View from Will’s Bench & Holiday Gifts

cranberry apple relish

cranberry apple relish

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but before we head into the dead of winter lets take one last look at autumn. The view from Will’s Bench in the fall is glorious. It is the best time of year to visit New England.

Will's Bench Middlebury, CT

Will’s Bench Middlebury, CT

Who doesn’t like rainbows and a pine forest? I can’t help but think of my boy when I see the sun shining down on the water in such a colorful way. He’s out there, casting a line just happy to be. I can almost see him. There is a scent of pine still on his sweatshirt.

the rainbow shot

the rainbow shot

And to the one who always leaves flowers I wish you peace and hope always, but especially during this holiday season. Thank you.

peace and hope

peace and hope

Whew! I feel much better now that I have put the fall season behind us…and you have to believe that I really do actually enjoy the Christmas season. I miss William terribly, but I have to rejoice in the thought that I had his bright light in my life for 23 years. How lucky am I to have loved such a son. And to have so many in my life who continue to love and honor him, too. William is the gift that keeps on giving.

can't have an empty jar

can’t have an empty jar

Do you love a homemade gift as much as I do? Nothing better than a gift from someone’s heart. Homemade means someone has given you their precious time. It can’t be bought. It’s priceless. So, this recipe for cranberry-apple relish was born because I was feeling guilty about simply opening up a jar or can of cranberry sauce and tossing it on the table at Thanksgiving. Pressed for time I just didn’t think anyone would care about cranberry sauce, but the thought of not doing something homemade for such a special event got the best of me. Thankfully, I got it done. The jar was practically licked clean by my guests and my darling daughter announced it was the best cranberry sauce she had ever eaten and could I make more. So I did and so should you.

honey to your taste

honey to your taste

Cranberry-Apple Relish

  • Servings: 2 1/2 cups
  • Print

1-cup water

½ cup sugar

1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries

1 Meyer lemon or medium-size orange, grated zest and juice

1 large honey crisp apple, peeled, grated

½ cup honey

pinch of Alaskan alder smoked salt or finishing salt of your choice

½ cup toasted chopped pecans, optional

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine water, sugar, cranberries, lemon (or orange) zest and juice, apple and half the honey; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring mixture occasionally, pressing cranberries with the back of your spoon against the side of the pan insuring all have popped. Taste and add additional honey to your desired sweetness. (I use the whole half-cup if using the Meyer lemon instead of an orange). Simmer until the mixture is thickened. Cool. Stir in salt and pecans, if desired.


For a nice gift pour into sterilized jars while still hot. Seal and wrap with a decorative ribbon.

15 thoughts on “View from Will’s Bench & Holiday Gifts

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your son! I did not start making cranberry sauce until just a few years ago. I add orange to mine but will have to try this recipe with apples and pecans.

  2. What a peaceful and tranquil spot for Will’s bench. Is that in a public park for others to visit. I would love to go there.

    • Yes, Martine. The bench is located at the Lake Elise nature preserve in Middlbury, CT. It is off route 64 (Main St. in Middlebury) at Judd Hill Rd. (near the Police Station and Meadowview Park). On a nice day it is a great walk around the lake.

  3. Your photographs in this post knocked my socks off. Gorgeous! The view from William’s bench is breathtaking. Glad you are enjoying celebrating the holiday season.

    • Thank you, Nancy. There isn’t a single view from the bench that isn’t spectacular no matter what time of year. I am a work in progress with the photography.

  4. Love this post Lisa! That rainbow picture is amazing. I actually made some homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving…(say whaaaaat???) the recipe is similar to yours and it was delicious! I’m going to try your version though, love it has apple and honey in it!

  5. What amazing pictures. Living in New England, I can imagine that view is beautiful during any season.
    I made the cranberry sauce and spooned a little over baked Brie bites when we had a few friends come by. Cooking kept me busy and focused yesterday. I dreaded having company, but also was looking forward to seeing people as I’ve felt so isolated lately. It’s been hard trying to give my kids some sense of normal, especially at Christmas, since Aidan died. They were happy to have friends here.

  6. So happy you tried the cranberry sauce. I love to melt brie in those little ready made phyllo cups and top with fig jam, but I will try the cranberry next time. This is the hardest time. My first Christmas without William–I had to leave the house and celebrate the holiday elsewhere. It gets better.

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