We woke up to about six inches of drifting snow this morning – a much lower amount than forecasters had been predicting for our area. That said, CPT A still had to get out the snow blower (only the second time we’ve used it this winter) and clear the drive.
Meanwhile, I grabbed a shovel, cleared off the porch and worked on a path to the front door.
I wore my new camel hat…
…and am pleased to report it kept my head toasty warm and dry. In fact, when I finally came in, I had a coating of ice on the hat that I hadn’t even noticed. (It was sleeting as I shoveled).
The birds are not pleased with the weather.
They came out briefly to look at the ground I’d shoveled for them and then returned to the barn where it’s warm and dry.
The snow means there will be no “visiting” for them for a few days. The turkey and guinea hen have discovered that our neighbor to the north is generous with birdseed and have been frequenting her backyard feeders. They’ve also been sauntering up her front walk…
We caught them at it the other day – they looked like they were going for tea. Thankfully, our neighbor is understanding and says she enjoys it when the birds stop by.
Inside the house, things have been pleasantly cozy. The government shutdown has me looking into the pantry for meal ideas more than I have in the past (I’m ashamed to say), and I discovered all sorts of neglected ingredients that needed to be put to use. I started by channeling my surplus of flour into basic white bread (very popular with the family)…
…then progressed to a “Heidelberg Rye” (not quite as popular – I think I added too much rye flour and the loaves were pretty dense. They looked nice, though!)
Meanwhile, Alison baked cookies to put a dent in our stock of peanut butter, and I threw together a pan of “Mary Jane Gingerbread” with the last of the molasses and some forgotten whipping cream.
If you’re interested in the recipe (and it’s a good one!), you can find it HERE. I first came by it in Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Cookbook (1964). She says the recipe belonged to her grandmother.
In other news, the girls learned how to make soap this past week at a class offered by the East Longmeadow Library.
Aren’t these cute?
And they work!
The ducks are actual rubber ducks (CPT A thought they were soap, too, at first). I think these would make really cute gifts.
And, finally, here’s a picture of a sunrise I enjoyed this past week.
CPT A and I periodically complain about how we never get to sleep in now because of the chickens. And, it’s true. Seven days a week, we’re up with the sun…. But, the upside of that is…we’re up with the sun, and that’s often a very beautiful time to be up and about.
From the dining room table, noticing that it has begun to snow…again,
We’ve had a very busy past few days!
The girls danced in our church’s Medieval/Epiphany festival while CPT A and I both helped behind the scenes. I worked as an usher. CPT A did everything from greeting guests and performing first aid to animal wrangling. One of his many tasks was to help get the three camels in the performance through the church’s front doors.
These are the same camels who perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York City over the holiday season. It felt a bit like meeting a celebrity!
The entire weekend was fun, exciting…and exhausting. I’m very glad it’s over. Monday, I tackled laundry, dishes, and walked the dogs for the first time in days….all the things that had gone undone while we were off “playing theater.” Performance life is colorful and lively for sure, but I’m a homebody at heart, and it was definitely nice to get back to a more normal routine.
My idea of thrilling is seeing wild turkey tracks in the snow – something I saw with the dogs on one of our walks this past week.
It always surprises me how big they are.
And, while we’re on the topic of turkeys, our turkey has figured out how to get on the barn roof. Can you see her up there near that dead pine bough?
It’s really not that big of a feat for her. She has only to hop on the neighbor’s fence, turn around, and leap another three feet to the roof. I’m told that wild turkeys roost in trees, so this probably feels perfectly normal to her. It’s a little surprising to see, though.
In knitting news, I started a nice, easy project to fill down time during dress rehearsals and odd moments of the festival – something I could knit even in the dark if need be. (And, no, I didn’t knit while I was an usher, though I was tempted!)
It’s a scarf pattern that uses two separate shades of a single yarn – you switch from one to the other every two rows. It’s very easy and you get a wonderful stripe effect. I’m using Lion Brand Amazing yarn, but you could use any yarn, really. If you’re intrigued, you can find the pattern HERE.
And, finally – here’s a shot CPT A got with a phone camera on the last night of the festival. Things had finally quieted down, almost everyone else had left, and he brought us outside to point out how the light came through a particular tree in front of the church – something he had noticed while directing traffic earlier in the evening.
The photo doesn’t do it justice, of course. But, it was very magical at the time – a sort of whorling pattern of tree branches with light at the end; one of those quiet, eerily beautiful things that are so easy to miss if you don’t just happen to see them.
From the dining room table, hoping you, too, will see something quiet, and eerily beautiful in the coming week,
“Cozy” is the worm I’d use to describe our New Year’s Eve this year. For us, it was a rainy night with lots of wind – the perfect weather for hunkering down by the fire and watching old movies…which is exactly what we did. After a very busy and full Christmas season, having a night for the family to just sit and relax together felt like an enormous luxury. I highly recommend it.
Here you see Manny pretending he is a lap dog.
That dog loves the fire. The minute we light one, he plunks himself down in front of it, or near enough to catch some of the warmth.
A highlight of our evening was the Black Forest cake I made.
Doesn’t that look impressive? Here’s a secret: it’s from a mix. Can you believe it? It was a German mix that I picked up at Yankee Candle. You can find the mix online, too. It’s the Kathi Black Forest Cake Mix. And, while it’s a step up from the cake mixes you find at the grocery store, it’s still pretty easy to put together. A warning, though – it’s not nearly as sweet. In fact, we ended up adding powdered sugar to the whipping cream that you use to frost the cake. (The mix didn’t call for any sort of sweetener). Also, the maraschino cherries were my idea. You were supposed to use cherries from the canned ones you used in the filling, but the canned cherries we had were flesh-toned and not very pretty on their own, so I went the maraschino route.
And how did it taste? Delicious! I would absolutely make this cake again.
Shortly after New Year’s Day, all of the Christmas decorations came down.
Well, not all of them. I left the twinkle lights up, and the front window boxes are still filled with their greens, the sled remains on the front porch, and all of the candles are still in the windows. Basically, anything that wasn’t too Christmassy got to stay – especially if it kept things feeling cozy. We’re heading into the bleak winter months now, and anything that can help dispel the gloom is most welcome.
Something else that is dispelling the gloom – a new knitting project!
This is the camel yarn that Pepper gave me for Christmas. She knew I’d lost the camel yarn hat I’d knit several years ago and had been lamenting its loss ever since. This yarn is actually 100% camel – and baby camel at that – so it’s very soft and knits up like a cloud.
So far, I’ve finished a hat to replace the one I lost. With the remaining yarn, I plan to make some fingerless gloves. I haven’t quite settled on a pattern, though. I hope to have pictures to show you in about a week.
So – that brings you up to date. I hope your New Year is off to a wonderful start and that you, too, are relishing these cozy, quiet days after the holiday season.
From the dining room table, getting ready to walk the dogs,