Monday, January 27, 2014

Wherein I Discuss Ad Nauseam, About Snow and Snow Days, but Also A lot of Less Whiny Stuff Too

Dear friends,

I've just come in from shoveling snow for the past hour. It's 9 degrees out, with a windchill of -7. You can probably guess if I'm in a good mood or not. My cheeks sting, and for some reason, the backs of my legs are frozen. My elbow is in so much pain, why, I don't even know. It's January 27th, and so far, Noah has only been in school for 8 full days. Think about that!
Miraculously though, the good news is, is that school was not cancelled today! The bad news is, there is a  wind chill warning calling for temperatures down to -25 or -35 over the next couple of days,  Rumors are going around that they only opened school today because they anticipate canceling tomorrow and/ or the next day too.

Blog friends, I have been defeated by the polar vortex. It has sucked the will out of me. Between the two and a half week Christmas break, followed by a January with little school, and flu going around and arctic air  freezing everything outside, I've barely left the house only forever. And I  don't even want to leave the house, but at the same time I do want to! So it's very confusing. It's all very hopeless I should say. That or I'm just a thirteen year old girl who is overly emotional.

But anyway, that's where I've been. Doing the Mom stuff and the errands while you can stuff, in-between vortexes and the shoveling thing. I'm kind of backed up on the news from Lake How Bourgeoisbegone, so here's what I've got for ya up until now.

(Btw, I started this post last Friday. I've tried to find some quiet time to write. I've really tried......)

It's been a while since I've picked up the ole' hook & yarn. I don't know why I ever stopped my frantic crocheting pace, other than deciding to devote more of my free time to working on this blog. But  one thing that I do know, is why I haven't worked on this blogged in a while, it's because Noah just had three days off from school and NOW he has today off as well! That's just ONE day of school this week. Not exactly conducive to quiet blogging time.

How stupid is it that this ONE winter, this particularly stupid, crazy, freezing, snowy winter,  we didn't get the storm windows up on Jon and my bedroom windows? Oh.... it's ok, the frost INSIDE the windows each morning melts by noon and then we can see out again.  Lah-di-da.
I'm glad that at least Noah's room is cozy. He has modern windows and walls, unlike ours from the 1860's.

I've been spending these polar vortex WEEKS, wrapped in a purple, fluffy, fleece robe, with slippers on my feet, designed to be like two tiny sleeping bags. For your feet.  The frigid air seems to stream in through tiny spaces between warped doors and door frames. The house whistles when there's a gust of wind. And there are even loud, scary pops and cracks when the temperatures dip low enough! Have you heard of THIS phenomenon?
Noah in his youthful heartiness seems unfazed. He's just glad to be out of school, and the small family room that he's stationed himself in, is adequately warmed by the new fangled space heater.

I though, not being able to stomach anymore Cartoon Network, have been relegated to colder parts of this land. Which is essentially the kitchen and Facebook.
On an unrelated note, I just realized in less than three weeks we have a week-long "Winter Break", and now I am weeping. WEEPING.

Ok, time to stop my whining. Let's move on, WHERE was I? Oh! Crochet.  I've been missing crocheting a lot lately. I used to make one project after another, especially right after our move when I was stressing out over finishing up house projects and other things. Learning how to crochet and then focusing on each piece, really helped me to stay calmer. After a while though, I needed a break, and instead of filling my down time with yarn, I started to blog more often. I'd like to find a bit of balance of both, like Lucy does......

Do you know Lucy? I just LOVE  her blog "Attic24".  She manages to both crochet beautiful, whimsical and happy pieces AND find the time to blog about them. Not to mention that she also has three children, is regularly featured in a well known crochet magazine, and she organizes Yarndale, a big festival for yarn-lovers and crafters. Lucy, HOW do you do it all!? I have so much awe and respect. :)
Oh wait, and.....AND....she cooks and bakes lovely homemade bread and has a studio for which I am very envious! I love reading along to Attic24.
I think this is what I aspire to be!

My most recent project was yet anther scarf. This time I used a shell stitch. I was a very easy pattern and quick! The best part was that it only used two skeins of yarn. It's been a couple of weeks since I completed my scarf, and for the life of me, I can't find the pattern anymore! If you take a look at my Pinterest board for CROCHET, you will find lots and lots of similar patters AND some adorable project ideas that I've collected over the years.

One of the reasons that I decided to make this blue scarf was because I became unsure of the winter hat that I bought this year. I know that sounds a little weird, but after I began to doubt that the peachy color of my hat was good with my coloring, I wanted a blue scarf to blend in with my mittens and my eyes. Something to just tie everything in together, and I knew already that blue was one of my better colors. I think it all comes together ok!

Other than crochet going on around here, there were also a lot of lounging cats.

AND, we found a little pot of wheatgrass at a near by fruit market as a surprise for our lounging cats!

They love it. Now the grass is all chewed on and slobbered on, but at least Hector and Willow seem happy.

I've been cooking a little bit. One thing is this recipe called "Liesl's Pesto Pasta". I found it on Kin Community's You Tube channel.  This homemade ARUGULA pesto is just delicious! The roasted pine nuts give you a pit of protein and the arugula gives everything a nice, spicy kick! My favorite part though, the sweet, oven roasted tomatoes to throw on top of your dish. Make this for your family NOW!!!!

Before processing the arugula pesto...........

.....And after! Arugula, roasted pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and freshly grated parmesan!

Here are the oven roasted tomatoes. I'm sorry that I'm such a poor food photographer. It's just difficult when I'm running all over, trying to get dinner on the table. The lighting in the kitchen is poor too, especially in the evening, In spring and summer, the pictures get a bit better as the sun stays out!

And the end product. I thought this dish was just delicious. I highly recommend that you give it a try!

And here is one more..... Liesl's Artichoke Dip.  I just made this today.  It was quite good and for all you vegans out there, no dairy! This recipe uses artichoke hearts, creamy Canellini beans, roasted red pepers, capers and lemon. It was quick and easy, healthy and delicious.  I chopped up some veggies to dip in the dip, and done!

Don't worry though. I haven't been eating ONLY healthy foods. No. Never!

Here are a few more things. My Mom friends and I have been doing a lot of late night talking over Facebook these days, when waiting to see if a snow day is going to be called or not. One of my friends is so funny and loves to keep us updated on the weather and other school district closing. After the first couple of snow days this month, myself and some other friends began going to our friend Heidi for the latest word. So, I made her this little graphic for her Facebook banner. This is what we call her page as a joke. She's a very good forecaster, she really is! :)

Hey, two cool things happened! #1. I finally learned how to take a screen shot again. ( I had forgotten) and #2. my Pinterest followers hit 1,234! 1-2-3-4. So, I took a picture.

The snow and the cold have continued to be a theme around here. IN FACT! UPDATE! I now have official word that tomorrow will be snow day #5 this month!!! The windchill will be so low that even universities are closing. Amazingly, the University of Michigan called off school due to the cold. This is the first time they've closed for weather since 1978!

At least we were lucky to have a (small) reprieve from the frigid temps this weekend. It was still freezing, don't get me wrong, just not frigid! 
Noah and his friend have been working on this snow fort for a while. We came out on Saturday morning to shovel some new fallen snow from the night before. One minute it looked like this, and literally the next...........

....... THIS!!!! Never in my life have I ever witnessed anything like it! Was this what they call a "snow squall?" I looked down the street and saw a huge gust of snow off in the distance. It was so dense that you could barely see through it and then within ten seconds.....BOOM! We were in a blizzard!!!!! It was both incredible and scary because of how odd it was. I'd say we had an inch or two of snow in ten minutes.

This is the side walk, five minutes after having been shoveled. I started to shovel again mid-snow squall, but decided to just stop.

And as suddenly as it all began...... ten minutes later the snow had just stopped! It was so crazy. We just went on shoveling again and working on the snow fort though. I ran inside and found an old spray bottle, filled it with water and lots of blue food coloring. Snow painting is fun!!!

Here's a picture of the fort from today. It's difficult to see the difference from this angle, but we've had some more snow and it has grown to be five feet tall! Actually, I've just read that this has been the snowiest January in HISTORY for Detroit! The article is a couple of days old and said that we've had 31.1 inches so far this month, so I'd say we're about up to 33" now. There's more predicted before the end of the month too! WOW!

This has nothing to do with snow, but while I was looking through my Flickr account, I found this old picture of Noah. Awwwww.  :)

Noah's Great-Aunt Diane and Uncle Ralph are out in California for the winter. Lucky them! Aunt Diane sent Noah an amazing package full of surprises, like real, fossilized shark teeth, a wonderfully scented spearmint soap in the shape of a train from a place called the "Luffa Farm", a bird caller , mini binoculars, a butterfly book, a flash light and a wooden, 3D black bear puzzle! Pretty cool, huh!? It's fun to get treasures in the mail. Thank you Aunt Diane!!!

I just like this picture of Jon and Hector.

Once I learned how to take screen shots, I became a little crazed. This is pretty nerdy, but remember that Cornell Lab of Ornithology,  Bird Cam that I told you about? Well, I got some awesome screen shots while watching this weekend. (Ok, they're not awesome awesome, but I personally like them....).

The first one is a big, puffy Grouse.

Then I saw some Pine and Evening Grosbeaks!

Lots of Evening Grosbeaks.

On Sunday, when word hit that we were facing up to three more snow days this week, I felt like drastic weather called for drastic measure. Noah seemed a bit stir crazy. I was too. So, I instructed my family that we were going to dip into old Thomas reserves. We've had our wooden Thomas the Tank Engine table and track in the basement for more than two years. Poor things, they were due for some attention.

We have a real "Michigan basement". Which isn't anything to be proud of or happy about. Basically, this means that our basement is very primitive. The ceiling is only about five feet or so high, and the walls are made of big rocks and cement, even dirt! One half of our basement at least has a poured concrete floor and drywall on the walls though, but the other side..... a dirt floor!

Actually the less finished side has an old railroad tie with a spike put through it that is helping to hold up the kitchen! I'm not joking. I imagine that it might have been put there in the later 1910's or 20's when a man named Harry came back from serving in WW1. to live with his wife Esther and her parents for a while. (In our house)!  Harry worked for the "Inter-Urban Railway" which was a light rail train that ran right through our town, from Pontiac in the north to Detroit in the south.

Anyway, the basement as you can imagine, is not great for much except for maybe being a wine cellar or a fruit cellar. We use it to store things, including some of Noah's toys.  I thought they would come up all dusty and gross, but actually they weren't so bad! I put them in Noah's bathtub and spritzed them with some water and an all-purpose cleaner, let them dry, and then dusted anything left. A few pieces need a good scrub, but not so many.

We don't have room for the entire table upstairs, which is kind of a bummer, but for now we're using one of the two rolling bins to store the pieces.

In the end, it took us a good amount of time to get everything done, so I was happy when I saw Noah and his special "honorary big brother" / friend building with them.

Now, onto BIG news! Guess what? Remember the feral cat that we've been feeding? It turns out that they're catS!!!!!!! I couldn't believe my eyes last night. Was I seeing double!? NO WONDER in retrospect, that it seemed like the cat grew so big, so quickly! Now it makes sense. I also think there's a third, I really do. I studied these two cat's faces and I swear there is another one that looks slightly different. O-M-G, my cat fantasy!!!!

I worry about these guys though. It's so cold out. All we can do is keep putting out food and I'm glad about the shelter we built. I shovel paths for them in the snow too. To the food, shelter and across the lawn to the spot on the fence where I always see them climb up and over. The good news is, is that they seem to be acting normal in this cold. (Knock on wood). They look big, not thin, eat a lot and when I see them out the window, they're running and climbing. So, hopefully they'll be ok. I sometimes even wonder if they're somebody's pet because of their size, but they seem so skittish, so maybe not.

And finally, this was me today. There is no better reward for going out into the cold, then a bottle of hot coffee in tow. Can you see the steam? I love my Lifefactory glass water bottle. I highly recommend!

So that's the scoop! That's what's been going on around here. Oh! One more thing.... I started a new "Going Gray" Pinterest board. You can find it by clicking HERE! Right now it only has links to my different gray hair posts, but all of them, so you might want to take a look there if that is one of the reasons you visit my blog. I'll be adding more to it soon.

Well, until next time my friends....stay warm!!!!!

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