It seems like I haven't posted in ages yet I have so little to talk about...but don't worry, I'll find something. What a frozen world we have been living in. I'm sure you have heard all the horror stories about the Midwest and now the upper and lower East coast are going through the same. This is a picture of a frozen lake Michigan in front of the Chicago skyline. My friend Cindy let me borrow it. Brrrrrr. Fortunately we were stocked up on food and had everything we needed to amuse ourselves with. Knowing there were homeless people, as well as people without heat that had to seek out shelter, we were so fortunate. Nevertheless, our house is drafty and we wore layers. We avoided going outside except to shovel the snow. Neighbors helped neighbors. It was very humbling. At our worst we were 15 below zero. We are now up to 12 above and getting warmer bit by bit every day.
The Husband has been working from home quite a bit. He has a suburban office (actually just an office he leases from our insurance company) just 10 minutes away besides his downtown office. This is really convenient for meeting with clients that would rather not make the trip into downtown Chicago. So he has been working there and at home a lot in the past few months. I think I now understand what a wife goes through when her hubby retires. I know it must be difficult for both the spouses, but this is my beef (and blog!). He's at odds with what to do in his spare time and spends a little too much time with his nose in my business. Do you know, he answers my cell phone sometimes! Really! The nerve! Like it's the house phone. He seems to have taken over. For example, we have these sweet Polish ladies that come in once a month for a really deep cleaning. When he was working downtown steadily, he barely nodded at them as he walked out the door in his suit with his briefcase. Well, now they all sit and chat and he offers them coffee and they are just so tight!! The last time they were here he peeked his head around the corner of the bedroom door and said, "We can't find the vacuum cleaner." We???? And he's been taking a lot of baths, at least one a day. He had to take baths after the discomfort from his surgery in July, but I really don't see that this is necessary now, he just seems to like them. When I notice a bottle of Calgon lurking nearby I will really lose it. I want my MAN back.
Around 4:00 p.m. Saturday, we were both lying on our bed. We were napped out, TV'd out, read out, small talked out, and finally I sat up and said, "We are going to drive each other crazy if we don't get out of this house!" So off we went to our favorite restaurant just a few blocks away. Fox's Pub. A change of scenery and some fresh (frozen) air. Sometimes that's all it takes. We came home and I went to bed. He hopped into the tub.
I like comfort food in this weather and I also like breakfast for dinner on occasion. I decided to make this layered crock pot recipe that I did up for Christmas morning only made it in a casserole in the oven instead. Personally I love something that I can throw together quick and then walk away while it cooks. And this is a recipe that you can use a lot of variations in. In a nutshell (or casserole dish):
Layer 1/2 of a large bag of shredded hash browns in a casserole that you have sprayed with Cooking oil. Over that make a layer of chopped onion and green pepper (about 1 cup). Then layer 1 cup of cheddar cheese over that. Salt and pepper lightly between layers. Repeat, ending with cheese. Mix together 8 eggs and 1 cup of milk and pour over layers. Bake at 350 for one hour.
Now, you can be veeeeery creative with this by using your own favorite veggies, cheeses and even bacon or sausage. Think of your favorite omelet. I love jalapenos in mine. The crock pot recipe is the same only twice the ingredients. That's great for a crowd like I had for brunch. I hope you try it!
My back is feeling great. Once I got active again the pain was better and the stiffness was gone. I procrastinated but finally got to work on de~Christmasizing yesterday. I really took my time, in fact, I didn't ask for help, especially from Emily, she's sloppy. I have the decorations organized by room, the bins numbered and stacked in order of how they should be brought out next year. Abby said, "You're really being anal about this, Mom." And I said, "No, I'm making it easier for you in case I drop dead in the next year!!"
The living room looks pretty stark, doesn't it? I usually keep it pretty neutral in the winter but I was reading a favorite blog and this sweet lady said that she was going to add some bursts of color to her home to contrast with the dull colors outside her window (Hello, Balisha!!). I like that idea. I thought I might add some pops of one color, I was thinking of sort of an aqua blue. So I'm shopping the house and I may pick up some candles from Target. Decorative and useful.
And I'm really excited...The Husband is so susceptible to falling for the domino effect, I almost feel a little guilty. If you look at the above picture of the bare Christmas tree, just hiding behind it is a small table with our teeny little 32 inch TV. This living room is treated much like a family room since it is open to the dining area and kitchen, so we like a TV in there (although for years we didn't), but we didn't want or have room for one of those big screen deals. We have that in our family room which is on the whole other end of the house. Well, I spotted a beautiful corner cabinet entertainment sort of center at the store Emily works at. The Husband liked it and mumbled something about going with a larger TV now that we would have the proper cabinet. Okay...And then Emily emailed us the matching coffee table and end table. Score! I knew once we painted and got the new chairs last year that we would soon get around to the right furniture. The coffee table is an old wobbly thing I found on Overstock years ago, and the TV actually sits on an ancient LL Bean nightstand. We are so with it. Anyway, I'll keep you updated.
This was meant to go with the above picture. Milo and Layla just lolled around on the furniture (and on the new throw I received for Christmas from son Jeff, no less), while I slaved over the living room. They really haven't been liking the weather much. Milo got stuck in the frozen snow yesterday. Before it got cold, he had carved a path in the backyard from the porch to the patio to the back gate. The snow was neck high on him. He didn't realize that the snow had frozen to a rock~like state and tried to bound over it. I was at the backdoor watching, with no shoes on of course, and he was totally stuck and bewildered. To make a long story short, he managed to jump back out and since then he has not strayed from his little self made path.
The second bud on my amaryllis came up swiftly and is taller than the first. It should open tomorrow. I just love a little outdoors in. I miss my garden. And I am so excited about working on some new ideas at the lake this summer. It gives me shivers of happiness!
I thought I would add a little randomness here, I know, that's very surprising. In celebration of, and not to be one left behind in our annual January craze to simplify, organize and purge, I found some simple tips in HGTV magazine and I thought I would pass them on to you. These are some of the things you might not think to toss or recycle:
~old bent wire hangers
~socks with no match
~last year's holiday cards
~used notebooks and scratch pads
~dried up cans of paint
~old hairbrushes and combs
~candles with burned down wicks
~pens that are out of ink
~paper grocery bags
~food storage containers with missing lids
~old florist vases
~outdated business cards
~perfume you don't wear anymore
~broken small appliances
~old pots and pans
I hope this was helpful. Personally I like to do my organizing in the fall. Things are usually in pretty bad shape after spending months of mainly outdoor activities. It's also easier to drag things down to the curb on trash day without snow and sleet, or make a trip to the Goodwill center in good weather. But then again, by January, it's usually time to do it all over again!
I hope you are all staying safe and warm. What a way to start the year! :)