Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is winter over yet?

Ok, I don't know about anyone else, but I am done with winter.  It can stop at any time now.  
Perhaps I am just grumpy today.  I've been sick for about 2 weeks now and am tired of being exhausted all the time.  I have a long week ahead of me at work too, but it should be a good one.  
I've been training a batch of new employees and will be doing that for another month.  It is a great opportunity and I am happy they picked me to do it.  For those that don't know, I work in a call center for a major natural gas and electric provider in Michigan.  The company is great and the pay and benefits are hard to beat.  I've been in the call center for over 5 years now and am looking into opportunities to advance in the company.  This temporary training position can only help me in the long run.  
So, I've been trying to do the best job possible in this training position, but it hasn't been easy while sick. And the winter weather isn't helping.  My normal commute is 45 minutes to work each day, but the training job is even further away.  Now I drive 3 hours a day getting back and forth to work - but slippery, snowy roads increased that to 5 hours a few days last week.  Yuck!
Anyway, I do see an end in sight.  March is almost here and our high temperatures are in the mid 30s lately.  I thought I would post a cheery photo of cut flowers to make today a bit brighter.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wine making - cleared and complete

So, my wine has been sitting in it's gallon jar for quite a while now, doing it's magic.  It is finally done!
But, I need to back up a second here.  This photograph was shot a couple of weeks ago.  What you are seeing here is a layer of sediment that has settled to the bottom of the jar.  The wine has to be syphoned off into a clean jar and the sediment gets left behind.
I've syphoned it a couple of times since this photo, and the wine is nice and clear now.  Potassium sorbate (also available at the brewing supply store or on-line) can be used to make sure that fermentation is stopped.  After that, you can sweeten the wine by adding sugar.  Mine is sweet enough for me -- and I usually prefer semi-sweet wines.  I'd like to have some of my wine loving friends taste it and see what they think.
I really enjoyed trying my hand at wine making.  I have about $100 invested into the whole thing and I have 4 bottles of wine and enough supplies left over to make many more batches.   Hmm... what kind of wine should I make next?

Monday, February 14, 2011

My favorite things 2

I love my South-facing windows in my kitchen and dining room.  When the sun is shining, the whole room heats up enough to make the furnace stop running for the entire day.  Especially on these nice 40 degree days we've been having.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More tea towels from Heidi

I got such a great response from my post about my tea towels that I thought you might be interested is seeing some more.  My good friend, Heidi, shared a photo of hers on her blog.
Heidi is one of my friends from way-back.  My mom says that we were on the same diaper changing table in the church nursery.  I only saw her every four years while her family was on furlough from their missionary work in West Africa.  We grew closer in our junior year of high school, which is when we started talking about the possibility of me going to Mali to visit her.  One thing lead to another, and that possibility turned into reality after our senior year.

My 7 months in Mali were life changing.  Heidi and I got involved with a literacy program through Gospel Missionary Union - along with another gal from Nebraska and another missionary "kid" that lived in the same area Heidi's family was in.  The four of us spent 2 months learning Bambara -- at least we learned enough to get by.  Then we moved into a more remote area and taught people to read (in Bambara) for the last 5 months.  It is hard to describe how much an experience like that can impact a person.  Mali is one of the poorest countries on the planet - but the people are so generous.  And they are so happy too!  They really taught me more than I would ever hope to teach them.

Anyway, Heidi is now a wife and momma, and they have all moved back to Mali to be full time missionaries.  She absolutely amazes me!  Although we don't get to see each other very frequently - we share a definite bond.  Heidi, I know you read my blog frequently -- I hope you don't mind that I shared a bit about you.  Oh, and I am still working on that package for your family as well.  Gonna have fun shopping for a few things later today.  :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

After the blizzard

All photos shot Thursday morning at 9 AM after the big blizzard.  Very cold morning!  

The trees in the front yard.

Along the back side of the house (peeking out our slider).  The tracks are from Mama Kitty (I feel badly for her - she always looks so cold) and I believe the tracks at the tree line are deer tracks.

The view from the driveway of our side yard (hope to put blueberry bushes up there).

The drive in to work on Wednesday morning was horrible -- but not an option.  We were still in the middle of the blizzard.  Our road was not cleared and I was scraping the bottom of my car along the snow all the way down the road.  The highway was treacherous, but people were driving slowly and I didn't see too many accidents.  Once in town, the side streets were a mess.  The trick is to not stop moving.  Once you stop, you can't get the momentum to go forward again.  It took about an hour and a half and some white knuckles to get to work that day.  Many of my co-workers were late or didn't make it in.  People with normal jobs had the day off -- and all the schools were closed.  We haven't had a storm like that for years!
We hired our neighbor to come over and plow the driveway.  It was worth it though -- I didn't have the time or capacity to shovel 5 tons of snow off of our driveway after an 11 hour day at work and 2 1/2 hours of stressful driving to and from.  $40?  Sure!  Cheaper than a visit to the chiropractor...