Holiday Hot Cocoa

First the quick way, then the “real” way. Basic but nice: Hot chocolate mix and hot water Tea spoon of decaf instant coffee Cream or half n half or almond milk to bring it down to drinking temperature 2 drops peppermint extract OR two shakes ground nutmeg Stir gently and thoroughly Whipped cream topping and sprinkles Fancy way: 2 spoons baking cocoa with just enough boiling water to dissolve it Confectioners sugar to taste, gently stirred in 2-3 spoons brewed decaf coffee Cool milk or cream added to desired drinking temp (Optional: Stir in using a milk frother for more … Continue reading Holiday Hot Cocoa

Reflecting on 2020

What a memorable blur of a year. Some days and weeks slid by without events to mark them. Other days, especially holidays, birthdays, milestones, and anniversaries, stand out for their stark contrast to past celebrations. Now the weather is getting colder, it takes a little more effort to get out the door for a therapeutic dose of nature. It is worth it! Beauty is everywhere ephemeral. This year nature put on especially good displays in the garden, in the forest, and on the lake. Probably, we were just more aware of the show, being on lockdown. The whitetail deer fawns … Continue reading Reflecting on 2020

Sources for Free Dead Trees

Untreated wood chips layered in abundance make plants happy. Mara Grey in The Lazy Gardener (a particularly nice and guilt-free gardening book) recommends, among other things, an abundance of mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. It keeps down weeds, helps balance out moisture, and provides more of a natural compost-in-place of wood chips. Especially for perennial shrubs, this mimics nature. In my neck of the woods, we have identified the 3 easiest sources of free mulch. The list is ongoing… Local power company. I did not expect this one, but in a region with plentiful trees, the power company is responsible to … Continue reading Sources for Free Dead Trees

Hunkering Down for Winter

In an unseasonably warm November, there has been a lot of extra time for outdoor stuff. Spreading mulch in the garden. So much mulch. Splitting and stacking firewood. Clearing the gutters. A lot of trees means a lot of leaves. Cutting down dead trees. Garden rearranging to prepare for spring. Setting up new raised beds and a straw bale garden, piling on so much ash and compost and wood chip mulch to percolate for next spring. I like to take down some of the fences and let the deer eat the dried up plants. The return to our regularly scheduled … Continue reading Hunkering Down for Winter

We Got a Woodstove!

This was a home upgrade some time in the making. We really wanted a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove when we were looking at places to live. In our corner of the world, firewood is readily available. Winter is not usually a serious affair here. One idiosyncrasy of the home, though, is that all of the heat is electric. No natural gas furnace to fall back on. Big storms are uncommon, but like to show up with a vengeance once in a while. There is more to it than just throwing some logs in the fireplace. Too low of a … Continue reading We Got a Woodstove!

3 Ways to Stay Warm in a Power Outage

From least involved to most involved method. Body heat. The lowest of low tech. In my home, this would mean gathering humans and pets into the smallest or second smallest room and hunkering down. With a goodly supply of sleeping bags, traditional bedding, and perhaps some jury-rigged extra insulation over the window(s), this would be a surprisingly effective method in a mild scenario. For instance, in a power outage of 72 hours or less, with cold weather but not subzero temperatures. Candles. This adds a layer of complexity, but is still very manageable. Even one or two emergency candles will … Continue reading 3 Ways to Stay Warm in a Power Outage

Top 5 Steps to a Cozy Autumn

First, comfy clothes. As I write this in November 2020, we are all experts on lounge wear, athletic wear, and pajamas. Even for those of us who are still working, there is nothing much to do the rest of the time. I most enjoy getting into comfy clothes after a good run or work out, but a lazy Saturday from start to finish has its place too, especially after a long shift or when it’s your first day off in a long time. Favorites include: Flannel pajamas. Leggings. Thermal shirts. Sweaters. A little something called “cabin socks,” which were a … Continue reading Top 5 Steps to a Cozy Autumn

Celebrate Harvest Season

Once again, it is my favorite time of the year! The leaves change color and fall, and it is time to put the garden to sleep for the long winter. Reflecting on the summer garden, I realized that we have actually made a lot of progress in a relatively short time. There was a late frost, and significant competition for our produce from the deer, squirrels, and birds. Now that the harvest is wrapping up, here are a few of the successes after a couple of years in progress: Increased the number of raised beds Added mulch (and learned how … Continue reading Celebrate Harvest Season