RSS Feed

Category Archives: Family

Skibunnies and Vermont, but not together

Posted on

A couple weeks ago we took a long (years long!) overdue visit to my brother’s family in Vermont. They had no snow, so there was no snow frolicking to be had, but plenty of nice hanging out. We visited my brother and sister-in-law’s workplaces, which were fascinating. He is at the most stereotypical dot-commy start-up  sort of place ever and she is at a maker space. Which for us meant we all played on the virtual reality set up they had. 2017-01-14-15-09-55
In all the times I’ve been to Vermont I’d never been to Ben & Jerry’s, so on Sunday afternoon we took a jaunt to there.2017-01-15-12-38-13 It was bitterly cold out-just the sort of day for tasting ice cream! The tour is actually very short, so it’s kind of amazing that they have made a tourist destination out of a 6 minute video. It was still quite interesting and the nicest place ever and made me feel even better about the company and all the good things they do. We bought some merch and some big cones of delicious ice cream (Paul had a local to the shop flavor-maple walnut)2017-01-15-13-33-06, took some photo ops,2017-01-15-13-54-14 and then visited the icy graveyard. This is where they have headstones for all the retired flavors. 2017-01-15-14-00-57So many of them I thought, “That sounds delicious! I can’t believe they don’t make that anymore!” and then to cap it off I grabbed a geocache from there and it was a travel bug, so I’ll now be hiding that somewhere in a cache in NJ.2017-01-15-14-04-55  We were also able to visit friends that Paul knows from long long ago. All in all it was a great 3 day weekend.

Last weekend was the weekend of the march, which was on Saturday. On Sunday we all went skiing at Jack Frost with Clark’s Boy Scout troop. I regretted signing up and really didn’t want to go (both weekend mornings getting up at 6, ugh). Despite my brothers both being avid skiiers living in Vermont and Colorado, somehow I got passed over when it came to learning how to ski and I’ve only ever gone once before, not very successfully. To my very pleasant surprise we all had a great time! There was a lesson to start, which was very helpful and fun, then we had lunch. Afterwards we just started going down the slopes. We stuck to PowderPuff and Snowflake, and honestly they were plenty exciting. You could really get up some speed on them and several times I kept thinking about how I was careening down a steep hill and if I fell it would really hurt. But I never fell once! Clark chose to snowboard, which did involve a lot of falling (from everyone new to it, I noticed) but he had a great time with his friends and actually we barely saw him. 2017-01-22-13-46-20Tabby surprised us by being amazing at it. She loved it and confidently kept heading down completely on her own, zooming toward the bottom and ending beautifully at the ski lift. 2017-01-22-13-36-11It was not a very nice day out, but it managed to not rain on us. Clearly all the snow was manmade, and the ski lift ride was not very scenic since it was dirty brown leaves below. 2017-01-22-14-47-00 It was really fun and both kids have asked to do it again (drat! What an expensive day!)

The worst part was the tight boots which left narrow bands around both my legs that were raised into blisters. It’s a week later and the one area still really hurts! Surely that’s not right?

 

Oh, and somewhere in all that we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary to us!2017-01-17-07-34-59

2017-01-17-20-26-42

2017-01-15-13-55-46

A Look Back at 2016

Posted on

It’s time for my favorite post of the year! A look back at the past year. I really enjoyed reading the 2015 look back just now (that stuff was so long ago!)
2015 began with a bang for us-I got a job and returned to work. I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year anniversary of my first day! Obviously it’s been an adjustment in many ways for all of us (including the dog), but overall I’m so happy to be back in the field and very happy where I am. Not surprisingly, many of my hobbies took a hit from this, especially photography and sewing. I thought I’d make it up in the summer, but I didn’t.

In the spring Clark graduated from Cub Scouts and achieved the Arrow of Light. This was a big deal ceremony and we were very proud of him and happy for him. After so many years with the Cub Scout families and events it was a change for all of us to say goodbye to all of it.img_5945 Clark joined a new Boy Scout troop and has liked it very much. It began with going away to camp when summer began and continued in the fall with a few camping trips, some of which Paul went on. The best was a trip to Harpers Ferry W VA. A cool thing their troop does is have their own patch for the Appalachian Trail. You get a pin for each state you hike 6 miles of the trail in and spend a night in. In December both Paul and Clark received the patch with their first three pins on it. So far he has achieved Tenderfoot rank, which I wrote about here because of the embroidery aspect of it.
Meanwhile, Tabby and I continue along in Brownies. I’m happy that I was able to continue on being her leader, as I really enjoy our group of girls. Our troop attended our first “Camporee” and had a great time. It was not so much camping as all of us (including parents) attending an outdoor resort. We stayed in cabins and got to canoe and zipline and swim and it was all a lot of fun (even if Tabby & I were huge babies on the ropes course and got terrified.)2016-06-04-10-59-09
While Clark was at camp this summer Tabby and I took a trip to visit my dear childhood friend, Joanna, and her daughters. We enjoyed our road trip very much and spending time with our friends. We capped it off with an extra special surprise visit to the National Zoo. Tabby adores pandas and to see them in person was very exciting for her (and me!) It was super fun and special.

 

2016-07-01-14-43-41

2016-07-01-14-09-12

After that it was pretty much just summer as usual, until we took our family vacation to Boston. Although I barely posted anything this year, I did write a pretty big post about that trip here.  It was a super vacation including whale watching, art, history, and the big event-Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. mosaicboston
Speaking of concerts, it was a big year of concert going for me and Paul. I wrote about all the summer/ fall concerts here. All told, I went to see the Indigo Girls, Guster, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam (twice!), Weird Al, Kishi Bashi, Band of Horses, The Monkees, Squeeze, The Legend of Zelda (symphony), Pokemon Symphonic, Ben Folds, Ben Folds with yMusic, XPN Fest (Darlingside, David Wax Museum, The Districts), Barenaked Ladies (with Howard Jones and OMD),  Flight of the Conchords, Crash Test Dummies, and Richard Thompson. It was a good variety of music and venues and a great part of the year.2016-09-24-22-37-56

We had one other trip this year, and that was a short getaway to Watkins Glen, NY. We’re not race car fans-the allure for us is the amazing gorge there. We’d been there once before, just to hike the gorge (in the rain!), but this time we stayed in a cabin for a couple nights. It was a lovely relaxing trip that included not just hiking the gorge, but also a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, which was awesome.mosaicwatkins

Our menagerie remains large, but this year we sadly said farewell to Nibbles. He had been losing his sturdy plumpness and got rather thin and then one day it happened. We all loved Nibbles and were sad to say goodbye to him. Nibbles

We also said farewell to my mom’s dog, Sophie. At 16 1/2 years old she had a wonderful long life, but her departure left a hole. Perhaps she’s playing somewhere with her dear old friend, Pippin. In the coop there many additions as well as deaths. Our big President Rooster died, I chased a fox across our front yard who had a chicken in his mouth-she escaped but he came back for her and her dumb friends on the following two days. There were 13 chicks hatched over the summer and it was just baby baby baby peep peep peep everywhere.2016-08-09-13-17-32
Peeping out from Mother Hen
Some babies were nurtured more than others and of the un-nurtured group, who never were taught to go in the house at night, 6 of the 7 eventually got killed. Idiots. Our rooster Baddie was dethroned as the king of the coop by a up and comer young new rooster. Gordon continues to live in harmony with his chicken friends.
Willow continued to grow and mature and although she still eats food off the counters she is a marvelous dog. Although I think we both miss the big daily walks, she is actually very happy to instead have shorter walks in the meadow where I let her run off leash.2017-01-01-15-46-40

There were, of course, other fun days here and there-a Princeton football game, a Princeton hockey game, Tabby performing as Augusta Gloop with her 4H club at the fair, visiting the aquarium in the midst of XPNFest, holidays, birthdays, and fun for me-special days at school. One especially fun new thing this year was embarking on a long term tabletop game with our friends, Liz and Eleanor. We began Pandemic Legacy, which is a very intense game in which we are working to save the world from horrible pandemics. As you play the game you affect the board, actions, and characters (you can kill some) for the duration of the year long game. We are about halfway through and all I have to say is, good thing we’re not the real CDC.

Now, although I did say I haven’t been keeping up with photography, and there’s been a sad reliance on my phone this year and lack of Flickr participation, I did set one photography project for myself that I really enjoyed. Matching the Crayola colors from the 64 box to real life flowers in my garden.

mosaic64colors

I didn’t even keep up with my “Favorites of 2016” folder! Here’s a link to it.

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Now, the elephant in the room. I can’t talk about a year end reflection without acknowledging that since November 9 we’ve all been down in the dumps (well, the adults in the house) and had our beliefs about mankind and the world gravely shaken. I have tremendous worries and concern about the next 4 years, but I will strive to do one small part by teaching my children to show respect and kindness to people and stand up to bullies.  Although it may not feel like it, I know there are still good people in the world and good moments. Would you believe we met another Pearl Jam fan in Boston and kept in touch? I mean, how lovely is that?  And I get to be a librarian again and immerse myself in educating and sharing books with students. And I get to see my children growing up and being smart. And even though I didn’t enjoy my hobbies as much this year, I do have them! And I met my reading challenge this year (read that big recap of my top books of the year right here.) And I have a super husband who is my concert partner and biggest fan. So, that was 2016. Let’s see what happens in 2017!

Anything Else?

Posted on

So anything else from this fall? Let’s see, we went to a Princeton football game and a Princeton hockey game, and had a grand time at both.
2016-09-17-18-15-23
2016-12-13-19-32-35 Hockey is more my speed than football, and as the far less popular sport, it was super cheap and easy to get to for a quick weeknight game. The rink was great and the rows only 6 back from the ice (we sat right at the glass.) 2016-12-13-21-10-12
Clark and Paul went on a couple camping trips with his Boy Scout troop, including a fantastic trip to Harpers Ferry, which included a hike up to this beautiful view of three states. See the beautiful view here and the proud hikers here .

In doing all these scout activities Clark was able to rank up to Tenderfoot at the December court of honor. This achievement made me finally get some sewing in, in the form of embroidery.2016-11-12-19-59-49 The tradition in this troop is that when a boy achieves this rank he receives a hand embroidered neckerchief. Pretty simple embroidery-all satin stitch and the design is printed on the kerchief. (You receive a kit.) Satin stitch is not my favorite, but it’s certainly easy to do and while this was a little tedious I was happy to do it and think it turned out beautifully. (I can only imagine if you didn’t stitch that this would have been extra tedious.)

Congratulations, Clark!

Tabby and I went with our troop to see a Disney on Ice spectacular and that was a lot of fun, too. I didn’t do any other sewing, despite getting that Christmas quilt top finished right before school started. I finally took a day and made the back and yesterday I put it together and began tying it. My hope is to finish tying it today and do the binding tomorrow, thus finishing it in 2016. It may need to be a “finish by the end of vacation” goal, though. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it very much and it will be brand new to us when we pull it out at the start of next year’s Christmas season.

There will not be a Garden Wrap Up post this year because there really wasn’t a garden. I will do my usual Top 10 Books of the Year post, and possibly the big annual look back. In the meantime, I’ll wrap up with a couple pics I especially liked, from a day at a conference.

2016-11-17-12-01-02-1

2016-11-17-12-26-04

 

Happy Fall Holiday!

Posted on

Let’s pretend it’s a couple months ago….
Happy Halloween! I have to say that this year I was looking forward to celebrating Halloween especially now that I work in a school. And indeed, it was super fun to see all the kids in costume and to dress up myself.

The library assistant and I planned to have coordinating costumes (as that had been tradition there, plus it’s fun.) We decided to go avant garde and be two actual books-the popular books in our library, Smile and Sister by Raina Telgemeier. We made the front and back covers be like a sandwich board. Paul ended up doing all the drawing, freehand, copying the actual book covers exactly. 2016-10-27-22-06-56
I used coarse silver glitter to be the sparkly braces. 2016-10-27-21-55-19They looked great and the kids were delighted to recognize their favorite books, and very impressed when they heard that Paul had drawn them (including the barcodes!)2016-10-31-10-24-47

2016-10-31-10-24-58

At home I didn’t wear it trick or treating because it was just too big. Tabby was a spider witch, which was adorable, 2016-10-31-07-40-27and Clark was Link again, except better this time because he wasn’t on crutches. This is the first year that Clark chose to go trick or treating with a friend in another section of town.
and now….
Happy Thanksgiving! We spent a lovely Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s. This year I made a classic apple pie, except it was an apple pie with cheddar crust. I am not a fan of a slice of cheddar with a slice of apple pie not because of flavor, but the texture combination. This recipe solved that problem completely. 2016-11-24-10-27-00The crust was so sharp and short, it was like a delicious cheese straw. It was a delicious contrast and completely complementary to the apples. I also made salted caramel pumpkin thumbprints. A friend made them for the cookie party last year and I thought they were great. Unfortunately, I didn’t love them this time, finding the texture of the caramely pumpkin to be off-putting. I also baked lemon rosemary potato rolls, which are a very nice yeast roll.2016-11-24-10-26-14

Since we had ample time, we also went for a damp drizzly hike in the Sourlands. Since Clark has done a fair amount of Appalachian Trail hiking with scouts this fall, he’s been eager to show us just how great he is at it, which was nice. 2016-11-24-11-48-03

Here’s a picture of me and Tabby in front of the one last tree with leaves on it, a striking yellow in a forest that was now bare.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn Happenings, Pt 1

Posted on

Happy Birthday, Tabby! Say, what? But it’s December 30. Yeah, that’s right. I’m writing backwards to do a couple of posts about events and things I would normally  have written about. And as much as I’d like to say, “aww, I’ll skip it, who cares?” I’m not. Because I care. I can’t tell you how many times over the past 8 years I’ve wanted to remember something I sewed, or cooked, or planned for an event, and I’ve been able to search my own online diary and had a wonderful sentimental time remembering it. So yes, better later than never!img_7450

This fall seemed to fly by incredibly quickly. It turned out to be a bigger adjustment for me personally than the adjustment in February of going back to work. Because it seems that I really really loved autumn when I was a stay at home mom. Taking the dog for long regular daily walks, enjoying photography as the world around me changed colors daily, baking at the best time of year with autumn spices and flavors, apple picking and canning, and putting the garden to bed. I loved all that and really, really missed it this year. This fall seemed to be mostly going to work, working on my horrible class that I had to take, for the first half of fall it was soccer and field hockey practices and games for Tabby, a return to regular Scout meetings for everyone, plus a return to 4H meetings for Tabby. It was a lot going on. That said, it wasn’t horrible. My photography fizzled to just phone pictures and Instagram, but hey there were still great pictures! (and yes, some are sideways, but I can’t be bothered to find the original, edit, save, and then redo the mosaic.)collageautumn16

And while we didn’t go apple picking, we made sure to go to our annual “How Tall This Fall” farm spot.2016-10-30-16-20-28

And no, we didn’t go pumpkin picking, but so what? We still loved carving the ones we got at ShopRite.2016-10-30-18-44-26

And of course, we had a wonderful birthday celebration for Tabby. This year she decided to go with a Halloween theme and we put together a great party. Paul and Clark were off on a Boy Scout camping trip (there were a lot this fall, including an amazing sounding trip to Harpers Ferry WV) so that left it to me and Mary Lynn to be the party hostesses. img_7465We planned Twister, eating donuts off a string, freeze dance, a craft, and a movie  (because we foolishly set the party length astonishingly loooooong.) There were also tacos (because Tabby, like her mom, likes to be different and not offer the same old pizza), “mummy wraps” (pigs in blankets) and a beautiful (and easy to decorate) cake.

2016-10-22-14-36-31

Her actual birthday was two days prior and we celebrated as usual at home, with a special breakfast (albeit a bit hasty this year), and a nice dinner of the birthday girl’s choice (macaroni & cheese, just like last year) that night. The cake was one I’ve done for both Paul and Clark’s birthdays in the past-a cookies and cream cake, which is so light and heavenly.

 

 

Spring Break

Posted on

We’re just finishing up a whole glorious week off for all four of us. Although I like my new job, I really really enjoyed having a week off. Paul took the week off as well, and although we didn’t travel (like we did to Denver last year) we made the most of it, combining outings and at home fun, and are now both thoroughly relaxed, and also tired out.

The vacation began with Easter weekend, which unfortunately included me doing a major assignment for the class I’m taking. But it was still a lovely weekend and we had a very nice Easter, spent with my mom. I made two things for the dinner-hassselback potatoes (I feel like that’s trendy because I see that word all over the place), which were Yukon Gold potatoes sliced mostly through, roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper, and then tossed with butter and fresh chives. They were delicious. Roasted Potatoes//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js From my great Joy the Baker cookbook I made whole wheat biscuits with goat cheese and honey. They were a drop biscuit baked in a cast iron skillet in the oven and they came out great. Next time I would add the goat cheese later than she suggested because I would have preferred chunks of it, rather than how incorporated it was. These were a nice addition to the table. Drop Biscuits//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

And of course, our morning began with a glorious egg hunt. The E.B. was more ambitious this year and hid many more eggs outside, all over the yard. Happy Easter//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The holiday weekend done and the assignment submitted, it was time to get down to fun. Although we just puttered around at home on Monday, we did end up going out to lunch to a new-to-us pizza place, that was a wonderful discovery. Paul, Tabby, and I took Willow on a great walk and found four new geocaches, something we haven’t done in a long time, so that was awesome. Tuesday we went to the Turtleback Zoo, which is charming.chillin//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIt has really changed a lot since I was a kid, but it’s still small and very accessible and we had a nice time. Paul was delighted by the sting ray touching because they were (seemingly) downright affectionate to him and were repeatedly rubbing against him. The stingrays were exceptionally friendly. Like water cats//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsAfter that we went to a family favorite destination (since we were pretty close)–Ikea. Yes, that’s right. We went to a store for our vacation. And spent as much, if not more, time there than the zoo. It might be weird, but eating Swedish meatballs in the lovely dining area with my family is definitely a “happy place” moment. (We were in the Paramus one, so no watching airplanes take off, also at 2 o’clock on a weekday it was marvelously deserted and calm.) We had a grand time getting an inspiration for our tiny bathroom and getting many other things. And best of all, the next morning we assembled/put everything away. So prompt!

Wednesday afternoon we headed down to the beach, despite it being fairly chilly and windy. I like a good walk on the out-of-season beach and thought it was great to be there.(I feel compelled to point out that the wind is making my jacket blow up, plus I had on a down vest under my jacket. )//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js(Please note that I look enormous due to not only the wind, but also wearing a down vest under my jacket.) Tabby also enjoyed it, Tabby @ the Beach//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsthough Clark was so cold he just stayed in the car. His loss! We did persuade him to come out for a brief photo. obligatory family portait//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI love sitting in the sand and just looking out at the ocean. And even though it was cold we got ice cream from our favorite place, Nagle’s. And then followed that all up with a spontaneous visit with our cousins.

Thursday was the biggest outing-we drove into the city to go to the American Museum of )Natural History. The kids had been wanting to go and I was really eager to see the brand new Titanosaur exhibit. It was indeed enormous (122 feet long) and of course the rest of the museum is wonderful too.Good old AMNH//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI love the dioramas so much. We love the movie, Night at the Museum, and were tickled to see that the big Easter Island head statue is now enjoying some movie related fame. There was a whole crowd waiting to take pictures with him, and everyone exclaiming “dum Dum!” Us included. You have gum gum, Dum Dum?//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsClark asked if the museum is famous in other parts of the country and I always assumed it was, but maybe not? Does everyone know about the gigantic blue whale? The dioramas? This museum is definitely a treasure and I’m happy that I can take my kids there as my parents took me. Good old AMNH//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Friday we wrapped things up with a nice lunch out at the Cuban restaurant that Paul and I went to on our very first date, nearly 14 years ago.  And scattered throughout the whole week there was eating out, Tim Horton’s, movies at home, playing with friends, and even a little sewing for me (which, boy, did I realize I’ve been missing.)

And now the house is a bit messy and we are nowhere near in a state of mental preparation for return to work/school tomorrow! And meanwhile, spring is looking gorgeous-everything is flowering and bright. We haven’t planted peas yet and we are thinking of deconstructing our raised beds. There just wasn’t time to do everything this week!
Oh that bright pink!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Spring Celebrations

Posted on

This weekend we had two special events-my mom’s birthday and Clark’s Arrow of Light ceremony from Cub Scouts.  The latter was a pretty big deal-he started Cub Scouts in 1st grade. He’s continued on and is now moving on to Boy Scouts.Arrow of Light//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWe’ve had a lot of fun with other families in the pack, camping and other crazy events, and Paul enjoyed being the Cubmaster for the past 2 years. Lots of great memories were made, so this farewell was bittersweet. It was quite a ceremony and as the boys walked over the bridge they were welcomed by their new Boy Scout troop. Clark is quite excited to join his new troop and looking forward to good times and making new friends.IMG_5945

2016-03-04 19.40.58

My mom’s birthday was also this weekend and I always see it as a sign of spring and enjoy coming up with a good menu for a special birthday dinner. I made cherry chicken spirals (chicken with cherries and some other stuff, rolled up), rice pilaf, asparagus, and a delicious salad of Boston lettuce, red onion, and avocado. Of course it’s really the cake we were all looking forward to. Happily my mom likes coconut, so things for her are always a good opportunity to make coconut things.  I made the Tropical Carrot & Coconut Cake from Baking by Flavor. Happy Birthday, Mom!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js I had not made this before and it’s definitely a keeper. Super delicious. The cake had shredded carrots, coconut, and crushed pineapple in it. Happy Birthday, Mom!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsEven better it had lots of fresh nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon it. So much that those flavors really came through. There was even a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg in the cream cheese frosting. The frosting was delicious, though there was a lot of it. Actually I thought this cake would be fine with just a little powdered sugar on top. Happy Birthday, Mom! Happy Birthday, Mom!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The final spring celebration was the now annual Midwinter Stitchathon with Liz and Eleanor. This lovely event is an afternoon spent stitching, watching tv, and eating special snacks and seasonal candy together. Midwinter Stitchathon//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThe menu this year was tea brack (an Irish tea cake with lots of dried fruit and demands to be eaten with butter), apricot turkey pinwheels (forever known now as “Yoshi Wellingtons”), cherry cola cake, and, as always, carrot dip and prosecco (not mixed together. Carrot dip eaten up with pretzels, prosecco guzzled down.)
Midwinter Stitchathon//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Midwinter Stitchathon//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
My stitching project is an embroidery pattern I’ve had a couple of years and have decided would be just the thing for when I have a little time to want to do something stitchy. I actually went and bought all the suggested color flosses for this. Midwinter Stitchathon//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIt was a grand time! And, oops! This is indeed quite a catchup. I’ll also mention another special event-the Father Daughter Dance for Girl Scouts. Tabby was so excited, felt so glamorous and excited to be going with Paul to this dance. It was a lovely event for them. Father Daughter Dance 2016So many special events!

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js