Friday, December 25, 2009

Women & Men

Peace on Earth

Wishing Everyone Happy Holidays


Family and Friends (Real & Virtual)

Gathered Around.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Solstice

fire circle

fire spirit

fire wall

luminaria & fading fire & moon

one last look

The Solstice bonfire at the wildlife sanctuary.

Happy Solstice.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Warmth and Light

I love when they tie the tree on your car for you

We finally got our tree on Sunday. We went to a new-to-us place, one of the tree farms where they cut a tree down for you. It was very cold and windy on their hill that day, so we didn't take too long to choose our tree. After we got the tree, we decided to pick up some pizzas on the way home.

driving with the tree on the car
this is the view into town

at the pizza parlor (1)

at the pizza parlor (2)

We have been watching a lot of anime flicks, and these pizza parlor shots seemed japanese to me. I guess it's the flattened picture plane and the alternately muted and saturated colors.

the tree

This is the freshly decorated tree. Once we got it completely covered, I realized it wasn't quite straight. In fact, I would say it was at a nearly 45 degree angle. It stayed up all night. Then, as I walked past it first thing in the morning, it began to tip over. I caught it and the girls helped me get it straight.

black coat and white lights

When I was at the dump today, I saw a bunch of icicle lights boxes in the paper recycling. When I turned around, I saw this fella."Out with the old, in with the new, " he said.

snow mountain in sunlight

The folks who plow the school parking lot always make a mountain for the kids to play on. This year there is a new fence dividing part of the parking lot from the play space. The snowpile has been up against the fence, spilling onto the asphalt of the parking lot. It didn't look very safe, especially since it was always quite crowded. Over the weekend, they moved the mountain so that it is now on the playground, no longer against the fence. The girls love playing on it.

Today was the day to get the oven repaired. The repair person was quite friendly and didn't seem to mind that I was photographing. I am still disappointed that this very expensive fancy stove had a failed igniter after only two years. The repair guy tried to make me feel better by telling me he had just replaced an igniter on a Viking earlier that morning. The good news is the oven now works. I think I might make a roast for Christmas dinner.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pan Cookies and Coffee Grinder

Since discovering that my oven was broken last Monday night, I've had a cookie sheet full of sugar cookies waiting on the back porch for something to happen. The repair folks aren't due until next Monday, so I decided to try cooking the cookies in an iron skillet on the stove. It worked out pretty well. I frosted them, then the girls and I gobbled them up.

In other news, my friend is looking for a manual coffee grinder. I love mine. It was a gift several years ago from my friend Kate. I haven't seen any like it online. One of the things that makes mine especially nice is it's easy to hold as I wander around the house in the morning grinding my coffee. Anyone know where to find one?


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Night and Day

The most popular supper this week?
Boiled baby potatoes, steamed broccoli, dark kidney beans

Breakfast this morning?
Whole wheat toast with peppermint frosting!

My oven has been broken since Monday night. When I called the appliance store, the earliest repair appointment they could give me is next Monday. I whined, "But it's Christmas!" with visions of sugar plums (or really, sugar cookies) dancing in my head.

Not to mention pies. And roasted vegetables.

As I thought about it, and as I continue to wait, I realized it doesn't really make a lot of difference to our family if the holiday baking happens this weekend or next, or even three weeks from now. While I love the idea of people all over the world celebrating the turning of the wheel of the year, with all the different religious and secular holidays they choose, I don't feel that infamous holiday scramble and pressure. The closest to pressured I feel is the need to find a place in my small house to move a big piece of furniture so there is room for the tree.

I am grateful.

The girls and I walked into town last night to visit a porcelain doll that the 9yo likes. The girls wanted to carry candles. So they did. As we walked, we started singing. When we got to the enormous lighted tree in the park in town, I realized we had been caroling, living a holiday tradition in our own way, spontaneously.


Monday, December 14, 2009

More Pink, The Sky

looking out the window

stepping outside

walking to the corner

I slept through the night last night, awoke early, and was rewarded with a spectacular sky.

Even though sailors take warning from such a scene, I am inspired.

It helps that the pipes did not burst yesterday, that I have running water , and the sun is now shining bright to melt the ice and sparkle the snow.

What will I do with so many gifts so early in the day?

What will you do with your gifts today?


According to facebook, this is the link to view the whole set of pictures.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peppermint Pink

click image to enlarge

The girls and I finally made some sugar cookies tonight. I used the basic Betty Crocker recipe, except where it calls for 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, I used peppermint extract.

For the frosting, I'd forgotten we'd finished all the milk on this cocoa-est of weekends, so I just used water: butter, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, water, and a little too much red food coloring. I was going for tasteful ballet pink, but was dropping it into dry powdered sugar, so I had no clue how pink it would get!

The sprinkles are little peppermint flavored candy canes.


P.S. This is my 300th post. A milestone of some sort, but I'm not sure what...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesdays and Thursdays

(The shortcut through the woods the day before yesterday)

(The shortcut through the woods today)

I have been walking. On Tuesday, I made the bill-paying rounds in town, ending at the voting booth. Today, because my car was still snowed in from yesterday's storm, the girls and I walked to school. Then, I walked to the outskirts of town, to the store that will not be named, to buy new snow pants for the girls. Then I walked back to school to drop off the pants before recess. Then I walked home. All of this walking today, a total of seven miles, was before breakfast or coffee.

Anytown, USA

Next time, ride a bike!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Played the Gender Card

A Photo Essay

Martha Coakley

Yesterday was primary day here in Massachusetts. Even though I follow politics enough to be up to my nose in a health care debate that really stinks, I confess I haven't really been following the candidates in this race. I lazily took it for granted that even without my help my state would choose a good democratic candidate for senator to replace Ted Kennedy.

As primary day was nearing, I started listening to my friends discuss their choices. Among the people I heard from, it was a pretty even split between Mike Capuano and Martha Coakley. Folks who were voting for Capuano spoke of his experience and folks supporting Coakley spoke of her unwillingness to throw womens' health under the bus in any negotiations for health care reform.

As I walked into town to do several errands, I was that rare species: the undecided voter. I guess I was hoping, on my rounds to pay bills, I would run into friends who spoke with certainty about their choice and allow them to make up my mind for me. Surprisingly, I saw no one I know. What I did see was women. Every shop and city worker I encountered was a woman. I was reminded how few women there are in the Senate. That made up my mind. I voted for Martha Coakley to represent me.

Can I take your picture?

Do you mind if I take your picture?

She didn't want me to take her picture, unless she covered her face.

I'm not that fond of having my picture taken, either, but I'm trying to get over that.

They weren't sure if it was illegal to take their picture.

My friend Jacy and my daughters. Future senators? I hope so.


Photograph of Martha Coakley found here.

Biscuits and Cocoa

I managed to find enough snow pants, gloves, jackets, and boots to get the girls bundled up and outside in the snow this morning, then I turned my attention to treats.

First, I measured into a sauce pan enough milk for three cups of cocoa. I added two tablespoons cocoa, two tablespoons sugar, and a capful of vanilla. I set that to cooking on low.

Next, to bake. I make a lot of biscuits. I'd say it's the thing I bake the most. I start with the basic recipe that I got from my old Betty Crocker cookbook.

1/3 cup shortening (I use 5 1/3 tablespoons butter)
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
salt (I use 1/2 teaspoon, or less if I'm using salted butter--Betty says 3/4 teaspoon)
3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 450F. Cut butter into dry ingredients -- I use my fingers, to make gravelly crumbles. Stir in milk so dough leaves side of bowl and rounds up into a ball. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut circles. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

Today, I altered the recipe by replacing one of the tablespoons of butter with a tablespoon of solid bacon grease (from the refrigerator). I replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with 1/4 cup coconut flour and 1/4 cup corn flour. In place of the milk, I used about half apple cider and half cream.

The dough was a little stiffer than usual, and kind of resembled sugar cookie dough.
I think I'm going to have to do some research on cooking with coconut flour!

They puffed up nicely, though perhaps not quite as high as all flour biscuits do.
(Yeah, my oven is dirty).

While the biscuits were baking, I gave the cocoa a stir.

The biscuits got just a little browner than I like,
as I was helping the girls out of their snow clothes.

Cocoa and biscuits with butter, honey, and raspberry jam


Snow Day

I was happy to wake up to the beautiful snow this morning. I was also happy that the girls were sleeping in. I lit some candles and enjoyed the winter stillness.

Even though I was sure school would be canceled, I got a little thrill when I peeked in on the answering machine and saw the blinking red light that meant there was a message from the superintendent canceling school.

We're looking forward to a day of baking and playing.

Winter Wonderland.