Author Archives: lenalee91
We moved into our house during the summer of 2013. The trees the run behind the house were in full bloom and the housing area behind us couldn’t be seen. Once the leaves began to fall, we noticed something that appeared to be caught in one of the trees. It is too high up to reach with a ladder so it has remained there. On windy days, the object flaps about, and I often think it will finally break free, but it doesn’t and it hasn’t in all of the time that has passed. Not even when Hurricane Sandy went through our area or the many nor’easters that we’ve had since then.
I have no idea what the item is. At first, I thought it was a plastic shopping bag someone carelessly discarded that was caught by the wind and deposited in the tree, becoming tangled among the branches. It catches our attention only to be forgotten until the next windy day when it is spotted again. I would think a plastic bag would have degraded by now. Or maybe I hope that it would have.
Each year as winter turns to spring, the leaves on the trees come out to block our view and we can no longer see it. When fall arrives, and the leaves are gone, we are almost surprised to see that it is still there. This year it looks different. It appears more tattered and looks like it might actually be a fabric of some sort. Fabric is heavier than a plastic bag, so I wonder how it might have gotten so high up in the tree. I wonder if it will still be there next fall when the leaves have gone again or will it finally break free. And if it does, where might it go next?
Is there anything outside your window that makes you pause and wonder?
One of the things I hear most often at work is how long winter seems to be this year. Looking at the calendar, we are about two-thirds of the way through winter. It has been much colder than previous years. It may have something to do with the fact that the temperatures were below freezing for several weeks. When we finally got above freezing, it made everyone think that spring wasn’t too far off. Of course Ground Hog Day happened and was anyone surprised that the little guy saw his shadow and predicted 6 more weeks of winter? I wasn’t. Of course I can add and 6 weeks + 6 weeks equals 12 weeks. And if I remember anything from school it was that each season lasts 12 weeks.
While we have had several snow events so far this winter, many people have started complaining that winter never really showed up this year. The first event gave us the most snow, around 6 inches. Each one that has come after has given us another 1-2 inches and mostly made travel a mess. Two days resulted in icy roads, which meant taking it easy when driving and watching out for those that don’t. It rained on and off most of last weekend and the temperature warmed up into the 60’s. The good news is that we were in the 50’s for most of the week. This only makes people think that winter is over, which might be a good thing because the daffodils are blooming even earlier than normal and the grass is starting to grow. But as with everything, Mother Nature has other plans and it is supposed to turn colder and snow is back in the forecast through the middle of March. I don’t think I’ll be packing away my sweaters any time soon.
What has winter been like where you are?
I was reminded by JP that I haven’t posted in a while. Truth is, while I’ve started many posts, life seems to move by too quickly at time. My office came down with the flu bug despite everyone getting a flu shot. Truth is people began getting respiratory infections around Thanksgiving and just kept spreading them throughout the office. It took until about mid-January before it was my time. I am glad that my flu shot worked, but the severe cold wasn’t fun. I’m waiting for my time to come again as most of the original people who were sick previously are now getting sick again. It seems to be working on a 5 week cycle, so I have a feeling it is just a matter of time.
Work has also been the main cause for my disappearance. The job has continued to be an issue. The turmoil continues despite changes that at first seemed for the better, but have once again deteriorated. I am now at the point of trying to decide if I want to start taking college classes again to better my chances of moving up. My husband wants me to look at school. He asked if I wanted to work on my Master’s while he works on his. It will mean moving out of my current job and into something that is part time or PRN (as needed). I know that I would not be able to do school and work full time. I just don’t have the energy for that.
Add to that I am trying to get to eat healthier. I have been researching clean eating and reading up on different programs. (I will write more about the reasons behind this soon.) I am all for cooking with fresh ingredients as long as I can get them to taste good. I have purchased more seasonings than I have ever used in the past and so far, it hasn’t been too bad. I have made two recipes that were actually yummy and my husband thought so too. He said I can make them again, so that is a good thing.
As for now, I am convinced that the biggest struggle that I will have is not having coffee with flavored creamers. As someone who was never a coffee person, I am not sure about drinking coffee without creamers. I have tried several “healthier” creamers and so far it is a no-go as to taste. So that will go into the work in progress folder. My husband is on board with whatever I do, but he doesn’t add anything to his coffee, so he will be fine.
So one of my wishes for the 2017 New Year was to teach myself how to crochet. Being left-handed, I continually frustrated my mother and grandmother when they attempted to teach me. I can crochet a simple single crochet stitch, but anything more than that and I am at a loss. So my search for crochet tutorials led me to tons of websites and YouTube. Yes, YouTube is now my friend. One of the first videos that I watched was Bella Coco from the UK. Shout out to Sarah Jayne!!! You rock in teaching someone how to crochet. She has a lot of videos showing left handed crochet. Yea!!! She also has a website, which you can find here.
I dug through my sewing box and pulled out the crochet hooks that I already had and then hit up the local craft store. My hubby is always my biggest supporter, so while I took in the yarn aisles searching for yarn for my first attempt at crocheting, he was picking out some yarn for me to make him a scarf. I thought it would probably be finished in time for next winter, but I bought the yarn and several others, as well as a few more hooks. The first stitch I learned from Bella Coco was the left-handed waffle stitch. I took notes, bookmarked the video and wrote down specific times when she transitioned from one row to another and I was off.
The first scarf took about 4 days. It was done to match my winter coat. Once I realized that it looked normal and not misshapen, I started the one for my husband. I kept checking the length and told him to tell me when it was the length that he wanted. His took about a week. Of course it was finished and the temps were in the 50’s and 60’s. The temps finally dropped and he was able to wear it for the long walk from the parking lot to his office building. His report was “it was warm and toasty and people asked where I got it from.” Mine will have to wait until next winter to be worn. I park in a parking garage and walk about 30 feet into the building.
Next up was several cowl’s to wear with some of my sweaters at work. They were my response to the no v-neck sweater policy at work, so this helps me cover up the “V” while wearing something I made. I did those in a light weight yarn and learned another new stitch. I have also learned the basket weave stitch from her site as well. I picked up two pillow forms and plan to use them on the couch. I completed the bolster pillow, which was done in the waffle stitch pattern, and I used the basket weave stitch to cover the second pillow. For my first attempts at making pillows, they came out better than I thought they would.
I then started working on an afghan to keep warm on the cold winter nights. The only issue was that winter turned into spring and by summer the yarn was too warm to work with so I put it aside to finish in the fall. I did attempt to make a pair of baby booties for one of my coworkers who was expecting and I have to say, they turned out pretty good for my first attempt.
When the weather turned cool, I started working on the afghan again and realized I was only three rows from the end. I could have finished it a lot sooner. My husband requested one for when he and the pug sit in the recliner at night, so I started working on his. I have six more skeins of yarn to go and we are only 3 weeks into the official winter season, so I am hopeful it will be done in time for him to actually use it. The photo shows the afghan and the two pillows that I made. Now I just have to figure out what I want to make next.
As another year closes, I can see the remnants of our latest snow event. I noticed how the weather forecasters have stopped referring to them as snow storms. This year they are events. We have had 4 events so far with snow totals close to 10 inches. We have spent most of the week with temperatures below freezing and that is expected to continue for another week before we might get above freezing again. Tonight is supposed to be the coldest of the season, so it will be an evening in with a fire and something warm and yummy to drink.
Looking back at my 2017 New Years Wish List, I think there were some successes. Some that are still a work in progress and one or two that I didn’t achieve. I have completed several crochet projects over the past year, including making an afghan, two pillows for the couch and several cowl like scarves to wear with sweaters. I am currently working on another afghan which will be for my husband. I just hope to finish it while it is still winter. I admit that I stopped crocheting in the summer, so this year I will look for projects that I can do during the summer. It really is relaxing. So crocheting would be a success.
I wished to be healthier. This is definitely a work in progress. I feel that I have made big improvements in cooking healthy meals. I have cooked more and we have eaten out less. It’s been easier in a way since two restaurants that we enjoyed going to closed during the past year, so fewer options mean less dining out and more home cooked meals. I am always searching for healthy meals that are also something we would eat, quick to put together and doesn’t take a professional chef to cook. Not every meal would pass the healthy test for some, but I would say we have had more healthy meals than non-healthy this year.
In terms of drinking more lemon water…I’ve failed. I just can’t do it. Neither warm or cold. I just can’t.
As for my wish to say no to Dunkin…well this was successful for a while. Then my husband discovered their Vanilla Bean Coolata for a yummy, summer treat and of course, I had to find something for me. That was their Butter Pecan Iced Coffee. Mmmm so good. Of course summer is gone and so is the butter pecan flavoring, but did I mention they now have a Winter White Chocolate? So Dunkin is in the failure category.
My wish for a new job didn’t happen in 2017. And things at work haven’t gotten better. I have applied for several internal jobs, but we are required to tell our manager that we are applying for other jobs, and it appears that we are being blocked in our attempt to move to another position. Management wants to keep us where we are. I am trying to decide how much longer I will stay. My husband wants me to quit and says I’m not the same person I was when I started. He’s right. I don’t like the person I have to be at work.
For 2018, I wish to keep working on trying to get healthier. I want to find things that motivate me to keep trying and not give up as easily as I have in the past. And I want to end each day with something positive.
For all of you who stop in here, I wish you and your loved ones have a year of love, laughter and good health!!
With fall officially set to depart on Thursday this week, I have to say that fall this year has truly been one of the more beautiful ones that I can remember. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a rather mild summer. Oh sure, we had a short period of time when the temperatures were in the 90’s, but for the most part, the summer stayed in the 80’s and when fall came, it actually was cool. That might have had something to do with the amazing show that Mother Nature put on in our region. Driving to work, the bright oranges and reds of the trees with the early morning sky showing pink and orange in the background made for a beautiful drive.
And all those wonderful colors on display made for a lot of weekend road trips for my husband and myself. We did a lot of leaf peeping in the region, making several trips to Pennsylvania, including a fall foliage train ride and a tour of covered bridges. We also visited the Great Falls National Park on both the Maryland and Virginia side and discovered a tasty little barbecue place along the way. Can I just say that Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls, VA serves the most amazing loaded fries, which comes complete with burnt ends, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onions? Yum! They are worth a stop if you are in the area.
Here are a few photos of some of the places that we visited…
Rocks State Park, Maryland
Great Falls National Park, Virginia / Maryland
Bucks County, PA view from Bowman’s Tower
One of the Buck’s County, PA covered Bridges
All photos © lenalee
So my hours at work changed and I am getting home later. This means that it is later when I put together dinner. One of the great things about cooler weather is that I am one step closer to pulling out the crock pot to cook soup and stews for dinner. It also means that I have been looking for meals that would allow me to save time cooking, but are also healthy and yummy too. One of the things I came across was a number of websites that were encouraging the idea of meal prep. The idea is that you get ingredients for several meals, usually 4-6, and cook them one day on the weekend, storing the meals into containers to be frozen to eat later or kept in the fridge to eat that week. Sounds good right? Hmmm, hold that thought.
I found a website that allowed you to sign up for a meal prep challenge. The blogger would put together meals, send out the shopping list of ingredients needed and even include how many containers and what types were needed to store each meal in. Sounds even better, right? It did until I received the email with the list of meals that were to be prepped. There was not one meal that we would eat as listed. Most contained exotic vegetables or seasonings that would be extremely hard to get in my local stores. Or they contained items that were just not something that we would eat (hello brussel sprouts). As someone who only recently discovered the yumminess of roasted sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts are not in my immediate plans.
So to prep meals in advance, I would have to substitute a lot of things, which would mean guessing at the amounts to buy. One of the nice ideas about meal prepping is that you are told how much of each item you need. To replace those meant I would now risk getting to much or too little and the prep would fail. I then came across several blogs where they discuss the idea that meal prep takes nutrients away from the food, so if you are trying to eat healthier like we are, losing nutrients would not be something that we want to do.
I then came across the idea of sheet pan meals. The concept here is that you cook the entire meal at once on a sheet pan from start to finish in 45 minutes or less. Take a protein, such as chicken, and add vegetables. Season or marinade the chicken and roast the vegetables.at the same time. There were even sheet pan ideas for breakfast and dessert. I have several recipes bookmarked and I tried my first sheet pan meal last week and it worked out great. I made Asiago chicken and roasted vegetables at the same time. We added a salad and the whole thing took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a week night meal. And of course you can make it as healthy as you want.
Now I just have to figure out what to try next? Any ideas?