Tag Archive: snow

The Sea of Snow

Wordless Wednesday

Six months ago, snow was the topic of our lives.


My Neighbor's Pine Tree


Playing with Christmas Toys outside

Snow, Snow, snow everywhere


Picture by Sue Molyneaux

And it felt as if it was never going to end.

Moving from Winter to Spring

Blizzard of 2011

 Just  a few weeks ago we were under piles of snow. The blizzard of February 2011 actually kept me home from work for one day. Back then it seemed as if there would always be nothing but snow. Even my bouncing dog seems dwarfed by the snow. However, it is a month later and look at what I found in my front garden that receives full sun.

Tiger Lilies Sprouting

That is the start of my Tiger Lilies. I did some shifting of  plants in an effort to create a more rounded formation last fall. After I finished digging and moving plants and replaced the dirt, I had the husband cover the entire bed with compost and leaves from the yard.  And then came the cold and snow and more covering till the warm weather has melted most of the snow away.

Mums starting to sprout

I started looking around the rest of the garden, hoping that something else might be coming up, that signs of spring were being repeated. That is when I noticed the tiny mum sprouts hidden in the dead branches of last year’s plant.  This sighting got my very excited but I need to let the compost rest for another two weeks at least. I need to await the crocus that have not yet started sprouting.

The Shade garden in the morning

 My shade garden in the back looks bare right now. The only green is vegetation of the dianthus. I did lift compost here and there to see if there would be any crocus popping out. But the answer to that is “no, not yet.” Patience, we gardeners must practice patience. We know change is on the horizon.

Shade garden, May 2010

In only two months that same garden will look like this. Pansies, impatiens, snapdragons, star of Bethlehem, columbine, dianthus and peonies will all abound in beautiful blooms. I just have to remember to leave the compost for two more weeks, let the final frosts pass and then I can remove the old compost, put in the new plants and enjoy for the rest of the warm months.

What does your garden look like?

Is it Over Yet?

This is the part of winter I do not look forward to seeing.

The month of February can produce hope and it can squash your dreams of warm weather like a mortar in a pistil.

Picture by Dieraecherin

Today our high temperature was in the high 30s. Know what that does to snow? It makes it melt, not all of the way gone but the process is starting. All of those streets that have been scraped clean of snow now have melting remainders of snow.

But then the cold air blows in. Cold air from the arctic, shifting the temperatures back to around zero and below. The windchill make the feel of the outdoors goes down even farther.

Wind whistling over the snow-covered prairie for hundreds of miles just gets colder the farther it travels. Yesterday’s slush is today’s ice patch just itching to trip you up.

I hate it.

The dog has no sense of slowing down when he sees that stuff. He very seldom slips or splats while on our walks. Storm like to dig in the snow when he smells something interesting in the hope the carcass might still be there for him.

I, on the other hand, must watch every step. Is the pavement clear or am I looking at black ice, that trick bit of ice that attempts to mimic asphalt? When the melt and freeze cycle gets here, there is only one thing to do.

Walk where it is crunchy. Unless the pavement is absolutely clear you can only walk where the snow beneath your feet make that delicious sound of crunching snow. That is the only way to know you are not hitting ice, that your legs are not going to fly out like a gymnast who did not go into a backflip with full force or conviction.

When it happens to me I can almost hear the comedy-movie soundtrack sound of a person falling with the air blowing out of their body followed by the thud sound. That is unless I get lucky enough to find a snow bank to break my fall.

My fear with the incoming deep freeze is that those banks that have broken my fall on occasion will now be rocks that I will bounce off should Storm decide he has to chase an ice block that looks like a cat or greet another dog that he has not been able to converse with in doggy language.

To me that means snarl and threaten to rip each other’s throat out until your person drags you far enough away from the other animal. That is when said dog goes into the whining stage, indicating they were only playing and he wants another chance. 

Picture by Bowling Granny

In my head I think that I only need to get through February. Get through this month that will produce terrible cold and shocking thaws. I pulled out my Chia Herb Garden and made all four pots. Everyday it requires water. With any luck there will soon be some new greenery to give the air inside that fresh planting smell.

Another good thing to look forward to, it is the slow return of song birds. This week our family was enraptured by the female cardinal who visited our bird feeder several times, causing our youngest to call out whenever he sees her.

The female may be grey with a touch of red coloring. But she is marvelous to watch when ever she makes an appearance.

How is the winter falling away for you?

This is the pair of socks I am wearing for the rest of winter. By the end of this week, the Midwest is going into the deep freeze. I heard 5 was going to be the high for Friday. That’s right 5 degrees. I do not want to even know about the windchill.

My Favorite Winter Socks

I stole was given these socks by my husband who bought a five pack from K-Mart. That’s right, K-Mart. Not Dick’s Sporting Goods, not Farm and Fleet or even Wal-Mart. They are thick and warm and make me feel all cozy.

There is a reason why they are being shown today. I love the blog entries by The Pleated Poppy called What I Wore Wednesday.

Every week she have a pictorial essay on what she has worn for the past week. Part of it was to encourage herself to dress better and the other half is encouraging the rest of us to share our pictures.

As much as I want to do this, I am also wary because the only room with a full length mirror in my house is a wreck. So to ease myself into that entry, I started with showing one of my quilts last week. This week I present my socks.

I am trying to stay warm this week. And as for the dog’s afternoon walk? Well, he either crosses his legs or does everything within five minutes because that is all the time I am spending outside during single digit weather.

How are you keeping warm?

The Smells of Life

Picture by Click

It was a wintry afternoon and I was walking the dog. There was snow on the ground, no breeze, just the right amount of light when I smelled it.

A sweet fresh clean smell. Not too flowery, not too perfume-y but welcoming. I felt as if I was being wrapped in something wonderful.

 Then it hit me – dryer sheets. Someone was running their dryer and the exhaust was sweetening the air outside. If you are not a fan of perfumes or have allergies to various scents, I can see how the scent might be offensive. But for that moment I was enjoying the lightness of the perfume, the sweetness that was not overwhelming and the memories of home it brings out.

It is similar to when I recognize an older lotion from Mary Kay. It is as if I am back in my grandmother’s bathroom and I can smell her favorite cream. I get the feeling she is nearby and that if I turn around at the right moment I can talk to her once more.

Picture by MNP

I feel happy and comforted all at once in the same way I do when I smell pipe smoke. It can be one of those rich, woodsy-sweet smelling varieties and I am in my grandparent’s living room while Grandpa is enjoying his pipe. Maybe we are playing war or slap jack. He could be explaining how two bits equals a quarter and making us better mathematicians than fate had allowed.

Smells take us to the past and new smells imbed themselves, creating future memories. When we make a new dish, I love smelling the new smell. I am trying to recognize it and place it.

Last night I did that as I was making Chicken Riggies. I found the recipe at Happy When Not Hungry’s blog. It is Chicken in a tomato-cream sauce mixed with Rigatoni. Apparently, the dish is a favorite in the Ithaca area of Upstate New York. I had to make some adjustments as I do not keep Vermouth at the house.

 When I would take the lid off of the sauce pan to smell everything, I could not recognize it. Slowly, the tomato sauce furled out as did the onion. The cream did not come to me straight away. I was not sure if it smelled good and asked my husband for his opinion.

He thought it was tremendous. I had him pour the Rigatoni into the pasta bowl and then I poured in the sauce with the chicken. I began noticing the interplay of flavors as I mixed it all together with a bit of mozzarella cheese. In our excitement and hunger, we did not take a picture of the dish. There is none left to do so after the fact.

Picture by Mimiliz

Perhaps what my kids will remember is not a specific smell but simply the smell of something cooking that will make them feel at home and comforted. The smell of life all around them. Or maybe what they will remember is my perfume as they cuddled to me at the end of the day.

 Once I pass and can no longer give soothing words, perhaps this will remind them of me and wonder if they turn at the right moment they can talk to me once more.

Do you have a smell that transport you to a memory?

Making Winter Green

 This picture was taken on Christmas Day. Winter in its utter perfection.

My neighbor's Pine Tree

 We still love winter and its whiteness. But when there is a lot of snow on the ground and the wind starts blowing, it gets cold. Today we are to see a wind chill of 8 degrees.

My desk in the office is right next to a west window. As much as I love the light, the cold wind that comes through makes me run for my wool socks. (Thanks goes to the hubby for giving up one pair of his, I wear them all of the time now.)

Because January and February are soooo loooonnnnngggggg, I made a bold step this past fall. I brought the pansy in the hanging planter and put it in my bedroom. I had my husband bring the bench up so there could be a resting place.

Pansies in my bedroom window

At first, the husband thought I was a little crazy but then he liked the look of the bench in front of the window. After that I added the pansies and the pot of spearmint. Both had suffered from fall dieback. Since the daily watering, the pansies have come back to the point that we have a bloom this week. The spearmint is just leggy and not interesting.

You are thinking “I want pansies in the middle of winter.” Perhaps next year, you can bring a pot in during the late fall. For now, it is possible to buy African violets and set them in a north facing window. Soon the primroses will be in the stores and March will see daffodils and ox-tails available.  

How do you bring the green into your home during the winter?

The Beauty of Hoarfrost

 Yesterday as I drove to work I noticed my world became one filled with crystaline trees and bushes. A fog had gone through in the early morning hours and left frozen moisture on the branches. The picture below is a pretty good depiction of what I saw.

The frost simply shimmers and shines as the sun dances upon the frozen droplets. Before it melts away, we live in a crystal world that dazzles before disappearing.

Tree covered with Hoar Frost, Picture by Black Creed

 It is what one calls Hoar Frost. Some dictionaries define it as frozen dew that comes in the shape of tiny needles. We always notice it after any foggy morning. It is quite beautiful as we head north and west towards our church on a Sunday morning.

Close up of Hoar Frost, Picture by Idaho Editor

Now, I know what you are thinking. What a terrible name for something so beautiful. But this is one of those words that come from the German language according to Dictionary.com. Some note its use around the 12oos, other claim it comes from before 900 A.D.

According to Blurtit.com, the origins are from the German word “herh” which means sublime. But “Herr” is a proper title for a man, as in Herr Schmidt. So the term could be old/grey combined with frost.

I would like to think it means sublime because the look of hoarfrost in the morning is just that. I also find it suitable for December when we still love snow and find it magical. Quite frankly, hoarfrost makes snow magical in January and February as well. By then the feeling is as fleeting as the hoarfrost.

How do you find the magical in wintertime?

Family Movie Night

 Snow just keeps falling.

 Last Monday the kids were off from school. Then last Thursday, my husband predicted the kids would be off again. Did not happen despite the constantly falling snow.

 While I was walking to dog on Thursday, my feet seemed to find every bit of ice underneath the powdery snow. Luckily, the dog did not take advantage of the situation the one time I did happen to fall down.

 So now Christmas is coming with a vengeance. Saturday is the big day and presents are being wrapped and hidden. You have seen just about every Christmas movie out there, sung every carol and heard enough bell ringing. You have eaten so many sugar plums, your doctor is giving you dire predictions. Nutcrackers make you sneer.

 I have a few suggestions for movies you may not have seen in recent years. Some have holiday themes and others have a slight holiday theme being wafted around it.

Billie Burke circa 1935, Picture from IMDb.com

 Finding The Cheaters (1945) may be the hardest part of enjoying this screwball comedy about a wealthy family on the brink of bankruptcy who bring a homeless man to the mansion for good press. Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch) and Eugene Pallette star as the parents of this brood who learn about the meaning of Christmas after a number of mis-adventures.

 I am not sure if it is possible to find this movie as I could not find it at Facets (Facetsmovies.com) or Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com). Just because it is someone’s favorite movie does not mean it gets to be put out on tape or DVD. My mother loved this movie but if memory serves, the print was pretty bad back in the 70s when they would show it late at night.

Picture from IMDb.com

 Let’s say, you are really not in the Christmas mood but you want a little Santa flavor. I do have the perfect movie for you which pits Santa against those dastardly aliens from the big red planet. Perhaps one of the worst movies ever, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a tale about the aliens kidnapping the big guy along with two children.

 They do so because Martian children have seen Earth TV shows featuring the wonders of Santa. Will Santa bring Christmas joy to Martian children? Will he and the kids get to come back to earth before evil Martians try to kill them off? Will you recognize a very young Pia Zadora? Could it hurt to try?

Picture from IMDb.com

 One movie that seems to be rapidly disappearing from the Christmas movie scene is a favorite. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a Martha Stewert-like writer for a women’s magazine in Christmas in Connecticut (1945). While Stanwyck lives in a small NYC apartment, she writes about her farm and family in the next state over.

Her boss, Sydney Greenstreet, invites himself and a recovering war hero, Dennis Morgan, over for Christmas. Suddenly she needs a farm, a husband, a baby and the ability to cook or she could lose her job. You can imagine the mayhem that happens. Plus, Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall work off of each others like old pros – which they are.

Kate Winslet and Jack Black in "The Holiday," Picture from IMDb.com

Perhaps my last choice is not the best of movies but I do enjoy watching The Holiday starrring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. These two women have been put down by love and decide to trade home for the holidays to get a change of scene. It is a movie that dares to make Jack Black into a romantic hero.  

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a reply below.

The real winter begins

Winter has arrived.

Snow scene

Saturday the snow fell and fell and fell.
It looked like  four or five inches by the time it was over. The kids are loving it. We have a small snowman in the back yard.
While I was inside church helping with the blood drive, my husband was watching as the kids go down the hill in their snow disks. At some point, snow went down someone’s back and there was crying and complaining.

Another snow scene

We got over that disruption to get into a warm car and head home. Hot showers, hot chocolate and pizza warmed the rest of the day.

Now starts indoor life. 

When the weather is warm, I feel the need to be outside every moment possible.  Once the snow and drop in temperature occurs, we are inside. Tasks, such as finishing the closet of doom and cleaning up of rooms, come to the forefront.

Another tradition of our family’s becomes even more important – that is the Sunday dinner. Every week, someone has a turn in making it. They choose the menu, find recipes, plan the purchases and cook it up. A parent helps the kid in charge or, in the case of the six-year-old, makes the meal.

Not as pretty as elly's but quite tasty with cinnamon and allspice in the meatball.

Last night, it was my turn and I made a greek meatball dish with rice and tomato sauce. It was a meal in which I has to make a variety of substitutions. The ground lamb was replaced by ground beef. Cloves of garlic became a limited amount of garlic powder.  Sour cream was used instead of greek yogurt and the rice was leftover white rice instead of basmati rice.

The recipe came from the wonderful cooking blog, Elly Says Opa. Her pictures are closer and probably shows of the dish better.  And I am not sure how she would appreciate what I did with it.

However, let me say that my kids ate it up. They loved the meatballs and rice; loved pouring the tomato sauce from a gravy boat. The touch of sour cream was a tasty addition as well. I was not thinking otherwise I would have served a traditional Greek salad with this meal. Instead, I had cranberry sauce on the side.

The next time I make this dish, I will more than likely bake the meatballs and have a fruit like pears on the side. And next time when I make cake with cherries on the inside, perhaps the cake will not fall apart when I take it out of the bundt pan.

It was a great evening that ended with a Wii bowling tournament and early to bed. When it is too cold, the best place to be is under the covers.