Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Never-ending Snowpocalypse of 2017

A week and a half ago we had an impromptu three day weekend due to ice and snow. The snow was pretty but not plentiful enough to sled in or make a snowman. We stayed in, fed the birds and ourselves (homemade Oreos!), and rearranged the house. Tuesday life went back to our normal routine, but that afternoon it started snowing and snowing. We woke up the next morning to 8" of snow and the kids shouting "This is going to be the best day EVER!" It was still dark. They pulled on sweaters over their pajamas, wool socks on their feet, topped them with boots and went outside to frolic.

It snowed half of Wednesday and stayed cold and clear for the next six days. The last week has been a mix of playing outside, a bit of sledding, more home rearranging, the beginning of a remodeling project, stuff sorting, cooking, tv, books, legos, games and all of us getting sick of being home. Once I realized that the roads were covered in a sheet of ice I abandoned my ideas of fun cooking projects and just focused on stretching the groceries we did have as long as possible. I'm thankful that I bought that huge package of spaghetti from Costco, but I am really ready to take a break from eating it.

In early December, right before a batch of snow arrived, I bought two more bird feeders. I always worry about the birds when it is really cold. We have been having so much fun watching them over this last week. What else are we going to do? We have a set of kid-sized binoculars at both the front and back of the house in the prime feeder viewing areas. This winter we have seen and identified a pair of Varied Thrush, Anna's Hummingbirds, flocks of Bushtits, Black-Capped Chickadees, A Red Shafted Male Northern Flicker, Bewick's Wrens, and Song Sparrows, in addition to the Dark Eyed Juncos, Robins, and Scrub Jays we see all the time.

I've been pouring over the seed catalogs and gardening books, dreaming of spring and summer. I've asked Vincent to make a cold frame for winter gardening. If I had one already and had sowed seeds in the fall I could be harvesting lettuce right now, even in the snow! I'm amazed to see that my kale is still going strong, standing tall in a sea of snow. The lemongrass, however, has turned brown and died.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Winter Light

Our Christmas was wonderful. This year we celebrated by setting the table with my great-grandparent's wedding china and silver, and water goblets my grandparents received as a gift for their wedding. All of those family members are long deceased and it was nice to have a part of them here, with my Mom did exclaiming, "Grandma Lillian would be so offended if she knew her wedding china was being laid upon a striped tablecloth!" Finding my Gramma's card tucked into the dishes, a Christmas gift to my Mom in 1987, was another welcome glimpse into the past. I love being able to host a big dinner here, even if it means Vincent needs to get creative with seating. This year he rearranged the living room and brought in the picnic table to give us enough seating. By the end of the evening, though, everything was returned to its proper place.

We spend the rest of the holiday break mostly at home, reading new books and playing with new toys, cooking, rearranging and paring down. Before Christmas we moved the refrigerator, swapping it with a set of cabinets on another wall, and it has made a huge difference! The kitchen feels twice as big now. It was my favorite Christmas gift.

Right now it is quite cold, below freezing with a very cold wind that makes it feel 10 degrees colder than it actually is. It is bright and sunny, giving the most beautiful winter light. The kids are back at school, Vincent is back at work, and I am happy to be back in this familiar routine. We've added some new classes for the kids, one of which is at our dinner time, so I'm figuring out what our new normal is going to be for those evenings; chili in the slow cooker? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Busy Elves

We've all settled into the extended-weekend-feeling of Winter Break. The kids have been spending their mornings together crafting, playing school, or just doing silly things - see that photo above of both of them bouncing on the Roddy pony. One of them would yell out something like "Eject!" and then bounce the other one off, as they fell into a heap laughing.

I've been making lists (one of my favorite things to do) of things I'd like to accomplish over this two week winter break. This list is in no way comprehensive, just a sampling: rearrange the kitchen (already started!), plan next year's veggie and flower garden, make camping reservations for the summer, teach Gianna how to weave friendship bracelets, actually finish reading a book, start some fermentation projects (fire cider and dilly beans) and other cooking projects, in addition to hosting Christmas dinner. We still have yet to make and frost/decorate cookies, and there's a gingerbread house kit waiting to be opened. And gifts to wrap, more granola to make, and liqueur to bottle...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Birthday Magic

This time of year is very busy (unless the snow forces us to slow down) and it always surprises me. It has been a blur of Breakfast with Santa (an annual tradition), the Waldorf Winter Faire, Scanfair, snow days, popcorn, and freezing while cutting down a Christmas tree.
For Dean's birthday last weekend he chose to invite only two friends from preschool for a perfectly sized party. A week earlier he told me he wanted "a chocolate cake with red frosting, with doughtnuts on top with white frosting and red sprinkles." Whew! I managed to pull it off with no one commenting that the cream cheese frosting turned pink, not red when I added food coloring to it. His birthday requests of pants were fulfilled, plus legos!
The snow returned yesterday. School has been cancelled for today and tomorrow and won't reconvene until January. I *think* I've already finished my Christmas shopping. Fingers crossed. To combat cabin fever I've been cooking, of course. I'm hoping this pumpkin pie, sweetened only with maple syrup, will pass the family taste test. Also, granola-making on repeat...

Update: the pie is a hit! The crust is nice and flaky. If we weren't snowed in I'd be running to the store for some heavy cream to whip. Recipe here.