Friday, April 14, 2017

Daffodils, Tulips, and Doughnuts

Last week Gianna turned seven. The week before I went to the fabric store looking to buy a skirt pattern. I came home with a dress pattern (Ellie Mae Designs, K147) and found myself cursing that decision as I realized how much more work a whole dress - with sleeves, pockets, and buttonholes - can be. I sewed the buttons on at 11 the night before her birthday so she could wear it to school the next morning. She told me it was her favorite gift; "Mom, I knew you were making me something, but this is more amazing than I imagined!" The following weekend we hosted a party for her, 10 of her little friends and their parents. One parent remarked that we should write a book on throwing children's birthday parties. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. We made pizza & mimosas, stuffed a piƱata & stacked store bought doughnuts. Vincent is amazing and wrote up and hid 10 treasure hunt clues around the house and yard. Another parent commented that our house really felt like a home, which made me really happy. I love the saying "Less house, more home" and have really taken it to heart.

As I was sewing, cooking, and tidying I listened to Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco. It is about her time working for Barack Obama when he was in the Senate and in the White House. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I also listened to S-Town which was beautifully told and captivating. I finally finished listening to The Year of Yes and found it inspiring and motivating.

A year ago we started the process of redoing the front yard; building retaining walls, tearing out azaleas, planting perennials and burying bulbs. Now things are coming up and beginning to blossom and it is wonderful! A few plants died in the snow and a few others that I thought had died have come back! What a welcome treat it was to see the Bleeding Heart bigger and better than ever. Last year I was guessing a lot when I was buying plants. Now I know to get a few more Alyssum "Basket of Gold" and to plant more bulbs next fall. The anemones were up first and are still blooming. The squirrels dug up all of the crocus bulbs, so I know not to plant them again, sadly.

It has been quite rainy and still cold at night. This weekend is supposed to be warmer and dry. I hope to plant the veggie starts I started a few weeks ago into the ground. Dean is home sick with pink eye and a respiratory virus, so hopefully he'll feel good enough by Sunday to join me in the garden and do an easter egg hunt as well. Squirting ointment into his eyes 4 times per day for the next 7 days is torture for both of us. We both would benefit from some sun and digging in the dirt, I think.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Winter Warmth in Spring

I'm almost always cold and am constantly seeking out warmth. I always want to sit by a fireplace. Our last house had one and for a while I didn't want to look at houses that didn't have one. I quickly realized that was a bit ridiculous. When we found this house I was very excited to see that the previous owners had put in a stove pipe for a wood stove. They had taken the wood stove with them, but had left the fixture from the ceiling through the roof. Over the next couple of years my husband and I debated whether we had the room for a wood stove. We talked about putting in a fireplace in the corner. We've had so many great conversations about possible changes we could make to this house; it's such a blank slate. 

After having multiple snow days this winter we decided to get one. I picked up a few brochures at a local family owned shop on day in January and that evening it snowed 8". We were snowed in for the next week. We spent that snowy week drooling over those european wood stoves, wishing one was already in our home. We picked one out, only to find out it was on back order. We chose a different one, much smaller, only to hear that not only was it also on back order but it was the 'most popular stove in the world.' We decided to stick with it and wait. I kept calling, trying to get an idea of when it would come in. I didn't hear anything. We were frustrated. Six weeks later, after complaining and complaining, we finally got it. As it was delivered we were told that we were lucky because they're still on back order and the other one they received had fallen off the truck and had cracked. The squeaking wheel gets the grease! I'm so glad I kept calling.

Now it is officially spring, temperatures are warming up, flowers are blooming, and we now have this wonderful wood stove. Neither of us had ever built a fire in a wood stove before and wrongly assumed it was the same as a fireplace. It isn't! It's so much easier. You pack it full of kindling, paper, and dry logs, light it and close the door. That's it. It puts out so much heat when it gets going. I'm actually looking forward to next winter already so I can keep a fire going all day. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sigh, It's Still Winter

Highs and lows of the last few days

Lows: kid stomach flu leading to lots of laundry, excessive tv consumption and parental sleep deprivation, also waking up to snow falling Monday morning.

Highs: kid learning how to puke successfully in a bowl (!), the shelves that Vincent built for the kitchen that make it feel finished, blooming quince branches from the backyard.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Hope of Spring

Tomorrow is March 1st and we are all feeling quite ready for spring to begin. The garden is tilled and ready to be planted. Vincent built that lovely cold frame box at the foot of the garden for me, so I can harden off the seedlings I start inside.

The finishing touches were put on our new kitchen pass through/counter and it is now the most popular spot in the house. One morning I heard the kids get up and I found them both sitting on stools in the dark, waiting for breakfast to magically appear on the counter. We all love it. Now someone can sit and chat with me while I cook. Before, friends would, understandably, drag chairs into the kitchen and, unfortunately, be in the way. Now it's much more inviting.

Gianna has been creating books lately. She staples the pages together and then writes and illustrates them. If she finishes her story but still has a page or two left she adds an authors note, which includes the list of all the other books she has written. It's so cute. Our favorite is called "I Love My Family." In it she lists how much she loves everyone: Daddy to the moon and back, Mom as much as gold, little brother as much as money, the cat as much as a pearl and herself as much as a ruby. I was so happy to see that she included herself. I hope she holds onto that love for the rest of her life.

Last week I read Hillbilly Elegy. It was compelling and well written. I've been listening to Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark which is uplifting, beautifully written and makes me well up with tears frequently because I'm one of those people (overly sentimental) that cries at anything sweet, sad or good: commercials, movie trailers, community parades... I'm looking forward to some serious (non-emotional) escapism with Big Little Lies.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


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?