Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fattoria Poggio Alloro...a Tuscan family farm stay

After a few days of dining in Florence, Italy on formaggie e salumiCinghiale in umido (boar stew) and pasta ripiena  (stuffed pasta) our bellies were so full of rich delicious foods that we found ourselves shopping from the market, Mercato Centrale, more and more on fresh fruits, simple cheeses, and small handfuls of nuts.  

Our stay back in February, in the historic city of Florence was coming to an end.  We enjoyed the many rich sights of this lovely city as well as indulged in the rich delights of the cuisine. 

As we packed our suitcases, we rekindled the enjoyable memories of the wine tastings, cheese sampling, and gelato spooning on the remarkable Taste Florence food tour, hosted by lovely Toni. 

Our suitcases were bulging a bit more now as we stuffed them with new Italian scarves and thick cashmere shawls.  A dark chocolate brown leather satchel was destined as a birthday gift for Madeleine and a sophisticated cashmere black and grey dress scarf  and smart leather watch was tucked into the suitcase for Riley.

We didn't fret for too long over leaving our marvelous experience in Florence because we were on our way to accepting an opportunity to be hosted by Sarah Fioroni at a cozy tucked away agriturismo farm in Tuscany, Italy called...Fattoria Poggio Alloro

Two years ago, I was kindly asked by Sarah's editor if I would like to review her newly published cook book A Family Farm in Tuscany.  I do get several emails a month to review cookbooks.  More than often, I politely decline due to time constraints, but Sarah's book broke through the clutter of cookbook review and product review requests.   And how thrilled was I when I stopped and took the time to slow down and delve into her family story of migration, hard work, and family dedication.

Ingredients for delicious hearty Steak Diane

From the first page on,  I was captivated by Sarah's family story in Italy.  Page after page of beautiful photography and wonderfully simple family recipes captured my romantic vision of life on a Tuscan farm.  After suffering during WWII, as struggling tenant farmers, Sarah's relatives migrated to the Tuscan region, worked the land tirelessly, saved their earnings meticulously, and slowly purchased parcels of farmland until they could operate independently.

Wintery scenery crossing the Apennine Mountains in central Italy

So, we retraced our steps to the Florence Airport, or Aeroporto di Firenze, in order to pick up a rental car.  The lady at the counter very patiently and kindly explained to us that it would be mandatory that weekend to rent snow chains to put on our tiny powder blue Fiat.

"Snow chains?"  we queried with crinkled up chin expressions of simultaneous disbelief and curious amusement.

With an abrupt mental screech, the images of the lush green gentle hills of Tuscany, known for endless undulating  vineyards, tall pointed and stately cypress trees, and short silver-blue stout olive trees, seemed to poof into thin air as we tried to imagine ourselves pulled over the side of the road struggling to attach snow chains to our rental car.  

Life around the farm at Poggio Alloro

Apparently, it had snowed the night before up in the Appenine Mountains.  We would need to cross this mountain range in order to slip down into the more verdant Tuscan hills.   We tried to suppress our rather cynical response as we politely refused the snow chain offer, but the wide eyed legitimate concern of the rental car agent convinced us that we would regret it if those snow chains didn't accompany our journey.

Minutes later, trundling along with snow chains successfully stowed in they tiny trunk of the little fiat, we headed towards Sarah's family farm.  Following signs to Siena, we climbed higher and higher towards obviously white snow capped mountains.  The weather turned chilly and our little naked tires began to crunch through about an inch of icy snow.

But we were hardened New Hampshire-ites at this point, right?  What was a few scrappy inches of snow in Tuscany?  Well, hardened might be a bit of an exaggeration if given a moment to ruminate the definition of the word. We had at least months...give or take... of 5 foot snow fall shoveling under our belts in New Hampshire.  

We glanced at the snow chains resting peacefully in the back seat and began a reluctant conversation on the best method for attaching them to the tires.

Thankfully the snow chains weren't necessary.  We did just fine.  They rested comfortingly in the back seat.  In fact, we were mesmerized by the expansive countryside in late winter.  On the hillsides, scraggily black vineyards  stretched outwards as far as the eye could see.  Snow gently fell in between each row forming neat little white lines that paralleled one another like a pin striped suit.  The sky was wild with streaky cloud formations that were pulled and stretched by the gusty winds.  We pulled over into a little slip of land near a stretch of vineyard and got out of the car to take in the scenery around different from the typical description of the Tuscan countryside.  The mood was solemn.  Everything was quiet.  The world seemed to be in the midst of a deep breath before exhaling.

Sarah Fioroni's Fattoria Poggio Alloro:  fresh eggs, sausages, and hillsides of rosemary

We continued along, following signs towards the bubbly sounding town of Poggibonsi then drove further south as the air warmed up again and the snow faded from view, towards the direction of San Gimignano.

We spotted the tiny little sideways sign saying CASAGLIA/REMIGNOLI and before we knew it we were rolling into the gravel drive of Poggio Alloro...Sarah Fioroni's Tuscan family farm.  We were less than an hour from bustling Florence, but we felt world's away.

Sarah and I had actually met each other a year earlier in Houston, Texas.  I was engrossed by  her cookbook and family story.  As I stood over my stove preparing her family's recipe for saffron infused risotto, I couldn't help but day dream of what life must be like on her family's farm.

An email arrived in my inbox announcing that she would be on a cooking tour in the U.S. Houston, Texas would be one of her stops on the tour!  How serendipitous!  We arranged a brief meeting on the day she was in Houston.  I drove over to the cooking demonstration and was tickled to meet Sarah in person.  She was every bit as warm and gracious as she came across in her cookbook.  We left with the parting words of how wonderful it would be to meet next time at her farm in Italy.

Many of Sarah's family are still working and caring for the everyday activities on the farm

So here I was!  But, now having just moved to New Hampshire and living on our own little farm in New England.  Sarah and I decided to connect again and I looked forward to experiencing and writing about her life in Italy.

Her farm was honestly every bit as I had imagined.  When we arrived, Sarah was tucked away in the greeting room arranging the booking details and daily arrangements that come with life on an agriturismo farm.  

A lively brown and white Jack Russell terrier trotted into the main entryway of the farm making a bee line straight to Sarah.  Completely used to strangers, she made her rounds greeting us with her swishing tail and winning over our affections within seconds.  Behind her,  two miniature pups bound over each other  into the room in search of their mother.   Sarah's terrier had puppies recently. We were delightfully greeted by the adorably clumsy puppies falling over one another as they nipped and tackled each other... Cappucino and Luigi.

It takes seconds after arrival on Sarah's family farm to be diverted by the most incredible views.   From Poggio Alloro across the expansive valley, one hillside overlapping another hillside perfectly frames the ancient fortified city of San Gimignano in the distance.

Because we arrived close to sunset, the area that stretched gracefully in front of us to the east was glowing with the light cast from the setting sun behind us in the west.  The towers of San Gimignano were lit up like jewels as they capped one rolling green hill after another leading all the way to the valley below Sarah's farm that seemed to scoop right up to the terrance where we were standing.  

We all stood for awhile, taking in the fresh air, the cool winds, and the glorious views as the puppies scampered and rolled around our feet.  Sarah's face was filled with as much pride as our faces were filled with unabashed awe of the perfectly situated location of this farm.

Sarah mentioned how fortunate that we arrived that day because the crew was busy bottling, labeling, and packing boxes of wine in the cellars.  We walked past the chicken coop and alongside  a trail of rosemary bushes to approach  a large structure where whizzing sounds and clinking noises could faintly be heard within.

Countryside scenes around the Fattoria Poggio Alloro farm area

Some family members...uncles and cousins of Sarah...were busy lining up empty wine bottles on a small conveyor belt.  The bottles would be filled with red wine and then continue their clattering journey a bit farther where a label would be applied.  After corks and caps were fastened, the bottles would be plucked from the conveyor belt and neatly arranged in padded boxes for delivery to customers.

As Sarah explained how her family planted vineyards on their land and has tended them for several decades, I couldn't help divert my attention to the views outside the windows of the little factory.  As the bottles are bumping along and the family was whisking them into boxes, the view out of the large windows was just breathtaking.  What a place to work, for goodness sake!   These bottles have some of the most spectacular views.

Tuscany, Italy

Sarah left us to wander the farm leisurely arranging to meet up again for breakfast the next morning.  We wandered over to the barns.  Once Sarah's ancestors purchased the land, they raised the barn here and began to acquire beautiful white Chianina cattle.  The cows were resting comfortably in the barn on beds of straw.  There were several babies born recently and the mothers gently worked their way in between us and the babies to quietly protect them from strangers like us.  The light filtering into the barn was beautiful and it almost appeared that the white cows were softly glowing in the evening light.

Fattoria Poggio Alloro in Tuscany, Italy

After visiting the chicken yard and the pig pen, we called it a night.  I could hardly digest that I was transported from the pages of Sarah's cookbook and family story all the way to her family farm in reality...all the way to Tuscany, Italy.

Early morning mist settling into the valleys below the farm

Without hesitation, I slipped right out of bed at sunrise the next morning.  I eagerly anticipated that spectacular view we saw from the night before and could only imagine what it would look like in the soft morning light.

It was like looking at different variations of smooth thick velvet.  The hills overlapped one another so beautifully and gracefully.  In the distance they seemed to transition right into the faded blues of the early morning light.  Veils of soft white mist rested in between the hills as if a bride was running along with her veil flowing out behind her crowned head.

Quiet and Solemn San Gimignano in off season

I could not get enough of this view.  Early morning sounds of life could be heard on the farm.  Someone was shuffling across the courtyard towards the barns.  I faintly heard someone else rustling around in the kitchen preparing for the morning breakfast.

But for the most part, the air was soft and gentle.  The world was quiet and serene.  Scents of rosemary intermingled with the smoke coming from the breakfast room as I stood overlooking a scene that would sear into my memory for years to come.

View of San Gimignano from Sarah Fioroni's family farm in Tuscany

Breakfast!  My favorite meal of the day!  I am an early morning riser because first, I love the peace and quiet of the morning hours but second,  I love the aromas and pungent smell of bread baking and coffee brewing.

And breakfast on the farm did not disappoint.  We made plans to drive over the hills and wander around San Gimignano but that would have to wait.  We crossed the paved courtyard and pulled open the heavy wooden door to the breakfast room.  A huge fireplace was crackling and sputtering in the stone fireplace.

Hanging on the sides of the fireplace, we noticed slabs of prosciutto drying in the smoky interior.  The room was rustic, masculine, and comforting.  The large chunky country farm tables were lined in cheery red and yellow table clothes.  Plates of pastries and breads were on the table.  A side table offered cheese and yogurts, cereals and juices.  Sarah's aunt greeted us warmly and then went off to whisk some fresh eggs.   The most creamy platter of scrambled eggs  arrived minutes later at the table hot and delicious.

Patrick and I made up our minds right then that our kitchen renovation back in New Hampshire should have a stone fireplace somewhere in it.  It probably wouldn't be as big as the one in Poggio Alloro, but we are indeed now designing a field stone grey  fireplace in our own New England farmhouse kitchen.

The town of San Gimignano is about 20 minutes across the valley from Poggio Alloro.  The town is a delightful excursion from the farm.  It is completely fortified by a huge thick wall so we parked the car and walked up through the towering gates into the village.

Since it was still off season, the town was peaceful and sleepy.  The last time we visited this wonderful Italian village, we shuffled along with thousands of other tourists through the winding streets.  This time, the atmosphere was entirely different.  The few couples there strolled aimlessly hand in hand.  The mood was lovely and romantic.  We stopped at a little deli and bought freshly sliced pork sandwiches on thick crusty Italian bread.  

The windy cobbled streets that off shoot from the main road going into the village lead to some of the most spectacular views of the valleys below.  It wasn't hard at all to imagine life here centuries ago since the town was so empty of signs of modern day tourism.   We stood at the top of San Gimignano and just listened to the wind sweep across the valleys as winter was turning over gracefully to spring.

Sarah's father, always busy in one area of the farm to the next...getting the spring garden ready

Back at the farm, it was a delight to follow Sarah's father around the farm as he went about his daily chores.  From getting the spring gardens ready by carefully measuring the distance in between his plantings  to working in the kitchen to ready to day's pork roast wrapped in seasoning and scented with freshly picked rosemary.  This delicious dish would be on the luncheon table in the big fireplace adorned dining room.

But it was the evening dinner that night that left such an indelible mark on our memories of this trip to a Tuscan farm.  We were invited to dinner at the big wooden farmhouse tables.  Sarah's father would be grilling their signature Florentine steaks right there in the huge open fireplace.  We walked across the courtyard anticipating a night filled with local flavor.  

The chatter of local guests could be heard as laughter mingled with the smokiness of the air as the fires were lit for the BBQ.  When we entered the room it was filled with about 12 people from near and far.

The long tables were scattered with platters of salumi, cheese, vegetables, and finger foods to accompany the steaks.  Bottles of red as well as white wines produced from the farm's vineyards anchored the table. 

Sarah's father emerged from the kitchen carrying a huge cutting board piled with the biggest steaks we had ever seen.  He deftly stoked the fire to ensure that it was hot and fiery.

Each steak was salted and peppered before being placed on a grill right over the crackling fire.  The mood in the room was convivial and cheery as all eyes watched and smelled the delicious meat cooking and sputtering over the flames.  The smoky aromas filled the dining room with the succulent fragrance of grilled steak.

After a few minutes...and I mean just a few minutes on each side...the steaks were whisked back onto the cutting board to rest.  Generous slices were cut and each table received a piping hot plank of just grilled Florentinian steak.

Scenes overlooking the Tuscan hillsides at Poggio Alloro 

Outside the farmhouse, the sun was setting and throwing the most spectacular oranges and tawny yellows across the darkening landscape of the Tuscan hills.  The fire glowed equally beautifully from within the warm room as we all laughed and enjoyed the bountiful goods from this family farm in Italy.  

The puppies appeared at the door looking positively delighted by the fact that the room was filled with adoring fans.  A few steak bones were presented to each little puppy.  After everyone had their turn cuddling the puppies and cooing over their adorable antics, they were gently shooed outside again each with a bone in his mouth.  They ran off with their little steak bones to gnaw on in peace overlooking the dramatic sunset taking place beyond them.  Little do these pups know the years of hard work this family endured in order to provide this spectacular home, bountiful gardens of olive trees and vegetables, livestock, and vineyards for winemaking. 

Patrick and I are immensely grateful to have enjoyed a taste of this family's offerings.  We were delighted to travel from the pages of Sarah's well written book to the reality of their farm in Tuscany.  I have a feeling we might meet up again someday.  I hope it is soon.  Perhaps a family gathering at our little farm in New Hampshire one day.   

I would prepare this Steak Diane for Sarah and her family if they visited us here in New England.  The mushrooms, roasted garlic, shallots, and mustard are all flavors I think they would like accompanying a grilled piece of steak.

From one farm in the U.S. to another in Italy...we say...

grazie per una meravigliosa visita!

Friday, April 3, 2015

A New Hampshire Easter - 2015

Our first Easter as New Hampshire-ites.  Being that it was the coldest, most frigid, most arctic winter on the books of New England, most people are surprised that we're still here...that we've lasted until spring.  They shake their heads in pity when we reveal that we moved here two days before Christmas in the thick of this winter's powerful punch.  Then the head wagging begins.  Sorrowful and pitiful head shaking is offered as we tell our tale of woe about trying to settle here when New England's winter tempests decided to wallop the state with blow after blow. After the head wagging slows, most everyone around here starts offering all sorts of help and advice - do you need more wood?  Are you keeping warm enough? Can we plow your road for you?  Do you know how to roof rake?

We've roof raked.  We've wood chopped.  We've snow shoveled galore.  We have no idea what the ground looks like underneath all of this beautiful white snow.  As much as we've thoroughly embraced, and shoveled, and plowed through our first winter, we're starting to get a little antsy to usher in the next glorious season this stunning area of the country has to offer - Spring.

Madeleine flew home from Texas, or I should say, flew to her new home... for Spring Break.  Spring Break up here doesn't coincide with Easter.  Since we've rarely spent an Easter holiday apart, I decided to have a "faux" Easter holiday during her Spring Break holiday that celebrates the changing of the seasons and the budding of new life everywhere...even if that new life is still under 2 feet of snow up here.

So we declared it Easter holiday in New Hampshire, March...two weeks early.

I woke up at the crack of dawn the day of her arrival into Boston.  A few days before, I put on my ankle length padded Patagonia down coat,thick cable-knit cream hat, and my new hefty Boggs boots so I could brave the icy temperatures of our big red barn.  I dug through boxes and boxes of stored belongings until I located our tucked away Easter decorations.

There was the shoulder-high green fuzzy bunny that has stood at every doorway of each house we've owned since the kids were little.  One bunny paw reaches out as if to wave "hello".  I used to hang a little basket filled with Easter candies on his outstretched bunny paw.  

I shuffled through the crunchy snow from the barn to the back of the farmhouse ferrying an armful of pretty Easter books I've collected, my box of hand blown and painted Easter eggs from our trip to Alsace last year, all carefully wrapped in layer after layer of bubble wrap, as well as my little stack of mis-matched frames with  photos of the kids, from one year to the next, in their various pastel Easter outfits. 

The house was transformed from winter plaids to springtime linens.  I bought bouquets of pink roses and filled candy dishes with pink, yellow, and blue candy coated chocolate Easter eggs. We drove our college weary daughter back home from the airport, lit several fires until they crackled and sputtered and warmed the house all over, and all settled in for a week filled with much relaxation, a bit of antiquing, quite a bit of skiing, and lots of baking and...of course, eating!

We also missed being together for Madeleine's birthday in February...another first.  So bunches of roses were in order and cake had to be made as the week morphed from a birthday celebration to an Easter springtime revelry.  As usual, I had all sorts of outings lined up but time flew by and only a fraction of my plans were checked off as our list of places to go around here gets longer and longer with the changing of the season.

Getting out and about is such a treat in New Hampshire.  The most interesting and delightful finds are in the most un-obvious places around here.  Heading north towards Kearsarge Mountain, but off the main path and down a windy old bumpy country road somewhere near the frozen Lake Sunapee and alongside Otter Pond, we stumbled into Prospect Hill Antiques.  Located in a rambling beautiful old  barn that seems to extend for half a mile this way and then again that way, we waded through farmhouse tables made of thick knotty wood, Welsh cabinets that stand solid through the years, and all manner of paraphernalia for sweeping and sorting the ever present wood burning fireplaces that warm up many farmhouses around here.

We were tickled and anxious to get Madeleine introduced to our new weekend home-away-from-home...Ragged Mountain ski resort.  We fitted her into the huge clunky ski boots, snapped her into those unwieldy skis, fastened a ski helmet on she flew down the first ski slope as if she has been skiing for months.

Unlike me, who is still awkwardly schlepping along on the slopes, I've now been out paced by my entire family.  I still keep a wary eye on the evil ski lift that dumped me down the slope as I flailed my ski poles wildly trying to gracefully exit the chair lift.  Madeleine, with her years of ballet training, I thought would have similar difficulties as me with keeping her skis straight in front of her instead of veering outwards...but she gracefully swooped down the hills with confidence and delight.

So several hours later, cold but happy, we extricated ourselves from the cluster of ski equipment, bundled up into the car and with bun warmers on full blast,  bumped our way down the mountain side along the  newly discovered gorgeous New Canada Road.  This hilly wooded road short cuts us down the mountain but at the same time  winds through some spectacular country scenery showcasing distant mountain views that go on and on and on...

With little surprise, we ended up at what is becoming our weekend hang out spot for good New England food and beer...The Flying Goose.  Strategically situated at the bottom of the mountain on the outskirts of New London, The Flying Goose is perched perfectly to catch tired skiers, offer them a roaring fireplace to warm up, and a bank of windows that capture the beautiful mountain views to enjoy while sipping on one of the hundreds of New Hampshire brews.

Back at home, relaxing and unwinding from the day, we heard a little tapping at the door.  I poked my head outside as Chester unleashed a series of shrill and painfully pitched barks more apt to alert us to a wild bear attack.  A sweet little bundled up face looked up at us.  She introduced herself as Pam and  said she just wanted to welcome us to our little village area.  In her mittened hands, she held a carefully wrapped  parcel of pound cake that she had just taken out of the oven.  It smelled divine against the frosty cold air that was quickly filling up with thick fat snowflakes.  We ushered her inside to get out of the chill and into  in the family room that was warm and toasty from the wood burning fireplace.

We all settled down again and welcomed Pam into our lives.  Pam and her husband Paul live down the road in another of the cluster of historic farmhouses in this small village.  They, too, had the dream of living in a rural village in New Hampshire.  So we sat back and listened to their tale of relocating to the wonderful life that this area of the country can offer.

With it being maple season in New Hampshire, Patrick just couldn't resist pulling together a batch of cookies to have on hand during Madeleine's week home...that involved maple syrup.  The maple syrup is flowing from the many maple trees in this state.  This event makes for another end of the winter time treat and the farms are filled with horse drawn sleighs pulling visitors deep into the woods to see and taste the maple syrup that makes New Hampshire known for all sorts of sweet maple flavored treats.  We had a fabulous time visiting our first maple farm about 40 minutes away at a family run place called Charmingfare Farm.  

As usual, we all end up spending most of our time in this big farmhouse kitchen around the hefty soapstone island.  I got to work on making a pretty Birthday/Easter cake for our "faux" Easter celebration.   I knew my menu was going to be predictable.  Everyone in my family often offers up the same menu suggestions at this time of the year...Easter ham, potatoes au gratin, and roasted brussel sprouts.  Just when I think I'm going to get something unpredictable and novel on the menu, the requests come in for the tried and true favorites.  No problem...I can do that...I'll figure out how to jazz up each traditional favorite just a little bit.

I decided to make a simple white cake flavored with vanilla that is thick but moist.  M. loves lemon curd so I slowly stirred a batch of creamy lemon curd over a double boiler until thick and velvety and put it in the refrigerator to cool down and firm up.  The nice thing about lemon curd is that it can be made ahead of time since it does take some patience to get it to come together.

For the cake frosting, without skipping a beat, I went to my trusted blogger friend, Heather from Sprinkle Bakes dessert blog.  She always makes amazing and gorgeous desserts and for this frosting, she had a little video to guide me through the process.  I chose her Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting.

I wanted a pretty sweet springtime cake, so I tinted the frosting to make it a pale shade of pink and made the drizzle of glaze over the top white.

In between baking cake layers and stirring together lemon juice and egg yolks, I rode along with Madeleine for a few interviews she lined up for internship opportunities for the summer.  We were both excited for one interview in particular with New Hampshire Magazine based in Manchester, which is only 25 minutes away from us.

New Hampshire Magazine was pretty much the single source that guided us to interesting sites, beautiful photography, and wonderful writing about this state.  When we were back in Texas, with maps spread open on the kitchen table, we were looking at Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts as possibilities for us to settle.  We knew very little about New Hampshire and our  fingers unknowlingly  glossed right over this perfectly situated state.

I googled a few websites on the various states that interested us.   I had the New Hampshire tourist office send me a copy of their visitors guide.  They sent The New Hampshire Magazine to us.  Today, the pages are dog-eared and the magazine is frayed from cover to cover as we have read the articles over and over.   Eventually and with growing certainly our curiosity about this state moved our fingers to land here...and the rest is history!

So Madeleine and I drove over to Manchester for her interview with staff from this wonderful magazine that helped us so much in our family search for a new home state.  I spied an antique store along the way so I popped in there to browse their wonderful selection.  I actually picked up a beautiful set of the green and white floral antique dishes that I used for our Easter table.  

I did feel rather guilty strolling carefree around a delightful antique store while my daughter fretted and stressed over her round of interviews.  However, I recall the many MANY interviews during my college years looking, or shall I say, begging for summer internships.  I had a very ill fitting black and white suit that I wore over and over again to dozens of interviews.  My summer internships were nothing as exciting and glamorous sounding as working for some of the exciting magazines she has lined up as hopefuls.

So we returned home to wait for news from yet another interview process.  I sliced up potatoes for a gratin and shredded a large block of gruyère cheese to sprinkle on top.  I whisked together a heavy thick batch of orange marmalade with spoons of robust mustard to spread generously on top of my ham.  I sprinkled a handful of cloves onto my cutting board and studded the ham all over with this wonderful spice.

We peeled and sliced  handfuls of brussel sprouts, rolled them with olive oil and sea salt, and spread them on a large baking tin to roast in the oven until caramelized and crisp on the edges.  I had some hazelnuts on hand, so I chopped some of those, toasted them for a few minutes and tossed them over the sprouts.

The aroma of the potatoes in the oven, bubbling away in a casserole of cream and thyme began to envelope the house along with the baking ham and roasting brussel sprouts.  I had my cake stacked and frosted with generous dollops of lemon custard in between each layer and was now ready to be adorned with  fresh flowers on  top.

And then the email came for my daughter...The New Hampshire magazine would be so pleased to have our daughter work there as an internship experience for the summer.  What wonderful news!  What relieving news!  As parents, it sometimes seems just as stressful to me as it is to my children to watch them put themselves out into the world and hope they aren't rejected.

Child #2 is also going through a round of interviews as he moves closer to locking in summer jobs.  It seems we are doing quite a bit of resumé writing, rehearsal interviewing, neck tie "tying", and interview waiting around here.

So we wrapped up our "faux" Easter weekend celebration just as the rest of the country is embarking on the national holiday this weekend.  It was fun to be in this New Hampshire farmhouse and celebrate another holiday as a family together but in yet a new location.  The snow is melting quickly each day, the river down below us getting louder and louder as the water melts and begins to rush faster and faster.  From Patrick's office window, he can see the water sparkle and dance on the river as springtime ushers in his beauty after a very long and hard New England winter.  

I'm looking forward to visiting all of the wonderful blogs out there around the world that I enjoy reading to see Easter celebrations happening in so many different countries.  Just moving from the south up here to the north, we've already added maple as a new ingredient  to springtime celebrations at this time of year.  This is what makes food blogging and travel writing so much fun...the sometimes subtle but delicious taste differences that happen due to the natural offerings of the land from one location to the next.

Happy Easter 2015...wherever you are and however you celebrate!