of being harvested and needs to be let alone. Make sure the heads of the spears are tight and haven’t started to feather out. Once they’ve started to get ferny, it’s too late to harvest them.
Asparagus Berries

Asparagus is best eaten fresh, but if you want to save some for later, put it in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers and store it in the fridge. If you want to save some for a long time later, steam the stalks for about five minutes and then freeze them in a freezer bag.

Asparagus is a good diuretic and is full of nutrients to help build up strength. Asparagus is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you’ll find. It is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamins B6, A, C and thiamin, contain no fat or cholesterol and are low in sodium.

It is best lightly steamed so that it is tender-crisp and bright. I like to serve it with a tangy lemon butter sauce.
asparagus-

PS. It’s a good food to eat when you are doing a bodily cleansing, a great “spring tonic” kind of food.

Soup’s on…at Picasso’s: chicken noodle with kale, corn chowdah, and creamy carrot curry (vegan)
try a citrus salad on baby kale, or grilled pear and pork on mixed greens.
Turkey burger with vidalia balsamic jam!

Be well,
Jess

Sunday, Sunday…


Sunday in our home town, is probably much like Sunday in your hometown. Church, followed by breakfast at your favorite spot. Home for some yard work or chores…Does anyone still have their traditional Sunday family dinner, I hope so. Now that we are at the Shoppe on Sundays, there is no time for a sit down Sunday dinner. Oh, I am not complaining, I love what I do, I love the people I have met, the friends I have made, and the atmosphere our family has created, a few people have commented, on this in particular; they thought it felt like an extension of their home, their dining room, kitchen or living room. This sounds just about perfect to me. Maybe we can’t have a sit down Sunday dinner here at Picasso’s but we are surrounded with family and friends, and that is almost as good. Don’t you think?

pansy and iris

Our Sunday Soup specials, Tuscan Sausage, with potato and kale (just as luscious as it sounds) and vegetable (loaded with veggie goodness)

Salad special Sunny citrus on mixed greens with red onion, cucumber herbs, served with our homemade honey lemon dressing. A bright spot in your day!

Smoothie: Mango tango (oh, yes, I just made that up) Mango, orange juice, pom juice, and vanilla yogurt! Shine on!

Special: Angel hair pasta with tomato pesto and topped with fresh grilled chicken! Served with a side salad or not!

Have a wondrous day, enjoy your friends and family!

Wow, that’s a lot of exclamation points! hee her.
Be well.

Gold, pure Gold.

Gold, pure Gold.

Ah, you have “No Mazel”


Helen’s ( a friend from childhood) Bubby used to say this to me…”You have No Maazel” “Poor girl”…

I always tried to hide my sadness, even from myself when I was young; we all did,. We stayed outside and away from home as much as possible; we just stayed out-of-the-way. I his behind my smile. Not hidden well enough to fool Bubby, Helen and I were not friend’s long, as we moved alot..but I never forgot her or her Grandmother, and what she said to me.

As an adult, I have always believed you make your own luck. My own, Maazel; positive energy. Luck comes from work, work on your self, give of yourself to others, have a positive attitude; when you see things as they really are, you tend to have LUCK in your life.
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A Horseshoe has been said to symbolize good luck, good fortune and fertility.
Horseshoes have associations with the strength and dependability of the horse, and, in an upright position, it is also symbolic of the moon. Pointing downwards, it is symbolic of the womb. To the Greeks, it symbolized the crescent moon which was regarded as a symbol of fertility.

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The Horseshoe protects one’s house and land, to keep strangers away, when hung up on the wall of a home or above a doorway. The “U” shape will hold good luck inside forever. This tradition may stem from the 10th century Saint Dunstan. He trapped the devil using a Horseshoe and from that point on the devil would never enter a Christian home adorned with a Horseshoe over the door. (thank goodness)

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Some legends say, that a Horseshoe “‘Pointing Up” will gather your Luck, whereas “Pointing Down” it will shower you with Luck.
Do you have a good luck Charm?

Be well,
Jess

Let It Snow-Man!


Things to love about winter…

Watching the snow fall covering everything with sparkling beauty.

The crunch of snow under my feet.

Sliding down the hill on a plastic or wooden sled, or even a piece of cardboard box.(Well, the card board thing didn’t really work out so well, I broke my leg in three places and was in the hospital for a week and a cast from my toes to my waist for 3 months, after i had the cast “reduced” to just the length of my leg, I fell down the stairs while racing my little brother Sean; broke the cast- and back to the hospital I went…. Yup, I was that child.)

The holiday lights that make the whole outside world look like a winter wonderland.

As temperatures dip, and the long nights take hold,(they are now on the upswing) Enjoy some of the things that only winter weather can bring. Without cold weather there would be no snow, no ice, no backyard skating rinks, no sledding, no snow forts to build,(my children used to paint their’s with spray bottles full of food color and water) and certainly no snow boarding! So, as long as it’s winter time, get out and have some fun,put on an extra layer, and head outside.
I have always wanted to build a skating rink in my yard, I will try this year; it’s going to be cold for the next couple of weeks.

snow man
Building a snowman, or watching a small child build one…

Drew boy
I think there must be an art to sledding…

snow fun

the walk
Do you remember the walk back up the hill…worth it every time.

Finni fun
Zooom…(uhm, not so much) putt,putt was more like it.

Andrew
Winter fun, never goes out of style.

waiting
Waiting for their turn…to shine.

home
I love the snow;with winter I feel close to home. We have our rituals and family dinners. And as I reflect, I smile at the nostalgia of my life.
Be well,
Jess

Let that little light of yours shine, shine, shine…


I have just one wish, or maybe we should call it a my hope; to matter, to make a difference.

You know what’s interesting? We all seem to be chasing something, don’t we? At this time of year,”The Holiday Season”; so many families are scrambling for the perfect gift. Maybe you have deep pockets; buying for the guy/girl who has everything. Maybe you have nothing, trying to bring a gift home for the child who has little to nothing, knowing you still have to feed her. I am willing t bet you the little girl who receives just one gift will cherish that gift more than the fella who has everything. I know, I was that girl.

I am searching; searching for the perfect gift for just such a child…I will buy two; one for a girl, and one for a boy. The Local Fire Department (my husband is a volunteer fire fighter)has an annual event; they use money collected from fundraisers, such as middle school dances to purchase new and lightly used toys for children…then they invite families(parents, to shop – for FREE! they can choose gifts they hope their little ones will love; even though they have no funds to purchase these. How awesome is that!

… I’m sure of only one thing. If you leave this world, this life; having touched just one person’s life, you have made a difference!

Live like you mean it.

dynamic duo
Andy and Dolly…always together…as I went out this morning to begin chores, this is how I saw them. He, my little Andy, Loves her endlessly.

Miels
Camille, one of my older girls, past her breeding age, so she just lolls about looking pretty.

LaLa
Shangrala, I call her LaLa…always regal in appearance…always.

duo and princess
Andy and Dolly, think they are missing something…racing up the hill; Princess seems to be hinking…Oh, no…here they come!

duo on the run
Kick up your heels!

optical illusion
This shot of Phantom is an optical illusion, this is really 2 llamas…Jubilee is just behind Phantom ( he is brown and cream)

Gio
Gio…aah, Gio.

Life won’t work out exactly as we had planned, it just won’t. How did you envision your life when you were a child? No where in my childhood fantasy’s did I see myself on Llama farm in Upstate NY. Life does not work out the way you expect. But sometimes it works out even better.
So SHINE, Don’t stand in the light of your convictions? Shine?….it just means to go for what you believe in with all that you have…
Own it, be it, do it and then, when it is your time to exit — depart knowing that you truly lived and boy , did you Shine!

Be well,
Jess

Roots give you something to stand on…


Why Traditions? Because I said so that’s why! No, really ..traditions reinforce; tradition works.

Have you ever been a bystander, a guest of another family – viewing a family tradition? Kinda lonely right? Tradition reinforces who we are; who our families are…it doesn’t matter who you ARE individually, you’re family…

….the hilarious uncle, odd cousins, senile grandparents, or eccentric Aunt, when a reason arises for the a family get together; we are all welcomed back into the fold despite past disagreements, Thanksgiving is such a time.

Generation after generation has gathered together to celebrate and gives thanks…a tradition that has been around for a LONG time (well, in relative terms; this is a young Country after-all).

Roots give you something to stand on. They give you an identity that you can be proud of.

Traditions are tried and true…with the onslaught of commercialism; and “gotta’ have it mentality so prevalent at the holidays it’s easy to lose track of the reason they exist. It is about family and friends. Without family, all the material and money in the world wouldn’t mean much.

Getting together as family during holidays, celebrations, and life’s milestones is second-nature, a custom, a way of life…a tradition, and traditions evoke a deep seated emotional response, a connection to our past and our present. This is why tradition works.

Tradition is about creating a refuge, a comfortable haven, away from the world. It’s all about putting some meaning behind life’s steps. No matter how much you’ve done in your life, how many miles are on your frequent flyer account, how rich you are, or how powerful, tradition will always be bigger than you are.

Be well,
Jess

I can see the light through the woods…


I feel as though, I am falling behind; Behind what? I am not sure…a feeling caused by holiday commercialism I suppose. I know Christmas is 39 days, 15 hours and 14 minutes away – yet I feel as though I missed something. Maybe I missed setting out my Holiday decor in October, or I missed a big shopping deadline. Oh, maybe my Christmas cards should have been sent weeks ago…

Sometimes,I feel as though Holiday Commercialism is being jammed down our throats – sideways. It’s the same every year. As soon as Halloween hits it’s much like opening the starting gate of the Travers in Saratoga. We’re off for the Christmas race – there is shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing…baking…buying, baking… By the time thew holiday arrives, all we are left with is an exhausted spirit, frayed nerves, and a worn out body. Is the mad dash to the Christmas finish line really worth it? Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, peace and goodwill!

Now don’t get me wrong, I adore (yes,adore) the Holidays. I wait with great anticipation for family and friends to arrive on Thanksgiving. I prep myself weeks in advance for our annual football game (well, I ran once- that counts). I write my lists, being sure not to forget anything, (like figgy pudding or fruitcake) ’cause those items would be easy to forget, wouldn’t they.
I live for the day we head out in search of the perfect Christmas trees; Christmas cookie baking day, and caroling. These are the “things” I love; the traditions, time spent with family and loved ones.

I think I will just turn off the television, thus turning off the noise and the pressure. I will turn on the radio- to an all Christmas all the time station – the day after Thanksgiving as I don our home in in holiday greens and candles. I will feel content in my slow, but orderly countdown to the holidays…I will. There is a light in the woods.

Be well, and feel free to slow down…
Jess

Rhinebeck in Pictures


To say this fairgrounds is gorgeous is an understatement.

I had a blast! I met so many nice people. People who genuinely care about animals and where the products (think fiber, lots of fiber and yarn) the adore come from. People from the city, the country, farms, wonderful people from; Great Britain, Austria, Germany, Canada, France, Switzerland…my gosh, I was smiling so hard.

Andy did so well I was so proud of him, with KatDoll looking after him every moment, she literally didn’t want him out of her sight. She is the sweetest.

Rather than blather on…a slide show just for you.

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Hang on…I’ll tell you the “real”(and why it took me this long to post pictures) story tomorrow.

Be Well,
Jess

When life hands you tomatoes….


Make sauce…
I wasn’t sure what this dry, dry summer would bring at the harvest; smaller heads of cabbage, less tomatoes on the vine, stunted carrots… well, happily none of the above. I even had a few bunches of grapes on my baby vines!

I credit the llama manure,and the toppings of straw and lawn clippings that I used to keep the beds covered. We did get about an inch of rain a few nights ago, but at last check we were still about 6 inches below the norm ~ leading to dry wells and brown lawns.

Brown lawn and a green, full garden; I’ll take it. With the air a bit cooler this week, (and Howie away in Jacksonville, Fl. on work) I filled my days working in the garden, harvesting veggies,herbs, and caring for the animals…I also tried my hand at blending Merino wool with KatDoll’s fiber. (I am a spinning fool, some days).
back to te sauce; I made a simple seasoned sauce to be used as a soup base, tomatoes soup, or a pasta sauce beginning…

To begin you need to prepare the Roma tomatoes: 20 pounds or there about…
* no bruised or or overly soft tomatoes please
Boil a big pot of water:
place the cleaned tomatoes, a few at a time in the large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 – 45 seconds is usually enough)
then….

Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.
The peels will pull right off.

After peeling the skins off the tomatoes. Removing seeds, and juice is a bit messy, but necessary, or you will have a very seedy, watery sauce, not at all appealing. So just give your tomatoes a squeeze, and scoop out the seeds You don’t need to all crazy about it…just get most. I bet there are neater ways of doing this ,but .. I just give em a squeeze.

Place the tomatoes into a colander or strainer, as you go. letting water to drain; I have a glass bowl under the strainer to save the fresh tomato juices. ( save the juice for cooking or strain and drink cold)

Simple sauce:
saute, in olive oil;
2 cups chopped fresh onions
2 tablespoons chopped celery
3 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped sweet peppers
You want to infuse the chopped veggies with flavor at this point, so keep the heat low and slow, I add sea salt , black pepper, and other seasonings at this point( I usually taste to see what it needs) use the seasoning you like it’s your sauce after all..
As you are sauteing the veggies, have the peeled and squeezed tomatoes softly simmering in your pot with:
3 Tablespoons of oregano
2 bay leaves ( remove these after simmering)
2 Tablespoons diced,fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon Sea salt

Add sauteed seasoned veggies, and continue to gently simmer, let the mixture reduce to a consistency of your liking. I also use a submersible hand held blender to give a smoother texture.
Your kitchen will smell luscious!
Enjoy or freeze for later. I am purposely not recommending this for canning, as I am not certain it has the proper acidity level to maintain freshness.

Be well,
Jess