Monday, January 25, 2016


I couldn't help naming this post "Flashback".  I really wanted to call it Flash Forward, but that REALLY wouldn't have made sense.  Now most people wouldn't be surprised by that either, but that is ok.  I will stay, for the moment, making sense.  I have been watching- and indeed finished watching- BReaking BAd last night.  A LOT of the last season revolved around trying to figure out what was going on because they showed you some Flash forwards.... come to think of it, there were several flashbacks, too, so I guess this does make sense after all.

AAAANYWAY, yesterday - by day of the week- was one year since I had my unfortunate fall on the road.  Today is the actual date, but it felt more familiar yesterday, a Sunday. The set up was similar, as it was the day before what is essentially the first day of the semester.  Different from last year, I wouldn't have been NEARLY as ready for that all to happen as last year.

I am not feeling at all sentimental about that day today.  I have no desire to post a what-I-have-learned sort of post, mostly I am noting it's passing.  I learned a lot about life and myself in this past year.  I know I have the most fantastic group of friends and family!  There are so many people that gave me support in so many ways, including a couple far-flung, but close, friends who attempted to help me keep my sanity and for the most part succeeded.  HAHA.  Seriously, though, even if I was in some serious denial, I had their words in my ear nudging me gently towards the enlightenment.  And man, I did not want to hear it.  Good thing they were persistent.

I was delighted to spend my afternoon with my friend the Mad-Science teacher, snow shoeing behind her house!!  It was really nice to hike around somewhere different.  And she has some killer hills back there- which was interesting to conquer.  We had a  nice walk, and she got to try out her new shoes.  When I got home, the elusive Mike was here and he had just gone for a snowmobile ride- and so I asked him to finish off a mile plus route around the field and back field, which he kindly did.  So I spent a little more time outside doing that as well.

The rest of the afternoon I spent reading and after the MA got  back in the house watched some football, and when the Broncos managed to win- watched the rest of the BB 5th season.  We did get to FaceTime with Jon and Sarah and Ella and saw a little bit of miss Ava.  Who was out like a light!  Lol.  I am thinking Ella is feeling the effects of a new baby sister juuuuuuust a little.  Both Ella and I will be excited for Friday to get here and Gramma Debi to arrive.

I have a bunch of photos to edit yet, I took some on Saturday when we were seeing some sun.  It was a very exciting day- lol- it doesn't take much to make me happy here.  I am glad I was out in it for a few hours Saturday, as the sun isn't going to be showing up for a long time now.  Saturday also found us visiting with Greg and Sarah and the kids.....  it is so amazing that they live near us.  I still find it a little other-worldly.  I'll take it!!

2016, you are doing really well so far!  Good job, carry on!  And don't forget to include some generous amounts of joy!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Baking and cooking and yummies for/from the bees

The weather has decided to become decidedly winter-in-Wisconsin-like this weekend, and I did manage to get outside for a while- that will be forthcoming.  Anyway, after spending an outrageous amount at the grocery store- I fired up the stove and the oven for the afternoon.  Really people, all I wanted to do was binge-watch Breaking Bad, but I opted to wait until evening to do that so I could manage to get something else done.  Because if I had less will-power than I do, I'd have finished that show sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, my dear friend Jane had given me a little bowl of a yummy roasted carrot soup and the recipe to go with it, so that was what precipitated the whole cooking frenzy of the afternoon.  I was going to be roasting veggies anyway, so I decided to make a veggie soup as well.  

roasted carrots 

sauteed celery and onion

Finished, blended soup
Roasted  Butter Carrot Soup
Basically roast 2 lb of carrots that are peeled, cut up into chunks and tossed in 4 tablespoons of melted butter in a flat pan.  375-400 for about 25 min.

In a large pan saute 1/2 cup celery and 1/4 cup onion in oil until translucent.  Add in 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Toss in the carrots, add 4 cups veggie broth and cook until everything is soft.  Blend with an immersion blender and then add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 tsp. dill.  Simmer for another 10 min, serve with a little swirl of honey.  It is so much better the next day!!

I discovered that roasting the vegetables is really the key to a good tasting soup.  And I totally made up the recipe as I went, so I will recount it the best that I can. And seriously- put some sweet potato in this if you have it- it really adds so much goodness.

Root vegetables roasting along side the baking pie

Finished soup without the added vegetarian meatballs that I added later
Roasted Vegetable Soup, with greens and other good stuff in it

In large pan roast assorted veggies that are cut up to the same size- I used carrots, onion, parsnips, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.  I roasted them in oil with salt and pepper until they are partially caramelized.  I also wrapped up a few garlic cloves in foil and threw them in with the veg.

In large stock pot, saute some celery and mushrooms- of course all of this depends on what you have, or how much you bought at the grocery store..... then put in the roasted veggies, 4 cups of broth, a can of diced tomatoes,  a small can of tomato sauce,  a can of northern white beans- rinsed and drained, a tsp of basil, seasoned salt....  squeeze the garlic out of their skins, too.  Then when it has cooked a bit, I put in a half bag of a baby kale mix..... This was so tasty!!  I realized that I had a bag of vegetarian meatballs that I threw in after the photos were taken.  Good idea!!  I finish this off with a sprinkle of  parmesan.....  

As long as the oven was on, I made the MA a peach and blueberry pie.  So that was yummy!  It is a great idea to get those peaches and blueberries in July.  :)  

Meanwhile, because I apparently have no other life, I cooked up some sugar water into sugar candy for bees.  It is incredible how much sugar can dissolve into a mere 2 cups of water.  5 lbs is 10 cups! It is really easy to do this for the little dudes, so when the weather warms up again, they will be getting what is basically a giant sucker.

Boil this stuff until it gets up to 250* on the candy thermometer

Finished candy in their molds
2 cups of water
5 lb of sugar (10 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Stir sugar and lemon juice  into simmering water in large pan, stirring constantly until all the sugar crystals are gone.  If they do not disappear, add a little water at a time in until they dissolve.  Turn up heat so it will boil and attach candy thermometer.  Boil until it reaches 250.  Pour sugar water into greased paper plates. let firm up before you unmold and feed to bees. :)  Actually if you do this, be sure it cools a bit so it doesn't hurt the bees. 

 I've had another thing buzzing around in my head (hehehe) and that is making some creamed honey.  I love creamed honey, it is really yummy and well..... creamy.  It turns out it is just crystallized honey with really small crystals.  Most recipes tell you to use creamed honey that you buy as "seed", but apparently you can also grind your own in the food processor or blender.  This I did today, not Saturday, but it goes well with this post!  :)
Putting the crystallized honey into the food processor

crystallized honey
whirl the honey in the food processor until pieces are small

Add a few tablespoons of the creamed honey to a jar of liquid
So this is a fairly simple process.  Use the food processor to break the crystals down to a very fine particle.  Stir a couple tablespoons into a jar of regular honey and let it sit for a week or so while the honey crystallized to the size of the "seed" crystals that you mixed into the liquid honey....   I will be interested to see how this goes!

Anyway, I have discovered it is difficult to quickly pound out a blog post when one is watching Breaking Bad, and I snickered more than once when I wrote the word cooked.  Lol.
Tomorrow is Monday and I am thrilled that I will have a nice lunch for the next several days.  And in a week I should have some honey that won't leak out of my peanut butter and honey bagel that I eat for breakfast every day at school.  Ahhh it is the little things, right?  They bring us so much joy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

5 am

5 am- Wake up

5:03- Make coffee - stand and stare at coffee maker in a stupor

5:05 pour coffee

5:06 drink first sip

5:07 finish first cup

Oh my I am tired this morning-

5:07:30 remember that I have new grand child- pictures to come

Relive some of the Breaking Bad binge that I had last night.  I am seriously hooked on this show.  So glad I don't have to wait for "next season".  Thank you Netflix.

5:15 Get another cup of coffee and remind self to use the biggest cup in the house tomorrow.

I am so so sleepy today.  There is really no GOOD reason why, I slept reasonably ok- but there is this getting back into the gym and spending time on the cardio machines, thanks to the cold weather.....  ugh.  I need to hire someone to either stand next to me and talk or hop on the next machine so the time goes faster.  Even the podcasts I listen to don't distract me from the fact that I want to leap out of my skin while doing that mindless stuff.  I would much rather be outside.  But winter....

6:00 decide I will leave my 3rd cup to later when I get to school, but the coffee maker is speaking to me- make it stop.

So yes, I have a new baby grandgirl.  I will write more about it later.  She is still so new!  Put plans are being made to go see this new little wonder!  She was named partially after ME!  :D  I can't tell you how touching that is.

I have been spacing out in front of the laptop and the TV and I realize that I need to still dry my hair and make my lunch, so

6:21 post blog and get dressed for work!

Make this a joyful day everyone!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunny Saturday

It was a gorgeous day yesterday!  The SUN was out! It was spectacular and I am sort of disappointed to say, such is not the case today.  I see little snowflakes floating down out there, so once again- grey is the color of the day.  Oh well.

I have a lot of stuff I want to do today: first and foremost removing signs of Christmas from the house.  For now.  I would have had it done by now, but a certain sicko has been firmly entrenched in my livingroom for the last 3 days.

Now I am sure that it was no fun for him, either, but I couldn't walk through the room without that pathetic voice wanting something.  Oh brother.  So, regardless, I am cleaning up today.  I am hoping he and the Barber can go hang out in the cabin this afternoon!

 I also plan to spend 20 minutes relearning lesson 1 of Italiano and going for a walk!  Sun or no sun, I need to get back at it.  I'll just go on the road today, get some miles.  I probably should wear my Yaktrax, but we shall see.  I know it is going to take a while to do the Christmas stuff so I need to prioritize.  1a. Take down Christmas  1b. Go for a walk 2. Italiano 3. eat lunch..... good plan so far.

I have to go back to school tomorrow, and that is good and not....   I do have to sit down and look at my google docs for work and see what the heck I am doing with everyone this week.  Believe it or not, there is only 3 weeks left to the semester.  YIKES!!  This affects my elementary not one bit, but wow does it affect my HS plans.  It seems like ages since I have been at school....

This virus has been obnoxious- I feel like I lost 2 weeks of my life.  And the coughing lingers and it is such a pain.  I hope none of  you get this.  I am not sure what the heck it was, not a cold really.  Oh well, at least I did not pass it on to any of the grandchildren.  Speaking of which - only a little over a week to Grandkiddo #4!!  Woo HOO.  I can't wait to get down there and hang out with them a few days later this month.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the sun photos.  I am enjoying putting them on here, as it is the only way I will see any blue sky until later in the week.  Oh well.

I hope you all enjoy your Sunday and find a little joy!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Year in review - 2015: the year of contradictions

I generally don't do reviews, but this year was an odd one.  I had some of my very best times and some of my worst.  The nice thing about the worst is that I was so firmly in denial that I didn't really understand that it was a worst.  Which is where I do live my life- firmly in a fantasy world in my head and I am probably way more happy than the average person. hehe

Anyway, I think a photo essay might be in order.  Shocking I know.

It was another long winter, guys.  Not as long as the previous one, but still.  But when you live in Wisconsin, you really can't complain, or at least not until sometime in April, then feel free.

So as most of you know,  winter was not kind to me in January.

In fact, January of 2015 was downright rude.  After recovering from that stupid Lymes in 2014, I was on the road to kick assery again, but NOOOOO.  There would be no Book Across the Bay for me.  Booooooooo

This was my sad state of affairs in January....  coffee through a straw.  THAT was just obnoxious.  BOOOOOOO again.  I did learn a lot about patience and taking it easy (sort of) and many other things.  REALLY learned about the amazing friends and family members I have, so many little surprises that warmed my little ole heart.

But without the broken things, I may never have gotten to the places that I went to that winter.  I had lots of amazing people dragging me all over the place and I would LOVE to publicly thank the Mad-English teacher for taking me on the ice road!!  Even though I think I drove part of the way that day.... not on the Ice Road, but otherwise.  

AND here I am clinging to things again.  SO SO hard.  However, I was clambering about on that blue ice without regard to safety or elbows, so I definitely have a short memory or a small amount of self-respect.  :)

And I got lots of company during my recuperative time, too.  My lovely SEESTER Rose came and took care of me and then I got a visit from Ella and her parents.

Turns out 2015 was quite a year for watery adventures.  And the M E T and I did a lot of exploring.  And it frequently involved waterfalls.

Lost Creek Falls

Houghton Falls with ice

Potato River Falls

A few people know how terrified I was sitting here "so close" to the edge.  Don't judge me!

Houghton Falls, no ice- but 33 degree water..... you don't want to know why I know that
St. Peter's Dome

Photography also drove virtually all of my adventures.  There are some things that get recorded yearly and the trilliums on Lakeshore Drive are one of those subjects.

Lola and daffodils will always be part of my spring photos
And so I made the momentous decision to purchase a kayak this spring.  I insisted that I get myself on a body of water before a storm hit!  I am ornery like that!  AND YAY for my first paddle.

I believe this was during my first official paddle of more than around the boat landing.
So I will get back to the kayak, but there are other more traditional things that happened when school was out a few weeks later.....  The Madeline has taken us on so many may adventures up in Bayfield.  Madeline Island is where the three of us should be living full time.

Meanwhile, back in my yard, I ended up with some gorgeous flowers, and here are my peonies that finally have begun to come into their own.  

My BIG adventure this year was going on an airplane and seeing the mountains for the first time.  It was epic and I am so happy that I shared it with my good friend Adam!  The memories from this are priceless.




Ok, back to kayaking:

July was a wonderful  month, when our Milwaukee kiddos moved to Park Falls for heavens sakes!  I have grandchildren in the neighborhood!!

July and August were very busy with all sorts of fun. This is why my summer went nice and slow.  I shoved as much into it as i could.  I did what I wanted and needed. This is the thing I learned from breaking my elbows- the big over-all sweeping thing- enjoy the hell out of yourself in the moment!!!

The Butternut Lake eagle!
Always the best day with my bff!

Lake Superior adventures with Adam!!

Swamp grass adventures!
The requisite footsies on the kayak in Lake Superior shot!
Sometimes I hopped on my bike too!

But then back into the boat- REALLY EARLY in the am

Finding animals and such.... (I need to save up for my new long lens, stat)

Hanging with my seester and Emily!

And then one fine September weekend, we became the proud grandparents of another amazing little girl!  And we had this little cutie with us for 4 days!

We have one super thriving hive of bees out there this year!!  So excited that they might live through the winter.

Fall had lots of walks and pictures once the kayak was stashed for the winter.....  the winter that has barely shown up to play.  In fact, I am pretty positive that the Book Across the Bay won't happen again this year for me, but not by any of my doing.

One of my favorite pictures of the year- favorite tree.

There have been lots of get togethers since Greg and Sarah now live up here.  Definitely one of my favorite things that happened this year.

I seriously almost lost this boy earlier this winter.  Luck was on my side for now.

Soon, very soon, I will have another granddaughter.....  But that is for 2016 to reveal!

Winter is showing signs of showing up, but 2015 ended with a little sigh instead of a roar.  Which is actually ok with most of us up here in the north.

So as I move into a new year, I am so grateful for what I experienced.  Every time I go through a hard time, I come out so much wiser and happier.  I regret NOTHING from my year, it was one of the most painful, exciting, happy, amazing times of my life.  I have learned so much, lol and have done things that I could barely have imagined at the beginning of 2015.  wow. Thank you to all the people who I have talked with, whined to, shared my joy with and had adventures with and through.  It has been quite a ride! xo