Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mid-week, mid-winter










We're back to it now, after the long holiday break. It's so January, though; it's chilly and a bit gray here lately, though not nearly as frigid as it is elsewhere, thankfully. The news keeps calling this current spell "the coldest weather in twenty years," and I remember the spell they're referencing. I was in high school then, living in New York, and it was a horrible winter. It seemed like we never went to school, which wasn't so bad from a kid's perspective. But as an adult, I realize that it must have been very stressful, not to mention expensive to heat a home through cold like that. I hope the current cold snap ends really soon.

I've been reveling in the return to routine. I really love to be busy. I enjoy time off, and I like to have a few loose, unstructured days now and then, but I don't do well with extended periods of it. The kids had just over two weeks off from school and the Bear had two weeks off from work (he works in a government facility which completely shuts down over the holiday period). It's very nice to have that time together and we always make good use of it, but the last few days always feel a bit strained: each of us is ready to get back to business. And so we each did, which is going well so far. Homeschool is back in session, after a lax approach over the break. I'm back in the car ferrying small people to their respective schools and lessons. It's what I do, and it's good to be settling back into the usual patterns.

This morning was my first alone time in three weeks. I had two and a half hours to myself. I spent most of it filling my car's gas tank, grocery shopping, putting groceries away and catching up on laundry. But it was quiet and I was alone and could think clearly, and it felt wonderful. I puttered in the kitchen, slicing up a fresh pineapple and making tuna salad for lunch. I turned on the radio and didn't care that it was tuned to a song by Creed. I could work, without stopping, and finish a task before moving onto a new one. I don't get this chance very often. I won't until both of my children are in school together in the fall, and even then the time will be brief because of our unusual school situation. But: it will be four mornings a week, for four hours at a time. I won't be able to get a lot done, but I can do something. I'd like to start attending a stitching group at the library, and also to start walking more regularly, for both physical exercise and a clearer head. I have to take care of me too.

To that end, I'm trying to eat better. Not dieting, that doesn't work for me and I don't care very much about weight anyway. I'm really trying to eat less sugar. I've been eating more fruit; I love fruit and I always enjoy it when I think to have some. I'm also trying to use less sugar in my coffee and tea; I swore off sugary sodas years ago but have continued dumping sugar in my tea every single morning and afternoon. I've been using half my normal amount lately and it's really fine. I should have done that sooner. I'm still enjoying treats from my Christmas stocking but I'm trying to eat them slowly, savoring and conserving them. Those biscuits above are sooo good. I would have loved them when I was a child because my maiden name begins with D. I would have been thrilled to eat cookies with my own initials on them. But these days, I'm attempting to be somewhat less thrilled by cookies. It's really for the best.

I'm enjoying simple domestic pleasures now that I'm back to the regularity of my days. We bought new pillows for our bed; they're just basic pillows from Costco, but what a difference! The previous ones were embarrassingly old and uncomfortable to sleep on. We each have two. I love the way a real cotton pillowcase feels next to my face so I put vintage pillowcases on the top pillows. I'm actually sleeping much better now. It was a simple adjustment to make. I've been reading books I got for Christmas and enjoyed the most recent issue of Sunset, which highlights the 25 best recipes they've ever published. It made me so proud to have the old Sunset Kitchen Cabinet Cook Book I shared here a few months ago. I feel like I have a real piece of culinary history there. I've been sewing a little too; I've got colorful patchwork in mind.

The weather isn't too bad, the patterns of our household have returned and I've got tacos planned for dinner. It's good around here.

55 comments:

  1. I love reading your posts Jennifer, I really always do feel so calm after reading your words, and it is no different today. I remember that cold weather 20 years ago too. I was living in Arkansas at the time and having to chip my way out of the apartment to my car with a hammer. We had no tools or shovels or anything and the ice storm had left a good couple of inches of ice on the ground. I had to use a hammer to break it up as I went and clear the ice aside with my hands. Crazy huh. I am soooo glad that we don't get ice storms like that in England. Looking foward to seeing your quilting as you get to work on it. I would love to make a quilt, perhaps one day.... Hope you are having a good week and enjoying your time to yourself - sounds as though you are! xx

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  2. Jennifer, what a lovely post. I love getting back into my routine. -It sounds like you have been enjoying your time at home. That's wonderful that you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake. I started, and it hasn't been that difficult. We haven't drank soda for years. -We can just do without it. And those biscuits look delicious.-Yum! (On our dinner menu tonight- it's also tacos) :) Have a wonderful rest of your week.

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  3. I'm trying to get back into the groove of being at home on my own for five or six hours each weekday, but I'm feeling a bit unsettled at the moment and can't get into anything. Not sure why - maybe the school holidays were more draining than I'd realised!

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  4. It sounds like you really enjoyed your morning and got lots done too. It's good to be back to our normal routines isn't it? I am enjoying that too. I love the photo with the stacks of pretty and colourful fabrics...I will look forward to seeing what you so with those.
    Marianne x

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  5. It is lovely to be in a routine, I always feel happy when the days are structured. How nice that there's a stitching group at your library. I looked for a knitting group near me, but there isn't one. I completely understand what you mean about sugar, it really doesn't agree with me. Sometimes I avoid it totally, and I always feel much better for it. When I start eating it again, I can feel a very strong negative effect. I don't really do diets either, I do cut out puddings and snacks from time to time, and I always feel much better when I am eating better. You are right, us mums must look after ourselves too, it's important. A lovely stack of fabric by the way, I shall wait to see what it turns into. CJ xx

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  6. I enjoy a break to begin with, then I can't wait for a simple routine. If I do not achieve something each day I feel like the days been wasted. Stupid I know.
    Rosezeeta.

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  7. It nice to be back in the normal swing of things, sugars one of the things I'm cutting out with the antinflammatory diet I'm trying, thanks for you're lovely comment on my last post, keep warm
    Clare xx

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  8. Enjoy Jennifer! The "D" cookies look so good. I'm cutting back on sugar too...it's so difficult but I feel so much better after a few days of less. :-)

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  9. Glad to hear it!
    Lovely photos♥
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  10. I enjoyed your post very much. I also thrive on routine and now I'm shaking mine up with some new volunteer responsibilities. I hope it was a good decision. I also started a new quilt yesterday. Not my favorite craft but it's for a beautiful friend of my faughter's and I love to make others happy.
    It IS cold this year. I had the "pleasure" of shoveling our walks and driveway three times yesterday and once this morning and as I glance out the window! oh goody! it's snowing again! :-)
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  11. What a lovely post about just getting grounded and resuming the routine of normal life after the festivities. I like your very grounded attitude to making changes to improve your bedtime and eating regime- very gentle and very caring and ultimately sustainable rather than the big resolution and inevitable downfall.

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  12. I'm glad you get to have your "me time" now and just think of all you'll have next year! I remember when I got the last of my 3 kids in all day school.. I was ecstatic for some time alone! Enjoy your weekend!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  13. That does sound good! I would have to agree with you on being busy and routine. It seems that healthy eating, routines, and house keeping come hand and hand! I too do not believe in diets. I just try to eat things that grow from the ground and move whenever I can. Your time to yourself sounded wonderful! I never get time to myself until everyone goes to sleep and then I stay up way too late because I enjoy the stillness and quiet time...trying to work on that one too! I would really like to read that Martha Stewart book and am tempted to order it tonight after seeing it on your blog! A very lovely week to you sweet lady!!! Nic xoxo

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  14. It is nice to be back in a routine again. I have the recent issue of Sunset, and I look forward to trying some new recipes. I just love that magazine! I recently washed our pillows, and I was amazed at the difference it made. We could really use some new pillowcases though. I like your idea of cutting back on sugar. I am doing the same. I did splurge at Whole Foods today and bought a double chocolate chip cookie filled with buttercream icing... so good! I love your post today! I feel much calmer and relaxed after reading. Thank you!

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  15. I too enjoyed the winter break with my family.No where we needed to go,extra lie ins pure bliss.i love a little solitude too,good for the soul x

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  16. Nice Jennifer and love the look of the biscuit, makes me hungry lol cutting back here
    needing to lose weight ☺

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  17. Hi Jennifer, Enjoy your "ME" time!!! Somtimes we don;t realise just how important that really is!!! Have a fab weekend!!!
    Love
    AMarie

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  18. Yes, I know what you mean about getting back to business!

    Those books look fantastic, would you recommend them?

    Helenxx

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  19. It looks like you are really making the most of your me time! Good for you! Have a lovely week. Julie x

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  20. Sounds like you are well launched into the new year, Jennifer :) I am grateful that we are having moderate, rainy weather down here in the valley and that I don't have to shovel the drifts of snow I did 20 years ago in NY!!! xx

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  21. I love the rythmn of your days, Jennifer. And I also love the green dotty fabric in your stash!! Thigs have got back to normal here too, thank goodness. I am a bit behind on my task list, due to an unscheduled gorgeous day on Monday. I spent my free time out in the garden digging and planting. Marc and I have finally acepted that we need a new matress. We bought ours when we first moved in together. That was nearly twenty years ago. The springs stick into my back at night,a nd it is lumpy and horrid. We are bracing ourself for the expense of it ;)
    Have a great rest of your week.

    Leanne xx

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  22. sounds like you've made a great start to the year. I love the pillow cases a splash of spring how lovely! x

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  23. I love all your fruity colours in your photos today, Jennifer! They're so cheery and refreshing, especially appreciated at this time of year, and for so many, freezing, grey days! Like you, I have been trying to cut down on my sugar intake, which is my weakness, not that I overdo it, (no sugar in tea, but 1 tsp in my coffee), but I do like my daily treat, whether it be a homemade apple cinnamon muffin in the morning, or a piece, (or two!), of chocolate in the late afternoon...to pick/lift me up, as the Italians say, and even named one of their most famous desserts this exact phrase, otherwise known as Tiramisu!

    Poppy

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  24. Εverything "smells" your home's warmth, cosiness and loveliness Jennifer.Thanks God you have a normal weather for the season, we saw the news on TV. We have 18 degrees here, I don't like it , I prefer ordinary wintry weather for January! Anyway, I wish you an exciting and happy New Year !

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  25. Little glimpses of your ordinary day ... your photos speak for themselves :) I like getting back to routine too, having everyone home for two weeks was a challenge. I go for walks every day, and feel snappish when I don't. This week the dog and I haven't been able to go walking because of the severe cold ... although it's warmed up from the -26C on Monday, we're still at -15C this morning. His little paws suffer first from salt on the sidewalks, and then the cold, and he'll sit on his haunches with paws in the air in a pathetic display of discomfort. But I do find that having a dog forces me out each day, giving me a purpose and some company along the way. I noticed your "Last Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts" ... I bought that book many years ago and just love it! I've made quite a few of the projects, and have had great success with each one.
    Wendy x

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  26. I'm glad you're well and warm and settling back into the normal routine. Your photos are sooo beautiful and evocative! I have two of the three books in your little pile, and that third one looks like a good one, so I might check it out on Amazon (the patchwork one!). Chrissie x

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  27. What a lovely inspiring post- Sometimes you just need a bit of structure to get into the swing of things. I love your pictures too- little images of brightness for midwinter:)

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  28. The pillow cover is so pretty, what a great find. :) That jam biscuit looks delicious. It's lucky for me I haven't cut out sugar just yet because that would be my undoing! ;) There was someone on TV this morning who had given up eating processed sugar and said it took 3 days for the cravings to stop. Maybe I'll do it once all this christmas food has gone, we bought far too much of it this year. Good luck with your healthy eating!
    Jess xx

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  29. Nice post, as usual. I really love reading you. Thanks for sharing!!

    Lluisa x

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  30. Lovely post Jennifer. Those cookies look like Jammie dodgers from England. Did you get them in the US? I ate way too much sugar over Christmas and am paying for it now. But I am back on track and have lost a couple of pounds this week. We normally don't use sugar and starting using Truvia a couple of years ago. Have you tried it? It doesn't leave an after taste like so many other sweeteners and it is a natural product. Give it a go if you haven't already. You won't notice the difference I promise. Stay warm, we are in a deep freeze her as well. Julie xx

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  31. Your pictures and your post brightened up what is, in the corner of BC where I live, a very dark and rainy day. Returning to a routine can feel so refreshing after a break, even if that break was much needed. My biggest dietary downfall is the honey I put in my tea. You are not alone. :-)

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  32. Lovely post Jennifer, as always and beautiful photos too. I enjoyed reading about your routine at home and the things you get up to. Are you homeschooling one of the bears whilst the other attends regular school? I've probably got that wrong (it's my age you know!) I'm also back to the watching what I eat regime and must get more exercise. Have a great weekend.
    Patricia x

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    1. Hi Patricia! My son goes to a school which is a combination of traditional school and homeschool. We do 50% of his schooling at home. My daughter is still in preschool part-time (3 mornings/week) but she'll be going to the same school with him in the fall. Then I'll be homeschooling both for about 15 hours a week and sending them off to school for about the same amount of time as well. :)

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  33. Have a you tried fructose in place of sugar... It's much sweeter so you need to put less in. It also makes good cakes. Jx

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  34. Everyone needs some nice alone time. I think it helps us feel balanced and more productive. Just time to pitter and putter around, without little ones interrupting. We love our babies, but alone time allows us to be better Mother's.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  35. Oh and I forgot, we are an agave family, much better for you and can be easily substituted for any recipe with honey in it.

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  36. Although it may be chilly and gray with you but visiting you doesn't feel like that! It look so cosy and colourful. Sarah x

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  37. Gorgeous photo of the flower stem in the mirror. I like the look of your fabrics and books - there's a lot of good stuff going on at your house! I don't take sugar in my tea or coffee but John does and when I accidentally sip his drink I nearly gag - I think tea tastes better without sugar. But I know that all tea drinkers (including myself) consider their preferred tea-making method to be the perfect one so what do I know! I really need to cut back on sugar but I can't concentrate on anything until I've eaten up all my Christmas chocolates. x

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  38. Hi Jennifer,

    It's been lovely to catch up with all your news, i'll hopefully be around more often from now on, but i just wanted to say hi and...Happy New Year!

    The pictures you shared of your festivities and your home, are amazing, they're soooo real! pretty and inspiring but real, not posed at all, i want to be able to take photos like you, to find the beauty in my life, thank you for sharing and inspiring me!

    Oh and i adore the dove ornaments, such an simple but gorgeous idea!

    Wishing you and your family happiness and good health for the coming year,

    Cate, x

    p.s. beautiful new profile picture, laughter is beauty!

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  39. We are back to our normal routine finally too. My oldest was out of school forever due to break and then weather :) I hate it when my routine is different!

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  40. Enjoy your time to yourself, It's calming for the mind and restful for the soul. I've been homeschooling for four years now and I can't remember the last time I had a few hours to myself. It's ok though because they won't always be here. They'll grow up, leave the nest, and then i'll have plenty of time to myself. But I'm afraid then I'll want them back home. :)

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  41. No alone time for 3-1/2 weeks...that's a long time! I remember those days from when my children were young; I really craved and needed that alone time, as much as I loved my children and my husband. It really does make you a better mommy. I eat very healthy, but my downfall too, is sugar. I am trying to do better with this new year, too. So far, so good. What kind of cookie is that beautiful little one that you pictured...is it homemade or did you buy it? We need new pillows, too. It's so hard "testing" out new ones in the store! I can't tell you how many times we've bought new pillows, thought we liked them in the store, got them home and laid down on our bed with the new pillow under our heads (keeping the plastic on) and then realizing we didn't like them after all - so we had to return them! Like you, cotton pillowcases are my favorite. Vintage is even better.

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  42. PS - I was just skimming through your comments and someone mentioned that maybe your cookie was a jammie dodger. I'd never heard of those so I googled it...looks like World Market carries this cookie. Hooray, I have a World Market near me! Will definitely have to try these. :-)

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    1. Yes, they're Jammy Dodgers and we bought them at World Market! My husband and I like to buy each other exotic foods for stocking stuffers. :)

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  43. Hi Jennifer, Happy New Year! I know what you mean about routine. After a couple of weeks, it is time to get back to business, but then I get frustrated with the lack of time. It's not often I get good quality time alone, just for myself. Walking is my meditative time, but weather here lately has been rainy and now fog the past two days. Our son is heading back to Colorado but his flight out early this morning was delayed by 2 hours because of weather. He just texted me about an hour ago that he made it to Frankfurt so that is good news. Your photos are really lovely! I plan to spend this day in my pajamas and hope to get some crochet or stitching done ... haven't had much time for either. I don't diet -- just make healthy choices. I'm vegan so fruits and vegetables are what I eat all the time. I used to always put milk and sugar in my coffee but now I just drink it black and usually drink green teas which don't require sugar at all. The only time I really ever use sugar is if I am baking or having oatmeal. Gotta have a little brown sugar in my oatmeal. :) Have a fabulous Friday! Tammy

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  44. I love having everyone at home for a couple of weeks, but I do like my routine. The noise gets to me after a while, I like peace and quiet during the day whereas there's tv, music, chattering, disagreements (arguing) when everyone's at home. I can stand it to a point and then I want my routine back. I love your fabric stack, I wonder what you're making with that.

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  45. What a nice relaxing post. Love how you put the photos together it lends so well to the feeling.
    I am so use to my home time routine , good thing I usually enjoy it too .

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  46. Wow, what stunning photos, as ever it is lovely to catch up on your life. I would like to thank you for commenting on my blog about my feelings over Christmas, as I have mentioned before it is your blog that has helped me to finally open up , so thank you. I only wish I could take photos like yours you have an amazing eye

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  47. Hi Jennifer, It's nice to get back to routine...it sure it! You sound like you have a busy one but I'm glad you got some alone time too. Though I enjoy my time with the family, I need those just me moments. I, too, will try to eat healthier just to feel healthier and happy. Hugs to you. Enjoy your day and the weekend.

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  48. oh such pretty colors!! I love these photos

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  49. Happy New Year Jennifer! What a lovely post. The holidays are so wonderful and I truly love and wait for them all year, but all that hustle and bustle can be quite tiring! It's nice to be settling back into our old routines! xo

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  50. Some really gorgeous images here and I think for many people with routine needs a long break over Christmas can become a little unsettling. I know that there was a little part of me that yearned for it, but I must add only a itsi bitsi one. Xoxo

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  51. This was such a nice post, Jennifer. Some of my very best days are spent "puttering," or as you said "domestic pleasures." I think sometimes we get caught up in "stuff" and miss out on the wonderfully simple things. You keep on enjoying life, and good luck with that sugar-thing.

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  52. The holidays are great, but it's always nice to get back to the familiar routine again. Good luck with the cutting-down on sugar. Many years ago now I gave up sugar in tea and coffee for the six weeks of Lent and by the time Easter came, I'd lost the taste for it altogether. In fact I can't bear sugar in either of them now. :-)

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