Wednesday, February 24, 2010

R and R

"True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment."
~William Penn

My little one sleeps soundly. She snuggles into a warm, clean afghan, where she gently snores and occasionally whimpers. Her sweetness delights me. Her cuddle factor is contagious.

Rest well tonight, my friends. Apparently, another snow storm lingers on the horizon.


Fall on me.
Blanket the earth
With your beautiful grace.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hat Collection

"Women wearing hats are at once sophisticated and whimsical. Their faces are younger and softer. They carry themselves differently. Their voices flutter a bit...even when they are talking about things like money and power and work, even when it's clear they're very much in charge of their lives."
~ From "O" Magazine

I am in love with knitting hats.

Have a most snuggly, warm day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Going Green

"As long as you're green, you're growing. As soon as you're ripe, you start to rot."
~ Ray Kroc

We've had more than our fair share of snow. Actually, the National Weather Service recently declared that Somerset County may have broken the snowfall record set in the long ago, prehistoric days. I assume we can safely say we're under about 55 inches of fluffy, white precipitation.

I'm probably one of the few who's totally un-bothered by the snow. In fact, I find it calming and relaxing. Then again, school gets canceled and I can stay home and create things. It's quite wonderful- really. You certainly won't find me complaining.

I spent the day with my mama, who conveniently, lives right around the corner. We had ourselves a lovely little day, full of baking cookies, knitting, sitting by the fire and planting grass. Yes, that's correct-- planting grass!

We do this every year, so don't go thinking that we needed a change from the white fluff that covers the windows or that we're trying to undo the Groundhog's curse. Na- we just enjoy these fancy-shmancy pots of greenery.

In about three weeks we'll have ourselves some beautiful, lush, green grass, while the rest of the town shall gaze upon icy roadways and brown, slushy lawns.

How's that for thinkin' ahead?

It's Still...

"The weather outside is frightful,
but the fire is so delightful."
~ Sammy Cahn


I happen to love it.

No work.
Warm, cozy drinks.
Cute snowman marshmallows.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Scent-Sational Treat

"It is going to be a really cozy, warm, home atmosphere."
~T. Anderson

My mom always comes up with the most nifty ideas. Today, while visiting with her, we stood at the kitchen counter peeling clementines and drinking coffee- really, really good coffee.

We probably peeled about 4 little orange treats when she suddenly scooped the rinds out of the sink and threw them in a saucepan with water. As she flitted around the kitchen, she added a little of this and a smidgen of that. Before I knew it, the entire house sported a delicate citrus and cinnamon fragrance.

Needless to say, after I arrived home, I committed the ultimate crime-- I copied her. Err! What I'd give to come up with these things on my own. I can't stand a copycat, especially the sneaky copycat, and now, look at me. I'm a complete hypocrite!

In an attempt to rectify my copying ways, I'll share the recipe with you. (wink, wink) All better, right?

I present, Jossie's Stove Top Bliss
In a small saucepan, combine a the rinds of a few
clementines and a cup or so of water.
Sprinkle in bunch of cinnamon and nutmeg
Add a few cloves ( I prefer a hearty amount)

Now, go grab that book, cuddle with your puppy and indulge in a night of relaxation. Trust me, you'll never want to buy an expensive scented candle again.

The Little Tree Grows On

"We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery."
~H.G. Wells

You've met this little guy before. Today, however, I stopped and visited with my little sapling. He's been going strong for quite some time now, and watching him grow and change has a certain element of excitement to it. I know...I know, the littlest things intrigue me...

I remember when he first came to me. He was but a small sapling, with his helicopter still attached. Then, he shed the seed casing and started to grow strong and healthy and green.

Chad-o and I once discussed if this Maple Tree would end up changing colors in the fall. We had no clue, and tossed around ideas such as the un-natural warm, indoor temperature and the debate about nature vs. nurture. We decided to see what would happen.

Autumn came and went, but the leaves remained unchanged. However, recently, Mr. Maple started to boast some new, flashy foliage.

I have no answer as to the sudden color change. I will, however, hypothesize that the cold outdoor temperatures have been severe enough to permeate the glass window. Notice the 5 feet of snow outside, in the background? A bit much, isn't it?

No worries, I'll keep ya'll posted on the new and eventful happenings of my little maple dude--as they become avaliable, of course. (wink)


"Life itself is the proper binge."
~Julia Child

Thank you, sweet friend, for making me this delicious and healthy vegetarian treat. I continue to enjoy every bite. mmm...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Work, Play, Heal

"There must be more to life than having everything."
~Maurice Sendak

Little Peep isn't quite herself today. It seems like a puppy virus has set up shop in her cute, tiny body. Her list of priorities include: snuggling with mama, being on mama's lap, having mama hold her and pretty much being glued to mama's side.

When I hold her, she whimpers and nuzzles her head under my chin. It really makes me feel loved and important, ya know?

After 30 minutes of couch time with her, I concluded that the laundry needed tackled. It's always nice when I can cross it off the weekend chore list. Charlie, however, just wanted to be held. I felt badly, but soon realized that maybe it was just the warmth she was after.

As I ironed our clothes, she would climb on the ultra-toasty attire and snooze away. It was the most precious site-- really. Talk about melting my heart...

Ironically enough, I'm not feeling quite up to snuff, either. Some little pains in my throat and neck, but I'm battling back with tea, work and mind-over-matter. Nope- no medicine for this girl.

I'm super excited about the start of the winter Olympics tonight. I can't wait to perch on the couch and watch all the athletes as they enter the stadium. Their talent and dedication inspire me. But (ugh), I'd feel guilty laying around if the laundry waited. So alas, I hopped to it.

Hopefully, Little Peep and I are back to 100% tomorrow.
We certainly worked and healed today.
Laundry-- check. New dishes washed and put away-- check.
Ironing-- check. Gym workout-- check.

Up next, we'll be playing; playing with yarn and knitting a snookie.
Yarn and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and feeling better = happy girls.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Kitchen Spa

"Simplicity is indeed often the sign of truth and a criterion of beauty."
~Mahlon Hoagland, from his book, Toward the Habit of Truth

If you're caught in this lovely blizzard-esque weather and have spent any significant amount of time outdoors, say perhaps, trying to chisel ice off of your car, you can understand the unfortunate plight of having dry, chapped hands.

Rather than unsuccessfully moisturizing 5 bizillion times a day with some chemical packed, synthetic hand lotion, why not whip up a gentle, moisture rich hand scrub?

I must admit, this lovely kitchen spa recipe has my hands feeling like a set of expensive silk sheets. I'm officially in love.

You better believe this already earned a spot on the "CK Can't Live Without List."
It's that amazing.


"He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything."
~Arabian Proverb

A lot of people ask me why I run.
Answer: Because I can.

When I was 12 years old, my world changed. I was no longer the pre-teen girl who strutted around in her cute bikini top and ate ice-cream at the pool with her friends. Rather I was the 12 year old on total bed rest, pumped full of drugs and praying for an end.

My heart no longer worked. More specifically, my Mitral Valve. I was in congestive heart failure and full of an infection known as Rheumatic Fever. Surgery was necessary, but not an option due to the severity of the infection running through my body. I waited, in bed, from May until October, when surgery was considered safe. Heart Surgery-- every young girl's dream come true.

But, if you take a walk through Children's Hospital, heart surgery seems minor. Heck, I felt like a wimp to only be having heart surgery. The cancer patients, those crippled with life-ending disease, the babies who who were kept alive by tiny tubes and monitors-- those were the tough ones. Me and my heart surgery were no big deal. Seriously.

My dad once said, "If you think you're having a bad day, take a walk through Children's Hospital."

So true. Kids aren't supposed to get sick- let alone die. Parents aren't supposed to keep vigil over their child's hospital bed. It isn't natural and it's not right. But, it happens-- everyday. Go walk through that hospital. I dare you. Your problems will seem like small potatoes.

I went back to Children's Hospital for a check-up on Tuesday, with the gentle prodding of my close friend and family. For the most part, I resist going to the doctor. I'm afraid. But, for the first time in two years, I returned to the same miraculous place that heals children and keeps families together.

Thankfully, I got a perfect bill of health. Not that I was expecting anything less, but it's always good to be reaffirmed. I was told that I am the healthiest patient they have ever seen in the cardiology department- and it was a sincere declaration. I was cleared to run my half-marathon and a full marathon and to do anything else that my strong heart desired.

Am I grateful? You bettcha. Am I happy? I'm elated.

Fourteen years ago, my life was changed. Having heart surgery wasn't always the easiest thing, but it's probably been the biggest blessing in my life. Through trials I have learned perseverance and through disappointment I've come to understand victory.

I will be the first Children's Hospital, cardiac patient to run a half-marathon or a full marathon.
There's one for the record book.

Why do I run?
Answer: Because I can.

*My sweet mama (she's the lovely lady in the photo) and I celebrated my wonderful appointment by doing a little shopping. How about these spring colors? Pretty, huh?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Letter to the Blizzard

"The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only."
~ Joseph Wood Krutch

Dear Bliz,

I risk sounding rude, but I must tell you that your little antics drive my Chad-o insane. As you probably already know, most of the north-east finds itself safely indoors, enjoying hot cocoa, movies or long winter naps.

But not sir-ree. He constantly spends his free time shoveling and cleaning out the driveway and dusting off the cars. Recently though, I've become quite concerned. You see, he deems it perfectly necessary to shovel the roof. Yes, the roof of the house.

I understand that you're having a blast unleashing your unharnessed fury upon us small and meek mortals, but seriously, do you understand? My husband has taken to shoveling the roof! And, unfortunately he's been up there 3 or 4 times since Saturday. Forgive me, but I've lost count.

I'm in a rough spot here. I kinda like, I mean I really like, all of this snow. I find it cozy and relaxing, but then again, I'm not out climbing around on the roof. I'm fully enjoying my snowday vacations and making the most of this unplanned time off.

The boy, however, doesn't feel the same way. He's annoyed. And, perhaps a bit paranoid about the roof caving in. I tend to think he might be acting a bit extreme, but I suppose it pays to be prepared.

In closing, I just wanted to ask that you keep up the good work- at least well enough to cancel school- but take it a bit easier on dear Chad-0. He just might lose it. Or fall. Yikes!

Thanks for listening.

Snow Much Fun

"The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball."
~Doug Larson

I started out last Saturday day with a pile of ironing and a boat-load of laundry. No thanks. Most weekends I iron and iron and then iron a bit more. I fold piles of under-roos, stack towels, and do that flippie thing with socks.

But, as I watched the Blizzard of 2010 pour heaping piles of snow upon my little neighborhood, I suddenly felt these tiny little pangs of silliness and irresponsibility. Without hesitating, I text messaged my friend, Alicia.

Me: "Have snow pants?"
Her: "Yes, why?"
Me: "We are walking to Starbucks."
Her: "Sounds fun. Let's go."

Twenty minutes later, I walked through the snow covered streets to pick her up. Our little snow adventure turned into an entire afternoon of fun, laughs and memory making. So much for that laundry. It wasn't seen again until 9:30 pm on Monday night.

We probably walked through 6 miles of thick, ankle deep snow. And, due to the 33 inches of fluff, Starbucks actually closed. No worries. Sheetz came to the rescue, and their coffee proved quite a warm treat.

Severe snow storms prove highly entertaining for people such as myself. It almost seems as if all the laws and rules that typically apply, are thrown out the window and into the sub-zero air. Fun!

As we walked down the middle of Main Street, going the wrong direction, we passed this lovely ATV. We also had encounters with the National Guard and a few snowmobiles that were serving as rescue vehicles for our fire department. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

I can honestly say that the Starbucks Walk turned into one of the most fun adventures I've had in a long time. I mean really, how many times can you just toss on some snow pants, walk down the middle of every major road in town and drink coffee with good friends?

Live the moment. Live every day like it's your last.

A New Favorite

"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."
- La Rochefoucauld

Not working much (Thank you snow!) has afforded me the opportunity to play around in the kitchen, experiment with new foods and dine on some delicious treats.

Recently I've become obsessed with quinoa. The yum factor and texture have my taste buds smiling and my brain thinking up new ways to incorporate this little grain into more meals and recipes.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers, anyone?
Veggies and beans and quinoa not only exist as the perfect pepper stuffer, but also provide quite the protein kick and nutritional value.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Quiet Morning

"Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open."
~BKS Iyengar

Yesterday, as the snow tumbled from the sky and the roads piled high with slush and ice, I used my amazingly accurate teacher's intuition to predict another day off from school.

Although my phone didn't ring with the cancellation news until sometime early this morning, I pretty much figured my 'no school prediction' would be correct.

Since I was so super-positive of my approaching day off, I decided to spend last night baking up this extremely tasty and wonderfully healthy homemade vegan granola. However, I might have done myself more harm than good-- I can't stop eating it.

Today, however, I had a most wonderful time. Me and CT sat in complete silence, ate berry yogurt with homemade granola and watched the snow flip-flop in the bitter wind.

Quiet, peaceful mornings and an unscheduled day off from work- there's nothing better.

Puppy Paddle- The Freestyle Version

"Whoever said you can't buy happiness
forgot about little puppies."
~ Gene Hill

Charlie T. and Papa Bear enjoyed a little playtime in the puffy white fluff. Thirty-three inches of snow provided the perfect outlet for frolicking, fetching and taking a winter swim.

Not to brag or anything, but CT has always been quite the master at the puppy paddle. You should see her go when we take her to the lake or even when we give her a shower. It's priceless.

She loved the snow, but more importantly, she earned her snow swimming badge. Without a doubt, this puppy is tops.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tiny Sweet Feets

"An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he- for some reason- thinks it would be a good idea to give them."
~ Andy Warhol

I'm slightly obsessed with knitting up these tiny footies. I could seriously sit and make these all the live long day. Therefore, I'm pretty much thrilled that the snow shall fly this weekend and reach heights of up to 13 inches.

If you're planning on contacting me on Saturday or Sunday, you may try the gym or the couch. My plans include running, knitting and eating.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Those Days, These Days

"As busy as I claim to be,
I've still got the greatest job in the world."
~Peter Criss

I remember a specific conversation between my college roommate and I. We sat, perched on our apartment floor with a taco pizza, some DOS, more commonly known as Diet Orange Soda, and watched our favorite television show, "Felicity." How I would love to warp back to 1704 and relive some of those moments. Good times. Na- scratch that. Awesome times.

We studied a lot- probably too much. We both put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves and success served as the only option. However, Tuesday nights were our nights to take the hour from 9:00-10:00 to eat and talk and forget about looming tests and unwritten papers. We hauled ourselves out of the library and set up shop in the Utopian world of NYC, where our friend Felicity served coffee at Dean and Deluca and dated an exceptionally attractive guy named Nole. I still hate myself for not living that cosmopolitan dream, but that's another post for another time.

I remember how we were totally angry with all the work we had to accomplish. Actually, I specifically remember staying up until 4:30 am that night/morning, studying and practicing problems for my Statistics mid-term that would promptly arrive at 10:30 am.

We'd have given our right arms to trade places with Felicity. She had an amazing industrial-style apartment, studied art at NYU and had that easy, relaxed style that couldn't be copied. And, naturally, she never had big tests or insanely long papers to write. She painted at an easel with natural sunshine streaming through the window. Na- we weren't jealous- not one bit.

However, that spohisticated life wasn't in our cards. We found ourselves bogged down with uninspiring work: statistics problems, f-scales, standard analysis of the Freudian Theory as depicted in the movie "American Beauty," and a 4 page proof for Descarte's philosophy, "Cogito, ergo sum."

At some point, between the chowing and studying, I commented, "I can't wait to get a job. Then, when my work day is over I can go home and be finished- done for the day. There won't be any more of this studying every free moment, hauling books around and being a slave to my safely guarded stash of floppy discs."

We talked about this for awhile, about how nice it was going to be when we could leave work and go home and "exist."

Well, go figure, but that never really happened.
I've found myself so busy these days. My days are packed with work, meetings, grading papers, planning lessons, analyzing my assessment data, differentiating my instruction, finishing report cards and thinking about all the other things I need/should be doing to help push my students to the next level. I type plans at home, grade papers at the kitchen table and research the latest books while sitting at my couch.

So much for that innocent conversation on one December evening in 2003.
At least some young student who recently celebrated her birthday brought me this cute mini-cupcake. I didn't eat it though-- I gave it to one of my munchkins.
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