Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Short picture post

Winter is here.
Just two photos that I thought were lovely.

Tonight's sunset from the upstairs bathroom window.

And brass bells still hanging in the old lilac tree.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Snow, crafting

The weather turned and we've had nothing but snow, ice, freezing rain and high wind.

It's cold, wet and depressing.

Someone really should have picked up all the junk in the yard.  Maybe it will snow more tonight and just cover it all up.

We've been huddled inside, watching shows, crafting and cursing the weather.  Fair warning that the following pictures are quite awful due to the low light and my inability to edit. I mean , really bad.

The oldest has been making characters from the Netflix show Rescue Riders.  It's an animated show about Vikings and dragons and it actually quite fun.  We use a lot of tape and construction paper around here.  Probably enough construction paper to account for an entire forest.

Hangers for all of his Superwings planes.

And this Dinobots school house which Bee has claimed for her own personal appartment. 

We've been watching shorts on the Smithsonian channel about anoles. They're small lizards that live in wild in the southern U.S. and are kept as pets.  I remember seeing them climbing on the side of my Great-grandmother's house in Alabama when I was small.  The oldest is obsessed with the idea of having one and my husband and I have considered this as we both had them when we were little.  As far as workload, these small lizards would be somewhere above a fish but not nearly demanding as a cat.  Plus I think it's really intriguing to see the pictures online of people who have made beautiful terrariums planted with orchids and air plants and such.  We will probably not spring for this because the oldest doesn't want them to look at and observe.  He wants "a snare on a stick so I can catch them like a scientist!" and then conduct experiments to "see how high the different species can jump!" So, um. No. 

An anole lizard.

We did get out a small tank and get it "ready" for an anole: we made shredder paper bedding, added sticks for climbing, a "toy" plastic snake and a background.

There was an afternoon where we pressed all sorts of plastic toys into fimo clay to make "fossils".  We baked them and then painted them.

The youngest was given a goose feather and a paintbrush and mostly just painted his hair green.

Here's what I've been up to:

My dad recently gave me these two vintage glass domes.  They are lovely.  He thought I might want them for my curiosity cabinet.  But instead of filling them with feathers or skulls or other oddities every time I looked at the taller one all I could imagine was a flock of tiny Budgies.

Thanks, internet picture.

I flipping' love budgies.  They're so pretty and adorable. So I decided to make some out of fimo clay.

Half done.  I need to finish them and then figure out how to make a tiny tree to perch them on inside the glass case.  Working with fimo clay has been a lot of fun.  

Here they are at an earlier stage.

The sculpting was easy, I learned to bake the figures in a bed of baking soda so they would keep their shape and not sag.  They've been mostly painted with acrylics but then the details done with colored pencils.  I'm not sure about sharing pictures of them half-done but it's such an unexpected treat to have a project to get excited about. 

Well, that's it for tonight.  I'll probably work on the budgie flock after the kiddos have gone to bed. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Homemade doughnuts

Today the oldest and I made homemade doughnuts from the Magnolia Table cookbook. 

I remember my grandma occasionally making doughnuts on Sundays. Here we are using her measuring spoons, cutting board and biscuit cutter. Not the yellow plastic thing, that's a playdoh toy. I couldn't find anything else to cut the centers out with but, hey, it worked.

Here they are frying in my great uncle's cast iron Dutch oven.

And here are some of them after we all attacked the platter. The recipe made a dozen as promised. They were hands down the best donuts I've ever had, cost about a dollar and were made in an hour.  We made plain, powdered sugar and maple glazed. The glaze used up the last of the maple syrup that I made in the spring.

Homemade doughnuts are absolutely going to happen often here. Our waistlines thank us.

Magnolia Table is such a fun book. I had borrowed it from the library and, while not cooking anything from it then, enjoyed reading it so much that by the time I remembered to take it back we had a library fine of $7. After so much Jamie Oliver cooking it was intoxicating to read terms like " Hellman's mayonaise,", "Jimmy Dean sausage" and " Velveeta cheese" used over and over. So Santa got me a copy for Christmas and I am very happy.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Warm days

The weather has been so odd this year. Just three days after it snowed it warmed up again, and how. Today the temps here reached 64 degrees. Tshirt weather.  It did sprinkle rain all day and the sky was one big grey blanket but who cares. It was warm.  It's a bit disconcerting that we haven't actually seen winter here yet. We have a hen that is trying to sit on eggs in January. Crazy.

Some of the houseplants went outside today for a little vacation.  The cats both shook the dust off of themselves and climbed trees.

The kids and I took a long walk all around the property.

Looking at this photo it is not suprising that the oldest came home with a tick. Yuck.

He's quite the outdoorsman. Always wanting to blaze a trail through the thickest of brambles and brush. I'm happy to teach him how to navigate these mazes like my dad and grandpa did for me when I was little. "Step on this thorn bush with the side of your foot. Here, I'll lift this bramble up, duck under it".

 We were stuck in the middle of a bramble patch, him, the baby and I when it started to rain. "Don't worry mom, it's just a little rain" he said. Yep. No big deal and well worth the price of being out in fresh air. Oh be still my heart.

We have a buck that visits this pine pretty regularly to rub his antlers. 

It was a good day. We jumped on the trampoline, played soccer in the yard. I think tomorrow we'll go for a long walk and maybe make donuts from scratch.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A bit better every day

A picture just to remind us of summer...

Because this morning we woke up to this:

Winter finally came.  The snow is swirling outside the window and it feels like being inside a snow globe.

Things are good around here.  For whatever reason I've felt very relaxed and content the last couple of days. It's a strange sensation.  Since New Year's I've been trying to be a just a little bit better to myself and our family every day. A bit kinder and more patient. Counting blessings on my fingers before bed (10!). Doing a bit of yoga at night, taking a hot bath or god forbid eating a vegetable. Putting more of an effort into the house although it's still mess most days. Purging things we don't need and downsizing.

This shelf of spices was stuffed before I went through it.  There were some amazing discoveries including this jar of lime leaves that expired back in 2013

Wish I were joking but no.  This whole cleaning spree was actually prompted by the night that a mouse got into my baking cupboard.  This happens every winter so I have learned to decant everything into a glass container before it gets stored in there. Still, there was a mess to clean up. Turns out the whole house benefited.  Yes, I caught the mouse.

It feels a bit like pushing myself to blog today about something,  anything just to get back in the habit of writing down thoughts. Hopefully this is what I need to shake the dust off and get back into the swing of things. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Holiday recap

The little one was stunned at 6:30 a.m.
We let everyone else sleep until 9.

After what seems like a month of solid visiting; 4 birthdays, family in town, multiple Christmases, we are all just done with holiday cheer. It's been a complicated month even without the holidays; the stove died, we were all sick, the geese went on a rampage and killed the ducks and now our main vehicle is in the shop too. And I think I've gained 10 lbs from eating my own weight in cheese and cookies

 Duck killers. On the bright side one of the ducks is in the freezer. I guess that's a bright side.

It's been an odd December. Looking back, december is usually a weird month here.

It's been really warm for the most part. The oldest and I spent an afternoon planting bulbs.

And the new rooster has proven to be an absolute gentleman. We've named him Kwazii after the character in Octonauts " a daredevil cat with a mysterious pirate past."

We've been working on our yoga poses.

The Christmas decorations are down. Our days have been spent crafting, playing outside and cooking. It's been a restful time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve. The youngest is teething and has croup again. The oldest cannot understand why we can't put the carrot for the reindeer on the roof. 

I am so excited. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Homemade lemonade, Christmas lies and other stuff

This afternoon the oldest and I made lemonade from scratch which we've never done before.  We used this recipe to get the job done:

1 3/4 c sugar
8 c water
1 1/2 c lemon juice

Of course we only had three lemons so I ended up squinting into the distance while trying to divide fractions in my head.

After using the hand juicer we got out the vintage Juice O Mat to get the rest of the juice.


What else is new?  Well the week before last our stove finally went kaput.  I been in the habit of using the oven lock as a safety feature so the kids couldn't get the door open.  Because ovens can be damn hot and because I personally once worked with a woman whose child died when they climbed on an open oven door in an effort to reach a cookie and the stove fell on them.  So every time the  oven was on it got locked as well as most regular times.  Then the lock started sticking but turning the stove off and unplugging it was usually enough to re-set it to get the latch back open.  Until the day when I made meatloaf for dinner, put it under the broiler to finish and threw the lock.  It stuck.  And was still stuck 24 hours later when we got out the tools and took the top off of the stove and pried the door open to rescue my mom's Dru casserole dish.  We really can't complain, the stove came with the house and didn't owe use anything.  But we had to go directly out and buy a new one that week.  Which is nice in a lot of ways but seems to take 3x as long to heat anything. Yes, the anti-tip feature was installed too.

It came packaged inside the best toy either of the kids have ever seem.  Both kids (and both cats) are in love with the box.  It's large enough that both kids and I can fit into it along with Bee and read books.

Christmas baking has been thought about but hasn't started.  The fruit for the fruitcake has been soaking in brandy for three weeks now.  It won't hurt anything and might actually make a better cake.

The oldest has been busy making this garland chain for the tree out of pipe cleaners.  The youngest has stripped all of the ornaments of the tree as high as he can reach.  So the tree is heavily decorated at the top and nearly naked for the final two feet.  It's charming, really.

Cards have been sent out and gifts mostly bought. Husband and I haven't bought anything for each other and would be fine doing without (see: stove story above).  Last year we picked one $20 gift each and he got me a yoga bag that I still use twice a week and love.  This year neither of us want for anything.  But it seems like he and I should have something under the tree to keep up the Santa story.  Initially I didn't even want to do "Santa" because it just seemed like commercialism with a weird "the big man is watching you" overtone plus flat out lying to kids but then I realized that my kids get excited over things like new socks and I lie to the oldest regularly anyway.

Yesterday I told the oldest that this is where one of the cats had made a snow angel in the driveway. 90% true. 

I have also tried to convince him that snowflakes are frozen penguin toots that have come down from the North Pole. 100% b.s.

And so on.  God knows what he tells people at pre-school.

Who's mature around here?  Certainly not me at 40.  My wonderful husband organized a birthday party for me last weekend and it was great.  A big thank you to everyone who traveled to see us and make it a special day.  I had so much fun.  Really, thank you so much.

So tonight the oldest and I are going to make egg noodle pasta for dinner with meatballs and garlic bread.  We will cook them with the new, expensive-for-us stove and then probably pop popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.  I will keep the immaturity to a minimum.  The husband and I will discuss gifts.  Tomorrow the oldest has a Christmas program at his pre-school.  Last year "Santa" made a surprise visit at the end so it will be interesting to see his reaction. Life does get more fun every year.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Best dinner

I will take medium rare venison over the best cut of steak any day. Thank you, friends. Thank you, doe.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Oh, Christmas tree..

... now shedding needles all over floor. We love it.

It's so pretty.  We are using a plaid blanket from an estate sale for the skirt, Elyse loves to sleep there. And drink tree water.

Harvesting the tree from the local TSC. The oldest picked it out. Next year we'll do a tree farm

Dehydrating the fruit.

Pondering the possibilities.

It's really pretty.