Silly Things I Love

Several months ago, my local Stop & Shop installed barcode scanners so that you can scan and bag your groceries as you go along. Can I just say how much I love doing this? Granted, most times I start shopping this way I end up having to go to a cashier, regardless (either something won’t scan or I find some meat with a coupon… something like that). But still, just the fact that it adds up my total for me as I go along is great. Plus, very often it gives me “coupons” based on my shopping history. Since you pretty much never get a coupon for strawberries in the Sunday paper, getting on on the scanner is awesome. Does your grocery store offer this service? What do you think of it?

CSA 2009: final share

CSA 2009: final share

Please excuse the remnants of dinner on the table in this photo. (Ravioli cooked with tomato sauce, onions, and peppers in the Crock Pot, by the way. It was really good!) Yesterday afternoon I picked up our final CSA share for the season. I was disappointed we didn’t get any butternut squash (I’d been hoping for it so I could make soup), but it is still a great share. We got a head of lettuce, arugula, greens (I chose kale), broccoli, carrots, parsnips, rutubaga, turnips, garlic, three delicata squash, and “take what you want” for peppers. I’m not even sure what the dark ones are or the long, skinny ones but I was excited to try them. Drew and I both love peppers.

With the kale and potatoes I plan to make a copycat recipe of the Zuppa Toscana served at The Olive Garden. I just need to pick up some cream or half-and-half. I’ve been planning on roasting a chicken this weekend anyway so I think the parsnips and carrots will go well with that. I’m determined to make something with the rutubaga. In the newsletter there’s a recipe for maple roasted root vegetables with walnuts that I might try.

So that’s that. We’re not particpating next year, but I do plan on making better use of local farmer’s markets for fresh, local produce. And I don’t have to purchase things we don’t eat (I’m talking to you, bok choy). Of course, now the challenge will be to keep our veggie consumption up over the winter when I don’t have a big basket of pre-picked veggies every other Tuesday. I think with a little inititiative I’ll do OK.


Yesterday was my birthday. I am now thirty-four years old.

I was filling out a sign-up form and my age group was 18-34. My last year in this younger group. Sigh… I’m trying to tell myself it’s just a number

Sticker-shock aside I had a lovely day. Drew and the boys gave me a basket full of vanilla-scented bath gels and lotions from Bath & Body Works as well as a couple extras, including a small lotion in their new fragrance “Twilight Woods.” It smells so pretty! I was also given this beautiful necklace that Drew and Jake found at the flea market a few weeks ago. I don’t have anything like it and I absolutely love it!

birthday necklace

I also decided to open a bottle of Mas de la Dame Coin Caché Blanc 2005 that we’ve had for a while. I’d planned to drink it on my birthday last year, but I was pregnant at the time. I originally had it at a distributor-sponsored tasting when we had the wine shop. I love this wine! It’s a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Clairette. So delicious.

birthday wine

Drew wanted to take me out to dinner, so we went to Red Lobster because I was craving shrimp. I wasn’t sure how it would go over with the boys, but they actually loved it too. Noah just had mac & cheese, but Jake tried popcorn shrimp and ate every last bite. I went for the scampi and coconut shrimp — my two favorites. Drew also ordered me a slice of key lime pie and the waitresses brought it over and sung “Happy Birthday.” I am quite sure I turned beet red, LOL! The pie was super yummy, too.

I also was overwhelmed with birthday wishes by friends from all over the world, thanks to the wonder of Facebook. It might be silly but it does make me feel closer to people I don’t get to see often.

It was a good day.

playing catch-up

I feel like this has been such a long weekend, and yet it seems weird that it’s already Sunday night. The time dragged, yet where did it go? Friday morning we were off early, heading to WMass to my grandmother’s funeral. It was very nice and I think she would have approved of her send-off. My mom kept things simple, just as Babci would have preferred. The service was private, just immediate family. Afterwards we had lunch at Steaming Tender and everything was delicious! I opted for a bowl of lobster bisque and a garden salad and I really enjoyed them both.

After lunch we headed back to my parents’ house. Drew and Jake stayed for a few minutes before heading back here. Jake had a birthday sleepover to attend on Friday night and there was no reason for him to miss that. I stayed up at my parents’ with Noah and Laura. My cousin gave me a much-needed haircut and I basically hung out with my family for a couple days. It was quite relaxing. I came home early this morning and then we all picked up Jake from his religion class and then hit Friendly’s for lunch.

As for Drew’s aunt, she continues to do well. It is still crazy to think that a week before all this happened she was in Sicily. If I ever do extensive travel I think I might consider travel insurance after all this, just in case.

So now I am just hoping for a boring, quiet week. Noah is on the mend from a slight case of pneumonia. I think my cold is finally gone and Drew is fighting off something. I’m thinking that a week of comfort foods might be in order. I’m done with excitement for a while, thankyouverymuch.

attic24 bag ta-dah!

Wow, I can’t believe how long it took me to finish this. What should have been a relatively quick project took over three months. But I’ve finished it and I’m pretty happy with my attic24 bag. Noah seems to like it a great deal. He tried to sneak off with it and use it to store some Hot Wheels cars, but no — this is my new project bag.

attic24 bag

attic24 bag flower detail

I altered the pattern slightly by crocheting two decrease rows before the scallop edging. I wanted the bag to go back in a little bit. I think one row would have been sufficient, looking back on it. If I do another one, I’ll also not make the bottom so large. This makes a very B-I-G bag. But now I can focus on some smaller projects:

ready for the next project

… a few more pumpkin hats for some sweet little babies with cold heads! Then winter hats for my dad and Drew, some fingerless mitts for myself, and oh yes I still plan to cast on for Colonnade. Hopefully I can breeze through the hats because I’m really itching to switch back to knitting and start working on this shawl.

saying goodbye is never easy

babciMy last remaining grandparent passed away yesterday. My Babci had spent the last five years in a nursing home and the last few days had been especially bad for her. She’d been sick for a long time and although my mind knows that this is for the best (she hated living like this, when really for the last year it was merely “existing”), my heart is still understandably sad. Though, truthfully, knowing that she is at peace and in a much better place now does make it easier for me.

The other day I read this quote, “Remember how they lived, not how they died” and I have been thinking about that a lot. My grandmother was a wonderful, amazing person who (and I mean this in the best possible way) could also frustrate you beyond belief with her stubbornness. It’s who she was.

She loved reading the Boston Herald and Star magazine. She was incredibly interested in politics and volunteered every election day to help with voting, as long as she could.

She canned gallons of string beans and tomatoes. She made the best pierogis, cabbage soup, and churst. She loved clothes, but rarely bought them new — she loved second-hand shops and her closets were jammed.

She swore like a sailor, which was pretty funny considering how very proper she acted otherwise.

When we were kids, on half-days of school she and our great-uncle would take us to either the Sunset Restaurant for the lunch special or to Ponderosa for the buffet before we walked around the Eastfield Mall. It used to drive me and Mike crazy that she had to stick an apple and a couple rolls in her purse.

Every spring she planted alyssum and marigolds and these small purple flowers (I can’t think of what they’re called) in the raised bed next to her house. She loved the Red Sox. And talk radio. And news programs. Every night she sat on her front porch and prayed the rosary (while simultaneously keeping a very close eye on the comings and goings of everyone on the street, LOL….).

She had the best laugh.

She sewed matching outfits for me and my brother for many holidays. She used to let me use her sewing machine and scraps to make blankets for my Barbie dolls. (And now I have heaps and heaps of unused rick-rack, binding, zippers, buttons and other notions, as well as a stack of fabric that she never used.)

She was a hard worker. She mowed her own lawn well into her 70s.

She got to meet and hold Jake, Noah, and Laura. (She was so relieved when she found out that our third child was going to be a girl; apparently girls take good care of their mamas when they get old — a testament to how amazing my own mother is, I think).

Having lived next door to her from birth until my Junior year in high school, I have so many memories as you can imagine. These are a just a few snippets of who she was. She was one of a kind and didn’t take guff from anyone. She was a great person and a wonderful grandmother.

I’ll miss you, Sophie.

rhinebeck splurge

rhineckbeck goodies

As I mentioned, I hadn’t planned on going to Sheep & Wool due to weather, illness, and the situation with Drew’s aunt. Saturday (the day I’d originally planned to go) I was sulky about being stuck home even though I still felt pretty yucky. In the afternoon I began to feel a lot better so I was sulky because I was feeling better and knew from previous experience there that it would be near-impossible to enjoy myself if I brought all three of the munchkins. Drew got home mid-afternoon and we ended up getting take-out and a movie so the day turned out all right, but I was still a little bummed.

Sunday the weather was cold and rainy. Drew and Jake were at a “Show & Sell” over at William’s Lumbers for the Cub Scouts popcorn fundraiser. William’s is just down the street from the fairgrounds. When they got back around 2:30 he mentioned that it seemed like there weren’t that many people over there. I think he knew I wanted to go 😉 I said, “What the heck, right?” and threw on a sweater, grabbed my Scrunchable Scarf and headed over. Every light I hit turned green as I approached, I was flagged into a great parking spot, and the rain seemed to stop as soon as I pulled in. Even though I would only have about two hours there, it was two hours to myself, surrounded by yarn.

I hustled through the buildings and tents to get an idea of what I might want. Probably not fast enough to burn fat, but I kept a pretty good pace. I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money because I have a pretty big gift card for WEBS. I saw a lot of pretty things, but nothing that was really calling out to me. I decided to browse through the food building and saw Cascade Mt. Winery. I hoped they might still have some of this spiced wine that I love, and sure enough they did! Even better, because the show was close to closing it was discounted, so my $12 bottle of Heavenly Daze only cost me $8. It will be so good on a snowy evening.

Wandering back through Building B, this yarn caught my eye. I don’t usually go for these colors, but… this is what was calling out to me. I think it shall become some kind of shawl or wrap. The festival was pretty slow late on Sunday and it was nice not fighting crowds. It was exactly the kind of thing I needed.

what a week

Is it Friday? Already? And yet in a way this has seemed like a very long week at the same time. It’s been a difficult one, but is happily ending on a positive note. My husband’s aunt has been in the ICU all week and had emergency heart surgery on Wednesday. What started off as “nothing” at the ER on Sunday night turned out to be an aorta aneurysm. Actually it’s the same thing that killed John Ritter only we were a little more lucky and instead of bursting right away, it started with a tear. She’d been experiencing fatigue and early Monday morning, the pressure on the trachea led to loss of oxygen and heart failure. It wasn’t until Tuesday when they discovered what the problem was. Those hours of uncertainty were scary, to say the least.

She’d already had heart surgery once (about 12 years ago), but I am happy to say that she is now doing “very well.” There were quite a few other issues with her heart that needed to be repaired, but she is at an excellent hospital and they’ve taken great care of her. She woke up early this morning and was able to let the nurse know that she was not in pain. They expect to remove the breathing tube today, so that is a very good sign. They were being very cautious with that and did not want to take it out prematurely. I just want to send a sincere thank you to all of my friends who have been thinking of and praying for her. I am convinced that they worked. She will be recovering for several days of course, but all signs are good and hopefully they’ll stay that way.

So I will not be attending Sheep & Wool tomorrow after all, since Drew wants to be at the hospital with his mom in the morning. It’s just as well, probably, because I have a horrid cough and it’s supposed to be cold and wet this weekend. It wouldn’t be smart for me to walk around in that and get myself sicker. Instead I think I’ll build a fire in the wood stove, bake some Halloween brownies with the boys and (hopefully) finish the flowers and sew up everything on my Attic24 bag, work on a pumpkin hat for my cousin’s little girl, and cast on for Colonnade. If I really get itchy to buy yarn, I have a gift card for WEBS that I got for Mother’s Day. I can always browse online. Not quite the same, but… You have to work with what you’ve got 🙂

And in other news… It’s snowing. In mid-October. For real. At least it’s not sticking!

menu plan monday


Although I’m making up a menu plan for the week, I’m not sure how closely I will stick with it. My husband’s aunt was admitted to the hospital last night. Without going into details, I’m just not sure what the week will hold as far as being able to cook and eat together, but hopefully things will track on a positive path. So with that, here’s my tentative plan:

Sunday: Cheesesteak sandwiches
Monday: Quesadillas, salad
Tuesday: Meatballs and spaghetti, green salad
Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, pumpkin waffles, bacon
Thursday: Soup & sandwiches or leftovers
Friday: Chicken breasts, CSA veggies, buttered noodles
Saturday: Steak, baked potato, green beans, salad

For more meal plan ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.

life without cable/satellite

Back in July we decided to cancel our DirecTV subscription and I have to say, after my initial withdrawal from MSNBC, it hasn’t been a big deal for anyone in the house. I asked the boys if they missed it and they said they didn’t. Because of the tall trees near our house we can’t even get a signal for basic channels with a digital receiver/antennae so we have been getting by on Netflix and DVDs. I’ve just increased the time I spend listening to NPR for my news fix and it’s all working out quite well. I certainly don’t miss the commercials, especially the ones for prescription meds. Those used to drive me crazy. I’ve never been sure how I feel about the way they offer free samples. It’s like hey — here’s a Concerta coupon. Not quite the same as a Cheerios coupon. Personally I feel that doctors should be giving out the info on prescription meds, and not the producers themselves. But that’s just my own little pet peeve.

I also enjoy the lack of toy commercials and not having to hear the “I want this, I want that.” The boys also watch substantially less TV as a result, even though we’re pretty willing to put on any of their DVDs for background noise. So that’s been good, too. And, of course, the cost savings. We maximize our Netflix subscription by watching lots of stuff online, and I use Hulu for shows like The Office, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. I thought this would be a lot harder than it was. I’m in no rush to go back to it, either. Of course, we’ll see how we feel in the middle of winter when the list of things to do becomes a bit more limited. We shall see.