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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow day!

A winter storm blew through the area yesterday and last night, covering everything with a layer of ice first, then a couple of inches of snow. The entire state has been mostly shut down since yesterday afternoon, as the roads are icy and dangerous. The temperatures won't rise above freezing today, and tonight the forecast low is around 12F. Schools, government offices, and most non-essential stores are closed until further notice. The bookstore didn't open today, and I'm scheduled off tomorrow, so I don't have to venture out in this mess. I'm very thankful to be able to stay in my cozy house for the next couple of days! Husband had to go in to work, but not until noon and he'll be leaving after a few hours. I worry about him driving with ice on the road (the little bit of snow isn't a problem). Thank goodness he only has to go 4 miles, on two main roads which got treated with salt yesterday. He should be fine, but I do wish he was at home enjoying the day with me instead.

The dogs love the snow and have been going out to play in it all morning. I knew from past experience that Ginger liked it, but I wasn't sure if George would. Turns out, he seems to think snow is great fun!


 
 
 

A snow day is a special thing in this area. I plan to spend the rest of it baking banana bread, knitting, taking the dogs for a walk, and sipping vodka by the fireplace later on. Life is good!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gratitude Sunday

Gratitude Sunday

I'm joining lots of other wonderful bloggers today in listing the things I'm grateful for that happened in the past week.

1. Getting off work early last night so that I could go hear a talented local musician (and friend) play guitar and sing at a new café that opened downtown.

2. Having a working fireplace for the first time ever. This month has been terribly cold, and nothing beats snuggling up in pjs in front of a warm fire at night.

3. Our new dog, George, slowly coming around. Things are getting better every day as he adjusts from life at the shelter to his new forever home. His goofy personality is really starting to shine through, and he makes us laugh a lot. I'm happy he's a part of our family!

4. An old friend who had become somewhat distant since last fall has been making a real effort to reconnect with me. I've missed her, and it's been so good to catch back up with her.

5. Acquaintances, friends, former co-workers, and professional contacts reaching out to me with ideas and offers of help in my job search. I've apparently been doing a good job of getting the word out that I'm looking! Hopefully it's just a matter of time.

6. The days are getting noticeably longer. It always lifts my spirits when I begin to notice that happening.

What are you grateful for right now?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Freezing

I send this dispatch from under a big load of blankets. It's freezing in my house. We're not used to these kinds of temperatures  around here....today's high was a frosty 30F, and right now (past midnight) it's 16F, with wind chills in the single digits. The central heating has been going all day, and the only truly warm spot in the house is the den (because we have a fireplace in there). It's been a bitterly cold month.

Stay warm, friends.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cozy winter kitchen

I love lazy days at home in the winter. Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes, and this time of year calls for warm, stick-to-your-ribs dishes. Recently I made a delicious chicken vegetable stew on a cold, blustery afternoon. It smelled wonderful and made the kitchen warm and cozy.


This was a the beginning of the process, cooking whole (organic, free range) chickens with carrots, celery, bay leaves, and rosemary to make a delicious stock for the base of the stew. After the chicken was cooked, I removed the meat from the bones and put it aside to add back later to the completed stew.


Next I sautéed some chopped bacon and onions to add to the stock. After that came canned tomatoes and frozen soup vegetables.


Last I added butter, cream, the cooked chicken, and a cornstarch slurry for thickening. Unfortunately I didn't get a final photo of the finished stew, because the batteries on my camera died. But the stew was delicious, and just the thing for a cold afternoon.

I also took a photo of my kitchen window to show you. A friend of my husband sent me a sprouting narcissus bulb in a plastic cup at Christmas, and it finally bloomed for me that day. The tiny white flowers smell heavenly. I love forcing bulbs in the dead of winter.



Anyone else enjoying spending time in the kitchen these days?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

This weather!

This winter has brought nothing but nasty weather so far. When it's not terribly cold, with lows in the teens and wind chills hovering near zero, it's pouring rain. I'd rather have the cold, personally. Days and days of pouring rain make everything damp and nasty and dismal. Our carpet is beginning to look dingy no matter how much we try to clean our shoes. We'll have to shampoo it in the spring, which is one of my most despised household tasks. When we buy our own home (hopefully later this year) we are 100% anti-carpet. When we've had rentals with hardwood and/or tile floors, not only did the house stay cleaner, but my allergies were much better.

This rain also is putting a real damper (ha!) on my efforts to train George. He's coming along great on the days I can give him lots of exercise, but he gets bored and destructive when he can't go out. He's mischievous and will stand up to peer up onto shelves to find things to chew up. I think he might be smart, since he's curious about everything and learns commands easily. But he's also stubborn and will constantly test your boundaries. I've been reading up on Cesar Millan's methods (and watching his show, The Dog Whisperer) and using them to make me (and my husband) the pack leaders. So far, his formula for well behaved dogs (exercise, discipline, and affection in that order) has been working really well with George. Now that we're having days and days of rain, and it's impossible to go walk him, he's been getting in to more trouble. I love the big crazy mutt, but I can't wait for him to mature a bit.

Next week, back to cold weather again, but at least it should be drier. I'm beginning to dream of spring.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Frigid

Tonight is set to be the coldest night of this winter so far, with a forecast low of 21F. There is also a strong wind blowing, which will drop the wind chill down to around 0. The Northeast is having a terrible winter storm right now, with really really low temperatures as well as heavy snow and ice. I wouldn't mind seeing some snow, but the amount of it expected up north is scary.

I realised today I've been making do for years now without a proper winter coat. How ridiculous is that? I don't know what I was thinking to put off buying one for so long, but today on my way to work I stopped at a department store and bought myself a big, soft, warm winter coat. It's a warm camel color with large dark buttons. I love it! I wore it home from work tonight and was as warm as toast. Just in time for the icy winter weather expected all weekend.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

A shiny new year!

Happy New Year everyone! It's been difficult getting time to sit down and blog, but I hope that with the holidays over and done, life will settle down a bit. Did you make any resolutions for 2014? I resolve to renew my job hunt and to find a new job before the holidays roll around again! That is my biggest hope for the year. Besides making a new job happen, I'm not being overly ambitious with making resolutions. I plan to continue trying to take one day at a time when it comes to healthy habits...going for walks, drinking water instead of soda more often, eating breakfast, etc. etc. I would love to end 2014 in better shape (and healthier) than I was at the start!

The past few weeks have been rainy and messy outside, and it's made life difficult with our new dog, George. He's apparently younger than they thought at the shelter, and has so much pent-up energy that long daily walks are a necessity. When it's raining and we can't go, George becomes destructive. He chews through all the toys, rawhides, and treats we give him and then goes on to look for other things to destroy! He also hates getting wet, so instead of doing his business in the backyard when it's raining, he goes to the far side of the garage (next to the driver's door of my car) and poops and pees there! I am happy to report, however, that when we get to go for walks, he's doing much better walking on the leash. Despite being hyperactive and full of mischief, he seems intelligent and eager to please us. He's also a total love-bug. He will lick you all over and attempt to climb onto your lap, and generally just soaks up any ounce of affection you will give him. The best thing about George, though, is how quickly he has become devoted to Ginger, and she really seems to like him back. It's such a relief to us that Ginger seems mostly happy with the new addition to our family.


  Now that January is here, I'll finally have time to sit down and catch up with everyone's blogs. I hope you all had a great holiday season, and I wish for you a wonderful new year!