Posts tagged winter
winter weekends

You know that song "everybody's working for the weekend?" Since having my little guy, that tacky 80s lyric rings so true. I just cannot get enough time with my family. There is something so beautiful about a lazy, casual few days home with my people. They reinvigorate me and remind me of what all of my hard work during the week is for. This past weekend was lovely. We napped, did some Christmas errands, danced like maniacs around the house, cooked, snuggled, played, and strolled around a holiday market. It was full but easy.

December is truly my favorite time of year (despite the ungodly traffic). David's birthday is soon, then Christmas, my birthday, and the new year. Cold weather brings us closer and parties bring out the cheer. It would be nice to slow down my favorite month just a bit though.

Tonight I am going to take a stab at some homemade holiday cookies and then it's time to get serious about knitting and a little fitness. Yes, I am one of those resolution types but I always like to start mine before the new year. Somehow it makes me feel like I am more committed to change.

What is your favorite part of this time of year?

 

my time as a SAHM courtsey of 1,000 snow days
We have had 1,000 snow days here in Boston. This is not an exaggeration...well maybe a little. Boston and the surrounding area has just been hit hard by Mother Nature this winter season. One winter blockbuster storm after another pummels the area and leaves us all cozied up in our homes and covered in a white blanket of snow (this blanket is now VERY thick). Most Bostonians are at the end of their patience with Winter 2015 and begging for the Spring thaw to begin. And when it comes to how the winter has impacted my life at work, I am in this camp. It is hard lesson planning for classes that do not meet, reworking curriculum over and over again to fit into the ever shortening schedules, and reaching out to students remotely. This dilemma is just par for the winter course though and we are tackling it as best we can up here in New England. At the same time though, I am loving these snow days.

They feel like an extension of my much too short maternity leave. Henry was born in July which meant that my maternity leave was also my scheduled summer break from school. I had a terribly short 8 weeks home with my newborn and 8 weeks to heal and get myself back in order to face full days at work. It was SO hard. I cried every day and felt aches and pains but had to just deal because that was all I got with a summer baby. These snow days have given me more time to love and cuddle my son full time and I have to selfishly thank Mother Nature for this. It has been an incredible blessing in my home to be able to squeeze in more time with my family, more cuddles with Henry, and more bonding overall. Gosh the bonding alone has filled me with so much revitalized energy. I feel like I really understand Henry's routine and needs and not just what he is like in the evenings and on weekends when I try to read signs and cues. Being a working mom or a SAHM comes with a multitude of pros and cons. Parents on both sides of this issue could fill pages upon pages with their joys and their challenges. But, right now with these extra 6 days home with my son and husband I feel completely renewed, relaxed, and happy. All year has felt like a sprint from one class to the next to lesson planning to grading to trying to fit in quality time with family and friends to never having any time for myself. I wish I had been able to have a longer maternity leave but I am thankful to have gotten these snow days.

paella & pregnant winters

The Winter is a beautiful season in New England. Snow covers the trees, streets, and yards of every home, while people huddle with loved ones and friends to stay warm. The sun shines brightly most days with clear blue skies, but the temperatures remind you that winter prefers for you to stay indoors or to layer yourself.  I like to pretend sometimes that I live in the North Pole when the banks of snow are higher than my thighs. How rugged are we? I say as I take Buster and Bella out back to carve a path. This winter has been particularly snowy.  Snuggling indoors with David, we cook solely belly-warming meals like paella. Yet, this winter has turned me a bit against it. Part of me has started to ache for warmer temperatures and springtime rains. Perhaps being pregnant contributes to this a bit. Snowy streets are treacherous for me now. I worry a lot about falling down and what that could mean for the little one. Thankfully (knock on wood) I have avoided this seasonal hazard so far. This morning though, I was in a panic as I tried to climb the hill to my school and found myself sliding backward more than moving forward. While I definitely don't want to "wish" winter away, I am getting ready for the Spring thaw to come our way. Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 8.45.08 AM

 

fresh bruschetta

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 7.13.53 AM On snow days, I am all about comfort food. Give me macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, or a hot minestrone soup. My belly demands the warm comfort of rich, savory foods. This last storm though was a little different. While David shoveled us out of almost twelve inches of snow, I diced up some tomatoes tossed them with some oil and vinegar and toasted a baguette.  Dinner was light, cool, crisp, and clean and the bruschetta was just delicious (even if it wasn't my usual macaroni and cheese)! I  burnt my finger a little while toasting the bread because I was over-zealous is my desire to eat this up immediately, so be careful when you flip the toasts.

Ingredients:

2 cartons of red cherry tomatoes

2 cartons of yellow cherry tomatoes

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

garlic

basil

salt

pepper

red pepper flakes

baguette

In a frying pan, toast 5-6 cloves of garlic in olive oil until they are golden brown. Transfer the garlic and oil to a medium size bowl.  Slice the tomatoes in half length-wise and add them to the bowl. Bunch basil together on a cutting board and slice into thin strips, add these as well to the bowl. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and red pepper flakes into the mix. Toss in about 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Mix everything together and taste.  Add whatever you feel you want more of.  Set aside to let the bruschetta juices mix together and become amazing. Then slice the baguette. In the same frying pan that you browned the garlic, add a tablespoon of butter and place the slices of baguette into the frying pan to toast. Flip the toasts after 1-2 minutes to brown both sides (add more butter if necessary so as not to burn the toast). Transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy!!

soy-braised short ribs with sugar snap peas

I love three day weekends!  It would be amazing to have one every weekend. Three days is just enough time to fully recharge one's battery, check off items from the to-do list, and, for teachers, have time to grade without having to compromise on time with a loved one.  I had such a good weekend of all of this. And, of course the time spent with friends and David was the best. How did we tie together this delightful winter treat?  By cooking up a delicious crockpot dinner by Real Simple. Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 7.05.36 PM

detour: niagara falls

It has been quite an excellent ten day holiday hiatus. On December 21, David, Buster, Bella, and I piled into the car and drove West to Ohio for a week long holiday with my parents. Our time there could best be summed up by the words: quiet, relaxing, cozy, and calm. We lounged in our pjs for long hours, walked in the neighborhood for exercise and ate until our bellies were too full. The time both ticked by slowly and flew. Before we knew it, we had to say goodbye to my parents, which is always hard. I wish our family lived closer or I wish we could teleport, either would do. On our way back to Boston, we took a little detour. For the past four years we have driven to and from Ohio for the holidays and always pass the exit for Niagara Falls. Each trip we say, "Let's go see that some time." But, we inevitability never do. On the way to Ohio, we are always too excited to get there.  On the way home, always too tired to stop. Finally, this time, we decided to take the detour and see the falls.

We drove no more than thirty minutes out of our way and found ourselves in the parking lot for the falls. We were giddy for our little adventure. It was cold and icy in Niagara as we carefully made our way to the falls. You could hear the roar of the water from a distance and Canadian and American flags flew side by side as we made our approach. The falls and the surrounding grounds must be beautiful in the Spring and Summer, but I really enjoyed the  crispness and grayness of Winter. We were not alone. A few other tourists braved the icy air to view the falls. The power of the water was palpable from where we stood. The mist brushed our faces and we held close for warmth. I imagined men in barrels taking the plunge over top and wondered what the water and the drop off felt like. It was a short detour, but I am glad we took it. It was definitely a fun way to end our holiday.

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eric's chicken noodle soup

On Saturday afternoon, we invited our college friends over for a turkey dinner potluck. It was so much fun. Of course, I loved being with everyone and sharing a meal around the table together as a family. And, the food was quite delicious as well. We prepared the turkey, stuffing, and gravy and each friend brought a family favorite along for a side or for dessert. The house was warm with Thanksgiving aromas. It was a decadent meal and there were a few of us who wished we could curl up on the couch in our stretchy pants. As was inevitable, David and I were left with so many leftovers. We were a little perplexed with how to handle all of the remaining turkey. I have never been very good at re-purposing leftovers. Thankfully, Eric, Laura's husband, shared his delicious chicken noodle soup recipe which we substituted with our turkey meat. Coming home from work tonight, this meal was easy to whip together and so delicious. We are both excited to eat these leftovers again tomorrow night. And, to be honest I see this becoming a staple in our home. Thanks Eric!!

Ingredients:

Roast chicken or turkey leftovers (we used 2 legs, a little breast meat and 2 wings from the turkey)

2 carrots

2 celery sticks

chicken stock (enough for 6-8 cups)

rice noodles

onion

garlic

olive oil

red pepper flakes

tarragon

marjoram

basil

salt and pepper

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 7.33.39 PMStart by heating olive oil in a pot. Saute chopped onion and 4 diced garlic cloves until translucent.

IMG_5197Add in the turkey or chicken leftovers. Cook together with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until meat is warmed through and browns a little on the edges.

IMG_5199Add in the chopped carrots, celery and the spices: 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute together and cook 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5200Pour in the chicken stock. I added about 8 cups of the broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Finally, add in the rice noodles and cover the soup again for 5-8 minutes to cook the noodles. Serve and truly enjoy!

IMG_5202

 

beef stew crock pot

It has been hard to type, to focus, and to do much of anything this past week really. We woke up yet again one morning to find that the heat in our home had gone out.  Temperatures were dropping outside and now this was replicated indoors. What should have been a quick fix turned into a week long problem.  Frigid to the bone, we dusted off our crock pot to whip up some hearty belly warming meals. One of our favorites is beef stew.  It just screams cozy "winter" cuisine and always hits the spot on a cold evening. Each batch makes so much that we are typically able to eat lunches and dinners from this one pot meal all week long. Thankfully, the heat is back on for good now.  The furnace as decided not to be finicky and to remain consistently on which is good since Boston is heading into what feels like mini-ice age. But, heat or not heat, this beef stew is a recipe that we will repeat again and again until the Spring thaw hits our town in April.

Beef Stew in a Crock Pot Recipe

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thursday moment

Can you guess which image in the exhibit is from our snow experience?

No explanation. Just a moment captured.

students

The wind has been howling outside my window since yesterday evening. Sleeping was challenging as I was awoken by the ceaseless bellowing. The disturbed sleep reminded me that a potential snow day might await in the morning if the wind was any indication of the intensity of the snow outside. At 3AM, I crept to the window, pulled the shades open, and evaluated the snow. Thick snowflakes fell in whiteout conditions. I noted the inevitability of the snow day to come and snuggled back down between the sheets for a few more hours until confirmation would arrive. The alarm sounded 5:45AM, and I bounded to my phone but no alert for a snow day!  I bemoaned the plight of shoveling the 7 inches of fallen snow and the long drive to school. Nerves gathered in the pit of my stomach as I considered my driving skills, my corolla's maneuverability, and my personal inability to be "that teacher" that calls out on an "un-snow" day. Disappointedly, I headed into the shower and asked David to keep me posted, "Don't hesitate to disturb my shower should news come in." "Of course," David said as he sent in his own "I will be working from home e-mail" to work. Just as I wrapped up in my towel, David came in with a grin on his face, "You are home, babe!"  The utter delight left me ecstatic.  Not only could I avoid driving the treacherous roads, not only did we get a snow day, but our two week Spring Break starts now!  Oh, the irony of Spring Break starting with a snowstorm!  Of course, though on this day when I am enjoying my unexpected day off, I am also reminded of how amazing my students are. Within minutes of school being called off, I received the following e-mails that warmed my soul and made my really miss school today:

"Good morning Mrs. X this is my presentation I will not be attending school today thank you."

"Since we don't have school do you still want us to share our presentations with you? Do you want us to record ourselves and send it to you?"

"Since we have a snow day today, I thought that I should just share my prezi with you so that you have it. Hope that you have a nice vacation!"

It will be two weeks until I see these curious, thoughtful, hard-working young men and women.  While I will absolutely enjoy the time to myself and this time in whichScreen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.47.22 AM I am not "Mrs. X" but just Melissa, not seeing them, not working with them, not observing their talents, answering their questions, watching their presentations, or facilitating their discussions will leave an emptiness to my day. I will miss the kiddos in the next 14 days plus 1 from this snow day!

students

The wind has been howling outside my window since yesterday evening. Sleeping was challenging as I was awoken by the ceaseless bellowing. The disturbed sleep reminded me that a potential snow day might await in the morning if the wind was any indication of the intensity of the snow outside. At 3AM, I crept to the window, pulled the shades open, and evaluated the snow. Thick snowflakes fell in whiteout conditions. I noted the inevitability of the snow day to come and snuggled back down between the sheets for a few more hours until confirmation would arrive. The alarm sounded 5:45AM, and I bounded to my phone but no alert for a snow day!  I bemoaned the plight of shoveling the 7 inches of fallen snow and the long drive to school. Nerves gathered in the pit of my stomach as I considered my driving skills, my corolla's maneuverability, and my personal inability to be "that teacher" that calls out on an "un-snow" day. Disappointedly, I headed into the shower and asked David to keep me posted, "Don't hesitate to disturb my shower should news come in." "Of course," David said as he sent in his own "I will be working from home e-mail" to work. Just as I wrapped up in my towel, David came in with a grin on his face, "You are home, babe!"  The utter delight left me ecstatic.  Not only could I avoid driving the treacherous roads, not only did we get a snow day, but our two week Spring Break starts now!  Oh, the irony of Spring Break starting with a snowstorm!  Of course, though on this day when I am enjoying my unexpected day off, I am also reminded of how amazing my students are. Within minutes of school being called off, I received the following e-mails that warmed my soul and made my really miss school today:

"Good morning Mrs. X this is my presentation I will not be attending school today thank you."

"Since we don't have school do you still want us to share our presentations with you? Do you want us to record ourselves and send it to you?"

"Since we have a snow day today, I thought that I should just share my prezi with you so that you have it. Hope that you have a nice vacation!"

It will be two weeks until I see these curious, thoughtful, hard-working young men and women.  While I will absolutely enjoy the time to myself and this time in whichScreen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.47.22 AM I am not "Mrs. X" but just Melissa, not seeing them, not working with them, not observing their talents, answering their questions, watching their presentations, or facilitating their discussions will leave an emptiness to my day. I will miss the kiddos in the next 14 days plus 1 from this snow day!