Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring is around the corner...






Even though it doesn't feel like it these days!   Sometimes in New England with our warm weather in February and our snowstorms in March it is hard to remember that spring is around the corner   As much as I love winter I also adore spring.  It is my birthday season after all.  But what I love most about it is the rebirth we get to witness around us as the trees and bushes wake up after a long winter.  The bulbs push through the recently frozen ground and color once again erupts around us!

The chickadees have returned which is a sure sign that spring is almost here.  Last week they were darting from bush to bush in my backyard with snow falling from the sky and today they are hiding somewhere from the heavy rain.  I'm looking forward to watching as the outside gardens begin bursting to life again.  Until then I will try to find the first store that carries pansies.   As soon as I find them I put them in my pots on my front steps since they don't mind the chillier temperatures.    I am always ready for pansies before the stores are carrying them.

As I move away from winter and towards spring I find myself needing plants and greens around me.  I crave spring colors and signs of spring in my home like pulling out a green blanket and buying new green pillows for the living room.  I've found myself purchasing small cheery plants and flowers in the grocery store.  I've been spreading my new purchases throughout our house so that signs of life are in every room.   Bouquets of flowers are always welcome too but they depress me a little when they start to die so I prefer living plants that I can keep alive from year to year.  Next time you're at the store remember to buy yourself a little reminder that Spring is around the corner... we all deserve it!

Tulips are the surest sign that spring is almost here. We got
this tulip vase for our wedding and use it year after year.  
The majority of my plants are in our kitchen windowseat window year round.  
A spider plant grandchild from the original plant from my mom.  
This jade is so happy in our windowseat plant ledge.  It came
from Rod's mom's condo and is now outgrowing this space.  
I almost always have something living near the kitchen sink on the island.
I loved this concrete stamped planter for only $12 from Anthropologie where I usually
go to ooh and aah but don't buy anything because it's too expensive!  

Haley picked out these beauties grocery shopping with her dad
at Trader Joe's, by far the best place to get cut flowers.  
This little plant I've had in my windowsill for years but  I decided the purple and
green color belonged in my living room.  It transferred just fine to it's new location.  
Love the color and big shiny leaves of this tiny grocery store plant.   Another living room
keeper so I can enjoy it when watching tv at night.
Rod's parent's lemon or lime tree (not sure which one is
still alive) is once again covered in blooms in our dining room.  

My orchid is once again bursting into life.  I have moved
it to the kitchen counter for now so I can enjoy it while it blooms.  

Love the purple flowers on this African Violet.  
I bought this cyclamen around valentine's day
because the flowers looked like hearts.  

A Spring wine glass helps makes the transition to Spring easier as well! I now
have a seasonal wine glass for every season but summer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "Eggs Beni"fit to your husband working from home on a snow day!

Today we are all home for a big blizzard.  We considered taking off and going to NH to enjoy the fresh powder and skiing but real life got in the way.  Dance and work and the fact that the snow might make it impossible to see while skiing....

I woke up at 9:48 today and only because the dogs started pacing.  Nola had been up in the middle of the night pacing so I didn't sleep through the night.   It felt so indulgent to wake up that late.   Rod was already downstairs working and the smell of coffee was wafting up the stairs.  Haley came to deliver it with her new phone holder she had crafted.  She does a lot before the rest of rise.   The early bird gets the worm!  And Haley certainly is an early bird.  She loves the quiet of the house in the morning and often gets up and watches a few shows before making crepes or a craft project.   Today it was this.  "The flip cam" for her iPhone.   She brought it up to my room to show me when she delivered my cup of coffee to me in bed.  This is the life!  I am so thankful for my early risers and I love having my first cup of coffee in bed.  Watching the snow fall outside the windows and slowly waking up.






Soon the smell of bacon and the sounds of pots and pans made it's way upstairs and Rod called us down to breakfast.  Rod not only cooks a lot but he really enjoys cooking.  Definitely more than me.  I sometimes have the feeling of


He has a few favorite meals and breakfast is definitely his "thing".  Pancakes, crepes, homemade waffles, scones.   Today it was eggs benedict from scratch.  The "beni" of your husband working from home on a snow day.  I'll let him explain how he makes it.



Bacon

• Preheat oven for Bacon.  I like to use the oven and put the bacon on parchment paper on a cookie sheet with sides.  Makes for an easy cleanup.  15-20 minutes at 425 will do the trick.



Blender Hollandaise Sauce (Joy of Cooking)
• On stovetop melt one stick of salted butter on the lowest possible heat.
• Add three egg yolks to blender
• Dash of hot sauce
• Dash of pepper
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Just before serving blend yokes, hot sauce, pepper and lemon juice for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in clarified butter.

Eggs  buy a lot of eggs for this one!
• Fresh eggs at room temp work best
• Fill large low pan with about 2 inches of water and bring to just below a boil. Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar (helps eggs hold their shape)
• Fill a small pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a full boil
• Pre-heat each egg in boiling water for 10 second.  Thanks to my father-in-law Art for recommending this technique.   It makes the eggs stay together rather than disperse in the pan.  Then crack and slowly put into the low pan.  Cook about 6 minutes or until the yolk is how you like it.  I usually put them onto a plate with paper towels and then reheat them in the water just prior to serving.

  

Serve on english muffins grilled in a pan with a little butter or on a bed of greens.  I prefer mine with Canadian bacon.  Kari prefers hers gluten free and served with a smile!  Serve it up and call your family down for breakfast!  Happy snow day to those of you in the North East!  


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Giving Back


I haven't quite figured out what that gift is yet.    I do know that I love helping people and giving back so that is what I am focusing on now.  That is what gives me the greatest sense of purpose and meaning and that feeling of this is what I was meant to do!   It is also something I hope to instill in my children.  People always ask if our family went to church as kids.  No we didn't.  But I'm ok with that.  We spent almost every weekend volunteering.   At our neighbor's apple orchard in the fall and at Camp Becket in the Berkshires doing clean ups and barn raising.   My mom was on the Historical Committee and my dad always helped run and plan Spring Fest.   My parents were always involved behind the scenes.  They didn't just go to events.  They ran them.

Right now our dining room is filled to the brim with donations for the homeless.   Neighbor Brigade which I co-lead in Medway asked each chapter to choose a drive to participate in the month of February.  Both of the causes seemed like good ones to Nikki and I so we went with both of them.   We knew our volunteers would contribute tenfold but we also knew this was a good way to involve our town in what Neighbor Brigade does.   Giving back to neighbors in times of need.   I posted on the Medway Facebook site and we got an overwhelming response to our request.

"Medway Neighbor Brigade is doing a collection drive for two charities this month. If you would like to participate here are the details below. Please PM me for my address for drop off location. Thanks in advance for those that participate!
We welcome February as a month of love and kindness! In so doing, all Neighbor Brigade chapters have been invited and offered the opportunity to participate in two drives:
Option #2: Warm Hands Warm Hearts for Friend's of Boston's Homeless (www.fobh.org)
Option #1: Dignity Matters 
Our Medway chapter has chosen to participate in both. Please read the following information and details regarding both Option #1 and Option #2. 
Option #1
Dignity Matters (www.dignity-matters.org) is a non-profit organization that supplies feminine hygiene products and undergarments to women in severe hardship, in order to help them stay healthy, regain self-confidence, and live with basic dignity. Feminine hygiene products and bras are rarely donated to charities, food stamps do not cover them, asking strangers for sanitary products is humiliating, and most homeless shelters, in spite of their best efforts, simply cannot cope with the demand for these items. It leaves homeless women alone - in what amounts to a monthly crisis.
Dignity Matters is in DESPERATE need of:
1. TAMPONS and SANITARY NAPKINS (any type, size, brand)
2. BRAS – gently used and new (any size, brand and type – including sports bras, nursing bras, maternity bras, shapewear, crop top style etc.)
3. FEMALE UNDERPANTS – new with tags (any type, size, brand)
Opened tampons or sanitary napkins boxes are also welcome as long as individual products are sealed. There is a preference for super absorbency strength (for example, maxi pads).
Option #2
Warm Hands Warm Hearts for Friends of Boston’s Homeless (www.fobh.org)
The winter months are the most difficult time of year for the homeless. Many of them are at risk to the elements. You can help our community’s homeless stay safe and warm this winter by donating at least one brand-new (or gently used) winter hat, scarf, pair of gloves or mittens, or new warm socks. 
By participating in Warm Hands Warm Hearts you will not only help keep our community’s most vulnerable citizens safe and warm this winter, but you’ll also help maintain their dignity and comfort during this most difficult time of year.
**Individual bins, marked "Dignity Matters" and "Warm Hands Warm Hearts" are being provided for donations and will be located on the front porch atKari's home. You may make donations now and throughout the month of February, at which point all donations will be picked up and delivered to the appropriate organizations.❤️
We hope you will join us this month in helping the homeless women and men in our communities.
This is a repost of an earlier request. We will be collecting until the end of February!
With our warmest wishes and appreciation for all that you do,
Nikki and Kari"
So many people donated to the cause.   And dignity matters really touched people.  

Both of the charities donate locally in MA and RI.
This year Kelsey also got involved with Miss Amazing,  ( https://missamazing.org/our-story/ ), a  pageant to boost self esteem in young woman with disabilities.  One of her best friends in the whole wide world, Lucy,  is co-leading the event in Massachusetts.   She already volunteers for Best Buddies at her High School which puts on social events and does programs with the special needs children that attend their school.  She and a few of her friends from Medway have joined up to help a primarily Medfield group of volunteers.   They have been meeting all year and Kelsey and her friends are coming up with the goodie bags for the participants and Kelsey is running the dance room the day of the event.  She also wrote a request on our town Facebook page for dresses and received 30 plus donations of people's ball gowns and prom dresses.   We all plan to attend because as Lucy's mom, Laurie says, "It really is one of the most Amazing and life-changing events she has ever taken part in."  I'm so glad Kelsey is having this opportunity to give back and to see the joy her efforts bring to others.   

I'm also working on a philanthropic project for the month of April with my friend Kate.  She is the nutritionist who is the one who realized I might have SIBO and helped start me down this road to recovery.  I'm excited about the potential of this project and what it could mean for others suffering with IBS or SIBO.   Our goal is for people to feel like they are not alone in their path to wellness.   She said I was the perfect person to help her with this because "giving back is what I do".   If that becomes my job title I'm good with it.  I like to help people figure out what their next steps are, I am an idea person that has lot's of ideas and thoughts about other's jobs and careers and ways to grow.  I don't have that same gift to come up with ideas for myself but maybe that's because I am already doing it.  What I love most is giving back, helping others, being that idea person.  Maybe giving back is what I do.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Driving Away

When I imagined myself as a mom I imagined being pregnant, feeding my baby, holding a toddler's hand while they learned to walk, pushing them on a swing, waving to my kindergartner as they drove away on the school bus, and listening to stories about their day over milk and cookies.  I imagined doing my little girls' hair, and picking their outfits (my girls had distinct ideas about what they wanted to wear and how they wanted their hair at early ages!).  I imagined bedtime stories and snuggles.   I imagined giggles across pillows, and movie nights, and family vacations.   I never imagined the hard parts.  The watching them growing up and moving on and driving away from us.  I never imagined my kids stepping out from under our safe wings to places where I couldn't protect them and watch over them all the time, the fact that my teachings had to be enough, and I had to trust that they had listened and learned and were ready to face the world and the streets alone.

My oldest daughter getting her license has been a new milestone for me.  It makes me feel excited and proud of her but also sad and tearful.  It's been happening for a while now this growing up thing.  First her shoe size surpassed mine by 3 sizes!   Then she grew and kept growing until she is now 5 inches taller than me.   Then her driver's permit on her 16th birthday, our 19th Anniversary.   We all went to the DMV, spent the day exploring Newport and watching her drive for the very first time in a parking lot.   It was rough!  She had a lot to learn.   She's come so far in the past 6 months.   Our biggest fear of letting her drive on Rt. 2 has happened three times now.   I know she is a good driver.   But then I see the other drivers out there.  The ones that swerve into my lane on our country road.  The 18 wheeler who decides taking half the fast lane is a good idea right as I'm about to pass them.   The near misses every time I drive.  I teach her to drive defensively.  I remind her that it is not her I am worried about but the other drivers.  I worry I haven't taught her everything yet.  I know she has some things to learn for herself.  

Last week I woke up in the middle of the night sitting up in bed and talking out loud.  I knew I had just had a dream about Kelsey driving and eating an apple and swerving into oncoming traffic.  I knew it was a dream.  I had to say "We're not ready for that yet!"  out loud anyway.   I couldn't fall back to sleep again.  It was early morning and I lay in bed with my worries.  I texted Kelsey that she wasn't allowed to eat apples while driving yet.  "Only apples?"  she texted in reply.  I knew how silly it sounded and recounted my dream to her while she got ready for school.  Rod knows I'm stressed when I sit up and talk in my sleep.   It usually involves children, my preschoolers in Boulder and worrying about them in the middle of the night, my own children and big steps they are about to take.     The kids on the beach I don't know but watch over anyway.   The huge responsibility of feeling responsible for their safety at all times.  

Yesterday we all went off to her scheduled license test.  All of us.  Again.  I guess we like to do things as a family.  She had to go to a different driving school to have her test if she didn't want to wait till April.  Of course they teach things differently there so the instructor did not do much to inspire her confidence.    After quite a few practice runs and observing from the back seat she texted us from the waiting car as she was next to go for her test.  "He made me do everything four times and yelled at me for not doing the hour lesson"  (which Rod had emailed him about numerous times and he never responded). And then "He made me super confidant yay! Ha ha!"  We texted back.  Me: "You are great!!! And if it doesn't go well today we will register you with your school so it's what you've done in practice.  But don't worry because you will get it today! (Kissy face emoji!) and from her dad: "You'll do great!  You've had lots of practice.  Love you"    She came back to the car ten minutes later to announce she had gotten her license.  "But I almost didn't", she said.    There isn't any almost didn't's with licenses.  You did or you didn't.   And you did!   Congratulations girl!  So proud of you!  

Now off to your first college tours! The reason we were all in the car together was because we were heading to RI for the day to see several colleges.    Perhaps that was too much for this mommy brain and heart to handle.  Too much growing up to witness in one day.  I was so proud of her with her getting her license and truthfully visiting the colleges was great.   I can tell she is easing towards being ready to leave our nest.  She is invested, she is curious and she is excited about all these next steps.   I spent the day feeling so proud of her.  I never imagined myself as the mom who watched her kid drive away alone, or the mom spending the day looking at colleges.  At the end of the day I thought that wasn't too bad.   

Until I went to bed.  She had driven off alone after dinner to a friend's house.  Rod and I had circled her in a big hug in the kitchen before she left and told her we loved her and how proud of her we were.   I told Rod for some reason I couldn't stand there and watch her drive away.  Last night I woke up several times in the middle of the night.  One time with a stress dream of a car swerving into Kelsey's lane and me not being there to protect her.   I couldn't fall back to sleep.  I listened to Rod snoring next to me and wished I could be sleeping soundly like he was.  I knew she was at her friend's.  I knew she wasn't driving in the middle of the night.  But somehow that is when my biggest worries hit.  In the middle of the night when I can do nothing about them.   So I wrapped my arms around my sleeping husband and hoped that would be enough to comfort me.  I hoped it would calm me knowing that the man that has been there since the very beginning and cares about this little girl as much as I do was able to sleep peacefully through the night.  On this day of all days.   It didn't help.  When I have trouble sleeping I often ask Rod to rub my back.  It always seems like a good idea but usually ends up annoying me because he falls asleep so quickly with the pressure of the weight of his hands on my back. Not a care in the world.  Snoring away.   Last night I let that weight comfort me.  This man.  Our little girl.  We are going to be alright.  This growing up stage is hard I have come to realize as I write about this through teary eyes.  But we will embrace it like every other phase of parenting.   We will embrace it together.