Saturday, January 31, 2015

Warm Springs on Ice

1. On the road at 10:00am with skates, boots, scarf, gloves, layers of clothing, coffee and Kahlua. I also have a lot of determination and a little bit of fear. My goal is to not get hurt.
2. John drove us to Warm Springs via the scenic route, past rolling farmland and manicured estates. The sky was clear and blue and there was little to no wind; temperatures would be around 30° F. Perfect! Our final destination was The Homestead Resort where they have an outdoor skating rink.
3. It took about an hour to loosen up tense muscles and stiff ankles. After that, we were all about exploring our very rusty abilities and having fun.
3. "Hey B.! Watch this!" Whomp! I was about to show B. how I could go fast and then turn. Instead I fell at her feet. I rolled to my back, laughing as hard as I fell.
3a. We all had our turns falling, but thankfully we weren't hurt. It even served to embolden us a little, knowing that a fall wasn't necessarily the end of the world.

Omni Resort file photo
Our day wasn't as snowy as the file photo, but it was still a gorgeous place to be.

There's me and B.
Another file photo showing the layout looking down from the hotel. The ice rink is to the left and the heated pool to the right. There were just as many people swimming as skating today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Warmth With Style Not Happenin', You, Little Guy

1. Rummaging through the Rubbermaid tote where I keep outdoor winter accessories, I found a few items that might be useful this weekend. Later, in front of the mirror, the only useful thing the hats were good for was a laugh... a really good laugh.
2. The same boy that studied my name tag last week came by my desk again today. He glanced at my name tag, nodded and said, "Yup, you're you."

3. Henri-the-Schnoodle has been more cuddly than ever these days. The moment I sit down, he is in my lap, curled up with his head to my chest. We keep each other warm.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Work of Art, Whew! That's Done!, I Give Brownie Points

1. I finished the very last pages of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.I am emotionally divided in my response to this book. Since the story is about a work of art, I will compare the book to a work of art. One may not like the mood or the subject of a painting, yet still be captivated by it's beauty and genius. Donna Tartt is a genius with words and storytelling. How she writes with such detail about so many places and situations is beyond me.
2. Now that I finished reading the book, I can get on with painting my cabinet doors.
3. I opened an unexpected text from our daughter's boyfriend this evening. He was simply asking how the 'Mister' and other members of the household were faring. It was very sweet. The translation from French to English made it even more adorable.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Karma, Surprise Ingredient, For a Snack

1. I found this photo of Daughters 2 and 3 at my mom's house when I visited her earlier this month. I tacked it on our bulletin board as a reminder that big sister wasn't always as mean to her little sister as she recalls. Today, big sister sent me this photo, below. We had a good laugh at how the tables have turned. She wrote, "I was feeling very vulnerable and I apologized for all the times I was ever mean to her."

2. Someone at work shared a recipe for meatloaf. She raved about it so much that I had to try it. The votes are in and we liked it a lot. It was full of flavor and super easy for a quick weeknight meal. Here goes:

1 box Stove Top Stuffing Mix (An entire box seemed like too much so I used about half. Also, I didn't realize it came in flavors so I bought poultry)
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 cup warm water (I reduced this to 3/4 c. since I reduced the stuffing mix)
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs, beaten

Combine the first three ingredients and let stand a few minutes until softened. Add ground beef and eggs and mix well. Shape into loaf and bake at 350° for about 1 1/4 hours. (She said the recipe showed the meatloaf baked in a Bundt pan and served with mashed potatoes in the center with gravy on the side.)

3. A perfectly ripened pear with a pink blush around its chubby middle.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Upon Waking - In Photos

The Blue Ridge Mountains in ice    (taken by Tess)

The Blackberry Patch. It was so quiet out there.

Frozen in time  (taken by Tess)

Dogwood- spring is hiding in there.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Getting Johnny Safely Home, Company, Weekend Plans

1. School made a last minute decision to dismiss two hours early because of bad weather. If you want to see a routine, quiet office go into overdrive in 3 seconds flat, just announce a school closing. The nurse and the librarian had to come up and help, that's how crazy it was. I do enjoy a challenge every now and then.
2. It was a nice surprise to find Chelsea at the house when I got home. Since the weather had turned, she spent the night.
3. I have a stack of books to read, a painting project, and a sewing project to finish. I've been looking forward to this weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Starting the Day with Pink, Alan Parsons Project, I thought He Was Going to Say Troutville, In the Bucket

1. So many pink sunrises greet me these winter mornings. I paused on the stoop to appreciate the sky for a bit this morning before I proceeded on my way.
2. One of many albums we listened to on our drive home last weekend was the Alan Parsons Project, I Robot. I played the album again tonight while I cleaned up the kitchen.

3. A boy at school stood in front of my desk and studied my name tag. With his finger on his chin and his eyebrows furrowed, he tried to decipher my name. Then he said, "Are you from........(long pause while he thought and thought).......Canada?" Ha,ha! His young mind thought with a name like mine I must be from somewhere far away. Yes, pretty exotic place, that Canada. About as exotic as New York. : )
4. It seems I have a friend who prompts me to make my bucket list wishes come true. We'll be ice skating outdoors in the mountains next week if the weather is right. My fingers are crossed for winter to hold tight a little longer!

"Where do we go from here now that all of the children are growing up."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Away for a Wedding (and Back Again)

1. Until I go out into the world, I forget that it's there.
1a. Lovely Ms. GPS kept trying to re-route us through rush hour traffic, which is great, unless it's New York City traffic. In that case, it's just plain annoying. The plus side to all that zig-zagging was that we got to see several blocks of Brooklyn that we otherwise never would have seen. Tidy, three and four story brick apartment buildings with awnings over the front entries lined the wide broadways. Doormen worked inside, I'm sure.
1b. We drove through a Hasidic neighborhood. Although the men were dressed the same in long black coats, black hats, beards and side locks, it made me realize what a rich and varied world we live in.
1c. Tess is positive that Steve's and my yelling about the GPS made its voice quiver.
2. The relief I felt when we reached our hotel three hours overdue was to the point that I could have kissed the ground. It was truly a welcome oasis.
2a. The family gathered in Long Island for the wedding of our niece. Three of our four girls made the trip as did many other family members and old, old friends. What a great time of celebration and visiting we had!
2b. The bride was so beautiful, she took my breath away.
3. The sunset over the ocean was beautiful even on a frigid January day.
4. We were caught unaware of the deadly road conditions for our drive home. Black ice and rain caused horrific conditions along the New Jersey route we attempted to use on Sunday morning. Audrey and Jared made it safely through on the wings of prayer.
4b. Bridge closures forced us to re-route. Out of desperation, we stopped at a Deli to use their bathroom. We ended up ordering food to go and were treated to some excellent New York City deli food. Yes!
4c. The eight hour drive ended up taking us eleven hours, but everyone made it safely home. We hold many wonderful memories of the weekend.
5. Steve's comment stands out in my mind. He said, "We're getting old. It used to be baptisms and now it's weddings."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy 28th!, Not Bad, Take Some

There's that Maine sky again!
1. On a cold winter's night, when darkness comes early, Daughter #2 was born. Morning brought a sky as clear as glass; the bluest, winter sky I've ever seen. It was so cold in Maine that day that it seemed the air could shatter at the touch of a fingertip. Welcome to the world Chelsea! It shall be an adventure...
2. Stupid, stupid wardrobe emergencies are becoming too frequent. I have a bad attitude about shopping. Department store clothing is going down the tubes as evidenced by the pretty top I bought for a wedding this weekend which shrunk and became misshapen after the first wash. I now have one day to find something else to wear. All this to preface the relief I felt when I found one dress that fits! Anyone passing my dressing room would have heard mostly, "Oh jeez." Until finally a surprised, "Hmm?"
2a. The secret to every girl's wardrobe, Spanx. Spanx is like sausage casing.
3. Sending #4's boyfriend off with a baggie of his favorite cookies.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Much- Needed Laugh, Life in the North, Fresh and Fruity

"Doesn't everyone wear goggles and a winter coat while making popcorn?"
1. A photo of granddaughter Marian with her mother's caption, above. The seemingly goofiness of a child's imagination should never be underestimated. Comments were as follows:

- Never know how high those kernels will pop.
- I cannot stop laughing... !! 
- Hey, those kernels can shoot outa that thing like tiny missals! Smart girl! Taking precautions!  
- A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do
- She's actually cooking meth.
- She's safety-minded!  
- Still laughing... : )

2. Chelsea phoned and we had a nice, long talk. She described her ice skating outing in Canada. The park builds up banks along pathways similar to our Greenway here in Roanoke and floods them for winter skating. How fun would that be?! We agree that the way to survive a long, northern winter is to enjoy outdoor activities. If you're properly dressed, you can withstand almost anything.
3. I just had to make another Jello creation. I used lemon Jello this time, loaded it with fruit and nuts for the bottom layer, then whipped a topping using more lemon Jello, cream cheese and Cool Whip. I know some of these ingredients aren't healthy, but they're necessary : )

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Things I Wish To Do, Fun Food, Sewing

1. I think it would be a blast to participate in this song time. I'm adding this to my bucket list.

2. We had a shared meal with friends and L. themed it 1960's foods. Everyone agreed that some foods never go out of style. (Chicken a la King, fondue, Ambrosia, meatloaf, molded Jello salad). In "researching", I ran across an old Jello cookbook and decided it needed to be resurrected for regular use.
3. Steve worked all weekend so I started a sewing project. Long winter hours slipped right by as I pinned and sewed a new slipcover for the ottoman.
3a. I realized that I have a thing for piping. I love to make piping and I love to use piping. I'm trying to think up another project just so I can make more piping.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Silly Girls, Soup and Movies, Home Again

1. An old college friend and I finally reconnected after too many years. After catching up on the highs and lows of the past twenty-nine years, we vowed to keep in touch and I'm sure we will.
1a. In 1979, if I could have looked into the future, I never would have dreamed our lives would be what they are. Back then, we lived completely in the moment. We both met our husbands during those college years...such a long time ago. What I remember the most is laughter. Lots of laughter.
2. Tess and her boyfriend held a movie marathon tonight. I sat in on one of the movies and recommended that we have our dinner in the living room so we could keep on watching.
3. Steve returned from his trip safe and sound, albeit very tired.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Made It, Only for One Night, So Good!

1. SO cold! My car thermometer read 8° at 9:30 this morning. My car started and, after several slams, the door latches worked. I drove slowly for fear of the passenger door opening at random. This is the exciting winter life that we don't see much of in the south.
2. To have the entire bed to myself while Steve is away. I mostly stay on my side of the bed, but all that room feels luxurious.
3. I made this Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean Salad for dinner and served it with salmon on the side. There are many versions of this recipe out there. I particularly like the roasted red onions that top this one.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bakery at Home, Conversation, The Fire Smells Good

1. More good food ideas as I sadly suffer separation anxiety from my beloved bakery in New York. In an effort to imitate something almondy to accompany a hot cup of coffee, I baked these Almond Scones. They're just like the bakery! I ate two. So did Tess. The secret lies in freezing, then grating the almond paste. I feel the coarse sugar and almond slices are a must as well. It all has to do with the finish and texture of each bite.
2. I nice cuppa and visit with B. (She liked the scones, too)
3. Steve keeps the wood stove burning in the basement. Whenever one of us feels a little chilled, we go down and sit near the fire, maybe roast a marshmallow or two, then resurface upstairs.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Food Cravings, Warming, A Stone in my Shoe (or Wheel)

1. Winter is a great time to experiment with recipes and fuel our fruit and vegetable-craving bodies. I am thankful to have friends and daughters who also like to cook. We email recipe ideas back and forth with some titles followed by exclamation points about how good it was. Tonight's meal was very satisfying and super easy in the crockpot. I used Anduille smoked sausage and it was perfect. Southern Slow Cooker Choucroute (!!!)
2. I hugged the hot water bottle for warmth this evening.
3. The stone that rattled around in my wheel for the last 800 miles finally is gone. After I went to all the trouble of naming it Rocky and Steve pulling off the wheel looking for it, it up and left on its own accord. Good riddance. Silly topic, but you can't imagine how bothersome it was, especially when it stuck between metal parts and screeched like a wounded animal.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Morning Commute, Sounds Around Us

1. The sunrise turned the clouds into pink cotton candy. It was nice to have something that pretty for the morning commute. I kept glancing out my window and whaddaya know, they followed me all the way.  : )
2. April Smith provided the music for my drive. (Thanks to Claire and Daniel for my new CD!)

3. Tess brought home my dad's ukulele, circa 1937. We can hear her playing it upstairs and it makes us smile every time we hear her.
3a. We watched a great documentary about ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. Inspiring and amazing!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Acclimating to Real Life, The Garden Still Produces, A Change

1. After the rush of the holidays followed by being away all week, I needed the weekend to decompress. Our tree is still up, that's how decompressed I am. It still looks beautiful and we're all happy, so I mostly sat and read a book.

 2. Here is the start of something wonderful. I was surprised to find the sage still thriving in the garden!

3. The wind kicked up and I saw a strong band of clouds extending from one horizon to the other. I felt very small standing under those powerful clouds while they slowly churned above me.
3a. After the sky cleared, I looked out and saw a full, silvery moon.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ringing in the New Year, The Bakery, New York and Back Again

1. Steve, Tess and I drove up to New York for a long overdue visit. We celebrated the New Year with our siblings and parents. Granted, we celebrated earlier in the evening and were mostly all in bed by midnight, but we're good with that.
2. As we drove across the Leatherstocking region of western New York state, we found ourselves in snow squalls both driving in and again, driving out. It was beautiful scenery with majestic pines covered in snow dust, frozen ponds perfect for ice skating, escarpments and valleys worthy of film. Unfortunately, my hands were white-knuckled on the steering wheel so there would be no stopping for photos.
3. Steve and two of his brothers came to my mom's house to do some repairs. At one point the three men were standing together in the kitchen and it made my childhood home look very, very small.
4. While we were driving the six hundred miles home, headed south on Interstate 81, we found out that Daughter #2 was driving north to Canada, also on Interstate 81. A few texts later (and some math calculations on Steve's part) we figured we would be passing each other in Pennsylvania at lunch time. How funny it was to spot their car at a red light off the exit and wave! We all had lunch at a nice bakery that served delicious salads, soups and sandwiches.
 5. I ordered a Rum Cake from Bella Napoli for New Year's Eve. I asked Tess to bring her camera when we went to pick it up. The bakery was bustling but, we stayed long enough for the bubble of crowd to leave and Tess humored me and my request for photos. They also have a counter where you can sit and order a coffee and pastry. The back wall, not pictured, is filled with Italian breads and rolls.

Cookies are sold by the pound.
This will forever be my favorite case with the Cannoli and Rum Ba Ba
A case for cakes
She is tying up my cake box. Some New York Black and Whites are in the case at the bottom. I regret not buying those along with dozens of other stuff. Next time...