What A Difference A Month Makes!

Happy Summer! The season is officially here, and I am so happy! What a difference a month makes, especially in an area where there are four distinct seasons. It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

Remember the beautiful trails, the Audubon’s Bent-of-the-River, from last month’s blog? Well, a month later, look at it now! We have been hiking several more times over the last month, and it looks different and even more beautiful, each time! 

This is an overlook from the birdwatching tower, that we did not go in before. Look how alive the area looks now – so green and blooming! I took this photo on a late afternoon, no filter.
Hello, sweet bird!
So peaceful and green, the riverbank looks so different from a month ago. I wish you could hear all the birds singing!
Last weekend, my daughter and I were so excited to notice several ebony jewelwing damselflies! They are so pretty, that they look like something out of a fairy tale!

At home, I have also noticed more birds have returned, as well, including my beloved hummingbirds. We were worried when they showed up, but inexplicably disappeared suddenly (several of my friends noticed this, too). Fortunately, they seem to be back! This little guy had “breakfast” with us one morning. 

Just an FYI, the bottle is red, not the contents, and the food is changed frequently.
This little guy comes daily, and perches on my trellis. Sometimes I think he is watching us!
Hello, Love!
Everything’s coming up rosie! My flower beds are alive with color.

The season started out really rainy! We had so much rain at the beginning of the month, that water began to puddle in the front of the yard. Frogs moved in, thinking we had a new pond! In addition to green frogs, we also have peepers, toads, and tree frogs. The sound they make is like a little symphony! 

I’m looking forward to seeing fireflies dancing in the woods and yard. We should see them in a few weeks. Did you know the reason for their decline is because of the chemicals many people put on their lawns? This is a photo from late last June.

Fireflies use the soil, duff, and leaf litter to overwinter and lay their eggs, and their larvae eat snails, slugs and caterpillars. Putting chemicals on the lawn and using insecticides results in a decline in these sweet little insects. Too much outdoor lighting can also affect their numbers, so turn your porch lights off during firefly season!

I recently also got my vegetable garden planted. I was worried at first, since the weather has been warm during the day, cool at night. Putting vegetables into cold soil is a problem, since cold soil can bring on issues like blossom end rot in tomatoes later in the season. Remember to water early in the day, avoiding overhead watering, to keep down plant diseases that occur when water is left on leaves overnight.

Grow, little seedling, grow!
PEAS, PLEASE! Aren’t those little markers the cutest? They were made by a local artisan.

This looks to be a great season! Every day I am harvesting peas, which were planted in March as soon as the ground was thawed. I’ve got several types of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, snowpeas, arugula, carrots, squash, cucumbers, swiss chard, radishes, and watermelon planted. 

Garlic will be harvested in a few weeks, though I really do plant it more for the scapes than the actual garlic. MaryJane first introduced me to garlic scapes in her first book, so many years ago, and I have been hooked ever since! On the other side of the property, corn is coming up, and we’ve got blue potatoes to look forward to harvesting. Everything is planted from seed. Planting a garden from seed is not only economical, but you also know exactly how your food was planted (I do everything organically). I also feel such a great sense of pride when harvesting food for my family that I planted, beginning with seed. I think this is going to be a great season, much better than last year, when we had all the smoke coverage from the horrible Canadian wildfires!

We recently attended an outdoor college graduation party in picturesque Bethlehem, for a dear friend’s daughter, who is also one of my daughter’s friends.

Our girls met when they were little, as Daisy Girl Scouts, so long ago. The party was held on a working  farm. In addition to running a CSA, a farm store, and Pick-Your-Own, March Farm also rents out beautiful landscape areas for events.

It was a picture-perfect day, and the party was held under the shade of large, beautiful trees, including a weeping willow, and next to a large pond where guests could take paddle boats out into the water. A pizza truck provided a scrumptious lunch for everyone, and my friend, who threw the amazing party for her daughter,  baked dozens upon dozens of homemade cupcakes, (that looked like works of art and tasted like cups from Heaven) for dessert. My friend Erin always amazes me at all she does, and is the best baker I have ever met (her daughter is just as wonderful). I think when we are able to witness friends or family grow from a child to an adult, and see what great things they do, it is such a blessing! 

My daughter’s boss recently gave us a handful of rhubarb from her garden. I have to admit, despite being an Advanced Master Gardener, my interaction with rhubarb has been very little, but I have always loved anything made with it because I love its tartness, especially when paired with sweet. While the leaves are toxic, the rhubarb stalks can be green or red, depending on the maturity of the plant. I had strawberries on hand, but not enough of either to make a pie, and any recipes I found sounded too sticky or sweet, or full of dairy such as buttermilk, including quick breads (my daughter is allergic to cow’s milk).

Y’all know I love a good quick bread, so I made this, working off of my recipe last year that I created for my cherry bread. The result was delicious (and quickly disappeared)! My version is moist, not too sweet, and perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

Suburban Farmgirl Strawberry-Rhubarb Quick Bread

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp Himilayan pink salt

¾ cup organic sugar

¼ tsp cinnamon

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cut 4 stalks of rhubarb into pea-sized pieces, equal to one cup, and combine with one cup of fresh strawberries, cut into pea-sized pieces, tossed with 2 additional TBSP of flour. Set aside.

Whisk together 1 large egg, 1 tsp vanilla, ½ cup of oat milk, and ¼ cup of organic  coconut oil, or other oil of your choice. Fold into the dry ingredients, and mix together until all is moistened. Lastly, fold in the rhubarb and strawberries. 

Fold into a greased loaf pan. (I prefer glass, like Pyrex).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool quick bread completely before removing from the loaf pan and slicing. ENJOY!

I also know it’s officially summer when we can sneak off to the beach! It was a balmy, breezy day recently – just perfect!

Such a treat after all the cool, wet weather! The humidity was low, the sun was high, and the water was cool, but not too cold to dip into. I adored being at my “happy place”! I love the ocean sounds, and walking up and down the shoreline. Walking in the sand is great exercise!

At home, on the porch, my potted herbs and flowers greet us every morning. I love geraniums, because of their classic, “it’s summer” look (they remind me of my childhood) and ease of care, but I am also IN LOVE with the beautiful pot of Osteospermum flowers that my daughter bought for me. 

Also known as African daisies, these stunning flowers have only been available here in the states since the nineties. I love this specimen’s gorgeous, purple and orange buds! 

In the front herb garden, herbs such as thyme, sage, mint and oregano are doing very well this year. I have an abundance of herb plants, so each morning I am picking a bit and flash-drying them in my dehydrator, to use in winter when fresh herbs are done. Picking herbs early in the day ensures the best flavor, and dehydrating them is economical (have you seen the prices on spices and herbs these days? Yikes!) but also keeps fresh, great taste. Some cooks prefer to freeze fresh herbs but I find dehydration tastes just as good and preserves the wonderful aroma and color. Once dehydrated, which only takes a few hours, I crush the leaves and store in an airtight container or jar. I can also put my dehydrated herbs in pretty jars to give to friends at the holidays.

My “girls” are laying more eggs with the longer, sunnier days, as well. 

My favorite pet hen, “Baby” loves to snack on clover blossoms.

Inside, I also always look forward to a few summer crafts, as well as summer knitting and sewing projects. This summer, I am going to finish as many “WIP”s” (works-in-progress) as I can. I have several knitting projects I want to finish, and I’m sewing up a cute, quilted patchwork table runner in summer colors for my coffee table. Sewing clips are a game changer!

My friend, Linda, gave me a tin of these wonderful clips! My sewing is so much more enjoyable without struggling with pinning! They hold fabric together better than pins, and are so fast and easy to use.

Linda says these clips from wawak.com are the best ones, and are at a great price, to boot. I wish I had known about them a long time ago!

I’m ready to embrace the summer season, how about you?

Trooper says, “I’m ready, Mama!”

Tell me, what’s going on with you? What projects are you working on, and what’s growing in your garden? I love hearing from my fellow farmgirl friends and readers!  Leave me a comment and let me know you stopped by!

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Farmgirl Roadtrip: A Beautiful Place

Spring is in full force in New England. Everything is fresh and green, flowers are blooming, and migratory birds have returned. The winter, with its calm and quiet of snow and rest is gone, replaced by the happy sounds of movement and new life. 

One of my favorite towns in Connecticut is Southbury. With many restaurants, stores and various businesses, an antique district, and a population of around 20,000, Southbury is bustling. Nestled within the town is a special place, bursting with true natural beauty. 

While all four seasons are amazing, there’s many things to do in New England after winter’s thaw. Each Spring, I look forward to going to my hometown’s Earth Day celebration with my longtime dear friend and neighbor, Susan. This year, we stopped by the Audubon Society’s booth. There, we picked up some wonderful brochures, information on birds, and a colorful poster. One brochure we received was the trail map of the beautiful Audubon Center Bent of the River. Since it was a pretty, cool spring day, we decided to take a walk, and headed to the next town over – Southbury, to enjoy the scenery. 

Often referred to as a “hidden gem”, Bent of the River is breathtaking. When we arrived, we wondered how it was that we had both lived nearby with our families for so long (over 25 years) without knowing about this spectacular site! Part of the National Audubon Society, Bent of the River’s mission is to “conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats”. At 700 acres, the sanctuary’s acreage has increased over time. Different areas of the land boast various points of interest, including areas thriving with native and wild plants, a glacial rockslide, a seasonal waterfall, and several meadows – habitats that unfortunately are becoming more rare in Connecticut. Next to the parking lot is an area known as the Medici Wildflower Meadow.

Parts of the trail, such as this wooden bridge, looked like something out of a storybook.

Bent of the River feels like you are in another world, and time has stopped. It’s peaceful and quiet, while at the same time gifting visitors with the melodic sounds of singing birds. With 34 sanctuaries across the United States, the Audubon Society is only the fourth to inhabit the land in Connecticut at Bent of the River. 

Eleazer Mitchell purchased land that now includes the Audubon sanctuary land, from the last chief of the Pootatuck Native Americans in the 1750’s; Mitchell Family Farm is still an active part of Southbury today.

In 1934, Althea and Howard Clark purchased five hundred acres. Althea was very conservationist-minded, and upon her death in 1992 bequeathed the land, along with its house and barn, to the Audubon. In 1993, visitation at the time was private, by appointment only.

In 2001, the “red barn“ became what is now “The Center”. The Sanctuary, now always open to the public, 363 days a year until sunset – is closed to visitors on only two days in the late fall and winter. The house is now home to the live-on caretaker of the property, the Land and Facilities Manager. 

On our recent visit, the first birds we noticed were a beautiful pair of ducks swimming along the Pomperaug River, the sound of the flowing water adding to the peacefulness. 

Along our walk, we stopped many times to take in all of the various natural beauty around us, sustainably maintained. Senior Center Manager, Robin Ladouceur, says there are “550 acres of mixed forest, with over 153 species of birds”.  Through special habitat management, The Center tries to “diversify the species of trees and manage shrubby meadows to aid early successional birds such as the blue winged warbler, the prairie warbler, indigo bunting, and field sparrow, to support bird nesting.” They also strive to rejuvenate the natural understory, due to grazing deer that also call the area home. 

Can you spy the nest in this tree?

Creatures besides birds call the Bent of the River sanctuary home. Visitors may also see muskrat, beaver, and mink along the river. 

We spied this non-venomous beauty on the side of an old, large tree. Don’t worry, she is just showing curiousity, no aggression, and this photo was taken from a distance with a zoom.
These trees are full of praying mantis cocoons, a beneficial insect and signs of a healthy habitat.

There are many educational, scouting and volunteer opportunities to be found at The Center, as well. On the day we visited, Boy Scouts were camping, working on a badge. There are also various adult classes, and summer day camps for kids. Information is available at the Center or on the website.

We passed several other groups of hikers and families. One woman we met was sitting on a picnic bench at the barn, taking photos of one of the nearby birdfeeders. She marveled at how she had “never seen so many beautiful cardinals at one place”. 

It was a lovely time spent with my friend. After a few hours, we headed back to the car, refreshed and rejuvenated from our visit. There is nothing as good for the soul as time spent in nature. I can’t wait to go back and bring my family to see what other birds, wildlife and flora are thriving, especially at various times of the year. The Audubon Center Bent of the River is truly a beautiful place!

I hope you enjoyed this visit! Wishing you all a beautiful Spring season! Remember to let me know that you were here by leaving me a comment below!

  1. Ladybug loves lilacs says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing all the great photos. Looks like a great day getaway for a few hours.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi! Yes, it was so wonderful. I did not get to see all of it yet. I can’t wait to go back, and look at some of the other areas, as well, such as The Overlook, which gives a view of the lower Pomperaug Valley. Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. CJ Farmgirl says:

    Hi Nicole, Thank you for sharing a beautiful place, a”hidden gem”, through your camera’s focused eye on the National Audubon Society, “Bent of the River’s” sanctuary for bird’s, other wildlife, and their habitats.
    Your genuine photography artistic skill and decisiveness has served us as a tool for depicting the harmony between thought and action, as well as providing a path for cultivating it!
    This “Hidden Gem” is a positive means to introduce the principles of nature’s existence that is capable of enhancing every part of our lives. Through the combined focus of your camera, your life’s vision and nature’s sanctuary’s, the “Farmgirl Roadtrip: A Beautiful Place” gives birth to something magical and heartfelt. Gratefully,

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi CJ, thank you so much for this beautiful comment! I am so honored that you liked the post so much. Nature is so beautiful; I am thankful there are people such as the Audubon Society, and places such as Bent of the River. Thank you again for commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Margaret King says:

    Thank you for sharing your time at the Audubon Bent at the River. Your photos refreshed my soul for Moher Nature’s beauty.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Margaret,
      Thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed this post! I was so very pleasantly surprised how beautiful and quiet it was (except for the natural sounds of the birds, wind and water). I am so happy to share my visit with you. Thank you for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. LOVER of nature says:

    Wonderful post! I have forwarded onto a couple of CO friends that I bet have not visited Bent of the River yet. I know they love hiking. Am hoping this will motivate them to “go see” your Audubon “gem”. Thank you!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi there! Thank you so much! I hope that your friends do visit Bent of the River and enjoy it. It is really magical. Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Lisa Cesare says:

    Hi Nicole – Great photos!!! We should meet for a hike here – the 7 mile loop includes the Mitchell Farm area – it is truly a peaceful place

  6. Don Ramsey says:

    Wonderful article about a “hidden gem”! We are so fortunate to have that in our neck of the woods! Your photos are incredible like your descriptive writing!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Don, thank you so much! That is a very nice compliment coming from you since your photos are always amazing! Always wonderful to hear from you, my dear friend. ~Nicole

  7. Marlene Rene Cosner says:

    Hello! What a nice little trip you took us through with the pictures and story line. Really felt like I was there….

  8. Karen Martell says:

    Hi Nicole!
    What a very special place you found! Thank you for sharing your walk with your readers! It felt almost like I was there with you! Areas like these are rare and so very special! 🙂

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Karen, thank you! Every corner we rounded seemed to show us something more spectacular than the area before, and I have not yet seen all of the special points of interest. I can not wait to go back! Thank your for reading and commenting, and I am glad you enjoyed today’s visit! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Mary Murray says:

    You’re so right…nature is good for the soul – it makes me slow down and helps clear the cobwebs that are sometimes in my mind! Is that an old dugout home with the red door? It looks like a great getaway…and going back each season would be amazing! Thanks for letting us know about it!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary, I am not sure what that door leads to, but is part of the original house. I have been exploring the trails more, and it is all so breathtaking! It has quickly become one of my most favorite-ever places! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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What a Year, What a Month, What a Week!

Hello, Suburban Farmgirl Friends! It’s officially “spring” now, and as the seasons change, I am reflecting on what a year it’s been…what a month it’s been…and what a WEEK it’s been! 

Since my last post just a month ago, so much has happened. In my neck of the woods, we have experienced two seasons’ weather, celebrated my birthday and Easter, and in just one week, we had sleet, snow, sun and 75 degrees, two Earthquakes and the Eclipse! How fast time flies, and things can change!

First off, congratulations to the winner of my drawing from last month’s blog post, Debbie. I hope you enjoy all the goodies heading your way!

As I write this, today marks one year to the day since our sweet chihuahua passed away at 15 years old (maybe older, we were never quite sure, as he was a rescue).

At only five pounds, he made up for his small stature with tons of personality. We have had pets “cross the rainbow bridge” before, but losing Pip was especially hard. Maybe it was because he was so small and delicate, or maybe because he was part of my daughter’s childhood. He was so deeply loved! His paws definitely left prints on our hearts, and we still feel his absence. I read recently that many companies are now adopting “pet bereavement”  policies for their employees, with a recent study finding that most of us who own pets consider them family. I think that’s wonderful! Our pets definitely are family!

On a happier note, the pup we adopted from our favorite rescue in fall of 2022 settled in well and stepped up to being the “baby” of the family! My daughter bought him an Easter basket this year from a local vet. Rescues really appreciate love and being spoiled! He was so happy, he “sang”!

It is said that if you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a moment and it will change. That certainly has rung true recently. It seems like we have had a year of continuous rain. We’ve had so many cold, wet, rainy and overcast days in Connecticut the last year, that I was feeling a bit salty – wondering why everyone was getting so excited over an Eclipse, when it seems like it’s already always so dark!

Then, we started feeling warm days and sunnier weather with blooms starting to show. One morning last week, we woke up to beautiful, perfect spring weather. 

Then, we had sleet and snow. 

A day or so later, it was up to 75 degrees! It felt like summer! My little pup and I were so happy to hit our favorite walking trails. He looked like the King of the World as we took a break from our exercise. 

By Friday, it was back to more seasonal weather, still pretty nice but not quite so warm. That morning, my daughter was home and in the back room enjoying a late morning cup of coffee. I was just finishing putting up the Easter decor. I keep my vintage glass bunnies in a curio cabinet, since they’re so delicate. Just as I was placing them in the cabinet, I heard what sounded like a very large dump truck go by the house, but then the sound did not pass, feeling like it was coming closer, like a rolling wave. 

Suddenly, the shelves of the curio rattled, the light fixture swung side to side, and the entire house shook with the sound of rattling glass! It took a minute for the shaking to subside, and it scared us all as we tried to register what had just happened. Thankfully, nothing was broken. 

We learned later that we experienced a 4.8 earthquake, something of that magnitude we don’t normally feel here in New England, felt from New Jersey and up. It was interesting that my chickens refused to come out of the coop that morning; I assumed they had heard a hawk or other predator. As soon as the quake subsided, they marched out of the coop, business as usual. A second quake of magnitude 4.0 (with a different epicenter, so it was not considered an aftershock) occurred at 6 PM, but none of us felt that one. Still, it was some excitement, though my West Coast friends were amused at how shaken we were, (wink wink).

That Monday, the big, historical Eclipse was to occur.

It was a bright sunny day when the eclipse was to occur. I was ready – solar and lunar themed jewelry and jacket, and eclipse glasses!

Our family was all home together, so we made an event out of the day! My daughter bought us all Eclipse glasses, I made us a playlist of eclipse-themed music, and my husband fired up the backyard firepit, the first time this year. 

Our dogs seemed normal except for our little one who was more clingy than usual. Still, we left them inside for the day, just to be safe.

Outside, we roasted Smørrebrød, a tradition from Denmark – hot dogs wrapped in bread dough, roasted over a fire, and for dessert, old fashioned s’mores! We had not done that in years!

As the eclipse began, the birds stopped chirping, and the sunlight dimmed.

The light began to dim as the eclipse approached.

All was quiet except for one lone wild turkey strolling through the woods. We only went inside to check on our dogs, and to watch the live coverage of the eclipse in Texas and Maine. 

A neighbor up the street gave my daughter a special filter for taking pics of the eclipse using a phone, as he had extras. We had so much fun outside, watching the eclipse change, and took some really amazing photos. 

We were in the path of 91 percent totality (even though in our photos it looks dark), so the afternoon light only got “dusky”, as opposed to areas of total darkness. I can’t remember when we last enjoyed such a relaxing day outside by the fire, and it was a memorable day at our house.

Earthquakes, an eclipse…Norman was “bored” by it all and slept through everything, saying “Silly humans, I don’t know what all the fuss is about!” Yawn…

In all, the eclipse was wonderful to witness. There is so much currently dividing so many, and it was nice to see us all excited, together. It was also nice to see everyone “look up”  from their phones for a change! 

Life’s definitely been exciting, as of late. I’m also looking forward to warmer temperatures.

Signs of spring…blooms abound outside
Outdoor creatures are waking up from winter rest, like this large toad we see in the yard that we affectionately named “Bubba”.
While inside, my daughter’s pet snakes have come out of bromation. Tiramisu says “Hello”!
Peekaboo Peas! Seeds started in March after the snow thawed are peeking out of the ground.
Grow little, seedlings, grow!

I’m also looking forward to all the good things that come with the warmer season’s arrival in New England – things such as gardening, farm stands, farmers markets and fairs. Inside, my seeds are started, ready for another season of fresh vegetables, straight from the garden. Outside, everyday something more pops alive with blooms, and we see more and more green – promises of another spring and summer! What a year it’s been!

Thanks for popping by the blog today! Hope you are enjoying your spring. Leave me a comment and let me know how things are going in your neck of the woods!

  1. Alice says:

    Little bit of everything, that’s for sure!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ali, this year certainly has had it all! That’s the roller coaster of life, I suppose. But what a ride! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Lisa C says:

    Hi Nicole – next up Ramp season

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Lisa, right? I can’t wait! I see the tops popping up – looks like we may have bumper crops this year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Deb Fischer says:

    I enjoy your blog so much today. Sharing your family’s lives through all that had happened in the past month or so. Trooper is such a hoot and I just love all the photos you send of him. I know how you still miss Pip, all my babies left with a piece of my heart and then we get another baby who gives it back. But, I am so blessed to have had all those wonderful babies in our lives, each one special. So thank you for sharing Nicole.
    Have a fabulous week and I hope the sun is there to stay🐾💙🦋💛🐾

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb,thank you, I am so glad you enjoy the posts! We all miss little Pip so much, but are so blessed that have Little Trooper! He has brought us so much joy, with our two “big” pups, as well. I wouldn’t trade one second with any of my pups – they have all made us so happy through the years. The weather could do just about anything in April, but so far, it looks to be a beautiful spring! I hope you are having one, too! Congratulations on the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Valerie Toth says:

    What an enjoyable blog! Such great pictures! So much growth, loss and love !
    resilience with grace and style

  5. Mary Murray says:

    What a busy month…you made so many terrific family memories! The eclipse was amazing…we were lucky to be in the path of totality, and it was definitely something to remember. I know it’s so hard to lose a pet…they’re truly a part of the family, and you’re absolutely right when you say they leave paw prints on our hearts.

    I’m looking forward to reading what you’re doing next…all the good things that come with warm weather (plus vintage camper fun!)

    Mary
    Rural Farmgirl

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary! Thank you. I am so glad you enjoyed the post! I am so happy to see you aboard with all of us! I can’t wait to see what YOU are doing next, as well! Big Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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Floral Fever (and a Giveaway!)

Spring has sprung for many of you, dear readers. However, in my part of the country, winter hasn’t quite let go just yet. Even if Mother Nature graces us with some early spring-like days, we usually get a cold snap around St. Patty’s Day, and nothing really starts blooming until April. I’m finding myself with a case of floral fever! 

I love flowers and floral patterns! Every room of my house has some nod to flowers and plants – be it a picture, a textile, or a plant. I think living in a cold climate makes me an even bigger fan of florals. I have lived most of my life in Connecticut, yet in my memories I can still clearly see the wildflowers in the Texas hill country from when I was small. A field of Texas wildflowers is a sight I will always miss. 

Toddler me, wildflower picking in Texas, 1970 something.
Fields of flowers, Texas hillcountry, 1970’s

Living in New England, I appreciate blooming trees and plants now even more, and especially love flowers. I look forward to my favorite flowers blooming each spring, signaling the end of winter’s rest. 

Early spring blooms will be here soon…

While I love all flowers, my favorite flowers are peonies. I just love their big, fluffy blooms that remind me of an old-fashioned petticoat.

Blooming in cooler climates, peonies have a short bloom time, and can be delicate, losing their petals in a heavy rain. Even so, the scent of a peony is Heavenly! 

One event that we look forward to each year is the Connecticut Flower and Garden show. It’s usually at the end of February, and is a sign that the end of winter is near. There are vendors of all sorts, plants, and beautiful displays. Held at the Connecticut Convention Center, it is so exciting to go up the large stairway and into the doors where it is a gardener’s proverbial candy store! This year did not disappoint.

I really loved seeing “Disney Princess” dresses created from flowers and plants.

Could that be the World’s Largest Watering Can?

We had a wonderful time at the show this year, but my most favorite booth this year was that of a local artist from Westport, Connecticut, Kerstin Rao. Her booth was so bright and happy! My daughter bought me a beautiful tote bag, featuring a stunning bouquet of peonies, as an early birthday present.

The beautiful birthday bag my daughter bought me is the perfect knitting project bag! Using my pretty floral bag makes me smile with the vivid colors and fluffy blooms so perfectly captured.

Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

Sketching all the time as a child, Kerstin Rao was known in school for her drawings. Originally from Minnesota, Kerstin moved to Kentucky when she was in the third grade, when her college-professor parents moved to the state for positions. An art major in college, when Kerstin moved to New York in the 1980’s, she realized at the time the New York City art trend was grunge and dark – the complete opposite of Kerstin, whose art was more delicate and cheerful. (Kerstin herself is a sunny breath of fresh air). Knowing she had to make a living, a sculptor friend suggested that Kerstin try teaching. She loved it from day one, and teaching became her calling. 

Using art as a way to engage and explain to her students, Kerstin was an educator for 34 years, teaching in inner-city schools, and eventually ending up in Westport, Connecticut in 1999. 

Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao, Vivid Cottage

It was during the lockdown of March 2020 that Kerstin found her second calling, creating the art that now graces her beautiful totes, tea towels and note cards.

A beautiful tea towel featuring Kerstin’s art, photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

When the Westport Farmers’ Market carefully reopened, the first thing Kerstin bought was  a beautiful fresh flower bouquet from Kristin Burrello’s Muddy Feet Flower Farm. (Her bouquets and fresh flowers are amazing)!

Looking at that first purchased bouquet in the breezeway of her home, Kerstin pulled out her sketchpad. Kerstin began sketching bouquets she purchased each week from Kristin, loving the shapes and colors. She would lose herself in drawing, leaving behind the tension and worry of the Pandemic. Kerstin says she feels she “vanished into a world of natural beauty.”

Kristin Burrello, Muddy Feet Farm, and Kerstin Rao, Vivid Cottage at the Westport Farmers Market. Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

After posting her sketches on Facebook, Kerstin received lots of encouragement and requests for items like greeting cards, and the rest is history! Kristin’s flowers inspired her, and she helped Kerstin as a sounding board, as Kerstin left teaching in her late 50’s to become a woman business owner of Vivid Cottage. Kerstin says “bouquets are a tiny world”, and “every bouquet is a fresh opportunity for adventure as an artist.”

To me, flowers are also medicine for the soul. I’m looking forward to spring, summer and fall blooms. 

Until then, I will enjoy my bag, my flowery dresses, and other florals. And to help YOU with floral fever, I put together a little floral-themed giveaway: flowery note cards, a cute little hanging sign, flower seed packets, floral emery boards, and beautiful floral seals. One reader this month will be randomly chosen from the comments, so don’t forget to let me know that you stopped by!

  1. Denise Thompson says:

    This sure makes me ready for Spring! I love flowers, all kinds. They are such a wonderful refreshing way to decorate our homes. Just a small bouquet brings joy to those who see them. Thanks for the look into your fun time at the flower show Nicole and for the chance to win these beautiful items.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, thank you, Denise, I am so glad you liked this post. I am happy to report that we have had lovely, spring-like weather here the last few days, but I know not to get too “used to” it just yet. But, waiting for spring flowers gives us something good to look forward to! Good luck in the drawing, and thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Lara Johnson says:

    I missed the Flower and Garden Show this year, but I’m anxiously awaiting the first day of Spring, and the opening of my favorite nurseries. I love seeing all the new plants and blooms each year.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Lara, I hear you! We will be there soon! Enjoy your spring season, and thanks for dropping by the blog! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Donna Rothe says:

    Hi Nicole, originally I am from the north..born in WI, then lived in MN, IL, England and now in FL. I am definitely a flower gal but miss my Spring flowers such as daffodils and tulips as they don’t grow down here. So off I went to Trader Joe’s last week and bought a beautiful bouquet of daffodils which are sitting on my kitchen table.

    My favorite garden was when my husband and I owned a B&B in a village in WI. I created a English Country Garden with gazebo. I so enjoyed providing my guests a place to sit and relax and the garden provided me a piece of land to work in.

    It was a pleasure reading your column and love your pictures.
    Take care,
    Donna

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Donna, Trader Joe’s is wonderful, isn’t it? I love so much there. Your WI garden sounds like it was dreamy! However, Florida has so many wonderful qualities too! Enjoy spring, and good luck in the drawing. Thank you so much for sharing with us today! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Jill Walton says:

    What a wonderful story, and what beautiful artwork. Thank you for sharing this with us. I enjoyed perusing Kerstin’s website and her lovely floral artwork.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jill, isn’t Kerstin’s artwork just so beautiful? Surrounded by her work inside her booth at the Flower Show was a burst of happiness! I appreciate how “real” her artwork is – the details of the flowers are just breathtaking. Thanks for reading and commenting; good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Ruth Strutz says:

    I so related to your post. I looked at the picture of the younger you and saw myself at that age. Flowers have always been my deep seated joy. Thank you for bringing me back to moments I’d almost forgotten.

  6. Kim Bedtelyon says:

    Love those watercolor paintings and all of the beautiful flowers as well as your article. I am so looking forward to spring’s arrival. Have a wonderful day!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kim, isn’t her art so beautiful? Her textiles are excellent quality, as well. Using my tote bag makes my heart happy. Enjoy the spring season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Margaret King says:

    Spring is beginning to show her flowers here in Spokane, Washington. My little flower garden has crocus beginning to bloom. They make my heart feel so happy.
    My husband and I are planting seeds for our garden inside by the front room window. I can’t wait for the time to plant them outside.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Margaret, I feel the same about the crocus! I can’t wait to put my seeds outside this year, either. I have started some seeds and will do a few more this coming week. Spring can’t arrive soon enough! Good luck in the drawing, and thanks for “stopping by”! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Alice says:

    Beautiful post, Nicole! Lovely photos and wonderful story. I just checked out Kerstin’s Vivid Cottage Instagram and it’s a treat for the eyes!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hello, my dear friend! We need to catch up soon. You would have loved seeing Kerstin’s booth! Her art is truly amazing. Hope all is well! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Marge+Turner says:

    Beautiful flowers I love your posts, they cheer me up! I am so ready for planting! The Amish greenhouses in my neighborhood are really gearing up and it makes me want to shop for plants-we might be selling our little farm this summer but I still plan to have lots of flowers.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge! It is always so wonderful to hear from you. I bet the Amish greenhouses are absolutely beautiful, stock full of plants. I can’t wait to have flowers in pots on my porch, too. I am sorry to hear you might sell your farm! Big farmgirl hugs to you, Nicole

  10. Ginger Louden says:

    Our summers seem short in ND, but as soon as the middle of May comes around, I start thinking of flowers. I don’t plant much before the end of May as I’ve lost plants to late frosts. We have moved to a place with very few flowers and I hope to change that! Last summer I had container flowers around the house. I’m hoping to get a root or cutting of a perennial plant from some neighbors so I’ll have a ‘neighborhood’ flowerbed. Flowers just bring happiness!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ginger, we are very much like you, too. Gardens typically go in around Memorial Day, and our summers seem so short. I try to savor every pretty day! By the time fall arrives, I am done with hot weather and look forward to warm fall days with cooler evenings. What fun to start from “scratch” with your yard! Happy planting – and good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Debbie Fischer says:

    Happy Spring! Oh how I love Peonies too Nicole, they are beautiful. After moving to Oregon in 2020 I fell in love as it seems there are always flowers blooming. It is because of our rainy season that we have all the beautiful flowers and green grass. Rhododendrons are absolutely amazing as we have quite a few on our property. Spring is right around the corner and I am ready!
    Thank you for your giveaway and have an awesome Spring.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Debbie, your spring season sounds dreamy! I am hoping to get rhododendrons flowers this year – I ran out of deer repellent and before I got more they became deer snacks. Hopefully they left me a few blooms! Oregon always sounds so beautiful. I hope to see that part of the country someday. Thank you for “dropping by”! It’s always so good to hear from you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Ellen Susan Ottoson says:

    Thank your for the uplifting and colorful posts. I noticed two days ago that our Crocuses of white & purple have emerged to greet me. My cats look out of our large front window and enjoy seeing the world change and the Robins returning to our drizzly Ohio weather. The Tiger Lillies are getting ready to send up their flower stalks while their leafy greenery is uplifting to finally see in my sleeping garden! Spring is finally here.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Ellen, what a beautiful comment! I can just picture your kitties watching all things spring appear! Enjoy the season, and thank you for dropping by the blog and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs,

  13. Kaitlin says:

    This has me longing for spring and the strong scents of lilacs and lilies
    Today it is absolutely gorgeous out and I can’t wait to start gardening

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kaitlin, I hear ya! I can’t wait to get outside on a warm day and garden, either! And don’t lilacs smell amazing? My miniature English version is nice – they are mildew resistant and have such a nice strong scent. However, they bloom later than the larger variety. Lilac is one of my favorite blooms. Happy spring, and good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Kerstin Rao says:

    Oh, my goodness, Nicole! I am so, so honored to be featured in your delightful blog. (I adored the photo of you as a child among the flowers in Texas – we are practically twins from that era!) I’ve been so touched by talking with you, and receiving all your kindness and encouragement. The comments here are super lovely, too! I’m delighted you’ve invited me into the Farmgirl Bloggers world of Mary Janes Farm! With much gratitude, Kerstin

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Kerstin, thank you for allowing me to share your wonderful world with the readers here! You are an amazing artist, and such a beautiful person inside and out. I am so glad we met and look forward to staying in touch! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Carol says:

    I just planted a small plot of wildflowers over my beloved dog’s grave. He was always sniffing through my flower beds so now he has a place of his own to rest in peace.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Carol. My heart goes out to you. There is nothing more painful than losing a beloved pup. We lost our littlest furbaby last May. I still cry about him, and thought about him when we got a very warm, sunny day this week. He LOVED warm days. His little brother misses him, too. I am sooo sorry you lost your furbaby, and may those flowers bloom bright and bring you happy memories of your sweet pup. BIG FARMGIRL HUGS TO YOU, Nicole

  16. Melissa says:

    I loved your article. I am in Washington State and it takes awhile for spring to come also. I am really looking forward to the peonies! Thank you so much for connecting with us and sharing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Melissa, thank you so much! I have friends in your area and have heard how beautiful Washington State is. Lucky you – you get to experience peonies, as well! Thank you for joining in to the blog today! Have a happy spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Rebecca Thornton says:

    I hope Spring finds you soon.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, thank you! Little signs are showing more and more each day. Fingers crossed we get no more winter weather like heavy snow. It has been known to happen. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  18. Sister Trish says:

    Oh my…..love your creativity. I am a flower power guru also, my passion are Iris, hens n Chickens & big beautiful sunflowers. Just installed our greenhouse last yr to help birth those lil baby seeds. Love being a farm sister

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Trish! Thank you! I love your choices of favorite plants and flowers…especially hens and chicks. They make me think of my grandma. She could grow roses like nobody’s business, but she also would arrange hens and chicks in pots and give them away. I grew some amazing giant sunflowers last year, and will do more this year. Hopefully, we have a better summer than last season. Good luck with your baby seeds! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  19. Marlene Cosner says:

    Thank You for brightening my day with your words and pictures. I went out in my yard today…and my daffodils and forsythia are the first to bloom…I now have a little bouquet by my kitchen sink…can’t wait for what’s next! Thanks for getting me to Think Spring!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marlene, our forsythia are just at the cusp of blooming. We had a few days in the high sixties, but today is colder and this weekend will be colder still. Now they say it will be the end of April before we get any more 70 degree temperatures! I love that you have daffodils by the kitchen sink. Mine look like they will bloom over the weekend – almost there! Thanks for sharing today! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  20. Jeretta Bliss says:

    Thank you so much for sharing his Beautiful flowers. I love flowers, But our ground is so
    hard, and not good. I have to just have a few flowers in the house. I live in Az. It is still cold here. I will be glad when Spring is here. Thank you once again for sharing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jeretta! I have been to Arizona and loved it. The cacti everywhere where beautiful, but I understand how you would just be able to have flowers in the house. Each region has its own beauty, don’t you think? Thank you stopping by and commenting; I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  21. Glenda York says:

    What a lovely time spent perusing your blog. Full of flowers and color and creativity. Made me feel good the whole time I was here. That’s a great accomplishment in today’s world. Thanks!

  22. Sandra Johnson says:

    I enjoy reading about your very busy and creative lifestyle! I love cottage gardens and the anticipation of spring in the cold and snowy Midwest (though Winter has been very dry and mild this year). Thank you for sharing the beautiful blooms!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandra, thank you so much! Our winter has actually been pretty mild, too, all things considering. We have had lots of sun lately, finally, which is nice. It is colder this week, but it’s just the first day of Spring. Thanks for reading and commenting; good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  23. mary says:

    Hi there!

    I would love to be on your mailing list! I really enjoy your site!
    Mary Yuter, RN
    http://www.hearttosoulcw.com

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Surviving A New England Suburban Winter

Greetings, Farmgirl friends! I hope this blog post finds you all doing well! In my part of the country, the first months of the year are the most difficult part of the winter season. It’s dark, it’s cold, and this year, it’s been R-A-I-N-Y and S-N-O-W-Y! It also seems like everyone we know has had a cold or cough at some point, and the days are long. If anyone knows how to get through endless dreary winter days, it’s all of us in New England!

It was in the negative digits the day this photo was taken. The sun on the snow was so beautiful.

While we haven’t gotten endless days of snow (just a bunch at once) or the horrible, below-zero temps we had a year ago at this time, the entire year has been so wet and this past month it has been so dark out much of the day!

With being inside so much, and with so many viruses and respiratory infections that plague this time of year, it’s important to do as much as we can to stay healthy. Eating superfoods is important. One of my favorite superfoods are organic blueberries, chock full of antioxidants. We throw them on cereal and oatmeal, eat them as a snack, throw them in green salads (delicious with a balsamic vinaigrette), and bake them into quick breads and muffins. I eat them all year round, but I especially love it when summer comes and the blueberry bushes I planted in the front of my house many moons ago grace us with a bounty of berries! Until then, I have to buy them at the grocery store.

Since groceries these days are so expensive, (especially fresh produce), I don’t want to waste anything! For berries, I keep them fresher longer by using this trick when storing them. I wash them, letting them drain in a colander. I then transfer them to a glass bowl with a tight-fitting plastic lid (I love the modern Pyrex for this). Before I close the lid, I take a quarter or half sheet of paper towel, and place it on top. I then seal the berries, but turn them upside down in the refrigerator before storing. The paper towel absorbs excess moisture, keeping the berries from molding or going bad too quickly. I replace the towel every other day or so, when it becomes damp.

Staying hydrated this time of year is also so important, but many of us forget to drink much in winter because we don’t always feel as thirsty as in warmer months. Indoor air is dry and warm. Still, I get tired of water, even with lemon, and while they don’t have sugar, I try to limit seltzers because too much carbonation isn’t good for us, either.

Decaffeinated and herbal teas are a good choice. One of my favorite thirst-quenchers is iced tea! Teas, especially black and green, are a great source of antioxidents. Lately, I’ve also been enjoying herbal Hibiscus tea. Hibiscus tea can be enjoyed hot, but it is especially refreshing served cold! Hibiscus tea hosts a tremendous amount of antioxidants, as well as is reported to host other benefits.  Some studies show it may also lower blood pressure (so I drink it sparingly, and it should not be consumed by those on blood pressure medicine). It’s also thought that it may possibly help improve blood fat levels, may improve liver health, help prevent cancer, decrease the growth of bacteria that cause various infections such as UTI’s, and ward off bronchial infections and stomach infections. I love it because it has such a delicious zing, without caffeine. To make any of my iced teas, I pour boiling water over two tea bags in a pitcher, allowing them to steep until the color is nice and deep, adding cold water to top off before storing in the fridge. In addition to decaf black tea and hibiscus tea, I also enjoy making pomegranate iced tea, and other similar herbal flavors such as blueberry (just make sure that the tea is organic, using only natural and not artificial ingredients). 

On freezing cold days off, we often  love to hurkle-durkle in winter! The term hurkle-durkle (my new favorite word) refers to lounging in bed long after it is really time to get up, a 200-year-old Scottish phrase. Winter is the only time here that we really watch much television. On days off, we will turn off the news, catch up on our reading (or my knitting), perhaps while streaming an episode or two of a good show. We hurkle-durkle while we drink our morning coffee!  Two of my favorite series that we have recently binge-watched are Masterpiece Theater’s Poldark series, running from 2015 to 2019 (beyond fabulous),and Only Murders in the Building, currently streaming on Hulu and starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. I’ve really enjoyed this series; it’s something “different”,  and the “surprise” guests that show up in season 3 also make it a fun watch. Although, I have never been one to lounge around too long, so after a second cup of joe or so, I have GOT to get up! It’s hard to get going on a cold, wet day when you have warm, snuggling pets with you!

My littlest dog is a “Hurkle Durkle Master”!

Eating out has gotten quite pricey, and many restaurants have unfortunately closed in our area. Also, it gets dark here early in the winter, and then temperatures drop. I’d rather stay home and be cozy! A dear friend and I have been making dinners for each other, instead of going out. We take turns going to one another’s home in the early evening. We dine, catch up, and end the evening by 8:30 or so. Recently, she made me the most delicious Italian dinner, served on her beautiful antique china.

When it was my turn, I made a complete Danish dinner of meatballs in curry sauce, and for dessert, aebleskiver, served with homemade strawberry jam from strawberries picked fresh last summer. Simple, inexpensive meals are not complicated to make, and having dinner made for you, while spending time with a dear friend is such a winter pick-me-up. 

During the winter, my family also tries to strive for hygge, the Danish term that means coziness, comfort…happiness. Sharing a platter of aebleskiver together, the wood burning stove burning warm with our dogs by our sides, is a treat on a cold day. While there are many variations for aebleskiver, my favorite recipe is a classic, very old Danish recipe that uses just a few simple pantry ingredients always on hand.

I made this plate of aebleskiver to munch while our family caught the coronation of the new King of Denmark this winter.

Classic Danish Aebleskiver

  •  1 cup flour,  
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp salt
  •  2 eggs, separated
  •  1 cup milk (I use oat milk due to a family member’s allergy).

Whip egg whites until frothy with peaks. Sift dry ingredients together. Add the milk and egg yolks to the dry ingredients, mix until smooth. Fold in the egg whites.  Add oil to each well of an æbleskiver pan. Add dough halfway to each well. Flip, using a fork or skewer when they start to bubble. Dust with powder sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it).

*I love my well-seasoned, cast iron aebleskiver pan; nowadays aebleskiver pans are widely available at many stores and online, at a variety of prices. You can now even find them on Amazon. *

We have jumped at being outside a bit on days where we’ve had dry weather and sunshine, taking walks. Getting outside, anytime of the year, in the sunshine and fresh air is so important for good health, body and soul (something farmgirls all know very well). We even recently had an afternoon here that reached 53 degrees! 

One “warm” afternoon, we were even able to walk on the beach. The water was so still, there were no waves at all. Though in the 40’s, the wind was still cold, reminding us that winter still has a hold. Yet, being by the sea was so good for the soul!

This sea gull decided to walk along with us a bit.

However, by mid-week, we had the largest blizzard seen in the area in several years! There will be no “porch sitting” for a while!

We had to keep shoveling snow so our little dog could go out. Our big dogs are not as thrilled by the snow, and there will be no barbeque on the grill for a bit!
Scarlett says, “Oh great. THIS cold, wet stuff again. I am going INSIDE!”
My girls and Roo enjoyed a hot treat for breakfast, then retreated to their cozy coop for the rest of the day.

Schools and businesses are closed. When that happens, however, everything is back to “normal” by the very next day. Winter teaches us to “go with the flow”, to handle change, and to be prepared.

My Viking husband, sans gloves and hat, starts the morning shoveling a path for our beloved pups.
Even though it is winter, spraying with deer repellent occasionally will deter the deer and other critters from munching buds so there are flowers in the spring.

While shoveling snow is a workout, winter gives us a chance to slow down a bit before the busy seasons, spring through fall, arrive again. Before the snow hit, there were little signs that winter would eventually end…the rhododendrons have little buds at the tips, snowdrops have bloomed beneath the snow and ice…little signs of brighter days ahead!

I hope your days are bright and your winter is going well! Remember to leave me a comment so I know you dropped by!

  1. Mary-Windy Meadows Farm says:

    I have to say I’m completely jealous! I love the coziness of winter- crackling fires, hot cocoa, snow ice cream…but with temperatures way above normal here (60’s!) I’m missing a good old-fashioned winter. It looks like you’re having a great time – and I love the ideas of hurkle-durkle and dinners shared with friends. I’m spending my not-so-winter, winter deep-cleaning and organizing, sigh…please send some snow to the Midwest!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary, you got it! I will send some snow if you send us some sun, lol! I do like it cozy and cold at Christmas, and really don’t mind the cold if it is not too cold and we can still get out a bit. When I open the refrigerator and feel like it is warm inside, I know I am done with winter, lol! Until then, it is cozy all the way! Thanks for “stopping by”! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Sheila LaPoint says:

    Hi Nicole I too am in New England (Vermont) and I agree it has been a dark winter, not as much sun as it has been in the past. This February I have seen more sun come out, it is so nice to see, it gives us hope for the spring days soon to come. Our cat and dog did get confused when we got rain and it melted the snow and was warmer out only for them to wake up the next day and wonder what happened, why is all this white stuff back and there is a blustery wind blowing they would back up from the open door as if to say Nope No way am I going out there.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sheila, confusion with the pets is a good way to describe it! Everyone here was so happy with the warmer days, though we only got a bit of sun here and there. I think the birds got confused, too, as someone in our town posted that they found a robin’s nest with two eggs! It is sunny today but so very cold, with more snow on the way. The funny thing is how fast it really does melt once things warm up slightly. Until then, it is warm food and cozy! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Mary- Windy Meadows Farm says:

    Wow – you did it! Out of the blue we received a Winter Storm Warning and now it’s snowing like crazy – I couldn’t be happier! Just had to let you know😊

  4. Denise Thompson says:

    Nicole,
    We are having spring weather. Rain and wind but that’s March. Our crocus and daffodil are blooming. We could still have snow well into April but it has been a fairly mild winter for us. I do enjoy the opportunity to hurkle durkle when it comes. I haven’t started my Spring cleaning but will be doing that soon. I love snowdrops! We use to see them alot back home in NY but haven’t seen them here in Ohio. Maybe I will see about planting some. They are so pretty and delicate looking .I didn’t see anything about a giveaway that MJ mentioned.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, I hear ya, we can have snow through April, too. Spring cleaning is next for me, as well. I have started some seeds indoors and will start more this coming week. Enjoy your spring! (And I see you found the post for the giveaway…good luck)! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Lara Johnson says:

    I’m in CT too! Good to know there are others this far north! A lot of my friends live in warmer climates and are already planting seeds in flats for their gardens, while we’re still shoveling or avoiding the cold! I’m always jealous of them this time of year so it’s nice to hear another perspective.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Lara, Hello, fellow Connecticut-Farmgirl! I hear ya…my family down south always calls saying how wonderful the weather is, while I am shoveling the snow off of my deck. But wait until July when it is dreamy here, and they are stuck under the A/C. I think everywhere has its charm, and Connecticut certainly does with the four seasons. (I just wish our warmer seasons were a bit longer, dont’ you)? Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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Stepping Into 2024

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Happy New Year, farmgirl friends! I hope the new year is being kind to you so far! To me, January is “nesting season” –  a bit of a lull after the rush of the holidays, and a time to hunker down before the spring comes again. It’s time to step into 2024!

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  1. Julie says:

    Thank you for the “good information”
    Things we sometimes forget…Here’s to a Great New Year…

  2. Denise says:

    We’ve just had a record snow here in middle Tennessee, 8 inches. I know for other areas of the country that’s not much but for this area that is a lot.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, oh my goodness…that is a lot of snow for Tennessee! Hope you are staying warm! We only got a few inches, but then got a layer of pure ice. UGH! No fun! Good time to do things inside, for sure! Thanks for reading and commenting. Stay warm! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Grace Brown says:

    Thanks Nicole for sharing your wonderful tips with us.
    We change out, service etc., our appliances 2x a year, we call it the J&J … January and June.. that way we never let any one thing slide when it comes to upkeep.
    Like you, being on private Well water we actually have 2 separate filters because of the minerals, sand etc.
    Stay snugly warm,,,

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Grace, that’s great to remember – January and June! Hope you are staying warm, too! Here, we are covered in a layer of ice everywhere. Good time to do things INSIDE, lol! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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A Christmas Miracle

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Happy Holidays to you all, Farmgirl readers! I hope you are having a wonderful season, and that the New Year brings us all joy, good health, and happiness for 2024!

We were dealt with more than our share of not-so-jolly this year, and our holidays were almost ruined by something that could have been a tragedy, a cherry on top of the proverbial “bad sundae”. Instead, we received a true Christmas miracle, and we are so overjoyed! I hope this post puts a smile on your face!

Continue reading

  1. Lori Fresina says:

    Just went thru the same on Dec 4-8. He was outside and came back. I pulled in the carport and heard him meowing loudly and then he jumped on the car. We thought he was gone but now he’s back!!! Glad your baby was found too!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Lori, Oh, I am so glad you found your kitty, too! It is just awful not knowing where they are! Friends of ours lost their kitty last year just before Thanksgiving. They had given up, when all of a sudden, two weeks later, after the holiday, he showed back up, thin but healthy. She thinks he was stuck in someone’s garage while they were on holiday! Glad you got a happy ending, too. Give your kitty a pat from me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • Lori Fresina says:

        I told my husband your story and he couldn’t believe it!

        • Nicole Christensen says:

          Hi Lori, we still can’t believe our baby is back! We keep spoiling him with extra pats and kisses (more than ever), and we are just so thankful. After that first night, we were sure we would never see him again. We just had to not give up! Have a wonderful holiday season! Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Ellen Andersen says:

    Nicole, thank you so so very much for sharing this. I’m so glad Norman is back home. I, too, have cats and live in the woods (the Blue Ridge mtns in Harpers Ferry, WV). One particular cat, (a rescue and foster failure) with one eye and many many extra toes has caused me grief similar to your Norman. His name is Tony Too Many Toes Toprano. He was a feral for many years but was finally trapped prior to a spay/neuter/vaccination event at our wonderful local vet clinic. I’m with a small group up here that runs a trap/neuter/return program and those cats we trap that are friendly (or will become friendly) as well as kittens …. so many kittens…are fixed up, vaccinated, neutered/spayed and adopted into families.

    Anyway, I’m blathering on. I do want to mention, though, that one thing with my personal cats as well as the TNR cats we’ve rehab’d and adopted out is to make sure they all have microchips. Those simple little chips have helped us locate lost cats and get them back home. All mine are chipped…Tony Too Many Toes does like to rush the door and then taunt me from the woods until I can coerce him back in the house. The chip is a blessing and is a HUGE help in getting missing critters back home.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and give Norman lots of love from my WV mountain cats!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ellen, thank you so much! I love your kitty’s name, and I bet he is just the cutest thing with his many toes and one eye! How wonderful that you are involved in kitty rescue! I think microchips are great, but they do not serve as a gps, (someone has to find your pet to scan it), so the trackers are a wonderful addition to the microchips! Keep up the great work you do, and pat that sweet Tony for me! Have a wonderul holiday season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    What a wonderful miracle story for the holidays!!. May your family enjoy your kitties and each other.

  4. Denise says:

    So very happy you found Norman!! Pets are family and glad you all are together again. Merry Christmas!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! Thank you – our hearts were so broken when he was gone. Now our family is complete! We have spoiled him rotten the last two weeks with so much love and pats (and treats)! Merry Christma, Denise! Have a wonderful holiday season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Treese says:

    I haven’t had much Christmas Spirit this year. Your post put the spirit right back in my heart. Such a sad story with a joyous ending. Welcome back Norman.
    Treese

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Treese, thank you – your comment means so much. There is nothing that could be put under our tree that would be as wonderful as finding our baby boy! He is such a good, sweet kitty. Have a Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Carol Slater says:

    What a miracle! I just finished sitting with my granddoll’s goat as it is passing and we just lost a lamb a couple of days ago. It sure does take away some of the holiday happiness.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Carol, I am so very sorry! In the past we have lost beloved pets and also relatives at the holidays…so hard. My heart gotes out to you and your granddoll! Much love to your family! May 2024 be better! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. jacqueline says:

    What a beautiful community you have that came together to search for your beloved cat. A touching story. I can only imagine how relieved you all are that your beloved is back with you well cared for.

    Happy Holiday season.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jacqueline, thank you – yes, we are so happy to have him home safe. The support from our town and community was so unexpected and truly wonderful! Have a Happy Holiday! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Oh my, I was hanging on every word! I’m so so happy you have found Norman and that now you can enjoy the holidays together. What wonderful friends & neighbors you have…that is truly such a blessing. We have an orange tabby as well…the sweetest boy, I can understand why you were so worried – they really become such a part of our families. Happy for your Christmas Miracle – what a wonderful post for this Christmas season, thanks for sharing! Mary

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary, thank you so very much! Our hearts are so full! I have lived in Connecticut, here, for more than half of my life, but after this, I truly feel more than ever that our town is HOME. Aren’t orange tabbies the best? They have such sweet personalities. When I was a little girl, the neighbors had an orange tabby named Mr. Peabody. He was big like Norman and used to visit. I always wanted an orange tabby and love my Norman so much! Thanks for reading and commenting, and have a very Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Julie says:

    So Happy to hear the entire story and the HAPPY ending. What a Wonderful bunch of folks that offered their help. It’s similar to It’s a Wonderful Life…

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you! Maybe there is a reason movies like that (one of my all time favorites) and Hallmark Christmas movies are filmed or take place in the Northeast! Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Nicole….I want you to be my neighbor as you are an amazing woman. I read your stories and messages and no wonder your neighbors all love you as much as I do. You would do anything you could for another person. For sure, you are a wonderful human being.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Anne, WOW! Thank you… that is an amazing, wonderful compliment. Thank you ever so much. I have just always tried to live by the “Golden Rule”. You are so sweet! I wish you a very, Merry Holiday Season, and a Happy New Year! Thank you for reading, and for such a nice comment. You have warmed my heart very much. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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Thankfulness

 

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Hi Farmgirl friends! It’s hard to believe, but here we are at the tail-end of 2023! It doesn’t seem like we should be talking about the end of the year yet, preparing for another winter, and heading into the holidays. The year has sped by, and here we are!

2023 won’t go down in my books as my favorite year. Lately, everyone I know is going through something, it seems. My family has had some great times this year, but we have also had our fair share of disappointments and stress. To top it off, this Thanksgiving, we were supposed to have relatives visit, but now their trip has been postponed until spring. We are disappointed, but now we look forward to seeing them when winter leaves us again.

Thanksgiving. Giving Thanks. So much is going on in the world, it seems like a big ol’ mess. I think it is more important than ever to count our blessings, and embrace the coming holidays, even when things are less than “ideal”. I’m working extra hard to take my own advice! Count blessings; remember to look at the good – not the bad, sad, tedious or stressful things that come – things that are just part of life.

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I’ve started my Christmas decorating, but am not doing it all at once – I’m “savoring” it. I am turning off the news more. I’m thankful for family, the wonderful friends I will be seeing during the holidays, and for farmgirl friends near and far. I am trying to be kinder to myself. Less pressure. More thankfulness. The holidays should be a time for joy, not a chore.

I’m thankful for little things. This fall, my daughter and I started doing a bi-weekly yoga class together. I really look forward to each class, and yoga is something I haven’t tried in decades, so it’s new to me. I also can’t wait to turn on Christmas lights, bake cookies, and see Christmas cards in the mailbox! Holidays are special because they give us something special to look forward to. I will keep that going all year – finding things to look forward to; it’s important and creates joy (even the littlest things, like an afternoon cup of coffee)!

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This season, I’m making our traditional Thanksgiving meal, even though we are just the three of us. I am thankful that I will have my family at the table. We are also going to be taking dinner to another family, who could use a bit of extra joy this year… It’s not extra work for me to make more, it’s a blessing. Isn’t that what the holidays are about – spreading love and joy?

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Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  1. Anne Long says:

    Beautiful news, Nicole. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Sister Trish says:

    Thank you for sharing your year with us. God bless & have a bountiful “farm” in 2024 .

  3. Marge Turner says:

    You have a beautiful family Nicole. We are thankful this year for God’s faithfulness bringing us through some health challenges and for the support of friends and family. I’ve put up one strand of colored lights to brighten up the living room on these short days. I also decorate slowly. It’s so much fun that way. Love and blessings to you.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge, I am so, so sorry to hear there have been some health challenges this year! I hope that you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving and a very, happy Healthy new year going into 2024! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Debbie Fischer says:

    Beautifully written Nicole, all of us have so many things to be thankful for.
    I am most thankful that my great nephew Wally should be arriving into our life’s at anytime. It has been many years since we have had a Fischer Baby in the Family We are all so Happy, Joyful, Thankful and so Blessed to have our little Blessing to be arriving just in time for Thanksgiving
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your Family My Friend
    Hugs,
    Debbie

  5. Tammy L Thomson says:

    Hello Nicole, Thank you for sharing your seasons with us….and for spreading joy whenever you do! I appreciate your honesty as well, about how keeping positive through life challenges takes some work at times. As you say, sometimes the good things get a little over-shadowed but; they are still there if we seek them out. Happy Thanksgiving to you and God Bless you! Tammy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Tammy, thank you. I am glad you enjoy the blog, and this post. I hope you and your family had a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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Haunting the House for the Spooky Season

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Hey there, farm-ghoul readers! Spooky season is upon us! Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, and New England certainly is the place to be! Grab a cup of pumpkin spice tea, and come visit with me as I haunt my house for Halloween!

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  1. Bonnie Iscrupe says:

    So much to look at. What a wonderful home!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bonnie, thank you! I love holidays…they make our days special! Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Jacqueline says:

    Oh how lovely. My daughter and I just did our annual pilgrimage to New England from PA and got back last night. How awesome that I have the large vintage ghost holding the pumpkin oversized fiberglass decoration as well as some of the other decorations you have displayed. I know that I read before your location but can you email me where you are located.
    This trip we spent alot of time in Providence RI which I fell in love with.
    I truly love New England, especially during this season.

    Jacqueline

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jacqueline, thank you so much! It sounds like you had a nice trip to my area! I love Rhode Island, as well. We visit RI pretty frequently, since it is so close to CT. I also love Pennsylvania. I lived there for a few years before we moved to Connecticut, and one of my dear friends lives in PA so we have been visiting. PA has some great vintage and antique finds, too! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole PS I will email you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Margaret Hofknecht says:

    Oh my goodness! What a lot of orange and black! Can’t wait to see how you decorate for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You really know how to decorate.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge! Thank you so much. I love to decorate, and utilize things that I have that aren’t necessarily “holiday” in my displays. By the way, there is a card on its way to you in the mail! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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So Long, Summer!

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Happy Fall, Y’all! Where I originally grew up and lived over thirty plus years ago, the weather this time of year was still pretty much the same as it was in the middle of July. In New England, we have four distinct seasons, and each one brings on a different feel inside and out. September and early October often feel “in between”, with nods to both seasons, bringing cooler temperatures and waning sun. Even though it’s “between seasons”, there is still much to do, indoors and out!

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  1. Patricia says:

    I live in Georgia where the weather is still in the 80s, so seeing your pictures of your fall festival & Renaissance festival, was enjoyable. I look forward to our local fairs next mo the when it may … or may not … be cooler. Loved all the other pictures of turkeys, hummingbirds & the lake trip as well.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Patricia, my mom lives in Georgia, too. I have been there in summer and at Christmas, too. Georgia peaches and pecans are the best! Enjoy your fall! Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Kathy Gaughran says:

    Beautiful pictures, looks like a fun time.
    Kathy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kathy, thank you! I do love how pretty it is up here in New England. Just when you think you have had enough of a season, a new one starts. Thanks for reading and commenting, and have a happy start to fall. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Tammy L Thomson says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Wish we could have taken some of the rain off your hands this past Summer! We had scant amounts in my part of Central Wisconsin. Now that the growing season is pretty much over, it is raining, and raining and….:) Thank you for the fun blog! I always enjoy these and appreciate that you take the time to share your news and great photos. Your ice cream flavor makes me think that I need to make a version of that in a scone. Hmmm…
    Happy Fall to you too! Love, Tammy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Tammy, wish we could have sent rain to you too. We got 14 inches over the weekend, and now we are to get six more today! Unheard of! My chickens think they are ducks, lol! Isn’t that scarecrow ice cream flavor neat? Enjoy your fall! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Susan says:

    Yes summer went by fast . I didn’t have much if a garden. I only got a few tomatoes. Maybe your eggplant. Makes me not want to do a garden next year. But plenty of berries and grapes. Hopefully that means we won’t have much snow this winter pumpkins and skeletons have been out for a month now. Halloween will be here before you know it.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susan, I know, summers like this are frustrating and do make us not want to have another. But, each season is different, and next summer you could have more tomatoes than you know what to do with. I always remember Audrey Hepburn’s quote, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” And tomorrow’s garden may be better. But I hear you. My berries this year were plentiful, as well, but not as many tomatoes, like you said. With all this rain, we will have to watch out for lots of fungal issues now and in spring. I am ready for Halloween, too! Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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