Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve


New Year's Eve used to mean laughing, dancing and drinking into the small hours with a house full of people. Now it means hiding in the kitchen to drink a beer while Daniel Tiger is blaring in the background and children are screaming things like "He kicked me in the eyeball! ON PURPOSE!!!!"

I promise to have an actual post soon. It's been kinda rough around here lately.  Hopefully 2021 will be better. 


Post script: At 12:01 someone near us set off a group of fireworks.  It seemed to me like David hurling a pebble at Goliath.  I have no idea if the pebble hit and 2021 will be better or not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Snow thaw & Christmas

We had a big snowfall last week. Here are the kiddos making a snowman over the weekend.

And here they are modifying it today. It is 45 degrees out.

My husband and I got tested for Covid on Monday and are awaiting results before we are able to have any Christmas plans. We feel totally fine but feel it's the responsible thing to do since we did see my dad once before he tested positive.  Dad is totally fine and we expect to be too.

I am baking rum cakes and cupcakes today. Tomorrow we will make cookies. The hens are taking a break from laying so we are using eggs I froze in the spring. I went shopping for groceries yesterday, the plan was to have chicken marsala with homemade noodles for Christmas dinner. The State store is completely out of marsala and says they have not been able to get it into the warehouse due to Covid shipping issues. I did not know all Marsala came from Italy. I do now. After some discussion and Googling the gentlemen working there suggested a bottle of sweet vermouth.  So the marsala, like everything else in 2020, will be a make-do parody of normal.  We will see how it turns out.

Here is our tree. It is decorated with dried oranges, a pipecleaner chain, vintage spinners, homemade ornaments, a plastic rosary and some toys the kids chucked into the tree. 

It's certainly interesting. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

December life

My dad found out yesterday he tested positive for Covid.  The most germ conscious, mask obsessed, hand sanitizing person I know. He got tested just to be safe to get together for the holidays and here it is: Congratulations! You have Covid! He has had a small cough and sinus drainage for the last week but that is all. He feels fine. Walks 3 miles in the park every morning.  Frankly, it is confusing. 

So now the oldest is out of school, the husband and I are getting tested Christmas may be cancelled as far as seeing the grandparents. Plus this week we had the Honda towed to the garage as it had broken down in the driveway.

What is it about December? Last year our stove, dryer and car died. The year before that my grandfather passed away and I had a miscarriage. 

What the hell.

Here is our Christmas tree, Decorated with oranges and little crafts the kids have made. There are also some small plastic animals tossed into the branches like a giraffe. I do love it. 

Hard at work cutting the twine.

It's hard finding active things to do to burn off energy in the evening, with the early darkness and the kids cooped up inside the house. Last night we put on their favorite YouTube video of 80's breakdancing and had them make up moves like "the cold penguin " and "the candy cane".  We have also taken them outside with flashlights and glow sticks. Any suggestions are welcome. It's going to be a long winter.

I'm going to go through my pictures from the last two weeks and remind myself that in spite of all of the negatives we are not only surviving but thriving.

Mr. A. and I taking a walk. If I were a painter I would find this picture interesting. 

Upon seeing this on the garden shed Mr. A declared "look mom! It's a queen!" He is so funny. Yesterday he was at the table for lunch and doing that thing kids do where they blow through their lips sending spittle everywhere. I asked him to stop. He said "It's funny!" I told him it wasn't and he retorts "well, it is A BIT funny". I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

The husband and I have been playing Clue every night after the kids go to bed.

And I have taken all of the curiosities out of the dining room barrister case; the skulls, coral, fossils and eggs are all packed away to make room for Christmas Britains.

The idea was to put down cotton batting to look like snow but none of them were able to stay upright so we just went with the trees.

My sister is a huge fan of true crime tv, Law and Order SVU and the podcast My Favorite Murder.  I made this ransom note style postcard to send to her this week:

It was SO much fun.
Here is the back:

It's true, it was difficult to find some of the letters, I could only find an issue of Martha Stewart and one of Food and Wine to cut up. But so very fun to make, like unreasonably fun for how simple it is.

Also on the letter/postcard front I officially have my first penpal since gradeschool. It's a woman I sent a postcard to through Postcrossing,  the hand drawn one of the book shelf, we have a ton in common, she asked if I would be interested in writing. I am. So far it's been fun. She does not appear to be a prisoner or a Nigerian prince or a murderer.  

Mr. H had a Dr. Suess day at school and I drew him a mask.

My birthday was earlier in the month. 41 is a lot of candles.

There was boozy yoga.

Gifts of this adorable clock and a nice pen for writing.

Dinner in. We have been to a restaurant exactly once all year, back in July.

My inlaws got me a really nice Norticware baking pan for my birthday. I made the lemon honey pull apart recipe that came with it. It's light and lovely. 

We've also been getting gifts of food. A friend gave us a very large quantity of a specialty meat last week, they overestimated the size of their freezer. I was thrilled and made 6 lbs of it into jerkey.  We have also received holiday gift baskets from Hickory Farms and a very exciting big pastry/coffee basket from Zabar's in Manhattan. The chocolate babka looks amazing.  It's really thoughtful and means we have to go to store less.

So today we are going to get the kids outside in the snow after lunch. Then maybe finish the Christmas decorations.  It's going to be a different kind of Holiday to cap off a different kind of year.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Writing as Santa, snowtinis

These beautiful postcards came in the mail yesterday.  I love Rifle Paper Company products but they're usually expensive. This pack of cards was only $10 for 10! The style of card is called Large Letter for obvious reasons. It was a very popular thing when cards were regularly sent from vacation spots, it was so fun to find these.  I kept one to frame and mailed one to my dad who is a card collector.  Then I made myself this:

 We had no ice. But we do have snow.

It's a snowtini!

Two snowtinis later I got the idea to post a message on Postcrossing about the cards. 

The replies were interesting.  One person asked if Santa could wish her older dad a Happy Birthday as his birthday is the 24th. One person asked for a card for their child, could I talk about life at the North Pole and the reindeer, especially the one named Rudolph? The other three were from adults hoping that Santa could write them some encouraging words as 2020 has been so difficult.  The cards are going to Slovakia,  Singapore, Germany and Indonesia.  One is also going to my sister's children to let them know the Elf on a Shelf has been reporting back to Santa.

So this is what I will be doing for fun today, minus the snowtinis. Because nobody wants a letter from a drunk Santa.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Snowy December, food, seeds & video

The oldest is having class from home this week, the school is going online for the week after each holiday to give everyone's germs a chance to settle down. So here we are sitting in his room currently learning about baby pandas, I am only here in case of computer issues and have ordered him to ignore me. 

We got a heck of a snowstorm this week, drifts of nearly a foot in areas of the yard. Here we are out in the dark after dinner. Mr. H. was being a snow dragon in his snow cave of pines.

Here we are without the flash. It is nearly a full moon.

Here are some more storm pictures. It really is quite pretty.

Out the upstairs window.

The weight of the snow knocked all the brush down. 

Yikes. You can see how grey it was that day. I think we had two days of not seeing the sun :(

This little hen shot out of the big coop, got stuck in the snow and needed scooped up.


And more sleds.

Last night we had this white bean, kale and sausage soup. It was really yummy.

Leftovers tonight

Here is the recipe.  The picture is terrible because I took while pinned on my inlaws sofa with a sleeping toddler on my chest. I don't remember which magazine.

We have also made Jamie Oliver's chicken cacciatore from his new Seven Ways book. No pictures but it was so delicious it will be on regular rotation. Seriously amazing. Here are the ingredients. 

And because we already miss the sun and the warm and green things here is my big seed order that came today along with my alpine strawberries.  Fingerling potatoes will be shipped in the spring.

And here is a video of Kwazii crowing last week before the big cold came.

Ok, no idea why Kwazii is only showing up as a picture on the desktop version but here is a link to the video too: Kwazii crowing

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving drama

Today was a depressing stinker of a day.  It actually started yesterday when I looked outside around mid-afternoon to see poofs of feathers in the yard. Something had been killing my chickens again, the ones small enough and dumb enough to hop over the fence and go roaming in the yard.  About half an hour later the guilty party came back: a big brown and white hound dog I'd never seen before. But here it was, running through our yard with a chicken in its mouth. Damn it. I like dogs well enough, in theory.  But when it comes down to it I really can't stand 90% of them. And it's not the dogs fault. It's the owners fault. But, whatever.  We used to have a dog and I understand that occasionally they slip a collar or run off, ok fine. Until I looked out the kitchen window at 8 a.m. this morning. and it was in our yard again.  It ran off when I tried to catch it.  I had figured out who the owner was, texted politely when they didn't answer my phone call. When they didn't respond to that either I doubled down with a blistering message about setting up cameras and calling the dog warden every single time their animal was on our property.  They live down the street and we've never met them but I was absolutely livid and boy was it apparent.  So this is how the day started. Yes, I wish I had handled that differently.  I also wish they had kept their dog on their own property. 

I did some baking.  Made tiny versions of the family rum cake and delivered them to a couple of houses.  It was nice. 

Rum cake delivery!

I miss friends. I miss people. 

We tried to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is something to normally look forward to. But this year, between the empty New York City streets and trying to explain to the oldest what the parade would usually look like: thousands of spectators, the noise and the crowds, it had me tearing up. 

This week the oldest had talked about the parade at school, they even made little parade balloons. His was The Grinch.  I told him that it had always been a dream of mine to be a balloon handler in the Macy's Parade. He told me that he would let me hold his balloon. 

Thanksgiving was small, just us at my in-laws. I made this Allrecipes sweet potato dish with onions, bacon and a maple glaze. It was ok but not great. We did have a wonderful,  delicious  dinner where we all ate too much. Afterwards we had a zoom party with my husband's brothers and their families. 

The big deal of the day? When I called to wish my dad a Happy Thanksgiving I was told some Big Family News. My dad proposed to his lady friend and is engaged.  I am a grown middle aged woman who has spent most of her life not having to tease out the nuances of "my mother" versus "my father's partner" . And while I am very happy for him I still hung up the phone and got weepy. In front of my mother in law.

So Thanksgiving 2020 has been memorable. Like, currently drinking rum out of a wine glass memorable.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Cooking with volcanoes & other Postcrossing adventures

Here are the 105 postcards we've received since joining Postcrossing when the pandemic started. They have been a welcome window into the world during a time when we haven't even left our own county for nearly a year. It's been very touching to me to read the messages of total strangers. Most tell stories of their lives and the places the live. Some send extra cards for the kids, paper goods from their hometown (playbills, menus, small calendars). Some have asked for prayers for sick family. Many, from around the world, have encouraged us to vote in the election. We have been congratulated on our new baby. Almost all have wished us good health during the pandemic. 

In this picture we have a hand drawn card from the Netherlands (Miffy the bunny), an Ikea ad card from Taiwan (red with kitchen tools) the home of Beatrix Potter, cards from the Olympic Peninsula and Our Lady of Aparecida (the Patron Saint of Brazil). The card of the lady rowing a boat in rough waters was from a woman who just recently became a U.S. citizen after 42 years in America. The Winnie the Pooh card came from a woman who lives near forest that was "home" to Christopher Robin. The armadillo card came from lady in Texas who told a story about a man who accidentally shot himself while shooting at an armadillo (they both were fine). 

Here we have some pandemic cards, a couple of fabulous "maxi cards" (cards with matching stamps on the fronts) and a card written by a dog. There is a card in the top row from the Aland Islands celebrating World Postcard Day.  The card with the rainbow is from Altotting, Germany, a religious pilgrimage site.  The card above it is from the Netherlands and yes, sorry, the sausages picture makes me giggle. 

Here is a lamppost from Hershey, PA. The bicycle card comes from a doctor in Russia who has 6 cats "all were homeless".  The homemade fabric card came from a quilter in Germany.

Here are 2 more maxi cards and a tiger from the Frankfurt zoo. The shark teeth card came today and was very exciting as Mr. H and I were looking at our sharks teeth last week, now we can identify them. 

Directly to left of it is this card:

Which on the surface looks like a typical US clambake or camp fire meal.

But read the back!

 They are cooking with volcanic heat! Volcanoes, people. You can read about the meal they are making HERE It's a delicious sounding stew. But let's be serious, who cares what it tastes like when it has that kind of "wow!" factor.  I can't even figure out the convection setting on our oven.

Postcrossing is an anonymous correspondence and I won't ever know more about the writer's lives then they share on the cards but it has made the world seem larger and smaller at the same time.

Also it is nice to find something else in the mailbox besides bills and junk mail. And can't we all use a bit of that.