About Anna

I like being out in the sunshine, dancing, baking, exploring abandoned houses, dark chocolate, traveling, being green, thrift store shopping, backpacking, gardening, reading memoirs, hammocks and fantastic friends.

Community Supported Agriculture

It’s January. The trees are brown and barren. Snow covers the ground. But now is the time to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Community Supported Agriculture works a bit like the stock market. You pay for a share of the farm and get a share of the harvest delivered to your home or to a nearby pick-up location weekly. (Sorry that’s where my knowledge of the stock market, and my simile, end.)  Many farms offer 1/2 shares or mini-shares for those worried they can’t eat a bushel of veggies in a week. Some CSAs also include visits to the farm and free pick-your-own berries.  The fruit and veggies you get are LOCAL, SEASONAL, often ORGANIC, SUSTAINABLY GROWN and from small FAMILY FARMS.

I know these are the buzz words of the moment. So go ahead, sign up for a CSA to be hip. But you could also sign up to:

  • support local farmers
  • get the freshest, tastiest produce
  • make sure you eat more fruit and veggies
  • learn more about cooking seasonally
  • try new healthy foods
  • minimize the carbon footprint of your food

DC Area farms that offer CSA

  1. Potomac Vegetable Farm – various NOVA pick-up points *registration opens 2/15
  2. Great Country Farms – NOVA home delivery *register now
  3. Waterpenny Farm – Arlington & Lorton delivery *registration opening soon
  4. Olin-Fox Farms – South NOVA & Chesapeake delivery *register now
  5. Virginia Green Grocer – NOVA home delivery *register now
  6. Graceland Farm – various NOVA pick-up points *register now
  7. Manahoac – various NOVA pick-up points *register now
  8. A Fresh & Local CSA – DC/Maryland pick up points *register now

There’s plenty more, too. Check out Local Harvest to search for CSA, farmers markets and more by zip code. But don’t delay, CSA usually give first dibs to previous members and then fill up any remaining slots FAST.

Snow Day (x3)

Second third snow day of the week! This has got to be one of the greatest perks to being a teacher, trumped only by summers off. Weds I decided to go running in the slush right at 2pm when the snow was supposed to start coming down in earnest. I’d just lost faith in the weatherman… but around 2:30 it started to pelt little white bb’s of snow at me, so I cut my run short. But that’s nothing compared to the traffic Weds night. My dad’s 23 mile commute from DC to Reston took almost 8 hours! Yesterday I went snowshoeing with Buddy and my mom & her dog Darby. Buddy is adorable bounding like a bunny in the snow.

I think I could get used to a two-day work week.  I may have only done 3 things on my 38 item to-do list, but I’ve toured beautiful homes on Apartment Therapy, looked for vacuums on Craigs List, baked oatmeal whole wheat beer bread, read about the !Kung Bushmen (they’re my new heros!) made a huge batch of veggie chili (still need to make the Jalepno Pepper Jack scones) and watched The Blind Side, a film that could seem a bit OTT except that it features the true story of Michael Oher.

Warming wisdom from across the pond

Last night we got a dusting of snow and this morning school was delayed 2 hrs. I went on a run through the glittering woods, following the footprints of deer, foxes, rabbits and raccoons… but no other humans. Our backyard rocks.

Early on the roads and sidewalks were plowed and salted. However, when we were in England recently, it snowed a similar amount but didn’t melt much or get plowed. Weeks later there was still a slippery mixture of ice and snow on sidewalks.  So the Brits may not be masters of snow removal, but they do have a lot to teach us about staying warm.

May I present to you 3 of their simple yet magical techniques:

1. The electric kettle. This little baby is crucial and widely available. Most can boil water in about 5 minutes and lift off their base for ease of use. But heck, we’re happy using a $10 hot pot I bought 11 years ago for uni.  And, no, I’m not suggesting you pour boiling water on yourself to warm up, but the electric kettle will greatly assist step 2 & 3.

2. Tea. Ok, so I know Americans drink tea, but when it’s cold out, we could learn a lot from the Brits about the RITUAL that is tea. They drink 5 cups a day.  But, really, fill yourself up with hot liquids – tea, coffee, hot chocolate, soup – for an instant warming effect. Just don’t burn your tongue!

3. The hot water bottle. About $10 and you’ve got a warm body to cuddle all night long. Seriously, mine are still warm in the morning! But no hot bottie is complete without the proper attire. Check out http://www.etsy.com for a great selection of cute sweaters for your hot water bottle, like this one from A Crooked Sixpence from… yep, you guessed it, the UK.

Seriously.  Try these out – you’ll be hooked and hott!

Of engelond to caunterbury they wende

Canterbury Cathedral

12/18  It was off to snowy Canterbury to visit Nat & Umberto.  It’s an picturesque small city with a large pedestrian-only area.  Their flat is just minutes from the train station and an amazing farmers market/delicatessen called The Goods Shed. Sunday we went to the seaside and then evensong at the cathedral.  My high school English teacher would be dismayed because I couldn’t recall any of the Canterbury Tale’s Prologue which we’d had to memorize.

Our time there was far too short, for soon we were off to York. It was strange in some ways being back in the city where we’d lived for a year.  Many of our old friends were already away for the holidays but we did get to catch up with our old housemates Dave & Nichole.  And, of course, we had a great time with Matt & Pete.  Then it was off once more, this time to a cozy cottage in Sherwood Forest where the 8 of us (Pizzos + partners) spent Christmas.

12/22 This was the true holiday portion of our holiday…. lazy days of reading, eating fabulous food, running in the snowy woods, spending quality time with Pizzos and screaming as we went down waterslides at the huge indoor tropical pool area.  Christmas day I made the legendary Moll Cinnamon Bread for breakfast and then we enjoyed a time of sharing. In lieu of presents we did a book exchange where we each brought a book we’d enjoyed and swapped it with someone else.  (Great idea, Dee!) For Christmas dinner we had pizza made from scratch by Nat & Umberto along with Christmas Cake, Pan d’Oro, Panettone and mince pies – YUM!

I even saw Robin Hood…. well, I saw a beautiful red fox that looked very similar to this one:

Only the fox I saw wasn’t wearing any clothes.  But still!

Our time in England flew by… two more days in ‘Nam with friends and family and then we were back at Heathrow… it seemed like only yesterday we’d arrived.

The Magic Pig and more

Our holiday in England continued with a few days in London where we met up with old friends, ran around (literally) Hyde Park, explored the Natural History Museum, Piccadilly and Soho, and ate steamed buns in Chinatown.

Unfortunately I came down with a horrid bout of the flu upon our return to Haddenham. I had a fever but felt ice cold. We got a beautiful dusting of snow in time for Dan & P’s long walk in the Chiltern Hills.  D & I went to see the a play of Rapunzel or the Magic Pig at the enchanting mirror tent.  We brought mulled wine and lemon polenta cake to enjoy as we watched the delightful tale.

England in December

England! I’ve realized this is my fifth winter in the UK.  And as lovely as England is, I’d like to spend my next winter holiday somewhere a bit warmer!  There’s record breaking freezing temps here at the moment!



Still, I’m enchanted by the charming cottages, milk that’s delivered to your doorstep in glass bottles, tremendously tiny roads and beautifully packaged food.  No honestly, going through the supermarket even the store-brand items have gorgeous design. Mind you, this was at Waitrose, but even Tescos has some nicer packaging.  Why can’t things be beautiful, functional and inexpensive?  In addition to looking good, I am so impressed with how many fair trade foods are available (a good portion of the chocolate, bananas, coffee) in the UK. It’s also easier to get ethical products – milk and meat from pastured “happy” animals and sustainably fished salmon. Plus, in Britain you don’t find corn products hiding in all of the food.  Grr… the industrial food system in the US is shameful!

Meanwhile, Dan’s friend Sameer got married… on the London Eye!  What a fantastic venue… but as only 20 people can fit in a pod I wasn’t able to be there 😦

The 11th we enjoyed a delicious brunch with Granny & co. to celebrate her 96th birthday! She’s doing wonderfully and even had enough strength to arm wrestle D!

Sunday we went to Oxford. Wandering around the back alleyways it was amazing to think that 5 years ago we’d been there searching for an engagement ring!  Later in the evening we saw blind, autistic, musical savant Derek Paravicini in concert.

He’s extraordinary! We first found out about Derek a few months earlier while watching TV during our hike of the Contintial Divide Trail. It’s amazing how things come full circle.

november

Yes, I’m aware we’re now in the month of December… but I’m behind on blogging.

STEP ONE – camp out in condo while painting every centimeter of wall, molding and ceiling. Goodbye roaring lion greeting me as I step out of the shower.  Goodbye ghoulish green + vampire burgundy dining room combo. I don’t like Twilight that much. (Ok, actually I’ve never seen it, but still…)

STEP TWO – land a job teaching special ed preschool in less than 2 weeks.  Adorable kids + great colleagues + summers off = horrid pay I can cope with.

STEP THREE – score free stuff on Craig’s List to piece together furniture.

Please keep in mind I'm a neat freak!

 

STEP FOUR – Move in stuff that’s been in storage for 3 years. Live out of boxes, enduring chaos where keys, wallet and sanity are lost (but then found again).  Stinkbugs everywhere. Eww!

 

STEP FIVE – become the owners of this little fellow named Buddy.

STEP SIX – Enjoy a posh evening away here in the countryside with friends.

Happy B-day P!

re-entry

Well it’s been just over a month since finishing our hike of the CDT.  Strangely, I was able to update the blog more regularly when we were hiking through the wilderness and had internet access only once a week at best.  Now that I have daily access to the web, I can’t find the time.

On the trail I had only three concerns:  1) walk  2) eat  3) sleep.  Yes, we did have to plan where we were going to walk (deciding our route) and do a fair bit of navigation at times, but life was simple. All we had we could carry on our backs.  Life moved at a slower pace. We were walking for goodness sake!  Think about where you’ve gone today (perhaps by car, train or bike) and now imagine doing the same activities but with only your 2 feet to carry you to and fro. I’ll be surprised if someone can report it wouldn’t significantly change their daily routine.

+ As winter approaches, I’m grateful for the roof over our heads and our warm (free on Craigslist) bed. I’m thankful I can eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies everyday, rather than the junk food we ate on the trail. It’s wonderful to be close to friends and family again. And I’m finally getting to live out some of my HGTV daydreams as we decorate our condo.  I’m enjoying being a dog owner too!  But…

– I miss the slower pace and simplicity of life on the trail.  I miss the stellar community and instant connection with other thru-hikers.  I miss being able to pig out with the knowledge that none of it would go straight to my thighs.  I miss the mountains and the unexpected sights that each new mile brought.

Our last re-entry, after the PCT, was difficult but we also knew our time in civilization was temporary. We devoted ourselves completely to work so we could earn money for the CDT. Now, things are different. We definitely want to hike the Appalachian Trail sometime in the next few years, but for now we’re putting down roots after being nomads for over three years.

¡Mexico!

Finally, the long overdue blog on our finish:

We had a nostalgic and easy 2 days from Deming to Columbus.  On OCTOBER 27th, we reunited with Yas (he’d done the hard-core cacti bushwack through the Florida Mountains that we’d bypassed).  Yas said the bushwack wasn’t too bad, but we also had to pick a dozen cactus spines out of his back from when he’d fallen on a cactus.  In Colombus, New Mexico (a town known for its 1916 attack by Pancho Villa) we breakfasted before setting off on our final 3 mile road walk.  Dan had made a star as a monument for our finish since Jonathan Ley’s maps use stars to mark out segments on the trail.  (Rather than going point to point, we go star to star… and we were approaching our final star!)

The finish was the in many ways the complete opposite of our Pacific Crest Trail finish in Canada. Instead of endless trees, there were cacti. In place of a strip of clear cut trees, there was a strip mall with a Family Dollar. Rather than solitude, Mexicans and Americans alike (along with plenty of Border Patrol Officials) milled about the streets.  But the best part was rather than an 8 mile walk to civilization and food, we just had a 8 minute stroll into the town of Palomas, Mexico.

We’d debated whether or not we should enter Mexico since Palomas is nearby Juarez which is in the midst of a dangerous drug war. But in the end it seemed safe and we were so glad we decided to enter Mexico.  At The Pink Store were treated like celebrities.  The owner shouted out to everyone (in Spanish and English) that we’d just walked from Canada and treated us to margaritas.  We dined on muy ricos burritos and fajitas as a mariachi bands played. It was the perfect way to celebrate our (approximately) 2,800 mile journey on foot from Canada to Mexico.  Naomi, Mike’s wife, had flown in for the occasion too.  Yes, The Pink Store is a total tourist trap, full of handcrafted Mexican folk art and retired American couples, but it was heavenly!  (Besides, of those retired couples bought us a round of drinks!)

It had been an amazing journey…. it was hard to believe it was actually over.