Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring back

Hello! It's been a little while since I blogged, and I've been missing this space. It seemed like my feet never touched the ground for the past couple of weeks, what with another mild illness through the house, lots of school and work commitments, and a general sense of exhaustion and irritation leading up to our first school break since Christmastime. The weeks just seemed to drag on and on; gosh, it was really starting to feel stressful. But we're officially on Spring Break as of today, and so far, I've spent most of the day doing virtually nothing, which has been fantastic. I did sort some pajamas and other clothes for the children, as I'm in the process of changing their drawers over to warm-weather clothes. I also emptied the dishwasher, and straightened up my desk and my yarn bins in the office closet. But that's it - today is my day off. I only have to drive somebody somewhere once today, and it isn't until late afternoon. The weather is beautiful today and the small Bears have been outside since they finished breakfast. I'm reading and crocheting, mostly. Sometimes, mild lassitude is the only right answer.

Are you ready for Easter and/or Passover? I think I am. I've acquired the basket candy, and I have the other small trinkets ready. I know what I'll be cooking, but haven't bought any food yet; I'll do that toward the end of next week. We may have some guests for Easter dinner, unusual for us. I've invited my friend and her daughter, who is friends with the GB, to join us. I'm always happy to have extra people over for holiday meals. The coming week will see us mostly relaxing at home and getting the yard finished up for spring and summer. There are some sprinkler-system repairs to do, and plenty of pruning and raking. We've worked all winter on various things, but it's never done. I'm looking forward to spending time outside and taking walks and going to the park.

I'm enjoying spring-ish cooking lately. I made a really good frittata recently, a variation on my standard recipe involving a little meat, a little cheese, and whatever veggies are on hand. This one had some leftover salmon we'd smoked ourselves, with some onion, chopped dill, and little dollops of cream cheese. It was delicious! I make a lot of frittatas, especially in warmer weather. We have been getting about two eggs a day from the hens for the last few weeks, so I'm always looking for ways to use eggs in our meals. When I make a frittata, I use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. I brush the bottom and sides with a little olive oil. I saute the vegetables, whatever they are, in about a tablespoon of butter in the skillet, add the (pre-cooked) meat, then I pour in six lightly beaten eggs, letting the eggs cook a little on the stove top, until the edges are set. Then I put the skillet in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the center of the frittata is set and the top is lightly browned. I don't like to use the broiler for frittatas; my broiler is hard to control and the frittata will burn on top before it's cooked through. So I experimented with oven-baking and this is what works for me. I use all different combinations of ingredients. Frittatas are good hot or cold, and are especially nice with some boiled baby potatoes and a green salad.

We also made granola recently. I was looking for a low-sugar, low-fat recipe and came across Nutty Granola by Ellie Krieger, which turned out so nicely. I have made a few of her recipes before and always liked them. I've mostly made things I've seen on her Create TV show, Ellie's Real Good Food; her Forbidden Rice Bowls have been a particular hit around here. I like her recipes because they're healthy without being boring, and she uses very basic, easy-to-find ingredients (on the Create show, you can tell a lot of them come from Trader Joe's, which is one of my two main places to buy groceries, so usually easy-peasy for me to get whatever she's using). The granola was so nice; there's just a small amount of maple syrup for sweetening and structure, so it's really nice on yogurt or as cereal with milk and fruit. And the recipe was so simple - the small Bears did most of it themselves.

I've been feeling very self-conscious about my eyebrows lately. Surely, you've noticed the trend toward heavy eyebrows over the past few years. I haven't thought about my eyebrows much since I was about fifteen years old, when I started tweezing them in the style of the time. That style is way over now, though, so for the past year, I've been letting my eyebrows grow in. It's so hard to resist the temptation to pluck them after what, almost 25 years of it! It's been almost as hard as when I resolved to quit biting my nails. I don't think I'll ever have the luxuriant eyebrows of today's fashionable people, though; they were never naturally thick to begin with, and I'm sure all the years of plucking hasn't helped. I did buy an eyebrow brush, which makes a huge difference. I'm so not interested in using makeup on them. I'll just keep resisting the tweezers and using my brush. I never dreamed I would spend so much time thinking about my eyebrows, noticing other people's eyebrows, watching videos about eyebrows. I'm actually really sick of eyebrows.

My hexagon crocheting continues. I've made - and joined - about half of the hexes I want for this blanket. I think I may put it on our bed when we start using our lighter-weight quilt soon. I'm sad to report that Maybelle has seen very little use, but I'm actually less disappointed about that than I thought I would be by the end of this winter. When I finished Maybelle in November, I expected to use it on the bed with our new comforter, which is very thick and warm (honestly a bit too warm on many nights during the mild winter we just had). Maybelle was more than we needed, warmth-wise, and also a bit difficult to use because it's so large. Maybe it would be better used as a family blanket; three of us can sit under it with room to spare. If the hex blanket turns out nicely, I might make that the bed blanket instead. Or I'll move them around as needed. Really, it's hard to go wrong. I still love Maybelle, and have a lot of good associations with it from the eight months I spend crocheting it, but it may not be right for its intended purpose after all. It's totally okay, though, because we'll always have a home for a big blanket.

I probably should start thinking about lunch for me and the outdoorspeople, so I'll let you go. I hope you have a great weekend, and hopefully good weather to enjoy where you are. I know how tired of snow you must be in some parts of the country, and maybe elsewhere too. May the sun shine and springtime weather take over very soon.

Friday, March 9, 2018

That Friday Feeling

Do you have it? I hope you do. We had a good week, especially now that the major school projects are all behind us. Only two more weeks until spring break - we really need it. Easter is just around the corner, which is exciting. I love Easter. After Easter is over, there will be about eight more weeks of school and all of a sudden, it will be summer. In the meantime, there's lots of new growth outdoors and the weather has been lovely this week. Everything is starting to bloom. I only took a few photos this week, but you can see it - there are buds on the olive tree, the plum blossoms are slowly but surely opening, and the bulb plants are getting going too.

Things I'm doing right now, in early March:

Listening: to the GB learn to play "Sunshine of Your Love" on the guitar

Wearing: a black floral blouse, jeans, pink tennis shoes (because I have to go out later)

Cooking: Nigella's Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta for dinner tonight

Watching: Girls Incarcerated and Ugly Delicious, both on Netflix, and Taxi, on DVD

Reading: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, which I know sounds really heavy and in no way uplifting, but it's very interesting. The Bear is currently listening to the audiobook during his commute; I don't have as much time for audiobooks, so I'm reading along and we're having a book group. Well, a book...pair

Making: six-round granny hexagons for a new blanket; I've just taught myself how to make a half-hexagon! That much closer to my crochet merit badge...

Smelling: my beautiful hyacinth; onion bits in the trash that need to go

Buying: short-sleeved t-shirts for my children; coloring-book greeting cards; face wash

Needing: to save more egg cartons now that the hens are in crazy laying mode

Wondering: if I can get away with the old Easter basket grass for one more year

Hope you have a great weekend! Enjoy whatever you're doing.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hyacinths and hexagons

I am so glad I bought this potted hyacinth last week. I went in for daffodils but they didn't have any, so I went over to see what I could buy, and the potted bulbs looked great so I grabbed a hyacinth. I could tell it was going to be purple from the dark tone of the buds. The purple ones are my favorite, though I like the pink ones too. Within a couple of days, the first flowers were open and they've been blooming steadily since.

I'm keeping them on the kitchen table, where they're getting good sunlight for the first half of the day. I'd like to try planting the bulbs outside when they're finished blooming, but I'm still reading up on that. For now, I'm just so happy to have them in the kitchen. They smell wonderful! Yesterday, I was sitting in the family room, about fifteen feet away from them. We had the sliding doors off the kitchen open for fresh air because it was beautiful outside. The breeze was just right to send the hyacinths' scent into the family room. I was reading a book and when the scent first hit me, I stopped and looked up, just trying to get more. I felt like Toucan Sam.

The hexagons I recently began to crochet are coming along nicely. I'm really enjoying this! They work up quickly and they're easy to join. I'm making about three at a time before joining them row by row. I'm only on my second row, but you know what I mean. I often make every single motif in a blanket before joining them, but this time around I wanted a change of pace. It's fun to watch the blanket take shape this way. I did Big Gulp this way too, at least some of the time, and I liked it.

Maybe I'll finally get to the bottom of my stash. Well, that's probably a bit too optimistic. I think I will probably have enough for at least another throw-sized blanket when all is said and done.

It's so nice to have a project in my basket again. I plan to crochet this afternoon. I also have a loose plan for baking, maybe cookies. We haven't had cookies since Christmas. I've been falling down on my baking. But the Bear said he wanted to bring something to work this week for a meeting and I'm always happy to oblige when someone asks me to bake something. I have a new bag of library books too. Oh, it's hard to decide how to spend your time when you're a lady of leisure! Tee hee.

Surprise! There is precisely one open plum blossom as of this morning. It was unexpected because last night and today have been cold and windy. But it was lovely and warm all weekend, so the trees are responding. There are a few other buds close to blooming. I also have a grape hyacinth blooming in the planter at the base of my mailbox. I'm whispering...spring is just about here in my part of the world.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

All happening

Greetings on the last day of February. This month felt fairly quick to me, in spite of the fact that we had a full week of illness in there. We also had some deliciously wintry weather and fewer of the very warm, sunny days than we've had in Februaries past, which is exactly how I want it. Here at home, the illness has moved on and everyone is feeling better. Still sniffling and coughing, of course, but that can go on for weeks, so I'm not worried about it. Nope, February was pretty good and now March is forecast to enter in lamb-like fashion, so it's all good. I like March, especially when Easter is relatively early. I bought Easter-egg dyes yesterday. I bought some Easter stickers too - pretty, sparkly eggs. I'll use them for the homeschool/chore charts after we pass St. Patrick's Day and finish up the shamrocks.

I've been stitching and crocheting these past couple of weeks, since I started being stuck in the house more with sickies. I finished the Vintage Red Coffeepot I'd been working on and have moved on to the Little Vintage Teapot (both designs are from Stitchrovia on Etsy). I really like these designs; they're very straightforward, just cross-stitches without special tricks like half-crosses or backstitch outlining. Just simple blocks of color with a little bit of pretty detailing, like a small floral design on each one. Sometimes I want to do intricate stitching on high-count linen, I like that very much too, but this kind of stitching always feels therapeutic to me. The design takes shape quickly and progress feels real. I'm always happy for an hour or so of stitching in my chair with the sun behind me.

In crochet news, I'm making granny hexagons. I'd made some hexes here and there over the past couple of years while trying to decide on a motif for the blanket which eventually became Maybelle. I'm still stashbusting with worsted acrylic yarn, having amassed a huge supply that I can no longer comfortably store in our office/craft room. I got interested in hexes again recently, and I went back to a pattern I'd tried at least a year ago, which I came across on a blog called Novamade. I've long loved the look of Nova's blanket with large, multi-colored hexes edged in white. For a while there, I was feeling a shift away from multi-colored crochet, finding it a bit too busy and fussy, but lately I've been drawn to it again. I have lots of cream-colored yarn and can put it to good use in a blanket like this. It turns out that I really like making hexes - like really, really. They're fun! And portable. Joining them is fun too. I did some looking around for a JAYG method but didn't feel satisfied with what I found, so I improvised my own. I'm not saying I invented it, but I found something that seems to work for me. I've made about eight hexes so far. I don't know what I'll do with this blanket - if I actually end up making something that can be termed a blanket - but for now, it's a really nice way to fit some crochet into my days.

This morning, I bought a potted hyacinth! So excited about this. I went to Trader Joe's for groceries, hoping to find bunches of tulips, or at least daffodils, but they had neither. They did have potted bulbs, though, and the hyacinths called out to me. I haven't had a hyacinth in a few years; I love them but I always forget about them when they're in season, or I go for the instant gratification of flashy tulips already in bloom. It isn't always like me, but I'm glad I chose something I need to be patient for this time. Hyacinths are totally worth the wait.

Outside, my few tough old tulips are starting to poke up, along with some daffodil and grape hyacinth shoots. I don't always get flowers from any of this, but I'm ever hopeful. The plum and apple trees are starting to bud. We should have plum blossom, at least, but the end of the month, if not sooner. I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics yesterday to return an online yarn order that looked way better online; while I waited for my turn at the counter, there was a conversation between all of us customers about flowering trees and their current progress. There were about six of us, men and women, thirties to maybe seventies, I'd guess. It was like an old-time chat in the general store. Everyone had something to say and all were polite and cheerful. I learned a couple of things. I loved it. I wish it happened to me every day. I felt so good about people.

Today, I have bean soup in the crockpot, to which I will be adding the last of my Christmas ham from the freezer. I have to make room for the Easter ham leftovers. We have the LB's guitar lesson and the GB's ballet class this afternoon. When we get home, I'll make a salad to eat with the soup. I finished all the laundry and washed the kids' outer shells from their winter coats; it's warm enough to wear just the fleece liners now (we'll put the shells back on if we have to, of course). They seem so sprightly and free when they stop wearing their bulky winter coats.

I've started making hold requests for my summer library books; some of the most popular titles have hundreds of holds on the already, so there's a good chance I won't have my turn until June or July. What are you reading lately? I'd love to check the library for copies, so let me know what you're liking to read right now.

What's going on where you are? I hope the end of the week is good to you. Here, we have Private Friday to look forward to (probably errand-filled, but there should at least be time for lunch), and a return to the GB's Saturday guitar lesson, which she missed while she was sick. I'm planning to make Cobb salads for our at-home dinner date on Saturday night. I bought avocados today, to make sure they're ripe in time. The weather is supposed to be very nice, so maybe we'll have a long walk. We could do yard work, and I'm sure we will, but we'll definitely play too.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Slowcooker shredded chicken + easy enchiladas

Hello! Thanks for your sweet comments on my last post. I've been wanting to get back here all week, but the Dreaded Crud has hit my house and I've been too busy taking care of ill children to be able to blog. Everyone will be fine, but the illness drags on and on. I'm hoping that a nice, calm weekend at home will get everybody back to robust health. I'm feeling fine, by the way, and doing everything in my power to stay healthy. I had a whole list of things I'd been wanting to accomplish this week and I did exactly none of them, but there's always next week. Hopefully, everyone will be well by then and life can resume as usual. As I've said before, I don't think illness in the house is all bad. You are forced to slow down, stay home, and tend to the basic things. I'd never wish for anyone to be sick, but in a way, the break from life at normal speed is almost welcome. This morning, I'm watching snow fall outside and enjoying a marathon viewing of Animal Airport on Netflix.

I've read some fantastic blog posts lately, dealing with meal-planning and cooking. I think I'll write a similar post soon, when I have a little more time to sit and think, but I wanted to share a couple of cooking tips/recipes today. I've been finding myself feeling sort of bored with a lot of my cooking lately, and have been looking for new, interesting ways to do things. One thing I've been doing fairly often is to cook chicken breasts in my crockpot that I can shred for use in other recipes. Do you ever do this? It's a really convenient way to have cooked chicken on hand, for use in salads, sandwiches, casseroles, and more. There are many ways to make crockpot shredded chicken, but here is the way I've been doing it; I'm aiming for chicken that has a versatile seasoning so that it can be used in a variety of different types of cooking.

Crockpot Shredded Chicken
2 lbs. uncooked chicken breasts
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper

I always coat my crockpot liner with cooking spray before I put any food in, to help keep it from sticking. I place the chicken in the pot, then pour in the liquid around it. You can use water or chicken broth. I tend to use water, because I rarely have ready-to-use broth on hand (I usually use bouillon cubes in soups), but if you were to use broth, you might wish to adjust the added salt. Then I sprinkle the spices evenly over the meat. I know it seems like you're just boiling chicken here, which I admit doesn't seem appetizing, but it works well and gives you very tender meat - trust me.

Crockpots can vary a lot in cooking time and temperature needs, but in my old-school, manual, dual-setting Rival crockpot, I cook this chicken on LOW for 2-3 hours. You may have to experiment with your own crockpot. You can also do what I do, and use a thermometer to know when the chicken is ready. Chicken is safely cooked at 165 degrees. When my chicken is fully cooked, I remove it from the crockpot and place it on a cutting board to cool a bit until I can handle it. At this point, I turn off the crockpot, reserving the liquid inside for later.

Have you ever shredded meat before? Some people like to use two forks to pull the meat into shreds. You can even get a special tool that looks like a giant comb for this purpose. I just use my hands for this chicken. I put the chicken in a bowl that has a lid, and use a ladle to pour some of the cooking liquid over the meat, to keep it moist. Then I cover it and pop it in the fridge until I need it. This chicken will stay fresh for several days in the fridge. I take some as needed for my lunch, to put on a salad, or mix with mayo for a chicken salad sandwich, or I use the whole recipe for one family meal. One thing I love to make with shredded chicken is an enchilada recipe I found in one of my Betty Crocker calendars a few years ago, which I've adapted a bit to our own tastes.

Chipotle Adobo Enchiladas (adapted from Betty Crocker)

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
20 ounces canned enchilada sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tbsp. taco seasoning mix
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
6 flour tortillas
Sour cream

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

In an 8-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, cook additional 1-2 minutes.

Transfer onion-garlic mixture to a medium bowl. Add chicken and taco mix, stir until well-combined.

In small food processor, process chipotle chile and enchilada sauce until smooth. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce into baking dish, and spread in even layer. Add 1 cup of the enchilada sauce to the chicken mixture along with 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until well combined.

Place slightly less than 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture along middle of each tortilla. Roll up, and place seam sides down in baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce, followed by remaining cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is hot and cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

This recipe is very flexible. When I first started making it, I followed it as written. The recipe uses much less enchilada sauce. I don't know about you, but I need a lot of sauce in my enchiladas - both to soak into the tortillas as they bake, and to have extra for serving. So I use two 10-ounce cans of green chile enchilada sauce, which is the type we prefer. The enchilada sauce and chipotles in adobo can be quite spicy, so I stick to mild taco seasoning to keep the enchiladas from being so hot some family members can't eat it. With this combination, it's just hot enough.

If you aren't familiar with chipotles in adobo, they're a really wonderful ingredient that gives a smoky, spicy flavor to any dish. A chipotle is a kind of roasted, smoked pepper, and adobo is a sauce that it's sort of stewed in. You can buy them chopped or whole. I prefer to buy them whole because they're a bit easier to work with that way. When I open a can of chipotles, I use what I need for a recipe (usually just one pepper plus a bit of sauce), then I freeze the rest of the peppers in an ice cube tray, added a bit of sauce into each compartment. When everything is frozen solid, I remove the chipotle cubes from the tray and wrap each one tightly with Saran Wrap. Then I put all the wrapped cubes into a Ziploc freezer bag and store them with my frozen vegetables in the freezer. This same bag also usually contains frozen cubes of green or red chile sauce (we make our own supplies of both types). It's great for cooking, especially with something like chipotles, since I pretty much never need very much at one time.

I make the sauce mixture in my blender, because my small food chopper isn't large enough for the additional sauce quantity I like to use. It only takes a few seconds to whizz up the sauce with the chipotle and blend them well. I leave the chipotle a little chunky; it looks pretty and gives you a little bite here and there. I also like to use my blender for this step because the blender jar has a pour spout on it, which makes it easier to control as I measure the sauce for each step of the recipe.

Shredded chicken is hard to stir. When I combine it with the onions/garlic, taco mix, sauce and cheese, I find it much easier if I use tongs and sort of toss it around the bowl to mix everything up.

I like to use larger (8 to 10-inch) flour tortillas for this, to make it a more substantial meal, but you could use any kind or size you like. I'm sure corn tortillas would work here, and smaller ones as well, but you'd have to fill them accordingly. With my larger tortillas, I have to shingle them a bit to fit them into the pan.

We love this meal so much. It's a little more labor-intensive than most things I make, so I tend to save it for a weekend. I usually cook the chicken the day before I plan to make this recipe, so that I don't have to do it all in one day, but you could do it all if you cooked the chicken in the morning. OR, you could use leftover roasted chicken, or even meat pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. You can do whatever works for you; adjust the sauce quantity, the spiciness, or the cheese type or amount, along with the tortillas. You could even mix up your own spices instead of using the taco mix. It's a nice recipe for planned leftovers too; we usually get a family dinner and lunch the next day from this recipe, or a couple of days of work lunches for the Bear instead. You could even freeze the whole pan and reheat them on a different day. I love having recipes like this in my plan, and it's even better with easy-to-make, recipe-ready chicken.

Friday, February 16, 2018

February flowers

Hello! It's Friday night and I'm relaxing in front of the TV with the Bear. We had a good day today. It was Private Friday and we opted to stay home most of the morning, before going to the library and lunch. He had work to do this morning and I was happy to sit on the couch and read. The weather wasn't very nice - we had our best storm of the winter from Wednesday to Thursday, with lingering cold and dampness today - and it was good to stay inside and relax. At the library, I picked up my hold book, a new biography of my girl Stevie Nicks. Then we went to a bakery/sandwich shop and ate paninis. We picked up the small Bears at school and came home for more relaxation. I made fish and chips (frozen Gorton's fillets and french fries). The children recently went to bed and now we're watching This Old House. Soon, I'll make our customary Friday night stove popcorn, and we'll be watching The Grand Tour - not my favorite, but I do like to support other people's interests from time to time.

Thank you for the nice things you said about my budding Elise Shawl. I'm still plugging away. I'm only just starting to find it a bit easier lately, but it's still slow going. That's okay, I'm not in any hurry. Making it has inspired me to try crocheting other garments for myself eventually. I'd like to make some shrug-type sweaters to wear with dresses and sleeveless tops. I have a few patterns in mind, but I'm not really sure where to begin with yarn. I'd like to use something nicer than my usual budget-priced acrylic yarns, which I love for blankets, and preferably a natural fiber. But my budget isn't going to grow much, so I have to really look. If you have a suggestion for a nice, affordable yarn I might try, please share. I'm very open to ideas.

Speaking of low-priced yarn, I did buy some Vanna's Choice worsted acrylic this week, to add to my blanket stash. I realized that even though I'm on a stash-busting mission, I was missing a few colors that I needed to tie the others together. I like Vanna's Choice well enough. I prefer I Love This Yarn, but last time I went to Hobby Lobby, their stock was very low in the kinds of colors I like. I didn't want to keep running back there, and I have trouble justifying an online order when HL is, like, five minutes from my house, so I bought the Vanna's instead. Whatever it takes to get this stash down, right? I knew you'd agree.

Have you been watching the Olympics? We try to watch a little every night. I greatly prefer the winter games over the summer ones. I've been watching figure-skating, as I always do, and thinking about the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding scandal of 1994. I was a teenager, watching every night with my whole family around a small TV set. I remember being pretty defensive of Tonya, which kind of appalls me now, but I thought she was cool, I guess. It was all we talked about - me, my sisters, our friends. We ate it up; we had a horrendous winter (in New York, where I grew up) that year, with something like 23 school days cancelled for snow. We needed something to do. Everyone took a side. At the time, my favorite TV show was COPS; I think I've always been attracted to people acting their worst. The Nancy-Tonya scandal combined such exciting elements - violence, glittery costumes, sneering women, fabulous athleticism - it was better than COPS, even. I haven't seen the new movie about Tonya, but I did watch the ESPN documentary a few years ago. I hope they're both doing okay now. I feel a little badly for contributing to the drama by being such an avid consumer back then, but it was the thing to do in that long, miserable winter. I'm glad to see better sportsmanship this time; adult-me prefers kindness and friendly competition over the cutthroat ugliness cheered on by kid-me.

I think winter has finally come to my neck of the woods, after months of warm, dry weather. This week's storm brought about three-quarters of an inch of rain to my backyard, with snow at higher elevation up the mountain. I've enjoyed having cold, damp weather for a change. There may be more coming in the early part of next week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Meanwhile, spring is starting to happen outside too; there are tiny green shoots coming up in my backyard planter beds, and the winter jasmine is in full, golden bloom in the front yard. We cleared out the backyard beds and pruned everything in the front yard over the past few weekends, so we should be ready for the new spring growth.

This week, I was given a beautiful vase of yellow tulips for Valentine's Day. They're the kind that have the bulb attached at the bottom of the vase, in a couple of inches of water. I'm so excited about these tulips. You're supposed to be able to plant the bulbs for future blooms. I've had terrible luck with bulbs here (squirrels dig them up and eat most of them), but I'm willing to try again. I love tulips so much. I do have one small yellow one that comes up every year in the backyard bed. I can see it from the kitchen sliding doors, tiny and bright.

This weekend, we'll be taking it easy at home, puttering and hanging out. We've had a few sniffles and we're tired from a hard few weeks of endless school projects and work commitments. We won't really have a break from school until the end of March, unfortunately, but I know we're all counting down. In the meantime, we're relaxing as we can and enjoying the stay-home weather we're getting at the moment. I'm going to finish my little red coffeepot cross-stitching and start the teapot. I have plenty of crochet and lots of new library books. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
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