Clockwise from bottom right: Buttercup, Cinderella, Marigold,
Pinky and Biggie
It was 9* the other morning when I shuffled down the hill to let the chickens out. I had shoved my bare feet into my boots, the legs of J’s sweatpants bunched up around the tops. An old Parmesan cheese shaker full of scratch was stuffed into one pocket of my thrifted barn jacket and as I dumped my yogurt tub of apple cores and leftover peas into the run, I thought to myself, I probably ought to start wearing gloves to do this. I won’t call myself a Mainer just yet, but I think my blood might be getting thicker.
Speaking of that barn jacket. It’s exactly the style I drooled over in the LLBean catalog back in eighth grade when the popular girls were wearing them (in suburban Philadelphia – hah!). That one was navy blue, and deemed far too expensive at the time. Mine is red, and cost me a whopping $12 at Goodwill. It’s perfect for actually working outside. I don’t mind it getting dirty and it won’t get snagged on the chicken wire. And really, it’s probably better that I didn’t get one at full price way back when – it never would have gotten the workout it deserved!
It’s finals week here in our house, and in just a couple of days we will have survived the semester. It’s not been easy nor simple, and we’ve screwed up this crazily crafted schedule more than once, but we’ve made it. My office closes for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and there’s no school then either, so we’ll have a chance to unwind a bit without juggling classes and labs and assignments.
Fudge. I could probably eat a pound of fudge, by myself, in one sitting. No lie. When we’d go to the boardwalk in New Jersey as teenagers, others would be raving about the pizza or the fries. I’d stop at the Candy Kitchen and get a small box of fudge, maybe a quarter pound, and finish it off before the end of the night. My mom has a great fudge recipe that uses marshmallow fluff, but it’s a finicky concoction and you never know if it will turn out smoothly or get sugary. I cheat. This is microwave fudge: two cups of semi-sweet chips, a can of sweetened condensed milk, a tablespoon of salted butter and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Nuke it and stir it until smooth, spread it in a pan (greased or parchment-lined), and refrigerate it until it’s firm enough to cut. Neighbor gifts: done!
Our cards have been sent. My shopping is complete. I have one more project to finish, and lots of wrapping to do. Photos and greetings are arriving in our mailbox daily, and the UPS man plowed his own path to our door through the snow, yesterday and again today. Our girls fashioned a countdown chain to hang in the kitchen, and delight in ripping off the loops each morning. I’m baking again tomorrow, this time for the elementary school “cookie walk” fundraiser. Lots of Christmas-ing happening around here, and it’s just lovely.
What shape is your season taking this year?