Welcome November

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us…. this month, as opposed to most, we seem to be focusing on us.

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Gah!

I’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to start this post. Sarah made an attempt yesterday, but stalled.

We had a little chat, and I know exactly what our problem is – our minds are going in a million different directions. I find that it often happens at this time of year. We’re trying our best to live in the moment, to enjoy these beautifully crisp fall days, plan a delicious meal with fresh farm share produce, and knit by the fire in the evenings with a mug of cider.

BUT!

But then our mind starts to wonder to the holidays. We start scheming up the gifts that we want to make and special traditions that we want to continue. And since we’re spending so much time inside, let’s think about redecorating that corner of the house that’s been ignored. Then we’re stuck in the Pinterest hole… and well, GAH!

The best thing that I can do for myself is to always make sure that I’m doing *something*. I may chip away at gifts one day, do a bit of cleaning and rearranging another, write plenty of lists to keep my thoughts organized, and bit by bit a clear signal of where life is going rises above the noise.

If your November is off to the same start as ours, I hope you’ll take some time today to get mentally organized and set your intentions for your day/week/month. We love to start by looking back at previous Novembers as we think about how to make the most of the month ahead.

Looking Back

Today I noticed that this is our forth November writing Live Seasoned! You can see what we were talking about during 2014 and 2015 by clicking those links.

In 2016 I think we were feeling the weight of the political climate (I’m sorry to even bring it up!). We didn’t write a Welcome post for the month and after the crazy presidential election, we took the rest of the month off! A clear sign that we needed to turn our energy inwards, comforting and quieting our minds and souls. A year later, I still can’t believe the craziness that has unfolded over the past year, but the elections this past Tuesday have me feeling so hopeful.

November is when we first opened our Etsy shop. Which reminds me that we have to post a few of our most recent potions (they are the best yet!). Look for those soon.

Looking Forward

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for the long dark evenings in the house. We’re all about hygge. For me it means an afghan on every couch, cozy slippers, candles, and a warm toddy in my hand. I’m also looking forward to:

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  • hanging our bird feeders. We hang hummingbird feeders in the summer, but we only hang seeds for the birds during the winter months (when the chances of attracting bears is low). We hang black sunflower seeds in a squirrel-proof feeder. We also hang a few suet feeders around the house knowing that suet’s extra energy can really help the birds during the cold months. We have this one with a tail prop (pic above is from Amazon), and we really do see more woodpeckers at it than the other ones. It’s always exciting to see who comes for a visit!

Festivals and Celebrations

As much as we love our time inside, it’s also good to get out and celebrate the season with others. We love visiting markets at this time of year to pick up gifts for the holidays and to get inspired with ideas for future craft and food projects.

  • November 11-12 : Boulder Mountain Handmade – this is a crafts market that supports our local firemen, whose work is so important for those of us living in the Colorado mountains!
  • November 11-12 : B&N Mini Maker Faires – Barnes and Noble stores across the US are holding mini maker faires this weekend. Last year, our local store invited robotics clubs to present their work and set up a maker zone in the store. We had such a great time and am looking forward to this weekend. Throughout the month, there are many Maker Faires going on across the globe (not associated with B&N).
  • Throughout November : The San Francisco, New York, and Austin Renegade Craft Fairs – this has become a global craft and design fair, and it’s a great way to find local artisans. You can also shop their website if you can’t find a market nearby.

If there’s a festival or craft market that you love – leave a note in the comments!

 

 

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Seasoned View Vol. 29

Each month we share our Seasoned View.  Snapshots of nature and daily life taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find our archive of past months’ views here.

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Welcome, November. Today we’re sharing our joint view. While Katie explored the mountains of Colorado, I biked the streets and swam the cenotes in Mexico. You can upload one or all of these photos to use as your desktop background or even as phone and tablet wallpapers.  Simply click on the download link below each photo and save the image.  Enjoy!

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Deer Mountain Trail

Want to see more hiking posts? Click here. The only thing you’ll regret is the time spent in front of the screen instead of outside ;-).

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Today we’re sharing some photographs and info about our hike to the top of Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you want even more info when planning a visit, leave us a comment, check out this post about winter camping in the park, or pick up this hiking guide (it’s super detailed and our favorite).

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Fall Hikes with Kids

Navigate our links above to see more of our hiking and camping adventures (or if you’re a lazy bum, click here).

If you’ve been following the blog or our Instgram feed for any length of time, then you know that we love a good hike. Just put us outside with a good pair of boots, a snack, and a hat, and we are ready to go!

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Some of my most memorable hikes have happened in the fall. Of course, the brisk weather and colorful foliage make for beautiful memories. But there’s also something about the shorter days anticipation of a long, cold winter indoors that makes the need to get outside even more urgent at this time of year.

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Field Trip : Botanic Gardens

Have you ever been to a botanic garden? If not, it’s time to find one in your neck of the woods. You may be lucky enough to have one in your city or town, or you may want to visit one the next time you’re on vacation. Trust us, this is a field trip that’s equally entertaining for both adults and kiddos.

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Welcome October 2017

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Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields.
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Looking Up & Around

Happy October, friends. Autumn is here and so is the full harvest moon! Set aside some time today to gaze up at that big astronomical body. If you’re familiar with monthly moon names, you may be wondering why it’s the harvest moon instead of the hunter moon, which normally falls in October. The harvest moon isn’t confined to September. It is actually the full moon that falls after the autumn equinox, which we celebrated on September 22. The harvest moon fell in October in 2009 and will land there again in 2020, so it’s rare, but definitely not unheard of.

What else is happening this month? As always, but possibly more apparent this month, are all the changes taking place in the woods. I always think of October outdoors as a month of transition. We experience the leaves, nuts, and seeds falling from trees and traveling in the breeze. Mushrooms are springing up after the first fall rains, while flowers are both blooming and going to seed. Bees are still buzzing (and stinging me), while squirrels and chipmunks scurry around securing their own harvest.

This is quite possibly the most comfortable month to be out and about in the woods. Sunshine, cool breezes and barely any bugs make every hike a great one. I’m spending the week working in Asheville, North Carolina, an area that absolutely explodes with leaf peepers, especially on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tens of thousands of people flock to western North Carolina during October and November to watch the autumn colors slowly emerge starting with higher elevations and trickling down the mountainsides. The elevation range in the Great Smokey Mountains basically ensures that fall color will stick around for at least three weeks each year. There are websites dedicated to tracking the changing fall foliage and it’s impossible to miss the influx of visitors as traffic can be bumper to bumper on the blue ridge and hotel rooms impossible to find.

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Fields and Festivals

It’s that time of year when farmer’s markets in my area transition from two days per week to one. I know, I’m spoiled, but sometimes it’s hard to wake up on a Saturday and when that’s the case, what’s a girl to do? I had to make a quiche this week with store-bought mushrooms, WTF. Joking aside though, I love the market at this time of year. The weather is sunny, but the air is cool. I can sip on cider or tea while strolling by each vendor as I slowly make recipe plans and ingredient decisions. In contrast, during the summer, I’m gulping down iced coffee and wanting to put down my bags, take off my tank top, and pass out from heat exhaustion. No chill.

This is the time of year when those crops that require the full summer growing season are finally ready for harvest. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I’m still seeing watermelon and tomatoes along with elderberries, grapes, peppers, and eggplants. Apples, okra, corn, potatoes, pumpkin, and other winter squash are abound as well.

The coolest thing at my market right now though? Soup subscriptions. How freaking neat. Short Winter Soups, a company established by Tova Boehm in 2010, provides each subscriber with a quart of soup every week for eight weeks. The soup ingredients are sourced locally from over a dozen farms. I love this idea and the thought of Tova pouring stirring her heart and soul into delicious soup recipes each week. Growing up, our mom made a lot of soup. Momma Schu’s soups were a staple during family gatherings, soccer games, snowstorms and weekends on the farm. Soccer concession stand fans would actually refer to her as the soup queen. All hail the soup queens among us.

If you’re not feeling the farmer’s market, October is the month to head straight to the fields. Hayrides and pick-your-own patches are some of my fondest fall memories, not just as a kid, but up until a few years ago too. I feel like I’ve traveled the past few falls because I can’t remember the last time I carved a pumpkin or balanced an apple on my head (holy shit that was seven years ago), what a shame! If you need any inspiration for your fall harvest, we have a full pumpkin archive, with a few main dish recipes as well as an apple archive that includes more alcoholic drinks than you could make all weekend. I dare ya.

  • I mentioned watching the leaves change in the Great Smoky Mountains. Ready for your mind to be blown? It’s the most popular national park with over eleven million visitors last year. In.sane.
  • Vermont is also a popular destination for leaf chasers, but really, any forest is bursting with color this month so where ever you are, you don’t have to drive far, tie up your boots and hit the trail.
  • There’s more than just colorful leaves floating around, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta runs from the 7th-15th. It’s always been a dream of mine to attend and one day I’ll remember to make plans more than forty-eight hours in advance. I believe in me.
  • The Earth Harmony Festival is this weekend (October 7-8). The Earth Harmony Festival celebrates eco-living & sustainability.  It’s held on the country’s largest EcoVillage located in Arizona. Did I mention that it’s practically free?! You gotta go.
  • While September was packed with environmental holidays, October has only a couple official ones, including World Habitat Day, which just passed on Monday. We kinda missed the boat on that one, but it’s not too late to stop and reflect on our basic human right to adequate shelter. Maybe you’d like to do some volunteer work this month in conjunction with homeless shelters as a way to commemorate the day?

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Capturing the Beauty

How do we hang on to enchanting autumn as long as possible? Take some photos! The time lapse of our apple antics is still one of my favorite photo sessions with the Schu sisters. I can still remember how much we giggled when those were taken seven years ago! I like to balance out the silly with the serious though. I think the film portrait of our sister Kristin, shown above, captures her spirit perfectly. Add that it’s taken on the road that leads to our family farm and you have an iconic photo that will surely be shared for generations. As each season passes, I find it more and more important to take photos of family and friends and what better backdrop than a carpet of freshly fallen leaves? Here’s a tutorial on photographing fall and photographing landscapes in general. Even if you fail to preserve fall on film, I hope you capture it in your heart. Cheesy?! IDGAF.

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Next Level Landscape Photography

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Ask most photographers what they truly want to shoot and the answer is almost always landscape and travel photography. If there was a viable way to make a living from nature photography, we would all be doing it. It’s not impossible, but it usually comes with the goal of selling something, a product, a place, an agenda, it’s never just a nature shot. That doesn’t stop us from taking our cameras to the woods though. There are landscape shots and then there are landscape shots. Here are a few tips to elevate your game.

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iNaturalist

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed making observations and participating in citizen scientist projects. Check out our first phenology post! And if you know a little bug lover, then this post is for you. And definitely this one.

Are you using iNaturalist yet? We’ve mentioned the app a few times in other posts, but thought that a formal introduction was in order.

iNaturalist provides both app and website forums for sharing your wildlife observations. These observations can be seen by other wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists, and scientists. Basically, it’s creating an amazing forum for collecting data about wildlife across the world, and the best part is that you don’t have to be an expert to contribute data. This is citizen science at its finest!

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Having many observations across a wide geographic area and over a number of years help scientists track data about the location, movement, and timing of biological activity. For example: is the range of a species changing? are they migrating earlier or later in the season? is the timing of plant budding out/flowering/fruiting changing? Simple observations across a large group of people help to collect the data that will answer these questions.

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Backpacking on the Ozette Loop

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Hey there! In July, I hiked the Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park in Washington. Although I completed the loop as an overnight backpacking trip, the Ozette Loop would also make a nice day hike.  The nine-ish mile loop starts in a coastal forest environment, forks right and winds its way across boardwalks until it dips slightly to the coast. Walking along the beach is the more challenging section, but only because you’re trudging through sand. Eventually, you reach Sand Point, a gorgeous outcropping with a large rock that you can climb atop of. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset and the ease of the return trip makes it possible to hike back during twilight and even as darkness falls if you’re not keen on camping. Over the course of the loop, the elevation change is less than 500 feet and beside the beach, most of the trail is on a wooden boardwalk. It’s nearly impossible to get lost and while you should always take a map, you shouldn’t need to consult it even once.

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I found the Ozette Loop to be equal parts easy and exciting. As I mentioned, there’s not much elevation change and much of the trail takes place on a wooden boardwalk through coastal forests. While hiking on a boardwalk can be a bit boring, it gives your brain a chance to focus on your surroundings instead of your next steps. Walking amongst giant hemlock and cedar trees and seeing beautiful ferns and moss dripping with moisture had me thinking about ancient reptiles, sea creatures, and dinosaurs (turns out the first dino bone discovered in Washington happened just a couple years ago).

After about three miles, you’ll shuffle down a short and steep section (there’s a rope to aid in your decent) that spits you out on the sand. At this point, my hiking partner and I took off our shoes and shirts, found an enormous downed tree and had a quick snack and snooze. Then it was time to march on along the beach. Looking out towards the sea stacks we thought about the expanse of the Pacific. Was the trash on the beach from Japan? Some of it seemed so.

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I opted to hike the two beautiful miles along the beach in Chacos. I tried bare feet for a few moments, but the sand was a bit too coarse for comfort. There was also a fair amount of sharp debris, kelp piles, driftwood and rocks covered in barnacles underfoot. Depending on the changing tide, there will be a few impassable headlands. You’ll have to scramble up over a big boulder or two (apparently there are ropes to assist, but we didn’t see or use them) or hike into the woods to navigate around them. These areas are evident and I found them to be easy enough to manage with an overnight pack. I thought that navigating around the series of downed trees was more exhausting, mostly because I’m short and those tree trunks are huuuge.

As you make your way around the headlands, be on the lookout for the Wedding Rocks petroglyphs. I’m sure I would have missed them if my friend hadn’t pointed them out to me. They are so amazing we thought that they might be fake, but a quick google search proved us wrong. I had seen petroglyphs in Mesa Verde, Colorado, but these were radically different not only in style (obviously) but also in size and definition. Thinking back, I wish I would have prepared myself for that moment because I would have stayed and enjoyed them longer instead of thinking I was being duped. I had expected to see small paintings, not large rock carvings. The petroglyphs were carved by the ancestors of the Makah tribe using tools made of rock and bone.

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Soon enough you’ll reach Sand Point and a whole host of campsites. We wandered around for a good bit trying to find a site that was semi-secluded, which proved to be tough since we rolled in late on a Friday evening. Although we could see other tents from our site, once the sun went down I truly forgot that anyone else was around. There was also the option to camp on the beach, but we liked the sheltered feel of the forest. If you do camp on the beach, know where the high tide line falls or you’ll wake up soaking wet. The next morning, bask in the sun and eat your breakfast on the beach before hiking the 4ish miles back to the trailhead.

Know before you go :

  • As always, Leave No Trace.
  • No pets, use of weapons, or wheeled devices on the trail.
  • Reservations and permits are required for overnight camping between May 1 and September 30 & must be made no more than 48 hours in advance. (The website said 72, but we were told 48 at the station. It may depend on the month)
  • Campfires are prohibited between the headland north of Yellow Banks and the headland at Wedding Rocks including Sand Point.
  • Only use driftwood for fires. Don’t gather firewood from the forested areas. Use existing fire rings or build fires on the beach to prevent damage to tree roots.
  • All food, garbage, and scented items must be stored in a park-approved bear canister. Bear canisters are available to rent when you pick up your permit.
  • Max group size of 12 people.

Water & waste :

  • There is a creek at Sand Point and Cape Alava, but beware that Cryptosporidium and Giardia are present in coastal streams and rivers. Bring a purification system or boil your water. Iodine is ineffective against cryptosporidium. I didn’t know that until this trip. I’ve been using iodine all my life. I ended up purchasing these chlorine dioxide tablets, which treat both Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
  • Pit toilets are available at Sand Point and Cape Alava. Elsewhere you must bury your waste and paper six or more inches deep and seventy steps from water sources and your campsite. LADIES! Always take your used toilet paper with you after you pee. It’s offensive to see it on the ground. I carry a plastic ziplock that I put all used toilet paper in. It’s that easy.

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What to pack for a day trip :

If I’m day hiking, sometimes I like to be extravagant. Wine with dinner while watching a sunset, anyone?

  • Apply sunscreen + bug spray before you leave
  • Water
  • Purifying tablets
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Knife
  • Snacks
  • Lunch or Dinner
  • Wine?
  • Sunglasses
  • Pullover
  • Rain jacket
  • Chacos
  • Camera
  • Hammock + straps
  • Headlamp

What to pack for an overnight trip :

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The food we packed :

We started later in the day after we ate lunch so we packed snacks, dinner, and breakfast for our overnighter. And wine. And weed. Relax, it’s legal in Washington.

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Teachable Moments : Beach Reads

Teachable Moments is a relatively new series on the blog, you can find the archive here. You can learn more about Saxis in this selection of posts, and here are more beach book recommendations for adults and kids. If you’d like to see our favorite sun gear for toddlers, click here.

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When we start planning for our time at the beach, my mind immediately turns to the books I’ll read. Hours sitting on the beach provide the uninterrupted reading time that we just don’t seem to find elsewhere in life. Wait, if you’re a parent reading this, that statement is laughable. Who sits still on the beach with two kids? And to that, I say, touché. That’s when you teach your kids about the joys of the beach nap.

But in all seriousness, as the boys have grown, I’ve started to think more intentionally about their beach reads. These boys love a good adventure, and when we’re traveling I find that they fully immerse themselves in the new environment. They aren’t sitting around thinking about Colorado and the mountains; instead, they’re exploring!  And what better way could there be to teach them about the place they’re visiting, and the animals and people that live there, than to read books?

I’ve made an effort over the years to stock the beach house with good ocean and bay-related books for the kids. It’s nice to have these books there rather than at home because the stories really come alive when they’re reading about animals that they just saw on the beach and in the marsh. And I know that they can relate to crabbing and fishing adventures when they’ve just spent the afternoon on Poppop’s boat putting bait in the crab pots and casting out their finishing lines.

Below is a list of our current favorites (for reference, the boys are 2 and 4). Admittedly, I’m particularly smitten with books written and illustrated by local artists, so you’ll see quite a few on the list. They add an intimate feel in their descriptions of the place that could never be achieved in a generic book about ocean/beach life.

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The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library

I know opinions can vary when it comes to Dr. Seuss. The wording can be awkward and leave you tongue-tied, which is not the best for reading aloud. But it rhymes, and I’m a sucker for a good rhyming text, especially one that’s educational.  Each book flows really well after one or two readings.

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