Friday, November 21, 2014

And Then.....It Was Winter! I think?

Winter has descended upon us here in Michigan. At least I think it has. Pretty much so. There is snow and snow and snow, and a high of 28 degrees today. I know that the season doesn't "officially" start until next month, but it seems as though Mother Nature has other thoughts. I really don't mind, it was bound to happen sometime, right?


Once upon a time, around 1860, there was a little house built. This little house was much like other little houses of the time in being that it didn't have a lot of insulation. Or maybe any. I don't know. 
Over the past 150 years, somebody stuffed newspaper and STRAW in between the front walls of the little old house and the siding to help keep the heat in and the cold out. And I'm not sure that it's working!

I'm thrilled to be living in this little house 99% of the time, except when I have to take my shower in the Arctic, I mean upstairs. Although we've lugged the huge, heavy, wooden storm windows up the ladder and clipped them into place, it is still FREEZING sometimes. On the old part of the house, we still wake to Jack Frost covered windows and a definite "nip" in the air. For Jon and I, our bathroom is in the old part of the house, at the front, and that room especially, it seems to just want to perpetually be really reaaallly cold. Unless it's sweltering hot. But that's only in the summertime.

Even with super hot showers, which dry out my skin so badly, it's still not enough on the coldest of days to keep me from shivering. I've taken to bringing a space heater into the bathroom. (Don't worry, I'm safe!) I keep it many feet from any water, (the room is fairly large for a bathroom.) I turn it on and try to warm the room before hand, but who really wants to do all of this? Especially last year with the "polar vortex", I was dreading my icy showers. At one point, I almost called them quits in lieu of becoming an unwashed house hermit. But I didn't.

So any way, after having my first frozen shower of the year this week and hating it, I'd finally had enough! I needed too find a solution and amazingly it was RIGHT under my nose the entire time...........
I just used the other bathroom.

Yep. I just used the shower in Noah's bathroom that is in the "modern day" part of the house. You know, like a room that actually has insulation and not 150 year old windows. This bathroom is small, with a big heating vent and it's amazingly toasty! Not only that, but unlike our shower, one that has comically old and narrow pipes that practically drip your water pressure out, this shower has AMAZING water pressure! I literally forgot what real showers felt like! It was FANTASTIC!!!

I am never taking another shower in my bathroom again. At least not until the thaw. And now I feel like I have a game-plan and can face winter as both a warm and a clean person. 

Here are a few pictures from the past few wintery days........

There is nary a more joyful joy than THIS happening:

No, NOT watching Cartoon Network. Nothing more joyful than the turning on of the fireplace!
Now we're talking. This is how the evening should be spent, under thermal blankets, around the fire. 

I caught a picture of this adorable site a few nights ago. I'm so glad these two have become friends. Now they snuggle most nights while watching an episode of "Full House" together.  I'm not joking, they are both obsessed with Full House reruns. Just the other day they were SUPER excited when the episode about "Comet the dog" came on. Do you remember that one? Where a Golden Retriever allegedly walked from Ohio to California, (so Noah says) and then the Tanners adopted her? But then, her owner showed up to take the dog home. D.J. and Stephanie and Michelle were heartbroken, but the dog suddenly had puppies and they got to keep one....hence, "Comet."

So yeah, because of winter, you can make a fire in the fireplace and buy fluffy blankets and lounge on the couch while watching Full House.

Did you know that at not even five months old, Josie has her first job!? Yep. She's a personal trainer! Really! This is Lucy. (You might have met her before.) Lucy is my parents' dog. (They also have Buddy. See below.) Lucy is supposed to lose a few pounds, but doesn't usually run a whole lot. Her brother Buddy is eight years old, and he isn't inclined to challenge her to a race, but.....JOSIE is!!!

My Mom has hired Josie to come over a couple of times a week to zoom around her backyard and get Lucy and Buddy running. And run they do!

It's actually very very sweet. I feel like the happiest thing is Josie's life is when I say to her: "Josie! Do you want to go to Nana's house to see Buddy and Lucy!?" She starts barking and RACES to the side door, waiting for her leash and to hop into the car. She is CRAZY about going to see her Nana and her Aunt and Uncle dogs!

Their yard is quite large. Much bigger than ours and mostly wide-open lawn. This is a great time for Josie to run all over.

They play very nicely together. Lucy acts like a babysitter! I saw her help Josie yesterday when Josie became stuck behind a garden fence.

Josie was loving the snow on this day. She was actually trying to tunnel through it! Lucy thought she was crazy and tried to convince her to get up.

That's me in my snow gear. I was trying to get all of the snow and snowballs off of Josie. Snowballs actually form on her hair! Do you know how many times yesterday, I have to use the hair dryer on my dog? It takes a long time. I noticed that her new dog coat keeps her stomach and chest from collecting snow, so I'll be sure to use it next time.

So that's really the scoop. I guess other than that, I've been doing some shoveling and really trying to get used to being outside on walks and in my yard multiple times a day during cold weather. We still go outside in the backyard with Josie on every potty break. She continues to be interested in eating sticks and rocks and pine cones, so I can't let her out of my sight. I'm a little worried it's going to be a long winter....

We might at some point get a lead line that lets her go down the deck stairs and around the grassy area. Then maybe we could eventually let her out alone for a little bit during the winter. There are just too many chewing objects in the rest of the yard right now, with all of the ground cover and foliage and pebble paths. She'll outgrow the chew urge someday.

Oh! One awesome "winter" change..... I don't care about leggings anymore. I used to be afraid to wear them, especially in public. And now, well, I'm still scared, but I don't even care, I'll just wear them. It's too cold and snowy not to wear boots on my walks and in the yard. I need warm leggings to tuck into warm boots and I need to be comfortable and bendy because all day I'm running around, playing on the floor with the puppy or toweling her off. So yeah, don't care anymore. Leggings!

I have been trying so hard since getting my pilates tape in August, to do ab exercises everyday, and leg exercises too, and to take a lot of walks and to not eat after dinner. I'm trying to do things that help me feel less afraid of leggings. It's been fun. I guess you can't tell in that picture above because I'm wrapped in a puffer coat, but I'm trying to be MY best version of fit. I've lost about a pant size. About. Actually though, I haven't weighed myself in forever, it was just something about adding in resistance exercises and core exercises that suddenly started helping. Working those muscles finally! 

This is my new uniform for regular days at home:

I LOVE Lands' End's Starfish Collection leggings. They are very well made and thick and comfortable. They were recently 40% off, so I bought a couple more pairs. I'm also going to try their stretchy corduroy version leggings because they have had great reviews and are said to be warm. I'm a bit worried that they will be unflattering, but it's worth at least a try!

Then on top I wear two layers. A girlie tank top and cotton henley or waffle knit thermal. I've tried to find feminine colors like pinks and purples and little prints. And I've found tank top colors that compliment the shirt colors. Kind of to "cute-ify" such a casual look. I feel a little sloppy in this "uniform", so I try to at least look a little cute. Target has some good, basic tops by Mossimo Supply Co. Actually, I just found them on sale! Tanks for $5 and henleys  and waffle knit shirts for just $8! My favorite waffle knit is the print with tiny foxes and hearts on them.

(I have this shirt is a pastel purple and pink.)

(This is the waffle knit that comes in a tiny fox and hearts print.)

And finally, the most important part, the BOOTS! When  you're traipsing through the snow ten times a day, you need boots! I'm lucky that my Father loves to send me shoes. I found these reasonably priced, light-weight and comfortable, waterproof boots by Kamik on They are the "Brooklyn Boot" in plum, and I love them! 

They're light enough for dog walks and so far, the traction has been good. The boots feel warm, I haven't even...errr....worn socks! (I HATE nothing more than getting my socks wet, so I've just been avoiding socks since it snowed.) I think they look cute too!

And that's about it. My Lands' End coat has been holding up well and really keeping me warm. (It's 40% off today!) I've been wearing homemade hats that I've crocheted over the years and some mittens from last year that I found at Target. Oh! And my Mosey bag has been a lifesaver! It's just so versatile and goes along for the dog walks perfectly holding everything I need, like doggie bags and treats, my keys, phone. All in easily accessible pockets. The bag has been super durable so far. I just love it.

One goal I've had lately is to find more time to crochet for the relaxing aspect of it. Even if it's for just 15 minutes and I don't make anything major, crochet for me is very therapeutic. It helps when I'm feeling  anxious or stressed. 

Tonight I tried my hand at one of these crocheted snowflakes! It's a nice little tutorial from one of my favorites, Lucy at Attic24! She has the best web based tutorials. I made three, they're very sweet and I hope to make enough to hang in my windows as decoration!

And speaking of snowflakes and tutorials, my favorite crochet tutorials on YouTube are from the lovely Bob Wilson 123! I love love love her videos. She posted today (so very timely) a video on how to "stiffen" your crocheted snow flacks so that you can hang them up. Pretty cool! Take a look!

This week I also started an new board on pinterest called : EASY VEGETARIAN LUNCH IDEAS.
Everyday at lunch I'm just grazing, eating this or that with no plan. By dinnertime, no, before dinnertime, I'm starving! I've realized that I need to make proper lunches and I'm trying to come up with some good recipes. You might want to take a loot at the new board. It has some salads, like my favorite..."farro salad" and sandwiches like these gorgeous "Green Goddess" sandwiches from the site "The Bojon Gourmet! Yum!


Also, as a family tonight, we made homemade pizza and watched the documentary I AM by Tom Shadyac. It poses two questions: "what's wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better?" This was an incredible documentary. In a nutshell: world-wide, societies are straying from community and connectedness, and instead we live in a culture of competition and consumption. We are all connected truly and these days many of us concentrate more on what we want to accumulate rather than how we can help those that need our help the most. It sounds depressing, but actually this tale is told in a very inspiring way. You leave feeling like you can work to make change in this world!

And that's everything for now. :)

Until next time, stay warm my friends and enjoy the snow if you have some!
Lauren :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Grateful For......

The magical thing that is a boy and his dog. And maybe even more so, for the opportunity to have a boy and his dog!

Thankful for puppies who have stopped chewing on everything and EVERYONE. And a boy who has now formed a special friendship and bond with said puppy. After she stopped trying to chew him ...... (Their current obsession: watching Full House reruns together.)

Grateful for the discovery that when puppies continue to wake up at 6:00am, even on weekends- after a quick potty trip, you can get them to go back to sleep if you snuggle on the couch.

And I'm happy for early birthday presents! The homemade kind. This time it was a "BMO" scarf made from a tutorial found on Red & Rosy! BMO, for those of you who don't know, is the adorable, little:
" living video game console, portable electrical outlet, music player, roommate, camera, alarm clock, toaster, flashlight, strobe light, skateboarder, friend, soccer player, video editor, video player, tape player and Chef."

From the cartoon "Adventure Time." One of Noah's favorites!

Speaking of birthdays!!!! I'm grateful for TEN wonderful years with this guy! :) And for the early birthday morning present opening party. And REALLY grateful that when he woke up the first time at 4:30am, he knew on his own that it was TOO EARLY to wake us up. 6:00 am was a much more human time on a Sunday morning! (Not really, but I'll take what I can get.)

I'm very lucky to be able to capture that look of childhood thrill when opening the present that you wanted so badly.  And HOW did that wrapping paper fly up like that!? Weird!

And honestly, what is truly more wonderful than having one's Grandparents gathered around him to help celebrate?
 \(^-^)/ Isn't that nice!? We walked to lunch, a restaurant that Noah picked. He specifically went for the fire roasted asparagus and truffle pizza. That was YUM! 

And finally on the Noah birthday front, I am grateful that these three guys blew out the candles together and I was able to get a shot in time! I hope his wish came true...... :)

Moving on! Although to some people this might be a bit nerdy, or a small thing, I can't tell you how thankful I am for the bird watching in my backyard. I thought I'd have to stop for good, now that we have Josie. It was bitter sweet for me. I was feeling sad as fall began, thinking about all of the migrating and wintering birds I'd miss. Then though, I came up with a plan. First I took down all of my feeders out in the yard, under the pergola. I was going to try "controlled"small-scale bird feeding.  I'd only have a few feeders, close to the house, gated off below so that Josie couldn't get to the feeders or any of the shells that might drop. Jon bought me this great bird feeder pole! It's PERFECT! We also purchased some wire garden fence and fenced off a large rectangle below the feeders. So far, so good! Even the squirrels have steered clear because they can't climb the pole. I haven't seen a single squirrel in this area.

I could not believe my luck, when in just a few days, one of my favorite birds, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker showed up at my suet feeder! Isn't she pretty?

We've had Black Capped Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Dark-Eyed Junkos, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Sparrows, A House Finch, lots of Goldfinches, Mourning Doves, Bluejays, Downey Woodpeckers, and a Hairy Woodpecker.

What, WHAT is more beautiful than a bright Cardinal in the snow? It makes me so happy. :)

One great thing about the bird feeding and the bird watching, is that it's live television for Willow and Josie too! They love to "bird watch!"

Or..... maybe it's the other way around.... the birds like to watch them.........

I am grateful for cute dog coats and the willing dogs that wear them. (Really, seriously, it's COLD here. Cold enough for a dog coat. Tomorrow's HIGH is 27 degrees Fahrenheit/ -2 Celsius.)

Which brings me to something else that I am very happy for - the SNOW!!!! I know that in public, I make small talk, and nod my head when other people say how much they hate the snow. I nod my head because I understand their frustrations, but truthfully, I happen to LOVE the snow! Sure, I agree that driving is treacherous (heck, I have a Mini!) and icy sidewalks are scary and shoveling is big job, but the beauty of snow, it's unmatched.

Every single morning that we can, which is most, Josie and I go out for our big walk. We do a 1.3 mile loop down into the neighborhood and up into town, which might not sound like a lot, but when your inseam is 4", it's a lot! Also, there is a big, long hill and lots of stops at every tree and fence and wall, so it takes us about 50 minutes. But anyway, it's always so wonderful. Yesterday we even saw a red fox with a white tail off in the distance in a park. And with the snow now, it's even more fantastic! Crisp, clean, morning air to start the day. It's definitely one of the best parts of my day, and I am really glad I get to do it!

These photos are not in chronological order, but I was VERY thankful for a lovely fall, with fantastic fall foliage and gorgeous days so we could all go to the park. <3 p="">

While since becoming a puppy parent, I haven't had as much time as usual to cook, once in a while you get in a nice dish. This was my take on the freshest Greek Salad I could come up with. Cucumbers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, croutons, beets and feta. (Now I'm hungry just typing this!)

Ah! I was super grateful to have the right to VOTE! WOO HOO! Get out and vote! I don't know, every time, the exciting feeling never gets old.

Another birthday! Actually, this was Jon's birthday, and his was a couple of weeks before Noah's. (These pictures are really out of order.) I am thankful for another birthday together with Jon. I remember him when he had just turned 19! I remember Jon's 24th birthday when we felt so OLD.... Lol. (We went to karaoke with friends. He was on crutches and sang Mack the Knife on stage.

This was an "invention cake." Meaning, I invented it. The cake was kind of lope-sided. It was a vanilla cake with coconut buttercream and chocolate chip filled raspberries for decoration.
We didn't do much for his mid-week birthday (Jon is not the biggest fan of making a fuss over his special day), but I did get to take him out for dinner over the following weekend.

Times like these. I know they don't last forever.  Homework after dinner, together. So nice.

Ah, the BMO scarf makes it's return! I'm thankful that I have a kid who is still willing to wear my handy-craft. This is a picture of the TODDLER hat that he found this weekend and declared it to be an "awesome beanie hat!" It was a prototype that I made ten years ago or more, for a craft fair. Those are puffball snowmen with goggly eyes and sparkly snowflakes on it.

I am happy that for two more years, I get to experience the "school birthday treat." This year it was Rice Krispie treats with sprinkles on top! He looks proud. :)

And last but not least, I'm thankful for YOU! \(^-^)/

Until next time, stay warm!