Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow on snow on snow.

Well, we are just having a lovely day here...the snow is still coming down, although much more lightly, and I think we have four or five inches of snow. Todd is sledding on our backyard hill with some of the neighbors, and I am inside babysitting my wheat bread (which is baking right now and smells so good I want to lick the oven door) and intermittently reading one of the creepiest books I've ever read (The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson.)

The snow is very exciting. It's supposedly the most snow this area has gotten in ten years, and we've certainly not seen anything like it in our seven years here.

I tried to run out and make a snowman while my dough was rising, but the snow's too powdery and fluffy. Maybe tomorrow after it settles a bit.

I did take a couple of pictures in the garden and backyard:

Our neighbor Ray came over with his two youngest and you never saw two happier kids. Sledding is so much fun! When my bread gets done baking, I'm going to go out and take a turn myself.

We just have to be careful not to go sliding right on into the creek at the bottom of the hill!

It is bitterly cold out there, and the wind's blowing hard. I wasn't sure what to wear on my feet out there, since I have no tall snow boots, and then I remembered a hazy memory of various moms putting bread bags on their kids' feet when I was in grade school, to keep their feet dry. So that's what I did:

It worked great, too. My feet were by far the warmest, driest part of me!

Lovely roast chicken for dinner, and then Thai chicken soup tomorrow. Life is good. Hope everybody stays safe and warm!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Whipping a small portion of my life into shape is just about one of the most satisfying things I can think of. Even if all else is chaos, at least I can look at one tiny bit of it that I've managed to control.

This week, I took control of my spices. I whipped 'em right into shape.

I wish I had a "before" picture, but I can sum it up pretty well, I think. One drawer full of big and small McCormick-type bottles and a few packets. One cupboard with a completely overflowing wire basket full of little plastic tubs from the bulk food store. And the other odds and ends stuck in front of my flour and sugar canisters in another cupboard, where I had to whisk them from side to side depending on which canister I needed. I had every size and shape of spice bottle/bag/tub you can think of, and every time I cooked something, I spent 2-3 minutes rummaging through everything in search of whatever I needed.

So I took my problem to a "foodie" forum, and someone suggested Alton Brown's system. I haven't watched his show in ages, but basically he puts everything in little tins and then sticks them to strips of velcro inside his cupboard doors.

And voila!

The bottom cupboard door (first picture) has all my culinary spices. The top cupboard door (second picture) has my baking spices and various spice mixtures. Since I had a little extra room, I went ahead and velcro'ed my extract bottles and my toothpick box, too. Since the flours, sugar, brown sugar, etc are in that cupboard, it's nice to have all the baking stuff together.

I had one or two bottles that had more spice than would fit in the tins, but I just put those back into my original spice drawer, along with things like the popcorn salt and the Mrs. Dash and that kind of thing. So everything has a place, and order has been restored. Now to tackle the bathroom...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just a quick picture for those who might be sick of's in the 60's here today, so I'm not sick of winter yet. I secretly wish it would snow about a foot!

But I was browsing through some photos from when we were in the OBX in October and I had not seen this one before. I thought it came out quite nicely.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


My friend Cheryl and I were just chuckling over how we didn't seem to have anything to chat about, because our lives are boring right now. And it's true, my life is pretty boring at the moment.

When I was younger, I used to think it was terrible to have a boring life. Now I realize that there are a lot of non-boring yet dreadful things that could be happening, so it's better to revel in the boringness while you can.

A few things from my boring life right now...

I finally got a nice white fridge for my kitchen, replacing the stainless steel abomination that came with the house. It was impossible to clean, and had black sides, which really sucked up the light in this north-facing kitchen. We took advantage of end-of-the-year sales plus Todd's dad's Sears employee discount and got a great deal on this one. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when the guys arrived with it last week. It's so beautiful!

I have experienced lots and lots of serendipitous moments in my life, and I got to experience another one last weekend when we were visiting my brother's family and stopped at an old grist mill in Dayton, VA. The mill had a small gift shop, and the gift shop sold handmade rag rugs.

I had been looking for a long runner type of rug to put in the kitchen along that stove/counter/sink side where I seem to do 99% of my daily walking. The store had a 9' runner in the perfect colors. An elderly Old Order Mennonite lady weaves the rugs on a loom in her home, and she had made this long rug as a custom order, as all her other rugs are much smaller. The order had fallen through and so she put it in the shop to see if it would sell. And it did! Serendipity!

I'm so pleased to have a handmade rug instead of the typical Chinese thing from Target or somewhere. And for a lot cheaper, too, which is always a bonus.

I have finally, after years of hesitation, journeyed into the world of yeast breadmaking. I found a great recipe for wheat bread on Allrecipes, and I've started baking two loaves every other week. We eat one the first week and pull the other one out of the freezer for the second week. I had been getting more and more unhappy with the wheat bread from the store, and this is so much better, and I'm sure better for us...although slathering it with a thick layer of apple butter is probably not doing us a whole lot of good. Apple butter's good for the soul, though.

I'm starting to scrapbook again after more than a year's hiatus. I pulled down my 2002 album a few weeks ao to look for some phoos, and I was struck by how many of the pictures and the things I'd written about I'd simply forgotten over seven years' time. It really brought home to me, again, the reason I'd started scrapbooking.

And lately, especially since losing my grandpa and grandma last year, I've started to think more about keeping track of the people who are important to you. So I am working on last year's photos, and taking a vow to take more photos this year, and not just of the cute little kids in my life, but of all the grown-ups, too!

I'm working in the dining room, so I have tubs of supplies stacked there...not my ideal working situation, but it's what I've got to work with right now, so I'm making the best of it.

Speaking of people who are important to me, here's what we did last weekend at my brother's house...

Marissa and I faced off in Wii boxing (she kicked my butt):

Natalie Wii hula-hooped:

Tracy cooked us a terrific dinner:

Marissa got tickled:

Jeremy and Natalie got birthday cards and presents (their birthdays are a week apart):

...and we had a nice visit with their friends Mike and Jen and their little boys. A nice quick trip.

So maybe it's not so boring around here after all.

And like I said before, boring is just fine compared with what some people are living through. Like people in Haiti, for instance. I have been promoting Mennonite Central Committee on my Facebook page, and I'm going to do it here, too. These people do so much practical good in the world, you just wouldn't believe it, and they are amassing a major effort to provide relief to Haiti. You can read about what the MCC relief workers who were there when the earthquake hit are dealing's such a devastating thing. I'm sure you've all donated already, but if you haven't or if you have a few spare bucks, think about MCC. They're already looking and planning toward the long-term in Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter sky.

I heard this quote on The Writer's Almanac this morning and liked it:

"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing." -William James.

It was a bitter cold day here--19 degrees when I left the house at 7 AM--and I feel like I never did get warm today. My feet, especially, have just been freezing all day. I do like the clear sky when it's very cold, though--shades of blue and lavender and gray, with pinks in the early morning and early evening. You can see the lines of the tree branches against the light sky, it's so beautiful.

We have a small hawthorne in the front yard that shot up from a dropped seed several years ago, and it has become what I think of as "the bird tree" with anywhere from three to thirty birds on it at a given moment, all perched with their feathers puffed up like little pincushions. Since the tree is completely naked and the branches are very straight and streamlined, the birds really stand out. I suppose I should scatter some seed for them, but then I'd have sunflowers coming up in the flower beds all summer long.

I didn't take the above picture, I found it on Flickr, but it does look a lot like what I see in the neighborhood every day. Maybe this week I can get a good shot of the bird tree, if I bundle up and sit very still on the front porch!

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Why is there an evil genie who compels me, after dropping off an entire carload of crap at the back of the thrift store, to then drive around to the front of the thrift store and go inside and look for more crap? I don't know what his name is, but he is evil!

(I only picked up a couple of books. And a Chinese basket. And two vintage saucers. Hardly anything, really.)

I have been meaning to share these little items ever since Thanksgiving weekend, when Todd and I went to an estate sale in the tiny town of Kensington, Ohio, and I bid on a bunch of box lots.

These were in a small box of sewing odds and ends, and they had an oddly familiar look and shape, but it took me a moment to realize what they were made of. Can you tell?

These little hat-shaped pincushions were made from the lid of a margarine or cottage cheese tub, with a cup cut from an egg carton mounted on top! Covered in fabric, trimmed with braid, and studded with pins.

Now that's frugal.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy New Year! (late)

Starting off my blogging new year with a template that my friend Mimi uses sometimes, from A Woman's Daybook:

Outside my window...Sunny, partly blue sky, partly feathery gray clouds.

I am thinking...about all the things on my 2010 "to do" list.

I am thankful for...a warm house, my beautiful nieces and nephews, my sweet husband who spoils me.

From the kitchen...finished off the last of my Christmas ham/cheese/veggie leftover soup for lunch.

I am yoga pants, blue long-sleeve tee, slippers.

I am creating...the last of my Christmas journal, and hopefully some scrapbook pages soon. Also have a Valentine craft idea floating around in my mind.

I am going...nowhere today. Feels nice.

I am reading...a Louisa May Alcott biography and a Ross MacDonald mystery.

I am hoping...this free-floating anxious feeling will dissipate soon.

I am hearing...the fan, the washer, and my keyboard keys clacking.

Around the house...washing sheets and towels, tidying up, looking at my study with tiredness, knowing it's time to once again clean and purge.

One of my favorite things...Sheldon Cooper, theoretical physicist, as played by Jim Parsons.

A few plans for the rest of the repairs, errands, knocking more stuff off the "to do" list.

A picture I am sharing...for anyone else who's a little tired of winter browns and grays: