... after taking a year off.
We got a good dose of snow in December, and now are winding up a bitter cold snap. Not a bit like last winter. I enjoyed the warm temperatures and lack of snow in 2011-2012, but somehow it didn't seem right. If it's not cold and snowy and dark and generally miserable, it's just not winter in Vermont.
My husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary in December. Here's my fifth anniversary gift, still going strong, and about 10 times its original size:
That tiny little watercolor on the wall was a wedding gift; it's the facade of the restaurant where we met.
Since I last checked in (two months ago!), there was this thing:
Christmas. We had another crazy over-the-top Christmas, the kind that my husband lives for. I didn't get any time off during the week other than Christmas Day, so I was kind of grouchy overall. But in spite of that it was a good time, and we had a prime rib and shrimp dinner at my sister-in-law's, so I can't complain.
The best part is that we got our daughter settled in her new room, just two days before Christmas. The renovation had started in July but then stalled until November (did I mention that my husband has been working seven days a week pretty much all year?), at which point we decided to turn two very small bedrooms into one very large one. I don't have the finished pictures, but I do have the initial push. There's what's left of the wall between the two rooms:
It soon became one room:
The room was 10 x 23 at this point, so we made the far end into a walk-in closet, a nice change from the no-closet 10x11 room the girl had had before:
Yeah, my husband can do magic things like take a door out of one wall and move it to another, just like that.
The room now has fancy stuff like (a) more than one electrical outlet, (b) new windows and (c) heat, all things that it lacked before.The color is actually a nice soft grayish pink, not the bubblegum it appears:
Here's the closest I have to a finished picture. Squint and picture a light gray floor and a black/white/fuchsia color scheme, including our daughter's dream, a zebra print accent wall:
I'll update with the real "after" photos soon. It's a 13-year-old's dream room, and for a 13yo who had to sleep on the couch for a month, it's practically heaven.
The other excitement the week before Christmas was that my stove died. I cried two times that week when the pressure of renovations and a fried stove and impending holiday parties and such just wore me out. The bad news is that we had to buy a brand new stove five days before a very expensive Christmas and only had two hours to do it, or else no one would have been able to hook up the propane.
The good news is that there is only one place to buy appliances within an hour of our house and they had a very limited selection -- including a Kenmore Elite that someone had ordered and then decided against. So, despite the bad timing, I ended up with this:
I've been spinning. This fall, I decided I needed a handspun gray sweater. So I gathered up bits of whatever fiber I had on hand:
It's mostly Vermont fiber: white Romney, gray Romney, rabbit angora on the front right, some long-ago carded wool blends and black alpaca, as well as a bit of silk, fake angora, bamboo, pygora and probably some other stuff. Very, very soft, overall. Since then it's been transformed:
Three skeins done so far. I'm trying to spin at least 15 minutes a day so I don't end up abandoning the project for half a year, like I did with my last sweater. But our daughter is doing both gymnastics and basketball this year -- her last year with this option, since it's doable in middle school -- so many of our evenings are spent in gymnasiums and between the two sports. Six days a week. She's loving it. We're a bit pooped.
Let's see, I bottled five gallons of cider I brewed. Here's me overfilling a bottle trying to get a picture at the same time:
It's a hodgepodge of bottles but the cider is good. It looks cloudy because I had just added a bit of corn sugar (for carbonation), but that settled out fairly quickly. It's stronger than beer, about 6.4 percent alcohol, and many of the bottles are 20-22 ounces, so we have to be careful. But it's tasty and refreshing!
If there is anyone who is still reading after all this, bless you. I did update my writing website with three new columns -- finally. Check out "From 2012" at www.jessiewrites.com.
And finally, there's been a lot of attrition on the farm this year. First, the pigs and meat chickens, as planned. But then we lost our goat Trooper to a horrible goat disease. She couldn't breathe and we had to have her put down. That was a huge drag, although in the two weeks that we treated her for pneumonia I got really good at giving shots. Sigh. Then over Thanksgiving while we were away, our one sheep, Sophie, died of unknown causes (probably obesity related!). And last, we had to have our favorite steer, Sam, butchered. We have two adorable new calves and he was being really mean to them with his horns. He will go in the freezer but it's very bittersweet.
So, RIP to three of our favorite creatures. This farm life thing can really hurt sometimes.