With a week-and-a-half of vacation behind us, we drove from southern Maine back to our home in New York State.  It was an eight or nine hour trip that stretched to eleven, thanks to a lack of distinct road signs.

Relieved to be home, we hobbled stiffly out of the car and onto the back porch, fumbling for the house key.

I glanced in the back door window to our kitchen, and then looked again.

“Oh, no.”

The trash can was overturned.  Strewn around it was an array of cat food tins, lids, and the remains of the trash bag, now ripped to shreds.  Some unidentifiable sort of internal cat waste (it turned out to be a hair ball) was visible among the wreckage.  As if on cue, Juniper sauntered up and sat down with great dignity next to the mess, staring at us placidly as we gawked and struggled to open the back door.

Once inside, we stepped gingerly over the trash as Juniper minced out on to the back porch, hardly giving us a second glance.  I headed for the bathroom, which is just off the kitchen, and was again brought up short.

The cat food bin was overturned and the lid was off.  There was cat kibble all across the bathroom floor.  I bent to right the bin and noticed pieces of dry egg noodle mixed in with the cat food.  I followed the trail of egg noodles to the pantry shelf where I keep dry and canned goods.  About a half-dozen cans and boxes had been knocked off the shelf.  The bag of egg noodles was ripped open neatly from top to bottom, spilling its contents over the shelf and onto the floor.

I called to Shaun and showed him the mess.  “I’m afraid to venture any further into the house!”

He assured me that the only other damage was that the cats had pulled down a curtain hanging on a tension rod and slept on it.  “It could have been a lot worse.”

“Oh, I know!” I said, and got to work cleaning up trash and cat kibble and egg noodles and hair ball while Shaun unloaded the car.

Juniper pointedly ignored me for the rest of the evening, making a show of preferring Shaun instead.  Only after I fed her that night did she come twine happily about my ankles.  I took this to mean that I was finally forgiven.

–Just as long as I never go on vacation ever again.


You Look So Young! Except not…

As I was getting out of my car at the post office today, two teenage boys drove by.  One leaned out the window and yelled to me, “Hi Mom!”

Clearly you skipped your optometry appointment, son.

I would almost think that this means my days of being mistaken for a fifteen-year-old are over–except last month, someone thought I was Shaun’s daughter.

There is just no escape from the awkward here.


The Log Book: May 2016

Latest Projects:
Keeping us fed and clothed.

What’s cooking?
I cooked from scratch THREE times this month.  I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss cooking….

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Three More Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
The Underdogs by Melissa Fay Greene

Other happenings:
-We bought a pick-up truck!  We’ve been limping along on one vehicle for almost five years, and getting a second was long overdue.  The new vehicle was supposed to be mine, but once we decided that we were getting a truck, it quickly, mysteriously, morphed into being Shaun’s vehicle.
-More visits from family and friends!
-We are excited to have a new niece!  She is adorable.
-On Memorial Day weekend, we traveled to Virginia for a family reunion.  It was a short trip, but fun.  Although I have to say, we both REALLY hate driving in PA.  Orange construction barrels must be their state flower.


The Log Book: March-April 2016

Latest projects:
Recently we took the other half of our duplex off the rental market.  We like having our yard and house and driveway all to ourselves. 🙂  And now we have a little more room to spread out–six more rooms, in fact.  My “studio” is in the process of being moved over to the kitchen on the other side of the house, and all seven bins of Army gear have been relocated.
-On the de-cluttering front, I got through all the books that are on our bookshelves, but the ones in storage will have to wait for another time.  Look out, paperwork.
-Spring cleaning.  I’ve already done two “pre” cleanings, but now it’s time to really get to work–moving furniture, washing ceilings and walls, swiffering the radiators (why does the using the word “swiffer” suddenly make it sound like this will be an easy job?).

What’s cooking?
My kitchen has been seriously neglected of late, except for my blender.  It has been working hard making delicious fruit smoothies every morning.

Mini-Farming:  Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham
Dream Home:  The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide to Finding and Fixing Your Perfect House by Jonathan and Drew Scott

Other happenings:
-In March, Shaun won two cook boards (which are a test of an Army cook’s knowledge). Although he was still jr. enlisted at the time, he competed at the NCO level.
-On April 1 (no joke!) Shaun promoted to SGT.  He worked hard for this promotion, and we are really proud.
-Spring must be here, because friends are asking to come visit me in the wild north again!


Deep in My Heart

Saturday, 20 June, 1942

“I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary.  It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I–nor for that matter anyone else–will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.  Still, what does that matter?  I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.”

~Anne Frank:  The Diary of a Young Girl


The Log Book: February 2016

Latest Projects:
-Still decluttering!  I’ve finished my clothes and have moved onto books–which is so PAINFUL.  For us, books are really more like “sentimental items.”  Actually, I just overall don’t like Marie Kondo’s approach to books (one of the consistent criticisms I’ve heard about her method).  Our bookshelves need tidiness and order, but I maintain: There is no such thing as too many books.  Only too few bookshelves.

The total now for boxes and bags of discarded stuff stands at 6.  A bit of a slow-down from the clothes.  We love our books.

What’s cooking?
-Gnocchi.  It’s so easy, and fun!  It tastes great in gnocci soup.  I used this recipe  without the sauce (from allrecipes.com).

-Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold  –this is a hard read, by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters.  But it is absolutely worth it.
Anchored by Kayla Aimee  –I love her blog and so finally picked up a copy of her book.

Other happenings:
-Shaun has taken interest in beekeeping, so we are both learning about that.  Bees are fascinating  creatures.  The more you learn, the more interesting they become.
Last year at this time, we were both sick, the house felt like it was falling apart, and I was tired to the bone.  I am thankful that this February was so different from last year.   Especially considering that it had an extra day, and all.  🙂


The Log Book: December 2015-January 2016


Happy New Year!  2015 went so quickly, but I’m on the fence as to whether I miss it or not.  It had a lot of good points, like our brothers getting married, and our trip to California.  But mostly when I think of 2015, I just feel really tired.

Latest Projects:
-The big project for December was (no surprise here) getting ready for Christmas.
-I read a blog post last Christmas in which the author made orange pomanders, and thought, “I need to do that next year.”  I highly recommend making them–my hands smelled wonderfully of citrus and cloves after handling them.
-My big project is to renew last year’s New Year’s resolution to get organized.  We are off to a better start this year.

What’s cooking?
Cream of broccoli soup. 
This is a staple for Christmas dinner for Shaun’s family.
This year, we actually planned and executed a real feast for Santa Lucia.  My brother and his wife came over to celebrate with us.  Our Swedish-inspired (because we are not so sure about pickled fish) menu:
-Swedish meatballs and pasta
-Smoked salmon (in honor of St. Herman of Alaska, who is also celebrated on Dec. 13)
-Fingerling potatoes with dill
-Bread with cream cheese (for the salmon)
-Linden berry jam
-Baby dill pickles
We basically ate off the leftovers until we went on vacation.  Awesome.

-Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon, which reminded me pleasantly of the Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett.
-Everywhere Present by Stephen Freeman
-The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, which has given my resolution to “get organized” some much-needed direction.
The Canada Geese Quilt by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

Other happenings:
-We celebrated St. Nicholas Day and Santa Lucia.  Each year I fall more and more in love with these holidays.  It’s fun to have something to celebrate leading up to Christmas, that’s not Christmas.
-We made a grand and very nearly foolhardy trip to visit THREE states between Christmas and New Year’s: Massachusetts, Maine, and Ohio.  I did a lot of praying and checking the weather reports in December.
-As you can see from my reading list, I have finally jumped on the “Kondo-ing” bandwagon.  There’s been a lot said about her books and method, but overall I am finding them helpful.  The true test, I suppose, is the fate of the all the “Kondo-ed” spaces in the long-term–can we actually stay tidy, once the excitement wears off?  Only time will tell.  On the other hand, I have only just finished clothes (and some other paraphernalia along the way), and have already donated or trashed four bags of stuff.  I actually like looking in my closet now.


The Log Book: November 2015

Latest projects:
-I am finally getting back to my New Year’s resolution to “get organized.”  Which still means sorting paperwork.  How can two people generate so much paperwork?  Answer: the Army.

What’s cooking?
Somehow, this month has not been a successful cooking month.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking.  It’s just that most things haven’t come out very well.  The new recipes I’ve tried have almost all flopped.
This month’s favorites:
I did make a few things successfully!
-Chicken and rice dinner, from Betty Crocker (1986 edition).  A great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey.
-Cranberry sauce.  Delicious with the above, and on pancakes.

One Second After by William R. Forstchen
St. Elizabeth the New Martyr
Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God by John Maximovich

I’m looking forward to:
-St. Nicholas day
-Santa Lucia

Other happenings:
Another dear friend from college visited me this month!  Our “spare room” is getting a lot of use. 🙂

Shaun was on the Thanksgiving team at his DFAC again this year.  His team had to decorate according to the theme of the movie Frozen.  For his project, Shaun constructed a gingerbread castle based on the Arendelle castle where Anna and Elsa grew up.

The castle took about a week total to build and decorate, and Shaun had the additional challenge of being sent to the field for a few days right in the middle of making it.  I helped in the final two days with decoration and construction.  It was really fun to work on a creative project together.