Sunday, February 12, 2017

Budding













It has warmed up about ten degrees and the sun has come out. I think we are experiencing our annual February Fake-out, where I think spring has arrived, but really it's just a tease and there are months of cold and rain ahead. The other day I left the house without wearing a coat and I wasn't cold!

This weekend has been spent mainly at home. Yesterday Vincent and Gianna put the kitchen cabinets back into their rightful place in the kitchen. I cooked a delicious meal of roasted chicken with mustard garlic butter and onion gravy, broccoli and a salad. I hadn't made gravy in years. It was so good and easy. I don't know if I'll ever make a roast chicken without gravy again. Next time I'll serve it with mashed potatoes to catch all that gravy. Last Thursday I baked a Citrus Yogurt cake with a lemon and orange zest glaze. The flavor was sweet, tangy, and bright at the same time. The cake lasted a day and a half, only because I was strictly rationing it out. When it was gone I mentioned perhaps making cookies next and was told that I really should just make this same cake again. Sounds like it was a winner!

While the kitchen was getting put back together (the finishing touches are almost complete on the remodel!) Dean and I were outside checking in on the garden. We weeded and cleared downed branches. I'm hoping to get the soil tilled before the rain starts again. It was so good to be in the sun, breathing fresh air and spying signs of spring. The quince buds and daffodils poking out of the ground are so uplifting. Our cat even enjoyed herself with the catnip plant.

I went to a little community knitting group this morning. It was fun to meet some new knitters and crocheters. We picked up Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise from the library on Friday. It is sweet and I love the illustrations. It would be a good one to add to our Winter/Christmas book stash that comes out of storage each December. Is it strange that I want the fox's sweater?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Let The Sun Shine






Friday morning greeted us with a mini ice storm that cancelled school. Saturday brought a fever for Gianna and an unending marathon of My Little Pony. Sunday brought a contractor who cut a hole in our dining/kitchen wall. We've been wanting to make this change ever since we bought this house. It's amazing how different it feels. The light from the living room is flowing into the otherwise dark kitchen. The various drawers are stashed in the dining room and garage, and the counter top is on sawhorses but it's only temporary and totally worth this little inconvenience. I can't wait to see it all finished!

Before the contractor arrived yesterday I spent the morning putting beef stew into the Instant Pot to slow cook all day and assembling a lasagna for tonight. When Gianna, who didn't eat anything but maybe one saltine yesterday, saw me making the lasagna she said, "Will you please save a piece for me because I just don't think I can eat it tonight." She was so sad and then was delighted to hear I was saving it for the next night (tonight). She is much perkier today and is looking forward to dinner.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Looking For The Bright Side












To be honest, I've been in a funk ever since the election last November. I stopped knitting, found cooking dinner to be a chore, and have been really upset in general. I'm still upset (and don't foresee that changing any time soon based on the events of the last week and a half), however I am also choosing to channel my frustrations into action, no matter how small, and look for the good in life.

How I'm staying informed: Listening to political podcasts such as Pod Save America, Slate Political Gabfest, NPR Politics Podcast, and Face The Nation. Reading as much of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate and The Atlantic online that I can.

How I'm balancing out the potential for information overload which leads to more stress/worry: starting up knitting again, lots and of spontaneous dance parties with the kids to Gianna's new favorite song "Can't Stop The Feeling" by Justin Timberlake, spending more time with friends face to face, embracing the school fundraiser night at the local pizzeria, looking forward to Ryan Adams' new album later this month, and engaging in some fanciful escapism while listening to the Anne Rice classic Interview with the Vampire. I haven't read it since I was in junior high. I devoured the whole series years ago.  Also, lots and lots of cute cat videos.

How I'm taking action: monthly donations to our local chapters of Planned Parenthood (who provided me with years of healthcare in my twenties and thirties), the ACLU and the International Rescue Committee. We also set up a monthly donation to the Neighborhood House, which is a local organization dedicated to "helping low-income, recent immigrant and other vulnerable people overcome challenges so they can achieve success, stability and independence." I think supporting national causes is important, but local groups are just as important and tend to get overlooked, especially when big things are happening nationally. The best news was discovering that my husband's employer will match our monthly contributions. I have been writing postcards to my representatives, urging them to keep up the good fight! Taking my kids to a neighborhood peace march was a great way to spread love on inauguration day while teaching them to support our values (love, peace, equality) instead of simply booing the opposing side. In addition to bringing my own grocery bags to the store, I've gone a step further and have been bringing my own jars to fill with bulk food instead of filling plastic bags and containers. It's such a tiny thing to do, but I love not contributing as much recycling and garbage to the planet. I've also been diligently planning this year's garden. Audrey Hepburn said, "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow" and I agree. Here's hoping for brighter days in the future.

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.