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Category Archives: Winter Fun

Snow Day!

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Snow Day!This week we had our first, and likely last, snow day of the year. It was so strange because Wednesday was incredibly unseasonably warm (62 degrees in February?!) but we knew snow would be starting overnight and the temperature plummeting 30 degrees. We were all thrilled to have the snow day announced even before it started snowing so we could turn off our alarms and sleep in. This is probably the first snow day I didn’t feel the need to go outside and actively enjoy the snow. Instead it was all about being cozy and doing all cozy snow day things crammed into one day. And that, of course, involved many special snow day meals. It all began with blondies made the night before. For Christmas Paul got this enormous bar of milk chocolate from Trader Joe’s. Truly enormous. Pounds worth. I shaved off some of it and folded it into the batter and oh my, it was perfect.
Snow Day Menu
Snow Day breakfast begins with an option of ice cream, a fun tradition from our friends. I didn’t want any, but both Clark and Tabby had some. Atop their delicious homemade waffles.
Snow Day Menu
Afternoon saw a favorite winter special lunch/snack that I haven’t done yet this year (even though this item requires planning in the summer and canning of the salsa.)–Nachos. A great big tray of them.
Snow Day Menu
And for dinner we had homemade pizza, including one big one made with homemade meatballs which had been in the freezer tantalizing labeled “homemade meatballs in pizza sauce-put on pizza.” Basically, opening up the freezer and seeing that bag so often made me want to make that.

It was a double feature day-Groundhog Day and Iron Man, both of which were well received by the kids. They were really delighted with Groundhog Day, which pleased me very much because I love that movie and hadn’t seen it in a long time.

I also read a book, which was wonderful, and it felt great to just spend the morning on the couch in my pajamas reading it right through to the end.

All in all, it was a wonderful snow day!

In other news: our new furnace installation is almost done and PSEG has connected us to the gas line (two days of digging because apparently everything is solid shale.) We have not had heat (from a furnace) at all this winter, making do with our extremely hard working fireplace/blower. For the most part it has kept us plenty warm, but I can’t wait to be able to just turn on the heat.

In saddest news (this is called burying the lead because I didn’t want to do a whole post about it), our darling cat Sweetie is gone. I can’t say died because we don’t know what happened to her. She was just missing. We’re assuming she stepped outside (our front door doesn’t have a good latch and there’d been a lot of going in and out with firewood) and the door closed behind her and she was frightened and darted off. Two people in the neighborhood said she saw her, but we haven’t. We’ve done everything you do to get a lost indoor cat back, but to no avail. (I still can’t believe we couldn’t trap her in the havahart with enticing wet cat food–we did end up trapping the neighbor’s barn cat both in there and in our garage.) I know everyone thought Sweetie was our unfriendly cat, but she was extremely affectionate and loving with Paul and me. Her purr was so noisy and enthusiastic, she loved being brushed and petted, and although the love was not completely returned, she adored Liesl.2016-12-21-22-18-38 I hope with all my heart that I’m proven wrong and get to write some amazing story of her return weeks after vanishing, but I don’t really think that’s going to happen.

In other animal news our flock has a dangerously and annoyingly large number of roosters in it. SEVEN. Seven! It was six, but get this-some jerk snuck a rooster into our coop when we weren’t home! That was not cool to make it be our problem. He is extremely handsome and seems happy to be with us (he’s the big white one),The Chicken Apartment but the days are getting longer, spring is coming, and the young roosters are getting randy, which means fighting.
The Flock
This past week I celebrated my first anniversary at work. It’s been quite a year of changes, adjustment, good days, and bad days. It was a pretty fast year, I have to say, and I’m still so happy to be there.
Sugar cookies

A Petition for more Sundays in January

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Wouldn’t it be nice if there could be more Sundays in January? More glorious afternoons with that incredibly bright sunshine reflecting off the white snow? Perfect light for working on sewing, perfect light for feeling happy and relaxed and cozy. Or perhaps I would just like the hours between 12 and 3 to somehow actually be 5 hours long.White Snow Bright SnowAhhh, well. At least this past Sunday was like that.  After how much I enjoyed my year end posts and look back at 2016, I resolved to get back to writing a bit more often here. I do like to start the year thinking of some resolutions and I do have a few in mind this year. I acknowledged when I started my job last year (almost a year ago!) that I would probably need to cut way back on, if not give up, several of my hobbies. That did prove to be true. But it also proved to be unnecessary. I found that I really, really, really missed my creative outlets. So, I have resolved to spend less time on Facebook, which is not very rewarding, and more time back on Flickr, which is. To take out my regular camera on the weekends and take some photos of things I like (even if I’ve taken them every season for the past several years.) Saturday it snowed and was dreary and cold all day long. It made for the coziest of evenings, including making homemade hot pretzels and of course watching a movie. Sunday the clouds cleared, the snow stopped, the temperature plummeted and it was a proper winter day. Hello Winter!Also resolved, without specifying any projects (even though I’d dearly love to do a seasonal mini quilt series to hang in the kitchen), I am resolving to regularly work on sewing/quilting/embroidery projects.

With that in mind one of the things I did on that perfect January Sunday was buckle down, finish tying all the knots on the Christmas quilt, cut and apply the binding. Now all that’s left to do is the hand stitching on the back (which I actually like doing) and a cute applique with my signature (it’s going to be a Christmas tree.) Sweetie grants her approval of this plan.Wave hello

Blizzard!

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After a couple of months of moaning about the lack of wintery weathery-no snow, too warm-I was rewarded with a full on blizzard this weekend. It’s like all the snow was saved up for one day-on Saturday we got almost 3 feet of snow! And what a day it was-snow swirling in all directions, dark skies, howling winds. I felt very pioneer like when I ventured out to check on and secure the chickens and rabbit. I can see why in Pa Ingalls’s time they would tie a rope from the barn to the cabin. When we awoke there was already an accumulation of about 6 inches. We suited up and went out into it, not just to take care of the chickens, but also because we couldn’t wait to see what Willow would think of it. There were flurries earlier in the week, but not an accumulation, so this was her first time in real snow. She went crazy!
Willow's 1st time in the snow//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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The chickens and Gordon weathered the storm very well. They all remained securely locked up with fresh water and food inside. Gordon has a partitioned section of his hutch that is filled with hay and in that he has made a burrow. Additionally we put a moving blanket over it to give a little extra insulation and keep the winds mostly out. The wind was so intense and the snow so powdery and blown about that there was snow inside the chickens’ house.
As for us we hunkered down and a had a wonderful day indoors. I had hosted my Bunco group the night before so we were fully stocked with extra special provisions like various cakes and cheeses. We did a jigsaw puzzle (extra challenge-did not look at box while doing it), took out lots of the little games from the special game drawer and played many of them, made chili, watched the movie Holes, and all in all enjoyed being snug and cozy.
Blizzard games//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
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The next day the storm was over and we ventured out to see the finished product.

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Blizzard: The Next Day//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWow! That is a lot of snow. Fortunately it was a bright and sunny beautiful day, and fortunately the snow was relatively light. Paul and I basically spent the whole day shoveling. Walkways from house to garage and chicken coop, walkways to mailbox and driveway, dug out the fire hydrant, and finally the driveway. Good grief that was a lot. And by the end of the day when we stopped we realized that we were crazy tired and sore and had to cope by taking medicine and going out for cheeseburgers (because the roads were surprisingly great.)

The chickens were not crazy about coming out in the snow, but Gordon sure was. He loves pushing the snow around, hopping around on the paths, and all in all had a great time yesterday.You know who loves a snowstorm?//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWillow continued to have fun, but I think it’s so deep that eventually she found herself a little uncertain of what to do and just barked at the shovel. Blizzard: The Next Day//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsPaul made a huge mountain of snow for the kids to slide down and it’s dangerous and fun.
IMG_5541//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
And now here we are on Monday and we’re all still at home-Paul stricken with some kind of terrible virus, and a snow day for the kids. Although the roads are shockingly clear (that bright sun melted it down to the pavement), not every road is clear, nor are the sidewalks near the schools. The great walls of snow make turns pretty tight and I imagine it would be hard for the buses today.

I’m delighted that I got my wish for snow!

Snowy Days Cozy Days

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Well, the past week has been filled with wintry weather, snowy expectations, and cozy times.  We all had lots of plans on Saturday which were cancelled due to snow, which turned out to be not all that much ultimately, but we relished the empty day and it was like a checklist of snow days things: a roaring fire, knitting, watching Spirited Away (because in our house nothing says snowy afternoon like Hiyao Miyazaki), baking biscotti, finishing a quilt, special breakfast (toasted coconut Dutch baby pancake),
Dutch Baby
and playing in the snow.
in the snow

Hanging out with a new snow friend
Sunday was back to normal and the main event was the rescheduled from Saturday Pinewood Derby.  This event is always so much fun. This year Clark made his car to fit in the category of “Most Scout-like” and he made it look like the Arrow of Light, which is the highest Cub Scout achievement and he’ll receive next year.
Pinewood Derby 2015
Sadly he didn’t win (the votes are cast by the kids which means that things of questionable taste always win, plus I think the younger boys didn’t know what the Arrow of Light is, but the other Webelos thought it was really cool), but he didn’t mind at all. And he was thrilled that he came in third place in his den.
Pinewood Derby 2015
All the buzz Sunday night was about the impending blizzard, and our school called for an early dismissal on Monday. Tabby stayed home sick with a terrible cold and helped me get ready for the storm, which basically meant going to the library and picking up my holds because my goodness I couldn’t be without the book I currently most want to read, could I? Also we picked up some ice cream because we’ve adopted my friend’s tradition of ice cream for breakfast on the first snow day of the year.  We also invited my mom to come and stay with us for the duration.  It was a merry afternoon watching the snow fall, playing Scrabble, watching both Nanny McPhee movies, playing games, and making a retro tater tot casserole with the leftover chili. In a high level of excitement we went to bed, eager to see the promised 2 feet of snow in the morning.  When we awoke we could tell right away that there was not much snow because we could hear cars easily driving down our road. Yep. The big storm bust. I was disappointed to not have a ton of snow to play in, but delighted that everyone had the day off already and it couldn’t be taken back. And although the clear roads meant we certainly could have gone out and done things or been social, we kept it a cozy quiet day inside with games and watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Once the snow was done coming down and the sun came out it was absolutely beautiful and blindingly bright.  I’ve really enjoyed watching Gordon in the snow.
Gordon in the snow

Leap
At first I just let him out for a few supervised snowy minutes.  He bounded across the snow to his bathroom area.  The chickens have hated the snow and been extremely reluctant to come out. Fools! Gordon figured out that under the coop is nice and not snowy.
In the Coop
Meanwhile, with some of the girls laying eggs again Gordon’s hutch has again become a coveted laying spot.
perched
This morning I found a hen in his hutch actually drinking from his water bottle! How does a chicken know how to do that??
identity crisis

I’ve also been knitting quite a bit and finished the green yarn that I had and began a new color. The variegated purple/green I had blended in really well, and after some terrible rows that my mom had to rip out for me I’ve got the stockinette down (knit a row, purl a row!).
knitting progress
As soon as this is long enough to go round my neck I’m stopping. It’s ludicrously wide and I swear looks like a whole panel of a child’s sweater.
knitting progress
Knitting is so different from sewing that I can’t get over all the things I’m realizing that knitters probably just take for granted, but are a surprise to me. The main thing, specifically, is that you really can’t fudge it and just make up stuff. And it seems like things need to be planned out far in advance. This “scarf” is a good way for me to learn these first basics, though.
Throughout all this the kids both had colds and they ended up staying home today, as well. Somehow today is less fun. They are snotty enough to stay home, but well enough that they are filled with cooped up energy.

A Look Back at 2014

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One of my favorite posts of the year! Yesterday I reread the ones from previous years and it was really nice to be able to look back at everything-a virtual scrapbook, if you will. I think it makes for good family history. In 2014..

We had a lot of snow and a cold winter. I happen to love a good cold snowy winter, but boy were we all glad when spring came.
Igloo

We took some awesome family vacations.  In the summer we did a quick getaway to Hope Lake Lodge in New York. It was just an opportunity to stay a couple nights in a hotel with a wave pool and indoor water park, but it was really fun. Even better, on the way there we went to Watkins Glen State Park and were blown away by the natural beauty of the gorge.
Watkins Glen State Park
A big rainstorm didn’t dampen our fun, and provided me with my proudest preparedness moment of the year when I pulled out ponchos.(and consequently have bragged about all year.)
How proud and prepared was i when I whipped out ponchos for our 3 mile hike in the pouring rain? Spectacular gorge and waterfalls in Watkins Glen, NY
Our big trip this summer was a fantastic old-fashioned road trip that took us to Pittsburgh and Michigan, where we stayed with and visited our dear friends the Park family.  It was a lot of hours of togetherness and many audiobooks, but we had a great time, saw some really neat things, got great souvenirs, and it was a definite highlight of the year.

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In November we took a long awaited trip to Disneyworld and Universal Studios. We loved Disney and had been there all together once before, but we were blown away by Universal Studios, specifically the world of Harry Potter. This was the year we started watching the movies together, I started rereading the series, and we all felt so transported into that magical world when we were in the park. We got a lot of special memories and experiences out of our two days there.
Hogwarts' Express
Paul and I were also super excited about the recreated Simpsons’ Springfield. It was fun, fun, FUN.
Springfield's finest
We also had lots of fun excursions to places like the American Museum of Natural History, Ringing Rocks, Grounds for Sculpture, Point Pleasant boardwalk (unbelievably, my first time), a Polish festival, Scanfest, a Cub Scout trip to a mine, Chinatown, and Syracuse to attend my friend’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. (I didn’t realize how many excursions until I started looking through pictures!!)

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One big change this year was that in the fall both kids went to school full time.  This meant that for the first time nine years I had all day to myself.  I certainly wasn’t bored and enjoyed the change, but probably like a lot of stay at home moms it’s led to an urgent feeling of needing to get a job and feeling guilty for the time I have been enjoying at home. We’ll see what this year brings.  And as for school, Tabby finished her beloved kindergarten and started first grade which she loves even more.  She has turned out to be a very proficient reader and amazes us with her skills.  Clark finished 3rd grade and left the only elementary school he’s gone to, beginning 4th grade at a different school in town (it’s K-3, 4-5, 6-8.)  He has really enjoyed the change. He continued to be a great reader in 2014, too.

We all were active in scouting this past year, too.  Tabby and I finished our first Daisy year and in the fall began the second year, with me and my friend Jen continuing to be leaders. In the spring Tabby and I joined Paul and Clark on a scout family camping trip, which again made me think we really should be camping a lot and yet we never did.
A Visit to a Mine

St. Patrick's Day Parade

It was a big year for us in geocaching.  Last January we finally made our first find and figured out how it worked. The spring and early summer saw us finding many more, exploring both local and not so local places.
Secret art park
Sadly, Clark’s enthusiasm for it
More Geocaching
quickly went away and now he complains when we want to do it.  Still, the rest of still like it;  we’ve hidden two of our own caches and found 159.  I had a few fun outings with some new geocaching friends and it’s definitely a hobby I want us to keep enjoying in 2015.

The garden and chickens were good this year. We had some cycles of life with the chickens and the big change was getting rid of some pesky roosters and also fencing them in. They have not minded the change. The highlight of the garden was watching monarch butterflies successfully metamorphose on our milkweed plants.
Monarch butterfly lifecycle

The Monarch Emerges!
All our bees died but we still got their honey, as well as maple syrup from our tapped trees.
Paul and I began 2014 by celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip for the two of us to Mohonk Mountain House, which was amazing and indulgent and snowy and beautiful.
The views from Sky Top

Happy Anniversary to us

We went to several great concerts and shows this year, but the real standout for me was getting to see Neil Young at the Academy of Music. It was a dream come true and hearing his music in person was all I’d hoped it to be.  Another musical standout was the Beck/Band of Horses concert.  I think one of my happiest moments this year was dancing with Paul to super loud Beck. It was a fantastic show and we had so much fun.

I’ll stick this in the middle here so we don’t end on a depressing note.  2014 was the year we said good-bye to our beloved Pippin.  It’s hard to look back on the year and not think about it because honestly I’ve missed him all year long.  He was a wonderful special part of our family and saying goodbye to him was almost unbearable.
Portraits with Pippin
Other random highlights? We saw in real life both Alaska and Hawaii license plates (a quest to see these began when we were on our road trip), but even more amazing we parked next to one from Panama! (and were able to talk to the owner and then, bizarrely, happened to also park next to him again the next day at a different park!) Tabby got roller skates and became a great skater. Clark got new brighter blue rec specs which he wears all the time. After Clark’s class finished their unit on animals we took home a bunch of fiddler crabs, millipedes, and frogs. The crabs have proven to be fascinating!

And while I didn’t finish the scrappy prism quilt I had hoped to in 2014, I did have a good sewing year and made 3 couple of quilts I loved, including Birdhouse in my Soul for my own bed.
Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!

Thimble Summer-finished!

Patchwork Quilt
I also almost finished Tabby’s quilt, but sadly the year ended with my death of my sewing machine. So I’ll be starting 2014 by shopping for a new one (though I have plenty of hand sewing to keep me busy until then.) You can see everything I sewed in 2014 here. And because I love sets, categories, tags, and organization, if you feel so inclined you can see all the foods I made (well, that I photographed) in 2014 here.  There were some delicious birthday cakes, including an oreo cake for Clark and a chocolate and peanut butter cake for Paul.
Birthday CakeAll in all, it was a pretty good year. Sometimes when it’s happening you don’t realize how lucky you are, but when you look back on it all together, it’s pretty easy to see that we are fortunate and blessed. (Of course, it helps that this is the rosy side of life type of journal and not a listing of any of the days where we all fought, felt like bad parents and children, were worried or anxious, etc. Because who wants to a. read about that and b. remember that? No one!)

Good-bye 2014! Thanks for the memories 🙂
Make a wish

Ice Day

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What a wintery week! Monday was heavy white snow. As planned we did watch The Secret World of Arrietty by the fire, but we also played outside and built an igloo with a neighbor friend. It was a terrific day.
Fun in the snow
Tuesday was a delayed opening and busy with errands and a delight to drive around and check things out. With the sun out everything was absolutely stunning-trees covered in thick white snow, blindingly bright fields of snow-it was just gorgeous.
The sunny day after a snowstorm
Then this morning we awoke to a different world, also gorgeous, but this time it was because everything had turned to ice! With every single pine needle, twig, branch, and tree encased in ice it was a crystal world.  And so neat to stand outside and listen because there was a constant tinkling and creaking as the trees swayed and bits of ice fell down.  Fortunately we didn’t lose any tree limbs or power and the only hardship was shoveling slush so that it wouldn’t freeze in treacherous shapes.
Icicles

Icy Globe Feeder

Birdies on Icicle Laden Houses

I love these icy days because it’s always amazing to me how everything looks. So magical! Like being in a crystal fairy tale! You expect some kind of Ice Queen to come by wrapped in white furs on a sled. And I always think of the title of a book I liked as a child called The Crystal Tree.
The Crystal Tree: every time this happens I think of a book from my childhood called "The Crystal Tree"

Paul had the day off as well, which made it extra good. It’s a good thing he didn’t have to go in because we would have had a hard time getting the car out. The birch tree was bent over with ice across the driveway! (It had lifted by mid-afternoon. Isn’t it amazing how flexible trees are??)
Bent Over
I can’t be too bitter about using up all our snow days and having other school vacation days taken away from us, because we never do anything special with those days, so these days are like little vacations. We had grand plans to play four different board games, watch a movie, finish our collage calendar, and make art. Well, we played one game (a new one, saved for a rainy day, called Blockers, loads of fun, similar to Blokus.)
Blockers
Watched a movie (The Croods), spent an hour outside, and I really don’t know what we did with the rest of the day because we definitely didn’t seem to get it all in. All in all, a successful day off. I think we could all use a return to a regular schedule, though.

Sweethearts and Snow Days

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Another snow day! And what a beautiful white snow it is. Heavy and wet, which will be perfect for snowmen and snowballs if we can rouse ourselves to go outside, but terrible to shovel.
Snow Day (again)

Snow Day (again)

Snow Day (again)

It’s the best kind of snow day-one where Paul also has to stay home! So we started the day with a great Snow Day breakfast (scrambled eggs, pork roll, and bagels) and are looking forward to a cozy day with games, reading, and watching The Secret World of Arrietty by the fire. While working on my quilt, of course. And XPN is celebrating the Beatles’ arrival in the U.S. 50 years ago with some heavy British Invasion play on the radio, so that’s nice too. And thank goodness for that warm Saturday (40 degrees) because we’d completely run out of split firewood. Thank you, Paul for being so manly and spending the entire afternoon chopping wood and replenishing our supply.
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This weekend Paul and Tabby went to a very special event together-the Father Daughter Sweetheart Dance. This is a Girl Scout event. Apparently they had a very good time. It was fun to see them dressed up together. This seems to be a really common event for Girl Scout service units, but was not something we had when I was a kid. I wish we did because what a nice thing for them to do and remember together.
Father Daughter Sweetheart Dance
(Meanwhile, Clark and I had an awesome evening of meatball subs and MarioKart, which we may not have dressed up for, but it was still a nice time for just us.)
While I’m perfectly happy to keep enjoying winter (after all, we’ve only just begun February) it’s nice to know that Spring will be here before we know it.
Hyacinth