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Monday, December 8, 2014

Valley Gives!

Valley Gives Day is a fun opportunity to donate to local nonprofit organizations and to watch the donations add up.  You can follow the action on leaderboards and hope your favourite nonprofit comes out on top.  This is the third year for VGD, and to date more than $3million has been raised for our community!
Valley Gives Day this year is Wednesday, December 10.  Don't forget to give!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Library Planning & Design -- and community survey

The Hadley Goodwin Memorial Library is currently undergoing a planning and design study regarding the functionality of the library building and what changes may need to be made to it to keep it on track for Hadley residents' use.  You can follow the Planning & Design Committee's efforts at their new blog:

There is now also a community survey about the library's physical space and collection.  You can find it by following this link:
I request and highly recommend that you take the survey -- the responses will provide important information about library usage.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If You Missed the Leaf-Peep

Columbus Day weekend is often touted as leaf-peeping weekend, when the leaves are at their autumnal peak.  I'm not yet convinced that the trees don't get a little more grand just a few days later, but nevertheless, the leaves are beautiful over that long weekend.  If you missed them, either couldn't make it to Massachusetts, or just didn't get outside because of the weather, here are lovely pics to show you what you missed.

Happy Autumn in Western Massachusetts!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mount Warner Reservation Opening Celebration

Some pictures from the Opening Celebration yesterday morning for the Mount Warner Reservation.  The Trustees of Reservations now holds stewardship over the property and has recently put in a new trail system.
There was quite a turnout for the opening, and both John Scibak and Stan Rosenberg were there, as well as the trustees (a shout-out to Josh who coordinated it all) and volunteers who have helped put the reservation together and get it ready for opening day.

After the speakers, everyone went on a hike, and at the top (The Overlook, owned by the Carrs as part of their apple orchard), there was sweet cider and apples and a representation by Carr's Ciderhouse, with samples of their hard ciders, apple vinegar, and super-delicious apple syrup. I was very happy to be able to bring home a bottle of apple syrup and expect that I will be purchasing many more bottles in the future.

It was a great opening -- kudos to all those who helped put it together!

If you like to hike, if you enjoy nature, if you want to mountain bike or do some trail walking with your dog or cross country ski, the new trails on Mount Warner are perfect for it all!  And there's now a new parking lot with a bike rack available, so you don't have to pull off onto the side of the road to enjoy it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chicks and Flowers in the Autumn

It's such a beautiful day today that I had to let the chicks out to enjoy it.  I hate keeping them cooped (!) up, but when I'm not home most of the day, and when I know I'll have the new dog outside, I tend to let them just roam their run and coop.  But today is gorgeous, and they are enjoying the freedom.

They are hanging out under the lilac bush -- in these pics you can see Penelope (top), our Buckeye chicken; Olive and Ivy (middle), our two Speckled Sussex; Clementine (bottom), our Buff Orpington; and in the bottom picture on the right, just out of the frame is Mabel, our Silver-Laced Wyandotte.  They are happily dust bathing, napping, scratching for bugs, cooing and chirruping, and staying warm in the sun.

And now, just a few more...

I was happy to notice this week that our Mexican sunflowers have finally decided to bloom.  What a wonderful burst of colour for the fall! 

A few days later, and we have a few more blossoms and more getting ready to pop.  What beauties!

Enjoy these opening days of October.  They have already been amazing!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

French Fries & Chocolate Cake, Plus 2 More Restaurants You Should Eat At

Recently Mr. Madley and I have been trying a few new restaurants.  Not that the restaurants are new, but they are new to us.  I am writing to give them rave reviews.

First, a shoutout goes to Sierra Grille in Northampton, which does cheesy melt-in-your mouth potatoes au gratin, which pair well with their delicious duck breast with cranberry-peach chutney and grilled vegetables.  We have now been there twice, thanks to the occasional coupon from the Save 30% store on the River.

Second, the Mission Cantina in Amherst.  I know this is old news, and we did go there about a year ago, too, but we were there again recently and it was even better the second time.  I ordered the quesadilla in corn tortillas with carnitas and could have easily eaten a second or third plate of them, had I not been so full.  It really is delicious Mexican food, which I can't seem to get enough of these days.
(And speaking of Mexican food, I am looking forward to the reopening of Mi Tierra in Hadley where The Butterfly restaurant used to be.  While you wait, you can find their homemade tortillas at Atkins Farms and Maple Farm Foods.)

And now, on to the french fries and chocolate cake portion of our post.  Last week, Mr. Madley and I made our way (finally) to High Horse, in Amherst where ABC used to be, and where the upstairs has billiards and the downstairs has dining.  Both floors have a bar with a fairly impressive selection of house-brewed beers.  I can't speak much to those, but perhaps we'll get lucky and Mr. Madley will do a guest post for you.  However, I can speak to their locally-sourced burgers -- delicious -- and their bottomless fries -- better fries I have never tasted.  Seriously.  I love fries and enjoyed my fair share of them at Local Burger and other such fine burger & fry establishments; HH fries topped them all.  And if you get them with dinner, they are bottomless!  Hot, crisp, salted, tender -- everything you want in a fry, and you can eat as many as you can eat.  Who could ask for anything more?  Well, sometimes I do.  Not very often, but it has been known to happen.

Last night we were out and about, looking for something to do after dinner (we ate at Miss Saigon) and not feeling a strong pull towards the cinema or billiards (in olden days this is when we would have visited Captain Candy, alas), we ended up looking for dessert at High Horse.  The dessert menu is small and simple, but the bartender assured us that each item was delicious (his must-have is the $5 milkshake, but it only comes with bourbon, so it was a no-go for me), and I ended up, surprisingly, with the chocolate cake.
I don't usually go for chocolate cake when I'm out.  I find them either too sweet, too bitter, too dense, or desperately in need of some lightening up.  I usually take my chocolate with fruit when I'm at a restaurant; I usually find that it's a more reliable combination.  However, last night I felt a tug towards the cake, and it was thusly delivered.  Delicious.  A reasonable-sized portion with no heavy or thick frostings, just a round cake with a chocolate ganache icing and topping of fresh, lightly-sweetened cream.  A chocolate cake I would eat again.  A perfect ending on a cool, damp evening.

French fries and chocolate cake.  Oh, so good.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Harvest Pride

Every year I grow my garden, and every year my harvest is not quite what I think it should be (or what I want it to be).  Nevertheless, every year there are some veggies that are delicious and beautiful and that make me a little proud.  This year, with my new variety of plantings (flour corn, oats, heirloom tomatoes, dry beans), there are more of those little bursts of pride.  Here's one.

Heirloom peppermint tomato, white scallop squash, caserta squash.
I expect that later, you will be seeing corn, oats, and beans....

As I walked through the exhibit halls of the Three County Fair (if you haven't gone yet, today is not too late!), I thought that maybe someday I would enter some of my vegetables or canned goods (or maybe even my chickens!) into the judging.  That could be fun!

Happy  Monday!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Short Visit to Clarkdale Fruit Farms

I've been reading about Clarkdale Fruit Farms on the CISA website for some time now, and they were one of the farms featured in the PBS special "A Long Row in Fertile Ground," which you should watch, if you haven't done so already -- it's about farms and farming in the Connecticut River Valley.
Anyway, last week I finally took a trip to north Deerfield to check out Clarkdale.  This is what I found:

A beautiful, hilly countryside with fruit trees as far as the eye could see.
The season was at a lower point when I went -- midseason for peaches and the bare beginnings of apples.  Nevertheless, I can't visit a fruit farm without purchasing fruit.  So I did.  (More than a week later, there are now many more varieties of apples available, as well as peaches and pears.)

Peaches, apples, and plums.  Yum.

Duchess apples, which I had never tried before, are supposed to be good for pies.  So I took a bag home and made gluten-free Dutch apple pie.

Quite delicious (and the apples held their form quite well).

Clarkdale Fruit Farm produces more than 100 varieties of apples, peaches, plums, cherries, pears, and grapes -- it's amazing!  They have a farm stand and offer pick-your-own apples after Labor Day.  So many fabulous fruits; I wish I lived a little closer to take advantage of all they have to offer.