Beautiful snow

Last week we had another bit of snow. (That was the snow before today’s snow, and Sunday’s snow, and then the two snows before that.) It seems every time Boston gets a foot or more of snow, we get about 2 or 3 inches. And I have to admit, I don’t mind one bit (sorry, Boston!). 2 or 3 inches is quite manageable, and fun to play in. However, this particular dumping was the most beautiful snow any of us had ever seen.  Normally, snow just seems to clump together into these big lumps, but this time you could see individual snowflakes stacked up to make the piles of snow. The sun would reflect off them, and you could see all their spectacular beauty. I tried taking some photos, but was really unsuccessful. Maybe these will give you a little idea of what it was like.

DSC_0091 DSC_0079 DSC_0078
Now, if you want to learn how to take photos of snowflakes, don’t ask me how! But this guy… wow! Scroll down the page to see some incredible specimens.

Even if my snowflake photography was a bit of a major flop, playing outside in the snow with the kids was not! This snow was light, fluffy, beautiful stuff to play in, and also really good for making snowballs!

DSC_0088 DSC_0087 DSC_0083

Posted in Photography, snow, Weather | Leave a comment

You can’t see me!

At lunch the other day, Laurelin was playing peek-a-boo with her bib, which was hilariously cute, because she’d stare out the neck hole at us thinking she was invisible!

Posted in Funny things, Kids | 1 Comment

It’s been a decade

Like I said last week, it’s been cold here! However, Ben and I did have a blessed little escape from the cold back in January for 3 nights, when we eloped to Jamaica while my parents looked after our kids. Wait, you can’t elope when you’re already married… Well, it was to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We figured a decade is a pretty momentous occasion, so we decided to do something pretty momentous. Jamaica was fantastic — a really relaxing few days, the snorkeling amazing (which we did every day right off the cliffs of our hotel and one day at a nearby reef), the weather perfect, and the company just like the weather.

It was fun to walk to the nearby town one day and get a taste of local culture. I’d say it felt like Africa in the Caribbean, which probably isn’t very original. We bought some trinkets and I got my hair braided. We also had the yummiest fruit popsicles ever.

The hotel where we were staying had lovely gardens with all sorts of interesting plants.

We were right on the ocean, and had stunning views especially of the sunsets. Each of the 3 sunsets we saw were different!

Our hotel was lovely — the setting beautiful, the staff super-friendly, and the whole atmosphere just so relaxing. If it weren’t for these photos, I’d think it was just a dream!

I have been so blessed to be married to Ben for the last 10 years. I can rave about all his wonderful qualities for hours, but it’ll make him blush. :-) You could say I was just a child when I said ‘yes’ (I was just 19!), but I still reckon it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

May there be many more decades!

Posted in Being tourists, Jaunts out of NYC | 6 Comments

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Last night the girls had a lovely surprise of some cards from their cousins (thanks, Ilse, Estelle and Hendrik!). What was funny to us was that they asked how our summer has been, which of course, it very much has not been. It is well and truly winter here! In fact, we seem to get almost weekly dumpings of snow and then it gets so cold that everything turns to ice. Earlier this week we had some ice rain after snow, which made things slippy-slidey and treacherous, but also produced some pretty impressive icicles. They were hanging from pretty much any surface they could cling to. The next day was sunny all day, and it wasn’t until late afternoon that I got a chance to take some photos — you’d think that by this time they’d all have melted… many had, but there were still lots! Needless to say, it’s cold here. :-)

Posted in Weather | 2 Comments

Christmas 2014

This year was the first year I hosted all of Christmas (meaning both our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations), and it was fun!  We had my parents with us, which was very special, and we also hosted James and Laura Williams and Laura’s friend, Ella.

Traditionally, my side of the family have our main gift-giving on Christmas Eve, along with a finger food dinner. We start our celebration with Bible reading and carol singing and then proceed to open the presents. There’s the job of official ‘present hander-outer’, which this year was shared by Marica and Esther. We try to take the time to watch people open their gifts, to appreciate it with them, and for the recipient to thank the giver. We don’t want a mob swarming the gift pile! :-)

On Christmas Day, we started off with some coffee and monkey bread. We were keen to attend a church service, but the church we normally attend in Manhattan didn’t have a Christmas Day service, so we thought about it and decided to try out the local Catholic church, which was a new experience for most of us. There church is a block from our house and is very large and beautiful. The singing was pretty good and the hymns all familiar; the message was sound, but we all thought that he was onto something really good and when he finished what we thought was the intro, we were just settling into our seats waiting for him to dig deeper into what he had started. Unfortunately the intro was all of it!

After church, we came home and got ready for our Christmas Dinner. Rather delicious, even if I say so myself. :-)

Another Christmas over, another big year at an end.

Posted in Christmas, Family, Food, Friends | 2 Comments

Joyous December

December is probably my favourite month of the year. I love the anticipation of Christmas, celebrating Advent, and all that it means: the King of the Universe becoming man to reconcile and restore us to Himself. Mind-blowing, yet so easy a story to become used to and complacent about.

December included many of the usual traditions like

decorating… This was the first year we had a real tree! The kids and I went and picked it out in the pouring rain, but it was worth it.

(A reminder about photos: if you want to view them larger, click on one of them below, and you’ll get a slideshow with bigger photos!)

a Christmas service at church which the the whole family had part in, except Laurelin! I played violin, Ben sang in the choir, and the kids were part of a presentation,

and baking… (though I cheated, and bought kits for the gingerbread houses). Here (and in the painting photos above) we are with our little mini co-op group (our family and my friend Damaris’ kids who get together once a week for piano lessons, Spanish, Social Studies and Art). For the houses we were helped by our Christmas guests, James and Laura and Laura’s friend Ella.

For Advent, I worked through an Advent devotional that I found to be a big blessing, called The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I highly recommend it. I think I’ll be reading it every Advent from now on!

This year we had the added blessing of having my parents here for a visit over part of December and January. We spent most of the time with them relaxing at home, or doing activities that were close-by, but we did manage to fit in a 3-night stint up to the Adirondacks. It’s the same place we stayed when they visited us in 2011. This time there was snow everywhere and it was cold. Thankfully our cottage was nice and cozy!

We spent most of our time reading, playing games and eating yummy food inside; and sledding and playing in the snow outside. It was a really great relaxing few days right before the busyness of Christmas week.

I could carry on and tell you about Christmas, but I think that would make this post way too long, so I’ll save that for next week!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Homemade nutella

I’ve always wanted to try making a version of Nutella at home, so recently I tried it. There are oodles of recipes online, and the one I tried is from here. It calls for coconut sugar, which I think is a bit of a fad food (not to mention its sustainability is questionable), so I used regular sugar and maple syrup. It is rather delicious, but quite different from regular Nutella. Ben reckons he likes it better because it has a slightly coarser texture. I’m sure you could mix it for ages and get it super smooth, but I tend to have a bad habit of trying to make things like this right at the same time as dinner, so I take short cuts.

Here’s how to do it if you want to try it yourself.

Roast 1 1/2 cups of hazelnuts in a 300F oven for 20 minutes or so. Pour them into a tea towel and rub off as much of the skins as you can, then place them in a food processor.

DSC_0116 (Large)

Process the hazelnuts until you’ve made a hazelnut butter. Throw in a pinch of salt, 3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons maple syrup and 6 or so Tablespoons of water.

The first time I made this, I thought I could just cut out the sugar and water and use maple syrup instead. It did not work! It really needs the water for it to become glossy.

DSC_0127 (Large)

Whizz it all together until you have the glossiness and texture you want — play around with mixing it more or adding more water, cocoa or sugar to get the consistency and taste you want.

DSC_0130 (Large)

And there you go. A really tasty yummy chocolate spread that took hardly any time to make.

DSC_0131 (Large)

(And yes, a teaspoon might be making its way into that jar more often than a knife…)

Posted in Food, Recipes | 2 Comments