Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Things I Like About Winter

I'll be honest; I wasn't going to participate in this week's Ten on Tuesday topic because I wasn't sure I could come up with ten things I like about winter. After reading several blog entries that did participate, I realized they made things sound so cozy and lovely that I needed to quit whining and look for the good stuff. It's out there, even if it's buried under two feet of snow and frozen at -8 degrees!

1. The weather
I really, really dislike heat and humidity, so I'm definitely a winter person. I could do without the Polar Vortex Redux we're experiencing, but our high of 11 degrees today is still better than 95 degrees and 80% humidity.

2. The snow
We've had quite a bit of it, and while I don't look forward to shoveling, I usually enjoy it once I get started. I get some useful exercise, get to enjoy the lovely blue skies after the storms, and be grateful that I'm physically able to shovel. I also greatly enjoy Younger Son's shoveling help when he's home.

3. The snowflakes
I have a real fascination with snowflakes, due in part to Snowflake Bentley. He did some amazing snowflake photography in 1885, and Kenneth G. Libbrecht at Caltech is doing some amazing photomicrography now. You can see his stunning photos at SnowCrystals.com, along with a plethora of scientific snowflake information.

4. The food
I love making soup and baking, and winter is the perfect time to do both. My current favorite is Wild Rice and Chicken Soup, but I'm always looking for new and recommended recipes, so I'd love your suggestions!

5. The clothing
I love coziness so sweaters, scarves, cowls, and fingerless mitts are real favorites. I'm currently staying warm with my new favorite alpaca sweater that Older Son gifted me with this Christmas. I love it with my alpaca scarf!

6. The knitting
Winter is the perfect time of year to knit. I don't like the cloying, sweat-inducing feeling of knitting wool in the summer, but it provides some much-needed extra warmth in the winter, plus I'm making things to keep my family warm. This warms my heart!

7. The watching
I've just entered the 21st century and gotten Netflix. Winter is the perfect time to catch up and binge watch some favorites - Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and House of Cards. I can't wait for Kevin Spacey's evil, devious plotting and planning to return on Feb. 14. I might even welcome a Valentine's Day snowstorm so I don't feel guilty staying inside and watching the whole second season.

8. Winter walks
I don't take my daily walk when it's cold, icy, and snowy, but I do try and get out when the weather allows. Sometimes this happens at night when it's peaceful, quiet, magical, and snowflakes reflect!

9. Hot Tea
I work at home and keep the house quite cool, so in addition to bundling up in alpaca, I need plenty of hot tea. Loose leaf PG Tips, Constant Comment, peppermint, chai - I love them all.

10. Flowers
Winter isn't usually a time for flowers, but since February feels long, cold, and dark, I look forward to something blooming to help me get through it. Hopefully my amaryllis will cooperate and burst into bloom in February, along with my forced hyacinths bearing the lovely scent of Spring.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Things That Make You Feel Like A Grown-Up

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is something I don't often consider now that I am a grown-up, but I used to think about it all the time when I was a teenager. I couldn't wait to become one because I thought grown-ups got to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted! While it's not exactly what my teenage self imagined, these things do make me feel like I've entered "grown-uphood"...

1. Driving. I've been driving for many, many years, but I never take it for granted. I think about driving responsibly, carefully, and safely every time I get in the car.

2. Owning a house. I'm lucky enough to have a lovely, old, warm house, but it requires lots of maintenance. We grown-ups have to perform the repairs or find someone who can.

3. Paying bills. Not something I enjoy, but it is much easier now that I can pay almost all of them online. Even though I'm an adult, I complain when I have to write a check!

4. Doing taxes. This is the grown-up job I dislike the most; I resent every single moment I have to spend doing this odious task. My kids are approaching "grown-uphood" themselves, so this year I'm going to be showing them how to do their own taxes.

5. Being responsible for others. Since I work from home and for fewer hours than my husband, I do most of the household tasks in our division of labor. Keeping the household running - grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. - always makes me feel grown up.

6. Assuming the role of "matriarch". This makes me sound like The Dowager Countess (which sadly, I am not) but extended family gatherings have moved from our parents' homes to our house. When my mother died after a long illness, I definitely felt like a grown-up.

7. Making myself stop knitting and/or reading and go to bed at a reasonable time. There are quite a few times I'd like nothing better than to stay up late, knitting and reading, but I've learned that adults have to get up in the morning.

8. Cleaning bathrooms. This is probably my second least favorite job after doing taxes, but grown-ups like clean bathrooms, so clean their bathrooms they must.

9. Making big financial decisions. Retirement is still a good 5-10 years away for us, but we have been saving for it for many years, while paying a mortgage and college tuitions. Sometimes I have to try not to laugh when we meet with our financial guy; it feels like I'm "playing grown-up"!

10. Deciding whether I should hyphenate grown-up. I took my cue from Calvin and Hobbes.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Moments from 2013

I'm excited about this week's Ten on Tuesday topic - 10 Favorite Moments from 2013. I just started blogging in July 2013, but I did have some wonderful, memorable moments happen earlier in the year. Given the appalling state of my memory, I welcome the chance to preserve some of my favorite moments for posterity.

1. Hey, I know that kid!

My oldest son graduated from Gettysburg College in May 2013. We were (and are!) incredibly proud of him, especially because he was the valedictorian!

2. Hey, I miss that kid!

Oldest Son decided to pursue his Ph.D. in mathematics at Colorado State University. We were absolutely thrilled that he was accepted into a program that was perfect for him (with funding!); the only slight downside was that he had to move 1700 miles away to pursue his dream. That is a very small price to pay for your dream, so I helped him move to Fort Collins in August 2013. It was a long but wonderful trip, and I'm looking forward to visiting Fort Collins again this summer, especially now that he has furniture in his dining room.

3. We went on a really fun, relaxing vacation at Keuka Lake and I got to kayak across the lake and back with my duck friend.

 3. I knit some things I really like...

4. I bought some great yarn...

 5. I grew some things I really like...

6. I baked some things I really like...

 7. I read some excellent books...

8. I appreciate the moments I can notice beauty during some difficult tasks.


I had to shovel snow and painstakingly chip ice off of our sidewalks, driveway, etc. several times during 2013. I did take a few moments to appreciate the "ice flowers" that had formed on some of our pine trees, and hope I can appreciate more moments like this in 2014.

9. Everyone was home for Christmas this year! 

This is an event that I can't take for granted any longer, so I'm grateful we got to enjoy it this year.

10. I got to enjoy another wonderful year with my wonderful sons!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hope for Spring...

even in the face of an impending Winter Storm. It's capitalized because depending on which hyperbolic weather forecast I read, we're predicted to get anywhere from 4-18" of snow, blowing winds, blizzard conditions, below zero temperatures, and general apocalyptic weather conditions. I do appreciate the hard work of meteorologists so I know what's coming, so I made the trip to the grocery store like everyone else. In our house we call it "French Toast Weather" since we seem to be compelled to run out and get milk, eggs, and bread.

The fun part of my storm preparations involved planting some crocus bulbs! I know it's a bit late, but Santa likes to leave half-price bulbs in my stocking, and this is the first chance I've had to plant them. 

Turns out the ground was frozen, so I needed heavier equipment than the trowel.

I did find some interesting ice/soil formations, lovely in their own intriguing way.

Now all my bulbs are resting peacefully, comfortably nestled under their oak leaf blanket. Bring on the snow!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Make More Mistakes!

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're 
Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 
~Neil Gaiman