Photo credit for this & all images below:  Mallory + Justin   / featured on  The Wonders Blog

Photo credit for this & all images below: Mallory + Justin  / featured on The Wonders Blog

A few months ago, very shortly before moving out of our well loved tiny apartment, our beautiful friend Mallory came by with her beautiful camera. She and her husband, Justin, are something of our spirit couple. With more than a decade on us in the 'together' department, it is as if they have already dreamt the life dreams we have; already started intensely pursuing the exodus of Stuff from their lives. Together they are renovating a vintage motorhome + hitting the road permanently as traveling photographers! They will be in quest for mountains, joy, and intention. Let me reiterate: spirit couple. When Mal asked if she could come over for coffee and picture taking in our apartment for her just launched The Wonders Blog, "for all the things we wonder about," we quickly said yes. Her blog is full of magic. No pretense or formula about it. We are honored to be a part of it.

The images Mal took of us glimpse the genuine joy Mark and I are both beholden too. He pacifies me. My fiery heart he cools. Today happens to be his birthday. This particular 24-year old is a man whose life and actions warrant celebration. Others — people, animals, land — are made better because of him. We ought to celebrate more often the things in life that better the world around us. I'll go first.

Because of my husband, my life holds a sea of meaning I cannot describe in word. A meaning so intertwined with his being that when I look at him, I see my own heart; overflowing, struggling, growing, gripping. The deeply in love among you will likely understand this. How blessed we are to hold an honest, young love that will someday, God willing, become an honest, maturated love. A joyous birth day indeed. 

To read + view our interview on beekeeping + where we draw inspiration, visit The Wonders Blog.
To view the images of our mini love fest, head over to M+J's photography blog.




Burlington—or, the idea of Burlington—was our original draw to Vermont. We knew it was a medium-sized city that boasted Lake Champlain, a view of the Adirondack mountains, renewable energy, and pedestrian-friendly streets. We ended up two hours south of Burlington in the rural village of West Pawlet. A better situation, to be sure. The draw to see Burlington withstanding, we took a road trip north with our friends Pete (head farmer at Consider Bardwell, and our boss for all intents and purposes) and Abi (his partner, who is a Nurse Practitioner by day and a volunteer farmer by night). It seems important to mention that they are both entrenched in Vermont's food and beverage culture, rendering them our perfect travel companions.

This particular day trip was, in many ways, the antithesis of our daily existence. We switched from producer to consumer, retreating from the barn to delight in the offerings of charming diners, cafes, and shops. The earthy tones of Vermont's rural landscape were replaced by colorful murals and streetscapes. Our dirty work clothes (and their companion scents) were far, far away. It was wonderful. It was also exhausting. Make no mistake, we savored every bit of it: the world-class beers, the tacos (oh, the tacos...), the record shop, the outdoors stores, et cetera. Burlington offers as much for the day tripper to do and see as any place we have found, doing so on a manageable scale in a breathtaking setting. We are eager to visit again sometime, but not before enjoying some time back in the country. We've included a roundup of our favorite spots, very worth visiting if you are like us.

. . . a roundup of our favorite spots in Burlington

Burlington Records
Boasting a great selection of jazz and blues vinyl. If you are partial to a disheveled, semi-seedy record shop with mountains of $2 records that have gems if you are willing to look (as is our preference), this is probably not the place for you. If you want to find a mint condition Duke Ellington record (like us), stop in.

El Cortijo Taqueria y Cantina
The best "farm-to-taco" joint we never knew existed. With offerings like lengua (beef tongue) and carne (beef shoulder) topped with phenomenal chimmichurri, it's worth $5 per taco. Their draught list includes Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist, two of Vermont's best breweries (HF is the best).

City Market / Onion River Co-Op
A grocery lover's dream come true. With every sort of food, beverage, and apothecary provision you can imagine, it's a beautiful place to find everything rural areas would never have.

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill
Extensive local tap list and a relaxed, clean atmosphere conducive to an afternoon beer. We hear they have a speakeasy, though we did not have a chance to check it out.

. . . and the surrounding area

Fiddlehead Brewing Company (Shelburne, VT)
Second Fiddle Double IPA is, simply put, a damn fine beer.

The Vermont Flannel Company (Ferrisburgh, VT)
The name alone should be sufficient. Head here if you have dreamt of a store dedicated to flannel everything (including flannel fanny packs—flanny pack!?—and $3 flannel scrunchies that you know Sam is wearing right now).

. . . and a bit of a hike away

Three Squares Cafe (Vergennes, VT)
If you were driving south to north, stop here for breakfast. Great coffee (the light roasted, caffeine high inducing sort) and big plates of high-quality diner fare. Bonus: Vergennes is the smallest city in America!




I love beer. It fascinates me, everything about it: the vast array of styles, ranging from crisp, light pilsners to thick milk stouts; the various combinations of ingredients and techniques associated with each, always centering around the same basics—water, malt, hops, and yeast; and the rich history, which includes the world's oldest continually valid food and drink regulatory law, the Reinheitsgebot. Speaking of history, did you know President Carter effectively legalized homebrewing when he signed H.R. 1337 into law in 1978? Needless to say, when it dawned on me that I could brew my own, my first thought was, "Sign me up." 

Now, before I make myself out to be some sort of beer guru, I should explain that brewing beer is actually quite simple. How To Brew author John J. Palmer sums it up best:

1. Malted grain is soaked in hot water to create fermentable sugars.
2. The malt sugar solution is boiled with hops for seasoning.
3. The solution is cooled, and yeast is added to begin fermentation.
4. The yeast ferments the sugars, releasing carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol.

5. When the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide carbonation.

That's it—people have been doing it for thousands of years, literally. Of course, the art & science of brewing has advanced much over the years, especially in recent decades. Without the craft beer revolution that has turned America into Mecca for suds & hop heads, I would have never given any more attention to beer than what is demanded by a bland adjunct lager with fewer than 100 calories (Hint: It rhymes with "mud geyser"). But after years of developing a palate for Berliner Weiss and Trappist Ales alike, touring breweries, and consulting resources like BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, my desire to brew at home became too much to ignore.

Still, it took awhile for me to actually dive in. But with the help of a teacher (pictured below, with beard) and an investor (also pictured below, with flaming hat), I finally did it. We held our inaugural Wayne Co. brew day at the end of January, bottled the beer on Fat Tuesday, and cracked it open just in time for our farewell to Ohio. 

A few weeks in the making (and a few days in the drinking), I would consider our first effort a great success. We brewed an India Pale Ale, the style that made beer "click" for me four years ago. As I will do for all future Down Homebrews, I have profiled "Fat Tuesday IPA" below.

Fat Tuesday IPA

Style: American India Pale Ale (IPA)

ABV: 5.5%

Hops: Chinook.

Malt: Irish Stout, Caramel 60, Wheat, Honey.

Overall: A nice, aromatic, and highly drinkable IPA;
an encouraging first effort. The lower alcohol content
seems to bring out a more distinctive hop & malt character, resulting in a well balanced beer.

Appearance: Pours a hazy sunburst orange; topped with a pillowy, bright paper-white head.

Aroma: Notes of pine and citrus; very hoppy.

Taste: Hop forward, with a juicy, floral character; somewhat spicy, herbal; balanced by rich, toasty malt profile and a bit of honey sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium, smooth; nice, crisp carbonation and relatively low alcohol content for an IPA.




The times are a'changing; and when change comes, it comes in heaps. Last Monday, five inches of snow fell, blanketing Northeast Ohio. Come the weekend, it was 65 and sunny—ripe for a weekend visit to Columbus and soaking up precious time with family and our favorite places (think multiple french presses from your favorite coffee shop, a large pizza eaten on a bench outside, crisp beers in the middle of the afternoon). For the next two weeks, we will be relishing in the comfort of living the same life we've been living for the past year. There will be packing and farewells, and a nominal amount of planning; but mostly we will be enjoying the days ahead. When those two weeks are up, we will be headed for Vermont to work at Consider Bardwell Farm. Then to Greece. Then we reenter the unknown. No jobs, no housing, no regional location determined. Together we'll go, and together we'll fare. 

Speaking of fare. We've been eating copious amounts of bread and hummus. Say what you will about gluten; we don't subscribe. There is no comfort quite like that provided by fresh-baked bread. Mark wrote a guide to our everyday bread recipe, viewable on the Lehman's Hardware blog.

This bread is the lifeblood of our kitchen, and it pairs well with literally everything. Most recently, we have been slathering it with homemade garlic hummus, a signal of all the change to come: the warm months, leave from Ohio, and a return to the Mediterranean diet. For now, though, we will be enjoying it in the comfort of our first home together. A note on the hummus: it's made with a  food processor. We just added one to our kitchen—a most exciting event. We were previously using a brass meat tenderizer to smash the chickpeas. The product was by no means smooth, but it did the job and works well if you do not have the luxury of a food processor, as we didn't for many years.

adapted ever so slightly from My Name Is Yeh

— Cover chickpeas with water and soak for 12 hours, or overnight.
— Once chickpeas are soaked, drain and cover with 2 inches of water in a sauce pot.
— Add baking soda, cover and simmer until fork tender (which was about 30 minutes for us).
— Drain chickpeas and transfer to a food processor. 
— Add tahini, olive oil, salt, cloves of garlic, and lemon. Blend until smooth and buttery soft. Sometimes we add just a little bit of the strained chickpea water to help with consistency.
— Garnish with several glugs of olive oil and oregano, or any herbs that suit your fancy. At this point there's no harm that can be done.

3/4 c. dried chickpeas
6 T. tahini
7 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 pinches of salt
2 pinches baking soda
4 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon