Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I'm sure a lot of you have spent lots of time with family this summer, maybe even big family vacations or long visits.  It is one of the best things about the slower pace of summer, being able to have a leisurely visit.  My brother and his family have been here visiting for the past ten days, and will be here for a total of two weeks, which is an amazingly long visit.  And even though it isn't really the best time for a vacation for me, due to the ever-looming pile of orders waiting for me in both studios, having them here has forced me to slow down a little bit and enjoy what summer in Vermont has to offer, for which I am grateful.  My friends up here and I often lament the fact that we never do the lovely summer things we intend to do, like hike and swim and even just sit around on the porch drinking iced tea.  So I am very glad I made myself take the time to go swimming at Buttermilk Falls, our friends' pond, the town pool, and today at Lake Rescue.  We've also been to Bromley Mountain Adventure Park, cooked hot dogs and s'mores over an open fire, the little boys caught frogs and went fishing, and we've all done some good puzzling over mysterious pond creatures.
 But with a large group of people always comes the problem of how to feed them all, and really, who is going to do all those dishes?  How does your family deal with this challenge? I'd really love to hear, so please leave some of your ideas in the comments!  Ever since I was very small my family has created a daily chart to try to evenly split up the work (and fun) of feeding a small hoard.  My mom has always said that vacations for her when we were small children was "just a change of sinks." And so as soon as we were old enough we got drafted into service.  The chart with a family of 4 was pretty simple.  But now with a combined family of 9, look what we have come to:

I mean just creating the chart is a huge challenge in itself.  Luckily I have an older brother who loves to sort things into columns. ;p  So we have a childcare column (which right now is just taking care of Emmett, which is great for us), a table setting column, cooking, clearing the table and washing the dishes, and then "Riley" is for the people "leading the life of Riley," or in other words, just relaxing and doing nothing.  And somehow I just realized this year that the only way this system works is to absolutely not feel guilty about being Riley when it is your turn, and really enjoy it, or otherwise you just feel like you are cooking and cleaning all the days long.
Of course Olivia does almost nothing except lick the occasional plate and generally be in the way.  But she looks good doing it, doesn't she?

So that's how we do it.  It's a lot of work feeding 9 people every lunch and dinner!  I don't know how those big old farm families did it on a daily basis! There must be a trick to it, and you probably don't make lobster pasta much.  But for 14 days we are going all out!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

End of Summer Pot-Luck Idea: Baked Hasselback Potatoes

 I made this potato dish for a pot-luck we were invited to this past weekend, and I think they were a hit.  It is kind of like a cross between oven fries and a baked potato.  They are a quite easy, and very inexpensive way to feed a large group.  You slice baking potatoes almost all the way through to the bottom, and the recipe I made them from suggested putting chopsticks on either side of the potato to make sure you don't accidentally go all the way through, which worked really well.  Then you brush them with olive oil, herbs, and sea salt, then bake them for 45 minutes to an hour.  I served them with ketchup, but a fancy aioli like you get a a Belgian french fries place would have been really delicious.  You can find a recipe for them here, although the recipe I used from Cooking Light doesn't seem to be online.

Monday, August 19, 2013

80th Sunapee Summer Fair in Instagrams

For those of you who have never been, this is a truly amazing fair.  It is 9 days long, for starters, with 2 full days of set up.  Each vendor is judged on the quality of his or her booth, so there is a lot of pressure to have a set up that is really professional and sleek.  So the experience for the shoppers is very high end, like walking around through hundreds of tiny craft galleries.  We had wonderful weather, traffic was steady, and I managed to somehow finagle help from friends or family on every day but one, so the days just flew by.  All in all it was a fantastic experience.  Exhausting, but really great.
I saw lots of familiar faces from last year, which was really nice, and also lots and lots of new faces.  I was again so impressed and amazed at how many families have been shopping at this fair for generations, and have made a family tradition out of it.  They look forward to visiting the same artists from year to year and picking up a new piece each year.  And there was a jeweler in a booth across from me who was participating in his 41st Sunapee Summer Fair.  His daughter was behind the counter helping him, and he told me she was in a playpen during his first fair.  And her sons were there with her, so there were sometimes three generations in the booth at the same time.  I felt a little as though I was looking at the ghost of my Christmas future, and tried imagining Emmett being at the show with me at age 40 with his children in tow.  Almost made me feel like my life was flashing before my eyes.  There is something pretty amazing about joining an organization for life.  It gives one a real sense of permanence and continuity, which is really rare in this day and age. 
This was my second year, and from a booth design point of view I think I learned a lot this year.  There is a true art to putting together a sophisticated booth that doesn't actually take 2 full days and a couple of carpenters to put together.  It is all smoke and mirrors people!  So I have a few good ideas about how to simplify things for next year.  And I really need one that I can modify to fit all of my craft shows, some of which are indoors and can't accommodate 8 foot high walls!  So these old booth walls from these photos have probably seen their last show.  My next goal for booth design is to not only limit the time it takes to set up, but also the amount of lugging.  Note the giant U-Haul truck below.  Yikes. 
Sorry that basically all of the photos are taken from inside my booth.  I'm afraid that on this blog you get to see what I see, and that's where I spent 95% of my time.   You'll have to take my word for it that there was lots of other really cool stuff going on.  But luckily I was so busy I didn't have a chance to play around the fair with my  camera in tow, so it was just Instagrams from my booth for me this year.  I'm not complaining.  And thanks so much to everyone who made it to the fair this year! We all really appreciate your support!