Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heaven is in the Florida Keys...

We've had quite a winter this year! When I left home, we still had well over a foot of snow in most of our yard and about three feet of snow bank still out by the end of our driveway. 

I'm hot now. The windows are open. The slider is open. The ceiling fan is on. I'm sweating. It was 89* today and it's probably 80* now. But I'm not complaining!

This is the view from the balcony in my bedroom. I'm spoiled. 

I'm on Sugarloaf Key with my sister and brother in-law and my other sister arriving tomorrow. I wish A was here but he didn't have much vacation time left and... he quite dislikes the heat. But I miss him and wish he was here. 

Today we poked around Key West, had a wonderful Cuban lunch, toured the USS Ingham, cruised past the southernmost point in the continental US, and spent a few hours reading on the deck. Not a bad day!

My only complaint is that with travel, heat and eating out, I feel like a stuffed sausage in terms of swelling. I'm planning to get out early tomorrow to get in a walk to try to keep things moving but until then, I'm putting these sausage fingers to bed!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Organization nerd...

I didn't take pictures because it was abominable before we started and because we were exhausted and freezing cold by the time we were done. But believe me, it's a MASSIVE improvement!

When we moved into our house, we brought soooooo muuuuuuuch stuuuuuff! It was overwhelming as we had three households plus bins and bins and bins of things that had traveled to many of our temporary homes and they seemed to multiply. When living in transit, if you can't put your hands on something and you need it, you acquire another...

So, upon arriving in this house, we divided the basement into three sections of bins. One was for things we use often or regularly like our camping gear, Christmas decor, sports equipment etc. (We don't have a garage so it all heads down the stairs...) One was for things that needed to be sorted and most likely sold, donated or given away. And one was for long term storage - things we don't want to part with but don't need access to very often. 

Despite a major purge a few years ago, the bins have continued to multiply and random junk has found its way into the nooks and crannies. 

After getting water in the basement last week from the melting snow (yay for walking downstairs to put in laundry in socks and simultaneously hearing and feeling the telltale sploosh of water in the area rug in front of the washer. UGH!) we decided it was time to get the bins in the long term storage area stored appropriately. It only took us seven years!

A quick(ish) trip to Home Depot brought home $200 worth of lumber to get the job done. We spent the rest of the day moving bins, building custom shelves, and freezing our tails off! With the temperature at 30* outside, it didn't feel much warmer downstairs at ~45*. I had to stuff insulation and sweep cobwebs to keep moving and stay warm between surges of action!

I'm so thrilled to have a handy husband but even happier that he knows that I can help. I'm quite handy with the chop saw and the screw gun and I'm no slouch hauling lumber. In short, we make a great team!

We had planned to weed through several of the long term bins but we ran out of time. But we now have such a wonderful, spacious, easy to access shelving system that we were able to temporarily sort them by those we need to go through and those we know we want to keep as is. Another rainy day will give us the chance to finish that job!

And now that we've got the design worked out, we plan to build another custom system for the items we use regularly. 

Ideally, at the end of this process, the third "need to sort" pile will be history and free up a whole section of the basement. And... give us access to the troublesome window that we are pretty sure is the culprit for the occasional water issue. 

Friday, March 20, 2015


First day of Spring is... 

Muddy dogs. 

Fleece pajamas. 

Twittering birds. 

Water in the basement. 

Bundled up walk. 

Patchwork dog poop patterns in the melting snow. 

Light out until 7pm. 

Burning woodstove. 

Growing list of Spring projects. 

Warm vacation just around the corner!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish and hungry...

A and I are back on track with our eating plan which is pretty much a low carb way of eating. And with every holiday that comes around, the challenge is to find food to celebrate the holiday but stay on track without feeling like we are missing out on something. It turns out that St. Patrick's Day is pretty easy on the eating plan if you think ahead. 

This year I decided to make homemade hash and roasted cabbage medallions topped with an over easy egg. (I wasn't patient enough to wait for the poached egg that I had originally planned but the over easy egg did just fine!)

The homemade hash sounds complex but I have to say, it was easy AND I like it waaaaaay better than the corned beef hash from a can (which reminds me of canned dog food...BLECH!)!

First I put the corned beef into the crock pot, and because I waited until too late in the day I poured boiling water over it to give it a boosted start, and set the crock pot on high for a few hours. 

Then I diced up some cauliflower and onion, mixed in olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roasted it until it was just turning brown. (This smells so delicious, good luck not eating it before it makes it into the hash! Truth be told, I ate some with my lunch and had to make more to supplement what was left for the recipe. Those are the hazards of working from home!) 

When the corned beef was cooked through (still pretty tough though), I trimmed all of the fat off and then cubed the beef into small chunks. 

In a heated cast iron skillet, I tossed the corned beef and the cauliflower mixture into the heated skillet with a little vegetable oil and heated it through letting it brown a bit. 

Meanwhile, at 400 degrees I roasted the medallions of green cabbage which were brushed with olive oil with a little sea salt and black pepper. I goofed on the timing and wish I had had time to roast it longer so it could brown up a bit but actually, the softness of the cabbage was quite tasty!

The combination of all of the flavors and textures was amazing and we both pushed back from the table soooo full and satisfied!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mid-winter Getaway...

We started with a handful of my sorority sisters/dearest friends getting together in March for a weekend four years ago. We rented a suite at a hotel and it was a lot of fun! 

This year was the second year we rented a house... Actually we rented one house last year and this year we rented the same house plus a second one next door. 

I think that through the weekend we had about 20 women come through the houses. With busy lives, some could only stay for one night. This year one of the gals came as far south as Atlanta, GA and one from as far north as St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. 

We had a blast. 

What do we do? We do what we do best. We make delicious food, enjoy a few adult beverages, shop, walk, laugh, reminisce, laugh more, solve the world's problems, laugh even more, and best of all, support each other in everything from weight loss journeys to lost pregnancies to divorce and everything in between. 

For the second (and probably last) year, we did a polar plunge in the ocean at Short Sands beach in York, Maine. This year we donned costumes and braved the 22 degree weather and... I have no idea how cold the water was... to plunge.  Last year was fun because although it was cold, I didn't have the immediate sensation of frozen feet. So... Next year we will do some other challenge of sorts, I think. But it was so fun for us to do it together and I have to say, the costumes were fabulous!

The weekend only lasts 2.5 days but it is such a joy to connect with such amazing women and to know that they are there as an incredible network of dear friends! It also takes me about a week to get back in the groove of life! :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

You won't hear me grumble...

Why do people complain about the weather? Does that help? Is the weather going to change just because you don't like it? Nope. Deal with it. 

It snowed another 12" today. The forecast was for 2"-5". Oops. I've heard that forecasters have apologized for their major under-sight of this storm. 

Guess what? It's gorgeous!

And I finally got out on my snowshoes. 

Glacier couldn't figure out why I stopped every time she tried to hitch a ride on the back. She did figure out that when trying to stay above back-deep in the snow, standing or sitting on my snowshoes was her best bet. 

It was even gorgeous after dark when I made my way to my friend's house. 

I'll be sad when this is all dirty and melting but for now, I'm enjoying it!