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February 2014

January 2014

Right Now . . . January 2014

I'm so glad to see January come to an end!  It's always such a long, long month.


Here's what's happening in my world . . .  Right Now.

Watching . . . Sherlock on TV.  Movies at the theater.  Winter out my windows.  (True confession:  I've completely lost my Downton Abbey mojo.  Not caring what happens with Lady Mary or the Bates marriage at all.)

Reading . . . Just finished The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner and, let me tell you, it was a rambling mess!  I can't figure out why I continued through the bitter end (I blame January), but I did. (It was awful.)  Now I'm reading The Man in The Window by Jon Cohen, which is a breath of fresh air and just what I needed.  (Thanks, Carole.)  I recently finished The Aviator's Wife (Melanie Benjamin), which was interesting . . . and that led me to re-read Gift of the Sea, which is always good food for thought.  I also recently read The Spinning Heart -- which was wonderful (although I would guess . . . not to everyone's taste).


Knitting . . . Oh, the knitting.  I'm nearing the end on two projects .  This hat (a total Pain in the Ass -- AND it looks like it might be a big too big, which is always a drag), and this wrap/poncho thing (which is, basically, cast on 110 stitches and stockinette til the end of time).  (I'm ready for a new project.)

Listening to . . . Justin Timberlake . . . the 20/20 Experiment.

Dreading . . . Needing to replace one of my team members at work.  She announced her departure just yesterday (for love AND money I might add), and although I wish her all the best, I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Planning . . . A trip!  My sister and I just made reservations for a trip to Italy.  It's a long, long way off still -- but just the thought of the trip will get us through the most dreary winter days.  (It's too far off to get too excited, but I will say this . . . cooking class in Tuscany!)


Humming . . . Mean Mr. Mustard.  This has been going on for over a week now . . . always shouts out something obscene. . .

Drinking . . . Bells Two-Hearted (I just love a nice, hoppy IPA. . .)


Itching to . . . Plant something.  Pull weeds.  Harvest fresh herbs.  Dig in the dirt.  (Although, at this point, I'd settle for just Seeing Grass.)

Needing to . . . Ship a couple of packages.  They're all packed and ready to go.  But they're big and bulky and I keep putting it off.

Organizing . . . Shelves and drawers and cubby holes.  But not all at once.  I'm trying to tackle one small space each day -- and, so far, it's working!


Delighted by . . . More light and more sunshine!  Now that Lake Michigan is nearly frozen over, it means that here on the eastern shore, we will get more sun.  (It'll be colder, too, without the insulation of water.  I'm trying not to think about that, though.)

Inspired by . . . POSSIBILITY.

How about YOU?  What's going on for you. . . right now?

Three Things on a Thursday at the Tail End of January

Join me in welcoming the Tail End of January (the month that seems to never end).


(My neighborhood - totally suburban - used to be a farm.  We still have a barn.  Right down the street from my house!)

Three things on this Thursday:

  1. It's time to sign up again for A Month of Letters.  Take the challenge!  Send something (letter, card, postcard) by regular mail every day during February.  This will be my third year.  Try it!  It's a fun way to make your way through the month.  (And sending Valentines makes it easy.)
  2. Join me February 2 (this Sunday) for a Silent Poetry Reading.  While I don't know if this is A Thing anymore, it will always be A Thing for me.
  3. My god!  January is a long month, isn't it?  (Just one terribly long slog. . .)

Enjoy your Thursday.  (It's almost Friday.  And February is right around the corner.)



One Little Word . . . 2014

2014 marks the fourth year I've taken part in the One Little Word project.


I love choosing a word (or - maybe - having it choose you!) . . .

and then seeing what happens as a result.

This year, it's all about . . .


I'm really looking forward to . . . making possibility . . . more visible in my life.

Although I don't "do" scrapbooking (and just ignore the product lists and step-by-step, create-a-scrapbook portions of the monthly workshop), I do enjoy following along with the monthly prompts and letting myself get inspired - in my own way.  (I tend to just journal - sometimes with embellishment - as I follow along with the prompts.)


In January, I loved spending time . . . getting to know my word.  



Finding quotes.


And otherwise inspiring myself for the work ahead.



I have always loved Emily Dickinson's poems, and this year, she's going to be my inspiration!  I plan to . . . dwell in possibility.

(Care to join?  It's not too late!  Click here for more information, or to sign up.) 

Truth Be Told


Right now, in the midst of the Return of the Polar Vortex . . . or Snowpocalypse II . . . or whatever you choose to call it, it's de rigeur to trash winter.  To complain.  To whine.  To roll your eyes.


(Because, really.  It does get old.)

But.  Truth be told . . . I like winter.  (As long as it stays in its boundary, that is.  Come the middle of March, I'll be whining just like everyone else.)

Here's why I like it . . .


1 - Snow makes everything beautiful!  In the winter, here in the north at least, the cold, dormant season is very . . . dark.  Everything is a shade of brown (pretty much).  It's bleak.  And not very attractive.  Until it snows!  And then . . . it all looks magical!


2 - Winter brings a form of visible measurement.  I use informal measurements - there are 12 rings on my garden obelisk (but now you can only see 3), for example.  Or Garden Buddha (who has now completely disappeared).  The Weather People use inches -- as in . . . "Kalamazoo has had over 40 inches of snow in January" (true) or "Kalamazoo has already had 80 inches of snow this winter " (also true).


3 -- There are some beautiful sunrises in winter -- and they happen late enough in the day that I can actually appreciate them.  This sky happened just before our last big winter storm hit.  (Red sky at morning . . . sailor's warning.)


4 -- Snow on trees.  I just love it when snow collects on branches and boughs and berries.  It makes the trees look magical and otherworldly.  I am always charmed by snow on trees!


5 -- Dog joy!  My dogs love to romp in the snow, and it's such a delight to watch them.  (Although Jenny can't this year.  Again.  And that's tough.)


6.  New photo ops.  Sure, your fingers freeze.  But it's fun to get out - with your camera - to see the world with new highlights.


7.  Bundling up.  As Tom loves to say:  There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!  Bundling up and getting out is a great way to appreciate the season and shake off some cabin fever.


8.  Warming up from the inside out.  A cup of tea.  Hot cocoa.  Spicy chili.  A pot of hearty soup.  Nothing beats a cup of comfort on a cold winter day.


9.  Hand knits.  It's so satisfying to pull out the handknit wool socks. . . the scarves, hats, mittens . . . the cozy sweater . . .the afghan.  Winter is the Knitter's Season!


10.  Snow days.  An unexpected day off is a great time to recharge and relax while hunkering down and escaping the elements.

See!  Winter's not so bad now, is it?

How about YOU?  What do you like about winter?


Join the fun.  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Have I Mentioned the SNOW?

We've had a lot of snow here this winter.


Like . . . 

a LOT of snow.


How much?  You ask.

This much!


Enough that Garden Buddha has disappeared.


So much that my garden bench is completely AWOL.


Enough to bury my Adirondack chairs.


And so much that Tom has had to clear a "landing pad" so the dogs can do their business, comfortably.  (Evidence included . . .)


It's a Winter Wonderland here.


(This street is part of my usual outdoor running course.  But not right now.  Probably not for a long time now, actually.)

And you know what?

There's MORE coming!*


Batten down the hatches!


I've had this flag hanging at my garden gate.


It's not there anymore.  I'm pretty sure it blew away over the weekend.  (Either that . . . or one of my neighbors tired of my message. . .)

* This morning, we woke to to EVEN MORE snow (and still snowing).  Imagine each of the photos above with about 6 more inches of snow.  Garden Buddha?  WHAT Garden Buddha? 

Twice Baked

When it comes to treats, nothing can really compare to a nutty, crunchy slice of biscotti, dipped in coffee.*  We're lucky to have a couple of local sources for good biscotti, but this winter, I've decided to try making my own instead.

I dug out my trusty cookie book (best cookie book EVER) . . .


read up on basic Italian biscotti . . . 


and chose to make this variation.  (Because chocolate + coffee + cinnamon = winning combination!)


Easy to mix.


Easy to shape.


Bake once.


Bake twice.


So good!


I think I'll make more this weekend.


*  Maybe a chewy brownie.  But I don't want to go there.

Shine On!

This is what my world looks like right now. . .


It's cold.  

It's snowing.

And . . . More of Same.*

How to Get Through It?

Why. . . amaryllis bulbs, of course!


Because an amaryllis bloom makes even the coldest days . . .


seem warmer, somehow!


They bring promise . . .


and brightness . . .


and a little shine to even the darkest, coldest days!


Shine on!



*  I love the snow.  I don't even mind the cold.  As long as it all clears out by the end of February!  (I just don't like the darkness.)


It's What's For Breakfast!


I love breakfast foods.

That said, I'm a terribly dull breakfast-eater.

This is what I eat.  Pretty much every morning.  I'm looking for fast, reasonably tasty, relatively healthy, and not overly caloric.  This . . . 



Every once in a while, though, we go out for a special breakfast or take the time to cook one up at home.  My Favorite Breakfast Foods (not counting the bowl of cereal, above):

  1. Buttermilk pancakes.  Plain.  Maple syrup.  Bacon on the side.
  2. Eggs-over-easy.  On corned-beef hash.  With whole grain toast and butter.
  3. Plain Greek yogurt. Fresh fruit.  Maybe with granola.
  4. French toast.  Cinnamon.  Maple syrup.
  5. Basic scrambled eggs.  Sausage.  Toast with jam.
  6. Breakfast tacos, Texas-style.  Fresh tortillas, scrambled eggs, taco-fixin's.
  7. Pain au chocolate.  Café crème.  (Tastes best in a little Paris bistro.  Just sayin'.)
  8. Bagel with peanut butter.  Fresh orange juice.
  9. Huevos rancheros.  Hot.  With warm tortillas.
  10. Fresh baked cinnamon roll.  Not too much icing.  Lots of coffee.

And now . . . my sad little bowl of cereal seems even . . . sadder. . .

How about YOU?  What are your favorite breakfast foods?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.






Time for a little . . . PUPdate!


(Cutest pillow ever, non?*)

It's been about 7 weeks since Jenny's knee surgery (the second one).


She's rapidly moving along the "healing highway" and doing quite well.  Tom does physical therapy/range of motion exercises with her every day.  I'm supposed to be taking her for very short walks, as well, but we haven't really been able to get started with that because the conditions just aren't safe quite yet.  (We've had a LOT of snow.)

Mostly, Jenny does this.


We can tell she's starting to feel much better, though . . . because she's very eager to play with Jo-Jo.  (And to show her Queenly dominance. . .)

And there's our biggest challenge!  

Because Jenny can't run for several more months.  She's not allowed to rough-house or play tug games with Jo-Jo.  She can't romp in the snow.  No squirrel-chasing.  Nothing.

It's getting tougher and tougher to keep them from interacting in more active ways.

Meanwhile, Jo-Jo is having a grand time in the snow!  (Albeit solo.)


She races around and around the yard through the snow.  She loves to burrow her whole head down deep in it, listening for . . . something.  And she especially loves retrieving ice chunks and snowballs that Tom throws for her.  She's a crazy Snow Dog!

She and Tom have just started a dog obedience class.  We'll see how that goes. . .


We love having two dogs, and can't imagine our lives without both of them in it!


*  I found this holiday pillow in a catalog, and just HAD to have it.


Although I've packed away all my Christmas decorations, I'm leaving this pillow out for awhile yet.  I love it too much to put it away.