“What About Second Winter?!”

On this fine-weathered March day, in honor of the Midwest and, specifically, Wisconsin. Just to brighten your day! 🙂

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Nesting a Car

Nesting is a funny thing. We ready-to-pop pregnant mothers have so little energy, but a buzz of unexpected, out of the blue get-up-and-go can enable us to do some hard stuff. I have so little energy right now, and the little mister inside of me is currently grinding his head into some rather painful nerves, making it hard to walk and causing my sciatic to go bonkers. Naughty boy! So moving is difficult, to say the least. But yesterday I went down into our attached garage to clean the seat where our baby will go. Vacuum up the crumbs, clean off the spill of milk from my daughter, and then hook in the base for his infant car seat. I took a big rag, some safe cleaner, and the dustbuster to vacuum up the crud and crumbs.

About ten minutes later I realized I was upside down vacuuming under the seat, and that I’d removed two car mats already. And I couldn’t stop! I just kept removing mats and vacuuming and vacuuming and vacuuming, crawling and getting myself into crazy positions to try and get the crumbs and crud that liked to hide in out-of-the-way places and corners, and then I took my rag and cleaner and scrubbed and scrubbed. Then I took the rubber mats and dumped them in the tub of our basement bathroom, grabbed a cleaning brush, and washed and scoured them till they looked like new. Finally, an hour-and-a-half later, I hooked in the infant car seat and shut the doors. (Don’t worry, I had turned off all the lights to save the battery.)

The car doesn’t look brand-spanking new, but it’s pretty good. It’s the best that a fully-pregnant woman could do, anyway!

You should have seen the look Sackett Man gave me when he came home from work. “Not to criticize, but was that the best thing for you to do right now?” he asked, concerned. “I mean, you can hardly walk…”

I hobbled around, my baby boy grinding his head, nerves pinching and hurting like fire and my sciatic twanging away as I tried to prepare supper. “Right now, I go when the energy’s good!”

He shook his head in exasperation, but his green eyes were soft and tender, and a little smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

And once the kids were in bed, he treated me to a leg and foot rub. 🙂

Holiday Delights

We celebrated Christmas with Sackett Man’s family. In total we had thirteen people in our home over the weekend before Christmas (fourteen if one counts my soon-to-come baby boy), and I couldn’t have had a nicer time.

I LOVE playing the hostess. I love getting the house ready. I love putting the air fresheners in various rooms (apple cinnamon is the best scent). I love making up the beds with fresh, crisp sheets and warm blankets, setting out clean soft towels in the bathrooms, putting up the finishing touches of Christmas decoration so that the atmosphere is warm and full of the holidays. Most of all, I love to cook. Molasses cookies. Fudge. Artisan bread. Bowls of dried fruit and almonds and cashews for snacking. Scrumptious beef roast with gravy, mushrooms, and onions, roasted in garlic and rosemary and red wine. Mashed potatoes made creamy with milk, sour cream, and butter. Green beans cooked to bright green al dente and tossed with chopped, crispy bacon.

My mother-in-law brought her own delicacies. She made a ton of Christmas cookies, and brought her delicious caramel rolls. My sister-in-laws brought cranberry fluff, homemade punch, english toffee pudding, vegetable trays, ham-and-pickle roll-ups, pecan pie, pickled herring, cheese and crackers, lefse… I’m sure I’m forgetting something… Needless to say, we did not go hungry!

A huge thanks to my wonderful In-Law Family, for coming to visit us and celebrating Christmas in such a special way. 🙂

One thing I tried making this year that I’ve never, ever attempted before, was good old fashioned candy (yes, that you need a thermometer for as you carefully cook the sugar). I made Turkish Delight.

I wasn’t sure about it. I and my family love the Narnia series; our young boys really enjoy the original BBC Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie. There’s been curious interest regarding the sweet that was Edmund’s favorite for a while now, so I finally researched and found a recipe and tried my hand at it. Turkish Delight can be made in many, many flavors (lemon, orange, pistachio, chocolate, etc) but the most common is Rose. Yes, Rose flavored candy. I assume this is the flavor Edmund enjoyed, because in every single movie the candy is a soft pink color. To that end I ordered my rose water (Rose Flower Water by Cortas), and— because some reviews said it was a very strong brand— I sampled a teaspoon of it in a glass of water (the recommended amount is 1-2 Tablespoons in a glass of water), and I couldn’t drink it. It was so strong! The scent was like putting my nose smack dab into the middle of the strongest bouquet of roses ever. And then drinking that bouquet. So that made me concerned that the flavor of the Turkish Delight was going to be too much.

I forged ahead anyway.

I used the recipe from this lady’s blog: http://titlisbusykitchen.com/recipe/turkish-delight. Not only does she have the recipe written out, but she has a step-by-step video to go with it. It made the whole experience so much better; there’s nothing that takes the fear out of an new recipe than watching someone with a sense of humor show you how it’s done!

The ingredients are:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Few drops of food coloring
For the dusting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Extra powdered sugar (on hand if needed)

The only modification I made to the recipe, at all, was I halved the amount of rose water. I put in 1½ tsp instead of 1 tbsp. For our American tastebuds, unused to the taste of roses, it made all the difference! It flavored the Turkish Delight delicately, without overpowering it.

My husband and I, used to the scent of roses as being connected to bouquets, soaps, or face wash, like the flavor but are still getting used to attaching it to a food. Our kids, on the other hand, have no such preconceived ideas, and love it!

January Note: One thing to keep in mind: this is an old fashioned candy, made the old fashioned way. There are no preservatives or additives to keep it in perfect form for weeks (*cough cough* months YEARS *cough cough*) on end, so it will sweat and the powdered sugar it rests in will turn into a glaze around it. For the best results, eat the candy within the first five days. If the sweating really bothers you, switch out the powdered sugar/cornstarch every 2-3 days.

Another side note: the recipe says it will keep for a week. That doesn’t mean you have to throw it out on the eve of day seven. It just means that the texture will become softer and less candy-chewy, and it will sweat more and more. I’m nearing the end of week two, beginning week three, and I’ve taken to using a fork to separate the pieces (the best I can) and eating it that way.

My prep for candy making.

My prep for candy making.

Mixing, mixing, mixing as the sugar SLOWLY rises in temperature.

Mixing, mixing, mixing as the sugar SLOWLY rises in temperature.

You can't see it here (sorry), but it has reached temp: 240˚F.  * note: turn off the heat immediately when it reaches temp!!!

You can’t see it here (sorry), but it has reached temp: 240˚F.
* note: turn off the heat immediately when it reaches temp!!!

This is the water/cornstarch mixture. Once this has cooked you add the sugar syrup and cook low and slow to a glowing gold color. KEEP THE HEAT ON LOW! AND MIX CONSTANTLY!

This is the water/cornstarch mixture. Once this has cooked you add the sugar syrup and cook low and slow to a glowing gold color. KEEP THE HEAT ON LOW! AND MIX CONSTANTLY!

After adding the three drops of red food coloring and the Rose Water, I poured (scooped) the mixture into the wax lined/oiled pan. I used this handy icing spatula to spread it out even.

After adding the three drops of red food coloring and the Rose Water, I poured (scooped) the mixture into the wax lined/oiled pan. I used this handy icing spatula to spread it out even.

This is what you will need to finish the Turkish Delight: a cutting board sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. you turn the Delight out onto the board and cut it. 1"x1" is the perfect size.

This is what you will need to finish the Turkish Delight: a cutting board sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. you turn the Delight out onto the board and cut it. 1″x1″ is the perfect size.

So sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product, all cut and dusted. Just imagine your favorite picture of Turkish Delight from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe… it really is just that pretty!

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

How does time get away from us? Imagine my surprise (and guilt) when I connected here to discover that the last time I had posted was February 12th, and here it is March 26th.

Shame on me.

A lot has been keeping me busy. We had the Memorial for Sackett Man’s grandmother. Another grandparent had to go to the hospital, as did another, and two of them moved into a nursing home. I’m doing preschool at home with Roman, James outgrew his clothes and I had to go burrowing into boxes in the basement to find any that did fit, and Rose is crawling, walking along furniture, and getting into everything. I’ve written 13 chapters in a ff story, and have been arranging babysitting services for our kids during a business trip Sackett Man and I are taking in April.

But I’m still ashamed. So forgive me.

On the other hand, I’ve had lots of wonderful recipes I’ve been making, and let’s just say that life with children 5 and under is a huge adventure. And we’ve gotten more snow. Again. And again.

I’ve consoled myself by baking desserts for the family and pretending that Christmas is coming twice this year.

Spring is here at last! Can't you tell?

Spring is here at last! Can’t you tell?

Mom and I are also going through the seeds we’ve got waiting in a bag in the fridge, and planning our two big gardens. We’re going to create some mounds in the snow for the squash, watermelon, and potatoes, and we’re going to plow some nice long rows and plant the seeds in the snow. Then the summer thaw come and we’ll sigh as we watch our frozen seeds get washed away in the snow melt. By midsummer we won’t dare mow because there will be little tiny plants sprouting up everywhere in our yard EXCEPT in the nicely plowed garden, and Mom and I will be wandering around with our heads to the ground trying to identify what’s growing and if it’s edible, and hoping that the whats-its and whatchamacallits ‘bear fruit’ before the Autumn snows.

Okay, not really. By May (I hope) there will be bare ground to plant in, and God willing we’ll have a fantastic harvest of squash, melon, potatoes, kale, swiss chard, tomatoes, onions, peppers, green beans, beets, and herbs. Among other things. But right now I feel like Mrs. Beaver stuck forever in a never-ending winter.

On the Plus Side, the cliffs and mountains of snow lining our driveway are glorious in size, and during the few days it’s warm enough our two boys and Sackett Man enjoy going out and digging tunnels through the packed giants. By the time Spring is actually here, we’ll have the BEST ‘underground’ tunnel system.

I, in the meantime, have been indulging in cooking and baking. I made a cake, for no reason at all, and took Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.00.31 AMan entire afternoon on it. Yep. I baked, I cooled, I stacked, I frosted, I decorated. It was pretty, and it was delicious. Raspberry Silver cake with a lemon butter frosting. Mmmm… I love making cakes. I never have the time I would like to do all of the ones I want to do, but then again I guess that’s a good thing… Sackett Man and I have no desire to match our sons’ growth spurts; two inches every two weeks would put us in dire straits!

The ‘flowers’ are supposed to be purple. I’m not sure what happened in the photographic translation… I also decided I need more practice at making flowers. Professional I am not. But the family sure enjoyed it. It was gone in two days.

I also made molasses cookies. These are some of my favorite cookies, but then I’m a big fan of molasses. Rich, dark, deep tones tantalizing the tastebuds… Try a tablespoon in a cup of milk. Yum!

Anyway, I creamed the butter and the sugar and the egg. Then I added the molasses and creamed some more. (Thank you Mom and Great Grandma for teaching me how to cream with a wooden spoon!)

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.04.48 AMAnd this is how I do dry ingredients. I like to sift it all through my mesh sieve. It takes the lumps out of everything (like the baking soda) so that it is all fine and fluffy and partially mixes everything for you. Then you can finish mixing by hand.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.00 AMAfter combining the dry and wet, I ended up with a VERY thick batter. Time to taste test. Yes? No? Not sure? Taste it again. And again. I think three times is the required number.

Mmm!

Roll by the Tablespoons in sugar and line them on your Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.09 AMpan. Little brown, sparkly balls of goodness just waiting to be eaten! Just make sure you bake them first. That’s a very important step.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.29 AMEight minutes later you will have beautiful brown, sparkly balls of slightly crispy, beautifully soft goodness just waiting to be eaten! And it’s okay, because now they’ve been baked. There’s nothing to stop you now. There was certainly nothing to stop me.

Many of them did make it into my apple cookie jar, I am proud to announce. My self control kicked in soon enough!

This is a family recipe. It’s been made many, many, many times.

~ Molasses Cookies ~ Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.38 AM

  • ³/8 C. Shortening
  • ³/8 C. Butter
  • 1 C. packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ C. Molasses
  • 2 ¾ C. Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger

Cream the Shortening, Butter, Sugar, and Egg. Add the Molasses.
Stir in the dry ingredients.
Scoop by the Tablespoon and form into balls and roll in white sugar. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350º F for 8=10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Chaotic Kablooey

Sensationally Uncontrollable Chaotic Kablooey.

Seriously. I couldn’t think of a better description for the last two weeks.

It started as a mad scramble to get ready something we’ve been trying to find out the date(s) for for a long time. Emails, phone calls, calendar plannings, more emails. The whole family came down with a wicked “spring” cold (please note the sarcasm between those quote marks). Which resulted in more emails and a rearranging of schedules and more back and forth because it meant we couldn’t make a required pre-meeting.

And then my husband’s grandmother, a woman we all loved dearly, had a major stroke, and passed away almost four days later. That was a miserable time.

But now it is a new week, and while there are still, naturally, the wisps of melancholy floating through the air, it is still a new week, and I am trying to focus on the good.

Which brings me to today. A stay-at-home mother, with three kids ages five-and-under. The youngest learned how to crawl last week.

Nothing is safe anymore.

I just got off of facebook, where my sister-in-law posted the FUNNIEST blog another mother wrote about being a parent; the ideas and promises we make ourselves before we have kids, and then the reality afterwards. It was hilarious.

I’m sitting here, laughing and empathizing with this woman about the day-to-day craziness of it all, laughing as she described her own disheveled state (sometimes forgetting to brush her hair before going out, and the antics of getting young kids READY to go out). I sympathized with some of it, and thought “I’m glad I’m not that crazy” with other parts of it. And then I realized something: my life is that crazy.

Last night I took the last leftover piece of dense, fudgy chocolate cake (a new recipe) to my mom’s, to share with her in decadence and complete happiness. It was frosted with dark chocolate ganache. I delightedly removed the lid to the tuppeware, geared up for the big reveal, and my nostrils were immediately teased by a heavy, deep aroma…

… of garlic.

Yup. The last piece of chocolaty heaven had been put away in a piece of tuppeware that had (previously) housed some leftover garlic.

Chocolate-Ala-Garlic-Ganache somehow just isn’t the same.

I woke up this morning and came into the living room to find my husband’s HUGE recliner set three feet from the entertainment center (which houses an electric fireplace). It was so cold this morning that he had huddled there to eat his breakfast, with the fireplace heating away, wrapped in a blanket and cradling his coffee.

I have yet to move it back. Not only is it huge and heavy, but I’m thinking it might be a cozy place to snuggle up the kids for their mid-afternoon movie. (I can’t wait for the heat wave coming later on this week! 33˚F! WHOOT!)

Now I’m sitting here in yoga pants that are too short because somehow they shrank in the wash two years ago and I have yet to move on to new and better things. My hair is unbrushed (but pulled back in a ponytail), a blue stuffed lamb is on the table beside me, and a cold cup of coffee is still waiting at my elbow— mostly finished except for the half-cup of grounds in the bottom (because the filter decided to collapse in on itself as the coffee brewed).

Roman and James, 5 and 2, put away their own clean clothes this morning. The piles were dragged through the house and stuffed into the drawers, the neatly sorted and folded shirts, pants, and pajamas no longer neatly sorted OR folded, instead looking like the result of a natural disaster that was stuffed and hidden away in an attempt to hide the evidence.

But my boys put their own clothes away. Score!

My daughter took her morning nap on the floor, laying on a couch pillow, and covered with an afghan. When she woke up she laid there and bawled because there was no WAY she could possibly roll over and crawl over a flat pillow!

Now she’s happily playing and crawling after her brothers, traversing stuffed animals and pillows and toy helmets like they were nothing.

I just came back from telling my sons that no, they could not use the kitchen stool they were currently balancing on as a jumping off point to leap and flip over the back of the couch and onto the cushions, and to “put the stool back in the kitchen. Now.”

They were quite disappointed. After all, how are they ever going to join Cirque Du Soleil if I never let they DO anything?

I am, oddly enough, unsympathetic.

And now I’m going to finish my drinking my coffee and chewing my grounds. 🙂

Chocolate Therapy

It’s eight in the morning, and I’m here at my table, having watched the sky grow from dark to blushing pink to blue (thank you, baby daughter, who got me up so early). I am finishing up the comic for my nephews today, and wrapping the last gifts for the last extended family gathering, which will be had at my house. I am also going to indulge in some fantastic cups of indulgent, velvety, rich homemade hot chocolate. Why? Because I’m nervous, and nervous = chocolate therapy.

“Why are you nervous?” One might ask. “So far it sounds like you’re just doing art, which you do all the time anyway, and having some family over. What’s the big deal?”

Well, tomorrow, early in the morning, my husband is having knee surgery. I know that isn’t the biggest thing in the world; not the most dangerous, or most fearful. But he’s never had surgery before. He’ll be out for it, and intubated (“Just in case”, the doctor’s say. That’s not very reassuring.), and then out of commission for two weeks. I’ll need to make sure our two boys (5 and 2) don’t leap on him or bump his legs during that time.

And I’m his wife. It’s my job to worry about him.

He’ll be fine; probably the hardest part, for him, will be the two weeks of inaction. Sackett Man is a man of movement. He’s always doing. So not doing is probably going to give him a worse case of Cabin Fever than our -45˚ weather ever could.

It’s only -10˚ today, by the way. We’re having a hot streak.

My mom is graciously watching our boys tomorrow (I’m keeping the baby girl), so that I can be with Sackett Man. Thank you, Mom!

And today: today I am mixing up my homemade hot chocolate mix. And having some of it. It’s really the EASIEST thing in the world to make, and it’s so, so good!

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

A Cup of My Homemade Hot Chocolate

A Cup of My Homemade Hot Chocolate

3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

2 1/4 cups Cocoa Powder (I use Dutch Cocoa)

1 1/2 tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container, and mix.

Add 2 Tablespoons to a cup of hot water, and then added a splash of milk at the end (like one does for coffee). YUM!!! Garnish as you wish: with nothing, or marshmallows, or whipped cream… you get the idea.

NOTE:

If you want to have just a little bit to try (who wants a tub of something they don’t like?) then do these amounts:

1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

2 1/2 T Cocoa Powder

1/8 tsp Salt

This will give you a good amount for sampling purposes.

Then if you like it, you can make the tub!

The Plus Side

Some days require deliberate searching. You know the days I mean… the ones where one thing after the next happens till all you want to do is hide under your blanket and hope that the next day is better. Usually on days like that I end up posting about it on facebook in my ladies’ group (the members of which consist of my mom, my sister, and my sister-in-laws). When I get all of my “Why me?!!!” exclamations out, I try to then end the post with the positives of the day, which I head up with ‘The Plus Side: …”.

I started this Plus Side business after a particularly fractious day. Week. Maybe even a month… I don’t remember. Anyway, I was sitting there in my doom and gloom, feeling like a terrible mother because I’d ended up yelling at the children quite a few times that day, and wishing my kids would stop their naughty behavior so that we could get back to being a happy, normal family.

I’m sure some of you mother’s out there have had days like that.

I was sitting there, moping, and I recalled a thing Sackett Man and I learned during a marriage counseling session. Way back when, when we were young and somewhat newly married, we found that the same trouble and problems kept popping up. Okay, they were wreaking havoc. Sackett Man and I are complete opposites… he’s a man of action, and I’m a word person. I would tell him how much I loved him, how wonderful he was, handsome, etc., etc., but I HATED doing dishes and vacuuming. So I would leave them, not till last minute, but I would push doing them out a little. He, on the other hand, would whip through the house vacuuming, mopping, folding laundry, doing dishes, taking out the garbage… but when it came to TELLING me, he would instead tell me everything I hadn’t done. Needless to say, it was turning ugly. We got counseling, which helped us see so many things and how to work at them… it was unbelievable… and honestly, now, YEARS later, I couldn’t imagine being married to anyone but him!

I digress. The point of that was, one of the things we learned was the 5-1 ratio. In that it takes five good things to make up for one bad. So, if at all possible, have at least five things to say throughout the day that are positive and uplifting and encouraging to the one negative thing.

So I took a deep breath, there in the middle of my brooding, paused in typing to my four confidants, and I closed my eyes. I looked back through the day, deliberately looking for the good things. I typed them out, and by the end of it I was feeling a million times better and I could see, much more clearly, what kind of a day I’d really had. Was it a good day? NO. But it wasn’t the precursor to my kids blowing up the house and running wild, either. It was just a normal bad day with a teething infant and two crabby boys.

I’ve been doing that ever since.

Which brings me to today.

This morning started with my eldest telling me “I’m going to throw up!”

Oh no! I thought, my eyes flying open in a panic as I threw myself out of bed. Not again!

See, just a month ago, the stomach flu had run through our house with much abandon and glee. Twice in two weeks.

For the next hour and a half there was tense anticipation as he waited in the bathroom for the inevitable.

In the meantime my second child and I were relegated to the downstairs bathroom as we got ready for the day.

And… the toilet plugged. I fought with it. I argued with it. I got it free.

It plugged again.

I argued more. I attacked it viciously and with great courage, plunging away as I warned it “You don’t want my husband to come home! He’s a plumber… you know what will happen if he has to deal with you!”

The toilet stuck the proverbial tongue out at me, and the bowl filled to the rim… and stopped. The threat was clear: One more move and I spill over!

Point taken. I backed away and shut the door.

Roman, now realizing that he was not sick but had mistaken his stomach ache for SERIOUS hunger pains, happily ate his breakfast and the day commenced. Which of course meant that Rosemary cried when I didn’t hold her, and then when she was content to play on the floor she spat up all over it and proceeded to play in it with every toy she could get her hands on. My boys tried to play with the cars, but ended up arguing over who got to put what car down the ramp. They switched to a puzzle, which soon had James throwing the pieces around and Roman having a temper tantrum. Time for a bathroom break: one boy forgot to aim, and the younger one, still in training, took off his own diaper and went on the floor.

(I’m taking a deep breath now.)

The Plus Side:

The boys set up a blanket between our two couches to create a ‘tent’. I made them a snack-lunch in their two lunch boxes, turned on a nature thunderstorm album on my computer, and for the next two hours they adventured and imagined till I could almost see the the world they were in myself. It was amazing and wonderful.

Rose sat in her swing and played peek-a-boo with me while I folded laundry. This week she’s into tossing her head back and forth as she giggles, which is a hilarious sight.

Rose took a thirty minute nap.

I got a basket of laundry folded, and another one in the washing machine.

The dishwasher is half-emptied. (I hope to get to the other half soon.)

I have a cold, which means I get to indulge in my favorite thing: Tea with lemon juice and elderberry syrup. The perfect tonic for a sore throat.

Sackett Man texted me that he loved me. 🙂

Outside, while in the negative digits, is beautiful and white with softly falling snow.

And I’m finally having lunch, which consists of two fried eggs (runny, of course), wilted greens in butter, a leftover homemade biscuit, and topped with the leftover cheese-sauce my husband had made over the weekend.

Seriously, it’s so good! He made breakfast on Saturday, of eggs and toast and this amazing cheesy sauce that is fantastic. He layers it all, tops it with the sauce, and sprinkles it all with dill.

Heaven!

That’s my Plus Side for a day that didn’t start great, but is getting better.

What’s yours?

Sackett Man's Saturday Breakfast

Sackett Man’s Saturday Breakfast

My Lunch, with Sackett Man's Cheese Sauce

My Lunch, with Sackett Man’s Cheese Sauce

Christmas Fennel

Pasta with Fennel Cream Sauce

Pasta with Fennel Cream Sauce

Two nights ago I made roasted chicken legs and colcannon. One of my favorite meals. Last night I made something new: pasta and chicken with a fennel cream sauce. It was good; the fennel sauce wasn’t quite what I wanted… so I figure I’ll have to play around with the recipe a little bit. Otherwise it was quite enjoyable. James certainly thought the wheel pasta was awesome!

After supper my Sackett Man went out to his truck, and when he returned through the front door he was bearing a big, beautiful seven-foot Christmas Tree. We set it up in our living room (Sackett Man held the tree while I became flattened beneath it trying to wrestle it into submission within the stand; my son took a photo) and Roman, our eldest, helped me water it for the first time. James fell asleep on the couch, and Rosemary followed soon after. Roman, our night owl, ventured into the basement with us two adults and looked through a selection of boxes with us, trying to find the lights and garland. We found our Christmas wreath, but alas, no tree trimmings. Hopefully we’ll have better luck tomorrow, so we can decorate in the evening. 2013 Christmas Tree

In the meantime we’ll be putting up the last of the Christmas paper chains, the wreath, and unpacking the Christmas dishes.

And the house smells amazing.

You have to love pine trees.

~ Mary

Next in the Adventures Of…

I know I’ve mentioned that I’m an artist, and this week I get to fully indulge, to my great joy and excitement! (The laundry and dishes can wait, right?) I love homemade gifts, and a tradition I set with my own siblings is carrying over to my own children and nephews. Thrillsville! I love it! I make personalized superhero comic books. Each boy has a super hero created just for him, and then, either for a birthday or Christmas, they get a comic book adventure about “them”.

Comic_Book_RoughSo this year I’m making some combo comic books (since they’re for siblings), and all the great heroes will get to adventure together!

No, this photo is not the finished product. This is the Final Rough, before I do the final book.

Some Christmas adventures are in store for this year’s installment. Watch out, winter baddies!

 

Rosemary_Eating_BreadMy daughter is (somewhat) content to watch me while she gnaws on a piece of bread. As long as I have a camera for her to smile for. (What did I tell you about her blue eyes?)

So that is my plan for the week. Creating two superhero adventures. And putting up the last of the decorations before we put up the tree; I even found my Christmas dishes! (Thank you, Sackett Man, for organizing the boxes I haven’t unpacked yet into something completely neat and tidy and navigable.)

Also making some extremely yummy suppers, which means I need to dive into my recipe box today, too.

Stay tuned!

~ Mary

Thrill-Seeker, I am

Be amazed: I have driven the stick shift four wheeler for the first time ever! The snow plow was attached to the front for some added fun as I attempted to drive something that is not automatic. (Can you believe I’ve never, ever driven anything other than automatic before?)

I have to say, I was pretty thrilled. Super thrilled.

Now, I’m not comparing driving a four wheeler up and down my driveway, clearing snow, to something like… say… free-climbing a cliff over a pit of bubbling lava, but trying to manhandle something that doesn’t like being manhandled while shifting gears and going from neutral to first and raising the plow and lowering the plow and trying to hold it back when I push too hard on the throttle WAS pretty exciting. Especially when I hit the end of the driveway and had to turn around to head back up, hoping all the while that I wouldn’t stall just as a car came around the bend of road near our house. That would have been tragic.

At least, I think so.

The feat was accomplished, and I successfully went up and down again. As I headed back down the mile-long driveway, lined with trees, for the third time I felt very proud of myself and infinitely adventurous. I thought to myself: “I think I’m more of a thrill-seeker than I realize.”

I know that driving a four-wheeler shouldn’t warrant that kind of thought. But when Sackett Man told my father this morning what he was going to teach me, my dad said: “Watch out. Next thing you know you’ll look outside and catch her doing donuts on your front lawn.”

Hmm…

… I’d been hoping to keep my high school riding lawnmower adventures on the down low.

Of course, with the sparkling eyes that accompanied Sackett Man’s laughter, maybe he knows more than I think he does.

And that says something about him, too. Because he still taught me.