A Very Pleasant Week – and a Birthday!

Things slowed waaaay down for us this past week. Most of the kids’ activities were on hold. School paused, and, with the holidays confining themselves to the weekends, we had a nice stretch of days where all we did was sit around the house. For me, this meant a lot of reading, crafting, and dog walking, but also time to plan meals and catch up a bit on housework that had been neglected.

I did pause each day for mince pie.

I love mince pie, but no one else in the house does, so when I saw these individual pies at the local grocery store, I decided this would be a good way to get my annual mince ration. They’re delicious warmed in the oven and are just the right amount for an afternoon snack.

The slower pace also gave me time to try some new recipes. One of my favorites was Cincinnati Chili. Have you ever had that?

It’s basically just chili served over spaghetti, but the cookbook I used listed ways to “dress it up” with things like chopped onions, red beans, and cheddar, and it made for a really fun – and tasty – meal.

I worked quite a bit on my Fireside Throw.

For color inspiration, I’ve turned to last year’s page-a-day art calendar and am using the paintings to guide my yarn choices for each hexagon. It’s been a lot of fun to spend more time with the artwork, and I think this method will improve the overall look of the afghan as well.

I finished Ginger’s impossible-to-photograph raspberry hat.

She loves it and has already worn it quite a bit. The stitch used to produce the raspberry “texture” wasn’t a hard one, but it did take some time in certain rows, much as a cable pattern would. Overall, it was pleasant to knit, and I’d certainly make another if she asked.

The big New England snowstorm largely missed us. The chickens were still able to walk through the yard afterward. Here they are in the garden.

They much prefer the area around the woodpile, though, which stays relatively snow-free thanks to the sheltering of some very large pine trees.

And, finally, Pepper celebrated her fifteenth birthday! She’s very interested in rocks and minerals right now, so we spent part of the day at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge.

Our first stop, of course, was the Earth & Planetary Sciences gallery to see the mineral and gem collection.

Definitely lots to see there.

But I think we had just as much fun in the rest of the museum. The girls were fascinated by all the arthropods floating in glass jars, the dinosaur bones, and the plentiful taxidermy.

Here’s Ginger in front of a hummingbird display. (Yes, all of those birds are hummingbirds!)

Normally, I don’t think of taxidermy as a museum highlight, but this museum has such a variety of animals preserved and has them displayed so accessibly, you can’t help but learn a lot just by looking at them. You see things much more closely than you would in a zoo or an aviary, and often a skeleton is displayed alongside the animal, giving you a fascinating look at what’s going on under the skin. We laughed a lot, because some of the animals look very funny, but we definitely learned a lot too.

Finally, one last photo of Memorial Hall taken by Pepper as we left Harvard. This was just one of many beautiful buildings on campus.

Even if we hadn’t stopped in at the museum, the university itself, would have been worth a visit.

From the dining room table, hoping to get the tree taken down this afternoon,

Mrs. Smythe

8 Comments on “A Very Pleasant Week – and a Birthday!

  1. Isn’t Cincinnati chili delicious? Sometimes we just whip up “mock” Cincinnati chili . . . our regular chili recipe, atop angelhair pasta, topped with sour cream.
    And I had no idea Harvard boasted such lovely architecture . . .

    • I wonder where I’ve been that I hadn’t heard of Cincinnati chili before this. Sour cream sounds tempting. I hadn’t thought of adding that.

  2. Ooh, that sounds like the perfect way to spend MY birthday! You live near so many interesting galleries/museums/natural areas I don’t imagine you are ever at a loss for things to do!
    I made two trays of mince pies this year and most of them were eaten by me. No wonder my clothes are feeling a bit uncomfortable, but it was so worth it…

  3. I would have enjoyed going to the Natural History Museum, too! What a great place to visit, birthday or no. Amazing there are so many different species of hummingbirds!

    • I was shocked by that display. I had no idea there were so many. They were so beautiful, too! You would have really enjoyed seeing those, for sure.

    • You’re right – this IS an amazing area for museums and such. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of what is available in Boston. It’d definitely one of my favorite things about living in this area. And, two trays of mince pies sounds like a great amount! I found a recipe for small mince pies in a British magazine I read this past holiday season, and I think that maybe next year I’ll make some up and perhaps freeze them…or binge on them. One or the other. Whichever I choose, I intend to keep up the mince tradition – even if I’m the only one eating the pies. You’re right – it IS worth it.

  4. Happy Birthday to Pepper! 15 is a great landmark. I’m so glad you got to see the museum! It looks wonderful.

    • It was definitely one of the best Natural History museums we’ve visited. And, I think it would be great for all ages. The little kids we saw seemed to enjoy the taxidermy almost as much as we did.