Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas hangover

After 5 days of family, fun and heavy food I am feeling like the elf on the right: tired and in need of a nap, fresh vegetables and a glass of water.  Oh Christmas, how we love you.  Five days in a row of cooking, hosting, visiting, gift unwrapping and child wrangling. By today we were all ready to hang it up, kids included.  

The Christmas decorations came down today including Elf Village and the tiny vintage paperboard houses.  That Smoky book mark is getting framed and hung in the camper.

Ornaments were taken off of the tree; vintage spinners, glass beehives, the satin angel that was tacked to the ceiling of the trailer when I was little.

Blankets were folded.  My mother made the plaid one in the 80's and we used it as a tree skirt.  Our oldest has been asking a lot of hard questions about her lately.  I think it would have pleased her to see us using the blanket she made as part of making Christmas special for the kids.

The vintage lead animals and new paperboard barn (Wal-mart, seriously) are ready to be stored.

Doggy Doo has been played at all hours of the day - here at 6:30 a.m.  The oldest played this game on Halloween with his cousins and has not stopped talking about it since.  He unwrapped it on the 26th at my sister's house: "MAMA! I GOT DOGGY DOO!!!!!"  He is so happy about it.  Yep, we've got boys.

My dad found this huge train table at a thrift store for $20 back in October and we saved it away as a Christmas gift for the oldest. it even has storage bins underneath.
 *I* love it.  As in, I play with the wooden trains more than my son does but whatever.  Wow, is it fun.  He already had sme of these pieces but Papa added a bunch to the set. 

I made a Black Forrest cake from scratch for my Mother in Law's birthday.

Bee licked a plate of Christmas cookies.  They were immediately thrown out.

The oldest got a nature exploration kit from his Aunt and we've been taking walks with the compass, binoculars and emergency whistle.

I got this as a joke Birthday gift.  Set it in the bathroom to see what would happen and the husband immediately hid it when company came over.  Dang it!

The little one is *almost* ready to start creeping.  He loves his new Christmas play mat.

But he mostly loves bouncing in his doorway jumper and beating up his older brother.

Today we took the tree outside and set it up by the dining room window.  Then we hung the slices of dried fruit up along with the pine-cones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed.  We talked about how happy the birds would be with their Christmas gift and how it would be a good meal when they are hungry.  I hope to leave the tree up all winter and we can add more bird feed as needed.

We did jump in some muddy puddles.  And kick up some deer bedded down out back.  The oldest knows lots of Christmas songs this year; our favorite of which is "Frosty the Snowman" but this kid insists that the lyrics are "Frosty the Snowbank" who has "two eyes made out of crazy".   I can't even hold myself together when he starts into this stuff.

My nephew took the win for best Christmas gift given this year.  He's 7 years old.  While my sister was wrapping Christmas gifts for my kids he came downstairs holding this little book, his favorite baby book, and said he wanted to give it to his cousins for Christmas.  "Are you sure, honey?" my sister asked him.  And he was.  He thought they would like it and wanted to give it to them.  By himself he came up with this.  This kid.  My nephew is such a little mother hen sometimes that it breaks your heart.    He has such a love for babies and an intuitive sense for things.  My Family and I joke because he likes to come up to me every time we're together and say something like "Umm.... Aunt T?   (pauses and looks to the heavens while deciding how to be tactful)  ...  I think Baby A is hungry/cold/needs a diaper (said in the voice of an adult talking to a complete idiot). It's so adorable.  I think we have a future pediatrician in the family. 

It was a very Merry Christmas. Time to welcome the New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Holiday preps

Oh, holiday preps.  I did a huge grocery shopping trip on Friday.  The baby came with me and was touched/played with/tickled by no less than five complete strangers.  This happens all the time.  I totally get it though, It's almost  always elderly people doing this and when I'm that age I probably won't be able to resist touching strangers babies either.

The holiday cooking is underway.  

We're having family here for Christmas dinner.  I'm making a beef stew (done today) and chicken stew (still thawing the chicken).  Homemade bread.  

The ambitious part is that I've pulled all of the odds and ends out of the freezer to thaw.  Quail, the last duck, the last of the goose.  All of the giblets.  Because my Christmas gift to myself is going to be some fun cooking in a project secretly called "giblets be gone".  The plan is to have a big pot of duck and goose gumbo ready for the 27th when more family arrive in town.  It's the Hank Shaw recipe from Duck Duck Goose.  That stew is so delicious.  The rest of the meats are (hopefully) going to be made into Hank's wild game terrine recipe from the website.  It looks amazing and includes pistachios and brandy soaked fruit. Plus I get to bust out the meat grinder and play with that.  I wonder if I'll have extra ground meat? Maybe it could be ravioli filling?

To balance out effort with non-effort, all of the cookies this year came from pre-made dough.  Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate with chocolate chunks and these little slice and bake sugar cookies from Aldi that got rolled in sprinkles.

Also I've made 2 rum cakes today.

Bee.  Trying to decide what to try to eat off of the counter.

And that thing with the Amish lady totally happened.  Her friend was carrying a Coach bag and neither one of them looked like knock-offs.  Thy were buying fruit punch and frilly pink underwear.  You can't make this stuff up.

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Bee and a baby

 I wrote earlier that I had forgotten how much Bee loves babies. I also had forgotten how much babies love Bee. The baby loves this cat, squealing and laughing when he sees her. The oldest was the same.

And she's a saint. Today the baby was hugging her and chewing on her ear.  Some day I'll tell the tale of how my husband and I found her as a tiny kitten. We were on a canoe trip, a mile from the nearest house.  She was all alone and so small she fit in my hand.  That was eight years ago.  What a blessing for her and for us.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Friday walk

We had a blessing of a day today.  It was unseasonably warm and the sun was out for once.  It was just beautiful.  I was really excited to be able to walk into town for yoga.  It's not far from our home; only 1.5 miles but I walked to my in-laws after so that put me at a solid 2.

I love the small things you find on foot.

Being barked at by an elderly Beagle.

Walking through a neighborhood where someone was apparently smoking pot.  Not just a little whiff either, it was right on main street and honest to God it smelled like someone lit a bale on fire. I don't know why this struck me as funny.

Wind chimes on a quiet street.

A package left by the postman at the door of a house that must have been a mansion in its day.  But the house is shuttered and has been abandoned for years.  The box was just sitting there forlornly.  It made me sad to think it might have been a Christmas gift never received.  

The Catholic school where I went to kindergarten, fallen into disrepair.

The RCA dog sitting in the window of the Historical Society that I've never noticed before.

A joining of two rivers.

Main Street was a stunner back in the early and mid 1900's.

An old mural exposed by a fire.

This sign posted in a front yard.  It reads "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor".  A bright light in these times.

The train museum downtown.  "Stop, look and listen" is good advice for any time.  

I hope to take more of these Friday walks to yoga class and maybe Wednesdays as well.  It was a welcome time to shake off the dust and settle my mind.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Happy adoption anniversary Elyse

Happy adoption anniversary to Elyse, brought home from the shelter 4 years ago this month.  The cause of her adoption was two-fold; 1) she was a birthday gift for me and 2) when Bee's elderly friend Moses was put to sleep Bee went crazy for awhile.  They had been pals since she was a tiny kitten and she absolutely lost her poor little mind with sadness when he died.  We agreed the best thing to do was find her another friend.

Elyse was not adopted for her personality, it was on account of her adorable little perfect mustache. She is so shy and afraid of everything that my husband had to retrieve her from under a piece of furniture so we could adopt her.  When we went to pay the fee to bust her out of the shelter we were told that it had already been paid anonymously so we passed on the kindness by paying the next cat's adoption fees.   We brought her home and she wedged herself under the dryer and hid in the basement for a solid week.

She and Bee became best friends and partners in crime.

She's a total klutz.  She did catch that fish once with her paw but then panicked and fell over backwards.
I have personally witnessed this cat fall off of a pillow.  And fall off the side of the bath tub.

 She's never really gotten her adult voice and still talks in kitten squeak. She's terrified of everything, demanding, sweetly adorable and totally our problem now.

Happy adoption anniversary.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Happy Saint Ambrose Day!

 A fine day to raise a glass of mead; today is the feast day of Saint Ambrose, patron Saint of Bee Keepers.  It is also my birthday.

Let's celebrate with some pictures.

Me and my dad.  First ever honey harvest.

Checking the hives.

In her lifetime a single worker bee will produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.  Her life's work; one twelfth of a teaspoon. 

My grandfather was also a beekeeper.  I remember a story in which my mother was very little and helping him hive a swarm.  She was afraid of the bees, who wouldn't be.  He told her that they were very gentle, to be calm and quiet and not afraid.  And then accidentally dropped the entire damn swarm on her head.  She held still, probably out of terror, but didn't get stung.   

And so it goes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A babysitter for the evening

I really had a craving for a lemondrop martini tonight and we had a big bag of meyer lemons on the counter.  No superfine sugar in the house (seriously, what does that even mean?) but it was sour and delicious anyway.

I might add a bit more sugar next time, honestly.

And the babysitter? 

Bee. Who absolutely loves babies.

Just kidding. This is how he fell asleep but he's now tucked safely in the pack n play.

Happy Wednesday.  There is still laundry to do and a house to pick up. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hello December

Hello, December.  Everyone is starting to get ready for Christmas including this turkey decoy in my parents front lawn that was put out for Thanksgiving.  I made it a tiny Santa hat and scarf and dressed it as a joke.  It was noticed immediately.  

I had the bright idea to make all of our Christmas tree decorations this year as things that would be edible for wild birds; then on the 26th we could put the tree outside and let the birds enjoy it.  "Bright idea" because the oldest is really not into it at all.  Here we are making seeded pine cones.  He just wanted to eat the peanut butter and play with construction equipment.

So far we have a total of 5 ornaments made.  We left them out on the counter to make sure the cats wouldn't try to eat them and so far they've been ignored.

We had a really nice surprise this weekend - a day with the temperature close to 60 degrees.  We all spent the day outside.

My husband worked in the yard, the baby hung out in the stroller and he oldest and I planted every one of these bulbs purchased on clearance.  Around the garage, in the flower bed, around the front of the house and around a maple tree in the side yard.  We can't wait to see how it looks come spring.

Planted up some amaryllis bulbs for the house.

Purchased our gifts for the Salvation Army tree.  Husband and I have decided to do this in lieu of gifts for each other.  I chose two little girls to buy for.  It was fun picking out Doc McStuffin toys and barbies.  I need to drop the gifts off at the library today.

Dropped some books off at the Little Free Library at the township building this week.  The oldest was amazed by the "tiniest library".  He picked out two books.

This dragon book cracks me up and I insist on reading it every day.   It's about a little dragon who is excited to breathe fire on his birthday but the unexpected happens. 

Possibly the funniest thing ever written.

I got an early Birthday gift of sorts.  This was a woods find in perfect condition.  It got scrubbed last night and will start on a peroxide bath tonight to whiten and disinfect it.  This buck must have been absolutely beautiful.  I'm thinking of actually getting a plaque and trying to do a European mount.  Unless we can find the lower mandibles in which case I'll just display it.  Thrilled to have this, it's such a beauty.  I love skull collecting for all of the things I end up learning.  Somehow had gone my entire life without realizing deer have no upper incisors.   If the mandibles show up I can also try to figure out how old this guy was when he died.

Promise not to stick a red nose on it, but not gonna lie, the thought had occurred to me.