Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow and Cold and Ice and a little Knitting

The Bumper has been delighted by the weather of the last few days. It snowed and it was a  decent enough amount to play in, and clean enough to scoop some out and pour maple syrup over. I was even able to introduce the Bumper to the joys of sledding. She loved it, and I am thrilled she did. I used to enjoyed the same thing when I was small, watching her I had a silly proud grin plastered all over my face. We made the afore mentioned syrup snow, and the Bumper declared it was her favorite part of being snowed in. The syrup snow is my attempt at maple syrup candy.  Neither the Bumper nor I are patient enough to boil the syrup before hand. The syrup doesn't get hard but it is still fun to make and eat.

 The birds decided a little snow would not keep them from the feeders and we were treated to an array of blackbirds, wrens, starlings, blue-jays, and cardinals. I am not sure who has had more fun bird watching the Bumper and I or the cat. Although I confess when we have grown tired of watching the birds it is quite funny to watch the cat watch the birds. Her tail twitches and she makes weird bleating meow noises.

The Bumper has an appointment with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in March. One of the tests they have requested of us is a 24hour urinalysis. Really? On a 4year old? I had been putting off this task, but I need not have worried. She thought it was great fun to go somewhere besides the potty and she wanted to watch me pour the contents into the collection jug. I think I have a budding scientist on my hands.

All this cold weather has meant we have spent a great deal of time indoors, much to the Bumper's dismay; I have made some more sock progress ,it is starting to resemble an actual sock, and another baby hat is almost off the hook.

We are busy keeping warm and enjoying the time off from school, except for the sledding and a swim lesson we have not ventured out. I am eagerly awaiting spring.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Meatless Monday - Roasted Vegetables

When I was a kid I thought God created Brussels sprouts for the sole purpose of giving parents a torture tool to use against their children. A bit dramatic perhaps, but it pretty much sums up how I felt about these members of the cabbage family until well into adulthood. I didn't like them and I felt pretty sure I never would. I was wrong, I just hadn't had them cooked the "right" way. I had only ever had them steamed: plain or thinly disguised under some sort of creamy sauce. That my friends is no way to treat a nutritional powerhouse. It turns out that the adult me adores them roasted. In fact when they are roasted I can snack on them all day long and some broccoli, pepper, and onions results in a full blown flavor party.

First pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F
Slice the sprouts in half
Add in broccoli, peppers , and onions or what ever you fancy
Coat with one 1-2Tbs olive oil
2Tsp of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl the spread in a shallow baking dish or on a cookie tray
Put in the oven for 10- 20min ( watch carefully as oven temps vary) until the vegetables are crispy on the out side and chewy inside.
Wait for them to cool ( this is very important as the Bumper found out when she tried to grab the broccoli) and munch away.

This is a short entry, and if I have done roasted  vegetable before: I can only say they are good enough to deserve a second shot. We are busy hunkering down and waiting for the snowstorm to hit the mid-Atlantic. The last "snowstorm" was a let down, but that has not dampened any of the Bumper's enthusiasm. She wants to go out and try to catch snowflakes with her tongue as soon as it starts to fall. I may just join her.

I went to my first knitting club meeting yesterday, and I will be writing up that post very soon because I cannot believe it took me this long to find a group and am I glad I did!

P.S. On the sock front: I turned the heel! Doing the happy dance, oh yeah!
P.P.S. My camera ran out of battery life before I could upload any photos, but I hope to have some later in the week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Forget November, February is the Bleakest Month

Today is not a pretty day. Today is cold and wet and dreary. It is not a sharp clean cold that makes me want to breathe in deeply and leaves me feeling refreshed and invigorated, it is the kind of chill damp that makes me want to huddle up next to the pellet stove, soak in the warmth and dream of Spring. I even found myself browsing through seed catalogs!  This morning the Bumper had her little heart set on going swimming, she even packed up the swimsuits in the knapsack; then she poked her little face outside. Ice still hung on the tree branches and covered the cars. The fine rain falling was cold and not hard enough to make decent jumping puddles. The Bumper decided to curl up with a puzzle instead. We haven't even had a properly decent snow to break up the monotony of this time of year.

I want to say something inspired, but I am not feeling very inspired at the moment. The last couple of weeks have brought with them a series of things, to suck out the joy. First was my uncle's funeral, then a series of dragging colds, first Nana, then the Bumper and finally me. Nothing major just persistent coughs, runny noses, and general sickness. Finally a very close friend's house caught on fire last week. She and her husband were at work when it happened, but the pets were at home and unfortunately they perished. My heart broke for them, not for the possessions, but for the loss of their animal companions. I felt helpless. I did not know what to do for them. They had a clean up crew this past weekend, but, except for pitching in a few supplies, I was not able to be a part of that effort.

I am still working on various knit/crochet projects. The socks( of course ), more baby hats (I think I might be addicted) and Nana's blue hat and scarf from Christmas. I am overdue to start making something just for the fun of it. I have a short story in progress and the novel is ongoing--having a hard time getting my characters from where they are to where I want them to be because I have difficulty writing transitional scenes.

I know spring will come, and the days are getting longer, but waiting is hard. 
Until then stay warm my friends in the Northern Hemisphere


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Woodsy Walk and Getting Ready to Run

Let's Explore
A few Sundays ago it warmed up enough to freeze anything important and it wasn't raining, so the Bumper, Nana and I went for a little walk in the woods. At first I was reluctant to leave the warmth and comfort of home, but the Bumper coaxed me into it reminding me the just the other day I was lamenting the fact that I don't get as much exercise as I would like. "Walking is exercise, mom, and it is fun!" She told me. Who am I to argue, especially as I want to instill the values of cherishing and respecting the environment. The Bumper can't learn to appreciate nature if I never take her out in it.
Where the woods meets the marsh

We didn't venture out until late in the afternoon and the sun is still setting early, which made it a short walk. Short or not the Bumper marveled at the things she saw: deer tracks, moss on the trees, and "prickle trees" as she calls green briar. As I watched the Bumper listen with fascinated attention to Nana answer each of her questions, I was taken back to my own childhood when Nana took my sister and I on nature walks and explained how all the things we saw were connected: my heart filled with gratitude that the Bumper is learning these same things and spending time with my mother.

I know there will come a day when the Bumper won't be so eager to go walking with her Nana and I, she will be more in her friends than splashing in puddles, and she will want treats that are not as simple as watching the sun set or making snow syrup. I did not want to go out, but I am glad I did. The Bumper was right walking is fun.  Now that the days are enlightening and slowly warming up ( I am optimistically ignoring the cold snap headed our way this week) I will be venturing outdoors more and more, even if I do need the occasional push  from my daughter.

Running Shoes
In order to facilitate that particular goal I entered my very first 5k (3.1mile) race on Friday. I have never run before, but I want to do this because a) it will help get me in better shape and b) because I want to see if I can. The run will be held on April 25 and benefit our local zoo. I can not decide if I am excited or scared. I started training on Saturday and was it ever hard! I alternated jogging for 60 sec with walking for 90 seconds of walking for 20mins. I barely made it, but I made it! My muscles are still sore. Well, I won't get to my goal if I don't keep trying.

If the weather is warm enough to get outside and play I say go for it!


Monday, February 2, 2015

Meatless Monday -The Superbowl

My family and friends don't do traditional very well, okay not at all, but a close family friend invited us to a Superbowl party. The spread looked something like this: roasted pork, rice, tripe, chicken adobo, pot-stickers, egg-rolls, lasagne, fried chicken, and peperoni pizza for the kids. It was a festival of meat to be sure. So what is a veggie girl to do? Bring vegan chili of course! It was a perfect night for chili any way. Cold and wet. While I was happy knowing I had something to eat, what amazed me was there was none left ant the end of the night. The combination was quite simple:

 roughly two quarts of frozen tomato sauce from last summer's harvest
 chili powder to taste
1 16oz can of red kidney beans
1 16 oz can of black beans,
16oz can of pinto beans
16oz can of great northern beans
1 16oz can of corn,
1 16oz can of diced tomatoes,
1 medium onion,  1-2 cloves crushed garlic,
1 tsp cumin,
salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks of celery chopped fine, two cups of water, and  1 116oz can of chick peas drained and rinsed added in the last five five minutes so they retain their texture.
The cooking method is quite easy too: Just put it in pot big enough to hold all of the ingredients bring it to a boil then reduced heat and simmer 4-6 hours stirring every 20min.

Well worth the wait!

Happy Eating,


P.S. I did not watch the game since I don't really like football, but I did finish a baby hat!

P.P.S. Sock Progress

Friday, January 30, 2015

Leaving, Getting Together, and Coming Home

Quilts on Display in a West Virgina rest stop
I was all set to post a lovely little piece about a woodsy walk we took a couple of Sunday's ago, but then Real Life got in the way. The Bumper Nana and I spent most of this week up in Illinois. Nana's youngest brother, my Uncle LV, passed away and we went to the funeral. First we had to go to Baltimore, to have the Bumper checked out for the disorder her father had. So far the test results have been inconclusive. We left from Baltimore right after her appointment and ran smack into a snowstorm in West Virginia. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with US geography. West Virginia is mountainous. In the day driving though the Appalachians is beautiful. At night in a snowstorm it is treacherous. We wisely decided to stay the night in a hotel. Fortunately the place we stayed had plenty of room. The Bumper was thrilled. Not only did she get to build a tiny snowman in the parking lot, she got to frolic and splash in the tub, which when you are four is a very big deal. The snowfall had stopped by morning and we we able to be on our way again.

Our refuge in the storm
It is fun to throw snowballs at Mom!
Icy roads
We stopped briefly to visit some friends of Nana's who live in Ohio  at around 4:00pm and then we back on the road. Eight hours later we arrived in St. Louis and realized it was far too late to wake up my Aunt J and Uncle N. We called the hotel at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, and they had just one room left! We were quite grateful.

One room left and we took it!
The next day we connected with Aunt J and Uncle N and the cousins and we all headed up to Saint Ann IL together. The littlest cousins (the Bumper included) thought this was the best road trip/sleep over ever. They laughed and played with each other so much they did not want to go to sleep that night!

I will not say much about the funeral except that it was moving, and I learned a lot about my Uncle LV whom I did not know very well. He would have been very proud at the way his family conducted themselves. His boys, now grown men with wives and spoke lovingly of him, and treated their mother with gentle respect; attending to her needs without being pushy or intrusive. My grown cousins' children got on quite well with the Bumper and even though they all met for the first time that day they became fast friends. Seeing our children interact, reminded us of how long it has been since the family last got together. No promises were made, but I sense a family reunion coming up.
Hangus the well traveled kangaroo.

We did not have much time to spend, and while the adults were somber and mindful of the occasion, the Bumper and her cousins made the most of their time together! They played dress up, rode bikes, jumped on the trampoline, and helped did holes in the front yard (Aunt J wasn't to happy with the kids on that one!).

On this trip we spend a lot of time in the car. It is 8-10 hours to Ohio from where we live and then another 8-10 hours to St. Louis, MO.  Toward the end it became hard for the Bumper to sit still and she want to stop at every rest area we passed. The last time we were out that way the Bumper was younger and slept most of the time, not on this trip! She spent most of it singing songs, looking out the window, and talking to her stuffed kangaroo (for whom I provide the voice) Hangus. When we finally returned home late Wednesday night the Bumper exclaimed: It is good to be home and sleep in my own room with my own sheets!

I echo the sentiment. Even though seeing extended family is always good, the sadness of the event overshadowed the visit. Because the Bumper is older now, she does not sleep as easily in strange places, she became scared a number of times and I stayed awake to comfort her. Watching her fall asleep so easily the other night made my night more restful too.

So now we are home, and trying to get back into our routine, the Bumper is back in school and I will begin training for my first 5k run/walk.

p.s. the sock marches on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Snow Day?

Ready to get to work.

I have not been around much because we are busy getting ready for the Fiesta of El Santo Nina de Cebu. Nana and the Bumper are both dancing this year, and I am helping to sew costumes. By helping I mean ironing and  keeping the Bumper occupied while Nana does the actual sewing. The dances are all Filipino folk dances which require a lot of practice, so all of our Saturdays have been taken up with dance practice.
All done!

The Bumper danced last year, but she mostly wandered off and did her own thing. This year she is a lot more focused and is doing her best to follow along. She likes the music and being with other kids.

First Snowfall
We woke up to a snow day today, and the Bumper was really excited! She could hardly standstill to be dressed, she wanted to rush outside in her pajamas's. I was not as happy. It was just enough snow to close school in our area -- about an inch, but not enough to be really fun. Which meant after her first mad dash outside, there was not much for her to do.  There was only time for the Bumper to build a really tiny snowman, make some footprints, and pelt me with snowballs, before the snow switched over to rain. The Bumper was quite put out and I don't blame her, I mean if school has been cancelled the snow ought to be decent enough to play all day in!

For the rest of the day we will bake cookies for the fiesta, the Bumper has asked to snuggle in front of the fire in her sleeping bag for a little while, Nana will finish the rest of the sewing, and genrally just try to stay warm and busy.

Keep Warm!


I am so very thankful for a snug roof over my head, warmth and plenty of food in the pantry on days like this.  The roads are slick and the weather cold, if I don't have to venture out I won't. If am very lucky I will be able to sneak in some crochet and knit in today.