parsnips_FeedMeDearlyI admit that it’s only been of late that I’ve fallen completely and madly in love with parsnips. I used to lump them in with other categories of root vegetables, namely turnips, celeriac, and other knobby specimens. Which take some getting used to if you’re unfamiliar with their earthy taste. But the second I sautéed some peeled and trimmed parsnips in a little bit of butter on the stove, I realized that they live in a category all their own. There’s a honeyed sweetness to parsnips that makes them a joy to cook – not only because they’re delicious, but also because they fill the kitchen with a scent so comforting and familiar, you’ll wonder why they’ve never been in the regular rotation. The kids’ response? More of what seems to be the usual these days. 

ME: OK, What are these called? Does anyone know?

SAM: French fries?

ME: No, they’re not French fries

SAM: I’m gonna try.

ME: Want to smell it first?

SAM: Yes.

LAUREN: Don’t you dare spit it out. Handsome dudes don’t spit stuff out.

[chewing noises]

ME: Do you know what it’s called?

EMMA: No.

ME: It’s called parsnips.

EMMA: Eww.

ME: Did you smell it?

ME: It think they smell like honey. And so, to make it even taste a little bit more like honey, I cooked them with a tiny bit of honey and butter. Which I usually don’t do with mystery foods, but I thought I’d change things up a little. Want to try another, Sam?

SAM: BLAH!

ME: You don’t like it?

LAUREN: Drink your water cocktail. (aka sparkling water and apple juice)

ME: Yeah, drink your water cocktail.

LAUREN: What are you doing SAM?!

ME: He’s just going to get rid of it. He doesn’t want it. That’s fine.

SAM: BLAH!

ME: So nobody likes it?

EMMA: I like it.

ME: Did you try it too, Lauren?

LAUREN: I did.

ME: What do you think it tastes like?

LAUREN: It tastes Swedish.
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We’ve had several sets of plans to go apple picking this Fall, all of which have fallen through. Rodney had to travel on Sunday and left us with no plans and a full day to explore.

We decided to leave for a last-minute trip to Warwick, NY for some apple picking, worried that the season would slip by without a visit. And after spending 30 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main thoroughfare that links our lake house in northern New Jersey to the Southernmost part of the Hudson Valley, we pulled the ripcord and made other plans.

We’d passed by a small farm called L&L and rather than sitting in more traffic, we pulled over to see what they had to offer.

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Although the apple orchard wasn’t open for picking, bushels of apples were available for purchase, and off in the distance I spotted a pumpkin patch. After our visit to Heaven Hill, we’d bought our fair share of pumpkins, but the kids were eager to find another, having drawn all over our existing pumpkins with a set of highly-guarded Sharpies. How they get a hold of these markers is a mystery; one of their magical talents seems to be finding Sharpies from hiding places that I’d previously thought undiscoverable.

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We loaded up on fruit…

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And bought a few decorated pumpkins…

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I try to avoid the “lately…in pictures” type of post because capturing a story is so important to me. There’s always a story, and one of the most joyous parts about writing this blog is getting to tell it.

But sometimes there isn’t a story. This week, we didn’t visit a Halloween Festival Megaplex Spectacular. We didn’t travel to an exotic foreign location with tall ships and Canadian beer. We stayed home, we nested, we ate some old-fashioned home-cooked food. I guess that’s a pretty good story after all.

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Chocolate croissants in the park….

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Blink and you’ll miss this speck of a park in Chelsea. Look for it and you might see little ones at play.

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Quiet moments…

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Wild moments…

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Like its sister June, September has an uncanny ability to confuse the senses. One day it’s warm, calling for T-shirts and frilly pink dresses…

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…polar bear dips in the lake…

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When I was a kid, I cherished the start of the school year. Fresh crayons; the faintly chemical scent of new markers; stiff, chalk-white notebooks that suggested hard work and promise. That feeling lasted for a few short weeks, until the binders no longer held their intended single subject and my locker filled with stray paperclips. And so began the long, slow march until June.

My kids didn’t inherit the same love-of-back-to-school gene. They don’t light up at the first sounds of back-to-school jingles in late August. Those August days are lazy days. Days when the big decision is whether to swim in the lake or snoop around the backyard for bugs. Anything that puts a damper on that lifestyle isn’t welcome, no matter how good the markers smell.

School means a lot of things. Of course there are friendships to rekindle and shiny new teachers, but there are also schedules, after-school classes, and the mad rush for dinner. It’s busy season, no way around it. At least for nine more months.

Last week, as I watched as friends post Facebook pictures of eager faces with hand-painted signs (First day of K!), I had a looming sense of dread that my three little ones’ spirits might not be so bright. Although spending a Summer at the lake – which held little in terms of structured activity – took some patience, it was a bonding experience for all. 

So it was with equal parts sadness, excitement, and trepidation that I walked the kids to their new classes last week. Brand new outfits had been laid out the night before to dampen the nerves. If crayons couldn’t get them going, maybe new cotton could.

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With a big hug, I kissed Lauren and Sam goodbye…

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And snuck off with Emma to a local French bakery.

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It’ll be our little secret that Preschool doesn’t start until next week. The backpack? Let’s assume that it was more of a training backpack. Her choice, not mine. Next week she’ll be a full-blown Preschooler, backpack and all; until then, we hang…

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