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‘Tis a Gift to be Simple

Su came up for a few days to help us celebrate and as usual the time flew by.    One of the drawbacks of living this far North (I know, there’s a whole country North of us…but in November Searsport feels “far North.”) is that we don’t see as much of our family during the holidays for as long as we’d like.

Drying some sheep's wool we dyed with seaweed and salt water

It was the trifecta of weather conditions…brilliant sunshine on Wednesday morning, begging us to walk the beach hunting for sea glass and drift wood with a hot cup of coffee in tow.  We were gone almost two hours because the tide was perfect and there was no biting wind to drive us home.  When we got back we played with the goats and walked them through the woods so they had some time to eat the acorns and apples off the ground (really we were just looking for an excuse to hang out in the sunshine).  Bob stopped by to say hello and check out the progress on the art studio (sheetrocked and painted now).

Scared that we’d run out of time for all of our plans, Su and I left the boys to talk about lawn mowers and snow blowers while we headed to our field across the street to hunt for bright red cranberries to go with Thursday’s turkey.  By early afternoon we were shopping in Belfast for yarn, fresh bread and stocking stuffers…ready to stay home for the next few days.  Wednesday night ushered in howling winds and pounding surf by the late afternoon and we were thrilled to have all of our supplies in place.  We settled into the full-moon night with lentil & kale soup, decadent desserts, movies and KNITTING).

Thanksgiving morning  seemed pretty calm so we bundled up in our sweaters and harvested brussel sprouts, squash and lettuce for dinner.  Steve’s been working on a root cellar solution combined with simple hoop houses…so far so good…it’s the end of November and we’re still eating our of the garden.

We planned to feast around 2 PM but somehow it was 4 o’clock and dark before the Parker House rolls were ready and we were sitting at the table with Emilia Dahlin’s CD playing in the background…and we marveled at how long it takes to make dinner and how quickly we finish it.  The Thanksgiving night sky was crystal clear and crowded with stars…so Steve lit a bonfire while we washed the last of the dishes and we spend the evening poking at the embers and talking about holidays from our childhood…only the dog begged to go into the house…the ground was too cold to sit on.

We woke this Friday morning to sleet, snow and freezing rain…what a perfect excuse for Indian pudding and more knitting~ I’m working on wool I dyed with indigo and Su is knitting silk socks with Noro yarn…Steve worked on the slide show below…but back to the food.  If you don’t have a family recipe for a cornmeal and molasses pudding, try this one when you know you’ll be nesting in the house for a few wintery hours.  In my mind, the breezes of heaven are scented with Indian pudding…see for yourself:

Traditional Indian Pudding

1/2 C Stone ground yellow cornmeal

3 C  whole milk

1/2t salt

1T Kate’s Homemade butter

2 farm eggs, beaten

1/2C brown sugar

3/4C blackstrap molasses

1T Kate’s Butter

1t cinnamon

1/2t ground ginger

2C whole milk

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a heavy, enameled 2-qt saucepan, combine cornmeal, 3C milk, salt, and 1T butter.  Heat slowly to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Combine eggs, brown sugar, molasses, 1 T. butter and spices.  Add to cornmeal mixture and 1C milk.  Bake at 300 degrees, stirring every 20 minutes for 2 hours.  Add 1 more cup of milk halfway through baking time to keep the pudding creamy.  At the end of 2 hours stop stirring, turn off oven, and let pudding set for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm with really good vanilla ice cream (we like Gifford’s best).

One of the movies we watched this weekend was a downloadable NetFlix: Ken Burn’s Documentary The Shakers.  The Shakers had a community in the town I grew up in, Canterbury New Hampshire and a community in Alfred Maine.  Did you know they were one of the most successful Utopian societies in North America?  I’ll close with a short video clip of our last few days, and the words to the beautiful hymn Simple Gifts by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848.

‘Tis the gift to be simple,

’tis the gift to be free,

’tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

It will be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.

To turn, turn will be our delight,

‘Til by turning, turning we come round right

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,

‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,

And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,

Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,


‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,

‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,

And when we hear what others really think and really feel,

Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.


Thank you for reading our blog and being part of our world.

2 responses to “‘Tis a Gift to be Simple”

  1. Beautiful post and video, Astrig and Steve. Our family is eager to try the Traditional Indian Pudding!

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