My Old House


My house was built in 1848. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it and it has suited me perfectly. My youngest started college this year and the other 2 have moved out on their own. Raising a family of 5 here, a lot of stuff accumulated. A year ago January, I set a goal to clear things out and replace them with things that I made or refurbished myself. Big radiators, exposed pipes, tiny closets, funny little doors and odd little rooms add loads of quirky character and good opportunities to be creative and flexible. Every week I fill a box of things to be donated and another of things to bring to the recycling center. Progress has been slow but sure, eventually I will have everything simple and clean and homemade. We won’t talk about the dreaded cellar now.. I haven’t made my way down there yet, lol.

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Winter Cheer

Crazy as it may seem with temperatures in the negative digits and 3 feet of snow on the ground, Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer  …it doesn’t get dark until 6 pm now and  seeds are starting to sprout.  My leeks are coming up!   I saw a notice posted in a coffee shop, offering coffee grounds to gardeners.  My husband checked in with a local coffee shop near to where he works and if we provide a bucket, they are willing to fill it with used grounds.  I finished painting another one of my masonite boards.  I got a little carried away with this one but at this point in my life it’s all about the process, not the product.  I had a bit of a laugh to myself when it was done because the cherub at the top came out looking like my Mom, totally unplanned.   Lol!  Art therapy, longer days and spring seeds work wonders to keep high spirits and hopeful thoughts for the coming days, even in the dead of winter.

Valentine’s Day

 

 

When my girls were little,  I would set the table fancy for Valentine’s Day morning and bake heart shaped muffins. Their Dad gave each of them their own little box of chocolates.   This year my youngest came home for the weekend.  I  set the kitchen table up a bit  last night and made some scones to have this morning with cream and strawberry jam.   The perfect way for me to start the day, with my baby girl…Live-Love-Laugh… and happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

It’s all Relative

Record breaking cold and more snow on the way.  A few years ago, I saw a news report featuring a middle aged woman, braving the darkest neighborhoods in New Haven.  On  the coldest nights, such as these, she  checks on the homeless. She encourages them to allow her to bring them to shelters.  She leaves warm food and blankets to those that don’t wish to go.  Sometimes she has to call an ambulance.   I watched as the news cameras focused in on this woman.   Filled with awe and admiration, I was shocked to recognize her as my second cousin. She was clearly impatient to get on with her work and not at all interested in an interview or a pose.  She is a true hero and I never even  knew it.  I can’t believe the same blood runs in our veins.  I feel shamed to think of the complaining I’ve done about being cold and shoveling.

Snow, Seeds & Leeks

 

It’s still snowing like crazy. We got about another 10 inches so far.  As I was clearing the driveway, I made some final decisions on what to plant in next year’s gardens. I rewarded myself for the shoveling by ordering some seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They have taken the “safe seed pledge”,  they don’t buy or sell genetically engineered seeds.  There’s a Safe Seed Resource list  online that lists sources from all over the world.

For the first time, I am going to try and grow leeks so I started some seeds indoors. In a few months, I’ll sow some more leek seeds directly in the garden to see which lot does better.

 

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Breakdown

Last night, about an hour away from home, the clutch went on my jeep as we were getting onto the highway.  Luckily, my husband was driving.   In the past, I haven’t reacted well to automotive failures and things ended badly. For about 30 minutes, stuck in fifth gear we were figuring out a plan to get as close to home as possible without having to stop.   Once the car stopped  or  if we were unable to maintain a certain speed,  that was it,  we wouldn’t be able to get the car in gear to go any farther.

We made it off the highway into a parking lot about a half hour away from home.  We thought we had roadside assistance through our insurance company but found out that we did not.   There are no taxi cabs where I live and the friends that we called didn’t answer their phones.   Finally, I called my sister who lives almost an hour away from me and she came to give us a ride home.  I’m the type of person that hates to ask anyone for help.  I  felt awful asking her to drive all that way on a freezing Saturday night.

All things considered, everything worked out really well and I  should be thankful.   I don’t know how long I will be without a car.  It’s supposed to snow for the next 3 days.  As it is, I’m beginning to feel like I live in Narnia…….Spring will never come and every day will be cold and grey.  There’s a garden center in town that has lots of green houses, tropical plants, heirloom seeds and LIGHT.  Maybe I can make a quick visit before the snow comes back.

Dominos, Snow & Salad Dressing

Last night my daughters came over for dinner and a game of Mexican Train Dominoes.  With temperatures in the negative digits, 2 feet of snow on the ground and a forecast predicting more snow for 3 straight days, I needed some fun.  Plus, I got to to send care packages home with my girls.

We had escalloped potatoes with ham and a  big salad with homemade dressing and some side fixings.   Instead of mixing all the salad ingredients together, I  put everything on the table like a salad bar.  Mixed lettuce, tomatoes and celery went together in a big bowl  and  then onions, blue cheese, dried cranberries, nuts, avocado, peppers were in their own smaller bowls. Everyone added what they liked to their own salads. I made a basic creamy garlic salad dressing by mixing these ingredients together in a jar:

  • 1 small, raw garlic clove, mashed (sprinkle a little sea salt on the garlic before you mash it up to pull the juices out of it)
  • 4 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonaise
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (  I used apple cider vinegar but white wine vinegar is good too)
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • salt and pepper to taste

This tastes better if it’s made a few hours ahead and even better made the night before.  It will stay about a week in the fridge.   Shake the jar before serving.

For dessert I made vanilla cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting.

I’m ready for the snow.

 

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Home remedies, Starting seeds & a Pug

Schools are already being cancelled for tomorrow because another foot of snow is supposedly on its way!  Milk sold out today at the grocery store but they have plenty of cactus seeds.

May 31  is the date here when we are deemed safe from frosts.   I save all plastic containers that can be used to start seeds indoors.  A  large, screw in hook is a handy device to create drainage holes.  It easily makes a hole in thick or thin containers without cracking the plastic.  It’s too early to start seeds for my garden but I thought it would be fun to try sprouting some cactus. (cactusses?, cacti?)

There’s been a lot of  cold and flu remedies, natural antibiotic and ‘master tonic’ recipes floating around on the internet.  I’m not sure I would subscribe to those claims but the ingredients looked interesting so  I made a quick vinegar tincture with garlic, ginger, horseradish and a little bit of  hot pepper.  That combination will surely open the sinuses but I’m thinking a couple spoonfuls would  give a good punch to a smoothie, dipping sauce or salad dressing.

I think our dog  Harvey might be feeling a little depressed over getting another snowstorm.