Monday, October 26, 2009

one step closer

That’s right- Michael and I are one step closer to our dream of owning a life size version of Monopoly. I’m hoping a four foot tall thimble shows up next.


Sunday, October 18, 2009


What a cold couple of days. On Wednesday, I was convinced I had slept right through my second favorite season and had woken up to winter. I am trying to convince myself that my beloved fall is just going through a phase and soon it will be back to its old self. Crisp air (but no more of this 45 degree nonsense), crunchy leaves, blue skies and puffy clouds. Surely this isn’t the beginning of winter- I don’t think I’m ready. (On a side note, I was talking to a friend from Washington state today and I remarked on how cold it had been and how that  isn’t normal for this time of year. She said, “You know, ever since I moved here a year and a half ago, people keeping saying that the weather isn’t usually like this.” It’s true- our weather is so weird.)

The only good thing about winter is that when it has gone on forever, and I’m certain that I can’t take another day, spring (my absolute favorite season) comes along and kicks winter’s butt.

I’m trying to make the most being cold (ALWAYS SO COLD!) I’ve got a cat laying across my lap , a cup of earl grey, and I’m wearing the best slippers ever. Known as my smurf slippers, these shoes are the equivalent of sticking your feet into a couple of pillows. Very soft and very warm.


Seriously, I know a thing or two about staying warm. One Christmas, everything Michael got me was for “Project Warm Nat.” I ended up with a Mary Poppins coat, some cashmere lined leather gloves, a hat and scarf set, and my favorite thing ever- the wood stove. There are moments in the depths of winter that I stand as close to the stove as possible. I have to consciously tell myself not to touch it- I just want to wrap my arms around it and give it a hug. It’s almost worth being cold just to experience the pleasure of finally being warm. Almost.

The only problem with the wood stove is that I’m not very good at making it work. Despite this significant failing, the wood stove and I remain on very good terms. I know some of you, with your fancy fireplaces that come with switches, don’t understand. Honestly, I kind of wish I didn’t understand. It’s incredibly frustrating to have this thing- this key to my happiness- sitting just 3 feet away from me and instead of emanating 600+ degree heat and driving Michael into another room or outside altogether, it stands there silent, cold. This winter I am determined to possess the knowledge and skills to make the wood stove go.

First, there needs to be wood available and split- I have tried splitting wood exactly one time. I was quickly convinced that anything requiring an axe is not my domain. It’s not that I don’t want to do physical labor, but more that I have terrible aim and I was pretty nervous that I was going to hit my shins with the axe instead of the log. Here’s my plan for this- we have a friend who has a hydraulic log splitter. I’m hoping to convince him to bring it by one day and just get all the wood split in one go. Then I can stack it somewhere to keep it dry. 

Once you have wood split and ready to go, you still have to light the fire. I’m just going to go ahead and admit it- I suck at starting fires. I’ve tried so many times (usually out of desperation because Michael isn’t home and I need to force myself to get out from under the electric blanket) but I have yet to successfully light a single fire. The key, I learned towards the end of that first winter, is to never let the fire go out. There have been (more than a few) tears shed over a fire that went completely out.  So, my plan for this is to set my alarm if needed, get up at 3am, and keep that fire going. It’s just not worth the heartache.

So, there’s my plan. I’ll have to let you know how it goes. Oh, and if you have any wood that you want to get rid of, let me know. Oak, walnut, maple, 2x4’s, broken chairs… I’ll take it. I’ve discovered that 100 year old wood paneling burns very hot- it’s my preferred fuel, really.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

the power of a name

Michael is always insisting that we need to get a kitten. When we first got married I thought that his desire for a cat was kind of cute and so I gave in. I didn’t realize that his desire wasn’t for a cat, but for a kitten. He loves how playful they are and I have to admit that kittens do melt my heart a little, too.

So we got Elle all those years ago. (Seven years ago, to be precise.) And she’s a great cat. 


But, it wasn’t long after Elle was full grown and stopped being so playful that Michael started to insist that we needed another kitten. And so we got Joe.

Joe in boxHe’s not so playful anymore. (And yes, that is the box where I keep my underwear. What? you don’t keep your undies in an old vodka box?) It really is crazy how much I love this cat. I love that he rolls around on the floor, all stretched out, meowing for you to feed him. He is always hungry. Always. I should have known something was up when we were choosing which kitten to adopt and I read the card that described Joe. It said “He sure does love to eat.” Yeah.

When we moved back to Fuquay, the house came with another cat.

Cat I have resisted Michael’s insistence that we adopt this cat. I don’t want another cat. No one ever talks about the “crazy cat man with four cats” but everyone knows about the “crazy cat lady with four cats.” Plus, this cat is semi-feral and would undoubtedly beat up Elle and Joe. And… he’s not the prettiest cat I’ve ever seen. He likes to sleep under the cars which means that he is regularly covered in oil and looks dirty. Despite all this and after weeks of threatening to take him to the pound, I started feeding him. I’m still resisting the idea that we own another cat, and so I have refused to name him.

We call him Cat.

Wouldn’t you know it… a few weeks after moving back, another cat showed up. And of course we started feeding it because we are suckers.

other cat 1This cat, or as we call him- Other Cat- is unlike any feline I have ever known. He is incredibly affectionate. He follows me around the yard and if I happen to sit down in one of the rocking chairs outside, he jumps up in my lap every time. He reminds me of the story in the Bible about the woman who was forgiven much and therefore loved much. This cat seems to be pretty aware of how much his life used to suck and is therefore grateful for the love and attention that we give him.

There’s yet another cat that keeps coming around. I don’t have a picture because he is NOT our cat. Michael has named him Ugly Cat. I’m hoping that we can encourage the neighbors to feed him. I just don’t think I can handle being the “crazy cat lady with five cats.” That’s just excessive.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

reason #159

There are many reasons why I love working from home. Last week I discovered another one.

sweet potato saladOne afternoon I decided that I wanted to try a recipe for a warm salad made with sweet potatoes, red onions, and chickpeas. Considering that Michael will only eat one of the three previously mentioned ingredients, I had no intention of making it for dinner. In fact, he gives me such a hard time about any kind of beans that I’ve stopped trying to sneak them into things. By being home for lunch, I can make all the gross-but-good-for-you meals involving beans, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and squash that I want.  I was in heaven this week when I ate beans and rice for lunch every day. (Maybe my idea of luxury needs to be slightly refined. Hmm…)

The salad turned out great. I changed it quite a bit from the original recipe (which called for butternut squash, tahini and mint, none of which I had on hand.) I’m really bad about measuring, and I made this last week so I might be forgetting something, but here’s my best guess at what I did.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad, serves about 4

3 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 a red onion, diced

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

fresh basil, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1-2 tbs balsamic vinegar

salt/pepper to taste

Coat the sweet potato cubes in 1/2 of the olive oil (about 1 tbs) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 375 for about 35-45 minutes. After the sweet potatoes are done, combine them in a bowl with the chickpeas and red onions. In a medium bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar and the other tbs. of olive oil (can use flaxseed oil if desired) along with the basil and additional pepper. Drizzle over the potato/chickpea mixture. The salad is great warm or cold.

it’s about time

pottery wheel and chair

Finally, after many, MANY months my wheel is back where it belongs. I have had such a good time this week playing with clay out in the barn. Fresh inspiration from a friend was just what I needed to get myself back out there.

candle holders 2Candle holders

casserole dish  Casserole Dish