Saturday, November 30, 2013


Winter is near and I am starting to become excited.  Yes, we still have a few weeks left until the official start of winter, but it sure does feel like it's here. It gets dark outside early enough that I am always driving home in twilight, after enjoying the lights downtown, which are already lit. The heat pump has been running constantly for days on end, even when I nudge it down to 67 at night, which makes me wonder if there is even any point to lowering it if it runs all the time anyway? I’m even wearing socks—sometimes to sleep. We are craving stews, soups, roasts, and other comforting foods. I’m chasing light around the house when I am here during day, and, like a cat, sitting in a sunbeam if it presents itself. Lights are popping up on homes and businesses around town. I’m even thinking about putting up a tree this coming week, and I usually wait until closer to Dec 10. It feels like the holidays here. After so many years without distinct and very different seasons, I admit I forget simple things like: sunshine doesn’t mean warm, and my hands are dry and red… and I sometimes scurry across the street from parking to the lobby at work regretting not wearing more layers…


Here are a few more things that i am looking forward to as winter arrives...

eating / reworked leftovers: ham, mashed potatoes, collards, green beans (Bun’s fave veg), stuffing, biscuits
drinking / gallons of pumpkin spice coffee (me), egg nog (the kids, especially Carter), cocoa (all of us)
mastering / real deal Christmas cookies
learning / how to *really* can, but maybe wimping out and using the freezer
playing / in the snow if/when it comes (I keep hearing this year will be a heavy year, but maybe that jinxes it?)
finishing / setting up our home, thus ending the world’s longest (feeling) move
reading / All That Is, a book I found on a critics’ best of ‘13 list and reserved at the library
slathering / lotion onto my red, dry hands (THIS kind at night; THIS kind at my desk)
walking / through the neighborhood in the evenings and looking at the lights
wearing / warm sweaters and corduroy, boots and woolly socks
cooking / my way through a book I got from the library, and making food gifts
traveling / here and there, but mostly to close-by places to explore with the family
wanting / a happy, healthy holiday season full of smiles
dreaming / about a warm weather getaway this spring, perhaps camping in a key in FL

p.s Otis only put up with this getup for a split second. I couldn’t resist it, though. This—and cuddles—are what you own pets for, right? I call it fair trade for all the scooping.

Friday, November 29, 2013


I like the Thanksgiving meal just fine. I mean, it’s delicious, of course. But, leftovers are where it’s at for me. I have plans for smoked turkey jambalaya, cottage pie, stuffing, ham & collards strata, and I can’t decide if I’m making split pea soup or red lentil & ham soup with the bone.

Today, though, I awoke fully given over to a head cold that has been brewing since Monday. So, this was brunch, with some icy OJ.


If I’d been feeling more up to it, I’d have done mashed potato pancakes, but this’ll do.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Sometimes during lunch I simply go up to the ‘cafe’ for our employees and, depending on the others there and my own mood, either socialize or enjoy a quiet few moments reading while I munch on whatever I packed myself while I was making the kids’ lunches that morning. Other days I need to stretch my legs and get a little fresh air.

I’m lucky that the area of Raleigh in which I work is culturally rich. As I was commenting to my brother in-law recently, it “feels like a real place.” My sister laughed and said she wasn’t sure what on earth I meant by that, but, it’s the only way I know how to put it. I like a real city. There needs to be a ‘there’ there, to mangle Gertrude Stein’s gist.

After a particularly “must do all this just so” morning where I focused on only one, important, detailed and multi-step task for hours on end, it was a nice reward to get out and simply walk quietly and snap a few photos.

I admire the artistry and relevance of statues, and decided to really take a good look at them as well as enjoy the last gasps of fall’s brightness fading into the bareness of winter, which will be adorned in other ways to celebrate the holidays.








Each of the 50 state capitals received an exact replica of the Liberty Bell in 1976.










I took these photos only a week ago, but in the time since, the trees are more bare and they have lights in them. Wreaths hang from every street lamp on Fayetteville Street and the other streets have oak leaf & acorn decorations on them (Raleigh is the “City of Oaks”), and soon a large tree will be up in front of the Capitol. I was a little grump-ish about the lights being up before Thanksgiving, but I admit they’re very pretty lit up at night as I exit in the dark.


Sunday, November 17, 2013


This weekend we officially celebrated Carter’s 8th birthday with a party at a bounce place in town. I tell you, those places have it down to a science, and it was exactly what Carter had wanted. He loves bouncers almost more than anything—except Lego Star Wars, which was the theme. ;)

CarterBounceUParty 001

CarterBounceUParty 038

CarterBounceUParty 052

CarterBounceUParty 099

CarterBounceUParty 112


CarterBounceUParty 169

CarterBounceUParty 209

CarterBounceUParty 234

CarterBounceUParty 264

CarterBounceUParty 236

CarterBounceUParty 278

CarterBounceUParty 279

I am so happy he enjoyed his party as much as he did. :) It also was a special treat that his Grandma & Gramps, plus his Aunt & Uncle, and cousins were there to celebrate.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I did some calculations, ran some sophisticated algorithms, and have concluded that last weekend was it. THE peak of fall color here. Thank goodness we took the time to get out and really see it.









This weekend the leaves are still very pretty, but trees are thinning, and there is that undercurrent of brown. Speaking of… I think it’s time to buy a rake! Those kids need to learn what leaf piles are.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


It really feels like autumn now, though the temperatures have been swinging a little pendulum-style. I really need to remember things like sunshine in the morning does not always mean warm, and sometimes coats are a good idea. Yesterday I was fighting a shivery chin as I crossed the street to my building and pushed the revolving door, even though I had a turtleneck sweater on. Yes, coats are useful.

So, soup was on my mind as I planned this week's menu over the weekend. Plus: tacos, always tacos or chili (or, in this week's case, both!).

I made the Hungarian Ham & Bean soup this weekend, and it's worth the time. It makes a huge amount, and is also yummy. I have found there to be a plethora of smoked pork product choices available here, and decided to make it a little easier by buying some "ham pieces for flavoring" which were -- you guessed it! -- irregularly sliced pieces of ham, probably from making more uniform slices. I subbed that for the ham hock, though I'm sure that would be more authentic and even yummier. However, I'm happy with it as it was and would reuse the ham pieces.

Aside from the recipes above, the old standby ones like tacos, chicken with red beans and rice (leftover chicken to go in chili), and spaghetti with meatballs round out the week. Lame, but comforting. :)

Sunday, November 03, 2013


Bwahahaha. Not so much on the relaxing, but it has been productive!

Friday morning, as we pulled into carpool line at middle school, Bunny told me that the birthday slumber party she was going to this weekend was Friday night, not Saturday night as I’d thought, having misread the invitation. “Shooooo,” I said, telling Bun I really didn’t know how I was going to pull the rabbit out of the hat on this one, since I was working late that evening and we were planning to shop for the present the next day. All the way to work I alternated between trying to figure out how I’d make this work at all, and deciding to just worry about it later. However, some fast texting between the other mom and me resolved it acceptably, and all I had to do was bring Bun her PJs etc that evening.

I think I was Reece’s hungover from my annual Eat all the Reece’s I Want Day (aka Halloween for everyone else), and the only cure was to eat 4 different egg casseroles, hash browns, pastries, and the like during our floor’s potluck breakfast. I contributed two kinds of (store-bought) egg nog and some OJ. BTW, pumpkin egg nog is surprisingly awesome. I had my doubts, which is why I used my coworkers as guinea pigs instead of bringing it home.

I was still stuffed at lunch, so I walked around during lunch. It was gusty and rainy, but it was also nice and peaceful. I decided to check out the Museum of Natural Sciences a block away and look forward to taking the family there some inclement weekend. Free admission, too!

Thankfully month-end went well this month, so I only had to work a little late that night, packed a bag of stuff to take to Bun, came back, and sat and stared at idiots not finding gold on TV until a little before 10, then went to sleepy land.

Saturday I made breakfast, fetched the very tired slumber party kid, went to the bank, took some clothes to be altered, went grocery shopping, went on a little walk by the lake with the family (pretty colors!), watched the boys throw sticks into the spillway by the dam, and peppered the day with an inordinate amount of coaxing/threatening/wrestling with a 5 year-old who just needs to take his ^$%#@ cough medicine (“I hate the flavooooooorrrrrr….”). Linda Blair in The Exorcist could have taken notes on how to spit red stuff from Cole yesterday.

Today was more of the same, with a bonus trip to the hair cuttery for the girlchild just when I had exclaimed, “That’s it; I won’t do anything else today, except make this soup and watch TV.” Except I’d forgotten that I had promised to take someone for a haircut… But! There was no line, and that was nice. Now I’m finally feeling the extra hour we got back today, and looking forward to watching Once Upon a Time with the kids. Bunny has been dying for Ariel to be featured, and is about to burst with excitement over it. I think Regina as Ursula is genius and am looking forward to it, too. Plus! Zombies. And! Talking Dead, which I really enjoy, too. (Man, I sound like the teaser for that awful show Extra! there.)

Here’s a photo Paul sent me from when he went to the park to play two-touch with Carter.


Saturday, November 02, 2013


On Thursday the kids in Carter's class were able to enjoy some spooky and sweet fun.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin