Musings On A Dreary Day

It’s bleak and muddy here in southern Ohio and the barren landscape has left me feeling somewhat uninspired.

The last couple of months have been void of adventure and filled with a lot of work and much quiet time at home.

Part of me wants to head out on adventure and part wants to stay inside till things green up and look less depressing.

This is a season in my life – it happens the same time every year and will be over soon. While I have enjoyed the solace of home – reading, playing music, and relaxing – I hope to soon snap out of this annual funk so I can hit the trail and find some fun to tell you about!

A Blanket Of Snow

Snow finally found us yesterday. Not enough to be an inconvenience but enough to make things pretty. I’m hoping to take my camera for a little walk today but will be just as happy to settle in with a book and gaze out the window.

Southern Ohio in the winter tends to be dreary. A blanket of snow disguises the flaws and makes everything look better.

Around here

It’s a three day weekend for me so today marks the halfway point rather than the end of the weekend.

I’ve accomplished some things this weekend and failed miserably at others.

Yesterday featured some cleaning projects. This was a requirement because the house was littered with cat toys and things that little Scout had knocked on the floor. Johnny Cash sang about killing a man in Reno just to watch him die. Scout knocks things over just to watch them fall.

But my work ethic didn’t last long. It was raining and cold so I ended up in a comfy chair, determined to finish this book so I could move on to some less traumatic material.

This book is graphic, emotional and compelling. The author expertly weaves the story of Emmett Till into the context of the Jim Crow south to create a narrative that’s impossible to put down and hard to stomach all at the same time.

How anyone could be so hateful, so intolerant or so so certain of their superiority over another group of humans is beyond me. And yet, it relates closely to a lot of the sentiments we hear today in this country about immigrants and still about African Americans.

Around here, I’m also doing some cooking this weekend. Today I’ll make a bean and veggie soup, pancakes for the freezer and some granola for the pantry. Yesterday I adapted an internet veggie burger recipe to meet my needs and to use up some odds and ends of leftovers in the fridge.

It was far better than store bought veggie burgers and I know exactly what went into the mix. Interested? Here’s the recipe:

Brandi’s Quick Break From Reading To Make Dinner Veggie Burger

1 can pinto or black beans (drained and well rinsed)

3 Tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat but use what you have)

1/2 cup cooked vegetables – I didn’t cook mine but ran them through the food processor so they were finely chopped. Mine were onions, carrots, corn, spinach and mushrooms

Run the beans through the food processor and mix well with the other ingredients. Shape into patties and place on parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for nine minutes on each side or until a bit crisp.

This is an extremely forgiving recipe because it’s designed to use up what you have. Don’t have tomato paste? Use ketchup or maybe some salsa! Whatever veggies you have will do. Want to add a favorite seasoning? Go for it. Can’t eat them all right now? Freeze them.

It really is easy. My apologies for having no photo to share.

Instead, I will leave you with this image. I dared to move Scout’s tent from the kitchen to make mopping the floor a little easier. Here’s the aftermath. It seems there was some kind of riot.

Here’s hoping today is a good day for us all and that I make it back to the list of things I failed miserably at today!

Still Waiting For Snow

This winter has been extremely mild. So mild, in fact, that we’ve hardly seen any snow. Everyone is ecstatic except for me.

Ohio is bleak and ugly in the winter time. Trees are stripped of leaves. The grass is dead and things are muddy because we’ve seen lots of rain in lieu of snow. It’s depressing.

Snow makes everything look pretty, as though the world has been tucked in for a long nap under a fluffy white blanket. One of my favorite pastimes is stomping around in it with my camera, trying to find new ways to make the trees and hills of my yard look fresh and new in pictures.

I also enjoy hiking in it.

And, of course, spending a quiet weekend cozied up with a book in a chair where I can glance up at the falling snow Is nice too.

We often have snow for Martin Luther King weekend so I was hopeful. Nope. More rain.

So I continue to wait. . .

A Change Of Plans

Today’s post was supposed to be about a light display in a neighboring town. The plan was to go last night and grab a vegan burger from a mom and pop place in the neighborhood.

But the sun was shining yesterday and it was beautiful. Consequently, I made the game time decision to spend the morning hiking and stay home last night. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow!

That’s actually one benefit of being single – a gal can change her mind without considering anyone else’s feelings anytime she likes.

It’s dark when I leave work so hiking isn’t typically an option this time of year. It seemed smart to take advantage of the sunshine.

It was 30 degrees when I went into the woods and about 15 degrees warmer on exit. There weren’t many people out – mainly the hearty souls like me who really wanted to be in nature.

So it was a great day for a stretch of the legs and just what I needed to help clear my mind. In fact, I went in feeling a bit uptight but came out feeling great.

A quick trip through the antique mall yielded a new book. Afterward, a sandwich from a local deli resulted in an impromptu picnic. Hey! The sun was shining and it was above freezing! It was a perfect day for it!

It turned out to be a great day.

Nature was calling. I had to go. I’ve seen those Christmas lights before and they will be there later.

Cultivating a Better Life

I like to take vacation around the holidays. This period is perfect for a forced slow down, to transition from three seasons of busy into my season of quiet.

The rest of the year is occupied by a lot of running around but our unpredictable winter weather often makes it hard to get out. I look forward to this time of year- soft blankets and books, inside chores and quiet walks through the snow take the place of road trips, weekend adventures and breakfasts on the porch.

January is typically a no spend month for me. This organized spending fast means bills are paid and necessities purchased but making do is the common theme and there are no frivolous purchases. Recreational shopping is not allowed but that’s ok because there are many free ways to stay happily occupied.

I’m more apt to do puzzles, to go to bed early and to spin records while cleaning something on a Saturday afternoon.

Relaxation is key and I turn my attention inward, write more, focus on self improvement and on building a better life.

It’s a good time of year.

This vacation is about transitioning into that period. I spent a couple of days running around but today will bake Christmas cookies for my folks. From now until the New Year the plan is to be mostly domestic.

Although, if the weather is good, there may be one last little road trip for the year, a Christmas gift to myself. After Natalie died, I realized that life is too short to not live as we wish.

This week is also about refocusing on plant based eating, exercise and rest. The last couple of months have brought spurts of stress and busyness that have messed with my sleep and left me in a position that I’m glad to just eat vegetarian while away from home rather than the plant based food that makes me feel so good.

In other words, friends, I’m making this break exactly what I need it to be. My wish for all of you is that you get a few days each year to do that for yourself. Remember, today is a great time to start.

Project Time

When the weather turns cold and the snow starts to fly, I have to settle down and start organizing digital pictures.

There are duplicates and bad pictures that need to be deleted.¬† That’s time consuming but easy. However, some are organized by date and others by topic and this is where I run into trouble. In the long run, organizing by date doesn’t work because you have to know what year or month to look under to find anything. This works for birthdays and events you associate with a specific date but not much else.

So I think they need to be organized by topic and then by date but this part of the process sounds overwhelming. Plus, I have pictures burned to disc and saved on Snapfish but not anywhere else. Not to mention the stacks of prints waiting for albums.

If I get started this November, I should be all caught up in five or six years!

Who has tips for organizing digital photos? I would love to learn from your experience!