Out With The Old, In With The New

champagneWell, 2008 ended pretty much exactly how it started — with a snow storm! We probably have about four or five inches out there and it’s still blowing around. Originally I thought maybe we’d order a pizza tonight, but it’s too cold out to get in the car to pick it up. Instead we’ll make due with frozen pizza and mozzarella sticks, and I’m making some potato skins. The pizza from our favorite pizza place would certainly be tastier, but I don’t feel like bundling up and heading out, especially since I have this cold. I think tonight we’ll just nibble on snacks and probably play some Wii games. I highly doubt I’ll make it up to the stroke of midnight. I’d rather usher the new year in with a good night’s sleep (as my dad always says) 😉

2008 had it’s ups and downs, that’s for sure, but overall it was a great year for us. I’m so looking forward to 2009 – I can’t wait to see what it has in store! From my family to yours — we wish you a happy and healthy New Year! Cheers!!!

A Snapshot of 2008

With little else going on today besides waiting to conduct my rescheduled interview for my feature story and blowing my nose every five seconds, I thought I’d join in on the New Year Fun at Kelli’s blog. You simply post the first sentence of your first blog post of each month, and you can also add a favorite photo from each month. Here’s mine!

~ January ~
Earlier today my brother was demanding that I update my blog, so here you are :-).



~ February ~
 What a strange morning. I was waiting for the bus with Jake, as usual, when a car slowed down and the driver said, “School’s cancelled!”

february sky, 7 a.m.


~ March ~ 
Ages ago I saw Giada DiLaurentis make a sandwich like this on her program and ever since I’ve wanted to try it.

strawberry and chocolate panini


~ April ~
OK, I am almost feeling ready to give the Forest Canopy Shawl another try.
"Defeath the Winter Doldrums" swap package

~ May ~
If you missed out on Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day, or Baskin-Robbin’s 31-cent scoop night, do NOT miss out on Carvel’s Happy Hour tonight.
ragamuffin garland

~ June ~
I’m so awful — I can’t quickly find a wedding photo to post on our 7th anniversary!

~ July ~
The farm shares are just getting better and better as the weeks go on!
delicious summer

~ August ~
Last winter my parents got a new snowblower and graciously gave us their old one, which is much more powerful than the one we had and much better suited for our driveway.
summer vegetable tart

~ September ~
It’s Thursday, isn’t it?

CSA Share: Week #16

~ October ~
Want to know a sure sign of autumn?
"new" piano

~ November ~
I’m getting so impatient to finish redoing our upstairs bathroom.

~ December ~
I’ve been grouchy since the moment I woke up this morning, and things just aren’t looking up.
winter solstice

 Thanks to Kelli for hosting, and if you want to join in, be sure to add your name to the Mr. Linky on her blog.

Holiday Hangover

I think I just might be suffering from a holiday hangover because I am so tired and achy today. I think all the driving, all the delicious (but not necessarily healthy) food, and general craziness surrounding Christmas has caught up with me. But that aside, we certainly had a wonderful holiday! We had dinner on Christmas Eve at Drew’s mom’s house, and then I hosted on Christmas day. I would, without a doubt, make the beef tenderloin again. I could not believe how easy it was, and the result was delicious. Next time I might only cook it until 125 degrees (internal temp.) instead of 130 — I think it could have been a bit rarer still, but it was pretty pink inside and melted in your mouth.

The boys were thrilled with their toys (Legos, Transformers, a Hulk Smash game, baseball set, just tons of toys!) and Drew took us all by surprise with a family gift he saved for last. When the boys tore off the wrapping paper and I saw that he’d bought a Wii, I was shocked! (Happily shocked, but utterly surprised!) You see, Drew isn’t really into video games or computer games. He’s not the kind of guy who sits around playing World of Warcraft. Heck, I can’t even get him to play Wordscraper on Facebook! But apparently he’d been looking into various video game systems and really liked the Wii. He also got a Wii Fit and several games to go with the system. We’ve been enjoying the tennis game most of all so far, and Jake loves his I Spy game. It really is a lot of fun!

I was spoiled with some beautiful jewelry (including a gorgeous etched glass cameo that will look stunning with a knit lace shawl — now I have my motivation to finish one!). And the other gift that blew me away was a hand-painted jewelry armoire. I’ve wanted one of those armoires for years! I am so excited to transfer all my jewelry into it. Drew loved his book of Tom Waits sheet music, and the various iPod Nano accessories that I picked out for him, as well as a few other odds and ends.

We spend the day after Christmas at my parents’ house and had a great time there visiting with mom and dad and my brother and sister-in-law. Mom made a bunch of delicious Polish food and I especially enjoyed the homemade kielbasa that they buy locally and the cabbage pierogis. *So good!* I am really spoiled. The “kielbasa” and pierogis you buy at the supermarket aren’t even close to the real things. We got home late Saturday afternoon and had a lazy day yesterday.

Today I’ve been trying to clean everything up and getting ready to take down the tree and decorations. As much as I love having them up, I also love after I take everything down and put it all away, reclaiming all the space in my house! I love starting the new year clean and uncluttered.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays as well. Any exciting plans for New Year’s?

Christmas Eve

Well it looks like a pretty rainy day out there today, but hopefully at least some of the snow will stick around. We have well over a foot of it, so I doubt it all will melt away.

I have to say that this is the most relaxed Christmas Eve I’ve had in several years. I think part of the reason is that I chose food for Christmas Day that doesn’t require really any prep work. Last year we did a variety of appetizers and pizzas and that was really time-intensive. In previous years I’ve done brunches and prepared egg dishes that needed to be prepped and set overnight, as well as a variety of baked goods. This year it’s filet mignon (which I still think was the best buy of all the holiday food sales), au gratin potatoes (sorry, from a box — easier and the boys will eat them), salad, green beans, and rolls. Super easy. My MIL is going to bring dessert — anything leftover from tonight. That should work out well.

This morning the boys and I plan to bake some chocolate chip cookies for Santa. I’ve also been doing a little candy making for last-minute additions to gifts. And I am still not done with one last knitting project! Argh! I just hope I have time to finish it up. If not, I am sure the recipient will understand.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope your preparations are going well!

Snow Day

obligatory 1st snow of the year house photo

Wow, it is really coming down out there! I would say we have about 5 inches of snow so far and it started just before noon. Since school was cancelled today (I anticipated that yesterday), I let the boys make snowman sundaes this afternoon. Originally I thought it would be fun for the first day of winter, but it made much more sense on such a snowy afternoon! This one is Jake’s and this one is Noah’s.

The boys played out in the snow for a bit and I snapped a couple pictures (also on Flickr). The only problem is that my D40 is so bulky out there when it’s snowing like mad. It got me thinking that maybe I should research some inexpensive point-and-shoot digital cameras so I have a teeny little one to just stick in my pocket. Then again, I suppose I could always use Drew’s… I just never think of it.

Anyway, I think the plan for the evening is to eat something for dinner after Drew comes in from snowblowing, and then we’ll probably watch a movie tonight and I shall work on some knitting projects. Stay warm 🙂

It’s Nuts Out There!

Oh my goodness, I hope none of you have to venture to any big box store or mall in the next week. It is crazy out there. Last night I ran into Target for a couple small things since I was in the area. How bad could it be, right? Well, the place was like a war zone! I am not even kidding — people had crazed looks on their faces and they were just throwing iPods and toys and whatever else they could find into their carts (I assume they were going to be Christmas gifts). The displays were a mess. There was even an old guy on a stretcher near the lingerie department. There’s a joke in there, but I won’t make it because I felt bad for him. It’s like at this time of year, people lose all common sense and don’t even think about their purchases. You’d think that, for example, if one wanted to buy weight loss drugs one would research the best diet pills, right? Why aren’t people thinking about that crappy toaster oven they just threw into their cart? The sad part is, I am not even joking.

Walmart was no different this morning. I know, I know — why did I torture myself? Truthfully, I needed to go grocery shopping and figured I’d suffer through WM since I had a couple non-food items on the list too. And while I was prepared for the Christmas shoppers, I had forgotten that people would be nutty stocking up for this snow storm we’re supposed to get tomorrow — possibly as much as 14 inches. You can only imagine the frenzy that puts people into as well. It’s like they won’t survive for one day if they don’t have three gallons of milk or ten extra pairs of socks. Somehow I managed to keep a smile on my face (most of the time) and only forgot a few inconsequential items.

I can’t say that I’m above storm-panic (though I consider myself storm-cautious). I had an interview scheduled with a local florist for tomorrow mid-afternoon (a feature story I’m writing), but I decided to call and reschedule. I felt a little bit like a schmuck, but according to the weather reports, the heaviest snowfall will be occuring while I’d be driving over and interviewing this person. The way I see it, it’s extra stress I don’t need to deal with. (Especially after last week’s ice storm – ugh!).

We’ll see how much we actually get, but seems like we just might have a white Christmas this year.

The Ice Storm

DSC_0367 Wow, what a crazy weekend. You might have assumed, and correctly so, that as residents of the Hudson Valley we got whalloped with this ice storm that apparently was all over the news. It started on Thursday. School was cancelled and it was cold and rainy (resulting in ice). Thursday night around 8PM our power went out. Now, our power goes out with some regularity in poor weather, so that was no surprise. What *did* surprise me was waking up around 3:30 a.m., still no power, and hearing a chain saw outside. A tree in front of our house had uprooted and fallen across the road. They were clearing it out. This is the tree in the morning.

When everyone was up shortly after 6 and we still didn’t have power, we decided to head down to Stewart’s (provided the roads weren’t slick) for some coffee, donuts, and local gossip. The roads were wet, but not icy at all and the Taconic was in relatively good shape. Props to the Dutchess Co. road crews who were working their tails off! I know they were trying hard to make things safe. Down at Stewart’s we learned that the entire northern part of the county was without power and all but one school district was cancelled. This did not sound good.

We went home, ate, and I went outside to take photos. Shortly after 9 I started to freak out a little. Thirteen hours with no power. Our wood stove was doing a good job keeping the house comfortable, but without power, our well can’t pump so we had no water. Oh, and I had an OB appointment at 4. I decided to take a chance and see if there was any way they could fit me in earlier and thank goodness, they squeezed me in at 10:30! We made the command decision that everyone would go to the OB’s and after that we’d high-tail it to my parents’ in WMass since the power situation here was not looking good.

DSC_0327Driving along was fine until we hit southern Columbia County (right above us — where Lisanne lives). The Taconic was just ridiculous. I don’t think a road crew had even set foot on the highway. For mile after mile we slalomed between trees hunched over the road, heavy with ice. It was beautiful, terrifying, and ridiculous all at once. I only wished I had kept my camera with me instead of putting it in the trunk. Once we made it off the Taconic, we saw three or four police cars blocking the entrance on the other side. Later we’d learn that they closed it off! We must have made it out of there just in time.

At any rate, we made it to Palmer and had a nice visit with everyone. Saturday morning I called the NYS Troopers to check on the Taconic and it was still closed between Rte. 199 and Claverack, so we stayed another night. That worked out because we got to visit with my brother and his wife and had a lot of fun chit-chatting and playing Wii bowling and tennis. Sunday morning the Taconic was still closed off. We decided to take 87 and get lunch out — ya know, just in case we need full bellies for the night, LOL! As it turned out, staying that extra night was a good thing. Our power didn’t come back on until Sunday morning around 11! That’s over 60 hours without power! Wild.

We were lucky that we had a warm, cozy place to go and that the trees around our house were far enough away that nothing was ever in danger of falling on our roof (some people around here weren’t so lucky!). I’ll leave you with my favorite photo. A few weeks ago, my pussy willow bush started to bud and bloom with the warmer weather we’d been having. I love this shot of one of the flowers encased in ice:

frozen blossom

A Great Feeling!

Yesterday morning I officially finished our Christmas shopping!!! What a load off my shoulders. Of course, I still have some crafting I need to finish up, but everything I need is in my house and I don’t need to spend anymore money, thankfully. I also got a little gift for myself yesterday — new (faux) leather boots. My brother and his wife had given me a Macy’s card for my birthday, and I had like $7 left on one my parents gave me two (or is it three?) years ago. The purses (my original idea) were ridiculously expensive there, even on sale, and I could not find anything else I liked. As I was leaving the store I passed by the shoe department and figured it was worth a look. I ended up walking out of there with a pair of these beauties at an even better price than listed on the company’s website! I think they’ll be supercute with jeans.

The other big deal yesterday was that I finally figured out what I’m making on Christmas Day. Shop Rite to the rescue! This week they have beef tenderloin (filet mignon) on sale for $4.99/lb (which is an excellent price), so I purchased one that is slightly over 5 lbs. I’ll serve it with iceberg lettuce wedges and blue cheese dressing, probably green beans, and some kind of potato. And don’t forget dessert (my version of “diet supplements” this time of year, LOL! Lord knows I’ve been supplementing my diet with plenty of them). I might see if my MIL wants to bring a buche de Noel like she did last year. If not, I’ll proabably just do cookies. I also have been craving my mom’s pear and lime Jell-O mold (don’t laugh — it is SO good!), so I might make that too. I’m really looking forward to it now that I have a nice, easy menu!

Today I am hoping to finish up our Christmas cards, but right now I promised Noah I’d make Rice Krispie treats with him. 🙂

Hudson Valley Holidays

This list is mostly for my reference, but who knows — maybe some other HV’ers will find it useful! This is just a list of free holiday events going on around Dutchess County. I doubt we’ll hit them all, but hopefully we can make one or two.

Sat., Dec. 13, 1-5 PM @ FDR Historic Site – Henry A. Wallace Center (Hyde Park) – Make holiday cards to send to the men & women serving on the USS Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt. Photos with Santa at no charge. Children’s book fair including HV authors. Live music & entertainment

Sat., Dec. 13, 2-5 PM – Tivoli Winterfest – Tree lighting, music, crafts, activities, Santa, bonfire, fireworks

Mon., Dec. 15, 6 PM – Center For Performing Arts in Rhinebeck – Holiday Entertainment Celebration – Magic songs, Christmas goodies, Santa. (Free w/ donation of a new toy, book, gloves, scarf or hat for a child in need)

Mon., Dec. 22, 7PM – Hyde Park Train Staton – Polar Express Night – Story, crafts, model trains, refreshments, visit from Santa

Plus, of course, all the mansions are decorated for the holidays. From what I’ve seen, they are mostly free unless you want a tour or there is a specific event going on. There’s more in the southern part of the county too, but I don’t usually make it much further than Poughkeepsie. If you know of anything fun, please feel free to mention it!