Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coffee or Tea?

This makes me happy.

The coffee pot set to brew when I awake.
The hot water kettle waiting for its turn to be put to use.
The winter mugs ready for service.

The snowflake mugs we bought for our kids as a stocking gift one year.  The other two, the kids bought for us this year as a stocking gift.

And not far away, just in the drawer below, await the rest.

The everyday mugs put away while we use the winter ones.
The various teas. Bag or looseleaf, black or herb, what tempts you?
The coffee - beans or ground.

Another wonderful joy of bitter cold winter mornings, noons, and nights - coffee or tea!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Soup's On Again

One thing about these frigid temps that have been around already a long time, is that a hot bowl of soup always sounds yummy.

I tried another new recipe tonight.  Pumpkin and Sausage Soup.

I was so intrigued by the name.  Not to mention that in the description she states that, "I'm surprised you can't really taste the pumpkin."  I couldn't imagine what it must taste like, nor how one couldn't taste the pumpkin.

But she was right.  You do not taste the pumpkin.  But boy oh boy the soup is tasty.  I added 1 Tbsp of Penzey's Italian Herb Mix because unlike Linda, I knew I would like it.  Once again I got the recipe from Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes.  Here is the link so you can try it too!

Go on, be daring, it really is good!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Understanding Mother

My youngest daughter, Abigail, asked me to provide the parts of speech as she filled in a Mad Lib.  Here it is with my provided words in bold:
A good wine, served angrily, can make any meal a truly pretty occasion. The red wines have a hot flavor that blends with boiled snowfalls or smoked swing set. White wines range in flavor from freezing to bright. The best wines are made by peasants in (the) Alps from the juice of ripe jars, by putting them in vats and squashing them with their mournful feet. This is what gives wine that happy aroma. Here are a few rules:

  1. Always serve white wine in a dull glass at socks temperature. 
  2. Never serve burgundy with fried cars.
  3. Wines should always be drunk happily or you're liable to end up with a deflated stomach.

Yesterday, my oldest daughter, Hannah, sent me this pin after I opened a Black Box.

Do you think my girls understand me? 

Sunday, January 19, 2014


This was the summer of projects.  We finished and I am finally sharing the results with you.

Painting our bedroom was the first of our projects.

When we first added the wall paint after painting the ceiling, I wasn't sure I liked it.  It didn't seem to blend.  I was scared and angry because I had picked these two colors off the same color swatch.  If that didn't work for blending colors, then how is anyone who is color-decorated challenged like me going to have any success?

But as it dried and we finished all the walls, it really looked nice.  I love the way the greens set off the white bedding, curtains, and trim.

The next big project was moving children into different bedrooms.  This led to dominoes of other projects, but we persevered and four of the children have new rooms.

First the boys were moved into the basement.
This room has served many purposes over our ten years living in this home.  Now it will serve well our two sons.  Bigger than their room they shared upstairs, they have room for lots of their treasures and space for friends to camp out on the floor.  What you cannot see in this picture are the shelves on the right and the left, and the "closet" behind.  The "closet" is a shelf and rod David arranged to give them a place for their hanging clothes and shoes.  With exposed stud walls and joists, we are trying to convince the boys this is all the rage in loft apartments.

Now that the boys were moved to the basement, Abby was moved into their old room.

We told her she could get a new comforter and cover and pick paint.  It is fun to see her personality and style come out in those two simple things.  A cherry striped comforter cover and bright, bold green walls to match.  Her pink body pillow compliments it all well.  She loves having her own room and is often found sitting on her bed, reading.

With Abby moved to her own room, Ellie at last has a room to call her own.

She, too, was able to pick a new comforter and cover and paint.  When she said she didn't want a comforter cover, I balked.  When she said she wanted two colors, a dark blue and a dark grey, I questioned her reasoning. Now that it is done, it looks fabulous, and I should learn to trust her vision and try new things.  The dark walls contrast well with the white comforter, the maple bedroom suite, the white trim and the lace curtains.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture but the wall behind her bed is the dark grey. The other walls are this lovely deep blue.

We found for her the desk and chair at the thrift store and the mirror at the Ladies' Aid garage sale.  For years Ellie has wanted her own room and a desk.  Finally, she waits no longer.

I ran out of paint when I painted her grey wall. Ugh.  I had not planned on painting the upstairs hallway  at that time, even though I had already picked a grey color I would like.  But since I needed to buy more paint for Ellie's wall, and the grey was in the same family as the grey I had picked, although darker, I decided to just keep painting.

So the last painting project was the hallway.

I am quite happy with the results.

Since our trip to Europe, I had visions of hanging a collage of pictures from our trip on our hallway walls.  For my birthday, the kids gave me money to spend at Snapfish in order to pick the prints I wanted.  For Christmas, David and I decided to simply complete the project.   I picked frames from Kohl's and pictures from all the places we visited.  Choosing which pictures to print and which should be in a bigger size was challenging.  I stood in the aisle at Kohl's for a long time deciding which frames would work best.  Eventually I stopped fretting and just bought them.

I had seen on Pinterest the idea of hanging brown paper, cut to the frame size, onto the wall with painter's tape.  This allows an easy way to see how the pictures will look and to rearrange them rather easily.  It really worked well, and for a long time our walls were decorated with brown paper.

You probably noticed that I still have two of them hanging on the wall. No it is not because I liked it and decided to keep that as part of the decor.  It is because one of the frames I brought home was broke and Kohl's has not had another one in the store.  The other is one that we have yet to find a frame to fit the picture as it is an odd size.

Our projects: painting and pictures.  Come visit and see them in person!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cold, Winter Mornings

Living in a cold, snowy, northern state, I was surprised by two things.

One is that mudrooms/laundry rooms/back entryway/whatever-you-like-to-call-it aren't as big as they need to be.  It takes a lot of room for boots and snow pants, hats and mittens, coats and scarves.  Add multiple people to a family and that causes exponential math equations to make even Susan's mind explode. ;-)

The other surprise is that not every home has a fireplace, mine included.  No sitting around the fire at night listening to the fire crackle while reading a book or playing a game or wasting time on the internet.  I, at least, get one, sometimes two, glorious weeks of doing just that at camp.  Which makes it quite special and greatly anticipated.

Despite these two surprises,  I've been given a lovely home in which to live and it really has served our family and friends well.  We make it work, even if we trip over boots on the way in and out.  Or forgot to get our coat before we put our wet boots on and yell for help from the doorway.  We are so used to these scenarios , it simply seems normal.

However one of the little things that make this home so nice for a cold, snowy, winter climate is this:

Both of our bathrooms have this same switch.  That top right button sure makes showering in the winter not something to dread. So even though we will stumble over boots, search for mittens and scarves, and are not able to warm ourselves sipping coffee, tea, or hot chocolate next to a roaring fire after we were out in the cold and snow, we have this little luxury.  A little button that warms us up on a cold winter morning.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Eating Means Food Preparation

Anyone who knows me and my family and has visited here knows this; we like to eat.  Meals, three times per day, plus snacks.  No wonder we enjoy Tolkien so much, we relate to Hobbits quite well.

All this love of food means I cook, a lot.  Every day I cook multiple meals.  The kids keep growing as do their stomachs, which means we rarely have leftovers. Therefore I cook every day, multiple meals.  Yes, even breakfast.  Not always did I fix hot breakfasts with such regularity, but now, every morning there is some sort of meat and eggs being cooked to break our fast.

Dinner and Supper are the same - some sort of meat and side dishes of vegetables prepared for the hungry bellies of this family.  Yes, both the noon meal and evening meal I'm cooking.  Since my husband works next door, he comes home to eat with us.  Since we like food, the meals are almost always hot.

Oh don't misunderstand, there are times where we have accumulated enough left overs that it is "pick your own" night and my job is simply to heat the food.  And there are also nights where all they get is sliced sausages and cheeses, vegetables and fruit.  But mostly, you'll find me in the kitchen preparing the next meal.

Honestly, I like doing it.  Sure, I've been known to say, "I don't want to cook," a time or two or three.  There is though, one food I really do not like preparing.

Oh grapefruit, how I hate your individual sections that need cut.  The tediousness of going along each seam.  Making sure to cut on both sides, otherwise you fight the spoon and then the eater and anyone in the near vicinity gets a juice bath.

Oh grapefruit, your tartness affirms how you mock me.  You know my dislike for you.  Yet you have enamored several of my children, who long for the winter because it means you are in season and they can enjoy you.

Oh grapefruit, long has my husband loved you and your juice.  Who, along with the aforementioned children would happily eat you everyday.

Oh grapefruit, because I love my husband and kids, I buy you all season.  I even cut all those sections for the kids who ask, even for my husband.  But I do not enjoy it.  You are one of the foods, in all that I prepare, that really annoy me.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Our family likes to play games.  Not all the time.  Not everybody, every game.  Sometimes it is only one or two each and every time.  But we do like to play games.  Party games, board games, thinking games, card games, and every other kind of game.  Like most game-playing people, we have our favorites.  Strategy type games is one of those. This year we got two new strategy games.

Hannah has wanted Smallworld ever since we played it with our friends, Andrew and Mindy.  She finally decided it was worth parting with her hard-earned money and brought it home for us to play New Year's Eve.

It is fun and the whole family played.  Smallworld is a game of races who conquer lands and then go into decline.  Each race has a special power that allows them to conquer certain lands more easily or get more points or some such ability.  There are 8 rounds for players to utilize their race(s) to earn the most points conquering lands and other races.  The player with the most money/points at the end of the 8th round wins.

On Christmas Day, my niece brought their new game, 7 Wonders.  She, Hannah, Sam, and I all played it and really enjoyed it.  We decided to use a gift card to purchase the game for our family.

This card based game can be played with 3-7 players.  Each player randomly chooses one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. There are three "ages," rounds, in which to earn victory points.  This is an easy game to learn, but several played games will ensure you have a better understanding of which strategy to undertake to win the most points.

Another game our niece and nephew brought on Christmas Day is Wits and Wagers.

This fun game is on our list to bring home from the store.  Each player has thirty seconds to write down their answer (always a number) to a question on a dry erase board.  Answers are then placed on the board lowest to highest.  Players then have another thirty seconds to place wagers on which answer they think is closest without going over.  A game lasts for seven questions and the winner is the one with the most chips.  Fast paced and fun, this makes for a great party game.

Next time you come visit, let me know which game you would like to play with us!

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Little Help From My Friends

Last year I took Jane's challenge and, despite my nerves about making a list, found that I really enjoyed this challenge.  Not only did it keep me reading, I discovered some good books, some not-so-good books (ahem - tale of two cities), and that having a list was actually a benefit, not a chain around my neck.

She issued the challenge again this year and once again I accept.

The List of Books I Plan to Read:
1. The Quest for the Secret Keeper by Victoria Laurie
2. A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
3. Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper
4. The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
5. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
6. Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning by Nancy Pearcy
7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
8. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
9. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

1. Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini